Wham Line

"I think it can be pretty interesting how a single line in a story, even one that's seven words, can dramatically alter the perception of everything that just happened."
Andrew Hussie, via his former Formspring

Whereas a Wham Episode is an episode that radically alters the Story Arc, a Wham Line is a line of dialogue that radically alters a scene.

A scene is headed in one direction, then the line is uttered. Afterwards, the scene is going somewhere very, very different. For it to be effective the audience must not see it coming — not just not knowing the exact information, but not expecting any kind of surprising, or even significant, line there at all. If there was background music playing beforehand, expect it to abruptly come to a stop after the line is said.

This is strictly an audience trope. For a milder in-universe version, see Dropping the Bombshell. Often overlaps with Armor-Piercing Question or Armor-Piercing Response, where the line causes a character to seriously rethink their position.

When something seen by the viewer or reader of visual media radically alters a scene, it's a Wham Shot.

Tends to come in the form of a Reveal. Can fit into a Wham Episode. By the very nature of the trope, spoilers ahead. If we marked them all, the subpages would be 60% white space.

Note: This is not just a line that happens during a Wham Episode. The line itself has to radically change the plot in itself. If the line is the result of events or conversations that are clearly shown on screen, or it's a Foregone Conclusion, then it is not a Wham Line. The line itself has to be completely unexpected.


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    Standup Comedy 

  • From Ellen Degeneres' "The Beginning", telling the audience an (admittedly fictional) story about how she met God. The crowd's reaction to this line says it all.
    Ellen: A couple of minutes later, God walks into the room, carrying a tray... I would say she was about 46, 47 years old... beautiful, beautiful black woman...

    Visual Novels 
  • Steins;Gate:
    • A minor example from episode 3:
    "Human is dead: Mismatch"
    • Counts as something named the Jellyman report doesn't sound particularly serious, but causes Okabe to have a minor Heroic BSOD.
    • Episode 12:
    Moeka: "Shiina Mayuri is not needed." *fires gun at Mayuri*
    • Episode 14:
    Suzuha: "I am the time traveler John Titor."
    • Episode 20:
    Yuugo: (to Moeka) "You sold us out, M4."
    • Episode 22:
    Suzuha: "You must stop World War III."-*EPISODE ENDS*
  • Fleuret Blanc: During a sequence where you can investigate the whereabouts of former FOIL members, the members' statuses appear at the top of the screen as you discover them. When you investigate Etzer, the status update reads "Etzer: Deceased", so you know that something major has happened even before you read the details. This also confirms some of the protagonists' worst suspicions about the villains, immediately heightening the tension of the story.
  • From Saya no Uta, the following line, not so much the line itself, but how it's heard and by who:
    "Welcome home!"
  • The Final line of Block 5, the Pale Bride's story from Analogue: A Hate Story:
    He started to argue, but then he stopped. I think he was patronising me, as if I can't read simple Korean script! He just asked, in the smuggest voice, "Then what should I call you, child?"
    I screamed. I'd already told him a thousand times before.
    "Hyun-ae! My name is Hyun-ae!"

Alternative Title(s):

Kapow Statement, Real Life