Weird Or What
—Shatner's typical closing remark on a story.
(sometimes marketed as William Shatner's Weird Or What
) is a television series that explores the unexplained and the mysterious. Hosted by William Shatner
, the show's subject matter covers anything that is strange and does not have a proven scientific explanation. This includes the paranormal such as aliens, curses, ghosts, monsters, and conspiracy theories, as well as documented phenomena like medical mysteries, unexplained disappearances, superhuman feats, archaeological mysteries, and more.
Typically, each episode showcases three stories. Sometimes there's a common theme connecting them, sometimes there isn't. Shatner opens each episode by briefly explaining the stories, then examines each of them. Shatner narrates a recreation of each event, sometimes with interviews with the actual people that were affected. The show then examines possible explanations for the event, occasionally with tests conducted by experts or the show itself to show if a theory is plausible or not. Ultimately though, because they are only theories and cannot be proven, the mystery is always left open, Shatner commenting that the tale is "weird, or what."
Tropes in this work:
- Adam Westing: Shatner, naturally. Downplayed in the stories as Shatner narrates compared to the segments featuring him on camera, though his distinctive speech patterns are always present.
- Affectionate Parody: At times it appears to be going this route towards paranormal-mystery shows. Shatner has fun engaging in Lampshade Hanging about a story being silly or outlandish, and in some segments it's played as though he fumbles what he's supposed to say and they have to do several takes for him to get it right. And as noted on the YMMV page, the show at times appears to be going for the Narm Charm angle.
- Butt Monkey: As part of Adam Westing, the segments with Shatner usually have him acting foolish or otherwise being embarrassed, such as finding his missing cellphone stuck in a tub of ice cream, pulling a blow-up doll from a trunk of goods and hiding it, and finding a box marked "Overdue Bills" in his yard.
- Catchphrase: Shatner has several:
- "Is that weird, or what?" or a paraphase of such, at the end of a story.
- "Join me next time for three more stories that will undoubtedly be...weird, or what." at the end of an episode
- "You know, I've been around for a while. I've travelled the world, met some interesting people, done some crazy things. So you might just think there's not much that could take me by surprise; you'd be wrong. The world is full of stories, and science, and things that amaze and confound me every single day. Incredible mysteries that keep me awake at night. Some I can answer, others just defy logic." — the Opening Narration. After clips and summaries of the stories of the episode, followed by. "Yup, it's a weird world....and I love it."
- Dan Browned: The show does this itself for some stories, have an expert put forth a theory, then another expert or Shatner will explain why that theory doesn't work for whatever reason, or only explains part of the mystery. This may be done several times over to emphasize how the common theories cannot explain the mystery in full.
- Lampshade Hanging: Shatner has his fun with this from time to time.
"Why is it every time something strange happens, we immediately blame the aliens?"
"Now this is the part in the story where I'm supposed to scratch my head and say 'is that weird or what'."
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: While the show focuses more on the fantastic and paranormal explanations, each story has experts providing more scientific and mundane explanations for instances of aliens, monsters, ghosts, etc. There are also stories that are known to have happened and have been documented, and the show doesn't propose paranormal explanations for them since there reasonably isn't going to be one, such as a "toxic woman" who infected the hospital staff that cared for her with strange illnesses.
- No Fourth Wall: The show is very upfront with the fact that Shatner is just reading lines for the producers and doesn't really know what he's talking about sometimes.
"I've been doing this show for a long time now, and it seems every unexplainable mystery can be explained by quantum physics. And no matter how many times they tell me, I still don't get it."
- Opening Narration: From Shatner as he enters his home to begin telling the viewers the episode's tales. Episodes often feature different takes, but the speech generally remains the same.
- Speculative Documentary: Though it examines more likely and grounded theories alongside the fantastical. Some of the experts interviewed are also recognized authorities on their field of study, so even if their proposed theories are out there, they have some credibility.
- Title Drop: Almost always at the end of each story, and always at the end of each episode.