Wham Episode: Bleach

Warning: To avoid a completely spoiler-tagged blank page, all spoilers have been left unmarked. Be warned and tread carefully.

  • Aizen not only faked his death and took part in the conspiracy, he's the mastermind behind it all. The entirety of Bleach from here on would never be the same.
  • The Soul Society arc sets the Soul Society's laws up as the problem, given a face by Byakuya, whom was dead-set on killing his sister, Rukia. And then he takes the bullet for her when Gin tries to kill her. When asked why, he reveals that his wife Hisana (who looks like Rukia), was actually Rukia's sister, and he adopted her into the family to fulfill a promise he made to a dying Hisana. The reason he was set on executing her was not because of the law, but because he also made a promise to his dead parents to uphold the law. Now that Ichigo's freed him from this problem, he stops being an anatogonist and becomes one of Ichigo's staunchest allies.
  • After debuting as a cat with a masculine voice, it was rather surprising to see Yoruichi Shihoin turn out to be a female human, and a former captain of the Gotei 13, at that. It changes the entire dynamics of the group's relationship with her from that moment on.
  • Chapter 186: Uryuu is not the Last Quincy like everyone thought, and the phrase doesn't mean what he thought it meant. His father is still alive, is the official Last Quincy, and is refusing to use his power for an unspecified reason.
  • Chapter 188: Isshin Kurosaki is secretly a Shinigami who voluntarily sacrificed his power and has a history with Urahara. Both he and Urahara have been expecting the Visoreds to contact Ichigo for years and they've known about Aizen for years longer than Soul Society has.
  • We learn that there were two Hogyokus, both separately created by Aizen and Urahara. Aizen set up the entire conspiracy in the Soul Society arc to steal Urahara's Hogyoku and fuse it with his own, as neither was complete or even capable of being complete on its own.
  • Chapter 458. The Arc Villain is revealed to be Ginjou, not Tsukishima. He was bookmarked at the beginning to become Ichigo's friend and the entire arc has been about him devising a way to obtain Ichigo's power.

Thousand Year Blood War Arc
The Thousand Year Blood War has been filled with so many different wham episodes that it might as well be said the entire arc is a wham episode in its own right.

  • Chapter 480: The biggest reveal since Aizen's betrayal is that the Quincies are not dead.
  • The rather brutal murder of Chojiro Sasakibe, proving that yes, good guys can and will die, even in Bleach.
  • Chapter 485: Hueco Mundo is no longer under the control of the Arrancar. It's fallen to Vandenreich occupation. Furthermore, we see that Harribel has been captured by the Vandenreich, effectively serving as a warning to all who venture near Yhwach's turf.
  • Chapter 499: For the first time in the entire story, the Soul Society openly seeks help from Ichigo, after we learn that a third of the Gotei 13's forces have been decimated by thousands in the space of only a few minutes. Not even Aizen created this much havoc.
  • Chapter 502: Byakuya, previously thought by the fandom to have unassailable plot armour, is curb-stomped in one of the most graphic attacks in the entire manga.
  • Chapter 511: Yamamoto is slaughtered and the Seireitei is overrun by the Stern Ritter's ground troops, officially defeated.
  • Chapter 514: Ichigo's time in Opie's prison actually awakened his innate, but largely dormant, Quincy energy, allowing him to use Blut Vene.
  • Chapter 516: Broken bankai can never be restored to their original form, thereby redefining the power levels of every shinigami that has experienced a broken bankai in the story, including Mayuri, Ikkaku, Renji, and Ichigo. Komamura's the only exception to the rule because of the way his bankai works. Even though the damage done to it is reflected on him, if he undergoes healing it will fully restore his bankai.
  • Chapter 520: Shunsui Kyouraku, once the Lazy Bum, takes over as the new captain-commander. Unlike Yamamoto's era, where captains - even Yamamoto - could not question the decisions of the Central 46, Kyouraku begins to fight decisions from the moment he's promoted. It's the first sign that the Gotei 13 will now function in a different way to how it functioned in the past.

Everything but the Rain
A mini-arc within the main Thousand Year Blood War Arc that deals with events 20 years in the past that have a major impact on the present storyline.

  • Chapter 535: Quincies cannot undergo Hollowfication and will experience Soul Suicide instead unless extraordinary intervention occurs. Isshin didn't lose his power; he bound it to Masaki's soul to halt the Soul Suicide. The only reason Masaki ever lived long enough to marry and have children was because Isshin's power kept her alive.
  • Chapter 537: Yhwach possesses the ability to take back the power and lives from anyone with Quincy blood. Doing this nine years ago led to the deaths of both Ichigo and Uryuu's mothers, and is therefore Ichigo and Uryuu's most dangerous and personal enemy ever... except Uryuu has just joined the Vandenreich as Yhwach's "son".

The Thousand Year Blood War: The Farewell Story
  • Chapter 539: Komamura's revealed to be part of a unique secret race that's in hiding, that possesses a great secret that can allow Komamura to compensate for his loss of Bankai, and which carries the knowledge of the truth about Soul Society: that Shinigami are not the original rulers of Soul Society.
  • Chapter 540: Zangetsu isn't actually Ichigo's Zanpakuto. He's the personification of Ichigo's Quincy powers, which have taken the form of a younger Yhwach from 1000 years ago. Furthermore, it's the Hollow that's Ichigo's real Zanpakuto.
  • Chapter 543: The entire chapter changes the view and flavour of the Vandenreich completely. Remember when Opie mentioned Soken and Uryuu Ishida by name? Turns out, Opie was the only one to know of either. We learn of this through Yhwach nominating Uryu as his successor (over Haschwalth, the previous favorite). The army is so taken aback by Yhwach's choice as to suggest that the troops are loyal not to Yhwach, but to Haschwalth.
  • Chapter 544: Uryu was the only mixed-blood to survive the Holy Selection, and is the only Quincy in history to have resisted it, because of a mysterious special power that Yhwach wants to know more about. Haschwalth deduces a second reason: Yhwach is expecting Uryuu to betray him, and Yhwach believes in keeping your friends close and your enemies even closer. Even if Ishida was planning to mount an assassination, the scrutiny from the Stern Ritters will prevent him from doing so. This nips fan expectations over a protagonist joining the antagonist's side in the bud.
  • Chapter 546: Yhwach transforms Seireitei, causing the city to completely vanish and be replaced by the Quincy city of Silbern. From now on, the storyline is occurring in Quincy territory, not Shinigami territory.
  • Chapter 556: Komamura's past changes the understanding of the Soul Society and how spiritual punishment works. Werewolves exist and in the distant past were turned into animals for their unspecified sins. In exchange for beating his ancestor, Komamura learns the secret clan technique - rip out the heart, become human, and regain your full power.
  • Chapter 565: Yhwach's backstory and powers are revealed. He has an ability to distribute pieces of his soul into the souls of other individuals, and when they die, those pieces return to Yhwach with all the memories, experience and powers that those people possessed in life. By doing so, he can make himself more powerful and prolong his own life. This is how Quincies were created, but most importantly, the whole Gotei has now been infected with pieces of Yhwach's soul... meaning EVERY death on the battlefield increases Yhwach's power.
  • Chapter 614: Ichigo does not save the Soul King. His Quincy blood causes him to kill the Soul King himself.
  • Chapter 621: Yhwach starts absorbing the Soul King, releasing the seals on the Soul King's power. The power floods Soul Society, attacking the Soul King's enemies. Not the Quincies, however; the enemies of the Soul King are now the Shinigami.
  • Chapter 633: Every few decades an apparently powerless Quincy would be born and culled until Yhwach is born. Then a period of two centuries passes without one being born at all until Haschwalth. Yhwach explains these legendary Quincies have the ability to share power instead of absorbing reishi just like Yhwach. Unlike Yhwach, they cannot also steal power. This leads to complete reinterpretation of both Uryuu and Ichigo's abilities given Uryuu's alleged lack of talent and Ichigo's apparently unique inability to manipulate reishi the way both Quincies and Shinigami can. It also indicates that Yhwach cannot be the original Quincy he claims to be, given that Quincies were being born before he came along.