This is a character who hooks up with a partner, known as a Meal Ticket, specifically to mooch off of said partner's money and status in exchange of sex and valorization. In other words, she's a stay-at-home wife who is okay with her husband being the breadwinner but she doesn't run the household, doesn't do the chores, doesn't cook, doesn't pursue education, doesn't look after the kids and usually has no intention of having any (unless it's needed to keep the Meal Ticket). She mostly loves socializing, throwing lavish parties and shopping.
We use "she" because the digger is usually female in modern shows, but not always, and often MUCH more attractive than her partner. Often Distracted by the Luxury quite easily. Generally stunningly beautiful, to explain her success. Often a blondewhose hair is dyed. The Gold Digger who is deluding herself about her looks is a rarity.
Many a Gold Digger would be happy to marry a man who is old or in bad health, just so long as he'd be so kind as to leave at least some of his inheritance to his spouse when he dies; if she's a Black Widow that could happen much sooner than expected.
A common subversion is to have her turn out to a Hooker with a Heart of Gold after all. Another way that works play with this is to have a rich man pretending to be poor, so as to ensure that any woman he becomes involved with loves him for himself and not his money. Yet another way to play with it is to have her genuinely fall in love with her meal ticket
In historical eras, male "fortune hunters" were much more common, owing to the bride's lack of say in the matter. This was particularly common in Victorian Britain, when many Peers found that their old way of life had become insufficient to support their way of life (particularly their country estates): their primary source of income had been agriculture, but the main crop (grain) could be far more cheaply grown in the United States, Canada, Russia, and (later) Australia, so the aristocrats (after trying and failing to fix their problem with protectionism) were priced out of the market and started losing income. As a result, many young British nobles married the daughters of self-made industrialists and merchants (who had previously been seen as too low-class for the upper crust to marry), particularly American ones.For instance Lord Randolph Churchill marrying Jennie Jerome, the daughter of a New York banker—their name should sound familiar, as they're Winston's parents.The Other Wiki even has a list.
Another male variant exists in the Japanese Visual Kei subculture: Visual Kei artists, especially lifestylers or current or ex-Delinquents, are almost unemployable outside of their own industry in a culture dependent on conformity as a requisite of traditional employment. As a result, quite a few indies, beginning, or unsuccessful artists will work in a Host Club and/or seek out a mitsukano or ''mitsukare'' ("honey woman" or "honey man") to provide for them on a financial level.
This is Older Than Steam. Compare Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor. See also Trophy Wife, although the two don't always overlap. Sometimes overlaps with Coattail Riding Relative. For the opposite type of character, who definitely does not want the rich beau's money, see Not with Them for the Money. Contrast Marry for Love.
The idea that all women are gold diggers is the Distaff Counterpart to the idea that All Men Are Perverts. This may also overlap with All Women Are Prudes, resulting in the idea that the only reason women ever have sex is to gain access to a man's money and/or get men to buy them things, while the only reason men even bother to make money in the first place is so that they can have sex with lots of hot women.
Important Note: A Gold Digger is never a Housewife. While both of them stay home, the Gold Digger has expensive tastes and refuses dirty her hands. Children and family are almost never part of her priorities, mostly because they would distract her from her life of luxury. The Housewife on the other hand, even though she may live off her husband's paycheck, will concern herself with running the home and raising the kids, money and luxury usually not being in her repertoire other than as byproducts. However, a golddigger MIGHT turn into a housewife given proper character development but it's rare.
For the comic book series, see Gold Digger.
Itazura Na Kiss - Marina Shinagawa. The only reason she went to nursing school was so that she could find a rich doctor to marry.
Higurashi - Rina Mamiya, so very much. She and her pimp Teppei Hojou plan to scam Mr. Ryuugu (Rena's father) for a large quantity of money, apparently up to at least one million yen. It never goes well for her, since Rena is so determined to protect herself and her father that she bloodily kills her more than once.
Eva Heinemann of Monster before she went completely into her cups. In a subversion she's extremely wealthy and genuinely wants companionship from Tenma. The only reason she goes after rich guy is because poor people are beneath her.
Subverted in Hana Yori Dango. One of the reasons why Tsukushi Makino attends the very elite Eitoku Academy school is her parents's wish to have her marrying a rich guy who'll pull them out of their Perpetual Poverty. Tsukushi, however, is a TsunderePlucky Girl who will have none of it, engaging into Slap-Slap-Kiss dynamics with the male lead Tsukasa.
Berserk - Griffith's courtship of princess Charlotte is solely so that he'll gain a kingdom by marrying her. It ultimately works.
Fruits Basket - Kimi Toudou. Possibly one of the few good-natured examples of this trope, as she uses her wiles to 'earn' the Student Council needed supplies and perks (in addition to gifts for herself).
Fujiko Mine from Lupin III is always acting like this around her boy of the week. Often she's trying to wile out of them the same treasure that Lupin is trying to steal. She often pulls this on Lupin himself to boot, and most of the time he lets her get away with it, saying that betrayal is a privilege reserved for women. A couple of times though he's had enough of her and left her in the dust for Inspector Zenigata.
Pokémon - Iris's Emolga. She uses Attract to make Pokemon fall in love with her, then takes their apples for herself. Ash's Oshawott already has a crush on her without Attract, so she easily manipulates him and pretty much many of the other male Pokemon. Unfortunately for her, she has to deal with Ash's Snivy to get what she wants nowadays since they're usually sent out at the same time.
Ranma ˝ - Nabiki Tendo is a very good example. She'll fleece and blackmail anyone who has a crush on her dry.
Transformers Cybertron Thunderblast is a power-digger. She flirts first with Starscream and then with Megatron, pursuing them for their prestige and strength. Not that they notice or care beyond using her for their dirty work... Interestingly, Thunderblast is powerful enough to carve out her own path, but prefers to be a digger hanging off of someone else because that way she's not the one wearing a bulls-eye.
Miho Azuki from Bakuman。 asures the male lead, after he plukes up the courage to ask her out, that they will marry after he establishes himself (though she does hope to establish herself too). In a subversion, she does so out of the belief that they can serve as each other's motivation to succeed, and once they do, their happiness together will be greater.
Nadeshiko Amamiya's family accused Fujitaka Kinomoto of being this in Cardcaptor Sakura because she was a wealthy Uptown Girl, and he was a poor novice teacher (it also didn't help that this was a May-December Romance). Subverted because he did genuinely love Nadeshiko, and she genuinely loved him; money actually didn't factor in at all. They did marry, although Nadeshiko was disowned (and her cousin Sonomi still vehemently resents Fujitaka); Nadeshiko started working as a succesful model, Fujitaka continued his teacher work, and the two lived their lives happily wth their kids in a small but cozy apartment. (The Big Fancy House is much more recent.)
In Lady, George is being pressured into becoming this via marrying a minor noblewoman from a VERY rich family so he can use her money to pay his debts. He actually refuses.
The filler character Marron from Dragon Ball Z is implied to be this in the original series. In the abridged series, however, she admits to being one immediately after Krillin gives her evidence that he's committed insurance fraud.
In Child Ballad 62 Fair Annie, Annie's long-term lover — and the father of her many children — goes to marry another woman for her dowry. When the bride arrives, she hears Annie's lament and reveals that Annie is her kidnapped sister; she makes over her own dowry to her, so she can marry him.
The nut-browne bride haes gowd and gear, Fair Annet she has gat nane; And the little beauty Fair Annet haes O it wull soon be gane.
In Child BalladThe Lord Of Lorn And The False Steward, the Duke of France offers a rich dowry with his daughter. The false steward posing as the young Lord of Lorn takes it without comment; it is the true lord who declares that he wants to marry the daughter more than the gold.
Fables features two male examples. One of Jack's get rich quick schemes was to become a hero of the Civil War and then marry into a wealthy Southern family. Prince Charming makes his living mooching off his conquests, and attempts to renew his relationship with Briar Rose when he learns she has a blessing that keeps her wealthy.
Astro City - Charles Williams' wife Darnice from the "Dark Ages" story arc. She flirts with anyone who has money, spends his earnings on personal luxuries, even encourages him to take bribes as a way to supplement their income, then leaves him when he refuses to be a Dirty Cop.
Katmandu - The furry comic had a story were a villainous fortune hunter was about to marry the daughter of a rich man with every intent to sponge off him. Fortunately, a woman he cheated before had a friend who was a tailor who is also a magician who places a magic spell in his wedding suit to make him blab at the alter that he's only marrying the girl for her father's money. While the father is about to beat up the villain, the bride runs away in tears, but cheers up immediately when she runs into a very nice boy.
Maus - Money seems like a probable reason for Vladek leaving the poor Lucia Greenberg for the wealthy Anja Zylberberg — although they do eventually truly fall in love.
A Krazy Kat comic had Ignatz finding out that Krazy stands to inherit a lot of money. He immediately begins to woo Krazy with poetry, candy and mandolin music. When he finds out that Krazy isn't inheriting the money after all—and simultaneously gets billed for all the candy and poems—he returns to his usual practice of pelting Krazy with bricks, much to the Kat's relief.
Ginny Weasley is often portrayed this way by people who dislike her (particularly the Harry/Hermione shippers). The problem with this idea is that Harry has always been willing to share his money with the Weasleys, but they won't accept it.
Harry's mother Lily has also been accused of being this, simply because she chose James Potter over Severus Snape. This misses how Snape actually lost Lily's respect because he called her racist epithets in public and later joined the Wizarding World's equivalent of the Ku Kux Klan, whereas James may have been a Jerk Jock but he never ever thought of using said word against her and actually died protecting her and baby Harry from Voldemort.
Earth And Sky: Prince Blueblood marries Diamond Tiara strictly so that he can have access to her wealth (having squandered his own). In a possible subversion, she's well aware of this, as she only married him to gain power and prestige.
Kortney Krelbutz started out as this, dating and getting engaged to John Patterson (although there was a revenge element in it as well, since Elly didn't stand up for her when she was fired). She realized she fell in love with him when he defended her against Connie.
The movie Gold Diggers of 1933 is, oddly enough, a movie-long subversion. When an actress starts dating a millionaire, his friends assume this is going on, but in fact she didn't know he was rich. Her friends are a little peeved by the suggestion, however, so they decide to play it straight, and take the men for all they're worth.
Superman Returns - Lex Luthor did this to further his scheme. Lois eventually calls him on this.
Casino - Ginger McKenna in although she never lies about her intentions. And Ace has no illusions. What are the chances this works out?
Deconstructed in Legally Blonde. Elle points out that the new wife of an septuagenarian millionaire who is used to getting divorced on a whim, has to work extremely hard to stay married to the septuagenarian millionaire.
She also has a small fortune of her own thanks to her workout tapes. When her sleazy lawyer tells her that the jury will think that she is this trope, after all, why would an attractive woman marry a wealthy not-so-attractive man, she suggests showing the jury a picture of her late husband's penis.
Played with in Magnolia - Julianne Moore's character initially married the elderly television executive played by Jason Robards with Gold Digger intentions. The twist is that, after marrying him, she found herself genuinely falling in love with him instead, to the extent that when he's on his deathbed with cancer, she actually tries to have his will changed so that she won't inherit his millions out of guilt.
Elvira in Scarface. Initially she is Frank's Mistress, and she seems purely concerned with the material benefits. With her coke-stoked pokerface it's hard to know for sure exactly why she becomes Tony's wife — there's a suggestion of real romance. But gold digging is a very natural explanation for her.
Some Like It Hot plays with it: Tony Curtis pretends to be a rich man to woo Marilyn Monroe, while Jack Lemmon pretends to be a woman to woo a rich man.
How to Marry a Millionaire centers on not 1, not 2, but 3 women trying to be gold diggers. Lauren Bacall's character succeeds—unwittingly at first—and the remaining two fail, but all are happier for it.
Discussed in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Lorelei Lee (played by Marilyn Monroe) is an overt gold digger and defends it from criticism in the film.
Heartbreakers is about a con artist played by Sigourney Weaver who marries men for money then gets her daughter Jennifer Love Hewitt to seduce them (not knowing she's her daughter) so she can divorce them and take their money
Dial M For Murder - A male example is Tony Wendice; he only married his wife, Margot, for her money, and coldly plans to kill her, when he thinks that she wants to leave him. For added bonus, she's young and beautiful (she's played by Grace Kelly).
Although laughable in contrast to the superb characters mentioned above, Olivia Honey (Maria Pitillo) played one in She Devil (the movie, not the TV series)
Groucho Marx in most of the Marx Brothers movies. His usual rich woman was the wonderful Margaret Dumont. "You're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, and that doesn't say much for you."
Nick Charles is one in the Thin Man series of films and the original novel. He marries Nora with the intention of retiring from the detective business and living off of her money. Although, they do love each other and are happily married.
Ricky Bobby's wife in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, she was married to Ricky for over ten years but the day that he's fired from the team, she dumps him and got together with his best friend, Cal. She even makes it clear that she is married to a driver and she does not work.
In The Gold Rush, Georgia truly likes Charlie, but she is essentially upfront that her love has a price as a reason why she's up in the Klondike in first place. After Charlie becomes a millionaire at the end of the film, he's both willing and able to pay it with his eyes open.
1964 B-MovieDevil Doll features evil ventriloquist/hypnotist The Great Vorelli, who plans to marry a rich young woman, kill her and inherit her fortune.
The Parent Trap has Nick's (Mitch's in the original) young, opportunistic fiancée Meredith (Vicki), who is only interested in Nick's money.
Clarice Kensington of It Takes Two is a socialite who is engaged to Amanda's father and only wants to marry Roger for his money.
Secondhand Lions has the 'get written in the will' variety. Word is that the two uncles Hub and Garth have millions stashed away somewhere. Walter was sent there to get in good with them, the other relatives have been trying for quite some time, and near the end Walter's mother and her fiance come back to just plain take the money. In the end...
Walter: [reading the will] The kid gets it all. Just plant us in the damn garden, next to the stupid lion.
Tommy Boy has Tommy's father marrying a woman who only wants his money. When Tommy's father died at the wedding party, she and her son from a previous marriage actually her husband, making her marriage to Tommy's father illegal commented how it was better than her original plan of living with him for one year and then divorcing him. In the end, she sets her eyes into another target.
The Man With Two Brains has Kathleen Turner playing a gold-digger who is introduced while trying to give her old rich husband a heart attack, only for him to reveal as he's dying that he altered his will. She changes her attention to Steve Martin's character, a famous brain surgeon, after he hits her with a car.
The villain in the live-action adaption of The Cat In The Hat, Larry Quinn was all but said to be this.
Dr. Elsa Schneider in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was quite the gold digger. She used the bankroll and resources of the Nazis, as well as her "charms" on Indiana AND his father to further her quest to obtain the Holy Grail. In the end, her dreams are nearly fulfilled, but in a Literal Cliffhanger moment, she pushes her luck too far when she tries to reach the grail while suspended over a bottomless pit. Her black glove proves too slippery for Indiana to keep his grip on her hand, and she plummets to her Death by Materialism.
Mrs. Quickly in Nanny McPhee is, at first, willing to marry Mr. Brown simply because she is turning into an old maid, and he's available. However, when his children's efforts make her think that all he wants is sex, she leaves in a huff. When the kids beg her to return, they reveal that their late mother's wealthy aunt has promised to support the family if Mr. Brown re-marries. Realizing this, Mrs. Quickly quickly comes back to accept Mr. Brown's proposal and later sucks up to Lady Adelaide Stitch.
Mousehunt: Lars' wife April has shades of this; She leaves him (read: kicks him out of the house) after learning his late father left him nothing but a string factory in his will (which he wouldn't sell even when given the chance), but returns and seduces him after discovering his brother was left an antique house that the pair are about to auction off. And, when the deal goes south, she leaves him for the richest potential buyer attending the auction.
The protagonist of the 1933 film Babyface. After her abusive father (who had been letting men pay to sleep with her since she was 14) dies, she is left without money and uses wealthy men to gain money and power. She makes a Heel Face Turn at the end when she falls in love.
There's a male fortune hunter going after a plain-looking heiress in Henry James' Washington Square.
In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane was basically a male example of one, who is more attracted by Katrina's father's wealth than to her. The animated version of the book makes this all the more clear.
Mr. Elton in Jane Austen's Emma is a notable Austen Gold Digger. He first chases Emma Woodhouse, the title character, even though he's so far beneath her socially that she assumes he's actually interested in her friend Harriet. When Elton is rejected by Emma, he almost immediately marries a woman from Bristol whose 'charms' - she's loud, braying, crass, and bad-mannered - are such that it's obvious he only married her for her money.
Deconstructed in Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet is not a typical Gold Digger, despite her comment that hints she first began to love Darcy when she saw his beautiful estate in Derbyshire. At first, Elizabeth shied away from Darcy in part because of his wealth. Her mother, however, pressures her and her sisters into chasing rich men. The eldest daughter, the perfect Jane, falls in love with a rich man geniuely, the middle sister who feels unworthy because she can't do the only thing her mother would approve because she isn't charming enough shies away from the world and retreats in books at first, and the youngest two sisters are airheads who end up risking a lot to do this. As the most intelligent of them, Elizabeth realizes how self-destructive and crual it may be, so she settles for a compromise : she won't marry a poor man, but will marry a rich one if she falls in love with him. She proves her genuine intentions when she despises Mr Darcy, a rich but very snob man. However, it takes no more than a polite endeavour from Mr Darcy and the view of his beautiful estate for her to feel tempted to consider leting him court her. It's interesting to note that the turning point in their relationship is her visit to Darcy's estate and first-hand experience of his wealth, though it is not otherwise as decisive as more romantic events. Mr. Wickham, on the other hand, is a typical Austen Gold Digger; it's eventually revealed that he tricked wealthy Georgiana Darcy into running away with him (but he's thwarted before he can get at her money). It's implied that he courts Elizabeth only until he realizes she isn't an heiress, and runs away with Lydia because he thinks he can get away with debauching a girl who's too poor to marry.
Lord Robert St. Simon in the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor is only marrying American heiress Hatty Doran for her money, and she's only marrying him because her first husband was abducted by Indians years ago and is probably long dead. He isn't.
The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist centered around two men trying to court a young music teacher because they knew that her uncle was rich and had no will - making his niece, as next of kin, the heir to his fortune by default.
In The Sign of the Four, Watson is delighted when Mary's Unexpected Inheritance is lost, because it means he can court her without being seen as this.
Justified/subverted in the sequel to the L-shaped Room, The Backwards Shadow. Joanne was a failed actress in her late 30's. She married her husband for his money, promising to make him a good wife and give him a baby if she could. The marriage was very happy and she was genuinely upset at his death, while recognising that everyone thought this was she had been waiting for.
Noelle Page in The Other Side of Midnight is a poor French girl who is (in essence) sold to a disgusting-but-rich shopkeeper as a mistress by her father. She flees after bilking the shopkeeper out of some money, but then falls in love with and is abandoned by an American pilot. In order to destroy him, and having learned her lesson from the prior experience, she proceeds to woo increasingly powerful men — culminating in becoming a Greek tycoon's mistress. Wooing the right men also helps her become an internationally beloved actress, which is all part of the plan.
In the novel 1632, when the first marriage between an up-timer (people from the year 2000) and a down-timer (people from the year 1632) is proposed, some people bluntly tell the up-timer this trope is in full effect. Although the down-timer does not understand love, she is willing to work very hard to make the marriage successful. In later novels, we find they are very Happily Married.
Discussed and then averted in Jane Eyre. The title woman won't marry a rich man until she is independently wealthy, so she won't be reliant on him.
In Buddenbrooks, Bendix Grünlich marries Tony (Antonie) Buddenbrook exclusively for the dowry. As expected, this doesn't end well.
The eponymous heroine in Abbé Prévost's novel Manon Lescaut. She leaves her lover Des Grieux after sucking dry his wallet, then moves on to a rich old man. This eventually leads to her downfall and death. Her story is the subject of many operas and ballets.
Discussed and ultimately averted in Little Women. The Marchs are Impoverished Patricians, and their eldest daughter Margaret/Meg is very beautiful as well as somewhat greedy. When she visits her Spoiled Sweet friend Annie Moffat and gets dolled up for a party, she's emotionally crushed when she hears some Gossipy Hens wonder out loud if her presence is a ploy from her parents to make her one of these, specially in regards to their family friend Theodore "Laurie" Lawrence. Meg's mother Marmee and middle sister Josephine/Jo are very pissed off when Meg tells them, with the Hot Blooded Jo even saying she's willing to hit Annie in Meg's defense.
Several minor characters in the Elenium and Tamuli could be seen as this: One side of the marriage is a minor noble with a lot of money marrying for rank, the other side is a poor higher ranked noble marrying for money. These marriages didn't work out very well.
The Angel-Seekers in the Samaria novels by Sharon Shinn are examples of this. Since Angels are forbidden from breeding with each other (unless given special dispensation from Jovah), they have to interbreed with humans. Any woman who bears an Angel child (or man who fathers an Angel child) is taken into the Angel parent's community and lives in luxury for the rest of their days. The result is a subcommunity of young men and women living near the Angels trying to snare an Angel lover. Since the child of a human and an Angel isn't always an Angel, there is also the secondary result of a large number of human children birthed by Angel-Seeker and then discarded when their parent decides to make another try for an Angel child.
Prince Thanel in the Heralds of Valdemar series. Then, once he finally gets it through his head that under Valdemaran law, marrying the Queen does not automatically make him King, he seeks to murder his wife so that he become de facto king as regent to their infant daughter.
Later in the same series, Baron Melles is despised by most of the Imperial court. But within minutes of being named the Emperor's heir, he is swamped by members of the court cheerfully gold digging on behalf of themselves or their daughters/sisters/nieces/cousins. Since Melles knew exactly what the rest of the court thought of him, he recognized this for what it was immediately.
Glinda from Wicked married for the money. It doesn't help that she didn't love her husband and was in love with for her female best friend.
Dubliners - Ignatius Gallaher in "A Little Cloud" means to "marry money", with some rich German or Jews.
Brother Cadfael series: An interestingly positive example: Avice of Thornbury is completely honest about becoming a rich nobleman's mistress for status and riches. However, in the end their relationship reminded that of a married couple. Also, she turned to be the only person to have any affection for him, and was genuinely sad when he got killed.
Anthony Trollope created many of these: Burgo Fitzgerald is among the best known.
"Well, you can't just walk up to a woman and say 'Hello, I've heard about your large bank account, let's get married.'"
Two show up in the Magic and Malice duology by Patricia C Wrede. The one in the first book is a man who is hoping to marry his sister's wealthy ward in order to pay off his debts (Unfortunately, the siblings forgot to tell the girl about this plan, and she elopes with someone else). The one in the second book is a beautiful woman from an impoverished family hoping to get a wealthy husband so she can remain a figure in Society. Her primary target (The male lead) is engaged to someone else (The female lead) by the end of the story. No mention is made of whether or not she snared the other man she was aiming for. The female lead of the duology, despite having started as a street urchin and ending about to be married to a gentleman of means, is not one (If she had been, she would have married the Marquis rather than the title-less gentleman).
Arguably, Scarlett in Gone with the Wind, with husbands 2 and 3, especially #2, Frank Kennedy, who's a generation senior to her and had been courting her younger sister for some years, before Scarlett flat-out lied to him about Suellen's alleged involvement with someone else, so she could swoop in, get married to him, and get the money to pay taxes on Tara (stated to be her reason to find him of interest). #3, Rhett Butler, was also quite wealthy, but she did have some history of attraction to him on a personal level before their marriage, so money wasn't her only motive in that case.
Ser Jorah Mormont's second wife in A Song of Ice and Fire. Which led to problems, since House Mormont is rather impoverished for a noble family. To satisfy his wife, Jorah had to sell some poachers into slavery even though slavery is illegal in Westeros. When the king found out, Jorah and his wife went into exile so he wouldn't be executed. She then dumped him for a much wealthier man.
Cassandra Mortmain in I Capture The Castle gradually comes to see her older sister Rose as one of these for getting engaged to wealthy American Simon Cotton when she doesn't love him (but Cassandra does). Eventually Rose breaks it off with Simon and gives into the Belligerent Sexual Tension she has with his brother Neil.
Walther Gassner married Anna Roffe, a woman considerably older than him and with no attractives other than being the heiress of the German branch of the family of the founder of a big pharmaceutical company. Anna's father tried to bribe him out and he used the money to buy her a wedding ring.
Before settling for her Henpecked Husband, Helene Roffe, heiress of the French branch, married other rich people to become even wealthier.
Gerald Wright in the Miss Marple novel A Pocket Full of Rye. He gets engaged to Elaine, the daughter of the wealthy Rex Fortescue, then dumps her when her father threatens to cut her off if she marries Wright. When Rex Fortescue is murdered and Elaine inherits a large sum of money, Wright immediately shows up again and resumes their engagement.
Live Action TV
Jefferson D'Arcy in Married... with Children. Often referred to in-show as a "trophy husband"; never works, preferring to leech off Marcy's banker income.
In something of a twist, for all his cockiness when she's not around, in his relationship with Marcy it's made pretty clear that he's nevertheless a spineless doormat almost completely under her thumb as a result.
Kelly occasionally played this role. Ironically, despite Al typically being an Overprotective Dad in beating up most of Kelly's boyfriends, he actively encourages the relationship whenever she lands a rich guy, mostly so he can exploit it for his own gain.
Kendall Casablancas in Veronica Mars. Mentioned within the show, even by her stepsons.
One emblematic example is Maria Fatima of Vale Tudo ("Anything Goes / Everything counts"), a poor-to-middle-class young woman who makes a mission of her life to marry into a rich clan no matter how, to the horror of her way more honest mother Helena. While Fatima does find her Meal Ticket, the "anything goes" method she used to get it caused more problems to her than if she has just worked for her money.
And there was the titular anti-heroine of Rubi, who essentially screwed around the lives of her best friend and their respective romantic interests just because she wanted to marry into riches and her true love wasn't rich enough for her. In the original, and almost every remake save the latest, she was anviliciously killed; in the latest Mexican remake, she just leaves her former circle to be Happily Ever After and direct her charms to unsuspecting foreign millionaires...
The Brazilian telenovela "Anjo mau" ("Evil Angel/Angel Malo"), in all of its versions (the original Brazilian soap and its remake, an iconic Chilean remake in The Eighties, and a modern Mexican version), discusses and presents this trope both in the main plot and in other minor stories:
Berenice aka Nice, the Anti Heroine, is one. As the wholesome-looking babysitter for a very wealthy Big Screwed-Up Family and the eldest daughter of their Old Retainer chaffeur, the beautiful and greedy Nice plans from the beginning to marry either Roberto or Ricardo, the two young and handsome uncles of the baby boy she takes care of, so she can get out of poverty. In the original Brazilian version and the classic Chilean remake, she anviliciously falls victim to Death by Childbirth; in the Brazilian remake, she survives.
The father of the baby boy Nice babysits is accused of being one - specially when it seems he's cheating on his wife, who already is a Clingy Jealous Girl. It turns out to be false: he is actually a Self-Made Manfrom a poor family, and the "other women" he visits are his aging mother and his Christmas Cake younger sister, whom he economically supports behind everyone's backs.
Both of Nice's love rivals have the trope invoked on them. One of them is Lia, a sweet girl from a formerly rich famimily who's genuinely in love with Roberto and is about to go the Unlucky Childhood Friend route with him, but is pressured by her Rich Bitch mother into marrying him only for the family's benefit. The other is Roberto's original girlfriend Paula, who sees her parents lose a good part of their wealth, and after her Smug Snake father fails to steal the main family's riches he also pressures her into marrying one of the two guys. (The fact that she cheated on Roberto with Ricardo in the beginning, which is what drove her scorned boyfriend to Nice's arms in the first place, doesn't help).
A significant percentage of the female characters on Mad Men, but particularly Jane Siegel (well, Jane Cooper now).
Pete and Trudy Campbell's marriage is a slightly more complicated take on the issue — he's from a socially prominent, very old family (back to New Amsterdam on his mother's side) that hasn't been doing too well financially; her parents are vulgar nouveau riche, and loaded in the extreme. Both clans are not-so-subtly backing them to improve the standing of everyone concerned. Needless to say, it doesn't go well.
On the other hand, they seem to have made their marriage work by Season 3; the Campbells are probably the healthiest couple among the main cast (Harry and Jennifer Crane appear to be Happily Married, too, but Harry is a secondary character).
Don's new wife Megan has at least a touch of diggerism, though she is shown to be genuinely talented at advertising and does seem to genuinely love Don.
Marcus in Seacht is a male gold digger, leeching off Joanne.
Upstairs Downstairs features one confirmed gold digger, Frederick the cockney footman, who uses his good looks to hook a rich woman and who eventually moves to Hollywood - shortly before the advent of the talkies. On the other hand, Richard Bellamy, one of the major characters, is suspected by his father-in-law of being a gold digger to the point that he ties up Lady Marjorie's money so Richard can't get to it after she dies. It's true that Richard was a poor parson's son who aspired to the hand of an earl's daughter and that he used his marital connections to build his career in Parliament, but on the other hand he actually did love Lady Marjorie and was devastated by her death.
Terri from Glee. Will (Terri's husband) and the Glee Club even sing Kanye's song while Terri goes house hunting to hammer in the point.
She is not, however, married to a rich man but a High school teacher. Part of why the marriage is so unhappy.
Lie to Me provides a subversion: one of their clients finds out that his fiancee was after his money at first, but then genuinely fell in love with him.
The team points out that he's not innocent of this either, only in terms of beauty. Yes, he loves her, but it doesn't hurt that she's a knock-out.
An early episode had a man marrying a woman who he planned to kill on their wedding night and inherit her money. Said woman turned out to be a yandere who murdered him after they made love in order to ensure time didn't spoil their love.
Another episode had a woman marry a man because a psychic predicted he would inherit a vast fortune and die soon after. Of course, there was a Prophecy Twist: She wins the money in a contest, breaks up with him in a cruel manner, and he kills her. He inherits her money, and gets the chair soon after.
Joe Pesci plays a man who pretends to have a twin brother so he can marry a set of twins and inherit their whole fortune. When the girls find out there's only one, the decide to share him...by cutting him down the middle and each taking half.
Frasier briefly becomes this for none other than Patrick Stewart, who gives him expensive watches and introduces him to celebrities. In turn, Frasier lets the guy kiss him and treat him like a boyfriend, contstantly "forgetting" to tell Stewart's character he's straight.
In an earlier episode, Bebe became this for an old CEO with heart problems. Unfortunately for her, he died during the wedding so she didn't get any money. She did manage to steal his watch off of his corpse though.
Cerie of 30 Rock says her goal in life is to "marry rich and then design handbags." She has since gotten married to a guy we never meet, but who is implied to be wealthy.
The Hannah Montana episode "When You Wish You Were the Star" is a Wonderful Life episode in which Miley/Hannah finds herself in an Alternate Timeline, wherein, among other things, her father is married to her former homeschool teacher, who admits to a friend over the phone that she only married Robbie for his wealth and status.
It's implied on Castle that this is how Martha has lost her money and why she has to live with her son now. It's also joked that this is how Castle will lose all his money.
Martha herself inverts this trope in her relationship with the wealthy (and unseen) Chet, who dies shortly after proposing to Martha, who was planning to break up with him; upon learning that Chet has left her a million dollars in his will, Martha initially decides to refuse the money, reasoning that he would never have bequeathed it to her had he lived and she broken up with him, and only agrees to accept it after her children insist that he would have wanted her to have it either way.
Martha has an element of this trope in one sense; she's not exactly shy about charging vast amounts to her son's credit card, much to his exasperation. It is, however, abundantly clear that she loves him for far more than just his purchasing power.
Played with in Fox's reality show Joe Millionaire.
A non-romantic variation shows up in an episode of Mama's Family wherein Vinton believes he is adopted. A prospective birth mother appears, but she balks upon learning that Vint is not a banker ("securities") as she had surmised but rather a locksmith ("security systems").
Logan's mother on Gilmore Girls is said to have met her rich and unfaithful husband in a bar.
Batman rogue Penguin once teamed up with a gold digger who married an elderly wealthy man who, instead of dying and leaving her his estate, divorced her and all she got from him was a race horse and some umbrellas she tried to pass as a valuable collection.
Raj gets into a relationship with one in The Big Bang Theory. He takes advantage of his parents' wealth to shower her with gifts, until they give him an ultimatum, to choose between his parents' money and the girl. When he tells her about this, and that he chose her, she promptly dumps him, leaving him an emotional wreck for the rest of the episode.
Shake It Up: In "Match it Up" Deuce's first girlfriend, Savannah, is this, dumping Deuce for someone with more money. When Deuce wins the chance to get 10,000 dollars, she comes back to him. Rocky and Cece trick her into revealing her true nature by having Ty pose as an internet billionaire. Deuce dumps her soon after.
Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey provides an example of the classic "male Impoverished Patrician marries industrialist's daughter" type. He admits that his sole purpose in marrying Cora (an American) was getting her dowry and inheritance from her father, a millionaire dry-goods merchant, in order to support the estate. She loves him from the start, and by the time we see them about 20 years later, he's come to love her, as well—and deeply regret his initial motivations.
El Chapulín Colorado prevented a wealthy man from shooting his daughter's boyfriend. The man suspects all her suitors were the trope. In the boyfriend's case, the man is proven right when he (falsely) claims he's leaving his entire estate to his butler.
A man wanted to mow the lawn but it was so hot he entertained the idea of doing it naked. When he asked his wife what the neighbors would think if they saw him naked, they'd think she married him for money.
"He was rich and old, and she/Was twenty-two or twenty-three./She gave him fifteen years to live/The only thinig she meant to GIVE."—-anon.
Kanye West's "Gold Digger". Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Ironically enough, the Ray Charles song it samples is actually about a Sugar Momma (a woman who financially supports her lover in exchange for certain affections).
Also Proyecto Uno's song "La Interesada". Quite appropriate, since the song was a cover of "Money Talks".
The female protagonist of the Eagles song "Lyin' Eyes" is a gold digger; she's treated more sympathetically than most examples, however, being depicted as being lonely and trapped in a loveless and unhappy marriage with a cold and distant man. The song nevertheless points out that she did bring it on herself and that she is stringing along at least two guys as a result.
Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend famously sung by Carol Channing. Also by Marilyn Monroe in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The famous dance number in which she sings it was also done by Madonna.
Subverted in the Madonna example in the video. She plays a performer who is pursued by several rich men, but she'd rather be with the hot but poor handyman and make out with him in his pickup truck.
Good Charlotte's "Boys and Girls", continually claiming "Girls don't like boys, girls like cars and money".
AC/DC, "What Do You Do for Money Honey." ("Money Talks" is an inverse example, with a man seducing a woman he thinks is a Gold Digger.)
Johnathan Coulton has two songs on this topic: "Till the Money Comes" and "Millionaire Girlfriend."
Kirsty MacColl's "I'm Going Out with an Eighty-Year-Old Millionaire" is a over-the-top parody of the phenomenon.
"Daddy (You Oughta Get The Best For Me)" by Bob Troup; Sammy Kaye recorded the first hit version, but there are lots and lots of cover versions. The song is "'bout a gal named Daisy Mae" who sings she wants such things as "a brand new car, champagne, caviar."
"Why don't you do right?" by Joe McCoy, performed by many many (including Jessica Rabbit). "Why don't you do right like some other men do? Get out of here and get me some money too!"
Oh shit, she's a gold digger - Just thought you should know, nigga
The entire song pretty much describes the girl as one of these; it's one of the reason the singer is a bit miffed with her.
This is one of the methods of getting rich discussed in the ABBA song Money Money Money.
Garth Brooks' song "Digging For Gold" from In The Life Of Chris Gaines. The subject of the song was only in the marriage until the millionaire lost his money in the stock market and she bailed out in the end, leaving him crying.
The Pet Shop Boys song Rent seems to be about this and perhaps prostitution. The title sounds like an allusion to the term "rent boy" to mean "male prostitute", and the chorus is the words "I love you, you pay my rent" repeated over and over.
In the musical based on Shrew, Kiss Me Kate Petruchio (not Fred) not only admits it outright several times, but he has an entire song about it. Just to even things out, though, Lilli Vanessi (not Kate) is planning to marry at least in part for status (in the stage show, her fiance is a retired General who is intended to be the next Vice-Presidential candidate) or money (in the movie, he's a wealthy Texas cattle baron).
The Merchant of Venice is full of male versions. Bassanio wants to marry Portia in part because she's wealthy and Portia's father had set up the whole "Three caskets" thing to assure that she doesn't get stuck with one.
Like everything William Shakespeare, this is up for interpretation. Some productions have Bassanio marrying Portia entirely for her money, some have him marry her because he loves her, with her money an obstacle, and some play around in the space between the two. With Arragon and Morocco, however, the text is... less kind.
Subverted in the opera La Duenna by Roberto Gerhard: subverted because 1) the gold digger, the Large Ham Don Jerome, is a man and 2) he comes to love his wife and really misses her when she dies.
Carmen - Mercédčs, during the fortune-telling number, sees herself becoming the wife of a wealthy but senile man — and then, as his widow, inheriting magnificently.
In The Women, Crystal Allen is trying to sleep her way to the top, and replacing Mrs. Haines with herself is not the last step on her social climb.
The Haunted Mansion - Constance, the ghostly bride that was recently added to the attraction at Disney Theme Parks, married and decapitated about five men for their wealth. If you look at the portraits in the Attic scene, her smile and the amount of necklaces around her neck steadily increases.
And the last one was one of the Mansion's owners - the Imagineers specifically modeled his appearance after "George" from the Portrait Room.
Ace Attorney had Alita Tiala, who was digging for the gold of her fiance, the son of a major gangster. In fact, what made it even worse was that she was the nurse who treated the gangster's son, who had taken a bullet to the chest which would kill him within a year, and was virtually inoperable. She fooled the patient into thinking the bullet was removed, and then decided to marry him, and wait for him to die to get his inheritance.
In another game, there was a subversion when it turned out that the partner of Ron DeLite, Desiree, genuinely loved him, despite having definitely looked like a gold digger beforehand.
There are... certain women in Final Fantasy IV that are quite clearly stereotypical gold diggers. In the... bar where they are found, there is a... club you can gain access to (for an obscene amount of cash) where you can watch a... performance by them. After the show, you can enter the dressing room and, in the DS Version, get the "Gil Farmer" augment. Hmmm....
The Sims 3 - Gold Digger is a Lifetime Aspiration. To achieve it, sims have to marry someone worth a certain amount of money, and then have their spouse die and see their ghost.
In The Sims 2, Dina Caliente is implied to be this. She married Michael Bachelor and has the memory of "Married a Rich Sim", and he died before the game started. When the game starts, she's in love with Mortimer Goth, who is also very rich.
Dragon Age: Origins - A variant occurs within dwarven society. Dwarves have a very strict caste system that determines each dwarf's profession, with casteless dwarves filling the very bottom rung. Female casteless dwarves commonly engage in "noble hunting," where they seduce a male dwarf noble and have his child; if that baby is a boy, the casteless dwarf and her relatives can be accepted into the noble's house. This is even encouraged in dwarven society, as their population is dwindling from constant attacks by the darkspawn.
Annie of Atelier Annie dreams of falling into a life of easy luxury by "marrying up" before her family sends her lazy rear end off to work as an alchemist. Once she finds out that the prize for her efforts could include the Prince's hand in marriage she becomes incrediblydetermined.
in Leisure Suit Larry 7, Larry's main Love Interest in the previous game (who was a rich Granola Girl) suddenly turns into this trope after sleeping with Larry. She chains him to the bed and leaves with his wallet. His primary pursuit in this game (Captain Thygh) also turns out to be this, not to mention the Black Widow in the game who hires Larry to off her husband. Of course, neither Thygh nor Larry have any intention for a long-term relationship, but when Larry wins the contest, she refuses to honor her end of the deal until he shows her how much money he has.
Let's not forget Fawn in "The Land of the Lounge Lizards" who dumps Larry after recieving alot of gift from him, including a diamond ring.
In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Princess Voluptua, heir to the throne of a vast space empire, has lamented that she's endured 270 years of power-hungry fools vying for her hand. This is one of the main reasons she's attracted to Bob, because he harbors no such ambitions.
Issa of Least I Could Do freely admitted she was looking to marry rich, which she was so focused on she made no other life goals, to the point where she was 27, still living with her parents, working at a gas station and had no skills to help her get a better paying job. She had to beg and plead for Rayne to get her a job at IDS. Now she has a new boyfriend.
A straight example is Bonnie going after Ron Stoppables 99 million dollars. She promptly leaves after it gets stolen because she told Ron to keep it in his pocket.
Demona and Thailog scheme to do this to Macbeth, using a human Demona as bait in Gargoyles.
The Boondocks - Cristal (you know? like the champagne). Much like the Glee example, Kanye West's song was played over a montage of her shopping with Granddad, just to make sure we got it.
In Spider-Man, Jason PhillipMacendale, better known as The Hobgoblin tried to marry Felicia Hardy to get access to her wealth. When she found out his alter-ego, he threatened to kill her unless she goes through it.
In Futurama, when Bender undergoes a robot sex-change operation, Calculon becomes smitten with "Coilette" (AKA: female Bender). Bender intends to marry Calculon, then immediately divorce him for half his stuff. Unfortunately, he develops genuine feelings (or at least a desire to not screw him over) for him.
On The Simpsons, Marge's sister Selma (Bouvier-Terwilliger-Hutz-McClure-Stu-Simpson) at one point tells Marge that she from now on will only be marrying for love..."and maybe once more for money."
And she got the surname "Terwilliger" from Sideshow Bob, who tried to kill her for money and would have gotten away with that if not for that meddling Bart Simpson.
Jez on Jimmy Two-Shoes, apparently. She seems largely uninterested in being romantic with Lucius, but has no qualms about using his stuff. Sure enough, the moment the Broke Episode happens, she dumps him.
Kelly on Stoked, when she begins dating Lo's brother (and Emma's crush) Ty Ridgemount simply because he is the son of hotel owner Mr. Ridgemount.
At least two cartoon shorts (One of them featuring Daffy Duck) involved a male gold digger marrying a rich widow... and finding himself having to put up with her bratty kid and live his life according to her whims. After much physical and mental abuse, the gold digger decides he's had enough and leaves her.
The other short featured Yosemite Sam, who entered Wicked Stepfather territory by trying to off the kid (who in this case isn't so much bratty as dangerously large and naive like Baby Huey). As he left, he asked himself if all of that was worth five million dollars. Five million dollars? He ran back to the mansion.
He tried to marry another rich widow (played by Granny) in "Hare Trimmer", but Bugs Bunny posed as a rival suitor (and later Granny herself) to save her.
Lady Jasmine turns out to be this in The Smurfs episode "The Prince And The Hopper", when Smurfette finds out that Prince Theodore's bride-to-be is only interested in marrying him for the money.