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"I just threw away a brand-new top-of-the-line motorcycle in the middle of the street because I didn't feel like pushing it half a block to the garage. I am on an expense account that would blow your mind."—Hiro Protagonist, Snow Crash
An Arbitrarily-Large Bank Account is simply described as hacking one's handy-dandy horn of plenty into one's pocketbook.
Symptoms of this trope may include:
- Employees receiving blank checks
- Bribes being given in the form of blank checks.
- Debit cards that allow you to withdraw unprintable amounts of money.
- The ability to buy large properties on a whim.
- Maintaining large facilities without any visible income.
- And/or rebuilding expensive bases that seem to get blown up all the time.
Unfortunate side effects may include:
- Sudden and unexplained bankruptcy for dramatic effect.
- Government spooks sniffing around when you withdraw unprintable amounts of money.
- The excessive purchase of useless tchotchkies.
- Starting insane DIY projects.
- And/or attempting to buy happiness.
Compare the Fiction 500.
Anime and Manga
- In Mens Love, Daigo's father has his mooks give Kaoru a blank cheque, to be filled with any sum he likes so long as he ends his relationship with Daigo. He is apparently unaware that money can't buy you love.
- The Senpuuji Corporation from The Brave Express Might Gaine.
- The Sohma family in Fruits Basket have absurd amounts of money. Exactly how the money is spread amongst the incredibly large family is never made certain, but most of the Sohmas are able to afford very good schools, expensive vacation outings, and replacing walls that get destroyed during fights. It's justified given that a number of family members own highly successful businesses, and that it's implied that there's some family fortune.
- Tony Stark from Iron Man seems to have one of these.
- Rich Enterprises of the Richie Rich comic books.
- Bruce Wayne can be this at times. At least he is rich enough that he can spend money like water on his superhero persona, donate millions to charity, and sometimes fund the entire Justice League while still maintaining a playboy lifestyle. He's also channeled millions (possibly billions) in technology from Wayne Enterprises, and still managed to hide the missing money in the margins.
- In the Young Justice comic Robin arranges for a Batmobile to be shipped across the country. His teammates are amazed at this expenditure (the car and managing to transport it secretly). Robin replies that he hid the costs in "the Batarang budget." If the Batarang budget by itself is (at minimum) six figures, Batman is a really Rich Idiot With No Day Job.
- In Steelgrip Starkey And The All-Purpose Power Tool, Mr. Pilgrim, the mysterious president behind Star Key Enterprises, appears to have one of these. The employees are provided with a New York City apartment suite, a private jet,
costumesuniforms, and anything else they need without any concern for expenses. Justified because the entire effort is run by a group of Cosmic Entities who can use magic to provide whatever funds are needed.
- Scrooge McDuck, being the richest man/duck in the world, seems to have however much money he needs at any time, with the exception of the above-mentioned dramatic bankruptcy moments. He always gets it all back, of course. And yes, Scrooge has done plenty of the stuff on the list, especially insane DIY-projects, buying properties on a whim and giving blank checks (when he's not being a grouchy hoarder, as he usually is). Scrooge's fortune does' sometimes get a specific value placed on it, but it's always so impossibly large than it might as well be written as "infinite". Indeed, one story revolved around Scrooge's fortune being so large that it would actually be physically impossible for him to spend it all because he owns everything.
- Except cane factories.
- Saito in Inception has one, justified given that he's head of the #2 energy conglomerate on Earth. When faced with the challenge of infiltrating a jetliner, he uses the expediting power of cash:
Eames: We'll need to buy out the whole first class section and the flight attendant.
Saito: I bought the airline. Everybody turns and stares at him. Saito looks uncomfortable under the stares. Saito: It seemed neater.
- Played straight in Star Wars with The Empire. Can you imagine exactly how much it would cost to build not one but two moon-sized, hyperspace capable battle stations?
- "That thing wasn't even fully paid off yet! Do you have any idea what this is going to do to my credit? [...] Oh, oh, just rebuild it? Really f***ing original! And who's going to give me a loan, jackhole? You? You got an ATM on your torso Lite-Brite?"
- Not to mention the 25,000 1.6 km long imperial star destroyers or the equipment of an unknown number of millions if not billions of stormtroopers. And those are just the most iconic parts of the imperial military...
- Admittedly, they have the wealth of a galaxy-spanning empire. Even a minor developed planet could produce billions of credits (if only in raw materials), and the cost to build a Death Star can be spread across thousands of systems of the more developed systems. Supposedly, the Second Death Star had pretty much available resource of the Empire thrown at it, but there's a difference between building a moon-sized construct in twenty years, and building it in two.
- Parodied in Small Soldiers: during the aftermath of the toys' rampage, Bill Mars keeps everyone quiet by having his secretary go around printing checks with unspecified ammounts of money.
Stuart: Not even you have enough money to make up for all this...[gets check]...OK...I guess you do...
- He's implied to be a major military supplier, presumably with a government contract, if his company can afford to design AI chips and smart missiles.
- Crassus essentially fills this role of Julius Caesar in Conn Iggulden's Emperor novels, funding Caesar's legion and a good chunk of his consul campaign. Justified in that Crassus is the richest man in Rome, and is shown to be extremely careful with money.
- This drives a good deal of the plot in The Count of Monte Cristo. Edmond Dantes uses his enormous treasure horde to ludicrous purposes, including buying his own bank, and thereby forcing his enemy Danglars to extend him unlimited credit, ultimately ruining him.
- The Drak Hunters are subject to this. Being paid in literaly mountains of gold and jewels.
- Flinx of the Humanx Commonwealth universe has this perk after he assists the Ulru-Ujurrians in Orphan Star. After he gives them the gift of civilization, the innocent, yet exponentially intelligent aliens reward Flinx by building him a Cool Starship and pulling some trickery with Commonwealth banking records to give him effectively unlimited wealth. Being decidedly unostentatious by nature, he uses the cash mainly to bribe inconvenient authorities.
- Ender Wiggin in the Speaker For The Dead series. A combination of a generous military pension, a superintelligent AI controlling his investments, and three thousand years of accumulated earnings have made his wealth effectively unlimited. When he needs to get somewhere without shuttle service, he buys a cargo ship for 90 billion dollars (which is apparently "not even a drop in the bucket"), and gives away the cargo. It's noteworthy that he leads a very simple life, and only cares how much money he has when he needs it to accomplish his mission.
- The Cullen family of Twilight takes this to ridiculous levels, owing to Alice using her ability to predict the future to play the stock market successfully. Over the course of the series, we see that they purchase a vast number of extremely expensive cars, a large house, an x-ray machine, and an island.
- In The Merchant of Venice, Portia has an inheritance like this. While the rest of the cast is falling over themselves trying to pay back Antonio's bond to Shylock, when Bassanio tells Portia about the bond, her reaction is "Six thousand ducats? Is that all? Here, give Antonio the money. No, have twice as much. You know what? Just to be on the safe side, let's triple it."
- In Robert Asprin's Phules Company series, the main character hands someone a credit card, and it is noted that that particular 'level' (gold, silver, platinum, etc) of credit card is usually used for the purchase of entire corporations.
Live Action TV
- In Torchwood, it seems that Torchwood has an unlimited bank account, and it is mentioned several times through the series how each of the members have had a significant pay increase over their old jobs. It seems that they all have rather nice places, and large amounts of spare cash since starting with Torchwood.
Gwen: We get our paychecks straight from The Crown, when I got my first I couldn't believe it - I had to hide the extra money from my boyfriend.
- The Doctor gives unlimited credit to a companion in the Doctor Who episode "The Long Game". He's told to keep out of trouble. Yeah, right.
- Both averted and played straight in Sanctuary. When the newbie to the team asks if there is a health plan, and Amanda Tapping's character says no. (Granted, the organisation is headed by probably the best doctor in the world with medical contacts in every corner of the globe, so it's entirely possible their health plan is simply "Dr Helen Magnus". Also, the Sanctuary has enough resources to purchase a lot of new medical equipment, and pay the taxes and upkeep costs for a castle. Given that they always get help for any injuries or illnesses that occur, possibly they don't have a designed health plan because they'd have to write "Covers anything. Like, anything at all that could or could not happen to anyone, human or otherwise."
- This is a critical component of the season 4 episode "Untouchables", when the United Nations Security Council attache tries to blackmail Helen into stepping down from her position and turning the sanctuary over to UN control by threatening to cut off her funds. She promptly tells him to take a flying leap, then reveals that she has money "hidden in places [the attache] doesn't even know exist" and that she manipulated him into cutting them off for good so the Sanctuary could do its job independent of any kind of bureaucratic oversight. Whew!
- The Addams Family. No matter what zany, impossible, or downright idiotic scheme Gomez invests in, he always comes out willing to invest in the next ridiculous idea. Whether or not he actually makes money from these investments is questionable. The Addamses are rich/crazy enough that one year they decided to go to the moon for their family vacation.
- In The Movie, we get a fleeting glimpse of just how much wealth they have. Gordon accidentally activates a rotating section of the vault to reveal a Scrooge McDuck-caliber money pit, about as wide as an Olympic swimming pool, several swimming pools long, and who knows how deep. And it's most likely filled with gold doubloons, as evidenced by Gomez paying Tully's expenses by shovelling them into his briefcase. For comparison, all the gold ever mined throughout human history in real life wouldn't quite fill a single Olympic swimming pool. Also, consider the construction cost of the vault plus the subterranean canal leading up to it plus the slide system leading down to the canal.
- Whether it was intentional or not, Mulder of The X-Files comes off this way. It's implied that he comes from a wealthy family, though never explicity said so. He grew up on Martha's Vineyard, his parents owned a summer house in Rhode Island, he went to Oxford for college, and "rents" a Congressman for his own purposes. Through the series, he's able to do things that are just not feasible on an FBI agent's salary--like travel to Antarctica and rent a Snow Cat. He is also nonplussed every time he is fired from the bureau, saying he would simply continue his work in the paranormal without their help. He is also able to go into hiding during the final season, and concern for money is never shown.
- Charlie Crews on Life received a settlement of undisclosed size due to his wrongful imprisonment. In addition to the standard Big Fancy House and Cool Cars, he uses it to buy things like orange groves (on a whim) and solar farms (after having a dream about it).
- Mr. Finch on Person of Interest. Nobody knows precisely how rich he is beyond his billionaire status being known, but it does appear that he has a whopping great amount of money at his disposal.
- In a real life example, Ted Turner was such a huge fan of wrestling, he essentially handed WCW a blank check, and vowed to keep it alive as long as he was able. Unfortunately, not having anybody to report to left WCW grossly mismanaged. Several WCW vets remembered getting empty boxes Fed-Exed to their homes, and being mailed checks made out for $0.00. They also had dozens of people on the payroll that never did anything (and many of whom they forgot were under contract.) Of course, this hemorrhaging of money is what led WCW to crash and burn in 2001.
- Early in Leisure Suit Larry 2, Larry wins the lottery, meaning he'll get one million dollars per year for the rest of his life. He initially receives a one million dollar bill. It's useless until you can get it broken down into bill form, but after that you have effectively infinite money. Of course, by the end of the game, you'll have spent most of it on junk, lost the remainder, and the lottery went bankrupt.
- Petey the Fleetmind from Schlock Mercenary has a team of accountants whose job it is to count the accountants who keep track of his accountants.
- When asked how exactly Doc pays for the frequent shop rebuildings and massive amounts of damage done by his projects, the only answer he's ever given is DARPA.
- The SCP Foundation averts this and and plays it straight. It's heavily implied they have a steady stream of cash thanks to several SCPs (and thus, can build things like moon bases or secret military-grade bases), but wasting resources is frowned upon, and the Foundation tries to be as utilitarian and cheap as possible when dealing with containment in the name of not wasting cash. Several doctors have been reprimanded for wasting said money. Maybe even demoted to D-Class.
- KaibaCorp is this trope played straight in Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series. Seto Kaiba has no trouble at all supplying himself with helicopters, planes that look like dragons, underground computer systems, and at one point he just buys his own Duel Monsters tournament. Why does he do all that? Because he's "obscenely rich". No wonder he's the Trope Namer for Screw the Rules, I Have Money.
- The Zeta Project had Zeta's unlimited credit card. The implication is that he taps into the federal government's accounts, and we all know (especially since this is the future) how much they can spare.
- Actually he states he is able to "create" as much money as he needs, so he has no limit.
- Usually when Dr. Drakken meets Kim Possible it ends with his lair being destroyed, but he never has any trouble having it repaired or using another. In the episode "Ron Millionaire" he bemoans his money trouble, just as Kim's sidekick Ron receives an implausibly large royalty check.
- No mention is ever made of how Phineas and Ferb can pay for their insanely ambitious projects; presumably, they can find a fix for that just as easily as they can build a ski resort in the backyard. Doofenshmirtz never seems short of funds for his evil plans either; it's mentioned he gets alimony from his ex-wife and presumably his corporation makes money for him too.
- Fry on Futurama discovers he has one of these at one point due to the power of a thousand years of compound interest. Of course, he spends it all on near-extinct anchovies by the end of the episode.
- It's unlikely that the interest would have kept pace with inflation. Ignoring that, Fry's bank account is large, but it's clearly not enough to be on par with, say, Mom's.
- In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Mr. Whitmore alone funds the entire Atlantis exploration mission, including a full crew of "the best of the best" and a ton of hi-tech submarines and drilling equipment. All to fulfill a promise made to Milo's grandfather!
- Mostly banks and countries, but even then if they spend hard enough things will end up biting them in the end. At the very least someone will notice the wealth being thrown around and take advantage of it.
- In a country where the government monopolizes the production and flow of money via a central bank and the money it produces is backed by nothing other than the promise that the government will take it away from you again after you worked to earn it (fiat currency) then you literally have this. Need another trillion dollars? Just print it! The problem is that when people are unable to produce goods and earn the money then it quickly loses is backing value and turns from money to worthless paper via hyperinflation.
- Frequently subverted when people who've always been poor suddenly come into a lot of money, lottery winners being the best example. Millions of dollars seems like an unspendably large amount, but when you spend and/or give away without caution, it's amazing how fast fortunes can be lost.