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How Many Fingers?

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Harry: [holding up three fingers] How many fingers am I holding up, Marv?
Marv: [seeing double after getting crowned by a brick] Mmmhmmmmm... eight?

A Stock Phrase used to evaluate a person's mental capabilities or vision when they have experienced head trauma or lost their glasses. A person will ask them "How many fingers am I holding up?" They can receive a wide variety of responses, such as:

  • The patient is seeing double.
  • The evaluator is not holding up any fingers and the patient calls them out on it.
  • The patient says something nonsensical and then falls down again.
  • The patient is perfectly fine, but lacks the ability to count the fingers due to blindness or innumeracy.
  • The patient gets snarky, asking how many fingers they're holding up.

Generally, this is not a reliable nor scientific means of accurately accessing the extent of a patient's injuries.

Not to be confused with how many fingers a person has— that's Four-Fingered Hands. If a character is an amputee who is missing fingers, or from a species with more fingers than humans, this trope may be played for laughs.


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  • Happened in an old McDonald's commercial, when a young girl has just had to get glasses. Afterwards, when the family is at McDonald's afterwards, her brother waves two french fries in front of her face and asks how many she sees. The girl snatches the fries out of his hand, replies "none", then eats them.
  • Appears in a Dr. Pepper commercial, between a boxer and his coach.
    Coach: How many fingers am I holding up?
    Boxer: Twenty-three!
  • A variation in a Snickers candy bar commercial, where a football player who got his bell rung is benched:
    Coach: Who am I?
    Player: You're the coach.
    Coach: Who are you?
    Player: (beat; low, threatening voice) I'm Batman.

    Anime & Manga 
  • During the "Attempte Suicide" chapter of Franken Fran, after one character is shot to pieces, he comes to in Fran's operating room. His first sight is Fran, holding up a finger and a flashlight, asking him "How many fingers?" before seeing if his eyes follow the light.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Diamond is Unbreakable: After Josuke heals Koichi from a near-fatal wound, he does this. Unusually, he uses both hands. (Two fingers on one, three fingers on the other; Koichi correctly answers "Five".)
    • Steel Ball Run: Following the fight with Ringo Roadagain, Gyro presents another of his gags by asking Johnny how many fingers he's holding up. Johnny replies with four, then Gyro quickly swifts his hand to make it a zero.
  • One scene in Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro has Neuro asking this to Yako, while he has his hand morphed into some sort of Eldritch Abomination which makes answering the question rather difficult.
  • One of the legends from Blefuscu, the island where The Voynich Hotel resides, tells of the time when Tenebrarum was shot with an arrow covered in witch-killing poison; her little sister held up twelve fingers in one hand, asking such a question. While she answered correctly, it was ultimately useless, as Tenebrarum died and was buried in the same place where the hotel stands today.

    Comic Books 
  • Melaka Fray is being trained by the demon Urkonn. He starts by throwing a girder at her face. Cut to Fray lying on the ground.
    Urkonn: (kneeling over her) How many claws am I holding up?
    Fray: You hib me ib the face wib a whole girder!
    Urkonn: You were meant to duck.

    Comic Strips 
  • On Foxtrot, Andy asks Roger how his ballgame with Peter went. ("Ball game?" "Peter?") Andy realizes that Roger's out of it, and asks him how many fingers she's holding up ("Fingers?"), confirming that he got beaned with the ball.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Bleach fic Winter War, Ise Nanao tries this on Orihime after Orihime overexerts her power by rejecting Ichigo's Hollow's control over him.
    "How many fingers am I holding up?" Ise asked Orihime, very nicely. She waved her hand in front of Orihime.
    "Lots and lots," Orihime said. She kept on trying to add two and two together and getting the wrong answer. "But it's very pretty," she added, in case she'd hurt Ise's feelings.
  • In Divided Rainbow, since Rarity the unicorn has hooves instead of hands, she levitates some stones up and asks Lero to blink the number she's holding up.
  • Used quite famously in HetaOni, during the scene where England goes blind in one of the loops.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Joey asks a Heroic BSODing Yugi this question with a closed hand, and takes his lack of response as a correct answer.
    "How many fingers am I holding up? *Beat* that's right, zero! Man, you're good at this game."
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: In "No Wonder Cure", Ami uses this to test someone's eyes after they've been restored:
    Mercury answered. "Can you see me properly?" she asked Ulrich. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
    "F-four, your Majesty."
    She smiled, nodding once. "Good! Now, what about depth perception? Um, what could I use..."
  • Simon does this to a balance-impaired Wash in FireflyFever”, after he takes a fall. He answers “two and a half?”. He’s not very sick aside from being light headed and sneezing, but Kaylee gets very sick.
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, young Witch Rebecka Smith-Rhodes is roped into providing medical cover at a sporting event. Her first patient is a cricketer who has not grasped that it's better to catch the ball in your hands,rather than on your head.
    How many fingers am I holding up? (beat) How many hands am I holding up?

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Boss Baby: Family Business, Baby Tina asks Tim how many fingers she's holding up after he faints upon learning she is a Boss Baby and can talk. He answers "Thursday?"
  • In Finding Nemo, overprotective dad Marlin lacks fingers to hold up, so he asks a dazed Nemo, "How many stripes do I have?" Nemo replies "Three" without even looking; Marlin counts his own stripes and is surprised to realize that's the correct answer.
  • In Hercules, there's a variation, in that the person asking the question isn't very good with numbers:
    Phil: Kid, kid, kid, how many horns do you see?
    Herc: Six...?
    Phil: Eh, close enough. Let's get you cleaned up.
  • In Ice Age: Collision Course, there's yet another variation.
    Manny: How many tusks do I have?
    Crash: Tree...
    Manny: Three?
    Crash: No. TREE!
    A tree behind them falls down.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Asked in the first Alvin and the Chipmunks movie when it's discovered that Simon has terrible eyesight. Simon's less-than-comforting response prompts Dave to get him his trademark Nerd Glasses.
    Dave: How many fingers am I holding up?
    Simon: Four. No no no no... Eight? Counting your thumb? Wait, wait, wait... Six. Final answer is six.
  • From the first The Mighty Ducks movie, after Karp blocks a shot with his head:
    Coach Bombay: Karp, How many fingers am I holding up?
    Peter: He wouldn't know that anyway.
    Bombay: Shut up, Peter.
  • After McCoy is arrested for Spock-related reasons in Star Trek III, Kirk asks him this question while doing the Vulcan salute.
    McCoy: That's not very damn funny.
  • In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, the bad guys did this after Marv was hit by a brick. Harry was holding up two fingers (plus a thumb). Marv was suffering double vision (as we saw from his own viewpoint), but even got that answer wrong by saying "eight".
  • The Comic Book Man:
    Dr. Von Bon Bon: Let me try somesing...[holds up four fingers] How many fingers am I holding up?
    Josh: [a word balloon appears: "Four fingers."]
    Dr. Von Bon Bon: Good. [Holds up two fingers] And now how many fingers?
    Josh: [a word balloon appears: "Two fingers."]
    Dr. Von Bon Bon: Good! [Opens his hand] And now how many? [Before Josh can answer, he slaps him hard in the face and begins to shake him] SNAP OUT OF IT!
  • The Emperor's New Clothes (2001)
    [Napoleon Bonaparte slips and hits his head on the cobblestones]
    Truchaut: Sergeant! Sergeant Lenormand, are you all right? Can you hear me? [no response]
    Dr. Lambert: Listen to me. How many fingers can you see? [no response]
    Truchaut: What is your name?
    Napoleon Bonaparte: Emperor Napoleon.
  • Maximum Overdrive:
    Bill Robinson: Look here, how many fingers you see, huh? Eight? Twelve?
    Duncan: Okay, so I got a little double vision, but it's clearin' up, Bill.
  • Porridge:
    [Godber bangs his head on the goalpost]
    Mackay: [holds up one finger] How many fingers am I holding up?
    Godber: You can't fool me sir, five.
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil:
    Dave: [doesn't hold up any fingers] How many fingers am I holding up in front of your eyes right now?
    Wally: Three!
    Dave: That's good. That's pretty good, considering that he's blind.
  • Little Man Tate:
    Jane: Damon? How many fingers?
    Damon: Orange.
  • In Bruce Almighty, Bruce tests God's omniscience by asking "how many fingers am I holding up" with his hands behind his back, rapidly changing them as God answers correctly. Fed up, Bruce decides to cheat by holding up seven fingers, five on his right hand and two on his left, and then quickly folding up the two on his left hand as God answers. Bruce then holds out his right hand triumphantly... only to notice that God instantaneously altered the anatomy of his hand to include two extra fingers to validate his answer.
  • In Just Like Heaven, a skeptical character is told by his friend that there's a ghost in the room with them. As proof, he puts his hand behind his back where only the ghost can see it and asks his friend how many fingers the ghost says she sees. After a few correct answers, he tries a different "gesture," leading the ghost to comment, "He's flipping me off."
  • My Cousin Vinny: Vinny uses this to test a witness's eyesight, but it goes wrong due to the judge Comically Missing the Point:
    Vinny: How far away were the defendants when you saw them enterin' the Sac-o-Suds?
    Mrs. Riley: About 100 feet.
    [Vinny measures out 50 feet, then stands 50 feet away and holds up two fingers]
    Vinny: All right, this is 50 feet. That's half the distance. How many fingers am I holding up?
    Judge: Let the record show that the counselor is holding up 2 fingers.
  • In the high school football movie Varsity Blues, one of the beefier linemen is knocked cold, leading to the following exchange (paraphrased, feel free to correct).
    Trainer: How many fingers am I holding up?
    Lineman: Uh...
    Quarterback: No, no, it's gotta be true-false. Billy-bob, the man is holding up some fingers, true or false?
    Lineman: Uh...true?
    Quarterback: He's fine.
  • A Kid in King Arthur's Court: "How many fingers am I holding up?" "That's a bit off topic right now." * faints* .
  • In Patch Adams, a fellow psychaiatric patient Arthur Mendelson comes up to everybody (including Patch), holding up four fingers and asking how many. When Patch responds "Four?", shouts "No! Look beyond the fingers!" Patch, staring long at his fingers, lets his vision blur until he responds "Eight?", satisfying Arthur enormously.
  • In Wedding Crashers, Zach asks this to Jeremy, but wiggles his fingers around.
  • Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey:
    Ted: Ted, if you're really [future] me, how many fingers am I about to hold up?
    Evil Robot Ted: Three.
    Ted: Whoa!
  • In The Three Stooges, Moe would often ask this question before giving his signature Eye Poke.
  • In The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Steve asks this to Ned after he is knocked out by pirates.
    Steve: Ned, how many fingers am I holdin' up?
    Ned: I don't know. That's not my job. Too many to tell. How many fingers—
    Steve: He's gonna be just fine.
  • The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland: Elmo passes out after Oscar sneezes into his blanket and throws it into his trash can. One character asks Elmo the trope, but before he could answer...
    The Count: Two. There are two fingers. Hahaha! [Thunder Clap]
  • In McFarland, USA, Coach White (an assistant coach) does this early in the movie, holding a kid out of the game for answering "September?" It causes friction between him and the head coach.
  • Ghost in the Shell (2017). Major does the Flipping the Bird version when Batou gets his cybernetic eyes installed.

  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • In Making Money, Igor asks this from Hubert Turvy. Hubert replies "thirteen".
      Igor:(putting the jar away) Very good, thur! Well done!
    • In Monstrous Regiment, after getting this from an Igor, Maladict replies "You know, that is something an Igor should never say."
    • Men at Arms:
      • Carrot: How many fingers am I holding up, sir?
        Vimes: Bleargh...
        Carrot: How many hands then?
        Vimes: Uhh... four?
      • Cuddy asks this of Detritus, several times. Only once does he ask it to see if Detritus is hurt, though; the rest of the time he’s either making fun of him or trying to teach him to count.
    • In Witches Abroad, when a farmhouse is dropped on Nanny Ogg's head, forcing her hat down over her eyes:
      Granny: Gytha? How many fingers am I holding up?
      Nanny: Wha' fingers? 'S'all gone dark.
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four: Played for Horror in the torture scene, where Inner Party member O'Brien holds up four fingers and, using Electric Torture, forces Winston to see five.
    'How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?'
    'And if the party says that it is not four but five — then how many?'
    The word ended in a gasp of pain. The needle of the dial had shot up to fifty-five.
  • From one of Katherine Applegate's Chatham Island books in response to a blind character being perceptive.
    Nina: You're not really blind at all are you? How many fingers am I holding up?
    Ben: One. The middle one. That was too easy.
  • Catch-22: Yossarian, claiming to see everything twice, was subjected to this test. Interestingly, he responded "two" (as in two fingers) regardless of how many fingers were held up. The doctors conclude that he does, indeed, see everything twice. He was subsequently considered cured when he responded "one" instead, in the same way.
  • In Shanna Swendson's Enchanted, Inc., how Owen tests Katie for a concussion.
  • In John C. Wright's Count To A Trillion, the doctor tries this on Menelaus, who answers "Fifteen" without even looking up from what he's doing.
  • Godmother Elena does this in One Good Knight, to confirm that Andie really does need that cure-a-concussion spell.
  • In The Name of the Wind, when Kvothe is asked this on his University entrance exam, it's a trick question: the asker is holding up extra fingers on the hand that's under the table. (Hence the correct answer is "somewhere between one and six.")
  • During the football game in Mash, Duke and Hawkeye team up to take the opposing team's star player out of the game with a nasty double tackle. When his coach asks him the classic question after he is carried off the field, the answer is "fifteen".
  • The Dresden Files: Bob asks this of Harry Dresden after Harry's voodoo doll of Chicago blows up while Harry was using it. Bob is a spirit of intellect inhabiting a skull.
  • Duty Calls: Alluded to when Cain decides to check himself out of the hospital after suffering a concussion.
    "I'd advise against it," the chirugeon had told me, holding up an indeterminate number of blurry fingers in front of my eyes.
  • Saving Max: After Jonas is injured, Nurse Kreng says, "Now, look at my fingers. How many do you see?" Jonas is The Unintelligible and can't answer her.
  • Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi: Lan Wangji falls right asleep after a cup of wine, then later wakes up and uncharacteristically hits Wen Ning in a childish manner while wearing his shoes on opposite feet. Suspicious, Wei Wuxian holds up two fingers to check if his companion is sober. Lan Wangji responds by using both of his hands to grab Wei Wuxian's fingers, much to the latter's bewilderment.
  • The Roosevelt: In Carry the Ocean, Emmet shows off his peripheral vision by correctly counting Jeremey's fingers without looking directly at them.
  • In Almost Perfect, Logan arrives at Laura's dorm room with a huge goose egg from getting punched by Sage's dad, who blames him for her getting beaten up. Laura's roommate Ebony, a nursing student, asks him, "How many fingers do you see?" Logan answers, "Three."
  • The Speed of Sound: In The Sound of Echoes, Caitlin talks to her husband Peter on the phone while spying on him and their kids through security cameras. When he realizes she can see him, he says, "How many fingers am I holding up?" Caitlin says, "Three. Don't you dare hold up one."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Scrubs, "My Musical," they did this in song:
    JD: How many fingers do you see?
    Elliot: Call 911 emergency.
  • Used hilariously in Whose Line Is It Anyway? after Ryan Stiles accidentally rams his head into the neon sign on Drew Carey's desk and breaks it.
    Drew: How many fingers am I holding up? (waves fingers frantically)
    Ryan: (pauses for a second) Four?
    Drew: Close enough.
    Ryan: How about me? (gives the finger)
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman:
    Dr. Quinn: Horace, are you all right?
    Jake: How many fingers?
    Horace: Chocolate.
    Dr. Quinn: I think he's finished for the day.
  • Married... with Children:
    Al: Oh my God! Those women have brainwashed him. We'll have to deprogram him! [holds up two fingers] Quick, how many fingers am I holding up? [pokes Jefferson in the eyes]
    Jefferson: Whoa, thanks Al. They almost had me that time.
  • The West Wing episode "Evidence of Things Not Seen".
    [The White House has just been fired upon]
    President Josiah Bartlet: Will, are you alright? How many fingers am I holding up?
    Will Bailey: Who's Will, sir?
  • In Friends, when Monica is trying to put eyedrops in Rachel's eyes but Rachel is not making it easy for her:
    Monica: (not bothering to hold up any fingers) How many fingers am I holding up?
    Rachel: (obviously has her eyes squeezed shut) Umm... four?
    Monica: Oh my God, I was thinking four!
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!
    • Which is a reference to Nineteen Eighty-Four below, both Winston and Picard admit to seeing five at the end.
  • The Non Sequitur, *Thud* variation occurs in Police Squad!, when The Champ is beaten in a boxing match.
    Coach: Champ!? How many fingers do you see?
    The Champ: Thursday... (collapses)
  • Played with in Teen Wolf during a brutal lacrosse game. The coach asks a player how many fingers while holding up two. The player answers four. The coach's response is to tell him to say two and then pronounces him fit to carry on playing.
  • Humorously subverted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Riley asks this of the groggy Graham. He replies, "Seventeen", in reference to Spike, Hostile 17, who was the guy who hit him.
  • Angel: In "A Hole in the World", Spike does this sarcastically when he gets fed up with Drogyn, who hates being asked questions since he Cannot Tell a Lie.
    "Why do you think we're here?" (Drogyn moves closer) ""And what's your favourite colour, what's your favourite song, who's the goalkeeper for Manchester Utd and how many fingers am I holding up?" (gives him a two-fingered salute)
  • In an episode of Father Ted, Ted uses this trope in an effort to see how (relatively) sober Jack is.note  Jack amazingly gives the right answer, but the camera then cuts to his POV, to show a satanic figure waving a collection of glowing fingers all roughly the size of baseball bats.
  • Salute Your Shorts
    Telly: How many fingers am I holding up?
    Michael: How many fingers am I holding up?
  • Non-head-trauma-related example in the Doctor Who episode "Planet of the Dead": The Doctor uses this to test a woman's psychic abilities by holding his hand behind his back and asking how many fingers. The woman answers correctly, The Doctor raises another finger without saying anything, and she answers correctly again.
  • Chrissy turns this trope into one of her Dumb Blonde moments on Three's Company after hitting her head:
    Jack: Chrissy, focus in. (holds up two fingers) How many fingers do you see?
    Chrissy: Five.
    Jack and Janet: Five?!
    Chrissy: (nods) Two in a V and three folded down.
    Jack: It's okay, she's normal.
  • RoboCop: Prime Directives includes a scene with the titular character as the victim and a surviving researcher as the asker.
  • Used by Lisbon on a female suspect on an episode of The Mentalist. There was no response— the suspect had been poisoned, passed out and died shortly afterward.
    • Jane gets it, too, and quickly brushes off the question with 'six'.
  • One of the first signs of John Doe's unusual nature. He responds to the question using medical jargon to explain why the thumb is not technically considered a "finger."
  • Similar to the Doctor Who example above, this was used on Shawn on Psych to test his "psychic" abilities. Shawn only got it right because he could see the man's hand reflected by the blank TV screen and a mirror.
  • On Saturday Night Live, this was once a category on Celebrity Jeopardy!. It literally involved Alex Trebek asking this question while holding up a number of fingers. Sean Connery responded by showing him something that wasn't exactly a "finger".
    Connery: I've got a finger for you, Trebek! (unzips his pants)
    Trebek: (looks away) Okay...please don't cut to him.
    Connery: (laughing) What do you think of that, Trebek?
    Trebek: That's—that's not a finger and you know it.
    Connery: Oh, don't look so shocked, Trebek, like you've never seen one before.
  • From Sanctuary's episode "Monsoon":
    Will: Hey, H. How many fingers, how many fingers?
    Henry: Tuesday.
  • In Deadliest Catch, a greenhorn crewmember on the Wizard named Chris collapsed and started going into shock. Captain Keith used this phrase, holding up two fingers. The greenhorn can barely choke out "four"note .
  • Used in Rab C. Nesbitt to point out that Gash was doing drugs. He replied Thursday.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. After Chakotay gets punched in the head while boxing on the holodeck, the Doctor holds up three fingers in a facsimile of the Vulcan salute and asks this of a still-woozy Chakotay, who replies correctly. The Doctor says sardonically, "Good guess."
  • Andrew crossed this trope with Hand Signals in Season 10 of Canada's Worst Driver. During Jason's assessment run, Andrew (standing well clear of the track) held up his arms in the show's usual "all clear, go ahead" signal.
    Andrew: Do you see me when I do this? holds his arms up
    Jason: Barely.
    Andrew: Don't say barely, say yes or no. Do you see me when I put my hands over my head like this? keeps his arms down
    Jason: Yes.
  • Person of Interest. Finch is testing the Machine in its early days by having it follow him around the city on CCTV cameras, then sending one ring on his mobile phone when it sees Finch, two when it doesn't. At one point Finch tests the Machine really is watching him by holding up three fingers; it responds with three rings when asked the question.
  • Starsky & Hutch: When Hutch has a concussion, Starsky holds up two fingers and asks "How many fingers do I got up?" Hutch answers, "One."
  • Daredevil (2015). Foggy Nelson has found out his blind friend Matt Murdock is the masked Devil of Hell's Kitchen and is not too happy about it. At one point, Matt tries to explain how the world looks through his super senses.
    Foggy Nelson: So, you can see.
    Matt Murdock: That's not… You're not… Are you even listening to what I'm saying?
    Foggy Nelson: Yeah, "world on fire," I got it. But you can see! Right?
    Matt Murdock: Yeah, in a manner of speaking. But I—
    Foggy Nelson: No! No manner! [holds his middle finger to Matt's face] How many fingers am I holding up?
    Matt Murdock: [with a "Seriously?" look on his face] One.
  • Clarence gives us this line when Clarence claims that he can see better without his glasses than with them. Keep in mind that Travers is Flipping the Bird (the two-fingered UK one to be precise) at him.
    Travers: You lying devil. How many fingers am I holding up?
    Clarence: I don't know, but I can guess.

  • Used a little squickily (the song's about illegal abortions done in alleys) in "Mandy Goes to Med School" by the Dresden Dolls:
    Guess how many fingers, okay
    Guess how many more I can fit in there
  • Occurs at the end of the Neal McCoy song "Billy's Got His Beer Goggles On": "How many fingers am I holding up, Billy? Get up, Billy! Get up!"
  • Part of the chorus of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Four Eyes", which is about being bullied because of your Nerd Glasses.

  • A good one in BBC Radio sitcom Think the Unthinkable:
    Owen: Ryan, how many fingers am I holding up?
    Ryan: Wha, fingers?
    Sophie: Owen, put some fingers up!
    Owen: OK.
    Sophie: Not that one!

    Video Games 
  • Done twice, to great effect, in the Dwindling Party during the "Groundhog Day" Loop of HetaOni. The first time, it's Played for Laughs when Alfred asks this to a zoning-out Arthur, who quickly snaps the correct answer and lectures him for wasting time on nonsense. The second time isn't very funny at all; after Arthur has used up a concerning amount of magic trying to kill a monster, Alfred asks him the exact same question, only to discover that he's blind.
  • In the intro of Ratchet: Deadlocked, Al asks Ratchet this question while holding up two fingers. Ratchet could not answer because Al forgot to turn on his speech ability.
  • During the Okeanos storyline of Fate/Grand Order, you get pressed into a drinking party with Sir Francis Drake. After you down a few pints, Mash realizes Drake is drinking from the Holy Grail, but when she tries to get your attention, you're too wasted to notice. She resorts to this test, only for you to reply that you see two of Mash.
  • Spoofed on in Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin. When Raz returns from a draining Clairvoyant expedition, Sasha checks if he's all there:
    Sasha: Razputin, are you with us? How many fingers am I thinking about?
    Raz: U-Uhm... purple?
    Sasha: Close enough!
  • In The Feeble Files, before Feeble gets sent to Cygnus Alpha (a max security prison colony), the Investigators try to break him into mindless devotion to OmniBrain by asking him how many fingers they're holding (three), and repeatedly zapping him until he says "as many as OmniBrain wishes".
  • In Tales from the Borderlands, Vaughn does this to determine of Rhys is telling the truth about there being a Handsome Jack AI that only Rhys can see being present, holding the fingers behind his back to Jack can look behind him. Which is a little odd, as the only reason Rhys can see Jack is that he's inside the cybernetic implants Rhys has had installed, so it's unclear how he can see anything Rhys can't.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Happens in Darths & Droids to evaluate Obi-Wan's possible brain damage.
  • In Sinfest, faced with the bizarre behavior of Lil' E — Satan's Fan Boy dressing up in an angel get up? —this is one question Seymour asks.
  • Played with in Skin Horse, when Sweetheart asks Leo (who is recovering from a tranquilizer dart). Leo answers "None" (which is correct, since Sweetheart is a dog and has no fingers).
  • Doythaban and his gate-clone do this to Tagon after surprising him in this strip of Schlock Mercenary.
    Tagon: Crap on a crutch, there are two of you!
    Doythaban #1: Wow. Even started, the captain can count.
    Doythaban #2: (holds up there fingers) Hey, how many fingers an I holding up?
    Tagon: Seven less than I plan to break if you don't make with the storytelling.

    Web Original 
  • From The Liam Smith Show, for some reason being used to Spot the Impostor:
    Arturo: How many fingers am I holding up?
    Liam: One... And that's very rude.
  • Ask That Guy with the Glasses: When That Guy is asked this once, his response? "I don't know, is it as many as me?" (flips off camera)
  • At one point in Critical Role, Keyleth holds up one hand and asks Grog this to establish whether he's being possessed.
    Grog: Nine!
    Keyleth: I think it's him.
    • In another episode, Percy has been blinded. Taliesin simulates this by staring straight ahead and not at his fellow players. Travis (as Grog) holds up a finger and asks him this question. An annoyed Percy quickly guesses what he's really doing:
    Percy: ...One.
  • The Tourettes Guy: Danny's son asks him this after he hits his head in the bathroom. Danny's response? "1... 800... 2 MY DICK"

    Western Animation 
  • In Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Robo-Sitter", after Meatwad consumes an entire cabinet of medical drugs, Frylock asks this towards him. At the moment, Meatwad envisions Frylock as a bizarre creature, hearing his words fully sped up.
  • The Simpsons: In "Regarding Margie", Dr. Hibbert holds up two disembodied fingers to do this for an amnesiac Marge.
    Dr. Hibbert: How many fingers am I holding up?
    Marge Simpson: Two.
    Dr. Hibbert: Good. Now I can put them back in the jar.
    • In another episode, a man does this after saving Homer from drowning, only for Homer to retort, "What's the matter, rube? You don't know how to count?"
  • In Celebrity Deathmatch Mills Lane once tried this on a downed combatant... using two of the guy's OWN dismembered fingers.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures:
    • In the first episode, when Jackie is knocked down after stopping Jade from hijacking a moped.
      Captain Black: How many fingers am I holding up?
      Jackie: Look, fishies.
    • It happens again in season three, after Jackie's been bitten by a cobra.
      Jade: Jackie? How many fingers do you see?
      Jackie: Uh, what's a Jackie?
  • King of the Hill after Hank gets his nose broken during practice for a rematch against his highschool football rivals.
    Dale: Hank! Can you smell how many fingers I'm holding up?
  • From Daria, "Through A Lens Darkly": Daria is experimenting with contacts as opposed to her usual iconic glasses, in a response to nearly hitting a dog during a driving lesson. When the contacts irritate her too much, she decides to go to school without them or the glasses. Jane, catching on, asks her friend "How many fingers?" "I've got one for you."
  • Used differently in Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot; a flashback episode reveals the Big Guy Powered Armor's origins as a self-aware robot, initially canned when the AI program turned out to be inadequate:
    Scientist: "How many fingers am I holding up?"
    Big Guy AI: "Wednesday."
  • On The Shnookums & Meat Funny Cartoon Show, Obadiah asks this to Pith Possum after an accident. He wearily responds "Seven."
  • In Beavis and Butt-Head during a Lie Detector test:
    Mr. O' Brien: Now, Butthead, could you tell me how many fingers I am holding up?
    Butt-Head: Uh, four?
    Mr. O' Brien: Well, it's three, actually, but since you think it's four, you didn't really lie, so that's good.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: Dick Dastardly kits the Vulture Squadron with glasses in the episode "Fly-By-Knights" and tests them out with this line, holding up four fingers. The problem: Zilly sees things upside down so he stands on his head to reply, Klunk sees four times as many things, so he responds with 16, and Muttley sees things from far away so he has to climb on Dastardly's hand to answer.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: Skipper asks this question to King Julien. Skipper's a penguin, and penguins only have flippers.
    King Julien: Is that a tricky question?
  • In one episode of The Secret Show, Professor-Professor says this to Victor after his irises were removed. Victor gets absolutely terrified upon a deformed hand right in front of him, except it was actually a dummy arm the Professor had to mess with him.
  • In an episode of Aladdin: The Series, after Aladdin takes a knock on the head, Genie does this to make sure he's okay... however, since Genie is the one doing this, the hand he's holding up has an unreasonable number of digits well above and beyond his traditional Four-Fingered Hands.
  • We Bare Bears: In "Bear Flu", Chloe tries this on a sickly Grizzly, who has just tripped and fallen over.
    Chloe: How many fingers am I holding up?
    Grizz: Little baby unicorns?
  • In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, Jimmy tries this on Sheen who got conked on the head. Sheen's response is "November?".
  • Played for Laughs on My Friends Tigger & Pooh - in "Tigger's Shadow of a Doubt," Tigger takes a tumble after the replacement shadow that Pooh and Darby made for him gets snagged in a tree branch and tears. Darby asks if he's okay and he replies that he thinks so and holds up his paw, asking how many fingers he's holding up.note 
  • Arthur: In "Grandpa Dave's Memory Album", Francine's grandmother does this on Arthur after he gets hit in the head with a frisbee.
    Bubby: How many fingers do I have? (holds up two)
    Arthur: Two.
    Bubby: Actually, I have ten! (laughs) Last time I checked.
  • Parodied in The Octonauts episode "The Sardine School"; Peso, a penguin, asks Kwazii how many fingers he's holding up, only for Kwazii to tell him he doesn't have any fingers.
  • In one episode of Pelswick, after Goon gets a concussion, Ace asks him this question. Goon thinks the fingers are hotdogs and bites Ace's hand.
  • We Bare Bears: In "Bear Flu", Chloe does this to Grizzly, who is so out of it from his illness that he answers "little baby unicorns?"

    Real Life 
  • Defense attorney Irving Kanarek tried this one on a witness in the Manson murder trial. Too bad the witness was testifying to something she had heard, not claiming to have seen...
  • When doctors are taught the "how many fingers" trick in medical school they are (depending on the teacher, perhaps) specifically warned not to hold up two fingers every time, as the bizarre universal tendency goes in both Real Life and fiction. You are also supposed to administer the test more than once, deliberately changing the number of fingers slowly and clearly, and prompting with "and how many fingers am I holding up now?" You are not only looking to see if they can give the correct answer, but how long it takes them to answer and if they can keep up with changing stimuli.
  • A variant of this is to ask the subject to follow your finger as you move it back and forth, or to shine a light in their eyes. If the eyes do not react in coordination with each other (or at all, such as the iris not reacting to the light in their eyes), this can be indicative of a brain injury.
  • Another variant used by some eye doctors is to ask the person being examined to look straight ahead, then hold different numbers of fingers in their peripheral vision.



Kwazii may not be hurt, but he sure is a smartass.

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Main / HowManyFingers

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