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Satisfied Street Rat

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♫ Gotta eat to live, gotta steal to eat, tell you all about it when I got the time! ♫
Kris: Hey, so you had a rough childhood...
Hari: [laughs] I had a great childhood. Where do you think I learned how to fight? By the time I was eight, I knew: Every fight is a fight to the death.

The Satisfied Street Rat is a character archetype common to more cynical works that has the following characteristics:

  1. Grew up in a very unforgiving environment, either orphaned or under Abusive Parents that they quickly learned to avoid.
  2. Is currently a badass of significant caliber, often in a less-than-legal profession, with a cynical view towards life and a practical view towards combat. (Many are very fond of making their foe Talk to the Fist, oddly enough.)
  3. Is happy and even proud of their Dark and Troubled Past, believing that their trial by fire makes them superior. This may make them cocky, but they usually have the savvy and muscle to back up their arrogance.

Frequently Anti Heroes, and often Byronic Heroes who embodies on being Just a Gangster and proud. The degree to which the character is well-adjusted versus harboring a lot of pain inside depends on the writer. See also Wrong Side of the Tracks, Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters. As children, they are more likely to have been The Artful Dodger rather than the Street Urchin, but the Dodger is more of a trickster where the Street Rat is more of a cutthroat. May have been raised by The Fagin. Those who knew the Street Rat as a more vulnerable child may see them as a case of From Nobody to Nightmare in adulthood.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ai no Kusabi: Anti-Hero Badass Biker Riki is a subversion. He may be proud on the outside but was anything but satisfied from being raised in a slum and treated as a mongrel.
  • Firo from Baccano!.
  • Black Lagoon:
    • Revy is a nihilistic One-Woman Army with a very troubled upbringing, but is outright spiteful of the idea of growing up with any other life.
    • Fabiola is a subversion. Fabiola grew up under similar circumstances to Revy but still clings to some degree of morality. Granted in Black Lagoon, that's not saying much...
  • Minene Uryuu from Future Diary.
  • Hellsing's Jan Valentine, big time but he does have a hatred for aristocrats, which isn't good for them.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kyoko Sakura is a Magical Girl who openly uses her power to serve herself, even deliberately enticing Witches to consume humans so she can feed off those Witches. She wasn't always that way.
  • Mugen from Samurai Champloo spent most of his youth as a wanted pirate, which translated into the present as a propensity for violence, a huge ego, and the skill to back them up.
  • Kazuma from Scryed

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin from the Disney 1992 film Aladdin is a proud and resourceful street rat who has no qualms about stealing to survive. At the same time though, he has a kind heart and is actually quite selfless. His entire Establishing Character Moment consists of a song sequence where he sings that he has no qualms doing what he has to do and how he has to steal food to survive... and then concludes with him finding a couple of starving street kids and giving them the food he stole with no hesitation.
  • Black and White from Tekkonkinkreet are Satisfied Street Cats.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the classic 1917 silent adventure serial Judex, the Licorice Kid (age perhaps seven and played by Rene Poyen) is one of these.
    Madame, I am not a beggar. I am a tradesman.
  • Good Will Hunting: Will was one up until his genius is discovered. Most of the drama that follows involves everybody else trying to get through his very thick, belligerent and even occasionally manipulative head that this is not a good way of living.

  • Hari/Caine from The Acts of Caine
  • Puli, the nine-year-old leprous gang leader in the book Nectar In A Sieve, is deeply cynical and deeply proud of how hardened he's become. (He winds up saving the heroine with his skills, although he doesn't do anything for free.)
  • Kim in the Rudyard Kipling book by that title.
  • Briar Moss of the Circle of Magic starts out like this, and opens up as time goes on. He stays tough as nails, however.
  • Ender's Shadow: Both Bean and his arch-enemy, Achilles, show elements of this, having spent their early years fighting to survive on the streets. Bean is more well-adjusted and doesn't seem to dwell on it much. Achilles turned out to be a complete sociopath who just can not let anyone who has ever seen him in a position of weakness live very long. Part of his obsession with Bean seems to stem from just how frequently Bean has put him in positions of weakness.
  • Ferro Maljinn of The First Law. Her background went from war slave to harem mistress to murderous desert fugitive with a vendetta, but the core personality fits this trope spot on.
  • Hissune from Lord Valentine's Castle is this, played straight in the novel itself, while in the sequel it's subverted as all hell when Lord Valentine makes him a nobleman and eventually Valentine's successor as king of Majipoor.
  • Demetrios Makropolous in "A Coffin for Dimitrios" (filmed as "The Mask of Demetrios" with Peter Lorre, Sidney Greenstreet, and Zachary Scott). Demetrios goes from poor fig packer to murderer, smuggler, assassin, and spy.
  • Keiro (from Incarceron) has shades of this.
  • Roarke from In Death fits this rather well, Even if he's reformed now his past still occasionally gives his cop wife fits of apoplexy. He's still utterly unrepentant about the pick-pocketing though and tends to take her badge just to prove he still can.
  • Pepe from Richard Powell's Don Quixote, U.S.A. cheerfully steals, cheats, lies, and fights his way through life on the San Marcos streets and, later, as self-appointed sidekick to Arthur.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mickey Milkovich on Shameless (US). Still not out of his teens, he comes across as much older, is a pimp, and assaults people whenever it suits him. Much of this stems from his harsh upbringing under his violent and erratic father and his family's general involvement in criminal activity, which is nonetheless not very lucrative, as they are fairly poor. That Mickey's father Terry is brutally homophobic (probably due to experiences during his many stints in prison) and Mickey is a Gayngster also contributes to his must-kick-ass-to-survive mentality.
  • Selina "Cat" Kyle in Gotham. She uses Jim Gordon to stay out of juvie, but has no interest in him finding her a better life, and seems quite happy in her career as a pickpocket.


  • It's very common for up-and-coming Mixed Martial Arts fighters to point to their rough childhood as evidence of their toughness and commitment. More experienced fighters tend to shift their focus towards their professional accomplishments.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Iconic character Dai Blackthorn from GURPS is based on this archetype.
  • A very common PC background, especially for characters with stealth or other 'thief' abilities. Because living family is basically bait for a GM to kidnap them and force you to rescue them, but angst annoys the other players, an orphan or abandoned child that's not particularly broken up about it is a good way to avoid your character's backstory interfering with the campaign.

    Video Games 
  • Mission Vao from Knights of the Old Republic is a carefree Twi'lek from the Undercity of the Layered Metropolis that is Taris. She isn't 'hard' but she seems to have developed a lot of confidence through surviving in such a rough environment (having a Wookiee bodyguard helps too).
  • Mass Effect:
  • Annah in Planescape: Torment wavers between this and The Artful Dodger, as a street-smart guttersnipe, but her Fiery Redhead personality and tendency to shove a dagger in the guts of anyone who annoys her pushes her more to this trope.
  • Hikage from Senran Kagura, who went from being an orphan from as far as she can remember, to being a gang member, to being an elite shinobi in Hebijo Academy. Though she is more indifferent about her past as she is about everything else and she doesn't bring up her past that much.
  • In League of Legends, this characterizes Ekko and to a lesser extent Talon. Ekko grew up in the rough parts of Zaun and thrives as the leader of a little band of street kids. Talon grew up in Noxus, a city-state that refuses to help the 'weak' because only the strong should survive. He made it to adulthood by killing anyone who got in his way.

    Web Comics 
  • Quain'tana of Drowtales grew up on the streets with no apparent parents and eventually rose to be one of the greatest war leaders in the worldsetting. Her first "pack" was composed of other street rats that eventually grew into a mercenary empire but unlike other examples, her lack of parental figures really takes its toll on her children.
  • Doc Worth from Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name partly fits: he has the less-than-legal job and is proud of it and his dingy place. It is unknown what his childhood or relationship with his family were like, but they were well-off enough to pay off his med school expenses.
  • Gail Swanson, the Villain Protagonist of When She Was Bad, who lived on the streets for a time between running away from an Orphanage of Fear and joining a gang. The skills she learned during that time make her a significantly better fighter than her heroic counterpart Amber, and she vigorously defends the gang leader who took her in against any moral criticism.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Mimeo; his childhood consisted of being a numbers runner on the streets of New York City, right up until he was told to kill some people or be killed. He gained superpowers and managed to avoid the problem, by putting his father and two assassins in the hospital. He's a supervillain who will do pretty much anything except kill people, and he has selfish reasons for holding back on that account.
    • Sahar, who grew up as an orphan in Beirut in the 1990s, describes herself as having been a Satisfied Street Rat even after being recruited by the CIA, and behaved as such while at Whateley Academy right up until she fell in love with Zenith.

    Western Animation 
  • Megatron of Transformers: Prime wears his life as "a gladiator from the pits of Kaon" as a badge of pride despite the fact that he was a slave because of it.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko (before his "No More Holding Back" Speech) believes that his psychotic father somehow made him stronger, despite the fact that said father burned Zuko's face and banished him for speaking out of turn. Zuko says this in the first season: "I don't want luck, I don't need it. I've always had to fight and struggle. It's made me strong, it's made me who I am." It's made clear, though, that a lot of his pride at his past is him lying to himself, as he doesn't want to acknowledge that Ozai is evil.
  • In Star Wars Rebels, Ezra starts the show as The Artful Dodger, having been orphaned after his parents were arrested by the Empire on his seventh birthday. When he meets the Ghost crew, he balks at their heroic, selfless, and family-like lifestyle until he realizes being Good Feels Good and that he wants that life too. As Season 1 goes on, he's conflicted when he learns his parents may be alive (later revealed to still be in prison), as he was driven to stay alive by believing that the only reason why they couldn't come back for him was because they died. It also becomes clear throughout the show that Ezra has abandonment issues and is afraid of ending up alone again.

    Real Life 
  • Very common in most countries to be proud of having worked yourself out of a Gangsterland neighborhood or some other tough lifestyle.
  • Many gladiators came to embrace the lifestyle and adoration of the crowd. If such a thing existed today (or if they allowed such to compete in the NFL), it would be similar to a prison football team wanting life in prison because of all the fans they get by actually being the prison's football team.