Bear Hug

The Hug of the Gods!!!

The standardised, FDA-approved display of affection for The Big Guy (especially if s/he is a Gentle Giant and/or a Boisterous Bruiser), this consists of the hugger grabbing someone — or multiple people, if necessary — from behind (usually) with a big, sweeping motion and pulling them close (sometimes lifting them off the ground entirely), with the hugger's arm(s) wrapped tightly around the huggee's neck and/or shoulders. Being The Big Guy is not actually required, but having a large "stage presence" (whether it stems from size or sheer charisma) helps make this more convincing.

Note that this is as much a means of displaying the character's dominance/strength as it is of showing that they're just a big ol' teddy bear, and like its cousin The Glomp, is oftentimes far from consensual; the huggee often doesn't appreciate being manhandled by somebody twice their size, and you can tell a lot about a character based on whether they give in to the hugger's crushing embrace or struggle helplessly to escape. If the hug goes on for too long, expect cries of "can't... breathe..." or something similar. Despite all this, there is often little-to-no risk of actual physical injury unless the hugger Does Not Know His Own Strength on top of being overly affectionate, in which case the odds of Amusing Injuries being inflicted vastly increase.

This is Truth in Television, as any real life Gentle Giant (or a close friend of one) will tell you.

Similar to The Glomp, but with less full-body tackling and a far higher risk of asphyxiation. Unrelated to bears in general as a trope, though they can coexist in very specific circumstances. Like many tropes, can be deconstructed to horrifying effect.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Goku's father-in-law the Ox-King from Dragon Ball could give a pretty good bear hug when the situation called for it.
  • In The Twelve Kingdoms, Youko's reuniting with Rakushun. When Youko arrives in En only to find that Rakushun had made it there on his own and had been coming to the docks every morning when the ships bearing immigrants from Kei arrived, hoping that Youko would be among their number. Youko then proceeds to give him a "d'awww" inducing bear hug in gratitude.
  • Gendo Ikari expressed his desire to bear hug Shinji from behind in Ikari Shinji Raising Project, among, er... other things.
  • Gentle Giant Kurita in Eyeshield 21 is prone to bear-hugging his teammates when he's happy. When Musashi returned to the team, Kurita went to Bear Hug Musashi who dodged and Kurita ended up crushing the truck Musashi was driving.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Boys former Soviet superhero Love Sausage bear-hugs Billy Butcher (in a friendly fashion) when they first meet.
  • Pictured in the page image is Volstaag the Voluminous embracing The Mighty Thor in this manner. Thor himself has been known to do this as well.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Chewbacca from Star Wars is something of a bear, and he is as fond of hugs as he is of ripping out arms from their sockets.
  • Something similar to this happens in the 1996 film Michael, during Archangel Michael's dance with hippie waitress Anita. During the dance Anita excitedly jumps towards Michael, who catches her in a hug and lifts her up before playfully spinning her around with Anita's giggling showing she is enjoying it, especially with her doing some Foot Popping. (In this case, Michael is supporting her with one hand on her waist and the other under her buttocks).

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Smallville, Clark does this to Chloe so many times we have lost count. Notably, he is always gentle enough to avoid the negative effects... and when he hurt her, it tipped her off that she is dealing with Bizarro.
  • On Lost, when Hurley sees Sawyer again after three years, he hugs him and pulls him off the ground. Fans have dubbed it (and other hugs given by Hurley) the "Hurley Hug".
  • In Drake & Josh, Josh often hugs Drake like this, much to Drake's consternation.
  • Katie the Yellow Ranger from Power Rangers Time Force was fond of giving these.
  • The Almighty Janitor from Scrubs to Carla when she included him in the group photo. She was less than pleased, probably because she doesn't like being manhandled, but mostly because The Janitor is crazy.
    Carla: I thought you were going to kill me.
    Janitor: I fought the urge.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two" (S02, Ep22), Dean is so relieved to see Sam alive, he squeezes him in an embrace resulting in pained "owww" from Sam.

  • Dragon Bones: Ward, as part of his Obfuscating Stupidity, does this to everyone who is nice to him, and while he isn't shown to actually crack any ribs, he certainly intends to make people fear he Doesnt Know His Own Strength. His cousins, when talking about doing something nice for him, decide that he mustn't ever know, as that would lead to a bear hug.
  • The Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Halflife has the Doctor do this:
    And with that, the Doctor bounded over and gave Fitz a huge, rib-cracking hug, lifting him clear off the ground.
They're both fairly slim and unremarkable to look at, although, in another book, the Doctor lifts Fitz up in a rather effortless Bridal Carry, so he's kind of got that Muscles Are Meaningless/Waif-Fu thing going on.
  • Hagrid does this to Harry, Ron, and Hermione a lot in Harry Potter, sometimes more than one of them at the same time.
  • In the Twilight novel Breaking Dawn Bella is turned into a vampire , then hugs Edward and, much to his surprise, he feels uncomfortable because of her strength.
  • Bear Olefsky from The Star of the Guardians is very fond of this.
  • In ColSec Rebellion, Cord does this to Samella after the final battle.
  • In Unremembered Empire, Lion El'Jonson welcomes Guilliman with this, to surprise of Roboute, who's always considered him Aloof Big Brother.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In professional wrestling, bear hug either refers to a transitional hold use to control another wrestler's movement, or a squeeze meant to wear down another wrestler and possibly draw their submission. That said, there are some examples that fall inline with his trope as the page describes it, such as André the Giant when he was happy.
  • The tiny and easily excitable LuFisto has sometimes been known to spontaneously hug people when happy. Despite her size LuFisto is really strong, regularly competing with men several times larger. It'd be an accident waiting to happen, except it has.
  • Solo Darling is usually the runt on any given roster but she's also really strong and full of childlike affection...well one of her finishing moves was dubbed the "hug factor" but even then she's hurt people even when not trying.
  • Leva Bates found herself in one from mentally descending Kimberly after relenting and accepting her offer to be a tag team partner.
  • Christina Von Eerie has at times resigned herself to bear hugs from her tag team partner MsChif, who lacks a sense of personal space and the social skills to try and cheer her up in a more subtle manner.

    Video Games 
  • Debilitas from the Survival Horror game Haunting Ground, the Psychopathic Manchild gardener who chases Fiona around the castle because he's mistaken her for one of his dolls and just wants to play with her. Unfortunately, his over-excitement means he'll violently beat her to death in glee if you let him get close, or pick the poor girl up and squeeze her to death in a Bear Hug while giggling manically.
  • Sumo wrestler E. Honda from the fighting game Street Fighter II has this in his arsenal of attacks.
  • Bear Hugger is a huge Canadian lumberjack from Punch Out that would love to give his opponents Bear Hugs.
    Bear Hugger: NEED A HUG?!
  • In the ending of the Dodongo's Cavern in Ocarina of Time Darunia decides that he and Link are now Sworn Brothers, and to celebrate this he gives him two gifts: the necessary Plot Coupon, the Goron's Ruby and a Goron group Bear Hug. Cue Link running off screaming.
  • In Pokemon Heart Gold And Soul Silver, the player's walking Pokémon with high happiness will sometimes hug the player. Cue the message "Whoa! (Pokémon's name) suddenly hugged you." and a heart speech bubble over the player's Pokémon's head.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, September 2012's Item of the Month gives you the right to bear arms — as in, literally, when you purchase it, you are given two arms that came from a bear. Unsurprisingly, with both of them equipped at once, you can hug enemies.
  • Grim Fandango's ending cutscene features the demon Glottis doing this to Manny. Manny can't die from suffocation due to being already dead, yet he is still very uncomfortable with this, which would've been funny if not for the general Tear Jerker value of the moment.
    Manny: So... I guess this is it, then? (extends his hand for the last handshake with his best friend)
    Glottis: C'mere. Gimme a hug. (grabs Manny) You were the best boss... I ever had... Bye. (squeezes Manny, who tries futilely to get free)
  • One of Bamboo Pandamonium's attacks in Mega Man X8. If this gets you, it will drain a huge chunk of your health unless you call your partner in to get you out.
  • This is Grunt's way of greeting you in Mass Effect 3. But then, given that Grunt is The Big Guy even in a race whose defining trait is being The Big Guy, of course it is.
  • In Mortal Kombat X, one of Kotal Khan's fatalities is to hug his enemies hard enough that their head pops and all their innards start spewing out like a ketchup bottle.

    Web Animation 
  • Blue Team's original leader Captain Butch Flowers from Red vs. Blue:
    Captain Butch Flowers: Men, your delightful tomfoolery puts a spring in my step, and a bounce in my britches. If I weren't your commanding officer I'd pick you both up, give you a giant bear hug, and make you call me Daddy.
  • RWBY: Yang enjoys giving these to her little sister, Ruby. Of course, half the time it ends up veering into Marshmallow Hell territory, due to Boobs of Steel. And that one time it ended in a catfight…
  • Want to see a pony do a bear hug? Introduce yourself to Kettle Cornflakes.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Owen from Total Drama Island
  • Parodied in The Simpsons with a real bear hug. The bear itself was only lashing out because of an electronic tag, and embraces Homer after he removes it. Unfortunately, it still has claws.
    Homer: (looking at the marks) I don't know why bear hugs enjoy such a great reputation....
  • Road Rovers:
    Exile: I give all my comrades big kiss!
    Blitz: Stop with the kissing, or I'll start with the biting.
    Exile: OK, I give you big bear hug instead!
    Blitz: (straining) Go back to the kissing! Go back to the kissing! Kiss me! Kiss meeee...
    Exile: Don't be a weird boy.
  • Beezy J. Heinous on Jimmy Two-Shoes, occasionally.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, Clay, who Wouldn't Hit a Girl, defeats Catnappe with this, on the basis that he's not actually hitting her.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • "Lune Eclipsed": Princess Luna gives one to a shell-shocked Fluttershy after Fluttershy helps her learn to turn down the volume.
    • Wonderbolts Academy": Pinkie squeezes the stuffing out of Rainbow Dash after learning that Dash was accepted as a Wonderbolt cadet.
  • In the The Legend of Korra episode "Welcome to Republic City", the title character uses an Effortless Amazonian Lift to pick up three kids and their father and give them a massive group hug. She's only seventeen. For bonus points, her actual Polar-Bear-Dog gets in on it.
  • In the second season of Jackie Chan Adventures, the Enforcers are trying to make a getaway from their hideout when they see their old buddy Tohru in the way. Having not seen him since the previous season's finale, they don't realize he'd switched sides until the big guy grabbed all three in a Bear Hug and tossed them aside.
  • Starfire of Teen Titans likes to hug this way. Unfortunately for the other person, Starfire has super strength and may forget that when she's being affectionate.
  • Junko of Storm Hawks gives a couple of these to his teammates. They don't protest the hugs, but are obviously struggling to breathe.

    Real Life 
  • Kim Komenich, a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer and professor foiled a bank robbery by wrapping the perp in a bear hug until police arrived. The fact that Komenich has covered wars in places like Vietnam, is 6'2" and weighs about 230 pounds probably helped.
  • Ozzy Osbourne isn't particularly fond of them:
    I have a message for anyone coming to the Ozzfest this summer (2000): If you're planning to jump up onstage during my set, please do not give me any bear hugs, because they fucking hurt. Listen to me, I'm dead serious. On the first night of last year's tour, this enormous guy jumped up onstage and gave me a huge bear hug. He crushed three of my ribs and I had to do the whole tour in absolute agony. I couldn't believe it, the first fucking show!
  • This maneuver can be used aggressively, though, as a sufficiently tight bear-hug can squeeze the air out of someone's lungs. There's a rather easy counter for this, though — push your thumbs into the hugger's sides, just above the hip-bone, and push away.