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Shredder: As soon as we destroy Splinter and the Turtles, our work will be done!

Krang: And then we will go into reruns!... I guess.

The villain has the hero at his mercy, and after some Evil Gloating gets down to explaining his Evil Plan (complete with slideshow!) to use their orbital Weather Control Machine to destroy every ice cream store in the city.

"And then what?" asks the hero.

When asked, most villains will mentally hit a brick wall. Whether it's because their plans never get past Stage One, their goals are small-minded, or they honestly never thought that far ahead about cosmic destruction, they won't be able to answer. In this position, the hero may be able to coax them into a Heel Realization and get them to stop their plan, or at least distract them long enough to buy their team mates time to disable the Weather Control Machine. An alternative has the hero make suggestions for what they should do, and how they can leverage the now ice-cream-less city to create a lucrative "Dippin' Dot's" franchise (all to buy time for his allies, of course).

Occasionally, heroes will combine this with a low key discussion of how they are wasting their genius and could make oodles of money renting their Weather Control Machine (or what have you) to drought stricken areas or as insurance against natural disasters. In short, that an honest (if business mercenary) path would make them actually successful. And sometimes, it even works! Then again, if it's a Card-Carrying Villain being asked, they'll just shrug, say "I hadn't thought of that", cackle, and push the big red button anyway. Or the villain may have an insane goal because they are insane, in which case logic is useless.

Sometimes, this can happen to the heroes themselves too.

Also sometimes known as the Monday Morning Question.

A Sub-Trope of Armor-Piercing Question.

Compare Stating the Simple Solution, Was It Really Worth It?, Victory Is Boring, So What Do We Do Now?.

Examples of And Then What? include:

The Abridged Series


 ANUBIS: Silence! Now, after 5000 years of waiting, I'm going to challenge you to a children's card game! And then I'll destroy the world!

YAMI: Why would you want to do that?

A: What?

Y: What's the point in destroying the world? What do you gain from it?

A: ...I don't understand the question.

Y: Look, you must have some reason for wanting to destroy the world. Otherwise, this whole movie was just pointless bickering!

A: Of course I have a reason!

Y: Oh, goodie! Do you feel like sharing it with the class?

A: No, it's a secret.


Anime and Manga

  • An early villain in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple tries recruiting him for his street gang to become the top town delinquents. A pause, and then Kenichi asks what the point of that is as they won't be in school forever, and they can't be delinquents forever. 'Shaggy' or 'Mophead' as he's generally called due to his hairstyle has no response, so the two start fighting.
    • Also played with rather humorously in a conversation between Honoka and Tanimoto.

 Honoka: What are you gonna do if you get that strong?

Tanimoto: Kill someone I don't like.

Honoka: What happens after you kill him?

Tanimoto: Find someone else.

Honoka: And what happens after you kill him?


  • In an early Dragon Ball arc, Emperor Pilaf's mook Shu once asked him what he was going to do after acquiring his wish of controlling the world. Pilaf shrugged off the question.
  • Il Palazzo in the Excel Saga anime is forced to confront this problem in the three part series finale. Having finally conquered the city he realises that he's now going to have to conquer another one and another. It actually drives him insane, until Excel returns to knock some sense into him...quite literally.
  • Near the end of Inuyasha, Naraku's last servant asks him what Naraku will wish for on the Shikon after he kills Inuyasha and company. Naraku realizes that he doesn't know what he wants after all of his enemies are gone.
  • In Shinryaku! Ika Musume, when Ika has tied up the principal of Eiko's high school and hijacked the PA, she begins broadcasting her plans on what to do when she and her "army" Take Over the World. When Ika gets to the "all of the world is taken over" part, she realizes that she doesn't know what to do beyond that point.
  • In Digimon Adventure, Mimi asks what exactly Ogremon would do if he beat Leomon. Ogremon seems baffled by the question—he'd never actually thought of it, and eventually dismisses it as a pointless question. As far as he's concerned, the two of them are just going to keep fighting, forever coming to standstills.
    • Then again, this is one of the Digimon continuities where all dead Digimon are reborn as Digi-Eggs and hatch into the same characters, so Leomon and Ogremon can beat the snot out of each other as long as they like without needing a long-term plan.
  • A prominent theme in Legend of Galactic Heroes by the end of the series. When talented soldiers who have gained fame and recognition in wars have nothing more to use their talents on, tragegy happens.

Comic Books

  • In the dark comedy miniseries G.L.A. Misassembled, Mr. Immortal does this to villain Maelstrom, convincing him not only of the futility of his current scheme to destroy the universe, but of evil schemes in general, and convinces the villain to commit suicide. "Here, I'll go first." Of course, Mr. Immortal gets back up again...
  • Disney Comics' version of the Big Bad Wolf has finally captured the Three Little Pigs in one story, when his mis-named son Li'l Bad Wolf asks him what he will do with his life after he as eaten them. After pondering alternatives like playing the comb and reading the almanac, BBW lets the pigs go.
  • Played with in a pocket issue of Donald Duck: Donald and his nephews happen to stumble upon a Mad Scientist who plans to destroy all of Earth's technology. When called out on it, and questioned what he, himself would be without all his gadgets and devices, the scientist states that he did go insane for a reason. The ducks all realize that there's an undeniable, yet severely disturbing logic behind that argument.
  • In an early issue of Thunderbolts, Graviton is being all villainous, crowing about how easily he can defeat the Thunderbolts. Moonstone replies that, sure, you can beat us. Then the Avengers, the Champions, the Defenders, the X-men and so forth (note: most of these teams no longer existed at this time). So then what? Graviton stopped, realized he had no long term plan at all, and disappeared for about a year.
    • Of course, when he came back, he'd actually thought about it. And decided that essentially ripping San Francisco out of the ground to be his personal party/orgy palace was the "what". Letting him win in the first place might have been less destructive in the long run.
  • In New Avengers, the Wrecker grabs a crowbar and starts to toss around Spider-man, Wolverine and Luke Cage. Then, Spider-woman walks up and asks 'why?'. She wonders at him having the power of a god, and yet a bunch of kids in Los Angeles managed to beat him and his whole team up. She very nearly converts him to the side of good, until it's revealed she wasn't even trying, just lulling him into a false sense of security.
    • It helps that she is both an experienced spy and exudes pheromones that make men fall in love with her.
  • This is the whole point of Mark Waid's Empire series. It features a Dr. Doom esque villain who has killed all the Super Heroes and is the sole military and political power on earth. What now?
  • Used to great effect in the graphic novel Enigma by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo. In the comic-within-a-comic, "The Enigma" taunts "The Rich Cat" with the pointlessness of his goals by saying "And then what? ...and then what? ...and then what?" until "The Rich Cat" can only say "aw, geez, I don't know." The phrase then becomes a catchphrase used by the Enigmatics, a cult inspired by the comic, who say it before committing suicide en masse.
  • In Transformers Ongoing, Starscream, of all people, brings this up when talking with Megatron after they have defeated the Autobots, and are in the process of conquering the galaxy. He actually becomes rather upset about it, as he realises that all of Megatron's rhetoric about the superiority of the Decepticon race has been just that...and that with victory in their grasp, they don't really know what to do with it.

 Starscream: Your philosophy Megatron...

Megatron: Starscream...

Starscream: The Strong should rule....

Megatron: Again Starscream? We find ourselves here AGAIN?

Starscream: All this...for what? Where to NOW Megatron? WHERE TO NEXT!?!

  • Emperor Doom features something like this, with Doctor Doom using the enslaved Purple Man to essentially brainwash the world into accepting him as it's ruler. He eventually gets bored of all the niggly little things that a ruler of the world actually ends up having to do, and decides to let the heroes destroy the machine keeping Purple Man prisoner.
    • Reed Richards asks this of Doom several times whenever Doom's captured him again and is gloating about how he's going to kill Reed and destroy everything he holds dear. Doom has no proper answer, because the be-all-end-all of his existence is to cause Reed Richards as much anguish as possible. Unlike, say, the Joker however, Doom can't admit this (having convinced himself that he's doing it because he's superior to everyone else and deserves to rule the world) and so whenever Reed mentions this, Doom usually just starts screaming about college grudges and beating the snot out of Reed. Doom is kind of nuts.
  • At the end of Punisher Noir, Frank Castelione, Jr. has killed everyone responsible for his father's death. Jigsaw, Barracuda, the Russian, Dutch Shultz... all of them are gone. As he visits his parents' graves, he asks his father what he should do now. Detective Soap called him the Punisher - does he keep punishing forever? Does he keep taking it to the underworld? It's 1935, there's no shortage of mobsters. Frank, Sr. doesn't have an answer for him, but he gets one all the same when a newspaper is blown into his face—featuring an article on Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist party.
  • One Green Lantern story had magnetic supervillain Dr. Polaris try to absorb the "magnetic glue" that holds the universe together, increasing his powers to infinite levels. It would also destroy the universe. The comic lampshades that Polaris is too drunk with power to stop to think what he would do afterward.
  • At one point in Marvel's 1989 crossover Atlantis Attacks, B-list heroine Firebird comes across several invading Atlantean/Lemurian troops who have gotten lost in the desert. After a Curb Stomp Battle (if you breathe water, and have to use a specially enclosed suit to survive on land, don't fight someone who controls fire and heat without being REALLY prepared). Once that's over and she talks to them, she asks them that even if they win this war, what exactly are they going to do? They shrug. They come to a compromise wherein she destroys all their weapons and guides them to Tahiti, where they promise to sit out the rest of the war and decide to try and pick-up land-dwelling women.
  • After going mad, Genis-Vell helps the cosmic villain Entropy successfully destroy the universe. Afterward, Entropy, Genis, Epiphany, and Rick Jones are left foating in a void of nothingness, and Entropy realizes he never expected to actually succeed and doesn't know what to do, now. So they do some Timey-Wimey Ball jiggery-pokery and the universe comes back.
  • Played for Laughs in one strip from a series that ran in several of Marvel Comics' series. A young Silver Surfer gets a young Thanos to change his plans by asking him hypothetically, if he succeeded in getting Lady Death's attention by destroying the universe and she fell in love with him, what he would get her for her birthday. Thanos thinks carefully for a moment.

 Thanos: "A pair of shoes?"

Silver Surfer: "You just destroyed the universe! There are no shoes!"

Thanos: "Oops!"

  • In the first Marvel/DC crossover, Supes and Spidey are battling their arch-nemeses on a satellite when one announces their intention to really destroy the world, instead of blackmail it with the threat of destroying it. Spidey asks the other Super Villain, "Where are you going to spend your money then?" Not only does he mentally hit the brick wall, it results in a major (if temporary) Heel Face Turn for Doctor Octopus.
  • In the Riot at Xavier's story arc in Grant Morrison's run of New X-Men, the radical young mutant Quentin Quire leads an anti-human riot by the mutant students. Quire declares that the rioters will take over the entire school. An unimpressed Emma Frost asks the question verbatim.


  • This is Lampshaded in the Tamers Forever Series when the Big Bad of Omni-Tamer; Blackwargreymon, outright states that he has absolutely no idea what he is going to do after he's killed Takato. Unlike most examples, he doesn't really seem to mind all that much.
  • Asked of Kazuya Mishima in Ashes of the Phoenix by Lei Wulong. While Kazuya has an answer, Lei successfully outmaneuvers him.


  • Dog Day Afternoon has loads of this, with Charles Durning repeatedly trying to convince Al Pacino and John Cazale to turn themselves in.
  • In Alexander, Hephaistion at one point asks Alexander what he would do once he conquered his way all the way to his much sought "Outer Ocean". Without missing a beat, Alexander turns to his boyfriend, and moral center, and answers: "I turn around and conquer the other half!", leaving Hephaistion with the perfect Okay then-face.
    • Check out his entry in the Real Life section below for more details.
  • Megamind: Minion actually asks this after Megamind kills his arch-nemesis.

 Minion: "So, what happens next?"

Megamind: *laughs* "I have no idea!"

    • In keeping with the trope, however, the fun is short-lived; the existential crisis soon kicks in, and the rest of the plot is largely driven by Megamind trying to find a new purpose in life.
  • In Death Becomes Her, the male protagonist's response to his female companions urging him to drink the elixar that grants eternal life is a puzzled "... And then what?" From the puzzled reaction from those around him, he appears to be the only person who's actually considered this rather than just greedily giving in. He then goes on to list the numerous reasons why living forever would suck, especially if it involved being trapped with the rather horrible women in his life for all eternity as well.
    • More of an inversion, really. This trope is about villains confronting the pointlessness of their evil plans, and he is the hero. The villains actually all achieved immortality long ago, and are all so shallow and self-absorbed that most of his reasons of why immortality would suck (eg. seeing everyone they love die around them) don't really apply to them. Their puzzled reaction stems from the fact that they are a bunch of assholes and don't get why anyone wouldn't want to live forver.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Barbossa asks of Elizabeth, "I'm curious. After killing me, what is it you're planning on doing next?" as he pulls a bloody knife from his chest. After all Elizabeth thought very little about it, and even if she had successfully killed Barbossa, she had an entire ship full of pirates to get through, combined with the fact that the ship was out in the middle of the ocean with miles to go before reaching land.
  • Averted in The Incredibles. Syndrome knows exactly what he's going to do after he murders all the superheroes: He's going to use his technology to become the world's only superhero.

  Syndrome: And when I'm old and I've had my fun, I'll sell my inventions, so that everyone can have superpowers, everyone can be super! And when everyone's super... [laughs] one will be...

  • This briefly comes up in Lilo and Stitch. Stitch, after trashing Lilo's room, looks around impatiently, and Jumbo observes;

 Jumbo: This is interesting.

Pleakly: What?

Jumbo: 626 was created for destruction, but now there is nothing to destroy. You see, I never created a greater purpose for him. What must it be like to have...nothing...not even memories to the middle of the night?

  • In Batman Forever, The Riddler presses Two Face to think about what happens after he succeeds in killing Batman. Explaining how unsatisfying a quick death would be, he is able to convice Two Face to consider a more involved scheme to thoroughly destroy his enemy.
    • A hero-to-hero subversion: Bruce says this to Dick when the latter is still hell-bent on killing Two-Face.
  • Subverted in Chinatown: The hero intends it with the villain. It doesn't work, not because the villain claims to be a Visionary Villain, but really because he is a Complete Monster:

 Jake Gittes: I just wanna know what you're worth. More than 10 million?

Noah Cross: Oh my, yes!

Jake Gittes: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can't already afford?

Noah Cross: The future, Mr. Gittes! The future.

  • Finding Nemo: in The Stinger, all of the dentist's fish finally manage to escape the tank and return to the ocean!... but they're stuck in plastic bags. After an awkward silence, Bloat asks "Now what?"
    • Expanded Universe materials show that they make it out of the bags and find Nemo again.
  • A variation in Fierce Creatures. After hearing the plans to increase revenue from their new corporate owner, one of the zookeepers asks the spokesperson: "how much does he want in the end?" Rather baffled at this, the spokesperson asks for clarification, and realizes that the zookeeper is asking for a total sum of money that the boss wants to gain from his new venture, completely unaware that there is no set goal beyond just making more and more money.
  • In Kung Fu Panda 2, the Soothsayer asks Shen if taking over the world will finally make him happy. He replies "It's a start."


  • A variant appears in Animorphs #48, when Rachel asks herself the question, and realizes what the consequences of her Deal with the Devil will be.
  • Dr. Mabuse wants to destroy the world and then rule the ashes. His Meaningful Name is derived from the French "m'abuse" - "I abuse myself".
  • German author Walter Moers' Zamonien books feature a Big Bad who owns the Moloch, the biggest ship on Earth. As it brags about its plans: "And one day, all the ships in the world will become part of it! And then... well, I have to see..."
  • In Adrian Tchaikovsky's Dragonfly Falling, what Thalric asks Fenise when she has him helpless again. After having him nursed back to life so she could hunt him and he could know it.
  • In Soon I Will Be Invincible, Doctor Impossible muses on what would happen if he actually succeeded in taking over the world, and "whether this is the best thing that the most intelligent man in the world could have done with his life". (But his Science-Related Memetic Disorder will keep him at it, nonetheless.)
  • In the Gentleman Bastard series, Locke's mentor has trained the gang up to be perfect robbers, but died before he told them what they were accumulating money for. So they've succeeded beyond his wildest imaginings, but they have no actual purpose for doing it, and they can't spend their wealth or they'll be detected.
  • The titular poem by Yeats applies this to his entire life.
  • In I, Jedi, Corran Horn references this trope in his epic rejection of Exar Kun's attempted seduction to the dark side. See the Quotes page.

Live Action TV

  • In the Battlestar Galactica Reimagined episode "Bastille Day", Apollo combines this with a Calling the Old Man Out when he accuses Zarek of selfishly wanting to be a Martyr Without a Cause rather than championing his ideals. He asks him if he really wants his legacy to be death and chaos; which Zarek refuses and ends the mutiny.
  • In the final (and probably best) episode of Galactica 1980, Starbuck strikes a conversation with a Centurion after they are both stranded on a deserted planet. At some point, "Cy" (the Centurion) mentions that "perfection" is the ultimate aim of the Cylon Empire. When Starbuck asks what's next after that, he admits that they didn't put much thought to it.
  • The episode "Exile" of Star Trek Enterprise has Hoshi threaten Tarquin this way.
  • Stargate SG 1, "Window of Opportunity." A man has trapped everyone in a time loop to attempt to go back in time to see his dead wife. O'Neill asks the title question when he learns that her death is unavoidable. The villain (if you want to call him that) admits that she'll still die and render the entire exercise moot, 'cause the death was unavoidable. O'Neill adds that seeing a person die once is painful enough and that's not something you want to see again. This helps get him to back down and avert the crisis.
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "Signs and Portents", Mr Morden asks Narn Ambassador G'Kar "What do you want?" G'Kar replies that his closest-held wish is to see all the Centauri—the former oppressors of the Narn—exterminated. Morden then asks him "And Then What?"... and G'Kar is at a loss, and responds that "as long as my homeworld is safe, I don't see that it matters". This is what causes Morden to pass him over.
    • The Babylon 5 Card Game has an Alternate Universe version of G'kar called "G'kar Forsaken", who had an answer. Although extremely powerful in a Shadow-themed deck (especially if other players are Shadow-aligned), G'kar Forsaken has a Doom Mark and is implied to be corrupted beyond redemption.
    • As a counterpoint, the Centauri Ambassador Londo Mollari has a similarly simple wish: To have the Centauri Republic restored to its former glory. His wish, on the other hand, has enough of an answer to "and then what?" built into it to serve Morden's purposes. Londo eventually figures out what a horribly bad idea Morden's 'help' represents, but by this time Morden has already wormed his way into the Centauri high command.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "The Killer Shrews", Dr. Forrester declares in the Invention Exchange that he will "cleave in two this puny planet", but can't think of a good reason when Joel and the Bots ask why.
  • A zig-zagging trope from the Star Trek Deep Space Nine Bond Parody episode. At the end Bashir tries this on Dr. Noah to buy enough time to save the crew, but this fails. So he decides to go one step further down the line, and forces the plan into Step 3 by literally setting off the villain's plan; destroying the holographic world. By the time Noah decides to destroy Bashir after all, the holosuite program is safe to deactivate. Just before it all ends, though, Dr. Noah admits that he honestly didn't expect to win.
  • Subverted in Lexx, where the villains always knew exactly what they were going to do after scouring, dismantling, or otherwise ruining a planet: the exact same thing to the next planet, until the entire multiverse was used up.

  Mantrid: And once I have done that, I'll rest.

  • In the first season Being Human, George asks this both times Mitchell tells him to run away.
  • The Doctor likes to deconstruct his enemies' plans with this question sometimes, like in "The Pirate Planet":

 You don't want to take over the universe, do you? No. You wouldn't know what to do with it, beyond shout at it.


Video Games


 Orobas: Can I get back to you on that?

  • In Kirbys Epic Yarn, Yin-Yarn at one point admits that he doesn't know what he'll do with Dreamland once he conquers it, but says he'll figure something out.
  • A more heroic example occurs in Pokémon Black and White. Cheren is obsessed with being strong and becoming the Champion and whatnot. The current Champion, Alder, does ask Cheren several times what he plans to do when he becomes the strongest trainer, and tells him that being the strongest isn't all the Champion's about. Cheren just replies "Er, er, I dunno, get stronger still?" or words to that effect. This is a part of Cheren's character development later in the game.

Web Comics


 Basphomy: "You didn't seem like the world-conquering type."

Bun-bun: "Well, at least until it gets boring."

Basphomy: "Then what?"

Bun-bun: "Then, anything I want."

  • In XKCD, both Black Hat Guy and Google are hit by this; after acquiring loads of login data, he is unable to come up with anything he wants to do with it, and as for Google...

 Google Executive: Okay, everyone, we control the world's information. Now it's time to turn evil. What's the plan?

Female Board Member: Make boatloads of money?

Google Executive: We already do!

Board Member: Set up a companywide "CoD4: Modern Warfare" tournament each week?

Google Executive: ...Okay, we suck at this.


Web Original

  • This is the job of Evil Efficiency Consultant Edwin Windsor in How to Succeed In Evil. He has little success, since most of his clients are dim, insane, or a combination of the two.
  • An episode of Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy called "Die, Sweet Roadrunner, Die", had Wile E. Coyote going through an existential crisis after finally catching and eating the Roadrunner.
  • From Suburban Knights:

 The Nostalgia Critic: And what are you going to do when all the technology is destroyed?

Malachite: ...think of something.

  • In Atop the Fourth Wall, this is ultimately how the Entity Missing No from another universe is defeated. Linkara's diatribe is especially remarkable.
    • Seems to be his M.O. for dealing with insane and powerful entities. He used the same tactic to convince Linksano to give up on trying to take over the world and come work for him instead when he makes the doctor realise that ruling the world will involve 'running' the world as well.
  • Meanwhile, in the Whateley Universe stories, Mimeo asked himself this question, realized the answer...and thus came up with his epic evil scheme.
    • Step 1: Fight a bunch of superheroes. Step 2: Use their powers to rob some place. Step 3: Bitches and booze. Repeat as necessary

Western Animation

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Uncle Iroh asks this of recurring antagonist Zuko when he discovers Appa in the Earth King's dungeons and intends to kidnap him. While up to this point he had more or less passively allowed Zuko to pursue the Avatar in his quest to "restore his honor", by that point they were wanted criminals of the Fire Nation, and Iroh rightly points out that his actions chasing the Avatar were downright Quixotic. In what suspiciously sounds like a reference to Babylon 5, he ends by asking the questions, "Who are you, and what do you want?" Zuko is forced to recognize the facts, and decides to simply release Appa. The resulting conflict of character resulted in an Angst Coma and gave him nightmares.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers had the planeteers reason this way with an elephant hunting tribe that their excessive hunting would eventually kill all the elephants, and render them even poorer.
  • In Justice League Unlimited, Lex Luthor pulls this on Brainiac, who intends to absorb and destroy "all of creation". Luthor instead suggests they rule everything by merging together; Brainiac not having much of an ego, this effectively puts Luthor in control.
    • Also when Wonder Woman is fighting Bizarro helping Giganta free Grodd from prison, he says he's doing it to help his new girlfriend free her boyfriend, she then invokes the trope, and Bizarro is all uhh... and pow!
  • In one particular episode of the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote actually manages to catch the bird... only to pause and hold up a sign, explaining that he doesn't know what the devil to do with him, Paraphrasing him: "Well, you all wanted me to catch him - now what, smart guys?". Although he is a lot smaller then the bird at that point.
  • Spoofed in a commercial for Cartoon Network that had the cast of Looney Tunes answering various questions. Sylvester is asked what he would do if he actually caught Tweety, and he responds that he'd give him back his wallet that he dropped twenty years ago.
  • Occasionally affects Pinky and The Brain. The most obvious case was from 'It's Only a Paper World', where the scheme is to empty the Earth. It works, but without any actual subjects, the Brain gets bored. Sometimes they need that Reset Button.
  • Some of Doofenshmirtz's plans end up this way. He actually tends to call attention to this himself, rather than have somebody ask since he faces off against Perry The Platypus.
  • In an episode of Earthworm Jim the Animated Series, Evil the Cat plans to destroy the universe. One of his hench-rats asks what they're going to do after that.

 Evil the Cat: I hadn't really thought about it. Gloat, I suppose. Cackle wickedly amongst the ashes, that sort of thing.


 Plankton: Alright Krabs! Now hand over the secret formula!

Krabs: Or...what?

Plankton: I don't know. I never thought I'd get this far.

  • The Daffy Duck cartoon "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" has J.L. invoking this a couple of times late in the short as Daffy starts ad libbing his script.

Real Life

  • According to Plutarch, when Pyrrhus (yeah, the one the victory is named after) went to war with Rome, his adviser, Cineas, asked him what he will do after Rome. Pyrrhus said he will conquer another territory. The adviser asked "and then"... In short, the final answer of the king was "I'll live a good life and have fun". He had no answer to the next question, which was "can't you do it without all the wars"?
    • This is an alternate version of an older anecdote where the characters were Alexander the Great and Diogenes of Sinope. Diogenes' response was a somewhat more snarky "Why don't you save yourself a lot of trouble and just do that now?"
      • Although for Alexander, there really was nothing after to worry about, considering that his lifestyle of constant battle and hedonism killed him before he was forty at 32 years old (and had even finished consolidating the territory he already had, while still planning to conquer more).
      • Also, given Alexander's personality type, it's likely the answer to the question would be a sound "no." That man could never be happy unless he was conquering someone/thing.
      • "And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer". This quote is almost certainly untrue, given that Alexander must have been well aware that there was more land outside his empire, but it seems like the sort of thing he would have done if he had actually conquered the entire world.
  • The end of the Cold War counts for the United States and NATO. For almost 50+ years, they had been embroiled in unarmed political subterfuge in a game of international chess with the only other superpower in the world. Entire strategies had been cooked up for end-of-the-world contingencies, as well as shelters built just in case. Armies had been completely built around what was considered an inevitable ground-war bigger and nastier than anything seen in World War II. And then, in possibly one of the largest anticlimaxes in history...the USSR collapsed under its own weight, leaving the USA as the lone superpower in the world. What were we going to do with this massively bloated defense budget now?
  • AleisterCrowley's father was, perhaps surprisingly, a very devout Christian whose favorite preaching technique was to ask a man what his ambitions were, and to keep pressing the question until the man would say "Well, if I could achieve all of that, I'd be content to die." Crowley Senior would then snap back "AND THEN???", to be followed by a sermon on the relative merits of Eternal Hell versus enrollment in a fundamentalist Evangelical church. (It's possible that this story was the inspiration for the Yeats poem mentioned above, since he and Crowley had known each other for a few years before he became disgusted with Crowley's lifestyle.)
  • During The Seventies, this was a real (kind of) party game, like other psychology-inspired games and discussions. One person would talk about what they wanted to do, and the other one would permanently ask "And Then What?", nothing more. One biography of Warren Buffett mentions that he also played this game once (he was the asker), and the nice lady who was his game partner was in tears afterwards. The Seventies were strange...