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I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

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Heavy: Doctor! Are you sure this will work?!
Medic: [confidently] Ahaha! I have no idea!
Team Fortress 2, "Meet the Medic"

Stock Phrases used when someone is about to, is doing, or has done something important/dangerous/dramatic/all of the above.

Phrases include:

May be related to Indy Ploy. See also How Did You Know? I Didn't.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Integration: Princess Twilight repeatedly states that she has absolutely no idea what she's doing with how she's raising the filly version of Starlight Glimmer and it scares her to think of what will happen if she does something wrong.
  • Parodied in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series when the show makes fun of one of 4kids infamous moronic dub changes. While trapped in the virtual world, Tea runs down a particular trail and backs up her choice with "women's intuition". For some goddamn reason, 4kids removed this, so the Abridged Series makes fun of the resulting plot hole.
    Tea: [while running] I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING!

    Films — Animation 
  • Antz: Z, the main character, actually provided one of the stock quotes; when the workers (plus Weaver) are building a ladder to escape the flooding of the colony, Bala leaves to help her mom on the ladder. Z responds to her obvious fear of the situation by reassuring her "Don't worry; I know almost EXACTLY what I'm doing." Slightly hurts his case with a quick uncertain glance to the side but it ends up working anyway.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: When Spike questions how Twilight Sparkle plans to become Princess of the Fall Formal, Twilight "enthusiastically" says, "I have no idea!"
  • In The Rescuers Down Under, poor Bernard — trying to save the day on his own — mutters, "I hope I know what I'm doing..." as he runs into danger.
  • The titular character of Mulan admits to Mushu, while working to defeat the invasion of the Imperial City, that "I'm making this up as I go." (With a pitch change on the final word, as she comes up with an idea.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ladybug and Lemon attempting to stop the Bullet Train.
    Ladybug: Hey, so far so good. You can stop the train.
    Lemon: Uh, about that. I took the velocity of the train and divided it by the mass, and I learned that I don't know how to FUCKIN' DRIVE a bullet train!
  • Gone with the Wind: "I don't know nothing 'bout birthin' no babies!"
  • In Good Company: It's Carter Duryea's first day on the job as head of the Ad Sales department. He's only 26 years old.
    Carter Duryea: I have no idea what I'm doing. Don't tell anyone, okay?
  • Indiana Jones: Indy's Stock Phrase is "I'm making this up as I go!"
  • From The Hunt for Red October:
    Mancuso: How did you know that his next turn would be to starboard?
    Ryan: I didn't. I had a 50/50 chance. I needed a break. Sorry.
    Mancuso: That's all right, Mr. Ryan. My Morse is so rusty, I could be sending him dimensions on Playmate of the Month.
  • From The Empire Strikes Back: Han Solo flies into a huge asteroid to evade the Imperial fleet.
    Princess Leia: [to Solo] I hope you know what you're doing.
    Han Solo: Yeah, me too.
  • In Panic Room, Meg has a brainwave that they might be able to jury-rig her mobile phone (which has no signal) into the house's main phone line. When her daughter asks what she's doing, Meg says she has no idea. She manages to make it work (temporarily) because the different phone wires follow the same colour code.
  • Zig-zag in Monty Python and the Holy Grail after King Arthur tricks the keeper of the Bridge of Death:
    Keeper: What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
    Arthur: What do you mean? An African or European swallow?
    Keeper: Uh... I don't know that! (gets hurled into the gorge)
    Bedevere: How do you know so much about swallows?
    Arthur: Well, you have to know these things when you're a king, y'know.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Peter Quill has 12% of a plan.
  • Kirk says this to Spock in Star Trek Into Darkness during their battle with the Vengeance, when he's forced to admit that he's not truly ready for command.
    Kirk: I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I only know what I can do. The Enterprise and her crew need someone in that chair who knows what he doing, and that's not me. It's you, Spock.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Sonic explains his strategy as he leads the attack on Robotnik's gigantic mecha:
    Sonic: Step 1: Light taunting. Step 2: I have no idea.

  • Corwin in the first novel of The Chronicles of Amber finally admits to his brother Random (probably his only sibling he could trust in this way) that he doesn't know what's going on and has been bluffing his way through most of the novel.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden admits as much twice during the series, during Turn Coat and Cold Days. Interestingly enough, it's used for a specific purpose - to convince two people that he's the good guy, because if he were the bad guy they know he couldn't come up with a plan this complex and smooth. This does not stop the first incidence from being funny, or the second from being a massive Oh, Crap! for the other person.
  • Judge Dee: The judge claims his henchman Ma Jong is a connoisseur of fine china when dealing with an antiquarian. The shopkeeper enthusiastically presents an old vase for inspection. Poor Ma Jong, whose only interest in pottery is the liquid it holds, makes such a horrified face the shopkeeper apologizes, saying he suspected it was a fake, but didn't think it was that obvious to an expert.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Burn Notice episode "Friends and Enemies"
    Michael Westen: I have a loaded machine pistol in my hand and I have no idea what I'm doing!
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • Episode "Danger! Death Ray"
      Tom Servo: I have no idea what I'm doing, but I've seen this all on the James Bond movies, so...
    • Also in Junior Rodeo Daredevils:
      Joel: I don't really know what I'm doing!
  • The Doctor says this several times, in both new and classic Doctor Who.
    The 4th Doctor: I'm a very dangerous fellow when I don't know what I'm doing.
  • On an episode of The Drew Carey Show, a bag of what appears to be cocaine is found in a Winfred-Lauder restroom. A security employee tastes it and says, "Interesting...I have no idea what cocaine tastes like."
  • In Merlin, when Arthur tells Merlin that they can smear themselves with Gaia berries to avoid getting eaten by huge monsters. Afterwards:
    Arthur: Gaia berries worked. Huh.
    Merlin: You didn't know if they worked?
    Arthur: Not for sure.
  • An episode of Spin City has Paul (who's usually portrayed as an idiot) going on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and winning big. When Regis Philbin asks how he keeps getting the right answers to questions, Paul gets a jubilant, I-can't-believe-it-either look on his face and replies, "I'm guessing!"
  • Joey says this to Chandler on Friends as they have a conversation while Joey attempts to unlock a sealed door, adding, "For all I know, I'm locking it more."
  • Stargate Atlantis: Teyla goes into labor on an enemy ship with only McKay around. McKay starts doing Lamaze breathing (very poorly), causing Teyla to snap, "What are you doing?" Rodney admits, for possibly the first time ever, "I have no idea what I'm doing. What do you need me to do?"
  • An episode of Night Court has Judge Harry Stone make a Shout-Out to the Gone with the Wind example above.
  • The Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation episode "King Wick" has Wick state that he has no idea what he's doing when the Dragon Lord orders him to create a potion to restore his powers.

  • The first track on A Liturgy, a Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band by the late Rich Mullins opens with a member of the Ragamuffin Band admitting he's completely unprepared to perform.

    Video Games 
  • In Completing the Mission from the Henry Stickmin Series, Charles says this verbatim when he tries and fails to hack the Toppat base door open.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Farah asks The Prince, "Do you have any idea what you're doing?" as the player navigates The Prince through a series of gymnastic hurdles; and he responds, "I'm just working it out as I go!"
  • Persona 3: The main character, after defeating a boss on a runaway bullet train, successfully stops the train by pressing the right button. Upon questioned how he did it, the player can pick between two answers: "I trusted my instincts" or "It was a lucky guess." The right answer is instincts. It all ties in with the Tarot Motifs.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In the original game, if you use paragon to persuade Jeong to save the colonists, you can later admit to Ashley that you had no clue what you were doing. If you're a male Shepard, you get this exchange:
      Shepard: I just pretend I have my head up my ass and don't care about anything except money.
      Ashley: That would be a waste of a perfectly fine ass... sir.
    • Justicar Samara has many talents, but art criticism is apparently not one of them.
    • In the Omega DLC for Mass Effect 3, Aria uses her biotic powers to open a gap in a forcefield for Shepard to escape the trap they were caught in.
      Nyreen: Spirits, Aria. How did you know you could do that?
      Aria: I didn't.
  • Team Fortress 2: In the "Meet the Medic" video, the Medic is doing a test run on the ÜberCharge with Heavy for the first time. The Heavy cautiously asks the Medic if he's sure it will work, to which the Medic enthusiastically replies, "I have no idea!"
  • Fallout: New Vegas: This line is used if you attempt to operate on Caesar's brain tumor without the necessary Medicine skill, but with 9 or 10 luck.
    Vulpes Inculta: That was incredible! How did you do that?
    The Courier: I... Have absolutely no idea.
  • One of the achievements with the Overkill Pack for PAYDAY 2 is called "I Have No Idea What I'm Doing." It requires completing the Shadow Raid heist in stealth while packing the Vulcan Minigun and HRL-7 rocket launcher, meaning you brought the worst possible equipment for a mission where stealth is the only option.
  • Played for Drama in God of War (PS4), where after the death of his second wife, Kratos is suddenly thrust into a position he admits he is not ready yet to return to: having to be a father figure again. He struggles with putting his hugely traumatic past behind him despite it being centuries ago and he is terrified of messing things up with Atreus that he really doesn't know how to act or what to do now that he and Atreus are forced to deal with each other. It certainly doesn't help that Kratos kept himself distant from Atreus for most of his childhood due to his own insecurities. Faye was previously the mediator between father and son, but with her gone now, Kratos is left grasping at straws.
    Kratos: Faye... What do I do? Our son is not ready to carry your ashes to the top of the mountain... and neither am I. I do not know how to do this without you.

    Visual Novels 
  • Double Homework:
    • Discussed with Ms. Walsh and her lessons. Some students imply that she doesnít teach her class anything because she canít.
      Morgan: Youíre retarded, this class is retarded, this school is retarded!
    • When the class escapes from Barbarossa, Lauren, Morgan, and Amy havenít ever been on skis before. This is most pronounced with Morgan, who is the odd one out when the weak skiers pair up with stronger ones (the protagonist helps Johanna, Tamara helps Lauren, and Rachel helps Amy). The protagonist takes note of her bad posture, and privately thinks that sheíll be lucky to escape in one piece. Sure enough, she gets a broken ankle on the way down.
    • Turns out to be exploited by Uncle Tommy in Morganís epilogue when he tells the protagonist to play drums in his last hurrah concert. That he has never played drums (or anything else, for that matter) doesnít faze Uncle Tommy; in fact, Uncle Tommy is trying to recreate the amateurish sound that always characterized his band.
  • The protagonist of Melody has a couple of these:
    • Zigzagged with his lessons with Melody. He clearly plans out his lessons and general curriculum, but his lack of experience is one thing that trips him up.
    • Also shows up when he recasts himself as Melodyís manager. Even though he has no experience in this role, he wants to be the one booking the shows and choosing Melodyís band mates. However, his search for band members goes so badly that he is about to swallow his pride and ask Hank for help before he gets a lucky break.

  • In Gnoph, when Will's heart stops, Lyss quickly performs first aid. When she succeeds in resuscitating him, she seems astonished.
    Lyss: That WORKED?!? That's one to add to the database!
  • A two-person variant in 8-Bit Theater:
    Thief: Red Mage, do you have any idea what you're doing?
    Red Mage: Why should THAT stop me?
  • A variant inflicted by someone else in MegaTokyo, when Largo retrofits a gaming store as a LARP maze, complete with computer-controlled cardboard hazards... then reluctantly abandons it to teach an English class. His boss, attempting to retain the resulting sales that ensue from the retrofit, quotes the trope in panic.
    Piro: Boss-san, I'm so sorry! I'll clean this up as soon as I—
    Boss: Wait, I think I'm getting the hang of—
    [box marked "PWNZD" falls on Piro's head]
    Piro: ...Find Largo and PK him.
  • The Order of the Stick: Blackwing admits it when about to read a magical scroll. But he puts this in the "good news" category, since indeed the Magic Misfire resulting from his haphazard reading is way more useful to the current situation than the actual spell on the scroll.
  • Sam & Fuzzy has Fuzzy discover that Sam and Nicole are romantically involved but trying to keep it a secret. After Nicole bribes him to keep quiet but forces him to sign an NDA (which ends a killer droid after him if he tries to break it), Fuzzy resorts to trying to use semaphore (flag signals) to gossip with.
    Blank: I didn't think Jackson would know semaphore.
    Fuzzy: Hell, I didn't think I knew semaphore!
  • Penny Arcade has a Running Gag where Tycho plays the host of a late-night talk show, and in one of the earliest ones, Gabe is the band leader.
    Gabe: [holding an electric bass] Yeah, I don't even know what this thing is called!

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes:
    • "The Unmentionables": As Bugs operates the controls of a cereal factory, he quips, "The way I work this thing, you think I'd know something about it."
    • In "Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur", Daffy paints a perfect replica of himself on a wall, after which he says, "Not bad for a guy who never took an art lesson in his life."
  • In a Justice League Unlimited episode, Flash (who can't normally fly) tells Fire, who is carrying him through the air, to drop him and help Hawkgirl. It does make an impression on Fire (whom he is trying to woo) but when she leaves, he quips: "I hope I come up with something before I hit the ground..." He does.
    • In another episode, most of the League leaps out of their spaceship to deal with a problem, telling Flash to take the controls. He does, then mutters to himself that nobody asked if he even knows how to fly the ship.
  • Teen Titans (2003): Mumbo says this when he uses Starfire for the Saw a Woman in Half trope.
    Mumbo: It's only fair to warn you... I have no idea what I'm doing.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: one of Kowalski's catchphrases.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, the Sea Captain promises Homer that a raft is the "yarrest river-goin' boat thar be". It promptly sinks, forcing him admit, "Yarr, I don't know what I'm doin'."
  • In one episode of Archer, most of the ISIS employees go on strike. So Lana and Archer are in one of the labs, discussing their plans, when Lana asks Archer to bring up the map of the place they're infiltrating. After a few failed attempts, Lana sarcastically asks Archer if he's just hitting random buttons, to which Archer replies, "Obviously!"
    • This is a running gag in the series, with Archer never bothering to do any prep work for the mission or read any of the intel and just blunders blindly through everything, relying on luck and natural ability to save him.
  • Happens twice in Xiaolin Showdown, both times with Omi.
    • The first time is when the Shen Gong Wu hunt begins; Omi yells, "Follow me, to victory!" And runs off. "...I have no idea where I'm going."
    • The second is after Omi goes back in time to retrieve a MacGuffin from Grand Master Dashi. "Now, I must return to the future!" Pause. "Which I have no idea how to do."
  • In one episode of Beetlejuice, BJ does a swan dive off a diving board which is several thousand feet high, into a glass of water on the ground. But before he does, he makes sure to warn the kids watching at home not to imitate him.
    BJ: Remember, folks, Don't Try This at Home, because I have no idea what I'm doing!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
  • Sheep in the Big City has a moment in the pilot where General Specific's sheep tracker has broken down, and the repairman, who is basically just Scotty rabbles a bunch of Techno Babble about why he cant fix it.
    General Specific: [beat] You dont know what you're doing, do you?
    "Scotty": ...No.
  • Justice League Action: In "Unleashed", Plastic Man says, "I have no idea how I'm doing this!" as he shapes his arms into working blow dryers.
  • Rick and Morty: Near the climax of "Get Schwifty", Morty and the United States President need to get to a performance stage help Rick save the world, and the President tells Morty that they'll have to move fast because a General Ripper is planning to launch some nukes that'll make the whole situation worse, leading to:
    Morty: Oh my God! C-C-Can you fly a Blackhawk?
    The President: Can the Pope's dick fit through a donut?
    Morty: [intensely disturbed] Uhhhh, I'm not sure?
    The President: Exactly.