- In "Trying to Pick a Fight", Our Miss Brooks colludes with Mrs. Conklin to trick Mr. Conklin in believing that she had went home to her mother. Mr. Boynton calls out Miss Brooks. Hilarity Ensues, as Miss Brooks gets the fight she desires with Love Interest Mr. Boynton.
Miss Brooks: So, what are you gonna do about it, Frog Boy?
- The 100: Due to the Grey and Gray Morality at work, practically every character gets one of these at some point. Bellamy gets one for making the Ark think the 100 were dead, leading to the deaths of several hundred people. Clarke gets one for ruining a peace conference by bringing weapons to it, and later gets another for knowing a missile was going to destroy a village, but doing nothing to stop it. Abby gets one for turning her husband over to be killed, and the Council in general gets several for their overzealous use of executions. Finn gets a lot of these for his pointless slaughter of a Grounder village. And Jasper gets one of these for . . . being kind of an arrogant jerk for an episode.
- In middle of season 2, the title character becomes increasingly "dark", to the point that he lets Dru and Darla kill a bunch of Wolfram & Hart lawyers. After this, Cordy, Wes, and Gunn confront him, telling him he has to change the way he's been doing things. He fires them.
- Also the entire point of season 5's "You're Welcome". Cordelia returns from her comatose state after Descending in order to set Angel and the rest of the gang straight after they began to lose sight of their original goals due in part to taking over Wolfram and Hart, as well as Lindsey's manipulation.
- Again in late season 5 when Angel secretly infiltrates the Black Thorn and his friends suspect he has gone evil.
- Angel wasn't alone on this. How about Fred trying to kill her old professor, Gunn succeeding, Wesley kidnapping Connor, Connor trapping Angel in the ocean, Lorne removing his sleep which caused a Hulk-esque Lorne to be born.. The only person that is immune to this would be Cordelia because she was actually possessed by an Eldritch Abomination during the story-arc where she was the Big Bad. However, they all eventually get called out on it.
- Cordy calls Angel out in the first season for betraying Lindsey when he was trying to do a Face–Heel Turn.
- Babylon 5:
- Sheridan gets called out by Garibaldi over his illegal interrogation of Morden in "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum". Actually, most of the cast gets a turn at this through the course of the episode; Garibaldi was merely one of the more vocal. (Another being Talia, who eventually let her displeasure be known by slapping Captain Sheridan, who admits that he probably deserved it.)
- Sheridan calls out Kosh for his Omniscient Morality Licence bullcrap and for doing nothing while the Shadows rampaged when he could have given Sheridan a much needed victory to get the alliance Kosh wants him to build off the ground. At first, Kosh refused, even smacks Sheridan around, then realizes Sheridan is right and caves in. Poor Kosh.
- Delenn and Sheridan called out the Vorlons and the Shadows for failing in their self-imposed role as shepherds of the Younger Races. While they're not really heroes, they do claim some benevolent intentions (if strange and extreme methods of execution) which have been thoroughly perverted through the eons, and being called out by the Younger Races and the remaining Old Ones makes them realize this.
- When Sheridan is set up for murder by renegade Minbari, Delenn (who seems pathologically incapable of telling anybody anything, at times) keeps her mouth shut, seemingly caught between the truth and loyalty to her people. Sheridan has to shame her into coming clean and clearing his name. It's one of the rare times she's actually called out on her evasiveness.
- Of course, the ultimate Sheridan-to-Delenn What the Hell, Hero? moment comes when he finds out she suspected his wife might still be alive, but didn't bother to tell him.
- There are many, many WTHH moments with Delenn and Sheridan. They both make bad calls more than once, although they have good intentions. Over the course of their relationship they've called each other out many times.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003) (the Darker and Edgier reboot):
- This happens all the time. Often between William Adama and Laura Roslin, or William and Lee Adama. Let's not forget Helo, calling Adama and Roslin on attempting biological warfare and kidnapping his daughter.
- Another scene regarding Roslin arranging the kidnapping of Hera also provides an example of this trope: it is revealed that Adama was not consulted by Roslin about the kidnapping scheme, and believed along with Helo and Athena that Hera had died. Adama is epically PISSED when Roslin finally tells him what she did, to the point he can barely speak over his own rage.
- Being Human: This pretty much is all that goes on with this show after Nina and George bring Herrick to live with them. Nina calls George out on letting Mitchell murder a frightened amnesiac, George calls out Mitchell for the same thing later on, and Annie calls out Mitchell for being an ass in general.
- Better Call Saul: Kim gives one to Jimmy when she finds out he fabricated evidence to get Daniel off from stealing drugs and selling them for profit.
- Bones: The second season features some major screw-ups on the part of the team members, especially in "The Man in the Cell" where several nearly die. This comes to a head in "The Man in the Mansion" when Hodgins' keeping secret his prior involvement with a suspect nearly gets the case thrown out of court. The federal prosecutor chews the whole team out over their behavior, although she apparently didn't know about Booth hauling off and shooting an ice cream truck.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
Angel: "You want me to find the son I've never been there for and ruin the life he's built. Ask him to go back to the hell he grew up in because of me. For some wild goose chase. Something that's not even possible. Here I was ashamed to see you."
- This happens all the time. Citing all the What the Hell, Hero? moments would take a whole page. Some of these are solo efforts, others are group interventions, mostly with Xander spearheading them. Buffy is the most common victim of it (due to her tendency to keep secrets from her friends and to underestimate the danger potential of her boyfriends), but Willow gets her share in the later seasons, and not even Giles or Xander are spared from it.
- Buffy's case is mostly the fact that she's still a teenager and isn't emotionally stable half the time, and people seem to forget that, even her own friends. Because of that, nobody supports her very well in the earlier seasons, even though they try to. This is most evident in the episode where she makes her return to Sunnydale after running away, where everyone collectively lectures her. Nevermind the fact that she waited months to kill her boyfriend; Xander blames her for putting everyone else in danger (the others try to pick up slayer duties), Willow avoids her until Buffy caves again emotionally and tries to run away again, and Joyce tried to give Buffy space, but seemed to have a little difficulty acknowledging that her daughter was home.
- In the same episode, Buffy gives a Shut Up, Hannibal! to her mother's What The Hell Hero speech; Joyce pointed out how worried she was while Buffy had run away, which incensed Buffy, since Joyce had told her to leave and never come back.
- Buffy "acting like such a bitca" in the beginning of season 2 after having been revived.
- Notable in that this particular "What the Hell, Hero?" speech was delivered by Cordelia.
- In Season 9, Angel thinks Connor would be better off without him, so he pretty much abandons him. He doesn't even answer his phone calls, which Faith calls him out on.
- Angel actually gets a few of these from Faith.
- Buffy's friends have this reaction to her in Season 3 on discovering that Angel (last seen as Angelus) has returned and Buffy has been keeping it secret. Also, in season 7, Buffy is kicked out of her house.
- In Season 6, Dawn slaps Willow after almost killing her in a car crash and Tara leaves her after she screwed with Tara's head and broke her promise to avoid magic for a week when she couldn't last a day.
- During Angel and Faith's "Family Reunion" arc, Willow and Angel give one to each other. She wants him to use his son to bring magic back. He's not willing to take such a risk:
- Andrew has this reaction when he finds out that Giles knew that Buffy had gone to the future and killed an evil version of Willow, but didn't tell him or set up precautions in case Willow did turn evil again. Giles even acknowledges he is right, and they begin working on an emergency plan in case Willow does go evil again.
- After Angel gets exposed as Twilight, everybody has this reaction to him, especially after it is revealed he was an Unwitting Pawn to a evil dimension trying to end the world. After he gets possessed by the real Twilight and kills Giles and Buffy is forced to destroy the Seed of Wonder to stop the destruction of the world, the only ones willing to associate with Angel and not try to kill him are Buffy and Faith, and Buffy doesn't even want to be around him anymore. Willow, however, has grown past this somewhat, but she still states that she hasn't forgiven him for his actions next.
- In Season 9, Buffy and Spike give Andrew complete and total hell after he swaps Buffy's mind into a robot after roofieing her at a party, in order to protect her from an unknown Big Bad that is after her. Without telling anyone else what he did. This leads to Buffy thinking she is pregnant due to limitations of the robot body, but discovers that she is a robot when her arm gets chopped off. Spike even threatens to kill Andrew if he doesn't fix the situation.
- Burn Notice:
- Michael Weston gets these pretty regularly, usually from Fiona or Madeleine, when he is forced to endanger friends and innocents to get an operation to work. He got it most often in the 4th Season, when after inadvertantly burning Jesse Porter, Michael recruited him into his investigation without coming clean about his involvement, sometimes even bypassing opportunities to clear Jesse's name for the sake of the mission. More recently he got one after getting Sam involved in a very dangerous operation that nearly got him killed (significantly, Sam himself was okay with it).
- This has almost become protagonist is always wrong, as almost every time Micheal is forced to endanger people or do something morally grey, he is called out on it. But if Fiona or Sam do the same, he is expected to back them up.
- The Closer: The final season is one long What the Hell, Hero? directed at Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson for running roughshod over proper police procedure. In particular, Brenda drove a murderer who'd gotten an immunity deal back to his house... and left him there to get lynched.
Britta: "Way to go!"
- In the episode "Introduction to Statistics", when Jeff finally snaps and tells his friends to get lost and leave him to seduce Slater, they — and Slater — are quick to point out what they think of this (although Troy subverts it):
Abed: "I know I'm not Batman; you could try not being a jerk."
Troy: "She's pretty hot."
Jeff: [Slinking back over to Slater] "Well, where were we little doggy?"
Slater: "Unseemly." [Walks off]
Jeff: [Deflated] "Yeah... crap."
- In the season 2 premiere, Jeff calls out Abed on being obsessed with TV and movies. Abed answers that 'in movies and TV we have likeable leading men. But in reality we have this. We have you.'
- The Cosby Show: Vanessa and her friends make a very stupid choice and sneak off to Baltimore for a concert. Problem is, the apartment where they told their parents where they were burns to the ground, and they end up losing their car and money. Clair, furious at being lied to and thinking Vanessa was dying, gives her one hell of an ass-chewing.
- CSI: Brass spends much of the episode "Genetic Disorder" getting these repeatedly, because he lets his own past influence his thinking that Doc's wife really was cheating on Doc. He doesn't let up until the end of the ep, when the evidence shows what really happened.
- Crusade: Babylon 5's Screwed by the Network spinoff series, had two completed but unproduced scripts that were filled to the brim with this trope. In these separate episodes (one being midseason, the other being the season finale), Captain Gideon risks his current ship and crew to chase down and get revenge on the Mysterious Evil Spaceship that destroyed his previous ship, killing his captain and the rest of the crew, and between the space battles there are a lot of "What the hell?" speeches from the rest of the main cast. It's only overshadowed by the finale's revelation that Gideon's bosses in EarthForce created the Evil Ship, and his best friend, Galen the Technomage, knew the whole time, at which point Gideon gets to do some "What the hell?"-ing of his own.
- Doctor Who really loves this trope:
Psi: It's very obvious that you've been with him for a while. Because you are really good at the excuses.
- The Doctor's companions have been calling him on stuff since the very first episode. Remember Susan's freak out when he decides to keep Barbara and Ian prisoner? Two episodes later, the Doctor moves as if to bash an injured man's head in (because he wanted to escape to the TARDIS and thought they were wasting time), and Ian intercepts him asking what the hell he thought he was doing.
- Barbara Wright gets a great one in The Edge of Destruction. The Doctor is threatening to throw her and Ian out of the TARDIS, into empty space, and she tells him he has no right to threaten them as he owes his life to the two of them several times over already.
Barbara: Accuse us? You ought to go down on your hands and knees and thank us!
- Steven nearly left the TARDIS over the Doctor's refusal to save anyone during The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve.
- Jamie, probably one of the Doctor's most loyal companions, gives him a right telling off after being manipulated in The Evil of the Daleks.
- Resurrection of the Daleks in Season 21 has the Doctor's companion Tegan leaving as a result of her disgust over the bloodshed she had just witnessed and the Doctor saying he must mend his ways. (He doesn't.)
- Often just the way the seventh Doctor treats Ace, especially when it's to further a hidden scheme of his.
- Jackie Tyler, Rose's mother, would chew the Ninth Doctor out for showing up out of nowhere, taking her daughter away with him with no explanation, and not even always getting the return date right.
- The Ninth Doctor gets a couple very brief ones in the episode Dalek. One in the form of a Dalek commenting on how he would make a good Dalek for suggesting its new orders were to kill itself, one in the form of Rose pointing out that the Dalek wasn't the one pointing the gun at her.
- Even Margaret Blaine, a.k.a. Blon Fel-Fotch Pasameer-Day Slitheen, an alien who has proved herself perfectly willing to destroy entire planets, gets in on the act in the episode Boom Town, when she observes that the Doctor's "happy-go-lucky life" seems to generate an awful lot of destruction.
- In Tooth and Claw, Queen Victoria also calls him and Rose out for giggling and acting silly immediately after a terrifying adventure.
- Joan Redfern calls the Doctor on the consequences of his dalliance as a human in The Family of Blood: "If the Doctor had never chosen this place, on a whim... would anyone here have died?"
- Donna turned down an invitation to take a spin around space-time with the Doctor after he wiped out the Racnoss in The Runaway Bride. She continues to call him on his various "Time Lord-y" decisions throughout Series Four, particularly when he states the destruction of Pompeii is a "fixed point in time," and so he decides not to interfere; and how he neglected to help the enslaved Ood when he last met them.
- In The Sontaran Stratagem, Martha gives the Doctor a bit of a chewing out for his self-righteous attitude towards a group of UNIT officials, pointing out that they were doing their best to save the planet and frequently had to do so in his absence. Although, at the end of it, Martha mentions wanting to make them 'better'.
- In The Unicorn and the Wasp, Agatha Christie gets in on it. "How like a man to have fun while there's disaster all around him! ...I'll work with you, gladly, but for the sake of justice, not your own amusement."
- Journey's End gives us an example of the hero calling himself out: The Doctor banishes his clone self to a parallel universe after his act of genocide upon the Daleks. Although the clone self also gets to be free to be with Rose Tyler through that banishment, and in a cut scene would've got a piece of Grow-Your-Own TARDIS... He also gets called out by the villain (Davros) - "You turn your companions into weapons!"
- At the end of The Waters of Mars, the Doctor has told himself that as the last of the Time Lords, he can change the laws of time as he sees fit and after violating the rules and changing a fixed point in time, has gone slightly mad with power. Adelaide, one of the people he saved, is rightly horrified, and gives the Doctor a good verbal battering. She then brings him back down to earth...by killing herself to make sure the timeline goes as it's supposed to.
- In The End of Time, Wilfred calls out the Doctor for his refusal to kill the Master, when doing so would restore humanity to its regular state.
- In The Time of Angels, the Doctor spends a lot of time walking around like he owns the place, which usually works for him. The Bishop in particular is offended at how arrogant the Doctor is, and calls him out on it.
"I know that, Doctor. And when you've flown away in your little blue box, I'll explain that to their families." Ouch.
- Done quite well by Rory during The Vampires of Venice.
Rory (to the Doctor): You know what's dangerous about you? It's not that you make people take risks, it's that you make them want to impress you! You make it so they don't want to let you down. You have no idea how dangerous you make people to themselves when you're around!
- In Amy's Choice, the Doctor even does it to himself, in the form of the Dream Lord, pointing out his self-righteous attitude, and the fact that he never visits his 'friends' after he leaves them.
- Rory does it again in The Big Bang. Subverted as the Doctor was testing him.
Doctor: Your girlfriend isn't as important as the whole universe.
Rory: SHE IS TO ME! (punches the Doctor)
- In A Good Man Goes to War, the Doctor realizes too late that the antagonists have stolen Amy and Rory's baby and are going to turn her into a weapon against him. River Song arrives to call him on it:
Doctor: You think I wanted this? I didn't want this! This wasn't me.
River: This was exactly you. All this! All of it! You make them so afraid. When you began all those years ago, sailing off to see the universe, did you ever think you'd become this? The man who can turn an army around at the mention of his name. Doctor. The word for "healer," and "wise man" throughout the universe. We get that word from you, you know. But if you carry on the way you are, what might that word come to mean?
- May apply for Rory again in The Girl Who Waited when the Doctor makes Rory choose which of two Amys (Present Amy or Future Amy) to take with them. Note: this is after the Doctor explicitly tells them that they can take both Present Amy and Future Amy aboard the TARDIS. Later, the Doctor tells Rory flat-out that he lied to them. Then makes Rory choose which to keep. After Rory and an unconscious Present Amy are already on board. And Future Amy is sobbing right outside the TARDIS. Then leaves Rory to explain to Present Amy the dirty job of what had to be done when she comes to and asks what happened to Future Amy.:
The Doctor: Your choice.
Rory: This isn't fair. You're turning me into you!
- In The Wedding of River Song, the Doctor does this to River when she refuses to kill him, thus altering a fixed point and nearly destroying time.
Doctor: River! River! This is ridiculous! That would mean nothing to anyone. It's insane. Worse, it's stupid! You embarrass me.
- Amy gets an especially epic What The Hell Hero moment in A Town Called Mercy, when the Doctor attempts to hand Jex over to the Gunslinger:
The Doctor: We could end this right now. We could save everyone right now!
Amy: This is not how we roll, and you know it. What's happened to you, Doctor? When did killing someone become an option?
The Doctor: Jex has to answer for his crimes.
Amy: And what then? Are you going to hunt down everyone who's made a gun or a bullet or a bomb?
The Doctor: But they keep coming back, don't you see? Every time I negotiate, I try to understand. Well not today. No, today I honour the victims first. His, the Master's, the Daleks'. All the people that died because of my mercy!
Amy: See, this is what happens when you travel alone for too long. Well listen to me, Doctor, we can't be like him. We have to be better than him.
- In The Day of the Doctor, The War Doctor and The Tenth Doctor call out The Eleventh Doctor rather harshly for having put aside what they did in The Time War and no longer remembering how many children died when they pressed the button that wiped out the Time Lords and Daleks.
War Doctor: Did you ever count?Eleventh Doctor: Count what?War Doctor: How many children there were on Gallifrey that day.Eleventh Doctor: [pause] I've absolutely no idea.War Doctor: How old are you now?Eleventh Doctor: Uh, I dunno. I lose track. 1200 and something, I think, unless I'm lying. I can't remember if I'm lying about my age, that's how old I am.War Doctor: Four hundred years older than me and in all that time you never even wondered how many there were. Never once counted.Eleventh Doctor: Tell me: What would be the point?Tenth Doctor: 2.47 billion.War Doctor: You did count!Tenth Doctor: [to the Eleventh Doctor] You forgot! Four hundred years; is that all it takes?Eleventh Doctor: I moved on.Tenth Doctor: Where? Where can you be now that you could forget something like that?
- In Time Heist, Psi is unimpressed by the Doctor's "professional detachment" and Clara's claim that "underneath it all, he isn't really like that."
- Very specifically invoked in Kill the Moon, which ends with Clara telling the Doctor off, at length, for patronising her, for patronising her species, and for deliberately withholding information to make her scared for her life, the life of her pupil, and of the planet itself. The Doctor just stands there and takes it - this is, in fairness, karma long overdue since Deep Breath. And it nearly costs him her friendship.
- Clara is the target of this from Cass in Before the Flood as she takes risks with other people's lives in a very Doctor-like fashion (as part of an ongoing character arc seeing her becoming the Doctor's Distaff Counterpart).
- Pretty much the last 3/4 of Hell Bent is one big version of this trope directed at the Doctor, when he threatens to destroy time in order to save Clara; Clara, herself, gives him one after he shoots the General, though she forgives him instantly once reminded of regeneration; she later gives him a more emotional one when she learns he tortured himself for billions of years in order to try and save her from death.
- In The Escape Artist, this happens twice to Will Burton, the main character:
- In the third episode, Will is called out by the Scottish court judges he stands before, because he mentions that Foyle murdered his wife as part of his defence. They state matter-of-factly that Will confronted Foyle, but it's obvious that they are unapproving.
- This is the reaction that most people have to finding out that Will is on trial.
- Everybody Loves Raymond: In one episode, Ray discovers that his daughter Ally has been bullying a little girl at school, and informs Debra. Debra simply shrugs and brushes the matter away. When Ray presses the issue, Debra replies that she doesn't think it's anything to be upset about. Ray then asks Debra why she doesn't mind the fact that Ally is bullying other kids, and Debra expresses disinterest in the whole thing. When Ray complains about Debra's lack of concern about Ally bullying a little girl, Debra actually utters the line "So, you're upset that I've taught my daughter to be self-confident?!" When Ray is, quite justifiably, surprised and upset at Debra for saying this, he points out that he and Robert are both still scarred from their own experiences with bullying. Debra then calls him a wuss and begins making fun of him......while the studio audience cheers ecstatically for her. This bounces between What the Hell, Hero? and Moral Dissonance, because although the daughter is being recognized for the bitch she is, the mom isn't.
- Farscape: In the "We're So Screwed" trilogy at the end of this show's run, John Crichton leaves Scorpius, his nemesis he'd struck a deal with, to die at the hands of the Scarrens. It's only through a pre-planned plan that John is forced to go back and rescue him. Scorpius, of all people, is the one to call him out on it during a quiet little sit down—sure, he's spent the past few years hunting John and making his life miserable, but he's always been honest about it, and kept any deals he made in full, including genuinely risking his own skin to protect John and his friends.
- Only nine episodes into the show, there was a big one for D'Argo, Zhaan, and Rygel. An alien "scientist" offers the crew maps that can help them get back to their homes...in exchange for one of Pilot's arms. Pilot is unwilling to give one up freely, so they hold him down and chop it off. Pilot is surprisingly forgiving, but Crichton and Aeryn don't let the others off the hook so easily.
- In The Peacekeeper Wars, Crichton finally gets a chance to employ what everyone's wanted since he came into their neck of space: a wormhole weapon. In doing so, he threatens all of space, and members like Rygel try to hit Crichton with this trope, but he reverses it and turns it into Be Careful What You Wish For, noting that, essentially, they asked for it.
- Firefly: In the pilot episode, Wash calls Mal on "the whole murder issue" when he threatens to throw Simon out the airlock if Kaylee doesn't survive her gunshot wound.
- Flashpoint: In this Canadian drama, after a teammate goes to save a girl who was involved in one of his previous cases without telling the others, his teammates call him out for doing something so stupid that could have gotten him killed and nearly did.
- Forever Knight: Natalie does one of these on Nick in one of the first season episodes, when he was close to giving up on his humanity quest.
- Galactica 1980: In one episode, Dillon and Troy don't mind passing stolen money off to honest people, but draw the line at giving money to thieves. In this episode, they are approached by thugs in Central Park. One of them demands that Dillon and Troy give the thugs all of their money. They respond that they can't do that because the money they have is stolen and that this would implicate the thugs in grand larceny. The money actually is stolen, but the problem with this is that Dillon and Troy have been spending that stolen money freely prior to this point. They'd bought camping supplies, paid for meals, bought airline tickets, and paid for taxi rides and every one of these transactions were with honest, law-abiding citizens. What the hell, hero?
- Burt Hummel gives Finn a truly epic one when he hears Finn calling Kurt homophobic slurs. In another episode, Kurt gets called out, also by Burt, for his slightly stalker-y behavior.
- In 'Dance With Somebody', Blainecalls out Kurt for allegedly cheating on him (Kurt was sending dozens of flirty texts with another guy while remaining emotionally distant from Blaine).
- Don't forget Emma calling out Will on messing around with Shelby and for sleeping with April Rhodes (literally sleeping, but she doesn't know that nor does he deny it). "You're a slut Will. You're a slut."
- Blaine gives one to Kurt in "Blame it on the Alcohol" when Kurt tries to make Blaine feel guilty for questioning his sexuality.
- Halt and Catch Fire: This is practically one of Joe MacMillian's modi operandi. Joe's often risky and progressive East Coast corporate thinking puts him at odds with his co-workers Gordon Clark and Cameron Howe, and especially with his more conservative superiors John Bosworth and Nathan Cardiff.
- In "I/O", he deliberately tells IBM that he and Gordon had reverse engineered the IBM PC in order to force Cardiff Electric into the PC-compatible business.
- In "Close to the Metal", Joe engineers a crisis by sabotaging Cameron's work in order to generate publicity for the Cardiff PC.
- In the third season, Daphne pulls a true "What the hell, Hiro?" after watching him stab Ando right in the chest. The kicker? He didn't actually do it.
- Also, we see Nathan Petrelli getting this twice, first from Hiro in Season 1 and then from Peter in Season 3.
- Highway To Heaven:
- Several in a series about a do-gooder angel (Johnathan Smith) and his mortal sidekick, Mark Gordon who travel from place to place to do (usually) good deeds:
- In one episode, Johnathan uses insider trading, including stealing the company's trash and hiring a disgruntled former employee for his insider information to start a series of deals so he can manipulate two companies' stock prices, gain control over the company's voting shares, and get rid of his enemies.
- After seeing a bully take a guy's lunch and walking away, Johnathan (after being told by God not to do this) rips the trunk off the guy's car, then starts a fight with the guy and all his friends, including punching one of them so hard that the guy flies and skids across the top of the car.
- Johnathan pushes a little girl into swimming pools for being a smart ass, but without the benefit of knowing why she was pushed in. Johnathan did it for self-satisfaction.
- Mark also has his moments. In The Secret, Mark's friend Wes finds out that his wife lied to him about their daughter. Wes thinks his wife is a virgin when they met and that his wife can't have kids, but then adopted their daughter. The truth is, his wife slept with a guy before she met Wes, got pregnant, had the baby, and gave it up for adoption. When she met Wes, she hurried up and married him, made up the story about not being able to have children, then went to adopt her own daughter back from the adoption agency. Wes is (reasonably) upset at his wife about her deceit and moves out. Mark spends the rest of the episode trying to convince Wes that it's no big deal and that Wes is over-reacting. In the end, Wes "comes to his senses" and forgives her.
- This show is made of this trope. The climax of the Season 5 opener is Wilson deciding "enough is enough" and telling House he's cutting ties with him. Completely. Since House actually stole prescription sheets from Wilson, this should have happened a season or two earlier. Back then, Wilson just settled for turning House in to Tritter (with eventual explanation), which caused its own problems.
- And then promptly subverted when Wilson comes back because he realizes that being around House is fun and makes his life interesting.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- In season 1, the normally moral and good-hearted Ted deliberately decides to cheat on his long distance girlfriend Victoria with Robin, the woman he's been crazy about for months. He trades phone calls with most of his friends, all of them whom tell him that even going to Robin's apartment is a very bad idea. The future version of Ted, narrating the story agrees that it's the stupidest thing he had ever done. There is fallout over this for the next two or three episodes.
- This actually has fallout in much later episodes, up to the seventh season, when he meets Victoria again and reveals that he's felt guilty about this the entire time.
- In the season three episode "No Tomorrow" Ted is once again on the receiving end of one of these, this time from Marshall after drunken shenanigans with Barney the night before, involving but not limited to hitting on a married woman.
- In the Heat of the Night: After Ainslee, Althea's rapist, gets bailed out of prison, he goes and bothers Althea again at a church. Virgil storms out, beats the crap out of him, and nearly strangles him, only for Chief Gillespie to pull him off of Ainslee and ream him out because it's not going to help and an assault charge against Virgil is only going to make it harder to nail Ainslee to the wall.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
- Every single episode is based on this trope. You could say the show itself is a personification of it.
- Apart from the fact that the protagonists aren't heroes at all and don't mind being called out.
- Law & Order:
- When Jack McCoy goes off into one of his many Writer on Board crusades, expect him to be called on it by at least his colleagues.
- In one episode where they need to get a suspect out of the Iranian embassy, the characters have two women trick two of the embassy employees into taking their pictures, only to have detectives Lupo and Bernard conveniently show up, examine the camera and find pictures of famous landmarks. They then blackmail the employees into helping them under threatening to arrest them as terrorists. Fortunately for the two employees, they were smart enough to call someone higher up in the US government, who proceeded to chew the main characters a new one for the stunt they pulled.
- Now that Jack is the District Attorney, he gets to throw a few of his own WTH Hs at Mike Cutter. Although Connie is the one that usually calls Mike out when he's being an idiot.
- Adam Schiff loved to call Jack out whenever he went too far trying to deliver Justice by Other Legal Means and crept into flat-out abuses of prosecutorial discretion (though in some cases, he'd deliver just a snarky warning that he might be stepping over the line). Similarly, Jack shot down Abby Carmichael's attempt to convict a Serial Killer on charges he was innocent of; Abby pointed out Jack's penchant for bending the law and Jack replied he only did it to convict defendants of crimes they were guilty of in the first place.
- McCoy gets another one in the episode Gov Lov when he succeeds in nullifying gay marriages in the state in order to force a man to testify against his husband (since there are some laws that allow spouses refusal to testify against each other). During the trial, the man bluntly tells McCoy that he would have willingly testified, but due to McCoy's actions ruining hundreds of marriages for his own goals, now he refuses despite knowing he'd be held in contempt.
- In Under the Influence Jack is particularly enraged at a vehicular homicide by a drunk driver, given that this is how Claire Kincaid recently died. So much so that he buries evidence that the driver was drunk, even hiding an exculpatory witness so that he can class the killing as a first degree murder and go for the death penalty. Second chair Jamie Ross repeatedly calls him out for unethical actions in pursuit of vengeance. It eventually has an effect, as Jack relents while the defendant is on the stand.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
Fin: You're a bulldog, Stabler. Quick to assume, slow to admit when you're wrong. Makes for a good cop, but a lousy human being.
- In the episode "Cold", Eliot thinks Fin has tipped off a suspect (who happens to be their colleague, Chester) to run, and dumps his phone records to check. A correct move for a cop, but an absolute dick move to do to a friend and co-worker (even Olivia thinks he should've just asked Fin). Elliot tries (half-heartedly) to apologize, but Fin's having none of it:
Olivia: Fin, hear him out.
Fin: Stay out of it, Liv. That being said, I know what it cost you.
Elliot: Appreciate that.
Fin: I'm not done. The problem is you will still be the same rat bastard tomorrow, and nothing you say will ever change that. (walks out of the station, handing his transfer request to Munch on his way out)
- Would it have been better had he just called Internal Affairs to investigate? (Probably not.)
- From the same episode, Casey gets called out by her superior for blatantly forging the evidence used against the rogue cop she was prosecuting.
- This happens plenty of times in the series. In the episode "Blinded," Olivia and Casey gets called out by each other (Casey for throwing the case of the perp of the week, and Olivia for deliberately informing the feds of the perp's location, knowing that he would be executed, out of revenge for him blinding Elliot). They make up.
- Elliot Stabler is really a walking 'What The Hell, Hero?'.
- "Screwed" is possibly the most notorious instance of this. Elliot is called out for covering up his daughter's DUI charges. Benson is called out for helping a known fugitive escape justice. Fin is called for his actions during his time in the narcotics division.
- One episode has Elliot temporarily being paired up with a different partner, and their personalities make them repeatedly butt heads. After they start fighting in the middle of the office, Cragen calls Elliot into his office and tells him the reason he was paired up with him is so that he would see what it was like to work with him.
- Even the Badass Pacifist of the cast, Dr. Huang, goes ballistic on Stabler in one episode after Stabler intentionally worsens a mentally ill suspect's condition in order to make him talk.
Sawyer: It's how I like to run things. I think. I'm sure that doesn't mean that much to you, 'cause back when you were calling the shots, you pretty much just reacted. See, you didn't think, Jack, and as I recall, a lot of people ended up dead.
- In the episode "Namaste", Sawyer calls Jack out on his leadership in the early seasons (made all the more awesome given that Jack is used to leading Sawyer around, and that the entire interchange arises from Jack's questioning Sawyer for sitting around and reading instead of taking action):
Jack: I got us off the island.
Sawyer: But here you are... right back where you started.
- Unfortunately Sawyer's point is somewhat undermined by his being an ass about it directly afterward and showing signs of exactly the same trends of leadership Jack showed. For his part Jack shows relief and acceptance of Sawyer's general point about his leadership, though in his defense, unlike him, Sawyer has the luxury of a comfortable and powerful position to plan instead of react.
- In the last episode of Season 5, it is revealed that Jack wants to nuke the island so he can get Kate back. He gets called out on it by Sawyer of all people. What the Hell, Hero? indeed. Again sort of undermined when Sawyer changes tack and aids Jack, as does everyone else. Given how things ended up he will rightfully be pissed, but by changing his mind with everyone else and aiding him he has not much ground to stand on.
- The episode "Fallen Idol" has Radar call Hawkeye out after the latter reports to surgery after getting drunk (due to his guilt over having urged Radar to visit a Seoul brothel on his R&R leave, leading to Radar getting wounded by mortar fire en route). This leads to a bitter, though temporary, falling-out between the two men.
- In the season 8 episode "Preventative Medicine", Hawkeye performs an unnecessary appendectomy on a battle-happy colonel to put him out of commission who is scheming of how to an unauthorized (and potentially high-casualty) offensive in direct defiance of his orders. B.J. furiously protests this, calling it "mutilation" and a violation of every tenet they're supposed to live by as doctors. This is an interesting parallel/contrast to previous wingman Trapper, who was only too happy to help Hawkeye do the same thing in the season 3 episode "White Gold".
- On a lesser scale, you'd be surprised on how many times Hawkeye gets called for his self-righteousness and sanctimony. These two flaws are commonly attributed to Seasonal Rot but for one, this is early seasons as well, and for two, it might have been deliberate.
- Merlin: Has a rather epic one pulled by Gaius on Uther in "The Witchfinder". He's one of very few people able to do this without losing their head in the process.
- Gaius:...You see sorcerers where there are only servants...
- The Mentalist: Patrick Jane frequently gets called out on his more...unorthodox methods. Considering his revelations also tend to crack cases wide open, he usually gets by with little more than a slap on the wrist, except when things go really over the top and/or his antics insult someone with connections. More severe consequences are occasionally in the offing, though, to the point that after a couple incidents he's lucky to still have his job.
- The main characters both receive and deliver these. Some examples:
- Monk, when on the receiving end:
- Any time his OCD compulsions cause difficulties in an investigation.
- In "Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike," Dr. Kroger asks Monk if he's been sending him his trash. Monk denies it, but Dr. Kroger immediately points out that the trash in question is sorted according to color and food groups, and it's Monk's handwriting on the shipping label.
- In "Mr. Monk and the Genius," Stottlemeyer confronts him privately in an interrogation room upon finding out Monk plans to plant evidence.
- In "Mr. Monk on Wheels," Stottlemeyer does this to Monk when he sees his friend treating Natalie like an emotional punching bag, in part because of Monk himself getting shot in the leg and him blaming her for the entire ordeal.
- In "Mr. Monk and the Bully," Natalie angrily chews him out when he's deciding to follow his childhood bully's wife, to borderline stalking.
- In "Mr. Monk vs. the Cobra," Monk not being able to cover her expenses.
- In "Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever," Natalie chews Monk out for the problems she has with him witnessing a gang killing and ending up in federal witness protection, namely: she is stuck with him, Stottlemeyer and Agent Grooms in the middle of the woods; her daughter is missing a full week of school since she has to stay with Natalie's parents, Monk has a price on his head, and he broke someone's car radio antenna while trying to straighten it out.
- In "Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike," calling Monk out for lying to the press about the sanitation union boss's death.
- In "Mr. Monk Is On The Run, Part Two," Natalie delivers one to Stottlemeyer for faking Monk's "death" without telling her, even though Stottlemeyer did have valid reasons for keeping the truth from her, namely, fearing that Sheriff John Rollins - who is assisting in the manhunt for Monk, and also happens to be the one who framed him for the six-fingered man's death - might be watching her while trying to locate Monk.
- In "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever," Natalie gets to be on the receiving end when Monk confronts her for being too occupied by her lottery hostess celebrity status to help him on his homicide investigation.
- In "Mr. Monk and the Bully," Natalie angrily chews Monk out for continuing to follow Roderick Brody's wife.
- In the novel Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop, several instances: 1) Natalie getting upset when Stottlemeyer cuts Monk's consulting contract off ostensibly due to budget cuts, but which she sees as retribution to having been humiliated by a rival at a convention. 2) Natalie chewing out Nick Slade for sending Monk loads of case files to overwork him to the point of sleep deprivation.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000:
Joel: (Super Dragon reveals that he'd already photographed the cure for a harmful drug to the mastermind, who's just taken poison) "What a jerk. He just wanted to get the guy's goat son before he died."
- A number of the protagonists of this show's movie-watching experiments are facetious, sexist, rude, stupid, and impulsive, among many other negative qualities, but are rarely recognized as the Jerk Asses that they are within the content of the story. Joel/Mike and the 'Bots are not so oblivious, nor as forgiving.
- The title character of Secret Agent Super Dragon is a good example:
Mike: (As hero David Ryder ignites the gas ditch where The Dragon MacPherson, who also uses a cane to hobble around on, burning him alive) "And our brave hero roasts the disabled man!"
- The hero of Space Mutiny is a real good example:
- In the universe of the show itself, the bots often pull this on Mike just for the sake tormenting him. One example is when he accidentally breaks the Hubble Telescope in The Movie. Another's in one episode where the Running Gag of the host segments is that Crow and Servo get a violent monkey after seeing one in the movie, which proceeds to go crazy and start throwing random stuff at Mike. At the end of the episode Mike sedates it with a tranquilizer gun, only for Servo and Crow to berate him for doing so. No matter what he does, the poor guy just can't win, and that makes it all the more hilarious.
- Mike really gets it during season eight. In the course of the first half of the season, Mike earns the Trope Namer title "Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds" by obliterating three planets purely on accident: allowing cultists to arm a nuke inside the Earth, asking the Nanites to create a diversion to get Bobo and Pearl off of the Observer's World and creating a baking soda bomb way too strong to create a second diversion to get Bobo, Pearl and Brain Guy off the Unnamed World.
- Once Upon a Time: After Emma tries to leave town, taking her son with her, Mary Margaret (who is, unbeknownst to either of them, actually Emma's mother Snow White) gives her a What the Hell, Hero? over both abducting the boy (who Emma had given up for adoption and was living with an adoptive mother) and leaving without saying anything to Mary, who Emma has referred to at least once as the closest thing she has to family.
Henry: Stop! Listen to yourselves! You're talking about killing my mom! You used to be heroes! What happened to you?
- Henry calls out Emma and Charming for considering killing Regina after Snow tricks Regina into killing her mother to save Mr Gold, in order to end the blood feud.
- Power Rangers Mystic Force:
- In the finale of this show, Nick gets called out by his teammates when he decides to give up, after being Curb Stomped by the Master. It didn't help that they had to pry it out of him since, when asked, he didn't even bother to give them a clear answer.
- The whole point of the "Prince takes Knight" episode from Power Rangers Megaforce. Robo Knight, the titular Sixth Ranger and Aloof Ally, is a superpowered, emotionless, relentless robot, programmed to fight Earth Invaders. As such, he fights with utter disregard for any civilian unable to vacate the fighting grounds, prompting the Rangers to shout several times a variation of this trope: "What's the deal, Robo Knight?"
- The Practice:
- This trope is the main overriding theme. At the beginning of the series, the lawyers are idealistic and guided by a clear sense of ethics. As seasons progress, however, the What the Hell, Hero? moments increase to an alarming rate. It first becomes serious as the last resort "Plan B" increasingly becomes a first resort and hurts their reputation among other lawyers. It finally reaches an apex in the final season with Alan Shore. Alan Shore has a notorious reputation for being just barely above-board ethics-wise, but he manages to actually take the moral high ground on the firm when, after firing him, Eugene speaks to Shore's longtime clients separately and tries to convince them to stay with the firm instead of Shore, even though Shore has only been a member of the firm for a few months. Something which Shore only even finds out about because one of his clients, for unrelated reasons, tapes all conversations he has with his attorneys.
- The Firm became so notorious for their dogged "anything-goes" approach that if a lawyer was caught half-assing their defense of the Monster of the Week, someone (even the opposing counsel) could be counted on to point out the nun-killer or child-rapist they successfully got acquitted the other day, call them out on their hypocrisy for daring to allow their disgust at the defendant's crimes to interfere with their efforts and remind them of their legal obligation to use whatever underhanded tactics were at their disposal to get the defendant off.
- Pushing Daisies: In the episode Kerspslash Emerson Codd gets his Crowning Moment of Awesome when he calls out Ned and Chuck for attempting to ruin Lily and Vivian's comeback performance so they wouldn't tour in Europe.
- In the Red Dwarf episode 'Terrorform', in order to escape the Anthropomorphic Personification of Rimmer's own dispair, hug him and tell him that they care about him, raising his self-esteem high enough for them to escape. They then almost instantly then go back on their words, answering his self-deprecating questions about if they really meant it with a resounding "NO." despite having seen his self-loathing and messed up psyche first hand.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
- Does this with Sarah giving up John to foster parents, Derek Reese murdering Andy, and for extra awesome Sarah does it to Cameron. Yes, you heard right, the terminator gets called out on what she does.
- Though in that latter case, Cameron was just doing what her programming told her to do, and she gets confused by Sarah's response.
- And Cameron ends up being right in one situation in which she kills a group of teenagers in a bowling alley in order to keep Sarah and John's secret safe. She hesitantly agrees to allow one of the boys to live, only for that boy to later reveal the secret to Cromartie (and get killed anyway).
- Scandal: It's a show about people's dirty secrets coming out so you get this a lot. For instance, Cyrus gives the President an epic one when he sees that the President is more worried about preparing a speech rather than preventing the coming scandal.
John: There are lives at stake, Sherlock! Actual human li - just so I know, d'you care about that at all?Sherlock: Will caring about them help save them?John: No.Sherlock: Then I'll continue not to make that mistake.John: And you find that easy, do y—Sherlock: Yes, very. Is that news to you?John: N...no.Sherlock: ...I've disappointed you.Sherlock: Don't make people into heroes, John; heroes don't exist, and if they did, I wouldn't be one of them.
- In the third episode, John attempts this on the eponymous character, with limited results:
- The Shield:
- Featured a ton of this as Vic Mackey being called out on his sins as the series came to an end. Between Shane calling Vic out on his murder of Detective Terry Crowley after Vic confronted Shane for his murder of Curtis "Lem" Lemansky and Ronnie Gardocki's final scene as he curses Vic out for betraying Ronnie in order to get full immunity for his laundry list of crimes, creator Shawn Ryan made a huge point of slamming Vic via this trope as the series ended.
- Of course, Ronnie's calling out of Vic occurs seconds after Ronnie's co-worker (and honest cop) Detective Dutch Wagenbach calls Ronnie out on his own laundry list of sins, most notably his (tacit) willingness to turn a blind eye to the fact that Vic Mackey murdered Detective Crowley. Not to mention the fact that Ronnie is arrested within seconds of Claudette performing her own calling out of Vic Mackey, over how he drove his partner/nemesis Detective Shane Vendrell to murder his entire family and himself.
- Breaks down like this: 50% characters angsting about what to do; 10% characters doing something; 40% characters being chewed out by other characters for doing whatever they did.
- Clark gave a What the Hell, Hero? to Chloe for betraying him to Lionel.
- Chloe to Lana when the latter beats her up viciously.
- "Exile" (and part of the next episode, Phoenix): Clark is Brainwashed and Crazy due to red kryptonite and spent his summer living a life of crime in Metropolis. It wasn't really him, since the red k is a potent mind-altering substance for Kryptonians, but it doesn't stop him from being chewed out by pretty much everyone.
Chloe: What you're going to do if one day Lana shows up on your doorstep, or your dad? How are you going to explain this to them?Clark: I'm through explaining myself to anyone.Chloe: Clark, Lana is a wreck and your parents are losing the farm!Clark: What do I care? I'm never going to go back anyway.Chloe: Clark, you are not forced into exile. You ran away from your problems. You're not being noble, you're being a coward!Clark: (roars and shoves Chloe out) Chloe, get out! If you tell anyone where I am, I'll go so far away from Metropolis no one would ever find me!Chloe: I don't even know who you are any more.Clark: GET OUT!
- In "Truth", Chloe temporarily gets the power to compel people to tell her the truth, and immediately becomes Drunk with Power, as she starts prancing around the school terrorizing the entire student body just for kicks. Perhaps the worst moment is when Chloe forcibly outs a closeted gay football player in front of the rest of the school, and then stands there smirking and laughing at him. Needless to say, that scene is definitely Harsher in Hindsight. Clark is horrified by her behavior, but his complaints don't do anything to deter her from continuing her behavior, she only stops after she has a near-death experience at the end of the episode and loses her power.
- "Prey": Clark steals Chloe's list of the meteor infected and gives it to the police because he's hoping it will help solve a murder and prevent future ones. Nevertheless she is not happy.
- "Bride": Lana of all people berates Clark for not restoring Chloe's Brainiac-wiped memories of his secret, with Clark arguing that he was hoping that this would keep Chloe safe.
- "Requiem": Chloe does not like Oliver's decision to kill Lex Luthor to stop him from nuking Metropolis and pin Lex's death on one of his minions who actually was guilty of murder, just not that particular one. Oliver then points out that A. Lex would have nuked the city and gone on to do other horrible things (and the comics show that he's correct in this assessment) and that B. he knows Chloe Mind Raped a bad guy into a catatonic state to protect Clark; the show keeps it deliberately ambiguous whether this was completely her decision or Brainiac's, but Chloe gets flabbergasted and puts up a very flimsy defense. Oliver then points out that ultimately, to protect Clark or the world, Chloe would do similar things. Chloe quite tellingly falls silent. And ultimately, she admits he's right in saying this, and she becomes more of an open Knight Templar.
- "Savior": Clark refuses to go back and save Jimmy despite Chloe's pleas. While he does have a good reason for denying her request (he discovered in Season 5 that preventing one person's death via time travel will merely result in someone else dying—usually someone else in the same circle of acquaintances—and he does not want to let this happen again), Chloe is so broken by now it is hard not to sympathize with her. Then again, Clark knows that if he tries this, it will result in more deaths, and he refuses to allow that to happen.
- "Disciple": Clark does one to Chloe when she tells him she set up the series of death traps and trials in Roulette against Oliver.
- "Conspiracy": Oliver is shocked to know Chloe is making kryptonite weapons. Or, to put it bluntly, weapons designed to kill Clark and his kind.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- The classic episode "In the Pale Moonlight" has Garak call out Sisko when the latter tries to express righteous outrage at the assassination Garak arranged, pointing out that Sisko had known at the start it would have come down to something like that when he had asked Garak to trick the Romulans into the war.
- Sisko has another of these moments in "For the Uniform", where he manages to capture the rogue officer Eddington by poisoning a planet (the people on it have time to evacuate). It's Eddington who calls him out here. Subverted in the same case in that Sisko's plan is to force Eddington to feel morally superior and surrender to prevent any more such attacks.
- Though in a bit of Solomonic wisdom, Eddington had poisoned a Cardassian planet in a way not fatal to humans, so Sisko poisoned a Federation planet in a way not fatal to Cardassians. The sides swap planets so that Eddington's earlier attack doesn't cause balance of power issues so Sisko's really undoing previous damage and capturing the bad guy here - although he did give the order to do the same thing to two more planets unless Eddington immediately surrendered, all because it was personal.
- In "The Dogs of War," Odo calls out the entire Federation when he points out to Sisko that even though they all say they hate the methods used by Section 31, they don't mind standing by and reaping the benefits while the virus engineered by Section 31 kills the Founders.
- During the Dominion occupation of Deep Space Nine, Odo falls under the sway of his former mentor, the Female Changeling, and neglects his resistance responsibilities. Kira angrily calls him out on it.
- "Children of Time", Kira is aghast to learn Alternate!Odo changed the flight path of the Defiant, causing 8000 colonists to vanish from the timeline because he didn't want her to die.
Kira: 8000 people! That makes it right?!Odo: I don't know. He thought so.
- Star Trek: Enterprise:
- Had the crew in a desperate need of a warp core because of a Xindi attack. They met a friendly alien ship also in need of supplies, but they refused to trade them a warp coil. Captain Archer had his crew forcibly raid the ship, trying to justify it by the extreme needs they had and by giving them supplies in return. The alien captain refused Archer's justification by saying it was still a brutal mugging.
- Of course, there was a planet, and by extension, the future at stake. And they did a good job of showing his progression towards that point.
- Then there was the time when Trip was mortally wounded, and Phlox created an accelerated-growth clone of him in order to harvest neural tissue and save Trip's life (the clone would then die). Of course, the clone rapidly became a fully-sentient human with all of his progenitor's memories, and learned that his purpose was to die in order to save another. He was... less than thrilled at the prospect, to say the least. Especially when a guilt-ridden Phlox then thought up an experimental treatment that might save the clone and give him a normal lifespan, which would obviously then mean Trip would die. Archer is unwilling to take the risk and eventually has to order the clone to die, after which both the victim and Phlox immediately call him out on it. The clone eventually accepts.
- Another episode presented a dilemma for Archer and Phlox, when a pre-warp race was dying from a genetic disease and was desperately looking for a cure. While working on the cure, Phlox meets members of another race that has evolved on the same planet. They're treated as second-class citizens but are not abused. Phlox realizes they have great potential that can't be exploited as long as the other race keeps them down. He finds the cure but has trouble deciding whether or not he should tell Archer. Should he provide the cure, save one species, thereby dooming the other into stagnation and servitude; or should he withhold the cure, dooming the first species to extinction but allowing the other one to flourish. When he eventually tells Archer about the cure, he tries to justify his reluctance by claiming that fighting nature is wrong. Archer immediately calls him out by pointing out that doctors do it all the time. In the end, Archer admits that non-interference is the better choice in this regard.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- In the episode "Pen Pals", Data inadvertently begins communicating with a young girl from a pre Warp Capable planet which is facing an apocalypse. Data wishes to assist, but Picard refuses as the Prime Directive prevents interference in the natural development of a civilization. Most of the command staff seem willing to leave them to face their imminent demise, however, Geordi and Pulaski are actually willing to call out the other officers on being so dispassionate about a planetary extinction. Nevertheless, Picard orders Data to cease communicating, but upon hearing a transmission of the terrified girl begging Data for help, he agrees to violate the Prime Directive and help.
- A variation of this occurs in the first part of "Descent". When Data admits he experienced pleasure when he killed a Borg to another Borg being held prisoner by the crew (one who displays a very unusual sense of individuality for a Borg) even though he knows such feelings are immoral, the Borg tells him he must then be an immoral person. (The guy is trying to mess with his head; in truth, Data's feelings are the result of an emotion chip being manipulated by his evil brother Lore.)
- In the episode "The First Duty", Picard gives one to Wesley Crusher after he learns he and his comrades are covering up a colleague's death:
Picard: I asked you a question, Cadet.
Wesley: I... choose not to answer, sir.
Picard: You choose not to answer... and yet you've already given an answer to the inquiry... and that answer was a lie.
Wesley: I said the accident occurred after the loop, and it did.
Picard: But you neglected to mention the fact that following the loop your team executed a dangerous maneuver which was the direct cause of the crash. Yes, you told the truth... but only to a point. And a lie of omission is still a lie. Do you remember the day you first came aboard this ship? Your mother brought you to the bridge...
Picard: You even sat in my chair. It annoyed me at first... a presumptuous child playing on my ship. But I never forgot the way you knew every control and display before you ever set foot on the bridge. You acted like you belonged there.
Wesley: I remember.
Picard: Later, when I decided to make you an acting ensign, I was convinced you would be an outstanding officer. I've never questioned that conviction... until now. The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth. Whether it's scientific truth, or historical truth, or personal truth. It is the guiding principle upon which Starfleet is based. And if you can't find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth about what happened, you don't deserve to wear that uniform. Mister Crusher, I'll make this simple for you. Either you come forward and tell Admiral Brand what really took place... or I will.
- In the episode "Homeward", a primitive culture is also facing an imminent apocalypse, and the crew refused to help because of Prime Directive concerns. The entire crew is willing to let the population die, with one exception who transports the population up from the planet and into the Holodeck, and he feels pretty damn justified in doing so, even if he'll be a criminal in the Federation from that point on.
- Star Trek: Voyager:
- In "Tuvix", a transporter accident fuse Tuvok and Neelix into a new character, Tuvix. The entire episode is spent building him up as being more of a person than an accident, culminating his being forcibly dragged to Sickbay by security to be split back into Tuvok and Neelix. Most of the cast seems to be in favor of this, standing by silently during the initial struggle in the bridge. It's the Doctor who calls Janeway out on it, noting that his programming prevents him from acting against the wishes of his patient. Janeway accepts this, then turns him off before performing the procedure herself.
- Of course, not separating him would mean, essentially, accepting the death of Neelix and Tuvok both.
- Morally and ethically, this is little different from the Doctor's later de-Borging of Seven of Nine, given that none of the individuals had willfully chosen to transform into new beings and were therefore returned to their original condition.
- Tuvix was an aggregate personality with the full memories of both and an independent existence. That's a bit different that being slaved to the Collective. It was essentially murdering a man to bring two dead people back to life, with the added caveat that they weren't even really dead.
- At this point Fridge Logic is introduced: Tuvix's personality could have been stored as a hologram, the same way the Doctor operates every day (and the same way Data in TNG preserved the holographic Moriarity that became self-aware during his Sherlock Holmes simulation). Tuvix could have eventually been restored as a hologram/implanted into a clone or android body/any number of methods we've seen across all Trek series, and nobody had to die. It didn't help that Tuvix was actually a more interesting character than most of the main cast at that point (especially Nelix).
- This wasn't possible in Tuvix's case. Take, for example, the Voyager episode "Lifesigns", where the crew rescues a Vidiian doctor and she has to be put into stasis because of her decaying body, but they need her knowledge as well, and make her a holographic body. The Doctor would have loved nothing better than to keep her around, but the connection would not have lasted for more than a few days. You just can't do that kind of Brain Uploading in the Trek verse at that point.
- Seven of Nine was not very happy when Janeway planned to fix the Doctor's guilt-induced nervous breakdown by giving him what basically amounted to a Holo-Lobotomy.
- In "Virtuoso", the Doctor goes on a rant, claiming that Janeway doesn't see him as an equal and never has. She does have some valid arguments as to why she wants to refuse his request, but it's clear that he has a point as well.
- Janeway got a serious chewing-out from both Chakotay and a one-off character named Arturis for helping the Borg defeat Species 8472 in "Scorpion".
- Stargate Atlantis:
- Michael calls out the team for what they did to him every chance he gets.
- There is also the question as to who authorized the use of biological weapons against the Wraith. It was, however, almost certainly either the IOA, the US military or the US government, considering that Atlantis is in weekly contact with Earth as of the beginning of season 2.
- The IOA or the US government apparently authorized an attack on the Pegasus replicators (Asurans), leading to the practical extermination of the Asurans by the combined forces of the Atlantis Expedition, the Wraith (their primary enemies), and the Travellers (a society composed of a number of advanced starships). One's mileage may vary on this aspect, considering that the Asurans were, for better or for worse (usually for worse) sentient, and thus the actions of the expedition could constitute genocide and/or war crimes. On the other hand, the Asurans, far more so than the replicators of SG-1, are implacable and unambiguously evil (they are never portrayed as emotionless metal spiders, as in SG-1, but as malevolent human-like robots), meaning that the only practical way to actually defeat the replicators is to destroy every single nanite block. Further, the few 'good' Asurans actually survived.
- In one episode, a man infects Jeannie, McKay's sister, with nanites so McKay will figure out how to program them to treat injuries. The guy wanted to cure his otherwise untreatable daughter. McKay does it, but the nanites are indiscriminate and render the kid brain dead (then she dies anyway). To save Jeannie, who will inevitably end up the same way, John Sheppard talked the father into being willfully fed on by a Wraith (preventing McKay from doing the same thing) by pointing out how pointless his life was now that his daughter had died. McKay expresses shock for about 30 seconds and then the matter is never brought up again. On the other hand, that character had repeatedly told McKay and his sister that his life basically had no meaning without his daughter, and would probably have committed suicide anyway. Letting Todd eat him so he could finish deactivating the nanites injected into Jeannie was probably the best outcome.
- One of the series' clip shows is devoted entirely to this. A newly formed interplanetary coalition puts the Atlantis team on trial, with the clip show highlighting every single plot-relevant fuck-up they had made to that point. They manage to win by bribing of one of the judges (who admittedly was already being bribed by someone else). One is swayed by their arguments, and the third was ludicrously, hilariously biased against Atlantis and was going to vote against them no matter what they said or did.
- Stargate SG-1:
- One episode has the team (minus their Morality Pet) betray Fifth, a Ridiculously Human Robot and the lone Replicator capable of human emotion, to trap his more voracious kin and destroy them all. He returns later with an understandably large grudge against Sam.
- This is a recurring element in Stargate, where most of the cast are military, and when people are counting on you for their safety, sometimes the smart choice trumps the right one. On one occasion, Daniel straight up calls Jack a "stupid son of a bitch," and Jack doesn't apologize or make excuses. He just says "it had to go down this way," and leaves it at that.
- In the episode "The Other Side", despite generally operating from a neutral standpoint, SG-1 intervenes in a world war and inevitably causes a massacre of the white supremacist side. Despite the beggings of the faction's leader to be brought with them, Jack returns through the Stargate and closes the iris on him, drawing a shocked and horriffied, and possibly disillusioned or even infuriated, look from Carter.
- There's also the fact that the leader promised to give them their advanced technology in exchange for letting him come with them. Guess what the primary task of SGC is and why NID has to take matters into their own hands.
- Stargate Universe: Hits this early in the first mid-season finale. Upon discovering Rush's attempt to frame him for the murder of a subordinate, Young responds by beating the hell out of him and leaving him for dead on a desolate planet. This action along with Rush's eventual return further expands the rift between the military and civilian personnel including a mutiny attempt shortly after.
Chuck: Come on, Sam — sucking blood? You gotta know that's wrong.
- Sam gets a lot of these after he fails to keep his brother from being dragged off to hell.
- Sam starts using his demon-blood-born powers to exorcise demons between seasons three and four, and in season four, the prophet Chuck is the first to call him on the way he fuels those powers:
- Dean finds out when Sam, jonesing for a fix, cuts a demon's throat to drink her blood so he can pull the demon out of Castiel's vessel's wife without killing her. Dean locks Sam up so he can detox from the demon blood. This is followed by Sam leaving to kill Lilith, thinking that's the only way to stop the Apocalypse (too bad that's actually what starts it)after they fight when Dean calls him a monster.
- The whole point of the addiction makes the title all the more fitting...
- In season 6, soulless Sam gets plenty of these. In Live Free or Twihard, Sam lets Dean get bitten and turned into a vampire. Not some BS "Oh it's all my fault" Wangst, he straight up waited until it was too late before he started to help, because it would help track down the other vampires.
- Dean almost says it verbatim ("Sam" instead of "hero") in "Clap Your Hands if You Believe" when he finds Sam having sex instead of trying to find him after Dean had been kidnapped by "aliens."
- In season six, Castiel gets one in "My Heart Will Go On" from Fate, over how Balthazar altered history by stopping the Titanic from sinking, by Castiel's order, to create 50,000 new souls to aid his side of the civil war in Heaven.
- Later in the season, Dean, Sam, and Bobby confront Castiel on the fact that he's working with Crowley and trying to open Purgatory in order to win the civil war in Heaven.
- A particularly awesome example in season seven episode 1. Death calls out God!Castiel.
- Dean gets a good amount of this from Sam, Bobby, and especially Castiel, who also gives him one hell of a beatdown, in the fifth season episode "Point of No Return" after they find out that he's willing to let himself become the vessel of Michael.
- Dean also gets several from Sam when Sam learns that Dean let the angle Ezekiel actually Gadreel possess him under false pretenses.
- In The Swamp Fox, Marion gets one from a couple of his men, the ones who are also friends. Horry and Plunkett in particular tell him that he's so caught up in finding his nephew's killer that he's forgotten about the war he's fighting.
- In related-to-Doctor Who news, Jack Harkness gets called hard for his actions towards the end of the "Children of Earth" serial. The look on Jack's daughter's face when she confronts him after he killed his grandchild to save the rest of Earth's kids is painful enough without words. Add to that Gwen's angry and tearful denunciation of Jack's running away from what he has wrought on Earth, and it ends up a brutal assault on Jack's modus operandi.
- Upon learning what Jack did in 1965, Ianto confronts his partner.
Jack: Tell me, what should I have done?Ianto: Stood up to them. The Jack I know would've stood up to them.
- Gwen's video recording in Children of Earth also has a bit of "What the Hell, Doctor?" - not because he'd done something wrong, but because there were a number of times when he didn't show up. Then she decided that he must look away from them in shame, given what occurred...
- Also during Children of Earth, Dr. Rupesh attempts this on Agent Johnson regarding her treatment of Captain Jack, only for her to fire back that she wasn't the one who just killed an innocent man to help with a cover story. She then proceeds to murder Rupesh to help with her own cover story.
- Much earlier in Torchwood, Ianto got called out for keeping his Cyberman girlfriend in the basement. He also got two weeks' suspension.
- Twisted Tales: A clone of The Twilight Zone hosted by Bryan Brown, also starred Brown in the episode "The Confident Man". Brown's character and his wife are hardware store owners whose store is held up at knife point by a junkie. He picks up a cordless drill and manages to convince the junkie that it's actually a gun - he just thinks it's a cordless drill because he's so high. His wife and the other employee obviously back him up, and someone who later walks in off the street catches on. The police eventually arrive and cuff the junkie. Brown says "just so you don't go out of your mind, mate..." and pulls the trigger. Cut to his wife: "I don't understand!" It was over! Why did you do it?!". Cut to the junkie, on the floor with a smoking hole in his head. Cut to a gun in Brown's hand. "I thought it was a cordless drill".
- The Vampire Diaries:
- Bonnie gives one to Elena for having Damon compel Jeremy, her brother, into leaving town and getting away from being put in the line of fire as Klaus and his hybrids wander the town. Bonnie brings up the fact that he should be allowed to choose whether or not he wants to do this, not be made to do it by a vampire's compulsion, even if Elena says she's doing it to protect Jeremy.
- Tyler calls out Caroline and the others for murdering the hybrid Chris in cold blood to lift the hunter's curse on Elena.
- Stefan deciding which witch to kill between Bonnie and her mother to save Elena by flipping a coin.
- The West Wing:
- LOVES this trope. Just about every character gives one at some point (with Toby and Leo probably being the most consistent, but really everyone gets one in at least once), often (but not always) targeted at the President of the United States.
- In fact, the 2-part premiere for season 2 which shows how most of the cast got involved with the campaign shows nearly every major character speaking truth to power, demonstrating their commitment to the larger greater good.
- The Wire:
- Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin gets it from the drug dealers, his underlings, his friends, the media and eventually his entire chain of command for his Hamsterdam plan.
- In a similar fashion, McNulty's scheme to manufacture a super-sexy fake serial killer, preying on the homeless in Baltimore in order to force the asshole Mayor to pump more funds into the Baltimore Police Department's budget after cutting said budget to the bone, led to much "What the Hell" yelling at McNulty.
- The best of all of them in The Wire, however, is Bunk's truly epic calling out of Omar after Tosha is killed. Seen here, it is truly powerful.
- Bunk practically lives and breathes this trope, particularly in season 5.
- Wonder Woman: In a metafictional example, a number of reviewers of the 2011 pilot for the failed remake have invoked "What the hell, hero?" in noting scenes in which Wonder Woman tortures a man for information, throttles others with her lasso, and (the most controversial) throws a pipe through a guard's neck - all acts considered violations of how the character of Diana has been established in the comics.
- Xena: Warrior Princess: Gabrielle betrays Xena, calls her out for her vengeful murder plot against the Green Dragon, and follows with a healthy dose of Why Did You Make Me Hit You? in "The Debt". Of course, that was likely a reaction to Xena trying to murder Gabrielle's Enfant Terrible.