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Thunder = 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 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. 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.


Film - Animated

Film - Live Action

  • 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.
  • In 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.
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  • In 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.
  • Used for dramatic effect in Enchanted, 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 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.
  • Back to the Future
    • Averted in the first movie, 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.
    • Not exactly averted, but weird nonetheless. At the end of the second movie, 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.
  • Young Frankenstein features a classic comedic example during the grave-digging scene, after Igor makes a most unfortunate comment about the lack of rain.
    • Averted earlier in the movie when thunder strikes whenever a certain characters name is mentioned, but there is never any rain.
  • In Sunrise, a hurricane comes out of nowhere.
  • In 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.
  • 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.


  • In the Warrior Cats 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.
  • In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Monster Men, after the attack, this happens.
    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.

Live-Action Television

  • Lost - Happens a lot.
  • 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.

Newspaper Comics

  • 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.

Video Games