Rainbow Dash: [tearfully] Months?! I don't want him to go!
Winter has always been a bit of a tricky time of year for animals: the cold itself is a hazard since it can cause frostbite, and potentially deadly hypothermia, and to make matters worse, many plants aren't producing food for the animals. So it can be pretty understandable that some species decide, "Stuff this!" and decide to hibernate or migrate to somewhere warmer for the duration of winter.
But when the animal is in an Interspecies Friendship, perhaps in a work dealing with animals who are anthropomorphised enough to communicate between species or have some degree of civilisation but not enough to not have animal needs and instincts (see Furry Reminder if the animal is otherwise humanised), or when the animal is someone's pet, this can cause some real emotion when the animal's friend realises that they will need to spend winter without them (or when the animal realises that they will need to spend winter without their friend), and we all know that writers love emotion...
Normally, it will begin on a character looking forward to spending winter with their friend, only for the friend to inform them that they can't due to their hibernation or migration, or on a character noticing that another character is preparing to leave or acting sleepy. Or maybe the character announces that they will be trying to give up hibernating or migrating.
What follows is usually a series of attempts either by the one hibernating or migrating to stay put/awake, or by their friend to convince them to stay put/awake. This will usually fail because the animal just can't deal with winter, their instincts are just too strong, they miss their family (if migrating) or they get too sleepy (if hibernating), or, if they're trying to be convinced, they put their foot down and insist on going/falling asleep.
If the two characters are a couple, they might stop dating when one learns that their lover won't be around for the winter, but on the other hand, they might keep dating.
The plot will usually end on a Bittersweet Ending with a character realising that they can't spend winter with their friend, but happy to see them again in spring, but it occasionally ends on a Happy Ending with the character deciding to stay/not hibernate after all, often due to their Undying Loyalty to their friend, or, more realistically, with a Time Skip to spring. It hardly ever ends on a Downer Ending, unless there is a failed romance involved.
Can be a good way to get An Aesop in about dealing with someone's absence without having a character die or move away, or possibly an Aesop about how "you can't fight nature". If it's about hibernation, it may have a Go-to-Sleep Ending. See Braving the Blizzard for another drama trope about cold weather.
- Ice Age: Sid's family leaves him behind for the migration to escape the incoming ice age. He decides to leave on his own, when he meets Manny. The two begrudgingly decide to migrate together.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's Red Planet the human colonists migrate to avoid the harsh Martian winters, while the native "bouncers" like the protagonist's "pet" hibernate. It turns out the colonial administrator is planning to stop the migration in order to populate the habitats year-round with new colonists. And bouncers actually aestivate for decades before emerging as mature Martians with immense Psychic Powers.
- Played for serious drama in Erin Hunter's Seekers series. When Lusa, Kallik, Toklo, and Ujurak arrive at the arctic in "Book 5: Fire in the Sky", Lusa (a black bear) finds herself constantly feeling tired and weak as a result of the icy environment around her and the others triggering her instincts to go into the 'long sleep' (the black bear words for hibernation).
- Sesame Street:
- In one episode, Baby Bear reveals that his family sometimes takes all-day naps to make up for the sleep they miss by not hibernating. He decides to skip his all-day nap to play with Elmo and Telly, but keeps falling asleep, eventually learning that sleep is important and taking his all-day nap.
- In a Season 40 episode, Baby Bear's family has to hibernate for 5 months up to April due to a porridge shortage. With this, Telly explains that he'll have no best friend until Baby Bear wakes up. A hibernation consultant named Max eventually comes to the cottage and encourages them to sleep outside, which leads to them digging a hole on Sesame Street and Chris giving them bran flakes. The Bears decide not to hibernate and eat bran flakes all winter long!
- Kevin & Kell: Hibernation and migration crop up from time to time, such as when young Turvy has to say goodbye to her best friend Onk, who is a goose and is migrating. There is also a bear family that decided to stop hibernating because that was causing too many problems.
- Johnny Bravo: Johnny accidentally awakens a giant bear named Chronos (MASTER OF TIME!) from hibernation. Chronos then threatens to eat Johnny on the grounds that "If I'm not sleeping, I'm eating," but Johnny is able to successfully get the bear back to sleep to avoid this fate.
- In a Little Bear episode, Duck tries to migrate due to having an uncontrollable urge to "go somewhere warm" at the beginning of winter, which causes a bit of sadness in the other characters, although downplayed because it's only the B-plot and she doesn't go through with it.
- In The Loud House episode "Love Birds", Walt the canary gets a girlfriend, a duck. Unfortunately, the duck has to migrate. She considers not doing it, but she misses her family too much, so Walt decides to go with her, but he misses his owners too much, so they spend winter apart, but she promises to return in spring.
- Mickey Mouse: In the Christmas Episode "Duck the Halls", Donald and the other ducks migrate south every winter, so he's never celebrated Christmas with Mickey and Goofy. He decides to stay and enjoy the holidays, but it turns out ducks can't survive the cold, and the toll on his body, compounded with his desire to stay, leads to Sanity Slippage.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, "Tanks for the Memories" has Rainbow Dash dealing with the fact that her tortoise, Tank, has to hibernate soon. Initially, she tries preventing winter (since in this show, seasons and weather are artificial), but then comes to terms with the fact that she can't and Tank will need to hibernate.
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In the notorious Tear Jerker episode "Find Her, Keep Her," Rabbit finds and raises an orphaned baby bluebird, Kessie. As she gets older, she wants to learn to fly and migrate south for the winter, but Rabbit won't allow it. Eventually, however, she does learn to fly, and Rabbit has to accept her departure, knowing that she still loves him and will come back in the spring. It reads very much as an allegory for a parent watching his child grow up and leave home.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants:
- "Pre-Hibernation Week" deals with Sandy's hibernation, and her fear that she won't get to have fun with SpongeBob before her hibernation, so the two do many extreme activities together. SpongeBob gets tired and hides, causing Sandy to start a search for him. Finally, SpongeBob goes to confess to Sandy that he can't handle the activities, only to find out that she has already started hibernating.
- "Survival of the Idiots" sees SpongeBob and Patrick break into Sandy's treedome while she hibernates for the winter. They get trapped in the snowy dome and have to escape without freezing, all while avoiding the bulked-up, feral Sandy, who beats them up whenever their antics awaken her.