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Owls Ask "Who?"

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Good question, my feathered friend
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Animals, for the most part, don't typically talk. Despite this, one of the animals that comes closest to participating in a coherent conversation (not counting parrots) is the owl, its call of "hoo" being often mistaken for the owl asking "Who?" in English.

The confusion can also happen in French-language works and translations, except the "hoo" sounds like "Où ?" ("Where?") instead.

A subtrope of Who's on First?. Compare Animal Species Accent.


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Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • The "America's Best" owl commercials were originally based on an inversion of this, with the humans constantly asking "who?" and the owl responding eloquently to their questions, as seen here. Later commercials dropped this element.
  • Fifteen minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance. Everyone knows that. Well, did you know some owls are not that wise?

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: When Archie and his friends went camping, Archie woke up to an owl's hooting, and proceeded to wake the others:
    Archie: Did you say who?
    Jughead: Who me?
    Reggie: Who said who said who me?
    Moose: Duh... Who what?
    Chuck: Hoo-boy!
  • Suske en Wiske: This happens to Wiske in "Het Witte Wief". She continues answering the who's for half a page before finally realizing she's talking to an owl.

    Fan Works 
  • A few My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan works do this, inspired by the Running Gag of the episode "Owl's Well That Ends Well".
    • Turnabout Storm
      Phoenix: Hey! An owl.
      Owlowiscious: Hoo.
      Phoenix: You, you're an owl.
      Owlowiscious: Hoo.
      Phoenix: You mean "Who am I?". Phoenix Wright, with a "Ph" and a "W".
      Owlowiscious: Hoo.
      Phoenix: You know? You make Big Macintosh look like a blabbermouth.
      Owlowiscious: Hoo.
      Phoenix: [sigh]
    Later on, Spike manages to get stuck in the cycle once again.
    • Chaotic Harmony:
      Sonic: Whew... it's just an owl. You aren't going to start talking, right?
      Owlowiscious: Who?
      Sonic: You, duh.
      Owlowiscious: Who?
      Sonic: You! I'm talking to you right now!
      Owlowiscious: Who?
      Sonic: You! You, okay!? Geez, and I thought that pink pony was annoying!
      Owlowiscious: Who?
      Sonic: Alright, that's it! Say "who" one more time. I dare ya, birdie! I. Dare. You.
    • Getting Back on Your Hooves:
      Trixie: Um... hello there...
      Owlowiscious: Hoo?
      Trixie: Trixie.
      Owlowiscious: Hoo?
      Trixie: Umm... Trixie.
      Owlowiscious: Hoo?
      Trixie: Trixie!
      Owlowiscious: Hoo?
      Trixie: You stubborn bird! I said my name is Trixie!
      Owlowiscious: Hoo?
      Twilight: Trixie, he's an owl, that's all he can say!
      Trixie: Oh! Um yes! Trixie knew that! Oh look at the time! Goodnight!
    • And again in A Voice Among the Strangers. This time it happens off-screen between Spike and Owlowicious, with Spike only realizing later that he fell into the same trap as always. This one is noteworthy because it happens in a story where the Equestrian language explicitly sounds nothing like English.
      Twilight: We would have been here sooner but Owlowiscious and Spike got into an argument over who was cleaning up later today.
      Spike: Hey, it's not my fault he kept asking who was meant to... be... doing—... argh.
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    Films — Animation 
  • Sleeping Beauty: When Briar Rose talks to her animal friends, the owl naturally goes "hoo?", which she takes as a question.
  • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West: While lost in the desert, Tiger sees what he thinks is his girlfriend Kitty, and as he calls for her, she only asks "Who?" It's only when he comes to give her a kiss does he realize that it was actually an owl sitting on a cactus.
  • In The Sword in the Stone, it's how we're first introduced to Merlin's owl, Archimedes. When Merlin checks his watch and concludes that someone [Wart] will be arriving in half and hour, Archimedes pops out of his bird house and says, "Who? Who? I'd like to know who?"

    Films — Live-Action 

    Jokes 
  • A common joke goes like this:
    Alice: Someone told me you sound like an owl.
    Bob: Who?
  • This trope pops up in a few "Knock Knock" Jokes.
    • Such as this one:
      Alice: Knock knock.
      Bob: Who's there?
      Alice: Hu.
      Bob: Hu who?
      Alice: You sound like an owl.
    • Or this one:
      Alice: Knock knock.
      Bob: Who's there?
      Alice: Owls.
      Bob: Owls who?
      Alice: Yes, they do.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A Whose Line Is It Anyway? game of Greatest Hits had Ryan try to make an owl/who joke to introduce the next song, but Colin derailed it...
    Ryan: What kind of bird always says the name of our next band?
    Colin: Oh... I guess... a... tern? An arctic tern?
    Ryan: And what sound does an arctic tern make?
    Colin: BACKSTREETBOYS!
    Ryan: [corpsing] No! No, Col! That's wrong.
    Colin: Well, why don't you tell us what's right?
    Ryan: I was thinking an owl.
    Colin: Oh!
    Ryan: Who. The Who is our next band on this CD set.

    Myths & Religion 
  • A non-owl non-"Who?" variant of this trope is seen in Classical Mythology, Philomela, Procne and Procne's husband Tereus are turned into birds: Procne into the nightingale, Philomela her sister into the sparrow as her tongue was ripped out by Tereus who raped her so she wouldn't tell the tale... and Tereus, whose son was killed by the women as revenge for the rape into the hoopoe, because to Ancient Greeks, the hoopoe's call sounds like the Greek word "where?", as if he was still looking for his killed son.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: One of the skits of Season 2, Episode 3 is of Zelda Rose and her Singing Owl singing "Who?" from the musical Sunny. Naturally, the Owl sings all the "Who"s.

    Web Comics 

     Web Videos 
  • In Kid Time Storytime, Hooty the owl speaks in "hoo"s, so sometimes people think he's asking, "Who?".

    Western Animation 
  • Bojack Horseman: Slightly subverted when Bojack meets Cute Owl, Wanda Pierce.
    Pinky: Wanda, meet the one and only, Bojack Horseman.
    Wanda: Who?
    Bojack: Bojack.
    Wanda: Who?
    Bojack: Bojack Horseman.
    Wanda: That name supposed to mean something to me?
  • One of the quiz gags with Fish on The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! involves an owl that keeps hooting when Fish is trying to ask us his question about what sound an owl makes.
    Fish: You got it this time, but next time I'll stump you for sure.
    Owl: [hooting] Whooooo.
    Fish: Me, that's who!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: This is a fairly consistent running gag with Owlowiscious:
    • Used as a Running Gag in "Owl's Well That Ends Well", Owlowiscious' "hoo" is understood as the question "Who?" most of the time.
      Spike: Uh... hi there! I'm Spike. I'm sure Twilight has told you all about me.
      Owlowiscious: Hoo.
      Spike: Uh, Spike? You know, assistant number one?
      Owlowiscious: Hoo?
      Spike: I'm Spike! And who are you? What are you?
      Owlowiscious: Hoo!
      Spike: Who?
      Owlowiscious: Hoo!
      Spike: I thought your name was Owlowiscious!
      Owlowiscious: Hoo?
      Spike: Okay, "Who", "Owlowiscious", whatever. I'm Spike, okay? Look! All you need to know is that I'm number one and you're number two. Got it?
      Owlowiscious: Hoo?
      Spike: So, a man of mystery, huh?
    • In "Inspiration Manifestation", at first, Spike's conversations with Owlowiscious seem like a reprise of their first meeting, but eventually he starts responding to what the owl is saying.
  • Played with in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Wizard of Odd". Stacy Hirano's counterpart in Oz is an owl with a human head. While nobody answers her call of "Hoo", this is a Casting Gag as Stacy's voice actress is Kelly Hu.
  • The Critic: When Eleanor Sherman is feeling depressed, her husband Franklin turns to "Wilson" for advice. When Eleanor feels better, Franklin told "Wilson" the good news.
    Franklin: Oh, Wilson, my wife is happy again!
    ["Wilson" is actually a scarecrow with an owl perched on its shoulder]
    "Wilson": Hoo.
    Franklin: My wife, Eleanor.
    "Wilson": Hoo.
    Franklin: My wife, Eleanor.
    "Wilson": Hoo.
    Franklin: My wife, Eleanor. [continues into the night...]
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In the episode "Mimic Madness", SpongeBob has done so many impressions of everyone he talks do he becomes a shapeshifter from the chest-up, but he undergoes a Shapeshifter Identity Crisis and flees into a cave not sure who he is. He sings a song about this, starting with him doing an owl impression.
    Owl SpongeBob: Who? (Hoo) Who? (Hoo) Who? (Hoo) Who? (Hoo) Whooooo am I?
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: When Rudolph and Herbie are singing "We're a Couple of Misfits" the line "Who decides the test, of what is really best?" is followed up by an owl asking "Who? Who?"
  • The Little Rascals: In "Rascals' Revenge", as the kids approach the abandoned house:
    Darla: Look! The door is open!
    Alfalfa: Maybe someone is expecting us!
    [owl hoots]
    Alfalfa: The ghost of Captain Mildew, that's who!

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