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What's an X Like You Doing in a Y Like This?

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When a character (usually female) is captured by the Big Bad or seen in a suspicious place by other characters. Also used as a (bad) pickup line.

The traditional wording is "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?"


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  • Crime writer Mickey Spillane is arguing with other celebrities about the merits of Miller Lite Beer when a luscious doll saunters up to him.
    Doll: What's a nice guy like you doing in a fight like this?
    Spillane: Waitin' for you, doll! (exit with gorgeous dame)
    • In another add Spillane asks The Doll, "What's a nice girl like you doing in a commercial like this?"

    Comic Strips 
  • In a cartoon by Swedish artist Beverloo:
    Girl at party: What a nice girl like me is doing at a place like this? I'm a hooker, of course!
  • A Garfield comic had this exchange:
    Garfield: What's a girl like you doing in a place like this?
    Arlene: But this is a nice place.
    Garfield: Like I said... What's a girl like YOU doing in a place like THIS?

    Fan Works 
  • Potter vs. Paradox:
    Sirius: Strange voices that talk to you out of thin air are a sign of madness. Go away!
    Iris: I'm a person, not a voice! I'm merely invisible. I'm also here to get you out.
    Sirius: That's a good one mate, voice of madness or not. OK, I'll bite. What's a nice girl like you doing in a dump like this? You *are* a nice girl, right?
  • In Snake Whisper, Harry spots a short thirteen-year-old trying to reach one of the higher bookshelves in a mildly-dodgy section of Flourish and Blotts.
    Harry: So... how is it that a girl like you finds herself in this part of the shop?
  • In The Truth Shall Set You Free Fred and George drag McGonagall into the back room of their joke shop.
    Harry: What is a nice professor like you doing in a place like this?

    Films — Animation 
  • Hanna-Barbera's animated musical version of Alice in Wonderland, produced in 1966, was subtitled What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (Which was also the title of one of the songs.)
  • In Finding Nemo, Bruce the shark asks Dory and Marlin, "What's a couple of bites like you doing in a zone like this?"
  • In Disney's Home on the Range:
    Bull #1: What are a couple of ladies like you...
    Bull #2: Doing on a drive like this?
  • In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the Joker asks a variation of this:
    The Joker So, what's an old-timer like you want with a two-timer like me?
  • This happens twice in Lady and the Tramp:
    • After saving Lady from the vicious dogs in the alley, Tramp asks her, "Hey Pidge, what are you doing on this side of the tracks?"
    • Lady is taken to the dog pound, but she is released when her owners come by to take her home. As the dog catcher lets her out, he tells her that she's "too nice a girl" to be in the pound.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • George of the Jungle has Ape's book on "human courtship rituals" (Coffee, Tea or Me, a real-life book about two lusty young fictional stewardesses) offer this pickup line: "What's a nice girl like you doing in a plane like this?"
  • A short by Martin Scorsese is titled "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?"
  • Evie from The Mummy (1999) gets the line mixed up while drunk. "I know what you're thinking. What is a place like me doing in a girl like this?" Rick responds, "Something like that."
  • Subverted in Following:
    The young man: So what's a nice girl like you—
    The blonde: Doing in a place like this?
    The young man: —doing with a bald old cunt like that?
  • In the dressing-room scene of A Hard Day's Night, the Fab Four are quipping up a storm. Not to be outdone, their assistant Shake says this to a blank-faced mannequin, which being inanimate doesn't respond. Tumbleweed ensues.
  • Happens in Rocketship X-M (1950), the place being a rocketship in outer space. The woman in question chides the line-giver for thinking she should Stay in the Kitchen.
  • Casablanca puts a negative spin on this trope:
    Rick: Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world - she walks into mine!
  • Deadpool (2016) just HAS to put a spin on it: "What's a nice place like you doing in a girl like this?"
  • Likewise Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965). "What's a rotten girl like you doing in a nice place like this?"

  • Two fish meet in a stomach:
    What's a plaice like you doing in a girl like this?
  • The orthopedic surgeon, looking down at the cheerleader's trick knee:
    What's a joint like you doing in a nice girl like this?

  • The Either/Or Title of I, Cthulhu is What's A Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This (Latitude 47° 9' S, Longitude 126° 43' W)?
  • Inverted in the Robert A. Heinlein novel The Number of the Beast, when a dissection of a dead female alien who had been posing as a male human leads to the discovery that her legs each had two knees, one bending forward and one bending backwards. Cue the quip, "What's a nice joint like you doing in a girl like this?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In a flashback scene showing how Angel was sired by Darla. Posing as an aristocratic lady out for illicit adventure, she lures drunken hedonist Liam into an alley to give him a Kiss of the Vampire.
    Liam: So, I'd ask myself... What's a lady of your station doing alone in an alley with the reputation that this one has?
  • Fi from Burn Notice tends to get this whenever she visits a seedy bar or hangout. It never ends well for the guy asking.
  • Cowboy Bebop (2021). In "Cowboy Gospel", Spike Spiegel apologizes in advance for giving what sounds like a bad pickup line before saying the trope to Katerina Solensan. It's actually a relevant question, as she's a Poor Little Rich Kid on the run with the Villain of the Week.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Web of Fear": Someone asks a female scientist "What's a girl like you doing in a job like this?" She's not impressed.
      "Well, when I was a little girl I thought I'd like to be a scientist, so I became a scientist."
    • "The End of the World": While heading through a maintenance duct investigating what's wrong with Platform One, the Doctor asks Plant Alien Jabe why exactly she's attending the event being held:
      "What's a tree like you doing on a platform like this?"
  • Inverted on One Life to Live:
    "What's a girl like you doing in a nice place like this?"
  • In The Pretender episode A Stand-Up Guy, Jarod strikes up a conversation with a woman whose restaurant has become a gang hangout, and asks her in a joking tone what a nice girl like her is doing in a place like this.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In "11001001", said by Riker to a hologram: "What's a knockout brunette like you doing in a computer-generated gin joint like this?"
    • In "Contagion", the Enterprise rendezvouses with their sister ship, the Yamato, and hails them:
      Picard: Donald, what's a nice Starfleet captain like you doing in a place like this?
      Varley: It's good to see you again, Jean-Luc, despite your antique humor.

    Print Media 
  • Parodied in "Movie Dialogue We'd Like To Hear" from MAD:
    "Ever since I came in here tonight, somethin's been puzzlin' me... what's a crummy girl like you doin' in a nice place like this?"
  • According to a piece in New Scientist's "Feedback" page, a lecturer talking about prosthetics once showed a picture of two ice dancers, one of whom had a fully articulated artificial limb. And speculated that the other was saying "What's a joint like this doing in a nice girl like you?"

  • Bob Dylan: "What's a sweetheart like you doing in a dump like this?"
  • The Spanish band Burning references the line in the song "¿Qué Hace Una Chica Como Tú En Un Lugar Como Éste?"
  • Frank Zappa loved this line and used it in at least five different songs.
  • John Schneider's "What's A Memory Like You (Doing In A Love Like This)"
  • Barry Manilow inverted it to ask "What's a nice boy like me/Doing in a place that never closes?" Later performed (as "Nice Girl Like Me") by Sandy Duncan on The Muppet Show.
  • Marilyn Manson inverted it proper: "So what's a nice place like this doing 'round people like us?" in "We Know Where You Fucking Live".

  • There was a musical revue in the 1970s called "What's a Nice Country Like You Doing in a State Like This?"
  • City of Angels:
    Stone (to Bobbi): "Let me take you away from all this," is that the routine? "What's a nice kid like you, et cetera?" What is a nice kid like you, et cetera?

    Video Games 
  • Upon linking up with the mole in Fallout's Final Dungeon:
    "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?"
    "Uh heh... Waiting desperately for someone to use that pathetic line on me."
  • Guybrush says this to De Singe in Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal: "So, how'd a dazzling urbanite like yourself wind up in a sleepy pirate island like Flotsam?"
  • In Another Case Solved a certain stage of the "Perky Promotion" case is called "What's a Pretty Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?"
  • In Charm King's Halloween tale Mrs. Curmudgel brings an alderman to confront local inventor Philbert about his latest noisy invention.
    Mrs. Curmudgel: Maribelle? What's a nice girl like you doing around here?
  • Dink Smallwood mod Dry:
    Dink: So what's a bed like you doing in a desert like this?
  • Dragon Quest IV: Psaro says this to the heroine Sofia in the DS version if she speaks to him at the beginning of Chapter 5.
  • One of Johnny Cage's intros against D'Vorah in Mortal Kombat 11 parodies the Casablanca example.
    Johnny: Of all the gin joints in all the towns...
    D'Vorah: Quit babbling, Earthrealmer!
    Johnny:'re not walking outta mine.

    Western Animation