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Handsplay in Theater

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Not that she minds.

Alice and Bob go to the theater, and there, thanks to the dark...

  • Version A: The feeling is reciprocal already, so the two start grabbing hands. Especially in front of a romantic movie.
  • Version B: Bob (because the one doing the first step is Always Male) makes an attempt to lay his hand on Alice's hand/put his arm around her shoulders. She can protest loudly (slap him sometimes) and even go back home suddenly, or let him do while blushing. Romantic movies help that too.
  • Version C: Thanks to Bob's shyness, hands contact was totally accidental, as both reach for popcorn for instance. It fits especially with couples who think they are Like Brother and Sister.

If Bob has pervert's instincts he may try bosom or knee instead. And if Alice likes it, it can go further with a kiss or even more.

Probably a Undead Horse Trope: Frequent but often subverted:

  • Bob grabs the wrong hand. (Add bonus points if it's a huge, manly guy. Extra points if he seems to like it.)
  • The lights went on before he has the time to do it.
  • Friends came with and start to mock them, as Moment Killer.
  • The popcorn/coke glass is suddenly spilled to kill the attempt. When it's coke, Alice frequently quits to go to the restroom (and not come back before the end of movie) while Bob is thinking he's an idiot (especially if his clumsiness ruined Alice's favorite clothes).
  • Bob makes a mistake and grabs his Abhorrent Admirer instead.
  • He watches the Romantic False Lead embrace Alice. Those two things can overlap to add tension, or in the contrary lead to Pair the Spares.
  • It can be Alice's point of view, and she can discover that it's somebody else (the big guy for instance, or a serial murderer like in Scream 2) that is embracing her.
  • Sometimes at the beginning of scenes, arguments can happen for who gets to sit next to Alice (if she came with more than one boy)

Overlaps with Unresolved Sexual Tension and Will They or Won't They? Often a first step in a Relationship Upgrade. Sister trope to Yawn and Reach, except that for reach the excuse Pass the Popcorn is more used in theaters. A variant can happen in front of a TV, just like in this Bra/Goten fan art.


Type A

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Elma's OL Diary spin-off manga of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Kanna and Saikawa hold hands while watching a film together after Kanna assumes that the film is scaring Saikawa (when in reality, she saw Elma kissing Kanna on the cheek due to the harmony dragon assuming that making out in theaters is mandatory and thus doing Type B to those she's sitting next to).

    Comic Books 
  • Robin (1993): Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown go to a Sci-Fi movie for their first date where Steph puts her arm over Tim's shoulders and at one point the two hold hands.

    Fan Works 

  • Dear Diary: Prima and Opal watch a play together in Castelia City with the rest of their team and end up holding hands.

  • Lolita: Humbert is sitting between Lolita and Mrs. Haze, her mother, at a drive-in movie (Hammer's Curse Of Frankenstein). At a scary scene, both women grab each of Humbert's hands. He withdraws his hand from Mrs. Haze's and places it over Lolita's. Another jolt, Lolita puts her other hand over his, then Mrs. Haze puts her hand on hers, feels around... then everyone withdraws their hands.

    Live-Action TV 
  • DJ and her boyfriend in Full House, except an employee comes and breaks their kissing moment.
  • Angel. While attending the ballet, Wesley and Gunn are sitting on either side of Winifred Burkle, whom both are interested in. Each slowly reach over to touch her (causing the audience to anticipate either a very startled Winifred or a hilarious accidental-gay joke) when she suddenly says that Angel and Cordy have been gone too long and they'd better go look for them.

  • Vampire Kisses: Raven and Alexander's first kiss occurs in front of a television.

    Visual Novels 
  • If the protagonist of Double Homework chooses to see a horror movie with Amy, he has the option of putting his hand on her thigh. If he does, he ends up making out with her.
  • On Becca’s romantic path in Melody, the protagonist takes Becca out on a movie date. Since they have already fooled around and come close to having sex, they are both quite comfortable with holding hands and kissing in their seats.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 

Type B


    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Elma's OL Diary spin-off manga of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Elma, who is seeing a movie in a theater in the first time, is informed by one of her co-workers of this practice and, assuming that it's mandatory, attempts to do this to those that she's sitting next to, resulting in her kissing Kanna on the cheek and having an awkward moment when she tries to hold Fafnir's hand.
  • Ranma ½: When Ranma has to pretend to be in love with Kuno (long story), this trope gets lampshaded.
    Kuno: But, my love, holding hands in a theater will be the proof of our love!
    Ranma: Let's not push it.

    Asian Animation 
  • In the Lamput episode "Wig" from Season 3, Fat Doc mistakes Slim Doc for the opposite gender when Lamput shapeshifts himself to look like long, flowing hair on the latter's head, resulting in Fat Doc falling in love with him and taking him to various activities. When the two are in a movie theater, Fat Doc feings yawning so he can stretch his arm around Slim Doc. Slim notices, the two stare awkwardly at each other for a few seconds, and Slim happily wraps his own around Fat (out of platonic friendship in his case, since his feminine "hairdo" and Fat Doc's crush never occur to him).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted on the season one Opening Credits of Happy Days: Richie & Potsie are out with a couple of girls at the movies, the boys on the outside and the girls on the inside. Richie & Potsie both go for this, but end up touching hands themselves, and pull back.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "The Thing Lay Still", Lestat de Lioncourt puts his arm around Louis de Pointe du Lac at the cinema, which is a bold move in 1939 because homosexuality was illegal.
  • Averted in episode "The Fight" in Saved by the Bell. Slater and a new girl in school go to a theater, but Zack has a crush on her too. So he pays a lady to pretend she's Slater's mom, and to sit between them in order to kill any attempt.

  • Genderflipped in Book of the Stars. In a movie theater, young wizard Robin Penmarch feels his friend Amber try to grab his hand, but he doesn't dare to respond and she gives up. That time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Summer of '42: Hermie at the theater grabs what he supposes to be Aggie's bosom, but it was only her arm. At the very same time Oscy gets the "Stop it!" reaction with Miriam.

    Visual Novels 
  • Amnesia: Memories: The second time the heroine and Ikki go to the movies, he nonchalantly holds her hand before the movie starts. Since the heroine is still missing a lot of her memories, and isn't too sure about her feelings for him at that point, she doesn't react much to it, but also doesn't let go.
  • Defied in Melody when the protagonist and title character see a rock opera together. The protagonist has a chance to put his hand on Melody’s arm, and the player has a choice for whether to do it or not. However, it’s a false choice, as the protagonist doesn’t go through with it in either case, not wanting to be a creep.

    Western Animation 
  • As Told by Ginger, episode "Dare I, Darren?": Ginger ends up at the movies sitting between her crush Ian and her friend Darren, who she's started to think she might have feelings for. During a scary moment, she accidentally grabs both their hands. (And Ian's on a date with the Alpha Bitch at the time...)
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender, subverted in "The Ember Island Players": Aang certainly intended to do so, but Zuko came and sat next to Katara. Zutarians supposed they do so later like in this fanart.

Type C


    Anime & Manga 
  • Hayate the Combat Butler: During a few chapters of the manga, Hayate and Hinagiku wind up going to the movies together. Although it was the SC Rangers that set them up and provided the tickets, each of them had their own reasons for wanting it to go well (Hayate to ensure that Hina didn't hate him for the trouble he caused her, and Hina to show Hayate her feminine side/that she loved him). After a truly bizarre way getting there they sit in the theater and accidentally touch hands on the arm rest. The narration then promptly lampshades that the two of them only just realized it was a date.

    Films — Animation 
  • Chicken Little, at the very end with Chicken Little and Abby accidentally touching hands while reaching for the same popcorn bucket and watching the movie about their story.

    Visual Novels 
  • The protagonist and title character of Melody go to see a music-themed movie at one point. Since they kissed in the heat of the moment less than a week before, but decided that it was nothing more than friendly, they are both shy about making any moves, but there is a possibility that they accidentally hold hands when they reach for the popcorn at the same time.

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible:
    • In the season 2 episode "Grudge Match", Ron accidentally touches Zita,the theater check-out girl, while taking popcorn.
    • In "Exchange", Monique and Kim have the "I sit next to him" argument.