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Token Rich Student

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"What the heck are you doing at Gotham Heights High, Master Tim? Your butler sends you to school with a bag lunch that ain't exactly a PB and J sandwich. The clothes you have on cost more than my whole closet. So why aren't you packed away to one of those fancy boarding schools like the rest of the rich brats?"
Ives, Robin Vol. 2

Rich and influential people normally have the money and influence to get their kids into the best spots, to get them the best jobs, and send them to the best schools. Yet, in fiction, whenever the plot is set in a school that seems to be populated mostly by middle-class kids, you will always find that one kid from a wealthy family among them.

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There can be some explanations: Maybe the kid actually wants to see how the life of the common people is like, maybe they have been expelled from more exclusive schools, or maybe their parents got in financial trouble and needed to cut spending (with their kid's education being first), or they're Bourgeois Bohemians and sending their child to public school because of their liberal beliefs. In most cases, though, this is rarely, if ever, explained, or even lampshaded; one would think the only reason they enrolled in this school is to be able to show off their wealth undisputed.

If the rich kid is the main character, expect a Fish out of Water situation while they try to adapt to their new environment. If not, then they will be a Spoiled Brat to serve as a foil and rival for the poorer but more likable protagonist, or a Lonely Rich Kid that the hero must help to come out of their shell.

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Compare and contrast with Secretly Wealthy, where the character is rich, but hides the fact, and Slumming It, if the character is engaging in "poor people" activities for fun. Contrast Scholarship Student and Penny Among Diamonds.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga 
  • Cool-Kyou Shinsha has had three series starring rich heiresses attending public schools (and all three of them ending up in Uptown Girl romances):
    • Justified in My Girlfriend Without Wasabi, where Rino attends a low level university due to her being a lazy student and her identity being kept a secret from the public until she becomes the family head.
    • Kurume from RaButa attends a public high school without any real comment, though it's possible that the lack of any legal guardians (her parents died when she was in middle school) is why she never applied for a private one.
    • Haru from Ojojojo transferred schools every couple of weeks ever since she was a child due to her Rich Bitch attitude alienating her from her classmates. Why she never attended a private school with her social peers (which would circumnavigate the problem) is never explained. Chris (the son of a British noble) transfers into the school later in the series, though he is at least justified by the fact that he specifically transferred in to try and get Haru to agree to an Arranged Marriage.
  • While PK Academy of The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is mentioned to be a small private school rather than a public one, neither the school nor the gaggle of students the story follows are mentioned to be particularly well off...except for Saiko Metori, heir to a ridiculously rich family, who constantly flaunts his wealth and sticks up his nose at the "commoners" surrounding him. His given reason for slumming it when he could obviously afford much better is that he intends to woo Teruhashi.
  • Saya from Onidere is the daughter of a very wealthy CEO (enough so that she was able to personally commission a Kill Sat as a child), but she attends an ordinary public school.
  • Doraemon: Spoiled rich kid Suneo, who is always showing off his family's wealth and expensive stuff, goes to the same school as his middle-class friends.
  • Soul Eater: Death The Kid is the son of Shinigami (Lord Death in English). However, he doesn't take pride in his wealth, considering he picked two delinquents from off the street to be his weapons over the people his father had offered. He also enrolled in school on his own terms, even though his identity as the son of Death means he didn't even need to attend.
  • Urusei Yatsura: Royal Brat Shutaro Mendou is the heir to the richest family in Japan, who has its own private army. He's frequently seen parachuting from his private jet to go to school, which is the same public high school of the main characters. Averted with his younger sister Ryoko who goes to an all-girls private school.
  • In Ranma ½ there is the character of Tatewaki Kuno, who is actually an Expy of Mendou from Urusei Yatsura; a rich idiot who lives in a ginormous castle estate in the middle of contemporary Tokyo and who is a wannabe warrior poet who also goes to the local public high school along with the main characters. In this instance it is because his father (an even greater idiot) is also the principal. Tatewaki's sister does go to a private girl's school though.
  • In Sword Art Online, Asuna is an ojou who ends up attending a special public school for kids who are SAO Survivors. Though in her case it's justified as the government enforced students like her to attend. It's actually invoked as Asuna's mother wants her to change to a better school, but Asuna refuses as she wishes to be with her friends.
  • Seto Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh! is actually the president of one of the biggest gaming companies in the world, yet he apparently goes to the same school as the protagonists. Although, after the first episode, it becomes moot point. This is more of a Retcon, since Kaiba's introduction in the manga only portrayed him as a card-collecting maniac. His wealthy background wasn't given until his second appearance (two volumes later). This is especially notable when Jonouchi and Yugi are shocked to learn that Kaiba owns the famous Kaiba Corporation, a company they definitely have heard of, but were unaware that Kaiba even had a familial connection to. This is even more egregious, as Kaiba is then established to be a very famous gamer and person in general. Yugi, being one of the most savvy players, could not possibly never heard of Seto Kaiba, who even has a large fan base In-Universe. Kaiba was originally just another Villain of the Week, and he wasn't even given a first name back then.
  • My Hero Academia: While other students like Iida and Todoroki are also mentioned to be fairly well-off, Yaoyorozu unknowingly flaunts her wealth in front of her working-class classmates as a Running Gag. She has a fabulous Big Fancy House, goes on vacations to Europe, brings a too-large four-poster bed to a Japanese dorm because she didn't know it wouldn't fit, and is excited at the prospect of thrift shopping because she's never done it before. However, she's so Spoiled Sweet about it that her classmates don't mind.

     Comic Books 
  • Veronica from Archie Comics, a rich girl who transfers in to a public school, and who often flaunts her family's wealth.
  • Robin: Tim's friends at public school have a habit of calling him variations on "rich kid" and at times question why he's attending school with them instead of going to a boarding school alongside Gotham's other financial elite. He had attend boarding schools prior to high school, and his dad eventually forces him to transfer to another, but Tim himself does not care for them.
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     Films: Live-Action 
  • Bring It On: Rancho Carne seems to be a wealthy neighborhood where very nice houses are the rule, but Darcy stands out because she's known to be able to secure money from her father so reliably that she can guarantee the rest of the Toros $500 to help finance hiring professional choreographer Sparky Palastri.
  • Casper: When it's revealed that Kat has moved into Whipstaff, the local spooky mansion, her class declares they should hold their high school Halloween party there instead of their rich classmate Amber's boathouse. Amber gets jealous and along with Vic tries to sabotage the party.
  • First Kid: Titular character Luke Davenport winds up attending public school, Secret Service and all. He ends up getting into bully trouble, like an average kid might.
  • Spider-Man: Harry Osborn, despite his dad being rich enough to be driven in a vintage Rolls Royce, goes to the same public high school as the financially struggling Peter Parker. It's explicitly because Harry's been kicked out of every private school Norman could send him to.
    • There's also the matter that the school is a Serial Numbers Filed Off Expy of Bronx Science, which is quite a prestigious school in its' own right.

     Literature 
  • Deconstructed in A Dance with Dragons. Varys and Illyrio (two very wealthy men) deliberately raised Prince Aegon Targaryen amongst the smallfolk and taught him practical skills (like fishing, mending clothes, and providing first aid) in the hopes this would make him a more empathetic, wise, and humble ruler. This not only didn't work, as Aegon is as entitled and foolish as any other Prince, but it appears to have actually handicapped him, as Aegon lacks experience in courtly life (and of those in it) and is easily manipulated.
    Varys: He has lived with fisherfolk, worked with his hands, swum in rivers and mended nets and learned to wash his own clothes at need. He can fish and cook and bind up a wound, he knows what it is like to be hungry, to be hunted, to be afraid.
  • Hating Alison Ashley: The plot starts when Alison, a seemingly perfect girl from a wealthy family, is placed in an ill-famed school on the Wrong Side of the Tracks, causing the jealousy of her classmate Erica, the main character.
  • Le Petit Nicolas: Nicolas' classmate Geoffroy's father is rich, though we never know why his son goes to the same school as other middle-class children. Geoffroy also doesn't flaunt his wealth or gets particularly respected/bullied for it (the kids' parents are a different matter, being very much aware of how little they make compared to Geoffroy's family) and in some cases it even gets him into trouble, like when his father buys him a cowboy costume that he wears to class.

     Live-Action TV 
  • American Housewife: The Otto kids are noticeable inversion, they're middle class kids in a town full of wealthy people.
  • Community: The rich old Jerkass Pierce is enrolled in community college, albeit more out of boredom and loneliness than for the education. His wealth sometimes comes up in surprising moments of generosity, but, given his personality, more often in incidents like the time he offers to take a friend into his home... as a household servant.
  • In Madam Secretary, Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord's son Jason finishes at a public high school after he's kicked out of his Quaker school for breaking his bully's nose (and refusing to apologize for it).
  • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody: London, the daughter of the extremely wealthy Wilfred Tipton. While she was originally in a Catholic School with Maddie, she was later transferred to a public school as it was the only school she'd not yet been expelled from. She continues going to public school when traveling on the S.S. Tipton, along with all the other students.
  • Fiona and Declan Coyne come to Degrassi in season 9 as this. They spend some time being at the center of several plots because of their wealth, such as Holly J. stealing from Fiona to pay for a private tutor and Declan in turn trying to rekindle his relationship with Holly J. buy offering to help her financially. In season 12 it's flipped when the Coyne's lose their wealth after a scandal and Fiona is broke up to the end of her tenure on the show.
    • Just as Fiona leaves, Miles Hollingsworth III is introduced the next season to fill the role. The Hollingsworth mansion ends up being a major hang-out spot for the rest of the series thanks to its expansive grounds and big pool.

     Video Games 
  • Mega Man Battle Network and its anime has Yaito Ayanokouji, the only rich kid in Akihara Elementary School. She's also the daughter of the president of Gabcom.
  • Zelda from The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap attended the same school as Link when they were younger (which, admittedly, appears to be the only school in the kingdom). While it's possible that members of nobility may have also attended, none are ever seen over the course of the game.
  • Persona 3 has Mitsuru Kirijo, daughter of the head of the Kirijo group, who admits during her social link that she's a bit out of touch with her less wealthy classmates.
  • Persona 4 has Ai Ebihara, whose family recently struck it rich, although Yukiko Amagi and Kou Ichijo are apparently well off.
  • Persona 5 has Haru Okumura, the daughter of Kunikazu Okumura, CEO of Okumura Foods, and the only apparently very wealthy student at Shujin Academy.

     Western Animation 
  • In Allen Gregory, the title character is a spoiled rich kid who's forced to attend a public elementary school after his family falls on hard times.
  • Angela Anaconda had Nanette Manoir, Angela's Arch-Nemesis, who is a posh Daddy's Girl who dresses fashionably and gets chauffeured around in a limo.
  • In Arthur, Muffy is the resident Alpha Bitch and Spoiled Brat who is the daughter of a business tycoon, meaning she lives in a mansion and has her own personal butler. She still attends the same public school as the rest of the kids.
  • In As Told by Ginger we have the Griplins, a very rich and influential family, yet their kids go to the same public school as the other kids. Courtney is your typical airhead, flaunting her riches and fancy clothes, while her little brother Blake actually seems to like getting his own money, even if just to show that he can.
  • Dick Grayson from The Batman is this when he becomes Bruce Wayne's ward, even lamenting that Alfred driving him up to school in a limo is going to make him seem weird.
  • Class of 3000 has Eddie, whose father is head of Cola Cola's Earth Divison. His supply of money is seemingly endless, which is helpful for writing off any big expenses that the class might face during their adventures. Comparatively, his classmates all seem to be of middle class.
  • Doug: Bebe Bluff. She's rich enough that the whole TOWN is named after her family, as her ancestor was the founder.
  • In The Fairly Oddparents we have the "cool kids": A group of four kids that are so wealthy that they can pay to have separate areas for them in school like a cool booth at the cafeteria, cool restrooms, and cool seats in the bus(which consists on a dance floor and a jacuzzi.)
  • Hey Arnold!:
    • Hey Arnold has Rhonda Lloyd, who is always flaunting her wealth and her parents are so rich that they considered having to sell a yacht to afford their honeymoon a "financial crisis", yet she attends P.S.118 along the other kids.
    • One episode introduced Lorenzo, an even richer kid that was transfered to the school. His debut centers around Arnold trying to help him to act more like a kid, since he spends most of his time acting like an adult.
  • Judging by her parents' careers, their large house, and all the things the Tweebs make, the titular protagonist of Kim Possible must come from a wealthy home. She still goes to a typical public high school and is modest about everything.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug we have both Chloe, who is the daughter of the Mayor, and Adrien, son of a fashion tycoon, but we are not given any indication that any other of the kids are that well off. They are also complete opposites since she is the Alpha Bitch, while he is Spoiled Sweet.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Diamond Tiara's family is very wealthy, but she still attends the same school as every other foal in Ponyville, likely because it's the only school in town.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: Princess Morbucks is a rich Spoiled Brat who attends the same elementary school as the Powerpuff Girls and other normal students.
  • South Park has Token Black, who pulls double-duty by being the only rich kid in school as well as the only black kid. In "Here Comes the Neighborhood", Cartman complains because Token's resources enable him to produce better schoolwork; Token begins to feel like an outcast and campaigns for more rich kids to move to South Park, attracting wealthy families who just happen to be black.
  • Family Guy has an inversion; once Carter gets Chris into Morningwood Academy, Peter and Lois have to find more work in order to pay his tuition. Chris gets beat up for being "the poor kid", too.
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures, most of the "well to do" toons in ACME Acres attend Perfecto Prep, as all the students there appear to be rich, and quite snobbish. Montana Max, however, is an exception, as while he is just as rich and snobbish as the Perfectos (if not more so), he attends ACME Looniversity alongside Buster, Babs, and the other middle-class toons in ACME Acres.
    Real Life 
  • Privacy and security concerns are cited as reasons celebrities usually send their kids to private school, but there have been exceptions.
    • Amy Carter got a lot of buzz for being the only First Kid in modern American history to attend public school.
    • Actress Cynthia Nixon is an advocate for public schools, and is known to have sent her kids to public schools.


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