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Hook-Handed Pianist

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"But despite my evil look
And my temper, and my hook
I've always yearned to be a concert pianist!"
Hook-Handed Thug, Tangled

Playing the piano is difficult enough with two hands: practicing common chords require great dexterity from the player's fingers, and plenty of piano music has the hands placed several octaves apart on the keyboard. It's hard to imagine how someone could achieve proficiency if they didn't have all ten fingers in working order. But fiction loves juxtaposition, and so in fiction you're likely to come across a one-handed pianist, a colorblind painter or a one-legged dancer. The one-handed pianist in particular is especially popular, and what is even more popular is to convey this character's one-handedness by having him wear a classical Hook Hand.

Compare to Deaf Composer, wherein the artist has lost or outright lacks the sense(s) most closely tied with their chosen discipline, and have difficulty experiencing their own work firsthand. This trope is usually Played for Laughs with the pianist shown creatively making up for their handicap, in which case it's likely be a visual gag in the background. Can also be Played for Drama if the pianist must re-learn how to play after being suffering a Career-Ending Injury, or if they started out with a seemingly Dream-Crushing Handicap (though in both cases, the one-handed pianist probably won't have a cartoonish Hook Hand).


Please note that in reality, there are one-handed pianists at all levels, few of whom make use of a Hook Hand. See the Real Life folder for examples.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • M78 Love and Peace, an OVA based on the Ultra Series, featuring chibi-fied versions of Ultramen and monsters, has chibi-Bemstar whose hands are hooks (yes, hands, as in both of them) playing the piano in the final orchestra scene. Just... don't think too hard about it.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Disney's version of Peter Pan, Captain Hook plays a melancholy rendition of his own leitmotiv on an old but fancy piano located on his ship whilst trying to convince Tinker Bell to betray Peter Pan.
  • In Disney's Tangled, one of the Inn Thugs has a large hook hand. His dream is to become a concert pianist. In the epilogue, he is shown to have succeeded, somehow.
  • In Shrek 2, the King visits a Bad-Guy Bar where Captain Hook is playing the piano and serenading the patrons.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Netlix A Series of Unfortunate Events series gives Count Olaf a comedic Villain Song. One of Olaf's usual minions, the Hook-Handed Man (whose two hands have been replaced by hooksnote ), plays the piano. Badly.
  • M*A*S*H: One episode had Charles treat a soldier who was a trained pianist, but his right hand was badly injured. Charles obtains sheet music written specifically for pianists with only a left hand.

  • In the original Dino Attack RPG, Finister recalls a scheme in which he performed a piano concert (with two Hook Hands!) while his henchmen stole goods from the audience. This trope was removed in the Director's Cut, although coincidentally 10273 Haunted House's lore reveals that it's actually canon for his present-day self.

  • The LEGO 18+ Creator set 10273 Haunted House features the Organ of Catarino in Manor von Barron, home of the LEGO Adventurers villain Baron Samuel von Barron. Although Baron von Barron has a Hook Hand, he ordered the custom-built organ and is rumored to have played TV-show theme songs on it.

    Real Life 
  • As the Hook Hand itself is an aberration long forgotten by real-world prostheticians, the bona fide Hook Handed Pianist is native to Fictionland only. However, real life does come pretty close to making this trope Truth in Television, with an astounding number of one-handed pianists around, The Other Wiki actually has a whole page dedicated to one-handed pianists, including:
    • Géza Zichy, who lost his right arm in a hunting accident during his teenage years, but went on to become a successful concert pianist and a composer.
    • João Carlos Martins, who lost the use of his right arm following an attack that damaged his skull and brain. When failed reconstructive surgery left him with even more damage to his hand, he continued to play piano using only his left hand and one finger on his right.


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