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Improvised Umbrella

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"Curse you for taking the last umbrella, Mary Poppins!"

"Hey, I know! I'll use my trusty frying pan... as a drying pan!"

It's raining and you don't have an umbrella? What do you do? Grab the nearest items, fashion something out of them, and you have yourself an improvised umbrella.

Occasionally, a big leaf or a newspaper will be used for this purpose, and don't be surprised to see someone use a (empty) garbage bag as a raincoat, as all three are Truth in Television. A Wing Shield can be used this way.


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  • In an advert for Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, a guy walking into the rain with a laptop and a box of cornflakes put the cornflakes into his laptop case to keep them dry, and then used the laptop as an Improvised Umbrella.
  • One television ad from The '90s had a series of people out on a city street finding themselves caught in a sudden rainstorm and having to improvise cover. The first and third men used a freshly dry-cleaned suit and a work briefcase, which the voice-over narrator describes as "too flimsy" and "too boxy", respectively; the second woman elects to wait out the storm in a side alley, which the voice-over notes has "good cover" but "limits mobility". The fourth woman uses the advertised product, a raincoat that folds small enough into a handbag.

    Anime & Manga 
  • The rain spirit from Urusei Yatsura uses an oversized leaf, and so do the traditional spirits on which it's based.
  • In My Neighbor Totoro, Sasaki comes across Totoro, waiting for his bus in the rain, using a large leaf as a sort of rain hat. Seeing it periodically dripping onto his nose, she offers him her extra umbrella instead.
  • In Change 123, during the Okinawa school trip, Kosukegawa and Motoko get lost in the forest, and so Hino and Tsukishima go out to search for them. As it's raining, they put on themselves improvised raincoats made from transparent garbage bags, which even have the word "garbage" written on them in huge katakana characters.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: a Flash Back revealing May Chang meeting Xiao Mei for the first time had the former holding a large leaf as an umbrella in the rain.
  • Pokémon: The Series
  • Two of the cast of Tenjho Tenge once nicked a sign/billboard during heavy rain. For a humorous bonus, the sign warned "Beware of Thieves."
  • In the first end credits sequence for Digimon Tamers, Guilmon is shown using a giant leaf as an umbrella when he and Takato are out in the rain.

  • Pierre-Auguste Cot's 1880 painting, "The Storm," shows a teenage couple running for shelter, holding a piece of cloth (probably her overskirt) as a makeshift umbrella.

    Asian Animation 
  • In episode 22 of Boonie Cubs, Billy gives the kids some large leaves to use as umbrellas when it starts to rain.
  • In Season 1 episode 21 of Flower Fairy, Kukuru is left alone in the rain and uses a leaf suited to his plush toy-like size as a makeshift umbrella.
  • Happy Heroes: In Season 8 episode 7, Little M. is outside the Supermen's house with Big M. and uses a giant leaf to keep them both dry.
  • In Pleasant Goat Fun Class: The Earth Carnival episode 16, when it's about to rain in the rainforest, Miss Earth positions a giant leaf from a tree above the goats to keep them from getting wet.

    Comic Books 
  • Sue Storm of the Fantastic Four has used her force fields for this purpose.
  • In PS238, Guardian Angel's power of 'protection from basically anything and everything' also protects her from rain, whether she wants such protection or not. It appears as if the rain is hitting a spherical energy shield... and for that reason, she always has to bring an umbrella when she goes out in the rain, to avoid revealing her secret identity.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Ice Age, Sid uses Manny's tail as shelter from the rain while Manny's asleep.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Janet uses a newspaper this way. As do the audience.
    "Buy an umbrella, you cheap bitch!"
  • A man is briefly seen at the beginning of Squirm running through a thunderstorm using a newspaper as an umbrella. Mike and the bots joked that he was the hero of the film, and at the end of the movie wondered what happened to him.
  • It's pouring when Bowen visits the tomb of King Arthur in Dragonheart, but Draco walks out to him and positions one of his wings over the knight's head to protect him.

  • Adrian Mole: When Adrian is on a survival weekend with Pandora, they take turns sitting under a plastic animal food sack when it rains.
  • Circle of Magic: Tris has been known to use her weather magic to create an area around the group where rain won't penetrate. Of course, she loves the rain; she makes the barrier only because her friends don't want to get wet.
  • In the Mr. Men Annual No. 3, Mr Mean is sheltering from the rain under a newspaper, as he is much too mean to buy an umbrella. An elderly lady Mrs Washer asks for a sheet of his newspaper, but he refuses. Later, after he has been taught a lesson by a wizard, he gives Mrs Washer half a sheet of his newspaper. Half a sheet, and it isn't even raining.
  • In 1635: The Eastern Front, Jeff Higgins resorts to using a wooden plank.
  • An (appropriately) nasty version appears in the Inferno (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle) sequel novel Escape From Hell. Some of the damned souls in the desert of raining fire have figured out the trick of teaming up, grabbing somebody else, and holding him overhead as a shield.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Friends, Chandler was out on Monica's balcony smoking when it began to rain. When everyone refused to allow him back inside with his cigarette, he picked up the lid of her charcoal grill for an umbrella.
  • In Good Omens, toward the end of their first meeting, Aziraphale and Crowley (or Crawly as he is then called) can hear the distant rumble of thunder before the first storm in history. Aziraphale immediately raises one of his wings to offer shelter to Crawly, who instinctively draws closer to the angel to accept.
  • CSI: NY: In "Rain," while the team is staking out a newspaper box where kidnappers have instructed their ransom to be placed, a woman hurries up to the box, buys a paper and uses it to shield her head from the rain.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Dilbert manages to make an improvised raincoat by making holes in a garbage bag. In the anniversary book Seven Years of Highly Defective People, Scott Adams says they call this an Engineer's Raincoat in the Seattle area.
  • In one Sunday strip of For Better or for Worse, Elly finds herself stranded at a department store in a rain shower with no jacket. Thinking quickly, she fashions a rain jacket and hat out of garbage bags — only to find that by the time she finishes her project, the rain has already stopped.

    Video Games 
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: The Space Pirate Homeworld has acidic rain, so Samus has to spend a good amount of time finding a special device that protects her (which is not this trope). However, after she does all that, she is called outside to meet with her superior, Admiral Dane, a normal human with no protection equipped; this confidence is because it is not raining around Dane, as he's being covered by the GFS Olympus, an Aries-class transport, hanging directly above his head. There's a reason the man is highly-revered among fans in a universe that contains Samus Aran.
  • Don't Starve: The Pretty Parasoul is made out of twigs, cut grass, and petals. While it doesn't provide as much rain protection as the regular Umbrella, it is easier to craft and provides a sanity boost when held.
  • In Puyo Puyo!! Quest, Jaan has an alternate form named Rain-sheltering Jaan who carries a leaf for an umbrella.
  • Every game in the Animal Crossing series includes a leaf umbrella as a purchasable accessory for the player.


    Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: May Kanker is used as one by the other two Kanker sisters in "Home Cooked Eds".
  • Gwen Tennyson makes her own out of her glowing pink energy shields.
  • According to a Cutaway Gag on Family Guy, Mary Steenbergen uses Ted Danson's forehead for this.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Water bending was shown working this way in "The Fortuneteller", and then again in "The Southern Raiders".
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: In the intro sequence of the first season, Lucius Heinous VII uses his servant Samy as an umbrella to protect himself from a plummeting Jimmy. Lucius does not just put him over his head, though; he even stretches out Samy's body into the shape of an umbrella.
  • The Owl House: Towards the end of the Grand Finale, Eda, King, and Raine can be seen using a giant leaf to protect themselves from the boiling rain. This stands in sharp contrast to the Titan-infused Luz who is immune to the rain by this point, and what is left of Emperor Belos who is disintegrating with each drop.
  • The Simpsons: Homer locks himself out of the house during a thunderstorm in a flashback in "Homer at the Bat", so he decides to use a large piece of sheet metal to shield himself from the rain while he runs for cover under the tallest tree he could find.

    Real Life 
  • Common in Real Life, too, though not to the degree it's shown in fiction.
  • Some rainforest animals, such as orangutans, have been known to use large leaves to shield themselves from regular downpours.


Drying Pan

When caught in a storm, Brock gets an idea.

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