- In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Choice", we learn that in her youth, Nicole was under under the thumb of her Education Mama and on a course towards fulfilling the latter's dreams for her, at the cost of her own happiness, until she met her future husband Richard on the way to karate class and he asked her a simple question that would change her life forever:Nicole: I have to fight.Richard: Why?Nicole: Because I have to win...Richard: Why?Nicole: (nervously) So people will like me...
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- ("Who are you angry at?") Delivered by Azula and her friends to Zuko in "The Beach".
- Also, when Aang expresses his opinion that "Violence is never the answer", Zuko responds: "Then I have a question for you... what are you gonna do when you face my father?"
- There's also a Shout-Out to Babylon 5: "Who are you, and what do you want?" Delivered by Iroh to Zuko in "Lake Laogai".
- From an exchange between Iroh and Zuko, after finding Aang's Air Bison.Iroh: What do you plan to do now that you have found the Avatar's bison? Keep it locked in our new apartment? Should I go put on a pot of tea for him?
Zuko: First I have to get it out of here.
Iroh: (losing his composure for probably the first time ever) And Then What? This is exactly what happened back at the North Pole! You had him, and then you had nowhere to go!!
- In an episode of the Golden Disk arc of Beast Wars, what was Sarcasm Mode for Rattrap was an armor-piercing question for Dinobot:Rattrap: Where have ya been? Out saving the universe or something?
Dinobot: (more to himself) Possibly, yes...
- In "Joker's Favor," an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, everyman Charlie Collins, after a bad day, shouts at a speeding motorist who cut him off... that motorist happens to be The Joker. In exchange for his life, Charlie agrees to do a "little favor" for the Clown Prince of Crime—a favor the Joker can cash in at any time. Charlie spends two years hiding from the Joker, but he still finds him and makes him help him with a plan to blow up Commissioner Gordon at a city banquet—and Charlie as well, just for the heck of it—by threatening Charlie's wife and son. When Batman saves the day, Charlie confronts the Joker, who laughs at him and then vows to kill his family if he's caught. Charlie then reveals that he found another one of the Joker's bombs, and threatens him with it. But the Joker's real deepest fear isn't death—it's the idea of dying at the hands of a "miserable little nobody" rather than Batman, and not pulling off a remarkable, memorable crime before he goes. Charlie reduces the Joker—a mass-murdering psychopath who's laughed at the Dark Knight himself—to a quivering wreck by asking him about this:Charlie: See? I can destroy a man's dreams, too! And that's really the only dream you've got, isn't it?
Harley: He told me things! Secret things he never told anybody!
- In "Mad Love", Harley Quinn captures Batman, hoping to kill him, thinking that will help improve her relationship with the Joker. As Batman chews her out for being so gullible and weak-willed for so long, Harley tries to rebut by arguing that the Joker is more sympathetic than people think.
- Batman Beyond: In "Shriek", Bruce Wayne refuses to allow a section of Gotham City, which included the theater he'd gone to the night his parents were murdered, to be demolished. Terry McGinnis asks him if he'd rather have it demolished, so that the painful memories would end, until Bruce asks "Do you want to forget what happened to your father?".
- In the original Ben 10, when Grandpa Max spends an episode obsessing over a sword he's been looking for his whole life for, Ben as Fourarms brings tries to snap some sense into him when he brushes off Gwen's injuries:Fourarms: Grandpa, I think Gwen needs a second to catch her breath
Grandpa Max: No can do. Enoch may already have the sword.
Fourarms: Ever since that alarm went off, that sword is all you think about!
Grandpa Max: You two have to keep your eyes on the prize and remember what's important here!
Fourarms: We DO remember! Do you?
- At the end of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien episode, Solitary Alignment, George asks Ben if people doubt his heroic ability as much as they do George's, Ben agrees and stops fighting and they come to a compromise. Ben will get Ascalon if George is defeated.
- Several times throughout the franchise, Ben ends up facing the question of whether or not he's a hero because it's the right thing to do, or if he's only playing a hero for the thrill of it. Thankfully, over the years, he's found ways to balance the two.
- BoJack Horseman:
Diane: I know who you are.Hank: Everyone knows who I am. I'm Hank Hippopopalous. Who the hell are you?
- In "Hank After Dark", Diane is being criticized and accused of being a whiny feminist bitch for bringing to light numerous sexual harassment cases against famous talk show host Hank Hippopopalous. Later, when Diane and Hank privately meet, he shows her exactly why nobody wants to believe her.
Bojack: "The truth is... I'm jealous."Mr. Peanutbutter: "Of what? You're a millionaire TV star, with a girlfriend who loves you, acting in your dream movie. What more do you want? What else could the universe possibly owe you?"
- In "Let's find out" a dopy quiz show takes a sudden swerve to a somber tete-a-tete between Bojack and Mr. Peanutbutter.
- In "Head In The Clouds", Bojack insists the guilt he feels over all of his horrible actions means he's suffered more for it than any of the actual victims of his behavior. Diane immediately calls him out on that bullshit belief by bringing up one of his greatest failures:
- One Captain Caveman segment from The Flintstone Kids had the title character facing an egotistical superhero-turned-tyrant named Perfect Man. The battle does not go well for Captain Caveman until he manages to reduce Perfect Man to a sobbing mess with one of these:Captain Caveman: If you're so perfect, how come no one likes you?
- DuckTales (2017) has, in its first episode, Dewey land a nice one on Uncle Scrooge during an argument about Dewey's reckless behavior: Asking him which triplet he is. Scrooge can't answer, both because he's been avoiding getting too close to the boys and because he's almost deliberately been ignoring Dewey in particular.
- Earlier in the episode Donald lands one without even trying. While arguing with Scrooge he angrily asks if he can trust Scrooge to watch the boys for the afternoon "without losing them?" Scrooge suddenly snaps out of his angry demeanor and in a hurt voice insists that of course he can be trusted to do so, stung by Donald's accusation.
- Again, in the same episode, after meeting Scrooge, the nephews hit him with a bunch of questions at once, but the one that gets to Scrooge is the one that Louie asks: "You used to be a big deal. Whatever happened to you?" After his adventuring days had ended up to this point, Scrooge had been laying low despite his enormous wealth. It eventually lead to him going getting back to his roots and doing what he once loved.
- In one episode of Fairly OddParents, Timmy has been wishing for a large volume of new things in preparation for a fairy inspection. Due to a spate of recent shoplifting incidents, his parents fear he might be stealing them and confront him about it. Timmy gives them his usual excuse (he bought them over the Internet), but when his dad asks where he got the Internet, he's reduced to stammering.
- Family Guy has a few of these, but one memorable moment in "Brian In Love" has Brian talk to a therapist about his urinating problem. When the therapist asks Brian about Lois, Brian immediately tries to tell him that he isn't in love with Lois and how she is Peter's wife.Therapist: Who are you trying to convince, Brian, me or you?
- Played for laughs in another episode. When Peter thinks he's dying because he found a breast lump, he reassures his kids that they can always be proud of their father and his accomplishments. Meg flatly asks, "What accomplishments?"Peter: (casually) Go to Your Room!
- Played for laughs in another episode. When Peter thinks he's dying because he found a breast lump, he reassures his kids that they can always be proud of their father and his accomplishments. Meg flatly asks, "What accomplishments?"
- Played for Laughs on Futurama when Bubblegum asks Bender "Are you funky enough to be a Globetrotter? Are you?"
- Also in the episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed On TV":Dwight: Hold up, Cubert. You're a clone of the Professor. Do clones even have birthdays?
Cubert: Um, duh.
Dwight: ..."Duh" what?
Cubert: [confused silence]
- Also in the episode "Bender Should Not Be Allowed On TV":
- At the conclusion of the Gargoyles four-part episode, "City of Stone," the Weird Sisters ask a series of Armor-piercing questions to Macbeth and Demona. They convince Macbeth to spare Demona's life by asking him about times in his life when murder never solved any of the problems it should have. They convince Demona to give up vital information by asking her whose actions led to her clans' demises (hint: it was hers). Unfortunately, Demona is so deluded that the revelation doesn't last long.
- Hudson gets to ask several of Xanatos, all in one episode ("The Price"):"Growing old terrifies you, doesn't it?""Demona and Macbeth are immortal. Has it brought them happiness?""When all your scheming's done, what will be your legacy, Xanatos?"
- It's very telling that, after the first one, Xanatos responds with some petty insults towards Hudson, something that would normally be beneath him.
- Hudson gets to ask several of Xanatos, all in one episode ("The Price"):
- Kilowog delivers one to Razer in the pilot of Green Lantern: The Animated Series, calling him out on his He Who Fights Monsters hypocrisy:Kilowog: We know what you're fighting against, kid, but what are you fighting for?
- A couple in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Patriot Act". An old woman asks a mutated General Eiling, who's been fighting several 2nd, 3rd, and 4th string JLU members with no powers, exactly how many people without powers he was going to kill in order to save such people. And when Eiling protests that those with super powers are a threat, a kid points out that he is the only one there who has any. Eiling admits that he has become what he sought to destroy and retreats.
- Done earlier in the Justice League episode 'A Better World' from Batman to Batman. The Justice Lords took complete control of their world to eliminate crime, and Batman has this exchange with his counterpart after apparently surrendering to him, and (while parked at a stoplight) witnessing a citizen being taken away by the police for arguing over a restaurant check.Batman: They'd love it here, don't you think?
Lord Batman: Who?
Batman: Mom and Dad. They'd be so proud of you.
Lord Batman: Just drive.
- Batman and his counterpart attempt to trade several of these earlier in the episode with Justice Lord Batman eventually getting the one that (seemingly) hits the mark.Lord Batman: Think about it - a world where there's no crimes. No victims. No pain.
Batman: And no choice! Who elected you, anyway?
Lord Batman: Who elected you? The problem with democracy is, it doesn't keep you very safe.
Batman: It has other virtues. But you seem to have forgotten that.
Lord Batman: I didn't forget! I just chose peace and security instead.
Batman: You grabbed power!
Lord Batman: And with that power, we've made a world where no eight-year-old boy will ever lose his parents because of some punk with a gun!
Batman: ... You win.
- Batman and his counterpart attempt to trade several of these earlier in the episode with Justice Lord Batman eventually getting the one that (seemingly) hits the mark.
- A later episode of Unlimited has the The Question confronting Superman over the above-mentioned Justice Lords might be a Bad Future instead of Another Dimension as previously assumed.Question: Have you seen Amanda Waller's computer simulations?
Superman: Batman told me about them.
Question: Did he tell you all the models predict that a war between the Justice League and the government will devastate the planet?
Superman: We would never fight the government!
Question: Not even if Luthor was the government?!
- Done earlier in the Justice League episode 'A Better World' from Batman to Batman. The Justice Lords took complete control of their world to eliminate crime, and Batman has this exchange with his counterpart after apparently surrendering to him, and (while parked at a stoplight) witnessing a citizen being taken away by the police for arguing over a restaurant check.
- The climax of the rehab scene in the Metalocalypse episode "Rehabklok" is the doctors asking Pickles why he drinks, and then pointing out if he doesn't admit to them (and himself) the real reason he's The Alcoholic, he'll never get to play in the band again.
- What finally convinces Nathan that there may be something to the prophecy surrounding Dethklok is when Ishnifus asks him "What drove you to destroy your record?".
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Rarity does this to Sweetie Belle in "Ponyville Confidential" upon discovering that, in their pursuit of their talent and destiny-declaring Cutie Marks, Sweetie Belle and her friends have been writing a slanderous gossip column.Rarity: Do you really think that writing nasty things and making everypony feel horrible is your destiny?
- In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, Discord notably pauses and looks uncertain after Shining Armor is drained and asks him "How could you do this?" (referring to Discord siding with Tirek).
- Speaking of Discord, in Keep Calm and Flutter On, he manages to do this to himself when he asks Fluttershy if she thought he'd give up his World of Chaos for her sake. The moment he asks, he starts thinking about the question.Discord: You think you can boss Discord around? You think I'm going to turn all this back because you say so? Because if I don't, I'll lose the one friend I ever had?
- In "28 Pranks Later", when Rainbow Dash finds out that the ponies of Ponyville faked an epidemic to get back at her for her town wide pranking spree, she tries to tell them off for scaring her, only for her friends to launch a barrage of questions at her.Rainbow Dash: Well, I didn't think it was so funny! And I'm the one who got pranked! I was really scared! I thought I made everypony sick! You can't just go around—
Twilight: Pranking whoever you feel like?
Fluttershy: Without thinking about how it might make them feel?
Rarity: Or even if they'd enjoy it?
Applejack: Or think it's funny?
Rainbow Dash: Yeah! (beat) Ohhhh...I see what you did there.
- Rarity does this to Sweetie Belle in "Ponyville Confidential" upon discovering that, in their pursuit of their talent and destiny-declaring Cutie Marks, Sweetie Belle and her friends have been writing a slanderous gossip column.
- Played for laughs in Phineas and Ferb. Albert says he will help Candance bust her brothers and proposes to use spy cameras, which Candance thinks is unnecessary.Candace: Spy cameras? Wouldn't it be easier to just show my mom what Phineas and Ferb make?
Albert: I don't know. Is that easier?
Candace: (suddenly realizing) No! No it's not easy! It's never easy! I need help.
- In the South Park episode "Butterballs", Kyle accuses Stan of exploiting Butters in his anti-bullying video in order to make money. Stan argues that his video could change the way people think about bullying and that it needs to be seen by everyone; Kyle retorts, "If it needs to be seen by everybody, then why don't you put it out on the Internet for free?" After a long silence, Stan's only answer is "What was the question again?"
- In "Cartoon Wars, Part 1", an episode of Family Guy is set to depict the Muslim prophet Muhammad uncensored, resulting in several terrorist threats. Kyle tries to defend the Family Guy writers for standing up for free speech, while Cartman uncharacteristically points out that people can get hurt. This leads to Kyle teaming up with Cartman to get the episode pulled. It's revealed that Cartman doesn't care about people getting hurt however, and that he's just exploiting the controversy in order to get Family Guy cancelled.Cartman: If ten people die because Family Guy just had to have its little joke, will you still think it's funny? What if a hundred people died? Will it be funny then, Kyle?
- In the episode 'Cartman's Mom is a Dirty Slut' when the gathered adults gasp in shock when Mr. Garrison reveals he slept with Mrs. Cartman, he shuts everyone up by asking "Who here has never had sex with Mrs. Cartman?" To which nobody, not even the female mayor or principal in the room can answer.Halfy: I haven't.
Mr. Garrison: ...You don't count, Halfy, you don't have any legs!
Halfy: Oh. Yeah.
- Cartman gets another good one in "Bass to Mouth." The school faculty consult him to help curb suicide attempts by students who crapped their pants, but balk at his plan to keep kids from being singled out by making everyone crap their pants with laxative-spiked pizza. Cartman then asks "Well, if you have a better idea, then why am I here?" One beat later, Mr. Mackey is one the phone, arranging a Pizza Day.
- Played for Laughs when Kenny is hit by lightning late in "Rainforest Shmainforest".Stan: Oh, my God! They killed Kenny!
Kyle: You bastards!
Kelly: [gasp] What?! Who?! Who killed him?!
Stan: [stunned silence] ...They did.
Kelly: Who's "they"?!
Stan: You know... They!
Kyle: They're... They're bastards!
- In "Cartoon Wars, Part 1", an episode of Family Guy is set to depict the Muslim prophet Muhammad uncensored, resulting in several terrorist threats. Kyle tries to defend the Family Guy writers for standing up for free speech, while Cartman uncharacteristically points out that people can get hurt. This leads to Kyle teaming up with Cartman to get the episode pulled. It's revealed that Cartman doesn't care about people getting hurt however, and that he's just exploiting the controversy in order to get Family Guy cancelled.
- In the Spongebob Squarepants episode where SpongeBob becomes a Hikikomori, he's only able to leave his house again after a gorilla attacks Patrick and Sandy, and his desire to save them overrides his fear of being injured again. The gorilla literally tears him in half within seconds, but when SpongeBob asks, "What's a gorilla doing underwater in the first place?", the gorilla panics and flees. On a pantomime zebra. It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context.
- Star Wars Rebels:
[ignites his lightsaber to block her swing] "Then what's the truth?"
- "The Honourable Ones": Twice.
- When Zeb points out that the Geonosians were wiped out by the Empire, Agent Kallus is skeptical, because all he knows is that they're gone now and can't see why the Empire would go to such lengths. Zeb tells him to look for the answer, even though he might not like it. It seems to get to Kallus.
- When Kallus reveals why he dislikes Lasats so much, Zeb tells him that he can't judge all Lasats as the same. In response:Kallus: Does that sentiment apply to Imperials?
Zeb: All the Imperials I know.
- "Trials of the Darksaber": Kanan is trying to get Sabine to discuss her issues so they don't get in the way of her sword training, and taunts her by saying that in Mandalorian culture, she's considered a coward for running away. Sabine says that's not true, so Kanan asks:
- "Legacy of Mandalore": Kanan does it again, during the duel between Sabine and Gar Saxon, when Sabine's mother Ursa says that no one can interfere in the duel because it's Mandalorian custom. Kanan asks her what she values more, Mandalorian customs or her daughter's life. She can't think of a good answer to that question, and ends up proving it's her daughter's life when she guns down Saxon after he tries to shoot Sabine in the back after losing.
- "The Honourable Ones": Twice.
- Steven Universe:
Steven: "That was so great how you worked together. Why don't you do that all the time?"
- In Giant Woman, Steven is trying to get Amethyst and Pearl to cooperate so they can fuse into the eponymous Giant Woman. The two spend the entire time antagonizing each other, until Steven gets in trouble. After the two of them save him he asks.
- In "Rose's Room", Steven, upset with the other Crystal Gems, spends most of the episode alone in the eponymous room. He finds that the room can give him (a simulation of) anything he wants, including a quadruple bunk bed and a tiny pink whale. However, a poorly-worded request prompts the room to recreate all of Beach City for him; this turns out to be too big for the room to handle, causing A Glitch in the Matrix. When he realizes what's happened, the simulation collapses altogether, and Steven is left falling into a black void.
- In "We Need to Talk", Greg realizes that Rose Quartz can't tell the difference between loving humans and being in love with a human, and becomes concerned about whether her affection for him is one or the other. When she doesn't take his concern seriously (confirming it in the process), he confronts her about it, which marks a turning point in both their relationship and Rose's own Character Development:Greg: Can you just talk to me for one second, like a real person?
Rose: ...I'm... not... a real person. I thought... haven't we... is this not how it works?
- In "Keystone Motel", Steven ends up sharing a motel room with Ruby and Sapphire, who are both upset about Pearl's actions in the previous episode, but are at odds on how to deal with the matter. Both Gems are in a poor mood for most of the trip, and all of Steven's attempts to resolve their conflict are ignored or dismissed. Eventually, Steven becomes fed up with the whole thing, which is when the two realize how much of an effect their argument has had on him:Steven: I was so happy when Garnet said she was gonna come on this trip with me and Dad! Home's been awful! Here's been awful! I thought you wanted to have a fun time, but everyone's been acting awful too! It- it just came with us! I don't understand! Is it... is it me?
- In "Back to the Barn" Peridot is baffled when Pearl refuses to obey her orders, as the Pearl Gems are a custom made Servant Race back on the Gem Homeworld. Pearl insists she is her own master, but is unable to respond when a confused Peridot asks "Then what are you for?"
- In "Change Your Mind", Steven asks two of these to Yellow and Blue Diamond in seperate scenes, prompting them to have Heel Realizations.
- The first was "How many times did you make her cry?" asked to Blue Diamond, which makes her realize she was too casually cruel far too often to Pink Diamond and that she was right to abandon her.
- The second was "Does this look perfect to you?" to Yellow Diamond when she tries to justify attacking Blue Diamond and smashing Yellow's palace as being necessary to preserve the "perfect" Gem Empire. This question makes her realize that the "perfect" empire is fundamentally broken and that her actions are driving away the only people she cares about and ruining her life.
- He asks a third to White Diamond while she's thrown a fit after finally realizing Pink Diamond is gone and not coming back. She yells at Steven that he's acting like a child, and his response is "I am a child. What's your excuse?" She begins to back down when she can't answer, and in finding herself mistaken, realizes she's not perfect, which gives her a brief mental breakdown.
- In an episode of Super Friends, Wonder Woman is Brainwashed and Crazy thanks to space pirates and Superman has to fight her. When she snares him with her magic lasso, which forces people to answer any question only with the truth, he manages to snare her as well and asks her, "Are you my enemy, or my friend?" At that, the truth of her friendship sets her free.
- Spoofed in the Treehouse of Horror segment "Easy Bake Coven", where Marge is accused of being a witch and is about to be pushed off a cliff as a test:Lisa: Wait! Doesn't the Bible say "Judge not lest ye be judged"?
(townspeople talk amongst themselves)
Chief Wiggum: The Bible says a lot of things. Push her!
Agnes: (reminiscing) Now there was a weenie you could be proud to call your son.
- From "The Principal and the Pauper":
Marge: Did you ever tell him that?
(Agnes looks regretful)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) had "The Ancient One", where Leonardo, frustrated with their crushing defeat at the hands of Shredder, was seeking out the Ancient One in order to train to become stronger to avoid such an event in the future. Near the climax of the episode, he's pitted against a stone golem that taunts him over his weakness, causing him to fly into a rage and hack at it's head, yelling that he did everything that he could, and that there was nothing more he could do to stop Shredder at the time. When the golem's head crumbles, it reveals Leonardo's own face within.Ancient One: If there was nothing more you could do, why do you punish yourself so?
- The pilot for Welcome To My Life () concerns T-Kash about to get into a fight with another kid for saying that he kind of looked like him. Just before the fight, T-Kash's friend asked the bully "So, what's wrong with being like him?" Sure enough, T-Kash and the tough guy end up making peace and becoming friends.
- In The Dragon Prince, Lord Viren tries to convince King Harrow to use dark magic to switch his soul with a soldier's, so he can survive an assassination attempt. While Viren ultimately settles on an answer, the question takes him aback.Viren: Every one of these soldiers would be willing to die for you!Harrow: Would you?
Armor Piercing Question / Western Animation