Created By: captainsandwich on June 6, 2012 Last Edited By: Arivne on October 6, 2014

Living Currency

Something that is alive or something sufficiently close to it is used as currency

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Everyone knows that living things can be exchanged for other goods or currency, but sometimes they are traded so regularly they can be (and sometimes are) considered currency themselves. In this case if something is sufficiently close to alive counts too, for example a completely autonomous Clockwork Creature. Also see Weird Currency and Practical Currency.


Examples

Comic Books
  • In Bone, residents of the valley use things like livestock as currency.

Literature
  • Discworld. In the villages of Lancre, where hard currency is a rarity, commerce is more likely to be negotiated in chickens than in coins.
  • In Gordon R. Dickson's Childe Cycle, the interstellar currency is largely based on skilled professionals. If a planet needs someone or something, they hire out a specialist in exchange.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Elderly relatives are used as currency.

Newspaper Comics
  • In B.C. the cavemen use live clams as currency.

Live-Action TV

Tabletop Games

Video Games

Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • June 6, 2012
    captainsandwich
    In real life I think some people use cattle as currency. Don't know who though.
  • June 6, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Buffy The Vampire Slayer demons use kittens when playing poker.
  • June 6, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Is it clear if kittens are regular currency or poker chips for them?
  • June 7, 2012
    AP
    Can anyone verify if they did this on The Flintstones?

    Real Life
    • Cows, chickens, and other love stock were often used in the Middle Ages when bartar systems were more common.
  • June 7, 2012
    Arivne
    Examples from Practical Currency that are also this trope:

    Comic Books
    • In Bone, residents of the valley use things like livestock as currency.

    Literature
    • Discworld. In the villages of Lancre, where hard currency is a rarity, commerce is more likely to be negotiated in chickens than in coins.
    • In Gordon R Dickson's Childe Cycle, the interstellar currency is largely based on skilled professionals. If a planet needs someone or something, they hire out a specialist in exchange.

    Video Games
    • Souls are the standard currency in Demons Souls and its spiritual successor Dark Souls since they are a source of great power.

    Examples from Weird Currency that are also this trope:

    Literature

    Newspaper Comics
    • In BC the cavemen use live clams as currency.
  • June 7, 2012
    KTera
    • Vulgrim from Darksiders trades upgrades and items in exchange for souls.
  • June 7, 2012
    randomsurfer
    @captainsandwich: they [kittens] are currency when used in poker, not just chips. Kinda like cigarettes in prison - they can be used as currency or they can be eaten/smoked.
  • June 7, 2012
    Escher
    I guess this is a subtrope of Weird Currency, but doesn't that trope already pretty much cover it? Is living money tropeable?
  • June 7, 2012
    EddieValiantJr
    Beetles (scarabs) in Star Fox Adventures.
  • June 7, 2012
    Ryusui
    • The official currency of Fallen London is the Echo, but there are a wide variety of items used for barter that can also be bought and sold at the Echo Bazaar, including a wide variety of souls. The Boatman will also accept Lucky Weasels and Sulky Bats in exchange for bringing the player back to the world of the living. A less obvious example is the Deep Amber used by the Rubbery Men, which is "alive" in the sense that they use it to collect life essence for their flesh-transforming experiments. And while you're in Polythreme, a land where everything is alive, all currency counts as "living."
  • June 7, 2012
    desdendelle
    • Slaves were used as currency in some cases.
  • June 7, 2012
    chicagomel
    ^ Re Buffy, it's hard to say. I know there was a whole kitten eating thing, or blood drinking rather, between the demons, Spike and if you count it, the vamp in the movie.
  • June 7, 2012
    MorganWick
    Do plants count as "living" for the purposes of this trope?
  • June 27, 2012
    BOFH
    Video Games
  • September 23, 2012
    captainsandwich
    @ randomsurfer. On second thought even if they were used as poker chips, it should be close enough (as poker chips are a stand in for money).
  • September 23, 2012
    captainsandwich
    @ Ryusui it sounds like that is simply a bartering system. If we are talking about a bartering system, the item in question needs to be trafficked so much that it might as well be actual currency. probably enough so that even someone who has no use for the utility of it, and quite possibly wants to get rid of it quick enough so it doesn't die on them or something, might be willing to try and get it just so they can trade it for something they want.
  • September 23, 2012
    dvorak
    In Mogworld, James mentions several times that his hometown uses turnips as money.
  • October 3, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Wait so is Mogworld literature? the namespace isn't that helpful.
  • October 3, 2012
    sigh824
    Do slaves count?
  • October 4, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    ^ yeah I was just about to ask about people, although rather than slaves I was mostly thinking about prison settings.

    • In Arrested Development, Tobias spends some time in prison to research for a role. George Sr trades him to White Power Bill for a pack of cigarettes.
    • On an episode of The Simpsons Milhouse cries to Chief Wiggum that he can't go to juvenile hall because "they'll pass me around like currency!" (page quote?)
  • October 5, 2014
    zarpaulus
    The entry is a mess.

    Tabletop Games
    • In Ironclaw the Phelan tribes use cumalai, domesticated reptiles that are used like cattle, as a general measurement of value. For instance, an "exotic" slave from the kingdom of Calebria would cost two cumalai.
  • October 5, 2014
    DAN004
    Back then before people invented money, they used barter system. Then they used some assorted items like cattle or plants as currency.
  • October 5, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    • Vangers: Not much focus is given to how Beebs, the currency, are handled during transactions. But the harmless insects that spawn around wherever player vehicle drives — are it. They can be run over, which adds to player's purse. Certain tasks require the player to gather a number of "fresh" beebs this way.
  • October 6, 2014
    Arivne
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=9gnjcy1fdr3xurh5o5a91jb7