Follow TV Tropes


Rhetorical Question Blunder

Go To
"Oh! Oh! I got it. A toothless beaver!"

Mona Simpson: [singing] How many roads must a man walk down / Before you can call him a man?
Homer: Seven!
Lisa: No, Dad, it's a rhetorical question.
Homer: Rhetorical, eh? ... Eight!
Lisa: Dad, do you even know what "rhetorical" means?
Homer: Do I know what "rhetorical" means?

Ah, rhetorical questions. Is there anything they can't do? ...Wait, don't answer that.

A Rhetorical Question Blunder is what happens when a character asks a question that they didn't need an answer to... and then gets an answer anyway. That answer will almost always be contrary to the point they were trying to make. Occasionally this can lead down a slippery slope as the asker tries to salvage the original intention.

Truth in Television is in play here. When you join a debate team, they specifically tell you not to ask rhetorical questions; it simply gives the other team the opportunity to answer it in a way that undermines your point. A related phenomenon is anthypophora, a rhetorical device where someone deliberately poses a question and then answers it themselves.

Particularly common when dealing with someone who is Sarcasm-Blind. Related to Analogy Backfire and Name One. Often the answer is a Mathematician's Answer. Sometimes, when played for drama, the answer can be an Armor-Piercing Response.

Despite the common use of the phrase when the asker sees this coming, this has nothing to do with Don't Answer That, which is a trope about Perp Sweating. Similar to I Was Just Joking where one makes a comment that wasn't meant to be taken seriously. See also Ask a Stupid Question...

See About Rhetorical Questions for why rhetorical questions don't work well on a wiki. Blunt "Yes" and "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal are subtropes.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Audio Play 
  • From 36 Questions:
    Jase: Do you know what you’ve done? [...]
    Judith: Let's see if I remember. If I recall correctly, I gave you a fake name when we met and I continued to use that name while we dated and then as we got married-
    Jase: More than just a fake name. You think I care about a fake name!?
    Judith: Yes.
    Jase: ...Well, you're right. I do.

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Don Rosa played with the trope in "A Little Something Special". After Magica De Spell, Flintheart Glomgold, the Beagle Boys and Blackheart Beagle teamed up in a plan to steal Scrooge McDuck's fortune and failed, Magica and the Beagles went to South Africa and robbed Flintheart, who asked what he did to deserve that but quickly added a "Don't Answer That" command.
  • Combined with Hands Go Down in Hex Wives #6. Nadiya is in the middle of an angry rant at the Architects, when her 'husband' Eric unwisely decides to interpret her sarcastic question literally:
    "Oh well, please forgive me! I'd hate for you men to feel diminished. Does anyone else feel betrayed in any way? Eric, put your hand down."
  • Money Shot: When Christine asks who would be into the weird porn that replaced her favorite porn site, her home AI analyzes and answers the question.
  • From New Avengers:
    Namor: When were you going to tell me about this?
    Iron Man: It just happened yesterday.
    Namor: I thought we had an arrangement here.
    Iron Man: Does anyone know how to say "It just happened yesterday" in Atlantean?
    Reed Richards: Fortanu vasyama.
    (everyone in the room stares at Richards)
    Reed Richards: Oh, I, uh...I thought you were really asking.
  • In one issue of Paperinik New Adventures, Urk is about to go on a suicidal mission to rescue his sister, and PK asks him to calm down. He furiously asks if PK has a sister... Which he has. Della Duck is not seen in the comic, and is pressumably missing.
  • In one issue of The Sandman (1989), Morpheus grants a 14th-century peasant immortality to see how he'll adapt to it, and the man agrees to meet Morpheus again in a pub 100 years later. When they see each other again in 1489, the man raves about all of the exciting technological advances that he's seen in the last century (including chimneys, playing cards and... handkerchiefs) and Morpheus sarcastically remarks, "Most impressive. What will you people think of next?" Not realizing that he's mocking him, the man responds "Something to get rid of fleas, with any luck..."
  • Ultimate Spider-Man:
    • In their first meeting, Nick Fury drops in on Peter to explain how he and SHIELD can't go after Norman Osborn until they can legally prove he's a threat — which likely means after Osborn's attacked someone Peter cares about. Peter, at the end of his rope, goes into I Just Want to Be Normal mode. Fury replies that "optimism is a revolutionary act." Peter sarcastically asks if Fury got that from the guy who poked out his eye. Fury springs out of his chair, gets right in Peter's face, and says "Yes."
    • Also, Jameson and Urich discussing an article that Urich has been working on:
      Jameson: Ben, if you paid whatever this paper costs every morning to sit down and read it with the morning cup of joe, would you be interested in a story about some creature that lives in the sewer?
      Urich: Yes.

    Film — Animated 
  • 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure: When Lars learns Cruella wants to turn the puppies into canvases for his artwork, he asks her and her henchmen how they can do something like that. Each bad guy gives a suggestion.
    Jasper: Poison them.
    Horace: Drown them.
    Cruella: Bash them in the head!
  • Alice in Wonderland: When Alice shrinks back to normal size after calling the Queen out, the Queen rhetorically asks what she was saying and the Cheshire Cat answers. But unlike many other examples, it's likely he knew it was a rhetorical question and he did it for a laugh.
  • From the Animated Outtakes at the end of A Bug's Life:
    Hopper: Are you saying I'm stupid?
    Princess Atta: (bursts out laughing) Yes!
  • Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus, when Barbie/Princess Annika is confronting her Knight Templar Parents.
    Annika: What do you want me to do? Just sit in my room all day?!
    King and Queen: YES!
  • In The Book of Life, when Joaquin rides in to confront Chakal the Bandit King.
    Joaquin: Hey, Chakal! Why don't you pick on someone your own size?
    (Overhead shot showing Chakal towering over his mooks, and pretty much every other character)
    Bystander: 'Cause no-one's that big, man!
  • The Emperor's New Groove after Kuzco fires Yzma for trying to rule behind his back.
    Kuzco: Sooooo, who's in my chair?
    Kronk: Oh, oh! I know! Yzma. Yzma's in your chair, right?
    Kuzco: Very good, Kronk! Here. Get the snack.
  • Twice in the The Hunchback of Notre Dame II. Pheobus asks two of these to his Silent Snarker horse Achilles.
    • First when Phoebus is getting reports on robberies involving the Circus
      Phoebus: A string of robberies begins the moment a circus comes to town. Coincidence? I don't think so. How many times have I ever been wrong?
      Achilles (counts on his hoof *Tap. *Tap* *Tap*)
      Phoebus: Achilles, that was a rhetorical question.
    • The second time he reports that the circus is responsible for robberies, which does not delight Quasi or his family (Quasi due to being romantically in love with Madellaine, Esmeralda due to believing that Phoebus still holds prejudice views towards gypsies, and their son Zephyr due to admiring the circus), and they all angrily leave.
      Phoebus: Achilles, do you believe this? Everybody is mad at me! How often does that happen?
      Achilles: (counts on his hoof *Tap*. *Tap* *Tap*)
      Phoebus: Rhetorical!
  • In Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, when Sid is on the playground that Manny built for his yet unborn child.
    Manny: I don't want you touching anything. This place is for kids. Are you a kid?
    Sid: Uh—
    Manny: Don't answer that!
  • Kung Fu Panda. Shifu asks who could possibly be worthy of having the Dragon Scroll, the key to limitless power!!! There's a long 15-second pause, then Master Oogway says, "I don't know."
  • Made a Running Gag in Leroy & Stitch, where Gantu keeps attempting to answer Dr. Hämsterviel's questions...
    Hämsterviel: I think that went very well, don't you?
    Gantu: Actually, sir, I think—
    Hämsterviel: I didn't ask what you think!
    Gantu:: Actually, you did. I--
    Hämsterviel: It was a rhetorical question! Don't you know what a rhetorical question is?
    Gantu: Yes, sir. I believe it's—
    Hämsterviel: NO! That was a rhetorical question too! (facepalms) Argh!
    • Lampshaded after Leroy has reported that all of Jumba's experiments (except Stitch and Reuben) have been captured:
      Hämsterviel: It has taken Leroy a paltry few hours to succeed while you took three years to fail. What is wrong with you?!
      Gantu: Well, I have a bad knee.
      Hämsterviel: No! That was a rhetorical question, you don't answer it! Now will you get me down from this chair!
      Gantu: Uh, was that a rhetorical question?
      Hämsterviel: No! That one was not— Get me down! Get me down!
    • ...And then the roles are reversed when Gantu turns on Hämsterviel in the final battle.
      Gantu: You never did understand the meaning of "aloha", did you?
      Hämsterviel: Well, I think it means...
      Gantu: Uh, that was a rhetorical question. [Hämsterviel groans in frustration after being outwitted by Gantu]
  • In Disney's The Little Mermaid:
    Scuttle: Have I ever been wrong? (Pause) I mean when it's important!
  • The Lion King (1994) does this with the lead-up to "Be Prepared," while Scar is criticizing the hyenas for their failure to kill Simba and Nala:
    Shenzi: Well, you know, it wasn't exactly like they was alone, Scar.
    Banzai: Yeah, what were we supposed to do? Kill Mufasa?
    Scar: (gives a Slasher Smile) Precisely.
  • Madagascar:
    • When Marty admits he wants to go to the wild (which is also one of the few instances where the blunder is actually welcomed):
      Alex: Marty, come on! What could Connecticut offer us?
      Melman: Lyme disease.
      Alex: Thank you, Melman.
    • After Maurice explains why Alex bit Marty, we get this exchange:
      Marty: (while Alex sees him, Gloria, Melman, and the lemurs as steaks) Come on, do I look like a steak to you?
      Alex: Yeah!
      Marty: See, I told you—wait, what'd you just say?
      Alex: (hungrily) Oh yeah.
  • The one funny moment to come out of the donkey scene in Pinocchio.
    Lampwick: Where does [Jiminy] get that stuff? "How do you ever expect to be a real boy?" (face turns into a donkey) What does he think I look like? A jackass?
    Pinocchio: (amused) You sure do!
  • Pocahontas has one between Governor Ratcliffe and Wiggins. For bonus points, Ratcliffe ends his monologue with another rhetorical question.
    • Double bonus points when (if you read the ending credits) you realise Ratcliffe and Wiggins are voiced by the same person.
      Governor Ratcliffe: Wiggins, why do you think those insolent heathens attacked us?
      Wiggins: Because we invaded their land and cut down their trees and dug up their earth?
      Governor Ratcliffe: It's the gold! They have it and they don't want us to take it from them. Well, I'll just have to take it by force then, won't I?
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish:
  • Shark Tale: When Oscar assures Lenny that the accident that killed his brother wasn't his fault, we get this exchange:
    Oscar: If you wanna blame anybody, blame me, cause if I hadn't been there, it wouldn't have happened.
    Lenny: Yeah. Gee, if Pop knew that he'd ice you for sure.
    Oscar: (Chuckles) 'Ice'. What is he? The godfather or somethin'?
    Lenny: (Casually) Yeah.
    Oscar: (Chuckling) What you mean 'yeah'?
    Lenny: Yeah, he is.
    (Oscar has a Loud Gulp and an Oh, Crap! face)
    Lenny: Hey, are you alright?
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie: When Sonic accuses Robotnik of kidnapping the President's daughter to force them to comply to his demands, the latter faux-innocently asks if Sonic thinks he's capable of something that underhanded. Robotnik's own robot goons immediately answer with a resounding "Yes!"
  • Strange World: At one point, Searcher Clade rhetorically asks Jaeger Clade how the latter is his father. Jaeger, fully aware that it has been a quarter century since he parted ways with the then-teenaged Searcher and having already met both his forty-ish daughter in law and teenaged grandson, starts in on The Talk.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: When Calhoun asks Felix if he thinks the Cy-Bugs will stop after devouring just one game, he excitedly blurts out "Yes!", forcing Calhoun to explain just how dire the situation is.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, after Fearless Leader learns that Moose and Squirrel have followed them to the real world.
    Fearless Leader: How many times in the past have they stood between me and my dreams of glory? How many times have they foiled my plans with their bungling interference?
    Boris: Er... 28?
    Fearless Leader: Quiet, idiot!
  • In Analyze This, mobster Paul Vitti is interrogating a crony while threatening him with a pipe.
    Vitti: Know what I'm gonna do to you if you if you don't answer me?
    Crony: You gonna slug me with that pipe?
    Vitti: That was a rhetorical question, moron!!
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:
    First Spy: Now, then. Where are we?
    Second Spy: I have here a map!
    First Spy: I know where we are, stupid! We are in England. And when we are in England, what do we do?
    Second Spy: We play cricket.
    First Spy: "We play cricket." No! We dress like Englishmen!
  • Circle: During the discussion about whether or not to kill Cancer Survivor Lady, the Black Man and the middle-aged Black Woman get into this back and forth. Black Man is smart enough not to press the issue beyond that. College Guy isn't.
    Black Woman: That's not true. [Cancer Lady isn't more likely to die because she's in remission.]
    Black Man: What are you, lady, a doctor?
    Black Woman: Actually, yes I am, asshole!
  • A lethal version in Commando. Matrix has burst into his daughter's room only to find a goon, Diaz, making it clear they have her hostage.
    Diaz: If you want your daughter back you'd better cooperate, right?
    Matrix: Wrong. (Boom, Headshot!)
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982). Conan and Subotai go to rob the Tower of the Serpent, only to find Valeria there, intent on the same thing. She's not impressed by these so-called thieves who (unlike her) haven't even brought a climbing rope with them.
    Valeria: Two fools who laugh at death. Do you know what horrors lie beyond that wall?
    Conan: No.
    Valeria: Then you go first.
  • "Crocodile" Dundee:
    • After Mick got a taste of using his hunting stories to mess with people.
      Jeez, Mick, were you born in a cave?
      Yeah! How did you know that?
      ... Never mind.
    • Or,
      Are you involved in cattle?
      Yeah. mostly buffaloes.
      Oh. do you breed them?
      No, just toss 'em.
      And how are you finding New York? Bit of a lunatic asylum, eh?
      That's why I love it. I fit right in.
  • Die Hard:
    Holly: I have a request.
    Hans Gruber: What idiot put you in charge?
    Holly: You did. When you murdered my boss. Now everybody's looking to me.
  • After discovering how to build a durable shelter to survive on the planet where they're both marooned, Lt. Davidge of Enemy Mine sits down and proudly asks "Jerry, ol' buddy, where would you be without me?" Jerry, an alien who doesn't yet grasp the concept of rhetorical questions (and is stuck on this planet because he and Davidge shot each other's ships down), just answers honestly:
    "Back home."
  • A rather tragic example from Forrest Gump, when Bubba is dying in Gump's arms.
    Bubba: Forrest...why'd this happen?
    Forrest: You got shot.
  • A back-to-back pair of particularly dark examples in Full Metal Jacket when Joker is riding in a helicopter with a psychotic door gunner:
    Door Gunner: Git some! Git some! Git some, yeah, yeah, yeah! Anyone who runs is a VC. Anyone who stands still is a well-disciplined VC! You should do a story about me sometime!
    Joker: Why should we do a story about you?
    Door Gunner: 'Cause I'm so fucking good! That ain't no shit neither. I done got me 157 dead Gooks killed and fifty water buffalo too! Them are all certified.
    Joker: Any women or children?
    Door Gunner: Sometimes!
    Joker: How can you shoot women and children?
    Door Gunner: Easy! You just don't lead 'em so much! Ha ha! Ain't war hell?
  • I, Robot: Del Spooner tries to define the difference between humans and robots:
    Spooner: You are a clever imitation of life. Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot take a blank canvas and turn it into a masterpiece?
    Sonny: Can you?
  • The Long Kiss Goodnight. Samantha tries to convince private eye Mitch to continue investigating her Mysterious Past, saying life as an amnesiac is like being in prison. "Do you know how that feels?" Mitch snaps back that he knows exactly how that feels, as he spent years in prison after being busted as a Dirty Cop.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the AI in Nick Fury's car is a little too Literal-Minded. In the middle of an attack, Fury keeps asking it to do things, and it keeps responding that the relevant equipment is damaged. Finally:
      Fury: What's not damaged?
      Car A.I.: Air conditioning is fully operational.
    • In The Avengers (2012).
      Steve: Big man in a suit of armor. Take that away, what are you?
      Tony: Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.
    • Thor also interrupts Loki's Motive Rant with the question "You think yourself above [humans]?" Loki's response is a confused "Well, yes" as though that's obvious.
    • Black Panther (2018): When Ross sees Klaue with his bodyguards, he snarks that they look like a boy band, and asks when their next single is coming out. Klaue eagerly says that they finished it recently, and offers him a link to the file.
      Ross: Please don't make me listen to your music.
    • In Thor: Ragnarok, when Hulk is trashing his living quarters and throws a shield at Thor:
      Thor: What are you, crazy?!
      Hulk: YES!
    • During the escape from Asgard in Thor: The Dark World, when Loki appears to be flying their ship into the side of a mountain:
      Thor: Are you mad?!
      Loki: Possibly.
  • M*A*S*H, after Hawkeye meets Major Houlihan, where they develop a deep and abiding contempt for each other:
    Houlihan: I wonder how a degenerated person like that could have reached a position of responsibility in the Army Medical Corps!
    Mulcahy: He was drafted.
    • Justified in the sense that Mulcahy's response, while it is a literal response to Houlihan's question, is also making a larger point (reminding Houlihan that Hawkeye didn't exactly ask for the position, and would probably just as soon not have it).Fun Fact
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian has an extended example: when Reg asks "What have the Romans ever done for us?", the other revolutionaries begin offering examples, eventually leading to:
    "All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?"
    "Brought peace?"
    "Oh, peace! SHUT UP!"
  • Similarly, one sketch in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life has Michael Palin as a Drill Sergeant Nasty-type commanding his men to march up and down the square. He asks the men if there is anything they would rather do than march up and down the square all day. One of them politely says he'd prefer to be home with his family. The sergeant lets him go. The other soldiers eagerly mention what they'd rather be doing. Finally, all the remaining men go off to the movies, leaving the fuming sergeant marching up and down the square all by himself, still seemingly oblivious to the fact that he didn't have to let them go.
  • The Mule: When Earl arrives at Laton's mansion, he is deeply impressed and jokingly asks who Laton killed for it. 
    Laton: Many, many people.
  • From Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, Jane catches Frank in a rather compromising position with Tanya.
    Jane: How could you!
    Tanya: Well, you just shove your tongue as far down his throat as you can.
  • The Return of the Pink Panther: After Clouseau gets in trouble over inadvertently ignoring a bank robbery:
    Dreyfus: The beggar was the lookout man for the gang.
    Clouseau: That is impossible.
    Dreyfus: Why?
    Clouseau: He was blind. How can a blind man be a lookout?
    Dreyfus: How can an idiot be a policeman? Answer me that!
    Clouseau: It's very simple, all he has to do is enlist...
    Dreyfus: Shut up!
  • In The Producers, Max Bialystock likes to ask rhetorical questions. It frequently doesn't go well.
    • Right after Bloom meets Bialystock at the beginning of the movie:
      Max Bialystock: How dare you condemn me without knowing all the facts!
      Leo Bloom: Mr. Bialystock, I don't condemn—
      Max Bialystock: Shut up! I'm having a rhetorical conversation.
    • Later:
      Bialystock: Have I ever steered you wrong?
      Franz Liebkind: Always.
      Bialystock: Never mind!
  • Scream, when everyone's in shock from Casey and Steve's deaths:
    Sidney: How do you gut someone?
    Stuart: You take a knife and cut them from groin to sternum.
  • Serenity has one such example, where in the midst of an argument between the crew, Mal goes into schoolteacher mode:
    Mal: Do you want to run this ship!?
    Jayne: Yes.
    Mal: (thrown) ...Well, you can't.
    • Earlier, Mal actually does this to himself: when Zoe is expressing moral concern over his having refused to take along a civilian while fleeing the Reaver attack, Mal points out that their vehicle could only carry four people plus their cargo, and rhetorically asks her if he should have kicked off River, or Zoe herself, or Jayne... then briefly pauses and considers "Oh, Jayne..." in a tone indicating that this wouldn't have been quite such an unthinkable act.
  • The Dragon Errol from Snatch. has this problem. His boss Brick Top just wants him to be intimidating Dumb Muscle, but Errol has a tendency to answer rhetorical questions with pragmatic, ruthless advice. Eventually, it leads Brick Top to get slightly fed up. "It was a rhetorical question, Errol. What have I told you about thinking?" In the end Brick Top would have probably been better off if he'd just taken Errol's advice.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), after Sonic takes out one of Robotnik's vehicles, he rhetorically asks if Robotnik's got anything else. He actually does.
    Sonic: Ho-ho! Is that all you've got? (speeds back into Tom's truck)
    Robotnik: (behind a control panel) No, but thank you for asking. (launches a second, detachable vehicle from the bottom of the larger vehicle's chassis, which immediately races after the duo)
    Sonic: Uh-oh.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens:
    Han Solo: Boys, you're both gonna get what I promised. Have I ever not delivered for you before?
    Bala-Tik: Yeah!
    Tasu Leech: Twice!
    Han Solo: .... What was the second time?
  • Time Bandits has the embodiment of Evil thinking aloud:
    Evil Genius: That's a good question. Why have I let the Supreme Being keep me here in the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness?
    Robert: Because you...
    Evil Genius: Shut up, I'm speaking rhetorically.
    Robert: Oh, of course, of course...
  • Top Gun: As the naval aviators are introduced to the TOPGUN commanding officer, Commander Mike "Viper" Metcalf, there's this exchange:
    Viper: In case some of you wonder who the best is, they're up here on this plaque on the wall. The best driver and his RIO from each class has his name on it. And they have the option to come back here to be TOPGUN instructors. You think your name's gonna be on that plaque?
    Maverick: (confidently) Yes, sir.
    Viper: That's pretty arrogant, considering the company you're in.
    Maverick: Yes, sir.
    Viper: (slightly smirking) I like that in a pilot.
  • Young Frankenstein:
    Elizabeth: Would you want me like this, now, so soon before our wedding?
    Froderick: ...Yes!

  • Jesus comes across a mob stoning an adulteress. He steps between them, and says: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." When he hears a clack and the adulteress whimper in pain, he sighs, turns around, and says "Mom, please! I'm trying to work here!"
    • A similar joke happens in a Robot Chicken sketch, where he himself hits the person being stoned and says "Blammo!"
    • A variation, featured in a round of "Scenes We'd Like To See" on Mock the Week; Peter asked Jesus, "Why do you always leave the door open when you enter a room? Were you born in a barn?" And Jesus answered, "Yes, actually, I was."
  • A political candidate meets a voter who says:
    "You made a good speech, but I'll never vote for you because I'm a Republican."
    "Why are you a Republican?"
    "Because my father was a Republican, and so was his father before him."
    "That's not a very logical reason. What if your father and your grandfather were both horse thieves? Then what would you be?"
    "A Democrat!"

  • Constance Verity Saves the World: When Connie finds a picture of her, Tia and Larry in their twenties, Tia asks "where does the time go?"
    Connie: It gets eaten by the chronovore. The giant maw that consumes old time to keep the universe running.
    Tia: You know what I mean.
  • Discworld:
    • Mort:
      Albert: Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?
      Mort: [thinks for a while] No. What?
      Albert: Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve 'em right.
      • Shortly afterwards, Mort is trying to figure out how Albert can be Death's manservant and asks if he's dead. Albert says "Do I look dead?" but goes ahead and answers the question directly as Mort starts giving him a slow, critical look to determine the answer to the question.
    • Sourcery, right at the beginning:
      Ipslore: And what would humans be without love?
      Death: Rare.
    • Moving Pictures has:
      Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler: Trust me. Have I ever lied to you?
      Bezam Planter: Well, one night last month you sold me a sausage in a bun and you said—
      Throat: I was speaking rhetorically.
      Bezam: Oh. Well. I dunno about rhetorically.
    • Moving Pictures also has the same The Merchant of Venice gag as Neverwhere (below), with the troll who asked the question still insisting "Ah, but I would if I had blood. I'd bleed all over the place."
    • In Going Postal, Mr. Groat informs Moist von Lipwig that he has to take "The Postman's Walk" if he wants to be accepted as the new Postmaster by the Order of the Post. Moist decides to go through with what he thinks is just a harmless initiation ritual, asking "What's the worst that could happen?" After a bit of thought, Mr. Groat responds "The worst that could happen is you lose all your fingers on one hand, are crippled for life, and break half the bones in your body. Oh, and then they don't let you join."
    • In Thud!, Fred Colon comments on the trouble in Koom Valley with the immortal question "War, Nobby, huh. What is it good for?" This being Discworld, where rhetorical questions never caught on, Nobby answers the question with things like "Freeing slaves?" and "Protecting yourself from a totalitarian aggressor?"
    • Lampshaded in Monstrous Regiment; at one point the squad is locked up by the enemy and Lt. Blouse is lamenting their position, saying "Oh, will I ever look my dear Emmeline in the face again?" Polly, normally a very sensible character, responds "I don't know, sir," forcing Blouse to point out "That was meant to be more of a rhetorical cry of despair than an actual question, Perks."
    • A Running Gag is for Vetinari to ask "Look out the window and tell me what you see" and get pointless but true answers like "Fog" or "A small dog watching a man taking a piss in an alley." What he wants is some kind of comment on the view of Ankh-Morpork.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry derails a Fey Queen's attempt to seduce him by reminding her that he killed her cousin.
    Maeve: Tell me, mortal. When was the last time flesh, new and strange to your hand, lay quivering beneath you, hmm? When was the last time you could taste and feel some little lovely's cries?
    Harry: Technically? When I killed Aurora.
    • Harry falls into this trap later, when visiting a Svartalf compound in a bit of a hurry, and asks if it would kill them to skip the security procedures just once. The guard looks at him like he's an idiot and calmly answers that, yes, letting someone who doesn't know the procedure for getting in could get him and everyone inside killed. That's why there is a procedure for getting in.
  • In the Young Adult science fiction book Illuminae, Ezra is undergoing a psychological evaluation before he can become a fighter pilot, something necessitated by the recent destruction of his home colony via BeiTech. Not very impressed with the interviewer, he snarkily asks if the real psychologist died and he's talking to a medical intern or something. Given how many people just got killed? Yup.
  • In Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, Cabal wonders, probably not expecting an answer, why his brother's similes were always sexual, noting that it always bothered him. His brother Horst tells him he's answered his own question.
  • The undefined-but-clearly-supernatural nature of Messrs Croup and Vandemar in Neverwhere is shown when Vandemar sticks a knife through the back of his own hand, doesn't bleed, and shows no pain. Shortly afterward, Mr Croup makes a comment about "Oh, Mr Vandemar, if you cut us, do we not bleed?" Vandemar's response is a carefully considered "No."
  • The first Red Dwarf novel has the deceased Arnold J. Rimmer do this to himself when deciding that his status as living impaired need not stop his ambition:
    Well, he wasn't going to let it get him down any more. He wasn't going to let it stand in his way. He was dead, there was no use bleating about it. Was that a reason to quit? Did Napoleon quit when he was dead? Did Julius Caesar quit when he was dead?

    Well... yes.
  • In the Star Wars Legends novel Wraith Squadron, Grinder and Tyria get into a fistfight after the former accidentally presses the latter's Berserk Button, only to be interrupted by Wedge Antilles walking in. Phanon tries to brush off the fight as "demonstrating the finer points of a hand-to-hand technique", but Wedge, visibly irritated, is having none of it.
    Wedge: How many times in my career do you suppose I've heard the "we were just discussing a boxing maneuver" excuse?
    Phanon: I... don't know, sir.
    Wedge: That was a rhetorical question, Flight Officer Phanon. Do not re-enter this conversation.
  • In The Talisman by Stephen King, the Big Bad considers the Bible verse "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" He concludes, "It profits him the world."
  • Defied in The McAtrix: Derided, a parody of The Matrix trilogy, in this bit when the Agent Smith-expy snaps at his partner for interrupting him when he's interrogating the Neo-expy.
    "Do I look like an idiot? Don't answer that question. It's rhetorical."
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold:
    • At the end of Warrior's Apprentice Count Vordrozda asks the Council of Counts "If Lord Vorkosigan is so innocent, why is he not here?". At which point Miles makes his entrance. Lampshaded by Ivan, also waiting on the far side of the door without Vordrozda's knowledge, who observes to Miles that they won't get a better straight line if they wait all day.
    • A Civil Campaign: Richars Vorrutyer gives a speech with a lengthy list of insulting rhetorical questions. Then someone answers him.
    • Diplomatic Immunity: An annoyed Miles asks a rhetorical question about the lack of forensic thinking by the authorities on both sides of his current mystery. His batman (an ex-policeman) starts to answer, then stops and says "Was that a question, m'lord?". Miles replies "A rhetorical one, but do you have an answer?". In fact he has a very good one.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: In the second book, Cersei threatens to kill a prostitute she thinks is her brother Tyrion's lover Shae if her sons Joffrey or Tommen come to harm. Tyrion protests that he would not harm his own nephews.
    Tyrion: What sort of man do you take me for?
    Cersei: A small and twisted one.
  • In The War God's Own, Halashu asks who would be fool enough to claim that Bahzell Bahnakson is a Champion of Tomanak. Cue the War God appearing to say: "I would."
  • In the Warcraft Expanded Universe novel Tides of War, Garrosh falls into these when Hamuul is concerned.
    Garrosh: Does this look like the green skin of Thrall?
    Hamuul: No, Warchief. No one would ever mistake you for Thrall.
    • Hamuul does it again regarding Garrosh's apparently unwise delay in the attack on Theramore.
      Garrosh: And now, can you tell me what my decision to wait has brought us?
      Hamuul: Defeat?
  • In With Fire and Sword, Helena rhetorically asks her Stalker with a Crush (after he's kidnapped her) whether she's the only girl in the world. He says yes.
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell does this deliberately when Henry asks if he thinks "a king should huddle indoors like a sick girl," referring to a speech Cromwell once made as an MP which criticized Henry's wars in France as pointless and potentially financially disastrous if Henry were to be capture. Cromwell replies that would be ideal for fiscal purposes, and Henry is impressed that Cromwell sticks to his guns. Henry isn't the only one, though—it's just better not to ask rhetorical questions around Cromwell because he will answer them and rarely to the asker's liking. He even answers his own, as seen in his interview with Margaret Pole:
    Cromwell: [referring to Plantagenet plotters to the throne] I wonder what they talked about.
    Lady Margaret: I'm sure you do.
    Cromwell: Actually, I don't.
  • In the Worldwar series, Soviet pilot Ludmila Gorbunova, forced to escort German panzer driver Georg Schultz to a combined position to fight the alien invasion, spots a destroyed T-34 and decides to get some satisfaction by asking him what he thought when he first faced those monsters, expecting anger or fear at the memory of the vehicle Soviet propaganda had described as invincible. Schultz answers by giving her a detailed analysis, admitting it had been a formidable enemy but also had some technical flaws and was used horribly.

  • Bowling for Soup's song "No Hablo Ingles", in a verse containing a series of questions:
    Do you like my band?
    ...Don't answer that.
  • Bruce Springsteen: As heard on "Rosalita" on the Live 1975-85 album, Springsteen introduces all the other members of the E Street Band, then comes to saxophonist Clarence Clemons, at the time the most popular member of the band. "And last but not least," Springsteen asks, "do I have to say his name? Do I have to speak his name? Do I have to speak his name?" Each time Springsteen asks, he receives a mixture of "Yeah!" and "No!" responses from the audience. Audience members may well have been confused, because a "Yeah!" response would imply that they didn't know who Clemons was, while a "No!" response would imply that they didn't want to hear him introduced.
  • Eminem:
    • "Evil Deeds":
      What do I look like? A comedian? To you?
      Do you think that I'm kiddin'? What do I look like, some kinda idi -
      - wait a minute. Shit. Don't answer that.
    • "Nice Guy":
      I'm an emotional wreck, weak, everything over-affects me.
      When you joke, it upsets me.
      You say I'm no good at sex, and you think I'm gross and unsexy.
      I need Scope 'cause my breath stinks, you hope I choke on a Pepsi...
      ...Bitch, you was supposed to correct me!!
  • The Magnetic Fields' "Yeah! Oh Yeah!" is entirely this.
    Her: Are you out of love with me?
    Are you longing to be free?
    Do I drive you up a tree?
    —>Him: Yeah! Oh, yeah!
  • Professor Elemental's "You Remind Me Of A Car" has the rapper do this to himself:
    "Look at you, looking at me,
    Looking back at you, what do you see?
    Well, me, obviously, That's been established
    I'm all on you like Orange on a Carrot..."
  • On "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Alpocalypse" Tour, he yells "Are you ready to rock?" When the audience replies in the affirmative, he pauses, then replies, "Crap. I was afraid of that. Our next song's a ballad, so..."

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Happens in FoxTrot.
    Andy: Roger, you can't spend 24 hours a day hovering over your kids! What are you going to do? Quit your job?
    Roger: Now there's a thought.
    Andy: I was kidding, Roger. Kidding!
    • Another Fox Trot example:
      Paige: Those cheerleaders think they're so special. What have they got that we haven't got?
      Nicole: Five guys fighting to carry their lunch trays.
      Paige: Besides that.
      Nicole: Really, really perfect bodies.
      Paige: You're not helping, Nicole.
      Nicole: I think the one on the left is a concert violinist.
  • Garfield says this to a mirror in the January 28, 1985 strip when he asks it who the cutest cat of all is, and Nermal walks up soon after.
    • This strip had Garfield doing his usual stand-up routine on the fence and asks the audience if they're feeling good, only for the audience to reply that things could be better, before Garfield angrily tells them that it was a rhetorical question, to which the audience tells him to ask another.
  • Peanuts:
    • This strip features a philosophical debate between Charlie Brown and Lucy.
      Lucy: Tell me something... are there more bad people in the world, or are there more good people?
      Charlie Brown: Who's to say? Who is to say who is bad or who is good?
      Lucy: (enthusiastically) I will!
    • One sequence has Peppermint Patty being asked a famous rhetorical question in school: "How many angels can stand on the head of a pin?" After hours of pondering, she asks Charlie Brown what kind of a ridiculous question it is, and he tells her that it's just an old theological problem and there is no answer. She answers, "That's too bad...I put down 'eight if they're skinny, and four if they're fat!'"

  • In Sequinox, when Chell and Yuki try to invite Sid out for milkshakes.
    Yuki: Do you like milkshakes?
    Sid: Uh, is the Pope Catholic?
    Chell: Is he? (pulls out phone to check)
    Yuki: (shoves Chell's phone back in her pocket) Yes. Yes he is.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show:
    • In the Lola Falana episode, Gonzo accepts an offer from a film studio in Bombay, India. After finding out the movie deal has fallen through, he starts begging Kermit for his job back.
      Gonzo: Oh, please, Kermit! Kiss kiss, grovel grovel!
      Kermit: Stop kissing my flipper! Gonzo! Have you no dignity?
      Gonzo: Of course not. How long have we worked together?
    • In the Beverly Sills episode, fed up with the ridiculousness of the opening numbers, Statler and Waldorf sarcastically ask if Kermit has a Chinese gorilla doing ballet lined up.
      Kermit: [to the ones behind the curtain] Uh, cancel the opening number.
      [A Chinese-speaking gorilla dressed in a ballet outfit walks by, complaining loudly.]

  • The Establishing Character Moment for Jack Benny's miserly persona. A mugger jumps out of the shadows, points a gun at Benny, and snarls, "Your money or your life!". An incredibly long Beat ensues (during which the audience begins laughing), until finally the robber impatiently repeats his request. Benny irritably snaps, "I'm thinking it over!"
  • In one episode of The Goon Show, Seagoon sarcastically demands of Bloodnok, "Women, women, women - is that all you think about?" It takes Bloodnok no time at all to answer in the affirmative.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Nomine: Asking rhetorical questions to the Archangel Litheroy is generally disadvised, since he'll usually just give you an honest answer. Notably, he knows perfectly well what rhetorical questions are — he just chooses to answer them anyway, in part because he feels it's a good way to make the other party question their own assumptions.

  • Black Friday: When Linda Monroe cuts in line to ensure that her four children each get a Tickle-Me Wiggly, Becky Barnes attempts to call her out on it.
    Becky: Linda, do you really think your children are better than everyone else's?
    Linda: In so many words, yes!
    (people behind her start booing)
    Linda: Oh, shut up! I hope you don't get a Wiggly! I hope you fucking die!
  • In Little Shop of Horrors, when Audrey II reveals it can talk, it demands more blood. Seymour, who's fingers have become annemic from feeding Audrey II, says there wasn't anymore before asking "What do you want me to do, slit my wrists?". In response, Audrey II opens its mouth wide in anticipation.
  • Six: The Musical: After singing "Heart of Stone", a heartwrenching song about how she stayed by Henry's side until the end even though she knew his love was conditional, Jane Seymour tries to further cement her place in the contest of "who had it worse" among the ex-wives. Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded, isn't impressed.
    Seymour: Because... what hurts more than a broken heart?
    Boleyn: A severed head.
  • Wicked: Glinda the Good Witch enters in the first song to cheers and halloos. She, smiling, replies "It's good to see me, isn't it?" They all respond, "Yes!" She (still smiling) answers, "You needn't respond; that was rhetorical."

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: While progressing through Freeway 42's underground biological research base, Ann comes across several egg-like substances.
    Ayane: What's that sticky stuff over there?
    Ann: My guess is that it's secretion from the grubs that...
    Ayane: I know, I know! It was a rhetorical question!
    Ann: (sigh)
  • Done hilariously in Army Men: Sarge's Heroes:
    Tan Soldier: Colonel Grimm and the Sarge have escaped our forces and captured a blue intelligence officer make matters worse, Sarge found one of our portals.
    General Plastro: WHAT?
    Tan Soldier: Colonel Grimm and Sarge have escaped -
    General Plastro: I HEARD YOU! IT WAS A RHETORICAL 'WHAT'! (punches the soldier out of the building) Does anyone else have any good news they'd like to share?
    Tan Soldiers: No sir! Nope! Not me! Nothin'!
  • Batman: Arkham Knight: Batman and Catwoman are forced to go through one of Riddler's Death Traps together, leading to this:
    Catwoman: (sigh) Another one? What's Eddie's problem?
    Batman: Fanatic narcissism, egocentricism, and megalomania crossed with severe obsessive compulsion.
    Catwoman: ...Thanks.
    Batman: Don't mention it.
  • Brütal Legend: Before Eddie's final battle with Emperor Doviculus, the latter tries to taunt him. It doesn't quite work.
    Doviculus: Son of Succoria, suckled by the dry teat of man. You are half so many things, I doubt any part of you is whole. Is there even a word for a creature such as you?
    Eddie Riggs: Yeah. I'm a roadie. I keep the trash off the stage.
  • Exploited in one of the most difficult puzzles of Colossal Cave: "With What? Your bare hands?" is the rhetorical question asked when you forget to specify a weapon in an attack. After a few weeks of utter frustration trying to find a weapon that will slay a dragon, the player angrily types "Yes", more or less at random. Tada!
    Congratulations, you just vanquished a dragon with your bare hands! (Unbelievable, isn't it?)
  • The Communitree: Typing "find" in Giftcode Hunter without any other thing will make the game ask "Find? Find what? Girlfriends?" You can type that in and discover you already have one.
  • When Faris joins the party in Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, Steiner protests because she's a pirate. Vaan, who is a sky pirate, asks if he should leave too. Steiner's reaction indicates that yes he should, because Steiner hadn't realized just how many Loveable Rogues were in the party already.
  • During Kiyohime's interlude quest in Fate/Grand Order, she wonders aloud what she did to merit being attacked by wyverns... and immediately comes up with several reasons herself.
  • In Ghost Trick, Bailey the prison guard blunders over his own rhetorical question when he replies to a co-worker implying he's stupid with "What's that supposed to mean?", then explains apropos of nothing that it was just an expression of indignation.
  • Guilty Gear: In the series' backstory, when Sol was training Sin, they had a discussion about what the latter's weapon of choice would be. Sin said he wanted something flashy that would stand out and let the enemy know exactly who they were fighting; Sol snarked "Why don't you just wave a giant flag around while you're at it?!" Sin took him seriously.
  • Cortana has one of these done to her in Halo 2 when the Chief and some Helljumpers are deployed onto Halo Installation 05 by HEV.
    Cortana: Could we possibly make any more noise?
    (Chief grabs a missile launcher out of his pod.)
    Cortana: ... I guess so.
  • Honkai: Star Rail: In "You Already Know Me", Arlan is arguing with Asta because he refuses to give her encryption key back and let her make wasteful (but well-meaning) purchases for the space station. When she asks who gave him the right to manage her money, he retorts, "You did." She admits she might have done that but she doesn't count "buying an entire starnought fleet for security" as "wasting money".
  • Does Dr. Toadley in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story answer his own questions all the time? He most certainly does.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect, Urdnot Wrex has a penchant for these, particularly in his elevator conversations with Tali.
      Wrex: So tell me, who would win in a fight between you and Shepard?
      Tali: Do krogan always size up one another for a fight? Even friends and allies?
      Wrex: Yes.

      Wrex: Hey, Tali. Your people created the geth, ever talk about it?
      Tali: Do the krogan talk about starting a stupid war that got your species sterilized?
      Wrex: All the time.
    • In Mass Effect 3, during a sidequest where you traverse a virtual world, Shepard comes across recordings of the quarians before the geth drove them off their homeworld and wonders why the quarians are wearing their environmental suits. Legion, a friendly geth, responds that the recordings are based off Shepard's own memories and asks Shepard how many quarians s/he has seen without their suits. If your Shepard is male and romanced Tali in the second game, he replies: ""
    • If he's still alive when you meet him in 3, Conrad Verner is up to his typical loony self. He asks if he can help, and Shepard rather snarkily tells him that s/he is building an ancient dark energy Prothean device to stop the Reapers, and asks in the same exasperated tone of voice if he can help. Conrad reveals that he wrote his doctorate on xenotechnology and dark energy integration. Shepard can only stare blankly before asking if he's serious.
    • From Mass Effect: Andromeda, team-member Jaal will respond to a question about his race's biology by asking Ryder if they know how their own eyes work. If the player has chosen Sara Ryder, she'll respond with an explanation, much to Jaal's bemusement.
      Jaal: I see. You took my sarcasm as an excuse to show off.
    • In the aftermath of Andromeda, Ryder can respond to a comment from a romanced Peebee by saying "what am I going to do with you?" To which Peebee replies "I'm writing a list."
  • In the videogame version of Meet the Robinsons, after Wilbur successfully steals his dad's time machine, he quips, "Is there anything Wilbur Robinson can't do?", to which his robotic friend Carl replies, "Well, there's clean your room, be on time, put your clothes away..." Carl continues listing things even after Wilbur has left.
  • In Persona 4, Yosuke signs up Chie and the other girls for the Yasogami beauty pageant without their consent. The next day, Chie and the other girls sign him and the other guys up for the cross-dressing pageant in retaliation. Yosuke is not amused.
    Yosuke: What kinda joke is this...?
    Chie: Uhh, the exact same joke you pulled on us!
  • Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse: In episode 2, "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak", Sam and Max's Identical Ancestors Sameth and Maximus observe some Fantastic Racism, leading to the following exchange:
    Maximus: Why can't we all get along, Sameth?
    Sameth: Because most of us are (bicycle horn sound), little buddy.
  • In Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, just after Raiko and Nobara restore power to the resort where they and some of their friends are holding a Halloween party, Mika ambushes them in order to try to scare Raiko.
    Nobara: Mika! The hell's wrong with ya?!
    Mika: Not even Mika knows, akukukuku!
  • In Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, after Le Paradox gives his Motive Rant, he walks right into one, which Sly follows up on with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    Le Paradox: Ask yourself this: if the Coopers were truly the greatest thieves in history, and I have stolen their most valued possessions, then what does that make me?
    Sly: Ummm... an idiot?
  • Spider-Man: Miles Morales: At one point on his podcasts, J. Jonah Jameson will ask "what would you do if a masked man in a skin-tight outfit broke into your bedroom in the middle of the night?" We don't see what any of the answers he receives are, but after a Beat he screams "That was a rhetorical question! YOU PEOPLE ARE SICK!"
  • In World of Warcraft, this happens in a randomly occurring conversation between Kil'ruk the Wind-Reaver and Ka'roz the Locust (probably a Shout-Out to the Full Metal Jacket example above).
    Kil'ruk the Wind-Reaver: I have heard of your "heroism," Locust. They say your raids on mogu labor camps and farmlands delayed the completion of the wall by decades. I cannot argue with your results, but how can a proud warrior of the swarm make his name chasing down fleeing peasants and farmhands?
    Ka'roz the Locust: Easily: You don't have to leap as far between kills.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • British YouTube contributor Ben Loka dedicates a video ("Rhetorical Answers") to doing this on purpose. For example:
    Question: How would you like to win fifty thousand pounds?
    Answer: By not entering your contest?
  • From a Chris Ray Gun video, where Chris tries to justify having never seen a circus tent.
    Tom Sweeny: A tent is orange, green and fucking blue! [...] What the fuck is bright orange in Manhattan?
    Chris: Times Square. On several occasions.
  • The Cinema Snob: In his review of If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?, this is the Snob's reaction to Reverend Estus Pirkle's anti-communist scare tactics.
    Pirkle: Do these things seem far-fetched to you?
    Cinema Snob: Yes!
  • After Goku engages with Frieza in Dragon Ball Z Abridged Episode 28, this exchange occurs:
    Goku: You're a heartless monster who kills everyone in his way, even children.
    Frieza: Oh please, everyone's always on about the children. I've already tried leaving them alive but all they do is grow up under my rule or dedicate their pathetic lives to revenge, usually both. Really, killing them is a kindness. I can retract that kindness if you wish, but then, who's the villain?
    Goku: Y-you.
    Frieza: No, that was a rhetorical question.
    Goku: And I gave you a rhetorical answer.
  • In an episode of Content Cop, iDubbbzTV repeatedly does this to demonstrate the fragility of Leafy's frequent "anti-insults," framing crude, insulting remarks as "honest" questions to implicitly plead ignorance and avoid backlash:
    Leafy: Yo, is this person fucking retarded?
    Ian: Yes.
    Leafy: Yo, is this person fucking retarded?
    Ian: Yes, she's retarded. Is that the answer you're looking for, "She's retarded"?
    Leafy: I'm not trying to be a dick, like, I really can't tell, like I know some people are going to be like "Aw, it's obvious!", I-I honestly have no idea.
    Ian: Hey, Leafy! She is retarded! Oh no, I guess I'm the asshole here, because you were just asking the question! I had to answer it for you! You got me. You got me good, Leafster.
    Leafy: Yo, is this person fucking retarded?
    Ian: Yes.
  • Friendship is Witchcraft: When Sweetie Belle accidentally activates Rarity's one-use, self hugging sweater, this exchange occurs;
    Rarity: Oh, now who is going to hug me?
    Sweetie Bot: Sweetie Belle!
  • YouTube Let's-Player HCBailly often jokingly asks NPCs questions where the first answer to jump into most viewers' heads is often X-rated, and immediately follows up with "Don't answer that, viewers." to discourage them from posting the naughty answers in the comments.
  • From PlayStation Access:
    Vaas Montenegro: Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?
    Rob Pearsen: Actually, Vaas, I've got the real definition of insanity right here. (indicates an Oxford English Dictionary)
  • In Scott The Woz's video on E3 2021, Scott highlights the problem with Microsoft/Bethesda's showcases not having gameplay previews to back up their new titles announcements, asking, "Raise your hand if you remember the name of the new game by Avalanche announced in this press conference." Cue someone raising their hand right in front of Scott, much to his dismay.
    Scott: Come on, I was trying to make a point!
  • From Zero Punctuation:
    • At the start of his review of Cuphead
      Yahtzee: Viewers, do you think there's something wrong with me?
      (At least eight hands go up)
      Yahtzee: ...Rhetorical question. Hands down, please.
    • In his Top 5 video for 2020, after giving Battletoads (2020) third place on the Worst list:
      Yahtzee: God, is there anything worse than a bad game that thinks it’s funny?
      Viewer: Pustular psoriasis?
      Yahtzee: Oh, maybe.
      Viewer: The remaining two games on your list?

    Real Life 
  • The most notorious Real Life example in history: "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" Naturally, four of Henry II's knights mistook it for a contract on Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and did something that would make Henry regret that comment for the rest of his life.
  • Harold Wilson, British Prime Minister in the 1960s once gave a speech in dockyard town of Chatham. Wilson extolled the virtues of the navy, and asked a rhetorical question: "And why am I saying all this?" A heckler from the crowd replied: "Because you are in Chatham!"
  • During the 2002/03 Premier League Season, as his Sunderland side were on their way to recording (at the time) the worst points tally in the league's history, manager Howard Wilkinson attempted to shut down a crowd of journalists by asking them how many England caps they had. One of the journalists just so happened to be 1966 World Cup winner Jimmy Armfield, who promptly shot back, "Forty-three, actually, Howard". Wilkinson saw the funny side.
  • Formula One drivers have had lots of these, usually off track:
    • For a while in the UK, it was common for police officers to pull over speeding drivers and rhetorically ask them, "Who do you think you are, Stirling Moss?" Moss himself once recalled being asked that exact question by an officer who had pulled him over for speeding and didn't recognise him. He apparently had some difficulty convincing the officer that yes, he really was Stirling Moss.
    • There's a (probably apocryphal) story that during the 1992 British Grand Prix weekend, a policeman near the Silverstone circuit pulled over a speeding motorist and asked him, "Who do you think you are, Nigel Mansell?", to which the motorist replied, "No, my name is Ayrton Senna."
    • After winning the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was jokingly asked on the podium at the time by former driver Mark Webber what he had for breakfast which gave him his speed. Bottas genuinely answered "Porridge," causing fans to claim that porridge is the source of his performance.
  • An old lawyer's maxim is, "Never ask a question you don't already know the answer to." This has a few caveats, though:
    • On direct examination, witnesses for your side cannot be asked leading questions (i.e. ones that suggest a particular answer). Consequently, if a lawyer hasn't thoroughly gone through all possible questions with a witness, their own witness might surprise them with an unexpected interpretation of the facts.
    • On cross-examination of a witness for the opposing side, it is sometimes necessary to ask a question one thinks one knows the answer to, but a more complex answer awaits. These are the single biggest frustration to an attorney.
  • It turns out if you leave a rhetorical question lying around in an example entry on This Very Wiki, somebody WILL come around and answer it. They're best avoided as bait for violations of the "Repair, Don't Respond" guideline, don't you agree?


Video Example(s):


Anything Else I Need To Know?

After Jewel finds out at the worst possible time that Blu cannot fly she rhetorically asks him if there is anything else she needs to know Blu gives the answer not realizing it's a rhetorical question by saying that he can't fly, he picks his beaks and every once in a while he pees in the bird bath.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / RhetoricalQuestionBlunder

Media sources: