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TikTok’s ‘Moments in Media’ Trend Is Pure Fandom Nostalgia

So many formative moments!

A picture of Pirate King Elizabeth Swann, played by Keira Knightley, in Pirates of the Caribbean At World's End

I could talk for hours about the incredible impact that media of any kind — be it movies, television shows, books, music, you name it — has on our individual lives and our collective imagination. My “humans make sense of the world through stories and we’ve been telling each other stories since the dawn of time and will never stop and that’s why stories are so, so important” TedTalk is always ready to go at the drop of a hat.

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So that’s why I’ve been loving the “moments in media” trend that I’ve seen going on pretty much all over social media — starting out on TikTok, of course, where else? Seeing what lines of dialogue or scenes and song bridges really shaped people into what they are today gives me an immense rush of joy. Maybe because I myself am a collection of the media moments that have altered my brain chemistry forever.

Plus, since we’re talking about formative media moments, all of them are also a bittersweet walk down fandom memory lane. While I firmly believe that no one really ages out of fandom if they don’t want to and that you can go on and experience meaningful stories pretty much forever, there’s something so special about reminiscing on those first stories that really impacted us — so that’s exactly what I did.

After seeing a couple of TikToks and tweets following the trend and gathering their respective users’ significant moments, I decided to compile my own. Unsurprisingly, what I ended up with was a full Goodnotes page scribbled down to the very edges with fifty-plus scenes and lines that have had an undeniable impact on me as a person — and that’s while limiting myself to media I encountered before I was sixteen and excluding Harry Potter completely, because of pretty obvious reasons.

So I thought I’d share them. Here’s the result of my very difficult selection process, in no particular order because picking only ten moments was hard enough and I didn’t have the heart to also start ranking them.

Mr. Darcy appears in the morning and walks through the field in Pride & Prejudice

I am a 2005 Pride & Prejudice enthusiast first and a human second, always. While I’ve grown to appreciate many of the cinematic adaptations of the works of our lady and savior Jane Austen, nothing has stuck with me like this particular version of P&P, directed by Joe Wright. And out of all the swoon-worthy, beautifully lyrical scenes in the movie, this final moment has to take the cake — is it the music, the cinematography, the poet’s shirt, a combo of all three? All that I know is that it’s been more than fifteen years since this movie was released and my stomach still twists whenever Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) realizes that yes it is indeed Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) walking towards her.

Elizabeth Swann gives her “what shall we die for?” monologue in At World’s End

Keira Knightley definitely was one of my bisexual awakenings (Nick Nelson you’re so valid, bestie) and I will never stop loving her for it — especially for having taken the role of Pirate King Elizabeth Swann and having played her as this fierce, cruel, magnificent character that has had major impacts on me both a teenage girl and still today, to be perfectly honest. Out of the many incredible moments that Elizabeth has through the Pirates trilogy — movies beyond number three? What? Unheard of — the speech she gives before the big battle in At World’s End still gives me shivers. When she screams to “hoist the colors” and the music absolutely swells — oh my god, there are no words.

Éowyn declares that she’s “no man” before killing the Witch-king of Angmar

Honestly, I think that there was a me before the entire Battle of the Pelennor Fields sequence and a me after — something was permanently altered when Théoden charges toward Minis Tirith as the Rohan musical theme blares in the background. And was altered even more when Éowyn destroys the Witch-king, a scene that still gives me immense glee even just describing it: the way she removes her helmet and reveals herself as a woman and proudly declares it before plunging the sword into his face? The stuff of legends, really. And of little girls’ dreams.

Sailor Neptune’s first transformation in the original Sailor Moon anime

Speaking of bisexual awakenings, thank you Michiru Kaiou and Haruka Tenou for my life, even if Italian television changed the dub to try and make us all believe they were cousins. This is a media moment that goes way back since Sailor Moon aired on one of the most popular Italian channels back when I was in elementary school — at just the perfect time slot for me to get home from the afternoon lessons, get my juice box and sit on the floor to watch the Sailor Senshis battle evil. And Sailor Neptune, with her elegant attacks and her water powers and that gorgeous violin theme for her transformation? I was hooked. Still am, really.

The “every atom of you and every atom of me” passage in The Amber Spyglass

Do I understand, thematically, why some characters have to part or leave their home or return home somehow permanently changed? Yes, I do. Does it still destroy my heart every single time? Very much so. I was desperate the first time I read of Will and Lyra having to separate at the end of the His Dark Materials saga to restore their respective worlds, and the whole heart-wrenching passage of them declaring their love for each other is still in the top five of the most beautiful I’ve ever had the fortune of reading.

Lyra and Will on HBO's His Dark Materials.
Mr. Philip Pullman I’m suing you for the tears I’ve shed reading His Dark Materials be aware (HBO)

Etienne and Isabeau briefly see each other as humans in Ladyhawke

If there’s one thing I love, it’s Eighties fantasy movies. I love the practical effects, the goofiness, and the funky music that accompanies characters as they gallop through the countryside. And I think that the first of these movies I ever saw, the one that started it all, was Ladyhawke. I still find the concept at the heart of the story brilliant, the perfect fairytale made of swoon-worthy moments and thrilling duels. And that scene when Etienne and Isabeau can see each other as humans after he’s transformed back from a wolf but before she’s turned once more into a hawk by the curse — some acting choices were made by both Michelle Pfeiffer and Rutger Hauer and they still haunt me to this day.

Hay Lin sees her grandmother again at the end of the first W.I.T.C.H. arc

As a Nineties girl growing up in Italy, W.I.T.C.H. was unsurprisingly a pretty big part of my childhood and early teenage years— and late teenage years as well, honestly, since I stayed subscribed to it right until its final number. The first arc of the story, however, will forever be the most special: the one where the five Guardians discover their powers and fight to free the world of Meridian from the tyrant that rules it. Mid-way through the arc, Hay Lin loses her grandmother, Yan Lin — and readers don’t see her again until Hay Lin herself sees her again when the Guardians reach the mystical fortress of Kandrakar for the very first time and realize that Yan Lin has been granted a seat there. To this day, reading that page has me crying so hard that I can’t read further and I have to take a moment and calm down before continuing.

Hay Lin and her grandma Yan Lin in the Italian comic W.I.T.C.H.
This is my childhood right here (Disney)

Jareth tempts Sarah for the last time at the end of Labyrinth

Another Eighties fantasy classic, Labyrinth is the movie that I blame for having started my “stanning villains and morally questionable characters” streak that continues until this day. The casting of David Bowie as Jareth, Goblin King, still blows my mind in the best way possible — and the final dialogue he has with Sarah, where he tries to win her over one last time before she well and truly defeats him, as me on the floor. The pipeline from “I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave” and like, having my entire saved section on TikTok filled with Aemond Targaryen is so real.

Some CASTING CHOICES were made here (Lucasfilm)

Lucky finally learns to fly in Lucky and Zorba

This is yet another sort of obscure Italian media moment that still slams into me with the power of a freight train whenever I think about it. The animated movie Lucky and Zorba, based on Luis Sepúlveda’s book The Story of a Seagull and The Cat Who Taught Her To Fly, is another classic for those of us who were born in the Nineties. It’s filled with beautiful and heart-wrenching moments, but none as bittersweet as when the little seagull finally learns to fly and leaves her cat family behind to explore the world.

Anakin and Padmé look at each other across Coruscant in Revenge of the Sith

Yes, I am a Prequel Trilogy enthusiast. Sue me, I don’t care. Is the CGI terrible? Yes. Is Jar Jar Binks a plague on the franchise? Also yes. Are the midichlorians stupid? Once again, yes. But I still maintain that the Prequel Trilogy is the ultimate proof that a strong story can carry a poorly-executed movie, while the contrary isn’t true at all — just look at the Sequel Trilogy to see what happens when you have all the high budget you could possibly want but can’t agree on one (1) idea to make the plot cohesive. The story of Anakin Skywalker’s descent into the Dark Side is as Greek tragedy as they come, devastating and entertaining in equal parts, and I think that wordless moment as Anakin and Padmé stare at each other, her in her apartments and him at the Jedi Temple, as the sunset paints Coruscant red is the perfect visual representation of that. 

The “the greatest gift and honor is having you as a daughter” scene in Mulan

As the eldest daughter myself, the “perfect daughter” storyline has always been very much up my alley — and honestly very few other media products did it as well as Mulan. So it may be because of that, or because Mulan was actually the first movie I ever saw in a cinema, but the entire film is just stamped behind my eyelids forever. And the scene when Mulan returns home, offering her dad the gifts she received from the Emperor only to have him put them aside because she is his greatest gift, never fails to make me cry. It did so in that movie theater in the late autumn of 1998 and will probably continue to do so forever.

Now, of course, it’s up to you. What are your moments in media that have stuck with you from the first time you experienced them?

(image: Disney)

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Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.

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