[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/big-daddy_1964.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:''Big Daddy'', [[http://www.ipdb.org/machine.cgi?id=242 Williams 1963]] ]]

->''And I gotta get a meal ticket\\
To survive you need a meal ticket\\
To stay alive you need a meal ticket\\
Feel no pain, no regret\\
When the line's been signed\\
You're someone else\\
Do yourself a favor, the meal ticket does the rest''
-->--"(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket", EltonJohn

Basically the target of a GoldDigger. Someone the digger pretends to love for the ticket's money, power, or some other thing the digger wants. Usually the meal ticket is wealthy, but they may simply have a dependable income that's enough that the gold digger won't have to worry about supporting themselves.

If a rich man is over 50, and the wife is under 40, this is the second most common type of fictional relationship after a MayDecemberRomance. Shows up regularly with UglyGuyHotWife.

Modern examples usually place a man in the position of Meal Ticket, but from Elizabethan to Victorian times, it was just as likely that the Meal Ticket would be female and an heiress, with a male Gold Digger (or diggers!) in pursuit.

In some cases, [[BecomingTheMask the digger might grow to love the ticket]], but it's rare. Expect fawning until the marriage, and then neglect or even abuse afterward. A happy ending is a toss up. Male {{Meal Ticket}}s have a high chance to come across the BlackWidow and have their lives quickly shortened.

The name has varied and vague origins from the 19th century to either this trope or to actual tickets used to get meals in places.

Suffice it to say, TruthInTelevision, but Administrivia/NoRealLifeExamplesPlease.

Compare RichSuitorPoorSuitor. See ChristmasCake for the (usually) gender-inverted equivalent.
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!!Administrivia/InUniverseExamplesOnly

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[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* In ''{{Berserk}}'', Princess Charlotte is this to Griffith, and in ''WebVideo/BerserkAbridged'' he actually refers to her as a meal ticket once.
* In ''{{Gungrave}}'', Harry admits he needs Sherry Walken to become the head of the Syndicate. It's not clear whether he really loves her or not, until the last episodes.
* Princess Flora is the female meal ticket of ''HoneyHoneyNoSutekiNaBouken'', and rich men from all over the world show up at her birthday party to ask her hand in marriage. It annoys her to be treated as a prize, so she tuckes her diamond ring into a cooked fish and chucks it out the window, where it is eaten by a cat (Honey's kitten Mimi) on the ground. She then says anyone who can retrieve the diamond ring will marry her, which kickstarts the plot.
* Genderflipped in ''SpeedGrapher'', where the MealTicket is the local EvilMatriarch Shinzen Tennozou. [[spoiler: Subverted in that Shinzen ''[[GenreSavvy knows]]'' [[GenreSavvy she's this]] and [[ExploitedTrope tries to use it to her advantage.]] [[WrongGenreSavvy But she's horribly]] OutGambitted in the end, and dies.]]
* Kanae Ohtori in ''RevolutionaryGirlUtena'' is this to [[BigBad Akio]], since as her fiance he's able to have control over the school and perpetuate his plan with the duels. Since the entire series is a {{deconstruction}} of prince and princess tropes, in this case Kanae's situation represents how little power many princesses actually have when they're used this way, and late in the series it's heavily implied that [[spoiler:Akio ''poisons'' her with the help of Anthy]].
* Invoked in Manga/{{Lady}}. Madeleine Wavebury is a VERY rich minor noblewoman who ''badly'' wants to socially ascend, and main character Lynn's father is a high-ranked ImpoverishedPatrician. Naturally, [[spoiler: George's snobbish father (who never forgave him [[MalignedMixedMarriage for marrying a now-deceased Japanese woman]] and [[ButNotTooForeign fathering Lynn with her]])]] encourages him to see Madeleine as this and go the GoldDigger way. [[spoiler: It doesn't happen in the end, but at a high prize: George's BigFancyHouse must be sold out to clear the family debts.]]
* ''HayateTheCombatButler'': BattleButler Himuro sees his master as a meal ticket.
* ''PandoraHearts'' plays with the trope: [[spoiler: [[TragicVillain Jack]] [[BastardBastard Vessalius]] befriends [[IJustWantToHaveFriends Arthur Barma]] and uses him as a MealTicket, but Jack's main motive for doing this is to get closer to [[LivingEmotionalCrutch Lacie]], [[DevotedToYou a noblewoman he genuinely loves.]]]]

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[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* Booster Gold's unnamed (and unseen) wife in "Formerly Known as the JusticeLeague". His friend Blue Beetle chastises him for marrying for money.

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[[folder: Fanfic ]]

* Kristoph is explicitly called one to Apollo in ''Fanfic/DirtySympathy'', as he's not only Apollo's employer he gives Apollo his apartment.

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[[folder: Film - Animated ]]

* Princess Fiona to Lord Farquaad (who only wanted her title) in ''{{Shrek}}''.

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[[folder: Film - Live Action ]]

* Uncle Fester was this to Debbie Jellinsky, the villainess in ''Series/TheAddamsFamily Values''.
* The father in every version of ''TheParentTrap''. Why is she interested in him? "I can think of a million reasons, and they're all in the bank."
* In ''[[Film/RobinHood2010 Robin Hood]]'', Robin is asked to act as Sir Robert Loxley, including with Lady Marion. So when he introduces Lady Marion as his wife to his BandOfBrothers, they applaud his luck with a "Well-played, Robin!"
* This is how LexLuthor gets back on his feet after winning a trial and getting out of jail in SupermanReturns.
* Big Ben from ''[[Film/ProblemChild Problem Child 2]]'' sees his son's rich fiance, LaWanda, as this for ''himself''; when his son dumps her, he is then convinced to marry her instead.
* This is how Rose's mother in ''Film/{{Titanic}}'' sees his daughter's fiance, Caledon Hockley, for herself.

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* Mr. de Vil in ''Literature/TheHundredAndOneDalmatians''.
* Frank Kennedy in ''GoneWithTheWind''.
* In ''Literature/TheThreeMusketeers'', Porthos has a married noblewoman as his MealTicket.

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[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* Rita in ''Series/MightyMorphinPowerRangers'', who dosed Lord Zedd with a love potion so that he'd marry her, forget about banishing her and let her get back to terrorising Earth. A later episode has Zedd's [[TheDragon Dragon]] Goldar try to reverse the potion's effect, only to find that they'd actually fallen for each other anyway.
* ''Series/VeronicaMars'': Kendall Casablancas, a young hot ex-professional cheerleader marries the elder Dick Casablancas, and when he flees the country to avoid prosecution for real estate fraud, she tries to make her casual sex relationship with her step-son's rich friend more of a sugar daddy thing, despite his being several years younger than herself. Didn't work.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Music ]]

* The titular woman in Jonathon Coulton's ''Millionaire Girlfriend''.
* The girlfriend in Tripod's ''Old Money''.
* The Eagles' "Lyin' Eyes" is about a gold digger who regrets marrying her Meal Ticket.
--> A rich old man, and she won't have to worry\\
She'll dress up all in lace and go in style.\\
Late at night a big old house gets lonely --\\
I guess every form of refuge has its price...

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[[folder: Professional Wrestling ]]

* Vicky Guerrero certainly played this role with {{Edge}} being the GoldDigger foil.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Theatre ]]

* The unseen husband in all versions of ''TheWomen'' (or was seen in ''The Opposite Sex'').
* Katherine, the "shrew" of ''Theatre/TheTamingOfTheShrew'' was the meal ticket. Petrucchio, the gold digger, learned to love her, though.
** In Theatre/KissMeKate, the musical adaptation, Petrucchio's motives are made explicitly clear, with his song, "I've Come to Wive It Wealthily (in Padua)"
* Portia for ''all'' of her suitors, in ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice''. Bassanio just was the one who was somewhat less of a jerk about it.
* In ''Theatre/{{Chicago}}'', Amos Hart ("Mr Cellophane") was the meal ticket of Roxy. In this case, he's not rich or powerful, he's simply willing to support her no matter what she did.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Princess Ovelia to Delita in ''FinalFantasyTactics.'' Um... [[BecomingTheMask he might have grown to love her.]]
* Pretty much any unmarried dwarf in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' is either a MealTicket or a GoldDigger, due to the way their caste system works ("Poorly," as one dwarven nobleman states).

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[[folder: Visual Novels ]]

* [[spoiler:Wocky Kitaki]] in ''ApolloJusticeAceAttorney''.
* Rena's father in ''VisualNovel/HigurashiNoNakuKoroNi'' is Rina's MealTicket. She even tries to kill Rena, when Rena threatens to reveal her scheme to con her dad out of his money, even trying to strangle her with her bare hands. Rena manages to get free, and then she murders Rina out of self defense. [[spoiler:[[FromBadToWorse Unfortunately, that was only the start of Rena's troubles.]]]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* The "Dependapotamus", according to ''TerminalLance''

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[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* Grandpa Freeman in ''TheBoondocks'' episode "Guess Ho's Coming To Dinner"
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