A young and attractive wife who is regarded as a status symbol for the husband, who is older and affluent. In most cases, a trophy wife is a rather callous replacement for an aging wife, trading the old model for a new model.
She is often seen as a contrast to the first wife. If the first wife is the sympathetic character, she sacrificed her own career prospects and youth to support her husband's advancement during the long hard early years only to be summarily dumped for the younger, prettier trophy wife. If the second wife is meant to be sympathetic, then the first wife is a nagging, emasculating harridan who only ever cared about the social status and wealth she'd eventually pushed her husband into, while the second wife truly cares about him as a person and understands his inner creative urges.
If someone got dumped prior to the trophy wife, it's often because the husband married her for shallow reasons and has a hang-up with an aging beauty that he thinks is fading, or wife number one might have turned into a curmudgeon, or both. Sometimes, however, the husband simply marries someone younger on the first go and that's that; if he shows off his wife in a self-inflating way, then she's a trophy wife.
He might have found her at college where she was going to get some education before leaving with her MRS Degree. Or, she may have started out as The Mistress, and then at some point, her husband divorced his first wife to start a new life with her.
Note that trophy husbands do exist; the still-entrenched Double Standard regarding gender equality, however, makes them rarer than the wife version.
- Aliens/Predator: Deadliest of the Species follows Caryn Delacroix, a sheltered young woman who is a trophy wife to one of Earth's most powerful corporate leaders. Caryn believes herself to be a custom-built clone until she starts having nightmares and flashbacks of a life she never knew.
- When a group of Corrupt Corporate Executives kidnap and brainwash The Authority, this is the fate of Swift, who is creepily "given" to one of the men behind the scheme. It turns out that keeping one of their victims nearby and alive in this way isn't such a good idea once the brainwashing is inevitably undone.
- Occasional Spider-Man villain (the term should be used loosely) the White Rabbit claims she was once this to an elderly millionaire named Lewis Dogson, and the reason she can even get any Mooks to work for her is because she can pay them better than they could get anywhere else, seeing as she inherited his fortune. (She claimed that she "cleverly bumped Dogson off" and that "he died happy", but very little of what she says should be taken at face value.)
- From Barney & Clyde we have J. Barnard Pilsbury's second wife Lucretia.
- Phil Slackmeyer of Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury gets the idea of acquiring a trophy wife in the Thursday 21 September 1989 strip. Phil would soon divorce his faithful wife Marilou in order to attain one. Much later, when Phil encounters his son Mark at a social event, Mark notices his father's arm candy.
Mark: She's new. Your third?
Phil: Fifth. They keep aging out.
- In the Total Drama story, Legacy, Duncan jokingly suggests that Heather's current job description is "trophy wife" because she's a beautiful woman who does not work outside the house, and because her husband is a successful businessman nearly ten years older than she. Heather allows that Duncan's assessment is not unreasonable, although her age difference to her husband is less than is typical for trophy wives.
- The Stepford Wives:
- The plot sees the women (and a gay dude's partner, in the remake) transformed from "Supergirls" to a more stereotypical trophy wife. At least this appears to be a large part of the husband's motivation. In the original, he succeeds. In the remake, he relents.
- The character Charmaine (who isn't in the remake) is well aware that Ed married her entirely for her looks. In contrast to Joanna and Bobbie - who seem to have somewhat happy marriages at first - Charmaine is sure that her husband doesn't love her. Pretty much all she has to live for is playing tennis with younger men.
- Legally Blonde:
- Subverted —the murder victim was a wealthy older man who was married to an attractive young woman who was young enough to be his daughter (and who naturally became the prime suspect). However, she was a successful businesswoman who was already superrich before she married the murder victim (so it's not like she needed his money) and genuinely loved him.
- The plot is kicked off by Elle being dumped because she wouldn't be the right kind of trophy wife. Her boyfriend Warner plans to become a senator and therefore needs someone 'serious'. In fact Elle appearing to be a Dumb Blonde (she isn't) would make people think she's a trophy wife.
- Bill & Ted: In Excellent Adventure Bill's dad has divorced his mother and gotten married to Missy, who is only three years older than his son. In Bogus Journey they have split up and now Ted's dad is the one married to Missy; in the epilogue she marries the Big Bad.
- Mona Lisa Smile is about the art professor teaching all the girls at Wellesley to actually apply themselves and learn. In the 1950s and earlier, the whole point of a woman going to college for many women was to find a husband to whom they could become a well-converse, good little trophy wife.
- The First Wives Club is about women who get dumped, often to be replaced by trophy wives. Phoebe, the self-absorbed starlet, and Shelly, the empty-headed gold-digger, are the two most prominent trophy second wives, who help inspire the women they've replaced to create the club.
- In the James Bond films, a few of the women Bond manages to maneuver into a SexFace Turn are the villain's neglected or duped trophy wife. Paris Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies is one of the later examples, and naturally, Elliot Carver has her killed by his hitman Dr. Kaufman shortly thereafter.
- In the bad altered 1985 from Back to the Future Part II, Marty's mother has been coerced into becoming Biff Tannen's trophy wife, complete with unwanted breast augmentation. Though Marty is eventually able to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, the viewer sees that she would have eventually shot him to death.
- Jennifer Coolidge's character in Best in Show is a spoof example in the Gold Digger vein, and, unusually, is cheating with another woman, not a man.
- Rollerball (original version): Jonathan had a trophy wife bestowed on him for his success, but he really did care for her. Then she was taken away from him and given to an executive. This seems to be completely normal behavior in that verse.
- In The Big Lebowski, Bunny Lebowski, the wife of the "other" Lebowski, is a hot, blonde girl who Really Gets Around, married to a crippled old millionaire.
- In The Jerk, Steve Martin's boss (Jackie Mason) brings his hot wife to the garage to explain the importance of keeping the place safe. Without such a lucrative business how could he, of all people, get and keep such a woman? He explains that if anything happened to the business she'd leave him in a second. She nods in agreement.
- In A Face in the Crowd, Lonesome Rhodes marries Betty Lou Fleckum, a teenage baton-twirler, immediately after divorcing his first wife in Mexico. Marcia views her as representing Rhodes' audience "all wrapped up with yellow ribbons into one cute little package." At first, he proudly gushes to his fans about how her body "keeps on catching my eye," but as time passes she appears less and less on his show, until he has her unceremoniously dismissed "like any performer on my show that flops."
- The Kiss is about a hot young Trophy Wife played by Greta Garbo who is married to a much older and very rich businessman. She isn't happy about it, and wants to run away with her young lover.
- In The Merry Widow this is the explicit deal, as creepy Baron Sadoja offers Sally the showgirl not only money and power, but status and the chance to embarrass the royal family, as Sally was engaged to marry Prince Danilo before the King and Queen vetoed the wedding.
- In Zero Focus, Teiko, who is investigating the mysterious disappearance of her husband, goes to the house of her husband's business associate Mr. Murota. She notes disapprovingly that Murota's wife Sachiko is both very attractive and decades younger than her husband. This becomes plot-relevant later, when Sachiko's Dark Secret is revealed.
- The Power and the Glory: After Tom executes a hostile takeover of another railroad, the railroad's former owner basically throws his sexy daughter Eve at Tom out of desperation. It works, as Tom dumps his age-appropriate first wife Sally and marries Eve, who is young enough to be his daughter. Terrible tragedy ensues.
- In Better Living Through Chemistry, Elizabeth considers herself this. We later learn that her husband, while older, genuinely loves her, and tries to give her everything she wants.
- Darling: Diana's adventures in modeling and show business end up with her married to a ridiculously wealthy Italian prince who's at least 30 years older than her. She hates it, especially when she's left alone in the mansion while her husband goes to Rome to visit his mistress.
- The climax of All About Eve is Addison blackmailing Eve into marrying him. Despite knowing what a nasty piece of work she really is, having such a respected actress as his wife would do wonders for his public image.
- Rosalyn in American Hustle is implied to have been something of a trophy wife. She's much younger and more attractive than Irving, and now that he's grown sick of her, he only stays with her because of her son (who he genuinely loves).
- Word of God per Mean Girls is that Regina's mother is actually a stepmother, explaining why she's as young as Amy Poehler. When we see Regina's father, he's much older than her.
- The World of Suzie Wong - Suzie (who is a prostitute) becomes The Mistress to Ben, and anticipates that he will divorce his wife and marry her instead. This doesn't happen, what with Ben being a 'respectable' English businessman.
- In Dragon Bones, the protagonist's father reveals on his deathbed that he thinks he should have married Stala (the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman) instead of Muellen (her legitimate half-sister), and regrets his decision to marry Muellen because he was too proud to marry a commoner. He says all this while Muellen and her children are present. Even worse, he abused Muellen and the kids, so he's adding insult to injury.
- George Smiley's wife Anne is an example of the unfaithful type.
- In The Bible, Esther is chosen to be King Ahasuerus' queen to replace the banished Vashti. An atypical example both because Esther was basically forced into it, and, though chosen largely for her looks, she actually turns out to be a Guile Heroine who uses her position to save her people from genocide.
- In Of Mice and Men, Curly's wife is this. He tries to keep her shut up in their house, threatening anyone who shows any attention to her, and generally leaves her feeling isolated and miserable. This leads to her trying to find workers who don't run for the hills when she flirts with them, and sadly leads to her letting Lennie stroke her hair, in turn causing her to die when he begins shaking her violently.
- In The Horse and His Boy, Aravis Tharkeena ran away from home to avert the trope. Not helped by how her "fiancè" is a much older Smug Snake, or by how the marriage was arranged by her much loathed Wicked Stepmother. Her friend Lasaraleen is in a similar situation but does not mind it.
- Alluded to in the Newsflesh series, with Becks musing at one point that maybe she should have taken her mother's career advice by becoming a trophy wife, rather than pursuing journalism. She decides that she did take the path that gave her the life she wanted, rather than what her old-money family considered appropriate.
- Joe Pickett: In Out of Range, Stella Ennis is the latest in a string of trophy wives for ruthless entrepreneur Don Ennis. However, Stella is no brainless bimbo, and crosses into Femme Fatale territory, as Don learns to his regret.
- The Closer, had the victim's really young fourth wife and daughter actually attend 8th grade French together.
- Doctor Who:
- "Smith and Jones": Clive Jones' Hollywood Midlife Crisis comes complete with a much younger girlfriend, Annelise, who was described in the script as something out of a Big Brother eviction night.
- The Master's wife, Lucy Saxon, was chosen for her pliability and her family connections, making her a fairly straightforward example of a trophy wife. However, even finding out his true nature doesn't shake her loyalty to him. After he abuses her, she fatally shoots him and, still later, sacrifices her life to sabotage his resurrection and leave him with a bad case of Came Back Wrong.
- Katherine Wellington from Harper's Island. She even admits it.
- In the third season of The Joe Schmo Show, The Full Bounty, host Ralph Garman's character, Jake Montrose, has a trophy wife.
- All versions of Law & Order have featured varying types of these. Unsurprisingly, they often turn out to be unfaithful and involved in the murder. Occasionally, viewers are thrown for a loop when the woman turns out to be innocent and genuinely upset by her husband's death. An even loopier one had the woman being completely indifferent, but innocent all the same.
- Subverted on Lois & Clark, where the seeming trophy wife of Intergang's boss swiftly takes over and proves to be her husband's equal in brains and ruthlessness after he is imprisoned.
- Jane Siegel Sterling on Mad Men. Roger Sterling throws over his wife of many years, Mona, for his sexy secretary. He soon tires of her, although she seems sincerely devoted to him. Don Draper marries his sexy secretary at the end of Season 4, although this is a less perfect example, as Don is about 15 years older than his wife as opposed to about 30 years between Roger and Jane, and Don's wife becomes his work colleague as well.
- Modern Family's Gloria Delgado-Pritchett is a surprisingly sympathetic example of a trophy wife.
- More than likely because the show goes to great lengths to prove she isn't just a trophy wife and that she and Jay have an honestly healthy relationship.
- MythQuest: Cleo spends some time as Blodeuwedd, a trophy wife in a Welsh myth.
- The ABC sitcom Trophy Wife zig-zags this with Kate. Her husband's two ex-wives and his two older kids seem to think she's one, but she genuinely loves her husband and tries to get along with the family. It's implied from the pilot that after their Meet Cute, his sense of humor is what attracted her in the first place.
- In Two and a Half Men, Charlie sleeps with an old man's trophy wife without knowing she was married. He wasn't too happy about it.
Evelyn: Did my son polish your trophy wife?
- Veronica Mars: Kendall Casablancas is a pretty obvious one for real estate mogul Dick Casablancas. His first wife (and mother of his two sons) is his own age but currently lives in Europe, Kendall is a younger swimsuit model. However, this backfires on him when she hooks up with Dick Jr.'s friend Logan while he's away, although Dick Sr. never finds out. Also, it's later revealed that she's Obfuscating Stupidity to a degree, as she's working with the Fitzpatrick crime family and "Kendall" is a fake identity she took from a dead woman.
- The Golden Girls: Being a bald slob with little personal charm, the only way Stan Zbornak can get a date to be generous with his credit card.
- "I Won", a song by rapper Future (featuring Kanye West) from the former's album Honest which outright describes their partners - R'n'B singer Ciara and Kim Kardashian respectively - as trophy wives. Indeed, "Trophy Wife" was the song's working title.
- The Evillious Chronicles: In the song "Gift from the Princess Who Brought Sleep" (representing Sloth in a series about the Seven Deadly Sins), Margarita Blankenheim (played by Hatsune Miku) was this for Kaspar Blankenheim (played by KAITO), a rare case where both characters are roughly the same age. She's a much, much more complex example though—Margarita, being exploited, emotionally abused and cheated on by Kaspar, eventually goes into complete and utter denial and then eventually snaps and kills Kaspar by giving him a poison she claims is a powerful sleeping medicine. Given the fact that Kaspar is a Hate Sink, you'll end up feeling far more sympathy for Margarita...at least until she proceeds to do the same thing to everyone else in her town...
- Tales of Vesperia: Judith can earn the title "Trophy Wife" without having to marry anyone.
Capable, beautiful, charismatic. You are much sought after marriage material.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Chief Burguk of Dushnikh Yal's latest wife, Shel, is dressed in tavern wench clothing and does nothing but walk around. His other two wives, Arob and Gharol, are respectively manning the stronghold's walls and working the forge. Being Orcs, you'd think that being able to either forge steel or use it would be the ultimate trophy wife trait, but apparently Burguk thinks differently.
- Kevin & Kell example is a Visual Pun. In a world of Carnivore Confusion it's common to put stuffed deer heads on a wall of trophies. Cue rich boar and a doe with unusual neckwear.
- Kharisma in Something*Positive tries to be one, but fails when the victim sees through it. One of her equally shallow friends does end up becoming this to Kharisma's father.
- Ashley-Amber from Daria, Brittany's stepmother. A former beer spokeswoman, she met her husband at a photo shoot and is only about ten years older than her stepdaughter. Ashley-Amber seems to be a typical Dumb Blonde, but interestingly, a tie-in book notes that she's been learning about joint property law behind her husband's back.
- Due to how she acts around Fancypants (read: vaguely clingy) Fleur de Lis from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is often seen as one of these.
- Nanette Manoir's mother from Angela Anaconda is implied to be this.
- Kelly from Total Drama: The Ridonculous Race is said to be on by Word of God
- The Fairly Oddparents: At a high school reunion, Cosmo lies to his former classmates by claiming he's a rich guy with a trophy wife. To advance the lie, he hypnotizes Britney Britney into playing the role and makes her wear a name tag that reads "Trophy Wife."
- Lo Ridgemount's mother in Stōked was initially assumed to be this until a flashback in the first season finale reveals that Lo's parents met sometime when they were in high school or college (they either met at rock concert or they used to go to rock concerts when they were dating), before Lo's dad started his successful chain of luxury hotels, implying that she genuinely loves him for more than just his money.
- Played with on Dollhouse. Echo is implanted with the mind of a rich woman who has been murdered, and now wants to discover her own killer. The woman had a young, attractive husband whom she truly loved, but who is now one of the suspects, along with her two adult children. Though most of the clues point to him, it was actually her son, in part because he was jealous of how much she lavished on the husband instead of him.
- Jefferson D'Arcy on Married... with Children is close to this, as his wife seems to care mainly about his looks and willingness to indulge her. He married her hoping to get at her money. He's close but not close enough to permanently prevent her from forcing him to get a job.
- That Was the Year That Was by Tom Lehrer includes a ballad dedicated to Alma Mahler-Werfel, a socialite, who he praises for managing to marry three of the greatest minds of the day and having the raciest obituary he had ever had the pleasure of reading.
- Trace Adkins' song "Marry for Money." Told by a Trophy Husband who doesn't care about love or looks, as long as she's rich.
- In The Simpsons, when Marge became a successful businesswoman, Homer discovers that most of her peers have divorced their Homer-esque first husbands for younger, attractive men, and he begins to fear that Marge will do the same. One of the "trophy husbands" was actually a first husband who had completely made himself over; Homer tries to follow his footsteps.
- Allen Gregory features pretentious jerk Richard being married to a handsome heterosexual trophy husband, Jeremy, whom he stalked and harassed into hooking up with him. Jeremy is forced to stay at home and take care of the house (and accept Richard's sexual advances against his will) in exchange for being taken care of, as well as have Richard finally leave Jeremy's real wife and family alone.