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Defensive "What?"
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 and Manga  

  • This is Chiri's reaction in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei when the rest of the class reacts to her treating "juicing her sister" as something completely natural.
  • In Rose of Versailles Girodelle is discussing with Oscar about his proposal to her when he notices how Oscar is venting her nervousness:
    Girodelle: "Are you eating rose petals?"
    Oscar: "What?! Is it forbidden?!"


  • During Marvel's Civil War event, the Punisher of all people winds up in Captain America's anti-registration camp. When two super-villians 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.


  • At the start of Shrek 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.
  • When Gideon kicks Ramona down a flight of stairs in the climax of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Scott and Knives give him an appalled look and he responds with this. Then they beat him to a pulp.
  • In the first Men In Black, K snaps off a defensive "What?" when J gets mad at him for being too trigger-happy with the neuralyser.


  • 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'...

     Live Action TV  

  • Babylon 5: When the station fails to explode or disappear.
    Ivanova: No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a Boom tomorrow.
    [Beat], as Sinclair and Garibaldi wordlessly walk away.
    Ivanova: What? Look, somebody's gotta have some damn perspective around here! Boom. Sooner or later. BOOM!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In one case, used to lampshade that Xander was the one to know some key bit of information.
    Xander: What, I can't have information sometimes?
    Giles: It's just somewhat unprecedented.
    • Cordelia got to use it too.
    Cordelia: I'm looking forward to the SATs. I do well on standardized tests. ...What, I can't have layers?
  • Norm Peterson did this at least once on Cheers.

     Video Games  

  • In the Meet the Spy video for Team Fortress 2, the BLU Soldier delivers one of these after shooting the BLU Spy.
    Soldier: What? It was obvious, he's the RED Spy!
  • Mass Effect's Kaidan, when having his infamous Covert Pervert moment. "It does sound like something that you'd find on an extranet fetish site. [beat] ...what?"
  • The first Saints Row has Troy lighting his signature cigarette using a recently killed-with-fire enemy's corpse to light a cigarette. Made hilarious by the horrified reaction of his teammate.


     Western Animation  

  • In the premiere episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, this is Pinkie Pie's reply to the others' stares after she eats a cupcake smothered in hot sauce.
    • Rarity also does this in the episode Lesson Zero, after the third time she dramatically declares "the worst possible thing".
    "What? I really mean it this time!"
    • In the season 4 episode "Three's A Crowd", when Discord asks for a fainting couch, everyone turns to Rarity.
  • In The Venture Bros., when Phantom Limb tranquilizes Brock for insulting Dr. Girlfriend.
    "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 an 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."

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