- Martial artists, especially the Old Master, who will hold this pose constantly while his hands are not occupied, unless he's a monk, in which case one hand will hold a prayer position in front of his chest.
- Old people of the Asian persuasion in general, who take the same pose but lean forward as if for balance.
- The Contemplative Boss. See the picture on that page for an example.
- Military personnel, while on duty but not actively engaged in some activity (for instance, in formation but not being inspected, waiting for inspection formation, or waiting to be told to form up for inspection). The stance shown in the picture is known as "Parade Rest" in the US military (and possibly elsewhere). (The name is fitting as a Marching Band, includeing non-military, will take this pose as best they are able with their instruments, when standing in formation as well)
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Dragon Ball franchise:
- Mercenary Tao and less often Master Roshi.
- Frieza also has this as one of his trademark poses, normally when he's in his first form.
- Beerus also does this, such as while talking with Goku in space after their fight.
- You sometimes see Gendo doing the Western version in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- Zeno Zoldyck from Hunter × Hunter.
- A signature pose of◊ Adrian Veidt, who qualifies for both the Contemplative Boss and martial artist reasons.
- A signature tic of Darkseid, Superman's awesome foe, is to go arms behind the back while doing some Exposition about how whatever the heroes can throw at him will mean nothing, or stuff like that. The counter to Superman's "World of Cardboard" Speech in Justice League Unlimited is a good example, as is his beating of both Superman and Supergirl in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse''.
- Lex Luthor, one of Superman's other Arch Enemies, is also fond of this pose.
- Darth Vader from Star Wars is sometimes seen doing this, as are many Imperial officers.
- From Kill Bill, Pai Mei, as per tradition, holds this pose almost constantly when his hands are not in use.
- Morpheus does it all the time The Matrix when he is not kicking ass. His variation particularly stands out because he's frequently gripping his arms at the elbow. Note that this isn't particularly comfortable or relaxing, especially if you're a reasonably well-muscled guy in a bulky Badass Longcoat, so either it's simply Rule of Cool, or it's emphasising his flexibility and badassery that he's able to relax in this pose.
- This particular variant of the pose is typically identified with the Old Master, so doing so suggests his mentorship to the rest of the crew as well as the general badassery required to make the pose work.
- In The Lord of the Rings adaptations, Gandalf does this on the rare occasion that he's not clutching his staff or a pipe.
- Vetinari, as a Contemplative Boss, is stated to do this whenever he stands in front of his big picture window.
- In The Way of Kings, the enslaved Kaladin makes a point of assuming parade rest between bouts of having to carry a bridge in order to show his discipline. Eventually the rest of the bridge crew join him.
- In The Wheel of Time, Rand takes to doing this after losing a hand. The Asha'man do it occasionally as well.
- In Island in the Sea of Time and its sequels, Marian Alston frequently adopts this pose, because she's a Coast Guard officer.
- In the first Burke novel, Burke drops in unannounced at the home of snuff-film producer Goldor. When the door opens, Goldor is standing in this position and Burke notes that it's an old bodybuilders trick — squeezing your hands behind your back to pump blood into the upper body, thus making yourself look bigger. Burke finds out too late that the real reason Goldor is standing like this is because he's holding a taser pistol behind his back.
Live Action TV
- Game of Thrones: Ser Loras Tyrell adopts this pose in Season 3 whenever he wishes to appear relaxed; examples include his greeting of Queen Cersei and King Joffrey in "Valar Dohaeris," while he walks away from Sansa Stark in "Dark Wings, Dark Words," and Tyrion Lannister and Sansa's wedding ceremony.
- In early seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Jadzia Dax walked about with her arms behind her back, to demonstrate the "old man" that was inside her. A later episode, in which Dax's colleagues temporarily embody the symbiont's previous hosts, reveals that she got it from an earlier host, a politician who started doing it because she gestured too much while speaking.
- Spock In Star Trek TOS uses this pose many times in the second season onward.
- Captain Pellew folds his arms behind his back many times during the first instalment when he commands HMS Indefatigable.
- Horatio Hornblower holds his arms with joined hands behind his back quite often. He does it especially when he's in command. The first time when he does it makes it look like he's imitating Captain Pellew's quarterdeck stance.
- If Avon of Blake's 7 is not Leaning on the Furniture, he's doing this.
- Master Chen in Shenmue walks around hunched over like this, but wow, that old guy can dodge a punch.
- Lan Di, too, by way of Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy.
- Old Master Wang Jinrei of Tekken gained one of these during his intros circa Tekken 5.
- Citan Uzuki is frequently shown doing this.
- Master Xehanort does this a lot, but as with the Master Chen example, he's not as frail as he looks.
- Xaldin does this too, as his non-combat pose. Fittingly, he's one of the harder members of the Organization.
- President Max adopts this pose when discussing Matters of State.
- Dawn of War: Imperial Guardsmen do this when capturing a point.
- In Mass Effect, Thane Krios uses that stance a lot, underlining his calm and composed personality. Shephard imitates him in an interrogation scene, adding to the formality of the set-up.
- Shepard often adopts this pose when speaking with superior officers or the Council during the first game, or while receiving a briefing from Hackett during an N7 mission in the third.
- General Zod in Injustice: Gods Among Us does this by default.
- Characters with the "thoughtful" stance in Star Trek Online will stand like this.
- Serperior in Pokémon Black and White crosses two leaves behind its back in mimicry of this pose, combined with an upturned nose to establish a general air of superiority.
- Aegislash in Pokémon X and Y mimics this pose with its tassels when in Shield Forme.
- In The Order of the Stick, General Tarquin does this quite often, and Xykon does it on occasion as well.
- Many villains demonstrate this trope in the DCAU. Among them are Lex Luthor, Ra's Al Ghul (though it might just be his cape), Vandal Savage, and Gorilla Grodd.
- Legion of Super Heroes it seems to be Dr. Londo's favourite stance.
- Velma from Scooby-Doo does this quite a lot, especially in the oldest series.
- In Teen Titans, Slade does this.
- Dyson from TRON: Uprising is extremely fond of this stance.
- In the US Military, personnel are forbidden to have their hands in their pockets, as it appears unprofessional. This leaves 3 main stances - hands across the chest, hands across the back, and hands straight down. Hands across the chest is a defensive position and usually avoided (unless it is cold). Hands straight down is strongly associated with the position of Attention, and a lot of yelling, and is discouraged unless a lot of yelling is needed. Hands behind the back tends to be used in a more casual environment, such as when the Old Man is lecturing his troops (no, not like that... well, o.k., maybe sometimes). Often the 'at ease' stance is used to signal to the troops that what follows will be a "business as usual" speech (or maybe even a Father to His Men moment).
- Some martial arts schools incorporate this as a stance before being called to attention. Since being called to attention commonly involves clapping one's arms to their sides, it avoids having to awkwardly flap when already in the desired pose.