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Snooping Little Kid

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"Well, well, well, what have we here? A snooping little girl!"
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There's a kid, usually a preteen, who thinks something suspicious is going on. Those men talking in low voices, that guy who keeps sneaking away... what are they up to? Enter the Snooping Little Kid.

The Snooping Little Kid will hide where the bad guys are and try to listen in on their conversations, usually picking up just enough information to prove that something sinister is going on, even if the kid doesn't know exactly what. That often is what kickstarts the plot, or at least advances it into high gear.

Sometimes the Snooping Little Kid is spotted, or manages to make a noise that draws the attention of the bad guys. In that case, the kid will either make a narrow escape, or end up being captured and Bound and Gagged.

Common trope in adventure or mystery stories, or stories with such themes, especially when aimed at children. Happens in books as well as cartoons, TV shows, and movies.

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If the kid does more investigative work than just eavesdropping, they're a Kid Detective. If they actually foil the bad guys' plot, they're a Kid Hero. You Meddling Kids can result once the bad guy is caught.

Do Not Try This at Home — tell a responsible adult or call the cops if you see something suspicious!


Examples:

    open/close all folders 
    Anime and Manga 
  • Ayumi, Mitsuhiko, and Genta in Case Closed. They style themselves Kid Detectives, but aren't quite up to snuff without Conan or Haibara helping them. They do show potential though, when they try to beat Conan to solving a mystery. They still need help, but Hattori mostly drops hints for them to work it out themselves. They also provide the occasional "Eureka!" Moment.
  • Suika in Dr. STONE. She often uses this skill to spy on people and gather information for Senku without being noticed.
  • Hayato Kawajiri from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure fits this trope to a tee. Near the end of Diamond is Unbreakable, he discovers that his father has been replaced by Serial Killer Kira while spying on his parents and almost defeats Kira without having a Stand. It's implied that he has been doing this for quite a while, which leads to some Fridge Horror.
  • In Maiden Rose, while everyone is in a fluster about the train about to invade the territory, cadet Yamamoto notices a suspicious guy and convinces his friends to follow him. They discover that the man is a spy passing information to Eurote, and the boys' efforts end up revealing that there are in fact a lot of spies in their ranks, adding to the chaos.
  • Anya in Spy X Family sometimes stumbles into a plot involving one or both of her parents, and has to be careful not to reveal her Psychic Powers or that she knows that her parents are a spy and an assassin, as she subtly (or not so subtly) pushes them in the right direction.

    Comic Books 
  • Sometimes they show up in Diabolik. Being very cunning, the titular Villain Protagonist is terrified by them. And with reasons, given that random kids nearly get him arrested on multiple occasions and get him to crash his car once.
  • A curious example can be found in the Disney Comics based on the Little Hiawatha shorts, which are basically family sitcom adventures about a little Native American boy. Whenever there are enemy tribes, dishonest white traders, or greedy settlers wanting to steal stuff off tribal lands about, Hiawatha (who is eight, tops) and his little sister Sunflower are be the only ones who notice. Apparently Adults Are Useless regardless of your ethnicity.
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    Films — Animated 
  • An American Tail:
    • Fievel sneaks into the secret hideout of the cats and finds out that Warren T. Rat is really a cat in disguise. He ends up captured and locked in a bird cage.
    • The same thing happens in the sequel An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, when he overhears Cat R. Waul's evil plan to lure the New York mice out west so he can eat them. When discovered, they boot him off the train.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Crooked House, the 12-year-old Josephine spends all of her free time sneaking around the mansion, spying and eavesdropping on her family and writing everything down in her notebook. She even has a telescope in her treehouse that allows her to see into her step-grandmother's room. She is convinced that she knows everyone's dirty secrets, and two attempts on her life convince Charles that she knows the identity of the murderer.
  • In Little Women's 1949 The Film of the Book, Beth (Margaret O'Brien) and Amy (Elizabeth Taylor) fulfill the role at the Christmas party (which is a mix between the Christmas party of the book and the parties Meg attends when in the Moffat household). They overhear some Gossipy Hens speculating about their belief that Marmee wants Jo or Meg to go Gold Digger mode on Laurie, which causes both girls to almost shut down. The same thing happens in the 1994 PG-rated version.
  • Max in Max Rules, a Spy Kids family movie knockoff in which a bunch of kids try to foil the plans of a baddie to steal a high-tech FBI chip. Max and his friends are usually sneaking around trying to find clues, and in one instance, he and the kids are caught by the bad guy they're spying on and left duct taped inside a car.
  • Alexander in Murder, She Said. Miss Marple harnesses his inquisitive nature by inveigling him into her investigation and using him as source of inside information on the Ackerthorpe family.
  • The President's Analyst, stressed out and paranoid, flees his job, slipping out of Washington with a tourist couple he ingratiates himself with, posing as a Presidential staff member interviewing "typical American families". At their home he telephones his own analyst, still on edge, and their son listens in with his "junior spy kit" wiretap. In the next scene Federal agents are at the door, implying that the kid ratted him out.

    Literature 
  • This happens in Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, as Michelle Day is strangled to death thanks to her eavesdropping.
  • One of the first things Zak Arrandar does in Galaxy of Fear is wonder why his new guardian has never told anyone his first name, and try to break into his cabin to find out. He finds said guardian shapeshifting into dangerous creatures for practice. Practice for what, Zak wonders.
    Hoole's gaze was like a blaster bolt. "For eating annoying small boys."
  • A Game of Thrones:
    • Subverted with Bran Stark, who overhears the queen and her brother's plan, and even sees them having sex. He gets spotted and thrown out the window he was perched on, putting him into a coma. An assassin almost kills him in his unconscious state too. The assassin, however, was sent as an act of mercy by a psychopath who, like most everyone else, thought the fall was an accident, and when Bran wakes up he doesn't remember anything about what he saw anyway. He also has other worries, like having been crippled by said fall, and then manifesting Psychic Powers.
    • Subverted again when his sister Arya witnesses a nefarious conversation between two mysterious figures. When she tries to tell this to her father, he disbelieves her of course. However, Arya isn't able to do anything with the information as other, different plots reach their conclusion. Of course, she could've been a bit more credible if she didn't mention the hall of monsters and the wizard.
  • Children's book and later movie Harriet the Spy. She's not so much a spy as a snoop, and snoops for the sake of it.
  • P.T. Wilkie hides and listens in on other people's conversations quite a bit in Home Sweet Motel. It's how he learns that Mr. Pompano and Arnold want to tear down the motel and build a bunch of condos on the land, and how he and Gloria learn that Johnny and Bob Jones are the Sneemer Brothers, and that they've returned to the Wonderland to find the diamonds Sheila hid after the diamond heist they pulled back in 1973.
  • T*A*C*K: Toria tries to listen on two men at the local soda shop after they take a strange interest in a comic book her little sister has just bought.
  • The thirteen-year-old protagonist of the Trixie Belden series is not exactly little, but does often stick her nose into places that require an adult.
  • Happens a couple times in Warrior Cats:
    • In Forest of Secrets, Fireheart's nosy nephew Cloudkit tracks Fireheart and Graystripe to the river when they sneak off to share prey with RiverClan, which gets them in trouble with the Clan deputy and leader upon their return.
    • In The Darkest Hour, Sorrelkit knows that Darkstripe is supposed to have Brackenfur guarding him, and is curious to know what he's doing when he sneaks off on his own. He spots her and tricks her into eating poisonous berries so that she can't reveal that she saw him plotting with an enemy warrior; fortunately she survives.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Every CBBC Sunday afternoon drama of the 1980s featured a young protagonist snooping around and stumbling on the Big Bad's plan.
  • Ruthie from 7th Heaven often spies on the older members of her family until she becomes a teenager.
  • Game of Thrones: Bran Stark. He goes exploring during King Robert's visit to Winterfell, and stumbles upon the king's wife, Cersei, having sex with her twin brother Jaime. To keep the boy's silence, Jaime throws him from the window. Bran survives but is left crippled for life, and this act is what kicks off the plot.
  • The Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Angels Revenge spoofs this trope. In a scene where the film's protagonists are making plans to launch an assault on a drug cartel, a young girl who hangs out with them bursts into the room, acting excited at the plan. In the film itself, the heroines think that this is cute and amusing, but one of the audience members remarks, in a menacing voice imitative of more sinister characters, "Kill her!"
  • Bronson Twist often takes on this role in Round the Twist, particularly in Season 2. The Twist kids as a whole get called this at least once by Mr. Gribble.
  • In Tom Turbo, some Snooping Little Kids, often with the same name as the kid actor who plays them, stop the villain and their criminal scheme. This even comes complete with many Bound and Gagged situations.
  • In The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Caesar and Me", the nosy niece of the apartment landlord spies on her aunt's tenant, which leads to his arrest for the various robberies he and his living dummy committed.

    Music 
  • The video for Quebec metal band Exterio's song "Campanile" is about a group of snoopy kids using a mysterious map to search for something presumably hidden by the desperately-running-away man who dropped it. By disturbing the seemingly useless junk they find, they inadvertently unleash a Demons/Evil Dead-style Demonic Possession Zombie Apocalypse. Ouch.

    Video Games 
  • There's a quest chain in Final Fantasy XI that involves the Star Onion Brigade, a gang of Snooping Little Kids who operate out of Port Windurst and fight for "Truth, justice, and the onion way!", which seems to mostly involve pestering local criminal mastermind Nanaa Mihgo.
  • Kindergarten: During lunchtime, Lily can be found eavesdropping outside the principal's office, as she believes that he's responsible for her brother Billy's disappearance. The player can tip the principal off by knocking on the door, which leads to Lily meeting a grisly end. In Kindergarten 2, she's graduated into a full-fledged Kid Detective, actively investigating her new school's dark secrets along with the now-rescued Billy.

    Webcomics 
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Antimony from carries around a set of lock-picks (and knows how to use them) for this very purpose. She also does quite a bit of snooping even without lock-picks, including, once, fooling a guard-bot into believing that she's a robot by wearing a headband with antennae and saying, "I am a robot." It works. Robots in Gunnerkrigg Court are notoriously gullible.
    • Jack goes out exploring the Court "all the time". At least until in "Power Station", when he demonstrates his discovery of an Ether Station to the other students. Rather unfortunately for him, at the same time that Zimmy (who does have a good reason) finds it too.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben from Ben 10. He's usually found snooping around, eavesdropping on bad guys in his kid form, though sometimes when he is caught he transforms into one of his alien shape shifting forms. This only lasts for a little while though, expiring shortly after, making him realize that he's still just a kid.

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