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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.note 
Family Guy, "Lottery Fever"

A plot where one 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", 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.

Compare and contrast:


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kankichi Ryotsu of Kochikame had been making his fortunes multiple times throughout the series whether from an inheritance, gambling or selling popular products. He always loses all his wealth from overspending, bad investments or from accidents. He's back to being a patrol officer again.
  • In the Water 7 Arc of One Piece, it's implied that, prior to stealing the Straw Hats' two hundred million, whenever the Franky Family got into some cash they'd lose it either through partying or betting at the races. And what happened to the remaining money? It ended up being spent on the Straw Hats and friends' victory party. Nami is furious to learn this. However, it turns out to be a zig-zagged example as while the Franky Family did blow a lot of the money they stole from the Straw Hats into the various parties, betting and such as, Franky made much better use of part of it, in order to buy some legendary Adam wood, the best quality wood in the world, to build the Straw Hats a new ship to replace the lost Going Merry.
  • In Tactics, whenever Kantarou and thus, the gang, come into any money, it's guaranteed never to last very long, much to Youko's despair.
  • Faye from Cowboy Bebop has this as a recurring problem. Every time she comes into a good chunk of money (either through swindling or genuine bounty hunting) she'll blow it betting on races and lose it all in an instant. Spike even calls her out on it but she proclaims "It's better than keeping it in the bank." The episode "My Funny Valentine" explains why she does this: she's an amnesiac who was awakened from cryogenic suspension several years ago by a disreputable doctor who told that she owed a lot of money for her storage and thawing. On top of that, she was taken in by a charming con artist who faked his death in order to dump all the debt he'd racked up onto her as well. Since she's drowning in debt already and has neither a past nor a future, she sees no reason to actually try to save her money.
  • Ryo Saeba and Kaori Makimura from City Hunter have this problem, with two good reasons: their continuous fights often damage their home and the Cat's Eye cafe (resulting in them having to pay for the repairs of their home and refunding Umibozu and Miki for the damage at the Cat's Eye), and Ryo tends to go through very expensive ammunition like it is water. Even before those fights started to give cause, Ryo managed to spend one hundred million yen in one week. The inserts in the Complete Edition of the manga explain he gave them all to the rehab center where he had recently sent a group of junkies.
  • In one episode of Tenchi Universe, Ryoko is tasked to get food for the gang as they're running low on their trip to Jurai. Ryoko, being a little more amoral than her OVA counterpart, runs off with the money, wins big in races and treats herself to a vacation. When Ryo-Ohki guilt-trips Ryoko into doing the right thing, she's blown the money on the vacation and what's left is converted to almost nothing, forcing her to rob a bank to get the money.
  • An early episode of Tenchi in Tokyo had the girls make money on their own so they can use it to visit Tenchi (they had a gateway, but Tenchi got tired of it and blocked it). Sasami ends up being the one who makes the most money. The very next episode, Sasami uses the gateway to escape the girls - they became so desperate, they started hounding her for her money - and Tenchi decides to let her use it.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
    • A variant happens in Diamond Is Unbreakable, when Josuke, Okuyasu, and Shigechi win a small fortune on a lottery ticket. Josuke's mom takes his share and puts it in a secure bank account to keep him from pulling this trope, so he ends up not seeing a single yen. (Okuyasu intentionally puts his share in the bank, as he's actually very sensible with money.)
      • Played straight in an earlier scene, where Joseph Joestar needs to buy baby supplies for the invisible baby they found and borrows Josuke's card with all his saved up money (since he doesn't have his own money on hand). Due to a combination of being rich enough to not really think about money, not understanding the dollar-to-yen exchange rate, the onset of senility and a very pushy salesman, the money is soon gone. However, Josuke gets back at him by stealing his wallet later on.
    • The eponymous Stand of the Milagro Man arc in Jojolion is capable of creating and duplicating money, and anyone who does as little as touch it will constantly earn money no matter how much they spend it, or how much they destroy. Oh, don't worry, there's no mandatory part where you'll inevitably lose all of it; instead, you'll be quite literally buried in ever-multiplying money and either get crushed to death or suffocate. The only way to dispel the Milagro Man's curse is to actually invoke this trope, either by returning the money to its previous owner or transfer the curse to some poor sap by tricking them into destroying it.
  • In Kill la Kill Mako and her family have to live in the slums due to her status as a No-Star student in the despotic state run by the Kiryūin family. When she gets elevated to Two-Star, her family gets to live in a mansion and her father gets a fancy clinic as opposed to the back-alley one he operated in prior. And of course, the entire family ends up suffering from Acquired Situational Narcissism while Mako tries desperately to preserve their new way of life (just as Satsuki planned), only for them to realize what they've become and renounce their newfound wealth and status.
  • In Eyeshield 21, the Devil Bats' coach, Doburoku Sakaki, wins $17 million betting on their game against the Shinryuji Nagas. A few chapters later, he loses all the money he didn't squander celebrating their win by betting on another game when the Taiyo Sphinx get stomped by the dark-horse Hakushu Dinosaurs.
  • In Last Period, the broke heroes win a massive fortune from the lottery. Due to their profligate spending, they manage to end up back in bankruptcy by the end of the episode.

    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.

    Films — Animated 
  • The plot of Shark Tale revolves around Oscar being found responsible for the death of Lenny's brother Frankie, which makes him a famous celebrity known as the Sharkslayer. In the end after he reveals it was just an anchor that killed Frankie out of nowhere and he didn't do anything, he relinquishes all his wealth and fades to obscurity.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Rocky II: Having no experience handling large amounts of money, Rocky soon loses the money he won from the first movie's fight from buying a house and a new car amongst other things. His lack of other marketable skills results in him and his wife going into the red soon.
  • This goes to a new level in Rocky V. Paulie, who was acting as Rocky's agent, signed power of attorney over to Rocky's accountant prior to his bout with Ivan Drago in the previous film. He proceeded to embezzle Rocky's money, and ended up blowing it all in shady real estate dealings. Rocky ended up bankrupt, forcing him to liquidate his estate, move back into urban Philadelphia, and take a job at Mickey's old gym to make ends meet (and Adrian returning to her pet store).
  • The Jerk: Navin Johnson invents a device to hold people's glasses in place and makes millions. He spends like an idiot, then loses everything when the customers sue him because the device made them go cross-eyed. Averted at the end when he moves back home and finds that his family has become wealthy by investing the money he sent them.
  • Dumb and Dumber: Lloyd has absolutely no financial savvy. Give him a briefcase full of money, and he has even less.
  • Blank Check: A 12-year-old boy gets and blows a million dollars, in one week, in such crazy kiddie stuff like going on a shopping binge at Toys 'R' Us (and renting a limo to go there) and an extreme birthday party. Lampshaded by the Big Bad (who had been spending the whole film trying to get the money back) being utterly shocked that Preston could blow through it so quickly
  • Subverted in Brewster's Millions (1985). Everyone thinks this is happening to Brewster, but he's deliberately trying to waste a fortune as part of a condition of his inheritance. It's implied that the condition is there to teach him how quickly a fortune can be lost. Or how cheap money, and the "happiness" it buys, can be if you splurge stupidly and intentionally.
  • In the movie It Could Happen to You, Charlie's wife Muriel divorces him after he wins four million dollars in the lottery and turns out to have promised half the winnings to a waitress, Yvonne, in lieu of a tip. The divorce lawyers claim the winnings to be the wife's since "he bought the ticket for her," even though the numbers weren't exactly the ones she picked. After getting ahold of both shares, Muriel - dreaming of even more money - marries another "millionaire" who turns out to be a con man who steals the money; she's forced to live with her mother in a small apartment and go back to work at her old job in a nail salon. Charlie and Yvonne end up much better off.
  • Matahi and his lover Reri flee their home island of Bora Bora (it's a long story) in Tabu. They find their way to an island run by French colonialists, and Matahi gets a job as a pearl diver, which he's very good at. Unfortunately, he has no concept of how to handle money, so he spends all the money he made on the pearl and a hell of a lot more, leaving him buried in debt.
  • The Pagan: Sort of—it isn't new money, as Henry inherited the plantation, even if he's never bothered to work it. But Henry is a Pacific Islander with little knowledge of Western commerce. His attempt to become a businessman and start making money on his plantation rapidly results in his plantation being foreclosed on, as he has no clue that the loans he's been taking out have to be repaid.
  • The Sting: The story starts with con artist Hooker and his partner Luthor lifting a fortune off of a guy who was running money for a big crime boss's operation. Unfortunately, Hooker has absolutely no sense when it comes to money and he manages to blow his entire cut in less than a day on a rigged roulette game. Even more unfortunately, his Conspicuous Consumption clues in the crime boss as to who stole from him, resulting in Luthor (who had planned to use his share of the money to get out of grifting and buy into a relative's mostly legal shipping business) getting murdered in retaliation.
  • In Things Change (1988), Don Ameche plays a shoeshine man who is hired to take a murder rap for a mob boss. With several days until he is to turn himself in, his handler (Joe Montegna) takes him to Tahoe for a last (and probably first) spree. Unfortunately, Ameche is taken for a real mob bigshot and the casino makes sure he wins at a rigged roulette table but it goes too far, giving him a fortune which the casino wants back. When a terrified Montegna convinces him to return the money (which Ameche thinks he won fairly) because it wouldn't be polite to keep their host's money, he bets it all the no-limit Big Wheel. If he wins, he bankrupts the casino (probably leading to their deaths). He misses by one number and, when the wheel girl says she's sorry, Ameche shrugs and says "Things change".

  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Season 1 of Better Call Saul, Jimmy receives a $30,000 bribe from the Kettlemans, and plans to use it to take his business to the next level. He immediately buys a fancy new suit, a billboard, and a big new office. Almost immediately after, he has to get rid of the suit and billboard to avoid getting sued for copyright infringement, and he has to return the bribe in order to help his girlfriend Kim get her job back after her Mean Boss demotes her for losing the Kettlemans as clients.
  • Breaking Bad:
  • In a two-part episode of The Bob Newhart Show, Orphan Dentist Dr. Jerry Robinson spends a newfound fortune to advertise looking for the parents who put him up for adoption.
  • In The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "The Man in the Bottle", a genie grants a shop-keeper and his wife four wishes. One of those wishes is for a million dollars, but they end up with only $5 after giving large sums to their friends and paying taxes to the IRS. Despite the four wishes, the couple ends up in the exact same condition as they were at the beginning of the episode. The husband had wished to lead a country and not be in danger of being voted out of office, so the genie turned him into Adolf Hitler - about to commit suicide at the end of World War II. He used his last wish to undo this one, and he and his wife gained a new appreciation for their modest lifestyle.
  • In the "Lotto Fever" episode of Cold Case, the victim wins 8 million dollars in the Pennsylvania Lottery. He spends his money foolishly (huge house, race car, go-karts for himself and his friends, etc) but he was still the nice guy everyone remembers and gave money to his friends and family. Before he was killed by his sister and her husband he had enough money left to move back into his old apartment and was working at his old job again, but not before giving his last $100,000 to the one friend who didn't ask him for anything after he won. She received the money in the Medley Exit.
  • Married... with Children:
    • One episode has Jefferson finding out that a doll treasured by his wife, Marcy, is worth millions, so he gets a different doll, switches it with the one Marcy owns, and then sells her doll for the fortune without her knowing, while getting Al to pretend to be him on the night he does this in order to prevent Marcy from becoming suspicious, on the promise that Al would get his share upon Jefferson's return. The problem? Jefferson loses the entire fortune at a casino on the way back, meaning Al had just spent a night with a neighbor he abhorred... FOR NOTHING.
    • Really, just about any time Al comes into any amount of money in any way, it's lost just as quickly, either to his wife's frivolous spending or one of his get-richer-quick schemes not panning out.
  • While many of the drug deals arranged by the Trailer Park Boys are in fact successful and net a large amount of money, our heroes typically end up quickly spending it or losing it altogether. This means they have to come up with another drug deal in the next season.
  • Spin City has an episode where Paul wins the jackpot on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. Ensuing episodes have him use the money to open a political-themed restaurant named "Wonk".
  • Castle has the title character recall how he acted out this trope when, while he was still in college, his first book became a bestseller and he became rich overnight. He quickly spent his new fortune on expensive luxuries. Luckily for him, his next book also sold really well and he learned to be smarter with his money by then. In the present, Castle is portrayed as being quite rich but so practical with money that it does not really show. Castle reveals this during an episode that features a murder victim who won the lottery and then seemed to spend the money on extravagant things as well as giving money away to homeless people. Castle figures out that this was due to guilt over stealing the winning lottery ticket (albeit only because the actual ticket-owner died of natural causes before he could collect his winnings and the victim had purchased both their tickets on the older man's behalf).
  • On Parks and Recreation, Jean-Ralphio gets a lot of money from what is implied to be a scam (he was hit by a Lexus and won the lawsuit), and he uses it to start Entertainment720. He hires Tom to help him and together they spend the money on extremely extravagant gimmicks, including hiring two professional basketball players to play one-on-one all day in their office, giving a free iPad to anyone who visits, and paying random women $100,000 a year with free medical benefits to do nothing more than sit at desks and look pretty. Though billed as an entertainment company, they initially have no source of revenue or a plan to get a source of revenue, and they go bankrupt in short order.
  • Firefly. After the crew knocks over the Ariel hospital, they've got a small fortune in medical supplies. They get to enjoy their wealth for about half an episode before they end up spending most of it to spring Wash from Niska's torture room. The show was cancelled before they managed to fence the Lassiter they acquired in "Trash".
  • An episode of The Facts of Life, wherein Jo's dad burns through $300K in a few days.
  • In an episode of The Wonder Years, Paul Pfeiffer's dad takes a risky investment in an oceanfront deal which ends up paying off big, leaving Kevin's dad, who decided not to join in on the investment, jealous. It all goes south in the end when the oceanfront is lost underwater.
  • Prof. Oglevee on The Parkers is told that he has inherited $10M from his uncle. He moves out of his apartment and into an expensive house in a gated community, passes out hundred dollar bills to everyone on campus, hires bodyguards to keep him away from Nikki (they let her pass because she made them pies), buys custom-made clothes and shoes, as well as two very expensive cars plus another one for his new girlfriend Paris. He also makes a lot of other expensive purchases. And this is all BEFORE he received one cent from his uncle's estate. In the end, the estate is hit for back taxes, leaving the Professor with an inheritance of ONLY ten dollars. Of course he's broke and homeless, and Nikki is more than happy to help him out.
  • Season 2 of 2 Broke Girls lampshades the fact that even when you try to avert this trope, it can still play out straight. The girls get a large sum of money from their friend Sophie as a loan/investment and use it to finally start their cupcake store. They try to be very frugal with the money, don't spend any of it on personal items and even keep working as waitresses in the diner to pay for rent and food. However, they misjudged their market, their location is not ideal and they make a number of costly mistakes like not buying business insurance. Their business is losing money and they are only saved from bankruptcy because a developer offers to buy out their lease. They barely manage to pay off their debts and are back in the same place financially as they were at the beginning of the series.
  • In Season 8 of The Office (US), the six dockworkers won $950,000 in a collective lottery pool and quit, leaving the Scranton branch without anyone to load shipments. At the end of the season, two of Darryl's workers apply for their jobs back, saying they made a bad investment in an "energy drink for Asian homosexuals."
  • In Nash Bridges episode "Patriots", Joe gets a side-job for an insurance company to do some watchover over some Arabian royal prince about to get a heart transplant. Having watched for two days how the the prince indulges in debauchery at the hotel and frequents shady bars, and pays with checks that bounce, Joe dismisses his one million dollar check of gratitude when all is over, going as far as shredding the check to prove his certainty to his SIU colleagues. Immediately, a call from the bank comes asking in what currency Joe would like to claim his money.
  • Big Time Rush, the boys complain of not getting more money for their hard work which is being frozen in accounts until they reach 21. So Griffin gives them a challenge of giving each $20,000 and not spending it all within 48 hours. Naturally, the boys flub it from the word "Go". James buys a snake in order to impress a girl which fails, Carlos hires an assistant and loses his money having to pay his fees, Logan throws away his money tipping people left and right and Kendall, who was trying to be responsible and invest it, accidentally buys a truckload of oranges. The boys just barely manage to get their money back through some last-minute contrivances but do learn their lesson by the end of it.
  • This is the central premise of Ballers. Spencer is a former NFL star who tried to be careful with his money but still lost all of it when his crooked manager embezzled it. In the present, Spencer works as a financial manager trying to help other professional football players avoid his mistakes. One of his new clients is almost pathologically unable to not spend his money on frivolous luxuries and maintaining a massive posse of hangers-on. He only starts to listen to Spencer when a Hookers and Blow situation threatens to derail his career and he realizes how broke he really is.
  • Happens quite a bit in Silicon Valley.
    • Big Head is already shown to be a well-meaning guy but also basically a moron. Thus, it's no surprise that when he gets $20 million in a buyout from Hooli, he ends up blowing it fast. After buying a big mansion, he has the pool moved to a different part of the yard then has it moved back when he realizes the new spot can't be hooked up to water lines. It's also revealed he was actually renting most of the furniture and items in his house which means he can't sell them off to pay his debts. True, his manager ends up embezzling a lot but it's obvious Big Head would have run through it fast on his own.
      • Further compounding matters is that Erlich convinces Big Head to go into business with him just so he can use Big Head's wealth for his own gains. Erlich then spends over a million dollars on a huge party at Alcatraz before discovering Big Head is broke. While Erlich figures out the manager has been stealing Big Head's money, a district attorney refuses to prosecute as she argues that Erlich and Big Head would have ended up blowing all the cash anyway.
    • Jian Yang, a Chinese expat who rooms with the main guys in the "Incubator" house, similarly runs into this in Season 5. After creating his own app and getting a pretty penny for it, he ends up squandering it all on gambling and other frivolous expenses, forcing him back at square one.
    • Played with when Richard is ready to buy a new office for the company. He cites how he wants to avoid the mistake of wasting money on a large space they can't really afford without fancy decorations, etc. But he goes too far in the opposite direction by buying a blank room that's barely enough for more than 10 people. The rest of the group have to point out that a place with at least windows might be more enticing for employees and investors.
  • In the pilot of Defiance Nolan wins a massive wad of scrip in Datak Tarr's underground fighting ring when he beats a Bio-man. However, Datak wasn't going to let him get away with knocking out his best enforcer and takes most of the winnings at gunpoint, leaving him only a small amount "for your troubles", which Nolan promptly spends at a brothel.
  • All off-screen, but during one of Bones's season break time skips, Vincent Nigel-Murray (the squintern constantly spouting trivia) went on Jeopardy! and won a large sum of money, explaining why he was no longer working at the Jeffersonian. He returned shortly after. Not only had he spent all (or at least most) of the money, he's now in AA, as the lifestyle he was living was apparently more hedonistic than indulgent.
  • This happened to Del in Only Fools and Horses. He won about £6 million from the sale of an antique watch in Time On Our Hands, then was revealed to have quickly lost the lot on the Futures Market between that episode and the following specials.
  • The Golden Girls: Seems to be this when Rose's daughter finds out she's lost the considerable fortune her husband left her. Subverted when it turns out there was no fortune to begin with, and Rose only lied about it to make her believe Charlie was a more successful businessman than he actually was.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati: Johnny Fever gets a hefty settlement for being improperly fired from a previous job. After blowing a chunk of it on frivolous junk ("Soap you can see through!") he winds up giving the remainder to his daughter.
  • One episode of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues has The Ancient being given a lottery ticket that later turns out to have won a $20 million jackpot. After spending the entire episode being hunted by people who want to grab the ticket before he can cash it, he holds a press conference in which he donates all his winnings to a variety of charities.
  • Subverted for laughs on The Resident. When Dr. Bell discovers a new patient just won $36 million in the lottery, he immediately starts sucking up to him in hopes of getting a huge donation for the hospital. In the end, the man cuts the check with Bell surprised to see it's only for a few thousand dollars. The man reveals that rather than take the full winnings immediately, he chose to have his fortune given to him in annual installments which are taxed less and eventually add up to more money. He fails to see Bell's forced smile as he openly laughs "Come on, only an idiot thinks it's better to get $36 million right off the bat!"
  • In the second season of Joey, the title character lands a leading role in an action blockbuster. While on the phone with his agent, she tries to defy this by begging him to be careful with his money. He tries to assure her that he will be careful, only to spot his first impulse buy (an International CXT) before he can finish the sentence.
  • The Boys (2019): A-Train, the Seven's resident Super Speedster, suffers from this, given that his status as the "fastest fucking man alive" is shown to be analogous to professional athletes (who are very susceptible to this). He falls into debt almost immediately once his income stream dries up, and is shown to have bought a lot of frivolous things over his career, like Prince's guitar. One deleted scene clarifies that he makes forty million dollars a year, but has only about 240,000 in the bank, and he has spent at least some of that money on thirteen houses, a private jet (which he can outrun on foot), a private island he's never visited, and having the ashes of Jan Michael Vincent shot into space.
  • Played with in the Full House episode "You Pet It, You Bought It". It's first discussed: Upon learning that Michelle has made $221 by selling lemonade, Danny suggests her to save her money, but Jesse advocates for her to "live a little" with some spending, with Michelle responding: "I'm gonna live a lot". Then it's downplayed, as she gets Kimmy to take her to a candy store, only to come back with a donkey instead of candy, expending all of her savings doing so. Near the end of the episode, Michelle is forced to agree with everyone else that the donkey can't stay after witnessing the property damage he has caused inside the house, though it takes her a brief moment to accept the fact that the donkey will be donated and not sold.
    Michelle: That's it? I'm broke?
  • In the season 2 finale of Malcolm & Eddie, the pair sell their bar for a nice profit, intending to go their separate ways. In season 3, they have to reunite with Malcolm hoping to buy the bar back... until Malcolm discovered Eddie spent almost all of his money on useless electronics, including a Soviet era satellite dish and more.
    • The worst is when Malcolm realizes too late that when Eddie said he "invested in CD's," he meant compact discs.

  • "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...

    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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Ickis went through this on an episode of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters; the monsters' currency is toenails, so he struck it rich by stealing from an eccentric millionaire who saves his toenail clippings. Ickis gets greedy and is nearly caught by the human, who concludes it was all a dream... telling him to clean up his act. Meanwhile, Ickis ends up losing his stash of toenails on his way home.
  • Adventure Time - "Furniture & Meat". After practically hoarding their gold stash gotten from their adventures, Finn and Jake realize they can actually spend it and proceed to do so. Of course anyone who knows these characters know it won't take long to burn through it: they end up insulting Wildberry Princess who has them arrested, confiscates their gold, then melts it to have it poured over them as punishment. After they escape, their once huge pile is now barren. They don't mind, but the gold would have been pretty useful four episodes later when one of Jake's kids repossesses their house.

  • All Hail King Julien episode "Gimme Gimme Gimme: The Game" has King Julien try to establish a money-based economy based on just his experience with a Monopoly-like board game. Giving everyone an equal amount of money and then just leaving it at that turns out to be a terrible idea and it doesn't take long for everyone to be broke and all the money ending up in the hands of one person.
  • In American Dad! episode "There Will be Bad Blood," Stan inherited 20 grand from his grandfather as a teenager while his half brother Rusty inherited land. Years later Rusty has made millions in mineral rights from the land, and when Rusty asked Stan what he did with the money he says he lost it, not in stocks or bonds he left it on it on the bus.
  • In the Animaniacs episode "Temporary Insanity", Yakko Warner tricks Plotz into signing a check worth zillions. As soon as Yakko shows it to his siblings, Plotz rips it out.
    Yakko: We're rich!
    [Plotz yanks the check away from Yakko and goes back to his office]
    Yakko: ...We're poor!
  • Batman: The Animated Series, "Joker's Millions". Rival gangster King Barlowe inexplicably leaves his entire fortune to the Joker, who's so strapped for cash he doesn't even question it. Only after he's bribed his way to freedom, hired a new Harley and outright thrown money into the streets does he find a video will revealing the catch - less than a tenth of what he inherited is real money (which he already spent). Everything else is counterfeit, and he can either face the Intimidating Revenue Service or admit to the world he's been had.
  • The Beetlejuice episode "A Ghoul and His Money" has the Ghost With The Most winning a healthy sum of money in a sweepstakes, but the company refuses to hand over the prize unless he swears not to "juice" anybody (play a prank). He turns the other cheek when other denizens insult him, but when they insult Lydia... well, B.J. may kiss his money goodbye but it's a principle for which he stands up.
  • BoJack Horseman has Todd get 8 million dollars as an owner of a company Mr. Peanutbutter sold... Only for him to immediately lose it during his celebratory dinner. And not on the dinner itself, that was just fast food, but on tipping the waitress. This is an interesting example because BoJack is the type of show where every choice the characters make matters and things don't generally revert to status quo; except in this case, where they intentionally play the trope as straight as possible, all while drawing attention to it.
    Todd: Oh crap! I accidentally tipped the waitress eight million dollars! Well, guess I'm broke again.
  • Clone High has an early episode where Scudworth makes a lucrative licensing deal with a food company, and proceeds to immediately start blowing the money, such as having his Robot Maid gold-plated. Predictably, by the end of the episode, the deal gets cut off due to the student body realizing how ludicrously unhealthy the company's goods are. Needless to say, Scudworth is Genre Blind to the whole thing.
    "Why, I watched the first two-thirds of MC Hammer: Behind the Music, and if there's one thing I learned about money, it's that it never runs out!"
  • In an episode of Code Monkeys, the staff borrow against their IPOs and become very wealthy. When they leave their jobs, Gameavision stock plummets, bringing most of the staff to ruin. Except Dave, who invested his new money wisely, but ends up using it to bail out his former co-workers.
  • In the Disney cartoon "Get Rich Quick", Goofy, as George Geef, seeks every opportunity to make a quick buck by gambling. Naturally, he is, more often than not, unsuccessful — until he goes to a poker game, where he finally does win big. Alas, when he returns home with his winnings, his scolding wife not only disapproves of his gambling addiction, but she promptly confiscates his winnings to use for herself, leaving a crushed Goofy to mutter, "Easy come, easy go..."
  • The Droids episode, "Coby and the Starhunters" avert this when a young character inherits a fortune, but C-3P0 and R2D2 firmly keep him from spending it foolishly, including mentioning the moral about a fool and his money. At the end, when the heroes thwarts some villains and find someone who is doing a worthy cause but needs money to pursue it, the kid offers his inheritance and the benefactee takes him on as a partner.
  • DuckTales (1987): In one episode, a family that won the lottery moved into a mansion next to Scrooge. By the end of the episode, they spent so much money they had to move back to their old home.
  • Family Guy:
    • "Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater", one of Lois' forebears dies and leaves her a luxurious home. Peter, attempting to fit in with upper-class society, bids $100 million for a vase at an auction — more than the luxury home is worth. He tries to raise the value of the home by fabricating historical events, only to discover that it was actually a presidential brothel. This somehow allows him to trade the home for the vase (which is never seen again). Selling the story to a tabloid leaves him with enough cash to re-purchase their former home. Throughout the episode, Lois is more upset with Peter for acting phony than she is that he spent $100 million on a vase, and then gave away a mansion that actually belonged to her. Although Lois never seems to mind the fact that she grew up incredibly rich only to marry someone with little money and live as middle class.
    • In "Lottery Fever", the Griffins win $150M in the lottery. Peter being Peter, immediately quits his job, spends the money on outrageous items, treats his friends like crap, and becomes broke and homeless in a month's time. Everything is back to normal by the end of the episode. For double irony, the family, sitting homeless on the street, decides their only chance is to try to win the lottery again. Cut to the exact same scene with Lois saying she can't believe they won and lost all that money TWICE. It's never explained how anyone could be rendered completely destitute when many of those outrageous items were made of solid gold. The logical solution is to sell them for scrap gold.
  • Futurama
    • In "A Fishful of Dollars", Fry discovers he'd left some cash in a forgotten bank account, and the accrued interest has made him fabulously wealthy. When he buys a can of (extinct) anchovies Mom has her boys kidnap him to get his PIN (1077) so she can steal all his money and be forced to sell the anchovies (which hold the secret to producing a very cheap, but potent, robot oil). She gives up when she learns he doesn't know this, instead intending to eat the anchovies. Also fulfills the "worse off than before" part: When Fry and co. actually ''do' eat the anchovies, everyone except Fry immediately coughs them up, due to their disgusting taste. Everyone, that is, except Zoidberg. He suffers the opposite effect, since his species is implied to be the reason anchovies went extinct in the first place due to having a strong Horror Hunger for them. Before the episode cuts to black, Zoidberg aggressively yanks Fry toward him, screaming "MORE! MORE!" note 
    • "Three Hundred Big Boys" had the whole nation getting a tax three hundred dollar refund due to Zapp defeating a spider planet and bringing back the riches. The course of the episode sees all the cast wasting it in some form or another (Fry buying a hundred cups of coffee, Bender gets supplies to steal a rare cigar, Farnsworth a temporary stem cell procedure, Amy a talking tattoo, Hermes a walking pair of stilts to impress his son, etc.) save for Zoidberg who, for the first time in his life having more money then ever, tries to "live like a rich person". He gets shot down when his refund is revealed to be peanuts to the social elite. But a fire breaks out at the reception for the spider people's loot, costing Nixon, in addition to the tax break, millions. Zoidberg then spends his money on a small buffet, which he invites everyone to join.
    • In "Future Stock", Fry and a sleazy stock trader maneuver Planet Express into being bought out by Mom's company, meaning the entire cast would become rich off their previously-worthless stock holdings. However, just as the deal is about to be finalized, the guy succumbs to a case of boneitis, and Fry blows the merger presentation, causing the stocks to rapidly crash back to their previous worth.
    • In "Viva Mars Vegas", Zoidberg lives richly for a short time by using the Robot Mafia's stolen money, only to lose it all in a Martian casino, due to his poor money managing skills. What makes this even crazier is that he actually managed to pick the correct number on a roulette spin twicenote , turning 8 million into a little over 10 billion. Even when being told to walk away, he kept going. Naturally the third time wasn't the charm. He actually takes it all in stride since he's so used to being broke, it didn't matter if he was rich or not.
      Amy: See, this is why you never see a poor person with millions of dollars.
  • Garfield:
    • An episode of Garfield and Friends has the titular fat cat winning the lottery after Jon tosses away his lottery ticket. The two and Odie get to live the high life until an interview reveals that Garfield was underage when he won, thus leading to the winnings being voided (despite Jon telling them that he was the one who bought the ticket) and the winner being declared as the interviewer himself.
    • An episode of The Garfield Show had the test run of a holographic postman delivering the mail and newspaper go slightly awry when a glitch in the system resulted in the newspaper being from tomorrow. After Jon notices this, he buys a lottery ticket using the yet-to-be-announced results and manages to become a millionaire because of this. He then decides to hand his fortune over to an investor who promises to increase his deposit. However, the future newspaper he has reveals that the investor will run away with it, but they're too late to stop him. Jon decides to just use the next newspaper to win the lottery again, but the experimental system that produced the future newspapers breaks down beyond repair.
  • In the Jem episode "Roxy's Rumble", Roxy finds a lottery ticket on the street and it turns out to be a million-dollar winner. Roxy ends up quitting The Misfits and goes back to Philadelphia to brag to the people who thought she wouldn't do anything in life. Due to the fact she Never Learned to Read she loses most of her money due to not understanding the contract she signed when she hosted a festival. The IRS takes the rest. She ends up rejoining her band afterwards.

  • This happens to The Jetsons.
    • George invents a new wonder product that brings in lots of cash. They lose it all, not so much because George was an idiot, but because his company's product goes under.
    • In another episode, George won the lottery. However, a collapse of the economy of Venus caused the value of the prize to decrease considerably before he had a chance to convert it into dollars. When George was told he won, the prize was worth 7.5 million dollars. The collapse caused its worth to be practically nada.
    • In another, George and Jane win a fortune at the racetrack thanks to some phlebotinum. They get chased by two guys in dark outfits -from the future tax agency.
  • In one episode of Kaeloo, Stumpy turns out to be a brilliant artist, and he decides to sell his art. Mr. Cat then comes up and tricks him into signing a contract that gives 95% of the profits to Mr. Cat. In the end, however, they never manage to sell any of the art.
  • Kim Possible In the episode "Ron Millionaire," Ron gets a check for the current royalties he's owed for inventing the Naco. Ron never even spent all the money; his entire fortune is stolen from him by Dr. Drakken because... Ron kept it all in his cargo pants pockets (which should weigh a metric ton even if it was all in $100 bills). Drakken, after getting the money and dropping the trope name almost word for word, spends all of it on a laser cannon... which destroys itself.
  • Done in The Oblongs when Milo, Biff and Chip find a huge bag of money that was supposed to be a bribe for the Mayor in a car they all brought together. Not surprising they spend it like crazy despite threats from the Mayor and city staff. Subverted though as Milo doesn't act any different with his friends and it actually makes the boys popular. They eventually lose it when Milo tosses a sparkler onto the remaining cash pile and it burns up.
  • A pair of Popeye instances, both from the Al Brodax era:
    • One cartoon was a spoof of the 1950s drama The Millionaire, and had Popeye as the mysterious benefactor who gives out $1 million cashiers' checks to Olive, Wimpy, Swee' Pea and even Brutus. He goes out in his sailor suit to see how they had been spending the money (Wimpy buys a cattle farm but can't summon the heart to grind up an innocent cow into hamburger; Swee' Pea buys the mother of all-day suckers; and Olive is getting the mother of all makeovers). Brutus uses his million to buy up and bury all the spinach farms in the world, leaving Popeye with no spinach—except the green wad Brutus shoves in his mouth (we all know what happens next). At the end, Popeye says he's seen what money did to his friends so he gave his last million to the sailor's relief fund.
    • Another had Wimpy as the heir to a fortune. He is to be a referee at a prize fight in which Popeye is a participant. Wimpy bets every dollar he has on the opponent, and during the fight, his butler KOs Popeye out cold. Wimpy is counting Popeye out but, busrting into tears, he doesn't have the heart to double-cross his pal. He gives Popeye some spinach, Popeye knocks out his opponent, and Wimpy says goodbye to his money.
  • Ren & Stimpy: Stimpy once won 47 million dollars and instant celebrity as part of a television contest. When Stimpy finds that his newfound fame and fortune are meaningless without his best friend Ren he "gives away" all his money and returns home. Ren is less than joyous about this.
  • Rugrats:
    • In the episode "Chuckie is Rich", Chaz won ten million dollars in a sweepstakes, and moves to a big fancy mansion. Under Drew's advice, he makes an investment on the "Ear-Whiz" (basically a water gun that supposedly cleans your ear perfectly). Unfortunately, the company ends up going bankrupt due to the invention actually increasing ear wax, leaving Chaz with nearly all of his money gone due to Drew investing his entire fortune without telling Chaz. Thus, the Finsters are forced to move back to their old house (to Chuckie's relief since he didn't like their life being rich). Chaz at least ended up with enough money to fix his old house's leaky roof, and he did get to keep his glass elephant (which Stu accidentally shattered).
      Chaz: Listen, Stu, I'm sorry I acted like such a jerk when I was rich.
      Stu: Hey, I'm the one who had the problem handling it. I guess I was just jealous. So, you're money's all gone, huh?
      Chaz: Not all of it. There's enough left to fix the roof at least. And I did get to keep the glass elephant.
      (Tommy approaches Chuckie playing with his ball)
      Chuckie: Tommy?
      Tommy: Hi, Chuckie. I'm sorry you're not rich anymore.
      Chuckie: Ah, don't be. Being rich isn't all that great.
      Tommy: Aren't you gonna miss that big house, all the toys, and that swimming pool full of ice cream?
      Chuckie: Nah, not as much as I miss being regular ol' Chuckie.
      Tommy: It's good to have ya back. (They hug each other)
      Stu: Boy, it is a nice elephant, Chaz.
      (Loud CRASH! is heard)
      Chaz: AAAAAAHHHH!!!
      Stu: Oops.
      (Episode ends)
    • In the Las Vegas episode, Grandpa Lou wins the jackpot playing nickel slots. He later uses some of his winnings to pay for tickets to a Siegfried and Roy knockoff and later throws the rest at some security guards to save his family.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Simpson and Delilah", Homer once bought a hair-growth product that actually worked and it eventually got him a promotion. Homer ignored Marge's advice about saving money for emergencies and it came back to bite him when Bart, while trying to use the product to grow himself a beard, accidentally spilled it out and Homer had no money to buy a new batch before becoming bald again and being demoted back to his old job.
    • In another episode, Bart pretended to be kidnapped to avoid punishment for sneaking out. When Lisa found out the truth, Homer told her they should keep it a secret because he had already sold the story for a fortune he had already lost. While how he lost it is anyone's guess, since we were never given a clue, we can be sure it was out of foolishness, since it's Homer we're talking about.
    • One episode averts this. Homer wins the lottery, and since Status Quo Is God, the money is quickly spent. However, Homer didn't blow it on foolishness, but instead he spent the money doing nice things for his family. Though a bit twisted as he only did this because he hid the fact he won from his family because he bought the ticket when he should have been with Marge singing for a wedding. In the end it is revealed that Marge wouldn't have cared when she realized he won a million dollars.
    • In "Trash of the Titans", Homer runs for the position of Springfield's Sanitation Commissioner, and after being elected, he ends up spending his entire year's budget in one month because he didn't realize how expensive his extravagant campaign promises would actually be.
    • This exchange in "Homer's Barbershop Quartet":
      Principal Skinner: Well, Willie, I'm back. And how did you spend your summer?
      Groundskeeper Willie: I made millions in software, and then lost it at the track!
    • Another episode had Homer, Lenny, Carl, and Moe buy into a lottery together and win, only for Carl to abscond with the winnings to his native Iceland. His plan is to use the money to prove that his family wasn't responsible for a war atrocity. Unfortunately, it turns out that his family actually was guilty of said atrocity, rendering his journey for nothing.

  • South Park:
    • In the episode "Cartmanland", Cartman inherits one million dollars and decides to buy an amusement park for himself calling it "Cartmanland", but needs to allow visitors to keep the park maintained and running. This frustrates him so much, he decides to sell the park to its previous owners. He gets his money back, but the IRS took most of his fortune from unpaid taxes and penalties and the rest (more than what he had) for a lawsuit settlement resulting from Kenny's death on one of the rides.
    • "Red Man's Greed" has the town raise 10,000 dollars to save themselves being bought out by a Native American Casino, when they need 300,000. Naturally, they decide to bet it on roulette with 1-35 payout, and actually win, giving them more than enough to prevent the buyout. However, rather than pay off the casino and save the town, the people realize that if they bet again, they have a chance to win over 12 million dollars. Naturally, Randy bets all the money and loses it. He refuses to accept any responsibility, as "you can't quit when you're on a streak."
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In the episode "Porous Pockets", SpongeBob and Patrick find a giant pearl, which they sell for ludicrous amounts of money. Somehow SpongeBob ends up with all of the money, buys a mansion, and gives the rest away to his house guests. Soon as they find out he has no money left, they leave and SpongeBob realizes he shouldn't have neglected Patrick because he had money.
    • This is also pretty common in episodes that involve Mr. Krabs whenever he tries to gain money for himself through ill-gotten means. Karma will instantly step in and deprive him of his money. One such example happened when Krabs used Gary as a magnet to attract coins, not caring how much it hurt the poor snail. He gets too greedy, tries to attract a tidal wave of coins, and is hospitalized. All the money Krabs took over the course of the episode is then used to pay his hospital bill.

  • Early from Squidbillies fell into this trap the instant he had a legitimate lawsuit against Dan Haylen, letting himself be bought off with a settlement consisting of a few motorized chrome beer hats.
  • Steven Universe:
    • "Mr. Greg" begins with Greg Universe musing with his son Steven over how to spend his 10 million dollar royalty check from a song his former manager Marty had sold as a burger shack jingle without permission in the previous episode. The conclusion is that Greg is content with his life, so they resolve to spend it on a night on the town in nearby Empire City. Steven insists that they take Pearl, Steven's fellow Crystal Gem. Upon arrival, the beached dressed trio buy tailored tuxedos, fine dining, and a penthouse room, and proceed to dance the night away. Amongst their affluent spending, Pearl and Greg resolve a long standing interpersonal conflict. The next morning, a musical reprise has the characters questioning whether this was the best use of their new found fortune. Subverted in that he still has plenty of money left.
    • Subverted with a later episode, where Greg rents a boat to take Steven and Lapis out on a fishing trip, but events lead to the ship being wrecked and Greg noting that he now has to pay for the ship in full. In this case, it has nothing to do with Greg himself; he's just unlucky. And again, he still has plenty of money left.note 
  • TaleSpin used this trope often:
    • "The Road to Macadamia": When Baloo and Louie save the desert kingdom of Macadamia from an Evil Chancellor, they expect a huge cash reward when the King tells them he'll give them their rewards. Instead, Baloo gets only the paltry sum he owed them at the beginning of the episode. (And Louie a promised sack of nuts)
    • "Your Baloo's in the Mail": Rebecca wins a lottery, then entrusts Baloo to turn in the winning Lottery Ticket before the deadline. To make a long story short, he doesn't.
    • "Idol Rich": After going through alot of trouble to obtain a valuable idol, Baloo loses all the money it was worth to a tab he had run up at Louie's.
    • "Baloo Thunder": Shere Khan gives Baloo a sizable reward for helping to keep his secret project (a helicopter) out of the hands of his competition, only for his secretary (under Khan's orders) to reclaim it for outrageous purposes.
    • "Save the Tiger": Baloo saves Shere Khan's life, who now owes Baloo a debt. Baloo first asks for a few simple things, before being reminded that Shere Khan is one of the most wealthy and powerful men in the world. Baloo then buys back his plane, isolates most of his friends, and becomes bored with his new wealth and gifts. Eventually Baloo ends up irritating Khan with endless lists of demands; Khan secretly arranges for Baloo to be kidnapped and the ransom requires the selling off of everything Baloo had demanded and Higher for Hire. By the end of the episode, Baloo's friends get him back, and Baloo, having learned his lesson goes to Kahn hat-in-hand with a last request for the status quo to return.
    • "The Balooest of the Blue Bloods": Baloo inherits a mansion and the butler and maid try to kill him so they can inherit it for themselves. The mansion gets repossessed at the end of the episode for outstanding debts.
    • "Pizza Pie in the Sky": When Baloo opens a pizza-delivery service, the money he earns is just enough to pay for all the health code violations he racks up while running the operation.
  • The Tom and Jerry cartoon "Million Dollar Cat" has Tom inheriting $1 million under the provision that he harm no animals—even a mouse. This gives Jerry the chance to yank Tom's chain throughout the cartoon until the conclusion when Tom's camel complains of a broken back—he rips up the telegram and sets about thrashing Jerry, stopping long enough to say this to us (in Bill Hanna's voice):
    Tom: Gee. I'm t'rowin' away a million dollars... BUT I'M HAPPY!! (Continues his onslaught)
  • Episodes of Top Cat feature this happening a few times. The most notable one is where a millionaire gives Benny a check to T.C for one million dollars after he finds out how rough the gang has it. When the merchants' association finds out, T.C and the gang are treated like royalty. In the end, it all goes away because Top Cat, who didn't give Benny a chance to explain about the million dollars, tore up the check. To be fair, Top Cat thought that Benny had been tricked into accepting a ticket for a 25 cent raffle, so he didn't know any better.

  • Wish Kid: Nick used his magic glove to wish his family was wealthy, causing them to win the lottery. As anyone familiar to the series' premise can attest without watching the episode, it was just a matter of time before the wish wore off and they lost the money. Then again, the way they were spending the money, they'd have squandered it all.
  • Woody Woodpecker:
    • Woody falls victim to this trope when he inherits some money that Buzz Buzard decides to con out of him.
    • However, it is Buzz's turn to fall into the trope in The New Woody Woodpecker Show. Buzz and Woody were on a Scavenger Hunt where incomplete proverbs were the clues to the items they had to find. They were tied when there was only one item left to be found and the clue was "A (space) and his money are soon parted". Claiming to have no idea of how to solve that clue, Woody proposed that he and Buzz shared the money prize. As Buzz was enjoying the money, Woody introduced Buzz to the game's host as the fool to be soon parted from the money.

    Real Life 

  • When poor or middle-class people win the lottery, gain an inheritance, or otherwise come into a large sum of money very quickly, there's a good chance that they'll be broke a short time later. Unlike on TV, there's rarely a Reset Button. This sort of thing is so common that the condition was given the name "sudden wealth syndrome". According to the TLC show "The Lottery Changed my Life," around one-third of lottery jackpot winners go bankrupt within five years of winning.
    • And God forbid you let other people know about your sudden increase in wealth if you can stay anonymous. Lottery winners such as this poor fellow have been murdered in an attempt to steal their earnings. Lottery winners are thirty times more likely to be murdered, and 130 times more likely to be murdered by a family member. Having a sudden influx of wealth generally makes you a target for the likes of con artists, beggars, phony debt collectors, and kidnappers (to try and get ransom money). Ways to get around this include hiring security, moving to a secured location before securing the winnings, and having a trusted law firm claim the earnings for you (which would mean a cut of the earnings going to them, but better than having the full amount and getting killed for it). If you're thinking "Well, I'll just ask the lottery people to not announce that I won", in most US states you can't. All but a handful of states in America don't allow you to claim your lottery winnings anonymously.
    • Michael Carroll, the self-proclaimed "king of the chavs", is a notorious example in Britain. A rubbish collector who won £9.7m in a lottery in 2002, he continued to have run-ins with the law (and, being well known for being rich and widely disliked, run-ins with the other side of the law), and spent his winnings as if it grew on trees. By 2010, he had filed for bankruptcy and gone back to his old job, but has expressed no regrets about how he spent the lot.
    • In 2000, in France, Jacques and Martine Riez, who had debt issues, won €1.5 million; 15 years later, they ended up poorer than before, living in a council house they might be removed from for non-payment of rent.
    • Viv Nicholson was a textbook example in Britain. In 1961 her husband Keith won £152,000 on the football pools (the equivalent of over £3.5 million today) and Viv declared that they were going to "spend spend spend". They did just that, and within a few years, it was all gone. Their story was later turned into a BBC drama written by Jack Rosenthal entitled "Spend, Spend, Spend".
  • Professional athletes seem disproportionately susceptible to this trope, moreso if the player came from a poor background. ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary "Broke" opens by quoting a 2009 Sports Illustrated article stating that around three out of every five NBA players are broke within five years of leaving the sport, and four-in-five NFL players are in "serious financial trouble" within two years of leaving. Usually the culprit is some combination of the following:
    • Their unusual annual income structure — pro athletes only get paid during the 5-7 months out of the year their sport is in season. During the 2011 NFL lockout, stories circulated of players trying to get advances on their paychecks because otherwise they couldn't pay their bills.
    • Short career length — the average tenure of a pro athlete is only four to six years - most will be out of work by age 30.
    • Failure to plan beyond the sport — because most of their income comes so early, their financial strategy needs to be different from other people. They should be planning as though they were seniors going into retirement, since their income is going to tank very fast.
    • Taxes — If they grew up poor, the athlete probably never had to worry about paying income tax. Thus it can come as a shock that their newfound wealth not only means they now have to pay, but puts them in a very high tax bracket where up to half of their earnings may be owed.
    • Big money purchases of items of with poor resale value (like cars and jewellery), high running costs (like planes and yachts) or dubious utility (buying a new house is one thing, buying an eight-figure mansion with twenty bathrooms and an eight-car garage is another).
    • Rich young athletes will inevitably attract lots of women, which in turn often leads to hefty divorce settlements and child support payments further down the line.
    • Their own fame becoming a liability — players' contracts are publicly listed. So everyone, including unscrupulous agents, con artists and gold diggers, knows you're young, naive, and have tons of money. In addition, everyone tends to think that just because you're a pro athlete, you make millions like the most famous athletes. The majority of players' contracts aren't much higher than the league minimum.
    • The myriad number of injuries their bodies can accumulate during their career will often mean very large medical expenses later in life. Physical infirmaries may also limit their ability to move on to other jobs after their athletic careers end.
    • The competitive mentality that leads to success on the field leads to a disastrous arms-race with their checkbook. They have to outspend the other guys right now; if a teammate has an expensive watch, you have to get one even more expensive. If he's got a Ferrari, you need to own two. The drive to make more money often results in favoring high-risk ventures rather than safe investments with low returns.
  • Irish football legend George Best earned a fortune and lost almost all of it through his celebrity lifestyle. When asked what happened to the money he had earned, Best quipped: "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds (women) and fast cars. The rest I just squandered."
  • The documentary Reversal of Fortune involved giving a homeless man $100,000 in cash and seeing what he did with it. It was gone within 6 months, and indeed he wound up in even worse financial shape then he was before.
  • Pirates were notorious for spending their fortune after a successful raid on booze and prostitutes in a matter of days. This was because their lives were not quite safe. If you have got a lot of money but could die soon, it can be understood that they considered spending it immediately as a better option than risking never being able to use it.
    • Even if a pirate was in a fiscally-responsible mood there were few things they could do with their plunder aside from blow it all at the nearest port. Few if any banks would deal with a known pirate (though they might deal with privateers) and many pirates operated in parts of the world where there were no banks to begin with. The best they could do with their gold was hide it somewhere, and only two pirates (Captain Kidd and Sir Francis Drake) were ever confirmed to have done that, and neither of them managed to return to dig up the loot (though Drake only buried the money he couldn't fit on his ship after a truly spectacular haul, and did quite well for himself on the money that did fit in his ship).
  • German actor Klaus Kinski typically starred in a successful movie, then spent all his salary on partying with friends, expensive clothing and 5-star hotels (and drugs), resulting in him becoming broke after a short time. After he had to live in a run-down single-room apartment for a few weeks, he often resorted to phoning his old friend Werner Herzog once again to ask if he had any more film roles available. Rinse and repeat.
  • Heather Mills reportedly burned through her £24.3 million divorce settlement from Paul McCartney in less than two years. She claimed to have given the bulk of the money to various charities, but that's still pretty impressive.
  • In June of 1984, Michael Larson was a contestant on the game show Press Your Luck. In the months before his appearance, he would watch the show excessively and noticed that the electronic board used for the "Big Board" portion of the game utilized a series of pre-programmed patterns. He memorized a few of the most beneficial patterns (that would usually lead to winning thousands of dollars & an extra spin every time), and Larson timed his spins almost perfectly for the entire game, racking up $110,237 in cash and prizes. After CBS concluded that he didn't break the rules Larson kept his winnings, but over the next 15 years, Larson would lose virtually all of his money through a combination of poor financial planning and high-risk ventures fizzling out, and he was even on the run from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for his role in an internet fraud scheme. Larson would pass away from throat cancer in Febuary 1999 at the age of 49.
  • The Three Stooges: Defied hard in real life by Moe Howard. When he saw how Larry and Curly were spending their money (Larry was a gambling addict who almost went bankrupt after Columbia stopped making shorts with the Stooges, and Curly kept spending his money on wine, food, women, homes, cars, and dogs), he took it upon himself to manage their paychecks and their estates so that they wouldn't be penniless in their old age, a fate which did eventually befall many of their contemporaries.
  • Can happen in entire countries suffering from resourse curse: basically, the economy is geared towards a very valuable product, crowding out the rest of the economy. As a result, if this income source fails due to falling prices or tapping out, the rest of the economy can't compensate, leading to financial ruin. The economy of Nauru was one of the more infamous cases: they tried to set up funds for when their phosphorous mines inevitably ran out, but proceeded to constantly dip into their trusts. When the mines did run out, Nauru was broke.
  • Pushed by her mother Wanda Rhodes, Wanetta Gibson falsely accused fellow student Brian Banks of rape and won a $750,000 settlement from the school district, which they squandered on cars, game consoles, big screen TVs and other stuff, meaning that they ended up having to flee from house to house as the debt collectors came to repossess everything that wasn't sold off, and this was before Banks was exonerated and they were ordered to pay up $2.6 million to the school and Banks.
  • Chico Marx's gambling addiction cost him millions of dollars by his own account. When an interviewer in the late 1930s asked him how much money he had lost from gambling, he answered, "Find out how much money Harpo's got. That's how much I've lost." The Marx Brothers made A Night in Casablanca because he'd filed for bankruptcy a few years prior. Because of his out-of-control gambling, the brothers finally took the money as he earned it and put him on an allowance, on which he stayed until his death.
  • Of The Monkees, Micky Dolenz fared the best when it came to royalty payments because he trusted his mother to handle his money, which she invested carefully in "safe" stocks and holdings. As for the others, Peter Tork gave most of his money away, Davy Jones lost most of his in bad investments, and Michael Nesmith spent his on family luxuries and artistic projects.
  • Because The Who's early stage act relied on smashing instruments, and owing to Keith Moon's enthusiasm for damaging hotels, the group were in debt for much of the 1960s; John Entwistle estimated they lost about £150,000. Even when the group became relatively financially stable after Tommy, Moon continued to rack up debts. He bought a number of cars and gadgets, and flirted with bankruptcy. Moon's recklessness with money reduced his profit from the group's 1975 UK tour to £47.35 (equivalent to £390 in 2018).
  • MC Hammer seems to have become a byword for this among rappers, with Nelly snarking "blow 30 mil like I'm Hammer" in track "Country Grammar." He didn't get fully hit by this until the mid-90s, when his career hit a slump and he could abruptly no longer pay his bills, but he certainly fit the bill of frivolous Conspicuous Consumption and living beyond his considerable means.
  • Telltale Games was a relatively small company that put out small episodic adventure games that were often based on licensed properties. It suddenly struck gold with its version of The Walking Dead, which won tons of acclaim and sales. Unfortunately, Telltale's heads thought that the best way to spend all this new money was to try to repeat The Walking Dead's success by buying up lots of licenses to base games on, making as many adventure games as possible, and hiring a larger staff. Far from repeating its success, Telltale found that almost none of its games made their money back. Coupled with a market they oversaturated by themselves and employees leaving in droves, Telltale folded in 2018.


Video Example(s):

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 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / AFoolAndHisNewMoneyAreSoonParted

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