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Thinking Tic

“All you have to do is tilt your head to the left, close your eyes, and let your mind soar like an eeeeeagle.”
J.D., hanging a lampshade on his day dreaming pose.

A specific type of Character Tic. When Bob is sitting deep in thought, trying to solve a difficult problem, the writers will often provide a tic as a visual shorthand. This move is unconscious, and its main purpose is to underline just how perplexed and frustrated Bob is. Expect to see it happen very often during homework, tests or really tough relationship issues.

Stock variants include:

  • Twirling his fingers and pen, sometimes biting it in annoyance.
  • Drumming his fingers while staring absent-mindedly.
  • Stroking his chin or scratching his beard in wonder.
  • Playing with his hair locks.
  • Tapping on his lips or chin impatiently with his fingertips.
  • Biting his lip, sometimes accompanied by a "tsk" sound.
  • Clicking his tongue impatiently.
  • Sitting in the Thinker Pose.

Often accompanying it, especially if he isn't alone, will be someone else getting progressively more annoyed by it and finally yelling at him to "Stop that!"

Can be Truth in Television.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Death Note: L bites his nails, particularly the nails on his thumb.
  • Hyouka's Hotaro Oreki has a habit of playing with his forelock when he's thinking particularly hard about a case.
  • Shikamaru in Naruto sits with his hands splayed and opposing fingertips touching. In a way, it's his way of announcing that he's getting serious.

    Film 
  • Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet: Nick Carter (America's greatest detective who investigates a mysterious case in Prague) often folds his arms and put fingers on his lips or face. He sometimes points out that he's deep in thoughts or "investigating intensively" when he's disgruntled that police commissioner Ledvina is not as invested in the case as he is.
  • Akeelah and the Bee: When spelling words Akeelah often pats her hand on her leg in a constant beat. Upon spotting this, her teacher recognizes this as a rhythm technique and starts having her learn words according to a rhythm so that she'll remember them better.
  • In The Big Sleep, Philip Marlowe tugs on his earlobe when he's concentrating.
  • In Goldeneye, Boris has a tendency to fidget with his pen and click it when mulling something over. This turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun later when he has one of 007's pens which is actually a mini-bomb in hand while thinking.
  • In The Hobbit Gollum frowns when pondering over a riddle, then his face lights up with an idea, but, disliking the idea, he frowns again. You can just see his split personalities battling it out in his facial expressions as he ponders.
  • In Survivor Style 5+, the commercial director blinks her eyes rapidly when she's coming up with a new idea.
  • The Three Stooges:
    • Shemp would often start going into spasms when he tried to think, and might request Moe to bonk him in the head to help get the thought to come out.
    • Curly, on the few occasions where he tried to think, would start banging his head against the wall. Then, seeming to have an epiphany, he'd exclaim "I got it!" When asked what he got, he'd reply "A terrific headache." Other times, he would stare off in space for a few moments, before turning to Moe and saying "I try to think but nothing happens."

    Live-Action TV 
  • A Doctor Who related sketch has a bit where the BBC head of programming and the producer who is pitching Doctor Who to him are thinking and both drum their fingers to the "da-da-da-da" tune of the Doctor Who theme.
  • Commander Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation will sometimes cock his head sharply to one side when he's doing some deep calculation.
  • Rodney from Stargate Atlantis starts snapping his fingers rapidly whenever he's having an epiphany.

    Literature 
  • Doc Savage: The eponymous character is known for making an eerie trilling sound when in deep thought.
  • Erast Fandorin: From "Special Assignments" onwards, the eponymous detective acquires a habit of grabbing his jade rosary beads and telling them in silence while contemplating.
  • In H.G. Wells The First Men in the Moon, Cavor's Thinking Tic of making odd noises while he's thinking is the whole reason he and Bedford even meet. Cavor has the habit of walking past the cottage Bedford lives in, while contemplating his experiments. He unconsciously sings as he walks, and the singing disturbs Bedford's attempts to write, to the point that he asks Cavor to either stop or to walk somewhere else.
  • Sir Denis Nayland Smith of the Fu Manchu books tugs on an earlobe when thinking—even if he's in disguise at the time.

    Video Games 
  • Haruka from The Idolmaster tends to look up and to the right or left whenever she's in thought. Fans ran away wtih this and created the "Nonowa" meme as a result.
  • In the Mass Effect series, Liara T'soni comes to adopt a standing-up variant of the Thinker Pose. It's most noticeable in Mass Effect 3.

    Visual Novels 

    Webcomics 
  • Radic from Murphys Law has a habit of holding her chin when in thought.
  • Most characters in Questionable Content will raise an index to their faces when thinking aloud.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh:
    • Whenever facing a problem, Pooh, being not to so bright, tends to lightly tap his head and repeat "Think, think, think" while rocking back and forth.
    • While he's thinking, Tigger makes a bizarre facial expression with his mouth. Kind of like he has chewed an idea in his mouth and he's deciding if it tastes good or not.
  • When asked what he thought of something, Mr. Horse from The Ren & Stimpy Show would rub his chin with his hoof and pucker his lips saying "Hmm...", before inevitably replying "No sir, I don't like it."
  • Tom Terrific would go through bizarre movements whenever he would think of an idea. Smoke would blow out of his thinking cap (a huge funnel) when he did come up with an idea.

Thinker PoseBody LanguageThrow the Sheath Away

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