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A lying tongue is best kept hidden.

"I've waited my whole life to do this... the finger pyramid of evil contemplation. [clasps fingers] Feels good."
Roger Smith, American Dad!

Particularly devious and magnificent villains, especially Diabolical Masterminds, have a habit of putting their hands together at around chest or mouth level, with fingers either interlocked or tip-to-tip.

One possible reason behind this gesture is that when a person lies, they often unconsciously cover their mouth with their hand (as if to prevent the lie from escaping their lips). Thus, putting both hands in front of your mouth means that you're lying big time. Another reason is that in Real Life body language, people tend to automatically steeple the hands when feeling overly confident, or superior to whoever they happen to be speaking to. Someone who does this too often will quickly come across as arrogant. But this pose has the advantage of completely blocking arms and chest, making their body language impossible to read anymore.

Bonus points if combined with ominous lighting, Scary Shiny Glasses, a slight Slouch of Villainy, a Beard of Evil or a Kubrick Stare. Double bonus for a Psychotic Smirk. Any combination of these can be used for a Traitor Shot.

The word usually used for this action in novels is "steepling." Not related to Intertwined Fingers. Usually. See Hand Rubbing for the poor man's version of this trope.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Gendo Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion combines this with all the bonus points listed in the page description; the Psychotic Smirk is rare, but it always means good news for him and extremely bad news for everyone else. His trademark covering-the-mouth variant is often called "the Gendo pose." For a while adding the "Gendo Hands" to existing works were a meme. (As a bonus, using the pose repeatedly helped cut down on animation costs and nobody had to worry about matching lip flaps when dubbing into another language.) He's one of the reasons why this is now THE signature pose for the Diabolical Mastermind.
  • Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist does this, too, whenever he isn't out on a date.
    • Kimbly, Envy, first Greed and Edward Elric do this at least once.
  • Lelouch from Code Geass commonly does this while his plans go as expected. When they fail... he does all sorts of different gestures.
    • Schneizel does this while he's telling the "truth" about Lelouch to the Black Knights.
    • Lelouch also does this when he's giving a "Reason You Suck" Speech to Nunnally - though there's a shot of his hands trembling a little, showing just how hard it was for him. The series does this a lot, showing a lot of his emotion through the tension in his hands.
    • Shirley, of all people, does this in the penultimate episode of R1, though it isn't because of any scheming on her part. It's because things have gotten very very serious at Ashford Academy.
  • In K: Return of Kings, Munakata does this during his argument with Fushimi, before Fushimi fake-defects to Jungle. You don't see much of his face for most of the time that he's shown - just his hands, tensing in this position, tip-to-tip (not by his face). The tension in his hands shows that he's feeling something more than he's letting on - before the plan is revealed, it could be that he's angrier at Fushimi than he seems. After the truth is revealed, and particularly after what he tells Yata outside of the bar, if you go back and watch it, you can see that he's actually worried about Fushimi.
  • Naruto:
    • Sasuke Uchiha is seen doing this at the beginning, just to show how much of a Disney Anti Hero he was. Oddly, after his genuine Face–Heel Turn he doesn't do it again until some time after joining Akatsuki.
    • This is Lampshaded in an early episode of the abridged series:
      Sasuke: "I'm sorry, I was practicing my Gendo Ikari impression."
    • Shikamaru also does the tip-to-tip style while he's planning. He does it so often it gets mistaken for a hand sign.
    • Tsunade did this on occasions.
    • Gaara seems to have picked up this habit when he's sitting down lately too. It seems to be a replacement for his usual standing-up habit of crossing his arms.
  • Death Note:
    • Light does this, fitting his role.
    • Takashi Ooi does this a lot as well.
  • Shizuku from Kämpfer does this to help show the audience that she's a particularly cunning and devious Student Council President.
  • Monster: Johan does it while talking to a small orphaned boy (who, as a result, attempts to commit suicide later in the day). The screen focuses on his hands for a long time before panning out to show his face.
  • In the anime Robotics;Notes, it's referred to as the Gendo Pose, followed by an explanation of how it's a very common occurrence in Humongous Mecha anime. This is only one of many mecha anime Shout Outs spouted in the show.
  • Zeera, Emperor of Ruin is often shown in this pose when plotting the future of his Lychee Light Club.
  • Doc, resident Mad Doctor in Dawn Tsumetai Te.
  • Seemingly subverted in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force: Hayate does this in chapter eight but nothing has come of it yet.
  • Treize Khushrenada from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
  • Used humorously in Pokémon: The Series when James, of all people, does this while guiding Jessie, Meowth, and the twerps in landing an out-of-control rocket.
  • Minor character Kido, who's in charge of student life and punishes the characters when they get into trouble, from Beelzebub does this often.
    • Kanzaki also does this when he tells his niece that Santa is dead so he won't have to buy her a Christmas present.
  • In Holyland chapter 131, the principal does this while announcing Masaki's expulsion from the boxing club.
  • In Attack on Titan, Hanji does this in episode 19.
  • Hasegawa from Gintama does that a lot, specifically as a reference to Gendo since they are both voiced by Fumihiko Tachiki and wear sunglasses.
  • The titular character of Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation does this with a Glove Snap whenever she encounters a mystery.
  • Played for Laughs in Himouto! Umaru-chan, where Umaru does this when thinking about how to deal with Hikari; however, since she's in her "Indoor" appearance, she pulls it off using fake hands on sticks. For bonus points, they're wearing Gendo Ikari's gloves.
  • Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun: Sakura of all people does this in chapter 75.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: Sherlock's default thinking posture is to sit with his feet up in the chair and his hands together fingertip-to-fingertip. The artist, Hikaru Miyoshi, has also drawn William doing this for Bonus Material, although he tends to crook a finger at his chin instead.
  • Food Wars!: In Episode 22, judge and food critic Shingo Andou does this, complete with Scary Shiny Glasses.

    Comic Books 
  • The Thrawn Trilogy:
    • The comic book adaptation has Grand Admiral Thrawn doing this often. That, or cradling and stroking a creature that is probably intended to be a ysalamiri. Notably he doesn't do much of either in the novels, but Magnificent Bastards steeple, and Thrawn is a Magnificent Bastard, so "steepled" is the second-most common way his hands are drawn in the comic, in other official art, and in fanart. The most common way his hands are positioned is undeniably clasped behind his back, a gesture of restraint. Notably you can't clasp your hands behind your back while sitting, and steepling just looks stupid when you're standing up.
    • The ysalamir stroking, at least, does occasionally happen in the books, whenever Thrawn wishes to emphasize their (Force-nullifying) presence when speaking with Force users.
  • The cover of issue 67 of The Walking Dead features Eugene Porter in this pose.
  • Robin: Although he's a hero, Tim Drake will occasionally steeple his fingers while he's plotting. First seen in the first Robin mini-series when he's half explaining things to Clyde Rawlins after getting the injured rogue DEA agent out of Paris.
  • In Krypton No More, villain Radion steeples his fingers while listening to his partner-in-crime Protector describing his clash with Superman.

    Fan Works 
  • The Boomer has been doing some thinking.
  • Advice and Trust: Gendo uses this pose in chapter 8 as he is pondering over the last developments (Shinji accidentally extracting someone had been absorbed into an Evangelion) and their implications.
    Gendo just tightened his lips and jerked a sharp nod. He returned to his desk and pulled up a report on the repair estimates for Unit-01, his hands assuming their standard position folded under his nose as he stared at the screen, but Fuyutsuki could tell he was not seeing the words at all.
  • Children of an Elder God: Gendo does this so often than even in Shinji's dreams in chapter 5 the latter imagines Gendo tenting his fingers:
    Prince Shinji kneeled before the throne of his father, King Gendo of Tokyo-3, who sat on his great basalt and onyx throne, his gloved fingers pursed to form a triangle.
  • Evangelion 303: Gendo does it in some scenes, such as this or this. The different camera angle and more casual clothes of the former give him a focused air rather a creepy one, though.
  • HERZ: Misato sometimes has her hands folded in this position when she is plotting or negotiating. It is meant to show she has become more similar to Gendo.
  • Last Child of Krypton: In chapter 4 Ritsuko walked in Commander Ikari’s office and he immediately tented his fingers and assumed his pose. She found it annoying.
  • Subverted by a yakuza boss in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, who does this when asking a subordinate to apologize for a rogue yakuza shooting Kyon. He doesn't intend to deceive them and honestly wants to apologize.
  • Alex (from the Adventure Time fanfic named after her) does this in chapter 6.
  • In The Darkness Series after going dark Harry develops this character tic.
  • In Thinking In Little Green Boxes while plotting and planning and considering that Dumbledore must have been replaced by a Skrull Harry does the Gendo pose.
  • Socrates' scheming side does this after misleading the group in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series, coupling it with an Evil Laugh.
  • In Batman story Dance with the Demons, Ra's Al Ghul clasps his fingers as he ponders the unlikelihood that one of his men went renegade and attempted against Catwoman's life.
    "Could it be one of your men, gone renegade? A loose cannon?"
    Ra's tented his hands. "I would think not. My ranks are more disciplined than that. However, I will give you this, Detective. If one of my men is involved in this matter, I will send you his head in a box, and a note of apology. This, I promise."
  • Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space has the requisite Gendo Pose during the Evangelion spoof in Chapter XI.
    "Why are you sending me out to die, Father? WHY?"
    "You know why." The Commander's white-gloved hands concealed his mouth, but the words were as cold as ever. Whatever parental affection existed in his eyes was hidden by the sallow tint of his glasses. "Because I'm an utter bastard!"

    Films — Animated 
  • Hera in Hercules (Pure Magic) does this as she realized Hades' nectar could be used as poison against Hercules and Zeus.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Judge Claude Frollo is often depicted as doing this in promotional material. See?
  • Megamind does this as part of his over-the-top supervillain persona.
  • Ratatouille: Acidic food critic Anton Ego steeples his fingers while relishing the fact that his bad review cost Chef Gusteau's restaurant one of it's stars.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Sherlock Holmes does this often.
  • Havelock Vetinari of Discworld.
    • Vimes copies Vetinari in Snuff, doing this while he's trying to intimidate a clerk.
  • The Magician Trent in the Xanth novels does this - while he's not precisely a Chessmaster, he's definitely a pretty smart cookie.
  • Harry Potter: Albus Dumbledore in cordial confrontation mode.
    • Most depictions of Salazar Slytherin (like the one on JKR's Wizard of the Month) will have him doing this.
  • Dravis of the Descent novelizations is fond of this.
  • Artemis Fowl often makes this pose when he's revealing something particularly devious/unexpected
  • The cynical executive put in charge after the buyout of the Hitchhiker's Guide offices, Vann Harl, does the finger-steepling thing while talking to Ford Prefect in Mostly Harmless. The narration marvels that this gesture has not yet been made a capital offense.
  • From The Dresden Files, Marcone often steeples his hands, very much like Xanatos. In the illustrated RPG book, nearly every time you see Marcone he's doing this.
  • Subverted in Heroes Die, where Kollberg laces his fingers together not as a sign of deception, but to try and keep calm while talking to the Board of Governors.
  • Tang Shou Dian in the Dale Brown novel Sky Masters.
  • Machiavelli in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Almost inevitable, really.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: One of the trademark gestures of Tywin Lannister, though other characters are known to do it too.
    • One of the priests of the Many Faced God, when teaching Arya how to lie, mentions that some people will instinctively cover their mouth when lying, which is the Truth in Television part of this trope.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, Dennis does this after the protagonist humiliates him in front of the class, but he vows to continue on with his “plan” to seduce all the girls in his summer school class.
  • Kohaku in Tsukihime clasps her hands while talking with Shiki after having sex in her own route. Since she'd been trying to manipulate him to kill Akiha, this might make sense, but it's actually a subversion. She wasn't lying to him, and she later tried to stop Shiki and the then-insane Akiha from killing each other.
    • She does drug him so he can't come after her immediately after that though.
  • Shizune from Katawa Shoujo seems to like "tenting" her hands and otherwise follows the personality tropes associated with this to the letter, though as far as chessmastery is concerned, all she's got to show for herself is a mean game of RISK.
  • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Alita Tiala has two fairly subtle versions of this as standard poses. It's the first sign that her "loving fiancée" act is fake.
  • Celestia Ludenberg in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc occasionally slips into this. However, she never bothered to cover her mouth... although she instead uses a cute smile accompanied with closed eyes of innocence. Coupled with how she's called 'Queen of Liars', that still doesn't deduce the points about how much she's deceiving. The final Closing Argument also shows the mastermind doing this in their control room.
  • In Doki Doki Literature Club!, Monika does this pose after erasing everything else but her.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • David Xanatos of Gargoyles. Just see for youself. And yes, he is indeed devious.
  • The Simpsons: Mr. Burns's signature line "Excellent" is usually delivered in this pose (the tip-to-tip version), though he is usually tapping fingertips, not clasping.
  • After coming up with a plan to get back at someone he felt had wronged him, Roger from American Dad! expressed delight that he would get to do this, calling it 'the finger pyramid of evil contemplation'.
  • Slade from Teen Titans (2003).
  • Discord from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
  • Lucius on Jimmy Two-Shoes engages in this on occasion.
  • Megavolt on Darkwing Duck.
  • Beast Wars Megatron likes to do this in Tyrannosaurus Rex mode. Probably not possible for a T. Rex, but it's funny, so who cares.
  • Lex Luthor pulls one in the pilot episode of Superman: The Animated Series.
  • On the Æon Flux episode "Thanatophobia," one character tells off Goodchild for being too soft on Breen citizens trying to escape the city while making this pose. It's even more disturbing when you notice that this man is missing every other finger.
  • Doctor Doom seems rather fond of this in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
  • Dick Dastardly and The Hooded Claw do this a lot.
  • Mr. Cat from Kaeloo does this often, usually after coming up with some kind of scheme to trick the other characters into giving him what he wants.
    • Kaeloo herself does this in one episode when she comes up with a strategy to convince Mr. Cat to play with her.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, George Avocados crosses the far end of a room, turns and pulls this pose from the top of the stairs, then resumes a more normal posture.
  • Parodied on MAD with "Villain Hand Sanitizer".

Alternative Title(s): Steepled Fingers, Gendo Pose, Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive, Steepling