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"The workaholic he works every day, 24 hours, no time to play
He won't quit; he's addicted to work, I think he's going out like a jerk"

2 Unlimited, "Workaholic"

Ah, the Workaholic. The Western world equivalent of the Japanese Salaryman.

Like the Salaryman, the typical workaholic's life revolves entirely around their job. Unlike the Salaryman, who is nigh-exclusively male, women have just as much potential to be a workaholic as their male counterparts.

The workaholic is almost always found performing tasks related to their job, even in their time off. A hardcore workaholic will often pass up recreational exercises in order to continue with their business. They will often go on to say that they like their job and simply find it more enjoyable than alternatives. Alternatively they may feel that their place of business will completely fall apart if they aren't there to oversee every small detail. This is especially true if they are scientists, entrepreneurs or simply near the top of a chain of command/corporate ladder.

In any event, for these people working hard isn't just a means to an end (such as a raise, promotion, corner office, etc.). They genuinely live for the job.

When they get home, if they haven't been completely distanced from their family, they can have a whole new can of worms to play around with, including but not limited to their obnoxious and/or bratty children and spouses who are less than glad to see them.

There are a lot of these running around today, and many wear the workaholic label with pride. Pity the non-workaholic who has one for a boss.

See also Salaryman and White Collar Worker, their (usual) first stage before turning into this.

Examples of Workaholic include:

Anime and Manga

  • Hiroko Matsukata from Hataraki Man. Matsukata earned the nickname Hataraki Man (meaning hardworking man) from her friends as she spends so much time and energy on her job.
  • One half of the main couple in Little House With an Orange Roof is Shotaro, a man whose Workaholism caused his ignored wife to leave him and his two sons. When he winds up having to share a home with a woman and her two daughters, he begins to re-evaluate why that was so important to him.
  • Nanoha Takamachi developed this tendency between seasons two and three of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, spending just about every waking hour either working or training. This behavior caused her to overextend her powers during a mission, in which she was wounded and then had to spend six months in the hospital relearning how to walk. This caused her to tone it down.
  • Kotetsu from Tiger and Bunny is so preoccupied with his job as a Hero that his boss has to literally order him to use his vacation days, lest he start violating Sternbild's labor laws.
    • Sky High / Keith from the same series is also happily devoted to superheroics.
  • Played with in Mononoke. It's strongly implied that should the mononoke-slaying Medicine Peddler protagonist fail at exorcising a mononoke (or conversely, should all mononoke cease to exist), he'd disappear from this world. So it's quite difficult to figure out whether he's truly devoted to his duty or whether he has no other choice—though going by his frequent displays of enthusiasm and interest in the mononoke and their histories, he seems to be genuinely fond of 'work'.

Comic Books

  • Certain heroes, mostly those without a secret identity, tend to invest too much time into their superheroics that it could become this. Examples include:
    • Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four tends to have little time for himself or his family, what with being the World's Smartest Man.
    • Nick Fury has litterally no personal life; his entire thing is being a special agent and Director of SHIELD.
    • While he used to have one, Captain America is never shown these days without being on duty as Captain America, and when he did have a secret identity, it was mostly because the writers at the time thought superheroes had to have one.
    • Cyclops of the X-Men used to be more along the lines of a boyscout, being neat and tidy outside of missions and by the book when in uniform. But, following Jean Grey's death during Grant Morrison's run, he started off as either teaching a class, being with Emma, or leading a mission. Then, around the time of Decimation and Messiah Complex, he's fallen into a downward spiral of work, work, work. This actually has some justification though, Jean's death was partially caused because of his and Emma's psychic affair, which was started because he was repressing some seriously bad PTSD. Because of that, he's been getting darker, until Decimation and Messiah Complex turned the X-Men books into Darker and Edgier, with Cyke dedicating all his time to being the X-Men's leader and keeping the few mutants left alive. He litterally doesn't have any options other than being a Workaholic.
    • The Punisher is, by far, the strangest example of this trope. He's a mass murdering serial killer who preys on Complete Monster criminals. Because he's a wanted fugitive and his name is public knowledge, he can't have any social life outside of killing.
      • Blade is similar, with the difference being that he hunts vampires instead.
  • Norman Osborn was once one, before becoming the Green Goblin. He sorta returned to this during Dark Reign, but that is a much darker take on this.

Fan Works

  • Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter fic The Arithmancer, even more so than her canon counterpart. Where canon!Hermione would at least sleep, Arithmancer!Hermione frequently works herself into days-long whirlwinds of activity, forgetting not only sleep but meals, and often sending herself into a near-breakdown from overwork.


  • Both Lester and Carolyn Burnham in American Beauty have long since become Workaholics when the movie opens, but they take radically different approaches to it: Lester has his Crowning Moment of Awesome and quits (blackmailing his boss into giving a generous severance package) just as he's about to get fired, while Carolyn rather embraces being a workaholic and very nearly murders Lester.
  • Peter, Samir and Michael, the three main characters in Office Space.
  • Nicholas Angel in Hot Fuzz is this at first, but mellows out later in the film.
  • In the Shirley MacLaine comedy What a Way To Go, her character's initially carefree husband becomes one of these and relentlessly turns his small-town general store into a national business empire. And finally..

"You see? Hard work never killed anyone!" (Keels over dead)



  • Commander Sir Samuel Vimes of the Discworld.
  • From the Harry Potter books, Hermione Granger, hands down. What other word describes a student who takes a Muggles Studies course to learn more about them even though both her parents are muggles, and uses a magical device to alter time just to take more classes?
  • Mr. Busy from the Mr. Men books. In his own book, he wakes up at six o clock, bathes, has breakfast, reads the paper, and cleans his entire house. When he's done, it's seven o clock. Then he has lunch with Mr. Slow next door, requiring him to mow Mr. Slow's lawn, which takes him five and a half minutes (he'd have finished in only five minutes, but had to mow around Mr. Slow). Then he goes home and cleans his entire house again!

Live Action TV

  • All of Aaron Sorkin's TV shows have been set in workplaces, and he's very prone to writing workaholic characters whose friendships with their coworkers are unbreakable bonds. A perfect example of this viewpoint is in the fourth episode of The West Wing, when Leo's wife is leaving him because he's not at home enough, and he's not presented as callous at all when he actually tells her in so many words that yes, as long as he's the president's chief of staff, his job is more important than his marriage. Josh is maybe the best example; his Establishing Character Moment in the pilot is sleeping at his desk as the cleaning staff vacuums around him and he doesn't take a vacation until the last season of the series.
  • Hugh and Malcolm from The Thick of It.
  • Everyone, to alarming degrees, on NCIS, though Gibbs is the worst example. An average workday has repeatedly been mentioned to span sixteen hours. It's mostly played for laughs, but none of the characters seem to have a functional social life.
  • Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation is evidently one of these. When the boss gives her the day off because she's involved in a political scandal, it takes the entire rest of the department working full time just to cover her schedule.
  • Sam Carter from Stargate SG-1 would often spend more time in her lab than was strictly necessary citing her work as both important and interesting. Also turned down an opportunity to go on a fishing trip with O'Neil several times, but that's something of a Running Gag on the show. No one ever wants to go on a fishing trip when asked.
  • Mulder of The X-Files is one, though his motivation has less to do with his actual job of being an FBI agent and more to do with using that influence to investigate the paranormal, uncover a government conspiracy, and find his sister, Samantha. Due to the inclusive and dangerous nature of their work, Scully is sucked in, too, though longs to have a life outside of her work and often wonders why Mulder doesn't want that.
  • Beckett of Castle is this. She even volunteers to cancel a date so that she can help with a case.
  • In Heroes, Peter Petrelli became this by the show's fourth season. He cuts himself off of contact with anyone, including his own mother, in order to spend more time at work. Peter's work partner has to tell him to go home and get a life outside of work. Of course, this doesn't last long as he's inevitably drafted into the scheme of the moment.
  • Hotch of Criminal Minds. The others too, but to a lesser degree. Hotch's marriage actually broke down because of this.


  • Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" is about the relationship between a workaholic and his son, who grows up to become a workaholic himself.

Newspaper Comics

Video Games

  • Luna's parents in Mega Man Star Force, as exemplified by the "Queen Ophiuca" chapter of the first game.
  • In Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, a salaryman's workaholic attitude has distanced himself from his daughter, whom he has to save from a giant rat.
  • The Sims 3 has this as a trait.
  • Norman Jayden of Heavy Rain qualifies. He's an incredibly zealous FBI agent who spends all of his time trying to solve the case of the Origami Killer, and has few interpersonal relationships outside of work as a result. In one of his epilogues, Norman decides to resign from his post to get back in touch with the 'real world' and lead a more normal life.

Western Animation

  • The main delivery crew from Futurama. They hate their job (mostly; Fry ping pongs back and forth). Hermes Conrad, the uptight bureaucrat, though, loves his job.
    • Not for nothing is he referred to as Salaryman in the Anime version of the crew.
  • Bob Oblong from The Oblongs. And he has some aspects of the Salaryman and Married to the Job as well.
  • Dot Matrix runs her own business and owns a diner. And she loves her job. A lot. Actually became a plot point in two separate episodes. One episode's B-story was about Bob forcibly dragging Dot away from her work in an attempt to get her to relax. The second time her chronic scheduling caused a tiff between herself and the more laid-back, make-things-up-as-you-go-along Bob.
  • Applejack from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, oh so very much. Also coupled with initially being too proud to ask for help from non-relatives.
  • Charlotte Pickles from Rugrats
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, most of the team are hardly ever shown not working. They do occasionally start off an episode not doing anything, but most of the time they're shown in the middle of a mission. Henry Pym is the worst case of this in the series though, as when he's not fighting evil, he's developing technology or working on a cure for villainy. Steve is, by default one, due to not actually having a social life outside the Avengers due to being a time travelling Fish Out of Water.
  • X-Men: Evolution: Scott. Played for Laughs: He really loves Danger Room Simulations and was seen once or twice suggesting it as a team activity. He does have a social life to some extent though.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants loves his job and is very dedicated to it, to the point that he doesn't know what to do when he has to take a vacation and when he thinks he's getting fired and goes looking for another job, he's barely able to do anything else.
  • From The Simpsons
    • Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the Kwik-E-Mart clerk. He hates taking days off, and works though double-shifts on a regular basis. He was only willing to close the Kwik-E-Mart for five minutes to go to his brother's party, and got back ten seconds early. Not even the dozens of times the store has been held up, often with him taking gunshot wounds as a result, can dissuade him; in one episode, he complained that he had been shot eight times that year and "nearly missed work" because of it. He was like this in college too, graduating first in a class of seven million from the Calcutta Technical University before coming to the United States. Probably, the reason is he just loves his job too much; he started it to pay his student loans, and even though he now has a doctorate in computer science, he isn't willing to leave the Kwik-E-Mart job behind.
    • Waylon Smithers is like this too, hating to take a vacation and pleading not to when Mr. Burns insists he do so, even though his work has sent him to the brink of a nervous breakdown. While his "fondness" for his boss may have a lot to do with it, he's still a stickler for his schedule even in episodes where Burns isn't running the plant.

Real Life

  • An apocryphal story is that the Sandwich is named after John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich on the grounds of him being such a gambling addict he spent much of his waking hours at the gambling table, to the point he'd have a servant bring him sandwiches rather than leave to eat somewhere else. A biographer of him, Nicholas A. M. Rodger, actually suggested that John Montagu was such a Workaholic that he ate sandwiches instead of leaving his work.