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Dramatic Thunder

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"Dramatic effects by God himself!"
Clifford, Deathtrap

For added atmosphere, play this video while reading on.

Nothing says "This is dramatic, ominous and/or heavy foreshadowing!" like an ionic ground-to-air charge-release — in other words, lightning, and the accompanying thunder. Whether underlining the villain's apparent success, or the heroes' last-second arrival, you can just bet that the thunder is anything but a random result of the global weather-system.

There are variants of this:

  1. The Thunderous Underline marks a recently-spoken sentence or word as particularly important, illuminates a recently-arrived character as particularly dangerous and/or sinister, or provide appropriate mood lightning for a villainous laugh. This is frequently lampshaded, subverted, or just plain mocked, though it still gets played straight on occasion.
  2. In The Thunderous Confrontation, a fierce thunderstorm provides an appropriately chaotic background to a battle — of weapons or of wills. Usually, it will be the final, climactic confrontation between hero and villain, and you can just bet that the weather will clear up as soon as the hero's won. Frequently, the thunderstorm will play an active part in the battle, with lightning striking exposed targets, starting fires, causing trees to fall, or just making the Airborne Cavalry unable to come to the hero's aid. Almost always played straight.
  3. A Storm Is Coming adds thunder as a sound effect to a dramatically brewing storm as part of the Foreshadowing. Often far off in the distance and with its lightning not visible; conversely, if lightning flashes had not had audible thunder earlier, thunder may indicate that the storm is closing in. It may also thunder with the storm clouds directly overhead but no rain yet.
  4. Thunder = Downpour occurs when the thunder announces the torrential downpour, for which there is no other clue.
  5. God Is Displeased and a well-timed thunderclap from above signals that a character's sins may merit some Divine Punishment. If they don't repent, a Bolt of Divine Retribution may be next. Say some extra prayers if there's a God of Thunder on the scene. Generally Played for Laughs.

In the past, the stock sound effect for this was "Castle Thunder", which now is only used for a retro feel. Interestingly, almost all Hollywood thunder occurs simultaneously with the lightning flash (obviously averted when said lightning is blowing up trees and power lines right in the middle of the scene). See also Lightning Reveal.

This will not overlap with Gray Rain of Depression unless the person is angry as well as sad. An example of Empathic Environment. See also Thunder Shock, Fear of Thunder. Also see It Was a Dark and Stormy Night. Compare Lightning Can Do Anything, related to Stop Motion Lighting.

Examples of Thunderous Underline:

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  • One of the Dairy Queen Lips ads about the DQ valu-menu has the lips almost getting struck by lightning for saying that he's "master of my own domain! All powerful! Muahahahahaha!"

    Anime & Manga 
  • In episode 20 of Noir, after the two titular assassins have just finished a running battle across the rooftops of Paris against a small army of suit-wearing killers with creepy masks, Chloe makes her appearance, standing on top of a chimney — with a flash of lightning behind her. Which is a good tipoff that something important is about to happen, considering that Chloe usually favors the Stealth Hi/Bye.
  • In the second episode of the Ranma ½ anime, Tatewaki Kuno introduces himself as "The Blue Thunder of Furinkan High" with an appropriately-timed ominous thunder. This is a deliberate subversion, as Kuno is ye originale Martial Arts Butt-Monkey for the entire series.
    • A later episode (and manga chapter) shows Ryouga showing up at the Tendo Dojo for the first time, having tracked down Ranma there. Just as he declares his intention to kill Ranma, lightning illuminates his features (a bit more dramatic in the animated version, where it lights up the whole scene.)
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX episode 88, a single bolt of lightning, from a single cloud that came out of nowhere in a clear blue sky, punctuates Jun Manjoume "Thunder" (it's a pun on his insistence toward the use of honorifics after his name) calling out his catch phrase, signifying his return to some semblance of normalcy.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid used this for the introduction of Victoria Dahlgrun, Vivio and Einhart's tournament rival who inherited the blood of the Ancient Belkan Thunder Emperor (even if it's just a bit) and who will show them the truth of the strongest *thunder*! The effect was promptly ruined by her butler, who reminded her of her participation in last year's tournament, where she failed just short of the finals.
  • In Fist of the North Star, several of the major villains are first introduced amongst flashes of lightning, but none get a more thunderous introduction than Toki Actually Amiba, whose first non-flashback appearance is surrounded by repeated bolts of lightning. Nevermind that he's INDOORS. It's somewhat appropriate for his Strapped to an Operating Table Mad Pressure-Point Expert persona.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny plays this straight during Shinn and Athrun's battle between the Destiny and GOUF, in which Rey's lines are often met with lightning strikes, as well as Athrun's "You're being manipulated" line to Shinn.
  • Used in Popotan when Mea defeats Keith in episode 10. Almost, that is.
  • In the third episode of X1999, blurring the line with Thunderous Confrontation. Lightning flashes repeatedly as Kamui confronts Fuma at an abandoned basketball-court and they both have a premonition about their future battles - and at the same time, across town at the Tokagushi Shrine, Nataku attacks Kyuogo to steal the Divine Sword, again amidst the flashing lightning. It hardly counted as a confrontation, however, considering how outmatched Kyuogo was. By the time something approaching a fair fight develops - between Nataku and Kamui - the thunder has already passed…
  • Dragon Ball Z
    • In the original series and Z, whenever either one of the Eternal Dragons are summoned, the sky goes dark and lightning flashes.
    • When Goku goes Super Saiyan for the first time, the sky turns dark and lightning flashes across the sky.
  • Occurs twice in When Marnie Was There at the silo. First a powerful thunder prevents the two maids to go through with their plan to force Marnie to enter the detested silo. Later a dramatic thunder scares Marnie big time when inside the silo with Anna.
  • In Flavors of Youth, a thunderclap occurs as Xiao Ming receives a call from his father that we later learn is about his dying grandmother.

    Comic Books 

    Comic Strips 
  • In A Garfield Halloween, Garfield and Odie encounter a creepy abandoned house out in the woods. When a bolt of lighting flashes behind it, with the obligatory peal of thunder, Garfield lampshades it by commenting, "Nice touch!"

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • Played for Laughs in The Emperor's New Groove when thunder and lightning decides to strike as Yzma triumphantly declares it to be dinnertime. Granted, she was planning to poison Kuzco during the dinner, but still.
  • Played with in Encanto. Mirabel has found the last prophecy made by her missing Uncle Bruno, an image of which is etched into a shattered glass tile. As she starts to piece the broken glass back together and sees that she might be responsible for her family's magical powers starting to fade, there is an ominous clap of thunder and flash of lighting... but it's just her Aunt Pepa, whose emotions manifest as weather, coming into the room trailed by a tiny thundercloud.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: During "The Bells of Notre Dame", thunderstorm rolls in after the statues that adorn Notre Dame Cathedral gave Death Glare to Judge Claude Frollo.
    Frollo: What must I do?
  • The Iron Giant: Employed in the opening scene when the giant robot arrives on Earth as a meteorite and he appears in the floodwaters during the storm, ominously silhouetted.
  • Kung Fu Panda uses this form of the trope to punctuate Tai Lung's escape: as he stands on the precipice outside the exploded doors, he sends Zeng flying back to the temple to "tell them the real Dragon Warrior is coming home." Later, he arrives at said temple, appearing in the time it took Shifu to blink from the accompanying lightning.
  • The Phantom Tollbooth: Dramatic Thunder occurs whenever Milo announces that he's going to the Castle in the Air.
  • Space Jam: While the Looney Tunes are on the practice court, the day is bright and sunny. Once they cede the court to the Nerdlucks, however, storm clouds roll in and thunder is heard. Under an overcast sky, the five Nerdlucks go One-Winged Angel, and transform into the five hulking Monstars. And there's suddenly an oversize full moon overhead, too.
  • In Toy Story 3, when Lotso, Chuckles and Big Baby first arrive at Sunnyside during a rainy night, the facility's logo flashes up when a lightning strikes and thunder rolls.
  • In Turning Red, Mei's nightmare is interspersed with shots showing lightning outside her window.
  • Spoofed in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Lord Victor Quartermaine has come to ask Reverend Hedges how to kill the were-rabbit. Loud thunder accentuates every dramatic sentence until Victor gets annoyed and closes the shutters so they can talk normally.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 1945 film adaptation of And Then There Were None, there's a dramatic clap of thunder sounds after the doctor confirms that the third victim was in fact murdered. Later there's another instance of dramatic thunder right after the Judge says that the murderer must be one of them.
  • In the Child's Play films, every time Chucky transfers his soul or is revived, a sudden lightning storm appears. Beginning with Bride, it becomes less dramatic (from a large bolt directly striking the area where he performs the transfer in the first film down to low rumbling in the fourth) until by the fifth entry it's completely non-existent.
  • Godzilla (1954): When Shinkichi, his brother, and mother were suddenly awakened by Godzilla, Shinkichi immediately leaves the house, realizing something was up. When Masaji goes to get his brother, there's a very excellent timing as he had a very horrified expression as thunder strikes.
  • Night of the Living Dead (1968): The appearance of the first zombie in the film in the opening cemetery scene is heralded by this.
  • Venom: Let There Be Carnage: There is a flash of lightning at the end of Carnage's Title Drop during the final showdown.
  • A more subtle version occurs in Withnail and I, where the ominous thunder happens right before the messenger comes with a message that means their friendship is bound to be over very soon.
  • Airplane! parodies this mercilessly, using "Castle Thunder" to underline every minutely dramatic sentence.
  • In many Bollywood musicals, father figures get one of these when laying down the law (frequently Arranged Marriage).
    • Bollywood loves to play this one straight. At the beginning of Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham , two characters argue about telling X that his brother was adopted. Cue reveal that X is in the room and heard everything. CUE LIGHTNING.
  • In Young Frankenstein. Three words: IT-COULD-WORK! *Boooom*
    • And every single time someone utters Frau Blucher's name.
  • The Goonies. Right after the line "If we don't do something now there's going to be a golf course right where we're standing." when Chunk, Mikey, Mouth, and Data are looking at the Treasure Map.
  • In a rare not-even-the-least-bit-funny example, thunder can be heard during Roy Batty's death speech in Blade Runner. Somewhat subverted in that most people hear it as thunder rolling away.
  • Used in The Matrix when Morpheus first addresses Neo as The One, and again when Neo takes the red pill.
  • The Ghost Goes West: Once Murdoch finds a McLAggen descendant to humiliate, cue the thunder and lightning.
  • Early in The President's Analyst, a patient of the eponymous psychiatrist reveals he's a government agent concluding a background check on him. He suggests taking the conversation outside as the office could be bugged. The doctor scoffs at the thought, until the agent casually points out the bug he'd planted. As the doctor ponders what he's been unaware of, thunder rumbles in the background.
  • In the movie Night of the Demon, Dr. Holden is skeptical about a deadly curse that's been placed on him. As he compares notes with the niece of his associate who had died after a similar curse, he realizes he may have been passed an essential slip of parchment. As he rushes for his briefcase to look for it, thunder booms. That can't be good...
  • One of the posters in The Return of Hanuman uses Dramatic Thunder to indicate the antagonists of the movie.
  • All the time in Mortal Kombat: The Movie. For example, when Raiden explains to Liu Kang that Shang Tsung has stolen the souls of thousands of opponents. Raiden is the God of Thunder with a penchant for theatrics, so he's probably doing it on purpose.
  • The film version of Godspell: "And from that moment, he began to look out for an opportunity *booooom* to betray him."
  • In the 1999 film version of With Fire and Sword lighting and thunder occurs when Bohdan Khmelnytsky introduces himself. Khmelnytsky is Anti-Villain at worst, but the trope is played completely straight.
  • In the Stanley Kubrick adaptation of Lolita, Humbert's wife reveals her plan to send Lolita away to a strict boarding school, not seeing Humbert's shocked expression.
    Charlotte: Darling, you've gone away.
    Humbert: Just a minute, I'm following a train of thought. (distant thunder)
    • The thunder continues to sound at suitably dramatic moments; when they start squabbling, when Humbert finds Charlotte reading his diary in which he's confided his lust for her daughter, and when Humbert realises she's been killed in a car accident.
  • Justified in Thor: The Dark World, due to Thor's powers.
    Policeman: Place your hands on your head, step back!
    Thor: This woman is unwell.
    Police officer: She's dangerous!
    Thor: So am I.
    [distant thunder sounds — policeman backs off and calls for an armed response team]
  • Twice during the "Liars' Dice" scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, first when Davy Jones accepts Will's challenge and second when he informs Will he's free to go ashore once the Dutchman makes port (which it never does.)
  • The Art of War (2000). Happens during the Alone With The Big Bad reveal, during the Motive Rant. It's raining for the rest of the movie, with thunder sounding at suitably dramatic moments (usually pre-battle). It's used again for The End... Or Is It? ending; the protagonists have faked their deaths and meet up again in a beautiful French village, only to hear thunder and be Caught in the Rain. As they walk away under an Umbrella of Togetherness, an unknown man takes their picture.
  • Happens in Pleasantville when George announces, "Honey, I'm home!" before he discovers that his wife — and his dinner — are not there, signaling the effective destruction of his "pleasant" home life. It is especially significant because Pleasantville had never before experienced rain.
  • Whenever Pumpkinhead is stalking victims, thunderstorms pop up in the area. Lampshaded in one of the sequels, when a character knows that he's coming, because there's thunder and lightning but no rain.
  • In Next of Kin (1982), thunder accompanies Kelvin and Mrs. Ryan AKA Rita's initial arrival at the Montclare retirement home, during which a lightning bolt also strikes and knocks down a nearby tree.
  • When Cropsy kills the prostitute in The Burning, thunder can be heard.
  • Shortcut to Happiness: When, during a fit of pique, Jabex Stone decalres that he would sell his soul to trade places with Julius Jensen, there is a single bolt of lightning from a clear sky and a dramatic crack of thunder.
  • In Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears, Miss Fisher has just explaining to Inspector Robinson about the curse on the eponymous crypt when there is a flash of lightning and a crack of thunder and all of the lights in the warehouse go out.
  • Qivitoq: Played with in a way appropriate to the Greenland setting. There's dramatic thunder throughout the climactic scene where Jens chases a suicidal Pavia across the glacier, except it isn't thunder, it's the continual sound of huge hunks of ice cleaving off the glacier and plunging into the ocean.
  • In Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?, a thunderclap plays between the first scene and the opening credits.
  • In A Muppet Family Christmas, Count von Count counts "two worried frogs" looking out the window as Miss Piggy is lost in a blizzard. Kermit and Robin react as if the thunder is just more of the bad weather they're looking at.

  • In Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, lightning flashes and thunder sounds as Doc announces that his father was murdered.
  • Discworld:
    • In Wyrd Sisters, the playwright Hwel uses a lot of thundrous underlining in his plays. The play that's performed at the climax of the novel is no exception, and when someone breaks the thunder sound effect just before the final act, he's provoked into raging at the heavens. At which point a real thunderstorm rolls in and provides appropriate underlining for the rest of the performance.
    • The country of Uberwald provides this as a basic service to the Mad Scientist and Vampire Lord types that inhabit it. At least one vampire, newly arrived in Ankh Morpork, is slightly discouraged when, upon making dramatic declarations, thunder fails to oblige. Later in the novel, when it finally comes around, he indulges, repeating, "Vot...a big...castle!" as the thunder rolls.
    • In Guards! Guards!, Vimes is looking at the aftermath of the "battle" with the dragon, says "Do you know what? I think it went somewhere". When the thunder rolls on cue, he mutters "All right all right, it wasn't that dramatic."
  • Thunder punctuates one of Druss's Badass Boasts in Legend.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers novel, Book 4 Section VIII "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol". As Frodo and Sam pass by Minas Morgul, lightning and thunder crash inside Mordor and Minas Morgul answers in kind. It's a prelude to the departure of the Witch-king's army.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows In The Moonlight", in Olivia's dream, the advent of a Physical God;
    As if in answer to that desperate cry, there was a rolling thunder as of celestial chariot-wheels, and a figure stood before the slayers, as if materialized out of empty air.
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's Freckles, 'an ominous growl of thunder' rouses Freckles from miserable thoughts.
  • Septimus Heap: The battle between The Vengeance and the Dragon Boat occurs during a thunderstorm that was engineered by DomDaniel.
  • In A Wolf in the Soul, Jack Crowe makes a dramatic statement and is very disappointed when this doesn't happen. He tries a few more times. Still doesn't happen.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • In Words of Radiance we have not one, but two highstorms from different directions that clash with each other - underscoring the need for Shallan to open the Oathgate now.
    • In Edgedancer, Nale's Villainous BSoD is preceded by a strike of red lightning and the following thunder.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blake's 7: In "Sand", Soolin is trying to convince the others that the bad weather they're experiencing is not a coincidence, as the planet is sentient and trying to trap them there.
    Dayna: Oh, and thunder right on cue! This is silly.
    Soolin: Is it?
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Used to accentuate a Not so Dire moment in "Hell's Bells" when Buffy and Willow appear to be looking out the window at a hideous monster in the storm, but they're actually looking in the mirror at their ghastly bridesmaids' dresses. Played straight when a roll of thunder accompanies Anya saying this is the happiest day of her life.
    • Also played straight in "Surprise". Angel wakes up in pain to the accompaniment of a crash of thunder, and has time to stumble outside to invert Redemption in the Rain as he loses his soul (again) and becomes the evil Angelus.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Drake & Josh:
    • In the episode "The Bet", the boys are told to bring an umbrella to Megan, who is at a friend's house. They don't and she comes in the front door soaking wet with thunder announcing her entrance.
    • Happens twice in "Number One Fan". The first is Lampshaded when Josh tells the kids he is upset they won't brave a gentle rain shower to go camping. Cue the thunder. Josh, showing a slight fear, then continues. The second happens a few minutes later when Drake comes in angry at one of Megan's friends with thunder crashing as soon as he enters.
  • In the episode "Ham Radio" of Frasier, Noel shakes a sheet of metal to create the thunder for Frasier's play.
  • Lampshaded/parodied in Friends. Phoebe's part time navy boyfriend has just returned on shore leave and she is hoping for some fun, but she has just contracted chicken pox. When he meets her she has covered her face with a shawl and won't show it to him. He convinces her to and she reveals her chicken pox scarred face to him with a lightning flash in the background. He jumps in fright and she gets upset. He responds by saying "No no no, you look fine it's just, the lightning, it was a very unfortunate coincidence."
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): The Climax of "In Throes of Increasing Wonder..." takes place inside a church while a thunderstorm rages outside. The thunderclaps imbue the scene with a foreboding ambience, which is an apt setting for Lestat de Lioncourt to murder the three people present (two priests and Louis de Pointe du Lac, although the latter is revived as an undead vampire).
  • Used to the point of parody in the "Ten Little Grifters Job" episode of Leverage. Dramatic events and statements are often underlined by a thundercrack, and the lighting flickering on and off due to the house running off of its own, fairly old, generator.
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, thunder and lightning heralds the Transformation Sequence of — what else? — the Thunder Megazord.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: Late in "Murdoch and the Temple of Death", Murdoch pursues and corners a killer (who is carrying an artifact thought to be the Holy Grail) atop a cliff. Murdoch tells the man not to jump, but the guy asserts the power of God in the Grail will protect him, then turns and jumps to his death. Murdoch looks over the edge at the corpse and hears a clap of thunder, despite the rather light sky above him. This one overlaps with A Storm Is Coming, since the next shot is of the city of Toronto in a thunderstorm.
  • NCIS: A roll of thunder is heard right after Ziva and Abby's slapfest in "Hiatus", much to McGee's alarm. However Ziva does not kill Abby.
  • Sesame Street:
    • Until recently, Count von Count had Dramatic Thunder accompanying the final result as he finished his counts. A few years ago, it was discontinued since it might scare children, so now only appears on special occasions.
    • A trilogy of animated segments featured a character called the Bridgekeeper, and every time he announced his name, there was a sound of thunder.
  • In the Star Trek classic episode "Spectre of the Gun": as the Earps and Doc Holliday walk to the O.K. Corral for the final gunfight, lightning flashes overhead and thunder rolls. Partial overlap with Thunderous Confrontation.
  • Invoked Trope in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Muse". B'Elanna Torres has crash-landed on a primitive planet and is being helped by Kelis the Poet, who mistakes her for a powerful mythical being called an Eternal. B'Elanna wants Kelis to get dilithium from a local warlord's hunting grounds, but Kelis doesn't want to as he'd face execution if caught. At that moment a coincidental roll of thunder sounds. Kelis' eyes widen as he says, "Did you...?" B'Elanna plays it beautifully, leaning forward and saying with menace, "Don't get caught."
  • Supernatural:
    • In "What Is and What Should Never Be", the rumble of thunder is heard as Dean finishes his speech at his father's grave.
    • A rumble of thunder is heard when Castiel is first introduced, at the moment we see the shadow of his angel wings unfurling.
    • Archangel Raphael and Lucifer use this trope for dramatic emphasis; it's implied they're directly affecting the weather with their powers.
    • When Dean first meets Death he's about to create a storm to destroy Chicago, so a thunderous undercurrent is heard throughout their conversation in the contrastingly-quiet restaurant (because everyone there has died from Death's mere presence).
    • In "Reading is Fundamental", thunder rumbles ominously as the Winchesters try to break open a block of clay to find out what's inside.
      Dean: That sound like somebody saying "No, wait—stop!" to you?
      Sam: Uh, yeah... yeah.
      Dean: Yeah. (shrugs) Oh, well. (strikes clay again)
  • Tales from the Darkside: In "I'll Give You a Million", Jack agrees to Oliver's offer to buy his soul. As they clink glasses to seal the deal, there is a dramatic peal of thunder from outside.
  • In an episode of Twin Peaks, Cooper has gathered everyone related to the Laura Palmer murder at the roadhouse for what appears to be a Summation Gathering; instead, he states he plans to use magic to solve the murder, and has brought them there for help with this. A second later, there's a clap of thunder and Cooper's face is illuminated with lightning.
  • Parodied in Ugly Betty, when Big Bad Wilhelmina meet Betty on the roof dramatically, while her assistant Marc created thunder sounds with a sheet of metal around the corner.
  • Played for Laughs in the The X-Files episode "The Post-Modern Prometheus", when Mulder and Scully are having an expository conversation with the resident Mad Scientist, dramatic thunder punctuates every sentence.

  • A musical example in the Disturbed song "Haunted", used at the beginning of the song along with a bell.
  • Thunder opens the song "Override of the Overture" (and by extension, their album Like an Ever Flowing Stream) by Dismember.
  • Used to good effect to open The Doors' Riders on the Storm.
  • Thunder, lightning and heavy rain also open Black Sabbath's self-titled Black Sabbath.
  • The extended version of the Vocaloid song "SLASH/ER" by CircusP has literal thunderous noises in the background as the singer proclaims that she'll become the titular slasher, leading to the final chorus.

  • Godzilla (Sega): The animation that plays upon making a Skill Shot times shows Godzilla roaring immediately after a massive lightning strike in the distance, which hammers home just how dangerous he is.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Part of The Undertaker's "Dead man" entrance theme, though sometimes he could make it thunder on cue, due to his vaguely defined power over electricity.
  • El Mesías's IWA Puerto Rico theme has a thunderclap before the Ominous Latin Chanting beings in earnest.


    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Daughter for Dessert, this is Heard in the protagonist's flashback for how he met Lainie. Fresh from his disappointment that he wouldn’t get the job he’d been promised, the protagonist went to work at his hot dog stand...and then the rain starts falling, heralded by thunder.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Parodied in Britanick's "The Mystery", in which thunder strikes both times the detective's client seemingly reveals the culprit of his wife's murder after the detective asks him to Repeat What He Just Said.
  • Critical Role: In Campaign 2, Episode 98, the party is introduced to a strange figure. After Matthew Mercer finishes his description of the character, thunder rumbles ominously in the background, punctuating the very next thing he says: "Let's go ahead and roll for initiative," — starting an unexpected fight.
  • Spoofed in the Flash comic The Decline of Video Gaming 2; the villain (the CEO of Capcom) laughs evilly and hears thunder, startling him since he's indoors. Turns out he left on the Dolby Surround Sound: Evil Edition on.
  • Life SMP: In the fourth season, Limited Life, whenever a player is Killed Off for Real, thunder can be heard in the background as lightning strikes the site of their death.
  • Mocked in The Nostalgia Chick's review of Hocus Pocus. It happened everytime she said the word "virgin" and by the end, she was saying it to hear the thunder.
  • This was also mocked in The Nostalgia Critic's review of Judge Dredd, when during Fargo's death scene, lighting struck after every sentence spoken by Fargo and Dredd.
    Critic as Fargo: "Rico's your brother." *thunder*
    Critic as Dredd: "Rico's my brother?" *thunder*
    Critic as Fargo: "What?" *thunder*
    Critic as Dredd: "I said Rico's my brother?" *thunder*
    Critic as Fargo: "Yes, I know. I said that." *thunder*
    Critic as Dredd: "No, I was just repeating what you just said so I could clarify the facts." *thunder*
    Critic as Fargo: "Oh." *thunder*
  • Played for Laughs in Potter Puppet Pals after Harry insults Neville's grandmother in "Wizard Swears".
    Harry: I mean every word I ever say. Ever. Because I'm. Harry. Potter. *thunder*
  • Also spoofed in Farce of the Three Kingdoms, when Cao Cao attempts to make a speech from a mountaintop over the field of battle. The thunder interrupts him so often that he gets exasperated and gives up.

    Western Animation 
  • Played straight in the What's New, Scooby-Doo? episode "The Vampire Strikes Back"; first the Castle Thunder sound is used at the beginning of the episode (but is presented in very low-fidelity quality and sticks out like a sore thumb), but then newer, more realistic (and LOUDER) thunderclap sounds are used for the rest of the episode (driving the show more toward realism compared to the classic "campy" cartoon feel the original series had). The newest (and more darker and realistic) show, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, featured this as well in a couple of episodes, including a Thunderous Confrontation in an episode featuring a dangerous battle on an old building's roof.
  • Used on Jimmy Two-Shoes to highlight Heloise's Evil Laugh. Then it turns out the lightning was Jimmy flipping the lightswitch quickly.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • Subverted in the episode "Bridle Gossip". After Applejack says "The Everfree Forest!", there's a clap of thunder, which turns out to actually be the clattering of pots and pans, knocked over by Spike while sneaking a snack.
    • Played straight in "The Best Night Ever", to accompany Fluttershy's Evil Laugh.
    • Used a number of times by Princess Luna in "Luna Eclipsed". Rainbow Dash also spends a good deal of time pranking ponies by invoking the trope.
    • A frequent occurrence once the ponies enter the ancient castle in "Castle Mane-ia".
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, a lightning during the Cold Open illuminates Batman in a heroic pose.
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode aptly titled "The Storm", the terrible weather is point and counterpoint to the reasons Aang ended up a Human Popsicle.
  • In Garfield's Halloween Adventure, Garfield and Odie approach that haunted house. Cue the thunder and lightning.
    Garfield: Nice touch.
    • The same bit also happens when Garfield comes up to the dog pound that Odie is held in on a rainy night, along with on at least one Garfield and Friends episode.
  • Accompanies Gogmagog's mooks in Korgoth of Barbaria when they open the door to the tavern where Korgoth is currently residing.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Lampshaded in "Oh, There You Are, Perry" with the Regurgitator, who apparently uses a device for this. Prior to the reveal, Doofenshmirtz questions the thunder and lightning several times.
    • In the "Terrifying Tri-State Trilogy of Terror" Halloween special, every time Doof says the words "inexplicable giant floating baby head", he automatically triggers a flash of lightning. Of course, he has fun playing around with this.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Lampshaded, among other things, by Timmy's friends, Chester and A.J., when their ball lands in the yard of Dr. Bender's home, a reviled and hated dentist who loves to mock the dental hygiene of other children and gave his attack dogs braces so they could have perfect teeth. Said home is revealed to be a Victorian style house surrounded by a fence with razer coil barb wire amongst completely dark scenery (it's daytime out) complete with giant moon.
    Timmy: So?
    Chester: Dude. Didn't you see the lightning and hear the weird music?
    A.J.: And all of a sudden it's night time?
    Timmy: [stares]
    Vicky: I'm Vicky, the babysitter! (lightning flashes)
    Timmy: Anybody notice the lightning?
  • In the Halloween Episode of Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, this happens every time someone says "strange apparitions". At first Po finds this rather cool, but eventually even he gets exasperated with it.
  • Subverted in Rugrats; in "When Wishes Come True", Tommy angrily wishes for the worst thing to happen to Angelica and a big flash of light illuminates the scene. It turned out to be the bug zapper outside.
    Grandpa: That mosquito must've been the size of a B-52.
  • In an episode of Family Guy, we see a group of tobacco executives who plot on selling cigarettes to children, who laugh evilly while thunder crashes outside.
  • All Hail King Julien has Doctor S, the Large Ham Mad Doctor who's catch phrase "...IN A CAAAAVE!" often manages to summon lightning even when it's otherwise a sunny day out. Even his assistant Rob gets in on it, albeit by literally calling "Lightning Strike!"
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Veterans Day", Adolf Hitler was accompanied by lightning when Grandpa Phil tells a lie about how he highhandedly ended World War II.
  • In Season 4 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Mermista's proclamations about a Horde spy are underscored by flashes of perfectly timed lightning.
    Frosta: How are you doing that?
    Mermista: I PRACTICE AT HOME! [lightning]
    Glimmer: [Face Palm]
  • In the Futurama episode "Jurassic Bark", Professor Farnsworth declaring that they will clone Fry's dead dog by harnessing "the power of Nature herself!" is emphasised by a dramatic lightning bolt and roll of thunder. Then he goes down into the basement to draw upon the energy of molten lava.
  • The intro of The Addams Family (1992) starts with this and an accompanying, brief organ music.
  • The Ghost And Molly Mcgee: Parodied in "The Best of Nin-Tentions", where there's dramatic thunder and lightning every time Molly's dad brings up "The Tensions" between Sharon and Grandma Nin. Even Scratch the ghost finds it weird.
    Scratch: As a supernatural entity, I am telling you that is odd.

Examples of Thunderous Confrontation:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Episode 25 of Death Note, where L finally winds up on the pointy end of Light's Evil Plan and dies, takes place during a nasty thunderstorm. (Also qualifies as a Thunderous Underline - recall the line spoken right before the lightning strikes...)
  • Shortly before the final showdown between Cloud and Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the latter nonchalantly raises his hand to summon dark storm clouds that cover the entire battlefield. These seem to serve no other purpose than to emphasize the apparent epicness of the whole affair, which is further evidenced by the fact that a conspicuously well-timed bolt of lightning appears just as the two lunge towards each other.
  • Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie opens with Ryu and Sagat's fateful duel in a windswept grassland, thunder flashing across the skies. The two combatants' Ki Manipulation, which involve arcs of electricity as far as the movie is concerned, match the environment nicely.
  • Oda Nobunaga in Sengoku Basara's anime comes complete with a red-glowing ominous thunderstorm that follows him around wherever he goes. Needless to say, it's impossible to not have a Thunderous Confrontation with Nobunaga.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Kira's and Athrun's epic duel halfway through the series takes place in a thunderstorm.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny has Shinn and Athrun face off in a thunderstorm, complete with dramatic strike at the exact moment Shinn impales Athrun's GOUF with his BFS.
  • Combined with Gray Rain of Depression in the movie adaptation of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's when Vita leaps into battle against a group of sea serpents as the coda to a speech about how terrified she is at the thought of Hayate dying.

    Comic Books 
  • In one of the chapters of Don Rosa's classic The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Scrooge fights a duel with swords against the scion of the Whiskervilles — ancestral enemies of the McDuck clan, while a thunderstorm rolls across the Scottish Highlands. The thunderstorm, as it turns out, plays a key role in the end of the duel...
  • In the Warrior Cats graphic novel Winds of Change, it's just raining for most of the battle in the WindClan camp, but it changes to a thunderstorm when Mudclaw and his supporters flee, culminating in the confrontation between Mudclaw, Brambleclaw, and Hawkfrost.

    Fan Works 
  • Turnabout Storm uses this in the introduction of the murder in Part 1. There's an interesting twist in that the lighting isn't there just for the dramatic effect, but it's also the cause of death.

    Films — Animated 
  • Disney absolutely loves this trope. Usually some final battle will have a thunderstorm accompany it (as it seems there was some rule that almost every animated Disney movie should have a thunderstorm in it.) Notable examples include:
    Guard: You there! What are you hiding?
    Frollo: Stolen goods, no doubt. Take them from her. (Thunderstorm rolls in)
  • Kim Possible's movie, "So the Drama," features an epic thunderstorm during the final battle, beginning with thunder as the villain's plan goes into action and culminating in a fistfight atop the roof in the pouring rain.
    • For a Disney production, the storm is built up to in a surprisingly subtle way — Kim's hair begins gently blowing in the wind in a previous scene, and later clouds slowly roll into view through a background window.
  • Played quite straight in Kung Fu Panda: as the villagers evacuate the Valley of Peace and Shifu waits outside the Jade Palace for Tai Lung, ominous storm clouds are gathering. Thunder and lightning starts at the moment they start fighting. What makes this interesting, though, is how it plays with the trope: instead of the Thunderous Confrontation being between the hero and the villain, it's between the villain and the Old Master. The storm quickly clears out after the hero arrives at the scene — and the scene changes from dramatic, tragic and hopeless to a Final Battle powered by the Rule of Funny.
  • Used in The Powerpuff Girls Movie when the trapped Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup confronted the Gangreen Gang for the first time and when Mojo Jojo saved the girls from the gang.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Character, the long-delayed confrontation between Jacob and his illegitimate father Dreverhaven is punctuated by a clap of thunder right before Jacob launches himself and tackles his father.
  • In The Crow, the final fight against Top Dollar takes place on a church roof during a thunderstorm. The storm ends as The Crow stands victorious...
  • At the end of the first The Neverending Story film, as the Childlike Empress is calling out to Bastian from within the apocalyptic ending of the book, a violent thunderstorm is occuring in the real world.
  • The big fight in Hancock was punctuated by thundersnow, mixing the Dramatic Thunder and Snow Means Love.
  • The final battle between Neo and Agent Smith at the end of The Matrix Revolutions.
  • When the Kurgan battles Ramierez in Highlander there is a huge thunderstorm.
  • The title character of Pumpkinhead is apparently able to summon these storms at will. One character observes that there's thunder and lightning, but no actual rain.
  • Used in Event Horizon. It's set in space.
    • Justified: The titular ship is in the atmosphere of Neptune at the time.
  • The final fight between Riggs, Murtaugh, and Wah Sing Ku in Lethal Weapon 4.
  • The final battle of Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.
  • Inverted in Back to the Future. Thunder foreshadows the approaching dramatic storm — but this is a Good Thing, a critical plot point, to get Marty back home. It's played straight right at the end of Back to the Future Part II.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End gives us the climactic Maelstrom Battle, with thunder, lightning, and two ships lying broadside for broadside while sailing into a gigantic whirlpool.
    Pintel: And on top of everything else, it's raining!
    Ragetti: That's a bad sign, mate!
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) has the final battle in Boston occur in a climactic hurricane due to King Ghidorah's storm generation powers, leading to many dynamic shots of the dragon and Godzilla duking it out amongst lightning strikes.

  • The climactic battle of Tom Clancy's Patriot Games also unfolds during a thunderstorm, which makes it very hard for The Cavalry to reach the scene in time.
  • The book Watership Down has some working to Bigwig's advantage — he takes a stand against Woundwart during the initial escape from Efrafa, with lightning blazing down just before Keehar shows up.
  • In Michael Flynn's The January Dancer, thunder like galloping hooves is the first sign of the storm they can actually sense.
  • In The Go-Between, the ambient temperature rises higher and higher as the passion grows between Marian and Ted, and then when they finally manage to consummate that passion there's a terrific thunderstorm. At this point Marian's mother catches them in the act and mayhem ensues.
  • Janine and Candayce's confrontation in Dinoverse starts after Janine's struck by lightning and continues as the storm rolls over them, though when it's faded to a light rain they're not quite through yet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Ace Lightning thunder is not only a portent, but also part of the power boost used in order to bring the videogame characters to life.
  • In the third episode of Club der roten Bänder, as Leo refuses another chemotherapy.
  • In the The Outer Limits (1963) episode "Specimen: Unknown", a thunderstorm rages overhead as deadly alien plants spread out from a spaceship crash. The humans are in despair as they believe that the rain from the storm will cause the plants to spread more quickly. Instead the plants shrivel and die when exposed to water, so the storm actually saves the human race. This is a rare case where the thunderstorm works to the good guys' advantage.
  • Lampshaded on The West Wing:
    [Ominous thunderclap]
    President Bartlett: What the hell...? If this isn't a metaphor for powerlessness, I don't know what is.
  • The Wild Wild West episode "Night of the Bleak Island", while the heroes are trying to deal with a deadly hound and a murderer.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Tabletop RPG example: The Dungeons & Dragons module I10, The House on Gryphon Hill, ends with a climactic chase of the Big Bad Creature through a violent thunderstorm. But it takes place in Ravenloft, where such things are to be expected...

    Video Games 
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, the battle with the Final Colossus is accompanied by a heavy thunderstorm. Concidentally, the Gray Rain of Depression starts right after Agro seemingly dies. After the battle is over, we see the main hero lying unconscious at the feet of the destroyed colossus while the sun shines brightly in clear sky.
  • Even Bully couldn't escape this — the Final Confrontation, up and down the sides of the school's belltower, is accompanied by a well-timed thunderstorm. And flocks of black crows, just for good measure
  • Ōkami: The dramatic Ninetails battle in Oni Island, fought atop the great mansion of Oni Island. Since you've learned to control lightning at this point, and the foe enjoys flourishing her highly-conductive sword, this works to your advantage. One of the phases of the Final Battle repeats this, with lightning flashing as the boss raises its sword-shaped arms.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • The final battle with Bowser in Super Mario World had thunder and lighting in the background
  • The Battle of Ostagar in Dragon Age: Origins takes place during a thunderstorm.
  • The first Wily stage in Mega Man 9 has thunder on the screens before the mini-boss area. It's not exactly the most exciting battle around (specially since it's a reappearing boss), but it works as a warmth welcome to the final area in the game.
  • Rhythm Heaven Fever: During the last stretch of Samurai Slice, where the music reaches its climax, lightning strikes with each successful slice. Yes, lightning strikes perfectly in sync with the battle and music.
  • The final battle with Deathshead in Wolfenstein: The New Order is this. The storm even powers up his shield during the battle.
  • Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi: This is constant when you're outside.
  • The first fight with Sigma's head in Mega Man X5 takes place in a thunderstorm.
  • Halo 5: Guardians: This occurs when John-117 and the rest of Blue Team enters the gateway to the Domain to confront Cortana about her plans for taking control of the galaxy.
  • Animal Crossing: If you make Resetti scream at you, be prepared for thunderous booms to accompany his loud outbursts.
  • Metal Slug: The fifth game's final battle takes place on top of a tower as a storm brews in the background. This doesn't last long as the sky fades to black when the Avatar of Evil approaches, though a burst of lightning reveals its silhouette shortly before the fight begins.
  • The final boss battle of Gun Frontier is a Showdown at High Noon Quick Draw duel set above a thunderstorm.
  • Super Mario All-Stars has two examples:
    • For Super Mario Brothers and The Lost Levels, the final Bowser Castle in both games has a thunderstorm going on outside throughout the whole stage.
    • For Super Mario Brothers 3, a lightning storm accompanies every Airship stage and subsequent boss battle, barring the rare Coin Ship.
  • Pizza Tower: The third phase of the Final Boss sees the revival of the other stage bosses to act as a Boss Rush. Peppino, already at his wits' end by this point, completely snaps and with a scream of pure fury, goes to launch a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on the first revived boss — at which point a thunderstorm spontaneously manifests as if in response to his rage.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick battles Miko Miyazaki during a thunderstorm. Naturally, the always Genre Savvy Elan realizes that things are about to go south as soon as the first peal of thunder resounds...
    • Much later, as the Order crosses over into the Northern Lands, the airship on which they're travelling is caught up in a thunderstorm, as a warning by the Northern God Thor. Durkon or, rather, the vampiric High Priest of Hel hijacking his body clears it up with a Control Weather spell, however.
  • Used here in Bleedman's Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi. Even Cartoon Networks characters can look pretty dramatic with some appropriately-timed lightning thrown in.
  • In No Rest for the Wicked, November plods through the Gray Rain of Depression, but this makes her desperate, and leads to her meeting Red during another one.
  • Outright invoked through the power of Steampunk science by the titular Girl Genius during the Battle of Mechanicsburg. A modified electrical superweapon is used to 'charge' the atmosphere, even while an (apparently completely coincidental) rainstorm rolls in to deliver a thematically-appropriate downpour. Finally, the lightning is climactically released to revive the sleeping Genius Loci of Heterodyne Castle...
  • The Homestuck song Rex Duodecim Angelus is set during the climactic battle between the trolls and the Black King, and contains multiple thunder special effects in between character Leitmotifs. Presumably an effect of the Rule of Cool, because the only weather known to be present during that fight was a meteor shower.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, the storm that Hurricane was controlling, in the lead up to and during Yokoka's fight against her. Thunder and lightning accompanied most of Hurricane's attacks.

    Web Original 
  • Arrogance by Apple-In on DeviantArt is built around this.
  • I Love Bees (a Halo 2 ARG):
    • Used to underline Aiden's threat before he reveals he's kidding.
    • Used to underline traded threars when Herzog and Standish have their chat at the duck pond.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Thunderous Confrontation


The Champions: Next Gen

As Mbappe's plan for a 'gritty reboot' of the Messi-Ronaldo GOAT rivalry with himself and Haaland starts to come together, the episode features a darker, more dramatic intro than usual.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

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