Chairs are made to sit on. When most people sit on one, they usually lean their backs against the backrest and their legs forward. However, there is a more unusual way of sitting on one.
Instead of sitting normally in the chair, the sitter will turn the chair around and place legs on either side of the chair, typically using the back of the chair as an armrest.
There are many different reasons why a person would choose to sit this way. Not unlike wearing a baseball cap backwards or sideways, it could convey that the character is edgy but still approachable, slightly rebellious but not destructively so, to appear carefree or too bored to care, or too calm and collected to make a big deal about things, giving off a "cool" vibe, though it may backfire and give the appearance of looking Totally Radical instead. Alternatively, those who sit this way can try to use the back of the seat as a type of shield, so they can appear cool while clinging to the back as a form of protection to cover their insecurities.
If they simply want to talk to the person behind them without bothering to turn their seat around, it is not this trope. Typically seen in places where people congregate, such as think tank meetings or support groups.
A Sub-Trope of Characterizing Sitting Pose. A Sister Trope to Rebel Relaxation and Leaning on the Furniture. Compare Slouch of Villainy. See also Human Furniture Is a Pain in the Tail for another reason a character might want to sit in a chair backwards.
Also keep in mind that there is a narrative point to sitting like this, unlike merely sitting on a chair.
- Gunslinger Girl. In the first season opening title, Triela is shown sitting like this in a chair. Her pose is relaxed and calm, which is deceptive considering that in the previous scene she was running and shooting a pistol. She also fits the Rule-Abiding Rebel trope, as she is one of the more independent yet efficient members of the Agency.
- Hunter × Hunter: Killua is shown sitting like this in the 1999 anime, showcasing his rebellious personality.
- Kill la Kill: Ryuko, being an edgy person she is, is shown sitting like that when Aikuro explains the history of Life Fibers.
- Russell Hammond sits backwards when he finally sits down to give Wiliam an interview in Almost Famous.
- Avatar: The leader of the marines sits this way when he's speaking to Jake in the cafeteria.
- In Basic Instinct 2, Catherine Tramell does this while talking with her psychiatrist.
- The Cheyenne Social Club: Used to establish Corey Bannister as an antagonist. Bannister, the only person in Cheyenne who doesn't treat John like a hero, turns a chair when sitting down at John's table. He tells John in an overtly menacing manner that he doesn't like John, because the Cheyenne Social Club (the town brothel which John has just inherited) once denied him service due to his poor hygiene.
- Yang Lin from The Condemned (1976) is shown sitting backwards in a chair during an interrogation scene.
- Hitler's Madman: The flamboyantly evil Reinhard Heydrich chooses to sit like this while he has the young girls of Lidice lined up against a wall to evaluate which can be put to use as sex slaves.
- Mississippi Burning shows why this can be a bad idea; a Ku Klux Klan thug draws a chair (one where the back is a narrow horizontal bit on a frame rather than a single solid piece,) right up to The Hero FBI Agent and sits on it in this position to try and intimidate him, but as soon as he crosses a line, the agent reaches through the gap in the back of the chair and grabs the guys balls. And keeps hold of them for a while.
- In Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, William Brandt sits backwards when they discuss what to do after the failed motorcycle chase.
- Pal Joey: Gladys sits down in reverse position when she brusquely interrupts Joey's conversation to demand to know why he abandoned her sister in Fresno.
- In Spider-Man: Homecoming, one of Captain America's PSA announcements shows him sitting backwards in a rather awkward attempt to look "relatable" to the high school audience.
- Seven Beauties: Rarely has it been more terrifying when a morbidly obese Nazi concentration camp commandant in her underwear straddles a chair and watches Pasqualino shovel in food from a bowl on the floor. The commandant is giving a starving Pasqualino food so he'll have the energy to have sex with her—and if he doesn't, he dies.
- Saved by the Bell: This is AC Slater's default way of sitting. As the series predates most ironic uses of this trope, Slater manages to come across as cool and slightly (but harmlessly) rebellious.
- A Different World: This was Dwayne Wayne's only mode of sitting for the first several seasons, as he went from dorky, lovestruck ensemble member to legitimate romantic and comedic lead in the later seasons.
- Roger regularly sits backwards on What's Happening!! whenever the gang goes to Rob's Place.
- In an episode of Happy Days, Leather Tuscadero sits backwards while the Cunninghams and others discuss giving her a My Fair Lady-style makeover, making Mr. C doubt that it can be done.
- In an episode of Black Books, Manny attempts this way of sitting a few times after a prolonged stint with his birthday presents of an espresso machine and a box set of Columbo. Each time, he ends up crushing his testicles, with the last one provoking a high pitched reply of "That was a particularly bad one".
- Dennis Finch in Just Shoot Me! sits backeards in one episode while talking to Maya, but because the chair has armrests, he simply falls backwards awkwardly.
- Michael Scott of The Office (US) (US) turns around his chair while trying to reach out to his employees in his own attempt at a diversity seminar.
- On Battlestar Galactica (2003), the virtual Number 6 sits backwards to Dr. Baltar, the chair being the only thing she's wearing.
- On Taxi, Tony always sits backwards.
- Crowley in Supernatural (once during an interrogation, once while blackmailing the Winchesters).
- Parodied in the "Smashed" episode of Arrested Development, Tobias sits like this when starting the therapy session at the Austerity clinic but the clinic uses wide armchairs, making him do the splits.
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Dax sits backwards on a chair while she serves as a sounding board for Sisko about problems he's been having with his son.
- Miami Vice: Tubbs sometimes sits backwards on a chair while interrogating people.
- iCarly: Gibby attempts to sit on a chair backwards when he's alone with Carly.
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine:
- "The Audit": Detective Jake Peralta sits on a chair backwards close to Teddy, the auditor of their precinct, when he and Amy are on a stakeout. It's done in an attempt to appear friendly and approachable.
- "Serve & Protect":
Mark Devereaux: That's my move!
- Mark Devereaux (played by Nathan Fillion) is an actor who plays Detective Cole Tracker on a show Serve & Protect. He's a crazy-ish actor who acts like his character all the time. He sits backwards on a chair when he "interrogates" a production assistant on the set in front of real detectives, Jake Peralta and Rosa Diaz.
- Jake turns around his chair when he interrogates Mark Devereaux in the precinct. It's Mark's character's shtick and Jake wants to throw him off balance a bit. And he loves reenacting scenes from movies and TV shows. Rosa joins Jake in the fun and also sits backwards, while Mark only mumbles "a double Tracker".
Jake: Oh, I'm aware.
- Burnistoun has an entire sketch based around this trope. A policeman is able to instantly convince multiple suspects to confess merely by sitting backwards in his chair. There's a long gag where a husband struggles to sit backwards in a cushy armchair, and when he finally succeeds he instantly repairs his marriage with this display of trustworthiness. The lesson seems to be that sitting this way is a panacea for communication.
- Hilariously Played for Laughs in Barry. When Barry has his acting epiphany, Fusches tries to have a serious sit-down and attempts this. Except the chair has armrests. He fidgets and struggles for a couple of seconds before turning the chair properly.
- In Cry Wolf in Thunderbirds, Alan sits backwards on a chair, while being praised for International Rescue's success in saving the boys.
- Murderville: While interrogating a suspect in "The Magician's Apprentice", Conan attempts to look intimidating by turning a chair around and sitting on it backwards. Terry comments that he almost looked cool.
- In Benedict Cumberbatch's first hosting of Saturday Night Live, he advertises a backwards-facing toilet in the vein of Apple's ''1984'' commercial, describing it as cool and confident.
- After saving Edward in The Prince and the Pauper, Miles Hendon sits on a chair this way in front of the new king. The court call for his head on a silver platter, but Edward has been saved by Miles enough times to let him get away with it.
- In A Civil Campaign, the recently sex changed 'Lord Dono' is advised to adopt this as one of 'his' new masculine mannerisms. He probably copied it off Aral Vorkosigan, who seems to do it a great deal.
- When Nick is being questioned by police in Gone Girl, he inwardly expresses his surprise that police actually sit like that.
- David Gemmell lets his hero Druss the Legend sits like this... because he's old and cautious. This way he can get something between him and whoever he's talking to, get up without turning his back, and have easy access to his weapons.
- Peter David's novel Imzadi (Star Trek: The Next Generation):
- Riker sits backwards a few times.
- When Wesley Crusher reverses his chair at one point, Riker asks if he learned it from him.
- In Dora Wilk Series, angel Azjel sits backwards when meeting with demon As.
- All the World's a Stage: When private detective Erast Fandorin believes he has made the breakthrough deduction and gets excited, he sits down in a chair backwards. Subbotin, the police detective sent to help him, follows his example.
The investigators were like two mounted knights at a crossroads.
- During the Profumo scandal of 1962, Christine Keeler became immortalized in a photograph by Lewis Morley◊, sitting naked in a chair, but seated backwards so that the backrest covered the naughty bits whilst making it very clear she was naked.
- Some thirty years before Keeler, Warner Brothers star Joan Blondell posed for an essentially identical photo◊ that was incredibly risqué for the era.
- Look Homeward, Angel: During an emotional conversation with Laura in which his feelings are coming to the surface, Eugene sits down, but he doesn't simply sit down in the chair, he "straddles it, facing her."
- In BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Hazama sits like this when captured by Relius's Astral Heat — in contrast to most of the other characters being physically restrained in some manner.
Relius: What say you, Hazama? Surely you've had your fun.
- In the first Mercenaries game, the player character (whichever one you choose) sits like this during the briefing in the opening, showing that you aren't technically under the authority of the person giving it.
- Assassin's Creed:
- In Assassin's Creed III, Connor always turns his chair around before sitting. Of course, this might just be because of the 50 pounds of assassin equipment strapped to his back.
- They use the same animation in Assassins Creed IV with Edward who has probably always dreamed of a world where he could sit the way he pleased without the King of England placing regulations on chair-sitting.
- Jacob, one of the two protagonists of Assassin's Creed: Syndicate frequently takes on this pose in the game's advertising. It does fit with his mix of casual and serious behavior.
- Rantaro Amami from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (whose Ultimate talent is unknown) showcases this position in his official art, as seen in the page image.
- Homestuck parodies this stock pose. Karkat sits backwards straddling a chair while discussing Terezi's recent self-esteem and relationship problems, until Terezi and Dave make fun of him for it and he quits in a huff.
- Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff. During the Very Special Episode in which The Big Man "wants that us all to keep it real about....... AIDS,"◊ he sits in a chair backwards as he addresses the audience. The chair is even labeled "backways chair".
- Brian in 5 Second Films skit "Jon Has a Problem tries sitting backward... on an armchair. It goes exactly as one would expect.
- Ray of Achievement Hunter sits backwards during the planning session of their "Prison Break" heist. Being Ray, he lampshades this as him getting serious.
- Attempted in My Brother, My Brother and Me: While the brothers talk about how to relate to teens, Justin proposes sitting backwards on chairs in order to look cool. Since his chair is a wide office chair, he fails miserably and has to ask the crew to help pull him out of it.
- Mr. Corneille does this in The Amazing World of Gumball as a very transparent attempt to come off as a Cool Teacher, with the added bonus of switching into several other "relaxed" poses in his first scene too.
- Family Guy:
- In an episode about sex ed, a visiting speaker who argues for chastity sits backwards as he tries to connect with his audience.
Student: He's sitting informally like us! Let's hear what he has to say.
- Also used in an earlier episode when Peter ran for school board president, and filmed a campaign ad of himself sitting at various desks in this way, even where there shouldn't logically be a desk, like a football field.
- In an episode about sex ed, a visiting speaker who argues for chastity sits backwards as he tries to connect with his audience.
- When Mabel of Gravity Falls is left in charge of the Mystery Shack for three days in the episode "Boss Mabel", she reads an old business handbook from the 1980s. This inspires her to wear shoulder pads and to sit like this to appear approachable to her "employees".
- An early episode of Hey Arnold! had Arnold's grandpa sit on a hardwood chair backwards while trying to convince his grandson not to worry too hard about his pet pig Abner running away. However, his statements that Abner won't come back aren't very reassuring.
- Kaeloo: In "Let's Play Gangster Poker", Mr. Cat sees his friends playing poker completely wrong and decides to teach them, so he drags a chair to the table and sits on it backwards.
- The Simpsons:
- In one episode, Ned realizes how pathetic his life looks to other people, and in his first attempt to prove he can be edgy, he tries sitting backwards.
- In "Love is a Many Strangled Thing", Homer is sent into a group parenting therapy. He casually admits that he strangles Bart. The shrink is shocked and arranges that next time he sees Homer without other clients. He points out that he's going to sit backwards in his chair to emphasise to Homer just how horrible his strangling of his son is.
- Patience, the Ice Elemental in Adventure Time, makes a huge show out of sitting this way to talk to some princesses. She makes a chair out of ice, turns it around, and exaggeratedly squats over it.