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Finger Twitching Revival
So...you're unconscious. That sucks for you, huh? After all, this is probably the result of being banged on the head, having some horrible illness, or just being so injured that you can't voluntarily wake up or move around. The doctors around you are talking openly about the likeliness of you never waking up. Bye-bye, you.

But wait! You're not licked yet! As you slowly begin to rouse yourself, a telltale sign of your impending consciousness will show itself. It will often go unnoticed, perhaps when everyone has turned away. But it will indeed happen: your fingers will twitch back to life.

This is an extremely common trope, usually done in extreme close-up on the hand as a last-second Cliff Hanger of a scene or even the entire show/film. The dual categories of whose fingers could be twitching determines the tone of this trope. If it's a hero or a love interest, this is a moment of renewed hope and happiness (and usually is then immediately followed by the full wake-up scene); if it's a villain, the moment is a threat. The ubiquitiousness of this trope covers up the fact that twitching fingers may not always be the most likely part of the body to first signify someone's revival - eyes could open, shoulders could adjust, chest could rise and fall with breath. But even when the arms and fingers of a character have been significantly hurt, and are even bandaged up or suspended in one spot, this is more often than not the way we'll be shown that the character is coming back to his/her senses.

See also Playing Possum, No One Could Survive That, and The End... Or Is It?.

Compare to Eye Awaken, which this may be used along with. Additionally, by its nature, this is more often than not a spoiler trope.

Could also potentially be horrific if the character whose finger twitches goes completely unnoticed. Those around could go on to assume that the character is deceased and treat them as such. This can then lead to many situations like abandonment, burial, cremation and the likes... all while the character is still alive.

Movement as proof of life, incidentally, is not always Truth in Television: Creepily enough, even dead bodies can sometimes move or make noise caused by the contraction of tendons and the presence of gas escaping from the corpse. Burned bodies often curl into a fetal position as the tendons dry and contract, which can give rise to stories of deceased persons suddenly "sitting up" on the pyre.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z loves this trope. There are simply too many examples of this to list.
  • This situation occurred in Ikki Tousen, when one of the characters was stabbed in the spine. The doctors said that he may be permanently paralyzed and never wake up from his coma. Then, at the last few minutes of the show, said character raises his hand into a fist.
  • Also happens in Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai, when Shion finally finds Satoshi, who is in a medicated coma. Irie says that Satoshi suffered massive brain damage, but has a good chance of recovering. Then, a split second before the scene changes, we see Satoshi shed a tear.
    • This also happens in the anime-original arc, Yakusamashi-hen. After the Hinamizawa Gas Disaster, Satoko is in a coma, but moves slightly when Ooishi mentions Rika's death. Unfortunately, she gets bumped off before Ooishi realizes that she must know something.
  • One Piece loves this one. It uses variants all the time, especially explicitly in the anime — for example, during the final stages of Luffy's final battle with Crocodile.
  • This also happens in the first two minutes of the .hack//SIGN intro episode when Tsukasa wakes up to find himself trapped within The World.
  • In High School Of The Dead, this is an indicator of being infected by ''them''.
  • Used during Asura's resurrection in Soul Eater. The anime gets across the manic twitching, scratching and banging perfectly as the Kishin, unable to see, struggles out of his prison.
  • Used in Gantz manga at the end of the Onion Alien arc: Kato appears to be dead, but after a bit of suspense he twitches slightly - enough for Gantz to consider him alive and teleport him back safely.
  • Invoked in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part III. Jotaro needs to draw Dio off of a down and out Polnareff, but not reveal that he's conscious and Playing Possum, so he decides to tap his fingers on the ground. Upon hearing the noise and realizing this trope might be in effect, Dio decides to Make Sure He's Dead by shooting him (Star Platinum catches the bullet just under Jotaro's skin), listening for his heartbeat from a safe distance (Star Platinum temporarily stops his heart) and then grabbing a street sign to decapitate him as a final precaution (which brings him within range for Star Platinum to shatter his skull).
  • Shown in Magikano before Haruo goes into Eleventh Hour Superpower mode.

    Films — Animated 
  • In WALL•E, when the main character regains his memories and his personality, the first thing to move is his fingers, and they twitch downwards slightly before fully closing around EVE's hand.
  • Played with in Hercules: Hercules appears to have successfully killed the Hydra but perished in the process. The hydra's fingers begin twitching and uncurling, making the onlookers fear that it isn't quite dead, until its hand fully opens to reveal Hercules very much alive inside it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Frankenstein (1931): It's alive . . . it's alive, it's alive! IT'S ALIVE!! [1]
  • When The Pale Man comes to life in Pan's Labyrinth, it starts first with this trope.
  • Obviously (and quite so) done in The Strangers, where it's clearly obvious from the whole lead-up that Liv Tyler's Too Dumb to Live character is going to scream and show that she's still alive. Adding yet another disappointment to an already subpar picture.
  • In the recent film of The Incredible Hulk, Emil Blonsky indicates his impending revival by his fingers coming to staccato life as Gen. Ross is walking away from his hospital bed. Even though his fingers are almost fully wrapped up in bandages and his whole arm and hand are in a suspension cast. Now that is a commitment to this trope.
  • This happened in Independence Day, followed shortly by an Eye Awaken, when the captured alien woke up in the middle of the Area 51 scientists trying to dissect it.
  • Happens at the end of Christine, after the car has been compacted into a cube. A bar from the grill starts to move, showing that the car maybe Not Quite Dead.
  • Subverted in Johnny Mnemonic with an insane cyborg who just wouldn't die. He is finally electrocuted to death and everybody's happy. Then the camera shows his hand moving on the ground. The camera pans out, showing the corpse (still quite dead and sizzling) being lifted by a crane.
  • Subverted in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II with Super Shredder, who collapses a heavy pier onto himself as the Turtles he is trying to take with him escape. The Turtles emerge from the water to look upon the wreckage, only to find Super Shredder's hand emerging from the wreckage to their horror. Raph exclaims "No-One Could Have Survived That!" And then the hand falters and falls limp upon the ruins of the pier, never to rise again, signifying that yes, the Shredder is finally done for.
    • But played straight near the start of the film where Shredder's hand can be seen slowly rising out of a pile of garbage to show that he survived the first movie after all.
    • Later subverted again in the Fox TV series Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, which claims that yes, Super Shredder DID survive it and was somehow restored to a non-mutant form.
    • Similarly done in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), with the Shredder again. Time will tell if this was playing the trope straight or subverting it.
  • In The Terminator, Reese shoots the T-101 several times with a sawed-off shotgun when it tries to move in on Sarah in TechNoir. Shortly after it hits the floor, its fingers twitch, offering the audience their first clue that the big scary guy isn't human.
  • This is done in William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet to signal that Juliet is beginning to revive. The only problem is, this is happening JUST as Romeo is preparing to drink the poison!
  • Played with at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. Magneto's fingers cause a chess piece to twitch, implying his powers are returning.
  • Disney Channel movie Susie Q uses this trope in a surprisingly dark moment early in the film. The title character Susie is returning home from a dance when she and her date and involved in a serious wreck with a drunk driver on a bridge. The accident causes the car to be half on the bridge and half off; inside the car the couple seems to be unconscious or dead until Susie's hand feels out and grabs hold her date's hand. Then the car slips off the bridge, flips and falls into the river below causing the pair to drown. Yes, this really is a Disney movie and no, they don't show anymore.
  • Happens the the Jet Li vanity vehicle The One when he is fighting himself, and he kicks his own ass, then gets up and kicks his own ass
  • When Tommy Jarvis kills Jason in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Jason tries to pull this off. However Tommy has none of it and starts chopping away at him, shouting "Die!!!" with each chop.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The first Sheriff of Nottingham in series 3 of Robin Hood. Though it takes him a surprisingly long time to return from his Not Quite Death.
  • A Chinese soap titled Freezing Point ends with (long story) the protagonist in the hospital in a coma, her fingers twitching back to life as her love ones surround her and beg her to Please Wake Up.
  • It was subverted in Season 5 of Desperate Housewives. Edie is accidentally electrocuted, falls down... then we get a close up of the Twitching Hand right before the credits. The following episode starts with the character already cremated, IIRC.
    • Sadly true in real life, since it's obvious that she's still being electrocuted at this point, which would cause muscle spasms.
  • Happens in House, and the entire episode is in first person perspective, as they guy is helped to get back from his current state.
  • While not a direct example, some characters in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica often wake up or regain consciousness via this. One example would be Baltar in Torn: Up to that point, the audience is not sure what happened to Baltar since New Caprica. At the beginning of Torn, we get a Mind Screw dream sequence ending with Baltar's hand twitching and Baltar waking up aboard a Basestar.
  • In Happy Days when the Fonz is frozen by Mork he comes back by first wiggling his thumb.
  • The Doctor Who Made-for-TV Movie has the Doctor doing this as he's Waking Up at the Morgue. The shot alternates with Frankenstein's Monster coming to life in the black-and-white movie the morgue attendant is watching. Yes, they tried to make the Doctor out to be quite spooky. Afterward, he escapes the morgue via Barrier-Busting Blow, maintaining the spookiness factor, and then we see him looking confused and clutching his shroud tightly around himself and flinching when the morgue attendant screams and faints when he sees him.
    • Happens twice in "Destiny of the Daleks".
  • In one episode of Mash, a soldier's "corpse" is shipped to the 4077th along with a bunch of wounded. For most of the episode, the viewers are the only ones who see the soldier try to move enough to call for help.
  • Supernatural 7x02: Sam and Dean's first fight with one of the season's brand-new monsters ends with them dropping a car on it. At the end of the episode, we see its hand sticking out from under the car, fingers twitching, and the pool of blood retreating back into its body. Justified in that the creatures are Nigh Invulnerable.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Jenny is knocked unconscious when a demon-possessed old friend of Giles breaks out of the library cage...and collapses into a puddle of liquid. As the pool touches Jenny's hand, it twitches, and she comes to... now possessed.
  • On The X-Files this trope shows up in season 8's "Dead Alive" to show that Mulder was alive and not turned into a Super Soldier from The Virus. The trope turns this moment into a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, since before this episode, Mulder had been dead for three months and abducted/missing for at least four months before that, leaving behind a very distraught Scully behind. The episode ends with Scully clinging anxiously to his hand, a Finger Twitching Revival, an absolutely heartbreakingly relieved look on Scully's face, and a badly-time joke on Mulder's part.
    (Mulder's hand twitches in Scully's, and he wakes up to find Scully sitting next to his hospital bed)
    Scully (on the verge of bursting into tears): Hi.
    Mulder: Who are you?
    (Scully is devastated until she sees Mulder crack a smile—he's joking.)
    Scully: Oh, God, don't do that to me.
  • On General Hospital, this was the first indication that heroine Laura was coming out of her catatonic state.

    Music 
  • In the music video for "Anna Molly" by Incubus we see a girl who is found in a forest presumed dead. However leading up to the end of the song we find the girl start to faintly respond... while a nearby doctor prepares to lobotomise her. Her fingers twitch and we even see a tear slip out of her unblinking eyes as the buzzsaw draws nearer. Fortunately she regains control of her arm and grabs the doctor, causing him to drop the saw on the floor. Just in Time.

    Theatre 
  • This is how the characters in Rent realize Mimi is alive.

    Video Games 
  • At the end of Modern Warfare 2, the player is lying (apparently) mortally wounded on the ground with a knife in your chest, when their fingers twitch. After furiously pressing a button, they then proceed to pull the knife out of their own chest, and throw it into Shepherd's eye.
  • It happens at the end of the childhood section of Fable II.
    • Justified in the fact as a hero, he(or she) can only die of old age, but was still busted up enough it took a long time to recover from.
  • Happens in Devil May Cry when Dante first acquires Alastor. Again in Devil May Cry 3 when he first devil triggers. And again in Devil May Cry 3 after the first Vergil battle — which is Vergil's cue to stab him again.
  • The Supreme Hunter does this in Prototype after the first fight. Granted, he did regenerate from a puddle of his own remains, starting with the hand.
  • Cao Cao in Warriors Orochi 2. In Orochi's Story, the end of one of the levels has Orochi's forces whoopin' Cao Cao's ass. The cutscene afterwards shows Dian Wei carrying his body off the battlefield, making it look like he's dead...until they zoom in on his hand.
  • The Legend of Kyrandia uses it in a stinger at the end of the second game: Malcolm is freed from his statue form, but all we get to see is him twitching his finger.
  • Happens in Twilight Princess as Ganondorf survives his attempted execution.
  • Get the reinforcement points high enough in Mass Effect 3 and choose the Destroy end. The last second will be of Shepard, who everyone thinks died, starting to move.
  • Asch's finger-twitch is one of the many, many things that makes the ending of Tales of the Abyss so damn confusing. Let's put it this way - despite the fact that his finger obviously twitches, this trope might be either played straight or subverted, because we don't know if he lives in the end or not.
  • A variation happens in the second Parasite Eve game: once Aya reaches the Akropolis Café, she sees a young woman there. She faints, but her hand twitches as she wakes up and transforms into a monster right before Aya's eyes.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Subverted/averted in Justice League Unlimited. When Galatea, Supergirl's evil clone, is beaten by Supergirl by way of massive electrical shock, we see the fried Galatea on the floor as Supergirl and Steel walk away. Her fingers twitch ever so lightly. However, we never hear from her again nor do we learn her fate, so this might have been a Finger-Twitching Revival that was ignored by its creators, put there to use if they wanted. Unused, it could just be residue bodily response to the electricity.
    • Or it could have been just to imply the character is still alive, since the show was reluctant to kill humans or human-like characters on screen due to Animation Age Ghetto.
  • Ernie, the giant chicken mascot (and combat enemy to Peter Griffin) in Family Guy.
  • In The Simpsons first clip show, Homer is put into a coma because of Bart's prank. When Bart tearfully admits he pulled said prank, Homer starts to come to in this manner... only to go into outright absurdity as Homer seemingly revives because he's downright furious. In the seconds before he woke up, his heart-monitor began to display Bart's outline;
    Homer: Why you little-!
  • Averted in an episode of Transformers Prime when The Decepticons discover the location of the Autobot base and blow it up.


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