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A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted

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Let's be honest: giving a vast fortune to someone like SpongeBob wasn't a good idea.
Carter: (on phone) Did you blow all your money yet?
Lois: No, Daddy.
Carter: (on phone) Alright, call me when you blow all your money, love ya, bye.

A plot where a non-rich character has a huge and very sudden increase in expendable income, then proceeds to waste it all. This gain in fortune might be for any reason, such as winning a lottery, inheriting the fortune of a rich friend or a long lost family member (maybe On One Condition...), getting a better job, criminal enterprise, inventing the latest popular gadget, a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme that actually works, or even because something was delivered to the wrong address or a computer glitch suddenly put a extra few zeroes on their bank balance. Simultaneously, however, they are handed the Idiot Ball.

Almost invariably, Acquired Situational Narcissism makes the character start to act like an Upper-Class Twit or Nouveau Riche, spend like there's no tomorrow, mindlessly buy "whatever it is that rich people like", make bad investments if they make any, blow off their former friends as has-beens, etc. The Intimidating Revenue Service and distant relatives never heard of before or since may also demand their share of the character's winnings. Within a few days, one of the following happens:

  • The character somehow manages to completely exhaust their fortune except for just enough to buy themselves back into the life they had before.
  • The bank, mafia, CIA, etc., realizes their mistake and sends a collection agent to confiscate the missing funds.
  • They get fired from their new job for gross negligence, making the company look bad, insulting the boss, etc.
  • They get in trouble for something, and to get out of jail time, a mob hit, etc., they must abandon their fortune.
  • A totally trustworthy chap convinces them to secure their fortune in a foolproof investment scheme — whoops, turns out he was a Con Man.

At that point, the character is sincerely worried about their future and the people they left behind, perhaps for the first time in their life. They are now so low that a life in Perpetual Poverty is starting to look good to them, having insulted their old friends, quit their old job, etc., they are likely on the streets. Expect the character to be Easily Forgiven (perhaps being made to squirm a bit first); their friends blow it off as completely unimportant, their old boss hasn't been able to find anyone willing to apply for their old job, the person they sold their old house to is moving out of the area and sells it back to them, and the collection agents go home. In shows where Status Quo Is God, the episode's end will have the character's lifestyle restored to exactly what it had been before. If not, there may be a surprise twist that leaves the character with something after all, perhaps something that couldn't be had for All That Glitters. If a character's life isn't restored at the end, they've gone from Riches to Rags.

There is an element of Truth in Television to this trope. An unfortunately common story among real-life lottery winners (to take one example) who suddenly come into a massive windfall is that they are often so unused to having and managing a large amount of wealth and are often so flush with the elation of having a seemingly unimaginably large amount of money that they don't realise how quickly they're able to spend it or the other financial commitments (such as taxes) that come with it. As such, they've often ended up right back where they started or even worse off; sadly, unlike in fiction, many of these tales don't have happy endings.

Subtrope of Easy Come, Easy Go. Opposite of Broke Episode.

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    Asian Animation 
  • Boonie Bears: In Season 7 episode 9, Logger Vick is picked to receive a large cash award and uses it to deck out his house with fancy decorations and buy a golden car. However, his credit loan becomes too large and the stuff he purchased is repossessed at the end of the episode, leaving him as poor as he was originally.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Serenity comic book Better Days, Malcolm Reynolds and his crew stumble upon a fortune hidden in a temple. Several of them come up with more or less sensible plans for spending their cuts (Kaylee plans to start up a mechanic shop, Wash and Zoe consider either buying a luxury liner, etc.), but Mal ends up allowing the money to be stolen by some Alliance officers he'd previously crossed, both to get the Alliance off his back and because he is afraid the crew will leave him if they all get rich.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • Has happened in the comics multiple times, usually to Donald, sometimes involving his uncle's money (though obviously that isn't usually all lost, or it's lost back to Scrooge). At least once Scrooge even lets him "take care of his business" to have him lose as much money as possible when he realizes he himself can't bear to carry out a bet to do so even though that would lead to greater gains.
      • Part of Donald's trouble with money is explained by him being careful with money: the first thing he does whenever he gets on some money is repay the debts he has collected since the last time he was wealthy and the second is hiding away some to care for Huey, Dewey and Louie whenever necessary (in one story when he was treasure hunting with his friends Josè Carioca and Panchito Pistoles he openly stated that he planned to use his share to pay for their college). Whatever remains ends up getting lost to bad luck, spending too much, or setting up a business that is initially successful before he goes overboard and ruins it.
    • The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck has Scrooge being a former victim of the trope before becoming wealthy for good, albeit he didn't lose it out of foolishness.
    • José Carioca once met a gypsy who predicted he'd get a lot of money but he didn't take it seriously. Eventually, he met two men with what he recognized as a stolen jewel. Knowing the owner's offered a reward, he took it from the "bad guys" and went to the owner's manor, where he got a reward, becoming wealthy. Until the "bad guys" revealed themselves as cops who were about to deliver the jewel back. José had to give it back. The gypsy later told him she'd have told him his wealth wouldn't last long if he had let her finish reading his hand.
  • Monica's Gang: Chuck Billy's father once won the lottery. He donated a part to the church and then he was surrounded by people trying to mooch off, including some distant relatives. By the time Chuck and his mother found his Dad, the money that was left was, as Chuck's mother surmised, enough to buy new clothes for the three of them. Chuck's Dad then went back to the place where he got the prize and tried to borrow money for more tickets.
  • Robin (1993): Tim's father Jack is new money, with his own very successful startup he started with Tim's fiscally responsible mother Janet. Unfortunately, Janet has died by the time the series starts and it becomes clear very quickly that Jack is careless and clueless about money. He ends up bankrupt and losing his company.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert:
    • One story arc has Wally win a billion dollars in a lawsuit and ends with him losing it all in Vegas.
    • In one Sunday strip, Dilbert wins the lottery and is blindsided with an interview from a reporter who asks him what he wants to say to the world.
      Dilbert: Drinks for everybody!
    • Dogbert earns $400,000 selling used cars for a week and loses it all when the bank he deposited it with turns out to be a scam.
    • Another time Dilbert makes a fortune in the stock market and experiences random miseries until the garbage man tells him that the "Law of Found Money" wouldn't allow him to keep randomly acquired cash, and he spends it on a "Cray 9" supercomputer.
  • This happens quite a lot in Popeye; whatever big fortune Wimpy, Olive Oyl or the other supporters make in the last adventure, they'll end up losing it due to some bad investment or whatever. Popeye, on the other hand, seems to like his Perpetual Poverty to a degree, and is such a big softy underneath that crusty exterior, that he will just give away his new wealth to the first needy people he sees.
    • Averted with the fortune Olive inherited from a long-lost Uncle. She merely gave it back to him once he turned out to be alive.
  • Garfield: Mentioned in this comic, as the proverb under Jon's photo in his yearbook.

    Fan Works 
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, a trainer named Dan ended up blowing his Silver Conference earnings at the Goldenrod Game Corner. The next year, he tried to invest in stock options, but they plummeted the next day and he ended up losing his money again.

  • The children's picture book Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday has the titular Alexander get a dollar from his grandparents (back in these days when a dollar was enough to make a kid feel rich) and waste it all in short order on frivolous things like dares with his brothers and more chewing gum than he can actually chew.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure: Book #98 is You are a Millionaire, in which one of the endings has you splitting the satchel of money you found between yourself, your sister, a neighbor, and one of the neighbor's friends, named Roscoe. A few months later, you find a beggar on the street, realizing later that it's Roscoe. He blew through $250,000 in mere months and was left with nothing.
  • This happens, or has happened, in one character's backstory in Stephen King's The Stand. The pop musician Larry Underwood had one big hit and made lots of money out of it, but soon found that there wasn't that much after all and anyway he'd certainly spent it all partying like an idiot. After the world changes and has to be rebuilt, he never mentions to anyone that he was the guy who made that popular song.
  • In the gamebook The Fortress of the Black Cauldron, this how you actually want to end up.
    • If you go back to adventuring, you must stay light, and gold will only weigh you down.
    • If you go back to your life in Plant-Pumpkin, you do not need that much money to begin with.
    • If you become a Gentleman Thief, you can amass as much as you currently possess in a few days anyway.
    • After all, ending up a rich man was never your goal, so no matter how rich you become over the course of the book, you will do whatever you can to end up as poor as you were at the beginning of the story. If you are wealthy, you party until you lose everything, and if you simply have to much to spend, you will use it to rebuild Lennonia and make a statue of Hard-Tooth-Uther.
  • The book, Money Can't Buy Love. Before winning the Maryland Lottery, the heroine is broke, hates her job, and her boyfriend is slow to commit. When she wins, she cheats on her now-fiance with a much younger man, alienates the only two friends she had and quits her job. She also spends foolishly, buying a new car, a mansion, a studio, and a brand-new truck for the younger man. In the end, she loses everything except her car and takes the little money she has left to move to a small town where no one will know her.
  • In Maskerade, the witch Nanny Ogg writes a book and while not wanting to be treated like, er, royalty, ensures she gets a $5,000 advance for her book from a formerly reluctant publisher who has not encountered irritated witches before. Temporarily, this is the most money she has ever had at one time, but her friend Granny Weatherwax soon ensures it is spent well and responsibly... much to Nanny's irritation.
  • Treasure Island:
    • Ben Gunn (who is slightly bonkers) squandered his share of the treasure in three weeks.
    • According to Long John, who got married and opened an inn, every other member of Flint's original crew did this. He gives advice to a new recruit on how not to.
  • A minor example in Horatio Hornblower occurs at the end of Lieutenant and the beginning of Hotspur. Hornblower and Bush get a hundred pounds each in prize money for the Spanish privateer vessels but spend all of it on the dubious delights of Kingstown. Later, Hornblower wins quite a bit of cash (and more importantly, the respect of officers who can give him a new ship) at whist, but all of that goes for his ill-advised wedding to Maria and completing the Hotspur's commission. He doesn't attain true financial security until he gets a permanent stable salary as Colonel of Marinesnote  and marries Lady Barbara Wellesley after Flying Colours.
  • In one of Sholem Aleichem's Tevye the Dairyman stories titled "Tevye Blows a Small Fortune" (an example of In Which a Trope Is Described), — after having a run of luck, Tevye has earned some money and is in a position to better his family's circumstances. Then, he bumps into Menakhem-Mendl, a character from other Aleichem stories, who turns out to be a distant relative of Tevye's wife. Mendl is a schemer who works as a sort of stockbroker and vastly overestimates his competence. However, he talks a good enough game to convince those even more ignorant than himself to invest with him (i.e. Tevye), and by the end of the story, Tevye has lost his investment and is back to being in a precarious financial position.
  • Brewster's Millions: Inverted - in this version, Brewster has to quickly rid himself of a new fortune in order to be able to claim an even larger one (he'd inherited the first fortune from his paternal grandfather and the second comes from his maternal uncle, who hated Brewster's grandfather and didn't want his heir to have anything that came from the man) and desperately tries to fritter it away as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, it turns out to be harder to waste a large fortune than he anticipated, and everything he tries leaves him with more than he started with.
  • In Billionaire Boy, Joe Spud has his life turned upside-down when his father invents a revolutionary toiletry dubbed "Bumfresh"; which is dry toilet paper on one side and a wet wipe on the other. The product turns the initially-poor duo into billionaires a short time after public retail which results in Fiction 500 and a Big Fancy House. Despite Joe's father's ludicrous purchases, he never seemed close to bankruptcy. By the end of the book, however, The Bumfresh brand topples after a new line of products inexplicably turned the user's bottoms purple, including the Queen. Due to the ensuing amount of complaints, the Spud family lose absolutely everything to the bailiffs to cover damages except a homemade toy rocket made out of cardboard rolls. They move in with Joe's middle-class schoolmate Bob and his mother in the end.
  • In the George Orwell novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying, the bookstore clerk and aspiring poet Gordon Comstock is so poor that he must ration every penny of his meagre weekly income. Then an American magazine sends him a $50 cheque for one of his poetry submissions. This sudden windfall goes right to Gordon's head, and despite resolving to save half the money for his sister, he spends all of it in a single night on expensive food, booze, and hookers.

  • "A Pirate Looks at Forty" by Jimmy Buffett:
    I've done a bit of smuggling, I've run my share of grass
    I made enough money to buy Miami, but I pissed it away so fast
    Never meant to last...
  • "Dumb Dick" by Kool Moe Dee repeatedly notes this as a major flaw of the titular Dick, which goes hand-in-hand with his uncontrollable libido. Despite initially having a good-paying job, and later having a stint as a drug dealer, Dick was prone to overspending on his various girlfriends, which leaves him with little money left for himself. Moe even points out that Dick's spending habits meant he could never make the money a successful dealer does. When he's finally both fired from his job and cut off by his drug suppliers, he goes flat broke, and his girlfriends quickly reveal their true colors and leave him.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of Luke. A young man asks his dad for his inheritance now (another way of saying "Why won't you just die?"), and takes it to a far country, where he blows it on wine, women, and song. Familiarity with the story has dulled the scandal of the father's running to meet the returning (destitute and penitent) son with forgiveness and a celebration.note 
  • A long-term variation with the myth of king Midas. He wished that anything he touched would turn into gold, which was granted. He enjoyed his newfound wealth right up until dinnertime, when the inconvenience of his new power revealed itself to him. Realizing his foolishness, he went on a pilgrimage to wash himself in the river Pactolos and get rid of his power, explaining why that river tended to have gold nuggets in it.

  • About a billion Amos And Andy episodes involve Andy and/or Kingfish coming across money and then losing all of it by the end of the show.

  • In the first scene of Peter Schickele's a capella opera Go for Broke, John Q. Public wins the lottery. In the next several scenes, "Taxes," "Charity," "Kin," and "Company at the Bar," he has to part with his winnings. There is a happy ending in the final scene.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: Cyrano received his parental bounty and used it all to pay the entrance fees of the Burgundy Theater at Act I Scene IV, so Cyrano has no money for the rest of the month. Le Bret lampshades Cyrano's folly, but Cyrano calls this "a graceful act".
    Le Bret: [with the action of throwing a bag] How! The bag of crowns?...
    Cyrano: Paternal bounty, in a day, thou'rt sped!
    Le Bret: How live the next month?...
    Cyrano: I have nothing left.
    Le Bret: Folly!
    Cyrano: But what a graceful action! Think!

    Video Games 
  • Adelle of Final Fantasy Tactics A2 uses this as her standard procedure whenever she gets something good—much to the chagrin of Luso and Cid when they try to get her to pay them what they would have gotten for the loot she stole. She's already spent every penny on gourmet food and fine clothes.
    "It's policy. Why keep for tomorrow what I can spend today?"
  • In the aptly-titled The Fool and His Money, a sequel to The Fool's Errand, the Fool loses all the treasures he earned in the previous game to pirates within the first five minutes and has to get them back. It should be noted that he never intended to keep the treasures for himself, however, and the main reason he spends the entire game working to get them back is that they need to be returned to their rightful owners.
  • Pirates: Legend of the Black Buccaneer have this happening in the Bad Ending. You escape the Island alone without your Love Interest Vanilla, and once you made it back to civilization you then started indulging in women, wine, gambling... and months later you're broke again. The ending cutscene even name-drops the trope.
  • Tekken 4:
    • In Marshall Law's ending, he uses the prize money for winning the tournament to open a series of Chinese restaurants. However, when someone insults his cooking he beats up them and a bunch of their friends, then gets sued to bankrupcy and has to go back to running a dojo.
    • Subverted in Paul Phoenix's ending. He starts living a ritzy lifestyle with his winnings, but one night he's out walking when he sees Marshall teaching a bunch of students martial arts and realizes that his wealth has corrupted him, so he simply walks away from it and goes back to being a poor martial artist voluntarily.
  • Implied and subverted in Forest Law's ending in Tekken Tag Tournament 2. After winning the tournament and getting the prize money. Paul and he intended to blow it all at Las Vegas (much to the anger of Forest's father, Marshall). However just as they're within the city limits, they see a family having lost their home to a fire. They decide to give the money to them.
  • Joon Yorigami of Touhou Project is notorious for this, often blowing the money she gains from swindling others on unnecessary tat such as fur-trimmed coats, shades and even credit cards. This ironically makes her not that different from her sister Shion, as neither of them can hold onto any money for very long. Then again, not that it matters to her since she can just get more from conning someone else...
    • One of the manga suggests that frivolous spending is the reason Reimu Hakurei is always poor, though other stories suggest that her lack of work ethic (befriending youkai instead of destroying them) or the perennial destruction of the shrine she works/lives at (frequently by aforementioned youkai) are just as much to blame.
  • In Sam & Max: Freelance Police, the titular duo acquire massively inflating amounts of money that they casually drop on Bosco for 'inventions' that experience has already shown will be a lame household item. A billion dollars for a snot rag? Sure, here you go!
  • In Suikoden:
    Grady: Please take this. A small gift from the villagers.
    Kanaan: Well, thank you very much.
    Found 10,000 bits!
    Kanaan: This is dangerous, so I'll hold on to it.
    10,000 bits stolen!

    Web Comics 
  • Jared from Manly Guys Doing Manly Things gets an internship that pays $500 a weeknote ... which he promptly spends on gummy bears and movie costume replicas. And a bubble trap for his Secret Base. And getting his stomach pumped after eating $500 worth of gummy bears at once.
  • When Bob the washing machine robot in Atomic Laundromat angrily demands to know why he doesn't get a paycheck, David responds by saying he does, but it's being put directly into a savings account since Bob is horrible with money and spends it on ridiculous things, which the embarrassed Bob admits to forgetting.
  • In Ozy and Millie, Timulty is given a lot of money just for mentioning that he knows something about the internet (the comic was parodying the dot com bubble before it burst). He immediately blows all of it on candy.
  • Referenced in Kill Six Billion Demons after a group of devils pull off a wildly successful bank robbery; rather than naivety, it comes down to the fact that devils are hedonistic, unfettered creatures of pure ego and desire, so prudent financial management isn't exactly a priority to them.
    Oscar: Let's fill our pockets and go blow it all on booze.
    • Inverted right after they accidentally lead a crazed and unhinged Mottom and her floating fortress straight into Mammon's vault, meaning everyone in Throne can be filthy rich if they just harvest the gold coins literally flowing in the streets. Instead of everyone simply taking this wealth and buying entire planets elsewhere, life on Throne returns to relative normality after a year, and mercenaries still enlist in Mammon's suicidal war. A fool is soon united with new money and still remains a fool.
  • Subverted in PVP when Robbie and Jase, the company frat-bro jocks, win the lottery. Everyone else thinks they're going to blow all the money on beer, a mansion and fast living and wind up broke. They're stunned to discover one of the first things Robbie does is hire a financial manager to make sure he stays rich...then he buys the mansion, the beer and starts the fast living.

    Web Original 
  • This potential employer from Not Always Working doesn't even know what these "savings" you're talking about are. Unsurprisingly, the applicant doesn't stick around.
  • Plumbing the Death Star: One of the last two tropes mentioned in "Exploiting Television Tropes for Financial and Personal Gain" is the tendency for characters to strike oil in their backyard, find money on the bus, or find some other crazy method to get rich instantly. However, they conclude that if they followed the trope completely, they'd have to lose the money since these type of scenarios tend to involve a form of Friend-or-Idol Decision where they either must return the money to its rightful owner or keep it, wherein the character always chooses to return it out of moral obligation.
  • Text Theater: Carl won 3 million dollars and left his wife Megan and remarried with a younger woman. However Carl's new wife divorced him after she caught him cheating on her and he was forced to pay 1 million dollars in compensation and she withdrew the rest, leaving Carl broke. Carl became so desperate to pay his debts that he tried to rob a convenience store but was caught by the police.


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Alternative Title(s): A Fool And Her New Money Are Soon Parted, Sudden Wealth Syndrome


Porous Pockets

Thanks to SpongeBob throwing his money away like that to all those moochers, he is completely broke within seconds.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

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Main / AFoolAndHisNewMoneyAreSoonParted

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