Steve Rogers: Lying on a marshmallow. I feel like I'm gonna sink right to the floor.
There are many things a man returning to civilization can look forward to, the warm food, their family being by their side again, air conditioning and centralized heating, not to mention the simple comfort in feeling safe. But there's always one thing that never sits right with them.
Their bed. It's too soft. No good for a man used to sleeping in a hard bunk or hole in the ground. It just doesn't feel right.
This trope is a common way of emphasizing a character's rugged, austere life, and how they don't fit in with the life of comfort and even luxury they find themselves in. Typically seen in outdoorsmen, soldiers, and poor/homeless characters.
- Appleseed has Deunan, rescued by Olympus's ESWAT from a ruined city, finding it difficult to sleep in a bed after so long on the battlefield. She ends up curling up on the floor, with a gun, with the bed's pillows arranged so if anybody sneaks into her room to try to kill her, they will think she's on the bed.
- In Claymore, the eponymous warriors are trained to sleep in a sitting position with their sword planted for support. On the occasions when a real bed is offered, they find themselves unable to get comfortable. As Teresa began to soften up while caring for Clare, she found herself able to fall asleep in a bed while cuddling with the child.
- The bounty hunter Nadie from El Cazador de la Bruja prefers to fall asleep while sitting in a chair if she can help it, mainly because it allows her to open fire before even waking up.
- The Sandman (1989) has a story where a woodsman staying in an inn can't get used to the soft bed, and so sleeps on the floor. This saves his life when the innkeeper tries to kill him in the night.
- In The Blue Lotus, the great fakir Ramacharma puts on a show in which he leaps on broken glass, sticks knives through his body and spins upside down on top of a nail. Tintin then offers him a seat to read his fortune, but he leaps up in pain when he rests his seat on a cushion. He then claps an attendant to bring him something his "sensitive skin" will sit better on, which turns out to be a stool made out of spikes.
- In Stray Bullets, the trauma Virginia experiences during her time on the run as a kid (such as being kidnapped and nearly raped) leads to her sleeping underneath her bed later in life.
- Pokémon Reset Bloodlines: Iris grew up in the wild living with Dragon Pokémon, so she finds trees more comfortable to sleep on. The only time she slept on a normal bed was when she shared it with Ash (and the other girls).
- Chapter 4 of DNMC shows that D'Arg prefers to sleep beneath a mound of ice, mostly because the Fire Dust in his body makes it impossible to sleep in anything else.
- Chapter 12 of The Dragon's Ring starts with Yusei being unable to sleep in the suite provided to him by Director Goodwin thanks to the soft, formless bed he was using, as opposed to his old bed in Satellite, which he'd used so long it had a "Yusei-shaped hollow" in it, symbolizing not just that he's unused to the luxurious surroundings being offered, but that he feels like he's missing from his old life as a whole.
- Aliens: In one scene, Ripley leaves Newt on a bed to take a nap while she goes elsewhere. When she returns, she's initially horrified to see that she isn't there, thinking that something's happened to her, before seeing that Newt's sleeping on the ground, having gone weeks hiding in the air vents from the xenomorphs. So, she joins her in napping on the ground.
- In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America bonds with the Falcon, a modern-day war veteran, over how impossible it is to go back to sleeping in nice beds after spending years sleeping on the ground.
- In "Crocodile" Dundee, after arriving in New York, Mick sleeps on a blanket on the floor at the posh hotel.
- In The Expendables 3, Doc has spent the last eight years in a Hellhole Prison until the Expendables break him out during the opening. Later in the movie, Doc is shown in a bedroom looking at a bed in an uncomfortable way before laying down on a futon instead.
- Munich. After assassinating a target with a bomb hidden in their mattress, one of the Israeli agents becomes so paranoid he can't sleep in a bed himself.
- In Tropic Thunder, author and veteran Four Leaf Tayback sleeps on the beach, claiming, "Beds give me nightmares." As we learn later he's not a real veteran, this is presumably him trying too hard.
- King Nicholas in Airman is a former soldier, and he's said to sleep on the window seat in his chambers because the bed is too soft.
- Ciaphas Cain, THE HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, finds it hard to sleep in overly cushioned beds (using said beds for vigorous exercise is a different matter).
- In Circle of Magic, Briar is a street boy who grew up among gangs of thieves. He has great difficulty adjusting to civilian life, including sleeping on a proper bed. His solution is to pull the sheets off the bed and sleep on the ground.
- Lords and Ladies plays with this trope in the case of King Verence of Lancre, who used to sleep outside the king's door as the court jester. Even as king he finds it a difficult habit to break.
- In Red Rising, after passing/surviving the Institute in the first book, which involves roughing it as part of a Deadly Game of capture-the-flag, Darrow and his love interest, Mustang, comiserate in the second book how back in civilization they find themselves often sleeping on the floor because large, comfortable beds don't feel right to them.
- Eilonwy in The High King, after being away at court for the fourth book, flops down on the ground during the latest adventure and exclaims how happy she is to be sleeping on comfortable roots and stones again.
- A variant in one of the X-Men Film Series original trilogy novelizations. Logan, who is used to rugged living, prefers his showers much rougher than most people. When he takes a shower in one scene, he first turns the water as hot as it will go, then as cold as it will go. He also thinks to himself that the spray is not strong enough for his liking — he prefers a hammer-like spray.
- In the pilot of Arrow, Oliver Queen returns to his family's mansion after years marooned on an island in the North China Sea. His mother finds him asleep on the floor next to an open window with rain pouring through, so she tries to wake him only to be thrown onto her back with the edge of her son's hand against her throat.
- Cinderella and the Four Knights: As a result of her stepfamily's abuse, Ha-won initially sleeps in the storage room. When she moves into Haneul House her room has a big, luxurious bed that she has trouble falling asleep on. She winds up sleeping on the floor under her desk.
- In Homeland, Brody, who has been held prisoner by Islamist militants in Afghanistan for years, sleeps on the floor next to his wife's bed when he gets home. He claims this, but there's also an implication that he is trying to discourage her from trying to have sex with him.
- Agent Fox Mulder from The X-Files is both an insomniac and a workaholic, so on the rare occasion when we do see him sleep, he prefers a hard couch to a proper bed. In the one episode where he buys a water bed, it starts to leak immediately and he gets rid of it by the next one.
- Invoked by Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation when he finds himself a guest aboard a Klingon cruiser. His quarters are decent though Spartan. It's also pointed out that Klingons do not sleep on soft pads, rather their beds are essentially a shelf. In a show of bravado, Picard smacks his shelf and replies, "Good! I like a firm bed." His difficulty in napping on that shelf belies that bluster.
- In a more realistic and depressing example, in the second season of This Is Us, Randall and Beth adopt a foster daughter who is implied to have experienced a lot of abuse in addition to a generally precarious existence. In one episode, where she is about to sneak out of the house in the middle of the night, she's convinced to stay by Randall and Beth's children, but opts to sleep in a wooden chair rather than a bed, which she finds too soft.
- The Punisher (2017)
- In Season 1, Lewis Wilson, a PTSD-afflicted soldier in Curtis Hoyle's PTSD support group, makes clear he is falling apart when he digs a pit in his backyard to sleep in, even when Curtis points out it's freezing in the middle of November and the pit has no drainage for rainwater (Lewis being used to a desert environment). This, on top of having almost just shot his father by accident, is enough of a red flag that Curtis warns Billy Russo to not hire Lewis to work for Anvil.
- Amy Bendix in season 2 is seen to sleep under the bed, due to PTSD from having witnessed the aftermath of the massacre of her surrogate family, when she had to hide under the bed from the killer after he returned to the scene of the crime.
- Dollhouse: After his contract with the Dollhouse ends Victor a.k.a. Anthony Ceccoli is released to a fancy hotel room to start his new life. On the first night he tries to sleep in the bed but can't get comfortable and moves to the bathtub instead. The implication is that the bathtub is closer in feel to the coffin-like pods that Dolls sleep in.
- The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Bucky sleeps on the floor of his apartment, not being used to a bed after spending decades as an assassin for HYDRA.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Hard Time", Miles O'Brien is sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence by an alien world. On this world however, serving your time consists only of having artificial memories of experiencing it inserted into your mind; thus, he serves what seems to him a decades long sentence and then awakes to find only an hour or so had passed. However, the memories from his sentence are so intense that, upon being reunited with his wife Keiko, she's shocked to find him sleeping on the ground instead of sharing their bed.
- The Legend of Zelda (1989): In the pilot, Link was talking to himself, reminiscing about the days when he was outside, adventuring, sleeping in mud, and how he actually preferred that over sleeping in a bed.
- Invoked by Captain K'nuckles in an episode of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. He has himself and Flapjack sleep in a wooden crate on the hard dock for a few nights as training for Flapjack as he believes a sailor should be "comfortable with being uncomfortable".
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Adora, having spent a good portion of her formative years in spartan barracks with other cadets, has a very hard time adjusting to sleeping alone in her luxurious new chambers at Bright Moon in general and the massive feather bed in particular. Upon learning this, Bow and Glimmer not only set up a sleepover but requisition a utilitarian bunk to replace their new friend's bed with.