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Hand Rubbing

the best thing about alcohol hand gel in hospitals isn't the hygiene, but that everyone walks around like they're hatching a dastardly plan.
Katie, Facebook comment

Hand Rubbing is the act of rubbing the palms of your hands together. The friction of the gesture can be used to provide heat in a cold environment, or it can simply convey excitation or expectation. The Other Wiki has a whole article on the subject, but here, we will focus on rubbing hands as a trope.

There is an eerie specificity in fiction to reserve this gesture for Smug Snake type villains. Used car salesmen, lower-end Corrupt Corporate Executives and the Dastardly Whiplash will gleefully rub their hands when things are going their way, but a true Magnificent Bastard always opts to clasp his hands instead. Even when otherwise positive characters do this, there's nearly always a sinister undercurrent.


  • Astérix villain Tullius Destructivus (In English, Tortuous Convolvulus) had a habit of this.

Film — Live Action
  • In Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet, two sinister characters are seen rubbing their hands.
    • An unnamed Depraved Dwarf, the Gardener's minion, rubs his hands when Nick Carter (The Ace of a Great Detective) brings Adele, a mysterious plant to his hotel room, and he's pleased that he can get it back for their boss. He also rubs his hands when he moved a carpet and made police commissioner Ledvina fall down. It's always accompanied by hilariously ominous giggling.
    • The Gardener rubs his hands when his final revenge has just started. One of his mortal enemies is about to get eaten by Adele, the carnivorous plant from the title.
  • In Lemonade Joe, or Horse Opera, gunman Grimpo rubs his hands when he and his "kids" Coyote Kid and Pancho Kid are going to torture Lemonade Joe. Fortunately for Joe, Cold-Blooded Torture gets spoofed as any other trope in this movie, so he only gets his clothes destroyed and he gets mighty dirty, however, he really looks like he suffers a lot.


  • This is the trademark pose of rapper Birdman, as seen in several music videos.


Video Games

  • Girl Genius - "...and suddenly the captain is rubbing his hands together and affirming that "We're not pirates. He didn't count."
  • In El Goonish Shive, Ellen does it here as she thinks about her plan for getting Elliot in trouble.

Western Animation
  • Mr. Burns does this on occasion in The Simpsons. Word of God is that this is supposed to be like a praying mantis.
  • 1973/74 Super Friends
    • Episode "The Androids". Dr. Rebos does this after he captures Superman using artificial kryptonite.
    • Episode "The Balloon People". Dr. Noah Tall does it when he thinks he's about to capture the title characters.

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