[[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 trope name has slightly hazy origins; its use for an actual ticket that could be exchanged for a meal in some place goes back to the 19th century, and by the mid 20th, it was being used for someone who another person used as a source of support. "Sugar Daddy" (another bit of old slang) is an alternate term, indicating an older male Meal Ticket who supports the GoldDigger with gifts of valuable items (jewelry is always popular) or sometimes cash. Someone referred to as a Sugar Daddy isn't usually expected to marry their GoldDigger, though; [[TheMistress the relationship is less formal than that]], and may be fairly short-term.

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

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

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* In ''{{Manga/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 ''Manga/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 ''Anime/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 ''Anime/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.]]
* ''Manga/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.]]]]
* In ''Manga/TokyoGhoul'', Tsukiyama attempts to make himself one to Kaneki as part of his efforts to gain his trust, using his family's wealth to finance their group. MuggleBestFriend Chie teases him about this, comparing him to a dirty old man using money to charm a [[HostClub Hostess]].
* Shimada in ''Manga/MyMonsterSecret'' meets love in the person of... Aizawa Ryou, an alien guy piloting a [[GenderBender female]] MobileSuitHuman who is always looking for a way to get free meals. He's the only one who doesn't notice right away what "she"'s trying to do. The problem is that Shimada's idea of a relationship with a girl is� awkward at best, at worst slightly creepy, as Ryou soon discovers.
* The titular character from ''Yurika's Campus Life'' is a {{Socialite}} whose father's debts have, by the start of the story, extinguished all of his family's money, leaving her to fend off for herself. With few useful skills to make a living, she eventually decides to live the "gigolette" life, using the [[ThePornomancer inexplicably efficient charm]] she has over other girls to take advantage of every rich student in the women's university she enrolls in. Because of this, most of the manga's chapters have a "MealTicket of the Week" format.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* Booster Gold's unnamed (and unseen) wife in "Formerly Known as the Franchise/{{Justice League|of America}}". His friend Blue Beetle chastises him for marrying for money.

[[/folder]]

[[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.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film - Animated ]]

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

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film - Live Action ]]

* Uncle Fester was this to Debbie Jellinsky, the villainess in ''Film/AddamsFamilyValues''.
* The father in every version of ''Film/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 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 ComicBook/LexLuthor gets back on his feet after winning a trial and getting out of jail in ''Film/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 1997}}'' sees his daughter's fiance, Caledon Hockley, for herself.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* Mr. de Vil in ''Literature/TheHundredAndOneDalmatians''.
* Frank Kennedy in ''GoneWithTheWind''.
* In ''Literature/TheThreeMusketeers'', Porthos has a married noblewoman as his MealTicket.
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', the amoral sellsword Bronn, one of the series' many {{Social Climber}}s, marries Lollys Stokeworth, younger daughter of Lady Tanda Stokeworth of Stokeworth. Lollys is considered one of the worst marriage matches among the nobility, being over 30 (in a society where highborn women are often married of shortly after flowering), and mentally disabled, along with being pregnant due to being raped by a mob. However Bronn uses his marriage to end up becoming Lord of Stokeworth, having the men he has gathered throw Lollys' elder and childless sister Falyse out shortly after Tanda breaks her hip in a riding accident. Tanda dies soon after and Falyse dies, making Bronn one of the most powerful men in the Crownlands outside King's Landing.
[[/folder]]

[[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 stepson's rich friend more of a sugar daddy thing, despite his being several years younger than herself. Doesn't work.
* On ''Series/GeneralHospital''. After Carly miscarried Sonny's baby, her rival Liz rather cruelly suggested that losing this trope was what she was really upset about. (Sonny being the town's wealthiest and most powerful mobster).

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Music ]]

* The titular woman in Music/JonathanCoulton's ''Millionaire Girlfriend''.
* The girlfriend in Music/{{Tripod}}'s ''Old Money''.
* The Music/{{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...

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Professional Wrestling ]]

* Vicky Guerrero certainly played this role with Wrestling/{{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 ''VideoGame/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). Among the Casteless the only way out of poverty short of leaving Orzammar altogether is to have a child of the opposite gender by a higher caste partner.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Visual Novels ]]

* [[spoiler:Wocky Kitaki]] in ''VisualNovel/ApolloJusticeAceAttorney''.
* Rena's father in ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'' 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 ]]

* ''Webcomic/StickyDillyBuns'': Amber specifically refers to Nathan as having been her "sugar daddy". (The actual affair was seen during their earlier appearances in ''Webcomic/MenageA3''.) She definitely extracted [[CastingCouch acting jobs]] and eventually an apartment from him; there may have been other gifts, but they weren't shown. Nathan periodically attempts to rekindle the relationship, and uses (and may be used by) other [[BiTheWay people]] in a similar way.
* The "Dependapotamus", according to ''Webcomic/TerminalLance''

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

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

[[/folder]]

----