Mike is introduced to Bill for the first time. Bill extends his hand for a handshake, but Mike flatly refuses the offer.
Can be done in a variety of situations for a variety of reasons. Mike may be an Ineffectual Loner
who is merely displaying his Badass
demeanor or desire to work alone. Bill may be some sort of villain
or corrupt figure, and Mike is merely expressing his distrust or disrespect towards Bill by refusing his handshake. Or Mike might be a foreigner from a place where body contact is taboo (or, in sci-fi works, an alien who doesn't get the concept of a handshake).
A comedy version of this trope has Mike refusing the handshake for a humorous reason, such as Bill having just sneezed into his hand.
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Anime and Manga
- Inverted in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: when future rivals Heero and Zechs meet face-to-face for the first time, Zechs offers his hand. After a pause, Heero accepts the gesture while remarking that he's never shaken hands with anybody before. This could be because Zechs has shown himself to be very honest and honorable, especially for a member of OZ.
- Subverted in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny, where at the very end Shinn is introduced to Kira, whom he has spent a fair amount of the plot trying very hard to kill. Kira offers his hand, but Shinn is reluctant to accept, prompting Kira to say "I guess not, huh?" But Shinn eventually does take the hand, while crying over the fact that he's being forgiven so easily for what he's done.
- Subverted in Code Geass: upon her introduction, Rakshata Chawla radiates a rather arrogant Insufferable Genius aura and, when Zero offers her a handshake, it looks like she will refuse it for a moment. She decides to accept, however, in a symbolic move of acknowledging a fellow genius in the rebel leader. It is later shown that Rakshata is not actually that arrogant or smug, but she certainly acted the part when joining the rebellion.
- Batman likes doing this. A lot. Even as Bruce Wayne.
- One Dilbert etiquette book has Dogbert explain that this is the "right" way to respond if someone tries to shake your hand after you sneeze into it. The "wrong" way is to shake anyway and let them know afterwards, and the "playful" way is to shake and claim that the moisture is because you just washed your hand.
- Tintin: Reclusive Millionaire Lazlo Carreidas refuses to shake hands with the Captain, claiming it's unhygienic.
- In the 1998 film Godzilla, Matthew Broderick refuses to shake a nerdy scientist's hand after he just sneezed into it.
- Jim Hawkins does this to Long John Silver in Treasure Planet. At first, it's because he's a cyborg and happens to be offering a collection of knives instead of his hand in hand mode. Then it's just a sign of distrust.
- In the film Mr. Brooks, Kevin Costner's character does this to Dane Cook's character.
- In Blue Streak, Martin Lawrence's character, while posing as a cop, is introduced to a high ranking police officer who extends his hand to shake. He had previously spied the man applying lotion to his private parts, so instead hugs him.
- Seem to recall this happening to Daniel Jackson in Stargate the movie, kinda a mixture of comedy of Jackson sneezing in his hand and contempt for him being in a military base in the first place.
- In Tombstone, Doc Holliday refuses to shake the hand of the corrupt fop of a sheriff who is in league with the cowboy gangs.
- Though this is because he's a Lawman, and has nothing to do with his corrupt foppery.
- At the end of the OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go Kamen Riders, Eiji / OOO and Kotaro / New Den-O shake hands. Momotaros offers Ankh a handshake...DENIED.
- In Toy Story 3, Woody refused to shake hands with Buzz as he was leaving Sunnyside.
- In Howard Stern's Private Parts, his new employer - Moti, refuses to shake Howard's hand.
- Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows refuses to shake hands with Dr Watson the first time they meet, possibly because he's a Neat Freak and has issues with personal hygiene. Fully used to his brother's eccentricities, Watson isn't insulted.
- In The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond is told before meeting Stromberg that he's germophobic and won't shake hands. Bond holds out his hand to Stromberg anyway and is predictably rebuffed.
- Django Unchained. Just when everything seems to be wrapped up, bloodlessly if not ideally, Schultz's inability to bring himself to shake Candie's hand ruins everything. Candie claims their signed contract will be effectively null and void without one, but more likely he just wants to antagonize him. Schultz shoots him instead.
- In Bicentennial Man, the first indication that Andrew's manufacturer sees him as a machine and nothing more is that he refuses to shake Andrew's hand when offered.
- In The Wizard of Speed and Time, Mike refuses to shake hands with people in the movie, to the point that in one scene he implies that it's people who insist on shaking hands as a sign of respect and trust who are the neurotic ones, not him. This is also a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as Mike Jittlov, who's essentially playing himself in the film, doesn't like to shake hands in real life.
- Casablanca. When Renault meets Strausser at the airport, an Italian officer is snubbed as part of the Passive-Aggressive Kombat.
- Duck Soup: Rufus T. Firefly imagines Ambassador Tretino won't shake his hand, and builds up resentment towards him so much that as soon as Tretino enters Firefly Glove Slaps him for the refusal which hadn't actually happened.
I'd be only too happy to meet with Ambassador Trentino, and offer him on behalf of my country the right hand of good fellowship. And I feel sure he will accept this gesture in the spirit of which it is offered. But suppose he doesn't. A fine thing that'll be. I hold out my hand and he refuses to accept. That'll add a lot to my prestige, won't it? Me, the head of a country, snubbed by a foreign ambassador. Who does he think he is, that he can come here, and make a sap of me in front of all my people? Think of it - I hold out my hand and that hyena refuses to accept. Why, the cheap four-flushing swine, he'll never get away with it I tell you, he'll never get away with it. Trentino enters So, you refuse to shake hands with me, eh?
- In Now You See Me, when Merritt meets Daniel and Henley for the first time. Daniel offers his hand to Merritt, who starts to accept then suddenly flips him a middle finger instead.
- In Robert Asprin's Another Fine Myth, Aahz offers to take protagonist Skeeve on as his apprentice, since Skeeve's teacher has just been murdered. Pleased, Skeeve offers his hand to seal the deal...and Aahz refuses, because he doesn't shake hands with apprentices. Skeeve wonders if he should have thought this arrangement through a little more.
- Much later, while searching for a missing Aahz in his home dimension, Skeeve flinches at shaking hands with an apprentice. When he explains where he picked up the habit, Aahz's old magic teacher remembers him ("It was one of his less objectionable traits") and is able to help Skeeve look for him.
- In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry refuses Malfoy's handshake when they first meet on the Hogwarts Express, rejecting him in favor of his future best friend Ron.
- Animorphs: at the end of the episode where Tom and Jake are taken to the country for their grandfather's funeral longer than the Yeerk can survive, the Animorphs save the day by breaking Tom's leg so he gets sent back into town. Marco, who came up with the idea, offers his hand to Jake as a sign of all being forgiven (Jake had been dealing with the possibility that his brother might be finally freed), but Jake just lets it sit there.
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: The Professor Aronnax gets this treatment with Captain Nemo. Nemo doesn't distrust Wide-Eyed Idealist Aronnax, is just one of the first of many signs to show how far Nemo has been Madden Into Misanthropy:
I thought the commander would offer me his hand, to seal our agreement. He did nothing of the sort. I regretted that.
- In Settling Accounts: In at the Death, the last book of the Timeline-191 series, Irving Morrell refuses to shake the hand of the surrendering CSA president. He has explicit orders not to shake the man's hand.
- In the Sherlock Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia", Holmes disregards the King of Bohemia's offered hand, deeming the latter's conduct in the case to have been dishonorable.
- In the fifth book of The Dresden Files, "Death Masks", Martin does this to Harry in his first appearance.
Martin: I don't shake hands.
- In the X-Wing Series novel Iron Fist, Wraith agent Shalla Nelprin is introduced in disguise to Captain Netbers, the villain's hand-to-hand expert (who she has been told is going to "evaluate her skills"). Rather than shake his hand, she instantly attacks him — because she could see from his stance that he intended to use the handshake to grab and throw her. (He admits later that she was absolutely correct.)
- Sub-commander T'pol does this to Trip Tucker in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. Justified in that T'pol is a Vulcan, Vulcans being touch telepathic aliens who don't like touching members of their own species, let alone emotional humans. It pretty obviously doubled as a snub, however.
- In season five of 24, Jack Bauer reacts this way to his ex-wife's new boyfriend.
- Monk is a germophobe and refuses to shake hands with just about anyone. If he's forced to, he will immediately turn to his assistant for a wipe.
- In one episode he voluntarily shook hands as a sign of friendship with an ex-colleague of his, who was accused (even by Monk) of being in the drug-business (which he wasn't, which was proven of course.)
- In another episode he shook hands with a succession of people, after the last one he immediately turned to his assistant for a wipe. The problem being, the last handshakee was black, leading to much accusations of racism.
- In a Seinfeld episode, Elaine's boss has a cold. Having left his handkerchief in Elaine's office, he sneezes into his hand and is unable to shake the hand of a Japanese businessman when he sneezes, explaining that he can't because of the germs. The Japanese men assume he is implying that they might be diseased and cancel their business dealings.
- The Mayor from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is portrayed as a neat-freak, and refuses to shake anyone's hand.
- Victor Kennedy in the Doctor Who episode "Love and Monsters", allegedly because of his "eczeema"; it turns out he's an "absorbaloff" (or at least, likes the title) and bodily absorbs anyone he touches.
- Additionally, near the end of the second series, the Doctor is distracted by the presence of the Void Ship and fails to shake hands with the technician when offered.
- Vince MacMahon on at least one occasion said "I don't shake hands with lawyers" on WWE.
- On Angel, Cordelia introduces herself to the friendly but corrupt lawyer Eve. When Eve begins to introduce herself in turn, Cordelia interrupts her, saying, "I didn't ask."
- Don does this to Pete Campbell in the pilot of Mad Men; it's fairly awesome.
- House is not fond of physical contact and often will refuse handshakes, regardless of who they're from.
- There was an episode of M*A*S*H whose B-plot involved Winchester's dental woes coupled with his fear of dentists. In the end of the episode, Winchester is about to shake the hand of the man who Hawkeye and BJ brought on to handle the episode's A-plot only for them to reveal he's a dentist; Winchester immediately retracts his hand. To be fair, this was more due to his fear of dentists than any attempt at being insulting.
- In the original Ellen Degeneres sitcom Ellen, one episode involved the filming of a talkshow, which ended with the host shaking hands with the guests - onc the cameras and music stopped, so did he.
- In a very very old episode of Baywatch a returning lifeguard refuses Mitch (David Hasselhoff's) handshake. However rather than being rude it's the first clue that an eye-disease is destroying his periphial vision.
- In the Babylon 5 episode "Passing Through Gethsemane", Sheridan hesitates to shake the hand of a recent murderer who had since been "mindwiped" (had his personality and memories removed and replaced as punishment for the capital crime) and joined Brother Theo's monastic order, until Brother Theo reminds him of the value of forgiveness.
- In an episode of Frasier, the artist Frasier invites over always wears a smock so she doesn't have to shake hands.
- This was done in an episode of Coach set in a sperm bank. Hayden Fox ran into one of his fans coming out of one of the private rooms, who promptly recognized him and held out his hand for a shake.
- On NCIS, Agent Nikki Jardine was temporarily assigned to Gibbs' team, but didn't shake hands with anyone. As with Monk (mentioned above), she's a germophobe.
- Dogbert's Rules of Etiquette has a page on how to handle handshakes. Dilbert denying a handshake because he just sneezed is labeled "polite"; another character snarking after shaking with a sneezed hand is "rude"; Dogbert lying and saying it's wet because he just washed it is labeled "playful".
- In Ring of Honor's early days, the Code of Honor included handshakes before and after the match, and some major feuds started with one wrestler refusing to shake another's hand.
- Referenced in CM Punk's Wrestlerave promo about Raven: "I'd shake your hand like a normal man, but the truth is I don't respect you!"
- Refusing a handshake is a common feature of a Face-Heel Turn, especially favoured in the tag team break up angle.
- At the beginning of Nouvelle Experience (a Cirque du Soleil show), The Everyman tries to offer a handshake to the strangers he's suddenly surrounded by. But he's in a Cloudcuckooland, and they are confused and even frightened by the gesture whenever he attempts it. A few acts later, having come to understand that he is friendly, one of them returns his handshake.
- Questionable Content: On being introduced to Dave, Steve refuses to shake his hand because immediately preceding the introduction, he heard Dave watching porn. Yeaaah.
- Eugene declines to shake hands when sealing a deal with Lord Shojo in The Order of the Stick. It's not rudeness, however; as a ghost, he is incapable of holding anything corporeal.
- Sponge Bob Square Pants, "Pressure": SpongeBob offers Squidward a high-five. Squidward's response: "Not on your life, sport."
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: In "The Eggpire Strikes Back'' Jimmy refused to shake hands with King Goobot after he disapproves of a picnic he's hosting.
- A variant occurs in American Dad! episode "Tears Of A Clooney", after Stan befriends George Clooney, he later refuses to fistbump him because has to inform George he is "leaving" him to move back to his old home.
- In the Regular Show episode "Family BBQ", Mordecai learns that Margaret's dad never shakes hands with any of her boyfriends, and becomes obsessed with getting that handshake, even taking part in a cannonball contest that, typical of the show, gets dangerously out of hand.
- Specifically banned in fencing. Refusing to shake hands with your opponent after a bout can result in disqualification.
- Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was famously at the wrong end of such a refusal at the Salon de l'Agriculture, but his reaction to it was even more (in)famous: he answered the offender "Casse-toi alors, pauvre con!" ("Get lost then, dumbass!"). Such a direct insult to a citizen was deemed unbecoming of the President, and veered into sheer hypocrisy when someone was later arrested for "insult to the president" for holding a sign with that very sentence during an anti-Sarkozy protest.