[[caption-width-right:346:The standard reaction. [[note]]Take a look at [[http://www.vgcats.com/comics/?strip_id=207 this strip]] to see [[RealityEnsues WHY]] they have that reaction.[[/note]]]]
* '''Ensure the change is not easily undone.''' This can't be something that gets reset quickly, or else the impact of the change is dulled. For instance, a CharacterDeath is sometimes a big deal, but not always. In a series where DeathIsCheap, it may just be a way to get the character out of the story for a while or into some sort of B-plot in the afterlife. The audience is thus assured that the character is out of focus at the moment, but will come back sooner or later. However, if the series has made it clear that [[AllDeathsFinal there's no coming back from the dead in this universe, no matter what]], a named character dying is a really big change.
* '''Cause a shift among the characters within the series.''' What may be heart-rending in one series could be mundane in another. What really makes an event a Wham Episode is how the characters react to this change. If they react like it's a big deal and have to apply significant effort to adapt to this change, the episode's likelihood of being a Wham Episode significantly increases. For instance: a character gets superpowers and joins the team. If this is a OnceAnEpisode common occurrence, the character gets their powers the same episode that they're introduced, or the series has established that it's relatively easy to get these powers, it's probably not a Wham Episode since the characters will not be very surprised to see it. Meanwhile, if a named BadassNormal character has taken three seasons to get superpowers, [[EleventhHourRanger finally gets them right when the team needs it most]], and doesn't get these powers taken away or removed by the episode's conclusion, it's probably a Wham Episode if the characters in-series act like this is a big deal.
The term was coined by Creator/JMichaelStraczynski, creator of ''Series/BabylonFive'', which is very liberally sprinkled with them.
[[TropesAreTools It's not always done well, of course.]] Particularly poorly-done wham episodes almost invariably result in a ShockingSwerve.
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