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Memetic Hand Gesture

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Any hand gesture that's become emblematic of the character, series, or situation in which it appears.

Cousin of Strange Salute. See also Character Tics.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sailor Moon's sideways V-for-victory sign (while winking), as well as her thumb-index finger-pinky raised with both hands, her "In the name of the moon, I'll punish you" pose.
  • Gendo Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion. His trademark covering-the-mouth variant (which, originally, existed to cover his mouth and cut down on necessary animation) is often called "the Gendo pose". For a while, it was a popular imageboard pastime to add the "Gendo Hands" to existing works via Photoshop.
    • It even has its own trope.
    • Gendo's two fingers to the bridge of his glasses is also trademark of him.
  • The Son family's Hand Behind Head from Dragon Ball Z.
    • Additionally the Kame Hame Ha stance, with the double hands drawn back and thrown forward.
  • Pokémon: Ash Ketchum's capture pose, complete with Pikachu popping up in a different pose and going "Pi pi ka chu!" He also does it when he gets a gym badge, with all the Pokémon that fought in that battle posing with him. It's even parodied in the episode where Tracey catches his Scyther: the episode ends with Ash lecturing him on how to properly pose in triumph after a capture.
    • Ash turning his cap when he throws a Pokéball to catch a Pokémon. It went missing for several years but Best Wishes brought it back.
  • Macross:
    • Macross Frontier: Ranka Lee's *sparkle* hand gesture.
    • Macross Delta gives us two versions of Walkure's "W" hand gestture - one for two hands, and one for one hand. The latter becomes Hilarious in Hindsight when you realize that it looks exactly like the LA West Side Crips gang sign.
  • Pointing one's arm straight up with the index finger extended is synonymous with Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and specifically piercing the heavens.
  • The military in Attack on Titan have a very distinctive salute. They place their right fist over their heart, and their left at the base of their spine.
  • Flashing V Signs with both hands has become sort of a thing in hentai.
  • The Mikuru Beam pose from Haruhi Suzumiya, involving flashing a V-Sign over your eye. There's a double version with two hands over both eye, but the singular version is the most remembered one.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is well-known for its love of Asskicking Poses, but among the most famous are Jonathan Joestar's palm-in-front-of-the-face, Jotaro Kujo's finger-pointing, and Josuke Higashikata's face-framing.
  • In Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions, Yuuta covers most of his face with his hand in his Dark Flame Master persona. Nibutani mockingly mimics it when imitating him from time to time.
  • Jaden Yuki from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX has a salute that he tosses to his opponents after winning a duel, usually accompanied with "That's game!"

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man's web-shooting gesture. It's because the trigger for the webshooters is on his palm, and designed so that only just the right pressure and a double-tap could activate it. This prevents the normal motions of his hands (for instance, forming a fist) from slinging web everywhere.
  • Elsewhere in the Marvel Universe, among the X-Men, there's the (generally not used so much anymore) Pstandard Psychic Pstance used by Professor X and occasionally Jean Grey. Not among the X-Men, Scarlet Witch often does a Spidey-like gesture in the air when using her hex power. Her earliest appearances have it so that if her hand accidentally falls into a close enough position a hex effect will happen, its target (and severity) completely random. By now, she's much better at directing it. Doctor Strange also has gestures he uses when working magic, which also look Spider-Man-esque. (It's like they were created by the same guy or something).
  • Transmetropolitan: Spider Jerusalem lighting a cigarette, head slightly cocked, hand cupped in front of it. Hard to describe, but if you've seen a picture of him, you've seen him do this. Gets lampshaded in-series; at one point, Channon comments that Yelena is turning into Spider, and while Yelena's denying it, she makes this exact pose.
  • Wonder Woman: The pose with her wrists crossed and hands in fists which is generally associated with her deflecting an attack with her bracelets and which was modified a bit to become the Amazon salute in the Post-Crisis continuity, which can be seen on the cover of Volume 2.
  • Doctor Strange often does a Magical Gesture that is consistently common enough to be spoofed an issue of Bongo Comics'Simpsons Super Specatular where a character summoned a demon in an occult attempt to cure himself of his hands of making weird gestures. Their local Doctor Strange pastiche also makes the same gestures whenever casting.

    Image Boards 
  • The FGSFDS meme, a meme based around the hand gesture of one random person holding up their index finger, usually with their mouth open. It's intended to signal that a conversation has lost all traces of seriousness/sanity.
    • Allegedly stands for "For God's sake, fuck dis shit" though this may be a Backronym.


  • The Hunger Games: The District Twelve salute (touching your lip with your three middle fingers and then holding that hand out) becomes a symbol of the rebellion in-universe, as well as going memetic in real life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Red Dwarf's Arnold Rimmer and his Overly Long Gag Strange Salute procedures.
  • Mr. Saxon of Doctor Who gives this trope two thumbs up. So famous, the page image has served on at least four different pages.
  • Spike of Buffy fame once pulled a V-Sign with the palm facing away from the intended target, which made it into the opening credits. It's infamous, because the American censors didn't realize the gesture is not a variation on the victory sign, but is actually an obscene gesture in certain countries, including Spike's native Britain. While not unique, it's rare on American TV.
  • Star Trek's Vulcan salute. See the Real Life section for more details.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has the hand gesture that Captain Picard makes whenever he says "Engage" to get the Enterprise moving.
  • Mork & Mindy: the Orkan greeting, coupled with "Nanu nanu," is a Vulcan salute turned sideways.
  • Adam Richman from the Travel Channel show Man v. Food is trying to establish one of these for when he starts one of the food challenges; it's not immediately obvious what it is. It appears to be three signs. First, an "M," which he's done in two ways, either three or four fingers pointing down. If he uses four, the middle two stay together. Then, a "V". Last, an "F," formed by taking his right hand and extending the index and middle fingers horzontally, then using one finger on his left hand raised vertically to make the back of the F.
  • Carol Burnett pulling her ear at the end of her self-titled show.
  • The "Be Seeing You" gesture from The Prisoner (1967).
    • A variation (with the looped thumb and forefinger over the forehead instead of the eye) is used by Psi Cop Bester in Babylon 5.
  • The Apprentice: "You're fired!" Nicknamed "The Cobra"
  • Tendou Souji of Kamen Rider Kabuto always points to the sun when reciting his Catchphrase. Attempts at memetic hand gestures would become more frequent in later seasons. Kamen Rider Den-O is best known for spamming this half to death, with the four Imagin characters each displaying their own. Kamen Rider Fourze does this with both the title character and some supporting ones, to the extent that a scene with all the characters tied up has one guy with his hands somehow bound into his memetic hand gesture. There's also a different sound effect for every gesture.
  • Power Rangers S.P.D.: Bridge likes his toast buttery, and can't help but wiggle his fingers whenever he says "buttery". When called on this, he denies it - only to realize it's still happening, even as he tries to stop himself.
  • Happy Days: Fonzie's "aaay!" thumbs up.
  • Twin Peaks has the Bookhouse Boys' Salute, in which one rubs one's index finger along one's eyebrow, outward.
  • Ultraman's Specium Ray gesture, which is done by crossing one arm over the other like this. His many successors have had their own variants on it, and it is widely parodied across Japan (and the most common way to reference to Ultraman in the west).
  • Siskel & Ebert famously awarded each movie they reviewed a Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down. Their thumbs were in fact trademarked to prevent other shows from copying them!


    Professional Wrestling 

  • In Australian Rules Football, the goal umpires' "goal" signal (both arms at the sides, elbows bent at 90 degrees, index fingers pointing forward)
  • In cricket, the "out" signal (right arm raised, index finger pointing "to the heavens", as commentators often say), as well as the "six" signal (both arms raised, palms showing).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the sign of the aquila (crossing both hands across the chest and hooking thumbs), meant to represent the Imperium's two-headed eagle insignia. The Adeptus Mechanicus has a variant where the fingertips are folded up, representing their cogwheel insignia.

  • Peking Opera has a ton:
    • Female roles have long, flowing sleeves that they throw out in an arc during significant solos.
    • Older roles stroke their beard whenever they're plotting something.
    • Badass characters who have the feather hat (i.e. what Lü Bu is seen to wear in Dynasty Warriors) will hold one of the feathers in their hand during solos.
    • Son Wukong, in addition to a ton of monkey-like mannerisms (he'll scratch himself and pick imaginary ticks off his body, then "eat" them), is most often seen peering into the distance with his hand in an almost backwards military salute pose, to signify that he's using his telescopic vision.

    Video Games 
  • Revolver Ocelot of Metal Gear, honorary Trope Namer. His famous two hand gun salute was originally improvised by his motion capture actor; the directors decided to Throw It In, because they couldn't get enough of it. It's so memetic he uses his last breath to repeat the gesture in Metal Gear Solid 4.
    • Possibly memetic within the gameworld, too; in Metal Gear Solid 3, it's possible to see both The Boss and EVA doing the hand gesture.
    • At one interview, Hideo Kojima didn't even say Ocelot's name when revealing who the Boss's son is in 3; he just did the gesture.
  • The vast majority of the poses and gestures made during court cases in Ace Attorney series.
  • The Legend Of Zelda C Di Games: The King's 'mah boi' pose, where he points his finger upwards and has his eyes and mouth very wide open. Though the line "Mah boi" is from moments earlier, and the line he's actually saying when making the pose is "This peace is what all true warriors strive for."
  • Mass Effect 2 has made the air quotes gesture memetic with its infamous line "Ah yes, 'Reapers'". It is often rendered with single quotes (and single fingers for air quotes), because the turian councilor who delivers the line only has three fingers per hand. If you are familiar with this meme, it is pretty much guaranteed that you will chuckle every time you see that gesture (and in Mass Effect 3 there are actually several characters who make it).
  • Holding an item above your head is iconic in a multitude of video games. Frequently lampshaded. While it predates The Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda made it more famous.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Mario and the V-Sign.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog's Finger Wag.
  • Fire Emblem has Anna resting her index finger on her chin. Devious grin optional.
    • Owain's hand-over-face gesture is so Memetic it's part of his character portrait, and if he's a Myrmidon, his idle map sprite has him making the very stance.
  • The eponymous Viewtiful Joe has the "pinky, middle finger and thumb extended" hand gesture that he likes to use. He'll even punch people with it. There's also the Henshin pose used by both Joe and Captain Blue (which is also a Shout-Out to Kamen Rider.)
  • Real Life example: Nintendo President Satoru Iwata and his tendency in the company's Nintendo Direct videos to thrust both hands, towards the viewer whenever he used the word "directly" (English) or "chokusetsu" (Japanese). The other hosts in the videos also use the same gesture, but for some reason it's associated only with Iwata. In Miitomo this became an Ascended Meme (and/or a tribute to the sadly-deceased Iwata) as Miis will mimic the gesture every time they say the word "direct". Additionally, buried in the code of the Nintendo Switch is the game NES Golf, which Iwata himself had programmed during his days with HAL Laboratory. It's only playable on one day in the year (being 11 July, the anniversary of his passing), and is unlocked on that day when the player replicates his iconic gesture with the Joy-Con controllers from the Switch home menu.
    • Another Nintendo related one is the raising of the hand and then the snapping of fingers in order to mimick the iconic Nintendo Switch snapping sound. This is usually acompanied by a "Switch" Pun. The first use of it was during the Nintendo Switch Presentation in January 2017.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Brohoof! (Basically a personalized Fan Nickname of the Bro Fist, see below. Does, in fact, appear on the show.)
    • The show's variant is known as a hoof-bump and the equivalent of a high-five.
  • Finn and Jake do a fist pound over the Adventure Time logo at the start of each show...and at random times during most episodes.
  • In Mixels, the Nixels have a thumbs-down Nixel hand as their logo. It's used on various things such as flags, belt symbols, and staffs.
  • The Venture Bros. has the Team Venture sign, which is when two or more people each do a V-sign high above their heads and press their fingertips together while exclaiming "Go Team Venture!" Though it started as the annoying habit of young Hank and Dean, the gesture was eventually used by so many characters that Hank declined to participate because it was "too watered down".
  • Mr. Burns' "tapping fingertips together while exclaiming 'Excellent!'" gesture on The Simpsons.

    Real Life 
  • The Queen's Wave, often attributed to HM Queen Elizabeth II is often used for royalty in British media.
  • The Roman salute (actually a French invention falsely associated with Rome), forever co-opted by the Nazis. Fun fact: before it became associated with Nazism, it was regarded as just another salute, and was used by American schoolchildren reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Once Hitler got hold of it, the hand-over-the-heart was prudently adopted.
  • The Tomahawk Chop, originated at Florida State University, also used at Atlanta Braves games (and several other stadiums with teams named after Native American themes).
  • Flipping the Bird, i.e., The Finger.
  • Winston Churchill's V for Victory, which inspired many of these, including:
  • "The horns" have a number of vastly different meanings depending on the context.
    • The international symbol of Metal. Ronnie James Dio credited himself as the originator of the gesture in this context, taken from his Italian grandmother's ward against the evil eye.
    • In Italy it can also be used to suggest that the gesture's target is a cuckold.
    • "Hook 'em, Horns" used by fans of the University of Texas, most notably the school's American football team. It is a stylized version of the school's mascot, the Longhorn.
      • Other colleges with cattle-themed mascots, such as the University of South Florida Bulls, use a similar hand gesture.
      • Fans of rivals of said schools (especially Oklahoma and Texas A&M for UT, and UCF for South Florida) will use this gesture, but mock it by pointing the "horns" down. They even call this version "Horns Down". For added insult value, some will do "Horns Down" with both hands. Fans of West Virginia (which, inexplicably, is a member of Texas' home of the Big 12 Conference) have been known to use it even in games that don't involve the Horns.
    • A similar gesture with the thumb and pinky is usually associated with Pacific islanders and/or surfers and is a general-purpose indicator of good times. (So, yes, it's really a Hawaiian good luck sign.)
    • The Japanese fox head sign — traditionally associated with kitsune — has been used as a substitute for the horns by BABYMETAL.
    • The same gesture as the "fox head", with the thumb, middle and ring fingers pointing forward, is also the salute of the Turkish nationalist Grey Wolf movement.
  • Texas A&M has the "Gig 'em" sign, basically a Thumbs-Up gesture meant to represent sticking (gigging) something (a horned frog, the mascot of TCU, an old rival) with a sharp stick.
    • The cuckold's horns. Holding your hand in this fashion behind someone's head, especially for a picture, is a prank implying that someone is sleeping with the person's wife. Occasionally a V-sign is used instead, especially in America, where it's called "Bunny Ears" and carries no cuckold implications. Ditto in the UK, where it's usually known as "Deer Antlers" or just "Deer" (dear). Often in the UK, this is also a cheeky term of endearment.
      • The "Hook 'em, Horns" gesture is known as the cornuto in Italy, and carries the same major implications as the cuckold's horns, leading to trouble for Texas Longhorns fans who travel there.
  • The "shocker" is a sexually charged gesture which involves the ring finger folded down and held by the thumb, with the other three fingers extended and the index and middle finger being kept together, with the back of the hand facing away from the gesturer. This can lead to trouble for fans of three schools in particular, all of which use variations of the gesture with the back of the hand facing toward the gesturer.
    • Arizona State University and the University of Houston use a version in which the middle and index fingers are separated. ASU calls it "The Pitchfork", an allusion to the pitchfork carried by the school's Sun Devil mascot. For Houston, nicknamed Cougars, this gesture represents "The Cougar Paw". Explanation 
    • For Wichita State University, which is actually nicknamed the Shockers, the difference in finger position from the sexual version is that the thumb doesn't hold the ring finger down, but is instead pointed outward. ("Shockers" is actually short for "wheatshockers", an antiquated term for a wheatfield harvest worker.) In the Wichita context, the gesture represents the letter "W".
  • The Serbian three-finger salute, consisting of the thumb, index finger, and middle finger upraised (and typically spread apart). A traditional symbol of Serbian nationalism, it's thus extremely provocative among Croats, Bosniaks, and Kosovar Albanians. This can lead to trouble for Vanderbilt Commodores fans who travel to those areas, as that fanbase uses the same gesture (fingers always spread apart) to represent "VU" (Vanderbilt University).
  • University of Louisville fans frequently throw up an "L", formed by holding the index and middle fingers together, raising them as a unit, and sticking their thumb to the side. Much like rivals of Texas, USF, and the like with "Horns Down", U of L's rivals, especially University of Kentucky fans (aka Big Blue Nation), inevitably respond with an inverted version (either single- or double-barreled).
  • A heartwarming version was adopted by Wake Forest University football fans in the 2006 season. A few months before the season, Luke Abbate, younger brother of star Wake linebacker Jon Abbate, died from injuries suffered in a car crash while he was returning from a lacrosse practice. Jon asked to change his number from 40 to his brother's lacrosse number of 5 for that season, and his coach agreed. Before the fourth quarter of Wake's first game, the Abbate family held up all five fingers of their hands as a tribute to Luke. As the Demon Deacons made an unexpected run to the Atlantic Coast Conference title, the gesture was picked up by the team, Wake's fanbase, and even opposing fans. This gesture inspired the title of a 2011 film about Abbate and the 2006 Deacons season, The 5th Quarter.
  • The Thumbs-Up gesture, which depending on where you are is used either to show agreement or approval or to say "Up yours!"
  • Bro Fist!
  • "Air Quotes". Holding both hands up with the index and middle fingers extended, then flexed when saying a specific word to emulate quotation marks. Sometimes used to denote sarcasm over what you're saying. Also used when imitating Dr. Evil.
  • The Christian "Sign of the Cross", which goes: Forehead, stomach, left shoulder, right shoulder (right-to-left in the Eastern Orthodox churches and among Eastern Rite Catholics). Aside from the obvious geometrical shape of the Cross, the points correspond to the prayer that goes with it: "In the name of the Father (head = knowledge/thought) and of the Son (womb = son) and of the Holy Spirit (arms = empowerment)." A number of popes have also held that the downward motion is indicative of Jesus' descent from Heaven to Earth, with a number of interpretations for the right-to-left/left-to-right motion.
    • Some other religions have adopted similar gestures, tracing their own holy symbols in place of the cross. For instance, pagans and Filyani might trace a star (the usual order being lips, left hip, right shoulder, left shoulder, right hip, and finally lips again).
  • The nerdfighter salute. It is accomplished by making a Vulcan salute (1st two fingers together and last two fingers together, forming a V, with the thumb extended to the side) with each hand and crossing the arms over the chest. Can also be a plain old Vulcan salute like in the page image.
  • The military salute, a flat palm held at the brim of one's hat. In Britain, the palm is turned up, except for the Navy, where it's turned down.note 
  • Similarly associated with the military is the "Knife Hand", where one points with the entire hand (almost as if one were about to karate chop someone). Supposedly adopted because Giving Someone the Pointer Finger was considered too aggressive for a kinder gentler military, but acting like you're about to karate chop them in the throat isn't. Or, as one Air Force MTI put it:
  • The Merkel-Rhombus (Merkel-Raute), Angela Merkel's iconic way of putting her fingertips together. The Guardian refers to it as "probably one of the most recognisable hand gestures in the world".
    • Before Merkel, you were most likely to see this gesture made by Afro-American operatic soprano Leontyne Price as she sang.
  • Donald Trump's habit of making the "ok" hand gesture as he speaks has become this. It's common for his supporters to pose for pictures while making the same gesture. Trolls took notice and managed to fool white supremacists into adopting it as a racist/white supremacist symbol.
  • Crossed fingers behind one's back indicates that they are lying to whoever they are addressing. By keeping the fingers behind their back, they ensure the other person can't see it.
  • The fingers and thumb together, pointing up gesture stereotypically associated with Italians, taken to mean "what the f***?"
  • Leonard Nimoy adopted the famous Vulcan Salute, along with its greets "Live long and prosper" and "Peace and long life" from the Priestly Blessing, a part of the Jewish service. It is modeled after the Hebrew letter shin, the first letter of Shaddai, one of the names of God.
  • The "fig sign" consists of making a fist with the tip of the thumb extending from between the index and middle fingers. The actual meaning varies throughout the world, but in many countries it's a reference to female genitalia and is considered either obscene or challenging somebody to a fight...except in Portugal, where it's a symbol of good luck.