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Worst day ever. Bobby's parents have died in a terrible freak accident that has him living in an empty house. It is up to the author, however, to decide whether life will be sunshine and puppies, or downright gruesome. Depends on the point of the story.

In a more realistic setting, Bobby will not go on an adventure. Instead, he will be forced to live life like the rest of the townspeople. Because the world is evil, Bobby will not be sent to the Orphanage of Love, nor will some kindly old couple take him home because of his cute little stare. After all, Social Services Does Not Exist.

So now we get to the trope. Remember that house in which Bobby has been living since his parents died? That's his new abode. But there is no way that Bobby, a child, could pay for the water, the food, the drinks, the crazy weekend parties and the taxes, right? Bobby isn't even old enough for a job!

This is where the road will fork:

Type 1:

  • He probably shouldn't worry about the situation. No problem, he's an orphan, right? The cereal in the cupboard will restock itself and the letter carrier will skip over his house when the taxes are due. The Internet will work cost-free and his boombox will still impress the ladies come Sunday night.

Type 2:

  • In a wonderful twist of fate, some awesome, wealthy, kind person or organization who may or may not have known Bobby's parents has decided to pay for all of Bobby's expenses! In fact, the orphans may even gain help through inheritance.

Type 3:

  • Worst case scenario: In a brutal take on Truth in Television, Bobby will be forced to somehow pay for all his expenses by working, whether it be stealing or factory work, or whatever.

Because these scenarios seem to set off the Fridge Logic sensors in viewers' brains, barely any Type 1 examples are left these days. Typically, Type 1 will occur for part of a story until it is later explained that someone is taking care of the orphans.

Since Type 1 can only be determined after a series has ended (and the economic stability has been left open-ended or largely forgotten by the author), please refrain from listing examples under Type 1 until the work has been finished.

May overlap with Undead Tax Exemption.

Sorting through The Other Wiki's list of notable literary orphans (at the bottom), other tropers can probably help expand this article, so if you've read any of those stories, sort the orphans.

Examples of Rules of Orphan Economics include:

Type 1:

  • Sailor Jupiter in Sailor Moon. Fanon often presumes a parental trust fund, but there was no mention of same in the show or comic.
  • After Joyce's death in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Buffy's Promotion to Parent, Buffy does not work a paying job but still somehow manages to pay the bills. Her financial concerns later become plot points in season 6, though.
    • It's mentioned in season 6 that Joyce had a life Insurance policy. It was mostly eaten up by medical bills, but only 'mostly', thus explaining where the money comes from in Season 5.
    • And from Giles. And presumably the almost-Disappeared Dad is paying Dawn's child support. And Willow and Tara live there (but Tara has no means of support either, so....)
  • Peter Pan

Type 2:

  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, it is eventually revealed that Irie is taking care of Satoko and Rika and the two are technically under the custody of the village chief Kimiyoshi. It is left unexplained for most of the series until then.
  • In Naruto, the fourth Hokage's dying request was that the village take care of his son.
    • This one might be justifiable: A village whose economy is based on soldiers of both sexes must have some solid program for orphans. If nothing else, orphans are easier to train into Tykebombs, since they have no family attachments. Sai is a great example.
  • Obliquely touched on in Gunnerkrigg Court. By enrolling his daughter Antimony at the Court prior to his disappearance, Anthony Carver had insured that she would be provided for, since the Court has no tuition fees and provides for all the students' needs. All of them.
    • As if the Court would let a descendant of a fire elemental and a potential medium go anywhere else.
  • Harry Potter has the Dursleys providing a roof over his head, and his parents' money for expenses in the magical world.
  • Young Candi Flippo. However, not having money problems means she has to worry about plenty of other things: like a psychopath boyfriend in grade school or aliens that want to carve her like a pumpkin.
  • The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. The Other Wiki article says her father "...made plans to allow Rynn to live alone...", presumably including financial matters.
  • Bruce Wayne is supported by Wayne Enterprises (which he will eventually run) when his parents are killed in a mugging, and is given a foster mother as a caretaker. Robin (or at least Dick Grayson) is taken in, in turn, by Bruce.
  • Little Orphan Annie, the defining example of type 2.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's , Hayate Yagami's source of funds is brushed off as a wealthy friend of her late parents. In reality, it is a rogue TSAB Admiral waiting for her to become one with the Book of Darkness in hopes of trapping it before too much of the world gets lain waste to.
    • In StrikerS, it was established early on that Fate had been providing for Erio and Caro before they enlisted.
  • Shirou in Fate/stay night is being taken care of by... well, a yakuza head, who was a friend of his father. The Yakuza head's sweet granddaughter drops by every now and then to make sure he hasn't got into any trouble as he lives in his dad's giant sweet mansion, but he's still an entirely emancipated minor. Shirou, however, has a streak of independence which makes him keep the entire giant mansion clean all by himself, with only one of his younger female classmates coming by to help. The sweet granddaughter, despite being sweet, is no help, instead sponging off of him to devour his great homemade meals. Shirou also maintains an income by fixing up the Yakuza head's motorcycle and keeping up with three different part-time jobs. In times of need, however, Shirou can ask for a maid from the Yakuza head to keep his house in order.
  • In the case of Pippi Longstocking, you wonder about this at first, until you realize that she actually has a whole pile of pirate gold on hand to pay for the things she needs. (And, a lot of the time, she has no idea of the actual value of the gold she's slapping down for trivial things like ice cream.)

Type 3:

  • Hilariously done in The Sims. The children are literally unable to do anything about the taxes or get money.
    • Not quite, kids can paint pictures and sell them. This troper once made a family of all children and put them to work at the easels to pay for everything.
  • In Onegai Twins. Maiku makes his money as a freelance, work-from-home programmer. (His employers are unaware that he's a minor.) The girls' source of livelihood, though, is never mentioned.
    • At first they're freeloading, Maiku even makes a point out of it when stating that they're poor because he had parasites, they later get a part-time job.
  • Nobody Knows by Hirokazu Kore-Eda: Four children are abandoned by their irresponsible mother, and are on their own in an apartment in which food and other supplies are slowly running out. With no money, they must resort to various means to find food and keep up a pretense of normality (not that anyone seems to care, hence the title). Not all of them make it. Unfortunately, based on a true story.
  • Billy Batson, the world's youngest full-time radio presenter.
  • In the British newspaper strip The Perishers, Wellington is an orphan who lives with his dog Boot, initially in a large concrete pipe in an abandoned factory yard, later in a closed railway station. It's never explained how the two of them survive, but the implication is that they live on handouts from Wellington's friends, plus Boot's theft of the occasional string of sausages.
  • A Little Princess is type 3 turns type 2.
  • Grave of the Fireflies is a pretty good example of a type 3. And then It Gets Worse.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew has Bu-ling, the Kid Appeal Character of the group. She is eight years old when the series begins and, though only her mom's dead, her dad has gone off to train in the mountains and left her with five younger siblings to care for and a dojo to run — but she's dirt poor, knows it, and has to perform in the street to pay the bills. Even when she's given a job at Cafe Mew Mew, she continues to perform — sometimes even during work to entice the customers to give her tips — and has to count her change to see if she can buy a bottle of ketchup. The anime had a filler episode revealing that her father apparently arranged for her to be engaged to a grown man, with the implication that it was only set up to legally allow her to keep the house.
  • Recettear is type 3, but with a good amount of adventuring involved as well.
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's Michael O'Halloran, Mickey. Then, given the time frame, children worked then. He was working even before his mother's death, and she had carefully prepared him to live on his own.