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  • Look no further than recorded history.
  • The onset of puberty... for better or for worse.
  • Generation-defining moments tend to be these. The most definitive can be stated in the form of "I remember where I was when [x] happened.":
    • Multinational - Death of John Lennon, fall of the Berlin wall, dissolution of the Soviet Union (at least at the time), death of Princess Diana, Chernobyl.
    • USA -- The American Civil War, the stock market crash of 1929, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Army-McCarthy hearings, the assassination of John F Kennedy, The Vietnam War, the Kent State University massacre, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the Columbine High School massacre, the Oklahoma City bombing, the 9/11 attacks, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, Hurricane Katrina, the Virginia Tech shooting, the election and Inauguration of Barack Obama, the stock market recession in 2008, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, Occupy Wall Street...
      • 9/11 especially so, at least in rhetoric. WHAM!
      • WATERGATE, WATERGATE, WATERGATE.
      • The Alger Hiss Affair during the Truman Adminstration.
    • The European Union as a Whole: the world economic crisis in the late 00s, especially in Greece and how it threatens to destroy the EU.
    • Sweden -- the murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme back in 1986. Which is still unsolved, by the way.
      • And the murder of Foreign Minister Anna Lind. Thankfully, that one got solved pretty quickly.
    • Poland -- the Smolensk plane crash.
    • Israel -- the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. After signing a peace accord with Jordan and the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, it looked as though the Arab Israeli Conflict was finally coming to an end. But at the end of a pro-Rabin demonstration attended by more than 100,000 people, he was shot in the back by a right-wing Jewish radical named Yigal Amir, who felt that Rabin had sold out his country. To this day, Amir shows no regret over what he has done.
      • Same can be said about Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, also assassinated by someone who didn't want peace in the Middle East.
    • Mexico -- the Tlatelolco massacre, the Corpus Christi massacre and the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. Pretty much anyone over 44 remembers those events (the second one being a more obscure note because not many people witnessed it).
      • Historically, Spain's Conquest in 1521, the War of Independence and the Mexican-American War have shaped not only Mexico, but the world as well.
      • More recently, The War On Drugs has shaken the entire country.
    • Australia -- the discovery of gold in Victoria, the disappearance of Prime Minister Harold Holt, the Westgate Bridge collapse, the downfall of the Whitlam government (a.k.a. "The Dismissal"), the Port Arthur massacre, the Bali bombing (where 88 Australians were murdered), the ascension of Julia Gillard to Prime Minister.
    • United Kingdom -- the Gunpowder Plot, the beheading of Charles I, the aftermath of World War One, the Blitz, Suez, the death of Princess Diana.
      • Arguably, the collapse of the Empire, though it didn't so much collapse as it did slowly devolve (some countries became independent, eventually forming the Commonwealth of Nations). If there was a single WHAM moment, then Suez would probably be it.
      • Happened too gradually to count as a WHAM moment, although the announcement that India was going independent may qualify. Enoch Powell quoted this as a life-changer; it shocked his worldview enough to begin his turn from a hardcore imperialist into a hardcore "England-first" type.
      • Bloody Sunday. Be it the actual day of the incident, or the day when the British government finally admitted that yes, our armed forces had opened fire on a peaceful protest march without provocation.
      • 7/7. 52 people dead, over 700 injured, and the whole nation realized how much of a threat terrorism was.
      • The dissolution of the News of the World, and the resignation and subsequent arrest of several senior News International executives over allegations of bribing police officers for information and illegally-accessed voicemails, including those of a murdered teenage girl.
    • France -- the Revolution, the 1917 mutiny, May 1968.
    • Russia -- Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion, the October Revolution, the Great Patriotic War, the end of Communism.
    • The Netherlands -- the North Sea flood of 1953, the Bijlmer disaster, the Enschede fireworks disaster, the assassination of politician Pim Fortuijn, Karst Tates' attack on the royal family.
    • Germany -- WW 1, WW 2, the construction of the curtain, the kneeling of Willy Brand, the fall of the wall, likely to become one: the neo-nazi murderers...
    • Philippines -- the American fleet opening fire on Manila Bay, Martial Law, the assassination of Ninoy Aquino , People Power, Maguindanao massacre, the Quirino Grandstand hostage crisis.
    • Japan -- the atomic bombs, their economic bubble bursting in the '90s, and the Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima meltdown.
    • South Africa -- the silent coup in the late '80s and subsequent unbanning of certain political organizations, culminating in the release of Nelson Mandela in 1991 and the end of The Apartheid Era. The '94 election was also sort of a turning point, but not exactly a surprise; it's the more famous date though.
    • China -- the end of the Opium Wars, the fall of the Qing Dynasty; the 4000 year old dynasty system (perhaps 5000, as new research keeps discovering new and older dynasties) comes crumbling down, and the haughty isolated country that had everything suddenly found itself far behind everyone else, and still dropping. Recently, there was a deadly earthquake there.
    • Norway -- Nazi Invasion, the Utoya summer camp massacre.
    • Belgium -- Child murderer/rapist Dutroux escapes prison, Kim De Gelder who broke into a daycare and killed multiple people.
    • Czech(oSlovakia): The Munich Conference, Prague Spring, November 17 1989, and the end of World War One, signifying freedom from Austria-Hungary (yes, some people that old still live).
    • Indonesia - 1947, Dutch military offensive upon the newly-independent Republic, initially supported by the British and the Australian, starting months-long Back From the Brink guerilla campaign. 1965, the failed Communist coup (or something, historians haven't reached a definitive conclusion) followed by Communist purge by the army, which took a staggering amount of casualties as well as the rise of Suharto to power. Oh, and the USA was involved, probably something to do with losing in Vietnam. May 12th, 1998. Four Trisakti university students sniped by the government, after a long and continuous chain of protests due to financial crisis that mutated into multi-sector crisis (sounds familiar, hm?), creating a gigantic riot enough to take down Suharto's 32 years New Order regime. Oh, and a lot of people were brutally murdered, raped, or raped-and-then-murdered. 2004 Aceh tsunami that took more than 200,000 casualties, putting the decades-long government-rebel conflicts to dramatic halt. Quite a lot of things have happened in this country...
  • The death of Michael Jackson: world-renowned singer, dancer, and overall performer, artist of the top-selling album of all time, Thriller, and the biggest name in modern music history. No two ways about it. On the same day as the the death of Farrah Fawcett.
  • The day you found this website. Admit it.
    • It takes a while for the effect to take place so not really an episode
    • Your Mileage May Vary.
    • Heck ... the day you discovered the Internet. I remember that.
  • The Soviet Union lauching the first satellite into orbit, and then the first man, slowly followed by America landing on the moon. Game. Changed.
  • The English Commonwealth. The American Revolution. The French Revolution. The Springtime of the Peoples. The Russian Revolution. The Arab Spring.
  • Among the traditional New Year midnight greetings of the Russian presidents, the one on the eve of 2000 managed to become a Wham! Episode: somehow it turned out to be Yeltsin's "I resign" speech instead.
  • Hilariously averted when Y 2 K rolled around and pretty much nothing happened.
    • Likely to be repeated once December 2012 comes along.
    • And anytime the world was supposed to end. Rinse and repeat until it is 5 billion years from now.
  • Anytime a family member/friend dies. It just serves as a reminder that you will not live forever and neither will anyone else. This is especially a Wham! Episode if you're a child.
    • Also double the Whamminess of the Episode if the family member was young.
    • Or worse, when it is intentional suicide.
      • Or murder. Or if they murdered someone else.
    • Similarly, if such deaths haven't been common, the death of a pet can serve the same purpose.
  • A baby. For better or for worse, having a child completely and totally changes your life.
  • Being born. Of course you won't remember it, but it's still one of the most important things that will ever happen to you, since it's kind of essential for it to happen if you want anything else to happen to you. Ever.
    • And, by that logic, dying. Nobody really knows what happens, and it's bound to be a surprise. Also, you probably won't know WHEN it is.
    • Along the same vein, learning you have a potentially terminal illness. Even if you make a full recovery (and many cancer and HIV patients do), the effect of facing your own mortality head-on is a life changing experience. It's a pretty big WHAM for close friends and family members as well.
    • Being born has the bonus that you probably had no clue what was going on, you were just suddenly uncomfortable and bloody and, in the majority of cases, you'd also have gotten pushed out through this really small space that was so narrow your skull had to squish to fit.
    • Can the very first episode be considered a "wham episode"?
    • Oh, the first half a year or so were only minimalist Bottle Episodes.
    • Your first words. Now that you can communicate, things will never be the same again.
  • For the Crash Bandicoot community, Activision laying off half of the Radical Entertainment staff and cancelling the highly-anticipated CB title set for 2010. No important game has come out for the series since.
  • The day your parents announced they're moving.
    • Also the day your parents announced getting divorced.
  • Enola Gay bombing Hiroshima and Bockscar bombing Nagasaki.
    • And before that, [[https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Trinity_
      • Which was a literal WHAM! and a figuratively one as well. Nobody really knew what would happen when they pushed that button and no human in history had ever seen anything remotely like that. "I have become death, the destroyer of worlds!" wasn't an inappropriate reaction.
  • Life markers; entering school, finishing school, starting classes at any university, finishing or dropping out of any university.
  • Getting proposed to or married. Both huge, game changing events.
    • Finding your girlfriend/fiancée cheating on you with your best mate.
      • Your girlfriend/fiancée revealing that she has cheated on you.
      • What about finding yout girlfriend cheating on you with your ex?
    • Finding out your long term significant other of the opposite sex to you is actually gay.
      • And on that note, the day your carefully built walls of denial come crumbling down around you, and you finally realise that you are in fact gay/bisexual.
        • Or transgender. Especially transgender, since gender generally has a bigger impact on life than sexuality, to the point where it's taken for granted for anyone who isn't trans.
      • ...That said, it's important to remember that not everyone built walls of denial up around themselves, and thus it's averted for them in an anticlimax moment in which they realise they are gay or bisexual and... nothing changes.
        • And the inverse is also a Wham Episode. You're going through your life, openly gay/bi...and then you meet someone who decides to make it clear they think that's not okay. It's downright surreal.
    • Any breakup can be, really.
  • The 2008 stock market crash, maybe even more so.
    • Sadly, there was plenty of warning about this. Even Alan Greenspan said things were getting out of hand before the crash; people just didn't want to listen.
  • One for this very wiki: On October 27, 2010, Google gave TV Tropes a sudden ultimatum: Censor every single instance of "mature themes" from the wiki or they will pull their ad support from the wiki. Considering that Google Ads plays a large role in this wiki's funding, this is a very big deal. This went down as The Google Incident, which luckily ended in a Happy Ending.
    • Actually, Google pulled the ads and then asked the wiki to censor mature contents. That's even more Whamish. Specifically, mature content didn't have to be removed, but it did have to go behind a "curtain" and those pages containing it are no longer allowed to have ads served by Google, even now.
    • And now The Second Google Incident. Whether or not the ad server will come back, things are not going to be the same.
  • The Great Crash.
  • Your first semester in college for most people.
  • Any civilisation's first exposure to foreigners they never knew existed.
The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you'd tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbours were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation was just running along nicely like a canoe on wet grass... when suddenly this bristling lump of iron appears sailless and trailing steam in the bay and these guys carrying long funny-looking sticks come ashore and announce you've just been discovered, you're all subjects of the Emperor now, he's keen on presents called tax and these bright-eyed holy men would like a word with your priests.
—Iain Banks, Excession
  • The Roman Empire, being what it was, had, for the most part, a slow decline, and if they were declining, they knew it. There are a few exceptions. One of these was the Battle of Teutoberg Forest. Three Roman legions trapped in a forest across the Rhine and slaughtered to a man. Not only did this put an end to future Roman expansion in Germania, it made Augustus have a near-nervous breakdown.
  • May 1, 2011: Osama Bin Laden is dead. Perhaps not significant in itself, but for the past 11 years...
    • Particularly notable in that The War on Terror arc has dragged on for a long time and this is the first indication since the war in Iraq that any notable progress has been made on this arc which was in danger of becoming an even longer running Kudzu Plot.
  • For Doctor Who fans, the completely unexpected death of Elisabeth Sladen (who portrayed fan-favorite companion Sarah Jane Smith) qualifies. Not even Tom Baker knew that she was dying of cancer until she passed. It doesn't help that it came on the heels of the death of Nicholas Courtney, the dear old Brigadier, earlier the same year. Doctor Who lost two of its most beloved icons within weeks of each other.
  • (This space reserved for the day we make first contact with extraterrestrials/extradimensionals, assuming such beings know we exist).
  • Any scientific discovery where previously accepted knowledge is thrown out the window.
    • Heliocentricity comes to mind.
    • 1974: The discovery of Lucy.
    • Velociraptors were covered in feathers.
    • The discovery, by mathematics, of what light is.
  • The 2011 Canadian Elections were this for Canada. In every election the country's had, the major players were the Liberals and the Conservatives, with BQ coming in third and NDP and Green sitting in the back. But come 2011, most of that changed. Support for the NDP skyrocketed, and was dubbed "The Orange Wave." They managed to beat out many Liberals (enough that their leader resigned), and they dominated in Quebec, causing both the BQ leader to resign, and the loss of the BQ's official party status. [1] Now the Conservatives are in first place, NDP are in second, and the Liberals are in third.
    • And after that, Jack Layton, who almost singlehandedly brought about the NDP's hugest election success in history, died of cancer four months after the election.
    • The 1993 election was this long before 2011. The cozy two-party system that the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives had built up came crashing down and, while the Liberals would hold a majority government for the next ten years, the eastern-focused Progressive Conservatives went from holding power to losing official party status, being replaced by the Alberta-based Reform Party. They would win a paltry 20 seats in 1997 and 2000 before being absorbed into a new Reform-dominated Conservative Party in 2003. Meanwhile, the Official Opposition after 1993 was the Quebec separatist Bloc Quebecois, who would place no worse than third until 2011. While regionalism had been on the rise for over a decade before, 1993 was the Wham! Episode of Canadian politics and set the stage for the next 8 years.
  • Discovering you have cancer.
  • If you're from Boston, the Carol Stuart murder, and also the murder of Jeffrey Curley.
  • The Arab Spring, when the oppressed fully rose against their totalitarian government, by performing mass protests. Three dictators (Ben Ali for Tunisia; Hosni Mubarak for Egypt; Muhamar Gaddafi for Libya) were ousted, with an all-out civil war in Libya finishing within a year. Others had concessions and cabinet changes by governments, uprisings in others, sustained civil disobedience and brutal crackdowns on the protesters.
  • Late 1939: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are now allies.
    • Mid 1941: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are now enemies.
  • Automobiles are prone to this trope too. The 2012 Volkswagen Golf (Golf Mk VII), which has had a totally radical redesign as shown here. Automotive enthusiasts were not pleased, particularly as the choice of 5-cylinder and V6 petrol engines (a USP in the family car class) was gone, and the styling was anodyne.. The Volkswagen Golf, was, and still remains, a benchmark in the mid-size family car class that rivals are judged against. It's safe to say, the fans and consumers are not pleased. Time will tell if this is Vindicated by History or not, but this was said 20 years ago about the MkIII at launch, too.
    • Taking it a step further, the lack of a three-door hatchback version for the Ford Focus (ironic, considering how three-door models sell well in Asia and Australasia, where the "hoon" trend is in. Plus the fact Ford no longer offered the 2.0-litre 4-cylinder in Europe, an engine that has long been popular with buyers; instead a downsized 1.6 turbo was available to replace the 2.0.
  • The Japanese general election of 2009 was this for Japan. For almost 64 years since the end of World War II, the Liberal Democratic Party (actually quite conservative) had won every election held (though there was an 11-month period where the LDP lost power to a coalition of various leftist parties) with solid majorities, and the other parties sitting in the opposition. Come 2009, however, that all changed. The Democratic Party's seat count skyrocketed, reaching gains of 195 and a total of 308. The LDP, meanwhile, lost a total of 177 seats, and were ultimately left with 119, a devastating loss.
  • The birth of your younger sibling. Whether you love them or hate them, you'll never again be the only apple of your parent's eye.
  • Megaupload's seizure by the US government and the resulting fallout.
  • An episode in the making, but the 2011 Scottish Election, when the SNP managed to get a majority government (using a system where this is supposedly impossible) could count. One of the Scottish National Party's flagship policies is to break up the union between Scotland and England, and they now have the power to create a referendum to this effect. This depends on a lot of factors, not least of which is Scotland voting yes, but it is entirely possible that within the next few years, the United Kingdom may cease to exist. Or not, depending on your point of view.
  • For Baseball fans, game 7 of the 2001 World Series, particularly the end. First Randy Johnson comes out of the bullpen after starting the day before, but that was nothing compared to the bottom of the 9th. The Diamondbacks staged a Miracle Rally against the seemingly unbeatable Mariano Rivera and made it look easy. To this day it's still Rivera's only loss in the postseason.
  • For hockey fans, the summer of 2011 was a massive blow to the sport. It started with the questionable deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak. All three were battling with depression and addiction. Boodgard's death was especially scrutinized, as it was eventually discovered that he had brain damage caused by his role as an enforcer. But the final blow was dealt just as the season was about to being when the plane carrying the KHL team Lokomotiv crashed, killing almost everyone on board.
  • The launch of Auto Trader magazine in the United Kingdom was this for car advertising over there.
    • Plus the re-branding of all magazines (known as Motor Mart etc.) to Auto Trader in 1988
    • Then the 1991 redesign, and 1994 redesign, and the new-look 1997 edition, which indexed automobiles by make and model, and finally, from 2000-2001 onwards, the real Wham! Episode...
    • The launch of Ireland and Northern Ireland editions in 1995, and full-colour editions from 2002.
    • The change from saddle-stitched to perfect-bound in 2000 was one such example of a change to the magazine.
    • As of mid-2012, the biggest change was being reduced to 6 titles (regional editions); previously there were multiple editions covering all areas of the United Kingdom.
    • And (fan tinfoil hat theories) a change of software from Quark Xpress to Adobe In Design on the design-side may explain the design changes towards 2003-2004, but Word of God on this has yet to be revealed...
  • Basketball has quite a few.
    • The Pistons-Pacers brawl, instigated by Ben Wallace (a Piston; shoved Artest after getting fouled), Ron Artest (a Pacer; punched fans in the stands and the court) and John Green (a Piston fan; threw a cop on Artest, who responded by jumping over the scores' table and attacking the fans). No championship for either team, multiple suspensions and fines for players of both teams, a sullied reputation on the part of Artest and tighter security from then-on.
    • 8th Seed Memphis defeats 1st Seed San Antonio in the 2011 playoffs. San Antonio is the old guard - experienced and stable, with talent and depth. Memphis was one of those unlucky Can't Catch Up teams throughout most of their history. Come the 2011 playoffs, where Memphis, the 8th Seed (the lowest ranking playoff team), defeats the top western seed in San Antonio.
    • Chicago was one of the favorites to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 playoffs. Come April 28th, 2012 -- Derrick Rose, the Bulls' leader, the MVP of the time and Chicago's Folk Hero, tearing an ACL in his knee during the first game of the playoffs against Philadelphia. Chicago, in a story nearly identical to that of San Antonio (complete with their top players being injury-prone), was defeated in the first round of the playoffs by an upstart, rag-tag 8th seed - Philadelphia.
  • A sudden loss or gain of faith, regardless of the religion in question, is always a massive WHAM! Whether it's losing your religion due to some event (and virtually anything not sport-related that's listed on this page could be it), or becoming a convert to a religion you'd never previously believed in, you'll never be the same again.

Notes

  1. (They needed 12 seats, and won only 4. They lose their government funding and most of their ability to make any kind of decisions.)
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