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Scavenger World

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"...did you ever try to put a broken piece of glass back together? Even if the pieces fit, you can't make it whole again the way it was. But if you're clever, you can still use the pieces to make other useful things. Maybe even something wonderful, like a mosaic. Well, the world broke just like glass. And everyone's trying to put it back together like it was, but it'll never come together in the same way."
Moira Brown, author of The Wasteland Survival Guide, Fallout 3

In modern society, everything is so interconnected that any product is the result of that entire society. People who put products together, people who got the materials the products are made of, people who run the machines that generate the power required for those things... et cetera. Even the things people tend to forget or disassociate with the production of a product: people who write the manuals, people who act as "gofers" for all the other people, middle-management, the people who drive materials, and products around, etc. And that's without going into all the people who need to do their jobs so those people can do their jobs note .

Then consider all the people behind the construction of the tools required to do each of those things, and then who make the tools required to make those, and so on, and so on.

Now, suppose a large majority of mankind were to be suddenly wiped out? There would be huge holes in the knowledge of how to produce things. Sure, someone might know how to fix the engine of a car, but if there's no one who knows how to make spark plugs, one is forced to hope they can find workable ones in the debris left After the End. And then there's the need for gasoline. And oil, and tires, and antifreeze and batteries, and... well, you get the idea.

And even if someone does know how to make those key components, all that knowledge is little more than useless trivia if the infrastructure of society has been disrupted to the point that the raw materials can no longer be supplied. This is especially true if the power grid has been destroyed since most modern manufacturing processes require extensive use of computers, power tools, and precision that no human hand is capable of.

These knowledge "holes" would tend to grow larger as generations went by. Society would have to rely on scavenging workable machinery without the knowledge of how it was made or the basic principles it works on, eventually resulting in Low Culture, High Tech.

This is the basis of a Scavenger World, and if enough of the cogs are lost you end up with Lost Technology.

Moreover, the physical cogs don't last forever; a Scavenger World that goes on long enough usually has to invoke Ragnarök Proofing to explain why anything still works at all.note 

In terms of combat, expect most people to be kitted out in Improvised Armour and wielding Improvised Weapons. Salvage Pirates and Wasteland Warlords tend to be the villains of choice, opposed by a rugged, mysterious anti-hero.

A Sub-Trope of Improvisational Ingenuity.

An elaboration of Schizo Tech. Possession Implies Mastery and Scavengers Are Scum (no relation) are always averted here. After the End examples of the Scavenger World often overlap with Crapsack World, though Scavenger Worlds no better or worse than the modern have occurred in fiction here and there.

Compare Cosy Catastrophe. Compare and contrast with Apocalyptic Logistics. See also Disaster Scavengers. If you ask a scavenger about where this stuff came from, they'll say it was all made in The Beforetimes. May also involve an Archaeological Arms Race. When technology is rebuilt from scavenged trash it's Scavenged Punk.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • After War Gundam X has an entire class of people called "Vultures" dedicated to scavenging technology, their After the End was a pretty bad one too. 10-Billion casualty mass colony drop. It's lucky any humans survived!
  • Casshern Sins: metal parts that aren't corroded by The Ruin are very valued and coveted by both humans and cyborgs.
  • Battle Angel Alita — Rather justified by the trash of (and occasional exiles from) the apparently utopian sky city being dumped into the middle to town.
  • The colony world (or far-future Earth, depending on your interpretation) on which My-Otome is set seems to be in the beginning stages of this. Certain technologies — like the Otome nanites — are only available in specific cities, and there generally isn't sufficient scientific skill elsewhere to reproduce them. This is, in fact, a major plot point.
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Very few people know how to make or repair most of the machines in the film, and the weapons that caused this After the End scenario are hoped to remain Lost Technology. In the manga, characters are always concerned to salvage the engines from downed aircraft, and the Valley of the Wind maintains its (relative) independence from two large empires by virtue of owning a two-seat pre-collapse gunship.
  • The planet Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet takes place on. After an apocalyptic event, the entire surface of the planet is covered by ocean. People live in floating cities and scavenge the ruins under the ocean. Good scavengers seem to be respected.
  • In Trigun, most of the human population of the planet "Gunsmoke" has settled near the broken remains of the spaceships that brought them there. Very few people survive who know how to fix and repair the surviving ship "plants", and the current tech level of society has apparently decayed quite a bit from the level it once had just to make the trip.
  • In Desert Punk, there are the remains of whole cities that are occasionally found with scavengable supplies, though by the story's start one hasn't been found in decades. The Oasis Government, seemingly the only ones capable of producing food in the manga, supply everyone outside of their Elaborate Underground Bases with resources to get by for the sole purpose of having a workforce to doing the scavenging while its citizens on the inside have whole corporations based on reverse-engineering it (and to provide an example of how bad things are, one incredibly rich and legendary scavenger we meet made his fortune and fame out of salvaging an intact copy of The Game of Life).
  • The Weathering Continent is set in a desolate world ravaged by disasters and other catastrophe leaving people to scavenge for precious resources like water.
  • The Dust Zone in Digimon Fusion is one that's also a massive junkyard. The local villain is forcing the other Digimon to give it parts so it can escape to another zone.

    Comic Books 
  • The 2000 AD comic strip Nemesis the Warlock features a warlike human culture, Termight, who are at war with everyone else in the universe despite the fact that culturally and technologically, they are regressing. They fight with medieval weapons, their Humongous Mecha are recycled, one of them can only move its feet with the aid of men turning capstans, etc.note 
  • Wasteland takes place in a scavenger world thanks to "the big wet".
  • During and a little while after Batman: No Man's Land, everybody scavenged everything. One apple was worth more than a crate of 9mm ammo.

    Fan Works 
  • Better Bones AU: Kittypets and BloodClan cats often take antibiotics from humans' homes, knowing that they are valuable medicines. BloodClan and SkyClan are mentioned to steal other things as well; for example, SkyClan cats might take birdbaths for a flea-removing bath, or BloodClan cats might take salt.

    Films — Animation 
  • 9: The stitchpunks scavenge in what is left of the world after a robot/human war that rendered the earth completely uninhabited, even by bacteria.
  • Sky Blue: The Diggers' society works much like this; some, such as Shua and Moe, know how to assemble machines, but they mostly have to steal the parts from Ecoban.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Babylon A.D.: Russia has become a ravaged country with areas controlled by warlords and nuclear contamination zones.
  • A Boy and His Dog: Despite the Talking Animal angle, definitely Not For Kids.
  • The British dystopian sci-fi movie Doomsday plays with this trope: The walled-off Scotland looks like something from a Mad Max sequel with no or few gunpowder weapons in use, very limited electricity and really ramshackle cars kitbashed together from old wrecks; the rest of Britain still bears a passing resemblance to what it's like today but seems to be turning slowly into this, as we see its authorities treat tanks as Lost Technology.
  • Hardware (1990) superimposes a Scavenger World with a functioning military-industrial complex going to hell in a handbasket. Scavenging is central to the plot: the story kicks off in war-blasted desert when a wandering scavenger finds a dismembered robot buried in the sand and takes the pieces back to the City to sell.
  • Hell Comes to Frogtown is another work inspired by Mad Max.
  • Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior was successful and influential in bringing the Scavenger World trope to the big screen. The tone and visuals inspired many subsequent works.
  • Oblivion: The underground world beneath the surface of the Earth, where the remaining humans live.
  • The middle section of the 1930s movie Things to Come shows a scavenger society slowly breaking down.
  • Threads: The legendarily bleak British Docudrama is indirectly based on this trope, the title threads being those that hold society together - the food we produce, the goods we make. Following a nuclear war, we follow an increasingly desperate struggle for survival in a grim world where deputized traffic wardens shoot looters on sight, a pregnant woman is forced to eat raw sheep and mill her own grain after stealing it from a government depot and the only remaining form of powered agriculture is an antique traction engine. Not to mention the horrific parody of school played on a barely functional VCR.
  • Waterworld. Scavenged anti-aircraft machinegun used as a terrestrial (well, aquatic) attack weapon? Check. Small town/islands made of scavenged sheet metal and random equipment? Check. Scavenged oil tanker, moved with oars? Check.
  • The Matrix. The real Earth is a wasteland. Mankind has cobbled together technology to form the sole oasis for humanity, underground. The kicker? All but the One aren't aware that the Machines destroy that city every 100 years or so, when the One shows up, keying the required reloading (reboot) of the Matrix. According to the Architect in The Matrix Reloaded, they've blown Zion up five times before Neo. Zion is used to allowing uppity humans that reject the Matrix a place to hang out so the Machines can keep most others unaware and enslaved in the Matrix.
  • Star Wars:
    • The desert world of Tatooine is this for the Jawas in A New Hope. They pick up lost droids and wrecked ships' components when they don't steal stuff at least.
    • Jakku from The Force Awakens is yet another desert world. It is littered with the burned-out hulks of Imperial and Galactic Alliance war machines, which the few inhabitants break apart to exchange for food and other supplies.
  • Screamers: The Hunting. The cyborg Screamers and the few remaining human survivors scavenge each other's bodies for food and equipment.
  • Mindwarp has Crawlers; mutants savages lead by a charismatic cult leader played by Angus Scrimm who work mining a garbage dump for useful materials and artifacts from the previous civilization in order to build a new one.
  • Last Sentinel takes place on an isolated sea fort, battered by regular storms in a Flooded Future World. The crew supplement their supplies by lowering a net into the ocean and catching the fish that are driven into it by the storm, as well as taking their dinghy out to the vast fields of floating debris pushed ahead of the storm surge. Both are risky operations because you have to get back to the fort before the storm hits, and there's not enough fuel for the outboard engine, so the dinghy has to be rowed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Aftermath: The episode "World Without Oil" explores the hypothetical scenario of what would happen if the earth's oil reservoirs suddenly disappeared. It involves society's slippage into one of these as people scavenge the dumpsters for electronics from which they can extract precious metals as well as plastic products that they can reuse.
  • Andor: The industry on Ferrix is mostly connected to salvage yards, and repurposing old unwanted parts and finding uses for derelict ships is a standard cultural practice. Cassian remembers his father telling him about seeing past the rust to the potential of things.
  • Babylon 5: Implied in "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars". Far in Earth's future, a "great burn-out" has pushed humanity back into the medieval age. The Rangers try to slowly reintroduce technology but have to rely on extraterrestrial help to come by supplies like gasoline. This episode was inspired by A Canticle for Leibowitz.
  • The Colony: This show is a simulation of life in a world where most of the population has been killed by a virus. The objective is for a group of strangers to build a working society using stuff left behind in a (mostly) empty city.
  • Falling Skies: Takes place in a world six months after an Alien Invasion has destroyed most major cities and wiped out a large majority of humanity. The survivors' first priority (as well as making sure to avoid the aliens) is raiding stores and warehouses for remaining food and weapons. In the pilot, the protagonist is captured by a gang of outlaws. The leader offers him a beer, which the protagonist is surprised to learn is cold. Apparently, the outlaws managed to salvage a working generator and a fridge. The survivors also have to extract fuel from cars to use in their own vehicles (all pre-microchip, as the aliens used EMP on a massive scale).
  • Jericho (2006): Follows the immediate aftermath of an apocalypse, but there is a bit of this: improvised or scavenged sources of electricity, scavenged weapons, no food outside of what can be grown locally, etc.
  • Miracle Workers: End Times: In this satire of the After the End genre, this is Morris's job. He runs a junk shop in which he buys and sells useful scraps of the machines and technology that existed before the nuclear apocalypse. He's quite correct when he tells Sid that "It's not trash, it's junk."
  • Revolution: Set fifteen years after the electricity goes off all over the world. The Monroe Republic is able to make their own black powder muskets but have to scavenge for more advanced technology and cannot manufacture ammunition for their pre-Blackout weapons. They have a functioning railway but their steam engine was salvaged from a museum ("Soul Train"). In contrast, the Georgia Federation is much more advanced and is building new steam engines and seagoing ships ("The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia").
  • Scrapheap Challenge or, as it was known in the US, Junkyard Wars: Probably part of the inspiration behind this show. Two teams comprised of three engineers go into a junkyard and build anything ranging from buggies to firetrucks, and they always end up looking like something from a Scavenger World.
  • The Tribe: Deals with a world After the End, where a virus wiped out every person beyond the age of 18. The remaining kids and children, of course, struggle with exactly this trope.
  • The Walking Dead: As a result of Zombie Apocalypse.
  • The 100: The Grounders are a hunter/gatherer society, but still have access to plenty of steel weapons and tools leftover from before the apocalypse.
  • Thunderstone, in its first season, finds Noah in an underground city during an ice age caused by the destruction of the Nemesis Comet, source of the titular Thunderstone, and somehow manages to modify the VR helmets the citizens use to travel in time. Upon meeting the tribe of feral kids, he believes he is in the past but turns out to be in the future, as is revealed when he encounters the remains of the underground colony and finds another faction of scavengers who form a dictatorship and use mechanized vehicles.
  • StormWorld has the protagonists taken by a strange storm to an unidentified world in which several other humanoid peoples have been dumped, with varying tech levels. Scavenging whatever wreckage the storms bring, they try to eke out a living while the worst of them come on flying bikes to take everything for themselves. A girl from Earth seems to have managed to build a submersible from part of an aircraft...
  • The Warlpiri Media Association's BushMechanics has Outback Indigenous communities doing anything you can't imagine to keep a car mobile, even having to work pumps by hand as the car is moving and using bits of broken boomerang to make brake shoes. Somehow, out on a bush track, there's often an old battery to retrieve lead from to melt in a hubcap in order to fix a radiator crack, and wire to hold on a piece of fallen branch in place of the cross-member that fell off the underframe...

  • Leslie Fish's song "The Discards", from Firestorm: Songs of the Third World War, describes a post-apocalyptic encounter between super-sophisticated transports, "sleek and bossy, all stuffed with high-tech gear", and scavenged vehicles composed mainly of simple but effective "armor, wheels, and gun". In fact, several songs from that album fall into the Scavenger World category: notably "Black Powder and Alcohol", "Blue Bread Mold", and "Hello! Remember Us?"

    Tabletop Games 
  • Atomic Highway goes so far as to have a Scavenger Pursuit (essentially a character class), a Scavenge skill, and multiple pages of tables for what you find when scavenging a specific kind of location.
  • BattleTech started out this way, with the destruction of almost all the infrastructure to build the interstellar starships (FTL warship shipyards were all lost), and most of the factories to produce advanced technology were destroyed or abandoned, causing 'Mechs and tanks to be pilfered for spare parts. Things eventually got better with the discovery of a data disc containing schematics for the destroyed factories and the underlying science for some equipment. Battlefield Salvage is still a critical component of most games.
    • The Helm Memory Core was a bit more than a "data disk"; officially it was designated "Star League Field Library Facility, Helm, DE 890-2699" and was a massive computer facility and data archive built into an enlarged system of natural caves underneath a mountain range, with built-in Ragnarök Proofing to keep it safe. It was an intentional Fling a Light into the Future situation where the idealistic officer of an engineering battalion foresaw the humanity-spanning wars just over the horizon, and so he had his men construct a huge data archive to preserve the advanced knowledge of the Star League, which was basically humanity's Golden Age. That long-ago officer would have been very happy to know that his plan ended up being massively successful, and lead to a technological renaissance across the Inner Sphere of human space, its discovery being a huge universe-shaking event which actually moved the entire setting away from its original Scavenger World scenario toward a more standard Military Science-Fiction setting.
  • d20 Modern: d20 Apocalypse specializes in the post-apocalyptic setting, and features rules on scavenging supplies and bartering with them.
  • Deadlands: Deadlands: Hell on Earth takes place After the End, and has hosts of broken machinery that not many people know how to use. (Then again, unless it helps keep your head out of an irradiated zombie's mouth, most people don't care.) Enter the Junkers, "techno-shamans" who duct-tape together odd amalgams of old tech and enchant it back into working order. A player character can even be a Junker, and Junkers are known for (re-)creating odd bits of technology that seem at odds with the rest of the world's current level of knowledge.
  • Exalted: The River Province of Creation is more widely known as the Scavenger Lands, because it's the only place with a fairly large stock of half functioning First Age tech (much of which has not yet been recovered) available in societally usable quantities.
  • Fading Suns: The setting's society is locked in a Feudal Future a thousand years after the collapse of non-feudal civilization. Although it is functioning, most technological advances are still caused by the recovery of pre-collapse tech. Discovery of a decent stash can be a major tilt to military and political balance, and there is a major guild specializing in digging up lost tech.
  • Gamma World Scrounging stuff from pre-apocalyptic ruins was the game's usual equivalent of dungeon-crawling.
  • Godbound from Sine Nomine has this on two levels. One, most of the old technology has stopped working due to the laws of physics failing, making it interesting loot for any pantheon with the power to get it running again. Two, Heaven itself is broken, and the Godbound are scavenging its bits to see if they can fix it, build something better, or just kick the backsides of their rivals.
  • Junk was set on a planet of exiled rednecks where they amused themselves by building giant robots out of junk with beer-fuelled engines to fight each other with. You were free to make minis out of any old cr@p you could find.
  • Myriad Song is a bit of a mix, a few planets survived the disappearance of the Syndics with their industry and infrastructure intact, others, known as "derelict" worlds, not so much. The result is a Space Opera where one side of a battle might be armed with rayguns, while the other has zip-guns made from rusty pipes.
  • Nuclear Renaissance has a design style that seems to echo Orkish engineering, both in terms of size (vehicles way too big for real-life roads) and in the fact that it all seems to have been sculpted from riveted-together fragments of scrap metal. Many of the vehicles are available piece by piece from the store, allowing all manner of custom nonsense creations.
  • Numenera is set on Earth billions of years into the future, after eight great civilizations (at least) have risen and fell, leaving behind a world practically made of unaging ruins where Dungeon Crawling is a vital part of life. Much of the current, primitive civilization is built around scavenging ancient technology and exploiting it, not always in ways it was necessarily meant to be used.
  • Rocket Age, despite being a Raygun Gothic setting has Io. Io, being a blasted post-apocalyptic wasteland, is full of native tribes searching for the best materials among the ruins. Occasionally Earthlings come by to try their hand at treasure hunting; if things go poorly they can easily find themselves facing off against Iotes armed with zip-guns, bows, and crossbows.
  • Summerland: As the game is set fairly shortly after the Event and mostly around the ruins of towns and cities, most characters rely heavily on scavenging through the ruins for food and useful items — abandoned supermarkets are a major source of food, and the discovery of a cache of weapons or gear in a store or bunker can attract drifter bands and settled interests from miles around.
  • Twilight: 2000: With the nuking of most major cities and the plagues and starvation that followed, the world has become this.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Much of the Imperium of Man's technology is ancient and only kept running by a specialized religious priesthood performing maintenance by ritual. The Adeptus Mechanicus worship the "machine spirit" (but only as an alternate manifestation of the Emperor, because it would be heresy otherwise). The Imperium falls somewhere between Scavenger World and Lost Technology; because they're not actually scavenging existing technology for the most part (except for a few ancient and notable pieces of equipment); but rather are dependent upon the use of ancient "templates" used by their automated manufacturing plants. The technological caste functions more as archeologists than researchers; and any "advances" are not due to modification of existing designs, but re-discovery of lost templates. Scavenger World applies best to the really big weapons systems like Titans and superheavy combat vehicles; where there are no templates left, and thus no ability to manufacture more.
    • For Orkz, it's opposite from the above Machine Cult. All Orkz have knowledge of basic physics and mechanics literally encoded into their genes, thus every Ork can smelt metal to make their choppa and scrounge enough junk together to make a functioning shoota. Some Orkz, the Mekz, have an even greater instinctive understanding of these principles and can make teleporters, laser & plasma weaponry, massive walkers, and even spaceships (with assistance of course). The problem is, the Ork doing the building doesn't really understand what he's doing, because its mostly subconscious, which is why Ork technology looks so ramshackle and generally isn't standardized.
    • The spinoff Gorkamorka plays it straight with Orks, however. Most of the metal on the planet is there because of their descending Space Hulk and a very unlucky Imperial expedition, and their first attempt to build a new ship out of it ended in disaster because Orks will pick fights for any available reason (in this case, which of their functionally identical gods the ship looked like more). As a result, a lot of the game is about small Ork warbands beating each other up in fights over scrap.

  • The planet of Bara Magna in BIONICLE. Many of its inhabitants scavenge the deserts for anything worth using or selling. Other methods in dealing with resources involve Glatorian fights, with tribes betting on resources to win over.
  • The original minicomics packaged with the Masters of the Universe figures had Eternia as such a world, devastated by "the Great Wars" (however, the Wind Raider was still a recent creation of Man-At-Arms). This is absent from later minicomics and other media.

  • The world of Aurora Danse Macabre, thanks to a yet unexplained apocalypse.
  • The world of Cyber Scrapyard webcomics was densely populated and technologically advanced a long time ago. But after the mysterious Catastrophe, most of humanity died, and many of the industrial buildings were destroyed. Not surprisingly, the most advanced technologies were lost. So finding high tech remained from the old world, is a good business here.
  • El Goonish Shive: The Fantasy Wasteland NP arc features one of these worlds. Mind you, it's a scavenger world based off a fantasy world, so the "Raider Bandits" have repurposed armor made out of wooden barrels, one with a wagon wheel strapped to his back.
  • In the world of Glorianna, old-time tech is generally used only in the crudest fashion (e.g., a tribe living in the hollowed-out remains of an old cargo plane), and only the small, fanatical cult of Syons actively tries to get ancient devices working again.
  • A Moment of Peace is a Lighter and Softer version of a post-apocalyptic scavenger world.
  • Post-Nuke takes place on what remains of Earth after a nuclear war. The main character wanders around with his dog, and can't trust anybody. Everybody is trying to get what little there's left, and so it's hard to make friends. Some are even continuing the war...
  • It's never explained why "Wastelanders Anonymous'' takes place in this setting but the population of Earth has somehow dropped to almost none. There's no electricity. Most people are in survival mode except Anne who's trying to build a museum in order to salvage as much heritage from the former world as she can.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Thundarr the Barbarian many humans and other beings live in the ruins of ancient structures and even wear oddly well-preserved 20th Century clothes.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts takes place about two hundred years After the End and our heroes subsist partially, by scavaging the ruins of shops where things like bags of crisps and cheese whiz have stayed fresh considerably past their sell-by date. Elsewhere in the setting, plumbing still works and mutant animals ride cars pulled by giant insects.
  • Droners: Technology is usually a mix-and match between crude and advanced, human and Aqua parts. Even human-designed machines are often scavenged from the sea, or built with parts that were.

    Real Life 
  • Definitely Truth in Television in poor nations without native industrial capacity, especially where high-tech imports are scarce. Especially in Cuba, due to the USA trade embargo after their revolution. And North Korea, with its crumbling infrastructure and isolationist policies.
    • Some poorer parts of the developing world (e. g. some countries in Africa, or India) can afford little new technology or replacement parts to speak of, forcing them to weld metal using old car batteries or welders with transformers made out of cardboard, which is actually impressive resourcefulness from the people in question. This is how William Kamkwamba built his windmill.
    • This also happens in Australian indigenous communities in the Outback, as seen on Bush Mechanics. Try stuffing a length of mulga tree wood into the spring next time you break one (and see how far you get before you get pink-stickered off the road.)
  • Some second and third-world countries buy planes off the first world's airlines. This isn't so bad at first because many first-world airlines replace planes every five years or so. But then these second-hand buyers sell on those planes to a lower-class airline, who will sell those planes on and further on... and then the planes get cannibalized until it gets to the point where some third-world airlines own planes that are a combination of third, fourth and fifth-hand planes.
  • In India many poor people will pore over rubbish dumps and tips for anything useful/worth selling to recycling companies. It has been described as one of the most efficient recycling methods ever. Unfortunately, India (like many poor countries) is a dumping ground for vast quantities of toxic waste that First-Worlders don't want to bother recycling, like electronics. The scavengers picking through these things are unknowingly exposed to all kinds of lovely toxins such as PCB, lead, cadmium, mercury, and various poisonous solvents and carcinogens.
  • China, in particular, is one of the world's most polluted countries because many people there buy broken-down computers and other tech-junk to burn off the plastic to get to the valuable silver and gold in the circuit boards. The resulting smoke is incredibly toxic, and these people work 9, 10, 11-hour days in this smoke.
  • Many areas that are hit with war or major natural disaster become this.
  • Became quite common during the Great Depression as hardly anyone could afford to buy anything. One of the best examples is the Hoover Wagon, a car rigged to a harness and pulled by a horse or donkey, as the owner couldn't afford gas.
  • In his semi-satirical treatise on economics, "Eat the Rich", P.J. O'Rourke illustrates how even something as simple as a pencil requires the combination of so many different component parts (wood, graphite, rubber, steel, paint) and specialized skills to get each of those (botany, geology, mining, carpentry, milling, metalworking, chemistry, painting) that it's functionally impossible for any single person to make one on their own. Yet a single pencil is seen as a cheap throwaway item because modern industrial society can mass produce them seemingly effortlessly.
    • The idea was first posited in an essay called I, Pencil by Richard Read, but more famously paraphrased by Milton Friedman.
  • The rat rodding scene has this in droves, mostly due to the majority of rat rodders having completely missed the point about rat rods and simply feeding their Mad Max fetish. Some rat rods are built like that on purpose, as post-apocalyptic art, others because they genuinely are poor quality and are "dodgied" together, which is also the bulk of any repairs they may need. Survival bikes are a similar concept; while rat bikes look like they have been improvised back to life repeatedly and often because they have.
  • Ironically, hobbyists who practice traditional handicrafts sometimes find the modern world to be a Scavenger World of sorts, in that historically-accurate materials and tools can be almost impossible to track down in a society where advanced technologies have long since supplanted them. Just try tracking down replacement parts for a 13th-century spinning wheel or a Roman-style suit of armor outside of a museum.
  • Similarly, anyone in the retro video game or computer scene knows the feeling all too well.
    • While things like the Commodore 64 or the Apple ][ have plenty of off-the-shelf components that are still produced to this day, anything that's gone out of production like the 6502 processornote , keyboard keys, CRTsnote , etc. is finite and in constant dwindling supply.
    • Meanwhile, while there are many third-party controllers for retro consoles still produced to this day, they are often poorly made and lacking necessary features (like a central pivot in the D-pad, or lacking the pressure-sensitive shoulder buttons of the Nintendo GameCube) that make them difficult to use in lieu of the ever dwindling supply of official leftover components. It's not uncommon to see these things on eBay, advertised as broken and non-functioning, actually being bid on by retro enthusiasts who just want to scavenge the parts.
  • Urban scavengers, dumpster divers and freegans see the cities where they live as this. Freegans believe in living entirely on what they find in dumpsters as a way to reduce waste and to protest the capitalist system. Others do it for profit, selling what they find on Craigslist and Ebay, or keeping what they find for themselves.
  • Scientists doing nuclear physics experiments have sometimes resorted to scavenging old lead and steel for instruments. Why? Because everything newer has been contaminated by nuclear fallout (not at level to be dangerous, but enough to matter for sensitive detectors).
  • During the 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Russians have been hit by shortages of electronic chips that they used to import, mainly from the US, affecting many things from tanks to missiles. They resorted to using chips from home appliances, particularly washing machines and dishwashers, hence the mass looting of such appliances in Ukraine.

    Russian logistics issues and supply shortages have forced their soldiers to scavenge the occupied areas for materials. A picture of a Russian soldier wearing a child's Among Us themed backpack has particularly become infamous.