"The Bridge": Skye's faith in Coulson is damaged by May admitting they're not looking for her parents, Centipede kidnaps Coulson, Mike is seemingly killed in an explosion covering Centipede's escape, and Ward gets shot in the process.
"The Magical Place" finally addresses the mystery of Coulson's apparent death and resurrection — he was dead for days before being revived with fringe technology, and SHIELD had his memories rewritten to stop him being a Death Seeker from the trauma. And if that wasn't whamy enough, the last scene reveals that Mike is still alive, but minus a leg and prisoner of Centipede.
"Seeds" sheds at least some light on Skye's mysterious past: she's an 0-8-4, apparently with latent powers of some sort, and the S.H.I.E.L.D agents who rescued her as an infant hid her in the foster system to protect her. And like the previous episode, the last scene is used to further the Myth Arc: Ian Quinn is revealed to be working for The Clairvoyant.
"T.R.A.C.K.S.": Mike is transformed into The Clairvoyant's new cyborg enforcer, Deathlok. Meanwhile, Skye is left comatose after being shot by Quinn.
"T.A.H.I.T.I.": Coulson finally learns exactly how Fury brought him back: through the transplant of alien tissues turned into potent drugs. What's more, Skye is given a similar treatment.
"Yes Men" is for the most part an ordinary episode, until the very end reveals that May is spying on the team for (presumably) the SHIELD conspiracy that resurrected Coulson.
"End of the Beginning": SHIELD finally catches up to the Clairvoyant, only for Ward to shoot him dead. Skye and Coulson realize that it was set up a little too neatly, and that the Clairvoyant isn't a psychic, but a high-level SHIELD agent. Fitz discovers May's mole-line, and during the confrontation over that, the Bus is remotely hijacked and begins heading to the Hub, where Victoria Hand prepares to kill everyone aboard. The Stinger features a scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, showing Nick Fury being attacked by the Winter Soldier.
"Turn, Turn, Turn": In addition to integrating the big twists from Captain America: The Winter Soldier (namely, that SHIELD has been infiltrated by HYDRA, events at the Triskelion have effectively destroyed SHIELD, and Nick Fury is (presumed) dead) into the series, the episode has its own: May was reporting to Fury, and picked out the team to deal with Coulson should his resurrection have side effects. Victoria Hand is a loyal agent whose actions at the end of the previous episode are motivated by mistrust of Coulson. Garrett is the Clairvoyant and is working for HYDRA. While escorting Garrett to prison, Ward kills everyone else aboard, including Hand, to free him.
An incredibly startling example is the episode "Phase One", which aired after the Super Bowl in 2003. Sydney was suddenly able to bring SD-6 crashing down, take down The Alliance, and hook up with Vaughn, essentially changing the entire premise of the show. This falls under the category of Retooling as well as a Wham Episode. Francine gets Killed Off for Real by her Doppelgänger in the same episode. Especially notable as this wasn't a premiere or Cliffhanger finale. This happens in the middle of Season two with almost no warning.
The end of "Almost Thirty Years", where The Man Behind the Man is revealed to be Sydney's mother, who is not only still alive, but the KGB agent Jack was acleveragecused of being.
The end of "The Truth", when Sydney wakes up in an alley, with a new scar, and goes on to discover that she's missing 2 years of her life, everyone thinks she's dead, Vaughn has married, etc.
And before all of these was the pilot, which is two hours of Wham in a one hour cannon. Sydney's fiance is killed after she tells him she's a spy for the CIA, she finds out she's not a spy for the CIA and she actually works for the bad guys, SD-6 is trying to kill her, and her estranged father is a total badass spy who's also a double agent for the real CIA.
"Reunion": Angel locks the entire Wolfram & Hart Special Projects Division in a room with a pissed off Darla and Drusilla, then returns home and fires Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn.
"A Hole in the World". A primordial evil devours Fred whole; and the cute stuffed animal Higgenbotham introduced at the start as Fred's security blanket, when at the end she tearfully begs that she needs Higgenbotham, but Illyria has devoured so much of Fred's soul that Fred realizes that she no longer remembers who Higgenbotham is, and throws a third Chekhov's Gun onto the heap with Lorne, whose behavior the rest of the ep seems out of character: he violently decks someone when before he was a pacifist, and is almost hesitant about seeking his contacts for help.
"Sleep Tight" takes the status quo that had been built up in Season 3 and straight up murders it. Wesley kidnaps Connor in a misguided attempt to keep him safe, only to get his throat slit and left to die as a reward. A four-sided confrontation goes down between Angel, Lilah, Sahjahn and Holtz over what happens to the boy, and Holtz winds up taking Connor with him through a portal into a hell dimension. Cue two months of reruns.
"Lineage" reveals just how drastically Wesley's changed from his introduction in Buffy. He's gone from a stuttering, smitten, stickler for rules to a man whom his father points out is working for the enemy, and who ends up gunning down his father without hesitation when the man threatens Fred, to Wesley's own horror. When Fred offers up that Wesley must've known deep down that his father was a robot, Wesley corrects her, saying he was absolutely certain he was killing the real deal. In a lesser series this would've meant Fred realized the depths of his affection for her, but not on Angel. Wesley spends the final moments of the episode awkwardly trying to reconcile with his abusive father, who angrily and dismissively admonishes his son for calling him at such an early hour.
"Forgiving" in Season 3. The ending scene when Angel visits Wesley in the hospital, where he's recovering from having his throat cut. Angel has what starts out as a normal, calm conversation, assuring Wes that it was Angel talking, not Angelus. cue Angel's face contorting with rage, not vamping out, but even scarier, and doing his level best to kill Wes in his hospital bed!!
"Home". Angel and crew are offered the LA branch of Wolfram & Hart, with Angel as CEO. They take the deal.
The first season finale of Arrested Development reveals that George Sr. has been building houses for Saddam Hussein's army in Iraq. Also, Gob tries to take over the Bluth Company, Tobias and Lindsey have marital issues, George-Michael has a girlfriend, and George Sr. is on the run.
Ashes to Ashes has these every other episode, but 1x08's revelation that Gene was the one who took young!Alex's hand after the explosion that killed her parents and 2x08, where Alex is shot by Gene in 1982, wakes up in 2008 to her daughter, only to find Gene speaking to her through her television in "the real world" are both off the charts.
Season Three kicks off in a big way: Gene has gone on the run for shooting Alex; Ray has made DI and is in charge of Fenchurch East; Chris and Shaz have broken up; Alex gets back to 1983 and discovers a file on Sam Tyler hidden in Gene's cabinet; and DCI Jim Keats, who claims to want to help Alex and has been nothing but genial to everyone suddenly turns around and tells Gene he hates him and he's going to bring him down. Oh, and Gene did something terrible three years ago (coincidentally, around the time Sam "died" in this universe) that Keats will expose. Welcome to series 3, everybody!
Both seasons 2 and 3 have a clear Wham Episode around Episode 6/7. In the second season it's Martin Summers spectacularly averting Never the Selves Shall Meet by arranging a meeting between himself, Alex Drake and his younger self. He then shoots his younger self in the face and leaves a hysterical Alex to hide the body. Season three has the death of Viv and Jim Keats crossing the Moral Event Horizon from 'creepy Designated Villain' to 'literally Satanic'.
In the Season One finale of Atlantis it is revealed that Jason's father is a Leper and his mother is Queen Pasiphae, but only to the audience. Jason still doesn't know
The appropriately titled "The Breaking Point" has 5 prominent members leave Easy Company: Guarnere and Toye lose their legs during an artillery strike, Buck has an emotional breakdown and is transferred out of the unit, and Muck and Penkala are killed by a direct hit from artillery, while in their foxhole no less. And that's before the unit attacks the fortified town of Foye, taking even more casualties.
"Why We Fight" has Easy Company stumble upon and liberate the Landsberg concentration camp.
The new Battlestar Galactica does this kind of thing with awesomeness, and on a (very) regular basis:
In "33", the first series episode, we start out in the middle of a situation, with five days of non-stop running, 50,000 humans left, and the hero wipes out 1,500 of the survivors to "save the day". A week after the genocide. (Oh, and that guy's alive.) To bring this into perspective; 1,500 deaths out of a 50,000 total is 3% of all humans killed by the hero. This would be similar to killing about 200 million people on present-day earth.
Honestly, the pilot mini-series, with a strongly POV'd view of a believable apocalypse wham'd a lot of fans of the original or Space Opera in general.
In "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part II", Commander Adama stages a military coup, Gaius Baltar finds out the "shape of things to come" (it's a child), Sharon learns that she's a Cylon, and then she shoots Commander Adama twice in the chest.
In "Resurrection Ship, Part II", the Resurrection Ship is destroyed, robbing Cylons of their capacity to resurrect; Admiral Cain and Commander Adama nearly assassinate each other but hold off; Cain is killed anyway by Gina, the escaped Cylon on Pegasus; Roslin promotes Adama to Admiral in the wake of Cain's death and the Pegasus has truly joined the fleet.
In "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II", Baltar becomes the new President; Cylon sleeper agent Gina blows up the Cloud Nine (among other ships); the narrative skips forward a year - everyone is living on New Caprica, Starbuck, Chief Tyrol and Lee Adama are married, and just about everyone is captured by the Cylons.
In "Exodus, Part II" (beginning to notice a pattern with the part two's, anyone?), Colonel Tigh euthanizes his wife, the Pegasus is destroyed, everyone escapes New Caprica, Baltar goes to join the Cylons, and the crew compliment of the Pegasus are merged with Galactica.
In "Crossroads, Part II", Baltar is surprisingly acquitted, Roslin's cancer comes back, four characters are revealed as Cylons (including one who was all but ruled out before then), and Starbuck comes back from the dead (after being gone for three episodes) before telling Apollo that she's been to Earth.
"Guess What's Coming to Dinner?" A big fat hybrid-induced jump, that's what.
In "Revelations", they finally find Earth! Except it's been devastated by some nuclear apocalypse.
In "Sometimes a Great Notion", Dualla goes on a lovely date with Apollo, kisses him goodnight, and, once she's alone in her quarters, promptly shoots herself in the head. The 13th tribe of humanity were in fact, Cylons. And the fifth is Ellen Tigh, who's dead. Maybe.
In "The Oath", Gaeta of all people, having suffered the cumulative effects of one too many Wham Episodes and a case of Break the Cutie and Freakout, leads a godsdamned mutiny against Adama, leading to the Galactica going through an extended period of bloodletting as comrades turn on each other in large numbers.
Being Human, S3E8: Sure Mitchell's had his suicidal moments, but surely he's not all that serious when he asks George to stake him. Then while George is explaining why he won't they get interrupted by a new vampire character who looks to be a new antagonist. George brandishes a stake, but the other vampire isn't concerned. So George turns and stakes Mitchell to save him from being forced to kill to protect his friends..
The finale of Blackadder Goes Forth. The entire Blackadder series is a fairly light, humourous take on various historical periods, with Goes Forth taking place during WWI. The episode begins with orders coming that the crew are going to make a push across No Man's Land, and the tone of the episode gets progressively darker and gloomier as the characters begin to accept and realize the gravity of what awaits them. The final scene ends with a "Good luck" from Blackadder as they climb out of the trench and it is strongly implied that they don't make it very far.
Their fate is confirmed by the script, whose stage directions conclude with the words "They won't get far."
Actually three out of four seasons of Blackadder end with the death of the complete regular cast. But what makes the final scene of Goes Forth so heartbreaking to watch is its rather chilling realism that was absent before, playing the deaths for laughs rather.
Boardwalk Empire has had a number of shocking events, but none measure up to the last five minutes of episode 10 of Season 2, "Georgia Peaches". While Jimmy drives off to sell booze in Princeton, Manny Horvitz decides to kill Jimmy in retaliation for the failed hit Jimmy put out on him. He walks into Jimmy's house and finds Angela and her lover, then shoots them both in cold blood (despite Angela's terrified pleading that she has a child).
Hell, the last three episodes of Season 2 are all about this. "Under God's Power She Flourishes" features the revelation that Jimmy and Gillian pretty much did it when he was in college, and ends on Jimmy murdering the Commodore. Then comes "To the Lost," where the whole scheme collapses and Nucky ends killing Jimmy. "I am not seeking forgiveness."
The episode "The Critic in the Cabernet" is full of them. Brennan wants a baby - Huh? She wants Booth to be the sperm donor - Wha?! But wait, is that Stewie? And what's that you say? - BOOTH HAS A BRAIN TUMOR?!
The season three finale, "The Pain in the Heart," which concludes the season-long Gormogon arc with the revelation that Zack is the apprentice.
The season five finale, "The Beginning in the End," in which Brennan and Booth both leave the Jeffersonian to fill a higher calling outside the country.
The penultimate episode of season six, "The Hole in the Heart" could also qualify. Vincent Nigel-Murray is gunned down by Broadsky, and Brennan and Booth sleep together. Though the true ramifications of the latter don't surface until the following episode.
The season six finale, "The Change in the Game." Brennan is pregnant with Booth's baby. The status quo with never be the same, driving some fans to cry jump the shark for the fourth season in a row.
Boy Meets World: "We'll Have a Good Time Then..." ends with the death of Shawn's father Chet.
In the Season 2 episode, "Passion," Angelus' terrorizing of the Scoobies reaches a new level following his murder of Jenny Calendar. This is followed by perhaps an even greater Wham Moment where Giles, expecting a romantic evening with Jenny, finds her corpse left lying on his bed. This is the first time in the series that a major character has been killed off at all, let alone in a disturbing, abrupt way and by a character thought to be good.
In the Season Two finale, "Becoming," Buffy and Angelus share a final confrontation. Moments before Buffy intends to kill him, a spell of Willow's restores his human soul. Buffy is forced to kill Angel anyway, sending him permanently to a Hell dimension. At the end of the episode, Buffy leaves Sunnydale for LA.
The Season Five premier, "Buffy Vs. Dracula" is pretty standard, entertaining Buffy fare, until the last scene where BUFFY SUDDENLY HAS A LITTLE SISTER!
The Season Five episode, "I Was Made To Love You." After a standard humor-tinged Monster of the Week episode where the Scoobies chase down a renegade sexbot, Buffy comes home to find that her mother, Joyce, has died of an aneurysm.
"Mom? What are you doing?... Mom?... Mom?... (quietly) Mommy?"
In the Season Five finale, "The Gift", Buffy realizes the true meaning of the First Slayer's prophesy, "death is your gift," and in order to defeat Glory, Buffy sacrifices her own life to save that of her sister, Dawn.
"Tabula Rasa" in Season Six. Hijinks Ensue during one of the most light-hearted and hilarious episodes yet, but within the last couple minutes it is met with Mood Whiplash. Oh, where to start? Giles leaves for England, Willow and Tara break up, and Spike and Buffy are seen making out.
In "Seeing Red", The Trio continues to menace the Scoobies. The game changes when Warren obtains a gun, and in literally the last couple seconds of the episode Warren shoots through Willow's bedroom window, killing Tara.
Caprica: "End of Line" certainly lives up to its title.
The most notable is the season three finale "Knockout". Let's review: Beckett and Castle have a UST-fueled fight about their relationship which ends with Beckett kicking him out of the Precinct for good, Mongomery was the third cop involved in Beckett's mom's murder, Montgomery performs a heroic sacrifice to take down Lockwood, Beckett is shot in the heart at Mongomery's funeral, and Castle confesses his love to Beckett before she loses consciousness. A major character dead and UST in shreds—essentially, three seasons worth of canon down the drain. Oh, and Alexis wants to move out.
All of the episodes that deal with Beckett's mother's murder probably qualify as this, but "Knockout" is, by far, the biggest... at least until "Always". After a season of trying to get her to steer away from her mother's murder, a vic who broke into Montgomery's house for his files jumps her right back into it again. Esposito's right behind her, but Ryan and Castle aren't so gung-ho: Castle walks away from Beckett after yet another UST-fueled fight about their relationship, and Beckett decides to go on a rogue mission to get the killer...without telling Gates, and without Ryan backing her up. This confrontation has her hanging of a building, only thinking of Castle, until Ryan and Gates ride to her rescue. Gates makes Beckett and Espo turn in their badges...and Becket resigns on the spot. Esposito is no longer on speaking terms with Ryan. And Castle? Just deleted his file on Beckett's mother's murder...when she knocks on his door, apologizes profusely, and starts kissing him. Oh, yeah, They Do. But it ain't over, now that the people who planned Beckett's mother's murder has found Mr. Smith, the guy who's got the information that's preventing them from just taking her out...which was the reason for the break-in of Montgomery's place in the first place.
Charmed has several of these. The most notable, however, is the Season Three finale, "All Hell Breaks Loose". It starts with Prue and Piper almost being killed by Shax, the Source's assassin. Phoebe saves them, and Prue and Piper are healed by Leo, but are soon after exposed as witches while vanquishing the demon. Piper is shot by a crazed fanatic and Prue loses all self control and starts telekinetically throwing everybody in her way as she tries to rescue Piper. Piper dies in Prue's arms, and Prue is almost taken out by a SWAT team before Phoebe, Leo, and Cole convince Tempus to restore time. Everything seems like it's been reversed, except this time, Phoebe and Leo are stuck in the Underworld. Shax attacks as before, killing the innocent, injuring Piper, and murdering Prue.
Some other Wham Episodes include "Charmed and Dangerous" where the Source of All Evil is vanquished with the new source becoming Phoebe's fiance, "Love Hurts" where one of the police officers investigating a murder scene is revealed to a demon after the Charmed Ones, "Oh My Goddess" where Leo becomes an Elder and leaves his family behind and "Forever Charmed", the grand finale.
Chuck: The latest Wham is in Season Four when Timothy Dalton's character reveals himself as the Big Bad of the season, Alexei Volkov.
When Jill is revealed as a baddie in "Chuck vs. the Gravitron," though as she is the ex-girlfriend, some people may have seen this coming.
The episode when Morgan finally finds out about Chuck. Or when you find out that Casey has a daughter. Or when his father is killed while Ellie is watching from the shadows. Or hey, the first big wham when you find out Chuck's father is Orion, and after that when Chuck downloads the intersect 2.0 and takes down a group of bad guys with his new powers.
"Chuck vs The Ring Pt 1". Daniel Shaw really is alive! And there are so many Ring operatives inside the CIA that he is literally able to march into the middle of a debriefing, after having been revealed as a traitor, and everyone accepts what he says as truth. He shuts down the Intersect Operation, including having Sarah, Casey and General Beckman arrested, and chuck and his father have to go on the run. Even better because the line that really shows how screwed they are doubles as a Wham Line, when Shaw enters the debriefing.
But probably the biggest wham came in "Chuck vs The Push Mix", in which:
But wait! It was Chuck himself all along! A plan which resulted in Volkoff playing right into his hands!
And then Chuck proposes to Sarah, who appears to accept.
In short, pretty much every ongoing plot thread in the whole frickin' show is tied up in 42 minutes flat, as no-one expected NBC to renew the show for Season 5, or green light any further episodes for Season 4. NBC gave them another eleven episodes halfway through the season.
The actual Season 4 finale, "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger", has its own share of wham-tastic moments, including:
Chuck quitting from the CIA's employment in order to save Sarah, who had been poisoned.
In relation to the above, the CIA's representative has the Intersect removed from Chuck.
Chuck and Sarah get married...
...and start up their own spy business.
But apparently, there's a larger conspiracy at play, as Chuck learns from the CIA representative.
Did we mention that Morgan now has the Intersect in his head by episode's end?
In Season 5, the 2nd episode, "Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit", we get one hell of a Wham in the form of the Intersect not functioning appropriately in Morgan's head, causing the guy to lose sight of who he is.
Cold Case's 4th season finale "Stalker", at the end of which Lilly is shot. Makes the pair with "Into The Blue", in which we find out at the end that Lilly has dreamed the whole episode after her car has been thrown into the river and is rescued. Not only that, we also hear her father's letter to her, in which he tries to explain to her why he left her, her mother and her sister.
Criminal Minds likes to pile on the tension and do this with the ends of episodes, then devote the next episode to fixing whatever they've done:
"The Fisher King Pt. 1" has Elle arriving home to find the UnSub waiting for her, and two gunshots ringing out. In "The Fisher King Pt. 2", we have Elle fighting for her life and Reid staying in the house with Garner despite the pipe bomb.
"Aftermath," the season 2 episode in which Elle murders a suspect in cold blood is an early and rather more traditional example, in that nothing is fixed, afterward. She just leaves the team the next episode and says that her leaving "is not an admission of guilt".
The two-parter "The Big Game"/"Revelations" in season two. Reid got kidnapped by a UnSub with Split Personalities and was injected multiple times with Dilaudid which results in his addiction battle that lasted for many seasons after. He's been clean since season three but references to it are spread throughout the rest of the series.
The season 2 finale, "No Way Out (2): The Evilution of Frank." A serial killer goes after people the team has saved and Gideon hits his Despair Event Horizon.
At the end of "Lucky", Garcia's date says "I've been thinking about doing this all night", and shoots her point-blank in the chest.
One of the SUV's exploding at the end of "Lo-Fi", which continues in "Mayhem" with Joyner close to death, Hotch screaming for help that won't come, Morgan chasing the UnSub down into the subway and almost getting electrocuted, and Morgan driving the ambulance with the bomb in it and only jumping out a split-second before the bomb goes off.
"...And Back" has a Trauma Conga Line for the team with the Turner murders, and they arrive back in Virginia exhausted. Hotch goes home, fixes himself a drink, and turns around to find Foyet in his apartment, who proceeds to shoot at him.
"100" is one of the biggest Wham Episodes in the entire series. Seeing Hotch cry is the most heartbreaking thing in the world. The resolution to the Reaper arc, and a hell of a Despair Event Horizon. Hotch listened to Haley get murdered by the Reaper over the phone and then Hotch killed him with his bare hands. It was the right thing to do, considering that the Reaper was also planning to kill Hotch's young son Jack as well.
While nothing can top the trauma of "100," "Our Darkest Hour" packs a hell of a punch. L.A. is instituting rolling blackouts to prevent city-wide power failure during a heat wave. A serial killer (played by Tim FREAKIN' Curry is using the blackout schedule to hunt his targets in total darkness. The public gets hysterical and forces the police to cancel the blackouts. Later, the team realizes that the lead detective (Spicer) on the case has a connection to Curry; Curry killed his parents. And he has Spicer's family. And then the entire city goes black. Morgan and Spicer go to Spicer's childhood home, but don't have time to wait for backup. Curry gets the drop on them, restraining Morgan and holding Spicer at gunpoint. Then Curry kills Spicer in front of his sister and daughter. He leaves Morgan and the sister tied up while he drags the girl out of the room, crowing about how much fun he's about to have. NO ONE on the team knows where Morgan is, and there's no way to contact him. Cut to black.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the eighth season finale. Savvy audiences will compare it with the previous season finale, and its outcome, but then they remember that Gary Dourdan left the show and they're hit with the realization of his character's fate.
CSI: Miami the episode in season 3 that ended with the death of Tim Speedle.
Dallas may have set the standard for this trope with their 3rd-season closer "A House Divided." For the love of God, the entire TV-watching nation went into paroxysms over "Who Shot J.R.?" As the Internet did not exist then, TV Guide and other current-event magazines were flooded with mail, all expressing the letter-writers' pet theory. It was the main story on some newscasts. The speculation lasted for eight months, and did not let up even a little bit, until the 4th-season episode "Who Done It" (which was not the season premiere but the season's fourth episode). The shooter was revealed at last, and this episode was very whammy in itself; 76% of all TV viewers in the nation were tuned in. Wham!
Damages does this almost constantly, especially in Season 3.
Degrassi is reputed for its drama, but nothing compared to Rick shooting Jimmy in season 4. The fallout from that lasted for years.
And then, three seasons later, JT gets stabbed, resulting in the first major character ever getting killed off on that show.
Season 10's half Season Finale, "All Falls Down", was hyped to be on the same level as "Time Stands Still" and "Rock This Town" as mentioned above.
"Dead and Gone", Season 11's half season finale, wasn't nearly as hyped but managed to be almost as WHAM-ish as "Time Stands Still", even though Nobody died or was paralyzed or anything.
In Degrassi High, another WHAM Episode happened when Claude killed himself. At school. And Snake found the body. Less Wham-y but still big were also Erica getting an abortion, Dwayne having HIV, and in DJH, Shane jumping of the bridge resulting in permanent brain damage. The last act of School's Out was pretty WHAM-y as well.
Season 3 of Desperate Housewives has "Bang". Bree snidely informs Laurie Metcalf that her husband had an affair, instigating her to take a supermarket hostage with Lynette, Edie, and Susan's daughter inside. This intense episode managed to tie all the housewives plotlines together as well as kill off an extremely annoying character in a surprisingly poignant way.
Dexter. Season 4 finale, "The Getaway", and the Season 6 finale. Both "wham" moments happen in the last few moments of the episode. The second one has almost no foreshadowing.
Thanksgiving. Season 6, episode 9 might just be the biggest Wham that's not a finale. Dexter and a couple other members of Miami Metro go to Thanksgiving at Arthur's, and we see how awful and abusive Arthur really is towards Rebecca and Jonah. Lesson learned: always be thankful for your family.
The Season 7 premiere, "Are You...?", carries a mini-Wham following up on the last finale. So Deb caught Dexter finishing off last season's serial killer, but seems to buy his story that it was a psychotic break. It looks like it might take her the season to put two and two together... but nope! By the end of the episode, she's learned all about his hobby, and she's not happy.
"Man on the Street", which was meant to be the big turning point of the first season is a quadruple wham. One of the handlers is a seriously bad egg. The Dollhouse is keeping much better tabs on Ballard than we'd realized. Echo got a secret imprint. And the Dollhouse is a much bigger deal than we'd previously assumed.
"Briar Rose": Alpha returns, and Echo is his lover.
In the next episode "Omega", there's a Doll on a permanent engagement who we've long thought of as another member of the cast. And that Doll has a history with Alpha.
And the ultimate Wham Episode, "Epitaph One". You know how Ballard says The World Is Not Ready for Dollhouse technology? He had no freaking idea.
"The Public Eye" and "The Left Hand".
After "Belonging," It's starting to look like S2 is a wham season rather than just an episode. Not to mention that we know Epitaph One is coming...
"The Attic" - The whole episode seemed like Dollhouse' answer to "Restless", but then came the end, which truly shocked the show's tiny audience. Adelle is actually a hero and has a plan to take down Rossum!!! Holy s***!
So, you know how Echo needs Caroline's memories in order to identify the head of Rossum corporation? Well, at the end of "Getting Closer" she finally gets those memories. Oh my god holy crap what is this I don't even
The finale, "Epitaph Two", makes a complete 180 from the ending of the penultimate episode. After seeing Echo take down Rossum, destroy their facility, and kill off it's chief executive, we learn that her removal of Rossum's infrastructure caused their tech to leak into the black market, where China got ahold of it and created a mass-remote-imprint-bomb that turned the entire world into "Epitaph One". It then proceeds to un-WHAM itself right back when Topher fixes everything for good.
The season 2 premiere revealed Sybil and Branson had been in a secret relationship for the past 2 years.
The 2012 Christmas special, "A Journey to the Highlands": With the arrival of a baby boy with the woman he loves and the future of his family secured, Matthew is blissful at this point in his life. But then, after leaving the maternity hospital, Matthew dies when he crashes his car. Gut, meet punch.
Dracula: "Come To Die" sees the various tensions built up over the first season come to a head: Lord Davenport tries to get Revenge by Proxy on Grayson for his son's death by having Mina attacked. Grayson retaliates by manipulating Harker into killing Davenport; stricken by guilt and the knowledge of how much Grayson has been using him, Harker sleeps with Lucy. Meanwhile, Lady Jayne breaks off her affair with Grayson to focus on hunting down Dracula, who the Order of the Dragon now knows for a fact is in London. And as the cherry on top, Van Helsing finally takes steps to avenge his family's murder by kidnapping Lord Browning's children.
"Four Roses" builds on the events of the previous episode, and sets things up for the finale: Dracula declares open war on the Order, even as Harker joins their ranks and they prepare to sabotage Grayson's resonator to fail catastrophically. Van Helsing prepares his own endgame against Browning, while his alliance with Dracula teeters on collapse. Mina and Harker's relationship ends, due to her feelings for Grayson and his affair with Lucy; when Dracula learns of the latter, he turns Lucy into a vampire as punishment.
And of course, the Season Finale, "Let There Be Light": The public demonstration of Grayson's technology is a catastrophe, killing a lot of people. Dracula knows that Harker betrayed him. Van Helsing turns Browning's children into vampires that feast on their own father. Renfield is stabbed by Van Helsing when the former learns that he destroyed the machine allowing Grayson to walk in the light. Lucy is turned into a vampire and bites her mother. Jayne confronts Dracula but dies in the process. Van Helsing, having found his revenge, now sets his sights on Dracula and has recruited Harker for the cause. And lastly, Dracula and Mina finally have sex.
Soap Operas generally try and do this every episode or, at the least, every few episodes, with varying success, so listing them all would be pointless. One of the most famous soap opera cliffhangers, however, was the 1986 Christmas episode of Eastenders, where 30.1 million viewers (of a population of 56 million) saw Den serving Angie divorce papers in the closing minutes. Only one broadcast has since got a higher number of viewers: Princess Di's funeral.
Elementary has one of these in the episode before the season 1 finale, and the finale itself, with the reveal that Irene Adler is actually alive, not killed by Moriarty as Sherlock had thought. In fact, in the first half of the season finale, it's revealed that she actually is Moriarty.
In season 6 of ER, the episode 'Be Still my Heart' ends with Carter getting stabbed by a schizophrenic patient and bleeding out in curtain 3 while everyone else has a Valentine's Day Party, and from his position on the floor, sees a blood-covered Lucy also lying hidden on the floor on the other side of the bed, staring back at him. This ending managed to be truly shocking in spite of being hyped by the promos. They don't get discovered until the end of the next episode's teaser.
"Twice In A Lifetime": Every single weirdness has happened because the future has been altered by Henry to avert his girlfriend Kim's death because of the mysterious Artifact. And in the following episode, Henry discovering that the accident that killed Kim and had three men die of spontaneous combustion, with series regular Nathan Stark being saved in the nick of time, was caused by Beverly's removal of a minuscule component. Also, the discovery that Allison's son Kevin was down there too.
Then they do it again with "I Do Over". Due to a lab accident, the day that Allison and Stark are supposed to get married keeps getting repeated over and over, and Carter is the only one who remembers. He convinces the scientist who caused the mistake that it's repeating, and the scientist dies trying to fix it, but failing. Finally, he convinces Stark and Fargo that it's happening, and Stark figures out how to fix it, and that someone needs to be inside the chamber to fix it. He volunteers. The problem is fixed, and Carter goes up to the chamber...as Stark fades away into nothingness.
And again in the first episode of Season 4. It fundamentally altered the dynamics of the characters and the entire town itself, and has no sign of being fixed anytime soon.
And again in the first two episodes of Season 5, first with the apparent change in the main characters' relationships thanks to four years having passed only to be revealed as everyone from the Astraeus crew as having been put in a scientific Lotus-Eater Machine, then with The Reveal of Senator Wen as the true villain behind Dr. Barlowe—complete with an in-universe Moral Event Horizon that leads Beverly to Heel-Face Turn.
The Event, at the end of "For the Goood of the Country" Raymond after confirming the death of the Vice-President looks in a mirror and briefly morphs into a younger version of himself.
Farscape, the season one episode "Nerve". Up until this point the series had been a relatively standard space opera, albeit with lots of creativity and a couple of great episodes along the way, but with "Nerve" the plot suddenly kicks in a big way and things will never be the same again.
In the middle of the second season, the episode "Beware of Dog" confirmed that John wasn't just under stress - he really was starting to lose his mind.
The season 2 finale, "Die Me Dichotomy". Possessed nearly completely by Scorpy-Neural-Clone Harvey, John sends Aeryn's Prowler crashing into a frozen lake. After her cryo-funeral, John submits to the neural-chip-removal surgery that has a good chance of killing him. The chip is removed, but the resulting neural damage reduces the ultra-verbal Crichton to speaking gibberish. THEN, Scorpius invades the medical facility, kills the surgeon, and leaves John screaming aphasically on the table. (Until the next series.)
Scorpius: "John Crichton, I condemn you....to live!"
And then there's the Season 4 mid-season finale, where John winds up in space in with nothing but a space suit between him and vacuum, separated from Moya by a wormhole she hadn't gone through, and what's more, the planet he's floating above is Earth. Things are indeed changing from this point forward.
Every finale ever. Every time the show turns up the Holy Shit Quotient, you get either a wham episode or a wham-episode-arc. How much "wham" in the episode is usually proportional to the size of whatever explosion John has set off. And you get extra wham points if a main character dies. Example: Talyn and Crais.
"Eat Me" seems like a standard one-off episode at first, with Crichton, D'Argo, Chiana and Jool on an abandoned Leviathan full of zombie-like creatures. The Mad ScientistMonster Lord responsible has the power to "twin" - creating "equal and original" sets of a person. D'Argo and Chiana's "twins" die, but in the end, there are two very much alive Crichtons. Also, those on Moya find a badly damaged Talyn and an unconscious Crais - suggesting something very unpleasant attacked them and is still on the hunt. This all kicks off storylines that echo throughout the rest of the season.
"Heart of Gold," where at the end Inara announces she's leaving the ship because she's getting too attached to Mal.
There was also "War Stories," where we get one hell of a whammy regarding River, who was previously just a broken, insane girl with some Psychic Powers. Then she gets the gun from Kaylee, and we get our first extremely blunt and direct look at what the Academy was really doing to her.
FlashForward (2009), which had been pretty slow-moving plot-wise for a long time, had a huge wham episode in the form of "The Gift", in which Al Gough kills himself in order to save a woman he knows from his flash forward will die in an accident he causes (obviously, he's alive in his flash forward), proving that you can, indeed, fight fate.
The Frasier episode "Back Talk", which is set up as a fairly standard episode featuring Hilarity Ensuing from Poor Communication Kills...until the very last scene, where Daphne casually asks Frasier to clarify a single throwaway statement of Martin's from much earlier in the episode, and he answers with the painkiller-induced Wham Line: "Oh, he meant Niles. He's crazy about you."
Season 1 finale - Rachel finds out about Ross' love for her but he comes back from China with a new girlfriend.
Season 2 finale - Monica and Richard break up. Chandler's chat mate is Janice.
Season 4 finale - Ross screws up his wedding and Chandler and Monica hook up.
Season 5 finale - Surprise Vegas weddings.
Season 7 finale - Rachel is pregnant.
Additionally, the late season 6 episode "TOW Paul's the Man" has Monica making a fake wedding engagement with Chandler as a practical joke. After it's found out everything goes back to normal... until the last few minutes where it's revealed that Chandler, who's an infamous committment-phobe, plans on keeping the date and proposing to her.
"There's More Than One of Everything" (1x20). William Bell lives in an alternate universe where the Twin Towers never fell, Jones sees Bell as a father figure, and, oh yes, Peter died before he turned ten and the one we know was kidnapped by Walter from an alternate universe.
Season 2: William Bell causes himself to explode so the energy will send Olivia back to our universe. But it's the wrong Olivia, and Walternate has the right one trapped in a cell on the other side.
Season 3: Peter has served his purpose, so he doesn't even exist anymore.
Season 4: "Letters of Transit" gives us a glimpse at Season 5's future in which the Observers have taken over and rule humanity.
The storyline of Kurt being bullied by Karofsky reached a turning point in "Never Been Kissed," where Karofsky forcibly kisses Kurt. The next episode, Karofsky threatens to kill him if he tells anyone—Kurt doesn't, and ends up transferring schools as a result.
There's also "Grilled Cheesus", where Burt has a heart attack and the audience is lead to believe he's going to die. It ends with Kurt holding his hand and sobbing, asking him to wake up. Burt then give Kurt's hand a gentle squeeze.
"On My Way", that starts with Dave Karofsky trying to killhimself after being outed, which leads to Sue Sylvester and Sebastian (the bad guy from the Warblers) both having Heel-Face Turn s and ends with Quinn getting hit bya truck.
"The Break-Up" Finn and Rachel break up again after she reveals that she kissed Brody. Brittany and Santana break up over distance and Kurt and Blaine break up after Blaine reveals that he cheated on Kurt. Let's just say that there isn't very much glee on Glee
"Thanksgiving" ends with Marley collapsing onstage during Sectionals, resulting in the glee club losing Sectionals for the first time ever.
"Shooting Star": A gunshot goes off at school, sending the entire school into a lockdown in what is easily one of the most terrifying few scenes ever done on Glee. It ends up being Becky who accidentally shot off the gun and Sue takes the blame and she ends up fired.
In a tragic case of Real Life Writes the Plot, Season 5's third episode, "The Quarterback", in which Finn's death is dealt with.
"All Fall Down": Spencer moves to Boston, PJ drops out of college to attend culinary school, and termites destroy the Duncan house.
The Good Wife: Season 5's "Hitting the Fan". As the episode title suggests, this is not an episode for the fainthearted. Alicia and Cary's plan to leave Lockhart/Gardner is exposed, half the cast gets fired, Lockhart/Gardner and the newly formed Florrick, Agos, and Associates go head-to-head in nasty battles over clients, Will's love for Alicia has turned to hate, and Diane's judgeship is endangered. Whew.
And again in 5.15 "Dramatics, Your Honor" when Will is shot dead in court.
It pulled off two Wham Episode twists in the same episode. Halfway through the post-Super Bowl episode "It's the End of the World", a simple surgery becomes a bomb threat, and the end of the episode results in a character stabilizing the bomb panicking and fleeing, leaving the title character to keep it stable.
And then in part 2 ("As We Know It"), the doctors have successfully defused the bomb and give it to the bomb squad leader, who takes it out only to have it explode in his hands.
The season 5 finale: O'Malley joins the Army, and none of his friends like it, so they plan an intervention. Later, a guy comes in with a totally crushed face; he saved a girl from being hit by a bus only to be hit himself. He tries to convey something, but can't hold a pen to write. The gang gets ready for the intervention only to be told O'Malley left that morning instead of working a full final shift. And then the guy with the crushed face conveys something to Meredith that tells her... he's O'Malley.
In the same finale, Izzie wakes up from her cancer surgery only to find that she has damage to her short term memory, meaning she can't remember anything that happened even a few minutes ago. After building up most of the rest of the episodes (Karev and Yang make Post-it notes to direct her to the answers to her questions), she finally gets that short term memory back...and then collapses in Karev's arms. The last scene is a dream sequence of Izzie getting in a hospital elevator to the ground floor...and finding O'Malley in an Army uniform waiting for her. (The surprise, though, was mitigated by the fact that we knew George's actor wasn't coming back for Season 6, but Izzie's was...at least, for that season.)
The season 6 finale: A widower, distraught over Webber and Shepherd deciding his wife couldn't be saved and obeying a DNR she made three years earlier, returns and asks for directions to Shepherd's office. And then pulls out a gun and shoots Reed right between the eyes. And that's just the beginning of the carnage. Even the unborn aren't safe; Meredith miscarries, having just revealed said pregnancy to one person (and the audience).
The season eight finale, the plane crash, Lexie's death, and Owen firing Teddy.
The season nine premiere: Mark Sloan dies.
The Hannah Montana episode "I'll Always Remember You", from the final season. After Hannah's career is jeopardized and Miley finds she's unable to attend college as herself or Hannah, Miley finally reveals her dual identity to the world. The remaining episodes of the series deal with the reaction and repercussions of The Reveal.
Harper's Island, episode 12, "Sigh": Trish, after having seemingly successfully escaped John Wakefield, sees Henry and runs out to him, thinking she's safe, only to find out that Henry is the second killer and be stabbed to death by him.
The frequent plot twists in Heroes regularly shed new light on existing character relationships and allegiances.
But the revelation that in four years, Sylar will make a Heel-Face Turn has to top most of them. AND THEN HE EXPLODED!!
Highlander had two of them. Season 2 had 'The Darkness', which ended with Tessa's death and Richie's Immortality manifesting. Then there was season 5's ending, which was pretty much the show's Jump the Shark moment: Duncan takes Richie's head in a psychotic,demon-induced haze.
The season one episode "Three Stories" has House holding a lecture on diagnostic medicine. About two-thirds into the episode, the ducklings (and the audience) figure out that one of the patients he's talking about is himself. The rest of the episode then tells us what happened with House's leg and essentially what screwed up his relationship with Stacy.
Season four's "House's Head" focuses on House having been in a bus crash and being unable to remember anything from just before the crash happened, except that someone on the bus is sick and needs help. He realizes that he saw a symptom in the driver and goes through a variety of methods to try and trigger his memory and save the driver. It turns out that the driver wasn't the sick person at all — Wilson's girlfriend Amber was.
Season Five has a whole chain of Wham Episodes, starting with Kutner's sudden and unexplained suicide and then having House suffer increasingly upsetting hallucinations. In the second to last episode of the season, we get House and Cuddy finally sleeping together, only to find out in the season finale that most of that episode was a hallucination; House was alone the entire night, and he just started hallucinating that Cuddy was there instead of Amber. The "lipstick" he toys with throughout the episode is actually a bottle of Vicodin, after he hallucinated beating his addiction. He then sees Amber and Kutner in a hallucination. The end of the episode has House check into a psychiatric ward, no longer able to tell what is real and what is not. Can I get an order of "OMGWTF" to go?
The episode in season three where House was a jerk to the wrong patient (police detective Michael Tritter) had a VERY big uh-oh when the patient fought back in a way that put House on the defensive, and which very thoroughly impacted half of the season.
The season three finale has House lose all three members of his staff, leading to a big cast-expansion in the following seasons.
There's also "Finding Judas", the Trope Namer, in which House discovers the guy selling him out to Tritter is Wilson.
The season six finale, "Help", also probably qualifies. House and Cuddy getting together changed the status quo for sure.
And then it changed again when he drove his car through her living room...
And now we have Season 7 Episode 17. After the end of a long story arc with House and Cuddy's relationship we get what seems to be a "standard" House episode. Homeless guy who lies about his identity, but according to House everyone lies anyway, right? Weird things in his digestive tract, but we've seen several patients who are dumb enough to eat bad things and this guy is homeless, right? The poor guy has guilt issues, but after a near-death experience thinks that God may be giving him a second chance... and for crying out loud, he is diagnosed with schizophrenia (not the reason he's sick, though), so let's all cut him some slack. So after several false diagnoses, they figure out what's wrong and fix him up and send him on his way. And then it turns out the patient is a serial killer who eats his victims' bodies. All the clues were right there, and he almost confesses the whole truth at one point, and everyone missed it. In particular: those bone fragments in his intestines? Probably human bones.
The last few episodes of the series are a wham storyline: Wilson has cancer, a nightmarish round of chemo doesn't stop it from becoming terminal, his lifespan drops from 3 years to 5 months because he gives up on chemo, Chase resigns, one of House's pranks means he'll be in prison for the rest of Wilson's life. In the series finale, House fakes his own death to be with Wilson for his last 5 months alive, Chase takes over House's old job.
The season three episode "Sandcastles in the Sand" from How I Met Your Mother ends with the surprise hookup between Barney and Robin.
"Natural History": One minute Robin and Barney are having fun touching things they're not supposed to in a museum. The next, Barney learns the truth about his father.
The season six episode "Bad News" ends with Marshall's dad dying.
The sixth season finale ends in a perfect uproar, with Lily telling Marshall she's pregnant, Robin realizing that she's still in love with Barney and the wedding flashforward of Ted serving as someone's best man that had been alluded to all season actually getting a chance to continue long enough to reveal that Barney's the groom...although the identity of his bride is a mystery.
Annnnd now we know that the bride is none other than Robin. Boom, plot twist!
The season seven episode "Disaster Averted" ends very much like "Sandcastles in the Sand". Except that this time, both Barney and Robin are dating other people.
The season seven episode "The Rebound Girl" ends with Robin telling Barney (with whom she's cheated on her current boyfriend) that she's pregnant.
This is followed up by the next episode, "Symphony of Illumination", where She's not pregnant! And you discover she can never be pregnant. Ever. She also never becomes a mother according to future Ted so she won't adopt.
The series finale. We find out that Barney and Robin got divorced three years after their wedding, Robin drifts apart from the gang, Lily and Marshall have a third child, Barney has a daughter with one of his conquests, Tracy (The Mother) died from an undisclosed illness six years before Ted started telling his kids the story, and the reason Ted has been telling his kids the story was to see if they were okay with him pursuing Robin.
iCarly has had several, usually involving the relationships between the characters.
In "iKiss" Sam and Freddie don't really hate each other then in "iThink they Kissed" Carly finds out what happened in "iKiss" and acts jealous.
In "iSpeed Date" Sam's softer side is shown and Carly enjoys a Dance of Romance with Freddie.
"iSaved your Life" has Freddie save Carly's life and be seriously injured, Carly becomes attracted to Freddie, only for Sam to poison the relationship by making Freddie believe that Carly only liked him because of hero worship, which causes him to break up with Carly.
"iOMG", which was a Cliff Hanger, flips the romantic agenda on it's head by having Sam kissing Freddie. When the show comes back they enter a 4 episode Story Arc, but breakup in "iLove You".
"iOwn A Restaurante" shows that Freddie still has feelings for Carly, then the finale "iGoodbye" finally ends the speculation when Carly comes up to Freddie and initiates a Last Minute Hookup.
Inspector Lynley episode 3x04 "If Wishes Were Horses"; in short order Helen is shot, suffers a miscarriage in the hospital, leaves Lynley to stay with her sister, and Havers is shot by the murderer of the week. It all makes for a very dramatic cliffhanger leading into season four.
The season 6 episode of Kitchen Nightmares, "Amy's Baking Company", is quickly becoming the most notorious episode of the entire show. It starts out innocently enough, but we quickly learn that Amy and her husband Samy may be the most psychotic owners Ramsay has ever had to work with. To wit:
Amy spends practically the entire episode ranting and shrieking at pretty much anyone who questions her; Customers, her employees, even Ramsay himself. At one point, she brutally fires a waitress simply because she asked a question.
Samy, meanwhile, is shown to outright steal tip money from his employees and keeps it for himself and, in a deleted scene, physically attacks a customer who complained that his pizza (a single pizza) was still not done after two hours.
Near the end, it turns out that the couple had hired Ramsay not to help their restaurant, but under the impression that he would be their sniveling Yes-Man who would suck up to them and their restaurant in order to counter "internet bullies". In the end, Gordon outright abandons them because he considers them a lost causes, a first for the series.
The Knight Rider episode "Junkyard Dog" dumped its sentient AI vehicle Kitt into a pit of acid. We'd seen him destroyed and bashed up before, but never systematically disintegrated back to a bare chassis. He's notably shaken by this and so is the audience.
L.A. Law: The season 5 episode "Good to the Last Drop," wherein recurring character Rosalind Shays steps into an empty elevator shaft and falls to her death.
Law & Order generally avoided these... up until the Sixth Season finale, "Aftershock". With this episode, the show abandoned the usual "cops investigate, then we get a trial" formula to follow the main characters throughout their day after they all witness the execution of a murderer they put in prison. Curtiz cheated on his wife, McCoy reveals his history as an abused child, and Briscoe falls back into his alcoholism after nearly a decade sober. But the real wham doesn't come until the ending moments: Assistant DA Claire Kincaid is giving a drunken Lenny Briscoe a ride home when the car they are in is struck by a drunk driver. Briscoe isn't seriously hurt. Claire is killed instantly. Her death would haunt several of the main characters (especially Jack McCoy, who lost a lot of his "carefree liberal" attitudes in favor of a harder prosecutorial line) until the very end of the series.
"Cold" ends with ADA Novak being suspended and Detective Lake being arrested after committing a Vigilante Execution on a fellow detective who had raped two girls.
"Undercover": Olivia goes undercover in a women's prison to find out who's been dealing drugs while raping an inmate and her daughter. She finds out just who the guy is when he tries to rape her, too, coming dangerously close before Fin saved her. Even then, the experience leaves its mark on her for a long time afterwards.
Law & Order: UK: The uber-grim episode "Deal" appears to be ending on a high note—the murderous drug dealer has been convicted and sent to prison, and DS Brooks' daughter has just given birth to a baby boy. But as DS Devlin and CP Philips are escorting their young witness to juvenile hall, a car pulls up, shots ring out, and Devlin is fatally injured pushing the other two to safety. Even knowing that actor Jamie Bamber was leaving the show didn't make this moment any less shocking for the viewers.
Some would say the real "wham" came at the beginning of the next episode, "Survivor's Guilt", where it was confirmed that Devlin had died—recall that he was clearly still alive at the end of "Deal", even if badly hurt, thus giving viewers hope that he might survive.
"The Maltese Job", the season 2 finale. Sophie returns, and Nate goes to jail.
"The Big Bang Job", season 3 finale. Eliot worked for Damien Moreau. Also features the first on-screen killing by a Leverage team member; and he does a lot of it.
"The Radio Job", season 4 finale. The season-arc villain is Victor Dubenitch, and the warehouse with Jimmy Ford in it blows up.
"The Long Goodbye Job," which is the season 5 finale and the series finale. Ellen Casey: "Mr. Ford, how did your friends die?" Of course, their deaths are faked as part of a very elaborate con. And, in fact, it's not entirely clear how much of the episode, such as Sam's pediatrician being a client, was real and how much was Nate's unreliable narration. And it doesn't stop there. At the end of the episode, just when it looks like Nate is about to go to prison for the rest of his life, the driver of the car is revealed to be Sophie. Finally, the team has gained access to "the Holy Grail of the ones who got away with it," and is celebrating. Nate announces that he intends to retire and immediately proposes to Sophie, who says yes and will retire with him. The bonus is that he uses her possible real name, Lara.
Life On Mars itself had one of these in the last episode. Somewhat justified because it is, y'know, the final episode. But it's significant in that it gets not one wham, but three.
First we find out that Sam Tyler was actually an undercover name taken by a man named Sam Williams in 1973, who was undercover, trying to find corruption in Gene Hunt's division. Morgan tells us that Sam has been suffering from hallucinations like this all his life.
Then, after a dramatic shootout where every member of the team is shown to be wounded, Sam wakes up. And finds out that his room in the hspital is labeled Hyde 2612.
Finally, with Sam back in 2007, Sam kills himself. There's a reason it was voted #1 TV show ending of all time.
And then there's the US version, whose ending went compltely the other way on the popularity scale.
Magnum, P.I.: One of the first Whams was when Thomas asks Ivan, "Did you see the sunrise?"
Episode eight from season two, "His Red Right Hand", might count: after a series of episodes dedicated to developing a relationship between Bosco's and Lisbon's team, with Jane eventually winning Bosco's trust enough so that Bosco agrees to keep him up to date on the Red John case, Bosco's secretary guns down Bosco's team. Bosco dies at the end of the episode, after a Dying Declaration of Love to Lisbon.
The season three finale finally concludes the hunt for Red John's mole (started all the way back in episode 9, "Red Moon"), culminating with Patrick killing an impostor pretending to be Red John in the middle of a shopping mall, consequences be damned.
Season four ends with the revelation that Patrick and Red John have shaken hands, providing a somewhat viable scope of suspects for Jane to work with.
Season five ends with Jane narrowing his suspect list down to just seven names, and in return, Red John declaring that he's going to come out of "retirement" and start killing again.
Mid-season six episode "Red John" is the biggest wham of all, in which Patrick finally confronts and kills the Big Bad himself.
Episode 2x12, The Fires of Idirsholas - In order to break the spell on Camelot, Merlin has to kill Morgana (the 'source of the magic'). So he attempts to poison her. Morgause saves her, but then teleports them both out of Camelot to an uncertain fate. Merlin then frees the Dragon, who, in the trailer, is seen wreaking fiery havoc on Camelot. Holy shi-
In episode 3X13 Morgana takes over Camelot, outs her magical powers to the world, and is defeated by Merlin and Gaius. Meanwhile, Arthur and Guinevere share a kiss in the central courtyard of Camelot (thus exposing what was previously a Secret Relationship) and Uther becomes unable to function as king, being too traumatised by Morgana's betrayal.
That's nothing compared to Episode 4x03. Uther dies and Arthur is crowned King of Camelot.
Episode 4x09. Guinevere is enchanted into betraying Arthur and is banished from Camelot. We all knew that she was destined to do so, but after Lancelot's death, we thought that would be one legend ignored. Nope.
Episode 512. It seems like a typical episode, with a running storyline about Gypsy trying to get Joel off the satellite, with the help of a temp at Deep 13 played by head writer Michael J. Nelson, who had played many other guest roles before on the series. The Wham doesn't truly hit until after the movie. When Joel tries to do the letter reading, Gypsy activates the "expulsion", and Joel disappears in a flash of smoke. Then the Hexfield opens up. "Hey, guys, look at me! I'm on my way to Earth! Pretty crazy, huh!" Yes, he actually escaped. Frank's expression sums up the whole thing.
The final scene of season four and the season five premiere reveal that not only is Tony's girlfriend the daughter of arms merchant La Grenouille, but his entire relationship with her was part of an undercover operation to take La Grenouille down. This pays off a year's worth of careful and subtle foreshadowing and casts an entirely different light on many of the events of the season, as well as on Tony's characterization.
The second season finale has Kate takes a bullet for Gibbs. Gibbs kills her shooter... Kate gets up, groaning from pain she still has despite a bullet-proof vest taking the hit. Tony comments on her heroism, Gibbs says that for once, Tony's right. Kate's response?
And then there's the season six finale where Ziva decides to stay in Israel, only for us to then see her being brutally tortured, as well as finding out she was actually a mole at NCIS for her father and had been lying the whole time.
Also the season 5 finale, "Judgment Day," in which Jenny Shepherd is killed. And that's just the end of part 1, part two adds the team being split up by the new director.
The season 9 finale "Till Death Do Us Part" takes this Up to Eleven: the fucking Navy Yard is blown up, with Gibbs, Abby, Tony, Ziva, and Tim caught in the blast, and Ducky has a heart attack at the news. Damn.
"Past, Present and Future". Ziva, severely traumatized by both the death of her father and the subsequent attempt on her life, resigns from NCIS and returns to Israel in disgrace, going into hiding.
NUMB3RS season 4 finale: in the last 5 minutes, not only does Megan Reeves get a Fond Farewell lasting exactly 38 seconds (!), but Charlie loses his security clearance due to an act of protest against anti-terror policies...and yet the show promises it's To Be Continued.
The Office (US) pulls off one of these almost every season, usually as part of the season finale.
In the Season 2 finale: Jim gets promoted to a new job away from Scranton! And before he leaves he confesses his feelings to Pam! Later, he kisses her!
In the Season 3 finale: Jan gets fired and shacks up with Michael! Jim ditches his girlfriend to ask out Pam! Ryan the temp gets promoted to Michael's Boss!
In the Season 4 finale: Jan is pregnant! Andy proposed to Angela — and she accepted! Jim didn't propose to Pam! Angela and Dwight naked in a cubicle!
In the Season 5 finale: Pam is pregnant! Not as shocking as other seasons, but still pretty exciting!
The second season finale; Pawnee's government literally just shuts down, the office is thrown into chaos, and Mark quits meaning he'll probably never see the others again.
"Harvest Festival"; The Harvest Festival comes up and almost everything that could possibly go wrong for the gang does. Meanwhile Ben is getting pushed further and further and seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
The 1996 episode Driven to Distraction featuring new fonts in the graphics (no more Zurich Expy font!) and an even more serious tone than before.
The 1997 episode On Your Bike, first one to feature international footage and a Cold Open, which the rest of the series (excluding the Very Special Episode) would use - the cold open, that is. Improved montage of 1995 footage in the Title Sequence.
The 1999 series, as it did not use a montage of 1995 series footage in the Title Sequence. Also, newer softer graphics were added.
The end of Season 1, where Nick gets back from the past and finds Claudia has been Retgoned.
The finale of Season 2, with Stephen's redemption, Heroic Sacrifice, and Cutter's salvation.
A rare mid-season example - 3.3, where Nick is murdered.
Then there's 3.10, with Helen's plan to wipe out the human race, her death, and Connor, Abby & Danny being trapped in the past.
The finale of Season 4, when Ethan's identity is revealed, Danny arrives back through the anomaly to the past, and Matt reveals his identity to Emily.
The penultimate episode for Series 5. Anomalies open all over the world. Connor's attempts at stopping Philip fail, and he gets sucked into the future.
And then, of course, the finale of the entire series. Specifically, the end.
The season four finale of Psych, especially the last two minutes.
The season six midseason finale. After a case at Shawn and Juliet's couples' retreat vacation, Gus finds Shawn's lost Nintendo DS. Gus hears a rattle from inside the DS and opens the battery compartment to discover an engagement ring hidden inside; Shawn had been planning to ask Juliet to marry him.
The season six cliffhanger: Henry figured out that two of his partners were on the take, and tells the third, who says, "$50,000 was a lot in those days." Henry mentions that he never said how much it was. Former partner shoots Henry and leaves him on the beach. Shawn, meanwhile has pieced it all together independantly, and is rushing to the same beach. ANNNNND now we're on summer hiatus.
Season 7 finale: Chief Vick has been replaced, Lassiter is demoted, and the new chief will no longer work with Psych.
Quantum Leap's third season finale, "Shock Theater", which has Sam given electro-shock therapy and causes his mind to become unhinged, leaving him to start taking on the personalities of past people he's leaped in to, and if he's in this state too long Al will lose him forever. Al manages to get the unhinged Sam to go through the same procedure again... right during a thunderstorm, which causes a freak accident that causes Sam and Al to completely switch places, leaving Sam back home and Al now leaping into someone.
The last episode of Season One of Queer as Folk has Justin getting smashed in the head with a baseball bat, and the episode ends with Brian and Michael sitting outside his hospital room, Brian in tears, and nobody knowing what's going to happen to Justin. This packs even more punch when you think of all the things that Brian's been through in that season, and that is what makes him cry.
The Series VI finale of Red Dwarf. The crew's evil future selves show up, one thing leads to another and the two Starbugs end up fighting. Most of the crew die in sequence. Rimmer runs through the ship to destroy the time machine, and it ends with Starbug being blown up. While given a Cliff Hanger Cop Out next episode, it preludes the Darker and Edgier series 7.
The Series X finale involves Rimmer finding out that the man he thought was his father wasn't, and his actual father was the family gardener. Rimmer then takes a level in badass and comes up with a plan to defeat the four simulant ships attacking them.
When Dan gets drunk and goes gunning for his father after his mother is institutionalized, Roseanne reveals a deep secret...his mom has a lifetime of mental illness & had been committed several times throughout his childhood, with dad providing a cover story to explain her absences. After years of hating his father for, in his POV, driving his mother insane, Dan realizes he's been wrong. With Roseanne offering her support, he collapses into tears and immediately seeks forgiveness from his father. A superb and moving episode.
Rescue Me's episode "Happy" saw a character death that forever altered the characters on this show, especially Tommy.
"Brains": Tommy and Johnny find out the truth about their long lost half brother. Probably the show's first real Wham moment.
"Twilight": Tommy's brother gets shot on a stakeout.
"Commitment": After being taken off active duty, the Chief makes peace with his gay son, and ties up all his other affairs, then gets dressed up, and commits suicide.
"Yaz": At the end, Tommy's father dies. What makes this unusually Wham-worthy is that, on a show full of people dying violently before their time, an old man dying peacefully at a baseball game is somehow that much more effective.
"Chaos". The person killed in the series-opening flashforward was Tyler, not Daniel, who appears to be the one who killed him (though it's later revealed that's not entirely the case).
The first season finale, "Reckoning". Emily calls off her engagement to Daniel only to find her chances with Jack ruined by Amanda revealing she's pregnant, the plane carrying Victoria (and all the evidence that could exonerate David Clarke) explodes, Charlotte overdoses, and Emily learns that her mother is still alive.
Season 2 has "Sacrifice". By the end, Jack's been shot, the Amanda's been blown up, and Amanda is dead.
Also from Season 2, "Engagement". Aiden kills Takeda when his mentor confronts him about interfering with Emily's mission, Charlotte reveals to Daniel that she's pregnant, and at the end, the entire city's power is cut, presumably by the Carrion program.
And Season 2's finale, "Truth" delivers in spades. To recap: Takeda's fiancée is revealed to have been on Flight 197, Grayson Global is blown up by the Initiative, who Conrad has been working with for the entire season (and Conrad attempts to capitalise on the explosion by having Jack killed in it, but fails), Declan dies, Aiden and then Nolan are arrested for the attack, Conrad wins the election, Aiden and Daniel fight over Emily, and it's implied that Daniel may have shot Aiden, Jack goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge of his own and attempts to assassinate Conrad, Victoria's long-lost son Patrick arrives on her doorstop, and to cap it all off? The final line of the season? Emily reveals her true identity to Jack. And they had the sheer audacity to leave all this on a cliffhanger.
The season three finale. At this point Amanda and Nolan are set up to become the new Big Bad with how vicious they have become. After they kidnap Charlotte to force Conrad to confess he has a Villainous Breakdown where he threatens his daughter, who is secretly bugged. She finds out Jack was involved and has him arrested. Victoria kills Aiden and has him set up to torture Emily. She reacts by attacking her with a shovel and uses the shrink involved in the murder to have her committed. And Conrad is released from prison and promptly murdered. By David Clark.
Revolution: The first season finale "The Dark Tower". Nora Clayton dies, Sebastian Monroe is on the run from Tom Neville's coup, and the power is restored...at which point Randall Flynn launches nukes at Philadelphia and Atlanta, then shoots himself. And it's revealed he was working for the American Government in Exile hiding out in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Since Randall completed his mission, the American government intends to return and retake what's theirs.
Ringer's one season was ripe with this to the point where it's easier to enumerate the non-wham episodes.
In the same vein, the BBC's Robin Hood killed off Maid Marian in the second season finale. Proof that Wham Episodes are not always good things, as this development definitely wasn't received the way the writers had hoped.
John's "I knew the whole time and did nothing" speech to Jesse. He goes from emo!John to John Connor in one scene.
"On The Lighthouse." There's a second machine intelligence operating in the present of similar design to John Henry, based off Cyberdyne technology. And it wants both John Henry and the Connors dead.
Nothing compared to "Adam Raised a Cain." Our heroes find out about John Henry, and Weaver finds out about our heroes. Derek is dead. Sarah is captured by police. In one episode, everyone becomes exposed, and the team gets cut down to John and Cameron alone.
"Born To Run" had far more Wham than any of those. John Henry has taken Cameron into the future with him, and John and Catherine Weaver follow after them. Now it's just John and Weaver in the future, where they shortly meet Derek Reese, who lets slip that in this universe - presumably due to John's teleportation into the future - John Connor never existed. And then Kyle Reese and Allison (from Palmdale) show up. Then the show was canceled.
Scandal: It can be safely agreed that the episode "Defiance" is this, due to President Fitzgerald actually being shot at the end. The episode "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" reveals at the end that the President's assassin is none other than Huck, one of the members of Olivia's team!
Scrubs: This show was a veritable master of the melancholy Mood Whiplash, but there are a few big moments that really kill in the show:
Basically ANY episodes with the character Ben Sullivan ("My Occurence" and "My Screw Up" in particular).
The last three episodes of the third season are absolutely crazy, with JD realizing after over a season of chasing after her that he DOESN'T ACTUALLY WANT ELLIOT.
The fifth season episode "My Lunch", in which golden boy Doctor Cox makes a mistake that causes the death of three patients, leading to a moment of genuine Heroic BSOD that stretches into the next episode.
The Secret Circle: "Witness", which ups the Holy Shit Quotient with its revelations that the members of the old Circle were killed by witch hunters, not their unrestrained power, and the fire itself was started to kill Cassie's father, John Blackwell — but he turned it back on the hunters and escaped, and IS STILL ALIVE. Oh, and Adam's dad, Ethan, was present at the old boat and has his own dark side, demonstrated when he used the crystal to nearly drown Charles.
"Crystal" kills off Jane and reveals that Diana is Cassie's half-sister.
"Traitor" reveals that Nick is alive and has killed a number of the witch hunters.
"Prom" kills Nick off for good and reveals that Blackwell arranged for the Circle to be born — oh, and Diana discovers to her horror that Charles killed Amelia.
"Family" outdoes them all, fitting for a season finale — the Circle gets unbound by the creation of the Crystal Skull, Jake kills Eben and Charles drowns himself to get rid of the demons, Blackwell plans to kill all witches without Balcoin blood and build a Circle of pure darkness, and Cassie and Diana manage to turn the tables on him after the latter's own dark magic is unleashed...oh, and Diana leaves with Grant at the end, unable to handle everything that's happened, though not before making some kind of peace with Cassie. However, it seems that the other four Balcoin witches have arrived in Chance Harbor and are already connected to Cassie and Diana... It's a shame the show's been canceled.
"The Great Game" is one for Sherlock with the appearance of Moriarty.
Even more so is "The Reichenbach Fall", which ends with Sherlock being totally discredited, Moriarty killing himself, Sherlock faking his own suicide, and John going back in to therapy. In fact, "Reichenbach" is so much this that all resulting fanfic, and in fact the fandom itself, can be divided into "pre-Reichenbach" and "post-Reichenbach".
"His Last Vow" is arguably even more so. Mary Morstan turns out to be a liar who used to be an assassin. Sherlock's solution to defeating Magnusson, since his plan didn't work, is to just shoot him. He is "exiled" by Mycroft, but he is soon needed back in London, where every single screen is saying "Did you miss me?" alongside Moriarty's face.
The Season 1 finale of Six Feet Under, in which we find out that Nate has AVM.
Not to mention the season four episode, "That's My Dog". Yikes.
Despite being set up by the famous Narm cliffhanger, "Ecotone" has one. You don't think they'll go there, but in the end... Nathan Fisher. 1965-2005.
Sleepy Hollow ends its first season with the episodes "The Indispensable Man" and "Bad Blood", which both qualify. The first puts both Andy Brooks and Captain Irvingthe bus in different ways — the former is transformed fully into a demon by Moloch and last seen in a collapsing tomb, while the latter takes the blame for crimes committed by his possessed daughter and is arrested. But that pales to the events of the actual season finale. To sum up, Abbie takes Katrina's place in Purgatory in order to free her, ending up imprisoned by Moloch. Death/The Headless Horseman causes Jenny's car to crash, with her survival uncertain. And in the biggest shock of all, the last few minutes reveal that Henry Parish, the Sin Eater, is actually Ichabod and Katrina's supposedly dead son Jeremy, and is also the Horseman of War. He then hands Katrina over to Death, and leaves Ichabod Buried Alive.
Sliders, "Exodus, Part 2": The entire series flips on its head when the crew not only meet a general who has the coordinates to Earth-Prime (and are forced to chase him as he hops from dimension to dimension), but meet a new team member (Maggie) and lose another (Professor Arturo, who sacrifices himself to prevent Quinn from being shot by Rickman).
Season 5, Jor-El saves Clark's life but tells him that only death can pay for life and that he will lose someone he loves. Episode 5x12 starts with Lana getting killed, but Jor-El allows Clark go back in time to change that resulting in the death of Jonathan, Clark's father.
Soap has a good few of these, odd since you learn in the very first episode that Burt killed Mary's first husband (it's only a wham when she finds out). Learning that Carol, pregnant with Jodie's baby and been going on about them being together since her introduction, leave Jodie at the alter was a big one.
Another is when Danny gets shot through his kidneys whilst defending a crime witness and needs a transplant. Jodie (his brother) says he'll give one of his kidneys because Mary, their mother, isn't healthy enough. Except she tells him that they aren't 100% brothers because Danny is really Chester's child (Chester being Jessica's (Mary's sister) husband). Which made the entire show more complicated.
Sons of Anarchy is a show with a few Wham-ish episodes, but the season two finale upped the ante quite a bit. Gemma is on the lam after Stahl frames her for the murders of Edmond Hayes and Polly Zobelle, only one of which Gemma actually killed, Cameron Hayes kills Half Sack after he tries to attack him when he threatens to kill Jax's son in return for his own son's death (who was actually killed by Stahl), then proceeds to kidnap Abel and tie Tara up. When they hear that Abel has been kidnapped, the club leaves Ethan Zobelle, who they had pinned down just moments earlier, and he gets away (to make matters worse, he hasn't been seen or mentioned since, so it is very likely he got away with all that he did.Goddamn Irish.
The finale of Season 3 also qualifies, though in a more positive note. Yes, Jax, Clay, Bobby, Happy, Juice and Tig are going to prison and Stahl outed Jax as a rat in front of the club... But that was all part of their plan. Then, Chibs and Opie get their long awaited revenge on Jimmy O and Stahl, respectively. It was truly a great day to be a member of SAMCRO.
Episode 12 of season four takes it a step further, with Opie gunning Clay down. Prior to that, in episode eight, we saw Clay killing Piney, literally within the last seconds of the episode.
And then there's Season 5. It has a wham episode pretty early in, killing off Opie only three episodes in! And then there is the finale... Otto bites off his tongue to avoid testifying, Tig kills Damon Pope with a gun that's covered in Clay's prints, which causes him to go to prison with a contract put out on his head by Pope's right hand man, and Tara goes to prison for her accidental assistance in Pamela Toric's murder.... Damn.
In Episode 11 of Season 6...Jax finally kills Clay, along with most of the IRA's key stateside players. He then doctors the scene to make it look like Clay killed the three Irish as a result of a arms deal gone bad, freeing the club from both the albatross of its former President and the blood money of the gun trade.
The Sopranos had many of these, frequently in the penultimate or final episode of the season, sometimes both:
Season 1: 46 Long: Jackie Aprile dies creating a change in the family's status quo. In Isabella, the season's penultimate episode a hit is place on Tony by Uncle Junior. In the season finale Tony retaliates by having Junior's right hand man, Mikey murdered. Junior is arrested by the FBI.
Season 2: Full Leather Jacket: Christopher is shot by two low level thugs attempting to impress Richie and remains on the brink of death for several episodes. In the penultimate episode "The Knight in White Satin Armor" Tony decides to have Richie whacked but Janice beats him to the punch. In the season finale "Funhouse" Tony deduces that Pussy is a rat after which Tony, Paulie and Silvio execute him.
Season 3: "Amour Fou" where Jackie Jr.'s heist goes wrong leading into the finale which is more of a foregone conclusion than a Wham Episode. "Provshai, Livushka", "Employee of the Month" and "He is Risen" also arguably fall into this category.
Season 4: "Whoever Did This" where Tony finally snaps and kills Ralph after he allegedly kills a horse and "Whitecaps" the season finale where Tony and Carmella decide to separate.
Season 5: "Long Term Parking" where Adriana tells Chris she is an informant. She is killed by Silvio. Everybody's sad.
Season 6: "Members Only" is a fairly eventful episode: Eugene is revealed to be an informant, Ray, also an informant, dies of a sudden heart attack, this leads the FBI to pressuring Eugene who commits suicide, Junior has a senior moment and shoots Tony. "Cold Stones": Phil kills one of Tony's capos Vito, recently revealed to be gay, without Tony's permission.
Season 6 Part 2: Several episodes fall under this banner, most notably "Kennedy and Heidi" and "The Blue Comet".
Season 3 of Suits introduces several new characters after Pearson Hardman merges with a London firm to become Darby Pearson. One is Ava Hessington, an oil executive who stands accused of murder because her company bribed the dictator of an unnamed African country to allow a pipeline...just days before the environmentalists opposed to it were killed. Another is Stephen, a charming British lawyer who arrives to help Harvey handle her defense. In the last scene of season 6, Mike discovers that the dictator was Stephen's college buddy, and Stephen arranged the meeting between Ava and the dictator so that he thought he was being paid to commit murder, while she thought she was paying him to grant building permits.
Stargate Atlantis "First Contact". Season 5 was plodding along, it looked like the series wasn't going to be renewed and it was like a sick sheep dog being taken to the barn to be shot. Then wham — a favourite character from SG-1 (Daniel Jackson) arrives, a new species is introduced possessing technology that easily gets through the Lantean/Ancients tech that was always the reliable fail-safe for our heroes, pretty much everything else gets a huge shake up. And then in the conclusion, it is revealed that the new enemies are, in fact, rogue Asgard. At the end of this two-parter, the show returns to the status quo, but given SG-1's track record of bringing back years old plots down the line, in all likelihood we would have seen them again if the show hadn't been canceled.
"The Daedalus Variations" as well; the starship Daedalus mysteriously and suddenly appears in orbit with no explanation, and the team goes aboard. They find it's jumping from universe to universe on a regular basis. A lot of the universes seemed like they were foreshadowing future events, including an enigmatic and implacable alien race that also manage to come aboard the ship and wipe the floor with the crew. There's no doubt these aliens would have shown up in the prime universe in a later season, but the show didn't last long enough.
Stargate SG-1 has a few, but one that stands out for many fans is season 7's "Heroes". O'Neill gets shot in the gut, and Samantha Carter absolutely falls apart upon her return to Earth, which, seeing as how she's been explicitly in love with O'Neill for several years, leads viewers to think he's the one who died. Then a previously unintroduced member of the SGC is seriously wounded, a red herring to make the viewer think he'll be Killed Off for Real. But part of the way through his videotaped "final message" to his wife, the viewer realizes that the person that died was Dr. Janet Fraiser, Carter's best friend, a fact hammered home a few seconds later by her brutally sudden caught-on-camera death scene.
"Camelot": The Ori have invaded the Milky Way... and they just curb stomped a combined Tau'ri/Jaffa/Asgard/Lucian Alliance armada.
"Meridian": The one where Daniel dies. No, this wasn't the first time it happened, but he spent the entire episode dying this time, and he stayed that way for a whole season.
"Forever in a Day": Since the pilot, rescuing Daniel's wife had been one of the main subplots. Teal'c kills her in this episode.
Perhaps the greatest Wham Episode in the history of the Star Trek franchise, "The Best of Both Worlds", is absolutely shocking. After a drawn-out battle with the Borg - away missions, sneaking around, confrontations - the Enterprise receives a hailing message from the Borg Cube. It's Picard. And he's a borg.
I am Locutus
"Mr. Worf: Fire."
This was an even larger one at the time, as due to contract disputes there was no proof that Patrick Stewart would be back next season.
The appearance of "Tasha Yar" at the end of the "Redemption" episode is a major failure to perform this trope, in that it is clearly intended to be a Wham Event, except that the Half-Human Hybrid, Time Travel angle never affects any story at all, and Sela is just another scheming Romulan commander scheming her schemes until she's replaced by the next scheming Romulan commander. Yar's actual death in a much earlier episode however was something of a shock for many.
"State of Flux", in which Seska is revealed to be a Cardassian spy who has been selling Voyager's technology to the Kazon.
"Blood Fever", in which the crew learns that they are approaching Borg space.
"Message in a Bottle", a mostly comedic episode where Voyager finally succeeds in contacting the Federation to tell them that they are alive.
"Pathfinder", where Barclay manages to establish a permanent method of communication between the Federation and Voyager.
Star Trek: Enterprise: After two seasons of episodic adventure, "The Expanse" sees Earth attacked by the mysterious Xindi. Seven million are dead and this was only the weapons test. To save Earth, the crew embark to the Delphic Expanse with 1) Trip grieving over the death of his sister and wanting revenge, 2) T'Pol quitting the Vulcan High Command to help in the mission and 3) Archer realizing he's going to have a lot of tough decisions to make in the future.
Now see, why'd they have to go and blow up the mother from Good Times? Hasn't that poor woman suffered enough having to listen to Jimmy "J.J." Walker all the time?
Supernatural fans are still reeling from the Season Finale, "No Rest For The Wicked", which had Dean getting sent to hell for the summer, Sam's powers coming back and Lilith only just starting her reign of terror.
Except that they'd been leading to Dean going to Hell for the entire season. Not really a twist when they've been angsting about it the whole time. Fits more into Anyone Can Die or Tonight Someone Dies.
The discovery that Mary knew the YED in "All Hell Breaks Loose".
"Changing Channels" seems like a goofy episode until you get to the last part and- oh, wait, the Trickster is actually the Archangel Gabriel and he's pretty bitter over the way his brothers and are always fighting and doesn't want to have to see it.
'Hammer of the Gods' has Gabriel faking his death for the nth time, other gods complaining about how they were here before the angels- then Lucifer turns up and kills Gabriel.
The trilogy of "What Is And What Should Never Be/All Hell Breaks Loose". "What Is" set up how much of a broken basket case Dean really was and "All Hell" took it to astonishing new lows (selling his worthless soul). The demon gets killed (but it's an anti-climax if there ever was one), a whole new war has begun, Dad gets out of hell and Sam might have come back wrong. Yay?
The Season 1 finale has Sam, John, and Dean barely escaping from YED at the very end of the episode, heading for the ER, only for the Impala to be slammed midconversation by a demon-driven semi. Fade out with everyone incapacitated (or worse) on the side of the road...
"Lazarus Rising". Dean crawls out of his grave, fresh from Hell, which is pretty standard stuff for these guys. They spend the episode searching for the baddie that brought him back, and when Dean and Bobby finally manage to summon it for questioning at the end of the episode, it turns out his resurrection was performed by something we didn't believe existed in this verse- an Angel of the Lord (and a Badass Longcoat Angel of the Lord at that). Because God commanded it. (!) Because we have work for you. (!!!) Guess we're not just chasing around the freak of the week anymore...
Every time Supernatural ups the HSQ we get a Wham Episode. Notables from season 5 alone include: "The Song Remains the Same" (notable for revealing not only the origin of Azazel's plan but Mary and John's own shocking pasts), "Point of No Return" (for the jaw-dropping developments with Dean... and for the ridiculous amounts of really obvious Ho Yay between Dean and Castiel (talk about catering to your audience...)), "Hammer of the Gods" (where the HSQ hit the roof and just kept on going), "The Devil You Know" (thank you, Crowley), "2 Minutes To Midnight" (Introducing the Cosmic Entity Death (which threw the show into Go Mad from the Revelation proportions)), and "Swan Song" (if you don't know why it's on this list, then you haven't seen it).
Season 7 midseason finale "At Death's Door". Bobby dies; that is all.
Season 8, episode 1 "We Need To Talk About Kevin" has Dean escaping from Purgatory by working alongside (and demonstration friendship with) a vampire. It also goes on to reveal this season's plot—shutting the Gates of Hell forever.
8x22 and 8x23, "Clip Show" and "Sacrifice" were back-to-back Wham Episodes (though this is to be expected, as they were the two final episodes of the season). In "Clip Show" Crowley begins killing off everyone the Winchesters have ever saved—supporting characters such as Sarah Blake are killed while Crowley gives them an ultimatum: Make a deal with him to stop working to shut down Hell, or everyone they've ever met dies. "Sacrifice" ups it even further with Sam using Crowley for the third trial, and the revelation that he doesn't care at all if he dies in the process. Then it goes Up to Eleven with Metatron betraying Castiel, killing Naomi, and using Castiel's grace (rendering him human) to forcibly evict all the angels from Heaven and make them fall.
Ho ho ho, the season 9 final has to be the absolute worst in the series - and that's saying something! To name a few in the episode: Metatron decides to become the new Jesus(!) Cas is captured by Metatron's flunkies (!!) Dean is killed by Metatron (admittedly not unprecedented) and then Dean becomes a demon(!!!). That's right, that thing that he's been hunting since the show began!
Episode 7, series 3 of The Thick of It starts off like any other episode before it turns into several people outright attacking Malcolm (the series' resident chess master and Magnificent Bastard) and culminates in him getting sacked in the last couple of scenes.
Third Watch has a lot of these, but the most memorable is the season five finale "Monsters" where the hospital that the entire Third Watch is at gets gunned down by Donald Mann's people.
Also in the season five episode "Purgatory", Doc keeps the paramedics and the firefighters hostage in the firehouse after suffering a mental breakdown as a result of the 9/11 attacks, Taylor's death, his fiance leaving him, and the changes at the firehouse.
"Mom's Not Nuts": We're introduced to Titus' mother. And yes, she is nuts.
"Episode Eleven": The other characters visit Ken in the hospital after he has a heart attack and crashes his car. They then find out he didn't really have a heart attack, but crashed the car doing something very dangerous. In retaliation, they decide to play a cruel prank on him (because it's what Ken would do), but this causes him to have a heart attack for real.
"The Smell of Success": An incident at a car show in a past episode comes back to bite Titus in the ass, and Titus High Performance ends up bankrupt. At the end, he starts drinking again, and Erin leaves. (In the next episode, he tries to get her back again.)
"The Pit": In an attempt to rebuild their image, Titus High Performance competes in a drag race, and Titus crashes his car, and is in a coma in the next episode.
"The Wedding": Titus and Erin attempt to have an impromptu wedding, but everybody shows up and Titus' mother ends up shooting her abusive husband. (This was actually supposed to air earlier in the season, but Fox moved it to the end.)
"Tommy's Not Gay": Tommy's father comes out of the closet, and surprisingly, Tommy is angry about it (not for being gay, but to lying to his mom all those years).
"The Trial": Titus' mom goes on trial for murdering her husband (See "The Wedding"). Titus helps her get off, and she isn't happy about it, so she takes Ken hostage.
"The Visit": Titus' mom escapes from the nuthouse, just as the child services officer comes to determine if they can adopt Amy. Turns out, his mother's dead, having committed suicide some hours before.
"The Protector": Titus and Erin find out Amy was molested as a child by one of her classmates' father. (Like "The Wedding", this was supposed to air earlier in the season.)
Torchwood has had a few. "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" and "Reset" were pretty shocking, but "Exit Wounds" beats them both for sheer "wham".
Children of Earth is pretty much one great big wham miniseries, between the destruction of the Hub, Ianto's death, and the United Nations collaborating with the militaries of the major world powers to abduct 10% of the Earth's children and surrender them to an alien race. Probably the biggest individual wham is the revelation that the reason the Four-Five-Six are essentially interstellar druglords who deal in prepubescent children because their hormones are a euphoric among their species.
"Adrift" was pretty wham, too. That scream pretty much sets the stage for the next episodes.
True Blood has the season four finale. Sookie dumps Eric and Bill both. Tara gets shot in the head. So does Debbie Pelt. Jesus gets stabbed to death. Nan Flanagan gets staked. Russell Edgington escapes from his chained grave. The Authority puts out kill orders on Bill and Eric. And the season closes on Sookie cradling Tara's bleeding body, crying desperately for help.
2 Broke Girls: "And Not-So-Sweet Charity": After a season and a half of building up the money to rent a space for their cupcake store, Max and Caroline accept a buyout offer from the new owners and pay off their debts. That leaves them in the same position they were at the beginning of the series, but with even less money.
Ultimate Force, a British SAS show, killed off 3 of the 5 man band in the first 5 minutes of Season 3, including the central character, and put its mission control on a bus, as part of a retool to a longer format.
The Vampire Diaries, While nearly every episode ends with a shocking cliffhanger, a notable one is the first season finale, Founders Day, in which fan favorite Anna, the mayor, and all remaining tomb vampires die, Caroline ends up in the hospital after a car accident, and Katherine returns, stabbing John.
Another one with "The Sun Also Rises", the penultimate episode of the second season. Here we have the deaths of Jules, Jenna, and John, Elijah's betrayal, the official breakup of Matt and Caroline, and Damon revealing to Stefan that he's dying.
"Murder of One" reveals that killing an Original kills every vampire that they have ever turned (and any vampire descendants), ergo killing them all would kill all vampires.
The next episode turns Alaric into an original.
"The Departed" reveals that Elena actually met Damon first and kills off Klaus AND Alaric. It ends with Elena dead before she wakes into the transitional stage to becoming a vampire.
Klaus isn't really dead though, he took Tyler's body.
Veronica Mars, "Not Pictured." Veronica wasraped at Shelley Pomroy's party. Aaron is dead on Duncan's orders. Weevil is in jail for murder. And, oh yeah, Beaver's a raging psychopath who blew up the bus, raped Veronica, and threw himself off the roof of the Neptune Grand. Damn.
Between seasons 2 and 3, a drug deal gone bad destroys Nancy's entire business and puts her in the service of a thug named U-Turn.
And that is nothing compared to the end of season 3, where a fire destroys her entire neighborhood and she moves to a city just north of the Mexican border.
The West Wing Season 1 finale ends on a cliffhanger, the season 2 premiere "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen, Part I" is a wham episode. Who's been hit? The President, who's mostly fine, and Josh, who is very not.
And how could we forget "18th and Potomac", with the death of Mrs. Landingham.
The season 4 episode "Commencement" is the second-to-last episode written by Aaron Sorkin before he left the show: Amy Gardner asks Donna straight-out if she loves Josh, Toby proposes to Andy (and she says no!) before her water breaks and she goes into labor, and then Massive Attack's "Angel" starts playing, which leads to... "Bookbag is taken! We have an agent down! Go to Code Black!"
No one can say they weren't warned, as Bartlett explicitly foreshadows the "nightmare scenario" way back in the first season episode "Mr. Willis of Ohio."
The second episode of season 6 began with the immediate aftermath of Leo's heart-attack and ended with the big surprise of Bartlett asking C.J. to be the new Chief-of-Staff, both of which led to significant changes in the relationships among the senior staff, and indirectly to Josh Lyman's resignation at the midseason break. If he'd been the one promoted he wouldn't have left to work for a new presidential hopeful, which might have been part of Leo's plan all along when he recommended C.J. instead of Josh.
And how could we forget "He Shall, from Time to Time," which sets up much of seasons 2 and 3:
Abbey: He has Multiple Sclerosis, Leo.
At the end of the White Collar fall finale, we find out that the main villain responsible for holding Kate hostage and using her to blackmail Neal is in fact the FBI.
That's not the Wham part. The part that kicks you in the teeth is that it's Peter.
But then we find out it's not Peter, and that Neal's original suspicion, OPR Agent Fowler, was correct. And then the MacGuffin is revealed: some music box.
Season 1 finale: Music box mystery closed (sorta), Kate found, Neal heads toward a plane that will carry off Kate and him to their government approved happily ever after ... and then the plane blows up in Neal's face while Kate was on it.
Then there's the season 2 summer finale: Mozzie gets shot through the heart.White Collar just loves these.
And then, in the second season finale, we find out why all the fuss and ridiculously complicated treasure hunt throughout the whole season happened: it led to Nazi treasure worth uncountabillions. Then it gets incinerated. All that art and gold gone forever - and then a burned scrap of Neal's painting falls in front of Peter.
The Wire had a few, often positioned at the second last episode of a season. Particularly, in the penultimate episode of season three, McNulty finally has a lead on the guy he's been chasing three years, Stringer Bell! Before Stringer gets killed by Omar Little and Brother Mouzone.
Whenever a main character on The Wire gets shot - not necessarily fatally - it tends to be a Wham Episode. In the first season, when Kima gets shot on a stakeout gone wrong, it shakes up most of the other characters. Mc Nulty goes into burnout, feeling responsible, Rawls and Landsman come out of the office and show themselves to be brilliant field cops, and on the criminal side the Barksdale shooters panic and go into hiding once they discover their victim's identity.
The events of season 1 finale of WMAC Masters. What was once an Anvilicious Aesop-of-the-day show becomes a mystery thriller.