Meal Ticket

Big Daddy, Williams 1963

And I gotta get a meal ticket
To survive you need a meal ticket
To stay alive you need a meal ticket
Feel no pain, no regret
When the line's been signed
You're someone else
Do yourself a favor, the meal ticket does the rest
— "(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket", Elton John

Basically the target of a Gold Digger. Someone the digger pretends to love for the ticket's money, power, or some other thing the digger wants. Usually the meal ticket is wealthy, but they may simply have a dependable income that's enough that the gold digger won't have to worry about supporting themselves.

If a rich man is over 50, and the wife is under 40, this is the second most common type of fictional relationship after a May-December Romance. Shows up regularly with Ugly Guy, Hot Wife.

Modern examples usually place a man in the position of Meal Ticket, but from Elizabethan to Victorian times, it was just as likely that the Meal Ticket would be female and an heiress, with a male Gold Digger (or diggers!) in pursuit.

In some cases, the digger might grow to love the ticket, but it's rare. Expect fawning until the marriage, and then neglect or even abuse afterward. A happy ending is a toss up. Male Meal Tickets have a high chance to come across the Black Widow and have their lives quickly shortened.

The name has varied and vague origins from the 19th century to either this trope or to actual tickets used to get meals in places.

Suffice it to say, Truth in Television, but No Real Life Examples, Please!.

Compare Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor. See Christmas Cake for the (usually) gender-inverted equivalent.

In-Universe Examples Only

Anime and Manga
  • In Berserk, Princess Charlotte is this to Griffith, and in Berserk Abridged he actually refers to her as a meal ticket once.
  • In Gungrave, Harry admits he needs Sherry Walken to become the head of the Syndicate. It's not clear whether he really loves her or not, until the last episodes.
  • Princess Flora is the female meal ticket of Honey Honey No Suteki Na Bouken, and rich men from all over the world show up at her birthday party to ask her hand in marriage. It annoys her to be treated as a prize, so she tuckes her diamond ring into a cooked fish and chucks it out the window, where it is eaten by a cat (Honey's kitten Mimi) on the ground. She then says anyone who can retrieve the diamond ring will marry her, which kickstarts the plot.
  • Genderflipped in Speed Grapher, where the Meal Ticket is the local Evil Matriarch Shinzen Tennozou. Subverted in that Shinzen knows she's this and tries to use it to her advantage. But she's horribly Out-Gambitted in the end, and dies.
  • Kanae Ohtori in Revolutionary Girl Utena is this to Akio, since as her fiance he's able to have control over the school and perpetuate his plan with the duels. Since the entire series is a deconstruction of prince and princess tropes, in this case Kanae's situation represents how little power many princesses actually have when they're used this way, and late in the series it's heavily implied that Akio poisons her with the help of Anthy.
  • Invoked in Lady. Madeleine Wavebury is a VERY rich minor noblewoman who badly wants to socially ascend, and main character Lynn's father is a high-ranked Impoverished Patrician. Naturally, George's snobbish father (who never forgave him for marrying a now-deceased Japanese woman and fathering Lynn with her) encourages him to see Madeleine as this and go the Gold Digger way. It doesn't happen in the end, but at a high prize: George's Big Fancy House must be sold out to clear the family debts.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler: Battle Butler Himuro sees his master as a meal ticket.
  • Pandora Hearts plays with the trope: Jack Vessalius befriends Arthur Barma and uses him as a Meal Ticket, but Jack's main motive for doing this is to get closer to Lacie, a noblewoman he genuinely loves.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, Tsukiyama attempts to make himself one to Kaneki as part of his efforts to gain his trust, using his family's wealth to finance their group. Muggle Best Friend Chie teases him about this, comparing him to a dirty old man using money to charm a Hostess.
  • Shimada in Jitsu wa Watashi wa meets love in the person of Aizawa Ryou, an alien guy piloting a female Mobile-Suit Human who is always looking for a way to get free meals. He's the only one who doesn't notice right away what "she"'s trying to do. The problem is that Shimada's idea of a relationship with a girl is awkward at best, at worst slightly creepy, as Ryou soon discovers.

Comic Books
  • Booster Gold's unnamed (and unseen) wife in "Formerly Known as the Justice League". His friend Blue Beetle chastises him for marrying for money.

Fanfic
  • Kristoph is explicitly called one to Apollo in Dirty Sympathy, as he's not only Apollo's employer he gives Apollo his apartment.

Film - Animated
  • Princess Fiona to Lord Farquaad (who only wanted her title) in Shrek.

Film - Live Action
  • Uncle Fester was this to Debbie Jellinsky, the villainess in The Addams Family Values.
  • The father in every version of The Parent Trap. Why is she interested in him? "I can think of a million reasons, and they're all in the bank."
  • In Robin Hood, Robin is asked to act as Sir Robert Loxley, including with Lady Marion. So when he introduces Lady Marion as his wife to his Band of Brothers, they applaud his luck with a "Well-played, Robin!"
  • This is how Lex Luthor gets back on his feet after winning a trial and getting out of jail in Superman Returns.
  • Big Ben from Problem Child 2 sees his son's rich fiance, La Wanda, as this for himself; when his son dumps her, he is then convinced to marry her instead.
  • This is how Rose's mother in Titanic sees his daughter's fiance, Caledon Hockley, for herself.

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • Rita in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, who dosed Lord Zedd with a love potion so that he'd marry her, forget about banishing her and let her get back to terrorising Earth. A later episode has Zedd's Dragon Goldar try to reverse the potion's effect, only to find that they'd actually fallen for each other anyway.
  • Veronica Mars: Kendall Casablancas, a young hot ex-professional cheerleader marries the elder Dick Casablancas, and when he flees the country to avoid prosecution for real estate fraud, she tries to make her casual sex relationship with her step-son's rich friend more of a sugar daddy thing, despite his being several years younger than herself. Didn't work.

Music
  • The titular woman in Jonathon Coulton's Millionaire Girlfriend.
  • The girlfriend in Tripod's Old Money.
  • The Eagles' "Lyin' Eyes" is about a gold digger who regrets marrying her Meal Ticket.
    A rich old man, and she won't have to worry
    She'll dress up all in lace and go in style.
    Late at night a big old house gets lonely —
    I guess every form of refuge has its price...

Professional Wrestling
  • Vicky Guerrero certainly played this role with Edge being the Gold Digger foil.

Theatre
  • The unseen husband in all versions of The Women (or was seen in The Opposite Sex).
  • Katherine, the "shrew" of The Taming of the Shrew was the meal ticket. Petrucchio, the gold digger, learned to love her, though.
    • In Kiss Me Kate, the musical adaptation, Petrucchio's motives are made explicitly clear, with his song, "I've Come to Wive It Wealthily (in Padua)"
  • Portia for all of her suitors, in The Merchant of Venice. Bassanio just was the one who was somewhat less of a jerk about it.
  • In Chicago, Amos Hart ("Mr Cellophane") was the meal ticket of Roxy. In this case, he's not rich or powerful, he's simply willing to support her no matter what she did.

Video Games

Visual Novels

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • Grandpa Freeman in The Boondocks episode "Guess Ho's Coming To Dinner"