Created By: JusticeReaper on June 16, 2013 Last Edited By: JusticeReaper on July 6, 2013
Troped

Sleeping With The Boss

The employer has intimate relations with the employee.

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A sub-trope of Unequal Pairing and Office Romance, this is when a person in authority specifically gets "busy" with an employee or a member of his/her staff.

A favorite plot device in many a film, this usually takes on one of any given number of scenarios: the master of the house banging the maid, or the mistress of the house getting naughty with the pool-boy or gardener, or the office manager having "business meetings" with his secretary while his wife remains unaware. Either party in the affair may be the instigator, though usually that role goes to the one who holds the greater power and authority. Usually, too, the boss or supervisor is older and more "experienced" than the employee.

If either party is married or in a relationship (which is usually, but not always, the case in this kind of situation), this kind of affair comes of an unfaithful heart; unsurprisingly, in such a case, this usually results in a Love Triangle and all the problems that come with it. If the employee is female and the boss is male and married, the employee may take the role of The Mistress. Or, in some cases the wife/husband of either participant may know of the affair, but won't say or do anything about it because they want to keep up public appearances.

Whether the participants are single or are married to other people, this kind of scenario opens itself to some discrimination depending on the gender of the employee in the equation. If the employee is female and the boss is male, the woman may be seen as loose and only advancing her career by sleeping her way to the top, and she'll be branded by those who are aware of the relationship. If, however, the boss is female and the employee is male, then the man will be seen as extremely lucky, or, at worst, the situation may be given an indifferent shrug.

This kind of situation also has the risk of the employee eventually asking "Am I Just a Toy to You??", if the boss is flaunting his/her power over the employee just to satisfy a perpetually high libido. Often a form of Sexual Extortion, if the employee engages in sex with the boss under duress or blackmail (though the reverse can also be true, in that it's the employee who blackmails the boss). This is also one reason why a woman may be portrayed as not having gotten where she is on genuine talent or merit.

Compare Pizza Boy Special Delivery, where the persons in question aren't in a permanent boss/employee relationship but still have sex in the midst of conducting an otherwise ordinary business transaction; and Teacher/Student Romance, where the relationship in question takes place between a teacher and a student (though sex may or may not be involved in this case).

Also compare Mentor Ship, where The Hero is in a relationship with his/her mentor; Bodyguard Crush, where a person's appointed security guard harbors feelings for his/her client that may or may not be reciprocated; Subordinate Excuse, where the employee uses his/her being employed by the boss as an excuse to exercise affections for said boss (though that situation may NOT necessarily automatically result in the two parties having sex); and Casting Couch, where an aspiring actor or actress sleeps with the producer or director to land a starring role.

Note that this trope is not the same situation as the Sex Slave, where the person with the lesser authority is in captivity and is forced to engage in sex under orders from his/her captors.

Also note that the Office Romance speaks more generally about inter-office relationships and can be (and usually is) applied to co-workers who are on equal standing; this trope is specifically about a sexual relationship between a boss and his/her employee. It should also be noted that, although use or abuse of power on the boss's part does sometimes play a role in this trope, it does not happen in all cases, as some instances of this are mutually consensual.

Be careful when adding real-life examples.

Examples:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • The Boys has Billy and Rayner the CIA director, though it's not so much a relationship as it is vitriolic, self-imposed hatesex.
  • In Chew, Tony's coworker Colby sleeps with his and Tony's Bad Boss Applebee (to get Applebee off their backs) and later with his USDA boss.

Films - Live Action
  • This is a significant driver for the plot of Bridget Jones' Diary (that and the Belligerent Sexual Tension with the other love interest).
  • By seducing the chairman of Omni Consumer Products in Robocop 2, OCP psychologist Juliette Faxx is able to railroad her project through development.
  • This is the status of Tony and Pepper Potts' relationship from the finale of Iron Man, throughout the rest of the franchise.
  • This is the standard way to land a husband in the world of Thoroughly Modern Millie (give or take actual sex): you meet a successful man by becoming his secretary, then he falls in love with you and you get married.
  • This forms the plot of Secretary, where Lee and her boss Edward engage in a sadomasochistic relationship.
  • Played for laughs in Spies Like Us, when Fitzhume tells his coworker that he's arranged an intimate lunch with the boss. Cut to Fitzhume and his attractive boss in bed. And apparently, he just arranged the "intimate lunch" to try to talk his boss into finding a way for him to not take the Foreign Service Board test.
  • This turns out to be a major plot point in Lakeview Terrace. Turner's wife was having an affair with her white boss, and they died in a car accident together. The affair resulted in Turner hating interracial couples, and it's the reason he harasses the lead couple.
  • The Wesley Snipes film Jungle Fever has this as the trigger for its main plot, in which Snipes' character sleeps with his secretary despite him being a married man and her already being in a relationship. It's more remembered and criticized in-universe for the fact that he's black and she's white.
  • The movie Disclosure plays the "female boss, male employee" version of this for all the drama it can. Meredith Johnson, the ex and new boss of Tom Sanders, tries to restart their relationship, but Tom doesn't want to go through with it due to him being married now. Meredith then out-and-out tries to rape him, forcing him to fight her off. The plot gets kicked off when she files charges of sexual harassment against him.
  • In the Michael J. Fox film The Secret of My Success, Howard Prescott, CEO of the Pemrose Corporation and the main character's uncle, has an ongoing affair with Christy, one of his employees and the main character's Love Interest.
  • In City Slickers, a checkout girl from Phil's store breaks into a party he's attending to tell him she's pregnant, so this trope has been in play. Played both for drama, and laughs:
    Ed: ...that's pretty smug advice, coming from a man who mounted an eighteen year old checkout girl on the day-old bread rack.
    Phil: She's twenty - and shut up.
    Ed: Let me get you hot, Phil: "I need a price. Register Nine, I need a price..."
    Phil: Cut it out!
    Mitch: (warningly) Guys...
    Ed: What did you use for protection, paper or plastic?
  • Liar Liar: Jim Carrey's character is sleeping with his boss -- until the wish comes into effect and he makes a truthful (and uncomplimentary) comment about the sex they just had.

Literature
  • Anthony Winkler's works:
    • In The Duppy, Baps recalls that he slept with five of his maids.
    • Barrister Fitzpatrick in The Great Yacht Race sleeps with his secretary Lilly, and the hotelier O'Hara is carrying on a secret affair with his maid Iris. Father Huck later gets it on with his housekeeper, Missus Grandison.
    • In his autobiographical Going Home to Teach, Winkler recalls how his maternal uncles, all shopkeepers, often slept with their female employees.
  • In the Jamaican play Old Story Time, this is one of the major revelations made toward the end of the story, involving two major characters. George Murchison (the boss) coerced Lois (his secretary at the time) to engage in physical relations with him, in exchange for covering up her misuse of bank funds to finance her then-fiance Leonard's education.
  • The Bible:
    • Abram (shortly before his name was changed to Abraham) slept with his Egyptian maid Hagar in order to have a child, with encouragement from his wife Sarai (later renamed Sarah) since she couldn't have children of her own. Unfortunately, since God had specifically told Abram that he would have children with Sarai, this plan backfires horribly (Hagar starts forgetting her place with Sarai and is eventually thrown out).
    • There's also a subversion with Joseph, at the time a slave in Egypt under the employment of Potiphar. His master's wife wanted to screw him physically, but he rebuffed her advances on the grounds that she was already married and that giving in to her would be a sin against God. So she chose to screw him metaphorically.
    Joseph: How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

Live Action TV
  • A significant arc in a later season of Friends saw Rachel sleeping with her male secretary, Tag.
  • On Showtime's Shameless, Fiona gets a low-paying job at a supermarket, and soon learns that most of her co-workers have been pressured into having sexual relations with the boss, Bobby. When she gets them all together to talk about it, some of them even defend it.
  • The Office (US) has Michael's rather rocky extended relationship with his boss Jan.
  • Six Feet Under: This happens between Kroehner's Matthew Gilardi and his boss. It doesn't stop her from firing him for incompetence.
  • CSI had Grissom and Sara, although much has changed since he left and she left, then returned.
  • In an episode of Quantum Leap where for the first time Sam leaps into a woman, his task of the episode is to keep a fellow secretary from committing suicide. The other secretary thinks that her boss is going to leave his wife for her; the wife informs the secretary in no uncertain terms that she's OK with her husband fooling around but she will not under any circumstances allow a divorce. It's also implied that she is the boss's second wife, and he met her when she was his secretary. When the secretary learns this, she tries to jump off a building but Sam talks her down.
  • Skyler from Breaking Bad does this with her boss.
  • Shows up a few times on Midsomer Murders, whether as "sleeping up the ladder" or actual romance.
  • After Lois and Clark got married, one episode saw Lois being promoted to the Daily Planet's editor. Clark jokingly says he's looking forward to sleeping with the boss.
  • In Without a Trace, Samantha Spade had a brief sexual affair with her supervisor, Jack Malone. It resulted in his marriage dissolving.
  • Jack McCoy of Law & Order is notorious for having had this kind of relationship with his assistants, all female. When he first came into the District Attorney's office in the original series, Claire Kincaid pointed out that he'd slept with all three of his previous assistants (and married one of them), to which Jack replied that all the relationships were mutually consensual. Then Claire declared that nothing of the sort would happen between herself and Jack, to which he agreed...only for them to get intimate later on down the line.
  • In the Season 5 finale of House, the titular doctor winds up having sex with Lisa Cuddy, the hospital administrator and his immediate supervisor, after she comes over to his house to help him kick his Vicodin addiction. Except their encounter that night never actually happened--it was all a Vicodin-induced hallucination on House's part.
  • This is a frequent occurrence on Mad Men. Roger and Don have a habit of sleeping with their secretaries and both married one of them after divorcing their first wives. Peggy had a one night stand with Pete when she was still a secretary, and people falsely assume that she was promoted to copywriter because she slept with Don. Megan is propositioned by her female boss when she gets an acting job on a soap opera.
  • In The Nanny, after four seasons' worth of Unresolved Sexual Tension between Fran and her boss Maxwell, they almost wind up sleeping together while in Paris, during the Season 4 finale...but Maxwell backs out of it at the last moment, offending Fran.
  • On NewsRadio, news director Dave had an on-going relationship with reporter Lisa.
  • Cheers: Sam hooks up with his waitress Diane at the end of season 1 (resolving the UST), and they almost get married at the end of season 5.

Tabletop Games
  • Shadowrun supplement Tir Na Nog. In the title country (the country formerly known as Ireland) Junior Minister Patrick Flanagan was videotaped having sex with his curvaceous redheaded secretary in his office.

Video Games
  • In many class storylines of Star Wars: The Old Republic, you can romance your companions and technically, most of available companions are subordinates of the Player Character. Elara Dorne, the Republic Trooper's companion, even lampshades this, observing that intimate relationships between a commanding officer and a subordinate are forbidden by military regulations, but reciprocates your advances, anyway.
  • Nadia Zelenkov in Command & Conquer: Red Alert is one of Stalin's advisors, and also his lover. She's actually The Mole for Kane, and kills Stalin after a Soviet victory.

Web Comics
  • Invoked several times on Something*Positive: Kharisma makes no secret that she'll sleep with anyone for advancement (and is later fired without ceremony when the boss' fetish goes from redheads to blondes), while Monette is accused of this by an older, uglier coworker.
    Co-worker: At least all that lying on your back must have done wonders for your posture.
    Monette: Well, seeing as your method gave you bad knees and rancid breath, I figured I'd do it differently.

Real Life
  • The Monica Lewinsky scandal, during Bill Clinton's tenure as President of the United States. For those who aren't aware, Ms. Lewinsky was an intern at the White House during Clinton's time in office, and the scandal came from her performing oral sex on him, an allegation he denied for a long while.
Community Feedback Replies: 42
  • June 16, 2013
    surgoshan
  • June 16, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • By seducing the chairman of Omni Consumer Products in Robocop 2, Juliette Faxx is able to railroad her project through development.
  • June 16, 2013
    MiinU

    Anime

  • June 16, 2013
    Koveras
    I'd suppose Unequal Pairing will be the Super Trope.

    • In many class storylines of Star Wars The Old Republic, you can romance your companions and technically, most of available companions are subordinates of the Player Character. Elara Dorne, the Republic Trooper's companion, even lampshades this, observing that intimate relationships between a commanding officer and a subordinate are forbidden by military regulations, but reciprocates your advances, anyway.
  • June 16, 2013
    XFllo
    We already have Office Romance which involves all work relationship.

    This could be a sup-trope though.
  • June 17, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Shadowrun supplement Tir Na Nog. In the title country (the country formerly known as Ireland) Junior Minister Patrick Flanagan was videotaped having sex with his curvaceous redheaded secretary in his office.
  • June 17, 2013
    Boston
    On Showtime's Shameless, Fiona gets a low-paying job at a supermarket, and soon learns that most of her co-workers have been pressured into having sexual relations with the boss, Bobby. When she gets them all together to talk about it, some of them even defend it.
  • June 17, 2013
    MonaNaito
    • The Office (US) has Michael's rather rocky extended relationship with his boss Jan.
  • June 17, 2013
    KingZeal
    Possible page quote from Iron Man.

    Tony Stark: "Am I making you uncomfortable?"
    Pepper Potts: "Oh, no, I always forget to wear deodorant and dance with my boss in a room full of people I work with in a dress with no back."
    Tony Stark: "Well, you look great, you smell great. But I could fire you if that would take the edge off."

    • As noted above, this is the status of Tony and Pepper Potts' relationship from the finale of Iron Man, throughout the rest of the franchise.
  • June 17, 2013
    Himbeergeist
  • June 17, 2013
    chicagomel
    CSI had Grissom and Sara, although much has changed since he left and she left,then returned.
  • June 17, 2013
    thebiguglyalien
    • In Left Behind, Nicolae Carpathia and his secretary Hattie. This is suggested to be the only reason he hired her.
      • Rayford is mentioned to nearly have had an affair with Hattie at one point, who was a flight attendant on his plane at the time.
  • June 17, 2013
    Flee
    Skyler from Breaking Bad does this with her boss.
  • June 17, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • In an epsiode of Quantum Leap where for the first time Sam leaps into a woman, his task of the episode is to keep a fellow secretary from committing suicide. The other secretary thinks that her boss is going to leave his wife for her; the wife informs the secretary in no uncertain terms that she's OK with her husband fooling around but she will not under any circumstances allow a divorce. It's also implied that she is the boss's second wife, and he met her when she was his secretary. When the Sam's-friend secretary learns this, she tries to jump off a building but Sam talks her down.
    • This is the standard way to land a husband in the world of Thoroughly Modern Millie (give or take actual sex): you meet a successful man by becoming his secretary, then he falls in love with you and you get married.
  • June 17, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    You mean, like a Casting Couch, or Never A Self Made Woman?
  • June 19, 2013
    Chabal2
    • Shows up a few times on Midsomer Murders, whether as "sleeping up the ladder" or actual romance.
    • There was a comedy where the guy was married to his boss, and the problems therein.
    • Invoked several times on Something Positive: Kharisma makes no secret that she'll sleep with anyone for advancement (and is later fired without ceremony when the boss' fetish goes from redheads to blondes), while Monette is accused of this by an older, uglier coworker ("At least all that lying on your back must have done wonders for your posture." "Well seeing as your method gave you bad knees and rancid breath I figured I'd do it differently").
    • The Boys has Billy and Rayner the CIA director, though it's not so a relationship as it is vitriolic, self-imposed hatesex.
    • In Chew, Tony's coworker Colby sleeps with his and Tony's Bad Boss Applebee (to get Applebee off their backs) and later with his USDA boss.
  • June 20, 2013
    XFllo
    Live Action TV:
    • House: Dr. House, Head of the Department of Diagnostic Medicine, got together with his boss and direct supervisor Lisa Cuddy, Dean of Medicine at Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital.

    I haven't actually seen the episodes, so I can't give better context.

    I think you can remove NO PERSONAL EXPERIENCES, PLEASE from the description. I find ALLCAPS kinda ugly (it represents screaming, after all) and Troper Tales are forbidden anyway.
  • June 20, 2013
    Tallens
    • After Lois And Clark got married, there was an episode where Lois gets promoted to the Daily Planet's editor. Clark jokingly says he's looking forward to sleeping with the boss.
  • June 20, 2013
    robbulldog
    Film Played for laughs in Spies Like Us, when Fitzhume tells his coworker that he's arranged an intimate lunch with the boss. Cut to Fitzhume and his attractive boss in bed. And apparently, he just arranged the "intimate lunch" to try to talk his boss into finding a way for him to not take the Foreign Service Board test.
  • June 20, 2013
    JusticeReaper
    @ Chabal2: It would be great if you could supply the name of that comedy where the guy was married to his boss.

    @ X Fllo: Can anyone verify whether House and Cuddy did in fact have a sexual relationship at any point while she's been his boss? I haven't seen any episodes that indicate that, myself.
  • June 20, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ It's mentioned on the character sheet. They even lived together according to the page, though I don't know about Cuddy's arc much and whether she stayed his boss at the time.

    You may check Characters.House, but of course, spoilers ahoy.
  • June 20, 2013
    erforce
    • Janessa in Jason X provides S/M favours to her professor to get herself through midterms.
  • June 20, 2013
    JusticeReaper
    @ erforce: That example is Teacher Student Romance or Hot For Teacher.
  • June 20, 2013
    nielas
    • This is a frequent occurrence on Mad Men. Roger and Don have a habit of sleeping with their secretaries and both married one of them after divorcing their first wives. Peggy had a one night stand with Pete when she was still a secretary and people falsely assume that she was promoted to copywriter because she slept with Don. Megan is propositioned by her female boss when she gets an acting job on a soap opera.
  • June 20, 2013
    TwoGunAngel
    The movie Disclosure plays the gender-reversed version of one of these scenarios for all the drama it can. Meredith Johnson, the ex and new boss of Tom Sanders, tries to restart their relationship, but Tom doesn't want to go through with it due to him being married now. Meredith then out-and-out tries to rape him, forcing him to fight her off. The plot gets kicked off when she files charges of sexual harassment against him.
  • June 21, 2013
    TonyG
    On News Radio, news director Dave had an on-going relationship with reporter Lisa.
  • June 21, 2013
    MiinU

    Film

    • In The Secret of My Success, Mr. Prescott has an ongoing affair with Christy, who's one his employees... which comes to an end, once she gets involved with Brantley Foster (Michael J. Fox).
  • June 25, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Cheers: Sam hooks up with his waitress Diane at the end of season 1 (resolving the UST), and they almost get married at the end of season 5.
  • June 25, 2013
    XFllo
    I'd like to point out that some of the wicks use incorrect Example Indentation.

    INCORRECT:
    • Show X: Example A is...
      • Example B is a subversion.

    CORRECT:
    • Show X: Something general about the show and relevant examples.
      • Example A happens when...
      • Example B is a subversion.
  • June 28, 2013
    TooBah
    Under Film:
    • In City Slickers, a checkout girl from Phil's store breaks into a party he's attending to tell him she's pregnant, so this trope has been in play. Played both for drama, and laughs:
      Ed: ...that's pretty smug advice, coming from a man who mounted an eighteen year old checkout girl on the day-old bread rack.
      Phil: She's twenty - and shut up.
      Ed: Let me get you hot, Phil: "I need a price. Register Nine, I need a price...
      Phil: Cut it out!
      Mitch: [warning] Guys...
      Ed: What did you use for protection, paper or plastic?
  • June 29, 2013
    JusticeReaper
    Just out of curiosity, are there any more comic book and anime/manga examples for this one?
  • June 29, 2013
    randomsurfer
    The Simpsons: Principal Skinner and teacher Mrs. Krabappel had a relationship for several seasons.
  • June 30, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ That one could be considered a subversion of a sort, since Principal Skinner never really seems to be in a dominating role in their relationship even though he's Mrs. Krabappel's boss.
  • June 30, 2013
    Skylite
    • Liar Liar: Jim Carrey's character is sleeping with his boss -- until the wish comes into effect and he makes a truthful (and uncomplimentary) comment about the sex they just had.
  • June 30, 2013
    JusticeReaper
    I'd say that the Simpsons example is in fact playing it straight, since, y'know, Mrs. Krabappel is employed to Principal Skinner, and he's the boss and she's his employee.
  • July 1, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Well, the description sure makes it sound like the power play is a key part of the trope.
  • July 1, 2013
    JusticeReaper
    Well, no, it is not a key part of the trope, although in some cases it does happen. Read the description again.
  • July 2, 2013
    DAN004
    What's the difference with Subordinate Excuse?
  • July 2, 2013
    JusticeReaper
    @ DAN 004: Edited the description to relay the difference between the two. Although, I'd think Subordinate Excuse doesn't necessarily mean the two sides are sleeping together, which is what this trope-idea is about.
  • July 3, 2013
    Tallens
  • July 4, 2013
    JusticeReaper
    Question again: any more anime/manga suggestions for this one? Also, what are everyone's thoughts on the Skinner/Krabappel example from The Simpsons?
  • July 6, 2013
    Tallens
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=03lmglr6dy3kacp0wcsh6os4&trope=SleepingWithTheBoss