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"THAT scene in American Pie."

That one scene that everyone remembers from a movie or other media. When people think of the work, this is the one scene that they immediately think of, and may be the only reason to remember it at all. If the work is referenced in popular culture, it will reference this scene. Cover illustrations will often depict this scene. Any parodies will also center on this scene specifically.

There are many reasons that the scene may stand out. It may be...

No matter the reason, the Signature Scene is cemented in the minds of the general public. Your Mileage May Vary, as if you have actually seen the work yourself, there may be more scenes that you enjoy, or possibly stick out more in your mind than what people believe to be the Signature Scene.

Scenes which are little more than famous quotes should probably not be listed here. Those are examples of Signature Lines. Quotes do help keep a Signature Scene memorable, though.

Compare All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game", Everybody Remembers the Stripper, Watch It for the Meme, and Everybody Knows That.

Examples of Signature Scene include:


Anime

  • The "Last Shooting" scene from Mobile Suit Gundam, where Amuro uses the eponymous Mobile Suit to fire one last shot at the Zeong that ends up destroying both mecha.
    • This one is famous enough that it gets Homaged throughout the Gundam saga. In particular, Gundam F 90 recreates the scene almost exactly, while Gundam Wing has an example in The Movie that doesn't outwardly resemble the classic version but is still called "Last Shooting". Super Robot Wars got in on the homages with Z2 Hakai-hen, where the Nu Gundam's fin funnel attack ends with the Last Shooting.
  • Osaka's little moment with the knife in Azumanga Daioh.
  • Ippo's completed Dempsey Roll against Sendou at the end of the Japanese Featherweight Championship has become one of the most iconic scenes. It's had Shout Outs in games like Super Street Fighter IV and Tekken for starters.
  • Toothbrush.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, Julia getting shot, then falling to the ground in excruciating slow-mo is one of the most iconic moments in all of anime, not to mention a major Tear Jerker.
    • Bang.
      • The scene in "Ballad of Fallen Angels" where Spike throws a grenade through a shattered stained-glass window after Vicious tosses him through it.
  • Nice Boat.
  • Goku's first transformation into a Super Saiyan after Frieza pushed him too far in his cruelty from Dragonball Z.
    • Or when they realize his power level is.... greater than... 9000.
  • Rika smashing her head into a knife in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.
    • Keiichi's delusions of Rena from Onikakushi are pretty iconic too, especially the "Usoda!" and laughing scene. In fact, it's such a memorable scene, people assumed everyone in that show was an Axe Crazy person when it's clearly not the case.
  • Death Note has two candidates: Light taking a potato chip AND EATING IT, and "Exactly as planned."
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, one particular scene got so many parodies it has its own Danbooru tag: the one in episode 3 where Mami dies a gory (though only partially seen) death by devouring.
  • Spirited Away has the scene where Chihiro remembers Haku's name while riding through the air on his back.
  • Whisper of the Heart has two: Seiji's violin rendition of "Country Road" and his bike ride with Shizuku at the end.
  • One Piece has the scene where Shanks gives his straw hat to Luffy.
  • Abe Takakazu unzipping his overalls on the bench in Kuso Miso Technique.
  • Kamina's death in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
  • Fist of the North Star has Kenshiro and Shin's simultaneous jump kicking (resulting in their legs seen as crossed) during their fated duel.
  • The initial car chase to rescue Clarisse and the climatic bell tower fight in The Castle of Cagliostro.
  • Naruto: The battle between Rock Lee and Gaara, specifically the part where Lee take his weights off and flies like a shadow towards Gaara.
  • Bleach: Aizen revealing his true colours, Superman style(yes, taking off his glasses and changing his hair).
  • Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventure: Dio throwing a god-damn steam roller(in the 1993 OVA, a oil tank) on Jotaro while time is stopped at the end of the third part is by far the single most known aspect about the entire franchise.

Comic Books

 "What, are you dense? Are you retarded or something? I'm the Goddamn Batman."

Film

 Sho'nuff: Alright, Leroy, who is the one and only master?

Leroy Green: I am.

Live Action TV

Literature

Romance of the Three Kingdoms:

    • This chapter where Xiahou Dun gets shot in the eye by an arrow and eats it.


Sports

  • Ask people in Chicago, and they'll tell you that the Cubs lost the 2003 NLCS because of Steve Bartman. Forget the fact that they couldn't get an out the rest of the inning, and then lost the next game. No, it all comes down to that one play.
    • Similar with Buckner in the 1986 World Series. The Red Sox had already blown a two run lead with two outs in the 10th inning. Buckner's error allowed the third (albeit winning) run to score. The Red Sox also blew a three run lead the next game to lose the Series. Ask most people why the Red Sox lost that series though, and they'll tell you about the Buckner play.
  • Carlton Fisk waving a home run ball fair in the 1975 World Series. Of course, Boston lost the series to the Big Red Machine, one of the greater teams in history, but the Fisk home run is what people most focus on.
  • 1980 Miracle on Ice "Do you believe in miracles?! YES!" Also, the team celebrating after Eruzione's goal to take the lead.
  • The FIFA World Cup has several, almost one by edition:
    • Ghiggia's second goal at 1950. Despite a shining campaign, the defeat at home before a record-breaking attendance at the largest stadium of the world branded the players for the rest of their lives and even the team's colours: Brazil never played in complete white again.
    • Pelé's goal in the 1958 final.
    • 1966: Just guess. Ok, you may be american, so let me tell: Hurts's second goal in the finals between England and Germany never happened. Just after he scored a third goal, England's fourth, while fans were on the field, that's completely illegal as the game must be stopped. If that isn't an insult already, the great responsible for this, Tofiq Bahramov, that didn't warn the main referee about the fans and said that ball did enter, the culprit, got a statue on his home city in 2004...and Hurst was present for the ceremony.
    • 1970: Pele defines Mundane Made Awesome by giving a simple pass to the captain Carlos Alberto on the right side, who comes running out of nowhere and launches the ball like a missile towards the italian goal in the Grand Final.
    • Maradona's goal versus England in 1986, with his hand. He had the audacity of calling it "The Hand of God" later.
    • 1994: Roberto Baggio, The Best Player in the World, missing his penalty kick in the final and giving Brazil the world title after torturing five world cups.
    • 2002: Fernando Morientes's goal against South Korea being nullified, for all the wrong reasons. It is the biggest and obscene proof to certain people that the cup was rigged to get South Korea to at least the semifinals.
    • 2010: Frank Lampard's goal against Germany that entered, but it didn't. The next world cup, the implementation of goal line technology prevented any further errors like that to happen in a World Cup... and England was indirectly eliminated thanks to it.
    • 2014: The seven minutes where the host Brazil showed un-matchable incompetence and let Germany score four goals almost in sequence. The whole national team suffered an incomparable blow to its reputation, multiplied by the humiliation at home, and it's hard to tell if Brazil will ever get the respect it got through the first 100 years in its history in football/soccer again.
  • 2004 ALCS Dave Roberts stealing second base.
  • Super Bowl XLII: Quarterback Eli Manning throwing a pass after escaping a sack that was caught by third string wide receiver David Tyree against his helmet while being pulled to the ground.
    • Janet Jackson's halftime show "wardrobe malfunction"
    • For more Super Bowl goodness, there's always Scott Norwood's wide-right field goal; or Kevin Dyson coming up "One Yard Short" for the Titans.
  • The fatal crash of Dale Earnhardt
  • Pittsburgh Pirates Hall-of-Famer Bill Mazeroski was regarded as a superb second baseman; his batting was so unremarkable that it nearly cost him his chance to be in the Hall. What is he remembered for? In the Game Seven of the 1960 World Series, he cracked a walk-off home run that won his team the game and the Series.

Theatre

Video Games

Western Animation

  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice segment from Fantasia, or Night on Bald Mountain.
  • Another Disney example: The two dogs slurping spaghetti and touching their noses together in Lady and the Tramp.
  • The ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast.
  • Cinderella's dress transformation.
  • The Little Mermaid: Ariel flipping her hair back as she splashes out of the water, or else sitting on the rock with the crashing wave.
    • The song "Under the Sea" also counts.
  • The scene of Rafiki holding up baby Simba in The Lion King, and Mufasa's death.
  • The Magic Carpet ride during "A Whole New World" from Aladdin.
  • Spider-Man finds himself hanging upside-down in front of a skyscraper window, seeing his reflection with the never-before-seen black costume. The original comic didn't have it, but every version since has had it. Even Spider Girl has Mayday swinging past a building, red suit in real life and black suit in the reflection.
  • The scene from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut where Mr. Garrison catches the boys swearing in class. Also Kenny's death.
  • Death scene of Bambi's mother.
  • The entire "Married Life" segment of Up.
    • Carl floating the house away with all the balloons, while mocking the Shady Oaks people
  • In Toy Story, being introduced to Andy and Woody as the title screen comes up set to "You've Got a Friend in Me".
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender had more or less one per season:
    • The Season 1 Finale, aka Koizilla.
    • "The Tales Of Ba Sing Se" for Season 2, particularly The Tale Of Iroh, or possibly the Subversion of Zuko's long-anticipated Heel Face Turn.
    • More or less the whole series finale for season 3, but especially the Lion-Turtle, the battle between Zuko and Azula, and the music for this scene, and Energybending. "The Ember Island Players" also took what would normally be a Clip Show and turned it into a fan-favorite episode.
  • The "Hellfire" sequence of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • Titanic: The Legend Goes On has the "Party Time" song sequence.

Notes

  1. This is especially true for works that were already So Bad It's Good.
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