When telling a short scary story, there's often a "punchline" that triggers the fear the story is trying to create. You know, that moment when your audience gets wide-eyed and gasps.

Is there a better way to refer to this than just a "punchline" in the context of a scary story and not a joke?

  • 2
    Denouement, perhaps?
    – Mick
    Oct 21, 2016 at 17:04
  • 5
    If it involves revelation, call it a "reveal." Or you can call it the "climax."
    – DyingIsFun
    Oct 21, 2016 at 17:06
  • 1
    +1 for "climax", I immediately thought the same when I saw the question.
    – flith
    Oct 21, 2016 at 18:08
  • 2
    Maybe "clincher"?
    – Shavais
    Oct 21, 2016 at 18:18
  • 2
    Punchline is probably at least as applicable. Punch, in the sense of punching something up, applies equally to a laugh or scare.
    – The Nate
    Oct 21, 2016 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


I think "stinger" is the best word for this. Traditionally it means an abrupt sound effect that enhances a jump scare in a horror movie.


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