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Gut Punch

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"The kids in the audience were stunned. There was almost complete silence. The movie had stopped being delightfully scary about halfway through, and had become unexpectedly terrifying."

Say you're watching that new thriller that everyone's been talking about. You've heard nothing but praise for its uncompromising brutality, Emotional Torque, and ability to mess with the audience, but so far nothing you've seen gives even a remote indication of why—



That's why.

You've just been hit with the Gut Punch — the single moment when a work makes it abundantly clear that the gloves have come off. This is where you realize that playtime is over: Plot Armor has been switched off, the hero won't be getting up from that No-Holds-Barred Beatdown anytime soon, Anyone Can Die, and the bad guy winning has become a very real possibility. Maybe things go From Bad to Worse, maybe the story was always that dark and just forgot to tell the audience. Either way, this is a clear indication that the creator has decided to get dangerous.

This is not simply about shocking events, though a Gut Punch is a good way to lead up to a Wham Episode. This is about a single moment that instantly and clearly establishes that the tone of the work as a whole is fundamentally darker than what the audience has been led to expect. If there's a particularly dark moment in a show that then reverts to being somewhat lighter, it's not this. This also isn't a subjective trope. This is about the one moment where the entire tone of the story shifts Darker and Edgier.

Subtrope of From Bad to Worse, Cerebus Syndrome, Darker and Edgier, and Mood Whiplash. Super Trope to Sacrificial Lion, Kill the Cutie, Decoy Protagonist, and especially Wake-Up Call Boss. The Knight of Cerebus, Tragic Monster, and the Hero Killer are three characters extremely likely to cause one of these. Sometimes related to Player Punch. Do not confuse with Groin Attack.

This trope may contain unmarked spoilers. You have been warned.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Legato's introduction in Trigun pulls this off in a single frame. It's a bright and sunny day, the kids are playing with Vash. Then out of nowhere, Legato. He killed and ate the friendly shopkeeper Vash was just speaking to, and feels it would be a downright shame if the little girl Vash just bought an ice cream for would have to be next. The entire scene is completely horrific, but what cements it as this is the opening shot of the usually lighthearted and goofy Vash looking legitimately terrified for the first time in the series that clearly indicates exactly how bad things are about to get.
    Legato: If I'd felt like it, all the people within a 50 meter range, in 0.2 seconds, would all be dead... In the next ten minutes, you'll learn the true meaning of hell.
    • It's also implied (and stated in the manga) that the hot dog he gave the little girl was made from the remains of the aforementioned shopkeeper. Yikes.
  • Gantz was already a pretty dark series, but it still manages to show this somewhere around the end of volume 9 with the death of the entire team except for Kurono. The fact that Kurono takes a level in badass afterwards does nothing to mitigate the new knowledge that Plot Armor has ceased to exist.
  • Digimon Tamers has loads of them, but the two most prominent happen to the same characters, but in different ways, in episode 34 Jeri's partner, Leomon, is killed then absorbed by Beelzemon, and there's no Village of the Beginnings in this series., Later on, after Beelzemon's Heel–Face Turn, Jeri has been trapped by the enemy, and just when things seem to be hopeless, Beelzemon uses all his strength in to a single attack, Fist of the Beast King, which is Leomon's signature attack, and is then able to let Jeri free... if only she hadn't been too shocked by remembering her partner through his killer, and not being able to actually leave her imprisonment, and uttering the line You're... not... Leomon, distracting Beelzemon long enough for him to be brutally stabbed in the back. You know, for kids!
  • Kamina's brutal death in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was not only a legendary Tear Jerker, but the event that changed the series from a fun, colorful, lighthearted adventure romp to an epic war story on a massive scale. The fan reaction to this event is polarizing to this day, and the show aired more than a decade ago.
  • The Mazinger series:
    • Mazinger Z: The last third of the anime series got increasingly darker due to the new enemies: Professor Morimori was murdered, Aphrodite A was definitely destroyed — which was a big deal and caused Sayaka to suffer an Heroic BSoD. Kouji and Shiro's mother returned only to be revealed as an imposter, while poor Shiro was forced to shoot her in spite of his uncertainty as to whether or not she was his real mother. And then you have the final episode wherein the heroes triumph over Dr. Hell and return to his Home Base... only to find out one of the Co-Dragons was secretly working for a Greater-Scope Villain. Then two unknown Robeasts appear, easily destroying the Institute, Diana-A and Boss Borot; when Kouji goes out to fight them, they easily and mercilessly trash the apparently invincible Mazinger-Z.
      This episode was better developed in the Mazinger-Z vs Great General of Darkness feature. Several Mykene War Beasts lay waste to New York City, Moscow, London and Paris in a single day before heading towards Tokyo. Kouji sorties out to fight and gets completely trounced as they burn Tokyo to ashes. Meanwhile back in the Institute, another War Beast strikes, bringing the place down. Shiro gets badly wounded when a ceiling falls on him, and lapses into a coma. The next morning, another squad of War Beasts attacks, and Kouji deploys Mazinger-Z despite his injuries and weakened state — and his robot is unrepaired and power-depleted. He's outnumbered and is being easily defeated until Boss manages to destroy one of the Beasts out of sheer luck. And the cast breathes relieved for a second ... until the Beasts easily get rid of Boss and return to trash around a helpless, powerless Kouji.
    • Great Mazinger: In the Gosaku Ota manga the punches started when the Mykene blew up a coast city after Great Marshall of Darkness replaced the former deceased Dragon-in-Chief. In a few episodes the Japanese army threw an attack against the heroes and their Home Base, Prof. Kabuto went through a Despair Event Horizon, the Fortress of the Science got destroyed — forcing the heroes to run away and lie low — the Mykene burnt Tokyo to ashes, conquered Japan and crafted a Kill Sat, obliterating whole cities. Then you have the Final Battle. The heroes were busy building a new Home Base when the Mykene army launch an attack. Misato gets sliced in half in front of Tetsuya as he is unable to do anything, Mazinger-Z and Great Mazinger are trashed, Prof. Kabuto dies to save Tetsuya, and in reaction Tetsuya, realizing it was his fault commits a Taking You with Me Heroic Sacrifice. The Final Battle in the anime version was not quite so brutal, but in exchange you had a scene where Prof. Kabuto dies in arms of his son Kouji.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: In the Ota chapters both sides lose the war. The Vegan invaders are destroyed, but Duke, Maria and Sayaka die and The End of the World as We Know It comes. Only Kouji and Hikaru are left alive. It was lucky Grendizer was the last series in the original saga, because you have to wonder how the creators could have gone on.
    • Shin Mazinger Zero: This series is the original Mazinger Z manga -that was far darker than the anime and other Super Robot shows- meets Neon Genesis Evangelion. So, what you have when you blend an Unbuilt Trope with a Deconstruction? In the first arc, Kouji and Sayaka go to meet Kouji's grandfather. Hey, that is Kouji's father! Scratch that, it is Kouji's father's head! Dr. Kabuto has turned mad(der) and has beheaded his own son? And now he is trying to off his grandson? He has just raped and murdered Sayaka impaling her with a dozen of metal rods? And Kouji has killed him in turn, losing one arm? And now Mazinger has absorbed Kouji? Wait, that is not a "normal" Humongous Mecha, that is an Eldritch Abomination... that has just destroyed the world. Then again, it had been completely overrun by Dr. Hell's armies, so there was little left to save. Let's reiterate this is the first arc.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • The fight with the 13th angel. It's generally agreed by fans that this is the point in the series when things started to take a turn for the worse.
    • The fight with Arael. Hey, it looks like the cast is starting to resolve its issues and the show might be heading towards general mental stability! You know what would be really fun? How about breaking out the Trope Namer for Mind Rape and completely shattering the tentative peace between the main characters in the process?
    • From The Movie: Asuka, after finally recovering from the aforementioned Mind Rape, takes a level in badass almost instantly and starts tearing through the new Eva units with absolutely no trouble. Except that they survive. What happens next is so horrific that the mere sight of it is enough to bring Shinji all the way from temporary Determinator across the Despair Event Horizon and beyond, setting the tone for the rest of the movie quite nicely.
    • Another gut punch in the movie is the opening scene, where Shinji reaches his lowest point in the series by masturbating over Asuka's comatose body. He was already in the middle of a Heroic BSoD over Kaworu's death, which happened shortly before the start of the movie, but it only gets worse after this incident.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury starts off appearing to be a Lighter and Fluffier main-series Gundam entry, then the war crimes start in Episode 12: terrorists endanger Suletta, Miorine, and their friends' lives, Guel accidentally kills his own father in battle, and Suletta saves Miorine by crushing a would-be assassin under her Gundam's hand and reducing him to tomato paste.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • The Fate Worse than Death of Nina Tucker, which was caused by her own father, followed some relatively lighthearted introductory chapters and served as a wake-up-call for both the audience and the main characters.
    • The death of Maes Hughes kicked off the main plot in earnest, killed off one of the series's most beloved comic relief characters, and served as the Establishing Character Moment for the most sadistic villain of the series.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • The first Wham Episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica where Mami, the Cool Big Sis of the crew, gets killed by a witch. This is shocking to the audience not just because it happens so early in the series, or because it completely subverts our expectations about Plot Armor in the Magical Girl genre, or because her appearance in the opening suggests she'll live at least long enough for Madoka to fight alongside her, but because for the first 80 seconds of the battle, Mami seemed to be doing really well, even unloading the Finishing Move from the previous episode on it, and then, within the space of 10 seconds, the witch revealed its true form and bit her head off.
    • Puella Magi Oriko Magica's Sadness Prayer prequel. For most of the first volume, it's a fairly standard prequel, going over events we already knew about and introducing some minor characters who have light-hearted interactions. While still dark, it's not quite as brutal as one would expect from the franchise - and then Kirika murders two girls, which traumatizes her to point of Heroic BSoD and outright Psychological Horror style hallucinations.
  • Death Note: The death of Raye Pember cements the story as a Protagonist Journey to Villain, as it's the moment when Light's mindset begins to visibly shift from "I will become the god of this new world" to "I will become the god of this new world".
  • The original Dragon Ball started out as a light-hearted, comedy series about Goku and his misadventures with his friends. Then Krillin was murdered at the end of the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament, changing the tone of the series forever. And at the start of Dragon Ball Z, Goku is killed making a heroic sacrifice to stop his brother from killing his son. Then, most of the original cast is killed in the battle against the Saiyans. The Dragon Balls are also lost because Piccolo (and Kami with him) died, meaning no one can be revived until much later when another set of Dragon Balls is found elsewhere in the galaxy.
  • Berserk
    • The Eclipse. Since the Golden Age arc was basically a twelve-volume long prologue explaining how Guts became the Black Swordsman, it was already clear that it would eventually explain just what caused Guts to go from a reluctant member of the Band of the Hawk to actually deciding his place was with them to becoming the aggressive, ruthless, and terrifying warrior on the brink of madness because of his obessive desire to get revenge on Griffith. And it certainly does. The Eclipse involves Griffith deciding to sacrifice everyone in the Band of the Hawk to become a member of the Godhand, resulting in the brutal and gory deaths of most of the known cast. And Guts' lover and main source of comfort, Casca, gets raped into insanity by the newly-created Godhand that Griffith turned into — all while Guts has to watch. And Guts fails to save his friends and lover, while losing an eye and an arm in the process. To make matters worse, Casca being raped into insanity absolutely destroys their relationship and leaving Guts with nobody, and deciding to start his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • And the gut punch regarding Casca doesn't end here. Not only was she pregnant at the time of the Eclipse, the fetus ended up tainted by the Godhand's demonic power and was born prematurely, though the demonic baby in question does end up keeping its mother safe during danger. But when Guts and his group head to Elfheim to try and restore Casca's memories, they do end up succeeding. But she has completely repressed the memories of the Eclipse, and seeing Guts causes her to remember things. She ends up screaming in terror and shaking, leaving Guts to realize that he cannot even be near her anymore. These two cannot catch a break.
  • Bleach: The Thousand-Year Blood-War Arc emphatically changes the darkness and tone of the story when the Vandenreich invades Soul Society. The initial salvo destroys half the 200-strong First Division, including the Lieutenant, in 3 minutes, leading into an invasion that ignores many of the shounen battle rituals: Captain-class Quincies mow down the Red Shirts instead of confronting the captains, ambush captains and lieutenants instead of following introduction rituals, and instantly steal the Bankai of four captains. In just over 7 minutes, the 6,000 strong Gotei 13 suffers just under 2,500 casualties, including some of the story's major players: Kira, Byakuya, Renji, Rukia and Kenpachi are utterly trashed, Kyouraku is maimed for life, and Yamamoto is completely obliterated. From there, the story becomes darker, more sadistic and more traumatic for characters. This mood also sets up the arc's mini-flashback storyline which is not the fandom-expected funny, ditzy Meet Cute tale of Isshin and Masaki's first meeting, instead being a tragic tale of how Aizen's Hollowfication experiments accidentally ruin Ryuuken Ishida's life.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth: Saving princess Emeraude from the bad guy seems like a difficult, if not standard, quest for the newly chosen heroes...but having to kill the bad guy for wanting to free the aforementioned princess, and then also having to kill the princess for being in love with the bad guy and thus unable to fulfill her duties, is a whole different story. Bonus points for Emeraude revealing that she summoned the Magic Knights to Cephiro specifically to kill her so her conflicted emotions don't cause the land to fall into ruin.
  • Blood+ has Diva's rape and murder of Riku in an episode benignly titled "Boy Meets Girl". The rape/murder of a child is bad enough, but most works that include such a thing will have it happen to a random Victim of the Week, not a member of the main cast whom viewers have come to know and care about from the very beginning. Made even worse by the fact that Riku had been saved from the brink of death only a few episodes earlier. This event traumatized both the audience and the heroes, causing Saya and David to each have a Heroic BSoD, and forcing Kai to grow up. The show was by no means fluffy, light-hearted fare beforehand, but it took a distinctly darker tone from this point onward.
  • One Piece had the deaths of Portgas D. "Fire Fist" Ace and Edward "Whitebeard" Newgate in the climax of the Paramount War. Up until then, One Piece got saddled with the term "Nobody dies in One Piece".note  It has the added bonus of a literal gut punch, in the case of the latter.
  • My-HiME has the loss of Akane's child, and the resulting death of her boyfriend Kazuya, showcasing what is at stake for the Himes.
  • In the Wham Episode of My-Otome, the turning point in Arika and Nina's characterization is the death of their mutual friend Erstin at Nina's hands, not long after she had been revealed as The Mole.
  • City Hunter features them periodically to remember the reader that it may be a comedic series but the protagonist is still a wanted criminal that the police leaves alone only because he always goes after much worse criminals and tries to limit the body count.
  • Psycho-Pass was dark from the start, being a show about a Dystopia controlled by The Sibyl System, which has made feeling any extreme emotion, mental illness or thinking differently from the masses illegal. The antagonists that the Ministry of Welfare and Public Safety Bureau took down already included all kinds of criminals from a suicidal rapist to a Mad Artist who likes turning her victims' corpses into art. The show doesn't seem like it could get any darker, and then after Shinya defeats Senguji Toyohisa and saves Yuki, one of Akane's best friends, Shinya falls unconscious due to being shot. Sadly, Makishima appears at that moment and kidnaps Yuki and lures Akane with her. Makishima gives Akane the chance to save Yuki, if Akane can shoot him with a shotgun. Akane tries to use the Dominator on him, a weapon which can only kill someone if the Sibyl System judges them as mentally unstable or not pure of intention. It doesn't fire, as Makishima genuinely believes in his actions being normal and justified. Makishima gives Akane one more chance to shoot him, and Akane can't do it. Makishima then slits Yuki's throat, and after the next episode being a prequel episode, Makishima then proves to be more dangerous than all the other antagonists who only hurt or ended a few lives...Makishima aims to break down all society, and actually succeeds for at least a few weeks. Even after being caught, he escapes and continues upping the ante.
  • The season 1 finale of Sailor Moon. When Sailor Jupiter is killed, it's the start of the punch. Then when Sailor Mercury follows her, you just know the rest of the characters aren't safe.
  • School-Live! seems to be a cute moe slice-of-life. Until you find out that the setting is actually a zombie apocalypse. Again when you discover that Megu-nee is actually dead and the character you know is only a figment of Yuki's imagination.
  • Two in Attack on Titan. The revelation that Annie was the female Titan who brutally killed all those members of the Survey Corps and Levi's own personal squad right after Eren started to trust them; and if this wasn't enough, right after that Reiner and Bertolt are revealed to be the Armored Titan and the Colossal Titan respectively. While the series was incredibly bleak to begin with, these moments introduced the paranoia and Ancient Conspiracy elements that would ultimately come to separate the second half of the series from the first.
  • The second season of A Certain Scientific Railgun has the death of Misaka 9982. The first season tended to lack blood, let alone death, so the arrival of the hero initially appears as a rescue before the death occurs.note  It doubles as a bit of an in-universe Gut Punch for the hero as well, resulting in a Heroic BSoD that leads to her resolving to get herself killed in the climax of the arc.
  • Stars Align seems like your typical light-hearted sports anime about friendship and teamwork until you get to the end of the first episode where one of the main characters Maki is assaulted by his abusive father who forces himself into their apartment and steals their savings. There is yet another moment in the third episode where Itsuki, one of the tennis club members beats a bully with a tennis racket until he's bleeding all over his face and smiles about it
  • Diamond is Unbreakable, the fourth part of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, starts out being quite a bit Lighter and Softer than the first three parts, which have thus far been a mixture of Gothic Horror and Hot-Blooded shounen action. There's still peril and threats, but once the arc involving who killed Okuyasu's brother is resolved, we get a couple of light-hearted adventures. Then Reimi appears and warns Rohan and Koichi about a murderer in Morioh, who is revealed to be the Big Bad, Yoshikage Kira, who murders Shigechi, an innocent and possibly mentally-challenged child, for discovering that he is secretly a serial killer, and the plot gets much darker from then on.

    Comic Books 
  • Before Watchmen: Minutemen explored the titular Minutemen in their Golden Years, showing their successes, their infighting, and some darker themes, like The Silhouette's investigations into child murder and pedophilia. Then in issue 4, she and her partner are murdered in their beds after she's kicked off the team. After this, the real mental toll and questionable morality set in, as characters die or leave, and the Minutemen fade away.
  • Watchmen is a never-ending string of these, one after another, practically once a chapter, but you're probably not going to put the comic down and reexamine your lease on life, the world, and humanity until chapter six, when we learn in an interrogation why Rorschach is so screwed up: When he was a still a relatively sane crimefighter, he set out to find a little girl who'd been kidnapped. When he tracked her kidnapper down, he searched the house and realized that the man had killed her, chopped her body up, and fed her to his dogs. At that moment, Rorschach snapped, killed the man's dogs, and, when he returned home, chained him up in the basement, poured kerosene everywhere, tossed the man a hacksaw, and dropped a lit match. What exited the building was only Rorschach. From this point onward, the story stops being a superhero comic and becomes a violent tragedy with superheroes in it. It's so bleak and despair-inducing that it ruins the marriage of the psychologist interviewing Rorschach and basically destroys all faith he had in humanity.
    Rorschach: This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to dogs. It's us. Only us.
  • Henchgirl : Before Issue 5, the series focuses on the contrast between Mary Posa's life as a 20something woman who can't adult and her job as the muscle for the Butterfly Gang, and the focus is on relationships and humor. Once Mary and Mannequin leak a plan to the media to steal from an orphanage, the gang seeks to find the mole, and ends up smashing Mannequin to pieces in Issue 5 and beating up fellow henchperson Palawan, thinking he is the mole. In Issue 6, the Butterfly Gang starts out with a standard museum break-in caper, which is a trap for the mole, as the jewel they steal forces its bearer to tell the truth – Palawan denies leaking the plan, but Mary can't deny it. The gut punch is Mary being kidnapped and the reader thinking the Butterfly Gang is going to kill her (which Coco wants to do), but it gets worse — they inject her with Psycho Serum , turning her from a Lovable Rogue into a seriously evil character. The remainder of the series involves Mary committing progressively more evil acts and her friends and eventually, Coco trying to save her from both capture and from crossing a Moral Event Horizon by killing Amelia, mistakenly thinking that Amelia stole Fred/Mannequin/Time Baron from her.
  • What Ever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? is already somewhat darker than the standard Superman story, but doesn't broadcast its true intentions until two formerly Harmless Villains torture and kill Pete Ross, Superman's childhood friend — then later, Lana Lang gets casually charcoaled by The Legion of Supervillains, resulting in Superman angrily screaming, "YOU HURT LANA?!".
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard starts off bright and bubbly with young Loki doing spy missions for Asgardia with cheer and zany schemes for a chance at full redemption, while the backstage machinations hint on a dark undercurrent earlier, but the gut punch comes at the end of the AXIS tie-in issue 9, when the narration states: "...A story of Loki's chance to play hero — and of his last hope of redemption. And now, that story ends. Forever." It goes downhill from there. Loki loses their friends, their brother, their sins are revealed (the cute nerdy God of Mischief seeking redemption → a body thief and child murderer) and can't even lie any more.
  • The first issue of Diabolik was one for the entire Italian comic book industry. At the time (1962) the stories were always relatively light-hearted, good always won... And then came out a story with a Villain Protagonist who got away with robbing the Decoy Protagonist blind, murdering his father and cousin and driving his mother to madness. And to drive home the point, at the end Ginko shoots some strawmen in which he believes Diabolik is hiding himself, then leaves... And one of the strawmen starts bleeding.
  • Invincible begins as a somewhat violent, but relatively lighthearted story about teenage superhero Mark Grayson/Invincible, maybe pushing a soft R at worst. Then comes issue 6, in which Mark's father Omni-Man turns on the local group of Justice League expies and slaughters them in brutal and horrific ways. The comic gets much more serious after that.

    Fan Works 
  • In the My-HiME fanfic Perfection Is Overrated,
    • Chapter 4: Hitomi, having gotten her first taste of using Mind Control to make her victims kill other people and themselves, uses her powers to cause a massacre at a diner, resulting in the deaths of 20 innocent people, and showcasing that the SUEs mutual (if varying) lack of regard for human life.
    • Chapter 18 and 19: While previous SUE attacks had interfered with the canon villains' plans, Bachiko and Meiko's plan provides Ishigami and Nagi the opportunities they need to put their plans into motion; the former results in his and Yukariko's deaths, while the latter results in Shiho and Mai being forced to fight like in canon, with Yukino barely managing to defuse the situation by arriving before Mikoto and knocking out Shiho.
    • Chapter 21: the Obsidian Lord, possessed by the Usurper, kills off the entire First District and destroys Miyu, the latter action sealing off the possibility of pushing the Reset Button and undoing any of the deaths.
  • In Marie D. Suesse and the Mystery New Pirate Age!, the first indication of just how dark the story will be is when Mar, having arrived in the One Piece world, encounters a Parody Sue who reveals that Luffy has been executed 20 years ago.
  • In the Kamen Rider Fourze Alternate Universe Fic Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Norio and Chosuke are trying to find the whereabouts of one Misa Torizakinote  only to find her body resting against a tree, gutted and obscenities written on her arms. Chosuke states it best.
    Chosuke: Norio, don't look now but I think Misa just killed herself.
    • Earlier in that same episode, shit really goes down when a brainwashed Ryusei kills Shun, landing the first kill in the story.
  • Ultrasonic, a Miraculous Ladybug/Zootopia crossover, opens after Marinette has been trapped in Zootopia in the body of a white cat for some time, and while we get hints that something bad happened before she was ripped from Paris, the flashback scene where a typical-for-the-show Akuma attack ends with Chat Noir losing his ring and Adrien being brutally killed has this effect: since we already know that the Butterfly has followed Marinette to Zootopia, the reveal that that he's halfway to his goal and Ladybug's partner won't be coming to help her changes the stakes of the rest of the story.
  • In Neon Metathesis Evangelion, most angel battles have been relatively light up to a point, and the story had been mostly focused on the fluffy development of the main triad. But then, during the Bardiel fight, Rei has to sacrifice herself.
  • In Weight of the World Yang bumps into Neo in the Fairgrounds and proceeds to beat the tar our of her as revenge for her earlier defeat on the train. She makes one final blow to her enemy's abdomen... except it isn't Neo at all. It's America, who ran out of Aura before the last shot hit and is now bleeding out in front of Yang. Yang was under Emerald's hallucination Semblance the entire time and pummeling one of her closest friends to a bloody pulp. Even worse, the entire thing was caught live on TV, while people like Yang's little sister Ruby watched. Yang is so distraught she barely notices when she's arrested.
  • For the first fourth or so of The Very Secret Diary, you're just waiting for the gut punch you already know is coming to finally arrive. Thanks to the Foregone Conclusion, we know it's only a matter of time before Tom reveals his true, monstrous colors and starts possessing Ginny. So you spend the first couple dozen entries cringing at all the moments of Dramatic Irony and just waiting for the other shoe to drop... and once it finally does, it is bad. At the end of the entry made on October 4th, Tom possesses Ginny without her knowledge for the first time. The entry ends on his Evil Gloating.
  • Professor Arc: For the first chapters, Professor Arc is mostly about Jaune blundering through a teaching job he has no qualifications for, suffering hilarious humiliation. Then Cinder shows up and proceeds to play mind games with both Beacon's students and staff, revealing how horrible she is to Jaune. While the story remains mostly comedic, the conflict between Jaune and Cinder is properly set up.
  • Varric keeps getting hit by these throughout Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium, usually because of someone else Making the Choice for You. The harshest one comes following the quest "Here Lies the Abyss," which players of the game know involves a Sadistic Choice toward the end. But instead of either Hawke or the Grey Warden contact staying behind to Hold the Line, they both do - because the Inquisitor is Hawke's sister Bethany, and the Grey Warden contact is her twin brother Carver, and he and Hawke effectively throw her out of the Fade. Varric isn't even present for the event, and he's The Narrator, so both he and the reader learn about it after the fact... which makes it worse.
  • In Between My Brother and Me: Mors Omnibus, the story already establishes that citizens from Carroll City don't show any qualms in murdering students from Academia. It's already shown that Yuzu (possessed by Ray) killed Yuya, Yuto and Yugo and Zarc has made them his sons, and it doesn't shy away from Mind Rape, Puppet Permutation and electric torture...all while having such wild and zany characters celebrating a school festival. Then it's the end of the tag team duel of Yvonne and Yusho vs Zarc and Yuya when Yvonne — a very snarky puppeteer who worships Yusho — slices Yusho's throat in front of an entire audience while crying her eyes out. And to make it even worse, the scene after that shows Yusho encountering Wiraqocha Rasca...
  • Never Had a Friend Like Me is a mostly funny story involving Norm the Genie befriending his new master Amanda. But then comes the school dance chapter, and it is revealed how horribly neglectful Amanda's parents are since they don't even bother buying her clothes. This is the moment where Norm increasingly becomes Amanda's godfather.
  • The Frozen Heart's Star is hit by this mostly when it was on DeviantArt, since readers who were mostly Kirby fans were warned that they will get heartbroken over whatever happened to the pink puffball during Chapters 5, 11, 12, 13, 14, and most notoriously, Chapter 8.

    Films — Animation 
  • For the first 40-50 minutes of The Iron Giant, the story is about a boy and his giant robot friend and they mostly goof around while trying to evade an incompetent G-man. Then the boy and the giant stumble upon a deer recently shot by a gun lying on the ground. This triggers a momentary glimpse at the giant's dormant but aggressive programming, and things only get worse from there once the G-man starts becoming a real threat. Then nuclear weapons and Cold War paranoia get involved.
  • The Lion King (1994) starts off as a fairly lighthearted Disney film about a young African lion cub and his life in the Serengeti. All that changes when King Mufasa is killed by his evil brother Scar, who convinces Simba to blame himself for it, tries to have him killed, and then takes over Pride Rock and turns it into a tyrannical nightmare that Simba has to end.
  • Chicken Run. As noted in Roger Ebert's review, Edwina's death (complete with her bones on a dinner table right after) drives home the point that Mrs. Tweedy isn't fooling around - and neither is the film.
  • The Secret of NIMH just sounds like some cutesy kids film about animals, but then we find out that NIMH stands for something: The National Institution of Mental Health. The mice are for science experiments.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire opens with the Fantastic Nuke being set off and the assumed deaths of hundreds if not thousands of Atlanteans (including Kida's mother, sort of), but it doesn't hit that hard since A) Atlantis gotta sink at some point and B) what kind of Disney movie lets the princess retain both her parents? The next half an hour or so are fairly lighthearted, colorful and thrilling pulp adventure movie. Then the Leviathan shows up and destroys the expedition's submarine in five minutes of screen time, killing a staggering number of people onscreen and racking up a good-guy casualty rate in the triple digits that will likely never be topped again in a Disney movie.
  • The Little Mermaid (1989): The reason the scene where King Triton destroys his daughter's secret collection of human treasures, plus the consequences that follow, packed quite a punch was that, until then, such an act of heartbreak and betrayal had never been done in a Disney movie (much less an animated one). And, on top of that, Triton is not the villain.
  • Despite taking place during a war, Mulan is pretty lighthearted with plenty of slapstick, lowbrow jokes, and copious amounts of Eddie Murphy. Even when Captain Li Shang and his troops head to the front, they're singing a happy song about "a girl worth fighting for" — and walk smack into a destroyed village. Both the song and the humor slam to a screeching halt, and it gets even worse when they see that General Li's entire army has been slaughtered. This isn't just one scene of Mood Whiplash; this is a Mood-180 for the whole damn movie.
  • Wolfwalkers starts out as fairly lighthearted, and while the film's last third becomes significantly darker in tone with no funny moments at all, the mood briefly lightens when Mebh reunites with her mother. But mere moments later, Moll is shot by Bill out of nowhere in a major case of Mood Whiplash, which sets the tone for the rest of the story as far more serious until the ending.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The first 45 minutes of Audition could easily be mistaken for a romantic drama in which everything is slightly... off. Then we get Asami's Establishing Character Moment, which is so scary that it turns the next half hour of violence-free romance into pure terror.
  • While Balibo is never light-hearted, there is a fair amount of levity throughout the first half of the film and the Indonesian militsry's actions are kept offscreen for the most part. This all changes when Roger and José return to the village only to find it massacred by the military, including the children, for no reason whatsoever. This is followed by the film becoming increasingly despairing as the Indonesians commit even more atrocities, culminating in them executing Roger by firing squad.
  • During the first 18 minutes of The Fly (1986) it's easy to forget it's a horror movie — it plays as a charming blend of Romantic Comedy and Science Fiction as it establishes the Love Triangle of an awkward-but-lovable scientist who's invented a teleportation device, a beautiful-and-snarky reporter, and her overbearing editor/ex-lover. Oh, Seth does note to Veronica that he hasn't figured out how to teleport living things through it, and would rather not go into detail about what happened on his previous tries, but she brushes his reticence off with a quip. Shortly after the 18 minute mark, Veronica and the audience witness him sending a baboon through the telepods. It arrives in the receiver pod inside-out, and still alive, and the gruesome reveal is used for both the film's first Jump Scare and the first appearance of Howard Shore's operatic score since the opening credits. When this is what's allowed to happen to a lab animal, it's a hard cue to the audience that once the scientist perfects his device and from there decides to become Professor Guinea Pig on a drunken whim, he's going to have it even worse...and that's before they learn it's not going to be instantaneous either!
  • The original Night of the Living Dead (1968) gets two back to back in the same sequence. First we get something that looks like this, specifically the deaths of Tom and Judy. In any other horror movie made at the time, that sequence alone would have been enough to qualify as this trope. It doesn't, but only because the real punch comes immediately afterward when we see an extremely gory (for its day) image of the zombies chowing down on the recently charred corpses that changed the film from "goofy b-movie" to "terror incarnate." Roger Ebert's reaction provides the page quote. It's worth emphasizing the "Darker than the audience has been led to expect" bit:
    Roger Ebert: This was in a typical neighborhood theater, and the kids started filing in 15 minutes early to get good seats up front.
    • It's worth noting that Roger Ebert's description of the audience in the headline was the reaction to the film's end and the film as a whole, not that specific scene, though he does remark that it was this scene when "the mood of the audience began to change."
  • This is a major part of the reason for the fame of Psycho's iconic Shower Scene: not only did it immediately shift the film from a thriller about a couple on the run from the law into a prototype for the Slasher Movie, but it also communicated that no one was safe by killing off the biggest name star in the film less than a third of the way through. This trick would later be repeated in the introduction of Scream (1996).
  • Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance has Yu-sun, the little girl, drowning in the river, setting off the cycle of brutal revenge on both sides.
  • Clint Eastwood seems to really like this trope:
    • Gran Torino gives you one when Sue returns from the Hmong gangs brutally raped and beaten, which reveals the depravity of the gangs that had previously limited themselves to standing around looking menacing.
    • Million Dollar Baby is a story of a waitress who wants to improve her life: she learns how to box and manages to achieve international fame, working her way up earning for a world title bout which leaves her a quadriplegic for the last third of the movie.
    • Unforgiven has Ned's death and Munny's return to his hard-drinking, murderous ways.
  • Drive (2011) shifts fairly abruptly from being a low key character study to being a Bloodier and Gorier Roaring Rampage of Revenge crime story when Standard is killed. To clearly state the shift for anybody who wasn't clued in by that, the villains then proceed to splatter Blanche's brains all over the wall a few minutes later.
  • Julian's death in Children of Men kicks off the main plot while establishing the film's Anyone Can Die nature.
  • Hereditary: The trailers for this movie strongly implied that the movie would be about a Creepy Child, 13-year-old Charlie, who has inherited something bad and/or supernatural from her dead grandmother. This is why her death by decapitation 45 minutes into the movie was one of most shocking scenes in this movie.
  • Serenity manages a Gut Punch twice: once when the Implacable Man pursuing the heroes starts butchering anybody they might conceivably run to for help, and again when Reavers kick off the grand finale by firing a harpoon right through one of the heroes.
  • Fans of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) understood right from the opening scene that the film version of Masters of the Universe was Darker and Edgier than the animated series, what with the imprisonment of the Sorceress and He-Man hacking and slashing his way through a dozen or so of Skeletor's Centurions (who might have been faceless Mooks, but may also have just been automatons). But any illusions that Skeletor might have been up to his usual cartoony tricks are shattered when he out-and-out murders Canon Foreigner Saurod for failing to obtain the Cosmic Key. This Skeletor was much more villainous than his cartoon counterpart, who'd never directed any real acts of violence toward his minions.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End has a grim opening where dozens of condemned victims are led to a gallows in a mass hanging; however, the Gut Punch comes where one victim is a child who has to stand on a barrel so his neck can reach the noose, the sign that this one wasn't going to be like the first two.
  • Star Wars:
  • Back to the Future:
    • The movie showed one when it first came out, which may have been mostly forgotten nowadays. When Doc Brown first demonstrates his time machine, he ties the dog Einstein into the DeLorean. At the point where the car disappears in a flash of fire-trails, many in the audience worried that the dog may have really been destroyed.
    Marty: You disintegrated Einstein!
    • The moment when Doc Brown is gunned down by the Libyan terrorists, and Marty is forced to watch it happen twice.
  • The Great Waldo Pepper is a tragic movie that starts off looking like a nostalgic comedy-drama. The death of the character Mary Beth in a failed wing-walking attempt is the turning point, one which, according to the film's writer William Goldman, was too extreme for most audience members to tolerate, leading to the film's financial failure.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp acts as a Lighter and Softer Breather Episode for Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It stays comedic all the way through, ending on a high note with Janet van Dyne's rescue from the Quantum Realm, Ghost's redemption and the end of Scott's house arrest. The gut punch lands in the mid- and post-credits scenes, when Scott enters the Quantum Realm to get some healing particles for Ghost, only to become trapped there when Hank, Hope and Janet - the only people who even know he's in there, let alone how to get him out - disintegrate in Thanos's snap. The post-credits scene shows Scott's empty house, with the TV displaying the fact that the US has entered a nationwide state of emergency.
  • The ending of Avengers: Infinity War is an awful, awful punch in the gut for anyone who had become attached to almost any MCU character. The infamous Snap disintegrates literally half the population of not just Earth, but the entire universe. Many fan-favorite characters turned to ash right before the viewers' eyes, including Bucky Barnes, the Black Panther, Peter Quill, and the teenage Spider-Man. It actually manages to get a little worse in the early part of Avengers: Endgame, when the surviving Avengers (and the audience) learn about other allies and loved ones whose deaths were not shown in the previous film. These include Princess Shuri of Wakanda and Hawkeye's entire family.
  • Star Trek (2009) seems like a fun, action-packed film revival of the original series — until Vulcan is destroyed and Spock's mother killed. At this point, it's brutally clear that this is not going to be like the timeline that Trekkies have grown up watching, and nobody and nothing is safe.
  • James Bond has always been known as the man who always survives any death trap with a Chekhov's gadget or a wild stunt, allowing him to defeat whatever Big Bad comes for him and be with the Girl of the Week. So, at the end of No Time to Die, it seems like Bond is about to complete one last mission successfully and live happily ever after with his family. Cue Safin repeatedly shooting him and injecting him with nanobots that will kill his wife and daughter if he's exposed to them. With no good options, Bond completes his mission and opts to stay so that he won't become a weapon, and perishes when missiles hit the island. This entire scene came across as a shock to many, since it broke every convention of how a Bond movie would end.
  • Top Gun is a largely light-hearted action drama. And then, during a training mission, Maverick and Goose get sent into a flatspin that ends with Goose dying while ejecting. And afterwards, the lovably cocky Maverick starts suffering a crisis of confidence.
  • Dead Poets Society starts out as a Coming of Age Story about a group of students learning to live life to the fullest, and for Neil, that means turning to acting, landing the part of Puck in a local production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Despite getting a standing ovation for his performance, Neil's father isn't moved and he takes him home, where he tells him he's transferring him to a military school, instead. Heartbroken that his father refuses to accept what he wants, he commits suicide, and Neil's friends are left in a state of shock, particularly his roommate Todd.
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a light comedy for most of its running. Then Del drops a bomb on the audience: "I don't have a home. Marie's been dead for eight years.
  • Dragonslayer: About ten minutes into the film, the evil guardsman Tyrian stabs the sorcerer Ulrich — at Ulrich's request — as a "test" of Ulrich's sorcery. For several seconds Ulrich just stands there as if he's enjoying this new and different experience. And then the old man's eyes go blank, and he slowly sags forward and collapses.

  • Battle Royale has this by way of Shinji Mimura, who gets killed off halfway into the book to establish that, yes, Anyone Can Die.
  • Ringing Bell has a scene in which a wolf kills and eats a lamb's entire flock, establishing that this is not just a cutesy little children's book about sheep.
  • Harry Potter: Cedric's death at the end of book 4 was the first shown murder in the entire series, and started it rocketing towards Darker and Edgier territory. In the last three books, at least one major character dies or is killed per book. In the seventh book, about a dozen minor and major characters die or are implied to have died.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: From the start the series, it's clearly darker and more cynical than the usual fantasy novel. But Ned's execution takes it to a whole new level. You do NOT expect a main character to die like this. And again when the Starks are betrayed by the Freys (the television version of this quickly became infamous as one of the biggest Gut Punches in the history of television).
  • For The Lord of the Rings the Gut Punch is provided by the arrival of a Black Rider. It was when the Black Rider suddenly appeared in his third draft that Tolkien realized he was not just writing 'The Hobbit II'. Well-portrayed in the film adaptation as well - the hobbits (and the audience) suddenly realize the sort of nightmare they're up against.
  • As befits the title, the ending of Changes is one for The Dresden Files. Prior to Changes, the series was relatively light - while the good guys have never had it easy, they still usually came out without too many severe casualties. Then, at the end of Changes, Harry has to murder Susan to both save his daughter and completely wipe out the Red Court. He is fatally shot shortly afterwards. The subsequent books have picked up the tone shift and run with it - Ghost Story shows in painful detail exactly how much of a toll Harry's death has taken on both his friends and the world, while Cold Days involves Harry having to deal with his seemingly inevitable transformation into a sociopathic monster due to the Winter Knight mantle, is filled with reveal after reveal, and ends on an even more depressing note than Changes. Skin Game is Lighter and Softer, but still quite dark.
  • The death of Cloud, the protagonist's Half-Identical Twin brother shows that Peace: Cats of the Valley is every bit as hardcore as the series it plagiarises.
  • Code Name Verity: We get to know Julie and Maddie very well, as Julie narrates the first half of the book, and much of it is about her friendship with Maddie. Then we learn that Maddie is still alive. In the climatic scene, Maddie saves Julie from torture by shooting her. It's absolutely heart-wrenching.
  • Mr. Mercedes: In the opening chapter, unemployed people are lined up for a job fair. We get to know Augie Odenkirk, who befriends a woman named Janice, a woman with so little support that she has to bring her baby with her. Augie decides that he's going to take Janice to breakfast; then a serial killer plows into the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, killing several people, including the three about whom Stephen King has made the readers care.
  • Zones of Thought: In The Children of the Sky, most of the "evil" going on is either safely offscreen or nonviolent. Nevil Storherte, the most prominent of the Big Bad trio, spends most of the story coming across as a seditious and weaselly but charismatic manipulator. He never quite seems like the type to condone violence except in necessary situations, and since he's the Big Bad, it seems likely that the story's conflict will remain mostly political... until, near the end of the book, he fires an explosive Wave-Motion Gun into a crowd of civilians in an attempt to kill a target who might be there. Shortly thereafter, he privately laments the deaths... and blames them on his intended target for maybe being there.
  • The Silo series by Hugh Howey starts with a brilliant gut punch when a would-be protagonist follows his wife into the seemingly deadly post-catastrophe outside world that everyone in his silo sees only through a single screen. He believes, as his wife did after some thorough research, that the image on the screen is a computer generated lie to keep everyone inside. In fact, the idea of going outside is a capital crime in the silo, and everyone guilty is got rid of by sending them there to clean dust off the cameras feeding that screen, and to die a horrible death quickly afterwards. There is indeed bright and green pastoral world outside, and for a few happy minutes the would-be protagonist is cleaning the lenses, waving at people inside and making plans to find his wife. Until he starts dying violently, tears off his helmet and finds out that the green pastures are CGI fake on his helmet's screen, tricking every condemned criminal into cleaning those lenses, and the real world is as deadly as seen on TV. Gut punches don't stop there: initially the books show just what their protagonists know about their world, and in the end their entire existence turns out to be a carefully constructed lie, hiding some truly horrible reality.
  • The first four books of The Chronicles of Prydain are fairly light in tone, despite having their share of darker moments and real drama. However, when King Math dies and the Cauldron-Born overrun Caer Dathyl in The High King, it's a very clear signal to the reader that this victory's not going to be nearly as easy as the previous ones, and that Anyone Can Die.
  • Forest Kingdom: In book 1 (Blue Moon Rising), the heroes have gone off to get the aid of the High Warlock to deal with the magical problems back home... but when they return, they find that the expanding Darkwood — the very problem they needed his help with — has engulfed the Forest Castle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blake's 7 has a notorious one at the end of the very first episode. The hero has been framed for child abuse by the evil government and is about to be sent to a penal colony, but his heroic Crusading Lawyer and the lawyer's girlfriend have discovered proof of the government's corruption and are about to blow everything sky-high. Then in the last-but-one scene of the episode the lawyer and his girlfriend are casually blown away by government agents. The prison ship takes off. The end.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has at least three escalating ones over its lifetime. Season One: Flutie's death. Season Two: Angel loses his soul. Season Five: Joyce dies. If anything, season two has two moments of these back to back: the aforementioned moment where Angel's soul is lost and the moment not long after where the soulless Angel proceeds to kill Jenny Calender.
  • Angel, Being Buffy's spin-off, one can only expect that there will be just as much gut-punching - and there is. Season 1 Doyle sacrifices himself., Season 4 Cordelia never woke up from her coma., and finally, but most prominently Fred's slow and painful death, being hollowed by having her internal organs liquefied in order for an Eldritch Abomination to take over her body.
  • 24 mixes in two during its first season: the first is early on when Janet York is murdered by the man posing as her father and again at the finale where the season ends with Jack in tears cradling his dead wife's body.
  • In Downton Abbey, there's Lady Sybil's death. Series 3 is just as melodramatic as the previous two, but the gruesome, gasping death scene of one of main family members, who had just become a mother and a nice person was unprecedented and shocking. William's death was noble, drawn out and sweet; Lavinia was perhaps destined to die — but Sybil's death was frantic, quick and horrifying. Never before had the show been so shocking to watch.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The end of "Baelor". Arya watches as her father is sentenced to death, but Yoren shields her from seeing the actual death. Ser Ilyn draws Eddard's own sword, Ice, and cuts his head off with a single blow. A flock of pigeons takes flight immediately afterwards, the sight being all Arya needs to know her father is dead.
    • The end of "The Rains of Castamere" quickly gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the biggest Gut Punches ever broadcast on television. In a shocking twist, a wedding turns into a massacre. Robb stands and utters, "Mother" as ​Roose Bolton, who had fled the hall when the massacre began, seizes Robb, whispering "The Lannisters send their regards," before stabbing him in the heart. Now catatonic with grief, Catelyn stands there and accepts her fate, allowing Black Walder to slip up behind her and viciously cut her throat. She falls to the floor with a thud.
    • The end of "The Mountain and the Viper". Tyrion has been accused of killing the king, and his innocence is to be decided by trial by combat. His champion, Oberyn, is viciously defeated and he is sentenced to death by Tywin. Tyrion cannot even reply, shockingly staring in catatonic astonishment at Oberyn's skull-crushed corpse, as does Jaime; the only different reaction is from Cersei, who stares at Oberyn's slaughtered body, listening to Tyrion's death sentence while smirking in vindication.
    • The end of "Mother's Mercy". Jon Snow is stabbed by his fellow Night's Watch members. The brothers leave Jon to die alone in the snow.
  • While The Walking Dead (2010) has always been bleak, the gut punch moments have not stopped since mid-season 2 when 11-year-old Sophia, who was lost in the woods, was revealed to be both dead and now a zombie. Rick is forced to gun her down while her mother screams nearby. Season 3 continues the trend with Rick's pregnant wife Lori dying from a medieval c-section birth while her 12-year-old son screams and cries; he then has to shoot her dead body in the head so she won't turn into a zombie. Rick has a full blown mental break upon finding out, goes to find her body and discovers a zombie has eaten it. Rick mercilessly kills a hotheaded prison inmate in a "three strikes and you're out" situation and The Governor deliberately shoots Merle in the gut so he will turn into a zombie, shortly before his younger brother Daryl catches up to them and is forced to put down his only surviving family member.
  • Babylon 5 has quite a few:
    • This is the entire A-plot of The Coming Of Shadows from the Emperor's heart attack onwards is a series of escalating gut punches.
    • The deaths of every single GROPO we just spent an episode meeting in GROPOS.
    • The revelation of the sleeper agent in Divided Loyalties.
    • The slow revelation of the truth in Passing Through Gethsemane, with one more in the tag.
    • Two words from The Day of the Dead: Zoe's dead.
    • In Believers from Season One, we seem to have the stock sci-fi ending where the 'backwards' aliens are grateful to have their son back despite the surgery going against all their beliefs, they quietly take their son home, typical happy-after-all ending, and then the parents are cooperating long enough to take their son and ritually kill him as they still believe the surgery destroyed his soul. And the viewer isn't told they're wrong. One of the earlier hints that this isn't your grandfather's social-science sci-fi.
    • But probably the single greatest one in the entire series: Lennier's betrayal of Sheridan in Objects at Rest.
    • The Bombing of Narn in The Long Twilight Struggle. The Narn-Centauri War had been mostly a background event at this point, important but not crucial to the overall Myth Arc. Then suddenly the war is over, the Centauri control Narn and have increased the aggressiveness, and once again, Nothing Is the Same Anymore.
  • Charmed - the episode "Charmed and Dangerous". You know things are going south when Leo is shot by a darklighter's arrow and Paige has her powers stolen too, effectively leaving Phoebe as the only sister with her powers (and she is the weakest active power-wise) with the Source of All Evil out for the kill.
  • The Reveal of who exactly killed Laura Palmer on Twin Peaks ( Her father, possessed by an Eldritch Abomination obsessed with her entire being) is one of the most infamous of these in TV history, to the point where AMC ran no commercials whatever for the final twenty minutes of the original broadcast. What makes it even worse is that the reveal is followed by what was, back then, probably the most brutal depiction of murder seen in an American mainstream TV show.
  • Lost has a lot of these, considering its Anyone Can Die nature, but the biggest one in the show has to be Alex's death. She's on her knees with Martin Keamy's gun to her head, crying and BEGGING her father, Ben, for help. Ben is a master of the Xanatos Gambit and has basically been playing every other character the entire show; he obviously has a plan, right? Nope.
  • The Israeli skit show The Chamber Quintet started discussing politics a lot more openly after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzkhak Rabin in 1995; given that the writers and actors were staunch leftists and the public sphere had just taken a sharp turn to the right, making Benjamin Netanyahu prime minister for the first time, they obviously featured much darker skits much more often, the darkest of which was probably this one, from 1997, after Netanyahu’s election (the second half of the Gut Punch), in which Rami Heuberger gave a chilling performance as the assassin, Yig'al ‘Amir, with a Slasher Smile and a monologue about how the viewers know deep down that ultimately he’ll be pardoned in twenty years in exchange for expunging the charges against a staunchly leftist party (implying they’ll be persecuted politically), and that he’ll be hailed as a hero in Jerusalem, which will become far more nationalistic and right-winged. To make matters worse, as of 2014, the (attempted) political persecution of the left and the change in political climate in Jerusalem have already come true.
  • In Kamen Rider Gaim, a human is turned into a monster and, unlike other men-turned-monsters in the franchise, is not returned to normal but instead written off as a lost cause by the antagonists and killed. Worse, he's revealed to not be the first such victim; as at the same time the audience is shown that the first monster that Gaim killed was in fact a close friend of his that had gone missing. Usually in Kamen Rider, defeating the Monster of the Week sets everything right; and Gaim had been presented as a shonen Serious Business show not unlike Yu-Gi-Oh! This episode shows that nothing will ever be "right" again and that the competition that the main characters were taking seriously is nothing compared to the real conflict.
  • Kamen Rider Build starts with you standard monster of the week format where the heroes defeat the Monster each weak, use its essence to make a new Transformation Trinket, and gradually progress the Myth Arc. Then it's revealed that Soichi Isurugi, the friendly Mision Control who took Amnesiac Hero Sento in and encouraged him to become Build, is the true identity of The Dragon Blood Stalk, and all of his fights so far have been Engineered Heroics designed to trick Sento into advancing the villains' plans. Also, Sento's true identity is actually Katsuragi Takumi, the Mad Scientist who helped advance the villains' research so far in the first place. And before Sento even has any time to process these revelations, the villains succeed in starting a bloody Civil War for Fun and Profit. The show gets much darker from this point, as innocent casualties start to pile on, the heroes' victories become few and far in between and Sento is forced to question whether or not he can really call himself a hero if his actions led to so much disaster, which is a question that he continually struggles with throughout the rest of the series.
  • The first episode of Queen of the South opens with protagonist Teresa boasting about how wealthy and powerful she is... and then she gets shot dead.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Q Who", Riker blames Q for the deaths of 18 crew members when the Borg slice out a section of the hull, and Q responds with a chillingly dismissive "Oh, please", indicating this is all very real and permanent.

    Music Videos 
  • The 5:30-minute "I NEED U (Original ver.)" firmly establishes the bleak tone of the BTS Universe, as well as BTS' willingness to take on darker, more mature topics in their work from that point onwards. At first it just seems like a slightly Darker and Edgier version of "Danger" - especially if you've only watched "I NEED U"'s shorter, heavily Bowdlerised version. The second chorus comes in, however, and Jungkook gets beaten up by strangers, while (in a separate scene) Hoseok passes out from narcolepsy in the middle of a sidewalk. Then, after the bridge, Jungkook gets hit by a car, Taehyung stabs his abusive father to death with a broken bottle, and Yoongi dumps gasoline all over his room, setting it on fire and letting it burn everything, himself included. All while jumping back-and-forth from these scenes of the boys suffering to scenes of the boys happy together.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The 2011 "Thug Assassins" angle in the Urban Wrestling Federation, in which new champion Rasche Brown was knocked over and then shot by two unknown assailants. To make matters worse, Brown seemingly never appeared at any other pro wrestling event; he was essentially, unceremoniously, killed off.

  • Grave Academy:
    • In the second book's finale, Jack and Sophie are able to save Robin from Teresa's Mind Control, but her soul'd being under the influence for so long that she begs Jack to Mercy Kill her, he does.. A bit earlier in the same chapter, Jack and Sophie discover that Jack's sister, Teresa, who appeared to be just a victim, was pulling the strings all along, the she goes psycho on them and slices her brother's eye off, and almost kill them and their students, only for Jack to deem her beyond saving and ends up killing her in self-defense.
    • The last book starts Lighter and Softer, only to shock even more with Samantha's sacrifice, killing off one of the most beloved and sweet characters in the story, and it ended up being useless, as instead of preventing the others' deaths, most of them actually die before the final battle; and then, ALL of them, save for Luke, die at some point during the final confrontation..

  • Romeo and Juliet is basically a Romantic Comedy... right up until the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt. Things go straight to hell from there.
  • Likewise, Cabaret is light-hearted and hysterical ... until the Nazis show up.
  • Black Friday has two moments that signal that this show is much darker than Starkid's previous fare.
    • The first is the reveal that Becky was abused by her husband. While Starkid has played abuse for Black Comedy in past shows, this scene decidedly is not, warning us that in this show, things can and will get serious, real fast.
    • The death of Ethan solidifies that, yes, Anyone Can Die. Even worse is how brutal the death is. Poor Ethan, a lovable teenage boy, dies trying to protect his girlfriend's little sister. Two grown men attack him and beat him to death, to the extent that he dies, coughing up blood and deliriously calling out for his girlfriend. And his Hate Plague-infected attackers show no remorse. Toto, we're not in A Very Potter Musical anymore...

    Video Games 
  • For most of the first half in ANNIE: Last Hope, you're a zombie-killing badass shooting the undead left and right. But halfway through your mission have you trying to locate your friend, the Struggling Single Father and Nice Guy Mike and his adorable young daughter Jessica, to bring them back to the survivors, before you found Mike's corpse hanging on a tree. And Jessica buried nearby. And then you locate Mike's suicide note revealing that Jessica was infected by the virus and Mike is forced to perform an Offing the Offspring. OUCH.
    Mike's suicide note: I'll be with you soon, my poor Jessica...
  • Guild Wars:
    • The game opens in the fairly idyllic area of Ascalon - grass and flowers are everywhere, and enemies are easy and will generally not attack you unless provoked. Then the Searing happens, and you get out of the prologue.
    • Nightfall opens with the Sunspears rooting out a conspiracy and launching a massive invasion of Kourna to counter it. Everything goes well until Varesh unleashes a horde of demons, devastating the Sunspear army while one of them eats their leader's eyes. After that mission the players are fugitives trying to avoid capture by a hostile army.
  • Guild Wars 2 has dozens of paths the Personal Stories can follow, but all share the same Gut Punch: Claw Island. A massive undead attack completely overwhelms the island and the player's mentor stays behind to give the few survivors time to flee.
  • Final Fantasy VI has one of the most famous video game examples, which occurs halfway through when Kefka destroys the world.
  • Final Fantasy VII features the reveal of the Big Bad's plan to end all life, his successful acquisition of the MacGuffin he needs to do it, and the death of the only character with a means to stop him, all in short sequence at the end of Disc 1 of 3 (which had been largely light and partly humorous up this point except for some angst in the backstories of party members).
  • Final Fantasy XIV has several:
    • Legacy: The Calamity that coincides with the end of the first version of the game. Despite everyone's best efforts, The Empire activates Project Meteor and causes the lesser moon Dalamud to fall toward Eorzea, and nothing the heroes do, even destroying the machine responsible and killing the Big Bad, can stop it. Then it turns worse as it's revealed that Dalamud isn't a moon, but a prison for the Primal Bahamut, who proceeds to break free and raze the land within seconds. The Bad Guy Wins, The End of the World as We Know It occurs, and all the Big Good can do is send you to the future, when the world has recovered from the Calamity, as he stays behind at ground zero of a massive Terraflare.
    • A Realm Reborn: After defeating the Primal Titan, you return to your base only to find immediately after you reported in your victory to your allies, The Empire came and sacked the base, killing most of your allies and taking everyone else captive, and then, when you've barely had time to mourn your losses, you learn that another Primal is about to summoned, and now you'll have to deal with it without the allies and support that helped you handle the last two.
    • Patch 2.5 serves a transition between A Realm Reborn and Heavensward and whoo-boy it's a doozy. In the first half, the ancient dragon Midgardsormr warns that one of his children is mustering forces to attack the nation of Ishgard, and, feeling that you haven't really done anything to prove that you're worthy of being The Chosen One, seals off The Gift in order to make you prove yourself worthy of regaining it. One of the Ascians then catches wind of this and tries to capitalize on this by trying to steal a powerful artifact your allies have, and permenently killing him requires the Heroic Sacrifice of one of your allies. And things only get worse the second half where your character is framed for the assassination of Sultana Nanamo, her right hand general Raubahn is maimed after killing the noble responsible, the Heroes For Hire you and Alphinaud formed turn out to be complicit in the frame-up, and your allies end up staying behind to buy you and Alphinaud time to escape to Ishgard. By the end of it all, Alphinaud is crushed by how his naivety has led to disaster, and you and what few allies you have left have no choice but to seek asylum in Ishgard, an extremely isolationist state that's about to be beseiged by dragons.
    • Heavensward: Things start looking up with several big steps being taken to recover from the above disaster, and a potential end to Ishgard's Forever War with the dragons in sight. The only obstacle seems to be dealing with the Corrupt Church. Then, as the bad guys are escaping to carry out their Evil Plan, Haurchefant, a friend who had been helping you out ever since you stepped into Ishgard, dies Taking the Bullet for you. This particular event hits the Warrior of Light especially hard, affecting them even long after the event.
    • Stormblood: Just when you've made a little headway in building up the Ala Mhigan Resistance, the Arc Villain personally leads a strike force in an attack on the resistance headquarters, butchering many of them, gravely injuring one of your friends, utterly crushing the until then seemingly undefeatable Warrior of Light, only leaving you alive because he's impressed enough to believe you might be the Worthy Opponent he's been looking for. What little progress you made is basically undone, everyone is demoralized by the crushing defeat, and new plans need to made since it's apparent that liberating Ala Mhigo won't be easy.
  • Tales of the Abyss starts out as a typical cliche packed Shōnen adventure. Then, about a third of the way through the game, The Reveal occurs (The main character is a replica, having been created for the express purpose of playing his original's role in fulfilling a prophecy in which he's manipulated into destroying an entire city) and we are subject to one of the most vicious examples of Break the Haughty ever seen in a game.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • The remarkably easy-to-do and remarkably gory-for-the-time Pit Stage Fatality, for those who used to believe this game was a clone of Street Fighter.
    • Scorpion's original Fatality, where he reveals there's nothing but a bare skull under his mask, served as a Gut Punch for this strange ninja's story.
    • Mortal Kombat 9 opens with the revelation that Shao Khan won, all the heroes are dead (save Raiden, who's just about to be killed himself,) and the only thing that can save the day is for Raiden to scrap an entire series' worth of continuity with an in-universe reboot by sending a message to his past self so that he can try and Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Vindictus starts out in a moderately Dark Fantasy world, but doesn't initially explain how it turns into the Low Fantasy Crapsack World that it's advertised as. Then less than halfway through the third major zone, Ainle, Ellis, the kid cadet who's always looked up to you, gets viciously beaten to death by a sadistic goblin warlord in the pre-bossfight cutscene. And the name of the mission in which this happens? "Wake Up Call." Things don't really improve from there.
  • Yggdra Union waits until the player has been lulled into a suitable sense of security before it shows its true colors — it seems upbeat enough for a medieval war game for two thirds of the plot. Then there's Battlefield 40, where you begin your invasion of The Empire for the sake of protecting the kingdom, and have to slaughter an entire town of civilians determined to defend their homes. And it gets worse very quickly from here.
  • Digital: A Love Story starts off as a simple 1980's email simulator, then the player's 'go to' website crashes, and they lose all contact with Emilia. They then receive an email from the websites administrator that reveals Emilia was sending them an email desperately begging for their help before the crash and things get very dark very quickly.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The game has this within events of the Wrathgate. The Forsaken unleash the New Plague. You now see it cause the senseless and meaningless deaths of some of the Horde's and Alliance's greatest heroes and shatter any chance of peace between the two factions. And if you're playing as Horde, you helped create the New Plague, in one of the more light-hearted questlines that go all the way back to the first levels.
    • In Mists of Pandaria, at the end of the Jade Forest questline, the battle between the Alliance and Horde, with their respective Jinyu and Hozen allies, results in the Sha being empowered, devastating the landscape and both sets of combatants.
    • Legion has the assault on the Broken Shore where the massed forces of the Horde and Alliance try to stop the Legion before it can gain a foothold. Not only are their forces devastated and forced to retreat, King Wrynn, Warchief Vol'Jin, and Highlord Fordring are all killed.
  • Mass Effect
    • In the first game, you have a few missions trying to find out what Saren is up to, and a ton of sidequests mowing down violent criminals and terrorist cells with impunity. Then you have Virmire. First, you encounter the Big Bad for the first time, and the tone of what had been a sci-fi jaunt suddenly gets a lot more serious. Then, no matter what you do, no matter how well you play, either Ashley or Kaidan will die. It's up to you to decide who performs the Heroic Sacrifice. You may have to put down Wrex as well, depending on your influence with him. The mission to Virmire sets the harsh precedent for the rest of the series: from that point onward, you know that the Big Bad is a lot more dangerous and time-spanning than you thought, Anyone Can Die and tread a lot more cautiously.
    • The Gut Punch for the series as a whole is the ending of Arrival, the last DLC mission for Mass Effect 2, which requires Shepard to destroy a Batarian system killing countless innocents in order to stop the Reapers. It's essentially saying that from this point on, no matter what you do, you'll still be sacrificing someone.
    • The third game starts with a Gut Punch. A front-row seat for the Reaper invasion of Earth. There's also the fall of Thessia, which is a complete and utter defeat for the good guys, which, in an earlier version, would have included a Virmire-like dilemma.
  • Live A Live appears to be a collection of fairly cheerful Cliché Storm tales of heroism. Then you finish all seven and unlock an additional chapter, which seems to be a standard Sword and Sorcery tale... until Oersted is tricked into murdering the king. Everything in his life falls apart from there. Ladies and gentlemen, the origin of Odio.
  • Baten Kaitos: The Mole is unmasked. It's Kalas. The main character. He's led you - not just you the player, you the player stand-in Guardian Spirit along the entire time. And then he cuts off your viewpoint and the screen fades to black. Oh, by the way? The really nice leader everyone loves? She's pure evil, and the one he's working for. And that's when you realize you've judged the entire plot the wrong way from the minute you hit Start.
  • Metal Gear:
    • The original game was supposed to have one in the form of the reveal that Big Boss is actually the Big Bad, which is also very subtly hinted throughout the game and includes a Breaking the Fourth Wall moment. However, this plot twist wouldn't be much of a "punch" to most of the Metal Gear fans nowadays, mainly because Big Boss's betrayal became a case of It Was His Sled, and also due to the Early-Installment Weirdness of the whole game.
    • The gut punch in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is the point where the President of the United States confesses that he's just a figurehead for an Ancient Conspiracy, that the entire facility the game is taking place on is a cover for a massive new battleship with vast nuclear strength and weapons to control information, that you're just a pawn of said ancient conspiracy, and that he wants you to kill him (which someone else beats you to). The whole scene sets the tone for the rest of the game, and to an extent the series.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has The Reveal at the very end that also puts the first game in a whole new light: Venom Snake, the hero you've been playing as throughout the entire game, is NOT the real Big Boss, but a Body Double who served as a medic in Militaires Sans Frontières who shielded the real Big Boss from a bomb during Skull Face's raid on Mother Base. Big Boss goes into hiding afterwards as Venom Snake, through a combination of cosmetic surgery and hypnotherapy, takes his place, founding the Diamond Dogs and taking the fight to Cypher and Skull Face while Big Boss put his own plans into motion. The ending reveals that Venom Snake is the "Big Boss" that Solid Snake actually fought during the events of the first game.
  • Spec Ops: The Line initially comes across as a shooter with a somewhat darker-than-usual undertone, when it becomes apparent the situation is not one suited for your tiny rescue and reconnaissance squad. About halfway into the game, Capt. Martin Walker uses white-phosphorus mortar rounds to pass an enemy camp, only for the game to reveal the resulting gruesome murders included forty-seven of the civilians he's there to rescue. The game and Walker's mental stability only go downhill from there.
  • BioShock has the infamous scene in Andrew Ryan's office, in which the true nature of the game finally rears its ugly head. It is revealed in short order that not only has Atlas had you on puppet strings for the full duration of the game, but he's really Frank Fontaine, the one responsible for much of what's happened to turn Rapture into the Crapsack World that it is. And by the way? You Have Outlived Your Usefulness.
  • Eversion is an almost unbearably cutesy and saccharine platformer up until the beginning of level 4, which begins the parade of Scenery Gorn, regular Gorn, and jump scares that make up the meat of the game.
  • Homeworld pulls this off very effectively in Mission 3, where you return to Kharak after a short test jump to discover that the planet's surface and orbital installations have been destroyed, effectively rendering the Kushan species near-extinct. The narrators in particular help the scene by just barely maintaining a calm and collected tone.
  • Dark Souls sets itself up with an especially bleak Dark Fantasy setting from the get go, which makes the subdued, sudden and un-dramatic NPC deaths (typically at your hands following their turning Hollow) gradually easier to deal with, except for Solaire's descent into madness and despair. The fact that the majority of players would not know that it was avoidable until later adds to it.
  • True to its setting, Game of Thrones (Telltale) starts out fairly dark with the deaths of the Lord of House Forrester and his eldest son, leaving teenage Ethan to take the reins of the gutted remains of his household and try to survive the obvious squeeze which House Bolton and its bannermen will be putting on those who had been loyal to House Stark. And then Ramsay Snow stabs him through the neck, killing him at the end of the first episode. Things do not get better, to put it lightly.
  • Devil Survivor 2 has one for the overall tone of the game, and another for the gameplay.
    • The story begins as a typical Japanese high school drama. ...For all of ten minutes, until the protagonists get a video clip of a horrific train crash that leaves a mess of bloody corpses behind, including their own. A little later, Dubhe shows up in the midst of some terrified civilians and self-destructs, leaving a smoking crater where they used to be. It's at this point that the protagonists, and the player, realize this is really an apocalypse story.
    • The second moment is Keita's death clip on Day 2. While you saw a death clip for Daichi on the first day, But Thou Must! was in full effect and you always arrive Just in Time to save him. So when you meet a new team member and get a vision of his impending death, surely you can Take Your Time, right? Wrong. Mess around doing too many side events, and Keita's death clip will come true, depriving you of a party member forever. This hammers in that death clip missions should be prioritised, and that party members can end up dying.
  • Seems to happen at least once per game in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon which isn't too surprising considering what the stories end up as...
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team has the player character being framed as the cursed human of legend whose existence would cause natural disasters that will lay waste to the world. Most of the game's second half is spent on the run from former allies and other dangerous Pokémon.
    • The day was seemingly saved in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers when Dusknoir has captured Grovyle, the criminal stealing Time Gears... only for Dusknoir to reveal that he's a mole from a grim future ruled by an insane Dialga by sending the protagonists there to be executed. The rest of the game is all about stopping said future even though it will cause everyone from that future, including the player character, to cease to exist.
    • By the last leg of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, the villains are revealed to be a suicide cult who are using an Eldritch Abomination to destroy the world. During the efforts to stop them, one of the companions ends up being killed by their leader Kyruem.
    • Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon has Latios and Latias being captured and turned into stone by an unseen force, followed by Entei almost killing the protagonists which spells out this game isn't going to give a pass on Legendary Pokémon, or the heroes. Later on, the game makes good on that promise with a second gut punch that ends up with Nuzleaf betraying the heroes and petrifies them, along with nearly the entire Expedition Society. He and Yveltal then go on to turn nearly everyone else in the world, including the inhabits of Serine Village, into stone.
  • The first boss battle of Undertale against Toriel hammers home the importance of two of the game's selling points. Up to that point, it's a safe bet that the player killed at least a few monsters without giving too much thought about it like in any RPG, but by being forced to fight the lovable Parental Substitute of the player character, and possibly kill her by mistake, and they begin to see the importance of sparing enemies. Reset to the last save to spare her, and Flowey will be there to guilt trip the player over murdering her and thinking resetting the game can undo everything, making it clear that the game, including some of its inhabitants, knows about Save Scumming and that it won't fix all of your problems here.
  • Super Paper Mario has Chapter 6. It first appears that the Sammer's Kingdoom will just be a comical fighting arena, but it's not. It's revealed that Count Bleck is Blumiere, and the world Mario is in (as well as all the people in it) quickly gets turned into an empty and eerie land of nothingness by the Void before it can be saved. Soon after Mario finds a powerless Pure Heart, Dimentio unexpectedly appears to kill him, Peach, Bowser, and Mr. L in a violent mannernote , sending Mario into a Plot Tunnel in the Underwhere separated from his party.
  • Half-Life: After fighting through waves of alien creatures, Gordon Freeman finally meets up with the marines sent down from the surface to contain the dimensional breach... and they open fire on him.
  • OFF: Throughout the game, the Batter has been travelling through the Zones, purifying them of specters and ghouls, and even doing rid of their corrupted Guardians. Enoch, Guardian of Zone 3, reveals in his dying moments that without a Guardian, the Zones will cease to exist. It gets even worse if you revisit purified zones: They completely lack any color and all areas are stalked by startlingly-infrequent encounters with ethereal beings known as Secretaries.
  • I=MGCM is the colorful RPG Magical Girl Warrior game with a sheer of comedy, cuteness and Fanservice. However, at the end of chapter 4 until the end of chapter 6, some heroines die all over again and in some cases, are corrupted into demons, after which they're resurrected by the "Groundhog Day" Loop. On their own, all the recurring deaths can be emotionally taxing for the audience. And then, it turns out that the "time loops" were actually just a case of warping the reality by creating his own parallel worlds that Omnis have created using his ability, and then merging that old/screwed-up universe with a new copy, causing their deaths get undone. However, only heroines who are slain and corrupted into demons don't get resurrected (instead, they're replaced by new copies of the new universe he created). That sting of false hope can be the last straw for players who didn't expect that level of darkness, and things get darker and deeper as Tobio and the heroines find out.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 is full of such moments, the most infamous one taking place within the first few hours of gameplay. After the player is given enough time to get to know Shulk and his two best friends Reyn and Fiora, their hometown Colony 9 is attacked by the Mechon, and Fiora is killed right in front of them.
  • Honkai Impact 3rd: Murata Himeko's death in the Chapter 9. Previous chapters had many serious moments, but the story still seemed optimistic and somewhat lighthearted overall. After that moment, it's a roller-coaster of tearjerkers, depression and Heroic Sacrifices.

    Visual Novels 
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! starts off as a lighthearted romantic comedy with some drama added in after Sayori admits to being depressed and confesses to the protagonist. Then, on the day of the festival, you discover Sayori's corpse hanging in her bedroom, and the whole thing turns into psychological horror with a cutesy facade. Then, the game starts over, completely normally...until it starts having occasional, severe graphical glitches as it tries to reconcile the fact that Sayori has been Ret-Gone and no longer exists.
  • Muv-Luv Alternative is already a fairly Darker and Edgier sequel to Extra and even Unlimited, with the looming threat of Alternative V and a much more serious Takeru Shirogane working against the clock to prevent it. The first arc exclusive to Alternative, the Coup d'Etat arc, happens, and while it has fairly dramatic moments and even a few minor characters' deaths, it's not notably darker than what came before. And then the aptly-named PTSD arc happens. BETA suddenly swarms the base, ans is shown in full for the first time, being horrible, repulsive monsters, Takeru almost dies, only being saved in extremis by a fellow TSF pilot, Jinguuji Marimo, a character that's part of the main cast since Extra, gets her head gruesomely bit off by a Soldier-Class BETA, shown onscreen in extremely graphic detail.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Attracting all demographics, the show initially follows teenagers adapting to their new school, training to fight scary monsters, engaging in wacky hijinks, and glossing over serious events such as off-screen murder. During Volume 3's tournament arc, Yang predictably defeats Mercury only to be attacked by the sore loser; after punching him to the ground, she is arrested in front of an angry, booing crowd. The episode ends with arena television revealing to Yang and the audience that Yang needlessly attacked a defenceless, prone Mercury, shattering his leg. After the episode, the creators released a statement warning that the show was originally intended for mature audiences and adults should now supervise child access; the episode was a gut punch to kick off the darker storyline.
  • the first half of Wolf Song: The Movie, although somewhat dark at times, also contains some lighthearted moments and plenty of humour, however, most of this immediately goes down the drain when Alador succumbs to his wounds. From this time what little humour exists is mostly Black Comedy and it’s a clear sign things are gonna get pretty dark really quick.

  • Homestuck seems at first to be just more of the kind of surreal goofiness that had defined previous MS Paint Adventures comics...until we find a meteor on a collision course for the main character's house.
    • Even after the meteor business solidified the fact that the story was taking itself more seriously than its predecessors, it's still fairly light material. Then Jack Noir flips the fuck out and goes on a homicidal rampage, instantly promoting himself to Big Bad.
    • This also very suddenly demonstrates the darker turn the comic takes in Act 5 Act 2. (Spoilers in link) Despite the fact that he gets better, the main character dies onscreen with basically no warning right after a particularly lighthearted and charming sequence, and the girl who led him there responds with a smiling emoticon.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Due to Xykon's Laughably Evil tendencies, it's very easy to assume that he's not that much of a threat. However, during the invasion of Azure City, he swiftly reminds the audience exactly how dangerous he is by killing Roy.
    • Much later in the comic, Tarquin is firmly established as a villain, but doesn't show quite how ruthless he is until he kills his own son, Nale.
  • In Our Little Adventure, the adventuring group has had a fairly easy time questing and defeating monsters...and then a special Monster of the Week appears and ends up killing Pauline...
  • Goblins has Kin, who has been slowly recovering from the abuse she received from Dellyn. And then there's Minmax, who has slowly been falling for her despite her monster status and seems to have reached the point of "seeing" her like her people do. And then an alternate-universe version of Kin deliberately obliterates the physical touchstone of their relationship, leaving them still in love, but Kin no longer understands why. When she abruptly attempts to send Minmax and Forgath on their way — probably never to see them again — Minmax panics and grabs her leash in an attempt to slow things down and talk it out. The faces on both of them speak volumes.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The name of the trope is not just word play. Strong negative emotions cause a not-completely-understood reaction between the enteric nervous system (the so-called "second brain") and the anterior cingulate cortex (which regulates physical and emotional pain). It's the same reason your stomach turns in knots when you're scared and why you get butterflies in your stomach when you're nervous.

Alternative Title(s): Audience Sucker Punch