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Secretly Wealthy

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"Is it quitting time already?"

"There's something you don't know about me... I'm rich."
Hodgins, Bones, "Aliens in a Spaceship"

In fiction, it's apparently very hard for the wealthy to avoid being either a Rich Bitch or Spoiled Sweet, both are scorned by the average man. Rich people can't go out an enjoy a regular, laid back evening on the town like the common people. People are either resentful or they try to suck up (moochers and Gold Digger). As a result , some savvy rich, elite characters hide their wealth. For some, they've even been separated from the family, and are wealthy in name only. Expect these characters to be kind, caring and generally the opposite of a Rich Bitch, so that the reveal of their wealth is more shocking.

In Real Life, there are several advantages to attempting this. Large wealth disparity tends to create serious rifts in casual social interaction; friends of a lower-income class may secretly resent you, or expect large monetary gifts and favors. On the other side of the coin, it is also hard to know who likes you for yourself, and who only likes you for your money (this is a reason many rich people only cavort amongst their own class). In addition, those who are known to be wealthy are frequent targets for lawsuits, and family members may even be targeted for kidnapping by those looking for a ransom. Hiding your wealth can prevent many problems like these.

Compare King Incognito (where the secret might be some other type of power besides wealth), Slumming It (where this is done for fun) and Affluent Ascetic (where a person who's known to be rich chooses to live modestly or even spartanly). See also Non-Idle Rich, for when the wealthy person works a "regular" job for fulfillment and/or helping others. Contrast Mock Millionaire.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Blattodea: Yamato is a homeless man who takes care of Chiyuri, teaching her about hard work and freedom. Unbeknownst to her, he's actually the in-universe Leiji Matsumoto who works as a hitman for the Organization of bug-themed assassins. While he's explaining he had been training her under their orders the whole time after she thought she was free, she's more shocked to learn he had a job after all.
  • Fairy Tail has Lucy, who ran away from home to get away from her overbearing father, whose thoughts were only about profit.
  • One Piece: When first introduced, Miss Wednesday of Baroque Works appears to be a simple bounty hunter, out to kill Laboon for his meat. During the events at Whisky Peak though, it's revealed she's actually Princess Nefertari Vivi, the wealthy heir to the throne of Alabasta.
  • Brief in Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, specifically, he's the heir to the Rock Foundation. And He Cleans Up Nicely too.
  • The female protagonist of Onidere is from a wealthy family but nobody at her high school knew about that until her younger sister came for a visit.
  • Sayako in Mahoraba lives in near poverty with her daughter. She makes plastic flowers and such for money and often needs help from Ryushi to complete whatever junk she and her daughter are making to survive. Their furniture and bedding are the cardboard boxes for shipping the flowers. Turns out she ran away from home to marry someone her father disapproved of. She comes from an extraordinarily wealthy family and she and her father appear to make up their differences though she continues to live with her daughter in poverty.
  • Konoka Konoe in Negima! Magister Negi Magi is very rich, with only the fabulously wealthy Ayaka even coming close. Not that you'd ever know this by looking at her. Even her roommate was unaware until she actually visited Konoka's Big Fancy House. Even after the reveal, she never makes a big deal out of it, the only real mention of her wealth was when Jack Rakan nonchalantly billed her father 5,000,000 drachmae for helping her friends.
    • Very late in the manga, it's revealed that Chizuru is also extremely wealthy, but like Konoka, she never makes mention of it or flaunts her wealth.
    • Fate Averruncus might be an example also. He's taken in and given shelter to 62 girls who are all war orphans and sent them all (minus his minstra) to good private schools.
  • In the last episode of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!, Kumin mentions that Dekomori drove them. Cue them panning to a Mercedes-looking car with a stern-looking MIB next to it.
  • Beelzebub: Himekawa is a variation: everyone knows he's rich, being the heir to a powerful family empire and all, just not to what extent. He's also not a Rich Bitch, considering he uses his cash to try and be the top delinquent at Ishiyama High and does know how to fight, rather than stick with his friend and try to rule the country.
  • Downplayed with Ed in Fullmetal Alchemist: while he's known to be a state alchemist in-universe (and therefore has access to rather large annual research grants from the government), he never really calls attention to it, and it's not until he pays Sheska for her translation work that it sinks in for her and Maria Ross just how much money he has to throw around. While we don't see the actual amount he pays her, it's enough to absolutely stun them both.
    Sheska: WHAAA?! Did he miss a decimal point somewhere?!
  • Kotobuki Tsumugi from K-On! is extremely sensitive about the fact that her family is filthy rich. She is unable to hide that fact completely, but she does her best to not draw attention to this. At one point in the manga, the other girls thank her for all she's done for them with her wealth note . She actually gets upset by this, wondering how they figured out she's rich (Mio wonders how she believed they hadn't figured it out).
  • Azumanga Daioh: It's more of an open secret, but Chiyo Mihama, along with being smart enough to enter high school at age 10, is also from an incredibly wealthy family. All of her friends are shocked to discover that her family owns an opulent mansion and a vacation home by the beach. To Chiyo, her wealth is unimportant, and she simply wants to be treated the same way her peers are. She takes a part-time job in the summer since that's just what high-schoolers do; the employer assumes she must be poor and desperate enough to forge a high school ID, which couldn't be further from the truth.
  • In Castle Town Dandelion, Kanade's savings account is on par with the national budget.note  Her sister Akane doesn't even know that until Kanade tells her.
  • James from Pokémon: The Series is revealed to come from a wealthy family with several mansions and butlers at his disposal. James, however, is not proud of himself for this at all as his parents are manipulative jerks, who are more concerned about having their son inherit their fortune and continuing the family line, even if it means having him marry an even more sadistic and crazy wife-to-be.
  • Shimoneta: In the manga's twelfth chapter, Tanukichi and the others are surprised when they find out Ayame is the adoptive daughter of the Kiyomonsou Family, which owns a luxurious onsen hotel.
  • Pokémon Adventures: Misty is rich but you wouldn't know this by looking at her. Red is surprised by her Big Fancy House.
  • Tatsuya Tachibana from Cardfight!! Vanguard (V Series). He first appeared as an ordinary but incredibly shy student from the local high school. However, after the timeskip, his parents died and he inherited a sizeable fortune, and used it to fund Ryuzu Myoujin's research and manipulate him. The other characters are shocked at how rich he actually is, as they've known him for a few years by that point but never realised he was well off.
  • Dragon Ball: In the first arc of the series, Bulma never mentions her family background nor that they own the world-famous Capsule Corporation. It's only during the middle of the third arc that we get to see Bulma's family and home. As the years went by, Capsule Corp. and the Briefs would be firmly established as the richest company and family on Earth.
  • Jaco the Galactic Patrolman: Similarly to her younger sister Bulma, Tights doesn't mention her family background or connection to Capsule Corp. until her family visit her at the end of the story.

    Comic Books 
  • During the Bronze Age of Teen Titans, one would never guess that Changeling (Beast Boy) was heir to his adoptive father's estate - and Steve Dayton made Bruce Wayne look middle-class by comparison!
  • In issue #78 of Nightwing, Barbara Gordon reveals that Alfred Pennyworth was a billionaire after getting stock from Waynetech Industries after becoming Bruce's legal guardian.

    Fan Works 
  • In American Loaded Dragon: Jake Long, Jonathan Long (who is filthy stinkin' rich) could only marry Susan on the condition that he keep any potential children a secret from the media, so as to not draw any attention that could potentially expose their magical heritage. As a result, no one knows that Jake Long comes from one of the wealthiest families in the country, maybe even the world.
  • Of all ponies, Pinkie Pie is revealed to be this in Slice Of Life: Her father discovered high-quality rock molasses on his farm and became a millionaire from it, making Pinkie one of his heirs. Thanks to this, she was able to buy shares in Sugarcube Corner and keep it running (and able to live in the cupcake). To be fair though, it was never meant to be a secret. She just forgot to mention it. Also, consider she lives with the Cakes, works with them, and frequently foalsits their children. All because she's passionate about sweets.
  • Bart Simpson: Attorney at Law: Nelson made a fortune from an internet business but keeps a low profile to preserve his street cred.
  • In Ben 10: Omniharem 10, Ben reveals that when he was 10 years old, he used Grey Matter to file a highly successful, multi-million dollar cease-and-desist lawsuit against the creators of Super Alien Hero Buddy Adventures, which illegally used the likenesses of Heatblast, Four Arms, and Wildmutt. Ben also adds that he regularly uses Grey Matter to handle and increase his fortune. Ben doesn't want anyone to know this because he already has enough problems being famous, if everyone knew he was also rich, he'd get no peace.
  • How the Light Gets In: Thea as it turns out, though Laurel, Dean, and Oliver knew. When Sara demands to know why Thea didn't reveal this before she and Sam had to deal with crappy flight conditions, Thea replies You Didn't Ask.
  • In Lady In White, due to investments made by his ancestor, Kristoff is so wealthy he can afford an Omega watch (which Anna notes costs as much as a full session at a major university), yet he lives in a run-down shack near the woods.
  • Thousand Shinji: Investing his combat pay wisely (precognition certainly helped to make wise investments) Shinji became very rich in a short period of time. And no one knew how much money he had.
    Shinji's net worth had tripled in the past four days, and he was already covertly moving to expand that wealth further still. Money attracted more money, and within another two to three months his income from his investments would start exceeding his income from his NERV salary, to say nothing of his net worth. Within a year he could easily become one of the richest individuals in Japan.
    And no one would know just how much money he had. Offshore accounts were a wonderful thing.
  • In the Big Hero 6 fan comic Spell of the Siren, it is revealed GoGo is the daughter of Ryota Go, a crazy rich politician that's running for mayor of San Fransokyo. She never told anyone except Honey Lemon because her father is about as warm and friendly as an iceberg and they have been estranged ever since she moved out.
  • In Friendship----ISN'T magic?, Pacifica Northwest reveals to a shocked Apple Bloom that the latter's extended family is actually wealthier than Diamond Tiara's and that her grandmother essentially owns Ponyville, as the Apple's have a complete monopoly on Equestria's apple industry on top of other successful dealings. Though it's downplayed as while it's not common knowledge, the only one it's a secret from is Applejack. As revealed by Granny Smith, Applejack psychologically refuses to accept that her family isn't one step away from the poorhouse and that if she found out about all of the other business dealings the family underwent, she'd insist on taking that burden on her shoulders as well, and as much as Granny praises Applejack as a farmer, the girl doesn't have a good head for finance.
  • Following Dinky being Driven to Suicide by Diamond Tiara's constant bullying in Too Far, The Apple Family decides to cut all ties with the Barnyard Bargains in order to preserve their own reputation as Diamond notices that her father was now reeling from everything that was happening to him because of his daughters' actions. Among the issues caused is that Diamond finds out that the "Rube family" she had constantly ragged against were responsible for at least seven percent of all profits the Rich Family makes and that the Apples actually owns large swathes of land and have connections with other Earth Pony farmers throughout Equestria that were formed through genuine companionship instead of just driving them out of business. Coupled with the fact that one of the Apples: the older sister of one of Diamonds' classmates is herself a National Hero of Equestria, the Rich Family is essentially screwed.
  • The Fairy Tail High School AU fic, The Truth About Lucy, itself based on the second OVA, has Lucy's classmates finding out that not only is she from a wealthy family, but that she is the daughter of a large transportation conglomerate and a rather famous figure in high society. She transfered to Fairy Academy because she was tired of having classmates that only cared about her status or wealth, and desired to be "just Lucy" up to the point of requesting the school faculty to withhold addressing her by her last name.
  • Discord's New Business: Pinkie Pie has invested her money well, that's why she can afford to throw welcome parties for free. It's also hinted it's not meant to be a secret, she just doesn't think it's important.

    Films — Animated 
  • Fred in Big Hero 6 turns out to come from a wealthy family with a mansion, butler, and private helicopter. He uses his money to fund the team's armor upgrades. Before that, he was just seen as a local nerd with a huge fascination for Kaiju with absolutely no hints of his rich side; one of the other cast members even said that she thought he lived under a bridge somewhere.
  • Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats: During the "Alley Scouts" scam at the start of the film, Benny meets an old bag lady and shoves her out of the way of some falling junk, saving her life. Soon after he leaves the scene, a limousine drives up, revealing the "bag lady" to be a disguised Gertrude Vandergelt, wealthy heir to the Vandergelt diamond mines.
  • In Turning Red, while Tyler doesn't actively hide his family's wealth, the extent of it is not apparent until he casually agrees to pay Mei $200 to appear at his party which is surprising to her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Accountant (2016). Despite working as an accountant for vastly-wealthy organised crime groups, the title character lives with frugality in a house surrounded by cameras and a Gatling gun nest. However, save for the high security, the house is just for appearance's sake; it has no furniture save a bed, a chair, and a table in the kitchen. The kitchen drawers only contain a single knife, fork, and spoon. His Airstream trailer is where his heart is; a luxury bed in a soundproofed room, drawers full of high-value goods such as gold bullion, works of art (a Jackson Pollock most notably) and the #1 issue of Action Comics (which is worth millions). Oh, and a drawer full of paper currency in high denominations; $50,000 in American currency alone, along with a stash of euros. He gives most of his money to a treatment clinic for autistic children, the same condition that he has.
  • At the end of "Crocodile" Dundee 2, Mick reveals to Susan that he actually owns a huge amount of land which includes its own gold mine. He just works as a crocodile hunter and bush guide who lives in a shack that lacks electricity or running water because that's what he likes.
  • Godfrey in My Man Godfrey. He started out rich, goes on to be a tramp, makes the money back, and uses it to help the other tramps.
  • Hans in Freaks. Even when we first meet him, it's clear that he's reasonably affluent, but when Cleo finds out exactly how wealthy he is, she decides to marry him. This goes poorly for everyone involved.
  • Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid. This guy starts out as a handyman, but we find out later that he owns oil wells and some nice property.
  • Matt Hooper from Jaws. Looks like an everyday working joe, but is actually the son of a rich New England family.
  • In the Mexican film La Habitacion Azul, it is revealed that Nicolas, who's the owner of a small shop, after his death left a sizable inheritance to his wife, Andrea, this is why the cop of the movie suspects Andrea of conspiring with her lover to murder both Nicolas and her lover's wife, although it is later revealed that both Andrea and her lover were truly ignorant of all the money Nicolas had in his name.
  • In Sabrina, the title character falls in love with the son of the rich family her father works for. After various other obstacles and confusions are sorted out, there remains the fact that he's rich and she's the daughter of an employee — at which point her father admits that he's learned quite a bit about good investments over the years he's worked for the family, and is now worth several million himself; he hasn't needed to work in decades.
  • Jonas, of Squatters, comes from wealth, but ran away from home. His wealth comes back to his advantage by the end of the film.
  • Flodder 3: Ma Flodder almost marries a hobo that she fell in love with. It turns out that he's actually the head of an incredibly wealthy family and he wanted to get away from his demanding heirs for once.
  • In Vincent Wants to Sea, the main characters are under the impression they have about eleven euros between them after running away from a mental institution together. Then one of the group reveals that he has about 17,000 euros (about 20,000 USD) from his orphan's pension.
  • The titular character from Forrest Gump becomes very wealthy from his shrimping business but continues to live a modest lifestyle in spite of it. When he tells his story to some strangers at a bus stop, no one believes he's wealthy until he shows them a picture of himself (actually a picture of Lt. Dan, but he was in the picture as well) on the cover of Fortune magazine.
  • The Prestige: Angiers works as a humble magician's assistant, but secretly comes from an aristocratic family. Notably, the secret isn't by his choice: The family forced him to use an alias because they didn't want to be associated with something as low-class as a magician. When he abandons his magician persona he resumes his noble title and property.
  • We're in the Money: C. Richard Courtney puts on a chauffeur suit and goes by "Carter" when he's romancing Ginger. It's a thing he does to avoid breach-of-promise suits. She doesn't know that he's rich and he doesn't know that she is a process server who is trying to serve a breach-of-promise subpoena on one C. Richard Courtney.
  • In Coming to America, Prince Akeem Joffer of Zamunda and his aide Semmi pretend to be poor exchange students in New York because Akeem wants to find a woman who will marry him for himself instead of for his money.
  • The Family That Preys has Alice Evans, who is revealed to be a multi-millionaire towards the end of the movie, despite still living in the same poor neighborhood and running the same diner as she always has. This contrasts her with her younger daughter, Andrea, who, after despised the old neighborhood and did everything she could, including starting an affair with her wealthy boss to make sure she'd never be poor again. When Alice's older daughter, Pam, who thought Alice and the diner were struggling, asks why she never told anyone, she simply answers that she never asked.
  • Windtalkers: Charlie dresses and behaves fairly modestly, but Ben says that his family owns one of the biggest flocks of sheep in the Four Corners.

  • Absolutely Truly: In the end, it's discovered that Belinda Winchester invested the money she made as a school lunch lady quite well, and now has lots of money. She helps the Lovejoy family by putting some of her wealth towards letting them keep the family bookstore.
  • The protagonist of Espedair Street by Iain Banks is a former member and principal songwriter for a highly successful rock band in the '70s and '80s. When we meet him, he lives as a lonely recluse in a Scottish castle (which he owns) writing advertising jingles to stave off the boredom. His only real friend is a violently passionate socialist with whom he spends regular drinking time, and who is unaware of his fame and fortune, having led him to believe that he is the castle's caretaker instead of its owner.
  • The key to Crazy Rich Asians is Rachel rocked to discover her boyfriend Nick isn't just from a wealthy family. Rather, his family "has more money than God" but often downplays how amazingly rich they are. Nick himself explains he wanted to make friends in America without them knowing he was so well-off and actually enjoys how even rich people have no idea he's "the one percent of the one percent."
  • The Man in the Brown Suit: Anne's boyfriend Harry isn't really poor farmer's son Harry Lucas, he's John Harold Eardsley, heir to a fortune. He exchanged ID tags with the real Harry Lucas back in the war right before Lucas was killed, and he kept the secret from Anne because he wanted her to like him for himself.
  • Discworld series by Terry Pratchett:
    • In The Truth, William DeWorde has had a falling out with his family and lives on around $50 a month, although since Discworld is a pastiche of Middle Ages/Renaissance fantasy, 50 Ankh-Morpork dollars ($AM) a month is a fair amount of money. For comparison's sake, members of the Watch, the police force, make 30 dollars a month and are considered reasonably well paid. William gets his income from various rich and powerful individuals outside Ankh-Morpork who pay him for writing to them about the general goings-on of the city. He figures out that the rich do not really want to see a member of their class live in poverty so they support him under this pretense. Only later does he realize how powerful what he does can be.
    • Susan Sto Helit is technically a Duchess but has no patience for the job, and instead takes jobs like governess and school teacher. Her employers, a wealthy couple in their own right, were rather shocked to discover that one of their servants was posher than them.
    • A minor Running Gag in Discworld is that the really rich can afford to act poor. Those who are only pretty rich will buy fancy clothes and jewelry and homes to try to make themselves seem much richer, but those who are supremely wealthy don't need to. Why buy new furniture when the stuff your grandparents bought was so good that it has lasted all these years? Why dress nicely when you don't need to work so you can devote all your time to messy hobbies like raising swamp dragons? And ironically, this allows them to stay rich. Sybil Ramkin is the best example, but Lady Margolotta and the Dowager Duchess of Quirm also qualify. And Sybil's husband Sam Vimes was born poor but is now the richest man in the city. So naturally, he prefers dented armor (shows he's doing his job as a cop; obviously, someone had to have dented it while 'objecting' to their arrest) and cheap boots (he can feel the cobblestones under his feet as he walks 'the beat') to the finery his station allows. Except cigars. He likes the good cigars he can afford now that he's loaded.
    • On an organizational level, the impoverished-seeming Beggars' Guild is actually by far the wealthiest guild in Ankh-Morpork, simply because it's existed for centuries and never pays for anything its members can beg or scrounge. Even their Guild's coat-of-arms was begged off somebody else.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Rachel Elizabeth Dare is pretty much an enigma, but one time she walks up to a random chauffeur, says a few things, and suddenly he ditches his customer and takes the Olympians where they want to go. Turns out she's this trope.
    • From the sequel series, The Heroes of Olympus, we have Piper and Frank. Piper's classmates at her old school never caught on that her dad is a famous Hollywood movie star, while Frank's initial awkwardness and insecurity belie his family's old money.
  • In Fear Nothing and Seize The Night by Dean Koontz, Christopher Snow's best friend Bobby is this.
  • It's known by the magical folk in the world of Harry Potter that the titular character is quite wealthy. However, his Muggle relatives with whom he technically lives don't know this and he makes a point to not tell them. Dumbledore "accidentally" lets it slip in the sixth book when he gives them a "Reason You Suck" Speech about their treatment of Harry. Within the wizarding world, the Potter family is known to be wealthy, but Harry tries to avoid bringing any attention to it, largely because he doesn't want to make his best friend Ron feel bad about his own family's conspicuous lack of wealth.
  • This genre convention was mocked in The Grapes of Wrath. Two Okies discuss a Broadway play about a rich man and a rich woman who pretend to be poor in order to find true love. The entire premise confuses the heck out of the second Okie, who doesn't understand why a rich person would screw out with such a ridiculous Zany Scheme. There's a depression going on, and the Okies are standing in line hoping to get work so they don't starve to death. The second Okie explains, very annoyed, that if he were rich he'd just sit in his penthouse eating steaks all day and he's incredulous that an actual rich person would do anything different.
  • In the Soviet/Russian novel The Little Golden Calf Alexander Koreiko is hiding his millions because he can't use his money in the Soviet Union and so he lives like a poor man (almost bordering on poverty), working on extremely low pay job, and basically all his possessions are two iron kettlebells to keep himself in good health — all to live for the day Soviet regime falls. The book is set in the 1920s...
  • Toyed with in Last Sacrifice. Jill Mastrano was left heiress to a fortune by her father Eric Dragomir. She will inherit this when she reaches adulthood. Her mother Emily, however, kept this a secret from her and raised her as a middle-class child. So Jill was secretly wealthy but was unaware of the secret, herself.
  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin meets Cira and almost immediately knows that she's richer than she seems. His family has worked as spies for some generations, and keep up the traditions, so he knows what to look for.
  • The Arthur Hailey novel Hotel has what looks to be a minor subplot of Albert Wells, an elderly guest, having health issues. Christine, secretary to the hotel's owner, looks after him, concerned about his worn-down clothing and has a manager checking on his money to be told he's ok. Wells is nursed to health and upset when Christine tells him the hotel is going to be sold to Curtis O'Keefe who will turn the classic hotel into just another one of his chain. Over dinner, Wells tells Christine and boyfriend/manager Peter a tale of how he seemed to be ripped off in a gold mine by his partner only for his partner to reveal he had actually made sure he kept his fortune. Wells thus informs the dumbfounded pair that he's actually one of the richest men in the country who owns several properties...and just bought this very hotel. The staff is naturally thrown by this with the accountant moaning over actually calling about Wells' credit. Chuckling, Wells' lawyer says that because the man likes a low-key appearance, his bank is long used to people calling unaware of how rich Wells is.
  • Played with in the Olivia Goldsmith novel Marrying Mom. A trio of adult children tries to find a boyfriend for their widowed mother Phyllis so she'll stop interfering in their lives. They seem to find a suitor in Monty, a man known for his rich life who promises Phyllis some terrific times and whisks her to the islands. The kids then discover the guy lost all his money and are thus convinced he's a con artist about to bilk her. They race to stop the wedding only to learn Monty did lose his cash but ended up becoming richer than ever. As Phyllis explains, his first bankruptcy made him realize "who his friends were and who they weren't" as his wife of the time dumped him without a second thought as soon as he was poor. So Monty decided to keep his new wealth quiet to find a woman who loved him for himself and now Phyllis can enjoy her senior years married in wealth.
  • Ender's Game: Past the first book, Ender has sufficient money to buy entire planets if he felt like it, but he lives very simply and never uses more than he needs. Several characters assume their computer has malfunctioned when they see exactly how much money Ender has, and are amazed that anyone could have that much cash.
  • Gentleman Bastard: In the first book, despite possessing a fortune, the gang poses as an only moderately successful group of cat burglars. This is partly out of necessity (revealing that they were stealing from the nobility would be a death sentence due to the secret peace), and partly because they don't really have anything to buy with it — they just enjoy planning and executing heists.
  • The Belgariad:
    • Belgarath the Sorcerer offhandedly mentions that he has a small fortune in gold ingots from having gone undercover as a prospector once, several centuries before the time of the books. It's purely sentimental to him since his magic and his status as a Living Legend see to all his needs, but Silk is scandalized by the thought of all that gold sitting there unused.
    • Belgarath's daughter Polgara has been quietly accumulating the rents due to her from her title as Duchess of Erat (A region that includes a sizeable portion of the Kingdom of Sendaria) for nearly two thousand years, and almost never spends any of it, especially since she spent thirteen centuries pretending to be the maiden aunt of a long succession of heirs to the Rivan Throne hidden as ordinary farmers and tradesmen.
  • Night Watch (Series): The titular organization turns out to be this trope in a later book. In fact, in book 2 the protagonist laments not being able to afford to fly business class, while the Dark Ones are permitted to use magic for personal enrichment. The Light Ones are far too moral for that. But later on, he learns that his company ATM card doesn't appear to have a limit. When he asks his boss about it, the guy looks at him and says that they can predict the future pretty accurately. How hard would it be for them to play the stock market or currency exchange rates? It's just not in their nature to be greedy, but yes, the organization has a fairly large budget. The boss is even considering buying a company jet and offers the protagonist to buy a Bentley. The protagonist instead decides to buy an SUV for family trips. His boss just shrugs.
  • The Sunne in Splendour: Anne Neville, the Lancastrian Princess Dowager and great heiress in her own right, gets wind that her brother-in-law the Duke of Clarence plans to make her disappear and take her fortune for himself. With the help of her ladies maid, Veronique, they hide out in a Lancastrian inn and pretend to be runaway servants of the Duke of Clarence whom he tried to seduce. The denizens of the inn realize that Anne is no ordinary servant but they are shocked when The Duke of Gloucester rides in on a white horse to rescue her and her true identity is revealed.
  • Chocoholic Mysteries: The last chapter of Moose Motive reveals this to be the case for Wildflower Hill, born Celestia Fox, who prefers to live simply over showing off her wealth. She does, however, still work with the philanthropic Fox Foundation, which helps support the law firm Joe works for, and which supports those who couldn't otherwise afford it. She's also willing to send her granddaughter to college, which Sissy had been reluctant to do since she thought they couldn't afford it.
  • In David Drake's Starliner, Richard Wade sponges off a group of passengers, and says that he always "forgets" to carry enough cash to pay for drinks and such. His tall tales about adventures and riches are so entertaining that they're worth the price. But it turns out he might not be The Münchausen. There's evidence that at least some of Wade's accounts are true, and at the denoument, he arranges for his spongees to spend several days in the best suites of their destination planet's best hotel.
  • The parody of William Johnson Cory's "Heraclitus" by Brian Fore:
    They told me Heraclitus, they told me you were dead.
    I never knew your proper name was Heraclitus, Fred.
    You made out you were working class, you talked with adenoids,
    And so it was a shock to learn you were a name at Lloyd's.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hodgins from Bones, partly because he's a conspiracy theorist who thinks that old money, like his family, totally controls the world. Considering how influential his family is as major supporters of the Jeffersonian Institute, he probably also hides his connections so he will be judged on his own merits. He actually lives in a mansion, but since nobody from work ever visits him at home, nobody realizes that he has lots of money. This is gradually averted over the course of the first two seasons as all the other major cast members find out about his wealth. Finally becomes no longer the case after serial killer Pelant forced him into a Sadistic Choice: shut down a computer server to keep Pelant from draining his accounts, or keep the server running in order to stop the military drone that would blow up a school in the Middle East. Hodgins doesn't hesitate to sacrifice his wealth to save the innocent lives.He does end up somewhat rich again later, but it's known then. Also, his wife manages to locate his money, but he decides he doesn't want to ruin their great life together with wealth and asks her to donate it all.
  • Everyone is shocked when Dr. Carter from ER is revealed to be from a wealthy family.
  • In The O.C., Summer meets and is courted by "Che" (played by Chris Pratt), a hippy student who claims to have "grown up on a reservation" and is generally very mellow and seemingly down-to-earth. After his final failed attempt to win Summer's heart, his chauffeur turns up to escort "Master Winchester" home.
  • Casey Shraeger, the star of The Unusuals. She serves as a police detective and this fact becomes quite useful when someone attempts to bribe her. It is also the reason she is in homicide as the captain doesn't totally trust his people and knows that she would be incorruptible because of this.
  • Forever: Jo believes Henry is doing the academic version of this after "Social Engineering." When a hacker nearly exposes Henry's faked credentials, another member of the group whose life Henry has saved creates a new, more detailed background for him as thanks, with the result that Jo believes that Henry, far from studying at a medical school in Guam, was actually first in his class at Oxford. Henry, who hadn't known about the new records, improvises that Guam was a refresher course and he uses that degree on his paperwork to avoid appearing pretentious.
  • Nick Knight from Forever Knight turned out to be this; in a subversion of Vampires Are Rich, the Vampire world discouraged it because it led to unfortunate questions that threatened the Masquerade if one's current role didn't match the funds they had. He was slowly and secretly giving it away.
  • For the first four episodes of Harlen Corben's Shelter, Ema comes off as a tough gal with black hair, biker clothing, tattoos and rumors she lives in a trailer park with a drug-dealing family. Mickey and Spoon follow a massive mansion owned by movie star Angelica Wyatt, who's Ema's mom. Ema reveals she was the one who started the rumor on her "rough" home life because she was afraid people would only want to be friends with her because of her wealth. Her fears are justified by confessing her secret to hopeful new friend Whitney...who turns around to tell her brother so he can blab it all over school.
    Spoon: (seeing painting on wall) Wow that's my favorite Picasso. I saw the real one at the Met in New York.
    Ema: No, you saw that one on loan.
  • In Boy Meets World Shawn is shocked to discover that Mr. Turner comes from big money and became a high school teacher after turning his back on his parents' wealth.
  • Hal from Malcolm in the Middle comes from a very wealthy family, but is estranged because his father was so eccentric and childish that Hal felt he was never a very good parent, while the rest of the family strongly disapproves of Hal's wife. Hal and his family don't seem to receive any financial support from the family, despite their frequent money troubles. It is later revealed when Hal's father dies that his father lost it all.
  • Walter White throughout Breaking Bad amasses tens of millions from cooking and distributing the highly addictive crystallized meth "Blue Sky", but because he'll fall under suspicion if he goes on a spending spree and can't report it as taxable income to the IRS (plus his brother Hank works for the DEA) he shoves his cash up a storage unit (later on burying it in barrels underground) while his family still live in the same lower-middle class home in the suburbs next to New Mexico's vast empty deserts. Skyler did try to launder the money per Saul Goodman's advice through a car wash but it made ultimately no difference in the short or long run.
  • In one episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, London Tipton pretended to be poor to date a man who hates rich people. However, when she had enough of the poor lifestyle, she confessed the truth and her boyfriend said he doesn't mind because she turned out to be nicer than he expected from rich people. She was just acting nice but didn't believe when people told him that.
  • The TV adaptation of The Dresden Files. Harry Dresden, as in the book series, lives in a small apartment without much in the way of amenities. However, here he is the sole surviving heir of Justin Morningway, Harry's uncle and an extremely wealthy and powerful wizard in his own right. Justin died after attacking Harry after Harry found out he had killed his father several years earlier. Both out of guilt and contempt, Harry has always refused to claim his inheritance, sticking to his apartment, refusing any money from his uncle's estate, and keeping Morningway's mansion in mothballs.
  • Sid Hammerback on CSI: NY appears to be this at least in part. Jo knows about his success, and it's possible Mac knows, but no one else has given any indication of knowing it thus far. Although as of "Kill Screen", the piano in the morgue might have been a tipoff...
    • He gave away $10 Million after learning he had cancer, but that still left him with another $17 Million.
  • JAG: Bud Roberts is at first shocked upon realizing that his then-fiancée Harriet Sims comes from a wealthy family when visiting her parents in Florida for the first time in "Yesterday's Heroes".
  • Gary in Men Behaving Badly is revealed to have scrimped and saved money over the years, to the point where he currently has a few thousand pounds in his bank account.
  • Raj Koothrappali in The Big Bang Theory. His friends know that his parents in India are well-off (his father is a gynecologist), but a later episode reveals that, in Sheldon's words, "They're not just rich. They're Richie Rich rich."
  • On It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Barbara reveals to Dee and Dennis that their real father isn't Frank but Bruce Mathis, a guy she had a fling with in college. She had decided to hide it as Bruce was busy as an activist and had a run-down lifestyle so Barbara figured it was better to hook up with Frank simply because he was wealthy. At a party, they find Bruce now a multi-millionaire with Barabara annoyed she missed her chance with a better catch. Then she's really dumbstruck when Bruce reveals he was just as wealthy when they were dating, he just never had any desire to flaunt it or relish in his wealth (which, for Barbara, Dee and Dennis, is a completely foreign concept).
  • Oregon from Fresh Meat is a hipster who pretends to be as working-class as her housemates, but actually is financed entirely by her parents, owns a horse, and was raised in a huge house. She's mortified when this becomes public, but it's not all that surprising considering she's incredibly Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense.
  • Ezra from Pretty Little Liars lives in a small apartment and works as a teacher, but his family is actually very wealthy
  • In one episode of Hogan's Heroes, Schultz revealed that he was the owner of the Schotze company, one of the oldest and most successful toy companies in Germany. However, it was also mentioned that his factory was commandeered and retooled as a munitions plant by the war department, which is why he had to re-enlist in the army (though if the war ever ends, he could easily end up becoming a rich toymaker again once he gets the factory back).
  • Dennis Farina's character Joe Fontana on Law & Order. There was even a B-story in which Detective Green notes that Fontana dresses in tailored suits, drives a $100,000 car, and lives in a penthouse condo and wonders how he can afford all that on a cop's salary. Turns out that Fontana's grandfather was the "original Chef Luigi" (a Bland-Name Product version of Chef Boyardee) and Fontana has been living on his share of the family fortune since he was a teenager.
  • On an episode of Law & Order: SVU a young teen is with a "family" of homeless people whose "father" just murdered a rich girl for insulting him. The detectives are shocked when the girls' parents arrive, revealing that she's from a posh Park Avenue complex. Benson and Stabler (who have met countless abused kids) clearly can't believe it when this girl complains that her life in a penthouse and private schools was torture that she wanted to escape. It takes a turn when her mother reveals that her daughter and the victim once went to the same school. Benson and Stabler realize that the girl encouraged her "father" to kill the other teen before she could reveal her secret.
    • The man is outraged when he learns this as at the girl's own trial for second-degree murder, he snaps on how she now sits in an expensive dress and jewels when he knew her as a street urchin. He points out that he may be a killer but at least he's not a hypocrite.
  • Special Agent David Siegel, Neal Caffrey's new handler in Season 5 of White Collar. The moment they meet, Neal pegs him for this, which Siegel confirms when he says he can afford an apartment in a pricey part of New York (albeit not on his FBI salary), and that he has a yacht.
  • On 2 Broke Girls, just as Max is getting close to fellow chef Deke, Caroline discovers the supposed weed-smoking slacker who lives in a garbage bin apartment is actually from a wealthy family. Max is furious at the truth and does her best to break up with Dekes who refuses to listen.
    Max: I could never date someone who has tons of money!
    Caroline: We are massively, monumentally different people.
    • Dekes teaches her a lesson by giving Max a million dollars and Max realizes how the temptation of so much money can affect her dreams of her own cupcake shop. However, she decides Dekes is better off without her and they break up.
  • In Forever (2014), Jo Martinez believes that the secretly-immortal Henry Morgan is doing the academic version of this after "Social Engineering" after a member of a hacker group nearly exposes the faked credentials Henry has established to hide his immortality. After Henry saves the life of another member of the group, she thanks him by creating a new, more detailed background for him; where Henry has claimed that he graduated from the University of Guam, his new records now state that he was actually first in his class at Oxford (Henry claims that Guam was a refresher course and he uses that degree on his paperwork to avoid appearing pretentious).
  • On Jane by Design Billy meets Zoe, a streetwise tough gal in jeans and jackets who talks of a rough life. He is worried about her behavior and follows her one night, finding her entering a huge mansion. Billy races in, assuming Zoe is planning to rob the place and trying to get her out before the cops arrive. He stops when he sees a portrait on the wall of Zoe in a posh riding outfit and realizes this is her house. She explains that she puts on her "street" act because, at her old school, she was either an outcast due to her wealth or people just wanting to be friends with her because she was rich. She thus took advantage of being transferred for a fresh start.
  • Never Have I Ever: Nirmala acts like a typical cheapskate Indian granny, but season 4 reveals that she's a millionaire because she invested in Apple stock in the early 2000s. A shocked Nalini comments that Nirmala has never once chipped in for groceries.
  • An episode of Night Court has the gang trying to help a seemingly middle-class guy get with his true love, due to marry a rich man. At first, they seem together until her mother threatens to cut her off and she dumps her love without a thought. Harry tries to get through by pointing out how much the man loves her but she ignores which point, the guy reveals he's even more wealthy.
    Man: I wanted to see if she loved me for myself or my money.
    Harry: Now you know.
    Man: Yep. Soooo....wanna get married?
    Woman: Really?
    Man: Sure, long as you don't cheat, we'll be okay.
    • They kiss and embrace as the gang walks off in disgust. All except Dan, who cries "what they so beautiful!"
  • This is the premise of reality shows The Secret Millionaire and Undercover Boss; in the former, a millionaire moves into an impoverished community for a week to do volunteer work and find someone to give a large sum of money to as a reward for their good deeds or to help end a string of bad luck; in the latter, a high-ranking member of a company gets themselves hired incognito as a low-ranking member of their own organization to investigate life on the ground floor (the latter might not actually be all that wealthy, but they are always wealthier, and more powerful, than they are letting on).
  • Teen Wolf: The Hale family is revealed to be this in season 4 after the Big Bad steals $117 million from their bank vault. They weren't necessarily hiding it from the heroes; it just never really came up, and Derek and Peter don't make it a habit to talk about their personal lives.
  • Timothy McGee of NCIS temporarily struck it rich after his first novel (published under a pseudonym) became a smash hit. He kept this from his colleagues for a while out of embarrassment, not because he was ashamed of his newfound wealth, but because telling them would entail admitting he'd written the book, whose characters bore an all-too-suspicious (and not always complimentary) resemblance to his fellow agents.
  • In the episode "St. Mark's" of Broad City Abbi's purse is stolen by a "runaway teen" boy. A chase ensues and leads Abbi and Ilana to his home, a large and lavishly decorated townhouse he lives in with his mother. They overhear an argument between him and his mother revealing he's actually a grad school dropout.
  • In Million Yen Women, Shin got five female housemates imposed upon him by someone who invited to come and live with him. As an incentive to have Shin go along with it, the inviter also asked the housemates to pay Shin one million yen (the Japanese equivalent of ten thousand dollars) of rent per month. At the beginning of the series, all five of the women have been living with Shin for six months and paying the money from their own pocket. In such a situation, they inevitably all turn out to be this to a degree.
  • This is revealed about Lance in Detectorists when he confides in Sophie that he won the lottery when his deeply missed ex-wife left him... which is then strung out into an Overly Long Gag as Sophie insists on assuming he's talking metaphorically. He later finds out that Maggie and her new man have known the whole time after she long ago read a letter addressed to Lance — all the excuses to keep him around doing little jobs for her, which he assumed were signs of lingering affection, were really because of the money.
  • In The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Midge meets Sophie Lennon, a hefty comedienne whose act centers on her working-class attitude as a housewife in Queens. When Midge goes to meet Sophie at her home, she's shocked to discover that Sophie is actually a slender, refined, and fantastically rich woman who lives a comically snobby lifestyle in secret. She explains that her comedy persona would only work if the public doesn't know the truth about her, and her publicist works very hard to keep it that way. Midge notably decides to base her own act on her real life as a wealthy, Jewish socialite.
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Morn the barfly spends over ten years hiding 1,000 bricks worth of latinum in his second stomach. We never get an exact exchange rate from latinum to any real-world equivalent, but this is enough that Quark considers a 10% share (100 bricks) as worthy compensation for Morn setting him up to be killed by old criminal acquaintances.
  • Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation has an unspecified amount of cash and gold safely stored away. However much it is, it's a lot. When drafting an official will, his lawyer's reaction to a ballpark number is "Holy shit." Leaving just 5% of it to split between his son and stepdaughters is still considered a huge inheritance.
  • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: Kelsey Winslow (The Yellow Ranger) is introduced as a rugged but enthusiastic extreme sports lady. However, later on it's revealed that she actually comes from an upper class background with serious money in her family (particularly her grandmother). She just prefers a more low key lifestyle, and considering she's doing a public service as a power ranger, it's not time ill spent.
  • Resurrection: Ertuğrul: He might appear to be poor and helpless in his alter-ego, but Dragos is certainly a well-to-do individual, having accumulated plenty of treasure and soldiers, with plans of obtaining even greater wealth as he continues expanding his legion.
  • Schitt's Creek: In the penultimate episode, good-hearted waitress Twyla reveals that she won millions of dollars in the lottery a few years back, but works at the diner because she enjoys the job and because she believes that money doesn't buy happiness. Considering what often happens to lottery winners...
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has an episode where the family butler, Geoffrey, meets a woman behind the house who asks him for some general cleaning and housekeeping tips. He assumes that she is a maid working at one of the other mansions in the area, and they begin dating and fall in love. Eventually, Geoffrey finds out that the woman is not a maid, but rather is wealthy and owns the mansion. She admits to doing this because men she tried to date in the past get turned off when they find out she makes more money than them. Sadly, this is also the case with Geoffrey - he dumps her shortly afterwards for the same reason.
  • Hurley keeps mum about his lottery windfall in the early episodes of Lost. When he does tell Charlie, after Charlie has shared his struggles with drug addiction, Charlie thinks that Hurley is making fun of him.
  • In Teenage Bounty Hunters, Blair has an ongoing flirtation and eventual relationship with Miles, the valet of the country club where her rich family goes. In the course of their relationship, she learns that Miles' mother has two jobs, and she is worried about how he might be intimidated by her wealth. When she drops Miles at his home, Blair is stunned to discover it's a mansion even bigger than her own house, and his mother's two jobs are as a lawyer and a State Senator. His dad also owns a bank. It turns out pretty much everyone but Blair knew Miles was from a richer family.
  • In the Dark has Felix, a goofball slacker who works at a local pet clinic. When Murphy and Jules track him to his home, they're stunned to find it's a mansion and he's amazingly rich.
    • When he hears the clinic is bankrupt, Felix offers to buy it. His boss just laughs "I know how much I pay you" and is astounded when Felix assures him he can easily afford it.
  • How I Met Your Mother: During the final season, Barney drunkenly reveals that Robin's family is extremely wealthy. Future Ted's narration declines to reveal the exact amount they're worth but describes it as "6,000 Craploads". Present Ted is irritated by this revelation as it never came up when he was dating Robin and he ends up charging several rounds of expensive scotch to her account as payback.
  • In L.A. Law a poor receptionist works at the firm, hoping to snag a well-off lawyer. Much to her father's disgust, she ends up falling for the poetry-writing bicycle courier. He then takes her home to meet his incredibly wealthy family, who love him very much and are holding his shares of the family wealth for him. He just likes writing poetry and being a bicycle courier.
  • The Good Detective: Detective Oh is working as a police detective but can afford a watch that costs eight hundred million won (about $800K). In Episode 3 he admits this to his partner, revealing that he comes from money and inherited a lot ("a lot more than the lottery") from his father.
  • Still Standing: When Bill's father Al is getting remarried, his fiancee Joy tells Bill that she's not marrying Al for his money, which Bill assumes means that Al lied about his finances to Joy. As it turns out, Al is a millionaire and has been hiding it for years. He won a large sum of money in a lawsuit and invested wisely, owning a stock portfolio, an apartment building, an amusement park and a few KFC Franchises.
  • Keeping Up Appearances: When Daisy and Onslow drive away from Hyacinth's house in their ancient backfiring car, Hyacinth tries to pretend to a passing neighbour that Daisy is actually wealthy.
    Hyacinth: My eccentric sister, she likes to give the impression she's poor. Very wise, with so much burglary about. (Clutches the pearls around her neck, and rushes inside)

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Weed in For Better or for Worse comes off as a fairly typical slacker college student, until he brings Michael with him on a visit home and turns out to be from an exceedingly wealthy family. He doesn't think much of it, because it's also a cold family.
  • Popeye was shown to have loads of money in some 1972 newspaper strips; he had at least 20 chests filled with pirate treasure with more in his basement.

  • S-Town: John B. McLemore lives like a pauper in rural Alabama but is also known to make large purchases and never seems to worry about money. He occasionally makes oblique references to burying gold around his property and having to "dig up" some funds for an impending purchase. He made excellent money restoring old clocks, so it's widely speculated that John might have lots of money, maybe even millions of dollars, stashed on his property in gold bars.

  • In Avenue Q: Trekkie Monster turns out to have made millions investing in online porn, and donates it to Kate to help her start her "Monsterssori school" program.

    Video Games 
  • In Fairy Fencer F, while you get a few hints that Sherman Shellancer is a man of means, a conversation between him and his fairy in the Vile God route of Advent Dark Force after several members join your party reveals that if necessary, he could afford to pay for them to all stay at the inn for 285-410 days, and that's even factoring in for the rate at which they've been growing.
  • The Reloaded remake of Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards has Larry lampshade this if the player has blown all of Larry's money and had the vagrant give Larry more money enough times. Larry addresses the absurdity of a derelict somehow being able to keep giving Larry money by asking him if he's secretly wealthy.
  • Nagito Komaeda from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is revealed to be this in his Free Time Events. He won the lottery a few times due to his Ultimate Luck, and, due to said luck working in cycles, his parents died when he was a child, and he inherited all of their money.
  • Rie Miyamoto of Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, is a tomboyish, unsophisticated, and down-to-earth girl whose family owns the mountain resort where the cast holds their Halloween party. Also inverted- people tend to assume that her polite and kimono-clad best friend Runa Hikari is wealthy when, in fact, Runa is the daughter of a fishmonger and a cleaning lady. This discovery is actually what prompted Runa's Gold Digger ex, Hiro Shiratake, to dump her.
  • Street Fighter 6 reveals that Ken arranged for Ryu to have a credit card that's filled with his tournament winnings and various money he's gained from helping people out. As such, despite the fact that he's Walking the Earth with no real possessions he essentially doesn't need to worry about money.

    Web Animation 
  • Manga Soprano: A few stories feature an antagonist making fun of the protagonists for supposedly being poor, only to be later revealed that they are richer than the antagonist.
  • Refreshing Stories: Ms. Machida looked down on Rin for supposedly being poor, but when she found out that she is actually more wealthy than her, she tried to make Rin pay for the meals she and the other moms ate at an expensive restaurant. Unfortunately for them, Rin was running late due to an emergency with her kid, and the chef was threatening to call the police. Rin did arrive in time, but Machida and the other mothers were scolded for their stunt.
  • RWBY: When Blake shows Sun where her family home is, Sun is shocked to see it's the largest residential building in the area. It's a huge, sprawling mansion with steps leading up to a giant front door with an enormous, intimidating knocker. There are multiple, good-sized rooms inside and, unlike Weiss's cold, empty, echoing family mansion, Blake's family mansion uses rich, warming wood effects. What Blake hasn't revealed to her friends and teammates is that she's the daughter of one of the most influential Faunus in the world. Her father is Menagerie's chieftain, and the former peaceful White Fang leader who was forced to stand down by a coup that transformed the White Fang into terrorists.

  • Slice of Life: Pinkie Pie. When Sugarcube Corner is having trouble, she offers the Cake family her allowance, but they turn her down because they don't want her to feel responsible, and a young pony's allowance surely wouldn't cover it anyway. She interprets this as refusing charity, and instead calls in her mother to invest a reasonable amount into the company. Turns out that her family owns the largest molasses company in the country; Pinkie's allowance would have easily been enough to cover the store's problems. Of course, the Pie family being the Pie family, they consider molasses a minor side business to their far less profitable ancestral rock farming.
  • Kingston of S.S.D.D.. He tells everyone who asks that his dad was a dustman, which was technically true, but then we see a garbage truck belonging to "Kingston Waste Management Ltd." Suddenly it becomes clear how his share of the rent gets paid each month despite him being so perpetually baked he couldn't hold down a job as a benefit scrounger.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Schlock is less "concerned about the perceptions of others" and more "has simple tastes and doesn't really care", but he is ridiculously rich - as in; he's repeatedly hired the Private Military Contractors he works for - all of them, along with their Battlestar - and he once owned the company. He started out as a slave, but he ended up the Sole Survivor of the rather wealthy circus that bought him when they were attacked by Space Pirates - and then he killed all the pirates and claimed all their stuff. When he went to deposit his newfound wealth in a bank, he learned about commodities trading; feeling hungry at the moment, he decided to invest in "Unchyr chicks." His nice little nest egg turned into a fortune when the clever and fair-dealing AI from which he purchased a few live chicks learned that carbosilicate amorphs could sniff out a prion infection that was ravaging every farm on the planet. Aesop? Stock shufflers are stupid; go out and learn about what you're buying!
    AI: We cleaned house, him and me. Those traders, pushing around electrons and pretending they had money? We got our hands dirty and ruined most of them. The smart ones started investing in us.

    Western Animation 
  • Samantha "Sam" Manson of Danny Phantom is secretly rich, which not even Danny and Tucker knew for a long time (even though the three of them have been friends since at least Kindergarten). This of course, would certainly explain how Sam was able to get an entire medical staff to her room while she was sick. While she's got her faults, Sam's ultimately a good person, especially since pretty much all the other rich kids at their high school are jerks, and Sam's parents' WASPish attitudes don't really mesh with her Perky Goth persona or Granola Girl activism.
  • Jordan of The Kids from Room 402 is wealthy but keeps it a secret from her classmates out of fear they'll think she's stuck up. In one episode, Nancy Francis found out the secret and promised not to tell anyone at school Jordan is wealthy. However, since she didn't promise not to tell she had a rich friend, Nancy bragged so much about this she was eventually treated like the stuck up girl Jordan was afraid of being perceived as.
  • Cheryl, the ISIS secretary on Archer, is forced to reveal early on that she's been using a fake last name ever since she started at the company, and is actually a descendant of Cornelius Tunt, who built all the railroads in America, and as such, is worth roughly half a billion dollars. She never really articulates why she decided to start working for an espionage agency under a new identity, but with how extremely horrible and abusive most of her family members are, it's no surprise that she wanted to completely start over.
  • Frisky Dingo: Xander Crews writes a cashier's check for his entire $20 billion fortune, then loses it. A year later, he's living in cardboard boxes by the freeway selling used needles & condoms after a failed porn career and likely contracting tuberculosis. When a documentary film crew informs him Killface is running for president, Crews immediately announces his candidacy. They point out that he'll need a lot of money to run for president, and he pulls out the $20 billion cashier's check.
    Crews: Apparently, I've had it the whole time... Suckaaaaas!
  • In the CatDog episode "Rich Shriek, Poor Shriek", Shriek is revealed to come from a wealthy family, something she tries to keep secret from her fellow Greaser Hounds.
  • Played for Laughs in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends when Eduardo is revealed to be filthy rich in the episode "The Buck Swaps Here". He reveals that he has a safe buried beneath his Beanie Baggies filled with diamonds, gold bars, and wads of cash stashed inside of it. The Stinger shows him giving Mr. Herriman financial advice, explaining that he made investments in the same girl toy properties he's a fan of.
    Eduardo: "Never underestimate the buying power of the 4-year old girl. They es a Goldmine!"
  • Played for Laughs in Mission Hill when Andy discovers his friend Jim is paid very generously by and owns stock in a wealthy ad agency for, in his own words, basically being the young guy who knows computers. However, it was only a "secret" to Andy who was too much of an airheaded slacker to ask; everyone else in the apartment knew and it's how they live in a two-story flat in a decent neighborhood in the city.
  • In a throwaway gag on The Simpsons, it's revealed that Jimbo Jones, a schoolyard bully who shoplifts and uses a power cord as a belt, lives in a lavishly decorated house with his mother.
  • Token Black from South Park was initially, well, the Token Minority of the cast. The episode "Here Comes The Neighborhood" reveals he comes from the wealthiest family in South Park. Typical of this type of character, he is worried about how his wealth makes him different from his friends and how his friends tease him for it. The episode plays this up, by portraying all of South Park as poor, not just Kenny. DVD players are portrayed as high-end luxuriesnote , and the kids have to play baseball with dirt and rocks and kick each other in the crotch to pass the time. Even Stan and Cartman, who are usually portrayed as being in the comfortable middle class, and Kyle, who is upper-middle-class thanks to his lawyer father, are suddenly poor to drive the point home. Ultimately, Token learns boys "rip" on each other as part of bonding, they don't hate Token for being rich. Instead, they will now rip on him for being so sensitive about his wealth.
  • In Central Park, when we first meet Brendan in the titular park, he looks like a regular kid just flying his kite. Then we get the reveal that he's a member of the Brandenham family, who's rich, and Bitsy is his great aunt. In Season 1 "Hot Oven", he reveals he keeps his family name a secret because he feels embarrassed when he tells people his last name and they get weirded out by him. It doesn't help that Bitsy is the most disliked person in New York City and he rather not be associated with her.
  • The Merrie Melodies cartoon "The Fella With a Fiddle" tells of a mouse, presumably a beggar, returning home only to show he's quite affluent because he's greedy. It's an Aesop a mouse is telling his grandchildren about how greed can lead to one's downfall. He outwits a tax collector by reverting everything back to impoverished conditions but then falls victim to a cat who exploits the mouse's greed. (Then subverted when it's shown that grandpa was actually that mouse.)
  • This is (potentially) what inspired Mr. Krabs and Plankton to go into the fast food business in SpongeBob SquarePants, as they found out local owner and cook of the fast food restaurant they grew up near was quite wealthy due to running a successful business, as seen in the trope image.

    Real Life 
  • In many parts of the world lottery winners are allowed to claim their winnings anonymously, usually so they don't start getting harassed by "long-lost relatives" and/or scammers trying to nab a cut of the money (there are even a handful of cases where non-anonymous lottery winners were killed by people who wanted to steal the money). Your neighbors may be richer than you think.
  • Subverted with a proverb that says "In this world, there are two things you can't hide: love and money".
  • Snopes tells the story of a man who walked into his bank, cashed a check, and asked them to validate his parking. The teller and the manager both looked at his shabby clothes and refused. As it turns out, the man was John Barrier, a man who made millions refurbishing old houses, and thanks to the teller and managers' snobby refusal to validate his fifty-cent parking stub, he closed down his million-dollar account the next day.
  • Jesse Camp, the winner of MTV's first Wanna Be a VJ contest, portrayed himself as a street kid and viewers assumed he was homeless based on his attire. It later came to light Camp was actually from an upper-class Connecticut family and had recently graduated from an exclusive prep school.
  • Occasionally in some social circles where most people in them are poor it can be revealed that one member of the group is relatively wealthy compared to the others. This can cause issues if some or all of the poor members were helping out the wealthier member despite their small means to do so while the wealthier member took their hospitality having plenty of means not to need it, let alone the means to return the favors if they never did.
  • As cited on The Quincy Punk, the crust punk scene is known to attract "trusty crusties" — Wealthy posers who cherry-pick the most superficial aspects of crust punk (voluntary homelessness, lack of hygiene, excessive drug use, etc.) to rebel against society/their parents, only to fall back on substantial trust funds when they struggle to make a living on the street.

Alternative Title(s): Secretly Rich


Ellen Waverly

"The only way to fly is Cavalier."

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / SecretlyWealthy

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