TV Characters Way Too Poor To Realistically Afford Their Lifestyles

Over 23.0K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of TV Characters Way Too Poor To Realistically Afford Their Lifestyles
Voting Rules
Vote up the television characters who can't possibly afford to live the way they do based on their occupations.

When you're sitting through the best TV shows to speed watch, it’s natural to suspend disbelief. So when a TV character obviously can't afford the beautiful home they live in, you may not notice at first. After all, you’re basically taking a short break from real life to enjoy the drama of fictional characters, so you don’t necessary expect their lives to be 100% realistic. There are plenty of cases where characters are obviously bad at their jobs, such as fictional TV writers who are terrible at writing, and no one bats an eye.

But sometimes, screenwriters and creators push things way too far, especially when it comes to practical stuff like explaining how characters can manage to live in high-cost neighborhoods and buy expensive clothes when they’re supposed to be struggling with cash. How can Carrie Bradshaw afford to live in Manhattan while all she does is write a weekly column, for crying out loud? It can be frustrating to watch a TV character who is supposed to be poor sport a designer jacket while living in a spacious loft in Brooklyn like it’s no big deal. TV creators sometimes come up with a gimmick that explains their lavish lifestyle, which usually involves a spectacular apartment being rent controlled (as if).

Honestly, seeing your favorite characters struggling to make rent while sipping pricey cocktails, having extensive wardrobes, and brunching like there’s no tomorrow is distracting and can rob you of the pleasure of truly enjoying the show. If you can’t go out and blow your entire paycheck on fancy shoes and a lavish night out, console yourself with the fact that some of your favorite characters would be financially ruined in reality. Then check out this list and vote up the TV characters who shouldn't be able to afford their lifestyles.

Most divisive: Lorelai Gilmore

  • 1
    11,994 VOTES
    Carrie Bradshaw
    Photo: HBO

    TV Show: SATC

    Okay, so a lot of ink was spilled over this one. Carrie is a columnist for a weekly newspaper who basically only writes four articles per month, but somehow can afford to live in a fancy Manhattan apartment, buy tons of designer clothes, and wear Manolo Blahniks. While the show did devote an entire episode to Carrie’s disastrous finances, it’s a mystery how she never thought about getting a side hustle until she was faced with losing her home.

    Someone actually estimated how much Carrie’s lifestyle would cost these days and figured she would spend around $6,954/month, while earning only around $3,166. Of course, her income would increase once she starts writing successful books. But for the first few seasons, viewers are left baffled.  

    11,994 votes
  • 2
    5,105 VOTES
    Hannah Horvath
    Photo: HBO

    TV Show: Girls

    In an episode of Girls in Season 6, Hannah gets pregnant and starts listing reasons why it’s insane to think she could have the baby. One of them was pretty straightforward - “I will make less than 24K this year.” Ever since her parents cut her off in the first episode of the series, her financial life has been a bit unrealistic especially because she abruptly quit her high-paid GQ job. But with less than $24,000 per year, it’s hard to imagine she could afford to live in a New York apartment, even with Elijah as a roommate.

    And then, she suddenly gets a high-paid teaching job with health care and enough cash for her to afford a big house somewhere upstate? Talk about unrealistic.

    5,105 votes
  • 3
    5,149 VOTES
    Rachel And Kurt
    Photo: Fox

    TV show: Glee

    Rachel and Kurt’s Bushwick apartment apparently costs only $1800 per month in the Glee universe. Let’s say that's believable, even though being able to ride your bike in your New York apartment would obviously mean the rent would be higher. Still, when first moving there, Rachel is a student and Kurt is an unpaid intern. How could they possibly swing nearly two grand a month?

    Their parents might have helped, sure. But it still would have been incredibly tough when you bring day-to-day expenses into the mix.  

    5,149 votes
  • 4
    2,773 VOTES
    Chloe And June
    Photo: ABC

    TV show: Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23

    Here’s another classic sitcom case of rent being explained in terms of some weird landlord/tenant control deal. The only issue? Chloe’s sole stream of steady income comes from providing entertainment to diplomats at the United Nations once a year. Other than that, scams which often land her in trouble also provide her with free food and spending money from time to time.

    Meanwhile, June works at a coffee shop and it's a question of whether if she can even cover utilities. Even if the rent were zero, Chloe and June would both have a hard time living in the city. Luckily, June eventually gets a job with a Wall Street firm. 

    2,773 votes
  • 5
    1,653 VOTES

    Dev Shah

    Dev Shah
    Photo: Netflix

    TV show: Master of None

    Dev Shah is an underemployed commercial actor who spends most of his time with his friends and eating at restaurants. He lives alone in a gorgeous apartment (seriously, that kitchen is the stuff dreams are made of) and he moves to Italy on a whim after his girlfriend breaks up with him. 

    Now, commercial actors do make a good bit of money, but Dev is often shown working as an extra, not principal talent. That means he makes $366.37 for a full day's work during the week. That's a healthy wage, to be sure, but Dev only works sporadically, and he spends cash like it's going out of style. Even with his mid-Season 2 career move to host on Clash of the Cupcakes, there is just no way he has "screw it, I'm moving to Italy" money. He'll surely be spending all those cupcake checks on credit card interest for a while.

    1,653 votes
  • 6
    8,876 VOTES
    Photo: CBS

    TV Show: The Big Bang Theory

    As a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory, it’s doubtful Penny had the cash to pay for a one-bedroom apartment back when she was single, let alone afford all those bottles of wine and extremely cute clothes. While she did hang with the geeks next door mainly for the free food and was often portrayed to be struggling financially, Penny never really seemed to be in dire trouble with money. Maybe her parents helped her out?

    Thankfully, she later finds a better-paying job and lives with Leonard. We can only hope she’s paying down the debt she must have accumulated in the show’s early years.   

    8,876 votes