When you need to get rid of a small flame, sometimes blowing it out isn't gonna cut it. Perhaps it's out of reach, or blowing it might cause a mess. So your next best idea is to get rid of it with your hand. Characters may do this through using a wet hand or simply doing it with them bare.
This trope can be Played for Laughs or used to show how strong a character is. After all, touching fire is the ultimate strength test. What makes this funny? Well, sometimes a character thinks they can extinguish a flame with their hand to show how cool they are... and then they fail hilariously.
Another way this trope is played for laughs appears in cartoons with a horror or suspense veneer: the hero may be in an old castle or haunted house, and they hold up a candle or torch as the monster stares them down...only for the monster to grin heartily and put out the torch with a mere pinch.
Obviously, this is way more common in an animated format, as doing it for live action would require the actors to do it themselves, which, as mentioned below, is a risky endeavor. While it's unlikely that trying this would result in extreme burns or death, the heat can easily blister your fingers, which can cause filming delays and put productions behind schedule. So it's generally best left to the toons.
In Real Life, pulling this off without burning yourself requires you to lick or dampen your fingers to protect them from the flame, and to avoid holding the wick too long. Some people can even do it with dry fingers, although it takes a lot of practice before they can get the timing right.
- In Chicken Run, a random chicken extinguishes a candle this way while the chickens are trying to hide evidence that they're organized. Unlike most examples, she yelps in pain when she does this.
- Kung Fu Panda: After Po's disastrous training trial on his first day as Dragon Warrior, Shifu puts out a flame from Po's singed hair with his fingers.
- In the first Shrek film, the titular character extinguishes a torch this way. Being an ogre, he's big enough to pull this off.
- In Tangled, Mother Gothel extinguishes a whole row of candles this way during her song "Mother Knows Best", all without missing a beat.
- In the climax of Frozen (2013), Hans extinguishes a candle by taking off his gloves and stubbing the flames with his fingers.
- In Corpse Bride, Paster Galswells puts out his candle in front of Victoria this way, to transition into him taking her home and claim she has gone mental.
- In Lawrence of Arabia, T.E. Lawrence has a tendency to put out his matches' flame by pinching it between two of his fingers. At one point he's asked by one of his friends if it hurts and Lawrence makes clear that it does, but the important part is to not mind about it.
- Aragorn puts out a flame with his bare hand during his first meeting with the Hobbits in Bree in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which (among other things) helps establish his credentials as someone to be reckoned with.
- In Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Mr. Mime is being such a pain to interrogate that Tim covers him in imaginary gasoline. He then lights an imaginary match that Mr. Mime extinguishes repeatedly with its fingers.
- In the Chanur Novels the primate-like mahendo'sat have cigarrette-like "smoke stick". Spacer mahen have the habit of putting them out with their fingers. While this does impress non-spacers, the real reason for doing it is that if a smoke stick has cooled off enough to put out with bare fingers, it's also cooled off enough to not ignite flammable gasses and liquids that might leak in spaceship cargo holds or Space Station docksides.
- In Parks and Recreation, Leslie is on a terrible blind date. The date tries to impress her by using this trope, but holds onto the smoldering wick until he burns his fingers (which he then puts in Leslie's water).
- Petr Rychly did a comedy routine where he portrays members of a family who are all idiots with crooked faces and can't blow out a candle to save their life. The sketch ends with the host coming to talk to the patriarch of the family and extinguishing the candle with his fingers moistened with saliva.
- In the final scene of Portal, after the promised cake is shown, a mechanical claw descends and puts out the candle by pressing the wick on both sides.
- In Family Guy, Diane Simmons revealed she was in a relationship with James Woods that was hidden from the public. After she turned 40 and was going to be replaced on Channel 5 News with a younger host, James dumped her signified by her putting a candlelit fire out with her finger symbolizing their love burning out.
- Looney Tunes:
- In "Bunker Hill Bunny", Yosemite Sam tries to blow up Bugs Bunny's fort with a powder keg with a long fuse. While Sam runs for cover, Bugs sits nonchalantly on the keg, dowsing the fuse with his fingers at the very last moment.
- In the Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog cartoon "A Sheep in the Deep", Ralph is about to be blown up with dynamite when the five o'clock whistle blows and Sam extinguishes the fuse so they can pick it all up tomorrow
- In "War and Pieces". In the aftermath of the grenade explosion in the first scene, the Coyote, now covered in cinders, notes the smoking state of his tail and moistens his paw to end the smoldering (punctuated by a PFST!).