War Doctor: Are you capable of speaking without flapping your hands about?
Eleventh Doctor: (gesturing emphatically)
Facial expressions and physical gestures as idioms. Some of these were invented for television, some came from the wild, but TV certainly gives them extra attention — it's a big way that TV differs from the stage.
Things like Spock's "Fascinating" eyebrow-raise
, the wide eyes of surprise, the "these people are crazy" eye-roll, the scoff of derision, the furrowed brow of anger, the other kind of furrowed brow of concentration, and the lip-curl of disgust.
Animation has its own pile of these, like bulging or heart-shaped eyes, or Anime
's sweat drop of embarrassed exasperation
These are distinct from Reaction Shots
, which have a narrower and more specific meaning.
When it's a character in a video game performing the action over and over because the developers programmed a perfectly good action and want to get as much out of it as possible, it's Going Through the Motions
A subtrope of Body Language
. Twitchy Eye
is a specific type of character tic used to convey anxiety, rage, or impending psychosis. For specific gestures done while deep in thought, see Thinking Tic
. For the verbal version, see Verbal Tic
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Anime and Manga
- Gendo Ikari's so-called "Gendo Pose" in Neon Genesis Evangelion: sitting with his elbows on a table, fingers interlaced and hands in front of his mouth (thereby preventing anyone from seeing his expression unless looking from below).
- Thereby saving the animators from having to draw his lips.
- Also couples with his shiny glasses hiding his eyes. Hiding the lips hides pretty much all chance of reading his expression. Not that he's particularly expressive under normal circumstances.
- Gendo also pushes up his glasses, as if to add a non-verbal '...dumbass' to the end of his sentence. This also has the side-effect of making him seem more suspect; in a real life example of this trope, many people will cover their mouths somewhat when lying (without knowing it), and many other people will pick up on that (usually subconsciously). Of course, some people just scratch their nose from time to time, unintentionally invoking this.
- Also, Shinji has a habit of clenching and unclenching his hand when anxious. It's possibly a tic in the actual psychological sense, due to the very real pain and trauma caused to him when his Humongous Mecha had its arm ripped off.
- Monster: Inspector Lunge's most distinguishing feature is his habit of moving his fingers as though he were typing, which (he claims) helps him memorize information verbatim.
- Pretty much anything L does in Death Note, Near's hair-twirling and playing with toys, and Mello's maniacal chocolate-eating.
- Fullmetal Alchemist. Envy has a very distinctive grin, which lets us recognize him when he's transformed into someone.
- Miki of Revolutionary Girl Utena and his seemingly random stopwatch usage. He did it so often that fans had asked Ikuhara just why the hell did Miki keep timing things? Naturally, Ikuhara gave one of his infamous non-answers.
- Also, the protagonist is an athletic girl who will do random stretches in the middle of conversations.
- Haruhi from Suzumiya Haruhi has her famous "hairflick". This is only portrayed in the anime.
- Kyon's "frown and sigh", which he tends to do a lot.
- Don't forget Kyon's infamous Face Palm tendency.
- Itsuki's hand gestures when explaining something, as if he's conducting the listeners' thoughts in concert with his own.
- Klahadore (Captain Kuro) from One Piece had a rather distinctive way of adjusting his glasses. Most characters wrote it off, but his old crewmate Jango understood exactly why he still pushed his glasses up with the palm of his hand.
- The odd little dance Chopper does whenever he's denying feeling pleased with being praised. Word of God says it was based on a Real Life comedy routine.
- Camie the mermaid's distinctive face fault. It's...hard to describe. Her eyes bug out, her teeth jut out, her jaw seems to unhinge, and her tongue looks huge and hangs out.
- Bon Clay has a unique facial expression, a wide grin with one eye squinting and the other wide, which gives him away when disguised.
- Lelouch from Code Geass is well-known among anime fans for his propensity for dramatic poses, but he seems particularly fond of hand gestures that draw attention to his left eye (the one that holds his Magical Eye powers). A good example of this can be seen in the first opening for the show's second season.
- C. C. can often be found noshing on pizza or lying down, oftentimes cradling her stuffed Cheese-kun doll.
- Deconstructed in Part 4 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable. Miyamoto, the user of the Stand Enigma can trap and fold anything in paper, but in order to trap a person he first needs to identify their specific "nervous tic". Obviously, he's scarily good at figuring them out.
- The heroine of Gokusen is a Yazuka Princess, and thus while she isn't a Tattooed Crook herself, has picked up the gesture of raising her sleeve to show (nonexistent in her case) tattoos when aggravated.
- Ash in some parts of the series would flip his Nice Hat from front to back whenever he gets serious in a battle.
- Drew has a very noticeable habit of flicking his bangs out of this face. He probably does this about twice an episode when he appears.
- In Naruto, we have Gai and Rock Lee's thumbs ups, Manly Poses, and Youthful Grins; Kakashi's happy eye-arch; Iruka's blushing and scar-scratching; Sakura shoving her fist in the air; Ino sticking her tongue out; Shikamaru slumping his shoulders; Tsunade biting her thumb; Kabuto pushing up his glasses; Hinata finger twiddling; Naruto and Kushina scratching the back of their heads; Gaara crossing his arms...
- In the manga version of Battle Royale, Hiroki Sugimura has a tendency to tap his nose when he doesn't know what to say. Lampshaded by his friend Takako Chigusa.
- Ryuuji from Toradora! tugs at his bangs in a characteristic way whenever he's shy, embarrassed, uncertain, or thinking.
- In the anime version of K-On!, Mio always holds her guitar pick in her mouth and flips her hair back over her shoulder before she starts playing her bass.
- Grimmjow comments that Ulquiorra has a habit of striking "prey" in the same location as his own hollow hole. He speculates that Ulquiorra does it subconsciously and may not even be aware of what he's doing.
- Grimmjow has a habit of flexing his fingers like claws whenever he's getting excited about a fight or challenge.
- Nnoitra had a habit of sticking his tongue out when excited or cocky. His Espada number was also tattooed on his tongue, so his character tic is also what reveals his rank.
- Hyouka's Oreki Houtarou has a habit of playing with his forelock when he's thinking particularly hard about a case.
- In Digimon Tamers, Mitsuo Yamaki is constantly seen flicking the lid of his lighter open and shut. He's never actually seen smoking though.
- K's Fushimi Saruhiko clicks his tongue an awful lot. He does it to his subordinates, his superiors, people that annoy him, things that annoy him, situations that annoy him, to avoid answering...the list is endless. He even does it to Misaki, or at least when he's not in his special mode.
- Given the way comic-book physics work, there is no possible way Superman (or any other hero, for that matter) needs to raise one arm when he takes flight. Yet... it looks cool.
- There is plenty of evidence that Professor X, Jean Grey, and all the various telepaths of the X-Men books can use their mental powers without pressing their fingers to their temples (and optionally extending one hand) - doing so would appear to be the telepathic equivalent of sticking your tongue out the corner of your mouth while aiming at a target: it just feels like it helps, even though it serves no purpose.
- X-Men villain (and sometimes ally) Magneto appears to reflexively extend his hands to guide his magnetic powers (one hand for minor uses, both for really big stuff). It clearly isn't necessary, though, as he will occasionally remain motionless when using his powers for intimidation purposes, presumably a conscious decision to imply that a foe is beneath his notice. There has been evidence that he can use his powers better when using his hand, but like the example below, it's probably just to help him focus.
- Superhumanly agile characters like Spider-Man and Nightcrawler will often crouch◊ or even drop to all-fours◊ for no reason other than because it looks dynamic and to show off how flexible they are.
- Batman tends to... loom at every available opportunity.
- Dr. Evil from Austin Powers raising his pinky finger to his mouth.
- In The Caine Mutiny Captain Queeg has a nervous habit of rolling around some glass beads in his hand. When he does this at a court martial hearing, it pretty much guarantees that he'll be released for being mentally unstable.
- RoboCop has several trademark gestures:
- The gun twirl, trademark of Show Within a Show character T.J. Lazer, which is how his partner recognized him after his death and cyborg makeover in RoboCop (1987).
- The driving style. Robocop's pull out scrapes the bottom of his car as it did before his cyborg makeover.
- James Bond
- Bond's infamous hypnobrow of doom.
- Boris Grishenko, Evil Genius for the Big Bad of GoldenEye, had a habit of constantly twirling his pens and clicking on them when he's working or nervous. Bond has a pen that operates as a grenade, armed by clicking three times, disarmed by clicking three times. You do the math.
- In Casino Royale, Le Chiffre tends to place his fingers on his temple when he lies or bluffs, to still his nervous twitch (a minor plot point). Also, when particularly stressed, his medical condition - leaking blood from his left tear duct - kicks in.
- Elliot Carver, of Tomorrow Never Dies, tends to outstretch his arms in a "You See" motion when making his grand speeches.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Sir Bedivere habitually lifts up the visor of his helmet.
- In Back to the Future, Marty McFly sleeps on either his side or his stomach with an arm behind his back.
- The Harry Potter films
- The Voldemort neck roll that Harry takes on when their minds are melded.
- Hermione's eyebrows dancing up and down with every syllable, sometimes getting out of sync with each other. Emma Watson even does this when she's not acting, making it more of an actor tic, though she has managed to tone it down somewhat in the later films.
- And there is also Crouch Jr's lip-licking, which is what made his father realize that his son is impersonating Mad-Eye Moody.
- Infernal Affairs has a couple of trademark tics that are actually plot-relevant: Yan's habit of tapping his fingers on things and Ming's of tapping objects he's holding against his leg.
- In The Sting, Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) has many tics, including the way he holds a cup of coffee and the way he throws one shoulder back.
- In the Ocean's Eleven movies, Rusty is eating something in almost every scene.
- In Labyrinth Jareth frequently contact juggles a crystal ball.
- Madison in Splash tends to bite her lower lip when thinking or embarrassed.
- In Road to Perdition, psychopathic hitman Harlan Maguire (Jude Law) has a habit of twirling a coin over his fingers in boredom or frustration. Pretty tame when you consider his other hobbies...
- Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean films runs with his arms in the air, flailing them as he runs. This has been dubbed "the lizard run" by fans of the series. Captain Barbossa widens his eyes when he emphasizes things in speech.
- In many of the older Godzilla movies, Godzilla often slams his fist into his palm as he walks.
- The Joker from The Dark Knight licks his lips while he talks a lot. Word of God states that this was a result of Heath Ledger being annoyed by the feeling of the scar prosthetics and unconsciously licking at them because of it and after seeing him do it a few times with the full make-up and finding it seriously creepy, they decided to just make it part of the character.
- And in The Dark Knight Rises Bane constantly is grasping the lapels of whatever outfit he's currently wearing. This is seen when Selina looks back at him before deciding to jump into the Bat, and also when he and his mercenaries are holding the Wayne Enterprises board hostage, among others.
- Oliver Hardy twiddles his tie whenever he was frustrated. Stan Laurel would fiddle with his hair from the top and whimper when upset.
- Hilbert of Fermats Room would correct the other characters' grammar when they wrote on the chalkboard, adding accent marks (particularly over the letter 'o').
- In Secret Window, Mort's habit of opening his mouth and clicking his jaw, which occurs more and more often as he becomes more and more unhinged. This is an actual symptom of schizophrenia.
- Calvin Candie of Django Unchained tends to bang on whatever hard surface is in front of him (or clap if there isn't one) for emphasis when speaking.
- In The Big Sleep, Philip Marlowe rubs his earlobe when his concentrating. Carmen also bites her thumb, which irritates Marlowe.
- Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan (who's just slightly self-conscious about his height) tends to lift his chin defensively when under stress, especially in the earlier books.
- The Wheel of Time:
- Nynaeve often tugs her braid when she's agitated. And she is often agitated. About halfway through the series she decides this habit isn't dignified enough for someone who is supposed to be a Yellow Aes Sedai and Queen of Malkier. So now, whenever she's annoyed, she pauses and makes a visible effort to not tug her braid.
- Most of the female characters smooth their skirts when they're nervous.
- Thom knuckles his mustaches while thinking, Balwer dry washes his hands, Perrin scratches his beard, Julin removes his cap, crumples it, then puts it back on again. The series is rather swamped with character tics.
- In the book Children of Dune, the late Baron used to tap his fingers in a certain way. This is not genetic, and when one of his descendants does it, it's significant.
- Bella Swan from Twilight often bites her lower lip, a trait she shares with Kristen Stewart.
- Narrator Huckleberry Finn remarks that Tom Sawyer, in the lesser-known Mark Twain novel Tom Sawyer, Detective, has a habit of tracing the letter V on his cheek or chin when he's thinking deeply.
- In the first book of the Sword of Truth series, both Richard and Darken Rahl have their ticks. Richard runs his hands through his hair when gets nervous or exasperated, while Rahl licks his fingers and runs them over his lips and eyebrows habitually. Richard's tic clues Zedd in that the "Darken Rahl" they see is not, in fact, Darken Rahl, but he realizes it a moment too late.
- In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Violet always ties back her hair when she's inventing something.
- In Isaac Asimov's Powell and Donovan stories, Powell tends to pull at his mustache when he's nervous, whereas Donovan runs his fingers through his hair. In "Catch That Rabbit!" Powell even reaches for the mustache while wearing a space suit.
- In the Discworld novels, Lord Vetinari raises one eyebrow when he's faced with something particularly stupid, usually in conjunction with a deeply ironic remark. Lampshaded in Making Money, where Vetinari-wannabe Cosmo Lavish practices his eyebrow raising.
- Flight of the Intruder gives us Lt. Cool Hand Grafton, who suffers from stress-related palsy when he's not flying.
- A Song of Ice and Fire
- Arya often chews on her lip.
- Stannis Baratheon keeps his jaw clenched and grinds his teeth.
- After an incident in the first book, Jon frequently flexes his wounded hand.
- Aomamae in Haruki Murakami's "1Q84" is described as having beautiful facial features that, upon frowning or grimacing, make a "shocking transformation [that] terrified anyone who saw it..." She even uses this as a psychological weapon against men whom she wants to leave her alone.
- Anastasia of Fifty Shades of Grey is prone to flushing and blushing.
- Garrett of Glen Cook's Garrett, P.I. series does a Spock-like eyebrow trick when interviewing clients.
- In The Big Sleep, Carmen sucks her thumb, despite being about 20 years old, showing that she's got some screws loose.
- Horatio Hornblower:
- Bush tends to rub his hands together when pleased.
- In Commodore Hornblower, Mound has his hands in his pockets. Rather, he keeps starting to put his hands in his pockets, remembers he's in the presence of the Commodore, and desists. Hornblower is distracted enough by this that he eventually orders the kid to just do it and quit fidgeting.
- Glee's Kurt Hummel almost always fixes his hair while singing a high note, and always sits with his legs crossed.
- The Dick Van Dyke Show did it with Dick's famous "now I'm drunk, now I'm sober" schtick.
- CSI: Miami must be eligible for Horatio Caine's habit of putting his hands on his hips while wearing sunglasses. And his habit of putting on sunglasses for dramatic pronouncements. Or, if he's already wearing them, adjusting them. Or taking them off, and putting them on again a moment later.
- And let's not forget that he never kneels like a normal person, he always gets down on one knee, as if to propose. (Granted, it's an easier position to get up from when you're only going to be kneeling for about five seconds, but Horatio kneels a lot.)
- Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a tic related to his glasses. He would take them off or put them on with essentially every emotional "beat" (eventually, this was Lampshade Hung when Buffy worked out he did this to avoid having to see whatever was going on).
- As well as his Twitchy Eye, Captain Darling off Blackadder Goes Fourth also has a habit of squinting his left eye. Not to mention Blackadder's overpronounciation of his B's (due to Rowan Atkinson's stammer) and Melchetts bleating.
- In Blackadder II, Queenie has a habit of shrieking like a little girl either when delighted or angry to fit in with her spoiled brat character type.
- Simon is good at this. One of the best was when River told Jubal, "I don't think your intentions are honorable" and Simon squinted (saying "Oh, really?")
- Also, Jayne is frequently seen curiously touching things, such as Simon's birthday cake and the hologram in the hospital.
- Dr Cox's habit of touching his nose in Scrubs. According to actor John C. McGinley, this is an homage to Paul Newman's character in The Sting. Also how he puts his hands behind his head when he's upset - this was lampshaded at some point in Season 7. Also, whenever he takes off a pair of medical gloves, he always uses the elastic to ping them away.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- Picard's habit of straightening his uniform whenever he stands up. So common that fans gave it a joke name: the Picard Maneuver (named after an actual tactic the character invented). He also did a little motion with his hand most of the time when he said "Engage."
- Then there's Lore's facial tic, which comes in handy when you need to distinguish him from Data.
- Data has a few of his own, such as quickly tilting his head to one side or another when he thinks. It's apparently the body language equivalent of a hard drive clicking.
- This is lampshaded in "Hero Worship" where Data is tending to a human boy who is trying to act just like Data note and Data cannot get him to hold still to brush the boy's hair. Data realizes this tic could be distracting to others.
- Stargate SG-1
- Daniel Jackson tends to subtly furrow his eyebrows and lips when frustrated (although that's probably more Michael Shanks). Although this lessened later in the series, for at least the first two seasons, Daniel had a habit of licking his lips or biting them when he was thinking or was interrupted. Late in the show, he also has the tendency to let his head drop forward whenever he's frustrated or bemused.
- Teal'c falls victim quite frequently to the Spock Eyebrows — so frequently that it's been lampshaded on multiple occasions. Once, Teal'c interrogated a prisoner simply by raising his eyebrows. He also clenches his jaw when he's irked.
- Col. Carter's momentary grimace anytime she either does something wrong, or bad things are about to happen.
- Stargate Atlantis: Rodney McKay snaps his fingers when he's trying to remember something, and shakes his finger (like he's scolding you) when he's thinking really hard. The actor once snapped his fingers at his girlfriend by mistake when he'd been playing McKay all day. As McKay is an asshole, this didn't go down too well. According to David Hewlett, his then-girlfriend/now-wife gives him a 10-minute grace period after he comes home to shed his McKay-isms. After that...
- Doctor Who
- The First Doctor (William Hartnell) would often gesture with his hands close to his face. Peter Purves, who played his companion Stephen Tyler, said that this was William Hartnell's response to not being able to gesture broadly in the same way as you could on stage, because TV was "small" (i.e., it didn't capture all the action across the whole set all the time). He would also flutter his hands when trying to decide something. He also tended to clutch◊ at his jacket lapels◊. He often ends sentences with a distinctive 'hmm?' and ful-fblu-I mean-flubs his lines (although never breaking character), even becoming The Unintelligible at times, and tends to deliberately forget people's names as a form of Malicious Misnaming, particularly with Chesterton (stemming from a Throw It In of the actor's tendency to forget the character's name in the first few serials). His movements tend to be quite jerky, almost to the point of trembling, and his facial expressions tend towards the smirky.
- The Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton):
- Had a habit of wringing◊ his◊ hands◊ constantly. The Eleventh Doctor imitated this.
- If he couldn't wring his hands, he'd twiddle his fingers and drum them on things, such as his other hand.
- Lots and lots of eyebrow quirking.
- The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) had his neck rub. His movements tended to be very sharp and precise - borderline catlike.
- The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker):
- Running a hand through his hair, saying "What!" whenever he heard something he didn't like, and cocking his head and going "Ah, well..." whenever he was about to deliver technobabble. (David Tennant deliberately invoked that last one with his Doctor too.)
- He was also notorious for his bulging eyes and cheeky little hand-waves, later used by the Ninth Doctor - as well as his Cheshire Cat Grin, often combined with a Kubrick Stare when he had to be extra frightening. Unlike the Ninth Doctor, in moments of extreme panic, his eyes point in opposite directions.
- A lot of his gestures call attention to his unusually big and awkward-looking nose - tapping or pushing on the side for 'on the nose' or 'it's a secret', prodding it, pinching the bridge or the tip in frustration, stroking it in thought.... even the very few times he's being flirty he tends to do so by delicately touching his nose.
- He would often step on his scarf by accident, and refused to enter doorways in the same way twice, usually accompanying them with some posing or bizarre gestures. Especially in contrast to the Third Doctor, his hand and arm gestures are big, smooth and relaxed rather than hard and tight. He never looks at his hands when going for his pockets, so whenever he does he flails his hands around in a rather comical fashion before finding them.
- Whenever he's fixing, making or sabotaging some sort of device, he will inevitably put one of the tools or parts into his mouth to hold it while he works on it with his hands. Even if it'd make more sense for him to just put the item down.
- When entering a corridor or entering a room, he always strikes a pose, rushes in flapping all over the place or enters in some other weird way, with Tom Baker's aim being to 'never enter a room the same way twice'. This supposedly started from frustration with the lack of camera angle and lighting variation possible in most of the cheap sets the BBC used and the stereotypical Doctor Who fascination with substituting action with running down identical corridors, and so becomes very obvious in the more claustrophobic and corridor-based serials, like "Horror of Fang Rock". Since the Fourth Doctor is a massive Attention Whore and a ham to end all hams, it works really well.
- In addition to the Cheshire Cat Grin, he has a sort of 'cute face' that he does when trying to look stupid and loveable and harmless after being caught doing something absolutely terrible. A good example is his Aside Glance in "The Ark in Space" after finding a dead body.
- The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) had his rrrolling Rrrs. He also flapped and fluttered his hands around ebulliently. He likes to twitch his eyebrows up and down rapidly when being deliberately funny.
- The Eighth Doctor (in the novels, anyway) had a habit of repeating words five or six times whenever he was excited or upset. He would also stand right in people's faces, totally oblivious to how uncomfortable they might be. And of course, he also had a tendency to kiss people without warning...
- The Ninth Doctor tended to do a big, toothy grin often accompanied with cute little hand gestures, directly lifted from the Fourth Doctor; the key difference being that Four looked genuinely happy and adorable when he did it, even if he was being alien and terrifying, and the Ninth manages to just look alien and terrifying. His genuine smiles are simultaneously both more toned down, and bigger and goofier. He seems to attempt to make his eyes bulge out Four-style too, but the actor just can't do it, instead compensating by raising his eyebrows up really, really high. When being serious, he tends to punctuate his speech with sharp little head-nods to draw emphasis to certain words.
- The Tenth Doctor:
- He runs his hands through his hair when he's frustrated.
- He dramatically dons his glasses when it's time to look clever .
- That tongue-on-the-roof-of-his-mouth thing he does all the time.
- "...and my voice going all squeaky when I shouted, I still do that! I got that from you." ("You" being the Fifth Doctor.)
- Shoving his hands in his pockets when confronting enemies or antagonistic characters.
- Rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet while talking, especially to aforementioned enemies and antagonists.
- Pulling on his earlobe or rubbing the back of his neck when uncomfortable or embarrassed (usually brought on by Donna).
- The Left Eyebrow◊. It has its own tumblr.
- David Tennant must be contractually obligated to make this face◊ at least once an episode.
- The Eleventh Doctor:
- Drawing things in the air to arrive at epiphanies.
- Wringing his hands◊ when nervous or when musing things over (See also; The Second Doctor down)
- Being VERY awkward when being kissed.
- Spinning in a complete circle rather than just turning to the right or left to look at something.
- Fiddling with his bowtie before embarking on a course of action and/or after arguing with someone.
- Repeating words over and over when flustered, often changing their tone each time "Yes yes yes of course yes of course!" etc.
- Eleven also tends to snap his fingers before pointing at someone or something.
- The tics of the first four Doctors are imitated by the Fifth Doctor in his state of confusion after having regenerated. Particularly amusing is when he goes to bury his hand into his curls Four-style, realises he has shorter, straight hair now, and has a puzzled, disappointed reaction◊.
- The impressionist Jon Culshaw is a big Doctor Who fanboy (admitting his taste for velvet jackets is stolen from the Third Doctor) and discusses these endlessly. There's a video here of him discussing the main, defining Character Tic of each Doctor for the amusement of David Tennant. (In his words, and in order starting with the Second Doctor and skipping the Eighth: "a scowl", "very sharp" mannerisms, "eyes and teeth and the alien-ness", "hands in his pockets, must dash!!", "tends to enunciate... Hmm! Howveryinteresting!! Mmm!", "fingers and thumbs", "with his swagger and the jacket on", "another kind of eyes and teeth".)
- During Series 5, Amy would occasionally bulge her eyes and pucker her mouth- known to fans as the :I face. Karen Gillan seems to be making a conscious effort to stop this, as Amy has not done this tic during the entirety of Series 6.
- Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in the Dune miniseries had a distinctive habit of rubbing his right temple when he was frustrated. Later on, Paul Atreides does this himself, demonstrating the family connection between the two. In Children of Dune, we see Alia performing the gesture when she hears the Baron's voice in her head.
- Married... with Children: Al Bundy slips his hand into the waistband of his trousers when he's relaxing in front of the TV. His daughter Kelly temporarily adopts this along with her father's personality in the episode "The Good-Bye Girl" after a rough day at her new job at a TV-based tourist attraction. Al also puts his hands in his pockets and smirks in a sanctimonious fashion when he feels someone else is about to get their comeuppance.
- Marcy had a tendency to shake her finger when admonishing someone, especially Al.
- Robert Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond always touches food to his chin before eating it. According to Ray Romano, his Real Life brother (who Robert is based on) also does this.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Man Trap," Nancy Crater the salt vampire has a habit of putting the knuckle of her index finger in her mouth. Then we see Dr. McCoy doing the same gesture...
- Monk has a lot of these: neck-crinking, fingers steepled, hands in front when examining crime scenes... it's compounded by his obsessive-compulsive tendencies. It's eventually revealed that the finger-steepling is something he got from his father. That is what appears in the page image.
- Jerry from Boston Legal would stomp, purr, hop, and make popping noises when he got upset; and in later episodes pull out a wooden cigarette as a crutch. This is, of course, ignoring his characteristic hands-on-your-knees style of walking and general social awkwardness.
- In The X-Files, Agent Mulder is always putting things in his mouth—usually sunflower seeds, but in the first season especially, he can also be caught munching on paper clips.
- Hiro certainly pushes his glasses further up his face a lot. He also tends to fling his arms in the air, usually while shouting "Yatta!" (but sometimes other things, like "Frying Man!" or "Vote Petrelli!"), and squenches up his face especially tight while using his powersnote .
- Like Magneto, Sylar often points with two fingers held together whenever he's using telekinesis and does so while flicking his wrist to throw people across a room, despite the fact that we see that on numerous occasions gesturing is not required. This is gesturing is later explained as him fine-tuning his ability to a precision point, which fits with how it's often used to cut open people's heads to steal their powers.
- Star Trek: Voyager. In "Dark Frontier", Chakotay notes that Captain Janeway always fiddles with her comm badge when she's plotting something, a character tic that had never been seen before or since in the series. More accurately, Janeway has a tendency to place her hands on her hips, which unfortunately turned out to be the worst insult imaginable for one alien species that communicated through body language.
- Buster of Arrested Development has a tendency to rub his hands over his ears, usually when he is nervous. So he essentially perpetually rubs at his ears.
- Pretty much every modern Kamen Rider has one, but it's actually plot-relevant in Kamen Rider Faiz. Since the Rider Gears change hands a lot, Character Tics are usually the only way to know who's using one; The Hero Takumi's tic is flicking his wrist, while The Rival Kusaka's is adjusting his collar.
- The Thick of It has a really cringeworthy one with "blinky dork" Ben Swain. Jamie calls his nervous blinking "epilepsy of the eyes."
- Dr. Lightman of Lie to Me licks his front teeth when he's figuring something out, usually when a lie has made him particularly angry or was particularly hard to catch. Torres has done the same thing once or twice.
- Benton Fraser of Due South has at least two. When he's nervous he'll either rub his eyebrow with his thumbnail or tug gently at his left ear.
- On Babylon 5, both Londo and G'Kar had a tendency to tug on their lapels when giving speeches or when generally being pompous. Possibly a coincidence, but it also served as a subliminal reminder that the characters are more alike than they'd like to admit.
- Characters in Keeping Up Appearances have a tendency to repeat phrases over and over. In fact, all of Roy Clarke's characters tend to repeat phrases over and over. They do. They repeat things. Over and over.
- Both Niles and Frasier Crane on Frasier had a habit of mouthing wordlessly whenever they were surprised, confused, or offended. They also adopted a near-identical raised-eyebrow sideways glare whenever they were suspicious, among other tics. Given that the characters are brothers, this is a) Fridge Brilliance, and b) almost certainly an intentionally communicated agreement between Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce.
- Kelsey Grammer has also openly stated that he swiped several of Frasier's tics from Jack Benny, Jackie Gleason and Bette Davis.
- The Big Bang Theory: Leonard has a habit of wringing his hands when he's nervous, usually when he's talking to women.
- From Verbotene Liebe we have Christian fingerpointing.
- Ally from Austin & Ally chews her hair when she gets nervous.
- Castiel from Supernatural tilts his head to the side when he's confused. It seems to be a species-wide trait, but he displays it the most.
- Power Rangers in Space: Andros, the Red Space Ranger] keeps his hair untied and often unknowingly tucks a strand behind ear.
- Odo's businesslike nod in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which is usually a kind of nonverbal shorthand for "consider it done".
- Friends: Chandler flails his hands when he's nervous or excited.
- Ally McBeal: John Cage, a brilliant but weird lawyer, had lots of tics, along with strange personal habits. The ones that were mentioned and exhibited most often were his whistling nose (he could whistle it when he wanted but at times he couldn't stop it whistle) and he was preparing his closing arguments barefoot.
- Monday Mornings: Dr Buck Tierney has a habit of pulling himself up and down and making a squeaky sound with his shoes.
- Whenever something unexpected, terrible, idiotic, annoying, or incomprehensible happens, Malcolm from Malcolm in the Middle will scrunch up his nose and forehead to display prominent wrinkles.◊ Very often, he follows this by sharing a pointed glance with the audience (in fact, one of the earliest instances of this expression is prominently featured in the Title Montage.)
- Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries frequently points (with his hand in what could be considered a relaxed version of the American Sign Language sign for "I love you") while working out logical puzzles or trying to determine someone's motives. Also, when attempting to appear more menacing—or flirtatious—his brother Damon does what is sometimes referred to as "the eye thing" where he alternately bulges and squints his eyes for emphasis.
- Goldberg had a tendency to lean on the ring ropes during promos in the ring.
- John Cena fidgets with his hat during promos sometimes, usually taking it off and rubbing his head during "Awkward" or "Thinking" moments.
- After he unmasked, Kane used to constantly touch his hand to his face during matches, as if checking for blood.
- With the mask on he'll usually throw his head back, to keep the hair out of his face.
- The Undertaker points to someone or something during promos with the hand holding the mic. Always.
- If Kevin Nash has one free hand (or both), you can bet he'll be flipping his hair back.
- When on the mic, Shawn Michaels will always work in the words "the fact of the matter is..." or "I got news for ya!". Often both.
- Lex Luger had this unhealthy obsession with touching himself. Proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYDehCkc5rI
- CM Punk twisting his wrists as a warmup before his match.
- In general, Video Games that go through the motions can have some positions that look unique enough to seem like a character tic, which may or may not be intentional, and if not, likely becomes Ascended Fanon in a sequel if enough people think of it as such.
- Ashley Robbins of Another Code tends to lean forward slightly and tilt her head to the right when speaking to people.
- Gale in Digital Devil Saga has a habit of touching the bridge of his nose before speaking, similar to the motion a person might use to adjust their glasses. Supposedly it's because he is the partial reincarnation of the scientist David, who was Jenna Angel's lover in the real world. The forehead touch is similar to a "phantom limb" effect: David wore glasses, and switching from wearing glasses for years to not wearing glasses still leaves behind the feeling of wearing glasses.
- Revolver Ocelot from Metal Gear Solid has such a distinctive pistol-twirling motion that Hideo Kojima once didn't bother to refer to him by name in an interview - he merely imitated the twirl.
- Also, in Metal Gear Solid 3 he has a hand gesture similar to Star Trek's Picard.
- Otacon pushing his glasses up at the bridge of his nose as a nervous tic is so persistent that he makes the motion even when he's not wearing glasses.
- Guilty Gear. Sol Badguy popping his neck.
- Magus from Chrono Trigger has a habit of readjusting his gloves. He usually does it when focusing a spell
- Robo has one too, after doing something that takes a bit of effort, his casing opens up and a hissing sound is heard. This is definitely a Justified Trope, as he's venting out heat since he's, well, a robot. Done to sinister effect when it's done by his brothers, the rest of the R-Series, after they beat the crap out of him. All six of them do it. Then, one of them picks up his battered body and throws it down a disposal shoot, which is a simple task, but he does it again, showing how trivially they think of disposing one of their own.
- Lucca moves her glasses up and down, possibly adjusting them, as a substitute for raising unseen eyebrows. She does it when she takes notice of something, and usually doesn't stop until something else happens.
- Kadaj, of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, has a tendency to sort of twitch his face if things aren't going his way.
- While not exactly this trope, Sephiroth never blinks, and has extremely shallow breathing animations, even while tossing buildings at Cloud. He also has a distinctively light, acrobatic way of moving that he didn't in the game. He also never lets go of or sheathes his sword, which is odd, because he was always leaving it behind in the original game.
- For tics that he had in the original game, he would slump his shoulders & laugh with such force that he started to shake, which he shares with his father, Hojo. He would also raise and spread his arms, and look up at the sky while giving speeches.
- Hojo also walked with his hands clasped behind his back.
- In the original game, Rufus flipped his hair a lot.
- So did Cloud, he's much more famous for it. A lot of his poses can be seen as a character tic, however, as they're all used a lot. Dramatic shrug, putting one hand on hip as he sticks a leg forward, or scratching the back of his head.
- A rather odd example occurs when near the beginning of the game, Cloud has to engage in a contest with body builders, doing the most squats in a time limit without screwing up. He has to practice the motions first, then start the competition (and could possibly lose miserably.) Later, one might notice Cloud loves doing squats effortlessly, usually in flashbacks. This is an extremely subtle hint that things may not be as they seem. As a result of this, Zack has this tic too, it's his preferred workout method but he even does it when he's not working out. The flashbacks are all about Zack, with Cloud replacing him as he believes he's Zack.
- Barret loves pumping his forearm for emphasis. Aerith likes to take the Coy, Girlish Flirt Pose a lot.
- Edgar of Final Fantasy VI tends to wag his finger a lot. It's even his spell-casting pose.
- Ghirahim from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword really likes to wiggle his fingers around a lot, even when he's not Milking the Giant Cow.
- Sonic the Hedgehog has a couple of tics: his smirk with accompanying finger-wag, and placing his hands at his sides while impatiently tapping his foot, both of which established his "Dude with the 'Tude" persona.
- Mondo Zappa, from Killer Is Dead, has a habit of slicking his hair back with his left (cybernetic) hand, usually before starting his missions.
- Red from Pokémon seems to have a character tic of adjusting his hat to cover his eyes, before a battle. He does that in his HGSS sprite, a Pokémon Trading Card Game statue, and the first trailer for Battle Revolution.
- Fighting Games in general give each character a trademark pose (or even more than one) that he or she assumes upon winning. Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat are good examples, but far from the only ones.
- Squall of Final Fantasy VIII adjusts his weight. A lot. Standing still on the World Map lets you watch him constantly adjusting his standing position.
- He also faceplams. A lot.
- Zidane of Final Fantasy IX bends over slightly to scratch his butt, which makes him seem very monkey-like when combined with the fact that he also has a tail.
- Fire Emblem has recurring character Anna, who is always, no matter what, resting a finger on her cheek or chin.
- Histoire plays with this trope in the original Hyperdimension Neptunia, as she likes to use emoticons when she speaks in her fairy form. To name a few in Mk-2, Nisa tends to strike a heroic pose now and then while speaking, Compa touches her finger to her cheek when thinking, and IF facepalms when distressed.
- From Tales of Graces Asbel tends to do a quick Hand Behind Head where he quickly ruffles his hair, Sophie tends to cock her head to the side, Cheria angrily leans forward when scolding someone and has a habit of placing her hands placed in front of her when walking. Pascal does this... rather weird gesture where she raises her hand looking like she's falling sideways before she catches herself and stands like normal and tends to answer with "Y'okay".
- Tali'Zorah from Mass Effect has a habit of wringing her hands when nervous. Also, quarians in general (if Veetor is any indication) seem to have a habit of bouncing on their toes when idle.
- The Council as a whole have a habit where two of them look to the third; if that third person nods, they agree with Shepard's plan, with refusal following from the vastly more common head-shake. Shepard does the same thing with Anderson, and is also prone to doing a Reverse Arm-Fold when receiving orders.
- Cloud Strife would often flip his hair whenever he did or said something cool or wanted to show off. It became such an iconic gesture that it even carried over to 3D during his appearences in the first Kingdom Hearts and RE:Chain of Memories (To the point where, in RE:COM, he even does it after he is summoned in battle)
- Misha in Katawa Shoujo often translates what she says into sign language. This would normally not be out of the ordinary, as she usually does it for the benefit of her deaf-mute best friend, but she often does it even when the only one nearby who understands it is Misha herself.
- The characters in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney all have their own poses and gestures, and Phoenix's dramatic finger point is among the most distinctive. The new prosecutor from Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Klavier Gavin, even air guitars when things are going particularly well for him.
- Grace of El Goonish Shive has a habit of holding her hands in front of her, a bit like a squirrel. Also, several characters will touch their index fingers together when nervous or embarrassed.
- Grace's squirrel hands make her recognisable even when she's transformed into a duplicate of someone else.
- Lamont from Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name giggles nervously when he's nervous.
- Radic from Murphy's Law has a habit of holding her chin when in thought.
- Most characters in Questionable Content will raise an index to their faces when thinking aloud.
- Tower of God: Novik chewing his thumbnails.
- Lisa from the BDSM webcomic Sunstone has a habit of biting her lip when she's turned on (or if she badly needs to pee). Ally, her friend and mistress, loves it.
- Everyone has their own little tics. Part of what makes each of us unique.
- Harrison Ford will do a half smile no matter who he's playing. He will also point at whoever he's speaking with if he gets annoyed enough.
- Martin Freeman has a habit of licking his lips. It happens frequently during Sherlock, as well as in interviews.
- Rick Moranis has a tendency to make a smirking expression with only the right side of his mouth. And to look angry, he leers with a pout.
- Gackt has a habit of touching his bottom lip whenever he is embarrassed or nervous.
- David Tennant appears to have a whole host of these, all... mouth centric.
- According to the article "The Beautiful Mind", Natalie Portman has a habit of playing with her toes during an interview.
- Timothy Carey had these by the barrel, and would infuse every character he played with them, to the point of him hogging the camera even when sitting quietly in the background.
- Emma Watson and her infamous "eyebrow acting".
- Ellen Page does a slight clicking sound at the back of her throat when stuttering.
- Noel Fielding often runs his fingers through his hair and plays with it in interviews and other TV appearances. No matter what bizarre shape he subconsciously arranges it into, it still looks amazing.
- Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle has a slight but noticeable facial twitch.