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Eat the Rich

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The Wealthy: Part of a balanced breakfast.
"When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich."

A Stock Phrase and concept used to encourage the vilification of rich 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.

Contrast: Kill the Poor and No Poverty.



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    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Jaded PI Micah Rains favorite T-Shirt has "Eat the Rich" printed on it in huge letters.

  • 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 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.
  • In John Waters' Desperate Living, the evil Queen Carlotta (Edith Massey) ends up cooked and eaten by her subjects.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 CEO's, 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Bong Joon-ho explores this in some of his movies.
    • 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 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 to 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 sausages and beer. 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.

  • One of the phrases used on the 'We Want What You Have' blog in Capital.
  • 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 stored 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!” proceeded the chappie. “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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 KIZ 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!

    Newspaper Comics 
  • 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.

  • Guerrilla street artist Banksy used the phrase in one of his works with his own humorous slant.
  • 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."
  • An anonymous quip: "Eat the rich. The poor are tough and stringy."

    Print Media 
  • Paris Hilton, of all people, posed in a Stripperific bikini emblazoned with the words "EAT THE RICH" in a photoshoot for Rolling Stone magazine's 2006 Hot List. It has been suggested that she used 'eat' in a specific meaning.

  • 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.


    Video Games 

  • Freefall has Mr. Ishiguro trying to explain the problem to Mr. Kornada
    Ishiguro: It's okay to have steak when there's a chicken in every pot. But if you're eating steak and the majority of people have nothing, it doesn't take long for you to look like a chicken.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 where 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.


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