"I'm just going to walk the earth. ...You know, like Caine in Kung Fu. Walk from place to place, meet people, get in adventures."
Footloose and fancy-free, we set off among the Adventure Towns
, seeking the next place, rather than our fortunes.
This trope is bottomless, it seems. The audience wants
to believe life without roots is romantic and full of adventure
. The character
has no home, no job, no money, no identification, no friends, and no visible means of support, yet is always healthy, well-fed, clean, and welcome wherever he goes.
Most of us would agree with Vincent Vega's response to Jules' quote above: "You're gonna become a bum!
If you don't have a job, a home, and legal tender, that's all you'll be is a bum. Someone who picks in garbage cans and eats the stuff I throw away." Most people who go Walking the Earth
by themselves are male (or disguised as male
). Females generally belong to a nomadic group, mostly for defense purposes.
It's much easier when you have a valuable skill... but this is a different trope
. You can get away with just Walking the Earth
in settings with sufficiently strong traditions of Sacred Hospitality
, though — like Homeric Greece (obviously), the Muslim world (where hospitality is a religious obligation), the Balkans if you're not from next door, and the American South
or Old West
. Some Walkers, however, have some skills like craftsmanship that they utilize to make a trade/earn a living while traveling, like hobos
. Some occupations such as cobbler and tinker are traditionally nomadic because you would use up your customer base in a location and have to move on to the next only to circle back when your first customers had worn out their shoes or pots.
There have been few Walking the Earth
shows lately; the trope lay fallow until fall 2005, when a Walking the Earth
show entitled Supernatural
This trope is a very American one and is quite common in older westerns
. As far as big TV producing nations go, The U.S. of A. has the geography best suited to this form of adventure. Australia also has the tradition of the Walkabout, where young men would wander the land for months as a spiritual journey. However, this trope is by no means exclusive to the U.S. and Australia; a common case in point of this is the British franchise Doctor Who
When one is forced to walk the earth against one's will, this trope becomes the much darker Flying Dutchman
If a character Walking the Earth
has a strict code of honor and spreads justice in his wake, he's a Knight Errant
. Same code of honor (and wanderlust) usually results in passing the Leave Your Quest Test
heroes fall under either Knight Errant
or (if they do not have a code of honour but merely wanders the land for enjoyment) this, they will master their arts and search for worthy opponents, either before a remarkable quest calls for them or after they already finished their quest in life and decides to drift off to other places.
Subtrope of In Harm's Way
. Having Random Transportation
is often used to provide the science fiction or fantasy versions of this trope. See also: Stern Chase
, The Drifter
, Flying Dutchman
. Common MO for The Atoner
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Dr. Banner of The Incredible Hulk tends to alternate between periods of this, and periods where he has more control over the Hulk and settles down. (E.g., his time with the Pantheon in the 90s, and his tenure with SHIELD in the teens.) The TV series, by contrast, was all "Walking".
- Miyamoto Usagi of Usagi Yojimbo, much like the historical figure he's loosely based on, Miyamoto Musashi.
- Groo The Wanderer
- Ergo Proxy Vincent Law travelled from the Mosk dome in a After the End to Romdeau world dome with many other emergents while seeing the world blindly but his return to Mosk on a Steam Punk wind ship called the 400 Rabbits with Pino and Re-L Mayer he saw the world was regenerating from the great disaster long ago where he and others have countless other Mind Screws along the way. On his second journey to Romdeau he and Pino have their dreams invaded.
- Y: The Last Man has Yorick and 355 going from Washington D.C. to Paris the long way by the time the story ends (Dr. Mann got dropped off in China to continue her father's work). It started out an escort mission to get the titular last man to the nearest cloning expert in Boston and things kinda snowballed when her lab was burned down.
- Green Lantern and Green Arrow spent some time Walking the Earth — or America, at least — together in the early '70s. It was a coming-of-age time for the comic book, as much of what they saw was commentary on current politics and social situations.
- In the unresolved ElfQuest: Rogue's Curse storyline Rayek walks the World of Two Moons accompanied by Ekuar and tormented by Winnowill's vengeful spirit.
- Lucky Luke rides around everywhere, often to wherever one of his missions take him. And he doesn't mind sleeping on the prairie ground with his saddle for a pillow.
- This is a major plot point of the graphic novel Midnight Nation, where a man has to walk from Los Angeles to New York City in order to get his soul back.
- Travis Morgan spent most of the The Warlord doing this; sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. (Actually it was 'walking the hollow Earth world of Skartaris', but close enough.)
- This is The Phantom Stranger's hat (well, his other hat, he also wears a tasteful fedora). He sums it up thusly - "I have walked hundreds of billions of miles across this Earth... across time and space... through the blinding light of the Elysian Fields... and the darkest depths of Pandemonium... where the stench and despair of the chaoplasm is always a potent reminder of how far man can fall. I am the Phantom Stranger. And the stranger comes... when the stranger is needed."
- In the final issue of Avengers: The Initiative, this is what Trauma is revealed to do after the Initiative is discontinued. Literally, the exact words are that he "was last seen walking the earth, like Caine in Kung Fu." His actions since this have become Shrouded in Myth; he's either studying under Dr. Strange or looking for a man named Karl in Minnesota.
- Douwe Dabbert does this. Throughout the series, he repeatedly refuses to settle down.
- J. Michael Straczynski's first Superman arc, "Grounded," has Supes walking across America in order to re-connect with humanity after his sojourn on New Krypton.
- European comic Aria features a rare solo female example and an Anvilicious one at that who chose this lifestyle because she wanted to remain childfree and, most of all, man-free.
- Red Sonja
- In Judge Dredd, when a Judge retires from active duty in Mega-City-One, he/she must embark on The Long Walk. The Judge is, essentially, exhiled to the Cursed Earth or the Undercity where they must wander and travel for the rest of their lives and "bring law to the lawless".
- Superman did this just before the New 52. After feeling he was out of touch with the American people, he decides to remedy the situation by handing in his US citizenship and literally walking all over America looking for people to helpnote . Amazingly, no-one seemed to notice that Clark Kent was doing the exact same thing at the exact same time in the exact same places, but if anybody did, then Clark could simply claim that he was following Superman, as many other reporters were surely doing.
- "Bum-Bill-Bee", "a pilgrim on the road to nowhere" from Krazy Kat.
- The Great and Powerful Trixie's chosen path, as described from her own POV in An Extended Performance
So she lived on the road, by her wits, from hoof to mouth, from town to town? It meant that she was her own mistress, that no ignorant clod could tell her what to do, that she did what she wanted to when she wanted to do it, and for her own purposes.
- What "Smurfed Behind: The Departure" would have led Empath and Polaris Psyche into doing while the other Smurfs were traveling through time (as they did in The Smurfs Season 9 episodes) in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf.
- In The Changeling Of The Guard, Idol Hooves becomes resigned to this after realizing that his true identity as a changeling will inevitably be revealed eventually. He leaves his companions in the Saddle Arabian caravan soon after.
- Kyoshi Rising; the title character starts this on her journey to become the Avatar. Unlike her successor Aang, Kyoshi's only means of transportation is walking from place to place, although she does get help from fishermen and White Lotus members.
- The Wanderer Of The North: Nikóleva during her self-imposed exile, using her alias 'the Wintermail', roamed the known world, helping villages and slaying dragons and Diamond Dogs.
- In First Blood, Rambo is wandering around the United States, unable to mesh with society. The later films usually give him a home, which is portrayed as being somewhere in Thailand.
- Forrest Gump trekked (sometimes ran) quite a bit about the US countryside (not to mention a tour in Vietnam) despite his homestead in Greenbow, Alabama, which seemed to maintain itself during his adventures.
- Implied to be Tom's fate in the end of The Way.
- Into The Wild is a biopic about a real person doing this: dropping out of society to live in the wilderness of Alaska, without any special knowledge or supplies. Reality Ensues when he ends up dying in an extremely preventable way, even through he could have walked out of his predicament if he just had a map and a compass. That hasn't stopped some people from deciding that this sounds like a totally awesome idea.
- As written above, Kung Pow! has The Chosen One walk the earth for the first part of the movie after being raised by what seem to be rats.
- The end of Teeth implies that our heroine will spend the rest of her days as The Drifter, Walking the Earth and, um, chomping off the penises of sexual predators.
- The Man With No Name in Spaghetti Westerns, who rides into town, kills the bad guys... and leaves again, presumably on his way to some other town to do the same thing over again. This derives from the Akira Kurosawa movie Yojimbo, where the yojimbo of the title is pictured wandering aimlessly around rural Japan before he comes into the village where the events of the film take place. In fact, he finds his way there by following the direction pointed out by a stick he tossed in the air.
- North travels around the world trying to find parents that are better than his.
- Easy Rider
- Jules Winnefield decides to do this after surviving a point-blank shooting, considering it a miracle of God, claiming God will guide him to wherever he needs to be. Vince immediately points out how impossible that would be.
- Max is this in The Road Warrior and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, wandering the wasteland in search of gas.
- In Man of Steel, Clark does this before becoming Superman, trying to blend in but performing "guardian angel" acts as needed. Intrepid Reporter Lois Lane is on his trail.
- Gary King's eventual fate in The World's End.
- Red Dog's journey across a quarter of Australia in the search for John, not knowing he is dead and buried in his home town.
- Woody Guthrie is compelled to do this from time to time in Bound for Glory. His wife gets pretty justifiably angry about him leaving her and the children high and dry while he's out singing folk songs to migrant workers.
- Older Than Feudalism examples in The Bible:
- Cain in Genesis is sentenced by God to walk the earth for the rest of his life, because he killed his brother, Abel. God says to him: "Now you are cursed from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood you have shed. If you work the land, it will never again give you its yield. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth."
- From the Book of Job: "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."
- Jack Reacher from Lee Child's books. After spending his life traveling the world with the army and living overseas most of his life, he chooses to become a drifter to see America. He never intends to make connections or put down roots, each of his adventures takes place in a different location, and he never buys anything he can't throw away.
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife series of books, after the interracial couple realizes that they don't fit in with either his or her families anymore, they go on an extended honeymoon that lasts 1 3/4 novels, visiting various landmarks and enjoying each other's company while they tried to figure out where they were going to live for the rest of their lives.
- Ulysses as portrayed by Dante in The Divine Comedy
- This characterization was picked up by Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his poem about Ulysses. He gave the same story a more sympathetic treatment, but without removing the desire for adventure.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
** Life to the lees: Note that Dante, at least formally believing the Aeniad's conceit that the Trojans founded Rome and became the national ancestors of the Italians, has it in for Odysseus, hence his position among the False Counselors in the Eighth Circle of Hell.
- Sir Galahad, in Tennyson's eponymous poem, wanders the Earth 'whate'er betide, Till I find the Holy Grail".
- Robert A. Heinlein's blind singer Rhysling, composer of the song "The Green Hills of Earth" in the short story of the same name. Until the accident that blinded him, he had been a spaceship engineer; after the accident, he took advantage of the informal custom that a spacer could have one free trip home, using it to wander at will all over the solar system. His most famous character, Lazarus Long, spends centuries wandering the galaxy. His wanderings are fueled both by boredom, and by needing to move on from a community before the locals start to suspect his immortality.
- Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian and all Conan-derived characters. Conan himself, at least, has some explanation for how he makes a living while wandering (thief and occasional mercenary soldier).
- Randall "The Walking Dude" Flagg, Big Bad of Stephen King's The Stand and The Dragon of The Dark Tower, is the rare villainous version of Walking the Earth. And Walking Alternate Universes. In The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla, Father Callahan reveals that he had spent the time between the events of 'Salem's Lot and his arrival at Calla bryn Sturgis wandering the Earth.
- In John Steinbeck's East of Eden, Adam walks the earth for several years after leaving the Army-he doesn't have much want or need to return home.
- Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ... possibly inspired by Twain's real life experiences.
- The Old English poem The Wanderer, like The Bible, Older Than Feudalism.
- In Middle Earth:
- In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf the Grey spent two millennia Walking The (Middle) Earth while searching for ways to resist the return of Sauron.
- Aragorn and the other Rangers have a bit of this as well — in fact, it's implied that this is a good part of the reason why Aragorn and Gandalf are such good friends.
- Bilbo develops a taste for this after his adventures in The Hobbit and leaves to do just that near the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring.
- In The Silmarillion, Maglor took up a life of wandering beside the sea and singing a lament over his own violent stupidity at the end of the First Age. The same is true for Daeron, who vanished after Lúthien's disappearance. Fanon commonly has them as Ships That Pass in the Night.
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- In the Casca series by Barry Sadler, Casca is the Roman soldier who stabbed Jesus in the side with a spear. Christ dooms Casca to walk the Earth until his second coming. Casca busies himself during this time be being involved in numerous wars and adventures throughout history.
- This ebook wears the trope on its cover, as the anthology is called Wandering Djinn and stars... well, look at the title.
- Played straight with Vianne and Anouk in the novel Chocolat. Played with to chilling effect in the sequel The Lollipop Shoes in which Zozie manages to live this way using a combination of fraud, identity theft, murder, magic and spiking people's food and drink.
- Turms in Mika Waltari's 1956 novel The Etruscan wanders across the 5th century BCE Mediterranean, joining pirates, fighting in wars and participating in politics in various places. Most of Waltari's historical novels have the same theme. (e.g. The Egyptian, 1945; The Adventurer, 1948; The Dark Angel, 1952)
- The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy is this, but Recycled In Space. Also something of a Travelogue Show.
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, the reason offered by Astreus is not at the Christmas feast.
- In the Earth's Children series, Jondolar & Thonolan spend the first half of The Valley of Horses walking from (modern-day) France to the Ukraine, where Thonolan dies and Jondolar meets Ayla. In The Plains of Passage Jondolar & Ayla walk back to France, albeit this time with the assistance of two horses. Other characters in the series have walked from the Ukraine to Africa & back, and from France (or Germany) to China. Also Ayla herself at age 5 wandered the earth not knowing what to do or even what to eat, until she was picked up half-dead by the Clan.
- Walking the South America is part of Rivarez's backstory in Gadfly. Unlike many examples, it's portrayed very darkly and is the source of much psychological trauma for Rivarez.
- The Moomins has Snufkin, a born wanderer who doesn't ask anything else of life than the freedom to walk alone and play his harmonica. He's psychologically unable to stay in one place or with other people too long, so after moving in with the Moomins, he still periodically leaves them to go Walking the Earth alone for an extended time.
- Michael and Fisk in the Knight and Rogue Series. Especially by the third book, where they've had a good two years to wander around while the audience wasn't looking and have accumulated a load of interesting stories that are vaguely alluded to.
- In Death: After the death of his sister in Portrait In Death, Crack went on this sort of journey. He comes back in Visions In Death.
- Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker book finishes with two characters departing for this kind of life, with one warning the other that it won't be easy.
- The soulscapers in Storm Constantine's Burying the Shadow. Justified in that there are so many of them in their home city that they have to wander far from home in order to find work.
- In The Mortal Instruments, Simon's scared he's going to end up doing this, with the Mark of Cain and everything. Good for him the angel Raziel removes it.
- Orrec and Gry decide to do this in Gifts since they no longer fit into Upland society. They spend the rest of the Annals Of The Western Shore book traveling, for about twenty years, until they settle down at Urdile's university.
- Elsabeth Soesten and Brother Hieronymus have no permanent residence and constantly move from place to place seeing what work can be had. Justified for Hieronymus; as a friar he is tasked to travel and tend to the souls of people wherever he goes, though Elsabeth's reasons for wandering have not been revealed.
- At the end of The Heroes of Olympus, this is Leo and Calypso's plan for the unforeseeable future.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Oz does this, though he eventually settled down.
- Shintaro Katsu's Zatoichi series lives and breathes this trope.
- The Incredible Hulk has David Banner walking the United States.
- Doctor Who is a classic example of this, though it's helped by the fact that the Doctor, with a TARDIS and Time Travel, really doesn't need to worry about food, shelter, or expenses.
- In the 3rd series finale, Martha Jones has walked the earth for one year in order to tell everyone left on earth the story of the Doctor who has saved them countless times so that at the right moment they can all think of the Doctor and save the world.
- Subverted by Donna during her off-screen time between Christmas 2006 and series four. She started Walking the Earth after having met the Doctor, but got bored after a few weeks after she realised that "it's all bus trips and guidebooks and don't drink the water and two weeks later you're back home."
- In the Series Five Finale, Rory, who has been granted a new life as an Auton, chooses to protect the Pandorica — which holds Amy's body, waiting until she can be restored — for the next two thousand years. The Pandorica's said to have gone everywhere, even the Vatican, and "the lone Centurion was always with it."
- In "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship", the Doctor accidentally drags Rory's father, Brian Williams, on one of his adventures when he collects Amy and Rory. Early on, Rory tells the Doctor that his dad hates to travel. Thanks to his adventure with the Doctor, Brian ends up with a desire to see the world. The end of the episode has Amy and Rory collecting postcards that Brian sends from his travels.
- In Torchwood, Captain Jack Harkness walks the Earth after he makes the heart-breaking decision to kill his own grandson in order to save millions. After six months, he realises that the Earth is too small to make him forget, and he beams up into space to start exploring the universe again.
- Dr. Richard Kimble, going from town to town, searching for the One Armed Man in The Fugitive.
- Hercules and his sidekick Iolaus of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys also wandered the ancient world battling monsters, gods, and warlords.
- The protagonists of Highway To Heaven — though again, having an Angel of the Lord riding shotgun probably makes the little things easier to deal with.
- In The Immortal, has Christopher George as Ben Richards, who runs from the employees of a terminally ill, wealthy man who want to capture him for transfusions of his blood because he has every immunity there is, and is likely to live forever, and would do something similar for anyone who got transfusions from him. The exact opposite of Run For Your Life (see).
- Caine in Kung Fu is, of course, the Trope Namer, and did a lot to show people how easy it was to apply the model of Adventure Towns to an ongoing series.
- The Littlest Hobo was this kind of series, only the central character was a dog.
- Some versions of Lassie also depict her travelling alone, a la Littlest Hobo.
- Here's Boomer chronicled another Earth-walking drifter dog, and had an Expository Theme Tune noting that "He's never gonna settle down".
- Quantum Leap: Like the show article says, replace "Earth" with "Timeline."
- In Renegade, Reno Raines was a Bounty Hunter on the run from the law while trying to clear his name of a false murder accusation.
- The lucky guys in Route 66 got to do it in a Corvette.
- In the mid-1960s series Run For Your Life, Ben Gazzara played a terminally ill man who roamed the world, trying to live as full a life as possible in the time left to him. See The Immortal for the inverse.
- In the Saturday-morning live-action adaptation of Shazam!, Billy and his Mentor "travelled the highways and byways of the land on a neverending mission."
- The TV version of Starman.
- Supernatural. The Winchester boys, of course.
- Most other hunters do this too, though some have a base of operations.
- Supernatural deconstructs this trope rather than playing it straight, though: Sam and Dean are perpetually broke conmen who live out of their suitcases in rat-trap motels when they aren't outright squatting; they have the law on their tails, they have no friends outside the hunting community (and very few in it), and when they get on one another's nerves (which happens a lot), there's no escape. This is frequently played for laughs, but it's definitely not portrayed as romantic.
Dean: You know, then there’s the crappy diner food and the—and the skeevy motel rooms and that truck stop waitress with the bizarre rash. I mean, who wants this life, Sam? Huh? Seriously! I mean, do you actually like being stuck in a car with me eight hours a day every single day? I don’t think so! I mean, I drive too fast and I listen to the same five albums over and over and over again and I sing along, I’m annoying, I know that. And you…you’re gassy! You eat half a burrito and you get toxic!
- Then Came Bronson has Michael Parks, as Jim Bronson, traveling around the country on a motorcycle. The opening credits have Bronson briefly talking to a commuter next to him at a traffic light:
Driver: Taking a trip?
Driver: Where to?
Bronson: Oh, I don't know. Wherever I end up, I guess.
Driver: Man, I wish I was you.
- The Touched by an Angel Spin-Off Promised Land featured a family that traveled the US while living in a trailer home.
- Parodied in Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads, where Bob points out to Terry that his dream of doing 'whatever I like' can't happen except in America. Terry flees anyway, and gets as far as Berwick-upon-Tweed.
- Xena and her sidekick Gabrielle from Xena: Warrior Princess wandered ancient Greece (and Rome, Egypt, China, India, Scandinavia) fighting warlords to atone for her past as the worst warlord of them all.
- Every week Jarod was in a new place with a new job in The Pretender while running from "the Centre."
- Feasting On Asphalt is a travelogue show about road food starring Alton Brown.
- Celeb chef Anthony Bourdain's travelogue show No Reservations. In fact, the original premise of the show was that he would be dropped off at a location without his knowledge ala Man vs. Wild or Survivorman and forced to experience the local culture on his own, but that premise was quickly dropped in favored of well-researched and carefully-planned itineraries.
- Movin On with Claude Akins, who plays a long-haul truck driver, and his co-driver who quit law school one credit short of his degree.
- Adam 'the Knight' of the Yorkshire Television series The Wanderer. His mentor and his love interest also seem to spend a lot of time on the road.
- Knight Rider has Michael Knight driving
the Earth the United States and fighting crime with his cool AI car/buddy, KITT. The 2008 revival series has Michael Knight (Jr.) also driving the USA California and fighting crime with the new incarnation of KITT, after its mid-season retool.
- Nowhere Man has Thomas Veil (Bruce Greenwood) walking the earth due to his Loss of Identity. He spends the entire series as the only main character.
- Played very straight in Firefly, with the crew of Serenity being constantly on the move. Though they do live in a comfortably-sized spacecraft, the crew has to constantly deal with Perpetual Poverty and is always on the run from the law, and they sometimes complain about not being able to stay in once place for longer than a few days at a time.
- inverted in The Riches in which the premise is that of a family of travellers that stops walking the earth.
- Mac references this in an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia saying that it would be cool to adopt the lifestyle of a hobo "travelling from town to town solving mysteries" but that it would be impractical.
- In the short-lived Fox series Danger Theatre one of the two rotating series was "The Searcher," a parody of Renegade and Knight Rider.
Someone needs help, so they called me. That’s what I do. I help people in trouble...They call me: The Searcher.
- The short-lived Judson Scott TV series The Phoenix also followed this model, except the man doing the walking was a space alien.
- Paladin in Have Gun — Will Travel is a classic example.
- The western series Wagon Train featured a group of people "walking the earth". According to Gene Roddenberry, the show's format of wandering from place to place and encountering different characters and adventures was the template for his own Star Trek.
- Merlin ends with Merlin appearing to be doing this as an immortal old man in the present day.
- A rare British example with Travelling Man, about an inspector wrongly accused of being on the take - on release from prison he set out to find a) his son and b) the man who set him up.
- From Australia, The Outsiders (about a man and his grandson travelling from place to place). This article goes into more detail.
- Kaiketsu Zubat uses a lot of tropes from Westerns, this one being one of them.
- BIONICLE's Toa Lesovikk, the former leader of the first-ever Toa team, wandered aimlessly through the Matoran Universe, driven by the guilt he felt for letting the rest of his team get slaughtered many millennia ago.
- The song by the group Lobo, Me and You and a Dog named Boo tells a story of a guy and someone else who is apparently his Love Interest, as he, his girlfriend and their dog are "travelin' and livin' off the land."
- Walk This Earth Alone by Lauren Christy is nothing short of an apology of this trope.
- One line in Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall.
I feel like walking the world, like walking the world
- Danish Metal band Wuthering Heights has several songs that cover this theme; "The Wanderer's Farewell", "Lost Realms", "Through Within To Beyond", "The Road Goes Ever On", "Highland Winds", and "Land of Olden Glory"
- Gogol Bordello has a song Wanderlust King, based on the real life of group's frontman, Eugene Hutz.
- A very popular subject of Celtic folksongs, the best-known being the traditional Tramps and Hawkers.
- "Walking Man" by James Taylor. The titular character wanders across the land by himself and never stops to speak with anyone. The reason for his restless and solitary existence is not explained.
- "King of the Road" by Roger Miller, and famously covered by The Proclaimers, among others.
- Terry Callier's "Lazarus Man" connects the wandering Jew legend with the biblical Lazarus.
- Metallica's "Wherever I May Roam".
- Odin did a bit of this, enough to earn him the nickname Wanderer.
- Medieval Christian folklore held that there was a Jew who taunted Jesus on his way to being crucified, and was thereafter cursed to keep living and wander the earth until the second coming. The details vary wildly between stories.
- This legend has also been conflated with Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus to the Roman authorities, so the "wandering Jew" may be "wandering Judas."
- The legend got its start due to Matthew 16:28, in which Jesus says “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Since the Second Coming still hasn't happened yet, some have speculated that one of Jesus's listeners must still be alive wandering the Earth anonymously.
- Many religions have tales of wandering saints who occasionally stop by to give help where needed (usually in disguise).
- There are also legends of Jesus himself helping carpenters or masons who were building churches or cathedrals. Of course, the story usually goes that they didn't know it was him until he had already left.
- Too many Dungeons & Dragons adventuring parties to count. (Although all those dungeons mean that they have some means of support, at least).
- Eldar in Warhammer 40,000 who feel too confined by their society's rigid structure are allowed to pursue the Path of the Exile and become Rangers, though they usually respond to requests from their craftworld to return and offer their skills (and sniper rifles) in defense of their race. The Orks have their own inversion- Ork society is based on any boy doing whatever he wants, as long as it doesn't get him krump'd by da Boss. For some younger, 'rebellious' Orks, the pressure is too much, and so they decide the best option is to enlist with the Stormboyz, whose training includes un-Orky training like marching and regimented training drills.
- Dwarf Slayers in Warhammer are banished from Dwarf society and doomed to seek out battles so they can meet an honourable death. Dwarves who have been disgraced must seek out their own death, and cannot commit suicide due to moral code (their gods would deny them a peaceful rest). They have 2 choices: Join the side of Chaos, or become a Troll Slayer. If they don't die as a troll Slayer, they try to become a Giant Slayer. If they still survive after that, they become Daemon Slayers. Its hinted at that there's a class beyond even Daemon Slayer (Dragon Slayer), but in-verse such a thing would be impossible as Daemon Princes would pose the bigger challenge. Dragon Slayers were apparently around for the War of Vengeance, which was centuries ago when there were a lot more Dragons and a lot less Chaos, so perhaps the most powerful ones were tougher than their contemporary Daemons.
- Promethean: The Created sets this up in the very metaphysics of the titular characters — stay in any one place too long, the locals get restless and the land blights beneath your feet. That, and the more you explore the world, the more of a chance you have of getting all that to stop.
- A lot of hardcore members of the Occult Underground in Unknown Armies end up like this. Some of them are on the run, some are forced to wonder around because of their archetype (The Pilgrim, the Masterless Man, possibly also the Flying Woman) and some just have nothing left back in their homes, so they set out seeking knowledge, power and trouble.
- The Silent Striders tribe in Werewolf: The Apocalypse are forced to do this by virtue of being forced out of Egpyt millenia ago by the Followers of Set.
- Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Secrets of the Surface World. The Wandering Hero archetype is a monk from China who wanders the Earth fighting against injustice and helping people.
- Rifts has dozens of characters who walk the Earth, but the most famous is Erin Tarn. An adventurer and historian, she has travelled across a large chunk of the Earth, and thanks to the eponymous Rifts, has been to at least one alien dimension. Almost every Rifts book has a section where she talks about either her own personal experiences there, or the experiences of a traveller who's been there who she interviewed.
- Non-aligned, non-landed mercenaries are the spaceborne version of this in BattleTech. If you don't have a homeworld or a favored House to work for, you just tend to set up shop wherever you can on one of the major hiring worlds and spend most of your time crisscrossing known space in between assignments. This was in fact Wolf's Dragoons' modus operandi before they were granted the world of Outreach.
- Underneath The Lintel, a play by Glen Bergen, is about the narrator following the clues left behind by The Wandering Jew (see Mythology, above) across the world. Note that the treatment of the Jew is not based in racism, as the original myth is.
- Trent in Freelancer is a young pilot who flies the space. The game provides quite enough missions to give him cash not only to keep himself well-fed and groomed, but also to outfit his ship with enough firepower to destroy entire space stations. Of course, Trent doesn't want to fly the space. The backstory sets up that he was just looking to make a quick buck and had it within his grasp before being sent back to well before square one, setting up the main game's plot.
- This is the plot of the RPG Romancing SaGa - a main character wanders around the world, fighting monsters and righting wrongs with no greater goal in sight, until the lord of all evil rises from his prison and the player gets the job of sending him back again.
- Most, if not all of the Wild AR Ms games. They're called "Drifters" for a reason. In Wild ARMs mythology, Drifters are less about walking the earth and more about living day to day, doing odd jobs (which tend to be monster hunting) to earn a living. They don't wander because they want to either: more than a few characters have become drifters by necessity rather than by choice, such that in the first four games, only two people have actively chosen to become Drifters (Cecilia in the first game, and Virginia in the third).
- Subverted in Orstead's Ending of the Final Chapter in Live A Live He does wander the earth but with nobody around.
- In The Legend of Zelda I, killing Ganon and saving Hyrule was framed as one of Link's many adventures; he was a wanderer already, and was going to wander off with the Triforce once he was done. He hung around to help the kingdom rebuild itself in Zelda II The Adventure Of Link. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass are similar wanderings (by different incarnations of Link), outside the Hyrule story. Majora's Mask occurred when Link was looking for Navi, his companion in Ocarina of Time.
- Ike from Fire Emblem Tellius does this. He turns down a chance to be a noble in order to wander around with his posse of mercenaries, and all of his endings involve him leaving Tellius forever, presumably to do some more earth-walking.
- This is one of the mist common endings in the Fire Emblem franchise as a whole. Every title has at least one character who, after the adventure is over, decides to travel around on his/her own.
- Guy in the ending of Final Fight, after clobbering fellow player character Cody for practically ignoring Jessica to get to the next big fight despite their epic adventure to rescue her from the Mad Gear gang.
- This trope is what you do in more or less every Console RPG. When you can get money simply by killing monsters (they somehow drop it or have it in their blood or something), freeing you from having to have any kind of steady employment, and there's an Item Store in every town that conveniently sells everything you might need to survive and an Inn in each of those same towns that can constantly keep you in perfect health, it seems like a lot more viable of an option than it does in Real Life. Especially if you can use magic. Conjuring your own food and water helps, as does being able to teleport in case of emergencies. Obviously, this means that this trope can be perfectly reasonable in fantasy settings.
- Street Fighter's Ryu embodies this trope. His ending in Street Fighter 2 even calls him simply a "wandering warrior."
- Zero at the end of the first Mega Man Zero game, separated from his allies for almost a year.
- This happens to Vayne and Pamela in their ending in Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis. This is probably because Pamela is a ghost, and she hasn't grown out of her habit of scaring people.
- If you don't find Ancardia in Maria's route of Knights in the Nightmare, she and the Wisp wind up doing this for the rest of their lives.
- Bartz (and his chocobo) in Final Fantasy V. He starts the game as a wanderer, following his father's dying wish that he carry out this trope. It's so much a part of who he is that he's given the essence of wind, Journey, as a Light Warrior. He returns to this after saving the world.
- In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, when he's threatened by Exdeath by being told that he'll wander forever in the void after being defeated, he calmly replies that that doesn't sound half bad, but then goes on to win anyway. He personifies the wind, after all, and the principle attribute of the wind is that it travels.
- Another Dissidia example: Golbez, being not only The Atoner, but the only Warrior of Chaos not to bite the bullet, does this until he feels that he will be able to join younger brother Cecil in the light.
- Another Final Fantasy example, though to a greater degree: Gilgamesh. To date, he has appeared in V, both remakes of the first, IV: The After Years, VI, VIII, IX, XI, XII and its sequel, Type-0, Dissidia 012, and XIII-2.
- It's implied that The Jedi Exile did this after the Jedi Council exiled her and she disappeared for ten years in Knights of the Old Republic.
- This is the modus operandi for Sonic the Hedgehog - every time he trounces Eggman and saves the world, he's off looking for the next big adventure.
- This is essentially what you do in Pokémon. You do generally have a goal in mind, beating the Gyms and the Elite Four, but beyond that you're just traveling around the region, occasionally helping out and saving the world. Pokémon X and Y gives a darker take on this with AZ, the former king of the Kalos region. As a result of using the Ultimate Weapon and sacrificing the lives of numerous Pokémon to revive his deceased Floette, AZ was granted immortality and began Walking the Earth in penance for his sins. He's been doing this for 3000 years.
- A staple of the Fallout series where the protagonists travel the Post-Apocalyptic Wastelands while saving the world.
- The Vault Dweller is sent out to do this in order to find a much needed replacement water chip to save Vault 13. Afterwards he is exiled from his Vault and returns to travelling the Wasteland. The sequel reveals he's eventually settled, founding a village and starting a family, then several years after his wife dies and at a great age, he mysterious vanishes into the Wastelands once more.
- The third game actually refers to the player character as The Lone Wanderer after his escape from Vault 101.
- Radiata Stories Human Path and its part of what makes that ending such a downer.
- Allowing for the 'walking' to be done by horse, boat or teleportation magic, The Elder Scrolls protagonists tends to do this, as a side-effect of the Wide Open Sandbox.
- The Dalish Elves in Dragon Age. After losing both of their historical homelands to overly ambitious humans, the Dalish chose to scatter to the four winds and exist as tribes of wandering nomads, rather than submit to human authority.
- Deconstructed in Lost Odyssey. The protagonist, Kaim, is an immortal wanderer who works as a mercenary to support himself throughout his endless travels. However, in the One Thousand Years of Dreams short stories it is revealed that this is far from a glorious or romantic existence for him. As an immortal, he has to watch those he meets, befriends, or falls in love with age and die while he remains the same. He desires a place to settle down and call home, yet this is the one thing he can never have, so he just wanders endlessly alone and has becomes bitter and apathetic to almost everything around him. It's little wonder that he comes off as such a Jerk Ass in the beginning. Fortunately, he gets better.
- This is the eventual fate of any player who insists on being masterless in Mount & Blade, wandering from country to country selling their services, expanding their own personal army, and effectively acting as self-involved mercenaries. It's possible to reach a fairly high level as a warrior without a liege or a home territory and spend much of your time wandering from city to city and village to village, sorting out problems and doing missions as they appear.
- In Majesty, the Rangers are big believers in this, as one might expect from a class whose raison d'etre is to illuminate your map. Once they're done with that, they have a tendency to leave your kingdom for extended periods of time, "traveling to distant lands". (Not that you find out what they do.)
- In Sluggy Freelance Oasis started doing this after the "Dangerous Days" arc (though so far we've only seen one of the Adventure Towns she's visited). But it turns out she did it until she found Podunkton, then stopped. So there wasn't much wandering after all.
- Ohforf'Sake, the main character of The Noob is continuing to wander the world of a MMORPG.
- Galatea in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!.
- Subverted in Cwen's Quest where Cwen is cold, hungry and miserable during a walking the earth phase in her past. Even in the present, while she is on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, her life is often shown to be less than glamorous.
- Para-Ten seems to be going this way, though it's nominally only a month's journey.
- Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger: Quentyn traded home for the stars and doesn't regret it.
- Monique encouraged Squigley to ride the rails as a wandering hobo in Sinfest.
- The Exiles in Homestuck, who took Skaia's self-defense portals to Earth and have been wandering its ruins ever since.
- Off-White revolves around a pack of wolves who are Walking the Earth to meet a mysterious sage.
- In Darths & Droids, it was revealed that Ben (who had played Obi-Wan Kenobi through the first three Episodes) ended up doing this in the interim between Episode III and Episode IV. Turns out he forgot to write or call and everyone had thought the worse, especially his sister Sally.
- Rip Haywire is primarily built on this.
- Glorianna is always on the move, partly because of her mercenary work, partly because of her quest, and partly because of her desire to avoid emotional complications.
- In Magician Edermask and his companions wander the continent in search of the secret to his immortality. It doesn't help that he's is hunted by Immortality Seekers and his Evil Twin Janus preventing him from settling down.
- Poppy O'Possum establishes that Poppy and her daughter have had to move from town to town, always intending to settle down and live a peaceful life, only to be driven out by circumstances, usually related to the Fantastic Racism toward opossums the world has. They aren't shelter-less, at least; Poppy's Super Strength allows her to carry her entire house as if it were a knapsack. That said, the comic takes place in the town of Eggton, and is about Poppy's attempts to not have to continue living out this trope.
- Question Duck and the guy do this. This is the reason why the work takes place in a lot of traveling settings.
- Common in Dimension Heroes, from Wyn traversing the Earth to the Dimensional Guardians traversing Creturia.
- New York Magician: Seems to be the Djinn's fate. Well, walking New York, anyways.
- The Walking Man, currently residing at Everything2, does nothing but.
- Land Games: At the end of Act 2, Brand is defeated by Serge. Defeated players are normally "captured" and basically made guests of the winner. Brand opts to go explore the planet instead.
- The Journal of the Walk and The Journal of Aframos Longjourney from The Wanderer's Library (in fact, Longjourney is a title specifically given to someone who walks the earth).
- Even Cartoon Network has done this kind of series, twice: Samurai Jack (where the main character seeks to go back to his era to stop the Big Bad from succeeding at his evil plans), and then Ben 10 (because of Comic-Book Time, the entire series happens over such a single summer vacation—a short enough period of time that the characters won't even miss school. Even the Christmas episode actually takes place during the summer).
- Sonic and Tails in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad in The Super Mario Bros Super Show.
- Scooby-Doo, in all its incarnations, is centered around this trope, as the teenage heroes roam the country solving mysteries for local townspeople, without getting paid, without having any recurring family or friends, and without ever worrying about school or jobs. Later spin-offs, adaptations and supplemental material refer to them as "Mystery, Inc.," though it's only in the more recent entries that they're generally recognized as investigators, and even then there never seems to be any payment involved. Their wanderings are subtly parodied in some spin-offs: at one point, the Mystery Machine drives through a snowfield to a scientific outpost, and a character cheerfully announces, "here we are gang, Antarctica!". As revealed in Mystery Inc, all the mysteries the gang solved in previous incarnations of the show actually happened in their hometown of Crystal Cove, which has made it famous as a supernatural hotspot, and most local business is based chiefly on tourism. So much so, that Velma and her tendency to bitterly point out that every last one was a hoax pose a significant danger to the local economy all by herself.
- [adult swim]'s Xavier: Renegade Angel is a parody; he thinks he's doing this, but while he's got the "travelling the Earth with no job or home" part down, what he does is the furthest thing from helping.
- The Hanna-Barbera series Devlin is a subversion since the main characters are part of a travelling circus (well, technically the title character is; his brother Todd assists him bike maintenance, etc, while both are the legal guardians of their sister Sandy).
- Any show (Hanna-Barbera or otherwise) that involves a travelling musical group (e.g., Josie and the Pussycats, Jabberjaw) can be considered a subversion, since they're likely on some kind of indefinite "tour."
- The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin starts out this way initially, but then they return to Newton Gimmick's house until the next adventure, making it another subversion.
- The Gaang must do this in Avatar: The Last Airbender, initially to get from the South to the North Pole and making a lot of detours/helping people along the way. After the first season, they get more involved with the Earth and Water militaries, their destination keeps changing, and they are often on the run.
- The Air Nomads lived their lives Walking the Earth, but they justify this trope in that they were 1. equipped with means to travel vast distances effortlessly (airbending and Sky Bison) and 2. very spiritual people who kept very few physical possessions, and could live in harmony with nature.
- While the nature of the Avatar's duties call for a certain amount of walking the earth, they do generally have homes they return to, such as Kyoshi Island and Roku's island, and Aang probably would too if not for certain events.
- Zuko spends three years
walking sailing the earth, and spends a couple of months wandering around in the Earth Kingdom. Said wandering did more for his character development than just about anything else.
- In The Legend of Korra, the sequel, Zuko explores the world again, this time as a peace ambassador, after he retires and his daughter takes over as Fire Lord. He stops walking the earth to help out in dealing with Zaheer when the latter and his friends break out in Book 3.
- Also in the sequel, it is mentioned that Toph also started wandering around the world in search for enlightenment, and hasn't been seen since... until Korra is led by spirits to her home in the swamp in Season 4.
- In Transformers Prime it's Wheeljack who does this with the galaxy. It's later revealed that a fellow Wrecker of his, Seaspray, did the same until Dreadwing killed him. Wheeljack then pursued him to Earth and has since given up the whole galaxy wandering- but now he wanders the Earth instead.
- Uncle Grandpa and Belly Bag drive the Earth helping children in need, though as with Doctor Who above the fact that he's a major Reality Warper probably helps with the logistical issues.
- Wander over Yonder is an interplanetary version of this.
- Teresa Carey is a blog written by a female solo sailor who gave up her home, her job, and most of her possessions to simply... sail around. She's been doing this for years by herself on a minuscule 27 foot long sailboat, taking up odd jobs here and there (if you look carefully in her blog, it's quite a list.) She even has has a scrappy but lovable animal sidekick, Dory her cat. Because she's technically not walking the Earth, she's the Lady of Adventure minus the tea.
- Jack Kerouac.
- Also Neal Cassady, Kerouac's best friend and personal hero, whom he immortalized in his books as Dean Moriarty/Cody Pomeray. A lot of Cassady's wanderlust came from the constant moves and travels of his childhood, especially on freight trains with his poor alcoholic father. That said, Cassady's a bit more of a case of Driving The Earth, especially when he helmed the bus Further while with the Merry Pranksters.
- Paul Erdős. He went from mathematician to mathematician, staying over and helping them in their work.
- Historical example: Miyamoto Musashi, the famed swordsman and author of The Book of Five Rings, spent much of his life as a ronin, wandering Japan as part of a Musha Shugyo (warrior pilgrimage).
- A generation later, Yagyu Jubei embarked on a similar pilgrimage and disappeared from all records for a dozen years.
- Chris McCandless, as documented in Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild, and the subsequent movie adaptation. This could be a subversion, though, as McCandless's swift death at the hand of mistress nature is a testament as to why Walking the Earth is usually a bad idea.
- It's a tradition of the old guilds, once one passes apprenticeship to become a journeyman and walk the Earth plying one's trade to accumulate knowledge enough to add to the craft. There are Real Life trades that not only allow, but make people walk (or drive, or sail) the Earth with their job and change often their employer: sailor, diver, oil rig worker, truck driver, miner, geologist.
- The Guild of Freemasons got its name from the fact that medieval stone masons were free to wander around, plying their trade in different towns, in a time when the average person would never travel more than a few miles from home.
- It's also a tradition amongst the devout, both amongst classical Christians and Muslims, to go on a pilgrimage (in the latter case, specifically to Mecca). One can book a flight, but one is supposed to walk, except, of course, when Oceans block the path.
- A man named Peter Jenkins did this in 1973, and wrote a book about it titled A Walk Across America.
- Jenkins went from coast to coast. His walk from Louisiana, where he ended the first book, to Oregon where he completed his journey, is chronicled in the second book, The Walk West. Not only did he make the cross-country walk, but he got married shortly before setting out on the second leg, and his wife went with him. He followed that up by walking through China.
- Upper-class European youth often took a "Wanderjahr" or year abroad between finishing school and the rest of their lives. They were supposed to soak up culture, usually in Italy or Greece. The "Gap Year" is the closest modern equivalent.
- Many nomadic societies throughout history (the Mongols are one prominent example). They live on land that isn't suitable for stable agriculture, so they make a living hunting, grazing livestock, and raiding towns or other tribes.
- There was a global nomad in the documentary Encounters at the End of the World. Growing up in Communist Eastern Europe caused him to cherish the freedom of travel. He kept a backpack packed at all times so he could up and leave at a moment's notice.
- Zero Dean is doing this right now. And you can decide where he goes next.
- A journalist named Mark Boyle decided to walk from Bristol, in England, to Gandhi's birthplace in Porbandar, India, without money or food, in sandals, relying entirely on the hospitality of strangers. He got as far as arriving in France, where it apparently came as a revelation to him that the people in France (a) speak French and (b) aren't that hospitable to non-French-speaking freeloaders who they think are asylum seekers. He quit in Calais and went home, where he is now living "without money"... and blogging about it.
- China, around the Spring and Autumn Period until the end of the Han Dynasty, had the Youxia, or wandering blades. These were typically armed men who spent their lives wandering about China (or even beyond) for various reasons. Some are merely poets, travelers, and philosophers whose swords are merely for protection as they contemplate a "floating" existence while some are complete thugs who'd be willing to raise hell for money.
- Rory Stewart walked from Iran to Nepal in 2001-2, then across Afghanistan in 2002, then went back to Scotland, put in his resume with the British civil service, and became a provincial governor in Iraq. And here we thought they didn't make Scots like they used to.
- On May 1st, 2011, Laura Milkins set out from her home in Tucson, Arizona to walk to her mother's house in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 2000 miles away. She arrived there on October 3rd at noon.
- Mildred Norman, known as Peace Pilgrim, took a vow to "remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food." She wandered the United States for 28 years before dying in an auto accident.
- This guy walked around America for several years as a faith pilgrimage, depending on God (through the means of whoever he ran into) to provide food and shelter without his asking for anything more than water or permission to sleep on church porches. It worked.
- Sam Salwei, a modern day Nomad, has been traveling for ten years adventure racing, rock climbing, teaching slacklining and partner acrobatics around the world. 400,000 miles later, the Peace Love Car is nearing the end if its life, to be memorialized in a film of its travels "Road to Wanderlust"