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Defensive "What?"

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It's a living."
Training Dummy, Undertale

Basically, when someone says or does something outlandish or offensive for whatever reason, only to realize that everyone is staring at him, while he evidently didn't think whatever he said was that odd.

Could be because he just said the dumbest thing anyone has ever heard in their lives, because it was horrifically offensive, or maybe even because he just spouted an unexpectedly inspired bit of brilliance and doesn't realize it yet.

Related to Big "WHAT?!" and Flat "What". Can be used to lampshade an Out-of-Character Moment. Often overlaps with Funny Background Event.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is Chiri's reaction in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei when the rest of the class reacts to her treating "juicing her sister" as something completely natural.
  • In The Rose of Versailles, Girodelle is discussing with Oscar about his proposal to her when he notices how Oscar is venting her nervousness:
    Girodelle: Are you eating rose petals?
    Oscar: What?! Is it forbidden?!

    Comic Books 
  • During Marvel's Civil War event, the Punisher of all people winds up in Captain America's anti-registration camp. When two minor super-villains show up and offer their support, Cap is on the verge of accepting, when the Punisher guns them both down. One panel of shocked looks from all the anti-reg heroes, followed by a panel of Castle looking at them, still-smoking guns in his hands, and asking "What?" Cap proceeds to beat the stuffing out of him.

    Fan Works 
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged Episode 36, Gohan does this when Piccolo glares at him after Dr. Gero berates Android 19 for using "dodge" as a complicated subroutine. It ties into the Running Gag that Gohan has never learned to dodge attacks, and that's why Piccolo has to frequently save his bacon.
    [Piccolo glares back at Gohan]
    Gohan: What? ...What?!
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: When Ami's minions don't believe that she's only a magical human instead of some demonic being, she says "What?" while being defensive:
    Ami's eyebrows shot up as everyone kept staring at her with bated breath. "What?" she asked into the silence, crossing her arms in front of her chest defensively.
  • In one story of Facing the Future Series, when Danny gets an idea on how to rescue Danielle from the Guys In White, he stares at Jack, who lets out one of these. Turns out, Danny meant to use Jack's earlier failed experiments to Storm the Castle.
  • Naru-Hina Chronicles: After Sasuke accidentally convinces Naruto to join the ANBU, Sakura frowns at her boyfriend and says "Oh... Way to convince him, Sasuke!" He replies with this trope.
  • A Study In Situations: In one drabble, Holmes nearly gets run over saving a child. When Watson glares at him, not appreciating the scare, he asks "What?" and questions Watson's sense of adventure.
  • Universe Falls: In "The Dinner Shack", this is Stan's reaction to the look he gets from the kids after an argument over the phone with Connie's mother.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • When Gideon kicks Ramona down a flight of stairs in the climax of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Scott and Knives give him an appalled look and he responds with this. Then they beat him to a pulp.
  • In the first Men in Black, K snaps off a defensive "What?" when J gets mad at him for being too trigger-happy with the neuralyser.
  • Rizzo lets these out on two occasions in The Muppet Christmas Carol, both times when he forgets something that would have been extremely helpful just a little earlier.
  • In Undercover Brother, shortly after the heroes have seen the black army general's newly-released commercial for General's Fried Chicken,note  the BROTHERHOOD's token white member, Lance, walks past with a bucket of fried chicken from the new restaurant while humming the theme song from the commercial. Cue everyone staring at him and him responding with this trope.
    Lance: "General's Fried Chicken, it's butt-kickin', General's Fried..." [sees the others staring] What? It's catchy!
  • In Jurassic World, after Owen and Claire had talked about their failed first date, Claire asks him who would wear broad shorts on a date. Owen gets rather defensive about it.
    Owen: It's Central America! It's hot!
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Darcy Lewis does this after zapping Thor with her tazer — with Jane Foster and Erik Selvig staring at her in horror:
      Darcy: What?! He was freaking me out!
    • In Avengers: Endgame, Bruce Banner experiments time travel with Ant-Man as the guinea pig. After a series of hilarious mishaps which make it clear that the experiment was a failure, Bruce elatedly declares out loud "Time travel!", to which Captain America simply shakes his head and leaves.
      Bruce: ...What? I-I see this as an absolute win.

  • In Monstrous Regiment, Jackrum gets defensive after laying out the bouncer in the camp seamstresses' tent.
    Jackrum: What? What! He was coming in here with his club!
    Polly: [knowingly] And why was he doing that, Sarge?
    Jackrum: [approvingly] Oh, you— all right, I'd just given Madame the old "quietus"...
  • In Oathbringer: The characters find the body of the recently murdered Sadeas. Despite his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, most of the characters are still disturbed that they were murdered, but Palona has no such reservations:
    Palona: Well! I guess that's one problem solved!
    [everyone stares]
    Palona: What? Don't tell me you weren't all thinking it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: When the station fails to explode or disappear.
    Ivanova: No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There's always a Boom tomorrow.
    [Beat, as Sinclair and Garibaldi wordlessly walk away]
    Ivanova: What? Look, somebody's gotta have some damn perspective around here! Boom. Sooner or later. BOOM!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In one case, used to lampshade that Xander was the one to know some key bit of information.
      Xander: What, I can't have information sometimes?
      Giles: It's just somewhat unprecedented.
    • Cordelia got to use it too.
      Cordelia: I'm looking forward to the SATs. I do well on standardized tests. ...What, I can't have layers?
  • In one episode of Drake & Josh, after Josh misses his chemistry exam because of Drake, he points at Drake, only for Drake to play innocent and give this response, which Josh does not take very well.
  • Ken Titus tends to do these on Titus, usually in response to someone's reacting to something he'd done to Christopher.
  • In Supernatural season 12, Crowley gets one when he offers the Winchesters assistance: "What? I help."
  • Odd Squad:
    • In "Oscar and the Oscarbots", Olive comments that Oscarbot 24 might be at Club 24, a nightclub located downtown. When Oscar and Otto look at her suspiciously, this is her response:
      Olive: What? I have a life outside of work!
    • In "Bad Lemonade", when Odd Todd offers Olive and Otto a free sample of his lemonade, Olive smugly tells him that they wouldn't drink a single thing made by him. Of course, as usual, her smug attitude backfires on her, as she forgets about her Big Eater of a partner, who has a cup of the lemonade in his hand.
      Otto: What? It's free.

  • Alice Cooper delivers one at the end of "Skeletons in my Closet" on the album Dada.
  • Three Days Grace has a song titled "So What," about the narrator accepting his flaws and rebuffing people who criticize him.
    So what if I'm crazier than crazy?
    So what if I'm sicker than sick?
    So what if I'm out of control?
    Maybe that's what I like about it
    So what?

  • The News Quiz:
    • A frequent response by panelists when the audience judges a joke as too soon.
    • Notoriously sports-averse Sandi Toksvig does this to the audience in the 2011 News Quiz Panto when, for plot-convenient reasons, she just happens to know about England cricketer Graham Onions.

    Video Games 
  • Destroy All Humans!: This happens when Cryptosporidium fails a mission and is called out on it by his superiors.
    Orthopox: Crypto!
    Crypto: [exasperated] What?!?
  • An unlockable cutscene in Jak X: Combat Racing shows Daxter and Tess drinking coffee, with Daxter turning to the audience and asking them "what". This was an intentional Take That! to the "Hot Coffee" GTA scandal.
  • LEGO Legends of Chima Online: In the "A World of Adventure Awaits You" trailer, Longtooth runs up to another Lion taking notes on soldiers being deployed and tells him they need to send Laval some backup, only for the notetaker Lion to tell him they just sent the last of the troops elsewhere. After Longtooth lets out a Big "WHAT?!" at the news, the notetaker Lion echoes him with an indignant-sounding "What?", as he's just doing his job.
  • Mario Party 3: This is Daisy's excuse for laying the Bitchslap from Hell on Bowser.
    Daisy: What? He was in my way...
  • Mass Effect's Kaidan, when having his infamous Covert Pervert moment. "It does sound like something that you'd find on an extranet fetish site. [beat] ...what?"
  • Saints Row has Troy lighting his signature cigarette off a recently killed-with-fire enemy's corpse. Made hilarious by the horrified reaction of his teammate.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • In the Meet the Spy video, the BLU Soldier delivers one of these after shooting the BLU Spy.
      Soldier: What? It was obvious, he's the RED Spy! (He isn't.)
    • And in "Expiration Date", when the team thought they had teleportitis cancer, and then Demoman suddenly teleports in with a crate of beer:
      Demoman: WOOOOOOOOO! Woo!... [sees his team-mates expressions] What?
  • The Final Boss of Undertale's Genocide path pulls a Nonchalant Dodge on you, becoming the first enemy in the game to even try avoiding your attacks.
    Sans: What? You think I'm just gonna stand there and take it?

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Video 
  • Spoony does this during his review of Ultima VII, after recruiting a nine-year-old orphan and giving him a shotgun.
    Spoony: What? I'm the goddamn Avatar, I'm supervising him!
    • Also occurs in Counter Monkey, when recounting Zeus finding his daughter Athena in bed with one of Spoony's characters. This response results in him being thrown off Olympus.
      Spoony: What? She came on to me!

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the premiere episode, this is Pinkie Pie's reply to the others' stares after she eats a cupcake smothered in hot sauce.
    • Rarity also does this in the episode "Lesson Zero", after the third time she dramatically declares "the worst possible thing".
      Rarity: What? I really mean it this time!
    • In the season 4 episode "Three's a Crowd", when Discord asks for a fainting couch, everyone turns to Rarity.
      Rarity: ...What?
  • In The Venture Brothers, when Phantom Limb tranquilizes Brock for insulting Dr. Girlfriend.
    Phantom Limb: What? I'm a supervillain.
  • Ninjago: In "The Last Voyage", when Lloyd looks at Cole when he's whistling the theme tune, Cole responds "What? It's catchy."
  • Robot Chicken lists the top ten things co-headwriter Doug Goldstein could have done with the $12,000 he blew on his timeshare. One example is putting a dollar in 12,000 g-strings. When he is seen doing just that with a male dancer, he gives a defensive what before explaining he ran out of chicks.
  • On Family Guy, Peter doesn't know where he'll get $50,000 he needs to keep the bank from taking his house. Quagmire offers a suggestion.
    Quagmire: Well, you could whore yourself out to 1,000 fat chicks for $50 apiece. Or 50 really fat chicks for $1,000! What? Don't look at me like that. Fat chicks need love, too. But they got to pay.
  • Fat Tony of The Simpsons, on being caught battering the mayor unconscious with a baseball bat: "What? What did I do?"
  • Futurama: Robot Buddy Bender compliments Fry on his metaphorically robotic heart, and then compares it to his own physical human heart, to the dismay of the rest of the crew. He has to ask the question twice.
    • Again in "Zapp Dingbat":
      Leela: No, no, listen. It's time to get on with your life.
      Morris: But she was my life.
      Bender: Awwww. (everyone looks at him) ...What?
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars, evil senator Tal Merrick openly declares he's going to blow up a starship, killing countless people, knowing that Satine and Kenobi cannot kill him due to their "pathetic ideals." Cue a lightsaber exiting his chest courtesy of Anakin, who doesn't share their reservations. Obi-Wan shoots him an accusatory look for this, only for Skywalker to point out he just saved everyone on-board.
    Anakin: What? He was gonna blow up the ship.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: "What did I do?" is one of Eustace's catchphrases, usually after receiving a rolling pin to the head by Muriel.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode "Legend of the Gobblewonker", Grunkle Stan has this reaction when an ill-timed joke about the Awful Wedded Life falls flat.
  • At the end of the 2 Stupid Dogs episode "Love Doctors", Big Dog says "What?" in response to Little Dog yelling at him for burying Kenny Fowler.
  • Steven Universe: In "It Could've Been Great", Peridot gushes about what Homeworld's colonization of Earth could have been like and blames Rose Quartz's rebellion for the Cluster being planted within the planet to destroy it. The Crystal Gems are not happy at these insults to their leader and, following a near-violent confrontation, Peridot wonders what the big deal is.
    Peridot: What did I say? I'm just stating a fact. The Rebellion didn't really save Earth, it just delayed the inevitable.
    Steven: [sigh] That's not the way they see it. They've spent thousand of years trying to protect the Earth. I thought maybe, you finally understood why.


Video Example(s):


Bender has a human heart

Just like how Fry has the metaphorical heart of a robot, Bender has the literal heart of a human.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / HavingAHeart

Media sources: