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Ghostly Chill

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"You ever feel the prickly things on the back of your neck?
And the tiny hairs on your arm, you know when they stand up?
That's them. When they get mad... it gets cold."
Cole Sear, The Sixth Sense

One side-effect of the manifestation of ghosts or other spirits of the dead is coldness. Mirrors and windows may frost over, people's breath may make visible steam, and someone may comment on how cold it has got all of a sudden. The feeling may be especially acute if someone is being walked through, or is walking through, an immaterial ghost.

Sometimes this is explained by the ghost drawing on ambient heat energy to manifest (often with a fine disregard for thermodynamics), but just as often it's merely an unexplained side effect of ethereal activity. Objects that are ghost-touched often exhibit this trait as Thermal Dissonance.

Compare Evil Is Deathly Cold, Snow Means Death, Chill of Undeath, and I'm Cold... So Cold....



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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is used often on Ghost Hunt. The Shibuya Psychic Research team even has special thermal cameras that measure room temperature to help them detect ghosts/supernatural activity.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Taken to a logical extreme in Parts 1 and 2, where the element of cold belongs to The Undead, such as vampires and zombies, as well as the Pillar Men.
    • In Part 3 and onwards, there are a couple of Stands that have ice powers and, given the motifs associated with stands, play this very straight, such as Pet Shop's stand Horus and Ghiaccio's stand White Album.
  • In the 60 years of her haunting seat number 1, Sayo of Mahou Sensei Negima! gained almost complete exclusivity of the spot since it had become infamous as the seat that gives an otherworldy chill to those who sit there.
  • The title character of My Lovely Ghost Kana is observed chilling a beer in her cleavage. The male lead insists that she does have a warmth (and even a heartbeat!), but it's difficult to detect.
  • While not technically a ghost, Brook of One Piece learns how to use his power to channel the energy of the Underworld through his attacks, which gives them an additional icy effect.

    Fan Works 
  • Fatal Frame VI: Vengeance: In chapter 5, the mere presence of Ayumi Oshiro makes the room so cold that Sumiko's breath becomes visible.
  • The ghosts in the cliff dwelling in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World have a fear aura and also freeze their opponents.
  • Comes up in the Casper/Hocus Pocus crossover story, Magic and Mayhem. A slight chill in the air is a pretty good sign of the presence of a ghost in the area. Kat is so used to it, she can notice the Ghostly Trio approaching the room before anyone else does or keep track of Casper's exact location even while he's invisible.
  • In A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script, when a disembodied soul touches a living, it feels like the air has become suddenly slightly colder. Likewise, the dead feels a slight sensation of warmth.
    Warrior: What was it like, when you two intersected? [...] You and his Majesty's father — we saw it when you were talking.
    Beren: Oh. (glancing up at Finarfin) Not much. Like light, I guess, — like when the sun bounces off something like a horse-brass or a sword, you know how you don't really feel it unless it's in your eyes, but you can tell sort of. For me at least.
    Finarfin: (looking at the Warrior's shade) Of what matter is thy question?
    Beren: What it felt like, when you tried to take the Ring from me. We were wondering — earlier, that is — what would happen if someone living hit one of us.
    Finarfin: I did not strike thee, boy, nor did e'en attempt such.
    Beren: No sir. We meant colliding in general as well — even only by accident. Um, did it — feel like anything to you? (pausing) If you're not offended for some reason by me asking that.
    Finarfin: (shaking head) [...] — Like to naught but to a shadow passed suddenly 'neath on summer's day, or to a chill air, that moveth off the water — and to naught else.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In A Christmas Carol: The Musical, when Marley's ghost hugs Scrooge, a cold pallor spreads across his body until they break contact.
  • A major feature of the demon's presence in The Exorcist. It's freezing in there. When they were making the film they built the set for Regan's room inside a freezer, so you could see everybody's breath. One day it actually snowed inside the set. Though hundreds of hours of filming, Linda Blair wore nothing but a thin nightdress. To this day she cannot stand being cold.
  • In Ghost Town, people sneeze whenever they walk through a ghost.
  • The Sixth Sense: The presence of ghosts makes one's breath visible. This is one of the ways the protagonist understands he's actually dead. This actually only happens if the ghost is hostile (which most of them usually are). For most of the film, the protagonist doesn't have this effect... but when he gets frustrated with Cole, the boy's breath becomes visible.
  • In The Stone Tape (1972) the scientists speculate that the chill is caused by heat being drawn out of the air and converted to other forms of energy, to create the physical manifestation of the ghost.
  • When Eun-joo returns to the house in A Tale of Two Sisters and enters Soo-yeon's former room, her breath is visible and she is shaking rapidly. It's a sign that Soo-yeon's ghost is present who then proceeds to attack Eun-joo.
  • In the opening narration to The Uninvited, Rick says "You get to recognize a peculiar cold, which is the first warning." Sure enough, the presence of spirits in the Haunted House is signaled by a mysterious chill in the studio.

  • Dimity used this cold as one of her weapons against an unwanted visitor in Aunt Dimity's Death.
  • In Bones of Faerie, ghosts are the shadows of the dead give off a cold aura.
  • In J.R. Lowell's Daughter of Darkness, you could always tell when Willie's mother was about to show up. The temperature dropped by a good fifteen degrees.
  • Discworld: At the end of Making Money, the professor's ghost is installed into a front-row seat in a stripclub. From then on, no patron that sits in it manages to stay for more than a few seconds.
  • Played with in Dragon Bones: The haunted castle Hurog is so cold that the protagonist needs a fire even in summer. (Though that might be Truth in Television — the protagonist spent his whole life there, so of course to him it's normal.) On the other hand, the soul that is bound to the castle can manifest a human body that is surprisingly warm and unghostly.
  • Ghosts in Feliks, Net & Nika can be detected by drop of temperature they cause. It's not much - 3 degrees at most - but it's enough for main characters to track ghosts with strategically placed thermometers with Bluetooth.
  • Ghosts in Harry Potter are intangible heat sinks; walking through one is like taking a cold shower. Dementors also fit, freezing the environment around them.
  • One of a few signs of ghostly activity in Lockwood & Co.. Agents assigned to investigate and fight ghosts carry thermometers as part of their toolkits and regularly take temperature readings when in a haunted area.
  • In Shaman Blues, people sensitive to supernatural, such as Konstancja or Witkacy, can feel ghost's presence as sudden drop in temperature.
  • In Smoke and Mirrors, ghosts function exactly as specified in this trope. They draw on ambient heat in order to physically manifest, and contact with them chills living people.
  • Star Wars Legends: Galaxy of Fear: Ghost of the Jedi has the presence of the titular ghost cause a chill in the air.
  • In the Towers Trilogy, ghosts are invisible to most people, but can be felt as a ghostly chill when touched.
  • In The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus, how much chill a person feels is dependent on how inherently receptive they are. Some people ignore a ghost passing through them entirely, while others may feel it so strongly that they stop in place.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel The Killing Ground, an atrocity's vengeful ghosts are "glacial cold."
  • A recurring theme experienced by the heroine in The Dark Beneath The Ice is numbness, and icy water.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • In "RmWAVu" Cordelia is unimpressed when a ghost sends cold winds rushing through her apartment.
      Cordelia: Uh, cold wind, scary! What are you going to do? Chap me to death?
    • Inverted when Spike turns up as a ghost in Season Five. Fred notes that, while most ghosts absorb heat, he's radiating it. Because he's being slowly pulled into Hell, it turns out.
      Spike: Think I'm hot, do you?
      Fred: Hmm. Lukewarm. Just above room temperature.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Referenced in "Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight". The fact that Buffy didn't experience this is a clue that they're dealing with something else.
    • "Where The Wild Things Are" had Graham and Forrest are complaining how cold the haunted frat house is.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Unquiet Dead", the morgue is the place in the undertaker's house where the most "ghostly" activity has been seen, and when the Gelth (who are not technically ghosts) appear, it cools way down.
  • Ghost Adventures have pointed out themselves with goosebumps as well carrying meters that read temperature, all the more noticeable whenever the locations they're locked down are either during the summer or it's usually warm/hot.
  • Occurs occasionally in Ghost Hunters, usually followed by the explanation that "cold spots" may or may not be ghosts depending on the specific circumstances of the spot itself. Always discounted by the investigators as it's not conclusive evidence of anything, and a lot of cold spots can be faked.
  • In The Master's Sun Kang Woo shudders when running past the piano player's wife. She's been kept in a deep freeze since her death, so that may be part of it.
  • In Rose Red, Cathy wanders into a room, unknown to her that a ghost is present, and she remarks about how freezing cold the room is.
  • Used a lot in Supernatural to signify that a ghost is lurking somewhere nearby. Usually noted by the character's breath fogging up suddenly in a room.
  • Si-ohn's second ghostly vision in Korean series Who Are You? is the ghost of a young woman who brings a Ghostly Chill along with her, making the environment cold whenever she appears. This applies even to people who don't have Si-ohn's I See Dead People knack, like the woman on the bus who shivers and puts on a sweater when the ghost manifests herself.

    Myths & Religion 

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, ghosts and other entities from the Land of the Dead tend to chill the air around them when they interact with the Land of the Living, alerting knowledgeable people to their presence.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Anathema one of the few ways for a human to detect a shroud is by a sudden chill in the air.
  • The Yncarne from Warhammer 40,000 is the physical incarnation of the god of the dead and as such is surrounded by a frigid aura of death that leaves a trail of hoarfrost as it crosses the battlefield.

  • The Piano Lesson: Sutter's ghost, which is gathering strength, casts a chill on the house when it appears in the last scene.

    Video Games 
  • A good sign that you're entering a crypt or other haunted place in Avernum is the sudden chill in the air.
  • In Cursed Treasure, a skill in the Undead skill tree gives all undead Crypts a chance to cause freezing when they attack an opponent.
  • Many ghosts in Dominions have a cold aura that chills those nearby.
  • Ghosts encountered in Dubloon breath ice as their main attack and are weak to fire to boot, except on Bowish Island where they are fire-elemental.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Played straight in that numerous characters throughout the series, including the Player Character in some instances, mention a "chill" whenever they're dealing with something spiritual.
    • Inverted when it comes to spirits who are summoned to the mortal world. According to multiple sources, including the in-game book "Ancestors and the Dunmer", spirits who are summoned to the mortal world feel it to be "cold, bitter, and full of pain."
    • In Morrowind, in Sandas Ancestral Tomb you'll find the skeletons of 2 noble guards, you'll find a key on one of the skeletons and a key on a pillar next to the other skeleton which lead to a room and a cursed chest respectively, if you open this chest you'll receive a message saying "You suddenly feel quite cold...". The skeletons become alive and will attack you.
  • It's also used in the Geneforge series to signify hauntings. Shades, which seem to spontaneously generate in areas of high ambient magic, don't have the same effect.
  • In Luigi's Mansion Luigi's breath is always visible in rooms that have not yet been cleared of ghosts.
  • In Phasmophobia, a ghost's presence can be detected by a sudden drop in temperature compared to surrounding rooms. Whether or not a ghost drops the temperature below freezing (as opposed to just "colder than normal") is important evidence in determining what type of ghost is present.
  • Pokémon:
    • Several Ghost-type mons cause this, referred to as draining the energy from their surroundings.
    • Special mention goes to Froslass which is based on the yuki-onna and comes from a line of Ice-types.
  • Referenced in the opening cinematic for Resident Evil 4, where one of the Spanish police officers escorting Leon to the village in search of Ashley complains it's gotten so cold all over a sudden. Shortly afterwards, Leon finds the entire village has been turned into Ganados.
  • Ghosts in Touhou are stated to be so cold that contact with the specters can cause frostbite. In an official manga, the main characters take to sticking ghosts in jars and using them to cool down their houses.
  • Taken to a logical extreme in Warcraft 3, where the element of cold belongs to The Undead.

    Visual Novels 
  • An early hint in Hatoful Boyfriend of supernatural elements in Nageki's route is when the heroine complains about the cold and wonders who turned on the air conditioner — the air conditioner is broken.
  • Spirit Hunter: NG is set in the middle of summer, but Akira notes that an unusually cold wind stirs up during his meetings with the mysterious Kakuya spirit.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • In Marble Hornets, Jay in Entry 17 complains of being cold. Considering who is watching him, that's not surprising. In another entry, Tim asks "Why is it so cold in June?" The...creature in question doesn't actually appear in that entry, but its presence is definitely felt.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10:
    • The original series played this straight with Ghostfreak... once. Only when he passes physically though people. All later instances of Ghostfreak passing into people has Demonic Possession written all over it.
    • This trope is probably why Big Chill of Ben 10: Alien Force has both intangibility and freezing powers.
  • The eponymous character in Danny Phantom has the ability to sense ghosts, which manifests as a sudden chill and mist coming out of Danny's mouth. Later in the show, this was expanded into full-on freezing powers.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "A Hearth's Warming Tail", when the Spirit of Hearth's Warming Past walks through Snowfall Frost, the latter shivers violently.
  • Inverted in the Transformers: Generation 1 cartoon, when the ghost of Starscream complains that he's getting cold without a body to occupy via possession.


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