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Wham Lines I Have Loved

by on January 24, 2012

Recently I got to thinking a bit bout the idea of “wham lines”. What is a wham line, you ask? According to that eminent pop-culture authority, a wham line is “a line of dialogue that radically alters a scene.” It’s a line that makes you sit up and take notice, because something very big just went down, and there’s no going back. A wham line can change the reader or viewer’s perception of what’s happening, add a whole new element of tragedy or horror or the ever-popular sentiment expressed in the words ‘Oh, crap”.  A lot of times, when you get a wham line, it means there’s not going to be a happy ending. Or, at the very least, you’re going to have to work real hard for it.  So, with that in mind, I thought I would share a few of my favorite wham lines. I will warn you, though; wham lines tend to be spoilers by definition. I’ll be covering The Hunger Games, The Last Battle, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, and Star Wars, so, if you haven’t read or seen any of these, here is your obligatory spoiler warning. If you wish to avoid spoilers, you could click over and read the latest episode in the Catrina Chronicles, as Ermingard begins a quest of her very own.  Meanwhile, on with the post!

1) The Hunger Games

“Katniss, there is no District 12”.

I read The Hunger Games trilogy over Christmas break. I read the first book in a day, I was so drawn into it. I decided to wait until the next day to start the next one. So, come morning, I began reading Catching Fire. I got to the end and…wham. I was stunned. With that one line, you know everything for Katniss has changed. Not to mention, what makes this line so whammy is that there’s still so much you don’t know. Did Prim and her mother make it out? What about all the others? What did the Capitol do to District 12? Where will Katniss go now? Can things possibly get any worse?  And of course, if you’ve read Mockingjay, you know how very much worse things do in fact get.

2) The Last Battle

“Fool and tyrant! Do you not see I am doing all I can?”

So, here’s the setup. The Last Battle is the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia, and tells the story of Narnia’s end. In one of its opening scenes, Narnia’s last king, Tirian, is hanging out with his friend Jewel the unicorn (it makes sense in context) and his other friend Roonwit the Centaur, when a Dryad shows up on their doorstep and promptly dies as her tree is cut down miles away. Before she dies, though, she gasps out a heartbreaking plea for Tirian to come to the aid of her stricken people, whose trees are being cut down just like hers. Tirian and Jewel, thoroughly enraged, charge off to take names and kick tail. They come upon Lantern Waste, the forest where, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lucy first came into Narnia. And there they see a whole mob of Calormenes busily cutting down Narnian trees. Then Tirian sees two of the Calormenes beating a horse. He assumes it’s just an ordinary horse, but then, as one of the Calormenes strikes the horse with its whip, it cries out the wham line. Tirian realizes that this is a free Talking Horse of Narnia, whereupon he and Jewel fly into a rage and kill them both. They get away, but then they’re overcome with regret and rashly decide to surrender, and things go pretty well downhill from there, until of course they all wind up in Aslan’s Country and live happily ever after. Yay!

3) Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

“And soon the boy began to share such secrets with me, secrets that are mine alone to know….Bruce.”

I actually wrote about this line back in a post I did about Batman Beyond: ROTJ, but I thought I would share it again. The Joker has just delivered this line to Batman, and right then you know things aren’t going to end like they always do, with the Joker getting arrested or dying but then coming back again. You know he’s not coming back, because now, he knows. He knows about Batman’s real identity, about his motivation, and then he turns around and makes it into a joke. Wham.

4) Star Wars

Now, I assume you expect me to lead off with the most famous Wham Line ever: Darth Vader’s classic “No, I am your father.” But c’mon; that one’s just not a wham line anymore, because everyone knows. No, my favorite wham line was really more of a wham moment, and it came in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. It’s the scene where Anakin finally gets back to his mother after years of being apart, only she dies in his arms about two seconds after he finds her, as she had been held prisoner in a Tusken Raider camp. Anakin pauses, still holding her, and then he looks up, and the ominous music starts playing, and suddenly the Tusken Raiders realize someone’s there who shouldn’t be, but its too late because Anakin’s lightsaber is out and he’s unleashing pure dark side fury on them. It’s his first real moment where you start to see how he could turn into Darth Vader. This is followed by a succession of wham moments like that throughout the next two films, culminating in Revenge of the Sith, in a wham sound effect that also has to be one of the saddest moments in film.

“Master Skywalker, there’s too many of them. What are we going to do?”


That’s probably about the moment everyone watching lost their sympathy for Anakin (if they had any). Which, if you think about it, Anakin didn’t deserve much sympathy even before he murdered the younglings.  Yes, I know, he supposedly turned to the Dark Side so he could save Padme, but I don’t think he really loved Padme. He loved being in love with Padme. He was afraid of losing her, not really because he cared about her, but because he couldn’t stand not having her anymore. He was focused on himself the whole time. On Mustafar, what does he tell Obi-Wan? “You will not take her from me!” A true Jedi would have let her go. Then again, a true Jedi wouldn’t have been there in the first place. C’est la vie.




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  1. Very cool share! Wham lines rule!

  2. I thought you were gonna start quoting Wham lyrics to us. hehehe

    Love a good wham line!

    • I don’t think I know that group. I shall add them to my “music I should listen to” list…

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