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Finger-Twitching Revival

Go To're unconscious. That sucks for you, huh? After all, this is probably the result of being banged on the head, having some horrible illness, or just being so injured that you can't voluntarily wake up or move around. The doctors around you are talking openly about the likeliness of you never waking up. Bye-bye, you.

But wait! You're not licked yet! As you slowly begin to rouse yourself, a telltale sign of your impending consciousness will show itself. It will often go unnoticed, perhaps when everyone has turned away. But it will indeed happen: your fingers will twitch back to life.

This is an extremely common trope, usually done in extreme close-up on the hand as a last-second Cliffhanger of a scene or even the entire show/film. The dual categories of whose fingers could be twitching determines the tone of this trope. If it's a hero or a love interest, this is a moment of renewed hope and happiness (and usually is then immediately followed by the full wake-up scene); if it's a villain, the moment is a threat. The ubiquitiousness of this trope covers up the fact that twitching fingers may not always be the most likely part of the body to first signify someone's revival - eyes could open, shoulders could adjust, chest could rise and fall with breath. But even when the arms and fingers of a character have been significantly hurt, and are even bandaged up or suspended in one spot, this is more often than not the way we'll be shown that the character is coming back to his/her senses.

See also Playing Possum, No One Could Survive That!, Raised Hand of Survival, and The End... Or Is It?.

Compare to Eye Awaken, which this may be used along with. Additionally, by its nature, this is more often than not a spoiler trope.

Could also potentially be horrific if the character whose finger twitches goes completely unnoticed. Those around could go on to assume that the character is deceased and treat them as such. This can then lead to many situations like abandonment, burial, cremation and the likes... all while the character is still alive.

Movement as proof of life, incidentally, is not always Truth in Television: Creepily enough, even dead bodies can sometimes move or make noise caused by the contraction of tendons and the presence of gas escaping from the corpse. Burned bodies often curl into a fetal position as the tendons dry and contract, which can give rise to stories of deceased persons suddenly "sitting up" on the pyre.

When this happens because of Special Effect Failure revealing that the "corpse" is a live actor, that's The Living Dead.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Carole & Tuesday waits a record amount of time before using this trope. At the end of Episode 16, Desmond collapses after singing with Carole and Tuesday and is implied to have passed away under their own terms. Seven episodes later, they are not only revealed to be alive and comatose, but after being informed of Carole and Tuesday's planned underground concert, their fingers twitch. Sure enough, they arrive for the finale alongside everyone else, remarking, "I can't die until I sing this song."
  • Dragon Ball Z loves this trope. There are simply too many examples of this to list.
  • This situation occurred in Ikki Tousen, when one of the characters was stabbed in the spine. The doctors said that he may be permanently paralyzed and never wake up from his coma. Then, at the last few minutes of the show, said character raises his hand into a fist.
  • Also happens in Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai, when Shion finally finds Satoshi, who is in a medicated coma. Irie says that Satoshi suffered massive brain damage, but has a good chance of recovering. Then, a split second before the scene changes, we see Satoshi shed a tear.
    • This also happens in the anime-original arc, Yakusamashi-hen. After the Hinamizawa Gas Disaster, Satoko is in a coma, but moves slightly when Ooishi mentions Rika's death. Unfortunately, she gets bumped off before Ooishi realizes that she must know something.
  • One Piece loves this one. It uses variants all the time, especially explicitly in the anime — for example, during the final stages of Luffy's final battle with Crocodile.
  • This also happens in the first two minutes of the .hack//SIGN intro episode when Tsukasa wakes up to find himself trapped within The World.
  • In Highschool of the Dead, this is an indicator of being infected by ''them''.
  • Used during Asura's resurrection in Soul Eater. The anime gets across the manic twitching, scratching and banging perfectly as the Kishin, unable to see, struggles out of his prison.
  • Used in Gantz manga at the end of the Onion Alien arc: Kato appears to be dead, but after a bit of suspense he twitches slightly - enough for Gantz to consider him alive and teleport him back safely.
  • Invoked in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders. Jotaro needs to draw Dio off of a down and out Polnareff, but not reveal that he's conscious and Playing Possum, so he decides to tap his fingers on the ground. Upon hearing the noise and realizing this trope might be in effect, Dio decides to Make Sure He's Dead by shooting him (Star Platinum catches the bullet just under Jotaro's skin), listening for his heartbeat from a safe distance (Star Platinum temporarily stops his heart) and then grabbing a street sign to decapitate him as a final precaution (which brings him within range for Star Platinum to shatter his skull).
  • Shown in Magikano before Haruo goes into 11th-Hour Superpower mode.
  • Inverted in Puella Magi Madoka Magica by Sayaka. Her whole body twitched except her fingers.

    Fan Works 
  • In Hope for the Heartless, this happens with the Horned King when he recovers following his fight with the Mad Pack.
  • Happens in the Gmod adaptation of squirrelking's Half-Life: Full Life Consequences: Free Man. Although John Freeman is only out for a second or so, and after this he immediately flies awkwardly into the sky.
  • Used for a Hope Spot in Prophecy of the end. Sara sits by a comatose Laurel when Laurel's hand suddenly twitches. Unfortunately, it was just a reflex and she remains in a coma. She wakes up later with an Eye Awaken.
  • In Return To The Past, NOW! Finale, Cassidy's first sign of waking up from her coma is for one of her hands to twitch. It takes a little while more before she actually awakens.

    Films — Animated 
  • In WALL•E, when the main character regains his memories and his personality, the first thing to move is his fingers, and they twitch downwards slightly before fully closing around EVE's hand.
  • Played with in Hercules: Hercules appears to have successfully killed the Hydra but perished in the process. The hydra's fingers begin twitching and uncurling, making the onlookers fear that it isn't quite dead, until its hand fully opens to reveal Hercules very much alive inside it.
  • In The Red Turtle, the first sign of the mother being alive in the turtle shell is her hand moving.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Frankenstein (1931): ''It's alive . . . it's alive, it's alive! IT'S ALIVE!!''
    • At the beginning of Bride of Frankenstein, Henry is diagnoses dead by the villagers after the explosion, so they take his body home and place it on a table. Soon after, the maid cries out when his hand starts moving, then he comes to. Of course, as one of the main characters he had to have Plot Armor.
  • When The Pale Man comes to life in Pan's Labyrinth, it starts first with this trope.
  • Obviously (and quite so) done in The Strangers, where it's clearly obvious from the whole lead-up that Liv Tyler's Too Dumb to Live character is going to scream and show that she's still alive. Adding yet another disappointment to an already subpar picture.
  • In The Incredible Hulk (2008), Emil Blonsky indicates his impending revival by his fingers coming to staccato life as Gen. Ross is walking away from his hospital bed. Even though his fingers are almost fully wrapped up in bandages and his whole arm and hand are in a suspension cast. Now that is a commitment to this trope.
  • This happened in Independence Day, followed shortly by an Eye Awaken, when the captured alien woke up in the middle of the Area 51 scientists trying to remove its bioarmor.
  • Happens at the end of Christine, after the car has been compacted into a cube. A bar from the grill starts to move, showing that the car maybe Not Quite Dead.
  • Subverted in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze with Super Shredder, who collapses a heavy pier onto himself as the Turtles he is trying to take with him escape. The Turtles emerge from the water to look upon the wreckage, only to find Super Shredder's hand emerging from the wreckage to their horror. Raph exclaims "No-One Could Have Survived That!" And then the hand falters and falls limp upon the ruins of the pier, never to rise again, signifying that yes, the Shredder is finally done for.
    • But played straight near the start of the film where Shredder's hand can be seen slowly rising out of a pile of garbage to show that he survived the first movie after all.
    • Later subverted again in the Fox TV series Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, which claims that yes, Super Shredder DID survive it and was somehow restored to a non-mutant form.
    • Similarly done in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), with the Shredder again. Time will tell if this was playing the trope straight or subverting it.
  • In The Terminator, Reese shoots the T-800 several times with a sawed-off shotgun when it tries to move in on Sarah in TechNoir. Shortly after it hits the floor, its fingers twitch, offering the audience their first clue that the big scary guy isn't human.
    • In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the T-X's fingers twitch just after being rammed head-on by the T-850's pickup. In this case, it shows just how tough the new Terminator model is.
  • This is done in William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet to signal that Juliet is beginning to revive. The only problem is, this is happening JUST as Romeo is preparing to drink the poison!
  • Played with at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand. Magneto's fingers cause a chess piece to twitch, implying his powers are returning.
  • Disney Channel movie Susie Q uses this trope in a surprisingly dark moment early in the film. The title character Susie is returning home from a dance when she and her date and involved in a serious wreck with a drunk driver on a bridge. The accident causes the car to be half on the bridge and half off; inside the car the couple seems to be unconscious or dead until Susie's hand feels out and grabs hold her date's hand. Then the car slips off the bridge, flips and falls into the river below causing the pair to drown. Yes, this really is a Disney movie and no, they don't show anymore.
  • Happens in the Jet Li vanity vehicle The One when he is fighting himself, and he kicks his own ass, then gets up and kicks his own ass.
  • When Tommy Jarvis kills Jason in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Jason tries to pull this off. However Tommy has none of it and starts chopping away at him, shouting "Die!!!" with each chop.
  • The Last Days on Mars (2013). A Zombie Infectee takes off her space helmet on the Martian surface to stop the hero trying to get her to safety. As the hero holds her body and sheds Manly Tears, a twitching space glove signifies she's about to attack him as a zombie.
  • Cliffhanger. During the mid-air heist a federal agent is shot. As the last villain prepares to depart the airplane, he steps on the man's hand. It twitches in response, then the camera pans to show he's wounded but Not Quite Dead yet. And he has a submachine gun. Although he's killed soon after, his subsequent actions put a wrench in the villains Evil Plan and kick off the rest of the plot.
  • The first sign that Inger has successfully been brought Back from the Dead in Ordet comes when her clasped hands twitch and then unclasp.
  • Faust: Love of the Damned: After Claire tries to have her master "M" killed to take his place, the first thing indicating that he's Not Quite Dead are his fingers moving.
  • In 10 Cloverfield Lane, Howard sedates Michelle after her first assault on his life. Her coming to afterwards is preceded by a twitching of her hand in close-up.
  • In Moon, the first sign of clone Sam 3 awaking from stasis is the twitching of the fingers of his right hand.
  • Horror film The Vault subverts this. Batjargal's twitching finger shows that he's waking up from a coma in the hospital, but he's actually dying, as shown by the EKG that flatlines at the same time. What's actually happening is that he's "waking up" as he's possessed by the evil, murderous ghost.
  • In The Stinger of Don't Breathe 2, the seemingly dead Blind Man starts to have one of these after being found by the gang's dog.


    Live-Action TV 
  • The first Sheriff of Nottingham in series 3 of Robin Hood. Though it takes him a surprisingly long time to return from his Not Quite Death.
  • A Chinese soap titled Freezing Point ends with (long story) the protagonist in the hospital in a coma, her fingers twitching back to life as her love ones surround her and beg her to Please Wake Up.
  • It was subverted in Season 5 of Desperate Housewives. Edie is accidentally electrocuted, falls down... then we get a close up of the Twitching Hand right before the credits. The following episode starts with the character already cremated, IIRC.
    • Sadly true in real life, since it's obvious that she's still being electrocuted at this point, which would cause muscle spasms.
  • Farscape. In "Twice Shy", Sikozu apparently suffers Death by Looking Up from the Monster of the Week, then we cut to her twitching fingers...on her hand at which Sikozu is staring at from across the room. Fortunately, her species has the ability to reattach severed limbs.
  • Happens in House, and the entire episode is in first person perspective, as they guy is helped to get back from his current state.
  • While not a direct example, some characters in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica often wake up or regain consciousness via this. One example would be Baltar in Torn: Up to that point, the audience is not sure what happened to Baltar since New Caprica. At the beginning of Torn, we get a Mind Screw dream sequence ending with Baltar's hand twitching and Baltar waking up aboard a Basestar.
  • In Happy Days when the Fonz is frozen by Mork he comes back by first wiggling his thumb.
  • The Doctor Who Made-for-TV Movie has the Doctor doing this as he's Waking Up at the Morgue. The shot alternates with Frankenstein's Monster coming to life in the black-and-white movie the morgue attendant is watching. Yes, they tried to make the Doctor out to be quite spooky. Afterward, he escapes the morgue via Barrier-Busting Blow, maintaining the spookiness factor, and then we see him looking confused and clutching his shroud tightly around himself and flinching when the morgue attendant screams and faints when he sees him.
  • In one episode of M*A*S*H, a soldier's "corpse" is shipped to the 4077th along with a bunch of wounded. For most of the episode, the viewers are the only ones who see the soldier try to move enough to call for help.
  • NUMB3RS- happens in the fifth season episode "The Fifth Man", Don is unconscious for much of the episode after being stabbed in the chest. A sleeping Alan's hand is next to his son's and Don's fingers start twitching, waking Alan up to see that Don has regained consciousness, who spends the next episode recovering from his injury.
  • Supernatural 7x02: Sam and Dean's first fight with one of the season's brand-new monsters ends with them dropping a car on it. At the end of the episode, we see its hand sticking out from under the car, fingers twitching, and the pool of blood retreating back into its body. Justified in that the creatures are Nigh Invulnerable.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Jenny is knocked unconscious when a demon-possessed old friend of Giles breaks out of the library cage...and collapses into a puddle of liquid. As the pool touches Jenny's hand, it twitches, and she comes to... now possessed.
  • On The X-Files this trope shows up in season 8's "Dead Alive" to show that Mulder was alive and not turned into a Super Soldier from The Virus. Before this episode, Mulder had been dead for three months and abducted/missing for at least four months before that, leaving behind a very distraught Scully behind. The episode ends with Scully clinging anxiously to his hand, a Finger-Twitching Revival, a relieved look on Scully's face, and a badly timed joke on Mulder's part.
    (Mulder's hand twitches in Scully's, and he wakes up to find Scully sitting next to his hospital bed)
    Scully (on the verge of bursting into tears): Hi.
    Mulder: Who are you?
    (Scully is devastated until she sees Mulder crack a smile)
    Scully: Oh, God, don't do that to me.
  • On General Hospital, this was the first indication that heroine Laura was coming out of her catatonic state.
  • On Glee, when Burt has a heart attack, he ends up in a coma and it's unknown whether or not he will wake up or not. At the very end of the episode, his son Kurt is sitting at his hospital bedside holding his hand when his finger twitches ever so slightly. Kurt calls for a nurse, and the next episode reveals that he's okay.
  • ER combined this with Eye Awaken when a hungover Doug woke up following one of his random one-night stands.
  • All My Children: After falling from a bridge and washing up on shore, the first indication that Tad Martin had survived the attempt on his life was when his hand began to move.
  • One Life to Live: Having been shot several times in the back, Todd Manning was presumed dead and thrown into a trunk by his assailants. But just before the trunk was slammed shot, the sight of his hand moving was enough to show that he'd survived.
  • At the end of the Emerald City episode "Prison of The Abject", this is the first sign that Mombi has revived herself after Lucas's rather enthusiastic attempt to kill her.
  • Grey's Anatomy: The season 9 finale ends with Richard Webber lying in a pool of electrified water, twitching. The following episode saw intern Heather Brooks finding Webber, though when she steps into the water to try to help him, she too is electrocuted. However, Brooks falls and hits her head on an edge, and doesn't twitch when she hits the ground. Played straight when both are rescued later; Webber survives, though Brooks doesn't (however, the head injury killed her, though the electrocution definitely didn't help).
  • Happens in Wednesday with Thing. Which, given what Thing is, would be hard to avoid.

  • In the music video for "Anna Molly" by Incubus we see a girl who is found in a forest presumed dead. However leading up to the end of the song we find the girl start to faintly respond... while a nearby doctor prepares to lobotomise her. Her fingers twitch and we even see a tear slip out of her unblinking eyes as the buzzsaw draws nearer. Fortunately she regains control of her arm and grabs the doctor, causing him to drop the saw on the floor. Just in Time.

  • This is how the characters in RENT realize Mimi is alive.

    Video Games 
  • At the end of Modern Warfare 2, the player is lying (apparently) mortally wounded on the ground with a knife in your chest, when their fingers twitch. After furiously pressing a button, they then proceed to pull the knife out of their own chest, and throw it into the Big Bad's eye.
  • It happens at the end of the childhood section of Fable II.
    • Justified in the fact as a hero, he(or she) can only die of old age, but was still busted up enough it took a long time to recover from.
  • Devil May Cry: Happens when Dante first acquires Alastor, as the sword impaled him to the ground but he got back up moments later.
  • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening:
    • After Vergil stabs him, Dante does this. He promptly gets stabbed again with his own sword.
    • After Vergil stabs him, Arkham does this, causing Lady to speak with him in his supposed final moments when she just found him previously unconscious on the floor.
  • The Supreme Hunter does this in [PROTOTYPE] after the first fight. Granted, he did regenerate from a puddle of his own remains, starting with the hand.
  • Cao Cao in Warriors Orochi 2. In Orochi's Story, the end of one of the levels has Orochi's forces whoopin' Cao Cao's ass. The cutscene afterwards shows Dian Wei carrying his body off the battlefield, making it look like he's dead...until they zoom in on his hand.
  • The Legend of Kyrandia uses it in a stinger at the end of the second game: Malcolm is freed from his statue form, but all we get to see is him twitching his finger.
  • Happens in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess as Ganondorf survives his attempted execution.
  • Get the reinforcement points high enough in Mass Effect 3 and choose the Destroy end. The last second will be of Shepard, who everyone thinks died, starting to move.
  • Asch's finger-twitch is one of the many, many things that makes the ending of Tales of the Abyss so damn confusing. Let's put it this way - despite the fact that his finger obviously twitches, this trope might be either played straight or subverted, because we don't know if he lives in the end or not.
  • A variation happens in the second Parasite Eve game: once Aya reaches the Akropolis Café, she sees a young woman there. She faints, but her hand twitches as she wakes up and transforms into a monster right before Aya's eyes.
  • Yakuza 6: The first sign that Haruka is shaking off her coma following a hit-and-run is her hand twitching when her son Haruto grabs it.

    Visual Novels 
  • In The Eden of Grisaia after the climactic showdown on Heath Oslo's floating fortress which ended with blowing the whole thing up the camera is left with a wide view of the ocean and nothing but a single arm, which twitches feebly before cutting to the credits. So, yes, Yuuji survived as shown in the afterstory, though they never explained how he survived the basically fatal wounds he already had let alone being right on top of a massive explosion and dropped in the ocean.

    Web Animation 
  • In the DEATH BATTLE! episode "Guts VS Dimitri", Dimitri has apparently managed to take down Guts. However, his Berserker Armor allows him to keep fighting through fatal wounds, which is shown as his fingers twitching, then curling around his sword's handle before he gets back up. That said, Guts doesn't stay revived for very long afterwards as he runs out of blood.


    Western Animation 
  • Subverted/averted in Justice League Unlimited. When Galatea, Supergirl's evil clone, is beaten by Supergirl by way of massive electrical shock, we see the fried Galatea on the floor as Supergirl and Steel walk away. Her fingers twitch ever so lightly. However, we never hear from her again nor do we learn her fate, so this might have been a Finger-Twitching Revival that was ignored by its creators, put there to use if they wanted. Unused, it could just be residue bodily response to the electricity.
    • Or it could have been just to imply the character is still alive, since the show was reluctant to kill humans or human-like characters on screen due to Animation Age Ghetto.
  • Ernie, the giant chicken mascot (and combat enemy to Peter Griffin) in Family Guy.
  • Ben in Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous revives this way in season 2 after falling from the monorail in season 1.
  • In The Simpsons first clip show, Homer is put into a coma because of Bart's prank. When Bart tearfully admits he pulled said prank, Homer starts to come to in this manner... only to go into outright absurdity as Homer seemingly revives because he's downright furious. In the seconds before he woke up, his heart-monitor began to display Bart's outline;
    Homer: Why you little-!
  • Averted in an episode of Transformers: Prime when The Decepticons discover the location of the Autobot base and blow it up.


Video Example(s):


Blonsky Awakens

Blonsky clenches his fist, signalling his imminent recovery.

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