- On 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dick Solomon responds to the question "You think you're the smartest person in the world, don't you?" with "For the thousandth time, yes!"
- In Blackadder II, Blackadder shows Baldrick a potato and One Dialogue, Two Conversations ensues:
Blackadder: I mean, look at this. What is it?
Baldrick: I'm surprised you've forgotten, my lord.
Blackadder: I haven't forgotten. It's a rhetorical question.
Baldrick: No, it's a potato.
- This happens in The Big Bang Theory when Raj, Howard, and Sheldon go look up an entomologist to settle a bet:
- Sheldon often answers rhetorical questions.
"And what kind of doctor removes feet from asses
"Depending on the depth, that would be either a proctologist or a general surgeon.... Oh.
- In Warehouse 13, Artie is looking at the Warehouse's electrical schematic and muttering to himself.
: For crying out loud. Who designed this thing? Leena
: Thomas Edison. Nicola Tesla. And M. C. Escher
- One Mark Wary sketch on The Wedge features his manager asking "How could Mark possibly have impregnated three women at the same time?" Mark, sitting next to him, unhelpfully answers "Daylight Savings."
- In Firefly:
Mal: Do you want to run this ship?
Mal: Uh, well ... you can't.
Tracy: Do you think I'm stupid?
Mal: In every way possible.
- In How I Met Your Mother, Barney's brother shows the gang pictures of his son.
James: Isn't that adorable? When was the last time you saw a diaper poking out from a Dolce and Gabbana suit?
Marshall: Tuesday, At work... some of the senior partners are really getting up there.
- Also Barney once, when he was angsting to Honey (played by Katy Perry) about finding his father.
Barney (to Honey as he's about to climb in bed with her) Who's your daddy?
Honey: (flirtatiously) I don't know... who's your daddy?
Barney: (bursts into tears) I don't know!
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has:
Mr. Whitmore: How many of us have lost countless productive hours plagued by unwanted sexual thoughts and feelings?
Xander raises his hand.
Mr. Whitmore: That was a rhetorical question, Mr. Harris, not a poll.
- And in "Bargaining, Part I":
Xander: (to Willow) Excuse me? Who made you the boss of the group?
Anya: You did.
Tara: You said Willow should be boss.
Anya: And then you said "let's vote," and it was unanimous...
Tara: ...and then you made her this little plaque, that said "Boss of Us," you put little sparkles on it...
Xander: Valid points all.
- In "Seeing Red" Buffy is up against a vampire who's putting up a good fight.
Buffy: How hard you gonna hit when you're blowin' in the wind?
(Vampire kicks Buffy into a tombstone just as she dusts him)
Buffy: (groaning in pain) That was rhetorical.
Buffy: Have I ever let you down?
Giles: Do you want me to answer that, or shall I just glare?
Spike: What the bleeding hell is wrong with you bloody women? What the hell does it take? Why do you bitches torture me?
Buffy: Which question do you want me to answer first?
- In "The Harvest", Angel tries to talk Buffy out of going into the sewers.
Buffy: I've got a friend down there. Or at least a potential friend. You do you know what it's like to have a friend? (Angel bows his head) ...That wasn't supposed to be a stumper.
- Cordy bitching at Xander for dragging her out of bed for a ride. "What am I, mass transportation?" ("What's My Line, Pt.1")
Xander: "That's what a lot of the guys say, but it's just locker-room talk."
- After Wesley is fired, Cordelia barges into the library and demands to know what happened to him. Xander responds, "Inbreeding?"
- Angel gets in on it too, when Cordelia is chastising him for letting a demon get away:
: Do you know how hard
it is to think
with a rebar
through your torso? Cordelia
: Actually, I do.
Benefits of a Sunnydale education. note
- In the Angel season 5 episode "You're Welcome," Cordelia reunites with Team Angel after coming out of her coma and sees that gun has let his hair grow out slightly, leading to this:
: Oh, my God. Gunn? You have hair
: What'd you think, I was Prematurely Bald
[Cordelia just looks at him, a smile on her face
: ...I wasn't.
- On Will and Grace, when Grace is getting ready for her rushed wedding to Leo, she and Will have this exchange:
I'm doing the right thing, right? Will:
Nothing. No, I just—I'm just saying—as a friend, I want you to know that if you were thinking of calling it off, don't worry about the people out there. Don't worry about all those gifts. You do what your heart tells you is right. Grace: ...
Are you freaking kidding me with this?! Will:
"If," I said "if!" Grace:
The question was rhetorical. That means you're supposed to say "yes." Will:
That's not what "rhetorical" means. Grace:
Are we talking about what "rhetorical" means or about how you're freaking me out right now?! Will:
Am I supposed to answer that or is that rhetorical too?
- In Star Trek: The Original Series, Spock sometimes answers rhetorical questions. For example, this exchange from "The Apple," after Spock has risked his life to save Kirk:
Kirk: Trying to get yourself killed. Do you know how much Starfleet has invested in you?
Spock: One hundred twenty two thousand two hundred —
Kirk cuts him off
Kirk: Never mind. But thanks.
- Supernatural did one of these in the episode "Bedtime Stories".
Dean: "Dude, could you be more gay? ...Don't answer that."
- Community — in "Competitive Wine-Tasting" Professor Sheffield, who teaches a class critically analysing Who's the Boss?, opens his first class with the question: "Who was the Boss?" He intends it as a rhetorical question — unfortunately, as Abed ends up conclusively and empirically demonstrating, this particular question has a quite clear and definite answer.
- So the professor moves on to "What was happening?" (a course critically analyzing What's Happening!!)
- Slings and Arrows has this dialogue exchange (from "Steeped In Blood"), which perfectly typifies the difference in philosophy between Geoffrey and Richard.
Geoffrey: Which would you prefer: an empty house with a great play, or a full house with a piece of garbage?
Richard: GARBAGE! GARBAGE! I want GARBAGE!
- From Monty Python's Flying Circus, the Science Fiction Sketch:
Charles: Will they stop at nothing?!
Carol I don't know, do you think they will?
Charles: I meant that rhetorically.
Carol What does rhetorically mean?
Charles: It means I didn't expect an answer.
- From Dexter:
Debra: I've sat through god knows how many briefings; why am I so fucking nervous?
Dexter: Because everyone'll be looking to see if you know what you're doing?
Debra: Do me a favor: when you get back to your desk, look up the word "rhetorical".
- Done in Threshold. Awesomely
Whitaker: (sarcastically) And how many people do you think you can pluck off the streets before people start noticing?
Molly: (completely serious) Approximately 300.
- When Samantha Carter is introduced in the pilot of Stargate SG-1, the men in the briefing room are somewhat annoyed that "another scientist"note (and a female one, no less) is being foisted on them for the recon mission to Abydos. Maj. Kawalsky condescendingly asks her if she has ever pulled out of a simulated bombing run in an F-16 at eight-plus g's. Carter's response is a Blunt "Yes", and Kawalsky has to stop and process that before saying that traveling through the stargate feels worse.
- In the That '70s Show episode "Over the Hills and Far Away":
Kitty: What is wrong with you? Were you dropped on your head?
Kelso: Yes, I was! And up until now everybody had the good grace not to mention it!
- In Doctor Who, K-9, being a computer, was prone to this:
Romana: How could I have been such a fool?!
K-9: Question unclear. Kindly rephrase.
Romana: Oh, be quiet, K-9.
- From The Doctor Dances:
- Babylon 5, choosing between sending a signal about the presence of a Shadow fleet and risking detection, or laying low until they can get the engines back on line:
Ivanova: Who wants to live forever?
Marcus: I do, actually. But what the hell... Signal away.
- The George Lopez Show: Max has been so stressed from schoolwork that he's developed insomnia. When George tries to reassure him...
George: Then you've gotta take the pressure off yourself, Max. Okay, what's the worst thing that could happen if you failed the fifth grade?
Max: I'll be humiliated, I'll lose all my friends, I'll have to redo all the work I hated doing this year, and every day I go to class, I'll know I'm stupider than everyone else there!
George: You've obviously given this some thought.
- In The West Wing, during President Bartlet's Establishing Character Moment, a right-wing Christian fundamentalist asks him "If our children can buy pornography on any street corner for five dollars, isn't that too high a price to pay for free speech?" clearly expecting Bartlet to either agree with him, or try to wriggle out of giving a straight answer. He's rather taken aback when Bartlet immediately replies with a Blunt "No". An unusual example of this trope, in that this was not a case of the unwanted answer coming from someone who didn't understand what the asker was expecting, and the following two minutes prove how totally outmatched the fundamentalists are by Bartlet both in intellect and force of personality.
- An early episode of Dharma and Greg has a no-longer-hippie friend of Dharma's father explain, rhetorically, "How long can you keep driving around in a VW bus with shag carpeting on the walls?" Father replies after a moment's thought: "Fourteen years."
- In You're The Worst, Edgar has doubts about Jimmy going to his ex's wedding, leading to an inversion of this trope:
Edgar: Are you sure it's even a good idea that you go?
Jimmy: What's the worst I could do?
Edgar: Okay, fine.
Jimmy: No, seriously, what is the worst I could do?