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:
- Seasonal Motif: Stock seasonal setting employed as a device to establish mood, etc.
- Seasonal Montage: Flipping between the seasons to show the passage of time in a story.
- Bizarre Seasons: Regular seasons other than the standard four season climate. These are less common in fiction.
Examples of Use as a Motif:
- In Ano Ko Ni Kiss To Shirayuri Wo, 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 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 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Steven 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Downplayed in Pikmin 2 and 3. In both games, 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 has it like this: Tropical Wilds (summer), Garden of Hope (spring), Distant Tundra (winter) and Twilight River (autumn). 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 game, Hidden Star in Four Seasons is, unsurprisingly, heavily based on seasons.
- First of all, each of the four playable characters represent a season. Reimu is spring, Cirno is summer, Aya is autumn, and Marisa is winter. They can also choose a subweapon, each of which is 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).
- Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: The Animal Crossing track has four seasonal variations.
- The Sims 3: Seasons adds to the game, well, seasons. While the game does allow you to choose how long each season is and even disable some entirely so you don't get subzero temperatures in what is supposed to be a tropical location, you can't change the temperature ranges each season is: winter, for example, will always snow.
- 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.
- 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).
Examples of use as a Montage:
- 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 "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.
- The third Harry Potter movie showed 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.
- 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).
- Type 2: Doctor Horrible being beaten up by Captain Hammer shows the seasons passing.