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Trashy Trailer Home

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Just a normal day in a (fictional) trailer park.

A subtrope of Horrible Housing that treats a trailer like the most horrible sort of housing available.

Because of the ubiquity of "Friends" Rent Control in fiction, the quickest way to establish that a character is extremely poor is to have them live in a trailer or RV park. In fiction, trailers are only ever inhabited by the poorest characters — and bonus points if they are also loutish, Addled Addicts, The Alcoholic, or stupid (hence "trailer trash"). As well, bonus points if the trailers are dilapidated and the land around them looks like a garbage-strewn scrapyard with rusting cars and broken appliances everywhere.

In fiction, the inhabitants of trailer parks collect social assistance to live, supplementing their check with lowbrow crimes like selling (or cooking up) meth, stealing items and selling them, and selling illegal guns. Women are depicted as making a living from The Oldest Profession or stripping. If the protagonist themselves is not one, they'll probably live in a trailer with Abusive Parents. In an American work, expect the trailer's inhabitants to exhibit Deep South and/or Flyover Country stereotypes, owing to the association of trailers and mobile homes with the Southern United States. You're also likely to find people living in old trailers on the Neglected Rez.

There may be overlap with Pottery Barn Poor, where, in spite of their poverty, the characters will still have nice clothes, cars from the year of the production and other middle-class amenities like new laptops.

This trope has the distinction of being Truth in Television and not. To some extent, the "trailer trash" stereotype grew out of the "shanty towns" that sprung up during The Great Depression, although they were often tents or shacks. The modern modular/manufactured home, meanwhile, was popularized by Alabama businessman James Sweet after World War II, and most of them were and still are sold to lower-income and lower-middle class people as a cheaper alternative to normal houses. It's true that they were often unsanitary, unregulated, poorly built, and miserable places to live compared to the alternatives, even if regulations since The '70s have cracked down on the worst examples. In the 2020s, though, there are well-maintained RV parks. Nonetheless, the "trailer trash" stereotype is now so embedded in modern culture that the mere glance at a trailer home will be used to communicate the poverty and/or misery of a character's situation.

In Europe, this trope also grew out of unpleasant stereotypes about Irish Travellers and Romani people, specifically due to their nomadic lifestyle and criminal reputations. (However, in the modern day, trailer inhabitants will generally not be nomadic.) If they are, it may be a variety of a person who Lives in a Van, but generally not.

The significance of these portrayals is that the trailer itself is the source of much mockery and/or distaste. Trailer Park Tornado Magnet can be one reason why, but in general, the reasons why trailers are disproportionately horrible will usually rely on internal reasons.

This trope will most often apply when the character is the only person who lives in one, with the Big Fancy House as standard. However, it can apply to trailer parks in general if they are portrayed as a Wretched Hive.


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  • One print ad for software has an assemblage of rednecks and skanks lounging outside a rundown trailer, representing unused and orphan files left behind from outdated or uninstalled programs. The software claims to expunge these useless files from one's hard drive, freeing up storage space.

    Fan Works 
  • In Strange House, Oreburgh City is so poverty-stricken that even the town's gym leader Byron and his family live in a mobile home surrounded by tires and rusted metal scraps.

    Films — Animated 
  • Davey Stone from Eight Crazy Nights lives in a very small trailer near a junkyard. His trailer has no electricity and no running water, because no one wants to hire an insulting, alcoholic jerkass. Davey is somewhat looking forward to being sent to jail for his misdemeanors, as jail has heated cells and working toilets. Davey loses what little he had when a Sore Loser sets Davey's trailer ablaze.
  • In Shrek Forever After, Rumpelstiltskin is introduced living in a hackneyed fantasy equivalent, a "carriage park" populated primarily by witches acting out various redneck stereotypes. The queen locks the doors when they ride through.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 8 Mile: Rabbit is frequently mocked for his family living in a trailer. He manages to turn what would be a source of shame into a Pretender Diss by revealing that his final rap battle opponent lives affluently with his mother and sister.
  • In The Craft, Nancy is perceived as "white trash" because she lives in a trailer park. Her home is messy and cramped with a leaking roof, and electricity isn't always reliable (though this partly because her mother and stepfather are irresponsible when it comes to paying bills).
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: Amber and her violent chain-smoking alcoholic mother live in a trailer home (until it burns down).
  • In Hot Fuzz, this is invoked as an important part of the backstory: When a bunch of travelers settled down in the town of Sandford shortly before the Town of the Year competition several years ago, they ruined the town'ss looks so much by being a bunch of louts that the town lost that year. This caused Inspector Frank Butterman's wife, who had driven herself to the point of exhaustion to clean up the town, to fall into despair and decide to get in her car and "have a traffic collision". This in turn caused Inspector Butterman, who is the local chief of police, to become psychotic and gather a number of the town's like-minded townsmen to enforce Sandford's pristine appearance so it would never lose the "Town of the Year" award ever again, by murdering anybody who did anything that threatened that appearance, no matter how insignificant or petty. Shortly after he hears Butterman's Motive Rant, Sergeant Nicholas Angel runs into one of the abandoned caravans while running away from the bad guys trying to silence him, now full of skeletons (making it a very literal example).
  • Played for Horror in Kid Detective (2020). Grace is held captive as a Sex Slave in a trailer in Principal Erwin's garden.
  • Kill Bill: Budd the ex-assassin lives in an isolated, dingy trailer in the desert, works as a janitor at a failing strip club under an awful boss, and quietly hopes to die.
  • Legally Blonde has one scene in a trailer park, where Elle helps her manicurist friend reclaim her dog from her loutish ex-husband.
  • Million Dollar Baby: Maggie's family are portrayed as irredeemable jerkass trash who only want to get money out of her. They all live in trailers, of which Maggie (the only person shown to be interested in escaping) is the only decent inhabitant.
  • Minari: Monica is horrified when she learns that their new house "has wheels", and it's one of the main things she complains about to Jacob. When her mother comes to stay, she uses the trailer as a primary example of why she's ashamed that her mother can see "how they live now".
  • Nomadland: Inverted in the movie. Aside from some minor issues that obviously come from living in a vehicle, the protagonist and most of the people she encounters find living a nomadic lifestyle in vans, RVs and trailers to be a fulfilling lifestyle (even the one who calls it quits at the end of the film had it clear from early on that he only wanted to live as a nomad temporarily). Averted in the book, which makes it clear that its subjects are not "trash", but is also blunter about the hardships (such as lack of healthcare).
  • Used to contrast life situations in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Famous actor Rick lives in a big Hollywood mansion. His driver Cliff lives in a rusty trailer located behind a Drive-In theater. However, Cliff is a Nice Guy and doesn’t show any of the bad stereotypes associated with living in a trailer except for the part where he may have killed his wifenote .
  • Raising Arizona: Hi, a hard-luck ex-con, lives in a dilapidated trailer in the middle of nowhere (or as he calls it, "a starter home in East Suburban Tempe") that is symbolic of his generally poor lot in life.
  • Rosetta: Rosetta and her mother live in a grim, sad trailer park. They are so poor that, while scrounging for work, Rosetta has to supplement their food supply by poaching fish from a nearby river. Her mom, on the other hand, is The Alcoholic and prostitutes herself to the park manager for alcohol.
  • Mickey and his fellow Irish Travellers from Snatch. live in a trailer park. Plus, it's an illegal trailer park. Turkish mentions in narration that these people have no trouble with murder (accidental or otherwise) because all they need to do is bury the corpses, pull stakes, and they will never be found because they live off the grid. Sure enough, after they kill Brick Top and his men in retaliation for the murder of Mikey's mom, Turkish and Tommy arrive to the campground the morning after to find them all gone. Also, aside from Mikey's mother (who becomes an unfortunate example of Too Good for This Sinful Earth courtesy of Brick Top), all of the people in the campground (even the kids) are showcased as loathsome con artists.
  • In Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Teresa Banks may have disappeared in a dilapidated trailer park that's home to both lowlife criminals as well as terrifying eldritch beings.

  • Dark Places: Subverted. Libby expects to not like her Aunt Diane's trailer because she's used to living in the Day house. However, because Patty was totally broke while Diane, while poor, is not overburdened by debt, she learns that living in the trailer can actually be more pleasant than her farmhouse.
  • Dorothy Must Die: Amy lives in a trailer with her drug addict mother. After coming back from Oz the first time her mother has been moved to a two bedroom apartment due to the tornado that took Amy to Oz wiping the trailer park off the face of the Earth. She also got clean.
  • Ready Player One: In the dystopian future the novel is set, the lack of gasoline has forced the majority of the people to live in huge trailer parks where the trailers are (poorly) stacked onto freestanding girders. Protagonist Wade Watts lives in one of these until he gathers enough money to move to his own apartment.

  • Spoofed by Deana Carter in the clip for "Did I Shave My Legs for This?" The very first frame of the clip shows a dirty trailer parked in the middle of nowhere (with the inside not being that much better).
  • Lana Del Rey is a big fan of this trope:
    • She is shown singing about a sleazy-sounding waitress job in a trailer park in the video for "White Dress".
    • "Yayo" has her begging a possibly abusive partner to "take me right down / From this dark trailer park."
    • In "Salvatore" from Honeymoon, the violent couple live "in a Malibu trailer park for two."
  • In Ashley McBryde's "Brenda Put Your Bra On" the singer urges Brenda to come watch the fight next door between Marvin, his "baby mama" and the woman he's currently fucking.
    Brenda, put your bra on, it's just gettin' good
    Shit's goin' down in the trailerhood
    Pants 'round his ankles, still sportin' wood

    Live-Action TV 
  • Stand By Your Man: The fact that Lorraine lives in a trailer at the start of the series is shown as a symbol of how bad she has it in life, especially in comparison to her sister Rochelle, who lives in a Big Fancy House and is Happily Married.
  • Downplayed in Hemlock Grove. Due to his status as a Working Class Werewolf, Peter lives with his Struggling Single Mother in a dilapidated trailer. This is used to communicate their poverty in comparison to Roman's enormous Godfrey estate.
  • Justified: Naturally, a lot of the poorer or lower-class characters (most of them embroiled in the drug trade) live in trailers. Exaggerated in that trailers are also portrayed as places where people with other homes go to do dirty business; for example, the brothel Audrey's is actually a series of trailers, Quarles stays in a trailer while in Harlan (and likes to torture prostitutes in a separate trailer), and Arlo violates his house arrest by living in a trailer in his garden.
  • My Name Is Earl: Earl's Jerkass ex Joy lives in a trailer park. Earl used to live in the trailer park but moved out after he won the lottery. Joyce sometimes calls Earl selfish for not using his money to support her and her kids even though none of them are Earl's kids.
  • A flashback in The Queen's Gambit shows the estranged father lamenting that Beth should not grow up in a trailer in the middle of nowhere with her troubled mother. Watch the scene here.
  • Roseanne has a field day with this trope when Mark and Becky move into a trailer park. Jokes include a white trash neighbor, Becky having to bring a stick for safety when getting water from a pump (and don't forget the water purification tablets), and Jackie noting that they can't all gather in one room or the trailer will tip over.
  • Sex Education: Maeve is a teenager who lives alone in a caravan park, the UK equivalent, which is indicative of her horrible family life: she has a brother and a mother, but neither are there for her regularly. She's ostracized by much of the school and seen as promiscuous trailer trash.
  • In Twin Peaks, wife-beating criminal and general piece of shit Leo lives in a partially under-construction prefabricated house in the middle of the woods.
  • Yellowjackets: Natalie grew up in a trailer and is a tough, if deeply moral person with a bad reputation. Her parents, however, are both abusive, her father especially.

  • Black Friday: Lex hates her mother for being an Alcoholic Parent and overall negligent, and for being a Lower-Class Lout. When she and her sister plan to run away, she leaves a rather scathing "goodbye" note, ending with, "Get yourself a new trailer, because this one is broke as shit."

    Video Games 

  • Trevor Philips in Grand Theft Auto V lives in a dilapidated trailer that is perpetually untidy and strewn with garbage. After her kidnapping, Patricia Madrazo cleans up the trailer and it is spotless during her stay with Trevor, although it quickly reverts back to its messy state after she leaves him. Pictured above is Stab City, a primary hangout for one of Trevor's rival organizations, the Lost motorcycle club.
  • Stardew Valley: Pam and her daughter Penny share a trailer in Pelican Town, and Pam is an unemployed Alcoholic Parent and Jerk with a Heart of Gold while Penny is a Shrinking Violet with a Disappeared Dad and a strained relationship with her mother. Late in the game, it's possible to buy a town upgrade that gives them an actual house, causing Pam to have a Heel Realisation about her treatment of Penny and promise to try and fix their relationship.

    Western Animation 
  • Doug: Roger Klotz lives with his mother and his Right-Hand Cat in a trailer park. His father lives in the nearby city of Bloatsburg, but doesn't seem to be involved in Roger's life at all.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: While the rest of the cast live in nice suburban homes, the Kanker Sisters live in a trailer park out in the woods. Mostly they serve as Abhorrent Admirers to the Eds, but they rarely have positive interactions with the other kids, acting as uncouth bullies.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • Chester McBadBat and his father Bucky live in a trailer park (which is literally on the wrong side of the tracks) due to their extreme poverty and Bucky's horrible shame from being the worst baseball player ever. Their park often gets hit by tornadoes that avoid the rest of Dimmsdale.
    • "Hassle in the Castle" reveals that a godkid named Sammy hated trailers so much, he wished tornadoes would always hit them.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Luanne used to live in a trailer park with her alcoholic mother, who is serving time in jail, moving in with her uncle Hank and aunt Peggy and becoming a regular member of the Hill family. One episode had Hank try to get Luanne to move back into her old trailer, just as a tornado is approaching.
    • Later on in the series, Peggy warns Luanne that due to her upbringing (in a trailer park), she will always be attracted to trailer trash guys who have no jobs and instead make money off of frivolous lawsuits. Luanne ignores this advice and takes up with Lucky anyways.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): Class bully Mitch Mitchelson lives in a trailer park with his grandmother, in which the latter does nothing all day but sit in front of the (non-functional) TV.
  • Regular Show: Muscle Man's house is a trailer that he won in a hot dog eating contest. In the episode "Trailer Trashed", the trailer failed a health inspection due to it's derelict situation, and despite it being completely cleaned in 24 hours, it gets taken away and Muscle Man has to get it back.
  • Rocko's Modern Life: Filburt lives in a modest trailer in the Patch-O-Heaven Trailer Park, even after he marries Dr. Hutchison. One episode has him competing on a Game Show to win a new house...which would basically be a new version of the house he already has, and he's all excited. Possibly justified in that he is a turtle.
  • Discussed in the South Park episode "Moss Piglets." After becoming as cruel as Cartman, Heidi mocks her friend Theresa for supposedly living in a trailer, even though Theresa insists she lives in a tiny home.
  • The Venture Brothers: As part of their roles as perpetual losers, both Pete White and Billy Quizboy live ratty trailer sitting on a failed housing development, which also serves as the corporate headquarters of their business Conjectural Technologies. Played with after they manage to get some investment money and upgrade the trailer with some super science toys and a basement command center. It's still a rather ratty looking trailer, but now it's sci-fi.


Video Example(s):


Gettin' Twiggy With It

The class bully Mitch lives in a trailer park with his useless grandmother.

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