Follow TV Tropes


Arc Words

Go To
"Everywhere we go: two words. Following us."

Morden: What do you want?
Sebastian: Who are you?
— Repeated lines, Babylon 5

A word or phrase that appears throughout an Arc as a Motif.

Arc Words can be a way to hint at the Aesop or one of the themes of a show, often in the form of a question the characters must find an answer to. Alternately, they can be used for Foreshadowing.

They're often cryptic, and left unexplained until the Climax or Dénouement. This builds up tension and mystery, and hints that anyone using the words knows more than they're telling. This enigmatic variant is a typical element of a Mind Screw, and is sometimes used as a memetic way of advertising the show.

Arc Words need not have attention drawn explicitly to them; they often rely instead on eagle-eyed/sharp eared viewers noticing for themselves. In the "Bad Wolf" example from the first series of the revival of Doctor Who, the words appeared as, among other things, a helicopter's callsign, a reference in dialogue to "The Big Bad Wolf", a graffito, and even in other languages (the [inaccurate] German Schlechter Wolf, and the Welsh Blaidd Drwg, the latter tipping off the Doctor about it).

Look for these on the Internet Movie Database "memorable quotes" page for the show, with the label "repeated line".

The high-browed, academic term used for this is "Leitwort" from the German for "leading" or "guiding word".

When this is a number instead of a phrase, it's Arc Number, and Arc Symbol if it's an image. Compare with Dream Melody.

Arc Words are not the same thing as a Running Gag, a Character Catchphrase, or even just a phrase that ends up popping up a lot due to being used a lot in the plot. "May the Force be with you" are not arc words; it's an expression and a social nicety. Arc Words also must help define the tone of their entire work, or at least the plot arc where they appear.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • Every variation of the Partnership to End Addiction's famous "This Is Your Brain on Drugs" contains The Stinger "Any questions?"
    • The original ad simply says "This is drugs; this is your brain on drugs. Any questions?".
    • The version starring Rachael Leigh Cook has her list everything heroin can destroy in one's life (starting with the brain, then the body, family, friends, money, job, self-respect, and future), ending with the question.
    • One ad in 2016 had the same set up as the original, but followed it with some actual questions kids could have about drugs, imploring parents to be ready for anything their kids may ask about drugs.

  • The followers of the cult of the Nameless God (including the Silent One, a creature stalking the party) in Dark Dice usually reveal themselves with the phrase "Da haf wyyc Mah?" Infernal for "Do you seek Him?"
  • The most recurring term used in Kakos Industries, beyond the word "fuck", is "dark auras." The main character is prone to having on and off Aura Vision that allows him to see Evil energy resonating as clouds of darkness around people. Though he believes it is all a case of him struggling with delusions, it might just be heredity seeing as how his grandfather had a similar problem.
  • The Storage Papers: "Nothing is what it seems."
  • Multiple from Welcome to Night Vale:
    • "Perfect" and "imperfect" in general, but also; "No X is perfect. It becomes perfect when you learn to accept it for what it is."
    • "The Smiling God."
    • "A dark planet, lit by no sun." Appears to be some sort of death omen.
    • "There's a blinking light up on the mountain..."
    • "The unraveling of all things."
  • People exposed to or turning into the creatures from The White Vault often find themselves reciting a litany that begins "when you see it, it sees you too."

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The run-up to Chris Jericho's return to WWE in 2007 had the commentators and the wrestlers on-screen puzzling over mysterious interruptions to WWE's programs that prominently featured the phrases SAVE_US.222, SAVE_US.X29, and 8.2.11/SAVIOR_SELF. Most of the puzzlement happened on-screen; the fans largely figured it out fairly quickly (though there were a few alternate theories that stuck around until The Reveal, chief among them a new Hart Foundation stable led by Bret Hart's nephew Teddy), which reportedly drove WWE's creative team nuts.
  • In WWE NXT, "This is my moment!" for the feud between former #DIY tag team partners Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. It's a Meaningful Echo to their catchphrase as a tag team: "This is our moment!"
  • CHIKARA 2009: The buildup to the debut of Die Bruderschaft des Kreuzes began at Young Lions Cup VII Night III, August 16, 2009. There was a four-way tag team elimination match with Team F.I.S.T. (Icarus and Gran Akuma) vs. Chiva V/Halcon Guerrero vs. The Colony (Soldier Ant and Green Ant) vs. The Order of the Neo-Solar Temple (UltraMantis Black and Delirious). It came down to F.I.S.T. and the Temple. A masked man in white walked to the ring and placed a box in the Temple's corner, distracting Mantis enough for Akuma to pin him. After the match, Mantis opened the box and found it contained a message reading "A War Is Coming." At the Season Finale Three-Fisted Tales on November 22nd, the man started his promo by saying, "I told you A War Is Coming, and I'm tired of waiting."

  • The Big Finish Doctor Who audios used Arc Words for one season of their Eighth Doctor Adventures. The phrase itself was a nursery rhyme:
    Zagreus sits inside your head, Zagreus lives among the dead, Zagreus sees you in your bed and eats you when you're sleeping.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978): Life, The Universe And Everything.
  • Journey into Space: In The Red Planet, people who have been conditioned by the Martians often say "Orders must be obeyed without question at all times." The phrase is repeated in Episode 14 of The World in Peril in which Doc sardonically notes that he has heard it before.

  • Destroy the Godmodder:
    • The term "Operator" has popped up frequently. Three major characters have the name, and another term for godmodding, or at least a technique similar to it, was revealed to be called "operating." Ultimately the two surviving characters with that title (The evolved Virus and Slenderman) and the third's descendant (Build) united to ultimately aid in defeating the Godmodder once and for all during Act 5.
    • "Heh." The Godmodder picked that up after TT2000 unleashed a horrific April Fool's prank on him. It ultimately became a Character Tic for the Godmodder, but was also used as the foreshadowing of imminent doom (i.e. the summoning of Calamity).
  • .EXE ~ A Virus Containment Game: In .EXE, failure. Experiments #111387 and #024960 (Ikei and The Virus, respectively) are described as "RESULT: FAILURE." The phrase "failure" in .EXE 2 acts as the Admin's Berserk Button. Yui, the Progenitor, is executed with the Virus describing her as having failed it, after she labeled it as a failure when it was first created.
  • Nan Quest: "You are not the Anasazi." And "Thunder roars."

    Tabletop Games 

  • Almost every song in 35mm: A Musical Exhibition contains the phrase "Hold still; focus," in reference to the show's origins in photography.
  • Ainadamar: The opening ballad from Mariana Pineda is sung by the chorus several points throughout the opera
    "¡Ay, qué día tan triste en Granada, / que a las piedras hacía llorar / al ver que Marianita se muere / en cadalso por no declarar! / ¡...las campanas doblar y doblar!" Translation
  • In Anastasia, the Dowager Empress's description of Anastasia: "My favorite. Strong, not afraid of anything."
  • Beetlejuice
    • "Daylight come and me wanna go home" (a lyric from Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song") comes up a lot; among other things, it's both the first and last line in the show. "Home" also appears by itself, and the concept motivates all of the major characters to various degrees.
    • "Invisible" also recurs, referring to both how ghosts are literally invisible to normal people, and how Lydia feels due to everyone else trying to move on from her mother's death while she's still not done grieving.
  • "Nothing" and "something" in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
  • Come from Away has both "Wherever we are" and the answering "You are here"/ "I am here", popping up in multiple of the musical's songs as the Newfoundland residents try to comfort the "Plane People" stranded by the 9/11 attacks, and as the "Plane People" grapple with the fear and uncertainty of their situation.
  • Cross Road:
  • Dear Evan Hansen has the title phrase, as well as "When you're falling in a forest".
  • In Eurydice, Eurydice is fascinated by "interesting" things and people, and the lord of the underworld exploits this to tempt her away. The usage of the word frequently means trouble.
  • Hamilton has a number of words and phrases repeated throughout the show.
    • Many phrases used by and about Alexander are double meanings which foreshadow his fatal duel with Aaron Burr. He insists on "not throwing away my shot", as in opportunity. Other characters question why he works as though he's "running out of time." And more than once people say that he'll never be "satisfied" because he's so ambitious.
    • "Wait" for ambition. "Just you wait" is sung by Hamilton, while "wait for it" is Burr's credo.
    • "Enough" represents Eliza's contentment with life which changes as Hamilton's death finally spurns her into action to preserve his legacy.
    • Counting up to ten is directly associated with dueling—that it's sung by Alexander's son in a childhood exercise is significant.
    • Moving from one segment of the show to the next always has Burr singing "how does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore" in reference to Alexander.
    • "History has its eyes on you", first sung by Washington and repeated by others in reference to legacy.
  • Heaven By Storm (a stage show by The Umbilical Brothers) has the phrases "there can be only one" and "gimme 20 cents".
  • Into the Woods
    • Count the number of times they say "children", "giant(s)", "witch(es)", "wish(es)", "wolves", "spell(s)", "right", "wood(s) and "wrong" just in a generic context.
    • "I wish" is always sung the exact same way, with the same two notes.
    • The words "nice" and "good" — particularly in lines sung by Cinderella and Little Red.
  • Julius Caesar: "Beware the Ides of March..." Guess what happens to Caesar on that day.
  • Korczak's Children: A play the orphanage children are putting on comes up numerous times, with Doctor Korczak asking people what they think it means, always using the words "What is it about?"
  • Les Misérables
    • "Look down” first refers to oppression ("don't look 'em in the eye!"). It later becomes a plea for some charity to the underprivileged. Jean Valjean then says these words to Javert when he is trying to help Marius. Finally, the spirit says these words as a plea to God as Jean Valjean is dying.
    • "Night" refers to the darkness of the human soul and to death. Eponine is the only one who likes night because its the only time she can rest from her dreadful life to fantasize about Marius.
    • “Tomorrow" is the ultimate goal of a better life and future for all the characters.
  • Matilda: "(My mummy says I'm a) Miracle", "That's not right", "(A little bit) Naughty", "This little girl", and "Revolt(ing)".
  • Merrily We Roll Along gives us a strange example in that, since the show is told Back to Front, we first see the words' climax, and then we're shown where they came from and what they mean. Most notably:
    • "Here's to us. Who's like us?" "Damn few."
    • "Old friends."
    • And the whole title song, in a sense, considering it's repeated throughout the show between scenes. Particularly, "How does it happen?" and "Rolling along."
  • Eric Overmyer's On the Verge: "Vaya con dios!"
  • Oslo: Throughout the clandestine process of negotiating the Oslo Accords and the efforts to bring relief to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Norwegian diplomats Mona Juul and her husband, social scientist Terje Rød-Larsen, are forced to remind participants that the goal of the Accords is greater than any one man's contribution with the words "it's not about you."
    • Said by Terje to Yair Hirschfeld, when Uri Savir has taken over the role of chief delegate from Israel in the negotiation process. Yair and his colleague Ron Pundak both feel like Uri has minimized their contributions to the peace talks and demeaned them by kicking them out of the meetings, but Terje reminds them that the goal of the peace talks is much more important than any one man's ego.
    • Said by Mona to Terje when he's upset that they won't be recognized for their facilitation of the peace talks, or even be invited to the banquet after Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat sign the Accords. Mona tells him it's enough to stand in the background and watch it happen — again, the Accords are more important than any one man's ego.
  • Pippin: "Rivers belong where they can ramble. Eagles belong where they can fly."
  • Ragtime: References to ragtime music. Doubles as a Title Drop.
  • RENT: "I should tell you" for Mimi and Roger's relationship.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. The titular duo always answer with "We were sent for" every time someone asks why they are in Denmark. The phrase also symbolizes the very of idea of existence.
  • Seussical: "Alone in the universe."
  • "A big, bright beautiful world" in Shrek: The Musical.
  • "And the boy/girl falls from the sky" in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
  • Tanz Der Vampire: "Sei bereit!" ("Be prepared!")
  • The Secret Garden: "Come spirit, come charm." "Come to my garden."
  • In the absurdist play Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett, the following snippet of dialogue recurs, almost as a refrain (and to punctuate the various ways the two find to pass the time):
    Gogo: Let's go.
    Didi: We can't.
    Gogo: Why not?
    Didi: We're waiting for Godot.
    • Or:
      Gogo: Let's go.
      Didi: Yes, let's go.
      They do not move.
  • Wicked:
    • Replete with them. "I'm/We're/You're unlimited" stands out. "You deserve each other" is also used quite frequently. Also, "a celebration throughout Oz / That's all to do with (me/you)."
    • The words "wicked" and "good" themselves.


    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney
    • Any variation on "seven years ago" in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Lampshaded in game: "Seven years... That phrase sure likes to pop up, doesn't it..."
    • It pops up again in Dual Destinies, along with "The Dark Age of the Law" and "a third party".
    • Likewise, DL-6 or "fifteen years ago" in the original, or any mention of Edgeworth in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All.
      • Really, the phrase "X years ago"(or for more recent events, "X months ago") comes up so often in Ace Attorney that it's almost surprising to come across a case that doesn't use it. Almost every game has at least one plot-relevant event that is referred to in terms of how many years before the game it took place.
    • SL-9 takes this role in the first game's DS bonus case, Rise from the Ashes.
    • "The only time a lawyer can cry is when it's all over" from the third game.
    • "Proof of our friendship" from the third case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies.
    • The final case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice has "A dragon never yields!"
    • The DLC case of Spirit of Justice has references to time travel. Ellen claims that her pendant caused her to travel back in time from when she was nearly murdered on her wedding day to just before the reception. Sorin's anterograde amnesia causes him to travel back in time to just after the accident in which he lost his sister. The true culprit, Sprocket family butler Pierce Nichody is also described as a "time traveler" stuck in the past.
    • A series wide one is "The worst of times are when lawyers have to force their biggest smiles."
  • Aquarium: "Broken bonds can always be mended." is mentioned several times in reference to Aqua and Theo's complicated relationship.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Across the first and second games, "the biggest, most awful, most tragic event in all of human history".
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: "Despair", and also "hope".
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has "future" in addition to the other two.
    • ''Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony:
      • "Truth" and "Lies".
      • It also has the Gopher Project, and the Ultimate Hunt.
      • During chapter 5, it tries to pull a switch to the arc words of the older series. It feels forced though, and for good reason.
  • The Devil on G-String has "Oh come, lovely child! Oh come thou with me! For many a game will I play there with thee!", from The Erl-King by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!:
    • "Monika" and "Just Monika" get said as full sentences throughout the game. Their significance is revealed in the third act.
    • "Can you hear me?" is repeated several times throughout the game, usually whenever Monika speaks directly to the player.
  • Ever17: "This story is not an end yet. Because only you are in the infinity loop."
    • "Infinity loop" is pretty much the arc phrase of the whole Infinity series.
    • Remember11: "Where is Self"
  • Fate/stay night: "I am the bone of my sword/My body is made of swords."
    • To a lesser extent, "hill of swords".
  • Fleuret Blanc has "We are, each of us, a collection of mistakes." It's engraved above the statues in the foyer (and is thus seen at the end of every day), and characters will sometimes echo it. Metatextually, it ties into the Central Theme of materialism and possession; textually, it is implied to be the motto of the White family, who were the original owners of the Chateau.
  • Little Busters!: "Do you know the secret of this world?"
  • In Piofiore: Fated Memories, in Dante's route, "Key Maiden" comes up often and it seems to revolve around the protagonist Lili. It refers to how Lili was chosen by the church to act as part of a seal to guard the secret relic.
  • Slay the Princess:
    • Many things that the Narrator says at the beginning of the game, considering the "Groundhog Day" Loop.
    • "Everything goes dark, and you die."
    • Whenever a Vessel is claimed by the Shifting Mound and you inquire about it, "Do not mourn her."
  • In Shikkoku no Sharnoth several phrases and questions are repeated, including the most common 'Have you given up yet?' and 'And thus I deny tomorrow.'
  • Spoofed in Steins;Gate, wherein Okabe Rintarou constantly attributes unusual and serendipitous occurrences to the decisions of a mysterious entity called the Steins Gate. What is this Steins Gate? Just a nonsense term Okabe made up because it sounds cryptically meaningful. At the end of the series, the Steins Gate is revealed to be a world line that lies outside of any Attractor Fields and thus has no predestined outcome... and is only called Steins Gate because Okabe named it.
  • When They Cry:
    • Higurashi: When They Cry has "I'm sorry" and "USO DA!" ("THAT'S A LIE!"), both quite common phrases in themselves, but both clear indicators that things are about to get worse.
    • Umineko: When They Cry: "Without love, it cannot be seen." or "Without love, the truth cannot be seen." Also appears in different variations in both anime and game openings.
    • Ciconia: When They Cry: "All is in the name of guiding Humanity down the right path." which appears to be the motto of various Chirvalic Orders, particularly the one helmed by The Three Kings. Confusingly, it's unclear if everyone who uses the phrase actually agrees on what the "right path" even is.
    • The first two share the phrase "You who have read this. Please find out the truth. That's my only wish." It remains to be seen if Ciconia will include the phrase too.
  • The Zero Escape games all have "Seek a way out!", the words that always appear before starting a Room Escape Game puzzle and the overarching goal of the series to find a way to escape the setting and have everyone live.
    • Zero Time Dilemma also has the phrases "Time to decide!" and "Life is simply unfair".

    Web Animation 
  • Bravest Warriors: "Never doubt the Worm" for Season 2.
  • Broken Saints has a great many, most notably "What would you give to know the truth?" "This was not meant for me!" the LEAR/SPEC/SILO anagram, and anything printed on the Vagrant's board.
  • Diamond in the Rough (Touhou):
    • "Exisential threats must be eliminated by any means necessary."
    • Also, "I will be different."
  • Emesis Blue has two, doubling as a Shout-Out to The Jaunt: "It's eternity in there" and "Longer than you think."
  • Fallout Lore: The Storyteller: "But that is a story for another day..."
  • Two of note for The Goddess Of Everything Else:
  • Several Strong Bad Emails in a row in Homestar Runner featured the words "DNA evidence," which later turned out to lead to a cartoon of the same name, where the seemingly out-of-context utterances were explained. (The last email to feature these words only did this in an Easter Egg, which involved Homestar wearily saying these words after a long silence, as if he was obliged to continue the gag.)
  • In Llamas with Hats, "You must finish your work, Carl." That means Carl himself.
  • Madness Combat has every episode beginning with the words "Somewhere in Nevada..."
  • Red vs. Blue: "You ever wonder why we're here?"
    • "It's one of life's great mysteries, isn't it?"
      • Amusingly, what makes "You ever wonder why we're here?" such a masterful example of this trope is that it originally wasn't intended to be one. Throughout The Blood Gulch Chronicles, any instances of it were just supposed to be Call Backs to the first episode. In later seasons, it crops up a few more times as a simultaneous Running Gag and Arc Words, with Sarge even using it to great effect at the end of the Recollection trilogy as part of his Rousing Speech to the other Reds and Blues.
    • Played for Laughs with "Son of a bitch!", which is usually said by a character before they die, get seriously injured or almost die.
    • "Memory is the key," from Reconstruction onwards.
    • Starting with The Project Freelancer Saga, there's "Don't say goodbye. I hate goodbyes."
    • invoked The Chorus Trilogy uses the phrases "You just have to try" and "What do you fight for?" to great effect. Word of God has even stated that the latter phrase is ultimately "just a twist on" the series' overall Arc Words of "You ever wonder why we're here?".
    • Season 15 has "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction." They're the first words spoken in Episode 1, and they're spoken again when Dylan Andrews learns of the planet-destroying power the Blues and Reds' time machine-laser drill has.
    • As befitting a story arc based around time travel, both The Shisno Paradox and Singularity have "paradox."
  • RWBY:
    • There is a lot of use in both the show and songs of words that bring to mind the idea of light, especially light against darkness. There are Academy names like "Beacon" and "Signal", descriptions of humanity as a light against the darkness, and references to "sparks" or "burn" regarding the fire of humanity to fight for survival. By contrast, the main threat to humanity's existence (the Creatures of Grimm) are described in terms of darkness and shadow, and the villains take on these aspects as well. The only reference to light and darkness that is turned on its head is Vacuo's academy, Shade. Based in a desert, Shade is the symbol of hope and life against the unrelenting, destructive desert sun.
    • Volume 3 focuses on the concept of "fall". The intro song is called "When It Falls", The Heavy's name is Cinder Fall, the Volume itself takes place during the fall season, the song "I May Fall" plays during a battle, and the episode in which the villains really get the upper hand and the plot takes a noticeable turn towards darkness is called "Fall". Pyrrha is selected to become the next Fall Maiden and the volume ends with the fall of both Beacon and Pyrrha, at the hands of Cinder.
    • Volume 7 focuses on the two concepts of "trust" and "fear". The intro song is called "Trust Love" and the massive conflict for most of the volume revolves around characters struggling to know who they should trust and being afraid of making the wrong decisions; Ruby distrusts Ironwood because she fears how badly he'd react to the truth while Ruby's team-mates fear their decision to hide the truth from Ironwood is the wrong one and makes them like Ozpin, whose secrets they criticised in Volume 6. Ironwood and Ace-Ops place a lot of trust in Team RWBY and Oscar's potential as Ozpin's heir while also arguing with them over the concepts of loyalty. Meanwhile, everyone's afraid of how best to handle Mantle's situation, repeatedly questioning their own and others' decisions out fear that the wrong choices are being made. The final episode is called "The Enemy of Trust", closing off a volume where fear finally overwhelms the trust and alliances between the heroes, driving them to make choices that turn them against each other. The volume's closing song is called "Fear", with lyrics based on a speech Oscar remembers Ozpin once making about how people underestimate the power of fear and how much it can change a person who is acting under its influence.
    • Volume 8's arc word is "risk", beginning with the opening song focusing on the concept. Throughout the Volume, various heroes and villains struggle with the riskiness of their actions, with some becoming paralysed with fear of taking risks and others recklessly taking on too much risk. Ultimately, the heroes learn the lesson of both Volumes 7 and 8 to conclude "trust is a risk", whereupon they're able to use risk as a method of balancing trust and fear to find a solution to a seemingly impossible problem.
    • Volume 9 continuously asks the question, "What are you?" The fantastical residents of the Ever After define themselves by the roles and duties they play in life, to the point that they do not have names until they find their purpose. They always ask what Team RWBY are, forcing the girls to examine their lives up to that point and what they've achieved. Who and what are they at the end of the day? Ruby struggles with this answer the most, as the weight of her failures in volume 8 dog her every step.

    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall:
    • For its major villains: "He's coming for you!" for Mechakara, "All he sees, he conquers" for Lord Vyce, and "A piece of the world is missing" for The Entity/MissingNo.
    • The Ghost of the Machine story arc had "Are you afraid?" as its arc words.
    • The "Sleepwalker" had the arc words, "Sleepwalk through eternity."
  • Ben Drowned:
    • "You shouldn't have done that."
    • Also "You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?" and the title itself, "BEN DROWNED" (which appears as the names of the save files on the haunted cartridge).
  • In the sci-fi ARG Dad, the phrase "Obey the Server" appears numerous times, and takes on more of a sinister meaning as the story unfolds.
  • In Daisy Brown, "hateful thoughts" tends to come up in this series often, usually in reference to Daisy dealing with intense negative emotions. Alan even lampshades it when he takes over Daisy's twitter, as he responds to a fan's tweet using the word "hateful" with "huh, not the first time I've heard that word today."
  • Dream SMP:
    • In every war L'Manburg endured, there was always someone who would betray the nation. Whenever this happens, the traitor, along with doing a salute, utters the phrase "It was never meant to be". So far, this has happened three times — Eret after betraying the L'Manbergian Rebellion in the Final Control Room, Wilbur before blowing up L'Manberg in the Manburg-Pogtopia War, and Niki after burning the L'Mantree during the Doomsday War.
    • "Are we the bad guys?" Said by Wilbur Soot, being the central question as to whether or not L'Manburg can be saved from Schlatt's tyrannical grip.
    • "Me and you, versus Dream." Said by Tommy to anyone within his alliance, stemming from seeking to defeat Dream to reach his goals.
    • Throughout its spin-off Tales From the SMP, the Inbetween tells Karl "Don't stray from the path" and "Fear not. This is not a place to provoke harm, but a place to feel at ease" until he breaks free of its manipulation.
  • And in Everyman HYBRID, we have HABIT.
    The good doctor is not so lucky as to be dead, just dealing with some old habits.
  • Economy Watch: Coin, money, economy and eternally.
  • I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC has "Plan Q blows."
  • Marble Hornets has "The Ark", the importance of which still remains unknown.
    From the start, this was a game for us. Not anymore. I'm coming for you. And you will lead me... to the ark.
  • Nightwing: The Series: "It's who we's what we do."
  • From The Nostalgia Chick's Dark Nella Saga: "Embrace your inner fangirl". Squee over pretty boys and musicals is what manages to bring the old Nella back.
  • In The Nostalgia Critic's reboot, "illusion". This comes into play in Matrix Month, where Chester reveals Critic has "ruining" Reality Warper powers left over from the Plot Hole.
  • The educational YouTube series PBS Space Time ends the main script of almost every episode (excluding comment responses and talking about sponsors, which come after) with the word "spacetime". At the start, it was just a mundane self-reference, but at some point, it seems the writers started deliberately crafting the last sentence to put that word there, occasionally stretching a bit to achieve it. Parodied in the episode "Supersymmetric Particle Found?". They previously explain how supersymmetric particles are named for their ordinary counterparts by prefixing an "s" (e.g., "selectron", "squark", "stau neutrino", etc.). So this time, they end with "space-stime".
  • ProZD's King Dragon series has "You'll never save Prince Horace. I, [insert villain] will strike you down!", which is said several times by King Dragon and at least once by Ice Dragon.
  • The Town That Never Existed has "PRAY TO YOUR GODS".
  • In fellow Slenderman series Tribe Twelve, there has been quite a bit of unexplained recurring visual themes — beyond Slendy himself, of course. And recently, with the introduction of The Order, there are a great number of enigmatic phrases being tossed out in a shockingly direct manner.
    Is he what they say in the ancient texts? Is he truly a god? Have you ever seen someone pass through to the Fourth World? Have you ever seen someone pass on in glorious exhaltation?
  • From Wormtooth Nation: "The sky is infinite."
  • WTFIWWY: Combined with A Rare Sentence, many of the arch words and phrases have something to do with recurring issues that pop up in their news of the weird and dumb criminal stories. Such as:
    • Poop is not a plan
    • Guns are not a remote control for life
    • 911 is not customer service
    • Don't record your crimes
    • No one wants to see your dick
    • The old drugs still work
    • Your butt is not a bag of holding

    Real Life 
  • Illusionists and mentalists like Derren Brown will often use subconscious arc words in their illusions; in one example, Brown uses phony news reports, confidence-building mental trickery and conveniently-placed advertisements to convince his subject to do the unthinkable and rob an armored car (albiet a phony armored car, staffed with actors).

"Will Ruin Your Life." What does that mean?


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Arc Word


"Ohana Means Family"

Ohana meaning family, is a common used word and theme throughout the Lilo & Stitch franchise. In it's debut film, it's first said by Lilo when Nani attempts to throwaway Stitch saying: "Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten." She says it again later when Stitch decides to leave, showing that she accepts it but will miss him. And then finally by Stitch during the climax showing his love and loyalty towards Lilo and his newfound family.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArcWords

Media sources: