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Handshake Substitute

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"Make an X with your arms! Now break it!"
Shuri (explaining the Wakandan greeting, serving as a weapon trigger), Black Panther

When two people meet formally for the first time, it is customary for them to shake hands. The handshake is initiated when the two hands touch, immediately. It is commonly done upon meeting, greeting, parting, offering congratulations, expressing gratitude, or completing an agreement. In sports or other competitive activities, it is also done as a sign of good sportsmanship. Its purpose is to convey trust, balance, and equality.

This trope is about when, instead of the usual handshake as a greeting gesture, the characters use a variation, each of which has its own connotations. Most of these variations are less formal than a handshake, but some retain the formality. While mostly a Western Media trope, it has found its way into eastern media on occasion.

Handshake substitutes that have their own tropes:

    open/close all folders 

Forearm Clasp

"You are my equal, sir, and I honor/greet/salute you."

This is the variation closest to an actual handshake, and is quite possibly its precursor. Instead of exchanging handgrips, the two clasp each others' forearms, just below the elbow. It is considered archaic and often 'knightly', the kind of greeting warriors of old gave each other, supposedly to prove they didn't have a knife up their sleeve.

    Films — Animation 
  • Seen in Quest for Camelot, when the Knights of the Round Table greet each other during their "Charming Singalong".
  • Stoick and Gobber exchange a forearm clasp in How to Train Your Dragon when they prepare to face the Green Death together.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 story "The Returned" when Thryn tells Tarikus that he is completely untainted, he then offers Tarikus his hand. Tarikus shakes it in the old way, palm to wrist.
  • Elaine Cunningham's Elfshadow describes this as a traditional greeting exchanged between Harpers in the Forgotten Realms.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: The "Secret Katroo Birthday Hi-Sign-and-Shake", only good people with birthdays may use this.
  • In Safehold, this is universally used instead of handshake on the eponymous planet.

    Live-Action TV 

    Professional Wrestling 


    Video Games 
  • In Mass Effect 2, this is how Wrex will greet Shepard if he's around, while happily shouting "My friend!"

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, this Is the Southern Water Tribe standard greeting.
  • Often seen in Gargoyles although sometimes the animation made it look like they were grabbing each other's wrists.
  • In the very last scene of Young Justice (prior to season three's announcement years later), Vandal Savage and Darkseid greet each other this way.
  • At least one episode of ThunderCats establishes that this was how it went back on the planet Thundera. ("Justice! Truth! Honor! Loyalty!")

Fist Bump

"Hey, man, how's it going?"
"Pretty cool, bro, pretty cool."

A less excitable version, this substitute is decidedly casual. It's somewhere in between a handshake and a high-five in meaning, combining greeting with familiarity and victory. Two people pump their fists against each other, but like with a too-strong grip in a handshake, bumping too hard is considered rude and needlessly confrontational. Bumping other parts of the arm together instead of the fist is also acceptable.

Colloquially known as the brofist, though this term has a relatively different significance. A brofist is better defined as a light touch of the fists or the knuckles, and it is used more frequently as a commemorative or celebratory gesture of one (or both) of them having scored/scoring.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Nanoha and Fate do the reassuring brofist ("sisfist"?) towards the end of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, just before they go separate ways (Nanoha, after the Cradle and Fate, to Scaglietti's bunker). They do it IN FLIGHT!
  • In Berserk, Owen greets Laban after he manages to rescue a city full of people by a bump of their raised forearms (see the Image Links page).
  • In the Danganronpa 3 OVA, Nagito and Fuyuhiko share a bump together.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto and Sasuke share one of these in the first opening sequence. Notably, these two characters never do so in canon, seldom being on good enough terms with one another.
    • Meanwhile, in the actual series, Killer Bee is fond of these.
  • Armbumps are the order of the day in Eyeshield 21.
  • Black*Star and the eponymous Soul Eater do this with the backs of their fists. Black*Star later does the same with Kilik (because he was wearing large gauntlets) and Soul does this to Kid (ho insists that they repeat the gesture with the opposite hands).
  • Gundam:
  • Tiger & Bunny: Mr. Legend and a young Kotetsu T. Kaburugi exchanged a fist bump after the former thwarted a bank robbery in which the latter was a hostage who awakened to his NEXT powers. Later, after Kotetsu becomes the hero Wild Tiger and helps a young boy who also awakened his NEXT powers, he gives that kid a fist bump as well.
  • In the fifth The Garden of Sinners movie, Enjou and Kokutou exchange a fistbump before splitting up to go rescue Shiki from Araya.
  • In High School D×D, Issei and Kiba do this before separating to go to their separate positions.
  • This is how Mao and Harisugawa say their hellos with each other in Harisugawa in Mirror World.
  • Senji offers one of these to Ganta after their fight in Deadman Wonderland.
  • Negi and Kotaro start doing this during Negima! Magister Negi Magi's Magic World arc. Only with supersonic punches that create shockwaves when they meet.
  • Ash does this with Charizard in Pokémon the Series: Black & White.
  • Shock and Barrel do a sideways version in The Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero's Journey.
  • In Ace of the Diamond, the Seidou players usually do a variation of this; namely bumping the back of their gloved hands, like a reverse high-five.
  • In Episode 6 of the Animated Adaptation of Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte, Endo and Kobayashi did a fist bump to celebrate Lieselotte successfully fights off the Witch of Yore.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In No Gods, Only Guns, during Gaige's interlude, she rebuilds the platform of a certain collection of geth into a hulking juggernaut of destruction, which they approve of. Shortly afterward, she dubs the new construction "Gethtrap", and her Robot Buddy Deathtrap shows its approval by raising a mechanical fist. Gethtrap bumps mechanical knuckles in what is dubbed a "robrofist."
  • As they're wearing boxing gloves, Kate and Sophie do this before heading to the ring for their bout in Well-Matched.

    Films — Animation 
  • Wreck-It Ralph: When Vanellope (as Moppet Girl's avatar) wins a race, and poses on the screen with the trophy in one arm and her other held high in a fist, Moppet Girl fist-bumps her. Earlier on, Vanellope jumps up to fist-bump Ralph... whose fist is nearly as big as her.
  • Big Hero 6:
    • Hiro and Tadashi frequently share a fist-bump with an added 'explosion' finisher. Hiro later teaches it to Baymax, who can't properly make an explosion noise and thus says "Batalatalatala" whenever he does one.
    • When Fred brings the others to his family's mansion, he greets his butler Heathcliff with a fist-bump, which Heathclif takes in stride, even when Baymax fist-bumps him as well
  • Mr. Peabody & Sherman: Among his many, many accomplishments, Mr. Peabody claims to have invented the fist-bump.
  • The Boss Baby likes a fist bump, while his older brother Tim prefers a handshake, sometimes resulting in Greeting Gesture Confusion.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: During the climactic battle in the collider, Miles and Gwen fist-bump each other after they both punch out Doc Ock at the same time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Conjoined: Stanley and Jerry do one after agreeing to have the latter date Alisa. However, the gloves they have on are covered in black goop, which causes their fists to get stuck together. They manage to pull them apart, and have a good laugh about it afterwards.
  • Jack Sparrow and Gibbs share a form of this (Gibbs' knuckles touch to the underside of Jack's palm) at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
  • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger Vs. Engine Sentai Go-onger: Takeru (Shinken Red) and Sosuke (Go-On Red) after becoming friends at the end of the movie.
  • Captain Marvelous of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger and Retsu Ichijouji, a.k.a. Space Sheriff Gavan, before the big brawl in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs. Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie. Marvelous just isn't the type to shake hands; in the traditional Super Sentai hand-off between the outgoing and incoming Red Rangers, rather than shaking hands with or saluting Red Buster, he throws a punch which Hiromu catches. Hiromu looks at his hand for a moment, then turns and bows to Marvelous, who's walking off into the metaphorical sunset.
  • Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing; when they see Benedick admiring a photo of Beatrice, confirming that their scheme to get him to realize that he was in love with her was working, Claudio and Don Pedro fist bump each other.
  • Nope: Ricky tells Emerald that the show Gordy's Home invented the exploding fist bump. This is played for horror and tragedy in a flashback later on when we see, after Gordy horrifically mauled three members of the cast, the ape spots Ricky hiding under a table and, no longer in a fight-or-flight rage, goes in for a fist bump with a blood-soaked hand. Ricky, apparently not knowing what else to do, slowly goes in to reciprocate, but Gordy is shot dead by police before the two touch.
  • Brad and Ralph do one as they say goodbye in The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again.
  • In Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, Ricky and a homeless man fist bump after the homeless man gives Ricky a banana.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fitz and Simmons would occasionally fist-bump or high-five each other, having known each other for all of their adult lives. Notably, in the Season 3 episode "Bouncing Back", when Simmons admits that she missed the easy closeness she shared with Fitz, the two of them agreed to start over and sealed their re-introduction with a fist-bump.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Kripke wants to do "fist bump" with Sheldon. But Sheldon doesn't get that and just grabs Kripke's fist and tries to shake hands.
  • Castle; In one episode where Beckett beats Castle at Scrabble, thus breaking a lengthy winning streak, Martha teases her son about Beckett's win while Beckett and Alexis fist-bump each other. Castle dejectedly mutters, "I saw that."
  • Cowboy Bebop (2021). In "Sad Clown A-Go-Go", Jet coaxes a reluctant Spike and Faye into a three-way fist bump before enacting The Plan to deal with the Villain of the Week.
  • Howie Mandel in Deal or No Deal always greeted contestants with a fist-bump. He has obsessive-compulsive disorder that manifests as misophobia (fear of contamination/germs), and as a result is too uncomfortable to shake hands or even touch other people, not even his own family.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor and companion Mickey Smith in "Doomsday" and "Journey's End". As the Doctor never has a problem hugging anyone in sight, this is presumably because Mickey is too manly to hug.
  • Liam McPoyle in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia seems to use fist bumps as a sign of solidarity, especially with Charlie, however all he ever does is raise a limp-wristed fist and say "Bump it.", to which Charlie always refuses.
  • Jax and Nate fist bump in the Legends of Tomorrow episode "Compromised" over a mutual apprecation of the works of Ian Fleming.
  • Adam Savage used elbow bumps to greet some volunteers involved in a MythBusters experiment. However, the experiment was to see if he could avoid "infecting" them with his fake cold — normally, he's a hand shaker.
  • On NCIS, after newcomer Nikki Jardine refuses to shake hands with anyone on account of being a germaphobe, the team settles for a light fist bump.
  • Person of Interest. In "The Perfect Mark", John Reese and Joss Carter share an impromptu fist-bump after agreeing how to split up the case. This is different for the normally stoic Reese, and shows how their relationship is warming up.
  • Gus and Shawn on Psych do this ALL THE TIME. Usually when they solve a case, or agree on some point, or just want to reaffirm their friendship. There's even a three-way fist bump in one episode.
  • Supernatural. In "Adventures In Babysitting", Dean offers a fist bump to a 14-year old girl he's been forced to work a case with. She's not impressed, saying no-one does that anymore. Subverted when Dean uses the fist bump to handcuff her to the steering wheel so she won't follow him into a demon nest. At the end of the episode however, she offers her own fist bump to Dean. In "Freaks and Geeks" they meet up again and Dean offers another fist bump, only to get kissed on the cheek instead.
  • Fairly ubiquitous in The Wire. In particular, when Avon is in prison, he and Stringer both fist-bump the plexiglass as a substitute.

  • For the Toa in BIONICLE, this is a standard greeting. They may have been doing it before it became popular in Real Life.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: After having rescued her brother, Ann waits outside Ryan's room. Despite Ryan feeling bad for the trouble he got himself into, Ann holds up for a fist bump as way of thanks for him finally finding the cure for her Entanglelitis as well being reunited.
  • In many of the games that take place after Street Fighter III, if Ryu and Ken are battling each other in a VS. match, they will fist bump each other before the start.
  • PlayStation Move Heroes features one of the most adorable brofists ever in its ending, between Ratchet and Clank.
  • In Psychonauts, Edgar goes to fist bump Raz, and Raz jumps back, thinking he's about to attack. He pauses and then returns the fist bump.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Roxas and Hayner exchange something similar to one of these early on in Kingdom Hearts II, meeting their forearms against each other as they hype up for the Struggle.
    • Sora and Riku do so as well after using Riku's Eternal Session Limit Break.
    • Amusingly, they apparently don't know it as 'fist bump', as indicated by Sora's visit to San Fransokyo in Kingdom Hearts III. It's Baymax who introduces them to the idea.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails:
    • Trails from Zero: A few of Lloyd's linked victory quotes has him bump fists with the other person.
    • Trails of Cold Steel: Rean gives Randy a fist bump in Cold Steel III after Class VII is asked to take care of the Ouroboros situation and help the others trapped at Mishelam.
    • Trails Into Reverie: Lloyd and Randy pull off one once they have a talk about Randy's failures after encouraging him.
  • Super Robot Wars:
  • In CreaVures, after Bitey helps Pokey to swing over a pit, the pair bump fists.
  • An absolutely heartbreaking example happens in Asura's Wrath. Yasha, Asura's rival, dies standing up, mid-punch, and before he Disappears into Light, Asura does this.
  • In River City Girls, Misako and Kyoko share a bump after having succeeded in finding Kunio and Riki just as they are taken to a date with them.
  • It takes a game and a half for brothers Asbel and Hubert to repair their relationship in Tales of Graces, but the brofist at the end is so worth it.
  • Some players in Mass Effect 3's multiplayer do this when playing as batarians. Since the batarians' heavy melee attack is a strong punch, and melee doesn't harm your teammates, two batarian players will occasionally punch each other during downtime to simulate the gesture. It's known as the "batarian brofist".
  • During Makoto's gag reel in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Valkenhayn (playing the role of Makoto's clumsy brother) claims he did this with another guy, except he missed his mark. The result:
    Makoto: You punched through a guy's head? WTF bro?!
  • In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, Master Hand and Crazy Hand exchange a brofist before the match against them begins. As they're a giant disembodied right and left hand, respectively, they're not physically capable of shaking hands or performing most of the other items on this page.
  • This is Kanji Tatsumi's Instant Kill attack in Persona 4: Arena. He tosses his opponent into the air before doing a fist bump with his Persona, Take-Mikazuchi. The opponent gets sandwiched in between the two on the way down.
  • Bayonetta 2 has Bayo fist-bump with Madama Butterfly... the several-stories tall demon who assists in combat by slamming her limbs through portals.
  • Borderlands:
    • A trailer for Borderlands 2 has fellow Sirens Lilith and Maya doing this.
    • In Tales from the Borderlands, Vaughn will offer one to Rhys by way of an apology after Rhys finds out that one of the villains offered Vaughn a deal if he double crossed Rhys. Should you take him up on it, the Loader Bot they're traveling on will offer his own metallic fist to them. Later on, after an extended period of separation, Vaughn offers Fiona a hug. You have the option of fist bumping him instead, which he'll happily accept, and causing a text pop up saying "Girls can be bros too!"
  • Sonic the Hedgehog does this often. It's to the point that Sonic Forces (which features several significant fist-bumps) literally has a song named "Fist Bump".
    Before I say goodbye to you, one more last fist-bump.
  • In Astalon: Tears of the Earth, if you unlocked Secret Character Bram, he does this with Arias in the end credits.
  • Jack in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin really likes his fist bumps, despite being in a stock medieval fantasy setting. He even has a fist bump with the dark elf.

    Web Comics 
  • Penny Arcade shows us how it's done.
  • While Jack and Max are fighting, they punch each others fists. Max interprets this as the greatest fist-bump ever.
  • Bicycle Boy: Darla attempts to fist bump Poet, but as he is often confused by handshakes, he messes it up.
  • Dead Winter features several instances of the girls sharing a bropound.
  • Homestuck: Dave Strider gives brofists a few times, usually to Li'l Cal (until the latter started to creep him out too much). Eridan and Feferi also give each other a fistbunp (note spelling) to symbolize their moirallegiance relationship.
  • DOUBLE K shows us how it's done.
  • Paranatural shows us how it's not done, stop it PJ what are you doing.
  • Questionable Content #2712: When May gets out of Robot Jail, she goes to see Dale, her only friend on the outside, and find that he and Marigold have become a couple since she last saw them. She offers a brofist—after all, last time they met she was just a virtual presence, and she's eager to use her new hands—but being none to pleased to see her drop by unannounced, he's not in the mood.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Megas XLR, Coop and Jamie combine this with a Dap Greeting and "The Horns" whenever a battle is won.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Ladybug and Cat Noir often do a fist bump as a celebration of having vanquished the Monster of the Week.
    "Pound it!"
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Since the ponies don't have hands, they do something that's somewhere between this and a high-five, which some fans have taken to calling the "brohoof". Pinkie Pie refers to it as a "hoof bump" in "A Friend in Deed".
    • Pegasi may instead slap each others' wings together.
  • The fist bump in the intro for Adventure Time is probably the most epic part, given the sound effect accompanying it.
  • Sealab 2021 gives us Respek Knuckles!!!
  • Ready Jet Go!: In "Detective Mindy", the kids put together pieces of evidence and discover that Mr. Peterson had knocked his wife's sunglasses down with his glass of water, and then Mrs. Peterson vacuumed them by mistake. Jet and Sean then proceed to do a fist bump.
  • Total Drama:
    • Chris and Justin fistbump in greeting when the latter arrives at Camp Wawanakwa in "Not So Happy Campers - Part 1".
    • Geoff and Duncan fistbump in "Basic Straining" when Courtney, despite her above-it-all attitude, leaves no doubt that's she's very much into Duncan.
    • Gwen and Bridgette fistbump in "X-treme Torture" in agreement to their bet that either Trent wrote the anonymous haiku for Gwen or Geoff wrote it for Bridgette.
    • Gwen and Duncan fistbump as a parting gesture when Duncan gets eliminated in "Are We There Yeti?".
    • Blaineley and Josh fistbump in anticipation of getting as much gossip and drama out of the Total Drama contestants as they can in "Celebrity Manhunt's TDA Reunion Show".
    • Dawn and Lightning fistbump after the Toxic Rats win the first challenge and earn themselves a quality speedboat for the second challenge in "Backstabbers Ahoy!"
  • Work It Out Wombats!: Malik and Zeke fist bump when they agree on doing a brother day in the episode "Brother Day."

    Real Life 
  • Boxers do it before the match, because their boxing gloves make handshaking practically impossible.
    • Batsmen in cricket acknowledge each other similarly, given their padded gloves are only marginally more dexterous than boxing gloves.
  • Barack Obama and his wife Michelle shared a fist bump during the 2008 US presidential election, notable mostly for getting Fox News host E. D. Hill in trouble (losing her daily show and later her contract with Fox) after she vocally construed it as a "terrorist fist jab".
  • This article, and the medical journal article linked in it, make a serious argument for fist-bumping instead of hand-shaking in hospitals, to reduce the transmission of bacteria.
    • The fist bump was encouraged accordingly during the West African Ebola outbreak to avoid spreading the virus.
    • During the Covid-19 pandemic, elbow-bumps have been encouraged for the same reason.

Dap Greeting

"You know who I am, right?"
"Yeah, I know."

A more 'fun' version. Though it can refer to many kinds of greetings involving hand contact, dap is best known as a complicated routine of shakes, slaps, snaps, and other contact that must be known completely by both parties involved. Often includes a Pound Hug.

A Secret Handshake usually takes this form.

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman Vol 2: A more casual version of the Amazonian salute, in which Amazons raise their fists above their heads and cross their arms at the wrists, is used as a greeting among them. For the greeting they clink their vambraces or bangles (depending on which they're wearing) together while crossing their wrists and hug.

    Films — Animation 
  • Big Hero 6: In addition to their regular fist bump, Tadashi and Hiro perform a more elaborate dap greeting after Hiro impresses the crowd at the tech-expo with his micro-bot demonstration.
  • In Turning Red, Mei does two variations with Miriam and Priya when she meets them in the hall.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • All over the place in 8 Mile.
  • Shaun and Milky do this in This Is England after the skinheads drive Shaun home.
  • Played for laughs in Undercover Brother, where the password for getting into the BROTHERHOOD headquarters is doing this with a mechanical arm.
  • Used several times between Peter and Ned in Spider-Man: Homecoming. At least one of which was done while Peter wasn't looking.
  • T'Challa and his younger sister Shuri share one in Black Panther.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the first two seasons of Boy Meets World Cory and Shawn had a full choreographed greeting routine.
  • Community: Troy and Abed famously share one where they slap their hands together with one hand and slap their chest with the other, twice. While reading Pierce's will it is revealed that Troy did not come up with the handshake, but instead found it online, thus destroying the "secret" nature of the handshake.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Steven Universe: Steven and Jamie share one in "Historical Friction" with both high-fiving and proclaim out "Acting!" to each other. He briefly had one with Lars where they would high-five each other in the chest.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "Call of the Cutie", the two snooty girls Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon do something like this. "Bump, bump, Sugarlump Rump!"
    • Twilight Sparkle and Princess Cadance have their own version: "Sunshine! Sunshine! Ladybugs awake! Clap your hooves and do a little shake!" It becomes a plot point when the fake Cadance doesn't recognize it, tipping Twilight off that something is wrong; the real Princess Cadance performs this to prove to Twilight that she's the real one.

    Real Life 
  • In the French suburbs, the staple teenager salute is a small sideways tap followed by a light fist bump.
  • Also common in America, though it's much more common among non-white males than any other group. It's also quite prevalent among junior high and high school girls. Often accompanied with a rhyme. Common in the Massachusetts area, though it very simple compared to other versions.

Peace Sign

"Hi! Aren't you happy? I'm happy!"

Falling steadily out of favor since 1960s ended, the Peace Sign is a leftover from the 'hippie days'. It involves making a V with one's index and middle finger while curling the remaining digits, and then holding the hand up near the shoulder. The "V for Victory" variation—in which the hand is held out triumphantly, similar to Giving Someone the Pointer Finger—is far more common in Anime than in western media.

Please note, if you are visiting England, always perform this gesture with the palm facing OUT — giving this sign with the palm facing towards yourself is the British equivalent of Flipping the Bird.

    Live-Action TV 
  • How I Met Your Mother: The first season episode "Game Night" showed that a young Barney, who was a hippie, used to salute this way.
    Suit: Dude, that your g-friend? All right, high five!
    Young Barney: Sorry, I only give high twos.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in "Past Tense, part II", Kira and O'Brien were greeted by hippies who offered them flowers and gave them the peace sign. They were rather bewildered.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Bro Fist, Fist Bump


Jason and Pillboi

Jason and Pillboi's epic friendship is given an extra epic hand gesture during an emotional moment.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / HandshakeSubstitute

Media sources: