A staple of Scavenger Worlds set After the End, the Disaster Scavengers are just that, people who have resorted to scavenging for food, clothes, and supplies from the rubble of their once prosperous world. While most heroes in these settings are Disaster Scavengers to an extent, they differ from rank-and file-scavengers because they haven't given up on the dream of a better world.
"Scavenging" tends to include stealing as well, and Disaster Scavengers are capable and willing to steal anything that isn't nailed down or on fire, even if it's vital to beating the Big Bad or restoring the world. The result is that they end up making things worse by creating mistrust and animosity, hampering any efforts to rebuild their community and set the world right, dooming themselves and others to Dying Like Animals.
The Elephant in the Living Room for such a society is that eventually, as with any non-renewable resource, you're going to run out of workable stuff that the previous society left behind.
They usually get into conflict with heroes like The Drifter by trying to steal his Rare Guns. He invariably catches the thief and gets his things back, and more often than not befriends the thief, usually a grimy child survivor, and getting a Morality Pet and Sidekick out of it, who can also vouch for him with the rest of the Untrusting Community. Sweet!
- The Wormhandlers of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.
- Bat from Fist of the North Star fit this trope for the beginning of the series. Despite being a Running Gag for the first couple of episodes, the kid grows out of this character trait and becomes Kenshiro's Sidekick.
- Desert Punk (Not to be confused with the trope Desert Punk) has entire corporations dedicated to finding Lost Technology.
- Sword and Blade, after resorting to stealing to survive in their war-torn home, try to rob Metaknight while the latter is running from a demon beast. He then saves them from it and they become his loyal sidekicks.
- Most of the residents of Gundam X's After War setting.
- Many people left behind in the ravaged Gotham City in the Batman No Mans Land storyline. In a twist, many scavenged for 'useless' stuff like jewels and cash and gold, because the Penguin had a line on food to the outside and knew Gotham would come back sooner or later. But most just looked for food. A can of unspoiled peaches was worth far more then a gold bar.
- Wasteland has ruin runners, people who scavenge for trade.
- Rampant in the Mad Max movies. Complete with scavenger sidekicks.
- Most of the survivors in Zombieland.
- In Land of the Dead survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse from the Night of the Living Dead series have inhabited a city, cleared out the zombies, and attempt to keep themselves supplied through this method.
- To a degree this applies to Noland (Laurence Fishburne's character) in Predators. Like the others, Noland was dumped on a different planet by the Predators because he was considered worth hunting. Unlike the others, who just arrived on the scene, Noland has spent at least 7 hunting seasons surviving on that planet through a combination of keeping a low profile and scavenging whatever technology, weapons, and food he could.
- In Cormac McCarthy's The Road, the few survivors of an unnamed disaster have to resort to this to survive, including the protagonist.
- The Roamers in The People of Sparks.
- The Survivalist series by Jerry Ahern. John Rourke and his sidekick stop to salvage ammunition from an abandoned semi-trailer. As they exit the truck they find themselves confronted by a self-appointed militia who declare them looters who will be summarily executed. Rourke kills two of them and forces the others to walk back to their base—the militia commander is quite outraged at this.
- How the protagonist of The Postman got his US Postal Service coat and mail bag, which led to people thinking he was a real postman.
- Neverwhere: To some extent, a lot of the characters living in London Underground are Disaster Scavengers, only the disaster is more of a lifestyle. When Richard first meets the Ratspeakers, for instance, they take his stuff and almost kill him. Then a grimy teenage girl befriends him after eating his banana. She would have become a Morality Pet but dies not long after.
- Lampooned in an episode of The Golden Girls, when the cast is taking shelter at a local TV station during a hurricane. Blanche empties all of the soda and snack machines, explaining that whenever there's a disaster, someone always does that to create a scarcity so they can re-sell the food items at a grossly inflated price "and I decided that this time, that someone would be me."
- Mostly everyone in Jericho.
- Half the population of the Fallout world. It can often be necessary to survive/a good way to make money for a player character.
- Of course several factions have picked themselves up and are starting to make things again.
- Take the Gun Runners, who started out as any other gang. They found a gun factory and started to make weapons based on the old schematics and using the old materials. When the supplies ran out, they learned how to recycle old bullets, shell casings and scrap metal, and make gunpowder/propellants.
- Others like the Followers of the Apocalypse can make medicines out of herbs and other such naturally recurring things.
- In fact a theme of Fallout is about rebuilding, those that stick to scavenge will only have a slow death.
- The "S" in STALKER stands for Scavenger.
- The viewpoint character in Planetarian. But he eventually gave up being one and settled down to become a stargazer or something, according to the drama CD.
- Warzone2100's plot initially revolves around searching for and salvaging pre-Collapse military technology, but unlike a typical Scavenger World you're collecting it in order to reverse-engineer it and manufacture it yourself.
- Evi and Clorian, the main characters from A Moment of Peace, are unusually peaceful disaster scavengers.
- The Exiles from Homestuck.
- The main character in Derelict
- The eponymous ZombieHunters. In a twist, these are not simple looters but paramilitary groups who work for an island enclave of humanity, salvaging goods from abandoned settlements.