Basically, when someone says or does something outlandish or offensive for whatever reason, only to realize that everyone is staring at him, while he evidently didn't think whatever he said was that odd.
Could be because he just said the dumbest thing anyone has ever heard in their lives, because it was horrifically
offensive, or maybe even because he just spouted an unexpectedly inspired bit of brilliance
and doesn't realize it yet.
Related to Big "WHAT?!"
and Flat "What."
. Can be used to lampshade
an Out-of-Character Moment
. Often overlaps with Funny Background Event
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Anime & Manga
- During Marvel's Civil War event, the Punisher of all people winds up in Captain America's anti-registration camp. When two super-villains show up and offer their support, Cap is on the verge of accepting, when the Punisher guns them both down. One panel of shocked looks from all the anti-reg heroes, followed by a panel of Castle looking at them, still-smoking guns in his hands, and asking "What?" Cap proceeds to beat the stuffing out of him.
Films — Animation
- At the start of the first movie, The Big Bad Wolf says this when he is caught sleeping in the title character's bed.
- And again in the second movie when Prince Charming finds him in Fiona's bed.
Films — Live-Action
- In Monstrous Regiment, Jackrum gets defensive after laying out the bouncer in the camp seamstresses' tent.
Jackrum: What? What! He was coming in here with his club!
Polly: (knowingly) And why was he doing that, Sarge?
Jackrum: (approvingly) Oh, you— all right, I'd just given Madame the old "quietus"...
- The News Quiz
- A frequent response by panellists when the audience judges a joke is Too Soon.
- Notoriously sports-averse Sandi Toksvig does this to the audience in the 2011 News Quiz Panto when, for plot-convenient reasons, she just happens to know about England cricketer Graham Onions.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In The Venture Bros., when Phantom Limb tranquilizes Brock for insulting Dr. Girlfriend.
Phantom Limb: What? I'm a supervillain.
- Robot Chicken lists the top ten things co-headwriter Doug Goldstein could have done with the $12,000 he blew on his timeshare. One example is putting a dollar in 12,000 g-strings. When he is seen doing just that with a male dancer, he gives a defensive what before explaining he ran out of chicks.
- On Family Guy, Peter doesn't know where he'll get $50,000 he needs to keep the bank from taking his house. Quagmire offers a suggestion.
Quagmire: Well, you could whore yourself out to 1,000 fat chicks for $50 apiece. Or 50 really fat chicks for $1,000! What? Don't look at me like that. Fat chicks need love, too. But they got to pay.
- Fat Tony of The Simpsons, on being caught battering the mayor unconscious with a baseball bat: "What? What did I do?"
- Futurama: Robot buddy Bender compliments Fry on his metaphorically robotic heart, and then compares it to his own physical human heart, to the dismay of the rest of the crew. He has to ask the question twice.
- In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, evil senator Tal Merrick openly declares he's going to blow up a station, killing countless people, knowing that Satine and Kenobi cannot kill him due to their "pathetic ideals." Cue a lightsaber exiting his chest courtesy of Anakin, who doesn't share their reservations. Obi-Wan shoots him an accusatory look for this, only for Skywalker to point out he just saved everyone on-board.
Anakin: What? He was gonna blow up the ship.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog: "What did I do?" was one of Eustace's catchphrases, usually after receiving a rolling pin to the head by Muriel.
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Legend of the Gobblewonker", Grunkle Stan has this reaction when an ill-timed joke about the Awful Wedded Life falls flat.