Painting the Frost on Windows

Image courtesy of Matt Watier
Used with permission.

Phoenix: What's her problem, Twilight? She can't honestly think someone can control weather. It's ludicrous!
Trixie: You have to be the biggest imbecile Trixie has ever laid eyes on!
Judge: Mr. Wright... That's a Pegasus's job here in Equestria. It's... sort of what they do.
Phoenix: Mmmph... uh... what...?

Ever wonder why the leaves turn color in fall, or why frost appears on the window during the wintertime? It's not due to any sort of natural process.

Usually appearing in mythology or children's entertainment, this is a character who is responsible for the beautiful colors and patterns we see in nature. The leaves? There's some guy going around and painting them one by one. The frost? Someone such as Jack Frost draws it on people's windows. A character of this trope is usually depicted as an artist; his or her medium just happens to be nature.

Can be a subset of The Fair Folk, Odd Job Gods, Magical Underpinnings of Reality or Anthropomorphic Personification. For similar abilities without the responsiblity see Power Of The Storm and Green Thumb. See also "Just So" Story.


  • All the fairies from A Little Snow Fairy Sugar create the weather by playing their instruments.
    • Turmeric in particular seems to fit the artist type, not being satisfied with anything less than the perfect cloud.
  • Multiple characters in Anpanman. Some include the citizens of the Flower Kingdom (each have a separate flower they're designed after, and each of them tend to that certain flower), Princess Nakayubi (a harvest princess, she helps fruits and vegetables grow in autumn) and Onsen-kun (has the ability to create hot springs).

Comic Books
  • One of the strips in Astérix and the Class Act featured the sprite responsible for Spring who went around pushing up the plants, etc.
  • The Sandman has a variety of servants who work to keep the dream world in order. It's implied that the beautiful scenery people dream about takes some effort to create.
    • Of course, being The Dreaming, such effort varies. Adding a new wing to the library is as simple as pasting up wallpaper containing a picture of the new wing, like a portable hole.
  • Some of the Fables, such as Santa Claus and North Wind, appear to have these roles.

Films — Animated
  • In Walt Disney's Fantasia during "The Nutcracker Suite" segment, fairies are shown using their magic wands to change the colour of leaves, start the first frost, and so on.
  • In Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina, the fairies are responsible for changing the seasons, and so, while searching for the eponymous heroine, Prince Cornelius asks his parents to delay the winter frost for as long as they can.
  • In Rock-A-Doodle (also by Don Bluth), Chanticleer the rooster's crowing is the real reason why the Sun rises every morning. But one day, thanks to Chanticleer being distracted by one of the Big Bad's flunkies, the Sun started to rise without him...
  • This is the Job of fairies in the Disney Tinkerbell series.
  • Averted with Jack Frost in Rise of the Guardians, who causes snow, ice and frost wherever he goes. However, cold and ice didn't wait for him to exist. He sure has power over it, but only at his range, winter doesn't require his intervention.
  • Both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 contain examples of this, the former having little fairies that apply dew to flowers, and the latter with a Mother Nature type spirit who causes plant life to spring forth following a devastating volcanic eruption.
  • The Tinkerbell movies posit that it's the Neverland fairies that bring nature to the Main Land in much this way: painting leaves in the Fall, carrying droplets of water to spiderwebs, even painting spots on ladybugs.

Films — Live-Action
  • The film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy featured something like this. During the scene wherein Slartibartfast shows Arthur around the Earth MK.II, we see several engineers hard at work "setting the Earth up" to look like Arthur remembers it. One of them is painting Uluru orange, whereas some others are filling in the oceans using fire hoses.
  • The big reveal in The Thirteenth Floor is when the characters head out to a place they would never go and see it hasn't been built, proving they live in a virtual reality. Broad Strokes Truth in Television because that is what CGI environments look like when viewed from an unintended angle.
  • In Nocturna, there's a whole range of different jobs in order to make the night - meowing cats make children sleep, there's an orchestra for the various nocturnal sounds, dreams are written down and read to sleeping kids, and there are even people who have to mess up hair and another who makes kids wet the bed.

  • There's a common joke/urban legend in Russia that in the Soviet army soldiers had to use lawn paint to make the grass look nicer before the top-brass inspections, and form snowbanks in accurate cubic shapes, and pluck dandelions. Idle hands are the devil's workshop and all that.

  • A lot of these show up in Terry Pratchett's Hogfather including Jack Frost and the Verruca Gnome. Note that in Discworld, human belief can create supernatural beings, so this raises a chicken-or-egg question.
    • And the title character of Wintersmith, and his counterpart the Summer Lady.
      • Some of them, like the Wintersmith or Death, aren't necessarily obligated to do every last little detail personally; as anthropomorphic personifications they just have to exist, and do the trade equivalent of checking to make sure the factory production is up to snuff. They can, if they have a particular aim in mind (see again the Wintersmith), but by and large the books compare it to a monarchy; the king exists and makes the rules, but he doesn't personally show up at your home telling you what kind of tea to have on your break.
  • The Stranger by Chris van Allsburg: the eponymous stranger is never explicitly identified, but he's essentially Jack Frost or the personification of autumn.
  • In The Phantom Tollbooth, the symphony orchestra led by Chroma the Great plays all the colors in the world, including every sunset and sunrise.
  • In the Swedish picture book Olles skidfärd (app. "Olle's skiing trip") the boy Olle gets to meet King Bore, the ruler of winter. The King has an antagonistic relationship with Old Woman Thaw (an old hag with a bucket and broom), not because he minds her mistress Princess Spring taking over each year, but because Old Woman Thaw can't keep the time if her life depended on it, and will invariably be either too early or too late.
  • Shel Silverstein wrote a short poem about the man who paints the colours and markings onto the animals and notes, "Jack Frost, he's just a part-time workin' fellah/Touching up the leaves and trees and things/He's famouser than me/But I'm happier than he/For I paint the things that runs, and flies, and sings!"
  • "The Sandman" by E. T. A. Hoffmann subverts this: the sandman gouges out the eyes of children who stay up late and provides their eyes to the builders of automatons, killing the ones who won't give up the creation.
  • In Santa and the King of Starless Nights, Jack Frost is a good friend of Santa and the Tooth Fairy, and personally applies all the winter frost.
  • In some of L. Frank Baum's stories, fairylike beings called Ryls are responsible for painting the flowers.
  • In Little House in the Big Woods Laura's father tells her that Jack Frost comes to put frost on the windows. This results in Laura attempting to 'catch' Jack Frost in the act.
  • In The Magician's Nephew, Aslan sings Narnia into being.
  • Helen Keller wrote — or thought she wrote — a perfect fairy tale about melted jewels staining autumn leaves with brilliant colors. It turned out to be a paraphrase from a book that had been read to her. The book's author went on record that Helen's version was better.
  • Daniel Curley, Ann's Spring. Mother Nature has her hands full one year with tornadoes and hurricanes, so she asks her daughter Ann to start spring for her. Ann begins the complex task, assisted by her baby brother. The pair handle various snags and beginners' glitches, but things seem to be going okay — until some neighborhood pranksters lock them in an old truck. Then it starts snowing...
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, the Rainbow Fairies are responsible for color, and the Weather Fairies for weather.

Live-Action TV
  • The MST3K film Jack Frost featured a Grandfather Frost who used a magic wand that looked like a giant icicle to put frost on the trees in winter. Cue Mike:
    Mike: I'm from Northern Wisconsin. I've seen plenty of this.

  • The Swedish summer song Idas Sommarvisa (lyrics by Astrid Lindgren) is all about this trope.
  • There is also (again in Swedish) Vem tar hand om hösten? which reveals who takes care of the various seasons when it ''isn't" autumn, winter etc., in case you ever wondered. The Hare watches over Autumn, Tomten (the Swedish Santa Claus) over Winter, the Lark over Spring, and the Shepherd herds Summer with his sheep.

  • Originates, of course, in mythology and folklore - every tradition (at least in Europe and other parts of the world with major seasonal variations) probably has at least a few. Other depictions may borrow these, or just use generic fairies or nature spirits.

Tabletop Games
  • In Exalted, the functions of Creation are run by Elemental spirits. So Elementals of Air drive the winds, Elementals of Earth cause avalanches and raise mountains, Elementals of Wood determine how and where plants will grow, and so on.
  • One of the chief differences between Mythic and Prosaic Reality in Nobilis is that when you go Mythic, things like this become the default.


Video Games
  • The Fourth Circle of Elder Gods in Lusternia is the circle of artists, responsible for moulding flowers, painting sunrises, birdsong, and other miscellaneous facets of natural beauty.
  • Aki Shizuha from Touhou is the local goddess of turning leaves. She turns leaves red by painting them by hand, which is why the leaves have different hues of colors, and she makes leaves fall from trees by kicking the tree and getting the leaves to scatter.
    • And now we have Kyouko Kasodani, who is responsible for creating echoes. Except that she found herself more and more out of a job as (quoted straight from the game's manual) "these days, superstition like 'echo is just a reflection of sound waves coming back to you-' is a common belief", so much that she entered Buddhist discipline.
  • Dwarf Fortress is a meta-example: It uses Procedural Generation to simulate weather, erosion, placement of lakes and rivers in extremely complex detail. Software engineers who work on aerodynamics simulations of the sort that run on Cray supercomputers are impressed by this game.

Western Animation
  • In an episode of The Fairly OddParents, when Timmy wishes that no one needs to sleep, they see little elves brushing dew onto the grass so it can be nice and soggy in the morning.
  • The stop motion movie The Year Without a Santa Claus features Heat Miser (who is responsible for Summer's heat) and Snow Miser (who is responsible for winter). When they get into an argument, the heroes go find their mother and ask her to step in.
  • In the 2003 special Spring for Strawberry Shortcake, Spring Is Late, so Strawberry and her friends go off to investigate and not only meet Old Man Winter, but the young girl Spring, who thinks winter is more fun than spring, and thus hasn't bothered to make the snow melt. Eventually she comes around, and even gets a song about how she works her magic: "I Put the Zing in Spring."
  • A 1936 MGM cartoon "To Spring" is built around the trope of little elves/gnomes who put the springtime colors into the plants, by operating various gnome-powered machinery and a color pipe-organ. They battle an Old Man Winter character who is determined to hang around a while longer.
    • There is also "Jack Frost", an Ub Iwerks "Comicolor" short from a year or two previous.
  • In the "Mr. Plow" episode of The Simpsons Grandpa played "Old Man Winter" in the Commercial Within A Show for Homer's plowing business.
  • Rainbow Brite has a number of multi-colored friends responsible for spreading color to the land. Her first mission involved freeing them to restore the balance.
  • Between caring for "wild" animals, stomping clouds for rain, shaking the autumn leaves off of trees with organized stampedes, manually crafting snowflakes, and completely controlling the movements of the sun and moon, Equestria, the setting of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, has this trope played so straight that the Everfree Forest, a place where weather and wildlife are self-sufficient, is considered an Eldritch Location.
    Applejack: It ain't natural!
  • The original My Little Pony And Friends had the Dell Dwellers from "Mish Mash Melee", who make the rocks, trees, and other features of the forests around Dream Valley in an underground factory.
  • Oddball variant from Tex Avery: In The House of Tomorrow (1949) there is an improved refrigerator that lets you see if the light stays on or off after you close the door. Turns out a cute little gnome that lives in the fridge shuts it off.
  • The Rankin/Bass version of Jack Frost has the title character working with a bunch of other characters to bring winter.
  • Jack Frost also appears in Frostys Winter Wonderland.
  • The characters in the Pixar Short La Luna are in charge of sweeping stars along the surface of the moon, thus creating the moon's phases.
  • In the land of Jollywood, winter is ended by Jollywood Joe, the Spring Chicken, perching on the castle and clucking.
  • Rupert Bear is on a first name basis with a lot of these beings around his home town.

Web Comics
  • This is apparently the sort of thing Gunnerkrigg Court's Regional Fairies do. This bonus page demonstrates one of them making metal rusty.
  • A mundane scientific version shows up in Freefall. Winston's specialty as a veterinarian is actually not larger animals like Florence, but the unpleasant-but-necessary microfauna of Planet Jean's freshly-terraformed ecosystem— things like parasites and vermin.

Real Life
  • Modellers that work on CGI movies can attest to the amount of work it takes to make an environment. But instead of fairies, we have coders and programs to make things like snow and sand.
    • For that matter, any sort of digital media such as video games. One of the major skills designers (of any sort) tend to learn quickly if they want to maintain their sanity is the difference between needing/wanting/having a realistic environment and a believable one. In the former, you do this trope. In the latter, you only do as much of this trope as needed to fool the viewer.
  • In Moscow it's customary to disperse rain clouds prior to major festivals by spraying them with silver-based reagents from jet planes.

Phoenix: I still can't believe these ponies control the weather! It sounds like some sort of twist at the end of a Twilight Zone episode...

Alternative Title(s):

Nature Decorator, I Dye Grass