"In the evening Popov and von Kartzov drank champagne and dined sumptuously. Though Popov would never know it, von Karstoff's real name was Kremer von Auenrode, and educated and wealthy aristocrat from Trieste whose main objective was to get through the war with maximum pleasure and minimum danger."
—Ben Mackintyre, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies
Whether old money, New Money
, or nobility
, these people just spend their time living off their vast sums of money they earned, or their family's sums of money.
Not to say they just sit around doing nothing (usually). They have too much of their free time taken up by travelling, going to parties and galas, attending horse races and polo matches, keeping up with the latest Society gossip, choosing which clothes to wear
, spoiling Mister Muffykins
rotten, and occasionally doing at least some token work in their family business. So they can't really be too idle. They're too rich to be.
The threat of Passed-Over Inheritance
is particularly powerful against the younger members of the family in this set.
Now this is some Truth in Television
, as some real life people have acted like this (such as during the "Gilded Age"), as do Socialites
today. And the Ermine Cape Effect
long gave the impression of this among royalty and nobility.
A Rich Idiot with No Day Job exploits this image
to hide their superhero activities.
A Super Trope
Compare Princess Classic
, Screw the Rules, I Have Money!
, Reclining Reigner
Contrast Non-Idle Rich
, Royals Who Actually Do Something
, Rebellious Princess
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- Bruce Wayne poses like an Idle Rich playboy in public. But at night he is the Batman.
- Deconstructed with Tom and Daisy in The Great Gatsby: sure, they donít work, but they are constantly chased by all kinds of Con Man (Biloxi), The Thing That Would Not Leave (Klipspringer) and Nouveau Riche (Gatsby). Without a job, they have plenty of time for Rich Boredom. Both of them are Lonely at the Top, they cheat each other without any passion, Tom is clinging to his Glory Days as a football hero because he knows he will never top that, and Daisy is a Stepford Smiler.
- Arabella Yount and the other bankers' wives in Capital.
- When Jerin gets a taste of real wealth in A Brother's Price, he quickly finds that for him the idleness is enforced, it's confining, and he's bored. He and his sisters end up reading a newspaper "to death" and have to be rescued by friends.
- In Gene Stratton Porter's Michael O'Halloran, Douglas recounts how a friend of his is training an orphan waif to follow him in his business, because while he has sons, his rich wife is training them to be "men of wealth and leisure".
- In Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey novel Have His Carcass, one professional dancer speaks with contempt of women who resort to the high life rather than making a life for themselves.
"L'amour! These ladies come and dance and excite themselves and want love and think it is happiness. And they tell me about their sorrows — me — and they have no sorrows at all, only that they are silly and selfish and lazy. Their husbands are unfaithful and their lovers run away and what do they say? Do they say, I have two hands, two feet, all my faculties, I will make a life for myself? No. They say, give me cocaine, give me the cocktail, give me the thrill, give me my gigolo, give me l'amo-o-ur! Like a mouton bleating in a field."
- In Andre Norton's Catseye, Tikil is full of Blue Bloods far from the planets where they get their money, living a life of luxury.
- Ivan Vorpatril in Vorkosigan Saga is a subversion. He wants few things more then to be idle and to convince everyone else he is idle. But unfortunately the antics of "the cuz"(Miles)always prevent that.
- The Tusaine King in Song of the Lioness (who is one of the few examples in the Tortall Universe). He lounges around and parties while his brother and cousin run the country. When said brother and cousin are captured in the brief war (which they started), the King immediately sues for peace with Tortall so they can go back to running the country for him.
- King Roger was this prior to the start of the Provost's Dog, even being nicknamed "Randy Roger'', leaving his brother Prince Baird to run Tortall for him. By the start of the trilogy, he no longer is, as his second wife, Queen Jessamine, was raised to be Royals Who Actually Do Something, and convinced him to be the same.
- Also, in the Circle of Magic series, Sandrilene fa Toren and her great-uncle (the ruling Duke of Emelean) admit that the former's parents were pleasure-seekers who traveled around frequently solely for their own and their daughter's amusement.
- Colin, the wealthy, sophisticated, care-free protagonist of Boris Vian's Froth On The Daydream. Too bad this state doesn't last.
Live Action TV
- Mr. and Mrs. Hart from Hart to Hart, a modern day Nick and Nora Charles, were this. True, they usually got involved in some crime mystery, but that was just what they did for fun.
- Gilligan's Island: Mr. and Mrs. Howell were this.
- Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock refers to this as "Trust Fund Kid Syndrome"; however, his definition of it expands to include anyone born to wealth who uses that to do something other than accumulate even more wealth.
- Space 1889 played straight. People with social class 5 or 6 (on a scale to six) are independently wealthy and get money without working. You can still choose to put your characterís free time to good use, though, but he or she will probably consider real work for money, particularly if it is some form of manual labor, beneath him or her.
- The Moon Is Blue has David Slater, who probably never worked a single day in his life and won't have to for the foreseeable future. He wins $600 in a game of gin with a "bloated capitalist who grinds the faces of the poor," who turns out to be Don.
- In Crusader Kings most courtiers that don't have titles or duties will be this. It is especially important to avoid for Muslims as idle men will spend their time drinking and partying and raise the dynasty's decadence, paving the way for invasion by other Muslim rulers. The Republic also introduced this as all adult men of the dynasty was given a share of the profits (resulting in players killing useless dynasty members). A later patch inverted this by limiting the number of trade posts to the number of adult men in the dynasty.
- Towards the end of the Imperial Agent storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Agent attends a party of rich good-for-nothings on Correllia who are so fed up and bored with their carefree life that they chose to party away for as long as they can before their planet is destroyed by the fighting between the Republic and the Sith—not even attempting to do anything about it.