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When a character asks a question, and the movie cuts, pans, or otherwise shifts to an image of the implied answer. A variant of this will have the character make a significant remark (e.g., "Some people just naturally make fools of themselves"), and the camera cuts to a character doing exactly that sort of thing. A still further variant is to have another character, completely uninvolved with the first conversation, answer the question with a line identifying the answer ("What kind of loser takes a job at Burger Fool?" "Hey, did your brother tell you he got a new job?").
The usual question is Who Would Be Stupid Enough...??, but there are many questions that can be answered this way. It is a critical tactic if the viewers need to know the answer, but the character asking for it must be kept in the dark.
In literature, the usual accompanying phrase is "As if in response...".
Compare to Gilligan Cut.
- Azumanga Daioh: Who screamed at the cockroach first? Who suggested that everyone's stuffed animals be brought and put on display? The answer to both questions appears to be Sakaki, though we have only the editing as proof.
- As seen from the page image, lampshaded in Archie Sonic issue #124. The context is that Robotnik was complaining about being attacked by some alien invader, though the king didn't believe him because of his past treachery. When Sonic asks, as in the page image, who would be responsible if it were true, said alien invaders send out a telepathic message not only about what they're doing but also about why they're doing it. They say that a while ago, they sent an emissary to offer an alliance with the human species, but, instead, humans dissected it, and thus the Xorda are out to destroy the whole planet in retaliation.
- In the first Clerks comic book, Randall is seen leaving Steve-Dave and Walt's comic shop after having pissed them off. Walt asks, "What kind of place would hire a guy like that anyway?" Next page: an establishing shot of Quick Stop and RST Video.
- Fused with Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking in one X-Men comic as Iceman and Angel find themselves taking on a massive alien. Iceman demands to know where the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and military are. Cut to the Avengers being held in force bubbles by Kang the Conqueror, the Fantastic Four being trapped by Annihilus, and the military...well...
- Kyon: Big Damn Hero's prologue includes, among other things, Kyon being attacked by Asakura Ryouko, having possession of a lot of supernatural tools his canon counterpart doesn't have, and Haruhi not batting much of an eye to Kyon's admission Asakura is an humanoid interface like Yuki. At some point after that, Kyon asks himself, "It started off such a nice day, too. How had it come to this, anyway...?". Cue scene change to the first non-prologue scene.
- That little pan to Palpatine at the end of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
- The movie Airport, where the Customs agent is curious about the flight his niece will be taking and turns to the Airline Passenger Supervisor, Mrs. Livingston. "Oh, with all this snow, do you think it will take off on time?" The film then cuts to a reservation agent who says, "Flight Two, The Golden Argosy, will depart on schedule", and then cuts back to the man on the phone who had called her, who says, "Thank You." Very slickly done.
- A variant of this happens in Superman Returns, when Jimmy shows Lois and Perry a photograph of sky with a red dot:
Lois Lane: It's a bird.
- The trailer for the 2009 Watchmen shows someone beating up Edward Blake, and immediately cuts to Ozymandias. Twice. A unique example in that you would only notice it if you already knew the answer beforehand.
- The Mummy 1999:
Dr. Chamberlain: They are led by a woman. What does a woman know?
- This is, of course, immediately before we cut to Evelyn explaining exactly what she knows about the situation.
- The X-Files movie (the first one) had one of the Consortium say, in reference to Mulder, "Then you must take away what he holds most valuable, that with which he can't live without." Immediate cut to Scully. And Chris Carter claims he's not a shipper.
- At the beginning of Shrek 2, Prince Charming asks who Princess Fiona is on honeymoon with. The scene immediately cuts to Shrek's face.
- In Hercules, Hades awakens the titans so that they can assist him in overthrowing his brother Zeus. However, there's one titan who Hades DOESN'T take with him to Mount Olympus: Arges the Cyclops. Instead, he tells Arges that he has a special job for him. Cut to Arges searching for Hercules (and causing chaos in Greece in the process).
- The Lord of the Rings: During a conversation at the Hall of Meduseld in The Two Towers, Gandalf asks Theoden, "And what is the King's decision?". An offscreen voice over starts to say "By order of the King, the city must empty! We make for the refuge of Helm's Deep", cutting to a shot of Rohan refuges preparing to leave.
- The Mist: early on, Brent's car has been destroyed by a fallen tree. He casually asks, "You wouldn't happen to be going into town today...?" Immediately cut to them in David's landrover.
- Fritz Lang does this a lot in his German films. Particularly in The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, almost every scene cut 'responds' in some way to the preceding scene, sometimes subtly and sometimes not.
- Fritz Lang also did this in Metropolis. After rescuing the children from the flooded worker's city, she asks, "Why are all the lights out?" Cut to the workers dancing around the destroyed machines that caused it.
- In Dracula's Daughter, Dr Garth asks "What could have made those two small puncture marks on the neck?", and, immediately, a maid announces, "Countess Zalenska!"
- This exchange is actually a reference to the original Dracula film.
Johnathan Harker: What could have caused those marks, Professor?
- And in Dracula: Dead and Loving It, this is picked up once more. One character asks, rhetorically, who in England could possibly be a vampire. Immediately, the maid announces "Count Dracula." The character who asks concedes, "All right, maybe him."
- In Bride of Frankenstein, Elizabeth describes a vision of an evil apparition which will entangle Henry, and says she sees it drawing nearer — nearer — and the camera cuts to the evil Dr. Pretorius knocking at the door.
- In Sinbad the Sailor, when Sinbad informs the look-out Yusuf that all ships have to fly colors, as it is "the law of the sea", Yusuf contemptuously asks, "What law is stronger than Strength?" Immediately, the evil Emir's Pirate myna-bird swoops into shot, shrieking, "Jamal! Jamal!"
- In the 1939 version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, Dr. Mortimer's wife, conducting a seance, asks the spirit of the victim, "Tell us, Sir Charles! Who was it that killed you?"—to be answered by an eerie "AROOOOOOOOO!" from off the moor.
- Played with in Fantastic Mr. Fox. Having successfully trapped the animals underground, a character asks his fellows, "How long can a fox go without food or water?" Cut to Kylie saying to the camera "Well, I can only answer as an opossum, but I don't think I can last more than another couple of hours before I get completely dehydrated and starve to death." After that, we cut further back and he doesn't appear to be talking to anyone in particular.
- Used in The Sixth Sense when Cole says to Malcom, "I see dead people", it not only cuts to Malcolm, who is dead, but slowly zooms in on him. At first, the filmmakers didn't even want to include this shot, fearing it might give away the ending.
- The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "Who would be so stupid as to sign the order to destroy Earth?" Cut to Zaphod wearing a "thinking cap" (fueled by lemons) and grinning like an idiot.
- At the end of the Opening Narration for Beauty and the Beast, the narrator asks "Who could love a beast?" We then fade into Belle walking to town.
- "How long must this reef live under siege? Is there no hero among us? Who can stop this shark menace?" Cut to Oscar.
- A stealth Answer Cut appears in Terry Pratchett's Pyramids, in which the narrative relates how the greatest mathematician in the world has just looked up in astonishment, having sensed something weird happening with the numbers. Cut to Teppic looking at a camel, who turns out to be that mathematician. Bonus points because, when read the first time, it appears that the camel's mind is wholly engaged in detesting Teppic, because that's what its expression implies.
- Lampshaded in Mort:
Princess: You're a wizard. I think there's something you ought to know.
- Used at least once a book by David Weber.
- The Boscombe Valley Mystery: As Sherlock Holmes is about to reveal the identity of the murderer, a servant announces his entry.
- In the TV adaptation of The Colour of Magic, again at the beginning, the classic question is answered by a cut to Twoflower.
- The Friends season 7 finale. Chandler asks Monica, "If you're not pregnant, who is?" Then the camera settles on Rachel.
- The Doctor Who episode "The Big Bang" plays with this. After Rory accidentally shoots Amy, he's holding her, wishing for a "ridiculous miracle." Right as he finishes the sentence, in pops the Doctor, wearing a fez and holding a mop.
Jenny: [Admiring The Doctor on a video screen] Clever, isn't he?
- Lost, "The Other Woman": Goodwin asks Juliet, "What could Ben do?" about their affair. Cut to the plane crashing, and Ben sending Goodwin off to infiltrate the tail section.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, "Earshot", Buffy is bedridden due to being unable to control her temporary telepathy. The only cure is the heart of a certain demon. Giles wonders who will kill the demon, since Buffy herself is out of commission. Cut to Angel beating the crap out of the demon.
- Parodied in a later episode, where Giles asks Buffy how she plans to fight the incorporeal manifestation of evil itself. Buffy responds that she has "the best plan ever". Cut to her googling the word "evil."
- Dollhouse: "Omega", the finale of Season 1 as originally aired. Ballard asks where Caroline's original imprint is. Cut to a shot of Wendy waking up in a chair with Caroline in her head.
- In the Battlestar Galactica episode "No Exit," Boomer and Ellen Tigh are talking about The Power of Love on the Cylon baseship. Boomer says, "Who would I want to love?" Cut to Chief Tyrol.
- Used numerous times throughout the seasons of Top Gear.
- Usually a response to "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"?
- Used frequently in Coupling. In the episode "Jane and the Truth Snake", the question "What could possibly be more disappointing?" is followed by a cut to Patrick just before he and Jeff each realize that the other one is the "friend" that Lynda invited to their threesome.
- Desperate Housewives uses this when Katherine taunts Susan, who is working trash detail, by throwing a cup out of her car window. When the supervisor wishes he had seen her license plate, Susan asks, "What could you do with her home address?" Cut to Katherine also picking up trash.
- Done repeatedly to hilarious effect in Laverne and Shirley when, in a typical example, someone would ask, "Who could be stupid enough to do something like that?", resulting in Lenny and Squiggy's iconic "HEEEEELLLOOOOO!"
- Bloom County: When Steve Dallas, as lead singer and spokesman of the metal band Deathtöngue, negotiates a deal with CBS Records, he quotes the lyrics of their next song which goes "Let's run over Lionel Ritchie with a tank". Cut to the CBS CEO sitting in front of a huge portrait of Lionel Ritchie.
Radio Announcer: We have just heard that David Hatch has left Radio Prune to create his own radio station, and it falls upon me to say...three years later.
- Xemnas asks Roxas what his true name is...and before Roxas answers, it immediately cuts to a flashback of Sora, complete with Kairi saying "Sora?" almost immediately after the cut.
- From Age of Mythology:
Odysseus: You don't think [these ships] will make it to Atlantis?
- Hilariously done in this strip of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.
- Hannelore's dream man in Questionable Content.
- Used often in connection with the Rumormongers in the webcomic Station V3.
- A nice, kind of subtle one in Sluggy Freelance:
Torg: Gwynn, Fred was shaping his rice cakes like people and biting off their heads! He was unbalanced! Crazy! The closest thing I've seen in your world to homicidal. After weeks of training, the best he could manage in a life-and-death situation is one barely squashed demon-toe. Do you know what that means for the rest of you?
June: Heh, don't you like it when life answers your questions for you?
- Even if this page of El Goonish Shive is not foreshadowing... Susan spends the first four panels contemplating her not being attracted to anybody in part because she is uncomfortable with men being attracted to her, then wonders just what kind of guy would be her "type"... and then is interrupted by Elliot, who is by far the least pervy (straight) guy that she knows and is comfortable around.
- I'm A Marvel, I'm A DC - In Happy Hour, Joker tells Harly to "Name one (hero) who could possibly stop me." Cut to Spidey serving drinks at Stan's Place. Considered a crowning moment of funny.
Chef: "I know it can be hard, parents, but if you leave it up to the schools to teach sex to kids, you don't know who they're learning it from. It could be from someone who doesn't know, [pans to Mr. Mackey] someone who has a bad opinion of it, [pans to Ms. Choksondik] or even a complete pervert." [pans to Mr. Garrison]
- Teen Titans used a bit of a subversion. Robin is approached by Slade about joining him, and asks "Do we have a deal?" There's a shot of Starfire trying to reach Robin with her communicator, then we see Robin dressing up in his new outfit.
- A straight (and very awesome) example occurs in the fifth season finale. The Brain is making his big villain gloat to a captured Robin, and at the end he asks, "Who among you can possibly stop me now?" It promptly cuts to Beast Boy.