Cue the Rain
The standard way for things to go From Bad to Worse is rain. When things are looking real bad for a character, the story will add insult to injury with a perfectly-timed downpour.
Rock Bottom often precedes this trope. While this trope can easily occur with no spoken dialogue at all, if a character is foolish enough to actually say "At least It Can't Get Any Worse," or, even more dangerous, "At least it's not raining"... BOOM! It'll start raining immediately and (because When It Rains, It Pours) heavily.
This is a type of Empathic Environment—the dark and gloomy rainclouds are great for symbolically mirroring the character's hopelessness and despair; see Gray Rain of Depression, a Super-Trope. It's almost always Hostile Weather as well. Subtrope of From Bad to Worse, and frequently follows Rock Bottom. The inverse is Cue the Sun, where the dark skies clear up when things start to get better. Contrast Happy Rain and Redemption in the Rain.
Snow, hail, and other forms of precipitation count too, but rain is much more common.
- In The Road to El Dorado, when Miguel and Tulio are marooned at sea in a rowboat with no food or water, Miguel and Tulio have this exchange:
Miguel: At least things can't get any--
[It starts to rain]
Tulio: Excuse me, were you about to say "worse"?
- Played straight in Disney's Tarzan:
Jane: It can't get any worse, can it?
Thunder clashes, rain begins.
Jane: Obviously, it can.
- In An American Tail, as Fievel, all alone, curls up in Orphan Alley to cry, it starts to rain.
- In The Emperors New Groove, llama!Kuzco gets hit by a sudden downpour when he's alone and abandoned in the jungle.
- A classic example from Young Frankenstein:
- In Back to The Future Part 2, it starts raining soon after lightning strikes the time machine and Marty is left stranded in the past again. Justified Trope in that this is the same storm that played a role in sending Marty back to the future in the first film, and there were all sorts of signs of a storm brewing the whole time anyway.
- Happens in a scene of the French comedy Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'tis. In France, the northern regions are caricatured as cold and ugly; the main character of this film is transferred there as a sanction for trying to fake a handicap for a job. He prepares for hell, and just as he crosses the sign of the dreaded region, well, this happens.
- In Sanford and Son the pair have a disastrous camping trip and Lamont notes that it could be worse. When his father asks how, Lamont notes "It could snow." Sure enough, it instantly starts snowing right there and then.
- Turned up an extra notch in That's So Raven: Raven got stuck in a limo's moon roof when going to prom. Then it started raining on her. "Well at least it can't get any worse"...cue the gale force winds.
- Inverted in The West Wing, where rain was seen as a good thing that needed to happen in a string of good things happening—it turned away late voters who would have voted for the other guy, and the rain was literally called on cue by Will (with a lampshade with a "I didn't know I could do that"). It would have been played straight if it was from other guy's POV.
- Also inverted in How I Met Your Mother, where Ted calls down a deluge in a massive thunderclap by screaming "COME ON!!" at the heavens after doing a desperate Rain Dance all afternoon. However, it played this trope straight for Sandy Rivers, who was going to get laid on a planned camping trip that was canceled by the rain. In fact, Sandy is seen crying while he reports on the downpour on TV.
- The Russian punk rock band Sektor Gaza has a song Tuman ("Fog") with lyrics that literally translate as: "We're getting the jitters/ The rain started suddenly /The stiff, pouring rain will finally kill us..."
- In one strip:
Garfield: Here I am, stuck up a tree. Things couldn't be worse.
Garfield: Okay, okay, now things couldn't be worse.
- In another strip, when Jon and Garfield are at a picnic:
Jon: Well, Garfield, the ants ate my cherry pie. The wind blew the food everywhere.
Garfield: Don't say it! Don't say it!
Jon: What else could possibly go wrong? (starts raining)
Garfield: You said it!
- Calvin and Hobbes: A camping trip that no one but Calvin's dad is looking forward too and it starts raining upon arrival. Calvin's dad Comically Misses The Point.
Calvin's dad: At least it's not snowing! Right? Right? (Later, as they sit in the rain eating cold ravioli out of cans.) I mean, say it was snowing so hard we couldn't make a fire.
- Naturally, the rain stops the exact moment they decide to leave.
- Company, "Getting Married Today," after the second verse of Amy's nervous breakdown:
Bless this bride,
Slipping down the drain,
And bless this day in our hearts (thunder)
As it starts to rain.
- The Simpsons:
- Subverted in an episode where the Simpsons lose their house. Tossed out unto the street, Homer says, "Well, it could be worse. At least it's not raining." (Beat) "See? Told you it could be worse."
- In another episode, Mr. Burns is telling the story of how he went to jail. As Smithers leaves, Burns notes that this the point in a story where it would start raining, and decides that, since he's telling the story, it did rain. Then he decides that rain wasn't depressing enough, so he has it snow instead, capping it off with Smithers losing his nose to frostbite.
- In the Family Guy episode "Brian Writes a Bestseller", Stewie is stuck without a ride and without cab fare. He says, "Well, at least it's not raining." Promptly Subverted when a man runs up, stabs him, and leaves him for dead.
- Spike gets a dose of it in the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Owl's Well That Ends Well":
Spike: Twilight hates me. I'm cold and hungry; tired and lonely; could it get any worse? (Cue the rain.) I guess that's a yes.
- The Powerpuff Girls:
- In "Simian Says", Mojo Jojo kidnaps the narrator and takes his place, leading to this exchange:
Bubbles: At least it's not raining.
Mojo Jojo (narrating): That's not a bad idea!
(it starts to rain)
- In The Movie, when the girls think they've been abandoned by the Professor and are walking home, crying, a rainstorm kicks up.
- Zig Zagged in Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy: the rain starts and stops again repeatedly as it's Lampshaded.
Edd: Summer rains, you can never predict them. (Cue thunder, short shower)