Many would think of authors as having limitless imaginations. We can imagine amazing futures, fantastical worlds, utopias, dystopias, magics, stuff that we call science that is actually just more magic, but we can’t imagine a rich person as wealthy as actual rich people.
That’s right when it came to thinking of massive piles of money that a fictional character would go swimming through, it didn’t amount to as much money as our actual wealthiest people.
- Scrooge McDuck – $65.4 billion
- Smaug – $54.1 billion
- Carlisle Cullen – $46.0 billion
- Tony Stark – $12.4 billion
- Charles Foster Kane – $11.2 billion
- Bruce Wayne – $9.2 billion
- Richie Rich – $5.8 billion
- Christian Grey – $2.2 billion
- Tywin Lannister – $1.8 billion
- C. Montgomery Burns – $1.5 billion
- Walden Schmidt – $1.3 billion
- Lara Croft – $1.3 billion
- Mr Monopoly – $1.2 billion
- Lady Mary Crawley – $1.1 billion
- Jay Gatsby – $1.0 billion (Source: Fictional 15, 2013) Total = $215.5 billion
Let’s compare that to the real-life Richie McRiches.
- Jeff Bezos – $131 billion
- Bill Gates – $96.5 billion
- Warren Buffett – $82.5 billion
- Bernard Arnault (and family) – $76 billion
- Carlos Slim Helu (and family) – $64 billion
- Amancio Ortega – $62.7 billion
- Larry Ellison – $62.5 billion
- Mark Zuckerberg – $62.3 billion
- Michael Bloomberg – $55.5 billion
- Larry Page – $50.8 billion
- Charles ‘f@#k the environment’ Koch – $50.5 billion
- David ‘f@#k poor people’ Koch – $50.5 billion
- Mukesh Ambani – $50 billion
- Sergey Brin – $49.8 billion
- Francoise Bettencourt Meyers (and family) – $49.3 billion (Source) Total = $993.9 billion
On the fictional list, we have a literal 350-year-old blood-sucking parasite who had several lifetimes to accumulate his wealth. Another is the image we conjure up when we think of rich people. One character even has rich in his name twice. Yet for all of their billions, they aren’t matching it with the real-life billionaires.
It says something that the richest fictional character has half as much money as the richest man in the real world. And the total worth of the Top 15s couldn’t be more different. All of the world’s authors couldn’t come up with a list of the wealthiest characters with as much money as their real-life counterparts ($215 vs $994 billion!!).
But the worst part is the real-life billionaires. Do we see Jeff Bezos swimming in a giant vault of money? Does he even own a giant vault? What type of pathetic billionaire is he? Too busy stopping his workers unionising to enjoy a swim in his money is what he is. Bill Gates has not once tried to scare dwarves away from his mountain of gold, on the plus side, he isn’t a gold hoarding dragon. And will we ever see the Warren Buffet spanking a college newspaper reporter sex tape, and will that be hotter than the 50 Shades of Grey movies?
What about superheroes? Zuckerberg isn’t donning a cowl and fighting crime, he’s too busy selling elections. Tony Stark was fighting to save the planet, the Koch brothers only seem to have time to see the planet burn. Would it kill them both – or at least one more – to try to build an arc reactor?
Authors may not be able to imagine ridiculous levels of wealth for their characters, but billionaires seem equally unable to imagine doing something worthwhile with their billions.