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File:Spock giving vulcan salute 286x215.jpg

"Live long and prosper"


Helix: Is command presence also why people do the Sam Salute when they recognize you?

Sam: Sam Salute. That's not the gesture with the finger, is it?

Helix: No, I mean the one where people put their hand over their wallet.

Sam: Oh, that one. I'm pretty sure that's a sign of respect.
Captain Hollister: "Rimmer, is this salute ever going to end?"

Exactly What It Says on the Tin, a Strange Salute is simply an idiosyncratic greeting gesture featured in a piece of fiction. While understandably most common in Mildly Military series, a Strange Salute can pop up anywhere, at any time, provided that it is both common and codified enough to go beyond a mere single oddity.

Note that this Trope covers only strictly fictional salutes, saluters and/or salutees. If Those Wacky Nazis set their right arms straight at a 45-degree-angle above the horizontal (and slightly to the right) to greet Adolf Hitler in a Wartime Cartoon, it's certainly a salute - one some might even find strange - but not a Strange Salute. Now, on the other hand, if it were Scary Dogmatic Aliens doing the same thing to the Big Bad in a Space Opera, well, well...

For the more general version, see Memetic Hand Gesture.

Examples of Strange Salute include:


  • In Crest of the Stars and its sequels, Abh uses the Polish-style two-fingers salute, except that in this version, the palm is facing downward.
  • The Hige-Hige salute in Bomberman Jetters is about as absurd as it can get: one extends both arms, hands folded into fists, to the right, draws a full circle with them in the vertical plane, and finishes by bending one's left leg. You should end up with something like this.
  • In Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny, the ZAFT troops have a distinctive salute wherein the right hand (if present) is raised to one's temple, open palm facing inwards, towards the face, while the elbow stays directly below it, almost touching one's side. There is even a brief scene in SEED where Lacus coaches Kira how to do it properly. Don't try it at home unless you have an anime character's waist.
    • Which may be yet another of numerous shout outs to earlier Gundam and Gundam-related Humongous Mecha series, in this case, to Space Runaway Ideon, whose Buff Clan military personnel salutes each other exactly the same way.
  • Agents of the AEGIS Network in Gate Keepers salute by putting their right fists over the left side of their chests, and then moving their arms back to the right side as they form an inward-facing V sign. Yes, a V sign.
  • A couple of these appear in One Piece. The White Berets of Skypeia make an odd hand gesture on their foreheads. Marines salute palm-inwards. Though, according to Oda, the latter is an actual sailor salute used to avoid showing tar-stained hands to your superiors.
  • In Starblazers (Space Battleship Yamato), the regular military has the typical American salute, but the Star Force salute is fist over heart, palm down.
  • Throughout the entire opening to Elfen Lied, the protagonist is depicted making a curious one-handed sign: With the back of her hand outward, middle and ring finger held together and the rest apart. Never seen or explained in the actual story. Hint: Compare with the Vulcan Salute depicted above. Very in-character.
  • In Interstella 5555 alien's soliders place closed fist over the heart.
  • From Tsuritama, Akira's crew hold up cards emblazoned with a "D", strike a Ginyu Force-esque pose, and shout "Duck!"

Comic Books

  • In Franquin's Spirou and Fantasio series, the dictator Zantafio of Palumbia invents a salute where people have to move their hand, thumb upside down, over their head.
  • Sometimes, Star Wars Expanded Universe comic books have some variant of American or British salutes. Sometimes they don't. There are a couple of cases where Imperials used something like the Roman salute, which the Nazi one is based on. And in one comic where Luke greets a superior his palm is turned outwards in what really looks like some kind of salute - since it's one panel and we see it from the superior's POV, it's hard to tell.

Fan Works


  • There's the infamous "crossed arms" from Plan 9 from Outer Space (screenshot).
  • The Spaceball fleet in Spaceballs has a couple. First we have Lord Helmet's minions covering their groins whenever they speak to him (though this might be a purely practical defensive action, given his preferred method of dealing with sub-par performance). Then there's President Scroob's salute: make a rude hand sign, then immediately pretend to wave politely; perfectly appropriate for a two-faced backstabbing organization.
  • In Galaxy Quest, the salute is for a fist to be placed over the heart, accompanied by saying "Never give up, never surrender."
  • In the Marx Brothers film Duck Soup, the soldiers of Freedonia salute by placing their arm horizontally, with a down-facing open palm, across their chest.
  • In the 1984 film version of 1984, soldiers marching on parade and the Outer Party members at a frenzied "Two Minutes Hate" wave both clenched fists overhead with their wrists crossed. A very similar gesture is seen in Pink Floyd: The Wall, but there the wrists are repeatedly banged together.
  • In the films based on Tolkien's fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings, the soldiers of the hosts of Minas Tirith in Gondor salute by holding their right hand in a fist over their heart with the enclosed palm facing inwards. This is often accompanied by a half bow or a tip of the head forward. In the book, they put both hands on their chest and bow their heads.
  • In Monty Python's Life of Brian, members of the People's Front of Judea (Officials) salute each other by holding the right hand in a fist to the right temple, palm out.
  • The air guitar riff in Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure, thanks to the idiot protagonists' historical influence, becomes the standard salute of the future.
  • In the 2004 movie version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Oompa-Loompas salute by crossing their arms over their chests (possibly inspired by the Plan 9 from Outer Space example mentioned above).
  • In Moon Child, Sho, Kei and Toshi have a private friendship salute that involves placing their index and middle fingers at the bridge of their noses, sticking their thumbs out (sort of like a gun, but the fingers are more spread) and saluting in an outwards curve.
  • In The Last Castle, Robert Redford's character, a three-star general is put into a military prison. When the other inmates begin to respect him, they aren't permitted to salute, so they improvise by waving at him when they pass him. Their intent is clear.
  • In the german movie Die Welle (The Wave) the salute of the titular student organisation was a sea-wave hand motion.
  • In Morons from Outer Space, Griff Rhys Jones guiltily claps a hand over the breast pocket of his stolen uniform to hide the name tag (in case someone realises it's not his) this is mistaken for a salute by visiting politicians who return it, then use it to a colonel, who returns it also.
  • In the 2011 Captain America film, the members of Red Skull's Hydra organisation give a fist-clenched double Nazi salute. This gives an effect not dissimilar to pantomime hang-gliding.


  • This is, in fact, Older Than Print, with Dante's Divine Comedy having an example with Malacoda and the Malebranche: One of the demons salutes his cohorts by farting.
  • Dr. Seuss's The Birthday Book has a special birthday salute that involves standing on one foot. This being Dr. Seuss, it also has a fun name.
    • The Movie of Horton Hears A Who also has the Whos salute by pressing their foreheads with their thumbs and holding their hands sideways.
  • When Detritus the troll first joins the Night Watch, he can't get the hang of saluting, and tends to knock himself out.
  • Stanley Howler of the Post Office (Going Postal) is introduced while standing to attention with "one side significantly more at attention than the other." He was raised by peas, he tends to turn towards the light, Groat says.
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan, book 5, Trials of Death, the vampires Darren passes on the way to his trials do a strange sign, placing their hand in front of their face with the middle finger on their forehead, with the index and ring fingers placed on the eyelids. This is called the Death's Touch, which is meant to mean "even in death, may you be triumphant". Becomes a Meaningful Echo later in the book.
  • In the Sword of Truth series, the D'Haran salute has the soldier in question place a fist to their heart.
  • Larry Niven's Kzinti salute by raking their claws horizontally in front of their eyes.
  • In Walter Jon Williams' Dread Empire's Fall series, the standard salute is to lift your chip up and to the side, symbolically baring your throat to your superior.
  • Kim Newman puts one into his The Man From The Diogenes Club story "Swellhead", for comic effect. Swellhead's troopers salute him by placing a closed fist on their forehead; One character, observing this, struggles not to laugh (which would probably get her killed) as it's what kids use to say "knobhead".
  • In the Star Trek Novel Verse, the Kinshaya flare their wings as their version of a salute - this also serves to display the wing colours that signify family lineage, reinforcing the hierarchy in more ways than one.
  • The Vorkosigan Saga has the 'Analyst's Salute', which is a two-fingered wave in the general direction of the forehead. Apparently, most analysts can't be bothered to learn how to salute properly.
  • In The Hunger Games, District 12 has a salute - touching the middle three fingers of the left hand to their lips and holding it out - that means thanks, adoration, and goodbye to someone you love.
  • The Tribe in the Warrior Cats series has a greeting gesture, which the Clan cats find strange: extending a paw while bowing the head.
  • Bill the Galactic Hero, having two right arms, is the only man in the military able to salute with both arms at once.

Live Action TV

  • The TV series Xena: Warrior Princess has the traditional greeting/gesture of submission utilized when entering Amazon territory consisting of raising one's arms and crossing one's wrists above one's head, wrists inward. This is, presumably to attest to one's lack of access to weapons. William Moulton Marston might just have something else to say about that, however. Additionally being as most characters we see performing the gesture are female--and considering the orientation of many Amazon warriors... * display* might not have been excluded entirely from the equation, either, shall we say...
  • Star Trek, the perennial Mildly Military Space Opera, of course featured a gazillion of these.
  • Occupants of The Village in The Prisoner bid farewell by saying the phrase "Be seeing you" after forming a monocle over one's eye with the thumb and the forefinger, with the rest of the fingers extended diagonally above the forehead.
  • The Psi Corps in Babylon 5 have a similar salute, except lacking any greeting phrase and with the "monocle" formed over one's forehead to symbolize a third eye.
    • The salute and the use of the phrase "Be seeing you" are deliberate homages to The Prisoner TV series.
    • The Narns, meanwhile, cross their arms across their chest, hands balled up as fists, as a salute.
    • The Minbari Warriors hold their right fist in front of the chest, with the open left palm pressed against the right fist (think the standard "tough guy" pose), while half-bowing. The Minbari Religious Caste has a relatively simple bow while steepling the fingers.
  • Parodied in Red Dwarf, with Rimmer inventing his own ridiculously complicated salute. He's actually injured himself performing the more complicated variants of this salute.
    • Further explored in the books, where the 'Double Rimmer' is joined by the "Full Rimmer" and the "Single Rimmer," three rotations of the wrist before a salute "for emergencies." That's the simplified one.
    • The full service one shows up in one of the later episodes. It's contrasted with Lister's less than military friendly wave to the captain.
  • Another British comedy to feature the continual use of salutes is Garth Marenghi's Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. This spoof horror 1980s television show contains the main protagonist, Dr. Rick Dagless M.D., utilising dramatic salutes in several situations; for example, he salutes his fellow doctors after a successful mission or children patients after he's saved their lives.
  • In 3rd Rock from the Sun, the High Commander salutes The Big Giant Head by hitting the palm of his right hand onto his forehead, rotating the hand. The rest of the aliens salute by holding their right hands towards their foreheads with the palm facing upwards and fingers pointing to the right.
  • In the Doctor Who serial Paradise Towers the caretakers saluted by holding up their hand horizontally under their nose!
    • In the episode Inferno, The fascist army of an alternate-history UK had a salute sort of like the Vulcan one, but without the split fingers.
    • The New Cybermen acknowledge orders by placing their fists over their "C" chest-logos.
    • In "Genesis of the Daleks," we learn that a Kaled salute is a quick stamp of the heels. In "Remembrance of the Daleks," Ratcliffe greets someone in this manner. Given Ratcliffe's fascistic tendencies, it's entirely intentional.
  • Parodied in "The Architect's Sketch" on Monty Python's Flying Circus, which features a number of increasingly bizarre secret Masonic handshakes.
  • Camp Cariboo did a segment on funny handshakes, from lumberjacks to foot doctors (described as "corny") and farmers (""udderly ridiculous").
  • An episode of Welcome Freshmen had a very long salute done by the new militaristic Hall Monitors that involved using both hands and a full spin, accompanied by drumbeats. Each monitor had to give the full salute every time he was given an order, which gave the offending student time to just walk away without being apprehended.
  • The humans of the Pegasus galaxy in Stargate Atlantis lean their foreheads against each other. The Jaffa in Stargate SG-1 have a few of these as well.
  • In Power Rangers SPD and in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, the SPD salute consists of clenching your right hand into a fist over your left shoulder, then drawing it over your heart.

Tabletop RPG

  • In the Imperium of Man, a common way to salute is to form the "aquila" symbol, by crossing your hands over your chest, fingers outstretched, so that your hands form the symbolic wings and the thumbs intertwined to form the double head of the eagle.
    • It's also an expression of piety roughly equivalent to crossing yourself.
    • And if you're a member of the Cult Mechanicus, the "sign of the cog" is basically the same, just curve the fingers to shorten the wings to gear teeth. Convenient!
    • The old, pro-Unity salute was a single clenched fist to the chest. Dan Abnett has a very old Space Marine use it instead of the aquila in Horus Rising.
      • That's actually the standard Space Marine salute by the 41st millennium.
    • There's also a single handed variant mentioned in the Ciaphas Cain series, known as "thumbing the palm": fingers slightly splayed, with the tip of the thumb resting just between the start of the index and middle fingers

Video Games

  • In Assassin's Creed, Lucy Stillman identifies herself as a friend of Desmond by holding her right hand open to her chest and curving in her ring finger (think "the shocker"). This identifies her as an Assassin, and therefore an ally of Desmond. Whether this is a Assassin salute or simply a coded gesture she hopes Desmond will understand is up for grabs - it represents Altair's loss of his ring finger to make room for the hidden blade.
  • The Windurstian salute in Final Fantasy XI is pretty bizarre - you hold your arms before you diagonally, with your fingertips nearly meeting up top. The San d'Orian and Bastokan salutes are more normal - stand at attention and pound your forearm and fist to your chest, and step forward with your left foot while holding your right arm (with balled fist) out before you horizontally as though to guard, respectively. There are also cutscene-only Jeunoan and Aht Urghanian salutes; Aht Urghan's is also pretty weird - with a flattened hand, start at the top of your head and trace a three-quarter circle to your side.
    • Obviously, the last Star Sybil was Gendo Ikari.
    • Then there's the salute from the followers of the church of Altana. Raise both hands, open and palms up, while bowing your head.
  • The 10 (soon to be 12) playable races in World of Warcraft each have their own unique salute.
  • In the Quest for Glory series, the Thieves' Sign (a type of salute for thieves to covertly make themselves known to other thieves) changed slightly throughout the games, but involved something similar to crossing your eyes while wiggling the fingers on one hand and rubbing your belly with the other. It had a few practical uses for progressing in the game, but mostly it just made people think you were a little loopy.
  • Show Me Your Moves! This is Captain Falcon's taunt phrase accompanied by the salute.
  • In the second Paper Mario game, the X-Nauts salute by crossing their arms in an x over their chests.
  • Cloud in Final Fantasy VII, asked by some soldiers to come up with a "special move" with which to salute Rufus, teaches them a very Strange Salute: a straight adaptation of his Victory Pose.
  • The SeeD salute in Final Fantasy VIII consists of raising the right hand, palm turned inward, to partially cover the face. This becomes a minor plot point later in the game, when Selphie uses the wrong salute when disguised as a Galbadian soldier. Another point has Rinoa pretending to be a SeeD, and is shown mimicking it with a slight delay, as she was never taught it.
  • Final Fantasy X: The prayer of the Yevon religion is, to Tidus' suprise, the same as the mundane blitzball victory gesture he always used in Zanarkand: hold hands before torso as if holding a blitzball, then bow. The blitzball victory sign became the real Zanarkand's act of defiance against Bevelle in the war 1000 years ago, and when Yu Yevon subdued them, he had Bevelle adopt the victory sign as their prayer to show their obedience to him.
    • There's also a Crusader salute, which consists of a clenched left fist held directly in front of your heart.
  • In Final Fantasy X 2, the Youth League members salute with their arm horizontal across their chest, and their open palm facing down.
  • In Space Rangers, the Maloqs are a Proud Warrior Race Guy, whose salute is punching the one being saluted in the shoulder. If you wish to show great respect for the other, you punch them in the jaw. Because Maloqs are physically very strong, diplomacy can be bit iffy; in one quest, a Maloq purposefully holds himself back in order to not kill you with his punch.
  • The Brotherhood of Nod's salute is downright tame compared to some other video game examples: just thrust your fist to your heart, and there you go. Bowing your head or reciting Nod's mantras is optional, but fully welcomed.
  • City of Heroes: Going Rogue introduced the Praetoria salute: Feet together, right hand outstretched, palm down, then bend elbow, placing hand over heart, then bow head.
  • Metroid: Other M has soldiers giving a thumbs up after a briefing. It's not clear whether this is a universal salute or just used to indicate understanding. Samus herself gives a thumbs down.
  • Viewtiful Joe has 'The Airplanes'. Bend your ring and index fingers, and stick your little finger and thumb out to the sides. Turn your palm towards yourself if you're the one being awesome, otherwise point your middle finger at the recipient. This is what it should look like.

Web Original

  • Doctor Steel - In several of his propaganda posters, Dr. Steel is shown saluting with his fist over his heart, looking up and (usually) to his right (toward a better future?). This has become the Real Life de facto salute of his fan club, the Army of Toy Soldiers.
  • Kickassia salute is Flipping the Bird and "up yours" both at the same time. Kick ass!

Western Animation

  • The DOOP in Futurama have their own salute. The story behind this one is apparently that one of the writers asked his son "How do they salute in the future?".
  • MAD agents from Inspector Gadget essentially punch themselves in the temple to salute their superiors. It's accompanied by a hollow knocking sound effect, and looks like it hurts. More than likely, Dr. Claw made it up so his minions would injure themselves for his amusement.
  • The Fire Nation in Avatar: The Last Airbender has a universal fist-against-palm salute the characters find themselves in need of picking up on.

Real Life

  • In Imperial China, Chinese military officers and martial arts practitioners salute each other in the now-famous fist-in-palm salute. The fist means the strength and courage of the wielder, while the palm symbolizes the wisdom and temperance that controls said strength.
    • This follows protocol, however. Its not always your right hand that forms the fist. If you're left handed, then that hand becomes the fist, as it is where your strength is focused.
    • Corollary, if you're saluting with a weapon, ensure that your palm covers the hand that holds the weapon, as shown here. This retains the "wisdom controlling strength" message of the salute
  • Using the actual British military salute in an American drama, or vice-versa, can essentially function as an example of this trope in terms of exotic-ness. While both salutes are identical in function, the palm is turned outward in a British salute, whereas in an American salute the palm is turned downward and slightly towards the body.
    • And in the Royal Navy, just turn the palm inward! This is an old tradition from the days of sail, where sailors would hide their tar-stained hands from an officer when they saluted.
    • Stephen Colbert infuriated knowledgeable fans when he accidentally used the British variant on screen. Although he claims not to read the forums ("they scare me") he has always used the proper American salute since.
  • Due to its visible similarity to the Nazi salute (as both were derived from the Roman salute), the Bellamy salute was dropped from the United States flag code during World War Two, replaced with the now familiar hand-on-heart salute.
  • During The Vietnam War, an Australian Colonel was assigned to a U.S. Marine unit. Apparently every time he walked through the camp, Marines would purposely cross his path to make him salute in the Aussie fashion (same as the British one above -- Palm forward, arm rotates out sideways and up, then snaps straight down).
  • The French military salute with palms facing out, almost flat against the brow. In the old days, Foreign Legion hardcases would have insulting or obscene things tattooed on the blade of their hands, so they'd automatically insult any officer they saluted.
  • The Polish army has a very specific two-finger salute, one very similar to the one used by the Scouts, which was so exotic to some foreign officers during the WW 2, that they had some of the troops arrested, thinking they were being mocked.
  • The 'Devil horns' heavy metal salute. Extend index and pinky fingers, fold thumb over middle and ring fingers. Can be displayed in either direction. There is also a variation that combines this with the crossed arms across the chest. It has another form where one extends only the pinkies on both hands and places both fists together.
    • Known to Discworld readers as the "Holy Horns of Om", Om being the god honoured by the salute. Serves roughly the same purpose as a Christian crossing himself.
    • Similarly used as the symbol of the winter god Ulric in Warhammer.
    • Also seen as the "Hook 'Em Horns" of the University Of Texas (Pres. George W. Bush flashed them at a game, causing some people who Did Not Do the Research to think he was flashing Satan/gang signs).
    • According to the satirical movie that accompanies a segment in the Blue Man Group's concert, it's a tribute to Floppy The Banjo Playing Clown, whose history and influence on rock and roll they go into. The two fingers represent his hairdo.
    • And also seen as an extremely insulting Italian (or maybe pan-European?) gesture meaning "cuckold." The UT marching band went on tour once, and almost caused an incident.
  • The "Vanilla Ice" salute (though I'm sure he didn't invent it), which is the exact opposite of the "Devil Horns"; i.e. the middle and ring fingers are extended while the index and pinky fingers are curled.
    • This is almost identical to Dane Cook's Superfinger, a Strange Obscene Gesture.
  • The salute described above for The Prisoner was originally known as the "Sign of the Fish", and was used by early Christians in the Roman Empire (before it converted, naturally) as a means of identifying one another.
  • The Young Pioneers in U.S.S.R. saluted by raising an inclined arm in front of their forehead (as if they tried to cover their eyes from sun but with an outstretched hand).
  • Competitive marching bands and drum corps normally have elaborate salutes given by the drum major/field commander at the start of the performance to signal the band's readiness to begin. These usually, but not always, include an American military-style hand to the forehead in the midst of some complicated arm movements. Some bands devise a new salute each year that goes with the theme of their show, while others, especially world-class drum corps such as the Cavaliers, have an iconic salute used every year. These salutes are judged as part of the performance.

  Announcer: Field Commander [name], is your band ready? *salute* [Name of band], you may take the field in competition.