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Nowadays, in the western world, particularly in the United States, displays of affection between men are discouraged, on the theory that they are too "girly", or indicative of homosexuality. A congratulatory clap on the shoulder or back? Fine. Hugging and kissing? Not so much.
Therefore, when two men hug in western media, it usually indicates that they are close friends, brothers (in blood or in spirit) or trusted comrades-in-arms. This is the Man Hug. Usually accompanied by a mutual clap on the back or shoulder, the Man Hug is a show of deep trust and close friendship between two men that cannot be broken easily. It may be a show of comfort, a wordless offer of good luck, or even a gesture of greeting. It is often combined with a handshake, so that two men approach, shake hands, throw the free arm around their partner, briefly bump chests, and separate without any further fanfare. However, this can be part of a more elaborate ritual (see the Metal Gear Solid example, below). Basically this hug says, "Yeah I'm hugging you, but I'm also hitting you." as a way to save face.
On a side note, when you have someone who doesn't follow this trope (usually the Sensitive Guy), he'll usually rush into a low hug, head about belly-button level, and cling like a limpet with the other guy standing stock still and sometimes slowly lowering a hand in a pat-pause-pat rhythm.
Related to Air Hugging. May be a sign that two characters are Heterosexual Life Partners. Men who aren't afraid to hug also don't tend to be afraid to shed Manly Tears. Subtrope of Handshake Substitute.
- ALEXANDER LOUIS ARMSTRONG, of Fullmetal Alchemist, being the Emotional Bruiser that he is, doesn't settle with "Pat on the Back hug." No, he goes for a full-on bear hug.
- Tiger and Bunny's Wild Tiger is not afraid to give his bros hugs.
- Soul Eater's bro hug between Black Star and Soul. Yet completely heterosexual, their choice of words before the hug made it look less so.
- For all it's maachismo, Slam Dunk has quite a lot of hugging, particularly after an impressive game.
- While Sin City is usually Rated "M" for Manly, we have at least one notable example of this trope. When Wallace, the One-Man Army, meets up with a former military buddy to kick a little bad guy arse, he is greeted by a bear hug from the Emotional Bruiser. He mentions that his ribs almost break.
- In Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure, Bill and Ted hug each other in relief after a close brush with death in the Middle Ages -- and then pull away, both blurting, "Fag!"
- At the end of Kangaroo Jack, Charlie and Louis hug, resulting in the following quote (first line paraphrased):
Jessie: C'mon guys, the chopper's leaving!
- In the movie Houseguest, Sinbad poses as a family friend of an affluent family. When he meets Phil Hartman's character at the airport, he quickly finds himself the awkward recipient of the Waist Hug Limpet Cling.
- An incredibly awkward example between Kirk and David in The Wrath of Khan.
- Subverted in Brokeback Mountain (of course). After seeing each other for the first time in four years, Jack and Ennis share a platonic, rugged "man hug". But when they pull away, their faces linger just a leeeeeeetle too close to each other. Ennis looks around to make sure they are not being watched... then pushes Jack up against a wall and they proceed to make out like the world is ending.
- In From Dusk till Dawn, Seth Gecko gives his brother Richard one of these after reading him the riot act for raping and killing their hostage, but while assuring him that everything will be fine once they get to Mexico.
- Alex Cross and his childhood friend Samson frequently exchange these as greetings in the novels by James Patterson.
- Sirius and Lupin in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban.
- Also Harry and Ron (and later Dean and Seamus) in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.
- Lampshaded in the Chronicles of Narnia, when the narrator explains that since Peter is King, it isn't girly of him to be hugging his men. Or talking animals.
- He doesn't just hug them, he kisses them as well. (Though probably not on the lips.) Specifically, in the scene in Prince Caspian when Peter and Edmund arrive, Peter kisses the badger on the head in (gratitude? reward? greeting?) some kind of affection, because the badgers never wavered in their belief that Old Narnia would return to power.
- In Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame on one return of Karl's, Walter takes a minute to hug him, which has no cultural hang-ups in the medievaloid culture they are now in.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40000 Ultramarines book The Killing Ground, Uriel and Pasanius embrace when they are reunited after the first two test by the Grey Knights -- just before Leodagarius comments on Pasanius's loyalty and Uriel describes it as friendship.
- In John C. Wright's The Golden Transcedence, when Helion and Phaethon reconcile, Helion offers him a legal document for the transactions he made by way of apology. Phaethon knocks it aside to embrace him. Rather later, after some Tears of Joy, the document gets handed over, rather bedraggled.
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, Mephisto jumps to embraces Astreus after he regains his wings, somewhat surprising Astreus.
- Pretty much standard in Full House. With all the hugging that goes on in that show, some of those guys have to be walking around with black and blue busted, bruised backs.
- Heroes: Nathan and Peter Petrelli always, always do this when they meet (except in more angsty moments).
- In the Season 2 Finale of Chuck, Chuck goes in for a man-hug with Casey, telling him that "See? Guys can hug too." Casey is less enthused.
- And in the Series Finale they share another one, this time initiated by Casey.
- Hercules did this a lot, as did Iolaus.
- Chandler and Joey from Friends tend to make a big show of awkwardness around these, but it comes up often enough to be lampshaded in a Clip Show episode.
- In the finale, when they're having a moment, Chandler asks: "So, awkward hug or lame cool guy handshake?" Joey picks the handshake, but after they hug anyway.
- Barney, Marshall and Ted have quite a few of these on How I Met Your Mother.
- Supernatural often does this with brothers Sam and Dean in Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
- Also done by Cupids as their handshake. Cupids are full grown, naked men by the way.
- Clark Kent and Lex Luthor share several of these throughout the earlier seasons of Smallville. Most, if not all, make for wonderful Crowning Moment of Heartwarming scenes.
- The Today Show had Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie from The Hurt Locker as guests when the 2010 Academy Award nominees were announced. When Renner's nomination for Best Actor was given, there was a cut to Renner and Mackie hugging each other.
- Chase does this to House after he finds out his boss has cancer, resulting in a very embarrassed House and a Crowning Moment of Funny.
- In the first episode of the six season of Hogan's Heroes, LeBeau is all set to leave Stalag 13 for good and says his goodbyes. He shakes Hogan's hand, kisses Carter and Baker on both cheeks (very much a case of Real Men Wear Pink), and then draws Newkirk into a hug. He still kisses him too afterwards.
- Tony gives Gibbs a very quick "Yay, you're not dead!" Man Hug in the first episode of the fourth season of NCIS. Gibbs just stand there, though. Too manly at the moment even to slap a back.
- In a second-season episode of Home Improvement, Tim talks about the Man Hug in a Tool Time segment, and tells his guests that he's secure enough as a man to dare hug other men as a token of appreciation. The hug issue is very quickly dropped when Al remarks: "You know, Tim, in Europe, men kiss each other on both cheeks."
- Merlin goes in for a hug with his Heterosexual Life Partner Arthur but is quickly stopped by him.
- But played straight with Merlin and Gwaine in 3x08.
- It continues in 4x02 after Merlin comes back alive and well after the Dorocha attack, everyone proceeded to Man Hug Merlin. But again, subverted with Arthur who just smiles, pats him on the back and pulls him to the fire where everyone else is.
- Thirty Rock - Jack is dismayed to find his new boss is a big proponent of the man-hug - and they need to last ten seconds.
- Averted on The West Wing:
JOSH: I apologize.
- In Lost when Jack returns alive after being captured by the Others, he and Sawyer do the handshake followed by a pat on the back version.
- Actually Lost loves this trope, when ever a male character returns from the jungle he is greeted with either a man hug from someone in the crew (Hurley is pretty dependable for this, but it could any guy) or a Reunion Kiss from their sweety.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- In the episode "Tabula Rasa" all the main characters lose their memories; Giles and Spike conclude that they're father and son. They still have their antipathy for each other, but as they part ways, Giles initiates the most tentative, awkward man hug ever recorded.
- Lampshaded in season 4's "The Freshman" when Xander returns from him travels and hugs Willow and Kathy but hesitates at Oz.
Xander: Do we hug?
- Boy Meets World had a quite a few of these between Heterosexual Life Partners Cory & Shawn and Jack & Eric and between brothers Cory & Eric and Shawn & Jack. In one episode Cory and Shawn engage in a longer, more amorous hug than usual after they reconcile their friendship which prompts Topanga to say, "Stop it! You're boys!".
- Deconstructed on the Will&Grace episode "A Chorus Lie." When Jack tries to "in" Matt Damon, they hug and Jack points out the straight-guy no hip contact hug, which Matt (Owen) counters with a description of feeling Jack's pecs.
- In the Pit of Saron dungeon in World of Warcraft the rescued prisoners can remark, "You deserve a mighty man hug."
- Tag-team partners do this all the damn time after particularly hard-fought matches. May be accompanied by tears if said partners have just won a tag team championship.
- The Curtain Call Incident for The Kliq. Then again, that's hardly the only incidence - those guys are always hugging.
- Roger and Mark at the end of "What You Own". (Lots of subtext throughout the show/movie.)
- In Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty, Snake gives one of these to Otacon at the end of a seven-step Cool Handshake, shortly after Otacon's sister Emma dies and before the latter goes to rescue a number of hostages from the Big Shell.
- In Persona 4 the MC can give one (of the arms-around-the-waist variety) to Yosuke if he chooses the right choice in an earlier scene. Amidst his crying, Yosuke questions the manliness of the hug, saying, "You dumbass... that's for girls..."
- Of course, there is only one hug animation for the MC.
- In the Jak II, Daxter gets drunk and gives his Heterosexual Life Partner Jak a hug while slurring "I love you, man!" Jak looks less touched by the display of affection and more disturbed by it.
- Grand Theft Auto San Andreas: "What, no homie love? No hug?"
- In Assassin's Creed II, Ezio can give his BFF Leonardo a Man Hug during a scene where he's prompted.
- And they do it without a prompt whenever they meet in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
- In Mass Effect 2, Jacob will give one to Shepard after the later completes his loyalty mission.
- ...Even if Shepard is a woman. Guess in this galaxy soldierly man-hugs are unisex.
- In Bleak Expectations a reformed Mr. Gently Benevolent notes his former nemesis looks troubled and offers "Man hug?". The protagonist declines. Repeatedly.
- Harry Biscuit takes him up on it. "Mmmm, nice."
- Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff features the "bro hug bump", which is presented with as much dramatic buildup and as many superlatives as possible.
- Do the bro hug! Hug like bros!
- Narrowly averted in El Goonish Shive in these two strips.
- In Rusty and Co, in gratitude -- followed by a threat if he ever tells.
- Lampshaded and parodied in this "How To Give the Perfect Man Hug" video by Video Jug: "Give a great man to man hug to your closest friends and family without getting that awkward feeling!"
- Smosh has helpfully provided a Guys' Guide To Hugging Guys.
- A hilarious subversion of this is in an episode of Justice League ("Savage Time: Part III") after Superman and a handful of the other Leaguers return to the present. Batman had not been with them (well, there was an alternate version of him where they went) so he is given the Man Hug by Superman. To which he replies in a confused voice: "...am I missing something here?"
- The end of a very hilarious Lampshaded Home Movies scene tries this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v12F0bZkJ4E
- Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law has the man-kiss, which is similar.
- An entire day in Smurf society is devoted to hugging among the male Smurfs in The Smurfs episode "A Hug For Grouchy". Of course, Grouchy hates hugs and doesn't like being hug-mugged by anyone.
- The two men on the Seal of Kentucky appear to be doing this, symbolizing the state motto, "United we stand, divided we fall".
- (The general rule seems to be the more physical pain you inflict, the more affection is communicated. Expect the occasional clenched-fist-pat, or pound.)