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The Tramp

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A subtrope of Hobos, the Tramp is a romanticized vagrant. He rarely has any significant material possessions. He survives from day to day via grifting, mooching, petty thievery, and playing off others' sympathies. He's usually quite intelligent, though, and generally won't do anything truly horrible. Walking the Earth is part and parcel of a Tramp character — if he stays in one place he's not a Tramp.

If the heroes are looking for a down-to-Earth character to restore their faith in humanity, the Tramp can usually do it. He's also usually well-connected, with other tramps; they form something of a cooperative union.

In some works, the existence of the Tramp can be proof of a Crapsack World.

Tramps are sometimes portrayed as straight villains, but this role usually falls to Crazy Homeless People in modern fiction.

The Tramp is most common in works Older Than Television. If he does appear nowadays, he's not as likely to be called a "tramp," due to Have a Gay Old Time — nowadays "tramp" is often used to mean a woman who Really Gets Around.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Played on in the former English title of You're My Pet: Tramps Like Us. Momo, the male lead, is practically homeless, sleeping on couches. Our female lead, Sumire, finds him sleeping in a box.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The best-known characters portrayed by Charlie Chaplin fall under this type (and, in fact, "the Tramp" is often the closest thing the character has to a name). Before Hilarity Ensues, the Chaplin character can often be found trying to think of a way to get dinner, but he will jump at the chance for a paying job when it comes up. Although Chaplin wore that costume for almost every movie he made from 1914 through 1940, his Tramp wasn't always a homeless person. In Mabel's Strange Predicament (1914), Chaplin's second film appearance and the debut of the Tramp, he is a drunken hotel guest. In A Day's Pleasure (1919) he has a wife and kids; in Pay Day he has a steady job and a wife (that he hates). However, in Chaplin's features, starting with The Kid, the Tramp is always a vagrant.
  • Both versions of My Man Godfrey, though the forgotten man (a.k.a. tramp) starts out rich, goes on to be a tramp, makes the money back, and uses it to help the other tramps. Oh, and marries the pretty rich girl.
  • Alan in The Petrified Forest is a failed author who is hitchhiking across America, without a dime to his name, after his rich wife dumped him. He's charming and erudite and Gabrielle the truck stop waitress is instantly enchanted with him.

  • The classic (in Ashkenazi culture) folk hero Herschel of Ostropol is the very definition of this trope. His always-successful cons included telling a man that a table could lay golden coins, convincing a couple that he was insane/dangerous, and talking to a fish.
  • Belgarath is introduced at the beginning of The Belgariad as a wandering storyteller but is later revealed to be something else, and could thus also be considered an aversion of this trope. In the prequel Belgarath the Sorcerer it's revealed that he has played this part for about 500 years before the events of the first novel.
  • Older Than Radio: Pretty much everyone at the Court of Miracles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In fact, Gringoire becomes a tramp once he gets there on penalty of death. Later in the book Jehan joins up, too, mostly because he's run out of money and is tired of going to school.
  • Oskar (who calls himself "Paradise Oskar") in the The Astrid Lindgren book Rasmus and the Tramp (also known as Rasmus and the Vagabond). The twist is that Oskar is not homeless, and he's even married; he just likes to live out his romantic vagabond fantasies in the summer.
  • A Vagabond Journey Around the World features Harry Franck in his voyage to make a trip around the world without spending any money. He inevitably falls into the character type, as do most of the other people he befriends.
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's Freckles, what he looks like at first appearance:
    At a glance he might have been mistaken for a tramp, but he was truly seeking work.

  • In the Bruce Springsteen song "Born to Run," the singer identifies himself and his lover as tramps, implying this is one reason they need to leave town and hit the open road.

  • On NoPixel, Solomon Seerson is a kind homeless man who became a lawyer to help other downtrodden individuals.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the tabletop gaming community, adventurer parties with no set goal apart from "kill things, take their stuff" are derisively known as "murderhoboes", i.e. violent lunatics who slaughter everything in their way, loot everything not nailed down, and leave when the law/the Big Bad comes after them.