"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."
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
, 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.
: This is not just a line that happens during a Wham Episode. The line itself has to radically change the plot in itself. If there is Foreshadowing, 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. Also note that a wham line isn't always a bad thing.