A Stock Phrase and concept used to encourage the vilification of wealthy people.
Frequently, the phrase is used to metaphorically advocate a class uprising or revolt among the lower and working classes against those viewed as Evil Aristocrats and Corrupt Corporate Executives—the Have Nots taking from the Haves. Occasionally, that metaphor is accompanied by language and imagery that literally suggests eating the rich.
See Also: Hates Rich People for characters who hate well-off folks.
For the comic, see Eat the Rich (2021).
- The UK-based clothing label Eat the Rich prides itself on producing "sweatshop-free" T-shirts while promoting a vegetarian lifestyle, including some shirts with the message, "Meat sucks, eat the rich."
- Eat the Rich (2021) is titled such because Joey is a working-class newcomer to the rich town of Crestfall Bluffs who is horrified by how they exploit the staff. It then becomes literal since Joey leads the help in an uprising against the rich residents and eats them.
- Wonder Woman (1987): Jaded PI Micah Rains' favorite T-Shirt has "Eat the Rich" printed on it in huge letters.
- Assault on Wall Street depicts the 2008 financial crisis as the collapse of a giant Ponzi scheme pulled off by corrupt portfolio managers and bank executives. The protagonist, Jim, who having been conned out of his money and lured into a debt trap of $60,000, ends up losing his house, his job, and then his wife, who commits suicide out of guilt that she feels responsible for her husband's pain. He tried to argue with the Assistant District Attorney who refused to take his case but accidentally ends up killing him instead, inspiring him to go on a killing spree upon Wall Street's most powerful corporates so that when they die, their wealth will be used to compensate the Ponzi scheme's victims.
- In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane manipulates many of Gotham's citizens into rioting against the city's upper class and remaining authority figures, causing chaos to distract from Talia's plan to nuke the city. There is even a Kangaroo Court where said targets of the rioting populace are considered guilty by default and get to choose one of two punishments: Exile, or death by exile.
- In John Waters' Desperate Living, the evil Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey) ends up cooked and eaten by her subjects.
- In Eating Raoul the Blands murder well-to-do swingers and steal their money and personal possessions. Their partner Raoul disposes of the bodies by selling them to a local dog food manufacturer.
- The British Black Comedy Eat the Rich from The Comic Strip comedy troupe is about a waiter at an exclusive, high-class restaurant who, no longer willing to put up with the disgust and contempt of the upper class, begins serving minced rich people with a side of chips to other rich people at the restaurant.
- The premise of the horror film Eat The Rich The Cannibal Murders.
- In Joker (2019), Arthur shooting three yuppies on the subway is misunderstood by the media and public as being politically motivated (in truth, he had shot the first two out of self-defense and the third for joining the other two in harassing him). This sparks a series of violent protests against economic inequality, with "Kill the Rich!" slogans prominently displayed.
- Villain Protagonist Bill Foster in Falling Down was a dark Working-Class Hero on a Going Postal rampage against the society that left him behind. When walking through a country club, he's accosted by a wealthy Grumpy Old Man. Bill then pulls out a shotgun and goes on an angry tirade accusing him of hoarding land that could be used to benefit the community, causing the man to die of a heart attack from the stress as Bill mocks him.
- Invoked in Land of the Dead. George A. Romero's zombie flicks tend to have an underlying social message, and in the case of this film, it concerns how the wealthy poorly treat the lower classes. When the flesh-eating undead horde siege the Fiddler's Green colony, although both rich and poor die in the onslaught, the more intelligent zombies' main targets are the upper-class establishment. Once they're wiped out, the zombies withdraw and the class system ceases to exist. It's revealed afterward that the majority of Fiddler's Green other residents have survived the zombie attack.
- Major Grom: Plague Doctor. The Plague Doctor carries out several vigilante murders of corrupt Russian oligarchs, then proceeds to fake his death, leaving a supposed Video Will calling on his supporters to take up his cause by robbing and killing rich people whose names and addresses he sends out on the Internet. His actual intention is to get rid of the oligarchs trying to steal his company (he's like an evil Batman), then martial law will be declared and the army will shoot his riff-raff followers.
- The Menu: Chef Julian's primary motivation is to exact revenge on the people who have made his life a stressful hell without even properly appreciating his food, and most of his elite clientele are shown to be rather contemptible. Since Julian himself is very wealthy, and parts of the menu extend to punishing himself, the ethos extends to him as well.
- In Parasite (2019), the Kims are undoubtedly swindlers who take advantage of the Parks, but they also suffered poverty and lack of opportunity. While the Parks are presented fairly sympathetically, their wealth and comfort at the expense of the people in their service contrast very sharply with the living conditions and lifestyles of the Kims. This is ramped up by the end when Ki-taek, fed up with the Parks' Conspicuous Consumption and denigration of the lower classes, fatally stabs Mr. Park. He flees, becomes a fugitive, and runs back to the Parks' house where he remains in the secret bunker. After the (surviving) Parks move out, the house is bought out by German expatriates, and he survives off eating their food. There is no guarantee that his son will be able to secure his freedom by buying the house, so it can be presumed Ki-taek will have to live like a cockroach for the rest of his life.
- In Rampage: Capital Punishment Bill Williamson sends out a nationwide broadcast raving, "We need to kill the rich. You get out there, you use your weapons, you rip Washington apart, you hunt down the billionaires, the bank bosses, the CEOs, the scumbags and the liars, the governors, the lobbies, the senators!"
- The third movie President Down has Bill's dreams come true despite that he died before he was able to see it when his viral followers arm up and start targeting the wealthy elite and decision-makers who are affiliated with the U.S. government, the U.S. military, large powerful conglomerates such as Microsoft and General Motors, Wall Street, big banks and even Hollywood and the music industry.
- In Snowpiercer, the rich occupy the front of the titular train and enjoy gourmet meals while the lower classes in the back subsist on nutrient jelly made from bugs and recycled water. Said lower classes, sick of the mistreatment they face, launch a revolt.
- In A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Harold who works as a Wall Street banker is swarmed by a crowd of unemployed protesters part of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. One of the picket signs they carry say this trope's name.
- An anonymous quip: "Eat the rich. The poor are tough and stringy."
- One of the phrases used on the 'We Want What You Have' blog in Capital.
- Dead Silence has the luxury space liner Aurora built to cater to the rich. For those who might be afraid of this trope, they built the "Versailles Contingency", a failsafe in the form of panic rooms that would seal and save the very richest passengers in case of a mutiny. Being a Sci-Fi Horror story, it didn't save them.
- Political satirist and journalist P.J. O'Rourke published the book Eat The Rich: A Treatise On Economics. The last chapter, titled "Eat the Rich," praises capitalism as "the worst economic system anyone ever invented, except for all the others."
- In the Honor Harrington books, Pierre, the head of the People's Republic of Haven, does this three times. First, he confiscates the wealth of the Legislaturists — the previous ruling class — but it's not anywhere enough money to fund Haven's social welfare system and solve its financial problems. Then he gives the Legislaturists show trials and executes them, which only makes the mob hungry for more blood. So he unleashes Haven's navy on the Star Kingdom of Manticore, an enormously wealthy neighbour, in order to solve both his financial and the bloodthirsty populace's problems. This sets off a chain of events that results in his own death and brings the People's Republic within weeks of total collapse. Though other things he does do result in improvements in Haven's economy and society, long term.
- Jeeves and Wooster: In one short story named "Comrade Bingo", one of Bertie's Idle Rich friends is in love with the daughter of a communist revolutionary. He disguises himself and gives speeches with a very Eat the Rich bent to them:
Bingo: And the fat one! Don't miss him. Do you know who that is? That’s Lord Bittlesham! One of the worst. What has he ever done except eat four square meals a day? His god is his belly, and he sacrifices burnt-offerings to it till his eyes bubble. If you opened that man now you would find enough lunch to support ten working-class families for a week.
- In The Time Machine, humanity in the distant future has "evolved" into two human subspecies: The Eloi, who are descendants of the wealthy elite, and the monstrous, subterranean Morlocks, who are descendants of the working class who now feed on the Eloi, playing this trope rather literally.
- In one story of World War Z a bunch of celebrities lock themselves in a well-armed and supplied compound during the outbreak. It falls not to zombies, but to the starving masses.
- Arrow: In Season 2, Sebastian Blood seems to be spouting this as part of his rhetoric to the masses, using the destruction of the Glades by Malcolm Merlyn at the end of Season 1 as justification.
- The spirit of the trope is very much alive in Game of Thrones, in which the famine-stricken poor of King's Landing riot against the aristocracy. While they are not actually shown eating anyone onscreen, the line in the book that the crowd "tore the High Septon limb from limb" was taken very literally on the television show, looking like something out of a Zombie Apocalypse.
- Mentioned by name in an episode of Gotham; a Serial Killer known as "the Goat" kills the social elite with decades in between rampages, and it turns out that a psychotherapist has been hypnotising and brainwashing her clients into doing it. When confronted with this, she explains that the old belief that people can't be hypnotised into doing something they don't want to do is true and that her plan only worked because, deep down, people really do want to "eat the rich".
- Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "The Thing Lay Still", most of the guests that the vampire family invite to their Mardi Gras ball are the elite of New Orleans, and several human prey are selected for the after-party feast, where Lestat de Lioncourt, Louis de Pointe du Lac, and Claudia literally eat the rich.
Lestat: Well, this idea of yours, what kind of a party did you imagine?
Claudia: A ball. A lavish, decadent ball.
Lestat: To what end?
Claudia: We invite the most beautiful, the most gluttonous, seduce a choice few for a feast to remember.
- Subverted in season 2 of iZombie, regarding the Chaos Killer. Ostensibly a Serial Killer inspired by the "Occupy" movement who is targeting Seattle's wealthy, he's actually Major going after the city's zombie population, having been coerced into becoming a zombie hunter by the energy drink company Max Rager, who wants to keep one of the side effects of their flagship product under control. The idea of a radical leftist kidnapping and murdering these people helps to throw off suspicion from the real culprits.
- Quite literally with Hickey from The Terror. Working-class Hickey begins the series with quite reasonable gripes about the way lower-ranking men are treated and the life-or-death power of the incompetent officers who are leading everyone to their deaths. The story then has Hickey stage a mutiny, psychopathically sabotage everyone’s chances of escape, and start killing and eating his comrades and superiors as revenge against the officers who have humiliated him. He is defeated by the reasonable and noble captain Crozier, and his own hubris.
- The New Zealand show The Tribe sees The Locos wear jackets with the slogan "STAY WARM BURN THE RICH" on the back of them while under the Zoot regime.
- You (2018)'s fourth season sees Joe get tangled up in the exploits of a Serial Killer called the "Eat the Rich killer", since they are seemingly targeting members of an extremely elite London social circle.
- Aerosmith recorded a song titled "Eat the Rich" for their 1993 LP Get a Grip. It quickly became a crowd favorite at live concerts.
- In the Bad Religion song "I Want to Conquer the World", one of the things the singer says he'll do to establish his utopia is "expose the corporates and feed them to the children."
- Black Sabbath (performing under the name Heaven & Hell) allude to this in a song called "Eating The Cannibals."
Taking till you've got no more to give
Building boxes where you used to live
The word out on the street is no delay
Do it today!
Come to the meeting
It's true that we're eating the cannibals!
Come on in, we love our clientele
You're here to taste revenge, and so you shall
It's been raised upon your body and your bones
But now you're not alone!
- Swedish band First Floor Power's "Eat The Rich" suggests that you "make sure to cook them first - they're dry."
- The German rap formation K.I.Z has a song called "Ich esse Reiche" - "I eat rich people":
Zeig mir dein Alarmsystem auf MTV Cribs
Und beim nächsten Abendessen sind deine Kinder die Ribs!
- "Eat the Rich" is also the title of a song by metal band Krokus about a homeless man who is sick of being abused and seeks to take his aggression out on people who have more than he does.
- The Motörhead song "Eat the Rich" was written as the title track for the film of the same name (See Film, above), which also featured Lemmy in a supporting role. However, the song's lyrics are actually a thinly veiled reference to a certain sex act. The song is mostly remembered for its chorus.
C'mon baby, eat the rich,
Put the bite on that son of a bitch!
- Bloom County:
- In one Sunday strip, Donald Trump at one point mused on the greatness of America since it helped him become wealthy. He starts bragging about his wealth to one of the main cast members, Ronald-Ann, a poor girl who lives on the wrong side of the tracks. The strip ends with Trump remarking that it's amazing that people like her haven't risen up and eaten people like him already. To which Ronald-Ann's headless doll replies, "Yet."
- Earlier, one of the times that Bill and Opus ran for President and Vice President, Opus was accused of being... a liberal. After unsuccessfully fending off the accusation for a while, Opus finally gave up and screamed that what he really wanted was to see the rich ground up into hamburger to feed the poor.
- In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Daigo planned to create a lizard monster and have it gorge on the upper-class, due to his distaste for how they ostracise and discriminate against the lower classes. However, he's instead manipulated by his girlfriend to test it first in a poverty-stricken area, which leads to its death when the protagonists find out about it.
- In Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, although Mandus and the Engineer initially focus their murderous intentions on the lower class, they still hate the rich with equal fervor, and once their diabolical machine is ready, Mandus turns his attention to abducting wealthy guests at his mansion and transporting them to the machine to be turned into food for the next batch of guests.
- In BioShock, Rapture's Kill the Poor attitude finally gives rise to a massive rebellion not just by the oppressed working class but also by the ADAM-addicted Splicers. The majority of the city's upper class is killed in the ensuing riots, though so is almost everyone else.
- A general motif in Luck be a Landlord; your landlord is set to be 'defeated', and will receive a random death upon completion of the game. There is also the Billionaire symbol, which gives no money to you when rolled (though it will increase the value of nearby Cheese and Wine) but delivers a tidy sum when destroyed...possibly by the Guillotine item.
- Taken literally by the Commoners in Tooth and Tail, a game set in a World of Funny Animals where the sole source of meat is other people. The Commoners' goal in winning the Civil War is to institute a Dictatorship of the Proletariat, where everyone would vote on who would get eaten (the Commoners are by far the most populous faction, so no guesses who's going to come up short under that system).
- From 2006 to 2008, there was a zombie group called "Eat The Rich" in Urban Dead. They only attacked mansions, malls, banks, and office buildings.
- Amphibia: Shouted by Hop Pop just before guillotining the Cloak-Bot’s arm.
- One of [adult swim]'s bumpers for Bob's Burgers has Bob and Gene singing a song about rising up against the rich.
- DuckTales (2017): In "The First Adventure!", an Origins Episode, young Donald Duck is shown going through a Grunge phase, and he uses this line in a song he makes up in front of his ultra-rich uncle.
Just another rich uncle
Gotta EAT THE RICH UN-CLE
Store up all that rage in a bin
- Older Than Dirt. One of the reasons the Bronze Age Collapse got as bad as it did was that after key cities were depopulated by natural disasters, mass civil unrest occurred ending with peasants overthrowing their ruling classes. These events resulted in massive disruption of international trade, weakening every state involved and leaving them ripe for the Sea People invasions.
- The Dutch Republic was a wealthy country, but in 1672, a French invasion led to the head of government, Johann de Witt, to be lynched by a crowd opposed to his 20-year-long rule, and was ultimately partially eaten by the mob.
- Reportedly one of the worst horrors of China's Cultural Revolution. According to Zheng Yi's book "Scarlet Memorial," members of the Red Guard and general public in Guangxi are reported to have killed, divvied up, and publicly eaten over a hundred former landlords, "intellectuals" (e.g. school teachers), other "counter-revolutionaries" and their descendants as a show of loyalty to Mao and his ideals, with the backing of the local (but not national) Party. Bodies were split up and served to the community to partake of en masse, and the murderers were often people close to the victims who were making a show of their revolutionary fervor. Many of the former revolutionaries are still in power to this day. Virtually the same types of purges would play out in Cambodia, Vietnam, and North Korea when Communists gained control of those countries. In Cambodia's case, this was much worse because the Khmer Rouge took an absurdly broad view of "The Rich," including people with glasses and virtually all ethnic minorities.
- This trope served as a metaphor for the Communists' October Revolution in Russia and the temporary upswing in public support the Bolsheviks gained in the cities prior to the general election and the outbreak of the Civil War.note The sheer mind-blowing incompetence of the nobility in their management of and interference in the war effort, the sickening war-profiteering and conspicuous consumption (even during the winter of 1916-17!) of the captains of industry after total economic mobilisation in 1915-16, and the bureaucratic nightmare of the Russian state meant that many quite rightly blamed the upper-classes for the country's plight and so inspired 60% of the entire country to vote for the Socialist Revolutionary Party (which promised a socialist democracy) and a further 24% to vote for the Communist Party (which promised a communist democracy). The Bolsheviks refused to accept their loss and shut down the assembly elected when it tried to meet.
- Leon Bloy gleefully exulted the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, a fire at the Opéra-Comique in 1887 which killed dozens, and another fire in 1896, at the Bazar de la Charité, an annual Catholic charity event, which cost more than 100 lives. He even jubilated at the thought of a wealthy woman burning to death in The Woman Who Was Poor.
- A bizarre 1870 case of mass hysteria (he relayed bad news and was accused of being a Prussian spy) ended with an aristocrat, Alain de Monéys, being burnt alive by the villagers of Hautefaye, France who, allegedly, used the resulting fat drippings in cooking. Unruly French peasants reportedly also roasted an aristocrat in the Jacquerie peasant uprising during The Hundred Years War and force-fed him to his family, whom they killed too.
- The French Revolution being inspired and prophesied by Rousseau was entirely driven by this mentality. During the Great Fear after the fall of the Bastille, across France several people marched into châteaux, seized weapons, killed aristocrats, beheading them and putting it on a pike which they carried with them. Images of mobs carrying pikes with heads became an iconic part of the revolution. Most of those heads were aristocrats, soldiers, and in one famously appalling incident, Marie Antoinette's confidante and friend, the Princesse de Lamballe.
- One grotesque case is that of the tax minister Foullon, notoriously unpopular and severe. There was a rumour that he was supposed to have suggested that "the poor eat hay" if they are starving. The poor were starving. When the mob got hold of him, they dragged him to Paris with his mouth stuffed with hay, and then they cut off his head and put it on a stick. Then they killed and beheaded his son-in-law too and made his head "Kiss Daddy!".
- The Reign of Terror often has this reputation, seen as the blade that would fall under the necks of the rich. In actual fact, the final tally of victims of 17,000 people by Guillotine after a trial in the year 1793-1794 features only 8% of the victims being aristocrats (who considering they were 1% of the population did feel a disproportionate impact) with 25% of the victims being bourgeois and middle-class, 28% were peasants and working-class and the rest were clergy. During the final month, the period of the "Great Terror" after the Law of 22 Prarial, where 1,000 people were executed in a single month (matching the executions in Paris the previous year), the victims became 38% nobility, 26% clergy, with the wealthy victims discriminated against since the law deprived them of a right to call for witnesses, legal representatives or evidence by which according to Georges Couthon (who drafted the law to the Convention), wealthier accused escaped the blade before. This eventually led to the Thermidorian Reaction and the end of the Terror. Robespierre and his closest associates, including Couthon, were guillotined themselves after this.
- The New York Draft Riots of 1863 were sparked by the outrage of wealthy young men being able to buy their way out of being drafted into the American Civil War, while the poor had no way out. Poor rioters targeted anyone on the street in wealthy-looking clothing, killing them in many cases. Unfortunately, blacks were also targeted, as the poor Irish immigrant participants also resented them for being exempted from the draft.
- The Los Angeles Times reported demonstrators in Beverly Hills, following the death of George Floyd, were heard chanting "EAT THE RICH!"
- 2020 saw protestors outside of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' home brandishing guillotines.
- A downplayed version of this happened with the GameStop short squeeze in early 2021, as the store was floundering to the point that professional stock traders decided to shortWhat is shorting? the company's stock. Reddit subforum "r/wallstreetbets" caught wind of this, and bought up the stock partially because they felt it was undervalued to start with, and partially as a means to deliver payback to the wealthy investors who'd played a large role in The Great Recession of 2007-2008.