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Sherlock Holmes: There's an east wind coming, Watson.

Dr. Watson: I think not, Holmes. It is very warm.

Sherlock Holmes: Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There's an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.

Something about the weather lends itself well to Ominous Foreshadowing. Whenever trouble looms in the near future, any suitably perceptive character can play narrative weatherman and give a plot forecast -- which, unlike a normal weather forecast, is 100-percent guaranteed to be true. If a storm isn't coming, then perhaps a cold wind is about to blow, or winter is setting in... all that matters is that the characters and audience are well-informed that The Plot is on its way.

Weather Dissonance may reinforce that.

Often contains Dramatic Thunder far off in the distance, or directly overhead. Can lead into Battle in the Rain, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, or Lightning Reveal, or any combination.

Invoked metaphorically for all kinds of trouble.

Contrast Gray Rain of Depression, which generally indicates muteness and lack of activity -- and generally does not come with thunder or wind. Not to be confused with Grave Clouds.

Related to My Significance Sense Is Tingling and Empathic Environment, except that the ominous portent occurs before any disastrous event. Differs from Spider Sense in that it isn't a warning of immediate danger. Not quite Tempting Fate, but you'd be forgiven for making that mistake. See also Ominous Fog.

Almost always a Portent of Doom.

Contrast Thunder Equals Downpour, where there is no build-up.

When the ominous signs are less meteorological and even more non-specific, see Vagueness Is Coming.

When the storm is the threat that is coming, see Hostile Weather.

Examples of A Storm Is Coming include:


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Anime & Manga

  • The Loguetown arc in One Piece. Luffy is being pursued by three separate malevolent forces and everyone comments on the storm coming. A bit subverted as the storm turns out to be the very thing that helps Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates escape.
  • Played arrow-straight in Seto no Hanayome. As the war between Sun and Lunar heats up, the weather starts getting cloudier and windier, and Saru -- decked up in a sage outfit -- begins predicting that... take a guess... "A storm is coming." As the singing battle reaches its conclusion and Nagasumi gets his Theme Music Power-Up, Saru -- standing on top of the roof in gusting wind -- dramatically screams "The storm... HAS ARRIVED!", just as the asskicking begins. To cap it all off, when the battle is over, the wind dies down and the sun breaks through the clouds.
  • Jubei Kibegami starts off Ninja Scroll saying this and running for shelter.
  • Also used in the Fatal Fury movie by Terry Bogard in the first few minutes.
  • Taken to ridiculous extremes in the anime adaptation of Sengoku Basara, where Big Bad Oda Nobunaga is apparently incapable of going anywhere without being followed by ominous storm clouds and foreboding German chanting.
  • Amasawa, the self-proclaimed weather "fairy" from The Weatherman Is My Lover, can literally sense when A Storm Is Coming. Dramatically this is used when he fails to convince his parents a typhoon is coming and that they shouldn't go on their trip, which results in their death.
  • In Gosick Kujo's arrival during a period of peace was in the spring. As the year progressed events accelerated until war broke out in the winter. The war then ended with the coming of spring.
    • Many characters often referred to the past and coming wars as storms or winds.
  • In Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, inverted: Ponyo's appearance is taken as a harbinger of a tsunami, and actually brings about a near-apocalyptic storm and flood.
  • In Castle in The Sky, while on the Kiteglider, Pazu points out an approaching storm incredibly casually...

 Pazu: Storm ahead.

    • ...before getting ambushed by Goliath.
    • Played much more dramatically with the Thunderhead hurricane that contains Laputa.


Comics

  • In the Sin City story "The Big Fat Kill", Dwight comments on an approaching storm in Private Eye Monologue style: "The night's gotten just about as hot as it's going to get. There's a wild crackle in the air. The wind's got a crazy edge to it. There's a storm coming." This foreshadows things going right straight to hell when the girls of Old Town kill an abusive scumbag named Jackie-Boy who turns out to have been a hero cop.
  • In Frank Miller's earlier work Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the turning point in the first volume is heralded by the TV weather man saying that the heatwave was about to be broken by an incoming storm. A few pages later, he comments the storm is "like the wrath of God; it's headed for Gotham..." Sure enough, the storm becomes secondary, for Batman is back.
  • "Why the red skies?"
  • John Constantine said once "I'm kind of a tempest magnet" (not the exact quote, is a translation from the Spanish edition).
  • During Jack Kirby's run on New Gods, someone warns Darkseid about an oncoming storm. Darkseid answers, "I am the storm!"
  • The tenth chapter of Watchmen ends with the lines from All Along The Watchtower quoted above - immediately presaging the final confrontation between Ozymandias and the other characters in the concluding two chapters.


Fanfiction

  • In the Firefly/Doctor Who crossover fanfic The Man with No Name, this is the last thing River says in chapter one, almost by trope name. The joke here being that in the new series the Doctor is kind of a bogeyman to lots of baddies, especially the Daleks, and one of the more frequently heard of the names they have for him is The Oncoming Storm. Though the audience, the Doctor, and River herself get what she's saying (more or less), the rest of Serenity's crew had a slightly different take on it.
  • Inverted in A Dark Knight Over Sin City. The weather gradually goes from a snowstorm, to a rainstorm, and eventually clears up on an extremely hot day when it comes time for the climax.


Films -- Live Action

 River: Storm's coming.

Mal: We'll pass through it soon enough.

 Servo: Man, it sounds pretty bad... wait a minute, it's beautiful out there!

  • Subverted in Sherlock Holmes (2009). The storm is coming line is AFTER the finale, and everything being resolved... Unless it was about Moriarty!
  • In The Gift, the dead grandmother of Cate Blanchett's character visits her to tell her this.
  • One of the central reccuring symbols in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the gradual approach of Hurricane Katrina towards New Orleans in the Daisy and Caroline storyline, as the characters discuss whether or not the storm will make landfall in Louisiana (spoiler alert: it does). Also briefly invoked in Benjamin's storyline by the old man who gets struck by lightning, after his speech about why he's grateful to be alive.
  • At the beginning of Shutter Island, the captain of the boat bringing the Marshals to the island says this.
  • Mary Poppins uses this at the beginning to indicate trouble in the Banks family, and at the end to indicate that all is well, now.
  • As in the Literature example below, the made-for-TV film of The Stand has this, in the words of Mother Abagail - "There's a storm comin'. His storm."
  • Gandalfs utters a variation of this line in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King when he and Pippin stand on the ramparts of Minas Tirith, watching dark clouds coming towards them in the distance. They are invoked by Sauron to make the march easier for his daylight-hating troops.

The narrator of Moonrise Kingdom tells us to the minute when the storm is going to come.


Literature

  • Used rather prominently in Neil Gaiman's American Gods; to the point of being Arc Words.
  • Every The Wheel of Time book opens with a description of a wind rising, which is "not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning."
    • A separate instance in A Crown of Swords lampshades this:

 And for some reason, men and women who told the tales often found a need to add almost identical words. The storm is coming, they said, staring southward in worry. The storm is coming.

    • Further, when the literally weather-sensing Nynaeve warns that she senses an explicitly metaphorical storm coming, the other Aes Sedai laugh at her. Then they get enslaved.
    • For bonus points, the first volume of the final book is titled The Gathering Storm. Which is aptly named, as the storm finally comes in a literal sense: a cover of black-and-silver stormclouds that eventually cover, apparently, the whole world.
    • To put the above quote from A Crown of Swords in context: Over the course of two chapters Nynaeve repeatedly claims a storm is coming, "and it's not this wind." Eventually Mat finds himself repeating the warning but doesn't know why. A few minutes later he witnesses the Seanchan launch a massive attack on Ebou Dar, and realizes this is the beginning of their attempt to recolonize the continent. Then a building falls on him (he gets better). End that plotline for the remainder of the book. The above quote is the end of the last chapter. Ebou Dar lies to the south.
    • There are more:

 When the winds of Tarmon Gai'don scour the earth, he will face the Shadow and bring forth Light again in the world.

    • And this:

 With his coming are the dread fires born again. The hills burn, and the land turns sere. The tides of men run out, and the hours dwindle. The wall is pierced, and the veil of parting raised. Storms rumble beyond the horizon, and the fires of heaven purge the earth. There is no salvation without destruction, no hope this side of death.

  • A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury. The same phrase used for the title would be used a few times to foreshadow the danger within the story.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has the motto of House Stark: "Winter is coming." It is also played straight in the title of third book, A Storm of Swords, where the predicted storm actually does arrive.
  • In The Dark Is Rising sequence, a character comments to Will the night before he comes into his power: "This night will be bad. And tomorrow will be beyond imagining."
  • The Dresden Files uses it in Dead Beat:

 The vendor snorted and tapped his nose. "I lived around this old lake all my life. There's a storm coming."

Boy was there. In spades.
    • And played with in Small Favor: A massive, early snowstorm is pretty much shutting down Chicago as the book starts. It turns out the storm is courtesy of Queen Mab, who sent it out to protect Harry from the emissaries of Summer. But, of course, it also means trouble for the heroes, especially when they end up soaking wet and have to walk around in it.
  • In JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, when Gandalf came bearing news of Saruman's plans to the Rohirrim. Wormtongue mocks him by calling him a "stormcrow". Also used in The Return of the King, where Sauron sends out storm clouds to shield his army from the sun.
  • Stephen King's Needful Things starts it right off with the prologue: "There's a storm on the way."
  • Played with in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Jingo: when Vimes reflects on the (still remote) possibility of war with Klatch, Sergeant Detritus comments that even he can tell which way the wind is blowing. Vimes is quite impressed, until Detritus explains that all you have to do is watch the weathercocks. "Beats me how dey know." He then double-subverts the trope when he notes that it feels like an old troll word that roughly translates to, "When you see the pebbles start rolling and you just know that there's a rockslide coming, but you can't do anything about it."
    • Later in the same book, a Klatchian immigrant prepares to return to his homeland because he can tell which way the wind is blowing. Carrot (not as thick as Detritus, but just as literal) says it's blowing from Klatch, to which Goriff replies, "Maybe for you."
    • And in Night Watch, where in the opening of the first act, several characters note an approaching storm. And when Vimes heads onto the roof of the UU library to take down a particularly nasty pyschopath, the storm rages overhead. At first it merely seems to be for dramatic effect, until the weather spazzes out and sends Vimes and Carcer 30 years into the past. Well... They were on the roof of the library -- of the Unseen University.
      • It should be noted that this storm is caused by Jeremy Clockson building his glass clock in the previous book (Thief of Time and Night Watch take place at the same "time", until Vimes gets, well...).
  • The first chapter in the novel Insurrection (by David Weber and Steve White) is titled "Gale Warning", after the code-phrase used by some characters to warn of an impending political offensive by another faction within the government.
  • Lee Child's novel Echo Burning has several characters mention to the protagonist that a big storm is coming. It finally does during the big fight at the end.
  • It's not spoken by a character, but the first line of Eragon reads: "Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world."
  • "It was a dark and stormy night..."
  • Watership Down contains quite a few chapter titles describing the coming storm in the build-up to the escape from Efrafa. It's also mentioned, repeatedly, that rabbits don't like thunder, and it creates tension in them.
  • Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes opens with a lightning rod salesman warning of the coming storm.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40000 Horus Heresy novel The Flight of the Eisenstein, Garro thinks of the unknown problems as a storm -- on a spaceship.

 He forced away the chill impression of storm clouds and building threat, the sense of vast and silent machinications thundering unseen above him.

 "Whence came Natohk?" rose the Shemite's vibrant whisper. "Out of the desert on a night when the world was blind and wild with mad clouds driven in frenzied flight across the shuddering stars, and the howling of the wind was mingled with the shrieking of the spirits of the wastes."

  • In the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None, a storm begins to brew as the situation on the island becomes more dire.
  • From The Stormlight Archive "The Everstorm comes, the True Desolation, the Night of Sorrows." a warming given to Dalinar by The Almighty, this world has massive storms across the entire landmass every few days, it's noted by some of the characters that they are getting worse.
  • The final battles of David Eddings' Troperiffic-by-design Belgariad pentalogy and its sequel series The Malloreon each occur in the middle of raging thunderstorms. Deadpan Snarker Dirk, who was present for both, notices the clouds gathering at the end of Malloreon and wonders aloud why these epic confrontations can't happen on nice days.
  • Happens a few times in Warrior Cats with rain:
    • In the prologue of Dark River, cats feel that rain is coming. Fallen Leaves then goes to the tunnels to take his test, and lies to the guardian of the tunnels that there are no signs of rain. Turns out there is an underground river there, that floods the tunnels during rain.
    • In Bluestar's Prophecy, Featherwhisker forecasts rain for a few days, and it starts raining just before the battle with WindClan.
  • In Michael Flynn's The January Dancer, January gets his crew to abandon the alien treasure trove by pointing out that a storm is coming, because of the static on the comms.


Live Action TV

  • Sci Fi Channel's miniseries Tin Man.
  • Heroes: Bob Bishop says this to Mohinder Suresh in season 2. Oddly enough, the "storm" doesn't become important until Adam Monroe tries to release the modified Shanti virus. He succeeds in the deleted ending.
  • Supernatural: Usually included in the "Previously On..." opening credits. "Storm's a-coming. And you boys, your daddy -- you are smack in the middle of it."
    • The line itself is from the episode Devil's Trap, the first season finale.
  • Dexter, in the episode "Return to Sender": Dexter watches his police officer co-workers close in on him as the murderer of a woman found dead in a motorhome, and anticipates them finding out that he, is fact, a prolific serial killer. He imagines his father inviting him into a doorway with a "Better get inside, son. Storm's on its way." He looks behind him to see a mass of clouds rolling towards him, and puts his hand out to feel the rain. His hand is covered in blood.
  • In Sci Fi Channel's re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, at the end of season 3 (Crossroads, Part 1), the character Helo mutters, "A storm is coming." A somewhat subverted use, though, since there's no actual weather as they're in space.
    • He did preceed this comment by talking about how you could always tell the weather was going to change back on Caprica.
      • Season 3 DVDs are decorated with a thunderstorm imagery.
    • Athena has her own somewhat modified version of this in the second season finale: "Something dark is coming."
      • From a meta-perspective, this makes sense: At the end of the episode, we see what the "darkness" is. But from a series perspective, that particular event does not happen till one year later, making it a possible subversion.
  • Parodied in Spaced, where Mike quotes the "storm's coming" line from The Terminator. The "storm" in question turns out to be all three of Tim's greatest fears -- lighting, dogs and bamboo.
  • Babylon 5 has a suitably ominous comment by Kosh on the subject of Narn/Centauri relations (or possibly not... This is Kosh, aka the Anthropomorphic Personification of Cryptic Conversations we're talking about here...) during the second season:

 Emperor Turhan: How will this end?

Kosh: In fire.

    • True enough, the episode ends with the outbreak of a second Narn/Centauri war... Followed shortly by the start of the Shadow War.
    • Another, more explicit Babylon 5 example occurred in the episode "The Geometry of Shadows", when Elric the Technomage is speaking to Captain Sheridan in the Zocalo (complete with eerie music):

 Elric: There is a storm coming, a black and terrible storm.

    • Yet another Koshism:

 Kosh: The avalanche has already started. It is too late for the pebbles to vote.

      • The latter was possibly a reference to the events of the Pilot Episode. Possibly. [1]
  • Near the end of the The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Dungeons And Dragons", Sarah's old fiance Charley, steps onto the Connor's porch after saving Derek Reese's life, has a conversation with Sarah, then notes, "Looks like a storm's coming."
  • The West Wing had a storm coming in "The Two Cathedrals." The President was complaining about a hurricane coming up the East Coast so early in the season. He seemed to think God was picking on him, leading to his Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Doctor Who; In "Fear Her", the Doctor and Rose randomly stopped to point at a coming storm at the end, in clear foreshadowing to the events of next episodes "Army of Ghosts" and "Doomsday"; but later it was noted that the storm they were foreshadowing had technically occurred several years previously thanks to the Timey-Wimey Ball.
    • And of course, in the ancient language of the Daleks, the Doctor is known as "The Oncoming Storm".
  • In the Lost finale, a storm is gathering just as Jack prepares to face the Man in Black. Richard, who doesn't even know the confrontation is imminent, comments, "It's gonna be a hell of a storm."
  • The Stand (1994 miniseries): "A storm is coming. ...His storm!" She also tells them that "The rats are in the corn."
  • On All My Children, a tornado struck Pine Valley as numerous storylines came to a climax.
  • Abed points this out during his arrival at the party in Community episode "Introduction to Statistics".
  • In the Dollhouse episode "Belonging", Echo uses this metaphor to warn of an impending disaster (that the world will spiral into the chaos seen in the "Epitaph" episodes.) Boyd overhears her, and later gives her an all-access keycard with a note reading, "For the storm."

  Echo: Something bad is coming. Like a storm. And I want everyone to survive it.


Music

  • Bob Dylan's anthemic "Blowin' in the Wind", as well as "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" off the same album.
    • and "It don't take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" from "Subterranean Homesick Blues".
    • "All Along the Watchtower" is an ominous song in itself, but it really kicks in at "And the wind began to howl", especially in the Jimi Hendrix and Battlestar Galactica versions, and in its use in Watchmen.
  • "Storm Coming" by Gnarls Barkley is basically this trope in a three-minute song.
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival had three; "Bad Moon Rising", "Have You Ever Seen the Rain", and "Who'll Stop the Rain?"
  • Tom Waits' song "Earth Died Screaming" has a fair amount of this, as well.
  • Inverted in Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sun Is Burning", which is about an absolutely beautiful day, and just how that day stops being beautiful.
  • Rush's "Force Ten" plays around with this. Its title even came from the Beaufort Scale according to Neil Peart.
  • Blind Guardian songs often use this trope, e.g. in "Into the Storm," "Mirror Mirror," and "And Then There Was Silence".
  • "Degausser" by Brand New. Right before the big loud chorus of pure anguish and despair!!!
  • "Winter of Souls" by Demons and Wizards starts with the narrator saying he's "facing the storm".
  • "Red Rain" by Peter Gabriel.
  • "Storm to Pass" by Atreyu.
  • "Look Out Cleveland" by The Band.
  • "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones.
  • Phil Collins tries to summon this in the song 'I Wish It Would Rain Down'.
  • Billy Joel had the title track of the 'Storm Front' album. (And the first time I'd heard of the Beaufort scale mentioned earlier!)
  • Jethro Tull's album "Stormwatch" is this trope turned up to eleven. Of course, it was written back when car exhaust & aerosol cans were going to trigger a new ice age...
  • Leslie Fish's "Teacher, Teacher", from her album Firestorm: Songs of the Third World War, ends with the lines,

 Teacher guarding the dwindling flame,

How many of your kids have beaten the game?

The wind is rising and the night's falling fast --

Will you run save yourself, or fight to the last?


Tabletop Games

  • In the West End Game TORG, Earth is invaded by a coalition of armies from various cosms with the capability to bring their own differing natural laws (read: genre conventions) into the territory they occupied. The borders between two reality zones were marked by "reality storms", leading to one of the game's slogans: "The Storm Has a Name."


Theater

  • Older Than Steam: Shakespeare's Macbeth both plays this straight and subverts it. Act I features Macbeth commenting, "So foul and fair a day I have not seen," mirroring the comments of three witches making sinister plans. King Duncan later subverts this, cheerfully commenting on the pleasant weather the day he's scheduled to be murdered.
  • Another Shakespeare variation; in Henry V, Exeter warns the French dauphin of the coming war:

 Therefore in fierce tempest is he coming,

In thunder and in earthquake, like a Jove,

That, if requiring fail, he will compel.

  • In Wicked, when deciding how to deal with Elphaba, Mrs. Morrible decides, "It's time for a change in the weather. She then summons the twister that drops a house on Nessarosa and brings Dorothy to Oz.


Video Games

  • Damas in Jak III: "I sense a storm coming"
  • The first time the party meets Janus in Chrono Trigger, he tells them that the black wind is howling... and interprets it to mean that one of them will die soon. He turns out to be Magus as a child, and even as an adult, he recognizes the black wind as a premonition.
    • He interprets it correctly, Crono does die, but you can use time travel to make his death un-happen.
    • Also note that the "black wind" he hears is the sound you hear while time travelling.
  • Cairne Bloodhoof of Warcraft III has this as one of his possible responses when you select him as a unit in gameplay.
    • As if he needed something to make him more ominous than simply being named "Cairne Bloodhoof".
    • Well, there IS a storm coming. A big one. Others, namely the old Guardian who got better equate the event the player puts forth at the end of the second campaign to a storm.
  • In City of Villains, the time-traveling authority of Ouroboros seems to exist to avert "The Coming Storm". Nobody is willing to tell you what this storm actually is.
  • In Devil May Cry 3, Arkham states the Trope word for word as he walks off to deal with Lady at the beginning of Chapter 4.
  • Used nearly word for word in Frontlines: Fuel of War. "We always knew. It's 2024, The storm is coming."
  • Eternal Darkness: "A storm approaches, Pious. A storm of metal and fire." Used to presage the chapter set during the First Gulf War.
  • Averted with a Lampshade Hanging in Skies of Arcadia - As the party and their allies leave for the final battle with Galcian's fleet, Gilder notes, "The skies are clear, and the wind is behind us. Considering we're about to enter a battle over the fate of the world, the weather is pretty good."
  • URU Live has Yeesha: "A storm is coming. He is coming. And I will come as well. Destruction is coming. Find a way. Make a home."
    • This is a follow-on from her line in Uru Prime, "Once again, the stream in the Cleft has begun to flow. It was dry for so long. Water is flowing in from the desert. A storm is coming."
  • Used in In Famous 2, specifically for the second to the last level.
  • In Mass Effect, if you ask Wrex why he wants to join you, he says: "There's a storm coming, and you and Saren are right in the middle of it."
    • Though note that he isn't saying this out of trepidation, but out of excitement.
  • Justified in the first episode of Tales of Monkey Island.
  • Final Fantasy VI has an ominous storm, complete with Dramatic Thunder, panning into the title screen. In other words, the whole game is bad news.
  • Justified in the Halo: Reach trailer, since the lightning shown at the end comes from a Covenant plasma flare.
    • While the trailer has the circumstances "compressed" a bit for exposition's sake, the full game reflects this during the later levels, where the weather is increasingly stormy. Again justified, as the Covenant's plasma bombardment heats the atmosphere, causing rolling pressure waves and thunderstorms to break out. Some of the ice caps are even melted, causing rising floods and other climatic disturbances as more water is forced into the atmosphere.


Web Comics


Web Original


Western Animation

 Megatron: There is a storm approaching. A storm of such power, such magnitude... it is beyond imagination.

 Yoda: Mmm. Darker, the coming storm grows. I fear the dark cloud of the Sith shrouds us all.

  • The animated TV show Clone High has an entire episode that continuously references an oncoming storm to highlight mounting tensions between two main characters. Joan of Arc's foster grandfather Toots Lampshades this by saying "Storm's a-brewin. Metaphorically, too."
  • Happens in the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Storm". In this case, it's an unusual variant, where the metaphorical storm is a war that has already been going on for about 100 years. The literal storm in the episode isn't particularly important to the larger plot, but it brings up memories of Aang's past before the war started when the Air Nomads rushed his revelation as the Avatar because of the Fire Nation's escalating aggression (they could see the symbolic storm-clouds gathering). As a result, the young Aang was overwhelmed by the responsibility and ran away (getting caught in yet another literal storm) and ended up frozen for the next century. Of all the storms in this episode, only the one where Aang ended up frozen fits the traditional use of the trope.


Real Life

Notes

  1. The conversation was about how Kosh would hypothetically feel about having an unwanted medical procedure, which was exactly what Kosh underwent in the pilot. Hence, "It already happened; my feelings about it are irrelevant."
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