Created By: AinSophAur33 on March 16, 2013 Last Edited By: AinSophAur33 on March 21, 2013
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Money Is Not Power

What happens to the rich when their money is worthless?

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There's always that rich Jerkass -- the corporate snob, that one with the Lexus, that arrogant prick who's always looking down his nose at everybody else. He can have anything he wants, because Screw the Rules, I Have Money!.

But then shit hits the fan. Maybe it's a natural disaster, an unstoppable disease, the Titanic, or even The End of the World as We Know It. Or maybe it's merely a Communist revolution or a hyperinflation that makes all those money funny. Suddenly, all that wealth isn't worth so much, because people are more worried about plain ol' survival rather than making money. However, it could be on a much it's a much smaller scale -- maybe Kids Just Prefer Boxes or money simply isn't important to somebody.

Getting hit with this trope is typically a huge moment for any character used to money solving all their problems. Sometimes it can lead up to a Villainous BSOD or even a Heel–Face Turn. Or sometimes he just dies.

Compare Screw the Money, I Have Rules! and Worthless Yellow Rocks.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, opium kingpin Takeda Kanryuu tries to bribe Kenshin out of attacking his mansion. This works about as well as you'd expect. Discussed by his Dragon-in-Chief Shinomori Aoshi:
    Aoshi: You don't get it. Your money's of no use here. Himura Battousai does not live for gain--I told you.

Comics
  • V for Vendetta: this is the final fate of Rich Bitch Helen, having lost all money and power, with her husband (who was in charge of the Norsefire party's Sinister Surveillance) dead, having just killed her lover (an up-and-coming street rat, who she was grooming to become the chief of Norsefire's goons), and the total collapse of the Norsefire party leaves her on the street. She desperately flings herself onto the first guy she recognizes as a former party member, trying to seduce him that with her they'll seize power. He no longer cares about any of it, and leaves her screeching.

Film
  • The Dark Knight Rises: Corporate mogul John Daggett gets hit in the face by this trope when Bane stops doing what he's told.
    Bane: [to Stryver] Leave us.
    Daggett: No, you stay here. I'm in charge! [Bane puts his hand on Daggett's shoulder; Daggett craps his pants]
    Bane: Do you feel in charge? [Stryver leaves]
    Daggett: [almost whimpering] I paid you a small fortune!
    Bane: And this gives you power over me?
    Daggett: What is this?
    Bane: Your money and infrastructure have been important...'til now.
  • Titanic: Cal tries to bribe his way off the doomed ship. While it appears to work initially, the money is thrown back in his face when it matters most.
  • The War Of The Worlds 1953. As Los Angeles is being evacuated, people are rioting in the streets while trying to obtain transportation out of the city.
    Man: Let me up. I'll give you $500 for your place. I'll make it $1,000.
    Man in truck: Money's no good anymore!

Literature
  • Making Money plays with this trope: Moist Von Lipwig, Boxed Crook, works for the government as the leader of the National Bank, treating it as a complex con game, which, in a very real sense, it is. He faces the resistance of the Turvy family, who are the Royally Screwed Up shareholders of the bank. And while their money definitely grants them power, this power is mere leverage, not just Moist, but also their true opponent, the Big Good[[hottip:*sort of]] Vetinari, know and understand this much better than they do.
  • This is Koreiko's plight in The Little Golden Calf and the reason why he patiently awaits the end of the Soviet rule. Ostap Bender also learns to appreciate this trope when he finally makes it big.
  • In Battle Royale Oda is a rich asshole that claims he doesn't belong in the Program because his father works for the government. He finds out that they don't care one bit who you are. Everyone goes to the Program at random, even rich people.

Real Life
  • Late Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar had a saying: "mi plomo o mi plata" ("my lead, or my silver"), which basically was saying if you don't take my money (and play ball), you'll take a bullet--basically an added incentive against Screw the Money, I Have Rules! for those who might otherwise be so inclined.
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • March 16, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    I can somewhat see this as an application of or a sister trope to Worthless Yellow Rocks, where is there is dissonance in an object's apparent value between cultures and situations. I'd figure that trope could cover this one.
  • March 16, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    I'd say sister trope. Worthless Yellow Rocks is a commodity becoming very cheap. This is like money itself not buying influence.
  • March 16, 2013
    AinSophAur33
    They are definitely related, but this trope focuses more on the impact of one's wealth suddenly being worthless in the situation, and the impact on (and realization from) the character. Maybe Needs A Better Name to fit?
  • March 16, 2013
    AinSophAur33
    Compare Screw The Money I Have Rules.

    Anime and Manga:

    • In Rurouni Kenshin, opium kingpin Takeda Kanryuu tries to bribe Kenshin out of attacking his mansion. This works about as well as you'd expect. Discussed by his Dragon In Chief Shinomori Aoshi:
      Aoshi: You don't get it. Your money's of no use here. Himura Battousai does not live for gain--I told you.

    EDIT: Got the quote I needed.
  • March 16, 2013
    AinSophAur33
    This is Koreiko's plight in The Little Golden Calf and the reason why he patiently awaits the end of the Soviet rule. Ostap Bender also learns to appreciate this trope when he finally makes it big.
  • March 16, 2013
    AinSophAur33
    Don't list pothole Bane to The Dragon, that's a huge spoiler!

    • Making Money plays with this trope: Moist Von Lipwig, Boxed Crook, works for the government as the leader of the National Bank, treating it as a complex con game, which, in a very real sense, it is. He faces the resistance of the Turvy family, who are the Royally Screwed Up shareholders of the bank. And while their money definitely grants them power, this power is mere leverage, not just Moist, but also their true opponent, the Big Good[[hottip:*:sort of]] Vetinari, know and understand this much better than they do.

  • March 16, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • The War Of The Worlds 1953. As Los Angeles is being evacuated, people are rioting in the streets while trying to obtain transportation out of the city.
    Man: Let me up. I'll give you $500 for your place. I'll make it $1,000.
    Man in truck: Money's no good anymore!
  • March 16, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Real Life

    Late Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar had a saying: "mi plomo o mi plata" ("my lead, or my silver"), which basically was saying if you don't take my money (and play ball), you'll take a bullet--basically an added incentive against Screw The Money I Have Rules for those who might otherwise be so inclined.
  • March 17, 2013
    Prfnoff
    Might this be a subtrope of Rich In Dollars Poor In Sense?
  • March 17, 2013
    moriwen
    Related to Money For Nothing , probably.
  • March 18, 2013
    AgProv
    Newspaper Cartoons A full arc of Steve Bell's If cartoon dealt with the question If Margaret and Denis Thatcher were to be stripped of all their wealth, contacts and prestige overnight, and were reduced to poverty, how would they cope?

    The Prime minister who famously announced "there is no such thing as society" and thought all welfare claimants were scroungers is reduced to a welfare claimant herself, with an unemployable alcoholic husband, living on a council estate, with a wayward son who, stripped of his advantages and no longer a spoilt rich kid, falls into crime and this time is treated with all the leniency due to a council estate kid who goes off the rails.... life for the newly pauperised Thatchers ends badly.
  • March 18, 2013
    AgProv
    Literature Sue Townshend (Adrian Mole) imagined the Queen of England and her equally awful family, stripped of rank and unearned income, reduced to living in poverrty on a council estate and having to interact with the commoners in a big way. (The Queen And I)
  • March 18, 2013
    MokonaZero
    In Battle Royale Oda is a rich asshole that claims he doesn't belong in the Program because his father works for the government. He finds out that they don't care one bit who you are. Everyone goes to the Program at random, even rich people.
  • March 18, 2013
    AinSophAur33
    Agprov, these are actually not true examples. This trope is about what happens when one's money no longer has the impact it once did, not when the rich suddenly become poor.
  • March 19, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    Subverted in Gilligan's Island, where multi-millionaire Thurston Howell III and his wife were stranded on a desert island just like the other castaways. Nonetheless, they still managed to maintain a more lavish lifestyle than the others, partly because they (and the others) took an inexplicably large amount of personal effects with them, including at least one trunk full of money!
  • March 20, 2013
    Chabal2
    V For Vendetta: this is the final fate of Rich Bitch Helen, having lost all money and power, with her husband (who was in charge of the Norsefire party's Sinister Surveillance) dead, having just killed her lover (an up-and-coming street rat, who she was grooming to become the chief of Norsefire's goons), and the total collapse of the Norsefire party leaves her on the street. She desperately flings herself onto the first guy she recognizes as a former party member, trying to seduce him that with her they'll seize power. He no longer cares about any of it, and leaves her screeching.

  • March 20, 2013
    gallium
    Real Life

    • The Romanovs had to deal with this in a big way.
  • March 20, 2013
    Damr1990
    slightly Off-topic Anyone can Edit = "Up For Grabs" Tag also i'm not completely sure, bu i think "Needs Better Formatting" might be included on "NeedsABetterDescription" <-don't quote me on this one though :p

  • March 20, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ Zero Context Example. They had to deal with this in what way?
  • March 20, 2013
    gallium
    By getting executed, or fleeing for their lives, selling their stuff and living middle-class existences. Not sure this is a Zero Context Example in any case, surely most people know what happened to the House of Romanov in 1917-1918.
  • March 20, 2013
    VPhantom
    • In Turn A Gundam, this happens early on to Guin Lineford after the attack to Nocis City. He tries to purchase a transport to get away from the chaos, but the driver refuses because his money has been rendered worthless by the current situation.

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