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Primal Stance

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Remember how your mom always said to stand up straight? This is why...

A stock pose used to show how feral a character is by having them stand and walk in a manner reminiscent of an ape or of a stereotypical caveman. They are hunched over, and walk slightly like a gorilla. This is used to show the character has regressed to a primal, wild state.

In downplayed examples, the character remains biped, but stands hunched over, with their arms hanging down and their head jutting forward from their shoulders. More extreme cases drop entirely to all fours, with the characters resting their weight on their knuckles as well as their feet. Note that, since human legs are considerably longer than human arms, a fully quadrupedal, knuckle-walking stance requires the character in question to have a truly apelike anatomy in addition to an apelike mindset if they're to walk like this without some truly awkward contortions.

This is not that easy to do. Too many times, the "primal" part is left out, and the actors just end up sneering, hissing, and hopping about like a kid trying to be a kangaroo.

If done right, this can strike fear into our hearts either by the character doing the stance looking intimidating or by coming off as inhuman. This may be due to suffering a nervous breakdown and showing an animalistic side. However, this often this falls short and strikes Narm into our hearts.

The Frazetta Man is almost always depicted in this stance. Compare Limp and Livid, Three-Point Landing, and Running on All Fours. Has nothing to do with Primal Scene.


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    Anime and Manga 

  • Ugolino and His Sons by Auguste Rodin gets across that the subject is a vile man starved unto cannibalism by showing him walking over his children's corpses on all fours. He looks just like a wild animal with its mouth agape in hunger.

    Comic Books 
  • Jack Kirby loves this pose, usually with more "primal" characters, like Kalibak or The Incredible Hulk.
  • Secret Six: Ragdoll is usually depicted like this due to his extreme flexibility, but on the rare occasion when he elects to stand up straight, everyone pays attention.
  • Spider-Man: Spidey does this from time to time, usually symbolizing that the villain isn't dealing with their Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man anymore, or otherwise doing a nimble variation of this trope to show that he's ready to spring to action at any moment.
  • X-Men:
    • The Beast and Nightcrawler, sometimes.
    • Wolverine often uses this as his "pre-asskicking pose", coupled with his extended claws, naturally.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Beauty and the Beast: The Beast at first stands and walks like this, but gradually begins to stand and walk upright as the film progresses to show the fact that he is gradually becoming more civilized; and Gaston, who stands and walks upright, until near the end of the film, he reveals his evil self and starts to stand and walk like this. The curse is also at fault here, because it turned him both in spirit and mind, more and more into an animal.
  • Catwoman: Hunted. After transforming, Cheetah hunches forward while standing on two legs. Justified due to her legs having shifted to be much more feline and giving her a digigrade stance as a result.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • In Kung Fu Panda 2, Lord Shen's wolf soldiers are always in a primal stance. Even when they're not on all-fours, they're constantly hunched over.
    • Big Bad Kai from Kung Fu Panda 3 is also hunched and may charge on all fours.
  • In Tarzan, the title character often uses his knuckles as front limbs, walking on all fours like the gorillas that raised him. This is mostly to show his savage upbringing, since otherwise he's a pretty Nice Guy without any ferocity.

    Films — Live-Action 


    Live Action TV 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Randy Orton will occasionally do this when he's about to hit someone with an RKO...although he normally Averts this, considering the fact that he goes into a psycho state before he does the move, which involves him getting on his knees and slamming the ground repeatedly with his fists, or just dropping down completely and punching the ground slowly. Although this is used to evoke the feeling of a viper.
  • A lot of hardcore wrestlers adopt a stance similar to this, whether willingly adopted (like Al Snow when he was in full J.O.B Squad swing with "Head") or as a result of taking too many bumps over the length of a career (like Mick Foley, although it could be argued that most of the gimmicks he had benefited from a more deranged looking stance and gait).
  • Funnily enough, completely averted by both Gorilla Monsoon and King Kong Bundy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Rocket Age: Venusians, who are essentially intelligent gorillas, all walk like this. Theirs is also a culture of tribal warfare and the hunt.
  • Warhammer: Across all settings, the Orcs/Orks stand in a hunched, slumping posture, with their heads projecting horizontally from their shoulders and their hands hanging almost to the ground.

  • BIONICLE has the Hordika doing this, though you wouldn't have known if you hadn't seen the movie or read the books.
    • The Toys do have to do this to fire their Disk launchers at something though.

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The default standing postures of the Bokoblins and Moblins — primitive, aggressive orc-like beings who serve as the game's primary humanoid enemies — has their heads slumping forward, their long arms handing down and to the side, and their short legs bent and splayed. Notably, when Bokoblins stand up straight, they're a solid head taller than Link, but their usual postures put them at about eye level.
  • Metroid:
    • Ridley's default posture is this in Metroid: Other M, which makes him seem gorilla-like. This, along with his sudden change in bulk in comparison to his earlier incarnations in the series, has led to fans giving him the nickname "Roidley".
    • Metroid Dread: The E.M.M.I.s can be bipedal if they choose to be, but spend most of their time crawling on all fours.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Bowser has a monstrous, hunched-over stance in Melee and Brawl. His stance becomes much more human-like starting with the fourth installment, which reflects a change in his moveset from primal, reptilian movements to a surprisingly agile wrestler-type fighter.
    • Ridley is hunched over in a gargoyle-like position similar to his depiction in Metroid: Other M and Super Metroid in his playable debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Even when hunched over, Ridley is still the biggest fighter in the game, even bigger than Bowser who stands fully upright. One of his taunts is just standing up straight.
  • The King of Fighters:
    • Riot of the Bood Iori and Leona. Also combined with blood-red hair, pure white eyes, unearthly howling, double the normal amount of speed, and gouts of smoke/steam from the mouth. Fun stuff.
    • King of Dinosaurs (Tizoc in a Paper-Thin Disguise) in KOF XIV, as fitting for his new status as a Heel. Also with a more brutal fighting style and, of course, a dinosaur-themed costume in place of his old Griffon costume.
  • Halo:
    • The aptly-named Brutes, described by Bungie as bear-gorillas, will go berserk if you break their shields or kill their allies, with the ones in Halo 2 taking up this stance.
    • Grunts can sometimes be seen walking on all fours when idle, and occasionally will pound their chests. In the Grunts' case, this seems more to emphasize their primitive weakness compared to the rest of the Covenant.
  • God of War: Kratos has this pose when he gets his blades out.
  • Left 4 Dead: Tanks are heavily hunched over, and walk on the knuckles of their huge arms.
  • [PROTOTYPE]: Alex Mercer has exceedingly bad posture, and that's before he shifts his biomass into his arms, making them heavy enough to smash tanks. Among other things.
  • Marvel vs. Capcom: Spider-Man is always bent over, which seems a little more fitting than the heroic poses he usually strikes in the comics.
  • Legacy of Kain: Raziel starts out walking relatively upright in Soul Reaver 1, but by the time Defiance rolls around he's adopted a noticeably more hunched posture.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: Most enemy vampires. A Gangrel PC can do it too by using Protean to give themselves claws, which are then used with this stance.
  • Dragon Age II:
    • The hurlocks tend to shamble rather than walk or run.
    • The genlocks are constantly hunched over and prone to Running on All Fours.
    • Fenris is a mild example, but there's still a noticeable difference between his posture and that of the other companions. Get him to stand near, say, Merill or Sebastian and you can clearly see a difference, as Fenris stands with his shoulders hunched forward, like he's constantly ready to pounce into action in an instant.
  • Mass Effect: The Krogan have shades of this, due to the large hump on a typical Krogan's back, along with their general temperment. The Elcor even moreso, naturally walking on all fours, although in their case they are some of the calmest beings in the galaxy (they come from a world with much higher gravity than Earth's so they evolved as quadrupeds to maintain greater stability). The Yahg, meanwhile, adopt this stance even more than the Krogan do, and are much more aggressive. And then there are the Brutes. After Saren dies and Sovereign takes over his cybernetics, he starts moving like this, which makes sense, given that Sovereign-Saren is a substantially harder fight than regular Saren - it's actually entirely possible to skip the fight with Saren by talking him into killing himself.
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West: Monkey. He even runs in this position sometimes - and manages to make it look cool.
  • Pok√©mon XD: Gale of Darkness: Cipher Admin Gorigan adopts a pose similar to an ape's pose at all times. He also bangs his fists against his chest when angered.
  • Persona 5: Joker actually stands in a mild forward crouch while in the metaverse. It's not terribly easy to see in his default outfit due to his Badass Longcoat, but it's much more apparent when using an alternate costume. It makes sense, too, as it's keeping his weight on the balls of his feet so that he can move quickly and have an easier time sneaking.
  • Asura's Wrath: Asura does this in his Wrath Form on occasion, especially when he's in greater pain. Also does Limp and Livid as well.
  • inFAMOUS: Cole usually has this posture, even while sprinting or dodging. He even keeps his head hunched forward while climbing.
  • Kirby Super Star: Bonkers as a helper is portrayed as moving like a gorilla, although he usually inverts it (he's a gorilla who walks like a human). Not even the remake portrays Bonkers as a helper that way. It's not until Kirbys Return To Dreamland where he's not only again portrayed as moving like an actual gorilla, but also stands like one.
  • Disgaea 5: Usalia is normally depicted riding her obese yellow Prinny. However, if she ever enters this stance, then she's gone without curry for too long or she uttered a Murmur of Rage. Either way, the advice is the same: RUN.
  • Evolve: The Goliath stands with a hunched posture. This emphasizes its bestial nature while still giving it a semblance of intelligence, as well as creating a body structure that justifies its ease of movement when it walks on all fours.
  • The Elder Scrolls: This is a trait of Scamps, the weakest and smallest known form of lesser Daedra. While they stop short of walking on all fours, Scamps have very hunched over postures. They're also among the less intelligent of the sentient Daedra.
  • Resident Evil Survivor: Though they're intelligent enough to wield MP-5s and follow verbal commands, your first clue that there's something seriously wrong and monstrous about the Undertakers you face is their hunched gorilla-like postures. If that wasn't enough of a clue that they're not human, but bio-weapons, the way they hoot like monkeys, hop around, and melt into goo when defeated will drive that point home.

  • Homestuck: The "Acherons", a type of elite monsters seen in [S] Cascade, stand in a hunched stance, with their short legs bowed and their long arms hanging so that their knuckles drag on the ground.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: When she first debuts, Galatea sometimes runs hunched over with her hands curled back in a "bestial" pose, emphasizing that she's been raised as an animal. Subverted later, as she tries to act very sophisticated at all times.
  • Megan Kearney's Beauty and the Beast: As much as Beast struggles to retain his last vestiges of humanity, he occasionally has to give in to his animal side. In these occasions, he runs naked on four in the woods and hunts to eat.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
  • Centaurworld: The minotaurs drop to all fours when running, showing their savage and bestial nature.
  • Feral: When boy, who was a wild child living in the forest in the company of wolves, is brought back to civilization, he starts to walk upright. When he rejects human civilization and goes back to the forest, he starts going on all fours again.
  • Legion of Super Heroes (2006): Timber Wolf sometimes adopts this stance when in combat, fittingly seeing he's the Legion's feral member.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Grogar walks with a quadrupedal variant of this, with his back hunched and head lowered, contrasting all the other quadrupedal creatures (such as all ponies) who walk upright (i.e. with their neck and head held up) and in a very civilized way, to make him look [unsettling and threatening.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) has a variation in the first season finale: while fighting the Shredder and taking off the gloves, Splinter runs around on all fours and claws at the Shredder like an actual rat in between more disciplined martial arts.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man (2012): Carnage tends to have this posture. Also add in the fact that Carnage screeches rather than talk, he comes off as rather feral.
  • Wild Kratts: The animated Kratt Brothers sometimes pose like this when they're taking on or shutting down their creature powers, although they smile cheerfully while doing it so it's clear that they're heroically feral. Chris even crouches like this at the end of the opening theme song of every episode.
  • X-Men: Evolution: Nightcrawler is often seen sitting or standing hunched over, but usually only when he's not wearing his holographic human disguise. This is because, like in the comics, he walks on his toes rather than the soles of his feet which changes his posture.

    Real Life 
  • "Gorilla Posture" is a real problem for bodybuilders who neglect proper form and don't equally work their chest and back muscles to keep them in balance, resulting in a posture with the shoulders constantly turned inwards towards the chest.
    • Can happen to members of the military, too, due to all those punishment pushups without corresponding upper back workouts.
  • Compare old depictions of the Tyrannosaurus rex to newer ones. The old ones are all in kangaroo-esque positions, tails dragging along the ground, while the newer ones have the entire body more or less parallel to the ground.
  • Some people hunch over when livid. They start seething and hissing.
  • Rock music has always thought it was cool to have your guitar slung low. Naturally Heavy Metal musicians tend to take to its natural evolution by assuming this stance whenever possible.
  • The US Marines claim their nickname of "Devil Dogs" to be a result of this during the Battle of Belleau Wood. So the story goes, the Germans were dug in on the highground, and the terrain was so steep that the assaulting Marines had to crawl on all fours to make their way to the German positions. Due to the risk of chemical attack, the Marines were wearing gas masks, and the heat and exertion caused the masks to be frothing at the edges with spit and sweat. Thus, the Germans were faced with a seeming pack of attacking Teufelshunde, or Devil Dogs. (Never mind that there is no corresponding German version of this story...)


Video Example(s):


Vordt of the Boreal Valley

He spends the entirety of his boss fight Running on All Fours.

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Main / PrimalStance

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