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Seasonal Baggage

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The Seasons (1897), Alphonse Mucha

"In India, 'cold weather' is merely a conventional phrase and has come into use through the necessity of having some way to distinguish between weather which will melt a brass door-knob and weather which will only make it mushy."

In most media, either It's Always Spring whenever it isn't arctic winter, or else there will be four seasons — regardless of the climate the work is set in.

The "standard" seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn/Fall) may be employed as a device. Or a close-up on falling leaves, snow, flowers, etc. will be used as a seasonal Motif, to establish what time of the year it is; Compare Blade-of-Grass Cut. Or you can tie the plot to the seasons as if they were Elemental Powers of some sort.

Alternatively, this will often be a Seasonal Montage, actively flipping between the seasons to show the passage of time in a story. Examples can be divided into the categories:

  1. Seasonal Motif: Stock seasonal setting employed as a device to establish mood, etc.
  2. Seasonal Montage: Flipping between the seasons to show the passage of time in a story.
  3. Bizarre Seasons: Regular seasons other than the standard four season climate. These are less common in fiction.

The opposite of It's Always Spring, Endless Winter, and Forest of Perpetual Autumn, which describe situations where it's one season and always that season.

Compare Temporal Theme Naming, Dreaming of a White Christmas, First Snow, Heat Wave, Indian Summer, Kigo, Four-Seasons Level.


Use as a Motif

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Meta Example: Almost every 12-Episode Anime in the Slice of Life genre will progress through one school year, starting in April and ending in March
  • The anime's opening of CLANNAD ~After Story~ uses this with the four remaining girls: Nagisa (spring), Kyou (summer), Kotomi (autumn) and Tomoyo (winter). Since most of CLANNAD is set in spring, this gives a pretty good clue which girl is the winner here.
  • The Hentai OVA series A Heat For All Seasons has the episodes takes place in Summer, Autumn, and Winter respectively, although Spring is not included.
  • In Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl, Towako and Yukina's goals for the school garden are contrasted: Towako wants to nurture it, Yukina plots to destroy it (because she believes that nothing temporary can be beautiful). This is reflected in their hair colors- earthy brown and snow white, respectively. The entry of Yurine (autumn) and Ayaka (summer) into their club completes the motif.
  • The first episode of Tsukipro The Animation has the groups leaders called into a meeting where they are told that at the end of the year, they will be performing in the label's major concert, and that it will be held at the Budokan, an important venue. The story takes place in real time, as it aired in October-December 2017, and over the course of those 13 weeks, it shows the weather changing from fall to winter, but that first episode takes place in spring, because after that meeting, SolidS' leader Shiki takes his group to see the Budokan and tell them the news - and to see the Cherry Blossoms. He then writes a song about that night, called "Cherry Blossoms in full bloom". The franchise started with a series of month Moe Anthropomorphism idols, so of course the seasons would feature heavily in their stories.

  • Allegory of the Four Seasons: As part of the Rule of Symbolism, the characters are the Anthropomorphic Personifications of the four seasons, with each of them wearing motifs that represent that. Spring is playing the lute and wearing a crown of roses by virtue of it being the season of celebration (that winter ended) and blossoms. Autumn is represented by the fruits and vegetables on the table and the Bacchic crown of grapes on his head because it's the season when most crops are harvested. Summer has wheat stalks on her hair because both the color yellow and the crop itself are associated with that season. Finally, Winter is an elderly man buried in blankets and a white, fur head cover which alludes to the cold weather of said season and the fact it ends the year.
  • Alphonse Mucha did three lithograph series called The Seasons (1896, 1897, and 1900), each of which depicted four women representing each season of the year through a combination of scenery, flora, outfits, and posture.

    Asian Animation 
  • Boonie Bears has a set of seasons, specifically Seasons 4 to 7, that are themed around the four seasons and take place during them. The names of the specific seasons in order are Spring into Action, Snow Daze, Sunsational Summer, and Autumn Awesomeness.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: The Season Towns features four kingdoms representing each season: a spring kingdom led by a chinchilla, a summer kingdom led by a llama, an autumn kingdom led by an owl, and a winter kingdom led by a penguin.

    Comic Strips 
  • Most comic strips that aren't set in a specific part of the world take place in this environment. At the very least, it will usually be winter all winter long, even if the other seasons tend to blur together.

    Fan Works 
  • In Better Off Not Knowing, a contrast is drawn between viewpoint character Hakini being a firebender born in the summer and the "bone-crushing cold" of her neonatal memory. She was born in the ice crevasse at the North Pole where her biological mother was incarcerated. Even in the summer, it would have been cold.
  • An untitled RWBY fic expands on the characters' canonical attachments to the seasons.
    She is a child of snow.
    Even now, even when her fingers almost stick to the metal of Myrtenaster's hilt- Weiss still relishes the cool as it sinks into her bones.
    It's a sharp contrast to the warmth cradled in her other hand.
    Ruby is a child of summer.
    Bundled up in in her cloak, hood up and edges wrapped about her like a scarf, Ruby shivers as each gust of wind paints another shade of pink on her cheeks and the tip of her nose.
  • The Four Seasons, a Crossover fic involving Tangled, Brave and Frozen, has four princesses who represent the seasons; Elsa (Winter), Anna (Spring), Rapunzel (Summer) and Merida (Autumn).
  • TS!Underswap: Noting the seasonal theming for Undertale's four main areas described below, Team Switched decided to shake things up by swapping the seasons assigned to each area in addition to the main idea of swapping character roles, so "the Ruins" swapped seasons with "Waterfall" and "Snowdin" swapped seasons with "Hotland". Ruined Home (the equivalent to the Ruins) is now Spring with golden flowers and lush greenery growing everywhere (likely because Asgore is now the caretaker of Ruined Home), Starlight Isles (the replacement of Snowdin) is now Summer with pirate themes to bring to mind the tropics, Crystal Springs (the equivalent of Waterfall) will be Autumn, and Boreal Bluffs (the replacement of Hotland) will be Winter.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Title cards with different seasons show a passage of time in Meet Me in St. Louis.
  • Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring. The movie cycles through the seasons in the same order as the title. The seasons cover not one year, but several, each devoted to a different time in a boy's life: boyhood, teenage years, young adulthood, adulthood, and old age. With each division, the young monk learns new life lessons, often the hard way, until he eventually finds peace in the simple life his master originally laid out for him.
  • Requiem for a Dream uses the seasons summer, fall, and winter to represent the three-act structure of the movie, as well as a parallel for the destruction that drugs are doing to the lives of the characters.
  • Adaptations of The Snow Queen often do this. Notably the Hallmark version; the various women Gerda meets throughout the story become the Snow Queen's sisters and each represent a new season. The witch who makes Gerda think she's her daughter represents Spring (notably in the book she was called the Summer Witch). The princess now represents Summer and the robbers' leader Autumn - the Snow Queen naturally taking Winter.
  • 13 Going on 30 uses a montage of Matt taking photographs for the redesign of Poise magazine. Each photoshoot represents a different season.
  • (500) Days of Summer naturally gives the relationship a summer theme. The bereavement card project Tom works on after their break-up is called The Winter Collection. And at the end he takes interest in a girl called Autumn.
  • The Four Seasons features three couples going on vacation together in each season over a number of years

  • Being a book about summer, Dandelion Wine is loaded with references to picking berries, porch swings, freshly mowed lawns, 4th of July firecrackers, and other things traditionally associated with summer.
  • The Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy of novels are titled with a seasonal motif: In Dragons of Autumn Twilight the protagonists unite and become aware of the growing evil in the land and the Big Bad, Takhisis, but also a glimmer of hope that she can be defeated. In Dragons of Winter Night the heroes are separated, and not all escape unscathed. Finally, in Dragons of Spring Dawning, the heroes reunite and restore the Balance Between Good and Evil. Dragons of Summer Flame saw Weis and Hickman cap off their contributions to the setting years later, both in and out of 'verse.
  • The Stephen King novella collection Different Seasons has each of its four stories based around a single season (though not necessarily in one year).
  • A Song of Ice and Fire frequently alludes to the long winter awaiting Westeros, and the characters' frivolous refusal to prepare for it. The Northerners, in particular, seem to have a cultural attachment to the danger and responsibility that winter represents.

  • Folk-rock band Sodagreen's Vivaldi Project is a musical project of four albums, each based on one of the four seasons. Daylight of Spring is set in Taidung, Taiwan, and contains bright folk songs. Summer/Fever is set in London, England, and contains Britrock-inspired melodies. Autumn: Stories is set in Beijing, China, and features ballads and traditional Chinese instrumentation. The Winter album will be set in Berlin... and it hasn't been released yet.
  • Tori Amos' "Icicle" uses the seasons as a central metaphor for its Coming of Age Story, about an adolescent girl trying to cling to her own identity while her parents try to force their Christian faith on her. The lyrics refer to her building a hiding place to protect her precious icicle from the coming of Spring, which is inevitably marked by Easter celebrations that she wants no part in. A throwaway line also indicates that she wears "Pumpkin PJs" associated with Autumn, apparently indicating that she feels more comfortable with the dark pagan festival of Halloween than the joyous Christian holiday of Easter.
  • Brazilian pop duo Sandy & Junior have an entire song, the aptly-named "As Quatro Estações", which uses the four seasons as its main lyrical motif. It's featured on the album of the same name, and the accompanying tour album featured a set of four interchangeable covers, each corresponding to one of the four seasons. Longtime fans of the duo take pleasure in changing the covers around as the seasons change, and even they have gotten in the act themselves.
  • The second song of Clamavi de Profundis's Chieftain project, "Árstiðir", uses the four season motifs to depict the stages of life. The Spring segment is sung by a young child named Kaia, who views life as joyful and carefree. Her older sister, Brigit, who is probably a teen or young adult, sings the summer section, and she expresses her desire to shape her destiny and build a foundation for a better future while acknowledging that life has its share of pain. Autumn is sung by Hulda, a mother who has experienced a fair share of troubles but still strives to persevere. The final segment, winter, is sung by an elderly woman who is nearing the end of her life and, as she prepares for her final rest, reminisces about the good things in life, while forgetting the pain.
  • Anaďs Mitchell in "Come September" reminisces about a burned-out summer fling as autumn comes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The courts of Changeling: The Lost by White Wolf would count as a motif. Spring is defined by desire, healing, and getting back into something approaching normal life (themes of regrowth); Summer is defined by wrath, strength, and martial prowess (high heat and scorching sun); Autumn is defined by fear and exploration of the occult (lengthening night); and Winter is defined by sorrow and secrecy (long nights and cold).

  • The Jukebox Musical Jersey Boys is about the 1960s singing group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, so naturally it's divided into four acts, each named after a different season, and each told from the perspective of one of the group's four members.
  • In Betrayal, playwright Harold Pinter specifies the season whenever there's a shift in time and they generally have a symbolic reflection on the relationship. The most important example is when Emma is breaking up with Jerry and they argue over whether the last time they met was summer or autumn.
    Jerry: In the summer, was it?
    Emma: Well, was it?
    Jerry: I know it seems -
    Emma: It was actually the beginning of September.
    Jerry: Well, that's summer, isn't it?
    Emma: It was actually extremely cold. It was early autumn.

    Video Games 
  • Unsurprisingly, this is a pretty major mechanic and plot point in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. The Oracle of Seasons has been kidnapped, and the Temple of Seasons, which houses the four Season Spirits, has sunk deep underground, causing all kinds of chaos in the land of Holodrum. Using the Rod of Seasons, Link is able to change the current area's season, altering the natural obstacles around him. The order in which the seasons are conquered is winter, spring, summer, autumn.
  • The Click Clock Wood level of Banjo-Kazooie is split into four versions of the same area based on the season, complete with puzzles that start in spring and continue through the following seasons.
  • Monster Hunter 2 (dos): The game features a unique season mechanic that isn't present in any other mainline Monster Hunter game. There are three seasons, which occur in a cyclic pattern: Breeding (the composite equivalent of spring and autumn), Cold (the equivalent of winter) and Hot (the equivalent of summer). The quests you can accept will depend on the current season, as certain hunting areas will be off-limits. Breeding forbids hunts in the Jungle and the Swamp, Cold forbids hunts in the Snowy Mountains and the Desert during night, and Hot forbids hunts in the Volcano and the Desert during day. The only place that is exempt from any restriction is Forest and Hills.
  • MouseHunt has a Seasonal Garden where each season lasts about 50 hours before switching to a new one. Winter is snowy/icy; Spring is rainy; Summer is hot and green; Fall is dry and a bit spooky. Each has its own set of mice.
  • Reflec Beat colette has four different seasonal phases depending on the current real-world season, each with its own set of new songs and unlock systems.
  • In Pokémon Black and White and Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, the four seasons rotate each month, meaning they all last around 30 days apiece. The Pokemon Deerling and Sawsbuck were also shown to have different Forms in different Seasons, and some routes and cities even have different routes/paths/items depending on Season. For reasons unknown, this mechanic was left out of Pokémon X and Y, preventing any migrated Deerling or Sawsbuck from changing form.
  • Pikmin: In Pikmin 2 and 3, each of the four seasons is present within one particular area, rather than all seasons appearing in a cyclic fashion through all areas. In the second game, Valley of Repose is set in winter, Awakening Wood is set in spring, Perplexing Pool is set in summer, and Wistful Wild is set in autumn. The third game employs a reverse order: Tropical Wilds (summer), Garden of Hope (spring), Distant Tundra (winter), and Twilight River (autumn); there's a fifth area, but it's thematically apart from the others and serves as the final destination. This also applies to the non-DLC Mission Mode levels in the third game, with an added desert environment.
  • Used to excellent effect in Proteus; the seasons cycle gradually as you play and each one brings different visuals and sounds, resulting in much candy for your eyes and ears.
  • Harvest Moon games always have cycling seasons, which usually determine which crops you can grow, what you find in the wild, and what events can be triggered.
  • Ditto its Spiritual Successor, Stardew Valley, which cycles between the four seasons every 28 days and determines the same things (namely crops, foraging, events...).
  • The sixteenth Touhou Project game, Touhou Tenkuushou ~ Hidden Star in Four Seasons is, unsurprisingly, heavily based on the four seasons.
    • First of all, each of the four playable characters represents a season. Reimu is spring, Cirno is summer, Aya is autumn, and Marisa is winter. They can also choose a subweapon, each also based on a season.
    • The incident is about seasons going haywire, and the first four locations you visit are in different seasons. First stage is in the summer skies, second stage is in Youkai Mountain in autumn, third stage is Hakurei Shrine in spring, and fourth stage is the Forest of Magic in winter. Fifth and sixth stages are in the mastermind's lair instead.
    • The Final Boss have an attack for each of the season, and for her final attack, she steals your seasonal powers and use it against you. This also plays into her design, as she has four differently colored energy flames around her: Pink (spring), green (summer), orange (autumn), and blue (winter).
    • The Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels are based on seasons. Easy mode is named "Spring Sprinkle", Normal mode is called "Summer Showers", Hard mode is "Autumn Typhoon", and Lunatic mode is "Winter Hibernation".
    • In the Extra Stage, you use the fifth season, doyou, which is the transitional period between seasons.
  • Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: The Animal Crossing track has four seasonal variations.
  • The Sims 2, The Sims 3, and The Sims 4 have all received a Seasons expansion pack which adds to the game, well, seasons. While the game does allow you to customise each season by choosing how long each season is (in The Sims 3), selecting which holidays are celebrated when (in The Sims 4), and even disabling some seasons entirely so you don't get subzero temperatures in what is supposed to be a tropical location (in The Sims 2 and The Sims 3), you can't change the temperature ranges each season is: in winter, for example, will always snow. Sims 4 does away with the season-disabling feature.
  • Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!'s homeworlds all share this motif: Summer Forest, Autumn Plains and Winter Tundra. Strangely enough, spring noticeably gets left outnote .
  • The first four dungeons in Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard are respectively modeled after the four seasons, symbolizing the time the player's characters have invested in exploring the Yggdrasil: Ancient Forest is summer, Auburn Thicket is autumn, Frozen Grounds is winter, and Petal Bridge is spring. The Ancient Forest and Petal Bridge return in Etrian Odyssey Nexus as Nostalgia Levels, but the other two don't, so their association with this trope is lost.
  • Undertale: The four main regions are each loosely themed after the seasons. The Ruins are autumn, as there are red leaves all around and it's the first place the player character sees after a literal fall; Snowdin is winter, a snowy forest with Christmas references; Waterfall is spring, being a literal spring and having flowers play a part in the area's geography; and Hotland is summer, a hot region where you find that the schools are on summer vacation.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY themes its four protagonists after the seasons. Ruby, being Spring, is idealistic and surrounded by flurries of rose petals, Weiss is a classic (Defrosting) Ice Queen and wears a snowflake emblem, Yang is usually bright and compared to the sun giving her a summer look, Blake is often downcast and associated with fall-like colors. In season three, this becomes an actual plot point with the legend of the Four Maidens, a group of four maidens with incredible powers, each of whom is themed after one of the seasons. Cinder was able to steal a portion of the current Fall Maiden's power before the start of the show, and she's been plotting how to get the rest ever since. Along the way, we get another character with a heavy fall theme: Pyrrha Nikos.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Samurai Jack was called "The Four Seasons of Death", and consisted of four vignettes, each set in one of the four seasons where Jack faces a threat related to the season's characteristics. In fall, a Mad Scientist collects special leaves to concoct a poison to put into the water of a nearby well. In winter, a mountain-dwelling warrior race forges a powerful sword and gives it to their greatest champion to guard their territory. In summer, Jack is accosted in the desert by spirits of the wind-whipped sands. In spring, a nature sprite attempts to seduce Jack into staying with her forever.
  • Each TV season of Avatar: The Last Airbender takes place during a different climate season that reflects the Elemental Nation that's featured: the cast travels to the Northern Water Tribe in winter (season 1), goes through the Earth Kingdom in spring (season 2), and infiltrates the Fire Nation in summer (season 3).
  • Each installment of the "Hunting Trilogy" of Looney Tunes shorts featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd is set in a different season. "Rabbit Fire" is set in either spring or summer, "Rabbit Seasoning" in fall, and "Duck! Rabbit! Duck!" is set in wintertime.
  • The Wind in the Willows (1995) is set over the course of about a year, and every season is animated in loving detail.

Use as a Montage

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • There was a shot of the courtyard outside Thomas More's prison cell like this in the original A Man for All Seasons.
  • Played straight in the film Notting Hill. Hugh Grant's character walks left to right and goes through Fall, Winter, and Spring to the tune of Bill Wither's "Ain't No Sunshine (When She's Gone)."
  • There's one in The Time Machine (1960), to indicate how fast the Time Traveler is going through time. Watch it here.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban shows the time passing and seasons changing using a shot of the Whomping Willow with the clichéd effects of the season in question affecting it.
  • Parodied (of course) in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
    Narrator: A year passed. Winter changed into spring, spring changed into summer, summer changed back into winter, and winter gave spring and summer a miss and went straight on into autumn.
  • Deadpool has a comic variation in which the relationship between Wade and Vanessa is depicted via a montage of sex scenes with them engaging in different kinds of sex to mark different holidays.
  • Madadayo: It's summer when the Uchidas are forced to move into the tiny gardener's shack after their house burns down. We then see a shot of the Uchidas in their shack as leaves are falling. Then we see a shot of them in the shack, with snow everywhere. Then we see a shot of them in the shack, with the snow gone and the trees blooming. After this Time Passes Montage, Uchida's old students decide to build him a house.

    Video Games 
  • ''Kirby Super Star and Kirby Super Star Ultra: In "Milky Way Wishes", Kirby has to travel to a planet star called Floria, where it is shaped in such a way for the four seasons of the star to be in constant change, and it is this difference that Kirby must use to get through the level.
  • In Tokimeki Memorial Drama Series Vol.3: Tabidachi no Uta, this is done at the beginning of the "Nijiiro no Sotsugyoushiki" storyline, to show the passing of time between the events depicted in the 1st Drama Series game, Nijiiro no Seishun, and this Tabidachi no Uta storyline (which acts as the true conclusion of Nijiiro no Seishun). The only element that doesn't change throughout the seasons' montage is the venerable Legendary Tree.
  • Mega Man has just defeated Dr. Wily for the second time; it's time to go home. And so the player is treated to a seasons montage, with Rock's colors and the environmental conditions both matching one of his previously-acquired weapons. First, Mega turns red and gold (Atomic Fire) while leaves fall (Leaf Shield). Next, he turns white and gray (Bubble Lead) while snowflakes drift down (Metal Blade). Spring brings the blossoming of cherry trees, with petals falling (Quick Boomerang), so he turns pink (Quick Boomerang again). Finally, summer brings rain (buster shots) which turns him blue-on-white (Air Shooter).

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 

  • In The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour 3, the villain waits outside the mall and then he becomes enraged.
    Cosmo: "Wow, I can't believe the sun came up, went down, came back up, and then we had rain and snow and night again all in one hour."
  • The Time Passes Montage variation was subverted in Rugrats. After it occurs, a subtitle reads "One Week Later" and Drew says to Stu, "Crazy weather this week, huh?"
  • Hey Arnold!: in "Sticky's Pumpkin", Stinky tries to keep his pumpkin alive through harsh weather conditions before the fair. Him and his grandfather even lampshade this.
    Stinky's Grandfather: Terrible weather we've been having: rain, sun, snow-
    Stinky: And all in the same dang week!
  • Parodied in Johnny Test. We see Johnny checking the mailbox in rain, sunshine and snow, and then normal weather. Dukey informs us that all of that was only 4 days, to which Johnny comments on how crazy the weather’s been lately.
  • In the Angry Beavers episode "You Promised!" Norbert promises Daggett that he'll do whatever he wants for a whole day, one year from now. We then see the dam in the summer (accompanied by music very much like The Beach Boys), then in the fall with leaves changing (accompanied by a saxophone riff), then covered with snow (accompanied by "Jingle Bells"), then in the spring with buds on the trees and birds flying by (accompanied by a flute), and then back to the summer with the beach music. Much to Norb's surprise, Dag actually remembered.

Alternative Title(s): Seasonal Motif, Four Seasons, Seasonal Montage, Four Seasons Montage, Stock Seasons