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Homeless Hero

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There is the hero that drifts from place to place helping people as he walks the earth. Then there are these heroes: ones that stay in the same place, but are so down on their luck that they live in squalor or, worse, have no place to live at all. They squat for the night in an abandoned building and keep warm with scrap wood burning in a Trashcan Bonfire, or sleep in an old car.

Perhaps their dedication to doing heroic deeds provides them with little time for making money or starting a home or family. Or perhaps they've had a string of bad luck, sometimes due to a decidedly non-heroic addiction. In any case, even though they may save lives, normal people will still dislike them.

Compare Magical Homeless Person.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sakuya from Dancougar Nova was homeless and unemployed before being recruited to pilot the titular Super Robot, and stays that way for a few episodes. Pointing out that he is, or was homeless is also something of a catchphrase for him. Gets a little ridiculous after a while.
  • On Ranma ½, Ryōga may as well be one of these. Yes, he has a real house, but he's almost never there. In fact, the entire family is equally prone to being lost, so the house really only exists as a wayside stop. Most days he simply camps out or sleeps in Akane's bed as her pet pig.
  • The title character of Rurouni Kenshin has been one for ten years before the official start of the story. Then Kaoru let him move into her dojo.
  • Fuka Reventon of ViVid Strike!. Unlike previous, fairly well-off protagonists of the Lyrical Nanoha franchise, she's a poor orphan who had not been adopted and thus has to work odd jobs just to have a place to live in. Unfortunately, she has difficulty keeping any job for long due to all the trouble she causes, and could no longer stay at her orphanage due to the same problem. Nove was able to convince her to work at her gym when she mentions that she'd have free food and lodging.

    Asian Animation 
  • Lamput has the title character. Being a creature that Escaped from the Lab and forced to be constantly on the move, he has no real location to call his home. He sleeps on rooftops and tries to find shelter wherever he can, even if that place happens to be the Docs' residence.

    Comic Books 
  • Apollo and Midnighter spent many years after their escape from Henry Bendix living in abandoned warehouses and being damn grateful that they didn't have to eat or sleep much. They were still fighting crime, though, and it caught the attention of the new and improved Stormwatch, who helped them out. Then along comes Jenny Sparks with a proposition...
  • There was a time in the 1960s where Captain America lived in a series of seedy hotels, before taking to the open road on his motorcycle. It made for an interesting metaphor about the state of country at the time, but it was more than a little annoying to read him bemoaning his lack of home and family, when all he had to do was join The Avengers again and move into their mansion.
  • The Crow wears found clothing (boots from a dumpster, etc.) and lives in an abandoned building. The fact that the building was his former home only adds dramatic significance to its current state of squalor.
  • Pictured above is D-Man note  of the Marvel Universe (once sidekick to Captain America) was homeless due to a mental illness. Last time he was seen, he was getting treatment.
  • Access from DC vs. Marvel (or vice-versa) not only is homeless, at least in his own future, he doesn't even have a home universe.
  • The new Doctor Fate from Steve Gerber's Countdown to Mystery was a successful psychiatrist until one of his patients went on a killing spree. He eventually ended up homeless and alcoholic - then the Helmet of Fate landed in his life. By the end of the mini, he'd at least found a job and somewhere to live.
  • John Constantine (who still more or less qualified as a hero at the time) ended up down and out in London for a while during a long Heroic BSoD caused by someone close to him getting killed at least partly through his own negligence. Again.
  • In our world, The Maxx literally lives in a cardboard box.
  • The Punisher has to move pretty frequently among the safehouses he's established around the area. They are often abandoned buildings, storage units, or even little-used access areas of the New York Subway. Notably, Frank Castle technically still has a house, but it's not been 'home' to him ever since the murder of his family. He deliberately stays there as little as possible and when he does, he can't even sleep in his own bed—it reminds him too much of his wife.
  • Ragman from the DCU is also a hero who seems to have no home.
  • Relative Heroes is a team made up of siblings who went on the run from the government after their parents' deaths mostly to prevent their eclectic family from being split up, and to keep one brother in particular from being taken by the D.E.O.. They have no home and are constantly on the move to try to keep ahead of their pursuers.
  • Shazam!'s Billy Batson starts out as a homeless orphan who, depending on the version, was either kicked out or ran away from an abusive foster home. Despite this, he also turns out to be so pure of heart that he's chosen to become the superhero Captain Marvel. Eventually, this leads to him getting off the streets and Happily Adopted.
  • Spawn couldn't exactly get a job and rent an apartment, what with being dead and all that. Early on he befriended some homeless man and spent his time living with and defending them.
  • Squadron Supreme vol. 3 also has a homeless incarnation of liberty (or something along those lines).
  • The indie comic Street Angel played this up with one issue of the book (which is normally about defeating government-issue ninjas or wacky threats like that) dedicated to the main character scrounging for food.
  • Marvel's Sub-Mariner spent the gap between The Golden Age of Comic Books and The Silver Age of Comic Books living as an amnesiac hobo. Johnny Storm found him and helped him remember who he was.
  • Tony Stark once hit rock bottom, lost everything, and wound up a homeless alcoholic. But he also gave up being Iron Man for the time.
  • Then of course there's Top 10, where everyone in the city has powers and a Code Name - and like any other city, there are homeless people.
  • The DCU's Uncle Sam was homeless for at least a little while.
  • The titular character in Usagi Yojimbo, naturally, considering the fact that he's a Rōnin.
  • Watchmen's Rorschach lives in squalor and has poor personal hygiene.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Peter is homeless after being forcibly transported to Izuku's universe. He initially has to live out of an abandoned construction site but moves to an abandoned amusement park on the outskirts of Musutafu after being ambushed by the Prowler.
  • Blackkat's Reverse, all Kurama has is the clothes on his back and what little money he makes doing odd jobs. Due to being on the run from various pursuers trying to capture him and take back the abused children he kidnapped, Kurama is constantly running from place to place trying to find shelter.
  • In From Muddy Waters, Izuku has no home to go back to after All For One discovers and abducts Inko. After this, Izuku is forced to live out of a manga cafe and eat meals from the corner store. He frequently runs into difficulties explaining where he's going home to, usually claiming that his mother is stuck at work because of a hardass boss. The owner of the manga cafe, Hakucho, eventually catches onto this and offers him a room upstairs and meals out of sympathy.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe fic A Little Red and Blue, Sharon is inadvertently sent to the year 1944. Lacking time period appropriate currency, she's unable to get basic necessities for herself such as clothing, food, and shelter. She is later found by the past Steve and Bucky who are more than willing to pay for her; Bucky's aunt Agatha insists on paying Sharon for saving her from getting mugged and helping around her apartment building, but Sharon is unwilling to accept any money from them unless she absolutely has to. Sharon barely has any more clothes than what she was currently wearing before she was sent back and it's mentioned that she took temporary residence in an empty apartment unit, even timing her showers at the same moment of her unknowing neighbor so that nobody notices that she is currently occupying the room.
  • Missing (Miraculous Ladybug) sees this happen to Ladybug after she's hit by an akuma that erases its victims, causing her to lose all memories of her alter ego. As a result, Marinette mysteriously disappears, while Ladybug has the niggling sense that there used to be someplace she went when she wasn't on duty, but she just can't think of it right now... and anyway, there's more important things to focus on, like fighting crime!
  • In RWBY Abridged, fourteen-year-old Ruby Rose accidentally lets it slip to her older sister Yang, that she has been living on the streets of a crime-ridden "City of Adventure", where she routinely has to fight off dangerous criminals to survive with no real source of income. Yang is understandably concerned.

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin. Naturally, the title hero shamelessly steals to live but shares his bread with neighborhood children if compelled.
  • The Satoshi Kon movie Tokyo Godfathers revolves around a trio of homeless heroes as they struggle to return an abandoned baby to her mother.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: In his game, the forest that Ralph lived in was destroyed to make way for the Niceland Apartments. Outside the game (or after the game, rather), he has to live in the dump next door — one of the reasons for his feelings of being disrespected.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Rambo in the original First Blood is a homeless Vietnam Vet, wandering across the country to find one of his old war buddies in hopes of finding one person that understands what he's going through. Unfortunately, all he finds is trouble...
  • The Fisher King (the Terry Gilliam film) fits this well.
  • The titular Hancock lives like a stereotypical media bum, sleeping on benches and using whatever money he does find to buy booze. His reputation is not helped by the aversion of Hero Insurance. Even children call him an asshole.
  • Hobo With a Shotgun The nameless hobo manages to pick up a shotgun in a pawnshop to fight off some robbers that try and rob it. Then after killing them pays for the shotgun with what meager funds he has to fight off the rest of criminal scum he can find.
  • Merantau is named for a practice among the Minangkabou people of West Sumatra, where young men will leave their hometown to pursue their fortune further afield since inheritance in that culture is largely matriarchal. The main character of the movie, Yuda (Iko Uwais), is on such a journey in Jakarta, where he sleeps at an empty construction site, and hoping to become a martial arts instructor, but he gets forced into vigilantism to bring down a human trafficking ring.
  • Beggar Su, one of the eponymous kung fu heroes of Ten Tigers From Kwangtung, is introduced as a homeless street performer.
  • Nada from John Carpenter's They Live! is a homeless drifter and migrant construction worker who first notices signs of something amiss on a visit to a soup kitchen.
  • In Stuck the main protagonist Tom Bardo is a homeless man who gets hit by a car and trapped in the driver's garage since the driver has decided to let him bleed out so she won't have to face the consequences of running him over.

  • Tofu from Super Minion starts out this way. As an escaped superweapon, he doesn't have family, a home, or a financial history. He actually resists Sandra's attempts to convince him to rent an apartment, because he could buy dozens of burgers for the money it would cost. He changes his mind when he learns that a home would allow him to cook and make food for himself for a fraction of the cost.
  • Wizard, the titular protagonist of Wizard of the Pigeons, is a homeless sorcerer in Seattle who lives in an abandoned building and scavenges for food. Part of the reason why is that he must follow certain rules to keep his magic working, one of which is that he's not allowed to have more than a dollar on his person at any time.
  • In Dragon Bones, Ward becomes homeless when he has to flee from his own castle to avoid being taken to an asylum for insane nobles. After some adventures his "make camp in the wilderness" homelessness is upgraded to the status of an esteemed guest, as he's still a nobleman and thus has connections. As castle Hurog is not just his home, it is also a place of magical power, Ward suffers from quite severe homesickness; he mentions that there are empty spaces in his souls where Hurog's magic is supposed to be. (The fact that Oreg's magic can temporarily fill those empty spaces contributes to the Ho Yay between the two.)
  • A rare middle grade example, Magnus Chase was homeless for two years before he died and resurrected in Vahalla. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • And in the second book, there's Alex Fierro, who got kicked out for being trans.
  • Albanac, in Alan Garner's The Moon of Gomrath. In modern (1960's) Britain, when the vast majority of the human race have forgotten they share the world with Elves, Dwarfs, and the peoples and things of Magic, he is one of the few humans who remember the old ways and remain in full communion with the Old Paths. Taken to be a tramp or a dreamer or a gipsy, he provides Colin and Susan with a guide to the ways of the magical world. Seemingly killed in a battle with the things of evil, he is translated fully into the other world leaving no body behind. There is a strong hint that just as Susan will grow to be a white witch and a Priestess of the Old Magic, Colin will follow in his footsteps and become the next Albanac, the human hero in the magic place.
  • The Name of the Wind: Kvothe spends much of the book homeless in Tarbean.
  • In Urban Dragon, Arkay and Rosario begin the series living on the streets of Indianapolis. They manage to get themselves a home, but by the fifth book, Arkay is living out of a car.
  • Played with in Tom Clancy's Without Remorse. A woman reports being attacked by a mugger but saved by the intervention of a "homeless man", who rather brutally disposes of the mugger in the process. Eventually the police realise this is connected to all the dead drug pushers they've been finding lately; their suspect isn't really homeless, but he's disguising himself as a wino to blend in and become Beneath Suspicion.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Heroes:
  • My Name Is Earl.:
    • Technically, Earl Hickey, since he lives in a motel after his wife divorced him and took their trailer home. (This is lampshaded when he applies for a credit card.) Briefly, Earl gets an apartment, but loses the apartment after going to prison for a crime his ex-wife committed and winds up back at the motel after he gets out.
    • Earl and Randy had been briefly homeless before Earl's Accidental Marriage to Joy because their father got fed up with them and kicked them out of the house.
    • Joy was homeless for a while just before she tricked Earl into marrying her. She had been kicked out of the house by her parents for becoming pregnant out of wedlock when her pregnancy began to show.
  • Jim Rockford of The Rockford Files lives in a crappy little trailer.
  • Sam and Dean Winchester of Supernatural travel across the country, fighting monsters and staying in cheap motels. The closest thing they have to a home is Bobby's house. This changes in season 8, but only because they're Men of Letters legacies and no one else can claim the bunker.
  • Parodied on That Mitchell and Webb Look, with "The Surprising Adventures of Sir Digby Chicken Caesar". Although Digby in his narration claims to be a dashing Gentleman Adventurer going on missions for the government and fighting a never-ending battle against his unknown nemesis, "Some Bastard Who's Presumably Responsible," he and his sidekick, Ginger, are in fact deluded, drug-addled hobos, and their "adventures" are merely them committing acts of petty theft of money and alcohol and occasionally beating and robbing random people.
  • Downplayed in Community by Jeff who, after being evicted, lived in his car, which he kept parked in the Greendale parking lot.

  • Harriet from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues does technically have a home, but is so traumatised by the death of her parents that she can't step foot over the landing. So that she isn't forced onto the street, her psychiatrist made arrangements for her to sleep in a spare room at the high school.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Derisively known as murderhoboes in certain circles of the internet, representing the lack of backstory-making skills of certain players who only play to kill things and take their stuff.
  • In Shadowrun, characters who are unwilling to spend any money on keeping a Lifestyle are automatically relegated to Street Lifestyle, which means living like this. Street lifestyle comes with a number of not-so-fun drawbacks, chief of which being that you obviously do not have a place to live and as such all your equipment has to be carried around constantly or else will likely be stolen between runs. For the enterprising roleplayer the game even provides a disadvantage called "Hobo with a Shotgun", which forces your character to live like this and gives them dice pool penalties if they ever spend a night someplace fancier than Squatter Lifestyle.

    Video Games 
  • Ace in Space: Pierre ended up homeless after his dream of moving to Vancouver to become an actor failed, and he is one of the main love interests.
  • Bad Day L.A. features Anthony Williams, a former Hollywood Agent now homeless. He is forced to survive when the city of Los Angeles has disaster after disaster. He inadvertently becomes heroic along the way.
  • Throughout a good portion of Beyond: Two Souls, Jodie lives as a homeless fugitive, moving from place to place and trying to keep a low profile. She's on the run in the first place because she technically went rogue, furiously cutting ties with the CIA after learning she'd been manipulated into assassinating an African president. A chapter of the game - aptly titled "Homeless" - has her reduced to begging on the streets in the dead of winter, almost too tired to care anymore. Thankfully, a small group of other homeless people take her in.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: As an elf-demon hybrid, your Aloof Ally Malady doesn't exactly come from a stable home, and her business with the Seekers keeps her constantly on the move.
    "[Siva's] got one of those things in Driftwood. You know, a building where people go, and they do things inside of it... Home. That's it."
  • Dragon Age: Origins: Whatever your chosen background is, your character is homeless by the time they're recruited by the Grey Wardens. The Dwarf Noble was exiled (really a form of execution) after falling afoul of their younger brother's political ambitions. The Dwarf Lower Class was caught breaking the law and going to be executed. The Dalish Elf was tainted by the Darkspawn and kicked out of their clan lest they infect anyone else. The Townish Elf either killed the son of an important noble for kidnapping and trying to rape them/their fiance and actually raping their cousin, or they were accused of trying to kill the noble's son after sparing his life and had to flee their home either way. The Mage was either banished or sent out from the mage's circle. And the Human Noble had their home stormed by a rival noble who murdered their parents and killed everyone else who was present so he could claim their lands and position for himself. No matter what, the Grey Warden has no home and spends most of the game camping in the wilderness.
  • Gregory, the Kid Hero of Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach, is shown in one ending sleeping in a cardboard box, implying he either already was or became homeless. note 
  • Johnny Klebitz, the protagonist of Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, apparently has no home of his own like other GTA protagonists, instead sleeping in the storeroom of the Lost MC clubhouse.
  • Kat, the protagonist of Gravity Rush, has no home outside of a large sewer pipe underneath the town of Auldnoir.
  • Kaim, the protagonist from Lost Odyssey, is an amnesiac immortal mercenary whose memories return in the form of dreams as the player progresses in the game. He's had homes in the past, but being immortal, he has outlived almost everyone he ever knew. He moves from place to place regularly, to avoid revealing he is immortal or forging close bonds that will inevitably be broken.
  • Oracle of Tao. Subverted. The main character, Ambrosia, is a Crazy Homeless Person who cleans up a bit, losing the homeless status when she gets money from killing monsters and is given a tent. She no longer is homeless by the end, but arguably is still very much crazy.
  • In Spider-Man (PS4), Peter is eventually evicted from his apartment due to missing his payments on his apartment. He's forced to sleep on a couch at F.E.A.S.T. in the meantime as he tries to sort out his life going forward.
  • World of Warcraft, the players have no home to speak of, and since your actions are often less than heroic, the forums dubbed the PCs Murder Hobos.
  • After the prologue and release from imprisonment in Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Ichiban has no home to go back to due to being in prison for eighteen long years. Although he doesn't have much time to process that thanks to Adachi picking him up and telling him what he missed. However, his state of homelessness really settles in when he wakes up in a garbage bin and ends up having to live among a small commune of homeless people (one of them being Nanba, an ex-nurse hobo who becomes one of Ichiban's closest allies and playable characters). However, with some luck and determination, he steadily moves out of it as the game and plot progresses.
  • Shadows of Doubt allows you to become one if you so choose. The pre-made scenario gives your Private Detective a modest apartment and a small bank account to rely on for the purposes of keeping your various meters in the green, but if you decide to go into a randomly generated scenario, you can roleplay as a hobo, wandering the city, taking odd jobs, and relying on either the generosity of others or the occasional opportunistic breaking-and-entering for food, water, or a hot shower. It is entirely possible to ignore the randomly generated crime storylines and treat the game as an immersive homelessness survival simulator.

  • All the Regulars that climb the Tower of God leave their homes and families behind to reach the top, a task which usually takes at least 500 years, if it succeeds at all.

    Western Animation 
  • The Gaang from Avatar: The Last Airbender fit this trope to an extent, while Katara, Sokka, Toph, and Zuko have homes to go to. They choose to travel as nomads with Aang to put a stop to the Fire Nation. Aang on the other hand has his former home turned into abandoned ruins thanks to the Fire Nation's purge of Airbenders. They all fly from place to place on Appa, setting up tents or sleeping in homes offered to them.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Before being inducted into the group and given his own hut on Hope Island, Wheeler lived on the streets of Brooklyn. He still preferred that to having to return to his family's apartment and his fault-finding father.
  • By virtue of being on the run, the G.I. Joes are forced to become this trope in G.I. Joe: Renegades. One time they even have to go mingle with fellow hobos.
  • Samurai Jack is an exiled former prince from ancient Japan who constantly wanders around Earth in a distant dystopian future, traveling around as a nomadic warrior to fight evildoers and save innocents wherever he can.
  • A variant occurred in Spider-Man: The Animated Series: one of Captain America's old comrades spent the Second World War living rough so he could secretly watch over the facility where Cap and the Red Skull were imprisoned.
  • Wander and Sylvia in Wander over Yonder are always traveling to different planets. It's justified as Wander is a space nomad.