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Shocking Swerve
"Think of it this way: if Russo was managing the local Pizza Hut, you'd order a pizza and they'd deliver a newspaper. Sure, it was a surprise, but it didn't make much sense, nor did you want to order from them again. But it sure fooled you, didn't it?"
RD Reynolds on Vince Russo's writing style, from the book WrestleCrap

A good Twist Ending is surprising, and seems to come out of left field. You're shocked at first, but then you look back and realize that that's what they were building to all along. It takes a great writer to pull off believable twists on a regular basis.

That doesn't stop less-than-great writers from trying, however.

The shocking swerve is a kind of twist made just to have a twist. There's little-to-no rhyme or reason involved, no foreshadowing, and no way that the viewer could have ever seen it coming. They just pulled it out of nowhere due to a possibly misguided desire to "shock" the viewer. Characters may be derailed, subplots may be ruined, and generally everything that's occurred so far may be thrown out the window, just to pull off this twist.

Contrast The Untwist, where an apparent Red Herring turns out to be the real explanation instead of a set up for a twist. See also Gambit Roulette, Cruel Twist Ending, Mandatory Twist Ending, Stranger Behind the Mask, Gainax Ending and Ass Pull.

A proper shocking swerve needs to feel like a complete contrivance, often with poor reasoning as to how it works. Therefore, it's indexed under Sturgeon's Tropes, but it can still be a positive thing if the tone of the rest of the work fits with it, or if the work is So Bad, It's Good to begin with. Either way, some element of humor, intentional or unintentional, is required to get the most out of this trope.

Beware of spoilers.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • The third movie of Rebuild of Evangelion: Shinji's actions at the end of the second triggered Third Impact; it's now 14 years later, the Pilots have all been trapped in their teenage states, fears of a Fourth Impact that will finish the annihilation of humanity are looming, and humanity hates Shinji in particular and the Children in general for causing all this.
  • For some viewers, Code Geass R2 Turn 21, where it's revealed that Marianne (who for most of the series had been painted as practically a saint) not only fully supports her husband's Instrumentality plan, but she's committed multiple Kick the Dog moments herself, including using her Geass to possess a young girl after her death, and not particularly caring about the Mind Rape her daughter went through. And that's only one of the plot twists thrown into this episode.
  • Bleach:
    • The Espada ranks were stated by a fraccion, Shawlong, to go from 1-10. However, it's eventually revealed that the Espada ranks actually go from 0-9. Yammy switches from 10 to 0 when released. Word of God clarified that Espada ranks are based on amount of power, not ability to use it. Yammy has the most power but is incapable of wielding it properly. His incapacity was foreshadowed from the beginning but the rank change was completely left-field.
    • In the Zanpakuto filler arc, Muramasa claims to have killed his master and that he wants to liberate all zanpakutos from their owners. It transpires that he's using the zanpakutou rebellion to distract the shinigami so he can free his sealed master Kouga Kuchiki. The closest thing to a foreshadow is Byakuya's fake Heel-Face Turn, but that act doesn't foreshadow Kouga's existence, it only foreshadows Byakuya wanting Muramasa defeated.
  • Il Palazzo in the last episode Excel♥Saga (ignoring the non-canon 26th episode) abandoning his dreams of conquest to fall down a hole with Excel. Though, given that it is a Gag Series, the lack of buildup works fine and doubles as Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle lives for this. Basically, every plot point after Acid Tokyo qualifies. They even sneak a couple into the epilogue.
    • Because of this, its sister series ×××HOLiC, which is fine when left on its own, periodically suffers from it. One particularly notable instance is when events of Tsubasa reveal Watanuki, who was previously stated to be an orphan (which was pointed out explicitly by a skilled fortune teller), turns out to not only be the son of versions of Sakura and Syaoran that actually are still alive (said fortune teller almost too conveniently later comes back to retract her statement), but is also an alternate version of Syaoran, and technically wasn't even supposed to exist. He also apparently visited the wish shop once before to get himself mind wiped and can't remember a lot of things about himself, but didn't even notice that something was wrong with his memories until he was asked a particular question and he realized he couldn't answer. And none of this is even adequately explained in his own series. Wut.
  • School Days (manga only) Kotonoha & Sekai abruptly going Ax-Crazy in the last chapter with virtually no foreshadowing at all, just to shock the reader at the story having one of the game's few bad endings as opposed to the majority of happy endings. Note this occurs only in the Manga, the Anime does a much better job of building up Kotonoha & Sekai's gradually decreasing mental stability making it much more a Twist Ending.
  • In Naruto:
    • The revelation that Itachi Uchiha, the man who had murdered his entire clan, joined the evil organization Akatsuki, and Mind Raped his little brother twice (using his massacre of their family), turns out to be a loving brother under orders from his village the entire time.
    • In the same vein, the revelation that Yashamaru was lying to Gaara when he claimed that his mother hated him under orders from the Kazekage, as part of some utterly nonsensical test of Gaara's mental stability.
    • The climax of the Fourth Ninja War arc: while the previous major villains were established in prior story arcs, even if some of them had been explicitly stated to have been dead prior to the story, the reveal that Kaguya and Black Zetsu, the former who was only mentioned ten chapters or so before their first appearance and latter was created by Madara, was actually the Big Bad the entire time who was the driving force behind every single negative event in the entire series (including them having manipulated every single Uchiha who was ever evil) came completely out of nowhere.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: Word of God actually admitted that the fact that there turned out to be a sixth Dragon Birthmark was one of these; while it was stated to have been planned from the beginning of the series, the writers felt that dropping any hints at all would've ruined it.
  • The ending of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, which might as well have been Gainax self-parodying their usual ending tendencies, most certainly qualifies. While the angel sisters are walking back to their home after the already mind-screwing final battle with the Big Bad, Stocking casually asks if her katanas could cut an angel, Panty says she thinks so, then out of nowhere Stocking starts chopping up Panty in 666 pieces and while everyone is gasping in surprise (just like the viewers), she just says "Sorry, I am actually a demon", the BigBad reappears out of Brief's privates, Garterbelt's head explodes ("Oh My God!"), Big Bad lectures Brief on the trail of Panty's pieces he'll have to pick up to get her back and reopen the Hell's mouth, Garterbelt's head unexplodes ("God My Oh!"), and the Big Bad and Stocking walk away, while the other characters are still visibly shocked, even the Daemon Sisters!. Cue the "To Be Continued in Next Season" sign.
  • Master of Martial Hearts: The 5th and final episode of the OVA is this or a Twist Ending. Aya finds out that every one of her friends was a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who had manipulated her right from the beginning. They mentally broke all the losers of the tournament, making them into "perfect women" to be sold into sexual slavery. Aya's "friends" did this because her parents did the same thing to their parents, and they want to kill her to get back at her mother. Then Aya's mother shows up and kills them off, revealing to her that this is a Cycle of Revenge going back to their grandparents. So Kill 'Em All ensues, with Aya limping away from the blown up building. Then her so-called best friend's mother gets a visit from someone that she is very scared to see... There was next to zero Foreshadowing, like Aya finding out that her boyfriend is in charge of the tournament, and her 5th clairvoyant opponent warning her that her friends are not friends and that this is all just a game. Still, no one could have expected an ending like that!
  • Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Leaping Through Time has 2 in the finale. Ryouma's digimon partner, who had previously barely talked at all and showed no personality turns out to be the big bad in disguise, brainwashing his tamer and an even "better" one where the previous generic evil Big Bad is now a good guy, and a human with a clock digimon (despite previously having nothing to do with time) wandering through dimensions collecting humans to beat up the new big bad he inadvertently created. WHAT A TWEEST!
    • In addition, people savvy enough to pick out symbolism relating to time will feel some ending whiplash. The vocal command to enter the Pocket Dimension is "Time Shift", the odd old guy who appears to be behind everything has a clock digimon partner, and the whole season is called "The Young Hunters Leaping Through TIME". But it turns out, in the end, that this symbolism was all... pointless!
    • One may argue that the swerve was that this series actually had a continuous plot working up to a Big Bad...
  • Gilgamesh's appearance and the possibility of his existence in Fate/stay night isn't foreshadowed in the slightest, at least in the anime. Yet he still manages to appear at a very crucial moment to resolve all the conflict in the arc.
  • Haiyore! Nyarko-san spoofs this concept later on, especially in Nyarko-San W. Genre Savvy Mahiro begins trying to spot the Chekhov's Gun in advance, operating on the logic that "Everything we've been through so far has had a really stupid resolution" and therefore trying to guess what would be the most nonsensical ending. So far, his batting average is pretty low... because while his logic is dead-on, the Gun is always something so minor he never even considered it, which makes the conclusion even dumber than he could have imagined.
  • Wandering Son
    • The ending to the anime came off as this to many people, especially manga readers. It ends with Nitori accepting puberty and with many implications that both Takatsuki and Nitori will grow out of their gender dysphoria. This is in sharp contrast with the manga, where the same scenes are shown in a more negative light and the dysphoria just gets worse after her voice starts cracking.
    • The manga ending too with Takatsuki not wanting to transition and deciding to continue living as a girl. While it is Truth in Television fans saw the way Shimura wrote it, essentially randomly, to be full of Unfortunate Implications and otherwise go against everything we had been shown prior.
  • Regina, Cure Ace and Cure Ace's identity in Doki Doki Pretty Cure can be seen as this. The anime goes to great lengths to have Mana and Regina bond, Regina becoming stronger through friendship. Fans even saw the clues that seem to point that something big would happen to Regina, most likely her performing a High Heel-Face Turn and join the team as another Cure. Come the halfway point... DENIED. Regina's father, King Selfish, brainwashes her even more, making her even more evil, Cure Ace shows up and ends up being a nine-year-old girl that hadn't been alluded to at all.

    Comic Books 
  • The bulk of recent "big events" in comic books, such as Avengers Disassembled, House of M, and Civil War in Marvel Comics, and Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis in DC, have been focused on creating Shocking Swerves that often seem aimed specifically at tweaking or even outright insulting fans with any emotional attachment to long-term continuity.

    This isn't a new phenomenon by any means. The DC Comics Crisis Crossover Armageddon 2001 (back in 1991!) had a Mystery Villain called Monarch, who was originally meant to be the hero Captain Atom. The problem was that the foreshadowing for this was so obvious that fans figured it out well before the story was over and posted about it on the Internet. The DC brass, desperate to preserve the shock value, changed the ending at the last minute and had a completely different character, Hawk (one of the few characters who the story up to that point had explicitly said couldn't be the Monarch), Freak Out and turn evil even though it didn't make sense, because his series was getting cancelled anyway.

    When they reintroduced a "new" Monarch to be one of the villains in Countdown to Final Crisis, they didn't even bother hiding his identity anymore - Captain Atom, natch. Speaking of Countdown, Bob and Solomon suddenly being revealed to have been working together all along. Comes out of nowhere and contradicts everything Bob and Solomon have done up until that point.
  • In Star Wars: Legacy, the revelation that Morrigan Corde is Nyna Calixte. Wookiepedia even says that the authors were explicitly told not to drop any hints, so as not to ruin the "surprise".
  • One of the biggest in comic history happened when Grant Morrison's run on X-Men finished with the reveal that the wise Eastern mentor character Xorn Kuan-Yin was actually Magneto, who then proceeds to go berserk, level Manhattan, and force humans into death camps. This defies logic on a number of levels. First off Magneto had been seen still living in Genosha shortly before the time Xorn joined the team. Secondly, Xorn used healing powers which Magneto lacks. Finally, it was complete Character Derailment; Morrison turned Magneto a Well-Intentioned Extremist holocaust survivor with a Malcolm X like philosophy into A Nazi by Any Other Name (though the alien mind control spores may have had something to do with that). The reason for this was apparently because of the Broad Strokes style he uses Morrison did not see Magneto as anything other than "a mad old terrorist twat." Eventually, Marvel would Retcon this as being "Xorn's twin brother, possessed by the sentient mold Sublime, pretending to be Magneto, pretending to be Xorn". It's been said that Morrison was forced to make it Magneto by Marvel editorial. This fact and Morrison supposedly resenting it might account for a lot of the issues of the reveal. It's been said by people who apparently a) missed the unredacted version of Morrison's proposal being printed in one of the hardcover collected editions, where Xorn was pitched to Marvel as Magneto in disguise before the run even started, b) missed the many interviews after the fact where Morrison said it was always his plan, and c) missed the various subtle clues planted virtually from the first that Xorn was Magneto, as collated here.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic actually manages to have a revelation that's simultaneously a Shocking Swerve and The Unreveal. While many readers had guessed that Mad Scientist Demagol had switched places with Warrior Poet Rohlan Dyre (using the fact that as Mandalorians, both wear full body armor, to conceal the switch) as much as three years before it was explicitly revealed to have happened, no one predicted that Demagol's true identity was Antos Wyrick, Jarael's childhood mentor and the father of her nemesis Chantique; it had never even been hinted at that Demagol had ever had a previous identity.
  • Spider-Man
    • There were more than a few Shocking Swerves in The Clone Saga. One issue in particular ended with the discovery of what seemed to be the corpse of the original clone, indicating that it was neither Ben nor Peter and raising the mystery of what the double's origin really was. It turned out that the writers didn't have a clue, they just thought it was a cool twist.
    • A similar situation was with the "death" of Peter and MJ's baby. The issue where that happened ended with an associate of Norman Osborn- the perpetrator of the entire Clone Saga and whose resurrection was a shocking swerve in and of itself- taking a mysterious "parcel" and heading off on a boat to parts unknown. Savy readers would have suspected that this would be the Parker's child, whose death was faked. Turns out this wasn't the case. Although later revealed to be just a cat, the creators revealed that there was never intention to have the Parker's child survive and they just planned on endlessly teasing the fans with this with no plans of resolving the issue.
  • The body-swap of Terra and the Ultra-Humanite in the Power Girl ongoing series did not feature any foreshadowing or rational explanation, and actually seems to directly contradict previous established facts (In the issue before the reveal, Satanna actually comments that her sources are still looking for Humanite, and so far have not had any luck in locating him). The conflict itself was handled well and lead into one of the best issues of the series, but the actual swap came completely out of nowhere and even Terra's half-explanation after she was rescued does not clear up all the points, since she refers to lengthy torture sessions and stays in a psychiatric hospital, even though the entire affair occurred in only a single day. Good idea, good follow through, but horrible lead-in.
  • The end of Wildstorm's six-issue Friday the 13th miniseries reveals Jason is powered and driven to kill by the vengeful spirits of a Native tribe massacred on the shores of Crystal Lake centuries ago. The series was still pretty good, regardless.

    Fanfic 
  • In the story within a story of Equestria: A History Revealed, the ending to the Hearts and Hooves Day legend certainly counts as this, in which near the end of the love potion debacle, a giant ponyeating dragon suddenly descends upon high and roasts every pony alive in the kingdom. But it's Played for Laughs though.
    • By the title of the book it was pulled from, "How the Sea-Pony Wished Upon a Star and Unknowingly Started Racial Prosecution Under An Emergent Fascist Regime: A Collection of Filly’s Tales and Legends That Start Off Whimsical But End in Destruction and Death", it seemed as though that was only the first of many legends that ended up in such a way.
  • The Face-Heel Turn of Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle in Inner Demons is regarded as this, given the severity with which they abandon their old lives and the high unlikelihood of such a thing happening.
  • Happens in pretty much every chapter of Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami. Past swerves include: Light's dad is trying to kill L! Light's dad works for L! Sayu stole Misa's death note! Takada is Naomi! L tried to kill Light's mom! The royal death note was fake! Dark has an everything note! Light has a twin sister! Part of the fun is trying to guess what ludicrous Ass Pull will happen next.
  • In the Death Note fic Gods Of This New World out of nowhere L is piloting a harrier jet! (Wouldn't he have to sit normally?)
  • "And Then John Was a Zombie." Quoted is the second-to-last paragraph of DOOM: Repercussions of Evil, spoken by Cernel Joson (presumably, as he had been speaking on the radio before) after John Stalvern insists that he has to fight the demons. This contradicts Joson sending John out to fight the demons.
  • At the end of Latias Journey, it turns out Mewgle had stuffed everyone, including the Physical God Big Bad and Big Good, into a giant virtual-reality simulation so he could take over the multiverse. And then Leo the Squirtle comes out of nowhere and beats the crap out of him.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Dark Shadows, it is revealed that the daughter in the family is actually a werewolf. This might have been all fine and good except for the fact that there was absolutely no way to predict this happening, the movie ended 10 minutes later, and the reveal had ABSOLUTELY no effect on the movie. The cause of the reveal was explained away in half a line and questioned by no one. "Yes, I'm a werewolf. Let's not make a big deal about it" almost came across as a taunt towards the audience, challenging them to try understanding what just happened. Well, at least some people thought it was funny.
    • There is some foreshadowing, but it's pretty minor stuff and easy to miss (or for that matter, to notice and dismiss).
  • The two endings that didn't make the final cut of the thriller Joy Ride both had Rusty Nail being killed, but the ending that made it to theaters had him get shot numerous times by police, only to make yet another threatening CB call to the heroes just as the movie ends. Oh no, he's Not Quite Dead; he just posed a victim in his truck to get shot in his place! It would have made for a nice twist except for the fact that he had a live and unblindfolded hostage in his passenger compartment who would have seen the entire ruse being set up. Not only does she not tell the police about it, she's just as surprised as the rest of them when Rusty calls again. Hell, with a shocking twist like that, who needs logic? The direct-to-video sequel did it again, with Rusty Nail's truck going over a cliff with no way he could have jumped to safety. Cue the "surprise" epilogue where he's back in a new truck, picking up victims again.
  • Likewise, the ending of Perfect Stranger (with Halle Berry and Bruce Willis) has the one character who could not possibly be the killer (Halle Berry's character) be the killer. This is why you don't let test audiences pick the ending.
  • At the end of the 2007 film The Mist, convinced that they are doomed to a gruesome death, the protagonist kills the other 4 members of his party (including his own child) with the last 4 bullets he has. About a minute later the army show up, along with thousands of survivors they have rescued. Some critics praised the director for making this bold nihilistic statement. Others thought it was a ridiculous and contrived ending which hurt the rest of the film. Stephen King, writer of the original novella, has gone on record saying he approved it. There were shots of National Guard troops going into the town on trucks to foreshadow it, though.
  • In the Ashley Judd/Morgan Freeman movie High Crimes, Judd's character spends the entire movie trying to clear her soldier husband of war crimes charges (with Freeman's help). Only to find at the very end after they succeed in clearing him... Yeah, he did it. And then some. And then he tries to kill Judd because she knows about it. But she only knows - and not just suspects - because he tells her so.
  • Lifeforce wanted to have a Tomato in the Mirror ending by having one of the protagonists revealed as a space vampire. It would have worked, too, if this didn't contradict the rest of the movie.
  • Monster A-Go Go, featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, is probably the worst offender out there. It featured a man who was turned into a radioactive giant. Near the end, people are going after the giant only to find out the man was found elsewhere, and the giant just disappeared like he never existed. That swerve makes the entire movie inexplicable, since there's absolutely no way anything in the movie makes sense after the twist.
  • Mark Of The Vampire: The dead man was killed by a person who deliberately faked a vampire attack. The "vampires" were actors hired to trap that murderer. All the main characters (other than the killer) were in on the trap.
  • The independent feature Bloodletting, about a woman who tracks down a serial killer so he can show her how to kill, has one of the most Shocking Swerves of Shocking Swerves: It turns out the supposed killer the girl tracks down was not the serial killer she was looking for, but a pathetically lonely guy who pretended to be the one she was after to make her stay. They both wind up dead after the man has killed half a dozen people. He had never killed before he met her, mind you.
  • The 1974 car chase movie Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry. They got away! Oh, they crash and die.
  • The revelation near the end of I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer that the killer actually is Ben Willis, the killer from the previous two films. He's become some vaguely demonic entity, apparently summoned by the actions of the protagonists in the opening.
  • The Wizard of Gore is in love with this trope. Montag's murder method seems to be mass hypnosis, but the film points out repeatedly that there are several events that contradict that. Combine that with an ending where not only do we have a scene where the two main characters lampshade how unlikely the events were before one shows themselves to be the killer in disguise, but then the other person in the conversation reveals that it was her manipulations the entire time, fooling the villain. And then the villain wakes up and realizes it was All Just a Dream.
  • The end of Pieces has the mix and match corpse the killer made out of bodyparts taken from his victims randomly come to life and rip a guy's balls off.
  • The killer in High Tension turns out to be Marie's evil split personality, manifested as a filthy trucker. Watch the film with this information in mind and realize how little sense it really makes.
  • Parodied in The Man With Two Brains. The oft-mentioned Elevator Killer turns out to be none other than Merv Griffin. The only foreshadowing leading to this is a scene where a character watches his talk show on TV.
  • M. Night Shyamalan entertained audiences with genuine twist endings in The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable before resorting to shocking swerves in an attempt to perpetuate this successful formula. Take The Happening: Plants have gone homicidal for no reason! Also, plants have the ability to kill people now! With, ummm... spores! Shut up!
  • The 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives tries for a Twist Ending, but just ends up contradicting itself on what the wives actually are. (Although, in the movie's partial defense, this was a problem in the book as well.)
  • The 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes ends with the hero returning to Earth in his own time, only to find that it is ruled by apes, and the Lincoln Memorial has been replaced with a statue of the movie's Big Bad (who won't even be born until 3 thousand years in the future, on a completely different planet). The filmmakers have admitted that they have no explanation for this, and that it was only done to be surprising. A possible interpretation is that he thinks he's gone back to earth, but in reality just made another hop forward, to where ape society looks a lot like the human society he came from. This might generate more and harder questions than it answers though. An alternative explanation offered by one of the film's actresses, which she had simply assumed was the official explanation, was that the Big Bad had gone back in time as well and had simply arrived at an earlier point than the protagonist.
  • In The Nun, it turns out there isn't a killer ghost nun, it was the main character all along. Under scrutiny, this makes even less sense than Haute Tension's similar twist.
  • Dead Silence: You know, it would have been nice to state that also human dolls are to be considered. Or that they exist at all.
  • The ending to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was a stunner and one of the reasons the film is considered a classic today. It's since been Busted as Blanche's injuries would clearly not match up to someone who had been hit with a moving vehicle as opposed to being driving the car when it crashed.
  • The obscure Larry Cohen movie God Told Me To sets itself up as a supernatural thriller, then becomes a sci-fi movie as the outer space origin of the movie's killer is revealed. Then the movie becomes a Shocking Swerve pileup as we find out the hero is related to the Evil Space Jesus villain and has the same alien powers he possesses. Oh, Evil Space Jesus is a hermaphrodite. Who wants to mate with the hero. His own brother. Via a chest vagina. It's a weird, weird movie...
  • In the ending of Christmas Evil, the Santa Claus wannabe main character is driving a van after he knocks out his brother. Suddenly, a mob carrying Torches and Pitchforks appear before him, and he drives over a bridge... and the movie takes a sudden fantastic turn as the van keeps going, and flies into the night sky. According to the director, this is actually a Dying Dream.
  • In Cut, a group of students are being killed off while working on an unfinished slasher film rumored to be cursed. In the end, it turns out the killer is the one from the film itself. He's come to life through very poorly explained means involving "the creative energies put into the film" or some nonsense like that.
  • Parodied at the end of the first Scary Movie, where the killer is revealed to be the retarded Doofy, who has already gotten away and is shown taking off his disguise, and is then picked up by his girlfriend and drives off into the sunset. Earlier in the film the girlfriend had no idea that he was even the mastermind, but they're revealed to have been working together in the ending.
  • Many villains in the Spy Kids films start off posing as good guys, but one particular backstab in the second, that of Felix Gumm, comes out of pretty much nowhere and adds pretty much nothing to the plot; the role he plays post-heel turn could fairly easily have been filled by an ordinary Mook. And in the third film, he's back to the good side with just as little explanation.
  • The Seventies Ten Little Murder Victims movie Sisters Of Death ends with the last surviving characters, Mark and Judy, clearing the electric fence and making it back to Mark's car and freedom. Only for Judy to reveal that she was the killer after all and promptly shoots Mark. The end.
  • In the David Cronenberg Mind Screw movie eXistenZ, this trope is used in-universe. In the climax, the male protagonist is suddenly revealed as another secret agent who was sent to kill his female partner all along, even though this contradicts most of what's been shown of the character. It's soon revealed to be part of another layer of the VR game, and the programmed plot twists (extracted from the players' minds) were becoming increasingly random.

    Literature 
  • David Weber's Out of the Dark ends a fairly typical alien invasion story, that humanity was already winning, with VAMPIRES coming out of the woodwork to save humanity in a totally unnecessary Deus ex Machina. This is why some stories work in some formats but not others: the original short story version didn't have most of the book where humans were gaining the upper hand, and instead started much closer to the point at the end where the aliens decide to simply wipe out the humans via a bioengineered plague instead of continuing the costly conquest.
  • Illuminatus!, being a Mind Screw of the first degree, throws out any number of shocking swerves, among the most shocking the revelations that the three main female characters are all the same Tantrically-enhanced individual and that Hagbard Celine is one of the Illuminati Primi, and the entire story was a scheme on his part to eliminate the most negatively aligned Ancient Conspiracy groups claiming the name "Illuminati", in which he had joined to either alter or destroy it from the inside. And he's actually a member of an even more esoteric group that used to be called Illuminati, but switched its name due to the copy-cats into A∴A∴, which is not Argentum Astrum despite using Thelemic passwords.
  • The ending of John Grisham's The Partner comes right out of the blue. After the main character's conspirator goes through all the effort to find and rescue him, she steals the money and disappears. She could have done that any time.
  • Kitty Takes a Holiday drops a plot twist that makes perfect sense within in its own storyline, but is a huge change in direction for the series as a whole. After two books of Kitty/Cormac Ship Tease Kitty hooks up with her lawyer Ben instead, and Cormac goes to Prison in an unrelated incident. Tropes are not bad, though. Kitty and Cormac never really made a convincing couple, largely because Kitty isn't the type to fall for a bad boy. She has much better chemistry with her new Love Interest, despite the somewhat contrived nature of the Relationship Upgrade.
  • There is at least one in every installment of the Never Again series. In the first book: the main character's student is part of an Ancient Conspiracy! In the second: did the Moe Friend to All Living Things just get killed?! (and later in that book, the main characters die too!) In the third: there's a Time Police?! When did that happen?!.
  • MYTH Conceptions suffers from this. Skeeve and his small band have declared war on the largest army in the dimension. The army's general, after suffering from some hit-and-run attacks from Skeeve n Co. erects a large tent in a neutral location to discuss the cessation of hostilities. After a bit of a chat, the sides of the tent are dropped, revealing that the entire army is outside, poised to strike the protagonists. They are rescued by a little blue gremlin (a creature Aahs had been insisting does not exist) for no reason whatsoever.
  • In Mastiff, the third book of Provost's Dog, the group traitor in the pay of the treasonists is revealed to be Mattes Tunstall. Although defenders of the twist point out that there was foreshadowing for the character's motivation within the book, detractors say that itself involved Character Derailment from their personality in the previous two books, using Took a Level in Jerkass without it being sufficiently explained.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Bones, it was revealed in the third season finale that Zack was Gormogon's apprentice. The initial plan had been to slowly hint at it up until the big reveal, but the Writers' Guild strike threw a wrench in that plan.
  • Guiding Light 2003, from actual YouTube video description:
    "Reva's stalker was supposed to be Jonathan, which is why Marah felt a bond with him online. This was scuttled by incoming hack Head Writer Ellen Weston, who made Alexandra the stalker which made little to no sense whatsoever."
  • Alias
    • The later seasons suffered from this a lot. Season 4 reached an all-time low with the constant back-and-forth between both Arvin Sloane and Jack Bristow having either good intentions or hidden agendas/being untrustworthy/evil all along, so much that you just want to yell at the TV screen, "We've already been through this a few episodes ago, and the episode before that!"
    • And related stories with Sidney's mother and aunt, Lauren Reed, her mother etc. By the end of the series it had gotten so ridiculous you almost expect to have Sidney turn around and show that she's been a villain all along.
    • The "shocking" season 4 tacked-on epilogue. My name is not Michael Vaughn.
  • House:
    • Kutner's suicide. The fact that it is so unexpected makes it, in some ways, more true to life but no less of an Ass Pull. The reason they did that on such short notice was because the actor left the show for a government job.
    • In a later episode the team's patient is a homeless man who, despite lying to the team repeatedly about his name, shows no signs of being anything more than a homeless ex-junkie. Until the ending, where it's revealed that he is a serial killer that eats his victims.
  • Satisfaction: Tippi being shot by loansharks going after her former client at his house. This also left quite a few plot points, such as her one-night-stand with Chloe's boyfriend, unresolved.
  • The "Who killed Colin McIver?" storyline on One Life to Live. There was only one person in town who couldn't possibly be the murderer: Nora, because she was drugged by Colin. Naturally, she did it.
  • The last 30 seconds of season 4 of Farscape, in which an alien spaceship shows up out of nowhere and shoots Crichton and Aeryn to pieces give this impression. Word of God states that the episode was scripted and filmed before the series was cancelled, and was intended to be the lead-in to the fifth season. After the cancellation, the showrunners refused to go back and change the ending. Peacekeeper Wars is essentially what was intended as the fifth season condensed into three hours.
  • In Dollhouse, the reveal that Boyd Langton was the head of the Rossum Corporation, which turns the character into a lunatic with a stupidly impractical master plan and, in retrospect, makes a lot of their earlier actions in the series unnecessary at best and nonsensical at worst.
  • The revelation in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that Doctor Bashir is genetically enhanced was thought of right before The Reveal episode. Bashir's parents were once brought up in a conversation, and Bashir completely dodged it, a full season before his reveal established why he would hate his parents. This was the second time that happened to the character, as the two-parter 'In Purgatory's Shadow'/'By Inferno's Light' revealed that Bashir had been replaced by a changeling several episodes before. The actor didn't learn until he got the script for the two-parter.
  • The third season of Star Trek: Enterprise ends with the showdown over the Xindi weapon, which has been the plot the entire season. With Enterprise, the Xindi he's convinced, and Shran, they destroy the weapon and try to contact Starfleet only to find... space aliens made the Nazis win World War II! This was part of the "Temporal Cold War" plot that was forced into the show... except that Daniels, the Temporal Cold War guy, had referred only to the Xindi in his appearances. In no way did anything in Season 3 hint, foreshadow, or subliminally convey that space Nazis were on the horizon, and it completely undercut what was otherwise a fairly satisfying season finale.
  • In the Skins series four penultimate episode, Effy's therapist, who had been introduced in the same episode, beat Freddie to death with a baseball bat.
  • Depending on the viewer, many twists, including several Cylon identity revelations in the later episodes of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series may fall under this trope. Naturally, one viewer's Shocking Swerve may be another one's Wham Episode.
    Seth Green: "Wow! Ron Moore! Creator of Battlestar Galactica. How about letting us come aboard and help you with your whip-smart plots?"
    Ron Moore: "Help? Why would I need help writing plots? I just throw a dart at the cast list and *boom*: they're a Cylon. Rinse, repeat, cash the frakking check. Watch... (Moore throws several darts at a board with cast member photos taped to it)... (mocking) oh, please help me, this is so hard!"
    • The identities of the Final Five Cylons, in particular, were pulled out of left field. One of the clearest indicators of this was that Chief Tyrol's baby had to be clumsily retconned into an adulterous offspring, since there was only supposed to be one fertile Cylon in the series.
    • This pops up as early as the pilot miniseries, when some poor and seemingly random schmuck is pointed out by Baltar to be a Cylon in a panicked effort to avoid being outed as a collaborator himself. At the end of the episode he... turns out to have actually been a Cylon.
  • Not nearly as shocking as most of these swerves, but Law & Order's ADA Serena Southerlyn's Suddenly Sexuality was pretty damn surprising. The only thing that vaguely and possibly hints at this was a few episodes earlier when McCoy, in order to get around a claim of spousal privilege on the part of a gay couple, files suit (and wins) to prevent the state from recognizing gay marriages. Southerlyn was uncharacteristically more upset than usual about McCoy's cynical tactics (as he doesn't indicate he personally is opposed to gay marriage) and outright refuses to assist him.
  • The first season of Roswell introduced a character played by Julie Benz as their new teacher. Liz becomes suspicious of her and suspects she's secretly a government agent looking for the aliens. Instead she reveals that she's actually the school's new guidance counselor. Needless to say, this does nothing to explain why she was impersonating a teacher in the first place. She later gets involved in the plot for reasons resulting from her actual job.
  • "iOMG" for iCarly has Sam suddenly revealed to be 'in love' with Freddie, despite no concrete foreshadowing. Freddie himself is shocked at Sam's change during the episode itself, not to mention when she kisses him right at the end.
  • The entirety of St. Elsewhere turning out to be the daydream of an autistic child staring at a snow globe.
  • In the season finale of the first season of The Killing, not one, but TWO of them were clumsily attempted (specifically, the prime suspect is randomly shot out of nowhere and the until-then-incredibly likable Lancer is revealed to have been in all probability in on the titular murder)... during the last fifteen seconds. Fans and critics rage ensued.
  • In the Community episode "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" a Gambit Pileup causes about five in the space of two minutes.
    Annie: When you conspire with everyone you come across, you're not really conspiring with anyone. You're just doing random crap.
  • 24
    • The show is known for its HSQ inducing twists and occasionally out-of-field subplots, but during season six, when it revealed that season five villain dubbed Bluetooth was suddenly Jack's brother, Graem Bauer, it threw off the fanbase to such baffling proportions that was never seen again. Even with the show's crazy logistics and fast paced events, this was a twist too far. And this is coming one season after an ex-President got gunned down by a sniper and another President was involved in the terrorist plot...
    • There's season seven's out-of-nowhere revelation that Tony Almeida betrayed everyone he knew on both sides to avenge the death of his unborn child. Although it could make sense for his actions in the current season, this completely contradicted the way he acted through what little he appeared in during the fifth season.
  • The seventh series of Waterloo Road ended with a literal Shocking Swerve in the form of an out-of-control lorry, which crashed into the cast because the producers didn't know who'd be returning for series eight yet.
  • Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower in Dallas could be regarded as one of these... or as what it actually was, an attempt to salvage the show by doing a Continuity Reboot to the last point at which it hadn't stunk on ice.
  • Newsradio played this one for laughs in their conclusion to the trial of Mr. James for being the hijacker known as "D. B. Cooper." When Mr. James is up on the stand, under questioning he comes out of nowhere with the claim that Adam West is D. B. Cooper. The prosecutor laughs this off until Adam West is revealed in the courtroom and he fesses up to it.
  • The death of Matthew in Downton Abbey. This was a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as the actor wanted to leave, and after everything Matthew and Mary had gone through to get married, there was no way the fans would accept them splitting up, so killing him was the only option. That might have still worked, had they not used the exact same set of circumstances as those used in Sybil's death earlier that season.
  • Rachel's pregnancy on Friends.
  • The ending of How I Met Your Mother is a bizarre inversion and straight use simultaneously. Early in the show's run, the crew filmed the final scene of Ted's kids listening to the end of the story to avoid problems of them aging by the time the show actually ended, so the end of the story actually was planned right from the start. Unfortunately, this also meant they were inescapably locked into that ending even as each passing season made it less and less appropriate to the story. Thus, Ted runs off to be with Robin at his kids' urging, despite our having spent the past several years getting a thorough education in how wrong they are for each other. Not to mention Barney and Robin divorce with a 30 second explanation after the past 3 seasons have established them multiple times as soul mates.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Most of the twists following Captain America: the Winter Soldier's big SHIELD revelations work very well, but when it turns out Ward is a HYDRA agent, it starts feeling like they're throwing out twists just for the sake of having twists, as if they needed any more. Word of God says that there are subtle clues in previous episodes, especially concerning how Ward got everyone to trust him (he become Skye's SO, saved Simmons, went on a mission with Fitz, etc.). Not every viewer agreed that acting exactly like a protagonist constituted a hint.
    • How poorly foreshadowed was the twist? Almost no one believed it. Immediately after the reveal, the big debate between fans was whether Ward was a Fake Defector or whether they were Brainwashed. Turned out it was genuine.

    Music 
  • In scissorsloid, when Miku goes to Luka's charge room and starts to cut the cable to let her "sleep forever", Luka wakes up and tells Miku how much she loves her and how cute she is. While Miku is distracted, Luka says "Just kidding", pulls out a knife, and stabs Miku with it.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • There's an In-Universe example in Peanuts. Snoopy is writing a story. The story goes like this: "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night. Suddenly, a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed. Suddenly a pirate ship appeared on the horizon!" With an Aside Glance and a grin after writing this last part, Snoopy thinks "This twist in the plot will baffle my readers..."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The previous trope namer was former WWF, WCW, and TNA writer Vince Russo, who loved to put these into his shows. He also loved to use wrestling insider lingo (in this case, "swerve" meaning "plot twist") in his shows. When this combined with WCW play-by-play commentator Tony Schiavone's irrational exuberance, it resulted in Schiavone often declaring, "This is the most shocking swerve ever!", thus resulting in a whole mess of "most shocking swerves". Russo's most notorious "shocking swerve" was making actor David Arquette (yes, the deputy from the Scream movies) the WCW World Heavyweight Champion after pinning Eric Bischoff in a match where the previous champion was Arquette's teammatenote . The Internet Wrestling Community have near-collectively decided that the shocking swerve is in fact more shocking when it doesn't happen. There are a number of recappers out there who can predict down to individual promos as to when the shockers happen.
  • Probably the most infamous shocking swerve in WWE was the "Higher Power" twist. To make a very long story short: it was 1999, and Corrupt Corporate Executive Vince McMahon had made a Heel-Face Turn. His son Shane had seized control of Vince's stable - "The Corporation" - and merged it with The Undertaker's pseudo-satanic stable "The Ministry Of Darkness" to form the super-stable "The Corporate Ministry", which was slowly taking over Vince's company. This forced Vince to make peace with all the people he had pissed off over the last year, most notably his arch-nemesis "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. A couple of months into the feud, The Undertaker began to hint at a "Higher Power" which he secretly served. Rumors and Wild Mass Guessing flew all over the place. Eventually, The Undertaker brought the black-cloaked Higher Power to the ring, who revealed himself to be... Vince McMahon!note  His stated reason for going through with this impossibly-contrived Gambit Roulette? To piss off Stone Cold Steve Austin. In fairness to the bookers: this was actually Plan B. The Higher Power was supposed to be Mick Foley, which would have made total sense and given us a good feud, but Foley didn't want to make a heel turn without any buildup to it, and also felt that he was too physically broken down at this point to do a feud with Austin justice.
  • According to The Death of WCW, the "ultimate swerve" was received by WCW itself: just when things were looking bright again, with former executive Eric Bischoff in line to buy the company and ratings starting to creep back upward, suddenly all its programming was canceled (by order of Jamie Kellner, an AOL Time Warner exec who had never been involved in the wrestling business in any way, shape or form) and it was forced out of business. What a tweest!
  • Most TNA Face Heel Turns have absolutely no foreshadowing, and while they're shocking, they don't make any sense, and just piss people off most of the time.
    • The Jeff Hardy heel turn is already the most notorious of these swerves.
    • The Samoa Joe heel turn was godawful, he layed down in the 2009 King of the Mountain match at the last second for no reason. Despite the fact that he had been going after the Main Event Mafia for months, had fought like crazy up to that point, and was probably seconds away from becoming World Heavyweight Champion, it was all supposed to be a ruse. That sure makes sense.
    • Sting's Main Event Mafia heel turn made no sense, and fans didn't even boo the guy anyway, seemingly treating it as Fanon Discontinuity even as it was happening. So the whole thing was dropped, and Sting went back to being a face anyway.
    • The Tomko heel turn just about killed his career. All the momentum he'd built through Christian's Coalition and then the brief "Tomko's for Tomko" phase was completely destroyed just to job him out under Kurt Angle's thumb. It should probably also be noted that Tomko, instead of going on to do things in TNA, did this.
    • Kazarian and Daniels teamed up to form Bad Influence in direct contradiction to all previous characterization. In this case though, people vastly preferred them as Bad Influence even if they admit the formation of the team made no sense.
  • The Big Show turning heel and attacking John Cena to help John Laurinaitis keep his job came completely out of left field considering the Raw before the PPV had Laurinaitis fire Big Show for making fun of his voice. Why exactly would Big Show help someone who forced him to get down on his knees and beg for his job? Especially when it was more likely that whoever Laurinaitis's replacement was (especially if he was a face) would hire him back considering what an attraction he is to the company. The explanation for the turn didn't make much sense either though that was more to do with Lauriniatis messing up his lines (Michael Cole provided a more accurate explanation).
  • In early 2012, psychotic Kane suddenly starts stalking Eve Torres and one episode of Raw ends with him implying to rape her backstage. Next week Eve passionately makes out with John Cena after he saves her from a rather conveniently staged attack from Kane, just as Cena's best friend and Eve's crush Zack Ryder happens to wander by. You're guessing Kane set this all up right? Wrong, next week Kane disappeared from the storyline and Eve suddenly revealed she'd been playing Zack all along in an attempt to get attention for herself. No mention of what Kane's master plan for her was either. Fans have suggested that the storyline was meant to play out in a different direction with Kane possibly manipulating Eve (judging from her expression when she kissed Cena - she looked like she did not want to do it, and her seemingly genuinely upset when Zack was taken away in an ambulance later in the night) but Eve ended up getting an insane amount of heat when she kissed Cena so the writers likely changed tack and turned her heel to capitalise on it.
  • TNA's 2010 Victory Road PPV had a special stipulation for the Knockouts match. It was already title vs career with Madison Rayne defending against Angelina Love respectively. However the added stipulation was that if either of Madison Rayne's teammates (Velvet Sky or Lacey Von Erich) interfered in the match, the title would go to Angelina. At the end of the match some masked woman in a biker helmet drove into the arena and interfered, earning a disqualification. The referee tried to find out who it was briefly but then decided to award the title to Angelina. Read: without checking the identity of the masked woman. Furthermore once Madison had found out she lost her title she drove away with the mystery woman (Read: the woman that just cost her the title). It was neither Velvet nor Lacey under the mask but actually the returning Tara which raises the question of why the hell did she wear a mask to interfere in the match when she could cause a disqualification without the title changing hands? Or why, when the title was given to Angelina, did she not take off the mask to reveal who she was and therefore get Madison her title back? There was literally no reason for her to keep her identity hidden (which she did for about a month) other than to have a dramatic reveal when it was fairly obvious who it already was. And that's not even wondering why Lacey and Velvet didn't reveal themselves right away at the PPV if Tara wasn't going to unmask.
  • In 1988 Barry Windham and Lex Luger, two of the most popular wrestlers in the NWA at the time, were embroiled in a fued with the Four Horsemen stemming from Lex being kicked out of the group and Barry turning down their offers to join them. The two had beaten Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard for the NWA Tag team Titles in March of 1988. They were defending them in a rematch a month later. During the match the Horsemen manager, JJ Dillon, rammed Luger's head into the steel post causing him to bleed and be knocked out for a few mintues. Barry was getting beaten in the ring looking to tag out but nobody was there and the Horsemen taunted him for it. When Lex finally dragged himself to the apron, Barry forced a tag and body slammed him into the ring and gave him a vicious clothesline that let the Horsemen easily regain the belts and led to Barry joining the group. Nobody saw this turn coming and led to Barry being one of the msot hated villians (and also led to what many consider the best incarnation of the Four Horsemen as well)

    Toys 
  • The BIONICLE web serials use this as one of their main ingredients. Who knew Toa Tuyet would be alive and her "corpse" was just that of her poor Alternate Universe-self? That vile Dark Hunter Ancient was in reality a double agent for the good guys? That the Sisters of the Skrall all got their psychic powers because they were pawns of a Cosmic Horror character that apparently has been living beneath the earth for all this time, yet no one ever suspected? But the fact that one of the classic and relatively well known characters was actually a disguised Great Being all along has got to be the biggest example.
    • Another kind of twist that wasn't a kind of reveal was the ending to the serial Brothers in Arms. It has been a quite straightforward tale of two Badass Normal mortal enemies with a shared past clashing again and again during their ventures, and was set up to end in a spectacular final confrontation between the two. Then, literally right when they were about to hit each other, a random dimension-portal opened up between them, teleporting them to a Bizarro World, and thus ending the serial with no final fight. Instead, the villain gets trapped in that other universe, while the hero brings home an ultra-powerful warrior (the benevolent Expy of the original Big Bad, no less) in exchange to "cap up" the story. What.
    • To make it more clear (and perhaps more insulting for the fans), there was no action scene involved in this resolution. The characters simply stood in a room and talked.

    Video Games 
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has a particularly infamous example. It turns out that the entire universe is a video game being played by extra-dimensional beings. Your characters discover this by jumping through a portal into "4D Space" and coming out of a high-tech television screen. Not only was this a shocking swerve for the game, it was a retroactive shocking swerve for Star Ocean and Star Ocean: The Second Story as well, and the fans did not like it. This was partially retconned by The Last Hope's invoking of alternate universes, leaving an out for fans who hated the twist without completely retconning it for those who didn't.
  • The truth behind Liquid Snake's possession of Revolver Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 4 is, to say the least, the only plot point in the series that succeeded in pissing off some fans of the series. Basically, it turns out at the end that you were never fighting Liquid and that Ocelot was using a combination of drugs, nanomachines, and hypnotherapy to make himself think he was Liquid for his most complex Gambit Roulette to date. However, this not only cheapens Liquid's character, but effectively and retroactively turns the final boss fight into a big pile of... meaninglessness... by destroying all the previous epicness it portrayed, turning it into something completely impersonal and rendering the victory hollow. Knowing Kojima, this was probably completely intentional, but still, annoying. It's also a waste of what could have been pure Fridge Brilliance, in that actual possession would've made much more sense. Why? Ocelot is the Sorrow's son, a famous (and genuine) telepath! It stretches suspension of disbelief much less to think that Ocelot inherited some of his father's ability and that it unintentionally left Liquid take control.
  • Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty ends with previous villain Dr. Nefarious marching onto the screen and apparently being allied with the Zoni, without him ever having been mentioned or referenced in the Future saga beyond some IRIS computer trivia and Qwark's arena narration. The fact that Nefarious and his butler Lawrence were a smash hit in regards of comedy value may have something to do with it.
  • Xenogears has this in paced orders-of-magnitude; two nations are at war and level Fei's hometown, but those are being manipulated by humans living on floating city Solaris in order to dig up and test technology from an ancient, destroyed civilization. Then it leaps up again with Fei and Elly continually reincarnating in an attempt to free God from a physical prison and destroy the wicked Demiurge who created humankind as organic components to repair his physical form. Whew! And there's more than that, those are just the main ones.
  • It's a staple for the Mega Man series to have a Big Bad that would have to be behind everything in the game they appeared in. So, Mega Man X8 delivered a Shocking Swerve the fans weren't expecting: Sigma is not the Big Bad of X8, and instead he's just an Unwitting Pawn.
  • Bubble Bobble: According to what little information we are told, two bubble dragons have to rescue their human girlfriends. Turns out that those two bubble dragons are humans themselves and yet, in the True Ending, out of the Final Boss come the two protagonists' parents.
  • Akane's ending in Suika is just disturbing and comes out of nowhere. She apparently stabs Yoshikazu to death and hypnotizes his girlfriend into thinking that she (Akane) is him.
  • Parodied with the ending to Earthworm Jim 2, when at the very end Jim unzips his body and reveals that he was a cow all along. And so was Psycrow. And Princess Whats-Her-Name.
  • Taken to horrifying levels in Disgaea 2 with the non-canon worst ending in which Real Overlord Zenon possesses Adell and makes him brutally kill and devour his adopted siblings. So infamous that it gets compared to Silent Hill or NICE BOAT.
  • No More Heroes plays this for laughs in the final cut-scene of the real ending, when Henry reveals he's both Travis' long lost twin and Sylvia's husband.
    Travis: What the hell? That's the craziest shit I've ever heard! Why would you bring up something like that at the very last minute of the game?
  • Mass Effect 3 has an example that quickly became infamous: The Citadel houses an incomprehensibly ancient AI that created the Reapers to save organic civilization from the synthetic war they would 'inevitably' bring upon themselves. By killing all life and assimilating the remains. This was in complete and utter contrast to what little there was established of the Reapers: narcissistic, power-hungry machines with a major disdain for any sort of life that wasn't them, who certainly were not controlled by an AI and were not benevolent at all. Shepard either controls, destroys, or pacifies the Reapers with the Crucible, which results in the destruction of the mass relays and a lot of Inferred Holocausts. It is telling that Updated Re-release spends a lot of time on downplaying the Inferred Holocausts, and a whole piece of DLC was essentially dedicated to retconning in foreshadowing of the AI's existence.
    • This led to a never before seen level of Internet Backdraft, and possibly to the resignation of Bioware's founders.
  • Star Fox Adventures reveals right at the end that General Scales was (probably unknowingly) working for Andross the entire time, even though Andross is technically dead at this point and he was barely mentioned, if at all, in the game up until that point. Even with a Rewatch Bonus of knowing this beforehand, there is no concrete foreshadowing that Andross is involved at all in the plot. What makes the swerve even worse is that immediately following the reveal, the Final Boss is an Unexpected Gameplay Change to the Arwing. The trouble is that, up to this point, the Arwing sections consisted of flying through enough gold rings to reach your destination, each of which lasted a few minutes at most. The boss is at least as difficult as the final boss of Star Fox 64, a game built around the Arwing.
  • The second and third World of Warcraft expansions have ended this way, both requiring Word of God clarification via the "Ask Creative Development" segments of the official forums. After the Lich King is defeated, it turns out that without the Lich King, the (somehow) very much still around undead Scourge will go feral over and destroy all of Azeroth, prompting Bolvar to take control of the Scourge. After some Epileptic Trees, Blizzard confirmed that the characters were not lying about this, and the Scourge's status was correct. After Deathwing is defeated, it is revealed that the Dragon Aspects were created to counter the Hour of Twilight and only that, and so lost their powers when that was done. Blizzard explained that this came about when the leader of the Titans saw a vague vision (this is a being who was previously assumed to be omniscient, or at least slightly more so than that) of this event, and empowered the Aspects to stop it (without telling them that is what they were for). Basically, it turns out that rather than guard life on Azeroth in the Titans' stead, the Dragon Aspects were created to thwart a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy whose completion only became possible after the Aspects were created in the first place.
  • In the end of The Testament of Sherlock Holmes it turns out that one of the girls who are reading the story, and who's supposedly the granddaughter of Holmes, is actually the granddaughter (or possibly grand-granddaughter) of James Moriarty. Her mother was adopted by Sherlock Holmes when Moriarty died. While this isn't a bad twist per se, it still feels like a twist for the sake of a twist, quite disconnected from the rest of the story and which serves no purpose.
  • Batman: Arkham Origins: The promos heavily imply that Black Mask, aka, Roman Sionis will be the main antagonist. Then about 25% of the way through the game and the black mask comes off, and surprise! Its your favorite clown prince of crime, The Joker. Not a twist in a huge sense as you piece together his identity, but the game and its promotions do their part to lead you astray.
  • In Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time, the reveal about what actually happened to Penelope and why she went missing prior to the beginning of the game not only came out of nowhere, but seriously ticked off a sizable portion of the fanbase. Throughout the entire game, you're given no clues that she left of her own free will. While the level in which this twist is revealed blatantly hints that the plot point will be dealt with (via all the mouse emblems and such), there's absolutely zero foreshadowing that she's angry and bitter at the Cooper gang instead of being held against her will and forced to assist Le Paradox.

    Webcomics 
  • For years, Maytag of Flipside would at least proposition anyone who wasn't actively trying to kill her, and a few people who were; meanwhile, her paladin Bernadette seemed more-or-less asexual, even toward her. During a Retool, it was revealed that the two of them were not only monogamous lovers, but had been all along, followed by a series of unconvincing, probably accidental "hints". Not only that, but Bernadette had, before the series started, been involved with a minor character whose only role on camera was to be killed by The Dragon, and left her for infidelity. And in a later arc, a mage uses a magical truth spell that people can't help but reply to to try and ruin their relationship, wherein Maytag admits to infidelity and Bernadette admits to being relieved to hear it.
  • In Irregular Webcomic!, the "Me" character announced he was going to permanently kill off a popular major character. The death was himself. It may also have possibly been Gwen Stacey from Spider Man.
  • Mortifer has Wham Episode as its staple trope, and it usually does a good job of having The Reveal make perfect sense in retrospect (through copious use of Chekhov's Gun and Foreshadowing). However, there is one twist that's notable for coming right out of nowhere — Namely, The Reveal in chapter 29 that Zebidiah is a demon, forced to serve Vlad against his will.
  • The Keiki comic "Beefer Madness" started out with Beefer getting placed in an afterschool support group and meeting strange kids, such as a girl named Darcy who had a strong obsession with DC Comics. As Peter Paltridge continued the story, he realized Halloween was approaching, but he didn't have time to start a new, supernatural story. As a result, he decided to throw in some dramatic revelations about Darcy being a vampire and the support leader being a vampire hunter.
  • minus spends the greater part of its run as a (relatively) light-hearted episodic series. Then, out of nowhere, in the middle of a strip, this weird guy who never shows up before or after stuffs minus in a briefcase, and after she escapes she completely loses all sense of reality. To cure her, her friend throws a rock at her head— at which point she shatters into a million pieces. Now that minus is dead, she spends several strips as a ghost doing the same antics as in the beginning of the comic, so the reader thinks that things will get back to normal eventually. Wrong. Someone just has to ask if minus can start bringing people back to life. She does, and everyone on Earth suffocates from the sheer mass of bodies brought back. Holy shit.
  • Homestuck gets this in the form of Aranea Serket, Ms. Exposition who invoked Off the Rails on the alpha session, breaking the universally agreed-upon plan for defeating the big bad in the process.

    Web Original 
  • Mega64 has what may be one of the biggest example. The episode "What the Hell Happened to Mega64?" starts with one of Dr. Poque's college friends coming to see him. In the first five minutes they're taken hostage by a mafia and the friend is killed, complete with blood splattering. The rest of the episode has Rocko, Derek and Shawn trying to rescue him. The episode ends with them learning the friend was the head of the Mafia. It's never really explained why he wants to kill Dr. Poque, why the Mafia were selling plush parrots, or how the friend is even alive. It gets even weirder when the friend is shot in the back by a guy wearing a sombrero, who then warps out. The creators said that it was a twist for the sake of a twist, and even the characters question it.
    • Not to mention the Super Mario Bros. episode in which Shigeru Miyamoto himself shows up in the video out of nowhere.
    • They pulled off a similar, but bigger one in their The Beatles Rock Band episode, where they run into Gabe Newell. Who admits he has nothing to do with The Beatles.
  • How to Write Badly Well: End with a twist no reader could have reasonably foreseen
  • The commentary to The Nostalgia Critic review of The Secret of NIMH 2 discusses this, with Doug giving as an example a reveal that the hero is a piece of broccoli. Also, in his review of Devil he complains about the reveal that the old lady was the devil all along and says that sure, you weren't expecting it, but that doesn't make it a good twist. "I wouldn't be able to predict if they all turned into snowmen of George Takei, but that doesn't make it a good twist."
  • Matt Taibbi's contest for parody Thomas Friedman NSFW Titles took a shocking swerve when Friedman himself won the contest with his very next column.

    Western Animation 
  • One Robot Chicken sketch parodies this by having M. Night Shyamalan subject to several Shocking Swerves in a row, each time lampshading it by turning to the camera and exclaiming "What a twist!"
  • Revealing what actually happened in Guatemala between Abby and Heinrich in the Codename: Kids Next Door Operation: C.A.R.A.M.E.L.: Turns out Heinrich was actually Henrietta...
  • Winx Club, season 2: One of the teachers, Professor Avalon, turns out to be an evil clone. It's a legitimate twist in the original... but not so much in the 4Kids dub, where the spell that was shot at the teacher in an earlier episode was changed to a Sphere of Truth spell, which should have revealed this.
  • Adventure Time: The ending of Tree Trunks consists of lovable old Tree Trunks, an old elephant who makes apple pies, suddenly exploding right out of nowhere at the end of the episode after taking a bite from the Crystal Gem Apple. It turns out she was sent to a crystalline dimension where she's queen. But Jake and Finn were able to take her back home. Not the creators' fault this time. Originally the episode was going to end with just that, Tree Trunks exploding but the executives said it was too dark. They were forced to put in the shot of Tree Trunks at the end of the credits to confirm to the audience that she was okay and that she would come back, even if they had to use this trope to do it. To answer the first twist where she exploded after eating the Crystal Apple, be honest, it's Adventure Time, the whole show can be called a Mind Screw.
  • South Park
    • In a three part arc the mystery of Kenny's ability to die endlessly was explained. The boys had been playing superheroes, with one of the children playing the laughable "Mint-Berry Crunch," a half-man, half-berry. Everything built up to a confrontation between Kenny and Cthulhu. Then, out of nowhere, Mint-Berry Crunch turns out to be an actual superhero sent to earth as a protector, and he literally punches out Cthulhu. Kenny is as incredulous as the audience during this reveal.
    • The Critters from "Woodland Critter Christmas" start out as a regular parody of saccharine, insipid Christmas specials... until we find out that they are devoted followers of Satan, hellbent on bringing about the advent of the Antichrist. One moment they are happy and cheerful, the very next they're sacrificing a disturbingly willing Rabbitty and having an orgy with his corpse (and they're still happy and cheerful). Justified because it's a story written by Cartman.
  • As mentioned in further detail on the Wham Episode page, the season finale of Total Drama World Tour is one of these, what with the feral Ezekiel stealing and destroying the money. Word of God confirms that everybody survived, although characters like Alejandro have received serious injuries.
  • In-universe in The Simpsons, where, in the Show Within a Show, Poochie dies on the way back to his home planet.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • "Daring Don't" reveals that The fictional book series about Indiana Jones expy Daring Do is actually true and secretly written by the main character under a pseudonym. This despite the fact that there was no foreshadowing, it clashes with the existing setting, retcons all the maps away and creates massive amounts of fridge logic.
    • There's also the finale of season three - the Mane Six, minus Twilight, are compelled to do something they are neither good at nor enjoy, as it is their destiny. This goes against everything we know about cutie marks, which appear after a pony discovered her destiny, and reflects a particular skill/idea, often a hobby, not vocation. Rainbow Dash's cutie mark reflects her love of racing, but she is a professional weather wrangler.


Ring OldiesTropeNamers/Professional WrestlingSmart Mark
Secret Test of CharacterPlot TwistStranger Behind the Mask
Series Continuity ErrorBad Writing IndexStory Breaker Power
Special Effects FailureFilm Brain ListStar-Derailing Role
The Ship YardYMMV/Home PageSignature Scene
Semantic Slippery Slope FallacySturgeon's TropesThe Smurfette Principle
The Ship YardYMMVSignature Scene

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