Alice and Bob are eating together or sitting in the same boardroom for a business conference or something. Alice is in a playful mood, or she's of a mind to seduce Bob. At the same time, she doesn't want her intentions to be too obvious to the other people present, and verbally expressing herself directly to Bob is out of the question and/or would be inappropriate for the occasion. Bob and Alice are sitting directly across from each other at the table and this gives Alice the perfect opportunity.
Underneath the table, away from the eyes of others, she slips off one or both of her shoes and, using her feet, caresses Bob's legs. If she's feeling really adventurous, she'll go higher. Above the table, she can look nonchalant or indifferent so as to not arouse suspicion, or she can have a coy little smile as she watches Bob's reaction to her hidden antics, whether he's embarrassed or enjoying the attention she's giving him.
In fiction, this trope is usually invoked by a woman toward a man in order to express physical attraction that cannot otherwise be expressed for one reason or another; but the reverse (man to woman) is also possible. The Ho Yay version of this trope is not unheard of, either.
In these cases, the recipient's reaction/response may vary. They may be flustered or embarrassed, or may like the attention and even reciprocate. Alternately, they may pull away to show a lack of interest or, in extreme cases, make a move to stand up—if the instigator doesn't get kicked for their trouble.
It can also be done for comedic purposes, if the perpetrator ends up "serving" the wrong person underneath the table. In such a case, when the mistake is discovered, expect hilarity to ensue.
Compare Naughty Under the Table.
- More than one shoe commercial has used this trope. In at least one, the punchline is that the woman is playing footsie with a man in order to get him to take his shoes off, so she can steal them.
- Not exactly "under the table", but a commercial about prevention of toenail fungus depicts something similar. When a man and a woman return home from a night out, the woman suggests the man take his shoes off before doing so herself. He decides not to, mentioning something troubling him. The woman then comforts him, by patting his shod foot with her bare foot and telling him, "I've been in your shoes." After she then explains what to do about it, the couple put their feet together and the man then jokingly says, "We're sole-mates!"
- An old Italian commercial for Ollis socks depicts a man doing this with two women in a restaurant; one of whom is wearing the advertised socks and sneakers. She responds by taking off her shoes and dancing on the table in her socks. During this, the man pulls one of her socks off and dances with her, before kissing her bare foot.
- A commercial for Cranberry Almond Crunch once depicted a young couple sitting barefoot at a table, enjoying the cereal together. Towards the end, the man startles the woman by inching his feet towards hers, until he touches her toes with his own.
- There is a Nissan commercial that shows a woman doing this to her date. He does the same to her, with his shoe still on. Then, after seeing the car that the commercial is advertising, he begins stepping on her foot like a gas pedal - presumably fantasizing about driving the car, much to his date's confusion and discomfort.
- Altair: A Record of Battles: Caterina de Rossi uses this as a distraction technique during a diplomatic meeting with Chaste Hero Mahmut and her old flame. It works.
- A New Years' omake of Ayakashi Triangle has Suzu playing footsies with Matsuri while they share a kotatsu. Matsuri's aroused fidgeting suggest Suzu reached farther north, though it doesn't look like her legs could reach that far. Suzu coyly praises how nice kotatsu are in the winter until she wakes Shirogane and he bites her leg.
- In the Girls und Panzer: Ribbon Warrior official spin-off manga, while it's common for tank commanders to tap the driver's shoulders with their feet, protagonist Shizuka Tsuruki does this to her driver Rin Matsukaze without wearing any shoes. And by letting her pantyhose-covered toes caress her, as if the latter is her horse. Homoerotic Subtext ensues.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: In our introduction to Kaji he does this to Misato. She gives him a Death Glare.
- In kiss×sis, Keita and his naughty sister Riko do this to each other under the kotatsu. Ako, sadly, misses out on the fun.
- In SSSS.GRIDMAN, Akane does this to Anti in Episode 3. As he has No Social Skills, it doesn't register.
- Janey Slater did this to John Osterman, the day after they made love and before he became Dr. Manhattan, in Watchmen.
- In the autobiographical story "Footsy" (sic) from Weirdo #20, Robert Crumb, as a teenager, plays this game with several girls in class. Aside from the fetish aspect, this was a way for the shy, awkward young Crumb to have some form of intimacy with girls he'd never dare ask out.
- The Far Side has a cartoon with a squid oblivious to the fact that his wife and another squid are "playing tentaclies."
- In an earlier strip of the comic strip FoxTrot Peter's girlfriend Denise invites him over to Thanksgiving dinner with her family. During their giving thanks she announces to everyone that she is thankful for Peter, especially because he's doing this to her.
Denise's dad: Maybe I should have said silent prayer.
Denise: God would know if I wasn't honest.
Peter: *shoves his face in the mashed potatoes, in embarrassment*
Denise's mom: Peter dear, those potatoes are scalding hot!
- In a Spy vs. Spy comic, the two spies are invited to a tea party; where the hostess appears to do this to the black spy. The black spy then does the same to the hostess, much to her shock and discomfort. After she responds by slapping him and kicking him out, it turns out the white spy tricked him with a fake leg under the table.
- A heartwarming example occurs in chapter 9 of Advice and Trust: Asuka is struggling to stay calm and maintain a poker face during a NERV debriefing after her synch rate spiked to nearly 100% during a synch test when she made contact with her mother in Unit-02's core. Unable to openly comfort her, Shinji instead calms her nerves by brushing his foot against her leg.
- In the AllTheSpruceTrees' Zootopia fanfic The Business of Muzzles, Judy does this to get back at Nick for groping her on the train during winter (fox mating season) in the previous story A Fox for Thanksgiving.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! fanfic Dancing With The Moon, Mai pulls this on Ishizu during one of their tabletop Duel Monsters games, both to flirt with her and to distract her enough so as to lose the game. Ishizu, who's not used to such sensations, struggles with the urge to give Mai, uh, higher access; Mai, for her part, doesn't go any higher than Ishizu's knee.
- Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox: Naruto gets on the receiving end of this on two different occasions, both times during the story's Gaiden chapters. In the seventeenth Gaiden, Tanzaku Susuki attempts this while having him undergo her "Juice Roulette" challenge, though she backs down and apologizes when he informs her that he's already got someone who's expressed interest in him (that being Hinata). Then, in the twenty-third Gaiden, Hinata pulls it on Naruto while they're out having dinner together.
- In the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls fanfic Long Road to Friendship, Twilight Sparkle does this to Sunset Shimmer as a way to subtly let Sunset know that she's interested in her. It takes Sunset a while to figure it out, but she vows to "stomp her heart flat" if Twilight pursues it any further.
- In a number of Doctor Who fanfics, the Doctor has a fetish for River Song's feet (possibly as a result of her walking barefoot in the Tardis in "The Time of Angels"), with her teasing him with this trope, and him kissing her feet.
- During the scene in The Virgin Suicides when the neighbour comes over for dinner, three of the sisters are simultaneously trying to play footsie with him under the table.
- National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 parodied this. The by-the-book cop invites his Cowboy Cop partner to have dinner with his family. The wife starts playing footsie with the guest... and then the daughter gets in on it... and then the dog.
- Late Bloomers features the Ho Yay version.
- Done during a restaurant scene in the 1978 movie Once in Paris.
- The War of the Roses has this between Danny DeVito's character and a female guest during a dinner at the Roses' house.
- In Bad Company (2002), Chris Rock plays a man impersonating his recently-deceased FBI-affiliated twin brother. As part of an assignment, he meets up with his brother's girlfriend (played by Garcelle Beauvais), who believes he's his brother, and they have dinner together at a hotel, where she attempts to seduce him this way.
- Used in Ridicule to distract the protagonist and prevent him from thinking up a good joke.
- In Weekend at Bernie's, Bernie's lover does this to him while her boyfriend...a crime boss...sits beside them.
- Parodied in the Italian movie Fracchia contro Dracula where the female vampire attempts to seduce the titular character using this.... despite being at the opposite side of an extremely long dinner table. And she succeeded!
- In Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Marla Bloodstone presses her foot against Billy's crotch to seduce him.
- Kip and LaFawnduh in Napoleon Dynamite.
- In Casino Royale (1967), SMERSH attempts to destroy Sir James Bond's Celibate Hero image through almost certain temptation - at M's castle at a funeral dinner, two female agents flanking him drape their legs over his.
- American Sniper: Taya tries to do this to Kyle, but has difficulty trying to reach him with her pregnant belly and the large table.
- Lolita (1997). Dolores lets her foot brush against Humbert's while sitting between him and her mother on a swinging garden bench.
- In Malice, Nicole Kidman's character tries this on Bill Pullman's one but fails.
- The 1925 version and the 1934 version of The Merry Widow have little in common with each other or the source opera by Franz Lehar. But they both have Footsie Under The Table gags.
- The 1925 film, which already had an explicit foot fetish scene in which a perv stares at a bunch of ladies' feet, has another scene where two different men are sitting on opposite sides of the female lead, trying to romance her. Each of them start playing footsie with her. She promptly draws her feet up, causing them to play footsie with each other.
- In the 1934 film, it isn't shown onscreen, but apparently Capt. Danilo is playing it with Sonia in the nightclub.
Sonia: Now you're acting like a gentleman... [Beat] ...Please give me back my shoe.
- Amy and Russ at the end of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. They both still have their shoes on, though (kids' movie, you know).
- Played for maximum eroticism in The Face of Another, in which Mr. Okajima, wearing a latex mask that conceals his identity, seduces his own wife. He rubs his foot against her under the table at a club, and she spreads her legs apart to give him better access.
- Thymian is surprised in Diary of a Lost Girl when another inmate at the reformatory for "wayward women" does this to her at dinner. The other woman follows it up with a wink. Thymian, who is generally innocent, does not pursue matters.
- In the Malayalam Bollywood film Ulsaha Committee, Haritha Nair plays footsie with Chopra and Babumon to seduce them into handing over a case full of money. She succeeds, but it turns out she was a con artist.
- X2: X-Men United: Mystique uses the foot under the table approach while seducing a prison guard in a bar so she can later use him to free Magneto.
- Zak and Tiffany in The Singles 2nd Ward play footsie while everyone else is arguing during lunch.
- In The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill, Kissey does this to the Duke of Roxbury while he is eating as part of her routine to get the randy old goat in the mood.
- In the Telugu Bollywood film Krishnashtami when the main character meets the fiance of the man he's impersonating, she gives him a quick rub under the table followed by a wink.
- In the Bollywood film Sanjana Reddy a friend of the protagonists fiancee does this to him under the table to flirt with him, despite her saying before that she does not like to touch anyone.
- John Ford's Upstream, has the star boarder attempt a footsie under the table, but intercepted by the landlord after it was attempted. On the second attempt, he was lowering himself close to under the table, but his target was out of range.
- In Pretty Little Liars, Emily's mother sees Emily playing footsie with Maya under the table.
- Within the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey, the Heralds are shown to have a non-verbal code language devised to allow discreet conversations while apparently playing footsie with each other.
- In the Serge Storms novel Triggerfish Twist, Serge's date skips footsie and very conspicuously plants her foot in his lap, in the middle of a ritzy restaurant, while on a double date. When rebuffed, the date huffs up and retreats to the bathroom to do coke.
- In the erotic Edwardian novel The Temptations Of Cremorne, a spirited session of this between the heroine and a well-known rake at his club is the precursor to randy romp in one of the upstairs bedrooms.
- In the Icelandic Saga of Bósi and Herraud, Bósi initiates his one-night stand with a farmgirl of Bjarmaland by "touching her foot with his toe" at table, "and she did the same to him".
- In A Boy Made of Blocks, Alex's married coworkers Paul and Katie play footsie under their desks while checking paperwork.
- Brazilian author Luis Fernando Verissimo has a short story on a man noticing his friend's wife is doing this to him. He starts questioning on whether to reciprocate, pondering on all the consequences... and when he thinks of losing the great food that the friend cooks, he decides to swat the woman's foot away.
- Humboldt's Gift: Renata gets hold of Charlie's foot, puts it up against her crotch, and actually manages to rub herself to orgasm. Thaxter, sitting at the same table and nattering away, doesn't even notice.
- Almost Perfect: During biology class, Sage puts her feet in Logan's lap, and he gives her a foot rub.
- Episode 1x02 of How I Met Your Mother features the wrong-person footsie variation:
Barney: Oh, and Lily? That's my leg.
Lily: You waited five minutes to tell me that?
Barney: [smug look]
- "Chuck Versus the First Date" of Chuck features this twice during an interview montage. Once from Anna, and once from Jeff.
- Rules of Engagement: Russel and Timmy try this with their dates, and accidentally end up doing this with each other.
- Male-to-female version in the Melrose Place episode "Bitter Dinner." The female pulls away, however, as the male in question is her mother's boyfriend (and her own boyfriend is there at the table with them).
- The title character of The Jamie Foxx Show experiences this in one episode. The woman "administering" to him may be recognized as Vivian Banks.
- Star Trek: Enterprise: In the Season 2 episode "Stigma," Feezal Phlox flirts with Trip by playing footsie under the table in the mess hall.
- Suggested by Kira to the mobster in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Badda Bing Badda Bang."
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Band Candy," Xander and Willow partake in footsie under the desk at school. The awkward part is that they're both seeing other people.
- Todd does this in an episode of Outsourced, intending to stroke Tonya, but gets Asha instead. She's offended.
- Mariano from Mis Adorables Vecinos gets this done to him by a Dirty Old Woman, which catches both him and Ernesto offguard. "She put her foot... on your royal jewels?" indeed.
- In Battlestar Galactica (2003), Ellen Tigh does this to Lee Adama right in front of her husband and his father. He's hilariously terrified.
- Exploited in one episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt where Jacqueline concocts a scheme to expose her husband's affair in the middle of a dinner party. She coats the floor with white powder, seats her husband and the suspected mistress in front of each other and - knowing about her husband's foot fetish - expects the evidence to humiliate him when he stands up to deliver his toast. It doesn't work, as he wasn't having an affair (with that particular woman) after all. Instead, two businessmen can later be seen dusting white powder off their groins as their unsuspecting wives approach them.
- Peep Show:
- In "Seasonal Beatings" Mark's family visit for Christmas. On their arrival Mark's sister Sara flirts with Jeremy, and later starts rubbing her foot against his crotch. While he does have a physical reaction, the moment is decidedly unsexy and ultimately he turns down her offer of sex.
- Jeremy's storyline in Season 9 involves him sleeping with a guy and his girlfriend behind their backs. The affair(s) end up exposed when both of them simultaneously attempt this trope on him during a dinner party, causing their feet to touch.
- Schitt's Creek: A platonic example occurs in Season Five as Alexis performs her god-awful song "A Little Bit Alexis" in her community theatre audition. Alexis's mother and friend watch, feigning politeness, but playing footsie beneath the table to signal to each other they know how bad it is.
- Friends: Chandler goes on a date with a woman who slips her foot so far up his leg "you can count the change in my pocket". For added awkwardness she'd just revealed that she's already married and has another boyfriend.
- Strivein Dia Tou Arravonos (Turning Away Through Engagement): Dimitri and a trio of women engage in a game of footsie during a dinner party.
- Anger Management: On the episode "Charlie and Sean's Twisted Sister", Sean's sister Lauren attempts to flirt with him this way while in a restaurant.
- Younger: In the episode "Post Truth" Marylynne Keller rubs her foot against Charles Brooks' leg after suggesting that they should hook up.
- Better Call Saul: Male-to-female version. In "Cobbler" Jimmy tries this with Kim under the HHM boardroom table and she reciprocates. In the following episode, "Amarillo", they are back in the boardroom, with Jimmy being accused of soliciting clients. As he denies the accusation he tries again, but Kim realises he is lying to the board, and lets him know by angrily pulling her foot away.
- Done on One Life to Live while two couples have met to play cards at one's house. One is a pair of Insatiable Newlyweds, the other unmarried but having just consummated their relationship, so they're both in a "can't keep our hands off each other" phase of their relationship. Inevitably, one person ends up fondling the wrong person's foot, leaving them all laughing hysterically at the antics.
- In an episode of Full House, DJ is annoyed that she not only has to take Stephanie along on a date, but that her sister is blatantly smitten with him. At one point she pulls her aside, tells her to stop making eyes at her date, and adds, "By the way, he isn't the one you've been playing footsie with all night."
- You Me Her: Izzy gives Emma a foot job in the restaurant where they meet the first time, to her pleasant surprise. Emma does the same thing with Jack later.
- Debbie Gibson, in her "Shock Your Mama" video, is clearly seducing her boyfriend while playing footsie with him under the table.
- In Faust II (line 6342), Mephistopheles tells a brunette that she may do this trope now again (after he [supposedly] healed her foot).
- This is one of your options while on a restaurant date in The Sims.
- On Rachelís romantic path in Double Homework, there is a scene where Rachel invites the protagonist to dinner with her and her mom. The protagonist then does this with Rachel to make her feel better after her momís embarrassing comments about the two of them.
- On the title character's romantic path in Melody, this is shown several times between the couple.
- Happens a couple of times in S.S.D.D., when various females do this under the table to a male on the other end, often in a more mature way than usual. Case in point, the rabbit lady Heather uses her rather large feet to feel the fox Richard's girth, impressing her greatly. It may be worth noting that almost all characters in SSDD are Barefoot Cartoon Animals almost all of the time, so there's no need for the females in question to slip off their shoes.
- Done on Hey Arnold!, of all shows, in an episode where Arnold visits his Country Mouse cousin and Lila flirts with him the whole time. Turns out it's All Just a Dream.
- Bob's Burgers:
- In "Dr. Yap", Gayle aggressively does this to her brother-in-law Bob as part of her effort to steal him from her sister Linda, much to Bob's dismay.
- In "Every Which Way But Goose", Gretchen tries to play footsie with one of her dates, but she comes on too strong and ends up half-poking, half-kicking him in the crotch with her foot.
- Cindy gushes about playing footsie in the library with Jimmy in the The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius episode "Lady Sings the News."
- Implied in the Family Guy episode "Fecal Matters", Chris plays footsie with Lois at the breakfast table before being scolded for doing so.
- Invoked in the Wander over Yonder episode "The Date": while Sylvia (in disguise) is begrudgingly on a dinner date with Lord Hater, Wander hides under the table and plays footsie with him. Hater is clearly into it, which makes Sylvia even more confused.