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File:Scrooge in Mickeys Christmas Carol 7470.jpg

Traditionally, misers are portrayed in media as grasping, penny-pinching people who live in squalor and who never spend money despite being quite wealthy. Some are businessmen, some are loan sharks, moneylenders and Morally Bankrupt Bankers, some are pawnbrokers, some are lawyers... but regardless of how they made their money, The Scrooge is sitting on a pile of it. But getting him to spend it is... problematic to say the least.

In real life, many rich people became rich in the first place by saving their money and spending only the minimum they needed to, and by only putting their money where it was guaranteed to make them more. Not all wealthy people in real life are like this, but it is worth noting that this is where the image of stereotypical misers came from. It is also worth noting that some of history's biggest misers started out wealthy.

In previous eras, it was common to portray pretty much all Jewish characters like this. The Scottish were traditionally subject to this stereotype as well. And in Germany, it's the Swabian people.

Sometimes overlaps with Grumpy Old Man. See also Mr. Vice Guy, a trope that heroic-leaning Scrooges also qualify as.

Not to be confused with The Grinch, even though the namer for this trope also hated Christmas.

Examples of The Scrooge include:


Comic Books

  • In Maus, Vladek Spiegelman is incredibly miserly. His son wonders what people will make of a person who is advancing that particular stereotype about Jews.
  • Scrooge McDuck, pictured above, is as big a skinflint as his namesake... though that doesn't mean he's not an admirable member of the Non-Idle Rich.
  • Cenile from De Cape et de Crocs. His son's servant has seen L Avare and tries the same trick - asking for gold for the life of his son, supposedly kidnapped by Turks. In the play, Harpagon did pay, with much tears. Cenile refuses.

Film

  • In Trading Places, Randolph and Mortimer Duke, despite being multi-millionaires, hand out "Christmas bonuses" of $5 to their employees and make wagers that ruin other people's lives all over a stake of $1.
  • Mister Potter, from It's a Wonderful Life.

Literature

  • Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, is the Trope Namer. In addition to being a tight-fisted miser, he's a cold-hearted, selfish man, who despises anything that engenders happiness. It takes three ghosts to do it, but he gets better.
  • In Wolf's Brother by Megan Lindholm, the wedding gifts from the richer members of the tribe were far less generous than the poorer members.
  • David Sedaris' essay The Great Leap Forward details his working as a personal assistant for an eccentric, wealthy heiress who had a small publishing company. Though loaded, she acted like money embarrassed her and would haggle and be stingy as though she had nothing.
  • The titular character from George Eliot's Silas Marner is an unpleasant, misanthropic skinflint at the beginning of the story. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, he gets better.
  • Shylock, from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, is one of the best (or worst, depending) examples of the "traditional incarnations" of this trope.
  • Harpagon, the main character in L'Avare (The Miser) by Molière (to the extent that "un harpagon" is practically synonymous with "un avare", ie "a miser.")
  • Euclion in Plaute's Aulularia, making it Older Than Feudalism.
  • Mr. Banks in The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel).
  • Plyushkin in Dead Souls. He owns several hundred souls, but lives as cheap as a beggar. Chichikov, the protagonist, also doesn't like giving away money.
  • Séraphin Poudrier from the French-Canadian novel Un homme et son péché[1] and its many adaptations in other media. His name is the Québécois equivalent of Scrooge or Harpagon, though it is normally used as an adjective rather than a noun ("être séraphin" = to be avaricious).

Live Action TV

Music

Radio

  • Jack Benny used this trope for comedic effect on his radio show (and later, his television show) to the point that his fans came to assume he was a miser in real life. On the contrary, he was actually a kind, generous, and very giving man.

 Robber: Your money or your life.

(pause)

Robber: I said, your money or your life!

Jack Benny: I'm Thinking It Over!

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Montgomery Burns, from The Simpsons, is the very definition of this trope.

  Mr Burns: Anybody have change for a button?

  • Mister Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants is a miser with a heart of... well, not gold, but certainly bronze...
    • Possibly tin. Or some other metal common enough to make pawning it off not quite worth the effort.

Real Life

  • Hetty Green, thought to have been the richest woman in the world at the time of her death in 1916, and the first woman to make a substantial impact on Wall Street, is considered to be one of the biggest misers in American history. Despite being worth over $200 million (that's $3.8 billion in 2009 dollars), she refused to heat her home because she hated to "waste money on frivolities", owned only one dress at a time (and only replaced it when it wore out beyond the ability to sew back together), and lived in pain most of her life because she refused to spend $150 on a hernia operation. When her son Ned broke his leg as a child, Mrs. Green tried to have him admitted to a hospital charity ward. When she was recognized, she stormed away vowing to treat the wounds herself. The leg contracted gangrene and had to be amputated.
  • Billionaire industrialist Andrew Carnegie is rightly viewed as a philanthropist, having set up many charitable institutions in his lifetime. In his personal life, though, Carnegie was the very epitome of this trope. His clothing, food, and furnishings were always the least expensive he could find, he had a habit of giving single dimes as tips to railroad porters and waiters, and followed a policy of never giving gifts.
  • It has often been commented upon by people who work for the various charitable institutions that the less affluent tend to give more (based on a percentage of income) than the wealthy.
    • Door-to-door charity collectors call some wealthy neighborhoods "Steep-And-Cheaps" because the rich love to live in hilly areas. Donations tend to be very sparse in such neighborhoods.
    • The same goes for streets full of big money law firms.
  • Oil baron H.L. Hunt was at one time the wealthiest man in Dallas, but he drove a twenty year old Ford and bought lunch every day at a nickel taco stand.
  • John Roebling is the engineer who designed the Brooklyn Bridge. Once, while he was away on business, his wife wrote him to tell him that she had given birth to a daughter, and he wrote her back to chide her for wasting perfectly good ink on such trivial nonsense. When his foot was mangled in an industrial accident and his toes had to be amputated, he went through the surgery without anesthesia because he thought it would cost too much. He had also calculated how much money he had spent raising each of his children, and in his will docked their inheritance accordingly.
  • Ingvar Kamprand, the founder of IKEA, is among the richest men in the world, but drives around in his old Volvo. He also took a bus to a grand opening of a new IKEA in Russia. This could all be an image that he has built up of himself though.

Notes

  1. (lit. "A man and his sin")
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