Literally "new rich" (pronounced noo-voh reesh), less literally "new money," this is the negative take on the Self-Made Man—or any character who unexpectedly came into money. The Nouveau Riche are characterized as rude and tacky, and frequently contrasted with the good breeding of aristocratic characters.
How they made the money depends where they come from and when the work is set. If British, expect them to be from either Oop North (with wealth made from industry) or more recently, London/Essex (with wealth from the financial sector). If American, expect them to be Californian Hollywood people with Valley Girl daughters, fat Texasoil barons, cattle tycoons, or even a cotton-pickin', slave-whippin' Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit. If urban, expect a character from a Glam Rap video. Especially unsympathetic depictions may give them ties to organized crime - or otherwise contempt towards the social class they used to belong to.
Often paired with Conspicuous Consumption, and can lead to A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted. Old money, in contrast, are usually much more restrained in both taste and spending, as they have no need to flaunt the wealth they've always had and no wish to piddle away the family fortune on trivial pursuits.
A common method of playing with the trope — and one more common in modern works where traditional aristocracy and 'old money' aren't quite as revered as they used to be — is to have the Nouveau Riche character despite their lack of 'class and breeding' be a lot more likeable and down-to-earth than the Blue Blood types, usually because they know exactly how lucky they are now and how unfortunate they were before. In this depiction, expect the 'class and breeding' the Blue Bloods and old-money types obsess over to be codewords for snobbery, arrogant entitlement and stuffy, fusty over-adherence to pointless tradition.
Compare Idle Rich.
Contrast Impoverished Patrician (although are likely to end up at the sides of a Nobility Marries Money situation). Also contrast Bourgeois Bohemian, who can often be its polar opposite on the political scale.
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In Gankutsuou, Danglars is the epitome of greedy new money with no class- this is well represented by the fact he always wears a golden suit.
Kazuya and his family in Hana Yori Dango, though Kazuya himself is a more sympathetic example.
Haruka Suzushiro's family in Mai Hime, apparently. Her best friend Yukino, in her special, reflects on a time when her family was not nearly as wealthy.
In Victorian Romance Emma, Emma ends up working for the Malders, a new money family. It explores in some detail the upheaval and class conflict created by England's industrial revolution.
Flashback chapters show that Richard Jones was considered "New Money" as a young man, especially by established aristocrats. In the present, Viscount Campbell is the only person shown to still think of him that way.
Victor's family in Corpse Bride, who have very recently come into mass fortune after inventing canned fish, and are determined to shove their way into the blue-blooded world. Mostly by marrying into Victoria's Impoverished Patrician family.
Jack Hartounian in Caddyshack 2, a self-made millionaire of Jewish-Armenian descent who still retains his salt-of-the-earth mentality and enjoys a close friendship with his construction workers. he deliberately folds in a poker game against a Hispanic worker with a large family despite his winning hand in order to avoid taking money from him. He makes his money by building low-income housing in wealthy neighborhoods. Naturally, the country club Blue Bloods don't much like this idea and make efforts to shut down his construction project. As in the first film, this leads to a golf match. Meanwhile, his daughter desperately wants to be thought of as a Blue Blood and is frequently embarassed by her father's antics, while one of the Blue Bloods finds Jack's personality a refreshing change from the stuck-up snobs at the club and starts dating him.
Thornton Melon (Dangerfield again) in Back to School. The bad guy of the film actually calls Melon's son a "crude, obnoxious, nouveau riche little phlebe".
As in Real Life, Molly Brown from Titanic, played by Kathy Bates. Subverted in that the only people who seem to dislike her for being Nouveau Riche are the other upper-class women. The men (and of course Rose) all seem to like her just fine.
Max Shreck, the crooked tycoon in Batman Returns. He actually turns the stereotype on its head by mocking Bruce Wayne for having inherited all his money, while Max had to work hard (and break the law) for all of his. (Sharp-eyed viewers will note that Max and his son wear fur-lined overcoats, which were once the preferred fashion of this social group.)
This is how Franco Zeffirelli depicted the Capulets (Juliet's family) in his version of Romeo and Juliet. This is emphasized through Color-Coded for Your Convenience: the Capulets and their retainers are dressed in loud, bright colors, while the Montagues (the older and more respected family of Romeo) favor more conservative clothing hues.
The Spanish movie Hay Que Educar A Papá shows two families: Rich, aristocratic High-Class Glass -wearing Count De Ronda versus hard-working Self-Made Man Severiano Paredes who lacked social graces but made money with his work. Their children want to marry. Paredes's daughter convinces her dad to become a Nouveau Richeon purpose to impress De Ronda.
Jim the broker from Boiler Room has a multi-room McMansion in an exclusive neighborhood, complete with tanning bed in the dining room and an expensive home theater setup in the living room - and almost no other furniture. The protagonist's narration lampshades this, noting that the brokerage is full of guys like Jim who have no idea how to spend the millions they made.
In The Lady Eve, the Pike family is new money. The main character's father is a blue-collar man who made a fortune in brewing.
Really, this trope is very common in Genteel Interbellum Setting mysteries. In particular, Jews and American businessmen are almost always presented this way — although the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Whose Body? subverts both of these.
The Gardiners are an aversion, as they are literally Nouveau Riche who made their money in trade but are genteel, educated "people of fashion".
The Bingleys also made their fortune in trade, but — for reasons Austen never gets into — the youngest generation moves in the upper circles of the landed gentry, and Bingley's two sisters are snobs who look down on people like the Gardiners.
Also played with by Lady Catherine de Burgh, who is a member of the landed gentry and of old money, and fancies herself a classy Blue Blood — and yet is rude, ill-mannered, snobby and, compared to her (untitled) nephew, completely lacking in class as much as any stereotypically Nouveau Riche character. The point clearly being made is that a fancy title and the length of time someone's family has had their money has no bearing on a person's character.
The antique Roman author Titus Petronius in his satirical novel Satyricon (c. 60 AD) has Trimalchio, a freed slave that has come to untold riches, and who is an exemplary "Nouveau Riche". Petronius has him throw an exorbitant party, and the meticulous description of it is almost entirely dedicated to this trope (for comical effect). The "Feast of Trimalchio" is quite a famous piece of literature, and the trope therefore Older Than Feudalism.
Jay Gatsby of The Great Gatsby is an interesting take on the trope, inasmuch as his tackiness is presented as tragic, or at worst pathetic, more than anything else. Incidentally, F. Scott Fitzgerald considered titling the novel either Trimalchio in West Egg or simply Trimalchio, as a Shout Out to Petronius and his Satyricon; however, he was persuaded that most readers wouldn't get the reference (and they wouldn't).
She may not necessarily be tacky per se, but Lina Broud of the Luxe series uses this trope as the reason for her rise in status (rather than the truth, which is that she's just a maid that used deceit to get what she wanted).
In The Count of Monte-Cristo, the villainous Danglars is described as a stereotypical Nouveau Riche, with an appearance as repellent as his personality. In contrast, the Count is himself Wicked Cultured despite having spent most of his life as a humble sailor and prisoner. It seems that the lowborn will only develop shallow tastes in response to riches if they're bad people to begin with.
In Vanity Fair, the three main families, the Sedleys, Dobbins, and Osbournes all made their money in trade. The Dobbins kind of fall into the "lack of class" version, being very recently wealthy, but the novel has its contempt overwhelmingly for the Osbournes, who reached high society slightly before the others, and have become snobbish *
in fact Thackeray himself coined the word snob, and his meaning had the connotation of someone who is new money and gets above themselves — in contrast to a nob, who is an old money aristocrat
Deconstructed in Matthew Reilly's Jack West series, when the House of Saud is dismissed by the Royal Houses of Europe as "new money" because they made their fortune by selling oil to the West. However, they are shown to be very similar (but not in a good way).
Frederick Winterbourne's main problem in Daisy Miller is that his aunt and every other American in Europe keeps telling him that the titular heroine, whom he is falling for fast, and her family are this.
Although there aren't really any characters who fit the type, Night Watch contains several references to the New Russian described below, particularly their use of bodyguards and participation in shady business, as well as their ostentatious use of wealth.
Referenced in a couple of Discworld books, mostly to play up the aristocrats as terrible snobs. Although Seldom Bucket in Maskerade ("You may think I'm just big man in cheese who wouldn't know culture if he found it floating in his tea.") comes close to an actual example.
In the Sweet Valley High books, Lila Fowler's family was looked down on by Bruce Patman's family because they were considered this.
In the novel Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, about a middle-class girl at an elite prep school, there's a paragraph where the protagonist explains how she learned the difference between Blue Bloods and the Nouveau Riche: "At the time, it surprised me how openly Martha referred to the Maxwells' money, and later, when I went to Martha's family's house in Vermont the first time, I could see that they, too, clearly were wealthy. But there were different kinds of rich, I eventually realized. There was normal rich, dignified rich, which you didn't talk about, and then there was extreme, comical, unsubtle rich - like having your dorm room professionally decorated, or riding a limousine into Boston to meet your mother - and that was permissible to discuss."
Averted in Les Misérables. Valjean, a parole-breaking convict with nothing to his name but some stolen (and not-so-stolen) silver, invents a new manufacturing process which reinvigorates a small-town factory. This results in him eventually becoming the owner of the factory and then mayor of the town, apparently amassing a huge fortune in the process. However, he never flaunts his wealth, only spending the bare minimum on himself, although he spares no expense in raising Cosette.
In David Brin's Existence one of the other aristocratic rocket-racing kids tries to insult Hacker by calling him "new money". Hacker's retort is that his family's wealth goes back generations, to the 20th century. His mother isn't much different than the other aristocrats of the mid-21st century, just a bit less inbred and more inclined towards science.
This forms the difference between Lestat and Louis in Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles books. Lestat comes from an Impoverished Patrician family in France who slept with their dogs and actually hunted for food. He gained his wealth from his vampire maker, after the latter committed suicide. Meanwhile, Louis is a slave-owning plantation owner from Louisiana, whose family started putting on airs of what they thought aristocracy was supposed to be about. In fact, Louis had trouble, at first, beliving that Lestat was a Blue Blood. At the same time, throughout the series, Lestat is the one who spends frivolously and doesn't even really know how much money he has. In fact, his nickname among the vampires is the "Brat Prince".
In Gilmore Girls, the Gilmores have been a well-respected and wealthy family for over a hundred years — but they're still considered Nouveau Riche trash by the Huntzbergers, who have been rich for centuries. Even by the gold-digging, former bar waitress matriarch who (it was implied by an angry Emily while chewing her out) only managed to marry into the family because she got pregnant.
In the third Blackadder series, it looks like the Prince Regent will have to get married for the sake of his finances, and since none of the traditional aristocratic options are available and/or suitable, he ends up pursuing the daughter of a Nouveau Riche industrialist. It transpires that the industrialist isn't actually as rich as he pretends, and is just trying to get at the Prince Regent's supposed wealth.
The Harry Enfield character Mr Considerably-Richer-Than-You. Loadsamoney is the same sort of character on the way up.
A Royal Pains episode features a couple who's this trope. They are from Nebraska and have won the lottery. The husband becomes Hank's Patient of the Week because he has gout due to all the expensive food his wife made him eat.
Richard DeVere in To the Manor Born, in stark contrast to Impoverished Patrician Audrey fforbes-Hamilton. Where Audrey has the social status and roots at Grantleigh Manor, she has no money to keep or maintain the manor. Richard does, and he is decidedly new money - a self-made grocery tycoon originally from Czechoslovakia who boasts that he will be able to turn Grantleigh into a modern, profitable farm... without really knowing anything about farming.
Clo Villagra, the mother of the two romantic female leads, became this due to a very succesful catering business that she built with the money coming from her dead husband's inheritance. What Clo and her family didn't know, though, was that said riches came from dirty businesses. Which brings the male lead Octavio into their lives, as he's an Impoverished Patrician whose family was the main victim of said tricks and lost their own wealth due to them.
Clo's sister and business partner Leonor also was this, but she was portrayed as so incultured that Chilean slang coined the derisive nickname "cuicante" (mesh of the words "cuico" and "picante", which can mean "snobbish" and "vulgar" in Chile) specifically to refer to nouveau riche.
Also the Sa-Sa (Salinas Sánchez) family from the more recent Chilean soap Brujas, who won the lotto and turned into this. They were mostly Played for Laughs, though, so they became the Ensemble Darkhorses of the series and even got their own Spin-Off.
Castle has a Victim of the Week who became this after winning the lottery, though he mostly just spent money on anything that caught his eye and was a decent guy otherwise. Castle actually sympathizes with the guy since he was still in college when his first book became a bestseller and he also spent his new fortune on all kinds of stuff without a second thought.
In Boardwalk Empire, black Prohibition gangster Chalky White was born to an uneducated poor family, but made millions through his criminal enterprises. He wears fine suits, drives a ostentatious car, and has married a light-skinned, classically educated wife. Their children are raised from birth to be wealthy. He's called out for being uppity by both black and white characters and suffers from culture clash within his own family.
In Downton Abbey, this is played with in the case of Mathew and Isobel Crawley, who come into money and status very suddenly when Mathew is pronounced as the heir of the Earl of Grantham and moves to Downton Abbey; the show basically shows why this trope exists with how many weird new customs the two must adjust to in order to fit in with the noble Crawley family. The trope is played perfectly straight, though, with Richard Carlisle, who frequently betrays his bourgeois origins with his lack of propriety and manners, and contempt for the household staff - and completely averted with Mathew's fiancee Lavinia, a daughter of a Self-Made Man who is one of the sweetest, politest characters on the show, and thus fits in perfectly at Downton.
It is not known whether "Million-Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase fit this trope exactly, but he certainly acted like it. (His son has taken a more low-key road.)
The kayfabe explanation for his purported wealth was due to a massive insurance settlement after his father "Iron" Mike Di BiaseDied In The Ring, so this trope definately applies.
The Fabulous Moolah, greatest Women's Champion of all time.
It's subtle, but the ExaltedSourcebookMasters of Jade has shades of this in terms of the most successful Guild merchants; a lot of emphasis is put on members of various ranks who came from humble beginnings and scraped their way up the ladder with inventiveness and ambition. Tends away from A Fooland His New Money Are Soon Parted; the Guild is generally designed around the idea that nobody without the financial savvy to retain their wealth will get very far with it. Serves as a contrast and parallel to the line's earlier introduction of the ScarletDynasty.
In Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (The Would-Be Noble), Moličre acidly criticizes this trope through Monsieur Jourdain, the pretentious and snobbish bourgeois main character. He takes the chance to throw pot shots at aristocrats as well, though.
The Hubbards in The Little Foxes remind William Marshall that they are not aristocrats but traders as they close a deal with him that will make them definitely rich.
Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier, who is willing to strain his failing health to arrange the marriage of his daughter to a real aristocrat.
The title character of Giacomo Puccini's opera Gianni Schicchi is a member of the Nouveau Riche.
Played for Laughs in Finian's Rainbow, where the residents of Rainbow Valley (to quote the script) "can now afford to stop wanting things they can buy and to start buying things they don't want."
In Bully, one of the Preps Tad Spencer is new money, a fact he is ashamed of and tries to mask it by speaking with a stuck-up British Accent.
In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, there is a poor man on Windfall Island who begs and moans for you to rescue his kidnapped daughter Maggie. When she is rescued, she brings back a load of Skull Necklaces (which look like junk but are secretly worth a lot of money), which he uses to become rich overnight. This turns him into an extremely arrogant rich man. He's not too popular. He plays a direct Foil to an Impoverished Patrician on the same island: see that trope page for details.
The problem is that how he got rich isn't really explained making it look like he got paid by the former rich guy on the island turning him into the Impoverished Patrician.
Happened in an episode of DuckTales, which also spoofed Romeo and Juliet. With a Cave-Duck Romeo (who had been adopted into Scrooge's "old-money" family) and a modern duck Juliet (whose family had just won the lotto).
Also done with a one-off character in another episode, a homeless man who found a priceless painting. He buys his way into party after party, eating all the hors d'oeuvres he can get his hands on.
Arthur: Ed Crosswire and family got rich this way.
Rugrats: When Chuckie's father won the lottery, he enrolled Chuckie into a (whatever education establishment kids around his age attend) for rich kids. The other kids didn't want to become friends with him because he was "new money".
In Futurama episode Three Hundred Big Boys, every American receives a three-hundred dollar tax rebate, including the constantly poor Zoidberg. He spends the whole episode doing "rich person" things — ordering the most expensive thing on the menu, shopping for jewelry, and playing golf. As it turns out, he enjoys none of these things, and learns to appreciate the squalor in which he usually lives.
This is actually a common theory regarding social structure. Wealth is only one of the factors - the others being connection and breeding. This is why a person from poverty who just won a lottery would behave differently despite becoming a millionaire - the person might have the wealth, he or she doesn't have connections or the proper "breeding" to behave like an upper class. Plenty of stories of people spending their cash won from lotteries or contests, or other overnight millionaires, end up losing most of their cash by compulsive spending or poor decision-making are attributed to this theory.
"New Russians" was the Russian term for this in the early post-Soviet years for Russians who were suddenly incredibly wealthy, but perceived as terribly uncultured (i.e. unfamiliar with upper-class culture) and boorish. Extravagant spenders, they were the subject of a lot of typically great Russian humor, like these jokes:
Two New Russians were arguing at a bar over which had the fancier car, house, bling, etc. One says "See this necktie? Imported silk, cost me one thousand dollars American!" The other replies, "Bah! I know a place where I can get same necktie for ten thousand dollars!"
A New Russian crashes his brand new car. When he wakes up in the hospital ward, the nurse informs him of what happened. "No! Not my new Mercedes!" he whinges. The nurse goes on to say, "And unfortunately, your left arm was also crushed in the impact." To which the New Russian moans, "No! Not my new Rolex too!"
Parvenu — "upstart", 1802, from French parvenu, "said of an obscure person who has made a great fortune," noun use of past participle of parvenir "to arrive", from Latin pervenire, from per- "through" and venire "to come", used as a derogatory term by nobles who judged them undeserving of their new wealth. There's also the closely related arriviste, "pushy, ambitious person," 1901, from Fr. arriviste, from arriver "to arrive". The notion is of a person intent on "arriving" at success or in society, and means more "ambitious and unscrupulous".
While we're on this linguistical bent, there is also Hobnob, from the Old English, which carries similar connotations of transgressing social strata.
And "tufthunter", which referred to college students who tried to hang out with the nobility (who wore distinguishing tufts on their caps).
A late 1890's (English) newspaper editorial complained that the English nobility was losing its class, what with all the penniless aristocrats marrying off their sons to the daughters of filthy rich American cattle-barons and tycoons.
Donald Trump, to a degree. His father was a very successful low income housing developer in NYC, he sent Donald to Fordham, so his family was doing very well before. Donald just took his love of construction and everything else Up to Eleven.
Molly Brown, best known for surviving the sinking of the Titanic and demanding that her lifeboat return to the ship to search for more survivors.
Much like the "New Russians," we now have half a million recently-minted Chinese millionaires, most of whom are former "Little Emperors". As one might expect, they are reported to have rather crass tastes; the most disgusting (to purists) is the oft-repeated tale of mixing different fine wines in a punchbowl.
The children born to the first generation of post-reform entrepreneurs are known as the "fu er dai" (second prosperous generation), and are notorious for spending huge amounts of money (given to them by their parents, of course) on fancy European cars, designer clothes, and trips abroad. Lots of Chinese publications decry that the fu er dai, unlike their parents, have all the lavish benefits of economic reform, but never had to work or suffer hardship for any of them.
The Kennedys, often mistaken for Boston Brahmins, were actually excluded from that society for their Catholic faith. Family patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. was born into relative wealth, but made a fortune mostly in bootlegging.
The 'white shoe brigade', a group of businessmen in Queensland, Australia who had close ties with the state premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
Anna Nicole Smith - although the degree to which she fit this trope was embellished quite a bit by just about everyone responsible for promoting her cult of personality, including Anna Nicole herself. It is true that Anna (known as "Vickie" at that time) was living a working-class existence when she posed for Playboy in the spring of 1992, but that was largely by choice: she was raised in a comfortably middle-class household, got expelled from high school for delinquent behavior, and simply entered the job market rather than trying to complete her education.
Inverted with the original snobs. The snobs were early non-noble students at Oxbridge, who would have s.nob. (for sine nobilitate or "without noble title") put down in their entry papers. The snobs would act as sophisticated as they possibly could as a way of flipping the high-borns who looked on them the bird.
Some of the etiquette expected at today's classical concerts would have condemned modern audiences as this by the nobles who heard these works at their premiere. Concerts were intended as a place for the upper classes to socialize. Sometimes the audience's chatter would even drown out the orchestra, much to the annoyance of the conductor. In a letter, one 19th century nobleman complained about a commoner who sat quietly listening to a concert, calling him a slack jaw yokel. Bringing pastries to eat during the performance would have also been considered perfectly acceptable.
While not technically wealth (that was supposed to be nonexistent), after World War II there were plenty of Soviet jokes about Generals' wives, who received a lot of luxury items from the conquered territories. German aristocracy's gowns - present. Ability to tell an evening gown from a night gown... not so much.
John Steinbeck once said that "socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."
This is rather common among sports athletes, particularly those who come from low income families and/or turn pro with very little college experience. It's also not uncommon for retired athletes to go broke due to the lack of an income.
Part of this also comes from many professional athletes not understanding that the millions they earn a year (and the average career being barely even a decade long) is meant to last them the rest of their lives once they stop playing. Those who grew up poor tend to have no concept of retirement savings.