Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain
"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."
Ever noticed how the weather is always lousy in Cyber Punk
settings? When it's not pouring down, the sky is overcast with dark, pollution-laden clouds
that barely let any sunlight through.
Inherited from the similarly crappy weather of the Film Noir
Often overlaps with Industrial Ghetto
. Compare City Noir
, Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death
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Anime and Manga
- In Elephantmen, it rains very frequently in 2250's Los Angeles. British-born creator Richard Starkings says this is becaus "all Englishmen in L.A. miss the rain — or at least I do."
- Blade Runner is probably responsible for starting the trend in films. The endless rain was a reference to Film Noir. It also helped disguise the fact that he was just shooting on the backlot — all those scenes set at night with lots of rain and smoke are a great disguise.
- In this 2005 interview with Wired Magazine, Ridley Scott stated that the rain in part was present to hide the wires on the Spinners. Quote: "Because you can't make a spinner fly without a crank. That's why it was raining in the shot, because the rain would help to hide the cables."
- In The Matrix, the weather is initially always nice inside the matrix, but outside the Matrix, the sun is permanently blocked by a planet-covering cloud of nanites. Once Smith takes over the trope applies directly to the world inside the Matrix.
- Spielberg's Minority Report features some sunny vistas, but there's also quite a few overcast skies, as well as precog-predicted rain.
- Immortal is a French cyberpunk film taking place in New York. The skies are perpetually and dismally overcast, except in Central Park, which mysteriously has the weather conditions of Antarctica.
- One doesn't see any sunshine in Avalon, but that might be a side-effect of making everything Deliberately Monochrome.
- It's always dark in Dark City. Again, justified by the eponymous city being controlled by aliens who can't stand strong light.
- Alan Rudolph's Trouble In Mind is a noirish tale set in an indeterminate retro-future filmed in Seattle, appropriately named "Rain City" here.
- Cyberspace in TRON: Legacy is clouded over pretty much all the time, although it never actually rains.
- Although there is the one scene when Gem meets Sam in the street and she is wearing a raincoat and carrying an umbrella.
- The Earth in James Cameron's Avatar is seen to look like this in new scenes added at the beginning of the Collector's Edition Extended Cut.
- Parodied and subverted in Back To The Future Part II. The DeLorean lands in a back alley, gearing up for a dark, cyberpunk setting...and then the skies clear.
- The protagonist of Italian film Hands Of Steel (also known as Vendetta dal futuro, Fists of Steel, Paco the Death Machine, in Quebec as L'enfonceur) is a cyborg sent to kill a scientist, who is trying to stop acid rains. Not far from the beginning his car gets burned by such rain.
- Neuromancer by William Gibson. The original line was meant to invoke the gray static seen when an analog channel goes off air. Unfortunately, in modern digital broadcast systems, a dead channel shows up as solid bright blue.
- Ironically, the opening phrase still works, provided one interprets it as proof that urban techno-fetishist Case is so thoroughly-alienated from nature that the only thing he can think of to compare a gorgeous blue sky to is a damn television screen. (Or it would be, if there weren't an explicit reference to a "poisoned silver sky.")
- Lampshaded by Neil Gaiman in Neverwhere, by using the same phrase to describe a clear sky.
- Ray Bradbury's All Summer in a Day is a Raygun Gothic example. It is set on Venus. It rains all the time, except for an hour every seven years. One of the schoolchildren in the story lived on another planet for a bit before her parents moved to Venus, and her constant tales of the sun there annoy everyone else, who are either jealous or think she's a liar. She is locked in a closet during the precious hour of the sun coming out.
- The Long Rain of Ray Bradbury.
- Ursula K. Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven is set in Portland, Oregon, whose normally cool, rainy Northwestern climate has become warm and rainy, thanks to Global Warming. In a 1971 book, for the record; we've seen this coming for a long time.
- Bruce Sterling's Heavy Weather (1994) turns this trope Up to Eleven, as climate change has increased the violence and unpredictability of global weather patterns to such an extent that "Tornado Alley" in the Great Plains has been rendered nearly uninhabitable.
- Halting State: Justified, of course, as the story takes place in Scotland.
- In George Johansson's novel Datorernas död ("Death of the Computers"), pollution and climate change has rendered the skies almost permanently overcast.
- Although it isn't cyberpunk (despite an army of cyborgs and more people being cyborgized daily), David Weber's Armageddon Inheritance plays this straight. Earth is being sieged by Absolute Xenophobe aliens, who bombard it with asteroids, the only starship went searching for help and disappeared, missiles and energy are running low... Asteroids that break through defenses usually hit oceans, filling air with water and salt and increasing albedo. Most scenes set on Earth during the siege have icy rain as a backdrop.
- The happy ending inverts this. The rains have washed all pollution from the air and the sky is cleaner than it's been for centuries.
Live Action TV
- In the miniseries Cold Lazarus it was thick smog. Like, closer to brown smoke. People wondered aloud what it must have been like when the air was clear enough to go for walks outside.
- The original default campaign setting for Shadowrun was Seattle. Not only was it cloudier and rainier than most of the U.S., but the weather often included acid rain.
- Same for Cyberpunk 2020, where the weather often includes acid rain. Or worse.
- On the Planet/City of Mort in SLA Industries, it rains for approximately 364 days per year. Which is perhaps fortunate, given that even Mister Slayer himself doesn't want to see what happens to the when it stops raining and all of the serial killers, hired mercenaries, gun-wielding gangsters, drug-fuelled war veterans, crazed mutants and even his own Operatives get hot and bothered.
- The first arc of Binary Domain takes place at night, during heavy rain.
- It is always night in Deus Ex. Or sunset. This is a game mechanics thing — Deus Ex's sneaking system requires shadows. It fits perfectly into the game's theme.
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, it's almost always night, overcast or raining. There's plenty of light in Jensen's apartment, though, so it can stream through the windows just like in◊ Blade Runner. In Hengsha, it's actually a perfectly sunny day, but the Upper City high above and the tall buildings block most of the light.
- The weather in Detroit isn't rainy but there is the occasional thunder and lightning.
- The 1997 Blade Runner video game, being set in the same city and the same time as the film, is a clear-cut example.
- The Metroid series loves its acid rain, featuring the stuff on two different incarnations of Zebes as well as the Space Pirates' home planet (where it'll kill you in seconds unless you've obtained a hazard shield).
- The cyberpunk-inspired Sanctuary Fortress in the second Metroid Prime game subverts this: the "rain" is actually lines of energy that flow upwards.
- Planetarian features a continuous downpour of acid rain.
- It's always night in Snatcher — which is a big homage-off of Blade Runner. Granted, it's because the titular Snatcher's fake skin suffers horribly in direct sunlight.
- DreamWeb: Permanent drizzle with occasional showers and lightnings. The protagonist doesn't seem to mind. In-game weather report:
As the rainy season continues there will be increased humidity and constant rainfall, although mostly restricted to a light drizzle. Constant cloud cover is expected and temperatures will reach a moderate 20 degrees.
Due to the rain and cloud cover there will be a serious increase of trapped pollution in the air and it is recommended that masks are worn at all times for those in pollution risk category A. The risk should clear in 2 or 3 weeks.
Generally poor, uncomfortable humidity, low levels of sunlight and poor visibility.
- Final Fantasy VII: It doesn't rain in Midgar because of the plate over the lower city(ies), but it is dark, gloomy, and polluted, to the point where even the ground and sky turn black around the city on the world map.
- There's a peripheral reference to this trope in a level of the original Unreal Tournament. Outside the windows of the fight compound there is constant rain, and the map description mentions the suicide-inducingly dreary weather as the reason this scientific outpost was converted into a deathmatch arena.
- Played with in Dystopia. No official maps take place on sunny days. They're all either at night or on overcast days, but this is used uniquely in the tutorial. As you're exploring the abandoned underground complex, your supervisor notes that the artificial day/night cycle is stuck at sunset permanently.
- One of the urban missions of the original Perfect Dark game (which is set Twenty Minutes into the Future) is on the streets of Chicago; as the whole level is essentially an homage toBlade Runner, it comes complete with heavy, constant rain.
- This is a feature of the Junkyard in Digital Devil Saga. Unlike most examples however, it's actually part of the plot.
- In Gemini Rue, it's always raining on the planet Barracus. This might have something to do with atmospheric conditioning to keep the air breathable for humans.
- Parodied in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, where a button on the Studio World triggers rain on a cyberpunk city set.
- Mario Kart 7 has a cyberpunk track "Neo Bowser City," where it's always raining.
- In Flight Simulator 2004, due to the closure of real-world airport Meigs Field in Chicago, the series' long-standing default starting airport (which had always defaulted to clear and sunny weather), for this edition the default start was moved to Seattle Tacoma International Airport (KSEA), in rain.
- Seattle, home to many tech companies (prominently giants Amazon, Nintendo of America, and Microsoft, but also many smaller companies), is known for its gray weather.
- Slightly meta example: the developers for Shadowrun Returns, a cyberpunk computer game based on a cyberpunk tabletop game that are both set in Seattle (renowned for its rainy weather), are situated just outside of Seattle.
- This stands true for western Oregon and Northern California as well, hence the names "Silicon Forest" and "Silicon Valley," respectively.
- Shanghai, the Mega City par excellence of China (see here◊), gets almost twice as much rain yearly as London does, despite England having a reputation for dismal weather.
- Some U.K cities, with their highest concentration of surveillance/security cameras in the world can be though of having some cyberpunk elements. And the U.K has a reputation for overcast, wet weather. Particularly "Silicon Roundabout" (where many upstart tech companies, non-profit organisations and UK branches of multinational businesses are based) in London.
- Hong Kong, often described as a city straight out of a cyberpunk novel, used to (and still occasionly does) have air quality issues that result in copious amounts of smog. In addition, it does have a monsoon season.