When embarrassed or reluctant, ditzy or shy characters frequently touch their forefingers' tips together in front of them and twiddle them up and down, often accompanied by a "toiktoik" sound, and some tiptoe twiddling to boost. It's also done by shy characters when speaking to the object of their affection.
While this trope is most prominent in anime and manga-influenced works, it's occasionally found in western works with an anime-inspired esthetics.
Often seen in anime in a Cannot Spit It Out or "please don't embarrass me" situation. Not to be confused with Finger-Tenting. In Real Life, psychologists and readers of body language would call this displacement activity, or it may be a stereotypy.
- Azumanga Daioh: In the first episode, Kaorin does this after catching a glimpse of a cat logo somewhere on Sakaki's person as Sakaki is changing into her gym shorts.
Kaorin: I thought I saw something incredibly cute just now...
- Durarara!!: Celty Sturluson, of all people, does this when Shinra's father asks her if she's in love with Shinra.
- Monster Musume: Lala the dullahan does this sometimes, usually when confronted by Ms. Smith.
- My Hero Academia: Kyoka Jiro does this with her Earphone Jacks when nervous or embarrassed.
- Hinata Hyuga frequently did this, especially in the anime, until her Character Development caused her to become more self-confident. (It's even the very first thing we see her do in the anime.)
- Naruto himself does this too from time to time, usually when Sakura or Kakashi is scolding him.
- Jiraiya did this in the anime when asking Naruto to remain transformed into a sexy girl whenever they were together (after Naruto did it to get his perverted mentor's attention).
- Negi of Negima! Magister Negi Magi when he brought up the idea of sharing his childhood and, by extension, his reason for doing just about everything he does to Asuna since they recently became partners. She agrees to hear him out without a second-thought.
- Tamaki does this when talking to Haruhi episode four of Ouran High School Host Club
- Pokémon: The Series:
- May does this once when her rival of the day confronts her about her feelings for Drew.
- And also when Ash wanted to visit the Petalburg City Gym as shown here.
- Ranma ½:
- Super Dimension Fortress Macross: This was done by one of the Zentradi — yes, a hulking male giant— when he was nervous about interrupting his commander's demonstration (to a female Zentradi) that humans did have some customs worth borrowing — in this case, kissing.
- Nozomi in the very first episode of Yes! Pretty Cure 5, as she explained her disastrous attempts at joining various clubs.
- In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, Paddi often puts his index fingers together when he's nervous.
- Just in case you didn't think she was already cute as a button, Molly from Runaways does this when she discovers she's the only one who came up with a super-hero costume.
- Like in canon, Hinata in Son of the Sannin did this a lot as a child, though she'd mostly dropped it by the time she graduated from the ninja academy. Later, during the Part II timeframe, she does it again when she asks Naruto to accompany her when she tells her mother and the rest of the clan about her awakening the Tenseigan. Naruto even lampshades it's been a long time since the last time she did it.
- Boxer Santaros does this a lot in Southland Tales, nervously tapping his fingers together in a somewhat odd manner. This is because he is having constant schizophrenic breaks into the character of Jericho Cane.
- Oliver Hardy often did this when nervous or embarrassed. That is, when he wasn't fiddling with his necktie.
- Done by Thompson and Thomson in the Tintin story Red Rackham's Treasure.
- In Howl's Moving Castle (original book), you could tell that Sophie's sister Martha was lying when she stopped twiddling her thumbs. While not a plot point per se, this information did let Sophie confirm that Michael was talking about the right sister.
- Yoona from Girls' Generation does this in the music video for "Gee."
- Balloony from Dodgeball Academia is very shy compared to the Hot-Blooded protagonist Otto or most of Otto's other companions, and his default standing pose is him pressing his index fingers together.
- Micky from Makai Kingdom does this. Being a purple, four-armed demon general that's the upper part of a three-bodied monster who is the overlord of its own netherworld, it is a good sign that Micky isn't, by their standards, very good at being an overlord.
- Tali, a normally confident and fiery Quarian engineer from the Mass Effect trilogy, has a habit of wringing her hands whenever she's nervous, which is usually any romance scene between her and the player's male Commander Shepard.
- Sakuna Of Rice And Ruin: Yui does it as the Idle Animation for when she asks about planting crops, fitting her shy personality.
- In the Shovel Knight expansion, "Plague of Shadows", if Plague Knight learns how to dance from the Troupple King, he does this instead if he's near Mona when you try to make him dance for her.
- Pascal, of all people, does this a couple times in Tales of Graces, most notably when Hubert confesses his feelings for her.
- Undine in Sleepless Domain does this here, when she sheepishly tells Tessa that Gwen and Sally already ran off on their own.
- Karla from M9 Girls! does this when her mentor discovers she has been "borrowing" funds to make the girls' super-hero costumes.
- Heather from Spinnerette, usually with her middle pair of arms while she makes other expressive gestures with her upper and lower sets.
- Rain: Rain does this when even more nervous than usual. So does Chanel.
- In Champions of Far'aus the god Hyperion, one of the main deities of the story, does this on occasion when he starts feeling uneasy.
- In Dumbing of Age, when Amber reveals to Walky that she was who stabbed Sal's hand, Amber does this in the last panel.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Oneshot character Meng does this as she admits she's "kind of been stalking" Aang.
- Ben 10: Alien Force: Ben Tennyson does this once as Humongosaur after his then Love Interest Julie informs him that the explosion he was shielding her from is over and that he does not need to keep holding her.
- Ready Jet Go!: Sean does this in the episode "Our Sun is a Star!", when he's trying to explain something to Mindy.
- He also does this in "Mars Rock for Mom", after he's relieved that Dr. Rafferty doesn't know that the rock he gave her came from Mars.
- South Park: Butters tends to do a motion similar to wringing his hands when he is flustered about something. The animation style makes it semi-ambiguous as to whether it is full out hand-wringing or finger twiddling.
- Teen Titans (2003): Beast Boy sometimes does this, usually when he's being reprimanded for something.
- Totally Spies!: In episode 2 of season 4, when the girls accidentally travel 20 years into the future, they go to their old villa. Alex gets excited when learning that their future selves still live together, but Clover replies: "Ugh! More like pathetic. I mean, hello! 30 something and still single?", and all three proceed to twiddle their finger in embarrassing realization. Clover is also shown doing this in episode 9 of season 6 when being asked about what the WOOHP training handbook has to say about locked doors, which she never read.
- Transformers: Animated: Bumblebee does this when Prowl asks him exactly where he was keeping that iPod. Hint: he wasn't in car mode and robots don't have pockets.
- Bulkhead also does this in an episode or two, which is pretty humorous (and also kind of adorable) considering he's The Big Guy.