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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 
  • In Baccano!!, Vino does this in episode 13.
  • Black Magician does this several times in Yu-Gi-Oh!, usually after pulling the "Mystic Box" trick.
  • A favorite of Muhammad Avdol, especially when he's turning the tables on an enemy.
  • Femio corrects Duck this way in Princess Tutu, while saying "Non, non!"
  • Slayers: This is part of Xellos' catchphrase: Wagging his finger while saying, " a secret!"
  • Kid Buu from Dragon Ball Z.
  • Naruto: Kabuto does this to Sasuke after he dodges the latter's Susanoo arrow.
  • Durarara!!: Izaya does this at Anri while taunting her.

  • 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... it's a bit surreal.
  • When Garfield is pretending to be a superhero, he announces that when he sees crime, he'll swoop in with one of these 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.

  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The T-1000, as seen in the Trope image, when Sarah Connor's attempt to knock him into the vat of molten iron failed. His triumph was short-lived when the T-800 used a grenade launcher to knock him in.
  • Jurassic Park: The hacked computer system 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!
  • Kung Fu Hustle. Landlady's move.
  • The Mummy Returns. Imhotep does this to Alex O'Connell.
  • Superman II. Lex Luthor tries to double-cross Superman; but Superman knows better, and finger-wags Lex after outwitting him.
  • In Twilight Zone: The Movie, the gremlin gives one of these to John Lithgow's character, before disappearing into the sky.
  • Way of the Dragon:
  • Fright Night (1985). Jerry does this to both Peter Vincent and Charlie Brewster.
  • 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.
  • In The Streetfighter, Bayan issues one to Sarai during his "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Ghost Rider has the titular character do this to a cop after resetting his jaw, which the cop had just dislocated by whacking him with his billyclub.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: Loki does this to Skurge when he arrives far too late to warn him about Thor's arrival but still tries to announce Thor anyway.
    Loki: You had one job. Just the one!

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jamie Hyneman has used the disapproving version a few times on MythBusters. Usually it's reinforcing a bonus Don't Try This At Home, but on one occasion it was aimed at a MB cameraman who was trying to film Jamie changing into his wet suit.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Enrique the ID forger was fond of this gesture.
  • Babu from Seinfeld. "You bad man, Jerry! You very bad man!"
  • Stephen Colbert's Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger
  • Siskel & Ebert would have a "Wagging Finger of Shame" for films that wouldn't make themselves available for review before their release.
  • 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.
  • Survivor The Australian Outback: Dear God, Alicia Calaway will never get to live that one down.
  • 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: the "I know noth-ing" scene. Basil goes to great pains to remind Manuel to deny knowing about his win on the races, only to need Manuel to vouch for said 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".

    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.
  • Claudio Castagnoli gave one to Matt Sydal for trying, and failing to hip toss him at ROH Driven.
  • Given to Randy Orton by a smirking Mark Henry when the latter proves to be a bit too big for the former's RKO.
  • During his first contracted Ring of Honor match Lio Rush gave this gesture to world champion Jay Lethal after rolling past a cartwheel dropkick setup. Lethal, for his part, instead hit Rush with the move from the other way only to himself get the proper version from Rush.
  • 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 a 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.

    Tabletop Games 

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, Demyx does this to Sora and company in the cutscene before the fight against him. They respond to this by drawing their weapons.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic wags his finger on the title screens of most of the Mega Drive era games. It's his signature pose.
    • It's how he finishes his Dynamic Entry late in the Subspace Emissary mode in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
  • Manfred von Karma in the Ace Attorney series. And his daughter, Franziska, and his pupil, Edgeworth. Must run in the family.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Kefka does this occasionally when he has the upper hand. Some of the other characters do as well. However, given the limitations of 16-bit graphics, it looks like they're wagging a different finger.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Mario does this himself in Paper Mario as one of his victory animations at the end of a battle.
  • If you get the bright idea to shoot Verdugo with a rocket in Resident Evil 4 it sends him reeling, but it gets right back up and does this to you. It becomes a lot scarier when it hits you the thing isn't stupid...
  • In Resident Evil 5, Wesker manages to pull this off if you try to shoot him, practically in the exact same way as the T-1000.
  • Baal in the opening cinematic of 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 issues this trope along with the words "It appears your terms are not acceptable", cackles and lays waste to the entire town. A good time was had by all!
  • In Deadly Premonition, the Raincoat Killer taunts you all the time with this.
  • In a shout-out to the Jurassic Park example, in TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, an animation of Crow pops up and does this when you try to look at his files.
  • Another shout-out example of this is Fei Long's taunt in Street Fighter Alpha 3 and (Super) Street Fighter IV. Being him a Bruce Lee Clone, it's only natural that the aforementioned Way of the Dragon example would be incorporated to him at some point.
  • The Sector X boss in Star Fox 64 does this when it suddenly comes back to life after being defeated for the first time.
  • In Xenoblade, Metal Face does one after the party makes a fruitless attempt to damage him in their first encounter with him. This serves as an early indicator that he's more intelligent than the other Mechon.
  • The move Metronome in Pokémon involves the user doing this. In fact, in Japanese it's known as Finger Wag, a far more sensible and fitting name.
  • 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. It is done in the exact same pose as with Sonic as listed above.

    Web Animation 
  • A winged Rinoa does this to her allied fighters in Monty Oum's Dead Fantasy II.

  • In Off-White, Albert does this with both hands at some hunters that were threatening him and Seven. It works.

    Western Animation 
  • There's one with Bugs Bunny doing the Finger Wag to a gangster pretending to be a baby.
    Bugs: Ah, ah, ah, Finster. Mustn't play with the dirty money!
  • Shaun The Sheep: Bitzer the sheepdog will often Finger Wag at naughty sheep as a warning to behave. It never sticks.
  • In Feed the Kitty, the first Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot cartoon, Marc Anthony wags his finger at Pussyfoot when he (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" barbeque 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:
    Him: (CLAW wag) Tsk, tsk, tsk! You girls underestimate me! I never give repeat performances!
  • In the Steven Universe-episode "Jailbreak", Garnet does this towards Jasper during her Badass Boast song "Stronger Than You". She does this while simultaneously delivering perhaps 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 give a Finger Wag to Inferno as Tigatron threatens him to not harm the wild.
  • Satan at the end of the Ren & Stimpy episode "Sven Hoek": "So, you whizzed on the electric fence, didn't ya?"

    Real Life 
  • It's a very common gesture from parents to children.
  • Dikembe Mutombo, which even led to an NBA rule change. The NBA made it a technical foul if a player made a taunting gesture to another player; 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.
  • Infamously done in a speech by Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam in which, among other things, he declared that the rebels were all either tribalists acting up or Islamist terrorists.


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