Created By: XFllo on November 27, 2012 Last Edited By: XFllo on May 17, 2013
Troped

Good Luck Gesture

Characters use hand gestures to wish something, hope to gain good luck or as anti-jinx measure

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There are several hand gestures that characters might use to express hope, wishing good luck or trying to avoid bad luck. It can be accompanied by idioms like "fingers crossed", "keep your fingers crossed for me" or "break a leg". It might indicate that the characters are superstitious, but frequently it's just a natural part of Body Language tropes. Mind that these hand gestures might vary cross-culturally.

  • FINGERS CROSSED:
    People cross their index finger and middle finger, sometimes on both hands. Generally it has the meaning of wishing for good luck or good fortune. Alternately, it may indicate intense hope or it can serve as anti-jinx measure. [[note]]The gesture has probably pagan or early Christian origins where the gesture was believed to ward off evil. Some scholars think that crossing your fingers is a way of making the Christian sign of the cross, and as such, it invokes a prayer or desire.[[/note]] This gesture is visually similar to Lying Finger Cross, but as its meaning is positive, it's not hidden.
  • THUMBS CLUTCHED IN PALMS:
    Characters firmly clutch their thumb in the palm, and it can be done with both hands. It serves as wishing good luck for somebody else, or it expresses that a character asks the others to wish them exactly that.
  • THUMBS UP:
    Thumbs Up is a common gestures made by extending the thumb upward. It has several meanings (OK, number one, hitch-hiking, showing a direction, or an obscene gesture). It usually means approval or praise. Sometimes it's used as support or wishing good luck. Examples from fiction listed here should convey just the 'good luck' meaning.
  • FIG SIGN:
    Fig sign is a gesture made with the hand and fingers curled and the thumb put between the middle and index fingers, or the middle and ring fingers, forming the fist so that the thumb partly pokes out. In some areas of the world, the gesture is considered a good luck charm; in others it's considered obscene.
  • KNOCKING ON WOOD:
    A superstitious gesture used to ensure that a good thing will continue to occur after it's been acknowledged. However, it's sometimes used after speaking of an unfortunate event, which is likely to happen, so that it does not actually occur.
  • JAPANESE "BREAK THE BOX" ANTI-JINX MEASURE:
    The forefingers and thumbs of both hands are pressed together to make a box shape. Another person has to "break" the box shape with a downward motion of the forefinger.

Examples from media:

Examples of crossed fingers:

Film - animated
  • In The Simpsons Movie, Homer hopes that Ned Flanders confesses to being homosexual. Rather intensely, too.
    Ned Flanders: The Good Lord is telling me to confess to something...
    Homer Simpson: [his fingers crossed] Gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay...

Film - Live Action
  • Both versions of The Parent Trap have a special gesture. They cross fingers (for luck) on both hands, with arms crossed (symbolizing the girls' Twin Switch). It was used much more in the original Haley Mills film.

Literature
  • In The Shining, the Torrances are driving up the mountain in their unreliable VW Bug. Danny is confident that the car will make it. Wendy isn't and keeps her fingers crossed, Danny glances down and sees through her sandals that she crossed her toes as well.

Live Action TV
  • Friends, "The One Where Theyíre Up All Night": There is a beeping sound coming from the living room in Phoebe's apartment. She sleepily goes to investigate, crossing her fingers on both hands, saying: "Please donít be a space ship. Please donít be a space ship." Itís a broken smoke detector.
  • Horrible Histories, "Terrible Tudors": In the sketch "Queen for Nine Days", Lady Jane Grey writes a letter to Mary Tudor, asking her to recognize her as Queen. When she hands the letter to be sent, she crosses her fingers on one hand and says: "Fingers crossed!" She smiles very intensely.
  • The Big Bang Theory, "The Holographic Excitation": Stuart says to Raj that he tries to use Halloween parties as means of meeting women. He crosses fingers and says: "The ninth is the charm."

Video Games
  • Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII does this whenever she is worried things might go wrong. She does it a lot of times throughout the game.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?": Homer crosses his fingers on both hands when he's expected to receive the First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.
      Homer: [crossing fingers] Please, please, please, please, please!
      Lisa: Dad, you know you won!
      Homer: Don't jinx it!
    • When kids of Springfield Elementary take a career aptitude test and are getting their results, Martin crosses his fingers and chants "Systems analyst...systems analyst" before getting the result of systems analyst.
    • In "Missionary: Impossible", Lisa Jr. crosses her fingers when she says she wants to give up gambling. She doesn't hide it behind her back so her wish is probably sincere and she really hopes to stop.
  • In the Centurions episode "The Sky is on Fire", Crystal tells Lucy the orangutan to do this just before attempting to teleport a weapons system through atmospheric disturbance. Lucy holds the gesture behind her back.

Examples of clutched thumbs:

Tabletop games
  • In Warhammer 40,000 Imperial troops sometimes "thumb their palms", a gesture that resembles the aquila, the double-headed eagle used as the Imperium's insignia.

Examples of thumbs up for good luck:

Film - Live Action
  • At the end of Battleship, as Hopper goes to ask the Admiral for permission to marry his daughter, she gives him a thumbs up.
  • At the end of Terminator 2 Judgement Day, the T-800 gives John Conner and Sarah Conner a thumbs-up as he's being lowered into the steel.

Examples of Japanese Anti-jinx measure:

Anime and manga
  • In Spirited Away, an anti-jinx gesture is used that originated in Japan. The forefingers and thumbs of both hands are pressed together to make a box shape. Another person has to "break" the box shape with a downward motion of the forefinger. It is seen when Chihiro steps on an unlucky magical slug.

Community Feedback Replies: 45
  • November 28, 2012
    ArkadyDarell
    I'm not sure if this is basically a narrower version of the broader concept of crossing your fingers for good luck, or if that's yet another trope.
  • November 28, 2012
    lexicon
    It sounds like it's exactly crossing one's fingers for good luck. Is that tropable?
  • November 29, 2012
    XFllo
    Well, I thought it might be but perhaps it's not. I don't do it and I would have to think really hard if I ever saw somebody doing it in Real Life. That's why it struck me in media. But thanks for your feedback anyway.
  • November 29, 2012
    ArkadyDarell
    Don't see why it wouldn't be a trope, as it's a consistently used gesture which has a specific storytelling purpose. And crossing one's fingers for luck/wishing is common enough both in fiction and in Real Life.

    I think it's ironically probably the opposite problem--Seen It A Million Times. I had that problem while writing up Lying Finger Cross.
  • November 29, 2012
    XFllo
    I think it might be a cultural thing. What is more common here in the Czech Republic is showing your thumb(s) clutched in your palm(s) - as in when you say "keep one's fingers crossed".
  • December 22, 2012
    XFllo
    Bump for feedback.
  • December 22, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In another Simpsons when the kids of Springfield Elementary take a career aptitude test and are getting their results, Martin crosses his fingers and chants "Systems analyst...systems analyst" before getting the result of systems analyst.
  • January 2, 2013
    XFllo
    Might this be connected with clutching your fist? Maybe it could be a part of teh very same trope.
  • January 4, 2013
    lexicon
    I don't know what's going on in the picture but it makes me think of the peace symbol. Something like this, but from fiction, would be better because it shows the hope on the person's face.
  • January 4, 2013
    Xtifr
    I think that hoping for good luck can be considered a form of wishing, so this should be considered to cover that case. Its such a common form, though, that it's probably worth mentioning in the description (and maybe even a redirect, like Cross Your Fingers For Luck).

    And...just like Lying Finger Cross, it's so common and so rarely a big deal that I'm having a hard time recalling specific examples, even though I know I've Seen It A Million Times.
  • January 5, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    "Might this be connected with clutching your fist?"

    More connected with using your fingers to make a cross, as in the Christian cross. The idea being that you're invoking a prayer to give you good luck/your desire.
  • January 11, 2013
    Sackett
    I thought crossing your fingers was an anti-jinx measure
  • January 13, 2013
    Khantalas
    • Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII does this whenever she is worried things might go wrong. She does it a lot of times throughout the game.
  • January 23, 2013
    Thecommander236
    They is one trope that we need that really should have been made a while ago...
  • January 28, 2013
    XFllo
    Needs Examples. Also bumped for feedback.
  • January 28, 2013
    SharleeD
    Maybe it should be broadened to Good Luck Gesture, as crossing fingers is one culture's version of this, but hardly the only one.
  • February 3, 2013
    Entirity
    Perhaps change this page to be a reflection of all good luck gestures, not just this one. If so, an example would be in Percy Jackson, the thre finger claw pused away from teh heart. I woul dsuggest making this about any work of fiction that has a common gesture for luck or fortune.
  • February 4, 2013
    Entirity
    If you're going to stick with crossing fingers only, I'd say this is not tropable, considering this is common in Real Life, and is akin to waving or People Sit On Chairs.
  • February 5, 2013
    Arivne
    ^ Please read People Sit On Chairs. It does not forbid tropes about things that are common in real life. The page itself says "Note that the criticism here isn't simply that the trope in question is "too common" or "too broad", as No Trope Is Too Common."

    People Sit On Chairs defines a trope as a storytelling convention that conveys some sort of information to the audience.

    In this case, a character making the gesture tells the audience that the character is superstitious and wants to gain good luck (or avoid bad luck).
  • February 6, 2013
    XFllo
    I tried to extend the description to include several gestures. But I could think of only two of those. Be so kind and suggest/add another ones. Also, this desperately needs more examples.

  • February 6, 2013
    Thecommander236
    Cool, cool.
  • February 10, 2013
    StarSword
    This is close to "clutched thumbs".

    Tabletop Games:
    • In Warhammer 40000 Imperial troops sometimes "thumb their palms", a gesture that resembles the aquila, the double-headed eagle used as the Imperium's insignia.
  • February 10, 2013
    Met
    In Spirited Away, an anti-jinx gesture is used that originated in Japan. The forefingers and thumbs of both hands are pressed together to make a box shape. Another person has to "break" the box shape with a downward motion of the forefinger.

    It is seen when Chihiro steps on an unlucky magical slug.
  • February 19, 2013
    StarSword
    Adjusted 40K example for clarity.
  • February 19, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Would "cross my heart, hope to die" count?
  • February 21, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ I'm not familiar with that gesture, or at least I don't get it from your question. What gesture is it?
  • February 21, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    ^^ That's taking an oath, not a wish for good luck.
  • March 1, 2013
    Rotpar
    • In The Shining, the Torrances are driving up the mountain in their unreliable VW Bug. Danny is confident that the car will make it. Wendy isn't and keeps her fingers crossed, Danny glaces down and sees through her sandals that she crossed her toes as well.
  • March 3, 2013
    Thecommander236
    Ugh. I'm kind of superstitious, so when I saw the break the box "evil begone" gesture on Spirited Away, I picked up the habit of doing that. Although no one else here does it, so I have to break the box on my leg. |S
  • March 6, 2013
    XFllo
    This will be a long ride. I sincerely hope that our effort will go somewhere.
  • March 12, 2013
    TooBah
    Under Film:
    • Both versions of The Parent Trap have a special one--crossed fingers (for luck) on both hands, with arms crossed (symbolizing the girls' Twin Switch). Used much more in the original Haley Mills film.
  • March 12, 2013
    TooBah
    Be careful with your entries--if you're crossing your fingers because you're lying, as with the Simpsons/"Mission: Impossible" example, That's a different Trope.
  • March 12, 2013
    XFllo
    @Too Bah: I'm aware of Lying Finger Cross and it's already in the description. It was what gave me the idea for this draft, actually, and originally, it was just a trope for Crossed Fingers for Good Luck.

    I think the Simpsons example from "Missionary Impossible" is this trope for hope or intense wish. Lisa Jr. was not lying because she did not hide her crossed fingers. My interpretation is she really wanted to give up gambling. I modified the example to make it clear, but if I am mistaken in my understanding of the scene, I will remove it completely of course.

    Thanks for the example from The Parent Trap.
  • March 25, 2013
    JonnyB
    Thumbs up is also often used as a good luck gesture.
  • March 25, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ True. I'll be sure to add it and write some stuff about it. Any examples from fiction?
  • April 9, 2013
    JonnyB
    If I recall, at the end of Battleship, As Hopper goes to ask the Admiral for permission to marry his daughter, she gives him a thumbs up.
  • April 16, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • At the end of Terminator 2 Judgement Day, the T-800 gives John Conner and Sarah Conner a thumbs-up as he's being lowered into the steel.
  • April 23, 2013
    UltramarineAlizarin
    Crossed fingers in Western Animation:
    • In the Centurions episode "The Sky is on Fire", Crystal tells Lucy the orangutan to do this just before attempting to teleport a weapons system through atmospheric disturbance. Lucy holds the gesture behind her back.
  • April 23, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ The part with "holding it behind her back" makes it sound a bit like Lying Figer Cross, but I believe you it's this one:-)
    Also: Five hats, yay! However, do you really think it's launchable? I'm kind of satisfied with the description (though that could always use some polishing) but I'd be more comfortable having more examples...
  • April 24, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    I've only seen knocking on wood (also touching wood and touching iron) used as an anti-bad luck gesture, not a good luck gesture. The wikipedia page on the topic is a bit short but it only refers to it as an anti-jinx measure.

    Since the focus is a little different than the others and you don't have any examples, it might be best to remove knocking on wood.
  • April 25, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ I see your point, but other gestures are anti-jinx as well (finger cross, Japanese box).

    What do others think?
  • April 27, 2013
    XFllo
    Unless there are some major objections and valid points, I'd like to launch in in a week or so.
  • May 4, 2013
    XFllo
    The working title is Good Luck Hand Gestures. Is that good enough? I also had in mind Hand Gestures For Good Luck. Opinions?
  • May 4, 2013
    StarSword
  • May 5, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ That could work.
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