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Finger Wag

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That was naughty, Sarah.

Kimmi: Don't wave your finger in my face!
Alicia: I will always wave my finger in your face!

A common Take That! gesture where someone lifts their hand, and wags their index finger, sometimes with a "tsk tsk tsk" clicking of the tongue or an "ah, ah, ah". The gesture is usually to say "No", "No you don't", or, when accompanied by a Villainous Smirk, "Nice try, sucker." The latter often occurs when a character thinks they have their adversary dead to rights, and they have an easy path to victory - unfortunately, it doesn't work, whether they run out of ammo, or the "victim" anticipated the attack.

The Finger Wag is sometimes followed by a comeuppance of the wagger, when they've actually been defeated and just don't know it yet. Alternatively, it's often followed by a Bring It.

Not to be confused with Flipping the Bird. The Declarative Finger can also sometimes be used in these situations. Contrast Bring It.



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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • To emphasize Jason's newly acquired intelligence in Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, he only pretends to fall for a trap, and after spotting Ash's new spunky female sidekick nearby, does a finger wag towards her.
  • When Garfield is pretending to be a superhero, he announces that when he sees crime, he'll swoop in with a finger way and say "Naughty, naughty, naughty!"
  • When Captain America faces Lady Deathstrike in a movie theater full of hostages, he tries to trick her into hitting the door with her claws to release the hostages. She notices at the last second and does the finger wag to Cap, followed by saying "Nice try". Made extra effective by Deathstrike's fingers being about two feet long.

    Comic Strips 
  • The November 20, 1987 strip of Garfield has Garfield as the Caped Avenger wag his finger at the reader while saying "Naughty, naughty, naughty!"

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: In "The Coffee Shop", Penny shakes her finger scoldingly at Bolt for his bad behavior.

  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day—Sarah tries to stop the T-1000 by blasting it with a heavy gauge shotgun, but after she runs out of shells the T-1000 puts itself back together and wordlessly wags a finger at her.
  • Jurassic Park: When the main character tries to get Jurassic Park's (now hacked) systems, it displays an animation of Dennis Nedry wagging his finger and saying "Ah-ah-aah... you didn't say the magic word."
    Ray Arnold: PLEASE! Goddammit! I hate this hacker crap!
  • Brutal gang leader Bill the Butcher does this randomly to Boss Tweed in Gangs of New York after the two have an argument about Tweed helping Irish immigrants, for whom Bill has a violent hatred, to win their votes for Tammany Hall. An odd variation in that it's done quickly, with movement from the entire arm, making it seem more aggressive and declarative than mocking, and suiting Bill's eccentric yet domineering personality.
  • In the 1963 film Captain Sinbad, Sinbad is trying to retrieve the heart, but it is protected by a giant hand. He tries to trick it, only for the hand to open its fingers, then close it one by one until only the index finger remained, and wag it slowly.

  • The Franny K. Stein book Frantastic Voyage has Igor wag a finger at the television set Franny made for him when she tells him that he can't let commercials trick him into wanting stuff.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jamie Hyneman has used a disapproving finger wag a few times on MythBusters, usually to reinforce a bonus Don't Try This At Home, but on one occasion it was aimed at a cameraman who was trying to film Jamie changing into his wet suit.
  • In one episode of The Wire, Avon Barksdale realizes he's being tailed by the police. He turns around, drives past, rolls the window down and wags his finger at them.
  • The Professionals. In "Servant with Two Masters", Bodie knocks out a mook and throws him Bound and Gagged into the back of his van. Later Doyle comes along and sees the van rocking in a suspicious manner as the mook struggles to free himself. Thinking his partner is getting some on-the-job nookie, he waggles his finger through the tinted window saying, "Naughty, naughty!" only to be attacked by two more mooks who've come to rescue their colleague.
  • Fawlty Towers: Basil goes to great pains to remind Manuel to deny knowing about his win on the races, only to need Manuel to vouch for his win later on. Manuel responds to Basil's desperation and death glares with a shake of the head and a wag of the finger, as if to say "You no catch me out, Mr. Fawlty".
  • The Mandalorian: When Mando and the Child find Frog Lady bathing in a hot spring, the hungry Child reaches towards some frog eggs floating in the water. Mando sternly shoos him away with a finger wag and two "No!"s.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Part of Hulk Hogan's Five Moves of Doom. The routine basically looked like this: Punch... Hogan's body starts shaking... Punch... Hogan looks straight at his opponent... Punch... Hogan starts wagging his finger as if to say, "No more." This is swiftly followed up by a series of punches from Hogan, a Big Boot and finally the Leg Drop of Doom.
  • Towards the end of his WCW run in the late '90s, Chris Jericho employed a "bodyguard" named Ralphus. This fat, bald, near-toothless older man was as far from intimidating as you could hope for. A running gag employed by the two was allowing Jericho to be touched by an outreaching fan on his way to the ring, which would result in Jericho freaking out and siccing the portly Ralphus on the fan, with the entirety of his "fearsome" reprimand being a finger wag.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright (the player character), being a defense attorney whose clients all tend to look incredibly guilty at first glance, is constantly at the receiving end of condescending finger wags from the Von Karma family (and Edgeworth, who was raised in it) as they counter his arguments, making it all that more satisfying to slowly turn the case around and watch their composure break.
  • The finger wag is seen multiple times Final Fantasy VI, though given sprite limitations it's hard to say whether they're wagging their index finger or Flipping the Bird. Specifically:
    • Locke wags his finger to correct the old man who saves Terra at the beginning of the game when said old man addresses him as a "thief".
    • Edgar introduces himself to Terra in this manner while saying: "How rude of me to turn my back on a lady!"
  • Paper Mario: One of Mario's victory animations at the end of battle involves him tipping his hat and wagging his finger at the camera.
  • If you get the bright idea to shoot Verdugo with a rocket in Resident Evil 4, it sends him reeling, but he gets right back up and wags his finger at you.
  • Diablo II: Lord of Destruction: The incredibly nervous elder representing Sescheron has just delivered a quavering You Shall Not Pass. Baal pauses for a moment as though he's genuinely thinking of turning his Army of Doom back down the mountain to find some other place to pillage... then promptly vaporises the elder's innards. He wags his finger with the words "It appears your terms are not acceptable", cackles and lays waste to the entire town.
  • In Xenoblade, Metal Face wags his finger at the party after they make a fruitless attempt to damage him in their first encounter, serving as an early indicator that he's more intelligent than the other Mechon.
  • The move Metronome in Pokémon involves the user summoning a gloved hand that wags its finger, mimicking the movement of a metronome.
  • In Illbleed, Zodick the Hellhog will wag his finger if the player character takes damage in the battle against him the next time Zodick stands still.
  • In the Ace Attorney series, Miles Edgeworth does a variation of this whenever he is about to refute the defense's (or really anyone's) statement. It's a condescending gesture he picked up from his mentor, Von Karma, although after learning that Von Karma was the one who actually murdered his father and tried to pin it on him he does this less, perhaps as a way of distancing himself from his former mentor and showing that he has grown as an individual.

    Western Animation 
  • Shaun the Sheep: Bitzer the sheepdog will often wag his finger at naughty sheep as a warning to behave. They never listen.
  • In Feed the Kitty, the first Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot cartoon, Marc Anthony wags his finger at Pussyfoot when she misbehaves. Pussyfoot just swats at the finger, causing Marc Anthony to melt into a puddle of gush.
  • The King of the Hill episode, Hanky Panky, "Peggy's Sugarfoots" barbecue restaurant after renovation has a choo choo train reading "no substitutions" with Peggy's cardboard face and a wagging finger.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls, after Him turns everyone in Townsville against the girls - forcing them to beat their loved ones up - they warn him not to do it again, or else. His response is to wag his claw and say he never does the same thing twice.
    Him: Tsk, tsk, tsk! You girls underestimate me! I never give repeat performances!
  • Steven Universe: In "Jail Break", Garnet wags her finger at Jasper while singing "Stronger Than You", simultaneously delivering the biggest burn in the entire song.
    Garnet: I can see you hate the way we intermingle (wags finger) but I think you're just mad 'cause you're single!
  • Beast Wars: Optimus Primal and Dinobot wag their fingers at Inferno as Tigatron threatens him to not harm the wild.
  • Satan at the end of the Ren & Stimpy episode "Sven Hoek" gives one to Ren as the latter arrives in Hell: "So, you whizzed on the electric fence, didn't ya?"

    Real Life 
  • Dikembe Mutombo used to wag his finger towards opposing players at the end of his plays, which even led to an NBA rule change, making such taunts technical fouls (since it is blatantly unsportsmanlike conduct); Mutombo changed his finger wag from doing it in an opponent's face to gesturing towards the crowd.
  • The Delta Airlines inflight safety video includes a finger wag with the "no smoking" admonition.


Video Example(s):


Sonic Mania

Sonic wags his finger on the title screen.

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