%% Image selected per Image Pickin' thread: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/posts.php?discussion=1389072164068717800
%% Please do not change or remove without starting a new thread.
[[quoteright:250:[[ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sliced_bread_2_3_1264.png]]]]

->'''Actress:''' So what do you do for a living?\\
'''Harry:''' Uh, I'm retired. I invented dice when I was a kid.
-->-- ''Film/KissKissBangBang''

Sometimes the plot needs a character to be [[UndisclosedFunds very wealthy]] without ever [[OneHourWorkWeek actually doing anything]] or being particularly clever. When such a thing is needed, the character will be credited with inventing something very simple, useful, and everyday. Not anything groundbreaking like cold fusion -- think more along the lines of velcro.

In other cases, the character is shown to be someone who isn't necessarily a great scientist, but clever and practical minded. Perhaps the character won't get famous or wealthy off of the invention, but their product at least will be a household name.

Compare with WeekendInventor when inventing is a hobby rather than a lucrative living. See also BunglingInventor, GadgeteerGenius, and MrFixit. If the inventor was an ancestor, then it is RoyaltiesHeir. If the character only ''claims'' to have invented something, then it is InventionPretension. If they think they've invented it, but someone else has before, see ItsBeenDone. In a number of cases this also doubles as a ShoutOut or a NamesakeGag.



[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* In ''ComicBook/{{Runaways}}'' this is given as a reason why Chase's parents are wealthy enough to hang out with the families of the other characters, whose parents are doctors, businessmen and famous actors, among others. Specifically, they invented a thing "that thing" that lets you open CD covers without ruining your fingernails. Subverted because it's partially a lie - his parents, just like those of the other kids, are actually supervillains in control of the entire West Coast criminal underground, although they are also world-class inventors and well known enough that Tony Stark is able to recognize Mr. Stein by voice.


[[folder: Film ]]

* Creator/PatrickDempsey is portrayed as one in the movie ''Film/MadeOfHonor''. He invented that cardboard thing that goes around the coffee cup that keeps your hand from getting burned--named in the movie as the "Coffee Collar." Patrick Dempsey got 10 cents whenever one was used.
* In ''Film/GardenState'', one of Zach Braff's friends invented "silent velcro" and became a multi-millionaire. He now spends his time driving golf-carts around his mansion.
* {{Invoked}} in ''Film/RomyAndMichelesHighSchoolReunion''. The girls ''claim'' to have invented Post-It Notes, but it's a lie to impress their old high school peers. They deliberately tried to think of something everyone has heard of, but no-one's ever thought about who invented it (unaware that one of their classmates was a business school graduate where they taught about that invention in their classes.) PlayedStraight with said classmate, who invented a fast-smoking cigarette.
* ''Film/TheSocialNetwork'' features the RealLife story of Mark Zuckerberg and the invention of Website/{{Facebook}}.
* In ''Film/AustinPowersInternationalManOfMystery'' during a group therapy session Dr. Evil mentions that his father claimed to have invented the question mark (among many other, equally strange declarations).
* In ''Film/MenInBlack'', the MIB owned the patents to some '[[ETGaveUsWiFi out of town]]' inventions. Among them was Velcro.
* In ''Film/StarTrekIVTheVoyageHome'', Scotty hands the chemical makeup for Transparent Aluminum (which ''will'' be extremely mundane in the ''Star Trek'' canon, but isn't in 1980s US) to an engineer.[[note]]It actually already existed before the time the movie takes place.[[/note]]
-->'''[=McCoy=]:''' You realize that by giving him the formula you're altering the future.\\
'''Scotty:''' Why? How do we know he didn't [[StableTimeLoop invent the thing]]?
* ''Film/FlashOfGenius'' is a movie BasedOnATrueStory about Robert Kearns and the invention of the intermittent windshield wiper.
* In ''Film/OfficeSpace'', the character Tom Smykowski uses the settlement from a car accident to fund the invention of his "Jump to Conclusions" mat ("Have a problem? Just take out the mat and ''jump'' to a conclusion!"). In universe, it was wildly successful.
* In ''Film/MeanGirls'', Gretchen's family is wealthy because her father invented toaster strudels.
* Nick Vanderpark (Jack Black) in ''Film/{{Envy}}'' becomes rich after inventing a product that vaporizes dog poo.
* In ''Film/AboutABoy'', Hugh Grant's character is living off the royalties from a horrible OneHitWonder Christmas song, "Santa's Super Sleigh." He didn't even write it; his late father did.
* In ''Film/NightAtTheMuseumBattleOfTheSmithsonian'', Larry Daley becomes a successful inventor, and one of his inventions is Glow-in-the-Dark Flashlight, which is based on his former job from the first movie as a night guard.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* Stanley's father from ''Literature/{{Holes}}'' spent the entire novel trying to invent a way to recycle old sneakers. He ultimately succeeded not only at inventing the perfect odor-eater, but also at marketing it.
* ''Literature/GoodOmens'' has a list of people who invented things that, once they were invented, became so ubiquitous no one remembered they ever needed inventing. [[NamesakeGag They all have names like Device or Gadget]].
* Creator/DanielPinkwater:
** One book features a protagonist taking a summer job working for his uncle, who had invented the things they put on the end of shoelaces (they're carefully never given their actual name-- aglets-- in the novel, which plays into [[WhatTheHeckIsAnAglet a whole trope in itself]]).
** Another refers to the man who invented the little plastic clip that holds bread bags closed. His company still manufactures them, and he licenses them to other companies who pay him a few cents per clip, which adds up to a small fortune for him and is still cheaper for them than twist-ties or other contrivances.
* In ''Literature/JohnnyAndTheBomb'', Wobbler is left in the past, unable to return to his time due to a paradox. While taking TheSlowPath, he uses his knowledge of the present to become obscenely rich by both 'inventing' fast food chains and encouraging the inventors of other products.
* In ''Literature/TheWestingGame'', James Hoo has a grudge against Westing for stealing his idea for the disposable paper diaper. He later invents a paper shoe liner, Hoo's Little Foot-Eez, that sells well enough that he retires a wealthy man.
* In ''Literature/DirkGentlysHolisticDetectiveAgency'', the main protagonist invented an app that turns spreadsheet data into music, which corporations love because the resulting tunes make good jingles. He doesn't personally get rich by doing so, but it's the product that keeps his boss's software company afloat.
* In ''Literature/The39Clues'', Alistair Oh's money comes from his pride and joy, the microwavable burrito.
* Caractacus Pott in the book ''Literature/ChittyChittyBangBang''. In this case, it overlaps with MoneyDearBoy: his more mundane inventions, such as collapsible coat-hangers and cubical potatoes, keep the family going.
* In Patrick O'Leary's ''Literature/DoorNumberThree'', there's a hotel convention of these kinds of mundane inventors. One of the main characters invented the "Hold" button.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* A RunningGag from ''Series/TheAdventuresOfBriscoCountyJr'' was the invention of now-everyday objects, some of them decades in advance of their normal time.
--> "It's the coming thing!"
* ''Series/RedDwarf'': The episode "Timeslides" mentions Rimmer's stupid former classmate, Fred "Thickie" Holden, who "invented" a novelty stress toy called the "tension sheet" (which was actually just an ordinary sheet of bubble wrap painted red with the words "tension sheet" painted on which the user popped the bubbles of). The "invention" made him a millionaire by the age of 26.
* Walden Schmidt from ''Series/TwoAndAHalfMen'' is billionaire after developing a website that he sold to Microsoft for $1.3 billion. No one has ever heard of it because Microsoft decided to bundle it with the Zune.
** Subverted with Charlie Harper. He is a very successful advertising jingle writer and he makes a lot of money in royalties. Most people could have comfortably retired on that income but Charlie spends all his money on booze, drugs, gambling and hookers so he regularly has to go back to work and write new jingles. When that is not enough to support his lifestyle, he branches out into writing children's songs and makes even more money in royalties.
* The town of Neptune in ''Series/VeronicaMars'' is so high-class because it's home to a bunch of children of the tech boom. Duncan Kane's dad, for instance, invented streaming video.
* Joe Fontana of ''Series/LawAndOrder'' is the grandson of the original "[[BlandNameProduct Chef]] [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chef_Boyardee Luigi]]", which is why he can afford a penthouse condo and a $100,000 car on an honest cop's salary.
* In the ''Series/{{Angel}}'' episode "Happy Anniversary", Cordelia finds a client whose family is rich because "they invented chairs or something".


[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]

* One ''ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}}'' strip showed Dilbert's great-grandfather as the inventor of sliced bread, the greatest thing since unsliced bread.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', if you ask EDI where Cerberus gets funding from, Joker says that the Illusive Man invented the paper clip. EDI helpfully clarifies, "That is a joke."


[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* Otra in ''Webcomic/{{Girly}}'' is wealthy only because she accidentally came up with a popular clothing fashion line that only consists of wear with the number 0 on it, or letter O in reference to her name, after a designer took notice of the number 0 she drew on her own shirt and found it to be brilliant. [[spoiler:After a pep-talk from Winter that gets her out of her funk, she puts some actual effort into new designs that become just as popular.]]


[[folder: Web Original ]]

* Mentioned as a gag in the ''Creator/LegendaryFrog'' cartoon where Kerrigan decides to become an inventor and make millions. She says to her boyfriend, "Remember John from next door? John Velcro?"


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/TimeSquad'' had plenty of these. Whether the inventors actually got around to inventing their mundane inventions was completely subject to plot convenience.
* ''WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom'': Sam Manson's family became wealthy because an ancestor of hers invented a device that twirls toothpicks in cellophane.
** Danny's parents make a living from the inventions they make.
* ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' episode "Ron Millionaire" featured Ron Stoppable receiving 99 million dollars for inventing the Naco. Whatever he didn't spend during the episode was stolen by Dr. Drakken in the end.
* Mr Minotaur's ancestor in ''WesternAnimation/DudeThatsMyGhost'' invented the receipt.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheLooneyTunesShow'', Bugs is wealthy and living in a nice home because he invented the carrot peeler, apparently a useful kitchen appliance.
* On ''WesternAnimation/{{Daria}}'' Jodie's father Andrew Landon became a millionaire by inventing the "folding coffee cup".
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Archer}}'': In "Heart of Archness Part 1", Archer lies to a [[RuthlessModernPirates pirate captain]] that he has a rich mother who invented the splash-less urinal cake.
* An episode of ''Westernanimation/{{The Tick}}'' involved a villain abducting geniuses from various points in time, including the cavewoman who invented the wheel. Said cavewoman didn't get sent back to her own time, and the final shot of the episode shows she became a billionaire on back royalties.