- In Happy Endings Penny fakes being engaged in front of her safety Shershow, who's about to get married to a beautiful woman.
Shershow: So Penny that's great, you got engaged. To who?
Penny Uh...my fiancé.
- MythBusters: When Adam is taken to Jamie's secret locationnote , this exchange ensues:
Adam: Where are we?
Jamie: We're right here.
Dr. Kelso: Would someone explain what that bird is doing in my hospital?
Janitor: Sanchez appears to be flying, sir. I've named him Sanchez.
- The Vorlons of Babylon 5 love this trope.
Kosh: They are alone. They are a dying people. We should let them pass.
Sinclair: Who? The Narns or the Centauri?
- Everything that Kosh says is not exactly helpful:
Sheridan: How do I know you're the same Vorlon? Inside that encounter suit, you could be anyone.
Kosh: I have always been here.
Sheridan: Oh yeah? You said that about me, too.
Sheridan: I really hate it when you do that.
- In one case, Sheridan had asked what was in the random access hatch Kosh had led him to. Kosh's answer was "One moment of perfect beauty." Sheridan lampshades this: "Well, as answers go, short, to the point, utterly useless and totally consistent with what I've come to expect from a Vorlon." It turns out, this is a completely factual statement, though it makes no sense until you can see the context. This gets lampshaded again in the same episode when Ivanova asks Sheridan what Kosh showed him. Sheridan responds "Beauty...in the dark." Ivanova remarks that Kosh's lessons must be working, because Sheridan is starting to talk like a Vorlon.
- According to the RPG, the Vorlon don't usually do it on purpose: their language is fully telepathic, and most of the usually deep meaning is lost in translation due them not being used at voicing it. Then again, sometimes we get Vorlon like Kosh, who is capable of expressing himself (relatively) well with a voice but still leaves out details, either to have people think and realize what he mean by themselves, because what he was asked is meant to stay secret, or just for the hell of it.
- The Drakh do the same in season 4: "Drakh? Is that your name or your species?" "Yes."
- J. Michael Straczynski himself has used it on occasion. (warning: link contains spoilers) "Was Kosh's line about Sheridan going to Z'ha'dum a warning or a threat?" "Yes."
- The French-Canadian sitcom Un Gars Une Fille (A Guy and a Girl), has the titular Guy ask his girlfriend which of two wines she wants for supper. She answers "Yes." This prompts him to reply "When someone gives you a choice between two things, you can't answer with yes! If you're afraid of committing to a decision, do you want me to pick for you, or do you want me to leave choices up to you?" Her answer? "Yes! Yes Yes Yes!"
- Star Trek has come up with the Heisenberg compensator, allowing the transporter to get around the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. When asked how it works, Mike Okuda's response was '[It] works just fine, thank you.'
Khan: English. I thought I dreamed hearing it. Where am I?
- On Deep Space Nine, Odo is asked by Lwaxana Troi if Odo is his first or last name. Yes, it is.
- In a later episode, we get to know that Odo is his first name. His second is Ital. (The Cardassian word Odo'ital means "Unknown Sample," which is exactly what he was to the scientists who discovered him.)
- Well, he was named on Bajor, where the Eastern name order is accepted, so it's still Mathematician's.
- On an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wesley talks to The Custodian (a computer), after having been told he's allowed to ask of it any question:
Wesley: Custodian, can you show me where Harry is?
The Custodian: Yes.
Wesley: Custodian, show me Harry.
Dylan Hunt: Are you dead or alive?
Trance Gemini: Yes.
- Given that Trance is the avatar of a star, this makes some sense.
- In British comedy The IT Crowd, Roy runs into this trying to run tech support.
Roy: Is it a PC, or a Mac?
- In The A-Team, an exchange between Hannibal and Murdock goes something like this:
Hannibal: How does that sound?
Murdock: Well, Colonel, it doesn't make much of a sound at all!
- Better Off Ted had a great one:
Lawyer: Could you describe your job?
Lawyer: How would you describe your job?
- That Seventies Show provides this example when 2 state troopers arrive at the Foreman house during a party:
State Trooper: Ma'am, are you the owner of this house?
Midge: No, I'm not.
State Trooper: Do you know the owners?
Midge: Yes, I do!
State Trooper: Could you get them, please!?
- Showing that the trooper is a bit slow, or he would've realized that Midge can answer, "Yes, I could."
- Night Court: Bull helps deliver a baby. Asks the exhausted mother, "What is it?", wanting to know the gender. Bull: "It's a baby!"
- Doctor Who:
- From "The Big Bang."
Doctor: Are you married, River?
River Song: Are you asking?
River Song: Yes.
Doctor: No, hang on. Did you think I was asking you to marry me, or asking if you were married?
River Song: Yes.
Doctor: No, but was that yes, or yes?
River Song: Yes.
- An earlier exchange between the Doctor and Rory:
Doctor: So, 2,000 years. How did you do?
Rory: Kept out of trouble.
Doctor: Oh. How?
- From "The Two Doctors"
Doctor: I closed my respiratory passages as soon as I detected any danger.
Peri: Well, then how did you breathe?
Doctor: With difficulty.
- Similarly, from "The Doctor's Wife"
Amy: How do you leave the universe?
Doctor: With enormous difficulty!
- In "A Good Man Goes To War", we meet Madame Vashtra, a female Silurian in the late 1800s:
Jenny: How did you find him?
- Another great one, from Flesh and Stone:
Bishop: Dr. Song, I've lost good men today. Do you trust this man?
River: I absolutely trust him.
Bishop: He's not some sort of madman, then?
River: I absolutely trust him.
- During the events of The Name of the Doctor:
Vastra: We are awaiting only one more participant.
Strax: Oh no. Not the one with the gigantic head.
Jenny: It's hair, Strax.
Strax: Hmph. Hair.
River (popping in) Madame Vastra.
Vastra: Professor. Help yourself to some tea.
River: (she has a champagne bucket) Why, thank you.
Jenny: How did you do that?!
River (smiling) Disgracefully.
- In "The Wheel in Space":
This Doctor friend of yours. Is he a scientist? Jamie:
He is in a way I suppose, yes. Zoe:
What's his specialty? Jamie:
His what? Zoe:
Well, is he a physicist, biochemist, astronomer, biometrician? Jamie: Yes, he is.
- Given a serious purpose in an episode of The West Wing, when White House counsel Oliver Babish is preparing C.J. to testify before Congress:
Babish: Do you know what time it is?
C.J.: It's five past noon.
Babish: I'd like you to get out of the habit of doing that.
C.J.: Doing what?
Babish: Answering more than was asked... Do you know what time it is?
(C.J. stares at him silently for several moments)
- Though also played for laughs when Will is attempting to obfuscate an angry Assistant Secretary of State:
Assistant Secretary of State: Are you rewriting the foreign policy section?
Assistant Secretary of State: Dramatically?
Will: I like to think I have a certain flair...
- Done twice in the pilot, both times played for laughs. First, when Leo is looking for Josh and goes to Donna, who's sitting at her desk:
Is [Josh] there? Donna:
Could you get him? Donna: (yelling towards Josh's office)
Josh! Leo: Thanks
- And then a bit later, between Leo and Mrs. Landingham, when they're talking about the President's bike accident:
Mrs. Landingham: Have they done an X-ray?
Mrs. Landingham: Is anything broken?
Leo: A $4000 Lynex Titanium touring bike that I swore I'd never lend anyone.
- On Just Shoot Me!, when Elliot asks Dennis if he's licking stamps, Dennis answers sarcastically "I was, now I'm answering obvious questions." When a pretty model asks the same question, Dennis cordially responds "Why, yes I am."
- A guest of The Golden Girls tells the girls his wife has just had triplets. "What are they?" asks Dorothy. Rose answers, "That's when three babies are born at the same time."
- LOST provided a perfect example during the flight to return to the island:
Jack: How can you read? [at a time like this]
Ben: My mother taught me.
- He's lying as usual. His mother died shortly after giving birth to him.
- Another one from when Richard Alpert gives the Time Jumping Locke a compass.
Locke: What's it do?
Alpert: It points North, John.
- The Muppet Show
Scooter: Christopher Reeve, fifteen seconds to curtain, Christopher!
Christopher Reeve: Oh thanks a lot, Scooter. Hey listen, can you tell me what these rats are doing in my dressing room?
Scooter: I think it's the Foxtrot.
- Kermit's contribution to a string of "fly in the soup" jokes.
"So I ask the waiter, 'What's this fly doing in my alphabet soup?', and the waiter answers, 'Standing in for an apostrophe'."
- On The Newlywed Game
- Bob Eubanks asked "If you don't win the game today, what would be the reason?" The husband answered "Because we didn't answer the questions right." (The answer on his wife's card read "(Because she) Laughs too much")
- From The Young Ones:
Rick: Alright, what's the stair carpet doing on the fire?
Vyvyan: Burning! What's it look like?!
Neil: (answering the phone) Someone's asking if we know the name of a short fat comedian.
Neil: (into the phone) Yes we do! (hangs up)
Vyvyan: 11:05 and it's still raining. I wonder how hard it is.
Rick: Not very hard, seeing as it's only made of water.
- Mike walks in holding a fish. He asks "What is this!?" Everyone else replies, "A FISH!" He realizes they are right and leaves. Later in the episode he comes back with the fish, having figured out what he meant to ask. He asks, "What is this fish doing in my bed!?" Someone points out to him it is not in his bed, he is holding it in his hands. He realizes they are right and leaves. Still later, he comes back, sure he has figured it out for good, with NOTHING in his hands. He says, "What is this fish doing in my bed!?" Everyone says, "WHAT FISH?"
- Still another:
Girl: Oh, is that the time?
Mike: No, that's a wristwatch. Time is abstract concept.
- And from the opening scene of the later Mayall/Edmondson/Planer/Elton series, Filthy Rich & Catflap:
Richie: What are you doing in my bed?
Eddie: Well I was sleeping. But now I'm talking to a git.
- In a parody of government officials avoiding giving direct answers, The Daily Show's Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell had this exchange:
Stephen: There are things I don't tell you.
Steve: Oh, you tell me everything.
Stephen: No, I don't.
Steve: Like what?
Stephen: I can't tell you.
Steve: Well, does it involve you or me?
Steve: Who? Me, or you?
Stephen: Steve, we've exhausted this topic.
- Another example: In 2003, when Prince Charles was alleged to have had a gay experience, Britain's strict libel and slander laws prevented anyone from commenting publicly on the charge. Colbert, doing a report on the scandal, was asked by Jon Stewart if he had learned any specifics. Colbert said, "Yes I have, Jon."
- In Smallville, when Clark wants to talk to Lois about their relationship:
Clark: Lois, what are we doing?
Lois: I'm eating a maple donut and and you're kind of invading my personal space.
- In Party Down:
Ron: What am I not hearing?
Roman: I don't know... a squid? There are other options...
- Roman is supposed to be DJ and is not at his post.
- In Get Smart, one of Maxwell Smart's many catchphrases is a mathematician's answer. When asked how he did something, or how he planned to do something, he would respond: "With great difficulty."
- Cliff Claven attempted to use such an answer on Jeopardy when asked to identify three actors by their original, non-stage names. His reply was "Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?" Correct, but ...
- One conversation:
Frasier: O death in life, the days that are no more — who said that?
Woody: Who said what?
Frasier: "O death in life, the days that are no more."
Woody: You did.
Frasier: No, I mean, who said it first?
Woody: You said it both times.
- Another example had Cliff give a long and detailed explanation about why they drank ice cold beer in the middle of winter (which essentially centred around the need to equalise your internal and external temperatures). When he had finished, carla then asked him why they also drank it summer. His response was "What else are we going to do with it?".
- In episode six of the first season of Boardwalk Empire, Margaret tells a friend in the Temperance League that a man has made her an offer. The friend asks, "Financial? Domestic? Sexual?", and Margaret replies, "Yes."
- In Charlie Shakes It Up, Deuce says he "has the situation under control", which prompts this:
Teddy: So when he says he has it under control, should we be relieved or worried?
Cece & Rocky: Yes.
- Game of Thrones:
Tyrion: What sort of accent is that?
Catelyn: Why did you push my son from the window?
Jaime: I hoped the fall would kill him.
- Barney Miller: Wojo is questioning a prostitute he has just arrested:
Wojo: Any prior convictions?
Prostitute: I used to think that cleanliness was next to godliness.
- In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, this is sometimes how Cameron responds to questions.
- Police Squad!
- A Running Gag where Frank holds a cigarette out to a witness or suspect and asks "cigarette?" The implication is that he's asking if they want one, but they always answer "Yes, I know," or "Yes, it is."
- Another example, which appeared both on the show and in one of the movies. When the squad raids a criminal hideout, a pretty gun moll asks "Is this some kind of bust?". While looking at her chest, Drebin replies "Yes, it is very impressive".
- Mock the Week has a Jeopardy parody called If This is the Answer, What is the Question?, which naturally wound up like the Jeopardy example above on occasion.
- From House:
Masters: House, how many prostitutes have you had?
House: As in eaten? Ever? This year?
Masters: Slept with. Since you've been here.
House: All but one. She did my taxes.
- In The X-Files episode "One Breath", Melissa Scully comes to visit Mulder at his apartment, where he is sitting in the dark hoping to surprise an intruder.
Melissa: Why is it so dark in here?
Mulder: Because the lights aren't on.
- The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg: In a Courtroom Episode, Angus was facing trial and, when it seemed he'd be convicted, the truth was revealed. In the end, Angus asked the judge if he'd be acquitted or convicted without the new evidence and the judge said he'd certainly be one of those.
- Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad: In one episode, the heroes were playing with a game that told people's luck with basis on their dates of birth. Mrs. Starkey decided to try and asked Amp when he was born. Despite knowing about the game, he told the hour. When she explained she wanted to know the day, he said he was born in Wednesday.
- On an episode of Two and a Half Men Jake had a test where he wrote that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in...pen.
- In Rik Mayall's Believe Nothing (made when David Blunkett was Britain's Home Secretary):
Receptionist: The Home Secretary is in the waiting room. He wants to know if he can see you.
Adonis Cnut: Of course he can't see me. He's blind.
- While the above fictional Jeopardy examples are based on the contestant's responses, the clues themselves can seem like this if you go along with the concept that they're the answers to the questions that the correct responses ask. Who, when asked "what are chairs?" would answer "George Hepplewhite was known for designing the backs of these in such shapes as hearts & shields"?!
- Famously on the Only Fools and Horses episode If They Could See Us Now, in which Del boy is on a quiz show hosted by Jonathan Ross:
Jonathan Ross: In what state was President Kennedy in when he was shot?
Del Boy: Well he was in a terrible state, he died!
- The Big Bang Theory had an instance when Raj (who usually has trouble talking to women) was getting a little too attached to Siri, to the point that his friends described it as "dating a phone". When Bernadette asked if it was cute or creepy, Howard simply said "uh-huh".
- In the episode "The Engagement Reaction"
Leonard: So, how is she?
Howard: They’re running tests. I don’t know. It may have been a heart attack or heart-attack-like event.
Penny: What’s the difference?
Sheldon: A heart-attack-like event is an event that’s like a heart attack.
Penny: Thanks for clearing that up.
- Also this exchange from "The Apology Insufficiency" after someone knocks on the door:
Leonard: Want to get that?
Sheldon: Not particularly.
Leonard: Could you get that?
Sheldon: I suppose I could if I were asked.
Leonard: Would you please get that?
Sheldon: Of course. (beat) Why do you have to make things so complicated?
- From the Supernatural episode "Hunteri Heroici":
Dean: Hey Cas, what's the word?
Castiel: It's a shortened version of my name.
- The Following has this exchange in "Whips and Regrets":
Parker: So, are you an alcoholic, or just a problem drinker?
- Monty Python's Flying Circus had several, one such example with a mathematician's riposte thrown in:
Woman 1: What's on the television then?
Woman 2: (looks over to see the TV turned off and a penguin standing atop it) Looks like a penguin. Funny that penguin being there, innit? What's it doing there?
Woman 1: Standing.
Brian: (holding a bazooka) Not so fast!
Arthur: Ooh, what's that?
- From Community:
- In "Basic Human Anatomy"
Annie: So, I'm number two again, which is what it is. But you know, if I'm not going to be valedictorian, I'm glad it will be you.
Shirley: Me too.
Annie: You mean, you hope it's me if it's not you, or that you're glad it's you?
- In Square One TV segment Mathnet, a musician plays Air Guitar complete with sound effects. This prompts the following exchange with George Frankly:
George Frankly: How did you do that?
Musician: Bloody Perfectly.
- David Tennant once hosted a Doctor Who-themed episode of comedy quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks, which featured the following question:
Tennant: Knock knock.
Panellist: Who's there?
Panellist: Doctor who?
- Friends :
Joey: Hey Phoebes, do you think it would be okay if I asked out your sister?
Phoebe: Why? Why would you want to do that?
Joey: So that if we went out on a date, she'd be there.
- The Suite Life of Zack and Cody: London Tipton gets bonus points for this gem:
Cody: London! What's twelve times twelve?
London: [beat] A math question?
- One bit of edutainment featured a musical sketch with the Ridiculously Human Robot "Mr. Computer Man" who boasts in his song that he can do anything we humans can. When asked how to spell a simple word, he spells it out. When asked "How do you spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?" however, he thinks a moment and then replies "With letters!"
- In The Flash (2014), after the disastrous encounter with the Reverse-Flash, Joe explained to the stunned Eddie about the existence of meta-humans. He appears to convince Eddie that the Flash is one of the good ones, despite Eddie having been attacked by the whammied Flash in an earlier episode. We then get this exchange:
Eddie Thawne: And the Flash. Do you know who he is?
Joe West: Yeah, I do. He's the guy that saved both of our lives tonight.
- For reference, Joe really does know that Barry is the Flash, but it's not his secret to reveal.