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Shocking Moments

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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.

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It can also be caused by an uninvited Jump Scare.

Often done by the creators to Win the Crowd or win it back. If a shocking moment is a single memorable scene, it could even become a work's Signature Scene.

It can overlap with a Shocking Swerve if done poorly 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.

However, No Real Life Examples, Please! In addition, as a Moments page involving moments that you don't see coming, all spoilers are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!


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Examples:

Anime and Manga

Fan Works

Western Animation

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    Advertising 
  • On January 22, 2019, 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.

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • 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: 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.
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    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Avengers (2012): Hulk punching out a Leviathan and stopping it dead in its tracks.
  • 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. Then there's a Time Skip of 5 years.
    • Prime timeline Nebula shooting 2014 Nebula. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • Captain America wielding Mjölnir properly in this film.
    • Captain Marvel no-selling a direct headbutt from Thanos. And then Thanos sending Captain Marvel flying with one Power Stone-infused punch.
    • 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.
  • David Copperfield: If you haven't read the book, the reveal that Mr. Heep is the bad guy will hit you like a ton of bricks! Especially since not only was he Evil All Along, his entire personality was a lie'!
  • 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 was 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, as the real Sharon was. 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 Wars:
    • A New Hope: The opening shot. The Tantive IV flies past the camera, exchanging fire with something behind it...and it's shortly followed by a massive ship that just keeps coming.
    • The Empire Strikes Back: "No. I am your father." It's an It Was His Sled now, but at the time, it was incredibly shocking and kept so thoroughly under wraps that not even David Prowse (the actor who wore Darth Vader's suit) knew about it in filming!

    Live-Action TV 
  • A Christmas Carol (2019): The opening scene where Marley's grave is peed on. That alone should let you know just how dark this adaptation is. And that's not getting into Scrooge's sister wielding a gun against Scrooge's headmaster.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Name of the Doctor": John Hurt unexpectedly appears in a place he shouldn't be, and then turns to face the camera as an on-screen credit informs us who he's playing: a previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor.
    • "Spyfall": The first part became legendary within a day of its premiere for its jaw-dropping cliffhanger featuring the utterly unexpected return of The Master. The second part followed suit by revealing the Master had destroyed Gallifrey due to an Awful Truth involving the "Timeless Child".
    • "Fugitive of the Judoon": Fan-favourite character Captain Jack Harkness unexpectedly returned over a decade after his last appearance on the show. And this was only the second-biggest surprise of the episode, the biggest being the jaw-dropping reveal of the fugitive's true identity (which shall not be listed here due to its spoiler-tastic nature).
  • Kamen Rider Zero-One reveals a new, evil Kamen Rider that's horribly strong and wipes the floor with every other Rider present. No-one is sure who it is, until the transformation drops, revealing the person under the armour. That person's name? Aruto Hiden. The poor guy has gone totally off the deep end after Horobi murdered Is, and all it took was a little push to send the primary heroic Rider to the dark side. Worse? In a Kamen Rider first, the primary heroic Rider has turned to evil and is Not Brainwashed, meaning that Aruto is doing all of this entirely of his own accord.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): A series this bizarre, disturbing, and chock-full of Twist Endings naturally had a ton of shocking moments.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • All Elite Wrestling:
    • At the Double or Nothing rally AEW held on January 8, 2019, the company showed the biggest indicator yet that they could potentially compete with WWE on near-even footing, with the shocking arrival of a surprise signing- Chris Jericho!
    • With Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega as the first main event of AEW, most fans were probably expecting Jericho to be the face and Omega the heel. Nope, it was the other way around.
    • And then at Double or Nothing itself, they somehow managed to top themselves with the surprise appearance of JON FUCKING MOXLEY!note 
    • A smaller but still amazing return is AWESOME KONG returning to the ring after a three-year absence.
    • AEW also stunned the Double or Nothing crowd and fans watching at home with the cameo of Bret Hart, who introduced the AEW World Championship belt.
    • Fyter Fest saw the return of Shawn Spears (the former Tye Dillinger), immediately introducing himself to AEW with a high-five. And by that we mean with a chair. To the back of Cody's head. This revived the debate about unprotected chair shots in wrestling (not helped by Cody being busted open hardway due to a botch with how the chair was gimmicked), but it can't be said that it didn't cause a reaction. Even the AEW crowd, who were probably primed to see something very not-WWE, had no idea what to make of it.
  • WWE:
    • Brock Lesnar:
      • Not only is he ungodly strong, but he made use of a couple of moves in WWE that guys his size have NO business using. Very early in his career,note  one of Lesnar's finishing moves was a SHOOTING STAR PRESS. This is him in developmental, circa 2001.
      • HE ENDED THE STREAK CLEANLY.
      • Lesnar's freakish physique and jaw-dropping accomplishments have led to him being referred to as some sort of bear-devouring manbeast. It's not without reason.
      Seanbaby: There aren't enough Coors Lights in The Mandalay Bay Events Center to drop a Brock Lesnar after it's made a fresh kill.
      • It's not uncommon on the internet to see Lesnar (whose shoot-fighter-esque gimmick, if it can be called that, is about as down-to-earth and grounded in realism as one could find in the world of pro wrestling) spoken of as less a human being or even an animal and more a force of nature.
      • After their abysmal match at WM XX over a decade before, the bar for his rematch with Goldberg at Survivor Series 2016 was already pretty low. However, it being a Squash Match was one thing, for Lesnar to be on the receiving end of such was quite the moment to say the least.
    • The week before Survivor Series 2018, Becky Lynch led the SmackDown women's roster in a raid onto their Raw counterparts; in the ensuing brawl, Lynch took a punch to the face from Nia Jax that resulted in legitimate facial fractures and a concussion. Becky proceeded to completely No-Sell it and continued beating the living hell out of Ronda Rousey, all while blood poured from her nose, leading to the iconic image of Becky on the arena steps telling the Raw women's roster to Bring It. And in that moment, she became the most over wrestler (no, not most over woman. Most over wrestler) in WWE, and arguably the biggest since Daniel Bryan during the build-up to WrestleMania XXX.
    • WrestleMania:
      • Of course, the end of The Undertaker's then-undefeated streak at WrestleMania XXX.
      • Between Roman Reigns challenging Brock Lesnar for the WWE title, and Sting wrestling his first WWE match, the last thing on people's minds at WrestleMania 31 was Seth Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase and winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
      • Most people were aware that Ronda Rousey was going to be attending WrestleMania 31. Nobody knew she was going to be involved in an angle.
      • Shane McMahon going up to the top of the Hell in a Cell against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 32. Several minutes of "What is he doing?" reactions from the fans watching him ascend the cage was one thing, but seeing Shane make the Sign of the Cross on himself before trying to an elbow drop on a downed Undertaker, who got out of the way stunned everybody.
    • Royal Rumble:
      • 2008 saw nearly everyone peg Triple H as the winner, and with no other major stars expected to enter by #30, it was safe to say he'd do so. Expecting another midcarder or jobber to take the final spot, safe to say Madison Square Garden and the audience in general weren't expecting John Cena (who mind you was sidelined a couple of months ago due to an injury he was expected to fully recover from after WrestleMania at the very least) to come in, as if he was never injured in the first place.
      • The Men's Rumble in 2020 saw Brock Lesnar enter at #1, and as expected, he dominated from the start and was seen as at least making the Final Four. So to say the fans were shocked and elated at him being eliminated by Drew McIntyre midway through the match was an understatement.
      • And yet the above moment was overshadowed just a few minutes later, when after nearly a decade of retirement due to a Career-Ending Injury that many saw as permanent, Edge entered, looking like he never left the business and delivering spears left and right like in his prime. Yes, there had been rumors going on for weeks that he would be making a comeback, but even with that knowledge, the Houston crowd lost their shit.

    Video Games 
  • Cytus II had one of its most shocking plot twists upon levelling Crystal PuNK to 25: Cherry had been wounded in a drone attack and is recovering in the Kyuu Hou Kai's intensive care unit. However, a second attack causes the power to fail, and her life support system shuts off, leading to her dying in front of her ex-boyfriend Xenon.
  • Dota 2: Icefrog is known for his bold approach to game balance: not afraid to make players cry They Changed It, Now It Sucks!, patches often massively shake up the foundation of the game, often leaving the player base in shock (whether it be positive or negative) as they read through the patch notes. But some patches have a bigger effect than others, leaving players feeling like they're looking at a whole new game:
    • Patch 7.00 blew away the playerbase with its massive changes. The UI was completely revamped, and the Talent system had huge repercussions on every single hero in the game. That's on top of many alterations to the map and the addition of the Monkey King as a new hero (the first to not be a port of a Defense of the Ancients hero).
    • Patch 7.23 elicited a similar reaction. The two new heroes, Void Spirit and Snapfire, weren't too shocking since they'd been announced months ago, but no one was prepared for the addition of 62 new and extremely powerful items which are dropped by neutral creeps. On top of that, the courier system also got completely changed, with each player having their own courier who levels up with them, gaining new abilities (such as being able to use items), the Level Cap got increased to 30 (granting heroes all of their talents at the same time at max level), new map objectives were added in the form of Outposts, and many heroes got their skills reworked.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • Fuyuki: Lev Lainur, a member of Chaldea's staff whom you had met earlier, reveals himself to be a servant of the Big Bad, and promptly kills off Chaldea's director, Olga Marie Animusphere, in one of the cruelest fashions the Nasuverse has to offer, after the protagonist had just spent the entire Singularity getting to know her and seeing through her rough exterior.
    • Septem: Lev reveals that his full name is Lev Lainur Flauros, then transforms into an Eldritch Abomination. Cue the game's first battle against a Demon God Pillar.
    • London:
      • The Big Bad behind the Singluarity is non other than Zolgen Makiri, aka Zouken Matou. Who'd have thought he'd have an express role in the Big Bad's plot?
      • The Singularity then ends with a confrontation with the Greater-Scope Villain: King Solomon. He forces you to fight four Demon God Pillars at once, and then wipes out nearly all of your allies after the battle anyway and declares that compared to him, you are less consequential than piss.
    • E Pluribus Unum: At the end, after you've returned to Chaldea HQ, Mash collapses suddenly. It turns out that she has a shortened lifespan and won't live to see past 18.
    • Camelot: At the very end, Dr. Roman manages to figure out that Bedivere, whom you've fought alongside for most of the Singularity, isn't a Servant after all, but just a human. We then learn that this Bedivere never returned Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake, and had spent the past 1500 years trying to return it to its rightful owner.
    • Babylonia:
      • Upon returning to Uruk after winning Quetzalcoatl over to their side, the protagonist is greeted by a tearful Siduri, who informs them that Gilgamesh is dead. One of the greatest heroes in human culture, and he's died of overwork. Fortunately, the protagonist is able to bring him Back from the Dead by taking a trip into The Underworld...
      • Toward the end, in the midst of their titanic struggle against Tiamat, the heroes force her into the Underworld...and who should meet them but Merlin, who was killed earlier in the Singularity. But that's not all — the old man whom you helped earlier in the Singularity reveals himself to be none other than the first Hassan-i-Sabbah. Without hesitation, he sacrifices his Grand vessel and attacks Tiamat, rendering her able to be killed.
    • Solomon:
      • It turns out that Dr. Roman is the real King Solomon, having taken on a human form after winning the Fuyuki Holy Grail War a decade earlier. He then performs a Heroic Sacrifice to bring Goetia's master plan crashing down and render him vulnerable to the protagonist.
  • 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...
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: The Reveal that the Flame Emperor, Part 1's Arc Villain, is in fact Edelgard, one of the game's three protagonists. Especially on the Blue Lions route, where it's done in a full animated cutscene, and also features Dimitri's memorably terrifying reaction.
  • MGCM: At Chapter 4 Episode 5 in the main story "The End of The Daily Life", there’s an infamous Gut Punch/Wham Episode where Kaori, one of playable magical girl heroines, dies in an agonizing way after being ambushed by a demon, and then followed by a subsequent corruption into a demon in a horrifying CG-sequence of Transformation Horror and terrified reactions from the heroines, including the male player protagonist Tobio/Omnis. The next chapters (until Chapter 6-5) are also traumatizing. Even after the first "Groundhog Day" Loop, a number of heroines are still dying in the battle in a gruesome manner, and the last one is the worst: They merely die onscreen with opened eyes and pink blood bleeding out from their dead bodies, and Tobio screams in horror and suffers a Heroic BSoD. These scenes terrify many players since the story gets suddenly dark and clashes with the vivid colorful themes and cute artstyle, even the ones who have watched Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica and Steins;Gate are scared too.
  • Super Mario Maker 2: After the first game introducing Mystery Mushrooms and them being removed in the second, fans thought there was no way they could top that. Following the update 2.0 announcement, and not only does an alternate costume appear in the form of Link, he also is his own playable character with his own playstyle using his sword, bombs, and arrows.
  • 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 "Break Free (Lead the Way)" 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 of Snake in the first trailer completely shook the series, which had up to this point been specifically about Nintendo characters. Having a third party character from a series very tonally different from usual Smash Bros. fare meant that nobody would know what to expect from the series from here on out.
      • 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 in this game, including characters nobody thought had a chance of returning. The trailer specifically shows Pichu and Young Linknote , Moveset Clones who were thought to have been cut for being redundant, and Snake, whose absence from the fourth game 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.
  • Undertale:
  • Watch Dogs: Legion's advertised ability for the player to play as every character in the game awed many a gamer.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Video 
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Princess Bubblegum and Marceline kissing in the Grand Finale. On the lips. Onscreen and uncut. In spite of what Olivia Olson said in 2014.
  • Kitbull: Some animated features and works for children do touch on animal abuse, but they usually only depict neglect onscreen, with violence being only implied or strictly off-screen. So the moment when we see the Gentle Giant pit bull being shoved outside by his owners, limp and covered in visibly bloody injuries, is one hell of a Gut Punch.
  • The Loud House: The end of "Family Bonding"! Basically, Lincoln thinks his neighbours are spies but initially you don't think much of it, since he's prone to making wild assumptions, especially if they involve sci-fi type stuff. Yet, in this episode, it turns out to be true.
  • 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.

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