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“What a Twist!” is an expression referencing the signature plot twists in films written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, which is often used online to indicate something unexpected has occurred.
The phrase was originally quoted in an episode of the Adult Swim cartoon show Robot Chicken titled “The Twist,” aired on April 17th, 2005. In the episode, a clay-animated character parodying M. Night Shyamalan says the line after a twist ending is revealed.
“A phrase used in an episode of Robot Chicken by spoof character M. Night Shyamalan. Derives from Shyamalan’s trademark twist endings of his movies. Can be used as a replacement of the tired out saying, ‘oh snap!’”
On November 9th, 2011, Redditor mansizerooster submitted a post titled “What a twist!,” featuring an animated GIF of a donkey cigarette holder being operating by a man wearing a horse head mask (shown below, left). Prior to being archived, the post gained over 4,300 up votes and 80 comments. In the comments section, Redditor MadnessTheory responded by joking that the GIF was “Directed by M. Night Shyamalan” (shown below, right), a phrase which is often used in a similar vein to “what a twist” on the social news website.
On October 14th, 2012, Redditor acidmonkey submitted a post titled “What a twist!” to the /r/funny subreddit, featuring a photograph of cards from the game Cards Against Humanity referencing M. Night Shyamalan’s 1999 thriller film Sixth Sense (shown below, left). Prior to being archived, the post garnered upwards of 14,200 up votes and 120 comments. On March 29th, 2013, a Facebook page title “What a Twist” was launched. On June 18th, the Internet humor site 9gag posted an animated GIF titled “What a twist,” featuring a man bent over wearing shoes on his hands (shown below, right). Within the first month, the post accumulated more than 16,100 up votes and 5,000 Facebook shares.