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Everything's Better with Rainbows

"Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me."
Kermit The Frog, The Muppet Movie

Rainbows in stories are not just symbolic, but also prone to traits that actual rainbows never exhibit, the most common being solidity, treating the rainbow as an object that can be interacted with.

Because rainbows seem to travel from the ground to the sky (and back, if complete), they are usually seen in mythology as some kind of bridge or other connection point to and from heaven; in Norse Mythology the rainbow is Bifrost, the bridge to Asgard; in Greek Mythology, Iris is the goddess of the rainbow as well as the messenger of the gods (Which makes this Older Than Feudalism). In Ireland, a rainbow's base is also a great place to keep a pot of gold (in fact, it serves as a perfect hiding place, since it's impossible to reach). In The Bible, the rainbow is a pledge that the world will never again be flooded to destroy all living things. Meanwhile in Japan, a rainbow is traditionally an ill omen, of doom or at least bad weather, though the Western perspective has become more widespread there.

Some people even associate rainbows with ULTIMATE POWER, of all things.

Since rainbows are natural phenomena of great power, it's also reasonable to give them to actual characters and forces within a story. Expect some of the flashier Anime characters to use them directly as a weapon or to incorporate them somehow into Ki Attacks. They're also a common symbol in worlds known for their Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, as a representation of a character's equal dedication to each element. Finally, they are known in some circles to be extremely girly and are often a symbol of Camp Gayness.

May overlap, especially in the second variant, with All Your Colors Combined. See also Rainbow Motif. If a rainbow is drawn with fewer than seven stripes, that's Rainbow Lite.

Examples of natural Rainbows as objects:

Advertising
  • There was once a Skittles commercial in which some kids were sitting on a rainbow, eating Skittles. When one questioned the plausibility of this, part of the rainbow opened up beneath him like a trapdoor and he fell to his death. Don't question the rainbow.
  • At Dairy Queen, they don't just have rainbows, they have rainbows that are on fire!

Anime and Manga
  • The Rainbow Crystals (fragments that come together to form the Silver Crystal) of Sailor Moon.
  • In one episode of Mushishi, Ginko joins up with a man who's looking for a rainbow colored being called the Rainbow Serpent.
  • In the Code Geass opening, "World End", there's a scene of Nunnally, a blind, crippled girl, throwing a paper crane that trails a rainbow and sparkles. Whether or not it has meaning is up to the viewer.
  • A rainbow appears in Gundam 00 after the Gundam Meisters successfully rescue Allelujah and Marina, making a dramatic escape. This can be justified by the amount of water thrown into the air from Ptolemios II's plunge into the ocean.
  • Rainbows and the colors of the rainbow are a central theme in Brigadoon: Marin and Melan. It's highlighted by the ending theme, "Rainbow-colored Treasure."
  • Rainbows are common in Rebuild of Evangelion; at one point, a rainbow shows through a rain of blood.
  • Johan Andersen's ultimate monster, Rainbow Dragon, in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
  • Eureka Seven has Humongous Mecha SURFING on rainbows at various points in time. Trapars are usually green, rainbows show up a lot, too.
  • Ragyo Kiryuin in Kill la Kill has rainbow Holy Backlight to go along with her rainbow Multicolored Hair. Warning: Light Is Not Good. This is also an instance of rainbows as ultimate power, since she's above and beyond any other character in terms of strength and influence.

Comics
  • In Rose Is Rose, Pasquele "catches" rainbows — the little ones. That is, he sprays the hose and makes small rainbows (He always releases them unharmed).
  • In Frank And Ernest, once two newly hatched birds sees a beautiful bucolic scene, with a rainbow. One thinks it's big and scary; one reflects that at least it's not eggshell white.

Music

Film

Literature
  • The Book of Lost Tales (the precursor to The Silmarillion), featured the Olórë Mallë (Path of Dreams) over which the spirits of children in Middle-earth would travel in their sleep to meet the Elves in Valinor; this was implied to be a rainbow.
  • In a story told in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the children of the Creator slipped through a rift in creation to chase a rainbow and got trapped, becoming the stars.
  • In The Last Continent, after the rain returns to FourEcks, the Man Who Carries The Universe In A Sack produces a boomerang decorated with more colours than the Ecksian Aborigine boy has ever seen in one place, and throws it at the sky, where it sticks.
  • In George MacDonald's The Golden Key, the key is found at the end of the rainbow — which also shines at night, but then, it's in The Lost Woods.
  • In Victoria Hanley's The Seer and the Sword, Landen fondly remembers the rainbows of his native land.
  • In Warbreaker, more breath will create an aura of brighter color around a person. if the person takes this to insane levels (which only the god king has reached), White objects will gain a prismatic appearance.
  • Rainbow Drops in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory allow you to spit in six different colors (seven in the 1971 movie!).

Mythology
  • In Norse Mythology, Bifrost is a rainbow bridge connecting Midgard (earth) to Asgard (heaven). Presumably every rainbow is an instance of the same bridge.
    • Carried over to the Thor comics.
    • Also appears in MythQuest when Alex becomes Váli.
  • Inverted in Japanese mythology, where rainbows are a sign of misfortune.
  • In the Abrahamic religions, the Rainbow is a promise not to flood the world again.

Newspaper Comics
  • Once in Peanuts, Lucy worried about the persistent rain flooding everything. Linus assures her that the rainbow is a sign of the promise that it won't.

Pinball
  • Farfalla takes place in a flower garden filled with butterflies; a large rainbow dominates the playfield.

Video Games

Web Animation

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation
  • The Fairly OddParents has a rainbow bridge connecting Earth to Fairy World. It's unclear where exactly this bridge's Earthly end is located, and the bridge is rarely used in favor of teleportation between the worlds.
    • Though, when it's out, it is a symbol that both worlds are sealed off from one another.
  • G1 My Little Pony had the Rainbow of Light, which tended to be a go-to weapon of sorts.
  • Used in the logo of The Amazing World of Gumball; Tobias and his family/species has a rainbow color scheme as well.
    • There's apparently a placed called a Rainbow Factory where Nicole works and which Masami's dad owns.
  • In Fanboy and Chum Chum the titular characters squeeze one out of the leprechaun cereal mascot Lucky Charlie's butt in the episode "Lucky Chumps". A myriad of "Double Rainbow" references predictably ensue.
  • In The Smurfs, rainbows serve as bridges between the Earth and the Land of Myth, which Blue Eyes the pegasus uses to cross between worlds.

Real Life
  • Became an internet phenomenon after this clip quickly spread like wildfire, going through various remixes, alterations and mutations along the way.
    • Incidentally, double rainbows are actually very common, though the second one is often much fainter, and is reversed, with red at the bottom and violet at the top. You can also, rarely see a triple rainbow, with the third one even fainter, but the right way.
  • Lisa Frank, anyone? (Everyone who was or knew a little girl in The Nineties should be familiar with this one!)
  • An airplane's condensation trail with proper lighting can make a distinctive rainbow too
  • During the 1970s-1980s, every VHS company ever tend to use rainbows in their logos, not to mention (in some cases) on cover designs.


Examples of Rainbows used by characters:

Advertising
  • Every Lucky Charms cereal commercial, ever.

Anime and Manga
  • A filler character in Bleach, Maki Ichinose has a zanpaku-to named Nijigasumi that uses rainbow-based attacks.
  • Eureka Seven: The "Seven Swell" attack is composed of rainbow colored energy, and rainbows are used quite a bit in the series.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann uses it in almost every transformation, and in the final episode when the spiral power goes off the charts!!!
  • Xam'd: Lost Memories: Many simple little energy bursts, among other things, are rainbow colored.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX has Johan's Rainbow Dragon card, itself summoned via having the seven colors of the Rainbow in their beast forms already present.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: After summoning the three polar gods in a non-duel Team Ragnorok activated the spell card "The Rainbow Bridge Bifrost" (not to be confused with with the card "Rainbow Bridge Bifrost, without the "The") to get Yusei and co up to the Arc Cradle.
  • The Lyrical Nanoha has the Kaiserfarbe (Color of the Emperors), a rainbow-colored magical aura unique to the Sankt Kaiser bloodline which Vivio exhibits during the final battle of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS.

Comics
  • Meet Rainbow Boy!
  • Detective Comics #241 featured a story titled "The Rainbow Batman". In the story, Dick Grayson injures his arm while in public, making going out as Robin risky. As luck would have it, Batman's latest case requires Robin's assistance to help identify the crooks, which is a problem given that the case takes place at an event attracting media attention. Batman ceates some differently colored uniforms (as well as a bullseye uniform) for himself to wear to distract the crowds from Robin's injury, culminating with the titlar Rainbow Batman outfit.
  • Action Comics #317 brings us "Superman's Rainbow Face", where Superman's face changes color depending on his emotions. This is, of course, a Red Kryptonite story.
  • The Flash has an enemy called Rainbow Raider, who can use rainbows as Hard Light constructs and manipulate emotions based on the color that hits his targets. Ironically, he's colorblind.

Film
  • Generating a rainbow out of the spikes on his back was the main form of attack for Barugon, Gamera's very first foe in War of the Monsters (a.k.a. Gamera vs. Barugon).

Literature
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Iris sends messages for the characters when they throw coins into rainbows. Real rainbows, creating occasions where they have to quickly fudge up some spray to generate one.
  • In Warbreaker, the God King, or any other person with a sufficient amount of Breath, causes anything white in his vicinity to produce rainbows. These colours can then be used to power Awakenings.
  • In Seanan McGuire's Velveteen Vs. The Junior Super Patriots, Yelena's powers are rainbow related.
  • In Victoria Forester's The Girl Who Could Fly, Bella can create a rainbow.
  • From Jack Vance's Dying Earth, the Excellent Prismatic Spray is a widely-known spell that instantly kills anyone it's cast on and the reason so many spells in other media are named "Prismatic Whatever"

Live-Action TV

Mythology
  • In Greek Mythology, Iris was the goddess of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. Even when Hermes took up the messenger role, she never gave it up; gods sent both of them.

Pinball

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons has a long history with powerful rainbow spells. The weaker effects can blind or otherwise temporarily disable enemies, while the more powerful versions, the "prismatic" spells, have a separate effect for every color of the rainbow, ranging from very high damage (of three different elements) to instant death, being turned to stone, or being banished to another dimension. As every effect has to be resisted separately, this resulted in these spells being difficult to bypass and resist.
    • 3.5 Edition gives us the Initiate of the Seven Veils, a set of magical prismatic veils and more rainbow spells.
    • Indeed, in 3.5 (and by extension, pathfinder) the most powerful wizard isn't some battlemage throwing around fireballs - it's Rainbow Brite. This causes massive confusion amongst newbies, who expect the flashy fireballs to be more powerful than shooting rainbows and throwing glitter at people, when the reverse is invariably true - the strongest first level spell is generally agreed to be Color Spray (which shoots a rainbow of colors out to blind and stun enemies), the strongest second level spell Glitterdust (which blinds enemies and reveals hidden ones).
      • It also caused some confusion when, in 4th edition, the wizard and sorcerer classes were redefined to make them less redundant, making the sorcerer into the flashy striker who does lots of direct damage with elemental spells, removing them from wizards so they could concentrate fully on debuffing, which had been the way that they were strongest in the previous editions. Players who had never realized that direct damage wizards were bad compared to wizards who focused on disabling their foes rather than dealing down their hit points complained about wizards now being "underpowered" and not understanding why they had changed, when in reality they had -always- been controllers above all else and are one of the -strongest- classes in 4th edition.
  • Warhammer 40,000 -Back at the very start of Warhammer 40k with Rogue Trader, there was a Space Marine chapter listed called the Rainbow Warriors.

Video Games
  • Daria from Rune Factory 3 is obsessed with rainbows; she SCREAMS "RAINBOW" at any given chance, uses rainbow-colored attacks, and interrupts Sakuya's tour to scream "RAINBOW!"
    Sakuya: Here, we have Rainbow Falls. There's always a rainbow here, and some say you can even hear the rainbow.
    Daria: (off-screen) RAINBOW!
  • Basically the whole point of the game Rainbow Islands.
  • In Chrono Trigger, there's a sidequest to gather a chromatic "rainbow shell," from which several of the game's most powerful items are made.
    • And in Chrono Cross where you see what a weapon made from rainbow shell should actually look like.
  • In Kirby's Dream Land 2, collecting all the Rainbow Drops earns you the Rainbow Sword, which you need for fighting Dark Matter.
    • And in Kirby: Canvas Curse, you control Kirby using a magical paintbrush that paints rainbow-colored lines as paths for Kirby. After defeating the final boss, a rainbow also appears in the sky in the game's ending.
    • In Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, it's a magic pen that makes rainbow clay lines.
  • In the Mario sports games, Yoshi's special moves tend to be rainbow-powered if they're not egg-based (or even if they are).
  • From Touhou Project, Hong Meiling has a lot of her attacks based on rainbows.
    • And Kaguya. Tree-Ocean of Hourai and End of Imperishable Night "Morning Mist", especially.
    • Kogasa's Spell Card "Over The Rainbow".
    • Alice's character title is Seven-Colored Puppeteer.
  • The Rainbow Pop Fly is a powerup in Backyard Baseball.
  • One of the mage skills in The Spirit Engine involves smiting your enemies with a rainbow.
  • ROYAL RAINBOW!
  • Mori Motonari, the resident sun-worshipper of Sengoku Basara, carries a rainbow blade as one of his weapons. Subverted in that this does not make him a nice guy.
  • In the BIT.TRIP games, CommanderVideo always leaves a rainbow trail behind him for no apparent reason. In RUNNER in particular, you have to reach Extra Mode (via collecting Mode Power Ups) to get the rainbow. And the ending of said game features the Five-Man Band lifting off with individual trials matching the rainbow's colors in these games.
  • Sonic Colors naturally. Especially the final color blaster used on Eggman in the final battle.
  • Robot Unicorn Attack. Hell yeah.
  • The Pokémon Ho-oh is a rainbow-creating phoenix.
  • De Blob, being all about colour, naturally uses this. Often you'll be asked to paint things in a Chromatic Arrangement, and in the sequel there is a Rainbow Powerup that automatically makes Blob the right color for a given object.
  • When a weapon in Ratchet: Deadlocked reaches level 99 its attacks become rainbow coloured.

Webcomics

Web Original

Western Animation
  • The Rainicorn, from Adventure Time. Half unicorn, half rainbow. Doesn't get much more girly-awesome than that.
  • Rainbow Brite, naturally. She uses the power of colours in rainbow form to keep everything happy and bright and colourful in Rainbowland, as well as on Earth. When Rainbow Brite is unable to fulfil her duties, colours quick start to fade and everything becomes rather gloomy... Rainbow Brite can also weaponise her rainbow beams to deflect attacks or even to launch attacks directly at baddies force them away/trap them. Not just all that, but her rainbows are also strong enough to allow Rainbow Brite to ride over them on her horse Starlight. And lastly, she uses these rainbows to travel all the way from Rainbowland to Earth!
  • In the Disney Fairies franchise, light-talent fairies control and manipulate rainbows.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Idiot Box", a Running Gag involves Spongebob making a semi-figurative rainbow with his hands to illustrate the power of imagination.
  • In the first episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a band of leprechauns (well, and a half-Korean) use a machine to create rainbows that can be used to mug people.
  • An episode of Rocko's Modern Life where he said he likes rainbows freaks out the other characters.
  • Care Bears: The entire series seems to reek in terms of rainbows as decorations, traveling devices, energy, and for that matter, weapons.
  • God, the Devil and Bob: God creates a double rainbow to cheer up the people of Detroit (in a way that won't make the atheists feel left out). For his next trick, he makes a DMV run efficiently and politely.
  • The original My Little Pony cartoons, including The Movie, used the Rainbow of Light as their one and only weapon. It tended to act like a Care Bear Stare — reviving good characters but rounding up the not-so-good and outright destroying the evil.
    • In fact, the movie's the only time when the Rainbow of Light fails.
    • It's not neglected in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, either, although it's done with the 'Elements of Harmony'. Similar effects, aside from 'outright destroying' the evilnote .
    • One of the characters in the Friendship Is Magic series is Rainbow Dash, a pegasus with a rainbow colored mane.
      • Said pegasus used her "sonic rainboom" to create a crash that gave off a mushroom cloud to destroy an old barn.
  • The Tom Terrific story arc "The End Of Rainbows" has Tom and Manfred helping painter Rembrandt Von Rainbow complete his latest rainbow by fetching the colors he needs.
  • In The Smurfs episode "Smurf-Colored Glasses", Handy uses a rainbow in a waterfall to give his smurf-colored glasses the ability to see people and things are being cute and handsome instead of ordinary, ugly, or dangerous.

Examples of Rainbows as symbols:

Anime and Manga
  • In the Yume Tsukai manga, the author invoke that, in Japanese culture, rainbows used to be seen as unnatural distressing phenomena at best and as bad omens as worst, and that the optimistic connotations were brought only recently. Then this symbolism is milked for all its worth by using rainbows to symbolize the doomed relationship of the first seen client of the Yume Tsukai and the unnatural, girly-looking boy who serves to channel the Eldritch Abomination who wanted to took over the school and the world.
  • Pokémon's Ho-Oh is said to glow of all seven colors and only appears to remarkable trainers. When it shows up in the Pokémon animé for the first time, it's after Pikachu saves Ash (which was the very first episode that appeared before Ho-Oh appears in its own games). Ho-Oh shows up again a few times later as a Homage to Ash's Establishing Character Moment to Walk the Earth and To Be a Master.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion has a rainbow appear after the death of each Angel. A couple of them are Justified by large amounts of Angel blood in the air, giving the light something to refract through, but others show up alongside the iconic cross-explosions for no apparent reason. Given that this is Evangelion, no one is sure if this is symbolic of something, or just more pseudo-Christian imagery to mess with our heads.
    • Later reaches into Mood Whiplash, especially when Unit-01 eviscerates a Bardiel possessed Unit-03 and crushing the entry plug with Asuka still inside.

Comics

Film
  • In Oh, God! You Devil!, God makes a rainbow appear in the night sky above Las Vegas in order to confirm that he has heard Bobby Shelton's prayer.

Literature
  • In The Bible, following the Genesis flood, God sent a rainbow as a symbol that he had set aside his bow, and that he would never again destroy the earth through cataclysmic flooding. (Also of interest: according to a biblical literalist/creationist reading of Genesis, the Flood was the first time it had ever rained.)
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Saruman the White electively promoted himself to "the Many Colored" to indicate he had evolved beyond a mere monochromatic title. Gandalf pointed out that a beam of white light broken into a rainbow is no longer white, so Saruman hadn't improved his worth so much as fractured it. As the color of each Wizard apparently symbolized the individual Vala he served, Saruman's rainbow robes could well symbolize his fall from grace: Morgoth was the only Vala to have a share of all the others' powers.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Aes Sedai organisation is made up of seven distinct "Ajahs" each of which are devoted to a specific area of study or action. The organisation's flag shows a spiral of the seven colors, as does the headdress of their leader, the Amyrlin Seat. Since this symbol incorporates gray, brown and white into its overal scheme, this isn't a strict rainbow, but is evocative of such anyway.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire uses refractive crystals and rainbows as symbols of the Faith of the Seven. As a rainbow has seven colors, it's taken in the same sense as the three-leaf clover is sometimes viewed as symbolic of the Holy Trinity.

Pinball
  • The playfield design of Spectrum is a set of multicolored rainbows interrupted by black circuit boards.

Real Life
  • The rainbow (specifically, the Rainbow Flag) is used most widely in the Western world as a symbol of gay pride.
    Demetri Martin: I just think it's odd one group took refracted light. Pretty greedy, gay people.
  • The Quechua people of Peru, better known as the Incas, use a rainbow flag (it used to be the personal flag of the Emperor).
  • The symbol of Kopimi, an anti-copyright initiative.

Video Games
  • Annie Frazier of Backyard Sports used to have a rainbow on her shirt; for her, it was a good omen.
  • At the end of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the Moon dissolves in a globe of multicoloured light, and leaves a rainbow streaked across the sky for all to see. This is probably a symbol in the biblical style, a sign that a great calamity has passed.
  • In Tokimeki Memorial, there's Saki Nijino, the bright and cheerful manager of Kirameki High's Soccer Club. The Kanji used for her name, "Nijino", can be translated as "Field of Rainbow" ; thus, the rainbow is one of the two main elements (along with a soccer ball) in the cover, title screen, and ending of the spin-off game she's the heroine of, Nijiiro no Seishun. Also, her two CD albums' names are "Over the Rainbow" and "Niji no Lithograph" (Rainbow Lithograph).
  • Rainbow Man from Mega Man Unlimited has a very trippy stage filled with these.

Western Animation
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: The second season opening features these prominently thanks to Jimmy's Fertile Feet.
  • JoJo's Circus had an episode in which the characters chased a rainbow and did a rainbow dance.
  • The animated version of Punky Brewster starts right off telling how Glomer strayed from his home Chaundoon within a rainbow and became stranded in Chicago when the rainbow disappeared. One episode, "Be My Glomley", had Punky and her pals helping Glomer and a female glomley, Glomine, return to Chaundoon by creating a rainbow.


Splash of ColorAmazing Technicolor IndexCommon Eye Colors
The EverymanOlder Than PrintEvil Tower of Ominousness
Everyone Calls Him BarkeepOlder Than FeudalismSuspiciously Specific Denial
Everything's Better with PrincessesGarnishing the StoryEverything's Better with Samurai
Everythings Better With LlamasImageSource/PhotographyEverything's Sparkly with Jewelry

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