Scavenged Punk YKTTW Discussion

Scavenged Punk
Culture and technology built out of scavenged junk.
(permanent link) added: 2012-08-19 21:11:06 sponsor: agentjohnbishop (last reply: 2012-08-25 10:02:01)

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Scavenged Punk is a stylized setting that focuses on technology and culture based on an unusual source: scavenged junk. Weapons, tools, clothing, and sometimes entire cities will be built out of repurposed materials. A key factor here is that said materials, often pieces of trash, are being used for something other than their original purpose (as opposed to simply being repaired and reused). This trope shows up almost exclusively in two cases.

Firstly, it's used for After the End set stories in Scavenger Worlds where supplies are short and hence items from the past civilization must be used for basic necessities. Scavenged Punk specifically crops up when Improvised Armor and Improvised Weapons are emphasized.

Secondly, it shows up in stories where beings smaller than human (rodents, bugs, Lilliputians, etc.) have urban civilizations and use materials scavenged or stolen from humans. Many stories with anthropomorphic animals will have this to an extent as part of a Mouse World but only when it's strongly emphasized does it really become Scavenged Punk.

In either case (but especially the second), this trope is often made to be extremely visually interesting as random objects are put to surprising practical (or not) new uses. Because of this visual focus, Scavenged Punk has been common in animation especially recent CGI films.

When technology is constructed in a much more limited capacity it is simply MacGyvering. Note that while Scavenged Punk is not necessarily a fiction trope, most real life examples fall under MacGyvering or Scavenger World. Also contrast with Bamboo Technology where technology is built from rudimentary natural materials but not junk.




  • In the 1996 film of The Borrowers the titular characters take this to an extreme, with tools made from strings, paper clips, and needles. There's even a vehicle made out of an abandoned roller-scate.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids There are shades of this as the kids begin to piece together some makeshifts equipment.
  • Over the Hedge provides a mild example as RJ the raccoon uses solely scavenged equipment (such a pocket fishing rig as a grappling hook) and begins to teach the other animals to do the same.
  • In both The Rescuers films, the rodent-sized civilization make considerable use of human castoffs.
  • 9 takes this to its extreme with a hyper stylized After the End world where even the characters are built out of zippers, gloves, and spare bits of trash. Once again the characters are small enough to utilize almost anything. Director Shane Acker has referred to them as stitch punk. This film actually fulfills both typical scenarios as it set After the End AND contains miniature creatures.
  • Rango has an old west town where the inhabitants (anthropomorphic animals) all have technology built from human trash.
  • A Bug's Life drifts into Scavenged Punk during the city sequence. The city is built entirely out of discarded boxes and trash with a tipped over soup can doubling as a dive bar (the countertop inside the bar is a swiss army knife). The background of the entire sequence is scattered with numerous details like this.
  • Flushed Away contains a sewer world, populated by animals, that is entirely this trope. For example, a pair of egg beaters is repurposed as jet skis.
  • Chicken Run, from the same creators as Flushed Away has this for its animal characters. It's especially noticeable in Fletch and Digger who work as, well, scavengers. One of them sports a coat made out of a food sack with a full sized human zipper whose pull tab is as big as his head. Supplies they scavenge include a human spoon which becomes a shovel and a badminton birdie which is used as a hat. The movie, like Flushed Away is full of similarly great background details.
  • An American Tail has this as part of its Mouse World.
  • The Secret of NIMH similarly has this trope in place as a background element.


  • The Borrowers is probably the UR Example. Its plot revolves around a race of tiny people who live in the walls of the homes of normally sized people and "borrow" whatever they need to survive. Movies based on these books have provided some very cool visual looks at Scavenged Punk.
  • The Nomes Trilogy by Terry Pratchett contains this in a similar way as The Borrowers. A small race of Nomes utilizes a whole lot of scavenged material from people.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles very much have this in the form of Thimbletack the brownie who lives in the walls and steals human items for his home. In the illustrations he is even shown to where a cobbled together outfit that includes a hat made out of sowing equipment.

Live-Action TV

  • In the Doctor Who episode, The Doctor's Wife, the Doctor encounters a "bubble universe" that is filled with trash from the wider universe that has been fashioned into something of a home on top of a living asteroid. It's interesting to note that much of the scavenged junk is not supposed to be from earth and hence looks very strange.
  • True to form, The Community episode Modern Warfare (a parody of most apocalyptic tropes) contains a nod to the After the End variety of this. Many of the characters outfits are pieced together from random available equipment. In some cases it makes solid sense (Troy, a football player, where some modified football pads), other times it is simply amusing (members of the chess club wear plastic bowls with chess pieces attaches as helmets).
  • On Sesame Street the Twiddlebugs' house is made from a half pint milk carton with golf pencils for roof shingles, a backyard swing is made out of paperclips, etc.

Video Games
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles, the Hidden Village of the Machina is built largely on parts scavenged from Mechonis proper.
  • In the Fallout series, weapons, equipment, clothing, armor, and at least one entire city are made of Pre-War junk.

Western Animation

  • In Futurama the sewer mutants build their entire impressive civilization out of human trash flushed down toilets.
  • Adventure Time functions partially off of this, with Finn and Jake scavenging a lot of things. Also the Hyoo-man society scavenges from the ruins of old humanity.

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