"I've waited my whole life to do this... the finger pyramid of evil contemplation. (clasps fingers) Feels good."Particularly devious and magnificent villains have a habit of putting their hands together at around chest or mouth level, with fingers either interlocked or tip-to-tip. One possible reason behind this gesture is that when a person lies, they often unconsciously cover their mouth with their hand (as if to prevent the lie from escaping their lips). Thus, putting both hands in front of your mouth means that you're lying big time. Another reason is that in Real Life body language, people tend to automatically steeple the hands when feeling overly confident, or superior to whoever they happen to be speaking to. Someone who does this too often will quickly come across as arrogant. But this pose has the advantage of completely blocking arms and chest, making their body language impossible to read anymore. Bonus points if combined with ominous lighting, Scary Shiny Glasses, a slight Slouch of Villainy, a Beard of Evil or a Kubrick Stare. Double bonus for a Psychotic Smirk. Any combination of these can be used for a Traitor Shot. The word usually used for this action in novels is "steepling". Not related to Intertwined Fingers. Usually. See Hand Rubbing for the poor man's version of this trope.
— Roger, American Dad!
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Anime and Manga
- Gendo Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion. His trademark covering-the-mouth variant is often called "the Gendo pose". For a while adding the "Gendo Hands" to existing works were a meme. (As a bonus, using the pose repeatedly helped cut down on animation costs and nobody had to worry about matching lip flaps when dubbing into another language.)
- Scans from the original designs for Shinji show him doing a happy version of the pose. It must be a tradition in the Ikari family.
- Rei also does this several times. She must unconsciously have copied it from Gendo.
- Misato can be seen doing it too, perhaps in an attempt to copy Gendo's cool command poise.
- Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist does this, too, whenever he isn't out on a date.
- Kimbly, Envy, first Greed and Edward Elric◊ do this at least once.
- Lelouch from Code Geass commonly does this while his plans go as expected. When they fail... he does all sorts of different gestures.
- Schneizel does this while he's telling the 'truth' about Lelouch to the Black Knights.
- Lelouch also does this when he's giving a "Reason You Suck" Speech to Nunnally - though there's a shot of his hands trembling a little, a giveaway of just how hard it was for him.
- Naruto: Sasuke Uchiha is seen doing this at the beginning, just to show how much of a Disney Anti Hero he was. Oddly, after his genuine Face-Heel Turn he doesn't do it again until some time after joining Akatsuki.
- This is Lampshaded in an early episode of the abridged series:
Sasuke: "I'm sorry, I was practicing my Gendo Ikari impression."
- Shikamaru also does the tip-to-tip style while he's planning. He does it so often it gets mistaken for a hand sign.
- Tsunade did this on occasions.
- Gaara seems to have picked up this habit when he's sitting down lately too. It seems to be a replacement for his usual standing-up habit of crossing his arms.
- This is Lampshaded in an early episode of the abridged series:
- Light from Death Note does this, fitting his role.
- Takashi Ooi does this a lot as well.
- Shizuku from Kämpfer does this to help show the audience that she's a particularly cunning and devious Student Council President.
- Monster: Johan does it while talking to a small orphaned boy (who, as a result, attempts to commit suicide later in the day). The screen focuses on his hands for a long time before panning out to show his face.
- In the anime Robotics;Notes, it's literally referred to as the Gendo Pose, followed by an explanation of how it's a very common occurrence in Humongous Mecha anime. This is only one of many mecha anime Shout Outs spouted in the show.
- Zeera, Emperor of Ruin is often shown in this pose when plotting the future of his Litchi Hikari Club.
- Doc, resident Mad Doctor in Dawn Tsumetai Te.
- Seemingly subverted in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force: Hayate does this in chapter eight but nothing has come of it yet.
- Treize Khushrenada from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
- Used humorously in Pokémon when James, of all people, does this while guiding Jessie, Meowth, and the twerps in landing an out-of-control rocket.
- Minor character Kido, who's in charge of student life and punishes the characters when they get into trouble, from Beelzebub does this often.
- Kanzaki also does this when he tells his niece that Santa is dead so he won't have to buy her a Christmas present.
- In Holyland chapter 131, the principal does this while announcing Masaki's expulsion from the boxing club.
- In Attack on Titan, Hanji does this in episode 19.
- Hasegawa from Gintama does that a lot, specifically as a reference to Gendo since they are both voiced by Fumihiko Tachiki and wear sunglasses.
- Magneto does this.
- The comic book adaptation of The Thrawn Trilogy has Grand Admiral Thrawn doing this often. That, or cradling and stroking a creature that is probably intended to be a ysalamiri. Notably he doesn't do much of either in the novels, but Magnificent Bastards steeple, and Thrawn is a Magnificent Bastard, so "steepled" is the second-most common way his hands are drawn in the comic, in other official art, and in fanart. The most common way his hands are positioned is undeniably clasped behind his back, a gesture of restraint. Notably you can't clasp your hands behind your back while sitting, and steepling just looks stupid when you're standing up.
- The ysalamir stroking, at least, does occasionally happen in the books, whenever Thrawn wishes to emphasize their (Force-nullifying) presence when speaking with Force users.
- The cover of issue 67 of The Walking Dead features Eugene Porter in this pose.
- The Boomer has been doing some thinking.
- Advice And Trust: Gendo uses this pose in chapter 8 as he is pondering over the last developments (Shinji accidentally extracting someone had been absorbed into an Evangelion) and their implications.
Gendo just tightened his lips and jerked a sharp nod. He returned to his desk and pulled up a report on the repair estimates for Unit-01, his hands assuming their standard position folded under his nose as he stared at the screen, but Fuyutsuki could tell he was not seeing the words at all.
- Evangelion 303: Gendo does it in some scenes, such like this or this. The different camera angle and more casual clothes of the former give him a focused air rather a creepy one, though.
- HERZ: Misato sometimes has her hands folded in this position when she is plotting or negotiating. It is meant to show she has become more similar to Gendo.
- Subverted by a yakuza boss in Kyon Big Damn Hero, who does this when asking a subordinate to apologize for a rogue yakuza shooting Kyon. He doesn't intend to deceive them and honestly wants to apologize.
- Alex (from the Adventure Time fanfic named after her) does this in chapter 6.
- In The Darkness Series after going dark Harry develops this character tic.
- In Thinking In Little Green Boxes while plotting and planning and considering that Dumbledore must have been replaced by a Skrull Harry does the Gendo pose.
- Socrates' scheming side does this after misleading the group in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, coupling it with an Evil Laugh.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- The Matrix: Agent Smith, while interrogating Neo.
- Bram Stokers Dracula: Old Dracula does this when he's laughing at Johnathon Harker.
- Nicolae Carpathia as depicted by Gordon Currie in the Left Behind film series.
- Vice-Counsel Dupont does this at the climax of Equilibrium, only to drop the pose in a most satisfying Oh Crap! moment when Preston kills Brandt in a Single-Stroke Battle.
- In one scene in Out of the Past, Whit Sterling does this while having breakfast with Jeff.
- National security adviser John Brennan (Stephen Dillane) does this◊ in Zero Dark Thirty.
- A Visual Gag in The Man With Two Brains, in which a character is finger tenting because they're stuck together by Krazy Glue.
- Sherlock Holmes does this often.
- Havelock Vetinari of Discworld.
- The Magician Trent in the Xanth novels does this - while he's not precisely a Chessmaster, he's definitely a pretty smart cookie.
- Harry Potter: Albus Dumbledore in cordial confrontation mode.
- Most depictions of Salazar Slytherin (like the one on JKR's Wizard of the Month) will have him doing this.
- Dravis of the Descent novelizations is fond of this.
- Artemis Fowl often makes this pose when he's revealing something particularly devious/unexpected
- The cynical executive put in charge after the buyout of the Hitchhiker's Guide offices, Vann Harl, does the finger-steepling thing while talking to Ford Prefect in Mostly Harmless. The narration marvels that this gesture has not yet been made a capital offense.
- From The Dresden Files, Marcone often steeples his hands, very much like Xanatos. In the illustrated RPG book, nearly every time you see Marcone he's doing this.
- Subverted in Heroes Die, where Kollberg laces his fingers together not as a sign of deception, but to try and keep calm while talking to the Board of Governors.
- Tang Shou Dian in the Dale Brown novel Sky Masters.
- Machiavelli in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Almost inevitable, really.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: One of the trademark gestures of Tywin Lannister, though other characters are known to do it too.
- One of the priests of the Many Faced God, when teaching Arya how to lie, mentions that some people will instinctively cover their mouth when lying, which is the Truth in Television part of this trope.
- Lampshaded in Just Shoot Me!:
Nina: Are you planning something devious?
Dennis: Of course. Why else would I be doing this?
- Happens in Profit
- In one episode of Corner Gas, Wanda teaches Lacey on when to use "schemey fingers".
- Lex Luthor does this on occasion in Smallville.
- Horrible Histories: Cesare Borgia takes this Up to Eleven with his "I am the mostest powerfulest evilest of all!" in the Borgia Family song.
- On Doctor Who, The Master does this while smugly waiting to spring his trap on the boorish President of the United States in "The Sound of Drums".
- Apophis does this in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Exodus" .
- Hideaki Anno does this in the third episode of "Aoi Honoo".
- Adam and Barry do this together on one episode of The Goldbergs.
- The current page image for Sinister Schnoz contains this.
- Igor is always doing this in the Persona games. He seems to be manipulating humanity into following a higher path; but enjoys seeming sinister in doing so. It certainly helps that he would look creepy enough without it.
- That being said, he still THE nicest (and most helpful) supernatural entities you will find in any Shin Megami Tensei game.
- Kohaku in Tsukihime clasps her hands while talking with Shiki after having sex in her own route. Since she'd been trying to manipulate him to kill Akiha, this might make sense, but it's actually a subversion. She wasn't lying to him, and she later tried to stop Shiki and the then-insane Akiha from killing each other.
- She does drug him so he can't come after her immediately after that though.
- Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series: Kane, Magnificent Bastard he is, is quite fond of doing this.
- Shizune from Katawa Shoujo seems to like "tenting" her hands and otherwise follows the personality tropes associated with this to the letter, though as far as chessmastery is concerned, all she's got to show for herself is a mean game of RISK.
- In the Baldur's Gate series, evil-aligned mage Edwin is shown clasping his hands in this fashion in his character◊ portraits◊.
- Ghostbusters: The Video Game: Walter Peck is seen doing this.
- House of the Dead has Goldman pulling this while discussing his plans.
- Andre Oliveri from Ace Combat: Joint Assault.
- Colonel Longhena is shown having a habit of doing this in the DoDonpachi series.
- In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Alita Tiala has two fairly◊ subtle◊ versions of this as standard poses. It's the first sign that her "loving fiancée" act is fake.
- Shang Tsung of Mortal Kombat does this a lot. In Mortal Kombat 9, he even does it when he's Babalitied.
- Celestia Ludenberg in Dangan Ronpa occasionally slips into this. However, she never bothered to cover her mouth... although she instead uses a cute smile accompanied with closed eyes of innocence. Coupled with how she's called 'Queen of Liars', that still doesn't deduce the points about how much she's deceiving.
- Tarion does this in Telepath Tactics, though it's hard to tell until you see him in proper lighting.
- The protagonist does this in the beginning of Black Closet, complete with ominous lighting and Scary Shiny Glasses, to get the player in the mood of being a morally-gray mastermind. Elsa's not actually that good at directly lying, though. She has people for that.
- In DevilBear the Parody character of Rainbow Brite is striking a Gendo Pose while plotting at her desk when the Daivas show up.
- In Girl Genius, Klaus Wulfenbach pulls this off with a Humongous Mecha. Check it out.
- Dale in Questionable Content homages the pose while plotting.
- An example from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.
- Done by the main character of Aki-chan's Life on the cover to chapter 2, dressed up as Grandpa Gendo. Is of a much more humorous variety then most other examples as the person in question is 4 years old and barefoot, with her feet not even remotely close to the floor.
- In El Goonish Shive, Mr. Tensaided does this while narrating in the style of a gamemaster.
- Godslave has Turner's boss (likely Heru) do this when pondering the implications of Anpu escaping and Edith's appearance on the scene.
- David Xanatos of Gargoyles. Just see for youself◊. And yes, he is indeed devious.
- The Simpsons: Mr. Burns's signature line "Excellent" is usually delivered in this pose (the tip-to-tip version), though he is usually tapping fingertips, not clasping.
- After coming up with a plan to get back at someone he felt had wronged him, Roger from American Dad! expressed delight that he would get to do this, calling it 'the finger pyramid of evil contemplation'.
- Slade from Teen Titans.
- Discord◊ from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
- Lucius on Jimmy Two-Shoes engages in this on occasion.
- Megavolt on Darkwing Duck.
- Oil Slick the Decepticon is currently the only Transformers toy who can cross his fingers like this. Probably for good reason.
- Lex Luthor pulls one in the pilot episode of Superman: The Animated Series.
- On the Æon Flux episode "Thanatophobia," one character tells off Goodchild for being too soft on Breen citizens trying to escape the city while making this pose. It's even more disturbing when you notice that this man is missing every other finger.
- Doctor Doom seems rather fond of this in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
- Dick Dastardly and The Hooded Claw do this a lot.