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What Would X Do?

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"Sir, look outside, do you see that man sitting in the green car? That's my dad. Let me tell you a story about a dream, a boy's dream: A man promised to buy his son a car if I brought up three A's and two thousand dollars. I already have the two thousand and two A's. Your B minus? Poof! Dream gone. Kaput. Now sir, ask yourself... what would Jesus do?"
Sam Witwicky (negotiating for an A- and a car), Transformers
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When a character quotes someone's advice or asks what that person would do in a situation similar to theirs. That someone can be a religious figure of choice, mentors, someone known to be especially suited for such a situation, or even simply someone they idolize in general. Some characters have a tendency to do this all the time, as much as Once an Episode. (The Lancer sometimes describes The Hero in this manner when he finally gets a shot with The Leader ball.)

Because of the "What Would Jesus Do?" material in Christian homes, and other serious uses of the idea, this is an Undead Horse Trope. Opposite of Hitler Ate Sugar, when someone argues (fallaciously) that anything an evil person does is considered evil.

The Paragon, Mentor Archetype, Old Master, Ideal Hero, and anybody on the Mentor Index could potentially be the X in the equation. Of course, depending on how good a person is at judging character and what kind of values they have, theoretically anyone could be the object of imitation. It's the Sincerest Form of Flattery, after all.

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Even an Anti-Role Model could be invoked, in a bit of an inversion— "What would that guy do? Go do the opposite of that!"

Compare Jesus Was Way Cool and Real Men Love Jesus for people who specifically admire the Man himself.


Example subpages:

Other examples

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Serious examples:

    Comedy 
  • Jeff Dunham's puppet Walter hates his wife. So he said that one time he asked: "What would Jesus do?" The answer?
    "I tried to turn her into a fish"
  • When Daniel Tosh was dealing with a rude person talking on the cell phone in a movie theatre, he looked at his WWJD bracelet. So he set him on fire and sent him to Hell.
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    Music 
  • Alan Jackson's song "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere". The X here is Jimmy Buffett, who then joins in to sing the next refrain.
    Buffett: Funny you should ask, Al. I'd say, 'Pour me something tall and strong ...'
  • Bruce Robison's song "What Would Willie Do" is both a parody of WWJD and a tribute to Willie Nelson. ("He loves all the people, no matter their races / Hell, he even made a hit country song with Julio Iglesias")
  • Cult satire punk band The Causey Way with their album WWCD. The C here stands for Causey.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Common in lay religion. Protestant Christians ask themselves what Jesus would do, Catholics ask themselves what Jesus or the appropriate saint would do, Buddhists ask themselves what Buddha or the appropriate Boddhisatva would do, and so on.
    • Although it was pointed out by Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin that the inverse question ("Would you want to do X in Jesus' presence?") is slightly irrelevant, as most devout Christians would want to do nothing other than fall on their knees and pray in Jesus's presence.
    • The inverse question is also a bit of a moot point, as according to most orthodox Christian doctrine you're always in Jesus's presence. That's how omniscience and omnipresence work. Feel free to either rejoice or shudder at the implications according to your preference.
  • In Pastafarianism there's "What Would the Flying Spaghetti Monster Do" (and the less common "What Would a Pirate Do").

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations, Edgeworth is able to put the final pieces of the puzzle in the last case together by thinking to himself (paraphrased) 'That man who could turn around victories from the brink of defeat...what would he do?' This makes him realize that he needs to "turn around" his thinking, and thus that the blood on the Samurai Dogs pack might not be from the victim, but that it could be — and is — from the murderer.
  • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, some time after the second murder, the victim's best friend refuses to forgive the person who, despite not being the killer, helped cause the murder. In response, the person in question attempts Seppuku and is taken away for medical treatment. Afterward, a third party asks the victim's best friend what the victim would do in that situation.

    Web Animation 
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device shows us Rogal Dorn's pain-love meditation room which has a W.W.T.E.O.M.D? (What Would the Emperor of Mankind Do?) poster on the wall.
  • DucktaleZ has an extra cartoon after the first episode in which the Author Avatar acts as a director and does auditions to find someone to play the role of Scrooge McDuck. After none of the candidates work out, his assistant asks "What would George Lucas do?" This gives him the idea of doind a computer-generated Scrooge (who somehow becomes an actual person) for the Oscars.
  • Minilife TV: In "Chris and Ian Shamelessly Promote Themselves", when Conan asks Zach (disguised as Ian) to play the trumpet for the show, Zach asks himself what Ian would do. Ian tells him to go for it in his mind, which doesn't pay off since Zach is bad at playing the trumpet.

    Web Videos 
  • In Ten Little Roosters, Miles asks the question "What would Ruby Rose do?" when he attempts to figure out how to survive being trapped with a killer. His answer? Suit up in Lindsay's Ruby Rose costume.

    Real Life 
  • Common in Moral Philosophy. Many thought-experiments are based on some variant of "What would The Omniscient do?" or "What would a totally impartial person choose?"
  • There is a legal concept called a "reasonable person". The question "what would a reasonable person have done/felt/thought in such a situation?" can be used to analyze whether a defendant's actions were justified, whether mitigating circumstances can apply, whether someone acted recklessly or not, and so on.
  • Probably common way of analyzing various conundrums among anyone with a bit of imagination. Pick your favorite idol or fictional character and ask yourself what she would do. The problem there, of course, is "What if your favorite character is The Joker or The Master or someone?"
  • There was a canonical movement involving bracelets with the shield, inviting teenagers to ask "What would Superman do?"
  • Many alleged journalists covering Apple claim that whatever the company is doing is not what Steve Jobs would have done. This is especially baseless because Steve Jobs not only groomed his successors specifically for their current positions but also specifically instructed them not to waste time wondering what he would do.
    • Part of this is to specifically avoid the problems that Disney had after Walt Disney's death. His successors got caught in the trap of 'What Would Walt Do?' and the company stagnated for almost 20 years. It was on the verge of being bought and broken up for parts when Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Frank Wells were brought in to lead the company, bringing about the Disney Renaissance.

Parodies and Subversions

    Advertising 
  • And, of course, one of the ballsiest parodies was a reasonably successful series of commercials for Subway: What Would Jared Do?
  • Another Jewish variant: there are "WWJD?" T-shirts where the J stands for Jon. Jon Stewart.
  • A spot for Space Ghost Coast to Coast had SG in line to renew his superhero license and his talk show host license. As he ponders which of the two separate lines to get into first, he wonders "What would Burt Ward do?"

    Comedy 
  • Inverted by Mitch Benn in one show, where he describes how, after a gig, he was in the Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults, and overheard two audience members saying he "really wants to be Jack Black". And the only thing that stopped him bursting out of the cubicle, trousers around his ankles, and saying "I was doing this for ten fucking years before anyone had heard of Jack fucking Black!" was the thought that this was exactly what Jack Black would do.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Dilbert, Dogbert advises Ratbert to live by the philosophy "What would Dogbert do?"
  • Footrot Flats:
    • In a couple of strips, the Dog is trying to take care of the farm while Wal is away and whenever something goes wrong he asks himself what Wal would do.
      The Dog: Oh no! A weta snatched a baby duckling! Wal's not here. What would he do?" "YA &#^%@& WETA!!!"
    • Another one, involving large numbers of stinging insects, had him conclude that Wal would... hide in the outhouse with the newspaper.

    Jokes 
  • A man walks into a store selling WWJD hats for $30. He asks what WWJD stands for, and is told it means "What Would Jesus Do?" To which he answers, "Well, he certainly wouldn't have paid $30 for that hat!"

    Music 
  • According to Mitch Benn:
    If you got a problem,
    And you don't know where to turn,
    And nobody's advice is helping you,
    Don't run 'round like a chicken,
    Don't fall into despair,
    Just ask yourself:
    What would Elvis do?
  • The Axis of Awesome wrote a song called "What Would Jesus Do?" making fun of this trope - it points out that most people CAN'T do whatever it is that Jesus would do.

    Myths & Religion 

     Radio 
  • In the John Finnemore's Double Acts episode "Here's What We Do", Gavin generally follows the lead of Pidge, although his gran has given him a "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal on the subject. At the end of the episode Pidge does, in fact, jump of a bridge, but Gavin stands his ground and handles himself quite well, which Pidge is impressed by.
    Gavin: I just thought "What would Pidge do?"
    Pidge: (Beat) I jumped off the bridge.
    Gavin: Yeah, but if you hadn't done that.

    Theatre 

    Web Animation 
  • In the Homestar Runner cartoon "A Dumpy Tale", Coach Z tries to insert characters called "The Dancing Brothers" into Strong Sad's story unsuccessfully. Later, when he (falsely) believes he's killed Strong Sad, he starts to panic and wonders what the Dancing Brothers would do. After thinking for a moment, he does exactly what the Dancing Brothers would do: sing a cheerful song and dance away from the scene.

    Web Videos 
  • Appears adorably in Awkward.:
    Lester: When times get tough and I don't know what to do, I think to myself... what would Link do?

    Real Life 
  • The Chinese Cookie asks WWCS? or What would Confucius say?
  • What Would Kira Do?
  • There was a fairly thriving Browncoat fandom thing of having bracelets which said 'WWMRD' or, 'What would Malcolm Reynolds Do' (be awesome, and shoot people, mostly). Fans at Dragon-Con loved it when Jewel Staite gave that advice to Nathan Fillion.
  • WWJD: Who wants Jack Daniels?
  • At a condominium management meeting when one unit owner was droning on and on about a trivial issue of no importance to anybody but himself, the Association President leaned back in his seat and asked the ceiling "What Would Revy Do?"


 
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What Einstein Would Say

When Nerv needs money fast, he turns to a wise voice for motivation... or, so his dream-logic-y self thinks.

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