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Idle Rich

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Doesn't every woman go camping in a white mink coat while sipping chilled wine?

"In the evening Popov and von Kartzov drank champagne and dined sumptuously. Though Popov would never know it, von Karstoff's real name was Kremer von Auenrode, an educated and wealthy aristocrat from Trieste whose main objective was to get through the war with maximum pleasure and minimum danger."
Ben Mackintyre, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies

Whether Old Money, New Money, royalty or nobility, these people just spend their time living off their vast sums of money they earned, or their family's sums of money.

Not to say they just sit around doing nothing (usually). They have too much of their free time taken up by travelling, going to parties and galas, attending horse races and polo matches and other Snooty Sports, keeping up with the latest Society gossip, choosing which clothes to wear, spoiling Mister Muffykins rotten, and occasionally doing at least some token work in their family business. So they can't really be too idle. They're too rich to be.

The threat of Passed-Over Inheritance is particularly powerful against the younger members of the family in this set.

Now this is some Truth in Television, as some real-life people have acted like this (such as during the "Gilded Age"), as do Socialites today, such as the Kardashians. And the Ermine Cape Effect long gave the impression of this among royalty and nobility.

A Super-Trope to:

Compare Princess Classic, Screw the Rules, I Have Money!, Famous for Being Famous, and Reclining Reigner.

Contrast Non-Idle Rich, Royals Who Actually Do Something, Rebellious Princess.


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  • According to a Groupon commercial, there are two kinds of people in the world: the "haves", and the "have-dones". The "haves" are depicted as luxurious people who just stand there, while the "have-dones" are people with active lives.

    Anime & Manga 
  • This trope is discussed in Black Clover. It's stated that because nobles are born with innately powerful magic they rarely ever conduct research, train, or risk their lives on the battlefield, with many even looking down on hard work. As a result, their magical potential is, for the most part, wasted. This is seen with most non-Magic Knight nobles being overconfident about their magic and soon afterwards put in their place.

    Comic Books 
  • Classically, Bruce Wayne posed as an Idle Rich playboy in public (in modern times he's more commonly portrayed as an active CEO of Wayne Enterprises with a work hard, play hard reputation). But at night he is the Batman.
  • Paulie in Circles inherited a ton of money from his mother's side of the family and doesn't work because he is retired.

    Comic Strips 
  • The titular Flossie of The Fortunes of Flossie never seems to want for money to spend on her wardrobe of fabulous clothes, various forms of entertainment and travel, or general upkeep of her carefree lifestyle. Multiple strips mention that she has a maid, so it can be assumed Flossie is middle or upper class. While she does try to ingratiate herself to wealthy, childless Aunt Ann in an attempt to get written into the will, there don't appear to be any negative consequences for Flossie when Aunt Ann decides to donate her fortune to "science."
  • The Andersons of Madam & Eve seem to fall under this trope — neither of them do any work (except for occasional part-time jobs as needed for a laugh), and there's seldom any anxiety about paying the bills or rising prices. Most discussions about money only arise during the annual wage negotiations with their housekeeper, Eve.

    Fan Works 
  • In An 'April Fool's' Errand, Hades and Persephone humorously remark that Zeus has too much time on his hands when they see a doodle of Zeus with a lightning bolt drawn next to the words "By Order of Zeus" on their springtime celebration invitations.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Denmark's Prince Edvard of The Prince & Me shirks his princely duties (including opening a cabinet meeting) by instead racing sports cars. Paige knows exactly who he is. He's a spoiled, little rich kid who sees college as a detour on the way to an easy life. No character. No accomplishments. Just a royal pain in the ass.
  • The Idle Class: Almost everyone except the Little Tramp, particularly the husband who looks exactly like the Tramp.
  • Harold Lloyd typically alternated feature films between this type of character (at least at the start of the movie) and his more well-known go-getter boy.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: For a whole decade, Past Charles Xavier hasn't done anything the least bit productive, although he has an excuse; the events of the previous movie were rather hard on him, and he isn't so much Idle Rich as Clinically Depressed Rich who's self-medicating with liquor.
  • In The Mad Miss Manton, all the debutante girls are viewed this way by the public—-in a way, they are—- but they do a lot of charity work, and try to solve a murder mystery.
  • The rich socialites in Sin Takes a Holiday do nothing but dance or have dinner parties.
  • Very deliberate in In Time. Since time is literally money, and the rich by definition have a lot of it, doing everything very slowly is their version of Conspicuous Consumption.
  • Paula from The Ex-Mrs. Bradford. She writes mystery novels and lives the idle lifestyle except when there's a murder to solve.
  • Joséphine de Beauharnais' introduction in Napoléon (1927) explicitly describes her as such.
  • Natacha and Michael from Sahara. They own a picturesque patch of land watered by an oasis, lounge around and eat fruit all day, and are on good terms with other wealthy snake families in the area.
  • In Brief Moment, the rich Deanes don't do all. Even when they have a job with their father, it’s just to sit around and mull about, not contributing anything to the company.
  • Subverted in The Thin Man series. Nick Charles would very much like to be idly rich but he's constantly pulled into one murder investigation after another.
  • Inverted by Dick and Dora Charleston in Murder by Death. They hold themselves out as the idle rich but Dick is hiding their precarious financial position, down to pretty much pocket change and some Green Stamps.
  • Troop Beverly Hills: Ironically, while she certainly appeared to at times, Phyllis Nefler (the page image) never played this trope absolutely straight. She really was trying to do better with herself, but simply never thought much about her true calling. Then she became the eponymous troop leader (and, in the process, truly subverted the trope).
  • In Sorry, Wrong Number, Leona is born into wealth and loves it. Henry, on the other hand, is stifled under her controlling behaviour.
  • Catch Us If You Can: When Dinah asks Guy what he does, he answers, "Do? We don't do anything." He spends most of his time collecting old objects, like phonograph cylinders, posters, and especially family photographs, and fighting with his wife Nan.


  • When Jerin gets a taste of real wealth in A Brother's Price, he quickly finds that for him the idleness is enforced, it's confining, and he's bored. He and his sisters end up reading a newspaper "to death" and have to be rescued by friends.
  • Arabella Yount and the other bankers' wives in Capital.
  • In Andre Norton's Catseye, Tikil is full of Blue Bloods far from the planets where they get their money, living a life of luxury.
  • Serkhet and her servants in Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain consider the idea of a ruler that actually does things themselves (like Emperor Mollusk) to be grotesque.
  • Colin, the wealthy, sophisticated, care-free protagonist of Boris Vian's Froth on the Daydream. Too bad this state doesn't last.
  • Deconstructed with Tom and Daisy in The Great Gatsby: sure, they don’t work, but they are constantly chased by all kinds of Con Man (Biloxi), The Thing That Would Not Leave (Klipspringer), and Nouveau Riche (Gatsby). Without a job, they have plenty of time for Rich Boredom. Both of them are Lonely at the Top, they cheat on each other without any passion, Tom is clinging to his Glory Days as a football hero because he knows he will never top that, and Daisy is a Stepford Smiler.
  • The House With a Clock in Its Walls: Jonathan van Olden Barnavelt lives off an inheritance (and, per later books, the income he gets from having invested most of it in stocks and bonds) and spends most of his time just hanging around the house when he's not out running errands, doing work for the Capharnaum County Magician's Society or taking his nephew Lewis places.
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey novel Have His Carcass, one professional dancer speaks with contempt of women who resort to the high life rather than making a life for themselves.
    "L'amour! These ladies come and dance and excite themselves and want love and think it is happiness. And they tell me about their sorrows — me — and they have no sorrows at all, only that they are silly and selfish and lazy. Their husbands are unfaithful and their lovers run away and what do they say? Do they say, I have two hands, two feet, all my faculties, I will make a life for myself? No. They say, give me cocaine, give me the cocktail, give me the thrill, give me my gigolo, give me l'amo-o-ur! Like a mouton bleating in a field."
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's Michael O'Halloran, Douglas recounts how a friend of his is training an orphan waif to follow him in his business because while he has sons, his rich wife is training them to be "men of wealth and leisure".
  • "Northwestward": Mr. Wayne is retired, and describes himself as "very well off". Multiple houses are mentioned, as well as multiple servants and a museum of Batman memorabilia.
  • Oona Out of Order: Oona has taken advantage of her random leaps in time to make good investments that have paid off so well that she doesn't need to work. This gives her the freedom her to travel or volunteer. She does make an exception when she leaps to the year 1999. She gets a job at a coffeehouse/record store, which makes it easier for her to keep an eye out (or spy/stalk) on her son..
  • Laribel Ossertine in Skate the Thief is a Blue Blood and Lady of Black Magic of some wealth who seems to spend all of her time studying and discussing magic with her peers rather than doing anything to attain wealth. Despite having no day job, she wears fine clothes and keeps a fashionable home with no difficulty.
  • The Tusaine King in Song of the Lioness (who is one of the few examples in the Tortall Universe). He lounges around and parties while his brother and cousin run the country. When said brother and cousin are captured in the brief war (which they started), the King immediately sues for peace with Tortall so they can go back to running the country for him.
    • King Roger was this prior to the start of the Beka Cooper, even being nicknamed "Randy Roger'', leaving his brother Prince Baird to run Tortall for him. By the start of the trilogy, he no longer is, as his second wife, Queen Jessamine, was raised to be Royals Who Actually Do Something, and convinced him to be the same.
    • Also, in the Circle of Magic series, Sandrilene fa Toren and her great-uncle (the ruling Duke of Emelean) admit that the former's parents were pleasure-seekers who traveled around frequently solely for their own and their daughter's amusement.
  • In The Seven Underground Kings, the underground kingdom is ruled by seven kings in succession. Each king rules for a month, while the others are in a magically-induced sleep. After waking up, the next king has Laser-Guided Amnesia and has to be re-educated, which takes about two weeks. The remaining 2-3 weeks, the king parties like there's no tomorrow. So what happens when the rest of the kingdom decides that enough is enough? They awaken all the kings and convince them they're common workers. Cue a bloodless revolution.
  • Ivan Vorpatril in Vorkosigan Saga is a subversion. He wants few things more than to be idle and to convince everyone else he is idle. But unfortunately, the antics of his cousin Miles always prevent that.
  • Practically all of the characters in all of the novels of P. G. Wodehouse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock refers to this as "Trust Fund Kid Syndrome"; however, his definition of it expands to include anyone born to wealth who uses that to do something other than accumulating even more wealth.
  • The short-lived German TV show Blaues Blut aka Blue Blood was about a Count Henri Von Alternberg teaming up with his American ex-wife to solve crimes as private investigators, to pass the time and regain a bit of the family fortune.
  • Many of the rich women in Devious Maids, most notably Evelyn and Genevieve.
  • Gilligan's Island: Mr. and Mrs. Howell were this.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Hart from Hart to Hart, a modern-day Nick and Nora Charles, were this. True, they usually got involved in some crime mystery, but that was just what they did for fun.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022):
    • Lestat de Lioncourt is so incredibly wealthy that he doesn't have to work, and Alderman Fenwick (who's an affluent politician) notes that Lestat has a "seemingly endless supply of capital."
    • After Louis de Pointe du Lac loses all of his businesses thanks to City Ordinance 4118, he can still afford to live in the lap of luxury without a job because "From 1912 to 1917, I made a mountain of money, enough to retire and be buried like a pharaoh."
  • Legion: Charles Xavier is sufficiently wealthy that he doesn't need a job, so he has the luxury to pursue his own personal interests. He spends his time building Cerebro in the hope that he can telepathically locate other mutants around the world. When he discovers one living in Morocco, he travels there at a moment's notice and stays there for an extended period of time because there are no constraints on his schedule, plus money isn't an issue.
  • Charles Nutt III in The Nutt House. Until his grandmother calls him in to help save the hotel, he's recovering in Miami from an exhausting twenty minutes attending Harvard Business School.
  • Averted on Schitt's Creek. The Roses used to be incredibly rich, but all four are revealed to have been hard workers. Johnny was a video store mogul, Moira is an actress, David ran galleries and even the closest one to being idle was Socialite Alexis and even she had projects like a line of edible nail polish and a critically-reviewed reality show. But in Moira, David, and Alexis's case, many of their endeavors were subsidized by Johnny, whether they knew it or not.
  • Connor Roy in Succession: Logan Roy's firstborn child, he would seem the logical choice of heir to his fortune. Unfortunately he has zero interest in running a global media empire and would much rather laze about his massive ranch pretending to be an intellectual. This gets brought to a head starting in season 3, when he gets it in his head that just having political opinions and money qualifies him to become the president of the United States. He's made to look a fool when he throws huge amounts of money toward a doomed campaign.

  • Dario from the Cool Kids Table game Here We Gooooo! is incredibly bored staying at home, and is simply passing the time jumping on Goombas when Princess Caramel Seltzer's letter asking for help appears.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Space 1889 played straight. People with social class 5 or 6 (on a scale to six) are independently wealthy and get money without working. You can still choose to put your character’s free time to good use, though, but he or she will probably consider real work for money, particularly if it is some form of manual labor, beneath him or her.

  • The D'Ysquith clan in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.
  • The Moon is Blue has David Slater, who probably never worked a single day in his life and won't have to for the foreseeable future. He wins $600 in a game of gin with a "bloated capitalist who grinds the faces of the poor," who turns out to be Don.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Knight: Thomas "Hush" Eliot uses this to justify stealing Bruce Wayne's wealth - Bruce has never had to work a day in his life, so someone who's had to claw his way up (like Tommy) deserves it more. Batman catches him off-guard by removing his cowl, utterly stunning Tommy - if Bruce is Batman, then Bruce has spent his entire life working for what he has. This gives Batman an opening to disarm him and take him down.
  • In Crusader Kings most courtiers that don't have titles or duties will be this. It is especially important to avoid for Muslims as idle men will spend their time drinking and partying and raise the dynasty's decadence, paving the way for invasion by other Muslim rulers. The Republic also introduced this as all adult men of the dynasty was given a share of the profits (resulting in players killing useless dynasty members). A later patch inverted this by limiting the number of trade posts to the number of adult men in the dynasty.
  • Some Nobles in Dwarf Fortress have the 'Lazy' token, meaning they won't participate in any of the fortress's work.
  • Towards the end of the Imperial Agent storyline in Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Agent attends a party of rich good-for-nothings on Correllia who are so fed up and bored with their carefree life that they chose to party away for as long as they can before their planet is destroyed by the fighting between the Republic and the Sith—not even attempting to do anything about it.
  • The City-Building Series: In Caesar III and Pharaoh, housing that benefits from enough high-class amenities will become luxury residences for Patricians and Scribes, respectively. Somewhat Awesome, yet Impractical since they aren't part of the workforce and require lots of resources to retain, but they pay a fortune in taxes to make up for it.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Daughter for Dessert, Lainie, Cecilia, and their family don’t work and never have. They don’t need to. Even so, they object to the term “rich.”

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Amoridere: Toki, as would be implied by at least a few stories, considering that we don't have many mentions of her having a job, despite her being so wealthy. Averted in her twin sister, Doki's case, as she's mentioned to be working as a nurse but would be wealthy by extension.

    Real Life 
  • The FIRE movement involves people aiming for a smaller scale version. They want to retire as fast as possible, so they do all they can to pinch pennies, and invest hard, and well, enough, so that they can gain enough wealth to retire early, and live off their investments. Tricks like House Hacking can help with this, though some go with more extreme methods, like reusing toilet paper.


Blutarch Mann

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