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Trophy Wife
Kevin & Kell take it too literally...
A friend of mine has a trophy wife, but apparently, it wasn't first place.
Steven Wright

A young and attractive wife who is regarded as a status symbol for the husband, who is older and affluent.

She is often seen as a contrast to the first wife. If the first wife is the sympathetic character, she sacrificed her own career prospects and youth to support her husband's advancement during the long hard early years only to be summarily dumped for the younger, prettier trophy wife. If the second wife is meant to be sympathetic, then the first wife is a nagging, emasculating harridan who only ever cared about the social status and wealth she'd eventually pushed her husband into, while the second wife truly cares about him as a person and understands his inner creative urges.

He might have found her at college where she was going to get some education before leaving with her MRS Degree.

Note that trophy husbands do exist; the still-entrenched Double Standard regarding gender equality, however, makes them rarer than the wife version.

Compare Hot Consort; contrast Gold Digger and Meal Ticket. Not to be confused with the series Trophy Wife.


Examples

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Trophy wives

     Comics  

     Films  

  • The plot of The Stepford Wives sees the women (and a gay dude's partner, in the remake) transformed from "Supergirls" to a more stereotypical trophy wife. At least this appears to be a large part of the husband's motivation. In the original, he succeeds. In the remake, he relents.
  • More or less averted in Legally Blonde, the murder victim was an older man married to a beautiful, younger woman (who naturally became the prime suspect). However, she was a successful businesswoman, wealthy on her own, and genuinely loved him.
  • Bill & Ted: In Excellent Adventure Bill's dad has divorced his mother and gotten married to Missy, who is only three years older than his son. In Bogus Journey they have split up and now Ted's dad is the one married to Missy; in the epilogue she marries the Big Bad.
  • Mona Lisa Smile is about the art professor teaching all the girls at Wellesley to actually apply themselves and learn. In the 1950s and earlier, the whole point of a woman going to college was to find a husband to whom they could become a well-converse, good little trophy wife.
  • The First Wives Club is about women who get dumped, often to be replaced by trophy wives. Phoebe, the self-absorbed starlet, and Shelly, the empty-headed gold-digger, are the two most prominent trophy second wives, who help inspire the women they've replaced to create the club.
  • In the James Bond films, a few of the women Bond manages to maneuver into a Sex Face Turn are the villain's neglected or duped trophy wife. Paris Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies is one of the later examples.
  • In the bad altered 1985 from Back To The Future Part II, Marty's mother has been coerced into becoming Biff Tannen's trophy wife, complete with unwanted breast augmentation. Though Marty is eventually able to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, the viewer sees that she would have eventually shot him to death.
  • Jennifer Coolidge's character in Best in Show is a spoof example in the Gold Digger vein, and, unusually, is cheating with another woman, not a man.
  • Rollerball (original version): Jonathan had a trophy wife bestowed on him for his success, but he really did care for her. Then she was taken away from him and given to an executive. This seems to be completely normal behavior in that verse.
  • In The Big Lebowski, Bunny Lebowski, the wife of the "other" Lebowski, is a hot, blonde girl who Really Gets Around, married to a crippled old millionaire.
  • In The Jerk, Steve Martin's boss (Jackie Mason) brings his hot wife to the garage to explain the importance of keeping the place safe. Without such a lucrative business how could he, of all people, get and keep such a woman? He explains that if anything happened to the business she'd leave him in a second. She nods in agreement.
  • In A Face in the Crowd, Lonesome Rhodes marries Betty Lou Fleckum, a teenage baton-twirler, immediately after divorcing his first wife in Mexico. Marcia views her as representing Rhodes' audience "all wrapped up with yellow ribbons into one cute little package." At first, he proudly gushes to his fans about how her body "keeps on catching my eye," but as time passes she appears less and less on his show, until he has her unceremoniously dismissed "like any performer on my show that flops."

     Literature  

  • George Smiley's wife Anne is an example of the unfaithful type.
  • In The Bible, Esther is chosen to be King Ahasuerus' queen, to replace Vashti, whom he had executed. An atypical example both because Esther was basically forced into it, and, though chosen largely for her looks, she actually turns out to be a Guile Heroine who uses her position to save her people from genocide.
  • In Of Mice and Men, Curly's wife is this. He tries to keep her shut up in their house, threatening anyone who shows any attention to her, and generally leaves her feeling isolated and miserable. This leads to her trying to find workers who don't run for the hills when she flirts with them, and sadly leads to her letting Lennie stroke her hair, in turn causing her to die when he begins shaking her violently.
  • In The Horse and His Boy, Aravis Tharkeena ran away from home to avert the trope. Not helped by how her "fiancè" is a much older Smug Snake, or by how the marriage was arranged by her much loathed Wicked Stepmother.

     Live-action TV  

  • Katherine Wellington from Harper's Island. She even admits it.
  • Jane Siegel Sterling on Mad Men. Roger Sterling throws over his wife of many years, Mona, for his sexy secretary. He soon tires of her, although she seems sincerely devoted to him. Don Draper marries his sexy secretary at the end of Season 4.
  • The Master's wife Lucy Saxon in the revived Doctor Who was chosen for her pliability and her family connections, making her a fairly straightforward example of a trophy wife. However, even finding out his true nature doesn't shake her loyalty to him. After he abuses her, she fatally shoots him and, still later, sacrifices her life to sabotage his resurrection and leave him with a bad case of Came Back Wrong.
  • Subverted on Lois and Clark, where the seeming trophy wife of Intergang's boss swiftly takes over and proves to be her husband's equal in brains and ruthlessness after he is imprisoned.
  • Modern Family's Gloria Delgado-Pritchett is a surprisingly sympathetic example of a trophy wife.
  • In Two and a Half Men, Charlie sleeps with an old man's trophy wife without knowing she was married. He wasn't too happy about it.
    Evelyn: Did my son polish your trophy wife?
  • In the third season of The Joe Schmo Show, The Full Bounty, host Ralph Garman's character, Jake Montrose, has a trophy wife.
  • MythQuest: Cleo spends some time as Blodeuwedd, a trophy wife in a Welsh myth.
  • The Closer, had the victim's really young fourth wife and daughter actually attend 8th grade French together.
  • The ABC sitcom Trophy Wife zig-zags this with Kate. Her husband's two ex-wives and his two older kids seem to think she's one, but she genuinely loves her husband and tries to get along with the family. It's implied from the pilot that after their Meet Cute, his sense of humor is what attracted her in the first place.

     Music  

  • "I Won", a song by rapper Future (featuring Kanye West) from the former's album Honest which outright describes their partners - R'n'B singer Ciara and Kim Kardashian respectively - as trophy wives. Indeed, "Trophy Wife" was the song's working title.

     Newspaper Comics  

     Theater  

     Web Comics  

  • Kevin & Kell example is a Visual Pun. In a world of Carnivore Confusion it's common to put stuffed deer heads on a wall of trophies. Cue rich boar and a doe with unusual neckwear.
  • Kharisma in Something Positive tries to be one, but fails when the victim sees through it. One of her equally shallow friends does end up becoming this to Kharisma's father.

     Western Animation  

  • Ashley-Amber from Daria, Brittany's stepmother. A former beer spokeswoman, she met her husband at a photo shoot; he's twenty years older than her. Ashley-Amber seems to be a typical Dumb Blonde, but interestingly, a tie-in book notes that she's been learning about joint property law behind her husband's back.
  • Due to how she acts around Fancypants (read: vaguely clingy) Fleur de Lis from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is often seen as one of these.
  • Nanette Manoir's mother from Angela Anaconda is implied to be this.

Trophy husbands

     Live Action TV  

  • Played with on Dollhouse. Echo is implanted with the mind of a rich woman who has been murdered to sniff out her killer. All the clues suggest that its her hunky trophy husband in it for the money. In fact, they were Red Herrings as the husband actually loved her dearly, and the son was the killer because of his jealousy over the husband.
  • Jefferson D'Arcy on Married... with Children is close to this, as his wife seems to care mainly about his looks and willingness to indulge her. He married her hoping to get at her money.

     Music  

  • Tom Lehrer: A ballad dedicated to Alma Mahler-Werfel, a socialite, who he praises for managing to marry three of the greatest minds of the day and having the raciest obituary he had ever had the pleasure of reading.
  • Trace Adkins' recent song "Marry for Money." Told by a Trophy Husband who doesn't care about love or looks, as long as she's rich.

     Western Animation  

  • In The Simpsons, when Marge became a successful businesswoman, Homer met up with other Trophy Husbands who try to teach him about their way of life. They make him fear Marge would dump him for a man better suited for trophy husband role.

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alternative title(s): Trophy Husband; Trophy Spouse
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