Pointless Profession YKTTW Discussion

Pointless Profession
A character has a job that, due to the nature of the setting, nobody has a use for.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-09-07 05:23:42 sponsor: SonicLover (last reply: 2012-09-16 04:32:50)

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Do We Have This One?? I looked over Occupation Tropes and didn't see it. Formerly Obsolete Occupation.

Since there are no more books, Mr. Wordsworth, there are no more libraries. And of course it follows that there is very little call for the services of a librarian. Case in point: A minister would tell us that his function is preaching the word of God. And of course it follows that since the State has proven that there is no God, that would make the function of a minister academic as well.
-- The Chancellor, The Twilight Zone episode "The Obsolete Man"

I'm not saying the job market is good, but usually no matter what your occupation is, there's someone out there who needs it. Then you've got the character with the Pointless Profession.

They may be a grave-digger in a world where nobody dies, or a cobbler in a place with a Barefoot Cartoon Animal population, or a plumber where nobody seems to have any indoor plumbing, or a TV repairman in a... well, you get the idea.

In most circumstances, their occupation would be pretty useful, but in theirs, not so much. Maybe the relevant technology is obsolete now, or hasn't been invented yet, or has been lost due to Apocalypse How, or simply doesn't function in a way that needs those services. Why they don't just find another job isn't always addressed.


  • The Maytag repairman in the long-running appliance commercials.

Comic Books
  • Watchmen:
    • Hollis Mason retires from the superhero business so he can dedicate himself to repairing cars - only to find out that Dr. Manhattan can use his superpowers to synthesize massive quantities of lithium for batteries in electric cars, rendering the internal combustion engine obsolete. When the story opens, Mason is managing an auto repair shop specializing in vintage cars, which is fast going out of business.
    • Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan) was going to follow his father in the watch repair business, until his father read about the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Osterman Sr. decided then and there that watch repair is an obsolete profession and insisted that his son go into something with a future. Ironically after Osterman loses his humanity he decides to become a Celestial Watchmaker (i.e., a god to some people he's going to go create).

Live Action TV
  • In the first episode of the 1976 American Sitcom Ivan the Terrible (about a family living in Soviet Union-era Moscow) Ivan loses his job as a hotel waiter. He goes to the Moscow Unemployment Office, only to be told that they can't help him - since nobody is unemployed in the Soviet Union they have no precedent, no leads, no nothing. Ivan asks, if there's no unemployment why have an unemployment office? They tell him that if there was no unemployent office everyone who now works there would be unemployed.
  • The Twilight Zone- "The Obsolete Man". Romney Wordsworth is a librarian in a dystopic future that bans books.

  • In William Inge's play The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Rubin Flood is a harness salesman in the 1920s, when the horse and buggy is fast becoming extinct.

  • Tales of the Questor: Quentyn is the first Questor (a ranger for hire, basically) in Freeman Downs in a century; cultural and technological advances having made the position obsolete.

Western Animation
  • In The Backyardigans' double-length episode Robot Rampage, Austin plays a robot repairman... in a city filled with robots... that explicitly never, ever break. The first musical number of the episode is about Austin lamenting the situation.
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