This is a Stock Phrase used when questioning the benefit to oneself of doing something one is asked to do, often implying that self-interest can make or break their decision, or at least serve as a tiebreaker.
- Templeton uses this frequently in Charlotte's Web. It's a repeated theme in the movie that he's repeatedly answered with something that really IS in it for him, and in turn, Templeton frequently does the right thing for the wrong reasons.
- Dazed and Confused
Freshman Girl: Will you marry me?Dawson: I don't know. What's in it for me?
- Escape from L.A.
Hershe Las Palmas: What's in it for me?Snake Plissken: I know that voice. You're Carjack Malone.
- Ella Enchanted
Edgar: So, Ella of Frell is your sister. [snip] Tell me, what do you know about her?Hattie: What's in it for me?Heston: How about that your eyeballs remain inside your head?
- In The Transformers: The Movie, after the nearly-dead Megatron is thrown into the depths of space by Starscream, he is "rescued" by Unicron, who commands him to destroy the Matrix of Leadership. Megatron's reaction is predictable:
Megatron: Why should I? What's in it for me?Unicron: Your bargaining posture is highly dubious...but very well. I will provide you with a new body, and new troops to command.Megatron: And?Unicron: And nothing! You belong to me now!
- Kiss Me Deadly
Lt. Murphy: Mike, why don't you tell us what you know? Then step aside like a nice fella and let us do our job.Mike Hammer: What's in it for me?
- Escape From The Bronx.
Strike: [about the kidnapping plan] Hey wait a minute, wait a minute, what's in it for me?Moon Grey: That's simple. If they want their president back, they have to put things back the way the were.Trash: The Bronx will be back in the hands of the gangs, which means you'll go back to being the number one man for all the big robberies.
- Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over
Bugs: Eh, what's in it for me to be "vewy, vewy quiet"?Elmer: Well, uh, gee. I, uh, I don't know. I, uh, I didn't know I had to pay for quiet. Uh, how 'bout a nickel?Bugs: AHA! Tryin' to bribe me, eh? That, sir, is contributing to the delinquency of a minor!
- Anamaria's first line in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is an angry response to Jack trying to rally up a crew ("What's the benefit for us?"). The benefit ends up being a beautiful ship.
- Agent Cody Banks: Cody attempts to leave for a mission, but his little brother (whom he just told him was a "junior agent") reminds him he's grounded. Cody then offers him to be a "junior junior agent" (to let him go on his mission). The usual line comes, then cut to Cody leaving the house, then to his little brother with a considerable amount of allowance money.
- The Truth. William De Worde has published information in his newspaper about Lord Vetinari's apparently committing a murder, much to Commander Vimes' distress. Vimes asks him: (1) not to bleed too much when someone attacks him over what he wrote (2) not to ask Watch personnel about the case and (3) not interfere with the investigation.
De Worde: I'll remember. But, if you don't mind my asking, what's in it for me?
- George R. R. Martin's Haviland Tuf short story "A Beast for Norn". After Tuf sells fighting animals to each of the 12 Great Houses of the planet Lyronica, the last buyer tells him that either Tuf will leave the planet or he'll be killed. Tuf responds "I am easily distracted and I may have failed to hear the part wherein you explained the incentive you will offer me for acceding to your request to deal no more with the Great Houses of Lyronica." The buyer offers him a huge sum of money in compensation, and Tuf agrees.
- In The Hot Gate, the subject of personal benefit from cooperating with one another comes up in a conversation between "Comet" Parker and one of the engineers for the 143rd.
- True Blood episode "Never Let Me Go". Eric is dying when a boy appears.
Eric Northman: What are you waiting for? Kill me.Godric: Could you be a companion of death? Could you walk with me through the world? Through dark? I'll teach you all I know. I'll be your father, your brother, your child.Eric Northman: What is in it for me?Godric: What you love most... life.
- Gossip Girl episode "Chuck in Real Life"
Blair Waldorf: I have a proposition for you. [snip] Dan stole your best friend, now you can steal his. Seduce and destroy.Chuck Bass: What's in it for me?Blair Waldorf: The thrill of the impossible. The only person Vanessa loathes more than me is you. It'll be one for the ages.
- Prison Break episode "Fire/Water"
Brad Bellick: Why are you so interested in that guy in the sewer?Michael Scofield: No reason.Brad Bellick: Then why are you whispering, college boy?Michael Scofield: Why don't you lower your voice already?Brad Bellick: What's in it for me?
- Psych episode "A Very Juliet Episode"
Shawn Spencer: Could you ask those people to *not* do those things to Scott?J.T. Waring: Perhaps. What's in it for me?Shawn Spencer: How about I bake you a cake that's extra high in... iron?
- Leverage episode "The Nigerian Job"
Eliot Spencer: What's in it for me?Nathan Ford: Payback. And if it goes right, a lot of money.Parker: And what's in it for me?Nathan Ford: A lot of money. And if it goes right, payback.
- The Mighty Boosh
Naboo: What's in it for me?Dixon Bainbridge: I don't know. How about I throw in a Kit Kat?
- Monarch of the Glen episode #1.5
Katrina: If you're still looking for a bottling plant, I know of one going cheap.Archie: Where?Katrina: Put it this way - what's in it for me?
- Road to Avonlea episode "The Dinner"
Felicity King: Mother and Father are going off to the White Sands tomorrow night and I'm babysitting. [snip] If you make yourself scarce, I won't tell if you won't. [snip]Felix King: What's in it for me?
- Lovejoy episode "One Born Every Minute"
Whiteman: We'd like you to do something for us, Lovejoy.Lovejoy: What's in it for me? I don't work for God, Queen, or country... only for cash!
- Blackadder The Third episode "Duel and Duality"
Blackadder: I want you to take the place of the Prince Regent and kill the Duke of Wellington in a duel.Mad McAdder: Aye, and what's in it for me?Blackadder: Enough cash to buy the Outer Hebrides. What do you think?Mad McAdder: Fourteen shillings and six-pence? Well, it's tempting.
- Wanted: Dead or Alive episode "Estralita''
Josh Randall: What's in it for me?Estralita: My gratitude.Josh Randall: Well, kind of a hard thing to spend.Estralita: So are a lot of worthwhile things.
- Wiseguy. During the Garment Trade arc, a Chinese-American activist trying to unionise sweatshop workers delivers the line straight when she's pretending to be open for bribery (she's actually wearing a Hidden Wire).
- "What's In It for Me" by John Berry:
What's in it for me
I've got to ask
If it's only more tears
Then I'll have to pass
If you'll open up
Then I can see
Deep in your heart
What's in it for me
- An early Dilbert comic has Dogbert meet some aliens who promise to share the secrets to ending hunger, poverty, and disease. Dogbert replies with the trope name and the aliens leave the planet in response. Dogbert walks away wondering whether there was a better way to handle that.
- The Super Hero Squad Show episode "Invader from the Dark Dimension"
Dr. Strange: Dr. Doom, I have a proposition for you. Since we helped your headquarters from Iron Menace, help us defeat him.Dr. Doom: Really? What's in it for me?Silver Surfer: I know. How about a plate of fungus and ragweed burgers? Yummy in the tummy.Dr. Doom: I'll help only if you keep him from ever cooking again.
- Top Cat offers to help Officer Dibble keep an eye out for a jewel thief in "Rafeefleas." T.C. asks what's in it for him and his gang.
Dibble: I'll tell you what's in it. If we don't catch this thief, I'll be transferred. And you'll get one of those eager beaver rookies who walk softly and carry a big stick! (waves his billy club in T.C.'s face)
- The Hair Bear Bunch asks this to Professor Rockabuilt in "No Space Like Home," after being proposed the plan of landing a spaceship in Mars.
- K'nuckles from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack manages to make this question even more selfish than usual when asked by Dr. Barber to mind his shop while he is away since Flapjack is asked along with him and only tries at the last second with his trademark lack of subtlety to replace me with ...I mean US.
- Family Guy: Peter takes this Up to Eleven in one episode as a response to spending time with his children!
Peter: Well, what's in it for ol' Pete?