Arbitrarily Large Bank Account
"I just threw away a brand-new top-of-the-line motorcycle in the middle of the street because I didn't feel like pushing it half a block to the garage. I am on an expense account that would blow your mind."An Arbitrarily Large Bank Account is simply described as hacking one's handy-dandy horn of plenty into one's pocketbook. Symptoms of this trope may include:
— Hiro Protagonist, Snow Crash
- Employees receiving blank checks
- Bribes being given in the form of blank checks.
- Debit cards that allow you to withdraw unprintable amounts of money.
- The ability to buy large properties on a whim.
- Maintaining large facilities without any visible income.
- And/or rebuilding expensive bases that seem to get blown up all the time.
- Sudden and unexplained bankruptcy for dramatic effect.
- Government spooks and/or tax auditors sniffing around when you withdraw unprintable amounts of money.
- The excessive purchase of useless tchotchkies.
- Starting insane DIY projects.
- And/or attempting to buy happiness.
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Anime and Manga
- In Men's Love, Daigo's father has his mooks give Kaoru a blank cheque, to be filled with any sum he likes so long as he ends his relationship with Daigo. He is apparently unaware that money can't buy you love.
- The Senpuuji Corporation from The Brave Express Might Gaine.
- The Sohma family in Fruits Basket have absurd amounts of money. Exactly how the money is spread amongst the incredibly large family is never made certain, but most of the Sohmas are able to afford very good schools, expensive vacation outings, and repeatedly replacing walls that get destroyed during fights. It's justified given that a number of family members own highly successful businesses, and that it's implied that there's some family fortune.
- Mimori Unyuu, granddaughter of the founder of the Unyuu Group has this in Sket Dance. Her house alone cost literally more money than there is money.
- Basically every host, sans Haruhi, has several of these in the Ouran High School Host Club.
- Tony Stark from Iron Man seems to have one of these. Most often seen when the battle to "save" a place demolishes it. Someone says "Iron Man will pay for it" and it's never heard about it again.
- Rich Enterprises of the Richie Rich comic books.
- Bruce Wayne can be this at times. At least he is rich enough that he can spend money like water on his superhero persona, donate millions to charity, and sometimes fund the entire Justice League while still maintaining a playboy lifestyle. He's also channeled millions (possibly billions) in technology from Wayne Enterprises, and still managed to hide the missing money in the margins.
- In the Young Justice comic, Robin arranges for a Batmobile to be shipped across the country. His teammates are amazed at this expenditure (the car and managing to transport it secretly). Robin replies that he hid the costs in "the Batarang budget." If the Batarang budget by itself is (at minimum) six figures, Batman is a really Rich Idiot with No Day Job.
- In Steelgrip Starkey and the All-Purpose Power Tool, Mr. Pilgrim, the mysterious president behind Star Key Enterprises, appears to have one of these. The employees are provided with a New York City apartment suite, a private jet,
costumesuniforms, and anything else they need without any concern for expenses. Justified because the entire effort is run by a group of Cosmic Entities who can use magic to provide whatever funds are needed.
- Scrooge McDuck, being the richest man/duck in the world, seems to have however much money he needs at any time, with the exception of the above-mentioned dramatic bankruptcy moments. He always gets it all back, of course. And yes, Scrooge has done plenty of the stuff on the list, especially insane DIY-projects, buying properties on a whim and giving blank checks (when he's not being a grouchy hoarder, as he usually is). Scrooge's fortune does sometimes get a specific value placed on it, but it's always so impossibly large than it might as well be written as "infinite". Indeed, one story revolved around Scrooge's fortune being so large that it would actually be physically impossible for him to spend it all because he owns everything. Except cane factories.
- Subverted in Nikolai Dante, during the "Gentleman Thief" storyline. Nikolai throws a party lasting several weeks that takes up an entire floor of Russia's most fancy and expensive resort believing he can simply pay for it out of the Romanovs' wealth. As it turns out, the Romanovs derive their wealth from taxes on the lands they control, and since Nikolai only governs Rudinshtein, the poorest fiefdom in the empire, he needs to get some more money fast.
- The Exiles used to have a "Magic Credit Card" which would trick the credit network's computers into believing it was authorized for any transaction.
- All-Star Superman: P.R.O.J.E.C.T.'s bank statement has an infinity symbol in the credit column.
- The Phantom has two treasure chambers: one with gold and stuff he doesn't mind parting with, and one with priceless historical artefacts like Alexander the Great's diamond chalice and the snake Cleopatra committed suicide with.
- In The Courageous Princess, when Mabelrose escapes the dragon's lair, she steals a Bag of Holding and tosses a good chunk of the horde into it. As she makes her way home, she is rewarding people who feed her dinner or give her other assistance with huge fist-sized gems and piles of gold. When she is captured by the evil king Irgerat, he puts his entire treasure vault in the bag. When she escapes and gets the bag back, she barricades doors and buries entire rooms in gold to confound the guards pursuing her.
- In Chapter 18 of Origin Story, entitled "Dragged Into the Harsh Light of Day", Alex and the members of The Runaways are inspired to strike back at Norman Osborne in a way that would truly hurt him: by robbing him. They steal an Os Corp shipping container from the Port of Los Angeles bonded holding facility, thinking they'd net a few million dollars. When it turns out that the shipping container contains over $10 billion (its not specified how much over... just that its over) they all have a bit of a freak-out. Alex and Louise's share of the take is never specified at any point in the story, but after the robbery they've gone from being homeless to staying in a $7000 a night hotel suite, driving a brand new BMW, and dressing in designer clothing. They later buy a house in the Florida Keys and don't even blink at the $3.5 million sale price.
Films — Animated
- In Atlantis The Lost Empire, Mr. Whitmore alone funds the entire Atlantis exploration mission, including a full crew of "the best of the best" and a ton of hi-tech submarines and drilling equipment. All to fulfill a promise made to Milo's grandfather!
Films — Live-Action
- Saito in Inception has one, justified given that he's head of the #2 energy conglomerate on Earth. When faced with the challenge of infiltrating a jetliner, he uses the expediting power of cash:
Arthur: But you'd have to buy out the entire cabin. And the first class flight crew.Saito: I bought the airline. [Everybody turns and stares at him. Saito looks uncomfortable under the stares.] It seemed neater.
- Played straight in Star Wars with The Empire. Can you imagine exactly how much it would cost to build not one but two moon-sized, hyperspace capable battle stations? Not to mention the 25,000 1.6 km long imperial star destroyers or the equipment of an unknown number of millions if not billions of stormtroopers. And those are just the most iconic parts of the imperial military...
- "That thing wasn't even fully paid off yet! Do you have any idea what this is going to do to my credit? [...] Oh, oh, ''just rebuild it?'' Really f***ing original! And who's going to give me a loan, jackhole? You? You got an ATM on your torso Lite-Brite?"
- Expanded Universe also reveals that much of the labor for the first Death Star came in the form of Wookiee slaves. Granted, Starkiller freed them, but it's not like the Empire couldn't get more.
- In Attack of the Clones, the Jedi are more perplexed that they did not sense the creation of the Clone Army through The Force, when the real question should have been how one Jedi Master (Sifo-Dyas) was supposedly able to just order up an entire clone army and a fleet of warships and weapons to go with them, without anybody noticing the movement of the huge amount of money doing so would require.
- Parodied in Small Soldiers: during the aftermath of the toys' rampage, Bill Mars keeps everyone quiet by having his secretary go around printing checks with unspecified amounts of money.
Stuart: Not even you have enough money to make up for all this...[gets check]...OK...I guess you do...
- He's implied to be a major military supplier, presumably with a government contract, if his company can afford to design AI chips and smart missiles.
- In Synecdoche, New York, Caden Cotard wins the MacArthur genius grant, giving him the funds to construct a to-scale and fully detailed theatre set of the entirety of New York ... including the warehouse containing the set.
- Crassus essentially fills this role of Julius Caesar in Conn Iggulden's Emperor novels, funding Caesar's legion and a good chunk of his consul campaign. Justified in that Crassus is the richest man in Rome, and is shown to be extremely careful with money.
- This drives a good deal of the plot in The Count of Monte Cristo. Edmond Dantes uses his enormous treasure horde to ludicrous purposes, including buying his own bank, and thereby forcing his enemy Danglars to extend him essentially unlimited credit, ultimately ruining him.
- Of the four men hunting Dracula, one is a wealthy rancher, one is a young nobleman, and a third unexpectedly inherits a fortune over the course of the novel. Concerns about expenses never come up during the course of the chase.
- The Dark Hunters are subject to this. Being paid in literally mountains of gold and jewels.
- Flinx of the Humanx Commonwealth universe has this perk after he assists the Ulru-Ujurrians in Orphan Star. After he gives them the gift of civilization, the innocent, yet exponentially intelligent aliens reward Flinx by building him a Cool Starship and pulling some trickery with Commonwealth banking records to give him effectively unlimited wealth. Being decidedly unostentatious by nature, he uses the cash mainly to bribe inconvenient authorities.
- Ender Wiggin by the time of Speaker for the Dead. A combination of a generous military pension, a superintelligent AI controlling his investments, and three thousand years of accumulated earnings have made his wealth effectively unlimited. When he needs to get somewhere without shuttle service, he buys a cargo ship for 90 billion dollars (which is apparently "not even a drop in the bucket"), and gives away the cargo. It's noteworthy that he leads a very simple life, and only cares how much money he has when he needs it to accomplish his mission.
- The Cullen family takes this to ridiculous levels, owing to Alice using her ability to predict the future to play the stock market successfully. Over the course of the series, they purchase a vast number of extremely expensive cars, a large house, an x-ray machine, and an island.
- In the outtakes for Twilight, Bella, Edward and Alice spend huge amounts in Las Vegas on the trip back from Arizona.
- In the New Moon outtakes, Edward keeps sending Bella large amounts of money (which she refuses to accept) while he is supposed to be gone.
- In The Merchant of Venice, Portia has an inheritance like this. While the rest of the cast is falling over themselves trying to pay back Antonio's bond to Shylock, when Bassanio tells Portia about the bond, her reaction is "Six thousand ducats? Is that all? Here, give Antonio the money. No, have twice as much. You know what? Just to be on the safe side, let's triple it."
- In Robert Asprin's Phule's Company series, the main character hands someone a credit card, and it is noted that that particular 'level' (gold, silver, platinum, etc) of credit card is usually used for the purchase of entire corporations.
- In Sergey Lukyanenko's New Watch, Anton finds out that his Watch-issued ATM card doesn't appear to have a limit (or rather, the ATM doesn't report the limit, as the card was issued by a foreign bank). When he confronts Geser about it, Geser calmly explains that, being able to predict stock market trends and currency exchange rates means that the Watch is never short on money. Apparently, all Watch employees can take out as much money as they want, but it's not in the nature of the Light Others to be greedy. When Geser asks Anton if Anton would like to get himself a Bentley, Anton just says that his car works just fine. Besides, an expensive car would just invite curses from everyone around him. Anton does say that he wants to take his wife and daughter to a tropical vacation. Geser just shrugs indifferently.
- Interestingly, in Day Watch, Anton grimly notes how a Dark Other is able to fly first class while Anton can only afford to fly economy and muses that the Day Watch can get plenty of money using dishonest means while the Night Watch is limited by its honesty. Then again, what's so dishonest about being able to predict the future with great accuracy and using it to get funds for the Light? After all, there's nothing illegal about being good at predicting.
- In The Dresden Files, Lara and Thomas Raith, along with the rest of their family, have this. How much? Well, for one, they own the pornography industry. All of it.
Thomas: ... Once they ring up the first charge on the card, it'll be good for twenty-four hours.Molly: For how much?Thomas: Twenty-four hours.
- At one point, Harry tells Thomas to give Molly a Raith emergency charge card.
- Early in the Left Behind series, fully appointed Antichrist Nicolae Carpathia inherits the resources of a multibillionaire he personally killed, thereby acquiring the money to get up to all the villainy he wants. He subsequently issues his inner circle (like Designated Hero Buck Williams) unlimited-funds expense accounts. Global tyranny is useful like that.
- In E. E. Smith's Lensman series, Unattached (Gray) Lensmen turn over their bank accounts to the Patrol, and receive in return a book of 100 checks, "any one of those slips would be honored without hesitation or question for any amount of cash money she pleased to draw; for any object or thing she chose to buy. Anything - absolutely anything - from a pair of half-credit stockings up to and beyond a hundred-million credit space-ship. ANYTHING!".
- And when that book runs out you can just get another one for the asking.
- Given the immense capabilities of any Patrol spaceship, either a hundred million credits is absurdly cheap or the half-credit stockings are absurdly expensive...
- In Margin Play, by Eric Plume, Amber insists on a large expense account as part of the contract with Hayes. He gives her a credit card in the name of the Davis-Caillion Corporation. When she asks what the credit limit on it is, he rather smugly informs her that she "couldn't max it out if she tried."
- The Nano Flower by Peter F. Hamilton. Billionaire Julia Evans gives psychic private investigator Greg Mandell access to a huge expense account while he's investigating whether Evan's missing husband has discovered alien life, given the vast economic implications of First Contact. Mandel reflects that if his mercenary partner got her hands on that money, even though he trusts her with his life it would be a goodbye that would last till the end of time.
Live Action TV
- In Torchwood, it seems that Torchwood has an unlimited bank account, and it is mentioned several times through the series how each of the members have had a significant pay increase over their old jobs. It seems that they all have rather nice places, and large amounts of spare cash since starting with Torchwood.
Gwen: We get our paychecks straight from The Crown, when I got my first I couldn't believe it - I had to hide the extra money from my boyfriend.
- The Doctor gives unlimited credit to a companion in the Doctor Who episode "The Long Game". He's told to keep out of trouble. Yeah, right.
- The Expanded Universe implies that the Doctor is insanely wealthy thanks to compound interest, and that he has to make intentionally bad investments just to burn off some of the money.
- Both averted and played straight in Sanctuary. When the newbie to the team asks if there is a health plan, and Amanda Tapping's character says no. (Granted, the organisation is headed by probably the best doctor in the world with medical contacts in every corner of the globe, so it's entirely possible their health plan is simply "Dr Helen Magnus". Also, the Sanctuary has enough resources to purchase a lot of new medical equipment, and pay the taxes and upkeep costs for a castle. Given that they always get help for any injuries or illnesses that occur, possibly they don't have a designed health plan because they'd have to write "Covers anything. Like, anything at all that could or could not happen to anyone, human or otherwise."
- This is a critical component of the season 4 episode "Untouchables", when the United Nations Security Council attache tries to blackmail Helen into stepping down from her position and turning the sanctuary over to UN control by threatening to cut off her funds. She promptly tells him to take a flying leap, then reveals that she has money "hidden in places [the attache] doesn't even know exist" and that she manipulated him into cutting them off for good so the Sanctuary could do its job independent of any kind of bureaucratic oversight. Whew!
- The Addams Family:
- No matter what zany, impossible, or downright idiotic scheme Gomez invests in, he always comes out willing to invest in the next ridiculous idea. Whether or not he actually makes money from these investments is questionable. The Addamses are rich/crazy enough that one year they decided to go to the moon for their family vacation.
- In The Movie, there's a fleeting glimpse of just how much wealth they have. Gordon accidentally activates a rotating section of the vault to reveal a Scrooge McDuck-caliber money pit, about as wide as an Olympic swimming pool, several swimming pools long, and who knows how deep. And it's most likely filled with gold doubloons, as evidenced by Gomez paying Tully's expenses by shovelling them into his briefcase. For comparison, all the gold ever mined throughout human history in real life wouldn't quite fill a single Olympic swimming pool. Also, consider the construction cost of the vault plus the subterranean canal leading up to it plus the slide system leading down to the canal.
- Whether it was intentional or not, Mulder of The X-Files comes off this way. It's implied that he comes from a wealthy family, though never explicity said so. He grew up on Martha's Vineyard, his parents owned a summer house in Rhode Island, he went to Oxford for college, and "rents" a Congressman for his own purposes. Through the series, he's able to do things that are just not feasible on an FBI agent's salary—like travel to Antarctica and rent a Snow Cat. He is also nonplussed every time he is fired from the bureau, saying he would simply continue his work in the paranormal without their help. He is also able to go into hiding during the final season, and concern for money is never shown.
- Charlie Crews on Life received a settlement of undisclosed size due to his wrongful imprisonment. In addition to the standard Big Fancy House and Cool Cars, he uses it to buy things like orange groves (on a whim) and solar farms (after having a dream about it).
- Mr. Finch on Person of Interest. Nobody knows precisely how rich he is beyond his billionaire status being known, but it does appear that he has a whopping great amount of money at his disposal. He is known to gain access into buildings by buying the entire building.
- Done, more or less, in Mad Men, albeit probably unintentionally. We actually know how much Don Draper makes at the beginning of the series ($30,000; that much in 1960 dollars is worth a little under $250,000 in today's money). We don't know his later income (which includes a junior partnership stake in Sterling Cooper—which gave him a lot of money—and later a senior partnership stake in SCDP—which made losses in 1964 but which began to turn a profit in 1965-66), and most importantly for this trope, we also don't know how much he has in assets. All we know about how much money Don has is this: he can throw money at any problem (sometimes this is a problem); he can write a check for a Jaguar E-type without on a whim; and, most impressively, he was able to loan $25,000 to Pete Campbell when the bank demands more collateral, and would've been willing to loan $50,000 to Lane if he'd known about Lane's money problems. Since Don also put up $50,000, had Lane not been too proud to ask for the money, Don has shown that he has enough money that he is willing to bankroll SCDP to the tune of $125,000—nearly a million in today's dollars—almost without thinking.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: Mr Banker in the "Pantomime Horses" sketch has a graph that reads "How Rich I Am." The bar goes up off the graph.
- Richard Castle, on Castle is known to be wealthy (he's an author with over 20 New York Times Best-Sellers, so yeah), but its often implied in the show that not only is he wealthy, he's very wealthy. Wealthy enough that he really doesn't have to worry about ever over-spending, regardless of what he's buying.
- In a real life example, Ted Turner was such a huge fan of wrestling, he essentially handed WCW a blank check, and vowed to keep it alive as long as he was able. Unfortunately, not having anybody to report to left WCW grossly mismanaged. Several WCW vets remembered getting empty boxes Fed-Exed to their homes, and being mailed checks made out for $0.00. They also had dozens of people on the payroll that never did anything (and many of whom they forgot were under contract.) Of course, this hemorrhaging of money is what led WCW to crash and burn in 2001.
- Early in Leisure Suit Larry 2, Larry wins the lottery, meaning he'll get one million dollars per year for the rest of his life. He initially receives a one million dollar bill. It's useless until you can get it broken down into bill form, but after that you have effectively infinite money. Of course, by the end of the game, you'll have spent most of it on junk, lost the remainder, and the lottery went bankrupt.
- Auric Goldfinger, in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. GoldenEye actually gets to take advantage of this in the Underwater Base, when he buys a minisub as part of his escape route. Despite his extreme wealth, Goldfinger admonishes his pawn: "Stop spending my money!"
- In the Idle Game Ad Venture Capitalist, you eventually earn ridiculous amounts of money and learn about new terms like "novemvigintillion."
- Petey the Fleetmind from Schlock Mercenary has a team of accountants whose job it is to count the accountants who keep track of his accountants.
- The Whiteboard: When asked how exactly Doc pays for the frequent shop rebuildings and massive amounts of damage done by his projects, the only answer he's ever given is "DARPA". Later he's shown to have several roomfuls of money. However, if this non-canon filler◊ is to be believed, those are 1-dollar bills.
- The SCP Foundation averts this and and plays it straight. It's heavily implied they have a steady stream of cash thanks to several SCPs (and thus, can build things like moon bases or secret military-grade bases), but wasting resources is frowned upon, and the Foundation tries to be as utilitarian and cheap as possible when dealing with containment in the name of not wasting cash. Several doctors have been reprimanded for wasting said money. Maybe even demoted to D-Class.
- KaibaCorp is this trope played straight in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. Seto Kaiba has no trouble at all supplying himself with helicopters, planes that look like dragons, underground computer systems, and at one point he just buys his own Duel Monsters tournament. Why does he do all that? Because he's "obscenely rich". No wonder he's the Trope Namer for Screw the Rules, I Have Money!.
- Played straight in the Brave New World Universe with The Benefactor, who always seems to have money to build his armies of death robots, and pay to have them shipped across the country. At least one of his secret manufaturing plants has been destroyed, only to have Arachnya, Seeker, and Guardian find that there are plenty more where it came from.
- The Jokernote also seems to have unlimited funds to pay his goons whatever exorbitant paycheck they have to keep them working for a lunatic. When it is revealed that he is behind HARP's massive military operation in Pine Ridge, one has to wonder where his money is coming from. Also, how he got ahold of military grade weapons and equipment.
- An aversion shows up in Noob. Gaea is an obvious case of The Scrooge and her way of pulling I Am Not Left-Handed is not hesitating to use the expensive and powerful items she owns if it's the only way for her to win a fight. However, in Season 5 by which she has been hoarding in-game currency for four years, she mentions that she's "saving up" to Ivy. Ivy reply can be praphrased as "What are saving up for ? You should be able to afford anything you want by now." It happens that Gaea needs to pay a debt owed by her Instant Fan Club at the time, but the point about Gaea's wealth is still valid.
- The Zeta Project had Zeta's unlimited credit card, which creates as much money as he needs at the time. Ro takes full advantage of this, then immediately tells Zeta to not tell anyone else because people might abuse it.
- Kim Possible:
- Usually when Dr. Drakken meets Kim, it ends with his lair being destroyed, but he never has any trouble having it repaired or using another. In the episode "Ron Millionaire" he bemoans his money trouble, just as Kim's sidekick Ron receives an implausibly large royalty check.
- In "Ron Millionaire", Ron treats his windfall as a an ALBL, even though there's a fixed amount on that check.
- Seņor Senior Senior is so rich that he was able to convert his mansion into a supervillain lair, complete with Spinny Tops of Doom and other requisite implements of destruction, on a whim. Not that it needed a lot of refurbishing to begin with, as Ron Stoppable was so eager to point out how much the mansion was already like a lair, and even gave SSS the idea of becoming a villain.
- No mention is ever made of how Phineas and Ferb can pay for their insanely ambitious projects; presumably, they can find a fix for that just as easily as they can build a ski resort in the backyard. Doofenshmirtz never seems short of funds for his evil plans either; it's mentioned he gets alimony from his ex-wife and presumably his corporation makes money for him too.
- Fry on Futurama discovers he has one of these at one point due to the power of a thousand years of compound interest. Of course, he spends it all on near-extinct ''anchovies'' by the end of the episode. It's unlikely that the interest would have kept pace with inflation. Ignoring that, Fry's bank account is large, but it's clearly not enough to be on par with, say, Mom's.
- This seems to be the case for just about any character or organisation in Totally Spies!. Even highschool students have no problem building large robots or a whole replica of the school enclosed in a force field. In comparison, the girls ability to do insane amounts of shopping on a daily basis seems quite reasonable.
- Augustus Saint Cloud of The Venture Bros. possesses "an inordinate amount of money." While he is technically a supervillain, he mostly uses it to buy props from movies. And the occasional island. And all without giving a second thought about the price tag.
- In the Two Stupid Dogs episode "A Quarter," the dogs attend a money-making seminar (all part of a ridiculous method of obtaining a quarter to make a phone call) conducted by an über-wealthy grinning figure named Buck Biggs, who has written two books—"Give Me Money" and "Give Me More Money."
- In Dexter's Laboratory, the titular character seems to have no problem acquiring what is ostensibly **millions** of dollars in scientific equipment, and his parents are none the wiser.
- It was an embarrassment for the NFL when a study showed upwards of 40 percent of multi-millionaire players go bankrupt within 5 years after retiring. They did not know how to manage their money and just assumed it was more money than they could spend. It's particularly unfortunate given that sports leagues want to recruit successful high school and college students, which is a hard sell when those students buy into the stereotype that professional athletes are stupid meatheads who don't know how to do anything else.
- William Randolph Hearst was a media mogul in the first half of the 20th century whose fortune was almost impossible to calculate, he was the unofficial model that Citizen Kane was based on. Even the most wealthy men of the modern world would only amount to a fraction of what he had. He owned enough land by himself that he could almost qualify as his own state and would frequently buy exotic animals for his private zoo and so much art that most of it would stay in boxes. He never had to worry about not having enough money. But this trope was subverted when his newspaper monopoly started to crumble and new taxes decimated fortune in short order.
- According to The Disaster Artist, Tommy Wiseau's bank account was described as a "bottomless pit" by a bank teller.