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Anime and Manga
- Tenchi Muyo! had an episode like this, also highlighting the fact most of the Pretty Freeloaders had no visible means of support. Further played around with in Tenchi Universe where Kiyone and Mihoshi have to work multiple part time jobs just to afford to stay on Earth, and later in the same series where the group is forced to open a bar in Kiyone's space cruiser just to raise money for fuel, all while on the run as the most wanted criminals in the universe.
- This may however be justifiable, given that all of the characters who come from off-Earth would possess mainly currency that Earth governments would not recognize. Kiyone and Mihoshi's Galaxy Police salaries, then, would be unspendable on Earth, while Tenchi's family would have only Japanese yen, not recognized in the rest of the galaxy.
- This happens in one episode of Tenchi in Tokyo, in which the girls head out to Tokyo with meager amounts of money to work there. By the end of the episode, it was Sasami who made the most money, thanks to a street act she performed with Ryo-Ohki.
- And further played with in the manga series, especially volume 9 of the first (specifically titled "The Quest for More Money"), where the cast explicitly sails off for a treasure hunt. Stow away those questions about your first true love, there's gold in them thar planets! (Note that it was Tenchi and the girls who were out of money. Tenchi's father was in no way broke, but he was out of town and they don't have access to his money. Tenchi, naturally, vetoed Washu's suggestion of hacking into the bank records and giving themselves money.)
- The volume ended with no actual money being acquired on the quest (in fact, they lost money in the process)...but then there's a final scene showing that Emperor Azusa sent Ayeka a container filled with gold bars. So many that Yosho says it would crash Earth's gold market if released into circulation.
- A series of yonkoma released in the "Sasami Stories" book had a storyline of Noboyuki going broke due to a lack of construction. The gang attempts different methods before Washu opts to just hack the bank account and toss money in.
- Cowboy Bebop's characters are frequently wanting for money and especially food, despite their occasional lucrative bounties. Faye was the worst offender, constantly rummaging the ship for the other character's stashes of food or valuables. She also had a habit of gambling away her bounties at the track as soon as she cashed them in.
- Almost every episode was a Broke Episode. What keeps this show from the definition of Perpetual Poverty was that they never seemed to have any shortages of bullets, cigarettes, or oxygen, commodities that must surely have been pricey for an interplanetary lifestyle.
- It's even mentioned in one episode by Spike that bounty hunting is a lousy way to live, since depending on the funds from hunting people down is no way to make a reliable living. Some weeks may be great, but other times there may be a dry spell of people to pick up and turn in. Not only that, but the show also showed that sometimes due to the high risk nature of their "business," sometimes the bounties didn't live long enough to BE cashed in. In addition, most of the time we just saw Spike and his crew go after the BIG bounties, the ones that would put them on easy street. When we did see Spike and his crew deal with minor criminals, the payday was quite modest.
- It's even mentioned in one episode that there are also "costs" to being a bounty hunter. paying off all the collateral damage done.
- To be precise, it was basically a rule of the show that the crew would never collect a significant bounty. Ever.
- Almost every episode was a Broke Episode. What keeps this show from the definition of Perpetual Poverty was that they never seemed to have any shortages of bullets, cigarettes, or oxygen, commodities that must surely have been pricey for an interplanetary lifestyle.
- Outlaw Star is almost as much about Broke Episodes as Cowboy Bebop. Like with Cowboy Bebop, most of the money is spent on the upkeep of their spaceship, such as docking fees, repairs and ammunition. It does not help that Gene's ego refuses to let him accept jobs unless they're suitably dramatic or high-paying enough.
- Hilariously enforced at the end of one episode that ended with them bringing home a treasure trove of Dragonite. Unfortunately is was low grade, and the money received from it was just enough to cover the cost of damages and other expenditures for their ship, leaving them right back where they started.
- One of the three major episode situations of Samurai Champloo, the Spiritual Successor to Cowboy Bebop. Usually the responsibility for getting money/food/other necessary items fell on Jin; Mugen and Fuu forced him to pawn his swords at least twice, and his glasses once.
- The Paper Sisters from Read or Die were frequently broke, especially in the manga. This is because they would spend all of their food money on books. If only there were some way to make money out of paper...
- Their powers over paper don't include being able to print things on it however. On the other hand if you've seen the OVA, there are interesting things done with actual paper money...
- Patlabor: Several episodes are dedicated to showing how the SVU2 manages during budget cuts, or simply due to the costly expenses of repairing and maintaining the Labors. The Next Generation takes this to its logical conclusion, by revealing that SVU1 was eventually disbanded, after the top brass of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department decided it was too costly to support both Labor divisions.
- Phantom Quest Corp.: In the fourth Incident File, the members of Phantom Quest end up having to take part-time jobs, just to get by, thanks to the Hadja stealing all of their clients.
- Honey and Clover could be called one big broke series for some of the characters. As is life for people at college.
- Love Hina: in episode 14, where everyone in the apartments has to provide 10,000 yen for bills. Also to a lesser degree in episode 6 where Shinobu and Motoko have to fund their 'rescue mission' by doing odd jobs.
- Strawberry Marshmallow has Nobue often seeking a job to make money for cigarettes, although she is hardly above stealing yen from her younger sister, blatantly.
- Trinity Blood: Abel, being the disorganized person that he normally is, never has enough money when he needs it.
- He states at least once during the series that this is because of a vow of poverty he took. He is not allowed to have more than a few coins at a time. He is after all a Catholic priest...though given that he's a field operative for the Vatican one would think he should have access to an expense account (which wouldn't be his money, but rather the Church's) to handle official business.
- The Get Backers are constantly broke to the point of showering in fountains and mooching food from vagrants. If they make an insane amount of money on a job, expect them to lose it all almost immediately. If they have a little left over, expect their car to get towed.
- Every episode of Nerima Daikon Brothers focuses on the efforts of the title trio to get some easy cash, usually by stealing it from some con artist or other crooked character. By the end of the episode, the money was gone, either lost to the winds or confiscated by the mark's original victims.
- While never exactly the theme of the episode, Slayers plots involving Lina and company doing some service for money were common. Given their eating habits which often amount to "two of everything on the menu, please" per meal, per person, Lina's mercenary nature regarding being paid for doing almost anything inconvenient to her is potentially explainable. A lampshade was hung on this in the third series, TRY, where despite the fact that the entire group has enough money for their meal, Filia is the only one with local currency, hence her tearful exit leaving them unable to pay for their meal. Further referenced later in the series when they're unable to pay for something and Filia notes that if they didn't eat so much, they'd have money. There is also a brief point where Lina orders an even more extravagant amount of food than normal and tells the restaurant to charge everything to Amelia, who is outraged at the rudeness of eating on another person's credit.
- In Grenadier, Rushuna and Yatchan are often broke and hungry, and in one episode resort to performing entertaining stunts in the street for money, with little success.
- Bleach manages some of the most amusing Lampshade Hanging and subversion of this. At one point two minor characters are shown taking jobs at a convenience store to get by, ducking the manager to rush out and assist the heroes in their battle. Later, several of the incredibly powerful cast manage to find reason to let their hair down and do things like join in a little kids' soccer game, bake cakes under the direction of an expert chef ghost, etc. Of course, The Lancer Renji Abarai, being a freeloader at the Urahara shop, is frequently pushed into helping with the menial tasks associated with such an establishment. (Ironically, despite being designated a "freeloader", it appears that for the duration of his stay Renji does more work than the actual employees.)
- The two sisters in Binbou Shimai Monogatari are usually broke or pretty nearly so, which forms the subject of a lot of episodes. In fact, the entire series can be described as a "Broke Series".
- The title actually translates to something close to: "story of impoverished sisters".
- Train's group in Black Cat never have enough money to pay for a halfway decent meal (mooching off of the waitress' kindness of giving them bread crusts). And if they do get millions from a particularly good sweep, Train uses it up on all the damages he causes or on the vast amount of food he eats.
- The entire plot of Yamada Tarou Monagatari (Yamada Tarou's Story) revolves around the titular character's sunny outlook on life despite abject poverty that forces him to work multiple part-time jobs to support his mother and many younger siblings. He's also incredibly smart and attends a prestigious school on a full scholarship, though he has to be convinced to pursue higher education despite his obvious talents because he worries what his family will do without him around.
- Makino Tsukushi in Hana Yori Dango often seems to be the only sane member of her family, and usually has to step in to solve her family's financial woes (often brought on by her nitwit father) by getting part-time jobs. She tells her family that she would gladly attend a school OTHER than the monumentally expensive Eitoku (which she loathes), but they refuse because it's so prestigious and makes them look good in addition to giving her greater opportunities for the future.
- Despite eventually dating the richest guy in Japan (Domyouji Tsukasa) and pal-ing around with his uber-rich clique (The Flower Four), Makino routinely refuses to request their financial support. This doesn't stop them from helping her out in a pinch, though.
- The fourth One Piece film Dead End Adventure is started by this Trope: the Straw Hats enter a race to win enough money to tide them over until their next adventure, which you'd think would come into play more often given Luffy's appetite.
- But it does- offscreen. When Luffy complains how the crew doesn't have much money when the White Berets' fines prove too much for them to afford with the little they have left, their immediate response is to show him the food bill. One might think that as pirates they could just plunder what they need, but...
- One Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple story has the Ryouzanpaku going bankrupt, and holding classes for children as a means of breaking even.
- The earliest chapters of Ah! My Goddess deal with this, namely in that Keichii's dorm doesn't allow women, but he's stuck with Belldandy and really can't afford to live anywhere else. The solution: having divine forces on your side helps. It's a slight subversion in that the protagonists don't get money (although Keichii eventually gets a good mechanic job much further into the series), but they do get good housing for free.
- Excel Saga is mainly a tremendously cartoonish parody of the financial crisis in Japan; as such, Excel and Hyatt are constantly and unequivocally broke and hungry most of the time. One of the Running Gags is that their pet, Menchi, is their emergency food rations for most of the series.
- The girls' neighbors Watanabe, Iwata and Sumiyoshi are broke for most of the beginning of the series. Usually Iwata and Sumiyoshi mooch off Watanabe, to much of the latter's chagrin. They later become civil servants and unwitting opponents to the girls' organization ACROSS.
- Poor Poor Lips has a broke arc when Ren's mother cuts her off from the family fortune, forcing her to close the jewelry store she runs as a hobby and move in with her impoverished former employee Nako.
- Frequently done in Ranma ½, since only Genma has a job (as a janitor). One anime episode starts with Saotomes, Tendos and Happosai having a breakfast of only rice, pickles and tea. Kasumi explains they are out of food and money and the next meal will be only rice and tea. Ranma and Akane spend the episode trying to get some money or food off their unwanted harems. It ends with only tea for supper and only water for the next meal. But lack of continuity saves them from starving to death.
- The Avengers, despite usually having Tony Stark's funds, once had to work for a millionaire to pay the bills. When they found the millionaire was dishonest, they refused to be paid by him. Curiously the millionaire was Cornelius Van Lunt in one of his earliest appearances. Cornelius would become better known as the super-villain Taurus, the de facto leader of the Zodiac Cartel (a criminal syndicate headed by 12 costumed super-villains). He was a relatively prominent and long-running villain from 1970 to 1988. Then he managed to piss Moon Knight and was Killed Off for Real.
- During the All-New, All-Different Avengers era, the team is forced to be based inside an abandoned Stark Hangar and ration out certain things like the Quinjet due to the fact that Stark was broke. The Avengers (2016) era fixes this by giving the remaining Avengers a new base inside Parker Industries' main headquarters (which is also the Baxter Building)
- Likewise, the Fantastic Four get most of their money from a) licensing and merchandise or b) Reed's patents. When either of these get negatively impacted by bad PR, lawsuits, massive destruction, or whatever other crap gets thrown at them this year, they usually have a huge scramble, since they pour all their money into scientific research and building interdimensional stardrives/soul jars made of pocket universes/robotic toasters, not to mention a ridiculous amount of defense mechanisms; and repossession, etc, of their junk is as catastrophic as any supervillain attack.
- The first issue with this plot is Fantastic Four vol 1 #9 (December, 1962). The leader of the team, Reed Richards, invested the team's money on the stock market and managed to loose everything. The team is forced to declare bankruptcy, and to liquidate their assets just to pay their creditors. They are broke and hopeless, until a mysterious benefactor offers them a lucrative job in his company. The new boss turns out to be their Arch-Enemy the Sub-Mariner, who claims to hold no grudge over past defeats. He actually places the team through many dangerous situations for his own amusement. After having his sadistic fun with them, Namor pays them a salary large enough to restore them to their relatively wealthy lifestyle. (The story establishes that Namor invested his wealth from Atlantis in buying companies and film studios in Los Angeles. He can afford to be generous. )
- A few Italian Uncle Scrooge stories suggests that Scrooge would be flat broke if the Beagle Boys, or some other cataclysm, successfully managed to deprive him of all of his cash money. For this to sound plausible, you have to ignore the fact that he'd still own thousands of shops, factories, and mines.
- Actually, he usually only claims of being broke when that happens, in order to guilt-trip Donald into helping him (and offering him some free meals). When his business doesn't go perfectly right (temporary decrase of 0.01% in profits, for example) he even claims he's going to become broke... in a few centuries time. It's more about his personality than about being broke at all.
- By the time of the Don Rosa comics, Scrooge's giant money bin filled with cash — the Beagle Boys' favorite target — contains only the money that Scrooge earned personally. While this makes significantly more sense, it does mean that in subsequent comic stories Scrooge's personal position is never really in any danger.
- One Golden Age Batman story had Bruce Wayne lose his fortune due to an embezzler and Batman and Robin attempting to continue their crimefighting career while struggling to do things like buy gas for the Batmobile.
- One early-ish issue of Gold Digger had the Diggers sisters finding out they were being hunted by the IRS, but with no cash on hand thanks to Gina's inventions, Brit's shopping addiction and coming back empty-handed from their last couple expeditions. Gina's rival Pennyn is convinced to loan Gina the money she needs, if she will cover Penny's niece's fast food job for a day. And wouldn't you know it, that's the day one of Gina's favorite professors stops by and mistakenly assumes she works there all the time. On the plus side, this gets Gina and Penny to finally bury the hatchet and become friends.
- Astérix and the Cauldron is a variant, with the "don't care about money" protagonists trying to recover stolen money in a Gaul broken by Julius Caesar's military expenditures.
- Conan the Barbarian: Several of them throughout the Marvel Comics series. As a thief, bandit, pirate, and mercenary, Conan earns his fair share of money, and some of his adventures leave him with treasure in his hands. He tends to spend most of his cash on booze, gambling, and women, so he ends up broke again and again. Also several of his adventures end in disaster and cost him whatever position of power and wealth he had earned before, leaving him at the bottom again.
- Played for Drama in "The Devourer of the Dead" (The Savage Sword of Conan #196, April, 1992). Following an entire Story Arc which took Conan to the Hyborian Age versions of China, Japan, and Australia, Conan is magically teleported back to the Barachan Isles to continue his life as a pirate. He has no friends and allies, no job, no home, and does not have a single coin to buy food and drink. The local barman refuses to sell him anything on credit. Sylvara, a young prostitute, buys him a drink and expects his sexual services in return. The episode changes in tone when a local pirate chief called Strombani hires Conan for his crew. It is quite clear that "Strom" (as Conan calls him) is a Bad Boss, but Conan has no other options.
- When the four return to C'hou in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, they quickly learn that Ringo's pouchful of money is now almost worthless, forcing them to start looking for jobs. And just when they develop a decent cushion of money, they get hit with an enormous fine, forcing them to spend a lot of time scrambling for more money.
- The 1989 mystery / comedy Second Sightnote starts with the staff of the eponymous detective agency — an ex-cop, a paranormal scientist and a crazy psychic — searching for a stolen statue in a museum. They do find the statue and the perpetrator, but the psychic accidentally breaks several other works of art. In the next scene they learn that the reward minus fines equaled several dollars, but the good news is: they were paid in cash. The team immediately spends the reward in the nearby diner. Being broke forces them to take the next case, which forms the bulk of the film.
- The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser story "Lean Times in Lankhmar", after a period of very little money the usually Heterosexual Life-Partners main characters get into and argument and go their separate ways. The Mouser ends up as a gangster’s goon and Fafhrd becomes an acolyte for a fairly unsuccessful religion, Isaac of the Jug. Their jobs soon become entangled when Fafhrd’s boisterous sermons attract new followers and The Mouser’s boss wants to extort the popular new faith, but also due to some sort of emotional breakdown ends up genuinely believing in the religion. This is probably one of the funniest stories in the series.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Arya Stark, who as the daughter of a powerful lord has never wanted for anything, becomes a street urchin, catching pigeons for food.
Live Action TV
- Game of Thrones: An arc played out in later seasons, where the War of the Five Kings has devastated the economy of Westeros and even the wealthy Lannisters are severely strapped for cash under the looming threat of the Iron Bank of Braavos.
- Because of the deliberately limited funds provided to the cast, just about every season of MTV's Road Rules had an episode where the team ran low on money.
- Firefly is essentially centered around this, both with the main arc involving the original crew of Serenity transporting passengers, and in most individual episodes, where the group pulls off various "jobs", legal or otherwise.
- Angel had main characters who ran a detective agency that was often short of cash. One episode, "Provider", saw Angel become particularly anxious about money now that he had a son to support; he began to take dubious actions in search of profit. It was making sure Connor was provided for for his future. It was shown that Angel did have some reserves of money to draw upon, and some favors that he could call in. But like all things, it's not a reliable source of income.
- The Goodies
- Seen in special "The Goodies and the Beanstalk" where the Goodies fall on hard times and are forced to sell their beloved bike for a can of baked beans.
- Brieftly at the start of Bunfight at the Ok Tearooms, and it turns out the reason for them being broke was because Graeme had spent all their money on gold prospecting equipment.
- The Young Ones, being students in Thatcher's Britain, never have much money, but in the episode "Cash" they're forced to burn all their furniture for heat.
- Played with on The Colbert Report. During the 2009 economic depression, the normally focused on opulence-related toys and stories segment "Colbert Platinum" was replaced with "Colbert Aluminum".
Stephen Colbert: "Remember, this segment is for Aluminum Members only. So if you haven't had a yacht repossessed in the last 3 months, change the channel."
- Malcolm in the Middle has these out the wazoo (starting with the episode in which Lois is fired from her job at the Lucky Aide drugstore after Dewey steals a bottle of cognac and Lois's boss calls her out on not fixing the mistake on her inventory). One even combines it with a Christmas Episode.
- The Middle, Spiritual Successor to Malcolm... has a ton of episodes focusing on trying to make ends meet. In one, Frankie buys a small container of skin cream that she thinks cost twenty dollars, but it turns to be two hundred. (She put it on her credit card and didn't realize.) She and Mike have to go to extraordinary lengths to earn back the money. Mike is frustrated throughout, and Frankie thinks it's at her, but really he's just angry that a mere two hundred dollars is enough to send them into a financial tailspin.
- A Different World has two episodes: Kimberly is offered a full scholarship but then finds out that the company sponsoring it still has connections to apartheid so she gives it up, forcing her to work three jobs to pay her tuition. Walter and Freddie find another scholarship for Kimberly and even though it's not the full one she turned down, it's enough for her to quit 2 of her jobs. In the other episode, Whitley's dad forces her to drastically reduce her spending habits, so she has to get a job and move in with Jalessa. When Whitley and Dwayne get married, they both live in Perpetual Poverty as she works a variety of low-paying jobs and he is a graduate assistant.
- It had an episode when Jeff was temporarily homeless thanks to losing his job.
- Annie was living in a crappy apartment and collecting tin cans to get extra cash because her mother kicked her out and refused to support her because of her drug addiction.
- An episode later in the series had the study group working off the massive debt Abed had amassed.
- The Steve Harvey Show finds newlyweds Cedric and Lovita on the good end of an $8000 bank error. Even though Lovita is uneasy about spending the money at first, she and Cedric have the requisite spending spree once he confirms with the bank that the money is theirs to keep. When Lovita's conscience won't allow her to enjoy their ill-gotten purchases, Cedric goes back to the bank and they do realize the error and takes the money back. Cedric and Lovita go back to their Perpetual Poverty status by the end of the episode and Lovita couldn't be happier.
- Considering that nearly all of of them were made during the Great Depression, quite a few Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy and Keystone Kops shorts, among countless other films produced during the era, began with the characters as downtrodden bums trying to make a buck.
- One episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide centers around the protagonists trying to earn enough money to be able to visit a concert. Hilarity Ensues.
- An Episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has Frank lose all his money and, by extension, the rest of the gang face being even more poverty. Cue the scams.
- Played with in The West Wing: many, many episodes are about the U.S. government not having enough money in the budget to pass the bills/provisions of bills the White House wants to pass (usually due to pork projects sponsored by self-interested members of congress), and the characters' attempts to jump through hoops to find some way to manage. These episodes differ from non-budget-related episodes in that the conflict is usually personal and character-based, rather than ideological and issue-based.
- In the Sesame Street Christmas Episode Elmo Saves Christmas, Elmo wishes for every day to be Christmas, and the whole town ends up out of work.
- Crippling poverty is stock-in-trade at the Bundy household on Married... with Children; some episodes focus heavier on it than others. A possible lowlight: The season six episode, "Psychic Avengers," in which an electric bill price hike leaves the Bundys too poor to buy a TV Guide.
- This makes sense for the first four seasons, during which they're all interns or residents. By the time JD is an attending, this seems less plausible. JD at least does have medical school student loans to pay off, which might eat up a lot of his income.
- In an episode, Turk becomes very concerned about money when Carla wants to quit her job. This despite the fact that he presumably makes significantly more than her nurse's salary, and their relatively modest lifestyle (small 2 bedroom apartment, 1 reasonable car) should be easy to maintain on the money he makes as a freaking surgeon.
- Elliot and JD are both homeless for a while. You know, with really no explanation of where all the money they make as doctors is going.
- As the title suggests, just about every episode of 2 Broke Girls is one of these, although "And the Rich People Problems" is an interesting inversion: Caroline and Max break into Caroline's old townhouse, which had been sealed off by the feds when her father's assets were all frozen, and are able to spend a few hours living wealthily.
- The Blackadder episode "Money" was basically Edmund up to his eyeballs in debt, pursued by a Loan Shark. Thankfully, he's able to blackmail the loan shark into not only calling off the debt, but also out of several thousand pounds extra.
- Often in Farscape since they're a group of perpetually hunted escaped prisoners.
- The Aquabats! Super Show!:
- Happens to the Aquabats on episode "Showtime!" as a result of the Commander spending all their money on limited edition collector plates he hoped to sell to their fans. Which they turn out not to have that many of.
- They had filmed the scene declaring their broke status at the beginning of the episode because the showrunners ran out of money to finish the season finale, so all the special effects in the episode were done either out-of-pocket, more cheaply than the usual cheapness, or by calling favors. Despite this, it still looks pretty amazing anyway.
- It was always in the background of Roseanne, who were always barely scraping by paycheck-to-paycheck. They were a working class family until the last season.
- In Spaced, Daisy has a constant battle against employment for the sake of her procrastination; Tim apparently makes barely enough from working in a Comic Book Store; it's a wonder how Brian makes a living, but it's clear that his housing problems are solved by performing sexual favors to their landlady Marsha; and last but not least, one wonders how Mike gets by at all before being re-enlisted into the Territorial Army.
- Sex and the City had an episode where Carrie lamented that she had $40,000 worth of shoes, but no money (to buy a flat).
- In the Psych episode "Cog Blocked", Shawn ends up even more desperate for money than usual after the police refuse to rehire him and Gus decides to quit his actual job. He briefly manages to get hired at a seedy Russian bar, but gets fired only hours later.
- Zoey 101: In "Logan Gets Cut Off" Logan's rich father cuts off his allowance and credit after Logan way overspends. He has a very hard time doing things for himself.
- One episode of My Name Is Earl shows Earl giving away his lottery winnings, leaving himself and Randy without any money. Neither has ever held a job, and Earl has given up stealing, leaving them very broke. The person he gave the money to gives it back, because (despite it being a relatively modest amount of money) it was corrupting him, and he literally came face-to-face with Karma's Bus.
- Later, after Earl is released from Prison, he winds up broke again because he lost his job at Wadt Appliances, can't get another job, and spent the last of his lotto money on a prom to help a fellow inmate. After spending time in a coma, he marries Billie, but she's the one supporting both of them with the money from her insurance settlement...and makes sure to remind Earl of this every time he reaches for a tissue. When she decides to join an Amish-like settlement on the outskirts of Camden, she divorces Earl and leaves him all her money, since she will no longer be needing it.
- Monk has a couple:
- The novel Mr. Monk Is Cleaned Out is about Monk getting laid off by the SFPD due to the recession and this keeping him from proving Ponzi schemer Bob Sebes guilty of three murders
- There have been multiple cases of episodes where Monk has been unable to pay his assistant. "Mr. Monk and the Billionaire Mugger" has Sharona get upset at Monk after her paycheck bounces. "Mr. Monk and the Genius" begins with Monk having another fight with Natalie over backpay he owes her.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 had an episode where Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank were audited by the Institute of Mad Science (according to Frank, over one of those "are you really mad?" things). They had to start packing up old invention exchanges with the help of new temp Mike. Nobody would've guessed what it lead to.
- Friends: One early episode focused on the differences in income among the group. They wanted to celebrate Monica's promotion and Ross's birthday, both some place nice. Turns out, Monica (a sous-chef in a fancy resaurant), Ross (works at a museum) and Chandler (a corporate job) have way more money than Joey (an unemployed actor), Phoebe (a freelancing masseuse) and Rachel (a waitress). Hilarity Ensues as the poor ones try to order the cheapest things on the menu, and the others being completely oblivious to their issue.
- An episode of Absolutely Fabulous had both of Edina's ex-husbands realize that she had been scamming them both for oodles of alimony and child support money, and they cut her off. Edina frets that she is now poor, and her attempts to adjust by doing normal things like grocery shopping result in hilarity. In the end it's subverted; her daughter Saffron reveals that she's still quite wealthy even without the money from her exes, and she merely let her think she was poor to teach her a lesson. It doesn't stick.
- A rather peculiar example in season nine of Supernatural when the angel Castiel is forcibly turned human. He has absolutely nothing except his clothes (and he has to steal new ones when his original outfit gets bloody), and is forced to rely on the kindness of strangers and homeless shelters to even be able to eat and keep up personal hygiene. He manages to make a few bucks doing odd jobs, and eventually starts working at a gas station, but is still homeless and secretly sleeps in the stockroom at night. The reason he's suddenly so disadvantaged is because as an angel, he never needed food or shelter before and so never concerned himself with money, leaving him completely broke and with few marketable skills. Being on the run from his family again also doesn't help.
- On Cabin Pressure, MJN Air and its employees suffer from Perpetual Poverty. However, the second series episode "Johannesburg" deserves special recognition because it centers around Douglas and Martin's increasingly desperate attempts to get together the money to pay for the damage they did to Douglas's ex-wife's property during Douglas's daughter's birthday party.
Role Playing Games
- In role playing games: there were so many Living Force events that began, "You are in a bar, looking at the posting board for work" that this player felt forced to abandon his Jedi character and instead play a mercenary scoundrel.
- Star Fox Adventures is this for the Star Fox team. The team hasn't collected any fees for a while, and thus the Great Fox is barely functional and they're down to one working Arwing. And even there, Fox has to scrounge fuel for after the initial flight down.
- Chapter Five of Code:Realize begins with the revelation that, thanks to their irresponsible spending, the heroes have burned through almost all of their money and are on the verge of not being able to afford food. They're thus obliged to look for a way to earn some quick cash, which kicks off the events of the chapter.
- While the character's lack of money is the whole motivation for the series, this really hits hard in episode 6 of Manwhores, forcing the apartment crew to ply their wares in a less than safe part of town part of town.
- In Stupid Mario Brothers The Interactive Adventure, it happened because Mario was too lazy to pay rent and gold coins aren't accepted as currency.
- The Boondocks Season 4 story arc is about Robert Freeman becoming bankrupt and indebted to a loan shark named Ed Wuncler II.
- Even the Richest Duck in the World can't buy his way out of this trope. One DuckTales (1987) episode, "Down and Out in Duckburg", had Scrooge McDuck lose all his possessions on a technicality, leaving him and his family to eke out a living on the streets. Scrooge even has a nightmare about a Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous parody covering his dire straits. Fortunately, Scrooge manages to get his assets back by the end of the episode by fulfilling the contract that had cost him his fortune.
- The Real Ghostbusters suffered from this. Thanks to things like Egon's experiments, the cost of maintaining their equipment and Slimer's food bill, the Ghostbusters often found themselves strapped for cash. Anytime they got a job with a potentially big pay off, they would get stiffed on the bill for some reason or another, as how it tends to happen with this trope.
- Catscratch has Waffle accidentally bankrupt the family by buying vases to get the included bubblewrap. They eventually return the vases with the receipts.
- The titular Zeta from The Zeta Project is a robot assassin capable of generating as much money as he needs- in one episode, this feature is disabled, leaving Zeta stranded in a transport hub.
- Without Offdensen around to protect them, Dethklok of Metalocalypse find themselves cut off from their money by the record company until they renegotiate their contract. And by renegotiate, they mean sign a very convoluted contract that blatantly favors the company. And to force the issue, Damien shuts down the concert until they do. Luckily, Offdensen pulls a Big Damn Heroes and comes back in time to stop them from signing it.
- The Biker Mice from Mars had one for the villains in the episode "Stone Broke". After another foiled scheme causes an explosion in the Plutarkians' resource pit, the High Chairman cuts off Limburger's funds, forcing him and his henchmen to move to a trailer park. They decide to get into the Chairman's good graces again by adding his face to Mount Rushmore and teleporting it to Plutark. Thanks to the protagonists' actions, only the Chairman's head is teleported away and this, combined with the fact that it landed on top of his mother in law pleases the chairman who starts funding them again. Unfortunately for Limburger, because his funds didn't return on time to honor the check he gave to the Villain of the Week, said villain destroyed Limburger Plaza in retaliation.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Lucius losing his entire fortune thanks to Beezy and being forced to room with Jimmy and get menial jobs.
- The Looney Tunes Show, "Peel of Fortune". Bugs gets his money from royalties from the carrot peeler he invented. But when Daffy steals Bugs' plans for an electric carrot peeler, the market for regular peelers dries up and Bugs ends up losing all his money. The Reset Button is pressed when the electric carrot peeler is recalled and Bugs invents a Time Machine to keep all this from happening.
- Adventures from the Book of Virtues: In "Integrity", Zach and Annie attempt to earn money by selling special homemade weathervanes to people, but they just sell them very fast because Annie cut the corners. Unfortunately, their customers didn't like the weathervanes, so they form an angry mob wanting their money back. This makes Zach and Annie retreat to Plato for help.
- In "Honesty" (1998), Annie attempts to have Zach pay her fifteen dollars when they paint Annie's mother's fence, but after they get done, Zach is irritated at Annie so he won't pay her.
- Mickey's Good Deed, a Depression-era cartoon, has Mickey Mouse as a poor street musician who doesn't get a cent from passersby, and lets a rich guy buy his beloved Pluto for his Spoiled Brat son so he can play Santa to a destitute family.Pluto escapes the kid's clutches and happily reunites with Mickey.
- My Dad the Rock Star episode "Going for Broke" featured the Zillas losing their wealth when a mistake from a member of the IRS caused it to be confiscated. They moved into Quincy's home, driving his father insane. It turned out Quincy's father was the responsible for the mistake. The Zillas got their money back and keep no hard feelings.
- Hey Arnold! had notorious rich girl and diva Rhonda Wellington-Lloyd's family go bankrupt, causing them to move into Arnold's boarding house and keeping it a secret.
- Family Guy had Carter gone broke from a lawsuit settlement from publishing Peter's erotic magazines and his wife divorced him. Unable to live as a regular person, he and Peter commit unsuccessful robberies. By the end of the episode, Barbara divorced Ted Turner and obtained half his assets and the Pewterschmidts are wealthy again.
- An episode of Doug had the rich girl Beebe's family go bankrupt from a bad investment on a foreign crop that got completely destroyed in a storm.
- The Beatles cartoon episode "Please Mr. Postman" had the boys penniless after Ringo blows all their money on rings and then he loses the rings shaking hands with fans. They have to find a way to contact Brian (Epstein) in London for more money.
- Kim Possible episode "Triple S" featured a con artist who scammed the Seniors out of their vast fortune. When said con artist was worried about retaliation from Senior, he offered $2 billion for Senior's capture. Junior claimed the money to buy back Senior Island.
- The Series Finale of As Told by Ginger features Mr. Gripling losing his fortune and being arrested for insider trading.
- The Venture Bros.:
- Dr. Venture is constantly trying to keep his father's legacy afloat; it's heavily implied that he has eaten most of the money and most of his efforts rely on embezzlement, industrial theft and rent from his tenant, Orpheus.
- Rusty's friends Pete White and Billy Quizboy are flat broke and live in a trailer outside the Venture compound. Whatever money they have is because of Billy, while Pete usually mooches from him; unbeknownst to Billy, Pete has been mooching from him as early as his Quizboy days, he is responsible for the loss of his arm and one of his eyes (it's so bad that Pete is considered a villain by the OSI), but the OSI erased his memory after their own disastrous involvement with him.
- Mr. Burns gets this in The Simpsons episode "The Old Man and the Lisa" after he discovers his stocks are all hopelessly out of date. Given that, as a rule, Status Quo Is God in Springfield, he works his way back up to a nine-figure net worth by the end of the episode by picking up recyclable litter.
- Happened to Tara in an episode of Beverly Hills Teens, when a long-lost relative claimed the family fortune. It turned out to be a scam in the end.
- The Legend of Korra featured an episode where the Fire Ferrets had lost most of their hard-earned winnings by paying their rent and equipment costs, and therefore couldn't supply the entry fee they needed to enter the pro-bending tournament as well as being in danger of being turned back to the streets. Mako attempts to earn money by getting a day job using his lightning-bending to power a grid at a power plant and Bolin also tries to get some by panhandling for coins while his fire ferret Pabu does tricks. They eventually get the money they need when Mako's new friend Asami convinces her father, the wealthy industrialist Hiroshi Sato, to sponsor them in the tournament.
- Archer Vice opens with the Feds raiding ISIS - it turns out that all those questionably-legal jobs the agency has taken over the years were, in fact, mostly illegal. The team is reduced to trying to figure out ways to sell a mountain of cocaine they had squirrelled away in their headquarters. Given how incompetent and/or insane the various members of the team are, Hilarity Ensues.
- One episode of Sabrina: The Animated Series featured Gem's family losing all their money, with Gem moving into Sabrina's house.
- Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: In "A Plain Shortage of Planes", after the Vulture Squadron's regular planes are destroyed during the team's first attempt to catch the pigeon, the General informs Dastardly there are no new planes available for them. The squadron's attempts to catch the pigeon for the rest of the episode include a plane bought from Bargain Bill's Used Plane Lot and whatever Klunk can build from the remaining parts of planes used in past attempts.
- In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Money", after Gumball's family lose their money, Larry tells that they can make money by doing a commercial for Joyful Burger, but Gumball refuses to sell out, which results in them losing their stuff, their house and eventually their animation quality.
- Kaeloo: The trope is Played for Laughs in Episode 138, where Stumpy is broke and needs to raise money to buy a comic book. Since he's just a kid, he doesn't need to worry about food or shelter.