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"You call it dirt. I call it a healthy coating of earth."

A character whose overwhelming trait is that they are absolutely filthy. Not filthy in morals, behaviors or ethics, but someone whose body is actually covered in filth. The person might have other qualities as well, but their filthiness is bad in relation to the rest of the cast, or at least the setting. There is a good chance that they are not pleasant to look at.

It could be someone who is just not trying hard to stay clean, someone who just seems to attract filth, or someone who actually revels in filth and grime. Could be a Trash of the Titans as well, but remember that this trope is about someone who is filthy on a personal level. This trope could also apply to animals who like to play in garbage and mud. Maybe even a Planet of Hats of people like this.

There is some Truth in Television, as people used to rarely bathe or keep themselves clean. But as inventions such as electricity, indoor heating and indoor plumbing became more commonplace, walking around in a large layer of grime became rarer.

Named after the Peanuts character Pig-Pen, pictured right, who was always surrounded by a cloud of dust and has been seen going from "perfectly clean" to "covered in dust" while walking down the road or --most absurdly -- in a rainstorm. Also see Men Can't Keep House, Dirty Foreigner. A character who offsets bad hygiene with high intelligence is a Genius Slob.

Do not confuse with Dirty Kid.

Examples of The Pig Pen include:


Anime

  • In Moyashimon, when we first see Aoi Mutō she's absolutely filthy and covered in germs, including a number of food poisoning pathogens. However, this is just because she's just gotten back from a long sojourn across Eurasia, and didn't exactly have a lot of opportunities to bathe and change her clothes.
  • Dragon Ball - In the first tournament arc, Krillin faces off against Bacterian, a huge fat guy whose main superpower is the unbearable stench emanating from his person due to the fact that he supposedly has never bathed once in his entire life. Krillin eventually manages to beat him when he's reminded by Goku that he doesn't have a nose, and thus can't smell him.

    Krillin also had to fart in Bacterian's face, meaning that Bacterian could handle only his own stench. But the other ways Bacterian fought...poor, poor Krillin...
  • In the Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei OVA we're introduced to Kitsu Chiri's older sister, Kitsu Tane, who became The Pig Pen and godess over the Trash of the Titans trope by choice in order to save the life of their gold fish, which Chiri had decided to clean (using shampoo). Unfortunately for Tane, she had to maintain this behavior for so many years, it eventually got stuck (literary, trash seems to follow her around) and now she can't even take proper care of herself... She once appeared on TV in a How Clean Is Your House like show.

 Show host: Wow, the beams are bending!

Tane: What? I tidied up before you came.

  • GeGeGe no Kitaro - Nezumi Otoko is stated to have never taken a bath in three hundred years, and the older Manga specifically states that he has hookworms and other lovely diseases from this filth. His stench has been known to make humans pass out, and once an entire TV News Studio had to wear gas masks in order to interview him. it's not his only character trait, but one of his most noticeable.


Comic Books

  • The Mess was a joke character who tried to join The Legion of Super Heroes. His power was the ability to attract dirt.
  • Smudge (Cascão) from the Brazilian comic Monica's Gang (Turma da Mônica) had as his personal gimmick the fact he never took a shower. Ever, since he was born. An early comic strip implies Smudge took a bath as a Mother's Day gift, a cover of his comic book once shown him washing his hands... and in the spinoff teenagers series, he bathes once in a while. Though he's still not quite into it, as he himself once said:

  Just 'cause I do it doesn't mean I like it.

From the same series, villain Captain Fray (Capitão Feio) (who has a barely remembered origin as Smudge's uncle).
  • Pongalongapongo / Krazy Gang - Pongo Snodgrass, a 70's-80's British comics character who loved filth and all things putrid, and was also something of a schemer.
  • Watchmen - Rorschach. Other characters frequently complain about it, but his only concession is to pour cologne over the grime.
  • The Spanish [1] comic Blacksad features a rather whiffy weasel journalist named Weekly. His nickname derives from a joke circulating the office, that this is how often he bathes.
  • Smudge, in The Beano.
  • The Sergeant from Sturmtruppen. To give an example, he doesn't know why the bath tub is full of water or what's soap, and after being washed is revealed that he lost roughly 7 pounds of filth.


Film


Literature

  • The Belgariad
    • Beldin, although that was a side effect of his main trait (ugliness), rather than his main trait itself: He just didn't care about his appearance, and he rejected civilized behavior to the extent that he'd pour food out of a bowl onto the ground to eat it.
    • Polgara was well on her way to this as a child/adolescent. The only woman physically present in her life was her sister Beldaran, who was beautiful. Polgara didn't look like Beldaran, therefore she must be ugly. She figured out the fallacy later.
  • Burris Ewell from To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • The Dark Light Years - The Utods in Brian Aldiss's satirical science fiction novel are a highly intelligent race whose biology requires that they spend most of the time wallowing in their own excrement. This makes their first encounter with humans... interesting.
  • Shel Silverstein's poem "The Dirtiest Man in the World."
  • Brian in Good Omens. His parents do make him wash, but it doesn't really do any good; "there was something basically ground in about Brian".
  • Discworld series
    • Harry King. Said to need three baths just to get to dirty. It's what happens when you made your fortune in garbage. He dotes on his daughters, which is usually considered to be his way of apologizing for being their father.
    • And Nobby Nobbs, of the Watch. Every Hogswatch the other Night Watch coppers give him bath soap, bath salts, bath powder... As he points out to Constable Visit in Hogfather, it isn't as if he's ever bathed, so he doesn't understand why they keep giving the stuff to him.
    • Most of the Canting Crew probably qualify, although Foul Ole Ron is the only one named for this trope.
  • This is the natural state of even the good members of vermin species in Redwall. They actually have a comic song in Loamhedge about how bathing too much means one risks washing oneself entirely out of existence.

 "I tell yer, that's the first bath I've took in me life, and the last one too, thank yer kindly!"

    • Most of the Dibbuns (babies) would also be this way if their caretakers let them, going to impressive lengths to avoid bathing.
  • Gunner Jurgen from the Ciaphas Cain novels fits this to a tee. He is exempt from normal Imperial Guard peacetime cleanliness regulations due to a variety of skin conditions. Other than Cain himself, nobody wants to be around him. Of course that has more to do with Jurgen being a soulless Anti-Magic pariah, but his filthiness tends to be what people fixate on when they feel repelled by him.
  • Kheperu from Iron Dawn is grimy, greasy, and reeks so much he can disperse crowds just by taking a stroll in the marketplace. Sort of justified, as some of the stench comes from the alchemical mixtures he carries, and the rest from his being the sort of dickhead who enjoys being as appalling as possible.
  • Dead Souls: One of Chichikov's servants who never washes himself.
  • Sachar always has dirty hands in Oblomov. And claims they were clean.
  • The Twits


Live Action TV

  • Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street lives in a garbage can.
  • Callan had Lonely, so called because he never took a bath. As well as being the best informer in London, he made great coffee.
  • Baldrick, the increasingly Bumbling Sidekick from Blackadder, who got progressively filthier as each season went by -- to the point where you can barely find a clean patch of skin on his face in the fourth season.
    • His Georgian ancestor is so disgusting that the ancient Greeks simply mistook Pandora's Box for his trousers, which he has never changed. He admits that, "They can get a bit whiffy!" In Blackadder Back and Forth his underwear is responible for wiping out the dinosaurs.
    • One episode of Blackadder II features an especially unclean named Mr. Ploppy, leading to this exchange:

 Ploppy: My father, Daddy Ploppy, was known as Ploppy the Slopper. It was from him I inherited my many fascinating skin diseases.

Blackadder: I think congratulations are in order. We live in an age where disease and deformity are common, but you, Ploppy, are the most disgusting individual I have ever met. I would shake your hand, but I fear it would come off.

  • Danny Tamboreli made his mark on Nickelodeon by being the one actor who genuinely enjoyed being slimed.
  • Glee: Apparently the guy who sits next to Kurt in English, although he doesn't look that filthy.

 Kurt: You smell homeless, Brett. Homeless.

  • The Red Green Show: Winston Rothschild, III, owns and operates a very successful sewage and septic sucking service.
  • In an episode of Law and Order SVU, a gamer couple are facing charges of abusing their daughter. Benson notes that they haven't showered in awhile.


Music

  • Kesha's stage persona involves wearing makeup and glitter in such a way they resemble filth, and having unkempt, unwashed-looking hair. She also has a Tumblr dedicated to pictures of men putting their beards in her mouth.
  • In "Another One Rides the Bus," Weird Al Yankovic briefly mentions a passenger who "hasn't showered in a year."


Newspaper Comics

  • Obviously, Pig-Pen from Peanuts. Charles Schulz disliked the character, because he was basically just one joke, but character popularity forced him to include Pig-Pen occasionally. One strip from the 1950s features a clean Pig-Pen. He looks weird.
  • British newspaper strip The Perishers had Dirty McSquirty, sometimes called Saint Flies because flies kept circling his head like a halo. Pretty much a one-joke character. (His Cousin Worsoff was the proverbial person who's worse off than everyone else. Worsoff lived in the sewers and was only heard, not seen.)
  • Al Capp's Lil Abner had Moonbeam McSwine.
  • In Dick Tracy, B. O. Plenty was a recurring character who wore hideously shabby clothes and had a noticeable stench about him. Must not have been so bad, though, since he married Gravel Gertie and had a daughter, Sparkle Plenty, by her.
    • However, there was also the Flyface family, who are always surrounded by flies. When Chester Gould created these characters in the late 1950s, he didn't anticipate his readers' tastes had changed and he started losing newspapers due to reader complaints.
  • Hagar the Horrible has multiple examples: Hagar himself, of course, and also a character based on this trope called Dirty Dirk who is even dirtier. Of course, the strip is set in The Dung Ages, so this kind of bad hygiene is justified on anyone's part.
  • James in One Big Happy invariably looks this way.


Tabletop Games

  • Followers of Nurgle in Warhammer and Warhammer 40000 take pride in being physically filthy and disease-ridden (morally filthy to boot).
    • Not really. Good and evil are very relative things in Warhammer. They're actually the nicest people in the setting, it's just that their way of showing it involves turning other people into this, and often with fatal results.


Video Games


Webcomics

  Katie: Yeah, Sylvester's always had rather... unique ideas about personal hygene.


Web Original

  • The Poopsmith from Homestar Runner, due to his job.
    • Coach Z's hygiene seems to be rather suspect as well.
    • Also The Ugly One, who specifically rejoices in that she can stop showering when Cheerleader dies.
  • Phlegm of the Whateley Universe, whose main characteristic seems to be that he's always covered in a couple inches of, well, mucus. And it oozes out of his clothing.


Western Animation

  • Phil and Lil from Rugrats loved to play in mud and garbage, and ate worms. They ate anything they could get their hands on. Lil eventually grew out of her habits but as of All Grown Up Phil is the same.
  • While it was not her most notable characteristic, Toph from Avatar: The Last Airbender liked to walk around in "a healthy coating of earth," partly because she was an Earthbender, partly to rebel against her posh parents.
  • Captain Caveman is a big hairy ball of filth.
  • South Park had Dogpoo, an obvious Shout-Out to Pig-Pen.
  • Beetlejuice in his cartoon was especially filthy.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star picked up the Conflict Ball when he gained the status of Pig-Pen as a Compressed Vice. He turned against suddenly scrupulous neat freak Spongebob and they waged a war of cleanliness vs. filth for 11 minutes.
    • They do a good job of implying that this isn't new, though; in one scene Spongebob removes Patrick's "jacket" only to discover that what has appeared to be his skin ever since the show started is actually a uniform layer of caked-on filth half an inch thick. For Spongebob's part, well, he's an ambulatory kitchen sponge, what did you expect?
  • One episode of The Powerpuff Girls had Buttercup refusing to take a bath. She got so filthy that the townsfolk chased her with Torches and Pitchforks. Even the Monster of the Week refused to fight her. That's what forced her to clean up.
  • Mucha Lucha had The Flea, whose special wrestling move was really bad odor. His outfit is actually white, but his lifestyle is so dirty it's become consistently brown all over.
  • Russel from Stickin' Around, who emitted a "funky smell" at all times.
  • Ed from Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy.
  • Jason was this in the first season of Home Movies when the show felt like indulging itself in gross-out humor. To wit...
  • One-shot villain Ample Grime from Darkwing Duck.
  • Sloppy Joe from Grossology.
  • Ian "Eww-an" Wazselewski from Teachers Pet.
  • Murdoc of Gorillaz is notoriously unhygienic.
  • One of the episodes of Fanboy and Chum Chum deals with Fanboy trying to beat a record on going for the longest time without a bath. The trope was brought Up to Eleven in this case - his costume got so incredibly dirty, it came to life and gained the personality of a mobster called Stinks.
  • One episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy featured Billy's Mom going progressively insane as she repeatedly bathes Billy and dresses him in a clean tuxedo, only to have him get filthy within seconds by careening around the yard and playing with mud.
  • It is implied several times that Bill from King of the Hill has very poor hygiene and lives in very filthy conditions almost never cleaning up after himself, this us mainly due to being depressed after his divorce from Lenore.
  • Giant Mook Greasepit from Biker Mice From Mars has some kind of mutation where he literally sweats motor oil & grease from his pores constantly. He makes a major mess wherever he goes, and often ends up tripping or causing others to trip because of the slime he drips all over the place.
  • Edgar and Ellen. One time in the animated series, Ellen got sprayed with an anti-bug formula, which made a bunch of bugs come jumping out of her hair.
  • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic" episode "Hearts and Hooves Day", the song "The Perfect Stallion" briefly featured a filthy, smelly, fly-drawing stallion, whose cutie mark was a TRASH CAN.


Real Life

  • In early Middle Ages, the people surprisingly weren't this at least to the extent seen today, as public baths were an important social function to all classes of the society. After a while the church found out that prostitution was practiced in them, and some doctors connected (partially correctly) some of the epidemics to communal bathing. As result, washing yourself came considered to be both immoral and unhealthy well into the 18th, or even 19th century.
    • Regular bathing was also seen as the preserve of Moors, Turks and Jews and not something a proper Christian should really be doing, especially in those areas of Europe which had direct contact with Islam. In Aragon and Castile, bathing was one of the excuses by which a person in high society could be brought before the Inquisition... and likely be forced into re-education. So if you were on the wrong side of the Monarchy, you might well find yourself choosing between cleanliness and public humiliation as a heretic.
  • Fun fact: Louis XIV only bathed twice in his entire life. Twice. And he hated both of them. The story goes that he once had his socks removed and he was so moldy that one of his toes dropped off.
  • Crust punks. They justify their refusal to bathe for a number of reasons, the government controls the water supply, hair products tested on animals, being downright broke.
  • Kesha's public image. She Cleans Up Nicely, though.

Notes

  1. French? It's made by Spaniards for a French market.
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