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How're they playing those guitars, again?

"So the dog brings out the trash? How can it even hold things with those knubby arms?"
Mr. Dwicky, Invader Zim "Vindicated!"

A character in an animated work has no apparent hands, but yet still manages to pick things up and manipulate things as if he/she did. Some do have thumbs, some don't have thumbs, and some have thumbs appear when grasping something or gesturing, but disappear otherwise.

Tends to be present either western animation or anime. Can sometimes be a feature of a Super-Deformed design.

Subtrope of Invisible Anatomy.

Examples of Powerpuff Girl Hands include:

Animated Films

  • Dolly from Toy Story 3 has thumbless hands like The Powerpuff Girls, but she has two lines of stitching on each hand that indicate fingers. Justified in that she is a ragdoll.

Anime and Manga

  • The Azumanga Daioh characters in Art Shift mode.
  • Doraemon doesn't have any visible fingers, yet he is able to do things normal people can do, with some minor appearance of his fingers.
    • That's because he has a sticky-thing on each of his hand[1]. He also hates the fact that he can only play rock in rock, paper, scissors.
  • Mesousa in Pani Poni Dash!. One of his many laments was that he had no thumbs or fingers of any kind, and could barely manipulate objects.


  • Most Bionicle characters prior to the '09 line of sets (which first introduced an original hand-piece) manipulated things with their unmoving "hands" in animation, if you can even call those pieces they had hands. Clenched fists, open palms, pointing finger -- these were all accomplished by the same inarticulate LEGO piece. Even if a character had fingers, some animations still depicted objects simply sticking to their palms. Averted in the Direct to Video movies, in which they were given five, at times four-fingered hands. Strangely played straight in a scene from the first movie, however, when Takua uses a never-before seen magnetic force to pull a wooden staff to his palm. In fact Word of God claimed that when we don't see the characters using fingers, they utilize their magnetic abilities (also used for keeping their masks on their faces and backpacks on their backs, no matter what material they're made of).

Web Original

  • In Happy Tree Friends, every character except Lumpy has only thumbs, but still shows fine motor control, such as clenching objects and manipulating small devices.
    • Handy loses this ability when he's on screen (what with having amputated arms).
  • Homestar Runner: Strong Bad has boxing gloves for hands, yet still displays excellent fine motor control, such as typing on a keyboard. Do NOT ask how they work.
    • He can also flip you the bird. As can Homestar. Don't ask how.
    • The Cheat, Bubs, and Pom Pom lack distinguishable hands, but they can manipulate things just fine. Coach Z does have hands, but they're more like mitten, with a thumb and one big finger.
  • Not only do people in Zero Punctuation have circular hands, they don't have arms; their hands just float in space. This is Lampshaded by the credits once, when Yahtzee has injured himself by overusing the Guitar Hero controller:

 Did no-one else think it was weird for the character in image 110 to wearing a sling when he only has free-floating circular hands?

  • Everyone from Retarded Animal Babies. This is actually lampshaded in the Thanksgiving episode where Puppy actually forces Bunny to punch a turkey with brass knuckles, but Bunny cannot put them on because he has no fingers. Puppy then proceeds to cut up Bunny's hands so that he now has "fingers."

Western Animation

  • The penguins in Madagascar and The Penguins of Madagascar use their flippers like hands.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has this, despite producer Lauren Faust apparently placing clear orders against their use. Although most of the time ponies use their mouths or magic to manipulate objects, there are cases where they grab things with their hooves. To be fair this is normally a script issue, one storyboard artist relating a tale of a script requiring a character to use a pointer and speak at the same time. Every once in a while they'll come up with a clever aversion though (such as an umbrella that is connected to a saddle rather than having to be held).
    • The older My Little Pony Tales series had them use their hooves as hands almost exclusively, with no difficulties, no explanations, and no lampshading.
    • My Little Pony is far from the first instance of equine tool use -- the Houyhnhnm from Gulliver's Travels hold items between the hoof and the pastern.
  • The Powerpuff Girls is the Trope Namer and possibly the Trope Codifier.
    • Lampshaded in an episode in which the Powerpuff Girls end up switching bodies with Professor Utonium, Miss Bellum and the Mayor, leading to Buttercup having trouble using Prof. Utonium's hands.
    • Lampshaded again when they play rock-paper-scissors to decide who gets stuck with an unwanted chore. Somehow, they're able to determine who drew what. And Bubbles always loses.
    • And yet again when the Girls are forced to travel by foot and Buttercup complains that their feet clearly weren't meant for walking.

  "I'm using muscles I didn't even know I had!"

    • When Mojo Jojo hosted Cartoon Cartoon Fridays, he would joke about how the girls were apparently beating him with "flippers."
  • Pingu the penguin used his flippers like hands.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Patrick Star and picks up and manipulates objects despite being a starfish with no appendages.
    • As does Plankton.
  • Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, and Tigger have thumbless, fingerless hands like that of The Powerpuff Girls. Pooh and Tigger also have thumbs that appear only when grasping something or gesturing. Justified in that they're stuffed animals.
  • The clay characters in Gumby, such as the title character, have fingerless hands. Justified in that they're made of clay.
  • The way most characters were drawn in the early episodes of South Park they only appeared to have thumbs, but they did gain fingers in order to perform certain tasks or emphasize with their hands, in the later episodes their fingers are more visible and the guest stars fingers are usually more pronounced.
  • Everybody in Making Fiends has mitten hands.

Video Games

  1. It's an extremely localized magnetic field, apparently