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Drama Bomb

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"Oh my glob, you guys! DUH-RAMA BOMB!"
Lumpy Space Princess, Adventure Time

The Drama Bomb is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. In the world of fiction, among the marching armies of tropes and conquering generals, it is a weapon of power scarcely imagined.

When a story has been coasting along quite well and nothing really strange is happening, beware. This is exactly the kind of environment writers can't stand. After all, a story without conflict is dull, and no-one likes a dull story, right? So, just when you think everything has settled, they pull out the best weapon they can bring to bear on your sensibilities: a sudden explosive moment of drama. The happy couple breaks up. A character dies and doesn't get better. Somebody crosses the Moral Event Horizon. A well done authorial blitzkrieg attack will leave you stunned, shocked, yet wanting for more.

That is the raison d'être of the Drama Bomb. If successful, the event portrayed creates instant and justified character development and ties the audience even closer to their fate. The more it is used, however, the less powerful it becomes. After all, if an orphan gets slaughtered in every episode of your TV serial, people aren't going to look up from what they're doing if it happens again. The Drama Bomb is defined by its power, and if it loses this, it becomes a regular trope. As such, its usage is mostly reserved to comedy or other lighthearted media- but an expertly used drama bomb can leave a crater even when Characters Dropping Like Flies is the status quo.

Similar to Very Special Episode, except the consequences carry and a lesson needn't be learned. Can be the first sign of Cerebus Syndrome, but not always. Death By Newberry Medal is a common cause in children's literature.

A secondary meaning of the term references a subject literally guaranteed to start a Flame War or one with a very high potential of doing so (e.g. "what do you think about abortion?").

Also see: Wham Episode, Ass Pull, Killed Off for Real, and Drama Bomb Finale.

Warning: High chance of spoilers.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Episode 103 of Chi's Sweet Home, in which Blackie moves away, leaving Chi in tears.
  • A weird (possibly accidental) one came later in the manga of Ranma ˝: the series is generally full of Ineffectual Death Threats, and even in the more serious bits we never see anyone die. Even childhood abuse was largely played as a form of Comedic Sociopathy. Not so with Ryu Kumon's backstory: his father used a Dangerous Forbidden Technique Genma taught him that made his house fall on top of him, with his last words to find the other technique, leaving the kid orphaned and homeless at the age of six. Goddamn was that depressing.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya! provides examples of both the use and overuse of the Drama Bomb. A fairly early episode has Kirby get a robo-puppy that becomes something of a little brother to him. The episode ends with the puppy sacrificing itself to save Kirby. The overuse comes when they do this two additional times. By the third self-sacrifice, you can't help thinking "Oh, not again."
  • Toradora! is hit with one halfway through the series (starting with Yuusaku's breakdown and ending with Taiga realizing she loves Ryuuji). It's never quite the same again.
  • Kekkaishi: after Gen dies in combat, the other characters hold a funeral for him. It's more of a Drama Nuke since Gen's closest acquaintances remember him, Masamori gives Gen's grieving sister unanswered letters, and Yoshimori goes through a temporary Heroic BSoD over Gen's passing. However, for a few subsequent episodes, the aftermath left by said Drama Nuke is noticeable, but some funny moments pop up time after time.
  • The 20th Episode of Fresh Pretty Cure! is all about this. The tone was already bleak, it being about how the strain of being Pretty Cure and the dance lessons took a toll on Love, Miki and Inori physically (and to an extent psychologically) but it all reaches its peak when they collapse after the battle with the Nakisakebe and on the way to the dance lessons with Miyuki. Bonus Points if you like Eas. She has only 2 uses of the Pyramid Card, which will eventually kill her if she runs out and refuses Wester's and Souler's offer to take her place...
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 12. It's been its own vulgar, quirky self for the first half, then everything goes to hell. Literally.
  • Penguindrum gets hit with one halfway through the series (Episode 12): Himari dies, seemingly permanently. The Takakura parents are revealed to have been responsible for the 1995 terrorist attacks. And the penguin hat stops working. Things go downhill from there.
  • Code Geass is full of cluster bombs, that for added effect, accompany Hope Spots in a couple cases, most notably Lelouch accidentally geassing Euphemia, and Shirley having her memories restored.
  • Episode 7 of the anime adaptation of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! starts off as your normal Beach Episode, but turns into this. Namely, it explained why Rikka behaves that way, in a very Tear Jerk-ing manner.
  • The Whitebeard War saga is one big one in One Piece. First off, the Straw Hat Pirates are separated thanks to Bartholomew Kuma, then Luffy joins the Marineford war to save Ace from being executed. Just when it looks like he succeeds and all will be well Admiral Akainu successfully kills Ace, sending Luffy into shock. Then, the Blackbeard Pirates arrive with new recruits and murder Whitebeard, but not before Whitebeard announces that the One Piece is real, thus causing piracy to skyrocket. Then, when Luffy recovers, he begins to question his abilities for the first time and believes he is too weak to become the Pirate King. Upon regaining his spirit, instead of reuniting with his crew and setting off for the New World, he sends word that they'll meet up in two years to give them time to prepare. And that's how the first half of the manga ends!
  • This happens after the first two episodes of Attack on Titan. Military training aside, things are relatively calm after the Time Skip following the Titan's attack on Shiganshina, and the next two episodes are spent introducing the characters, establishing just how desperate their situation is, and giving further development to the overall setting. Near the end of the fourth episode, Eren and his teammates have graduated and are anxiously discussing their new positions over stolen food. And then the Colossal Titan shows up.
  • Dragon Ball has this occur many times:
    • Arguably the first is when Goku accidentally turns into an Oozaru at the end of the Pilaf Arc, which is not at all played for comedy and reveals the cause of his beloved grandfather's death.
    • While the Red Ribbon Army are a formidable foe, Blue especially, the coming of Mercenary Tao has him kill Bora in front of his young son for no reason other than he was in the way. It's the first time Goku is infuriated and he spends the rest of the arc reverting this tragedy.
    • So Goku has just lost to brutal but recently-reformed Tenshinhan but are on friendly terms, but realizes he forgot his Four Star Ball and Nyoi-bo. Krillin offers to go get it, and in a shocking turn is killed off entirely off-screen by a random mook of Piccolo Daimao, a literal embodiment of evil who more than lives up to the name. This kick-starts an arc that is filled with much more drama and anguish than any prior (and some after), where previous storylines were more happy-go-lucky that never had the fate of the planet truly on the line.
    • Frieza is seemingly defeated after getting hit by a moon size Spirit Bomb and the heroes are celebrating their bittersweet victory. Then, Frieza returns, shoots Piccolo, kills Krillin, and pushes Goku over the edge to become a Super Saiyan.
    • Gohan seemingly has Cell truly beat after he forced him to spit out Android 18, reverting back to his much weaker semi-perfect form. Instead of being killed, Cell decides to self-destruct and take the Earth with him. Goku sacrifices his life so Cell only kills a few people instead of the entire planet. Before the heroes can get over their shock at Goku's death, Cell returns stronger than ever and murders Trunks.
    • When Super Buu returns after he seemingly self-destructed, everyone is baffled since he didn't get any stronger and is still outmatched against Gohan. He challenges Gotenks to a fight instead of Gohan, who obliges. Buu then absorbs Gotenks and Piccolo, becoming stronger than ever.
    • After Vegeta forces Buu to revert back to his original form, things seem fine since this version of Buu doesn't appear to be as strong as his other forms. Then Buu blows up the Earth, killing Gohan, Goten, Trunks, and Piccolo, and swiftly goes on a planet-destroying rampage.
  • Happy Happy Clover starts becoming more serious and filled with drama in the fifth volume which is also the final entry of the series.
  • Pretty much a Once a Season thing for the Love Live! franchise, usually denoted by Gray Rain of Depression.
    • In School Idol Project, Kotori is approached with an offer to study fashion design overseas, which would force her to leave μ's. At the same time, Honoka starts excessively overworking herself during training and subsequently falls ill to the point where she collapses during a live performance, causing Kotori to nearly accept the offer until Honoka begs her not to leave.
    • In Love Live! Sunshine!!, Chika forces Dia and Mari to sit down and disclose the truth behind Kanan's failure to perform two years ago, which results in Mari confronting Kanan over her failure to tell her anything about why she seemingly abandoned her friends.
    • In the Love Live! School idol festival ALL STARS game, the failure of the School Idol Club to gather enough volunteers for the School Idol Festival causes the protagonist to become uncharacteristically distant and insensitive due to her mounting stress and guilt combined with her increasing obsession with the Festival, which results in a falling out with Ayumu that causes her to leave the club.

    Fan Works 
  • In Jessica, Cameron's mother dies unexpectedly from cancer for the first real conflict in the story. Predictably, this causes a slew of mental health issues for both Cameron and his brother.
  • In Pokémon Strangled Red, all seems well in the hacked game after Steven defeats the Elite Four with the help of his overpowered Charizard, Miki. Then, Miki dies in a trading accident, leaving Steven too depressed to continue.
  • In the Super Smash Bros. fanfiction Smash Generation, it seemed as if everything was going smoothly for the heroes, and then Toon Link gets almost eaten by Molgera, and nearly dies.
  • Total Drama:
    • In The Legend of Total Drama Island, Katie and Sadie are almost exclusively comic relief through the first several chapters. Then, during the camping challenge, instead of a reimagined version of the childish quarrel they had in canon after getting lost, they are caught in a nighttime storm without adequate shelter or clothing and develop severe hypothermia, facing a very real possibility of decidedly uncomic deaths.
    • In Total Drama Comeback, Harold suffers a massive allergic reaction when the eating contest is sabotaged, which exposes the alliance that had controlled most of the eliminations up to that point.
    • In Total Drama Action Do Over, it comes to light that Heather had locked away Vanessa and assumed her identity to continue on the show, becoming the season's new Big Bad.
  • Chapter 39 of Fallout: Equestria. The heroes have just eliminated two major threats at once, survived (if just barely), and are regrouping with smiles on their faces. Things are looking up, right? A page later, one of them has been decapitated.
  • Chapter 10 of No Rest for the Wicked (SerBlack) is a pretty big one. First off, Spyro's new friend Caden is killed alongside hundreds of other dragons in the battle against the humans. Then Spyro manages to drive the humans away by accidentally unleashing his Superpowered Evil Side, only for it to nearly completely take over him even when Cynder tries to get through to him. Then, the biggest shocker comes during the aftermath when Galiron blames the humans' attack on Cynder for what she did to them, to which Spyro defends her, only for Galiron to reveal that among Cynder's victims during her time when she was evil were Spyro's biological parents, shocking Spyro to the point that he actually smacks Cynder when she tries to explain she didn't know and runs off.
  • Chapter 34 of A Different Lesson has one of these as well. Despite the death of Mantis and the discovery of what happened to Chang and his family, things mostly seem to be getting better or heading toward resolution, with Vachir dead, Monkey freed of Demonic Possession, Tai Lung having acquitted himself well in battle to the point it seems he'll be finally forgiven and accepted back in the Valley, and he and Tigress drawing closer and closer until she finally admits she loves him. There's still the Wu Sisters and the Big Bad to deal with, but the former have been blunted by the Room Full of Crazy, Jia's feelings for Tai Lung, and the knowledge they have of Po's parentage, while the latter has been severely weakened by the events at Chorh-Gom. Surely things can be tidied up and dealt with relatively painlessly now, right? Wrong! Zhuang gets killed and Tai Lung framed for it; Chao corrupts the Pool of Sacred Tears so as to possess all the townsfolk; Ping is kidnapped and taken to Wu Dan to force Po to sit out the coming battles; and Tai Lung himself gets arrested to be put on trial and forced into a Sadistic Choice designed to let Chao win no matter what happens.
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, there's a doozy. John has just rescued Ringo and himself from a roomful of nasty psionics, and they're currently lying on their “default” mesa, with John laughing hysterically at his triumph. But Ringo is still under the psionics' mental influence and demands to be taken back. When John tries to snap him out of it, Ringo throws him over the side of the mesa. While John is still wearing his cloak and, hence, his wings are bound. Which does snap Ringo out of it. This little event causes a seismic shift in the way the four deal with the Power Groups from then on.
  • Three Guys Go to a Bar(and then they Beat You With It) is mostly a darkly humorous story about Bakugou, Tokoyami and Shinsou getting their revenge after being forced to take on the role of villains for that year's final exams. Things take a sharp turn, however, when the first two discover that their partner's mother is an Abusive Parent, and Katsuki takes matters into his own hands, immediately exposing what's been happening to their teacher... and several of their classmates. This leads to Hitoshi effectively being orphaned, as his mother is stripped of custody and his father is currently in prison due to abusing his Mind Control Quirk.

  • The martial arts movie House of Flying Daggers does pretty well with its drama and plot for the most part...but just try to keep up with the last quarter of the movie. The two government agents find the rebels, and it is revealed that one of the agents is actually working for the rebels and in love with the lady protagonist, also an agent of the Flying Daggers. But it turns out the leader of the Flying Daggers is NOT the leader of the Flying Daggers, our lady isn't blind, and is in love with the agent still pro-government and...
  • In Dead Poets Society, everything looks like it's worked itself out, at least to some extent. Then Neil shoots himself.
  • The inspirational film Courageous, One of the dads was caught stealing drugs! And that was after the pretty awesome moment where one of the dads gets a promotion for passing a Secret Test of Character.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier serves this role for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It results in the dismantling of SHIELD, a pair of colossal revelations about SHIELD's true nature and the fate of Howard Stark, and very nearly uprooted then-nascent Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., serving as a drama bomb for that series as well.

  • The illness of Red's daughter in Roadside Picnic, forcing him to become even more of a bastard.
  • A Storm of Swords: The second half is just one big drama bomb. Balon Greyjoy dies. The Red Wedding wipes out Robb Stark and Catelyn Stark. Davos frees Edric Storm and informs Stannis of what's happening on the Wall. Joffrey gets poisoned by Olenna Tyrell and Littlefinger. Tyrion is blamed for this murder. Sansa is taken along with Littlefinger to the Vale. Meanwhile, the wildlings attack Castle Black, leading to Ygritte being killed. The wildlings from Beyond the Wall then lay siege to the Wall, leading to a large-scale battle. In the midst of this, Jon Snow is accused of being a traitor and is sent to parley with Mance Rayder, only to be interrupted by Stannis winning the battle for them. Meanwhile, Oberyn Martell volunteers to be Tyrion's champion to avoid the kangaroo court of Cersei Lannister, in exchange for the identity of Elia Martell's murderer. Tyrion claims that it is Gregor Clegane, who also happens to be Cersei's champion. They battle only for Oberyn to be killed, which further sparks the animosity between the Lannisters and Martells. This results in Tyrion fleeing Westeros, but not before killing Tywin and Shae. Arya finally gets her revenge on Polliver, but it leads to The Hound's death. She finally gets passage to Braavos though. Meanwhile, Sam rigs the election at the Wall, making Jon Snow the new Lord Commander. Littlefinger weds Lysa Arryn, steals a kiss from Sansa, who gets accused of being the one who initiated the kiss in the first place by Lysa. She is threatened to be pushed out the Moon Door, only for Littlefinger to intervene. Lysa admits that she poisoned Jon Arryn under Littlefinger's orders, thus inadvertently causing the war. Littlefinger then pushes her out of the window. Finally, Merrett Frey goes to a rendezvous point to ransom one of his relatives, only to find that he is being hanged by none other than the reincarnated corpse of Catelyn Stark.
  • In the Skulduggery Pleasant novel Dark Days. The magical world has been saved, the villian stopped and the Gaelic Football goes on. Then Bang: the second Desolation Engine goes off and the Sanctuary is destroyed. By a seemingly one-shot side character, no less.
  • Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan had risen about as far in the US Administration as he could in Debt of Honor: part of the sell for making him Vice President was that once his term was done, he'd never be able to work for the US Government again. And then a lunatic crashed a 747 into Congress. Meet President Ryan.
  • In Jane Eyre, first we were surprised by Rochester proposing marriage to Jane - though we did sort of see it coming. But when Rochester's insane but very alive first wife turns up in the attic, Jane is so shaken by the incident that the only thing she can do is leave.
  • Literal in The Stand, in the form of the bomb Harold and Nadine set off inside the house where the Free Zone committee is meeting, killing several people including a main character and injuring several more. King specifically said he used this tactic because it was getting too dull.
  • The ending of part 2 of The Overstory, in which five of the protagonists set a fire in a construction area, which then goes horribly wrong and leads to one of them being killed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Back in 1996, General Hospital had a very memorable drama bomb montage called Clink!Boom which juxtaposes a mobster's ex-girlfriend toasting her new husband while his current pregnant girlfriend turned the key in the ignition of their car and it exploded. Ever since, the show has been trying to top itself with mob violence, even going so far as to make the month of February Sweeps a 16 hour hostage crisis told in the same style as 24. Nowadays, GH fans are used to seeing at least a dozen mob shootouts and one or two legacy characters dying violent deaths a year.
  • One of Scrubs's biggest Drama Bombs were the episodes "My Lunch" and "My Fallen Idol". Interestingly, the Drama Bombs rarely affect the whole cast; for example, while in "My Lunch" Dr. Cox and JD are both profoundly affected by the deaths, Carla, Turk, and Elliot are busy sorting out The Todd's sexuality, apparently oblivious to the other goings on.
  • Michael's killing of Ana-Lucia and Libby in Lost season 2.
    • Even more so, the season finales are well-known for being some of the biggest drama bombs in television history:
      • Season 1: The Others aren't hunting down Claire's baby. They're hunting down Walt. The raftgoers contact a ship only to discover that it's a ship full of Others, who take Walt, shoot Sawyer, and destroy the raft.
      • Season 2: Locke tests to see if the hatch's countdown actually does anything. It turns out it does, and ends up destroying the hatch, trapping Locke, Eko, and Desmond inside. Also, Jack, Kate, and Sawyer get trapped by the Others, and Penny discovers the island.
      • Season 3: Easily the biggest Drama Bomb in the entire series. The Others' attempted raid ultimately fails, resulting in a large amount of their deaths. Charlie unjams the signal and contacts Penny, only to learn that she didn't send Naomi. Charlie sacrifices himself to save Desmond, but renders him unable to reconnect with Penny. Locke wakes up and kills Naomi, firmly turning to the side of the Others. Despite all that's happened this episode, Jack manages to send a distress call that actually gets answered. A flashforward shows that at least Jack and Kate managed to escape, but Jack's life has been a complete wreck since then, and he wants to return to the island.
      • Season 4: The Oceanic Six escape the island, but flash-forwards show them driven to return. Sawyer stays on the island so that his friends can escape. Desmond reunites with Penny. The man in the coffin turns out to be Locke. Ben moves the island far away at the cost of not being able to return. Locke becomes the leader of the Others. The freighter explodes with Michael and presumably Jin on it.
      • Season 5: Back in the 70s, the islanders reunite and try to detonate the hydrogen bomb and destroy the island by throwing it into the island's pocket. However, this ends up causing the Incident, killing numerous Dharma employees. Juliet breaks up with Sawyer and is dragged into the island's pocket during the events of the titular Incident. Meanwhile, in present day, we finally meet Jacob. The survivors of the most recent flight reveal that Locke is still dead, and that "Locke" is actually the Man In Black, Jacob's rival who just convinced Ben to kill Jacob. But there's a chance that none of this could even matter since Juliet not only survived falling into the island's pocket but managed to detonate the hydrogen bomb. It's not shown whether or not it was effective, but if it was, it would mean that all of the events of the last five seasons will have never happened.
  • Happened a few times in M*A*S*H. The best example is in the Season 3 finale. For the most part, the episode is a celebration for Henry's discharge. The bomb comes in the last thirty seconds, when Radar comes into the OR with the news Henry had died in a plane crash. Retirony, much?
  • The first two seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise were full of Archer and the gang staring at pretty comets, bitching about Vulcans, and saying 'Gee Whiz' a lot. And then came the Xindi...
  • L.A. Law made it onto a list of great TV moments purely through one of these. Snarky Rosalind had been tormenting the rest of the cast all season—then she took a wrong step and fell down an elevator shaft.
  • The bus crash in the opening episode of the second season of Veronica Mars.
  • Doctor Who season openers are usually pretty laid back, fun-romps which exist to introduce new characters (if there are any). This was blow out of the water with the opening episode to Season 6, "The Impossible Astronaut" has the Doctor begin to regenerate, and then die. The finale showed it was only supposed to look like that, but the Doctor's companions didn't know this until the same time as the audience.
  • JAG: The death of Loren Singer in Season 8. Enter NCIS.
  • Breaking Bad: The third-to-last episode, "Ozymandias". Dear. Lord. It sees the consequence of just about every one of Walt's actions and sins in the entire series. It sees his drug empire completely collapse, his brother-in-law murdered by neo-Nazi hitmen he had hired to kill someone else, Jesse taken hostage and tortured (after Walt tells him he saw and let his girlfriend die) by the neo-Nazis and Made a Slave for them, Walt's family completely destroyed and their lives ruined. Walt runs away, kidnapping his baby daughter, until he finally comes to the realization that he was the one responsible for the family's destruction. Before returning Holly he makes a phone call to his wife, while the police are with her, acting as an abusive husband to absolve her from their crimes, and finally using Saul's eraser man to start a new identity. Feel happy? Even in a final season of nothing but Wham Episode after Wham Episode, it stands out.
  • The Shield: The penultimate episode of the final season, "Possible Kill Screen", ends with Vic Mackey confessing all his crimes for full immunity on said crimes. In doing this, he leaves Ronnie (his last loyal teammate) hung out to dry. This is such a shock to the dynamic of the show that there's next to nowhere to go afterward (even though the Grand Finale was no slouch).
  • Doc Martin: When Joan is Killed Off for Real at the start of Season 5.
  • Super Store ended its second season on a surprisingly intense note. It starts out fairly normal with Glenn trying to figure out who to fire and Jonah trying to make amends with Amy after accidentally calling her sexy. Glenn finally ends up firing six of his workers, including Marcus and Justine, only for a tornado to appear and start destroying Cloud 9. In all of the chaos, Amy and Jonah kiss, Mateo desperately calls Jeff, Sandra leaves Carol to die, and Brett is assumed to be dead. Once the tornado ends, the workers realize that Cloud 9 has been completely destroyed.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Daughter for Dessert, after the protagonist and Amanda have successfully relaunched their diner and decided to act of their mutual feelings for each other, Cecilia shows up, throwing a wrench into their relationship.
  • After the protagonist of Double Homework has his summer school class firmly on his side, even with his video game addiction released publicly, it looks like Dennis has no more leverage on him. Then, Dennis reveals that he has proof that he and Tamara caused the deadly avalanche on Barbarossa.
  • In Melody, Bethany makes an unannounced appearance at the protagonist's new home after he skipped town just to get away from her. Just when he has finished his tutoring gig with Melody, and their life courses together seem sure, Bethany shows up at his apartment, knocks on his door, and knocks on Becca’s instead when she realizes that he's not home. Then, she comes back the next evening after Melody has just left, and when Melody returns to retrieve her cell phone, Bethany introduces herself as his fiancée. This makes both Melody and Becca (on her romantic path) think twice about whether they want the protagonist in their lives. And for Bethany's part, she's hell-bent on getting the protagonist to come back to her.

    Web Comics 
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del with Lilah's miscarriage. A massive Drama Bomb for a previously light-hearted comic, and infamously polarising: While it did result in Ethan getting some much-needed Character Development, many readers were unhappy with the perceived Bait-and-Switch from a promising storyline about him having to grow up in a hurry now that he had someone besides himself to be responsible for.
  • Dave Willis loves this trope. To death. Especially jarring considering that he keeps his comedic characters still somewhat-comedic (though never the same) as he drops bomb after bomb after bomb on them. He seems to at least be aware of it if his Lampshade Hanging in the Story Arc about "Pulling the Drama Tag" in Shortpacked! is any indication.
  • Many drama bombs occur at the end of issue 9 in the webcomic YU+ME: dream , the biggest of which was that everything up until that point was a dream. Thankfully that is not the end of the series or there would have been some very pissed off fans.
  • Mob Ties: the first bomb begins at the end of Issue 2, but the author starts a heavy bombardment starting at Issue 7. Once Issue 14 rolls around, though, the HSQ increases.
  • Spinnerette gives us a yuritastic one when it is revealed that Spinny likes Mecha Maid back—and then the chapter ends, leaving the readers hanging for weeks. In fact, it was even invoked in the author commentary.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: In Chapter 12, the crew completes the last mission assigned to them and now just need to reach their pick up spot. The mixed ghost and troll horde established to be following them earlier catches up with them at the end of the chapter. They manage to defeat the Zerg Rush thanks to Reynir's latest rune turning out to be good for something just a few hours earlier and Onni putting himself into a Power-Strain Blackout to send them a powerful summon long-distance. Then the sight of Tuuri clutching a bloody shoulder that may very well be infected with the Rash given the origin of the wound, combined with the fact that Onni's current state got nicknamed "magic coma" for a reason, gives plenty for the readers to worry about for the following part of the story. That battle also promotes Reynir's magic practice to something that can be put in good use. On top of everything else, the two Flat-Earth Atheist members of the crew both got a good look at Onni's summon, so no more denying that magic exists for them.

    Web Original 
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Act three. Everything has pretty well ironed out at the end—Captain Hammer is defeated, the Doctor is brushing himself off, and all in all things could've gone much worse... And then the camera pans to Penny with a piece of shrapnel in her chest.
  • In DSBT InsaniT, one is dropped in 'The Camping Webisode' when Killer Monster tells Koden what happened to him after Koden lost him.
    • Played for laughs in episode 7 where Perry and Snake have a very dramatic exchange when Perry gets knocked out of his bumper car, forcing Snake to drive it solo.
      Seth: That was...dramatic.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender had a few well-spaced ones, but of particular note was the cluster Drama Bomb towards the end of Season 2, where an episode ends with Sokka blithely mentioning how smoothly things have been going, followed by Toph getting captured by Xin Fu and Master Wu, Long Feng being revealed to still control the Dai Li, and instead of Suki and the Kyoshi Warriors coming to the aid of Ba Sing Se, it's actually Azula and friends in disguise.
    • To recap: The Earth Kingdom city of Ba Sing Se, a city that the Fire Nation had been trying to breach for the better part of a hundred years, fell in two days. The EK army was immobilized after its generals were captured, and the Earth King was forced to retreat. Not only that, but Zuko ended up betraying his uncle, the only man who had ever been a real father to him, in order to get his birth father's approval. And Aang got killed by Azula. All in the space of about forty minutes. It remains the single greatest Wham Episode of the series.
  • South Park:
    • The show has taken a few occasions to break from its irreverence and do this. Most important was the end of Season 5's 'Kenny Dies' episode as the Killed Off for Real plot is played disturbingly straight with Kyle and particularly Stan acting very much like kids. The kids spend much of season 6 making references to wanting Kenny back.
    • Season 15 spent the first half being typically silly until the episode "You're Getting Old" as Stan goes through a fall out with friends and major changes in his life and unlike previous episodes with a breakup, it doesn't get better by the end.
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers has a few serious jaw-droppers; "Psychocrypt" and "Scarecrow." Both ran on tanks full of Nightmare Fuel, The Bad Guy Wins on both (The Rangers' "victory" is merely getting out with their skins and souls intact), and the Character Development quotient was through the goddamn roof. The two episodes are considered jewels in the series crown. Two more jewels are the Supertrooper duology. Massive Character Development for Gooseman, including one of the most gut-wrenching I Want My Beloved to Be Happy scenes ever done.
  • Adventure Time's Lumpy Space Princess name-drops the trope, complete with Valley Girl gestures and inflection, during Marcelline's confrontation with her father: "Oh my glob, you guys — drama bomb!"
    • Jake actually said "Drama Bomb" while Finn, Jake and Ice King watched a secret tape of the Ice King's dramatic past.
    • In another episode, "What Was Missing", the aforementioned Marceline sings a song to Princess Bubblegum about how she resents that she's malicious towards her for a reason she can't remember. (The two have barely interacted in the show up to that point.) The song practically comes out of nowhere, and Princess Bubblegum is reasonably surprised.
    • Burning Low contains huge drama bombs, least of which is Finn admitting having loved PB and becoming very, very angry at her for (he thinks) leading him on just when he's getting over her and getting a proper relationship with flame princess.
    • Speaking of Flame Princess, "Frost and Fire" drops a bomb when she dumps Finn for manipulating her and Ice King into doing battle.
  • Danny Phantom's "The Ultimate Enemy" was jawdropping, not least for its awesomeness, abruptness, as well as its sudden venture into dark humour. Oh yes, and the brutal murders, so many brutal murders.
  • Believe it or not, Family Guy in "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q.", a Darker and Edgier Very Special Episode where Domestic Abuse is Played for Drama.
    • They did it again in "Life of Brian", where Brian was temporarily killed off.
  • Steven Universe episode "A Single Pale Rose" completely changes the show's status quo, by revealing that Steven's mother Rose Quartz was actually Pink Diamond.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot's Christmas Special falls into this. For what's meant to be a cheery Christmas episode, Jenny gets brainwashed and attacks Tremorton on every holiday, but doesn't remember any of it. She awakens on the next Christmas having no conception of the time that has passed and escapes back to her hometown, only to discover that almost everybody is terrified of her and considers her an enemy. And to top it all off, her creator was in the middle of designing a successor to take her down!
  • Gravity Falls: "Not What He Seems" is both this and the biggest game changer for the series: First, Grunkle Stan gets arrested by the government for stealing toxic waste, among other crimes and Dipper and Mabel nearly get sent to Child Protective Services, but they escape. Then the twins’s attempts to clear Stan’s name are not only a failure, they learn that Stan Pines is dead, meaning the great-uncle they know and love might actually be a dangerous criminal impersonating him. then, they and Soos discover the rest of the Journals, the Portal and information that reveals that activating it could destroy the world. and then, a heartbroken Mabel is forced to choose between trusting her brother or her grunkle. She chooses Stan, the Portal is activated…and the world isn’t destroyed. Instead, a figure comes through…and it’s Stan’s twin brother, the Author of the Journals.


Video Example(s):


Ice King's Origin

Finn and Jake stumble upon a tape telling the story of Simon Petrikov, who stumbled upon a familiar crown, and its magic caused him to lose his sanity and humanity, turning him into a certain crazy, princess-abducting king they know. Jake himself puts it best.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (23 votes)

Example of:

Main / ApocalypticLog

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