- 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...."
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: "All right then. I'll go to Hell."
- Animal Farm:
- All together now: "Four legs good, two legs better!"
- And just before that: "It was a pig walking on his hind legs".
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- A Game of Thrones:
- Regarding his mother and Sansa advising him to spare Ned Stark:
Joffrey: But they have the soft hearts of women. So long as I am your king, treason shall not go unpunished. Ser Ilyn, bring me his head!
- While Robb's war council debates which king to swear fealty to, Greatjon Umber decides that Robb would be best.
...and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons
- A Clash of Kings:
- Ramsay giving his orders as to what to do with Winterfell:
- A Storm of Swords:
- The moment when it becomes clear that Walder Frey has thrown in his lot with the Lannisters:
- The revelation of the presence of the mole.
- A Feast for Crows:
- Arya learning the price of breaking the Faceless Men's rules:
The next day when she woke up she was blind.
- When winter finally comes:
It was snow, drifting through the window.
- The new High Septon appears to be completely loyal to Cersei, but then when she prepares to leave Baelor's Sept after plotting their latest scheme:
High Septon: No.
- Doran revealing his true objective:
Doran Martell: Vengeance. Justice. Fire and blood.
- A Dance with Dragons:
- Ramsay's letter to Jon Snow. Whether the contents are true is unclear, but everything goes to hell after Jon reads it:
Ramsay Bolton: Your false king is dead.
- The Sherlock Holmes novel The Valley of Fear, in the very last chapter, no less: "I am Birdy Edwards."
- "The Dying Detective": "A match and a cigarette."
- The opening line of "The Final Problem": "It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen to write these the last words in which I shall ever record the singular gifts by which my friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, was distinguished."
- Dinin in Exile, with regards to an assault late in the book: "No, sister. Not House Fey-Branche. Baenre." Cue the Matron Mother of all Out-Gambitted Oh Craps.
- Harry Potter:
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: "I could've sworn they said you was deaf!"
- American Gods: "Jesus, Low-Key Lyesmith...Oh, Jesus. Loki. Loki Lie-Smith."
- Another one is "It's a two-man con."
- When the apparent Big Bad is explaining his plan to an underling:
...and then I'm going to say 'I dedicate this battle to Odin.
- "Cathy's Key" has Guile Lancer Emma proclaim:
"Nope", Emma said. "I just paid the caterer fifty bucks to dump the rest of the serum in the punch."
- The Four Gospels
Jesus Christ: "Tonight, one of you will betray me."
- The Dresden Files
- The first line of Changes is one for the series as a whole: "I picked up the phone and Susan Rodriguez said, 'They've got our daughter.'" Even whammier in context, particularly for Harry, as he hadn't been previously aware of said daughter's existence.
- 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!"
- A line whose whamminess resulted in fist-pumping: "It was the Grey Council. The Grey Council!"
- Not only Changes. A chapter of Blood Rites ends with "Not yours, Harry. Our mother."
- "Charity...how long has it been since you've used your magic?"
- Small Favor: "Where is your blasting rod?"
- Also "They're coming for Ivy!"
- Ghost Story: "They've been like this since they killed you."
- From Cold Days:
Mab: Kill my daughter. Kill Maeve.
- A marvelous one for students of Warhammer 40,000 lore near the end of Pariah:
Deathrow: I am Alpharius.
- 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.
- The Wheel of Time:
- 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.
- Many of John Wyndham's short stories end with a Wham Line.
- "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty:
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.
- Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga:
- A Civil Campaign: "Will you marry me?" You know it's been coming since chapter one, and it still works. It's all in the timing.
- Cryoburn: "Count Vorkosigan, sir?"
- Averted in Gone Girl when it's not a line but a gradual realization over the course of the chapter what's been going on this whole time. However, we do have this line, which first clues us in that something is horribly wrong...
Amy: I'm so much happier now that I'm dead.
- 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 winners 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."
- "My lips are just forming his name when his fingers lock around my throat."
- 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.
- From Finnick in Mockingjay: "President Snow used to sell me... my body, that is."
- 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."
- Also, the final line in The Subtle Knife.
- Nineteen Eighty-Four:
- Julia slips Winston a note, and he fears what it might contain, such as an order to kill himself. It says "I love you."
- "You are the dead."
- O'Brien: "They got me a long time ago."
- "Do it to her!"
- The last words of the story, in reference to Winston: "He loved Big Brother."
- "It's behind the painting."
- On the more obscure side, cosmic horror author Thomas Ligotti, whose stories seem to culminate in Wham Paragraphs. A few notable single lines from his work:
- "Nethescurial": I am not dying in a nightmare.
- "The Chymist": Now, Rose of Madness...Bloom!
- "Mrs. Rinaldi's Angel": "It was an angel, did you know that?"
- "The Troubles of Doctor Thoss": "My name is Thoss, I am a doctor."
- Sophie's Choice: "You may keep one of your children."
- Anathem: "In my world, we call it a Faraday cage." The first half reveals that Zh'vaern is an alien; the second reveals that the aliens are from Earth.
- The Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Armour of Contempt has "Since I switched it on", while Blood Pact has "Then it is Rime".
- Ravenor Returned has two right on top of each other. "That's Zygmunt bastard Molotch." Immediately followed by "In the name of darkness, that's Slyte!!"
- The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: From the third ending (the one with teeth): "And so the Princess ate them."
- The last line of Surface Detail, by Iain Banks: "Your table is ready, Mr. Zakalwe."
- The Turn of the Screw: "We were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped."
- The Vampire Diaries Book 4: "Get away from my brother!"
- From The Thief:
Eddis: Oh. It's you, Eugenides.
- Zombie Apocalypse! by Simon Jones is pretty much made of this trope (and others). 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 go 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".
- Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects has a few.
Nozdormu: You asked me how I knew the infinite dragonflight was behind Blackmoore'sss creation and liberation. I know this because... I ssssent him after you.
"Thank you, my lord," Archbishop Benedictus said.
- Warrior Cats has the last line of Rising Storm.
And with a cold shiver of dread, Fireheart realized that the new leader of ShadowClan was Tigerclaw
Hollyleaf: I'm sorry...I was only trying to do what was best. I couldn't let Ashfur live! It was for all our sakes! You understand, don't you?
- 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!"
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: After Poirot explains everything he knows about the murderer:
- Crooked House — "Today I killed Grandfather."
- And Then There Were None —After Vera, supposedly the last person left alive on the island, hangs herself, the epilogue cuts to a police inspector talking about the ten dead bodies on Soldier Island to his superior several days later. The inspector's reply to his superior regarding Vera hanging herself: "But the chair wasn't found kicked over. It was, like all the other chairs, neatly put back against the wall. That was done after Vera Claythorne's death — by someone else."
- 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:
"It's like flying, except you never come down."
- Prisoners of Power: It's not the line itself, but the fact that it was spoken in German:
- 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.
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has "I never could see over your shoulders before". It's the one line you read, and understand that you haven't understood anything else in the book.
- "Ten Years to Doomsday" is a light-hearted science fiction, and almost seems like a comedy until the very last line. "When he awoke the next morning, the sky was full of ships."
- The Stormlight Archive:
- From The Way of Kings:
- From Words of Radiance:
- Kaladin: I will protect even those that I hate, if it is right. note
- Kaladin: You sent him to the sky to die, assassin, but the sky and the winds are mine. I claim them, as I now claim your life. note
- Shallan: There is something wrong with your Blade, and with all Blades. [pause] All but mine. Pattern! note
- Adolin: My father thinks I'm a better man than he is. Unfortunately for you, he's wrong. note
- From Oathbringer:
- Beware the otherworlders. The traitors. Those with tongues of sweetness, but with minds that lust for blood. Do not take them in. Do not give them succor. Well were they named Voidbringers, for they brought the void. The empty pit that sucks in emotion. A new god. Their god. These Voidbringers know no songs. They cannot hear Roshar, and where they go, they bring silence. They look soft, with no shell, but they are hard. They have but one heart, and it cannot ever live. note
- Odium: I need someone stronger than Amaram. A man who will win no matter the cost. A man who has served me all his life. A man I trust. I believe I warned you that I knew you'd make the right decision. And now here we are. note
- Dalinar: You cannot have my pain. note
- A Deepness in the Sky
Sherkaner Underhill: It's all messed up now.
- From the Warcraft Expanded Universe novel, Lord of the Clans
- 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 The Curse of Chalion, "It's Caz! It's Caz!" - Royse Bergon, revealing that he and Cazaril have met before.
- In Paladin of Souls, "Lord Arhys, how long have you been dead?" - Ista, as a piece falls into place in the puzzle of the two brothers, and "I wasn't expecting You here." - Ista again, on suddenly encountering the Father of Winter.
- In The Hallowed Hunt, "It wasn't your wolf" - Ijada, refusing to run away from Ingrey despite his involuntary attempts to kill her, and "...you are the heir of my blood, should you be living when next I die." - Earl Horseriver, in response to Ingrey's threat to kill him.
- Over the course of Isaac Asimov's short story "The Last Question", a series of ever-more-powerful computers is asked "How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?", in the context of averting the heat death of the universe. The answer always comes back "INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.", until the final iteration of the computer, a Hyper Space-based computer named "AC" observes the heat death and works out the answer: 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.
- The Changeling Prince:
"The dragon bit her head off."
- Mistborn: The Original Trilogy:
- Book 2, The Well of Ascension, quoting the etching that Sazed has been studying the entire book... except that there are tiny differences between the etching and Sazed's copy.
must not reach the Well of Ascension... for he must not release
that is imprisoned there.
- And when Vin goes to the Well and does exactly what she shouldn't:
Ruin: I am free!
- Wax and Wayne:
- The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: "You would think that someone in her thirties would have a little more sense than a typical teenager."
- John Dies at the End: And that was the second thing: The body on the floor was me.
- "They-they called you 'nigger'? Even though you're white?"
- Cloud Atlas:
HÔTEL MEMLING, BRUGES
QUARTER PAST FOUR IN THE MORNING, 12TH—XII—1931
Shot myself through the roof of my mouth at five A.M. this morning with VA.’s Luger.
- The Help: "That was horrifying even to me." To explain, this is the moment when you realize that Skeeter is a segregationist.
- Holes: "My real name is Hector Zeroni." Also a case of Dramatic Irony—the reader gets why this is important, but neither Stanley nor Hector ever do.
- 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.
- Cold Vengeance
Judson Esterhazy: You want an answer to your question? Here is is. I never did murder Helen. She's still alive.
- From Farewell to the Master.
Gnut: You misunderstand. I am the master.
- Boba Fett: Pursuit, despite being an Expanded Universe novel aimed at a younger audience, has one for Star Wars as a whole, although it's more like an Untwist for fans:
Boba Fett: "Count Dooku and Tyranus are the same person. Your greatest enemy created your armies. It is a trap."
Palpatine: "I know."
- From a Certain Point of View, a title for the series 40th anniversary, had one in it's preview. One that really throws canon into a tizzy and flips an ancient question of the fandom.
Obi-Wan: "I want you to train young Skywalker."
Obi-Wan:"You agree so quickly."
Yoda: "Long have I wanted to train her."
- 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."
- Maggie Stiefvater likes to end each book in The Raven Cycle this way. The entire plot of the second books revolves around the last line of the first.
- The Raven Boys: "I pulled Chainsaw out of my dreams."
- The third book has one in the middle instead of the end: "Matthew's one of mine."
- The Raven King begins with the revelation that Gansey has known he was going to die for some time.
- The works of H.P. Lovecraft contain a few:
"You needn't ask how Wilbur called it out of the air. He didn't call it out. It was his twin brother, but it looked more like the father than he did."
What they finally found inside Edward's oddly-assorted clothes was mostly liquescent horror. There were bones, too - and a crushed-in skull. Some dental work positively identified the skull as Asenath's.
- In Pickman's Model, we discover what made the artist's painting so lifelike:
"Well - that paper wasn't a photograph of any background, after all. What it showed was simply the monstrous being he was painting on that awful canvas. It was the model he was using- and its background was merely the wall of the cellar studio in minute detail. But by God, Eliot, it was a photograph from life!"
For the things in the chair, perfect to the last, subtle detail of microscopic resemblance - or identity - were the face and hands of Henry Wentworth Akeley.
- And lest we forget this one from The Statement Of Randolph Carter:
"You fool, Warren is dead!"
- The Discworld Novels are full of them:
- In Maskerade. delivered by none less than Granny Weatherwax.
Life's not neat! Whoever said there's only one Ghost?
- And another, just before.
Andre: I...hang around in dark places looking for trouble.
Granny: Really? There's a nasty name for people like that.
Andre: Yes, it's policeman.
- This one from The Fifth Elephant doesn't really affect the reader that much, as it's hinted at with almost no subtlety whatsoever several times beforehand, but it surely has this effect on Commander Vimes:
Sybil: I'm going to have a baby, Sam.
- Later in the same book, with just two words:
Dee: I can't!
Carcer: I got three knives, Mister Vimes.
- Thud! contains perhaps the biggest in the series.
Bashfullson [translating the Cube]: I WHO SPEAK TO YOU NOW AM B'HRIAN BLOODAXE, BY RIGHT OF THE SCONE THE TRUE KING OF THE DWARFS!
- In Going Postal, Moist is talking with Adora Belle Dearheart about his position as Postmaster and Adora brings back up again the fact that the last four people appointed Postmaster died tragically soon after.
Moist: Well yes, it used to be pretty bad in the old days.
Adora Belle: Old days? Last month was old days?
- In The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, revealing to the heroine that all her efforts so far have only just scratched the surface of the conspiracy and that there are many, many more still affected by it:
Through the woods leading to the Infirmary, a little porcelain doll walked of its own accord, dragging the unconscious Magdalene Chase.
- In ''The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel," after Rachel has been told she cannot be given the rune to protect her memory, the titular Elf places a hand on her head and says:
- In ''Rachel and the Technicolor Dreamland: "Of course not. No real god or angels are allowed in this world."
- From Ready Player One: Sorrento: "Sit down, Wade!"
- In Caught, book 5 of Margaret Peterson Haddix's time travel series The Missing:
Mileva: Or should I say, I love you, my son, JB?
- The moment of revelation in Steelheart:
- In The Sisters Grimm, there's The Reveal of The Master's identity.
Sabrina: You sick, twisted monster. Do you know the nightmare you have inflicted upon my family? You're a horrible, evil worm!
:Pinnochio: I'm not the Master!
Puck: Why should we believe you?
: Because I am the Master.
- In The Last Ship, the Soviet captain informs Thomas of his hometown. The city that Thomas nuked:
“Where is your home, Captain?”
“Insofar as I have one—Charleston, South Carolina.”
He smiled softly. “I’ve seen it—through a periscope.”
“A place called Orel. You probably never heard of it.”
My heart skipped a beat.
- I Want My Hat Back appears to be a children's book about a bear looking for his hat and politely asking around to see if anyone has seen it, and then, in a Eureka Moment:
- That encoded message in Gregor and the Code of Claw? It says Twitchtip died in pit. Also, Luxa's declaration of war against the gnawers.
- James Bond
- After a lenghty speech about the greatest criminal undertaking ever, Goldfinger reveals what exactly is his Evil Plan:
Goldfinger: Mr. Bond, we are going to empty Fort Knox.
- Role of Honour has two: First the reveal whom Dr. Joe Antem Holy is working with ("Our principals are a group who call themselves SPECTRE") and the second one comes when the supposed Evil Plan is put to action, the novel's real Big Bad tells how it is really going to go down ("You didn't think we were really going to allow the Soviet Union to suffer the indignity of being stripped of her assets as well?").
- William Goldman intentionally invokes this trope several times in The Princess Bride. From the first chapter:
"Even the village girls would nod and smile now, and some of them would ask after Westley, which was a mistake unless you happened to have a lot of spare time, because when someone asked Buttercup how Westley was—well, she told them. He was supreme as usual; he was spectacular; he was singularly fabulous. Oh, she could go on for hours. Sometimes it got a little tough for the listeners to maintain strict attention, but they did their best, since Buttercup loved him so completely. Which was why Westley's death hit her the way it did.
- In The Dragon's Path, book one of The Dagger and the Coin series, when Geder Palliako announces that it is impossible to hold the city of Vanai, the reader, along with Geder's advisers, is inclined to think that he means merely to withdraw. Then, when they ask him if that is his intent, he says, "No, we're going to burn it." Up until then, Geder had seemed an entirely likable, sympathetic character. Then you realize he is capable of ordering the slaughter of an entire city out of pique.
- Blindness by José Saramago: "I know you can see." (Eu sei que a senhora vê.)
- The Giver:
- At some point The Giver mentions that there used to be another receiver named Rosemary. She was given sweet memories most of the time, but when she started to get the really painful memories, she asked to be released. After she died, her memories were let out, and there was chaos. Only with The Giver's help did people return to their normal lives. Later on, you also learn that The Giver has a daughter. Jonas, eager to help, asked what her name was. The reply? "Her name was Rosemary."
- "You are beginning to see the color red".
- In A Bad Day For Voodoo, Esmeralda the doll-maker tells Tyler and Kelley, "[Adam] add to power of doll. Make it super-magical. He Chosen One.", revealing that Adam of all people is The Chosen One.
- In If I Stay, comatose Mia to her mom's friend: "Why aren't you with Teddy?"
- In Spanish teenage novel ...en un lugar llamado Tierra: "Briar". The person that says this uses it to prove a high-ranking robot that he knows the victim (another robot) discovered Earth and committed suicide rather than let humanity destroy the planet again.
- The Fault in Our Stars:
- "Just before you went into the ICU, I started to feel this ache in my hip."
- "Augustus Waters died eight days after his prefuneral." No matter how obvious or predictable it is that it's coming, it still hurts like hell.
- The Horus Heresy books have a two sentence exchange which raises serious questions about the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
Kai Zulane: But you're going to die.
The Emperor: I know.
- The False Memory trilogy:
The reporters aren't happy about the half story, but I don't think I could care even if I tried. I just want Peter to look at me. He finally does, at the end, right before we're marched off the platform. He turns his face to me and smiles, but the smile doesn't touch his eyes. The flashes are so bright they draw my attention to something missing on his face. I'm looking at his purple-blue eyes, and then his chin.
- The first line of the WondLa series: "Eva Nine was dying."
- Revanche Cycle:
- "Decided how you should die," the Owl said.
- Book two ends on three huge wham lines/moments, one right after the other: "The note bore two words: You're Next.", "Mari? Would you like to become my knight?", and "Perhaps I am."
- My Sweet Audrina, spoken by Audrina's father:
: My sweet Audrina
. . . haven't you guessed yet? Haven't I explained and explained and given you all the clues you need? Vera is not my First Audrina, you are.
- The Mysterious Benedict Society:
- The Big Bad Mr. Curtain has one towards the end, revealing the extent of the improvements to his Whisperer machine, that it has recently been made capable of brainsweeping people (erasing their memories) even if they aren't seated in it.
Mr. Curtain: Obviously, Reynard, you were unaware of the extent of my improvements. You needn't be seated in my lovely Whisperer to experience its most powerful effect. In this room you are all quite within range.
- Near the end of the first book, a revelation comes up that explains so much about Constance.
"Three birthday candles?" Reynie said, "Three birthday candles? Constance is only two years old?"
- It's early on in the book, but this line does clue us in on exactly what the relationship between Old Nick and Ma is, and Jack, who's narrating, is too young to realize what is actually going on.
- Much later in the book is the revelation that Ma has tried to kill herself.
"Then I see Ma's pill bottles open on the table, they look mostly empty. Never more than two, that's the rule, how could they be mostly empty, where did the pills go?"
- There are two lines that are shocking to Jack, but not to the reader. "What we see on TV, is... it's pictures of real things." And later, "Oh, Jack, we're never going back."
- In the web-novel Domina, the Composer is finally temporarily defeated (again), everyone has powers, the screamers have awoken, and then someone who looks exactly like the Composer walks through the city gates. "Hello. I am here to negotiate the release of my sister. Take me to you leader."
- Station Eleven:
Of all of them there at the bar that night, the bartender was the one who survived the longest. He died three weeks later on the road out of the city.
- Arthur C. Clarke's short story The Nine Billion Names of God: A religious group has hired a computer and two technicians to compute and print out the nine billion names of God, which they believe is the purpose of the universe. The technicians decide to leave a bit before the computer is scheduled to finish, to avoid any unpleasantness when the world fails to end.
"...overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out."
- Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note: In the anime adaptation, expect the third episode of every arc to contain at least one of them. However, among those the straightest example would be the one in the twelveth novel The Backyard Knows, animated as Episode 11. Up to this point, while the rest of the cast have been concerned about Uesugi's recent performance drop and withdrawal from from their activities, they assume it as a problem of time management. Only when he comes to Aya's house to say farewell he incidentally blurbs out the real reason for his own behavior.
Uesugi: I can't see.
- Looking for Alaska: The second half of the book, "After," opens with the Dean delivering some very bad news to the students of Culver Creek.
Mr. "The Eagle" Starnes: Last night, Alaska Young was in a terrible accident. And she was killed. Alaska has passed away.
- We Need to Talk About Kevin: The penultimate chapter, where Eva narrates the Thursday that Kevin committed the massacre at the school. She reveals that, after witnessing Kevin surrender to the police, she came home to discover Kevin had killed Franklin and Celia before going to the school! Until this moment, we thought that Eva and Franklin had divorced, taken custody of Celia (neither Franklin nor Eva could get custody of Kevin because he was imprisoned for murder), and hadn't spoken since the massacre and she was writing letters trying to talk to him about it. Franklin did decide to divorce, but Kevin murdered him and Celia before the proceedings could finish.
- In the Hugo Award winning short story "Even the Queen" by Connie Willis, a young woman joins a cult called "the Cyclists", much to the distress of her family. They spend a lot of time discussing whether the Cyclists brainwash people, how she is ruining her life and whether they should accept her choice as an adult or try to do something about it; but for several pages they never say what the Cyclists are, until the following exchange:
Mother: The Cyclists do not ride bicycles.
Twidge: They menstruate.
- Kevin Day deliveries four of these in rapid succession during an interview in The King's Men. The reader already knows about them, but the impact in universe is the same, especially considering Kevin's usual interactions with the press.
- Towards the very end of the previous book, The Raven King, Jean delivers one of these to Neil when he reveals that Coach Wymack is Kevin's biological father.
- Siri Hustvedt uses the trope to great, heartbreaking effect in her novel, What I Loved, opening the second chapter with this: "Eight days later Matt died."
- Halo's The Forerunner Saga has several:
: The Didact is here. The Didact is gone...It is said the Master Builder executed you on the San'Shyuum quarantine planet. You are now all I have.
You are now all we have.
: We meet again, young one. I am the last of those who gave you breath and shape and form, millions of years ago. I am the last of those your kind rose up against and ruthlessly destroyed. I am the last Precursor
. And our answer is at hand.
Guilty Spark: Some say [the Librarian] is dead, that she died on Earth. But this is demonstrably untrue...And after a hundred thousand years of exploration and study...I know where to find her.
- In The Dinosaur Lords, the last line of book two:
Father Jerónimo was, quite unmistakably, a Grey Angel.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
- "Kiss the prettiest girl in the room." Charlie is drunkenly dared this by his best friend Patrick at a party, and, having No Social Skills, chooses his longtime crush Sam over his current girlfriend Mary Elizabeth, setting up the big Third-Act Misunderstanding.
- At the end of the book, everyone has made up again, Charlie and Sam have revealed their feelings to each other, and they attempt to have sex, only for Charlie to panic and faint. We had up until this point assumed that Charlie's childhood trauma was the death of his favorite aunt on his birthday, but as he sleeps he has a very, very vivid dream about said aunt...
- The Skulduggery Pleasant series has a few. Most obviously, both of the most influential villains in the series have their true identities revealed this way:
- The very last line of Dark Days where Valkyrie remembers her True Name.
- In Last Stand of Dead Men, the last line of the chapter "The Man with the Golden Eyes", where the reader suddenly realises they've never been given a detailed description of Erskine Ravel's face until now.
Those golden eyes.
- In Endless Empress, two follow each other within two pages.
- The first:
"Truman Crapote is Portia's second in command. How do you think she's managed to stay hidden all this time? He's helping her. He has always helped her! Do you think she made a bomb by herself?"
- The second:
Carly shrugged nonchalantly, before dropping another surprise in her unsubtle way. "I expect he was here to meet with The Empress. Either that or The Empress ordered him to take a detour. Perhaps she wanted Truman to lure you away from this café, so you wouldn't complete your interview with me."
Molly couldn't believe it. If what Carly was saying was true then...
WAIT A MINUTE.
"Did you just say he was here to meet with The Empress?"
- Shadow Police: In London Falling when Quill asks his wife "Why do we have a nursery?".
- In The Girl from the Miracles District, when Robin is near death and Nikita, right after her bout of berserkerism, is close by, he utters something that basically invalidates his whole backstory as provided until nownote :
"I haven't felt that smell in two hundred years..."
- In Oath Of Swords: "I would!" - Tomanak, who suddenly appears to answer the rhetorical question of who would be foolish enough to accept the claim that Bahzell Bahnakson was a champion of Tomanak.
- Spells, Swords, & Stealth:
- At the end of the second book, when Cheri suggests Russell look into who created the SS&S modules he's grown concerned about after events in the first book, he sees that the manufacturer's name is Broken Bridge Publishing. Russell makes no comment about this name and the previously encounter in-game artifact called the Bridge but the narration in Split the Party notes he might've gone pale had he noticed a reference to it in his group's current quest.
- In the second book, Timuscor adopted a boar that had been summoned by a wizard ally but never disappeared when it was supposed to. Later, when Thistle refers Mr. Peppers while speaking to his god, Grumble is confused. He explains that he'd been keeping tabs on Thistle's party and never once saw a boar.
- The climax of the third book goes into full swing when Russell's group joins the battle in Rathgan's treasure hoard alongside the NPC protagonists and are introduced to Timuscor, Tim's character from the first book. Tim and Russell, the only two who were part of that first game, are in utter shock at the sight of that particular name in the module book.
- The last chapter of The Wild Ones: Moonlight Brigade drops a huge revelation to Kit and the readers.
Kit: I don't understand. This was my mother's.
Mr. Timinson: Is. It is your mother's.
- The Invisible Man: At first, it is not impossible for the reader to sympathize with Griffin, despite his being a Jerkass, because he seems driven to his worse actions by the suspicion and mistreatment of the rural provincials. Then he reveals his true personality with this line:
"I robbed the old man—robbed my father. The money was not his, and he shot himself."
- Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior has a big one:
O'Kais: BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!
- Our Chemical Hearts is a book that has a lot of twists and turns, but what is arguably the biggest wham comes at the end, with the line "Before you were born, Mom left Dad for, like, three months," spoken to the lead character Henry by his older sister Sadie. She then goes on to reveal that their parents' Sickeningly Sweethearts marriage, which has in turn given Henry an idealized view of love that has caused most of his relationships to fail, is actually a nearly two-decade-long sham they were putting on for his sake - they'd fallen out of love long ago, but were forced back together by an unexpected pregnancy (that is, Henry) and have been keeping up the charade ever since.
- Blindsight has one of the most terrifying wham lines in science fiction. At first, the characters believe they're in a particularly tricky First Contact until two characters figure out the truth. The story is constructed as a report from team observer Siri Keeton. After repeating several famous quotes from Earth's history, Siri asks us to imagine what these mean from the aliens' point of view:
Siri: There are no meaningful translations for these terms. They are needlessly recursive. They contain no usable intelligence, yet they are structured intelligently; there is no chance they could have arisen by chance. The only explanation is that something has coded nonsense in a way that poses as a useful message; only after wasting time and effort does the deception becomes apparent. The signal functions to consume the resources of a recipient for zero payoff and reduced fitness. The signal is a virus. An attack. And it's coming from right about there.
- Caitlín R. Kiernan's The Red Tree, a book replete with Mind Screw, about half of which consists of the reaction of two women living in a farmhouse to very disquieting, seemingly supernatural phenomena and their mutual slow Sanity Slippage, has this one at the very end. It does not look like much...until one pays attention to the dates given for each of Sarah's journal entries.
Sarah: "No one’s been in the attic since I was up there in June."
- At the end of Prey 14.8 of Worm, Bonesaw, who is impersonating Tattletale, drops an Out-of-Character Alert line that Skitter doesn't recognize because of the prosopagnosia fog.
Weaver: You know how the world ends.
Doctor Mother: Of course. We already saved it once.
- Another one (all four words of Interlude 27b): "You needed worthy opponents." Casts doubt on everything you thought you knew, or didn't know, about the Endbringers.