A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift starts out as a rather dull essay about the problem of widespread childhood poverty in Ireland (then a rather poorly treated possession of the United Kingdom). Then the speaker of the essay busts out the following:
"A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled...."
Changes, the first line is one for the series as a whole: "I picked up the phone and Susan Rodriguez said, 'They've got our daughter.'"
Changes is full of these. Chock full. Perhaps one of the whammiest, halfway through the book: "I can't feel my legs." This is then followed up a few chapters later with Harry calling on someone to help him: " Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, Queen of the Winter Court! I bid you come forth!"
L.A. Confidential has one of the whammiest of Wham Lines: "Captain Dudley Liam Smith for the Nite Owl." Notable for being whammy not because we didn't know who the villain was, but because Exley, Vincennes, and White putting it all together and saying it out loud is so powerful. As Ed says, they're crossing the only man on Earth more dangerous than Ed himself.
"Kneel before the Lord Dragon, or you will be knelt."
The Uncommon Reader, also the last line of the book: "Why do you think I called you all here?"
Falling Angels: The sole line in the last chapter from Ivy May's point of view: "Over his shoulder I saw a star fall. It was me." It is later revealed that she was raped and strangled by a man in the crowd after her sister loses track of her.
Friends Like These, a lighthearted retelling of Danny Wallace's quest to meet up with his childhood friends: "Daniel, I'm not sure how to tell you this, but Andy passed away." Read it in context here.
"The sniper darted across the street. A machine gun tore up the ground around him with a hail of bullets, but he escaped. He threw himself face downward beside the corpse. The machine gun stopped. Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother's face."
The Hunger Games: "Katniss, there is no District Twelve." Bam! End of the second book!
"Because she's here with me."
And one year later: "...if it weren't for the baby." Different contexts out of and in-universe, but still a wham moment either way.
"Under the new rule, both tributes from the same district will be declared winers if they are the last two alive."
And then: "The earlier revision has been revoked."
"the male and female tributes will be reaped from their existing pool of victors."
Several unexpected deaths:
And then he drives the spear through her chest. Rue
Triggering the bomb that blows off his legs. Boggs
And then the second round of parachutes goes off.Prim
'' And President Coin drops from the balcony. Dead.
Suzanne Collins loves to end chapters on Wham Lines, which doubles as Cliffhangers.
Green Sky Trilogy: Pomma pretty much collapses a whole society with, "I know there are no Pash-San...Because Teera is a Pash-San."
Sphere - "What happens if Jerry gets mad?"
Even bigger: MY NAME IS HARRY.
The biggest: "Why, thank you, Norman," she said.
Philip Pullman loves these and will go for a wham line (even if occasionally he has to immediately retract it. E.g. 'They will never leave again. At least, not by that door.') From the chapter of Northern Lights where Lyra discovers Tony Makarios:
"That was intercision, and this was a severed child."
Zombie Apocalypse! by Simon Jones is pretty much made of this trope (andothers). For an example: the first segment is a letter from a man to his mother, which seems to show the beginning of the titular occurrence. Two-thirds of the way through, we discover what we thought was a pre-disaster segment is being written during the disaster; the mother he was writing to has been dead for years; and as soon as the letter is finished he's going to do down to his zombie wife and burn the house down around the two of them. The letter cuts out mid-sentence, and we are told by a coda that it was recovered from a laptop whose battery ran out, which itself was recovered from the ruins of a burnt-down house months after the fact.
In Jorge Luis Borges's "The Immortal", a Roman soldier goes looking for the Fountain of Immortality. His journey - across hostile lands only inhabited by mindless and speechless troglodytes - is for naught: the City of Immortals he finds is an abandoned, incomprehensible labyrinth in the middle of nowhere. And just as the protagonist has lost all hopes, a troglodyte recites a line from The Odyssey. When asked how much more he knows of it, he answers "Not much - it's been more than eleven hundred years since I wrote it".
And with a cold shiver of dread, Fireheart realized that the new leader of ShadowClan was Tigerclaw.
Long Shadows: "You'll have to try harder than that. They're not my kits!"
In one chapter of Shirley Jackson's family comedy ''Life Among the Savages', her son Laurie, a new kindergartener, is constantly telling stories about a mischievous classmate Charles whose inventively naughty behavior fascinates both parents. The narrator sets out for her first parent-teacher conference eager to meet Charles' mother. The teacher remarks that Laurie has had some trouble adjusting and his mother blames it on Charles' influence. The teacher is confused:
"Charles? We don't have a Charles in this class."
Agatha Christie's Why Didn't They Ask Evans? A man falls off a cliff, and his last words are "Why didn't they ask Evans?". Two amateur detectives, Bobby and Frankie, assume he's been murdered, and in the course of investigating, find themselves looking into the will of a man who'd committed suicide several months prior. Frankie wants to know why the man had the gardener called in to witness the will, when there was a parlormaid in the house who could have done just as well:
Frankie: Why didn't they ask the parlormaid?
Bobby: Funny you should ask that...The parlormaid's name was Evans.
And the last line of The Witness for the Prosecution — "I knew - he was guilty!"
A Thread of Grace: The war is over, there is celebrating in the streets of Italy. We just went through what was the trauma of the last days of shelling and the deaths of several major characters. Renzo, one of the leaders of the resistance and pilot during the war in Ethiopia, was undercover as a Nazi sympathizer. He goes into town during the last non epilogue chapter. Most everyone who knew he was actually part of the resistance and not actually a Nazi sympathizer, was already dead. The people in the streets quickly turn on him, hanging him for his "crimes." The last line:
The last line of J.D. Salinger's short story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish": "Then he went over and sat down on the unoccupied twin bed, looked at the girl, aimed the pistol, and fired a bullet through his right temple.
When Thrall defeats an orc who insulted the Frostwolves.
"My name, son of Durotan, is Orgrim Doomhammer."
Thrall gets a very unpleasant surprise in the final assault on Durnholde.
"Taretha's blue eyes stared sightlessly up at him from her severed head."
From Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion series: In Paladin of Souls, "Lord Arhys, how long have you been dead?" and "I wasn't expecting You here." And in The Hallowed Hunt, "...you are the heir of my blood, should you be living when next I die."
The ending of Isaac Asimov's short story "The Last Question": And AC said: "LET THERE BE LIGHT!" And there was light.
Astrid Lindgren's Mio, My Son: "Take my hand, and I shall help you!" And I took his hand. But it was no hand. It was an iron claw.
Pride and Prejudice: "In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." Lizzie Bennet certainly didn't see it coming.
Gormenghast: Steerpike shouting out " And the twins will make it five" while in a feverish delirium is the real beginning of the other characters' suspicion of him and his motives.
Boba Fett: "Count Dooku and Tyranus are the same person. Your greatest enemy created your armies. It is a trap."
Palpatine: "I know."
In Tides Of War, Kalecgos finds the Focusing Iris that he's been searching for over the course of the entire book thus far. Garrosh is using it to in a "mana bomb" that he will use to destroy Theramore
Now it was moving. Fast.
And it was moving northwest. Toward Theramore.
Nothing but the Truth by AVI
"I don't know the words."
From Liar, in Micah's narration: "I am a werewolf."