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Rich Boredom

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The lot of man is ceaseless labor,
Or ceaseless idleness, which is still harder.
Choruses from The Rock by T. S. Eliot

Money makes you lonely, foolish, or even evil, but worse than any of these: since you can buy anything, including having people do everything that needs to be done, you are bored, bored, bored. There are no challenges in life. You don't have to work. You don't have to keep house. You don't, in fact, have to do anything.

And everyone expects you to like it.

Even a Royal Brat, suffocated with toys, may suffer from this and straighten out when given something worth doing. Many rich characters find themselves abruptly precipitated into adventure and (once they get over the shock) loving it because it lends meaning to their life.

More proactively, the Gentleman Adventurer, and Gentleman Thief all often turn to In Harm's Way to escape. Other characters may turn to charity works, travel, writing books, scholarly work, or other ways of becoming Non-Idle Rich to avoid this problem. The Gentleman Snarker may be warding it off with his observations. Expect it to be a feature of any Gilded Cage, maybe with a Caged Bird Metaphor invoked.

Not all the Idle Rich are bored; the intelligent, the well-intentioned, and those with a lot of energy may be alone, and the family may regard their boredom as silly, or recommend shopping as an infallible antidote. Those who like idleness will often clash with Non-Idle Rich in their own family.

The courtiers of the Decadent Court are uncommonly likely to suffer this, despite their intrigues and their culture.

Compare No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction and Victory Is Boring; overlap is possible. Can justify Cut Lex Luthor a Check; they have enough money so the point of their Evil Plan is excitement.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Love and Rockets - Young Luba is bored with her life as a rich housewife and goes looking for excitement. She finds it in drugs, affairs, and dancing.
  • The British comic Whoopee! featured the Bumpkin Billionaires, a family of yokels who had come into some money but were desperate to get rid of it and go back to their old life. Their attempts to rid themselves of their wealth were always unsuccessful and often ended up increasing their wealth.
  • The British comic Lion had the anti-hero The Spider (not the same as the character created by The Spider's creator R.T.M. Scott) whose back story is that he was a bored, rich, super-fit middle-aged man who initially took up cat burglary but then decided it was too easy, returned everything he'd stolen and became a crime-fighter instead.
  • Benito Medici, the son of one of the richest and most powerful men in the world in 100 Bullets. He's so bored that he gambles just for fun and gets involved with some very dangerous people out of his father's reach, just for fun.
  • In Harvey Comics' Black Cat, Linda Turner chooses to become a masked vigilante simply because she is bored of her glamorous Hollywood life.
  • In Astro City, Starfighter observes he doesn't need the money from his writing career, not when he's married to an empress, but he likes to keep busy.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Draska seems to have originally started acting as a spymistress out of boredom, and therefore developed a history with Darnell, long before she started running into financial trouble seeing as her need to play manipulative spy games is what brought the countess to the point where she now needs to sell her services in the field in order to maintain her lavish lifestyle.
  • In Tales of the Jedi, unlike most people who turn to the Dark Side, Satal and Aleema Keto did not start out with any great ambitions to fulfill, enemies to defeat or needs that had to be addressed. They were simply spoiled young members of the royalty of the Empress Teta system with time on their hands who develop an interest in Sith lore while visiting a museum, and decide that it would be a kick to learn more. Things go downhill from there.

    Comic Strips 
  • Defied in one Dilbert comic strip. Dogbert, due to some very good investments, gets a few hundred thousand from said investments. He's out for a walk when he tells a random businessman "Roll around in that mud puddle over there, and I will give you $1,000 dollars." The businessman does so, with Dogbert quipping "I don't know how rich people ever get bored."

    Films — Animated 
  • In Disney's The Princess and the Frog, Idle Rich Prince Naveen admits to something very similar - that the cooking, the washing, absolutely everything was done for him as he frittered away money on idle entertainment with women and dancing, and when his parents cut him off, he realised that he doesn't really know how to do anything for himself.
  • In Megamind, after he succeeded in killing his heroic nemesis Metro Man, Megamind robbed banks and obliterated the city just for the sport of it but then he realized that he now has everything and becomes depressed of how boring it is to be a villain without any challenges. Megamind tries lecturing this trope to Minion (who can't seem to comprehend why his master is so bored):
    Megamind: Just think about it. We have it all. And yet, we have nothing. It's just too easy now. I mean, we did it right? Then why do I feel so melancholy? Unhappy?

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) revolves around this trope.
  • Rat Race: The film is about a group of rich people who shove two million dollars into a locker several hundred miles away, tell a few normal people where it is, and then take bets on who will get there first, as well as bet on random things during the race.
  • Surviving the Game: The rich hunting clients all pay $50,000 in order to go hunting - hunting a human, that is - for the ultimate rush.
  • Mr. Clamp from Gremlins 2: The New Batch. He was originally supposed to be some sort of nefarious Corrupt Corporate Executive, but when we see him actually working in his huge top-floor office, he's just kinda goofing off, doesn't seem to know how to fill the hours, and dictates on-the-whim suggestions for a parade to his secretary.
  • Linda Seton in Holiday need never work a day in her life. She hates it!
    Johnny: What you need's some time off from what you've been doing day in, day out.
    Linda: You mean from what I've not been doing days in — please — years out!
    • Her brother Ned's discontent with his lot, too. His father makes him go into the office and "work" till 6:00, even though there's nothing for him to do. He spends most of his free time drinking.
  • Wes Anderson's early works are all about dissatisfied wealthy people. Sometimes this is because of simple boredom:
    • Bottle Rocket is about a group of aimless rich kids who turn to petty thievery for some sort of direction in their lives.
    • Rushmore: Bill Murray's character is a bored rich man suffering a mid-life crisis.
  • In Buster Keaton comedy The Navigator, Buster is an Idle Rich nitwit who asks his girlfriend to marry him that day because he doesn't have anything better to do.
  • In Titanic (1953), Julia is sick of her life as a rich elite. She leaves her husband with their two children to go back to Michigan. Julia doesn't like her children being raised as pampered ”hotel kids”.
  • In Titanic (1997), Rose is also sick of her life as a rich elite. She would rather run away than be married to a man who is rude and conceited, even though her mother wants her to because they’re broke.
  • In About a Boy, Will is a happily Idle Rich man living off royalties from a Christmas carol his father wrote until he finds himself a Parental Substitute to a socially isolated preteen boy. When he has a Second-Act Breakup and withdraws into his previous life, he finds it dull and empty.
  • Ocean's Twelve: François Tolour, a.k.a. the Night Fox, is one of the most elusive thieves in the business. As the son of an Italian noblewoman he's already enormously wealthy, so his heists are done purely for the challenge and the glory of being uncaught. Danny Ocean describes him as "rich and bored" when telling his crew about their new nemesis.

  • A Brother's Price: During their stay at the palace, Jerin and his sisters are soon bored because there is nothing to do.
  • Animorphs has Marco after the end of the war. He has money, fame, and his own TV show, but he admitted it himself - he was bored out of his mind, so much so that he volunteered to join his old friend on a probable Suicide Mission pretty cheerfully.
  • A Hole in the Fence: Saura's father, who has been the Metropolis' governor for four decades, lives in a lavish penthouse, which he deems "as boring as any paradise".
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Summer Moonshine, Mr. Bulpitt has only once failed to serve processes on anyone: a multi-millionaire who died leaving a note that Mr. Bulpiit had cured him of "onwee" as Mr. Bulpitt says it. Also, he had left him his entire fortune for it. Mr. Bulpitt retired, briefly, and found out what "onwee" was, but even back in business, he can save his Impoverished Patrician niece.
  • In "The Case of the Rich Woman", one of Agatha Christie's Parker Pyne stories, this is the problem that the rich woman wants Mr. Parker Pyne to solve for her.
  • In Samuel Johnson's Rasselas, Rasselas's problem in the valley is exactly this, because he is surrounded by every luxury.
  • In John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps, the narrator Richard Hannay Jumped at the Call because of this trope. He had retired young and financially secure after a successful career in Africa, and was utterly bored and on the verge of packing it all in and going back to Africa just for something to do. Later books find him happily working hard as a regimental officer in the ensuing war.
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' Gaudy Night, Harriet indignantly defends Lord Peter Wimsey: catching murderers, even for fun, is difficult and dangerous, and many people have reason to be grateful for it.
  • In H. G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau, Prendick had studied biology as a relief from the dullness of his life.
  • In Illuminatus!, Robert Putney Drake is a dissatisfied spoilt rich kid who compounds idleness and a sense of not having properly earned his fabulous wealth with a desire to make something of himself. He opts to translate the wealth into real power and escalates from ticking off the daughters of other rich families to systematically becoming the most powerful man in the USA - whilst maintaining the facade of an irresponsible playboy.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: Bria came from a very wealthy family on Corellia, and felt empty with her life of luxury. After Bria had attended a Ylesian service and experienced the Exultation, she ran away to become a Pilgrim on Ylesia. However, the entire faith turned out to be a scam for enslaving people.
  • A recurring theme in Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels — there's no clean way to make a million dollars, and clients wealthy enough to afford to hire a private detective often live sheltered, disaffected lives, shut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by spoiled families and friends they cannot trust who only value them for their money. Often Marlowe seems to pity them; more often he holds them in contempt. From The Long Goodbye:
    Terry Lennox: They say the rich can always protect themselves, and that in their world it is always summer. I've lived with them, and they are bored and lonely people.
  • In Emma, although the eponymous heroine professes herself quite satisfied with her life as the richest young lady in the small town of Highbury, it's clear that she suffers from this. She can't travel because of her nervous father, and her charitable interests are not enough to keep her fully occupied—so she turns to matchmaking and mentoring a less-clever girl.
  • Wise Child: A week after running off from her adoptive mother Juniper, Wise Child finds that this is her problem with living in her birth mother Maeve's house. She has nothing to actually do when servants perform all the work, is left bored when not reading or riding her pony, and misses spending time with Juniper, especially because Maeve remains cold and unaffectionate towards her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jed Clampett of The Beverly Hillbillies. He has millions due to selling his land to an oil company but is many times shown being bored as he would rather work than be idle rich. He enjoys doing work like mending, repairing, or gardening, but of course, Mr Drysdale won't let him work a job because it's embarrassing to him. There's also no place for him to do much hunting or fishing in Beverly Hills.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In the episode "A Nice Place to Visit", a small-time crook is killed and ends up in the afterlife where he gets whatever he wants. It soon gets incredibly dull, and the crook asks why he wasn't sent to "the other place" (i.e., hell). It turns out that this actually is "the other place", and getting what he wants all the time is his punishment.
  • An episode of CSI: Miami has rich people pay to hunt humans.
  • In the ALF episode "Stairway to Heaven", ALF sees an alternate reality that if he never met the Tanners, he would have never tightened their budget with his huge appetite, the damages he causes, and excessive spending. The Tanners became a very bored, rich family who resorted to telling weak jokes, randomly breaking stuff and asking their maid to belch for entertainment, to ALF's disgust.
  • Blake's 7: Vila (the Dirty Coward and master thief of the group) often reminisces about settling down on a planet whenever it looks like they're going to make a load of credits from their plan of the week (which they never do). The others always point out that he'd quickly become bored and be looking for something to steal. He admits this himself in "City at the Edge of the World" when a beautiful woman asks Vila to settle down on a newly discovered planet with her.
  • Outer Banks: Sarah Cameron decides to join in on the adventure because she is "16 and already knows what the rest of her life looks like." She also wants to "experience life outside of the bubble wrap."
  • The backstory to The Player is that the ultrawealthy became bored with the usual games of chance because the stakes aren't high enough to meaningfully affect their fortunes. As a result, they created the Game, which involved them making extravagant bets on the outcomes of violent events. This led to the Gamblers starting crime sprees and proxy wars to gain an edge over the competition, accidentally starting the First World War in the process. Once that ended, a strict set of rules was set in place with a Pit Boss now selecting "interesting" crimes and sending a Player out to try and stop it with the Gamblers betting to see if the Player will succeed, fail, or die.
  • Westworld: The Man in Black states that in the real world, humanity has every need catered for except purpose — hence the popularity of Westworld, where people can add some thrills to their lives.
  • A recurring element of Philip's character in The Crown (2016) is the dissatisfaction he feels as a royal consort. Having given up his career but given no official role, he takes to partying with his friends. He decides to become Britain's fastest-qualified pilot simply because he has time to spare.
  • Mimpi Metropolitan: Alexi's stated reason for working in the entertainment industry despite having more money than what his contracts could ever give is because he has nothing entertaining to do otherwise.
  • Squid Game:
    • The eponymous guests of the episode "VIPs" are basically a bunch of ridiculously wealthy Psychopathic Manchildren with more money and power than they (or any human for that matter) know what to do with and get entertainment out of watching the desperate and destitute kill themselves and each other in warped recreations of children's games for a big cash prize.
    • In the first season finale episode, the host and creator of the titular Deadly Games reveals that he created them to bring some variety into his monotonous life as a rich man with more money than he could ever conceivably spend in a lifetime, even stating that both the ultra-rich and the ultra-poor suffer from a lack of joy in their lives.

  • The video for Michael Jackson's song "Remember the Time" kicks off with the Queen telling Pharoah Ramses II that she's bored and wants to be entertained. The Pharaoh calls for people to come and try to alleviate his Queen's boredom, leading to a short montage of failed performers before Jackson appears as a sorceror that uses his singing and dancing (and flirtation) to keep the Queen's attention.
  • In the video for Poets of the Fall's "Daze," Orcus on His Throne figure Hamartia is afflicted by boredom, as he seems thoroughly contemptuous of the decadent Masquerade Ball he's presiding over, only regaining interest at the prospect of wreaking vengeance on an absconder from the ball.
  • "Super Rich Kids" by Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt deals with a group of Idle Rich kids drinking their parent's expensive wine, driving and crashing their cars, doing excessive amounts of drugs and contemplating suicide.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Mysterium, Jessalyn Smith, one of the playable characters, suffered from Rich Boredom before discovering her cartomancy abilities and becoming a medium.

  • In The Musical of Candide, in the song "Bon Voyage", the Governor sings about this.
    I'm so rich that my life is an utter bore:
    There is just not a thing that I need.
    My desires are as dry as an apple core,
    And my only emotion is greed.
    Which is why, though I've nothing to spend it for,
    I have swindled this gold from Candidi-di-di-di-dide,
    Poor Candide!
  • In Company, Joanne's song, The Ladies Who Lunch, is a scathing description of the empty and ultimately meaningless lives of rich, middle-aged women, herself included.

    Video Games 
  • Dr. Stewart of F-Zero fame. A highly-esteemed surgeon who seems content being a Blood Sport contestant over actually practicing surgery (for money. He is said to still save lives out of duty). This trope also appears to be the reason F-Zero exists to begin with (its original purpose was to entertain the elite class).
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: Flavio, self-proclaimed "Trader extraordinaire, millionaire sailor of the seven seas" sets out on a voyage with Mario just for the thrills, as he's grown bored of hanging out in the tavern staring at his jewel.
  • Sir Raleigh in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus was a rich aristocrat, but grew bored with his money. Then he tried piracy and found it to his liking.
  • The Team Fortress 2 comics play with this trope twice:
    • Death of a Salesbot takes place about a year after the Mann vs Machine update, which revolves around the mercs fighting hordes of killer robots powered by cash. The mercs have killed so many robots and made so much money they don't know what to do with it, and use it for such things as making a money sandwich or fueling the fireplace. And because they hardly need to work for a living, they are bored because they have nothing to do to pass the time.
    • In Ring of Fired, a few months after Gray Mann successfully took over Mann Co. and fired the mercs, one of them has become the new CEO of Frontier Engineering and led its most profitable quarter in the company's history. Who is it? The Pyro, who is bored out of their mind and utterly unsatisfied with their new lifestyle. It takes Miss Pauling and Soldier starting a fire in the next-door building to snap Pyro out of their tedium. To emphasize this, before the fire Pyro sees everything in a drab grayscale. After the fire? They start seeing rainbows.


    Web Original 
  • The indie short drama Kingdom Egg has the "terribly bored" queen.

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible: This was the exact reason Señor Senior Sr. gives for becoming a supervillain. He doesn't do it for money, power, or even For the Evulz. He's just ridiculously wealthy, and supervillainy is merely a hobby he uses to kill time and bond with his son. He got the idea from Ron, who pointed out that his house looked like a supervillain lair. He even strictly adheres to Contractual Genre Blindness, as he considers it to be "good form".
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Selling Out", Mr. Krabs sells the Krusty Krab for a lot of loot. It's not long before he runs out of things to do in his retirement and gets a job at the Krusty Krab (now Krabby O'Monday's) washing dishes. After growing disgusted with the way the restaurant is being run, Mr. Krabs goes on a brief rampage before convincing the new owner to sell Krabby O'Monday's back to him.
  • Tony was accused of this in Iron Man: Armored Adventures after having apparently shot up a club. In truth, he was unintentionally framed by Whitney Stane/Madame Masque, who disguised herself as him in order to hunt down Ghost, an assassin who wears an invisibility suit, who was hired to kill Tony.
  • The Batman: The Animated Series incarnations of the Terrible Trio are young millionaire scions who turned to villainy for no reason other than boredom. Given how malicious they were (in one scene assaulting a defenseless old man), Batman proclaimed, "People like this are worse than the Joker. At least he has madness as an excuse."
  • It's explained a lot of super-villains in The Venture Bros. are idle rich who chose to go into villainy out of boredom. One reason the authorities tolerate the Guild of Calamitous Intent is that it's safer to have these people in an evil organization with rules and laws than risk letting a bunch of pissed-off rich people with access to superweapons do whatever they feel like.
  • In King of the Hill when Mihn and Kahn finally manage to join the prestigious Nine Rivers Country Club, this ends up being the case. Mihn is openly bored during a discussion of the values of pairing different cheeses and wines while Kahn only feigns interest (and comprehension) to impress Ted Wassonasong.


Video Example(s):


SpongeBob SquarePants

Mr. Krabs' early retirement with loads of money eventually leaves him bored.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / RichBoredom

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