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The V-J Day Kiss

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"She ran out into the street, and a sailor embraced her and kissed her. Feeling gratitude for the services rendered by the U.S. armed forces, she let him do it. Plus, he was trained to kill people, so there's that."

The famous kiss an ecstatic sailor plants on a very surprised nurse he's just grabbed off the street for the express purpose of kissing (see page image) after the end of World War II is announced in Times Square is the best-known and most commonly parodied V-J Day photograph, though there are others.

Taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt and originally appearing in LIFE magazine, the photo's subjects melted into the crowd before he could catch their names. As a result of this (and of the natural obfuscation of the subjects' features in the picture itself), several different people over the years have come forward claiming to be the kisser and/or kissee.

Likely the modern Trope Codifier for The Big Damn Kiss and a Real Life example of a Smooch of Victory.

See Foot Popping for what that nurse was doing with her right leg. She also seems to manage the Boobs-and-Butt Pose.note 


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  • In a Pepsi ad, during a Progressive Era Montage, a short scene in the 1940s part features this, complete with the sailor carrying the nurse afterwards amidst the crowd.


    Film — Live-Action 
  • Letters to Juliet begins with the main character attempting to find someone who saw the photo being taken.
  • Larry and Amelia Earhart jump into a large print of it in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. This scene also leads to a Brick Joke in the credits after Larry loses his phone in it.
  • Watchmen puts the openly lesbian character Silhouette in the place of the Sailor. A sailor walks past them as they kiss, even briefly glancing at them before moving on. This apparently started a relationship, as that same nurse was seen sitting with Silhoutte at a Minutemen dinner and then murdered along with Silhouette later in the title sequence.

  • A variation in The Master Sniper by Stephen Hunter. A young American soldier turns a corner and sees a Red Cross girl with gorgeous lips who's looking a bit upset, so he kisses her (naturally this gets his face slapped). It's only then that he discovers the Germans have surrendered, which is why she's in tears.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied by John Oliver and an unknown actress on The Daily Show, in a feature about the iPad getting the use of the Verizon network ('VZ Day'). While kissing the woman, Oliver makes the picture himself with his iPad.
  • Frasier: When Frasier and the gang return to KACL after it reverts back to talk show format.
    Bulldog: God, I didn't think I'd ever see this place again. It's like we're soldiers comin' back from the war.
    (grabs a passing woman and imitates the VJ Day kiss. She gives him a tremendous slap and storms off.)
    Bulldog: (ecstatic) I'm home!
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "...The Ruthless Pursuit of Blood with All a Child's Demanding", Lestat de Lioncourt dramatically drops a female victim in this iconic pose before draining her to death. In-Universe, it would be incorrect to say that Lestat is parodying the famous photograph because the scene is set in 1923, 22 years before the end of World War II.
  • In one Life After People episode, a VJ Day Kiss photo in someone's empty house is seen decaying as time goes on.
  • At least four references in M*A*S*H:
    • In "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet", Frank claims that the last time his back went out was "V-J Day in Times Square when this big sailor hugged me."
    • In "Dear Dad", Hawkeye walks up behind Frank and Hot Lips and surprises the latter with a passionate kiss and embrace very much like the one in the photo.
    • In "There's Nothing Like a Nurse", Hawkeye and Hot Lips strike a very similar pose when he grabs and kisses her just before the nurses leave for a bug-out.
    • "Abyssinia, Henry" has Colonel Blake recreating this with Major Houlihan, after the former is inaudibly advised/dared to do so by Hawkeye.
  • In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, when Mr. Kraft announces that he's leaving Westbridge, the hallway explodes into a Tickertape Parade, and Harvey gives Sabrina a VJ Day kiss.
  • In Smallville, at the end of Noir, Jimmy does this to Chloe. Fitting for an affectionately old-fashioned episode.
  • In the Stargate Atlantis episode "Duet", Rodney, acting quite out of characternote , gives his date a VJ Day kiss to emphasize how interested he is in pursuing their relationship.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Bart the General", Bart and Milhouse parade Nelson, tied up in the wagon. While Lisa stands in the street surveying the damage, a soldier boy rushes up and kisses her, the moment captured forever in a photo. She then slaps him and yells, "Ewww, knock it off!"
    • In "Mad About the Toy", a flashback reveals that Abe once tried it but the woman he kissed punched him for it and said it's already been two years ever since the war ended.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Surf N' Turf", SpongeBob shows Sandy an old photo of Mr. Krabs doing this with a large sack of money.

    Real Life 
  • Katy Perry reenacted the kiss with a Marine when she was giving a show during the New York Fleet Week.
  • Among those claiming to have been the subjects of the photograph were Greta Friedman and George Mendosa. Allegedly, Mendosa was drunkenly kissing everyone at the time and the kiss was non-consensual from Friedman's side. As noted in the introduction, however, others have also made the claim to be the ones in the photo and no agreement has been reached on the validity of one over the other.
  • After the 6/26/15 Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex marriage legal in the USA, a man and his boyfriend recreated the kiss in celebration.
    • Before that, in 2011, after the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy was repealed, two female Navy officers were the first same-sex couple to publicly share the US Navy's traditional first kiss (the Navy tradition of choosing one sailor to be the first to kiss a loved one on the dock after a long voyage), recreating the iconic image.
  • At the end of a marching band performance in the 2013 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, two dancers reenacted the kiss while some colorguard members folded out a giant photo of the trope image.


Video Example(s):


Silhouette VJ Kiss

Silhouette kisses the nurse on VJ Day before the sailor gets a chance.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheVJDayKiss

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