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Stupid Question Bait

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A person who is making a presentation at a panel is taking questions and makes the mistake of asking "Any questions?" instead of asking for questions relevant to the topic at hand. An audience member promptly Comically Misses the Point and asks an irrelevant question.

If the person taking questions then asks specifically for questions related to the topic at hand, it's common for either nobody to have any questions or for someone who already asked an off-topic question to repeat the same question and reword it so it's faintly related to the topic.

A variant is where a character asks 'any questions', then places a criteria on the questions that causes everyone to retract their question, usually depicted with Hands Go Down.

Ask a Stupid Question... is a related concept.


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    Fan Works 
  • Chapter nine of Bait and Switch has Admiral Amnell Kree finish a mission briefing and ask if there are any questions. Viewpoint character Eleya snidely wonders aloud where they got an operational codename like "Blue Friday".
    Kree: Random number generator. Any pertinent questions?
  • In Broken Wings Harry asks this while teaching a first-year Gryffindor/Slytherin Potions class as Snape's apprentice and receives questions from the Gryffindors about Quidditch, his Animagus form and whether Snape has retired.

    Film — Animation 
  • Subverted in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa when Skipper was organizing the newly recruited (by Phil & Mason) monkeys to repair their plane.
    Skipper: (addressing the Monkeys) Stop Lollygagging, and let's get to work. We'll divide into three groups. Group Alpha, you're in charge of sheet metal fabrication. Group Bronson, you'll handle assembly. Group George Peppard, you'll handle craft services. Any questions?
    Mason: (about to say something)
    Skipper: (interrupts him) Good! Now let's get to work!
  • Mulan has Yao replying to a last minute inquiry with "Does this costume make me look fat?" A loud punch follows.

    Film — Live Action 
  • At the start of Jurassic Park III, Alan Grant has just finished giving a talk about prehistoric Raptors to an audience, and asks if anyone has any questions. Hands go up all over the room. Grant adds that he means any questions that aren't about Jurassic Park, and most of the hands go down. When he further specifies that he doesn't want questions about the events of Jurassic Park II ("Which I did not witness") either, there are hardly any hands left.
  • In Aliens, after a meeting about the lifeforms that were spotted on the planet surface before they go in for a rescue mission. Lieutenant Gorman asks if there are any questions and Private Hudson asks "How do I get out of this chicken shit outfit?"

  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: Kimberly Magic Academy Headmistress Esmeralda gives the freshman class a dramatic Dare to Be Badass speech about the fact that only 80% of students survive to graduate. Once she finishes, she offers to take questions... and Nanao Hibiya pipes up to suggest a remedy for the headache Esmeralda looks like she's having.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Friends: When Ross started to teach at the university, he was nervous about making a good impression and spoke in an English accent. He later tried to phase in out during one or two sentences. When Ross asked for questions, everybody raised their arm. One guy bluntly asked about the accent. Ross tried to be cool, but said what happened. When he asked for more questions, more people raised their arm. When he specified he meant about palaeontology and the stuff he taught, all put it down. This presumably happens again when moments later, Rachel stormed into the class and berated him for lying to her about having annulled their drunken marriage from Vegas.
  • On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon opens up to audience questions as a way of getting everyone back on topic after the group's panel on the ethical use of science in the 21st century turned into everyone squabbling as the panel consists entirely of friends and couples. Unfortunately, the person in that audience to respond was their friend Penny, who only wanted to add additional commentary to the squabbling. It was probably his fault for not prefacing it with "questions that actually have something to do with ethics, and not our personal problems".
    • Another episode uses the "rephrase the question" version. Sheldon is in the dining car of a train, and the waiter asks "Any questions?" Sheldon, being a train enthusiast, asks a very detailed and technical question about the car itself. When the waiter clarifies that he meant questions about the food, Sheldon responds "Is this food being served on a car which..." and repeats his previous question.
  • On M*A*S*H, Hawkeye gets a little pixilated from lack of sleep. He ingresses on a talk Frank is having with South Korean nationals on why the U.S. is there. When Frank asks for questions, Hawkeye raises his hand which Frank tries to ignore.
    Hawkeye: Aw, come on, Frank. I have a question.
    Frank: (grudgingly) Captain Pierce.
    Hawkeye: Why are we here?
  • In Parks and Recreation, whenever holding a public forum or announcing an event on television were the floor opens to the community to ask questions, they may ask these types of questions. This happens to Ron once when he is announcing, on television, information about an upcoming event and people phone in with questions completely off topic (e.g. woodworking or tips on cooking meat).

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One Dilbert strip had the Pointy-Haired Boss end a meeting by opening the floor, reminding his employees that there are no stupid questions. One of the generic guys asks "If you crossed the International Date Line on your birthday, would you still get presents?"; the boss thinks to himself "Great, there are stupid questions and I don't know the answers to them."
  • Agatha Crumm: This happened in one strip where Agatha showed board members a pie chart. When asked if they had questions, one asked if they could get pizza.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • A Web Animation parody of Resident Evil featured this trope when Wesker asked for questions.
    Wesker: Any questions?
    Chris Redfield: Why are you always wearing glasses?
    Wesker: Any smart questions?

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Marge vs. the Monorail" when Lyle Lanley is doing a presentation in Lisa's class.
      Lyle Lanley: Now, I'm here to answer any questions you children may have about the monorail.
      Kid: Can it outrun The Flash?
      Lyle Lanley: You bet.
      Kid: Can Superman outrun The Flash?
      Lyle Lanley: Eh, sure, why not.
    • When ex-president George Bush moves to the neighbourhood, Homer pulls a prank on him, gluing a clown wig to his head before he has to give a speech:
      Bush ...and that's why I will continue to oppose teen alcoholism. Any questions?
      (Everyone in the room raises their hand)
      Bush: Bearing in mind, I already explained about the wig...
      (Everyone lowers their hand)
    • When NASA announced that either Homer or Barney will be sent to space, different members of the press keep asking the pertinent but unhelpful question "is this joke?" After having enough of this, the NASA rep says "and no more questions as to whether this is a joke or not!" Everyone lowers their hand.
  • Clerks: The Animated Series: When the chief of police is holding a press conference about a suspected outbreak while wearing an Officer Big Mac costume, the reporters are more interested in asking him questions related to McDonalds.
    Steve-Dave: Will this administration ever bring the Hamburglar to justice?
    Big Mac: No... Yes. Look, does anybody have any questions about the virus that could kill us all?
    Reporter: Can the virus kill the Grimace?
    Big Mac: Nothing can kill the Grimace. All right, we're done here.
  • A somewhat provoked case in South Park after George W. Bush explains his theory of Saddam Hussein being sent to heaven after Satan broke up with him:
    President Bush: Question?
    Crowd member: Are you high, or just incredibly stupid?
    President Bush: I assure you. I am not high.
  • Family Guy:
    • Stewie goes to a Star Trek convention because he wants to see the actors from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He finds a Q&A session where all the questions are completely unrelated to the show. Stewie is annoyed because the questions aren't about Star Trek. Ultimately he decides to use his time machine to kidnap the cast and force them to hang out with him.
      Fan 1: Um, often times my household's sponges accumulate an awful amount of build-up. What can I do to prevent this?
      Patrick Stewart: That's an excellent question. It's very important to thoroughly wring out your sponges after every usage. This will prevent the accumulation of grime and bacteria. A dry sponge is a happy sponge.
      Stewie: That's not a Star Trek question!
      Fan 2: I have a question for Jonathan Frakes. I have this itch on the back of my leg. And I can't figure out if it's a bug bite or dry skin?
      Frakes: Do you take hot showers?
      Fan 2: Yes.
      Frakes: Dry skin.
      Fan 2: Thanks.
      Stewie: These aren't Star Trek questions, what the hell?
      Fan 3: I have a question for Gates McFadden. I've got an artesian well on my property and the water pressure is lousy. Any suggestions?
      McFadden: I would check the point first, before re-priming it. But remember that the summer months take a particular toll on any region's aquafer, depending on the local climate.
      Stewie: This is horseshit!
      Moderator: And that's the last question.
    • Appeared in a Cutaway Gag to one time when Peter had cow udders. He's making a presentation to a business meeting.
      Peter: Any questions?
      (all hands go up)
      Peter: Not about my udders.
      (all hands go down)
      Peter: All right, looks like we have a deal!
  • In the Garfield and Friends episode "All About Odie", Garfield lets the audience ask questions before beginning the lecture, only to be asked, "Is wrestling fixed?"
    Garfield: I should've asked, "Are there any intelligent questions?"
  • This happens Once an Episode on Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain. The Brain explains the plan of the episode, then asks, "Any questions?" This prompts Pinky to ask a completely irrelevant question. It isn't until the end of the episode when the Brain answers the question. For example, when Pinky asked why Fred Flintstone keeps ordering giant ribs every week, the Brain explains the concept of end titles at the end of the episode.

    Real Life 
  • Groucho Marx, who loathed pretension and could not abide the occult, was once coaxed into attending a seance. He sat, quiet and respectful, as the Swami stared into a crystal ball, called up departed souls from the beyond and answered queries from his guests in an eerie monotone. After a long spell of omniscience the sorcerer intoned, "My medium is growing tired. There is time for one more question." Groucho asked it. "What is the capital of North Dakota?"
  • At a Democratic primary debate at UNLV for the 2008 convention, one college student who got in had a whole list of questions. The people running the debate made her pick this one for Hillary Clinton: "Do you like diamonds or pearls?" (She liked them both.)
  • Much earlier, Hillary Clinton's husband Bill was famously asked "boxers or briefs?" at a town hall meeting sponsored by MTV. (For the record: "usually briefs.")


Video Example(s):


Nanao's headache remedy

"Ceremony". Headmistress Esmeralda finishes her greeting speech to the new class of Kimberly Magic Academy first-years and offers to take questions. Nanao Hibiya not-so-helpfully pipes up to suggest a remedy for the headmistress's apparent headache, to the chagrin of Oliver Horn and amusement of everyone else.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / StupidQuestionBait

Media sources: