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Spring Is Late

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Unfortunately, indoor flowers are not a sign of spring.

"Spring will be a little late this year
A little late arriving in my lonely world over here."
— "Spring Will be a Little Late This Year" by Frank Loesser

In real life, the transition between seasons can take a while. Winter can linger past March and well into April (hell, early June in some areas) depending on where you live. (Or September and October on the other half of the planet.) Of course, it depends on your point of view. If you're a technical-minded type, then Spring can never actually be late because it always starts on March 21st no matter what the weather is like outside. Of course, when people say that it's "late", what they really mean is that there's still snow outside or that it's cold, the trees and flowers aren't blooming, etc.

Not so in TV Land. For fictional denizens, winter lasts a couple of days at most, and spring arrives March 21st on the dot. If not, then something is wrong. Maybe something happened to the creatures responsible for changing the seasons, or perhaps the MacGuffin needed to dismiss winter has gone missing.

Often there are terrible consequences for Spring being late. And yet, no one seems to care if Spring lasts into Summer or if Autumn goes missing. Perhaps it's because Evil Is Deathly Cold.

Truth in Television throughout history, specifically for places where the survival of a population depended on a good harvest and snow taking too long to go away could spell death.

Compare Endless Winter.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In a one-shot manga by Megumi Tachikawa, Music Box of Spring, the seasons are changed by the playing of a large music box. But when a young witch takes the star Sirius to make a love pie, she accidentally prevents spring from coming, as the music box is set to start bringing in spring when Sirius is directly above it.
  • In Guardian Fairy Michel, spring is late because no one told the winter fairy that winter was over.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Blake and Mortimer album SOS Météores, Western Europe is suffering under an unusually severe winter lasting well into April. Turns out the main villain is meddling with the weather with a piece of impossible machinery to help the enemy invade.
  • Asterix: one of the short stories from Asterix and the Class Act uses the 'something happened to the creatures responsible for changing the seasons' variation; Asterix and Obelix find the anthropomorphic personification of Spring unconscious in the woods, having been ambushed by his rival Winter. They give him some magic potion to help even the odds.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Rupert Bear it is found that spring is brought about by "The Imps Of Spring". One story has Rupert shrink to small size (thanks to some magic seeds) find their hideout and wake all of them up to tell them they've overslept (it is March and the weather is still wintry).

    Films — Animation 
  • In the Tinkerbell movie, the season are changed by the Neverland Fairies, and when the preparations for Spring are upset, the ministers discuss delaying Spring, but come to the conclusion that Spring has to happen on time in order to preserve the balance of nature.
  • While the first Fantasia film showed fairies changing spring to summer to fall and to winter, a segment featuring a fairy changing winter to spring did not show up until the sequel released 60 years later.
  • The biggest theme of Franklin and the Green Knight, other than that Franklin's family is expecting a new member. "Wake up, Spring where are you? Wake up! Come on Spring, let's have some fun! ... Spring, come out, now don't be shy. Oh, Springtime, can't you even try?"

  • In the 1980s Strawberry Shortcake book, "Strawberry Shortcake and the Winter That Would Not End," Winter lasts much longer than it should, due to the Snow King's magic crystal being stolen (without it, the snow won't stop). The culprit turns out to be a crotchety old badger who wants winter to last forever so he can sleep and not be disturbed by other animals. The strawberry kids eventually get him to see the good side of Spring, and the crystal is returned.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The White Witch kept Narnia in a perpetual state of "always Winter but never Christmas", so spring was about 100 years late.
  • In The Berenstain Bears Easter Surprise, spring is delayed when Boss Bunny (aka the Easter Bunny) quits.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Winter lasts till the equivalent of early May, due to the Dark One interfering with the seasons. This is fixed in the first book after the protagonists manage to weaken him by killing some of his lieutenants. Then summer lasts clear to January. Interestingly, people do care about this, as the entire world starts to turn into a tinderbox from the heat. To fix this new problem, the protagonists must find a powerful artifact that can control the weather, and in order to fix the balance of nature, they have to dump three months worth of winter onto the world over about two weeks.
  • In First Lord's Fury of the Codex Alera series, Tavi forces Spring to come late. He does this by drawing in cold air from the north to maintain winter by the Shield Wall. This is used to transport ships over land across the realm in days, where it would normally take weeks to travel with conventional methods.
  • This happens in Wintersmith because the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Winter refuses to leave. Interestingly, the book does point out that Autumn is Late would have been just as bad; it just isn't what happened.
  • In Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, the lengthening of winter is a sign of the growing power of the Big Bad Storm King and plays a key plot point in Binabik's character arc, as his people view it as a sign of his betrayal of his shamanistic duties until they are convinced that it's really the Storm King's doing.
  • In The Dresden Files in Ghost Story there's still snow on the ground in May. Mab is forced to remain near Chicago to keep Harry's soulless body alive, and it's clearly causing her great strain to stick around this late in the year.
  • Said in the prologue of the very first Warrior Cats book.
  • In John C. Wright's Count To A Trillion, Menelaus is six before spring first arrives. This is a Good Thing because the prolonged winter destroyed a plague that could have ended humanity, but still, they are glad when spring arrives.
  • The first line of the children's book Runt says that spring comes late to Minnesota.
  • The plot of Malinda Lo's Huntress is driven by this trope: the weather has stayed gray and drizzly for too long, the kingdom's crops have failed and the people are starving. This is caused by the Fairy Queen's daughter Elowen's rebellion against her mother.
  • In a Little Golden Book entitled Big Bird Brings Spring to Sesame Street (as well as its video adaptation), Big Bird is tired of the winter weather and how it prevents him from doing the things he likes outdoors, so he decides to make it feel like spring by buying flowers and giving them to his friends.
  • Before the later movie, Rainbow Brite appeared in a book and record / tape set with completely different plot called Rainbow Brite Saves Spring.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Earth 2 had a really loony example — spring is late on the colony planet because nature itself needed to be fertilized. Never mind axial tilts or that kind of garbage.

  • In the song "In Like a Lion (Always Winter)" by the band Relient K refers to a "curse that can't be lifted" and a world where it's "always winter and never Christmas". The title and lyrics are a reference to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Older Than Feudalism. The Greek/Roman myth about the seasons of the year includes this as Hades kidnapped his wife-to-be Persephone from the Olympus and that results in the advent of winter (later they make a deal and the normal seasoning begins)
  • There's also Fimbulvetr (in English: "Fimbulwinter") in Norse Mythology, which lasts thrice as long as a normal winter and serves as the first sign that Ragnarök is nigh. "Fimbulwinter" is still a regularly used term in Scandinavia for describing an unusually harsh and long winter.
  • Groundhog Day. If the groundhog sees his shadow, then that's six more weeks of winter. But if there's no shadow, that's supposed to mean that winter will end early. So naturally it follows that if winter doesn't soon end, then that means spring is late.
  • In Scottish myth, The Cailleach controls winter. On February 1, she decides how much longer she wants it to last. If the weather is pleasant, she is gathering enough firewood for an extended winter. If it is miserable, she doesn't need the firewood because she is going to allow Bridgid to start spring early.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Residents of Vorostokov, one of Ravenloft's harsher inhabited domains, have been waiting for a proper Spring for a couple of decades now. At best, the rate of snowfall decreases temporarily, and a few above-freezing days each summer keep the accumulation from turning villages into glaciers, but actual thaws are unknown.
    • One of the example plot hooks in the Epic Level Handbook is about a xixecal (essentially a demigod of ice who looks like a giant, humanoid glacier) who is preventing a particularly harsh winter from ending.

    Video Games 
  • Touhou: In Perfect Cherry Blossom, spring is very late because someone is stealing it in order to make a certain tree bloom.
    • In Hidden Star in Four Seasons, it's summer but places all over Gensokyo are experiencing spring-, autumn-, and winter-like weather seemingly at random.
  • In the NES version, of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game, Stage 4 is a snowy park. Upon defeating the boss, Tora, the turtles destroy a Weather-Control Machine and the setting immediately turns to spring, with the turtles announcing that "Spring is here."
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • In Majora's Mask, Snowhead Mountain is plunged into eternal winter by an evil spirit. When Link breaks the curse, the land instantly transforms into a warm sunny place: snow melts, plants bloom, and ice-themed enemies are replaced with their springtime counterparts.
    • Oracle of Seasons, as the name implies, involves the seasons being out of whack due to their oracle being kidnapped. It's possible to go from one screen to another with the season changing, though each area has a stump from which you can swing the Rod of Seasons with which to change the season and progress (spring brings flowers that catapult you up ridges, summer lowers water levels, fall causes leaves to block holes, and winter freezes over lakes).
  • God of War (PS4) ends with the arrival of Fimbulwinter, a supernaturally long winter that is the prelude to Ragnarok. Fimbulwinter was predicted, but not for at least a century; Kratos caused it early by killing Baldur. Sure enough, Kratos describes the Time Skip between it and God of War Ragnarök as three winters with no spring in between.

    Web Comics 
  • Oglaf has the Snow Queen, who needs to be sexually satisfied before spring comes.

    Western Animation 
  • In the '90s Rupert cartoon, the imps (see Comic Strips above) make an appearance there as well, only brought up to Rupert's size and Gender Flipped. The imps are supposed to use a staff to turn winter into spring, but a trainee Rupert meets refuses, saying she would rather use a mechanical contraption named a "spring machine". Raggerty meanwhile decides to sabotage all of these attempts as spring makes him itch. He gets thwarted. Eventually.
  • Similar to the example in literature, the 2003 DVD Spring for Strawberry Shortcake starts when there's still snow on the ground on the first day of Spring, so Strawberry and her friends go out to find it. They end up finding the young girl Spring who would rather keep playing in Winter's snow than bring Spring to the world, but they convince her to do her job.
  • This is also the motivating crisis behind Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer; the villain's attempt to steal the "diamond planet" Spectra prevents spring from occurring on Earth. Somehow.
  • Weather and the seasons are created manually (ungually?) in the world of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, which means that everyone has to chip in and clear away all the remnants of Winter on the day before Spring. In the episode "Winter Wrap Up", we learn that Ponyville has been late bringing in Spring these past few years, but the only consequence appears to be embarrassment on the part of the citizens of Ponyville. But thanks to Twilight Sparkle, they are able to bring in Spring on time.
  • With a twist in "Angelina's Spring Fling" on Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps. The characters know perfectly well that there's nothing they can do to stop it from being cold and snowy outside. So, instead, they decide to try to create a bit of spring inside by doing things such as pretending to play baseball, painting Easter eggs and playing a CD of Vivaldi's "Spring."
  • Silly Symphonies: At the end of "Winter", the groundhog character, who is said to predict the changing of the seasons, is hoping that the sky will turn cloudy that day, signaling the end of winter. Unfortunately for him the clouds clear up, revealing a sunny sky, and as a result the groundhog turns around and sees his shadow, frightening him back into his burrow, implying that winter will continue. Interestingly enough, although this short is preceded by two other shorts titled Summer and Autumn, respectively, there is no follow-up short called Spring at all!.
  • In Frosty's Winter Wonderland, the kids are concerned that spring is coming and Frosty and his wife have to head north soon. However, Jack Frost, having newly turned a new leaf, magically forces winter to remain to the delight of his new friends. However, the local Pastor comes to plead with them that the cycle of nature must continue as normal. At that, Frosty and company realize that they are being unfair and agree to let spring come.
  • Likewise in Rankin Bass' Jack Frost, Jack manages to trap the villain, Kublai Kraus, in his castle with a blizzard, and extends winter as long as possible so that he can't escape and attack the village where his beloved lives. He manages to extend it past Groundhog's Day by turning into a shadow to scare Punxsutawney Phil, but eventually his boss, Father Winter, has enough and ordains that winter will end at noon on May Day. Jack manages to defeat the villain before it happens.
  • "Franklin and the Four Seasons" from Franklin and Friends opens with the main characters bemoaning how it's snowy out, the sun hasn't been seen in days and it feels like spring will never come.

    Real Life 
  • Volcanic eruptions or short-term climatic shifts can cause prolonged winters in temperate regions, as happened when Krakatoa erupted in 1883.note 
  • In New England, spring is often very late and likes to come back and visit occasionally. It's not unheard of to see snow in late April, weeks after spring has arrived (meaning most or all of the snow was gone). Freak ice storms are also common in early spring in New England.
    • The same goes for other parts of North America, like the Upper Midwest of the United States or the Canadian interior provinces. It isn't uncommon to have blizzards in mid-to-late April in the Prairies.
    • While at not those extremes, spring weather is often so fickle that in Spain you can pass in just a couple of days from a warm and sunny weather to other way colder and/or rainy, with even snow outside mountains, and not only in March or April but also in May, and even albeit at a lesser extreme in Junenote .
  • Standard operating procedure in Russia. There is even a proverb: "March came, put on two pairs of trousers" (Пришел марток — надевай двое порток). Freezing cold snaps on May Day are a common occurence.
  • Not as much "late" as "gone AWOL": 1816 was the "Year Without a Summer" in Europe and North America, thanks to a volcanic eruption by Mt. Tambora in present-day Indonesia. Snow was recorded in New England in early June.


Video Example(s):


Franklin and the Green Knight

In "Franklin and the Green Knight," the characters' home village of Woodland remains shrouded in a blanket of deep snow, despite it being March. Franklin in particular is very worried about spring being late, as his new baby sibling is supposed to be born in the spring. Franklin's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Turtle assure him that the baby will still come no matter what. Franklin, however, remains worried. Mr. Turtle suggests that they might need the Green Knight to bring spring and this causes the family to recall an old tale, "The Quest of the Green Knight," one that Mrs. Turtle hasn't read to Franklin in a long time. The tale is that of a similar village, one which has been in winter's embrace for far too long.

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