Ask Me No More by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
A male character takes the hand of a woman (often his Love Interest
) and kisses it as a mark of respect. Used to portray the man as particularly romantic, chivalrous
, or just old-fashioned
In modern times this can come across as rather creepy, especially if the guy doesn't know the woman very well. For this reason, it is sometimes done by sleazy villains in order to show up the less 'cultured' hero. In such cases, a Genre Savvy
lady will occasionally be seen to withdraw her hand before it can be kissed or even making it awkward for the man to try by offering her hand palm sideways, thumb up, fingers straight as if to insist on only a handshake.
The etiquette and protocol for the handkiss is a laundry list longer than the rules for the game of Fizzbin
. For example, one may only kiss the hand of a woman who specifically offers her hand for this purpose.
One may only kiss the hand of a married woman and never outdoors. There are also different ways to kiss a lady's hand based on whether or not you're meeting her for the first time. A gloved hand may not be kissed (unless it is an opera style arm length glove). Also, the lips are not supposed to actually even touch her hand at all. Some mention that the gentleman is allegedly supposed to kiss his own thumb where it is gripping her hand. As confusing and inconsistent there rules are, it's no surprise that they are seldom, if ever followed in fiction (or even real life for that matter), unless absolute historical accuracy (or just the appearance of it
) is a priority. Historians debate as to whether these rules were ever consistently followed. It's unlikely since Europe is a fairly big and diverse place. And unless one is a member of the Society For Creative Anachronism
(which itself is known for allegedly being historically accurate except where it's inconvienent
), you may not have realized that there were any rules at all.
Does not usually qualify as a First Kiss
(or a Last Kiss
for that matter), but may if the character is depicted so reserved this is the deepest expression of emotion he will allow. May therefore be a case of Anywhere but Their Lips
When a character kisses his own hand, it's a Kissing Warm Up
. When the hand is only the beginning
, it's Kiss Up The Arm
. Contrast with I Kiss Your Foot
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Anime & Manga
- A non-romantic example occurs in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle when Fay pledges to serve Sakura in Infinity country. Despite initially appearing romantic, the actual intent of this gesture is a lot darker: Fay's actually distancing himself from his True Companions.
- Another non-romantic CLAMP example, Eriol kisses Sakura's hand (in Cardcaptor Sakura) after helping her finish a teddy bear. Because Eriol is an English exchange student, this comes off as very chivalric and gentlemanlike — and pisses the hell out of Syaoran, Sakura's would-be love interest.
- Yet another CLAMP example! This time somewhat romantic, in a horrible screwed-up kind of way: In Tokyo Babylon Seishirou Sakurazuka kisses Subaru's hands when he first meets him, leaving the mark of the Sakurazukamori on the backs of his hands.
- Again in Magic Knight Rayearth with Ferio and Fuu. CLAMP really loves this trope.
- Mytho from Princess Tutu kisses the title character's hand before asking her "what do you think of me?"
- And in the second season, the foppish and delusional Femio does this to Kraehe.
- Done by the ridiculously over the top Tamaki in Ouran High School Host Club. In episode 9 Benio does this to Haruhi as well.
- Kon (in Ichigo's body) pulls the whole "gentleman" act on Orihime in an early episode of Bleach, and kisses her hand, which prompts everybody in the classroom to flip out. He makes things worse by kissing Tatsuki on the cheek, which causes her to start throwing heavy objects at him.
- Played with in the Get Backers manga. Amon goes to kiss Kazuki's hand... but nobody told him Kazuki was a guy until Juubei had already skewered him.
- Each of the Rozen Maiden dolls has a rose ring. Mediums pledge to serve them by kissing the ring, which causes an identical ring to appear on their finger, marking them as a Medium. To release the Medium from their service, the doll must kiss the ring the Medium wears.
- Subverted in Zero no Tsukaima: Queen Henrietta offers Saito her hand to kiss, but Saito — being from modern Japan (though this really shouldn't be an excuse) — misunderstands what is meant by "kiss" and instead sweeps the queen off her feet in a deep embrace and kiss that leaves her stunned.
- George De Sand of Mobile Fighter G Gundam does this to his princess Marie-Louise a lot. She returns the favor in the finale by giving him a kiss... on the cheek. He also does that to Rain once, before they leave the Guyana Highlands.
- In Ranma ½, this is Mikado Sanzen'in's opening move on any (attractive) woman he meets; since he's charming and handsome, most girls consider it romantic. Akane's reaction when he tried it on her (if Ranma hadn't interrupted) would have been to sock him in the jaw.
- Jack Atlas of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds does this with his adoptive mother, Martha, to put an amusing spin on his obvious king complex.
- In Sailor Moon, before Helios has to return home, he kisses Chibi-Usa's hand while on his knees in a true gentleman fashion.
- Raphael in Angel Sanctuary does this. Often. It tends to give him the results he wants, too, until he ends up in Triangle Relations, that is.
- In the first episode, when being introduced to the Marchioness, Albert kisses her hand.
- In the eighth episode, the Count does this to Albert's mother as a greeting.
- When he tells Taki he is leaving with him, Klaus kisses Taki's hand for the first time at the beginning of Maiden Rose. Afterwards it becomes an outward symbol of Klaus' fealty as a knight and a pretty thinly-veiled way of secretly acknowledging their relationship.
- Gender-flipped in DearS, where Ren kneels before Takeya, kisses his hand, then kisses his lips. No, it's not for romantic reasons. Ren is giving herself to Takeya as a slave.
- In Black Butler, Viscount Druitt kisses Ciel's hand when he meets him at the party, mistaking him for a girl. Ciel was crossdressing and wore a wig at the time, so it was an easy mistake to make.
- Sebastian kisses Ciel's hand in a flashback from the manga.
- In Revolutionary Girl Utena Touga once does this to the eponymous Utena.
- Reimei No Arcana: Caesar to Nakaba in Chapter 13.
- In Saint Beast, Judas does this as obeisance to Zeus.
- In Haou Airen, Hakuron and Fuuron's first meeting has them sealing their alliance via Fuuron going down on one knee and kissing Hakuron's hand. It's not exactly romantic, but there is quite a bit of Ho Yay-tastic vibes.
- In Sweet Guilty Love Bites, Mayu delivers this to Nina, to the latter's embarrassment.
- In Oniisama e..., Mariko does this to Fukiko during the Sorority initiation ceremony. Apparently, it's a part of the etiquette during said acts; when Nanako doesn't do anything similar due to being distracted after the Fingore incident involving Rei, Fukiko says nothing, but it's clear that she's pretty angry and surprised. At the end of the episode, Nanako has a nightmare in which she does kiss Fukiko's hand... and then is maimed by her with a pointy kenzan.
- Dong-ha kisses Je-Hyang's in I'm at End of Your Sight hand after the latter calls him up after an argument.
- During a bout of teasing in Spice and Wolf Lawrence kisses Holo's hand and says, "Now you're under my spell." A reaction shot revealed she was indeed charmed.
- In an early episode of Go Lion, the Earth pilots kiss Princess Fala's hand to pledge allegiance to Altea and join the fight against the Galra Empire.
- Ollie Queen (Green Arrow) does it from time to time — but as he's basically Errol Flynn crossed with Abbie Hoffman, he pulls it off.
- Played with in the Lucky Luke album Calamity Jane, where Jane must learn to behave like a lady, so she gets provided with a good-manners teacher. As soon she meets with him, she whacks him (off panel), and then explains: "This one wanted to lick my hand!"
- Subverted in the second Grendel comic book series, with Christine Spar as the title character. She meets Tujiro IVX, who takes her hand as if to kiss it, then extends a tongue to lick her palm. He's a Chinese Vampire and tracks his prey using a variation of clairvoyance based on taste.
- Rogue of the X-Men, occasionally finds herself the recipeint of a kiss on her hand. Gambit, Nightcrawler, and a few other good friends have been known to do this for her. Unfortunately, because of her dangerous mutant ability, Rogue still has to leave her gloves on. But to her, it's the thought that counts.
- It should be mentioned that this used to be a signature move for Nightcrawler with most women he met. It disappeared during his priesthood days for obvious reasons.
- In Your Servant, Mistress, an all-human Maleficent fanfic, Maleficent gracefully allows Diaval to kiss her hand. He is a submissive in the fic, and she doesn't like to be touched, so it's something of a mixture of reasons.
- In Kyon Big Damn Hero Kyon, wearing a Victorian-style suit, plays along with Yuki's, wearing an Elegant Gothic Lolita outfit, offer of tea making this gesture. His lips don't actually touch Yuki's hand, though.
- Midnight Green: Zebra Mask kisses the hoof of, of all ponies, Pinkie Pie.
- Ace Combat The Equestrian War: In the epilogue, Mobius kisses Rainbow Dash's hoof. Sky Eye explains that it means Mobius considers Rainbow his equal.
- In Time Heals All Wounds Bill Weasley kisses Fleur Delacour's hand when he sees her in the hospital wing after the third Triwizard task.
- In an untitled RWBY drabble, Jaune does this to Pyrrha as a symbol of his respect for her. The kiss is chaste and gentle, unlike the next one.
- In Opening Dangerous Gates:
- Lyon kisses Juvia's hand while hitting on her, pissing Gray off.
- After the redwood tree demon is defeated, an old man from the village they saved enthusiastically thanks them and kisses Erza and Laxus' hands, to Laxus' disgust.
- When his work is done, Urahara gives some comforting words to Levy and kisses her hand before departing. Gajeel doesn't take it well.
Films — Animation
- Robin Hood and Little John make do with this trope and a little flattering to take the jewels off Prince John's rings. Prince John learns from his mistake and pulls his hand away the next time Little John tries kissing it.
- It's easy to miss, but at the end of Brave, when the clans are returning to their homes, one of the clan leader's sons can be seen kissing Merida's hand as they prepare to leave. Given that Merida and all three of the sons agreed that they weren't ready to be married, it likely was meant as a sign of friendship or respect (she's still, after all, the king's daughter).
Films — Live-Action
- Dr. Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show does this to Janet.
- Jack kisses Rose's hand when he meets them in the first class dining room for dinner, followed by the impish grin and the confession: "I saw that in a nickelodeon once and always wanted to do it."
- A Gender Flipped example happens at the end of the movie. But then, the guy just died.
- In the movie Gladiator, after the suspicious death of the previous emperor, Marcus Aurelius, Lucilla kisses the hands of the next emperor, Commodus, right after slapping him in a pledge of loyalty. The gesture of kissing the hand derives from ancient pledges of fealty, so it is appropriate in that context.
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: Lando Calrissian's greeting to Princess Leia, establishing just how smooth and charming he can be, especially compared to his old friend Han Solo.
- Gangs of New York: Bill the Butcher kisses the hand of an uptown girl visiting the sleazy Five Points, complimenting her perfume. He's a corrupt murderous gang leader with class.
- Preston Preston, the villain of Young Einstein, does this to Marie Curie. It's played for creepiness here.
- In the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film, Holmes does this to Watson's wife-to-be Mary upon meeting her. It's probably intended on his part to be a bit unsettling, given that he spends the entirety of their meeting trying to drive her and Watson apart.
- In The Queen, Tony Blair is depicted as actually kissing Her Maj's hand. This is a faux pas, since the custom is supposed to be done symbolically, by holding her hand and bowing over it. None of this has anything to do with real life.
- In The Godfather, the Don's men kiss his hand.
- Gender-flipped in the film Tuesdays with Morrie, when he was struggling to breath and the EMS were tending to him, his wife kissed his hand to assure him that things will be all right.
- In Le Gendarme se marie (part of Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez movie series), when Cruchot (Louis de Funès) kiss the hand of his future wife Josépha, electric sparks fly off — twice. Puzzled, Adjudant Gerber wonders whether Cruchot is full of static electricity, and commands him to kiss his own hands to test it out, to no result. That's when the colonel walks in...
- Anytime Thor kisses Jane's hand. Particularly the first time, since it was after Thor was causing nothing but trouble for Jane and Jane decides she can't be involved anymore and apologizes for being unable to take him where he wants to go, he thanks her for everything she's done for him and just kisses her hand.
- And also in The Big Damn Kiss where Thor and Jane lean forward to kiss, only for Thor to hesitate and kiss her her hand instead. Jane pulls him into a kiss anyways.
- George kisses Mary's hand while walking her home from the high-school dance in It's a Wonderful Life.
- A non-romantic version in X-Men: First Class, with adoptive siblings Charles Xavier and Raven/Mystique when Mystique has decided to leave with Magneto and the injured Charles kisses her hand in farewell.
- Congo. When Dr Karen Ross holds out her hand for a handshake Captain Wanta raises it to his lips, only for her to yank back her hand.
- In Troy, as a peace offering, King Priam kisses both of Achilles' hands, then remarks, "I have endured what no man has endured before. I kissed the hands of the man who killed my son."
- In City Lights, a slightly punch-drunk Tramp does this to his trainer in a boxing match thinking he's the blind flower girl.
- Mädchen in Uniform: Done by Manuela towards Fräulein von Bernburg and done when she performs in the school play (the film is set in an all-female Prussian boarding school).
- Bullshot. The Comedic Hero and the Damsel in Distress fall in Love at First Sight the moment they lay eyes on each other in a restaurant. Orchestra music swells as Bullshot bends down to kiss her hand...only to have a waiter shove a menu in front of his face.
- Manages to pull at least quadruple duty at the end of Dawn of the Dead (2004). Newly-widowed nurse Anna and now-childless TV salesman Michael obviously don't meet under the most romantic of circumstances, but they begin to connect over the course of the film, making the fact that he's bitten saving her life a last second gut punch. When their group makes it to a boat to sail for possible safety, he reveals the bite and opts to stay behind despite her protests, knowing the certain danger he'd pose if he stayed. As he helps make ready to shove off, he grabs her hand for a final kiss, before taking in the sunrise and putting one through his chin. This is also an example of:
- Gender-inverted once again in Moonrise Kingdom, when Suzy kisses Sam's hand during their "wedding".
- Guardians of the Galaxy. The Collector does this to Gamora on first meeting her. It's only a light peck, but it adds to the creepy vibe.
- In Maleficent Diaval is seen doing this to Aurora, when she comes to visit the moors. This is quite likely a moment that caused people to ship these two, and also one that established that Diaval is cultured. Even though he's actually a bird.
- Mr. Krueger's Christmas: As some carolers are coming down Mr. Krueger imagines himself as a wealthy gentleman in a Big Fancy House greeting his guests by kissing the lead singer’s hand, leading to an awkward moment when it snaps back to reality and he’s actually doing it!
- On Selfie, overly warm and affectionate boss Sam Saperstein loves giving his employees physical warmth when he's happy with them. In one episode after Eliza and Henry do a great presentation, he hugs Henry and then kisses Eliza's hand, before pulling her close and giving her a ballroom dance-style dip.
- A subversion as with the Lucky Luke example above was done by Ellie May from The Beverly Hillbillies, both in the show and in the movie.
- On Babylon 5, Sheridan kisses Delenn's hand at the end of "Severed Dreams", partly in thanks for saving the station and partly as a romantic gesture. In another episode, Londo does it with his mostly-estranged wife after she asks why he chose her as the one of three not to divorce. "With you, I always know where I stand."
- The Addams Family. "Tish! You spoke French!" (Of course, after kissing her hand, Gomez would work his way up Mortitia's arm.)
- On The Vampire Diaries, Damon kisses Elena's hand just a couple of minutes after they have an Accidental Almost Kiss.
- The overenthusiastic Italian major in 'Allo 'Allo! does this with most women he meets.
- Happens a few times between Mulder and Scully on The X-Files, notably in "Redux II" and "The Truth".
- In the opening of "First Person Shooter" a game player encounters the avatar known as Maitreya, who has the body of Krista Allen in a leather fetish outfit. Unsurprisingly he drops to one knee and kisses her glove. Surprisingly for him, her glove morphs into a flintlock pistol that shoots him in the face.
- Sayid, of all people, does this to Kate in the eighth episode of LOST as he departs the beach in shame after torturing Sawyer, saying "I hope we meet again."
- Lancelot kisses Gwen's hand during their first meeting in Merlin.
- It happens quite often on the show: Valiant kisses Morgana's hand in greeting, Uther kisses Lady Vivian's hand (also in greeting), and Arthur kisses Princess Elena's hand in farewell.
- The Tudors is filled with hand-kissing. Most of it is non-romantic.
- At the end of the Doctor Who serial The Daleks one of the Thals that the heroes have been working with kisses Barbara's hand. She then kisses him on the lips.
- In 'Bad Wolf', Jack insists that he's not flirting with Lynda - then kisses her hand when she says she's not complaining.
- On The Angels take Manhattan, the Doctor kisses River's hand after burning up a bit of his life to heal her broken wrist. She responds by slapping him hard, but not for the kiss, but for wasting his regeneration energy on her.
- The Tenth Doctor kisses Clara's hand towards the end of "The Day of the Doctor".
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Angel presents Buffy with her claddagh ring, she responds by kissing the identical ring on Angel's hand.
- In episode 2x05 of Call the Midwife, Dr Turner cleans up Sister Bernadette's hand after she cuts herself, and then closes his eyes and kisses her palm with a look on his face that says he is so in love he honestly just couldn't help himself. Because Sister Bernadette is a nun, this opens up a whole can of worms that resonate through the rest of the series.
Turner: I'm sorry. That was unforgivable.
Bernadette: Who is it who decides what is forgivable and unforgivable?
Turner: I think you know that better than I do.
Bernadette: At this moment I only know that I’m not turning my back on you because of you. I’m doing it because of Him.
Turner: And if I didn't accept that, I wouldn't deserve to live.
- Three episodes later, he does it again — this time after she says 'yes' to marrying him.
- When Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe) in North and South can't find words to explain to John Thornton (Richard Armitage) that she is, in fact, desperately in love with him, she passionately kisses the back of his hand instead.
- In the Game of Thrones episode "Baelor", Lord Walder Frey gives a very sloppy and disgusting one to Lady Catelyn Stark.
- In True Blood, Eric Northman tells Russell Edgington he forgives him for killing his family and hopes Russell will forgive him for killing his lover Talbot. Eric then kisses Russell's hand.
- Star Trek: Voyager.
- Dr Chaotica does this to Queen Arachnia is his usual Large Ham manner after she strides majestically into his throne room. As Arachnia is being played by Captain Janeway, she's not impressed. When he tries it again later, she walks off just as he's bending down to kiss.
- Inverted from the usual in "Counterpoint". Kashyk gives Janeway a passionate Now or Never Kiss, then finishes up by kissing the palm and fingers of the hand she's holding him with.
- In "Heroes and Demons" the Doctor is Holding Hands with wounded shieldmaiden Freya, and kisses her hand after she dies.
- Rome. The normally crude and unsentimental Marc Antony kisses Atia's hand the last time he sees her before departing for Egypt, as there's a row of soldiers keeping them from getting any closer.
- In Adam Adamant Lives, the eponymous hero, being an Edwardian gentleman, is accustomed to kiss ladies' hands. The ladies themselves, mostly being 1960s Femmes Fatale, tend to be slightly thrown by this.
- In an optional scene in Suikoden III the Zexen Knights have sworn fealty to their (beautiful, female and eligible) Knight Captain Chris upon their swords, each in turn. Chris's young page expresses a desire to do the same but complains that he lacks a sword, instead he just kneels down and kisses her hand. The other Knights proceed to react with a mixture of rage, amusement and deep respect for his guts.
- In Suikoden V, the ridiculously foppish Euram Barows attempts this with Princess Lymsleia. Said Princess' bodyguard reminds him that her father and brother are the only men allowed to touch her until she marries, and threatens to violently enforce this rule, in the first of many, many humiliations for the unfortunate Euram.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, if Frederick is the chosen love interest for a female Avatar, his confession scene◊ will have him getting ready to kiss her hand.
- In just about every episode of Libertys Kids, although it may not count because it was the 1700s. It is played for laughs at times, though.
- Sonic does this to Sally towards the end of Sonic Sat AM, a gesture which is generally unlike him. Think of it as a Moment Of Awesome for him, after the several times that Antoine has relentlessly been giving Sally kisses on the hand throughout the series.
- When Arnold in Hey Arnold! finds out that his date isn't whom she said she was, he does this to her to show that no matter what he genuinely liked the date. Of course it was Helga all along...
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Princess Celestia has received the occasional grateful kiss on the hoof. One was from Rarity, another that happened far earlier was from Granny Smith's father. In this case the action earned an irritated look from his wife.
- In "Luna Eclipsed", Princess Luna holds out her hoof, expecting her subjects to kiss it. They're too intimidated by her dramatic entrance and ROYAL CANTERLOT VOICE to attempt it, though.
- The Hair Bear Bunch: Mr. Peevly kisses Hair Bear's hand but only as a bargaining chip to have him help find the missing zoo animals before the superintendent's visit in the episode "Raffle Ruckus."
- The gesture of kissing the hand derives from ancient pledges of fealty. The more classical example is "kissing the ring" as a sign of submission, still practiced in audiences with the Pope and some royalty and Mafioso. One assumes it made its way into romantic gesture territory through Courtly Love.
- Taken to the point of ridiculousness in France in one period, where kissing someone's hand was considered a gesture of respect to them. In an effort to upstage the other person with politeness, there were reports of competitions to kiss someone's hand without your own being kissed, culminating when two people greeted each other, and one of them kept moving her hand so the other man couldn't take it to kiss. Apparently he gave up and they started talking less formally, only for him to suddenly grab her hand mid-sentence and kiss it.
- Speaking of France, in a political meeting, the then French President Jacques Chirac greeted the German Chancellor Angela Merkel by kissing her hand, showing off his old-fashioned ways. In contrast, his successor Sarkozy greeted her casually with a hug.
- In Turkey, kissing the hands of the elderly (both male and female) is an important sign of gesture and a fairly common custom, especially from children to their grandparents. Doing it to a younger person (middle-aged and below), while acceptable in some cases, is much less common and may even be a serious faux pax. Kissing the hand of a younger woman in such manner tends to send the message that you think she is old and... yeah...
- There is a way to differentiate the romantic version from the one for reverence, however, as the latter is nearly always done with both hands of the kisser, and requires touching the kissee's hand to the kissee's forehead. Doing the former is still unusual, but not necessarily insulting.
- On the other hand, in Indonesia, kids commonly kiss their parents' hand before going to school. Nevermind if you're well into the college age and "going to school" means "going to another country to school". Neither romantic nor overly for exaggerated respect.
- In Austria, the older generation still tends to take this very seriously, and the generation just after them — people between 50 and 70 — sometimes likes to affect it.