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One fun way of Playing with Fire is to coolly light your cigarette, cigar or pipe with a finger snap in an extravagant show of Mundane Utility. Of course, the power to hold flames in your hands can also be a potent intimidating gesture. Usually this is done by holding the palm open and facing up. Much like the Super Power equivalent of cocking the trigger on a gun, this is dangerous because it's just one step shy of firing it. Also, it looks really cool.

A few other variations apart from the finger snap and palm up are when one or both hands are held overhead and an Energy Ball is hovering over them, and the "crucifixion", which has the energy shot to the sides in a shower.

This doesn't just apply to fire powers, but any hero or villain with energy- or light-emitting powers can use these poses. If they can spread the flames to their entire body, they are Wreathed in Flames.

Examples of Finger-Snap Lighter include:


  • British Gas had a series of adverts years ago, featuring the finger-click into a thumbs up. The flame, naturally, was blue.
    • Parodied on Spitting Image in a sketch where John Major is advertising a gas cooker. His first finger-click does nothing. His second sets fire to the kitchen.
  • Sofia Vergara did a variation in this commercial for Xfinity, except it's more "striking a finger match" than finger snap lighter.

Anime and Manga

  • Recca does this a few times near the beginning of Flame of Recca.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist's Colonel Mustang wears gloves that spark when he snaps his fingers. Then he uses alchemy to gather and disperse oxygen in the air as needed to turn the tiny spark into an inferno.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Setsuna simply created a tongue of flame at the end of her finger tip. A true example would be Negi blinding her by combining his snap with light magic while he was under the effects of the world tree.
  • Early in the Sailor Moon anime, Sailor Mars' first attack conjures flames from her index fingers.
  • Yubaba from Spirited Away lights a cigarette this way while coolly threatening to roast Chihiro's parents-turned-to-pigs for her bathhouse guests' dinner.
  • Toriko lights his cigar tree branch this way. No, he doesn't have fire or any other supernatural powers besides absurd strength. Yes, he's that awesome.

Comic Books

  • Pyro does this often in the X-Men comics and adaptations.
  • In an issue of Grimjack, Crane, a Con Man is comtemplating the collapse of his latest scam when he asks a stranger in an alley for a light. The stranger was Lord Chaos from the sister comic, Warp.
  • The Human Torch of Fantastic Four is also prone to this, and literally lit someone else's cigarette - to their great surprise - this way.
  • In the graphic novel Red Star, the solders consider it good luck for a sorceress to light their cigarettes this way.
  • Liz Sherman of Hellboy and BPRD is a pyrokinetic and lights her smokes this way.


  • The demon Chernabog does this a few different ways in the Night on Bald Mountain sequence of Disney's Fantasia while demonstrating his profane powers.
  • Hades on Hercules does both the finger snap (to light a cigar) and the crucifixion (when he learns that Hercules is still alive).

Film-Live Action

  • Colwyn, a prince in the land of Krull gains the power to throw fire from his hand after reuniting with Princess Lyssa. It beings as a small flame when he holds his hand upright.
  • Egg does something similar when he lets a magical energy bolt play between his hands in Big Trouble in Little China.
  • Raising Arizona had the demonic biker Leonard Smalls do something similar to light his cigars.
  • In Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, Dr. Lao lights his pipe with a flame off of his thumb; it takes him a couple of attempts to get it to work.
  • Warlock (1989). The title character does this a couple of times, including generating a green flame to heat up some food and red flames while performing a magical ritual.
  • Done by Laurel and Hardy in Way Out West (1937; probably the Trope Maker). Stan ignites his thumb as if it were a cigarette lighter several times; each time, Ollie stares in disbelief and tries to copy him. And eventually it works for Ollie, who reacts with horrified alarm.
  • Variation: In Beetlejuice, newly deceased Adam and Barbara get the first impression something is wrong when Barbara's fingertips ignite when she holds her hands too close to a fire. After a Beat, she blows them out like birthday candles.
  • The Devil was fond of this one in Oh God! You Devil.
  • This is one of the few tricks the Devil can pull in his human form in Damn Yankees, which rather annoys him as he's trying to give up smoking.
  • Double Indemnity features a variation sans magic. Walter Neff uses the "strike-anywhere" matches that were common in the forties, and lights them with his thumbnail in a gesture that resembles a finger snap.

Folklore, Mythology, and Religion

  • Shiva's top left hand as a symbol of cosmic destruction is depicted as doing this when Shiva is portrayed as Nataraja (Lord of Dance). Shiva Nataraja is also wreathed in an aura of flame for the same reason.
  • The Archangel Uriel is frequently depicted holding a flame in his left hand.
  • In folklore of the Hawaiian Islands, the goddess Pele sometimes masquerades as a humble hitchhiker who only asks for a ride up the mountain, and asks for a cigarette. She then lights the cigarette with a snap of her fingers - and vanishes.


  • In Harry Potter, when Lupin is first seen conscious, he's got a little fireball thing in his hand, as the Dementors have made all the lights in the train go out. It's apparently not much of a big deal; he's just a pretty good wizard.
    • Or rather, it wouldn't be a big deal if he had had his wand. That makes it much more impressive.
  • Merry Gentry's Doyle does this in Kiss of Shadows, with his unearthly eat-you-alive-can't-be-put-out-by-water-green-flames-of-DEATH. He also has them float over his shoulders.
  • This trope is used by both Valentin Ivashchenko and Iar Elterrus in their respective fantasy settings - almost every mage will light a cigar, a pipe or a bonfire in this manner. As the Magic A Is Magic A rule prohibits some mages from casting fire spells, e.g. sea-wizards (limited to water and weather magic) and necromancers, any mage pulling this off is about to mess with specialization.
  • Used by Sergej Luk'yanenko - enraged Anton doesn't actually notice that a fireball forms in his palm, so he just incinerates a bowl of rice because he already has the spell readied.
  • Skulduggery Pleasant: It's how Elementals cast fireballs; they take the friction from the finger snap, add magic, then fireball.

Live Action TV

  • In Charmed demons do this a lot. In fact, one episode with Barbas the fear demon had his powers amplified, then depowered without knowing it. His look of utter confusion at not being able to conjure up a fireball this way was priceless.
  • Ted Sprague and Meredith Gordon from Heroes both do this. (Meredith does it so much that fans nicknamed her "Flamepalm."
  • In an early episode of The X-Files has a pyrokinetic villain who does this to impress two kids.
  • Kryten the android lights a cigar with a flame from his index finger in the Red Dwarf episode "Bodyswap". This was apparently a difficult and uncomfortable trick for the actor to achieve, involving pipes and cables running across the floor and up through the costume -- and not made any easier or more comfortable by the fact that the script called for him to be knee-deep in water at the time. The scene was then deleted from the finished episode, therefore making all the effort and suffering for nothing. To further add insult to injury, the footage has since gone missing and was unable to be included on the DVD.
  • Somewhere in season two of Roswell, Michael provides a literal Finger Snap Lighter to prove to a discharged army veteren that he was one of the aliens he saved while still on active duty.
  • Referenced in the opening sequence of Improv Heaven And Hell - one of the hosts (Canadian improv duo "The Devil's Advocates") demonstrated his ability to do this to light his cigarette; the other tried several times unsuccessfully, even going so far as to stick his hand in an open flame, only to finally succeed and set his whole arm alight. The first host grins at the camera and displays a small lighter hidden in his palm.
  • A Villain of the Week on Smallville does this using electricity powers to light his cigarette whilst holding the Kents hostage.
  • Done by Burgess Meredith in The Twilight Zone episode Printer's Devil, where he plays the devil.

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • Used as various intro and victory poses for Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami of King of Fighters, in both finger-snap (Kyo only) and open-palm flavors.
  • Used in adverts for the Incinerate! Plasmid in Bioshock. In fact, both Jack and Subject Delta snap their fingers when you use the plasmid. So truth in advertising!
  • Axel does this occasionally in Kingdom Hearts sometimes independently and sometimes as a part of summoning his weapon. Most notably when he does this to poor Vexen, who more or less explodes on contact (being an ice-user). "You're off the hook." *snap*
  • Mario and Luigi in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.
  • Professor Galvez in Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker has a mechanical hand with a lighter in it. Much later, he loses it, and Big Boss is seen using the hand as a cigar lighter since his regular lighter doesn't work.
  • In Rodin's intro in Bayonetta, he lights one of Enzo's cigars from a blue flame sprouted from his thumb.
  • In Sengoku Basara, Matsunaga Hisahide's fighting style is based completely around explosions and as such, he makes common use of this trope.
  • Mage!Hawke of Dragon Age II can use this in conversation to prove his/her magical ability.

Western Animation

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the firebenders do this all the time.
    • Iroh from used this in lighting some incense candles. In The Last Airbender's film trailers he is seen doing something similar with fire on the back of his hand.
  • In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra,
    • In "Welcome to Republic City" the Firebender of a Power Trio of gangsters pulls this to back up his boss's threat against a shopkeeper who was behind on his protection money.
    • In "The Voice in the Night" After Korra challenges Amon to a duel and is ambushed, she uses a ball of fire in her palm to verify that Amon did not take her bending away.
  • Shego of Kim Possible is pulling this pose on the Dark Action Girl page picture.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Knight-mare Hare", Bugs Bunny does the flaming thumb trick for a wizard, who tries in vain to do it.
    • This joke is repeated in the videogame Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time.
  • In the Heckle and Jeckle cartoon The Power Of Thought, Heckle and Jeckle demonstrate this to the bulldog cop in showing how anything is possible in a cartoon. When the cop tries it, his hand is caught on fire.
  • Bender from Futurama is often seen doing this.
  • Igor is shown doing this once in Count Duckula.


Real Life

  • While impossible to do without equipment in real life, there exist hand apparatuses for doing this as part of a stage magic show ranging from a rig that fits on the hand to fake thumbs.
  • Also a frequent magic trick is dipping one's hand in a precise mixture of alcohol and water and then lighting it on fire with a hidden spark. When done right, the water evaporates, keeping the hand cool. Although, as Richard Feynman noted, any hair on the back of your hands will act like wicks and prevent the water from properly cooling the flame.
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