Follow TV Tropes


Don't Ask

Go To

"Some honcho in a cushy office on Earth says go look at a grid reference in the middle of nowhere, we look. They don't say why, and I don't ask. I don't ask because it takes two weeks to get an answer out here and the answer's always 'Don't ask.'"
Al Simpson, Aliens

A Stock Phrase That comes up in several situations:

  1. As a response to "How was your day?" Used this way, it implies that it's been a very bad day indeed.
  2. As a response to "How did that happen?" Used this way, it implies It's a Long Story.
  3. As a response to "How do you know that?" Used this way, it implies a more detailed answer would provide Too Much Information.
  4. Before anybody could even ask when they see the character in something awkward.

Sometimes the statement is made preemptively, before the other person can even ask a question. Usually used to avoid recapping events the audience has already witnessed, or used to set up a Noodle Incident.

Has nothing to do with the now defunct military regulation called Don't Ask Don't Tell.note  Or the Lost Boy literally named "Don't Ask."


See also You Do Not Want To Know and Preemptive "Shut Up".


    open/close all folders 

  • Missing (Sherlock Holmes): After an absence to manage the official part of a bust, Constable Randall Cummings walks in on Lestrade trying to open the handcuffs on Watson and Holmes roughly interrogating one of the doctor's captors. Cummings stares bug-eyed and Lestrade can only warn him not to ask.
  • My Dream Is Yours: Otis has this response to Olympia asking him what dreams he is having as a result of contracting Dream-Transfer-itis.
    Otis: [face going red] I...don't want to talk about it.
    Olympia: But how can we...
    Otis: I said I don't want to talk about it.
    Olympia: Okay, okay...

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Arabesque:
    Yasmin Azir: This is like a recurring dream I used to have.
    David Pollock: How did it end?
    Yasmin Azir: Don't ask!
  • As Good as It Gets
    Carol Connelly: How are you?
    Simon Bishop: Don't ask.
  • From Charlie's Angels (2000)
    [after Dylan arrives in a small motorcycle and clothes obviously too small for her]
    Dylan: [to Natalie and Alex] Don't ask.
  • Heat:
    Nate: What happened out there?
    Neil McCauley: Don't ask.
  • The Great Escape:
    [materials being used for escape clothes]
    Bartlett: Where in God's name did you get these?
    Griffith: Hendley.
    Bartlett: Well, where did he get them?
    Griffith: Well, I asked him that.
    Bartlett: What did he say?
    Griffith: "Don't ask."
  • From Legally Blonde:
    [Emmett staring at Elle as she stands in line to buy a computer, wearing a Playboy bunny outfit]
    Elle: Don't ask.
    Emmett: Wasn't gonna.
  • Murder by Death:
    Milo Perrier: [bursts into the room wearing the dead butler's clothing] Don't ask me!
    Dick Charleston: What are you doing in the butler's uniform?
    Milo Perrier: I said don't ask me! I don't know. It all happened too quickly!
  • Outlander:
    Wulfric: This is where your ship went down?
    Kainan: That's right.
    Wulfric: In a lake?
    Kainan: Don't ask.
  • Superman: The Movie: The night Superman first makes his presence known to the world, he is seen supporting the left wing of Air Force One after a freak lightning strike takes out one of the engines.
    Co-pilot: What the hell happened out there?
    Pilot: Fly. Don't look, just fly. We got...something. I ain't saying what it is, me.
  • Tomorrow Never Dies
    James Bond: [while in bed with his Scandinavian language tutor, and on the phone with Moneypenny] I always enjoyed learning a new tongue.
    Moneypenny: You always were a cunning linguist, James. [Hangs up and sees M at the office doorway] Don't ask.
    M: Don't tell.
  • Trouble Man:
    Mr. T: What's happenin', Willy?
    Willy: Don't ask. Also don't have daughters who marry schmuck husbands.

  • In Going Postal the Post Office has a long list of things not to ask about, Mrs. Cake is featured three times. Later when a Golem that used to work in a messenger service for an ancient empire is hired it turns out that the ancients also had a very similar list. The Goddess C'zol appears multiple times. Naturally Moist finds himself asking, only to be told "Do Not Ask!".
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
      Luna: [regarding her father] He's always saying he'd believe anything of Fudge; I mean, the number of goblins Fudge has had assassinated! And of course, he uses the Department of Mysteries to develop terrible poisons, which he secretly feeds to anybody who disagrees with him. And then there's his Umgubular Slashkilter—
      Harry: [to Cho Chang] Don't ask.
    • Madam Pomfrey seems to know not to ask. In all her years at Hogwarts, she probably has seen a fair share of students with injuries that are the result of things students shouldn't be doing. Just looks at Ron's dragon bite, and there's no way that she bought Ron's story that a dog bit him. Also, given her status as a healer, it's very likely she knew Hermione had a mishap with Polyjuice Potion. There might be a good reason for this: if these students were reluctant to go to Madam Pomfrey for fear that their rule-breaking would be found out, they would be likely to leave their injuries untreated; real world patient privacy laws exist for precisely this reason. Could also be a case of I Don't Want to Know. (Or, seeing enough students that she could guess without needing to ask. It's a school for teaching teens about magic, accidents happen.)
  • In the first Warrior Cats book, Firepaw jumps into a cold stream to wash mouse bile off his paws after using it to help clear the elders' ticks. Graypaw and Ravenpaw show up and stare at him like he's crazy, so he says, "Mouse bile. Don't ask."

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones
    • "Daredevils of the Desert"
      Indiana Jones: What happened? How did you get away from those Arabs?
      Maya: Don't ask.
    • "Palestine, October 1917"
      Indiana Jones: Where have you been?
      Rashid: Don't ask. Next time, you play the dead man!
  • Breaking Bad, episode "Bug":
    [Mike and Jesse show up at the superlab with the body of a Gus Fring henchman who got sniped to death by Gaff, the cartel's buttonman]
    Walter White: Should I even ask?
    Mike Ehrmantraut: I wouldn't.
    Walter White: So, what? Is this going to be a regular thing now? Meth cooking and corpse disposal? Jesus...
    Mike Ehrmantraut: Just grab us a spare barrel, Walter.
    Walter White: What was it this time? What did this poor bastard do to piss off Gus? Or did Gus just need to send another message?
    Mike Ehrmantraut: Shut your mouth. You shut your mouth or I'll shut it for you. I don't want you talking to me or Jesse. Just get the barrel. And if you ever plan on calling the cops on one of my guys again, you go ahead and get two barrels.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Wrecked":
    Willow: Magic wasn't all great. I won't miss the nosebleeds and the headaches and stuff.
    Buffy: There you go.
    Willow: Or keeping stinky yak cheese in my bra. Don't ask.
  • Castle episode "Home Is Where the Heart Stops":
    Kate Beckett: [shows her badge while wearing a slinky dress at the fancy charity ball]
    Richard Castle: Where was the badge?
    Kate Beckett: Don't ask.
  • Farscape episode "I Shrink Therefore I Am":
    Rygel: There's a wrinkled old woman floating outside the forward portal.
    John Crichton: Whoa. Gigantic oops. [to D'Argo] Can you do me a favor? Pop outside the tier three treblin side hatch and haul Granny in.
    D'Argo: Noranti is outside?
    John Crichton: Yeah. Don't ask.
  • In The Goodies, Graeme has fallen into a hole where he decides to do some archaeology. He deduces that when he calls up to the surface to Bill and Tim there is a seven second delay, causing this exchange:
    Graeme: [to himself] Let's see, I could do with my archaeology kit and... oh, a bite to eat. [to above, loudly] Yeah, chuck us down my old tweed suit. Oh, uh... a couple of doughnuts.
    Bill: [into the hole] Do you want anything to eat?
    Graeme: [delayed] Yeah, chuck us down my old tweed suit.
    Tim: Anything to wear?
    Graeme: [delayed] Oh, uh... a couple of doughnuts.
    Bill: [to Tim] Where's... where's he gonna wear them?
    Tim: Never mind!
  • Just Shoot Me! episode "La Cage":
    Elliot DiMauro: Nina, I told you I'd never work with Nikki Ellston.
    Nina Van Horn: I thought you said Mickey Rooney.
    Elliot DiMauro: Why would I say Mickey Rooney?
    Nina Van Horn: Oh, that's right. I won't work with Mickey Rooney. Don't ask.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Taken":
    Detective Tutuola: He lives at 1634 Broadway.
    Detective Munch: Not unless he's one of the nuts lobbying for yet another extension of "Cats". That's the Winter Garden Theatre. [Fin gives Munch a look] Don't ask.
  • Leverage: Played for drama in "The Big Bang Job", where Eliot reveals he used to work for Damien Moreau.
    Eliot: You think you know what I've done? The worst thing I ever did in my entire life, I did for Damien Moreau. And I—I'll never be clean of that.
    Parker: What did you do?
    Eliot: Don't ask me that, Parker. Because if you ask me, I'm gonna tell you. So please, don't ask me.
  • Malcolm in the Middle:
    Doctor: [after Dewey's stomach is pumped] We didn't find any candles, but we did find some marbles. And the waistband to a pair of underpants.
    Dewey: Don't ask.
  • In Monk:
    • In the episode "Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas", Monk's instruction to Natalie when she walks in to see Stottlemeyer singing a karaoke version of "Ain't No Sunshine".
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Captain's Wife," Leland quietly says this to the garbagemen when they discover Monk is throwing away water in a garbage bag.
  • NCIS episode "Silver War":
    [Abby hugs Bert, the stuffed hippo that farts]
    Tony: [to Ziva] Don't ask.
  • The Professionals. Bodie trolls Doyle with this trope in "Hunter/Hunted"
    Bodie: How did you get on last night? [Doyle gives him a Disapproving Look] Well don't ask me, will you? Heh? How I got on last night?
    Doyle: [wearily] How did you get on last night?
    Bodie: Don't ask.
  • The Cat says this to the others in the Red Dwarf episode "Backwards", having just found out what going to the loo in reverse is like.
  • Skins episode "Sid":
    Chris Miles: Last night, man. Cool. Total blast. Everything you could ever want from an evening. Songs, choir girls, colorful costumes, fellatio, rabbits...
    Maxxie: Rabbits?
    Chris Miles: Don't ask, man.
  • So Weird: In "Shelter", after defeating an evil veterinarian that's been turning people into dogs, Fi concocts an antidote to change her victims back. In one scene, shortly after Fi gives the formula to a dog that's already been adopted, a passing mailman stops and stares in bewilderment at the naked girl in the doghouse (unseen to us, of course) before Fi tells him, "Don't ask".
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:

  • "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" by Warren Zevon, third verse:
    I met a girl at the Rainbow Bar
    She asked me if I'd beat her
    She took me back to the Hyatt House....
    I don't wanna talk about it...


    Video Games 
  • Destroy All Humans! 2
    Crypto: This gas is noxious. Smells like Pox's underwear. Don't ask me how I know that.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, one war table mission has the Inquisition assisting the Tevinter magister Maevaris Tilani, who is the widow of Varric's cousin Thorold. Depending on which advisor is used to complete the mission, the magister sends various tokens of gratitude. If Cullen is the one selected, the briefing after the mission ends notes that among her tokens, she sent him "a scented handkerchief. Don't ask."

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • The Blood Gulch Chronicles episode "Have We Met?"
      [snip description of bizarre events involving time travel and a rocket launcher]
      Church: [to yellow Church] Well, what did you do?
      Church: Dude, don't ask. Trust me, it — it didn't work.
    • Said again in Donut: The Musical.
      Donut: [singing] You are in for a surprise when you look into my eyes, you won't be able to deny my ga—ze!
      Sarge: Wait a minute, Donut... Your what?
      Donut: Come on, Sarge! You can't deny my deep, penetrating... eye contact! My gaze! What did you think I said?
      Sarge: Um... Don't ask.
      Donut: Don't tell!


    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic, at the end of his review of Casper It's exactly at the end of the video. As he is exiting from the GMX expo. In a Ghostbuster suit. And he is completely soaked. Don't Ask.

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series: Said in the episode "You Say It's Your Birthday" after Spot says she's going to go pack her things.
    Rolly: What things could a chicken possibly have?
    Lucky: Don't ask.
  • In the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode, "Tails Prevails", Sonic is on his way to rescue Tails from Dr. Robotnik (disguised as Professor Von Schlemmer), and gets into The Professor's lair through the sewer system. When he comes out of the bathroom door, covered in green slime, he says to the viewers, "Don't even ask."
  • In Archer the Italian prime minister is found shot dead in Malory's apartment, which happened during a sex play, that involved him in a full-body latex suit and with a dildo up his ass. Only Archer and Lana gets this story, before the rest of the ISIS staff is called in to depose of the body.
    Ray: Speaking of, why the hell is the Italian Prime Minister here?
    Archer & Lana: Don't ask.
    Malory: Oh God, that reminds me— Kreiger!
    Kreiger: Yeah, I found it.
    Cyril: What?
    Archer & Lana: Don't ask!
    Kreiger: Can I keep it?
    Cheryl: Keep what?
    Archer & Lana: DON'T ASK!
  • In the Danger Mouse episode "Turn of the Tide", D.M. and Penfold are on the Moon trying to find the cause of earth's oceans flooding land masses. They meet Keith, an alien who manages a junk shop there and they find the crater of Copernicus is jammed with wrecked space vehicles:
    D.M.: It's all this mass! There's too much heavy metal!
    Penfold: Yes, too much heavy metal is enough to make anyone go barmy. I'm into electric boogaloo.
    Keith: What's he on about, mate?
    D.M.: Don't ask. Please. Don't ask!
  • Dexter's Laboratory:
    • In "Dexter's Debt", Dexter's Dad asks the mailman about his day. The mailman grumpily says "Don't ask!", and Dad jokes "Too late, I already did!".
    • In "Sister Mom", Dexter and "Mom" (a disguised Dee Dee) attend a conference with the school principal. When the principal's secretary calls them into the office, "Mom" joyously dances around singing "Dexter is in trouble!"; Dex shoots the secretary a sideways glance and says "Don't ask!" in a flat, annoyed tone of voice.
  • Johnny Test: In "Li'l Johnny", Susan and Mary tell Johnny this when he sees that they've somehow become two heads on one body.
  • Recess:
    T.J.: My older brother used to play on Old Rusty.
    Spinelli: My mom used to play on Old Rusty!
    Mikey: Heck, my Uncle Mary used to play on Old Rusty!
    Vince: Your Uncle Mary?
    Gretchen: Don't ask.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars, "Storm Over Ryloth": A bemused Obi-Wan manages to subtly keep Mace from asking what the hell Anakin did to his fleet by saying he won't even ask where the rest of the fleet is or why Anakin is in an escape pod when the invasion fleet Anakin was to clear the way for drops out of hyperspace into the aftermath of a battle which Anakin won, but which cost him almost his entire fleet.
  • One of Santa's reindeer says this in The Story of Santa Claus, when a bird sees them flying and starts flapping in place with a shocked look.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady were thrown into a giant washing machine by two of the Turtles, Michelangelo and Raphael. After escaping, Krang asked where they were.
    Krang: Where the devil have you been?
    Shredder: Don't ask.
  • Transformers: Animated:
    Starscream: So, which part of me did you come from?
    Slipstream: Don't ask.
  • In Young Justice: Invasion, Tye Longshadow question Blue Beetle (Jaime) about he was able to talk to Asami in Japanese.
    Tye: Dude, you speak Japanese?
    Jaime: Scarab translate, don't ask.