[[quoteright:300:[[Series/DoctorWho http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/BadWolf_9622.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:300:[[WeirdnessCensor Eh. Probably just a coincidence.]]]]

->'''The Doctor:''' Bad Wolf.\\
'''Rose:''' But, I've heard that before; "bad wolf", I've heard that ''lots of times''.\\
'''The Doctor:''' Everywhere we go: two words. Followin' us. Bad Wolf...
-->-- ''Series/DoctorWho'', [[Recap/DoctorWhoS27E11BoomTown "Boom Town"]]

A word or phrase that appears throughout an {{Arc}} as a {{Motif|s}}.

Arc Words can be a way to hint at [[AnAesop the Aesop]] or one of the themes of a show, often in the form of a question the characters must find an answer to. Alternately, they can be used for {{Foreshadowing}}. Note, though, that they are not the same thing as a RunningGag, a CatchPhrase, or even just a phrase that ends up popping up a lot due to being used a lot in the plot; Arc Words must help define the tone of their entire work, or at least the plot arc where they appear.

They're often cryptic, and left unexplained until the {{Climax}} or {{Denouement}}. This builds up tension and mystery, and hints that anyone using the words knows more than they're telling. This enigmatic variant is a typical element of a MindScrew, and is sometimes used as a {{meme}}tic way of advertising the show.

Arc Words need not have [[LampshadeHanging attention drawn explicitly to them]]; they often rely instead on eagle-eyed/sharp eared viewers noticing for themselves. In the "Bad Wolf" example from ''Series/DoctorWho'', the words appeared as, among other things, a helicopter's callsign, a reference in dialogue to "The Big Bad Wolf", a graffito, and even in other languages (the [inaccurate] German ''Schlechter Wolf'', and the Welsh ''Blaidd Drwg'', the latter tipping off the Doctor about it).

Look for these on the Internet Movie Database "memorable quotes" page for the show, with the label "repeated line".

The high-browed, academic term used for this is "Leitwort" from the German for "leading" or "guiding word."

When this is a number instead of a phrase, it's ArcNumber, and ArcSymbol if it's an image. Compare with DreamMelody. Not to be confused with [[ComicBook/IronMan Arc Reactor Words]], which generally have to do with [[MemeticMutation caves and boxes of scraps.]]
----
!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''MazingerZ'': "When you pilot Mazinger Z, you can become a god or a devil with its power."
* ''SerialExperimentsLain'' -- "Everything is Connected" and "Close the world. Open the next."
** Or in some cases "Close the world. .txen eht nepO"
** Also, in one or two of the episodes: "Fulfill the prophecy."
* ''GiantRobo'': "The Beautiful Night" and "Can happiness be achieved without sacrifice?" from the {{OVA}}s.
** Another arguable example would be "Big Fire." For most of the series, we're led to believe that Big Fire is nothing more the name of the global criminal superorganization which opposes the Experts. Only in the next-to-last episode do we learn that [[spoiler: Big Fire is a ''person'', and all those worshipful chants the BF members were fond of shouting ("Hail Big Fire! Alliance or death!" and so forth) were in reference to him, not the eponymous organization over which he reigns.]]
* ''Anime/{{Noir}}'': The FauxlosophicNarration BadassCreed at the start of each episode ("..Two maidens who govern death..") is promoted to Arc Words later on in the series itself. Also, "If love can kill people, surely hatred can save them."
** ''Thus spake the Hermit, the blood of the soldats shall run through the wilderness and mingle with the great sea...''
* "Fooly cooly" from ''{{FLCL}}''. Despite being the basis for the show's title and appearing at least once in each episode, "fooly cooly" is never explained. In the final episode, Naota's father tries to goad him into revealing the answer to this: "C'mon, you have to know. [[LampshadeHanging The main character always knows stuff like this!]]"
* ''{{Mai-Otome}}'' has ArcWords in the form of a ''song'' ("Hoshi ga Kanaderu Monogatari"). Each of the three main characters -- Arika, Nina and Mashiro -- knows and sings one stanza each, and its real significance is only revealed in the final arc.
* ''Anime/TheBigO''
** "Cast in the name of God, ye not guilty," a phrase that used to be inscribed on executioners' axes during the Inquisition (At least in the mythology, not in RealLife, the series creator made the phrase up himself), absolving them of the sin of murder since they were doing God's work.
** There are two variations of the second part. The first is "ye not" when Rosewater tries to pilot Big Fau and it just shuts down. The second is "ye guilty" when Alan Gabriel is piloting Big Duo and [[spoiler:it kills him]].
** Also, there are the "tomatoes", introduced as a metaphor[[note]]As Gordon Rosewater puts it, "These tomatoes are reproduced synthetically, with only the memories of the sweet flavor from the original. If we keep repeating the process, this fruit will eventually become the real thing."[[/note]] at the end of the first season and revisited through the second season as part of an OntologicalMystery.
* ''Anime/FafnerInTheAzureDeadAggressor'' -- "Are you there?"
* "Voodoo Child" are Himiko's personal ArcWords in the ''GetBackers'' manga.
* "Three years ago" in the ''Literature/HaruhiSuzumiya'' anime (and first novels). [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] by Kyon, "I'm getting a little tired of the 'three years ago'."
** In the 9th novel "three years ago" becomes "four years ago" since at that point roughly a year has passed since the start of the series.
** The name "John Smith"
* ''ChaosHead'': "Sono me, dare no me?" ("Those eyes, whose are they?")
* In ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}'' the phrase: "The bird of the Hermes is my name, eating my wings to make me tame." appears together with the series' title as well as on Alucard's coffin. It's taken from the Ripley Scrowle, an alchemical text that supposedly details the creation of the Philosopher's Stone. It's likely an allusion to Alucard's nature as an immortal vampire and plays into the series' examination of immortality. Also, [[RuleOfCool it looks pretty cool.]]
* There is much significance to the word "Awakening" in ''Anime/ErgoProxy.''
** Occasionally the phrase "Can you feel the pulse of the awakening?" was used, too.
** "Raison d'Etre" is a big thing in the series
* In ''{{Madlax}}'', there's one phrase that's used over and over again: Elda Taluta. There are two others that accompany this (Sarks Sark and Arks Ark) but rarely get used. The BigBad uses these words to [[spoiler:drive the "true nature" of humans out, which normally results in brutal murders or mind rape]].
* In ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSeed'', there was Mu La Flaga's famous line to Kira; "You have the power to make a difference, Dont you? Why not put it to use?" Throughout Kira's journey there have been several key moments in which Kira could of simply walked away from piloting Gundams and fighting. If he had done so, then his friends would of been killed, the human race would be on the brink of extinction due to a mad man's plans of double genocide, and in the sequel [[spoiler:the world would be under a rule of predetermined control.]]
* In ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00'', the Innovators often mention or allude to what they call "the dialogues to come", which according to Revive is a concept beyond human comprehension. However, after [[spoiler:[[AndThenJohnWasAZombie Setsuna becomes an Innovator]], it's hinted that these "dialogues" may be referring to what he believes is Aeolia Schenberg's plan for human evolution.]]
** It's suggested that it means humanity's first contact with aliens, and that humanity would have to surpress it's warlike nature and internal conflicts to prevent an interstellar war.
* ''Anime/PrincessTutu'': "May those who accept their fate find happiness. May those who defy their fate find glory."
* ''TheGirlWhoLeaptThroughTime'': "Time waits for no one."
* The "kind king" of ''KonjikiNoGashBell'' that everyone who encounters Gash hopes to become.
* ''Manga/{{Monster}}''
** "The monster inside me has grown so big!"
** Also, "People can become whatever they want to be" and "Welcome home" are both phrases that plague Nina's memory. Their significance is eventually explained.
* ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaAs'': "A small wish."
* ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'' has one of these for each season so far, both integrated into an iconic Arc Symbol. For the first season, the Laughing Man logo contains the phrase "I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes" (a quote from J. D. Salinger's ''Literature/TheCatcherInTheRye''), which eventually [[spoiler: leads Togusa and the Major to the truth behind the convoluted Laughing Man case.]] Similarly, 2nd Gig features a symbol containing kanji that are read idiosyncratically as "Individual Eleven", a phrase that has ties to almost every part of the season's StoryArc.
** In the form of the many [[spoiler: {{Title Drop}}s]] within the series, since [[spoiler: Stand-Alone Complex]] is the mastermind behind both seasons. [[spoiler: To be precise, there is no ManBehindTheMan, but rather people believing there is and becoming followers of no-one.]]
* ''Manga/{{Chobits}}'' -- "A person just for me..."
* Lots of Creator/{{CLAMP}} works, especially ''Manga/XxxHOLiC'', ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura'', and ''TsubasaChronicle'', involve the idea of "hitsuzen" -- an event, meeting, or other twist of fate that was determined by previous actions or decisions, and is thus unavoidable. Usually, a phrase along the lines of "There are no such things as accidents. There is only hitsuzen." is used, with "hitsuzen" sometimes translated as fate or destiny. The idea is that people determine their fates with their decisions and actions.
** To make sure it was absolutely clear, the English dub uses the term inevitability.
* ''{{X1999}}'' -- Before Fuuma [[spoiler:awakens as Kamui's twin star,]] "Kamui, I am your..."
* ''Manga/OnePiece''
** The "Will of D."
** Also a rare case of a series where the title itself qualifies as arc words. The words "One Piece" are hardly ever spoken in the show's dialog. When it is mentioned, it's always a major event.
* ''Anime/WelcomeToTheNHK'' has NHK show up often, especially when the protagonist is about to have a nervous breakdown.
* ''VisualNovel/HigurashiNoNakuKoroNi'': "I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I'm sorry..."
** Also, "USO DA!" ("THAT'S A LIE!")
* ''VisualNovel/UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'': "Without love, it cannot be seen." Although it's more obvious in the Visual Novels it's based off of...
* ''ChronoCrusade'': Mary Magdalene. Used to the point that the name is actually worked into the title logo.
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'' has a few, but the most recognizable by far is "I mustn't run away."
** "I'm home." "Welcome home."
** To a lesser degree, "UnfamiliarCeiling".
** For a much more [[NeverTrustATrailer ironic taste]], "[[{{Fanservice}} Service]]."
* ''{{Pluto}}'': The main character has the recurring flashback of a man saying "500 Zeus a body." Seeing as the main character is a robot, other robots can experience his flashback as well.
* ''GetBackers'': Infinity Fortress, Voodoo Child, Brain Trust,
* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima''
** Variations on "[[{{Determinator}} Always keep moving forward]]" tend to crop up in plot-important moments.
** The manga is an interesting case, in that the actual ArcWords ("a little bit of courage") rarely show up. Rather, after the one time someone compared the need to rush bravely in (rather than hanging back and giving your opponent time to prepare) to the ArcWords, the concept of bravery and aggression, as well as trusting your training, comes up more and more. This makes it more of an [[ArcWords Arc Concept]] than anything.
** A straighter example would be "IAmYourOpponent", which recurs often, even in mundane fights.
* ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' has "only one truth prevails" in the translated anime.
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''
** "Mankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. This is Alchemy's First Law of EquivalentExchange."
** "One is All, All is One"
** The referral to the alchemists who practised human transmutation as 'sacrifices' is very thinly explained until the relevent plot point.
** Lust's character arc in the [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist 2003 anime]] has the arc words "Where did I come from? Where will I go?"
** "The truth that lies within the truth" (Dr. Marcoh's cryptic message to Ed).
* The Japanese version of Anime/YuGiOh Duel Monsters (dubbed as Yu-Gi-Oh!) has the term "shin no duelist" which means "true duelist". You could make a drinking game out of it once it starts showing up.
** There's also the riddle "What can you show, but cannot see?" (or in some translations, "what can be seen yet not seen?") which is also a little more important in the [[Manga/YuGiOh manga]].
* Kotomi Ichinose's route in ''VisualNovel/{{CLANNAD}}'' has "Day before yesterday, I saw a rabbit; yesterday, a deer, and today, you." Quoted word-for-word from a short story called ''TheDandelionGirl''.
** Also, Nagisa's "If you like, shall I take you to the place in town where dreams come true?" Appears in the first episode, later as the first line of her play, and [[spoiler: in the GrandFinale of ~After Story~]].
* Walpurgisnacht or Walpurgis Night in ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica''. As revealed in Episode 10, [[spoiler:Walpurgisnacht is a powerful witch that Madoka is supposedly fated to defeat as a MagicalGirl, leading to ''her'' conversion into a witch.]]
* {{Gaogaigar}} has its villains occasionally mention two mysterious concepts: "the legacy of Cain" and "the curse left by Abel." Eventually we learn that [[spoiler: these refer to two children, Mamorou and Kaidou, who are refugees from planets ruled by leaders named Cain and Abel.]]
** GaoGaiGar ''FINAL'' has the oft mentioned, never quoted Oath Sworn Through Courage, which serves as a source of strength for the cast as they encounter the enemy.
* "The Destination of Fate", "Survival Strategy", and "Never amount to anything" in ''Anime/MawaruPenguindrum''.
** "Survival Strategy": Revealed to be [[spoiler:some sort of terrorism plot by the [[WellIntentionedExtremist Kiga group/Penguinforce]]]].
** "Never amount to anything": Initially, it was only used by the Princess of the Crystal in mocking those that she summons, but it's later revealed that this particular phrase has ties to the self-worth of several characters.
* PandoraHearts has, "A darkness that swallows everything," which is used to describe several plot related things.
* ''Manga/SoulEater'' has "A sound soul dwells within a sound mind and a sound body".
* ''Anime/StreetFighterIITheAnimatedMovie'': "What do you see beyond your fist?" It's a question Ryu and Ken were asked by their late master, Gouken. During the final battle with Bison, Ken has a moment of clarity and realises the answer: [[spoiler: "My fate."]]
* CodeGeass has "The only who should kill are those who are prepared to be killed". Said first by [[MagnificentBastard Lelouch]] when using his [[NoEyeInMagic Geass]] for the first time to kill a corrupt military officer, he repeats it several times over both series of the show. It all ties together at the end when [[spoiler: after spilling oceans of blood on both sides of the war, Lelouch's [[ThePlan grand plan]] culminates in him [[HeroicSacrifice sacrificing his life]] to bring peace to the entire world.]]
** Three times Nunnally tells Lelouch "I would be happy anywhere as long as I am with you, brother". In her first appearance, second as part of a ShutUpHannibal during their confrontation at the Damocles, and finally [[spoiler:as Lelouch lay dying in her arms]].
* Anime/{{Gunbuster}} and Anime/{{Diebuster}}: "[[{{Determinator}} HARD WORK]] AND [[HotBlooded GUTS]]!" As well as these two, [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming heartwarming]] and [[TearJerker Tear rendering]] words that serve as this for both series:
** "[[spoiler: Welcome Home]]."
* ''Anime/TamakoMarket'': [[GratuitousEnglish Everybody loves somebody]].
* ''Anime/HellGirl'': "When one is damned, two graves are dug."
* ''Anime/YuYuHakusho'': Sensui's vow that "The seven of us will dig mankind's grave" is actually about his 6 personalities rather than his QuirkyMinibossSquad.
* ''Anime/WitchHunterRobin'': "Three hundred and twenty years have passed since the coven sank in the dark." This is followed by an abstract plot description for the next episode.
* In ''Manga/MurasakiiroNoQualia'', Hatou's considerations on storytelling are repeated in slightly different ways several times. Her struggle with how to tell the story suddenly becomes more understandable, considering we're talking about [[spoiler: a [[TheMultiverse multiverse epic]] [[TheGreatestStoryNeverTold only she has the whole, huge perspective of.]]]]
* Anime/TheWindRises has, well, "The wind rises", which also doubles as a TitleDrop.
* ''Anime/PerfectBlue'': "Go to Mima's room".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* "Something fell" from ''ComicBook/CerebusTheAardvark''. It is usually said a moment before a sudden, life-altering event in Cerebus' life. The first time it was said, the falling object was directly responsible; the next few times, something just happened to fall immediately before the big event, and a character remarked on it. In later instances, a character just ''thinks'' he heard something fall, but we don't see that anything actually does. One interpretation is that ''the words themselves'' have the power to cause important things to happen, but none of the characters seem aware of this. {{Lampshaded}} in "Rick's Story," when Rick tells Cerebus "something fell" just to freak him out. It's followed by a major event anyway.
* ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}:''
** "Who watches the Watchmen?",
** "Pale Horse" and "Krystalnacht" (both band names)
** "One in five (later 'three') go mad."
** "The Comedian is dead"
** The full phrase "Who Watches the Watchmen" is ''never'' shown in its entirety [[spoiler:Until the very last page, after the story has ended.]] There's an interview with Alan Moore somewhere where he mentioned a possible double meaning: not who watches to see if the watchmen are criminals, but who watches them to look after them and take care of them. The question within the story is the first meaning, going unasked because [[spoiler:someone already is. Afterwards, it's Alan Moore telling the reader that ''no one'' takes care of the watchmen, hence their various psychological issues and the slaughter of Manhattan.]] Heavy.
* ''Comicbook/TheInvisibles'':
** "Try to remember. It's only a game."
** "Barbelith."
** The phrase: "Wake up", [[TakeThat in parody]] of ''Comicbook/TheSandman''.
* ''BlackestNight'': '''RISE.'''
* For Creator/GrantMorrison's run on ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'', there was "Zur En Arrh," a piece of graffiti that ends up being a TriggerPhrase for Batman. And it also ends up being his [[CrazyPrepared backup personality]], the Batman of Zur En Arrh. In the end, [[spoiler:it turns out that the phrase is a bastardization of [[DeathByOriginStory Thomas Wayne]]'s last words, "Zorro in Arkham."]] Leading to the irony that [[spoiler: even Bruce doesn't know what the phrase means, as the last thing he ever said to his father is "what?" implying he didn't clearly hear what he said.]]
* In ''ComicBook/OneHundredBullets'' highly trained assassins known as The Minutemen are brainwashed into forgetting their time as killers only to be "awakened" by the use of the cryptic word "Croatoa". This is eventually revealed to be [[spoiler:part of a larger conspiracy involving the founding of the United States of America.]]
* ''Magazine/DoctorWhoMagazine''
** The phrase "The Crimson Hand" kept cropping up in the post-Donna comic strip, along with the Arc Image of, well, a crimson hand. Eventually revealed as [[spoiler: a ruthless gang Majenta Pryce was a member of, prior to ''Hotel Historia'']].
** The Eleventh Doctor comics had "What is buried in man?", which got resolved in the Jan-March 2013 strips (the first storyline of the 50th anniversary year).
* In ''Comicbook/TheSandman'', "Wake up" and its variations.
* In ''{{Deadpool}}'', during Chris Priest's run. Occasionally, whenever things would get dramatic, Deadpool would say "None of this is actually happening. Somewhere, there's a guy with a typewriter..."
* There are tons of these in [[Comicbook/IncredibleHulk Planet Hulk]]:
** ''"This is the story of the Green Scar. The Eye of Anger, the Worldbreaker... Harkanon, Haarg, Holku... '''HULK.''' And how he finally came home."'' (repeated at both the beginning and end of the story)
** Sakaarson and Worldbreaker.
** ''"Sakaarson, hear my cry..."''
** "Never stop making them pay."
** "Fighting for friends."
** "Warbound"
* SpiderMan: OneMoreDay: Brand new day indeed.
* CrisisOnInfiniteEarths: "Why the red skies?" and variations thereof. [[note]]used particularly in the titles running concurrent to the actual maxiseries, codifying the RedSkiesCrossover.[[/note]]
* ''ComicBook/FiftyTwo'''s storyline with TheQuestion had "Who are you?" and "Are you ready?"
* ComicBook/{{Hellboy}}:
** "No rain but thunder, and the sound of giants."
** A minor example in ''{{BPRD}}: 1946'': "The waters here are warmer."
* The first issue of {{Hourman}} opens with Snapper Carr, Hourman's sidekick, writing down a list of arc words as they come to him. Since Hourman is a time traveler, Snapper has had a tiny vision of the future but only remembers it well enough to record about a dozen key phrases, such as "the century of solitude," "the giant nanites," and "the timepoint." Over the course of the series these terms become part of the storyline and are explained one by one. At the end of the final issue, Hourman and Snapper recite the list again, this time as a pair of friends recalling shared memories.
* ''Comicbook/ThePunisherMAX'' series has a reboot of Frank Castle's origins, and in the comic ''The Tyger'', he reminisces on the night where he prepares to make his first kills in his war on crime. He muses that after his identity comes out, they'll blame it on the war, and they'll be right, and they'll be wrong. Most of the comic then divulges a scarring childhood event in which a close friend of his is raped and then commits suicide. As Frank prepares to take revenge himself, he sees the older brother of his friend viciously beat the perpetrator before setting him on fire. A later part of the comic has two all-black pages filled with speech bubbles, detailing the paramedics' arrival on the scene of his family's shooting and the horror of it all, and the doctors talking to him later in the hospital and telling him that none of his family survived. Returning to the present, Frank coldly snipes a group of mobsters and thinks "They'll blame it on Vietnam. And they'll be right, and they'll be wrong."
* ''Comicbook/NewXMen'': "Are these words from the future?" We find out in the final issue that [[spoiler:yes indeed, they are]]. Three other Arc Words are "Sublime," "White-Hot Room," and "Rescue And Emergency." Like the above, all of these are only explained in the last issue: [[spoiler: the White-Hot Room is the abode of the Phoenix, Sublime is the BiggerBad, and "rescue and emergency" refers to the fact that the aforementioned BiggerBad broke time, which Jean Grey "rescues" at the very end]].
* ''Comicbook/{{Fear Itself}}'': "Worthy."
* ''Comicbook/{{The Avengers}}'': "Time is broken" and more recently "The universe is broken".
* The 2011 ''Comicbook/{{Defenders}}'' series: "Shut The Engines Down", "Everyone You Love Dies", "The Universe Will Break", and "Fight To Save Everything".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* [[Fanfic/DividedRainbow Divided Rainbow]]: "It's always been this way."
* ''[[Fanfic/CodePonyEvolution Code: Pony Evolution]]'' has the ArcWords "'''Game Over'''"
* ''Oyuban'' : "(Naruto.) In the business we're in, you can't afford to wear your emotions on your sleeve"
* The [[TitleDrop title of the story]] itself is this [[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/73406/rainbow-in-the-dark in the]] fic, ''FanFic/RainbowInTheDark''.
* "I Am, I" in ''FanFic/OnceMoreWithFeeling''
* "Do not ask questions you don't really want to hear the answer to" in ''FanFic/TheSecondTry''
* "''It Was Time''" and any variation of it in ''FanFic/AeonEntelechyEvangelion''.
* ''VideoGame/Left4Dead2'' fanfic ''FanFic/TwoStep'': "Say hey, Daisy Mae. How many children have died today?"
* ''WesternAnimation/IceAge'' fanfic ''Fanfic/LostInTimeSeries'' for ''Lost In Time: Origins'': "A herd will survive."
** The big one for the whole series is "The Remnant will rise again."
* 'Four places at once' and 'Come crashing down' are this by WordOfGod in ''FanFic/PokemonMysteryDungeonSilverResistance''.
* Nathanoraptor fics tend to have these
* From the ''Manga/DeathNote'' CyberPunk [[AlternateUniverseFic AU]] ''FanFic/AlternativeGods'': "Because there cannot be two of the same thing."
* ''FanFic/ThePartyNeverEnded'' has a unique example, in that the arc words are heard by the main character, but are not actually revealed to the reader until near the end. Every time the arc words are brought up, they get their own arc words: "It said seven simple words to her..." [[spoiler:The true arc words are "I love you, Pinkie! Please wake up!"]]
* FanFic/{{Pipeline}} has this one: "Sometimes being strong isn't enough. Being brave, and good, and determined isn't enough. Sometimes things just happen." Kevin says it to Blossom and Bubbles after Buttercup dies, and Blossom repeats it back to him at the end of the fic when it looks like Ben might not pull through. Even though Kevin says it himself, he doesn't really get it until later.
* In ''FanFic/ACompleteTurnabout'', it's "Are you lying, Mr. Wright?"
* ''FanFic/EdAbuse'': "Heartless, cold-blooded jerk", at least in the first story.
* ''FanFic/AnEndToAllThings'': "Old habits die hard."
* ''FanFic/AsTwilightFalls'': "Sometimes a lie is easier to take."
* The ''FanFic/PonyPOVSeries'' has a few examples:
** Almost all the stories end with the pony in question accepting her new position, declaring "I'm free." In the Discorded Series, this is normally a ''[[BreakTheCutie bad]]'' thing, but in the Reharmonized Series, it's a [[HesBack good]] one.
** "Pearls" for anything involving Fluttershy and Fluttercruel.
*** There's an arc SONG in the form of the three "So Many Wonders" reprises: [[spoiler: The first is about Fluttercruel's happiness over being free from Fluttershy and able to see the world, second is a VillainSong by [[BigBad Princess Gaia]] used to hypnotise ponies into her vision of the world, and the final is a TriumphantReprise at the finale of the arc, Fluttershy and Fluttercruel singing together about how their worldview has changed for the better.]]
** "Dying is easy, living is hard" for the entire series, but especially the [[BadFuture Dark World]]. While in the main series it deals with overcoming what Discord did to them, in the Dark World it's about [[TheAtoner living with what you've done]] and the world you live in.
** "Forgiveness is not earned, it's given" for the Dark World. In addition to the above theme, {{Forgiveness}} is an overarching theme, both being able to give it and being able to accept it.
* ''Fanfic/AceCombatEquestriaChronicles'': All ponies are "children of this land".
* ''FanFic/JewelOfDarkness'': "The greater good" for the [[TheConspiracy White Glove]] plotline.
* ''FanFic/{{Horseshoes and Hand Grenades}}'': "Death is never the answer." This quote is based on how Ryusei's decision to kill Gentaro caused [[ForWantOfANail the events in the story to rise]], and how things could've been settled differently other than by killing others. Most notably, this only works for ''Horseshoes'' only, as ''Wheel of Fortune'' has Mei wanting [[spoiler: her parents and the jerkwad people who were 'posing' as her friends dead.]]
* Two examples in ''Fanfic/TheLionKingAdventures'':
** The Swahili phrase "''Kufa inadwadia''" is this in Series Three. [[spoiler: It translates to "Death is coming", [[{{Foreshadowing}} foreshadowing]] the arrival of Death – the BigBad of that series – in the finale.]]
** "Kill or be killed" is this for Series Five. [[spoiler: Survival is a common theme in the final series, leading to many character deaths.]]
* In ''Fanfic/TheLegendOfTotalDramaIsland'', the chapter-opening boilerplate periodically mentions in passing that Brett’s mother has “neither spouse nor partner”. For most of the story, this appears to be merely a narrative flourish. ''Appears'' to be.
* ''FanFic/NightsFavoredChild'' has the rebels' code phrase "The dawn will come".
* ''FanFic/StarsAbove'' has "The [[TitleDrop stars above]] will fall."
* ''FanFic/PowerRangersGPX Supercharged'': "It is God's will", which includes other wordings and variations.
* ''[[http://archiveofourown.org/works/436139?view_adult=true caede mea in nomine tuo]]'' [[note]]The lower caps are intentional[[/note]] has "I'm not crazy." Every time [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity Rinoa]] thinks that, it becomes [[StartOfDarkness less true.]]
* FanFic/AGrowingAffection has "Rank does not equate to skill" as the ArcWords for the first two books. The title also applies, though it is only mentioned once, while "Rank does not equate to skill" appears a few times and in different permutations.
* In the ''Anime/GirlsUndPanzer'' fanfic, ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9117847/1/Off-The-Path Off The Path]]'', the title is repeated in a few different contexts, usually in the context of the tank falling in the river that Miho [[spoiler:saved at the cost of losing the championship]], but later in the fic, it's mentioned again when Maho ponders that the incident "should not have been enough to force Miho off the path she had walked until now". The final sentence inverts the phrase, and the latter two uses signify that the fic is not just about the incident, but how it affected Miho's changing approach to tankery.
-->'''Miho''': Whatever happens, from here on out, I will continue forward in tankery, on the path I have chosen for myself, along with those who have chosen to walk it with me.
* In the [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic MLP:FiM]] fanfic ''Fanfic/MotherOfInvention'': "NEC DI NEC DOMINI" (translation: "neither gods nor masters"). This mysterious inscription has turned up on every structure Applejack finds.
* Fanfic/TheDearSweetieBelleContinuity has "AStormIsComing", regarding the prophesied war and {{Gotterdammerung}}.
* The title of ''Fanfic/NecessaryToWin'' is used repeatedly, and in various contexts, including what decisions are necessary to win, whether certain people have what is necessary to win, and whether it is necessary to win, or whether victory can be sacrificed if necessary.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: {{Film}} - Animated]]
* ''MeetTheRobinsons'': "Keep moving forward". Notable for being part of a quote from Walt Disney himself.
* In ''ThePrincessAndTheFrog,'' "You got what you wanted, but you lost what you had" may count. It first appears during the opening number, but means something more sinister [[VillainSong the second time]].
* "Going Turbo" from ''Disney/WreckItRalph''.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Rango}}''
** "Control the water and you control everything."
** "One bullet."
* ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda''
** "There are no accidents."
** "There is no secret ingredient."
* ''WesternAnimation/TheCroods''
** "We should go there."
** "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...[[spoiler:''[[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming 7]]'']]"
** "To tomorrow!"
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLorax'': "Unless..."
* ''Disney/{{Frozen}}'' has three:
** "Conceal, don't feel..."
** "Open up/Close the gates".
** "Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:{{Film}} - Live Action]]
* "Rosebud." from ''Film/CitizenKane'' is a possible UrExample. Of course, [[ItWasHisSled it's not really engimatic anymore.]]
* ''Film/{{Contact}}''. "If there is no one out there, it's an awful waste of space."
* ''Film/TheCuriousCaseOfBenjaminButton'' "You never know what's coming for you" represents one of the film's themes that deal with the unexpected ways life will change.
* ''Franchise/TheMatrix'' series:
** "What is the Matrix?" were arc words throughout the marketing and right up until a third of the way through the film.
** "Everything that has a beginning has an end."
* In the original draft of the screenplay, Dante's constant complaint that "I'm not even supposed to be here today!" in ''Film/{{Clerks}}'' was intended to foreshadow the tragic irony of Dante getting shot to death by a criminal at the film's conclusion. As the script was revised, this particular meaning is lost: however, Randall still references Dante's use of the phrase in his rant near the end about how Dante refuses to accept responsibility for his own actions or attempt to make change in his miserable life. The same with the other arc phrase: "Bunch of savages in this town."
* ''Film/TheShining'': REDRUM... REDRUM...
* ''{{Mongol}}'': All Mongols fear thunder.
* ''Film/FieldOfDreams'':
** "If you build it, he will come."
** Ease his pain.
** Go the distance.
* "Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions" from ''Film/RobinHood2010''.
* ''Film/ButtAtlas'', being an a film built largely on symbolism, has a huge number of shared ideas, visuals and - of course - phrases. Sometimes coincidence, sometimes an instance of in-universe quoting, a few stand out:
** "Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others; past and present..."
** "The weak are meat, and the strong do eat."
** "There is a natural order to this world..."
* ''Film/{{Inception}}'':
** "You're waiting for a train..."
** "An old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone."
** "Take a leap of faith."
* "Even a man who is pure in heart..." poem in films featuring Film/TheWolfMan1941.
* ''Film/PrinceOfPersiaTheSandsOfTime'': "Have I told you about the Ngbaka?"
* ''Film/StrictlyBallroom'': "A life lived in fear is a life half-lived."
* ''Film/ThePrestige'': "Are you watching closely?" "Every magic trick consists of three acts." [[spoiler: "No one cares about the man in the box."]]
* ''Film/MysteryTeam'': "Someone stole that man's face"; in a weird way, the f word.
* ''Film/DarkCity'': "Do you know how to get to Shell Beach?"
* ''Film/HotFuzz'': "The Greater Good"
* ''Signs'': When Colleen was dying, she [[spoiler:tells Graham to tell Morgan to have fun and to be silly, for Bo to always listen to her brother because he will take care of her. She tells Graham to "see" and tells Merrill to "swing away"]].
* ''Film/TheTenCommandments'': "Moses, Moses" and "So let it be written, so let it be done".
* ''Film/TheGrey'': "Live and die on this day...Live and die on this day."
* ''SafeHouse'': "We'll take it from here."
* ''Film/VanillaSky'': "Open your eyes."
* ''Film/TheAvengers'':
** "It's an old-fashioned notion."
** "Sentiment.
* ''Film/ShakespeareInLove'': "I don't know. It's a mystery."
* Star Trek [[Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan II]], [[Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock III]], and [[Film/StarTrekIVTheVoyageHome IV]] have "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. . .or the one".
* ''Seeking Justice'' had "The hungry rabbit jumps", a phrase linked to the secret vigilante organization Will Gerard found himself involved with. In fact, the working title for the movie actually was ''The Hungry Rabbit Jumps''.
* ''CitySlickers 2'' - "Come and get me".
* ''Film/TheDarkKnightSaga''
** "Why do we fall?"
** "Rise," only in ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises''
* ''Film/{{Skyfall}}'':
** "Skyfall" is mentioned early on in the movie and is the only part in the word association that James Bond didn't have a witty answer to. It turns out to be [[spoiler: Bond's family home, where his parents had died in a freak accident.]]
** "Think on your sins."
** "Sometimes, the old ways are the best."
* ''Film/GalaxyQuest'': "Never give up! Never surrender!"
* "Fortune and Glory" from ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheTempleOfDoom''.
* ''Film/TheChroniclesOfRiddick'': "In our faith, we keep what we kill."
* ''Film/RedRidingHood'': "During the Blood Moon, a man bitten is a man cursed."
* ''Film/TheConversation'': "He'd kill us if he had the chance."
* DavidLynch, in keeping with his affinity for mystery and ambiguity, sometimes uses these.
** ''Film/LostHighway'': "Dick Laurant is dead".
** ''Film/MulhollandDrive'': "This is the girl".
** ''Film/InlandEmpire'' has a few; most obvious is "look at me and tell me if you've known me before", but there's also "[=AXXoN N.=]", "just down the way" and "the horse to the well" (which is hard to spot since it's mostly muffled or spoken in Polish).
* ''Film/{{Highlander}}'': "There can be only one."
* ''Film/AllThePresidentsMen'': "Follow the money."
* ''Film/ForrestGump'': "Run, Forrest, run!"
* ''Film/MarathonMan'': "Is it safe?
* ''Film/{{Congo}}'': "We are watching you."
* ''Film/TheTwilightZoneTheMovie'': "Wanna see something REALLY scary?"
* ''Film/{{Enchanted}}'': "I've been dreaming of a true love's kiss..."
* ''Film/ShaunOfTheDead'': "You've got red on you".
* ''Film/DeadPoetsSociety'': "Carpe diem"/"Seize the day".
* ''Film/TheBourneSeries'': "Look at us. Look at what they make you give."
* ''Film/EternalSunshineOfTheSpotlessMind'': "Meet me in Montauk".
* ''Film/TheHungerGamesCatchingFire'': "Remember who the real/true enemy is".
* ''Film/HellraiserInferno'': During his pursuit of the serial killer, Detective Joseph Thorne keeps hearing the phrase "Hunt the Engineer, and the Engineer hunts you." [[spoiler:This is because they're the same person.]]
* ''Film/LettersToJuliet'': "If it's true love, then it is never too late".
* ''Film/IntoTheStorm'': "Out spoke Brave Horatius, Captain of the gate, to every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late. And how can a man die better, than by facing the fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods?" a phrase repeated by UsefulNotes/WinstonChurchill twice in the movie.
* ''Film/{{Transcendence}}'': "Humans fear what they don't understand."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/TheCountOfMonteCristo'': "Wait and Hope."
* ''Literature/TheImpairment'': Has "Bottoms Up", initially used by psychiatrist Allie Parker to Kyle Griffin which she suggests he tell himself before having himself a drink to relax his nerves and release the stress he feels from being framed for the murder of his roommate. [[spoiler: Needless to say a sharp reader will quickly catch on Kyle is in [[MoreThanMindControl a slightly altered state of mind]] upon saying the words after Allie's suggestion]].
* The main Arc Words in the ''Broken Sky'' series? The title. [[spoiler:Mentioned only once in dialogue, the Broken Sky myth tells the story of how the now-separate worlds of Kirin Taq and the Dominions were once unified, until an unknown event caused the sky to break, sundering the world into two halves.]]
* The ''Literature/{{Gone}}'' series has "Hungry in the dark."
** For Astrid in ''Plague'': A simple act of murder...
* Literature/TheOutsiders has "Stay Gold" and also "Things are rough all over" to some extent
* ''Literature/{{Glamorama}}'': "Let's slide down the surface of things"
* ''Literature/LittleHouseOnThePrairie''
-->"Everything is evened up in the end. The rich have their ice in the summer but the poor get theirs in the winter."
* In Creator/ChuckPalahniuk's works, he has his characters use arc words he refers to as "choruses." Most notably, [[spoiler: "Birds ate my face"]] in ''Literature/InvisibleMonsters.''
** ''Literature/FightClub'': "I know this because Tyler knows this."
** ''Literature/{{Haunted 2005}}'': "Onstage, instead of a spotlight - a movie fragment..."
** Chuck also seems to have a fondness for cornflower blue, as references to the color appear at least once in each of his novels.
* The words "copper" "silver" and "gold" in that order are in many of the dialogues of ''[[GodelEscherBach Godel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid]]'' until the big reveal that [[spoiler:they stand for an imaginary book with a parallel structure to the one you are reading, serving to illustrate the theme of indirect self-reference.]]
* "Who is John Galt?" from ''Literature/AtlasShrugged''. [[spoiler: He's the unnamed figure in ''every'' story that anyone tells to Dagny before she meets him.]] [[MemeticMutation He also won't shut up.]]
** Referenced in ''VideoGame/{{Bioshock|1}}'' with "Who is Atlas?"
* Creator/PhilipKDick's ''Literature/{{Ubik}}'', especially. Ubik varies from chapter to chapter, finally culminating in Ubik declaring itself as God.
** Also, "The Empire never ended", from several of his later works.
** One of the most elaborate and subtle examples in the works of Philip Dick is the ''Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said''. The concept of love (meaning profound attraction and dire, unconditional need for SOMEONE or even ANYONE beside) is never explicitly stated or talked about in the book. Nevertheless, the seemingly unimportant and appendix-like part where the writer tells of the character's life after the events, ends with the sentence "And loved.". Although it relates to the clay vase irrelevant to the plot, the word "loved" connects with the rest of the novel in ways unimaginable. Dick manages to sum up all the (painfully building) moral and emotional tensions throughout the WHOLE NOVEL in this sentence. Just read it.
** ''Literature/AScannerDarkly'': "If I'd known it was harmless I'd have killed it myself."
* "In the Country of the Blind, the One-eyed Man is King," from Creator/HGWells's short story ''The Country of the Blind''. These ArcWords are a paraphrase of Erasmus; Wells's story gives them an ironic connotation as the protagonist repeatedly fails to prove the superiority of his sightedness in a LostWorld inhabited entirely by blind people.
* ''TheBlackCompany'' series had a number of these, especially near the end. They even became the names of two of the novels, ''Water Sleeps''[[note]] Shortened from "Water sleeps, but Enemy never rests." [[/note]] (which in context means "Revenge is coming") and ''Soldiers Live'' ("and wonder why", referring to survivor's guilt).
* TadWilliams' ''Literature/{{Otherland}}'' features a significant and enigmatic character who keeps repeating, "An angel touched me."
* The purpose behind Thomas Pynchon's ''Literature/TheCryingOfLot49''. The words are "Trystero", "[=WASTE=]" (apparently [[FunWithAcronyms an acronym for]] [[spoiler:"We Await Silent Trystero's Empire"]]), "DEATH" ("Don't Ever Antagonize The Horn"), and a picture of a muted postal horn (trumpet). The best part, though, is that [[spoiler:we never find out if it means anything]].
* ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour'':
** "Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clements...Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head!"
*** The phrase is referenced in Neil Gaiman's ''Literature/TheGraveyardBook''. Knowing the reference makes it even more chilling.
*** This phrase is also referenced in ''Silent Hill: Origins''. Except that it is changed to read "Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes the butcher to chop off your head!"
** The three Party slogans:
*** "{{Big Brother is watching}} you" (verifying the accuracy of this statement is arguably the point of the narrative).
*** "War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength" (which is ultimately explained by Goldstein's book).
*** "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past" (which is explained in detail by O'Brien in the novel's third act).
** "We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness."
*** Which turns out to be [[spoiler: the Ministry of Love]]
** "Under the spreading chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me..."
** "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER".
** "Two plus two equals five".
** "If there is hope, it must lie in the Proles".
* Also from ''Literature/TheGraveyardBook'', "Sleep, my little babby-oh..." [[spoiler: Mrs. Owens only remembers the last part of the song as [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming she's saying goodbye to Bod forever at the end of the story when Bod leaves the graveyard.]].]]
* "Delial" and "House" from ''Literature/HouseOfLeaves''.
** ''Literature/OnlyRevolutions'' by the same author has several of these (none of which are ever really explained), with "always sixteen" and "everyone loves the dream but I kill it" (and variants) probably cropping up most frequently.
** These are made even more obvious by being typeset differently: "House" (in better copies) appears in blue text and a slight offset and "Minotaur" in red (and is frequently, if not always, struck out).
* ''ASongOfIceAndFire'' and ''Series/GameOfThrones'' is crawling with these.
** All the noble houses have words that they live by. "[[{{Pirate}} We Do Not Sow]]" (Greyjoy), "[[OurDragonsAreDifferent Fire And Blood]]" (Targaryen), and "[[{{Determinator}} Ours Is The Fury]]" (Baratheon) are just a few.
** The words of House Stark "[[AStormIsComing Winter is Coming]]", which is often repeated and seems to foretell the return of the Others, as well as the general chaos that unfolds throughout the series.
** The phase "[[DoubleMeaning A Lannister always pays his debts]]" is better known than the Lannisters' official words "[[{{Pride}} Hear Me Roar]]".
** ''Valar morghulis'' ("all men must die") and ''valar dohaeris'' ("all men must serve"), the code-phrases-cum-mottos of the [[MurderInc Faceless Men]].
** From ''A Game of Thrones'' there's "wake the dragon" which is first said as a threat by Viserys but then comes to have a whole new meaning by the end of the book. Later his sister Daenerys' arc words are "If I look back I am lost" and "I am only a young girl who knows little about war...".
** Ygritte's oft-repeated assertion, "You know nothing, Jon Snow," is relayed to Jon many times as he [[spoiler:travels with the wildlings and many of his preconceived notions are shattered. It becomes his mantra of self-doubt for several books to come. They are also Ygritte's FamousLastWords.]] "Kill the boy. Let the man be born." is also mentioned several times.
** Northerners tend to say "There must always be a Stark in Winterfell" or some variation thereof [[spoiler: and they will do anything to keep it that way.]]
** The song of Tyrion's wife Tysha which still haunts him. "I loved a maid as fair as summer, with sunlight in her hair" reflects his heartbreak and disappointment that no one will love him for who he is. In book 5, Tyrion often thinks about "wherever whores go", referring to [[spoiler: the fact he thought Tysha was a paid whore.]] Tywin first uttered those words in book 3 when Tyrion asked where his wife went, thus hitting Tyrion's BerserkButton.
** Daenerys is told in the House of the Undying that "The Dragon has three heads". She also hears about "The Song of Ice and Fire"
** "A thousand eyes, and one" for Bloodraven, who is a [[TheSpymaster spymaster]] and lost an eye in battle. [[spoiler: The thousand eyes are actually the eyes of ravens that he skinchanges into, though no one knows that except Bran and his companions.]]
** Bran Stark is told to "Fly" by a three eyed crow.
** There are two religious mantras repeated by the followers of that religion. For the Ironborn, who worship the Drowned God, its "What is dead may never die, but rises again harder and stronger." For followers of the Lord of Light its "The night is dark and full of terrors."
** [[spoiler:After months of horrific torture at the hands Ramsey Snow]], Theon's often thinks to himself "Reek, Reek, it rhymes with X" and "You have to know your name."
** The ''Literature/TalesOfDunkAndEgg'', the words "Dunk the lunk, thick as a castle wall" appear whenever Dunk makes a mistake, often said by [[HeroicSelfDeprecation Dunk himself]].
** His sister's last words "[[ThePromise Promise me, Ned]]" haunted Eddard [[spoiler:until he died]].
** "[[TheMagicGoesAway The Dragons are dead]]", but of course [[TheMagicComesBack they aren't]].
** Some words have less plot/symbolic relevance than other examples, but get repeated often because they are idioms people say in daily life.
*** "Dark wings, dark words", whenever someone sends bad news by raven.
*** "Words are wind", referring to how often people lie and break their vows.
*** "As useless as nipples on a breastplate", it speaks for itself.
* The initials V.F.D. and later J.S., in ''ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents,'' as well as various names and phrases that begin with them.
** Also, "The world is quiet here" and "I didn't realize this was a sad occasion" count as well.
* Madame Zeroni's lullaby in ''{{Holes}}''.
* In ''Literature/{{Fingerprints}}'', the name "Erika Keaton", which the heroes are puzzled by until TheReveal in book 6.
* In ''{{Fahrenheit 451}}'', "[[Literature/TheBible Consider the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin...]]"
* ''Literature/SnowCrash'' has, well "Snow Crash," a phrase which gets dropped several times in several different contexts before finally getting elaborated on.
* In the novel ''Some Other Place. The Right Place'' by Donald Harington, the phrase "some other place" appears repeatedly throughout, followed by "the right place", usually on the opposite page.
* In several of KurtVonnegut's works, "So it goes." and "Tralfamadorians".
** There's virtually one per book. They include the Trout's sermon ("You were sick, but now you're well again, and there's work to do") in ''Timequake'', "And so on" in ''Literature/BreakfastOfChampions'' (as well as the title itself and recounting penis lengths of every male character), "chronosynchastic infindibulum" in ''Literature/TheSirensOfTitan'', and the various Bokoninist lines in ''Literature/CatsCradle'' (eg. "Busy, busy, busy"). "So it goes" is from ''Literature/SlaughterhouseFive''.
** "Blue and ivory feet", also from ''Literature/SlaughterhouseFive''.
*** Also, "mustard gas and roses", and "unstuck in time".
* In Creator/LarryNiven and Jerry Pournelle's novel ''[[Literature/TheDeedOfPaksenarrion Oath of Fealty]]'', "Think of it as evolution in action" is explicitly developed as this.
* In the 32nd instalment of PiersAnthony's ''Literature/{{Xanth}}'' series, ''Two to the Fifth,'' the title is brought up numerous times throughout the book, and its meaning is not revealed until the last fifth or so of the book.
** In the fourth book, ''Centaur Aisle'', the title is a repeated spoken hint to the main character -- leaving him to wonder what "centre isle" is supposed to mean. The words make no sense until Arnolde Centaur's magic talent is revealed.
** ''Heaven Cent'' -- "Skeleton Key to Heaven Cent."
* In Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/TheShining'', Danny kept seeing the word "REDRUM" before he realized it was "MURDER" spelled backwards.
** Also from Stephen King: ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'' series has ''multitudes'', including constant mention of towers, roses, keys, and ka. These words and images start popping up in many of his other books, too.
** The number 19 is very important too.
** ''{{It}}'': "He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts." This is a tip of the hat by Stephen King to Curt Siodmak's story "Donovan's Brain."
*** Also "The Turtle can't help you."
** ''Literature/{{Misery}}'': "Rinse."
** In ''TheLangoliers'': "SHOOTING STARS ONLY."
** In ''Literature/TheDarkHalf'': "The sparrows are flying again."
** ''Literature/ElevenTwentyTwoSixtyThree'' has "life turns on a dime," "Jimla," and the children's jump-rope rhyme ''"Charlie Chaplin went to France, just to watch the ladies dance! Salute to the Cap'n! Salute to the Queen! My old man drives a submarine!"'' The prevalence of Arc Words is explained by its own set of Arc Words, "the past harmonizes."
** In ''BagOfBones'': "Are these the voices of our dead friends, or is it just the radio?"
* In ''Literature/CatchTwentyTwo,'' the title phrase is used to explain almost anything that uses circular logic, or just doesn't make sense.
** Also, any time Snowden is mentioned, with more and more context being revealed about him each time..
* In Creator/GarthNix's ''Literature/OldKingdom'' series, the saying "Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?" is frequently repeated. The words come from The Book of the Dead, a very dark volume about necromancy that happens to be required reading for every Abhorsen, so it makes sense that a necromancer, an extremely powerful Charter Mage, or some other person of importance would know them.
* In the ''{{Dune}}'' series, there are stylized speeches and oft-repeated phrases, such as the [[SurvivalMantra Litany Against Fear]]. However, the phrase "The Golden Path" is an example of ArcWords, signifying Leto's long-term plan. Also Paul's constant use of the term "Terrible purpose".
** "The sleeper must awaken".
* "''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' turns and Ages come and pass. In one Age, called the Third Age by some..."
** Also "The Wheel weaves as The Wheel wills."
** The various prophecies told to [[spoiler: Mat by the Snakes]] may also qualify. [[spoiler: "To marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons." in particular.]]
** The first book has "[[GodOfEvil The Dark One]] is going to blind [[MacGuffin the Eye of the World]]."
* Several from Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', such as:
** ''Discworld/{{Mort}}'': "[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: There is no justice. There is just me. ]]
"
** ''Discworld/TheTruth'': "The Truth Will Make You Free!" (often with "free" misspelled, as in "the truth shall make you fret") and "A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on." This becomes a CrowningMomentOfAwesome in the end for our hero William de Worde, as he says to the BigBad:
--> "The truth ''has'' got its boots on. It's about to start kicking." [[labelnote:SPOILER]]Worthy of notice is that the BigBad is William's father, and the aforementioned saying was a favourite of his. William never got along very well with his father, and hearing the saying spoken by one of his accomplices clues him into the fact that lord de Worde was involved.[[/labelnote]]
** ''Discworld/TheFifthElephant'': "It is the thing, and the whole of the thing."
** ''Discworld/{{Thud}}'': "Mr. Shine, Him diamond!" "The battle of Koom Valley" is a RunningGag through the whole series, until it's explained in ''Thud.''
** ''Discworld/SmallGods'': "The turtle moves!" and "Here and now, we're alive."
** ''Discworld/InterestingTimes'': Cohen the barbarian keeps telling Rincewind and others they meet that "We're gonna steal something" [[spoiler: They're actually planning on stealing the entire kingdom by murdering the Emperor]]
** ''Discworld/IShallWearMidnight'': "The hare runs into the fire." "Poison goes where poison's welcome."
** ''Discworld/NightWatch'': "''All the little angels.../How do they rise up...''"
** An example of ArcWords for the entire series is the phrase "all things strive." Some examples:
*** ''Discworld/{{Hogfather}}'': Hex to Death.
*** ''Discworld/{{Thud}}'': [[spoiler: One of the Things Tak Wrote, according to the kings' message.]]
*** ''Discworld/UnseenAcademicals'': Lord Vetinari, while relating his belief on the [[GodIsEvil nature of evil]].
* Literature/ThePendragonAdventure: "This is the way it was meant to be."
** Bobby also starts ending his later journals with "And so we go."
* ''[[Literature/TheGoldenOecumene The Golden Age]]'' by JohnCWright: "Deeds of renown without peer."
* ''Bartleby the Scrivener'' by Herman Melville: "[[CatchPhrase I'd]] [[MostAnnoyingSound prefer]] [[VerbalTic not to.]]"
* ''Literature/CreaturesOfLightAndDarkness'' by Creator/RogerZelazny: "Skagganauk Abyss" and variations occur several times throughout the book before its nature and ultimate purpose is revealed.
* Stephen Marley's ''Literature/SpiritMirror'' has Chia, Black Dragon Sorceress, the amnesiac ActionGirl heroine, asking herself: "What happened in Egypt?" [[spoiler:We never really find out what happened in Egypt until the next book, though.]] Similarly, the sequel, ''Mortal Mask'', has Chia pondering her long-lost Egyptian lover's enigmatic plea of "Forgive me".
* ''TheMidnightMayor'' by Kate Griffin has "Give me back my hat."
* In the ''{{Halo}}'' ExpandedUniverse, the phrase ''Oly Oly Oxen Free'' is a secret code used by [=SPARTANs=] as an "all-clear" message.
* ''Literature/ChroniclesOfMagravandias'': "It will happen regardless of what you think or do."
* ''Literature/TheBellJar'': "I am, I am, I am."
* ''EverythingIsIlluminated'' by Jonathan Safran Foer: "I will... I will..."
* ''Literature/NeverLetMeGo'' has a song ([[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin called ''Never Let Me Go'']]). The refrain "Never let me go, never let me go, oh baby, baby, never let me go" is repeated many times over the course of the story, subtly changing meaning as time progresses.
* ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'': "Find the most important words a man can say." At the end of the first novel, its insinuated to be [[spoiler:the Second Ideal of the Knights Radiant, "I will protect those who cannot protect themselves."]]
* ''Literature/AClockworkOrange'' is divided to three parts, which all begin to the sentence "What's it gonna be then, eh?" It also appears several other times.
* In Literature/TheDresdenFiles story ''Aftermath'', Murphy's SurvivalMantra crosses over with this trope: [[spoiler: "I can't believe he's dead."]] And through out the series "Hell's Bells" "Stars and Stones" and "Empty Night" have been used as curses and have been confirmed used as such due to what they imply [[spoiler: which will be explained in the Three apocalyptic novels which will close out the series using all three of those curses as their titles.]]
* TheSubjectSteve has a few; Fine fettle, Mothered by fire, Fuckeroo'd...
* In ''Literature/{{Blackout}}'', particularly Polly's sections: "[[ShoutoutToShakespeare How all occasions do inform against me]]" (from {{Hamlet}}).
* In ''TheFullMatilda'', the various Housewright Maxims are this. Usually this is used to show how the family serves others instead of themselves.
* ''Literature/BridgeOfBirds'' has "Jade plate, Six, eight. Fire that burns hot, Night that is not. Fire that burns cold, First silver, then gold."

* ''[[Literature/WarriorCats Warriors]]'': "Water can quench fire". Some of the prophecies count as well.
** ''[[WarriorCatsTheOriginalSeries Original Series]]'': "Fire alone can save our Clan" and later "Four will become two, Lion and Tiger will meet in battle and Blood will rule the Forest". It wasn't a prophecy, but "''Pack, Pack, Kill, Kill''" in ''A Dangerous Path''.
** ''[[WarriorCatsTheNewProphecy The New Prophecy]]'': "Darkness, Air, Water and Sky will come together and shake the Forest to its very roots. Nothing will be as it was or as it has been." and later "Before there is peace, blood will spill blood, and the lake will run red."
** ''[[WarriorCatsPowerOfThree Power of Three]]'': "There will be three, kin of your kin, who hold the power of the stars in their paws." (First appeared chronologically in ''Firestar's Quest'' and continues through to ''OmenOfTheStars'')
** ''Omen of the Stars'': "After the sharp-eyed Jay and the roaring Lion, peace will come on Dove's soft wing" and then "The end of the stars draws near. Three must become four, to battle the darkness that lasts forever."
* ''[[Literature/{{Dragons}} The Last Dragon Chronicles]]'' has "Sometimes", generally used as an enigmatic answer when questions are asked. [[SelfDemonstratingArticle Sometimes.]]
* Creator/RobertAHeinlein had a few:
** ''Literature/StrangerInAStrangeLand'': "Thou art God."
** ''Literature/TheMoonIsAHarshMistress'': "[=TANSTAAFL=]!" (An acronym for "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.")
* WickedLovely: "There are always choices".
* ''AnElegyForTheStillLiving'': "Our Situation" and the variants thereof.
* In its original Hebrew, Literature/TheBible makes use of this trope, making it OlderThanDirt. Due to the nature of the Hebrew language, which can use the same root word with different suffixes and prefixes to mean any number of different things, this effect is used very flexibly and is often not picked up in translation.
* Probably the only memorable thing about Ira Levin's execrable sequel to his excellent ''RosemarysBaby'', ''SonOfRosemary''. Throughout the book, various characters josh around about how long it takes to solve the riddle "ROAST MULES" with the clue "Any five- or six-year-old might do this every day." [[spoiler: The answer is ''somersaults''. Rosemary seemingly awakens from sleep thinking it was AllJustADream -- that's the ''entire story, first book and sequel''. This is where most people toss the book down in disgust. In the final paragraphs, though, it turns into OrWasItADream? Rosemary's friend Hutch telephones, and at the very end of the conversation he casually tosses off how long it took him to solve "roast mules". This tells Rosemary that everything that happened in her "dream" was ''real'', that her now-nonexistent son has pulled off the ultimate sacrifice to save the world, and that she'd better be damned (yeah) careful about where she and her husband move.]]
* ''Literature/DarkFuture'': Has meta-arc words, ''"Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock."'' Jessamyn Bonney is [[spoiler: possessed by the Ancient Adversary, a spirit being dedicated to opposing the coming of the Dark Ones and the EndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt this will cause, that BigBad Elder Seth is actively seeking.]] When the two establish a PsychicLink by accident, Jessamyn manifests in Seth's mind as these words. The form the Ancient Adversary most commonly takes in the spirit world? A giant crocodile. Also represents the ticking away of time until the end of the world.
** ''Comeback Tour'' is subtitled ''The Sky Belongs To The Stars''. During the Prologue we meet NASA Officer Lawrence Fonvielle who expresses his belief about The Dream of the Space Programme being to ''"reach up into the sky, make a fist and hold on tight;"'' taking ownership of some part of space. As the novel progresses, it's revealed that Elder Seth plans [[spoiler: to reactivate a [[KillSat dormant satellite weapons system]] and use it to eliminate everyone who could stop his plans for the Apocalypse.]] Fonvielle comes to see [[spoiler:[[HeelRealization that his belief in The Dream was wrong and that space can't belong to anyone]] and says exactly this to [[TheDragon Roger Duroc.]] [[RewardedAsATraitorDeserves Who promptly shoots him.]]]]
--> ''"Krokodil, what's this about?"''
--> ''"Using black magic and blacker science...they're trying to take over the sky."''
--> ''"The sky? That can't be...like the man said...the sky belongs to the stars!"''
--->-- '''Elvis and Krokodil''' ''Comeback Tour''
* ''Literature/TheGoBetween'': ''Delenda est belladona'' – the deadly nightshade (or beautiful woman) must be destroyed.
* The ''{{Illuminatus}}! Trilogy'' and ''Masks of the Illuminati'' have an odd tendency to latch on to random, irrelevant words, phrases, names, and images that appear early on and turn them into ArcWords, and in fact, accumulate ArcWords over time. In the end, some of them are {{Justified| Trope}} as being connected, in some round about way, to Illuminati, Discordian, Rosicrucian, or Kabbalistic symbolism, although most turn out to really just be random and irrelevant. Given how [[{{Mindscrew}} mindscrewy]] and [[{{Postmodernism}} postmodern]] the novel is, this is only to be expected.
* ''Literature/RewindTerryEngland'' introduces its main character with "I am Aaron Lee Fairfax. I am forty-three years old. I am married to Janessa, but she wants a divorce. I work for Thagg, Morgan, and Edwards Brokerage Group in Kansas City, Missouri. I own a Maserati." Throughout the novel, this is repeated several times, updating to reflect his current status.
* ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'' has "It's a shining coin", though it's mostly limited to the Whistler family.
* In ''Secrets Of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel'', Marethyu is always claiming to be Death. Gains a meaning (sort of) when [[spoiler: Josh becomes Marethyu and destroys Danu Talis he shouts the last words written in the Codex: " Now I am become Death, the Destroyer Of Worlds"]]
** The two who are one. The one that is all. One to save the world, one to destroy it.
* In ''Literature/TheUnderlandChronicles'', certain phrases from the various Prophecies get repeated over and over again in the story before it's revealed what they mean:
** "Two Over, two Under, of royal descent, two Crawlers, two Fliers, two Spinners ascent, one Gnawer beside, one lost up ahead, and 8 will be left when we count up the dead" from the Prophecy Of Grey in ''Gregor the Overlander''.
** "Die the Baby, die its heart, die its most important part" from the Prophecy Of Bane in ''Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane''.
** "Turn and turn and turn again, you see the what but not the when", "Remedy and wrong intwine and so they form a single vine" and "If the flames of war are fanned, all Warmbloods lose the Underland" from the Prophecy Of Blood in '' Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods''.
** "[[spoiler: Father, mother, sister, brother, off they go, I don't know if I'll see another]]" from the [[spoiler: Prophecy Of Secrets]] in ''Gregor and the Marks of Secret''.
** "What she saw, it is the flaw, in the Code Of Claw" and "When the Monster's blood is spilled, when [[spoiler: the Warrior has been killed]]" from the Prophecy Of Time in ''Gregor and the Code of Claw''.
* In Gabriel King's ''The Wild Road'', along with the alchemical theme, there is "as above, so below".
* ''JohnDiesAtTheEnd'': "I serve none but Korrok."
** "They haunt minds."
** "Bred for war."
* ''[[Literature/TimeMachineSeries Search for the Nile]]'': The book opens with the protagonist reading the words "Buala Matari" on Henry Morton Stanley's grave; for most of the book, he's trying to find out what these words mean, thinking it may be something relevant to his quest. Turns out, it isn't.[[note]](It's a nickname meaning either "Rock Destroyer", from Stanley using dynamite, or "mountain walker", for his discovery of Rwenzori Mountains.)[[/note]]
* ''Series/NeverWipeTearsWithoutGloves'': "''And God shall wipe away all the tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.''" (Book of Revelation, Chapter 21).
* ''Literature/TheBible''
** ''Literature/BookOfJudges'': "In those days Israel had no King. Everyone did as he pleased".
** ''Literature/BooksOfKings'': "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof."
* ''Literature/HarryPotter'': "You have your mother's eyes."
** "The Order of the Phoenix" is mentioned several times before it's finally explained what it is. Also, "Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs" might count as single-book ArcWords, since they're also mentioned many times before it's revealed what they refer to.
** Also "Neither can live while the other survives."
** "I open at the close."
* The ''Literature/HorusHeresy'' books have "I can't say", particularly in the first three books. If those words get dropped, something secret, devious, and probably evil is almost certainly happening.
* The ''Literature/DeltoraQuest'' series has certain passages from ''The Belt Of Deltora'' that keep coming up and eventually prove important to the plot, most notably "each Gem has its own power, but together the seven make a [[StealthPun spell]] far more powerful than the sum of its parts. Only the Belt of Deltora, complete as it was first fashioned by Adin and worn by Adin's true heir has the power to defeat the Enemy", "the Enemy is clever and sly, and to its anger and envy a thousand years is like the blink of an eye" and "So he wore the Belt always, and never let it out of his sight" (the latter two also being repeated in the narrative). The Shadow Lord's "[[TheChessmaster I never have just one plan]]. [[ThePlan I have many plans]]. [[GambitRoulette I have plans within plans]]" also comes up a lot.
** ''Deltora Shadowlands'' has the song "Above our land the tumult rages/Struggle echoes through the ages/There the strife may never cease/But here below we dwell in peace/Where timeless tides swamp memory/Our sunless prison makes us free/the Gem-Glow lights our rocky walls/And dragons guard our shining halls", [[spoiler:a Plume folk song stuck in Doran's head even after they wiped his memory]].
** ''Dragons of Deltora'' has the poem "Sisters Four with poisoned breath/Bring to the Land a long, slow death/But death comes swiftly if you dare/To find each Sister's hidden lair/Their songs like secret rivers flow/To hold the peril deep below/And if at last their voices cease/The Land will find [[ExactWords a final]] [[FridgeHorror peace]]".
** Finally, the ''Tales of Deltora'' book has "And so the Land waited, biding its time".
* ''CallahansCrosstimeSaloon'': "Shared pain is lessened, shared joy increased."
* The ''Literature/EighthDoctorAdventures'' has the word 'interference', which crops up a great deal during the War in Heaven arc, and then moderately afterwords. At different points it refers to different things, such as signal interference from radio/cell phone broadcasts to [[spoiler:interference from the Doctor's TARDIS causing Compassion to become one]]. Interestingly enough, another one of the important concepts the word embodies is the idea of interference in events; specifically, how it's the Doctor's MO, outright defying Gallifrey's AlienNonInterferenceClause. Author of the oh-so-subtly-titled novel ''[[Recap/EighthDoctorAdventuresInterferenceBookOne Interference]]'' Lawrence Miles picked up on the fact that the word is tossed around quite a bit in ''Series/DoctorWho'' as a whole.
* ''Literature/{{Hours}}'': "Shimmerings"
* ''Tangled Web'', by Crista McHugh: "You'll never find a knot you can't unravel." The protagonist hears this in her childhood from a soothsayer she gave water to, and the sentence is applied to many situations over the course of the story.
* ''The Kingkiller Chronicles'' "Seven words."
* ''Literature/BelisariusSeries'': "In the end, only the soul matters". One of the main things leading to the downfall of the BigBad is [[EvilCannotComprehendGood its inability to understand the human soul]].
* ''Grasshopper Jungle'' by Andrew Smith: "And that was our day. You know what I mean," ([[spoiler:which eventually end up being the final words of the book]]) and variants. While there are quite a few recurring phrases throughout the novel, this one holds the most significance, especially in the epilogue, where the theme of [[spoiler:the bison]] comes full circle.
* In "Crux", the second book of Literature/TheNexusSeries, "Are you wiser than all of Humanity?" comes back to Kade again and again. [[spoiler:This question was put to him by Ananda in the first book, and summarizes Kade's uncertainty as to whether he has a right to use the backdoor he installed in Nexus 5 at all. It comes full circle when he puts the question to WellIntentionedExtremist Shiva, who also wants the back door and is arguably smarter than Kade while just as well meaning. If Shiva doesn't have a right, neither does Kade, so Kade resolves to close the backdoor for good and all.]]
* ''[[Literature/TheMazeRunner The Maze Runner Trilogy]]'' has ''WICKED is good.''
* ''Voices'', the second ''Literature/AnnalsOfTheWesternShore'' book, has Memer and the other people of Ansul invoke the god Lero frequently. She describes the day she met Orrec and Gry as a day of Lero, and the Waylord refers to Lero to try and temper RebelLeader Desac's eagerness to fight. [[spoiler:We're not told until chapter 10 that Lero is the god of balance. In the end, it's with a balanced approach, not outright rebellion or outright conquest, that Ansul and the Alds deal with each other.]]
* Various forms of "you weren't there" are used throughout ''Literature/WorldWarZ''; sometimes to explain hysterical actions, sometimes to point out just how mundane simple descriptions of insane events actually are.
* In the sixth book of TheMortalInstruments, Clary dreams of a rune several times and describes it as "a shape like two wings joined by a single bar".
* The ''Literature/AgeOfFire'' series makes good use of this. [=AuRon=], Wistala, and the Copper have "adapt", "improvise", and "overcome" in each of their respective books. ''Dragon Strike'', the first book to focus on all three siblings, then uses these words as the titles of the three sections of the book.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The Creator/JimHenson teleplay Film/TheCube - "Strawberry jam".
* The new ''Series/DoctorWho'' has had one each series/season.
** "Bad Wolf" from Series One.
*** "Bad Wolf" is also something of a subversion in that the words kept appearing (although less often) after the "arc" was concluded, because the words were across all of time and space, so they wouldn't be expected to only appear where they were actually needed. And then it is DoubleSubverted when [[spoiler:the crack between universes becomes less severe, heralding Rose's return to the show for a few episodes.]]
*** The phrase also appears in the DVD release of "The Invasion" (with animation replacing the {{Missing Episode}}s). From the Doctor's perspective, that's long ''before'' the arc...
*** Since ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' is set in the same universe as ''Series/DoctorWho'', it's not surprising that "Bad Wolf" has appeared there as well (on the wall behind Jack and Toshiko when they go back in time).
** "Torchwood" from Series Two.
** "Mister Saxon" and "Vote Saxon" from Series Three.
** Also the significance of [[ThereIsAnother "You. Are. Not. Alone."]] that clues the Doctor into realising the true identity of Professor [[FunWithAcronyms Yana]].
** Series Four has apparently expanded the concept and instead of ArcWords it has a series of foreshadowing words dating all the way back to the first episode of Series One: [[spoiler:The Shadow Proclamation]], [[spoiler:the Medusa Cascade]], [[spoiler:Rose Tyler]] continually appearing in the background, the disappearance of [[spoiler: planets and bees]], Donna being told she has something on her back, and [[spoiler: Donna being the focal point of several timelines]]. Naturally, they all come to a head in the finale.
*** Right before the finale, how bad things truly are is established when the Doctor learns that [[spoiler:Rose Tyler has broken through the dimensional barriers]]. To herald [[spoiler:her]] presence, the words [[spoiler:"Bad Wolf"]] appear ''everywhere'', including on the TARDIS itself.
*** The Ood in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E3PlanetOfTheOod "Planet of the Ood"]] seemingly refer to the Doctor and Donna as the collective [[spoiler:Doctor Donna -- of course, they hear, "Doctor, Donna."]]
*** And the episode itself had "The Circle must be broken".
** The 2009 specials had their own arc words in "He will knock four times."
** The Arc words for Series 5 are "The Pandorica will open." and "Silence will fall." The latter is carrying over into series 6. These two arcwords were often seen together and therefore assumed to refer to the same thing, much like [[spoiler:Doctor Donna]] was assumed to refer to separate things.
** Series 5 also had the hilarious arc words of "Hello Sweetie," [[SomethingOnlyTheyWouldSay River's graffiti on various historical artifacts to get the Doctor's attention.]]
--->'''The Doctor:''' You defaced the oldest cliff face in the universe!\\
'''River:''' ''You'' weren't answering your ''phone!''
** The episode "The Doctor's Wife" gives us a new set of arc words: "The only water in the forest is the river." This one gets explained only three episodes later: "The only water in the forest is the river. [[spoiler:They don't have a word for 'Pond'.]]"
** Don't forget Series 5's references to "A good man". It's first mentioned in conjunction with the [[spoiler: "murder"]] for which River was jailed and eventually comes to a head in the episode "A Good Man Goes to War", with one of The Doctor's more epic comebacks [[spoiler:"Good men don't need rules. Today is not the day to find out why I have so many."]] References to what kind of "man" the Doctor is, and whether he is a "good" man, go back to the Tenth Doctor's first episode. This stands out especially because the Doctor [[HumanAliens really isn't a man at all]].
** Series 5 has yet another example in the case of recurring [[AppliedPhlebotinum phlebotinum]]: a PerceptionFilter is used, and mentioned by name, in every story in that series.
** And with "Let's Kill Hitler", we get more of the arc phrase: "Silence will fall when the question is asked. The first question. The oldest question in the universe. Hidden in plain sight."
** The second half of Series 6 has "[[IronicNurseryTune Tick-Tock goes the clock.]]"
** "Fish fingers and custard" is a minor example, acting as a TrustPassword between Amy and the Doctor.
** The Series 7 Arc Words are a question themselves: [[spoiler:"Doctor who?"]]
** The first half of Series 7 has "Christmas" as its arc word, leading up to the new companion's introduction in the 2012 Christmas special. Flickering lights and eggs are also arc pieces of the first half, calling back to [[spoiler:"Asylum of the Daleks", with the stuttering beginning of Ex-Term-In-Ate, the souffles, and the power flickering.]]
** The second half of Series 7 has the words "Run, you clever boy, and remember" (although they actually first appear in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS33E1AsylumOfTheDaleks "Asylum of the Daleks"]]). [[spoiler: They're Clara's last words in "Asylum of the Daleks" and "The Snowmen", the way she remembers her Wi-Fi password in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS33E6TheBellsOfSaintJohn "The Bells of Saint John"]], and then the last words she says before entering the Doctor's timestream in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS33E13TheNameOfTheDoctor "The Name of the Doctor"]].]]
** Series 7b also has Clara mentioning ghosts in each episode, starting with the Christmas special.
** The words "no more" pop up a few times before being introduced as [[spoiler: The War Doctor's CatchPhrase]], most notably in [[Recap/DoctorWho2007CSVoyageOfTheDamned "Voyage of the Damned"]], [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E13JourneysEnd "Journey's End"]], and [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E17E18TheEndOfTime "The End of Time"]].
* ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'':
** The latter part of the first season has multiple people saying that something's coming, from "the darkness." It refers to two things: [[spoiler: the moment Abbadon is freed from the Cardiff Rift, but this is a RedHerring- the ''true'' meaning of the arc words is revealed after Owen is shot dead and Jack decides to resurrect him with an alien gauntlet. Owen CameBackWrong with an entity from the netherworld possessing him, a being calling itself Duroc that looked like the GrimReaper. It killed everything it touched, and went barreling for Jack on sight, who had repeatedly cheated death since Rose used the time vortex to give him immortality.]]
** Starting toward the end of season 1, we have "the most horrible creatures you could possibly imagine". We still don't know what they are, but in the middle of season 2, we find out their significance.
* "Save The Cheerleader, Save The World" from Season One of ''Series/{{Heroes}}''.
** The second half of Season One: "Are you on the list?"
** It's later parodied in a commercial about some tax program: "Save the Taxpayers, Save the World!" It's [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]].
** Also "Be the one we need."
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** "Ascension" from seasons 1 to 3 -- referring to the Master rising to the surface, [[spoiler: Angelus]] summoning Acathla, and the Mayor completing his transformation.
** Season 4 finale and season 5 premiere: "You think you know. What's to come, what you are. You haven't even begun."
** Season 5: "Death is your gift."
** Season 7: "From beneath you, it devours", "Early one morning, I saw the sun was shining" and "She will not choose you".
** Twilight first appears in winged lion form in Buffy's nightmares, saying "The Queen is Dead, Long Live the Queen." It first seems to mean Genevieve Savidge's attempt to replace Buffy as lead Slayer, but is actually referring to Twilight replacing the current universe.
* On ''Series/{{Angel}}'', "The Father Will Kill the Son" was an important part of the Holtz/Sahjahn arc. Characters find out what they think it means, try to stop it from happening, leading to events that later [[FromACertainPointOfView (sort of)]] cause it to happen...
* "Fire, walk with me" from ''TwinPeaks'' (it was even the name of TheMovie that was made after its cancellation).
** Found under the fingernails of various murder victims were what we might call Arc Letters - R, B, R. [[spoiler: Which all appear in the name Robert, a diminutive of which is Bob, the name of the villain.]]
** Another example is the phrase "j'ai une âme solitaire", meaning "I have a lonely soul" in French.
** The Giant's first appearance in the second season premiere gave us a number of cryptic clues, the most long-reaching of which was "[[OminousOwl The owls are not what they seem.]]"
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'':
** Lostpedia has a [[http://www.lostpedia.com/wiki/Regularly_spoken_phrases whole list]] of commonly used phrases on the show, some of which may be arc words.
** Most important Arc Words for Lost, of course, are "You can let go now".
** "What lies in the shadow of the statue?" appears to be the straightest use of this trope in the series thus far.
** Some ''characters'' get their own ArcWords -- "fix" for Jack, "special" for Locke, "coward" for Desmond...
*** The word "special" actually comes up a lot with regard to various characters. Also "Don't tell me what I can't do!"
** "Live together, die alone" shows up fairly often too. It's even lampshaded by Rose towards the series' end, when she tells Jack that if she says "live together, die alone" to her she will have to punch him in the face.
** And then in season 5 we get a whole "dead is dead," "whatever happened happened," and "what's done is done." All variants on an arc theme.
** "I'll see you in another life, brother!" is a phrase constantly used by Desmond as a farewell, to the point that other characters start using it when addressing Desmond at later points. [[spoiler: This comes full circle when we discover in the sixth season that Desmond in the "Sideways World" is awakening the castaways and reminding them of their past lives, so they can move on to the afterlife. See them in another life indeed.]]
* The logos and name of the Blue Sun Corporation from ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' may have been intended as Arc Words, but the series got canceled before anything came of them. River's repeated [[MadnessMantra "two by two, hands of blue"]] is definitely an example, though.
* The third season of ''Series/TheMentalist'' had "tiger tiger" (sometimes also "tiget tiger, burning bright"), a fraction of a poem by William Blake which was recited by [[BigBad Red John]] when Jane encounters him at the end of season 2. The phrase is repited along the season multiple times by individuals who are connected to Red John.
** Then along came season six, which had [[spoiler: "tiger tiger" again, except we now learn it's the code for members of the Blake Asociassion, a corrupt group of high-profile law enforcement officers (FBI, CBI, and so on) ofwhich Red John is part of.]]
* ''[[Series/BattlestarGalacticaReimagined Battlestar Galactica]]'':
** "All Along The Watchtower" is a set of Arc Words: [[spoiler:because it foreshadows the identities of the final five Cylons]].
*** Lyrics from the song were later integrated into the series finale as a sort of reveal. For example, [[spoiler:Starbuck says the phrase "There must be some kind of way out of here" before inputting the coordinates to the new Earth and their new home]].
** The Mandala from the Temple of Five pops up in seasons two and three, and it's starting to look like it might be hinting at a deeper connection between [[spoiler:Starbuck]] and [[spoiler:the Final Five]].
** "The shape of things to come" may or may not be, as it is not yet established exactly why the [[spoiler:half-cylons are so important, barring medicinal use]].
*** Eventually revealed: [[spoiler: Hera, Athena's daughter, was Mitochondrial Eve. In other words, the mother of all modern-day humanity.]]
** "All this has happened before, and will happen again" is another possible example, having been spoken repeatedly without proper explanation so far.
*** Season 4 has a bit of that: [[spoiler: Some Cylon Centurions are briefly allowed to "rebel" against some of their humanoid cylon masters, in response to what they see is being done to the raider. This echoes the original cylons' uprising against humanity]].
*** Sort of explained in that a main tenet of their religion is the idea of a cyclical time line, the same story being told over and over again throughout eternity.
*** "Sometimes a Great Notion" reveals more: [[spoiler: Earth was nuked to a barren wasteland 2000 years before The Colonies were at the start of the series.]]
*** And the finale has [[spoiler:Head!Six and Head!Baltar]] saying a slightly different version: "All of this has happened before... but does all of it have to happen again?" Possibly in reaction to [[spoiler:modern-day humanity progressing the same way their ancestors did]].
*** ''The Plan'' has "Love outlasts Death": [[spoiler: spoken by the Cylon Hybrids before destroying the Colonies, and written on the suicide note of the Simon who killed himself rather than harm his human family. Also, Sam's ShutUpHannibal paraphrase of the concept turns out to be the EpiphanyTherapy that separates the Caprican Cavil from the one on Galactica.]]
** "Nothing but the rain", on the other hand, is not Arc Words, just an inside joke between Adama and Starbuck.
* ''Series/{{Millennium}}'' season two: "This is who we are."
* The 1967 series "Coronet Blue" depicted an amnesiac who couldn't remember anything about himself or his past except for the cryptic phrase "Coronet Blue". The series was cancelled before he could find out who he was, where he came from or what "Coronet Blue" meant.
** Several decades later, creator Creator/LarryCohen [[WordOfGod revealed]] it in an interview: the protagonist was a Soviet spy who worked for a unit called Coronet Blue. MarkEvanier watched the show as a kid and [[http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2007_02_05.html#012879 came impressively close to figuring it out]] on his own.
* ''ThePrisoner'' had a creepy set of ArcWords: every time someone would say goodbye to anyone in the Village, they would form a circle over their right eye with a thumb and forefinger, tip it forward in a salute, and say "Be seeing you."
** More ArcWords: POP, which either stood for Protect Other People, or the song "Pop Goes the Weasel," and the penny farthing bicycle that was the Village's logo. What's more, ''none'' of these were ever explained.
* ''ThePretender'' contained a nursery rhyme sung by Young Jarod at the very beginning of the show, which continued to appear throughout the remainder of the show, and was even sung by characters other than Jarod. Its significance was never explained.
* ''Series/{{Threshold}}'' has a fractal triskelion pattern that appears throughout the series. Though it is explained in the first episode as a representation of a triple helix, and the characters consider its mere presence to be evidence of an infectee, its true nature is never explained.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** The middle seasons had a question associated with each of the two most prominent races of First Ones in the show: "Who are you?" commonly asked by the Vorlons, and "What do you want?" from the Shadows. (When Sheridan asks Kosh "What do you want?" in an early episode, not realizing its significance, the Vorlon angrily tells him, "Never ask that question!") During his NearDeathExperience he meets Lorien (''the'' First One) who has his own questions: "Why are you here?" and "Do you have anything WorthLivingFor?". In "Into the Fire," the younger races throwing off the yoke of the First Ones is emphasized when Sheridan turns their questions around on them: "Who are ''you''?" he asks the Vorlons; "What do ''you'' want?" he puts to the Shadows; [[ArmorPiercingQuestion they are unable to answer]]. And in the final episode, Sheridan meets Lorien once again, who rhetorically asks him, "Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here? Where are you going?" Which are, altogether, a slight recasting of the key questions from Creator/AlfredBester's (no, the writer) ''The Stars My Destination'': "Who are you?" "Where are you from?" "Where do you live?" and "Where are you going?"
** ''Babylon 5'' also referenced the arc words from ''The Prisoner''; when the more sinister members of the Psi Corps say goodbye they do the same salute, complete with "be seeing you".
** "After a fashion."
** "There's a hole in your mind"
** "Crysalis" in Season 1.
** "And so it begins."
** "Hello old friend"
** Series/Crusade would have had a few more, along with the Vorlon and Shadow questions, but it got [[ScrewedByTheNetwork Firefly'ed]]: "Who do you serve and who do you trust?" and "Where are you going?"
* ''TheSarahConnorChronicles'' gets one in late season two: ''Will You Join Us?''
** "Come with me if you want to live" and "I'd die for John Connor".
* ''Series/{{Sherlock}}'' has [[spoiler:Moriarty's "I.O.U." in ''The Reichenbach Fall'', which is echoed, in a sense, by Watson at the end of that episode when he says to Sherlock's grave, "I owe you...so much."]]
** From that same season, one also gets [[spoiler:"Stayin' Alive," which is Moriarty's ringtone and what he perceives to be the "Final Problem" (which itself could be construed as an Arc Word, when Moriarty asks Sherlock, "The final problem... Have you figured it out yet? I did tell you, but did you ''listen?''"]]
** Earlier, in ''The Hounds Of Baskerville'', part of the plot was figuring out what "Liberty in" meant. Turns out it stands for [[spoiler: Liberty, Indiana: the town where the HOUND Project took place.]]
** Series 3 has "Redbeard",[[spoiler:the name of Sherlock's childhood dog]].
* ''Series/{{Carnivale}}'': "Every prophet in his/her house."
* The ''Series/{{Dollhouse}}'' series loves the word "broken" when applied to the dolls. Among other lines it appears in, Echo insists that she is ''not'' broken. Whether or not she's right remains to be seen.
** That whole "Did I fall asleep" conversation seems to apply.
** Senator Parrin's "white knight/beautiful damsel" conversation with his wife.
** "I try to be my best" is yet another example.
* ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' has "The Pattern" and "ZFT" which (in German, "Zerstörung durch Fortschritte der Technologie") stands for "Destruction Through the Advancement of Technology."
** They seemed to have moved onto "First People," after the ominous phrase cropped up as an EasterEgg late in Season 2's opening credits.
** And of course "Be a better man than your father"... in Greek!
* "Someone's at the door" from ''AmericanGothic''.
* ''Series/JeevesAndWooster'' gets a couple, used to blackmail Spode, although they're more like Episode Words: "Eulalie" in the first couple episodes of season 2, and "Celia" in the series finale.
* ''Series/{{Taken}}'' has a couple, reinforcing that ideas will get passed down form generation to generation. The Clark family has one phrase about Love, the Crawfords have one that revolves around fear, and the aliens have one that's just plain threatening.
--> '''Crawford''': ''All your memories play at once. All your memories and all your fears.''
--> '''Clark''': ''I love you. Every day and twice on Sundays.''
--> '''Alien/Half Alien''': ''Look at me.'' [[spoiler: IMMINENT MINDRAPE]]
* {{Warehouse13}}: Knock Knock.
* ''Franchise/KamenRider'' has run across a few shows that share arc words.
** ''Series/KamenRiderDenO'' had "''The past should give us hope.''"
** ''Series/KamenRiderDecade'' has "''Destroy everything. Connect everything''" and some variant of "Destroyer" or "Devil" when talking about Decade.
** ''Series/KamenRiderOOO'' had "Desire" as its major arc word. The main character lacks desire [[spoiler:but gains it in the end]], his enemies are made of nothing ''but'' desire, and there's a man who sits in between the battle rambling on the greatness of desires and births.
** ''Series/KamenRiderWizard'' had "Hope" or more poignantly "Last Hope". Haruto denotes himself as "[[HopeBringer The Last Hope]]", as his parents' dying wishes are for him to be hope for everyone. His mentor even adapts the "Last Hope" title and calls him "One of the Last Hopes", as [[spoiler:his hope is to revive Koyomi]]. Near the end, Koyomi asks Haruto to be her "Last Hope" [[spoiler:before she dies for good]] and Haruto even states that [[spoiler:getting the Philosopher's Stone so he could put Koyomi's soul to rest]] is his "Last Hope".
* {{Vintergatan}} had "...And remember, anything can happen in space." Plain enough on paper, but it always sounded like foreshadowing.
* ''Franchise/StarTrek: [[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]'' season 2 keeps mentioning "The Dominion" until in the season finale "The Jem'Hadar" they're finally revealed as an EvilEmpire (kind of an anti-{{Federation}}) of fanatical religious zealots who clone and genetically enhance/imprint with loyalty their diplomats and soldiers and see all the regular Star Trek powers (federation, Romulan Empire, Klingon Empire etc) as threats that must be absorbed or destroyed. Their "Gods" are really just shapeshifting aliens and most of the regular empires recognize this.
* ''Series/BoredToDeath'': "I believe I can help people."
* ''{{V-2009}}'': "John May lives." It's even used as a password... on Anna's ship. You'd think checking to see if that phrase was in any of the files in the ship's computer would have been the first thing they tried when they were looking for the Fifth Column...
* In ''Series/StargateSG1'', a [[IceCreamKoan saying that pops up]] a lot of the times Ascension is discussed goes, "If you immediately know the candlelight is fire, the meal was cooked a long time ago." None of the Ascended Ancients ever elaborates on what that means, and by the end of the series none of the main cast get it either. It turns into something of a RunningGag.
** It also becomes a TrustPassword in one situation, where Daniel recognizes a fake Ancient by her failure to understand the phrase.
* ''Series/TheWire'': Several, but most memorably, "All in the game".
* ''Series/TrueBlood'': Various supernatural creatures [[{{Narm}} narmfully]] ask Sookie "What ''are'' you?" Turns out she is [[spoiler: a fairy.]]
* ''GossipGirl'': "Three words, eight letters. [[SuperCouple Say it and I'm yours.]]"
* "What's next?" from ''Series/TheWestWing'', a phrase that may have originated with President Bartlet himself.
* ''Series/{{Dexter}}'': "Tonight's the night."
* ''DarkOracle'': "What just happened here?" Everyone asks it at some point.
* ''Series/{{Chuck}}'': "Don't freak out."
** "Chuck vs. The Beefcake" had "Everyone talks".
* ''[[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra.]]''
* ''TheRiver:'' "There's magic out there." [[AllMythsAreTrue And there is.]]
* ''PersonOfInterest'' has two:
** Various permutations of Reese's comment to Jessica in "Mission Creep": "In the end, we're all alone and no one is coming to save you."...
** ...and of its counterpoint: "You have to trust somebody."
** "Can you hear me?"
* ''HowIMetYourMother'' season 6 had "Things have to fall down to make way for new things" and "New is always better".
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'' season 1: [[PowerAtAPrice "All magic comes with a price."]]
** [[ThePowerOfLove "Find us/I will always find you."]]
* ''Series/{{Arrow}}'': People are always telling Oliver to "Survive".
** On the bad guy side, there's "[[EvilPlan The Undertaking]]".
* ''Series/{{Community}}'': "Annie, you live in a terrible neighborhood."
** Season 3's "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" had the question "Why do I go Greendale?"
* ''Series/{{Life}}'': "There ''were'' six. There is five. There could just as easily be four." [[spoiler: It's a death threat to Jack Reese from the other conspirators of the Bank of LA Robbery, who killed off another conspirator when he started turning against them.]]
* ''Series/DaVincisDemons'': "I am a son of earth and starry heaven. I am thirsty. Give me a drink from the fountain of memory."
** "Time is a river."
* ''Series/CSICrimeSceneInvestigation'' had that case about a murder in a swingers community. They always talked about the 3 rules: "No affairs. No picture or video. The kids should never find out". [[spoiler:The murder happened because all 3 rules were broken.]]
* A senile old man in the ''Series/ColdCase'' episode "World's End" keeps asking Lily (who resembles his late wife) "Where's my supper?" [[spoiler:That's what he was saying to his wife when he killed her.]]
* ''Series/{{Hannibal}}'' has "Do you see?"/"What do you see?" and variants as questions asked of [[TheEmpath borderline supernaturally empathic]] Will Graham. His mantra when using his gift of 'empathy' to understand and capture criminals is "This is my design." Together, the phrases serve as a call-and-response which, fully understood and expressed, forms the basis of the whole first season and its climax. [[spoiler:''What does Will see? Hannibal Lecter's design.'']]
* [[Series/AgentsOfSHIELD "Tahiti. It's a magical place."]]
* [[Series/SpartacusBloodAndSand Spartacus series]] has "A man must accept his fate or be destroyed by it.", "There's always a choice.", "Spartacus [[DoomedByCanon must/shall/will wall]]", "[[KillEmAll Kill them all]]", "A gladiator does not fear death".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* The ''VideoGame/MegaManClassic'' rock opera from the self-titled CD by The Protomen has two: "Hope rides alone" and "we are the dead". Both get darker meanings by the end.
** And in the prequel, The Father of Death, the arc words are "Don't turn your back on the City."
** Emily... A crowd has gathered here...
* ''AmericanIdiot'', by GreenDay, has 'Jesus of Suburbia', 'St Jimmy' (or just 'Jimmy') and 'Whatsername', the three (possibly two) main characters of the story who are name-dropped through most of the album.
* BlindGuardian lyrics feature the word "blind" frequently thoughout all their lenghty career.
* ''DangerDays:The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys'', by MyChemicalRomance, had the phrase "the lights go out" repeated contuniously through the album, as well as "summertime" and "kill the party". It has not been connfirmed as to what these phrases mean.
* TheWho: [[{{Tommy}} "See Me . . . Feel Me . . . Touch Me . . . Heal Me . . ."]]
** [[Music/{{Quadrophenia}} "Love, reign o'er me!"]]
** [[Music/{{Quadrophenia}} "I ride a GS scooter with my hair cut neat. I wear my wartime coat in the wind and sleet."]]
* NineInchNails: "Nothing can stop me now / Broken (machine)."
* {{Music/DragonForce}} : Steel, Fire, Flames, Soul/Spirit/Heart, Glory, and the phrase [[RunningGag "So Far Away"]]. They don't use "So far away" on their album ''The Power Within'', but it was in the demo version of ''Heart of the Storm''.
* Music/DreamTheater's ''MetropolisPt2ScenesFromAMemory'' has "open your eyes". Initially, it's a reassurance from the Hypnotherapist that Nicholas can end his regression therapy at any time. He later repeats it to end the session. Nicholas never learns, [[DramaticIrony but the audience does]], that these were [[spoiler: Edward's last words to Victoria before killing her]], and also what the Hypnotherapist says before [[spoiler: killing Nicholas, thus completing the circle]].
* On Music/{{Metallica}}'s "Black Album", the word "you" and its variants appear ''a lot''.
* ThePaperChase's ''Now You Are One Of Us'' features "It's out there, and it's going to get you" numerous times (it's even the last line of the last song).
* [[ChristianRock Christian Hard Rock]] band Resurrection Band's final album has two sets of arc words. "It is my right, I am free" and "I'm satisfied, here I'm alive". fitting because its a ConceptAlbum
* {{Vocaloid}} producer {{Mothy}} loves to link some of the songs in his "Evillious Chronicles" with the mysterious mini song, "Lu, Li, La". It's almost always sung by [[AnimatedActors characters played by]] Rin and Len, except one instance where it was sung by Hatsune Miku and another time by Megurine Luka. It appears to link the "Clockwork Lullaby" series but appears in other songs, furthering the [[MindScrew confusion]]. It actually has yet to be explained, but most likely will be at the end.
** Additionally, there is "If we could be reborn..." (exclusive to the ''Story of Evil'') and "Utopia".
*** And "A lonely man on the brink of death built a small theater in the forest". Mothy really likes this trope!
* FrankZappa; [[Music/JoesGarage Joe's Garage]]: "The white zone is for loading and unloading only, if you gotta load or unload, go to the white zone."
* On ''Music/TheWall'', by Music/PinkFloyd, a number of arc words are repeated through and through. Among the many are "oh, baby", in a melancholic voice, "mother/mom", and one of the most famous, "bricks/brick in the wall".
* Variations of "What did I do to deserve...?" appear on all albums of Music/CoheedandCambria.
** The phrases "One last kiss" and "Believer" surface in multiple songs in ''Good Apollo Vol. 1.''
* SoundHorizon's ''[[RockOpera Märchen]]'' wrings more meaning out of "イド" ([[AlternateCharacterReading which is pronounced "ido" and can mean well or the Freudian id, among other things]]) than should be possible - so much meaning, in fact, that a character can waltz in and deliver two entirely non-sequitur lines, and somehow ''[[http://sh-whitecrow.com/wiki/index.php?title=Idolfried_Ehrenberg tie the entire backstory together]]''[[note]]Well, [[ShrugOfGod probably]][[/note]] simply because he is an impulsive sailor named '''Ido'''lfried.
* A slip of paper bearing the words "to whom it may concern" appeared in several {{Iamamiwhoami}} videos, and on the album art for each of their singles relating to the "bounty" arc. Their song "u-1" contains the phrase in Spanish, "A quien le corresponda," in its lyrics.
* Several lyrics by Adam Duritz of {{Counting Crows}} reference an ambiguous girl named Maria.
* Iron and Wine's extended narrative song "The Trapeze Swinger" includes the refrain ''"Please, remember me..."'' in every verse, always finished in a different way. From the beginning, it's clear that it's a LoveNostalgiaSong about the speaker reflecting on his changing relationship with a woman that he's known since childhood. It isn't until the last verses that it's revealed that the speaker is actually dead, and is narrating the song from the afterlife as he attempts to climb his way up from Purgatory. He deeply regrets that his relationship with the woman ended with a quarrel, and now wonders how his surviving friends and family on Earth will remember him after his death.
* The phrase "doe eyes" abounds in many of ''Music/LosCampesinos'' songs.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* The run-up to Wrestling/ChrisJericho's return to Wrestling/{{WWE}} in 2007 had the commentators and the wrestlers on-screen puzzling over mysterious interruptions to WWE's programs that prominently featured the phrases SAVE_US.222, SAVE_US.X29, and 8.2.11/SAVIOR_SELF. Most of the puzzlement happened on-screen; the fans largely figured it out fairly quickly (though there were a few alternate theories that stuck around until TheReveal, chief among them a new Hart Foundation stable led by Bret Hart's nephew Teddy), which reportedly drove WWE's creative team nuts.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Radio]]
* The AudioPlay/BigFinishDoctorWho audios used ArcWords for one season of their Eighth Doctor Adventures. The phrase itself was a [[IronicNurseryRhyme nursery rhyme]]:
-->Zagreus sits inside your head, Zagreus lives among the dead, Zagreus sees you in your bed and eats you when you're sleeping.
* ''Radio/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'': Life, The Universe And Everything.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/UnknownArmies'': ''You did it''.
* HunterTheReckoning: '''INHERIT THE EARTH.'''
* {{Exalted}}: "Once, there was a maiden..."
** "[{{Koan}}]", she said.
* LegendOfTheFiveRings has at least two: "A man will kill his lord, the other will save him," for the Hidden Emperor {{Arc}} and "Four Winds and Void between them," for the Four Winds {{Arc}}.
* TabletopGame/{{Continuum}}: "Further information is not available here."
* NewWorldOfDarkness: "What rises may fall / What has fallen may rise again."

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* ''TanzDerVampire'': "Sei bereit!" ("Be prepared!")
* Eric Overmyer's ''OnTheVerge'': "Vaya con dios!"
* In the [[{{Absurdism}} absurdist play]] ''WaitingForGodot'', by Samuel Beckett, the following snippet of dialogue recurs, almost as a refrain (and to punctuate the various ways the two find to pass the time):
-->'''Gogo''': Let's go.
-->'''Didi''': We can't.
-->'''Gogo''': Why not?
-->'''Didi''': We're waiting for Godot.
** Or:
-->'''Gogo''': Let's go.
-->'''Didi''': Yes, let's go.
-->'''They do not move.'''
* Theatre/{{Wicked}}:
** Replete with them. "I'm/We're/You're unlimited" stands out. "You deserve each other" is also used quite frequently. Also, "a celebration throughout Oz / That's all to do with (me/you)".
** The words "wicked" and "good" themselves.
* ''Theatre/JuliusCaesar'': "Beware the Ides of March..." ([[spoiler:Guess what [[KilledOffForReal happens to Caesar on that day]].]])
* Korczak's Children: A play the orphanage children are putting on comes up numerous times, with Doctor Korczak asking people what they think it means, always using the words "What is it about?"
* "Nothing" and "something" in ''Theatre/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* [[SpecOpsTheLine Do you feel like a hero yet?]], along with, "I/We had/have no choice."
* Dee's prophecy, quoted in the beginning of ''VideoGame/{{ZombiU}}'' says that "a cleansing fire of black angels will purify the world". You're supposed to believe that it's either Death or the Ravens of Dee (depending on who's talking to you), but it turns out that Dee had something else in mind. [[spoiler: They're the RAF jets on their way to firebomb the city, silhouetted black against the red sky.]]
** "The Tower shall fall when the Ravens flee."
* "What can change the nature of a man?" from ''PlanescapeTorment''. Also an ArmorPiercingQuestion.
** Also "torment" itself, along with the symbol that represents torment - [[http://th09.deviantart.net/fs71/PRE/i/2013/085/3/5/planescape__symbol_of_torment_simple_by_drdraze-d5zec9a.png it looks like an oddly bent shuriken.]]
** The game's SpiritualSuccessor, ''TormentTidesOfNumenera'', has; "What does one life matter?"
* ''VideoGame/{{Bioshock|1}}'': [[spoiler:Everything you're asked to do to continue the game is prefaced with "Would You Kindly". While at first it seems like Atlas is just being polite, he later reveals that not only is he not who he claims to be, "Would You Kindly" is in fact a genetically coded key phrase that compels you to unquestioningly obey the "suggestion." This is a particularly cunning reveal since up until this point, chances are good you have (dun dun duuunnnn!) followed Atlas' advice without wondering where all this might be coming from.]]
** Throughout the game, you hear several variants on Andrew Ryan's personal philosophy: "A man chooses, a slave obeys." [[spoiler:This has a lot more impact when you realize you don't really have a choice in your actions throughout the game.]]
* ''VideoGame/BioshockInfinite'' has "Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt", with the girl in question being Elizabeth. [[spoiler:It takes on a completely new meaning by the end.]]
** "The seed of the Prophet shall sit the throne, and drown in flame the mountains of man."
* ''Franchise/MetalGear'': "Who are the Patriots?"/"La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo". The first time you hear it, [[{{Narm}} it just sounds silly]], then you find out [[ParanoiaFuel why people say that]]. [[spoiler:Its origin is comparatively mundane, as they're just used for the challenge-response ally confirmation procedure. It's later revealed that {{Main/Nanomachines}} prevent people from mentioning the group by name, they instead say "La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo".]]
** "There's only room for one Snake..." and its derivatives.
** "It's not over yet, Snake!"
** "You're pretty good."
* ''VideoGame/ChzoMythos'': "it hurts", the final entry, in its entirety, in a diary belonging to one of the game's murder victims. [[spoiler:It's never explicitly mentioned precisely ''how'', but it's implied that John Defoe was born twisted or deformed, and was locked up and eventually beaten to death by his own father.]]
** [[spoiler: The tie-in story, The Expedition, explains that these words are the only/last thing that is going through the mind of Chzo and his servants's victims.]]
* ''VideoGame/DirgeOfCerberus: VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'': "I'm so sorry."
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'''s are more subtle, as "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec," which can be heard in various musical pieces from the opening FMV to the absolute final battle, are a fake-Latin anagram of the game's two intertwining themes: "Love" and the "Succession of Witches".
* "This is my story." from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX''. Frequently by Auron to Tidus and Yuna as "This is your story."
** Referenced by Auron in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'', only referring to himself this time around, when defying Hades's control.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXI'': An ancient song, prophecy, and/or history, the "Memoria de la S^tona" is critical to the first three story arcs, most of the various Home Nation story arcs, and is likely a part of the as-yet unfinished storyline to "Wings of the Goddess". The first verse is the spoken-word intro to the first cutscene in the game. After completing the first storyline, the "true" meaning of the first verse is revealed: upon beginning the second, it is immediately and forcefully reinterpreted. Throughout the Chains of Promathia storyline, many major {{NPC}}s are in possession of one verse, which they have usually misinterpreted [[spoiler:In Bahamut's case, so badly that he wishes to destroy all sentient life on the planet; in Tenzen's, he merely wishes to kill the player]].
* While not recurring, the very first spoken lines in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' ("The thirteen days after we awoke were the beginning of the end,") definitely qualify for the "meaning unveiled slowly as the story progresses" part. That includes questions like who is the speaker, in which sense did she awake, why did she awake, whom does she mean with "we", why is it "[[ArcNumber thirteen]]" days, what end is she referring to, why is it the beginning, etc..
** In ''VideoGame/{{Final Fantasy XIII-2}}'', "If you change the future, you change the past."
* The original ''BaldursGate'' had Gorion's spirit [[spoiler: in fact, your own Bhaal heritage]] appearing to you in dreams at the end of every chapter and always telling you "You will learn..." before you wake up and discover a new entry in your special ability list.
* According to the WordOfGod, the title ''[[VideoGame/KingdomHearts358DaysOver2 358/2 Days]]'' won't make sense to players until the game's end. [[spoiler:More specificially, the game's title is pronounced 358 Days '''Over 2''', which causes some confusion. It refers to the 358 days that the 2 people, Roxas and Xion, experience through during their time in Organization XIII]].
** The concept trailer "Another Side, Another Story [deep dive]" from Kingdom Hearts Final Mix is entirely ''composed'' of ArcWords. The thing is ''filled'' with quotes and random concepts that are subtly included in ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' (non-existent ones and "You are the source of all Heartless," anyone?), excepting the final quote ("We'll go together"), that itself being a [[MeaningfulEcho line from early in the first game]], changed to a different line in the English version before the translators had a chance to cotton on to its ArcWords status, which they eventually did with Kingdom Hearts II ([[spoiler:said by Sora, just before he & Riku go through the Door To Light and return home to the Destiny Islands]] at the end). It can make chills run up and down the savvy fan's spine.
* ''VideoGame/UrbanChaosRiotResponse'' has one. While not a sentence, or a phrase the [[spoiler:Company, Shift It]] appears everywhere! If you look for it. The reason it's so important is that [[spoiler:Shift it are actually the Burners. The CEO is the leader of the gang, and forceably brainwashed all of his employes into the animals that are the burners.]]
* ''{{killer7}}'' has the phrases "Don't gain the world and lose your soul," "How soon is now," and "[[NumberOfTheBeast 666]]" scrawled in various places.
** "How Soon is Now" is the name of a song. While it's been covered many times, the original version was by TheSmiths. (As it happens, all the courier memos are also named after songs by the Smiths.) While the other two may qualify as Arc Words, this one's probably more of a ShoutOut.
** There's also the advent of the disappearance of smiles that runs throughout the game, before and after missions (with cheerful phrases such as "The day he stops smiling is the day we remember his smile".)
** "In the name of Harman..."
** [[BookEnds "Let's dance."]]
* ''NoMoreHeroes'': "Head for the Garden of Madness!", and [[spoiler: "Jeanne".]]
* ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'': "To right the countless wrongs of our day, we shine this light of true redemption, that this place may become as paradise. [[TitleDrop What a wonderful world]] such would be..."
** "Remember, Neku... [[TitleDrop the world ends with you.]]"
* ''LimboOfTheLost'' has two: "Forget reality, surrender to your darkest dreams" and "Join us, join us now!" The latter is repeated by a disembodied voice throughout the game who is trying to be creepy but ending up annoying.
* Any variation on "seven years ago" in ''ApolloJusticeAceAttorney''.
** Lampshaded in game: "Seven years"... That phrase sure likes to pop up, doesn't it...
** Likewise, DL-6 or "fifteen years ago" in the original, or any mention of [[spoiler:Edgeworth]] in Justice for All.
** SL-9 takes this role in the first game's DS bonus case, Rise from the Ashes.
** "The only time a lawyer can cry is when it's all over" from the third game.
* VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyDualDestinies - "The Dark Age of the Law," "seven years ago," and [[spoiler:"a third party"]].
* ''VideoGame/AdventureQuest's'' arc numbers, 755, appeared more so on the forum and on various websites by [[WordOfGod the game's staff]], rather than in game, and several arc phrases were never seen in game.
* ''VideoGame/MaxPayne'' features a number of instances of the phrase "the flesh of fallen angels." Those are just utterances from addled junkies and it doesn't really mean anything, just that Valkyr users are off their rocks. Something with more sense is Vlad's "[insert name here], dearest of all my friends." which he says to a lot of people, not just Max, [[spoiler:and it usually means that he intends to kill them later.]]
* The CommandAndConquerTiberium series has the ''"[[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence Ascension]]"'' that Kane promises his followers. In the end... [[spoiler: he wasn't lying]].
* In ''VideoGame/DeadSpace'', you'll hear "Make us whole again," first from a transmission from Nicole. As the game goes on, it gets creepier, as transmissions come from broken computers saying it over and over, then you'll hear it from Doctor Kyne and from Nicole herself. [[spoiler:It's all from [[ArtifactOfDoom the Marker]]]].
** "Make us whole again" and the four steps ("Step 1: Into the dark machine. Step 2: The screws go tight, all around. Step 3: Cross my heart and hope to die. Stick a needle in my eye. Step 4: She'll be waiting.") take turns following you around in ''VideoGame/DeadSpace2'', although the first one is the only one that goes through the entire thing. The second starts in the latter half and keeps up with you until you find out what it means.
* ''VideoGame/DeadSpace3'' game gives us ''three'' examples:
** Turn It Off: When Isaac first reads it, he assumes the phrase refers to turning all of the Markers off. [[spoiler: It's actually a plea from the Moon, which is imprisoned by 'the Machine,' which it wants to be turned off so it can finish Convergence]].
** A new meaning to 'Make Us Whole': A phrase spanning four years and several games before finally being explained. In the first, it was thought to be the Red Marker wanting to be returned to its pedestal. In the second, it was thought to be the Golden Marker wishing to absorb its creator Isaac. [[spoiler: The true meaning is revealed. All of the Markers are an extension of [[GeniusLoci the Moon's]] will[[note]]itself a post-convergence Necromorph[[/note]], and they were attempting to have the 'Machine' keeping the Moon sealed to be turned off, allowing the Moon to finish its Convergence and absorb all of mankind]].
** The third game also gives a new meaning to the series' name: Dead Space. It seems to fit its obvious meaning, because it's, you know, a ZombieApocalypse [[RecycledINSPACE IN SPACE]]! However, the final message from Dr. Serrano gives a a better one. [[spoiler: Humanity shouldn't be alone in the stars. There were many other alien civilizations, but they all fell prey to one thing: the Markers. They all grew past the point of sustainability, found the Markers and began to create more, spread them throughout their empire, and worship them. Then, the Necromorphs emerged, and would trigger a Convergence event, killing the entire race of aliens, making their entire space 'dead']].
* SaintsRow has "The Pyramid", and to a lesser extent, the Ultor Corporation.
** The Ultor Corporation is also a shout out to the first RedFaction game.
** In the sequel it turns from a shout out to a full blown origin story.
* ''[[Franchise/{{ShinMegamiTenseiPersona}} Persona]]'' as a whole has "Thou art I, and I am thou."
** ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'': "Memento Mori" as well and its translations, "remember that you are mortal," "remember that you will die," and "remember your death." It's only ever really seen in the opening video, but this is the video that plays every time you power on the system. [[spoiler: The main character dies.]]
*** Once you reach October 4th, the date is repeated a lot throughout the day. [[spoiler: It's the day Ken's mother was manslaughtered by Shinjiro Aragaki and his Persona, Castor, and Ken plans on getting even that day. While Shinjiro ''does'' end up dying, it happens in a way that traumatizes Ken.]]
** ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'': "I am a {{Shadow|Archetype}}… the true self" and "[[WhatAnIdiot You're]] [[OneWingedAngel not]] [[BerserkButton me!]]"
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'' [[spoiler: REPLICA!!!!!]].
* ''TalesOfSymphoniaDawnOfTheNewWorld'': "Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality" said by Richter once, and essentially sparked Emil's entire journey.
* ''Videogame/{{Fallout}}''
** The series as a whole has [[Creator/RonPerlman "War. War never changes."]]
** Depending on how you explore ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas'', you may see and hear about "The Burned Man" before you know the story of the Burned Man. [[spoiler: Inversely, a new player with all the DLC installed can very well meet the Burned Man before ever hearing about him.]]
** In the end, we're all alone and no one is coming to save you. Also from ''New Vegas'', "The Divide."
** The ''[[VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas New Vegas]]'' [=DLCs=] (particularly Dead Money and Lonesome Road) uses the words "Let go," and "Begin again."
* In ''VideoGame/{{Anachronox}}'', the words "Eddie knows" is grafittied all over the area, and a lot of [=NPCs=] talk about this "Eddie". However, once you ''meet'' Eddie (fairly early in the game) and gets his aid, he's removed from the plot.
* In the ''Leviathan'' DLC of ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'':
-->"''The darkness cannot be breached.''"
* Although it is only said twice, "No king rules forever" serve as ArcWords for the entirety of VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft: Wrath of the Lich king. The two times it is said happen to be when fighting the games two most powerful/main villains, Yogg-Saron and [[BigBad Arthas]]. [[spoiler:Yogg is referring to Arthas and it is the last thing Arthas's father's ghost says to his son before he dies]]. This quote not only summarizes the fall of the Lich King but many of the other events that occurred during the expansion and things that will happen shortly after such as: 2 kings (Yirmon and Anub'Arak) die, Malygos, the dragon aspect of magic/leader of the Blue Dragonflight, was killed, the Alliance found a new leader in King Varian, Bolvar Fordragon (the guy who was ruling Stormwind while [[WorldOfWarcraftComic Varian was doing stuff]]) was [[spoiler: [[NeverFoundTheBody presumed to be dead after the Wrathgate fiasco]] but is found alive (sort of, maybe) ]] but has to [[spoiler: become the next Lich King in order to prevent the Scourge from going crazy[er] and killing EVERYTHING]]. In addition, the quote can be viewed as Foreshadowing of things to come in the pre-Cataclysm event and the expansion itself: The Gnomes and Darkspear Trolls taking back their respective homelands after being in exile for years, [[OurOrcsAreDifferent Warchief Thrall]] being replaced by [[TheScrappy Garrosh]] [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Hellscream]], as well as many other changes in leadership on Azeroth.
** Also, from the same expansion, "The Light of Dawn."
** In ''World of Warcraft: Cataclysm'', several of the villans including Deathwing make mention of something called "The Hour of Twilight". In the novel ''ThrallTwilightOfTheAspects'', we finally learn what it means: [[spoiler:It's the event in which the [[EldritchAbomination Old Gods]] will claim their final victory and [[EndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt extinguish all life on Azeroth]], [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness including Deathwing]].]]
* From ''VideoGame/MegaManZX'': the "Game of Destiny."
* ''VideoGame/HalfLife1'' has "Unforeseen consequences" show up when ''nobody'' expected it.
** "Free Man" and many variations of it also appears very often. The protagonist's name is Freeman, and he is known in ''VideoGame/HalfLife2'' as "The One Free Man", since he was never subjugated by [[TheEmpire The Combine]]. Irony kicks in when you realize that [[ButThouMust he's not]] [[TheManBehindTheMan at all free]].
** The ''Half-Life'' Modification ''AfraidOfMonsters'' has two words: ''FORGIVE ME''. The main character is a drug addict, who is on an overdose throughout the whole game. Does he survive his sins? No and yes, depending on the ending.
* Though you're given much more information about it, and it is much more direct than in most cases, "fourteen years ago" arguably counts in ''VideoGame/{{Xenosaga}}''. [[spoiler:It's eventually revealed that it was when Shion summoned the Gnosis.]]
* You know your main mission throughout ''VideoGame/{{STALKER}}'' is to "Kill Strelok." Unfortunately, those words are the ''only'' thing that you know, due to a case of EasyAmnesia.
* "The Wheel Of Fate Is Turning" is just a cool throwaway phrase to start your ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'' fights with, right? Not quite. [[spoiler:It's actually hinting at the GroundhogDayLoop that's been put in place, and the events that continue to cause the loop to endlessly repeat]].
** The "Rebel 1: Action!" that follows it also [[ScrewDestiny has meaning]].
* ''VideoGame/DreamfallTheLongestJourney'': "Find her. Save her." It actually refers to [[spoiler:April Ryan, the heroine of the original game, ''VideoGame/TheLongestJourney'', who Zoe does eventually meet. ''Why'' she needed to be found, however, remains unclear.]]
* '''Remember the Citadel''' and '''Resist''' written in blood on walls in ''SystemShock 2''.
* [[BadassCreed "Nothing is true, everything is permitted."]] Al-Mualim and Altair discuss it in the first ''VideoGame/{{Assassins Creed|I}}'', but what it means is better explained to the player in the [[VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII sequel]] after Ezio meets Niccolo Machiavelli.
* VideoGame/SandsofDestruction: "Acta est fabula."
* The [[VideoGame/{{Mother1}} Earthbound]] / [[VideoGame/EarthBound Mother]] [[VideoGame/{{Mother3}} trilogy]]: "No Crying Until The End."
* Masks pop up quite a lot, in conversation and on various characters, in NeverwinterNights2 Mask of the Betrayer.
* ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'': '''[[MemeticMutation The cake is a lie...]]''' [[spoiler:It's not.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}'': " [[OhCrap It's been a long time. How have you been?]] "
** ''Remember: '''Science''' is the future, and the future starts with '''you'''''.
** A minor but important one from the [[WhamEpisode second half]] of the game: ''"Goodbye, [[ChekhovsGunman Caroline]]"''
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII''
** In conversations with the [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Qunari]] over the course of the story, the 'certainty' of the Qun is contrasted with the chaos of free will, foreshadowing the primary conflict of the second chapter.
** As [[WellIntentionedExtremist Anders]] gets crazier, he starts spouting [[WithUsOrAgainstUs "Everyone in Kirkwall must choose a side!"]]. [[spoiler:He forces the issue in the end.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Bayonetta}}''
** "The Left Eye, our treasured Left Eye, will never fall into the hands of another!"
** "May Jubileus, the Creator, grace you!"
* ''VideoGame/SonicTheHedgehog2006'' has "Don't cry, no matter what happens" and "Smile!"
** ''ShadowTheHedgehog'' has the phrase "This is who I am!" or some variation of it so consistently that it is featured in every single ending, several cutscenes, and the [[CrowningMusicOfAwesome game's theme song.]]
* In ''VideoGame/WingCommander IV: The Price Of Freedom'', the arc words are conspicuous only because they're also a TitleDrop: "The price is freedom is eternal vigilance." The phrase becomes key to understanding the motivations of several characters, and in true science fiction fashion, invites the player to decide if those actions are justified.
* ''VideoGame/DeadlyPremonition'': "At times we must purge things from this world because they should not exist, even if it means [[ShootTheDog losing someone that you love.]]"
* ''VideoGame/CaveStory'' has a number of examples of this trope. The frequently recurring character Cthullu often says lines such as [[spoiler:"You're a soldier from the surface, aren't you? Hasn't the war ended yet?" or "Where's your blonde pal? Oh well. Better keep running around til the batteries run out."]] As you slowly discover the backstory and eventually discover that [[spoiler:the game takes place on a floating island and you are a robot programmed to come, with Curly, NOT to kill the Mimiga to prevent their enslavement like the game leads you to believe, but to destroy the Demon Crown and, if he was found out, then Ballos would most likely have to be killed as well. However, a person seized control of the Demon Crown (it's never made clear on which of the four it is, but it's most likely not the Doctor, as it is implied that the expidition to the island was rather recent). The battle between the protagonists and the wearer resulted in the formers' amnesia and it is implied that the battle resulted in the holder's death. The war is talked about, something on the surface, but is never elaborated on.]]
** Another example is the [[spoiler:red flowers]]. They are mentioned often in the opening sections of the game but the player never really understands the significance until they see the power firsthand during the battle with [[spoiler:rabid Toroko]].
* In Chapter 1 of ''TalesOfMonkeyIsland'':
--> '''Guybrush:''' Listen. See this ring? It means that Elaine and I are married. Hitched. Cohabitating. Eternally betrothed. Till death do us part. Got it!?
--> '''[=LeChuck=]:''' Till death do you part, eh? We'll have to do something about that.
** And in Chapter 5:
--> [[spoiler:'''Guybrush:''' I've told you a million times, [=LeChuck=], I'm already married to--]]
--> [[spoiler:'''[=LeChuck=]:''' "Till DEATH do you part," Threepwood! And that part has already been taken care of!]]
* Gathered through three chapters of ''RuleOfRose'': ''Everlasting / True Love / I Am Yours''.
* ''VideoGame/GhostTrick'': "And it's almost dawn."
* ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicIITheSithLords'' has many characters using the word 'echo' to describe events or feelings without entirely knowing why, except for Kreia, who uses the word repeatedly while knowing exactly what she's talking about. The significance is gradually explained throughout the game.
** Also used several times throughout the game is this exchange, similar to ''PlanescapeTorment'', when The Exile is asked to describe The Force:
--> I only know what its loss feels like.
--> Then tell me of its absence.
* At the beginning of ''VideoGame/MortalKombat9'', just before being killed by [[BigBad Shao Kahn]] during Armageddon, [[BigGood Raiden]] [[FlingALightIntoTheFuture sends a message to his past self]]: ''"He must win"''. One of the main driving forces of the story focuses around the heroes trying to prevent Armageddon, slowly figuring out what exactly the prophecy means. And it's not until after [[spoiler:countless mistakes, as well as the forces of Outworld having conquered Earthrealm and slaughtered most of the heroes, that Raiden, finding a technicality in the rules, suddenly realizes who "he" refers to: Shao Kahn himself]].
** Also, expect to hear ''"family and clan"'' when there's anything concerning Scorpion or/and Sub-Zero.
* "Scope" in ''VideoGame/TheReconstruction''. Fitting, since it's the game's CentralTheme.
* ''AliceMadnessReturns'' has "What have you done?". Oddly enough, the answer is [[spoiler:nothing. Alice blames herself for the death of her family, and much of her CharacterDevelopment revolves around her realizing that she has no reason to feel guilty for it.]]
** 'Centaurs in Oxford' seems to show up occasionally in collectible Memories. The Queen of Hearts alludes to its true meaning near the climax.
* The first game of ''DigitalDevilSaga'' has the following sentence: "I am Colonel Beck." [[spoiler:That sentence explains what's wrong with the world they're living in.]]
* ''DriverSanFrancisco'' has the seemingly innocent phrase "eyes on the city" that Tanner keeps hearing people say to him, sometimes more directly than others. [[spoiler:It's the name of the news program that Tanner keeps hearing from the TV in his hospital room while in a coma.]]
* StarshipTitanic: What some people think of Leovinus [[spoiler: Nobody likes a smart ass]] turns out to be quite important if you've pressed the wrong button, as well as pertaining to the fate of the ship.
* In ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2's'' AlternateRealityGame, the word [[SdrawkcabName "Tobor"]] and the acronym [="MvM"=] kept popping up. The end result of the ARG was the new ManVersusMachine game mode.
* ''VideoGame/AsurasWrath'': "Wrath", for obvious reasons, as well as "Mantra".
** "Well Asura, is your wrath gone?" It ends with:
--->'''Asura''': My wrath, is finally... ''[[spoiler:[[WhatBeautifulEyes gone]].]]''
* In ProfessorLayton, some variation of: "Because that's what a gentleman does."
* ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain''. "History abhors a paradox".
** [[HeadsTailsEdge The coin landing on its edge."]]
* VideoGame/LittleInferno: "You can go as far as you like. But you can't ever go back."
* The VideoGame cross VisualNovel 'War of the Human Tanks': "To all the Human Tanks living in this world, cock the rifle in your hands, pull the pin of your hand grenade and aim the antiaircraft gun. Your enemy stands before you. Pull the triggers and annihilate them." It turns up at the start of all the Parts/Episodes, and seems to just be a recurring line talking about how the Human Tanks fight. It's when you get to Episode 13 that you realise [[spoiler: the enemy being refered to is [[TakeThatAudience the faceless commanders]] [[HumansAreTheRealMonsters who send countless of absolutely loyal beings to their deaths]]. And the line is telepathically spoken by the final boss, whose death will result in the eventual death of every Human Tank.]]
* PrinceOfPersiaTheSandsOfTime has "Honor and glory", often used sarcastically and bitterly by the Prince, since the honor and glory he (and his father) hoped to attain at the start of the game wasn't worth unwittingly starting the apocalypse or, the Prince later decides, sacking the city of the Maharajah in the prologue. The final chapter of the game is titled Honor and Glory, and the words are repeated again by the Prince [[spoiler: when he finally climbs the Tower of Dawn and finds the Hourglass, but loses Farah in the process]]. "Bravely I had fought and slain my enemies, proving my honor and glory. But though I could fight until the desert sands themselves were red with blood...[[spoiler:I could not bring back the dead.]]"
* ''VampireTheMasqueradeBloodlines:'' "Don't open it." (The 'it' in question is [[spoiler:the sarcophagus MacGuffin the plot revolves around,]] and [[BadEnding God]] [[FateWorseThanDeath help]] [[WhatAnIdiot you]] if you don't listen.)
* "The black wind howls..." in ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger''. Said first by [[DiscOneFinalBoss Magus]], then by [[CreepyChild Janus]] [[spoiler:who is actually Magus as a child.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{OFF}}'' gives us "The switch is now on [[TitleDrop OFF.]]" It's a recurring puzzle element, [[spoiler:and the last piece of dialogue in the game's official ending, as The Batter ends the world itself.]]
* ''VideoGame/SouthParkTheStickOfTruth'': "Never fart on anyone's balls."
* ''VideoGame/DeadlyRoomsOfDeath'' has "The Grand Event". The series gradually reveals that this refers to the Empire's plans to [[spoiler:wipe out the aboveground civilization]], which Beethro must prevent.
* [[http://www.kongregate.com/games/2darray/you-find-yourself-in-a-room "You find yourself in a room."]]
* ''VideoGame/CallofDutyBlackOps'' has "[[BigBad Dragovich]]... [[TheDragon Kravchenko]]... [[EvilGenius Steiner]]... '''All''' must die..."
* ''VideoGame/TheStanleyParable'': "...and Stanley was happy."
** THE END IS NEVER THE END IS NEVER THE END
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/HigurashiNoNakuKoroNi'' has "I'm sorry" and "USO DA!" ("THAT'S A LIE!"), both quite common phrases in themselves, but both clear indicators that things are about to get worse.
* ''VisualNovel/UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'': "Without love, it cannot be seen." [[spoiler:or "Without love, the truth cannot be seen."]] Also appears in different variations in both anime and game openings.
* ''VisualNovel/GSenjouNoMaou'' has "Oh come, lovely child! Oh come thou with me! For many a game will I play there with thee!", from ''Literature/TheErlKing'' by Creator/JohannWolfgangVonGoethe.
* In ''VisualNovel/ShikkokuNoSharnoth'' several phrases and questions are repeated, including the most common 'Have you given up yet?' and 'And thus I deny tomorrow.'
* ''VisualNovel/{{Ever17}}'': "This story is not an end yet. Because only you are in the infinity loop."
** "Infinity loop" is pretty much the arc phrase of the whole Infinity series.
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight:'' "I am the bone of my sword/My body is made of swords."
* ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters'': "Do you know the secret of this world?"
* Spoofed in ''[[VisualNovel/SteinsGate Steins;Gate]]'', wherein Okabe Rintarou constantly attributes unusual and serendipitous occurrences to the decisions of a mysterious entity called the Steins Gate. What is this Steins Gate? Just a nonsense term Okabe made up [[InvokedTrope because it sounds cryptically meaningful]]. [[spoiler:At the end of the series, the Steins Gate is revealed to be a world line that lies outside of any [[RubberBandHistory Attractor Fields]] and thus has no predestined outcome... [[SubvertedTrope and is only called Steins Gate because Okabe named it]].]]
* ''VisualNovel/DanganRonpa'': "Despair", and also "hope".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''BrokenSaints'' has a great many, most notably [[{{Tagline}} "What would you give to know the truth?"]] "This was not meant for me!" the LEAR/SPEC/SILO [[SignificantAnagram anagram]], and anything printed on the Vagrant's board.
* Several Strong Bad Emails in a row in ''WebAnimation/HomestarRunner'' featured the words "DNA evidence," which later turned out to lead to a cartoon of the same name, where the seemingly out-of-context utterances were explained. (The last email to feature these words only did this in an EasterEgg, which involved Homestar wearily saying these words after a long silence, as if he was obliged to continue the gag.)
* ''[[RedVsBlue Do you ever wonder why we're here?]]''
** It's one of life's great mysteries, isn't it?
*** Masterful example in that it originally wasn't intended to be one. Throughout the Blood Gulch Chronicles, any instances of it were just supposed to be [[CallBack Call Backs]] to the first episode. In later seasons, it crops up a few more times as a simultaneous RunningGag and ArcWords.
*** And then Sarge used it to great effect at the end of the ''Recollection'' as part of his RousingSpeech.
** "Memory is the key," from Reconstruction onwards.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Webcomics]]
* ''Webcomic/DivineBells'': Ga-bi's introductory words are "In a place of camellias drenched in red, I will be there...where it begins".
* Parodied in the StickFigureComic ''StickmanAndCube'': For about nine strips, every comic contains the word "potato salad" somewhere. When the characters call the author on it, he admits that the words ''were'' foreshadowing something: they were foreshadowing their own exposition, and meant absolutely nothing.
* "Nothing Dead Here" in the "Kesandru's Well" arc of ''SluggyFreelance''.
** And "Nosce Te Ipsum" (Latin for "Know Thyself") throughout all the Oasis storylines.
** Every storyline has its own, and there are several that span multiple storylines.
** "Sluggy" and "Freelance," separately, [[spoiler:halves of a beacon set up by Googol to call those capable of defeating K'Z'K]].
* ''IrregularWebcomic'': The cat and rat who've started chasing each other through all the time-travel settings might count as an arc image. [[spoiler:As it turns out, it was setting up a BrickJoke referencing a classic GuideDangit moment from a Sierra adventure game.]]
** Shortly before several simultaneous disasters caused the universe to end and restart, multiple characters proclaimed "I've got a bad feeling about this."
** In 2010, the phrase "Greatness is often linked with insanity" keepping up.
* ''{{Darken}}'': '''''The Worm Lord is Rising!'''''
* The robots in ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'' seem to respond to every mention of a woman by the name of Jeanne with "She died and we did nothing." This was cleared up much later when it was revealed that [[spoiler:she was used as a sacrifice in order to "fortify the Annan Waters." Diego (the robots' creator)'s final words on his deathbed were along those lines:]]
-->[[spoiler:"She was...all alone. Waiting...when she died. And I did nothing."]]
** Ironically [[spoiler:it wasn't even ''her'' who they killed. It was the forest-dweller (the "traitor") who she'd fallen madly in love with. She simply remained there, [[IWillWaitForYou slowly turning]] into a murderous ghost]].
*** Yeah, but that makes it all rather worse. The narration implies that [[spoiler:the magic rooted her to the spot and she stood there, unable to move. Diego went about his life in the castle for days as she [[FridgeHorror starved to death]]]].
** Also, in response to inquiries as to the method of the construction of the Court, everyone replies, "It grew from the seed bismuth."
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' has a lot of words and phrases that repeat regularly, most of which are simply {{Running Gag}}s, but any time the word "ascend" or some variation on it appears, you know what's going on is both important and probably [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome awesome]]. "Mobius Double Reacharound" and "Make her pay" also qualify as minor examples.
** "[[YouCantFightFate He is already here.]]"
** "The Ultimate Riddle" shows up quite a bit as well.
** Throughout the fifth act, the word "scratch" showed up quite a bit until we finally found out what it is: [[spoiler:a ResetButton for the universe, and integral to the plot.]]
*** It even gets lampshaded in a predictably frustrated way by Karkat.
--> CG: THE SCRATCH WILL [[spoiler:REBOOT YOUR SESSION. YOUR WHOLE UNIVERSE ACTUALLY. SO SOMEWHERE IN THIS DREADFUL ABYSS, THAT NEW SESSION WILL START UP IN ITS OWN INCIPISPHERE,]] FROM SCRATCH.\\
CG: LOOK AT THAT, ANOTHER PUN BECAUSE OF USING THAT FUCKING WORD EVERY OTHER SENTENCE! KILL ME NOW.
** "Luck doesn't actually matter" is another minor example, as it is central to Vriska and Terezi's arc in Act 5 Act 2.
** "Years in the future... but not many."
** Count the number of times the words "Ascend", "Descend", "Rise Up", "Wake Up", and "Enter" appear in page titles. And the number of times the page in question has a WhamMoment.
** The oft-repeated question, "What will you do?" may also count. It mainly functions as a ShoutOut to the text adventure games that inspired ''Homestuck,'' but it also [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic underlines the comic's themes of futility and uselessness]] (because so often there is no obvious answer), and a variation of the line follows nearly [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters every]] EstablishingCharacterMoment.
* "Beware the night of the five lights." in ''WebComic/LsEmpire''. [[OneOfUs The authors]] flat out state so in the AltText.
* ''This is all happening for a reason'', along with slightly different phrasings in the [[NuzlockeComics Nuzlocke]] comic strip.
* In ''Webcomic/DresdenCodak'', the poem "At twilight's end, the shadows crossed..." first shows up in [[http://dresdencodak.com/2006/03/02/zhuangzi/ Zhuangzi]] and is then seen inscribed in some ruins in [[http://dresdencodak.com/2012/12/24/dark-science-24/ The Heart of the Giant]]. [[spoiler:It seems to be about worlds being replaced, as well as reality-dream confusion, quite possibly tie-ing into the Department of Opposition's denial of the entire Hob storyline.]]
* ''Webcomic/MSPaintMasterpieces'' has the phrase "happy ending" makes multiple appearances throughout ''No Future''.
** It's used [[http://ferretcomic.com/archives/Comic321.png here]], [[http://ferretcomic.com/archives/Comic539.png here]], [[http://ferretcomic.com/archives/Comic866.png here]], [[http://ferretcomic.com/archives/Comic1000.png and here]].
* the title of the BDSM slice of life ''Webcomic/{{Sunstone}}'' is the SafeWord Ally gives her subs, and has often been hinted as having a fair bit of back story to it.
* The fantasy comic ''Webcomic/{{Gaia}}'' is described on its [[http://www.sandraandwoo.com/gaia/about/ About page]] to be a story about "[...] the answer to Lilith's simple, meek, world-shattering question: [[http://www.sandraandwoo.com/gaia/2012/02/10/the-red-hall-039/ 'Will you come along?'"]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original]]
* ''IlivaisX'': "Why do you fight? Why do you exist?" More prevalent but not as unanswered is "Where are we going?"
* ''[[ImAMarvelAndImADC Marvel/DC]]'' has "[[TimeForPlanB Plan Q blows]]."
* WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall had this for its major villains: "He's coming for you!" for [[spoiler:Mechakara]], "All he sees, he conquers" for [[spoiler:Lord Vyce]], and "A piece of the world is missing" for [[spoiler:The Entity[=/=]MissingNo]].
** The ''Ghost of the Machine'' story arc had "Are you afraid?" as its arc words.
* ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'': You ever wonder why we're here?
** "Reconstruction" had "Memory is the key", which was lampshaded a season later by Caboose.
--> '''Caboose:''' I thought we were done with that part.
*** It's lampshaded again in Season 10.
--> '''Church:''' See? Proximity is the key.
--> '''Tucker:''' I thought memory was the key.
--> '''Caboose:''' [[CallBack Yeah, and the sword. Sword is the key too!]]
* ''MarbleHornets'' has "The Ark", the importance of which still remains unknown.
-->''From the start, this was a game for us. Not anymore. I'm coming for you. And you will lead me... to the ark.''
* And in ''EverymanHYBRID'', we have HABIT.
-->''The good doctor is not so lucky as to be dead, just dealing with some old habits.''
* In fellow ''Slenderman'' series ''TribeTwelve'', there has been quite a bit of unexplained recurring ''visual'' themes - beyond Slendy himself, of course. And recently, with the introduction of [[spoiler:The Order]], there are a great number of enigmatic phrases being tossed out in a shockingly direct manner.
-->''Is he what they say in the ancient texts? Is he truly a god? Have you ever seen someone pass through to the Fourth World? Have you ever seen someone pass on in glorious exhaltation?''
* "Wiki/MultiversesWiki" has "Hail Tiamat."
** R'LYEH
* ''WebVideo/BenDrowned'': "You shouldn't have done that."
** Also "You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?" and the title itself, "BEN DROWNED" (which appears as the names of the save files on the haunted cartridge).
* From ''WebVideo/WormtoothNation'': "The sky is infinite."
* From WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick's Dark Nella Saga: "Embrace your inner fangirl". {{Squee}} over pretty boys and musicals is what manages to bring the old Nella back.
* The SCPFoundation occasionally features some with individual [=SCP=]s: for example, [[http://www.scp-wiki.net/scp-1782 "There's a hole in the wall in the bottom of the floor."]]
** Does the Black Moon howl?
** "Don't try to deny it"
* TheWanderersLibrary has frequent mention of stars in the Elrich setting.
* Multiple from WebOriginal/WelcomeToNightVale:
** 'Perfect' and 'imperfect' in general, but also; "No X is perfect. It becomes perfect when you learn to accept it for what it is."
** "The Smiling God."
** "A dark planet, lit by no sun." Appears to be some sort of death omen.
** "There's a blinking light up on the mountain..."
** "The unraveling of all things."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''XavierRenegadeAngel'', "Taste The Pain" seems to be this, or it could just be a strange sort of RunningGag. It seems to be spoken at least OncePerEpisode
** The phrase is usually "Take that! Taste the pain!"
** There's always an echo after the word "Life".
* One episode of ''HomeMovies'' reveals that Brendan ends each of his movies with the same line -- "It's time to pay the price." He doesn't even realize this until Paula points it out.
* Numerous in ''WesternAnimation/TwelveOunceMouse'', including "aspirind," "Meat Wars," and "CJ Muff."
* "[[AcmeProducts Acme]]" stands in for "Rosebud" in the ''TinyToonAdventures'' episode that parodies ''Film/CitizenKane''. Subverted when it turns out Montana Max actually said "acne".
* In the Jerry Reed episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheNewScoobyDooMovies'', the word "FEBAG" is seen written on walls in a haunted house several times, causing Shaggy and Scooby to freak out when they see or hear it. At the end, [[spoiler: Velma [[SongsInTheKeyOfLock plays the notes]] F-E-B-A-G on a xylophone and reveals a cache of stolen money.]]
* "What have I... what have ''they'' done?" This question is asked only twice in {{WesternAnimation/Gargoyles}}, but illustrates the circular nature of revenge and the danger of an IgnoredEpiphany.
* "Wake up" and its variations in the WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}} episode, "The Sting".
* ''ScoobyDooMysteryIncorporated'':
** Season One started out with "This has all happened before."
** Season Two introduced "Nibiru is coming."
** "The Dog Dies" was also used, although not as frequently as the others.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' did the one about Lisa finding the skeleton of an angel with the words "The End is near" inscribed. It was a publicity stunt.
** Much later on, the BuiltWithLEGO episode "Brick Like Me" has "everything fits together and no one gets hurt."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Some advertising campaigns tend to do this.
* ThisVeryWiki.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilroy_was_here Kilroy Was Here]], a piece of graffiti used by the US military, with no clear meaning or origin.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Roleplay]]
* ''Roleplay/DestroyTheGodmodder'': For Act Two of the second thread, "Invasion." That sums up the entire act.

[[/folder]]

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[[TvTropesWillRuinYourLife "Will Ruin Your Life."]] What does that mean?