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Thunder Equals Downpour

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"Felt the lightning
And we waited on the thunder
Waited on the thunder
I woke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off I sat and wondered"
Bob Seger, "Night Moves"

Weather in TV Land is weird. It strikes with no warning or buildup, and can stop just as suddenly. The most common example is a loud thunderclap, followed instantly by a drenching downpour (sometimes a single raindrop in between them). No wind, no sprinkling rain, nothing beforehand to warn our unsuspecting characters that they need to get indoors. Nor does it ever thunder without an accompanying downpour.

Some Truth in Television is used here; sometimes in real life when a storm arrives, there is gentle but unsettled wind and soft thunder but no rain, until there's a bright flash of lightning and loud thunderclap, and the rain starts as a downpour, accompanied by a rising gale. An incoming storm may also bring a rapid increase in the density of the rainfall, starting as mere drizzle before the storm to a full-scale deluge afterwards. This isn't common in real life as it is in the media, though; most of the time, the rain comes first, then the thunder.

Often combined with Cue the Rain and When It Rains, It Pours. Contrast A Storm Is Coming.


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    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: An arc where Calvin and his family go camping begins this way. Calvin's parents paddle to the island where they set up camp, only for the trip across to be interrupted by a thunderclap. It then rains for the duration of their excursion.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • Back to the Future
    • Back to the Future: Averted when the storm just completely stops right after the lightning hits the clocktower. However, it's played straight in the sequels—with the exact same storm.
    • Back to the Future Part II: Played with, The lightning and wind is going nuts, but once the DeLorean is struck and disappears, the lightning and wind stops, and then it starts to pour. That's one crazy storm.
  • Enchanted: Used for dramatic effect when Giselle comes to the Real World for the first time. After being completely lost and having her tiara stolen by a homeless guy, she stands helplessly in the middle of the street, hears thunder, and gets poured on from above.
  • The Frisco Kid: After Rabbi Avram tells a skeptical Native American chief that the Abrahamic God can do anything, "but he does not. Make. Rain.", there's a thunderclap and a downpour.
  • The Great Race: Max warns Professor Fate that there's going to be a storm because of the "red sky", thunder follows, then the rain comes pouring down.
  • Jurassic Park: Starts with a flash of lightning and the obligatory rumble of thunder during the sick Triceratops scene then cuts to a torrential downpour and waves battering the shoreline. Justified, since this is an approaching tropical storm.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: At Helm's Deep, just before the battle is engaged, the two armies face each other... and you hear thunder, there are a couple of raindrops on armor, then the downpour begins. Théoden is very not happy about it; some of the movie's extra material implies that the storm was raised by Saruman for the specific purpose of demoralizing the Rohirrim.
  • 3:10 to Yuma (1957): Just as Wade and Evans are about to go on the climactic walk to the train with Evans's gang lying in wait, cracks of lightning and rolling thunder are heard. Eventually, the downpour comes—the rain that Evans the cattle rancher has been desperately waiting for, that he needs to save his herd, coming after three years of drought.
  • The Truman Show:
    • When Truman is sitting on the beach reminiscing, there is a clap of thunder and it begins to rain, but only where he is sitting. He walks three feet before turning around in shock to see the small column of rain as it follows him.
    • Taken to the extreme in the climax, when Christof, out of desperation, turns a sailing-away Truman's sunny skies into this trope; when Truman hogties himself to the sailboat to keep himself aboard, Christof hits him with a perfect storm.
  • Young Frankenstein features a classic comedic example during the grave-digging scene, after Igor makes a most unfortunate comment about the lack of rain.

  • Played realistically in short story "Holiday", with the narrator watching black clouds on the horizon and noting that A Storm Is Coming. Then, "the cloud rack was split end to end by a shattering blow of lightning, and the cloudburst struck the house with the impact of a wave against a ship."
  • The Monster Men: After the attack, clouds gather in the sky and, with a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning, ta deluge of rain starts pouring down.
    Of a sudden there was a sad, low moaning through the surrounding trees; dense, black clouds obscured the radiant moon; and then with hideous thunder and vivid flashes of lightning the tempest broke in all its fury of lashing wind and hurtling deluge. It was the first great storm of the breaking up of the monsoon.
  • Warrior Cats: In the graphic novel Beyond the Code, there's a couple of clouds in the sky as the full moon shines down on the Gathering. The cats comment how the drought might end since the the weather's cooler. An argument starts, and one cat runs away in anger. There's a flash of lightning and a KABOOM, and it's a downpour. Enough of a downpour to actually create a flood that fills this gorge to just a few feet below the clifftops.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022):
    • "In Throes of Increasing Wonder...": Thunder suddenly rumbles at the end of Paul's funeral which is then quickly followed by torrential rain as Louis de Pointe du Lac walks towards the Fairplay Saloon.
    • "A Vile Hunger for Your Hammering Heart": The audience hears the thunder just before we see an especially wet and windy storm when dock workers discover 56 mutilated corpses floating in the river.
  • Kingdom Adventure: As soon as the Prince is killed in the dark wood, lightning flashes, and it begins pouring down rain, despite the fact that there was no previous indication that a storm was coming at all.

  • In Disney's Halloween classic sound effects album, "Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House", the storm track starts this way.
  • Kids Praise: In the second album, the kids get caught in the rain with next to no warning, with thunder immediately followed by rain. This cues the Arky Arky number.

    Video Games 

  • Sandra and Woo: During the summer camping trip arc, Sandra, Cloud, Larisa, and the camp counselor were canoeing when this happened. The counselor immediately asked who wanted to abort their boating trip and go back to the cabin to watch Pixar movies on his laptop. The kids unanimously agreed.

    Western Animation