A Wham Episode
radically alters a Story Arc
while a Wham Line
is a line that radically alters a scene.
An unexpected move, or even a change of expression of one of the characters, can be all that's needed to alter a scene completely. It can actually be any event that doesn't need any characters commenting it for the viewer to realise an important twist is happening. In literature or any other written narratives, the Wham Line
and the Wham Shot can be the same thing. In visual media however, the Wham Line
tends to be a line of dialogue. The Wham Shot is anything else that can happen to alter a scene and is visible to the viewer or reader. Like its verbal or written cousin, the Wham Shot can be part of a Wham Episode
or of The Reveal
. It also has to be completely unexpected.
Different from Reveal Shot
as it doesn't necessarily involve moving the camera to show the surprising element, but overlapping between the two tropes can be quite frequent.
Possible special cases: Revealing Hug
, Traitor Shot
, Reaction Shot
, The Stinger
, The Gut Punch
, and/or the last frame of a Staggered Zoom
Warning: unmarked spoilers below
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Anime and Manga
- A lot of these occur in Bleach, at a surprising rate.
- In Rukia's flashback, she calls out to Kaien after his fight with Metastacia seemingly concludes, but he turns around as his appearance has changed, revealing that he's possessed by Metastacia.
- Yoruichi Shihoin, the cat with a masculine voice, transforming into a human female, was rather surprising.
- There's the now-iconic image of the thought-to-be-dead Captain Aizen stabbing his loyal lieutenant Hinamori, revealing himself to be the Big Bad.
- Byakuya spent the majority of the Soul Society arc hell-bent on executing his sister, Rukia, so it was quite a shock to see him Taking the Bullet for her versus Gin.
- Right at the beginning of the Arrancar arc, we see Shinji Hirako revealing that he has both a Zanpakuto and a Hollow mask, of which there was no such thing until then.
- Seeing the goofy, perverted Isshin Kurosaki appear with a captains' robe was quite the sight. As was his effortless defeat of Grand Fisher, the murderer of his wife.
- Nelliel transforming back into her adult form, ready to fight the 5th Espada, Nnoitra Gilga. When she turns around to face her old comrade, Ichigo can see the number "3" tattooed on her back. The result is a Curb-Stomp Battle in favor of Nelliel in the first half of the fight.
- After Grimmjow and Nnoitra were defeated, Starrk suddenly teleports to Orihime and takes her back to the pillars, where Ulquiorra is awaiting Ichigo.
- Ulquiorra Cifer, once thought of as the strongest Espada, ripping his shirt to show his number tattoo is not 1, but 4.
- Hitsugaya running his sword through Aizen. Until we see Ichigo having a Freak Out. The illusion dissipates, revealing that Hitsugaya actually stabbed Hinamori.
- Ishida saying "that man" was the one who stabbed him. The next thing we see is not a panel of Tsukishima, but one of Ginjo.
- More recently, we see a Vasto Lorde bearing Ichigo's Hollow mask.
- Uryu Ishida showing up with Vandenreich attire as he approached Yhwach.
- In Death Note, this is how Light's father and the police inspector working on the Kira case are revealed to be the same person to the viewer.
- At the beginning of the eighth chapter of the Yu-Gi-Oh! GX manga, Sho launches an attack on his opponent's monster. When the smoke clears, it is revealed that his opponent is Judai. Shortly thereafter, it is revealed how they were forced to duel each other.
- The Stinger of episode 10 of the animated adaptation of Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!, where Rikka, who always wears a yellow contact lens on her right eye and put an eyepatch over it as part of her "Evil Eye" gimmick, takes off her eyepatch to reveal... a perfectly-normal blue eye.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, the photo showing a much younger Pinako with Hoheneim looking identical to his present self.
- From Naruto, this is how we finally see the at first unidentified corpse that scared the Masked Man into working with Kabuto: it's the real Uchiha Madara.
- In the Search for Tsunade arc, there are shots of Sasuke frantically racing to get to Naruto before Itachi, who's hunting for the Nine-Tailed Fox inside Naruto, can do so. Sasuke reaches a door, seemingly that of the inn room where Naruto is staying, and knocks, while Naruto, hearing a knock on his door, gets up to answer it. The next pages show that Sasuke found the wrong room, and Naruto opens his door to see Itachi and Kisame, who have tracked him down.
- Done in Dragon Ball when Raditz first appears, which featured him searching for someone named Kakarot. The very last shot of his introductory appearance in both the anime and manga shows what Kakarot looks like, revealing him to be Goku when he was a baby.
- The epic pan out at the end of the first episode of Now and Then, Here and There as Shu hangs from the bottom of the Hellywood, showing the immense, desolate scope of the blasted alien world he's tumbled into and how tiny and insignificant he is there. Any thoughts of this being a standard shonen adventure are gone.
- Chapter 731 of One Piece has one at the very end: After Luffy sees a certain mysterious man and has an epic Jaw Drop, he is later seen crying. When Zoro tries to snap him out of it and asks why he's crying, Luffy answers that he always thought that person was dead. We then get a shot of three sake cups at Ace and Whitebeard's graves, very strongly implying (if not indirectly confirming) that said person is Sabo.
- In Sanji's backstory, he, trapped on an island with Zeff, is led to believe that Zeff has taken the majority of the food. Out of food and literally starving to death, he plans on trying to steal Zeff's stash, and cuts open the bag he thinks contains the food. Treasure then spills out, revealing that Zeff gave all the food to Sanji, and Sanji notices Zeff's missing leg, and realizes the sacrifices Zeff had made for him.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion has one when Homura confronts Sayaka. She realizes Sayaka shouldn't exist, and asks her who she is. Sayaka insists that she's exactly who Homura thinks she is. Cue the sky darkening and Oktavia von Seckendorff appearing in the puddle they're standing on...
- The original series has one that takes repeat viewing after episode 10 to see: Homura's pained expression as Kyubey reach Madoka in the very first episode.
- Much earlier in the series, there was the shot of Mami's decapitated body hanging from Charlotte's mouth.
- Toward the end of Pokémon Origins, very few fans were surprised to see Red's Charizard Mega Evolve, as it was hinted at even in the initial trailer. However, everyone was caught completely off guard when the aforementioned Mega Evolution took place...and a completely different version of Mega Charizard appeared. This was immediately followed by the announcement that Charizard was, in fact, getting a different Mega Evolution in each version of X and Y
- In Saki Shinohayu Dawn Of Age, Mafuka, an Idol Singer, saves Hayari from a man who is trying to harm her for calling him out on his behavior, then shows her the same trick with a mahjong tile that the woman Hayari met in the hospital showed her. Hayari then realizes that the Idol Singer she initially found somewhat annoying and the woman she admired are the same person, presumably eventually leading her to become the kind of mahjong player she is in the present story.
- School Rumble episode 10 had Harima declaring his love for Tenma, but it was Eri by mistake.
Film - Animated
- In Up, such a shot reveals that Carl's house is now in the middle of a construction area.
- In Wreck-It Ralph, when Ralph sees Vanellope's picture on the side of the Sugar Rush arcade cabinet, which therefore shows that she's meant to be in the game, causing him to suspect something's up.
- The shot in ParaNorman that reveals that the witch is just a scared little girl, who looks uncannily like Norman.
- Monsters University has a shot that reveals the door that Mike found and opened to the human world doesn't have one child, but an entire summer camp.
- Slightly earlier, after the competition ends, Mike approaches the machine that measures the screams, and snaps his fingers. The machine registers a high score, just like it did when he tried to scare the child, causing him to realize it has been tampered with.
- In The LEGO Movie, when Emmet falls off of the edge of the universe, he wakes up and finds himself in a basement. As in, a live-action, human basement. That's right, we're in the real world now.
- Later, we someone coming downstairs. "The Man from Upstairs", as he's affectionately called, is Will Ferrell...who voices Lord Business.
Film - Live Action
- The shot revealing "Rosebud" at the end of Citizen Kane.
- The shot of Mother in Psycho.
- In Vertigo when Judy flashes back to pretending to be Madeleine to help fake her suicide.
- Planet of the Apes: The shot of the buried Statue of Liberty, showing that the astronauts were on Earth All Along.
- In Iron Man, when the black jeep drives into the terrorists' camp and Obadiah Stane gets out.
- Iron Man 3, as the movie nears its climax, the scene briefly cuts to Tony's wrecked home; a hidden underground room was shrouded in complete darkness, until more than a dozen arc reactors start lighting up the place.
- The end of Remember Me: after the main character waits in his father's office, a teacher writes the date on the board: September 11, 2001. Then - to show just how relevant that date is - it zooms out of the office, which is revealed to be in the Twin Towers.
- From The Prestige, when we finally get to see that the mysterious Lord Caldlow is actually Angier, who appeared to die at the start of the film.
- In The Third Man, when the light goes on in the doorway, revealing Harry Lime.
- The Stinger to The Avengers gives us the final shot of Thanos, the Mad Titan turning toward the camera... and smiling.
- Oblivion (2013): When Jack and Julia crash-land in a supposedly radioactive area. they spy a second plane land on the ground, and watch as the pilot gets out from a distance. It's another Jack.
- Final Destination 5's ending has this for a wham shot. After they're convinced that they're off Death's list, Molly and Sam head off on an airplane to France, where everything is pretty normal... until Sam looks over and sees two people getting thrown off the plane. Didn't get that? Turns out the people getting thrown out were Alex Browning and Carter Horton, the duo who are some of the survivors to the Flight 180 Disaster, the very same disaster seen in the first movie. Yeah, this just became a prequel.
- In We Need to Talk About Kevin, when Eva comes home after witnessing Kevin turned himself in, she opens the curtain covering the patio (just like in the film's opening scene) and discovers the true reason why Franklin wasn't answering her calls all evening: Franklin and Celia were both killed by Kevin's arrows BEFORE his massacre at the school.
- The Dark Knight: Batman arrives at the address Joker gave him to save Rachel. He bursts through the door to find not Rachel, but Harvey.
- After Tommy drops Jason into the tractor harrows in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, a closeup on the corpse reveals that the killer wasn't Jason after all, but someone else.
- The ending of "Basic Instinct" Catherine is seen reaching under the bed during the final scene with Nick but when she brings up her hand it's empty. The final shot pans down to show an icepick under the bed... implying Catherine is the real killer
- Toward the end of Thor: The Dark World, as Thor leaves the throne room, Odin is revealed to be Loki in disguise.
- During the big duel at the funhouse in The Man with the Golden Gun, Scaramanga goes near the statue of Bond where he finished off the last person out to get him. Then there's a shot from behind the statue, and its fingers that he shot off before has somehow come back....
- During the climax of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, we see Judge Doom get run over by a steamroller...and survives, revealing himself to be a Toon.
Live Action TV
- The shot at the end of Community episode "Introduction To Finality" revealing Starburns faked his death.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this is how we see that Tara has been shot by Warren.
- On The West Wing after the shooting the camera follows Toby around the scene, and all of a sudden comes across Josh, who has been shot and has a massive bloody chest wound.
- On Twin Peaks, one of these shows us that Bob is possessing Leland Palmer. Actually, pretty any time we see Bob comes off as one of these, as he's so strange looking and was used so sparingly.
- At the end of Breaking Bad Season 4, the wham shot reveals that Walter White had Lillies of the Valley growing in his back yard, more or less proving that he was the one who poisoned Brock, albeit non-lethally, and that he's been playing Gus and Jesse for the entire stretch of the finale.
- Earlier in that episode, there is a wham shot preceded by a wham sound: Gus is about to kill Hector Salamanca, but Hector starts tapping his dinger, which isn't dinging properly. It is revealed that he let Walter strap his bomb on the bottom of Hector's wheelchair and Hector suicide-bombs Gus and his henchman Tyrus to get revenge on Gus for wiping out his family.
- At the end of Gliding Over All Hank goes to Walt's bathroom and happens to pick up his copy of Leaves Of Grass...and finds a dedication to "W.W." from "G.B." One flashback later, and Hank finally discovers Walt's secret.
- Near the end of Confessions has the look on Jesse's face when he realizes that Huell lifted his weed off of him. We see him finally come to the conclusion that Walt had him do the same thing with the ricin and that Walt was the one who poisoned Brock.
- The penultimate episode of the series, Granite State has Walt call the DEA to give himself up and settle down to have a last drink before being captured, only to see his former Grey Matter business partners talking on television about him. The police raid the bar he called from, the final shot being his still full glass left alone on the counter.
- The shot of the scorched remains of Earth in Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined).
- Doctor Who:
- The last scene of the pilot episode of Perception reveals that Natalie is another of Daniel's hallucinations.
- The climax of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy's "Power of Pink" has Pink Ranger Kendrix Morgan go into a dangerous series of forcefields to destroy an Artifact of Doom that would destroy the Rangers space colony. She succeeds but gets caught up in a massive explosion. Minutes later her fellow Rangers (and the audience) see her ghost.
- The beginning of Chandler and Monica's relationship in Friends was one. More precisely Monica turning out to be under Chandler's covers just after Ross briefly barges into his room to express his happiness over getting married to Emily.
- In the third season of 24, the viewer sees someone helping out the Mexican drug cartel for the first few episodes. Then the operative leaves his office and steps into CTU, revealing that he is also The Mole (or so the viewers thought at the time).
- Even better is the very end of Season 1, Episode 23, where Nina Meyers is the mole. Similarly played in Season 5, Episode 16, where Dragon Christopher Henderson is talking to his accomplice on the phone which in turn is revealed to be the President of the United States.
- Heartbreakingly done at the end of the first season where Jack runs into the room his wife his been tied up in only to discover the bullet wound in her chest as he attempts to rouse her.
- Late in Day 8, Jack and Renee are racing against the clock to save President Hassan from terrorists who are broadcasting a live feed of their "trial" of Hassan before they execute him. They burst in just in time and kill the terrorists. Jack then spots one of the video feeds showing that the terrorists are still alive and unharmed, revealing that it's not a live broadcast but a recording, and that Hassan has already been killed.
- From the season 2 finale of Pretty Little Liars, the gum wrapper that A was using as a bookmark. It's the same brand that Mona was chewing earlier.
- Also in "The Lady Killer" where Mona's accomplice is revealed be Toby
- Perhaps the Wham Shot to end them all as far as this series is concerned: The Season 3 finale, when it's revealed that the mysterious "Red Coat" is Alison.
- In Game of Thrones the Wham moment in Episode 1 isn't Jaime's "The things I do for love," but the fact that he pushes Bran out the window right after saying it.
- In 'The Rains of Castamere', it's the shot of Catelyn pulling back Roose's sleeve to reveal chainmail that clues the audience into Roose being a traitor, and therefore the whole wedding being a trap. Then the knives come out.
- In Haven, it is prophesied that a man with a circular maze tattoo on his arm will kill Duke Crocker. The second season finale ends with Duke looking on in horror as Nathan Wuornos sports the tattoo and threatens him with a gun.
- As if the season finale of Hannibal wasn't Wham-y enough ( Short version: Will Graham is framed for Hannibal Lecter's murders), the final scene shows Will in what will become Hannibal Lecter's jail cell.
- In the season 2 episode Takiawase, Beverly Katz discovers Hannibal's hidden basement, and whatever he has stored down there. She turns on the lights to get a better look, revealing Hannibal standing mere feet behind her, and ensuring to the viewers that Beverly is guaranteed to not get out of this alive.
- The first appearance of the Super Sentai army, preparing to fight off the Zangyack invasion, at the beginning of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger.
- In episode 40, the Gokaigers were sent to the past in order to supposedly claim a Grand Power. The episode ends but they didn't get a new power; however, a quick cut shows the temple they protected while in the past is home to something: the magic jar containing Ninjaman.
- In Merlin a Wham Shot takes place when Arthur notices Guinevere and Lancelot exchanging a Held Gaze and Holding Hands.
- In LOST, at the end of the season 4 finale, Jack has opened the coffin of "Jeremy Benthem," though we can't see inside of it yet. Then the camera pans over so we can see who "Jeremy Benthem" really is... and it's Locke!
- Another one earlier in the season: One of the people on the boat is Michael
- In the season 3 finale, there was Kate appearing at the end of Jack's flashbacks showing that it's actually a flashforward taking place after they get off the island.
- At the end of the fourth episode, Locke in a wheelchair at the end of his last flashback. All previous flashbacks throughout it had him behind a desk or in bed.
- How I Met Your Mother
- The titular mother appearing for the very first time in the season 8 finale "Something New".
- In "Vesuvius", after The Mother said that "What mother is going to miss her daughter’s wedding?", Ted gave a sorrowful reaction to it, suggesting that the she is dying.
- The Walking Dead
- The last walker coming out of the barn in "Pretty Much Dead Already" turns out to be their lost Tagalong Kid Sophia.
- Shane and Randall reanimating without getting bitten or scratched by other walkers in the same episode.
- The reappearance of The Governor in "Interment" means that things will get chaotic again.
- Once Upon a Time The urn full of magic that even Rumple felt was too dangerous to use tips over. Blue liquid pours out over the ritual sigil left on the floor, taking humanoid shape...and Queen Elsa shoots a bolt of blast of frost from her fingertips before walking out.
- In the fan game Story Of The Blanks, based on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the viewer (and Applebloom) gets quite the Wham Shot when they look into the fireplace and discover the charred remains of a pony skeleton. This is one of the first clues (but definitely the most jarring) that Sunny Town is not at all the bright, friendly town that it seems.
- Midna's tear cracking the Mirror of Twilight at the end of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It may have been briefly foreshadowed during the game, but not long before she does it, she says "As long as that mirror's around, we could meet again."
- In World of Warcraft, as the Alliance and Horde forces march into battle in the Jade Forest, Lorewalker Cho completes his restoration project. He then reacts in horror as the finished third image shows a Sha rising, signifying that the Alliance and Horde's war will empower the Sha, which feed on negative emotions.
- In the Alliance version of the ending for Mists of Pandaria, after Garrosh's defeat, Varian walks up to the Horde leaders and demands to speak with their Warchief. The crowd parts and reveals Vol'jin, rather than Thrall.
- In the Japanese version of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, due to censorship, every cyborg in the game bleeds white blood, with one exception: Samuel Rodrigues, who is shown bleeding red blood, revealing that the character in question barely has any cybernetic enhancements. In the international release, every character has red blood, so Parrot Exposition is used to reveal this.
- Spec Ops: The Line has the infamous white phosphorus incident, where the Player Character unleashes a toxic chemical weapon upon some enemies that also kills unsuspecting civilians. Walking through the enemy camp carpeted with mutilated soldiers is disturbing enough (especially because several are still being burned alive). The shot of a civilian woman's corpse futilely shielding the corpse of her child brings the wham - the sound of the game's tone plummeting from "ambiguous and bleak" to "lightless depths of madness".
- Halo 4 the third level named "Forerunner", Master Chief activates a satellite to contact the Infinity, but he unwittingly ends up freeing the Didact, a living Forerunner.
- Virtue's Last Reward has several. In Luna's route, Luna can briefly be seen outside the AB Room before Round 3 starts, when she's supposed to be dead.
- In K's route, Sigma pulls off K's mask to see that he looks just like Sigma.
- Sigma bleeding white blood.
- In Persona 3, after defeating The Hanged Man, the party returns to the dorm to celebrate the fact that the Dark Hour is gone for good. But when you see the usual Dark Hour intro animation play the following night, you know you're in for a Wham Episode...
- At the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2, the time gates are closing, the paradox is resolved, Hope's Cocoon is ascending, and Noel, Serah, and Mog are safe...and then you see Etro's Gate shining in Serah's eyes.
- Super Dangan Ronpa 2: At the end of Chapter Five, Hinata is left in a state of shock that lasts a whole day due to the outcome of the chapter's trial. The next day, he comes out of his cottage, and is greeted by Nanami, who died in the previous trial. And then the world gets seriously weird...
- The image of a lifeless Earth in Blue Planet: Age of Aquarius after it's been bombarded into oblivion by the Shivans.
- Also the appearance of the Shivan super-juggernaut SJ Dante in the second-to-last mission definitely counts.
- After a boss-fight in Dead Rising 3 Nick's friend Diego brings him into a museum that is used to explain the plot of the first 2 games, and points to an exhibit of a zombie that caused an outbreak in 2007. Diego points out one minor detail in the picture, which the game zooms in on. The zombie has a tattoo... in the same place and manner of Nick, the main character.
- In Mega Man X8, Axl's ending sees him being rendered comatose after a Last Breath Bullet from Lumine. As he was carried back to Earth, a fragment of what Lumine attacked him with is seen in his forehead crystal, shining ominously. Unfortunately, nothing ever came out of it; the next chronological game, Mega Man X: Command Mission, never alluded to the event, and the series is currently defunct.
- In Jak 3: Wastelander, the cutscene "The Strange Gets Stranger" has a Precursor statue opening, revealing that the Precursors are ottsels. The characters present react accordingly.
- At the end of the first FEAR game, the camera pans down from the image of Alma's second birth to show her medical file, which lists her name as "Alma Wade." That one shot changes the context of 90% of the previous game.
- At the end of Act 1 of Broken Age, the camera shows Vella lying on the beach after defeating Mog Chothra, only for Shay to stumble out of the monster, revealing that his "spaceship" was Mog Chothra all along.
- In the second generation of Phantasy Star III, you have to take a spaceship to one of the two moons orbiting your world (whichever moon you travel to depends on your hero in this generation). When you take off in the spaceship, you find out that you're not living on a planet, but that the game takes place on a Generation Ship.
- The Order of the Stick:
- In Secret Of Mana Theater, during the fight with the Spiky Tiger, Faun draws the sword she claimed Elinee had stolen, revealing that she had stolen it and was manipulating him into helping her rescue Dyluck. The significance of doing so is not lost on Seth, and he becomes quite upset.
- Narbonic: in the last comic of the arc "Professor Madblood and the Everlasting Ices of the North", Dave looks at a holographic projection of a quote from "Alice in Wonderland", and his glasses clear because he has just Gone Mad From The Revelation that he is really a mad scientist and Helen has been experimenting on him for the entire run of the comic.
- Housepets!: For the comic strip titled "Hand to Hand" (Nov. 13, 2013), Jata, the VERY MUSCULAR crown Prince of Feraga, has just laid waste to his own arrange wedding, knocked his forced-bride-to-be into the pool, and is currently beating the stuffing out of his own bodyguards (who have turned on him because of his insensitivity to the feelings of his own bride) with no sign of stopping until Uncle Deadeye, the mute bodyguard seen in two previous strips, stops Jata's fist from connecting with the back of Miles' head, SMILING as he does it! We then cut away while someone in the audience says "Wow, I didn't know cats could bend like THAT."