Created By: DennisDunjinman on March 25, 2013 Last Edited By: DennisDunjinman on June 4, 2013
Troped

Edgy Backwards Chair Sitting

Sitting in the chair backwards, legs on either side, arms resting on the back.

Name Space:
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Page Type:
Trope
KARKAT: NO, LOOK. IT'S CASUAL AND RELAXED. LIKE, IT VISUALLY CONVEYS THAT MY PRESENCE IN THE CONVERSATION IS HUMBLE AND NONTHREATENING, YET FRANK AND ATTENTIVE.

Chairs are made to sit on. When most people sit on one, they usually lean their backs against the backrest and their legs forward. However, there is a more unusual way of sitting on one.

Instead of sitting normally in the chair, the sitter will turn the chair around and place legs on either side of the chair, typically using the back of the chair as an armrest.

There are many different reasons why a person would choose to sit this way. It could convey that the character is edgy but still approachable, slightly rebellious but not destructively so, to appear carefree or too bored to care, or too calm and collected to make a big deal about things, giving off a "cool" vibe, though it may backfire and give the appearance of looking Totally Radical instead. Alternatively, those who sits this way can try to use the back of the seat as a type of shield, so they can appear cool while clinging to the back as a form of protection to cover their insecurities.

If they simply want to talk to the person behind them without bothering to turn their seat around, it is not this trope.

Typically seen in places where people congregate, such as think tank meetings or support groups. Can be one way to show Rebel Relaxation. Compare Leaning on the Furniture.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Gunslinger Girl. In the first season opening title, Triela is shown sitting like this in a chair. Her pose is relaxed and calm, which is deceptive considering that in the previous scene she was running and shooting a pistol.

Film
  • Russell Hammond does this when he finally sits down to give Wiliam an interview in Almost Famous.
  • There's an example in Film/Avatar. The leader of the marines sits this way when he's speaking to Jake in the cafeteria.

Live-Action TV
  • Saved by the Bell: this is AC Slater's default way of sitting. As the series predates most ironic uses of this trope, Slater manages to come across as cool and slightly (but harmlessly) rebellious.
  • In an episode of Happy Days, Leather Tuscadero does this while the Cunninghams and other discuss giving her a My Fair Lady -style makeover, making Mr. C doubt it can be done.
  • In an episode of Black Books, Manny attempts this a few times after a prolonged stint with his birthday presents of an espresso machine and a box set of Columbo. Each time, he ends up crushing his testicles, with the last one provoking a high pitched reply of "That was a particularly bad one".
  • Dennis Finch in Just Shoot Me! does this in one episode while talking to Maya, but because the chair had armrests he simply falls backwards awkwardly.
  • In season 4 of Arrested Development, Tobias as a therapist tries this with his new therapy group in order to seem cool and approachable. He flips the chair sideways in the process.

Video Games
  • In BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Hazama sits like this when captured by Relius's Astral Heat -- in contrast to most of the other characters being physically restrained in some manner.
    Relius: What say you, Hazama? Surely you've had your fun.
  • In the first Mercenaries game, the player character (whichever one you choose) sits like this during the briefing in the opening, showing that you aren't technically under the authority of the person giving it.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • In an episode of Family Guy about sex ed, a visiting speaker who argues for chastity does this.
  • Western Animation
  • When Mabel of Gravity Falls is left in charge of the Mystery Shack for three days, she reads an old business handbook from the 1980s. This inspires her to wear shoulder pads and to sit like this to appear approachable to her "employees".
  • An early episode of Hey Arnold! had Arnold's grandpa sit on a hardwood chair backwards while trying to convince his grandson not to worry too hard about his pet pig Abner running away. However, his statements that Abner won't come back aren't very reassuring.

Real Life.

Community Feedback Replies: 65
  • March 25, 2013
    DunDun
    You might want to put in a qualifier about characters doing this in an attempt to relate to other groups or other characters. It's pretty common for awkward adults to do this when trying to discuss serious topics with teens in Real Life and fiction. If you go that route, you may wish to give it a better name.

    The description as it is is People Sit On Chairs (both literally and the trope) But More Specific, which is pretty bad, I think.
  • March 25, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    I can't think of any specific examples at this time, but I do somehow believe that people do this when they are sitting and chatting with other people, like in a think tank or support group.

    But it's not People Sit On Chairs, it's a way of sitting on the chair, like a sister or cousin trope to Slouch Of Villainy, except less evil and more cool/laid back.

    If you can recommend a better name, I'd like to read it.
  • March 25, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I know it's a case of Trope Namer Syndrome, but GOD I want this named The AC Slater.

    Anyhoo, this is tropable. It's a sign that someone is rebellious in the most safe way possible. It's often invoked by characters who want to seem like they're cool and approachable and just come across as Totally Radical.
  • March 25, 2013
    Dragon573
    There's an example in Avatar. With the leader of the marines (they were marines, right?) when he's speaking to Jake in the cafeteria.
  • March 25, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    In Blaz Blue Continuum Shift, Hazama sits like this when captured by Relius's Astral Heat -- in contrast to most of the other characters being physically restrained in some manner.
    Relius: What say you, Hazama? Surely you've had your fun.
  • March 25, 2013
    Alvin
    Western Animation: In an episode of Family Guy about sex ed, a visting speaker who argues for chastity does this. Live-Action TV: In an episode of Happy Days, Leather Tuscadero does this while the Cunninghams and other discuss giving her a My Fair Lady -style makeover, making Mr. C doubt it can be done.
  • March 25, 2013
    Alvin
    Also, congratulations to the OP for finding a way to trope the untropable trope. Maybe this should go under a supertrope People Sit On Chairs Wrong.
  • March 25, 2013
    Alvin
    I thought I should add, I am not mocking the OP, although it may sound like that. If we DID have a People Sit On Chairs Wrong supertrope, a good page quote might be from a Family Guy 'blackout' where people in the future get old TV shows beamed into their brains and a guy goes to a video store and asks for Mork And Mindy and says: Ha ha ha! That's not how you sit on a chair!
  • March 25, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Don't worry your comment didn't come off as you mocking the OP. But I did find it hilarious.
  • March 25, 2013
    freesefan
    Russell Hammond does this when he finally sits down to give Wiliam an interview in Almost Famous.
  • March 26, 2013
    willthiswork
    • Homestuck parodies this. Karkat sits backwards stradeling a chair while discussing Terezi's recent self-esteem and relationship problems, until Terezi and Dave make fun of him for it and he quits in a huff.

      KARKAT: NO, LOOK. IT'S CASUAL AND RELAXED.
      KARKAT: LIKE, IT VISUALLY CONVEYS THAT MY PRESENCE IN THE CONVERSATION IS HUMBLE AND NONTHREATENING, YET FRANK AND ATTENTIVE.

  • March 26, 2013
    lexicon
    What does sitting backwards say about Slater? We need to know what this is supposed to show or it'll just be a list of characters who sit backwards and that would be People Sit On Chairs. Is it reverse sitting of coolness, rebellion, humility, what?
  • March 26, 2013
    Larkmarn
    • Saved By The Bell: this is AC Slater's default way of sitting. As the series predates most ironic uses of this trope, Slater manages to come across as cool and slightly (but harmlessly) rebellious.
  • March 26, 2013
    DunDun
    ^^My point exactly.

    And I didn't suggest any alternative names for this trope because I didn't know what OP was trying to make it out to be (hence the "If you go that route"). Still don't other than the characters literally sit on a chair backwards.
  • March 26, 2013
    MetaFour
  • March 26, 2013
    xanderiskander
    ^x4 I think it's a way of expressing coolness because it's laidback,and rebellious. But at the same time having the back of the chair between them, is also body language that makes the other person feel safe during a conversation, which is why people are sometimes seen doing it when they're about to be "direct" with someone. It's because the casualness or goofiness of sitting in a chair backwards gets past their defenses.

    The OP should probably edit the description with this stuff if he's still reading this discussion.
  • March 27, 2013
    giggles
    Head!Six does this in one Battlestar Galactica episode.
  • March 27, 2013
    Stratadrake
    We're definitely going to need a better title -- every time I see "reverse seating" I think of the seats themselves, not the manner of sitting on it.

    I think I've heard the term "cowboy style" or something of the sort used as a nickname for sitting backwards on a chair....
  • March 27, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Agreed, need a new title.

    Real Life Example:
  • March 27, 2013
    lexicon
    "Cowboy style sitting" might work nicely for all this is trying to include. I don't know how common the idea is but a google search came up with the first and third image called "buisness man sitting cowboy style" and he's sitting backwards.
  • March 27, 2013
    xanderiskander
    I sort of like "Cowboy Style Sitting". However "Cowboy Style" by itself sounds like a double entendre to me.
  • March 27, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I've never heard the term, and I just don't think it's common enough that anyone would possibly get it from that name alone.

    How about "Backwards Chair Sitting"?
  • March 27, 2013
    lexicon
    If it was called Backwards Chair Sitting I just know that it would turn into a list of people who sit backwards with nothing said about the person because no one would know what they're supposed to say.
  • March 28, 2013
    Arivne
    Anime and Manga
    • Gunslinger Girl. In the first season opening title, Triela is shown sitting like this in a chair. Her pose is relaxed and calm, which is deceptive considering that in the previous scene she was running and shooting a pistol.
  • March 28, 2013
    DunDun
    Might as well use the Karkat quote above since it's so damn frank about what it means to sit backwards in a chair...
  • March 28, 2013
    Bisected8
    In the first Mercenaries game, the player character (whichever one you choose) sits like this during the briefing in the opening (Showing that you aren't technically under the authority of the person giving it).
  • March 28, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Good call on adding "Edgy."
  • March 28, 2013
    Chernoskill
    Michelle Pfeiffer does this in the music video to Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise, sitting opposite Coolio in a dark room.
  • April 24, 2013
    somerndmguy
    Dennis Finch does this in one episode while talking to Maya, but because the chair had armrests he simply falls backwards awkwardly.
  • April 24, 2013
    MonaNaito
    Maybe the description could say something about how this pose is used by two types of people: people who are Edgy, and people who are not in the least Edgy but think it will make them look cool, relatable or easygoing (usually bosses talking to employees or adults talking to teenagers). It'd help to clarify that this is a way of letting the audience know something about a character (and thus, a trope) rather than just a way of sitting.
  • April 24, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    I've seen sitting on a chair backwards specifically described as a "masculine" thing; as it does involve sitting with legs spread wide towards whoever the sitter is facing, a very unfeminine way of sitting and one which cannot be done in a skirt. Having a female character sit this way in particular is usually a statement about her attitudes towards gender roles.
  • April 24, 2013
    Adbot
    Live action TV
    • In an episode of Black Books, Manny attempts this a few times after a prolonged stint with his birthday presents of an expresso machine and a box set of Columbo. Each time, he ends up crushing his testicles, with the last one provoking a high pitched reply of "That was a particularly bad one".
  • April 25, 2013
    DunDun
    ^^You can sit on a chair "backwards" while wearing a skirt; it's more "sitting sideways" with the back of the chair facing the person you're talking to.
  • April 25, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I just feel like the phrase "Let's rap..." needs to be in there somewhere, since it's the quintessential Totally Radical phrase used with this.
  • April 25, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    Added examples.

    There's a lot of discussion on this page about what this sitting pose means. I'm quite surprised, but I don't know if it all should be included in the trope description because there isn't quite a consensus.
  • April 25, 2013
    DunDun
    Or they simply want to talk to the person behind them without bothering to turn their seat around.

    Probably should change that to, "Or they simply want to talk to the person behind them without bothering to turn their seat around, in which case, it's not this trope." Since that is People Literally Sit On Chairs and are too lazy to turn their chair around. This trope is obviously Schmuck Bait for inattentive/lazy tropers, so ambiguity is even worse here than in other trope descriptions, I think.
  • April 30, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Anyone mind using Dr.Phil doing this as the page picture? It's very hard to find any images of this without watermarks.

    Then again maybe we could use the homestuck page that's quoted in the description as the page image? Is it any good?
  • April 30, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    It's all right, but I would prefer a picture that includes the whole body to better illustrate the pose.
  • April 30, 2013
    Chabal2
    Yorkie Mitchell does this in the Kitchen Irish arc of The Punisher when interrogating a Irish wannabe-IRA dumbass. He owns the scene when the kid asks if he's MI 6, to which Yorkie responds "By way of the SAS, by way of the parachute regiment."
  • April 30, 2013
    AgProv
    Edit: This post has been edited by Arivne to put a line underneath a picture that was breaking YKTTW. Original poster was Ag Prov. Ag Prov, to put your name back on this post just edit it in any way, such as by deleting this paragraph.

    Real Life.

    In the Profumo Scandal of 1963, which threatened to bring down a British government, prostitute Christine Keeler became a kind of national celebrity. The photogenic and attractive Christine was immortalised in an iconic and much imitated photograph by Lewis Morley, sitting naked in a chair, but seated backwards so that the backrest covered the naughty bits whilst making it very clear she was naked. (Could this photo be the trope header? Risky for 1963, it's pretty tame now and probably SFW).


    the classic sitting- backwards- on- a- chair photo

    thank you Arivne!
  • April 30, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    If everyone else thinks using a Scenery Censor is appropriate; it may be distracting. I'll add the example.
  • April 30, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    So are we specifically looking at cases where someone sits on 1) a chair with a back 2) backwards from intended way 3) sitting on it with one leg on each side of the back, not kneeling on it or sitting sideways?
  • April 30, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    If they were sitting sideways, we'd call that "Side-saddle". Except I don't know if there's an adjective associated with sitting that way.

    If the chair didn't have a back in the first place and was rotationally symmetrical, then there would be no way of sitting on it backwards because all ways would be forwards.

    Kneeling is a stretch, but there's probably nothing against it other than it sounds uncomfortable, and Edgy Backwards Chair Sitting implies that the sitter is doing so to be comfortable, except when it goes horribly wrong.
  • April 30, 2013
    DunDun
    ^Agreed with everything except that this isn't just sitting backwards to be comfortable (that's PSOC, the trope). There needs to be some point to the sitting. The suggested image might be this; she's sitting like that to cover up while being provocative. But just sitting in that position is not a trope--it means nothing about the character.

    ^^Basically #2: not the intended way for a reason. What that reason is could be any number of things, all of which need to be included in the description ("to be noticeably attentive", "to be provocative", "to put on airs of being casual", etc.).
  • April 30, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Well if you do use that real life example. You should mention in the description that it can also be used as a Scenery Censor and for Fan Service.

    But I wouldn't use that picture since it's not mainly a fan service trope. It'd give people the wrong idea.

  • May 11, 2013
    AgProv
    Live Action Television In Star Trek, the way Commander Riker sits on a chair is fairly unusual, although most of the time he ends up facing forwards. It may not belong here, but the way he sits down is possibly unique in all the annals of sitting: Riker sits down like a crazy person
  • May 11, 2013
    AgProv
    Incidentally, Slouch Of Villainy carries examples of this YKTTW...
  • May 12, 2013
    lexicon
    I think it can be said that this is a form of Rebel Relaxation. A picture similar to the one on that would be good. Cowboys have that relaxed, edgy look to them.

    Leaning On The Furniture is basically quoting this page. "The character does this by... flipping an armless chair around and sitting facing the chair-back."
  • May 13, 2013
    AgProv
    Live Action Television

    Bulldog Briscoe sits like this in Frasier.
  • May 13, 2013
    Melkior
    My feeling is that Cool Backwards Chair Sitting might be a better name. I think that in a lot of cases, the "edgy" would probably go along with "trying to appear cool". Include in the description a note that the sitting person may be doing it in order to appear cool and relaxed while actually being edgy and nervous.
  • May 13, 2013
    DunDun
    ^"Cool" is the new "totally radical". Everyone's "hip" nowadays. But even then, we will always have "being edgy" for some reason.

    In the description, I think People Sit On Chairs should not be mentioned or potholed until it talks about when sitting backwards on a chair is not this trope. It would only confuse people that there's a trope with PSOC as one of the first things they see, I think. That said, there might need to be a reminder in the example section within comment markup that this is not whenever someone sits backwards on a chair (just to pound that image a bit further).
  • May 13, 2013
    Euan2000
    Ned Flanders attempts this to shake off his stuffy image but ends up hurting his back in the process.
  • May 13, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    "Hip"? I thought "hip" was out-of-touch (or "mature") and "cool" would always be cool. That's why we have the Complete Guide to Cool, not a Complete Guide to Hip.

    But I prefer "edgy" for rhythm reasons. The other words wouldn't sound right in that phrase.

    I'd try to clarify when an example is this trope and when it isn't, but I personally don't know how to tell the difference myself other than when the character is sitting for a prolonged period in the pose that's been specified. Unless examples of this trope can only be included when it's lampshaded.
  • May 13, 2013
    lexicon
    I agree that People Sit On Chairs should not be mentioned or potholed until it talks about when sitting backwards on a chair is not this trope.

    As I mentioned in my last post, I think Rebel Relaxation and Leaning On The Furniture are relevant and should be mentioned in the description.

    Urbandictionary.com says that hip is cooler than cool. The Other Wiki says that it's fashionably current and in the know. They're basically synonyms for each other. With that said I do think edgy is the best word to use.
  • May 28, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    Image added. Hope it's a good one.
  • May 28, 2013
    DunDun
    A blurry image will likely be changed after a short time after going through Image Pickin', so we might want to find something clearer. Regardless, it needs to be potholed. Anyone can do this, but I might as well say it's by doing "[[quoteright:(number doodad):[[WesternAnimation/HeyArnold (image link)]]]]" without parentheses or quotes.

    "A form of Rebel Relaxation" makes it sound like that's a supertrope, which I disagree with--this may overlap with that trope, but not all people who edgily sit backwards are going to do it for the rebellion factor.
  • May 28, 2013
    lexicon
    I see nothing edgy about that old man. Neither does he look at all rebellious, calm and collected, or in any way cool. If anyone can find an image of Gunslinger Girl doing this I think that would be best based on what the example says.
  • May 28, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    I've never watched Gunslinger Girl. I just wanted to show the position for illustration purposes.

    If you find it, feel free to replace it.
  • June 3, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    Bumping.
  • June 4, 2013
    MonaNaito
    Western Animation
    • When Mabel of Gravity Falls is left in charge of the Mystery Shack for three days, she reads an old business handbook from the 1980s. This inspires her to wear shoulder pads and to sit like this to appear approachable to her "employees".
  • June 4, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    I agree with lexicon. The current picture doesn't fit the description of the trope. It's just a man sitting on a chair. If we use that one, people might think that simply sitting on a chair backwards is enough to qualify as an example.
  • June 4, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    If you agree, then instead of complaining about it, you could help me find another. The current one actually DOES fit the description of the trope: he's sitting on the chair in the described position to appear approachable and carefree to someone else.
  • June 4, 2013
    Larkmarn
    • In season 4 of Arrested Development, Tobias as a theralyst tries this with his new therapy group in order to seem cool and approachable. He flips the chair sideways in the process.
  • June 4, 2013
    lexicon
    I have seen this called 'the AC Slater way of sitting' so how about Slater? I still think Gunslinger Girl sounds great but I can't find a picture of it. Without looking 'edgy' I think it would be better to have no image.
  • June 4, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    That is a fine image. If we shrunk it down we could put it on the page. But I still think that having an illustration is better than without it.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=anjs0o1fe63opkae49kqg516&trope=EdgyBackwardsChairSitting