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Rhetorical Question Blunder

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"Oh! Oh! I got it. A toothless beaver!"

Mona Simpson: [singing] How many roads must a man walk down / Before you can call him a man?
rich palms no deposit bonus codesr: Seven!
Lisa: No, Dad, it's a rhetorical question.
rich palms no deposit bonus codesr: Rhetorical, eh? ... Eight!
Lisa: Dad, do you even know what "rhetorical" means?
rich palms no deposit bonus codesr: Do I know what "rhetorical" means?

Ah, rhetorical questions. Is there anything they can't do? ...Wait, don't answer that.

A Rhetorical Question Blunder is what happens when a character asks a question that they didn't need an answer to... and then gets an answer anyway. That answer will almost always be contrary to the point they were trying to make. Occasionally this can lead down a slippery slope as the asker tries to salvage the original intention.

Truth in Television is in play here. When you join a debate team, they specifically tell you not to ask rhetorical questions; it simply gives the other team the opportunity to answer it in a way that undermines your point. A related phenomenon is anthypophora, a rhetorical device is when someone deliberately poses a question and then answers it themselves.

Could easily lead to a Rhetorical Request Blunder. Particularly common when dealing with someone who is Sarcasm-Blind. Related to Analogy Backfire and Name One. Often the answer is a Mathematician's Answer. Sometimes, when played for drama, the answer can be an Armor-Piercing Response.


Despite the common use of the phrase when the asker sees this coming, this has nothing to do with Don't Answer That, which is a trope about Perp Sweating. Similar to I Was Just Joking where one makes a comment that wasn't meant to be taken seriously. See also Ask a Stupid Question...

See About Rhetorical Questions for why rhetorical questions don't work well on a wiki. Blunt "Yes" is a subtrope.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Audio Play 
  • From 36 Questions:
    Jase: Do you know what you’ve done? [...]
    Judith: Let's see if I remember. If I recall correctly, I gave you a fake name when we met and I continued to use that name while we dated and then as we got married-
    Jase: More than just a fake name. You think I care about a fake name!?
    Judith: Yes.
    Jase: ...Well, you're right. I do.

    Comic Books 
  • Combined with Hands Go Down in Hex Wives #6. Nadiya is in the middle of an angry rant at the Architects, when her 'husband' Eric unwisely decides to interpret her sarcastic question literally:
    "Oh well, please forgive me! I'd hate for you men to feel diminished. Does anyone else feel betrayed in any way? Eric, put your hand down."
  • Don Rosa played with the trope in "A Little Something Special". After Magica De Spell, Flintheart Glomgold, the Beagle Boys and Blackheart Beagle teamed up in a plan to steal Scrooge McDuck's fortune and failed, Magica and the Beagles went to South Africa and robbed Flintheart, who asked what he did to deserve that but quickly added a "Don't Answer That" command.
  • Money Shot: When Christine asks who would be into the weird porn that replaced her favorite porn site, her home AI analyzes and answers the question.
  • From New Avengers:
    Namor: When were you going to tell me about this?
    Iron Man: It just happened yesterday.
    Namor: I thought we had an arrangement here.
    Iron Man: Does anyone know how to say "It just happened yesterday" in Atlantean?
    Reed Richards: Fortanu vasyama.
    (everyone in the room stares at Richards)
    Reed Richards: Oh, I, uh...I thought you were really asking.
  • In one issue of Paperinik New Adventures, Urk is about to go on a suicidal mission to rescue his sister, and PK asks him to calm down. He furiously asks if PK has a sister... Which he has. Della Duck is not seen in the comic, and is pressumably missing.
  • In one issue of The Sandman, Morpheus grants a 14th-century peasant immortality to see how he'll adapt to it, and the man agrees to meet Morpheus again in a pub 100 years later. When they see each other again in 1489, the man raves about all of the exciting technological advances that he's seen in the last century (including chimneys, playing cards and... handkerchiefs) and Morpheus sarcastically remarks, "Most impressive. What will you people think of next?" Not realizing that he's mocking him, the man responds "Something to get rid of fleas, with any luck..."
  • Ultimate Spider-Man:
    • In their first meeting, Nick Fury drops in on Peter to explain how he and SHIELD can't go after Norman Osborn until they can legally prove he's a threat — which likely means after Osborn's attacked someone Peter cares about. Peter, at the end of his rope, goes into I Just Want to Be Normal mode. Fury replies that "optimism is a revolutionary act." Peter sarcastically asks if Fury got that from the guy who poked out his eye. Fury springs out of his chair, gets right in Peter's face, and says "Yes."
    • Also, Jameson and Urich discussing an article that Urich has been working on:
    Jameson: Ben, if you paid whatever this paper costs every morning to sit down and read it with the morning cup of joe, would you be interested in a story about some creature that lives in the sewer?
    Urich: Yes.

    Comic Strips 
  • One sequence from Peanuts has Peppermint Patty being asked a famous rhetorical question in school: "How many angels can stand on the head of a pin?" After hours of pondering, she asks Charlie Brown what kind of a ridiculous question it is, and he tells her that it's just an old theological problem and there is no answer. She answers, "That's too bad...I put down 'eight if they're skinny, and four if they're fat!'"

    Film — Animated 
  • In Alice in Wonderland, when Alice shrinks back to normal size after calling the Queen out, the Queen rhetorically asks what she was saying and the Cheshire Cat answers. But unlike many other examples, it's likely he knew it was a rhetorical question and he did it for a laugh.
  • From the Animated Outtakes at the end of A Bug's Life:
    Hopper: Are you saying I'm stupid?
    Princess Atta: (bursts out laughing) Yes!
  • Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus, when Barbie/Princess Annika is confronting her Knight Templar Parents.
    Annika: What do you want me to do? Just sit in my room all day?!
    King and Queen: YES!
  • In Disney's The Little Mermaid:
    Scuttle: Have I ever been wrong? (Pause) I mean when it's important!
  • Pocahontas has one between Governor Ratcliffe and Wiggins. For bonus points, Ratcliffe ends his monologue with another rhetorical question.
    • Double bonus points when (if you read the ending credits) you realise Ratcliffe and Wiggins are voiced by the same person.
      Governor Ratcliffe: Wiggins, why do you think those insolent heathens attacked us?
      Wiggins: Because we invaded their land and cut down their trees and dug up their earth?
      Governor Ratcliffe: It's the gold! They have it and they don't want us to take it from them. Well, I'll just have to take it by force then, won't I?
  • Made a Running Gag in Leroy & Stitch, where Gantu keeps attempting to answer Dr. Hämsterviel's questions...
    Hämsterviel: I think that went very well, don't you?
    Gantu: Actually, sir, I think—
    Hämsterviel: I didn't ask what you think!
    Gantu:: Actually, you did. I--
    Hämsterviel: It was a rhetorical question! Don't you know what a rhetorical question is?
    Gantu: Yes, sir. I believe it's—
    Hämsterviel: NO! That was a rhetorical question too! (facepalms) Argh!
    • Lampshaded after Leroy has reported that all of Jumba's experiments (except Stitch and Reuben) have been captured:
      Hämsterviel: It has taken Leroy a paltry few hours to succeed while you took three years to fail. What is wrong with you?!
      Gantu: Well, I have a bad knee.
      Hämsterviel: No! That was a rhetorical question, you don't answer it! Now will you get me down from this chair!
      Gantu: Uh, was that a rhetorical question?
      Hämsterviel: No! That one was not— Get me down! Get me down!
    • ...And then the roles are reversed when Gantu turns on Hämsterviel in the final battle.
      Gantu: You never did understand the meaning of "aloha", did you?
      Hämsterviel: Well, I think it means...
      Gantu: Uh, that was a rhetorical question. [Hämsterviel groans in frustration after being outwitted by Gantu]
  • Kung Fu Panda. Shifu asks who could possibly be worthy of having the Dragon Scroll, the key to limitless power!!! There's a long 15-second pause, then Master Oogway says, "I don't know."
  • Twice in the The Hunchback of Notre Dame II. Pheobus asks two of these to his Silent Snarker horse Achilles.
    • First when Phoebus is getting reports on robberies involving the Circus
      Phoebus: A string of robberies begins the moment a circus comes to town. Coincidence? I don't think so. How many times have I ever been wrong?
      Achilles [counts on his hoof *Tap. *Tap* *Tap*]
      Phoebus: Achilles, that was a rhetorical question.
    • The second time he reports that the circus is responsible for robberies, which does not delight Quasi or his family (Quasi due to being romantically in love with Madellaine, Esmeralda due to believing that Phoebus still holds prejudice views towards gypsies, and their son Zephyr due to admiring the circus), and they all angrily leave.
    Phoebus: Achilles, do you believe this? Everybody is mad at me! How often does that happen?
    Achilles: [counts on his hoof *Tap*. *Tap* *Tap*]
    Phoebus: Rhetorical!
  • In Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, when Sid is on the playground that Manny built for his yet unborn child.
    Manny: I don't want you touching anything. This place is for kids. Are you a kid?
    Sid: Uh—
    Manny: Don't answer that!
  • In The Book of Life, when Joaquin rides in to confront Chakal the Bandit King.
    Joaquin: Hey, Chakal! Why don't you pick on someone your own size?
    (Overhead shot showing Chakal towering over his mooks, and pretty much every other character)
    Bystander: 'Cause no-one's that big, man!
  • The Lion King (1994) does this with the lead-up to "Be Prepared," while Scar is criticizing the hyenas for their failure to kill Simba and Nala:
    Shenzi: Well, you know, it wasn't exactly like they was alone, Scar.
    Banzai: Yeah, what were we supposed to do? Kill Mufasa?
    Scar: [gives a Slasher Smile] Precisely.
  • The Emperor's New Groove after Kuzco fires Yzma for trying to rule behind his back.
    Kuzco: Sooooo, who's in my chair?
    Kronk: Oh, oh! I know! Yzma. Yzma's in your chair, right?
    Kuzco: Very good, Kronk! Here. Get the snack.
  • 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure: When Lars learns Cruella wants to turn the puppies into canvases for his artwork, he asks her and her henchmen how they can do something like that. Each bad guy gives a suggestion.
    Jasper: Poison them.
    Horace: Drown them.
    Cruella: Bash them in the head!
  • Madagascar:
    • When Marty admits he wants to go to the wild (which is also one of the few instances where the blunder is actually welcomed):
      Alex: Marty, come on! What could Connecticut offer us?
      Melman: Lyme disease.
      Alex: Thank you, Melman.
    • After Maurice explains why Alex bit Marty, we get this exchange:
      Marty: (while Alex sees him, Gloria, Melman, and the lemurs as steaks) Come on, do I look like a steak to you?
      Alex: Yeah!
      Marty: See, I told you—wait, what'd you just say?
      Alex: (hungrily) Oh yeah.
  • The one funny moment to come out of the donkey scene in Pinocchio.
    Lampwick: Where does [Jiminy] get that stuff? "How do you ever expect to be a real boy?" [face turns into a donkey] What does he think I look like? A jackass?
    Pinocchio: [amused] You sure do!
  • In Shark Tale, when Oscar assures Lenny that the accident that killed his brother wasn't his fault, we get this exchange:
    Oscar: If you wanna blame anybody, blame me, cause if I hadn't been there, it wouldn't have happened.
    Lenny: Yeah. Gee, if Pop knew that he'd ice you for sure.
    Oscar: (Chuckles) 'Ice'. What is he? The godfather or somethin'?
    Lenny: (Casually) Yeah.
    Oscar: (Chuckling) What you mean 'yeah'?
    Lenny: Yeah, he is.
    (Oscar has a Loud Gulp and an Oh, Crap! face)
    Lenny: Hey, are you alright?
  • At one point in Strange World, Searcher Clade rhetorically asks Jaeger Clade how the latter is his father. Jaeger, fully aware that it has been a quarter century since he parted ways with the then-teenaged Searcher and having already met both his forty-ish daughter in law and teenaged grandson, starts in on The Talk.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: When Calhoun asks Felix if he thinks the Cy-Bugs will stop after devouring just one game, he excitedly blurts out "Yes!", forcing Calhoun to explain just how dire the situation is.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Die Hard:
    Holly: I have a request.
    Hans Gruber: What idiot put you in charge?
    Holly: You did. When you murdered my boss. Now everybody's looking to me.
  • A rather tragic example from Forrest Gump, when Bubba is dying in Gump's arms.
    Bubba: Forrest...why'd this happen?
    Forrest: You got shot.
  • Monty Python's Life of Brian has an extended example: when Reg asks "What have the Romans ever done for us?", the other revolutionaries begin offering examples, eventually leading to:
    "All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?"
    "Brought peace?"
    "Oh, peace! SHUT UP!"
  • Similarly, one sketch in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life has Michael Palin as a Drill Sergeant Nasty-type commanding his men to march up and down the square. He asks the men if there is anything they would rather do than march up and down the square all day. One of them politely says he'd prefer to be home with his family. The sergeant lets him go. The other soldiers eagerly mention what they'd rather be doing. Finally, all the remaining men go off to the movies, leaving the fuming sergeant marching up and down the square all by himself, still seemingly oblivious to the fact that he didn't have to let them go.
  • In The Producers, Max Bialystock likes to ask rhetorical questions. It frequently doesn't go well.
    • Right after Bloom meets Bialystock at the beginning of the movie:
      Max Bialystock: How dare you condemn me without knowing all the facts!
      Leo Bloom: Mr. Bialystock, I don't condemn—
      Max Bialystock: Shut up! I'm having a rhetorical conversation.
    • Later:
      Bialystock: Have I ever steered you wrong?
      Franz Liebkind: Always.
      Bialystock: Never mind!
  • Serenity has one such example, where in the midst of an argument between the crew, Mal goes into schoolteacher mode:
    Mal: Do you want to run this ship!?
    Jayne: Yes.
    Mal: [thrown] ...Well, you can't.
  • The Dragon Errol from Snatch. has this problem. His boss Brick Top just wants him to be intimidating Dumb Muscle, but Errol has a tendency to answer rhetorical questions with pragmatic, ruthless advice. Eventually, it leads Brick Top to get slightly fed up. "It was a rhetorical question, Errol. What have I told you about thinking?"
  • Time Bandits has the embodiment of Evil thinking aloud:
    Evil Genius: That's a good question. Why have I let the Supreme Being keep me here in the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness?
    Robert: Because you...
    Evil Genius: Shut up, I'm speaking rhetorically.
    Robert: Oh, of course, of course...
  • From Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, Jane catches Frank in a rather compromising position with Tanya.
    Jane: How could you!
    Tanya: Well, you just shove your tongue as far down his throat as you can.
  • Young Frankenstein:
    Elizabeth: Would you want me like this, now, so soon before our wedding?
    Froderick: ...Yes!
  • "Crocodile" Dundee, especially after Mick got a taste of using his hunting stories to mess with people.
    Jeez, Mick, were you born in a cave?
    Yeah! How did you know that?
    ... Never mind.
    • Or,
    Are you involved in cattle?
    Yeah. mostly buffaloes.
    Oh. do you breed them?
    No, just toss 'em.
    And how are you finding New York? Bit of a lunatic asylum, eh?
    That's why I love it. I fit right in.
  • In Analyze This, mobster Paul Vitti is interrogating a crony while threatening him with a pipe.
    Vitti: Know what I'm gonna do to you if you if you don't answer me?
    Crony: You gonna slug me with that pipe?
    Vitti: That was a rhetorical question, moron!!
  • After discovering how to build a durable shelter to survive on the planet where they're both marooned, Lt. Davidge of Enemy Mine sits down and proudly asks "Jerry, ol' buddy, where would you be without me?" Jerry, an alien who doesn't yet grasp the concept of rhetorical questions (and is stuck on this planet because he and Davidge shot each other's ships down), just answers honestly:
    "Back home."
  • M*A*S*H, after Hawkeye meets Major Houlihan, where they develop a deep and abiding contempt for each other:
    Houlihan: I wonder how a degenerated person like that could have reached a position of responsibility in the Army Medical Corps!
    Mulcahy: He was drafted.
    • Justified in the sense that Mulcahy's response, while it is a literal response to Houlihan's question, is also making a larger point (reminding Houlihan that Hawkeye didn't exactly ask for the position, and would probably just as soon not have it).Fun Fact 
  • A back-to-back pair of particularly dark examples in Full Metal Jacket when Joker is riding in a helicopter with a psychotic door gunner:
    Door Gunner: Git some! Git some! Git some, yeah, yeah, yeah! Anyone who runs is a VC. Anyone who stands still is a well-disciplined VC! You should do a story about me sometime!
    Joker: Why should we do a story about you?
    Door Gunner: 'Cause I'm so fucking good! That ain't no shit neither. I done got me 157 dead Gooks killed and fifty water buffalo too! Them are all certified.
    Joker: Any women or children?
    Door Gunner: Sometimes!
    Joker: How can you shoot women and children?
    Door Gunner: Easy! You just don't lead 'em so much! Ha ha! Ain't war hell?
  • Scream, when everyone's in shock from Casey and Steve's deaths:
    Sidney: How do you gut someone?
    Stuart: You take a knife a cut them from groin to sternum.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the AI in Nick Fury's car is a little too Literal-Minded. In the middle of an attack, Fury keeps asking it to do things, and it keeps responding that the relevant equipment is damaged. Finally:
      Fury: What's not damaged?
      Car A.I.: Air conditioning is fully operational.
    • In The Avengers (2012).
      Steve: Big man in a suit of armor. Take that away, what are you?
      Tony: Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.
    • Thor also interrupts Loki's Motive Rant with the question "You think yourself above [humans]?" Loki's response is a confused "Well, yes" as though that's obvious.
    • Black Panther (2018): When Ross sees Klaue with his bodyguards, he snarks that they look like a boy band, and asks when their next single is coming out. Klaue eagerly says that they finished it recently, and offers him a link to the file.
      Ross: Please don't make me listen to your music.
    • In Thor: Ragnarok, when Hulk is trashing his living quarters and throws a shield at Thor:
      Thor: What are you, crazy?!
      Hulk: YES!
    • During the escape from Asgard in Thor: The Dark World, when Loki appears to be flying their ship into the side of a mountain:
      Thor: Are you mad?!
      Loki: Possibly.
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:
    First Spy: Now, then. Where are we?
    Second Spy: I have here a map!
    First Spy: I know where we are, stupid! We are in England. And when we are in England, what do we do?
    Second Spy: We play cricket.
    First Spy: "We play cricket." No! We dress like Englishmen!
  • The Force Awakens:
    Han Solo: Boys, you're both gonna get what I promised. Have I ever not delivered for you before?
    Bala-Tik: Yeah!
    Tasu Leech: Twice!
    Han Solo: .... What was the second time?
  • The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, after Fearless Leader learns that Moose and Squirrel have followed them to the real world.
    Fearless Leader: How many times in the past have they stood between me and my dreams of glory? How many times have they foiled my plans with their bungling interference?
    Boris: Er... 28?
    Fearless Leader: Quiet, idiot!
  • A lethal version in Commando. Matrix has burst into his daughter's room only to find a goon, Diaz, making it clear they have her hostage.
    Diaz: If you want your daughter back you'd better cooperate, right?
    Matrix: Wrong. (Boom, Headshot!)
  • I, Robot: Del Spooner tries to define the difference between humans and robots:
    Spooner: You are a clever imitation of life. Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot take a blank canvas and turn it into a masterpiece?
    Sonny: Can you?
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), after Sonic takes out one of Robotnik's vehicles, he rhetorically asks if Robotnik's got anything else. He actually does.
    Sonic: Ho-ho! Is that all you've got? [speeds back into Tom's truck]
    Robotnik: [behind a control panel] No, but thank you for asking. [launches a second, detachable vehicle from the bottom of the larger vehicle's chassis, which immediately races after the duo]
    Sonic: Uh-oh.
  • The Mule: When Earl arrives at Laton's mansion, he is deeply impressed and jokingly asks who Laton killed for it. 
    Laton: Many, many people.
  • Top Gun: As the naval aviators are introduced to the TOPGUN commanding officer, Commander Mike "Viper" Metcalf, there's this exchange:
    Viper: In case some of you wonder who the best is, they're up here on this plaque on the wall. The best driver and his RIO from each class has his name on it. And they have the option to come back here to be TOPGUN instructors. You think your name's gonna be on that plaque?
    Maverick: (confidently) Yes, sir.
    Viper: That's pretty arrogant, considering the company you're in.
    Maverick: Yes, sir.
    Viper: (slightly smirking) I like that in a pilot.

  • Jesus comes across a mob stoning an adulteress. He steps between them, and says: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." When he hears a clack and the adulteress whimper in pain, he sighs, turns around, and says "Mom, please! I'm trying to work here!"
    • A similar joke happens in a Robot Chicken sketch, where he himself hits the person being stoned and says "Blammo!"
    • A variation, featured in a round of "Scenes We'd Like To See" on Mock the Week; Peter asked Jesus, "Why do you always leave the door open when you enter a room? Were you born in a barn?" And Jesus answered, "Yes, actually, I was."
  • A political candidatenote  meets a voter who says:
    "You made a good speech, but I'll never vote for you because I'm a Republican."
    "Why are you a Republican?"
    "Because my father was a Republican, and so was his father before him."
    "That's not a very logical reason. What if your father and your grandfather were both horse thieves? Then what would you be?"
    "A Democrat!"

  • In The Talisman by Stephen King, the Big Bad considers the Bible verse "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" He concludes, "It profits him the world."
  • In Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, Cabal wonders, probably not expecting an answer, why his brother's similes were always sexual, noting that it always bothered him. His brother Horst tells him he's answered his own question.
  • Discworld:
    • Mort:
      Albert: Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?
      Mort: [thinks for a while] No. What?
      Albert: Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve 'em right.
      • Shortly afterwards, Mort is trying to figure out how Albert can be Death's manservant and asks if he's dead. Albert says "Do I look dead?" but goes ahead and answers the question directly as Mort starts giving him a slow, critical look to determine the answer to the question.
    • Sourcery, right at the beginning:
      Ipslore: And what would humans be without love?
      Death: Rare.
    • Moving Pictures has:
      Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler: Trust me. Have I ever lied to you?
      Bezam Planter: Well, one night last month you sold me a sausage in a bun and you said—
      Throat: I was speaking rhetorically.
      Bezam: Oh. Well. I dunno about rhetorically.
    • Moving Pictures also has the same The Merchant of Venice gag as Neverwhere (below), with the troll who asked the question still insisting "Ah, but I would if I had blood. I'd bleed all over the place."
    • In Going Postal, Mr. Groat informs Moist von Lipwig that he has to take "The Postman's Walk" if he wants to be accepted as the new Postmaster by the Order of the Post. Moist decides to go through with what he thinks is just a harmless initiation ritual, asking "What's the worst that could happen?" After a bit of thought, Mr. Groat responds "The worst that could happen is you lose all your fingers on one hand, are crippled for life, and break half the bones in your body. Oh, and then they don't let you join."
    • In Thud!, Fred Colon comments on the trouble in Koom Valley with the immortal question "War, Nobby, huh. What is it good for?" This being Discworld, where rhetorical questions never caught on, Nobby answers the question with things like "Freeing slaves?" and "Protecting yourself from a totalitarian aggressor?"
    • Lampshaded in Monstrous Regiment; at one point the squad is locked up by the enemy and Lt. Blouse is lamenting their position, saying "Oh, will I ever look my dear Emmeline in the face again?" Polly, normally a very sensible character, responds "I don't know, sir," forcing Blouse to point out "That was meant to be more of a rhetorical cry of despair than an actual question, Perks."
    • A Running Gag is for Vetinari to ask "Look out the window and tell me what you see" and get pointless but true answers like "Fog" or "A small dog watching a man taking a piss in an alley." What he wants is some kind of comment on the view of Ankh-Morpork.
  • The undefined-but-clearly-supernatural nature of Messrs Croup and Vandemar in Neverwhere is shown when Vandemar sticks a knife through the back of his own hand, doesn't bleed, and shows no pain. Shortly afterward, Mr Croup makes a comment about "Oh, Mr Vandemar, if you cut us, do we not bleed?" Vandemar's response is a carefully considered "No."
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold:
    • At the end of Warrior's Apprentice Count Vordrozda asks the Council of Counts "If Lord Vorkosigan is so innocent, why is he not here?". At which point Miles makes his entrance. Lampshaded by Ivan, also waiting on the far side of the door without Vordrozda's knowledge, who observes to Miles that they won't get a better straight line if they wait all day.
    • A Civil Campaign: Richars Vorrutyer gives a speech with a lengthy list of insulting rhetorical questions. Then someone answers him.
    • Diplomatic Immunity: An annoyed Miles asks a rhetorical question about the lack of forensic thinking by the authorities on both sides of his current mystery. His batman (an ex-policeman) starts to answer, then stops and says "Was that a question, m'lord?". Miles replies "A rhetorical one, but do you have an answer?". In fact he has a very good one.
  • In The War God's Own, Halashu asks who would be fool enough to claim that Bahzell Bahnakson is a Champion of Tomanak. Cue the War God appearing to say: "I would."
  • In the Warcraft Expanded Universe novel Tides of War, Garrosh falls into these when Hamuul is concerned.
    Garrosh: Does this look like the green skin of Thrall?
    Hamuul: No, Warchief. No one would ever mistake you for Thrall.
    • Hamuul does it again regarding Garrosh's apparently unwise delay in the attack on Theramore.
    Garrosh: And now, can you tell me what my decision to wait has brought us?
    Hamuul: Defeat?
  • The first Red Dwarf novel has the deceased Arnold J. Rimmer do this to himself when deciding that his status as living impaired need not stop his ambition:
    Well, he wasn't going to let it get him down any more. He wasn't going to let it stand in his way. He was dead, there was no use bleating about it. Was that a reason to quit? Did Napoleon quit when he was dead? Did Julius Caesar quit when he was dead?
    Well... yes.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry derails a Fey Queen's attempt to seduce him by reminding her that he killed her cousin.
    Maeve: Tell me, mortal. When was the last time flesh, new and strange to your hand, lay quivering beneath you, hmm? When was the last time you could taste and feel some little lovely's cries?
    Harry: Technically? When I killed Aurora.
    • Harry falls into this trap later, when visiting a Svartalf compound in a bit of a hurry, and asks if it would kill them to skip the security procedures just once. The guard looks at him like he's an idiot and calmly answers that, yes, letting someone who doesn't know the procedure for getting in could get him and everyone inside killed. That's why there is a procedure for getting in.
  • In Wolf Hall, Thomas Cromwell does this deliberately when Henry asks if he thinks "a king should huddle indoors like a sick girl," referring to a speech Cromwell once made as an MP which criticized Henry's wars in France as pointless and potentially financially disastrous if Henry were to be capture. Cromwell replies that would be ideal for fiscal purposes, and Henry is impressed that Cromwell sticks to his guns. Henry isn't the only one, though—it's just better not to ask rhetorical questions around Cromwell because he will answer them and rarely to the asker's liking. He even answers his own, as seen in his interview with Margaret Pole:
    Cromwell: [referring to Plantagenet plotters to the throne] I wonder what they talked about.
    Lady Margaret: I'm sure you do.
    Cromwell: Actually, I don't.
  • In the Young Adult science fiction book Illuminae, Ezra is undergoing a physcologial evalutaion before he can become a fighter pilot, something necessitated by the recent destruction of his home colony via Bei Tech. Not very impressed with the interviewer, he snarkily asks if the real psychologist died and he's talking to a medical intern or something. Given how many people just got killed? Yup.
  • In the Star Wars Legends novel Wraith Squadron, Grinder and Tyria get into a fistfight after the former accidentally presses the latter’s Berserk Button, only to be interrupted by Wedge Antilles walking in. Phanon tries to brush off the fight as “demonstrating the finer points of a hand-to-hand technique”, but Wedge, visibly irritated, is having none of it.
    Phanon: I... don’t know, sir.
    Wedge: That was a rhetorical question, Flight Officer Phanon. Do not re-enter this conversation.
  • In the Worldwar series, Soviet pilot Ludmila Gorbunova, forced to escort German panzer driver Georg Schultz to a combined position to fight the alien invasion, spots a destroyed T-34 and decides to get some satisfaction by asking him what he thought when he first faced those monsters, expecting anger or fear at the memory of the vehicle Soviet propaganda had described as invincible. Schultz answers by giving her a detailed analysis, admitting it had been a formidable enemy but also had some technical flaws and was used horribly.

  • Bowling for Soup's song "No Hablo Ingles", in a verse containing a series of questions:
    Do you like my band?
    ...Don't answer that.
  • The Magnetic Fields' "Yeah! Oh Yeah!" is entirely this.
    Her: Are you out of love with me?
    Are you longing to be free?
    Do I drive you up a tree?
    Him: Yeah! Oh, yeah!
  • Bruce Springsteen: As heard on "Rosalita" on the Live 1975-85 album, Springsteen introduces all the other members of the E Street Band, then comes to saxophonist Clarence Clemons, at the time the most popular member of the band. "And last but not least," Springsteen asks, "do I have to say his name? Do I have to speak his name? Do I have to speak his name?" Each time Springsteen asks, he receives a mixture of "Yeah!" and "No!" responses from the audience. Audience members may well have been confused, because a "Yeah!" response would imply that they didn't know who Clemons was, while a "No!" response would imply that they didn't want to hear him introduced.
  • Professor Elemental's "You Remind Me Of A Car" has the rapper do this to himself:
    "Look at you, looking at me,
    Looking back at you, what do you see?
    Well, me, obviously, That's been established
    I'm all on you like Orange on a Carrot..."
  • Eminem:
    • "Evil Deeds":
      What do I look like? A comedian? To you?
      Do you think that I'm kiddin'? What do I look like, some kinda idi -
      - wait a minute. Shit. Don't answer that.
    • "Nice Guy":
      I'm an emotional wreck, weak, everything over-affects me.
      When you joke, it upsets me.
      You say I'm no good at sex, and you think I'm gross and unsexy.
      I need Scope 'cause my breath stinks, you hope I choke on a Pepsi...
      ...Bitch, you was supposed to correct me!!
  • On "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Alpocalypse" Tour, he yells "Are you ready to rock?" When the audience replies in the affirmative, he pauses, then replies, "Crap. I was afraid of that. Our next song's a ballad, so..."

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield says this to a mirror in the January 28, 1985 strip when he asks it who the cutest cat of all is, and Nermal walks up soon after.
    • This strip had Garfield doing his usual stand-up routine on the fence and asks the audience if they're feeling good, only for the audience to reply that things could be better, before Garfield angrily tells them that it was a rhetorical question, to which the audience tells him to ask another.
  • Happens in FoxTrot
    Andy: Roger, you can't spend 24 hours a day hovering over your kids! What are you going to do? Quit your job?
    Roger: Now there's a thought.
    Andy: I was kidding, Roger. Kidding!
    • Another Fox Trot example:
    Paige: Those cheerleaders think they're so special. What have they got that we haven't got?
    Nicole: Five guys fighting to carry their lunch trays.
    Paige: Besides that.
    Nicole: Really, really perfect bodies.
    Paige: You're not helping, Nicole.
    Nicole: I think the one on the left is a concert violinist.
  • Peanuts: This strip features a philosophical debate between Charlie Brown and Lucy.
    Lucy: Tell me something... are there more bad people in the world, or are there more good people?
    Charlie Brown: Who's to say? Who is to say who is bad or who is good?
    Lucy: (enthusiastically) I will!

  • In Sequinox, when Chell and Yuki try to invite Sid out for milkshakes.
    Yuki: Do you like milkshakes?
    Sid: Uh, is the Pope Catholic?
    Chell: Is he? *pulls out phone to check*
    Yuki: *shoves Chell's phone back in her pocket* Yes. Yes he is.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: In the Lola Falana episode:
    Kermit: Gonzo! Have you no dignity?
    Gonzo: Of course not! How long have we worked together?

  • The Establishing Character Moment for Jack Benny's miserly persona. A mugger jumps out of the shadows, points a gun at Benny, and snarls, "Your money or your life!". An incredibly long Beat ensues (during which the audience begins laughing), until finally the robber impatiently repeats his request. Benny irritably snaps, "I'm thinking it over!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Nomine: Asking rhetorical questions to the Archangel Litheroy is generally disadvised, since he'll usually just give you an honest answer. Notably, he knows perfectly well what rhetorical questions are — he just chooses to answer them anyway, in part because he feels it's a good way to make the other party question their own assumptions.


    Video Games 
  • Before their final battle in Brütal Legend, Emperor Doviculus tries to taunt Eddie. It doesn't quite work.
    Doviculus: Son of Succoria, suckled by the dry teat of man. You are half so many things, I doubt any part of you is whole. Is there even a word for a creature such as you?
    Eddie Riggs: Yeah. I'm a roadie. I keep the trash off the stage.
  • The Communitree: Typing "find" in Giftcode Hunter without any other thing will make the game ask "Find? Find what? Girlfriends?" You can type that in and discover you already have one.
  • In Ghost Trick, Bailey the prison guard blunders over his own rhetorical question when he replies to a co-worker implying he's stupid with "What's that supposed to mean?", then explains apropos of nothing that it was just an expression of indignation.
  • Done hilariously in Army Men: Sarge's Heroes
    Tan Soldier: Colonel Grimm and the Sarge have escaped our forces and captured a blue intelligence officer make matters worse, Sarge found one of our portals.
    General Plastro: WHAT?
    Tan Soldier: Colonel Grimm and Sarge have escaped -
    General Plastro: I HEARD YOU! IT WAS A RHETORICAL 'WHAT'! (punches the soldier out of the building) Does anyone else have any good news they'd like to share?
    Tan Soldiers: No sir! Nope! Not me! Nothin'!
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect, Urdnot Wrex has a penchant for these, particularly in his elevator conversations with Tali.
      Wrex: So tell me, who would win in a fight between you and Shepard?
      Tali: Do krogan always size up one another for a fight? Even friends and allies?
      Wrex: Yes.

      Wrex: Hey, Tali. Your people created the geth, ever talk about it?
      Tali: Do the krogan talk about starting a stupid war that got your species sterilized?
      Wrex: All the time.
    • In Mass Effect 3, during a sidequest where you traverse a virtual world, Shepard comes across recordings of the quarians before the geth drove them off their homeworld and wonders why the quarians are wearing their environmental suits. Legion, a friendly geth, responds that the recordings are based off Shepard's own memories and asks Shepard how many quarians s/he has seen without their suits. If your Shepard is male and romanced Tali in the second game, he replies: ""
    • If he's still alive when you meet him in 3, Conrad Verner is up to his typical loony self. He asks if he can help, and Shepard rather snarkily tells him that s/he is building an ancient dark energy Prothean device to stop the Reapers, and asks in the same exasperated tone of voice if he can help. Conrad reveals that he wrote his doctorate on xenotechnology and dark energy integration. Shepard can only stare blankly before asking if he's serious.
    • From Mass Effect: Andromeda, team-member Jaal will respond to a question about his race's biology by asking Ryder if they know how their own eyes work. If the player has chosen Sara Ryder, she'll respond with an explanation, much to Jaal's bemusement.
      Jaal: I see. You took my sarcasm as an excuse to show off.
    • In the aftermath of Andromeda, Ryder can respond to a comment from a romanced Peebee by saying "what am I going to do with you?" To which Peebee replies "I'm writing a list."
  • Cortana has one of these done to her in Halo 2 when the Chief and some Helljumpers are deployed onto Halo Installation 05 by HEV.
    Cortana: Could we possibly make any more noise?
    Chief grabs a missile launcher out of his pod.
    Cortana: ... I guess so.
  • In World of Warcraft, this happens in a randomly occurring conversation between Kil'ruk the Wind-Reaver and Ka'roz the Locust (probably a Shout-Out to the Full Metal Jacket example above).
    Kil'ruk the Wind-Reaver: I have heard of your "heroism," Locust. They say your raids on mogu labor camps and farmlands delayed the completion of the wall by decades. I cannot argue with your results, but how can a proud warrior of the swarm make his name chasing down fleeing peasants and farmhands?
    Ka'roz the Locust: Easily: You don't have to leap as far between kills.
  • Does Dr. Toadley in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story answer his own questions all the time? He most certainly does.
  • Exploited in one of the most difficult puzzles of Colossal Cave: "With What? Your bare hands?" is the rhetorical question asked when you forget to specify a weapon in an attack. After a few weeks of utter frustration trying to find a weapon that will slay a dragon, the player angrily types "Yes", more or less at random. Tada!
    Congratulations, you just vanquished a dragon with your bare hands! (Unbelievable, isn't it?)
  • Batman: Arkham Knight: Batman and Catwoman are forced to go through one of Riddler's Death Traps together, leading to this:
    Catwoman: *sigh* Another one? What's Eddie's problem?
    Batman: Fanatic narcissism, egocentricism, and megalomania crossed with severe obsessive compulsion.
    Catwoman: ...Thanks.
    Batman: Don't mention it.
  • Guilty Gear: In the series' backstory, when Sol was training Sin, they had a discussion about what the latter's weapon of choice would be. Sin said he wanted something flashy that would stand out and let the enemy know exactly who they were fighting; Sol snarked "Why don't you just wave a giant flag around while you're at it?!" Sin took him seriously.
  • Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse: In episode 2, "The Tomb of Sammun-Mak", Sam and Max's Identical Ancestors Sameth and Maximus observe some Fantastic Racism, leading to the following exchange:
    Maximus: Why can't we all get along, Sameth?
    Sameth: Because most of us are (bicycle horn sound), little buddy.
  • When Faris joins the party in Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia, Steiner protests because she's a pirate. Vaan, who is a sky pirate, asks if he should leave too. Steiner's reaction indicates that yes he should, because Steiner hadn't realized just how many Loveable Rogues were in the party already.
  • In Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, after Le Paradox gives his Motive Rant, he walks right into one, which Sly follows up on with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
    Le Paradox: Ask yourself this: if the Coopers were truly the greatest thieves in history, and I have stolen their most valued possessions, then what does that make me?
    Sly: Ummm... an idiot?
  • During Kiyohime's interlude quest in Fate/Grand Order, she wonders aloud what she did to merit being attacked by wyverns... and immediately comes up with several reasons herself.
  • In Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, just after Raiko and Nobara restore power to the resort where they and some of their friends are holding a Halloween party, Mika ambushes them in order to try to scare Raiko.
    Nobara: Mika! The hell's wrong with ya?!
    Mika: Not even Mika knows, akukukuku!
  • In Persona 4, Yosuke signs up Chie and the other girls for the Yasogami beauty pageant without their consent. The next day, Chie and the other girls sign him and the other guys up for the cross-dressing pageant in retaliation. Yosuke is not amused.
    Yosuke: What kinda joke is this...?
    Chie: Uhh, the exact same joke you pulled on us!

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Farce of the Three Kingdoms:
    Jiang Wei: What did Zhuge Liang ever do to you?
    Wei Yan: Is that a serious question? He literally sent me into a minefield two chapters ago.
  • Inverted in Mastermind. When the Mastermind screams "WHAT?!", it is not because he is angry at someone, but because he wants them to repeat what they said.
    Mastermind: No, seriously, I didn't hear you the first time. No, I'm not being funny. I didn't hear a word you said. It was like I was in my own zone, blanked out and never came back.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: In Episode 6:
    Brittnay: (to Mackenzie) Wait, wait a minute, you lost control of the girls bathrooms? Where the fuck am I supposed to shit now?
    Trisha: Oh, you can go to Jack in the Box across the street. You have to buy something, but I like their tacos.
  • Seanbaby: "Temptation Beach vs. a Book About Retarded People", has Seanbaby invoke this trope to mock the book "Common Sense Not Needed" by Corrie ten Boom, about Corrie's experiences preaching Christianity to developmentally disabled people in Nazi-occupied Europe.
    Corrie: I started a work to bring the Gospel to feeble-minded people who were not in institutions. They were not able to go to church: they could not understand the sermon. But did they not need the Lord Jesus, just like you and I?
    Seanbaby: That's how the book starts, and it doesn't change much from that format: Corrie ten Boom asking us rhetorical questions about retarded people. And most of them, like the one above, you can answer by saying, "not really, psycho."
  • The Skippy's List-inspired Things Shinigami Are Not Allowed To Do:
    343c) Shinigami are hereby forbidden from performing Soul Burial on Optimus Prime's Spark for two reasons. One, it is in no danger of becoming a Hollow, due to it getting a new body every few months. Two, do you want to see a truck becoming a Shinigami?
    343d) The last question of 343c was rhetorical, damn it.
  • Randall does this to himself in the What If? about filling a swimming pool with saliva:
    But it would all be worth it, because at the end of it all, you'd have an Olympic-size swimming pool full of saliva. And isn't that, deep down, all any of us really want?note 

    Web Video 
  • Friendship is Witchcraft: When Sweetie Belle accidentally activates Rarity's one-use, self hugging sweater, this exchange occurs;
    Rarity: Oh, now who is going to hug me?
    Sweetie Bot: Sweetie Belle!
  • British YouTube contributor Ben Loka dedicates a video ("Rhetorical Answers") to doing this on purpose. For example:
    Question: How would you like to win fifty thousand pounds?
    Answer: By not entering your contest?
  • YouTube Let's-Player HCBailly often jokingly asks NPCs questions where the first answer to jump into most viewers' heads is often X-rated, and immediately follows up with "Don't answer that, viewers." to discourage them from posting the naughty answers in the comments.
  • From a Chris Ray Gun video, where Chris tries to justify having never seen a circus tent.
    Tom Sweeny: A tent is orange, green and fucking blue! [...] What the fuck is bright orange in Manhattan?
    Chris: Times Square. On several occasions.
  • In an episode of Content Cop, iDubbbzTV repeatedly does this to demonstrate the fragility of Leafy's frequent "anti-insults," framing crude, insulting remarks as "honest" questions to implicitly plead ignorance and avoid backlash:
    Leafy: Yo, is this person fucking retarded?
    Ian: Yes.
    Leafy: Yo, is this person fucking retarded?
    Ian: Yes, she's retarded. Is that the answer you're looking for, "She's retarded"?
    Leafy: I'm not trying to be a dick, like, I really can't tell, like I know some people are going to be like "Aw, it's obvious!", I-I honestly have no idea.
    Ian: Hey, Leafy! She is retarded! Oh no, I guess I'm the asshole here, because you were just asking the question! I had to answer it for you! You got me. You got me good, Leafster.
    Leafy: Yo, is this person fucking retarded?
    Ian: Yes.
  • From Zero Punctuation:
    • At the start of his review of Cuphead
      Yahtzee: Viewers, do you think there's something wrong with me?
      (At least eight hands go up)
      Yahtzee: ...Rhetorical question. Hands down, please.
    • In his Top 5 video for 2020, after giving BattleToads (2020) third place on the Worst list:
      Yahtzee: God, is there anything worse than a bad game that thinks it’s funny?
      Viewer: Pustular psoriasis?
      Yahtzee: Oh, maybe.
      Viewer: The remaining two ovo188 on your list?
  • From PlayStation Access:
    Vaas Montenegro: Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?
    Rob Pearsen: Actually, Vaas, I've got the real definition of insanity right here. (indicates an Oxford English Dictionary)
  • In Scott The Woz's video on E3 2021, Scott highlights the problem with Microsoft/Bethesda's showcases not having gameplay previews to back up their new titles announcements, asking, "Raise your hand if you remember the name of the new game by Avalanche announced in this press conference." Cue someone raising their hand right in front of Scott, much to his dismay.
    Scott: Come on, I was trying to make a point!

    Western Animation 
  • Archer:
    Mallory: So if Crane really is behind all these accidents, the question is how do we catch him?
    Cyril: Oh, you're asking me. Sorry. I thought that was rhetorical.
    Mallory: Why would I be asking rhetorical questions?
    Cyril: Bec-
    Mallory: That one was!
  • From Clone High:
    Mr. Butlertron: What would the real Joan of Arc have done?
    Joan: She would have listened to her heart. And then she would've gotten burned at the stake. [nervous laugh] But what are the odds of that happening again?
    Mr. Butlertron: 38%.
  • The Simpsons did it several times.
    • In "rich palms no deposit bonus codesr to the Max":
      Bart: This isn't bad!
      rich palms no deposit bonus codesr: "Isn't bad"? Tell me one thing mankind has ever done that's any better?
      Lisa: The Renaissance?
      rich palms no deposit bonus codesr: This is better!
    • And again in "Dead Putting Society":
      Lisa: What is the sound of one hand clapping?
      Bart: Piece of cake. [clenches his hand so the fingers slap against the palm]
      Lisa: No, Bart, it's a 3000-year-old riddle with no answer. It's supposed to clear your mind of conscious thought.
      Bart: No answer? Lisa, listen up! [clenches his hand again]
    • And also heavily lampshaded in "Mother Simpson", as seen in the page quote.
    • In "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder", when rich palms no deposit bonus codesr is pulled over for speeding:
      Chief Wiggum: All right, smart guy. Where's the fire?
      rich palms no deposit bonus codesr: Over there. (points to the Springfield Police Station building on fire)
      Wiggum: Okay, you just bought yourself a 3-17: pointing out police stupidity. Or is that a 3-14? Nah, nah. 3-14 is a dog, uh- No. Or is that a 3-15? You're in trouble, pal!
    • "rich palms no deposit bonus codesr the Vigilante", where rich palms no deposit bonus codesr starts a neighborhood watch group.
      Lisa: Dad, don't you see that you're abusing your power like all vigilantes? I mean, if you're the police, who will police the police?
      rich palms no deposit bonus codesr: I dunno. Coast Guard?
    • Rainier Wolfcastle is interviewed about his McBain movie by Jay Sherman.
      Jay: How do you sleep at night?
      Rainier: On top of a pile of money, with many beautiful ladies.
      Jay: Just asking. Yeesh!
    • A couple women are complimenting Barney Gumble's short film when the man himself thanks them.
      Woman: Did something crawl into your mouth and die?
      Barney: It didn't die.
    • The epilogue of "Simpsorama" with Lrrr and Ndnd:
      Ndnd: What happened to the handsome man I married?
      Lrrr: I ate him. Remember?
    • The occasional Running Gag involving a member of the family trying to make Marge understand why her actions are annoying them by describing an equivalent action on their part that she'd love to have them do (with the roles reversed at least once when Marge asked rich palms no deposit bonus codesr, who'd blundered into success in one of her own areas of expertise, how he'd like it if she entered a belching contest: "Frankly, I'd be a little turned on.")
      Bart: Look, Mom, it feels really weird having you on my turf. How would you feel if I started mopping the floor?
      Marge: I'd be thrilled! You can start right now!
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "SB-129", Squidward ends up in prehistoric times and teaches SpongeBob and Patrick's ancestors about jellyfishing so they won't bother him. When he returns to the present:
      SpongeBob: Does this mean you wanna go...
      SpongeBob and Patrick: ...Jellyfishing?
      Squidward: No! D'oh! Who's the barnacle head who invented that game, anyway?
      SpongeBob and Patrick: You are, Squidward! [laugh]
      Squidward: I'm going back.
    • In "Wet Painters", when SpongeBob puts a drop of paint on a wall of Mr. Krabs' house and attempts to use a hairdryer to direct it away from his knick-knacks, only to create a giant bubble:
      SpongeBob: Barnacles! What could be worse than a giant paint bubble?
      Patrick: Oh, I know! [grabs a bubble wand, dips it in a paint bucket and makes another bubble] Two giant paint bubbles!
      SpongeBob: Nooooo!
      *The two bubbles combine to form a bigger bubble*
      SpongeBob: Patrick?
      Patrick: Yeah, SpongeBob?
      SpongeBob: I don't think this bubble can get much bigger...
      Patrick: [an air pump inserted into the bubble] Nonsense! [starts pumping it until it explodes]
    • In "Patrick SmartPants," this leads to a "Eureka!" Moment when Patrick figures out why he's suddenly become super-intelligent.
      Patrick: When did the fun go away, SpongeBob?
      SpongeBob: It went away when you went over that cliff and your head came clean off.
    • In "Growth Spout," Mr. Krabs is trying to convince Squidward not to call the cops on him for breaking into his house and stealing all his food. Squidward snarks, "You'll what? You'll give me your golden tooth?" Mr. Krabs yanks the sucker out and gives it to Squidward right then and there.
      SpongeBob: I didn't know Mr. Krabs had a gold tooth.
      Squidward: Neither did I.
  • Used in Total Drama World Tour, when Chris was trying to tell the contestants that one of them would have to ride in the baby carriage as part of their challenge.
    Chris: And what's a baby carriage without a baby?
    Owen: Oooh! A SHOPPING CART!
    Chris: It was a rhetorical question!
  • Futurama really likes doing this with "is it not" questions:
    • "Obsoletely Fabulous'' has:
      Bender: If that stuff wasn't real, how can I be sure anything is real? Is it not possible, nay, probable, that my entire life is just a figment of my or someone else's imagination?
      Technician: No. Get out.
    • The Beast with a Billion Backs has a similar example:
      Farnsworth: I know this anomaly is terrifying, but, as scientists, is it not our sworn duty to seek out knowledge, even at the cost of our very lives?
      Stephen Hawking's head: No.
    • "Love's Labours Lost In Space" has this inversion:
      Zapp Brannigan: We have failed to uphold Brannigan's Law. However, I made it with a hot alien babe. And, in the end, is that not what man has dreamt of since first he looked up at the stars? [Beat] Kif, I'm asking you a question!
  • The episode "Predator" of Sealab 2021 has this inverted example:
    Stormy: You and I may have to repopulate the human species, Debby!
    Debby: That's disgusting!
    Stormy: (flirtingly) Is it? ...[beat]… (seriously) Well is it?
    Debby: YES!
    • The bit is echoed later in the same episode with Captain Murphy and Dr. Quinn.
  • Has happened a couple times on Ed, Edd n Eddy.
    Eddy: Do I look like twenty bucks or what?
    Edd: "Or what?" is a good question...

    Eddy: I was born to fleece, Double D! Do you know who I think I am?
    Edd: Unfortunately, yes.

    Eddy: Oh? A Smart guy huh?
    Edd: Only when you're around, Eddy.

    Eddy: What could be more important than Master Eddy?
    Ed: COOKIE DOUGH!! Yum-yum-yum-yum-yum-yum-yum-yum!

    Eddy: What would we do without you, Double D?
    Ed: Live the life of Riley?.

    Eddy: Will you ever cease to amaze me, Ed?
    Ed: Yes I will!

    Edd: Ed! What in heaven's name were you thinking?!
    Ed: Absolutely nothing, Double D.
    • Maybe he's learning his lesson: in The Movie, Eddy, having gotten stranded in the middle of the desert with his friends, says to Double D, "Have I ever steered you wrong? Don't answer that."
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "The End of Flutter Valley, Part 4", when Sting voices concerns about the swarm's increasingly villainous activities when Queen Bumble orders him to guard Morning Glory, she asks him whether he wishes to remain her right hand or not. He starts answering that he's not actually too sure about that, but an angry Bumble cuts him short and orders him to just go guard the prisoner already.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
      • In "Friendship is Magic, part 1", Nightmare Moon's demand for recognition backfires when Pinkie Pie treats it as guessing game.
        Nightmare Moon: Am I not royal enough for you? Don't you know who I am?
        Pinkie Pie: Ooh, ooh, more guessing ovo188! Um, Hokey Smokes? How 'bout... Queen Meanie? No, Black Snooty! Black Snooty!
        [Applejack tries to shut Pinkie up by stuffing a cupcake in her mouth]
      • Pinkie does it again in "Dragonshy":
        Rainbow Dash: Hey! What are you waiting for, an invitation?
        Pinkie Pie: Ooh, I think I have one in my bag!
      • Sweetie Belle gets in on the act in "Sisterhooves Social":
        Rarity: Sweetie Belle, what am I going to do with you?!
        Sweetie Belle: Oh, we could paint together! We could ride bikes, play chess, sing a song, catch frogs, pillow fight...
        Rarity: That's not what I meant!
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle:
    • In one episode, Boris says something to the effect of "Do I look like the kind of guy who'd lie to you? Don't answer that."
    • Also:
      Boris: What did I ever do to deserve this?
      Natasha: Well...
      Boris: Don't answer that.
  • The Flintstones:
    Fred: Barney, my boy, did I ever give you a bum steer?
    Barney: Well...
    Fred: [covering Barney's mouth] Don't answer that, Barney!
    • In another episode, after Wilma sleep-hypnotizes Fred into being more assertive, he confronts Mr. Slate in his office and asks questions like "Have I ever let you down?", "Have I ever screwed up on the job?", etc. Slate answers "yes" to each question. (Despite that, he's sufficiently intimidated by Fred's new attitude to give in when he demands a raise.)
  • Daffy Duck while flattering a cop in the Looney Tunes short "Hollywood Daffy": "What's Errol Flynn got that you ain't got? [to audience] Don't answer that!"note 
    • In "Kitty Kornered", after Sylvester and his fellow cats have been put out on a freezing-cold night:
      Sylvester: Are we men, or are we mice?
      Small Cat: I like cheese...
      Sylvester: (dope slaps the small cat) Smack!
  • Kim Possible:
    • From "A Very Possible Christmas:
      Ron: What? I'm supposed to let you take over the world?
      Drakken: In the spirit of the season, yes!
    • From "A Sitch in Time":
      Monkey Fist: Can you two buffoons take this outside?
      Killigan: At thirty thousand feet?
      Monkey Fist: Precisely.
  • From the Chowder episode "Schnitzel Makes a Deposit":
    Old Lady: Would you care for a free lollipop?
    Chowder: Would I?!
    Old Lady: Would you?
    Chowder: Would I?!
    Old Lady: Would you?
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes:
    Jimmy: Would you have a good date with a sandwich?
    Beezy: *begins drooling*
    Jimmy: Don't answer that.
  • Phineas and Ferb: "You wanna live forever?" "Was that an option?"
  • In the Beetlejuice episode "Poultrygeist," Beetlejuice is tormented by a sentient roast chicken from his refrigerator that has an answer for every question which it writes on a note pad. Lydia has the solution—ask it questions that have no answer.
    Lydia: What's the sound of one hand clapping? (Chicken is about to write but is stumped)
    Beetlejuice: And if a log falls on a lumberjack in the forest and no one's around, does he make a sound? (Chicken now getting frustrated)
    Lydia: (winks to B.J.) Now here's the clincher. (to chicken) Hey, poultrygeist...which came first, the chicken or the egg? (Chicken loses it and explodes)
  • An episode of Johnny Test where Johnny uses a device to reanimate the corpses of Porkbelly's founding fathers has this exchange:
    Lila: Johnny, how many times have your father and I said not to bring back the dead?!
    Johnny: Um, never?
    Hugh: Well, we shouldn't have to!
  • A few instances on Goof Troop:
    • In the earlier instance, Max is trying to convince PJ to ask Pete to take him fishing. This probably would have worked better if Pete weren't a Jerkass who treats PJ very poorly:
      Max: Aww, Peej! Fishing with your dad! What could be more fun?
      PJ: Eating glass! You got any idea what fishing with him is like?!
    • PJ is just as guilty as Max is of giving Pete too much credit in this form, however, as he asks this when it's discovered Pete has been stealing water from Goofy's pipe. PJ, at least, catches himself:
      PJ: Wait, what's that supposed to mean, Max, huh? Are you suggesting that my dad would do something unethical or dishonest? (realization) 'Scuse me. For the sake of our friendship, don't answer that.
  • Gargoyles:
    • In the Five-Episode Pilot when names are being given to the gargoyles that don't have any, one of them argues against the ludicrous human custom of naming everything. He rhetorically asks if the river needs a name, only to be informed that the river in question is called the Hudson. He finally gives up the argument at that, and adopts the name of the river as his own.
    • In the "Avalon" three-parter, when the Archmage learns that human sorcery (i.e the Grimorum) isn't allowed on Avalon, his future self gives him a surprising solution.
      Past!Archmage: You mean we went to all that trouble to get the Grimorum, and now I can't even take it in with me?! What am I supposed to do, eat it?!
      Future!Archmage: You are learning.
  • This exchange from Transformers: Prime.
    Megatron: How long does it take to exterminate a lone Autobot and her human pet?!
    Starscream: Well, in my experience...
    Megatron: Not a riddle, Starscream!
  • From the Animaniacs segment "Bumbie's Mom"
    Slappy: Have I ever lied to you before?
    Skippy: You said keno was legal in Burbank, you said Magilla Gorilla was a woman, you said—
    Slappy: Can it!
  • Get Ace: In the episode "Bandemonium", Ace decides to take up the guitar in order to impress his crush Tina.
    Ace: Tina loves the guitar.
    Hugo: Well she loves her dog, too. Would you eat dog food to impress her?
    Ace: Well, if this doesn't work, it's Plan B.
  • Inverted in the Gravity Falls episode "The Time Traveler's Pig":
    Blendin: Do you have any idea how many rules you just broke? [Beat] I'm asking. I wasn't there. It was probably a lot, right?
  • Queer Duck: When they attend the funeral of a friend who died of AIDS:
    Openly Gator: (sobbing) Why him? Why him?
    Queer Duck: Oh, I don't know, because he was a condom-hating, intravenous drug user with a Haitian boyfriend?
    Openly Gator: That was a rhetorical wail!
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • In "Joker's Millions", the Clown Prince of Crime has a caper go sour because he keeps running out of bullets, squirting flower acid, etc. His problems continue when he attempts to flee the scene:
      Joker: I thought I told you to get gas!
      Harley Quinn: We're broke, remember? What was I supposed to do? Fill the tank, shoot the guy, and drive off?
      Joker: (affirmative "mm-hmm" mumble).
      Harley Quinn: Now you tell me!
    • In The New Batman Adventures episode "Girl's Night Out", Livewire asks Harley if she's out of her mind, which she thinks about for a few seconds before answering "Yeah."
  • Subverted in Donkey Kong Country: when things start to go bad for King K. Rool, he loudly asks "Where is Klump when I need him?!" Krusha, of all lizards, asks whether or not that was rhetorical.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    Sokka: Look! Can your fortune telling explain THAT!?
    [Cut to a volcano clearly on the verge of eruption, despite the town fortune-teller's reading that the volcano wouldn't destroy the town that year]
    Villager: Pff. Can your SCIENCE explain why it RAINS?
    Sokka: YES! YES IT CAN!
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars, "Storm Over Ryloth": After being informed that scans reveal Anakin is the only lifeform aboard the Defender Tuuk gives a disbelieving "What?" that causes the droid to start repeating its report verbatim before Tuuk cuts it off as he realizes it's a trap.
  • A variation in Livewire's introductory episode of Superman: The Animated Series. She is a radio shock jock being interviewed by Lois Lane and Clark Kent regarding her hatred and constant harassment of Superman. During the interview, Clark becomes distracted when his super senses realize that a construction crane is collapsing, and she sarcastically asks if she is boring him. Needing to leave to rescue the people in danger, Clark flatly responds that yes, she is boring him, and he gets up and walks out of the interview.
  • In the first episode of Over the Garden Wall, Wirt and Greg have this exchange on first meeting Beatrice:
    Wirt: What in the world is going on?!
    Greg: Well, you're slapping yourself, and I'm answering your question, and...
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: "Lights Out" begins with Rabbit storming into Pooh's house after he allowed the bear to borrow his shovel, but Pooh forgot to return it.
    Rabbit: Pooh, I want my shovel back right now!
    Pooh: Your shovel?
    Rabbit: You promised you'd return it last week, you silly bear! If I don't begin planting my carrots at the stroke of 12, how will they grow up to be midnight snacks?!
    Pooh: I don't know, Rabbit. Uh... how?
    Rabbit: (pulling his ears in frustration) AAARGH!!!
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) episode "Donatello Trashes Slash", Donatello gets ready to demonstrate his new pizza-slicer. Understandably, the other turtles aren't too crazy about it.
    Leonardo: Uh, Donatello, are you sure this is such a good idea?
    Donatello: Hey, have you ever known one of my inventions to fail?
    [his brothers stare, giving an obvious answer]
    Donatello: Uh, never mind. Don't answer that.
  • Teen Titans Go!: After being busted canoodling by Gizmo (A super-genius five year old), Cyborg and Jinx try to convince him they were actually fighting over the ice cream cone they were sharing.
    Gizmo: STOP! Do I look like I was born yesterday?
    Jinx and Cyborg: "Yes." "A little."
    (Gizmo's face is replaced with a live action baby and SFX of a baby crying)
  • In the Wander over Yonder episode "The It", Wander tries to get Lord Hater to play tag with him while Hater is planning his next big invasion, but Lord Hater assures his minions he's not going to let himself get distracted by Wander's antics again.
    Lord Hater: Do you think I'm going to let some silly game ruin my chances at galactic superiority?
    Watchdog: Uh, you do seem to do that a lot, so... (gets zapped by Peepers)
  • Clifford the Big Red Dog:
    Cleo: Have I ever steered you wrong?
    Clifford: Well, as a matter of fact—
    Cleo: Never mind...
    • Another example from Clifford's Really Big Movie:
      Cleo: We need a plan, guys!
      T-Bone: Alright, who's got a plan?
      Cleo: I do.
      Clifford: Are you sure?
      Cleo: Have I ever steered you wrong?
      Clifford & T-Bone: Well—
      Cleo: Don't answer that.
  • Milo Murphy's Law: Played with in the episode "The Note":
    Melissa: When we signed up to be Milo's friends, we knew it wouldn't be easy...
    Zack: I don't remember signing anything.
    Melissa: ...So are we going to find that note?
    Milo: That's a good question.
    Zack: You're supposed to say "yes", Milo.
  • Adventure Time:
    • In the pilot, after Pen throws snowballs at a fire elemental for no apparent reason, the elemental sarcastically asks how old he is. The implied dig at his maturity goes over his head.
      Elemental: Oh, real nice. How old are you?
      Pen: I'm 12 years old!
      Jake: I'm 28!
    • "Mystery Dungeon":
      Finn: (ruefully) Who in this world is sadder than the Ice King?
      Shelby: (snarky) Me, watching this.
    • "The Light Cloud"
      Finn: You think the outside world is scary. Well, you know what's really scary?
      Bystander 1: Bees!
      Bystander 2: Germs!
      Bystander 3: Frogs!
      Bystander 4: Crowds!
      (the last bystander looks around and shrinks away in a panic)
  • The Fairly OddParents!: In the episode "The Secret Origin of Denzel Crocker", it's Mr. Crocker's birthday and he's angrier than usual to his students. His method of torturing AJ, the resident Insufferable Genius, is by posing the question "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?", causing AJ to freak out when he can't answer it. Crocker later asks him "What is the sound of one hand clapping?", and when AJ can't answer that either, the left side of his head collapses.
  • ReBoot: In "Nullzilla", Hack and Slash are searching Lost Angles for Megabyte's pet Null Nibbles, and run into Mike the TV, who's just fled from a bunch of Nulls that suddenly swarmed Hexadecimal after she was attacked by a Web Creature.
    Hack: We're looking for a null.
    Slash: That's right, uh, have you seen one?
    Mike: Have I seen one? Have I seen one?! ...That's a joke, right?
    Hack: Hey, whaddaya mean "joke"?
    Slash: Joke. Noun. Something said or done to cause laughter; something not in earnest or ridiculous.
  • Defied in The Garfield Show episode "Perfect Pizza" when Garfield gets caught in a pizza-making machine.
    Garfield: (To the audience) Do I look like a ball of dough? No, don't answer that. HELP!
  • Steven Universe: In "The Trial", the Defense Zircon falls into this when she starts to question the official story of Rose Quartz shattering Pink Diamond. It's especially funny since Blue Diamond really did ask that question earlier in the episode.
    Zircon: The only question no one seems to be asking is, "How?"
    Blue Diamond: (indignant) I've been asking that question.
    Zircon: (nervous) And right you are to ask, my Diamond!

    Real Life 
  • The most notorious Real Life example in history: "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" Naturally, four of Henry II's knights mistook it for a contract on Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and did something that would make Henry regret that comment for the rest of his life.
  • Harold Wilson, British Prime Minister in the 1960s once gave a speech in dockyard town of Chatham. Wilson extolled the virtues of the navy, and asked a rhetorical question: "And why am I saying all this?" A heckler from the crowd replied: "Because you are in Chatham!"
  • During the 2002/03 Premier League Season, as his Sunderland side were on their way to recording (at the time) the worst points tally in the league's history, manager Howard Wilkinson attempted to shut down a crowd of journalists by asking them how many England caps they had. One of the journalists just so happened to be 1966 World Cup winner Jimmy Armfield, who promptly shot back, "Forty-three, actually, Howard". Wilkinson saw the funny side.
  • Formula One drivers have had lots of these, usually off track:
    • For a while in the UK, it was common for police officers to pull over speeding drivers and rhetorically ask them, "Who do you think you are, Stirling Moss?" Moss himself once recalled being asked that exact question by an officer who had pulled him over for speeding and didn't recognise him. He apparently had some difficulty convincing the officer that yes, he really was Stirling Moss.
    • There's a (probably apocryphal) story that during the 1992 British Grand Prix weekend, a policeman near the Silverstone circuit pulled over a speeding driver and asked him, "Who do you think you are, Nigel Mansell?"... only for the driver to introduce himself as Ayrton Senna.
    • After winning the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was jokingly asked on the podium at the time by former driver Mark Webber what he had for breakfast which gave him his speed. Bottas genuinely answered "Porridge," causing fans to claim that porridge is the source of his performance.
  • An old lawyer's maxim is, "Never ask a question you don't already know the answer to." This has a few caveats, though:
    • On direct examination, witnesses for your side cannot be asked leading questions (i.e. ones that suggest a particular answer). Consequently, if a lawyer hasn't thoroughly gone through all possible questions with a witness, their own witness might surprise them with an unexpected interpretation of the facts.
    • On cross-examination of a witness for the opposing side, it is sometimes necessary to ask a question one thinks one knows the answer to, but a more complex answer awaits. These are the single biggest frustration to an attorney.
  • It turns out if you leave a rhetorical question lying around in an example entry on This Very Wiki, somebody WILL come around and answer it. They're best avoided as bait for violations of the "Repair, Don't Respond" guideline, don't you agree?


Video Example(s):


Anything Else I Need To Know?

After Jewel finds out at the worst possible time that Blu cannot fly she rhetorically asks him if there is anything else she needs to know Blu gives the answer not realizing it's a rhetorical question by saying that he can't fly, he picks his beaks and every once in a while he pees in the bird bath.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / RhetoricalQuestionBlunder

Media sources: