Created By: PDL on August 1, 2012 Last Edited By: foxley on May 26, 2013
Troped

Prehensile Feet

The character has feet that are as mobile as hands

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
One of the hallmarks of being primates is that our limbs were adapted for life in the treetops. Our front and hind limbs were modified to grasp branches, but when the ancestors of human beings descended to the ground and started to walk upright, our front limbs remained as mobile as ever, but the back limbs were adapted for stability and aren't normally used for manipulation.

However, this character is capable of using his or her feet with the dexterity of a human hand. There are two flavors to it:

1) Character that have human-like feet, but they have developed enough skill and precision to use them as a pair of extra hands. The reason behind it varies from case to case; maybe their hands have been unmobilized or can't be used in a particular situation, possibly they are trying to multi-task, or perhaps they're just trying to be outlandish and/or goofy. In the most extreme case, when the character doesn't have hands at all, a nimble pair of feet is the second best thing one can rely on to replace their function.

2) Characters which have special lower appendages adapted to be used as hands. Characters based on a non-human primates tend to display this trait, (as their feet are, effectively, an extra pair of hands) but there are many variations it, including creatures with Bizarre Alien Biology, robots/cyborgs of various kinds, and humans with Bio-Augmentation. It's also not uncommon for them to exclusively use their "feet" to manipulate their environment because their upper limbs are not appropriate for the task, such in the case of winged characters that lack Feather Fingers.

Examples:

Type 1

Anime

Film
  • Up The Creek Without A Paddle featured a girl with "monkey feet" who answered the phone with them. The boy who suits her learns to do so as well by the end of the film.
  • Navi from Avatar, at least those who are not serving as avatars to humans anyway.
  • Disney's version of Tarzan, taking the idea of being raised by apes to its logical conclusion by having him grasp things with his feet.
  • Allison from The Breakfast Club claims she can write, eat, and play the piano with her toes.
  • In the Lon Chaney film The Unknown Chaney plays a circus performer "Alonzo the Armless" who uses his feet to light cigarettes, throw knives, etc. But he really does have arms, he's just hiding them because he's hiding out in the circus. He falls in love with a woman who doesn't know about his arms (or about his love) so he gets a doctor to cut off his arms, but - in a typical Chaney film twist - when he goes to his love to propose she's thrilled because she has just accepted a proposal from another man.

Literature
  • One of the drow characters from the War of the Spider Queen novels has such dexterous toes that he's able, when Bound and Gagged, to perform the necessary gestures to cast a spell with his feet.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space novels, people who grew up in space tend to be extremely slim and limber. One such protagonist has a habit of holding his cigarettes with his toes, leaving both hands free to work as he smokes.

Visual Novel
  • Rin from Katawa Shoujo has no arms, so she's learned to do most things with her feet.

Webcomic
  • Gabe of Penny Arcade is pointed out to have monkey-like feet in one strip.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • People with no arms, such as Thalidomide babies, learn to use their feet as hands. 60 Minutes once covered such a person, who used her feet to pick up items at the grocery store and drive a car.

Type 2

Film
  • Ivan's armor suit in the second Iron Man movie could grab things with its feet.
  • Disney's The Jungle Book. King Louie can use his feet like hands, which makes sense since he's an orangutan.
  • From Star Wars: The Phantom Menace we have champion podracer Sebulba, the Dug, who is an alien whose legs extend from his shoulders, and his arms extend from the bottom of his trunk.
  • The Ĉon Flux live-action film included Sithandra from the original animated series. See below for details.

Comics
  • Superman's first super powered enemy, the Ultra Humanite, could grab things with his feet.
  • Beast, from X-Men, has this as a part of his mutation.

Literature
  • Allen Steele's books include genetically modified trans-humans, engineered for life in outer space, which includes arm-like legs with hand-like feet for life in microgravity. Also, they're intelligent.
  • The Librarian of Unseen University in Discworld was transformed by a magical accident into an orangutan, and has since refused any offers to turn him back into a human. Being able to hang from the ceiling from one limb and shelve three books at once with the others is one of the many advantages.
  • Unsurprisingly, used in the original Planet of the Apes novel. Ulysse (the protagonist, roughly equivalent to Taylor in the film) is still slightly astonished to see it. Not used in the aforesaid film though, due to the apes being people in ape suits - their feet were just regular human feet in vaguely hand-shaped shoes.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, the Quaddies are a genetically modified race designed to live in free-fall. They have arms (and hands) instead of legs, but are otherwise basically human. They have a very hard time getting around in gravity, and use floater chairs when they can't avoid it.
  • In The Bas-Lag Cycle novels, wyrmen are bat-like urban scroungers and errand-runners, whose feet serve as hands.

Tabletop Games
  • Eclipse Phase has the "prehensile feet" augmentation, bouncer morphs, neo-hominids, and neo-avians come standard with them.
  • Wakyambi from the Nyambi sourcebook from D&D are a species of elves from the setting equivalent of Darkest Africa who have these.

Video Games
  • Lanky from Donkey Kong 64 is an inversion! He can use his hands to to walk up (and even run up) steep slopes.
  • While they may not be fully prehensile, Raiden from Metal Gear Solid 4 has no problems wielding a sword with his feet after he breaks one of his cybernetic arms to free himself from some rubble and loses the other while trying to hold back Outer Haven. It helps that his legs are no longer human, and it is unclear whether he can pull of similar maneuvers in mundane tasks, but it is still pretty impressive.

Western Animation
  • Ĉon Flux has Sithandra, who had a second set of hands grafted onto her ankles--a procedure which she highly recommends to Aeon.
  • General Grievous from Star Wars: Clone Wars has this as a feature of his cyborg body. He can put all six of his limbs to good use as hands, though normally he sticks to being a humanoid, folding his extra arms and walking on his legs.
  • Louie the orangutan appears again in the Talespin series, and he didn't lose this skill. During "A Touch Of Glass," Louie uses his feet to remove a swindler from the pilot's seat of the Sea Duck.

Real Life
  • Many arboreal animals, especially Primates and birds.
Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • August 1, 2012
    surgoshan
    • Allen Steele's books include genetically modified trans-humans, engineered for life in outer space, which includes arm-like legs with hand-like feet for life in microgravity. Also, they're intelligent.
  • August 1, 2012
    TonyG
    Disney's version of Tarzan, taking the idea of being raised by apes to its logical conclusion by having him grasp things with his feet.
  • August 1, 2012
    SharleeD
    • One of the drow characters from the War of the Spider Queen novels has such dextrous toes that he's able, when Bound And Gagged, to perform the necessary gestures to cast a spell with his feet.
  • August 1, 2012
    ImaginationInterpreter
    Ponyo in the Miyazaki film, and Yakitate-Japan Kayser.
  • August 1, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Real Life: People with no arms, such as Thalidomide babies, learn to use their feet as hands. 60 Minutes once covered such a person, who used her feet to pick up items at the grocery store and drive a car.
  • August 2, 2012
    KTera
    • Rin from Katawa Shoujo has no arms, so she's learned to do most things with her feet.
  • August 2, 2012
    SharleeD
    • Allison from The Breakfast Club claims she can write, eat, and play the piano with her toes.
  • August 2, 2012
    HandsomeRob
    The X Men character Beast has this as a part of his mutation.
  • August 2, 2012
    robinjohnson
    • The Librarian of Unseen University in Discworld was transformed by a magical accident into an orang-utan, and has since refused any offers to turn him back into a human. Being able to hang from the ceiling from one limb and shelve three books at once with the others is one of the many advantages.
  • August 2, 2012
    Cider
    I'd wait till fourteen examples or five hats before launching but I guess I approve.

    Film(Assuming you're breaking this up into different media, you don't have too but everyone does.)
    • Up The Creek Without A Paddle featured a girl with "monkey feet" who answered the phone with them. The boy who suits her learns to do so as well by the end of the film.
    • Ivan's armor suit in the second Ironman movie could grab things with its feet.
    • Navi from Avatar, at least those who are not serving as avatars to humans anyway.

    comics
    • Superman's first super powered enemy, the ultra humanite, could grab things with his feet.
  • August 2, 2012
    zarpaulus
    A common characteristic of Space People.

  • August 2, 2012
    StarSword
    Aeon Flux has Sithandra, who had a second set of hands grafted onto her ankles--a procedure which she highly recommends to Aeon.
  • August 2, 2012
    Vir
    Gabe of Penny Arcade is pointed out to have monkey-like feet in one strip.
  • August 2, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Unsurprisingly, used in the original Planet Of The Apes novel. Ulysse (the protagonist, roughly equivalent to Taylor in the film) is still slightly astonished to see it. Not used in the aforesaid film though, due to the apes being people in ape suits - their feet were just regular human feet in vaguely hand-shaped shoes.
  • August 9, 2012
    KZN02
    Cowboy Bebop: Ed can type with her toes.
  • August 12, 2012
    Xtifr
    • In the Vorkosigan Saga, the Quaddies are a genetically modified race designed to live in free-fall. They have arms (and hands) instead of legs, but are otherwise basically human. They have a very hard time getting around in gravity, and use floater chairs when they can't avoid it.
  • August 18, 2012
    Arivne
    Film
    • Disney's The Jungle Book. King Louie can use his feet like hands, which makes sense since he's an orangutan.
  • August 24, 2012
    SharleeD
    • In The Bas-Lag Cycle novels, wyrmen are bat-like urban scroungers and errand-runners, whose feet serve as hands.

    • In Larry Niven's Known Space novels, people who grew up in space tend to be extremely slim and limber. One such protagonist has a habit of holding his cigarettes with his toes, leaving both hands free to work as he smokes.
  • August 24, 2012
    SonicLightning1
    Lanky from Donkey Kong 64 can do this to allow him to walk up slopes.
  • September 5, 2012
    abk0100
    The Joker in The Batman for some reason. cus he's crazy I guess.
  • October 26, 2012
    aurora369
    General Grievous from Star Wars has this as a feature of his cyborg body. He can put all six of his limbs to good use as hands, though normally he sticks to being a humanoid, folding his extra arms and walking on his legs.
  • October 26, 2012
    Khantalas
    • While they may not be fully prehensile, Raiden from Metal Gear Solid 4 has no problems wielding a sword with his feet after he breaks one of his cybernetic arms to free himself from some rubble and loses the other while trying to hold back Outer Haven. It helps that his legs are no longer human, and it is unclear whether he can pull of similar maneuvers in mundane tasks, but it is still pretty impressive.
  • October 27, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    (deleted--probably wrong interpretation)
  • October 27, 2012
    dvorak
    Wakyambi from the Nyambi sourcebook from D&D are a species of elves from the setting equivalent of Darkest Africa who have these.
  • March 11, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Champion podracer Sebulba the Dug is an alien whose legs extend from his shoulders, and his arms extend from the bottom of his trunk. Also qualifies as Bizarre Alien Biology.

    Western Animation
    • Disney's Louie the orangutan appears in the Talespin series. During "A Touch Of Glass," Louie uses his feet to remove a swindler from the pilot's seat of the Sea Duck.
  • March 16, 2013
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    Sincerity Mode: neat trope wish I thought of that.

    I'm probably being Pedantic but Sithandra replaced the metatarsus region of her foot with a hand seeing as she had a (heavily modified) heal.
  • March 19, 2013
    VPhantom
    I've done some tweaking in the main description, because I've noticed that there are two variants to this trope, so it's worth to differentiate them early on.

    Also, I'm not particularly fond of the working title. "Prehensile" is deceptive term on this case, because it doesn't apply to a lot of the examples. My proposition on this case would be Handy Feet, because the wordplay applies to all the cases, and describes the two tropes variants.
  • March 19, 2013
    Chernoskill
    The Aeon Fluxx example still needs to be added.
  • March 19, 2013
    SharleeD
    • The Librarian from Discworld was turned into an orangutan decades ago, and has made good use of this trope ever since to shelve books, play the pipe organ, etc.
  • March 20, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the Lon Chaney Sr. film The Unknown Chaney plays a circus performer "Alonzo the Armless" who uses his feet to light cigarettes, throw knives, etc. But he really does have arms, he's just hiding them because he's hiding out in the circus. He falls in love with a woman who doesn't know about his arms (or about his love) so he gets a doctor to cut off his arms, but - in a typical Chaney film twist - when he goes to his love to propose she's thrilled because she has just accepted a proposal from another man.
  • March 20, 2013
    mehtevas
    I second calling it Handy Feet.
  • March 25, 2013
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
    Handy Feet is growing on me.

    wow

    ... anyway Futurama's Into The Wild Green Yonder had Fry and number 9 do a extended handshake with their feet.
  • May 14, 2013
    GiantSpaceChinchilla
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=lrk7bjgujkt0id33n8du1rl0&trope=HandyFeet