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When It Rains, It Pours

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"No, I'm fine! Really!"

"Summer rains—you can never- [interrupted by rain] ...predict them."
Double D, just before a flash storm occurs.

When it rains in media, it never seems to restrict itself to a light sprinkling or a drizzle. On the contrary, if it rains at all, it rains in buckets. This trope is when A Storm Is Coming, and when it gets here, it immediately opens up with a torrential downpour (sometimes prefaced with Dramatic Thunder). It never starts with a light rainfall that grows into a larger storm. When it rains, it pours.

The reason for this, of course, is that heavy rain is easier to pick up on camera than the usual light sprinkling seen in nature, thus directors and producers will choose to intentionally drench their performers for dramatic effect. Most such scenes are created using a sprinkler frame suspended over the scene, operated by a worker with a hose. In such cases the wide shots tend to have weather that looks very clement; in close-up, cue the downpour, with lots of shots of the performer's soaking wet hair and clothing.


If a light rain has to be used, it's usually represented as slow moving sparse white lines.

Truth in Television for some regions; the western U.S. is especially known for violent cloudbursts. In deserts, if it rains at all, you had best run for high ground, because the soils tend to have a hydrophobic crust which promotes flash flooding. This style of rain is also fairly common in the United Kingdom, and is one of the reasons why scenes set in the country often show it raining heavily. In real life, this sort of rain in the UK is most common during spring and at the height of summer, usually following a period of sustained humid and hot weather. It can also happen quite frequently during late autumn and through the winter.

See also Cyber Punk With A Chance Of Rain, Cue the Rain and Thunder = Downpour.



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    Comic Books 
  • In Sin City, it generally only rains when a major plot point comes to the surface, like Marv realizing some crucial facts about Goldie and her reason for coming to him, or Dwight and the Girls of Old Town finding out that the abusive scumbag they just killed is not only a cop, but is a decorated hero.
  • Watchmen: Probably because a light rain just doesn't fit the gritty, depressing feel of the story.

    Comic Strips 
  • If rain in Real Life was as intense as in Peanuts comics, the world would be flooded very quickly.
  • Mutts seem to have a huge amounts of rain falling from the sky.

    Film - Animated 
  • Bambi may have a song about April showers, but the rain itself is a huge thunderstorm.
  • My Neighbor Totoro has a shot of a few drops falling, followed immediately by one with the rainstorm at full force.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • The Batman: Most of the night scenes in Gotham are accompanied by heavy rainfall.
  • Clue: It rains heavily for most of the film, with a lot of thunder and lightning.
  • In the silent film Sunrise, as the Man and Wife sail home across the lake, the weather goes from calm to violent thunderstorm almost instantly.
  • Played with to multiple ends in Jurassic Park, on account of a hurricane being responsible for the weather. The rain was so hard, that they couldn't use their Animatronic T-Rex, and chose to re-do the very last scene, just to give the poor "little" guy some use.
  • The Day After Tomorrow: Although avoiding some of these tropes as the storm builds up gradually, as the superstorm intensifies it plays this trope straight as it unleashes an endless torrential downpour flooding portions of New York City, and according to one of the characters the downpour lasts about 3 days. The rain eventually turns into snow and buries much of the northern continents.
  • In The Matrix, the two times it rains, it rains in buckets.
  • In the first American-produced Godzilla, every time it rains, it rains like this.
  • The The Lord of the Rings films feature heavy rain at Bree and Helm's Deep, and a blizzard in the pass of Caradhras. Otherwise, there is no precipitation. The blizzard at least was magically conjured, and the storm at Helm's Deep may have been as well.
  • The last time it rained as hard as it does in The Crow, Noah built himself a boat.
    Can't rain all the time~!
    • Indeed, in 2014 the Biblical story of Noah became an epic movie that would have gladdened the heart of Cecil B. deMille.
  • Visually lampshaded in The Truman Show when it suddenly comes bucketing down on cue during a sad moment. Truman moves a few steps and... it is perfectly dry. Then the streams of heavy rain literally moves over to pour on him.
  • Forrest Gump: In a letter to Jenny, Forrest goes on at length about the Vietnamese monsoon season. All during Tom Hanks' narration, we see the titular character coming very close to drowning in the torrential downpour.
  • In Poltergeist, the rain went from zero to sixty in seconds.
  • The first Spider-Man movie goes from grey clouds to upside-down soaked kissing in about five minutes.
  • Seven Samurai and quite a few other Kurosawa films.
  • Johnny English had a sudden downpour set in.
  • Hard Rain was made of this trope, as the name suggests.
  • In The Blot a torrential rain comes pretty much out of nowhere as Phil is walking out of the library. This is a plot point as Phil is sweet on Amelia the librarian, and gets a chance to give her a ride home.
  • Purgatory: The only rainstorm in the movie is a massive downpour, though it wasn't natural.
  • Justified in Jungle as it established that the characters have three weeks to complete their trek before the rainy season starts. When Marcus complains about a heavy rainstorm, their guide Kurt tells them that compared to the rainy season, this is a light shower. Yossi is separated from the group and lost in the jungle for several weeks, meaning that his in the jungle during rainy season and every rainstorm is a torrential downpour.
  • The daily downpours are constant source of annoyance in The Odd Angry Shot. "You could you set your watch by this bloody rain!" is practically Harry's Catchphrase.

  • The tale of Noah and the great flood in The Bible, caused by nonstop rain for forty days and nights.
  • The Famous Five: There are many heavy rainstorms, and when they happen, usually the Five are well wrapped-up in macintoshes and sou'westers.
  • In Terry Pratchett's The Last Continent, the drought breaks with a torrential downpour, causing flash floods.
  • In Gift From The Princess Who Brought Sleep, when Hanne's carriage pulls away from the check station it's assaulted with a downpour so violent it sounds like hail.
  • In Harry Potter, Hogwarts has a pretty solid weather pattern. The narrative will show the transition from the last days of summer to autumn with rain lashing at the high windows, flooding the greenhouses, dark purple clouds, rain so thick you can't tell red from yellow, and one person complaining that he "hasn't been properly dry since August" due to rigorous Quidditch training in the aforementioned rain. Very rarely is a light drizzle ever noted.

    Live Action TV 
  • A 1989 The Cosby Show Thanksgiving episode used this to set up a series of gags where Cliff has to go back and forth (in said downpour) to pick up items for the holiday dinner.
  • In The Pacific, the rain goes on and on as a continuous downpour, giving one main character a severe illness and prompting the Staff Sgt. to take off his clothes and shower in it while loudly reciting the Marine rules of cleanliness. It abruptly stops.
    • This is Truth in Television, as many of the Pacific Islands have climates that have massive downpours. (Some islands, like Hilo of Hawaii, gets as much as 126 Inches/3200 Millimeters of rain a year.)
  • Averted in NCIS. There are scenes shot of light rain in a few episodes.
  • Mostly played straight in Frasier, which is set in infamously rainy Seattle. The thing is, while Seattle experiences more days with some kind of precipitation than most American cities east of the Rocky Mountains, it averages less total precipitation than most of those same cities - as said precipitation mostly occurs as light drizzle. Downpours and thunderstorms in particular are quite rare. Nevertheless, when the series depicts rain for plot or ambiance purposes, it's shown to rain heavily, with thunder and lightning for good measure.
  • In the Thunderbirds episode "End of the Road", it rains very heavily indeed, causing landslides which interfere with a road-building project.

  • Albert Hammond's rather ironically-named It Never Rains In Southern California. Of course, as any Los Angeleno would tell you, for most of the year it doesn't. But when it does... you really need all those storm gullies and debris crater fields.
    It never rains in California
    But girl, don't they warn ya:
    It pours
    Man, it pours
  • Led Zeppelin When The Levée Breaks
    If it keeps on rainin', the levée's gonna break...

    Folklore and Mythology 
  • It seems that just about every civilization on Earth has a tale relating to a great flood caused by a deluge of rain. The Baylonians had two tales of great floods, in fact.

    Video Games 
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has a lot of these—in fact, in this game and in Majora's Mask, you gain the ability to make this happen on cue with the Song of Storms.
  • Ōkami—the "Downpour" brush technique, in which it always rains hard enough for someone to take a shower in the resulting deluge. Very satisfying to use on one of the game's Flat Earth Atheists, who claims she wouldn't believe even if a god could make it rain right on her...
  • Pokémon: There are certain areas in the game where it always rains, and it rains like this. Aside from these areas, there is no rain in the game. There is even a legendary Pokemon, Kyogre, with the special ability Drizzle. That ability name is a misnomer: it makes freaking floods happen. This gets kicked up another notch with Primal Kyogre's Primordial Sea ability, which causes it to rain so fiercely that Fire attacks fizzle out altogether.
  • Heavy Rain: It rains basically the entire game. It even tells you how many inches fall. Like you couldn't guess from the title.
  • Generally, it always rains heavily in Mega Man (Classic) games.
  • Averted in the opening scenes of Shadow of the Colossus, with misty drizzle and light rain. On the other hand, it pours for the final battle, although that's more a case of Empathic Environment.
  • Happens in Scratches, on the second day.
  • Sudden rainstorms randomly occur in Robot City due to the titular city's haphazard state of construction. The storms even escalate to flash floods depending on how many screens you've moved, and you'll get washed back to the start if you don't find cover quick.
  • Patapon series: when it rains against your will, it's always a thunderstorm. When you use a rain miracle, the heavy rain is still there, but without lightning. It isn't until Patapon 3 when the light rain is present and even then the light rain is more like a few big drops falling slowly.
  • Downplayed in Left 4 Dead 2 in the aptly titled "Hard Rain" level, where the weather devolves from a light sprinkle in the first map, to normal rain causing small floods in the second, to torrential downpours with particularly violent bursts in the third an on. Justified in that it's a hurricane hitting the town they're in.
  • The rain in Minecraft will always blot out the sun. Thunderstorms are even darker, to the point where hostile mobs can spawn out in the open and players can sleep through them.
  • Final Fantasy has a few locales where the rain is never gentle.
    • The town of Zozo in Final Fantasy VI may as well have been built under a waterfall.
    • In Final Fantasy IX it's always raining heavily in and around Burmecia. Initially this seems to be for dramatic effect, but you'll find it's still raining like crazy there long after the plot has forgotten it.
    • In Final Fantasy XII, if it's the rainy season in the Giza Plains, the place will always be stormy, gloomy and flooded.
  • In The Floor is Jelly, the gelatinous ground even jiggles about as heavy downpour pounds onto it.
  • The Eder Kemo age found in Uru: Ages Beyond Myst has frequent, intense rainstorms. In fact, the sky is covered in a perpetual, windy overcast. Subverted mostly because luring clouds of fireflies out of the garden without them getting wet is part of the challenge. Hence, rain showers are brief and fairly light.
  • Averted in STALKER. Sometimes a drizzle is just a drizzle.

    Web Original 
  • At the end of The Backwater Gospel, when the town engages in a Battle in the Rain, it turns into a vicious thunderstorm. Somewhat justified though, in that it does take place in a desert setting.

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible: The one time it is shown to rain, it is a downpour.
  • The Batman: The only time that it rains is right after Dick Grayson's parents' funeral (which actually summons another trope too).
  • Looney Tunes:
    • "Water Water Every Hare" starts with a rainstorm which floods Bugs Bunny out of his hole while he's sleeping.
    • Daffy Duck finds a gold rock in the desert in "Aqua Duck," but he's also dying of thirst. A desert rat offers to sell Daffy a glass of water for the gold, and towards the end he gives in. Just as Daffy is about to take a drink, it rains hard enough to flood right up to his neck.
    Daffy: One thing you gotta admit. When I buy water, I sure get my money's worth!
  • The Powerpuff Girls: "The Powerpuff Girls' Best Rainy Day Adventure Ever" has pretty much all of Townsville grind to a halt due to a heavy rainstorm. Even the villains and criminals don't want to be out in the rain, so the girls are stuck inside with no crime to fight. They end up having to use their imaginations to pass the time.
  • Total Drama: It rarely rains in the series and when it does, it comes down heavily at the worst possible time.
    • The Screaming Gophers are chased into a tree and the Killer Bass lose their tent while out camping in the woods in "The Sucky Outdoors". Inevitably, the night goes from bad to worse when it starts raining with a vengeance.
    • In "Hurl and Go Seek", the contestants are tasked with playing hide and seek in the woods at night after drinking a questionable drink far past its expiration date. Nearly all of them grow weak and delirious from food poisoning and then a storm rolls in.
  • Xiaolin Showdown Clay quoted this in an episode where the Cyclops drooled on his hat big time.

    Truth In Television 
  • There are many places in real life where it's liable to rain like this (anywhere in the Southeastern U.S. or the center of South America for instance). Cue Dramatic Thunder and you'd better rush to the nearest porch or building. And, if it's in the tropics, stay there overnight. On the other hand, the Pacific Northwest and Britain are known primarily as places where it rains, but it's usually just a steady drizzle. However, both have been noted to seeing several days straight of nothing but a heavy downpour.
  • Danish summer is also infamous for this, given that July and August are in the top 3 of rainiest months, but also in the top of 3 of sunniest months. This means that on a given Danish summer day, you'll most likely either see the sun shining brightly from a clear sky or experience a downpour so bad that it's nigh-impossible to be outside. Cloudy days with light drizzles mostly occur in fall and spring.


Video Example(s):


Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!

Do badly on the third part of "Neraiuchi", and Cleopatra will drown her stranded slaves!

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Main / WhenItRainsItPours

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