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Flat "What."

"Ok, this is the most common thing I write. I've said it 34 times in my notes. Nothing else. Just that single word, followed by a lack of any punctuation. Not a question or an exclamation, just a statement of utter disbelief."

"What."

A Stock Phrase when it comes to reactions, but a simple one. Although it is just one word, the way in which it is pronounced can speak volumes about how absurd (or mundane) the situation can be, simply by how and where the inflection in a speaker's voice (if any) is used. In written speech, it's supplemented by the punctuation following it. For an example:

  • "What?" Standard reaction when someone notices that someone spoke to him, but didn't hear well what was said. Common in the real world, little used in fiction as it goes against The Law of Conservation of Detail
  • "What?" Standard reaction, used in everyday speech; slightly rising inflection (clarify what someone said, being asked a favor, etc.)
  • "What?!" Sharper inflection indicating a level of surprise (disturbing news, something you may need to sit down for, etc.)
  • "What!?" An accusatory or intimidating statement; "I'm in your face, what are you going to do about it!?", or in defense against accusatory stares if the speaker believes that whatever earned them those glares was normal
  • "WHAT?!" "WHAAAAAT?!?!?!" et al; New levels of absurdity have been hit (Variations on the length of the word and (ab)use of ? and ! as needed; this is the one most often used for comic effect)

None of the above is an example of this trope. That's below.

And that's exactly how it's written, too: "what" with a period at the end. On the internet, some people cut this down even farther, going with "wha", "wat", "wut" or similar. Sometimes appears on forums and image boards as the memes "what is this i don't even" and "i am 12 and what is this" (no punctuation whatsoever and the i not capitalized) and the immortal LOL WUT (all caps, spelling of the second word, and no punctuation whatsoever)—more complex, but still indicating that the speaker is too gobsmacked to be capable of a coherent sentence.

Unless it is being listed as a trope, DO NOT Pothole this trope on other pages.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • One of the best parts of the dubbed Pokémon episode "Electric Shock Showdown!" was Lt. Surge's Flat What after Pikachu nullifies his Raichu's Thunderbolt by grounding its tail. This is also a remarkably accurate representation of what every fan of the Pokémon games said at that exact moment.
  • Kyon pulls one after Haruhi announces the SOS brigade will be hosting a movie screening at the culture fest in episode 20 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
    • And when Yuki tells him she's an alien. And when Asakura tells him she's going to kill him. He seems pretty fond of this and the Face Palm.
  • Seitokai no Ichizon has a knocked-out Sugisaki Ken trying to cross the river of Hell to reach his "harem". Hell Girl, who happens to be passing by on her ferry, responds to this bizarre scene with a flat "Oi..." after he passes her.
  • Greedling of Fullmetal Alchemist seems to pull a Type 1 quite often in the Japanese dub of Brotherhood, though it's more of a blatant "Huh?"
  • In a chapter of Shin Mazinger Zero -a Mazinger Z spin-off-, Kouji and Minerva-X are together inside the cockpit. During the battle Minerva lands on Kouji on a very awkward and embarrassing position. Sayaka -Clingy Jealous Girl and Action Girl who has just arrived and destroyed three Mechanical beasts in a fit of jealous rage- sees him, and they -after displaying a tremendously comical Oh, Crap stares- try to explain it is not what it seems, and Minerva is not human but she actually is a Super Robo created by The Professor Dr. Kabuto to be Mazinger-Z's partner. Sayaka's reaction?
    Sayaka:... What.
  • In Toradora!, Ami, Kitamura, and Minorin do a flat what after Ryuuji tells them that he and Taiga are going to run away and get married.
  • In Yankee-kun to Megane-chan (Flunk Punk Rumble in the American release), Izumi reacts this way after the student council finds a necklace that claims to grant three wishes... and Chiba immediately suggests wishing that 5th-period PE get cancelled.
  • In the last episode of Ladies Versus Butlers!, after Sernia and Tomomi have had one of their biggest battles ever over a ticket to the amusement park Try Aqualand for a date with Akiharu (won by Sernia), the guy is so Oblivious to Love that he completely misunderstands their enthusiasm, and gives the other ticket to Tomomi as a "sort of consolation prize". Cue absolutely deadpan Flat What from Tomomi, followed by some verbal abuse from most of the named cast, and topped with an earth-shaking double Armor-Piercing Slap from BOTH Tomomi and Sernia.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei: This is Nozomu Itoshiki's standard reaction to whatever Kafuka Fuura's most recent, outlandish explanation was.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia: Russia mixes one of these with a creepy, intense stare when Stalin informs him that the White Sea-Baltic Canal he spent a year breaking his back digging is totally useless.
  • In a recent filler/flashback episode, Naruto (or, more accurately, one of his shadow clones) has this reaction to Tenten summoning what appears to be thousands of syringes to rain down on him.
  • In Corsair, in the midst of discussing Aura's wish to marry Canale, Ayace decides to bluntly let everyone know that Canale is his lover. While the others' reactions vary from awkwardness to surprise, Aura simply says "...what."
  • Uryuu Minene aka the 9th, a terrorist of some repute, of Future Diary does this when the police officer Nishijima proposes to her while they were on the run from other police officers. He even had a ring.

    Comic Books 
  • This is Doctor Nemesis's reaction to an unexpected teleport in the X-Men one-shot Blind Science.
  • A particularly amusing example from The Invisibles. A Mexican god of death tells to a very young Lord Fanny that she has to give her body/soul to a passage to the next level of her ritual to become a witch. She doesn't want to... so she offers the god a joke. A god of death answering with a flat what its just priceless (mostly because a lot of readers were asking themselves the same).
  • The Devil's response when John Constantine nonchalantly comments that the candles made booze out of holy water. The booze the Devil just drank, and the candles that Constantine promptly kicks over.
  • At the end of the first issue of The Sandman Overture, Morpheus is being summoned somewhere and declares that he is Dream of the Endless and he is prepared for whatever comes next. Then he sees all the different facets of himself from throughout the universe in one giant meeting and goes "What."

    Fan Fic 
  • In D. Gray Man The Abridged Series, there is a short starring Kanda and Allen:
    Kanda: Hey Allen. You're a bean sprout.
    Allen: Your mom's a bean sprout.
    Kanda: Your beansprout's a mom!
    Allen: ...What.
  • Alphonse and Hohenheim have this reaction to Edward's determinator-style declaration in a doujin.
    • Though in all honesty that should be the reader's reaction to the doujin in general.
  • Anguirus pops this upon first encountering an eradically flying Derpy Hooves in The Bridge
  • Given the frequency of positively bizarre crap that happens in the Pokémon fic Brave New World, one can hardly blame Pikachu for reacting this way often. You know it's approaching critical mass when Leo does it though.
  • Happens fairly often in the Yu-Gi-Oh! fanfic Skin, more often than not followed by a Big "WHAT?!" when the weirdness factor hits critical mass.
  • In the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha fanfic Proper Equipment, Yuuno gives one in response to hearing that his new device Raising Heart is designed for long-range offensive magic. Apparently Mazda, the Scrya clan matriarch who gave it to him, didn't realize that he specialized in defensive and support magic, or that he was actually a boy.
  • Waking to a situation that's already taxing her mind, Keleria is further confused by Ayuri saying she's taken a courier job leading to Stranglethorn Vale.
    Keleria blinked, feeling about as intelligent as a suffocating fish, "what."
  • Draco Malfoy has this reaction in Methods of Rationality when told that Harry needed a bit of cash, after using the money he'd stolen from his own Gringotts vault to buy a gift for Hermione Granger. Exactly which part of that the Flat What is in response to is left to the reader.
    • Harry also ends the first chapter with one.
  • In Dragon Age The Crown Of Thorns, people occasionally exhibit this reaction when the protagonist issues some strange command, like telling Branka to make golem-sized pickaxes.
  • Continuing the tendency marked by his canon counterpart, Kyon in Kyon Big Damn Hero gives a Flat What when Haruhi announces that, due to Kyon inadvertently making her believe he was upset with her, she can no longer trust him to put his costume on by himself and asks Yuki to hold him down.
  • In the Homestuck fanadventure Be the Sea Dweller Lowblood, Karkat does this trice after finding out that Eridan, on top of breaking into (and locking Karkat out of) his private quarters, has been using his Trollian account to troll his friends, out-manipulating Vriska and single-handedly rescuing an organization devoted to upthrowing Aradia (and Karkat) from the hands of one of Karkat's best (and certainly closest) legislacerators.
  • A Running Gag in Glorious Shotgun Princess, whenever someone from the Mass Effect universe is exposed to the over-the-top martial-arts "bullshit magic" of the Exalted setting or just about anything that Autochthon does or says.
    • Becomes really hilarious when a Reaper does it.
    • Admiral Hackett's reaction to seeing raptors escaping from the crew quarters (read: a private tropical beach) is a simple 'Oh god what the fuck'
      • Presumably many readers had a similar reaction when Hackett started beating the crap out of said raptors and even suplexing one!
  • You Got HaruhiRolled! uses this on occasion. A notable example is when Haruhi gets crushed by a blimp.
  • Fanfic writers can get these when they get a review to a long-finished story.
    • It can also be about the only response possible to a request for a continuation of a very definite one-shot, or a reviewer who is reviewing...something else entirely, you hope, given that the piece they reviewed is a look into the local Cute and Psycho's Gorn fantasies...and the review is for a Romantic Comedy.
  • In From the End to the Start this was Hermione's reaction to Luna's statement that pudding, according to her mother, "can be served for medicinal purposes for poison consumption and for irritable bowels."
  • Happens in Ewar's Tale once, when the signature characters meets a pair of bats that he thought were spirits, the Author seems self-aware too for some reason.
  • In Empire's Gleam, a time-traveling Merlin has this reaction when Arthur states he would never bring his manservant out hunting or on campaign with him.
  • In Monsters In Paradise, this has become the characters' stock response to anything absurd enough to break their thought processes, such as Skarmory's ability cancelling out Flandre's. Marisa eventually lampshades this:
    "Say it. You know you want to."
  • Several characters in the Pokémon fanfic Silver Blood demonstrate this reaction, usually to unexpected information. Brendan seems to be a particular cause for them, one notable example being when he caught Domino off-guard by turning her attempt to fight into an impromptu dance with her.
  • In the Soul Eater oneshot Oblivion, this is Shaula's reaction when Medusa, after abusing her younger sister all throughout their childhood and continually mocking her and hitting her when they meet again as adults, demands that Shaula help her with one of her experiments.

    Film 
  • Elizabeth in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, when Jack uses his vote to make her the Pirate King.
  • General Bethlehem from The Postman pulls one of these when a village refuses to open its gates to his army. He doesn't take it well.
  • The best Flat What in history belongs to Kevin Spacey in L.A. Confidential when Guy Pearce expresses doubts about the Nite Owl case.
  • Somehow, Buster Keaton manages to pull out one in The General, a silent film. His deadpan face is like a physical Flat What.
  • Joe Turner in Three Days Of The Condor drops a few after Joubert shoots CIA Deputy Director Atwood when Turner confronts him in his home.
  • The Fifth Element: Zorg's response when he learns one of his lackeys failed to take Korben Dallas' spot on the plane.
  • Fight Club: After Jack explains to Marla Singer that Tyler Durden is a separate personality that he's only just been made aware of, she delivers one that manages to be both flat and epic at the same time.
    • In response to "I want you to hit me as hard as you can."
  • Trinity says this to Neo in The Matrix when he says that Morpheus thinks he's something he's not.
  • In National Treasure, Ben responds with this when his dad tells him he doesn't have the Silence Dogood letters.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids - this is Diane's initial reaction when Wayne tells her that his shrinking machine zapped their kids. It becomes a sharper "What?!" as she realizes the implications.
  • Equilibrium: The Nethers squad commander, after Preston kills two of his men. With their own shotguns. simultaneously.
  • There's a fantastic example in Team America: World Police after Spottswoode tells Gary that he will have regained his trust if he performs oral sex on him. It Makes Sense in Context... kinda.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The first evil-ex "boss battle" is already beyond absurd to everyone present in the scene, from Matthew Patel's crashing-in appearance to Scott surprisingly fending him off in fantastical fashion, but when Patel breaks out into a Bollywood-esque number (with demon hipster chicks) in the middle of the fight, a disbelieving Stacy Pilgrim can only manage a "what."
  • Toward the end of Super 8 after Joe is speaking with the Alien, and the Alien sets Joe down very nicely and starts to leave Cary delivers an extremely confounded Flat What.
  • In Full Metal Jacket, an officious The Neidermeyer type Colonel confronts Pvt. Joker about his peace sign necklace and helmet which reads "Born to Kill".
    Joker: I'm trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir!
    Colonel: What.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Aragorn does this when Gimli asks him to toss him to the stone bridge leading to the gate of Helm's Deep, claiming that he "cannot jump the distance".
    • This is also Gollum's reaction when Sméagol tells him to "Leave now and never come back!"
  • Wreck-It Ralph has this when Ralph says that he doesn't want to be the bad guy anymore, in which Bowser spits fire and Clyde, like the Pac-Man games, turns blue. Cut to the other bad guys, and Kano says that he can't mess with the programming. M. Bison says, "You're not going turbo, are you?" Ralph replies that he is not going turbo.
  • In A Goofy Movie, Goofy says this in response to Pete telling him that Max had changed their road map so that they are heading to Los Angeles. Pete also uses this when Goofy says that he doesn't believe him on that.
    Pete: You're kid's dupin' ya.
    Goofy: What do you mean?
    Pete: Well, I heard the little mutant telling PJ that he changed the map so... you're headin' straight to L.A., pal.
    Goofy: What.
    Pete: Oh, you tried, Goof. He's just a bad kid, that's all.
    Goofy: I don't believe you, Pete.
    Pete: What.
    Goofy: I don't believe you.
    Pete: Well, hey, don't take my word for it. Check your map.
  • Disney's Aladdin features a memorable example between Iago and Jafar:
    Iago: To think we gotta keep kissing up to that chump, and his chump daughter for the rest of our lives...
    Jafar: No, Iago. Only until she finds a chump husband. Then she'll have us banished—or beheaded!
    [Both shudder.]
    Iago: Oh! Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Jafar? What if you were the chump husband?
    Jafar: What.
  • In Police Academy, when Lt. Harris is asking who has prior military experience and Mahoney raises his hand:
    Harris: You have had prior military training, Mahoney?
    Mahoney: Yes, sir, but not in this life.
    Harris: What.
    Mahoney: In a previous life I served with Her Majesty's forces in India.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Eddie does this when he hears that Marvin Acme has been murdered.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy, this is Ronan's reaction when Quill interrupts his epic final speech by singing and dancing to "Ooh Child" and then challenging Ronan to a dance-off.

    Literature 
  • Attributed to Richard Nixon as the epigraph to the fourth part of Gravitys Rainbow.
  • In The Zigzag Kid, Nono says "What is this" instead of asking, because he's too shocked to "wrinkle his voice at the end to make a question" when he finds out his friend the Con Man is also his grandfather.
  • Harry Dresden occasionally punctuates "what" without a question mark.

    Live Action TV 
  • Family Ties: This was Alex P. Keaton's response to Mallory and Nick's decision to get married.
  • Blackadder uses this fairly regularly.
    Blackadder: Right Baldrick, let's try again shall we? This is called adding. If I have two beans, and then I add two more beans, what do I have?
    Baldrick: Some beans.
    Blackadder: (pause) Yes...and no. Let's try again, shall we? I have two beans, then I add two more beans. What does that make?
    Baldrick: A very small casserole.
    Blackadder: Baldrick, the ape creatures of the Indus have mastered this. Now try again. One, two, three...
    Baldrick: Four!
    Blackadder: So how many are there?
    Baldrick: Three.
    Blackadder: What.
    Baldrick: And that one.
    Blackadder: Three... and that one. So if I add that one to the three, what will I have?
    Baldrick: Oh! Some beans.
    Blackadder: Yes. To you Baldrick, the Renaissance was just something that happened to other people, wasn't it?
  • Mad Men: Don Draper is fond of this.
  • The Tenth Doctor in second Doctor Who series gets in at least one of these per season. Often combined with a Triple Take.
    • His first use of it may have been in "Army of Ghosts", when the Cyber-Leader reveals the Cybus Cybermen didn't build the Void ship that broke the barrier between universes.
    • Used exquisitely in both "Voyage of the Damned" and the mini-episode "Time Crash" (which reuse the same scene). The prow of (what looks like) an antiquated (read: early 20th century) ocean-liner smashes through to the interior of the TARDIS (while the TARDIS is in space!) and the Doctor, as any sane man would, responds in surprise. And then repeats himself for emphasis. Finally, upon discovering that the ship is, in fact, the Titanic, he finishes off in a perfectly flat "What."
    • Also used in his first encounter with Donna Noble (at the end of series 2's final episode "Doomsday" and again, when the same scene is replayed at the start of the Christmas Special "The Runaway Bride"), when she suddenly, inexplicably appears out of thin air inside the flying TARDIS and starts berating him.
    • The Eleventh Doctor, too. And Amy.
    • Eleven's flattest one was probably in "Closing Time"
    Sales Lady: "Well there is the silver rat..."
    Doctor: *turns around slowly*
    Doctor: "What."
    • The Fourth Doctor was very fond of saying "what", too.
    • Martha does one in "Gridlock", when she learns that a ten-mile trip on "the motorway" in New New York will take six years.
    • In "The Eleventh Hour", this is Young Amy's reaction when the Doctor tells her that the blue box he crashed in is actually a time machine.
  • Hannah Montana uses this at least Once per Episode.
  • In one episode of White Collar, Neal is given tranquilizers and strapped to a bed. When Peter finds him, Neal's still in the bed (singing, no less) even though he freed himself a while ago.
    Peter: We gotta get you out of these binds.
    Neal: Oh, you mean these? (raises arms and straps fall to the floor) What.
  • The Muppet Show: Sam the American Eagle looses a fine one on learning that his requested concerto would be played by The Electric Mayhem. Sam is rather famous for these. He has a particularly beautiful one while reading "The Ant and the Grasshopper"; he reads the traditional Aesop's fable until he reaches the last line:
    Sam: And so it was, dear listeners... that the Grasshopper drove his sports car to Florida, and the Ant got stepped on.
    beat
    Sam: WHAT.
  • Cameron Mitchell of Stargate SG-1 says "what" with varying inflections so often that he's been accused of using it as his Catch Phrase. Obviously, at least one Flat What has come up.
  • In Skins, Emily launches one when Katie tells her she does have to ask her who she sleeps with.
  • In Teen Wolf, Jackson's reaction at being demoted to co-captain... alongside Scott.
  • Both forms are running gags on Titus; the flat what is often used by Ken Titus, usually toward an unseen observer of his behavior.
  • LOST has a few of these.
  • Community, right after Jeff telling off Abed's father for trying to control Abed vaguely backfires:
    Abed's Dad: Fine! You want to raise him? You raise him! I'm out!
    Jeff: What.
    • This was Troy's reaction when Pierce brought his late mother's essence (a lava lamp) to class.
  • In Power Rangers Mystic Force, this was Koragg's reaction when Nick rode in to battle on Koragg's own Cool Horse, Catastros. Previously, Koragg had been the only one able to tame and ride Catastros.
  • Frequently, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on their respective shows in response to stupid world events.
  • Barbara Walters interviewed Herman Cain as one of her most fascinating people of 2011 and gave this when he answered a question about theoretical cabinet positions with he would like to be Secretary of Defense. This from a man who admitted (and demonstrated) he didn't know squat about foreign affairs.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Jenna's reaction upon learning that John Gilbert is Elena's father.
  • Third Watch: After a bad night, Doc does the math on how much they make on each run. Faith's response to the $13.85 is a Flat What.
  • David Letterman tends to quickly bolt out one if he hears something over the course of his show that's weird or otherwise catches him off-guard.
  • Life's Captain Tidwell reverses the usual scenario by using the Flat What as his go-to response to other people's reactions to his odd comments.
  • At the end of Torchwood: Miracle Day, when the team finds out that because of the blood transfusion, Rex is as immortal as Jack, Jack, Gwen and Rex let out three Flat Whats in a row. Doubles a Call Back to the Doctor Who examples above.
  • In The Booth at the End The Man, normally unflappable, has this reaction to learning that Willem kidnapped and is keeping prisoner the girl he agreed to protect so he could "be the hero."
  • In The Catherine Tate Show, Kate (Catherine Tate) insists that Ellen (Ella Kenion) guess how old her salsa instructor thought she was. Ellen guesses 42, prompting a flat "what" from Kate although you can still tell she was restraining her anger.
    Kate: Guess how old tony thought I was.
    Ellen: I really wouldn't like to.
    Kate: Go on, just guess!
    Ellen: Forty-two?
    Kate: What.
    Ellen: Forty-eight?
  • Good Luck Charlie:
    Amy: I made Charlie, so, in some way, I made that painting too!
    Bob: But honey, by that logic, I made that painting too.
    Amy: Oh really? So you carried that painting inside of you for nine months?
    Bob: What.
  • In the BBC Version of Sherlock, in "A Scandal in Belgravia", right before they go to visit Irene Adler, Sherlock asks John to punch him in the face. This is his response.
  • Here is a collection of all the times someone on Star Trek: The Next Generation said "What". From Big "WHAT?!" to Flat What to all the whats in between.
  • In The Office (US), this is Pam's reaction in the Season 2 finale when Jim confesses his love for her.

    Manhwa 
  • Witch Hunter: This is Tanya's reaction to Tasha being a boy.

    Music 
  • Frank Zappa: Happens during A Token Of My Extreme from Joe's Garage
    Joe: "Are you telling me I should come out the closet now, Mr. Ron?"
    L. Ron Hoover: "No my son, you must go INTO THE CLOSET!"
    Joe: "What?"
    L. Ron Hoover: "And you will have..."
    Joe: "He?"
    L. Ron Hoover: "... a lot of fun!"
  • Bryan Adams and his producer both had this reaction when informed for his next song, what it was they wished for him to come up with. A song about a male stripper. Cue Bryan's "What."
  • The Japanese pop duo WaT has nothing to do with this trope. The comments on their YouTube video, however...
  • In The Lonely Island's song "Jack Sparrow'' this is the reaction Andy Samberg gives when Michael Bolton interrupts their Boastful Rap with..this:
    Michael Bolton: (singing) This is the tale of Captain Jack Sparrow. Pirate so brave on the seven seas.
    Andy: What.
  • In Eminem's Just Lose It, he tells a male chorus to grab their left nuts to make their right ones jealous. This is their response.
  • The lyrics to Christina Aguilera's song "Dirrty" ends with one.
  • Taylor Swift's "We are Never Ever Getting Back Together" has one.

    New Media 
  • Pick an image hosting site or image forum, any you can think of, that allows people to tag the images. Search for any images labelled wat or what, and that's exactly what it'll get out of you. Expect the results to cross over with Nightmare Fuel and/or Nausea Fuel.
  • Cinnamon Bunzuh!: Ifi's reaction after reading The Capture.
  • The "LOL WUT" meme.
  • The unofficial Aetolia: The Midnight Age wiki has an entire page devoted to this trope here.
  • Pretty much the primary catchphrase of the Goosebumps series review blog Blogger Beware.
  • Uttered by Ironyuppie in AH.com: The Series "Casino Imperiale", after she finds out that Landshark beat her nemesis before she could.
  • The RPGNet Hive Mind is fond of "man what" (no punctuation) as a response to any completely brain-spraining statement.
    • Notably inspired by and associated with (by those in the know) a certain photograph of Bob Marley in a state of absolute man what
    • The hive mind seems to have determined it actually came as a response to someone discussing the Inferi from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince... to the tune of "The Happy Wanderer" (the "Valderie, Valdera" song). "In-fer-iiiii... in-fer-aaaaaaa..." The first post after that was a prematurely-launched post consisting entirely of "man what"
      • NOTE: The absence of a period at the end of the previous entry is entirely deliberate and proper. The phrase expresses such a profound and utter state of confusion that it eradicates any and all punctuation and grammar within a radius of one post.
  • Inventing Swear Words 4 has a good example, right after Stag complains to the GM that every other class is more powerful with him, to which the GM responds with a "What." Made funnier by how Stag then demands that every class be nerfed except his, which is, without even a beat, followed by the GM teleporting him away.
  • Very good one in The Fine Bros.' Kids React to Nyan Cat, at 3:01.
  • Vixen used this to describe a scene from Revolutionary Girl Utena. The scene in question has Utena jump down from a balcony, tear off her own dress to reveal her uniform, take a table cloth from a nearby table, then form a dress to cover her heterosexual life partner Anthy's Wardrobe Malfunction.
  • A staple in the commentaries at The Classic Doctor Who Twitter Blog. Frequently goes hand-in-hand with "Wait." Lots of them.
  • The page quote is from Mark Reads Twilight, a truly insightful blog not for Twilight fans.
  • It's become NothingNow's defacto Catch Phrase in AH.Com: The Creepy Teen Years.
  • In Charlie The Unicorn 2, Charlie reacts this way when he and his two... um... friends encounter a giant letter Z.
    Blue: ˇEl hombre con el sombrero nos envió!
    Pink: ˇÉl nos cuenta muchas historias asombrosas!
    Z: (makes pinging noises)
    Blue and Pink: Hohohoho!
    Charlie: ...what.
  • On various image-sharing sites, "what" is used as a tag for bizarre, shocking, or absurd images, usually involving physical or anatomical impossibilities. Most Nearly all examples will be NSFW at the least, so seek them out at your own risk.
  • In Freeman's Mind, he says this when he is confronted with an elevator that finally goes up, but is blocked by boxes of explosives.
    • Adrian Shephard in Shephard's Mind does this twelve times in response to unleashing a swarm of snarks.And again:
      Jon: I'd be down with a cool black star like that.
      Emile: Actually, it's official name is Ztar.
      Jon: ... What.
  • Don't tell my dad!
  • A very popular subject of Image Macros.
  • Survival of the Fittest: There was an infamous death in v2 involving Spontaneous Human Combustion. Said character's post-game evaluation on the wiki is, of course, one of these.
  • During the production of A Super Mario Thing on the talkhaus forums, this was raocow's reaction upon discovering that Rule 34 had been made of Demo (the main character of ASMT and Raocow's own creation; a female demon alien minion with no arms, blue hair, and a face composed of a single giant eye).
  • The Biting Pear of Salamanca (otherwise known as the "LOL WUT" pear), which probably deserves its own page.
  • Smart Bitches, Trashy Books sometimes resorts to this, such as in a review of a (thankfully short) e-book called ''Ravished By the Triceratops'' (NSFW, obviously}.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Want to know why "What?" became Stone Cold Steve Austin's main Catch Phrase during the Ruthless Aggression Era? It's because up until that point, there were many commentators in the WWE that would react to a particular, questionable statement a wrestler made during a promo with "what?"
    • Of course, lord help us, since Austin introduced the phrase, we get to hear the audience go "What" every single time anyone does pauses during a promo...even today!

    Video Games 
  • The Second Life griefing group "W-Hat" takes its name from this.
  • In Recettear, a very flat "What." is spouted by Tear in a pub conversation where a very drunk Charme says, unflinchingly, that she became a thief out of necessity, but eventually grew to like the whole "being a murderous thug" thing..
  • In Touhou 10.5: Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, Alice pulls one after being defeated by Remilia in the latter's story.
    Remilia Scarlet: To make rain fall, you... control dolls...
    Alice Margatroid: What.
    Remilia Scarlet: Hey, Sakuya, that makes no sense! Bring up the next!
  • In the Boss Rush of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, this is most possible characters' reaction to Ultros.
  • A very flat what appears in the intro to WCW/nWo: Revenge, when a truck driver notices that Sting has lit a bunch of barrels on fire in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. Dodgy voice acting may be to blame.
  • This is Qualstio's reaction to seeing Tatzylvurm in The Reconstruction.
  • From Katawa Shoujo:
    Kenji: That blind broad is up to no good; I can feel it in my spleen, man. Her presence is like a dark shadow that's in the way of my great vision. As expected of blind people.
    Hisao: What.
    • And again in Lilly's route:
    Kenji: I've confirmed that Lilly is in the Mafia.
    Hisao: What.
    • Come to think of it, just about any interaction with Kenji tends to have this effect on Hisao, even if it isn't always played straight in the actual dialogue.
  • Raz of Psychonauts gives a perfectly flat "What." when the true identity of The Phantom is revealed. Rightfully so, because it's Jasper. How can all that fat fit into that cloak?
  • Nick from Lollipop Chainsaw is full of these.
  • The tsundere AI, *Mute, from Analogue: A Hate Story fires of a bunch of these over the course of the game.
  • Upon waking up for the first time as a zombie in Kingdom of Loathing as part of the special challenge path Zombie Master, and seeing your gravestone, this is your response.
  • One of the post-battle skits in Tales of Graces has this.
    Asbel: Sometimes, I can't help but regret the past.
    Cheria: Asbel...
    Asbel: Why didn't I push hard for a raise in my allowance?!
    Cheria and Hubert: What.
  • Raiden gives off a couple in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
  • Junpei utters one in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors after Santa tells him he hates the number 4 for being a "half-ass number".
    • In the sequel Virtue's Last Reward, Sigma lets one out upon discovering the body of the old woman in his and Phi's AB room. It quickly becomes a Big "WHAT?!".
  • Constitutes a Crowning Moment of Funny in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, after Starlow finally runs out of quips regarding the Massif Bros.' bizarre obsession with beef.
  • In the most recent Disgaea Dimension 2, Laharl has one of these after Sicily, the angel who came to take over his Overlordship, reveals herself to be his Little sister.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, this and Big "WHAT?!" tends to be Alistair's standard reaction to the Warden's eccentric hiring policy for new companions, especially in the case of an assassin who had only moments before tried to murder them all.
    • Morrigan delivers one when Flemeth reveals she's sending her with the Warden's party. Subverted later on, when it's revealed this was actually their plan all along.
  • As per her role as one of the Only Sane Men of BlazBlue, Makoto has uttered this trope a few times. The most notorious involved the absurdity of the casting in her gag reel (one of which was silenced by Ragna of all people), but she has done it in canon - namely, after heading off with Noel to get some food after first contact with Kagura.
    Makoto: I can't believe that guy.
    Noel: Makoto... I think Kagura... might be a good person.
    Makoto: *exasperated* What the hell. You are one cheap date.

    Web Comics 

    Web Video 
  • The Nostalgia Critic's review of Alone in the Dark (2005):
    N.C. (Through Speakonia): How did you get in here?
    Spoony: I'm from the future.
    N.C. (Through Speakonia): What.
    • The same site's Bum Reviews give us this, from the review of Burn After Reading:
      Chester A. Bum: And at the end, something happens, but at the same time, nothing happens! What.
    • "You, your mate, and your Johnson."
      • A particularly good example is when he figures out the evil plan in Future 5.
    • The Nostalgia Critic also does this in his review of The Room.
      NC: Where are we?
      NC of the future: The future!
      NC: Okay, but...why are we downstairs in the basement?
      NC of the future: Oh, it's the only place we can hide to stay away from the seahorses.
      NC: Oh, okay.
      (beat)
      NC: What.
    • Then there's the Critic's reaction to the plot twist of The Secret Of Nimh 2...
  • The Nostalgia Chick made good use of this too when she reviewed Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, letting out three in quick succession:
    Tim Curry: They can't fall in love...if they're DEAD!
    Nostalgia Chick: What.
    [cue noise and running around as the Tim Curry tries to kill Belle and the Beast through the power of dramatic organ music]
    Nostalgia Chick: What.
    [The Beast throws a piano at organ!Tim Curry]
    Nostalgia Chick: What... EVER, please, for the love of God, END!
  • The Cinema Snob got one in Kickassia when The Nostalgia Critic revealed that yes, he really did order twenty tons of dynamite.
  • Obscurus Lupa gave one in her review of "Fatal Deviation", when out of nowhere, with no bearing to the plot, there's a naked man in a cowboy hat taking a bath outside.
  • Nash uses it so often, it ought to be classified as one of his catch phrases. But then, considering the nature of his show's content, it seems natural.
  • Used as a tag on the imagesite Danbooru for those images that make no sense whatsoever. A user was quoted as saying, "Does it make your brain shut down for a second when you see it? Then it's a 'what' picture."
    • On some "booru" image sites there's also a "no seriously what" tag, for when "what" is not enough.
  • In this review of Eversion one reviewer has already written the game off as a generic Super Mario Bros. clone, when the second reviewer casually mentions 'and then there's your power to warp reality to your whims'. The first reviewer's response is of course 'What.'
  • SMA the Movie: Promise of the Lost Rose
    Kisenian: Fiore, go! Kill him! He's shitfaced; it'll be easy.
    Fiore: But... he's my lover.
    Kisenian: ... What.
  • Dragon Ball Abridged gave us a great one: Piccolo and Krillin use the Multi-Form technique to attack Nappa, but Nappa is still able to dodge their attacks. Piccolo ponders what kind of training Nappa had gone through to be so powerful, but Nappa is simply singing Patty-Cake in time to his attacks. Afterwards we get this:
    Nappa: Good effort, but I'm still the patty-cake champion!
    Piccolo: What.
    • Another one in Episode 16:
      Yamcha: What the hell? I waxed off everything! I waxed off your car, I waxed off your house, I even waxed off your monkey!
      Piccolo: Okay, I just started paying attention - what.
    • Aaaand Episode 15:
      Vegeta: Look at you, Dodoria. You're always so damn proud. And now here you are, crying like a woman!
      Dodoria: I am a woman!
      (Beat)
      Vegeta: What.
    • Heck, Team Four Star is the king of these!
      Nail: Learn your place earthling! you have some nerve demanding-
      Guru: Here take it.
      Nail: I... what.
    • Here's another one from their Bardock Special:
      Zarbon: Mm, too bad. And that Bardock was such a dashing rogue.
      Dodoria: What.
    • This was also Shenron's reaction in the Christmas Tree of Might Christmas Special when the group summons him and go on about the forest being devastated by fire. Naturally Shenron thinks they want him to restore life to the forest, but Krillin's response that nah, Krillin just wants a great Christmas tree first makes Shenron do a Flat What, then marks his breaking point from being a Benevolent Genie into a Jackass Genie.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged:
    Kuwabara: Urameshi... I need you to finger bang me.
    Yusuke: What.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series:
    Dartz: Here's what we're gunnah do, mayn. We're gonna find Yuu-gay Mowtoe, and we're gunnah take his dick.
    Rafael: What.
  • From A Very Potter Musical, Snape's reaction to Cedric's reaction to Snape's House roll call:
    Snape: Hufflepuff...
    Cedric: FIND!
    Snape: What.
  • In Nakar's Ultima VI Let's Play, during the parodic "cannon"ical ending, Draxinusom utters the Gargish version of this upon seeing something truly bizarre:
    Draxinusom: To be saying what.
  • On LoadingReadyRun's Daily Drop feature at The Escapist, the utter indestructibility of one object lead the captions to declare, "DOES NOT COMPUTE", "SERIOUSLY?" and finally the Flat What.
  • In Red vs. Blue, at the start of Season 10 Church finds out that while he's been in the Memory Unit (Which makes up most of Season 9's plot), Washington has replaced him fully. His reaction is hilarious:
    Caboose: We sort of call the new guy Church, y'know, sometimes.
    Church: What.
  • This video collects hundreds of these scenes from various webcomics.
  • In the C Boyardee animation Dilbert 3, Alice delivers one in response to a murderous Dilbert's "ranch or cool ranch" Doritos trick questions before she is promptly shot after answering "ranch".
  • Sonic In Jaws:
    Conker: Nice hairdo.
    Sonic: What.
  • A large number of Team Fortress 2 fan-videos chop up speech lines from the game to give the characters appropriate dialogue for the situation at hand. The Engineer often has one of his taunts cut short to just "What?" due to the delivery making him come off as quite incredulous, where other classes' voice clips would just make them come off as angry. This video is just one example.
  • Lets Drown Out had Gabriel offer this reaction when Yahtzee challenges him to observe, then explain one of Curse Of Enchantia's many surreal Solve the Soup Cans-type puzzles.
    Yahtzee: "Okay, theories? That was the puzzle, by the way, we now have the sticks we needed."
    *Beat.*
    Gabe: "What."
    *Yahtzee laughs.*

    Western Animation 
  • Lisa Simpson is fond of this expression. Notably, the episode "Bart's Inner Child" and motivational speaker Brad Goodman:
    Brad Goodman: Young man, what made you yell out that remark?
    Bart: I dunno...
    Brad Goodman: You just wanted to... express yourself, yes?
    Bart: I do what I feel like.
    Brad Goodman: Why, that's marvelous! 'I do what I feel like'. Ladies and gentlemen... this little boy here is the inner child that I've been talking about.
    (cut to Lisa, who is wearing an expression of Tranquil Fury.)
    Lisa: What.
  • South Park:
    • Cartman gives one in "T.M.I." when he finds out that the school actually didn't post the boys' penis sizes.
    • Cartman also does it in "Crack Baby Athletic Association" when Kyle proposes using 30% of the company's profits to build an orphanage for the crack babies.
    • In the later seasons the boys' Functional Genre Savvy (especially Stan) has reduced many of their reactions (to ever-increasingly improbable events) to "what." Sometimes they upgrade it to a deadpan "Dude, what the fuck?".
  • In the second season premičre of The Venture Bros., this is the reaction of The Monarch to escaping from prison through the sewers, grasping the arm of what he believes to be one of his henchmen, and finding that it is instead the arm of Doctor Venture (and that the rest of the doctor is elsewhere, due to a teleportation accident.)
  • Teen Titans
    • The episode "Troq". Cyborg and Starfire (well, Cyborg's doing the talking) inform Robin that "Troq" is a very offensive anti-Tamaranian slur (they had been assuming it was just a nickname, as they had all been given one). His Flat What is one of the few times it's not intended to be funny.
    • Robin also gets a Flat What of the second variety in "Apprentice, Part One", as Slade is revealing his We Can Rule Together ploy. Like the first example, it's not very funny.
    • In "Every Dog Has Its Day" when the Titans decide that what they really need to catch the alien dog-thing they're chasing (which has been constantly jumping on Raven and enthusiastically licking her every time it sees her) is "some bait". Raven gives the flattest "...what." you will EVER hear.
  • In The Batman's fourth season premiere, "The Batman/Superman Story", Lex Luthor can only manage a strained "Whaaat" when it becomes clear his plans have been foiled and Superman is hovering just outside of his Humongous Mecha.
  • Kim Possible does this occasionally, such as when she finds out Monique is a huge wrestling fan.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the gang is talking about some strange creature, and Aang simply gives a perfect flat "What."
  • This trope is Butt-Head's immediate reaction to the music video for "Real American" by Rick Derringer.
  • In a "Dial M for Monkey' cartoon on Dexter's Laboratory, the Justice Friends say this after Rasslor's big melodramatic speech.
  • In Total Drama Noah gives out one of these after watching the Japanese Total Drama Action promo.
  • Futurama: Bender delivers this after being asked, "Have you any idea how it feels to be a fembot living in a manbot's manputer's world?"
  • The Powerpuff Girls give a flat "say what?" in "Him Diddle Riddle" when they find that they have gone through white heat solving Him's riddles only to fail the last one, and now the Professor will pay... full price for a pancake breakfast. Even the narrator can't finish his "once again the day is saved" bit.
  • Adventures of the Gummi Bears pulled one or two. Gusto Gummi had carved a wooden statue of a Gummi Bear that artistically parodied the Statue of Liberty, then it promptly got devoured by a super termite. Cue "What."
  • Spike, who really should be used to this sort of thing by now, gets one in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Fall Weather Friends" when Pinkie Pie goes off on a tangent about how grudge rhymes with fudge while the two are announcing for a race.
  • On Daria, when she reads from Trent's journal of song lyrics.
    Daria: "My heart is like an open wound/That reads the tea leaves of its doom." What. "Soothe me with redemption's love/Like a heat-proof kitchen glove." God, I hope this is a first draft.
  • In Hoodwinked, Red Puckett delivers one in reaction to seeing Japeth wearing a set of horns that have helicopter blades built into them.
  • In Adventure Time, Marceline drops this after Finn says a suggestive line.
    Marceline: Finn, you're like an ant to him.
    Finn: Oh yeah? Well, this ant's about to get in his pants.
    Marceline: ...What.
    Finn: (blushes) Well--You know!
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "A Real Boy", Vanessa has this reaction when her father mistakenly says that he wishes he had a son instead of a daughter:
    Dr. Doofenschmirtz: What? You're wearing headphones? So you haven't heard a thing I've said all day...
    Vanessa: Why do you think I wear the headphones?
    Dr. Doofenschmirtz: So you're not mad at me for saying I'd rather have a son than a daughter like you?
    Vanessa: What.
    Dr. Doofenschmirtz: Oh, nothing, nothing! Just... (puts the headphones back in Vanessa's ears) put these back on... there you go. (leaves)
    Vanessa: Whatever.
  • Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy: Princess Peach when Mario asks her if he can have a kiss after he rescues her.
  • Used frequently on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, as seen here.


Say "what" again! Say! "what"! again! I dare you! I double-dare you, motherfucker! Say "what" one more goddamn time!
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alternative title(s): Small What; Headscratching Moment Of Huh
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