Walk and Talk

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"Five-oh! Everybody, West Wing!"
"West Wing?"

"Walk fast, talk fast."

Having the characters walk from one end to the other of a large, contiguous set while talking to each other, while a Steadicam operator walks backwards in front of them, allowing for a continuous, moving, Medium Two-Shot. Can take a lot of takes to get right, but can give us some impressive examples of The Oner. However, they never seem to watch where they're going.

Also known as a pedeconference (by analogy to teleconference), especially on Television Without Pity.

According to a Buffy the Vampire Slayer director, they use these to give the scene more energy and convey how busy the characters are.

This shooting technique was popularized by Aaron Sorkin, who used it first on Sports Night and developed the technique further on The West Wing. It's also common in computer-animated works, where it appears to serve as a 3-D alternative to the Wraparound Background.

Examples of Walk and Talk include:


  • Parodied by The Rutles - in All You Need Is Cash, a reporter is giving a walk and talk to a camera on the back of a van. However, the van slowly accelerates, until the reporter is breathlessly sprinting after the camera.
  • Parodied and lampshaded in Johnny Dangerously when Johnny and Lil go on a walk... and talk. After a very long time, they stop, look around and realize they must have left the city hours ago and are now out in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere.

Johnny: "Where the hell are we?"

  • Used in the film Brazil when Sam Lowry is trying to catch up to his new superior after a promotion and gets lost in the crowd of people following him. His new boss's name, Mr Warrenn, is a reference to the network of corridors.
  • Ghostbusters 2 combines it with Suit-Up of Destiny on route to fight Vigo in at the New York Museum of Fine Art.
  • Used extensively in Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. In the director's commentary, they claim The West Wing was ripping them off.
  • The 1997 film The Peacemaker anticipated The West Wing by having walk and talks in the White House. Director Mimi Leder was a former producer and director for ER, and steadicam operator Guy Bee had also worked on ER.
  • Serenity, the Firefly movie, does this to (re)introduce the main cast and the layout of the ship. It's somewhat different, in that while everyone talks, the only one doing the walking is Mal, and the Steadicam follows him.
  • Used in Something the Lord Made, a biopic about African-American medical pioneer Vivien Thomas, to help establish the Jim Crow-era setting. An early scene has Thomas and his friend, also black, walking and talking along a footpath—but they have to keep pausing the conversation and stepping off the footpath to let white folks past.
  • Used in the film Night at the Museum. In the director's commentary, it was admitted that in the scenes with Ben Stiller and Robin Williams' characters on screen together, this mechanic just seemed to fit.
  • Happens quite a bit in the Star Wars prequels, except since the pace is more sedate, it dampens the energy of the scene.

Live-Action TV

  • This is called the "Walk and Talk" on Farscape.
  • The West Wing is not above hanging a lampshade on its use of the device, though: after a particularly long Walk and Talk, Josh and Sam once realize that neither of them had any idea where they had been going, and each thought he was following the other. "Let's not tell anyone about this," Josh concludes. Also Lampshaded during a flashback episode to their first days in the White House when Sam asks Josh, "Do you mind if I talk to you while we walk?" and Josh says that they'll have to get use to having meetings in the hallway (due to not being able to read the White House maps).
    • When Will Bailey first arrives at the White House he comments to Josh that "...you get a pretty good aerobic workout talking to someone in this building." Josh responds that he's heard the jokes.
    • Toby and Sam had a walk and talk outside going to a breakfast place. Toby stops and wonders where the place is. Sam points behind them and says it was on the last street. He didn't want to stop their discussion.
    • There's also one where Josh asks Donna her opinion on the topic of the meeting he's about to have. She begins to respond, but isn't done before he reaches the meeting place. He turns around and says, "You've to go faster next time, I'm here already."
    • Then there's the one where Josh, Donna, and Josh's intern are walking and the intern falls over and asks if they always walk so fast.
    • When Martin Sheen appeared on The Graham Norton Show, they did a Walk and Talk homage to The West Wing. Watch it here (starts about 2:48 min in).
  • The Bill has been doing this for years, predating The West Wing. The fact that the Sun Hill set is one continuous set makes this possible.
  • ER also uses the Walk and Talk extensively. Thomas Del Ruth, director of photography for the pilot episode of ER, went on to be cinematographer on the pilot of The West Wing too.
  • Factors heavily into Law and Order, and to a lesser extent, its spinoffs. An Saturday Night Live sketch joked that the first rule for an extra on that show was "never stop moving."
  • This method also appears often on House, and has been lampshaded on at least two occasions, one of which Wilson points out they ended up back where they started, and another where House explains to a camera crew filming his team trying to diagnose the patient of the week that their walking around creates the illusion of the plot moving forward.
  • Thirty Rock has also done the walk-and-talk-that-ends-up-back-where-they-started gag. May or may not have been a Take That to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
    • They parodied it once, too.

Liz: Can you walk and talk?
Kenneth: Usually, but now you've got me thinking about it. *walks awkwardly during the rest of the scene*

    • Openly parodied when Aaron Sorkin appeared as himself, advising Liz as she faced redundancy. The scene included an overt jab at Studio 60.
  • Countless times on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. Corridors are the ubitiquous set for this, often while giving Techno Babble.
  • Used and played with in Scrubs. JD is apparently so familiar with his Walk and Talk with Dr. Cox that he can run off to check on patients and get back without him noticing.
  • Parodied on The Armstrong And Miller Show. One recurring sketch has a Pointy-Haired Boss character marching down a corridor while his subordinates dash up to him with obviously nonsensical information or bits of interesting trivia. Better Than It Sounds.
  • Any show that takes place inside a school, if they have the budget for a long enough hallway
    • Which is completely unrealistic, especially in high schools where people either walk like they're a lame, deaf, and blind or they travel in packs, blocking the hallways from wall to wall. Not to mention having to avoid groups of other people trying to walk and talk...
  • From Star Trek: The Next Generation onward, a good third of any given episode is dedicated to exposition, which is commonly done while walking down seemingly endless corridors on whatever Ship/Station/Planet the story is set on. The original show didn't have it as much, but it was certainly present.
    • What they did have though (including the later series) was the "stand and talk" variation where the characters would board a turbolift that would conveniently take exactly as long to reach its destination as it took for the conversation to end. In certain episodes of the original series, it's laughable how long the turbolift can take to get from the bridge to a deck that is only 3-4 stories down in the ship.
  • Happened regularly in The West Wing's Evil British Twin, The Thick of It.
  • Done to death (heh heh) in nearly every episode of CSI (Las Vegas) as the investigator-Expositioners walk through the hallways of the lab. Which is such a maze that Television Without Pity calls it the "Labitrail".
  • Done frequently on NCIS; and almost as often lampshaded for humour value. Especially when someone new shows up.
  • Canada knows this trope via its usage in Rick Mercer's "Streeters" (rants) from This Hour Has 22 Minutes and The Rick Mercer Report. Most of the time it was only Mercer himself in the shot, giving the impression that the audience was the second person.
  • Aaron Sorkin's first use of it was pretty much Once Per Episode of Sports Night. Notably subverted in one scene of one episode, where two characters, about to have a very private altercation, take a long walk to one's office...and barely a single word is spoken throughout the entire trip.

Web Original

  • The TV Tropes original webseries Echo Chamber did an episode called "Walk and Talk" where Tom Invoked Walk and Talk by tricking Dana into illustrating the trope. The show also regularly uses Walk and Talk as a device, even in episodes that aren't named for the trope.

Western Animation

  • Parodied in Family Guy, when the Griffins watch Aaron Sorkin's new show, The Kitchen, where the characters walk in their kitchen and have a fast-paced dialogue about buying milk.

Real Life

  • Aristotle called his philosophy school the Peripatetic school after the peripatoi or colonnades of the Lyceum in Athens, where the members used to meet. However, peripatetikos also means "wandering", "walking about", and so, after Aristotle's death, the (false) notion emerged that Aristotle's school was named for the master's habit of walking and talking. The myth, however, is Older Than Feudalism.