Follow TV Tropes


Wham Line / Literature

Go To

  • The 39 Clues
    • The Black Circle: The previous four books established that there were four branches in the Cahill family: Ekaterina, Janus, Lucian, and Tomas. However, when both the front cover and book codes are deciphered, they reveal two phrases that imply that there is a fifth unknown branch.
      Remember Madeleine. (Front cover code)
      Olivia had another. (Book code)
    • The Viper's Nest: Grace's journal says that she can't listen to the music of Orlando di Lasso because it's "a sad reminder" of Hope and Arthur's branch, which is unknown to Amy and Dan. When the two have some of di Lasso's music, they find out that they belong to the aforementioned fifth and dangerous branch because of the title and the above fact.
      Mon coeur se reccomande a vous by Orlando di Lasso.
      A Madrigal, in Four Parts.
    • The Emperor's Code: Certain words have been circled in the book, and when put together in the order of appearance, it reads this:E
      Madrigals are behind everything. They lay out the path the others will walk. The end is coming.
    • Storm Warning:
    • Into the Gauntlet: Many.
      • To gain Alistair's trust, Sinead reveals that she and her brothers robbed the Ekaterina leader, Bae Oh, who is Alistair's hated uncle.
        "There's something else you might want to know. We stole Bae Oh's Clues!"
      • When Isabel is threatening the safety of Ned and Ted for Sinead's Clues, exposing both their disabilities in the process.
        Sinead: Which brother did you find hiding in my aircraft? I can't quite tell...
        Isabel Why — do you love one brother more than the other? Which cripple do you prefer?
      • If the codes in the pages and last page are solved, they form two unnerving sentences that hint at the second series.
        The Cahills aren't the only ones looking for the Clues. The Vespers are coming.
    • A King's Ransom: An acronym, to be exact. At the end, Dan receives a text message from a person believed to be Amy's and Dan's father.
      Suspend judgement. The whole story is always more complex than its parts. Wait. AJTnote 
    • Trust No One: After Amy gives Gideon's ring to the Vespers as their last offer, Atticus does some research based on the ransoms they were repeatedly given throughout the second series. The discovery horrifies him and Amy, which is this:
      "The Vespers have been stealing plans and parts to make Archimedes’ doomsday device."
    • Flashpoint: Amy has drunk the Master Serum, meaning she has about a week to live. On the sixth day, the Serum antidote is finally made, and Nellie asks Amy to roll up her sleeve in order to inject it into her. Instead, she replies "No", wanting to use her Serum abilities at the last minute, essentially throwing her life on the line to stop the Big Bad, J. Rutherford Pierce.
    • Mission Hindenburg:
      • When Hamilton muses on not being able to reach his date due to the upcoming Hindenburg disaster recreation the Outcast will orchestrate:
        Jonah: I don't think your boyfriend would be impressed by a heap of burning metal.
      • Vladmir begins to confess to Nellie and Sammy the murder of Grace's husband, revealing he still failed in his mission.
        "For the one killing I was called to do and did not."
      • After watching the news regarding the Lucian airship explosion, the Outcast opens a vault to take out a vial filled with a certain substance. This indicates that he is searching for the Clues again, for a yet-unknown purpose.
      • To hammer home the aforementioned Vladmir quote, Nellie's last lines finally tell us the Outcast's real identity: Nathaniel Hartford, aka Grace's husband.
    • Outbreak:
  • A Shilling for Candles: When Grant goes to arrest a suspect, the man goes through a nearby open door and slams it shut. Grant thinks the suspect is trying to commit suicide and spends several minutes pleading for him not to kill himself while trying to break the door down. Suddenly, the landlord comes in, hears their story, and tells Grant the door doesn't lead to a bathroom or a closet but "back stairs. For fire, you know." By that point, the suspect has escaped down the stairway and into the street.
  • Alpha and Omega: When excavating under the Temple Mount, Eric's archeological team uncovers the Ark of the Covenant. This would be a Wham Line in itself in most stories, but here, it sets up the real one, letting the reader know that this isn't just a Middle East political thriller they are reading:
    "The Ark floated two or three inches above the floor of the chamber."
  • Anathem: "In my world, we call it a Faraday cage." The first half reveals that Zh'vaern is an alien; the second reveals that the aliens are from Earth.
  • An early example in Anno Dracula, which establishes the story as a Reverse Whodunnit. The first chapter consists of an entry in John Seward's diary, recounting his murder of a vampire prostitute. In the second chapter, Inspector Lestrade visits Toynbee Hall to consult Genevieve and the director of the Hall, who goes unnamed for most of the chapter. The chapter ends with Lestrade bidding the director goodbye and finally saying his name: "Dr Seward".
  • Isaac Asimov's
    And there was a clicking and a card popped out. It was a small card. On it, in precise letters, was the answer: "I want to die."
  • In A Bad Day for Voodoo, Esmeralda the doll-maker tells Tyler and Kelley, "[Adam] add to power of doll. Make it super-magical. He Chosen One.", revealing that Adam of all people is The Chosen One.
  • Bad Kitty: Near the end of Bad Kitty Meets the Baby, when the narrator finally gets Kitty to connect to the baby. The last line gets its own page.
    The two of you have so much in common. You both like to scratch things. You both like to chew on things you shouldn't. You obviously both like to eat a lot.
    And you're both adopted.
  • Bigfoot and Littlefoot: In "The Monster Detector", Boone and Hugo are tracking a monster known as "The Green Whistler", called that because it's a green-furred creature that makes whistling noises. When they see it in Hugo's house with his grandfather, Boone asks it a question.
    Boone: What are you doing here, grandma?
  • Black Orchids: During Wolfe's summation, as he builds his case against Lewis Hewitt he abruptly stops to ask Theodore to check the door. Theodore's reply reveals that a man who just left the room is the real killer and has locked them inside.
    Theodore: I don't have to. I heard the bolt. The lower one squeaks.
  • Blindness by José Saramago: "I know you can see" (Eu sei que a senhora vê), said to the doctor's wife, who has been pretending to be blind like everyone else.
  • Blindsight has one of the most terrifying wham lines in science fiction. At first, the characters believe they're in a particularly tricky First Contact until two characters figure out the truth. The story is constructed as a report from team observer Siri Keeton. After repeating several famous quotes from Earth's history, Siri asks us to imagine what these mean from the aliens' point of view: the declaration of a virus' existence.
    Siri: There are no meaningful translations for these terms. They are needlessly recursive. They contain no usable intelligence, yet they are structured intelligently; there is no chance they could have arisen by chance. The only explanation is that something has coded nonsense in a way that poses as a useful message; only after wasting time and effort does the deception becomes apparent. The signal functions to consume the resources of a recipient for zero payoff and reduced fitness. The signal is a virus. An attack. And it's coming from right about there.
  • Borden Chantry (by Louis L'Amour) has a subtle one, which reveals the Lazy Alias of the villain (the combination of one of his old partners' first name and another's last name), with the culprit being a close friend of Borden.
    Tye Sackett: No officer named Ford Mason was known, but he answered the description of a deserter who had been involved in a bank robbery with Langdon Moore, a man named Wells, and a Charley Adams.
  • The Cemeteries of Amalo:
    • During Thara's hunt for a ghoul, he and his companions find a Too Dumb to Live prelate dead in the cemetery where he tried to catch the monster himself. Then, as he tries to determine what to do next to find the ghoul, he makes a startling observation.
      It was as I was turning away from the terrible remains of Othala Perchenzar that I realized two things. First, that the Clestenada cemetery, with its elaborate fence, did in fact make a perfect trap. Second, that this ghoul was smart enough to figure that out.
    • Two plot lines; Thara being accused of lying by a man who forged a will and the murder of a blackmailing opera singer, turn out to be connected when Thara attends the reading of the real will and learns that one of the opera singer's coworkers is due to inherit money from the dead man and thus might have been a special target of the blackmailer.
      Lawyer reading the will: And to our grandson, Tura Olora, child of our favorite child Daleno, we leave five thousand muranai.
  • From Lois McMaster Bujold's World of the Five Gods series:
    • In The Curse of Chalion, "It's Caz! It's Caz!" - Royse Bergon, revealing that he and Cazaril have met before.
    • In Paladin of Souls, "Lord Arhys, how long have you been dead?" - Ista, as a piece falls into place in the puzzle of the two brothers, and "I wasn't expecting You here." - Ista again, on suddenly encountering the Father of Winter.
    • In The Hallowed Hunt, "It wasn't your wolf" - Ijada, refusing to run away from Ingrey despite his involuntary attempts to kill her, and " are the heir of my blood, should you be living when next I die." - Earl Horseriver, in response to Ingrey's threat to kill him.
  • The Caster Chronicles:
    • The climax of Beautiful Creatures has a rapid chain of wham lines when Sarafine reveals that Lena can choose whether she'll become a light caster or a dark one, but whichever side she chooses, the half of her family aligned to the other side will die.
    Sarafine: Tonight you will not have to be Claimed, you will have to Claim yourself.
    • Beautiful Redemption has a Secret Secret-Keeper abruptly reveal in the middle of a casual conversation that she knows the protagonist is temporarily dead (which also reveals that she knows about magic).
    Aunt Mercy: What're ya doin' around here now that Ethan's gone and passed on ta one world or another?
  • Near the end of Charlotte's Web, as the fair is winding down and Wilbur talks about returning to the farm with his medal, Charlotte tells Wilbur this...
    Charlotte: I will not be going back to the barn. [...] I'm done for, Wilbur. In a day or two, I'll be dead.
  • Agatha Christie:
    • Why Didn't They Ask Evans? A man falls off a cliff, and his last words are "Why didn't they ask Evans?". Two amateur detectives, Bobby and Frankie, assume he's been murdered, and in the course of investigating, find themselves looking into the will of a man who'd committed suicide several months prior. Frankie wants to know why the man had the gardener called in to witness the will, when there was a parlormaid in the house who could have done just as well:
      Frankie: Why didn't they ask the parlormaid?
      Bobby: Funny you should ask that...The parlormaid's name was Evans.
    • And Then There Were None: After Vera, supposedly the last person left alive on the island, hangs herself, the epilogue cuts to a police inspector talking about the ten dead bodies on Soldier Island to his superior several days later. The inspector's reply to his superior regarding Vera hanging herself: "But the chair wasn't found kicked over. It was, like all the other chairs, neatly put back against the wall. That was done after Vera Claythorne's death — by someone else."
    • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: After Poirot explains everything he knows about the murderer, he then abruptly addresses the narrator... who is the actual murderer.
      Poirot: In fact - Dr. Sheppard
    • And the last line of The Witness for the Prosecution, which has already had the twist that Mrs Vole was only acting as a witness against her husband as part of a ploy to have him aquitted. The lawyer expresses his amazement that she went through all of that because she knew Mr Vole was innocent, and gets the reply "I knew - he was guilty!"
    • Crooked House — "Today I killed Grandfather."
  • American Gods:
    • One for Shadow at the very start of the book, when he returns home from prison to attend his wife's funeral and encounters one of her friends: "Your wife died with my husband's cock in her mouth, Shadow."
    • Shadow realizes the true identity of his cellmate from the beginning of the book, and thus that the gods had been aware of and manipulating him before he even became aware of their existence: "Jesus, Low-Key Lyesmith... Oh, Jesus. Loki. Loki Lie-Smith."
    • Upon the realization that Odin and Loki have created a war between the Old and New Gods: "It's a two-man con."
    • And the intended payoff from the war: "And then, as the spear arcs over the battle, I'm going to shout 'I dedicate this battle to Odin.'"
    • Not made a big deal of at the time (because the person thinking it doesn't realize the significance), but "It had amused [Mr World] to play chauffeur, in Kansas, after all" confirms the Foreshadowed identity of a major player in the game.
    • The revelation of Shadow's parentage: "Shadow found that he was completely unsurprised when he recognized the man who dances with her. He had not changed that much in thirty-three years." ("Her" is Shadow's mother. "He" is Wednesday.)
  • The Biggles short story The Last Show ends with the titular pilot shot down over German lines. He survives the crash, but is captured by German troops whose officer comments that he's been unlucky. He agrees — there was a mission that afternoon he wanted to be part of, but the German tells him that won't be happening anyway.
    "An armistice was signed half an hour ago — but, of course, you didn't know."note 
  • Crosstime Traffic: In High Places starts out as just another time-traveling adventure, although with higher stakes than usual when slavers kidnap the main character. Then, she finds out that the slavers are from her timeline and 1) are taking her away from any chance of quick rescue, and 2) are involved with something that has always seemed taboo to anyone from the home timeline. She discovers this due to a certain accessory in their basement.
    That was—could only be—a Crosstime Traffic transportation chamber.
  • The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime: "I killed Wellington, Christopher" -Ed Boone, Christopher's father.
  • Dancing Aztecs: The Gotta Catch Them All hunt for a gold statue mixed in with fifteen copies is seemingly reaching its conclusion, with just one statue left that hasn't been damaged in any way which proves it isn't real gold. The omniscient narrator then starts describing that last statue.
    To look at him, nobody would think he was at all valuable, and in fact he is not. He's the wrong one, he's made of plaster. What? That's right, he's a copy, he isn't gold at all, everybody's chasing the wrong statue. One of the sixteen statutes handed out to the Open Sports Committee is the real one, worth over a million dollars, but not this one. This one is worth twenty bucks. Someone has made a mistake.
  • In The Dragon's Path, book one of The Dagger and the Coin series, when Geder Palliako announces that it is impossible to hold the city of Vanai, the reader, along with Geder's advisers, is inclined to think that he means merely to withdraw. Then, when they ask him if that is his intent, he says, "No, we're going to burn it." Up until then, Geder had seemed an entirely likable, sympathetic character. Then you realize he is capable of ordering the slaughter of an entire city out of pique.
  • Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt Adventures: In The Mediterranean Caper, hero Dirk Pitt is seemingly held captive by villain, who is believed to be an apolitical German veteran named Bruno von Till. The utter Smug Snake, von Till, mocks Pitt for failing to stop his drug smuggling and Pitt has nothing.
    Pitt: Well, I guess you just can't win them all, can you...Admiral Heibert?
    Von Till: What...What did you call me?
    Pitt: Admiral Erich Heibert. Commander of Nazi Germany's transportation fleet. Fanatical follower of Adolf Hitler. And brother of Kurt Heibert, the World War I flying ace.
  • Discworld:
    • In Maskerade:
      • Granny Weatherwax pokes a hole in The Alibi.
      Life's not neat! Whoever said there's only one Ghost?
      • Just before that, when a suspect's innocence is revealed.
      Andre: I...hang around in dark places looking for trouble.
      Granny: Really? There's a nasty name for people like that.
      Andre: Yes, it's policeman.
    • In The Fifth Elephant, Ideas Taster Dee caps off the Motive Rant about the nature of their Evil Plan, with a Villainous Breakdown tirade about openly female dwarves:
      Dee: How can you be king and allow this? Everywhere they are doing it and you do nothing! Why should they be allowed to do this?
      Dee: I can't!
    • In Night Watch Discworld, we get this chilling one from Carcer.
      Carcer: I got three knives, Mister Vimes.
    • Thud! contains perhaps the biggest in the series.
    • In Going Postal, Moist is talking with Adora Belle Dearheart about his position as Postmaster and Adora brings back up again the fact that the last four people appointed Postmaster died tragically soon after.
      Moist: Well yes, it used to be pretty bad in the old days.
      Adora Belle: Old days? Last month was old days?
    • In Monstrous Regiment, showing just how far a certain trope goes in the Borogravian army:
      Jackrum: Shall I tell the truth today... Janet?
    • Feet of Clay:
      • As Obviously Evil as Dragon King of Arms is, it's possible not to understand either his villainy or his plot until the scene where several nobles are discussing Nobby's potential as a Puppet King.
      First noble: Dragon did well. I don't suppose the little tit really is an Earl by any chance?
      Second noble: Don't be silly.
      • Dragon's involvement in the murders (as opposed to merely plotting to install a Puppet King) is confirmed with a later wham line when Angua picks up on some signs at another villain's workplace and asks:
      Angua: Who's the vampire?
    • Unseen Academicals drops a single word (and one wholly unexpected in the Discworld): ORC.
  • In the web-novel Domina, the Composer is finally temporarily defeated (again), everyone has powers, the screamers have awoken, and then someone who looks exactly like the Composer walks through the city gates. "Hello. I am here to negotiate the release of my sister. Take me to your leader."
  • Dortmunder: In Don't Ask, Dortunder is captured robbing the diplomatic residence of Votskojek (a fictional Balkan state). He is seemingly flown to Vostkojek to be interrogated. Several chapters later, he escapes, and tries to flee to Votskojek's hated neighbor, Tsergvoia, which he has been told is only a few miles away. Dortmunder waves down a farmer on the first road he finds and cautiously asks if he's in Tsergovia or Votskojek. The farmer's reply reveals that Dortmunder's captors never took him out of the U.S., and have been playing him for a fool.
    Farmer: (In English): I don't know them towns.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Blood Rites: Thomas shows Harry a room with portraits of all the women who have borne a child for Lord Raith, and Harry is shocked when the last of them is of his mother, Margaret LeFay Dresden.
      Thomas: Not yours, Harry. Our mother.
    • Proven Guilty: Harry puts the pieces together and confronts Charity Carpenter about the secret she's been hiding from her whole family.
      "Charity... how long has it been since you've used your magic?"
    • Small Favor:
      • Our heroes figure out who the Denarians are really targeting: "They're coming for Ivy!"
      • Michael, having noticed that Harry's been acting a bit strange recently, has a question for him: "Where is your blasting rod?"
    • Changes:
      • The first line is one for the series as a whole: "I picked up the phone and Susan Rodriguez said, 'They've got our daughter.'" Even whammier in context, particularly for Harry, as he hadn't been previously aware of said daughter's existence.
      • Perhaps one of the whammiest, halfway through the book, from Harry, after falling off a ladder when trying to rescue people when his house is set on fire: "I can't feel my legs." This is then followed up a few chapters later, with Harry calling on someone to help him: "Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, Queen of the Winter Court! I bid you come forth!"
      • A line whose whamminess resulted in fist-pumping during the Battle of Chichén Itza: "It was the Grey Council. The Grey Council!"
    • Ghost Story: Molly has an admission for Harry.
      "They've been like this since they killed you."
    • Cold Days: The Winter Queen has an order for her new Knight:
      Mab: Kill my daughter. Kill Maeve.
  • In Spanish teenage novel ...en un lugar llamado Tierra: "Briar". The person that says this uses it to prove a high-ranking robot that he knows the victim (another robot) discovered Earth and committed suicide rather than let humanity destroy the planet again.
  • In the Hugo Award winning short story "Even the Queen" by Connie Willis, a young woman joins a cult called "the Cyclists", much to the distress of her family. They spend a lot of time discussing whether the Cyclists brainwash people, how she is ruining her life and whether they should accept her choice as an adult or try to do something about it; but for several pages they never say what the Cyclists are, until the following exchange:
    Mother: The Cyclists do not ride bicycles.
    Twidge: They menstruate.
  • Eileen: "This isn't my house, Eileen. This is the Polk house. I have Rita Polk tied up downstairs."
  • The Empirium Trilogy: During the ambush at the Jubilee in Kingsbane, Eliana sees Simon standing on the beach when she notices something... off:
    "He had retrieved his gun and was shouting something at the angels still on the shore. Not in Venteran, nor in the common tongue, but in one of the angelic languages. [...] Lissar. He was speaking Lissar. And the angels on the shore were listening to him."
  • Esther Diamond
    • Disappearing Nightly has several characters try to remember details about the (disguised) Big Bad. What they remember points right toward the Big Good's lisping apprentice.
    Delilah: He had just about the most pronounced speech impediment I've ever heard.
    • In Doppelgänger, Max, Esther and Lucky meet Johnny Be Good Gambello, a witness to the appearance of one of the eponymous Doppelgänger sightings. Right after he leaves, Esther gets a call from Detective Lopez, who says he'll have to miss their date due to work.
    Lopez: Johnny Be Good Gambello was just found dead.
    Esther: What?
    Lopez: Yeah, they just fished him out of the east river. The initial estimate is that he’s been dead for twenty-four hours.
    • Vamparazzi establishes there are three kinds of vampires: hereditary Lithuanian vampires who help govern the magical world, blood-crazed undead vampires, and people who drink the blood of undead vampires and aren't always dangerous but can get Drunk on the Dark Side. When Max and Esther are discussing several vampire attacks, Esther's agent, Thack (who's spent four books seeming like an Innocent Bystander) walks into the room. As a mortified Esther tries to come up with an excuse for their conversation, Thack reveals that he understands what they're talking about all too well.
    Thack: Does it mean anything to you, Dr. Zadok, when I tell you that I’m...Lithuanian?"
  • Everything, Everything: Madeline is Delicate and Sickly with a disease that makes her so susceptible to illness, she can't even leave her house without risking death. She's spent the first eighteen years of her life inside her germ-proofed home, being cared for by her mother — not happy with her situation, but resigned to it. Then comes the chapter "For Your Eyes Only," which is a Wham Episode all around. A doctor Madeline met briefly sends her an email about her health, and Madeline gets a slowly creeping Oh, Crap! feeling as she reads it. She doesn't believe what she's reading at first, but slowly, pieces fall into place... but it's the reaction of her mother that clinches it, both for Madeline and the reader. Madeline then realizes, "I'm not sick. And I never have been."
  • Ex-Heroes:
    • The heroes discover that the leader of the street gang menacing their territory is a sentient zombie called Peasy (formerly known as Rodney Casares), who brags about being on the news. There is a Mass "Oh, Crap!" reaction once they figure out that he's calling himself PZ and not Peasy and then grasp what that's short for.
    Regenerator: Patient Zero.
    Stealth: When we were discussing the recon mission, you said you have had the virus hanging over you for two years. You were bitten less than fifteen months ago ... The first definite sighting of an ex-human was twenty-two months ago. An unidentified woman assaulted a group of Seventeens in a parking lot. The attack that infected Rodney Casares. Your wife died two years ago, didn't she, Regenerator?
  • The False Memory trilogy has a Spot the Imposter moment:
  • Forbidden: Lochan and Maya have just consummated their incestuous relationship, and are finally feeling at peace with themselves. And then comes the last line of the chapter, which sends everything straight to hell:
    Then, from the doorway, comes a shattering scream.
  • From the Five Nights at Freddy's novel trilogy:
    • From The Silver Eyes, Charlie asks John what the people of Hurricane thought of her father...only to get an entirely different response than she was expecting:
      John: Some people thought he did itnote , yeah.
    • In the climactic scene of The Twisted Ones, Charlie finally confronts William Afton / Springtrap head-on and demands to know why he decided to kill her twin brother Sammy all those years ago. William's response is basically the last thing anyone could have expected:
      William: I didn't take him. I took you.
      • Also from The Twisted Ones, the final line of the story. Just as it seems that Charlie has miraculously survived her death at the hands of Twisted Freddy and reunited with her friends, John drops this bombshell:
        John: That's not Charlie.
    • From The Fourth Closet, as John and Jessica are hiding from the fake Charlie in Jen's house, John makes a shocking discovery in a chest:
      John: Jessica.
      Jessica: What, John? I'm trying to listen.
      John: It''s Charlie. In the chest.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: Fazbear Frights has quite a few, courtesy of its anthology format:
    • In "The New Kid", Devon, Mick, and Kelsey are exploring what can be presumed to be an abandoned Freddy's location. By this point, half the story has gone by and the audience is no closer to knowing who the animatronic villain of the story will be. And then Kelsey opens a closet, and this one line of dialogue instantly clues everyone familiar with the games to exactly what is about to happen:
      Kelsey reached for the arm of the human-size yellow bear standing in front of them.
    • At the very end of "Bunny Call", Bob and his family are at breakfast after Bob- unbeknownst to his family- spent a big chunk of the previous night fighting off the camp mascot Ralpho from getting into the cabin. The camp owner, Evan, stands up and begins to make a speech, starting off by saying he has to make an apology to anyone who signed up for the Bunny Call service...but what he actually says leaves the story on an eerie note as Bob is left to wonder what really tried to get inside last night:
      Evan: The Bunny Calls couldn't be done this morning because the counselor who usually does Bunny Calls overslept. Ralpho wasn't able to make his rounds today.
    • One of the first lines in "In the Flesh" has the reveal of game designer Matt's new project...while in the process completely shattering the audience's perception of the setting in which the story takes place:
      [Matt] had landed the role of creating and refining the AI in Springtrap's Revenge, a new cutting-edge virtual reality game that was to be the next installment in the popular Five Nights at Freddy's series.
  • In The Girl from the Miracles District, when Robin is near death and Nikita, right after her bout of berserkerism, is close by, he utters a sentence that invalidates his whole backstory as provided until nownote :
    "I haven't felt that smell in two hundred years..."
  • The Giver: At some point The Giver mentions that there used to be another receiver named Rosemary. She was given sweet memories most of the time, but when she started to get the really painful memories, she asked to be released. After she died, her memories were let out, and there was chaos. Only with The Giver's help did people return to their normal lives. Later on, you also learn that The Giver has a daughter. Jonas, eager to help, asked what her name was. The reply? "Her name was Rosemary."
  • Gormenghast: Steerpike shouting out "And the twins will make it five" while in a feverish delirium is the real beginning of the other characters' suspicion of him and his motives.
  • A war report in Grent's Fall:
    King Osbert: And the others?
    Soldier: Oh great king, there are no others. We [nineteen soldiers] are all that's left of General Hicks's division [5,000 strong, out of 20,000].
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:
      • Harry enters the final chamber, he realizes that the person attempting to steal the Stone isn't who he thought it was.
        It wasn't Snape. It wasn't even Voldemort. It was Quirrell.
      • Another line from the same chapter, putting a past sabotage in a different light.
        Quirrell: No. I tried to kill you. Your friend Miss Granger accidentally knocked me over as she rushed to set fire to Snape at that Quidditch match. She broke my eye contact with you. Another few seconds and I’d have got you off that broom. I’d have managed it before then if Snape hadn’t been muttering a countercurse, trying to save you.
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
      • Harry overhears some adults mention that his father was best friends with the (supposedly) traitorous and insane murderer Sirius Black. This is especially uncomfortable for Harry since he only knew about Black because he conspired to kill Harry's parents, so to find out he used to be one of their greatest friends is to make Black more personally sinister than any of Potter's earlier foes.
        Madame Rosmerta: Quite the double act, Sirius Black and James Potter!
      • The climax of the book goes completely off the expected rails when Professor Lupin and Sirius Black accuse the absolute last being anyone would expect of being the evil mastermind.
        Lupin: Do you think I could have a look at the rat?
        Ron: What? What's Scabbers got to do with it?
        Lupin: Everything. [...] He's a wizard.
        Black: An Animagus by the name of Peter Pettigrew.
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Harry barely escapes the Big Bad alive and is quickly taken aside by one of his most trusted mentors. However, the mentor reveals that he, not any of the many Red Herrings littered around, was The Mole for the Big Bad despite having spent his whole life fighting the forces of darkness. After that sentence, everything the audience assumed about Moody is revealed to be wrong.
      Harry: Karkaroff's gone? But then... he didn't put my name in that goblet?
      Moody: No. No, he didn't. It was I who did that.
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
      • After Harry and Dudley are attacked by dementors, their Crazy Cat Lady neighbor Miss Figg walks up. Already certain that he's in trouble for using magic outside of Hogwarts even considering that his life was in danger, Harry starts to hide his wand, but then Miss Figg says, "Don't put it away, idiot boy! What if there are more of them around? Oh, I'm going to kill Mundungus Fletcher!" Turns out she's a Squib (a witch or wizard born without the ability to use magic) and one of Dumbledore's agents keeping an eye on him while he's been stuck at Privet Drive. Keep in mind, Miss Figg was introduced in the first book and this is the first time she's had any dialogue.
      • Aunt Petunia knows more about the wizarding world than she'd like to admit. Afterwards, she claps her hand to her mouth in shock at herself, as if she'd just uttered the worst profanity ever imagined.
        Uncle Vernon: And what the ruddy hell are dementors?
        Aunt Petunia: They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban.
    • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:
      • Trelawney is casually explaining to Harry the circumstances of her job interview with Dumbledore, which unbeknownst to her was the moment when she made the prophecy about Harry and Voldemort; Harry and the reader both know that the meeting was being spied on by a Death Eater who was caught in the act and missed half of the message, but the identity of that spy had not been revealed...until this exact moment:
        Trelawney: ...but then we were rudely interrupted by Severus Snape!
      • When Dumbledore finally talks down Draco to lower his wand and surrender, Snape makes a surprise appearance, and as Harry decides to warn him about the Death Eaters, Dumbledore begins pleading...
        Snape: AVADA KEDAVRA!
      • And then near the end, once Snape kills Dumbledore and attemps a Villain: Exit, Stage Left, Harry forces Snape into a quick duel, with Harry using the spells he learnt from the Prince's book...
        Snape: You dare use my own spells against me, Potter?
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
      • The characters are celebrating a wedding in a brief rest from their war to stop the Dark Lord from overthrowing the Ministry of Magic. Then a magical warning in ten words announces that, while our heroes were resting, the bad guys have won seven chapters into the book and are going to use their newfound tyrannical power to hunt down the heroes. Instead of being a war story, The Deathly Hallows becomes a desperate Fugitive Arc.
        Patronus Messenger: The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming.
      • As Harry reviews Snape's memory, he comes across an exchange between Dumbledore and Snape, which explains his connection with Voldemort and the location of one his Horcruxes.
        Dumbledore: Tell (Harry) that on the night Lord Voldemort tried to kill him, when Lily cast her own life between them as a shield, the Killing Curse rebounded upon Lord Voldemort, and a fragment of Voldemort’s soul was blasted apart from the whole, and latched itself onto the only living soul left in that collapsed building. Part of Lord Voldemort lives inside Harry, and it is that which gives him the power of speech with snakes, and a connection with Lord Voldemort’s mind that he has never understood. And while that fragment of soul, unmissed by Voldemort, remains attached to and protected by Harry, Lord Voldemort cannot die.
      • As the final battle draws to a close, Harry explains the nature of the flaw in Dumbledore's plan, as well as the reason why Voldemort can't control his wand.
        Harry: The true master of the Elder Wand was Draco Malfoy.
  • The Help: "That was horrifying even to me." To explain, this is the moment when you realize that Skeeter is a segregationist.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Ford, who for context has been stuck on Earth and out of contact with his friends and family for the last fifteen years, is in the middle of introducing Arthur to "[his] semi-cousin Zaphod who shares three of the same mothers as me" when Arthur interrupts with a rather annoyed, "We've met."
    When you're cruising down the road in the fast lane and you lazily sail past a few hard driving cars and are feeling pretty pleased with yourself and then accidentally change down from fourth to first instead of third, thus making your engine leap out of your bonnet in a rather ugly mess, it tends to throw you off your stride in much the same way that this remark threw Ford Prefect off his.
  • Holes: "My real name is Hector Zeroni." This family connection to a previous character is a case of Dramatic Irony—the reader gets why this is important, but neither Stanley nor Hector ever do.
  • Holmes on the Range: Like most mystery stories, the series has quite a few twists and villains revealed with startling lines, but a few stand out.
    • In the first book, when Big Red shows several other characters the body of a villain he's just killed and Lady Clara lets out a shriek and starts crying, with it being revealed that the dead man is her secret husband.
    Big Red: That's Perkins, the VR's manager.
    Brackwell: No, it's not. It's Nathaniel Horne.
    • In On the Wrong Track, Old Red gives a summation to his brother and Tagalong Kid Kip, while admitting that there are still a few missing pieces in his reconstruction of the crime. Excited at being able to help close the case, Kip reveals that he knows something that Old Red has overlooked. "Something that would explain everything." Kip is the real killer, which he demonstrates by pulling a gun on them and gloating about how smart and ruthless he's been as he prepares to close the case by killing them.
    Kip: Sorry, fellers. I can't have you messin' with that gold. I was hoping' I wouldn't have to do this, but..well...
    • In The Crack and the Lens, the brothers discover Old Red's Soiled Dove fiancee wasn't killed in a robbery or a simple crime of passion five years earlier when they arrange a meeting with one of her old coworkers, who freaks out when they surprise her.
    Old Red: Who'd you think we were, anyway?
    Squirrel Tooth Annie: I thought it was my time to go. Like Adeline. And the others.
    • The villain of "The Crack in The Lens'' is revealed when Old Red takes notice of some missing photographs.
    Old Red: I'm talkin' about the man who took 'em.
    Old Red: Good God, Otto—don't you see how it all fits together? They're the same man.
  • The Hunger Games:
    "Katniss, there is no District Twelve." Bam! End of the second book!
    "Because she's here with me."
    • A Fake Pregnancy In-Universe Take That, Audience! line: "...if it weren't for the baby." Different contexts out of and in-universe, but still a wham moment either way.
    • "Under the new rule, both tributes from the same district will be declared winners if they are the last two alive."
      • And then: "The earlier revision has been revoked."
    • Th set-up for the 3rd Quarter Quell Gladiator Games.
    "The male and female tributes will be reaped from the existing pool of victors."
    "My lips are just forming his name when his fingers lock around my throat."
    • Resident Mr. Fanservice Finnick confesses his deepest, darkest secret, and in doing so reveals that even former Victors of the Hunger Games are not safe from Snow's wrath:
    "President Snow used to sell me... my body, that is."
    • Several unexpected deaths:
      • And then he drives the spear through her chest. The psychotic Tribute Marvel murders sweet little Rue.
      • Triggering the bomb that blows off his legs. Reasonable Authority Figure Commander Boggs steps on a land mine.
      • And then the second round of parachute [bomb]s goes off. Katniss' beloved little sister Prim ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
      • And President Coin drops from the balcony. Dead. Katniss' solution to her aforementioned discovery that Coin is just as bad as Snow.
  • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream: After the shocking scene of Ted Mercy Killing the rest of the cast to save them from AM, he gives us this line, letting the readers know that the entire story had already happened a long time ago, and leading into The Reveal of what became of Ted after that. (Hint: we named a trope after it.)
    Ted: Some hundred years may have passed. I don't know.
  • In Jorge Luis Borges' "The Immortal", a Roman soldier goes looking for the Fountain of Immortality. His journey - across hostile lands only inhabited by mindless and speechless troglodytes - is for naught: the City of Immortals he finds is an abandoned, incomprehensible labyrinth in the middle of nowhere. And just as the protagonist has lost all hopes, a troglodyte recites a line from The Odyssey. When asked how much more he knows of it, he answers "Not much - it's been more than eleven hundred years since I wrote it."
  • The Invisible Man: At first, it is not impossible for the reader to sympathize with Griffin, despite his being a Jerkass, because he seems driven to his worse actions by the suspicion and mistreatment of the rural provincials. Then he reveals himself to be more horrible than anything before had indicated when, in a single line, he admits he stole from his elderly father and led him to kill himself.
    "I robbed the old man—robbed my father. The money was not his, and he shot himself."
  • In I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001, Lucas sees his doctor after suffering his third concussion since starting to play football, and his doctor tells him about the long-term effects of repeated football. Lucas asks how many concussions is too many, and the doctor says that in his opinion, three in two years is too many. A moment later, he gets to the point- he wants Lucas to stop playing football.
  • James Bond
    • After a lenghty speech about the greatest criminal undertaking ever, Goldfinger reveals what exactly is his Evil Plan:
      Goldfinger: Mr. Bond, we are going to empty Fort Knox.
    • Role of Honour has two: First the reveal whom Dr. Joe Antem Holy is working with ("Our principals are a group who call themselves SPECTRE") and the second one comes when the supposed Evil Plan is put to action, the novel's real Big Bad tells how it is really going to go down ("You didn't think we were really going to allow the Soviet Union to suffer the indignity of being stripped of her assets as well?").
  • John Dies at the End: For most of the last third of the book, Dave has a dead body wrapped in a tarp and stored in his shed, with no idea who it is and no memory of killing them. At the very end of the story, he returns home to find Amy standing in his shednote  with the body unwrapped at her feet.
    "And that was the second thing: The body on the floor was me."
    • In the framing device, Dave is telling this story to Arnie Blondestone, a journalist with an interest in publishing it. When Dave warns him of the dangerous attention this could bring his way, Arnie assures him that he can hold his own, and relates a story of being assaulted by skinheads at a segregation rally. However, Dave notices something off about his story:
      "They-they called you 'nigger'? Even though you're white?"
      • This leads him to realize that Arnie is actually a ghost, whose appearance is based on what Dave expected him to look like.
  • Layer Cake: The narrator listens to a tape that initially seems to feature his boss Jimmy bribing a cop for information, then shows that Jimmy is selling information to the cop. The end of the tape even has him contemptuously attempt to sell out the narrator.
    Detective Inspector Albie Carter: [T]here's only so much in those informer funds.
  • L.A. Confidential has one of the whammiest of Wham Lines: "Captain Dudley Liam Smith for the Nite Owl." Notable for being whammy not because we didn't know who the villain was, but because Exley, Vincennes, and White putting it all together and saying it out loud is so powerful. As Ed says, they're crossing the only man on Earth more dangerous than Ed himself.
  • In The Last Ship, the Soviet captain informs Thomas of his hometown. The city that Thomas nuked:
    “Where is your home, Captain?”
    “Insofar as I have one—Charleston, South Carolina.”
    He smiled softly. “I’ve seen it—through a periscope.”
    “A place called Orel. You probably never heard of it.”
    My heart skipped a beat.
  • From Liar (2009), a single line in Micah's narration shifts the genre from a mundane drama to fantasy.
    "I am a werewolf."
  • In one chapter of Shirley Jackson's family comedy Life Among the Savages, her son Laurie, a new kindergartener, is constantly telling stories about a mischievous classmate Charles whose inventively naughty behavior fascinates both parents. The narrator sets out for her first parent-teacher conference eager to meet Charles' mother. The teacher remarks that Laurie has had some trouble adjusting and his mother blames it on Charles' influence. The teacher is confused and makes it clear Charles' horrible actions were Laurie's the whole time.
    "Charles? We don't have a Charles in this class."
  • Looking for Alaska: The second half of the book, "After", opens with the Dean delivering some very bad news to the students of Culver Creek that turns the book into a long struggle with mortality.
    Mr. "The Eagle" Starnes: Last night, Alaska Young was in a terrible accident. And she was killed. Alaska has passed away.
  • Love That Dog:
    "blue car
    splattered with mud
    speeding down the road"
  • The Mad Scientists' Club: "The Secret of the Old Cannon" ends on a seemingly supernatural note when Henry offers Elmer Pridgeon a photo that his camera relay took and he assumes is of Elmer, only for Elmer to deny that he was present when the photo was taken while commenting that the image is "a durned good likeness of my daddy" (who also spent a lot of time lurking near the cannon and has been dead for many years).
  • The Mark of the Dragonfly: Anna gets a cut on her arm and Piper goes to see it. Until this, she was thought to be completely human.
  • The works of H. P. Lovecraft contain a few:
    • In Pickman's Model, we discover what made Pickman's horrific paintings of ghouls so lifelike:
      "Well - that paper wasn't a photograph of any background, after all. What it showed was simply the monstrous being he was painting on that awful canvas. It was the model he was using- and its background was merely the wall of the cellar studio in minute detail. But by God, Eliot, it was a photograph from life!"
    • And lest we forget this one from The Statement Of Randolph Carter, as Carter desperately attempts to contact Warren, who he has been communicating with over a telephone wire while he investigates a tomb, after several minutes of radio silence.
      "You fool, Warren is dead!"
  • "The Midas Plague" begins with what appears to be a wealthy protagonist marrying a woman from a much poorer family, to the foreboding of her parents. After months of extravagant Conspicuous Consumption, during which she has to be persuaded to buy jewelry and go to the opera, the protagonist's wife finally exclaims "I'm tired of being poor!" It turns out that "poor" in this setting means buying and using the over-produced commodities of this Post-Scarcity Economy, while "rich" means being able to opt out of it.
  • Mistborn:
    • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy: Book 2, The Well of Ascension, quoting the etching that Sazed has been studying the entire book... except that there are tiny differences between the etching and Sazed's copy.
      Kwaan: Alendi must not reach the Well of Ascension... for he must not release the thing that is imprisoned there.
      • And when Vin goes to the Well and does exactly what she shouldn't, releasing its power:
        Ruin: I am free!
    • Wax and Wayne:
      • In Shadows of Self, Paalm (a shapeshifting kandra) digs up the bones of Wax's wife. He is enraged, and puts her in a situation where her only choice is suicide. She then says something that only his wife would know, and he realizes she was a kandra all along.
        Lessie: You're... you're as surprising as a... dancing donkey, Mister Cravat.
      • The Bands of Mourning: The Southerns tell of a "Sovereign", their God-Emperor from centuries ago, who was king and god of the Northerners first. Wax and the others quickly realize they're talking about the Lord Ruler, Rashek, though they can't imagine how he survived the events of the original trilogy. At the end of the book, Wax finds a coppermind memory of the Sovereign's, and hears the first word he spoke to the Southern elders. He also sees some very distinctive scars on his arms...
        Kelsier: Survive.
  • Meg Langslow Mysteries: Aside from the obligatory Once an Episode surprise reveal about the identities of murderers and other criminals, "The Penguin Who Knew Too Much," has this gem, when Dr. Blake explains his suspicious behavior of taking Meg and her dad's wineglasses.
    Dr. Blake: I did want your DNA. I want to compare it with mine.
  • Naughty: Nine Tales of Christmas Crime:
    • In "Humbug", it first starts becoming clear that the Bob Cratchitt in this story is very different from the saintly Family Man version of the character in A Christmas Carol when a constable recalling details about his homelife says "Small flat, no kids."
    • In "Naiveté," the Reptile learns how the cops found out about his church burglary when they take him past a nearby Nativity scene and he sees that it isn't occupied by department store dummies but a youth group in costumes who were acting out the scene and were able to call 911.
    Up close, he could see that the manger wasn't small at all. It was nearly life-size. Which was appropriate, since the figures milling about around it were alive.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • The Power of Three arc was thought to focus on Squirrelflight and Brambleclaw's three kits. Then it's revealed that this was not the case.
      Squirrelflight: They are not my kits.
    • Sunrise: After most of the book was spent looking for Ashfur's killer, Leafpool is talking to one of the protagonists, Hollyleaf, who has shown no indication of knowing who the murderer is. Then comes this:
      Leafpool: You don't have to worry. I will never tell any cat. But please tell me why you did it.
      Hollyleaf: Did what?
      Leafpool: Why did you kill Ashfur?
  • A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift starts out as a rather dull essay about the problem of widespread childhood poverty in Ireland (then a rather poorly treated possession of the United Kingdom). Then the speaker of the essay casually includes a sentence that makes it clear he's proposing cannibalism, exposing the whole essay as a bitter satire rather than an actual proposal.
    "A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled..."
  • Moon Base Alpha: The first book alone has five lines that make a big impact in-universe and on the readers.
    • After Dash talks about how he overheard Dr. Holtz talking about a phone call, his new friend checks this out and then get back to him. Holtz wasn't really on the phone. Instead, Zan was telepathically communicating with him and he was talking out loud.
    Kira: Well, I tried, but .... there's no record of Dr. Holtz making a call at two thirty that night. In fact, there's no record of anyone making a call at any time around then.
    • The nature of the discovery Dr. Holtz was working on when he died is revealed by an audio recording.
    Dr. Holtz: [I've identified an alien life form.
    • The Reveal about who the Big Bad is is discerned through re-watching a video where someone is talking in American sign-language. In a Virtual Blunder, the computer initially said that Dr. Holtz was saying "Earth killed me." Actually, he was spelling out someone's name.
    Dash That wasn't an E, was it?
    Dash's Mom: No.
    Dash Was it a G?
    Dash's Mom: Dr. Holtz wasn't spelling "earth". He was spelling "Garth."
    • Immediately after the third Wham Line, the adults look around for that person.
    Nina: Computer, where is Garth Grisan right now?
    Computer: Dismantling the main air lock.
    Everyone gasps in alarm.
    • After the culprit's capture, Dash figures out a loose end and goes to visit a mysterious investigator who no one else knows anything about.
    Dash: Tell me. What planet are you from.
  • Moriarty has two such lines.
    • The narrator is revealed to be Evil All Along when he abruptly turns on the heroic Inspector Jones at the end of the penultimate chapter.
    I turned to Jones, said "I'm sorry", then I shot him in the head.
    • The narrator reveals himself to be Professor Moriarty (who has seemingly been a Posthumous Character) in the opening paragraph of the last chapter.
    Chase/Moriarty: It is perhaps a matter of interpretation but there is all the difference in the world, for example between "I am Frederick Chase" and "Let me tell you my name is Frederick Chase" which I remember typing on the very first page. Did I say that the body on the slab in Meiringen was James Moriarty? No. I merely stated, quite accurately, that it was the name written on the label attached to the dead man's wrist.
  • In The Mouse Watch, Bernie gives the team's Robot Buddy Candroid a chance to show off his Ludicrous Precision. In the process, the bot offhandedly makes a reveal that changes the direction of the story.
    Bernie: How many R.A.T.S. operatives are there in the world?
    Candroid: One million three hundred thousand four hundred and six. Not including the one currently on the premises.
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society: The Big Bad Mr. Curtain has one towards the end, revealing the extent of the improvements to his Whisperer machine, that it has recently been made capable of brainsweeping people (erasing their memories) even if they aren't seated in it.
    Mr. Curtain: Obviously, Reynard, you were unaware of the extent of my improvements. You needn't be seated in my lovely Whisperer to experience its most powerful effect. In this room you are all quite within range.
  • The Neverending Story: As reading the titular book, Bastian comes upon the next line: "skooB dlO rednaeroK darnoK lraK." That's when he realizes his story is part of the very book he's reading.
  • Arthur C. Clarke's short story The Nine Billion Names of God: A religious group has hired a computer and two technicians to compute and print out the nine billion names of God, which they believe is the purpose of the universe. The technicians decide to leave a bit before the computer is scheduled to finish, to avoid any unpleasantness when the world fails to end. Only he glimpses upwards and tersely notes that all the worlds are ending.
    "...overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out."
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four:
    • Julia slips Winston a note, and he fears what it might contain, such as an order to kill himself. It says "I love you," the polar opposite of what the novel would have the reader expect.
    • At the end of Part 2, Winston and Julia are enjoying their company, and believe that they might be able to hold out for a few more years at least. They repeat a phrase that has been with them for their entire relationship, "We are the dead" — only for an iron voice that doesn't belong to either of them to say "You are the dead." With this, both lovers realize that there was a hidden telescreen in their hiding place all along and that the Thought Police are coming to get them.
    • O'Brien: "They got me a long time ago." With these words, Winston finds out that his and Julia's supposed ally was never on their side, and is a dyed-in-the-wool agent of the Inner Party.
  • One of Us is Lying: When the Bayview Four, minus Nate, get together to solve the mystery, they go over old posts from the person claiming to be the murderer. They're puzzled by one post claiming to have seen one of the detectives eat an entire box of doughnuts by himself, because that never happened. But Addy told Jake it did.
    • When Bronwyn finds one of the people involved in the rearending that made the teacher leave the room, he reveals that he and the other guy were paid to do it... by Simon.
    • In the sequel, Phoebe and Emma are going through the chat logs to find proof that someone besides Emma was communicating with Jared after Emma called off the plan. They find some changes in grammar supporting this: so far so good. But then they find another mistake: "bazaar" instead of "bizarre". The same mistake their little brother made earlier.
  • The short story "The Outsider" by H. P. Lovecraft is a monologue by an isolated, lonely protagonist who longs for human company. The Wham occurs at the end of his monologue, the final line of the story where he explains how he discover he was a ghoul not a human being.
    I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my fingers to the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass.
  • Our Chemical Hearts is a book that has a lot of twists and turns, but what is arguably the biggest wham comes at the end, with the line "Before you were born, Mom left Dad for, like, three months," spoken to the lead character Henry by his older sister Sadie. She then goes on to reveal that their parents' Sickeningly Sweethearts marriage, which has in turn given Henry an idealized view of love that has caused most of his relationships to fail, is actually a nearly two-decade-long sham they were putting on for his sake - they'd fallen out of love long ago, but were forced back together by an unexpected pregnancy (that is, Henry) and have been keeping up the charade ever since.
  • Pariah: Toward the end of the book, Beta asks Deathrow—a cybernetic street thug who works for Eisenhorn, and has saved her life on several occasions—who he really is. His response, “I am Alpharius”, means nothing to Beta, but to the reader it reveals that Deathrow is really a Chaos Space Marine of the Alpha Legion, and throws Eisenhorn’s allegiances into question.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
    • "Kiss the prettiest girl in the room." Charlie is drunkenly dared this by his best friend Patrick at a party, and, having No Social Skills, chooses his longtime crush Sam over his current girlfriend Mary Elizabeth, setting up the big Third-Act Misunderstanding.
    • At the end of the book, everyone has made up again, Charlie and Sam have revealed their feelings to each other, and they attempt to have sex, only for Charlie to panic and faint. We had up until this point assumed that Charlie's childhood trauma was the death of his favorite aunt on his birthday, but as he sleeps he has a very, very vivid dream about said aunt... "And she was doing what Sam was doing." Yup, Charlie's aunt was not Too Good for This Sinful Earth, but the traumatic instigator of his hitherto unknown Rape as Backstory.
  • In The Prometheus Crisis, a nuclear power plant starts to have a meltdown, threatening its California town. The narrative is broken at various points to show the "testimony" from a Congressional inquiry into the event, with it hung in the air how something major happened. In the final scene of the regular narrative, one of the plant's managers, thinking it's all contained, mentions to a co-worker how he's going to visit his brother in Santa Monica. She just stares before asking "no one's told you?" The final page has a radar operative at LAX telling the Congressmen how the plan to cut off the cloud of radiation didn't work as expected and by the time it was finally sealed off, the cloud had already spread out.
    Congressman: It covered the entire Los Angeles basin then.
    Operator: Yes, Congressman. Eventually, it did.
  • The Queen's Thief: In the first book, main character Gen seems to be an overconfident commoner who is recruited because of his bragging that he can steal anything. Then, after he and the group he's in are captured and brought to the royal court of Eddis, this is the queen's reaction, revealing that she already knows him:
    Eddis: Oh. It's you, Eugenides.
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan's The Red Tree, a book replete with Mind Screw, about half of which consists of the reaction of two women living in a farmhouse to very disquieting, seemingly supernatural phenomena and their mutual slow Sanity Slippage, has this one at the very end. It does not look like much... until one pays attention to the dates given for each of Sarah's journal entries.
    Sarah: No one’s been in the attic since I was up there in June.
  • Rachel Griffin: In The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, revealing to the heroine that all her efforts so far have only just scratched the surface of the conspiracy and that there are many, many more still affected by it:
    Through the woods leading to the Infirmary, a little porcelain doll walked of its own accord, dragging the unconscious Magdalene Chase.
  • In the early stages of The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., Melisandre begins to take the strange woman who messages her claiming to be a witch much more seriously when the woman name-drops multiple things she couldn't possibly know about.
    Melisandre: [over online messenger] Sorry. Will be with you tomorrow evening.
    Erszebet: Why the delay?
    Melisandre: Technical difficulties.
    Erszebet: With the ODEC?
    Tristan: [reading over Mel's shoulder] Jesus. Who is she? Tell her you can't discuss it online. [Mel does so]
    Erszebet: Will you come with your Mr. Tristan Lyons?
  • The Rise of Kyoshi:
    But she was too slow. And she was playing the wrong game entirely. Xu thrust his arms forward, two fingers extended from each hand, and struck her fans with a bolt of lightning.
  • Room:
    • It's early on in the book, but this line does clue us in on exactly what the relationship between Old Nick and Ma is, and Jack, who's narrating, is too young to realize what is actually going on.
      "When Old Nick creaks Bed, I listen and count fives on my fingers. Tonight it's 217 creaks. I always have to count until he makes that gaspy sound and stops."
    • Much later in the book is the revelation that Ma has tried to kill herself.
      "Then I see Ma's pill bottles open on the table, they look mostly empty. Never more than two, that's the rule, how could they be mostly empty, where did the pills go?"
    • There are two lines that are shocking to Jack, but not to the reader. "What we see on TV, is... it's pictures of real things." And later, "Oh, Jack, we're never going back."
  • Chris Crutcher's debut novel, Running Loose features a pivotal scene where the lead characters, narrator Louie Banks and his girlfriend Becky Sanders, attempt to have sex but decide not to, then confide in each other that they're both terrified of what their lives after high school will be like. Afterwards Louie's narratorial voice gets a monologue on the subject and about all the ways his and Backy's lives and relationship might go, which proceeds to abruptly conclude with the following:
    Louie Banks: Anyway, that's all rhetorical now, as they say, because Becky's not alive anymore. I mean, she'd dead. Things didn't work out.
  • Safehold:
    • Book 7, Like a Mighty Army, ends with Aivah Parsahn asking Merlin to do something impossible: get her from Siddar City to Zion and back in the span of three days. He's naturally surprised, and tells her that's impossible.
      Aivah: That's why I'm speaking to you about it... Ahbraim.
    • Book 10, Through Fiery Trials, ends with the congregation of a church dedicated to the "Archangel" Schueler getting a surprise "supernatural" visitor, who has some interesting things to say regarding Safehold's official history:
      Hologram Schueler: This is my Testimony, the Testimony of Schueler, and I leave it with you so that all who see it may know I truly appeared before you, that this is truly my word. And that word, my children, is that it was not Shan-wei who Fell, but Chihiro who lied.
  • Serge Storms: One subplot in Atomic Lobster involves a mysterious Famed In-Story Retired Badass undercover operative, Agent Foxtrot, who comes out of retirement to foil a terrorist plot. The epilogue of the book has a recurring character, stay-at-home mom turned empty nester Martha Davenport, the wife of resident Butt-Monkey Jim Davenport call someone on an encrypted satellite phone and say "This is Foxtrot."
  • Sky Jumpers: When Hope, Aaren, Brenna, and Brock reach the town of Browning, Brock takes them to a seemingly random house in the town. When the person answering the door sees who's there, the following line is uttered.
    "Mom, Estie, Stephen, Max! It's Brock! Brock's home!"
  • Three at Wolfe's Door: Wolfe starts with four suspects in ''Man Alive": Bernard Daumery, Polly Zarella, Henry Demarest, and Ward Roper. Demarest is the first one Wolfe asks for an alibi, and his reply reveals that all four suspects have an airtight alibi and the killer is someone else.]
    Demarest: Last evening, Tuesday, Mr. Daumery, Miss Zarella, and Mr. Roper dined with me in a restaurant, and then we all went to Mr. Daumery's apartment to continue our discussion. Mr. Roper wanted a new contract. My wife was with us. We were together continuously, all five of us, from half-past seven to well after midnight.
  • WondLa: For the majority of the first book, Eva has believed she is on an alien planet called Orbona. Then she finds some ancient ruins...
  • The Skulduggery Pleasant series has a few. Most obviously, both of the most influential villains in the series have their true identities revealed this way:
    • The very last line of Dark Days where Valkyrie says her her True Name aloud, outing herself as Darquesse, the woman who prophesies say will end the world.
    • In Last Stand of Dead Men, the last line of the chapter "The Man with the Golden Eyes", where the reader suddenly realises they've never been given a detailed description of Erskine Ravel's face until now. With three words, the chapter establishes that the golden-eyed Hidden Agenda Villain is really the leader of the heroes and most powerful mage, Ravel himself.
      "Those golden eyes."
  • "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty seems only to be an account of a sniper duel, only for the last line of the story to reveal that the rival sniper our protagonist killed was in fact his brother, turning the story into a warning about the folly and evil of war.
    "Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother's face."
  • Throughout The Soddit, the narrative appears to be following mostly the same pattern as The Hobbit - albeit interspersed with plenty of comedy and parody. However, the rug is neatly yanked out from under both the audience and Bingo when it's finally revealed why the dwarfs are still carting around the senile and increasingly-useless Gandef. In one short sentence, we learn that the dwarves aren't seeking Smug the Dragon to kill him, but to seek his help in guiding Gandef through his metamorphosis into, well...
    "He's turning," said Mori in a low voice, "into a dragon, look you."
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • A Game of Thrones: After Bronn and Tyrion leave the Eyrie behind, Tyrion tells Bronn about how his first love was a whore hired by his brother to give him experience. As punishment for marrying her, their father gives her to his guards, letting Tyrion go last.
      Bronn: Thirteen or thirty, I would've killed the man who did that to me.
      Tyrion: You may still get your chance. A Lannister always repays his debts.
      • Joffrey overruling his council's plans and going through with the execution of Ned Stark:
        Joffrey: But they have the soft hearts of women. So long as I am your king, treason shall not go unpunished. Ser Ilyn, bring me his head!
      • While Robb's war council debates which king to swear fealty to, Greatjon Umber decides that Robb would be best.
        Greatjon Umber: There sits the only king I mean to bow my knee to, m'lords, the King in the North!
      • After the eggs hatch.
        ...and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.
    • A Clash of Kings:
    • A Storm of Swords:
    • A Feast for Crows: The new High Septon appears to be completely loyal to Cersei, but then when she prepares to leave Baelor's Sept after plotting their latest scheme, she denies her and craters their alliance in the bluntest way possible.
      High Septon: No.
      • Arya learning the price of breaking the Faceless Men's rules:
        The next day when she woke up she was blind.
      • When winter finally comes:
        It was snow, drifting through the window.
      • Doran revealing his true objective:
        Doran Martell: Vengeance. Justice. Fire and blood.
    • A Dance with Dragons:
      • Ramsay's letter to Jon Snow, which claims that a major character died offscreen.
        Ramsay Bolton: Your false king is dead.
  • Spells, Swords, & Stealth:
    • At the end of the second book, when Cheri suggests Russell look into who created the SS&S modules he's grown concerned about after events in the first book, he sees that the manufacturer's name is Broken Bridge Publishing. Russell makes no comment about this name and the previously encounter in-game artifact called the Bridge but the narration in Split the Party notes he might've gone pale had he noticed a reference to it in his group's current quest.
    • In the second book, Timuscor adopted a boar that had been summoned by a wizard ally but never disappeared when it was supposed to. Later, when Thistle refers Mr. Peppers while speaking to his god, Grumble is confused. He explains that he'd been keeping tabs on Thistle's party and never once saw a boar.
    • The climax of the third book goes into full swing when Russell's group joins the battle in Rathgan's treasure hoard alongside the NPC protagonists and are introduced to Timuscor, Tim's character from the first book. Tim and Russell, the only two who were part of that first game, are in utter shock at the sight of that particular name in the module book.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    Lorn Pavan: Thank you ... Senator Palpatine.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • From a Certain Point of View, a title for the series 40th anniversary, had one in it's preview. One that really throws canon into a tizzy and flips an ancient question of the fandom.
      Obi-Wan: I want you to train young Skywalker.
      Yoda: Yes.
      Obi-Wan: You agree so quickly.
      Yoda: Long have I wanted to train her.
    • Star Wars: The Rising Storm: Marchion Ro's quest to find out which of the Tempest Runners betrayed his father and mortally wounded him in a treacherous attack takes on an entirely new light with the flashback showing Asgar Ro's final moments.
    In life, Asgar had never treated his son with kindness, never treated him with respect. It was somewhat fitting that, bleeding out in his quarters, he was forced to beg that same son for help. Ro hadn't even crouched down, standing over his father. "Who did this to you?" Blood had spilled from Asgar's mouth as he replied "I...I don't know." "A shame," Ro has said. "That at least would have been useful." The first kick had dislocated the dying man's jaw; the second had fractured his cheek. The third had probably killed him, but there was no way to be sure. As for the fourth and the fifth and the sixth and the seventh, well, they'd just been for fun.
  • Station Eleven: The Reveal about the lethality of The Plague.
    Of all of them there at the bar that night, the bartender was the one who survived the longest. He died three weeks later on the road out of the city.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • From The Way of Kings (2010):
      • Sylphrena: "I am honorspren." The reason she's attracted to Kaladin, the reason she keeps pushing him to help people, the secret of the powers the Knights Radiant held... all revealed three words.
      • Shallan: "I killed my father." Her house's troubles and her role in them suddenly take on a whole new turn, now that we know that this shy girl is a killer and the source of so much pain.
      • Kaladin: "I will protect those who cannot protect themselves." The Second Ideal of the Windrunners, marking the return of the Knights Radiant to the world after thousands of years—and granting Kaladin the power to fight off most of the Parshendi army to save his men.
        Moash: Something just changed. The world just shifted.
      • Honor: "I am... I was God. The one you call the Almighty, the creator of mankind... And now I am dead. Odium has killed me. I am sorry." Dalinar has been hoping his visions were a message from God, sent to help and guide him. They are, but they are posthumous, an Apocalyptic Log made in a last desperate attempt to save mankind. There is no god coming to help them.
      • Jasnah: "We didn't destroy the Voidbringers. We enslaved them." Explaining the origins of the Slave Race Parshmen—and more specifically, pointing out that there is an army of demons acting as sleeper agents across the entire world.
    • From Words of Radiance:
      • Kaladin: "I will protect even those that I hate, if it is right." Third Ideal of the Windrunners. The Words revive Syl, who not only returns to Kaladin his Surgebinding powers—healing his wounds—but transforms into a Shardblade.
      • Kaladin: "You sent him to the sky to die, assassin, but the sky and the winds are mine. I claim them, as I now claim your life." Kaladin, flying down from the sky, revealing his status as a Windrunner of the Knights Radiant—and the only person who can fight the Assassin in White.
      • Adolin: "My father thinks I'm a better man than he is. Unfortunately for you, he's wrong." Adolin rejects the redemption built up for him with these words and confirms his coming murder of Sadeas.
      • Shallan: "There is something wrong with your Blade, and with all Blades. [pause] All but mine. Pattern!" Shallan not only officially reveals her status as a Knight Radiant to everyone, but reveals her living Shardblade—and uses it to activate the Oathgate and save the army.
      • Nightblood: "Hello! Would you like to destroy some evil today?" For readers less familiar with The Cosmere, it's easy to miss most worldhoppers as they're not explicitly named as such. But Talking Weapon Nightblood has such distinct speech patterns he's instantly recognizable to anyone who's read Warbreaker and very explicitly indicates to readers who may not have picked up on it that this series will have a lot of Cosmere lore.
    • From Oathbringer:
      • "Beware the otherworlders. The traitors. Those with tongues of sweetness, but with minds that lust for blood. Do not take them in. Do not give them succor. Well were they named Voidbringers, for they brought the void. The empty pit that sucks in emotion. A new god. Their god. These Voidbringers know no songs. They cannot hear Roshar, and where they go, they bring silence. They look soft, with no shell, but they are hard. They have but one heart, and it cannot ever live." The Eila Stele, the oldest written record on Roshar, revealing that humans were the first Voidbringers, invading the world of the parsh and bringing Odium with them.
      • Odium: "I need someone stronger than Amaram. A man who will win no matter the cost. A man who has served me all his life. A man I trust. I believe I warned you that I knew you'd make the right decision. And now here we are." Here, Dalinar agrees to a Combat by Champion with Odium... and Odium names Dalinar as his champion.
      • Dalinar: "You cannot have my pain." With this line Dalinar refusing to give Odium his pain—and his agency—accepting responsibility for all he has done, and resolving to fight against Odium regardless.
  • The Stephen King short story "Strawberry Spring" has the narrator recall a serial killer that struck his college during a strawberry spring after reading in a newspaper that the killer has returned with a new strawberry spring 20 years later. The final lines then flip the story entirely on its head, revealing it to be a confession.
  • Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note: In the anime adaptation, expect the third episode of every arc to contain at least one of them. However, among those the straightest example would be the one in the twelveth novel The Backyard Knows, animated as Episode 11. Up to this point, while the rest of the cast have been concerned about Uesugi's recent performance drop and withdrawal from from their activities, they assume it as a problem of time management. Only when he comes to Aya's house to say farewell he incidentally blurbs out the real reason for his own behavior.
    Uesugi: I can't see.
  • The Troublemaker: The captain's status as a former king of New Cornwall is revealed when he explains that once Sneat retires "The people will respect him, and whenever he's on the planet he'll have full honors and the courtesy title of 'Your Highness.'" The narrator then recalls how New Cornwall's people had held a big welcoming ceremony for the captain and referred to him as "Your Highness," which everyone has assumed was merely a local custom for greeting ship captains.
  • Under Heaven: Shen Tai receives a gift of horses, known as "dragon" or "heavenly" horses as a gesture of respect, due to his work burying bodies on a battlefield. Narration mentions that having even four is enough for deadly jealousy. The letter informing him of the gift says he is to receive two hundred and fifty. It's enough to have even the emperor make plans around Shen Tai's trip back to the capital.
  • La Vita Nuova: The second line of Chapter 28 abruptly announces that Beatrice is with the Virgin Mary in Heaven, dead before Dante could ever express his love to her face. The entire course of the Vita Nuova and of the poet's life shifts in accordance with this single sentence.
  • Twice in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, both of which inform Miles Vorkosigan that one of his patriarchal relatives has died (and he has inherited a title and the attendant responsibilities as a result):
    • The Warrior's Apprentice: "Lord Vorkosigan, sir?"
    • Cryoburn: "Count Vorkosigan, sir?"
  • The second book of Watchers of the Throne has the protagonists running themselves ragged trying to prevent a coup that would take power away from Guilliman (who's been on the space bus since early chapters). Once the coup is foiled, the very last line of the book reveals who organized it: Guilliman himself.
    Valoris: You may tell him, in that case, that all is well on Terra. You may tell him that all unfolds according to his designs.
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin: The penultimate chapter, where Eva narrates the Thursday that Kevin committed the massacre at the school. She reveals that, after witnessing Kevin surrender to the police, she came home to discover Kevin had killed Franklin and Celia before going to the school. Until this moment, it seemed that Eva and Franklin had divorced, Franklin had taken custody of Celia (neither Franklin nor Eva could get custody of Kevin because he was imprisoned for murder), they hadn't spoken since the massacre, and she was writing letters trying to talk to him about it. Franklin did decide to divorce, but Kevin murdered him and Celia before the proceedings could finish.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • "By the way, that dress you are wearing is green." In one of the bigger Reveals in the series, one of the longest-standing "Good" characters, a member of a group that is physically blocked from telling outright lies, unmasks herself as a member of a different faction entirely.
  • Where the Crawdads Sing: The second to last page has Tate reading a poem that Kya wrote and realizing from its content that she really did lure Chase Andrews into the fire tower and push him out the door (a crime for which she was acquitted of earlier in the novel).
    Luring him was as easy/ as flashing valentines. /But like a lady firefly/ they hid a secret call to die. /A final touch, /unfinished; /The last step, a trap. /deep, down he falls, /his eyes still holding mine /until they see another world. /I saw them change. /First a question, / Then an answer, / Finally an end. / And love itself passing / To whatever it was before it began.
  • The Women's Room: Val's speech to Mira, which makes Mira realise just how much Val has changed, and how there is no turning back for her anymore:
    "Whatever they may be in public life, whatever their relations with men, in their relations with women, all men are rapists, and that's all they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws and their codes."
    • And from Mira: "I don't want another child, Ben." This signals the end of their relationship. Ben has assumed that Mira will go to Africa with him and have his baby, and not only is Mira angry with Ben for taking her for granted, but she realises she has spent so long thinking of other people's needs and wants, but not her own.
    She felt as if she had taken a drug, or were dying, and was pressed against some terrible wall where only basic truths could be uttered, and found hers, and it horrified her, it was, I am, I am, I am. And the second basic truth came right after the first, the way the lower part of a wave follows the upper: I want, I want, I want. And in the next second, she realised that these were two statements that she had never felt permitted to utter, or even to think.
    • "Mira. I just heard. Val's dead."
  • Worm:
    • At the end of Prey 14.8, Bonesaw, who is impersonating Tattletale, drops an Out-of-Character Alert line that Skitter doesn't recognize because of the prosopagnosia fog. Fortunately, the reader recognizes it enough to learn that that essential character is not who he says he is.
    • Later, in Scarab 25.5, Doctor Mother, leader and founder of Cauldron drops another one in response to Weaver calling her out on her crimes:
      Weaver: You know how the world ends.
      Doctor Mother: Of course. We already saved it once.
    • Another one (all four words of Interlude 27b): "You needed worthy opponents." Casts doubt on everything you thought you knew, or didn't know, about the Endbringers.
  • Zombie Apocalypse! by Simon Jones is pretty much made of this trope (and others). For an example: the first segment is a letter from a man to his mother, which seems to show the beginning of the titular occurrence. Two-thirds of the way through, we discover what we thought was a pre-disaster segment is being written during the disaster; the mother he was writing to has been dead for years; and as soon as the letter is finished he's going to go down to his zombie wife and burn the house down around the two of them. The letter cuts out mid-sentence, and we are told by a coda that it was recovered from a laptop whose battery ran out, which itself was recovered from the ruins of a burnt-down house months after the fact.
  • The Zodiac Series: In the climax of Black Moon, the last person you'd expect says the last thing you'd expect.