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The archetype of self-made men can involve politicians, soldiers, scientists, artists and of course, businessmen. In the case of artists, novels like Bildungsroman and Kunstlerroman often serve as coming-of-age story for how people make themselves into these kinds of individuals. In the case of scientists, it deals with the times they spent until they found the EurekaMoment. A Self-Made Man can appear as a protagonist, a TragicHero, a TragicVillain, a hero or anti-hero. They can also be supporting-characters, where ''their'' interesting plot is mostly over and at times serves as backstory or foundation in which one can mine for dramatic gold, guilt, baggage, DarkAndTroubledPast or GloryDays. A less positive spin on this trope is the stereotypically boorish NouveauRiche. As this character tends to DefaultToGood, it can be seen as an [[InvertedTrope inversion]] of AmbitionIsEvil. A second variant of this trope is that of a character who, for whatever reason, chooses to change their basic nature in defiance of normal expectations of what they are "meant" to be or are likely to become -- a naturally selfish or evil-inclined character, for example, forcing himself moment-to-moment to act generous or good because he has decided to make himself that way. This archetype is similar to {{Ubermensch}}. They might be the middle generation of the ThreeSuccessfulGenerations. What is necessary for self-made also differs. Doing well after graduating at the top of your cause and maintaining high academic standing (all of them being markers of merit) is somehow not as remarkable as achieving something without going to university, either by being self-taught or being a "savant".

As the gendered trope name suggests, this trope has generally been AlwaysMale. Indeed the trope NeverASelfMadeWoman, explains how successful women have historically had their achievements tied to connections with men, who had to make it possible for them. This is more how the trope is portrayed than it is in reality, since there are indeed quite a number of women whose achievements are no more over-advantaged than that of men. And of course what seems self-made in one era and context changes from another.

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The archetype of self-made men can involve politicians, soldiers, scientists, artists and of course, businessmen. In the case of artists, novels like Bildungsroman and Kunstlerroman often serve as a coming-of-age story for how people make themselves into these kinds of individuals. In the case of scientists, it deals with the times they spent until they found the EurekaMoment. A Self-Made Man can appear as a protagonist, a TragicHero, a TragicVillain, a hero or anti-hero. They can also be supporting-characters, where ''their'' interesting plot is mostly over and at times serves as backstory or foundation in which one can mine for dramatic gold, guilt, baggage, DarkAndTroubledPast or GloryDays. A less positive spin on this trope is the stereotypically boorish NouveauRiche. As this character tends to DefaultToGood, it can be seen as an [[InvertedTrope inversion]] of AmbitionIsEvil. A second variant of this trope is that of a character who, for whatever reason, chooses to change their basic nature in defiance of normal expectations of what they are "meant" to be or are likely to become -- a naturally selfish or evil-inclined character, for example, forcing himself moment-to-moment to act generous or good because he has decided to make himself that way. This archetype is similar to {{Ubermensch}}. They might be the middle generation of the ThreeSuccessfulGenerations. What is necessary for self-made also differs. Doing well after graduating at the top of your cause and maintaining high academic standing (all of them being markers of merit) is somehow not as remarkable as achieving something without going to university, either by being self-taught or being a "savant".

As the gendered trope name suggests, this trope has generally been AlwaysMale. Indeed the trope NeverASelfMadeWoman, explains how successful women have historically had their achievements tied to connections with men, who had to make it possible for them. This is more how the trope is portrayed than it is in reality, reality since there are indeed quite a number of women whose achievements are no more over-advantaged than that of men. And of course what seems self-made in one era and context changes from another.



* Referenced with an old Tim Horton's commercial. An old man is speaking to his grandson (or perhaps great-grandson), saying that when he came to [[CanadaEh Canada]] he had only two dollars, but by working hard and saving his money, he was able to provide for his family, and now things were good for them. In turn, he gives his descendant two dollars, to use to make his family proud. Subverted when the child promptly buys a 20-pack of Timbits, though of course the grandfather is not disappointed with the gift of pastries.

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* Referenced with an old Tim Horton's commercial. An old man is speaking to his grandson (or perhaps great-grandson), saying that when he came to [[CanadaEh Canada]] he had only two dollars, but by working hard and saving his money, he was able to provide for his family, and now things were good for them. In turn, he gives his descendant two dollars, to use to make his family proud. Subverted when the child promptly buys a 20-pack of Timbits, though of course course, the grandfather is not disappointed with the gift of pastries.



** Jack Atlas started as a rat from Satellite. But once he had a chance to escape from there, he became the King of Duelists not shortly after. However, this is subverted much later, as it is revealed that Goodwin and Yeager payed strong duelists to lose against Jack on purpose when Jack's career began.

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** Jack Atlas started as a rat from Satellite. But once he had a chance to escape from there, he became the King of Duelists not shortly after. However, this is subverted much later, as it is revealed that Goodwin and Yeager payed paid strong duelists to lose against Jack on purpose when Jack's career began.



* Jack Rakan of ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima''; the reason that he's a beloved invincible war hero is because he [[spoiler:literally fought his way to the top despite starting out at rock bottom as a gladiatorial slave]]. [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Tohsaka]], MamaBear and Vargas have very similar backstories.

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* Jack Rakan of ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima''; the reason that he's a beloved invincible war hero is because that he [[spoiler:literally fought his way to the top despite starting out at rock bottom as a gladiatorial slave]]. [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold Tohsaka]], MamaBear and Vargas have very similar backstories.



* Fujitaka Kinomoto from ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura''. He was orphaned at a young age, pursued a schoolteaching career on his own, fell in love with an UptownGirl and was accused of being a GoldDigger, [[HappilyMarried married her anyway]] [[GoldBurier despite her disownment]], worked hard alongside his wife to make a living for themselves and their children, and by the time we meet him he's a rather succesful archeologist and uni professor. In his mid to late 30's, and did it all without realizing [[spoiler: he is one of the reincarnations of the most powerful mage in the CLAMP meta-universe]].

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* Fujitaka Kinomoto from ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura''. He was orphaned at a young age, pursued a schoolteaching career on his own, fell in love with an UptownGirl and was accused of being a GoldDigger, [[HappilyMarried married her anyway]] [[GoldBurier despite her disownment]], worked hard alongside his wife to make a living for themselves and their children, and by the time we meet him he's a rather succesful successful archeologist and uni professor. In his mid to late 30's, mid-to-late 30s, and did it all without realizing [[spoiler: he is one of the reincarnations of the most powerful mage in the CLAMP meta-universe]].



* [[ComicBook/{{Batman}} Batman's]] ancestor Solomon Wayne. He arrived in Gotham with nothing but a law degree and a bible, and worked as a judge. He then started a number of businesses, and quickly became the wealthiest person in town. Down the line, that money became the now enormous Wayne fortune.

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* [[ComicBook/{{Batman}} Batman's]] ancestor Solomon Wayne. He arrived in Gotham with nothing but a law degree and a bible, Bible and worked as a judge. He then started a number of businesses, businesses and quickly became the wealthiest person in town. Down the line, that money became the now enormous Wayne fortune.






* ''Fanfic/SomosFamilia'': The entire Rivera clan (and blood brother) gets this treatment. Imelda, Hector, Ernesto, Oscar and Philippe all grew up in an orphanage together, with little more than their friendships, talents and minor bits of history to their names. But thanks to some determination, hope, talent and a lot of luck, they all ended up in a VERY good place as the richest people in Santa Cecelia and Beyond.

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* ''Fanfic/SomosFamilia'': The entire Rivera clan (and blood brother) gets this treatment. Imelda, Hector, Ernesto, Oscar Oscar, and Philippe all grew up in an orphanage together, with little more than their friendships, talents and minor bits of history to their names. But thanks to some determination, hope, talent and a lot of luck, they all ended up in a VERY good place as the richest people in Santa Cecelia and Beyond.



* Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) from ''Film/BackToSchool'' is a man with little education and class (well, it's Rodney!), but possesses uncanny financial skills. He built his fortune selling a plus-sized line of clothing to obese men. But seems to make the real money with his ability to invest his assets to maximize profits. In this regard, he is better suited to teach economics then the snobbish instructor whose classes Melon attends.
* Al Czervik from ''Film/{{Caddyshack}}''. He has all the traits of NouveauRiche: gaudy clothing, obnoxious behavior, [[SlobsVsSnobs but he is more likeable than Judge Smails]] (because he's generous and friendly where Smails is stingy and mean).

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* Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) from ''Film/BackToSchool'' is a man with little education and class (well, it's Rodney!), but possesses uncanny financial skills. He built his fortune selling a plus-sized line of clothing to obese men. But seems to make the real money with his ability to invest his assets to maximize profits. In this regard, he is better suited to teach economics then than the snobbish instructor whose classes Melon attends.
* Al Czervik from ''Film/{{Caddyshack}}''. He has all the traits of NouveauRiche: gaudy clothing, obnoxious behavior, [[SlobsVsSnobs but he is more likeable likable than Judge Smails]] (because he's generous and friendly where Smails is stingy and mean).



* ''Film/{{Titanic 1997}}'': A self-made-man's widow is disliked by some of her fellow first-class passengers because of this trope.

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* ''Film/{{Titanic 1997}}'': A self-made-man's self-made man's widow is disliked by some of her fellow first-class passengers because of this trope.



* Niki Lauda as depicted in ''Film/Rush2013'': His family is the rich business people, but he violently ditches himself from the family's money to race in UsefulNotes/FormulaOne (which is viewed as low-class job by his father). Even before he starts, he claims to his team mate he can build his own economy out of the job.
* This is the backstory of the Rivera family in ''WesternAnimation/{{Coco}}''; After Imelda's husband abandoned her ([[spoiler:or so everybody thought]]), she taught herself how to create and sell shoes in order to support herself and her young daughter. The family buisness has been sucessful enough to support her living descendants for four generations and counting. Ernesto De La Cruz also came from humble origins and became rich and famous thanks to his songs. [[spoiler:It turns out he actually [[PlagiarismInFiction stole the songs]] from Imelda's husband Hector and killed him.]]

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* Niki Lauda as depicted in ''Film/Rush2013'': His family is the rich business people, but he violently ditches himself from the family's money to race in UsefulNotes/FormulaOne (which is viewed as a low-class job by his father). Even before he starts, he claims to his team mate teammate he can build his own economy out of the job.
* This is the backstory of the Rivera family in ''WesternAnimation/{{Coco}}''; After Imelda's husband abandoned her ([[spoiler:or so everybody thought]]), she taught herself how to create and sell shoes in order to support herself and her young daughter. The family buisness business has been sucessful successful enough to support her living descendants for four generations and counting. Ernesto De La Cruz also came from humble origins and became rich and famous thanks to his songs. [[spoiler:It turns out he actually [[PlagiarismInFiction stole the songs]] from Imelda's husband Hector and killed him.]]



* Perhaps the most famous example in western canon is Jay Gatsby of ''Literature/TheGreatGatsby''. Born poor, he falls in love with a girl above his station and dedicates himself to making money to win her back. He's fantastically wealthy by the time the story starts, and is famous for the lavish parties he constantly throws in his opulent mansion. [[spoiler:Alas, his true love still rejects him.]]

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* Perhaps the most famous example in western canon is Jay Gatsby of ''Literature/TheGreatGatsby''. Born poor, he falls in love with a girl above his station and dedicates himself to making money to win her back. He's fantastically wealthy by the time the story starts, starts and is famous for the lavish parties he constantly throws in his opulent mansion. [[spoiler:Alas, his true love still rejects him.]]



** Vimes is a peripheral example, in that the Watch ended up in its modern place of power because of his hard work, but in his personal life he married way, way up.

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** Vimes is a peripheral example, in that the Watch ended up in its modern place of power because of his hard work, but in his personal life life, he married way, way up.



** Mr Bucket in ''Discworld/{{Maskerade}}'', whom Salzella contemptuously thinks of as "a self-made man who's proud of his handiwork".

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** Mr Mr. Bucket in ''Discworld/{{Maskerade}}'', whom Salzella contemptuously thinks of as "a self-made man who's proud of his handiwork".



* Literature/HonorHarrington is a moderate example. Her parents were always well-off, a pair of respected and successful doctors who were themselves descended from successful professionals, but they were solidly in the yeoman social class and never had the money to really be "rich." Honor herself earned her first several million dollars with prize money from ships she seized for smuggling during her stationing in the Basilisk system, then reinvested the modest fortune into numerous investment opportunities around Manticore; the proceeds from her investments turned her from millionaire into a ''billion''aire. She then founded Grayson Skydomes, Ltd. on the planet Grayson, bankrolled by her offworld fortune, the proceeds of which made her the wealthiest individual on Grayson and in shouting distance of the wealthy on Manticore. Throughout the novels her fortune continued to expand through regular reinvestment in the many financial opportunities a sustained war provides anybody with capial and resources, along the way also earning a knighthood, a Duchy on Gryphon and investment as a Steadholder on Grayson. The later books have her as one of the most important figures, exonomically, politically and militarily, in the entire galaxy. However, all along the way Honor is quick to point out that her financial success is primarily the doing of her hired financial consultant, and she was always quick to deflect any praise or reward from her personal actions.

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* Literature/HonorHarrington is a moderate example. Her parents were always well-off, a pair of respected and successful doctors who were themselves descended from successful professionals, but they were solidly in the yeoman social class and never had the money to really be "rich." Honor herself earned her first several million dollars with prize money from ships she seized for smuggling during her stationing in the Basilisk system, then reinvested the modest fortune into numerous investment opportunities around Manticore; the proceeds from her investments turned her from millionaire into a ''billion''aire. She then founded Grayson Skydomes, Ltd. on the planet Grayson, bankrolled by her offworld off-world fortune, the proceeds of which made her the wealthiest individual on Grayson and in shouting distance of the wealthy on Manticore. Throughout the novels novels, her fortune continued to expand through regular reinvestment in the many financial opportunities a sustained war provides anybody with capial capital and resources, along the way also earning a knighthood, a Duchy on Gryphon and investment as a Steadholder on Grayson. The later books have her as one of the most important figures, exonomically, politically and militarily, in the entire galaxy. However, all along the way Honor is quick to point out that her financial success is primarily the doing of her hired financial consultant, and she was always quick to deflect any praise or reward from her personal actions.



* Well before the time of ''Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy'', Thrawn had made Grand Admiral despite literally being an alien who had been picked up off of a distant planet. He'd been a Commander [[Literature/OutboundFlight among his people]], but had been exiled to an unpopulated world. The Empire was quite [[FantasticRacism biased against nonhumans]] and he started with no rank among them, but he was a strategic and tactical genius the likes of which the galaxy had rarely if ever seen, so despite his [[BunnyEarsLawyer many oddities]] he was able to pull himself up into a position that let him command the Empire itself, in that trilogy.

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* Well before the time of ''Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy'', Thrawn had made Grand Admiral despite literally being an alien who had been picked up off of a distant planet. He'd been a Commander [[Literature/OutboundFlight among his people]], people]] but had been exiled to an unpopulated world. The Empire was quite [[FantasticRacism biased against nonhumans]] and he started with no rank among them, but he was a strategic and tactical genius the likes of which the galaxy had rarely if ever seen, so despite his [[BunnyEarsLawyer many oddities]] he was able to pull himself up into a position that let him command the Empire itself, in that trilogy.



* In Creator/RobertEHoward's "Literature/TheScarletCitadel", Literature/{{Conan|TheBarbarian}} brags that his RagsToRoyalty climb was all his own, and that he had shed blood himself as well as shedding that of others.

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* In Creator/RobertEHoward's "Literature/TheScarletCitadel", Literature/{{Conan|TheBarbarian}} brags that his RagsToRoyalty climb was all his own, own and that he had shed blood himself as well as shedding that of others.



* Alexandria's CharacterArc in the ''Literature/{{Emperor}}'' books consists of becoming one of these; she starts off as a slave, but manages to earn her freedom in the first book and goes on to become a successful jeweller.

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* Alexandria's CharacterArc in the ''Literature/{{Emperor}}'' books consists of becoming one of these; she starts off as a slave, slave but manages to earn her freedom in the first book and goes on to become a successful jeweller.



** Varys and Illyrio began life as a mutilated thief and a street bravo, respectively. They parlayed their skills into becoming Master of Whispers and a Magister of Pentos. By the start of the story they're two of the most powerful chessmasters in the world.

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** Varys and Illyrio began life as a mutilated thief and a street bravo, respectively. They parlayed their skills into becoming Master of Whispers and a Magister of Pentos. By the start of the story story, they're two of the most powerful chessmasters in the world.



* ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'': Jasnah is a pretty straight aversion of NeverASelfMadeWoman. She's the sister to a king, but insists that she'd be able to exert the same authority if she merely convinced people she was royal. While she's never shy about using her wealth and connections, she's far more likely to use her own intelligence and natural charisma. She even refuses to marry in a world where both men and women are expected to pair off by their mid-twenties; she scoffs at the idea that she'd need a man for anything (and her [[PayEvilUntoEvil demonstration with some muggers]] proves that she definitely doesn't need a man for protection). Her mother wryly claims that Jasnah has been a sour-faced scholar since she was five years old, and never needed even a mother.

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* ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'': Jasnah is a pretty straight aversion of NeverASelfMadeWoman. She's the sister to a king, king but insists that she'd be able to exert the same authority if she merely convinced people she was royal. While she's never shy about using her wealth and connections, she's far more likely to use her own intelligence and natural charisma. She even refuses to marry in a world where both men and women are expected to pair off by their mid-twenties; she scoffs at the idea that she'd need a man for anything (and her [[PayEvilUntoEvil demonstration with some muggers]] proves that she definitely doesn't need a man for protection). Her mother wryly claims that Jasnah has been a sour-faced scholar since she was five years old, and never needed even a mother.



** Varys had nothing, even less than Littlefinger, who was at least a minor noble, being born as a slave and prisoner. After he was castrated and thrown into the slums of the Free Cities, he became a pocket thief and whore. There, he learned to extract secrets from his clients. Gradually expanding his power, through his shrewdness and clever use of information he eventually rose to become [[TheSpymaster Master of Whispers]], with a seat on the Royal Council.
** Daario was a literal SonOfAWhore who was once a slave, as his mother was a drunk whore who sold him to get more wine, but through his martial skill earned his master's respect and rose to nationwide fame and was eventually freed. He then moved up the ranks of the Second Sons, eventually becoming their leader and becomes the right hand man to the Mother of Dragons. He also believes he'll return to nothing, and seems pretty okay with it.

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** Varys had nothing, even less than Littlefinger, who was at least a minor noble, being born as a slave and prisoner. After he was castrated and thrown into the slums of the Free Cities, he became a pocket thief and whore. There, he learned to extract secrets from his clients. Gradually expanding his power, through his shrewdness and clever use of information information, he eventually rose to become [[TheSpymaster Master of Whispers]], with a seat on the Royal Council.
** Daario was a literal SonOfAWhore who was once a slave, as his mother was a drunk whore who sold him to get more wine, but through his martial skill earned his master's respect and rose to nationwide fame and was eventually freed. He then moved up the ranks of the Second Sons, eventually becoming their leader and becomes the right hand right-hand man to the Mother of Dragons. He also believes he'll return to nothing, and seems pretty okay with it.



** Xaro Xoan Daxos was a poor immigrant from the Summer Isles when he arrived in Qarth, but became a member of the ruling Thirteen.

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** Xaro Xoan Daxos was a poor immigrant from the Summer Isles when he arrived in Qarth, Qarth but became a member of the ruling Thirteen.



* George Jefferson. He's not as rich as the other guys on this list, but he started off as a janitor and with the help of an insurance settlement opened and ran a [[Series/AllInTheFamily successful dry cleaning store in Queens, New York]]. He managed turn one store into a chain and got enough money to [[Series/TheJeffersons "move on up" to the Upper East Side of Manhattan into a deluxe apartment]]
* Uncle Phil from ''Series/TheFreshPrinceOfBelAir'' was originally a farm boy from a small rural town who managed to better himself and eventually became a rich and successful lawyer and eventually a judge in California. This meant that he usually displayed more common sense than all his children combined -- [[RuleOfFunny usually]]. Sadly deconstructed at the end of one episode after he had all but alienated his farmer parents, because he was acting ashamed of his humble origins. He confesses to Will that, for all his Self Made Man rhetoric, he didn't have it that rough since his parents were always there for him. In a later episode, he chides Will for not asking Phil for help out of a misguided desire to emulate Phil since people had opened doors for Phil too in the past.
* Nikos Karabastos from Brazilian soap opera ''UgaUga'' was originally employee of a toy factory who, tired of his employers not seeing the merit of his ideas, [[StartMyOwn started his own]] toy factory.
* Lionel Luthor in ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' started his fortune with half the insurance money he collected when he had his parents [[SelfMadeOrphan killed in a fire]] (the other half went to pay the killer). He's not actually happy about this, and tries to pretend to be descended from Scottish nobility.

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* George Jefferson. He's not as rich as the other guys on this list, but he started off as a janitor and with the help of an insurance settlement opened and ran a [[Series/AllInTheFamily successful dry cleaning store in Queens, New York]]. He managed to turn one store into a chain and got enough money to [[Series/TheJeffersons "move on up" to the Upper East Side of Manhattan into a deluxe apartment]]
* Uncle Phil from ''Series/TheFreshPrinceOfBelAir'' was originally a farm boy from a small rural town who managed to better himself and eventually became a rich and successful lawyer and eventually a judge in California. This meant that he usually displayed more common sense than all his children combined -- [[RuleOfFunny usually]]. Sadly deconstructed at the end of one episode after he had all but alienated his farmer parents, parents because he was acting ashamed of his humble origins. He confesses to Will that, for all his Self Made Man rhetoric, he didn't have it that rough since his parents were always there for him. In a later episode, he chides Will for not asking Phil for help out of a misguided desire to emulate Phil since people had opened doors for Phil too in the past.
* Nikos Karabastos from Brazilian soap opera ''UgaUga'' was originally an employee of a toy factory who, tired of his employers not seeing the merit of his ideas, [[StartMyOwn started his own]] toy factory.
* Lionel Luthor in ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' started his fortune with half the insurance money he collected when he had his parents [[SelfMadeOrphan killed in a fire]] (the other half went to pay the killer). He's not actually happy about this, this and tries to pretend to be descended from Scottish nobility.



** Carl Robinson was born a slave in the 1850s South and by the 1990s had briefly became a major league baseball star (sadly, he had to fake his death after a duel with another Immortal and start all over).

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** Carl Robinson was born a slave in the 1850s South and by the 1990s had briefly became become a major league baseball star (sadly, he had to fake his death after a duel with another Immortal and start all over).



* Creator/{{Stephen Colbert}}, as a response to one of Mitt Romney's comments, {{deconstructed|Trope}} this trope on ''Series/{{The Colbert Report}}'' by claiming that being forced to acknowledge his 100+ staff had a role in his popularity removes all the significance of his many accolades. As a result, he fired all of his staff and attempted to continue the show purely by himself using nothing but a desk lamp, a dry erase board, and an iPhone.[[note]][[HypocriticalHumor Yes, someone else had to make those items]].[[/note]] During his solo segment, he starts choking on a marker cap and falls unconscious after refusing to let someone help him via the Heimlich maneuver. After the commercial break, Colbert had rehired all of his staff, taking a stance of LetUsNeverSpeakOfThisAgain.

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* Creator/{{Stephen Colbert}}, as a response to one of Mitt Romney's comments, {{deconstructed|Trope}} this trope on ''Series/{{The Colbert Report}}'' by claiming that being forced to acknowledge his 100+ staff had a role in his popularity removes all the significance of his many accolades. As a result, he fired all of his staff and attempted to continue the show purely by himself using nothing but a desk lamp, a dry erase board, board and an iPhone.[[note]][[HypocriticalHumor Yes, someone else had to make those items]].[[/note]] During his solo segment, he starts choking on a marker cap and falls unconscious after refusing to let someone help him via the Heimlich maneuver. After the commercial break, Colbert had rehired all of his staff, taking a stance of LetUsNeverSpeakOfThisAgain.



** Quintus Batiatus is a successful owner of gladiators, making him wealthy but low-born Roman citizen. His ambitions for political office are not taken seriously by the Roman aristocracy.

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** Quintus Batiatus is a successful owner of gladiators, making him wealthy but a low-born Roman citizen. His ambitions for political office are not taken seriously by the Roman aristocracy.



* ''Series/WolfHall'' has Thomas Cromwell confess his origins as son of a Putney blacksmith when he's newly hired by Cardinal Wolsey. Wolsey, a butcher and innkeeper's son, is delighted to find another working-class man in his world of {{Upper Class Twit}}s. Cromwell survives Wolsey's fall and joins Henry's privy council, swiftly taking the position of Master Secretary and becoming the king's NumberTwo. Most people he deals with find having to deal with (and sometimes ''answer to'') a lowborn man anywhere from faintly distasteful to mortally offensive.
* A villainous version occurs in ''Series/DoctorSynTheScarecrow'' with General Pugh, who started in the ranks and expresses his disgust for the commission-purchasing system of the Georgian British army. It seems to make him ''worse'' than a highborn officer would be, since he disdains "gentlemanly" conduct like not threatening civilians and instead goes for the ends justifying the means.

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* ''Series/WolfHall'' has Thomas Cromwell confess his origins as the son of a Putney blacksmith when he's newly hired by Cardinal Wolsey. Wolsey, a butcher and innkeeper's son, is delighted to find another working-class man in his world of {{Upper Class Twit}}s. Cromwell survives Wolsey's fall and joins Henry's privy council, swiftly taking the position of Master Secretary and becoming the king's NumberTwo. Most people he deals with find having to deal with (and sometimes ''answer to'') a lowborn man anywhere from faintly distasteful to mortally morally offensive.
* A villainous version occurs in ''Series/DoctorSynTheScarecrow'' with General Pugh, who started in the ranks and expresses his disgust for the commission-purchasing system of the Georgian British army. It seems to make him ''worse'' than a highborn officer would be, be since he disdains "gentlemanly" conduct like not threatening civilians and instead goes for the ends justifying the means.



* Yermolai Alekhseevich Lopajin from Creator/AntonChekhov's ''Theatre/TheCherryOrchard'', who became rich despite starting as peasant, as a direct contrast with {{Impoverished Patrician}}s like Madame Ranevskaya, Gaiev or Simeonov-Pischik.
* Mr Birling from ''Theatre/AnInspectorCalls'' made his way up the social ladder from a lower-class background and intends to become even more successful; this is the ulterior motive behind his support of the engagement between Gerald Croft, from a richer and more prestigious family, and his daughter Sheila. He firmly believes that "a man has to make his own way" and expresses disapproval of "community and all that nonsense".

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* Yermolai Alekhseevich Lopajin from Creator/AntonChekhov's ''Theatre/TheCherryOrchard'', who became rich despite starting as a peasant, as a direct contrast with {{Impoverished Patrician}}s like Madame Ranevskaya, Gaiev or Simeonov-Pischik.
* Mr Mr. Birling from ''Theatre/AnInspectorCalls'' made his way up the social ladder from a lower-class background and intends to become even more successful; this is the ulterior motive behind his support of the engagement between Gerald Croft, from a richer and more prestigious family, and his daughter Sheila. He firmly believes that "a man has to make his own way" and expresses disapproval of "community and all that nonsense".



** In the same game is the return of Dagna, a dwarf girl first encountered in ''Origins'' whom the Warden could assist in her desire to study the principles of magic. Not the application, since dwarves can't do magic, but the bare bones structure. As a result, she has in the ten years since turned herself into an arcanist, a position that she literally invented because she's the only one who has the requisite knowledge, and it brings her to serve the Inquisition as a GadgeteerGenius.

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** In the same game is the return of Dagna, a dwarf girl first encountered in ''Origins'' whom the Warden could assist in her desire to study the principles of magic. Not the application, since dwarves can't do magic, but the bare bones bare-bones structure. As a result, she has in the ten years since turned herself into an arcanist, a position that she literally invented because she's the only one who has the requisite knowledge, and it brings her to serve the Inquisition as a GadgeteerGenius.



* Andrew Ryan from ''VideoGame/Bioshock1'' plays this trope straight while going as darkly as possible with it. Born Andrei Rianofski in Russia, his family fled the persecution and violence of the Russian revolution. He soon rose to power and wealth through a series of investments. As an adult he used his personal history of having pulled himself up by his own bootstraps to argue against the idea of unions, taxes, and anything that could benefit the public welfare (if they want better working conditions, they should work to become rich like him). Eventually he founds his own underwater city to avoid having to pay dues to an overseeing governmental body, claiming that the new city would operate as a meritocracy where anyone could acquire wealth. Needless to say, Ryan's lack of compassion for his (effectively captive) city's populace goes badly when they're deprived of basic human rights and resources....

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* Andrew Ryan from ''VideoGame/Bioshock1'' plays this trope straight while going as darkly as possible with it. Born Andrei Rianofski in Russia, his family fled the persecution and violence of the Russian revolution. He soon rose to power and wealth through a series of investments. As an adult adult, he used his personal history of having pulled himself up by his own bootstraps to argue against the idea of unions, taxes, and anything that could benefit the public welfare (if they want better working conditions, they should work to become rich like him). Eventually Eventually, he founds his own underwater city to avoid having to pay dues to an overseeing governmental body, claiming that the new city would operate as a meritocracy where anyone could acquire wealth. Needless to say, Ryan's lack of compassion for his (effectively captive) city's populace goes badly when they're deprived of basic human rights and resources....resources...



* ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'': Weiss' grandfather, Nicholas Schnee, was this years before the series began. He not only founded what would become the largest [[AppliedPhlebotinum Dust]] mining company on Remnant, but he also personally led each expedition and helped protect them from Grimm attacks. Unfortunately, people in the present tend to forget this and instead associate the Schnee name with Weiss' CorruptCorporateExecutive of a [[AbusiveParents father]], Nicholas's son-in-law Jacques. Weiss' main-motivation for becoming a Huntress is to follow in her grandfather's footsteps.

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* ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'': Weiss' grandfather, Nicholas Schnee, was this years before the series began. He not only founded what would become the largest [[AppliedPhlebotinum Dust]] mining company on Remnant, Remnant but he also personally led each expedition and helped protect them from Grimm attacks. Unfortunately, people in the present tend to forget this and instead associate the Schnee name with Weiss' CorruptCorporateExecutive of a [[AbusiveParents father]], Nicholas's son-in-law Jacques. Weiss' main-motivation for becoming a Huntress is to follow in her grandfather's footsteps.



* Phase of the Literature/WhateleyUniverse. After being thrown out of his wealthy family, he used a payoff from his father and his knowledge of Goodkind Enterprises to make money using derivatives in the stock market; then he put together a consortium and bought out a series of corporate units that he realized would work better when consolidated. As of spring of his freshman year in ''high school'' he's a billionaire.

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* Phase of the Literature/WhateleyUniverse. After being thrown out of his wealthy family, he used a payoff from his father and his knowledge of Goodkind Enterprises to make money using derivatives in the stock market; then he put together a consortium and bought out a series of corporate units that he realized would work better when consolidated. As of spring of his freshman year in ''high school'' school'', he's a billionaire.



* Xanatos in ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' likes to call himself a self-made man, but does [[WriteBackToTheFuture abusing a time trip and leaving himself a note]] really count as "self-made?" It does when it's a ''self made'' [[StableTimeLoop causality loop]]. He turned a tenth-century coin that he sold for $20,000 into a multi-billion dollar company all on his own. He could have sent back future financial information on stock, commodity, real estate, and currency markets, but that would be too easy. Xanatos sent himself a coin ''that he earned for services rendered in the past'', maximizing his bragging rights. [[MagnificentBastard That's just how he rolls]]. He drags his father into the loop [[WellDoneSonGuy specifically because he wants to prove to him]] that he's a Self Made Man. His dad isn't impressed, and gives him a penny as a wedding present.
* Long Feng from ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''. It's mentioned briefly that he worked his way up to head of the Earth Kingdom's SecretPolice from a middle class childhood. [[spoiler:Part of Azula's BreakingSpeech is insisting that he could never match her "divine right"]].

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* Xanatos in ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' likes to call himself a self-made man, but does [[WriteBackToTheFuture abusing a time trip and leaving himself a note]] really count as "self-made?" It does when it's a ''self made'' [[StableTimeLoop causality loop]]. He turned a tenth-century coin that he sold for $20,000 into a multi-billion dollar company all on his own. He could have sent back future financial information on stock, commodity, real estate, and currency markets, but that would be too easy. Xanatos sent himself a coin ''that he earned for services rendered in the past'', maximizing his bragging rights. [[MagnificentBastard That's just how he rolls]]. He drags his father into the loop [[WellDoneSonGuy specifically because he wants to prove to him]] that he's a Self Made Man. His dad isn't impressed, impressed and gives him a penny as a wedding present.
* Long Feng from ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''. It's mentioned briefly that he worked his way up to head of the Earth Kingdom's SecretPolice from a middle class middle-class childhood. [[spoiler:Part of Azula's BreakingSpeech is insisting that he could never match her "divine right"]].



** EccentricMillionaire Varrick was a poor seal-hunter's son who built up a global shipping business from a single canoe.

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** EccentricMillionaire Varrick was a poor seal-hunter's seal hunter's son who built up a global shipping business from a single canoe.



* Parodied in this joke involving UpperClassTwit woman Pollak von Parnegg, trying to make smalltalk with an American.

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* Parodied in this joke involving UpperClassTwit woman Pollak von Parnegg, trying to make smalltalk small talk with an American.



** [[https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0810/7-millionaire-myths.aspx The vast majority of millionaires,]] at least in the United States are this. Less than 20% had parents who were wealthy albeit most of them came from stable middle class families, rather than poor ones. So, less romantic than the ideal, but still notable.

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** [[https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0810/7-millionaire-myths.aspx The vast majority of millionaires,]] at least in the United States are this. Less than 20% had parents who were wealthy albeit most of them came from stable middle class middle-class families, rather than poor ones. So, less romantic than the ideal, but still notable.



** U.S. patriots owe a lot and pay homage to Creator/BenjaminFranklin. According to Wiki/{{Wikipedia}} "he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical and democratic values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment."

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** U.S. patriots owe a lot and pay homage to Creator/BenjaminFranklin. According to Wiki/{{Wikipedia}} Wiki/{{Wikipedia}}, "he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical and democratic values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment."



** Many figures in UsefulNotes/TheFrenchRevolution were this. UsefulNotes/MaximilienRobespierre, Georges Danton, Louis Antoine de Saint Just were mostly nobodies with middling careers in law who in the course of the Revolution gradually became famous across France and Europe. Since there was no political career and opportunities before the Revolution, all of them made their careers on their ability at oratory, their education and their dedication and hard work, qualities that made them and other Jacobins promote the idea of meritocracy and insist on people earning their ranks in army and political office.

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** Many figures in UsefulNotes/TheFrenchRevolution were this. UsefulNotes/MaximilienRobespierre, Georges Danton, Louis Antoine de Saint Just Saint-Just were mostly nobodies with middling careers in law who in the course of the Revolution gradually became famous across France and Europe. Since there was no political career and opportunities before the Revolution, all of them made their careers on their ability at oratory, their education and their dedication and hard work, qualities that made them and other Jacobins promote the idea of meritocracy and insist on people earning their ranks in army and political office.



** Creator/LeonardoDaVinci was the illegitimate son of a minor nobleman who would not have inherited much by virtue of being a noble bastard (his surname Leonardo da Vinci signified the village of his origin, Vinci, rather than actual family connections). He apprenticed with the artist Verrocchio who admired his talent and patronized him. By the time of his death, he was renowned across Italy for his talent, genius and skill and ended his career as an artist-in-residence for the King of France.

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** Creator/LeonardoDaVinci was the illegitimate son of a minor nobleman who would not have inherited much by virtue of being a noble bastard (his surname Leonardo da Vinci signified the village of his origin, Vinci, rather than actual family connections). He apprenticed with the artist Verrocchio who admired his talent and patronized him. By the time of his death, he was renowned across Italy for his talent, genius genius, and skill and ended his career as an artist-in-residence for the King of France.



* [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madame_C._J._Walker Madame C. J. Walker]] is considered the first case of a self made woman in the USA.

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* [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madame_C._J._Walker Madame C. J. Walker]] is considered the first case of a self made self-made woman in the USA.



** Marie Curie was a Polish scientist born when it was part of the Russian Empire, and she had to study underground in the "Flying University" in Poland before coming to UsefulNotes/{{Paris}} and studying physics while being a poor student living in bad housing with no heating. Her passion for science nonetheless allowed her to proceed undauntered, becoming the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the only one to ''win two''.

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** Marie Curie was a Polish scientist born when it was part of the Russian Empire, and she had to study underground in the "Flying University" in Poland before coming to UsefulNotes/{{Paris}} and studying physics while being a poor student living in bad housing with no heating. Her passion for science nonetheless allowed her to proceed undauntered, undaunted, becoming the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the only one to ''win two''.


** It may have come from killing a priest and stealing a jeweled cross but it's still impressive how in just a few decades John Durgan went from an illiterate backwoods hunter to a cultured millionaire art expert who speaks six languages.

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** It may have come from killing a priest and stealing a jeweled cross but it's still impressive how in just a few decades decades, John Durgan went from an illiterate backwoods hunter to a cultured millionaire art expert who speaks six nine languages.

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** Carl Robinson was born a slave in the 1850s South and by the 1990s had briefly became a major league baseball star (sadly, he had to fake his death after a duel with another Immortal and start all over).
** Hilariously subverted with Duncan's long-time friend Fitz who, over the centuries, constantly works to get himself money only for it to end badly. The biggest example is when in 1929, Fitz has become an actual millionaire...at which point the stock market crash wipes him out.


* On ''Series/Highlander'', several Immortals were basically born into nothing and (thanks to their long lives) became huge successes.

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* On ''Series/Highlander'', ''Series/{{Highlander}}'', several Immortals were basically born into nothing and (thanks to their long lives) became huge successes.

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* On ''Series/Highlander'', several Immortals were basically born into nothing and (thanks to their long lives) became huge successes.
** Amanda was a homeless thief in the 9th century who, thanks to her expert skills at theft, is now so rich she barely even knows how much money she has.
** It may have come from killing a priest and stealing a jeweled cross but it's still impressive how in just a few decades John Durgan went from an illiterate backwoods hunter to a cultured millionaire art expert who speaks six languages.
** Duncan himself was born to a humble Scottish clan and worked over centuries to become rather wealthy (even if he doesn't flaunt it) and train himself as an expert warrior.

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* On ''Series/GrandHotel'', Santiago is the rich owner of a posh Miami resort. When a staff strike hits, the remaining kitchen workers are surprised when Santiago strips off his coat to take the place of the absent head chef. He tells them how he started off working in a kitchen, taught himself to cook to become chef and won enough favor to become manager and then owner. He then opened up two more successful restaurants which gave him the cash to buy the hotel. He shows them all he's still an expert cook as he personally supervises the lunch rush amid the hotel's other issues.


* Mostly Kingo Gondo in ''Film/HighAndLow'', who started out as a cobbler's apprentice and rose to become factory manager for National Shoes, but he also got help from his wife Reiko's dowry.

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* Mostly Kingo Gondo in ''Film/HighAndLow'', ''Film/{{High and Low|1963}}'', who started out as a cobbler's apprentice and rose to become factory manager for National Shoes, but he also got help from his wife Reiko's dowry.


This person owes very little to anyone for their success. The little advantages that they possessed is disproportionate to the scale of their achievements; the principal cause of the latter being their own skills, talent, and merit. Be it through hard work, dedication, commitment to their work, a little cunning, some business acumen, and a dollop of serendipity, they have gone from unimportant to important. This is usually who you get at the end of RagsToRiches, but this is not that trope because the Self Made Man is often there right at the start of the story, whereas RagsToRiches follows the course that leads a character here.

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This person owes very little to anyone for their success. The little few advantages that they possessed is are disproportionate to the scale of their achievements; the principal cause of the latter being their own skills, talent, and merit. Be it through hard work, dedication, commitment to their work, a little cunning, some business acumen, and a dollop of serendipity, they have gone from unimportant to important. This is usually who you get at the end of RagsToRiches, but this is not that trope because the Self Made Man is often there right at the start of the story, whereas RagsToRiches follows the course that leads a character here.


* This is the backstory of the Rivera family in ''WesternAnimation/{{Coco}}''; After Imelda's husband abandoned her ([[spoiler: or so everybody thought]]), she taught herself how to create and sell shoes in order to support herself and her young daughter. The family buisness has been sucessful enough to support her living descendants for four generations and counting. Ernesto De La Cruz also came from humble origins and became rich and famous thanks to his songs. [[spoiler:It turns out he actually [[PlagiarismInFiction stole the songs]] from Imelda's husband Hector and killed him.]]

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* This is the backstory of the Rivera family in ''WesternAnimation/{{Coco}}''; After Imelda's husband abandoned her ([[spoiler: or ([[spoiler:or so everybody thought]]), she taught herself how to create and sell shoes in order to support herself and her young daughter. The family buisness has been sucessful enough to support her living descendants for four generations and counting. Ernesto De La Cruz also came from humble origins and became rich and famous thanks to his songs. [[spoiler:It turns out he actually [[PlagiarismInFiction stole the songs]] from Imelda's husband Hector and killed him.]]


* In ''Film/CanyonPassage'', Logan Stuart built up his freighting business from almost nothing to become one of the richest men in the Oregon territory. At he end of the film, most of his fortune is destroyed when his business is burnt down, but he just views this an opportunity to start over and do it all again.

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* In ''Film/CanyonPassage'', Logan Stuart built up his freighting business from almost nothing to become one of the richest men in the Oregon territory. At he the end of the film, most of his fortune is destroyed when his business is burnt down, but he just views this an opportunity to start over and do it all again.

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* In ''Film/CanyonPassage'', Logan Stuart built up his freighting business from almost nothing to become one of the richest men in the Oregon territory. At he end of the film, most of his fortune is destroyed when his business is burnt down, but he just views this an opportunity to start over and do it all again.


* Exaggerated with Naoya Kawahashi, one of the [[BonusBoss Mr. Shakedown]] encounters in ''VideoGame/{{Yakuza 0}}''. Before he left home, his father told him to make his own way without relying on anyone, which Kawahashi took ''far'' [[LiteralMinded too literally]], to the point that he refuses to even get a job because in his mind that's relying on somebody else, instead getting his money by mugging people in Sotenbori.

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* Exaggerated with Naoya Kawahashi, one of the [[BonusBoss Mr. Shakedown]] encounters in ''VideoGame/{{Yakuza 0}}''. Before he left home, his father told him to make his own way without relying on anyone, which Kawahashi took ''far'' [[LiteralMinded too literally]], to the point that he refuses to even get a job because in his mind that's relying having a boss give you a paycheck counts as "relying on somebody else, instead getting else" in his mind, so he gets his money by mugging people in Sotenbori.Sotenbori instead.


* UsefulNotes/BarackObama caused controversy [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_didn%27t_build_that by calling this trope into question]] - so much so that the Republican slogan for their 2012 National Convention was "We built that!" This, however, was QuoteMining his full statement about the myth of a SelfMadeMan.

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* UsefulNotes/BarackObama caused controversy [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_didn%27t_build_that by calling this trope into question]] - so much so that the Republican slogan for their 2012 National Convention was "We built that!" Built It!" This, however, was QuoteMining his full statement about the myth of a SelfMadeMan.

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