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, an adaptation deviating significantly from its source material, 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.
Often done by the creators to impress the audience or win it back. If a shocking moment is a single memorable scene, it could even become a work's Signature Scene. However, trying too hard to shock audiences may result in Shock Fatigue.
It can overlap with an Ass Pull if done out of nowhere, 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.
As a Moments page involving moments that you don't see coming, all spoilers are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
- Anime & Manga
- Fan Works
- Films — Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Professional Wrestling
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- On January 22, 2020, a few days before Super Bowl LIV, peanut company Planters ran an ad where Wesley Snipes, Matt Walsh and Mr. Peanut take a road trip, only to end up in an accident that results in them dangling from a branch. In an unthinkable move, Mr. Peanut decides to sacrifice himself to save Matt and Wesley, leading to many fans of the product mourning the loss of the 104-year old mascot.
- Carnage Unleashed! opened with Carnage using his symbiote to murder someone through the Internet, and it just got more insane from there, culminating in everything exploding.
- The Transformers (Marvel): Issue 50 and issue 75, both of which involve absolutely massive battles, in which numerous cast members die. The latter more so, given that Primus himself dies. That's the equivalent of a biblical story ending with God getting shot in the face.
- Young Justice (2019): Issue 5 shows that Tim had his memories of the pre-Flashpoint timeline restored, which raises several questions about the universe as it stands now.
- Frozen: Hans being the villain, which comes with no previous indication (and was even stated to be a bit of a cheat in repeat views).
- How to Train Your Dragon 2:
- The Incredibles: "After all... I am your biggest fan". It is this line that makes Mr. Incredible realize that Syndrome is Buddy Pine, the kid he blew off many years ago.
- The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part:
- The reveal that Rex Dangervest is a time travelling Emmet, who after ending up under the dryer, believed that his friends abandoned him and became bitter as a result.
- Turns out the aliens from the Systar System are really "Not Evil" - just terrible at communication.
- The Lion King (1994): Mufasa's death - Scar grabs his paws and tosses him into the wildebeest stampede.
- Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension: Phineas and Ferb discovering Perry is a secret agent.
- The Super Mario Bros. Movie: During the final battle, the Mushroom Kingdom's warp pipe begins vacuuming at an alarming degree. Though initially only Mario is shown being sent back to his hometown of Brooklyn, right as Spike's about to yell at him for getting in his way, Bowser's entire castle bursts out of the ground, resulting in the final battle taking place here. What made this so shocking to audiences is that none of the trailers even dropped a single implication of this happening.
- Teen Titans Go! To the Movies: Seeing the 2003 Teen Titans attempt to make a comeback into the spotlight during The Stinger caused an explosive reaction of shock and joy from that show's fans.
- Much like the Robotech example in Anime above, A generation of youngsters were shocked by the death of Optimus Prime in The Transformers: The Movie. It's hard to explain to younger animation viewers today just how shocking this was. At that time, killing off characters in animation aimed at children just wasn't done. This was a complete subversion of a contractually-mandated Like You Would Really Do It. And it threw a generation of 6-year-old boys through the loop.
- And then, they almost did it again in G.I. Joe: The Movie, with the serious wounding of Duke, including actual blood (another thing that was heavily banned in kids' animation of the time). In fact, they would have killed Duke off, except that the strong reaction to Prime's death caused Hasbro suits to get cold feet at the very last second, forcing a voice-over line in the last scene establishing that Duke was merely in a coma.
- Turning Red: The reveal that Ming's giant red panda form is Kaiju-sized.
- Harry Potter:
- A now widely-known twist from the first book: "It was Quirrell." No, the one serving Voldemort wasn't the spiteful, nasty Head of Slytherin Snape, it was the seemingly stuttering and hapless Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Quirrell.
- In the final book, Deathly Hallows, Dobby's Heroic Sacrifice/ Taking the Bullet kicked many readers right in the stomach due to how unexpected it was. Hell, many, if not all, of the deaths were metaphorical punches or kicks.
Here Lies Dobby, A Free Elf
- In Mockingjay, Prim's death most likely qualifies as the saddest moment in the series.
- For readers who came to The Riftwar Cycle by Raymond E. Feist via Betrayal at Krondor, Locklear's senseless death can be this after spending so much time with the character in the video game.
- The most well-known one from Ace Attorney is The Reveal mid-way through the second game's final case that not only is Phoenix's client actually guilty this time, he's a sociopathic Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
- Doki Doki Literature Club! has Sayori hanging herself. Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation even felt like the Interface Screw and Surreal Horror that followed couldn't match the surprise and uneasiness of this.
- Fate/stay night has at least one per route:
- Fate has The Reveal that Saber is actually a Historical Gender Flip of King Arthur. At the time, it was the only instance of a legendary or historical figure being the opposite of their recorded gender.
- Unlimited Blade Works has The Reveal of Archer's true identity: a Future Badass version of Shirou. Who also happens to want to kill him.
- Also from Unlimited Blade Works, Shirou's fight against Gilgamesh. He, a third-rate magus, challenges one of the most powerful Servants of the Nasuverse and the all-time winner of the Superpower Lottery head on...and wins.
- Heaven's Feel is more or less a solid, unbroken string of these. First, you have Sakura, previously an extremely minor character, being revealed to have a heartbreaking background, and Shinji being revealed to be an absolute monster rather than just Shirou's one-man Goldfish Poop Gang. Then you have Shirou losing his arm and getting Archer's grafted on in its place. Then, you have him curb-stomping fucking Heracles using the arm. Then, because Heaven's Feel is still not done knocking you out of your chair, you have the ending, where Shirou either projects a Wave-Motion Gun of his own accord, at the cost of his own life or beats the living shit out of Kirei with his bare hands, with Illya barely managing to save his soul in a jar at the cost of her own life.
- Super Danganronpa Another 2 has the end of Chapter 5: Danganronpa (and by extension, Fanganronpa)'s very first mass execution.
- Captain SNES: The Game Masta: In a flashback to the 8-bit days, Mother Brain has taken almost all of Captain N's power, called Omega Energy, and used it to make a pit which can defy the inherent innocence of Videoland and kill someone permanently. She initially planned to drop Lana into it, but Captain N uses the last of his power to pause time and save her. He explains that his power can't be taken so simply, as it comes from his friendship with the other characters, including his best friend Duke (a dog)...
Mother Brain: Omega energy is greater than your idiotic friendships! And I'll prove it!Captain N: Um, we already won, Mother Brain.Lana: Yeah, I think it's already been-[Mother Brain knocks Duke into the pit]
- Goblins gives us this, after undoing the comic's biggest positive moment. What makes it horrible is that's a mind-controlling leash, and the last person to make use of it raped and beat her to the point that she needed healing potions, daily.
- Homestuck's Gamzee in killing the two biggest Ensemble Dark Horse characters in the comic and later on going on to raise the Big Bad, and then mentally abusing Terezi. It's hard to find someone who doesn't want him gone.
- V The Vampire Vigilante:
- Golden Samurai captures V in order to question her on the serial killer, then shows her a picture of the heart button that Strange Girl made for V's online shop, making it seem like Strange Girl the killer...
- Golden Samurai is about to kill Strange Girl, when suddenly V realizes something: Coolgirl, who arrived to the scene moments prior, somehow knew the button that incriminates Strange Girl is a heart button despite no one mentioning that in front of her. Coolgirl is the real killer and she framed Strange Girl, and not only that, she's actually a vampire just like V!
- 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.
- Soap's elimination on Inanimate Insanity. Fans voted her off due to her jerkish behavior the previous episode or two, however in her final episode, she received some much-needed development and hints of a Heel–Face Turn, making her sendoff (and likely a few fans who voted for her) rather sad.
- In Kickassia, when The Nostalgia Critic kills Santa Christ. Santa Christ, he who reads to sick orphans, fights monsters for fun, will mend your curtains for free, and makes really good fondue. And even though the Clap Your Hands If You Believe sequence is played for laughs, Critic's broken look as he realizes what he just did will stay with you for a while.
- Suburban Knights does it again with the death of Ma-Ti. He was little more than a living Running Gag, appearing throughout multiple videos to shout "Heart!", got his butt kicked by everyone in the Brawl, and his first appearance established that he wasn't even the real Ma-Ti. But SK portrays him as The Woobie who just wants to be involved with the rest of the group, but is treated like dirt. His Heroic Sacrifice is genuinely tragic, and the Critic is crushed.
- And then in To Boldly Flee Ma-Ti has become bitter and jaded, manipulating events so that the Critic will escape the Plot Hole and leave his friends. When he wakes up in his house, he finds out that he's just a character and meets up with Doug Walker, his creator. This is when things get bad.
- The Shock Series (naturally). Filled with action that cranks up in the sudden, shocking bouts of Super-Speed.