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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, maybe their parents are Bourgeois Bohemians and sending their child to public school because of their liberal beliefs, or maybe their parents got in financial trouble and needed to cut spending (with their kid's education being first). But in most cases, 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 Sneech, who is always showing off his family's wealth and expensive stuff, goes to the same school as his middle-class friends.
    • One episode has a new student named Bill Money, who's not only much richer than Suneo (he's also first seen to arrive at school in a limousine), but also kinder and humbler.
  • 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's Tatewaki Kuno, who is actually an Expy of Mendou from Urusei Yatsura (as both series were created by Rumiko Takahashi); 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 Kodachi 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 was 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 were shocked to learn that Kaiba owns the famous Kaiba Corporation, a company they definitely have heard of, but they were apparently unaware that Kaiba even had a familial connection to it. This is even more egregious, as Kaiba was then established to be a very famous gamer and person in general. Yugi, being one of the most game-savvy players, could not possibly never heard of Seto Kaiba, who even has a large fanbase In-Universe. Kaiba was originally just another Villain of the Week, and he wasn't even given a first name back then. The retcon is also made more obvious through the methods Kaiba used to collect his Blue-Eyes White Dragons. In his first appearance, he merely pretended to be friendly and stole it Sugoroku's Blue-Eyes from Yugi and replaced it with a fake (an act Yugi noticed), and he later topdecked Blue-Eyes in his deck to cheat his way out of the situation. But afterwards, he has collected his three Blue-Eyes by ruining people's lives with his immense wealth and he created elaborate and deadly death trap games to try to kill Yugi and his friends, and while he gave them massive disadvantages, the games were fair enough that they can be won.
  • 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 sweet that her classmates don't mind.
  • Tsumugi "Mugi" Kotobuki from K-On! is from a ridiculously rich family (to the point that her family owns several beach houses and she's very used to going on overseas trips), and yet she attends a middle-class girls' high school. This mainly leads to jokes about how her experiences up until this point have been vastly different from her friends due to being so rich, along with several Fish out of Water moments.
  • Love Live!:
    • Maki Nishikino from Love Live! is the daughter of two wealthy doctors, but she still goes to Otonokizaka, an aging school that's in danger of closing down. In the manga, Maki wanted to go to UTX (a much fancier school) instead, but her parents made her attend Otonokizaka.
    • While Mari Ohara from Love Live! Sunshine!! isn't the only main character from a rich family (Dia and Ruby Kurosawa's family is also well-off), she's still the only one whose wealth is really focused on. Despite her wealth, she chooses to go to Uranohoshi, an unremarkable high school in an unremarkable rural seaside town.
  • Detective Conan:
    • Sonoko Suzuki's family has the money to supply any black-tie party, isolated mountain villa, or priceless gemstone (with quote-unquote infallible security system) the Case of the Week demands, but has been Ordinary High-School Student Ran's classmate since kindergarten.
    • As far as high school goes, though, Ran might be the odd one out; main character Shinichi is also fairly loaded, with an internationally-famous author for a dad and an internationally-famous actress for a mom. His family's wealth just doesn't come into play all that much because his parents left to live in the U.S. several years ago while he spends most the series pretending to be someone else.
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Nanoha is an inverted case, where she's from an middle-class family (albeit her father is implied to be a retired bodyguard from a samurai clan) who have their own café, but her two best friends, Arisa and Suzuka, are both from insanely rich people who have their own mansions, their own limosines and the two girls have their own servants. In fact, their families are so rich that the two of them build a theme park together in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Reflection. Nanoha's "best friend" Fate, who is adopted by Admiral Lindy in A's, is also from a wealthy family apparently, and she was already the daughter of a female scientist who had her own mansion. The only reason why Nanoha is even friends with them is because she befriended two of them with violence. Nanoha's other best friend from the end of A's onwards, Hayate, is an orphan who is financially supported by a veteran admiral as her godfather.

     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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    Fan Works 
  • Silent Wish: Trixie's parents are one of the richest families in town and they own a three-story mansion. Still, Trixie goes to an average middle-class high school.

     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 and her dad have 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.
  • High School Musical: Sharpay and Ryan Evans, whose wealthy parents own a country club and they go to East High just like Troy, Gabriella, and others. This is evident in the second movie, where practically all of their classmates work at their parents' country club doing summer jobs.
  • 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 of the the school being a Serial Numbers Filed Off Expy of The Bronx High School of 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.
  • This is justified in Harry Potter because there are only a few wizarding schools out there, so kids of all incomes will go to to the same school. There are a few kids from rich (usually pureblood) families at Hogwarts, such as Draco Malfoy. Even Harry is technically wealthy, since his parents left him a large sum of money after their deaths.
  • 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.
  • Glee: Sugar Motta, whose extremely rich piano business owner father may or may not be in The Mafia. She's rich enough to easily help funding the school's glee club, New Directions, for Regionals and to have her own glee club, The Troubletones, with Shelby Corcoran as its director, but still attends the public school of McKinley High, just like the rest of New Directions.
  • 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.
  • Degrassi: The Next Generation:
    • 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 Coynes 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 
  • Polar Opposite Twins Felix and Ted Huxley from Kindergarten 2 are the wealthy heirs to the large company Applesoft, and they go to a kindergarten otherwise populated with poor-to-middle-class students. Justified since they're only kindergarteners.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona:
    • 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.

    Web Animation 
  • In My Story Animated's video "I Am The Richest Girl At School And It's Embarrassing", the girl has ridiculously rich parents, to the point where she used to take a personal helicopter to school, yet she goes to a seemingly average school.

    Web Comics 
  • In Olympic Dames, there is Taryn Varwig, whose parents have placed her at a regular state school and not the fee-paying one they could easily afford.

     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. His classmates all seem to be of middle class.
  • There's quite a lot of rich teens in Danny Phantom who all go to the same public high school. Sam is definitely the most baffling, as she seems to be the wealthiest kid there and has very prim, socialite parents who'd definitely be the types to want to send their rebellious daughter to a private school.
  • Doug: Bebe Bluff. She's rich enough that the whole TOWN is named after her family, as her ancestor was the founder. The Disney's sequel series plays this as a plot for its first episode when Bluffington High is so dilapidated it falls apart over the summer after the characters graduate middle school. Because Bebe would have gone there, Mr. Bluff decides to build a new high school for the cast to attend, again ignoring the idea of a private school.
  • 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!:
    • Rhonda Lloyd 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.
    • Though only really featured in one episode, Lorenzo is an even richer kid that was transferred to the same 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.
  • Virginia Toffen from Lola & Virginia is a rich Spoiled Brat who used to attend private school, before she transferred to public school at the suggestion of her psychiatrist, making her the only rich student at her current school.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug we have both Chloe, who is the daughter of the Mayor, and Adrien, son of a fashion tycoon. They tend to show their privileges a lot around school (like arriving in limousines), yet we are not given any indication that any other of the kids are that well off.
  • 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.
  • 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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