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Disposable Vagrant

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"You need subjects for your Servant project, and I can provide them. Beggars, prostitutes, street scum — those who will not be missed by anyone of consequence..."
Sheriff Truart, Thief II: The Metal Age

Vagrants, the homeless, drifters, runaways, society's castoffs; there are many, many names for them, none of them nice. Most people look away and pretend not to hear the Hobos as they ask for change, if not outright disdain and mistreat them for the crime of having been left behind by society — or having left society behind. With so many moving around, who would even care enough to notice the bum who is usually in the street corner of Trope and Tan every morning has gone missing?

And that is precisely what the Serial Killer, Mad Scientist, hungry monster, and The Mafia are counting on. These exceedingly vulnerable Innocent Bystanders are frequently killed and abducted for fun, for science, for spare parts, to sate hunger, or for a spare dead body. They can be sure the police won't push the investigation too hard; at least not until an attractive young white woman becomes one of the victims.

If anyone does notice, it'll be The Hero, the King of the Homeless, an aid worker, or beat cop who notices familiar faces disappearing. Usually, though, quite a few will die before the culprit is ever caught.

Compare the Disposable Sex Worker (persons targeted for their "immoral" profession as well as their powerlessness), and Kill the Poor, for the slaughter of the impoverished on a much larger scale. Contrast Missing White Woman Syndrome. See also Joggers Find Death, the health-conscious analog.

Sadly Truth in Television.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Androids 17 & 18 from Dragon Ball Z were originally ordinary humans that were kidnapped and experimented on by Dr. Gero.
  • In Durarara!!, Yagiri Pharmaceuticals hires kidnappers to abduct drifters and illegal aliens who won't be missed to be used in their medical experiments.
  • Made in Abyss: Children aren't the only people Bondrewd wants to use for his wicked experiments. Before Reg and Riko shown up in his place, Srajo and her entire fleet ran into him. When they are negotating procedures for access to the lower layers, Bondrewd announces plans to experiment on her crewmen because they are "Juusou", outcasts who were supposed to be thrown away upon birth. Of course Srajo doesn't let him have it, and fights him alongside her entire fleet.
  • Rebuild World: The slums, whose residents aren't much better off than vagrants, are used as Cannon Fodder in multiple ways, and also for experiments.
    • The One Nation Under Copyright government hands out free food to slum residents to test if they're safe to sell: Mystery Meat from slain monsters or dubious Lost Technology devices, and vegetable products from radioactive fields. Sometimes residents suffer hideous mutations, and they're filled with harmful nanomachines that build up in the blood stream.
    • Mad Scientist Yatsubiyashi sets up a clinic in the slums counting on the residents there being Too Desperate to Be Picky, offering to treat them for free at the cost of being subject to his Playing with Syringes, to circumvent regulations surrounding human trials. Tiol gets used for this, making him a Tragic Monster with monster Nanomachines injected into him, before breaking free to cause havoc.

    Books On Trope 
  • From Things I will do when I become Evil Empress, Tips for Evil Geniuses and Scientists:
    Experiments requiring a human test subject shall be performed on kidnapped anti-social bums who live alone in large cities, not someone who people will notice the disappearance of, like a female student at the local high school.

    Comic Books 
  • In Astro City, the (purported) origin of the hero Roustabout is that he was a surveyor, captured with rural workers and drifters, and experimented on. Only he survived and escaped.
  • One Batman story-arc Discussed if not outright Deconstructed this; after one of their own is killed, one of the Gotham's many homeless communities (nicknamed "Cardboard City") debate Batman's effectiveness when dealing with anything less than high-flying supervillainy; in a twist, it turns out the murdered bum was actually the heir to a massive fortune, who deliberately walked away from it all.. The community's leader, a paraplegic Vietnam vet nicknamed "Legs", became a semi-recurring character throughout the '90s.
  • In Cavewoman: Raptorella, Raptorella mentions that she began Hunting the Most Dangerous Game using the homeless as her prey, and gradually worked her way up to more challenging targets.
  • Discussed and Deconstructed in Diabolik, where Clerville has a large homeless population (some of which even having banded in a community calling itself the "People of Shadows") and the authorities almost completely ignore them unless there's some politician who wants to get rid of the "parasites". That in spite of said parasites actually playing a major role in the series, as the "People of Shadows" are the ones who taught Diabolik how to get around in Clerville's immense underground gallery network (thus helping him get away from the police again and again).
    • Exploited in "Ransom for Diabolik": one-shot character and vagrant Matteo has managed to capture Diabolik, and to move him without being noticed tries him up to a wheelchair, dresses him in poor and ruined clothes, and carries him around in broad daylight, knowing that nobody would actually give two hobos a second look.
  • In Doctor Who Magazine strip The Screams of Death'', the Doctor and co find a tramp who died from having his eardrums burst, and are confused, due to the man only having a few days left to live anyway and the scream being a female voice. The Big Bad turns out to have killed him as a dry run for his scheme to Make Wrong What Once Went Right by eliminating his treacherous subordinates from history by killing their ancestors.
  • One issue of The Flash has him team up with the Pied Piper to stop a Serial Killer with a virulent hatred for the homeless.
  • Subverted in the first arc of The Fuse — two homeless people are the murder victims but the killings turn out to have been personally motivated.
  • Morbius's first victim (after his best friend and the crew of a ship he came to America in) is one of these.
  • Norman Osborn claimed this is how he faked his death; he snuck out of the morgue after his fast-healing kicked in, found and killed a vagrant of his general height and build, and dressed him in the Goblin costume. Clearly, he was of the mindset that such folks are trash, which fits his character perfectly.
  • The short-lived Marvel Universe comic series The Order (2007) had "zobos", down-and-outs turned into zombified cyborgs by the Big Bad.
  • The Punisher: One story has a King of the Homeless live inside a massive pile of corpses he uses as a larder (being severely scarred from the time his morbidly obese mother had a heart attack and fell on him. He had to eat his way out).
  • Robin (1993): Strader Pharmaceuticals' Project Street-Level targets Gotham's homeless and other downtrodden for unwitting human experimentation.
  • Runaways. It seems that The Pride preferred to use female teen runaways for their annual Human Sacrifice.
  • In Shaman's Tears, Joshua Brand and Jon Sable team-up to hunt down a pack of monsters living in the sewers that have been preying on the homeless of New York.
  • Since Spawn is particularly protective of homeless people, a lot of them end up being killed by his enemies to lure him out.
  • It is revealed in a flashback in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye that the Institute was kidnapping homeless people to do brainwashing experiments on.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Cathy is abducted by Them! while on the streets as a runaway, and it seems their usual targets for human traficking are others on the streets. If other people defy them however they're not above making an example of citizens more likely to be missed.
    • In Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed Diana has a hard time understanding how people could allow their fellow man to live on the street while they themselves are homed and do nothing to try and stop homelessness or help them with most people ignoring and deriding them. She's then deeply upset to learn how many missing people are not being looked for by authorities and that human trafficking is such a threat to marginalized communities. She is able to dismantle the major human trafficking ring attacking the part of New York she is living in.
  • In one X-Men story, The Watch, Marvel's biggest Jerk with a Heart of Gold himself Wolverine befriends an elderly homeless man he rescues from an angry driver. The old guy's only prized possession is an antique pocket watch he intends to give to his son someday. When the guy goes missing, Logan realizes something is up because the old man left the pocketwatch behind, something he'd never do. So Wolvie stakes out the local homeless shelter, and, get, whaddaya know? Bloodscream and Vermin, the Mooks of evil cannibalistic sorcerer Mauvais, are abducting homeless people for their master to eat to regain his powers. Mauvais figured nobody would notice a few derelicts, drifters, and druggies going missing. But he didn't count on Logan. Cue him kicking much fanny and stopping the kidnappings, albeit too late to save his friend, after which he tracks down the guy's son and gives him his estranged father's pocket watch — the closest thing to a happy ending The Watch gets.

    Fan Works 
  • In Abraxas, Alan Jonah's militia utilize refugees from Moscow's destruction as manual labor and Unwitting Test Subjects.
  • Concerning a Drifter plays with this, as much of the girls Ryuuko's captors kidnapped were, in some way or another, vagrants (being backpacking tourists, migrant workers, and drifters), making them easy targets, as few would/could report them missing or keep track of them, which causes much of the conflict in the fic, as Ryuuko was kidnapped and trafficked while on a nomadic trip and Satsuki tried to find her. Likewise, the fact that Ryuuko was a vagrant makes it harder to get the authorities involved or to track down her captors.
  • In Dæmorphing: The Guided and the Lost, the Animorphs learn that the Yeerks have figured out how to sever people from their anchors, and have already successfully separated several homeless humans from their daemons (and Alloran from his guide tree). They're able to save one of the humans before she can be severed, who then becomes a refugee in the Hork-Bajir valley.
  • Danganronpa: Memento Mori: While moonlighting as a Serial Killer, Luka targeted vagrants who she believed would not be missed.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, the Republic Intelligence Service takes full advantage of this trope, after starting with the ever-so-slightly-more-defensible "experimenting on criminals sentenced to death." They buy slaves by the shipful, many of whom fall into this category. Even some of the pirates they work with, who usually don't do this because of an agreement with more honest parts of the government, are squeamish.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho becomes frustrated at a homeless man one night and murders him.
  • An American Werewolf in London. Three of David's victims in his transformed state are Ted, Joseph, and Alf (who is in fact played by the same guy who was the doomed tramp in Night of the Big Heat), a trio of homeless men living in a dump. Averted insofar as their deaths are quickly discovered and reported in the news, and, like all of David's other victims, their spirits haunt him to make him feel guilty about killing them.
  • Classic 1980s B-movie C.H.U.D. plays this straight and also inverts it. Several homeless people start turning up missing, but only two workers at a soup kitchen seem to notice or care about this. Later, it's revealed that they're the victims of other homeless people who have been mutated into killer monsters due to exposure to illegally dumped toxic waste and have begun to munch on people who aren't deemed disposable by the powers that be. Along with being a horror movie, the film also functions as a Take That! against Reagan-era policies toward the homeless and mentally ill.
  • In Deewaar, a homeless man is found dead on a train with no identification. Nobody seems to care much until Ravi realizes that the man is Anand, his father.
  • In The Devil-Doll, Lachna, Malita's servant girl, is "a peasant half-wit" from "a Berlin slum". Marcel and Malita are Mad Scientists who use her as a test subject. She is rendered an eight-inch-tall zombie.
  • In Die Another Day, a doctor provides Magic Plastic Surgery for his patients by re-writing their DNA. This process requires DNA from other people; the doctor mentions that most of this is harvested from vagrants and other people who won't be missed.
  • Donor combines this with Organ Theft for a story about a criminal gang which is murdering homeless people in Mongolia and harvesting their organs.
  • Extreme Measures opens with one of those vagrants seeking help from Hugh Grant's character, having escaped from the experiments. Having looked such a man in the eye, he's less willing to accept the later justification that such people were making a Heroic Sacrifice to help those paralyzed by spinal damage walk again.
  • In The Flesh and the Fiends, Burke runs a flophouse which gives him access to unending stream of transients and drifters whom no one will miss that he and Hare murder in order to supply cadavers to Dr. Knox.
  • In The Freakmaker, a tramp getting drunk under a bridge becomes the first victim of the human/plant hybrid that climbs out of the river.
  • In A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, the vampiric Girl at one point attacks and drains a random homeless man, her only victim in the film who isn't an Asshole Victim.
  • The Hand: The first person murdered by the hand is a one-armed wino who bumps into Jon in an alley and harasses him.
  • In Hard Target, the Big Bad is the head of a hunting business that allows rich men to hunt homeless or down-on-their-luck war veterans. Homeless or down-on-their-luck so no one cares, war veterans to make it interesting.
  • The Man Who Never Was chronicles the true story of MI-5 dressing up the body of a deceased man as a fictitious Marine officer carrying papers regarding a planned invasion of Sardinia, with the intention of misleading German intelligence. In real life, the body was that of a vagrant, described by one of the organizers as "a bit of a ne'er-do-well and that the only worthwhile thing that he ever did he did after his death".
  • In The Matrix, Agent Smith takes over the Matrix avatar of a human, which happens to be a vagrant, to attack Neo in the subway, and said human perishes when Neo kills Smith. All humans branched on the Matrix are equally disposable to the Machines, anyway.
  • New Town Killers: While chasing Sean through the subway, Alistair shoots a homeless man's dog for barking at him. He then shoots the vagrant For the Evulz.
  • Night of the Big Heat, the first onscreen victim of the aliens is an old tramp living in a cave out in the woods. None of the other characters are aware of his death.
  • In Not of This Earth (1957), Johnson, the alien agent on Earth, invites three homeless men to join him for dinner so that he can steal their blood for his experiments.
  • Power Rangers (2017) has a subversion. Rita Repulsa goes around killing homeless people for their gold teeth, but because Angel Grove is a small town and she's not hiding evidence, it's immediately noticed and the police declare her a serial killer.
  • In Rat Race, when a heart meant for emergency transplantation gets damaged, the character responsible for delivering it suggests looking for a 'drifter', killing him, and cutting his heart out as a replacement. At which point the driver starts asking questions about the character's background. Enrico does catch on quickly, though.
  • In Stuck, Brandi and Rashid use this trope to justify letting Tom die after Brandi hits him with her car and leaves him in her garage to die, having decided that he’s “just” a homeless man.
  • In Surviving the Game, the Big Bad is the head of a hunting business that allows rich men to hunt homeless or down-on-their-luck war veterans. Homeless or down-on-their-luck so no one cares, war veterans to make it interesting. No, this is not a redundant entry.
  • Alex, the Big Bad of TAU, deliberately kidnaps people living on the fringes of society for his AI research, reasoning (correctly) that they won't be missed.
  • The Theatre Bizarre: "Vision Stains" is about a writer/serial killer who cannot dream. She extracts fluid from her victims' eyes as they die and injects it into her own eye so she can experience the others' lives as they flash by in their dying moments. She preys on female vagrants, runaways and prostitutes, believing that only women are truly creative, and claims that she only targets women who want to die.
  • Theatre of Death: The fourth victim of the killer, and the first murder shown on screen, is a drunken tramp murdered under a bridge in Paris.
  • Torture Garden: The first victim Colin murders at the behest of the cat in "Enoch" is a tramp he finds sleeping in the barn.
  • In Venom (2018), the Life Foundation kidnaps homeless people to use as human guinea pigs in their (usually deadly) experiments with the symbiotes. Because the film takes place in San Francisco, which has a high homeless population, nobody notices. One of the scientists is utterly disgusted by the experiments, and reaches out to Eddie Brock to help her bring the Life Foundation down. Eddie is equally horrified, and at first tries to subtly gather evidence to bring to the police... but then he sees that one of the homeless people who was kidnapped is his friend Maria. At this point, Eddie forgets all about staying hidden and tries to break her out, which of course has immediate consequences.
  • Willy's Wonderland: The murderous animatronics have a pact with the town's sheriff that they'll leave the townspeople alone if they're regularly fed. Drifters coming through town are offered a large amount of money to clean up the abandoned restaurant overnight, none of them suspecting that they're about to get eaten by Willy and his friends.

  • A Stephen King novella called Apt Pupil about a teenager and a Nazi war criminal hiding in a small American town who both kill homeless people.
  • In Breathers: A Zombie's Lament, we never actually see the zombies hunting for food, but homeless victims are mentioned a few times, and that it's a good rule of thumb to go after those whose disappearances will go unnoticed.
  • Used a few times in Joseph Payne Brennan's stories.
    • In Slime, homeless drifter Henry Hossing is the slime's first victim. He's just passing through, and consequently, no one notices his disappearance — everyone just assumes he moved on. By the time someone does discover that he's missing, the initial assumption is that Henry himself is the murderer. Only after people begin surviving the slime's attacks to tell their story do the police realize Henry was just another victim.
    • In The Corpse of Charlie Rull, chronic alcoholic Charlie Rull dies of a heart attack and falls into a polluted swamp, where he's resurrected as a zombie and goes on a killing spree. Both because he's homeless and because the story takes place in such a short span of time, Charlie's fate goes undiscovered at first. Even his fellow homeless men only realize something happened to him when he turns up at their campsite and attacks them.
    • In The Impulse to Kill, an interesting variation is provided when the protagonist chooses not homeless people to kill, but criminals who he dupes into attempting to rob him because he believes no one will care if would-be thieves are killed while committing a robbery. He's right. At first, at least. Past a certain point, the police start getting suspicious that so many people keep getting killed attempting to rob him, forcing him to move and begin again in a new town.
    • In The Barren Place, the descendants of the Iroquois living in Seneca Center regularly sacrifice drifters, vagrants, and even gainfully-employed people passing through town to the spirits of their ancestors, figuring nobody will realize they've gone missing. The protagonist, Sannerton, isn't homeless, but he has come to Seneca Center to write undisturbed and hasn't told anyone where he is, allowing the tribe to kill him without arousing suspicion.
  • The ending of Mark Twain's The Carnival of Crime in Connecticut reveals (after the narrator has vigorously beaten his conscience to death) that he has a large stock of homeless people in his basement for sale.
    In conclusion, I wish to state, by way of advertisement, that medical colleges desiring assorted tramps for scientific purposes, either by the gross, by cord measurement, or per ton, will do well to examine the lot in my cellar before purchasing elsewhere, as these were all selected and prepared by myself, and can be had at a low rate, because I wish to clear out my stock and get ready for the spring trade.
  • The Extinction Parade. Vampires hunt humans for their blood. They normally drink the blood of poor people, expecting society to chalk up their deaths to street crime.
  • In Fat White Vampire Blues, vampire protagonist Jules is a sympathetic character, but is not a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire; he may munch the occasional criminal if they come after him, but mostly he preys on those who won't be missed, and there's no shortage of those in New Orleans. Subverted at the end, however, when he finds out that the seemingly anonymous homeless woman he fed on at the very beginning of the book was a beloved pillar of the community who constantly did everything she could to help others despite having nothing herself. This makes Jules realize that no, he's not "just eating", he really has spent the last hundred years murdering people.
  • In Final Watch, when a renegade vampire needs to murder and drain five dozen people to ascend into a High Vampire, he goes after migrant workers, knowing that, since they are mostly not registered, nobody is going to miss them.
  • Galax-Arena: The children kidnapped and whisked away to the planet Vexak are mostly street children from slums in third world countries. They're targeted because nobody important will miss them.
  • Many of the children taken by the Gobblers (at first) in His Dark Materials fit this profile. The Gobblers target children that no one important will miss, whether that means the children of the poor or the children of the mistrusted Gyptian boat people.
  • In Hope and Red, the biomancers, who are a frightening hybrid of Mad Scientist and Knight Templar, view the population of Paradise Circle — a largely impoverished and criminal neighborhood — this way.
  • In The House of Night series, the Red Fledglings, Stevie Rae included, have all killed and eaten homeless people. This is treated as something humorous and mildly embarrassing.
  • In The Migax Cycle, the lower classes are often treated like they are worthless, and Mililabs has no trouble getting away with running experiments on them.
  • In the Modesty Blaise novel The Night of Morningstar, terrorists order a potential new recruit to murder a teenaged drug addict abducted at random from the streets as an If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten! test.
  • A somewhat funny, if you have a dark sense of humour, variation occurs in C. S. Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet. The protagonist walks into the plot, despite not being actually homeless or disposable. But as a lecturer on vacation, he, as he blightly tells the men about to kidnap him for nefarious purposes, doesn't exist until the academic year begins. Why, he can vanish off the face of the Earth and nobody will look for him...
  • In the sci-fi book Parable of the Talents, the Christian America cult started out with putting vagrants in their concentration camps because nobody would notice or care.
  • The Place Inside the Storm: The brain implant that's supposed to cure autism was originally tested on homeless people. For all Loki knows, he might have been one.
  • The villains of the novel Rainbow Six use homeless people as test subjects for their plan. The book spends quite some time following them as they have no clue what's going on.
  • Discussed in The Rhesus Chart regarding Our Vampires Are Different. Unlike movie vampires, the ones in the novel are essentially serial killers, so need to pick victims that no one will miss. That means the elderly or homeless runaways, not pretty young things who can afford to go to nightclubs.
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan, the vampaneze are a clan of vampires who are biologically compelled to kill anyone they drink from (other vampires generally only take a small amount of blood without much harming their prey). A prophecy makes the villain of the series into their absolute ruler, who none dare disobey. They begin to target homeless people as an easy way to eat while staying under the radar, as the fight between them and the protagonist's clan of vampires escalates. This later bites the vampaneze back when the vampires recruit the homeless community to aid them, and they're all too happy to fight back.
  • Subverted by Sherlock Holmes. His network of homeless people sees basically everything that goes on in London, and all he has to do to get information is to provide a hot meal.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise Relaunch: One alien civilization dependent on the Ware has been feeding it their homeless population. So much so they're starting to run out, and are seriously considering bumping up to Disposable War Veterans...
  • Michael Stackpole's Wolf & Raven short story "Fair Game", set in the world of the Shadowrun Tabletop Game. The Pacific Northwest Hunting Club is made up of wealthy people who hunt humans once per month. They choose their prey from among the SINless of Seattle, who are not part of the system and whose deaths are not even investigated.
  • Whitley Strieber's novel Wolfen. The title monsters have the New York ghettos as their hunting grounds. They kill and eat the abandoned of humanity (homeless, drug abusers, outcasts), those that will not be missed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: The Count got his moniker from the twin-injector marks he left in the fifty-six vagrants and prostitutes he murdered to perfect the drug Vertigo. Despite this serial killing spree, no-one knows who the Count is until the drug hits the streets and starts killing pretty young socialites, and our hero Oliver Queen only finds out when his sister Thea gets high and crashes her car.
  • Babylon 5. Subverted in "Exogenesis", in which Lurkers are being taken over by Puppeteer Parasites in what seems to be the usual Invasion of the Body Snatchers-type plot. However, it's pointed out that if you were secretly trying to take over the station, you wouldn't choose people with no influence. Turns out it's entirely voluntary.
  • On an episode of Barney Miller, a homeless man comes to the station to report that several other homeless people have mysteriously disappeared. Harris goes undercover as a homeless person and discovers they had all been kidnapped and forced to work as slave labor on a farm in North Carolina.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Anne", the Monster of the Week takes street kids into a hell dimension and works them for many many years, which is equivalent to only a few days on Earth. He spits them back to Earth just before they die of old age.
  • In The Cape, several lived in the train yard where Vince "died". They're being arrested on trumped-up charges rather than killed though.
  • The UnSub in the Criminal Minds episode "Legacy" kidnaps homeless people, prostitutes, drug users, etc. and kills them. He's only caught because a detective whose OCD forces him to catalogue everyone he comes into contact with on the streets notices that 63 of them have disappeared without a trace.
  • Doctor Who, Old and New, uses this a lot, as a vagrant is usually the first person to discover the Monster of the Week. Sometimes the vagrant knows the Monster of the Week.
    • "The War Machines" featured a vagrant who had slept in an empty building the villains had taken over. They kill him.
    • "Resurrection of the Daleks" begins with a homeless guy witnessing some escaping test subjects being gunned down by the Daleks' human minions, before he himself is shot as well.
    • "Bad Wolf"/"The Parting of the Ways": The Dalek Emperor spent centuries covertly abducting prisoners, refugees, and the victims in deadly game shows. He then converted them into a new Dalek army.
      "The prisoners, the refugees, the dispossessed, they all came to us!"
    • "Rise of the Cybermen": Cybus Industries spent months rounding up the homeless to become the first alternate-reality Cybermen; thanks to Cybus' control of the media, this went almost completely unnoticed.
    • "Daleks in Manhattan"/"Evolution of the Daleks": The Daleks abduct the homeless of "Hooverville" to be converted into a Pig Man workforce. By the time the Doctor and Martha arrive, however, the situation has got bad enough that it's made the front page of the newspapers, although the police still haven't done anything.
      Martha: Have you been to the police?
      Solomon: Yeah, we tried that. Another deadbeat goes missing, big deal.
    • A resurrected (again) Master in "The End of Time" finds himself scurrying across the junkyards and finds himself amongst two homeless men who notice his "uncanny resemblance" to Harold Saxon. Driven by Horror Hunger from his botched revival, it's heavily implied he eats them alive.
    • Later subverted in the final scene of "Day of the Moon" when a Creepy Child approaches a homeless man and says, "I'm dying. But I can fix that. It's easy, really... see?" She holds out her hands, and we wait for her to suck his life out in some gruesome fashion... but instead she begins to glow, and then erupts with the golden energy of a Time Lord regenerating.
  • FBI: Most Wanted: In "Man Without a Country", a homeless man gets sealed inside the subway train and killed by the Deadly Gas Sarkov releases.
  • In the Fringe episode "The Bishop Revival", a WWII Nazi tests out his ultimate weapon near a homeless person to see if he dies.
  • Grimm featured an episode with this part of the villain's plans. Teenage runaways are kidnapped for Organ Theft, as human organs are being sold on the black market for wesen who use them to make drugs.
  • Happy! has a fantastical version. Episode 6 reveals that Happy is only one of a legion of Not So Imaginary Friends in New York City, many of whom are abandoned and depressed now that their human friends have grown too old to believe in magic. Raspberry and Mr. Blue's son turn out to be kidnapping, torturing, and basically genociding the abandoned, vulnerable ones.
  • In The Invisible Man, the doctor who helps Hobbes has been harvesting brain cells from the homeless.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
    • In one episode Dee and Charlie think they've become addicted to eating human flesh. Since they can't bring themselves to eat people who are already dead, despite finding a morgue attendant willing to let them bring a hot plate into the morgue, they convince a homeless kid to come up to their apartment and start rubbing him with spices. He manages to get away before they can bring themselves to go through with it.
    • The Gang will often call on the same homeless man, Rickety Cricket, time and time again for various unspeakable jobs; selling drugs, wrestling a psychopath, kneecapping a dancer. Once he was even hunted.
  • In The Killing's third season, the Pied Piper targets teenage homeless girls, who have been forgotten by society; this allowed the killer to operate unnoticed for years.
  • At least one murderer on Law & Order: Criminal Intent was hoping that the police wouldn't look too hard at a bunch of dead homeless people turning up. Big mistake.
  • A Mad Scientist in Lois & Clark states she always uses people who won't be missed for her experiments... and is very distressed to learn the latest subject was an undercover reporter for a major newspaper.
  • The Magician: In "The Illusion of the Deadly Conglomerate", a down and out friend of Tony's contacts Tony for help after a friend of his disappears from a homeless mission, and the Sinister Minister running the mission claims to have never heard of him. Tony investigates and discovers this is not the first vagrant to have vanished from the mission, and eventually learns that they are being murdered and their bodies used to help rich criminals fake their deaths.
  • The New Avengers: One of the victims of the giant rat in "Gnaws" is a tramp.
  • One episode of The Pretender featured a research doctor who was testing his resuscitation drugs on the homeless — which meant stopping their hearts.
  • In Primeval, one of the Monsters of the Week was a prehistoric crocodile-like beast that had been feeding off the homeless population of a construction yard for years. It only becomes a problem when one of the workers burns the creature's lair (thinking it was a hobo den) forcing it to look for prey elsewhere.
  • In RoboCop: The Series, the Mad Scientist Dr. Cray-Z does this to get a living brain for his experiment. Unfortunately, his accomplice is simply dumping the bodies, and the police are suspicious, to say the least, of homeless people being killed by a Serial Killer who takes their brains.
  • Squid Game revolves around hundreds of people facing financial ruin being offered a chance to participate in a Deadly Game for tens of millions of dollars in prize money, all for the amusement of a few rich guys. The mastermind in particular was a cynical man who believed Humans Are Bastards, and his final "game" is a bet on whether the "trash" homeless man across the street would have anyone come to his aid within the next few hours. He loses, but unfortunately doesn't live to see Rousseau proven right.
  • In the Tales from the Crypt episode "Mournin' Mess", a secret society of ghouls start a funeral service for homeless people (that they kill) so they can eat the corpses without the risk of being caught gravedigging. Slightly subverted since it's implied that the ghouls have to bribe city officials to keep the police from investigating the violent murders too closely. Some of the city officials were members of the (G)rateful (H)omeless (O)utcast & (U)nwanted (L)ayaway (S)ociety.
  • The Granada Television adaptation of Sherlock Holmes: In the episode "The Norwood Builder" the titular bad guy kills a vagabond sailor to frame his victim for murder.
  • Jimmy McNulty from The Wire both exploits and inverts this trope when he fabricates a fraudulent serial-killer case around the corpses of vagrants, in order to attract media and political attention and divert funds to real police work. Exploited, because he only gets away with it by doctoring files on deaths nobody otherwise cares about and inverted because "drawing attention to the vulnerability of the homeless" is the reason given for openly courting the media (although he's fully aware that what really gets it into the headlines is the juicy "serial killer" angle). He even "abducts" one live vagrant (putting him up in an out-of-the-way dosshouse) to add a sense of urgency to the case.
  • The X-Files: In the episode "731", one member of the Syndicate informs Scully that Japanese Deadly Doctors and Evilutionary Biologists were performing horrible experiments on lepers, homeless, and insane people in the USA. However, they usually have no scruples about abducting anybody, not excluding their own family members or fairly high-profile FBI agents.

  • In Macabre's "Burke and Hare" start killing vagrants so they can sell their bodies.

  • The Last Podcast on the Left refers to this idea as the "Less Dead". They note how multiple serial killers, such as Gary Ridgeway and Robert Pickton, were able to get away with their crimes because their main targets were prostitutes, whose deaths garnered little official attention, or black prostitutes, who got basically none.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Daigo gains powers of vampirism and decides to use them against the wealthy elite. Before that, however, he and his gang first drive over to a low-income neighbourhood to test his newfound power on an innocent drifter that no one will miss. Daigo's blood transforms him into a monster, who then starts wreaking havoc around the neighbourhood — which draws the attention of one of the protagonists since he lives on said street.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu
    • Cthulhu Companion adventure "The Rescue". A group of werewolves deliberately targets derelicts; by victimizing those without friends or money, they ensure that the police are not unduly concerned.
    • Glozel Est Authentique! by T.O.M.E. The Shub-Niggurath cultists in Glozel perform Human Sacrifices using drifters and other strangers not likely to be missed.
    • Shadows of Yog-Sothoth adventure "The Hermetic Order of the Silver Twilight". Carl Stanford has an enchanted cane that drains the Power from those it touches and stores them as Magic Points in the cane. He has his minions bring derelicts to him so he can drain them until they die.
    • The Asylum and Other Tales adventure "The Asylum". The worship of the Great Old One called Arwassa requires a human sacrifice each month. The cultist worshippers sometimes send out kidnappers into neighboring counties to capture derelicts and vagrants for this purpose.
    • Masks of Nyarlathotep
      • Chapter 3 "Egypt". After Nitocris is resurrected, she creates an international organization to infiltrate countries around the world. Its task is to create a racial, religious, or economic underclass in each country that can provide Human Sacrifice victims for Cthulhu Mythos cult activities.
      • Chapter 4 "Kenya". The Cthulhu Mythos cultist Tandoor Singh occasionally lures in a street child or prostitute to sacrifice to the Small Crawler, an aspect of the deity Nyarlathotep.
      • Chapter 5 "Shanghai". The Order of the Bloated Woman chooses its victims from among those who are poor and have no friends.
    • The Unspeakable Oath magazine #18 scenario "Dog Will Hunt". A serial killer named Eben Murrow (who is also an insane Cthulhu Mythos sorcerer) normally targets strangers passing through town and ne’er-do-wells who will never be missed by the locals.
    • White Dwarf magazine
      • #63 adventure "Draw the Blinds on Yesterday". The Cthulhu Mythos cultists who live on Southwell Farm perform Human Sacrifices each month using hitchhikers from roads around the farm.
      • #97 adventure "A Capital Offense". In the Back Story, a Shub-Niggurath worshiping cult sacrificed tramps to consecrate an altar to their deity.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In the supplement Volo's Guide to Waterdeep, a mimic monster took the shape of a statue in a city square, killing and eating drunks on dark nights for two years before an investigation was launched and it was discovered. A nearby sewer was found to be filled to a depth of 60 feet with human bones.
    • Supplement RR3 Van Richten's Guide to Vampires says that vampires often kill poor people whose loss won't be noticed.
    • Module A Darkness Gathering. A Thieves Guild leader (who is under illithid control) orders her underlings to kidnap vagabonds, beggars, and visitors to the city. She has their heads cut off and given to the illithids so they can eat the victims' brains.
    • Module A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords. The lacedons (aquatic ghouls) who live offshore from the city of Suderham sometimes sneak into the Scumslum section and grab a derelict for dinner, who likely will never be missed.
    • The Horde boxed set. The monks of the monastery of Punakha Dzong are evil and murderous. Any visitors who are unimportant or unlikely to be missed are captured and held for dark purposes.
    • Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix II
      • The night hag Styrix needs human beings so she can feed herself and power her Rift Spanner device with their Life Energy. In order to avoid attention over the high mortality rate, she obtains her victims from the population of transients in the town of Martira Bay.
      • The thrax Palik consumes water that he drains from other creatures. He keeps his presence secret by choosing his victims from among adventurers, escaped slaves and lone travelers.
    • Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix. Bhuts prefer to prey upon lone travelers and wandering drunks because their deaths are less likely to cause concern among the local population. People tend to assume that a traveler has simply moved on or that a drunk has died a lonely death in a ditch somewhere.
    • Magazine Gamemaster Publications issue 4, article "The Old Wharf". The cult of Roazarhk makes money by kidnapping young men and women without local family or connections and sells them into slavery. They also kidnap prostitutes whose pimps or madams don't pay protection money.
    • The "Ecology of the Kaorti" in Dragon #358 mentions that kaorti incursions, which reproduce through infection, typically start out by abducting street urchins and vagabonds to transform into more kaorti.
  • Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters
    • "Mealworms". A man has been infested and taken over by parasitic worms that have driven him crazy and given him a lust to consume meat. He kills and consumes human beings that won't be missed, such as the homeless.
    • "The Blood Fairy". After a woman becomes a vampire, her husband starts stealing blood from homeless people to feed her.
    • "A Perfect Childhood". A mother and father make a deal with a demon to perform sacrifices in return for success in their children's lives. For important successes, they perform a Human Sacrifice of people such as winos.
    • "The Dying Tree". A sapient evil tree demands Human Sacrifices or it will cause misfortune in a nearby town. The townspeople sacrifice drifters to the tree to placate it.
    • "House for Sale, Some Work Needed". The servitor of an ancient evil is sacrificing homeless people to it to increase its personal power and allow it to control people nearby.
  • KULT supplement Rumours. The Caregiver archetype says that monsters of the KULT world feed off of vagrants.
  • In the 1st and 2nd Editions of Necromunda the Spyrer hunters target the population of the underhive for their murderous Rite of Passage as the deaths of the outlaws and gangs who reside in the dilapidated area won't adversely affect the industrial output of the manufacturing zones further up-hive, and because they pose the greatest challenge.
  • Shadowrun
    • 1st Edition supplement Sprawl Sites. In one of the adventure seeds, a Banshee (elf vampire) settles into one of the poorest neighborhoods and preys on local vagrants and squatters.
    • The Universal Brotherhood was a cover organization organized by insect spirits and insect shamans. Many UB facilities were set up in run-down areas and ostensibly tried to help the homeless, while actually luring them in to be possessed by insect spirits.
    • In the supplement Double Exposure, an unholy alliance between the Renraku Mega-Corp and insect spirits exploits homeless people in Seattle, testing experimental medical products on them and changing them into monsters.
    • Underworld Sourcebook mentions that the SINless (those without a System Identification Number, usually homeless vagrants) are the preferred target of organleggers because they'll never be missed.
    • Prime Runners. The serial killer Corey Martin preys upon homeless metahumans (humans, dwarves, elves, works, and trolls) because very few of them will be missed.
    • Artifacts Unbound adventure "The Phaistos Killer". A serial killer deliberately chooses his victims from the lower class of society (e.g. minimum wage earners) because he knows they will never be missed and the police will have no interest in investigating their deaths.
  • In Vampire: The Requiem, a vampire PC can have a trait that gives a him or her a safe feeding ground. The first example of such a trait is by feeding from the homeless mass in the slum. Considering that vampires can go crazy while feeding and drain the victim to death, it's one of the better traits, correctness aside.
  • Cubicle 7's Victoriana game:
    • Supplement Faces in the Smoke Volume One: The Secret Masters. The Ancient and Holy Order of Sulis Minerva performs Human Sacrifices using members of the lowest classes of society because they're unlikely to be missed.
    • Supplement Faces in the Smoke Volume Two: Shadows and Steel. The Fellowship of the Red Pharaoh performs necromantic experiments on the corpses of the teeming, anonymous masses of the poor of London.

    Theme Parks 
  • In his backstory, Universal Studios's Halloween Horror Nights's Dr. Albert Caine AKA The Caretaker would offer homeless people to stay at his mansion until they got on their feet. He neglected to mention that he would also use them as test subjects for his torturous and very lethal medical experiments.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed, the "patients" of Garnier's hospital are mostly beggars, prostitutes, madmen, and other homeless taken from Jerusalem by Talal's slave ring. Garnier's plan was to use his drugs to cure their addictions and insanities, followed by training and conditioning them as soldiers, to turn them into loyal warriors in the service of the Templars.
  • Assassin's Creed Syndicate: Taking place in London during the Industrial Revolution, vagrants abound in the city, so naturally Jacob Frye will find himself dealing with Templars taking advantage of the population. Of special note is one of the missions in the Dreadful Crimes DLC which featured, amongst other things, homeless disappearing which Jacob and Evie investigate. It turns out that a deranged man was not only killing the homeless, whom he considered a blight on the city, but parceling their bodies out to neighborhood businesses such as the tanner's, the fertilizer maker's, and the butcher's.
  • The poor are everywhere and not well regarded in Aviary Attorney, something which fuels the revolutionaries seeking a more just society. In 4C (Fraternité) elements seeking to keep the revolution from being civilized kill a homeless man and a random poor woman and pin it on the police. Jayjay Falcon is horrified, and the Rebel Leader cynically notes that he's not noticed that these kinds of things have been happening all along.
  • BloodRayne 2 has homeless people (and sex workers) being kidnapped to be turned into a blood fog (the shroud) that protects vampires from sunlight.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach: The game's story has major implications involving this. The player character, Gregory, is hinted to be a homeless child. It's noted several times that there are no records of him inside the PizzaPlex, and that he shows a surprising amount of resourcefulness and ruthlessness (bordering on Troubling Unchildlike Behavior) over the course of the game. One ending shows Gregory sleeping inside an alleyway inside a cardboard box with a newspaper for warmth. Keeping in mind that the game's premise involves Gregory being hunted down by a serial child killer, it'd mean that he'd be an ideal target for said killer as not as many people would look for him. Sure enough, this same ending shows Vanny looming over him, implying that he is Killed Offscreen.
  • Grand Theft Auto V: Trevor notes he hadn't 'killed a human' before meeting Michael — just some foxes, bears, vagrants...
    • You are expected to kill vagrants as part of some side quests, including a mad cult of cannibal vagrants. Since the police don't patrol the wilderness, there's no overt penalty.
  • In Mad Father, the titular character is a Mad Scientist who used only people who "wouldn't be missed" for his horrible experiments.
  • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Desperado is kidnapping vagrant kids to turn into cyborg Child Soldiers.
  • Mother Russia Bleeds: the romani protagonists were kidnapped by the Bratva to be used a guinea pigs to perfect a new and more potent version of Nekro.
  • Persona 3: the Kirijo Group kidnapped hundred of orphants living on the streets and used them as test subjects in the creation of artifical Persona users. Strega (Takaya Sakaki, Jin Shirato and Chidori Yoshino) were the sole survivors out of the original batch.
  • In Portal 2, the recorded messages of Aperture Science founder Cave Johnson depict the gradual decline of his company in both finances and prestige. One symptom of this is that, while the first batch of Mad Science tests were carried out using the 'best and brightest', such as "astronauts, Olympians, and war heroes", the second batch of tests (after the 1968 Senate hearings on missing astronauts) were conducted on street bums. They were offered 60 bucks to leave their park benches, sit in "much more comfortable" waiting rooms, and die horribly testing the company's lethal products. They could earn a $60 bonus if they allowed themselves to be disassembled, have "science stuff" installed, and then put back together, "good as new". In the third set of recordings, he'd apparently discarded even this idea and moved on to testing on his own employees, including himself.
  • Roger Wilco, lowly Janitor Second Class of Space Quest VI: Roger Wilco in the Spinal Frontier, was selected by Dr. Hayden Beleaux and Sharpei to be the test subject of Project: Immortality, simply because "We thought no one would miss you. Go Figure." Stellar Santiago unwillingly takes his place after saving him.
  • The Thief video game series uses this in the second and third games.
    • The villain of Thief II: The Metal Age uses the homeless to create his army of Steampunk cyborgs. It is explicitly stated that the nobles don't notice or care, and the victims are being arrested by the Watch, shipped, and converted in small groups so that it goes unreported.
    • The villain of Thief: Deadly Shadows kills the homeless and absorbs their life force to extend her lifespan. Sometimes she flays them alive to use their skins as a disguise.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines
    • One of the Plaguebearers in a sidequest used the homeless to spread his infection. The other one used prostitutes.
    • Andrei the Tzimice used, among others, homeless people as raw material for his experiments...and his home improvement projects.
    • The game as a whole downplays this trope. Homeless people are some of the easiest targets for the Player Character to feed on because they tend to hide alone in dark alleys. This still provokes a police response if anyone else sees you though but this is unlikely. Killing them will lead to a loss of Humanity since they're innocent people.

    Web Animation 
  • Zero Punctuation implies Yahtzee keeps one of these in his basement to play co-op games with.


    Web Original 
  • Can You Spare a Quarter?: Mike complains that police don't care about missing street boys and thus are making no progress in catching the Serial Killer.
  • This creepypasta has the narrator outsmart her mother-in-law's attempt to poison her with a homeless guest she knows shares the same allergy.
  • SCP Foundation
    • SCP-647 ("Hungry Box"). SCP-647 is a cardboard box that prefers urban environments. It can expand itself to be large enough for anyone to enter it and shows a preference for people of disheveled appearance. It makes itself desirable to homeless people by appearing to have blankets, food, and liquor inside of it. Once someone enters it traps them and digests them.
    • SCP-1948 ("Weather Bird"). The people of the town where SCP-1948 lived decided to perform Human Sacrifices to it so it would keep the weather pleasant. The people performing the sacrifices chose the victims from townspeople who wouldn't be missed, such as vagabonds.
  • Test Subject Series ASMR: The viewer is a human test subject in a Mad Scientist Laboratory — in one video it's confirmed that they didn't have a permanent address or any family that will notice they're missing.
  • In Twig, the Ghosts are a group of semihuman experiments that act as spies and commandos against the Academy of Evil. A Ghost team is self-sustaining and can set up facilities to produce more of them, but they need organic material and a brain to work with in order to rapidly make another Ghost. Therefore, they prefer to prey upon homeless children.

    Western Animation 
  • Reginald of American Dad! was little more than an unwanted, unloved homeless man before volunteering for a CIA experiment that switched his mind with that of a koala bear. The procedure was a success and he was hired by the CIA as an operative due to the distracting nature of his new form.
  • Never demonstrated on screen, but Archer gave us Dr. Krieger, who occasionally mentions that he exploits the poor as scientific fodder or entertainment.
  • Batman: The Animated Series
    • Both series had episodes about homeless people being abducted for use as slave labor. To them, no one seems to care but obviously, Batman is on the case.
    • A villain-of-the-week uses homeless children to carry out a series of thefts in the city. Batman is not happy about it, to say the least.
  • An early episode of Family Guy has Peter mention that Rudy Guliani had New York's homeless population secretly murdered as part of the urban restoration projects.
  • In Disney's Gargoyles, Dr. Sevarius uses Maggie, a homeless woman, in his mutation experiments because nobody will notice she's gone. All of the mutates but Talon (Derek Maza) have no known families.
  • In G.I. Joe: Renegades, James McCullen kidnaps homeless veterans off the street and forces them to test his new combat mechs in order to find the perfect human brainwaves on which to base machine's the A.I. Tunnel Rat and Roadblock wind up in his clutches, with Roadblock providing the ideal brainwave pattern.
  • Pantheon:Mr. Prasad casually reveals that before Chandra, he picked several guinea pigs from the slums of Mumbai to test the uploading process on. Chandra is horrified by this inhumanity while Prasad doesn't blink an eye at these lost lives.
  • The Simpsons
    • In one Halloween episode, Lisa's teacher invites a homeless man into the class on the pretense of offering him a hot meal so the students can see Homer, the new Grim Reaper, reap someone.
    • In another Halloween episode Mayor Quimby starts feeding the homeless to Homer, who has become a giant Blob Monster.
      Homeless man in Homer's stomach: Nice to be indoors, though.
    • In one episode, Homer mentions that a cold snap has killed off most of Springfield's homeless population.
    • After Homer foolishly exposes himself as Mr. X, to get the Pulitzer and million-dollar prize, he starts making up news so people can visit his website. When Nelson says they are dissecting hobos at school, Homer politely brushes him off, saying he doesn't need to report real news anymore.
  • SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron
    • In the episode "Mutation City," the first victim of Dr. Viper's monsters is a homeless guy in an alley.
    • Likewise, an earlier episode, "The Giant Bacteria," has Morbulus. He's an interesting case in that he starts out as a villain in his own right, but becomes this trope following his humiliating defeat by the SWAT Kats. After Faking the Dead, he encounters Dr. Viper, who takes him back to his lab in the Dead Forest. Because everyone thinks he's either dead or in hiding, no one will come looking for him, making him the perfect candidate for Viper to turn into the Monster of the Week.
    • Mac and Molly in "The Metallikats" are an interesting case as well. Although the duo basically fit this trope, being unidentified corpses in prison uniforms who wash up on the beach near a scientist's house, said scientist is the kindly Professor Hackle, who turns them into robots to save their lives and prove his theories about mind transfer. However, Hackle learns their names after they come back to life and makes it clear that he intends to be forthcoming about who they are when unveiling them to the scientific academy.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003):
    • A supervillain called the "Garbageman" abducts homeless people turning them into slaves, referring to them as "human garbage". The police haven't noticed the abductions or perhaps don't even care.
    • While not all homeless, the Foot did the same thing for mutant weapons research, leading to the creation of Quarry and the others.

    Real Life 
  • An unusual example of this trope being turned to positive ends in real life was a secret British disinformation operation during World War II known as "Operation Mincemeat." The body of a deceased homeless man named Glyndwr Michael was given a new identity as a Royal Marines officer, dressed in a uniform, and left on a Spanish shore, presumably the victim of a downed aircraft. On his person were falsified documents that indicated that the Allies intended to attack Greece and Sardinia rather than the real target, Sicily. The supposedly neutral Spanish government (as neutral as the Franco dictatorship could get) shared the documents with German intelligence, which fell for the ruse. This allowed the Allies to invade Sicily with a minimum of casualties, giving them their first foothold in the Italian campaign. Michael's body was buried under his alias, Major William Martin, with full military honors.
  • Homeless people were used by the Brazilian military to teach torture techniques during their own dictatorship.