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Flat "What"

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"Ok, this is the most common thing I write. I've said it 34 times in my notes. Nothing else. Just that single word, followed by a lack of any punctuation. Not a question or an exclamation, just a statement of utter disbelief."

"What." or "Wut."

A Stock Phrase when it comes to reactions, but a simple one. Although it is just one word, the way in which it is pronounced can speak volumes about how absurd (or mundane) the situation can be, simply by how and where the inflection in a speaker's voice (if any) is used. In written speech, it's supplemented by the punctuation following it. For an example:

  • "What?" Standard reaction when someone notices that someone spoke to him, but didn't hear well what was said. Common in the real world, little used in fiction as it goes against The Law of Conservation of Detail (unless it is used to point out that the character is partially or completely deaf).
  • "What?" Standard reaction, used in everyday speech; slightly rising inflection (clarify what someone said, being asked a favor, etc.)
  • "What?!" Sharper inflection indicating a level of surprise (disturbing news, or something you may need to sit down for, and other things.)
  • "What!?" An accusatory or intimidating statement; "I'm in your face, what are you going to do about it!?", or in defense against accusatory stares if the speaker believes that whatever earned them those glares was normal
  • "WHAT?!" "WHAAAAAT?!?!?!" et al; New levels of absurdity have been hit (Variations on the length of the word and (ab)use of ? and ! as needed); this is the one most often used for comic effect.
None of the above is an example of this trope. That's below.

That's exactly how it's written, too: "what" with a period at the end.

When the speaker recovers, What Were You Thinking? tends to be invoked.

Unless it is being listed as a trope, DO NOT Pothole this trope on other pages. This is a trope for a character's reaction, not a trope for general expressions of confusion.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • One of the best parts of the dubbed Pokémon: The Series episode "Electric Shock Showdown!" was Lt. Surge's Flat What after Pikachu nullifies his Raichu's Thunderbolt by grounding its tail. This is also a remarkably accurate representation of what every fan of the Pokémon games said at that exact moment.
  • Kyon pulls one after Haruhi announces the SOS brigade will be hosting a movie screening at the culture fest in episode 20 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
    • And when Yuki tells him she's an alien. And when Asakura tells him she's going to kill him. He seems pretty fond of this and the Face Palm.
  • Student Council's Discretion has a knocked-out Sugisaki Ken trying to cross the river of Hell to reach his "harem". Ai Enma, who happens to be passing by on her ferry, responds to this bizarre scene with a flat "Oi..." after he passes her.
  • In a chapter of Shin Mazinger Zero, a Mazinger Z spin-off, Kouji and Minerva-X are together inside the cockpit. During the battle Minerva lands on Kouji on a very awkward and embarrassing position. Sayaka, Clingy Jealous Girl and Action Girl who has just arrived and destroyed three Mechanical beasts in a fit of jealous rage, sees him, and they - after displaying tremendously comical Oh, Crap! stares - try to explain it is not what it seems, and Minerva is not human but she actually is a Super Robo created by The Professor Dr. Kabuto to be Mazinger-Z's partner. Sayaka's reaction?
    Sayaka:... What.
  • The Red Ranger Becomes an Adventurer in Another World: Seeing the Maximum Kizuna Kaizer for the first time short-circuits Idola's brain, reducing her to slurred speech as she wonders what the hell is going on. Lampshaded by Tougo, who asks if she's okay because her speech patterns completely changed.
  • In Toradora!, Ami, Kitamura, and Minorin do a flat what after Ryuuji tells them that he and Taiga are going to run away and get married.
  • In Yankee-kun to Megane-chan (Flunk Punk Rumble in the American release), Izumi reacts this way after the student council finds a necklace that claims to grant three wishes... and Chiba immediately suggests wishing that 5th-period PE get cancelled.
  • In the last episode of Ladies versus Butlers!, after Sernia and Tomomi hfe had one of their biggest battles ever over a ticket to the amusement park Try Aqualand for a date with Akiharu (won by Sernia), the guy is so Oblivious to Love that he completely misunderstands their enthusiasm, and gives the other ticket to Tomomi as a "sort of consolation prize". Cue absolutely deadpan Flat What from Tomomi, followed by some verbal abuse from most of the named cast, and topped with an earth-shaking double slap from BOTH Tomomi and Sernia.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: This is Nozomu Itoshiki's standard reaction to whatever Kafuka Fuura's most recent, outlandish explanation was.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: Russia mixes one of these with a creepy, intense stare when Stalin informs him that the White Sea-Baltic Canal he spent a year breaking his back digging is totally useless.
  • Naruto:
  • In Corsair, in the midst of discussing Aura's wish to marry Canale, Ayace decides to bluntly let everyone know that Canale is his lover. While the others' reactions vary from awkwardness to surprise, Aura simply says "...what."
  • Uryuu Minene aka the 9th, a terrorist of some repute, of Future Diary does this when the police officer Nishijima proposes to her while they were on the run from other police officers. He even had a ring.
  • Shinji gives a very amusing one in chapter 612 of Bleach when Soifon gives Yoruichi's little brother, Yushiro, pocket money.
  • Tokyo Ghoul:
    • Kaneki gives one after meeting Dr. Kanou, who reveals that Manager Yoshimura is deeply connected to Aogiri. Namely being the father of its leader.
    • Saiko from :Re gives one after Haise announces that they're all going to become girls.
  • In the Assassination Classroom anime adaptation, Koro-sensei panics and does one when his students, having exploited a loophole in his offer to let them destroy one tentacle for each top score they took in finals, inform him they want to claim their "prizes" while the class is on the island vacation they also won for their top scores. The reason this frightens Koro-sensei senseless? He's severely weak to water, which clogs up his tentacles and slows him down.
  • Accel World: Kuroyukihime has this reaction when Haruyuki tells her that he went through with her suggestion to cable link with his childhood Chiyuri.
  • In chapter 120 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, this is Hayasaka's reaction after Kaguya finally admits that she's in love with Shirogane.
  • In Tokyo Godfathers, after Hana and Miyuki leave baby Kiyoko with Sachiko, they have this reaction when Gin meets up with them later and reveals that Sachiko isn't Kiyoko's mother.
  • Aggretsuko: While Haida and Fenneko are out drinking, Haida gets a text from Retsuko asking if he can teach her how to play guitar. Haida, who had just before announced his intention to give up pursuing Retsuko romantically, is ordered by Fenneko to say "no" to Retsuko. Haida gets fired up and... immediately text Retsuko that he'd loved to help her. The two can only stare at the phone for a moment before Haida gives a short "wat", Fenneko following up with a Dope Slap.

    Comic Books 
  • This is Doctor Nemesis's reaction to an unexpected teleport in the X-Men one-shot Blind Science.
  • A particularly amusing example from The Invisibles. A Mexican god of death tells to a very young Lord Fanny that she has to give her body/soul to a passage to the next level of her ritual to become a witch. She doesn't want to... so she offers the god a joke. A god of death answering with a flat what its just priceless (mostly because a lot of readers were asking themselves the same).
  • The Devil's response when John Constantine nonchalantly comments that the candles made booze out of holy water. The booze the Devil just drank, and the candles that Constantine promptly kicks over.
  • At the end of the first issue of The Sandman: Overture, Morpheus is being summoned somewhere and declares that he is Dream of the Endless and he is prepared for whatever comes next. Then he sees all the different facets of himself from throughout the universe in one giant meeting and goes "What."
  • In one issue, Atomic Robo found himself facing off against yet another rogue Dr. Dinosaur experiment, the Futuresaurus Rex. Robo's 'what' moment came when, after revealing most of its weaponry, the F. Rex coughs up a pair of Mauser pistols and catches them in its tiny hands.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Ultimate Spider-Man:
      • MJ's first reaction to Peter's reveal was to ask "What? What did you just say?"
      • And then Peter fell to it, when MJ mentioned that she just thought he was going to kiss her.
    • The Ultimates:
      • Nick Fury has dispatched a huge army force to an alien factory in Micronesia... and it's empty.
      • Herr Kleiser is preparing to leave the planet, when the technicians inform him that they detected an abnormality of 5 hundred meters radius. A force field, perhaps? Cue the Big Damn Heroes.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: In issue #46, the Scavengers are being arrested by Fortress Maximus, as the Duly Appointed Enforcer of the Tyrest Accord, but the quick-thinking Misfire bluffs Fort Max by claiming that he was a distraction, and that Spinister might just be sneaking up behind Fort Max to whack him with his propeller blades.note  Fort Max instantly turns his blaster on Spinister... who spent the entire exchange looking through a piece of old piping like a telescope and is naturally unaware of why he now has a photon rifle pointed at his face. His only response is this trope.

    Films — Animation 
  • A Goofy Movie: Goofy says this in response to Pete telling him that Max had changed their road map so that they are heading to Los Angeles. Pete also uses this when Goofy says that he doesn't believe him on that.
    Pete: Your kid's dupin' ya.
    Goofy: What do you mean?
    Pete: Well, I heard the little mutant telling PJ that he changed the map so... you're headin' straight to L.A., pal.
    Goofy: What.
    Pete: Oh, you tried, Goof. He's just a bad kid, that's all.
    Goofy: I don't believe you, Pete.
    Pete: What.
    Goofy: I don't believe you.
    Pete: Well, hey, don't take my word for it. Check your map.
  • Disney's Aladdin features a memorable example between Iago and Jafar:
    Iago: To think we gotta keep kissing up to that chump, and his chump daughter for the rest of our lives...
    Jafar: No, Iago. Only until she finds a chump husband. Then she'll have us banished—or beheaded!
    [Both shudder.]
    Iago: Oh! Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Jafar? What if you were the chump husband?
    Jafar: What.
  • Hoodwinked!: Red Puckett delivers one in reaction to seeing Japeth wearing a set of horns that have helicopter blades built into them.
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet: When the Disney Princesses start talking about getting inspiration for an "I Want" Song by staring at a body of water, Vanellope responds with a deadpan "What?"
  • In Shrek the Third, this is Artie's reaction to Shrek's little Freudian Slip that he's "gonna be a father".
  • Strange Magic: The Bog King does this when his princess hostage starts singing about how much she loves him, even though this is the first time they've actually met. She's been love potioned but he doesn't get it until after she's halfway through the song.
  • This is Tigress's reaction in Kung Fu Panda 3 when Po announces that the pandas are ready for battle after training them.
  • Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans have one of these in the climax, when the two Ravens tries finding a way to defeat Hexagon. Eventually...
    2003 Raven: [to her 2013 self] You have to eat me.
    [dramatic pause and close-up on 2013 Raven]
    2013 Raven: ...what?

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 2013 movie adaption of Carrie, when Tommy asks Carrie to the prom, after a moment of stunned silence this is the only reaction she is able to produce.
    Tommy: So you know the prom is next week? I was wondering, if you don't have a date already, maybe you want to go with me?
    Carrie: What.
  • Deadpool: When Francis/Ajax reveals to the the title character that he was lying when he earlier said he could cure Deadpool's disfigurement, this trope is Deadpool's first response.
  • Ender's Game: During the final test, while the team are in a Curb-Stomp Battle, Ender tries a last move. They will shoot the Device directly to the Formic’s planet, to destroy all the Hive Queen’s starships. The reaction of Petra to this is of complete incredulity.
    Petra: What am I aiming for?
    Ender: The planet.
    Petra: What.
  • Equilibrium: The Nethers squad commander, after Preston kills two of his men. With their own shotguns. simultaneously.
  • The Fifth Element: Zorg's response when he learns one of his lackeys failed to take Korben Dallas' spot on the plane.
  • Fight Club:
    • After Jack explains to Marla Singer that Tyler Durden is a separate personality that he's only just been made aware of, she delivers one that manages to be both flat and epic at the same time.
    • Done earlier in the film, by Jack, in response to "I want you to hit me as hard as you can."
  • In Full Metal Jacket, an officious The Neidermeyer type Colonel confronts Pvt. Joker about his peace sign necklace and helmet which reads "Born to Kill".
    Joker: I'm trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir!
    Colonel: What.
  • Somehow, Buster Keaton manages to pull out one in The General (1926), a silent film. His deadpan face is like a physical Flat What.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids - this is Diane's initial reaction when Wayne tells her that his shrinking machine zapped their kids. It becomes a sharper "What?!" as she realizes the implications.
  • The best Flat What in history belongs to Kevin Spacey in L.A. Confidential when Guy Pearce expresses doubts to Jack Vincennes about the Nite Owl case. (The Nite Owl case was the catalyst for Ed's meteoric rise in LAPD command, so Jack is pretty surprised that Ed is questioning how the case was resolved.)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:
    • This is also Gollum's reaction when Sméagol tells him to "Leave now and never come back!"
    • Aragorn does this when Gimli asks him to toss him to the stone bridge leading to the gate of Helm's Deep, claiming that he "cannot jump the distance".
  • In Maleficent, when Aurora first meets the title character.
    Aurora: I know who you are.
    Maleficent: Do you?
    Aurora: You're my Fairy Godmother!
    Maleficent: What.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man 3: Tony Stark is getting his ass kicked by the Big Bad until a superpowered Pepper Potts comes crashing Out of the Inferno and rescues him.
      Stark: (Beat) ...I got nothin'.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): This is Ronan's reaction when Quill interrupts his epic final speech by singing and dancing to "Ooh Child" and then challenging Ronan to a dance-off.
      Ronan: (completely, totally flabbergasted)....what are you doing.
    • Ant-Man: Features two 'tip montages' narrated by Luis, whose mouth moves so fast that the only thing Scott has to say by the end is "...What."
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: A rather more dramatic case from Quill, when Ego reveals he placed a tumor inside Quill's mother's head. It's enough to snap Star-Lord out of what is essentially brainwashing. Made even more awesome by the sudden Dolly Zoom and the change in Quill's eyes, immediately followed by a few blaster shots as his Berserk Button has been pressed.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: Quill's reaction when the High Evolutionary decides to blow up Counter-Earth entirely (and admits to having done this with other civilizations he's created in the past) in response to him bringing up the fact that for all the High Evolutionary's talk about creating a "better" universe, Counter-Earth contains all the same problems seen on regular Earth.
      Quill: Newsflash, Einstein. Better universes generally don't include a bunch of octopuses selling meth to guys with cockroach heads.
      The High Evolutionary: They do not. Which is why, as I've done many times before, I'm going to have to raze it all, and start again.
      Quill: What.
  • Trinity says this to Neo in The Matrix when he says that Morpheus thinks he's something he's not.
  • In National Treasure, Ben responds with this when his dad tells him he doesn't have the Silence Dogood letters.
  • A New Hope: Darth Vader, when the Millennium Falcon appears out of nowhere at the last possible minute and blows up one of the ships flanking his.
  • Elizabeth in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, when Jack uses his vote to make her the Pirate King.
  • In Police Academy, when Lt. Harris is asking who has prior military experience and Mahoney raises his hand:
    Harris: You have had prior military training, Mahoney?
    Mahoney: Yes, sir, but not in this life.
    Harris: What.
    Mahoney: In a previous life, I served with Her Majesty's forces in India.
  • General Bethlehem from The Postman pulls one of these when a village refuses to open its gates to his army. He doesn't take it well.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The first evil-ex "boss battle" is already beyond absurd to everyone present in the scene, from Matthew Patel's crashing-in appearance to Scott surprisingly fending him off in fantastical fashion, but when Patel breaks out into a Bollywood-esque number (with demon hipster chicks) in the middle of the fight, a disbelieving Stacy Pilgrim can only manage a "what."
  • A Serbian Film has a Flat "Where." from Marija, wife of Milos the ex-porn star who's called out from retirement, when Milos admits to her that he's filming a porno in an orphanage, in front of an underaged girl.
  • This is the mall Santa's reaction in SHAZAM! (2019) when Darla in her adult form tells him very earnestly that she's been a very good girl this year.
  • In Spider-Man, this is Norman Osborn's reaction when the Oscorp board of directors informs him they're selling out to their competition, and they also intend to kick him off the board.
    Norman: Costs are down, revenues are up, and our stock has never been higher.
    Henry Balkan: Wonderful news, Norman, wonderful. Matter of fact, it's the reason we're selling the company.
    Norman: What.
  • Toward the end of Super 8 after Joe is speaking with the Alien, and the Alien sets Joe down very nicely and starts to leave Cary delivers an extremely confounded Flat What.
  • There's a fantastic example in Team America: World Police after Spottswoode tells Gary that he will have regained his trust if he performs oral sex on him. It Makes Sense in Context... kinda.
    • Another example comes earlier on, when Gary, in 'disguise' as Ahmed, is sat in a fleeing jeep with some terrorists, who have turned around and started driving towards Gary's teammates:
      Gary: Uh, what are we doing?
      Chechen Leader: This jeep is filled with explosives! We're going to take their lives, and our own!
      Gary: We're, we're gonna what?
  • Three Days of the Condor: Joe Turner drops a few after Joubert shoots CIA Deputy Director Atwood when Turner confronts him in his home.
  • Trainspotting: When Begbie goes picking a fight in a restaurant just for fun and a massive Bar Brawl suddenly erupts, the rest of his fellow drug addicts just stand on the balcony overlooking all this mayhem with this reaction on their faces.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Eddie does this when he hears that Marvin Acme has been murdered.

  • The Fighting Fantasy book, Island of the Lizard King has a route where you bump into one of the Lizard King's hobgoblins guards, who refuse to let you through an overpass without a password. Instead of giving a password (which might result in the guard attacking you if you guessed incorrectly) you can just let out a quizzical "What?". Being as stupid as it looks, the hobgoblin will actually believe "what" is the password, and let you pass without a fight.

  • Attributed to Richard Nixon as the epigraph to the fourth part of Gravity's Rainbow.
  • In The Zigzag Kid, Nono says "What is this" instead of asking, because he's too shocked to "wrinkle his voice at the end to make a question" when he finds out his friend the Con Man is also his grandfather.
  • Harry Dresden occasionally punctuates "what" without a question mark.
  • In The Aeronaut's Windlass, this is the reaction when a character casually mentions that she is speaking to the airship. Note that this and The Dresden Files are by the same author.
  • In Jingo Vetinari is talking with Leonard of Quirm about Leshp, the island that's just come up out of the sea, and Leonard casually mentions he did some sketches there once. After leaving the room, Vetinari thinks for a moment, turns around, goes back into the room and flatly asks Leonard, "You did what?" The island reappears and sinks back into the sea periodically, but at that point Leonard is the only living person who knows anything about it.
  • Threadbare: In The Right to Arm Bears, the reaction by someone who was trying so hard, to fix what Threadbare did by Achievements in Ignorance:
    Melos: ...what.
    My gods. You can't tell me it was that simple.

  • Witch Hunter: This is Tanya's reaction to Tasha being a boy.

  • In the song "WOFF" by Swedish music group Baby Alice, the wolf says this in the chorus when he realizes Little Red Riding Hood wants to be the one to eat him.
  • The Japanese pop duo WaT has nothing to do with this trope. The comments on their YouTube video, however...
  • In The Lonely Island's song "Jack Sparrow'' this is the reaction Andy Samberg gives when Michael Bolton interrupts their Boastful Rap with..this:
    Michael Bolton: [singing] This is the tale of Captain Jack Sparrow! Pirate so brave on the seven seas!
    Andy: What.
  • In Eminem's "Just Lose It", he tells a male chorus to grab their left nuts to make their right ones jealous. They respond, "what".
  • The lyrics to Christina Aguilera's song "Dirrty" ends with one.
  • Taylor Swift:
    • "We are Never Ever Getting Back Together":
      We hadn't seen each other in a month
      When you said you needed space — what
    • "Look What You Made Me Do":
      You ask me for a place to sleep
      Locked me out and threw a feast — what

  • The most famous Pinball example comes from High Speed, just before the player is about to start multiball:
    Car 504: "Dispatch, this is 504. He got away, over."
    Dispatch: "504, this is dispatch. He what."

  • From The Lucky Die D&D podcast:
Rose: "Oh, you're a sculptor, too? What do you sculpt with?
Rhaal: "My tongue."
Rose: "I'm sorry, what?"

    Pro Wrestling 
  • An infamous example stems from a RAW where Michael Cole, after Jerry Lawler was driven through a table by a rampaging Mark Henry, announcing that Lawler had several injuries and, "with all due respect... anal bleeding." Booker T 's expression for a split-second is priceless. It's one part "they actually cleared that line?" Another part, "he actually said that?", yet another part "Who Writes This Crap?!?", and yet another part "Tell me...they didn't just say that." Booker's thrown off so badly in he beginning that he could only utter one word. "What."

  • Delivered by the character Culverton Smith in BBC Radio 4's production of the Sherlock Holmes story, 'The Dying Detective', when he realizes Holmes has been faking a terminal illness the whole time and he's just confessed to a murder. You can hear the character's face collapse, the word is so deftly underplayed by the actor.

  • 'night, Mother: Jessie has announced that she will kill herself that night. Her mother gets increasingly frantic as she tries to talk Jessie out of it, only to sort of collapse into despair. Jessie says she knows Mama liked the preacher who did Jessie's father's funeral, so Mama can get the same one to do Jessie's. Mama's answer?
    Mama: (Not an answer, just a word) What.

    Video Games 
  • The real time strategy game Age of Mythology features several flat whats.
  • In the Fallout: New Vegas Old World Blues expansion, this is Dr. 0's reaction to the Courier's suggestion that he could get people to say his name properly if he simply put a line through to differentiate between an O and a 0. Considering these guys are here precisely because they were selected as the greatest minds of their time, how none of them ever thought of this is actually quite mind-bogging, as is the fact that the Player Character requires an intelligence score of 9, (one below from the maximum) to point this out themselves.
  • The Second Life griefing group "W-Hat" takes its name from a Something Awful emoticon containing a W immediately followed by a hat, used in much the same way as the Flat What.
  • In Recettear, a very flat "What." is spouted by Tear in a pub conversation where a very drunk Charme says, unflinchingly, that she became a thief out of necessity, but eventually grew to like the whole "being a murderous thug" thing..
  • In Touhou Hisouten ~ Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, Alice pulls one after being defeated by Remilia in the latter's story.
    Remilia Scarlet: To make rain fall, you... control dolls...
    Alice Margatroid: What.
    Remilia Scarlet: Hey, Sakuya, that makes no sense! Bring up the next!
  • In the Boss Rush of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, this is most possible characters' reaction to Ultros.
  • A very flat what appears in the intro to WCW/nWo: Revenge, when a truck driver notices that Sting has lit a bunch of barrels on fire in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. Dodgy voice acting may be to blame.
  • This is Qualstio's reaction to seeing Tatzylvurm in The Reconstruction.
  • Raz of Psychonauts gives a perfect one of these when the true identity of The Phantom is revealed. Rightfully so, because it's Jasper. How can all that fat fit into that cloak?
  • Nick from Lollipop Chainsaw is full of these.
  • Upon waking up for the first time as a zombie in Kingdom of Loathing as part of the special challenge path Zombie Master, and seeing your gravestone, this is your response.
  • One of the post-battle skits in Tales of Graces has this.
    Asbel: Sometimes, I can't help but regret the past.
    Cheria: Asbel...
    Asbel: Why didn't I push hard for a raise in my allowance?!
    Cheria and Hubert: What.
  • Raiden gives off a couple in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, after Starlow finally runs out of quips regarding the Massif Bros.' bizarre obsession with beef.
    Big Massif: BEEF!
    Lil' Massif: FOR!
    Big Massif: TWO!
    Both Massif Bros.: BEEF STEW!
    Starlow: What.
  • In the most recent Disgaea Dimension 2, Laharl has one of these after Sicily, the angel who came to take over his Overlordship, reveals herself to be his little sister.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, this and Big "WHAT?!" tends to be Alistair's standard reaction to the Warden's eccentric hiring policy for new companions, especially in the case of an assassin who had only moments before tried to murder them all.
    • Morrigan delivers one when Flemeth reveals she's sending her with the Warden's party. Subverted later, when it's revealed this was actually their plan all along.
  • As per her role as one of the Only Sane Men of BlazBlue, Makoto has uttered this trope a few times. The most notorious involved the absurdity of the casting in her gag reel (one of which was silenced by Ragna of all people), but she has done it in canon - namely, after heading off with Noel to get some food after first contact with Kagura.
    Makoto: I can't believe that guy.
    Noel: Makoto... I think Kagura... might be a good person.
    Makoto: *exasperated* What the hell. You are one cheap date.
  • In Five Nights at Fuckboy's 3, this is Springtrap's reaction to particularly bizarre events (i.e. being transported into Atari Land, or watching two animatronics have sex).
  • In Borderlands The Presequel, this is Wilhelm's reaction to Lilith's explanation to why she and Roland aren't up to helping, initially.
    Roland: We're out of the vault hunting business.
    Lilith: Too many tentacles.
    Wilhelm: What.
    • Similarly, twice in Borderlands 2:
      Roland: We thought Jack was going to open a vault and use it to wipe us off Pandora, but thanks to some intel I stole from a Hyperion convoy, I found out we were wrong.
      Lilith: What.
      Roland: He's not going to open a vault. He's going to control it.
      Lilith: I'll just go ahead and repeat myself: what.
    • And from Maya's lost ECHO recordings:
      Angel: You'll definitely want to hear this. She's a siren.
      Jack: What.
  • In Undertale, this is Undyne's reaction when you try to hit her after she challenges you to a final duel to restore her pride during a Pacifist Run. You can choose to fake a hit, but even if you don't, you will be incapable of summoning enough intent to harm her to deal more than 1 HP of damage. Undyne, upon realizing this, is reminded of someone else equally innocent (most likely Asriel) and decides that she can't bring herself to hurt you either.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess proves that this reaction can even come from a Silent Protagonist like Link. After smashing the Spider boss Armogohma three times with the Dominion Rod, the creature finally convulses and dies, bursting into smoke. Link gives a triumphant flourish of the Master Sword, only to gape in disbelief when the smoke clears to reveal the boss's true form: a comparatively tiny and entirely non-threatening spider.
  • Yagami from Judgment has a pretty flat "What...?" in response to learning that Kuroiwa is the Mole.
  • Saints Row: The Third: In "Return to Steelport", this is Pierce's response to the Boss's commentary on the Deckers' "neo-cyperpunk" fashion.
    Pierce: What the hell these guys wearin'?
    The Boss (Female Voice 1): Looks like the Bleak Line from Christoph Valkerie.
    Pierce: What.
    The Boss: You found the Fed yet?
  • Henry Stickmin Series: In "Fleeing the Complex", if Henry and Ellie try to "Distract" the guards in the Boost Up route, Henry does a dance that works a little too well. The scene ends with Henry, the guards, and Ellie all dancing, leaving the narrator utterly confused.
    I... wh... I just... Whaat.
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, Franklin has an excellent one in this classic scene.
  • In Friday Night Funkin': ENTITY, this is A.G.O.T.I.'s reaction upon learning that the main antagonist duo, Daddy Dearest and Mommy Mearest, sent their own daughter to imprisonment in the Void.
    Solazar: ...was she by chance wearing a red dress?
    Agoti: Come to think of it, yeah?
    Solazar: So the dearest’s daughter was there with you?!
    Agoti: Their what.
  • Fate/Grand Order: During Wu Zetian's second interlude quest, in an attempt to improve herself, Wu seeks out Cleopatra, whom decides to help the empress out with her new training program. Said training program consists of Wu matching the poses of whomever appears on screen..... which happens to just be several images of Cleo herself. Wu goes through about four text boxes of Visible Silence before finally dropping a "Wat" in response.
    • Played for Drama with Tam Lin Lancelot/Mélusine. Although she knows her mistress is a narcissistic monster, when Aurora asks her to take them both outside of the collapsing ruin of Faerie Britain and leave all the rest of its inhabitants to their horrible deaths, Mélusine's first response is a thoroughly despairing version of this with unusually Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises.

    Visual Novels 
  • The tsundere AI, *Mute, from Analogue: A Hate Story fires of a bunch of these over the course of the game.
  • From Katawa Shoujo:
    Kenji: That blind broad is up to no good; I can feel it in my spleen, man. Her presence is like a dark shadow that's in the way of my great vision. As expected of blind people.
    Hisao: What.
    • And again in Lilly's route:
      Kenji: I've confirmed that Lilly is in the Mafia.
      Hisao: What.
    • Come to think of it, just about any interaction with Kenji tends to have this effect on Hisao, even if it isn't always played straight in the actual dialogue.
  • Junpei utters one in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors after Santa tells him he hates the number 4 for being a "half-ass number".
    • In the sequel Virtue's Last Reward, Sigma lets one out upon discovering the body of the old woman in his and Phi's AB room. It quickly becomes a Big "WHAT?!".
  • In SC2VN, this is Mach's response to being tricked into a bet match with a high schooler.
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, this is Akira's reaction when Kaoru asks him, seemingly out of the blue, to take his clothes off. She wanted to ink a protective incantation on him but didn't bother explaining that beforehand.

    Web Animation 
  • In Charlie the Unicorn 2, Charlie reacts this way when he and his two... um... friends encounter a giant letter Z.
    Blue: ¡El hombre con el sombrero nos envió!
    Pink: ¡Él nos cuenta muchas historias asombrosas!
    Z: (makes pinging noises)
    Blue and Pink: Hohohoho!
    Charlie: ...what.
  • In Red vs. Blue, at the start of Season 10 Church finds out that while he's been in the Memory Unit (Which makes up most of Season 9's plot), Washington has replaced him fully. His reaction is hilarious:
    Caboose: We sort of call the new guy Church, y'know, sometimes.
    Church: What.
  • In the CBoyardee animation Dilbert 3, Alice delivers one in response to a murderous Dilbert's "ranch or cool ranch" Doritos trick questions before she is promptly shot after answering "ranch".
  • Sonic in Jaws:
    Conker: Nice hairdo.
    Sonic: What.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • The Expiration Date short has Engineer switch from happy to terrifyingly angry with just this trope after hearing that Soldier teleported bread. For context, all of the mercenaries thought they were filled with tumors because of their frequent use of the teleporter, only to later find out that they're going to live because they got the tumor theory from using bread as a test subject, and later found out that what happened to the bread was unique to the bread only, and that the more the bread got teleported, the more monstrous it became, meaning what Soldier did made their situation a lot worse.
      Engineer: So we're fine... As long as nobody teleports any bread.
      Soldier: Question.
      Engineer: What's your question, Soldier?
      Soldier: I teleported bread.
      Engineer: You what?
    • Some videos use the Spy as a Straight Man and chop the "What" from his response lines into a short statement of incredulous disbelief. Showcased nicely by this Team Service Announcement.
  • At the end of the Bee and Puppycat episode "Beach", Cardamon is attempting to unclog Bee's toilet. An assumed hour later, we see him fishing out a can of food lodged in the toilet. When it's out, he simply says:
    Cardamon: Why.
  • The Strong Bad Email "sisters" has Strong Bad's malfunctioning computer accidentally deleting an email from a girl named Ali and her sister. He receives another email and thinks it's from Ali, only discovering it to be nonsensical gibberish.
    Strong Bad: Whaaat... You're not Ali. You're not even literate!
  • Elements of Cringe: Celestia has a deadpan 'what' reaction to Flame Majesty's demands that she turn him and his brony friends into their OCs. Considering this is one of their main motives for capturing The Elements of Harmony and launching an unprovoked invasion, it's understandable.
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device: This is Rogal Dorn's reaction to the Emperor's and Magnus's rant on the Inquisition and their habit of rewriting history during the 3rd podcast:
    Emperor: He goes on to claim Iquisitors are seekers of truth. Which is true. Except when it's not. Which is always.
    Magnus: They may seek the truth, but when they've found the truth they tend to cover up the truth with heresy-blankets and then pretend like the truth is the not-truth.
    Dorn: ...what.
    Magnus: Truth.

    Western Animation 
  • From Animaniacs episode "The Ballad of Magellan":
    Yakko: They sailed due west to the Philippine Islands / Magellan was pleased as the natives drew near /But then someone shouted
    Warners: I think they're attacking.
    Yakko: Magellan said
    Magellan: What.
    Yakko: And got hit by a spear
  • The Simpsons: Lisa Simpson often says this after witnessing the antics of her family, neighbors, etc. Notably, the episode "Bart's Inner Child" and motivational speaker Brad Goodman:
    Brad Goodman: Young man, what made you yell out that remark?
    Bart: I dunno...
    Brad Goodman: You just wanted to... express yourself, yes?
    Bart: I do what I feel like.
    Brad Goodman: Why, that's marvelous! 'I do what I feel like'. Ladies and gentlemen... this little boy here is the inner child that I've been talking about.
    (cut to Lisa, who is wearing an expression of Tranquil Fury.)
    Lisa: What.
  • South Park:
    • Cartman gives one in "T.M.I." when he finds out that the school actually didn't post the boys' penis sizes.
    • Cartman also does it in "Crack Baby Athletic Association" when Kyle proposes using 30% of the company's profits to build an orphanage for the crack babies.
    • In the later seasons, the boys' Functional Genre Savvy (especially Stan) has reduced many of their reactions (to ever-increasingly improbable events) to "what." Sometimes they upgrade it to a deadpan "Dude, what the fuck."
  • In the second season première of The Venture Brothers, this is the reaction of The Monarch to escaping from prison through the sewers, grasping the arm of what he believes to be one of his henchmen, and finding that it is instead the arm of Doctor Venture (and that the rest of the doctor is elsewhere, due to a teleportation accident.)
  • Teen Titans (2003)
    • The episode "Troq". Cyborg and Starfire (well, Cyborg's doing the talking) inform Robin that "Troq" is a very offensive anti-Tamaranian slur (they had been assuming it was just a nickname, as they had all been given one). His Flat What is one of the few times it's not intended to be funny.
    • Robin also gets a Flat What of the second variety in "Apprentice, Part One", as Slade is revealing his We Can Rule Together ploy. Like the first example, it's not very funny.
    • In "Every Dog Has Its Day," when the Titans decide that what they really need to catch the alien dog-thing they're chasing (which has been constantly jumping on Raven and enthusiastically licking her every time it sees her) is "some bait". Raven gives the flattest "...what." you will EVER hear.
      • A few moments earlier, everyone thought the alien-dog was Beast Boy with Power Incontinence. Then it burps up a car bumper.
        Cyborg: ...Oookay.
  • In The Batman's fourth season premiere, "The Batman/Superman Story", Lex Luthor can only manage a strained "Whaaat" when it becomes clear his plans have been foiled and Superman is hovering just outside of his Humongous Mecha.
  • Kim Possible does this occasionally, such as when she finds out Monique is a huge wrestling fan.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the gang is talking about some strange creature, and Aang simply gives a perfect flat "What."
    • After Combustion Man blows up their campsite and starts a five-minute Full-Contact Magic brawl, Toph Beifong has just one thing to say:
      "Well, that was random."
  • Beavis and Butt-Head: This trope is Butt-Head's immediate reaction to the music video for "Real American" by Rick Derringer (Hulk Hogan's WWE theme song), but once the video transitions from Hulk playing bass in front of the U.S. flag to clips of him in WWF matches, he and Beavis get excited.
  • In a "Dial M for Monkey' cartoon on Dexter's Laboratory, the Justice Friends say this after Rasslor's big melodramatic speech.
  • In Total Drama Noah gives out one of these after watching the Japanese Total Drama Action promo.
  • Futurama: Bender delivers this after being asked, "Have you any idea how it feels to be a fembot living in a manbot's manputer's world?"
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998) give a flat "say what?" in "Him Diddle Riddle" when they find that they have gone through white heat solving Him's riddles only to fail the last one, and now the Professor will pay... full price for a pancake breakfast. Even the narrator can't finish his "once again the day is saved" bit.
  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears pulled one or two. Gusto Gummi had carved a wooden statue of a Gummi Bear that artistically parodied the Statue of Liberty, then it promptly got devoured by a super termite. Cue "What."
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Spike, who really should be used to this sort of thing by now, gets one in the episode "Fall Weather Friends" when Pinkie Pie goes off on a tangent about how grudge rhymes with fudge while the two are announcing for a race.
    • Lyra, upon learning in "Slice of Life" that her best friend Bon Bon is actually Sweetie Drops, a secret agent of a monster hunting agent gone undercover by Celestia's orders after a bugbear they sent to Tartarus escaped could only respond with a series of these.
    • In "Scare Master", Fluttershy manages to induce one from Pinkie Pie of all characters during her first attempt to scare her friends.
      Fluttershy: Pinkie Pie, look to your left and ask your best friend to pass the cucumber sandwiches.
      Pinkie Pie: Huh? I-I can't. There's nopony there.
      Fluttershy: That's right! Because she didn't care to show uuuuuup!
      Pinkie Pie: What.
    • Pinkie's sister Maud has this reaction when she learns that Pinkie gave up her party cannon to buy her a present. Surprisingly enough, it's not played for laughs.
    • Princess Celestia gives a terrifying icy rendition of this in "A Royal Problem" after Starlight switches her and Princess Luna's cutie marks and very nervously explains that she can't switch them back till the spell wears off.
  • On Daria, when she reads from Trent's journal of song lyrics.
    Daria: "My heart is like an open wound/That reads the tea leaves of its doom." What. "Soothe me with redemption's love/Like a heat-proof kitchen glove." God, I hope this is a first draft.
  • Adventure Time: In "It Came From the Nightosphere", Marceline drops this after Finn says a suggestive line about confronting her demonic father.
    Finn: I'm gonna take him down!
    Marceline: Finn, you're like an ant to him.
    Finn: Oh yeah? Well, this ant's about to get in his pants.
    Marceline: (raises a quizzical eyebrow) What.
    Finn: (blushes) Well--I-you know! Because I'm going to make him uncomfortable while I release those souls!
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "A Real Boy", Vanessa has this reaction when her father mistakenly says that he wishes he had a son instead of a daughter:
    Dr. Doofenshmirtz: What? You're wearing headphones? So you haven't heard a thing I've said all day...
    Vanessa: Why do you think I wear the headphones?
    Dr. Doofenshmirtz: So you're not mad at me for saying I'd rather have a son than a daughter like you?
    Vanessa: What.
    Dr. Doofenshmirtz: Oh, nothing, nothing! Just... (puts the headphones back in Vanessa's ears) put these back on... there you go. (leaves)
    Vanessa: Whatever.
  • Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy: Princess Peach when Mario asks her if he can have a kiss after he rescues her.
  • Used frequently on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack:
    • During the card game in "Kid Nickels":
      Cap'n K'nuckles: Flapjack! What'd I tell you about using yer eyeballs?
      Flapjack: What.
    • From "Fish Heads"
      Cap'n K'nuckles: I aint' bustin' my back for no barber's nickel!
      Flapjack: What.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Duck! Rabbit, Duck!", after Daffy Duck quips "I guess I'm the goat," Bugs holds up a sign reading "GOAT SEASON OPEN", and Daffy delivers this kind of "What" right before getting shot by Elmer Fudd.
  • Steven Universe: In "Super Watermelon Island", Peridot reacts with one of these while Steven and the rest of the Crystal Gems are discussing the consequences of some rather strange events she didn't witness (including a fusion and one rather unusual incident involving watermelons).
  • A variation of this is one of Darkwing Duck's catchphrases whenever something weird and/or stupid happens.
  • In the season 1 finale of DuckTales (2017), Magica DeSpell has weaseled her way into Scrooge's grounds in the guise of her niece, and spends most of the walk up to Scrooge's front door loudly boasting of the awesome final conflict brewing between herself, unfathomably powerful sorceress of the shadows, and Scrooge McDuck, world's greatest adventurer, arch-nemesis and heroic figure of legend. Unfortunately, Magica is not aware that owing to a separate familial argument in the previous episode, Scrooge has been abandoned by his family, and subsequently is not in the best frame of mind for a battle:
    Magica: At last, a vanquishing for the ages. A final clash between the Sorceress of the Shadows, and the world's greatest adventurer, Scrooge McDu
    [Scrooge opens the door. Obviously deeply depressed, he is slovenly, gazing listlessly around and wearing nothing but a stained under-shirt. He scratches himself obliviously.]
    Magica: Wait, what.
  • A crossover between He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) and She-Ra: Princess of Power has Hordak explaining to Skeletor that the latter was involved in an incident involving the kidnapping of a baby (which he does not recall), that the baby is a traitor, and that the baby was a princess. All without much in the way of preamble or context. Skeletor's baffled reaction is understandable, perhaps due to the worrying emphasis on 'baby' from Hordak. And yes, for someone as prone to overacting as Skeletor, that is a flat response.
  • Azakai gives one in Dragamonz after Dax tells Gorgor that he isn't evil when the latter tries to slam him into the ground.

Say "what" again! Say! "what"! again! I dare you! I double-dare you, motherfucker! Say "what" one more goddamn time!

Alternative Title(s): Small What


Avian Museum Aftermath

Carol Tea delivers an appropriate reaction after Aaa falls asleep upon ranting about the destruction of his robot buddy.

How well does it match the trope?

4.79 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / FlatWhat

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