Futile Hand Reach

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    Doctor Watson shows us how it's done.

    Ah yes, the Futile Hand Reach.

    You've probably seen it in movies, TV shows, comic books; in fact, probably everywhere.

    Usually this happens when a character, (probably a protagonist or his sidekick) sees another character about to be stabbed in the back/taken control of by an evil force, fall to their death, etc. he will put his hand out towards the camera/reader, even though he knows it is futile. Often he will scream the person's name and/or "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

    It happens quite a lot in action and scifi movies, though shows and movies based on comic books seem to like this trope quite a lot.

    Not to be confused with Take My Hand, although the two could overlap. Also never a Last Grasp at Life, in which a character grasps in the air right before dying.

    See also Milking the Giant Cow for another dramatic hand gesture.

    Examples of Futile Hand Reach include:

    Anime and Manga


    • Dane Cook referenced this in one of his comedy monologues (note: the man who was hit by the car survived)

    "I did try to help this man. As the car was coming towards him I reached out, and I said, 'Ohhhhh... Ohhhhh!' That's all I could think of to say. There's so many things now in retrospect that I would love... I would love to have been like, 'You're about to get struck by a vehicle!' I did not have time to say, 'You're about to get struck by a vehicle,' so I went with, 'Ohhhhh!' Which is like a concerned moan."


    Comic Books

    • In an X-Men/Teen Titans crossover in a 1980s comic, Cyclops does this towards Jean (in her Dark Phoenix form) as Darkseid takes control of her.


    • In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Sam Witwicky does this when Optimus Prime is about to be stabbed by Megatron. And then again at the end of the movie by a dying Sam when the sock full of the Matrix of the Primes gets torn and the dust flies away. Optimus, the Matrix, and Sam all get better though.
    • In X Men the Last Stand, Magneto does this towards Jean after he's been zapped by the anti-mutant drug.
      • In X Men First Class, Magneto first manifests his power when he was doing this when a gate closes between him and his mother.
    • The titular character in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, towards young Hagrid in a Pensieve Flashback in which he was shown to have been hiding a monster which he thought was the monster of the chamber.
    • In Hulk (the 2003 one), Bruce Banner's mother pulls one of these, not towards Bruce, but towards a gigantic Gamma mushroom cloud.
    • In Spider-Man 3, the title character does this towards Mary Jane while being pummeled to death by Sandman and choked by Venom.
    • In Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Reed does this towards Sue after Sue gets stabbed by Doom. She recovers.
    • Subverted in Iron Man 2, when Tony reaches out to Rhodes during the battle with Crimson Dynamo!Whiplash. He's really trying to signal Rhodey to use a Chekhov's Skill from a few scenes before.
    • In Lawrence of Arabia, Lawrence does this towards one of his companions, who just sank into quicksand.
    • Luke pulls one on Hoth after Obi-wan appears to him in The Empire Strikes Back.
    • An example of the silent variety in Kung Fu Panda 2 from Tigress to Po.
    • In Batman Returns, Batman's use of this is used by the Penguin to make the populace think that he pushed the Ice Princess off a building to her doom.
    • The page image is from Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, but is not quite an example of the trope in that rather than being a futile emotional reaction, it's a rather clear-headed attempt at protecting his colleagues: Watson realises he has triggered a grenade and in the few seconds before it explodes has the presence of mind to remember Holmes and Irene Adler will be on his heels, and turns to warn them with a gesture and a shout to keep back. Holmes promptly obeys the gesture and is therefore standing several meters away from the centre of the explosion when the grenade goes off. If the film was less... muddled... about the effects of what standing at the centre of (several) grenade blasts will do to you, Holmes' distance would have meant the difference between life and death for the detective (and a very practical, but very final act of heroism for a very deceased Watson). Admittedly, a series of further explosions triggered by the first mean ultimitely Holmes is little better off where he is than if he'd run right up to Watson, but Watson wasn't to know that would happen.

    Video Games

    • In the true ending of Nights: Journey of Dreams, Will and Helen desperately reach out toward NiGHTS as s/he smiles, takes a bow, and Disappears Into Light.
    • Link at the end of Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, tries desperately to reach out for the King of Hyrule, so he can come with him as he rises to the surface. The King, for a moment, extends his hand too, but lowers it, knowing that his place isn't in the world of the living.
      • Also done in Spirit Tracks by Link, as Zelda's body is carried off by Cole and Staven.
    • Just before the ending of Crisis Core, Cloud starts to wake from his mako addiction and reaches his hand out. Zack already has his back turned by then, however, off to face the Shinra Army that we know from the original game will kill him. He manages to catch up after the fighting, though.
    • At the very beginning of Metroid: Other M, we are taken back to the battle against Mother Brain at the very end of Super Metroid, with the Baby Metroid shielding Samus as it uses the life energy it stole to recharge her Power Suit and bring her back from near death. Just as Mother Brain is about to unleash a Hyper Beam, the Baby lets go of Samus and charges forward, taking the entirety of the blast. As Samus enters a Slow Motion Fall she reaches her hand up towards the Baby, only to see it explode before her eyes.
    • Happens several times in Mass Effect 3 where Shepard has a recurring nightmare about a little boy s/he failed to save on Earth, and at the end tries to reach the boy as he bursts into flames. Depending on your choices, this can also happen on Rannoch if you fail to solve the Geth and Quarian's conflict, so Tali is forced to watch as the Migrant Fleet gets blasted out of the sky, and starts to walk off a cliff to her death. Cruelly, right then you have a Paragon interrupt where you can reach out, but it doesn't work.

    Web Comics

    • In Gunnerkrigg Court Eglamore does this to Antimony when she falls off a bridge, however he actually shouts her mother's name by accident.
      • A symbolic one was shown between Jeanne and her lover when they became separated by the division of the forest and the Court.

    Western Animation