"I spent my life on foolish quests for gold and riches I confess
And now I'm left with just regrets, too late to change my ways
It seems my life has slipped away, I leave no legacy to praise
Nothing more for me to say, my life has been a waste"
Traditionally, misers are portrayed in media as grasping, penny-pinching people who live in squalor and who never spend money despite being quite wealthy. Some are businessmen
, some are loan sharks
, moneylenders and Morally Bankrupt Bankers
, some are pawnbrokers, some are lawyers
... but regardless of how they made their money, the Scrooge is sitting on a pile of it. But getting him to spend it is... problematic to say the least.
In real life, many rich people became rich in the first place by saving their money and spending only the minimum they needed to, and by only putting their money where it was guaranteed to make them more. Not all wealthy people in real life are like this, but it is worth noting that this is where the image of stereotypical misers came from. It is also worth noting that some of history's biggest misers started out
In previous eras
, it was common to portray pretty much all Jewish characters
like this. The Scottish
were traditionally subject to this stereotype as well. And in Germany, it's the Swabian people.
The Scrooge is a clear embodiment of greed
. Sometimes overlaps with Grumpy Old Man
. See also Mr. Vice Guy
, a trope that heroic-leaning Scrooges also qualify as, and Miser Advisor
. One of these will also partake in Cutting Corners
to save money.
Not to be confused with The Grinch
, even though the namer for this trope also hated Christmas.
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- In Maus, Vladek Spiegelman is incredibly miserly. His son wonders what people will make of a person who is advancing that particular stereotype about Jews.
- Scrooge McDuck from the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, pictured above, is as big a skinflint as his namesake from A Christmas Carol... though that doesn't mean he's not an admirable member of the Non-Idle Rich. For bonus points, the picture is from Mickey's Christmas Carol, in which Scrooge McDuck plays Ebenezer Scrooge, so you get twice the Scrooge in one.
- Scrooge's Archenemy is Flintheart Glomgold, who's an even bigger Scrooge. (And unlike Scrooge himself, dishonest. He's willing to do any corrupt, immoral, or illegal act or any dirty trick in order to make more money.)
- Averted by Scrooge's other archenemy (mostly featured on the comics), John D. Rockerduck. While not an Evil Counterpart (he's pretty moral), his philosophy is 'buying the best money can buy.' This sometimes helps John and other times he goes too far.
- Cénile from De cape et de crocs. His son's servant has seen The Miser and tries the same trick — asking for gold for the life of his son, supposedly kidnapped by Turks. In the play, Harpagon did pay, with much tears. Cénile refuses.
- Mortadelo y Filemón:
- First, there is their tight-fisted boss, Vicente. If he gives them any money at all, it doesn't even come close to covering their expenses (they were once expected to travel around the globe on $10), and it often turns out to be fake.
- During their adventure in Germany, they visit Swabenland, and the Swabians they encounter manage to make Vicente look generous in comparison: They drink only when it rains, read their palms to save on a newspaper, train passengers are expected to push or pull the train themselves, and they have a stroke when asked to give something, even if it's just the time or directions.
- During the world championship soccer episode, a Scottish player refuses to kick the ball with his new shoes, and Mortadelo makes another one faint by disguising himself as a charity fund raiser.
- In Trading Places, Randolph and Mortimer Duke, despite being multi-millionaires, hand out "Christmas bonuses" of $5 to their employees and make wagers that ruin other people's lives all over a stake of $1.
- Mister Potter, from Its A Wonderful Life.
- Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol is the Trope Namer. In addition to being a tight-fisted miser, he's a cold-hearted, selfish man, who despises anything that engenders happiness. It takes three ghosts to do it (four if you count Marley), but he gets better.
- In Wolf's Brother by Megan Lindholm, the wedding gifts from the richer members of the tribe were far less generous than the poorer members.
- David Sedaris' essay The Great Leap Forward details his working as a personal assistant for an eccentric, wealthy heiress who had a small publishing company. Though loaded, she acted like money embarrassed her and would haggle and be stingy as though she had nothing.
- The titular character from George Eliot's Silas Marner is an unpleasant, misanthropic skinflint at the beginning of the story. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, he gets better.
- Shylock, from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, is one of the best (or worst, depending) examples of the "traditional incarnations" of this trope.
- Euclion in Plaute's Aulularia, making it Older Than Feudalism.
- Mr. Banks in The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel).
- Plyushkin in Dead Souls. He owns several hundred souls, but lives as cheap as a beggar. Chichikov, the protagonist, also doesn't like giving away money.
- Séraphin Poudrier from the French-Canadian novel Un homme et son péchénote and its many adaptations in other media. His name is the Québécois equivalent of Scrooge or Harpagon, though it is normally used as an adjective rather than a noun ("être séraphin" = to be avaricious).
- The fictionalized Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm seems to be made of this trope. Like Jack Benny, the real Larry David isn't like this at all.
- Milburn Drysdale, from The Beverly Hillbillies became more and more miserly as the series progressed. This was Played for Laughs, of course.
- Another comedy example is Fred Mertz from I Love Lucy.
- Paulie Walnuts from The Sopranos fits this trope to a "T". This is not his only personality quirk, it should be noted.
- Ben Weaver, from The Andy Griffith Show.
- Homer Bedloe, from Petticoat Junction.
- The Merchant Banker in Monty Python's Flying Circus.
- Rimmer in Red Dwarf has twenty-five thousand dollarpounds (in cash!), but borrowed $£15 from Lister to buy Lister's own birthday present. And then gave him a $£5 booktoken.
- The main character of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Cheap is Cheap" is a penny-pinching miser who read other people's newspapers. In reality, he had quite a bit of money saved up.
- Kazran Sardick, in a Doctor Who Christmas special. The whole episode is basically an Affectionate Parody of A Christmas Carol.
- Matlock is a cheapstake. At first, it was out of necessity after some bad investments but, by the time he became wealthy again, he remained thrifty.
- Frank Reynolds is incredibly wealthy (having obtained it through multiple unscrupulous means,) but instead chooses to live in squalor with his possible son/bar janitor Charlie, only ever spending money on schemes that will make him more money or to spite someone he dislikes. This is lampshaded in the Christmas Special when his children try to show him how horrible of a person he is (so that he will actually give them gifts) by tracking down his former business partner to portray the Ghosts of Christmas.
- Averted, by of all people, Jack Benny from The Jack Benny Show. Jack may be cheap, but he buys Christmas presents for his employees, and lives in quite a nice house. In a New Years episode, he is shown in top hat and tails about to take his date out on the town!
- The title character of Bill Hoest's Agatha Crumm was a rare female example of this.
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin's Dad likes to tease Calvin like this. Notably by suggesting they get a Christmas Tree at New Year's by picking up one sitting by the trash. Since it may still have tinsel on, they'll save money and time on decorations.
- Jack Benny used this trope for comedic effect on his radio show (and later, his television show) to the point that his fans came to assume he was a miser in real life. On the contrary, he was actually a kind, generous, and very giving man.
- It's probly worth noting that before Benny, most jokes about misers and skinflints were about Scotsmen or Jews. Afterwards, they were mostly about Jack Benny.
- Harpagon, the main character in L'Avare (The Miser) by Molière (to the extent that "un harpagon" is practically synonymous with "un avare", ie "a miser.")
- Marcus Kincaid of Borderlands. Would rather shoot you than give you a refund, and in Borderlands 2, he gives the wrong change to a customer and sends you on a mission to get the excess change back. How much change? Nine dollars. (and this is for a sale where he conned the guy out of two million dollars!) He pays you tons of money to get his nine dollars back, but that's business. He also sends you on a mission to reclaim refund checks he wrote while drunk before they're sent.
- One of the targets of Lester's assassination missions in Grand Theft Auto V is a tight-fisted billionaire venture capitalist of the "corporate raider" variety, who, despite planning to acquire a controlling stake in a major automotive company, takes the same bus to and from work everyday. When you impersonate the driver to get close to him, he balks when he thinks the fares have been raised to $1.50 and steals a pedestrians bicycle instead.
- Gaea from Noob gets lots of money and precious items from her Manipulative Bastard activities, doesn't contribute to her guild's common fund and acts as if she were in Perpetual Poverty, including using the guild's fund for her own expenses.
- Hetty Green, thought to have been the richest woman in the world at the time of her death in 1916, and the first woman to make a substantial impact on Wall Street, is considered to be one of the biggest misers in American history. Despite being worth over $200 million (that's $3.8 billion in 2009 dollars), she refused to heat her home because she hated to "waste money on frivolities", owned only one dress at a time (and only replaced it when it wore out beyond the ability to sew back together), and lived in pain most of her life because she refused to spend $150 on a hernia operation. She lived almost exclusively on cold oatmeal, being too thrifty to heat it. When her son Ned broke his leg as a child, Mrs. Green tried to have him admitted to a hospital charity ward. When she was recognized, she stormed away vowing to treat the wounds herself. The leg contracted gangrene and had to be amputated.
- Billionaire industrialist Andrew Carnegie is rightly viewed as a philanthropist, having set up many charitable institutions in his lifetime. In his personal life, though, Carnegie was the very epitome of this trope. His clothing, food, and furnishings were always the least expensive he could find, he had a habit of giving single dimes as tips to railroad porters and waiters, and followed a policy of never giving gifts.
- It has often been commented upon by people who work for the various charitable institutions that the less affluent tend to give more (based on a percentage of income) than the wealthy.
- Door-to-door charity collectors call some wealthy neighborhoods "Steep-And-Cheaps" because the rich love to live in hilly areas. Donations tend to be very sparse in such neighborhoods.
- The same goes for streets full of big money law firms.
- Oil baron H.L. Hunt was at one time the wealthiest man in Dallas, but he drove a twenty year old Ford and bought lunch every day at a nickel taco stand.
- John Roebling is the engineer who designed the Brooklyn Bridge. Once, while he was away on business, his wife wrote him to tell him that she had given birth to a daughter, and he wrote her back to chide her for wasting perfectly good ink on such trivial nonsense. When his foot was mangled in an industrial accident and his toes had to be amputated, he went through the surgery without anesthesia because he thought it would cost too much. Roebling refused to let the doctors bandage his foot (bandages being too expensive) and instead kept it submerged in a bucket of water, which lead to him contracting tetanus and dying a week later. After he died, the reading of his will revealed that he had calculated how much money he had spent raising each of his children and he had docked their inheritance accordingly.
- Ingvar Kamprand, the founder of IKEA, is among the richest men in the world, but drives around in his old Volvo. He also took a bus to a grand opening of a new IKEA in Russia. This could all be an image that he has built up of himself though.
- Supermodel Tyra Banks admits that she's a bit of a miser, and says that it comes from living in poverty before she was discovered and started modeling. Despite having a personal fortune of upwards of $100 million, she says that she has a hard time spending money beyond what her agents and handlers want her to spend to maintain her image (mostly on her clothes, cosmetics, and living arrangements while she's traveling), and has been known to strip hotel rooms of every complimentary item she can just so she doesn't have to spend money for those items on her own.
- According to several friends and even his daughter Stella, Sir Paul McCartney is the worst sort of cheapskate despite having a net worth of over $1.2 billion. Apparently, he once threw a birthday party for his late wife, Linda, and charged the guests for drinks. Also, he told his children that he would only pay for their college education if they went to the cheapest schools they could find.
- Jean Paul Getty, despite being an oil tycoon worth $1.3 billion (in 1966, now equivalent to $8.7 billion), was famous for installing payphones in his mansion to discourage the staff (and his family) from using the line. Later, when Italian kidnappers took his grandson hostage, he managed to top himself by literally haggling the ransom down from $17 million to $3 million, standing firm even when the kidnappers cut off and mailed one of his grandson's ears to him. And then he still only paid $2.2 million because that was the maximum tax-deductible amount. The grandson was safely returned; when faced with such a cold-hearted bastard, the kidnappers wisely decided to quit while still ahead.