Bedlam boys are bonnie,
For they all go bare and they live by the air
And they want no drink nor money"
In media, the homeless are portrayed generally as being mentally troubled. At best, they're harmless Talkative Loons who suffer from Funny Schizophrenia; at worst they're violent drug or alcohol addicts who are more interested in getting their next fix than getting long-term help.
Technically, such a character may not even be homeless: sometimes they do have an apartment or other place to live. Their defining trait is that instead of living like an ordinary person (i. e. going to work, having a timetable, etc.), they seemingly aimlessly wander the streets, muttering to themselves and doing other strange things. If such a character is female and beautiful in spite of her unkempt appearance, it is The Ophelia.
Interestingly, the key operating word here is not "homeless", but "people". Usually, when only a single homeless person (or married couple) gets at least half a dozen lines, the view is sympathetic. They're just a character who has fallen on hard times. It's even possible that the hero knows them from before the Big Bad broke the world.
The trope is a partial Truth in Television as the mentally ill are disproportionally represented in the homeless population. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that 20-25% of the homeless population in the USA have "serious mental illnesses". The symptoms of many mental illnesses and addictions can make holding down a job difficult (and the stigma of a former brush with mental illness makes many employers wary of hiring them), and the loss of income may eventually lead to homelessness, while others may clash with roommates or landlords and find themselves getting evicted or struggling to find people who will rent to them or let them move in. The problem is compounded by the Patients' Rights Movement, which makes forcing someone into treatment more difficult than it used to be, and America (and the rest of the world) instituting the policy of deinstitutionalization with regards to the mentally ill during the 1960s and 1970s. The idea was that with the invention of many psychotropic drugs (Thorazine for schizophrenia, Prozac for depression, Valium for anxiety, Lithium for bipolar disorder, etc), instead of locking up the mentally ill in mental hospitals (possibly for years or the rest of their lives), they would be given medication and sent home, and the money saved would be instead reinvested into community housing and social support programs to help these patients reintegrate into the community.
- Hasegawa Taizou A.K.A. Madao (which stands for "totally useless middle-aged man" in Japanese) from Gintama is a subversion of this, being a lot more sympathetic than your average hobo. While almost everyone treats him like dirt, the only thing he's really inept at is finding and keeping a job and has actually forgone jobs for the sake of doing what's right.
- There's also Musashi whose only response to anything is "Can you eat it?"
- Arakawa Under the Bridge is about the wacky shenanigans of a community of homeless people (under a bridge in Arakawa) who are all... unique, in their own ways.
- In Heat Guy J, Daisuke enters Judoh's slum area, and encounters an emaciated man (who looks like Gollum huddled in an alley, repeating the word "Deeper" over and over again. He explains to Daisuke that he's transmitting radio waves to another universe. He appears again in the finale, still huddled in the alley, but doesn't have any lines.
- Iron Man: Tony Stark spent several issues in the '80s on the streets constantly drunk after his company was bought, his personal accounts frozen, and his apartments taken away.
- The Sub-Mariner wandered the Bowery as a homeless amnesiac for years before Johnny Storm found him.
- Subverted by the homeless guy Anne meets in Why I Hate Saturn, with whom she has a conversation about the term "homeless".
"...did you ever wonder who decided to call bums 'homeless'? Why did that start? It seems that as 'bums,' we were individuals, but as 'the homeless,' we're an institution."
- Justified by Ezrael in Vögelein, at least whenever he talks to Vogelein:
"Nobody'll see you. Everybody 'round here already thinks I'm a crazy old man, anyhow. They won't care if I talk to myself."
- Being heavily based in New York, Minimum Wage (a.k.a. Beg the Question) shows plenty of crazy homeless people.
- Garth Ennis' Punisher had quite a few. One storyline revolved around a homeless guy who lived in the New York sewers and had people abducted, killed, and kept in a huge pile under which he lay in order to remind him of his obese mother. Another story began with a splash page of a homeless guy on the street, being ignored, screaming, "I JUST WANT TO GO HOME!!"
- A Marshal Law story featuring a Punisher clone caller The Persecutor included gangs of cannibal tramps infesting much of New York.
- Subverted in The Invisibles where the crazy homeless guy is the mentor (Tom O' Bedlam).
- Transmetropolitan had Spider doing a column on these.
- In Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Nny describes his comic strip, Happy Noodle Boy, as being "very popular with the homeless insane."
- Deadpool had a mentally ill homeless man as a sidekick for a while. His name was "Ratbag", and Deadpool was so amused by his schizophrenic ramblings that he hired him as a "biographer". At the end of the arc, while facing the telekinetic villain Black Swan, Deadpool forced him to use his powers to cure Ratbag's illness. Once the man was lucid again, 'Pool ordered him to escape as he made what was then his Last Stand. One of the character's first unquestionably heroic acts.
- Robin: When Tim is trying to figure out how Drury Walker was in more than one place at the same time he interviews a number of Gotham's homeless, the first few seem rather well put together if a bit Properly Paranoid given that they live on the streets of Gotham but the last one rambles utter nonsense in response to Tim's question. Of course any attempt to explain what is actually happening with Walker would sound like utter nonsense since he's still the demonic entity Charaxes and is somehow asexually reproducing mini versions of his former self in an abandoned YMCA.
- Strongly subverted when Gin, Hana, and Miyuki, the central three characters in Tokyo Godfathers, show us a side of Tokyo rarely seen in anime.
- In Stranger Than Fiction a crazy homeless man frequents Ana's bakery.
Homeless Guy: Are you gonna tax the bathroom?
- John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness. The Big Bad takes mental control of the homeless people around the church and uses them to prevent the protagonists from escaping.
- C.H.U.D. is another exception. The subterranean-dwelling homeless are portrayed (mostly) as nice people, and one of the heroes runs a homeless shelter. Then the homeless all start mutating, but that is mostly because so little is being done for them.
- In The Pursuit of Happyness, there's one bum who thinks that the bone density scanner is a time machine. The main characters are aversions, however.
- Robin Williams in The Fisher King.
- In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, when Kevin is walking alone in Central Park at Night, he meets many Tramps, especially one that scares Kevin. Avoided later. has Kevin eventually befriend a bird lady that turns out to be not so scary after all.
- Mary Poppins sings a song about the Old Bird Woman, presenting her in a sympathetic light, and this eventually leads to an uproar at the bank his father works with because young Michael would rather spend his money feeding the birds.
- Subverted by the local bum in UHF, who looks and speaks like a crazy bum. However, when he asks George for some change, he takes exactly $1 in coins and hands George a dollar bill in return. Later, when apparently trying to do the same thing to the villain, he receives only a single penny, which he instantly recognizes as being a valuable collector's item. He invests the money he makes on the penny wisely — by buying up all the remaining U62 shares, thus saving the station.
- Played with in Dirty Work:
Mitch: Hey, homeless guys! I'll tell ya what. I'll give you a dollar each if you'll go into this building here and run around yellin' and screamin'.
Homeless Guy #1: Uh, that's very nice, but I think what you probably need are, like, some psycho, out-of-control homeless guys?
Homeless Guy #2: Yeah, we're more the broken, spiritless, I've-lost-the-will-to-live type homeless guys.
Mitch: How about for two dollars?
[cut to the homeless people running into the building screaming]
- Around the World in 80 Days (2004) adaptation starring Jackie Chan has a crazy homeless man played by Rob Schneider.
- The B-Movie Street Trash plays this trope straight and very harsh.
- The killer in the slasher film Open House turns out to be a crazed vagrant who is killing realtors because he blames them for his homelessness.
- One of these appears briefly in Anthropophagous 2000. He tells the main characters to turn back, then eats a pregnant woman's vomit.
- Mouth to Mouth: Averted. Most of the characters are homeless and apparently sane, if quite influenceable. Also, even though Mad Axe appears to play this trope straight, it's later subverted when he reveals it's all just a masquerade with the following quote:
"The more fucked up people think you are, the more likely they are to leave you alone."
- The protagonist of The Soloist is a mentally disturbed homeless.
- In Monsters, the only person left in the Texas Evacuated Zone is a mentally ill bag lady who apparently didn't evacuate with the sane folks.
- The last sequence of Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One involves a crazy, drunken homeless guy who wanders into the film production and delivers a profane rant.
- Subverted in Sneakers. Martin encounters one saying "The government took my home!" outside the building where he's going to meet the NSA agents. Martin points at an election poster for the current President and says, "Tell it to him." Later when Martin and Crease realise they've been conned, they race back to the building and find it in the process of being demolished.
Crease: Oh Marty, you didn't fall for that one did you?
Homeless Guy: The government took my home!
- The Babysitters Club. During the books when Stacey lived in New York, she talked about a homeless woman named Judy who talked to her sometimes. She is mildly mentally unstable but has her good days and bad days.
- Chocoholic Mysteries: Royal Hollis in Clown Corpse, who isn't quite normal after getting out of the army (and his head injury doesn't help). He spends most of his time camping out rather than relying on professional aid, which is part of what gets him in trouble in the book. Thankfully, by the end, his daughter has convinced him to get mental help.
- In the Discworld series, a number of Ankh-Morpork's beggars are like this, including:
- Foul Ole Ron, a completely insane Talkative Loon with a sentient stench that outclasses him who employs Gaspode the Wonder Dog as a "thinking brain dog."
- Duck Man, a perfectly normal "upper-class gentleman down on his luck" type, save that he cannot recognize that there is a duck on his head. At least, everyone else thinks he has a duck on his head. The Duck Man knows he has no duck on his head. The duck's views on this are unrecorded.
- Altogether Andrews, who has seven personalities, none of whom are named Andrews. Terry speculates that the original Andrews was a medium with a mild personality who has been completely overtaken by ghosts or spirits. Although it appears that most of his personalities are pretty sane, or at worst eccentric. (Most. It's implied that one, Burke, is Ax-Crazy.)
- Divergent: The Factionless are those who do not fit the faction system, whether because they do not have the qualities to join a faction, or reject the whole idea. They live on the edge of society, and faction members are careful not to interact with them on account of their "savage" nature. In the second book, however, it's revealed that the Factionless operate a relatively civilized community, led by Evelyn Johnson-Eaton, who has ambitions to topple the faction system and install a government with her as the leader.
- In Terry Pratchett's non-Discworld novel Johnny & The Bomb, part of the Johnny Maxwell Trilogy, the adventure is kick-started by the discovery of Mrs. Tachyon — the local bag lady (who is very much like Foul Ole' Ron, complete with random gibbering, detachment from reality and vile smell, to the fact she can be considered somewhere between a Distaff Counterpart and a precursor model) — lying unconscious in an alleyway.
- The mysterious wise woman of the streets from The Days Go So Slow by Nicasio Latasa becomes an Eccentric Mentor for the protagonist Curren and helps him change his life. She is also a seer with precognitive powers, and it is mentioned that in spite of being extremely unkempt, she retained traces of beauty.
- In Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz, the antagonist has psychic powers and can create dangerous golems from his own mind. One takes the form of a disgusting, cruel vagrant to torment a man, who actually is homeless and is not bad or crazy at all.
- The novel There is a Happy Land by Keith Waterhouse features "Uncle Mad," a mentally simple homeless man whom the ten-year-old (nameless) narrator becomes friendly with. The narrator finds Uncle Mad strange but does not see anything frightening or unwelcome about him, and they develop a genuine friendship of sorts. Eventually Uncle Mad is blamed for the murder and (implied) rape of a local girl, which in reality was committed by an older boy. The narrator doesn't really understand the implications of this, but helps Uncle Mad escape before he can be arrested.
- This trope gets considerable play in Aunt Dimity's Christmas. The villagers' reactions to the news that Lori and her family had a collapsed vagrant airlifted to hospital ranges from incredulity to hostility. Lori herself also recounts how she is often uncomfortable when confronted by homeless people (having so nearly been one herself); of the villagers, she says, "I was the last person on earth qualified to judge my neighbors. I had too much in common with them." Lori and Fr. Bright also have an argument over the man's sanity, especially as the evidence of his recent past suggests he has done highly unusual things and may have been committed to a psychiatric hospital; the priest later admits, "Where there was goodness, I chose to see madness." Rev. Bunting chastises the villagers for their attitude as well.
- In the Circle of Magic books - specifically, their sequels - Daja meets with a homeless man who seems crazy but is surprisingly helpful. He returns in The Will of The Empress and catches Tris' eye. Together Tris and Briar conclude that he actually has the phenomenally rare ability to see and hear on the wind, which, combined with his attempts to repress it, and all the horrible treatments administered to try and make him stop it, and the constant treatment as if he is insane, have driven him half-mad already. They help him and it's suggested at the end that he's going to be able to function (relatively) normally in society from now on.
- Nina Tanleven: The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed features Jimmy, the bum who Nine knows from the feeding program where she and her father volunteer. He comes off as a little crazy, but hes really a nice guy. Also, hes only part-time homeless; he lives in Phoebe Watsons cellar when its too cold or wet outside, declining an upstairs room despite her offering.
- While trying to get back home, Bella from A Dog's Way Home is caught by a homeless man named Axel. He's a mentally ill and heroin-addicted veteran that refuses to stay at a homeless shelter because he thinks people are tracking him. Bella refuses to leave Axel because she feels he needs her. She stays with him until he dies of an overdose.
- Eatbugs from Tailchaser's Song is the cat equivalent. He's an old, raggedy cat that often goes into random states of mania that lead to him running off somewhere. He's actually an amnesiac Lord Firefoot.
- The Laughing Man from When You Reach Me, though how much is an act and how much is real is in question. This makes a nice Shout-Out to A Wrinkle in Time, where Mrs. Whatsit is described as looking, in day-to-day life, like a homeless tramp as A Wrinkle in Time is in-universe Miranda's favorite book.
- Worm: Subverted with Kevin Norton, who walks around London calling himself "the most powerful man in the world". Everyone shrugs him off as a crazy hobo. Kevin calls himself that because, for reasons he doesn't understand, Scion, the undisputed most powerful being on the planet, does what Kevin says. To Kevin's credit, once he realizes that Scion is obeying him for some unfathomable reason, he does try to give Scion good orders, like "rescue people from disasters" or "help us fight the Endbringers".
- In the Bas-Lag Cycle, the vagabond Spiral Jacobs is a harmless loon who wanders the city via Extradimensional Shortcuts, vandalizing the buildings with spiral graffiti as he goes. Until he's revealed to be an enemy archmage who's Obfuscating Insanity while he prepares a Summoning Ritual to annihilate the city.
- That Hideous Strength: In a convoluted series of events that could've driven him crazy if he weren't already, a homeless man who barely speaks english (and often isn't comprehensible when he does) called "the tramp" is mistaken for Merlin, mooches off of a baffled coven of pseudo-scientific fascist devil-worshippers while not being afraid or even curious about them, then the real Merlin shows up and casts a mind-control spell on the tramp, finally forcing him to impersonate Merlin as part of the real Merlin's plans to destroy the fascists. For his part, the tramp himself was unaware of all of this, and just wanted to eat and drink as much as possible. It's difficult to say whether C.S. Lewis wanted this Played for Laughs, Played for Drama, or both.
- In The Tripods trilogy, most of them are vagrants, people whose minds were broken by the caps they wear. They were either too strong for the caps and were broken or already had mental illness. Villagers see them as deserving of pity and have shelters they can stay in and get a meal. Ozymandius, the man who recruited Will to the resistance, pretended to be one so he could get close to suitable young people not yet capped.
- Raines did an episode that actually deconstructed this particular variation of the trope, where the deceased of the case Raines has taken on is a murdered homeless woman, who turns out to have had her identity stolen, among other tragic circumstances. When he talks to his therapist about the case, she notes after noticing his discomfort with the case that many times people aren't "comfortable" thinking of homeless people as real people who are worthy of normal respect and kindness, because they would rather think of themselves as naturally superior than admitting that they too might possibly end up in similar dire straits. The show managed to do it without seeming too much like a Very Special Episode... and in that the show still got canned anyway.
- And sure enough, Raines eventually admits that he took against the victim because he was afraid that he may end up like her one day. His therapist cottons on to the fact that the reason for this fear is that he's worried he's going mad, and mental illness is one of the top causes of homelessness.
- Tom Green once had a crazy bag lady in one of his skits. PONES
- The Law & Order episode "Darwinian" has a take on the "human trash" concept. A homeless man is on trial for murdering another homeless man over an orange. The defense lawyer argues that his desperate situation caused him to kill just to survive (hence the title), which should excuse him for his crime. McCoy's counter-argument: saying that homeless people should not be judged by the same standards as the rest of us is saying they are less than human. And in this particular case, letting the murderer go free would further suggest the life of the homeless victim was worth less than that of someone more fortunate! (He wins.)
- In another episode (and the Law & Order: UK episode based on it), a man is charged with assault after beating up one of these who had been terrorizing and harassing people in the neighborhood for years, with the final straw being the guy attacking and injuring his wife. Despite the DA's usual arguments about how people can't take the law into their own hands and the man's implausible claims of acting in self-defense—insisting that the guy was attacking him despite both of his legs being broken—he's acquitted.
- In Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, episode "Babes", people are attacking homeless people. The Squad decide to lure them out with, in Fin's words, "the laziest bum they ever met." Cue Munch roaming the streets shouting conspiracy theories.
Stabler: Gotta admit, he does crazy good.
Fin: What are you talking about? It's the same crap he spouts every day, just louder.
- In the Monk episode "Mr Monk and the Miracle", three homeless men hire Adrian Monk to find out who killed their friend. They're portrayed pretty sympathetically, and Natalie gets on Adrian's case for his OCD-induced freakouts over their dirtiness. They also pay Monk with gravy, because homeless men make their own homemade gravy.
- Heroes did this with Claude, the Hobo. HRG shot him, but Claude survived, and then he stayed invisible to hide from the Company, becoming an incredibly misanthropic homeless man in the process. He steals everything and doesn't care, he hates everything and everyone, but he takes care of a flock of pigeons.
- An episode of Small Wonder featured Foster Brooks as a homeless man who almost takes over the Lawson household.
- Exidor, leader of the Friends of Venus and later a worshipper of O.J. Simpson, on Mork & Mindy.
- A Seinfeld episode had Kramer try to recruit homeless people to pull rickshaws for a start-up business he and Newman were partnering on. The three candidates they rounded up fit this trope pretty well.
- iCarly makes a few references to these early in the show's run. One example being Sam needing to bring a baseball bat to a corner shop because of a crazy hobo living in the alley next to it.
- In an episode of Cop Rock, a homeless encampment was being cleared out. So, what do the homeless people do? They broke out in a song and dance number.
- The West Wing had an episode dedicated to Toby arranging a military funeral for a homeless Korean War veteran who happened to buy a coat which he donated to Goodwill, and then die in it on Christmas Eve. His brother fits the "crazy" trope nicely.
- In the JAG episode "The Guardian", Harm and Mac defend a homeless former Navy SEAL, in civilian court, who is accused of killing three men while thwarting a convenience store robbery.
- Averted in an episode of Saved by the Bell, in which the gang befriends and helps a homeless man (and his hot homeless daughter).
- In the Bones episode "The Woman In The Tunnel," one of the guest characters is not only homeless but also a Shell-Shocked Veteran. He is discovered in a tunnel hundreds of feet underneath the city near the body of the episode's victim, and when taken in for questioning, is very twitchy and uncommunicative. When they have him take them underground, however, he mellows out greatly. He is homeless as a choice, taking care of the other homeless people as atonement for accidentally killing a pregnant woman and her child on the battlefield.
- The Babylon 5 episode "The Long Dark" had a homeless man on the station, a Shell-Shocked Veteran of the Earth Minbari War, who was constantly freaking out and declaring that the station was doomed and that an invisible enemy was coming to kill them. Turns out, he was crazy, but he was also right about the invisible enemy, which he ended up helping the station's security to defeat.
- "Kill Moves" from Everybody Hates Chris, seems to be a classical example of this (plus he knows martial-arts!), until we find out that he's actually from a rich family, with a high level of intelligence, used to work in a number of qualified jobs until the economy changed, then he saw a vision of Gazoo telling him to follow his true calling and become a homeless person.
- Star Trek:
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine showed one (played by Clint Howard no less) in a time travel episode. Doctor Bashir is horrified that the guy has been dumped on the street rather than getting the psychological treatment he so obviously needs. Grady later attempts to convince Dax that he can turn himself invisible, though he does correctly guess that she's an alien (and one of the good guys, at that).
- Star Trek: Voyager had the 29th-century captain Braxton degenerate into this after getting stranded in the 20th century.
- 30 Rock has a character called Moonvest often hanging around near the titular building.
"Gimme your fingernails."
- An episode of Eagleheart featured crazy homeless people whom the government wanted to kidnap and experiment on so that their dreams could be used for fuel, or something. Subverted in that the hobos really were from another planet and the whole thing was just a ride at an amusement park in the vein of Universal Studios' "E.T. Adventure".
- '' Orange Is the New Black':
- It's revealed that Lolly suffers from an untreated mental disorder (likely paranoid schizophrenia), and because of it, she was never able to hold a job for very long. She was therefore chronically homeless. She found a way to cope ("quiet the voices"), but it ultimately wasn't much help to her. She probably could be living a relatively normal life with the right treatment, but she fell through the cracks in the system.
- In an earlier episode, there's an elderly prisoner named Jimmy. She suffers from dementia, and while in one of her delusions, mistakes the altar in the chapel for a diving board, and predictably gets hurt. The prison can't keep her (even in psych), because she is such a risk to herself and others, she doesn't have any family or friends on the outside who could take care of her (or at least get her into long-term care) and the state is unwilling to commute her sentence to a nursing home. She is given "compassionate release," which, in this case, means she was simply released out onto the streets, with the idea that "whatever happens, happens." It's unknown what becomes of her, but it likely wasn't anything good.
- Eerie, Indiana: In "No Brain, No Pain", the crazy homeless man Chappie is rumored to an axe murderer called the Mad Whacker or Eerie's last living liberal. Marshall and Simon discover that he is in fact Charles Furnell, the smartest man on Earth. He invented the Brainalyzer in 1978 so that the knowledge and intelligence of brilliant people could be preserved for future generations. However, his wife Eunice Danforth stole it in order to fix the 1980 presidential election. To ensure that this could never happen again, Charles destroyed the Brainalyzer, scrambled his brainwaves, and transferred his mind onto an 8-track tape of the Knack song "My Sharona". Even in his brain scrambled state, however, he retained enough knowledge to build another Brainalyzer.
- Rickety Cricket of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia doesnt start out as one, but after his Sanity Slippage, he becomes an unhinged, animalistic, drug-addict who talks at length about being raped by and raping feral dogs and gleefully assists the Gang in their Zany Schemes in exchange for booze and drugs.
- On My Name Is Earl, an old friend of Earl's is on The List. Back in the day, Earl and Randy got kicked out of the house by their father (again), and a Cloud Cuckoolander named Raynard took them into his home. Sometime later, the tables were turned; Raynard got evicted from his apartment and attempted to turn to Earl for help, but Earl turned him away due to being married to a moody, pregnant Joy. Raynard took shelter in a Bookmobile they had abandoned earlier (they had pretended it was a tour bus and they were rockstars to get girls to sleep with them), and ate some hallucinogenic berries (and the books). He spouted nonsense (having forgotten what it was like to interact with people), and sincerely thought he was married to a woman named Irene (who turned out to be a raccoon). Earl helps him detox from the berries, and attempts to help him reintegrate into normal (well, normal for Camden, anyway) human society, but that doesn't work out. Earl realizes that Raynard was much happier living in the woods, and sets him up with proper camping supplies.
- Homeless Jimmy of CZW, formerly XPW, where he got the "gimmick" because for him, wrestling really didn't pay(yet). Although given both were garbage feds, one could argue the homeless wrestlers weren't the only crazy ones.
- This is how Jimmy Jacobs referred to the FIP members of The Age Of The Fall who had never officially debuted for Ring of Honor. Especially Milo Beasley, who had interfered with a match on behalf of the ROH Age Of The Fall.
- Unknown Armies:
- The canon NPC Jeeter. A partial subversion, as while he is insane, he's also a cosmic-level mystic.
- It's not just Jeeter. A surprising number of Crazy Homeless People are also powerful wizards. The most likely reason for this is that you need to go crazy to become a magickal adept, and clinically insane people have difficulty maintaining homes and jobs. So when people on the street ask for change, give it to them, or they might trap you in some kind of dark alternate-reality Minneapolis.
- In Warhammer, Flagellants basically combine this with Church Militant. They're folks who have lost everything and are convinced The End Is Nigh and the Empire is about to collapse, so they want to die gloriously fighting mankind's enemies. Very fond of Epic Flail.
- The Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd can go from a kindly old woman to a bawdy prostitute in two seconds flat. She carries around a rag doll and sings nursery rhymes to it and essentially stalks and sexually harasses Anthony. Justified, as she went insane after attempting suicide with arsenic following her rape and her husband's deportation
- The Lost from City of Heroes are a villain group consisting of homeless people who are in varying stages of being mutated into Rikti. In the lower levels, they talk like the typical portrayal, ranting about "the Change", but as their levels and rank increase, the Lost start to bear a closer resemblance to them in powers, weaponry, and speech patterns, and at about Lv. 30, the transformation is complete and the Lost faction is completely replaced by them.
- Condemned: Criminal Origins and Condemned 2: Bloodshot are all about beating up crazy homeless people.
- Several in Grand Theft Auto IV, one of whom lives well within earshot of your apartment.
- The hobos in Kingdom of Loathing, especially their Talkative Loon leader, Hodgman the Hoboverlord.
- Ollie the Bum from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.
- Crazy Dave in Plants vs. Zombies. Maybe. He calls himself your neighbor, which suggests that he has a home, but he runs a shop out of his car, wears a pot on his head, and speaks in gibberish. If the Third-Person Shooter Garden Warfare is to be believed (assuming it's canon), he actually owns a mansion. There's even a fountain statue of him!
- Team Fortress 2's Soldier has taken a turn for the crazy and hobo-esque as of the Pyromania update. The item set from that update casts him as a questionably paranoid Conspiracy Theorist living off expired soup and killing people with weapons made of junk metal after being kicked out of the apartment he shared with MERASMUS!. He's already had situations in the past where he doesn't have the luxury of eating, so this trope is a pathetically hilarious continuation of his circumstances and his extant lack of grip on reality.
- The very first enemies that Johnny fights in Shadow Hearts: From the New World are the belligerent bums inhabiting the abandoned Erick Theatre.
- Used cunningly in Deus Ex where there are lots of crazy hobos walking around muttering about everything from government conspiracies to having seen aliens in the sewers and all in between. Most of them are just nuts but a few of them are telling the truth.
- A homeless person is the protagonist in Crazy Old Bag Lady.
- Uncle Sensei from Divekick mixes this with Wisdom from the Gutter. He's this due to poor skills in money management and Mr. N's actions of bribing his way through.
- The man that became the Gibbering Prophet in Darkest Dungeon was never exactly mentally healthy, but being exposed to the eldritch horrors that the Ancestor was trying to summon broke his mind completely.
- Spamton G. Spamton from Deltarune was the number-one rated salesman back in the day with the help of a mysterious voice on the telephone. But after trying to "see too far" for his own good, everything crashed and burned around him. By the time the player first meets him, he's been reduced to living inside a dumpster, still babbling about the glory days and trying to strike deals even as he tries to take Kris's soul for himself. And as the superboss of Chapter 2, he manages to become even less lucid.
- Senor Cardgage from Homestar Runner, who lives in a shrub, carries a plastic grocery bag of half-melted candy bars around with him, and is prone to malapropisms and calling people weird names. "Alonzo Mourning to you, Myrtlebeth. Say hello to my tackle box!"
- In the SagaTheYoungin video "A Hobo Caught Me Lackin At Taco Bell", Saga gets chased by a hobo who stalks him when he goes to Taco Bell at 4 A.M. Thankfully, he managed to get away. His roommate also almost got jumped by a homeless guy who used a public electric scooternote as bait.
- There's a recurring, homeless, black man in Polk Out. He's a murdering, drug-dealing rapist.
- The formerly late Doctor Hobo in VG Cats. His speech was an endless stream of word salad, and his behavior ranged from "erratic" to "incomprehensible". He refers to a dead rodent as his cell phone and seems to have convinced himself that he was a doctor.
- The Author Avatar of Least I Could Do's current artist is a fat homeless guy who draws for food.
- Melody from Sounds Like a Melody is a rare webcomics example of an aversion/sympathetic version.
- Everyday Heroes has Scary Mary. She is definitely crazy but has lately shown signs of being on to something.
- The Word Weary features a recurring homeless character named "Robert." Though sometimes the butt of jokes and occasionally wildly inappropriate, he's treated relatively sympathetically.
- Nigel in Schwarz Kreuz is a perceptive, nerdy thirteen years old kid who Jumped at the Call. He's a huge asset to the team, at the same time being quite nutty.
- Chuck Sonnenburg of SF Debris re-interprets Captain Jonathan Archer of Star Trek: Enterprise as this. From his review of "Strange New World":
Chuck: [Archer] rants at the drop of a hat, listens to things that aren't there, talks to dogs, gives rambling speeches, and does things without thinking about whether people will live or die. In other words, someone found him sleeping under a pile of newspapers in an alley muttering about putting cameras in his eyeballs, took off his tinfoil hat, and put him in charge of a starship.
- This girl on Not Always Friendly speaks their language.
- One has the narrator be not-so-nice to the local babbling hobo. That night, he has a nightmare (implied to be supernaturally imposed upon him somehow) of the night the homeless guy lost his mind: Witnessing his family being horribly killed in a car accident after their vehicle was hit by a drunk driver, leaving him unable to utter anything but insane gibberish.
- Another has a woman suddenly begin fighting with empty air, screaming at nothing to "Fuck off! Leave me alone!" After a Time Skip of a year or so, the narrator sees her in the park, tiredly muttering "Leave me alone..." at nothing and looking way worse than the day she lost it, implying she also lost her home along with her mind. When he turns to leave, he catches sight of something hovering near her...
- That Guy with the Glasses:
- It features Bum Reviews, starring Chester A. Bum, who talks extremely fast, goes off on bizarre tangents, and says of every movie (except Citizen Kane), "OH MY GOD THIS IS THE GREATEST MOVIE I'VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE!" Because during the movie, he gets to be inside "a warm, warm building!" With Chester's popularity over the years, various knockoffs across the internet (especially from the various producers from Channel Awesome) have arisen:
- Lester B. Bum (played by Lewis Lovhaug) is essentially the same as Chester, but he is blonde and instead of movies, he reviews comic books.
- The Spoony Bum is a clone of Spoony made by Doctor Insano that lives with them as a roommate. He behaves just like Chester, but he hangs around in the sewers where he finds his chili dogs.
- The Cinema Bum (played by Brad Jones) is not the happy-go-lucky coked-up weirdo that Chester is. Instead, he is depressed, bringing up the fact that he is homeless and begging for food. He eventually is killed by Travis Crabtree during the The Cinema Snob's review of The Legend of Boggy Creek during a psychotic break.
- To be extremely original, Phelous in his review of the comedy-horror film ThanksKilling introduced Pester Z. Bum. He saves Phelous from a foul-mouthed sock-puppet and vomits a copious amount into a bag after asking if he has booze before dying on the spot from alcohol poisoning.
- Aleister D. Homelesssb'sterrd is a crazy homeless actor that lives in Haganistan within Diamanda Hagan's compound, reviewing famous plays and just making a general nuisance of himself. It takes a lot to make Chester A. Bum look normal by comparison, with Aleister having a long-distance relationship with Shark Wayne, he has failed to get several roles in cinema due to either his dopey acting, not acting dopey enough or comedically weak reasons and for just being a Cloudcuckoolander. Hagan tries to kill him, but can't because of the reason.
- Michael Swaim of Agents of Cracked has not one, but two homeless wives. (One for the house, one for his car, you see) Both of them are appropriately nutty.
- In SuperMarioLogan, we have the drunken hobo who made his first appearance in "Mario's Hobo Problem!".
- Assuming that Adventure Time 's crazy old Royal Tart-Toter is a homeless drifter who spends his days wandering around and hurting himself, he definitely qualifies as this trope. Averted in a later episode, where he's seen living in a mental hospital and is doing a bit better.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force had a babbling homeless man as a recurring minor character.
- The STD-ridden, so-called "Werewolf" from the very first revival episode of Beavis and Butt-Head.
- In an episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Dr. Blight lures Gaia away from Hope Island and is able to neutralize her powers. The disoriented newly-mortal wanders into a homeless community containing mostly sane people now down on their luck but a few of the crazy variety as well (including a man who thinks he's William Shakespeare).
Gaia: Where am I?
Marge: You got Alzheimer's or something? You know who y'are, don't ya'?
Gaia: I... I think so... I... I mean... yes! I'm Gaia, the Spirit of the Earth!
Marge: She'll fit right in.
- In the Dexter's Laboratory episode "That's Using Your Head", Dexter meets a crazy old man who babbles nonsense ("Since you no doubt have your own of walnuts, pictures of birds, butterflies, brick brick brick, et cetera!") and wears a pile of electronics on his head. Dexter mistakes him for a Mad Scientist trying to make contact with aliens ("Why stock three-wheels when the P-p-p-p-power Wheels outperform the rest? It's real simple, folks: we are not alone!") and tries to help him with his "invention", which does lead to him being accidentally transported to an alien world.
- An episode of Family Guy had Peter briefly convert to Mormonism. One of his wives was Linda, the homeless lady who yelled things outside the grocery store.
"I ate a tube of Crest for dinner!"
- In Gravity Falls, we have Old Man McGucket, a Mad Scientist who lives in a garbage dump and who even introduces himself as the "local kook" in one episode. His introduction in the episode "The Legend of the Gobblewonker" says it all. Plot relevant explanation is eventually given for both his madness and homelessness; he fried his brain with an experimental Laser-Guided Amnesia device trying to forget various things he'd seen and done, most notably scientific experiments he had been involved in which nearly ended the world and caused him to be briefly sucked into the Nightmare Realm, and also including everything from car accidents to demons. The more things he forgot, the less stable and functional he became until his downward spiral caused him to lose everything and live in the dump with no memory of his life before he became the local kook. He eventually gets somewhat better after regaining his memories, and gets a new home in the finale.
- Invader Zim:
- "The Sad, Sad Tale of Chickenfoot" has a crazy old man standing in a fast food restaurant, arguing for an inordinately long time with the Apathetic Clerk behind the counter that they forgot his coleslaw, when he's holding it in his hand.
Crazy Old Man: I want my slaw!
Clerk: You have your slaw, sir.
Crazy Old Man: I want my slaw!
Clerk: You have your slaw, sir.
- Dib also has a conversation with a hobo in a burger joint in "Gaz, Taster of Pork." As the homeless man leaves he suddenly kidnaps another patron and runs off without anyone noticing.
- "The Sad, Sad Tale of Chickenfoot" has a crazy old man standing in a fast food restaurant, arguing for an inordinately long time with the Apathetic Clerk behind the counter that they forgot his coleslaw, when he's holding it in his hand.
- Spongy from King of the Hill. Been on the streets "Since Reagan kicked me out of my mental hospital." "Now, Spongy, you know he had a good reason for doing that." His portrayal, oddly enough, is fairly sympathetic, as Hank and his friends sympathize with Spongy and help him when some "cool" teenagers bully him off of his panhandling so they can do it themselves.
- Robot Chicken loves this trope. In one episode, they have their own airline, complete with in-flight movie performed by "Crazy John" ("You ain't got no legs, Lt. Dan!"). In another, a man navigates his daily life as if it were Dragon's Lair complete with dodging a homeless man spouting lines like "Hey, boogie boogie, my brain is an antelope! Have some mustard cause it's Easter in your face!" Yet another episode involved a number of insane homeless people wearing Clark Kent's discarded suits from when he changed into Superman, and Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson and Batman at first think it's really Clark.
"They're in your head if you look inside a microscope or a Q-Tip you're bound to find them because they're so prevalent I'M MADE OF CHOCOLATE!"
- The Simpsons:
- The Crazy Cat Lady. Subverted in that she does have a house and when Marge mentions she gave her money, the Cat lady pulls out a bundle of cash and asks how much she owed her again. She is just really crazy.
- Homer pretends to be one of these for money and pulls it off surprisingly well.
- In one episode, the family meets a hobo while riding a freight train. He assures them that he's "a singing hobo, not a stabbing hobo", before launching into a song about "stabbing people with his hobo knife".
- Chief Wiggum takes his son Ralph with him to "talk sense into this raving derelict".
Wiggum: Whoa, slow down sir, slow down ...Who's stealing your thought?
- South Park:
- Hilariously parodied in the episode "Night of the Living Homeless". At first, the sudden influx of homeless into the town is treated as a Zombie Apocalypse, though they moan for "change" rather than brains. Randy Marsh even kills one of his friends when it's revealed he lost his home, and is slowly turning into one of them. Later in the episode, the boys go to a town that destroyed itself over the situation. You see, eventually some of them (somehow) amassed enough change to buy houses. The citizens of the town were freaked ("The person living right next door to you could be homeless and you wouldn't even know it!") and treating the homeless as something other than human, purged their town to devastation.
- Played strait with Eric Cartman at the end of Post Covid: The Return Of Covid. In the revised future, Cartman spends his time living on the street, drinking alcohol, and screaming obscenities at people.
- Todd McFarlane's Spawn features the eponymous hero often conversing with, protecting, and living with the homeless. The portrayal of them varied. Often they were alcoholics and drug addicts, or at least mentally unhinged, but good people. The irony being that the homeless were often more morally grounded than the show's other characters who lived in relative wealth.