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Finger Tenting
aka: Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive
A lying tongue is best kept hidden.

"I've waited my whole life to do this... the finger pyramid of evil contemplation. (clasps fingers) Feels good."
Roger, American Dad!

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.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     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.)
  • 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.
  • 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 AttackOnTitan, 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.

     Comic Books  
  • 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.

     Fan Works  

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 

    TV Tropes 

     Video Games  
  • 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: 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.

     Web Comics  

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  

     Real Life  
  • Former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing during presidential debate [1].
    • A specialist explained it is a good pose to protect yourself from body language reading.


Finger On LipsBody LanguageFinger Wag
Rebuild of EvangelionImageSource/Anime & MangaRE-TAKE

alternative title(s): Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive; Steepling
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