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Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain

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"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."
— Opening line of Neuromancer note 
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Ever noticed how the weather is always lousy in Cyberpunk settings? Whenever it's not pouring cats and dogs, 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 genre, dark weather has the benefit of making the bright lights and advertisements of a futuristic city stand out, as they reflect off rain droplets and puddles. By contrast, the resulting damp and lack of color gives the street level a very downtrodden, dirty look, particularly where The City Narrows and the high-tech infrastructure is decayed and rusted. Also like Film Noir, works involving these kinds of weather patterns will nearly always take place at night.

Often overlaps with Industrial Ghetto. Compare City Noir, Gray Rain of Depression and Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death.

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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ghost in the Shell (1995) and Innocence, though in keeping with the show's status as Lighter and Softer, the weather is nicer in Stand Alone Complex. There are still more than a few episodes with rain, such as the fourth episode of the first season, where it's actually a minor plot point (a murder is covered up as a traffic accident caused by a rainstorm).
  • Dominion Tank Police is set in a future where the weather is so bad even ordinary people carry gas masks with them for fear of pollution.
  • There's always some clouds or weird shadows in Serial Experiments Lain.
  • In Ergo Proxy, the world is always cloudy. It's a plot point because the Proxies were designed to die in the presence of sunlight.
  • Silent Möbius, which was heavily influenced by Blade Runner, is set in a Tokyo with near constant rain.
  • This trope is what drives the plot of Sky Blue.
  • In Kiba, there's one place populated entirely by cyborgs where it's always raining.
  • Though not strictly cyberpunk, K: Missing Kings evokes the genre by using this look in the opening sequence to introduce the tech-tinged new antagonists, JUNGLE.
  • The Hidden Rain Village in Naruto gives off this vibe: Though its technology isn't that much greater than the surrounding areas, it is still a very densely populated urban region with tall industrial-looking buildings where, true to its name, it's always raining.

    Comic Books 
  • In Elephantmen, it rains very frequently in 2250's Los Angeles. British-born creator Richard Starkings says this is because "all Englishmen in L.A. miss the rain — or at least I do."

    Film 
  • 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." This page's image even comes from sequel Blade Runner 2049, which is also very rainy even if with more dry sequences (especially those not in Los Angeles).
  • 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.
  • Minority Report features some sunny vistas, but there's also quite a few overcast skies, as well as precog-predicted rain.
  • Immortal takes place in New York City, where 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.
  • Trouble in Mind is a noirish tale set in an indeterminate retro-future filmed in Seattle, appropriately named "Rain City".
  • In TRON: Legacy, Cyberspace is clouded over pretty much all the time, although it never actually rains. However, 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 Avatar is seen to look like this in new scenes added at the beginning of the Collector's Edition Extended Cut.
  • The climate on the planet in Aliens is inhospitable. It's always dark and rainy.
  • 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.
  • Split Second (1992): (Then-) future London, and so bad that a good chunk of it has long since flooded. You never even see the sun up until the final credits.
  • Played with in Alita: Battle Angel: the film, while adapting a classic cyberpunk story and largely keeping the manga's overall dark tone, has a distinctive Lighter and Softer vibe, and most of it happens under a bright sunlight. However, whenever the story turns to the dark, a night descends, and the rain starts in earnest.
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    Literature 
  • Neuromancer: The original line was meant to invoke the gray static seen when an analog channel goes off air.
  • Lampshaded in Neverwhere, by using the same phrase from Neuromancer to describe a clear sky. Because Technology Marches On, dead TV channels are now a blank blue.
  • 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.
  • In Bruce Sterling's Heavy Weather (1994), 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 
  • Altered Carbon: In the Action Prologue, Kovacs is apparently in an apartment overlooking a beach at sunset. Then he turns off the Artificial Outdoors Display to reveal a dark and stormy cityscape with twin moons, shortly before a well-armed police unit does an explosive entry. When he's resleeved on Earth, the grimy megacities that the lower classes live in are usually seen with overcast weather or pouring rain, to contrast them with the wealthy homes of the Meths who live in Star Scraper homes above the cloud level.
  • Andor sets up the Darker and Edgier cyberpunk look — in comparison to the usual Star Wars universe — by introducing the main character walking across a bridge in the rain into a Company Town. The rain actually proves useful, removing potential witnesses from the streets in a normally busy Red Light District when Cassian ends up killing a couple of corporate security officers.
  • In the miniseries Cold Lazarus, it's thick smog, closer to brown smoke. People wonder aloud what it must have been like when the air was clear enough to go for walks outside.
  • Scenes in Dark Angel, when they do take place during the day, are always cloudy and overcast. Though this could just be because the show takes place in Seattle.
  • Total Recall 2070: It's always dark, gloomy, and often raining in the cyberpunkish New York City of 2070.

    Music 
  • mind.in.a.box's albums - set within a cyberpunk continuity - all take place at night, when Black is engaging in operations for The Agency. The cover art for Memories depicts Black standing before a pitch-black city, and the final song in the album, "5ynchr0ni7e" begins with White musing on the city.
    The night is black like never before. From the roof of the Agency, the entire sprawling city looks like a dark maelstrom that constantly changes form...

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • Storyteller handbooks for the Old World Of Darkness warn against relying too much on this. It becomes absurd, and eventually it'll flood the Nosferatu out of the sewers.

    Video Games 
  • Subverted in ANNO: Mutationem. Noctis City is very much a vibrant Cyberpunk metropolis and can look quite gloomy under the cover of night and rain both, but the city is just as often bright, colorful, and sunny thanks to liberal use of "artificial sunlight" deployed by its government.
  • The first arc of Binary Domain takes place at night, during heavy rain.
  • Deus Ex Universe
    • 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). Subverted with the cyberpunk-inspired Sanctuary Fortress in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes: the "rain" is actually lines of energy that flow upwards.
  • Dream Web: Permanent drizzle with occasional showers and lightnings. The protagonist doesn't seem to mind. In-game weather report:
    General
    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.
    Pollution
    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.
    Today's Outlook
    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 20 Minutes into the Future) is on the streets of Chicago; as the whole level is essentially an homage to Blade 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.
  • Averted in Mirror's Edge. The weather is sunny throughout most of the game except for two nighttime levels.
  • The beginning mission of Mirror's Edge Catalyst takes place at night during a rainstorm. The City having a distinct cyberpunk appearance with neon signage all over the place really sets the atmosphere.
  • Parodied in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal, where a button on a set in Holostar Studios triggers rain on a cyberpunk city set. Press it again and it starts snowing.
  • Mario Kart 7 has a cyberpunk track "Neo Bowser City", where it's always raining.
  • New Lumos in Miitopia is a cyberpunk, neon-lit city which is perpetually watered by heavy rain.
  • Defied in Transistor, where the public is able to control the weather via popular vote, but when Red checks a terminal that contains a weather ballot, rain is specifically left off of it. (The Transistor laments that they can't make it rain to cover their tracks.) Near the end of the game, Red gets admin privileges for the same terminal, and is able to make it snow instead.
  • Dreamfall Chapters: Zoë complains that it always rains in Europolis, to the point where Zoë jokingly explains to the locals what the Sun is.
  • Satellite Reign uses this along with many other cyberpunk tropes.
  • Played with in Stray. The city is underground and sealed against weather, but there are old, leaking pipes everywhere that cause water to leak down throughout the city in an accidental simulation of rain.
  • Zig-zagged in Cyberpunk 2077. Rain is a possible weather effect randomly occurring during open world exploration, but it is rather rare. On the other hand, certain main story missions seem hard-wired to make it rain outside once the player reaches certain points purely for the dramatic effect.
  • The Abandoned Pool in Lethal League Blaze becomes this trope once the match has gone on long enough for a One-Hit Kill to be possible, as an abrupt thunderstorm rolls into the area and pours rain down on the combatants.
  • Cloudpunk: Nivalis is constantly rainy and overcast, with thick thunderclouds hanging over the city (or at least the parts of it that aren't built underground). Although the game takes place over a single night, making it initially seem like it's just lousy weather on that particular night, it's stated several places that the permanent cloud cover is part of the city as no-one living below the city's spires have ever seen the sun or the sky.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Bionic Heart, it is always dark, cloudy or rainy. The horrible weather is explained by Global Warming destroying Earth's climate and turning it into a Single-Biome Planet.
  • In Planetarian, the acid rain that has been pouring endlessly for the last thirty years is a result of the nuclear fallout brought about by the great war that almost wiped out all of humanity.
  • It's always night in Snatcher — which is a big homage-off of Blade Runner. Granted, it's because the titular Snatchers' fake skin suffers horribly in direct sunlight.
  • Tokyo Dark's title does not refer to the darkness caused by cloud cover but given how frequent rainy weather is in the game, it might as well. Partly enforced by story necessity; rain means there are few people walking the streets, so Detective Ito's job is considerably harder.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Fenspace: The inhabitants of Genaros, a cyberpunk-themed space station, went through the trouble of building it with tinted windows that let in only 25% of incoming light, installing sprinklers in its central axis and using holograms to make its "sky" look like a television tuned to a dead channel specifically to invoke this trope.
    S Malaclypse Fnord, author of The Rough Guide to Fenspace: "If I were to envision a cyberpunk theme park, I couldn't do any better than Genaros. It's dark, dingy, damp, bright, shiny, full of promise and threat. What I don't understand – what I may never understand – is how people can stand to live there all the time."
  • At first, episode 1 of Dynamo Dream appears to be playing this trope straight, beginning in rainy conditions — but averts it when an overheard weather forecast declares that the skies are going to clear; by the time the Waterworks Market is open the sun is shining.

    Western Animation 
  • The rain shows up dramatically for the final battle in Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker, though it's hinted at early on with cloudy weather and drops on car doors.

    Real Life 
  • 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. Pretty much anywhere on the west facing side of the Cascade mountains can be put under this trope with little trouble.
  • 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 (complete with plenty of neon lights, one of the busiest districts in the world, winding alleys side by side with plenty of skyscrapers to the point of topping the list of cities with the most skyscrapers, and a thriving night life). It 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. It's also hit by typhoons every single year.
  • Of course, in any discussion of this trope, you can't forget the Cyberpunk Japanese Neo-Empire, the financial, cultural, and political heart of any classic cyberpunk world — and a nation that's even rainier than the UK. Tokyo averages 60 inches of rain per year (for comparison's sake, America's wettest city, Mobile, Alabama, averages 66.3 inches annually), and many cities receive frequent "guerrilla rainstorms" due to both the climate and the urban heat island effect.
  • Though not as noticeable or famous as the other East Asian cities in the list, Seoul could be considered as one, thanks to it's reputation as the tech-savvy capital of South Korea, heavy neon lights, and a monsoon season, which results in a pretty amazing scenery.
  • Busan, which has even more skyscrapers than Seoul, also qualifies. The port city is geographically similar to Hong Kong, has neon lights, and most importantly, it also has a monsoon season. The results speak for themselves.
  • The Nordic Countries. Extremely tech-savvy countries, which are located at the occlusion zone of the Northern Atlantic low pressures. The presence of the Scandian mountains and the ensuing Föhn wind certainly doesn't make the climate drier or sunnier.
  • China used cloud seeding to prevent rain falling on the 2008 Olympics, by precipitating it over the rest of Beijing. They've also used it to clear smog.

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