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If I Were a Rich Man

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"If I had a million dollars
I'd buy you an exotic pet
Yep! Like a llama, or an emu."
Barenaked Ladies, "If I Had $1,000,000"

A character has a fantasy about being wealthy and filthy rich, and the sybaritic lifestyle they would lead. Usually done when a character has just made up a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme that you know is not going to work. Such fantasies typically include bathing in pools of money, buying an opulent Cool House and other forms of Conspicuous Consumption.

In a musical, may be the inspiration for a Money Song.

Note that this is just a daydream of it, not an alternate reality, possible future, or the actual result of a wish.

A Sub-Trope of Fantasy Sequence.

Compare Wealthy Ever After, Mock Millionaire (if the character is pretending to be rich).


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  • Commercials for the Canadian lottery "Lotto 6/49" encourage this trope on the part of the viewer, using the slogan "Imagine The Freedom".
  • A frequent selling point for lotteries with advertised jackpots running in the hundreds of millions of dollars. For example, TV ads for the New York Lottery, for its participation in both Mega Millions and Powerball, include exaggerated depictions of winners living the high life like driving a luxury sedan in reverse down his driveway to pick up the newspaper ... then driving back towards the house as the camera pulls back to reveal that the driveway is more akin to a winding road in the woods with the house nowhere in view. The slogan used: "New York Lottery — yeah, that kind of rich."

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Ashita no Nadja, one episode revolves around Nadja, Kennosuke, and Leader searching for a treasure supposedely buried by Joan of Arc. Kennosuke imagines himself being able to invent a revolutionary automobile (and to conquer Najda's heart), while Nadja imagines being able to rebuild her old orphanage (and get the admiration of her old friends). As the treasure is implied to be more and more valuable, we see each of their fantasies get more preposterous, but it's revealed to not be that kind of treasure (flowers, representing Joan's wish for the war to end). At the end, the kids ask Leader what he would have done if they had actually found a treasure. He explains that he would have spend it to search for a bigger one.
  • Mako of Nerima Daikon Brothers is prone to these.
  • Pokémon's Team Rocket has these often. One time Jessie pictures herself waving yen bills around, while lounging around in a purple slinky dress and a feather boa.
  • Kotaro in Papuwa. Keeping in mind that this Dude Looks Like a Lady (to the point that some viewers have refused to believe that he's a boy), he occasionally has fantasies along these lines... which involve him living in a castle in an elaborate dress, like a princess. As it happens, his family actually is rather wealthy, he just doesn't know it.
  • This is one of the things Keiichi mulls over when Belldandy appears to grant him a wish in the second episode of the Ah! My Goddess TV series.

    Comic Books 

    Film - Animation 

    Film - Live-Action 
  • What would Lawrence from Office Space do if he were a rich man? "...two chicks at the same time, man." What would Peter Gibbons Do? "Nothing."
  • Mamma Mia! has the heroine and her friends sing "Money, Money, Money" by ABBA while having a fantasy about lying around on a private yacht being waited on by handsome sailors.
  • Played with in High Society, where two reporters, while taking in the luxurious home of the high society family they're writing a story about, sing "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire!" ("I Don't!"), listing in the song all the luxuries they could afford if they were rich, and for each one, claiming not to want it. By their expressions and the effort they put into the song, it's implied to be a case of Sour Grapes, however.
  • At the start of the remake of The Italian Job, the robbers fantasize about what each will do with his share of the loot. Lyle wants an expensive stereo set-up (speakers so loud they blow a woman's clothes off, literally), Handsome Rob wants a car, and Left Ear wants a mansion with a room just for his shoes. Steve can't come up with anything, so he just says he'll take one of each. You get to see their dreams come true at the very end of the film once they get the loot back from Steve who, with no ideas of his own, really did just copy their plans.
  • Willy Krueger in Mr. Krueger's Christmas frequently has these fantasies, distracting him from his lonely life as a custodian at an apartment building.
  • In The Treasure of the Sierra Madre each of the three prospectors tell the others what they will do now that they've struck it rich. Howard, the old prospector, is done looking for gold. He'll settle down with some kind of store and spend his days reading adventure stories. Curtin, an orchard because of his (somewhat idealized) memories of picking fruit one summer when he was a kid (read The Grapes of Wrath). Fred C. Dobbs? First a Turkish Bath to clean out all the dirt. Then clothes — a dozen of everything. Then a fancy restaurant ordering everything on the Bill of Fare and if it isn't just right, and maybe even if it is, he'll send it back and bawl out the waiter. When Curtin asks "Then what?" Dobbs answers "Well, what would be?" The two younger man stare into space with very intense looks until Howard interrupts them to remind them it wasn't all that healthy to be thinking about women in their current situation. Big dreams for $30,000 each but it was 1925.

  • The Twelve Chairs/The Little Golden Calf: This is Ostap Bender's motivation in both books he appears in. The third and final part of The Little Golden Calf is actually a deconstruction: even after Bender gets his long-desired wealth, it turns out to be near-useless in the Soviet Union, where he can't be openly rich, while goods and services are mostly gained for government favors, not money.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg often fantasizes about being rich and famous and seems convinced that it'll happen one day.
  • Dorothy Parker wrote a short story called "The Standard of Living" about two girls who like to play "If you had a million dollars..." It ends with them going to a jeweler's to look at a necklace, guessing that it costs a thousand dollars, or maybe ten thousand.... The jeweler tells them it's $250,000. As they walk away, one of them asks the other what she would do if, say, someone died and left her ten million dollars.
  • Discworld:
    • We don't get the details, but in Guards! Guards! when Vimes hears that the bounty for the dragon is fifty thousand dollars:
    Vimes: What he couldn't do with fifty thousand dollars ...
    Vimes thought about this for a while and then thought of the things he could do with fifty thousand dollars. There were so many more of them, for a start.
    • Subverted with Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, who, even when making money hand over fist by being the manager for the Disc's only rock band, would still need several billion years to become richer than his wildest dreams.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Dark version. The peasant Moash tells his fellow peasants that if he were in charge, the nobles would be worked to death instead. Another peasant darkly notes that this is no different than what is currently happening, just to someone else. When Moash becomes a noble in the second book, he proves himself at least as selfish as the nobles he so despised.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "King and Brooks", Miss Brooks dreams about what life would be like married to a maharajah.
  • Happens on an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody when they take a Inept Aptitude Test. Zack (the slacker doofus) gets the result of "millionaire". Cody (the studious dork) gets "custodial engineer". Cody's even in the fantasy to sweep up....
    • In the treasure hunt episode, everyone in the main cast has one. Zack imagines that he's married to Maddie and has his own private arcade, Cody imagines winning the Nobel Prize in every subject (plus baking), Maddie imagines becoming the president, Esteban imagines becoming manager of the Tipton Hotel and making London a bellhop, and London... imagines it to be just like her life is right now, as she's already filthy rich.
  • The ninth season of Roseanne involves the main characters winning the lottery and every episode is about them getting in wacky situations with their newfound wealth... until the final episode reveals that the whole season was a novel Roseanne wrote to cope with Dan's death.
  • When the Scrubs gang enters the lottery, they imagine what they'd do with millions of dollars. This provides a few opportunities for other characters to do JD's "imagine for a bit, oblivious to the world, then come back with a bizarre statement" thing. Dr. Cox imagines putting Jordan into a box. "I gotta call my glass guy."
    • The show also features the Barenaked Ladies song in the page quote.
  • Jackie has one of these in the That '70s Show episode when she find out that Hyde has potential, judging by his SAT score. "Now we don't have to be poor!" After, Hyde remarks "Was there a string quartet? If we're rich, we're getting Led Zepplin or something" and Fez complaining about always being the butler/servant in their fantasies.
  • Only Fools and Horses is made of this trope. Every single business deal Del enters into is part of his get-rich plan. He is constantly saying "This time next year, we'll be millionaires!" He and Rodney actually sing the song in the hilarious episode "And the Unlucky Winner Is ...", when they thought they'd won a million pasetas. Of course, because they told all those lies, they are unable to collect the money.
  • In one episode of Little House on the Prairie, Laura and one of her schoolmates discover what they believe to be gold in a nearby stream, and secretly begin sifting it out into a wheelbarrel. In the days it takes to do this, Laura has ongoing dreams of her and her family being gorgeously dressed while everyone else in town looks on enviously while covered in filth and rags. Of course, the 'gold' turns out to be pyrite.
  • The Saved by the Bell cast imagine what life would be like in the school now that the place is oil rich, and the fantasy includes stuff like Kelly wearing a full length mink coat and Screech being an Arab sheikh.
  • Kenan & Kel: Kenan once sued a cannery for ten million dollars and imagined what he'd do with the money. Kel had his own fantasy. With ham.
  • Blake's 7. Given that he's Not in This for Your Revolution, Vila Restal will start going on about this trope every time the rebels are seeking a MacGuffin that will make them a load of money or enable them to overthrow the Federation (it's Tempting Fate of course, as Failure Is the Only Option). It's often pointed out that he'd quickly get bored and start looking for something to break into.
  • Amen's Ernest Frye is offered a $100,000 bribe to throw a case he's overseeing and has a brief fantasy about the luxurious life he could provide his friends and family (as well, his daughter and son-in-law are trying to save up money for a house).

  • The Barenaked Ladies song "If I Had $1,000,000.". And the Brobdingnagian Bards cover/parody "If I Had a Million Ducats."
    • The last line of the Barenaked Ladies' song is "If I had a million dollars....I'd be rich."
  • Gwen Stefani's song "Rich Girl". (Partly to the tune of "If I Were A Rich Man") Not the video as much.
  • The 1959 hit, "Money (That's What I Want)"
    • Disney did a music video of the song starring Scrooge McDuck
    • And The Beatles did a cover generally regarded as worse.
  • Travie McCoy, "Billionaire" ("I wanna be a fuckin' bad...")
  • ABBA, "Money Money Money" ("All the things I could do, if I had a little money!")
  • Dire Straits, "Money For Nothing" has shades of this, as the song is from the point-of-view of a delivery person who's jealous of the wealth and fame that rock stars have don't have to engage in hard manual labor like he does.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Peanuts had a strip in which Lucy tells Charlie Brown that if she had a million dollars, she'd spend it all on marshmallows.
  • Calvin has frequently fantasized about this, although for him rich is ten dollars.

  • The Trope Namer is a song from Fiddler on the Roof which also toys with it. The only real thing he shows humbleness towards is that he would be able to work less so he could spend more time in Synagogue praying, which points up why he is willing to have his daughters tutored.
    Perchik: Money is the world's curse!
    Tevye: May God smite me with it. And may I never recover!
  • Higher And Higher: The song "Disgustingly Rich" from the obscure Rodgers and Hart musical.
  • In The Musical In the Heights, there's a song called "96,000", which is all the characters fantasizing in counterpoint about what they'd do if they were the ones with the winning lottery ticket.
  • Allegro: The ironically titled song "Money Isn't Everything" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's play.
  • Twelfth Night: Malvolio has quite the indulgent one about marrying the rich Olivia.
  • The Alchemist has many characters fantasizing about what they'd do with the Philosopher's Stone. Sir Epicure Mammon gets the longest speech; he plans on feasting on exotic delicacies like quail tongue and lampreys, and he'd be so rich that feather mattresses would be too coarse — he'd have to have air ... he'd set up a system of aqueducts to carry milk and rose-water to everyone....
  • Inverted in Camelot with "What Do the Simple Folk Do?", which features a lord and lady wondering about the peasantry. At the end, they decide that the peasants wonder what the nobles do.
  • From Cabaret, "Money makes the world go round".

  • One storyline in Rob and Elliot features the titular characters earning 10 million dollars in merchandising fees. While they wait for their residuals to arrive they fantasize about throwing money around like confetti, rolling around in piles of cash and tossing wads of dollar bills at each other like snowballs... only for their fantasy to immediately be cut short by the arrival of a lone check for the money.
    • Cut to the two of them impotently throwing the check around at each other and rolling around on top of it.
  • One of the guys at the bar in Mandatory Roller Coaster fantasizes about being rich enough to go to the doctor.
  • Seven of Off-White does this. The things she has fantasized about include fancy stilettos, pink googles, comics, fur coats, rings, frag grenades, anti-tank rocket launcher...

    Western Animation  
  • The Simpsons: Homer Simpson has a few of these, frequently subject to Fantasy Twist.
    • Upon hearing of an opportunity to "become a moderately wealthy man", Homer imagines himself rolling in a small pile of money and shouting, "I'm sort of rich! I can rent anything I want!"
    • Making $11 on the stock market, and fantasizing about getting a carwash.
    • One of his odder ideas was that winning the lottery would let him become a 100-foot tall gold-plated demigod.
    • He imagined himself living in a house made of pearls and losing his teeth to his breakfast, a bowl of pearls.
    • He had a fantasy of having his own recording studio.
    • He imagines what his life would be like if he robbed the Kwik-E-Mart, and sees himself sitting in a rocking chair outside a huge mansion, smoking cigars, and wearing a top hat monocle and a sash saying "Senator", while Marge go-go dances in a swimsuit next to him. By the time he decides he will rob the place, he has already done his shopping and is driving away from it.
    • After sinking his money into a doomed stock, he assures the broker that he knows the risks... as he imagines himself in a Broadway revue, singing "We're in the Money" with a group of scantily-clad female dancers as the curtains open to reveal a giant gorilla roaring and holding fistfuls of cash.
      Homer: You heard the monkey, make the trade.
    • "With ten thousand dollars we'd be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things, like... love!"
    • Bart got in on this once. After being told of winning $500 in a lawsuit, he imagines hitting Vegas, betting it all on roulette. And loses. He still chuckles after the dream plays out.
    • Bart once found a $1000 bill Mr. Burns lost and made an additional $2000 showing it to people, then fantasized it letting him having "Bart's Moon Party from Outer Space, with R2-D2 playing the bass" (sung by imaginary singers and then by Homer, in reality, a couple minutes later).
    • Lisa had one, briefly — when the FBI informed the family that Homer had stolen the trillion-dollar bill, Marge says it's going straight in the college fund. Lisa yells "Who needs college?! We're trillionaires! Let's buy dune buggies!"
    • One episode has Bart dreaming that he is a rich and famous rock star. Of course, his dream just shows him insulting his fans onstage, throwing a liquor bottle at Milhouse after being criticized for his spoiled, hedonistic attitude, and (strangely) having a British accent.
  • Family Guy: Peter Griffin, though he usually think of some ridiculous thing he would spend the money on. In fact, in the very first episode, a computer error at the welfare office resulted in them getting a huge check from the government, which he used in part to build a moat around the house (to keep the Black Knight away, of course).
  • Done in Xiaolin Showdown in an illusion made by Wuya to help her We Can Rule Together Speech. Raimundo sees himself in a mansion with his own video arcade, a skateboard park, and a butler serving him pizza and soda — basically, anything and everything he wants or could ever want. After his Face–Heel Turn, he actually gets these things.
  • In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, the kids ponder what they will do with the money they'll get after they acquire Astro Rubies.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head: Monsieurs Butt-head and Beavis do this when they hear that there's a reward being offered for their missing friend. Butt-head imagines laying next to a pool while a girl brings him a drink. Beavis does the same thing — except his girl brings him a detonation plunger.
    • When they considered what they might get for copying David Letterman, they just imagined sitting on the couch with piles of cash and some chicks.
  • Futurama: Mom started to wonder about what she would do if she had all the money of the world but stopped when she remembered she does have it.
  • Recess: In one episode, the gang finds a hundred dollar bill, and each of them fantasizes what they'd do with it. All of their fantasies include a jetpack.
  • On The Wild Thornberrys, Eliza told Darwin she'd buy, among other things, a swimming pool full of pudding. When Darwin asked whether she could actually swim in it, she said, "No, and I don't care!"
  • In King of the Hill, Bobby comes to the mistaken assumption that his father is a millionare. What follows is an Imagine Spot where the Hills are portrayed as a combination rich hip-hop artists and Scrooge McDuck, with a pair of white tigers, a personal helicopter, and a dollar sign-shaped swimming pool.
  • In the Donald Duck cartoon "Donald's Crime", Donald briefly imagines himself as a millionaire after Daisy calls him a "big shot", complete with top hat, monocle, and posh outfit, before the narrator points out what stealing from his nephews really makes him: a gangster!

    Real Life  
  • Who hasn't fantasized about what they would do if they won the lottery?
  • Glam Rap runs on this trope. Especially since most such rappers aren't rich at all, or get their money through some non-music means (such as launching a clothing line.)