Basement Dweller

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"...And then you've got those guys who are just waiting for their parents to die. My one friend is like, 'This'll all be mine one day,' and I'm like, 'What are you talking about? Your mother is only 54. What are you gonna do, poison her?'"

A stereotypical Hollywood Nerd who, despite being a grown adult is still an adolescent right down to living with his parents. While the decor of their Poster Gallery Bedroom is subject to the tastes of the character, be sure there will be a computer to communicate with the outside world. It's always Played for Laughs as an acceptable lifestyle target. More importantly, the subject is Always Male. There is little stigma to a female character living at home, and in some cultures it might even be expected. This makes the trope a huge Double Standard against men as well (but see below).

The guys who are depicted in this condition usually fit into one of the following:

Thank goodness those don't sound like nerd stereotypes, or we could be in real trouble. This trope has become much, MUCH less stigmatizing in Real Life, however, where the economy has been sending more and more adults back to their parents' homes. And if this article is any indication, this trope could even become discredited at some point in the future.

Note that living with one's parents is a stigma mainly in the USA and other Anglosphere countries, where working-age adults are expected to live on their own, so this trope shouldn't be applied to characters from cultures where this is the norm. In countries where adult children still living with their parents is more acceptable, a variant of the trope still applies: what's frowned is not that the child lives with their parents in adulthood, but that they don't contribute (financially or otherwise) to the household.

For a more serious treatment of this as a social problem, see Hikikomori. Not to be confused with Madwoman in the Attic. Compare The Hermit.

Examples of Basement Dweller include:

Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • A Burger King commercial features a winged pig who used to be this, but is now finally moving out.
  • This British Dulux paint advert wherein a couple get their thirty-something rocker son to move out by... painting his room yellow?

Anime & Manga[edit | hide]

  • According to the author's note from the third Axis Powers Hetalia manga volume, Prussia ended up like this.

Himaruya: "Now he lives as a good-for-nothing at Germany's house and as an exclave in Russia!"

Comic Books[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • In Mallrats, comic loving slacker Brodie lives in his mothers basement. His girlfriend dumps him for this reason
  • In Men in Black 2, Agents J and K get intel from a conspiracy theorist guy who lives in his mom's attic. They claim to be from his therapy group.
  • Live Free or Die Hard: "Warlock's" "Command Center".
  • In The Pallbearer, David Schwimmer still lives in his childhood bedroom.
  • Wayne of Wayne's World. In the second movie when he and Garth move into their own place.
  • The movie Failure To Launch deals with a group of grown men living with their parents who exhibit stereotypical nerd behavior.
    • Subverted though, in that the 'nerdiest' of the group actually owns the home he lives in, and took in his mother because that's what you do when your mother has nowhere else to go. In fact everyone in the group but the main character has some sort of technicality which makes them not really live with their parents, which is used to explain why only said main character is attacked by chipmunks and dolphins.
  • Subverted in Galaxy Quest when Jason Nesmith is contacted by the Thermians. He thinks that they're particularly rabid fanboys who have built an exact replica of the the Protector in their parents' basement. He's only two-thirds right.
    • Guy Fleegman, whose character played a Red Shirt in the in-movie TV-show, can be spotted in one scene hitting on a young woman who responds with "but you live with your mom!"
  • Speaking of Tim Allen, his role as Zoom in Zoom Academy For Superheroes has him meeting his fans and asking how many of them still live in their Mom's basement. All but Chevy Chase raise their hands. This is followed by what the movie's Agony Booth Review refers to as "Awkward Silence Which Is Supposed To Be Funny?."
    • A wonderful line granted, but the idea was best expressed in a SNL sketch with Shatner delivering that as well as the inquiry of how many attendees at the convention have even kissed a girl. Priceless.
  • In 8mm the killer lives with his mom, who is completely oblivious to his problems.
  • The whole plot of Tanguy involves exasperated parents who try to get their grown son to move the hell out so they can have their own lives back. In the end, they got so when the son marries a Chinese girl and moves with her family, as Chinese are fond of having a whole clan in the same household.
  • Dave's cousin Toby from Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Squeakel who lives in his grandmother's basement and plays video games all day.
  • Subverted in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen by Agent Simmons. When questioned about living with his mother, he states "She lives with me. There's a big difference."
  • In Badly Drawn Roy, Roy continues to live at home because he can't hold down a job despite being in his thirties, which causes friction and arguments between him and his parents as well as running away from the camera. He eventually checks himself into a rehabilitation center because of his depression.
  • In Baby Boy, Jody's mom calls him out for being a grown man living at home, until he points out that she never moved out and simply inherited her house from her own mother.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Subverted in The Help. The big publishing hotshot is disgusted to learn that our heroine lives with her mother. The heroine is actually taking care of her mother as she dies of cancer. Oops.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, Fitz's initial circumstances may count as a subversion: he's a single, 27-year-old, immature geek with a lousy job whose 65-year-old widowed mum lived with him before she moved into a sort of insane asylum shortly before he's introduced. She's generally mentally unwell and prone to delusions of being the devil and so on, in addition to being rather sickly and apparently prone to "taking the back off one-armed bandits", and therefore needs him to look after her.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

Chris Elliot plays Chris Peterson, a carefree, childlike bachelor who refuses to live the life of an adult. At the age of 30, Chris still lives with his parents and maintains a career delivering newspapers (the St. Paul Pioneer Press), a job that he has held since his youth. He has no driver's license (instead, riding his bicycle wherever he goes). He is depicted as being childish, naïve, gullible, foolish, occasionally irresponsible, and extremely dimwitted. Chris is often the subject of abuse from his friends and family. He is often seen dancing (involving a silly back-and-forth step while swinging his arms) to the piano tune "Alley Cat" by Bent Fabric. His lack of intelligence is exaggerated to absurd levels: at one point, he tries to leave his parents' house but is unable to operate the front door. He also fell out of an airplane after opening the plane's exterior door, believing that it led to the restroom.

  • The Big Bang Theorys Howard Wolowitz, big time. Especially prevalent when he finally gets a girlfriend, Bernadette, and expects her to move in with him and his mother.

Bernadette: Does your mother always cut your steak?
Howard: Don't be jealous, honey, one day you'll get to cut my steak.

  • Subverted in Numb3rs. Charlie Eppes is one of the greatest mathematicians in the world and still lives with his Dad. Given that Charlie has the signals of Ambiguous Disorder, this is understandable.
  • CSI episode "A Space Oddity" plays the Hollywood Nerd image ludicrously straight by showing two guy living in a reconstruction of the ship from "Astro Quest" in their mother's attic.
  • Ghostwriter episode "Into The Comics": Manny Gite runs his evil operation from his mother's attic, where he resides.
  • Played with in Deep Space Nine. When what's left of the Cardassian resistance movement are on the run on Cardassia, they end up hiding in the basement of the house Garak grew up in; complete with an overbearing mother-figure who feeds them and makes them do chores. Garak shelters there, and if it never definitely says she is his mother, she acts damn close. Still, he certainly is not a shiftless loser.
  • Xander Harris in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who does not enroll in college during the fourth season and lives in his parents' basement, where he pays rent. He gets his own place in season five. By season seven, everyone seems to be living in the Summers household.
    • Also the nerd troika of season six, whose evil headquarters are Warren's parents' basement.
  • The Drew Carey Show: Drew had long been living in his parents' house, which he bought from them. When they have to move back in, he's forced to live in the basement. Naturally, he comments on being a 40-year-old man who lives in his parents' basement.
  • Howard from The Big Bang Theory lives in his old bedroom instead of the basement, but otherwise fits this trope to a T. However, he and his family are Jewish, which is one of the cultures where adults living with their parents before they get married is considered normal.
  • Frank on 30 Rock lives with his mother and pays her rent. It hasn't been mentioned if he actually lives in her basement. Subverted when he almost moved out to become a lawyer. (Jack put a stop to this after learning that all of Frank's male relatives were lawyers for The Mafia and consequently met bad ends.)
  • In one episode of NCIS, Tony and Ziva interviewed the web master of a porn site who lived in his mother's basement. He also collected Star Wars toys as "investments" and met the site's owner on his paper route. If memory serves, his mother wanted to bring them snacks.
  • Similar to this, people routinely make fun of the title character of Frasier for living with his father, causing him to make the same reply of "He lives with me!" Except that this is actually the case... Frasier's father moved into Frasier's apartment to be taken care of, not the other way around. Oddly enough, the writers of the show seem to occasionally forget this.
  • The most extreme example of this is Ted from Scrubs, the pathetically inept sad-sack attorney who not only lives with his mother, but shares a bed with her.
  • In Seinfeld, George lives with his parents during most of season 5 because he can't find a job.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond: Robert Barone is forced to move in with his parents—even though he bought their house from them, and ends up having to give it back to them after he loses his apartment. He's cast as the "loser" because he's a man in his mid-40's living with his parents.
    • The first time he moved out, he ended up in an apartment above the garage of the Jewish versions of Frank and Marie. They even cooked his dinner, bossed him, and ignored him in order to pay attention to Ray.
  • The accomplice of the killer from the very first episode of Criminal Minds had shades of this, since he lived with his grandmother and spent almost all his time in the attic; Morgan, after finding his bedroom, even says "This is a boy's room, not a man's".
  • On Sci-Fi's Flash Gordon the title character lives with his mother and sometimes worries that he's falling into this trope. Everyone assures him that he's actually rather admirable because he moved back home to help take care of his mother when she was diagnosed with cancer.
  • On My Name Is Earl, Earl tries to make up for poking a hole in his crush/babysitter's condom. He finds the girl, who has married the guy who got her pregnant, and they have an unemployed adult son who dropped out of high school and leeches off his parents. Earl decides to help him truly become an adult. Hilarity ensues.
  • Bud Bundy in the later seasons of Married... with Children.
  • Buster Bluth in Arrested Development is a grown man still living with his mother. He is more or less incapable of functioning in the outside world.

Music[edit | hide]

  • The main character of Brad Paisley's "Online" lives in such a situation.

When I get home, I kiss my Mom and she fixes me a snack
Then I head down to my basement bedroom and fire up my Mac"

Hey fella, I bet you're still livin' in your parents' cellar
Downloadin' pictures of Sarah Michelle Gellar
And postin' "Me too!" like some brain-dead AOL-er
I should do the world a favor and cap you like Old Yeller
You're just about as useless as jpegs to Helen Keller

    • "You're Pitiful" (James Blunt parody):

You still live with your mom and you're 42!

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Toni Cipriani in Grand Theft Auto III is a Mafia boss who still lives with his mom and frequently gets yelled at by her. Not that he's always lived with her; three years before the game he'd been living alone (and far away from Mama) for a while. He just had to move back in at her insistence - she can be very... persuasive.
    • This is also part of the Italian stereotype of men, no matter how independent, tough or respected outside of the home, still are dominated by their mothers.
    • The entire McReary family from GTAIV, all grown, live with their Ma with a single exception. Derek is a fugitive recently returned from Northern Ireland, Gerald is in and out of prison, Packie is a small-time thug, and Kate, wholesome and innocent, keeps their Ma safe. The odd man out, Francis, is deputy police commissioner.
  • Rowland in The Orion Conspiracy reveals himself as this. He says that he lived with his mother before coming to work at the space station. He is rather childish, immature, lazy, fat, has a chocolate addiction, and is a hypochondriac.
  • Larry Laffer in Leisure Suit Larry lived with his mother until he one day came home and discovered that she had gone traveling and sold the house. Larry was 38 when this happened.
  • Evil Dave in RuneScape has constructed his lair in his mother's basement.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Bartholomew "Fart-Foot-Mcpoot" Macforte: I'll have you know we haven't used my mother's basement since - be silent!

  • In Narbonic, Dr. Madblood's "Elaborate Underground Base". He later switches to a moonbase, but still does his mom's laundry. After the moonbase was destroyed, he had to move back in.
  • According to Nelson, Frank and Lewis in Full Frontal Nerdity.
  • In Real Life Comics, while camping out in front of a store for a game, a guy, Greg's age, came by to sit in line. He didn't have anything else to do since his Mom's basement was being bug bombed and then he offered to play Yu-Gi-Oh! cards with him.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Strong Bad's "Road Trip" mocks an e-mailer, calling him "Pete From Pete's Parents' Basement".
  • Linkara hasn't moved out of his parent's house in 30 years, as his review of Superman v. Terminator reveals.
  • Maddison Atkins refers to the people commenting on her videos as basement dwellers.
  • The roles are reversed in Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series were Grandpa shamefully lives in the basement.
  • Until fairly recently, Spoony lived in his parents's basement. He ended one review on an explosive cliffhanger in case the circumstances of his move out rendered him unable to continue filming.
  • In an episode of the Vacuum Consortium, Agamemnon Tiberius Vacuum is seen yelling to his parents upstairs after the credit roll.
  • Douchey McNitpick is revealed to live in his mother's basement in "The Next Top 11 Nostalgia Critic Fuck-Ups".
    • Doug and Rob moved out of their parents's house around the time of The Room review. Their new house is just as big and gorgeous.
    • The Nostalgia Critic himself still lives with his mom. Treated with a bit more sympathy however, as it's been established she's abusive.
  • Similarly, Uncyclopedia articles assume that all the editors and readers must be basement dwellers.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Frugal Lucre of Kim Possible operates his schemes of world conquest from his mother's basement where he lives.
    • Taken two steps further, when the heroes gain access to his 'lair' not through their usual MO of breaking in through the roof or ventilation shafts, but by knocking on the front door and asking his mother if he was home, and then when Lucre and the heroes are gearing up to fight in the basement a few moments later, they're interrupted by his mother bringing a tray full of snacks and juice for her son and his 'friends'.
  • Fairly Oddparents episode "Big Superhero Wish": The middle-aged writer of the Crimson Chin lives his with his mother and receives a magazine called "Geeks Who Live With Their Mothers Monthly".
  • Batman the Brave And The Bold episode "Night Of The Huntress": The middle-aged "The Calculator" operates his evil ventures from his mother's basement. When Huntress comes to bust him, his mother is all too pleased that there is a girl here to see him.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: "Operation M.I.N.I.G.O.L.F." Involved The Great Puttinski shrinking down Numbuh 2 and challengeing him in a mini-golf course complete with models of the world's monuments. The whole course is in his mother's basement. Numbuh 2 still wins.
  • Coop from Megas XLR makes for a strange non-nerd (albeit very slacker) example. Upon learning that the Monster of the Week intends to destroy his house, he exclaims "My Mom's home! She'll kill me!"
  • The Batman: Cluemaster even built his evil lair in his mom's basement.
  • The Simpsons: Comic Book Guy is subject to Geographic Flexibility. Apparently someone thought this would make a worthy gag to have him living in his parent's basement after they'd already established that he lives above his shop.
    • Most of the jokes about Seymour Skinner revolve around how he still lives with his beloved smother mother in middle age (although as with Frasier, he insists "she lives with me!").
    • Unlike in Frasier's case, he is not especially successful, she appears perfectly capable of taking care of herself, and she was living in said house before he came home from the war. So it's pretty clear his protestations are wrong.
  • Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before": Melllvar hits this trope dead center.

Melllvar's Mother: Melllvar! Dinner time!
Melllvar: Aw, but Mom, I'm playing with my collectibles!
Melllvar's Mother: Now!
(Melllvar groans and disappears)
Fry: All this time we thought he was a powerful super-being, yet he was just a child.
Melllvar's Mother: He's not a child, he's 34!

  • A villain in Word Girl, Chuck the Evil Sandwich-Making Guy, lives in his mother's basement. (He tried to move into his own lair once, but got too homesick and moved back.)
  • The Venture Brothers: Henchmen #21 briefly lives and operates his own comics supply business out of his mother's house, before being called back by The Monarch.
  • Oz from Fanboy and Chum Chum fits this trope to a T. He's an adult, action figure-collecting, obese comic book nerd who lives with his mother. They technically run a comic book shop together, although in "The Hard Sell" it's revealed they're unable to sell anything due to Oz's infatuation towards the items.
  • In King of the Hill "The Witches of East Arlen", Bobby joins a group of "wizards" who appear to be basement dwellers as the leader Ward who looks middle aged lives in his mother's house.
  • Wade from Kick Buttowski, while not a nerd but a severe slacker, told Kick and Gunther that he lived in his step-mom's basement but she kicked him out...
    • Turns out she lived in a trailer and the basement was just a hole in the ground underneath it.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski lived with his mother throughout his term of office. He isn't married, has a law degree, so apparently the Polish electorate didn't hold it against him. The stigma is generally less in Europe, whether because of a strong emphasis on family life (as in Italy), prohibitive property prices (as in the UK) or both (as in Poland).
  • In the Netherlands however, it's generally seen as uncommon and somewhat overly dependent to still live with one's parents if one is comfortably in one's 20s and has some way of supporting oneself. Though some students living close enough to their educational facility continue to live with their parents, a decision often related to difficulties finding a place or Hotel Mama being more convenient and less costly, most students look down on this, especially if still done beyond the first or second year of one's studies, and prefer the freedom and independence of a grotty student room. Adults moving in with their ailing parents seems to be fairly unusual as well. There may be in-country cultural differences in this, though.
    • The rising prices of student housing might be making an end to this, with students paying up to 600€ for a grotty room.
    • This being the Be Ne Lux equivalent of the US- dormroom or house-sharing trope, which is quite rare there.
  • Because of the current recession it can get rather difficult to avoid this if you're a college student.
  • The "move out when you are an adult" is a (relatively) recent phenomenon of post WWII America where everyone had four complete years of constant work, savings i.e. rationing, and GI Bill bonuses to boot. Prior to that most people lived in family units and only moved away when there wasn't enough room in the current dwelling.
  • Japan has some serious social problems with this issue. Though shows like Welcome to The NHK sort of address the issue, the usual statement made is that Otaku culture is a product of these behaviours, and not a cause.
    • It doesn't help that only about 12% or so of Japan is actually inhabitable, which leads to crowding and insane prices. Well, let's see, I could either bankrupt myself trying to live in my own apartment, or stay with my parents and not spend almost all of my income on rent and mortgages. Decisions, decisions...
  • Some people also move home after leaving and failing hard. This happens to many people. Reality show phenom Simon Cowell had to move home after the FIRST time he hit it big and lost everything, according to at least one official biography.
  • Living with their parents is a common practice in Latin America, since social, political and economic instability is the rule in most of the countries of the region, up to the point you have 3 or more generations living in the same house, not that this is so bad, in nations where social care for old people is at best negligible sons end taking the responsability to keep the house running along with their aging parents and relatives, also, living in community makes things a lot easier in terms of paying the bills since you can buy wholesale merchandise.
    • Interestingly the practice of having the family living close to someones has allowed some people to start familiar busines which in turn have improved the economy of their countries. Also, Latin American people will always have a safe haven in case of social or economic failure, which may or may not be related to why instead of commiting suicide or ending sleeping in a park Latin Americans simply pull back to their parent's homes to heal their wounds and get ready for another one!
    • In Middle Eastern nations, it is generally expected that children live with their parents until they get married.
    • Same thing in the Mediterranean countries, Eastern Europe (see Poland above) and SE Asia.
    • Note than in these countries and situations, a variant of this trope does applies. Living with your parents despite being an adult of working age isn't frowned upon; living off them, mooching your progenitors, not helping with the household, and actively refusing to get a job or even do any attempt of bettering yourself, that's what the society despises.
  • The extended family is the norm through almost all of human history. It's only very recently that the nuclear family - and the whole idea that a person moves out and starts their own family - became popular.
    • This was more a result of the relative perception of prosperity of the Post-WWII years in the West. The nuclear family migrated slowly to the Far East from Western influences.
  • While neither of them actually live like this, it should be noted that several examples on this page are characters portrayed by David Cross or Patton Oswalt.
  • Dr. Phil refers to these people as Moochers, and has done four specials on them.