Two characters open their arms. They lean in and... fake to the left, flinch backwards, bump arms, cringe, and back away. Sometimes, hugs are psychologically helpful, natural, heartwarming or at very least, cathartic. Other times, the chemistry's off, elbows keep bumping, or both participants instantly want to back out. Can be used to to highlight a complete lack of sexual tension, relationship problems, embarrassment, intimacy issues, any number of things, really. The important part is that the hug is incredibly awkward. This does not indicate that the characters are not emotionally close—frequently, examples of this trope occur between two people who just hate physical closeness. The characters may actually succeed in wrapping their arms around one another, but immediately break apart from acute embarrassment. Sister trope to Greeting Gesture Confusion, in which two characters misjudge the correct gesture to use when meeting one another. Can overlap with Man Hug, where men develop a special way of hugging to keep this from happening out of embarrassment. Also see Air Hugging. Maybe the natural result is No Hugging, No Kissing is violated.
- At the end of Mean Girls, Janis and Damien's hug is very awkward and not sincere.
- Several examples in the Harry Potter films:
- At the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Hermione runs up to Harry and gives him a big hug, and then turns to Ron, who holds out his arms a little bit. They end up shaking hands instead of hugging. This is a indicative of Hermione's feelings - hugging Harry is just hugging a friend, but Ron might be more and she's not yet ready to deal with this.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Voldemort attempts to hug Draco, who just sort of stands there. It's obvious that Draco just wishes he weren't there at the moment and that Voldemort has absolutely no experience with giving hugs.
- A one-sided example: In Lord of the Rings, Aragorn hugs Haldir.
- In the 1958 film version Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Maggie hugs her husband, Brick. Brick instinctively raises his arms to hug her back... then lets them down and tells Maggie to let go.
- She's Out of My League, Kirk's nasty ex gives him an awkward hug, (then pushes him away) after he reluctantly gives her his blessing to accompany his family on a trip with her new boyfriend.
- The King's Speech Immediately upon the death of King George V, his eldest son David (the future Edward VIII) breaks down sobbing over his mother, Queen Mary. Mary, a true beliver in Stiff Upper Lip, is uncomfortable with her son's lack of composure and does not return his hug.
- Psych: At a big party for Lassie, Lassiter and Juliet exchange an utterly awkward but completely sincere hug.
Lassiter: "Eh—um—oh, come here."
- 30 Rock: Liz and Jack should not attempt to hug without extreme circumstances.
Liz: [surprised] This is the best hug I've ever had!Jack: I know.
- Later subverted to highlight the importance of a moment. Liz is getting married and Jack gives a nice hug.
- On Firefly, Zoe and Mal have a "highlighting lack of sexual tension between close friends" hug variant.
- Happened hilariously on Merlin: Merlin saves Arthur's skin again and after Arthur reluctantly apologizes, Merlin goes in for a hug. Arthur steps back, hands out, and...
Arthur: What're you doing?Merlin: I thought you were going for a hug.Arthur: Noooo.
- Happens in the SyFy miniseries Alice between The Mad Hatter and Alice, as Alice is leaving Wonderland.
- On Doctor Who, in the episode "The Parting of the Ways", when the Doctor says goodbye to Lynda as she's heading off to help defend the space station.
- Monk: When Monk's brother Ambrose is first introduced, the somewhat estranged siblings try to hug. This doesn't go well, partially due to the fact that both of them suffer from Super OCD, and they end up Air Hugging.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation finale, the potential future Picard is flashing forward to establishes that he and Dr. Crusher married and divorced, and when they meet, they have a hard time deciding if they're going to hug or shake hands.
- The West Wing: Leo and Josh patch things up after an argument, and Leo spreads his arms in an expansive, all done, then gesture. Josh interprets this as an attempted hug.
Leo: Boy, did you read that wrong.
- Whenever Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory attempts physical contact of any sort, it is incredibly awkward. This goes double for hugging.
- The Wizards of Waverly Place are so dysfunctional they have trouble hugging. Harper even lampshades it.
- Between Parker and Jules in Flashpoint who have something of a father-daughter relationship. Parker wanted to congratulate Jules on a job well done and Jules wanted to thank Parker for coaching her through a negotiation. Parker extended his hand for a handshake while Jules attempted to pull him in for a hug. Then they switch places with Parker going in for a hug and Jules offering her hand. They end up having a bit of an awkward moment when they finally settled for a hug, with Jules quickly leaving afterwards and Parker remaining frozen in place.
- Game of Thrones: Left with no one else to commiserate with, Cersei bears her hidden anguish to her hated younger brother, Tyrion, who realizes that he should do something to comfort his sister in spite of their antipathy. As he reluctantly walks toward her, he can't find any words to say and can't even hold her gaze, much less hug her. He ends up standing awkwardly beside her as she weeps.
- The X-Files, "Colony": Agent Mulder is called by his father to visit his mother due to a family emergency. When he arrives, Mulder greets him and goes for a hug. Bill Mulder, however, just extends his arm. They shake hands, but Mulder is visibly disappointed.
- The Office (US) in the episode "Paper Airplane", Jim and Pam, whose marriage has become strained by Jim's new job have been tense or outright fighting throughout the episode. Before he leaves for work again, Jim embraces Pam. Pam, however, does not respond for a few moments, before remembering that she loves him and hugs him back.
- Cold Case in the episode "A Perfect Day", the seemingly perfect husband Roger visits his wife Cindy at the diner she works at and gives her a hug, which she clearly is not receptive to. (This turns out to be entirely understandable as we later learn Roger is a Domestic Abuser.)
- Kane and Daniel Bryan's first few hugs played this hilariously straight, when they were forced to "Hug It Out". They did eventually get it right, however.
- In Vlogbrothers, John shares an awkward hug with an actor he was interviewing.
John: That was the worst hug I've had in my life.Birbiglia: You didn't warn me!
- Gravity Falls: At the end of the first episode, Dipper and Mabel share an "awkward sibling hug".
- The Simpsons: In the episode "The Day the Earth Stood Cool", Homer asks Terence if they could have a "man-hug". When Terence says sure, Homer admits he's never actually attempted one before and stands with his arms held perfectly straight at an awkward angle.
- Awkward sidehugs.
- Hover hand. It's putting your arm around somebody's shoulders, but letting your hand hover awkwardly just above their shoulder. Usually indicates lack of confidence.
- Elementary students and younger often try to hug their teachers, but teachers are often told not to give their students basic human contact.