A moment within or regarding a work that shocks the audience with great Emotional Torque since they definitely didn't see it coming. These are the aspects of a work that crank the "Holy Shit!" Quotient so high that it practically is a division by zero.
Commonly caused by plot twists, naturally, including The Reveal, Wham Episodes (and their smaller-scale cousins, the Wham Lines and Wham Shots), Gut Punches, and/or a Twist Ending upstaging everything else the audience has been accustomed to until these points. It can also result from unexpected moments of awesome, which may result from Serial Escalation taking itself to its logical conclusion and beyond.
It can also be caused by an uninvited Jump Scare.
Can overlap with a Shocking Swerve, of course, but with subtle foreshadowing and logic, it doesn't have to. See also And the Fandom Rejoiced, a common reaction to a shocking reappearance or resurgence of a character or franchise. Compare Player Punch, a videogame equivalent.
The following have their own pages:
- How to Train Your Dragon 2:
- Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension: Phineas and Ferb discovering Perry is a secret agent.
- Avengers: Endgame:
- The directors indicated that this would be the movie that has the big sequence with a total of forty characters in a single action scene. The actual battle turns out to be even bigger than that — not only does it indeed feature almost all the surviving heroes going against Thanos and his Children, but it also includes both Thanos' entire army of aliens against the combined forces of Wakanda's army, the surviving Asgardians, the Masters of the Mystic Arts, and the Ravagers in a gigantic battle.
- The scene at the end of the first act where the Avengers find the retired Thanos and literally butcher him in minutes with Thor hacking off his arm, and then chopping his head off for good measure.
- Prime timeline Nebula shooting 2014 Nebula. It Makes Sense in Context.
- Captain America wielding Mjölnir properly in this film.
- Thanos sending Captain Marvel flying with one Power Stone-infused punch. And before that, Captain Marvel no-selling a direct headbutt from Thanos.
- Thanos attempting another snap... only to discover Tony now has the Stones.
- Citizen Kane: The meaning of Charles Foster Kane's last words, "Rosebud." Although near the very end it is deemed by one character an enigma, a final Wham Shot reveals It Was His Sled.
- Inglourious Basterds' premise is a World War II commando team doing horrible things to Nazis and being presented with the opportunity to kill Adolf Hitler. Naturally, the audience expects them to fail but at least it'll be entertaining to watch them try, leading to a gloriously cathartic moment on seeing Hitler's bullet-riddled corpse being shot again and again. Only a few of the Basterds make it out alive, but it as worth it.
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood spends a lot of its buildup presenting Sharon Tate as Too Good for This Sinful Earth and the Charles Manson family as evil creeps. You'd think that this would end up with Tate being killed off as a Foregone Conclusion. Then at the last second, the murderers sent to kill Sharon choose to go after Rick Dalton instead, and get their asses handed to them in increasingly Bloody Hilarious ways.
- The Sixth Sense:
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- In "Crossfire", Odo's been jealous because he has a crush on Kira, who has a boyfriend. Then, he throws things in his quarters around without warning, despite usually being an exaggerated Neat Freak.
- In "Hard Time", O'Brien is having trouble after thinking he's been in prison for twenty years when it's really only been a few days. Then, there's a scene where he tries to commit suicide.
- Sesame Street:
- One episode starts with Maria, Luis, Gabi, and Big Bird innocently playing charades but then Maria suddenly cries out in pain! It turns out she has a stomach virus.
- One episode begins with Gabi and Luis goofing around together, but Luis suddenly cries out in pain and grabs his back. It turns out he's thrown his back out.
- One episode starts with Maria, Luis, and Elmo celebrating Gabi's eighth birthday, but when Maria kisses Gabi on the forehead, she suddenly looks concerned and notes Gabi is warm. It turns out that she has the flu.
- The Twilight Zone (1959): A series this bizarre, disturbing, and chock-full of Twist Endings naturally had a ton of shocking moments.
- "Time Enough at Last": A nuclear fallout has left Henry Bemis the last man alive, but he at least can entertain himself with books. But then his glasses break.
- "The Eye of the Beholder": The Reveal that Janet Tyler's face, which she has been angsting over the whole episode, is actually pretty, and everyone else is ugly (to our standards).
- "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up": There was a Martian and a Venusian present the whole time, and they had a hidden third arm and eye, respectively.
- The "Five Characters in Search of an Exit"... are actually toys trapped in a Christmas toy collection bin.
- "To Serve Man": "It's a cookbook!"
- Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War: So you managed to kill Duke Reptor of Friege, and Arvis has invited you to Belhalla- Wait, why did he and his army turn from green units to red units? Oh no...
- Super Mario Odyssey
- A T-Rex being in the game, that was already well-advertising long before the game was out. It's pretty powerful... and sleeping in the Cascade Kingdom. You are not expecting one to suddenly roar at you and charge while wandering the dark forest far below the Wooded Kingdom; even with the in-game description warning about "giant creatures." And you definitely aren't expecting one to to wear goggles while it chases you through New Donk City.
- One regarding an out-of-place character design: after you take off from the Luncheon Kingdom, Bowser appears riding atop an enormous, realistically detailed dragon that looks like it belongs in a serious fantasy game, not the goofy, cartoony world of Mario.
- The Broodals try one last resort to keep Mario from interfering with the wedding. A giant robot as big as their ship, working nothing like their usual boss fights.
- The final part of the game where you capture Bowser and use his sheer might to escape the moon's crumbling interior, especially the last area where "Honeylune Ridge: Escape" plays.
- Super Smash Bros.: In general, the reveal of any unexpected character, especially a third-party one, will elicit this reaction from fans.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
- The Reveal that the Ancient Minister is a R.O.B. the entire time.
- The explosive clash between the Halberd, the fighters, and Ganondorf and Bowser's gunship.
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate:
- The line "EVERYONE IS HERE!" from one of the first trailers was surprising since it confirmed that all fighters from previous games would be returning, including Moveset Clones like Pichu and Young Linknote who were cut for being redundant, and Snake, whose absence was thought to be because of licensing issues.
- Lampshaded in both the trailers for King K. Rool (with Dedede) and Banjo-Kazooie (with Duck Hunt). It's treated as a massive reveal for both... and then their first "introduction" is revealed to be another character in disguise, right before they show up for real.
- A new mechanic called Special/Finish Zoom is introduced to facilitate shocking blows in a match when there are only two fighters on screen. When a certain move (like Captain Falcon's Falcon Punch) or an attack strong enough to likely KO an opponent connects, time slows down and the camera zooms in on the impact.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl:
- The Player Punch of killing Toriel, the kindly mother figure that stands in your way trying to protect you from the dangers of the outside world. The usual peaceful strategies that you have been practicing up to that point are ineffective against her. Players that think they need to weaken Toriel are in for quite the gut punch as she will suddenly take lethal damage well before the player can expect it. The game will also surprisingly call you out on resetting and trying the battle again.
- The Kill 'Em All genocide route, whose lone two bosses pull zero punches in difficulty to punish the player for their decision. Especially the final boss, Sans, who attacks you with nothing but Alpha Strike after Alpha Strike and even breaks every single battle convention the game follows just to take you down. And in the event you actually beat those two bosses, you are greeted with a scene where you slice the world into pieces, dealing a seemingly infinite string of 9's of damage that the game shuts down. If you restart the game after this, you get stuck with an Event Flag that is supposed to permanently punish you with a Happy Ending Override to the Golden Ending. Sure, if you manually delete that event flag in the game files, it can easily come back, but it's still an interesting twist.
- Watch Dogs: Legion's advertised ability for the player to play as every character in the game awed many a gamer.
- Dad: The entirety of "Dad Elucidated - Act II Finale" is a rapid-fire series of twists and reveals. From Andan officially "waking up", to Cheryl revealing her true relationship with the Neighbor, to even Ella and Emily being officially introduced after a lot of teasing and hinting. Everyone expected a big season finale, but nobody expected this, and the live-premier's chat was going wild.
- The Shock Series (naturally). Filled with action that cranks Up to Eleven in the sudden, shocking bouts of Super Speed.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- "The Best Night Ever": The main characters expect to have the best night ever at a party, but it turns out to be the worst night ever. Fluttershy's bad luck comes from the animals not wanting to be her friend. This doesn't make her cry like you might expect, but makes her really angry to the point where her voice sounds gravelly and she shouts, "COME OUT!" (without so much as a 'please') and "YOU'RE GOING TO LOVE ME!".
- "The Last Roundup": The very first line of the first airing of the episode: "Now careful, Derpy!", followed by a certain gray pegasus wrecking the town hall's roof. Having a Memetic Bystander be addressed by her Fan Nickname on the show caused the fandom to collectively lose its mind, to the point that it (and controversy over the name being censored from later airings) overshadowed everything else about the episode.
- "Twilight's Kingdom": The Golden Oak Library is destroyed, and a supercharged Dragon Ball Z-esque fight ensues.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Mortis arc's high points of this include the first time Qui-Gon Jinn appears (played by Liam Neeson, no less!) in The Clone Wars, Ahsoka being corrupted to the Dark Side and fighting Anakin and Obi-Wan, and the sequence where the Son shows Anakin what he is destined to become. There are bonus points for the subtle notes of the Imperial March as a dark cloud in the shape of Darth Vader appears.