What Would X Do?

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"Sir, look outside, do you see that man sitting in the green car? That's my dad. Let me tell you a story about a dream, a boy's dream: A man promised to buy his son a car if I brought up three A's and two thousand dollars. I already have the two thousand and two A's. Your B minus? Poof! Dream gone. Kaput. Now sir, ask yourself... what would Jesus do?"[1]
Sam Witwicky negotiates for an A- and a car, Transformers

When a character quotes someone's advice or asks what that person would do in a situation similar to theirs. That someone can be a religious figure of choice, Mentors, or someone they idolize in general. Some characters have a tendency to do this all the time, as much as Once an Episode.

Because of the "What Would Jesus Do?" material in Christian homes, and other serious uses of the idea, this is an Undead Horse Trope. Opposite of Hitler Ate Sugar.


Examples of What Would X Do? include:

Serious[edit | hide | hide all]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Arika in Mai-Otome, quoting her grandmother
    • In Sifr, Shirow, who is strongly implied to be Arika's father, does the same thing for his grandmother.
  • Himawari from Himawari!, quoting Denzou from her favorite TV show
  • Tohru from Fruits Basket, quoting her mother
  • The protagonist of Change 123 always thinks of the advice of his favorite hero Kamen Raider when a tough situation (or temptation) comes up.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, many decisions are influenced by what the characters believe Kamina would do in that situation.
    • Admittedly, the first time this happened, the conclusion was "blunder into an incredibly obvious trap".
  • Gaara wonders in Chapter 465, "What would Naruto do?" with regards to Sasuke; he has a desire to save him due to their being Not So Different, but his duties as a Kage compel him to bring Sasuke to justice.
  • Julian in Legend of Galactic Heroes would often think of how Yang Wen-li, his guardian and role model, would solve the problems he was facing at the moment after he took over command in the wake of Yang's death.
  • Hikaru in Hikaru no Go would think about how Sai would play in his situation when he did not have a good move.
  • Throughout the anime of Trigun, Wolfwood watches Vash work through every situation in an idealistic cloud, naively trusting people he shouldn't and avoiding lethal attacks in gunfights, nearly getting killed consistently yet always solving the problem with a minimum of bloodshed. Near the end, facing his own deadly situation, Wolfwood decides to try this method of doing things. He gets killed.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Current Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes frequently tries to work out what the past Blue Beetles would do, to the point of having WWTKD (What Would Ted Kord Do?) on his bedroom wall. Jaime is kind of adorable.
    • In his Batman the Brave And The Bold version Jaime's hero worship is directed differently, so it's "What would Batman do?" instead.
      • That might change after he found out about Ted. He even ends the episode by saying he tries to do the right thing, just like Ted.
  • While it's debatable whether he was being serious or not, The Question once asked himself "What would Rorschach do?"
    • Kill anyone who annoyed him. Duh.
    • There was an issue where the Question decides to take the Rorschach approach to crime fighting. He concludes that the Rorschach approach sucks.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon gets his sister to go home by asking her, "What would a defender of justice do?". It actually worked.
    • Fish Story reference?


Film[edit | hide]

  • The main character of Woody Allen's film Play It Again, Sam takes his life lessons from Casablanca. Humphrey Bogart's character from that movie appears as a Spirit Advisor.
  • Maverick always quoted his Pappy.
  • Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean films advises whelpish William Turner to think like him, Jack, in order to manipulate people and get his way. William does so to increasing degrees. Later, when Jack is in over his head, he mutters to himself, "Think like the whelp."
  • A similar thing happens in the 1997 remake of That Darn Cat. In order to rescue Patti, Kelso must follow DC's nightly route; hence, he must think like DC.
  • In Attack of the Clones, Anakin wants to put the ship down after Padmé falls out instead of continuing to pursue Dooku and try to save the galaxy. Obi-Wan gets him to relent by asking him, "What would Padmé do were she in your position?"
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, one of the men at the conference, after the robot lands, literally says "It's times like this when we ask ourselves, 'What would Oprah do?'"
  • One of the taglines for Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay is "What would NPH do?"


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The 1897 novel In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? is mentioned in The Other Wiki as the source of the modern usage of the phrase. In the novel, the pastor of a church in the railroad town of Raymond challenges his congregation to stop and think "What would Jesus do?" before doing anything, for a full year.
    • The song of this name by Big Tent Revival was the Trope Codifier for the revival of the phrase in the 90s.
  • In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck always gets down on himself, thinking that Tom Sawyer could do it better. However, once Tom arrives on the scene, his overcomplicated, grandiose plans just make the situation worse.
  • In Stephen King's After the End novel The Stand survivors are guided from all over the US to a gathering spot by prophetic dreams. Along the way one survivor, Larry, gets so used to following the signs and example of another survivor, Harold, who had passed along the route first (and come up with clever solutions to problems) that Larry later admitted that when he encountered obstacles he started wondering "What would Harold do?"
  • Candide frequently mulls over how 'if Master Pangloss were alive, surely, he would find a reasonable explanation for this.'
  • History book The Mongol Art of War concludes with a chapter explaining how modern military has been influenced by the Mongols. The author suggests that modern military commanders should consider WWCD, or What Would Chinggis (Khan) Do? The fact that majority of the answers would constitute war crimes today doesn't make the advice any less applicable due to the brilliant tactics utilized by the Mongols.
  • A chapter of the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Gallifrey Chronicles, in which Trix finds herself facing an alien invasion on her own, is titled "WWDWD?"
  • Sword of Truth - Terry Goodkind has stated he wants his readers to approach real world morality by considering what Richard would do. You can start screaming now.
  • In Discworld's The Last Hero, Ponder Stibbons had to come up with an emergency solution to an Airship flight problem. Problem is, the senior wizards all want to help. To come up with a way to divert their attention, his line of thought went what would Lord Vetinari do? And it works; he suggests they form a committee, and get back to him once they've decided something, which is how Vetinari got rid of people offering their opinions earlier.
  • In the Lord Peter Wimsey book Have His Carcase, Harriet Vane discovers a dead body and thinks: What would Lord Peter, or Robert Templeton (the detective in the books she writes) do?
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, all the Lannister siblings have moments where they think back to their father, Tywin, and how he would handle the situation, usually acting accordingly. Jaime and Tyrion occasionally think this way about each other as well, indicating both their closeness and how their opposite skill sets compliment each other.
  • In the American Girls book Felicity Saves the Day, the title character has to convince her father's runaway apprentice Ben to turn himself in. When her grandfather asks her how she managed it, she tells him, "I said what I thought you would say."
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's novel Citizen of the Galaxy, a Colonel states a couple times that when faced with a difficult situation, he thinks of his former commander and asks himself "What would Col. Baslim do?"
  • Rand, Perrin, and Mat from Wheel of Time are all of the opinion that they will never be able to understand women, yet each one thinks that the other two understand women perfectly. It was a common thing in the earlier books especially for one of them to end up in an awkward and/or unpleasant situation with a woman and try to figure out what the other two would do if they were there.
  • When faced with the prospect of breaking up with his pregnant, loveless girlfriend or aborting their would-be child, Lane Dean wonders what Jesus would do.
  • Late in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor, Luke draws strength from considering how Obi-Wan would act in this situation.
  • Will's mantra whenever he comes to a difficult decision in Ranger's Apprentice is asking himself, "What would Halt do?"
  • In Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, Rimmer, on discovering he has minus twenty minutes to prepare for his exam, asks himself, as he always does in a crisis "What would Napoleon do?"

Something French, he decided. Probably munch on a croissant, and decide to invade Russia. Not strictly relevant in this situation.

  • 1916 children's novel Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher has a chapter in which Betsy gets herself out of a potentially dangerous situation. She admits later that she figured out how to rescue herself by thinking what her older and very capable cousin Ann would do in the same circumstances. Cousin Ann is quietly pleased to hear this.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Tendou in Kamen Rider Kabuto ("Grandmother said this...")
  • Despite The Middleman being almost entirely Affectionate Parody, Lacey is sincere when she asks "WWWWD? What would Wendy Watson do?"
  • There's a throwaway line like this in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive for the series' 15th anniversary Reunion Show, when Alpha Six wonders "What would Zordon do?!" (The answer is "Observe the viewing globe and let the Rangers figure it out," of course, but the whole reason Alpha is there is because the Rangers are absolutely useless in this situation.)
  • NCIS uses this with Gibbs a few times. Partly because most of the cast think of him as a Physical God and partly because he's just about psychic.
  • Life. At the end of one episode, a young woman finds out her father killed the park ranger who was her mentor. She promptly aims a rifle at him. When Crews asks her "What would [mentor] do?" she promptly replies "Kill him." Crews then asks "What would he want you to do?" (Beat) She lowers the gun.
  • One episode of Stargate Atlantis has John Sheppard ask himself "What would McKay do?"
  • In one episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Salem got cat-napped by a little kid who wanted a pet. A couple scenes later, Salem is trying to figure out how to get back home.

Salem: What would MacGyver do?

  • In the Adventures of Shirley Holmes episode "The Case of the Mysterious Message," Shirley gets herself locked inside a safe while looking for her grandmother. Her friends Bo, Bart and Alicia think she's been kidnapped and set out to look for her, and to decide how to go about this, they wonder "What would Shirley do?"
  • In the final episode of The West Wing outgoing Chief of Staff CJ gives her successor in the new administration, Josh, a post-it note with "WWLD?" on it: "What Would Leo Do?"
  • In House of Anubis, one scene has Amber asking "What would Victoria Beckham do?"
  • In Part One of the Leverage season one finale, Nate and Sophie know that Sterling has them figured out, and pull off the rescue by asking "What would Hardison/Parker do?" They decide they would use electronics to blow out the mooks' eardrums and jump off a really tall building, which do seem like very Hardison and Parkerish plans.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode The Freshman:

Xander: When it's dark and I'm all alone and I'm scared or freaked out or whatever, I always think "What would Buffy do?" You're my hero. Okay, sometimes when it's dark, and I'm all alone I think "What is Buffy wearing?"

  • Weeds: "What would Vic Mackey do?"
  • Doctor Who: epidode The Visitation Tegan asks "What would The Doctor do?" to start The TARDIS. He pounds his fist on the consol and The TARDIS starts up. Later, when the TARDIS is malfunctioning, The Doctor hits it in the same spot.


Music[edit | hide]

  • The song "It's 5:00 Somewhere." The X here is Jimmy Buffett, who then joins in to sing the next refrain.

Buffett: Funny you should ask, Al. I'd say, 'Pour me something tall and strong ...'

  • Bruce Robison's song "What Would Willie Do" is both a parody of WWJD and a tribute to Willie Nelson. ("He loves all the people, no matter their races / Hell, he even made a hit country song with Julio Iglesias")


Video Games[edit | hide]

X-23: What would Wolvie do?

  • In World of Warcraft, after the Battle for the Undercity, with the Horde facing war with the Alliance, Thrall wonders what his old friend Grom Hellscream would do in that situation. Varok Saurfang, who had recently lost his son, approaches Thrall and tells him that Grom would tell him to lead his people, giving him some small measure of relief.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, Ramza, after killing some deserters who, while not necessarily evil, are intending to collect the bounty on his head and use it to gain a pardon, wonders what his father would have done in that situation.


Visual Novel[edit | hide]

  • In Ace Attorney Investigations, Edgeworth is able to put the final pieces of the puzzle in the last case together by thinking to himself (paraphrased) 'That man who could turn around victories from the brink of defeat...what would he do?' This makes him realise that he needs to 'turn around' his thinking, and thus that the blood on the Samurai Dogs pack might not be from the victim, but that it could be - and is - from the murderer.


Western Animation[edit | hide]


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Common in Moral Philosophy. Many thought-experiments are based on some variant of "What would The Omniscient do?" or "What would a totally impartial person choose?"
  • Common in lay religion. Protestant Christians ask themselves what Jesus would do, Catholics ask themselves what Jesus or the appropriate saint would do, Buddhists ask themselves what Buddha or the appropriate Boddisatva would do, and so on.
  • Probably common way of analyzing various conundrums among anyone with a bit of imagination. Pick your favorite idol or fictional character (from published works, or the Mary Sue of your own Fanfic) and ask yourself what she would do.
    • The problem there, of course is "What is your favorite character is The Joker or The Master or someone?"
  • There was a canonical movement involving bracelets with the shield, inviting teenagers to ask "What would Superman do?"
  • In Pastafarianism there's "What Would the Flying Spaghetti Monster Do?" (and the less common "What Would a Pirate Do?").


Parodies and Subversions[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • In Bleach there's a point where Kenpachi is in trouble fighting Tōsen and tries to imagine what his three main minions would do in this situation:

Yachiru's advice: "Cut with your instinct!"
Kenpachi: "I tried that already."
Ikkaku's advice: "You could try that "see with your mind's eye"-thing."
Kenpachi: "If I could do something like that, I wouldn't need you to tell me about it, stupid!"
Yumichika's advice: "If it was me, I'd probably... give up... in a beautiful way!"
Kenpachi: "Go die."

  • Black Lagoon has a conversation between Revy and Eda about what gun Jesus would use "as he walked through the valley of the shadow of death".

Eda: Alright, the good shepherd. What's his weapon of choice?
Revy: Huh?
Eda: Psalm 23 verse 4, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death." But what I wanna know is, what would you take with you, you know, if you were him.
Revy: Hmm, I'd say a Jericho, 941 FBL.
Eda: That's a pretty limp-dick gun for Jesus...
Revy: You're the nun. What's your fuckin' answer?
Eda: **Holding up her Glock 17L by its holster** Isn't it obvious? This guy here.
Revy: You're full of shit. I mean he was Jewish, right? Of course he'd have an Israeli made gun.
Eda: Goddamn heathen. You're out of your league when it comes to this shit.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

Roger: What would Eddie Valiant do?
[An hour later...]
Roger: ...And then he'd have another cuppa coffee and look at the sports page again! Gosh, Eddie's brave--


Commercials[edit | hide]

  • And, of course, one of the ballsiest parodies was a reasonably successful series of commercials for Subway: What Would Jared Do? (This is made even funnier by the fact that Jared is Jewish.)
    • Another Jewish variant: there are "WWJD?" T-shirts where the J stands for Jon. Jon Stewart.


Fan Works[edit | hide]


Film[edit | hide]

  • From The Waterboy, Henry frequently quotes his mother's inaccurate information or bad advice.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • There's also "What Would Sethra Do?" and "What Wouldn't Zeus Do?"
  • Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit? has a chapter for Homophobic Christians, which suggests that if Jesus were alive today, what he would in fact do is walk up and down the high street carrying a placard that says "GOD HATES FAGS".
  • In the Star Trek novel Sarek, Peter Kirk is kidnapped by the Klingon Ambassador, who had a grudge against his uncle Jim Kirk. While locked up, Peter tries to think of what his famous uncle would do in this situation. The notion he comes up with (And dismisses scornfully) is to seduce his jailer, the ambassador's niece. Amusingly, he eventually ends up doing this for totally different reasons, and this does help him escape.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In one episode of Supernatural an inept wannabe ghost hunter says "What would Buffy do?"
    • Later Sam motivates a reluctant hacker to go through a dangerous mission by asking her what Hermione would do.
  • On Friends when the gang finds out that they're gonna have to keep Rachel's mom and dad from discovering the other one at Rachel's party:

Chandler: Okay, think. What would Jack and Crissy do?

  • An episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 has Crow wearing a "What Would Buffy St. Marie Do?" bracelet... followed by a bracelet with a lot of Ws that stands for, well, a lot of names with two Ws (I'll be damned if I can remember them all, but "Willy Wonka" and "Wim Wenders" stand out).
    • The total list: "What Would the World Wrestling Federation, Woodrow Wilson, Wet Willie, Wesley Willis, Wade Wilson, William Wyler, Wendy Waserstein, Walt Whitman, Willy Wonka, Wim Wender..." (gets interrupted). List courtesy Ward E.
  • In one of the breather episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle is thrown into a prison cell by Joxer to protect her from Joxer's evil brother Jet. Gabrielle tries to think of a way out and asks herself "What would Xena do?" She then suddenly has a revelation, picks up a round plate, and tosses the round plate at the cell door Xena-style...only for the plate to ricochet off the prison cell door and hit Gabrielle square in the face, knocking her out.
  • "I don't know. What would Bennet do?"
  • "What does your bracelet say?" "WWMD." "What would Madonna do. Outstanding."
  • In the episode "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Guinan points out to Riker that he can't follow his natural inclination to think like Picard. Indeed, since Picard has been assimilated by the Borg, the Borg could easily repel any plan that Picard could devise.
  • From The Office:

Dwight: "Whenever I’m about to do something, I think, “Would an idiot do that?”, and if they would, I do not do that thing..."

  • From the Scrubs episode "Our Role Models", Turk gives a pep talk to JD:

Turk: You are John Damn Dorian, so ask youself, "What would John Damn Dorian do?" W.W.J.D.D.D.D?
Surgery patient: Too many "D"s.
Turk: Why are you still awake?

  • In Community episode Comparative Religion Jeff eventually asks himself "What would Shirley do?" when confronting Mike. He initially reasons that she'd seek a peaceful resolution. However, when Mike throws this peaceful approach back in his face, he receives confirmation of what Shirley would actually do from the source herself:

Shirley: Jeffrey, kick his ass!


Music[edit | hide]

If you got a problem,
And you don't know where to turn,
And nobody's advice is helping you,
Don't run round like a chicken,
Don't fall into despair,
Just ask yourself:
What would Elvis do?

  • The Axis Of Awesome wrote a song called "What Would Jesus Do?" making fun of this trope - it points out that most people can't do whatever it is that Jesus would do.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Dilbert, Dogbert advises Ratbert to live by the philosophy "What would Dogbert do?"
  • In a couple of strips of Footrot Flats the Dog is trying to take care of the farm while Wal is away and whenever something goes wrong he asks himself what Wal would do.

The Dog: Oh no! A weta snatched a baby duckling! Wal's not here. What would he do?" "YA &#^%@& WETA!!!"

    • Another one, involving large numbers of stinging insects, had him conclude that Wal would...hide in the outhouse with the newspaper.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Left 4 Dead 2 pulls this off in The Passing when Ellis is nervous about meeting Zoey again later on. Rochelle tries to be helpful but since she forgets Ellis goes on a long winded conversation anytime he mentions Keith, it wouldn't end well if Coach hadn't stepped in:

Rochelle: Ask yourself, what would Keith do?
Ellis: Oh! That reminds me of the time Keith--
Coach: Girl, what are you doing?
Rochelle: I-I wasn't thinking!
Coach: * sigh* Look. Let your guard down for a minute and we all pay the price.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

Reginald: How long has this been in the fridge? Should I eat it? I wonder what Beartato would say."
Imaginary Beartato holding a gun: Give me the diamonds!
Reginald: 'NEVER'

Web Original[edit | hide]

Lester: When times get tough and I don't know what to do, I think to myself... what would Link do?

  • The Comics Curmudgeon's merch includes "What Would Margo Do?" wristbands.
  • What Would Chuck Do? (it's rather obvious)
  • In the Homestar Runner cartoon "A Dumpy Tale", Coach Z tries to insert characters called "The Dancing Brothers" into Strong Sad's story unsuccessfully. Later, when he (falsely) believes he's killed Strong Sad, he starts to panic and wonders what the Dancing Brothers would do. After thinking for a moment, he does exactly what the Dancing Brothers would do: sing a cheerful song and dance away from the scene.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • What would Scooby do?
  • In the "Jesus vs Santa" short, the prototype of South Park, the children ask "What would Brian Boitano do?" and fail to come up with an answer. In the South Park feature film, they sing a song about the subject, listing the feats of Brian Boitano, which lie on the absurd level of a Memetic Badass.
    • Speaking of Brian Boitano, he once did a skating routine to that song, and now has a show on Food Network called "What Would Brian Boitano Make?". It's exactly what it says on the tin.
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer is fleeing a duel with a southern colonel. He wonders "What would Zorro do?" and pictures the swashbuckler being shot by the colonel a la Indiana Jones. Cue Homer's anguished cry, "Zorro!!!"
    • In "Barting Over", Homer had a bracelet that said "WWJD", but when Lisa told him what it meant, Homer complained he thought it meant "What Would Geppetto Do?".
    • Rod and Todd's film choices are influenced by the church movie guide "What Would Jesus View?"
    • In "Dumbbell Indemnity", Homer imagines what Marge would say about getting involved with Moe's car insurance scam:

Marge: Homer, I insist you steal that car!

      • In another episode, Moe tries to convince Homer to give him money. Homer imagines what Marge would say, giving us an Imagine Spot of Moe dressed as Marge, encouraging him to give Moe the money. Then the real Marge enters the bubble and asks what's going on, causing Marge-Moe to hurriedly pull the bubble closed.
    • In "Wedding For Disaster", when the top church minister comes to Springfield, Moe sells buttons and other trinkets with suggestive, (sac)religious messages like "Who Would Jesus Do". Yeah, he's uncouth like that.
    • In "Hungry Hungry Homer", when Homer exposes the Springfield Isotopes' owner's plot to move the team out of Springfield, the owner sics Duffman on him. Homer tells Duffman that this is his chance to do the right thing and fight for the little guys. Duffman feels conflicted and asks himself "What would Jesus do?" A second later Duffman beats the crap out of the Isotopes' owner.
  • A spot for Space Ghost Coast to Coast had SG in line to renew his superhero license and his talk show host license. As he ponders which of the two separate lines to get into first, he wonders "What would Burt Ward do?"
  • When Zuko wonders what his uncle Iroh would do, it usually results in an Ice Cream Koan. He also once wondered what Azula would do, apparently just to be contrary with himself.
  • Lucky from King of the Hill, an avid nature show watcher, has a simple philosophy: "What Would a Monkey Do?"
  • In Family Guy, when they find the trailer of The Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This (a mix of The Passion of the Christ and Rush Hour) in the house of Mel Gibson, we see that Jesus' car license plate is WWID ( What Would I Do).
    • Given the potential mashup with another well known parody, it could just as easily be What Would I Drive.
  • Omi's advice in Xiaolin Showdown: asking people to think at what he'd do.
  • In "Call of the Primitives", an episode of the original Transformers cartoon, famed Autobot Sky Lynx once said, "Now remember, before you do anything, think, 'Is this what Sky Lynx would do in my position?', and you will not go far wrong." Sound advice.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The Chinese Cookie asks WWCS? or What would Confucius say?
  • What Would Kira Do?
  • There was a fairly thriving Browncoat fandom thing of having bracelets which said 'WWMRD' or, 'What would Malcolm Reynolds Do?' (Be awesome, and shoot people mostly.)
    • Fans at Dragon-Con loved it when Jewel Staite gave that advice to Nathan Fillion.
  1. And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. John 2 15-16 (King James Version)