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The ultimate in inconsequential, neutral talk: the subject matter is the weather. Usually fictionally to evade a more serious topic -- out of dislike for it or because they might be overheard -- or to depict characters as not knowing each other, or having nothing to say. May indicate a Ban on Politics. Those who Cannot Spit It Out often talk about the weather instead.
Talking about the weather can turn deadly serious if the characters are meteorologists, pilots, sailors, trapped outdoors, or in a disaster movie with a weather theme. The character who Hates Small Talk will react vehemently.
See also Seinfeldian Conversation.
Jim Braddock: Joe, did you come all this way just to talk about the weather?
- Trail of Kit Carson
Bill Harmon: Take your time, Mr. Benton. There's been a lot of weather for your daughter and me to talk about.
- Groundhog Day: Mrs. Lancaster tries to make small talk with Phil by talking about the weather -- unfortunately, he's pissed off and he's a weatherman.
Mrs. Lancaster: There's talk of a blizzard.
- Used in The Naked Jungle. After several minutes of very awkward, one-sided conversation, there is a prolonged silence and then:
Joanna: "Everything I say seems to make things worse. I'm trying not to irritate you."
- In Diana Wynne Jones's Castle in the Air, one princess complains that a disadvantage of the castle is you can't talk about the weather.
- In The Mouse That Roared, the Grand Duchess discovers she can't even talk about the weather, since different parts of the duchy want different weather.
- Harry Potter
- In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, whenever Quirell is questioned on the subject of his turban, he goes pink and starts talking about the weather. Hagrid also does this whenever touchy subjects are evoked, when he doesn't go mysteriously deaf.
- In Order of the Phoenix, Harry is dismayed to find himself talking about the weather while trying to flirt with Cho.
- In The Last Knight, Fisk comments that different classes of people have different kinds of small talk--nobles talk about horses, townsfolk talk about taxes, and farmers talk about the weather.
- In Spider Robinson's Stardance, when Charlie Armstead asked how Raoul Brindle had managed to see the previously unreleased videos of the Stardance, rather than tell the truth or flat-out lie, Raoul answered, "Large weather we're having."
- Dave Barry likes to use "We had some rain today, but it turned to sleet" as an unfunny line which gets inexplicable laughs.
- In Maskerade at a dinner at the Opera House the diners talk about the cold weather to try and counteract the effects of Nanny Ogg's aphrodisiac chocolate pudding.
Mr Salzella: Wind, glaciers, icicles -
- One of the men in The Importance of Being Earnest tries this and is promptly called on it.
- Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility: Marianne complains about being expected to make small talk.
I have erred against every common-place notion of decorum; I have been open and sincere where I ought to have been reserved, spiritless, dull, and deceitful -- had I talked only of the weather and the roads, and had I spoken only once in ten minutes, this reproach would have been spared.
- In Jasper Fforde's Lost In A Good Book, the spectators at the trial in The Trial talk about the weather as well as about her case.
- In Moose County in Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who series, it is generally customary to spend a minute or two talking about the weather before moving on to more serious subjects. This is just considered simple politeness, even with two people who know each other quite well.
- In Rick Riordan's The Throne of Fire, with Sadie and Walt in the desert, she starts the conversation with "Lovely weather."
- In PG Wodehouse's Hot Water Blair Eggleston's timidity with women is such that face with an incense-filled studio holding a scantily clad princess lolling on a tiger skin, he would take the seat nearest the door and talk about the weather.
Live Action TV
- In Frasier episode "Boo!", Martin has had a heart attack, and doesn't want Ronee to know. Ronee Lampshades that she hates small talk with her elderly mother - which prompts Martin to engage in it himself, trying to avoid the subject of his "cardiac event".
Martin: No. So, uh, good weather over there in Spokane?
- Lampshaded on Gilmore Girls after an awkward post-breakup conversation:
Lorelai: Yeah, it was just awkward, and neither of us knew how to act.
- Babylon 5: Used as a code for a much more serious matter in "Z'ha'dum":
Sheridan: Good. And when I see you next, if everything is set ... we'll talk about the weather.
- On The Young Ones, Vyvyan resorts to this trope when he borrows yet another cup of sugar from the same neighbor he's been borrowing them from all morning.
Vyvyan: Well, if you like snow and being really cold, it's a nice day.
- Great Big Sea's "How Did We Get From Saying I Love You" is about two people whose relationship has devolved into awkward pauses and discussions about the weather.
- REM's "Pop Song 89", a song mocking pop music's banality, has the following chorus: Should we talk about the weather?/Should we talk about the government?
- Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever Amen" has as part of the chorus: "As long as old men sit and talk about the weather/As long as old women sit and talk about old men."
- Erasure's "Chains Of Love" bemoans the loss of this as people became more impersonal in general:
Do you remember? There was a time
- Tears for Fears's "Head Over Heels".
I wanted to be with you alone
- In a Casting Crowns song, the singer speaks of "talkin' bout the rain" instead of witnessing to his friend, which he knows he should be doing.
- "So Much to Say" by Dave Matthews Band, describing suppressing emotional depth under meaningless smalltalk.
Keep it locked up inside, don't talk about it
- My Fair Lady: When Eliza went to Ascot, Professor Higgins instructed her to stick to the weather as one of her topics of discussion. The vocal exercises Higgins gives her just happen to be about the weather - which makes for some awkward moments with the Ascot crowd, but that's by far the least awkward part of the particular conversation. Freddie even compliments her on being so 'awfully clever', particularly when Higgins explains it away as 'the new small talk'.
- The Arcadians: Two love birds get very close to declaring their feelings for one another when a crowd of strangers comes along. Of course, one cannot discuss emotions in public, so they are forced to discuss the 'Charming Weather'. Twice.
- In Carousel, Julie and Carrie, friends as young women, are meeting again for some gossip. Carrie is in the middle of telling a racy story about something she saw while on a visit to Paris -- but then Julie's own daughter enters the room, causing Carrie to invoke this Trope mid-sentence:
Carrie: And the chorus girl had her legs up on the chair and...[Julie's daughter enters]...and it rained all day.
- In Prickly City, when Carmen is upset about having told Blatant Lies, and Winslow doesn't want to talk about it.
- Dilbert: Dogbert teaching social skills to engineers. After going over the rules ("Loud, Simple, Smiley"):
Wally: HEY, HOW ABOUT THAT LOW-PRESSURE SYSTEM, HUH?
- Gilbert and Sullivan
- In Rune Factory 3, the first time that you greet a character each day often brings about a comment about the weather, which varies depending on the person you're talking to and how the weather affects their day-to-day activities and work.
- You can overhear several conversations in Batman: Arkham City about the weather. Considering its the middle of a snowstorm in a Gotham winter, and the speakers are typically pulling outdoor guard duty, it fits.
- Wapsi Square: Darren thinks you can get to know people this way.
- Faux Pas: Randy is trying to teach Cindy to understand human. Unfortunately, he's very innocent, while all the humans seem to talk about is sex.
- Voltron: Defender of the Universe: My Brother Is a Robeast
Pidge: I don't know what to talk about, how 'bout sports or the weather?
- The Fairly Odd Parents: Abra Catastrophe!
Cosmo: I'm terrible at small talk! Ask me about the weather!
- In their first meeting in Hey Arnold, this is how child psychologist Dr. Bliss lures Helga into talking to her.
Dr. Bliss: "We can keep it light. We can talk about the weather or sports, or your classmates. We can talk about... Arnold."
- Phineas and Ferb managed to take even this trope up to eleven. When the boys are hit by Doof's Dull-And-Boring-Inator in "Phineas and Ferb Interrupted", Phineas goes on a minute long spiel about yes, how the weather is nice, although barometric readings would suggest otherwise. Did you know barometers have two scales? Of course, now you can simply look up the weather on the internet, but then you wouldn't be able to calculate where the sun is in the meridian and...
- Real life actually tends to subvert this during heat strokes, torrential downpours, large hail etc. when the weather actually becomes a very relevant and pressing topic.
- Some British folk are a permanent example of this. Many foreign and native observers have tried to rationalise their apparent obsession with the weather. It's true that that Britain itself is in a temperate climate with an active gulf stream leading to very changeable weather, but there's also a general preference not to discuss personal matters or controversial ones ("religion or politics") with strangers, which doesn't leave you with many options.
- Also the defacto icebreaker in Brittany, the region of France South of Britain. For similar reasons: the weather tends to change three times a day, so it's really something worth keeping track of.
- The first essay in David Foster Wallace's A Supposedly Fun Thing Ill Never Do Again tells much of the man's life story by relating it back to the horrible wind where he grew up. It's often a circuitous sort of connection, but he manages somehow.
- In Japan, it's customary that, if you have an important matter to discuss with a boss or co-worker, one should first talk about something trivial before going into more serious matters. Weather is often the topic.
- A persistent stereotype about Winnepeg, Manitoba is that two Winnepeggers, no matter where in the world they meet, or how long it's been since either has been back home, will inevitably ask one another what the weather was like in Manitoba when they left.
- ↑ And then complain about how cold it was