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File:Dontpay 4525.jpg

Thinking can be hazardous to your paycheck.


R. J. Fletcher: You idiot! Can't you do anything right? Does this look like a number two pencil to you?

Richard Fletcher: No, I just thought...

R. J. Fletcher: You thought?! I don't pay you to think!

Richard Fletcher: But daaaaaad!

R. J. Fletcher: SHUT UP!
—UHF, as it establishes who the villain is and just how evil he is. He gets eviller.

A Stock Phrase that indicates that an employee wasn't hired for their brains.

Sometimes, it's important to think on your feet. A mind is a terrible thing to waste and a little brains can take you a long way. But people in authority sometimes fear those with a brain in their head. After all, someone who thinks is someone who may start to question authority, their authority. The basic idea is that someone in a lowly position gets a bright idea, but is told that either they're not paid to think, or that it's not their job to think, or some other form of that. Might be a low-level employee in a company, or it could be something like a minion to the Big Bad.

To some degree, Truth in Television; many large organizations, such as the military, depend on everyone sticking to the same plan, and it isn't always reasonable to convince or fully explain it to each and every person involved, so acting on individual decision-making instead of instructions can undermine your organization's larger goals. A soldier who thinks too much and doesn't obey orders is therefore considered a liability.

In the end, however, bosses who hold to this philosophy only have themselves to blame when they find themselves Surrounded by Idiots. If this is common in your work place, it's one of the sure signs your boss is unfit for the job.

If the boss or Big Bad is seriously annoyed by this thinking behavior, he may demote said employee/minion to an even lowlier position, fire them, or tell them You Get Me Coffee.

See also, Don't Think, Feel.

Examples of I Don't Pay You to Think include:


  • Inverted in an episode of the English dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, when Divine tells his Captain Obvious lackey as they're observing Aki, "I don't pay you to tell me what I know — she needs fixing!"


  • One standalone strip in Fluble rides this for all its worth, with Clown's boss saying no less than three variations of it:

 "Dammit Coinean, I don't pay you to ask relevant questions! I pay you to shred Arruda files!"

"Dammit Coinean, I don't pay you to point out my obvious stupidity! I pay you to make Arruda files!"

"Dammit Coinean, I don't pay you to shred Arruda files! I pay you to shred Arruda files!"

  • A single panel strip from Sticky Comics features a boss saying this line and nothing else to a corporate scientist.

Films — Animation

  • In Rock and Rule, Mok comes up with this gem when his talking-head minions actually dare to voice their doubts about his plan:

  "When I want your opinions, I'll give them to you!"

  • In the original One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Horace comments "I've been thinking," and Jasper grabs him by the shirt and tells him that he's warned him about thinking. "I've got the knob for this job, so let's get on with it."

Films — Live-Action

  • In the third Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film Whit says "I think she's telling the truth" to which Walker replies "Really? Well, I don't pay you to think, do I? I pay you to lie, cheat, and steal."
  • In the film Dark Blue, Jack Van Meter tells Sgt. Eldon Perry Jr. "Your job is not to think. It is to follow orders, to execute plans and to be a good soldier."
  • The World Is Not Enough:

 R: (after botching a Bond One-Liner and being called on it by Q) I think--

Q: You're not here to think, you're here to do what I tell you!

  • Vizzini to Fezzik in The Princess Bride: "Am I going mad, or did the word 'think' just escape your lips? You were not hired for your brains, you hippapotamic land mass!"
  • In Tron, Sark tells an underling, "Don't think anymore. I do the thinking around here."
  • Total Recall. Cohaagen is berating his subordinate Richter.

 Cohaagen: First you try and kill Quaid, and then you let him get away!

Richter: He had help from our side, sir.

Cohaagen: I know that.

Richter: But I thought...

Cohaagen: Who told you to think? I don't give you enough information to think. You do what you're told. That's what you do.

  • Agent Smecker gets a few of these in The Boondock Saints, including one along the lines of, "Greenly, the day I want the Boston Police to do my thinking for me, I will have a fucking tag on my toe!" Though in Smecker's case, it's more of looking down on their investigative capacity than "hiring them for their brains."
  • Things to Come actually has this line used in a Rousing Speech given by The Chief, a local tinpot dictator, to the men who've tried to provide him with an air force (a few decrepit biplanes) capable of taking on John Cabal's huge flying wings.

 "You are not mechanics, but warriors. You have been trained not to think, but to die. I salute you! I, your Chief!"


 [Richard and his men have chased Liu inside the supply room]

Richard: Check the vent!

Thug: I think...

Richard: [shoots him] Don't think!



  • In The Invisible Heart: An Economic Romance, a boss tells an employee "I really don't care what you think. I don't pay you to think. I especially don't pay you to think about corporate strategy. I pay you to run the research department and run it well."
  • In Prison Romance, this occurs with a ho who is told "I don't pay you to think, I don't pay you to talk..."
  • In Atlas Shrugged, Directive 10-289, the "moratorium on brains," chains all existing employees to their jobs, with a potential penalty of jail for any that quit. If any do quit, anyway (or lose their job for other reasons), that job is then assigned to someone else by a government committee, regardless of that person's ability to actually do the job.
  • Dr. Cruces gets Lord Downey both coming and going in Men At Arms.

 Downey: Doctor, I think--

Cruces: Think? You're not paid to think! Heaven knows where the idiot has got to. I ordered the Guild searched! Why didn't anyone force the door?

Downey: Sorry, doctor, Edward left us weeks ago and I didn't think--

Cruces: You didn't think? What are you paid for?

  • Similarly in Friday by Robert A. Heinlein. The Chief of the California Confederacy tells one of his minions that HE does the thinking, then moments later chews the minion out for not getting Friday a chair, saying: "Do I have to think of everything myself?"
  • This is the attitude of many of the vermin commanders in the Redwall series of books.
  • Used in the 1960s children's adventure novel Manxmouse, by Paul Gallico. A group of hounds is hunting for a fox and a young Private states "I think he's in there, under that hedge, sir." A General replies "Quiet! I'm the one here who's paid to think."
  • Tiny, the Dumb Muscle German soldier from the Sven Hassel novels, is always saying that he was told by his superiors not to think. "Leave it to the horses, they've got bigger heads."

Live-Action TV


 Jenny: (regarding her dog) What's this on his head? This is Mauve. This is not orange.

Marissa: Well, the groomer ran out of orange, so we thought we would...

Jenny: No. No, no. I don't pay you to think. (to the dog) Do I, Sounder? Do I pay her to think? (to Marissa) He hates you. So take him back to the groomers now and get orange ribbons so that he can like you again. That's it.

  • In "Smart the Assassin" from Get Smart, Devonshire tells someone "KAOS doesn't pay you to think, you men were sent here to obey."
  • This is inverted on News Radio in a episode. Dave brings a problem to Jimmy and Jimmy points out Dave was hired to worry about these problems so Jimmy doesn't have to deal with them.
  • War of the Worlds. The alien mooks have contacted their ruling trio for instructions.

 "Why can't these lower creatures think for themselves?"

"OUR job is to think! THEIR'S is to obey, and we must never confuse the two!"


Video Games

  • Referenced by Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII. "'These Cocoon people' have spent centuries under fal'Cie rule, in constant fear of a Pulse invasion. If it weren't for Serah, I'd have been out there too. Hunting l'Cie. Would have been nothing but targets to me."

Web Comics

  • Subverted in a strip of Order of the Stick, when Belkar says this to Vaarsuvius, the party's wizard. V retorts by angrily saying s/he's not paid to do anything but think.

Western Animation

  • In "The Thin White Line" on Family Guy, Peter tells a rehab counselor "Yeah, well I don't pay you to think, hot lips, in fact, I don't pay you at all... Count it!"
  • Quick Draw McGraw: "Hoold on there, Baba Louie! I'll do all the thin'ing around here, and dooon't you forget it!"
  • Invader Zim to his computer: "I don't pay you to contradict me!"
    • Computer: "You don't pay me at all..."
  • Transformers Generation 1 has an instance of this in Five Faces of Darkness part 3.

 Sweep 1: "I think that plasma bath fried Galvatron's circuits."

Scourge: "It's not your place to think! Where he leads, all Decepticons must follow!"


Web Original

  • 'There's Something About Halo 2'

 Master Chief: Hey, I don't pay you to criticize my chief-y ways!

Cortana: You don't pay me at all, I'm a computer...


Real Life

  • This article all but advises the reader to quit their job if they have a manager who would say something like this, noting "Life is way too short to spend another minute working for someone who could speak these words."