Bindle Stick

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Essential Hobo Accessories, Item "G": Bindle (with Item "D": Bindle Stick)

The stereotypical way for runaways and hobos alike to carry their belongings: wrap a bunch of objects in a bedsheet or large kerchief, and tie it to a stick.

Examples of Bindle Stick include:

Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The mascot for the Traveler's Tales game developing company is some sort of bat/elf crossbreed with a bindle stick.

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • In Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, Kirby uses one when he runs away.
    • At least one of the game manuals has an illustration of Kirby carrying one as he sets off on his current quest.
  • Hare of Monster Rancher carries one around.

Card Games[edit | hide]

  • In the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, the Fool (Card 0 of the Major Arcana) carries a bindle stick.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In The Sandman, when Destruction is leaving again, after being found the first time, he asks to borrow Morpheus' handkerchief expressly for the purpose of changing it to a polka dotted design and carrying his belongings on a stick.
Douwe Dabbert has a magical one, which provides him with everything he needs in case of emergency.
  • A comic by Michael Kupperman shows a woman who has a tendency to date hobos getting romantic help from a small robot. In one panel, the robot advises her, "Ask him, if he is not a hobo, why does he have a bindle?"

Film[edit | hide]

  • In Pee Wees Big Adventure, when Pee-wee starts hitchhiking to Texas he is carrying one.
  • Parodied in the film Mystery Team. Jason, the "Master of Disguise", dresses up as an old-fashioned hobo in order to talk to a REAL homeless person. The bindle stick is part of the outfit.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Standard traveler equipment in A Canticle for Leibowitz, at least in the first era shown. A monk leaving the monastery always carries a book in it.
  • Blinky Bill is depicted carrying one on the cover of The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall. He also carries one in the ABC animated adaptation.
  • Almost any illustrated version of "Dick Whittington".
  • There was a literary character called Bindle, however he doesn't carry one. He's a cockney Lovable Rogue with a wife and home, but he still subsists on odd jobs and tweaking the nose of authority like any self-respecting hobo would.
  • Lazarus Long has one packed for him in the 1910s by a kindly doctor's wife in Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love, though he re-packs it soon afterward, as it's actually a liability on the road to look like a "bindle stiff".
    • Similarly, a character in Heinlein's Sixth Column, an academic who's both studied hobos and is a hobo, laid out for other characters a taxonomy of hobos, with bindle stiffs at the very bottom, as a reason for refusing to carry a Bindle Stick when sent out on an intelligence-gathering mission.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • When Vince Noir tried to run away from home as a child, he didn't get very far, as he was using a bindle stick to carry stuff several times his own body weight.
  • When Charlie and Mac decide to fake their own deaths and wander the streets, one of the first things we see Charlie do is attempt to assemble a bindle stick and lament it's limited carrying capacity.
  • El Chavo del Ocho uses one, which is weird because he has no known possessions and is always wearing the same clothes.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Peanuts
    • lampshaded it—Linus was going to pack a suitcase before Lucy corrects him and points out that every little boy running away from home always carries his things wrapped up on the end of a stick. He then walks away holding the stick in front of him and feeling "somewhat akin to a fool."
    • In the next strip, Charlie Brown sees Linus and asks "Carrying everything on your back?" Linus responds with "Just my bowling ball."
    • In another Peanuts strip, Snoopy carried a bindle stick after he yawned and lost Lucy's balloon: "Make one mistake, and you pay for it the rest of your life."
    • In yet another strip, Charlie Brown himself puts one of these together in order to run away from home. He gets halfway down the sidewalk before the knot fails, sending all his belongings flying.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • This has become something of a Dead Horse Trope in Real Life, as most hobos[1] use backpacks and other camping bags these days. Actual poor people are more likely to use discarded plastic shopping bags. Or entire shopping carts if they can get one.
  • In Germany there is a tradition still practiced today called "auf die Walz gehen" originating to medieval times. After completing apprenticeship as a craftsman people wander the country for a certain time in a special outfit, carrying all their possessions in a kerchief called "Charlottenburger" attached to a walking stick.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • Any pantomime or stage play featuring characters Setting Out Into The World To Seek His/Her Fortune. Especially Dick Whittington. The hankies used as bindles are almost always red-and-white polka dots, for some reason.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Sims in the original game, if they lost a fight, would occasionally leave the lot permanently carrying a runaway stick.
  • There's a mode in both Sonic Adventure games (and their remakes) to raise small cute creatures called Chao. You can, however, "Say Goodbye" to a Chao, whereupon it leaves with a bindle stick to a faraway forest where it will never see you again.
  • In Anachronox, the logo for the Democratan "Planet Abroad" project (that is, shrinking it down to fun-size and have it follow the main character around) is the planet, with a bindle stick and a beaten hat.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, most of the hobo enemies in the Hobopolis zone will drop bindle sticks, which can be used as weapons. You can also get a miniature bindle stick for the hobo monkey familiar you can get in the zone.
  • The Nano Kitty and Nano Puppy virtual pets would walk offscreen carrying one of these with a "Bye Bye" text if you neglected to take care of them for a long time (or if you used the "Discipline" option excessively.)
  • In Psychonauts, Razputin carries one of these when he leaves home, despite wearing a backpack. How else would we know he's a gypsy?
  • Portal 2 makes a brief reference to this in the 70's era test chambers, when Aperture Laboratories was reduced to hiring Hobos due to impending bankruptcy.

Cave Johnson: You could leave here with a hundred and twenty [dollars] weighing down your bindle if you just let us take you apart, install some science stuff in you, then put you back together.

    • One of the signs also depicts a test subject still carrying one while in his orange jumpsuit.
  • Nano Kitties and Nano Puppies (part of the virtual pet fad of The Nineties, along with their better-known cousin the Tamagotchi) would run away with a bindle stick if you neglected them or used the "discipline" function too frequently. (It should be noted that these were some of the more "forgiving" virtual pets; many others would actually die, and this would happen if they were left alone for even a little while, which led to virtual pets being banned in many a school on the grounds that the kids were spending too much time trying to keep their virtual pets alive rather than concentrating on the lesson. Also, that they beeped and made noise.)

Web Animation[edit | hide]

Webcomics[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers, Gromit carries one of these out to the dog house and then leaves.
  • Apparently there's a writer on The Simpsons who loves the word "bindle".
    • When Homer joined hobo boxing, one of the hobos he fought kept stopping to "check on his bindle". (It's John Swartzwelder, according to DVD commentary).
    • Again when Bart befriends a hobo—Chester J. Lampwick, the real creator of Itchy.
    • When Homer became "Mr.X", upon going public, Nelson brought him a rumor about the school's cafeteria cooking Hobos - he had the bindle sticks to prove it.
  • In The Venture Bros. episode "Home Insecurity", Dr. Venture creates a new guard robot, so the old robot H.E.L.P.eR packs a Bindle Stick and runs away.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
    • In one episode, Spongebob prepared one of these when he ran away in "Life of Crime". Patrick was unable to carry his, as it had his entire house inside.
    • Later on in "Have You Seen This Snail?" Gary packs one when he leaves SpongeBob due to his negligence.
  • In some episodes of Futurama we see homeless robots whose bindles are actually part of them, replacing one of their arms.
    • Bender: "Hey chief, someone's stealing your handkerchief full of crap."
  • Chuckie in Rugrats in the Wonderful Life episode a packs his toys in a bindle when he attempts to run away after his dad's favorite music CD was stolen.
  • Thrice in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Once during a flashback sequence in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" when young Applejack goes to meet her relatives in Manehatten. How she manages to carry it over her shoulder despite her lack of hands is a question best not asked, as she looks utterly adorable doing it. The subsequent episode, "Owl's Well That Ends Well", showed Spike carrying one after running away from home. Then seen again with Spike in the second season when he decided to join the Great Dragon Migration.
  1. (specifically those who are "professionally" homeless vagabonds by intent, as opposed to those who are merely unfortunate enough to have no place to live)