->'''Carmine Falcone:''' ''[frantically loading his shotgun]'' What the hell are you?\\
'''Batman:''' ''[breaks open the limo's sunroof and pulls Falcone out]'' I'm {{Franchise/Batman}}.
-->--''Film/BatmanBegins''

What does it take to kill this guy? He's only human, right? [[TemptingFate Right]]?

Assumptions are dangerous. You assume that your foe is mortal and limited, that there are certain things he cannot do or [[NoOneCouldSurviveThat survive]]. When these assumptions break down, in their panic, many heroes or villains will ask, "What the hell are you?"

This panic can be triggered by the character having an unusual appearance or abilities, stunning the person who assumed he was normal and could be easily beaten.

See also WhoAreYou and MuggingTheMonster.

!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/DragonBallZ'':
** Frieza has a moment after he realizes what a Super Saiyan is capable of. Frieza blasts Goku square in the face with one of his beams, sending his head reeling backwards. But Goku [[NoSell just slowly lowers his gaze back to normal like nothing happened]]. It's at that moment Frieza [[OhCrap realizes]] just what he's dealing with.
--->'''Frieza:''' You...you...''what are you''?!\\
'''Goku:''' I am the hope of the universe. I am the answer to all living things that cry out for peace. I am protector of the innocent, I am the light in the darkness. I am truth. ALLY TO GOOD! NIGHTMARE TO YOU!
** Vegeta has a similar moment in his fight with Cell. He's so drunk on his new-found power as an "Ascended Super Saiyan" that he lets Cell reach his Perfect form just so he'll have a worthy opponent. He doesn't realize this is a bad idea until Cell takes a full-power kick to the neck without even flinching.
--->'''Vegeta:''' What...''are'' you? I put everything I had into that attack. You should be dead!
** In the original series King Piccolo have this reaction after Goku survived a blast that nuked an entire city.
--->'''King Piccolo''': This can't be happening! This isn't supposed to happen! There's no way a mere human can stand on equal ground with King Piccolo!
--->'''Goku''': [[{{Foreshadowing}} I have a tail, you know. Maybe I'm not human, after all.]]
** In ''Resurrection 'F''', Vegeta asks this of Whis when Whis reveals that not only is he far more powerful than the freaking God of Destruction, but [[spoiler:he has the ability to ''reverse time''.]] Whis's response can be summed up as "I am me."
* The Strawhats got this a lot early in ''Manga/OnePiece'', both from whoever they're fighting and whoever happens to be watching.
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', this is an equivalent of OhCrap, usually uttered when the speaker realizes he has just attacked a demon host.
* Said (in the English dub at least) by Luke Valentine to Alucard in ''{{Hellsing}}''. Notably, this is coming from ''another vampire''. Alucard's just that CrazyAwesome.
-->'''Luke Valentine:''' What are you? ''WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU?!''
* Said once in ''Manga/{{Inuyasha}}'', surprisingly enough, to Kagome by [[VillainOfTheWeek Yura of]] [[CombatTentacles the Hair]]. Her confusion came from the fact that every time she swung a sword at Kagome, it bounced off of Inuyasha's kimono rather than slicing off her limbs.
-->'''Yura:''' What are you? ''Why don't you bleed''?
* In ''Anime/GingaDensetsuWeed'', Kamikiri and his dogs had nearly beaten Toube to death and leave his body there. But when Toube gets up, Kamikiri has a look of shock on his face, and he says this almost every word-for-word:
-->'''Kamikiri:''' What the hell is he?!?
* At the end of the first episode of ''LightNovel/{{Durarara}}'', the last human trafficker screams this when he runs down Celty, knocks off her helmet, and [[HeadlessHorseman notices she doesn't have a head]].
* Nanoha Takamachi of ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha'' has gotten this a couple of times, on account of basically being a human [[Franchise/{{Gundam}} Gundam]].
-->'''[[{{Cyborg}} Dieci]]''': ''(After getting [[CurbStompBattle curb-stomped]] in a BeamOWar)'' Is she really human?
* Subverted in ''Anime/TheBigO'' in the first encounter between Alan Gabriel and R. Dorothy Wayneright (in which Gabriel is serving Ms. Waynewright with a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown):
-->'''R. Dorothy Wayneright:''' What exactly are you? A human? An android just like me? I'm unable to determine what you are.
-->'''Alan Gabriel:''' I'm the boogeyman!
::After the above exchange, Dorothy, who is ThreeLawsCompliant and couldn't have risked hurting a human, apparently concludes that Gabriel has just admitted to being non-human and [[CurbStompBattle ends him]].
* In ''Anime/YuGiOh'', after Bakura defeats Pegasus, he gloats that Pegasus didn't stand a chance against someone who has been playing Shadow Games for centuries. Terrified, Pegasus exclaims, "You've lived for ''centuries''!? What sort of creature are you!?" Bakura replies, "Someone with great power, soon to be greater."
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagicaTheMovieRebellion'': [[spoiler: Kyubey, friggin' [[StarfishAlien KYUBEY]], screams this in regards to Sayaka and Nagisa, who have just revealed themselves to be [[OurAngelsAreDifferent agents of the Law of Cycles]].]]
* ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex: Solid State Society''. A {{mook}} asks this when Section 9 easily takes down his team of professional cyborg guards. Paz responds with IdTellYouButThenIdHaveToKillYou. Motoko asks the Puppeteer this, wanting to know who has both the amoral dedication and cyberskills shown by the BigBad. [[spoiler:She's shocked to find the answer is herself -- the BigBad has been created by her own unconsciousness interacting with the Net.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''[[ComicBook/SpiderMan Amazing Spider-Man]]'' #328 parodies Franchise/{{Batman}}'s use of this line:
-->'''Terrorist:''' What are you?\\
'''Spider-Man:''' I'm Bat--''[ahem]'' I'm ''Spider''-Man.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/{{Predator}}'' is the arguable TropeNamer, with Dutch saying it word for word at the end as he inspects the incapacitated alien.
-->'''Dutch:''' What the hell are you?...\\
'''Predator:''' Whaaat... the hell... are you?\\

* ''Film/{{Batman}}'':
-->'''Batman:''' I'm not going to kill you. I want you to do me a favor: I want you to tell all your friends about me.\\
'''Nic:''' '''''WHAT ARE YOU?!'''''\\
'''Batman:''' [[MyNameIsInigoMontoya ...I'm Batman]].
* ''Film/TheDarkKnightSaga'':
** ''Film/BatmanBegins'': Falcone meets Batman, violence ensues. See the page quote above for details.
** ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises'' does it when Daggett confronts Bane:
--->'''John Daggett:''' I paid you a small fortune!
--->'''Bane:''' [[MeaningfulEcho And this gives you power over me]]?
--->'''John Daggett:''' What is this?
--->'''Bane:''' Your money and infrastructure have been important...[[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness 'til now]]!
--->'''John Daggett:''' [[MeaningfulEcho What are you]]?
--->'''Bane:''' [[EvilCounterpart I'm Gotham's reckoning]]. Here to end the borrowed time you've all been living on!
--->'''John Daggett:''' You're pure evil!
--->'''Bane:''' I'm ''necessary'' evil. [[spoiler:''[breaks Daggett's neck]'']]
* ''Film/MenInBlack'': Agent J saw the Cephalopoid climb up a wall and has now cornered him at the edge of the roof.
-->'''Cephalopoid:''' ''[[[GlamourFailure blinks his eye gills]]]''
-->'''Jay:''' What the hell are you?
* ''Film/JackFrost1997'' (the horror film): The title character is a serial killer transformed into a snowman.
-->'''Tommy:''' What the hell are you?
-->'''Jack Frost:''' The world's most pissed-off snow cone!
* ''Film/ManiacCop'':
-->'''Mugger 2:''' ''[to the title character]'' What the hell ARE you?
* Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger in ''{{Franchise/Predator}}'', after he's seen the eponymous character with his mask off.
** And the Predator asks him the same question right back.
* In ''Film/XMenFirstClass'', we have the following conversation:
-->'''Former [[ThoseWackyNazis Nazi Officer]]:''' ''[in German]'' Who--''what'' are you?
-->'''Erik:''' ''[in English]'' Let's just say I'm FrankensteinsMonster, and I'm looking for my creator.
* ''Film/TheOtherGuys'':
-->'''Terry:''' When you were a kid growing up, didn't you play Cops and Robbers?
-->'''Allen:''' I'll tell you what I did as a kid: I went to school, I made my bed, and at age 11, I audited my parents. Now believe me, there were some discrepancies. And I was grounded.
-->'''Terry:''' What the hell are you?
* ''Film/{{Leprechaun}}'':
-->'''The Leprechaun:''' Is that me gold?
-->'''Tory:''' What the hell are you?
-->'''The Leprechaun:''' I'm a leprechaun, m'dear.
* ''[[Film/NightAtTheMuseum Night At The Museum: Battle At The Smithsonian]]'':
-->'''Kahmunrah:''' What are you?
-->'''Larry:''' I'm the night guard. (''shoves Kahmunrah into the underworld'')
* In ''Film/TheLeagueOfExtraordinaryGentlemen'', one of the [[BigBad Fantom]]'s {{Mook}}s unloads a submachinegun clip into [[Literature/ThePictureOfDorianGray Dorian Gray]]. Instead of dying, Dorian gives his formerly nice suit an annoyed look and proceeds to remove the Mook's plate armor with his sword. This conversation takes place.
-->'''Mook:''' ''[horrified]'' What are you?
-->'''Dorian Gray:''' ''[stabbing him, annoyed]'' I'm complicated.
* ''TheBirds'': after a chaotic, destructive gull attack on the town, Melanie finds a group of people huddled in a cafe. One customer outright accuses her of being responsible for the birds' aggressive hostility, her voice rising in hysteria as she shouts "Who ''are'' you? ''WHAT'' are you??"
* ''Film/RacingStripes'' provides a non-antagonistic example. When a zebra foal finds shelter in an American farmhouse, the other animals are understandably curious.
-->'''Franny:''' What exactly ''are'' you?\\
'''Stripes:''' I don't know.\\
'''Tucker:''' [[DeadpanSnarker Okay, we can rule out "genius"]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Shows up a few times in ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'' in reaction to Szeth's [[spoiler:and Kaladin's]] Surgebinding.
-->'''Szeth:''' What am I? ...[[ApologeticAttacker I am sorry]].
* Shows up in an awesome way in the ''Literature/SweetValleyHigh'' series in book #100 The Evil Twin.
-->'''James:''' Who are you? What are you?
-->'''Margo:''' ''[switch from an angry look to a sweet, innocent one]'' I'm exactly what I appear to be.
* ''Literature/TheNameOfTheRose'': When having sex with a peasant girl, Adso fears she might be a [[HornyDevils succubus]] sent to corrupt him and steal his soul, which they apparently do at the moment of ecstasy when the victim cries out, "Who are you?" She isn't, as it turns out, but as Adso is (was) a virgin and a novice monk, [[SexIsEvilAndIAmHorny he's no less disturbed]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''{{Series/Smallville}}'' is rife with this. Clark gets this all the time, but more commonly "how did you do that?" as he is completely unafraid of using his powers in plain sight of villains.
** There are at least two examples directed towards other characters:
** "Arctic": Brainiac thinks Chloe Sullivan is a normal human. When he pierces her head with his finger tendrils, she unleashes her healing powers in defense, weakening him to the point where he had difficultly burning through a fence with his heat vision. One of the very rare, if not the only, instances in which you see him staggering and panting.
--->'''Brainiac:''' What the hell are you?
** "Phantom": Bizarro has just been rejuvenated from kryptonite instead of harmed, and knocks Lionel Luthor against a wall.
--->'''Clark Kent:''' What the hell are you?
--->'''Bizarro:''' I'm you, only a little more bizarre.
* ''Series/TheCrowStairwayToHeaven'' episode "Solitude's Revenge":
-->'''Kessler:''' What the hell are you?
-->'''The Crow:''' Death without parole.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'': When Riley Finn discovers the little blonde college girl he's dating is a {{Badass}} demon fighter with SuperStrength and HealingFactor, his first question (once he has a chance to ask one) is "What [[[WhoAreYou not who]]] are you?" Buffy, picking up the WhatMeasureIsANonHuman subtext, is not amused.
-->'''Buffy:''' [[SarcasmMode Capricorn on the cusp of Aquarius]]. And you?
** Mild version--in Ms. Calendar's first episode, Giles finds she's aware and knowledgeable of supernatural forces, so he asks, "You don't seem particularly surprised by...who ''are'' you?"
* In ''Series/DoctorWho'', the Doctor meets a woman named Oswin Oswald in a Dalek asylum in the far future, and she dies. Then he meets the same woman (now named Clara) in Victorian London, and she dies. Baffled as to how this could have happened, he seeks her out and encounters ''another'' incarnation of her in modern times, and adopts her as his new companion to figure this out. He avoids confronting her directly about this until several adventures in, when it seems they are both going to die. He demands to know just what the hell she actually is, but Clara is just a normal woman and has no idea what he's talking about. It later turns out that [[spoiler:this Clara ''is'' a normal woman, and the ''original''; she winds up entering the Doctor's personal timeline in order to thwart a villain who had done the same, causing multiple incarnations of her to appear throughout his life]].
** In the new series, Donna Noble is suckered into rewriting part of her life. The ensuing alternate universe is already overkill, but it ends up nearly destroying the whole universe. The space gypsy who did it freaks out and uses this trope.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* ''Theatre/PeerGynt'' has the Boyg, an entity that doesn't answer straight on who it is. When Peer changes the question from "who" to "what", the Boyg replies coherently. In a sense:
-->'''Peer:''' Stuff that stupid answer, it doesn't make things clearer. What are you?\\
'''Boyg:''' The Great Boyg.\\
'''Peer:''' Ah. Until now, the riddle was black, now it seems grey...
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/TombRaiderUnderworld'':
-->'''Lara Croft:''' Tell me this: what the hell are you?\\
'''Lara's Doppelganger:''' I am you with the flaws removed!
* ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum:'' Scarecrow asks this of Batman after he has had ten times the normal dose of fear gas and is still alive and sane.
** In ''[[VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity Arkham City]]'', terrified mooks will demands this of Franchise/{{Batman}}, ComicBook/{{Robin}}, and/or {{Nightwing}} after their mook buddies begin dropping like flies during [[StealthExpert Predator]] mode.
** ''[[VideoGame/BatmanArkhamOrigins Arkham Origins]]'' repeats this trend with Deathstroke. Given that the world's greatest assassin has just had his ass kicked by a previously unknown vigilante dressed like a flying rodent, his shock is more or less validated. Copperhead also has a similar reaction when Batman, despite having been poisoned by her, continues to fight on.
* From ''VideoGame/{{StarCraft|I}}'', Zeratul to Duran: "Who...what are you?"
** ''VideoGame/StarcraftII'' expansion has everyone wondering just what the hell Kerrigan is. She was [[spoiler:de-infested at the end of ''Wings of Liberty'', and seems to have little-to-no memory of the time she spent infested, yet still can control the swarm and still has Zerg features about her.]] Is she really redeemed this time, or is she just trying to pull her MagnificentBastard act again?
* ''VideoGame/CaveStory'': After [[RecurringBoss the second fight against Balrog]], as Balrog is retreating:
-->'''Balrog:''' What ARE you?
-->'''Player character:''' [[HeroicMime ...]]
* ''Franchise/DevilMayCry'': This exchange in ''DMC 3'', after Dante beats [[WakeUpCallBoss Cerberus]] (paraphrased from memory):
-->'''Cerberus:''' You're not human, are you?
-->'''Dante:''' Who knows? To tell you the truth, I'm not even sure myself!
** And again in ''DMC 4'':
--->'''Berial:''' Your [[RedRightHand arm]]... [[OhCrap you're not human!]]
--->'''Nero:''' [[NoodleIncident Don't ask.]] [[CursedWithAwesome Damn thing drives me crazy, though.]]
** Also happened in the first game:
-->'''Phantom:''' You, you're not just any ordinary human. What are you?
-->''Dante says nothing, but Phantom briefly sees an image of Sparda in Dante's place''
-->'''Phantom:''' [[OhCrap The legendary Sparda!?]] [[ThisCannotBe It can't be...]]
-->'''Dante:''' Close. I'm his son!
* ''DissidiaFinalFantasy'': [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyII Firion]] to [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII Sephiroth]] at the start of a fight.
-->'''Firion:''' You make me shiver... What are you!?
* In ''VideoGame/HeroesOfMightAndMagic'' ''V'', Nicolai asks this of Agrael when the demon lord resists the power of Nicolai's Amulet [[spoiler:that has the power to send demons back to Sheogh]]. This is the first hint that Agrael [[spoiler:isn't actually a demon. He's really a Dark Elf.]]
* In ''Franchise/MassEffect'', after Commander Shepard defeated Sovereign, it's implied that part of the reason the [[EldritchAbomination Reapers]] turned their attention to Humanity is due to desperately trying to understand how [[HumansAreAverage an average species]] with no special mental or physical attributes, somehow managed to produce a ''single'' individual who is [[TheDreaded so incredibly disruptive to their plans.]]
** In the ''Leviathan'' {{DLC}}, [[spoiler: even the ''[[EldritchAbomination Leviathan]]'' have this reaction to Shepard, referring to them as "An Anomaly" that has never manifested before in any previous Cycle. They too are ''very'' curious why Shepard is the first thing that the Reapers have ever shown ''fear'' towards.]]
--> '''[[spoiler: Leviathan]]''': [[spoiler: None have possessed the strength in [[YouCantFightFate previous Cycles]]. Your own species could be destroyed with a [[PunyEarthlings single thought]]. But ''[[TheChosenOne you]]'' are different. I have witnessed your actions in this Cycle: the [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu destruction of Sovereign]]; the [[AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs fall of the Collectors]]. The Reapers perceive [[WorthyOpponent you]] as [[TheDreaded a threat]]. And I ''must'' understand '''why!''']]
* In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'', Knight-Commander Meredith has this reaction towards a Mage!Hawke for taking down the Arishok in honourable single-combat, which leads to the rest of the Qunari peacefully leaving and ends the siege of Kirkwall without further incident.
** Fenris will also act this way towards Flemeth, remarking that he has met abominations, demons, and blood mages before, and Flemeth is none of those things. Anders is similarly perturbed that even ''Justice'' doesn't know what she is!
* A non-villainous example in ''[[VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeonExplorers Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky]]'': in the BonusEpisode detailing [[TheDitz Wiggly]][[BigGood tuff's]] origins, as an Igglybuff, he was taken under the wing of a local recluse and former explorer Armaldo. As the two progress through one particular dungeon, Armaldo points out all the traps in the area, including the [[PitTrap concealed pit]], [[TheWallsAreClosingIn spiked walls]], and numerous other traps waiting to deter hopeful explorers. Igglybuff ignores all this, and just uses his unknown power to ''break the door down''. This leaves Armaldo wondering:
--> ''What in the world IS this kid?!''
* [[TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword Ghirahim]] is very surprised that you actually managed to beat him. This doesn't deter him from taunting you later, though.
--> '''Ghirahim:''' [[VillainousBreakdown This... This is preposterous. Driven to my knees by a simple child of man? Laughable! No matter how many times we clash, I can't prevail! You think I can't defeat you? You think I can't win?!]] Boy...what ''are'' you?
* ''VideoGame/MetalGearRisingRevengeance:'' When [[CorruptPolitician Senator Armstrong]] steps up to the plate and reveals his full power, both Raiden and Jetstream Sam ask him this word-for-word.
* ''MarkOfTheNinja:'' When the player character terrorizes the {{Mook}} guards, one of things they'll mutter as they stumble backwards is "What ''is'' this guy...?"
* ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'' has Yosuke saying this line after his attempt to unmask Teddie shows there's nothing inside.
* ''VideoGame/EternalDarkness'': A cutscene combines it with GlamourFailure when the "liche" Pius Augustus posing as a warlord confronts a defeated enemy.
-->'''Soldier''': Who are you?
-->'''Pius Augustus''': I am your lord and conqueror!
-->'''Soldier''': What manner of forsaken being are you?
-->'''Pius Augustus''' (''shifts to his skeletal form''): So, you can see me in my true form...
* In ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsChainOfMemories'', after Zexion barely escapes from Riku, he screams, "What is he? No one's ever worn the darkness the way he does. It's impossible!"
** After Axel [[spoiler: kills Vexen]], Sora can only respond by asking "What ARE you people?"
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIV'' has the final boss of Heavensward ask this of the player character. [[spoiler: Pope Thorden, who became a primal via using an ArtifactOfDoom and a millenia of prayers, is defeated by the player and he becomes absolutely terrified of them since he was (possibly) the strongest primal to date and was beaten by someone who doesn't have the same kind of power.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Webcomics ]]
* ''{{Unsounded}}'':
** [[http://www.casualvillain.com/Unsounded/comic/ch04/ch04_10.html Chapter 4, page 10]].
--->'''Lawman:''' And Elka ''isn't'' crazy... you ''do'' have a mule's tail! [[OhMyGods Twin's mercy]], and those ''teeth!'' What are you?
--->'''Sette:''' ''Awesome.''
** In [[http://www.casualvillain.com/Unsounded/comic/ch05/ch05_13.html Chapter 5]], Ephsephin gets a glimpse of what's under [[OurZombiesAreDifferent Duane's]] hood.
---> '''Ephsephin:''' ''Gods, you—'' W-what the ''fuck'' are you under this?!
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Video]]
* Like the original version, DragonBallZAbridged contains a WhatAreYou moment during the Goku-Frieza fight . Unlike the original, however, Freeza's brain suffers temporary shutdown on glimpsing just how profoundly stupid Goku is.
--> '''Frieza:''' How do you ''function''?!
* In the Sonic fan animation [[WebAnimation/NazoUnleashed Nazo Unleashed]], much like the example with Vegeta and Cell (which it draws inspiration from) Shadow quips this to Nazo after his ultimate attack fails to even scratch him.
--> '''Shadow:''' Just...who are you!?!
--> '''Nazo:''' '' I'm '' the Ultimate Lifeform!

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* From ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'': [[BigBadWannabe Tarrlok]] asks this of [[BigBad Amon]] after he [[spoiler: powers through Tarrlok's bloodbending, a technique that has rendered two different Avatars helpless]]. The answer he gets is "[[CreepyMonotone I am]] [[IAmTheNoun the solution.]]" [[spoiler:He's actually Tarrlok's older brother Noatak, an ''even more powerful'' Bloodbender.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'', when Batman meets Spellbinder for the first time, he's shocked by Spellbinder's unusual appearance (he wears an orange suit that seamlessly covers his entire body, [[TheBlank even his face]]) and asks, "What the heck are you!?"
* Zig-zag: The Devil himself asks [[WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes Yosemite Sam]] "Who the hell are you?" when he lands in Hell in the cartoon "Satan's Waitin'."
* In ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'', Robin asks "What are you?" to Slade when [[spoiler:Slade's mask comes off to reveal a SkullForAHead.]]
[[/folder]]
----
->'''Batman:''' [[BrickJoke ...I'm Batman.]]