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Are You Sure You Want to Do That?

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A phrase said by one character as a subtle warning to another character that their next proposed action is likely to be a big mistake. Trope Codifier is Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird.

It doesn't have to be those exact words. Any question of this type that is a neutral call for confirmation on the surface, but is loaded with implied danger if the speaker gets the answer wrong, falls under this trope. The speaker is giving whoever is about to make the error a chance to back away from the edge of a precipice before they plummet over into the abyss.

Being asked this is a red flag that you are dealing with The Trickster. If you're being asked it while under said trickster's wing, that makes the character a Trickster Mentor as well, the kind of mentors who prefers to let his or her students make their own mistakes and naturally smooth out the rough edges before teaching them the final touches... but they can't help themselves from issuing a subtle warning that they know the bold or chronically indecisive are ultimately going to ignore. (It's fun to watch them fluster over the choice before getting it wrong anyway, after all, and a mentor has to have fun, right?) It's also the favorite disclaimer of the Literal Genie.

Of course, this may be used in a serious context later on when used on a villain who is about to make his own grave, ruin his own plan, or otherwise screw things up for team evil. This may also be used as a Call-Back to the original question to the hero under tuition; all the more appropriate if the question comes from the student themselves. After once being played straight, it is sometimes used as a bluff to unnerve an opponent from making a good move. However, it's rarely, if ever, a bluff the first time, and it's likewise unheard of for someone to take the hint when it's not a bluff.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the Virtual Nightmare Arc of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Jonouchi uses this in his duel against Chikuzen (Johnson in the dub), after using a card that requires Chikuzen to choose from one of two cards without seeing them. Chikuzen at first seems not to fall for it, saying that because Jonouchi asked "Are you really sure?" after asking the question normally, it probably means Chikuzen guessed right. However, Jonouchi manages to keep such a stiff poker face that Chikuzen loses his nerve and changes his mind; unfortunately, he had gotten it right the first time, and this blunder costs him the duel.
  • Rei of Neon Genesis Evangelion...yes that Rei, tries to rationalize wiping out the human race, justifying that everyone the right to life, but Shinji is adamant. She does it, then...undoes it.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Lucifer one-shot ''Nirvana," the title character visits the demon Beruchapalimon for leads about the Silk Man's recent attack on himself. The demon assumes Lucifer intends to read his entrails for clues and so has his Mooks attempt to restrain him while he prepares a magical assault. Lucifer says, "A threat display, demon? Have you thought this through?" Beruchapalimon doesn't take the hint, and proceeds to cast knives at him out of thin air, only for Lucifer effortlessly to turn the knives on the mooks. "I really was just looking for information," he tells the demon, holding a knife to his throat.

  • From The Dark Knight:
    Lucius Fox: "Let Me Get This Straight.... You think that your client - one of the wealthiest, most influential men in the world - is secretly a vigilante, who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands... and your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck."
  • In Hot Fuzz, By-the-Book Cop Nicholas asks the Psychopathic Manchild the villains are using as Dumb Muscle whether murdering people is what he "really, really wants". After confirming it, he quips "Suit yourself" and kicks his ass.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, when Barbossa is about to slit Will's throat and undo the curse:
    Jack Sparrow: You don't want to be doing that.
    Barbossa:, I really think I do.
    Jack Sparrow: *shrugs* Your funeral.
    Barbossa: *extremely annoyed* Why don't I want to be doing that?
  • In WarGames, David Lightman logs on to the computer Joshua as Stephen Falken, who in his past liked to research war games. Joshua asks "Falken" if he would like to play a game, and David types in: "Love to. How about Global Thermonuclear War?" Joshua replies, "Wouldn't you prefer a nice game of chess?" As we learn later, the real Falken would prefer chess, but David insists on playing Global Thermonuclear War.
  • The protagonist of Mulholland Dr. is asked this by the hitman she hires to kill her ex. The guilt of it then drives her to suicide.
  • In Open Graves, the protagonist wins a Jumanji-like boardgame that grants you a wish if you complete it. As most of his friends died while playing it, he tells the wish granter that he wishes it were last week, before any of this happened. She tells him that it seems a waste as it'll put him right back where he started and he, being an idiot, insists on going ahead instead of taking a moment to consider this statement. So it's last week. And he, lacking Ripple Effect-Proof Memory, proceeds to let the exact same sequence of events happen over again.
  • In Mortal Kombat Johnny Cage challenges Goro to protect his friends.
    Shang Tsung: Challenging Goro, eh? You weren't supposed to fight him now. Are you that eager to die?
  • Sir Galahad in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when the nymphs of the Castle Anthrax examine him for injuries:
    Sir Galahad: Are you sure that's absolutely necessary?

  • Trope Codifier is Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird, as mentioned above. He uses it several times in Scout's earlier years before the story as a warning during chess matches that she was about to make a mistake: Scout never took the warning and always got trounced when she ignored it. The second time uses it for drama in a climactic moment that displays Atticus's bravery as he faces down a lynch mob, and, after asking them what they are here for, asks the titular question. It is not this that disperses the crowd, however, but Scout's famous Shaming the Mob speech that follows.
  • Near the end of Solo Command, Dr. Edda Gast is offered a new identity and a half million credits in exchange for information regarding certain brainwashing projects that Warlord Zsinj is undertaking. After accepting the deal, she is asked by her liaison (Nawara Ven) whether she wants New Republic credits or Imperial credits. She chooses Imperial credits. After a bit more discussion, Ven gives her one last chance to change her mind, and to work directly for the New Republic. She blows it off...and soon after, is arrested on Coruscant for carrying half a million Imperial credits, which, according to law, is such a large amount that it can only be for purposes of sedition. She is promptly arrested, and presumably convicted for the crimes she was set up for. Given what Gast had done, she deserved it.
  • About midway through the Legacy of the Force series, Lumiya and Alema Rar have temporarily teamed up and at one point enter a discussion about Sith philosophy and history. After a while Alema has connected enough dots together from Lumiya's input that she begins to speculate about the possibility that there are more Sith hiding in the galaxy. Lumiya then asks if she really wants to know if that's true or not (implying that Alema's life would be forfeit once she learned the truth), at which point Alema wisely decides to shut up.
  • In Ranger's Apprentice Book 1, Halt uses this twice to teach his apprentice Will to think before acting. In the first case, Will is learning how to shoot a recurve bow (a smaller version of a longbow), and Halt asks him if he wants to go ahead and shoot right off the bat. Will, being an eager 15-year-old, pulls back the string, fires...and yells in pain when the heavy bowstring smacks into his unprotected arm.
    • Later, Halt asks the same question before Will climbs atop his new horse. Will goes right ahead...and learns that Ranger horses are trained to buck off any rider who doesn't say the code word, in order to keep them from being stolen.
    • In a funny turn of events, Will ends up on the other end of this eleven books later when training his own apprentice, who's just as eager and reckless as he was.

    Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek, "The Trouble with Tribbles:"
    Korax: That saggy old rust bucket is designed like a garbage scow. Half the quadrant knows it. That's why they're learning to speak Klingonese.
    Scotty: Laddie, don't you think you should rephrase that?
    Korax: (With Scottish accent) You're right. I should. (Drops accent) I didn't mean to say that the Enterprise should be hauling garbage. I meant to say that it should be hauled away as garbage!
  • Bob Barker did this occasionally on The Price Is Right, if someone made a really bad bid, such as $250 000 on a daytime showcase.
  • Happened on Whose Line Is It Anyway? during a game of Greatest Hits. Drew asked the audience for a European city you would go to to have a good time, and got back Paris and Amsterdam and had to make a decision.
    Drew: "Paris...Amsterdam...umm...let's do uhh...P...Am...Amsterdam..."
    (Ryan, Colin, and Wayne all give Drew bemused, questioning looks)
    Ryan: "Ooookaay!"
    Drew: "...Let's do Paris."
  • Invoked by Regis Philbin's famous "Is that your final answer?" on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, although he was required to ask the question if the contestant did not specify that it was. This ensured that the contestant would accept the result of The Reveal and not claim that (s)he wasn't really ready.

  • From time to time, on the radio game show Ask Me Another, hostess Ophira Eisenberg, in-house musician Jonathan Coulton, or the Puzzle Guru will hint that a contestant or V.I.P might want to reconsider their answer.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Classic Traveller supplement The Traveller Adventure. If the PCs decide to get rid of the anolas, the game master is advised to ask them if they really want to do that. This represents the slight but growing hold the anolas have on the PCs' minds.
  • GURPS allows players to buy the "Common Sense" advantage for their characters, which basically obligates the game master to ask this very question when they're about to do something that would blatantly violate it. (Though this arguably falls under Useless Useful Non-Combat Abilities since sufficient player savviness — or a kind GM — will provide the exact same benefits for free rather than charge character points for them.)
  • The 2004 edition of Paranoia recommended that new players be allowed the "newbie net" for their first few clones — the GM should ask for confirmation when those players were about to do something stupid.
  • The disclaimer in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition Player's Handbook:
    Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for consequences of splitting up the party, sticking appendages in the mouth of a leering green devil face, accepting a dinner invitation from bugbears, storming the feast hall of a hill giant steading, angering a dragon of any variety, or saying yes when the DM asks, "Are you really sure?"

    Video Games 
  • In Apollo Justice, Gavin asks Phoenix Wright if he really wants to embarrass himself with the falsified evidence he is about to present. It seems at the time to be simply arrogant taunting, and Phoenix does it anyway.
  • Across the Shin Megami Tensei games, it's a tradition to ask very politely if you really intend to enter an area where the monstrously strong Fiends await. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne even asks twice.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas this occurs upon first meeting Benny where a female character with the Black Widow perk can sleep with Benny, but only if the player is willing to confirm the action through around a dozen utterances of this trope by Benny. Some of the dialog gets a bit creepy. It's not a perfect example, though — Benny isn't warning you, he is genuinely confused why you would want to sleep with someone who shot you in the head and left you for dead. If anything it is Benny who should have been more cautious, given that you can take advantage of the opportunity and kill him while he's distracted by sleeping with you.
  • In Nier, Nier can save save Kaine from the Black Scrawl by choosing to not just die but completely erase even the memory of his existence from everyone's minds. This includes all your saved games. The game spells out the consequences and repeatedly asks you to confirm your choice.
  • In NieR: Automata: after achieving Ending E, you are given the choice to offer aid to another player struggling with the final grueling shoot-em-up segment of the game, the same as the aid you received. In so doing, however, you would have to consent to having your save data erased. You are asked for multiple confirmations, warned of the consequences beforehand including losing access to Chapter Select and Debug Mode until you unlock them again, and the fact that the aid you would send would be received by another player selected at random, maybe even someone you don't particularly like.
  • Used for humorous effect in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!. Selecting Claptrap at character creation requires you to go through three confirmation screens (as opposed to one), each asking you if you're absolutely sure you want to play as him.
  • Alpha Centauri displays this sort of warning if you order one of your army units to attack an enemy unit which happens to be far more powerful.
  • In Planescape: Torment having a very high wisdom will add an extra branch to conversations where, if you choose to do something foolish, a message will appear that basically says: "Something inside you says that would be a really stupid thing to say. Are you sure?"
  • In StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, during the Bar Brawl sequence, Tychus is about to pull down the jukebox in the cantina. Jim warns him: "Don't do something you're gonna regret." Tychus ignores the warning, pulls down the jukebox, and throws it at Raynor—who dodges, then promptly disables Tychus's suit using the electrical cable the jukebox was plugged into.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, in the chapter taking place on the train, Mario has to retrieve a ghost's diary to help its owner pass on. If Mario attempts to read the book, multiple warnings appear that this is a bad idea. If the player insists on reading the diary, the ghost appears and causes a Nonstandard Game Over.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue's Simmons tries to keep it as non-objective as possible: "Sir, wouldn't it be better if we didn't do that, instead of doing it?" And usually, he is ignored.
  • Not a Normal Genie: A kid ignores the warnings of a genie on his loophole wish and it backfires on him.

    Web Comics 

    Real Life 
  • If your Game Master says this in a Tabletop RPG, then you really might want to reconsider your chosen action.
  • A well designed (modern) computer program will do this before an action that is hard/impossible to reverse, or just plain dangerous/destructive, as a way to make sure you don't accidentally perform said action. (One classic example is MS-DOS's "Are you sure (Y/N)?" prompt for deleting all files in a directory.) Given that computers are the embodiment of a Literal Genie, this is a good thing.
    • Depending on how often this is encountered, people would get annoyed by this to the point of disabling it. Even if it meant your computer was now open to being destroyed by users being stupid.

Alternative Title(s): Ominous Warning Prompt