Memetic Hand Gesture

Any hand gesture that's become emblematic of the character, series, or situation in which it appears.

Cousin of Strange Salute. See also Character Tics.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man's web-shooting gesture. It's because the trigger for the webshooters is on his palm, and designed so that only just the right pressure and a double-tap could activate it. This prevents the normal motions of his hands (for instance, forming a fist) from slinging web everywhere.
  • Elsewhere in the Marvel Universe, among the X-Men, there's the (generally not used so much anymore) Pstandard Psychic Pstance used by Professor X and occasionally Jean Grey. Not among the X-Men, Scarlet Witch often does a Spidey-like gesture in the air when using her hex power. Her earliest appearances have it so that if her hand accidentally falls into a close enough position a hex effect will happen, its target (and severity) completely random. By now, she's much better at directing it. Doctor Strange also has gestures he uses when working magic, which also look Spider-Man-esque. (It's like they were created by the same guy or something).
  • Transmetropolitan: Spider Jerusalem lighting a cigarette, head slightly cocked, hand cupped in front of it. Hard to describe, but if you've seen a picture of him, you've seen him do this. Gets lampshaded in-series; at one point, Channon comments that Yelena is turning into Spider, and while Yelena's denying it, she makes this exact pose.

    Image Boards 
  • The FGSFDS meme, a meme based around the hand gesture of one random person holding up their index finger, usually with their mouth open. It's intended to signal that a conversation has lost all traces of seriousness/sanity.
    • Allegedly stands for "For God's sake, fuck dis shit" though this may be a Backronym.


  • The Hunger Games: The District Twelve salute (touching your lip with your three middle fingers and then holding that hand out) becomes a symbol of the rebellion in-universe, as well as going memetic in real life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Red Dwarf's Arnold Rimmer and his Overly Long Gag Strange Salute procedures.
  • Mr. Saxon of Doctor Who gives this trope two thumbs up. So famous, the page image has served on at least four different pages.
  • Spike of Buffy fame once pulled a V-Sign with the palm facing away from the intended target, which made it into the opening credits. It's infamous, because the American censors didn't realize the gesture is not a variation on the victory sign, but is actually an obscene gesture in certain countries, including Spike's native Britain. While not unique, it's rare on American TV.
  • Star Trek's Vulcan salute. See the Real Life section for more details.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has the hand gesture that Captain Picard makes whenever he says "Engage" to get the Enterprise moving.
  • Mork & Mindy: the Orkan greeting, coupled with "Nanu nanu," is a Vulcan salute turned sideways.
  • Adam Richman from the Travel Channel show Man v. Food is trying to establish one of these for when he starts one of the food challenges; it's not immediately obvious what it is. It appears to be three signs. First, an "M," which he's done in two ways, either three or four fingers pointing down. If he uses four, the middle two stay together. Then, a "V". Last, an "F," formed by taking his right hand and extending the index and middle fingers horzontally, then using one finger on his left hand raised vertically to make the back of the F.
  • Carol Burnett pulling her ear at the end of her self-titled show.
  • The "Be Seeing You" gesture from The Prisoner.
    • A variation (with the looped thumb and forefinger over the forehead instead of the eye) is used by Psi Cop Bester in Babylon 5.
  • The Apprentice: "You're fired!" Nicknamed "The Cobra"
  • Tendou Souji of Kamen Rider Kabuto always points to the sun when reciting his Catch-Phrase. Attempts at memetic hand gestures would become more frequent in later seasons. Kamen Rider Den-O is best known for spamming this half to death, with the four Imagin characters each displaying their own. Kamen Rider Fourze does this with both the title character and some supporting ones, to the extent that a scene with all the characters tied up has one guy with his hands somehow bound into his memetic hand gesture. There's also a different sound effect for every gesture.
  • Power Rangers S.P.D.: Bridge likes his toast buttery, and can't help but wiggle his fingers whenever he says "buttery". When called on this, he denies it - only to realize it's still happening, even as he tries to stop himself.
  • Happy Days: Fonzie's "aaay!" thumbs up.
  • Twin Peaks has the Bookhouse Boys' Salute, in which one rubs one's index finger along one's eyebrow, outward.
  • Ultraman's Specium Ray gesture, which is done by crossing one arm over the other like this. His many successors have had their own variants on it, and it is widely parodied across Japan (and the most common way to reference to Ultraman in the west).
  • Siskel & Ebert famously awarded each movie they reviewed a Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down. Their thumbs were in fact trademarked to prevent other shows from copying them!

  • Amon Amarth's song "Raise Your Horns" is partly a Heavy Meta reference to the "horns" gesture in metal fandom (hand upraised, palm facing the band, pinkie and index finger straight, thumb and other fingers curled).
  • The Wiggles and their finger-pointing/wiggling gesture, iconic to many Australians who grew up with their material.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the sign of the aquila (crossing both hands across the chest and hooking thumbs), meant to represent the Imperium's two-headed eagle insignia. The Adeptus Mechanicus has a variant where the fingertips are folded up, representing their cogwheel insignia.

  • Peking Opera has a ton:
    • Female roles have long, flowing sleeves that they throw out in an arc during significant solos.
    • Older roles stroke their beard whenever they're plotting something.
    • Badass characters who have the feather hat (i.e. what Lü Bu is seen to wear in Dynasty Warriors) will hold one of the feathers in their hand during solos.
    • Son Wukong, in addition to a ton of monkey-like mannerisms (he'll scratch himself and pick imaginary ticks off his body, then "eat" them), is most often seen peering into the distance with his hand in an almost backwards military salute pose, to signify that he's using his telescopic vision.

    Video Games 


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Brohoof! (Basically a personalized Fan Nickname of the Bro Fist, see below. Does, in fact, appear on the show.)
    • The show's variant is known as a hoof-bump and the equivalent of a high-five.
  • Finn and Jake do a fist pound over the Adventure Time logo at the start of each show...and at random times during most episodes.
  • In Mixels, the Nixels have a thumbs-down Nixel hand as their logo. It's used on various things such as flags, belt symbols, and staffs.
  • The Venture Bros. has the Team Venture sign, which is when two or more people each do a V-sign high above their heads and press their fingertips together while exclaiming "Go Team Venture!" Though it started as the annoying habit of young Hank and Dean, the gesture was eventually used by so many characters that Hank declined to participate because it was "too watered down".
  • Mr. Burns' "tapping fingertips together while exclaiming 'Excellent!'" gesture on The Simpsons.

    Real Life 
  • The Queen's Wave, often attributed to HM Queen Elizabeth II is often used for royalty in British media.
  • The Roman salute (actually a French invention falsely associated with Rome), forever co-opted by the Nazis. Fun fact: before it became associated with Nazism, it was regarded as just another salute, and was used by American schoolchildren reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Once Hitler got hold of it, the hand-over-the-heart was prudently adopted.
  • The Tomahawk Chop, originated at Florida State University, also used at Atlanta Braves games (and several other stadiums with teams named after Native American themes).
  • Flipping the Bird, i.e., The Finger.
  • Winston Churchill's V for Victory, which inspired many of these, including:
  • "The horns" have a number of vastly different meanings depending on the context.
    • The international symbol of Metal. Ronnie James Dio credited himself as the originator of the gesture in this context, taken from his grandmother's gypsy ward against evil.
    • "Hook'em horns" used by fans of the University of Texas, most notably the school's American football team. It is a stylized version of the school's mascot, the Longhorn.
      • Other colleges with cattle-themed mascots, such as the University of South Florida Bulls, use a similar hand gesture.
    • A similar gesture with the thumb and pinky is usually associated with Pacific islanders and/or surfers and is a general-purpose indicator of good times. (So, yes, it's really a Hawaiian good luck sign.)
  • Texas A&M has the "Gig'em" sign, basically a Thumbs-Up gesture meant to represent sticking (gigging) something (a horned frog, the mascot of TCU, an old rival) with a sharp stick.
    • The cuckold's horns. Holding your hand in this fashion behind someone's head, especially for a picture, is a prank implying that someone is sleeping with the person's wife. Occasionally a V-sign is used instead, especially in America, where it's called "Bunny Ears" and carries no cuckold implications.
      • The "hook'em horns" gesture is known as the cornuto in Italy, and carries the same major implications as the cuckold's horns, leading to trouble for Texas Longhorns fans who travel there.
  • The Thumbs-Up gesture, usually taken to show agreement or approval.
  • Bro Fist!
  • "Air quotes"
  • The Christian "Sign of the Cross", which goes: Forehead, stomach, left shoulder, right shoulder (Right-to-Left in the Eastern Orthodox churches). Aside from the obvious geometrical shape of the Cross, the points correspond to the prayer that goes with it: "In the name of the Father (head = knowledge/thought) and of the Son (womb = son) and of the Holy Spirit (arms = empowerment)." A number of popes have also held that the downward motion is indicative of Jesus' descent from Heaven to Earth, with a number of interpretations for the right-to-left/left-to-right motion.
  • The nerdfighter salute. It is accomplished by making a Vulcan salute (1st two fingers together and last two fingers together, forming a V, with the thumb extended to the side) with each hand and crossing the arms over the chest. Can also be a plain old Vulcan salute like in the page image.
  • The military salute, a flat palm held at the brim of one's hat. In Britain, the palm is turned up, except for the Navy, where it's turned down.
  • Similarly associated with the military is the "Knife Hand", where one points with the entire hand (almost as if one were about to karate chop someone).
  • The Merkel-Rhombus (Merkel-Raute), Angela Merkel's iconic way of putting her fingertips together. The Guardian refers to it as "probably one of the most recognisable hand gestures in the world".
    • Before Merkel, you were most likely to see this gesture made by Afro-American operatic soprano Leontyne Price as she sang.
  • Donald Trump's habit of making the "ok" hand gesture as he speaks has become this. It's common for his supporters to pose for pictures while making the same gesture.
  • Crossed fingers behind one's back indicates that they are lying to whoever they are addressing. By keeping the fingers behind their back, they ensure the other person can't see it.
  • The fingers and thumb together, pointing up gesture stereotypically associated with Italians, taken to mean "what the f***?"
  • Leonard Nimoy cribbed the famous Vulcan Salute from the Priestly Blessing, a part of the Jewish service.