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Flipping the Bird

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He may be on fire, but YOU just got burned.
"FBI! Put your hands in the air! No, not one finger — your hands!"
Agent Sulky, The X Fools

"Flipping the Bird", or "the Finger" as it is also known (among other names), is the act of raising one's middle finger upwards while keeping the rest of the fingers bent at the first joint or curled tight into the palm of the hand. For added expression, the participant should extend the arm to its full length and raise slightly above the shoulder line, perform this movement in one sharp movement to add complete indignation to the gesture. Its name comes from the way the hand forms the shape of an upward-turned bird, but its obscenity comes from the way it resembles a phallus. For added effect, one can Dual Wield the gesture in what is sometimes called the "Double Deuce". Alternatively, it can be further emphasized by simultaneously slapping the other hand into the bicep, against the elbow joint.


To flip someone off is an insult in most of the Western World, and earliest references of it go all the way to Ancient Greek and Roman writings, where it is referred to as digitus impudicus (the "impudent digit"). Often directed to those in authority in an act of defiance, Flipping the Bird is an easy way to get across complicated emotions in one motion. Also used occasionally by people who are being photographed against their will, and want to ensure the resulting image won't be publishable. Frequently used toward another driver while at the wheel.

A known British variation of the gesture is the "two-finger salute", where the index finger is also raised, otherwise known as "making a V-Sign". Distinguished from the (inoffensive) "victory"/"peace" sign by the palm facing inward, away from the target, much as it does for the single-finger equivalent. A popular but apocryphal story about the origin of this version of the gesture involves the 1415 Battle of Agincourt, where the French allegedly boasted they would cut off the bow-fingers of every English longbowman they captured. When the English soundly beat them, their archers supposedly held up their still-intact fingers at the French in defiance. Sometimes the story ends with them shouting "Pluck Yew!" as they did so, denoting what they could still do to their bows. Supposedly this became the familiar expletive now implied by the gesture.note 


A variety of other gestures are considered obscene in various cultures around the world. Notable gestures include "the fig",note  which is vulgar in France, Greece, and some Near East countries, the bras d'honneur or "arm of honor", note  which is generally obscene where flipping the bird would be, and the "okay" gesture,note  which is offensive in Turkey, Spain, and some South American countries.

Even in cartoons where characters have Four-Fingered Hands, it's still possible to flip the bird by singularly elevating the finger between the index and pinky fingers, which is still censored on local and regular cable television. In addition, the gesture will never be referred to by its actual name nor explictly described, often subject to the Narrative Profanity Filter; when implied to occur, it will be referred to as an non-descript "rude gesture".

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  • In an ad for Wild Turkey Kentucky Bourbon, a group of guys is contemplating whether the woman at the end of the bar likes one of them when suddenly she flips them off. Apparently not, right? Turns out, in this bar, the finger means "order that person a Wild Turkey on the rocks." As reflected in the tagline, "Give 'em the bird."


    Comic Books 
  • The Boys:
    • The cover to the 26th issue shows the members of the G-Men giving each other the finger.
    • The 37th issue has Frenchie flip off his girlfriend Marie for leaving him for another man in his account of his origins.
    • The 38th issue features two Japanese scientists flipping the bird to their boss in the recounting of The Female's origins.
    • The 56th issue has A-Train and Jack from Jupiter flip off the Homelander behind his back.
  • Green Lantern: Rebirth: Guy Gardner flips off Mr. Terrific and Martian Manhunter as his Power Ring flies to him and lands on his middle finger. Word Of God confirms it was intentional, as they were surprised that the panel got approved.
  • In Gold Digger, the universe's equivalent of Lara Croft accidentally unleashes a Sealed Evil in a Can, also getting the creature's mind in her head. To take it out, she gets down to its body, then gets it to look at her, thus forcing it to see itself through her eyes, and turning them both to stone. So she decides the last thing either of them will see is her flipping it off.
  • Hellblazer: John Constantine (who used to be pictured above) knows the appropriate moment on the devil. However, many issues later, the Devil managed to give the finger back at John.
  • Hitman (1993): The second issue has Tommy give Pat the finger off-panel in response to the latter asking to be his kid sidekick.
  • Lula from the German comic Lula und Yankee does that at least once.
  • Hannah of Rat Queens uses these frequently on exits.
  • Izabel throws one in Saga after one of her illusions frightens off some cultists.
  • Electrocutioner does this to Blockbuster in Nightwing (Infinite Frontier) after Batgirl and Batwoman reveal that Blockbuster was behind the Hellhole Prison Electrocutioner was stuck in for two years, Brutale driving Electrocutioner away as he shouts a colorful choice of insults, all covered with a parody of the Comics Code Authority logo.

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman:
    • Batman: Assault on Arkham. Killer Frost and the Riddler are cornered by the Special Crimes Unit, who commands the two to return to their cells. After a pause, Killer Frost flips them the bird, causing them to open fire on the two.
    • Batman vs. Two-Face has a scene where Robin is implied to flip off Batman while under the effects of the Evil Extract Formula and transformed into a Two-Faced being like Two-Face. We don't see the gesture because Batman's body obscures Robin's hand from view, but the raising of his arm and what he says when he makes the gesture gives a good hint.
      Robin: I got your antidote right here!
  • In the movie-game tie in Dead Space: Downfall Alissa gives an interesting salute to the Captain after ordering to not help to the colonists.
  • Done ever so epically by the animated Adam Sandler to his caretaker as a hidden insult in Eight Crazy Nights.
    Whitey: Now I assume you've done your pre-game warm-ups.
    Davey Stone: No, let me do them right now. [holds up his fists, raises and lowers his middle fingers] One, two, three, four...
    Whitey: [oblivious] That's good, but don't forget your hammies.
  • The Australian animated film Go to Hell! (1997). After helping the Israelites escape across the Red Sea, Red (aka Satan) flips a huge bird to his father G.D. (aka God) with the help of a holographic projector.
  • In the "Harry Canyon" segment from Heavy Metal, Harry at one point flips off some prostitutes at the police station.
  • Injustice (2021). Plastic Man is trying to break Mr. Terrific out of prison when Cyborg appears on a wallscreen and says there's no way he can break into the cell. Plastic Man turns to flip the surveillance camera the bird, showing he's morphed his hand into a skeleton key.
  • Fritz the Cat does this in The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat by flipping off a telephone after the operator hangs upon him. Much like Homer Simpson, he only has four fingers.
  • In The Simpsons Movie, Homer flips off the Angry Mob with both hands as he escapes down a sinkhole. Then he gets stuck and tries to use the fingers to dig himself out. This wasn't digitized on the FX airings of the movie.
  • In Superman Unbound, Lois Lane gives Brainiac both birds as he leans over to look into the bottle containing Metropolis. Even at a fraction of an inch, high Lois isn't intimidated by anyone. He pauses in his Evil Gloating long enough to give her a Fascinating Eyebrow before turning away.


    Music Videos 
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    • In the video "White & Nerdy" the black gangstas he wishes to hang out with giving him the finger (although it is blurred out for censorship reasons).
    • He does it himself in the video for "Amish Paradise" (and, like in "White & Nerdy," is also blurred out for censorship reasons).
  • Ed Robertson gives a blurred one following a thumbs-up to some customers in Barenaked Ladies' "Pinch Me".
  • An uncensored one was visible from Joan Jett for a split second in "I Love Rock 'n Roll".
    • She does this twice in the "Bad Reputation" video.
  • One of the teens in Smashing Pumpkins' "1979" throws a couple from atop a hill near the beginning.
  • Mentioned in "Piece of Me" by Britney Spears (and shown in the video).
  • In the music video of "California Gurls" a gummy bear of all things gives Katy Perry the finger though censored with pixellation.
  • "The Clash" by Backyard Babies has an amusing video trick: the finger ends in the guitarist.

  • The Bugle has a regular feature where listeners' Great Bird-Flipping Stories are readout.
  • In episode 11 of Pokémon World Tour: United, between losing her Gym Battle with Kent, arguing with Roxy over her assumptions of her and Cobalt's relationship, and a sheer barrage of rock-based Incredibly Lame Puns, Rose is in a foul mood. So it's no surprise when she eventually flips off the cameras broadcasting Cobalt's battle with Kent out of annoyance. What is surprising is when Scramble, her Togepi, sees the gesture, looks at the little flippers it has instead of hands, and cheerfully tries to imitate it. Kent remarks that, while he does not condone that act, it was pretty adorable.

  • In the John Finnemore's Double Acts episode "The Goliath Window", Mark the sailor, explaining how he always knows what his phantom limb is doing to Luke the parson, tells him that "it is now making a signal most inappropriate for a parson's parlour". A clearly irritated Luke simply responds "Really? Is it this one, or this one?"

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Zia gives a salty middle finger to Simon's back as he staunchly keeps to himself and refuses to join her group.
    • Fellow punk Nadine gives one of her proudest middle fingers to Finn after one of his usual bouts of jerkassery.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Angry Marines (probably NSFW), one of the many Warhammer 40,000 memes, do this all the time to everything and everyone. Just look at the first image.
  • The page image for Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution (which is also the book's back cover image) depicts a pyrokinetic flipping the bird while blowing up a car.
    • A captured esper flips double birds at a Shop agent in one of the book's short stories.
    • The singer of Tomorrow's Starlight is depicted flipping off a crowd with both hands.
    • One character gets flipped off by his dead friend.
  • Realms of Arcania has a stealth version, at least in the German original. There is an Assassins Guild called the Fellowship of Tsa's Second Finger . People easily disregard the fact, thet when you talk of fingers, the thumb doesn't necessarily count.

  • In productions of the musical Spring Awakening, the final poses of "Totally Fucked" usually involve several characters flipping the bird.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ace Attorney Turner Grey flips off the player when he pushes up his glasses in his normal pose. In Japan though, it's not offensive, though it was overlooked in the American translation.

    Web Animation 
  • Battle for Dream Island: In BFDI 1a, Pin tells Leafy that only one person can win the island. She holds up a finger for extra emphasis on the "one," but it wasn't the finger you would expect.
    Pin: Only one of us can win.
    Leafy: Um, Pin, wrong finger.
    Pin: Woops, heheh...
  • In the DEATH BATTLE! between Goku Black and Reverse Flash, Thawne flips off Goku Black after having just destroyed Black's Time Ring, sealing the body-snatching god's fate. He then phases out of that timeline while one of his alternate selves proceeds to finish Black off.
  • Homestar Runner: This is a bit of a Running Gag on the website, only done by characters without fingers. This is best showcased in the Strong Bad Email "the bird". Strong Bad is fond of giving people the two-handed "double deuce"... despite having boxing gloves for hands. Pom Pom likes the "single deuce". And then Homestar Runner manages to flip Strong Bad the bird without any arms. Unknowingly, at that!
  • In one episode of If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device the Emperor shapes the Astronomicon, the massive psychic beacon powered by the daily sacrifice of a thousand screaming psychic children that guides every ship of the Imperium, to flip the bird.
  • Lobo (Webseries):
    • Darlene Spritzer does this to Lobo as she dumps him and takes his bike.
    • Lobo does this to Whutzat after his arm was cut off.
  • B-14 does this to Little Prolie in Lucky Day Forever
  • McBusters: The third short does a unique take on a send-up to a hypothetical Ghostbusters 3 logo by having the burger-headed ghost behind the prohibited symbol simply raise his middle finger near the hand he's making a peace sign with.
  • Mokey's Show: In the Halloween Episode, Mokey does this to Mommy when she tells him and his friends that they're too old to go trick-or-treating.
    Mokey: Mommy? I think you are blind.
    Mommy: BLIND?! I am not blind Mokey!
    Mokey: Yes you are, Mommy. You can't see.
    Mommy: SEE?!?! SEE WHAT MOKEY?!
    Mokey: (flipping the bird) THIS, BETCH!!!
  • In the Team Service Announcement Pop it, Don't Drop it, The Medic of Team Fortress 2 survives an ambush by the entire RED team, by using his Ubercharge just in time. How does he celebrate his survival? By flipping them off. With both hands. While wearing sunglasses. Surrounded by dancing Scouts and Heavies. While "Dreaming a Dream" by Captain Jack plays. This pose was later modded as a taunt to replace the "Meet the Medic" taunt. It got so popular that Valve actually increased the price of the MtM taunt because so many people were buying it to replace it.
  • In the season finale of Red vs. Blue: Singularity, Genkins does a double one as he jumps into black hole - with added Evil Laugh! (it's blurred in the Youtube release, reportedly at Three Four Three Studios' request)
  • Turnabout Storm: Gilda delivers some of these in her furious final rant towards Phoenix, effectively turning the courtroom's mood on its head. Considering she's a part eagle, there's a good chance there's a pun in there somewhere.

    Web Original 
  • Fuck You and Your H2 is a site dedicated entirely to pictures of people flipping off Hummer H2 drivers.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-1884-B, the apparent twin sister of a mild-mannered woman with no hands, is a mass of hands with attitude.
      Dr. Selman: How would you describe your captivity in the Circus Of The Disquieting?
      SCP-1884-B: (SCP-1884-B raises the middle finger of every hand not being used to support its weight)
    • SCP-261 is a vending machine that takes yen and gives bizarre edible articles in return. At one point they test giving it a counterfeit 500 yen coin. The machine produces a bag of candy similar to gummi bears, but shaped like hands with extended middle fingers. Made of potassium cyanide.
  • An "artist's rendering" of a proposed replacement for the World Trade Center began circulating shortly after the events of 9/11/01.
  • "VMS Version 3," a parody of DEC service bulletins which began circulating on Usenet around 1983, repeatedly directs anyone complaining about the VMS operating system's features or lack thereof to "see figure 1," with Figure 1 being ASCII Art of a raised middle finger.
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Merry 5: The More, the Merrier (Part A):
      The sound of a small motor made me aware of a video camera in the room as I sat and took care of some overdue business. I scrunched down, and watched the camera watch me. Not wanting to miss my chance at giving the giving the wrong impression I flipped the camera the bird. Then I said, "fucking perverts."
      I did get a slight giggle when the camera abruptly pointed to the opposite corner. Though I can’t say for certain, I was fairly sure the motor was not that fast.note 
    • A Little R&R (Part 1):
      "Because you’re so much older than me," I teased with a grin. "Oh wait... You barely look like you’re out of diapers..."
      "Bite me, kid," Alyss responded as she flipped me the bird, which made everyone start to laugh.
  • Gary: Landlord of the Flies: This post briefly mentions Gary flipping off Gabe and his friend Mat when they come by to retrieve some of Gabe's belongings.

Alternative Title(s): Flip The Bird


Stewie Flips Off Lois

Stewie wants to die giving Lois the finger.

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