Carter: [on phone] Did you blow all your money yet?A plot where one non-rich character has a huge and very sudden increase in expendable income. This might be for any reason, such as winning a lottery, inheriting the fortune of a rich friend or a long lost family member, getting a better job, criminal enterprise, inventing the latest popular gadget, a Get Rich Quick Scheme that actually works, or even because something was delivered to the wrong address or a computer glitch suddenly put an extra few zeroes on their bank balance. Simultaneously, however, they are handed the Idiot Ball. Almost invariably, Acquired Situational Narcissism makes the character start to act like an Upper-Class Twit or Nouveau Riche, spend like there's no tomorrow, mindlessly buy "whatever it is that rich people like", blow off their former friends as has-beens, etc. The Intimidating Revenue Service and distant relatives never heard of before or since may also demand their share of the character's winnings. Within a few days, one of the following happens:
Lois: No, Daddy.
Carter: [on phone] Alright, call me when you blow all your money, love ya, bye.
Lois: No, Daddy.
Carter: [on phone] Alright, call me when you blow all your money, love ya, bye.
— Family Guy, "Lottery Fever"
- The character somehow manages to completely exhaust their fortune except for just enough to buy themselves back into the life they had before.
- The bank, mafia, CIA, etc., realizes their mistake and sends a collection agent to confiscate the missing funds.
- They get fired from their new job for gross negligence, making the company look bad, insulting the boss, etc.
- They get in trouble for something, and to get out of jail time, a mob hit, etc., they must abandon their fortune.
- A totally trustworthy chap convinces them to secure their fortune in a foolproof investment scheme — whoops, turns out he was a Con Man.
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Anime & Manga
- Kankichi Ryotsu of Kochikame had been making his fortunes multiple times throughout the series whether from inheritance, gambling or selling popular products. He always lose all his wealth from overspending, bad investments or from accidents. He's back to being a patrol officer again.
- In One Piece's Water-7 Arc, it's implied that, prior to stealing the Straw Hats' two million, whenever the Franky Family got into some cash they'd lose it either through partying or betting at the races. And what happened to the remaining money? It ended up being spent on the Straw Hats and friends' victory party. Nami is furious to learn this. However, it turns out to be a zig-zagged example as while the Franky Family did blow a lot of the money they stole from the Straw Hats into the various parties, betting and such as, Franky made much better use of part of it, in order to buy some legendary Adam wood, the best quality wood in the world, to build the Straw Hats a new ship to replace the lost Going Merry.
- In Tactics, whenever Kantarou and thus, the gang, come into any money, it's guaranteed never to last very long, much to Youko's despair.
- Faye from Cowboy Bebop has this as a recurring problem. Every time she comes into a good chuck of money (either through swindling or genuine bounty hunting) she'll blow it betting on races and lose it all in an instant. Spike even calls her out on it but she proclaims "It's better than keeping it in the bank."
- Ryo Saeba and Kaori Makimura from City Hunter have this problem, with two good reasons: their continuous fights often damage their home and the Cat's Eye cafe (resulting in them having to pay for the repairs of their home and refunding Umibozu and Miki for the damage at the Cat's Eye), and Ryo tends to go through very expensive ammunition like it is water. Even before those fights started to give cause, Ryo managed to spend one hundred millions yen in one week. The inserts in the Complete Edition of the manga explain he gave them all to the rehab center where he had recently sent a group of junkies.
- In one episode of Tenchi Universe, Ryoko is tasked to get food for the gang as they're running low on their trip to Jurai. Ryoko, being a little more amoral than her OVA counterpart, runs off with the money, wins big in races and treats herself to a vacation. When Ryo-Ohki guilt-trips Ryoko into doing the right thing, she's blown the money on the vacation and what's left is converted to almost nothing, forcing her to rob a bank to get the money.
- An early episode of Tenchi in Tokyo had the girls make money on their own so they can use it to visit Tenchi (they had a gateway, but Tenchi got tired of it and blocked it). Sasami ends up being the one who makes the most money. The very next episode, Sasami uses the gateway to escape the girls - they became so desperate, they started hounding her for her money - and Tenchi decides to let her use it.
- A variant happens in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable, when Josuke, Okuyasu and Shigeru win a small fortune on a lottery ticket. Josuke's mom takes his share and puts it in a secure bank account to keep him from pulling this trope, so he ends up not seeing a single yen. (Okuyasu intentionally puts his share in the bank, as he's actually very sensible with money.)
- Played straight in an earlier scene, where Joseph Joestar needs to buy baby supplies for the invisible baby they found, and borrows Josuke's card with all his saved up money (since he doesn't have his own money on hand). Due to a combination of being rich enough to not really think about money, not understanding the dollar-to-yen exchange rate, the onset of senility and a very pushy salesman, the money is soon gone.
- In the Serenity comic book Better Days, Malcolm Reynolds and his crew stumble upon a fortune hidden in a temple. Several of them come up with more or less sensible plans for spending their cuts (Kaylee plans to start up a mechanic shop, Wash and Zoe consider either buying a luxury liner, etc.), but Mal ends up allowing the money to be stolen by some Alliance officers he'd previously crossed, both to get the Alliance off his back and because he is afraid the crew will leave him if they all get rich.
- Disney Ducks Comic Universe :
- Has happened in the comics multiple times, usually to Donald, sometimes involving his uncle's money (though obviously that isn't usually all lost, or it's lost back to Scrooge). At least once Scrooge even lets him "take care of his business" to have him lose as much money as possible when he realizes he himself can't bear to carry out a bet to do so even though that would lead to greater gains.
- The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck has Scrooge being a former victim of the trope before becoming wealthy for good, albeit he didn't lose it out of foolishness.
- José Carioca once met a gypsy who predicted he'd get a lot of money but he didn't take it seriously. Eventually, he met two men with what he recognized as a stolen jewel. Knowing the owner's offered a reward, he took it from the "bad guys" and went to the owner's manor, where he got a reward, becoming wealthy. Until the "bad guys" revealed themselves as cops who were about to deliver the jewel back. José had to give it back. The gypsy later told him she'd have told him his wealth wouldn't last long if he had let her finish reading his hand.
- Monica's Gang: Chuck Billy's father once won the lottery. He donated a part to the church and then he was surrounded by people trying to mooch off, including some distant relatives. By the time Chuck and his mother found his Dad, the money that was left was, as Chuck's mother surmised, enough to buy new clothes for the three of them. Chuck's Dad then went back to the place where he got the prize and tried to borrow money for more tickets.
- One story arc has Wally win a billion dollars in a lawsuit, and ends with him losing it all in Vegas.
- In one Sunday strip, Dilbert wins the lottery and is blindsided with an interview from a reporter who asks him what he wants to say to the world.
Dilbert: Drinks for everybody!
- Dogbert earns $400,000 selling used cars for a week, and loses it all when the bank he deposited it with turns out to be a scam.
- Another time Dilbert makes a fortune in the stock market and experiences random miseries until the garbage man tells him that the "Law of Found Money" wouldn't allow him to keep randomly acquired cash, and he spends it on a "Cray 9" supercomputer.
- This happens quite a lot in Popeye; whatever big fortune Wimpy, Olive Oyl or the other supporters make in the last adventure, they'll end up losing it due to some bad investment or whatever. Popeye, on the other hand, seems to like his Perpetual Poverty to a degree, and is such a big softy underneath that crusty exterior, that he will just give away his new wealth to the first needy people he sees.
- Averted with the fortune Olive inherited from a long-lost Uncle. She merely gave it back to him once he turned out to be alive.
- Garfield: Mentioned in this comic◊, as the proverb under Jon's photo in his yearbook.
Films — Live-Action
- The Jerk. Navin Johnson invents a device to hold people's glasses in place and makes millions. He spends like an idiot, then loses everything when the customers sue him because the device made them go cross-eyed. Averted at the end when he moves back home and finds that his family has become wealthy by investing the money he sent them.
- Dumb and Dumber: Lloyd has absolutely no financial savvy. Give him a briefcase full of money, and he has even less.
- Blank Check: A 12-year-old boy gets and blows a million dollars.
- Subverted in Brewster's Millions (in its many iterations). Everyone thinks this is happening to Brewster, but he's deliberately trying to waste a fortune as part of a condition of his inheritance. It's implied that the condition is there to teach him how quickly a fortune can be lost. Or how cheap money, and the "happiness" it buys, can be if you splurge stupidly and intentionally.
- In the movie It Could Happen to You, Charlie's wife Muriel divorces him after he wins four million dollars in the lottery and turns out to have promised half the winnings to a waitress, Yvonne, in lieu of a tip. The divorce lawyers claim the winnings to be the wife's since "he bought the ticket for her," even though the numbers weren't exactly the ones she picked. After getting a hold of both shares, Muriel - dreaming of even more money - marries another "millionaire" who turns out to be a con man who steals the money; she's forced to live with her mother in a small apartment and go back to work at her old job in a nail salon. Charlie and Yvonne end up much better off.
- Matahi and his lover Reri flee their home island of Bora Bora (it's a long story) in Tabu. They find their way to an island run by French colonialists, and Matahi gets a job as a pearl diver, which he's very good at. Unfortunately, he has no concept of how to handle money, so he spends all the money he made on the pearl and a hell of a lot more, leaving him buried in debt.
- This happens, or has happened, in one character's backstory in Stephen King's The Stand. The pop musician Larry Underwood had one big hit and made lots of money out of it, but soon found that there wasn't that much after all and anyway he'd certainly spent it all partying like an idiot. After the world changes and has to be rebuilt, he never mentions to anyone that he was the guy who made that popular song.
- The book, Money Can't Buy Love. Before winning the Maryland Lottery, the heroine is broke, hates her job, and her boyfriend is slow to commit. When she wins, she cheats on her now-fiance with a much younger man, alienates the only two friends she had and quits her job. She also spends foolishly, buying a new car, a mansion, a studio, and a brand-new truck for the younger man. At the end, she loses everything except her car and takes the little money she has left to move to a small town where no one will know her.
- In Maskerade, the witch Nanny Ogg writes a book and while not wanting to be treated like , er, royalty, ensures she gets a $5,000 advance for her book from a formerly reluctant publisher who has not encountered irritated witches before. Temporarily, this is the most money she has ever had at one time, but her friend Granny Weatherwax soon ensures it is spent well and responsibly... much to Nanny's irritation.
- Treasure Island:
- Ben Gunn (who is slightly bonkers) squandered his share of the treasure in three weeks.
- According to Long John, who got married and opened an inn, every other member of Flint's original crew did this. He gives advice to a new recruit on how not to.
- A minor example in Horatio Hornblower occurs at the end of Lieutenant and the beginning of Hotspur. Hornblower and Bush get a hundred pounds each in prize money for the Spanish privateer vessels but spend all of it on the dubious delights of Kingstown. Later, Hornblower wins quite a bit of cash (and more importantly, the respect of officers who can give him a new ship) at whist, but all of that goes for his ill-advised wedding to Maria and completing the Hotspur's commission. He doesn't attain true financial security until he gets a permanent stable salary as Colonel of Marinesnote and marries Lady Barbara Wellesley after Flying Colours.
- In one of Sholem Aleichem's Tevye the Dairyman stories titled "Tevye Blows a Small Fortune" (an example of In Which a Trope Is Described), — after having a run of luck, Tevye has earned some money and is in a position to better his family's circumstances. Then, he bumps into Menakhem-Mendl, a character from other Aleichem stories, who turns out to be a distant relative of Tevye's wife. Mendl is a schemer who works as a sort of stock broker and vastly overestimates his competence. However, he talks a good enough game to convince those even more ignorant than himself to invest with him (i.e. Tevye), and by the end of the story, Tevye has lost his investment and is back to being in a precarious financial position.
- Inverted in Brewster's Millions, in which Brewster has to quickly rid himself of a new fortune (in order to be able to claim an even larger one) and desperately tries to fritter it away as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, it turns out to be harder to waste a large fortune than he anticipated, and everything he tries leaves him with more than he started with.
- In a two part episode of The Bob Newhart Show, Orphan Dentist Dr Jerry Robinson spends a new found fortune to advertise looking for the parents who put him up for adoption.
- In The Twilight Zone episode "The Man in the Bottle", a genie grants a shop-keeper and his wife four wishes. One of those wishes is for a million dollars, but they end up with only $5 after giving large sums to their friends and paying taxes to the IRS. Despite the four wishes, the couple ends up in the exact same condition as they were at the beginning of the episode. The husband had wished to lead a country and not be in danger of being voted out of office, so the genie turned him into Adolf Hitler - about to commit suicide at the end of World War II. He used his last wish to undo this one, and he and his wife gained a new appreciation for their modest lifestyle.
- In the "Lotto Fever" episode of Cold Case, the victim wins 8 million dollars in the Pennsylvania Lottery. He spends his money foolishly (huge house, race car, go-karts for himself and his friends, etc) but he was still the nice guy everyone remembers, and gave money to his friends and family. Before he was killed by his sister and her husband he had enough money left to move back into his old apartment and was working at his old job again, but not before giving his last $100,000 to the one friend who didn't ask him for anything after he won. She received the money in the Medley Exit.
- One episode of Married... with Children has Jefferson finding out that a doll treasured by his wife, Marcy, is worth millions, so he gets a different doll, switches it with the one Marcy owns, and then sells her doll for the fortune without her knowing, while getting Al to pretend to be him on the night he does this in order to prevent Marcy from becoming suspicious, on the promise that Al would get his share upon Jefferson's return. The problem? Jefferson loses the entire fortune at a casino on the way back, meaning Al had just spent a night with a neighbor he abhorred... FOR NOTHING.
- While many of the drug deals arranged by the Trailer Park Boys are in fact successful and net a large amount of money, our heroes typically end up quickly spending it or losing it altogether. This means they have to come up with another drug deal in the next season.
- Spin City has an episode where Paul wins the jackpot on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. Ensuing episodes have him use the money to open a political-themed restaurant named "Wonk". Hilarity Ensues.
- Castle has the title character recall how he acted out this trope when, while he was still in college, his first book became a bestseller and he became rich overnight. He quickly spent his new fortune on expensive luxuries. Luckily for him his next book also sold really well and he learned to be smarter with his money by then. In the present Castle is portrayed as being quite rich but so practical with money that it does not really show. Castle reveals this during an episode that features a murder victim who won the lottery and then seemed to spend the money on extravagant things as well as giving money away to homeless people. Castle figures out that this was due to guilt over stealing the winning lottery ticket.
- On Parks and Recreation Jean-Ralphio gets a lot of money from what is implied to be a scam (he was hit by a Lexus and won the lawsuit), and he uses it to start Entertainment720. He hires Tom to help him and together they spend the money on extremely extravagant gimmicks, including hiring two professional basketball players to play one-on-one all day in their office, giving a free iPad to anyone who visits, and paying random women $100,000 a year with free medical benefits to do nothing more than sit at desks and look pretty. Though billed as an entertainment company, they initially have no source of revenue or a plan to get a source of revenue, and they go bankrupt in short order.
- Firefly. After the crew knocks over the Ariel hospital, they've got a small fortune in medical supplies. They get to enjoy their wealth for about half an episode before they end up spending most of it to spring Wash from Niska's torture room. The show was cancelled before they managed to fence the Lassiter they acquired in "Trash".
- An episode of The Facts of Life, wherein Jo's dad burns through $300K in a few days.
- In an episode of The Wonder Years, Paul Pfeiffer's dad takes a risky investment in an oceanfront deal which ends up paying off big, leaving Kevin's dad, who decided not to join in on the investment, jealous. It all goes south in the end when the oceanfront is lost underwater.
- Prof. Oglevee on The Parkers is told that he has inherited $10M from his uncle. He moves out of his apartment and into an expensive house in a gated community, passes out hundred dollar bills to everyone on campus, hires bodyguards to keep him away from Nikki (they let her pass because she made them pies), buys custom-made clothes and shoes, as well as two very expensive cars plus another one for his new girlfriend Paris. He also makes a lot of other expensive purchases. And this is all BEFORE he received one cent from his uncle's estate. In the end, the estate is hit for back taxes, leaving the Professor with an inheritance of ONLY ten dollars. Of course he's broke and homeless, and Nikki is more than happy to help him out.
- Season 2 of 2 Broke Girls lampshades the fact that even when you try to avert this trope, it can still play out straight. The girls get a large sum of money from their friend Sophie as a loan/investment and use it to finally start their cupcake store. They try to be very frugal with the money, don't spend any of it on personal items and even keep working as waitresses in the diner to pay for rent and food. However, they misjudged their market, their location is not ideal and they make a number of costly mistakes like not buying business insurance. Their business is losing money and they are only saved from bankruptcy because a developer offers to buy out their lease. They barely manage to pay off their debts and are back in the same place financially as they were in the beginning of the series.
- In Season 8 of The Office (US), the six dock workers won $950,000 in a collective lottery pool and quit, leaving the Scranton branch without anyone to load shipments. At the end of the season, two of Darryl's workers apply for their jobs back, saying they made a bad investment in an "energy drink for Asian homosexuals."
- In Nash Bridges episode "Patriots", Joe gets a side-job for insurance company to do some watchover over some arabian royal prince about to get a heart transplant. Having watched for two days how the said prince indulges in debauchery at the hotel and frequents shady bars, and pays with checks that bounce, Joe dismisses his one million dollar check of gratitude when all is over, going as far as shredding the check to prove his certainty to his SIU colleagues. Immediately, a call from the bank comes asking in what currency Joe would like to claim his money.
- Big Time Rush, the boys complain of not getting more money for their hard work which is being frozen in accounts until they reach 21. So Griffin gives them a challenge of giving each $20,000 and not spending it all within 48 hours. Naturally the boys flub it from the word "Go". James buys a snake in order to impress a girl which fails, Carlos hires an assistant and loses his money having to pay his fees, Logan throws away his money tipping people left and right and Kendall, who was trying to be responsible and invest it, accidentally buys a truckload of oranges. The boys just barely manage to get their money back through some last minute contrivances but do learn their lesson by the end of it.
- Cheers: In "What is Cliff Clavin?", Cliff goes on Jeopardy!, but despite a runaway lead of $22,000 (more than both his opponents combined), he loses when he wagers everything in Final Jeopardy and gets it incorrect. Norm, who accompanied Cliff along with Woody to the taping, foresaw this. Since this episode, Alex Trebek tends to warn players not to "pull a Clavin" (endanger a definite win) in FJ.
- This is the central premise of Ballers. Spencer is a former NFL star who tried to be careful with his money but still lost all of it when his crooked manager embezzled it. In the present Spencer works as financial manager trying to help other professional football players avoid his mistakes. One of his new clients is almost pathologically unable to not spend his money on frivolous luxuries and maintaining a massive posse of hanger-ons. He only starts to listen to Spencer when a Hookers and Blow situation threatens to derail his career and he realizes how broke he really is.
- In the pilot of Defiance Nolan wins a massive wad of scrip in Datak Tarr's underground fighting ring when he beats a Bio-man. However, Datak wasn't going to let him get away with knocking out his best enforcer and takes most of the winnings at gun point, leaving him only a small amount "for your troubles", which Nolan promptly spends at a brothel.
- All off-screen, but during one of Bones's season break time skips, Vincent Nigel-Murray (the squintern constantly spouting trivia) went on Jeopardy! and won a large sum of money, explaining why he was no longer working at the Jeffersonian. He returned shortly after. Not only had he spent all (or at least most) of the money, he's now in AA, as the lifestyle he was living was apparently more hedonistic than indulgent.
- Subverted in the Punky Brewster episode "Punky's Millions." As part of a contest to win a jackpot of money, Punky and Henry have to spend $1 million in one week. Henry comes down with chicken pox, so Punky's pals help her out.
Myths & Religion
- The Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of Luke. A kid asks his dad for his inheritance now (another way of saying "Why won't you just die?"), and takes it to a far country, where he blows it on wine women and song. Familiarity with the story has dulled the scandal of the father's running to meet the returning (destitute and penitent) son with forgiveness and a celebration.note
- About a billion Amos And Andy episodes involve Andy and/or Kingfish coming across money and then losing all of it by the end of the show.
- In the first scene of Peter Schickele's a capella opera Go for Broke, John Q. Public wins the lottery. In the next several scenes, "Taxes," "Charity," "Kin," and "Company at the Bar," he has to part with his winnings. There is a happy ending in the final scene.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: Cyrano received his parental bounty and used it all to pay the entrance fees of the Burgundy Theater at Act I Scene IV, so Cyrano has no money for the rest of the month. Le Bret lampshades Cyrano's folly, but Cyrano calls this "a graceful act".
Le Bret: [with the action of throwing a bag] How! The bag of crowns?...
Cyrano: Paternal bounty, in a day, thou'rt sped!
Le Bret: How live the next month?...
Cyrano: I have nothing left.
Le Bret: Folly!
Cyrano: But what a graceful action! Think!
- Adelle of Final Fantasy Tactics A2 uses this as her standard procedure whenever she gets something good—much to the chagrin of Luso and Cid when they try to get her to pay them what they would have gotten for the loot she stole. She's already spent every penny on gourmet food and fine clothes.
"It's policy. Why keep for tomorrow what I can spend today?"
- In the aptly-titled The Fool and His Money, a sequel to The Fool's Errand, the Fool loses all the treasures he earned in the previous game to pirates within the first five minutes and has to get them back. It should be noted that he never intended to keep the treasures for himself, however, and the main reason he spends the entire game working to get them back is that they need to be returned to their rightful owners.
- Implied and subverted in Forest Law's ending in Tekken Tag Tournament 2. After winning the tournament and getting the prize money. Paul and he intended to blow it all at Las Vegas (much to the anger of Forest's father, Marshall). However just as they're within the city limits, they see a family having lost their home to fire. They decide to give the money to them.
- Jared from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things gets an internship that gives him room and board, plus $500 a month... which he promptly spends on gummy bears and movie costume replicas. And a bubble trap for his Secret Base. And getting his stomach pumped after eating $500 worth of gummy bears at once.
- When Bob the washing machine robot in Atomic Laundromat angrily demands to know why he doesn't get a paycheck, David responds by saying he does, but it's being put directly into a savings account since Bob is horrible with money and spends it on ridiculous things, which the embarrassed Bob admits to forgetting.
- This potential employer from Not Always Working doesn't even know what these "savings" you're talking about are. Unsurprisingly, the applicant doesn't stick around.
- Plumbing the Death Star: One of the last two tropes mentioned in "Exploiting Television Tropes for Financial and Personal Gain" is the tendency for characters to strike oil in their backyard, find money on the bus, or find some other crazy method to get rich instantly. However, they conclude that if they followed the trope completely, they'd have to lose the money since these type of scenarios tend to involve a form of Friend or Idol Decision where they either must return the money to its rightful owner or keep it, wherein the character always chooses to return it out of moral obligation.
- Fry discovers he'd left some cash in a forgotten bank account, and the accrued interest has made him fabulously wealthy. When he buys a can of (extinct) anchovies Mom has her boys kidnap him to get his PIN (1077) so she can steal all his money and be forced to sell the anchovies (which hold the secret to producing a very cheap, but potent, robot oil). She gives up when she learns he doesn't know this, instead intending to eat the anchovies. Also fulfills the "worse off than before" part: When Fry and co. actually ''do' eat the anchovies, everyone except Fry immediately coughs them up, due to their disgusting taste. Everyone, that is, except Zoidberg. He suffers the opposite effect, since his species is implied to be the reason anchovies went extinct in the first place due to having a strong Horror Hunger for them. Before the episode cuts to black, Zoidberg aggressively yanks Fry toward him, screaming "MORE! MORE!"
- Another had the whole nation getting a tax three hundred dollar refund due to Zapp defeating a spider planet and bringing back the riches. The course of the episode sees all the cast wasting it in some form or another (Fry buying a hundred cups of coffee, Bender gets supplies to steal a rare cigar, Farnsworth a temporary stem cell procedure, Amy a talking tattoo, Hermes a walking pair of stilts to impress his son, etc.) save for Zoidberg who, for the first time in his life having more money then ever, tries to "live like a rich person". He gets shot down when his refund is revealed to be peanuts to the social elite. But a fire breaks out at the reception for the spider people's loot, costing Nixon, in addition to the tax break, millions. Zoidberg then spends his money on a small buffet, which he invites everyone to join.
- Fry and a sleazy stock trader maneuver Planet Express into being bought out by Mom's company, meaning the entire cast would become rich off their previously-worthless stock holdings. However, just as the deal is about to be finalized, the guy succumbs to a case of boneitis, and Fry blows the merger presentation, causing the stocks to rapidly crash back to their previous worth.
- Another time, Zoidberg lives richly for a short time by using the Robot Mafia's stolen money, only to lose it all in a Martian casino, due to his poor money managing skills.
Amy: See, this is why you never see a poor person with millions of dollars.
- What makes this more crazy is that he actually managed to triple his cash on a roulette table twice. Even when being told to walk away, he kept going. Naturally third time wasn't the charm. He actually takes it all in stride since he's so used to being broke, it didn't matter if he was rich or not.
- Kim Possible In the episode "Ron Millionaire," Ron gets a check for the current royalties he's owed for inventing the Naco. Ron never even spent all the money; his entire fortune is stolen from him by Dr. Drakken because... Ron kept it all in his cargo pants pockets (which should weigh a metric ton even if it was all in $100 bills). Drakken, after getting the money and dropping the trope name almost word for word, spends all of it on a laser cannon... which destroys itself.
- The episode of Rugrats where Chuckie's dad won ten million dollars in a sweepstakes, but lost it all when he made a bad investment (on Drew's advice).
- This happens to The Jetsons.
- George invents a new wonder product that brings in lots of cash. They lose it all, not so much because George was an idiot, but because his company's product goes under.
- In another episode, George won the lottery. However, a collapse of the economy of Venus caused the value of the prize to decrease considerably before he had a chance to convert it into dollars. When George was told he won, the prize was worth 7.5 million dollars. The collapse caused its worth to be practically nada.
- In another, George and Jane win a fortune at the racetrack thanks to some phlebotinum. They get chased by two guys in dark outfits -from the future tax agency.
- Ickis went through this on an episode of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters; the monsters' currency is toenails, so he struck it rich by stealing from an eccentric millionaire who saves his toenail clippings. Ickis gets greedy and is nearly caught by the human, who concludes it was all a dream... telling him to clean up his act. Meanwhile, Ickis ends up losing his stash of toenails on his way home.
- In an episode of Code Monkeys, the staff borrow against their IPOs and become very wealthy. When they leave their jobs, Gameavision stock plummets, bringing most of the staff to ruin. Except Dave, who invested his new money wisely, but ends up using it to bail out his former co-workers.
- One episode of SpongeBob SquarePants has SpongeBob and Patrick find a giant pearl, which they sell for ludicrous amounts of money. Somehow SpongeBob ends up with all of the money, buys a mansion, and gives the rest away to his house guests. Soon as they find out he has no money left, they leave and SpongeBob realizes he shouldn't have neglected Patrick because he had money.
- This is also pretty common in episodes that involve Mr. Krabs whenever he tries to gain money for himself through ill gotten means. Karma will instantly step in and depraved him of his money.
- Family Guy:
- Lois' aunt dies, leaving her a beautiful mansion in Newport, RI, along with a bit of money to get her started. Everything seems to be going well, until in a misguided attempt to fit in, Peter bids a ridiculous sum of money on a vase. To be able to pay for it, he sold the mansion, which was valuable enough because it was discovered it used to be a Presidential whorehouse. Peter even kept an old photo of Abe Lincoln to sale so he could buy back his old house (which he had sold to be able to pay for the mansion's hired help) for double the money he got when he sold it.
- The season 10 premiere plays this straight. The Griffins win $150M in the lottery. Peter being Peter, immediately quits his job, spends the money on outrageous items, treats his friends like crap, and becomes broke and homeless in a month's time. Everything is back to normal by the end of the episode. For double irony, the family, sitting homeless on the street, decides their only chance is to try to win the lottery again. Cut to the exact same scene with Lois saying she can't believe they won and lost all that money TWICE. It's never explained how anyone could be rendered completely destitute when many of those outrageous items were made of solid gold. The logical solution is to sell them for scrap gold.
- In the Animaniacs episode "Temporary Insanity", Yakko Warner tricks Plotz into signing a check worth zillions. As soon as Yakko shows it to his siblings, Plotz rips it out.
Yakko: We're rich!
[Plotz yanks the check away from Yakko and goes back to his office]
Yakko: ...We're poor!
- DuckTales: In one episode, a family that won the lottery moved into a mansion next to Scrooge. By the end of the episode, they spent so much money they had to move back to their old home.
- Woody Woodpecker:
- Woody falls victim to this trope when he inherits some money that Buzz Buzard decides to con out of him.
- However, it is Buzz's turn to fall into the trope in The New Woody Woodpecker Show. Buzz and Woody were on a Scavenger Hunt where incomplete proverbs were the clues to the items they had to find. They were tied when there was only one item left to be found and the clue was "A (space) and his money are soon parted". Claiming to have no idea of how to solve that clue, Woody proposed that he and Buzz shared the money prize. As Buzz was enjoying the money, Woody introduced Buzz to the game's host as the fool to be soon parted from the money.
- The Simpsons:
Principal Skinner: Well, Willie, I'm back. And how did you spend your summer?Groundskeeper Willie: I made millions in software, and then lost it at the track!
- In "Simpson and Delilah", Homer once bought a hair-growth product that actually worked and it eventually got him a promotion. Homer ignored Marge's advice about saving money for emergencies and it came back to bite him when Bart, while trying to use the product to grow himself a beard, accidentally spilled it out and Homer had no money to buy a new batch before becoming bald again and being demoted back to his old job.
- In another episode, Bart pretended to be kidnapped to avoid punishment for sneaking out. When Lisa found out the truth, Homer told her they should keep it a secret because he had already sold the story for a fortune he had already lost. While how he lost is anyone's guess, since we were never given a clue, we can be sure it was out of foolishness, since it's Homer we're talking about.
- One episode averts this. Homer wins the lottery, and since Status Quo Is God, the money is quickly spent. However, Homer didn't blow it on foolishness, but instead he spent the money doing nice things for his family. Though a bit twisted as he only did this because he hid the fact he won from his family because he bought the ticket when he should have been with Marge singing for a wedding. In the end it is revealed that Marge wouldn't have cared when she realized he won a million dollars.
- In "Trash of the Titans", Homer runs for the position of Springfield's Sanitation Commissioner, and after being elected, he ends up spending his entire year's budget in one month because he didn't realize how expensive his extravagant campaign promises would actually be.
- This exchange in "Homer's Barbershop Quartet";
- Early from Squidbillies fell into this trap the instant he had a legitimate lawsuit against Dan Haylen, letting himself be bought off with a settlement consisting of a few motorized chrome beer hats.
- Done in The Oblongs when Milo, Biff and Chip find some money in a car they all brought (Milo loan some money). Not surprising they spend it like crazy despite threats from the Mayor and city staff since it was bribe money meant for them. Subverted though as Milo doesn't act any different with his friends and it actully make the boys popular. But they lose it when Milo tosses a sparkler onto the remaining cash pile and burn it all up.
- An episode of Garfield and Friends has the titular fat cat winning the lottery after Jon tosses away his lottery ticket. The two and Odie get to live the high life until an interview reveals that Garfield was underage when he won, thus leading to the winnings being voided (despite Jon telling them that he was the one who bought the ticket) and the winner being declared as the interviewer himself.
- Wish Kid: Nick used his magic glove to wish his family was wealthy, causing them to win the lottery. As anyone familiar to the series' premise can attest without watching the episode, it was just a matter of time before the wish wore off and they lost the money. Then again, the way they were spending the money, they'd have squandered it all.
- In "Save the Tiger", Baloo saves Shere Khan's life, who now owes Baloo a debt. Baloo first asks for a few simple things, before being reminded that Shere Khan is one of the most wealthy and powerful men in the world. Baloo then buys back his plane, isolates most of his friends, and becomes bored with his new wealth and gifts. Eventually Baloo ends up irritating Khan with endless lists of demands; Khan secretly arranges for Baloo to be kidnapped and the ransom equals the amount from selling all the things that Baloo asked from Khan and Higher for Hire. By the end of the episode, Baloo's friends get him back, and Baloo's last request is for the status quo to return.
- In "The Balooest of the Blue Bloods", Baloo inherits a mansion and the butler and maid try to kill him so they can inherit it for themselves. The mansion gets repossessed at the end of the episode.
- In South Park, Cartman inherits one million dollars and decides to buy an amusement park for himself calling it "Cartmanland", but needs to allow visitors to keep the park maintained and running. This frustrates him so much, he decides to sell the park to its previous owners. He gets his money back, but the IRS took most of his fortune from unpaid taxes and penalties and the rest (more than what he had) for a lawsuit settlement resulting from Kenny's death on one of the rides.
- Batman: The Animated Series, "Joker's Millions". Rival gangster King Barlowe inexplicably leaves his entire fortune to the Joker, who's so strapped for cash he doesn't even question it. Only after he's bribed his way to freedom, hired a new Harley and outright thrown money into the streets does he find a video will revealing the catch - less than a tenth of what he inherited is real money. Everything else is counterfeit, and he can either face the Intimidating Revenue Service or admit to the world he's been had.
- Adventure Time - "Furniture & Meat". After practically hoarding their gold stash gotten from their adventures, Finn and Jake realize they can actually spend it and proceed to do so. Of course anyone who knows these characters know it won't take long to burn through it: they end up insulting Wildberry Princess who has them arrested, confiscates their gold, then melts it to have it poured over them as punishment. After they escape, their once huge pile is now barren. They don't mind, but the gold would have been pretty useful four episodes later when one of Jake's kids repossesses their house.
- In American Dad! episode "There Will be Bad Blood," Stan inherited 20 grand from his grandfather as a teenager while his half brother Rusty inherited land. Years later Rusty has made millions in mineral rights from the land, and when Rusty asked Stan what he did with the money he says he lost it, not in stocks or bonds he left it on it on the bus.
- In the Disney cartoon "Get Rich Quick", Goofy, as George Geef, seeks every opportunity to make a quick buck by gambling. Naturally, he is, more often than not, unsuccessful — until he goes to a poker game, where he finally does win big. Alas, when he returns home with his winnings, his scolding wife not only disapproves of his gambling addiction, but she promptly confiscates his winnings to use for herself, leaving a crushed Goofy to mutter, "Easy come, easy go..."
- The Tom and Jerry cartoon "Million Dollar Cat" has Tom inheriting $1 million under the provision that he harm no animals—even a mouse. This gives Jerry the chance to yank Tom's chain throughout the cartoon until the conclusion when Tom's camel complains of a broken back—he rips up the will and sets about thrashing Jerry, stopping long enough to say this to us (in Bill Hanna's voice):
Tom: Gee. I'm t'rowin' away a million dollars. BUT I'M HAPPY!!
- The Beetlejuice episode "A Ghoul and His Money" has the Ghost With The Most inheriting a healthy sum of money on the condition that he doesn't "juice" anybody (play a prank). He turns the other cheek when other denizens insult him, but when they insult Lydia... well, B.J. may kiss his money goodbye but it's a principle for which he stands up.
- A pair of Popeye instances, both from the Al Brodax era:
- One cartoon was a spoof of the 1950s drama The Millionaire, and had Popeye as the mysterious benefactor who gives out $1 million cashiers' checks to Olive, Wimpy, Swee' Pea and even Brutus. He goes out in his sailor suit to see how they had been spending the money (Wimpy buys a cattle farm but can't summon the heart to grind up an innocent cow into hamburger; Swee' Pea buys the mother of all-day suckers; and Olive is getting the mother of all makeovers). Brutus uses his million to buy up and bury all the spinach farms in the world, leaving Popeye with no spinach—except the green wad Brutus shoves in his mouth (we all know what happens next). At the end, Popeye says he's seen what money did to his friends so he gave his last million to the sailor's relief fund.
- Another had Wimpy the heir to a fortune. He is to be a referee at a prize fight in which Popeye is a participant. Wimpy bets every dollar he has on the opponent, and during the fight, his butler KOs Popeye out cold. Wimpy is counting Popeye out but, busrting into tears, he doesn't have the heart to double-cross his pal. He gives Popeye some spinach, Popeye knocks out his opponent, and Wimpy says goodbye to his money.
- Steven Universe:
- "Mr. Greg" begins with Greg Universe musing with his son Steven over how to spend his 10 million dollar royalty check from a song his former manager Marty had sold as a burger shack jingle without permission in the previous episode. The conclusion is that Greg is content with his life, so they resolve to spend it on a night on the town in nearby Empire City. Steven insists that they take Pearl, Steven's fellow Crystal Gem. Upon arrival, the beached dressed trio buy tailored tuxedos, fine dining, and a penthouse room, and proceed to dance the night away. Amongst their affluent spending, Pearl and Greg resolve a long standing interpersonal conflict. The next morning, a musical reprise has the characters questioning whether this was the best use of their new found fortune. Subverted in that he still has plenty of money left.
- Subverted with a later episode, where Greg rents a boat to take Steven and Lapis out on a fishing trip, but events lead to the ship being wrecked and Greg noting that he now has to pay for the ship in full. In this case, it has nothing to do with Greg himself; he's just unlucky. And again, he still has plenty of money left.
- In one episode of Kaeloo, Stumpy turns out to be a brilliant artist, and he decides to sell his art. Mr. Cat then comes up and tricks him into signing a contract that gives 95% of the profits to Mr. Cat. In the end, however, they never manage to sell any of the art.
- All Hail King Julien episode "Gimme Gimme Gimme: The Game" has King Julien try to establish a money-based economy based on just his experience with a Monopoly-like board game. Giving everyone an equal amount of money and then just leaving it at that turns out to be a terrible idea and it doesn't take long for everyone to be broke and all the money ending up in the hands of one person.
- BoJack Horseman has Todd get 8 million dollars in a settlement, only for him to immediately lose it during his celebratory dinner.
Todd: Oh crap! I accidentally tipped the waitress eight million dollars! Well, guess I'm broke again.
- All too common in real life. When poor or even middle-class people, after winning the lottery, gaining an inheritance or otherwise coming into a large sum of money, lose it all and are completely broke in a few years or even months. Unlike on TV, there is rarely, if ever, a Reset Button. It's especially common with people who never learned how to handle money, and who are so overwhelmed with the wealth that they feel like they can never spend it all. By the time they learn how wrong they are, they're often worse off than they were to start with.
- This sort of thing is so common that they even gave the condition a name: "sudden wealth syndrome". According to the TLC show "The Lottery Changed my Life," around 33% of lottery winners go bankrupt within 5 years.
- This also happens to children who may get a large (for them, at least) sum of money for something like a birthday, first communion, quincinera, Bar or Bat mitzvah, confirmation, Graduation, etc, or even if they get a summer job. Their parents may intentionally sit back and let their kid spend all the money, and then pipe in with An Aesop about money management. Zig-zagged in that a) The amount of money is pretty trivial compared to other examples of this trope b) Some parents step in ahead of time.
- And God forbid you let other people know about your sudden increase in wealth if you can actually stay anonymous. Lottery winners such as this poor fellow have been murdered in an attempt to steal their earnings. Savvy people will realize that having a sudden influx of wealth generally makes you a big target for the likes of con artists, beggars, phony debt collectors, and even murderers and kidnappers (to try and get ransom money). Ways to get around this include hiring security, moving to a secured location before securing the winnings, and having a trusted law firm claim the earnings for you (which would naturally mean a cut of the earnings going to them, but better than having the full amount and getting killed for it). Some people are desperate and even willing to kill for money.
- Professional athletes seem disproportionately susceptible to this trope, more so if the player came from a poor background - see ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary Broke for details, which opens by quoting a 2009 Sports Illustrated article stating that around 60% of NBA players are broke within five years of leaving the sport and 78% of NFL players are at least in "serious financial trouble" within two years. Usually the culprit is some combination of:
- Their unusual annual income structure (they only get paid during the 5-7 months out of the year their sport is in season - during the most recent 2011 NFL lockout stories circulated of players trying to get advances on their paychecks because otherwise they couldn't pay their own bills)
- Short career length (the average tenure of a pro athlete is only 3.5-6 years - most will be out of work by age 30) and failure to plan beyond it (because most of their income comes so early, their financial strategy needs to be different from other people - they should be planning as though they were 55-year-olds since their income is going to drop within a decade).
- If they grew up poor, they probably have never had to worry about paying income tax. Thus it can comes as a shock that their newfound wealth not only means they now have to pay, but puts them in a very high tax bracket where up to 50% of their earnings may be owed.
- Purchasing items of dubious utility (buying a new house is one thing, buying an eight-figure mansion with an eight-car garage is another)
- Their own fame becoming a liability (players' contracts are publicly listed so everyone, including unscrupulous agents, con artists and gold diggers, knows you're young, naive, and have tons of money. In addition, everyone tends to think that just because you're a pro athlete you make millions like the most famous ones when the majority of players' contracts aren't much higher than the league minimum.)
- The myriad number of injuries their bodies can accumulate (concussions, knee surgeries, etc.) that too often are only given the bare minimum of care needed to properly heal it (if even that - sports is a world where playing hurt is a virtue) because of the immense competitive pressure to return to the field (if you don't, you've just lost your job and the limelight). Oftentimes these injuries are ignored or downplayed at first since the players are still young and can still play through them, only showing up once retired - all this means very large medical expenses that the player has to pay for the rest of his life.
- Inability to turn down friends/family with handouts, whether for business opportunities that aren't economically sound or just "C'mon, you can spare an ol' pal a thousand!"
- The competitive mentality that leads to success on the field leads to a disastrous arms-race with their checkbook: They have to outspend the other guys right now; if a teammate has an expensive watch, they want one even more expensive. If he's got a Ferrari, you need to own two. Said competitiveness also makes them more likely to invest in high-risk ventures like real estate, or volatile stocks convinced they can win against the odds while at the same time ignoring "safe" investments as being below their profile. (A retirement fund with 3% annual returns is practical, but boring).
- Shaquille O'Neal, by his own admission, spent the first million dollars he ever made within half an hour. Once his NBA career was over, he went back to school and earned first a B.A., then his doctorate. Needless to say, he has much better control over his finances now.
- Michael Carroll, the self-proclaimed "king of the chavs", is a notorious example in Britain. A rubbish collector who won £9.7m in a lottery in 2002, he continued to have run-ins with the law (and, being well known for being rich and widely disliked, run-ins with the other side of the law), and spent his winnings like it grew on trees. By 2010, he had filed for bankruptcy and gone back to his old job, but has expressed no regrets about how he spent the lot.
- The documentary Reversal of Fortune involved giving a homeless man $100,000 in cash and seeing what he did with it. It was gone within 6 months, and indeed he wound up in even worse financial shape then he was before.
- Pirates were notorious for spending their fortune after a successful raid on booze and prostitutes in a matter of days. This can be justified as their lives were not quite safe. If you have got a lot of money but could die soon, it can be understood that they considered spending it immediately as a better option than risking never being able to use it.
- Even if a pirate was in a fiscally-responsible mood there were few things they could do with their plunder aside from blow it all at the nearest port. Few if any banks would deal with a known pirate (though they might deal with privateers) and many pirates operated in parts of the world where there were no banks to begin with. The best they could do with their gold was hide it somewhere, and only one pirate (Captain Kidd) was ever confirmed to have done that.
- German actor Klaus Kinski typically starred in a successful movie, then spent all his salary on partying with friends, expensive clothing and 5-star hotels (and drugs), resulting in him becoming broke after a short time. After he had to live in a run-down single-room apartment for a few weeks, he often resorted to phoning his old friend Werner Herzog once again to ask if he had any more film roles available. Rinse and repeat.
- Heather Mills reportedly burned through her £24.3 million divorce settlement from Paul McCartney in less than two years. She claimed to have given the bulk of the money to various charities, but that's still pretty impressive.