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"Good Luck" Gesture

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Please let me win that pony!

There are several hand gestures that characters might use to express hope, wishing good luck or trying to avoid bad luck. It can be accompanied by idioms like "fingers crossed", "keep your fingers crossed for me" or "break a leg". It might indicate that the characters are superstitious, but frequently it's just a natural part of Body Language tropes. Mind that these hand gestures might vary cross-culturally.

    People cross their index finger and middle finger, sometimes on both hands. Generally it has the meaning of wishing for good luck or good fortune. Alternately, it may indicate intense hope or it can serve as anti-jinx measure. note  This gesture is visually similar to Lying Finger Cross, but as its meaning is positive, it's not hidden.
    Characters firmly clutch their thumb in the palm, and it can be done with both hands. It serves as wishing good luck for somebody else, or it expresses that a character asks the others to wish them exactly that.
    Thumbs Up is a common gestures made by extending the thumb upward. It has wildly different meanings based on culture or circumstance (OK, the number one, hitch-hiking, showing a direction, or "go fuck yourself"). It usually means approval or praise. Sometimes it's used as support or wishing good luck. Examples from fiction listed here should convey just the 'good luck' meaning.
    Fig sign is a gesture made with the hand and fingers curled and the thumb put between the middle and index fingers, or the middle and ring fingers, forming the fist so that the thumb partly pokes out. In some areas of the world, the gesture is considered a good luck charm; in others it's considered obscene.
    A superstitious gesture used to ensure that a good thing will continue to occur after it's been acknowledged. However, it's sometimes used after speaking of an unfortunate event, which is likely to happen, so that it does not actually occur.
    The forefingers and thumbs of both hands are pressed together to make a box shape. Another person has to "break" the box shape with a downward motion of the forefinger.

See also Prayer Is a Last Resort for a version with religious connotations.

Examples of Fingers Crossed:

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    Film — Animated 
  • In The Simpsons Movie, Homer hopes that Ned Flanders confesses to being homosexual. Rather intensely, too.
    Ned Flanders: The Good Lord is telling me to confess to something...
    Homer Simpson: [his fingers crossed] Gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay...

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Both The Parent Trap (1961) and The Parent Trap (1998) have a special gesture. They cross fingers (for luck) on both hands, with arms crossed (symbolizing the girls' Twin Switch). It was used much more in the original Hayley Mills film.
  • In Paycheck, after a subway train stops just shy of hitting Jennings, you can see that he's got his fingers crossed, presumably in a last-second plea for luck.
  • All the girls do this behind their backs in Madeline when an ambassador visits their boarding school, because they don't want him to purchase it. Pepito manages to scare him off with firecrackers.

  • In The Shining, the Torrances are driving up the mountain in their unreliable VW Bug. Danny is confident that the car will make it. Wendy isn't and keeps her fingers crossed, Danny glances down and sees through her sandals that she crossed her toes as well.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Friends, "The One Where Theyíre Up All Night": There is a beeping sound coming from the living room in Phoebe's apartment. She sleepily goes to investigate, crossing her fingers on both hands, saying: "Please donít be a space ship. Please donít be a space ship." Itís a broken smoke detector.
  • Horrible Histories, "Terrible Tudors": In the sketch "Queen for Nine Days", Lady Jane Grey writes a letter to Mary Tudor, asking her to recognize her as Queen. When she hands the letter to be sent, she crosses her fingers on one hand and says: "Fingers crossed!" She smiles very intensely.
  • The Big Bang Theory, "The Holographic Excitation": Stuart says to Raj that he tries to use Halloween parties as means of meeting women. He crosses fingers and says: "The ninth is the charm."
  • In "Slutty Pumpkin" of How I Met Your Mother, Lily crosses her fingers before the results of Halloween costume competition for couples are announced.
  • Exaggerated on an episode of I Love Lucy, where Lucy crosses all of her fingers, her arms, her legs, and even her eyes for good luck.
  • The opening credits of Out of This World (1987) show Dad crossing his fingers on both hands, standing near Maternity Ward when Evie is born.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine, "Hitchcock & Scully": Detectives Hitchcock and Scully cross their fingers on both hands and chant "desk duty, desk duty, desk duty" when Captain Holt announces that it was found out they did steal the money back in the 80's during the old case, but they used it to help someone who would end up a victim. They do get the desk duty.
  • In Stargate SG-1, in Redemption. alien new comer Jonas Quinn is told to cross his fingers for luck, he later does so by using both forefingers to create an X sign.

    Video Games 
  • Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII does this whenever she is worried things might go wrong. She does it a lot of times throughout the game.

    Web Video 
  • Lizzie of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries crosses fingers on both hands in episode "Q&A 1" when she says she hopes her younger sister Lydia will soon become a responsible woman.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Centurions episode "The Sky is on Fire", Crystal tells Lucy the orangutan to do this just before attempting to teleport a weapons system through atmospheric disturbance. Lucy holds the gesture behind her back.
  • In The Flintstones, sometimes Fred and Barney cross both their fingers and their toes for luck.
  • Futurama, "The Luck of the Fryrish": Fry crosses his fingers intensely when he hopes to win money in the horse race.
  • In The Smurfs (1981) episode "The Blue Plague", Papa Smurf tells the prince-turned-frog to cross his fingers for luck as he mixes up the poultice that will restore him to his human form. The prince tries to cross the fingers on his hand, but since he's got the hands of the frog, the fingers won't stay crossed. Papa Smurf laughs and excuses himself for that statement.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?": Homer crosses his fingers on both hands when he's expected to receive the First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.
      Homer: [crossing fingers] Please, please, please, please, please!
      Lisa: Dad, you know you won!
      Homer: Don't jinx it!
    • When kids of Springfield Elementary take a career aptitude test and are getting their results, Martin crosses his fingers and chants "Systems analyst" before getting the result of systems analyst.
    • In "Missionary: Impossible", Lisa Jr. crosses her fingers when she says she wants to give up gambling. She doesn't hide it behind her back so her wish is probably sincere and she really hopes to stop.
    • In "White Christmas Blues", Bart crosses his fingers on one hand and repeats that he wants plastic vomit as he is opening his present from Lisa. She got him a book instead.
  • Total Drama:
    • During the campfire ceremony in "If You Can't Take the Heat...", the last two contestants not to receive a marshmallow yet are Heather and Beth. As Chris builds up the tension who has to leave the island, Heather is calm while Beth shakes nervously and keeps her fingers crossed. It's Beth who gets eliminated.
    • While the Total Drama Jumbo Jet is seemingly at risk of crashing in "Anything Yukon Do, I Can Do Better", Lindsay keeps her fingers crossed for that not to happen.
    • As Team Victory sits out the tension preceding the reveal who is voted off in "Slap Slap Revolution", Leshawna, who could be the one voted off, keeps her fingers crossed and her eyes closed.
    • In "The Am-AH-Zon Race", after accidentally punching Alejandro in the face to the point he has to wear an eyepatch for a while, Owen is worried this will harm their friendship. He muses that it could still be okay if Alejandro likes getting punched in the face and crosses his fingers in hopes he does.
    • In "Picnic at Hanging Dork", Courtney keeps her fingers crossed while Chris works up the tension towards the tie-breaker fifth vote, which can either eliminate Courtney, which she doesn't want, or Gwen, which she does want. The fifth vote ends up going to Sierra, so an extra challenge is required to decide who gets the boot.
    • During a confessional in "Sweden Sour", Sierra mentions she's been married to Cody fourteen times in her head and twice on her online blog. As she crosses her fingers, she argues that her conviction will make it become real eventually.

Examples of Clutched Thumbs:

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer 40,000 Imperial troops sometimes "thumb their palms", a gesture that resembles the aquila, the double-headed eagle used as the Imperium's insignia.

Examples of Thumbs Up for Good Luck:

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Avengers: Endgame, Thor gives the Hulk a thumbs-up before he attempts to the Badass Fingersnap that could restore all the life destroyed by the previous snap.
  • At the end of Battleship, as Hopper goes to ask the Admiral for permission to marry his daughter, she gives him a thumbs up.
  • In Lemonade Joe, Mr Goodman gives Lemonade Joe a thumbs-up and a supportive look when he goes to a final show-down with Hogo Fogo.
  • At the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the T-800 gives John Conner and Sarah Conner a thumbs-up as he's being lowered into the molten steel.

  • In Monstrous Regiment, Sam Vimes gives the titular soliders a thumbs up for luck with their military hearing. Being from a foreign country, they aren't sure what it means; in Ankh-Morpork, it's considered a good luck gesture, but in Klatch it means "I hope your donkey explodes."

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Doctor gives Amy a double-thumbs up before she acts as a distraction in the Doctor Who episode "The Pandorica Opens", Amy gives a reluctant one of her own back.
  • Episode "The Execution" of 'Allo 'Allo! has an example which is probably a mix between thumbs-up for good luck and signalling that everything is ok, and crossed fingers gesture is used too. René is about to be shot by Germans, but he was promised that they would use wooden bullets. Hans however brought two boxes: one with those fake ones as well as real bullets, and Lt. Gruber accidentally took both boxes. However, Colonel and Captain smile at René and give him a supportive thumbs-up. They are shown to have crossed fingers behind their back, meaning they either wish the plan worked or that they acknowledge their reassurance was not sincere.
  • In Uchu Sentai Kyuranger, Lucky's Bond One-Liner to defeated monsters is "Good Luck!", complete with a thumbs-up.

    Video Games 
  • The shepherd in Oedipus in my Inventory is perpetually flashing a thumbs-up. Even when chucking baby Oedipus out a window, witnessing regicide, or standing at the River Styx after being killed.

Examples of Knocking On Wood:

  • The Terror. Someone speculates that as the monster hasn't attacked them for a while, maybe it's just lost interest and walked off. Given that all present are sailors, they immediately touch wood.

    Live-Action TV 
  • House of Cards (US): Frank Underwood has a habit of knocking on tables and counters with his wedding band for luck.

    Western Animation 
  • Used literally in the Muppet Babies episode "Bad Luck Bear" where Gonzo explains that knocking on wood is the only way to ward off bad luck creatures that inhabit wood.

Examples of Japanese Anti-jinx Measure:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Spirited Away:
    • Seen when Chihiro steps on an unlucky magical slug.
    • Used in a ridiculously adorable imitation by Yubaba's baby after touching the remains of the slug.