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Pauper Patches

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"These patches, what are we trying to say? Beggar? No!"
The Genie, Aladdin

What's one of the easiest ways to show that a character doesn't have much money? Have their clothing, often grey or especially brown in color (though not always), worn out to the point where patches, often rags, needed to be sewn-on. The patches are usually placed on the sections of clothing that face the most friction, such as the elbow area for shirts and knee area for pants. The patches are almost always square in shape, but they don't need to be, and they usually don't match the color of the clothing. Some examples have the clothes entirely be covered in patched rags. You can mostly find characters such as hobos, orphaned children, Street Urchins, peasants, and literal examples of Rags to Royalty dressed like this.

Note that for this trope to apply, the character must be in poverty; if they're wearing patched-up clothes only because they like that style, that's Not an Example.

Often combined with the related tropes Barefoot Poverty and/or Hobo Gloves to complete the Stock Costume Traits of a poor character. Commonly found on a Tiny Tim Template. Compare Bankruptcy Barrel.


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     Film - Animated 

  • In The Thief and the Cobbler, the struggling cobbler Tack's clothes have many patches.
  • Orphan Ann Marie from Don Bluth's All Dogs Go to Heaven is first seen clothed in scraps and rags, kept prisoner in the villain's riverboat-turned-casino. Understandable since dogs are in charge of dressing her; Ann Marie gets much better clothes once the Wallet couple adopts her.
  • Disney:
    • In a version of The Prince and the Pauper starring Mickey Mouse, Pauper!Mickey wore this.
    • Aladdin. The title character has a patch on his pants. The Genie points out this trope when he's turning him into Prince Ali.
    • In Pinocchio, Jiminy starts dressed this way before the Blue Fairy declares him Pinocchio's conscience and gives him a clothing upgrade.


  • In The Wheel of Time series, a cloak with many-colored patches is the signifying mark of a Gleeman, a profession of wandering minstrels and storytellers. Although Gleemen tend to be paid quite well for their performances, because they lead a necessarily nomadic lifestyle they tend to have few possessions nonetheless.
  • The Belgariad. Belgarath the Sorcerer has an outfit that is more patches than not, as part of his vagabond image. Later in the series he admits he had it specially made, and it's lasted him a good five hundred years.
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: While his clothes aren't patched, Lupin's introduction notes that his suitcase has been repeatedly repaired, as proof he can't afford a new one. (Two books later, we learn Umbridge made it near-impossible for werewolves to get jobs.)
  • Loskutik's dress in Loskutik And The Cloud is nothing but patches sewn together, and she gets her name from it (loskut meaning patch in Russian). She is an orphan with no roof over her head.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: In the illustrations, poor commoners, including Myne herself, often have patches on their clothes. The patches are also frequently mentionned in the text.

     Live Action TV 

  • Blake's 7. For the first couple of episodes Villa wore patches. He was from the Delta Grades of his society, indicated to be of lesser social standing than other characters. Note though that his manner of dress also reflected his role of the "Fool" of the group.
  • El Chavo del ocho uses them, as he's supposed to be an orphan homeless child.


  • Emmett Kelly created the "Weary Willie" character for the circus, modeled after alcoholic railroad hobos of the day. Willie's ragged, patchy outfit was meant to convey that these were the only clothes he's had for years.
  • Some say that's what the Harlequin's costume used to be.


     Video Games 

  • Freddi Fish: Laren the shy jug musician from Freddi Fish 5 wears an orange patched sleeveless shirt exposing his tummy.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, after the rich girl, Mila, ends up poor because of her father losing all his money, she is shown from then on wearing a patched-up and ugly dress.
    • Maggie on the other hand has the reverse happen to her. She's poor at first, wearing a patched dress, but becomes rich and switches to a Pimped-Out Dress.
  • In Pokťmon Sun and Moon, Trial Captain Acerola wears a dress that is almost entirely made of patches. Something that fits her status as a homeless child and also the fact that she is a Ghost-type Pokémon user.
  • In The Great Ace Attorney, Roly Beate, a London policeman or "bobby" and his young wife Patricia have patches on their clothes, since they are not well off. As a result, Patricia can only afford to buy Roly a single rose as a "bouquet" and wrap it in newspaper.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: The inhabitants of Twilight Town (not that one) all sport raggedy, patched-up clothes to go with their "impoverished Eastern European villager" look and the general ‹berwald atmosphere of the chapter they appear on.

     Web Comics 
  • The very first page of Girl Genius has a group of barefoot kids in a poor part of Beetlesburg standing around in torn and patched clothes listening to the storyteller.
  • The hobos in Realm of Owls, being hobos, wear patched clothing.
  • Lovely People: The setting has a social credit system. Low scores tend to come with limits to what a person is allowed to buy. A woman whose score is so low she's considered an Un-person and can't buy necessities has patches on her clothing.
  • Humorous take on this in Kevin & Kell, contrasting upgrading Microtalon (Microsoft) and Carrot (Apple) computers.

     Western Animation 

  • There are a couple of orphan characters on The Simpsons like this who show up from time to time. One of them is even named Patches. One of them has the Incurable Cough of Death.
  • In a flashback in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode, "Friend or Foe?", it is revealed that when Mr. Krabs was a kid, he and his Mom were going through some rough financial times, so Mama Krabs had to fashion Mr. Krabs' clothes from rags.
  • Most residents of the orphanage in The Adventures of Puss in Boots have them on their clothing.
  • In "A Symposium on Popular Songs", Ludwig Von Drake describes how his clothes were in rags at the turn of the century. As he speaks, his tuxedo briefly changes into a tattered one with patches.
  • Dynomutt, Dog Wonder: After Blue Falcon and Dynomutt are fired for losing to Superthug, those patches and other damages to their superhero outfits gradually become evident. It turns out they're just pretending to be unemployed as part of a plan to locate Superthug's hideout and, once the plan works, they reveal non-ragged outfits underneath the ragged ones.