"Oh, the weather outside is frightful,An easy way to isolate a place. A frequent manifestation is the snow day. Sometimes this is any snow at all, sometimes you'll at least require that the roads be blocked with it. Used in a wide variety of situations: Locked Room Mystery, Locked in a Room (especially—duh!—Locked in a Freezer), A House Divided, The Siege, Ten Little Murder Victims... On a lighter note, if a couple (or potential couple) happen to get Snowed-In together somewhere cozy, remember that Snow Means Love... (especially if There Is Only One Bed). A still lighter note may produce a Snowball Fight. More darkly, it might result in going mad... or worse. This trope has been used a lot in soap operas for both dramatic and romantic purposes. Mild Truth in Television: in the more southern parts of both Europe and North America, a small amount of snow can bring a city to a halt, mostly out of confusion and rarity (school districts in Texas have been known to declare a snow day for less than an inch of precipitation). It's rarely the snow itself that creates the problem, as even if there are no proper snowploughs available, the local highway maintenance organisation still has bulldozers and other earthmoving equipment. The traffic disruption usually stems from drivers who are unused to the icy and treacherous conditions, especially if the abnormal weather conditions have forced the county to be sparing in its use of road salt; roads that have been cleared of snow will often end up impassable again by a pile-up within minutes. Occasionally, this can lead to a "Stuck at the Airport" Plot, since sufficient snow will eventually overwhelm even the most capable snow removal team. Further north, where this sort of thing is par for the course, it takes actual serious buildup to have an effect. In these areas, school never closes for snow, and the phenomenon of a "snow day" is only known from TV and the Internet. Rarer variations include Hostile Weather such as heavy rain, wind, or similarly extreme weather conditions. See also Heat Wave. The unfrozen version of this trope is Rain, Rain, Go Away. See also Caught in the Rain.
But the fire is so delightful.
And since we've no place to go,
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!"
But the fire is so delightful.
And since we've no place to go,
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!"
— "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!"
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Anime and Manga
- Episode 7 of Kanokon used this plot. The snow was caused by a yuki-onna (snow woman) as part of a test on Kouta and Chizuru's relationship. Also, there were semi-sentient ninja snowmen.
- An episode of Kochikame had the main characters trapped the police box in a Tokyo snowstorm. They're prevented from opening the window and escape as it will cause the small structure to collapse until this becomes their last resort.
- In Haruhi Suzumiya, the characters get snowed in when they go skiing, and have to use clues from their hallucinations to solve a math puzzle in order to escape, because of aliens.
- It happens three times in CLANNAD: when Ushio is born, again when she dies, and again when she's in the illusory world. Although it's possible that the last two are actually the same snowstorm viewed from different perspectives.
- There's a Disney comic where Mickey and Goofy spend a weekend in a mountain cabin, and get snowed in. Goofy panics at first, while Mickey points out that he brought along plenty of food, books, and even cards. Eventually, Mickey is driven to the edge of panic by boredom and cabin fever, and Goofy calms him down... by starting a Snowball Fight. Eventually, the two dig a hole right through the snow on the other side of the door, and realize that it was only a few inches thick.
- In some versions of Superman, the Kents use a convenient blizzard to pass Clark off as their own child and to explain away why nobody noticed Martha pregnant.
- At the end of Bone Phoney is anxious to depart the Valley as soon as possible, but the first snowfall of winter (falling in one solid lump - a Brick Joke from the first issue) delays the Bones for months.
- The rather appropriate title and plot of this Criminal Minds slashfic. Hotch and Reid are snowed in and find a rather interesting way to pass the time.
- The premise of No Matter How I Look at it, it's You Guys' Fault I'm Single Over Break!, with Tomoko and Yuu trapped at the latter's house due to a heavy snowstorm.
- In Deserted Distractions, Domino High School snowing in is what traps Ryou and tea there—and lets Yami Bakura emerge.
- Happens in Tangled Up In You to force Adrien to spend the night in Marinette's room. They're not actually trapped by the snowstorm, but Tom and Sabine agree that it would be dangerous for anyone to come and pick him up.
- The Thing (1982) Scientists are stranded in an Antarctic research base due to lack of communications and transport and they can't afford to let the alien escape.
- The Shining: The family are trapped inside the hotel due to severe weather and the Snow-Cat being sabotaged.
- Snow Day, one of those Nickelodeon live-action movies, had this as its central premise, complete with evil snowplow man whose goal is to plow the streets and force kids to go to school the next day.
- Home Alone 3 had the villains taking advantage of a snowstorm to isolate the street.
- The ending of Look Who's Talking Too.
- Preposterously overdone in The Day After Tomorrow.
- Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush.
- Alive is the Donner party version. Bizarrely cheerful and upbeat in tone.
- Die Hard 2, aka Die Hard AT AN AIRPORT, has a Storm of the Century shutting down Washington Dulles airport as the enabling premise for its strangely implausible terrorist hi-jinks.
- The movie Unaccompanied Minors has the airport that five kids are at during Christmas Eve be shut down due to inclement weather. They're stuck in the airport because they ran off while all the other minors were moved to a nearby lodge until the weather cleared up.
- The French movie Huit femmes (8 Women) uses this as a setup for a whodunnit.
- The film adaptation of My Side of the Mountain had a young runaway camp out in the wilderness, and build a shelter. After staying inside the shelter during a winter storm, he discovers that he is snowed in - and the level of snow is higher than the shelter itself. He had to snuff out the fire and dig his way out before suffocating.
- The majority of The Hateful 8 has the characters waiting out a blizzard at a stagecoach stop in rural 1870's Wyoming.
- In Shut In, Mary and her son are trapped in their house by a winter storm, along with someone (or something) that appears to wish them harm.
- A blizzard isolates the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.
- Murder on the Orient Express
- In To Kill a Mockingbird, the kids get the day off from school because of a light snowfall, a rarity in Alabama.
- Happens with some frequency in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, one time in particular nearly starving/freezing a town to death.
- The Wintersmith causes this in the Tiffany Aching novel of the same name.
- Chicago in 1979 in The Pale King.
- In The Wheel of Time series, Rand and Aviendha are snowed in during Fires of Heaven. Leads to sex and more problems for Rand.
- The premise of Trapped by Michael Northrop
- In the Heralds of Valdemar novel Arrow's Flight, a huge blizzard strands Kris and Talia in a waystation for weeks. This does lead to sex; more importantly, though, it gives them the time and isolation they need to get a handle on Talia's out-of-control empathic powers.
- Other books in the series also have blizzards. In the Foundation novels, main character Mags gets snowed-in during several winters, and his mentor, Herald Jakyr, lampshades this in the last book with his comment that they always seem to be snowed-in by a blizzard the previous times they were together and wonders if it will happen again. (It does)
- Used a couple of times in the Aunt Dimity series:
- This, along with the man's medical condition, justifies Willis Sr.'s call for the RAF helicopter evacuation of the vagrant at the beginning of Aunt Dimity's Christmas.
- As indicated by the title, the plot of Aunt Dimity: Snowbound is started by a sudden blizzard.
- Used in A Song of Ice and Fire to chilling effect. Roose Bolton has invested Winterfell with troops made up of a tenuous alliance of Northern lords and Freys, when winter starts to set in with a vengeance and the castle and surrounding countryside are buried in deep snowdrifts. He learns that King Stannis is descending on them with an army, and all they need to do is hold the castle and wait for the besieging force to freeze and/or starve to death... but that's assuming he can keep his own forces from killing each other as they all fall prey to Cabin Fever and a mysterious killer starts murdering people one by one.
- In Doctor Zhivago, several times during the Red Army's movements across Siberia in the Russian Civil War, the troops get caught in what were supposed to be brief, temporary camps because of the heavy snow.
- In the 6th book of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series titled "Cabin Fever" Greg and the rest of his family get snowed in during one particularly rough blizzard and lose electricity allowing their food to spoil spoil and their basement to flood. This problem is resolved when we learn it was Greg's little brother Manny who turned off the power in the whole house except for his room because no one would teach him how to tie his shoes.
Live Action TV
- Little House on the Prairie: Several episodes, often set around Christmas or during the winter, saw the Ingalls and other Walnut Grove residents in their struggle to survive severe blizzards. For them, riding out a blizzard or severe snowstorm was far different and far more life-threatening in the 1800s than today, and the show does a good job of showcasing this.
- "Survival": The Ingalls are traveling in southern Minnesota when they are caught in a mid-spring snowstorm. They stay in an abandoned cabin until the storm passes and conditions improve, which is more than a week.
- "Blizzard": On Christmas Eve, the children are all stranded at school, but only after a town effort to get them to return to school before the blizzard strikes.
- "A Christmas They Never Forgot": With allusions to the real-life Laura Ingalls Wilder's novel "The Long Winter" (itself a reminiscence of the severe winter of 1881), the Ingalls are snowbound inside their cabin (along with their friend, Hester-Sue).
- There was an episode of Good Eats that started with "...Three inches of snow paralyzed Atlanta." It was supposed to be a "documentary" episode taking place just after Thanksgiving, and the three inches of snow ended up forcing the cast inside and sending most of the production crew into a "Good Eats starved" frenzy, from which they were appeased by Thanksgiving leftovers until Emeril came by in a V-22 Osprey. Atlanta's residents are infamous for driving off the road at the sight of a single snowflake, three inches of the white stuff really would paralyze the city. During the week of 1/11/11, Atlanta was paralyzed by 3 inches of snow. Though the problem was less the actual snowfall, but the week of subfreezing temperatures that turned most of the city into an ice-skating rink. Most schools had a snow week. Cue the puns: snowmageddon, snowacolypse, icemageddon, Hothlanta...
- The X-Files Season 1 episode "Ice", in which they're snowed out up in the Arctic. And while they find time for a Ship Tease, seeing as how it's The X-Files, the writers find some way to make it creepy.
- The West Wing episode "Holy Night" uses this; though they aren't literally snowed in, the airports are closed due to the blizzard, preventing people from leaving. Among the people stuck at the White House are the president's therapist, Zoe Bartlett and her French boyfriend who Charlie despises, the Yale Whiffenpoofs, and Toby's estranged Jewish Mafia hitman father. Awkwardness ensues.
- Happens in a couple of different Night Court episodes.
- This occurs in an episode of Stargate SG-1 to Jack and Sam. They're stranded on an ice planet. It's Antarctica.
- In one Murder, She Wrote episode Jessica was snowed in at a ski resort where a murderer was on the loose.
- In one episode of Bosom Buddies, Kip and Henry find themselves trapped in a mountain cabin during a blizzard, with no food save half a container of non-dairy creamer.
- A Benson episode has the main characters snowed in at the governor's winter cabin.
- The 3rd Rock from the Sun episode "Frozen Dick" has the characters trapped in various locales by a blizzard.
- An Everybody Loves Raymond episode has Ray and Debra stuck at Frank and Marie's house.
- A Christmas Episode of One Day at a Time (1975) has Ann and the girls getting snowed in at a mountain cabin with no heat.
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show has an episode where the WJM staff, who are all angry with each other for various reasons, get trapped at the station by a blizzard and hash things out at an impromptu early Christmas party thrown by Sue Ann.
- Another episode has Mary hosting the station's election-night coverage as a blizzard cuts off communications to the studio.
- On an episode of The Nanny, the entire Sheffield household plus C.C. gets stuck in Fran's parents' apartment this way.
- The Elementary episode "Snow Angels" plays with this trope. New York City is paralyzed by a massive blizzard, and the police are overwhelmed—which is why some murderous thieves choose that moment to rob a Federal Reserve facility in New Jersey. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson go after the gang, although they only way they can get around is by bribing a snow plow driver to chauffeur them.
- The Doctor Who Christmas episode "Voyage of the Damned" has its roots in a Christmas wherein series producer Russell T. Davies was snowed in with only a VHS copy of The Poseidon Adventure to pass the time.
- One of the later season episodes of The Red Green Show had Red, Mike and Harold trapped in the lodge during a large snowfall. Mike spent the entire time trying to convince Red that they would have to eat Harold in order to survive.
- Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: In "Murder Under the Mistletoe" (whose plot is equal parts The Mousetrap and And Then There Were None), the chalet is snowed in, trapping all of the guests there with a murderer, and making it impossible for help to get in from the outside.
- Parodied in an episode of Good Eats that dealt with post-Thanksgiving leftovers. The crew was having conniptions because of an inch of snowfall. (They were in Georgia.)
- Great News: "Snowmageddon of the Century" finds the whole gang stuck in the newsroom after a blizzard hits New Jersey.
- The song "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!", shown at the top of the page, is not only all about this trope but also has a surprising amount of sexual innuendo for a Christmas song. "The lights are turned way down low", for example.
- "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" has this, too.
- "Baby, It's Cold Outside", even more so.
- Kate Bush's "Snowed In at Wheeler Street" shows a considerably less pleasant situation.
- Calvin and Hobbes and similar strips/series frequently have the character wish for a snow day:
- As Calvin once said, "Getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery."
- Especially since Calvin appears to live in a part of the country where it snows 2 feet all winter long.
- Danae and Kate, along with their pets, getting snowed in kicks off a particularly bizarre storyline in Non Sequitur.
- The Magnus Archives: The setup of the episode "Schwarzwald" is that the narrator is obliged by heavy snow (hardly surprising in a 19th century winter in the Black Forest) to extend a visit to his nephew, during which his strange experience takes place.
- Remember11 focuses on two groups of people, one of which is stuck in a mountain cabin due to heavy snowstorms. The other group also gets snowed in frequently, but doesn't suffer from this as severely.
- Happens in White Wolf of Icicle Creek to ensure Nancy can only snoop around outside during daylight hours. Also in Treasure in the Royal Tower, when bad weather restricts when she can explore the outdoor areas.
- In Tokimeki Memorial 2, this occurs in two events: the first happens with Hikari, with her and the protagonist forced to stay at the Ski Resort's train station for the night due to a snow storm, and the second with Miyuki, with her and the protagonist forced to take refuge in a cave, when they're surprised by a snow storm as they're skiing.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship had something like this, but with a twist◊.
- pictures for sad children tackles this one:
- Dad: Snowed in, you know what that means. All social constructs have dissolved.
Son: No, dad.
Dad: I'm not your dad anymore, I'm just a person.
- In Question Duck, opening the door is unwise — and the setting for a question.
- The Looney Tunes short "Snow Business" has Sylvester and Tweety trapped in a cabin by a blizzard.
- An episode of Hey Arnold!, simply entitled "Snow", has the neighborhood pounded by snow. Juxtaposed with the episode "Heat"
- Dexter's Laboratory.
- The Simpsons did this on several occasions.
- Done in an episode of South Park. Cannibalism ensued.
- The Daria episode "Antisocial Climbers".
- In one episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, the titular character enhanced his friend's sunscreen to create a massive snowstorm in the middle of summer. The next morning, he wakes up, expecting it to have worn off... only to find that the snow level is so high, he can barely see out of his bedroom window on the second floor.
- Turns out there was actually a warning label on the product about that sort of thing. Go figure.
- An episode of Doug.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "Big Flakes" has Ren and Stimpy getting trapped in a cabin by snow and eventually go insane.
- Happens in one episode of Little Bear, while Little Bear and his family at at Emily's. Luckily, Emily's grandmother knows a lot of good things to do with snow—including making Snow Cream.
- Rocko's Modern Life episode "Cabin Fever" when Rocko, Heffer, and the Bigheads are trapped in a cabin by snow.
- This is the driving ploy for Snowed in at the House of Mouse, the Christmas Episode, in which...well, yeah. The entire Disney "family" is blizzarded into the nightclub for Christmas.
- In the Dan Vs. episode "Vs Ski Trip" Dan and Elise end up stuck together in the same cabin, while Chris is snowed in with a creepy family they met.
- The Family That Dwelt Apart: The Pruitts wind up isolated on their little island when the bay freezes over. They are actually doing just fine, until the authorities get the mistaken idea that one of them has appendicitis. Total disaster ensues.