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People are separated by glass: a window, a door, the Plexiglass barriers they have in the visiting rooms of a prison, whatever. They can't touch, so they place their hands on opposite sides of the glass in a gesture of wordless comfort.
A little bit trickier, but also possible, with an opaque barrier.
This can also cover kisses or other attempts to touch through a barrier. See also Separated by the Wall.
Anime & Manga
- Happens at the beginning of the Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle manga with Sakura and Syaoran.
- Star Driver:It big trend for the boy to go outside to a different class and ask a girl to kiss against the window them to show affection without being too serious. Several characters does this, and one girl. Kanako love doing this as way to show affection without cheating her husband.
- From Fantastic Four we have the Thing and the Human Torch, when Human Torch dies.
Film -- Animated
- There's an instance of this with Lisa and her boyfriend in The Simpsons Movie.
Film -- Live Action
- Spock and Kirk in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in Spock's death scene is the Ur Example of this trope. Spock's doing the Vulcan salute, Kirk just puts his hand up there. It's quite the Tear Jerker. (Alternatively, they're Vulcan kissing through the window, which makes it more tragic).
- Wolverine and Stryker in X-Men 2, with a semitransparent sheet of ice between.
- Happens in Project X with a chimp trapped inside and the trainer on the outside. The chimp likes to imitate people smoking, so the trainer places a cigarette against the glass.
- In Half Baked they put their fists against the glass. Subverted on a later prison visit when Kenny yells, "No more window love. Go sell it." Trope Namer.
- Happens in the live-action movie Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995), where this is a almost an open "secret handshake" of the protagonist group. They're mostly (all) cons and do this when they visit when one of them is in prison. (Badly phrased but can't think of a better description).
- In The Cable Guy, Chip tries to make Steven do it, but he refuses.
- Dark City: It looks like John and Emma are about to do this, but John uses his power to break the glass.
- Taken to extremes in the obscure 80s film Crystal Heart which features a couple having sex by rubbing against either side of a sheet of glass. Yes, really.
- Appears in the John Waters film Cry-Baby, in a song and dance number which the director says was inspired by peep shows and gloryholes.
- In Midnight Express, with Boobies! And A Date with Rosie Palms.
- In Deep Impact, one of the shuttle astronauts shares Window Love with the infant son he's never seen and still can't see, because he's been flash-blinded and about to make a Heroic Sacrifice by way of a video screen.
- In the little-known movie Mr. Stitch this is tragically done in the scene where Lazarus dies
- Parodied in this scene from Penelope.
- The 1992 French movie L'Amant (The Lover, adapted from the eponymous novel by Marguerite Duras). The protagonist, a fifteen year-old French schoolgirl, is given a lift (with heavy UST) to her school by a wealthy Chinese man who fell in Love At First Sight with her. The next days she's surprised to see his limousine parked outside the school, so she walks up to the car and sensuously presses her lips to the window where he's sitting in the back seat.
- In The Great Muppet Caper, Kermit visits Piggy in jail disguised as a mustached lawyer to tell Piggy they're going to catch the real crooks and clear her name. They kiss through the screen, leaving Piggy wearing a mustache and Kermit with mesh marks on his face.
- Parodied in Return of the Killer Tomatoes (AKA Attack of the Killer Tomatoes II). When Tara is being gassed, she slaps her hand onto the glass in the door. Chad bereavedly trails his hand down after hers. She then slaps it up again, several times, and he follows it each time.
- In the book trilogy The Nine Lives of Chloe King by Celia Thomson, Chloe does this with her Love Interest, whom she can't touch without poisoning.
Live Action TV
- In Battlestar Galactica:
- Kara Thrace does it to a Cylon in "Flesh and Bone".
- Tyrol, with Boomer, in "Someone to Watch Over Me".
- Multiple times in Pushing Daisies, since Ned and Chuck can't actually touch directly.
- Doctor Who does it a few times.
- Rose and The Doctor do it with a wall, and different universes, in the finale of season 2. They go as far as to press their whole bodies against the barrier.
- And again in "The Girl Who Waited", between Old Amy and Rory.
- In the Bones episode where the cast is stuck in the lab over Christmas because of a possible infection, most of them end up doing this with their visitors; Hodgins does the kiss variant with his girlfriend.
- Heroes has a subversion. When DL goes to visit Niki in jail, it looks like they're going to do this, but since DL's power is that he can pass through solid objects, they actually get to hold hands.
- Season 2 of The Wire has a lot of this, because of its secondary focus on the prison lives of D'Angelo and Avon Barksdale. D'Angelo and Brianna do a fairly standard open-palmed not-touch; Avon and Stringer Bell fist-bump through the glass.
- In the previews for the ICarly special entitled iPsycho there's a scene where Sam forces Freddie to make out with a girl on the other side of a glass window. It's quite creepy.
- In one episode of The Invisible Man, the main character, Darian Fawkes, is incarcerated. When he speaks to his partner, Bobby Hobbes, through the glass, Hobbes puts his hand up for Fawkes to touch it. Fawkes, instead, gives him a dirty look.
- This happens at the end of the Due South episode "Gift of the Wheelie", in a scene where a teenager is visiting his father, who's in prison for bank robbery.
- In the Veronica Mars episode "Silence of the Lamb", Mac and her biological mother touch through a car window, letting each other know that they both are aware of her parentage.
- Shown in The Mentalist episode "Code Red" with a murder victim and her husband.
- In Better Off Ted, Ted and Linda make out through a pair of hazmat suits.
- Non-romantic examples are all over in 24.
- A non-romantic version occurs between Grissom and Nick in CSI when they need to calm Nick down before they can open the box he was buried in.
- Kate and Jack in Lost season 3, across a glass barrier.
- Alisha and Curtis in Misfits hold hands through a glass table (Alisha's powers strike you with uncontrollable lust whenever you touch her, which can ruin the mood a little).
- At the end of the Charmed episode "Chick Flick", Phoebe and her fictional horror-movie crush do this through the fourth wall to say goodbye.
- When Kate goes to visit Neal in prison in White Collar, he tries to do this but she'll have none of it. Later, when he watches the security footage, he realizes she's tapping her leg in Morse code to send him a secret message instead.
- At the end of the Farscape episode "Revenging Angel", Crichton and D'Argo touch hands apologetically through one of Moya's windows (and Crichton's spacesuit).
- Parodied on the sitcom Titus, where Titus finds out that his younger brother, Dave, got arrested and finds him in a cell with a Plexiglass barrier. Titus and Dave touch their hands on the glass and Titus's dad says, "Isn't that cute? Two brothers joined at the wussy!"
- In the Blink 182 video for "Feeling This", two teens make out through a glass window.
- The Foo Fighters in "Walking After You".
- Snow Patrol and Martha Wainwright's "Set the Fire to the Third Bar".
- The music video for "Poor Leno" by Röyksopp shows a strange bear-like creature doing this to another similar creature in a zoo pen.
- Played for laughs in the Otis Lee Crenshaw song "Glass" where, after several window love encounters, a convict develops a sexual fetish for glass windows.
- The video for Travis Tritt's Best of Intentions, when the man's wife visits him in prison. The gesture is repeated later, once he's been pardoned... this time with no glass between them.
- In Ever 17, Takeshi and Sora share a touch through a glass. Bonus points for Sora being a hologram, and therefore incorporeal. In fact, her incorporeality is why they do this - it's the closest thing he can get to touching her.
- Used oddly in 6 Days a Sacrifice. Dacabe does the rare "through an opaque wall" variation, trying to reach Janine. She's actually inside the wall, dead.
- No More Heroes: The ending of the second game has Sylvia and Travis each pressing a hand against a window. Sylvia says, "Travis...my No More Hero!"