Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense
: Daddy, did you go to the bathroom this morning? Carter
: Yeah. Lois
: And did you... clean up afterward? Carter
: Nah, I used to have a guy for that.
Basically when wealthy people have trouble grasping concepts that are a way of life for people without money. These people have been spoiled all their lives
, so they have had all these things taken care of for them. So when they try to do these things (by choice or not), they just don't get them.
Usually this is Played for Laughs
, since it's a form of saying "Money can't buy common sense". Yet it can be Played for Drama
, particularly if the character, through no choice of his own, lived in a Gilded Cage
and so is not to blame. The situation is sometimes accentuated to the point of hilarity or tragedy when such a character suddenly goes broke
and is forced
to face the realities of working-class (or worse) existence. The Prince and Pauper
often has the prince facing this problem.
Can overlap with:
- Socialite (most instances are, if the character is a lady)
- Upper-Class Twit (if this character doesn't really do much even by upper class standards)
- Valley Girl (if this character is fashion conscious and inarticulate)
- Rich Bitch (if this character is also malicious)
- King Incognito (if the royal is doing a poor job of blending in)
- Sheltered Aristocrat (a handsome and rich male who can be either malicious, naive or stupid)
- Royal Brat (spoiled youngster from a royal family)
- Lonely Rich Kid (rich kid, very isolated)
- Spoiled Sweet (sweet rich girl who may have a good heart while lacking in common sense)
- The Ditz (if this character's ignorance would be at least somewhat present even if they weren't rich)
- Nouveau Riche (if a lower-class character becomes wealthy and is very crass about it)
- Lots of Luggage (considers junk as "necessities", especially when camping)
Conversely, a Rich Idiot with No Day Job
would pretend to be like this, to make his masquerade more convincing.
This does apply in Real Life
, but no specific examples will be put here to avoid Natter
. And in some cases, contrary to the usual course of the trope where it's someone who is born into money, this can happen to people who were originally poor only to gain money
. Unfamiliar with the amount of money they now possess, they do silly things.
of Idle Rich
and Captain Oblivious
. A Super Trope
to City Mouse
Compare Fish out of Water
. Contrast Country Mouse
, Non-Idle Rich
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- The boys of the Ouran High School Host Club can't grasp normal commoner things like the supermarket. Haruhi, in the meantime, feels her blood pressure rising. Most of them love experimenting and experiencing commoner things - especially Tamaki.
- Nagi and Maria of Hayate the Combat Butler show this pretty well, though Maria is just Nagi's maid. When Hayate suggests using the subway, they're amazed. Nagi has gotten better about it due to Hayate's teaching.
- When Hayate is asked to go away for three days, he's given a million yen (about $10,000) for living expenses. He tries to protest, saying he could live in the lap of luxury for a year with that kind of money. Maria asks him to not bring any of it back.
- Which begs the question of what his idea of the lap of luxury is. It's a lot of money, to be sure, but it won't cover a full year's rent on a decent sized apartment.
- Given that Hayate had spent about half his life being the primary breadwinner for his worthless and wasteful parents, just being away from them probably counts as luxurious.
- On their trip through Greece, they use a helicopter. When Ayumu asks how expensive it is, Maria casually lists off a number in the billion yen figure.
- In Sgt. Frog, Tamama's first experience with human houses is billionaire Momoka's. He is then reunited with Keroro at the Hinatas' home, and proceeds to ask where the maids are, what kind of stores are in the house... (along with detailed descriptions of his opulent lifestyle). Keroro is left seething with jealousy.
- "Sometimes I break stuff just to watch them [the maids] run around." While Keroro is cleaning.
- Particularly in the anime version, Kodachi Kuno of Ranma ˝ could be seen as a rather dangerous variant of this trope — while she has the right background, she seems to be vaguely aware that the way she was brought up is not the way the world works. So she's determined to change the world to fit her views. This, then, is why she does stuff like cheat before fights or paralyze her potential love interests — she's so used to always having her way, to always winning, to always being the center of attention, that the possibility that things might not turn out this way drives her to overcompensation.
- Originally Sachiko from Maria-sama ga Miteru.
- In Pokémon Special, as Platinum Berlitz grew up as a Spoiled Sweet Lonely Rich Kid, she has trouble dealing with the Castle Point system at the Battle Castle, as this is the first time in her life that she has to deal with a limited budget to achieve her needs.
- Lucy's father in Fairy Tail.
- Pretty much every Noble in One Piece aside from a very few seem to think that anything can be done if they just throw enough money at it and have a high status. Also due to this they are morally bankrupt, and believe that the lower class are worthless trash due to the fact the lower class didn't "choose to be born noble".
- The Ojou of Seitokai Yakuindomo had trouble remembering the stairs of the school weren't escalators.
- Louise of Familiar Of Zero displayed this when she went undercover as a commoner. She wanted to maintain her high standard of living while pretending to be someone poorer, had difficulty not treating commoners like a noble would, and managed to gamble away their entire mission's funds before the end of the first day.
- As revealed in a side story, Princess Elizabeth from Nanatsu No Taizai is this. Not only has she never even seen a silver coin before but she also doesn't fully grasp the basic concept of what money is and its use.
- Tsumugi Kotobuki in K-On! is a more positive portrayal of this idea. Her Spoiled Sweet personality lets her approach the mundanities of less-affluent living as a novel concept to be explored like some great adventure (such as dagashi stores, pillow fights and working a part-time job at a burger restaurant). She almost reaches the I Just Want to Be Normal territory where later on the the manga she cuts herself off from the family fortune to live her life on her own terms without relying on her parents, and to be on the same level as her friends.
- Veronica Lodge of the Archie Comics doesn't know that camping should not involve telling your butler to bring you a first class dinner by helicopter to the woods.
- Also, she seems to think that, because she has such immense wealth, she must never ever have a job of any sort, even if it's just to pass the time.
- Veronica's twin, Lola, in the Cherry comic books. Very rich, yet prone to doing things like taking up witchcraft and having it backfire on her.
Film - Live-Action
- In Mean Girls, Regina George, the Queen Bee of the Plastics, is a specific example. She can rattle off several mostly-illegal weight loss drugs (most of which either were expensive before being banned or would be expensive to ship from countries where they're still legal). Yet, she didn't know enough about health and nutrition to know whether or not butter is a carb.
- This is most likely a jab at the stereotype of American teenage girls wanting to get thin the fast and unhealthy way than through actual healthy living.
- In Troop Beverly Hills, the main character is leading a troop of ersatz Girl Scouts, and at first treats it like lounging by the pool, including spending their first trip◊ "roughing it" wearing a mink coat, smoking a cigarette, and drinking chilled wine. And later, the troop spends a night in Beverly Hills Hotel, because the campsite is unsuitable for them, as the main character puts it, "there were no outlets, and, there was dirt and bugs, and it rains there."
- In Roman Holiday, Princess Ann gets so fed up with the demands and restrictions of royalty that she runs away and lives as a commoner for a day so she can experience "freedom." She's rather naive about a lot of things, particularly the fact that being a commoner has its own demands (such as actually having to work for a living).
- Largely the point of Arthur.
- Used in The Parent Trap: the twins and their millionaire rancher dad are used to camping, but his Gold Digger girlfriend isn't.
- Played for Laughs in Overboard - Joanna, the Rich Bitch, finds herself a Princess in Rags.
- Inverted in Coming to America. Akeem (Eddie Murphy) deliberately lives below his status as a Prince, cheerfully living as a blue collar janitor at a local burger joint in order to woo Lisa into loving him for who he is. He actually acclimatises quite well. It is actually his servant, Semmi (Arsenio Hall), who bitterly and reluctantly has to go along with all of this and complains about this manner of menial work and lifestyle being beneath him.
- In Mel Brooks's Star Wars parody, Spaceballs, the bratty Princess Vespa doesn't fare as well as the two smugglers she falls in with when the three of them get stranded in the desert. As the leader of the group struggles across the sands moaning "Water....Water....", Vespa feels like she's dying because she doesn't have "Room service....Room service...."
- Then there's the fact that she refuses to be rescued without her matched luggage, thought a hot-air hair drier was vital for traversing the desert, and the worst torment that can be inflicted on her is having her original nose restored after plastic surgery.
- Her father also thought keeping her original nose from being restored was worth the death of his entire planet. He's not too bright either.
- Grace in Dogville. Oooooh boy. And stubborn to boot.
- Too many people in Titanic.
- This is done to a disturbing degree in The Cook, the Thief, his Wife, and her Lover. Albert Spicca is rich enough to own a high class restaurant but is uneducated, rude, ignorant, and racist.
- Prince Edvard from The Prince And Me goes to an American college where no one recognizes him and he pretends to be a normal student. He actually keeps everyone from realizing who he is (until the tabloids find him) but his disguise is somewhat hurt by the butler who works for him in his dorm room.
Film - Animated
- Princess Jasmine in Disney's Aladdin never had to deal with money, so she nearly got in horrible trouble when she left the palace.
- Especially with the Islamic "eye for an eye" policy. Since she couldn't pay, that counted as thievery. And Islamic practice dictates that a thief get their hand cut off. Good thing Aladdin was there.
- Prince Naveen of The Princess and the Frog has this problem in spades. Fortunately his time with Tiana started him on the way to fixing this.
- Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan has Alek, a sheltered rich sort-of-prince, who, when disguised as a commoner, doesn't even know how to pay for a newspaper.
- Mary in The Secret Garden. She doesn't even know how to dress herself because "it was the custom" that she stood there like a doll and was dressed. Her gaining knowledge is rather helped by the maid not being a proper lady's maid who knows it's her job to brush hair and the like, so Mary has to do things an upper class lady would not normally have to do even in England.
- While his precise age isn't given, it's implied that Kal Zakath of David Edding's Malloreon managed to reach his late thirties to forties without ever having learned how to shave. Belgarath points out how surprising it is that the emperor of a culture that breeds ambitious backstabbers regularly let someone other than himself hold a razor to his throat. Belgarion, on the other hand, takes it as an opportunity to establish a peership between himself and Zakath.
- Michael Sevenson is the son of a wealthy baron on the Knight and Rogue Series, and even though he's been traveling and earning his own money for a year by the start of the books seems to have no ability to estimate the value on anything. Fisk often has to stop him from paying with the largest gold currency what's only worth the smallest brass coin.
- A theme of The Millennium by Upton Sinclair.
- Wooster of Jeeves and Wooster literally can't function without his valet.
As I stood in my lonely bedroom at the hotel, trying to tie my white tie myself, it struck me for the first time that there must be whole squads of chappies in the world who had to get along without a man to look after them. I'd always thought of Jeeves as a kind of natural phenomenon; but, by Jove! of course, when you come to think of it, there must be quite a lot of fellows who have to press their own clothes themselves and haven't got anybody to bring them tea in the morning, and so on. It was rather a solemn thought, don't you know. I mean to say, ever since then I've been able to appreciate the frightful privations the poor have to stick.
- When Morgase Trakand goes undercover to escape being made a puppet, she turns out to be comically bad at pretending to be a maid (and humility in general), making her disguise flimsy at best.
- British statesman Lord Chesterfield wrote about them in Letters to His Son: "He cannot withstand the charms of a toyshop; snuff-boxes, watches, heads of canes, etc., are his destruction. His servants and tradesmen conspire with his own indolence to cheat him; and, in a very little time, he is astonished, in the midst of all the ridiculous superfluities, to find himself in want of all the real comforts and necessaries of life." (letter 62)
- Confucius related an example of this in one of his parables. A Self-Made Man's second son is put in prison, and he wants to send his third son to pay the bail; however, his first son insists on going. The first son bribes an influential man, who convinces the Emperor to open the jails... and then the son, not realizing the connection between the two events, thinks it's a coincidence and asks for the money back. The man returns the money, but then tells the Emperor to kill the second son before opening the jails so people don't think he's soft on crime. When he finds out, the father laughs because he anticipated this would happen; he wanted to send the third son (who grew up rich) because he didn't know the value of the money, while the first son (who grew up poor) would pinch every penny and get his brother killed.
- Lieutenant Blouse from Monstrous Regiment has strong elements of this, but turns out to be a subversion; he's inexperienced, a bit naive and comes from a rather sheltered upbringing but he's not by any means stupid, even if he's not really cut out for field operations.
- In the Heralds of Valdemar, this is a regular occurrence with young Herald Trainees from privileged backgrounds. One infamous example involves a girl being set to stuff a chicken for dinner and confusedly replying that it already is stuffed— with its guts; she becomes the target of ribbing for weeks. All such incidents are played for a combination of laughs and sympathy, because Spoiled Sweet is the only kind of spoiled you can be and still qualify to be Chosen.
- That's the topic of the Pulp song "Common People": a ditzy rich girl asks a lower-class guy to introduce her to his world.
Rent a flat above a shop
Cut your hair and get a job
Smoke some fags and play some pool
Pretend you never went to school
But still you'll never get it right
'Cause when you're laid in bed at night
Watching roaches climb the wall
If you call your Dad he could stop it all
You'll never live like common people
You'll never do what common people do
You'll never fail like common people
You'll never watch your life slide out of view
And dance and drink and screw
Because there's nothing else to do.
- Mentioned in the Nik Kershaw song "Wide Boy":
He got no sense but he got money
He got no sense but he got overnight success
Exceed excess, exceed excess
- The Carrington sisters in Elite Beat Agents don't know how to eat bananas; they're too used to French or Italian food.
- Mitsuru Kirijo, the Ojou of Persona 3, is at a loss as to how to function in a fast food restaurant and (in a classic case of situational irony) is unable to buy food at a vendor's stand because it doesn't accept credit cards.
- Luke Fon Fabre of Tales of the Abyss starts out like this, as an effect of his Laser-Guided Amnesia and the fact that ever since he lost his memory, he hasn't been allowed outside his parents' manor. As a result, he doesn't even know how to buy things at a shop.
- Cave Johnson of Portal 2 fame owned Aperture Science, a major research corporation, and it is implied that he was at a time astoundingly rich. However, his own issues (such as the obsessive development of the Portal Gun and his original job, selling shower curtains) and idiotic financial decisions (or marketing Mobility Gels as pudding, compulsively buying moon rocks while his company was in financial straits) led to his downfall and may have contributed to his insanity.
- Two of the "core tenets" of Aperture, the Heimlich Counter-Maneuver and the Take-a-Wish Foundation, couldn't have helped, either.
- In Danganronpa's School Mode, the otherwise intelligent Byakuya mentions that while he's heard of them, he's never seen a toy-dispensing machine up close before. He finds the Monokuma-themed machine inside the school store intriguing enough to demand that Naegi show him as much as possible about how they work (one of the unusual conversations he has where he's not being condescending to Naegi).
- In Drowtales, when the drow search party reaches the surface:
- It's played straight with The Ojou, Ariel, who gets agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), and Liriel, her pampered slave, who doesn't know grass =/= "weed". Ironically in Liriel's case she's actually from the surface originally, being Diva'ratrika, the former empress, through a Fusion Dance, not that she knows this at the time.
- Subverted in that Kyo, probably the wealthiest member of the group, has been to the surface before and likes it.
- Almost always subverted in A Magical Roommate, with the only exceptions being Lettie (who is DELUDED!) and Alassa (who is also deluded).
- Pops from Regular Show. He was raised in a wealthy, isolated way, resulting in him having a child-like fascination with EVERYTHING. He's an old man who acts like a very young child due to his naďvete. But this is also partially due to him being from another land entirely.
- It's implied that he was much more mature and lucid when he was younger, but then Mordecai and Rigby accidentally ran his past self over with a golf cart, possibly resulting in his childish personality.
- The Earl of Lemongrab of Adventure Time is a presumably rich heir of royal blood... but he's exceedingly sheltered and relies on his servants for basic things such as having food prepared for him.
- Mr. Pewterschmidt from Family Guy turns out to be like this when he temporarily loses his fortune. He can't even go to the bathroom properly, as seen in the quote above.
Bill Gates: What's a quarter?
- Will Smith's kids act like this when Smith moves to South Park:
Token: I'm just so happy you guys moved into town. You see, I used to be the only rich kid. All the other families here are kinda low to middle-income.
Lisa: Why? What happened to all their money?
Token: Well, they never really had any money.
Lisa: Well, then, why don't their daddies just act in a movie?
- On the Animaniacs, the Hip Hippos tried to do all their own chores when their maid quit, and failed miserably.
- There was also an episode where the CEO's secretary has to go home sick. She tells him to call a temp. Hilarity Ensues when he struggles with that chore.... and ends up calling the Warner Brothers instead.
- Dethklok had trouble shopping at supermarket, or "food library", as they thought it was called. In fact, most episodes are about them trying to do things outside their comfort zone. This despite the fact that their music isn't exactly the kind clueless rich people would play. In Tributeklok it's suggested that they forgot how to live like poor people because being poor is awful, right before they blow off a tribute gig to go back to eating expensive gourmet food.
- Mr. Burns from The Simpsons was lost in the "real world" when he lost his fortune.
Mr. Burns: Ketchup... catsup... ketchup... catsup... I'm in over my head here.
- There is also the time that he started to do things on his own. Hilarity Ensues
- Mr. Burns subverts this trope once when he's attacked by Homer after Homer is put in charge when Smithers left on vacation (Smithers expected Homer to do such a terrible job that Mr. Burns would be glad to have him back on his return). Things go horribly right and Mr. Burns is so terrified of Homer that he's forced to learn to do things on his own resulting in him firing Smithers for not needing help anymore.
- The Bluff family from Doug seems to have this problem in spades. In one episode, Mr. Bluff is trying to "inspire" Doug with the story of how he started his bumper sticker business all by himself before he remembered he was filthy rich and hired people to do all the hard work for him. In another, Beebe needs to have the meaning of "broke" explained to her.
- Courtney Gripling from As Told by Ginger seems to have a hard time with this.
- Rhonda from Hey Arnold! also had to learn how to live poor after becoming such.
- Adonis from Hercules: The Animated Series. In one episode, he accidentally had Hercules trapped in holding up the sky (Greek Mythology) and Atlas was ready to leave him there. Realising he couldn't bribe Atlas into taking back the burden, the only thing he could think of was tricking the god into temporarily holding the sky so Hercules could give back Adonis' purse.
- In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Tony and Gene have a few moments of these. However Justin Hammer takes the cake with his Psychotic Manchild personality, often believing anything can get done if he throws enough money at it.
- Thanks to a classic Merrie Melodies cartoon, we know not even pet heirs are immune to this trope. In "Aristo-Cat", when a rich cat's butler quit, the cat had no idea of how to feed himself. He thought about eating mice but this plan was halted by the fact he had no clue to what a mouse looked like. One even tricked him into thinking a dog was a mouse.
- DuckTales: Scrooge almost married an already wealthy Gold Digger whose idea of wilderness was a hotel with no beauty salon.
- A Pup Named Scooby-Doo 's incarnation of Daphne, who would randomly call her butler Jenkins in to do things for her, such as being scared. (Not that she couldn't have done so herself, but a Wild Take in the style of the other characters might have mussed up her hair.)
- In Futurama after Amy's parents go broke and lose their home.
Amy: Don't worry mom. You can always come live with me.
Mrs. Wong: No we can't! Who do you think been paying your rent!?
Amy: (clueless smile) What's rent?
- Seńor Senior Junior in Kim Possible is a wealthy fop, who we first meet tanning under a sun lamp the size of a blimp. His father's decision to take up supervillainy as a hobby could be seen as another example, though he otherwise seems to have as much common sense as anyone.
- In one episode, Ron suddenly receives millions of dollars in royalties for inventing the "naco". He spends much of the episode squandering the money on bling and frivolities until Drakken and Shego steal what's left (after which they blow it on another failed attempt to take over the world).
- Sofia the First: In "The Baker King", King Roland the Second tries to get milk from a cow by commanding it to give him the milk.
- More than one lottery winner has been burned by this trope. Some have no idea how to manage all their money and blow it all in record time. Others end up getting conned or even just robbed of their newfound wealth.
- The Dutch national lottery actually offers counseling and an trusted accountant to prevent this trope from occurring.
- Similarly, this trope tends to befall professional athletes, with Mike Tyson being a poster-boy for his excesses (various mansions around the country, etc.).
- The concept of Conspicuous Consumption was first coined by Norwegian-American economist Thorstein Veblen in his book Theory of the Leisure Class This book defines the Leisure Class as this trope: People whose only duty is to spend money whitout any other real reason that to show they can afford it. Jorge Luis Borges resumes:
- In Veblen's "honor", his name became part of the concept of "Veblen Goods", items that violate the laws of supply and demand by being more sought out the more expensive they are (thus indicating that they're most likely being bought in order to show off one's wealth).
- Buzzfeed article "17 Reasons Posh British People Need to Be Stopped Right Now" reveals behavior like not knowing how to set a table, resorting to using iPads as plates for pizza, giving children funny names, David Cameron, and red trousers.
- Puyi, the last Emperor of China, did not learn to dress himself, brush his teeth, or tie his shoes until he was sent to a Communist reeducation camp as a middle-aged man.