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"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."
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 example:
- "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 are examples of this trope. That's below.
- "What." You've just been witness to something so bizarre, so eye-crossingly stupid (or possibly so mind-crushingly terrifying as to put you beyond the capacity for rational thought), that your brain no longer has the cognitive faculties to put together a more articulate response.
And that's exactly how it's written, too: "what" with a period at the end. 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.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: "What", in this context, is an interjection. Sentences consisting only of an interjection require an exclamation point. Interjections need to end with either an exclamation point or a comma (a dash or ellipse would also work), and (obviously) you can't end a sentence with a comma. "What!" is grammatical, as is "What?" (an interrogative), but "What." is not. However, "What." is how this trope is written, and "What." is how it shall remain. Just because it's not grammatical, doesn't mean it's not expressive. Dialogue is not required to be grammatically correct.
Unless it is being listed as a trope, DO NOT Pothole this trope on other pages.
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 ep20 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?"
- Flat What: 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 embarassing 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 displayin 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?
- 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.
- Honestly, Akiharu's an idiot.
- This is Nozomu Itoshiki's standard reaction to whatever Kafuka Fuura's most recent, outlandish explanation was.
- This is Tanya's reaction to Tasha being a boy.
- 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/Flash Back 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."
- In Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged, we get this gem:
Kuwabara: Urameshi... I need you to finger bang me.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series we get this gem:
Dartz: Here's what we're gunnah do, mayn. We're gonna find Yuu-gay Mowtoe, and we're gunnah take his d?ck.
- Uryuu Minene aka the 9th, a terrorist of some repute, of Mirai Nikki does this when the police officer Nishijima proposes to her. While they were on the run from other police officers. He even has a ring.
- This is Doctor Nemesis's reaction to an unexpected teleport in the X-Men one-shot Blind Science.
- In Joss Whedon's Astonishing X Men, Kitty leaves Emma Frost trapped in a cave beneath the Mansion. She then confronts the hooded leader of the new Hellfire club, who lifts the hood to reveal that she's...Emma Frost! She even declares that defeating her, the White Queen (Emma Frost's nom de guerre), won't be as easy as defeating Emma Frost. Kitty's reaction? "Yeahbuwha?"
- 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).
- In the Order of the Stick "Snips, snails and Dragon Tales" segment where the members of the Order make up stories (read: Take famous stories from Real Life and parody them in a 3.5 context), Roy's retelling of Hamlet has Hamlet (played by Roy) utter this when the play he set up to make Claudius (played by Xykon) admit to his father's murder gets... Slightly derailed (The leader of the theatre troupe was played by Elan, and the rewrite went slightly Off the Rails).
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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 Weekend At Hisaos, hisao has this reaction when one of his old friends explains why he never told him that he's dating Iwanako, the girlfriend he used to have a (mutual) crush on.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Flat What 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!
- 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".
- Attributed to Richard Nixon as the epigraph to the fourth part of Gravity's 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.
- 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 "Last of the Time Lords" and the mini-episode "Time Crash" (which reuse the same scene). The hull of an antiquated ship smashes through to the interior of the TARDIS 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.
- 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.
- Also young Pond when the Doctor tells her his blue box is a time machine.
- Hannah Montana uses this at least once an 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.
- 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:
"And so it was, dear listeners...that the Grasshopper drove his sports car to Florida, and the Ant got stepped on."
- Cameron Mitchell of 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.
- 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!
- 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. Mostly American. Mainly caused by their Politicans/Mediamen.
- 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.
- 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 inverts this amazingly, using the Flat What as his go-to response to other people's reactions to his odd comments.
- The first half of the two-hour pilot of Firefly features one such moment, when Mal opens up Simon's crate, and finds Simon's cryogenically frozen sister inside. Naked.
- 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."
- 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?
- 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.
- 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 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:
- And again in Lilly's route:
Kenji: I've confirmed that Lilly is in the Mafia.
- Also in Lilly's route, when Hanako has an OOC Is Serious Business moment.
Hanako: ...Go away.
Hisao: (narrating) ...What?
- 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?
- Parson Gotti of Erfworld, on Maggie unexpectedly casting a suggestion spell on Stanley to make him leave the room and appoint Parson chief warlord.
- Eight Bit Theater uses this a lot, mostly by Black Mage and Sarda (the latter involving an incident that almost completely broke his brain).
- It's important to note that Sarda (Barring Chaos. Who he turns into.) is the most powerful character in the comic and downright omnipotent, and just had his mind broke by a character who managed to Dual Wield longbows with two arms twice resulting in wielding four bows, each with three arrows apiece loaded.
- The Lich reacts this way after Black Mage pulls a Not Now, Kiddo on him (discussing killing his son, Vilbert, right in front of him, on his own property, without even bothering to turn around to address Lich.)
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Part of a Running Gag is that whenever something on TV mentions him in some fashion (the infamous "McNinja Burgers" from McDonald's, mayor Goodrich fingering him as the partner in the town's zombie defense system), the titular doctor will spend one brief panel staring at the TV in surprise and saying "What." in the next.
- Also, this is how Dan McNinja opens his tirade against the pirates in the bar he's hiding in, declaring his intention to burn the place down on the way out.
- A sort of extended variation of this trope is used for the doctor reacting to how Dan McNinja wound up on fire. "You. Lit. Yourself. On fire. Why did you light yourself on fire." Punctuated as it was in the comic.
- In the Army of One storyline, Doc's reaction to Franz Rainer defending himself against the McNinja clone horde, taking full advantage of the Inverse Ninja Law.
- And then there was that time the Doctor was shocked by his own improbable motorbiking skills. This time with no punctuation whatsoever.
- "Yo ho!" "What."
- In Hark! A Vagrant, Sucre elicits one of these from Bolivar after suggesting that maybe they shouldn't be fighting for freedom all the time. Which, of course, is a completely incomprehensible idea to Bolivar.
- Mort the ghost from Gunnerkrigg Court does this one when Annie has her other undead friends scare the bejeebers out of him (as a roundabout way of apologizing) in this strip. (This one is the setup for it.)
- Mike of College Roomies from Hell has been known to use it.
- In The Last Days of Foxhound, Psycho Mantis' reaction to being told that Berthold could talk. Being psychic and thus differently-brained, Berthold couldn't get through to him.
- Also, this strip:
Liquid: Say, huh... Why don't you levitate yourself up here? You can do that.
Psycho Mantis: Couple of reasons. First, it takes a lot of concentration, and getting blown up sort of threw me off a little. Second, there's a stalactite the size of a goddamned baseball bat lodged in my chest.
Vulcan Raven: Stalagmite.
Psycho Mantis: What.
- Many webcomic artists attribute this to Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics.
- This Bad Gods comic contains one when the secret behind Fleprechaun gold is revealed.
- Occurs in Pictures for Sad Children a couple of times.
- This Blank It comic is both named for, and delivers, upon Aric finding that the world contains an infinite loop.
- Questionable Content has a good one from Faye.
- Seen in this Collar 6 strip.
- Mike Warner of Shortpacked! had this reaction upon learning that Amber had adopted a pair of hamsters.
- From this installment of Touhou Nekokayou:
Eirin: Yes, it tastes almost exactly like "Tewi is trying to get me and Mika to pull a prank."
- Here's a great one in Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name, from the mouth of a sassy bat.
- And also from the mouth of Conrad, who is NOT invited to the party.
- Occurs in Mountain Time when an onion sensei is asked about the human status of Donna the Bears, a woman whose mind is several bears.
- Since the protagonists of Homestuck are only connected through IMs, bouts of confusion are common. Example.
- El Goonish Shive has it as a Running Gag.
Dan Shive: I love it when characters say 'what.'
- From Johnny Wander, we get this gem.
- Manly Guys Doing Manly Things has this triple one.
- Awkward Zombie demonstrates the appropriate male reaction to the Pokémon Musical.
- Alicia does one of these in Growing Up Grunge.
- The revelation of the premise of The Fancy Adventures of Jack Cannon.
- This Legostar Galactica strip. The Doctor apparently can't wrap his mind around the concept of a Dalek not being evil.
- Nita's reaction to "THE AWESOME (untested) POWER OF YOGIC FLYING" in the Scary Go Round Spin-Off Giant Days.
- In Gastrophobia, Phobia's reaction to being told that Philia is her and Klepto's daughter.
- Avatar of Far Out There does one in reaction to a particularly flamboyant mad scientist.
- Lillian of Go Get a Roomie does a good one here.
- Nick gets one in General Protection Fault when Trudy accidentally slips that she isn't the alternate universe self everyone thought she was.
- The nameless mercenary from Flaky Pastry reacts appropriately to this rather... unconventional technique.
- Done hilariously by Zelda in this (spoileriffic!) fan comic of Skyward Sword.
- Strip #343 of Michael Firman's Moe, accompanied with an extra-large speech bubble for emphasis.
- In the "Crux's Climb" story arc of A Moment of Peace, Story asks Ito if he thinks she is happy sitting by the pool waiting for Crux, for which he answers "yes". Apparently it wasn't the answer she expected.
- The "LOL WUT" meme.
- Alternatively, "Wat."
- In the long form, "what is this i dont even" (sic), additionally, "i'm 12 and what is this" is used in similar fashion.
- In the longest form (verbose): "I have become quite profounded from your previous statement, so much so that it has become quite humorous how abnormal the said statement is."
- 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 Dot 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... 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.
- The Nostalgia Critic's review of Alone in The Dark:
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.
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.
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 just end already!
- The Cinema Snob got one in Kickassia when The Nostalgia Critic revealed that yes, he really did order twenty tons of dynamite.
- Then there's the Critic's reaction to the plot twist of The Secret of NIMH 2...
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.'
- 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.
- From A Very Potter Musical, Snape's reaction to Cedric's reaction to Snape's House roll call:
- The page quote is from Mark Reads Twilight, a truly insightful blog not for Twilight fans.
- In Nakar's Ultima VI Let's Play, during the parodic "cannon"ical ending, Draxinusom utters the Gargish version of this upon seeing the Death Cannon that everyone thought to be Steve's insane hallucination:
Draxinusom: To be saying what.
- 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: ¡El hombre con el sombrero nos envió!
Pink: ¡Él nos cuenta muchas historias asombrosas!
Z: (makes pinging noises)
Blue and Pink: Hohohoho!
- On various image-sharing sites, "what" is used as a tag for bizarre, shocking, or absurd images, usually involving physical or anatomical impossibilities.
MostNearly all examples will be NSFW at the least, so seek them out at your own risk.
- In Freemans 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.
- On Loading Ready Run'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.
- During the production of ASMT 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).
- Don't tell my dad!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanon, Ruby Pinch is the young daughter of the eccentric and alcoholic (yet still loving and highly dedicated) Berry Punch. Due to her mother's strange drunken antics a flat "Wat." became her catchphrase. Then this post on the "Ask Ruby Pinch" tumblr happened, in which Ruby Pinch responded to a bizzare submitted question with a coin with a denomination of "one wat." This rapidly became a reaction image used throughout the fandom, and other versions with higher denominations have appeared for situations where one "wat." is insufficient.
- 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.
(Cuts to Lisa, who is wearing an expression of Tranquil Fury.)
- In the second season première of The Venture Brothers, 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.)
- The Teen Titans 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 the later seasons of South Park, the boys' Functional Genre Savvy (especially Stan) has reduced many of their reactions (to ever-increasingly improbable events) to "what."
- 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 World Tour Noah gives out one of these after watching the Japanese Total Drama Action promo.
- 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.
- 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 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 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?
Dr. Doofenschmirtz: Oh, nothing, nothing! Just... *puts the headphones back in Vanessa's ears* put these back on... there you go. *leaves*
- Family Guy: Princess Peach when Mario asks her if he can have a kiss after he rescues her.