Bob and Alice are eating together or they're 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 apart 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 and Les Yay versions of this trope are not unheard of, either.
In these cases, the recipient's reaction/response may vary. He/She may be flustered or embarrassed, or may like the attention and even reciprocate. Alternately, he/she 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.
Often it's a very specific type of Fetish. When done in fictional settings, it's done for Author Appeal or Fanservice. If the perpetrator is a woman, it's sometimes done to emphasize that She's Got Legs.
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.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: In our introduction to Kaji he does this to Misato. She ignores him. (By this we mean 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 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.
- Shoukoku no Altair: Caterina de Rossi uses this as a distraction technique during a diplomatic meeting with Chaste Hero Mahmut and her old flame. It works.
- 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.
Denise's mom: (to Peter, after he shoves his face in the mashed potatoes in embarrassment) Peter dear, those potatoes are scalding hot!
- In a Spy vs. Spy comic, the two spies are invited to a tea party; in which the black spy feels what he thinks is the female host doing this to him. The black spy does the same to the host, much to her chagrin. 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.
- 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 My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic 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 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 Les 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, 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.
- 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.
- 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 Mayalam Bollywood film Ulsaha Committee, Haritha Nair plays footsie with Chopra and Apoorvan 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 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 Tim Dorsey 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".
- 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.
- 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 2.
- 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."