Crushing Handshake

"And then Scritch had me by the hand, crunching all my finger and knuckle bones into little splinters, and I supposed that he would then move on and do the same to all the other parts of my body, one piece at a time. But then I realized he was pumping the remains of my hand up and down."
Patrick McManus, "Scritch's Creek"

Two people, often two men, shake hands. One of the men grips harder than the other one, and the other guy might start wincing or showing signs of clear discomfort. The guy delivering the Crushing Handshake might grin about it, having shown off his superior strength or "manliness". This could be done to show off just that, or as a hint that the other guy doesn't like you, or wants to intimidate you—for instance, if he's a rival for a love interest. Or it could be that he Does Not Know His Own Strength. When both parties attempt to do this, the results can be embarrassing for one or both, which can be played for laughs.

In animated works, expect the victim's hand to be red and pulsing afterwards. The squeeze itself would remind of a tube of toothpaste: the palm area gets basically empty, all the volume migrating to the fingertips.

Can be related to Bear Hug.


Anime and Manga
  • Shiawase Kissa Sanchoume: Uru's stepfather greets Shindou in this manner, all the while giving him a "Don't-Touch-My-Daughter" Death Glare.
  • In the first episode of Monster Rancher some big guy tries this on Genki, but, he being the Super-Strong Child he is, he just grins and crushes the hand of his much bigger and surprised opponent.
  • Strike Witches: In episode 3, while introducing herself, Shirley playfully squeezes Yoshika's hand.
  • In one episode of Pokémon, Brock and James seem to be doing this during an Enemy Mine moment.

Comic Books
  • An Archie Comics story had this happen to Mr. Weatherbee when congratulating substitute hall monitor Maria Rodriguez for teaching the other students not to run in the halls. Maria is actually a lot stronger than she looks so she crushes the bee's hand while giving him a handshake. The last panel shows Mr. Weatherbee getting his hand bandaged by Miss Grundy.
  • The Adventures of Tintin: Tintin and Captain Haddock get their hands crushed upon meeting a Boisterous Bruiser type archeologist. It's noted that he's not being competitive or mean spirited, he just has a very strong grip.
  • In the first Astérix book, after the first time Asterix takes the magic potion in the franchise, he shakes Getafix's hand, resulting in Getafix complaining
  • In Superman: Secret Origin, Sgt. John Corben does this to Lois Lane's new co-worker to intimidate him, but considering this is Clark Kent, it doesn't work.
    • Clark Kent's Jerk Jock coworker Steve Lombard tries this on Clark when the two first meet (in Steve's first appearance); Clark of course doesn't really feel anything, but fakes pain anyway to keep Lois from getting suspicious.
    • A team-up between Superman and Captain Marvel ended with them both attempting this and refusing to admit the other was having any effect, while Mary and Freddy rolled their eyes in the background.
  • A Richie Rich comic has Cadbury do this to Richie's uncle, Olympius Van Sporting, who winces with "E-gad, what a GRIP!" (Unknown to Cadbury, the uncle had dismissed Cadbury as a "sissy butler.")
  • Kajko I Kokosz: The two knight are sent to meet the duke's big brother, Wojmil. Wojmil and Kokosz are both examples of Stout Strength and squeeze each other to a standstill. Kajko, being much smaller, saves himself from injury by kicking Wojmil in the shin.
  • In an issue of the Dell Comics Ben Casey comic book, an intern's brother accidentally does this to Dr. Casey, foreshadowing that he's not just some random guy in a loud suit. At the end, he offers to shake again, but Dr. Casey wants to be able to operate soon.

Films — Animated

Films — Live-Action
  • Superman II. General Zod thinks that Superman has lost all of his powers. He demands that Superman take his hand and swear eternal loyalty to him. Superman takes Zod's hand and crushes it, breaking bones. It turns out he hadn't actually lost his powers. Zod did.
  • The Master of Disguise: Pistachio receives one when Jennifer first introduces him to her boyfriend, Trent (who already suspects and accuses Pistachio of trying to put the moves on her).
  • In High Anxiety, Dr. Charles Montague does this to the main character when they're formally introduced, and during the handshake he says "I was the one in charge before you came". Complete with teeth-clenched tone of voice and forced smile.
  • From Predator: When Dutch and Dillon meet after many years apart, they crush each other's hands in an competition of alpha male superiority. After the camera lingers on their bulging arms for a few seconds, Dillon finally surrenders.
  • Dr. No: Averted—"Forgive me for not... shaking hands ..." He later demonstrates his mechanical hands' impressive strength by crushing a gold statuette.
  • In The Party, Bakshi receives a crushing handshake from the cowboy actor.
  • Ocean's Eleven: Bernie Mac's character does this to a car salesman in order to get a discount.
  • Parodied in the film The Quiet Man, where what is meant to be a friendly handshake after a fight between John Wayne's and Victor McLaglen's characters turns into each of them openly trying to crush the other's hand for ages, at the end of which they start fighting again.
  • Chozen from The Karate Kid Part II greets Daniel La Russo at the Okinawa airport with a long handshake, complete with shit-eating grin and Daniel's look of disgust. The scene in question is also an example of Not My Driver, since unbeknownst to Daniel and Mr. Miyagi, this is Sato's nephew driving them to meet his uncle.
  • X2: X-Men United: Iceman does this to Wolverine by freezing the older mutant's hand when Rogue introduces them. Bobby is aware that Rogue has a crush on Logan, so he wanted to subtly assert his position as her boyfriend.

  • Ciaphas Cain's augmetic fingers have given him the upper hand (ha ha) in regards to this trope. This has become something of a running gag, since genuinely stronger characters keep trying to intimidate him this way only to be surprised by him effortlessly winning. Major Broklaw is shown to also be fond of this, although he too was blindsided by Cain's fingers.
  • In the Harry Potter books, the Slytherin quidditch team captain tends to do this when he shakes hands with the Gryffindor captain at the beginning of a match. In the first few books, Oliver Wood was able to give as good as he got, but Angelina and Harry (during their respective stints as captain in the later books) had to keep themselves from wincing.
  • Skip Tyler, Jack Ryan's good friend, was described as giving overly powerful handshakes of the Does Not Know His Own Strength variety.
  • Alluded to in Take A Thief — when Skif and Deek agree to work together, Skif is impressed that Deek doesn't try this.
  • Subverted in Unseen Academicals, when Andy squeezes Nutt's hand so hard it makes Andy's hand sore, with no discernible effect on Nutt.
  • In Will Of The Empress from the Circle of Magic series, when the mages in Berenene's court introduce themselves to Briar, they play macho games by trying to knock him over with their magic as they shake his hand, which is essentially meant to parallel this trope.
  • Fevre Dream: The burly Captain Abner York likes to conclude business arrangements with a crushing handshake as a show of dominance, but finds himself quite outmatched by the slender and mysterious Joshua York.

Live-Action TV
  • In a memorable episode of I Love Lucy, Fred's grip was actually enough to bring John Wayne to his knees, but when he tries it on Ethel, Ethel's grip actually brings Fred to his knees.
  • M*A*S*H: During the M*A*S*H Olympics, Hawkeye and B.J. make a wager with each other, but when they shake on it, B.J. jokingly tries to crush Hawkeye's hand.
  • In an episode of Bones, Booth meets Cam's step-daughter's new boyfriend. After greeting him enthusiastically, Booth throws in some not-very-veiled threats about treating the girl right, including mentioning that he used to be a sniper, and finishes off with a handshake that leaves the kid wincing and rubbing his hand.
  • In The West Wing, this happens so often to presidential candidate Arnold Vinick that he ends up with a fractured hand, making handshakes of any firmness agonizing.
  • In an episode of Go On, Bob Costas is revealed to do this all the time, and almost always wins.
  • A variant in Game of Thrones with Lysa and Sansa. Lysa initially holds Sansa's hands gently as a gesture of affection, but her grip becomes hard and cruel when Lysa starts questioning if Sansa and Petyr are romantically/sexually involved.
  • Lois and Clark: In the Pilot Movie, Clark does this accidentally to Perry White at the end of his first (failed) job interview. After Clark comes back with a well-written story and Perry hires him, Clark offers his hand again but Perry doesn't take it this time, patting Clark on the back instead.
  • Veronica Mars: Keith Mars does this to every male romantic lead in. Doubles with Papa Wolf.
  • Tony on NCIS receives one from a woman who comes in for a job interview—though in this case, it's non-threatening and more because she just has an unusually strong grip.
  • A flashback episode of All in the Family depicting when Michael first met Archie, Michael attempted to give him a firm handshake after Gloria told him that it tends to leave Archie with a good first impression. Unfortunately, it turned into this. Things went downhill from there.
  • In My Name Is Earl, a former gangster turned preacher does this to Earl twice, although it wasn't really a handshake as much as it was joining hands for a prayer.
    Reverend Green: Lord, give me strength!
    Earl: You feel strong enough already!
  • In Saved by the Bell, A.C. Slater does this in the episode "Class Rings".
    Mr. Diamond: What's the A.C. stand for?
    A.C. Slater: (crushing handshake) Abnormally cruel.

Newspaper Comics
  • Dick Tracy: The Brow does this to the Summer Sisters, actually cracking their wristbones to establish the pecking order in his gang. And also because he kind of gets off on cruelty.

Pro Wrestling

  • In The Stan Freberg Show, in the interview between Stan Freberg and the Abominable Snowman, the latter gives the former a very painful-sounding handshake:
    Stan: Would you mind squeezing my hand the other way to get it back in shape?

Stand-up Comedy

  • In The Mikado, this is usually how Ko-Ko demonstrates "All persons who in shaking hands shake hands with you like that."
  • The Rose Tattoo features a variation on this trope. Alvaro, approaching Serafina with seductive words, grabs her hand and presses it firmly against his tattooed chest, and she complains: "But, Mr. Mangiacavallo, that is my hand, not a sponge. I got bones in it. Bones break!" He politely relinquishes his grip on her hand.

Video Game
  • In Super Street Fighter IV, Turkish oil wrestler Hakan does this to Sumo wrestler E. Honda before his rival battle after they disagree on which style of wrestling is the best.

Visual Novel
  • In Heileen 3, when Morgan first meets John, he delivers a strong handshake that makes John wince in pain.

Web Comics
  • Demonstrated competitively by Zii and Angel of Ménage à 3 in this strip.
  • Talked about in Three Panel Soul, about how a counter to this is to grab around the other guy's fingers instead of palm to palm.

Western Animation
  • Bluto/Brutus does this to Popeye in several Popeye cartoons, followed by a shot of Popeye's red, crushed hand and a "wrumph-wrumph" sound effect. In one cartoon, the hand literally turns into a vise when he does this
  • In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002), there is an episode where Man at Arms shakes hands with his brother. When they shake, the brother's mechanical hand can be heard clanking, implying he's applying more pressure than he needs to. Man at Arms doesn't scream, however.
  • In the Goof Troop episode "Leader of the Pack", Max rides into a drive-in restaurant in a "car" (actually a grocery cart with a cardboard car in front of it) and with a "babe" (actually PJ holding a cardboard girl over his face). Gang leader Duke comes over to meet Max's babe, and PJ introduces himself a Clarice. They shake hands, with Duke squeezing PJ's hand.
  • In Droopy's Double Trouble, Droopy's super strong twin cousin Drippy crushes the hand of Droopy's superior, the mansion's head butler, upon extending it for a shake.
  • Apparently, Steelheart from Silverhawks doesn't know her own strength. Whenever she shakes hands, the person she's shaking hands with quickly crumples over from the pain. Fortunately, Commander Stargazer is smart enough to refuse her when she offers him one.
    Steelheart: "Put 'er there, sir!"
    Stargazer: "Forget it! I read your file!"
  • In the King of the Hill episode "Westie Side Story" when Hank meets Kahn for the first time he accidentally does this to him.
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Prototype", Corey Mills puts on Powered Armor and becomes a new hero. When Superman shakes his hand, Corey deliberately squeezes as hard as he can. It doesn't hurt Superman, but it is strong enough for him to notice.
  • Potsworth And Company: In "When Bubba Rules", that's how the Nightmare Prince learned Bubba deserved being called "Bonebreaker".
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series: Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) tries to crush Peter Parker's hand while they are both in civilian identies. Peter realizes that his hand would've been crushed if not for his spider strength and that Norman seems to also be invoking I Know You Know I Know.
  • The Flintstones: Fred's mother-in-law does this to Fred when she comes over for a visit.
  • In The Legend of Korra, after being pressed by President Raiko to develop some countermeasure to Kuvira's spirit ray cannon, Asami and Varrick shake hands to cinch the partnership... but Asami remembers the last time she partnered with him (he tried to steal her company Future Industries out from under her), and nimbly turns the handshake into a pressure point attack on his hand while warning him not to try it again.

Real Life
  • This can be a source of occasional Cross Cultural Kerfluffles: there are many areas where it is considered rude not to return a handshake with a firm grip. This unfortunately results in some Values Dissonance when a person from such a region shakes hands with a person used to the custom meaning "briefly wafting hands in proximity". The person from the firm-handshake region is usually percieved as this trope, while the hand-toucher is in turn often perceived as standoffish, insincere, condescending, or even deliberately insulting.