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Bob and Alice are eating together, either at a restaurant or at someone's house, or they're sitting in the same boardroom for a business conference or some other type of important meeting. Alice is in a playful mood, or she's of a mind to seduce Bob. At the same time, she doesn't want her intentions to be too obvious to the other persons present, and verbally expressing herself directly to Bob is out of the question and/or would be inappropriate for the occasion.
So, Bob and Alice are sitting directly apart from each other at the table. It gives Alice the perfect opportunity.
Underneath the table, away from the eyes of others, she slips off one or both of her shoes and, using her feet, caresses Bob's legs. If she's feeling really adventurous, she'll go higher. Above the table, she can look nonchalant or indifferent so as to not arouse suspicion, or she can have a coy little smile as she enjoys watching Bob's reaction to her hidden antics, whether he's embarrassed or enjoying the attention she's giving him.
In fiction, this trope is usually invoked by a woman toward a man in order to express physical attraction that cannot otherwise be expressed for one reason or another; but the reverse (man to woman) is also possible. The Ho Yay and Les Yay versions of this trope are not unheard of, either.
In these cases, the recipient's reaction/response may vary. He/She may be flustered or embarrassed, or may actually like the attention and even reciprocate. Alternately, he/she may pull away to show a lack of interest or, in extreme cases, make a move to stand up--if the instigator doesn't get kicked for their trouble.
A sub-trope of Foot Focus, and often it's a very specific type of Fetish. When done in fictional settings, it's done for Author Appeal or Fan Service. If the perpetrator is a woman, it's sometimes done to emphasize that She's Got Legs.
Compare Naughty Under the Table.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: In our introduction to Kaji he does this to Misato. She ignores him. (By this we mean she gives him a Death Glare.)
- In Kiss X Sis, Keita and his naughty sister Riko do this to each other under the Kotatsu. Ako, sadly, misses out on the fun.
- Janey Slater did this to John Osterman, the day after they made love and before he became Dr. Manhattan, in Watchmen.
- National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 parodied this. The by-the-book cop invites his Cowboy Cop partner to have dinner with his family. The wife starts playing footsie with the guest... and then the daughter gets in on it... and then the dog.
- Late Bloomers features the Les Yay version.
- Done during a restaurant scene in the 1978 movie Once In Paris.
- The War of the Roses (no, not THAT one) has this between Danny De Vito's character and a female guest during a dinner at the Roses' house.
- In Bad Company, Chris Rock plays a man impersonating his recently-deceased FBI-affiliated twin brother. As part of an assignment, he meets up with his brother's girlfriend (played by Garcelle Beauvais), who believes he's his brother, and they have dinner together at a hotel, where she attempts to seduce him this way.
- Used in Ridicule to distract the protagonist and prevent him from thinking up a good joke.
- In Weekend at Bernies, Bernie's lover does this to him while her boyfriend...a crime boss...sits beside them.
- Parodied in the Italian movie Fracchia contro Dracula where the female vampire attempts to seduce the titular character using this.... despite being at the opposite side of an extremely long dinner table. And shesucceeded!
- Kip and LaFawnduh in Napoleon Dynamite.
- Episode 1x02 of How I Met Your Mother features the wrong-person footsie variation:
Barney: Oh, and Lily? That's my leg.
Lily: You waited five minutes to tell me that?
Barney: (smug look)
- "Chuck Versus the First Date" features this twice during an interview montage. Once from Anna, and once from Jeff.
- Rules of Engagement: Russel and Timmy try this with their dates, and accidentally end up doing this with each other.
- Male-to-female version in the Melrose Place episode "Bitter Dinner." The female pulls away, however, as the male in question is her mother's boyfriend (and her own boyfriend is there at the table with them).
- The title character of The Jamie Foxx Show experiences this in one episode. The woman "administering" to him may be recognized as Vivian Banks.
- Star Trek: Enterprise: In the Season 2 episode "Stigma," Feezal Phlox flirts with Trip by playing footsie under the table in the mess hall.
- Suggested by Kira to the mobster in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Badda Bing Badda Bang."
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Band Candy," Xander and Willow partake in footsie under the desk at school. The awkward part is that they're both seeing other people.
- Todd does this in an episode of Outsourced (TV series), intending to stroke Tonya, but gets Asha instead. She's offended.
- Mariano from Mis Adorables Vecinos gets this done to him by a Dirty Old Woman, which catches both him and Ernesto offguard. "She put her foot... on your royal jewels?" indeed.
- In Battlestar Galactica Reimagined, Ellen Tigh does this to Lee Adama right in front of her husband and his father. He's hilariously terrified.
- In Pretty Little Liars, Emily's mother sees Emily playing footsie with Maya under the table.
- Within the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey, the Heralds are shown to have a non-verbal code language devised to allow discreet conversations while apparently playing footsie with each other.
- In Faust II, the devil tells a brunette that she may do this trope now again (after he - supposedly - healed her foot). Line 6342.
- In the Tim Dorsey novel Triggerfish Twist, Serge's date skips footsie and very conspicuously plants her foot in his lap, in the middle of a ritzy restaurant, while on a double date. When rebuffed, the date huffs up and retreats to the bathroom to do coke.
- Debbie Gibson, in her "Shock Your Mama" video, is clearly seducing her boyfriend while playing footsie with him under the table.
- The Far Side has a cartoon with a squid oblivious to the fact that his wife and another squid are "playing tentaclies."
- This is one of your options while on a restaurant date in The Sims 2.
- Done on Hey Arnold, of all shows, in an episode where Arnold visits his Country Mouse cousin and Lila flirts with him the whole time. Turns out it's All Just a Dream.
- Played with in, of all places, a Disney film: In The Rescuers Down Under, Bernard loses his engagement ring under a table, where it ends up on a woman's toe. As he retrieves it, the woman turns to her date and slaps him for being fresh.
- One episode of Bob's Burgers has Gayle falling in love with Bob after he kisses her while drugged up from the dentist, thinking she's his wife Linda. Part of Gayle's unwanted flirtations include her running her toe up and down Bob's leg and towards his crotch.