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Bear Hug

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The Hug of the Gods!

"This Pokémon has the habit of hugging its companions. Many Trainers have left this world after their spines were squashed by its hug."
Pokédex entry for Bewear, Pokémon Sun and Moon

The standardised, FDA-approved display of affection for The Big Guy (especially if they are a Gentle Giant and/or a Boisterous Bruiser), this consists of the hugger grabbing someone — or multiple people, if necessary — from behind (usually) with a big, sweeping motion and pulling them close (sometimes lifting them off the ground entirely), with the hugger's arm(s) wrapped tightly around the huggee's neck and/or shoulders. Being The Big Guy is not actually required, but having a large "stage presence" (whether it stems from size or sheer charisma) helps make this more convincing.

Note that this is as much a means of displaying the character's dominance/strength as it is of showing that they're just a big ol' teddy bear, and like its cousin The Glomp, is oftentimes far from consensual; the huggee often doesn't appreciate being manhandled by somebody twice their size, and you can tell a lot about a character based on whether they give in to the hugger's crushing embrace or struggle helplessly to escape. If the hug goes on for too long, expect cries of "can't... breathe..." or something similar. Despite all this, there is often little-to-no risk of actual physical injury unless the hugger Does Not Know His Own Strength on top of being overly affectionate, in which case the odds of Amusing Injuries being inflicted vastly increase.

This is Truth in Television, as any real life Gentle Giant (or a close friend of one) will tell you.

Similar to The Glomp, but with less full-body tackling and a far higher risk of asphyxiation. Unrelated to bears in general as a trope, though they can coexist in very specific circumstances. Like many tropes, can be deconstructed to horrifying effect. Compare Smack on the Back. If a bear hug is weaponized, that is a Killer Bear Hug.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Goku's father-in-law the Ox-King from Dragon Ball could give a pretty good bear hug when the situation called for it.
    • This was also weaponized by the movie villain Bojack.
  • Gentle Giant Kurita in Eyeshield 21 is prone to bear-hugging his teammates when he's happy. When Musashi returned to the team, Kurita went to Bear Hug Musashi who dodged and Kurita ended up crushing the truck Musashi was driving.
  • Gendo Ikari expressed his desire to bear hug Shinji from behind in Shinji Ikari Raising Project, among, er... other things.
  • In The Twelve Kingdoms, Youko's reuniting with Rakushun. When Youko arrives in En only to find that Rakushun had made it there on his own and had been coming to the docks every morning when the ships bearing immigrants from Kei arrived, hoping that Youko would be among their number. Youko then proceeds to give him a "d'awww" inducing bear hug in gratitude.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Boys former Soviet superhero Love Sausage bear-hugs Billy Butcher (in a friendly fashion) when they first meet.
  • This is a Signature Attack for The Kingpin, grabbing his victims and crushing them in a bear hug powered by 350 pounds of almost pure muscle.
  • Pictured in the page image is Volstaag the Voluminous embracing The Mighty Thor in this manner. Thor himself has been known to do this as well.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • In Adventures in Solitude, Makoto is a notorious dispenser of these. Although one of the most touching by far is when Kiyoshi tells him about his past life and expects Makoto to either run away from him or... Like... Sock him in the face. Instead, Makoto gives him a massive hug, begs him to stop crying, and tells him he's there for him no matter what.
  • Anything for Family: Love bear hugs Inori when she comes home from her mission. Inori asks her to put her down before she crushes her ribcage.
  • Happens in Jonathan Joestar, The First JoJo when Jonathan discovers that Joseph is actually his grandson.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Italy is prone to giving Germany and Japan these. After all three got together, Hungary gave all three one while squealing in joy.
  • In The Lion King Adventures, bear hugs are a running gag between Simba and Nala.
  • In See the Zone and Survive, Celestia receives one from Strider. Too bad that he was wearing a power-armor then. Fortunately, there were no broken ribs.
  • You Are (Not) At Fault: When Misato finds Asuka, she right away tackles the younger girl and lifts her into a spine-crushing hug.
  • Zapana in Zero Context: Taking Out the Trash is prone to giving bone-crushing group hugs when in the vicinity of two people she wants to enthuse over. It's suggested early on that the reason why she never received an invitation to Circe's wedding was because of this tendency.

    Films — Animation 
  • Genie at the end of the first Aladdin movie.
    Genie: Aww! Group hug, big group hug!
  • Po give one to Tigress at the end of Kungfu Panda 2, leaving her speechless. He tries to do the same to Master Shifu, but he Flash Steps away.
  • A literal version in Kung Fu Panda 3 with Big Fun, since he's a panda bear who likes to give out hugs. Po weaponizes this for the confrontation with Kai and his Jombie army, by training him to give crushing hugs.
  • Dragon Hunters: Exemplary Lian-Chu's hugging of all his smaller friends (with their feet instantly leaving the ground) before the end of the movie.
  • Encanto: After venting to Mirabel about her struggles to maintain her dependable reputation (via a musical number; gotta love Disney movies), Luisa gives her sister a big bear hug that lifts her off the ground. Viewers can even hear Mirabel's back cracking as she does this.
  • The Lion King (1994): Timon and Pumbaa are quite fond of this.
  • Chien-Po, The Big Guy from Mulan, does this.
  • The Prince of Egypt: Moses returns to Egypt and, astounded to see that his adoptive brother is alive and well, Ramesses (now Pharaoh) engulfs him in a bear hug. Ramesses releases him, of course, whereupon the two properly embrace one another.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks: Pinkie Pie gives one to Twilight Sparkle (and Spike, squeezed between them), lifting her from the ground while insisting she spends the night at her house.
  • The appropriately named Lotso-Hugging Bear in Toy Story 3.
  • Sing: Marcus gives a heartwarming one to Johnny when he tells Johnny how proud he is of him. Johnny was taken by surprise but he shows no resentment towards his father for rejecting him earlier and returns the hug, showing that he forgives him.
  • In Turning Red, Mei's panda form is big enough to do this to all three of her female friends at the same time and she does so the first time they see her in that form.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Iron Man: Iron Monger catches the smaller Iron Man armor in its huge arms and starts crushing it. Tony manages to get free by firing his anti-missile flares at point-blank.
  • Something similar to this happens in the 1996 film Michael, during Archangel Michael's dance with hippie waitress Anita. During the dance, Anita excitedly jumps towards Michael, who catches her in a hug and lifts her up before playfully spinning her around with Anita's giggling showing she is enjoying it, especially with her doing some Foot Popping. (In this case, Michael is supporting her with one hand on her waist and the other under her buttocks.)
  • Near the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Sallah gives Indy a big good-bye hug — which Indy would've appreciated more had he not recently gotten the crap beaten out of him by a whole platoon of Nazis.
  • Chewbacca from Star Wars is something of a bear, and he is as fond of hugs as he is of ripping out arms from their sockets.

  • In the Twilight novel Breaking Dawn Bella is turned into a vampire, then hugs Edward and, much to his surprise, he feels uncomfortable because of her strength.
  • In ColSec Rebellion, Cord does this to Samella after the final battle.
  • Dragon Bones: Ward, as part of his Obfuscating Stupidity, does this to everyone who is nice to him, and while he isn't shown to actually crack any ribs, he certainly intends to make people fear he Does Not Know His Own Strength. His cousins, when talking about doing something nice for him, decide that he mustn't ever know, as that would lead to a bear hug.
  • The Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Halflife has the Doctor do this:
    And with that, the Doctor bounded over and gave Fitz a huge, rib-cracking hug, lifting him clear off the ground.
They're both fairly slim and unremarkable to look at, although, in another book, the Doctor lifts Fitz up in a rather effortless Bridal Carry, so he's kind of got that Muscles Are Meaningless/Waif-Fu thing going on.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Being an enormous Gentle Giant, Mack from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. likes to dole these out, mostly to Fitz.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Girl Who Died," the Doctor is so relieved to see Clara returned unharmed he gives her one, combined with a spinning her around. Clara actually isn't receptive (due to it being unexpected and because she knows everyone is in imminent danger).
  • In Drake & Josh, Josh often hugs Drake like this, much to Drake's consternation.
  • On Lost, when Hurley sees Sawyer again after three years, he hugs him and pulls him off the ground. Fans have dubbed it (and other hugs given by Hurley) the "Hurley Hug."
  • Katie the Yellow Ranger from Power Rangers Time Force was fond of giving these.
  • The Almighty Janitor from Scrubs to Carla when she included him in the group photo. She was less than pleased, probably because she doesn't like being manhandled, but mostly because The Janitor is crazy.
    Carla: I thought you were going to kill me.
    Janitor: I fought the urge.
  • In Smallville, Clark does this to Chloe so many times we have lost count. Notably, he is always gentle enough to avoid the negative effects... and when he hurt her, it tipped her off that she is dealing with Bizarro.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two" (S02, Ep22), Dean is so relieved to see Sam alive, he squeezes him in an embrace resulting in pained "owww" from Sam.
  • In Wolf Hall, Henry VIII gives Thomas Cromwell one of these upon learning that Anne is pregnant again, much to Cromwell's surprise.

    Myth & Religion 
  • Used many a time in Greek mythology by the super strong Herakles. In one tale, Herakles used the move after being forced to wrestle Death himself for the life of a friend. The match ended when Herakles' snagged Death in a literal rib-breaking bear hug, forcing the submission and saving his friend. Death is left without a taken soul and groaning over his severely broken ribs.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In professional wrestling, bear hug either refers to a transitional hold used to control another wrestler's movement, or a squeeze meant to wear down another wrestler and possibly draw their submission(the latter is a basic way of establishing someone as an "old school" power wrestler akin to Bruno Sammartino or Super Star Billy Graham). That said, there are some examples that fall in line with this trope as the page describes it, such as André the Giant when he was happy. Probably the only time anyone felt sorry for Meng.
  • Leva Bates found herself in one from mentally descending Kimberly after relenting and accepting her offer to be a tag team partner.
  • Christina Von Eerie has at times resigned herself to bear hugs from her tag team partner MsChif, who lacks a sense of personal space and the social skills to try and cheer her up in a more subtle manner.
  • The tiny and easily excitable LuFisto has sometimes been known to spontaneously hug people when happy. Despite her size, LuFisto is really strong, regularly competing with men several times larger. It'd be an accident waiting to happen, except it has to Jennifer Blake.
  • When a reluctant La Rosa Negra gave in and accepted her offer to join Oedo~tai during the 5★STAR Grand Prix, Hudon Envy celebrated by giving her a hug, not realizing this was a bad thing to do to someone you had given any kind of powerbomb.
  • Solo Darling is usually the runt on any given roster but she's also really strong and full of childlike affection... Well, one of her finishing moves was dubbed the "Hug Factor," but even then she's hurt people when not trying.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Magellan from Eureeka's Castle regularly does this to his best friend, Batly. However, since Magellan is a dragon that Does Not Know His Own Strength, Batly doesn't seem to enjoy it all that much, although he does appreciate the sentiment behind it.


    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • Blue Team's original leader Captain Butch Flowers from Red vs. Blue:
    Captain Butch Flowers: Men, your delightful tomfoolery puts a spring in my step and a bounce in my britches. If I weren't your commanding officer I'd pick you both up, give you a giant bear hug, and make you call me Daddy.
  • RWBY: Yang enjoys giving these to her little sister, Ruby. Of course, half the time it ends up veering into Marshmallow Hell territory, due to her huge breasts. And that one time it ended in a catfight...
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device: Vulkan is prone to giving these to everyone, given his primarch strength only his Super-Soldier sons come even close to appreciating them. He gives Magnus flashbacks of when Leman Russ broke his spine, causing Magnus to telekinetically clobber Vulkan with the Engine of Woe by reflex.

  • In Commander Kitty, this is about the only way overgrown ferret Socks can seem to hug people. It gets even worse when his brain is put in a monster body.
  • Exterminatus Now has Rob, a bouncer in the hang-out for less than stable mercenaries. Who's very happy to see visitors. Especially other felines.
    Harold: Friendly, isn't he.
  • In this Freefall strip, Florence finds herself unable to get her breath during an enthusiastic hug from the mayor when she thought that Florence had killed Sam Starfall.
  • In Girl Genius Mama Gkika gives Agatha, newly crowned as the Heterodyne, a hug that painfully squashes her ribcage and lifts her off the ground when they first meet.

    Western Animation 
  • Ord in Dragon Tales commonly does this when Max, Emma, and Enrique comes to Dragonland.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures:
    • In "The J-Team," the Enforcers (Finn, Ratso, and Chow) are trying to make a getaway from their hideout when they see their old buddy Tohru in the way. Having not seen him since the previous season's finale, they don't realize he'd switched sides until the big guy grabbed all three in a Bear Hug and tossed them aside.
    • In the Grand Finale "The Powers That Be (Part 2)," after Drago and his forces have been defeated by the heroes, with some help from the now-reformed Enforcers, Hak Foo gives a "Big Bear Hug" to Finn, Ratso, Chow, and also Captain Black.
  • Beezy J. Heinous on Jimmy Two-Shoes, occasionally.
  • The titular character of Kaeloo, in her Bad Kaeloo form, gives this to Stumpy, Quack Quack, and Mr. Cat at the end of the episodes "Let's Play Spies". Their heads explode from the pressure.
  • In the The Legend of Korra episode "Welcome to Republic City", the title character uses an Effortless Amazonian Lift to pick up three kids and their father and give them a massive group hug. She's only seventeen. For bonus points, her actual polar bear dog gets in on it.
  • Molly of Denali: In "By Sled or Snowshoe" Molly excitedly hugs Tooey tightly with a big smile.
  • In the My Life as a Teenage Robot episode "Raggedy Android", Jenny nearly chokes her mother in one after receiving her prototype exoskin.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • "Luna Eclipsed": Princess Luna gives one to a shell-shocked Fluttershy after Fluttershy helps her learn to turn down the volume.
    • "Wonderbolts Academy": Pinkie squeezes the stuffing out of Rainbow Dash after learning that Dash was accepted as a Wonderbolt cadet.
  • Road Rovers:
    Exile: I give all my comrades big kiss!
    Blitz: Stop with the kissing, or I'll start with the biting.
    Exile: OK, I give you big bear hug instead!
    Blitz: [straining] Go back to the kissing! Go back to the kissing! Kiss me! Kiss meeee...
    Exile: Don't be a weird boy.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
  • Parodied in The Simpsons with a real bear hug. The bear itself was only lashing out because of an electronic tag and embraces Homer after he removes it. Unfortunately, it still has claws.
    Homer: (looking at the marks) I don't know why bear hugs enjoy such a great reputation...
  • Junko of Storm Hawks gives a couple of these to his teammates. They don't protest the hugs but are obviously struggling to breathe.
  • Starfire of Teen Titans likes to hug this way. Unfortunately for the other person, Starfire has super strength and may forget that when she's being affectionate.
    Terra: I still have bruises from the last time you hugged me.
  • Buck Tuddrussel of Time Squad provides these to both Otto and Larry on a couple of occasions.
  • Total Drama:
    • This is the only type of hug Owen is capable of, with thin and unenthusiastic Noah usually being the target.
  • Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race:
    • Dwayne pulls Junior into a relieved hug when they manage to reunite after getting separated in "My Way or Zimbabwe," and for once, Junior doesn't mind the attention and returns the hug from his squished position. However, when Dwayne gives him a second, tighter hug later on, Junior has to remind his dad not to squeeze him to death.
    • MacArthur occasionally lifts Sanders into the air this way to celebrate victories. Sanders usually enjoys the gesture, but she reacts badly when MacArthur attempts to do it while Sanders' arm is in a cast.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, Clay, who Wouldn't Hit a Girl, defeats Catnappe with this, on the basis that he's not actually hitting her.

    Real Life 
  • Kim Komenich, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and professor foiled a bank robbery by wrapping the perp in a bear hug until police arrived. The fact that Komenich has covered wars in places like Vietnam, is 6'2" and weighs about 230 pounds probably helped.
  • Ozzy Osbourne isn't particularly fond of them:
    I have a message for anyone coming to the Ozzfest this summer (2000): If you're planning to jump up onstage during my set, please do not give me any bear hugs, because they fucking hurt. Listen to me, I'm dead serious. On the first night of last year's tour, this enormous guy jumped up onstage and gave me a huge bear hug. He crushed three of my ribs and I had to do the whole tour in absolute agony. I couldn't believe it, the first fucking show!
  • This maneuver can be used aggressively, though, as a sufficiently tight bear-hug can squeeze the air out of someone's lungs. There's a rather easy counter for this, though — push your thumbs into the hugger's sides, just above the hip-bone, and push away.


Video Example(s):


The Warden

The Second Coming is at the mercy of a terrifying monster called the warden and is trapped at a dead end with nothing but a book, a candle, and a stick. Having no choice but to use whatever he could use at his disposal, The Second Coming finds that the warden is not really a monster.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / MusicSoothesTheSavageBeast

Media sources: