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In modern times this can sometimes come across as creepy or at least haughty and snobbish, especially if the guy doesn't know the woman very well. For this reason, it is sometimes done by sleazy villains in order to show up the less 'cultured' hero.
Does not usually qualify as a First Kiss (or a Last Kiss for that matter), but may if the character is depicted as reserved, so that this is the deepest expression of emotion he will allow. May therefore be a case of Anywhere but Their Lips.
Anime & Manga
- A non-romantic example occurs in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle when Fay pledges to serve Sakura in Infinity country. Despite initially appearing romantic, the actual intent of this gesture is a lot darker: Fay's actually distancing himself from his True Companions.
- Another non-romantic CLAMP example, Eriol kisses Sakura's hand (in Cardcaptor Sakura) after helping her finish a teddy bear. Because Eriol is an English exchange student, this comes off as very chivalric and gentlemanlike -- and pisses the hell out of Syaoran, Sakura's would-be love interest.
- Yet another CLAMP example! This time somewhat romantic, in a horrible screwed-up kind of way: In Tokyo Babylon a teenaged Seishirou Sakurazuka kisses a child Subaru's hands when he first meets him... leaving the mark of the Sakurazukamori on the backs.
- Mytho from Princess Tutu kisses the title character's hand before asking her "what do you think of me?"
- Done by the ridiculously over the top Tamaki in Ouran High School Host Club. Gotta love him. In episode 9 Benio does this to Haruhi as well.
- Kon (in Ichigo's body) pulls the whole "gentleman" act on Orihime in an early episode of Bleach, and kisses her hand, which prompts everybody in the classroom to flip out. He makes things worse by kissing Tatsuki on the cheek, which causes her to start throwing heavy objects at him.
- Played with in the GetBackers manga. Amon goes to kiss Kazuki's hand... but nobody told him Kazuki was a guy until Juubei had already skewered him.
- Each of the Rozen Maiden dolls has a rose ring. Mediums pledge to serve them by kissing the ring, which causes an identical ring to appear on their finger, marking them as a Medium. To release the Medium from their service, the doll must kiss the ring the Medium wears.
- Subverted in Zero no Tsukaima: Queen Henrietta offers Saito her hand to kiss, but Saito -- being from modern Japan (though this really shouldn't be an excuse) -- misunderstands what is meant by "kiss" and instead sweeps the queen off her feet in a deep embrace and kiss that leaves her stunned.
- George De Sand of Mobile Fighter G Gundam does this to his princess Marie-Louise a lot. She returns the favor in the finale by giving him a kiss... on the cheek. He also does that to Rain once, before they leave the Guyana Highlands, as thanks for her valious help.
- In Ranma ½, this is Mikado Sanzen'in's opening move on any (attractive) woman he meets; since he's charming and handsome, most girls consider it romantic. Akane's reaction when he tried it on her (if Ranma hadn't interrupted) would have been to sock him in the jaw.
- Jack Atlas of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's does this with his adoptive mother, Martha, to put an amusing spin on his obvious king complex.
- Lawrence seems to be a fan of this in the second season of Spice and Wolf. He's usually pulling Holo's leg when he does this but it's still ridiculously adorable.
- In Sailor Moon, before Helios has to return home, he kisses Chibiusa's hand while on his knees in a true gentleman fashion.
- Raphael in Angel Sanctuary does this. Often. It tends to give him the results he wants, too, until he ends up in Triangle Relations, that is.
- In the first episode, when being introduced to the Marchioness, Albert kisses her hand.
- In the eighth episode, the Count does this to Albert's mother as a greeting.
- When he tells Taki he is leaving with him, Klaus kisses Taki's hand for the first time at the beginning of Maiden Rose. Afterwards it becomes an outward symbol of Klaus' fealty as a knight and a pretty thinly-veiled way of secretly acknowledging their relationship.
- Gender-flipped in DearS, where Ren kneels before Takeya, kisses his hand, then kisses his lips. Further subverted: Ren is giving herself to Takeya as a slave.
- In Black Butler, Viscount Druitt kisses Ciel's hand when he meets him at the party, mistaking him for a girl. Ciel was crossdressing and wore a wig at the time, so it was an easy mistake to make.
- In Revolutionary Girl Utena Touga once does this to the titular Utena.
- Reimei no Arcana: Caesar to Nakaba in Chapter 13.
- In Saint Beast, Judas does this as obeisance to Zeus.
- The Sorority initiation rites in Oniisama E stipulate that the new members must do this to the Sorority president. In the present, The Protagonist Nanako and her school friend Mariko join the Sorority and have to do this to the current leader Fukiko/"Miya-sama": Mariko pulls it well enough, but Nanako is too distracted by a recent incident in which Fukiko injured Rei's hand to properly do so. While Fukiko doesn't remark on it, she's quite clearly pissed off at Nanako's lack of "submission".
- In GoLion and Voltron, some civilians do this to Princess Allura / Fala in episode 6. The reasons are different in each version: in GL they do it when they recognize her as the Princess due to her Strong Family Resemblance to her murdered mother the Queen, in Voltron they do so as thanks for her kindness towards them (due to WEP bowdlerizing the murders of the Princess' family away)
- Ollie Queen (Green Arrow) does it from time to time -- but as he's basically Errol Flynn crossed with Abbie Hoffman, he pulls it off.
- Played with in the Lucky Luke album Calamity Jane, where Jane must learn to behave like a lady, so she gets provided with a good-manners teacher. As soon she meets with him, she whacks him (off panel), and then explains: "This one wanted to lick my hand!"
- This was also done by Ellie May from The Beverly Hillbillies, both in the show and in the movie.
- Subverted massively in the second Grendel comic book series, with Christine Spar as the title character. She meets Tujiro IVX, who takes her hand as if to kiss it, then extends a tongue to lick her palm. He's a Chinese Vampire and tracks his prey using a variation of clairvoyance based on taste.
- In a Peanuts strip, Frieda tells Linus that she thinks that his security blanket is a good idea. He's so grateful, that he kisses her hand. Frieda attributes this to her naturally curly hair.
- In a series of Calvin and Hobbes strips, Calvin loses Hobbes. When Susie finds him, Calvin kisses her hand out of gratitude, despite his firm belief that Girls Have Cooties.
- And also to hide the fact that he's stealing her cookies.
- In Garfield, Garfield refuses to do it for Arlene:
Arlene: It is customary, in human circles, to kiss a lady's hand.
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero Kyon, wearing a Victorian-style suit, plays along with Yuki's, wearing an Elegant Gothic Lolita outfit, offer of tea making this gesture. His lips don't actually touch Yuki's hand though.
- Midnight Green: Zebra Mask kisses the hoof of, of all ponies, Pinkie Pie.
Films -- Animation
- Robin Hood and Little John make do with this trope and a little flattering to take the jewels off Prince John's jewels. Prince John learns from his mistake, and Little John eventually fails his second attempt.
Films -- Live-Action
- Dr. Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show does this to Janet.
- Titanic: Jack kisses Rose's hand when he meets them in the first class dining room for dinner, followed by the impish grin and the confession: "I saw that in a nickelodeon once and always wanted to do it."
- A Gender Flipped example happens at the end of the movie. But then, the guy just died.
- In the movie Gladiator, after the suspicious death of the previous emperor, Marcus Aurelius, Lucilla kisses the hands of the next emperor, Commodus, right after slapping him in a pledge of loyalty. Ironic as it is platonic on her part and not so on his. Also, a weird example of Slap Slap Kiss.
- The gesture of kissing the hand derives from ancient pledges of fealty, so it is appropriate in that context. The more classical example is "kissing the ring" as a sign of submission, still practiced in audiences with the Pope and apparently some royalty and Mafioso. One assumes it made it's way into romantic gesture territory through Courtly Love.
- Star Wars: Lando Calrissian's greeting to Princess Leia, establishing just how smooth and charming he can be, especially compared to his old friend Han Solo.
- Gangs of New York: Bill the Butcher kisses the hand of an uptown girl visiting the sleazy Five Points, complimenting her perfume. He's a corrupt murderous gang leader with class.
- Preston Preston, the villain of Young Einstein, does this to Marie Curie. It's played for creepiness here.
- In the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film, Holmes does this to Watson's wife-to-be Mary upon meeting her. It's probably intended on his part to be a bit unsettling, given that he spends the entirety of their meeting trying to drive her and Watson apart.
- In The Queen, Tony Blair is depicted as actually kissing Her Maj's hand. This is a faux pas, since the custom is supposed to be done symbolically, by holding her hand and bowing over it. None of this has anything to do with real life.
- In The Godfather, the Don's men kiss his hand. (Probably not a romantic example ...)
- Gender-flipped in the film Tuesdays With Morrie, when he was struggling to breath and the EMS were tending to him, his wife kissed his hand to assure him that things will be all right.
- In Le Gendarme se marie (part of Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez movie series), when Cruchot kiss the hand of his future wife Josépha, electric sparks fly off -- twice. Puzzled, Adjudant Gerber wonders whether Cruchot is full of static electricity, and commands him to kiss his own hand, to no result. That's when the colonel walks in...
- Anytime Thor kisses Jane's hand. Particularly the first time, since it was after Thor was causing nothing but trouble for Jane and Jane decides she can't be involved anymore and apologizes for being unable to take him where he wants to go, he thanks her for everything she's done for him and just kisses her hand.
- George kisses Mary's hand while walking her home from the high-school dance in It's a Wonderful Life.
- A non-romantic version with adopted siblings Charles Xavier and Raven/Mystique in X-Men: First Class when Mystique has decided to leave with Magneto and the injured Charles kisses her hand in farewell.
- Yuichi does this to Wataru in Only the Ring Finger Knows, in the midst of their Slap Slap Kiss banter. Since Yuichi's acted like a Jerkass to Wataru (and Wataru only, because apparently the best way to deal with loving someone of the same gender is to be nasty to them), it only reinforces Wataru's belief that Yuichi is just playing around with him, and leaves him even more steamed (and depressed).
- Many works set prior to the 20th century, such as TV/film adaptations of Jane Austen's novels.
- Poirot often does this, ever the charming Frenchman (oops, Belgian!)
- The Fool in Robin Hobb's The Tawny Man Trilogy does this to the heir of a family -- with tongue -- in order to get himself thrown out of their house.
- Combined with a suggestion that the young man and his fiancee might join him for a little...fun...later.
- Not quite the same thing, but hand-kissing between people of any sex is a common greeting custom in Lois McMaster Bujold's The Curse of Chalion. One character ecstatically greets an old friend he thought was dead by saying "I kiss your hands! I kiss your feet!" and doing the former, but not the latter; while another does the full ritual to one who has literally given his life to save her from defilement among other things.
- Also seems to be a Vorkosigan family trait. Aral does it to Cordelia a few times, Miles kisses a lot of hands and even Mark gets in on the action with Kareen.
- And it apparently passes to foster family members, as Emperor Gregor Vorbarra kisses the hand of Laisa, his future wife.
- Used both straight and subverted in the Outlander books, which are set in the 18th century. On a good day, you get Lord John Grey. On a bad day, you get the creepy fop guy who was following Claire around trying to get into her pants.
- Played with in Elminster in Myth Drannor. On the one hand, it helps to weaken Medieval Stasis and show it was an "old" setting. On the other hand, El experimentally discovers that elves don't know such a gesture...
- Yuri does this to a (male) black-ops agent in Cagebird. He means to kiss the guy's hand to get a rise out of him. When that doesn't work, he proceeds to lick it.
- In one of the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novels, the Doctor does this as an oddly casual greeting:
The Doctor took Fitz's hand, kissed it delicately, then shoved him aside. "Now, out of my way!"
- In Louise May Alcott's Little Women, Laurie goes to kiss Amy's hand. She, feeling homesick, would rather stick to a handshake, since kissing her hand is European.
- In Anne McCaffrey's first Acorna book, Baron Manjari makes a point of actually kissing Acorna's hand at her social debut instead of miming it as expected. He's just dosed her with a contact poison applied to his lips (he wipes them clean immediately afterward and takes the antidote, claiming it's his daily medication.) Too bad he didn't know about Acorna's ability to neutralize toxins.
- In a short story by Sherwood Smith, the Fish Out of Temporal Water villain does this to be polite to a young woman he conned into helping him. When the girl he's kidnapped accuses him of emotional manipulation, he is surprised to learn that people do not do that anymore.
- In Sense and Sensibility, the heroine, Elinor, has this done to her by one Colonel Brandon. He then proceeds to marry her younger sister. It was really a gesture of gratitude and respect because she heard him compassionately when he related to her his Dark and Troubled Past.
- Capt. Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth inverts the genders, with Hook's love interest kissing his hand.
- In David Eddings' Elenium and Tamuli, kissing a woman's palms is a standard greeting among the Styric ethnicity.
- On Babylon 5 Sheridan kisses Delenn's hand at the end of "Severed Dreams", partly in thanks for saving the station and partly as a romantic gesture.
- The Addams Family. "Tish! You spoke French!" (Of course, after kissing her hand, Gomez would work his way up Mortitia's arm.)
- On The Vampire Diaries, Damon kisses Elena's hand just a couple of minutes after they have an Accidental Almost Kiss.
- The overenthusiastic Italian major in Allo Allo does this with most women he meets.
- Happens a few times between Mulder and Scully on The X-Files, notably in "Redux II" and "The Truth".
- Sayid, of all people, does this to Kate in the eighth episode of Lost as he departs the beach in shame after torturing Sawyer, saying "I hope we meet again."
- Lancelot kisses Gwen's hand during their first meeting in Merlin.
- The Tudors is filled with hand-kissing. Most of it is non-romantic.
- At the end of the Doctor Who serial The Daleks one of the Thals that the heroes have been working with kisses Barbara's hand. She then kisses him on the lips.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Angel presents Buffy with her claddagh ring, she responds by kissing the identical ring on Angel's hand.
- Dong-ha kisses Je-Hyang's in I'm At End of Your Sight hand after the latter calls him up after an argument.
- The song "I Kiss Your Hand, Madame".
- In the Love Story music video, "Romeo" kisses Taylor Swift's hand.
- In the music video "On Your Mark" (animated by Studio Ghibli), one of the soldiers kisses the angel's palm before she flies away.
- Cyrano De Bergerac: Cyrano kisses the Buffet-Girl's hand after she offered him all her food. Justified because the play is a Period Piece at The Cavalier Years, and Cyrano is romantic and chivalrous, but after some Fridge Logic, it's also justified because given Cyrano's Mommy Issues this is the deepest expression of emotion he will allow.
The buffet-girl: Take something else!
- Done by Oscar to Charity in Sweet Charity, followed by a Title Drop. Charity asks her friends if it counts as a pass; they seem to doubt it.
- In an optional scene in Suikoden III the Zexen Knights have sworn fealty to their (beautiful, female and eligible) Knight Captain Chris Lightfellow upon their swords, each in turn. Chris's young page expresses a desire to do the same but complains that he lacks a sword, so instead he just kneels down and kisses her hand. The other Knights proceed to react with a mixture of rage, amusement and deep respect for his guts.
- In Suikoden V, the ridiculously foppish Euram Barows attempts this with Princess Lymsleia. Said Princess' bodyguard reminds him that her father and brother are the only men allowed to touch her until she marries, and threatens to violently enforce this rule, in the first of many, many humiliations for the unfortunate Euram.
- Fire Emblem:
- A Fire Emblem Akaneia official artwork by Kinu Nishimura features Prince Marth going on one knee and kissing his girlfriend Princess Caeda's hand, much to the joy of everyone present (save for Marisha, who's Biting the Handkerchief).
- Pictured above: If a Female Robin from Fire Emblem Awakening romances Frederick, his Love Confession portrait will have him kissing her hand. Lorenz from Fire Emblem: Three Houses does the same if he's romanced by a Female Byleth.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Jolly Elfsberry certainly has the hang of it.
- General Tarquin to Haley in strip #726 of Order of the Stick. She still stays wary of his Affably Evil manners, though.
- In Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, Lucas is gentleman enough to do this with Princess Ibkis, even though she's a female orc.
- In The Dreamer, Alexander kisses Beatrice's' hand in the fifth panel.
- Arlen in Flaky Pastry does this to Marelle when introduced to her.
- Vincent Sharpe in Grandmaster of Theft uses this during his debut towards Cassidy.
- In just about every episode of Liberty's Kids, although it may not count because it was the 1700s. It is played for laughs at times, though.
- Sonic does this to Sally towards the end of SATam, a gesture which is generally unlike him. Think of it as a Moment of Awesome for him, after the several times that Antoine has relentlessly been giving Sally kisses on the hand throughout the series.
- When Arnold in Hey Arnold finds out that his date isn't whom she said she was, he does this to her to show that no matter what he genuinely liked the date. Of course it was Helga all along...
- In Disney's Robin Hood, Robin and Little John, in disguise, use this trope to steal the rings off Prince John's fingers. When Little John tries it again later, the Prince declines, stating, "I lose more jewel's that way."
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Princess Celestia has received the occasional grateful kiss on the hoof. One was from Rarity, another that happened far earlier was from Granny Smith's father. In this case the action earned an irritated look from his wife.
- Taken to the point of ridiculousness in France in one period, where kissing someone's hand was considered a gesture of respect to them. In an effort to upstage the other person with politeness, there were reports of competitions to kiss someone's hand without your own being kissed, culminating when two people greeted each other, and one of them kept moving her hand so the other man couldn't take it to kiss. Apparently he gave up and they started talking less formally, only for him to suddenly grab her hand mid-sentence and kiss it.
- Speaking of France, in a political meeting, the then French President Jacques Chirac greeted the German Chancellor Angela Merkel by kissing her hand, showing off his old-fashioned ways. In contrast, his successor Nicolas Sarkozy greeted her casually with a hug.
- In Turkey, kissing the hands of the elderly (both male and female) is an important sign of gesture and a fairly common custom, especially from children to their grandparents. Doing it to a younger person (middle-aged and below), while acceptable in some cases, is much less common and may even be a serious faux pax. Kissing the hand of a younger woman in such manner tends to send the message that you think she is old and... yeah...
- On the other hand, in Indonesia, kids commonly kiss their parents' hand before going to school. This troper does it, nevermind he's well into the college age and by "going to school" means "going to another country to school". Neither romantic nor overly for exaggerated respect.