[[quoteright:216:[[VideoGame/MadTV http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ragstoriches_4355.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:216:Same guy.]]

->''"They call me new money, say I have no class. I'm from the bottom, I came up too fast..."''
-->-- ''Music/FiftyCent''

Character of poor or even modest economic standing becomes wealthy and successful. Can be the gimmick of an entire series, or the plot of a single episode.

Could also be the backstory of a wealthy character- explaining why he acts the way he does. Such as explaining why a wealthy man is so frugal (i.e. cheap), or explaining why he feels more at home among the poorer class.

Originating in the 18th and 19th centuries, it had been a ForgottenTrope, but the advent of the lottery and prominent RealLife examples have breathed life back into this.

The classic "[[Creator/HoratioAlgerJr Horatio Alger]]" version of the trope is that the protagonist [[SelfMadeMan lifts himself (or rarely herself) up to economic success]] by a combination of hard work and virtuous behavior. And a walloping dose of luck, [[LaserGuidedKarma which comes to the protagonist]] [[HardWorkFallacy because of their work and virtue]]. It fell out of favor around TheGreatDepression and has never quite recovered.

More modern uses of the trope are more cynical, and may feature the character getting their wealth through unethical or illegal means, and [[WasItReallyWorthIt discovering that]] [[LonelyAtTheTop wealth doesn't make them happy]], (i.e. ''Literature/TheGreatGatsby'') and might include an Anvilicious statement on why sudden wealth leads to corruption. If the plot for a single episode, will usually feature the character [[AcquiredSituationalNarcissism becoming haughty and vain]] and [[AFoolAndHisNewMoneyAreSoonParted eventually losing his or her money]] and [[StatusQuoIsGod returning to normal]], showing that they never needed money in the first place. Occasionally played, is the Aesop of preferring personal freedom over the trappings of success, especially when that success comes at the cost of [[SellOut compromising your pride and dignity]]. In such cases, the person who goes from rags to riches realizes that they are virtually owned by those to whom they owe their success; something that frequently happens in the entertainment industry. The [[AmbitionIsEvil darkest and]] [[CorruptCorporateExecutive edgiest versions]] of this trope sometimes overlap with FromNobodyToNightmare.

See also PrinceAndPauper and SelfMadeMan. When someone goes all the way from poverty to the throne it is RagsToRoyalty. An [[TheEpic Epic]] WarriorPrince who, by military conquest, goes from somewhat minor status to ruling an [[TheEmpire Empire]] is likely the YoungConqueror. A less noble example is the NouveauRiche. Other variations can probably be thought of. One is for this to be done focusing on a group(say a family, a nation, or a sports team) rather then an individual that does this.

When a character just as suddenly ''loses'' their fame and fortune, that might be the FallenPrincess, PrincessInRags or RichesToRags.

Not to be confused with the chestnut filly who won the 2007 Belmont Stakes.


* One African-American gentleman from an Ancestry.com ad says that his great-grandfather was born a slave but died a businessman. Possibly not as rich as other examples at the end, but among the poorest of starting points.

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''Manga/BinbouShimaiMonogatari'', Asu and Kyou briefly move in with their rich aunt, but choose to return to their normal lifestyle shortly afterwards.
* A major premise in ''Manga/SteppingOnRoses'' (''Hadashi de Bara wo Fume''), in which the poor and uneducated protagonist Sumi Kitamura is offered the chance to live a life of wealth and extravagance... but '''only''' if she is willing to leave her family behind to enter into a marriage of convenience with PrincelyYoungMan Soichirou Ashida.
** [[spoiler: Later we see that there's also a a RagsToRoyalty deal... since Sumi turns out to be Aiko Iijuin, the long-lost daughter of ''another'' rich family.]]
* ''Manga/LoveLucky'': Fuuta goes from living in a small room paid for with his modest wages to Ippongi Hills, the most high class, glamorous set of apartments in Tokyo so that he and his new pop-star wife Kirari can have easier access to each other in her off time.
* Liechtenstein in ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia''; her backstory shows her as a HeartwarmingOrphan dying on the streets because the Great Depression has crippled her country. She is rescued by Switzerland and adopted as his little sister in a CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming, and is now one of the richest countries in the world.
** For that matter, Swiss himself. Liechtenstein mentions that his own economic situation was ''not'' the best when he took her in due to the war and the GD, but some decades later he's living in a BigFancyHouse with her and is a quite more wealthy nation. (Not that he spends a lot, though.)
** Also the Netherlands. He's seen as a rather poor and struggling teenaged nation (while his younger sister Belgium is a ChildProdigy businesswoman), then he's seen under Spain's wing (that he's not too happy about), and later he has become quite the overseas empire... and a stoic, penny-pinching NonIdleRich.
** [[PrincelyYoungMan Luxembourg]], Netherlands' younger brother, is a case of this; at first his status as a NonActionGuy meant he was often bullied and pushed around by stronger countries, but [[BigBrotherWorship his admiration of the Netherlands]] meant that he decided to emulate his ways, and he then captured all of Europe's finances.
* Rukia Kuchiki from ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''. From a StreetUrchin who barely managed to survive to teenagehood with her friend Renji, to the adoptive sister of the leader of the ''very'' noble and filthy rich Kuchiki clan.
* Also used in ''Manga/HaouAiren'', where a girl who has to struggle with a part-time job, her highschool studies ''and'' taking care of her IllGirl widow mother and her cute little siblings... is suddenly thrown into a world of fabulous riches and luxury in UsefulNotes/HongKong, when it turns out that the handsome stranger whose life she saved is actually a highranked Triad leader who wants her as his mistress (and he also promises to send money to her family in Tokyo, so the girl's mom can have adequate treatment and she won't have to worry - and as far as we know, he keeps that part). Too bad this also brings [[BreakTheCutie HORRIBLE misfortune]] [[TheWoobie to the poor girl]], as the dude is a massive BastardBoyfriend ''and'' the people in their surroundings are corrupted to the core.
* Sheryl Nome from ''Anime/MacrossFrontier'' was a homeless StreetUrchin [[spoiler:after her parents were assassinated]] until she was picked up by Grace O'Connor, who became her manager on the road to stardom. Ten years of hard work ([[spoiler:and Grace's manipulations]]) later, and Sheryl is the most popular (and probably the richest) IdolSinger in the galaxy with a credit rating high enough to hire an entire high tech mercenary unit complete with their carrier flagship and SuperPrototype fighters for a high risk rescue mission with just her credit card.
* [[spoiler: Mariko Shinobu's family]] in ''Manga/OniisamaE''. According to their child, [[spoiler: Hikawa and Hisako Shinobu were very poor when they got married, then got progressively richer as Hikawa's novelist career flourished. (Though at the very high cost of [[YourCheatingHeart them growing apart]], as well as Hikawa [[TragicDream having to stick to his succesful erotica rather than the more meaningful (and genuinely good) literature he was fond of.]] GrowingUpSucks, indeed.)]]
* ''Manga/MayonakaNiKiss'': Widow Natori and her children when she marries a billionaire.
* Candace White aka Manga/CandyCandy is a HeartwarmingOrphan brought into the Legan family to work as a maid and a companion to SpoiledBrat Eliza, but at some point she catches the eye of the Andrees (a very highclass clan that the Legans are a branch family from). She first befriends the three boys of the Andree clan (Anthony, Stear and Archie), and later she's adopted into the Andrees per the orders of one of the leaders, Great-Uncle William [[spoiler: (Actually the identity of the ''fourth'' young man of the clan, Albert, the uncle of the three mentioned boys)]]. However, Candy becomes the RebelliousPrincess of the clan, refusing to bend over to the aristocrats and then deciding to become a nurse without their support.
** A more straightforward case would be Annie, Candy's "adopted sister". She was adopted by the rich Brighton family several years before, and the Brightons keep this as a secret since they're afraid that the [[FragileFlower already pathologically shy and insecure]] Annie will be ostracized and bullied. ([[StockShoujoBullyingTactics This turns out to be true, unfortunately]]). It takes Annie several years to fully develop into a stronger, more self-assured person.
* Yukiji from ''Manga/KamisamaKiss'' used to be a ordinary farm girl before being adopted into nobility. The heroine Nanami also counts, though with her it is more of a case of Rags to Godhood.
* In ''Manga/SakuraGari'', Dr. Katsuragi is implied to come from a low-middle class family since as a teenager he lived and worked as a servant in the ''very'' rich Saiki clan's BigFancyHouse while going through his studies. Now he both works in a famous hospital and is the personal doctor of his former protectors.
** [[spoiler: Souma Saiki, too. His MissingMom was an ImpoverishedPatrician and his PrincessInRags maternal grandma made him work in the streets. Then he was found by the Saikis clan and, since he was the most qualified to be the prospect heir (Youya was much younger and from an unhappy marriage), they took him in.]]
* You Houki from ''Manga/FushigiYuugi'' comes from a very poor country family, and she is taken by the Royal Court due to [[WorldsMostBeautifulWoman her incredible beauty]]. She is then made into a membress of Hotohori's harem, [[spoiler:and she eventually becomes his legal wife, the mother of his child, and the [[TheHighQueen Empress Dowager]].]]
* Robert E.O. Speedwagon, from ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'', was a destitute street thug when Jonathan Joestar first met him. After changing his ways, he went on to accidentally strike oil and become rich in the time between Parts 1 and 2, using his newfound fortune to found the Speedwagon Foundation, which funded medical and scientific breakthroughs and would assist the Joestar bloodline even after Speedwagon, himself, passes away.
* Katarina in ''LightNovel/DestructionFlagOtome'' was the spoiled brat daughter of a duke until one day she hit her head and woke up to the memories of her past life, a middle class Japanese tomboy, which becomes the dominant influence on her. Unable to take herself so seriously anymore she stops acting so ladylike and bitchy and starts plowing fields for fun, climbing trees, making friends with commoners and so on, much to the exasperation of everyone around her, especially her mother. While she may call herself Katarina and recognize Katarina's parents as her own, she's still basically that middle class tomboy.
* This is part of Rinne Berlinetta's backstory in ''Anime/VividStrike'' as an orphan who was adopted by fashion moguls.

[[folder: Comic Books]]
* In the short story in ''ComicBook/MyLittlePonyMicroSeries'' Issue #3 Hayseed Turnip Truck grinds himself up until he becomes a successful businessstallion.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* Parodied in ''ComicStrip/FoxTrot'', when Jason wins $10.00 - combined with his previous savings, he ''becomes a millionare'' [[spoiler:in Turkish Lira - 77,000 to the dollar.]] Sadly, his opulent lifestyle comes crashing down when he loses his entire fortune [[spoiler: buying five comic books.]]
* Subject of a gag in one Don Martin cartoon for ''Magazine/{{MAD}}'': a scruffy-looking panhandler hits up a man in a business suit. The suit-wearer snaps "Get a job!" as he stalks past. Cut to the panhandler, still sporting the same ratty outfit and hairdo, sitting behind a large desk in an office high up in a skyscraper.
* [[ComicBook/DisneyDucksComicUniverse Scrooge McDuck]] brings it UpToEleven. Born to a very poor family, he became the ''[[{{Fiction 500}} richest duck in the world]]'' through hard work and smarts.
* Zig-zagged in at least one ComicBook/RichieRich story which has a RichesToRags at the beginning and uses the rest of the story to describe the Rags To Riches result.
* In ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog'', this was mentioned to be Breezie the Hedgehog's backstory. With a little bit of backstabbing Sonic that's not mentioned.

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* Nav from ''FanFic/DiariesOfAMadman'' initially starts with nothing, but gains a lot of money after winning a few tournaments, selling human inventions, and [[PlagiarismInFiction plagiarising human art]]. Not that he has much use for, or understanding of just how wealthy he is.
* ''FanFic/GFSerendipity'': Fiddleford [=McGucket=] and Stanley Pines became wealthy entrepeneurs thanks to the former's inventions and the latter's salesmanship.

* ''Film/McLintock'' in the movie of the same name. When his daughter was a baby, his wife Katherine walked miles through the snow and traded her father's war medal for a case of condensed milk.
* ''Film/TheBlindSide'': Michael: from the projects to the wealthy household of the Tuohys to a multi-million-dollar NFL contract.
* ''Film/MrDeedsGoesToTown''
* ''Film/{{Midnight 1939}}'': From a penniless showgirl in Paris, to a Baroness of Hungary. Of course, not a ''real'' Baroness...
* ''Film/ForrestGump'': In addition to shaping mid to late 1900's pop culture and history, Forrest along with Lieutenant Dan become rich seemingly overnight in the shrimping business following hurricane Carmen destroying every boat but theirs. As Forrest puts it:
-->'''Forrest''': Shrimping became real easy after that
** In another example, Forrest donates most of the shrimping money to Bubba's family. His mother faints from merely seeing all that money.
* ''Film/PrettyWoman'' Vivian goes from heart-of-gold prostitute to a life of luxury with Edward, her sugar daddy and white knight.
* ''Film/CinderellaMan'' showcased the RealLife rags-to-riches story of boxer Jim Braddock. Happened against the backdrop of TheGreatDepression, making it all the more heartening that the man climbed out of absolute poverty on mostly guts and perseverance.
* ''Film/RepoTheGeneticOpera''': Self-description of Rotti Largo.
* ''Film/TheGlennMillerStory''
* ''Film/EdWood'' is a subversion. Ed and crew are in poverty and Ed always expects riches to come out of his movies, but anyone who watched his [[SoBadItsGood terrible (albeit amusing) movies]] knows that riches would never come. [[ThePollyanna That doesn't stop Ed from being perpetually hopeful and upbeat throughout the movie]].
* ''Film/SlumdogMillionaire''
* ''Film/BarryLyndon'': Redmond Barry, irish commonner, ends up a rich English nobleman married to beautiful woman. [[spoiler:Then subverted : Barry dies "poor and childless" as prophesised by the narration]].
* ''Film/{{Envy}}'': Nick Vanderpark (Jack Black) [[SelfMadeMan made himself a wealthy man]] by financing the development of a spray that vaporizes dog poop (hence the name "Vapoorize"). Tim Dingman (Ben Stiller), Nick's friend, best friend and former co-worker also becomes wealthy when Nick offer him partnership in exchange of Tim helping Vapoorize to be marketed in Italy. [[spoiler: It seemed they'd no longer be wealthy when Vapoorize was recalled from the market but then Tim thought about inventing Pocket Flan. How much they made from the idea is never revealed.]]
* ''Film/{{Limitless}}'': Having gained SuperIntelligence thanks to a [[AppliedPhlebotinum pill]], middle class Eddie Morra invokes this trope. Sadly, [[DeconstructedTrope it takes much more time than he wants to spend]], so he asks for a loan from TheMafiya and takes a credit from the CorruptCorporateExecutive.
* ''Film/TradingPlaces'': Both Billy Ray Valentine and Ophelia leave their rather humble Philadelphia roots to become absurdly wealthy by the film's end. The butler Coleman ends up being able to afford a butler. The most notable case is Winthorpe, who begins the movie rich, then is driven to homelessness and nearly suicide, and ends the movie having bankrupted the people responsible for his temporary destitution and it is implied he's far more wealthy than he was at the movie's beginning.
* The ''Franchise/{{Rocky}}'' movies, also about a poor Philadelphian finding success and the attendant riches. Particularly noticeable in [[Film/RockyII the second]] and [[Film/RockyIII third]] movies.
** A bit of LifeImitatesArt, Creator/SylvesterStallone was a former struggling actor who slept in bus terminals and did soft porn. ''Film/{{Rocky}}'' vacated the need for such desperate measures.
* ''Film/TrueStories'': The woman who won the lottery.
* Lonesome Rhodes of ''Film/AFaceInTheCrowd'', went from a drifter with only one spare shirt and a guitar to his name to having the top two floors of a New York Hotel.
* Mickey and her adoptive father Joe in ''Film/{{Mickey}}'', when Joe's gold mine finally pays off after 20 years.
* Robert Ford goes through this in ''Film/IShotJesseJames'', becoming a {{Prospector}} that uncovers a fair amount of silver. He does this in a ploy to win the hand of [[LoveInterest Cynthy]], but [[spoiler: she leaves him for someone else]].
* In ''Film/{{Napoleon}}'', the title character goes from being forced to fashion boots out of cardboard at his lowest point to being a war hero revered in all of France by the end.
* In ''Film/TheJerk'', Navin Johnson becomes fabulously wealthy thanks to inventing the Opti-Grab, but returns to rags thanks to a class action lawsuit. The tagline is even "A rags to riches to rags story".
* In ''Film/{{Deewaar}}'', Vijay goes from [[ShoeShineMister shining shoes]] to being able to buy an apartment building as a gift to his mother out of spite (she had worked on its construction, but was fired for breaking a couple of bricks).

* The ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen'' series contains a highly ironic instance of this trope. Tehol Beddict came from a very prominent but impoverished family and worked his way up to become one of the richest men in the country due to his business genius. He then gave up his fortune because he was disgusted with the debt-slavery system the country runs on, but not without causing an economic crash that saw many money lenders kill themselves. He then does it again during the course of ''Literature/MidnightTides'' and ''Literature/ReapersGale'', becoming insanely rich through fake companies while living in a hovel, then letting the economy crash to undermine Lether's new, even more oppressive, regime. This time around, though, this leads to him being hailed as a hero by the common people, who make him king.
* Virtually every Creator/HoratioAlgerJr story ever written follows this same plot. Poor boy works hard, is virtuous, and is helped by a kindly older man, and he eventually makes his fortune, relatively.
** In Alger's first book, ''Ragged Dick'', Dick is able to elevate himself from homeless bootblack to...entry-level {{Clerk}}. While the "riches" part may seem a bit underwhelming, there's no doubt he's better off at the end than the beginning.
** ''Ragged Dick'' itself was followed up by a sequel book that went more in depth on the "to riches" part.
* ''Literature/TheReynardCycle'': Reynard started life as a street urchin, but has become fantastically wealthy due to his superior mind. The money doesn't satisfy him, though. By the end of the third book, this is starting to become a case of FromNobodyToNightmare.
* In ''Literature/{{Neuromancer}}'', the protagonist undergoes this, going from a broke former console jockey to living the high life while on a mission.
* In ''Literature/CountZero'', Marly Krushkova is raised to wealth to perform a task by the incredibly wealthy recluse Joseph Virek.
* ''Literature/TheGreatGatsby'' shows the nasty side of this trope.
* ''Literatire/ASongOfIceAndFire'' demonstrates this in a similar vein to "Literature/TheGreatGatsby" with Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish, who was born into the poorest noble family in Westeros, but thanks to his financial talents [[spoiler: and a severe BreakTheCutie process in his childhood that inspired him to get back at the nobility]], he is now possibly the richest man in Westeros besides the Lannisters.
** And Bronn who by his own badassery alone [[spoiler: goes from sellsword to lord]].
** The Frey family made their fortunes through business yet the other Great Houses see them as wannabe upstarts.
** Ser Davos Seaworth Grew up in Flea Bottom as the son of a crabber and was a smuggler. However Stannis knighted him as a reward for smuggling food into Storm's End and even made him their Hand. In the TV Series Stannis even tells him "You'll be the first crabber's son to ever be the hand of the King." All this before he even learns how to read.
* ''Literature/SweetValleyHigh'' book #16: "Rags To Riches". Roger Barrett was living with his poor, sick, single mother in a shabby house. She dies and it's revealed that he is actually Bruce Patman's cousin. He moves into the Patman mansion and changes his name to Roger Barrett Patman for the remainder of the original series. [[spoiler: he dies in the earthquake]]
* ''Literature/TheAeneid'' is this in a sense as a small band of refugees is destined to be TheEmpire.
* ''Literature/MemoirsOfAGeisha'': poor girl eventually becomes a successful geisha.
* In ''Literature/CitizenOfTheGalaxy'': [[spoiler:The main character, Thorby, goes from literal rags (as a beggar and slave) at the start of the book to infamous riches (when he's returned to his wealthy dead parents' estate) at the end.]] The wealth ends up being a burden as much as a wish fulfillment: although he still gets to fight slavers, he does so in the most effective way via decisions and investigations behind a desk rather than in the most cathartic way via action and excitement on a ship.
* Lori starts ''[[Literature/AuntDimity Aunt Dimity's Death]]'' working as a temp and having lived in a succession of cheap apartments after her divorce. Most of her things are in boxes, and she sleeps on a mattress on the floor. She describes her feelings on seeing the Boston office of Dimity's American attorneys for the first time: "Great, I thought, Willis & Willis Meets the Little Match Girl." After coming into her inheritance, she at first displays a certain reluctance to spend money, but eventually is found consigning her old wardrobe to Oxfam in favour of items like silk-lined custom trousers, handmade Italian boots, and a sumptuous black cashmere swing coat. "I'd never been a clotheshorse, but I was learning fast."
* ''Literature/HarryPotter:'' goes from wearing his cousin's ill fitting hand-me-downs, to learning that he has a vault full of gold that he has inherited from his well-off parents, and then he inherits Sirius Black's estate. We never really find out just how much he inherited from either, but the Potters and Blacks were both old, well heeled, Wizarding families.
* Pular Singe, from the ''Literature/GarrettPI'' series, goes from browbeaten indentured servitude to a gang boss among [=TunFaire=]'s lowest-of-the-low minority (ratpeople), to a junior partner in Garrett's investigations and up-and-coming investor in Amalgamated. Not rich by human standards, but an unprecedented success story by those of her own kind. And she's still young.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''
** Samuel Vimes stumbled his way into this, and has managed to constantly stumble his way into more wealth, titles, and fame since the whole thing with the dragon. He's somewhat reluctant about the whole thing.
** Harry King started as a street urchin who lived off other people's garbage. He realized that what is garbage to some people is actually valuable to others so he started a garbage collection and recycling business, dealing in everything from scraps to night soil. By the time of ''Discworld/GoingPostal'' he is one of the richest men in the city. Then he decides to invest in the newly invented steam railway and becomes the Disc's first rail baron.
* Eve Dallas of the ''Literature/InDeath'' series goes from underpaid police lieutenant to beloved wife of [[{{Fiction 500}} Roarke, the richest man both on and off the planet]]. She tries desperately to ignore the millions that Roarke quietly keeps slipping into her bank account.
* The nation of Cuba in ''Literature/WorldWarZ'', due to the onset of the ZombieApocalypse and the (rather ironic) influx of North American refugees, along with a fortuitous change of heart from Castro.
** The United States' devastated economy is trying to invoke this trope following the war.
* In ''Literature/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'' the titular hero, a boy from a '''very''' poor family (they don't even have enough to eat!), becomes heir to Wonka's, well, [[TitleDrop chocolate factory]].
* ''Literature/{{Sharpe}}'' uses this as part of General Calvet's BackStory. Calvet proves to be NotSoDifferent from Sharpe, who also rose from humble beginnings, and even collaborates with him on occasion.
--> '''Calvet''': Would you care for some soup?
--> '''Ducos''': I eat soup for dinner, not breakfast.
--> '''Calvet''': I eat soup with every meal, to remind me of all the meals when I didn't even have soup.
* In ''Literature/TheCountOfMonteCristo'', Edmund Dantes takes such a journey.
* According to the ''Literature/TheHistories'' of Herodotus, the famous courtesan Rhodopis of Naucratis was originally a Thracian slave sold into Egypt, where she was bought and set free by the merchant Charaxus on account of her beauty. Shen then becomes a 'hetaira' (courtesan), a business which makes her rich and so famous "that every Greek knew the name of Rhodopis". Some even say she was so fantastically wealthy that she had a pyramid built for herself, but Herodotus rejects this as a ludicrous exaggeration.
* ''Literature/WolfHall'' opens with the boy Thomas Cromwell having to flee from his abusive father, an improvident brewer and smith. After a spell as a soldier in Europe he becomes a cloth merchant in Holland, then returns to England, takes up the law, and enters the service of Thomas Wolsey, which opens the way for him to become one of the most wealthy and powerful men in the land. Cromwell raises the fortunes of his family in the process, raising his son to be a gentleman and paving the way for his wards, Rafe Sadler and Richard Cromwell (formerly Williams) to become powerful figures in their own right. From the standpoint of Cromwell's enemies, he goes FromNobodyToNightmare.
* ''Literature/JourneyToChaos'': After living on the streets, [[spoiler: Zettai]] is adopted by Basilard Bladi, the chief of the Bladi Clan. This means she now has servants making custom-fitted clothes for her.
* ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'': Kaladin is a darkeyed peasant, and while he is theoretically high-ranked in his town, the fact that his father refuses to charge money for surgery keeps their funds sharply limited. Then Kaladin goes to the army, gets made a slave, and gets made an even worse slave. When he [[spoiler:saves Highprince Dalinar and his army]], he is promoted to captain, a rank darkeyes aren't even supposed to have--and he's ''paid'' like a battallionlord. In [[Literature/WordsOfRadiance the second book]], he earns more in his first few weeks than he did in the entire rest of his life combined. It says a lot about Kaladin's depression that he spends most of the book wondering how this new fortune will be taken from him.
* In ''Literature/TheMayorOfCasterbridge'', Michael Henchard starts out as an itinerant hay-trusser, walking from town to town in search of work and lodgings, with no more than a few shillings in his pocket. Eighteen years later, he has become a successful grain merchant and mayor of his hometown, with a fine house and furniture to match. Unfortunately, he goes from riches back to rags after a series of bad decisions, and by the end of the novel, he has had to go back to being an itinerant hay-trusser.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheBeverlyHillbillies''; the ExpositoryThemeTune tells the whole story.
* ''Series/TheFreshPrinceOfBelAir''
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** Davos grew up in Flea Bottom as the son of a crabber, worked his way up to smuggler captain, became a knight for smuggling Stannis food, and is now King Stannis' Consigliere and was even made his Hand. Stannis even tells him "You'll be the first crabber's son to ever be the hand of the King." All this before he even learns how to read.
** Littlefinger worked his way up from the very lowest of the nobility to Lord of Harrenhal and consort to the Lady of the Vale through his skill at moneymaking and XanatosSpeedChess.
** Xaro Xhoan Daxos rose from a penniless immigrant to one of the foremost men in Qarth.
** Bronn begins the series as a grubby sellsword in the Riverlands, and successively becomes Lord Commander of the City Watch, a knight, and finally is set to marry into a lesser noble house. The marriage deal is reneged upon by Cersei, although Jaime promises Bronn a better marriage when they return from Dorne.
** Janos Slynt, a butcher's son, rose to Lord Commander of the City Watch and then Lord of Harrenhal until Tyrion banished him to the Wall.
** A famed Westerlands story tells of how Lann the Clever, patriarch to House Lannister, managed to swindle the ruling House Casterly out of their castle of Casterly Rock.
** The Cleganes' grandfather was the kennelmaster serving Lord Tytos, who knighted him for saving his life from a lioness.
* The final season of ''Series/{{Roseanne}}''
* The end of ''Series/OnlyFoolsAndHorses''
* Inverted on ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment''. Actually, it's the whole premise of the series - a wealthy Southern California family loses their money and many members have to deal with actually working for the first time. HilarityEnsues.
* The premise of the new series ''Windfall''; twenty people share a lottery jackpot, to the tune of about 17 million ''each''. It's played for drama.
* In British comedy/drama series ''At Home With the Braithwaites'', the mother of the family wins 37 million pounds on the lottery... and doesn't tell her family for weeks. Naturally, wacky hijinks ensue.
* In ''Series/{{Farscape}}'', the crew of Moya starts off as a penniless band of escaped prisoners. They even come close to starving. However, after robbing the alien equivalent of Fort Knox they're more or less flush with cash for the rest of the series. It doesn't hurt that half the time the traders they come in contact with don't survive to collect their fees.
* Ryan from ''Series/TheOC'' is a poor kid who is taken in by the very wealthy Cohen family. Sandy Cohen has this as his back story, as he was poor before he married Kirsten.
* In ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' it is revealed that [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Lionel Luthor's]] parents were drunken, abusive, and poor. He himself is one of the riches men on the planet thanks to a large of number of not quite legal dealings.
* ''Series/{{CSINY}}'' Sid Hammerback the coroner is pretty much a working class guy, managing okay but by no means wealthy-until his new pillow design is sold to a Japanese group for over 20mil.
* Part of mankind's BackStory in ''Franchise/StarTrek''. A couple of centuries before the series begins, humanity has warred itself to near extinction following a [[WorldWarIII third World War]], complete with a wrecked Earth and barely any resources. Then a scientist builds the first prototype starship and attracts the attention of the Vulcans, and in the space of barely a century, disease, hunger, and poverty are ''eradicated''. The turnaround is so drastic that the idea of "needing money" is a vague and distant memory. This complete 180 is a major defining plot point in human history, it's RagsToRiches on a planetary scale.
* The ''Series/{{Desmonds}}'' SpinOff ''Porkpie'' opens with the title character winning the lottery.
* ''Series/{{Scandal}}'': Harrison's {{Backstory}}.
* Martok in ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' was a Klingon peasant who became ruler by being tougher then any Klingon in existence.
* The discovery of Cheese Station C in ''Literature/WhoMovedMyCheese''.
* The 2014 revival of ''Series/{{Cosmos}}'' features two examples from history. Tyson is sure to point out how luck and open-minded policy allowed these geniuses to make their discoveries.
** Joseph Fraunhofer was an orphan and [[IndenturedServitude indentured servant]] in the Bavarian royal glassmaker's factory and house. Ironically, he got his break when the house ''collapsed'' and [[RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething Prince Maximilian]] led the rescue efforts, subsequently giving Joseph money and an education. Fraunhofer eventually became the head of the Optical Institute because his genius with optical glass turned Bavaria into an economic powerhouse, and he also discovered [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraunhofer_lines Fraunhofer lines]]. (However, he died at the young age of 39; many glassmakers of the time met a similar fate due to the toxic fumes.)
** Michael Faraday was a poor boy and a tradesman who never finished his schooling, but he impressed Royal Institute scientist Humphry Davy with a book of scientific notes on Davy's demonstrations. Faraday went on to make all sorts of discoveries in electricity and electromagnetism and wound up running the Royal Institution himself.
* ''Series/{{Rags To Riches}}'' was a two-season musical show about five orphan girls adopted by a millionaire. Think ''Series/KidsIncorporated'' meets ''[[Series/TheFreshPrinceOfBelAir Fresh Prince]]''.
* On ''Series/{{Empire}}'', a major part of the Lyon family's backstory is going from rags to riches. Lucious and Cookie were selling drugs in the streets of {{Philadelphia}} to fund the titular record label, which eventually leads to Cookie spending 17 years in prison. Meanwhile Lucious manages to make Empire into a multimillion dollar business, and the Lyons are obscenely rich by the time the show starts.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Ronald Singh was an impoverished, juvenile delinquent who went on to become Kade Merek, the most popular player in ''TabletopGame/{{The Splinter}}''; an enormous, ever-changing, labyrinthine world that's used for gladiatorial combat and dungeon crawls. It has made him fabulously wealthy.
* ''TabletopGame/WarhammerAgeOfSigmar'': The Kharadron Overlords' society, as a sort of plutocratic meritocracy, enforces this: No one is born rich, not even if your parents are admirals. ''Everyone'' must start from the bottom and claw their way up. But, if they're good, ''everyone'' can climb another step. Every admiral you see among them (which, as the "plutocratic" part explains, are filthy rich) was a simple crewman with a pistol, a sword and a paltry couple of coins once. [[RichesToRags And they will kick you back down if you mess up too often]].

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Billy Lee Promotions touted Sweet Georgia Brown as a rags to riches success story made possible by pro wrestling but despite being popular enough to have her own trading cards she saw very little of the money, wasn't allowed to open her own bank account and remained in rags.
* "[[Wrestling/DustyRhodes I have wined and dined with kings and queens, and slept in alleys chewin' on pork-n-beans]]."
* After the failing in the NFL Wrestling/BobSapp skirted the poverty line until the promoters of Wrestling/{{All Japan|ProWrestling}}, [=K1=] and Pride Fighting Championships saw his matches from Wrestling/{{N|ationalWrestlingAlliance}}WA Wildside and decided they wanted him. He wound up being a decently paid pro wrestler, better paid kick boxer and the highest paid mixed martial artist.
* During August 2013, Magnificent Championship Wrestling put tryouts in a 'Rags To Riches' battle royal, giving the winner a title shot whenever they wanted.[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'', there's a town called Windfall Island which contains a rich man and a poor man, both of whose daughters have been kidnapped by the BigBad. You rescue the daughters about halfway through the game, and their fathers switch wealth (the rich man spends his fortune trying to rescue his daughter, while the poor man ''makes'' his fortune selling rare necklaces his daughter brings home).
* Every ''Videogame/HarvestMoon'' game begins this way. The standard is to give you a couple of farming tools and a single bag of seeds. By end game, most players would probably have obtained a ranch, upgraded their home to a fairly comfortable living space and make thousands of bucks a month off crop harvests and animal produce.
** A specific character in which this is {{Inverted}} for is Lumina from ''VideoGame/HarvestMoonAWonderfulLife'', if you marry her. She goes from living in a mansion and being one of the richest people in town, to living on a measly farm. She's [[HappilyMarried more than happy with it]] too.
* Pretty much every ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' game does this. At the beginning, you may have a few hundred Gil which can buy a Potion or two and perhaps slightly improved armor. By the end, you have hundreds of thousands of Gil and a full inventory of healing potions and equipment.
* In ''VideoGame/EliteBeatAgents'', you cheer on a pirate who has been left with practically nothing but his trusty bird, and he struggles to find lots and lots of treasures. If you succeed, the bird drops the trope title. In another mission, you cheer on an ex-oil tycoon who gets thrown out by his gold-digging wife after his oil wells run dry, and is determined to dig his way back back to riches.
* The plot of pretty much every ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAuto'' game involves a small-time criminal going to the top. The worst example is definitely ''San Andreas'', where CJ starts off as a gangbanger in a small ghetto with nothing but the clothes on his back and a bicycle, and within less than a year (In game time. In real time, people have completed the game in a day or less.) becomes [[spoiler: a millionaire, manager to one of the greatest rappers in the world, owner of various properties, including an airfield and a share in a casino, and literally controls the entire state of San Andreas.]]
** Rockstar has stated that they were tired of the implausibility of these plots, hence their decision to not rehash them in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoIV''.
** They did have Franklin in ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoV'' who pretty much goes from Rags to Riches like CJ as well, but that game had multiple protagonists and they (along with various other characters) were all {{Deconstruction}}s of how ''GTA'' protagonists were portrayed.
* The 1993 computer game "Rags to Riches - The Financial Market Simulation" from Interplay lets you make a fortune on the stock market with the money your parents have given you.
* This is literally a name of one of the scenarios in Sim City 3000, where you have to fix up a Crapsack Madrid.
* Louise from ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemElibe Fire Emblem: Rekka No Ken]]'' was a peasant girl that didn't have much aside of her archery skills, her kind heart and her incredible beauty. However, after she told a local rich bachelor (Lord Pent) that she'd protect him with her bow and arrows, he chose her as his wife over ''many'' more graceful and prettier girls. Now they're very HappilyMarried.
** Same goes to Louise's best friend and distant cousin, [[spoiler: Queen Hellene from Bern.]] [[BreakTheCutie It didn't]] [[YourCheatingHeart work half]] [[BrokenBird as well]] [[RichBitch in her case.]]
** Also sorta happens to [[spoiler: Serra]], who grew up poor and lonely in a [[spoiler: St. Elimine convent located in the Etruria/Ostia border]] before she was employed in the local court thanks to her [[WhiteMage healing abilities]]. She covers this up by [[spoiler: acting like a RichBitch [[StepfordSmiler to hide her abandonment issues]].]]
** And earlier, we have [[spoiler: Deirdre]] from [[VideoGame/FireEmblemJugdral Fire Emblem Seisen No Keifu.]] [[spoiler: She was a young girl living in seclusion and feeling that she was trapped in her forest village, then fell in love and married a local lord, and after her heritage as the long lost child of an imperial prince is discovered, she becomes an Empress. Too bad she had to be mind-wiped first and then have her first husband horribly killed by the second, though.]]
** A much darker example is [[spoiler: King Gangrel]] from ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'', as [[spoiler: a former StreetUrchin who rose to the top of Plegian aristocracy, and finally got the crown. And became TheCaligula. [[BreakTheHaughty And lost everything]]. And if you recruit him via Spot-Pass, he turns into TheAtoner.]]
* The cutscenes in ''VideoGame/RockBand 3'' give off this vibe (something that wasn't present before, by the way): your band starts off playing for enough money to share a single pizza, and along the way they become festival headliners, make a tour to Japan, and then one day [[spoiler:they get sick of all the fame and {{Loony Fan}}s harassing them, and so they vanish from the scene in a fake plane crash.]]
* This can happen in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' for a Dwarven Commoner Warden, who was born casteless (the absolute bottom-wrung of dwarven society) and was thus looked upon as less than a person before becoming a Grey Warden. In the time between the Warden leaving and then returning to Orzamarr, their sister Rica moves up in society when she becomes the mother of a noble's son and becomes a royal concubine. [[spoiler:After defeating the archdemon, the Warden becomes uplifted to a Paragon, a living legend among dwarves.]]
* ''[[VideoGame/TestDrive Test Drive Unlimited 2]]'' had the player character start off as a chauffeur who got fired sleeping on the job then after being offered a spot in a racing competition is given some money to buy a mobile home with a two car garage and a cheap starting car. By the time the main story is finished, that same character has four mansions scattered on two islands, two yachts, 63 cars (most of them million-dollar [[CoolCar hypercars]]),and a [[Fiction500 bank account of around seven figures.]]
* In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'', the main quest line of Act I centers around [[PlayerCharacter Hawke]], a refugee in the slums of Kirkwall, attempting to gather enough resources to become a partner in a Deep Roads treasure hunting expedition, which eventually brings in enough money to bring his family back into high society. It can go even further, in the endgame, where [[spoiler: a pro-Templar Hawke is appointed Kirkwall's new Viscount]].
* Real estate agent H. G. Higwig from ''VideoGame/MadTV''. He starts off as pretty much a bearded hobo. If you keep giving him profit by buying and selling studios, he'll get richer and richer until he's a smug businessman.
* In ''ThirdWorldFarmer'', once you work out the strategy, it becomes fairly simple to start getting ahead and even becoming rich. There is some debate as to whether this is intentional or not.
* Shun Akiyama, from ''VideoGame/{{Yakuza}} 4'', was a hobo living on the streets of Kamurocho. Then an explosion broke out from Millennium Tower one night (at the end of the events of the first ''Yakuza'') and money rained down upon the people. Akiyama snatched up all the money he could carry, and used it to start his own successful money lending business, Sky Finance.
* ''VideoGame/JonesInTheFastLane'' plays like this, especially if you choose a high money goal.
* ''NBABallers'': The original game has a "Rags To Riches" mode, where you take part in an InUniverse RealityShow where you're pick as a no-name baller from the streets, and set up to play in special tournaments against big name NBA Players. As you win tournaments, you get bling, like cars, a new house, your own personal basketball court... but the challenge is, [[AllOrNothing to keep it all, you have to win it all.]] And [[ExecutiveMeddling the producers of the show are biased against you, because if you lose, they get everything that would have been yours.]]
* [[VideoGame/AnimalCrossing Animal Crossing]]
** Tom Nook is a more [[TearJerker somber]] example. He left to go to the city to earn money, promising to never lose his way, but came back the Tom Nook we're most familiar with.
** In a sense, the player character starts off with virtually nothing but the clothes on his or her back. As you continue to play though, you'll make a lot of bells. Some of it will go to Tom Nook, but you'll eventually end up with a mansion full of stuff if you keep up with the payments.
* ''VideoGame/{{Overwatch}}'' has Lucio, who started off as a poor kid from a Brazilian ghetto before becoming an international music celebrity who also moonlights as a freedom fighter.
** In the same series, there's also Lucio's rival, Symmetra. She also started off very poor until the Vishkar corporation recognized her light-bending talent. They proceeded to take her off from home, and proceeded to groom her talent into their ace as she became proficient in constructing structures with HardLight enough that she brought Vishkar into the top corporates in the world and making her rich in her attempt to help people... though it's only lately that she thinks that maybe Vishkar wasn't so benevolent in helping the people as she thought to be. (Answer: They really aren't that benevolent. Lucio's freedom fighter shenanigans started because of Vishkar oppressing his ghetto)
* In the Commodore 64 game ''Rags to Riches'' you start out as a bum picking up loose change off the street and end up with a million dollars, if you're lucky.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series {{Player Character}}s almost universally start off as penniless prisoners (or in one case, a penniless shipwreck survivor). As you progress through the games, you usually find enough MoneyForNothing and more legendary artifacts than you can possible use, making you quite possibly one of the wealthiest individuals in all of Tamriel.

[[folder: Web Comics]]
* While they don't actually become richer in a monetary sense, Kazumi and Daigo from ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' are granted a title of nobility at their wedding (having formerly been run-of-the-mill infantrymen turned {{Mauve Shirt}}s).

[[folder: Web Original]]
* Phase of the Literature/WhateleyUniverse pulls a Riches to Rags to Riches move, getting kicked out of a fabulously wealthy family for having the gall to turn into a mutant. By the middle of the first novel, he's living in a basement room with almost nothing to his name, and having to eat his sister-in-law's 'cooking'. By the end of the eighth novel, he's a billionaire (again).
** In that particular example, much is made of the fact that he's got next to no poverty-level survival skills, having been trained nearly from birth to be a megabusinessman. It's only after his parents are forced to cough up ''three hundred million dollars'' in the first story that he's able to apply his elite financial skills and connections to reclimbing the billionaires' ladder. It's lampshaded by other students at Whateley on his first arrival that while he may have lost his family and 98% of his inheritance, he's still wealthier than almost all of the rest of the campus put together.
* The [[WebVideo/SuperMarioLogan SML Movie]] "Chef Pee Pee's Lottery Ticket" has Chef [=PeePee=] winning the lottery for a while.

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* One episode of ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' sees Ron pick up a cheque for $99 million dollars of fast food royalties as a ContinuityNod. It doesn't last.
* In the ''{{WesternAnimation/Futurama}}'' episode "Fish Full of Dollars" Fry becomes extremely wealthy after discovering that his old bank account is still active and has been accruing interest for 1000 years. The status quo is restored after Fry spends it all on anchovies.
** The Main cast also briefly became millionaires in the episode Future Stock. They return to rags, of course.
* In the ''{{WesternAnimation/Rugrats}}'' episode "Chuckie is Rich," Chuckie's dad wins the lottery and they briefly become very wealthy. Of course, thanks to the poor investment choices of CorruptCorporateExecutive Drew, who handles the money, the status quo is restored in the end.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'': David Xanatos once received an ancient coin from an AnonymousBenefactor (twenty years later revealed to be a [[StableTimeLoop future version]] of [[SelfMadeMan Xanatos himself]]), sold the coin and used the money to start his empire, eventually making himself a billionaire.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Doug}}'', Roger was originally ridiculously poor, to the point he had to live in a trailer. However, in the Disney reboot, his family struck big on a real estate deal, causing him to rival ''Bebe'' in terms of how rich he is.
* ''WesternAnimation/ShaggyAndScoobyDooGetAClue'': The first episode "Shags to Riches" had Shaggy inheriting his missing Uncle Albert's estate.
* The ''WesternAnimation/TopCat'' movie, "Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats" is precisely this to Benny.
-->'''Spook''': It's the old rags to riches story.
-->'''Top Cat''': Right, except Benny could never afford the rags.
* ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' has the family win the lottery and Peter alienates his friends with his newfound snobby attitude because of it. Not only that, but the family foolishly spend their money on trivial things until they go broke. The Griffins then get rich again through the lottery, only to go broke ''again'' a week later. Quagmire helps the Griffins out with the profits he made in his investment and the family manages to get back to where they were before the lottery.
* ''WesternAnimation/JonnyQuestTheRealAdventures'': Irina Kafka once it was revealed one of her ancestors was the real author of the sonata stolen by Franz Duntcheck.
* The ''WesternAnimation/OggyAndTheCockroaches'' episode "Saturday Black Fever" has Oggy striking oil and becoming this, [[spoiler:well, until Joey decides to do the same thing]].
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Jem}}'':
** Jetta is from a modest background and Roxy is apparently from a poor one however they're currently in one of the most popular rock bands in America. Roxy tried to invoke this further in "Roxy Rumbles" when she wins the lottery and goes to her hometown of Philadelphia to brag, however she ends up losing the money.
** One of their song montages shows The Stingers were like this when they first became a band. They played on the streets for pennies and lived on the streets because no one would let a new group play at their establishment. Eventually The Stingers became more popular until they're present time becoming rivals to Jem And The Holograms and The Misfits.
** Averted wth Jem And The Holograms. Their parents were decently well off however Jem is shown multiple times to be hard on cash despite being a world famous pop icon. Running a foster home is where most of her money goes.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Steven Universe}}'': Greg Universe was given 10 million dollars for royalties when his old manager sold his song as a burger jingle. Aside from a few indulgences here and there, and promising to set aside some for Steven's college fund, he remains a multi-millionaire, and chooses to continue living in his van because he's perfectly content with his life as it is.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Oprah Winfrey is probably as much of a living example of this trope as physically possible.
* Chris Gardner, whose rise from homelessness to top stockbroker was chronicled ([[VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory rather loosely]]) in ''Film/ThePursuitOfHappyness''.
* Due to the phenomenal success of ''Literature/HarryPotter'', Creator/JKRowling went from living on state benefits to being one of the richest women in the world.
* Creator/TylerPerry, at one point, ''lived in his car''. His plays/movies about SassyBlackWoman Mable "Madea" Simmons enabled him to move from the car... to a multi-million dollar mansion in Atlanta.
* Roman Emperor Diocletian worked his ways up the military and ultimately became emperor. It wasn't ''that'' uncommon in Rome, actually. If you were a ''really'' good member of the military and kept yourself away from the dangers in such an environment (injury, backstabbing, etc.), you could work your way up constantly and enact the trope. More than one Emperor aside from Diocletian arrived to power this way. (Now, whether they ''stayed'' there... that was something else)
* In the Eastern Roman Empire, the position of Emperor was literally open to everyone, allowing this to happen:
** Justin I was a swineherd from Macedonia who arrived in Byzantium with nothing but the clothes he wore but ended up making a career in the legions. He later had his sister move to Byzantium as well with her children and when he became emperor he made his nephew Justinian his closest advisor and successor. Justian ended up marrying a night club dancer who ruled with him as Empress Theodora and they were undisputedly among the most powerful people in the entire world at their time.
** Basil the Macedonian was born a peasant. In spite of his lack of education and limited experience in military and administrative matters, he became a favorite courtier of Byzantine Emperor Michael III and eventually succeeded him as emperor. He reigned successfully for 19 years, founded the Macedonian Dynasty and started the Macedonian Renaissance.
* UsefulNotes/ToyotomiHideyoshi. He's born as a sandal-bearer named 'Tokichiro Kinoshita'. Then he joins UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga, works his ass up to the point that he became Nobunaga's right hand man, avenges his death and finished what Nobunaga couldn't accomplish: actually ''unifying Japan'' and becoming the most powerful man in the nation. Although the immediate downfall of his clan immediately after his death can partly be contributed to his status; he couldn't even forge a Minamoto[=/=]Taira lineage as everyone knew his background, which made his family ineligible for the top posts in the country. He ruled as [[RegentForLife kampaku]]-- not a shogun-- because he was adopted by a Fujihara just before the fact, and his legitimacy was only sustained through his own power. (On the other hand, UsefulNotes/TokugawaIeyasu had been able to forge himself a Minamoto lineage and make himself eligible for shogun.)
* Young Dave Thomas was born to a poor, single woman, who gave him up for adoption. His adoptive mother passed away when he was six and his father was then left to move around (with Dave in tow) while he sought work. Thomas began working at the age of 12 (to help support the family), dropped out of high school, served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, learned how to cook, came back home, worked at a diner, married the daughter of the diner's owner, and got his big break by meeting Colonel Sanders and setting up a few Kentucky Fried Chickens to own and operate. When Thomas sold his [=KFCs=], which became very successful because of his hard work, he earned enough money to settle down, but invested it instead in his own fast food chain, and named it after his ginger-haired daughter: "Wendy's". (And he did go back to get his G.E.D.)
* Shania Twain had to help support her family when she was a teenager, after growing up very poor. She had to live out of her car when trying to break into the music business.
* Sarah Jessica Parker was born into poverty in Ohio, but was able to become a well known actress as a teenager (''Series/SquarePegs'') and a wealthy star through ''Series/SexAndTheCity''. She's even kept her family relatively close, as she bought her mother a house in New Jersey.
* Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger was a kid growing up in post-WWII Austria, with all the limited sources this implies. He got interested in bodybuilding, and once he moved to Munich to train in a better gym, Arnie lived there! Once finally fulfilling his dream of visiting the United States, attending the Mr. Universe in New York City, a famous gym owner in Los Angeles asked him to move there to train (and he accepted, despite all his possessions being in Europe). And his attempt at UsefulNotes/TheAmericanDream, which included working on construction in the off-hours, saw Arnie become the greatest bodybuilder of all-time, an action film hero with the biggest paycheck in Hollywood, and Governor of California.
* Basically [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rags_to_riches#Notable_people anyone listed here]]. This list includes the best example of a "rags to riches" president in American history, UsefulNotes/BillClinton, who was able to go from being a poor kid raised by a single mother (who would later marry and provide Clinton with a stepfather and his younger stepbrother Roger) to becoming a Rhodes Scholar and a succesful lawyer, eventually becoming Arkansas governor and then president.
** ''Second'' best. In terms of coming from absolutely nothing, UsefulNotes/AndrewJohnson has him beat. (Johnson's wife actually had to teach him to read. As he went on to become a U.S. Senator, and the house of Congress even more elite at the time than it is now, he obviously was a good study.) Oddly enough, they also share the distinction of being the only presidents to be impeached.
* Independent Minnesota author Amanda Hocking.
* Music/JustinBieber. He went from a poor kid with a single mother in low-income housing to one of the most well-known celebrities of today.
* Choi Sung-Bong. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BewknNW2b8Y Contestant who went from being in an orphanage and on the streets to international fame on Korea's Got Talent]], and is widely considered to be a male Susan Boyle.
* Susan Boyle is one of the most famous examples.
* The example from ''Film/TheBlindSide'' up in the Movie section really happened; Michael Oher is a real person, and one of the top offensive lineman in the NFL.
* UsefulNotes/GhenghisKhan was raised by a single mother (his father was murdered), his family was outcast and left to die in the steppes. He ended up conquering China and having all its riches.
* Creator/HideakiAnno was an out-of-work animator and university dropout when he and some peers made opening animations for a sci-fi convention called DAICON. The [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTB9rzP2efE opening animation for DAICON IV]] proved so popular that, even though they couldn't profit off of the video due to the unlicensed use of "Twilight" by the Creator/ElectricLightOrchestra and myriad cameos by anime and comic characters, they soon started finding work in the anime industry. Anno, himself, would go on to work on ''Anime/NausicaaOfTheValleyOfTheWind'' before founding Creator/StudioGainax, which became one of the biggest names in anime with such popular series as ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'', ''Anime/{{FLCL}}'', and ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann''.
* Andrew Carnegie went from being a very poor Scottish immigrant in his childhood, to telegrapher in his youth, ''to one of the richest men in the history of the United States (and the world) in his adulthood''. He spent most of his last years in [[UnclePennyBags big-scale philantropic work]]: you will see his name in many different places in the USA and the English-speaking world (e.g. Carnegie Hall, Carnegie Mellon University, Carnegie Medal).
* Common among founders of Chinese dynasties. For example, Liu Bang (Han) and Zhu Yuanzhang (among many others) began as peasant bandit leaders who eventually became successful.
* Creator/StephenKing was an underpaid school teacher who couldn't afford a telephone. Then he wrote ''Literature/{{Carrie}}'' and now his name is synonymous with the horror genre.
* Yelawolf was at one point ''homeless'' due to crippling skateboard accident in Berkeley, CA that crushed his dream of being a pro-skater. Then he became a rapper, and is now worth about $5 million.
* More or less everyone in some rapid-growth countries. "Tiger economies" such as South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong transformed from poor farmlands to world-leading business centers within a generation. The same thing goes for [[ArabOilSheikh some oil-exporting countries]], where standard of living has skyrocketed.
* Music/RingoStarr was raised in low-income housing in a single-parent family in Liverpool, England; his abusive father having abandoned the family when Ringo was very young. Ringo missed a lot of school as a boy as he was sickly; during one hospital stay, he was given a snare drum and drumsticks to play with. He fell in love with the instrument, took up drums [[note]]He was a [[TheSouthpaw left-handed]] musician playing the drums right-handed, which contributed to his unique style[[/note]], and joined Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, a popular local music group. As a fan and friend of Music/TheBeatles, he was asked to join the group not long after they signed to EMI, replacing [[ThePeteBest longtime drummer Pete Best]]. He became one of the most successful musicians in the world, providing the band with a solid backbeat and subtly innovative tone and fills, received the most fan mail of all four members, [[StepUpToTheMicrophone had a few lead vocals along the way]], and even contributed a few songs of his own towards the end of the band's career. He was among the first Beatles to have success as a solo artist, and had some success as an actor and session musician.
* Chinese actor/singer/songwriter/model Creator/KrisWu went from barely being able to afford a car, having to live completely alone multiple times throughout his childhood since his mother had to work in China, and joining SM so his mother wouldn't need to care for him to one of China's most successful and popular celebrities.
* Creator/HenrikIbsen went from rags to riches rather fast. Before his ''Theatre/{{Brand}}'' breakthrough, he had been on the poverty level for years, and pr 1866, he was known for owning only one coat, and at this point it was rather worn. The famous playwright slobbed around in Rome, looking like a bum, with an umkempt beard, holes in his boots and on his coat, wearing an old mormon hat. Then the money poured in - and the author´s first purchase was new clothes and a haircut.