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Cold Snap

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An episode in a series where snow and cold are the order of the day, as opposed to the normal setting.

In many series almost all of the action takes place in mild, clear weather. This allows the cast to dress comfortably, and saves money on weather effects. But some stories need extremely cold weather and/or snow to work. Thus the Cold Snap episode.

This may be an episode that acknowledges that the setting normally has winter, even if all the scenes are shot inside. Or perhaps there's a freak snowstorm in a setting that normally doesn't have cold weather, making it a Big Storm Episode. In some cases, the cast travels to a cold area specifically to enjoy winter activities, a cold counterpart to the Beach Episode.

A Christmas Episode may also be this, but usually that trope has the pleasant form of Dreaming of a White Christmas. The best way to tell these episode tropes apart is this:

  • If Christmas or any similar holiday/tradition is the central focus of the episode, it's a Christmas Episode.
  • If there's no mention of Christmas/holidays or it's neither the central focus nor even the side plot of the episode, it's this.

Compare Rain, Rain, Go Away, Heat Wave (both dealing with different weather extremes), and Braving the Blizzard.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Jewelland undergoes one in episode 40 of Jewelpet Sunshine, with the cause being an aurora in the sky. A side-effect of the cold snap is that anyone who makes a pun during it will freeze on the spot (in Japan, bad puns are associated with the cold).

    Fan Works 
  • Vow of Nudity: This is the core premise of the story Peril in the Frozen North, which is just as deadly a situation as it sounds thanks to Haara always being naked.

  • Murder on the Orient Express makes a point about how cold it is outside the train and the impossibility that the murderer could have escaped into the snow; the cold was turned into a motif during the Poirot adaptation.
  • In the Warrior Cats series, usually 1-2 books in each story arc take place in winter, and oddly enough they seem to have the biggest events happen in them. The fact that it's winter becomes plot-relevant as well, as winter makes it more difficult for the Clans to hunt and usually causes an outbreak of sickness, and the weather occasionally causes events to occur (such as a cat falling through the ice - which leads to a death once and a forbidden romance another time - or the thaw causing floods).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: A few episodes depend on winter weather for their humor.
    • "Blue Goldfish" sees Mr. Conklin very miserly with the furnaces' coal supply, thus keeping Madison High School cold inside during the winter weather. This was a television remake of the radio episode "Lack of Coal at Madison".
    • "Going Skiing", a radio episode, sees Miss Brooks go skiing with Mr. Boynton. Hilarity Ensues when Miss Brooks uses Walter Denton's new ski-fasteners.
    • "Winter Outing", another radio episode, sees Madison High's faculty and students continue a tradition started by school founder, Yodar Kritch. A winter picnic in frosty Kritch Canyon .
  • An episode of Double Rush (short-lives series about a NY bike messenger service featuring David Arquette, Adam Goldberg and DL Hugley) takes place during a blizzard. The messengers actually like the snowy weather because delivery charges are tripled.
  • The Faerie Tale Theatre episode "The Snow Queen".
  • M*A*S*H has several episodes revolving around these, with perhaps the most memorable being Season 1's "The Longjohn Flap", in which Hawkeye's coveted long underwear is traded through the camp.
  • In Eureka Season 3 Episode 17 "Have a Ice Day" A ice core sample from the Artic sends Temperatures plummeting and causes the whole town to ice over.

     Video Games 
  • This is one of the two possible events the player needs to prepare for on Day 2 of Don't Escape: 4 Days to Survive, the other one being an equally lethal Heat Wave.
  • A yearly event (although only an aesthetic/graphical one) in Final Fantasy XIV when all three major Eorzean cities (Limsa Lominsa, New Gridania, and even Uldah) get snow flurries in IRL December for the "Starlight" holiday event.
    • Zones with permanent or near-permanent cold/snow also exist (although it too is aesthetic or Gameplay and Story Segregation only): all of the Coerthas zones, including Ishgard/Empyreum, and Garlemald. Old Sharlayan is also flurry-prone, but doesn't have a buildup of snow.
  • In the climax of Frostpunk's scenario "A New Home", the final and deadliest challenge New London must face is a gigantic storm, bringing the already cold temperatures of the setting to lows that cannot even be seen on Mars. In the final hours, the temperature reaches minus 150 degrees celsius.
  • This trope, along with its opposite, are one of many random events in Rimworld that the AI Storyteller can throw at you. Expect frostbite problems and dead crops if you aren't ready.
  • The Sims: Happens every winter (and in fall if you're unlucky) in every game with a Seasons expansion. In The Sims 4, Sims exposed to too-cold temperatures can freeze to death.
  • Surviving Mars has this as one of the four location-influenced disasters, which increases the energy consumption of all buildings and freezes water towers.
  • Xenogears: Post The End of the World as We Know It on disc 2, one of the very few places left with sentient, non-mutated life is a polar snowfield.

    Visual Novels 
  • On the field trip to Barbarossa in Double Homework, the weather is cold enough that the mountain is covered in a blanket of snow. What makes this particularly jarring is that it takes place in the summer.

  • In Plume, the weather suddenly switches from sun-burnt desert to snow-covered forests between chapter 9 and 10, on account of a three-month's Time Skip.

    Western Animation 
  • The The Ant and the Aardvark cartoon "The Froze Nose Knows" had the Aardvark chasing after the Ant in the winter snow, at the same time dealing with a hibernating bear who trespasses in his home and ends with him falling into a frozen pond. At the end of the cartoon, the Aardvark decides to hitchhike to Palm Springs for the winter.
  • In the Fireman Sam episode "Baa Baa Baby", it's unusually cold in Pontypandy, although there is no snow. Because of this, Mike sets up an electric heater in Bronwyn's cafe, which causes problems when Sarah leaves her jacket on it and it catches fire.
  • The aptly named Hey Arnold! episode "Snow". The episode itself didn't deal with the cold, but was the backdrop of Arnold's Grandpa trying to instill some responsibility in Arnold, but Arnold taking it a bit too far and Grandpa trying to fix it. It's also a sequel to the previous episode "Heat" as the rain that ends that episode turns to snow at the beginning of this one.
  • The Ghost and Molly McGee:
    • In "Ice Princess", Molly learns that every four years, the ghost of a failed figure skater brings a huge ice storm to Brighton, and she sets out trying to pacify the spirit.
    • In "Ready, Set, Snow!", Molly is determined to enjoy her first snow day in Brighton playing outside with her friends Libby and Scratch, who would rather spend the day relaxing indoors in the Danish tradition of hygge.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The episode "Winter Wrap-Up" revolves around the ponies of Ponyville cleaning up the ice and snow on the last day of winter (and Twilight Sparkle trying to find a place where she can help out).
  • The Rugrats episode "The Blizzard" has the babies playing in the snow, playing at making an expedition to the North Pole to get Santa to fix Chuckie's favorite toy.
  • The plot of The Simpsons episode "Homer the Heretic" is kicked off by Homer deciding to stay home from church due to a big snowstorm.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Survival of the Idiots", SpongeBob and Patrick end up locked in Sandy's tree dome while she's hibernating for winter. They not only have to deal with the cold, but with a cranky, sleep-walking Sandy.
    • In "Snowball Effect", a freak snowstorm in Bikini Bottom leads to Patrick and SpongeBob having a snowball fight and eventually dragging Squidward into it.
  • Zig & Sharko has two episodes: "Frozen Island", and the episode aptly titled "Cold Snap".