Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The world’s 15 richest fictional characters

They say fortune favors the bold — but it also favors the fictional. The characters that make up this year's edition of the Forbes Fictional 15, our annual listing of fiction's richest, boast an aggregate net worth of $137 billion. That's enough to give $20 to every (real) person on the planet.

Flapping into the top slot on this year's list is the first non-mammal to rank as fiction's richest: Scrooge McDuck. Soaring gold prices mean the penny-pinching poultry's hoard of coins and bullion is now worth more than you can shake a tail feather at.

Born penniless in Glasgow, Scotland, McDuck shined shoes as a duckling just to make ends meet. One day a ditch digger paid him a U.S. dime to clean his boots, inspiring the fearless fowl to stow aboard a cattle ship and seek out his fortune in America. He proceeded to build an empire from scratch, and today boasts a net worth of $28.8 billion. An avid treasure hunter, McDuck often travels the world with his grand-nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie looking for even more loot.McDuck moves into the top slot vacated by last year's richest fictional character, defense contractor Oliver ''Daddy'' Warbucks. Warbucks was tragically killed by an improvised explosive device during a visit to Iraq in March. The mogul's sudden demise leaves Warbucks Industries — the world’s largest maker of depleted uranium artillery shells and cat food — without leadership. Adopted daughter Lil' Orphan Annie is now in court fighting Warbucks' former wives, bodyguards and mistresses for control of the company and estate.

All told, six billionaires fell off the list, including Atlantic City real estate magnate Mr. Monopoly, who lost everything in the subprime mortgage crash. Archaeologist Lara Croft is missing and presumed dead after her plane disappeared above the Congolese jungle. And narco-capitalist Tony Montana, aka Scarface, was finally confirmed dead by a joint CIA/FBI task force.

Taking their place is a cast of new characters including Ming the Merciless, who ranks second on this year's list. With the existence of this evil alien overlord only recently confirmed by the U.S. government, we've had difficulty separating planetary wealth from his personal fortune, but we can safely say his net worth is at least $20.9 billion, and potentially much higher. Variously described as "control freak," "micro-manager," "vile despot" or "a kinder Steve Ballmer," Ming is best known for his fixation on NASA public relations specialist Dale Arden, girlfriend of astronaut Flash Gordon.


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