Yuppie is an acronym of young urban professional, which first appeared in the media in 1982, and came to be one of the more characteristic period tropes of The '80s.
Yuppies were the members of the Baby Boom generation who became successful (or at least well-paid) white-collar workers while in their twenties and thirties, usually in finance, law, sales, architecture or management consulting. In the era's Standard Office Setting, yuppies stood out in that they were often young for their rank, typically Workaholics, and obsessively materialist (see below). In the case of yuppie women, this also included such fashion statements as power suits with large shoulder pads, voluminous or slick hair, and work-appropriate makeup that was also heavy and striking.
Outside of the office, yuppies tended to live in pricy—and often gentrified — inner-city apartments or restored older homes. More affluent ones could be classified as Nouveau Riche since they were prone to displays of Conspicuous Consumption but usually of the Simple, yet Opulent variety. Until it became commonplace, the yuppie's most distinctive attribute was the use of the Status Cell Phone; which allowed the yuppie to become a Clock King with a meticulously planned work schedule. As technology marched on, other attributes came to define them, such as trendy physical exercise (including yoga and advanced weight machinery), novelty electronic devices, a Cool Car (usually a BMW or Mercedes), and caffeine addiction, with an elaborate taste for exotic kinds of coffee.
Yuppies grew up in Suburbia as the children of middle-class or working-class parents but had a tendency to distance themselves from their upbringing due to the cultural, political, social, artistic attitudes, and tastes attached to it. A common (but not always applicable) stereotype about yuppies was, in their youth, they rebelled against the materialism and conformity of their parents and joined the 60s counterculture only to later re-enter mainstream society and embrace — to an even greater degree — many of the same moral failings they condemned their parents for indulging in.
Despite their material wealth, it was common in deconstructive works to have yuppies facing failure in their personal lives with such problems as substance abuse, marital strife, or lack of family commitment. Their perceived self-absorption, insufferable trendiness, snobbery, latent class anxiety, smugness, and fixation with making money also made them easy comic targets — if not outright villains — in many works during the 80s and 90s. In a Snobs Vs Slobs conflict, yuppies would definitely be in the former category.
Since they seemed similar upon first glance, it was easy to confuse a yuppie with a preppy. However, there was one key difference between the two: yuppies were new money while preppies were Old Money. There was also some slight overlap between the yuppie and the Self-Made Man except that the latter grew up lower-class in economically stressful circumstances while the former grew up middle-class in comfortably stable surroundings.
The yuppie trope was at its strongest during the 80s and early 90s but is now becoming a Dead Horse Trope with the aging of the Baby Boomer demographic group. By the early 21st century, yuppies evolved into either Bourgeois Bohemians or Hipsters (who are similar but focus more on lifestyle than a career).
- American Psycho: just like its source novel, the film is set in the world of New York investment banking, with most of its characters either affluent and soulless office workers or bohemians. The Villain Protagonist himself is also a possibly fantasizing Serial Killer in his downtime.
- Beetlejuice: The Deetzes, obnoxiously eccentric urban folk with tacky art preferences who move into a nice house in the country, which is still haunted by the ghosts of its' prior inhabitants.
- Kramer vs. Kramer: Arguably an Unbuilt Trope, as the two main characters fulfill the definition of yuppies already in 1979, just before The '80s. The main plot is however not about career, but describes their personal sacrifices, as they divorce and struggle for their son.
- Sam and Molly are yuppies in Ghost (1990). Sam is a Wall Street financier and Molly is a potter, and they live together in Soho, and Sam is murdered because of his friend/co-worker Carl's greedy money laundering scheme.
- Fatal Attraction typified the subgenre occasionally referred to as "yuppies in peril". Dan is an example of a yuppie who has (in theory) chosen family life, as a Manhattan lawyer who lives in a refurbished suburban house with his young daughter and stay-at-home wife. Dan uses his city, corporate existence to sleep with Alex Forrest. She lives in a swanky, gentrified apartment, and she is an apparently happily single, independent publishing executive (and she's a huge fan of shoulder pads). Except her supposedly "bohemian", openminded lifestyle is actually a front because she goes absolutely crazy in her pursuit of Dan's suburban lifestyle.
- I Come in Peace has The White Boys, a gang of yuppie drug dealers. Then again as the movie involves a space alien harvesting humans for their endorphins, we're probably not meant to take this concept too seriously.
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: The Griswolds' contemptuous next-door neighbors, Todd and Margo, are yuppies who often suffer collateral damage caused by the many misfortunes Clark creates during the film. However, they are both so shallow, smug, self-absorbed, and hipper-than-though (they find Christmas "dirty and messy and corny and cliched"), that it's hard to feel sorry for them.
- Reality Bites: Michael is a young, successful go-getter who wears suits and has his life in order. He's a foil of Troy, who is much smarter than Michael, but a directionless drop-out.
- In Vampire's Kiss, Nicholas Cage plays a young, affluent literary agent in '80's New York who balances out his business days with hedonistic nights filled with casual sex. His character then comes to believe he's turned into a vampire, a metaphor for the predatory nature of capitalism and the yuppie class.
- Wall Street is arguably the Trope Codifier, where the younger yuppies in their 20s are drones to a Corrupt Corporate Executive, Gordon Gekko, who's an older yuppie around 40.
- The antagonist in Wayne's World is Benjamin, a handsome young TV executive with a swanky apartment in the big city, a cool car, and good taste in wine and suits. He goes up against the slobby metalhead protagonists for creative control of their TV show and the love of Cassandra.
- Working Girl is an archetypal yuppie film, about the warfare that breaks out between a lower-class secretary, Tess, who poses as her (young, corrupt) "head of mergers and acquisitions" boss while she's out sick with a broken leg.
- The Wolf of Wall Street deals with the life of crooked Wall Street broker Jordan Belfort and portrays him as the embodiment of the worst of Yuppie greed as he trains his employees to sell bogus stocks while being fueled by a healthy diet of hookers and cocaine.
- My Best Friends Exorcism: As a dark Affectionate Parody of all things '80s, Gretchen's parents are yuppies. It's never made clear what they do, but they are noticeably younger than Abby's (poor) parents, are religious Republicans who live in a huge house in Charlestown, and have enough money to take Gretchen and Abby on vacation.
- These Words Are True and Faithful: When Ernie first looks up Sam's apartment building, he sees that it is "marketed to young professionals, within walking distance of both the gayborhood and the main campus of Uxbridge University, well-appointed, and not cheap." Later, when Ernie writes his personal ad to find someone different from Sam, he specifies, "No workaholics, yuppies, or college students."
- We Need to Talk About Kevin (book-only). Eva and Franklin are yuppies, which Kevin senses by calling Franklin "Mr. Plastic." Although published in the early 00s, it is set in the mid-1990s and takes place around the 80s. Eva runs a travel company from when she's young, and Franklin sets up his own materials business and they live in New York City, which Eva loves until Franklin pressures her to move out to the suburbs when she's pregnant. The teacher who would later be murdered by their son Kevin even says that she thinks the problem of Kevin and the other kids is that they are extremely comfortable and have nothing to rebel against.
- The characters on thirtysomething were textbook examples of Baby Boomers who were part of the counterculture during the'60s and yuppies during the '80s.
- Cheers: The occasional yuppie shows up. When the diner above Cheers, Melville's, gets a new owner, Cheers becomes flooded with yuppie run-offs, including a yuppie version of Norm. Frasier and Lilith socialize within yuppie circles, though Lilith herself takes exception to being referred to as such (Frasier dryly suggesting she can rip out his tongue and serve it on a fajita if he does it again).
- Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses wanted to project the image of a yuppie, because he thought that since yuppies were successful businessmen, if he became one, he would also become a successful businessman. He failed to take into account that yuppies' work involves six-figure sums, while his street-trading business had trouble reaching five figures.
- The Meachums from Iron Fist (2017) all have the look and feel of the typical '80's yuppie. They are a rich family that run Rand Enterprises with the Rand Family gone (until Danny shows up, alive and well). Both Harold and his son Ward wear three-piece suits and combed-over hair that fits the look and are different flavors of Corrupt Corporate Executive.
- Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties is a yuppie who's still in high school and has dreams of working on Wall Street when he grows up (which he ultimately does). As an outspoken conservative free-marketeer, he frequently butts heads with his more liberal parents, both of them former '60s activists.
- The song "Yuppie Drone" by The Pheromones is a satiric review of all the annoying characteristics and cliches that made yuppies so hated during the 80s and 90s.
- Dave Barry made a lot of jokes at the expense of the yuppies during the 80s and 90s:
- Paul E. Dangerously was nicknamed "the Psycho Yuppie" for a reason. He was basically what would happen if Gordon Gekko were a pro wrestling manager, right down to having a brick-sized '80s cell phone on him at all times.
- Benny from RENT. He is literally referred to as "yuppie scum" by his former friends and sports a preppy sweater.
- Futurama parodied this trope mercilessly in "Futurestock" with That Guy, a typical '80s corporate raider who had been cryogenically frozen when he was in his 30s. He dresses in an expensive suit with suspenders, has a cell phone seemingly attached to his hand, is obsessed with the latest trends and gadgets, works in finance, and thinks greed is a virtue. He eventually takes over Planet Express and grooms Fry in the yuppie lifestyle, acting like the eighties hadn't ended a thousand and ten years before, only to end up dying of the very disease he was frozen for because he had been too busy "being an eighties guy" to get cured.