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In his defense, his job is first mentioned five years in.


Bartlet: I don't understand. Don't any of these characters have jobs?

Charlie: I don't know, Mr. President. I think one of them is a surgeon.

Bartlet: They seem to have a lot of free time in the middle of the day.

A vaguely-defined job that somehow pays well, yet gives the character a conveniently enormous amount of free time for the plot. Common jobs include columnist and artist — a decent writer can indeed pump out a newspaper column in about an hour if under the gun (though the resulting column itself is not guaranteed to be decent). Nevermind the fact that most columnists have other responsibilities at the newspaper like editing and reporting — you know, the things journalists actually go to school for. Usually you'll never see the job actually performed, except in a few throwaway scenes, and don't expect the character's job to ever be a plot point. Somehow it always pays enough for a place with Friends Rent Control.

The reason for this trope is that going to have adventures while you're supposed to be working is not a good work ethic (unless you have the kind of job that's a conceivable part of), and no audience wants to watch someone at work with nothing interesting going on for any long amount of time. However, when you only ever see a lot of free time, and at times of day when the character really should be working, you may wonder how the character manages to earn anything.

For the childhood equivalent of this trope, see Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?. Compare The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything (who are literally their profession In Name Only) and What Exactly Is His Job? (when the profession isn't even named).

This can also be contrasted to shows that take place primarily around the profession (when the profession itself is exciting enough, or can be made exciting through creative license), where the focus can be almost entirely on the work itself. Examples are Grey's Anatomy for medical drama, Band of Brothers for drama about soldiers, and MASH for both.

Examples of One-Hour Work Week include:

Anime and Manga

  • Soun Tendo's job in Ranma ½ as city councilor seems to give him an inordinate amount of free time (enough for a few training trips and playing shogi all day with Genma), yet yields enough cash to pay the taxes and bills on his Big Fancy House and attached dojo, plus the costs of martial artist-induced repairs, as well as support his daughters, and still fit in family holidays to the seaside or mountains. He does complain about the bills, but it's only been twice in the entire anime and manga that they've ever been shown to be a problem and one of those was immediately after the Saotomes show up implying it was more of an immediate liquidity problem than gross income issues.
  • Not even Nayuki in Kanon knows what her mother does for a living. The hours and pay seem very good, though, as she is still there with no sign of leaving soon at eight AM and will be there whenever Yuuichi gets home from school as well!
    • Ayu goes to a school that lets her come and go basically whenever she wants, and doesn't even require a uniform. The explanation for this is finally given near the end, though, and turns out to be an important plot point.
  • Yotsubato is an interesting case. Mr. Koiwai is a trainspotter translator, which basically means he works from home on his computer and can set his own hours provided he meets his deadline. Of course, this serves as a good excuse to have him home with lots of free time to play with his daughter, Yotsuba. Note, however, that being a working-at-home translator is indeed a real occupation and we do see Mr. Koiwai working a fair bit; he often requests that Yotsuba not disturb him sometimes in order to get more work done, giving her a perfect excuse to spend time with friends or neighbors.
  • Deconstructed in episode 8 of Best Student Council. On the eve of a difficult exam, one character remarks that the protagonist, Rino, has done nothing but play ever since she arrived at the school, leaving her unprepared for the test. Rino spends the rest of the episode studying and barely passes.
  • Lampshaded in Durarara, where Mikado and Anri are surprised to learn that Walker and Erika actually do have jobs--Erika makes jewelry, and Walker's an ice-sculptor. They're freelance, though, so their schedules are flexible.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist. Ed is a state alchemist for the military, but doesn't seem to do anything the military asks of him. He seems free to swan off with his brother to Dublinth (although he could have still been on medical leave), wander the countryside without any immediate obligation to call in or report, and even act against the government's plots without bothering to inform his superiors. When he DOES do something useful like fight off terrorists, it's often because he ended up in the situation by accident. He is also clearly paid a ridiculously large sum of money for this, including a research grant of which he spends fairly casually.
    • It's shown early on that State Alchemists are supposed to either do research or fight as Super Soldiers. Even though most people would guess that Edward is doing the latter, he's officially supposed to be researching the Philosopher's Stone.
      • Which he is. In a heavily mobile fashion. And he makes progress. A good deal. Of course, the government already knew all about the Stone, and what he tracks down initially is mostly his employers' evil schemes, but that's okay, because the program wasn't actually instituted to increase alchemical knowledge or even harness Super Soldiers; it's a Honey Trap for potential human sacrifices. After all, who could seriously resist all that funding, and a commissioned rank, and the libraries?
      • Being accredited is actually quite difficult and only the clever and valuable are accepted; Shou Tucker wound up destroying his whole family chasing state funding. Ed is at one point shown remembering he has to submit his research findings to keep his position. He shrugs and throws together some bullshit on the train. This is his normal process. Ed is so good he makes it look easy, and/or he's too good for the State to risk giving up, and he knows it.

Comic Books

  • Bruce Banner is supposedly a brilliant scientist, but between going Ax Crazy as The Hulk, and being worried about turning into the Hulk, and fighting monsters as the Hulk, he very rarely finds time for any real science in the comics. Despite this, needing money never seems to be an issue for him.
    • In one of the cartoons he crashed at Tony Stark's place for a while, as well as his cousin, Jennifer Walters.
    • This has sometimes been dealt with in recent years, as he's often portrayed as being homeless and relying on soup kitchens and food pantries for survival during periods where the Hulk is so uncontrollable that he needs to go on the run and thus can't exactly hold down a steady job.
    • Subverted for a period with Skaar, Hulk's interplanetary son, as the Boisterous Bruiser, and Banner himself temporarily drained of Hulk powers. He whips out gadgets every issue.
  • Lois Lane can be like this.
    • Clark Kent is too--They wanted him to have a job where he could plausibly disappear for hours a day to save the world without raising too much suspicion from his co-workers.
  • Belgian comic book hero Tintin is supposedly a journalist. This is rarely mentioned, and the only time he is ever seen writing an article or explicitly doing actual journalism is in Tintin in the Land of the Soviets.
    • He introduces himself as a journalist and occasionally takes out a book to take notes in an interview, but really he's a detective in all but name.
  • Blacksad's sidekick Weekly, a scrawny little weasel journalist, tries to convince Blacksad that the nickname is because his work is so good that he can get away with only showing up at the office once a week or so. Eventually he admits that it's because the pungent odor Blacksad noticed when they first met has given rise to an office rumor that "weekly" is how often he bathes. He never elaborates on how often he actually shows up at the office, so he might be encouraged to stay out in the field to save his coworkers from his scent, but he evidently wasn't kidding about the quality of his work, because either way he's still employed.


  • Apparently most of the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz. They sing, "We get up at twelve and start to work at one, / Take an hour for lunch and then at two we're done! Jolly good fun!" (This can't be fully literal, since the heroes do get some work done on them in preparation to meet the wizard.)


  • Patrick Bateman in American Psycho seems to have one of these types of jobs--it's a high-paying position in a prestigious Manhattan firm, but he never seems to ever do that much actual work and appears to have lots of free time on his hands. This is probably one of the things that contributes to his extracurricular pursuits...
    • This one is part Nepotism (His father is mentioned as basically owning the company) and part cultural statement (Patrick and his friends have fabulously wealthy lifestyles They didn't earn and look down on others because of it).
  • Buck from Left Behind is ostensibly a reporter, but is not only never seen doing any work, but the work that he does do is pretty mediocre, based on few examples the audience is shown.
  • Malone (after quitting his lawyer job) and Sutherland in Andrew Holleran's Dancer From The Dance. More generally, as noted here, literature for gay men tends to use this trope a lot.
  • Qwilleran from the Cat Who series is a columnist of this sort. His column is mentioned pretty frequently, but doesn't curtail him solving murders, taking up esoteric hobbies, and traveling all over the place.

Live Action TV

  • The eponymous couple of The Cosby Show. Bill is a doctor, his wife is a lawyer, yet they seemingly are never unable to spend quality time with their kids whenever necessary.
    • Cliff's office is apparently in the basement of their brownstone. Not sure what Claire's excuse is, though.
    • Possibly she isn't the kind of insane, high-powered lawyer who works mad hours? She probably isn't even in criminal law. With two professional breadwinners in the household, she could presumably afford to take a sane caseload, bring any overflow home so she at least wasn't in the office at all hours, and only spend approximately forty hours a week fretting over Old Lady Tibbet's will or the latest heinous patent infringement or what have you. And have time for her family, duly provided for.
  • Tommy's job on Martin was never stated by the writers and Martin himself always insisted he didn't have one, which became a running gag on the show.
  • Chandler's job in early episodes of Friends is subject to a Lampshade Hanging in one episode, where the deciding question in a trivia contest is "What is Chandler Bing's job?" Incidentally, it was Statistical Analysis and Data Reconfiguration until he got a job in an advertising firm. Even when Chandler and Monica are a couple she can't remember what he does. This is Lampshaded in one episode, where the Friends note that their bosses don't seem to like them... at which point Joey points out that this may be because they're hanging out at a coffee house at 11:30 on a Wednesday morning. Made more fun by the fact that Joey is one of two people in the group - the other being Phoebe, and even then Phoebe sometimes does hold regular jobs as a masseuse - who works as a free-lancer.
    • Monica has a character arc about her career as a restaurant chef. This is usually a job with 14 hour days, often seven days a week, but she seems to work about as much as Joey.
    • Joey shouldn't be let off the hook either. It was justified when he was a struggling and mostly unemployed actor. However, daily soap opera stars have incredibly long work hours.
  • Sportswriter is a popular vocation; Paul Hennessy from 8 Simple Rules, Oscar from The Odd Couple, Raymond from Everybody Loves Raymond and Tony from Listen Up (based on the writings of sportswriter Tony Kornheiser) all fitting the part. This is probably so the character could be manly AND lazy at the same time.
  • Carrie of Sex and the City is a columnist, which only requires a laptop these days as a convincing prop. Oddly enough, Miranda is supposed to be a lawyer, yet she seems to have just as much free time as Carrie, except when the plot requires her to be too swamped with work to spend time with her boyfriend Steve. For some reason Miranda is never too busy to go brunching or out to fancy nightclubs.
    • Lampshaded slightly with Samantha, a PR agent, who in real life would be just as busy as Miranda is supposed to be, yet always has time to go shopping, to nightclubs, to restaurants. . .but as a PR person, she would no doubt HAVE to do this as part of her job.
  • Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote never seems to find time to write all these thrilling mystery novels for which she is so famous, what with people happening to die everywhere she goes, which is everywhere on the Atlantic seaboard and reasonably beyond, just about all the time. (True souvenir mug of Maine: "Cabot Cove: If You Lived Here, You'd Be Dead By Now.")
  • In the Spiritual Successor Castle, the title character spends a good deal of time tooling around with the cops, but scenes often open with him writing at home.
    • In the second season finale, Castle is in trouble with his ex-wife/publisher because he's late finishing his new book. It's noted that the amount of time Castle spends with Beckett leaves him with very little time to write, and perhaps there's another reason he follows her.
    • In the third season, a scene involves him in an argument over the phone with said ex-wife/publisher while on the way to a crime scene which ends thus:

  I have to go now, I'm at work... it is so work!

  • Lorelei's job as an innkeeper in Gilmore Girls doesn't ever seem to take up much of her time, unless the plot so demands and it is always extremely easy for her to get holidays or weekends off
  • Susan's job on Desperate Housewives. It seems that she's a children's book illustrator, but her work is rarely in evidence.
  • In Mad About You, Paul makes documentary films, which leaves him a lot of down-time between projects. Jamie was a high-powered advertising executive, but she was rarely shown at the office.
  • Numerous references are made in Frasier of the fact that his job as a radio psychiatrist only takes up a few hours of his day. Usually by Roz when he's complaining about something to do with his time or what he feels he is due. His brother - a psychiatrist who works much longer hours in private practice - also has a few sarcastic comments to make about Frasier's 'Mc-Sessions'. It's occasionally established, however, that whilst his work may not be physically demanding or a particular burden on his free time, dealing with so many people's problems in rapid succession in such a short space of time can be quite psychologically draining.
    • For that matter, Niles himself seems to have a lot of time to hang out with his brother during the day, and aside from a few episodes where it represents a significant plot point, is never seen working. Daphne's supposedly "full time" duties as Martin's physical therapist are also somewhat vague, and can easily allow one to reach the conclusion that Frasier is essentially paying her just to hang out in his home.
  • On Hart to Hart, Jonathan is supposed to be the head of a large multinational corporation, yet has plenty of time to solve mysteries with his wife.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: the gang's occupation as bar-owners was specifically selected to free them up for hijinks during the day. However, the gang is still seen off the job at night, and even during the regular business hours of other bars around town. The show lampshaded this in one episode where the bar's patrons are described as simply serving themselves.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy's "job" as a counselor at Sunnydale High School late in the series. Kids rarely come see her and she hardly ever does anything in the office (her boredom at work is a Running Gag). Basically, the only purpose of the job is to explain how she manages to pay the mortgage on the house she inherited from her mom and support Dawn, and still have time to slay vampires. This is somewhat justified, as she got the job because the principal is in on the town's secret and kept her around to deal with any Hellmouth issues.
  • ICarly: Spencer is a sculpture artist. He manages to repeatedly sell his sculptures for huge piles of cash in very short spaces of time, even after rebuilding them 2 or 3 times when they catch on fire.
  • Seinfeld, though it's a little more justified than most examples. Jerry is hardly ever shown working on his material. We do see him get the occasional bit of inspiration and bounce an idea or two off his friend's heads but even a talented comedian puts in long hours to develop a bit (IIRC its about 40 hours for 30 seconds of decent material.) Too, he gets away with doing very little touring. Perhaps lampshaded by later seasons when he is not shown performing and friends talking about his material falling off. Yet somehow he can still afford a nice New York apartment and has money to buy his dad a car.
    • Jerry lives in a rent controlled apartment building.
    • Jerry's status as a comedian seems to change, but it can be justified in that during the bits where he actually is performing at the beginning, it always seems to be at the same comedy club. Perhaps he's just a regular there and performs sporadically.
    • Episodes have been known to show him returning from gigs or referencing them. It's possible he makes enough money from these jobs to support himself as he does not seem to have any distinct expenses.
    • George ends up being the most justified. He's lazy and only ever motivated when it comes to finding ways to avoid work. He is unemployed at different points and lives with his parents for a long stretch.
  • Literally true for the Fraggles of Fraggle Rock — one first-season episode is actually called "The Thirty-Minute Work Week".
    • The Doozers are the exact opposite. They work constantly, because they enjoy it so much.
  • Absolutely Fabulous - Patsy got her job as the editor of a fashion magazine by sleeping with the publisher, and the position requires so little of her that she only shows up there a couple of times a year, and even then only to claim free clothes and other giveaways. It takes the magazine going out of business to dislodge her from it, and she immediately gets another job at a high fashion store which requires even less work on her part, as it actively discourages customers. Eddie, on the other hand, is often seen at the office, although very rarely doing any actual work while there.
  • Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have both joked that they only work a half-hour a night for four days a week. Of course, it's just a joke because they, along with their teams, research everything. It's honestly pretty damn amazing they have free time at all. Especially considering how Jon Stewart reads, cover to cover, every book that people promote on his show. That's fifty to seventy books per year, plus research to provide context for the discussion and, in the case of political works, provide counter-points to the author's claims.
  • Similarly, David Letterman has explained to his audience that unlike companies that provide 24/7 service, The Late Show provides 1/5 service.
  • Lampshaded in Psych, where Gus works at a pharmaceutical company, but he never seems to actually do any work. In one recent episode, he wheels his big metal suitcase into the Psych office, signifying that he's working, and Shawn comments that he hasn't seen it in about two and a half years.
    • In one episode Gus's boss told him to quit the psychic detective business or be fired from his job. Shawn tries to avert this by making himself useful to the boss and finally just ends up blackmailing the guy so Gus can keep doing both.
  • Amanda Graystone of Caprica is shown to be a doctor in the first two episodes, complete with a cushy office at the hospital. In "Reins of a Waterfall", she is stated to have resigned, and it is unknown if she will go back to work. In "Gravedancing", she clarifies that she is a plastic surgeon.
  • Charlie in Two and A Half Men is a jingle writer and composer. We occasionally see him playing the piano and there was an episode about an awards ceremony for jingles for which he was nominated. In fact he even outright says that he has a job that pays extremely well and only requires him to work a few hours a week.
    • At the same time, it was established in at least one episode that Charlie is living above his means.
    • It's also somewhat justified in that many episodes are set during the weekends when Alan has custody of Jake.
  • Billie from Accidentally on Purpose is a film critic for a newspaper, which leaves her plenty of time for seeing her friends for drinks and being at home with her twenty-something boyfriend and his wacky friends. Although she is often seen at the newspaper office, only two episodes deal with her actually doing her job.
  • In Diff'rent Strokes, Mr. Drummond is the founder and CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation, yet we never see him at work and he is always home when the kids are.
  • In The New Adventures of Old Christine, the title character is the owner of a women's-only gym. Despite her constant complaining about money, Christine must be pretty successful to afford an exclusive private school for her son as well as a big home in Los Angeles with a guest house on the property for her brother. But she is rarely shown at work (and is pretty clueless when she's there), and she comes every day to pick up her son from school.
  • How I Met Your Mother. The gang seems to meet almost every evening either at the bar or at Ted's apartment, and there were a number of road trips on short notice. But Ted was, at different times, either an architect with a big firm or an architecture professor who had a contract to design a major skyscraper. Those would seem to be time-consuming jobs. Furthermore, Marshall was a corporate lawyer, and he said he worked seventy-hour weeks. But this was shown a total of once, when he was in the office at 3:00 a.m. Other than that, he spent just as much time hanging out as the other members of the group.
    • Not as bad as most examples though, as they clearly only meet up at the bar pretty late in the evening, and still they won't all be there.
    • The show does look to be subverting it recently with Ted having his own firm and Marshall leaving his job at GNB. Lily is a kindergarten teacher and would have relatively short days, Robin worked for an incompetent station that probably didn't care if she left and she worked mostly at night and Barney's exact position has never been specified.
    • Commonly Lampshaded as a Running Gag that No one knows what Barney actually does.
      • Further lampshaded when shown that he has developed elaborate ways of skipping work to pick women while appearing to still work, such as his generic "Hey there Big Chief!" voice mail greeting.
    • Like pretty much everything in How I Met Your Mother, the premise gives this a built-in excuse: Future!Ted just skips the parts where he and his friends go for days without having time to all hang out together, or have to put their activities on pause to spend a few hours at work, since a) this would bore his kids even more and b) he probably doesn't actually recall the progression of entire days from twenty years ago with clarity. One can assume that in reality, the various events Ted recalls took place over the course of several scattered evenings, rather than the full-day adventures that appear to be described.
  • On My Wife and Kids, Michael Kyle is vaguely described as having "a fleet of trucks" but isn't shown at work very often and seems to be at home during the day an awful lot.
  • Played with and subverted in Big Bang Theory. The characters are often shown working and many of their hijinks take place at night or on weekends. Furthermore, they often lampshade that being research scientists isn't an extremely demanding job (except in some cases). Additionally, episodes have often shown them working at home or plots revolve around work in some way.
    • Though considering that Howard isn't a theoretical physicist like the rest of them, but an engineer, one would expect him to have a more typical 40-hour work week.
      • Which he does, since we again see him mostly at night and on the weekends, rather than lounging about the apartment in the middle of the day. He does sometimes seem to take early afternoons, but that could be justified in that he builds machines that allow other scientists to prove their theories. If he's done building it and the scientist needs to use it, there's little point in him sticking around for the rest of the day being in the scientist's way.
  • Played for laughs in Father Ted. The characters are priests but almost never perform any parishional duties or say mass. Given the show's humourous take on Irish life and how clueless (Or drunk in Jack's case) the priests are, this is probably intentional.
  • Subverted in My Name Is Earl. Earl, Randy and Joy are all explicitly shown as unemployed. Though They have worked odd jobs in the past, They mostly sustained Themselves through crime and now live off Earl's lottery winnings, thus allowing Them time to work on his list. Darnell works part time at a bar and Catalina works at the motel the brothers live at, explaining her presence. They go even further by stating that the manager is incompotent and doesn't expect much from employees.
  • In True Blood, some of the characters have more than one job, but seem to have plenty of free time. This is often handled well, such as when someone needs to get off early or shows up late, but at times, many of the main characters seem to blow off work when they should be working.

Newspaper Comics

  • In FoxTrot, Andy is (or was) a columnist, but this hasn't really been shown or mentioned since about 1995 and now she just seems to be a stay-at-home mom. Even Roger is rarely shown at work, even though there are a lot of strips in which he leaves for work or returns from work.
    • There have been a few strip arcs that focus on Roger's job, such as the one where he quit to spend more time with his children. When that failed, he returned to humbly ask for his old job back, and was hired back on the grounds that with him gone, the office's computers haven't crashed in months and everybody was stressed out from all the work.
      • Also, his boss informed him that people with Roger's qualifications are worth three times his salary in the current job market. Why Roger took the job (with a pay cut!) after being told this is anyone's guess. (Note that this arc ran long before the recession.)
      • Perhaps it was a threat; people like Roger are worth three times what he's being paid. Roger himself is not like Roger, he is Roger, and thus he is not among the people who are worth three times his current salary, so he will take this job at reduced pay and like it.
  • Zits made Connie (Jeremy's mother) a child psychologist trying to write a book, but this was almost completely dropped after the first year and hasn't been seen in the last decade.
    • Walt, Jeremy's dad, averts the trope. He's a dentist, and he has, on occasion, been known to recognize people by their teeth.
  • Averted in Calvin and Hobbes, where Calvin's dad is specifically stated to be a patent attorney.
    • Admittedly, a patent attorney who still has plenty of time for biking, reading, and telling his son outrageous fibs, but there have been several strips where his working was relevant, usually in the context of not being able to play with Calvin.
      • There was also one strip where he was getting ready for work, and thinking it was a shame he had to sit in an office when he could be spending quality time with his family. Then he sees Calvin tearing off in a hurry, followed by his wife in a bath towel screaming at Calvin to remove all the bugs he put in her shampoo. The last panel shows him hard at work and whistling contentedly.
  • In the French comic Blacksad, the title character meets a little weasel (no, he's literally a weasel — the characters are furries) who goes by Weekly. He claims it's a work-related nickname — he's a journalist, and his articles are so good that he's still on the payroll even though "Weekly" is how often he shows up at the office. Later on, he admits that while it was coined by a coworker, it has more to do with his (well deserved) reputation for poor hygiene; the rumor goes that "Weekly" is how often he bathes.
  • The protagonists of the German comic Lula und Yankee also qualify: Lula plays in a girls' rock band (OK, they have one guy, but everyone overlooks him). Yankee doesn't seem to have a job at all.
  • Cutter John from Bloom County is a particularly big example; we're told he's the new town doctor in his first appearance, but we never see him doing anything remotely medical. Maybe Bloom County's residents are just so healthy that he has all the time he needs to make out with his girlfriend and play Star Trek with the local Talking Animals.

Tabletop Games

  • Player characters in The World of Darkness games tend to have jobs like this. Many PCs are musicians, since on paper, it grants them the flexibility needed to be Vampires/Werewolves/Mages/whatever and still pay their bills on time. In practice however, they don't perform or tour nearly enough to support themselves on their music alone.

    One of the freelance writers for White Wolf, Matt McFarland, has said he's surprised most PCs don't take the private eye/OccultDetective route. What with the mind-reading and mind controlling powers of vampires, the scent tracking and shapeshifting abilities of werewolves, and the... well, everything of mages, it would be a snap.
  • In Genius: The Transgression it is mentioned that mad scientists tend to need a lot of funds for their experiments. The pdf suggests that a player character's income should be explicitly stated and offers some suggestions to the drawbacks of each. Admittedly not all the jobs listed earn enough to both pay the bills and fund a secret laboratory but then, a lack of money is stated to be one of the common problems facing mad scientists.

Video Games

  • Phoenix Wright works hard when he gets a case, about once every three months. On the other hand his lack of funds is a running joke. He stays afloat but Maya's hamburger addiction takes its toll on his wallet.
    • The games are also a bit inconsistent regarding Phoenix's workload. Sometimes it drops hints that we're only seeing the most interesting of his cases, and other times the game implies that the cases featured in the games are the only ones he's ever taken. One example of the former comes from Maya suggesting that Phoenix puts up photos of all the defendants he's gotten acquitted. Phoenix then thinks to himself "But what about the cases we've lost?"
  • It's a great puzzlement to the cast of Tsukihime as to what Arihiko's sister actually does for a living. So far, they know she's not a writer or a couple of other odd jobs.
  • Averted in The Sims. When Sim a leaves to work it's usually 8 hours during which (s)he is unavailable to the player.
    • Played Straight, however, when the player has an artistic Sim make money by selling paintings.
    • Or crafting Gnomes for profit.
      • Any self-employed career in The Sims 3 may count as this.
  • Professor Layton is an archaeology professor. The number of times throughout the games he can be seen doing anything related to archaeology or being a professor can be counted on one hand.
    • In the third game, one of the locations in the game is the University Layton works at. No one there seems to mind the fact that he just wanders in and out at his leisure. And bear in mind he's Flora's legal guardian, so he's actually got two mouths to feed. Luke doesn't count, as it's mentioned in The Unwound Future that he lives with his parents.


  • Justified One-Hour Work Week: the hour in question is the live broadcasts of the reality show, Last Res0rt. Of course, when your job can kill you, it's implied the rest of your time better be spent finding a way to avoid that fate, and to be fair they're filmed for the purposes of the show (and general security) 24/7 anyway. Still, they're not exactly shown using the rest of their time pumping weights or other military-like regimens, though this could just as easily be blamed on the pace of the comic.
  • Happens a lot in Sluggy Freelance, though there is the occasional work based storyline. It's Lampshaded with Torg when he works for Adversion Advertising, since he has rather...unique views on time off. He gets away with this because he somehow convinced his boss's boss that he's an "advertising genius."
  • Parodied in Shortpacked: Robin spends most of her working hours in a toy store, despite having been elected to Congress during a Cadbury Creme Egg induced sugar rush. No one seems to care about this. Robin has also repeatedly stated that she considers her Congresswoman position to be "just a hobby" and prefers the reduced responsibility of her job at Shortpacked (which fits completely with her character).
    • However, her congressional position has been used as the focus for a few storylines, especially when she's up for re-election.
  • Lampshaded by Jean in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, since we'd seen Bob actually working at his newsstand (which should be a pretty time-consuming job) a grand total of once over the first five story arcs. Later stories have made it clear that Bob misses work a lot because of his adventures, and his customers don't appreciate it.
  • Both averted and played straight in Questionable Content: Coffee of Doom is half the cast's job. On the other hand, Marten was originally a cube-worker that only had a few strips of actual workplace (and half of them were after he got fired), and then he became a librarian at Smif (and his boss became a tertiary member of the cast.)
    • Sven, on the other hand, does have a One-Hour Work Week. He's a country music songwriter and apparently a genius when it comes to lyrics that will be popular but sickeningly trite. Frequent strips have him taking credit for a country song with a ridiculous name, or another character asking him what he did all day, reading a few lines of horrible lyrics, and being informed that his agent is negotiating a bidding war over them.
      • He's usually not as successful as that last example, though. That was a gag about him having been dumped (more or less) and putting barely any effort into writing the song, only for it to be more popular than anything else he'd written.
  • Living with Insanity averts this with Alice, but plays it straight with everyone else. She's seen working a lot and being exhausted from it, but David and Paul are only occasionally seen working on their comic.
  • The comic Sequential Art shows Pip doing the eBay trading variant. Note that the graphic artist Art, the photographer Kat, and even the poet/writer Vanity are not shown to be that idle during daytimes.
  • Zac in What the Fu lampshades that he never really understood what Dries does for a living.
  • It's not entirely clear what Dr. McNinja's parents do to be able to afford a house in a remote cave with phone lines and electricity, equipment for their younger son to build giant robots to defend their gigantic amount of outdoor property, and so on. It's implied they do hired ninja work or something, but they're never actually shown doing this or any other paid work, and they always have time to help Doc with his schemes. Doc himself spends relatively little time actually working as a doctor, yet has no trouble hiring contractors to rapidly rebuild his entire doctor's office after it gets blown up.

Western Animation


 Bart: Don't you even have a job anymore?

Homer: I think it's pretty obvious that I don't.

    • Given an implied Hand Wave by the fact that Mr. Burns seems to have Laser-Guided Amnesia for everything related to Homer every single week. His inability to remember Homer's name was Flanderized to the point where he is incapable of remembering the man's central role in everything he's done for the past few years. As such, it seems as if even Homer has caught on to the fact that he will be forgotten, if not explicitly forgiven, for everything from multiple industrial catastrophies to flagrant dereliction of duty, and as such, can pursue his Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny with impunity. Groening himself has stated that he's lost track of how many times Homer's been fired and re-hired, so they just default to him being at work when the jokes require it.
    • It's also been stated that the best way to keep the plant safe is for Homer to not do his job.
  • Family Guy's Glenn Quagmire works as an airline pilot - which is surprisingly accurate as pilots work many fewer days (albeit longer ones) a month than most other professions.
    • Likewise Cleveland owning a deli was only mentioned and shown in a few early episodes the rest of his appearances are hanging out with the gang. When Cleveland moved on to his own show, he got a job at a cable installer, giving us this exchange:

 Donna: If you can get the time off work...

Cleveland: Oh, right, work! I keep forgetting I'm supposed to go to that!

  • For the longest time in King of the Hill, we were never treated to Boomhauer's job and how he can afford such expensive things. A few episodes suggested he worked at some sort of factory; however, the last episode reveals he is a Texas State Ranger.
    • Every character on the show falls under this trope. Some, like Peggy or Dale, hold part-time or infrequent employment while others like Bill and Nancy work regular full time jobs but still have all the time needed to screw around. The most blatant examples of this trope are Hank and Kahn; Hank works a regular 9-5 day and loves his job so much that he won't leave 10 minutes early on a Friday when he literally has nothing to do but sit at his desk and stare at the wall. An entire episode revolves around Kahn's job, in which he gets on with a 2 hour commute that is forgotten about a few episodes later. Notice that most episodes take place over several days; basically, the show falls under the rule of only showing the characters working when it suits the joke.
  • Applies varyingly in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic (of all places). Most often played straight with Pinkie Pie, who's rarely ever seen working at Sugercube Corner (though throwing parties is practically her second job). Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash are rarely seen "on the clock", but the unusual natures of their jobs (micromanaging the local fauna and weather, respectively) let Fluttershy set her own hours and let Rainbow do her job in "ten seconds flat." Averted with Twilight Sparkle (Celestia's student, seen studying more often than not. Has also been shown to work as a caretaker and librarian of the library she lives in), Applejack (apple farmer), and Rarity (fashion designer), who are often shown working; in fact, entire episodes have revolved around the latter two's lines of work and one of Applejack's major character flaws is workaholism.
  • Although they work for a delivery company, the characters in Futurama are rarely seen doing deliveries, unless the plot calls for it. This has been Flanderized with the new season, as the crew seem to do even less deliveries then before.

Real Life

  • A sinecure used to be a government position that gave you a fancy title and a salary, but few or no responsibilities. It was awarded to people to either reward them for past services, or to enable them to concentrate on their art (Goethe held one, for instance).
  • Some freelance positions can appear like this, not because they never work, but because they tend to be able to stagger their hours so they can get time off at certain times. They can, for example, do a majority of their work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday so they can have Thursday and Friday off, or they can work late at night.
    • In some areas, retail and service industry employees may appear like this as well, thanks to the recession and certain laws that give employers incentive to hire only part time workers. And depending on your view of unemployment, it may qualify as well.
  • Non-pyramid scheme multi-level companies can be like this.
  • Lots of positions awarded by universities. Lots. For a specific example, a professor with tenure is pretty much literally impossible to fire, leading many of them to put in the bare minimum of work: they might show up briefly on a Monday to announce what the assignments are for the week, show up equally briefly on Friday to pick them up, and hand off the actual grading to a TA. No office hours, no lectures, yes paycheck.