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Hand Rubbing is the act of rubbing the palms of your hands together. The friction of the gesture can be used to provide heat in a cold environment, or it can simply convey excitation or expectation. The Other Wiki has a whole article on the subject, but here, we will focus on rubbing hands as a trope.
There is an eerie specificity in fiction to reserve this gesture for Smug Snake type villains. Used car salesmen, lower-end corrupt corporate executives and the Dastardly Whiplash will gleefully rub their hands when things are going their way, but a true Magnificent Bastard always opts to clasp his hands instead. Even when otherwise positive characters do this, there's nearly always a sinister undercurrent.
- Asterix villain and Smug Snake (nearly a Magnificent Bastard) Tullius Destructivus (In English, Tortuous Convolvulus) had a habit of this.
- Horatio Hornblower: Bush rubbing his hands together when pleased...
- Phil Foglio's What's New with Phil and Dixie comic. In Dragon magazine #53 (September 1981), Phil shows us how it's done in panel #4.
Phil: Do with it? Why -- I know exactly what we can do with it! Heh! Heh! Heh!
- Dr. Fred, the Mad Scientist from Day of the Tentacle, has a sprite whose static animation consists of this.
- Although in Fred's case, there's nothing particularly sinister about it-he's just jittery from the permanent caffeine high he submits himself to so as to avoid sleepwalking (by avoiding sleeping).
- As depicted in the trope image, this is Frank Sahwit's default sprite in Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney.
- Also Colias Palaeno from the last case of Ace Attorney Investigations, although he isn't an evil character.
- Girl Genius - "...and suddenly the captain is rubbing his hands together and affirming that "We're not pirates. He didn't count."
- Mr. Burns does this on occasion in The Simpsons. Word of God is that this is supposed to be like a praying mantis.
- 1973/74 Superfriends
- Episode "The Androids". Dr. Rebos does this after he captures Superman using artificial kryptonite.
- Episode "The Balloon People". Dr. Noah Tall does it when he thinks he's about to capture the title characters.