->''He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?" And I said, "Littering." And they'' all ''moved away from me on the bench there...''
-->-- "Music/AlicesRestaurant"

A stock line whenever a prison is involved, often with IAlwaysWantedToSayThat thrown in for good measure. Either one of the main characters will ask this to somebody else, or one of the 'locals' will ask the main cast. If the question is posed to the main cast, we often won't hear the reply, since ''we'' already know what went before, and it's probably [[YouDoNOTWantToKnow far too bizarre to explain]], anyway. If asked to someone else, the answer is almost always truthful, no matter ''how'' vile the crime or criminal. (Lying never seems to be an option.)

A DeadHorseTrope more often {{Lampshaded}} and {{Subverted}} than played straight.

Someone's crime will likely have involved [[MattressTagGag pulling the tag off of a mattress or pillow.]] Bonus points if he's treated as the worst or scariest of the lot.

In RealLife (at least in UK prisons) they often already know - they read the daily courtcase roundup in the local paper so already know who's been sentenced for what and how long. In countries where this is not the case (Russia, for example), they still either already know or will soon be able to verify your words, using the rumor telegraph and illegally smuggling notes and letters from facility to facility.



* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L336cJMYkuM This]] classic Serta commercial (which also contains the MattressTagGag).

* Creator/BrianRegan discusses this [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWKO6vSnyAQ in his bit about crimes]].
* Creator/ChrisRock tries to sound as tough as possible to the other inmates when he's in for "driving too slow". In another stand-up, a white-collar criminal says he's in for embezzling funds, and his fellow inmate replies that he's in for stealing 48 pairs of socks.
-->"My feet was feelin' ''good!"''

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In a ''Magazine/{{MAD}}'' parody of ''Film/TheLongestYard'' (first version), this results in a long list of murders, ending with [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking "and strangling a tractor"]].
* Krage asks this question at the end of the ''ComicBook/MarvelAdventures: Franchise/TheAvengers'' comic he appears in to Fancy Dan (who mistakenly spam-called ComicBook/IronMan).
* Underground comics author Dan O'Neill was sued by Disney for using company characters in a couple of comic books. He defiantly persisted, drawing up his legal travails in a comic strip, concluding with his imagining how he'd fare in prison, his cellmate played by Pegleg Pete:
-->'''Pete:''' Hi, mate, I'm in for rape and murder. How 'bout you?\\
'''O'Neill:''' ''[nervously]'' Uhh... I drew a picture of Mickey Mouse...
* In ''ComicBook/SwampThing'', Abby goes to jail for "crimes against nature" when her [[InterspeciesRomance relationship with the title character]] becomes public knowledge. Her cellmate, after relating how she was caught shoplifting, asks her what she's in for. Abby, in no mood for small talk, says, "Hugging vegetables." The cellmate backs away to the other end of the bench.
* In ''ComicBook/TheWalkingDead'' the heroes ask this question of the small group of surviving inmates they encounter at the zombie-infested prison and are told armed robbery, tax fraud, drugs, and murder. It's probably not hard to pick out which one of these is eventually, horribly, revealed to be a bald-faced lie.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* ''ComicStrip/USAcres'':
** As alluded to in the explanatory section, Wade steps on a rake, sending him into a musical number, followed by a short trial sentencing him to [[LongerThanLifeSentence 9999 years in prison]]. Once there, two inmates brag about their crimes. When Wade sheepishly admits his, the other two pull on the bars, terrified of sharing a cell with such a psychopath.
** Similar to this, in a comic strip, two criminals are bragging about their crimes, when their third cellmate says that he's in for beating up Santa, causing the other two to cower in a corner.
* ''ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}}'':
** In an older story, Dilbert is sent to jail after killing one of the company executives with an ear of corn. Mere seconds after he shares this with his cellmate...
--->'''Dilbert:''' Hey, look! Corn for lunch. Can you believe that?
** In another strip, the PointyHairedBoss decides to rent to firm's unused cubicles to the state -- as cells for prisoners. Cue the criminal asking Dilbert what he's in for.
** In yet another, Dogbert converts the house to an upscale prison. Dilbert bitterly explains this to the asking prisoner, who concludes that he's the wrong guy to talk to during happy hour.
* In one ''ComicStrip/BloomCounty'' strip, Opus ends up in jail, and learns that his new cellmate is in for "strangling Oakland." And no, it's not a colorful sports metaphor. [[spoiler:[[DontExplainTheJoke It means he strangled each and every single person in Oakland.]]]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/FerrisBuellersDayOff'':
-->'''[[Creator/CharlieSheen Boy]] [[RetroactiveRecognition in Police Station]]:''' Drugs?\\
'''Jeannie:''' No thank you, I'm straight.\\
'''Boy:''' I mean, are you here for drugs?\\
'''Jeannie:''' Why are you here?\\
'''Boy:''' Drugs.
* Happens in ''Film/TheSantaClause''. The waitress at Denny's asks if Scott and Charlie if they're affiliated with the Japanese company seated in the front room. Charlie blurts out "Dad burnt the turkey." Speaking in a dry tone, the waitress leads them into another section of the restaurant, where they are surrounded by other single dads and their children.
* The live-action ''{{Film/Transformers}}'' movie had this on a helicopter:
-->'''Maggie:''' What'd they get you for?\\
'''Sam:''' Bought a car. Turned out to be an alien robot. Who knew?
* In ''Film/RobinHoodMenInTights'', Asneeze informs Robin that he was in for "Jaywalking". In 12th century Jerusalem. [[RuleOfFunny It's a Mel Brooks movie.]]
* Happens in ''Film/TheLastCastle'' when Irwin asks the doctor why he is in prison. The doctor says he was busted for marijuana possession. Irwin points out that marijuana possession will get you discharged from the military but not normally earn you a stint in a maximum security military prison. The doctor agrees and starts to explain, but they are interrupted and [[TheUnreveal the audience never does get to hear the full story]].
* In ''Film/KillerKlownsFromOuterSpace'', one of the Klowns allows himself to be locked up in the town jail. A nebbish human prisoner then invokes this trope.
* Played with in ''Film/TheShawshankRedemption'': Andy Dufresne maintains his innocence, making everyone else laugh: "everyone's innocent in here" and "[I'm in because] a lawyer fucked me" become {{Running Gag}}s among Andy's friends, while Red wryly refers to himself as "The only guilty man in Shawshank." ([[spoiler: Andy's telling the truth about being innocent, though.]])
* In the remake of ''Film/AttackOfThe50FootWoman'', the main character's cheating husband found himself in a spaceship with two other guys and one of them asked, "What are you in for?"
* Played somewhat straight in ''Film/DownByLaw'': the arguably tough looking Music/TomWaits and John Lurie are sent to prison on separate frame-up jobs. Their cellmate, the tiny, meek and bumbling Roberto Benigni reveals in the What Are You In For scene that he's in for a pool hall murder, which he provoked by cheating at cards.
* ''Film/AmericanHistoryX'' has a scene in which the main character is talking to a black prisoner why they are in prison. The scene is played straight, however.
* In ''Film/{{Undisputed}}'', there's a code among the prisoners to not to ask such questions casually, as it is seen disrespectful.
* In the first ''Film/PoliceAcademy'' Mahoney ([[KarmicTrickster detained for property damage]]) asks Jones what is he in for. Jones convincingly imitates the sound of a machine gun, creating panic in the police station. Mahoney decides to take him to the academy too.
* ''Film/SchindlersList'': When Oskar Schindler is arrested by the German police in occupied Poland for possibly violating the Nazi racial acts by kissing a Jewish girl, his cellmate's first question is "What about you?" Schindler's answer prompts the incarcerated man to counter with a lurid anti-Semitic joke.
* In ''Film/IAmAFugitiveFromAChainGang'', the hero is asked this by a fellow inmate but refuses to answer. Clearly he was still not over the fact that he was convicted to 10 years of hard labor for stealing $5.
* In the second ''Film/{{Fletch}}'' movie the protagonist asks the cellmate -- a huge, scary-looking guy -- and the guy answers "molesting a dead horse". He then tells Fletch to [[PrisonRape bend over]]. Fortunately for Fletch, that's when the cops come in to move the guy. However it's later revealed this is all a plot to frighten Fletch, so we don't know if he really was arrested for that reason.
* In ''Film/TheFirstWivesClub'', when the three main characters' ex-husbands are coerced into congregating at the titular club's headquarters, the last to arrive, Brenda's ex-husband Morty, sees the other two in the waiting room and asks, "What are you guys in for?"

* In ''Literature/BloodsuckingFiends'' by Creator/ChristopherMoore, the protagonist, Tommy, is in jail. He asks his cell mate what he's in for, and the man replies "copyright infringement", which he admits isn't really the sort of offense they put you in jail for. Ripping a lawyer's arms out of their sockets, however, is.
* Winston muses that a question like this is essentially moot in ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour''. There is only one crime the Party cares about, so the answer is always {{Thoughtcrime}}.
* In ''Help I Am Being Held Prisoner'' by Donald Westlake, the protagonist played a silly prank that ended in a traffic accident. Because said accident resulted in the exposure of a politician's unsavory sexual habits, said politician pulls strings so the protagonist will get punished as hard as possible. Because of this his sentence and the description of his crime, while ambiguously vague, make him sound like a hardened, inhuman murderer -- so the toughest gang in prison recruit him to their schemes...
* In the second part of ''Literature/TheStranger'', when Meursault is first put into prison, a few people ask him what he's in for. "Killing an Arab." [[UsefulNotes/{{Algeria}} Guess what kind of people are mostly in that prison]].
* When Harry of ''Literature/{{Incompetence}}'' is arrested for ImpersonatingAnOfficer, he is forced into a massively overcrowded holding cell for people who are awaiting trial. He notes that asking WhatAreYouInFor used to be a taboo question until an [[ObstructiveBureaucrat overabundance of regulations and laws]] that makes criminals of everybody means that hardened criminals need to know if they are mixing with real crooks or people who are arrested for displaying their fruits in pounds instead of kilos. A cellmate does enthusiastically tell Harry in excruciating detail exactly what bureaucratic cock-up led to him being detained, [[TooMuchInformation causing Harry's eyes to glaze over]].
* Literature/{{Burke}} mentions that your cellmate will tell you his story eventually (or [[UnreliableNarrator his version of it]]) but by the time he gets round to it [[YouDoNotWantToKnow you may not want to know]].

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Monk}}'' once went to prison on an undercover mission. His cellmate quickly noticed that he was obviously unused to prison and didn't seem like a criminal type. When he asked this, Monk improvised and said "embezzlement."
* An episode of ''Series/{{Scrubs}}'' has Elliot and Carla arrested for soliciting a male prostitute (they wanted to do a favor for a female patient who didn't want to die a virgin). At the station, Elliot asks people going in what they're in for and brags that they're in for prostitution. Carla tells her to stop enjoying it so much.
* In ''Series/MartialLaw'', the cop duo go undercover in jail. The Asian one's backstory is killing a dozen people in a restaurant shootout, and the black guy, purse theft.
* After Helena from ''Series/TheLWord'' is sent to jail, she's scared of her cell mate, who she's sure is a murderer. Actually, she's in for embezzlement, she just [[PrisonsAreGymnasiums works out a lot]].
* From the US ''Series/QueerAsFolk'' when a letter addressed to Ben arrives while he's at work and Hunter wants to open it:
-->'''Michael:''' Well, you can't open someone else's mail. It's a federal offense.\\
'''Hunter:''' I can see it now: I'm on death row, awaiting lethal injection. This mass murderer who killed 48 babies and ate them asks me what I'm being executed for. I say: "Opening Ben's letter."
* In an episode of ''Series/HeresLucy'', Lucy goes undercover in a women's prison. When she is first asked this question, she replies:
-->'''Lucy:''' Highway robbery.\\
'''Matron:''' Highway robbery?\\
'''Lucy:''' Yeah. I stole Route 66.
* An early episode of ''Series/GrowingPains'' had Mike in jail for graffiti. One of his cellmates asks this question to which he replied, [[Music/JohnnyCash "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die."]]
* ''Series/{{Friends}}'': Chandler says this to a couple of girls while he's going to talk to Phoebe's policeman boyfriend. He thinks it's funny, they don't.
* In ''Series/TheTenthKingdom'', Tony is technically arrested for being found in the Queen's cell (wearing handcuffs) when everybody awoke to find her gone. When asked though, he says that he was arrested for a bank robbery. Which is technically true, he was arrested on Earth for the robbery before fleeing through the magic mirror.
* In the ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' episodes "Affliction" and "Divergence" Lieutenant Reed keeps getting into awkward conversations due to getting caught running a black op for Section 31 and being thrown in the brig for it. Since everyone is busy dealing with the Klingons, both he and Captain Archer have no time to explain why he's in the brig to anyone... except when one of the Klingons who attacked the ''Enterprise'' gets tossed into the cell next to him. When Reed replies to his inquiry on why he's in the brig with "[[ItsalongStory That's a long story]]," the Klingon prisoner in turn replies "Entertain me." Reed then manages to give him a minimal-details summary in one line.
* In a surprisingly dark joke from ''Series/FullHouse'', Danny and Joey end up in a holding cell with a man who was arrested for scalping. He was '''not''' scalping tickets.
* On an episode of ''Series/HomeImprovement'', Tim and Al were arrested for scalping tickets and end up in a cell with a man who "gave someone a tattoo." When they question why that was a problem, he states that the man who he gave the tattoo to did not want it.
* Played straight (''"What did they get you for?" "Oh, It's a long story. You wouldn't believe me even if I told you."'') and then inverted in the ''Series/DoctorWho'' serial "Frontier in Space", when the Third Doctor is sent to a prison full of political prisoners:
-->'''Three:''' Now, that's stealing, you know. \\
'''Warden's henchman:''' That's what I'm in for. Got a troublemaker, have we?\\
'''Three:''' That's what ''I'm'' in for.
* Asked multiple times throughout ''Series/OrangeIsTheNewBlack''. Occasionally, new inmates like Piper will be under the impression that it's taboo to ask this question.
* The prison drama ''Series/{{Oz}}'' averts this frequently relative to their large cast of prisoners, instead introducing new prisoners via Augustus Hill's [[BreakingTheFourthWall narration to the audience]], in which he also lists the length of the person's sentence. Inmates usually become aware of other inmates' crimes by reputation or by implied offscreen conversations.
* ''Series/BlakesSeven''. The moment [[YouAllMeetInACell Blake meets his future companions]] the SnarkToSnarkCombat [[WorldOfSnark commences]].
-->'''Jenna:''' What's your story?
-->'''Blake:''' Well, I'm innocent; [[FrameUp of what I was charged with anyway]].
-->'''Vila:''' We have something in common, then. We're all victims of a miscarriage of justice.
-->'''Blake:''' It's true!
-->'''Jenna:''' [[SarcasmMode Of course it is.]]
-->'''Blake:''' What about the others?
-->'''Vila:''' Oh, a very antisocial bunch. Murderers, liars, cheats, [looks at Jenna] smugglers...
-->'''Jenna:''' [Returns the favor] Thieves...
-->'''Vila:''' --and they're the nice people.
* In "Black Gold and Red Blood" from ''Series/TheMentalist'', one of Patrick Jane's gambits results in him getting thrown in prison with a ScaryBlackMan who goes by "Boo."
-->'''Boo''': What you in for?
-->'''Jane''': Oh, eavesdropping on a state agent. You?
-->'''Boo''': They say I raped and murdered a guy. Stabbed him to death.
-->'''Jane''': Oh.
-->'''Boo''': But that's not true.
-->'''Jane''': Oh, good.
-->'''Boo''': We had consensual sex. ''Then'' I stabbed him to death.
-->'''Jane''': [[OhCrap Okay...]]
-->'''Boo''': You get top bunk.
-->'''Jane''': ...I like the top bunk.

* As quoted above, a variation appears in Arlo Guthrie's song/monologue "Music/AlicesRestaurant":
--> And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean 'n' ugly 'n' nasty 'n' horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me and said, "Kid, whad'ya get?" I said, "I didn't get nothing, I had to pay and pick up the garbage." He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?" And I said, "Littering." And they ''all'' [[EvenEvilHasStandards moved away from me on the bench there]]...
** Then he adds "And 'Creating a Nuisance'," and all the criminals move back and become friends with him.
* Creator/MikeHarding performs a ballad called ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADSk8n3UldE Strangeways Hotel]]'' (Strangeways is [[OopNorth Manchester]]'s main prison). There is a spoken interlude in between verses where Harding asks his fellow cons what they're in for:
-->(deep butch voice) "Robbin' a wagon."\\
(fey voice) "Waggin' me robin."

* ''Madea Goes to Jail''. Well, the title character's cellmate already knows why she's there.
* ''A Gulag Mouse''. Prushka the Mouse reveals she's serving ten years for telling an "anecdot" - anti-government joke.
* In the second ''[[Series/{{Bottom}} Bottom Live]]'' stage show:
-->'''Eddie:''' That's Geoffrey Nasty, the Psychopathic Penis-Remover.\\
'''Richie:''' Oh! What's he in for?\\
'''Eddie:''' ''[exasperated]'' '''Removing penises!'''

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''[[VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2 Mask of the Betrayer]]'', the Wychlaran of Mulsantir allows you to take one of the local prisoners to fight with you against the giant bear spirits waiting outside the gaits. Naturally, you get to ask what they're in for: Groznek killed some men who taunted him; Joeb's in for pickpocketing; and Gannayev is there because, well...
-->'''Gannayev:''' My crime? It is a serious one -- you see, [[SoBeautifulItsACurse I am too handsome to look upon.]]
* In ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' you can be thrown in the Markath prison mine. An Orc in there answers the question with:
-->"Murder, Banditry, Assault, Theft... [[BrickJoke and]] [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking lollygagging]]."
* In ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamOrigins'', when you infiltrate Blackgate Prison [[spoiler:for a second time]], you can overhear this exchange via EnemyChatter:
-->'''Criminal A:''' Oh man, I can't wait. I'm going straight to O'Kane's, havin' a pint.\\
'''Criminal B:''' What's it been for you man, eight years?\\
'''Criminal A:''' Twelve.\\
'''Criminal B:''' And what they put you in for?\\
'''Criminal A:''' Drinkin' and drivin'.\\
'''Criminal C:''' Ha, an' you're gonna go have a pint?\\
'''Criminal A:''' What are you, the damn parole board? I ain't rehabilitated, and I'm really thirsty.\\
'''Criminal C:''' Whatever, just don't drive. You could kill someone.\\
'''Criminal A:''' Yeah yeah, don't worry. What are you in for, anyway?\\
'''Criminal C:''' ''[matter-of-fact]'' [[HypocriticalHumor Manslaughter]].
* ''VideoGame/MaxPayne 2'' features a long (and hilarious) conversation between two guys stuck in the police stations holding cell about how one of them ended up getting arrested because he ended up stealing a car that had a murder weapon in it. He asks the other guy what he's in for and he just says "Who, me? DUI."
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'': Shepard can ask this of an [=NPC=] on the Purgatory PrisonShip. He casually explains that he killed a few people -- only about twenty or so -- and blew up "that one habitat". This is apparently small-time by Purgatory standards.
* In the first ''VideoGame/LEGOIsland'' game, when you visit the Brickster in his lone jail cell next to the police station, this begins one of the quotes he says.
-->'''Brickster:''' What are you in for? Oh, you're ''not'' in -- ''I'm'' in. Heh heh heh. For [[JustForPun bricking and entering]]. I hear they're gonna give me ''the chair''. Maybe even a lovely matching table.

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* In [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXEb-jxqz1w the first episode]] of ''Doris & Mary-Anne Are Breaking Out of Prison'', Doris asks Mary-Anne this, but since Mary-Anne [[TheSilentBob doesn't talk]] she doesn't get an answer.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
%%* In [[http://dominic-deegan.com/view.php?date=2007-08-16 this]] ''Webcomic/DominicDeegan'' strip.
%%* And [[http://www.cad-comic.com/cad/20040312 this]] ''Webcomic/CtrlAltDel'' strip.
* ''Webcomic/{{Freefall}}'':
** Florence (the sentient wolf) in the dog pound, [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff1500/fc01498.htm asking this question]] to the pooch in the next cage.
** Later, Sam talks his way into a night in jail (which requires effort because the Warden refuses to take him because of how many times he's escaped); when another inmate asks him what he's in for, he replies, "Meatloaf night!"
* ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'':
** Phil Foglio's AuthorAvatar is in prison for including the Prince as a character in his story.
** When Agatha enters Castle Heterodyne, she is asked if she can cook, and says yes. Then, when asked what she's in for, she says she poisoned thirty-seven people because they complained about her cooking. (In the print-novel adaptation of the comic, "mass poisoning" is indeed the charge listed on her forged commitment papers.)
* In ''Webcomic/TheLydianOption'', played straight with the prisoners revealing offenses ranging from the major (murder) to the minor (a bar fight), all with the same punishment.
* The title character of ''Webcomic/{{Rosa}}'' sardonically asks her dead skeleton cellmate, Ol' Gil, [[http://www.junglestudio.com/roza/?date=2007-05-14 this question]].
* ''Webcomic/YetAnotherFantasyGamerComic'': Gertrude the Valkyrie (on visiting from ''Cowboys and Crossovers'') asks this to [[http://yafgc.net/comic/2984-gertrudes-saga-02/ another frog in a cage after being herself turned into a frog]]. Yeah, that tend to happen when you piss off a wizard.
* ''Webcomic/PvP'' had a story where Brent took Skull to a veterinarian for a checkup, and ended up in jail for owning an exotic animal without a license (they thought he was a gorilla). When the other, signifigantly more hardcore criminals in lockup asked Brent what he did, he gave a legaleze answer about not filing the proper paperwork, and recieves blank stares.
--> '''Brent''': Uh, and I popped a cap in my old lady for giving me lip about it.
--> '''Thug''': Word!
* ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'' did a strip where a serial killer who cut out his victims eyes is in the same cell as a former Midway employee who made the decision to [[FelonyMisdemeanour not put multiplayer in]] the now-obscure flight racer game ''VideoGame/FreakyFlyers''.
--> '''Killer''': Oh man, I ''played'' that game, it would have been great online! You're crazy! I mean, I'M crazy, but you...
--> '''Programmer''': ''You cut out a man's eyes!!''
--> '''Killer''': Hey, dont even compare my eye shit to what you did, it's not even close!

[[folder:Web Original]]
* On ''WebVideo/WhatTheFuckIsWrongWithYou'', Nash and Tara will occasionally discuss how awkward these conversations will be for people who committed especially stupid, embarrassing, or petty crimes ([[{{Jerkass}} like the guy who stole money from a lemonade stand... after they gave him free lemonade]].)
* Asked of a demon within the Hell prison in ''Literature/VoidDomain''.
* Creator/{{Seanbaby}} used this in a hypothetical scenario of an obnoxious geek arrested for disorderly conduct at Blizzcon:
-->'''Inmate #2014410:''' "What are you here for, fat boy?"
-->'''Cloudwhisper of Darrowmere:''' "I'll have you know that I! Am a political prisoner! Blizzard keeps nerfing hunters and I! Had the guts to stand up and say no more! No one wanted to listen, but I! Wouldn't be silenced!"
-->'''Inmate #2014410:''' "Wow. Well I have to say that takes a load off my mind. A lot of guys can be deceptively dangerous when you start raping them... so... you ready to go then?"
-->'''Cloudwhisper of Darrowmere:''' ''[[PrisonRape *sigh*]]''

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
-->'''Homer:''' What are you in for?\\
'''[[CaptivityHarmonica Harmonica-playing Con:]]''' Atmosphere.
** When Mr Burns is jailed for stealing valuable art, he seemingly lucks out by being put in the same cell as another white-collar criminal... until he finds out said inmate went to Dartmouth College.
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'': In the episode "Spongebob Meets The Strangler";
-->'''Tattletale Strangler:''' ''[in prison]'' [[FromBadToWorse Well, at least I'm safe from that yellow idiot]].\\
'''[[TooDumbToLive Patrick]]:''' ''[in the same cell as him]'' Hey, mac. ''[the Strangler faces him]'' What're you in for?\\
''[episode ends]''
* In ''WesternAnimation/GarfieldAndFriends'', Wade, after [[MattressTagGag ripping the a tag off the bottom of a couch and learning that it's against the law]], [[ImagineSpot imagines himself in a prison cell with two dangerous-looking criminals]]:
-->'''First criminal:''' I've robbed 50 banks and 60 gas stations.\\
'''Second criminal:''' Yeah? well, I robbed 70 banks, see, and 90 gas stations. And I stole [[RunningGag the Klopman Diamond]]. What are you in for?\\
'''Wade:''' Uh, I tore a tag off a pillow.\\
''[[[ComicalOverreacting the criminals run for the bars and scream for help]]]''
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'': Rita asks Runt this when they first meet in the city pound. Runt's answer is "peeing on the floor".
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/MenInBlack: The Series'' features an alien race that's downright obsessive about law and order, complete with an ultra-brutal gulag for housing the many, many lawbreakers they round up. How strict are they? When Jay finds himself in the prison, he asks a fellow inmate what he's in for, and, well, [[MattressTagGag it turns out they take their mattress tags very seriously]].
* In the made-for-tv ''WesternAnimation/FostersHomeForImaginaryFriends'' movie "Good Wilt Hunting", Wilt ends up in prison. His cellmates are explaining what they're in for, before they get to Wilt. Wilt just says "I broke a little boy's heart."
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDooMysteryIncorporated'' has the gang trying to get help from one of the people they've put away. Shaggy and Scooby, in their usual fashion, slink away to the cafeteria. One inmate asks them what they're in for, and Shaggy responds "The food!"
* In an episodes of ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'' Grim is sent to jail for taking off his robe in public when he is angry trying to prove [[ItMakesSenseInContext he can't fart]] because he's a skeleton and it is coming from the [[CassandraTruth evil invisible ghost duck that has been following him all day.]] His cellmate is a very tough-looking guy with tattoos on his arms. Grim nervously asks him what he was in for. His answer scares Grim, especially since the duck is still close by, grinning evilly.
-->'''Cellmate:''' I beat the snot out of a guy... [[DisproportionateRetribution for FARTING!]]
* In the season 2 finale of ''WesternAnimation/RickAndMorty'', [[spoiler:After turning himself into the Galactic Federation so his family can return to Earth in peace, an inmate asks this question to Rick. He replies, in a defeated tone, "Everything."]]
* In thew ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' episode "Chris Has Got a Date, Date, Date, Date, Date" Stewie and Peter send out a tweet that a movie was "Just okay" and promptly get arrested by the "Internet police". When they get to jail, they run into another inmate; Brian asks "What are you in for"? and he replies "I thought that Caytlin Jenner wasn't very courageous or good looking."
--> '''[[AmbiguouslyGay Stewie]]''': ''(terrified)'' Brian, there are some bad people in here!!
** In "Dial Meg for Murder", Meg is sent to a women's prison, and her black cellmate asks her "Did you get caught trying to vote in Ohio?"

[[folder:Real Life]]
* If you do get asked this in jail, it is generally advised to answer truthfully, since if you avoid answering you may be suspected of child molestation. And [[EvenEvilHasStandards then,]] [[NoHoldsBarredBeatdown well...]] Although in most American prisons, it is generally considered more polite to phrase the question as "What are you accused of?" While either is acceptable, one should never ask the question "What did you do?" as it implies guilt.
** This has been made much worse by universal access to computers and the rise of social media. It used to be possible (if unlikely) for someone to successfully hide their criminal history. These days, it takes five minutes for an inmate's girlfriend/sibling/friend to look up court records, and prisoners ''will'' learn what each other did.