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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 (2007)

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.

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. See also Don't Do Anything I Wouldn't Do (a Stock Phrase that means you should behave yourself by following someone else's restraints) and You Remind Me of X.


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Serious examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach, Ukitake goes to tell Byakuya of the news that Rukia (Byakuya's adopted sister and Ukitake's subordinate)'s execution date has been pushed up, but Byakuya doesn't seem to care, callously telling Ukitake that it shouldn't make a difference if Ukitake loses another subordinate. Ukitake then thinks about Kaien, and what he would have done, wondering if he would have attacked Byakuya in a fit of rage. Ukitake knows that a single person wouldn't be able to get a stay of execution for Rukia, but suspects that Kaien would have tried anyway, if he hadn't resorted to more extreme measures to save Rukia.
  • The protagonist of Change 123 always thinks of the advice of his favorite hero Kamen Raider when a tough situation (or temptation) comes up.
  • Tohru from Fruits Basket, quoting her mother.
  • In Gate, several JSDF members consider whether or not to assist the Dark Elves to deal with the Flame Dragon ravaging their land, when assisting them would both violate their orders and possibly lead to a political disaster. They all ask, "What would Itami do?" Itami would say Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!, which they eventually do.
  • Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045. In "NET PEOPLE", Purin Ezaki is confronting a hacker who starts getting uppity and demands to see her warrant. Purin wonders how Mr. Batou would handle this situation...then punches the hacker in the face.
  • Hikaru in Hikaru no Go would think about how Sai would play in his situation when he did not have a good move.
  • Himawari from Himawari!, quoting Denzou from her favorite TV show.
  • Julian in Legend of the Galactic Heroes would often think of how Yang Wen-li, his guardian and role model, would solve the problems he was facing at the moment after he took over command in the wake of Yang's death.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Midoriya tends to default to trying to do what All Might would do in any given situation, which leads to his self-destructive Chronic Hero Syndrome impulses. He steps away from this after his reckless use of One For All injures his arms so badly that he's at risk of paralyzing them if he uses 100% Smashes repeatedly again.
    • Uraraka often wonders what Midoriya would do when she's in trouble. While part of this because of her obvious crush on him, it also shows how he is growing into The Paragon.
    • In an anime-only segment, Yaoyorozu wonders what Midoriya would do when she, Tsuyu, Shoji, and Jiro are caught in a trap by an opposing school during the Provisional License Exam.
  • My-Otome:
    • Arika, quoting her grandmother.
    • In Sifr, Shirow, who is strongly implied to be Arika's father, does the same thing for his grandmother.
  • Naruto: Gaara wonders in Chapter 465, "What would Naruto do?" with regards to Sasuke; he has a desire to save him due to their being similar, but his duties as a Kage compel him to bring Sasuke to justice.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion gives us this trope with a side of Clone Angst.
    Rei Q: What would Rei Ayanami do at a time like this?
    Asuka: Hell if I know! The question is, what do you want to do?!
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, many decisions are influenced by what the characters believe Kamina would do in that situation.
    • Admittedly, the first time this happened, the conclusion was "blunder into an incredibly obvious trap".
  • Throughout the anime of Trigun, Wolfwood watches Vash work through every situation in an idealistic cloud, naively trusting people he shouldn't and avoiding lethal attacks in gunfights, nearly getting killed consistently yet always solving the problem with a minimum of bloodshed. Near the end, facing his own deadly situation, Wolfwood decides to try this method of doing things. He gets killed.

  • 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.
  • Jeff Dunham's puppet Walter hates his wife. So he said that one time he asked: "What would Jesus do?" The answer?
    Walter: I tried to turn her into a fish.

    Comic Books 
  • From Batgirl (2009): "What would...anyone else do in this situation?"
  • Current Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes frequently tries to work out what the past Blue Beetles would do, to the point of having WWTKD (What Would Ted Kord Do?) on his bedroom wall. Jaime is kind of adorable.
  • During Jonathan Hickman's run on Fantastic Four, Valeria discovered the existence of the Council of Reeds (Knight Templar counterparts of Reed Richards who plotted to control the multiverse). Her reaction to this crisis: "I asked myself, 'What would Uncle Doom do?'"
  • In Impulse, Bart nearly drives himself mad trying to follow Supes example after Superman decides to be a hero at all times never taking any breaks. Max gets Bart to ask himself what the Flash would do instead which helps.
  • Punisher: The Platoon: The incompetent Captain Cuong is reduced to muttering "What would he do" when informed that an isolated American force has been sighted, "he" being the actually talented General Letrong Giap. Predictably, he did exactly the opposite of what Giap wanted by sending all available troops (although in his defense he was deliberately given false information on their numbers), and the Vietnamese forces are slaughtered when the Americans manage to call artillery on their position.

    Fan Works 
  • The Dimensional Drifter: During a conversation with Johan, Judai suggest doing exactly what Austin O'Brien would do if he found himself in a similar situationExplanation. Johan promptly shuts it down because last time O'Brien found himself in a situation like that, be fought Judai's Superpowered Evil Side by himself and lost.
  • In this Glee fanfic, Kurt walks into the choir room only to find that Mr. Schue and a few of the glee club members have been taken hostage by a crazy kid, with a gun, who intends to play Russian Roulette with them. Kurt asks himself, "What would Sue Sylvester do?", and then proceeds to snark and manipulate the kid into giving up the gun.
  • Heroes of the New World; Izuku gets captured by Ulti, who announces her plans to forcibly make Izuku her boyfriend. Yamato (watching this), asks what Oden would do in this situation. Her solution is to strip down to her underwear, dance through the halls while singing a stupid song, then smash Page One upside the head with her kanabo, distracting Ulti enough for Yamato and Izuku to escape in a Smoke Out.
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon gets his sister to go home by asking her, "What would a defender of justice do?". It actually works.
  • In Not Quite Heroes, Shego is at a loss to track down Dr. Drakken after he gets kidnapped. She kidnaps Ron, and when Kim shows up to rescue him she asks her to explain how she found him.
  • The Red Dragon's Saber: One of the reasons why Artoria Pendragon decides to help Issei Hyoudou is she knows Shirou Emiya would do it if he were in this situation.
  • In Winter War, Lieutenant Iba figures out how to defeat Rubadon by asking what his mom, the former lieutenant of Third Division, would have done about it: use kidou.

    Films — Animated 
  • From The Boss Baby: "In every situation, I ask myself WWSCBFBBD: 'What Would Super Colossal Big Fat Boss Baby Do?'"
  • In The Croods, when Grug needs to get back to his family, he asks himself "What would Guy do? What would Guy do?" Then he starts asking himself, "What would I do?"
  • In Finding Dory, Marlin and Nemo need to cross an open space at an aquarium. Marlin asks what Dory would do in such a situation, then starts going into an overly-detailed plan that Nemo immediately points out sounds more like something Marlin would do. Marlin then comes up with a new plan that relies more on luck and being Crazy Enough to Work, which Nemo agrees sounds more like Dory.
  • When Joy and Sadness get lost in the recesses of Riley's mind in Inside Out, the rest of Riley's emotions (Fear, Anger, and Disgust) try to control Riley as they think Joy would, with disastrous results: Disgust acts sarcastic, Fear is doubtful and uncertain, and Anger is rude and defensive.
  • In The LEGO Batman Movie, when Robin infiltrates Joker Manor by himself, he asks himself what Batman would do. According to him, that would be not to listen to anyone else, be mean to people, cause as much destruction as possible, talk in a really low, gravelly voice, and go in alone. Batman, who is forced to watch but can't do anything due to being trapped in the Phantom Zone, is horrified by this as he now views what he'd do is terrible.
  • In Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Daffy Duck asks "What would I do? What would Damian Drake do? What would Duck Dodgers do?" before realizing that he is Duck Dodgers.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut features the song "What Would Brian Boitano Do?" as the boys look for inspiration to rescue Terrence and Philip.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One of the taglines for Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay is "What would NPH do?"
  • In Johnson Family Vacation, the titular family is on a road trip; when Dorothy calls out husband Nate for picking up an erratic hitchhiker, he says simply "Baby, what would Jesus do?"
  • Maverick always quotes his Pappy. His Pappy calls him out at the end for the fact he didn't say half the stuff Maverick says he did.
  • Persuasion (2022): Wentworth admits to Anne that he often thought "What would Anne do?" during dark moments at sea.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End advises whelpish William Turner to think like him, Jack, in order to manipulate people and get his way. William does so to increasing degrees. Later, when Jack is in over his head, he mutters to himself, "Think like the whelp."
    William: I told myself, "Think like Jack."
    Jack: And this is what you came up with? (throwing corpses tied to barrels overboard to act as a breadcrumb trail)
  • The main character of Woody Allen's film Play It Again, Sam takes his life lessons from Casablanca. Humphrey Bogart's character from that movie appears as a Spirit Advisor.
  • Used dramatically in Martin Scorsese's Silence where Jesuit priests are forced by Feudal Japanese authorities to apostatize or be Forced to Watch as they torture and kill Japanese converts. The Apostate Ferreira (played by Liam Neeson) tells Fr. Rodrigues the protagonist, that even Jesus would apostatize and abjure God in order to spare his flock from undergoing suffering. When Rodrigues is about to step on the Fumie, the ritual act of apostasy in the film, he hears a voice that he believes to be from Jesus himself that it's okay, he can trample on the image of Christ.
  • At one point in Star Trek Into Darkness, Kirk is faced with the decision to either save Spock from a volcano or uphold the Prime Directive. He asks Bones what Spock would do.
    Bones: He'd let you die.
  • In Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Anakin wants to put the gunship down after Padmé falls out instead of continuing to pursue Dooku and trying to save the galaxy. He's so adamant that Obi-Wan practically has to shout him down.
    Obi-Wan: COME TO YOUR SENSES! What do you think Padmé would do if she were in your position?
    Anakin: (Beat) She would do her duty.
  • At a particularly tense moment in Time Chasers, one character asks "What would MacGyver do?" See Mystery Science Theater 3000 under parodies for their response.
  • From A Time to Kill:
    Ellen: Buckley presents his shrink tomorrow and I need a way to bring him down. I keep asking myself "What would Jake do? What would my father do? What would Lucien do?"
    Harry Rex: That's your problem right there. You should be asking yourself "What would Harry Rex do?"
    Ellen: What would he do?
    Harry Rex: Cheat. Cheat like crazy.
And it WORKS.
  • A similar thing happens in the 1997 remake of That Darn Cat!. In order to rescue Patti, Kelso must follow DC's nightly route; hence, he must think like DC.


By Author:

  • Robert A. Heinlein:
    • In Citizen of the Galaxy, a Colonel states a couple times that when faced with a difficult situation, he thinks of his former commander and asks himself "What would Col. Baslim do?"
    • If This Goes On—. Despite living in a religious dictatorship, the protagonist John Lyle doesn't ask What Would Jesus Do? but what would his more pragmatic friend Zeb do.

By Title:

  • In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck always gets down on himself, thinking that Tom Sawyer could do it better. However, once Tom arrives on the scene, his overcomplicated, grandiose plans just make the situation worse.
  • In the American Girls book Felicity Saves the Day, the title character has to convince her father's runaway apprentice Ben to turn himself in. When her grandfather asks her how she managed it, she tells him, "I said what I thought you would say."
  • When Fat Charlie of Anansi Boys starts trying to embrace his magical half-Trickster God side, he does so by internally asking himself what would his father Anansi or his Polar Opposite Twin Spider do in his situation. He stops doing that as his Character Development progresses and being more like a Trickster God Reality Warper Guile Hero starts coming more naturally to him.
  • Gabe from Beautiful Music for Ugly Children often wonders what Elvis Presley would do, especially when he's trying to work up the courage to do something.
  • Candide: Candide frequently mulls over how "if Master Pangloss were alive, surely, he would find a reasonable explanation for this."
  • When Renn is forcefully brought to the Island at the Edge of the World by her demon-possessed half-brother Naiginn in the seventh book of Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, she surprises herself by wondering what would their late mother Seshru the Viper Mage do. She ends up taking an example from Seshru's skills at manipulation to deceive Naiginn in order to escape at the right moment.
  • In one of the Ciaphas Cain books, Cain (THE HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) is getting an after-action report from Lieutenant Jenit Sulla, who hero-worships him and comments something along the lines of, "I just thought, 'What would the Commissar do?'" Cain promptly quips, "And then did the opposite, I hope."
  • Discworld:
    • In Men at Arms, when trapped between angry hordes of dwarfs and trolls, Lance-Constables Detritus and Cuddy wonder what Carrot would do. Unfortunately, they aren't him.
      Cuddy: What would Corporal Carrot do at a time like this?
      Detritus: He say, you bad people, make me angry, you stop toot sweet.
      Cuddy: And then they'd go away, right?
      Detritus: Yeah.
      Cuddy: What would happen if we tried that?
      Detritus: We look in gutter for our heads.
    • In The Last Hero, Ponder Stibbons has to come up with an emergency solution to an Airship flight problem. Problem is, the senior wizards all want to help. To come up with a way to divert their attention, his line of thought went what would Lord Vetinari do? And it works; he suggests they form a committee, and get back to him once they've decided something, which is how Vetinari got rid of people offering their opinions earlier.
    • In Eric, Rincewind is stuck (again) and tries to think "what would Lavaeolus *do?". And, once he has disposed of the reasonable objection that Lavaeolus would not have been in this situation in the first place, he manages to reason his way to a possible solution.
  • A chapter of the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Gallifrey Chronicles, in which Trix finds herself facing an alien invasion on her own, is titled "WWDWD?"
  • In the first of the Dr. Watson mysteries by Robert Ryan, Watson thinks that he's got to stop being the sidekick and asking what Sherlock Holmes would do, and stand on his own two feet. He quite likes this thought.
  • In a short story of The Dresden Files, when by herself, Molly makes decisions by asking, "What Would Harry Do?" The answer, naturally, is to make lots of Shout Outs and kick open doors.
  • In the Faction Paradox series, the tendency for people to think this is treated as invoking the people or characters they want to act like. As such, it's a key part of the Faction themselves and the Remote colonists.
  • An unusual form of this trope pops up in Fate/strange Fake. Flat Escardos operates on a Blue-and-Orange Morality and knows it perfectly well, but defiantly sticks to the ethics of his beloved professor Lord El-Melloi II, who was the only one to ever believe in him and save him from the Despair Event Horizon. As a result, Flat often finds himself pondering this trope and struggling to keep his darker impulses in check.
  • Gaara Hiden: A Sandstorm Mirage: Upon finding himself unable to start a conversation with Hakuto, Gaara follows one of Naruto's tactics and asks her about something as trivial as her hobbies. Amusingly enough, it works. Hakuto begins to open up to him and sees him as a gentle person.
  • Gods and Warriors:
    • After Pirra escapes from the House of the Goddess only to end up in Thalakrea in The Burning Shadow, she wonders what her Outsider friend Hylas would do to survive on the volcano island ruled by the Crows.
    • When Hylas' former friend Telamon tries to think of how to make progress in finding the dagger of Koronos in The Crocodile Tomb, he asks himself what would his uncle Pharax or grandfather Koronos do. It then occurs to him that he doesn't wonder what would his father Thestor do because he has decided his kind father is weaker than the rest of their dreaded kin.
  • At one point in the Harry Potter saga, Harry tells Ron that what they need to do is, "... think like Hermione."
  • The 1897 novel In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? is mentioned in The Other Wiki as the source of the modern usage of the phrase. In the novel, the pastor of a church in the railroad town of Raymond challenges his congregation to stop and think "What would Jesus do?" before doing anything, for a full year.
    • The song of this name by Big Tent Revival was the Trope Codifier for the revival of the phrase in the 90s.
  • In the Lord Peter Wimsey book Have His Carcase, Harriet Vane discovers a dead body and thinks: What would Lord Peter, or Robert Templeton (the detective in the books she writes) do?
  • In John Hemry's The Lost Stars novel Tarnished Knight, Iceni, in the first space battle, thinks in frustration that Black Jack would have done something different — then she realizes he would change the odds.
  • Late in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, Luke draws strength from considering how Obi-Wan would act in this situation.
  • History book The Mongol Art of War concludes with a chapter explaining how the modern military has been influenced by the Mongols. The author suggests that modern military commanders should consider WWCD, or What Would Chinggis (Khan) Do? The fact that the majority of the answers would constitute war crimes today doesn't make the advice any less applicable due to the brilliant tactics utilized by the Mongols.
  • Nero Wolfe" In Death of a Dude, Nero Wolfe's sidekick Archie Goodwin encounters a redneck sheriff, who modelled himself basically upon Wyatt Earp, with a twist - when he confronted any problem, he asked himself "What J. Edgar Hoover would do?"
    The product was a personality mess that couldn't have been made any worse even by a trained psychoanalyst.
  • The Pale King: When faced with the prospect of breaking up with his pregnant, loveless girlfriend or aborting their would-be child, Lane Dean wonders what Jesus would do.
  • The Prince: Chapter XIV: To ensure his success, a prince must choose a model that he admires and follow his actions to be like him (but obviously, don't follow his errors).
    But to exercise the intellect the prince should read histories, and study there the actions of illustrious men, to see how they have borne themselves in war, to examine the causes of their victories and defeat, so as to avoid the latter and imitate the former; and above all do as an illustrious man did, who took as an exemplar one who had been praised and famous before him, and whose achievements and deeds he always kept in his mind, as it is said Alexander the Great imitated Achilles, Caesar Alexander, Scipio Cyrus. And whoever reads the life of Cyrus, written by Xenophon, will recognize afterward in the life of Scipio how that imitation was his glory, and how in chastity, affability, humanity, and liberality Scipio conformed to those things which have been written of Cyrus by Xenophon.
  • Will's mantra whenever he comes to a difficult decision in Ranger's Apprentice is asking himself, "What would Halt do?"
  • In Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Rimmer, on discovering he has minus twenty minutes to prepare for his exam, asks himself, as he always does in a crisis "What would Napoleon do?"
    Something French, he decided. Probably munch on a croissant, and decide to invade Russia. Not strictly relevant in this situation.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, all the Lannister siblings have moments where they think back to their father, Tywin, and how he would handle the situation, usually acting accordingly. Jaime and Tyrion occasionally think this way about each other as well, indicating both their closeness and how their opposite skill sets complement each other.
  • In Stephen King's After the End novel The Stand survivors are guided from all over the US to a gathering spot by prophetic dreams. Along the way, one survivor, Larry, gets so used to following the signs and example of another survivor, Harold, who had passed along the route first (and come up with clever solutions to problems) that Larry later admitted that when he encountered obstacles he started wondering "What would Harold do?"
  • Sword of Truth - Terry Goodkind has stated he wants his readers to approach real-world morality by considering what Richard would do. You can start screaming now.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, a few characters attempt to get themselves out of a fix by asking, "What would Miles do?". In Ethan Of Athos, Elli Quinn tries it - "Never do yourself what you can con a professional into doing for you" - and it works quite nicely for her, at least in the short term. In Brothers In Arms, on the other hand, when Miles encounters a group of drunk mercenaries who have somewhat inadvertently taken over a liquor store and claimed to have rigged it with an explosive booby trap, he asks which idiot thought of that idea and is told "I tried to think what you would have done, sir." He groans internally and reflects that, drunk or not, the man is disconcertingly observant.
  • Rand, Perrin, and Mat from The Wheel of Time are all of the opinions that they will never be able to understand women, yet each one thinks that the other two understand women perfectly. It was a common thing in the earlier books especially for one of them to end up in an awkward and/or unpleasant situation with a woman and try to figure out what the other two would do if they were there.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: Tracy realizes that he dealing with an actress that is difficult to manage as he is in the "Game Over" episode and Grizz says that Liz manages to control him so Tracy asks himself "WWRXW [sic] - What would Liz Lemon Do?"
  • In The Adventures of Shirley Holmes, episode "The Case of the Mysterious Message", Shirley gets herself locked inside a safe while looking for her grandmother. Her friends Bo, Bart, and Alicia think she's been kidnapped and set out to look for her, and to decide how to go about this, they wonder "What would Shirley do?"
  • Arrow:
    • Oliver isn't happy about how his kid sister has become a Hard-Drinking Party Girl, and tries to guilt trip her with this trope. It doesn't work.
      Oliver: Thea, do you think this is what Dad would want for you?
      Thea: Dead people don't want anything. It's one of the benefits of being dead.
    • After Laurel Lance dies, a Heroic Wannabe decides to take up her mantle but without the Thou Shalt Not Kill rule that Team Arrow follows. Oliver Queen talks her out of killing Star City's corrupt mayor by asking her what the Black Canary would want her to do.
    • When Taiana becomes corrupted by the power of a magical icon, Oliver grounds her by asking what her dead brother Vlad would want her to do. Given that Oliver killed Vlad (in self defense) he's lucky she didn't reply, "Avenge him!"
    • In Season 7, Oliver travels to an alternate universe and finds Tommy Merlyn about to carry out the Undertaking, this time to avenge the death of their sister Thea. When Oliver asks if Thea would want him to commit mass murder for her sake, he gives an Ironic Echo of the same quote Thea gave Oliver.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Freshman":
    Xander: When it's dark and I'm all alone and I'm scared or freaked out or whatever, I always think "What would Buffy do?" You're my hero. Okay, sometimes when it's dark, and I'm all alone I think "What is Buffy wearing?"
    • Became a Memetic Mutation during and after the series' run, many fans saw this as a popular philosophy, What Would Buffy Do?
  • Doctor Who:
  • Farscape
    • An episode has Moya being threatened, and only Rygel is small enough to fit through a hole and save the day. However, being former royalty, he is unwilling to risk his life. Then Zhaan asks him "What would Rygel I do?", referencing an earlier conversation in which Rygel was talking with pride about his distant ancestor. Without a word, Rygel walks into the hole.
    • Zigzagged in "Revenging Angel". Harvey urges John Crichton to avenge himself on D'Argo who accidentally put him in a coma. John rejects the idea as that wouldn't be what Captain Kirk would do. Harvey points out that Kirk was savage when he had to be, but John replies that This Is Reality and he has to live with his decisions.
  • In House of Anubis, one scene has Amber asking "What would Victoria Beckham do?"
  • Tendou in Kamen Rider Kabuto ("Grandmother said this...")
  • In Part One of the Leverage season one finale, Nate and Sophie know that Sterling has them figured out, and pull off the rescue by asking "What would Hardison/Parker do?" They decide they would use electronics to blow out the mooks' eardrums and jump off a really tall building, which do seem like very Hardison and Parkerish plans.
  • Life (2007). At the end of one episode, a young woman finds out her father killed the park ranger who was her mentor. She promptly aims a rifle at him. When Crews asks her "What would [mentor] do?" she promptly replies "Kill him." Crews then asks "What would he want you to do?" (Beat) She lowers the gun.
  • Despite The Middleman being almost entirely Affectionate Parody, Lacey is sincere when she asks "WWWWD? What would Wendy Watson do?"
  • NCIS uses this with Gibbs a few times. Partly because most of the cast think of him as a Physical God and partly because he's just about psychic.
    • Once when Abby faces a computer conundrum, she asks "What would McGee do?"
  • Nowhere Boys: How Jake uses Andy's Bear Grylls obsession to talk him into searching a dumpster for food, despite his germphobia.
  • Odd Squad:
    • In "Moustache Confidential", Olive asks herself in exasperation when attempting to find out the address where the Re-Visible-inator is hidden: "What would Odd Todd do?" Rivka answers in kind with "Something odd", which spurs Olive to have a realization that Odd Todd would pick an odd number for an address. Sure enough, she deduces that he's at 35 Main Street, and she ends up being right on the money.
    • A variant occurs in "First Day" when Olympia, remorseful for giving up on the case, tells Otis that doing so isn't something that neither Olive nor Otto, her idols, would have done. He comforts her by telling her that while he doesn't know either of them, nothing goes easy the first time and you can always try your best.
  • There's a throwaway line like this in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive for the series' 15th anniversary Reunion Show, when Alpha Six wonders "What would Zordon do?!" (The answer is "Observe the viewing globe and let the Rangers figure it out," of course, but the whole reason Alpha is there is because the Rangers are absolutely useless in this situation.)
  • The Professionals has a variation on the trope. In "Involvement", Doyle has fallen in love with the Girl of the Week and is upset when she falls under suspicion of being connected to the drug ring they're investigating. Cowley admits the evidence is circumstantial but asks: "What would you do?" as in: "Would you cease to investigate this under normal circumstances?"
  • In one episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Salem got cat-napped by a little kid who wanted a pet. A couple of scenes later, Salem is trying to figure out how to get back home.
    Salem: What would MacGyver do?
  • This is a core concept of Samurai Gourmet. In his retirement, Takeshi Kasumi is determined not only to enjoy himself but also to be more assertive in doing so (in accordance with his new social status as "the elder", though he doesn't put it that way). Whenever social stickiness gets in the way of this, there occurs an Indulgent Fantasy Segue where a Sengoku ronin demonstrates how he would handle the situation. This is sometimes preceded by the explicit question, "What would a samurai do?" Usually, the answer is not violence, but just being really, really cool.
  • The Sense8 episode "W.W.N.Double.D.?", which stands for "What Would Nancy Drew Do?" Said by Amanita to Nomi as they try to outsmart their pursuers.
  • One episode of Stargate Atlantis has John Sheppard ask himself "What would McKay do?"
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • In the episode, "Pen Pals", Captain Picard places Wesley in charge of a routine geological survey as an educational experience for him. At one point, when Wesley's confidence in his ability to lead is down, Riker advises him, "In your position, it's important to ask yourself one question: What would Picard do?"
      • And then subverted in "The Best of Both Worlds". After Picard is captured and assimilated by the Borg, Riker is placed in command. One of the first things he does is walk into the now-his Ready Room, look at the chair and ask "What would you do?" Then walks in Guinan and tells Riker that he has to think for himself now, as the Borg now know all of Picard's tricks.
    • Star Trek: Voyager
      • A variant in "Course: Oblivion", when the biomimetic Voyager which is in the process of melting back into "silver blood" comes into contact with the real Voyager and the ship couldn't drop out of warp, the biomimetic Harry Kim orders Seven of Nine to dump the warp core. When Seven warns that dumping it while still traveling at warp would tear the ship apart, Harry tries to reason with Seven by saying, "What would Captain Janeway have done?"
      • Another variant in "Tuvix". A transporter accident merges Neelix and Tuvok into the title character Tuvix. When the crew comes up with a means of seperating him however, Tuvix objects because this would mean effectively killing him. Janeway asks Tuvix to consider what Tuvok or Neelix would do. Tuvix agrees they would sacrifice their own lives, but even if his decision seems cowardly, Tuvix says he has as much right to live as anyone else.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise: Harshly deconstructed in the episode "Cogenitor" when Trip Tucker sticks his nose into an alien culture to correct what he sees as a monstrous injustice on their part. When he gets in trouble, he claims that he did exactly what Captain Archer would've done — which ends up further enraging his already-furious captain.
      Archer: I might have expected something like this from a first-year recruit. But not you. You did exactly what I'd do? If that's true, then I've done a pretty lousy job setting an example around here. You're a senior officer on this ship. You're privy to the moral challenges I've had to face. You know I've wrestled with the fine line between doing what I think is right and interfering with other species. So don't tell me you know what I would have done when I don't even know what I would have done!
  • Suits frequently features Mike asking, "What would Harvey do?"
  • Supernatural:
  • Vikings: Cloud Cuckoo Lander Floki advises Björn on overcoming heartbreak.
    Floki: Just ask yourself, "What would Floki do?" That will make you laugh, and then you're already half cured.
  • Wednesday: After Enid successfully sabotages one of their Poe Cup competitors, she says: "I just asked myself, 'WWWD?' What Would Wednesday Do?"
  • Weeds: "What would Vic Mackey do?"
  • In the final episode of The West Wing outgoing Chief of Staff CJ gives her successor in the new administration, Josh, a post-it note with "WWLD?" on it: "What Would Leo Do?"

  • 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").

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Defied. At the end of the Mysterious Console DLC, after learning of Noni's backstory on how she ended up trapped for years with nobody coming to help her, Ayane briefly asks Yuko on what Ann would do if the same happened to her.
    Yuko: If you ask me, she absolutely would.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, Ramza, after killing some deserters who, while not necessarily evil, are intending to collect the bounty on his head and use it to gain a pardon, wonders what his father would have done in that situation.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect 2 has both Tali and Garrus drawing heavily on their experiences with Shepard, using his/her example to guide themselves in life during the two years that (s)he's dead. Incidentally, by following Shepard's example, Tali decides to blow stuff up, and Garrus builds a team of experts and starts shooting bad guys on his own. Shepard taught them well.
    • And in Mass Effect 3 you get several more like this: Jack, Tali (again), Garrus (also again), Jacob, and Kaidan/Ashley. To be more precise, anyone still alive from the first two games, if they weren't already leaders or important, has become a leader/important, because that's what Shepard would do. And because Krogan have to do it bigger than the other races, Grunt takes his cues from both Shepard and Urdnot Wrex (himself having taken Shepard's example to heart and begun trying to save his race).
  • X-23 in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 would say this when activating her X-Factor:
    X-23: What would Wolvie do?
  • Not for Broadcast: If you let Jeremy Donaldson die in Day 296, then at the end of Day 371, after Advance nuke four cities and demand that the world bend to their will, Megan Wolfe spends the last few minutes pondering on what Jeremy would do if he were alive today in a situation like this.
  • Persona 5: When the Protagonist has to turn himself in so that the villainous politician driving The Conspiracy can be found guilty, the other Thieves imagine Morgana (who they believed to have disappeared with the other world) making fun of them for giving up too easily. This encourages them to find a way to save the Protagonist.
  • In Poker Night 2, Sam might ask himself what Max would do when planning his next move.
    Sam: What would Max do in a situation like this?
    (Sam looks over to see that Max is standing on a table, spinning in place)
    Max: AAAH! Blackhawk Down! Blackhawk Down!
    Sam: ...Okay, time for Plan B.
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order: Provided he survived the Prologue Wyatt at one point will admit at times he would ask himself what William Joseph Blazkowicz would do during those fourteen years spent keeping the The Resistance going. He still does.
  • In World of Warcraft, after the Battle for the Undercity, with the Horde facing war with the Alliance, Thrall wonders what his old friend Grom Hellscream would do in that situation. Varok Saurfang, who had recently lost his son, approaches Thrall and tells him that Grom would tell him to lead his people, giving him some small measure of relief.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, 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 
  • 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.
  • Hello Kitty and Friends Supercute Adventures: Kuromi, suffering from a fear of heights at a water park, is surprised to find that some of her more timid friends already tried the attraction in question by asking themselves what Kuromi would do. She quickly decides that she can't have them being better versions of her than she is.
  • 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.
  • 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 Original 
  • In Worm, at one particularly critical juncture in Interlude 26b the superhero Golem asks himself what Weaver does, though in this case its because her tactics are similar to those of the enemy he's fighting, and it gives him an insight into what Jack's second power is.

    Web Videos 
  • Crossed Lines: In Episode 7, Rebel Iron, the Railway Board comes to Dawn asking her about strange behaviour they've been noticing on the railway (which pertains to Zebedee's rescue mission of Ember). During the interrogation, Dawn frantically thinks to herself "What would Cojack do?". She then immediately charges away, claiming to be getting to her shunting.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Sheen from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius always asks "What Would Ultralord Do?"
    Nick: I don't know, maybe he'd just sit on a shelf because he's a DOLL!
    Sheen: He's not a doll, he's an action figure!
  • In his Batman: The Brave and the Bold version Jaime's hero worship is directed differently, so it's "What would Batman do?" instead.
    • That might change after he found out about Ted. He even ends the episode by saying he tries to do the right thing, just like Ted.
  • Blue Eye Samurai. In the Season One finale, Ringo and Taigen are wondering how to warn the shogun about the impending coup. Ringo wonders what the title character would do, whereupon Taigen scoffs that Mizu would just force her way through the front door...which they then proceed to do.
  • An episode of Justice League Unlimited has Captain Marvel admitting part of his crime-fighting style is based on asking himself, "What would Superman do?"
  • As season 3 of the The Legend of Korra enters its climax, Korra asks Zuko what Aang would do in her situation because he’s the person who was closest (his best friend) to him in her proximity. note  She got the idea from Zuko’s uncle, Iroh, in the Spirit World.
  • Molly of Denali: In "Wise Raven and Old Crow," Trini and Tooey are lost without Molly there to help them. They think of what Molly would do, and they remember that Molly would do research and look things up. Later, when Bonky goes missing, Trini and Tooey do what Molly would do and look for clues.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • When Twilight Sparkle tries to distract a hydra in "Feeling Pinkie Keen", she wonders what a brave pony like Rainbow Dash would do. The answer she thinks of is to directly charge at the hydra.
    • In another episode, this gets an Ironic Echo when Rainbow Dash wonders what a smart pony like Twilight Sparkle would do.
    • In "The Saddle Row Review", the other members of the Mane Six keep asking themselves "What would Rarity do?" when trying to help set up the grand opening of Rarity's new boutique. It keeps going badly until Twilight Sparkle realizes that what Rarity would really want is for each of her friends to use their own judgment.
    • In "Discordant Harmony", Discord is starting to fade away from acting too "normal" rather than his usual chaotic self. This forces Fluttershy, in order to save him, to start pondering "What would Discord do?" and act accordingly.
  • The Owl House has two rather heavy examples.
    • In "Young Blood, Old Souls", Lilith reveals that the reason decided to curse Eda before their fight to join the Emperor's Coven (opperating under the assumption that it would merely De-power her for a day rather than saddle her with a life changing disability) was because she asked herself what Emperor Belos would do in her situation.
    • In "Clouds on the Horizon", Amity is despairing over her feelings of helplessness over the impending Day of Unity and Emira attempts to cheer her up by asking her what she thinks Luz would say to her. Amity gets so wrapped up in her thoughts that she doesn't even notice Luz coming in through the window or the twins slipping out to give the two some privacy. Luz then makes her presence known by noting that everything she said was accurate.
  • In The Transformers, the egotistical Sky Lynx suggests that others say this about him. "Before you do anything, think, 'Is this what Sky Lynx would do in my position?', and you will not go far wrong."
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Allura can't seem to get the Blue Lion to work with her, so she ponders how to get the Lion to listen and asks "What would Lance do?". She attempts to flirt with the Lion in a Lance-like manner... but it doesn't work.
  • Young Justice (2010): Project Cadmus makes a clone of Superman called Superboy. Though Superboy idolizes Superman, he starts out loyal to Cadmus due to psychic brainwashing. When Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad get captured, Aqualad gets Superboy to shake off the brainwashing and help them by asking him, "What would Superman do?"

    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

  • 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?"
  • 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.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Lagoon has a conversation between Revy and Eda about what gun Jesus would use "as he walked through the valley of the shadow of death".
    Eda: Alright, the Good Shepherd. What's his weapon of choice?
    Revy: Huh?
    Eda: Psalm 23 verse 4, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." But what I wanna know is, what would you take with you, you know, if you were him.
    Revy: Hmm, I'd say a Jericho, 941 FBL.
    Eda: That's a pretty limp-dick gun for Jesus...
    Revy: You're the nun. What's your fuckin' answer?
    Eda: [holding up her Glock 17L by its holster] Isn't it obvious? This guy here.
    Revy: You're full of shit. I mean he was Jewish, right? Of course he'd have an Israeli-made gun.
    Eda: Goddamn heathen. You're out of your league when it comes to this shit.
  • In Bleach there's a point where Kenpachi is in trouble fighting Tōsen, who has trapped Kenpachi in a dark space that disables all senses except the feeling of pain, thus preventing Kenpachi from effectively fighting back. He tries to imagine what his three main minions would do in this situation:
    Yachiru's advice: Cut with your instinct!
    Kenpachi: I tried that already.
    Ikkaku's advice: You could try that "see with your mind's eye"-thing.
    Kenpachi: If I could do something like that, I wouldn't need you to tell me about it, stupid!
    Yumichika's advice: If it was me, I'd probably... give up... in a beautiful way!
    Kenpachi: Go die.

  • 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 Books 
  • An issue of MAD Magazine that was dedicated to riffing on Family Guy for "being the most original cartoon on television" and featuring them drawn in the style of The Simpsons, showed that the studio where Family Guy is written has "What would Bart do?" signs prominently displayed everywhere.
  • From issue #1 of the Roger Rabbit comic book, when Roger thinks his new neighbor, who's a weasel, is out to get him:
    Roger: What would Eddie Valiant do?
    (an hour later...)
    Roger: ...And then he'd have another cuppa coffee and look at the sports page again! Gosh, Eddie's brave—
  • Subverted in The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye. When they end up in the fake Afterspark, Rodimus has a bit of a Heroic BSoD. Whirl snaps him out of it by asking "What Would Megatron Do?" - not because either of them seriously cares what Megatron would do, but because Megatron is something of a Berserk Button for Rodimus, and as such, Whirl knows that mentioning him is going to get Rodimus off his exhaust port and actually doing something. Sure enough, within a page, Rodders is rudely demanding to see the Afterspark's manager.
  • While it's debatable whether he was being serious or not, The Question once asked himself, "What would Rorschach do?" (Kill anyone who annoyed him, duh.) There is an issue where the Question decides to take the Rorschach approach to crime fighting. He concludes that the Rorschach approach sucks.

    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.

    Fan Works 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Parodied and then played straight in Goku's fight with Vegeta.
      Goku: What would Yamcha do?
      (clip of Yamcha dying)
      Goku: Um, um, what would Tien do?
      (uses Solar Flare)
    • Gohan at one point tries to consider what his father would do. Cut to a clip of Goku:
      Goku: Bye, son!
      Gohan: I'm beginning to think I have some issues.
  • In Flutterspy, Fluttershy is trapped in a theater's storage room with evil ninja Yellow Viper. She imagines how the rest of the Mane Six would react, and realizes that most of their solutions wouldn't work for her. Desperate, she uses Pinkie Pie's method—dressing up in the old costumes and pretending to be a hostile ghost—because it's Crazy Enough to Work. However, Yellow Viper is not convinced, and Fluttershy has to fight her way out.
  • In Marionettes, Trixie is fighting Masquerade and asks herself what Twilight Sparkle would do. She ultimately decides she can't imitate Twilight as she lacks Twilight's smarts and level of power. She instead sticks to her own talents of illusions and trickery, which works.
  • Turnabout Storm: Phoenix gets summoned to and is asked to take a case in Equestria. At one point he wonders what would his Friendly Rival, Miles Edgeworth, do in his place. Let's just say that the mental image of "Gleefully riding and playing with the ponies through the land" isn't exactly the kind of mental support he was looking for.
  • In one episode of Ultra Fast Pony, everyone, even the villain, starts asking, "What would DJ 3-Pones do?", followed by a second-long or so Imagine Spot of her telling what she would do. Her advice starts relatively reasonable before turning into non-sequiturs (telling a dying Celestia "Be sure to eat your fruits and vegetables!") and she eventually talks to Shining Armor directly.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    • Episode 38 has Jean-Claude Magnum, who is a member of the "Church"-whose-name-shall-not-be-typed who tries to kidnap Mai after she beats him in a card game. This ends with Mai dangling from a flagpole with Magnum crying "She's going to fall to her untimely death! What would L. Ron Hubbard do?"
    • Much earlier Yugi asks Mokuba what his brother would say about him stealing things. He has to amend this to what he would ay "if he wasn't a complete douchebag" after Mokuba imagines that Seto would tell him to steal something from Joey too.
    • In a vision given to him by the Millennium Rod, Kaiba receives advice from the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future, ending with "Ask yourself: What would Christian Bale do?" Kaiba points out that this was proceeded by a story of how Christian Bale was betrayed and murdered by his robot wife.
      Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future: Yes. (points to Kaiba) Don't do that. I dunno man, you should probably summon your Blue Eyes or something.
      Kaiba: Man, I really need to cut down on the drugs.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, one of the men at the conference, after the robot lands, literally says "It's times like this when we ask ourselves, 'What would Oprah do?'"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Killer (2023). The Professional Killer is fleeing the scene after shooting the wrong person and muses, "WWJWBD — what would John Wilkes Booth do?"
  • As the page's quote provides, Sam Witwicky in Transformers (2007) attempts this on trying to negotiate with his history teacher to get an A so that he could get a car, evoking "What would Jesus do?" To Sam's credit, he does get an A- for his troubles.
  • From The Waterboy, Henry frequently quotes his mother's inaccurate information or bad advice.

  • 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!"

  • Don Quixote: Parodied when Don Quixote invokes Achilles in His Tent in the Sierra Morena, he asks himself What would two Knights in Shining Armor do? The catch is that being a deconstruction, Don Quixote must choose between the Knight in Shining Armor played straight (Amadis cries and prays for days because his lady Oriana doesn't want to see him anymore) and the Knight in Shining Armor deconstruction (Roland went mad and killed humans, animals and plants when he discovered princess Angelica slept with Medoro).
  • There's also "What Would Sethra Do?" and "What Wouldn't Zeus Do?"
  • Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit? has a chapter for Homophobic Christians, which suggests that if Jesus were alive today, what he would in fact do is walk up and down the high street carrying a placard that says "GOD HATES FAGS".
  • The Laundry Files (by Charles Stross): In The Apocalypse Codex, Persephone has a "WWLJD" bracelet. The fundamentalist Christian cultists she's infiltrating naturally assume it stands for "What would Lord Jesus do?" Actually, it's "What would Leeroy Jenkins do?"
  • Mark Watney has this thought in The Martian:
    "I need to ask myself, 'What would an Apollo astronaut do?' He'd drink three whiskey sours, drive his Corvette to the launchpad, then fly to the moon in a command module smaller than my Rover. Man those guys were cool."
  • In the Star Trek novel Sarek, Peter Kirk is kidnapped by the Klingon Ambassador, who had a grudge against his uncle Jim Kirk. While locked up, Peter tries to think of what his famous uncle would do in this situation. The notion he comes up with (And dismisses scornfully) is to seduce his jailer, the ambassador's niece. Amusingly, he eventually ends up doing this for totally different reasons, and this does help him escape.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Community episode Comparative Religion Jeff eventually asks himself "What would Shirley do?" when confronting Mike. He initially reasons that she'd seek a peaceful resolution. However, when Mike throws this peaceful approach back in his face, he receives confirmation of what Shirley would actually do from the source herself:
    Shirley: Jeffrey, kick his ass!
    • Earlier in the same episode, Shirley hands out bracelets with the letters WWBJD ("What Would Baby Jesus Do?") to the whole group.
      Annie: WWBJD?
      Pierce: If this stands for "What Would Billy Joel Do?", I'll tell you right now; he'd write another crappy song.
  • On Friends when the gang finds out that they're gonna have to keep Rachel's mom and dad from discovering the other one at Rachel's party:
    Chandler: Okay, think. What would Jack and Crissy do?
  • Played for Laughs on Gilmore Girls, when Lorelai has a bout of insomnia and is explaining to Rory her uncharacteristic decision to cook breakfast.
    Lorelai: I mean, how would I pass the time until my one and only offspring, the fruit of my loins...
    Rory: Too early.
    Lorelai: ...loin-fruit that she is, straggled out of bed to grace me with her presence? But then I asked myself, "WWTBFCD?", and it came to me in a flash: I'm gonna make waffles!
    Rory: "What would the Barefoot Contessa do?".
    Lorelai: Exactly.
    Rory: Barefoot's one word.
    Lorelai: Shut up, loin-fruit.
  • [Glee: "What does your bracelet say?" "WWMD." "What would Madonna do. Outstanding."
  • The Good Place occasionally plays this as a joke.
    • In "Team Cockroach", Chidi is discomfited by them talking about him like he isn't there.
      Eleanor: Because that's what Chidi would do. That's what Chidi would do for me or for any of us.
      Chidi: It's what I am doing.
      Eleanor: I know.
      Chidi: It's just you're talking about me like I'm not here or something and that just makes me feel weird.
    • In "The Burrito", when trying to philosophically wrestle her way out of a moral dilemma, Eleanor asks herself "what would Superman do", and "what would Rihanna" do.
  • Heroes: "I don't know. What would Bennet do?"
  • Jane the Virgin parodies this with Magda's vaguely Slavic/Eastern European accent when she asks herself "What would real Petra do", which the chyrons type out as "V.V.R.P.D."note .
  • In ventriloquist Jeff Dunham's Comedy Central special Spark of Insanity, he and his Grumpy Old Man puppet Walter talk for a couple minutes about an argument Walter had with his wife.
    Walter: I thought to myself, "What would Jesus do?" So I tried to turn her into a fish. (Beat) Begone, Sataaaan! Hello, Shamu.
  • In a parody of WWJD an episode of Lucifer is called "What Would Lucifer Do?"
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • One episode has Crow wearing a "What Would Buffy St. Marie Do?" bracelet... followed by a bracelet with a lot of Ws that stands for, well, a lot of names with two Ws: "What Would the World Wrestling Federation, Woodrow Wilson, Wet Willie, Wesley Willis, Wade Wilson, William Wyler, Wendy Waserstein, Walt Whitman, Willy Wonka, Wim Wender..." (gets interrupted).
    • In another episode, Mike (speaking for a struggling songwriter) asks "What would Liberace do? ...Hmm, better not do that."
    • When the guys watched Time Chasers, one of the guys responded to "What would MacGyver do?" (see above) with "Get canceled."
  • From The Office (US):
    Dwight: Whenever I'm about to do something, I think, 'Would an idiot do that?', and if they would, I do not do that thing...
  • Oz. A corrupt prison guard coerces one of the born-again Christian inmates into committing arson. "Now is not the time to ask, what would Jesus do."
  • Person of Interest. Harold Finch is trying to educate Sameen Shaw, the latest member of their Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, on how Team Machine do things.
    Finch: I urge you to consider what Mr. Reese would do.
    Shaw: Brood?
  • When Brian Potter is stuck on his stairlift in a powercut in Phoenix Nights, he asks himself 'What would Thora Hird do?'
  • Saturday Night Live:
    Queen Latifah as Gwen Ifill: How will you solve the financial crisis by being a maverick?
    Tina Fey as Sarah Palin: You know, we're gonna take every aspect of the crisis and look at it and then we're gonna ask ourselves, "What would a maverick do in this situation?" And then, you know, we'll do that!
  • From the Scrubs episode "Our Role Models", Turk gives a pep talk to JD:
    Turk: You are John Damn Dorian, so ask yourself, "What would John Damn Dorian do?" W.W.J.D.D.D.?
    Surgery patient: Too many "D"s.
    Turk: Why are you still awake?
  • In the episode "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Guinan points out to Riker that he can't follow his natural inclination to think like Picard. Indeed, since Picard has been assimilated by the Borg, the Borg could easily repel any plan that Picard could devise.
  • Supernatural:
    • In one episode, an inept wannabe ghost hunter says "What would Buffy do?"
    • Later Sam motivates a reluctant hacker to go through a dangerous mission by asking her what Hermione would do.
    • After he becomes The Soulless Donatello Redfield resolves moral dilemmas by asking "What would Mister Rogers do?"
  • In one of the breather episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle is thrown into a prison cell by Joxer to protect her from Joxer's evil brother Jet. Gabrielle tries to think of a way out and asks herself "What would Xena do?" She then suddenly has a revelation, picks up a round plate, and tosses the round plate at the cell door Xena-style...only for the plate to ricochet off the prison cell door and hit Gabrielle square in the face, knocking her out.

  • 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.
  • 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?

    Myths & Religion 

  • 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.


    Video Games 
  • Deltarune: In chapter 2, Susie, while riding on a Ferris Wheel with Noelle, muses that Kris always seems to know what to do and wonders what they would be doing in her place. A dialogue box briefly comes up with the options "Point and hearts come out" (Kris's generic ACT animation) and "Eat moss". No matter which option is selected, it's at this point that it occurs to Susie that maybe Kris doesn't always know what to do.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, if you're in a clan with a "Mr. Klaw" crane game in their clan hall, you can win a "What Would The Naughty Sorceress Do?" bracelet, along with similar bracelets for the three patron heroes of KoL: "What Would Boris Do?", "What Would Sneaky Pete Do?", and "What Would Jarlsberg Do?"
  • Left 4 Dead 2 pulls this off in The Passing when Ellis is nervous about meeting Zoey again later on. Rochelle tries to be helpful but since she forgets Ellis goes on a long-winded conversation anytime he mentions Keith, it wouldn't end well if Coach hadn't stepped in:
    Rochelle: Ask yourself, what would Keith do?
    Ellis: Oh! That reminds me of the time Keith—
    Coach: Girl, what are you doing?
    Rochelle: I-I wasn't thinking!
    Coach: (sigh) Look. Let your guard down for a minute and we all pay the price.

    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.

  • Dr. McNinja of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja regularly asks "What Would Batman Do?"
  • Fiona from Bruno the Bandit wears a WWBDODIP bracelet for guidence in tricky situations. It stands for "What Would Bruno Do? (Only Do It Properly)".
  • Darths & Droids: The Attack of the Clones example falls a little flat on its face when Obi-Wan tries it here, since Padmé is played by Jim. Obi-Wan's player admits that it was a bad example.
  • In Least I Could Do, Rayne's secondary question in these situations is "What would Zombie Hitler do?". You don't want to know about the first.
  • In the webcomic Marilith, the eponymous assassin's favorite tee shirt has the slogan W.W.C.Y.F.D, or "What Would Chow Yun Fat Do?". It's often hard to read, being distorted by her giant breasts.
  • Subverted in Nedroid:
    Reginald: How long has this been in the fridge? Should I eat it? I wonder what Beartato would say.
    Imaginary Beartato holding a gun: Give me the diamonds!
    Reginald: 'NEVER'
  • The webcomic Nothing Nice to Say parodied the obsession Hardcore Punk fans have with Henry Rollins with a t-shirt saying "What would Henry Rollins do?".
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Durkon is left to reflect "What would Thor do?" when alone and energy-drained. What Thor would do isn't generally applicable to mortals. One time, when he gets the chance, he does get himself a giant gold tankard filled with beer — with he letters "WWTD?" on the side. In the coloring book Rich put out, one of the answers to the puzzles is Thor's answer: I don't know what I would do either.
    • Also, when Elan's in a tight spot, he sometimes asks himself, "What Would Roy Do?". The first time this comes up, it's Played for Laughs (of course), but later it's used more seriously; Elan has to be The Hero while Roy is dead, but he doesn't have Roy's Wisdom.
  • In Rhapsodies, Michelle tries to comfort a grumpy Nancy, by asking what would Billie Holiday do?... She is not amused when Nancy replies sarcastically by bringing up Holiday's heroin addiction.
  • A recurring joke in one Schlock Mercenary storyline has various characters asking "What Would Schlock Do?". And the final payoff (probably), here.
  • In The Whiteboard, Daryl asks himself what Doc would do when on the field. However, given Daryl isn't a rather large polar bear who runs a paintball shop, the possible answers don't do him much good.

    Web Original 

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

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: When trying to plan out his next move, Zuko wonders what his uncle Iroh would do, and answers by doing an impression of the old man. It results in an Ice-Cream Koan even he can't figure out. He then wonders what his sister Azula would do, apparently just to be contrary with himself, and imitates her as well. The only conclusion Zuko can reach is that he's not good at impersonations.
  • In Family Guy, when they find the trailer of The Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This (a mix of The Passion of the Christ and Rush Hour) in the house of Mel Gibson, we see that Jesus' car license plate is WWID (What Would I Do).
    • Given the potential mashup with another well-known parody, it could just as easily be What Would I Drive.
  • Lucky from King of the Hill, an avid nature show watcher, has a simple philosophy: "What Would a Monkey Do?"
    • From another episode, where Luanne takes up boxing:
    Peggy: She's not gonna show tonight. She asked herself, "what would Jesus do if he were a lady boxer?" The answer: not show.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In one episode, Homer is fleeing a duel with a southern colonel. He wonders "What would Zorro do?" and pictures the swashbuckler being shot by the colonel a la Indiana Jones. Cue Homer's anguished cry, "Zorro!!!"
    • In "Barting Over", Homer had a bracelet that said "WWJD", but when Lisa told him what it meant, Homer complained he thought it meant "What Would Geppetto Do?".
    • Rod and Todd's film choices are influenced by the church movie guide "What Would Jesus View?"
    • In "Dumbbell Indemnity", Homer imagines what Marge would say about getting involved with Moe's car insurance scam:
      Marge: Homer, I insist you steal that car!
      • In another episode, Moe tries to convince Homer to give him money. Homer imagines what Marge would say, giving us an Imagine Spot of Moe dressed as Marge, encouraging him to give Moe the money. Then the real Marge enters the bubble and asks what's going on, causing Marge-Moe to hurriedly pull the bubble closed.
    • In "Wedding For Disaster", when the top church minister comes to Springfield, Moe sells buttons and other trinkets with suggestive, (sac)religious messages like "Who Would Jesus Do". Yeah, he's uncouth like that.
    • In "Hungry Hungry Homer", when Homer exposes the Springfield Isotopes' owner's plot to move the team out of Springfield, the owner sics Duffman on him. Homer tells Duffman that this is his chance to do the right thing and fight for the little guys. Duffman feels conflicted and asks himself "What would Jesus do?" A second later Duffman beats the crap out of the Isotopes' owner.
  • In the "Jesus vs Santa" short, the prototype of South Park, the children ask "What would Brian Boitano do?" and fail to come up with an answer. In the feature film, they sing a song about the subject, listing the feats of Brian Boitano, which lie on the absurd level of a Memetic Badass. Also for Brian Boitano, he now has a show on Food Network called "What Would Brian Boitano Make?". It's exactly what it says on the tin.
  • An episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) has Donnie infiltrating a Kraang base while separated from the others. At one point he gets past a door by using one of the Kraang's robot bodies on a scanner. The others eventually come to the same door with the robot body still there and they ask themselves "What would Donnie do?" Cut to them using the body as a battering ram instead. When that fails to work, Mikey cries out "Donnie's idea was terrible!"
  • In "Call of the Primitives", an episode of the original The Transformers cartoon, famed Autobot Sky Lynx once said, "Now remember, before you do anything, think, 'Is this what Sky Lynx would do in my position?', and you will not go far wrong." Sound advice.
  • Omi's advice in Xiaolin Showdown: asking people to think at what he'd 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?"


Being Ian

Ian gets tempted by his shoulder devil to check out forbidden hockey footage.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

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