Created By: Dacilriel on October 7, 2012 Last Edited By: Dacilriel on December 12, 2012
Troped

Arboreal Abode

A character lives inside a tree

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Page Type:
Trope

Some characters live in trees. Not in a tree house, but actually inside a hollow tree trunk. Usually there will be a doorway in one side of the trunk, and a substantial space inside. More elaborate arboreal abodes may have front steps, windows, back doors, and even chimneys visible from the outside. The nicest ones have several fully-furnished rooms inside.

This usually leads to a lot of Fridge Logic if one starts to seriously think about it. How is the tree alive and green if it's been hollowed out? (While dead trees are an option, they are usually shown as green and vibrant.) How can you fit an entire two-bedroom apartment on the inside of a tree? How are there windows in the upper leaves that should logically only have the thin ends of branches behind them? Don't expect any of these questions to be answered.

The use of this trope often shows that the characters are woodsy or in a nature-based setting. For the trope to be in effect the tree actually has to be converted in some manner to serve as a house. A squirrel living in a hole in a tree doesn't count because that's just what squirrels do.

See also Tree Top Town


Examples:

Advertising:
  • The Keebler elves (mascot of Keebler, an American cookie and cracker maker) live inside a tree, which is used as part of the company logo.

Comic Books:
  • The Wolfriders in ElfQuest live in a "Father Tree" that's subdivided into several homes. Fully justified because their tree-shapers can keep a tree alive and well while sculpting it into the required shape.

Film:
  • Home Tree in Avatar: the tree is honeycombed with natural spaces where the Na'vi live.

Literature:
  • In My Side of the Mountain Sam makes his home in a tree. Probably one of the more realistic examples you're likely to find.
  • The Berenstain Bears live in a beautifully furnished tree.
  • Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series. The turtle wizard Clothahump's home is inside a massive oak tree.
  • Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic has the useless wizard Rincewind captured by classical Graecian tree-spirits, the Dryads. They have resolved the "we live in a tree but the tree is still green and flourishes, indeed we and the tree need each other to thrive" paradox by being multi-dimensional - indeed their Tree shares many attributes of a Tardis, by being far larger on the inside than on the outside. The Tree of the Dryads and the great forest tree they seemingly inhabit may not occupy EXACTLY the same dimension of space-time...
  • Larry Niven's The Integral Trees had an example of this In Space: a neutron star orbited by a ring-shaped cloud of breathable gas, where huge, multi-kilometer-long "integral trees" orbited within and provided shelter, nourishment, and raw materials for humans who colonized the system.

Live Action TV:
  • In Mister Rogers' Neighborhood of Make Believe, X the Owl lived behind a door on the trunk of a tree. (Henrietta Pussycat lived in the same tree, but in a small house attached to a branch, so that doesn't count.)

Tabletop RPG
  • Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon magazine #73 module "Forest of Doom". The Drow have hollowed out part of a gigantic tree and built a fortress inside of it.
    • At least in early editions, dryads live inside hollowed-out trees.

Theater:
  • Ariel, from Shakespeare's "The Tempest," is found by the sorceror Prospero inside a tree, though whether the spirit lives there or is merely caught is sometimes debated.

Video Games:

Web Comics:
  • Fairly common in Kevin & Kell: The title characters and the recently married Lindesfarne and Fenton have residences in large hollowed-out trees.

Western Animation:

Community Feedback Replies: 43
  • October 7, 2012
    Generality
    Commonplace for elves, gnomes, and anything else small enough to inhabit a Mouse World.
  • October 7, 2012
    acrobox

    link lives in a tree home in both Ocarina Of Time and Twilight Princess
  • October 7, 2012
    Rotpar
    • SNES RPG Sailor Moon Another Story has the Sailor Senshi splitting up and going around the world. Sailor Jupiter visits the exotic, mysterious land of Canada where people live inside trees.

    Poor Jupiter. I think the other girls hit Turkey, India, and Switzerland.
  • October 7, 2012
    LeeM
    The Wolfriders in Elf Quest live in a "Father Tree" that's subdivided into several homes. Fully justified because their tree-shapers can keep a tree alive and well while sculpting it into the required shape.
  • October 8, 2012
    Boston
    Ariel, from Shakespeare's "The Tempest," is found by the sorceror Prospero inside a tree, though whether the spirit lives there or is merely caught is sometimes debated.

    The Keebler elves (mascot of Keebler, an American cookie and cracker maker) live inside a tree, which is used as part of the company logo.
  • October 8, 2012
    TonyG
    • Chip And Dale live inside a hole in a tree. Many of their cartoons involve Donald Duck or some other character cutting it down.
    • Woody Woodpecker also lives inside trees.
    • Many of the characters in Winnie The Pooh, Piglet and Pooh himself most notably.
    • Bugs Bunny lives in a tree in at least one cartoon, "The Case of the Missing Hare".
  • October 8, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    Does the Great Deku Tree from Legend Of Zelda count, even though the character is the tree?
  • October 8, 2012
    Dacilriel
    Does anyone actually live in the Great Deku Tree?

    I don't think I'm going to include Chip and Dale or Woody Woodpecker because they just live in holes; they didn't actually convert the tree into a house.
  • October 8, 2012
    Howezat
    Parodied on The Simpsons. In "Saddlesore Galactica", horse racing jockeys are revealed to actually be subterranean elf-like creatures who live in "a fibreglass tree".
  • October 8, 2012
    Tallens
    Would Teldrassil count?
  • October 8, 2012
    FlintlockWolfman
    Finn and Jake from Adventure Time live in one.
  • October 8, 2012
    Rotpar
    Probably want to make note that animals living in a tree like animals don't count. On that note, I believe Chip and Dale lived in a furnished base in Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers.

    I dont remember right now if the Fox family from The Fantastic Mr Fox lived in a tree or in a burrow under it. But it was a furnished house, the main conflict of the story being Fox torn between being civilized and being a feral animal.

    The Deku Tree shouldn't count, nothing but monsters infesting it lived inside. Teldrassil might? It's a massive World Tree the size of an island that the night elves built their capital city and enough outskirts and villages onto.
  • October 8, 2012
    DreamSmith
    For a better name... 'Keebler Condo'? Lots of people are familiar with the Keebler elves and their bakery/tree, but admittedly not everyone would make the connection.
  • October 8, 2012
    shimaspawn
    Like Chip N Dale, Woody Woodpecker actually had rugs and furniture inside his tree. It's not just an animal living in a tree.

    Also, we frown on character named tropes. Character named tropes are generally worse than any other name.
  • October 8, 2012
    Xtifr
    Would mushrooms count? Seems like basically the same thing, except the inhabitants are usually smaller, gnomes or fairies.

  • October 8, 2012
    acrobox
    The Kids Next Door have their Home Base in a tree, they all have regular houses to go back to but they spend all day there anyway.
  • October 8, 2012
    Generality
  • October 9, 2012
    Arivne
    Literature

    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons, Dragon magazine #73 module "Forest of Doom". The Drow have hollowed out part of a gigantic tree and built a fortress inside of it.
  • October 9, 2012
    Fren
    In as far as a new name ... Deciduous Digs, maybe? Arborary Apartment? Conifer Condo? Maple Manse? I can alliterate all day.
  • October 9, 2012
    Generality
    Yes, but they're mostly too specific. Arboreal Abode works though.
  • October 9, 2012
    Telcontar
    Literature:

    • Sam, the main character in My Side Of The Mountain lives in the wilderness for a year. One of the first things he does is hollow out part of a large and upstanding tree trunk through burning, digging, and hacking. This provides him with a home for the rest of his time alone on the mountain, and as the year progresses he adds a fireplace, bed, door, etc..
  • October 9, 2012
    jbrecken
    In Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood of Make Believe, X the Owl lived behind a door on the trunk of a tree. (Henrietta Pussycat lived in the same tree, but in a small house attached to a branch, so that doesn't count.)
  • October 9, 2012
    Dacilriel
    I like Arboreal Abode as a title. Does anyone else second it or have any other ideas?
  • October 9, 2012
    PsiPaula4
  • October 9, 2012
    LeeM
    Elf Quest should go either under Comic Books (where it started) or Web Comics (because all the art was reposted online).
  • October 9, 2012
    Dacilriel
    Duly noted and changed, thanks.
  • October 10, 2012
    GymQuirk
    Fairly common in Kevin And Kell: The title characters and the recently married Lindesfarne and Fenton have residences in large hollowed-out trees.
  • October 11, 2012
    Surenity
  • October 11, 2012
    HyperTurbina
    The citizens of Cleyra in Final Fantasy IX live in a giant tree that is protected by a sandstorm.
  • October 12, 2012
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
  • October 12, 2012
    JonnyB
    HomeTree in Avatar: the tree is honeycombed with natural spaces where the Na'vi live.
  • October 12, 2012
    KZN02
    See also Tree Top Town.
  • October 13, 2012
    TBeholder
    The name's non-indicative, otherwise it would be ready to launch.
  • October 13, 2012
    Dacilriel
    How is it non-indicative? The trope was originally named Tree Home, but I was concerned it would be confused with tree houses. I'm still welcoming suggestions if you have a better name.
  • October 14, 2012
    AgProv
    Terry Pratchett's 'The Colour of Magic'' has the useless wizzard Rincewind captured by classical Graecian tree-spirits, the Dryads. They have resolved the "we live in a tree but the tree is still green and flourishes, indeed we and the tree need each other to thrive" paradox by being multi-dimensional - indeed their Tree shares many attributes of a Tardis, by bieng far larger on the inside than on the outside. The Tree of the Dryads and the great forest tree they seemingly inhabit may not occupy EXACTLY the same dimension of soace-time...
  • October 15, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Literature

    Larry Niven's The Integral Trees had an example of this In Space: a neutron star orbited by a ring-shaped cloud of breathable gas, where huge, multi-kilometer-long "integral trees" orbited within and provided shelter, nourishment, and raw materials for humans who colonized the system.
  • October 15, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Mythology

    The World Tree myth in Norse, Native American, and some other cultures.
  • October 16, 2012
    Generality
    ^ The World Tree seldom has creatures living inside it. Certainly the Norse one doesn't.
  • October 16, 2012
    aurora369
    Telvanni wizards from Morrowind live in humongous tree-like fungi.
  • October 25, 2012
    Dacilriel
    I might still do a little tweaking before I launch it, but does anybody have any more suggestions? Think it's about ready to go?
  • October 26, 2012
    TonyG
  • October 26, 2012
    Rognik
    The film version of Fantastic Mr Fox has the Fox family move into a home in a tree, which kicks off the plot. At least in this version, they have windows, furniture and at least one staircase in the house.
  • December 12, 2012
    Surenity
    This should get launched I think
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=9afvvs3ii3awr9oyub0vrtga