Created By: Earnest on March 3, 2012 Last Edited By: Earnest on December 3, 2012
Troped

Homeless King

The leader of a city's castoffs.

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Suggested alternate titles: King of the Homeless, The Beggar King.

This character is the leader or even "king" of all the homeless, indigent, and castoffs in a city. Either by dint of age, respect, or obstinate madness he has authority over the homeless. The king may be a crime boss type, a mayor who keeps their society running, or an actual king who holds court. Regardless of how much wealth he has, he always stays purposefully poor and in a homeless lifestyle.

More often than not Muggles in the know will respect him and even ask him for help or Wisdom from the Gutter, assuming he doesn't have a higher education equivalent knowledge. Usually these guys are also suffering a mental illness that makes them a Cloud Cuckoo Lander. However, an especially beloved king (it helps if they aren't violent) may have their delusion humored by a whole city.

See also/compare The Fagin and Wasteland Elder. For a normal king who is now homeless, see Fallen Princess. This trope is almost Always Male, hence the use of masculine pronouns.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Chief Aramaki's missing brother turns out to be one in an episode near the end of the first season. He's arrested on trumped up charges to get at his brother. In the second season he has a cameo in order to give Kuze somebody to explain his plan to.

Comic Books
  • TMNT had The Garbageman, a hideous and ruthless villain who dreams of ruling a garbage kingdom with the homeless as his slaves. After he was defeated The Professor (so named because he used to be a university professor) became a good and wise leader to the homeless and gave a valuable Aesop on recycling.
  • One Hellraiser comic has a literal Homeless King, holdingncourt in the sewers.
  • One story in The Goon has the term "hobo jungle" taken literally, with the hoboes looking like Amazonian natives. Their king is a long-haired guitar player.

Film
  • Newsies has Jack Kelly of one part of New York and another boy of another part.
  • (Please Confirm) Perry in The Fisher King counts. When we first see him we get the impression he protects tribes of homeless against anti-bum vigilantes, and may well be held in the role of some kind of leader.
  • In Army Of Darkness, Ash meets Duke Henry, the leader of a band of poor townfolk who were banished from the King's castle. Ash quickly reminds him just how much his supposed status is worth:
    Duke Henry: You Sir, are not one of my vassals... who are you?
    Ash: Who wants to know?
    Duke Henry: I am Henry the Red. Duke of Shale, Lord of the Northlands and leader of its peoples.
    Ash: Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I've got news for you pal, you ain't leadin' but two things, right now: Jack and shit... and Jack left town.

Literature
  • Thieves' World series. Moruth the Beggar King was the leader of the beggars in the Downwind section of Sanctuary.
  • Discworld has Queen Molly, head of the Beggar's Guild.
  • Neverwhere has one who rules a kingdom inside a subway car.
  • Bloodsucking Fiends has a Homeless King inSan Francisco, very clearly modeled on Emperor Norton of the same city.
  • Koba is the leader of Echo's homeless in Labyrinths of Echo.
  • Thieves' World series. Moruth the Beggar King was the leader of the beggars in the Downwind section of Sanctuary.
  • In Reliquary, Mephisto is the leader of a large community of homeless living in the tunnels under Manhattan. Pendergast and D'Agosta seek his help in navigating the tunnels and finding the den of the Wrinklers.
  • There's the Beggar King of Nadsokor from the The Elric Saga. A whole city where everyone has the kind of defects that characterize the worst of the lumpenproletariat beggars, and the story is about their king stealing Elric's imperial jewels.

Live-Action TV
  • Babylon 5: Byron, leader of the rogue telepaths on the titular space station.
  • The novel The King of Schnorrers involves a character who is the leader of professional beggars in London.
  • Clopin in The Hunchback of Notre Dame is something along the lines of a beggar king.
  • The Doctor Who two-parter "Daleks In Manhattan"/Evolution of the Daleks" features a Depression-era Hooverville in New York City, where the de facto leader of the homeless is a wise man named Solomon.

Musical
  • In The Threepenny Opera, Peachum is the head of London's Beggar's Guild and is referred to at least once as the Beggar King/King of the Beggars.

Web Comics
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has Archibald, the King of the Hobos, who wears half of a Campbell's Soup can as a crown. He may have actually done some ruling as a hobo king, but that was before he befriended a mummy, became immortal, went on adventures, and became mayor of Cumberland.
  • Johnny Saturn features a literally underground society that functions surprisingly well, and while they have some main members, John Underhall is pretty much their king.

Video Games

Web Games


Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • March 3, 2012
    Wheezy
  • March 3, 2012
    dalek955
    ^Nah, this trope requires that the city also have citizens who are not hobos.
    • Discworld has Queen Molly, head of the Beggar's Guild.
  • March 3, 2012
    BackwardThgindiM
    Gavroche, mayhaps?
  • March 3, 2012
    Treblain
    • The Doctor Who two-parter "Daleks In Manhattan"/Evolution of the Daleks" features a Depression-era Hooverville in New York City, where the de facto leader of the homeless is a wise man named Solomon.
    • The Adventures Of Dr Mc Ninja has Archibald, the King of the Hobos, who wears half of a Campbell's Soup can as a crown. He may have actually done some ruling as a hobo king, but that was before he befriended a mummy, became immortal, went on adventures, and became mayor of Cumberland.
  • March 3, 2012
    Jordan
    ^^Gavroche is more of a Satisfied Street Rat I think.

    • In The Threepenny Opera, Peachum is the head of London's Beggar's Guild and is referred to at least once as the Beggar King/King of the Beggars.
    • The novel The King of Schnorrers involves a character who is the leader of professional beggars in London
    • Clopin in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame is something along the lines of a beggar king.
  • March 3, 2012
    elwoz
    Echo Bazaar has the Topsy King.
  • March 3, 2012
    83244genesis
    • Johnny Saturn features a literally underground society that functions surprisingly well, and while they have some main members, John Underhall is pretty much their king.
    • TMNT had The Garbageman, a hideous and ruthless villain who dreams of ruling a garbage kingdom with the homeless as his slaves. After he was defeated The Professor (so named because he used to be a university professor) became a good and wise leader to the homeless and gave a valuable Aesop on recycling.
    Might overlap with The Fagin.

  • March 3, 2012
    Koveras
  • March 4, 2012
    CaidenvonPuttingfoot
    Would Emperor Norton count as a real life example?
  • March 6, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    • Babylon 5: Byron, leader of the rogue telepaths on the titular space station.
  • March 7, 2012
    Arivne
    Literature
    • Thieves World series. Moruth the Beggar King was the leader of the beggars in the Downwind section of Sanctuary.
  • March 7, 2012
    elwoz
    ^^^ No, IMHO: he had no particular association with beggars, despite being fairly down on his luck himself.

    A couple more video game examples:

  • March 7, 2012
    foxley
    Maybe The Beggar King would be a better title. The Homeless King sounds like royalty who have been evicted from their palace.
  • March 7, 2012
    atheywa
    I'd call it King Of The Homeless. Newsies has Jack Kelly of one part of New York and another boy of another part.
  • March 7, 2012
    yogyog
    I wander if Perry in The Fisher King counts? When we first see him we get the impression he protects tribes of homeless against anti-bum vigilantes, and may well be held in the role of some kind of leader.
  • March 12, 2012
    Duncan
    Discworld also has Foul Ol' Ron or The Duck Man as the leader of the homeless contingent (or possibly Gaspode, Ron's Thinking Brain dog).
  • March 12, 2012
    Telcontar
    Another vote for King Of The Homeless, as The Beggar King and Homeless King both sound like royalty living on the streets.
  • March 12, 2012
    Treblain
    Another for King Of The Homeless, just to stave off confusion.
  • March 13, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    Batman The Animated Series had the reprehensible Sewer King, who abused young children and forced them to steal for him.
  • March 13, 2012
    MorganWick
    This trope made me think of Da Mayor from Do The Right Thing, who, regardless of whether or not he himself was homeless (can't recall), certainly wasn't "mayor" of just homeless people.
  • March 13, 2012
    helterskelter
    The definition could use some cleaning up, I think. It's a bit sloppy right now.
  • March 13, 2012
    ADazedBeige
    Damas from Jak 3 would fall under this trope right?
  • March 13, 2012
    foxley
    Clopin Trouillefou in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame.
  • December 2, 2012
    Thesedaysthosedays
    There's the Beggar King of Nadsokor from the Elric series. A whole city where everyone has the kind of defects that characterize the worst of the lumpenproletariat beggars, and the story is about their king stealing Elric's imperial jewels.
  • December 2, 2012
    Bisected8
    • In Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex Chief Aramaki's missing brother turns out to be one in an episode near the end of the first season. He's arrested on trumped up charges to get at his brother. In the second season he has a cameo in order to give Kuze somebody to explain his plan to.
  • December 2, 2012
    StarSword
    Add another vote for King Of The Homeless.
  • December 2, 2012
    Stratadrake
    King Of The Homeless, definitely. Otherwise it reads as "homeless (adjective) + king".
  • December 2, 2012
    Goldfritha
    King Of The Homeless. To avoid confusing with a Fallen Princess situation.

    Perhaps a note that a homeless king would probably fall under Fallen Princess?
  • December 2, 2012
    Sheora
    I would take out the bit about Homeless Queens. Just make a note at the end with the relations that it's usually a male role. The way you have it written now sounds too close to first person.

    Here's one more for you for literature:
    • In Reliquary, Mephisto is the leader of a large community of homeless living in the tunnels under Manhattan. Pendergast and D'Agosta seek his help in navigating the tunnels and finding the den of the Wrinklers.

  • December 2, 2012
    Chabal2
    One story in The Goon has the term "hobo jungle" taken literally, with the hoboes looking like Amazonian natives. Their king is a long-haired guitar player.
  • December 3, 2012
    Frank75
    The description needs a correction. It still claims there were no "beggar queens" in fiction, and the second reply mentions one.
  • December 3, 2012
    Chernoskill
    • In Army Of Darkness, Ash meets Duke Henry, the leader of a band of poor townfolk who were banished from the King's castle. Ash quickly reminds him just how much his supposed status is worth:
      Duke Henry: You Sir, are not one of my vassals... who are you?
      Ash: Who wants to know?
      Duke Henry: I am Henry the Red. Duke of Shale, Lord of the Northlands and leader of its peoples.
      Ash: Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I've got news for you pal, you ain't leadin' but two things, right now: Jack and shit... and Jack left town.

  • December 3, 2012
    justanid
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=t1twhs36a8trl1abuwya8lag&trope=KingOfTheHomeless