- Straight: A man starts off life with nothing but a few clever ideas, and becomes a successful businessman with them.
- Exaggerated: A man starts off life with nothing but some fleas and trains them into a flea circus that becomes a billion dollar international media conglomerate.
- A man starts off life with some wealth, but uses his clever ideas and business acumen to build his own successful business.
- A guy who escapes from poverty, to achieve a decent standard of living.
- Justified: The man knows how business works, learns from others who have succeeded, and doesn't mind playing a bit dirty to achieve his goals.
- Inverted: The heir to a fortune becomes poor by burning away all his wealth on trivial amusements and stupidity.
- A man constantly goes about introducing himself as a Self-Made Man, but actually inherited his business from his father.
- Alternatively: A man starts out with nothing but a clever idea... And is quickly approached by a big corporation and hired once they see that his ideas have merit.
- Double Subverted:
- ...Except the business was pretty small when he inherited it, and has now been expanded significantly.
- Alternatively: Just because someone else signs his paycheck doesn't mean he didn't earn his place in the big leagues, something he's quick to point out to coworkers who doubt his abilities.
- Despite his wealth, the man still dresses like a 19th century pauper, uses slang from that era, and almost never bathes.
- A homeless man who washed a car for a penny once, starts acting like he's rich: trying to buy a sports car, talking about how hard he worked to be where he is today.
- Zig Zagged: A man calls himself a Self-Made Man, but he inherited the business from his father. The business was very small when he inherited it, however, and he expanded it significantly... by following the plans laid out by his father... but wait, no, there were some corrections he made as he went along...
- A man was born rich and doesn't claim otherwise.
- A man is not especially wealthy.
- Lampshaded: "The guy turned a crazy little idea into a business empire! Say what you will about him, he's no idiot."
- Invoked: "I might not be able to afford gold and diamonds now, but through wits and sweat, I'll be able to one day!"
- Exploited: ???
- Defied: "You know that ambitious fellow with the curious little business? Sabotage him; he's Too Clever by Half."
- Conversed: ???
- A man achieves everything he ever dreamed of by building a business empire, but finds that it's Lonely at the Top and regrets the more questionable decisions he made to get there.
- A person sets out to start a business in the hope of becoming rich. Any of the following things happen:
A) The local/state/federal government's obscenely complicated regulations make it impossible for him to profit in the first place.
B) The person begins to start making quite a bit of money, so his even larger competitors make a "donation" to the re-election campaign of a powerful Senator. Said Senator then pushes for a whole slate of regulations that make it impossible for said person's business to continue making a profit.
C) The person's business becomes a great success. However, because he hired non-Union labor (he wouldn't have been able to afford Union labor, only bigger corporate competitors can), the Unions finance an Astroturf protest outside his business calling him a monstrous exploiter. The firestorm of public abuse drives him to sell his business to his competitors, thus reducing competition in the industry and resulting in every consumer paying much higher prices.
D) The person's business actually does fully succeed and make him a multi-millionaire. The amount of work said person had to do in order to get there means said person has very little leisure time to actually enjoy the wealth; said person is Married to the Job and hence has very few relationships.
- Reconstructed: ...So he devotes his life and fortune to serving the community, giving back to the impoverished classes he was once a part of.
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