That one scene that everyone remembers from a movie or other media. When people think of the work, this is the one scene that they immediately think of, and may be the only reason to remember it at all. If the work is referenced in popular culture, it will reference this scene. Cover illustrations will often depict this scene. Any parodies will also center on this scene specifically.
There are many reasons that the scene may stand out. It may be...
The centerpiece of the trailer, causing it to enter the minds of people before they see the movie, or be all they know about it if they never see the movie.
In the anime, the scene where Osaka meets Chiyo's Dad, thanks to the voice talents of the inimitable Norio Wakamoto. HERRO EVERY NYAN.
Hajime No Ippo: Ippo's completed Dempsey Roll against Sendou at the end of the Japanese Featherweight Championship has become one of the most iconic scenes. It's had Shout Outs in games like Super Street Fighter IV and Tekken for starters.
The scene where Meloetta is placed on the tablet and forced to sing is hands-down the most remembered thing in Team Rocket's story arc, Operation Tempest.
Apart from that, there's the original opening, Pikachu's Spearow flock-defeating Thunder attack, Ash being turned to stone in the first movie and of course, Team Rocket's motto.
Berserk: The Eclipse, especially the bit where Guts eye gets clawed out with the last image it sees being Casca's unconscious and violated body. Also, the scene where Guts get his Berserker armor and fights with it for the first time is also iconic.
The whole "Lust Arc" fight, including Ichigo dying at the hands of Ulquiorra, Orihime almost crossing the Despair Event Horizon as Ulquiorra taunts her and Ishida, Ichigo being Back from the Dead and into a MASSIVELY overpowered/out-of-control version of himself, and Ulquiorra's Alas, Poor Villain send-off
Hitsugaya impales Aizen, thinking it's over... only for it to have been one of Aizen's illusions; Hitsugaya accidentally impaled Hinamori. Aizen proceeds to annihilate Kira, Iba, Hitsugaya, Sui-Feng, Hirako, and Kyoraku simultaneously.
Shigekuni Yamamoto unleashing his Bankai against his Arch-Enemy, Emperor Yhwach... only to find out that he used it on a decoy. The real Yhwach comes in, steals Yamamoto's Bankai, slices him in half. Yamamoto's upper half falls down, with his legs and lower half still standing. Yhwach severs Yamamoto's remaining arm, kicks his head to the ground and obliterates his corpse. Holy shit.
Bambietta Basterbine, in an attempt to alleviate frustration over politics, calls a random Red Shirt up for a quickie at her room. He accepts happily. You then see his eyes rolling at the back of his head as she slices his (shirtless) body in half, with her calmly staring on. We're immediately treated to a panel where she's missing her stockings and her jacket is unzipped; we get a nice shot of her bigger-than-assumed cleavage as her friends suddenly appear and chew her out for killing yet another guy out of frustration before they could have a chance at him. This was both freaky and awesome.
Goku's first transformation into a Super Saiyan after Frieza pushes him too far in his cruelty. The Irony that befalls Frieza (because of Frieza, mind you) is but one of the reasons why people remember it so fondly.
Or when they realize his power level is over 9000.
Kid Goku catching a giant fish.
Kid Goku transforming into a giant ape.
Piccolo shooting his special beam cannon at Raditz while Goku grips him from behind.
Goku facing off against Frieza while Namek is on the verge of destruction. It's so iconic that some of the fighting games will have Goku and Frieza in the exact condition they were in during that battle (i.e bloody and bruised) if you choose them and the crumbling Planet Namek as the arena.
Goku's Kamehameha vs Vegeta's Gallick Gun
Future Trunks totally owning Mech. Freeza and the latter's father King Cold in a Curb-Stomp Battle
Ramba Ral's "This is no Zaku, boy! No Zaku!" quote
The death of Lalah Sune
"Last Shooting", where Amuro Ray uses the eponymous mobile suit to fire one final shot at Char Aznable in the Zeong; both machines end up destroying one another. This one is famous enough that it gets Homaged throughout the Gundam saga. In particular, Mobile Suit Gundam F90 recreates the exact scene, while Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Endless Waltz, though not an outwardly resemblance, has the Wing Zero Custom pull out its Twin Buster Rifle aimed at the Brussels presidential bunker, with the scene still called "Last Shooting". Even Super Robot Wars gets in on the homage with the Second Super Robot Wars Z, where the Fin Funnel attack of Amuro's Nu Gundam ends with the machine in the same stance in the Last Shooting.
Keiichi's delusions of Rena from Onikakushi are pretty iconic too, especially the "Usoda!" and laughing scenes. In fact, it's such a memorable scene, people assumed everyone in that show was an Axe Crazy person when it's clearly not the case.
Raoh's death scene. "Waga shougai ni ippen no kui nashi!!"
If you ever heard of F-ZERO: Falcon Densetsu, it was most likely due to the "Falcon Punch" scene. That scene became so iconic of the series (both anime and game) that it quickly achieved Memetic Mutation status.
The very first scene in the anime is as infamous as they come. It involves a masked, nude girl telekinetically dismembering, decapitating and bifurcating people all around, even using someone as a Human Shield, before getting shot in the head by a sniper.
When Lucy murders those kids after they killed her puppy.
Kurama and Mariko's Murder-Suicide, punctuated by images of a life Kurama wished they could have had together.
Kouta and Lucy's last scene in the anime, where Lucy admits that, even though she desperately wants to atone for killing his family, she knows she can't... and still wants to atone anyway. Kouta makes it clear that, while he hates what she did, he still loves her, and they share a Final Kiss.
In the manga, Bando's epic final fight with Lucy, ending in Bando getting cut in half after she threw the decapitated head of the Unknown Man at him.
The scene where a young Kenshin meets his master, Seijouro Hiko for the first time after burying all his friends who were massacred.
Kenshin vs Jin-e with Kaoru being held as the latter's hostage.
Kenshin vs Saito's grudge match.
The scene where Kenshin leaves Kaoru for Kyoto which also doubles as a Tear Jerker.
Sanosuke learning Futae no Kiwami.
The final battle between Kenshin and Shishio, especially the bit where Kenshin sends Shishio flying with his ultimate attack.
Lyrical Nanoha has one scene in each season that serves as that one scene, specifically...
Season one has Nanoha first using Starlight Breaker to defeat Fate. There's also the scene in which Nanoha and Fate become friends.
Season two has Nanoha walking Out of the Inferno and being called a devil. This could also be considered the most iconic scene in the franchise, as it gave birth to Nanoha's Fan Nickname.
Season three has the "White Devil incident"
In Futari wa Pretty Cure, the part of the opening song, where Cure Black and Cure White jump away from an explosion, with smoke and dust are just right behind them. It has been repeated in many Pretty Cure All Stars movies, with New Stage tops it with all 28 of the Cures reenact the scene.
Samurai Flamenco: The end of episode 7, when A drugged man turns into a half gorilla, half guillotine creature and decapitates some cops, in a show that had been very realistic and lighthearted until that moment.
Spider-Man carrying a man while swinging across New York.
Peter Parker being dragged by his aunt to a blind date with her best friend's niece at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #42, expecting to have to go through an "ordeal" with most likely an ugly girl. He spends some time waiting, reflecting on how he's become attracted to that nice Gwen Stacy. Then the doorbell rings, and Anna Watson lets her in:
The rope bridge fight between the Furious Five and Tai Lung in the original Kung Fu Panda. For the sequel, there's Po discovering his origins and him using tai chi to redirect cannonfire.
Shrek has the opening scene of Shrek going through his daily routine set to Smash Mouth's "All Star", as well as Shrek and Donkey having a heartwarming conversation in the light of the full moon.
From the sequel, the part where Puss in Boots flashes his Puppy-Dog Eyes.
The Transformers The Movie has a few. The big two that most remember though are the battle between Optimus and Megatron (set to The Touch, natch) and the death scene with Optimus where he unveils the Matrix. Some also consider Hot Rod's transformation (no pun intended) into Rodimus to be one, along with his first change into his upgraded alt-mode and his speech at the end of the film. There are even some who believe the closing shot of Unicron's head orbiting Cybertron counts.
From The Nightmare Before Christmas we have Jack during "Jack's Lament," singing atop the curled hill in the graveyard during a full moon. Until recently, its been the image most often used for the cover of any home-release edition.
The animated film Felidae is largely known only for the very explicit, shocking, and disgusting sex scene between two minimally anthropomorphiccartoon cats. To a lesser extent, it's known for it's most gory scenes, such as the one with the disemboweled pregnant cat.
Thanks to the popularity of the teaser trailer for Godzilla (2014), the HALO jump and the shot of Godzilla emerging from the ashy remains of several buildings as his silhouette is seen roaring managed to become this for that movie well before it even came out.
King Kong: the finale, in which King Kong climbs the Empire State Building.
(click for quote) "Voilŕ! In View, a humble Vaudevillian Veteran, cast Vicariously as both Victim and Villain by the Vicissitudes of fate. This Visage, no mere Veneer of Vanity, is a Vestige of the Vox populi, now Vacant, Vanished. However, this Valorous Visitation of a bygone Vexation stands Vivified, and has Vowed to Vanquish these Venal and Virulent Vermin Vanguarding Vice and Vouchsafing the Violently Vicious and Voracious Violation of Volition! The only Verdict is Vengeance; a Vendetta held as a Votive, not in Vain, for the Value and Veracity of such shall one day Vindicate the Vigilant and the Virtuous. Verily, this Vichyssoise of Verbiage Veers most Verbose, so let me simply add that it's my Very good honour to meet you and you may call me V."
In the fourth episode, there is a pre-credits scene where Russ Ballard's 80's song "Voices" plays while the detective's speedboat heads off into the sunset. Many folks who never saw the series, know that scene.
All you need to do is put one guy in a Red Shirt and kill him.
The transporters work as well.
Grey's Anatomy has several in the season 2 finale where Izzie crying in a dead Denny's arms, then quitting the residency program, and Derek and Meredith having adulterous exam room sex which causes Meredith to be torn between Derek and Finn
"Okay, this Buffy the Vampire Slayer is meant to be really good. I think I'll check it out." Cue scene where she shoulders a rocket launcher at her former boyfriend. "Whoooa."This scene is considered the crowning moment by many fans, and even against other well-done parts this one stands out.
There are quite a few more, for instance from the Old Testament Adam and Eve eating of the forbidden fruit, the story of Noah's Ark, Abraham almost sacrificing his son Isaac, the parting of the Red Sea, Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, Samson bringing down the temple in Gaza, the fight of David against Goliath. From the New Testament the Annunciation, the birth of Christ, the Last Supper...
In both Chrétien de Troyes' and Wolfgang von Eschenbach's version of the story the scene in which Percivale is thrown into a mazement looking at three drops of blood in the snow. Wolfram, who unlike Chrétien got to finish his epic poem, also has the scene at the end where Percivale finally asks Amfortas: "What ails you, uncle?"
In the Nibelungenlied there's Siegfried's murder, Hagen sinking the treasure in the Rhine, and the Burgundians' final stand in Etzel's burning castle.
A negative example for WCW, when they spoilt Foley winning the WWF Championship and then insulted him. The other events that night may have been excused but many fans and experts point to this one scene that killed WCW.
The debut of The Nexus and their trashing of the WWE RAW set.
CM Punk's promo on the 6/27/11 Raw and him leaving with the WWE Title at Money In The Bank.
Ask people in Chicago, and they'll tell you that the Cubs lost the 2003 NLCS because of Steve Bartman. Forget the fact that they couldn't get an out the rest of the inning, and then lost the next game. No, it all comes down to that one play.
It might make Cubs fans feel better to realize that their Arch-Nemesis, the St. Louis Cardinals, had essentially the same thing happen in the 1985 World Series, when the Denkinger Call, a blown umpiring call, entered Cardinals infamy, with the point that they couldn't get out of the inning either, and then also lost the next game. However, it probably doesn't.
Similar with Buckner in the 1986 World Series. The Red Sox had already blown a two run lead with two outs in the 10th inning. Buckner's error allowed the third (albeit winning) run to score. The Red Sox also blew a three run lead the next game to lose the Series. Ask most people why the Red Sox lost that series though, and they'll tell you about the Buckner play.
Carlton Fisk waving a home run ball fair in the 1975 World Series. Of course, Boston lost the series to the Big Red Machine, one of the greater teams in history, but the Fisk home run is what people most focus on.
2013 ALCS. The Red Sox down by four, bottom of the eighth inning in game 2, David Ortiz hits a grand slam, culminating into a walk-off run in the ninth. The image in every New England newspaper the next day was of a BPD officer in the bullpen with his arms raised in excitement as Tigers outfielder Tory Hunter went tumbling into the bullpen trying to catch the ball (though his excitement was more over the home run than Hunter doing a flip over the wall).
1980 Miracle on Ice "Do you believe in miracles?! YES!" Also, the team celebrating after Eruzione's goal to take the lead.
Pelé's goal in the 1958 final, and Maradona's goal versus England in 1986 (no, not the one he punched the ball!).
The 1954 final: Helmut Rahn's winning goal against Hungary ("Aus dem Hintergrund müsste Rahn kommen...") and the West German team lifting coach Sepp Herberger and captain Fritz Walther on their shoulders in the rain after the handing-over of the Jules Rimet Cup. Doubles as a signature scene for the German national team.
The extra time of the "Game of the Century", Italy vs. West Germany 4-3, in Mexico 1970. Fans remember how quickly and often the score changed that they tend to forget how boring the regular 90 minutes were in comparison. (Italy took an early 1-0 lead and then defended it by hook and by crook until Karl-Heinz Schnellinger equalized in the 90th minute).
The 2006 final: French football icon Zinedine Zidane headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi and getting a red card on his last international game.
"The Play." Lateral after lateral allowed UCLA to win the 1982 Big Game with no time left on the clock, with the final receiver even having to run through the Stanford marching band to reach the end zone.
At least the Vikings won that game. Roy Riegels of the California Golden Bears ran the wrong way in the 1929 Rose Bowl against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, only being stopped a couple yards from his own end zone by his own teammate before getting dogpiled. The next play was a blocked punt which yield two points to Georgia Tech, the ultimate difference in an 8-7 loss.
Hamlet with the skull: "To be or not to be..." It's the signature Shakespeare moment, and it's just a mix-up of two different monologues in different acts, making it a case of Beam Me Up, Scotty!. Thematically appropriate, considering the speech is about weighing the options of suicide. Juxtaposing life and death and all that.
The balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet: "O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" Interestingly enough, no balcony is mentioned in the script.
The blood dripping down from the ceiling onto the sheriff in The Girl of the Golden West.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team: Giant Luigi vs. Giant Bowser, both for showing how Luigi Took a Level in Badass and for the crazy climax where Giant Bowser grows even further to become Giant Giant Bowser. And after that, the fight against Dreamy Bowser.
Sub-Zero's fatality... which was actually disturbing back then.
The final shot of a match, with your character posing after a finisher. "Fatality!"
The Idle Animation Pit scene that has the game camera slowly panning down revealing the corpses of past fighters impaled on the blades below.
Goro's introduction, including his lair.
Almost EVERYTHING in Mortal Kombat 9. However, the one scene that garners the most buzz (a lot of it negative) was that of a Brainwashed and Crazy Sindel killing no less than eight heroes in mere minutes. Kung Lao getting his neck snapped by Shao Kahn was unexpected enough, and there was certainly more Wham to come, but this was the moment where MK9 seems to tell you, "This is the extent of how utterly screwed you all are."
FreeSpace: "DIVE! DIVE! DIVE! HIT YOUR BURNERS, PILOT!"
From Asura's Wrath, his battle against Wyzen's giant, country-sized finger is likely to be this, as it's not only in 2 different trailers, but also used as a promotion in a Japanese TV ad for the game.
Pathetic creatures of flesh and bone, you cannot reference System Shock without failing to fathom the perfection of SHODAN, but particularly that speech of hers. Similarly, are you afraid? What is it that you fear? The end of your trivial existence?
The trial scene greatly impacted players because, at the time, no one would suspect that their apparently random and meaningless actions in the beginning of the game would have moral consequences later.
Superman 64 has the first Pass Through the Rings stage, which has become how the game has been remembered by most people. It's such an awful level that many people assume the whole game is like that. It's not- the other levels are, if anything, even worse
More or less the whole series finale for season 3, but especially the Lion-Turtle, the battle between Zuko and Azula, and the music for this scene, and Energybending. "The Ember Island Players" also took what would normally be a Clip Show and turned it into a fan-favorite episode.
Katara and Sokka discovering Aang frozen in the iceberg.