Suppose you either are facing truly insurmountable odds, or are just the kind of quitter who panics at the first sign of trouble. You might want to surrender. A good way to do so non-verbally is to hoist and wave a white flag.
Don't use it just to lure your enemies closer
for a clear shot, though - that is a war crime
. White flags can also be used for negotiating things other than surrender (e.g., a prisoner exchange) - the basic meaning behind the white flag is "Don't shoot, we wish to talk about something."
Sometimes a character will raise a white flag, only for it to be shot off or filled with bullet holes. In this instance, Violence Is the Only Option
Anime and Manga
- In the Johto saga of the ''Pokémon Anime, after the elders defeated several bandits trying to steal digletts and dugtrios, the bandits waved a white flag of surrender. Then again, they weren't actually trying to steal the digletts/dugtrios so much as they are trying to test their elders as to whether they can continue to defend their area.
- Italy in Axis Powers Hetalia makes frequent use of these.
- What is the war flag of [nation you don't like]? A white eagle/star/crown/etc on white fabric.
- In Bored of the Rings, just before The Cavalry arrive and all seems lost:
"Despair not," Goodgulf commanded through his little window. "Bring me my white robes, and quickly!"
"Ah!" cried Pepsi, "white robes for white magic!"
"No," said Goodgulf as he stapled the garments to a pool cue, "white robes for white flag."
- In one of the Otto Stahl novels by Leo Kessler, the German spy succeeds in capturing a Soviet bunker, only to see German troops advancing with a flamethrower. They need to surrender or be roasted alive, but no-one has a white flag. So Otto gets one of the Russian soldiers to take his pants off and wave his long underwear.
- Doctor Who, "Doomsday" - The Doctor improvises one so he and the Cybermen can discuss a temporary alliance against the Daleks.
Doctor: Sorry, no white flag. Only had a sheet of A4; same difference.
Cyberman: Do you surrender?
Doctor: I surrender, unto you...a very good idea.
- Star Trek: Voyager. Captain Janeway combines this with From Dress to Dressing in "The Q and the Grey", tearing off strips from her American Civil War petticoat.
- Garth Brooks' "White Flag" from In The Life Of Chris Gaines.
- In Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition, the description of orcs states "They do not obey the "rules" of war - for example, they will shoot at a person carrying a white flag."
- In Radar Mission, after beating the third level, a cutscene shows the enemy base being obliterated, as well as the enemy hoisting a white flag and waving it.
- A level in The Simpsons Game's Game Within A Game Medal Of Homer, Homer and Bart have to remove several white flags from the French village after Uter threw a rock at the village during World War II (which Homer erroneously attributes to the American Civil War).
- The Tricastle Mini-Boss (essentially a mini castle) from Mega Man 10 hoists one once you take out its three weakpoints. Then it explodes.
- The Arab commander of Metal Slug 2 and X does this when you beat the first boss.
- Near the end of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode "To Bee Or Not To Bee", when Pooh and his friends were telling Christopher Robin about what happened, involving a swarm of bees, Rabbit mentions that they were forced to surrender, as did the bees, with both sides waving one of these.
- Spongebob and Squidward both wave these in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Employee Of The Month", after trying to compete against each other for the position of Employee of the Month.
- Subverted in an episode of Mr. Bogus, where the ant that had stolen Bogus's special piece of cake only waved one of these as a distraction and given him a false piece of cake that was actually a rock painted to look like a cake.
- The mid-60s Tom and Jerry cartoon "Matinee Mouse" starts off with footage from the original shorts of the two going at each other and then new animation of them presenting white flags, calling a halt to their fighting (albeit temporarily).