Follow TV Tropes


Finger-Snap Lighter

Go To

“Fire at your fingertips!”
— Incinerate! plasmid advert, BioShock

One of the fun ways of Playing with Fire is to coolly light your cigarette, cigar or pipe with a finger snap in an extravagant show of Mundane Utility. Of course, the power to hold flames in your hands can also be a potent intimidating gesture. Usually this is done by holding the palm open and facing up. Much like the Super Power equivalent of cocking the trigger on a gun, this is dangerous because it's just one step shy of firing it. Also, it looks really cool.

A few other variations apart from the finger snap and palm up are when one or both hands are held overhead and an Energy Ball is hovering over them, and the "crucifixion", which has the energy shot to the sides in a shower.

This doesn't just apply to fire powers, but any hero or villain with energy- or light-emitting powers can use these poses or simply using friction. If they can spread the flames to their entire body, they are Wreathed in Flames. This has nothing to do with Finger Extinguisher.


Subtrope of Badass Fingersnap.


    open/close all folders 

  • British Gas had a series of adverts years ago, featuring the finger-click into a thumbs up. The flame, naturally, was blue.
    • Parodied on Spitting Image in a sketch where John Major is advertising a gas cooker. His first finger-click does nothing. His second sets fire to the kitchen.
    • Also parodied in a Scotch and Wry sketch. Rikki Fulton says the catchphrase, does the lighter snap, and after a Beat, clutches his thumb in pain.
  • Sofia Vergara did a variation in this commercial for Xfinity, except it's more "striking a finger match" than finger snap lighter.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Recca does this a few times near the beginning of Flame of Recca.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist's Colonel Mustang wears gloves that spark when he snaps his fingers. Then he uses the alchemic circles woven into said gloves to decompose water in the air into hydrogen and oxygen then reignite as needed to turn the tiny spark into an inferno. While Mustang himself doesn't smoke, his squadmate Havoc does and will sometimes ask him for a light.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Setsuna simply created a tongue of flame at the end of her finger tip. A true example would be Negi blinding her by combining his snap with light magic while he was under the effects of the world tree.
  • Early in the Sailor Moon anime, Sailor Mars' first attack conjures flames from her index fingers.
  • Yubaba from Spirited Away lights a cigarette this way while coolly threatening to roast Chihiro's parents-turned-to-pigs for her bathhouse guests' dinner.
  • Toriko lights his cigar tree branch this way. No, he doesn't have fire or any other supernatural powers besides absurd strength. Yes, he's that awesome.
  • Alberto the Shockwave from Giant Robo likes to light his cigars this way.
  • Mikoto Suoh, the Red King in K does this, for himself and for the Blue King, when they have a discussion in the end.

    Comic Books 
  • Pyro does this often in the X-Men comics and adaptations.
  • In an issue of Grim Jack, Crane, a Con Man is contemplating the collapse of his latest scam when he asks a stranger in an alley for a light. The stranger was Lord Chaos from the sister comic, Warp.
  • The Human Torch of the Fantastic Four is also prone to this, and literally lit someone else's cigarette—to their great surprise—this way.
  • In the graphic novel The Red Star, the soldiers consider it good luck for a sorceress to light their cigarettes this way.
  • Liz Sherman of Hellboy and B.P.R.D. is a pyrokinetic and lights her smokes this way.
  • Jenny Sparks of The Authority does this fairly often in her mini-series and in the comic proper. Jenny Quantum starts when she starts smoking after her Plot-Relevant Age-Up.
  • After possessed Julie in Darkman vs. Army of Darkness resurrects Darkman's arch nemesis Durant, she lights his cigar by snapping her fingers.
  • In MAD's parody of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire note  ends with Hagrid joking about how the actors are getting older than the characters they're playing and a stubbly Harry lighting a cigarette with his wand.
  • Lucifer lights cigarettes this way in The Wicked + The Divine. She's now the trope picture. Laura manages to do it once making her wonder if she's one of the Pantheon.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Knights of the Dinner Table strip, Brian says his wizard character is holding a prepped fireball in his hand as he "negotiates" for a map. The map's owner points out that this is a laughable bluff, since unleashing it would destroy the map, (not to mention the inn and the adventuring party themselves). Unfortunately for both him and the players, Teflon Billy doesn't bluff, and doesn't like being laughed at.
    Bob: On the plus side, we don't really need the map now.

    Films — Animation 
  • The demon Chernabog does this a few different ways in the Night on Bald Mountain sequence of Disney's Fantasia while demonstrating his profane powers.
  • Hades on Hercules does both the finger snap (to light a cigar) and the crucifixion (when he learns that Hercules is still alive).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Colwyn, a prince in the land of Krull gains the power to throw fire from his hand after reuniting with Princess Lyssa. It begins as a small flame when he holds his hand upright.
  • Egg does something similar when he lets a magical energy bolt play between his hands in Big Trouble in Little China.
  • The Judge from Full Contact, in his first scene, uses his fingers to light a cigarette to impress a female store attendant. Right before stabbing her. Have we mentioned he's Faux Affably Evil?
  • In 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, Dr. Lao lights his pipe with a flame off of his thumb; due to it being windy, it takes him a couple of attempts to get it to work.
  • In the film Warlock (1989), the titular character does this a couple of times—from generating a green flame to heat up some food to creating red flames while performing a magical ritual.
  • Done by Laurel and Hardy in Way Out West (1937; probably the Trope Maker). Stan ignites his thumb as if it were a cigarette lighter several times; each time, Ollie stares in disbelief and tries to copy him. And eventually it works for Ollie, who reacts with horrified alarm.
  • Variation: In Beetlejuice, newly deceased Adam and Barbara get the first impression something is wrong when Barbara's fingertips ignite when she holds her hands too close to a fire. After a Beat, she blows them out like birthday candles.
  • In Night at the Museum, the protagonist Larry Daley is really fond of snapping his fingers, up to the point that he even invented the Snapper, an electric switch which is similar to the Clapper, but responds to the sound of finger-snapping.
  • The Devil was fond of this one in Oh God! You Devil.
  • Double Indemnity features a variation sans magic. Walter Neff uses the "strike-anywhere" matches that were common in the forties, and lights them with his thumbnail in a gesture that resembles a finger snap.
  • Gandalf uses this to light his pipe in the film version of The Hobbit.
  • Inverted by Pyro in the X-Men Film Series. He can control but not conjure flames, so he always keeps an actual cigarette lighter handy.
  • Harley Quinn asks Diablo if he's ever done this for a girl in Suicide Squad (2016), saying how romantic it would be but Diablo has no interest as he accidentally burned the only people he ever loved to death.
  • The Fire Gang from Labyrinth can light their fingers by striking them like matches.
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: At the beginning of the movie, Gandalf lights his pipe with a small flame he makes appear in his hand. He later uses the same effect toward the climax to set pine cones on fire, throwing them at the wargs.
  • In Sky High (2005), Warren does this to light a candle during a date with Layla.
  • In Fantastic Four (2005), Johnny discovers that he can light a flame over his hand by snapping his fingers, and repeatedly snaps to put it out and light it again.

  • In Harry Potter, when Lupin is first seen conscious, he's got a little fireball thing in his hand, as the Dementors have made all the lights in the train go out. It's apparently not much of a big deal; he's just a pretty good wizard... Or rather, it wouldn't be a big deal if he had had his wand. He didn't, and that makes it much more impressive.
  • Merry Gentry's Doyle does this in Kiss of Shadows, with his unearthly eat-you-alive-can't-be-put-out-by-water-green-flames-of-DEATH. He also has them float over his shoulders.
  • This trope is used by both Valentin Ivashchenko and Iar Elterrus in their respective fantasy settings - almost every mage will light a cigar, a pipe or a bonfire in this manner. As the Magic A Is Magic A rule prohibits some mages from casting fire spells, e.g. sea-wizards (limited to water and weather magic) and necromancers, any mage pulling this off is about to mess with specialization.
  • At one point in the Twilight Watch series, an enraged Anton Gorodetsky subconsciously forms a fireball in his hands while attempting to cook a bowl of rice. He winds up incinerating the bowl because he already had the spell readied.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant: It's how Elementals cast fireballs; they take the friction from the finger snap, add magic, then fireball.
  • Archivist Lindhorst from The Golden Pot once lit a few pipes that way.
  • Creating a small flame in his hand is one of Harry Dresden's nastier spells, which he uses to terrorize people whom he feels deserve it. He also has a spell for igniting the candles and/or fireplace in his apartment, which he activates with the incantation "Flicum Bicus".
  • Elliot does this for Quentin the first time they meet in The Magicians.
  • Luke lights Astrid's cigarette this way in Eight Days of Luke.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The Herdazian people have crystalline fingernails as a result of their being descended from humans and Parshendi. Many of them carry a piece of metal called a "sparkflicker" that allows them to use their nails as a flint-and-steel firelighter.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Charmed demons do this a lot. In fact, one episode with Barbas the fear demon had his powers amplified, then depowered without knowing it. His look of utter confusion at not being able to conjure up a fireball this way was priceless.
  • Ted Sprague and Meredith Gordon from Heroes both do this. (Meredith does it so much that fans nicknamed her "Flamepalm".)
  • The X-Files: The episode "Fire" has a pyrokinetic villain who sets fire on his fingers in order to impress two kids and mess around with a young woman at a bar.
  • Kryten the android lights a cigar with a flame from his index finger in the Red Dwarf episode "Bodyswap". This was apparently a difficult and uncomfortable trick for the actor to achieve, involving pipes and cables running across the floor and up through the costume—and not made any easier or more comfortable by the fact that the script called for him to be knee-deep in water at the time. The scene was then deleted from the finished episode, therefore making all the effort and suffering for nothing. To further add insult to injury, the footage has since gone missing and was unable to be included on the DVD.
  • Somewhere in season two of Roswell, Michael provides a literal Finger Snap Lighter to prove to a discharged army veteran that he was one of the aliens he saved while still on active duty.
  • Referenced in the opening sequence of Improv Heaven And Hell—one of the hosts (Canadian improv duo "The Devil's Advocates") demonstrated his ability to do this to light his cigarette; the other tried several times unsuccessfully, even going so far as to stick his hand in an open flame, only to finally succeed and set his whole arm alight. The first host grins at the camera and displays a small lighter hidden in his palm.
  • A Villain of the Week on Smallville does this using electricity powers to light his cigarette whilst holding the Kents hostage.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In the final scene of "The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank", the title character demonstrates this ability when he lights a match without striking it. He tells his fiancée Comfort Gatewood that it was just her imagination.
    • In "Printer's Devil", Mr. Smith, being the Devil, has the ability to create fire. He snaps his fingers to light his cigar while Douglas Winter isn't looking.
  • Grandpa does a variation of this on The Munsters; he uses his index finger to light cigars.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Last Defender of Camelot", Morgan le Fay snaps her fingers to light her cigarette after Lancelot refuses to do so, telling her that chivalry is dead.
  • The mundane version (see Real Life) gets subverted as a Running Gag on Arrested Development — hapless stage magician Gob tries to do it to impress people but always screws it up, usually just spraying them with lighter fluid.
    Gob: ...but where did the lighter fluid come from?

    Myths & Religion 
  • Shiva's top left hand as a symbol of cosmic destruction is depicted as doing this when Shiva is portrayed as Nataraja (Lord of Dance). Shiva Nataraja is also wreathed in an aura of flame for the same reason.
  • The Archangel Uriel is frequently depicted holding a flame in his left hand.
  • In folklore of the Hawaiian Islands, the goddess Pele sometimes masquerades as a humble hitchhiker who only asks for a ride up the mountain, and asks for a cigarette. She then lights the cigarette with a snap of her fingers — and vanishes.

    Tabletop Games 

  • In Damn Yankees, pulling a lit cigarette out of the air is the easiest trick the Devil can pull off, which rather annoys him as he's trying to give up smoking.

    Video Games 
  • Used as various intro and victory poses for Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami of The King of Fighters, in both finger-snap (Kyo only) and open-palm flavors. Orochi Chris, Kyo's Evil Counterpart from the Orochi Team in '97, also performs a open palm variant with both hands for his intro, which is copied by Ash Crimson in his Maximum Impact Regulation "A" pre-fight exchange with Kyo as a Mythology Gag.
  • Used in adverts for the Incinerate! Plasmid in BioShock. In fact, both Jack and Subject Delta snap their fingers when you use the plasmid. So truth in advertising!
    • In the BioShock Infinite DLC game "Burial At Sea: Part 1", Booker DeWitt uses this ability to light up Elizabeth's cigarette.
  • Axel does this occasionally in Kingdom Hearts sometimes independently and sometimes as a part of summoning his weapon. The most notable example is in Chain of Memories when he does this to poor Vexen, who more or less explodes on contact (being an ice-user). "You're off the hook." note  *snap*
  • Mario and Luigi in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Drebin lights Snake's last cigarette on the Missouri with his fingers. He was shown to be into stage magic earlier (making an apple disappear and replacing it with a grenade), so he most likely pulled it off with a lighter-cloth glove.
    • Professor Galvez in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has a mechanical hand with a lighter in the thumb. Much later, he loses it, and Big Boss is seen using the hand as a cigar lighter since his regular lighter doesn't work.
  • In Rodin's intro in Bayonetta, he lights one of Enzo's cigars from a blue flame sprouted from his thumb.
  • In Sengoku Basara, Matsunaga Hisahide's fighting style is based completely around explosions and as such, he makes common use of this trope. The glove on his left hand is fitted with special claws that produce a spark when he snaps his fingers, igniting the gunpowder he throws about.
  • Mage!Hawke of Dragon Age II can use this in conversation to prove his/her magical ability.
    • Origins and its expansions have all the NPC mages adopt variants of this pose as their 'active' stance in the party menu.
  • The default animation for the Flashfire power in Champions Online has the character casually snapping their fingers to set a 10x10 foot area of ground on fire.
  • Sasha Nein can do this in Psychonauts, utilizing his Psychic Powers to do so.
  • Bugs Bunny does it in Lost in Time. Merlin the sorcerer doesn't seem very happy at being shown a trick he can't do himself.
  • Fan depictions of Fujiwara no Mokou from Touhou Project often show her lighting cigarettes in this manner.
  • Pyromancers in Tree of Savior do this when casting Flare, which causes affected targets to explode into flames.
  • Celica of Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia snaps her fingers to conjure the hovering ball of fire that follows her around as a torch for her Dungeon Crawling.
  • In the Playable Epilogue of Helltaker, Zdrada can be found attempting this trope.

    Web Animation 
  • Helluva Boss: In "Seeing Stars", when Loona has trouble with her lighter, Octavia snaps her fingers to create a small flame to light her cigarette.
  • Deimos in Madness Combat lights his cigarette by spontaneously creating a flame from his thumb. This was originally due to the creator not bothering to animate lighters at first though even after other characters are shown using lighters to smoke, Deimos retains this ability.
  • The smoking demon from the Sock Series doesn't have fingers, but the way it uses the tip of its tail to light a cigarette with is pretty evocative of someone using their thumb like a lighter.


    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the firebenders do this all the time.
    • Iroh used this in lighting some incense candles. In The Last Airbender's film trailers he is seen doing something similar with fire on the back of his hand.
  • In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra,
    • In "Welcome to Republic City" the Firebender of a Power Trio of gangsters pulls this to back up his boss's threat against a shopkeeper who was behind on his protection money.
    • In "The Voice in the Night" after Korra challenges Amon to a duel and is ambushed, she uses a ball of fire in her palm to verify that Amon did not take her bending away.
    • When Korra is kidnapped by Tarrlok, who frames the Equalists, Mako pins a Mook to the wall and lights his hand while demanding to know where she is.
  • Igor is shown doing this once in Count Duckula.
  • Bender from Futurama is often seen doing this.
  • In the Heckle and Jeckle cartoon The Power Of Thought, Heckle and Jeckle demonstrate this to the bulldog cop in showing how anything is possible in a cartoon. When the cop tries it, his hand is caught on fire.
  • Shego of Kim Possible is pulling this pose on the Dark Action Girl page picture.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Knight-mare Hare", Bugs Bunny does the flaming thumb trick for a wizard, who tries in vain to do it.
  • God does this as a bar trick in a Cutaway Gag in Family Guy, but His aim is off and He winds up burning his new lady friend.
  • In the intro to The Bugs and Daffy Show, Daffy Duck's increasingly desperate attempts to get the audience's attention eventually include frustratedly walking onto the stage as a magician, making a hoop appear, bringing up a lit thumb to set it on fire, but before he does, gesturing at it while continuing to look at the audience, as if to say, "That's my thumb with the fire on it."

    Real Life 
  • While impossible to do without equipment in real life, there exist hand apparatuses for doing this as part of a stage magic show ranging from a rig that fits on the hand to fake thumbs.
  • Also a frequent magic trick is dipping one's hand in a precise mixture of alcohol and water and then lighting it on fire with a hidden spark. When done right, the water evaporates, keeping the hand cool. Although, as Richard Feynman noted, any hair on the back of your hands will act like wicks and prevent the water from properly cooling the flame.
  • It's possible to do this by flicking your fingernail forcefully over a strike-anywhere match. Just be sure to not get any burning phosphorous under your fingernail ...
    • In a similar way this can be done with wick-style lighters, such as the ones made by Zippo. In this case, the finger traveling downward with the snap, actually moves the flint wheel.


Video Example(s):


Loona & Octavia Observatory

Loona and Octavia meet up at an observatory where the hellhound finds the lost and saddened princess in tears, over her horrible day. From here Loona lets Octavia vent about her painful feelings towards her father, who seems to hate her mother more than he loves her, while she listens quietly. In return Loona gives Octavia some much needed advice, saying that dads are flawed and don't always know what to do, but they still care about their children and try to do what's best. The Rule of Symbolism is invoked as Loona struggles to light her lighter until she talks positively about Blitzo, with the sky clearing of smog right after to see the moon and stars. Octavia hugs Loona, and the two use the Grimoire to get back to their fathers.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / FriendshipMoment

Media sources: