Created By: XFllo on January 20, 2013 Last Edited By: XFllo on March 22, 2013
Troped

Pursue the Dream Job

Character gives up an ordinary job to follow their dream career

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"Can you imagine what it's like cutting the same head for five years? I didn't want to be a barber anyway. I wanted to be a lumberjack. Leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia. The giant redwood, the larch, the fir, the mighty scots pine! The smell of fresh-cut timber! The crash of mighty trees! With my best girlie by my side. We'd sing! Sing! Sing!"
-- Homicidal Barber, Monty Python's Flying Circus

Your character has a perfectly normal job. The job can be solid if slightly boring. The job can be really stultifying. The job can be extremely well-paying and respectable. However, your character knows at heart that it doesn't feel self-fulfilling.

Ultimately, they decide to give it all up and pursue their dream job, usually with creative streak like music, art, writing, or they want to become professional athletes. Sometimes their wish is more mundane, for instance they might want to open their own business. Alternatively, they want to embrace a simpler life or to follow the irresistible call of the wild. If your character chooses farming, then it's Call to Agriculture.

Characters often make huge strides towards their dream career during a Hard Work Montage. Compare to Out of Job, Into the Plot. Contrast with Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life.

Examples from media:

Anime and Manga
  • Inverted in Black Heaven: It opens with a bored and unfulfilled salary man who used to be a rock star; he gave up his musical career for a steady office job so that he could support his family.
  • The main character of One-Punch Man quit being a run of the mill salary man and trained for three years so he could take up superheroing as a hobby.
  • Space Brothers: After being fired from his job, Nanba Muuta opts to pursue his dream to walk on the Moon with his brother as astronauts, and then to be the first man on Mars. The story is about their experiences getting to those goals.

Films - Animated
  • In Robots, Rodney's father wants to be a musician. At the end of the movie, he gets his big chance. Turns out he can't play.
  • The construction worker in the "Rhapsody in Blue" sequence of Disney's Fantasia 2000 eventually quits his job, during The Great Depression no less, to pursue his dream of being a jazz drummer.
  • Mega Mind:
    • Metro Man gets tired of being a super hero and doing what everyone expects him to do, so he quits by faking his death and planning to go into the music business under the name Music Man. He's not very good at it.
    • Megamind himself is an inversion. Being a supervillain was his dream job. When that didn't work out, he became a superhero instead.
  • Ratatouille: A rat named Rémy is a cooking genius and he longs to become a chef. He gets his chance to cook at the restaurant founded by his idol, Auguste Gusteau, where he gets his cooking experience and fame.

Films - Live Action
  • Juno: Mark is interested in music and works as a successful jingle composer. Later in the film, he informs his wife Vanessa that he leaves her and moves down town to become a rock musician as he has always wanted.
  • Tom Weller from Lifetime Movie of the Week If You Believe gave up being a successful lawyer to work on his first novel full time.
  • Aspen Extreme: Man working as a machinist gets an offer for a promotion. He takes this opportunity to quit, going for his dream job as a ski pro.
  • Universal Pictures' Hop featured E.B. refusing to inherit the mantle of The Easter Bunny, escaping instead to Los Angeles seeking to become a drummer in a band.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Toula Portokalos works in her family's Greek restaurant. When she is in her early thirties, she decides to invigorate her life. She goes to college and starts working at a travel agency.
  • In October Sky Homer takes a job in the town's coal mine after it seems his hobby of rocketry has caused a forest fire. He does well there but when he figures out the fire started too far away for a rocket to have started it, he begins pursuing rocketry again, determined to get out of that town and go to college. He eventually goes to work for NASA.

Literature
  • This is the premise of George Orwell's Keep The Aspidistra Flying: an advertising copywriter quits his job to turn his back on the world of money and become a poet. He gradually discovers that having no money sucks.

Live Action TV
  • Friends:
    • Monica's then-boyfriend Pete, an uber-rich businessman, gives up business to become an Ultimate Fighter.
    • Subverted with Chandler who works as a data analyst for a corporate organization but he has always assumed it's temporary. When he's offered a promotion, he quits because he doesn't want to get stuck there. However, he has no idea what he'd like to do instead and the money they offer him is too good, so he returns.
    • Played Straight in later seasons when Chandler learns he's the only one of their gang who hates his job, and pursues a new career in advertising. It seems to have been chosen rather randomly but he really likes it. However, he has to start at the bottom of the career ladder.
    • Phoebe's Love Interest Mike used to be a lawyer, however, he decided to become a professional pianist in his early thirties. It helps that he has some family money.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Marshall Eriksen dreamt of being a lawyer so that he could help the environment. He had several well-paying corporate jobs, but ultimately decided to pursue his ideal job.
    • Randy Wharmpess, who worked for the Goliath National Bank, urged Marshall to fire him so that he can use the compensation payment for founding his own brewery.
  • Key West: Machinist wins lottery, quits to move to Florida and become a writer like his hero Ernest Hemingway.
  • The Joe Schmo Show third season, the Full Bounty. The chosen "schmo" for the season (he's the only "real" person on the reality show, the other competitors are actors) already owned a successful business but nevertheless went on the show, believing he was competing for a dream job to work as the understudy of a world famous bounty hunter named Jake Montrose, and eventually perhaps gain similar fame.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • A barber gives it all up to become a lumberjack. He has a hair phobia and he never really wanted to be a barber anyway.
    • A chartered accountant wants to pursue a career as a lion tamer, but he is discouraged from doing that by a vocation guidance counsellor, who says his aptitude test shows he's perfectly suited for a career in chartered accountancy. Sadly, his ideas about lions are also quite twisted.
      Counsellor: Your report here says that you are an extremely dull person. You see, our experts describe you as an appallingly dull fellow, unimaginative, timid, lacking in initiative, spineless, easily dominated, no sense of humour, tedious company and irrepressibly drab and awful. And whereas in most professions these would be considerable drawbacks, in chartered accountancy they are a positive boon.
  • In Red Dwarf, Dave Lister's dream is to one day move to Fiji and open a Hot Dog Stand. He's a lazy slob who works as a third technician, repairing vending machines on Red Dwarf, a giant spaceship of the Jupiter mining company.
  • Gilmore Girls: Lorelai and her best friend Sookie share a dream of opening their own hotel one day, and they are slowly working on it. At the beginning of the series, Lorelai is a hotel manager, while Sookie works at the same hotel as a very talented chef. Later they buy a historical inn called Dragonfly, they renovate it and start running it to a great success.
  • The Office (US): In the ninth season, Jim decides to become the co-founder of a new business in Philadelphia.

Western Animation
  • Many episodes of Time Squad involve a historical figure changing to another field of work - such as Beethoven becoming a pro-wrestler or Albert Einstein a used car salesman - and it's up to the Squad to get them back in track and keep the timeline stable.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The episode "And Maggie Makes Three" revealed that Homer once quit the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant to become a pin-monkey at the local bowling alley as soon as he got out of debt. Once he learned that Marge was pregnant with Maggie, however, he tried to get a raise by attracting more customers, but was ultimately forced to give up the job and go back to the power plant.
    • Ned left his job as a company clerk to open a store for left-handed people.
  • In The Fairly OddParents episode "Dread 'N' Breakfast", Timmy's dad left his current job in order to make and sell sock monkeys.

Real Life
  • The author of Tsuribaka Nisshi stopped being a bank teller, and instead decided to become a Mangaka despite knowing how difficult it would be at his age.

Community Feedback Replies: 48
  • January 20, 2013
    Megaptera
    Can we put the inverse in here too, or is it a different trope?

    Anime & Manga:
    • Black Heaven opens with a bored and unfulfilled salaryman who used to be a rock star; he gave up his musical career for a steady office job so that he could support his family.
  • January 20, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • Aspen Extreme: Man working as a machinist, gets an offer for a promotion. He takes this opportunity to quit, going for his dream job as a ski pro.
    • Key West: Machinist wins lottery, quits to move to Florida and become a writer like his hero Ernest Hemingway.

    EDIT: Is this basically half of Out Of Job Into The Plot? (The half where they quit, not the half where they get fired/laid off.)
  • January 27, 2013
    Met
    In the movie The Egg And I, Fred Mac Murray's character gives up his office job as some stodgy suit-wearer and buys a defunct farm in the middle of nowhere, dragging his new bride with him. It's been his dream to raise chickens.

  • February 3, 2013
    LobsterMagnus
    Another example for How I Met Your Mother:
    • And then there was Randy Wharmpess, who, during the time when both worked for the Goliath National Bank, urged Marshall to fire him so that he can use the compensation payment for founding his own brewery.
  • February 4, 2013
    XFllo
    Thank you for the examples! Also any ides on expanding the description are most welcome.

    Out Of Job Into The Plot seems to me to be a sister trope. though I am not experienced in establishing the relationships among the tropes. Any fedback on that?
  • February 7, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Universal Pictures' Hop featured E.B. refusing to inherit the mantle of The Easter Bunny, escaping instead to Los Angeles seeking to become a drummer in a band.
  • February 8, 2013
    robinjohnson
    Literature
    • This is the premise of George Orwell's Keep The Aspidistra Flying: an advertising copywriter quits his job to turn his back on the world of money and become a poet. He gradually discovers that having no money sucks.
  • February 11, 2013
    TonyG
    • Green Acres is about a city lawyer who gives up law to become a farmer.
    • In Robots, Rodney's father wants to be a musician. At the end of the movie, he gets his big chance. Turns out he can't play.
  • February 20, 2013
    MokonaZero
    Real Life:
    • The author of Tsuribaka Nisshi stopped being a bank teller, and instead decided to become a Mangaka despite knowing how difficult it would be at his age.
  • February 23, 2013
    XFllo
    I just found a very close trope, Call To Agriculture. Do you think it's a sister trope? Or this trope's sub trope?
  • February 24, 2013
    Tallens
    • The construction worker in the "Rhapsody in Blue" sequence of Fantasia 2000 eventually quits his job, during The Great Depression no less, to pursue his dream of being a jazz drummer.
  • February 24, 2013
    sgamer82
    • The main character of One Punch Man quit being a run of the mill salary man and trained for three years so he could take up superheroing as a hobby.
  • February 24, 2013
    randomsurfer
    On Friends Monica's then-boyfriend, an uber-rich businessman, gives up business to become an Ultimate Fighter.
  • February 25, 2013
    XFllo
    Thanks for all the examples. It seems to me they are mostly with music, art, writing and sport. Call To Agriculture can be safely a separate trope. I'm not still sure whether these to are sister tropes or if Call to Agriclture is a sub-trope as being more specific.
  • February 27, 2013
    TonyG
    Many episodes of Time Squad involve a historical figure changing to another field of work - such as Beethoven becoming a pro-wrestler or Albert Einstein a used car salesman - and it's up to the Squad to get them back in track and keep the timeline stable.
  • March 7, 2013
    XFllo
    Needs Examples.

    And criticism. Or hats;-)
  • March 7, 2013
    MokonaZero
    Hatted. Ah, now I understand, this trope is just in-universe stuff. Is there already a trope for real life? Or will there just be no real life examples?
  • March 7, 2013
    katiek
    Don't forget that they often make huge strides towards their dream career during a Hard Work Montage. This happens in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and Ratatouille, among others. I will try to think of some more.

  • March 7, 2013
    Lawman592
    On a flashback episode of The Simpsons, Homer quits his job at the nuclear plant for his "dream job" as a pin setter at the bowling alley. However, the need for more family income resulting from the birth of Maggie forces him to leave and go back to the nuclear plant.
  • March 7, 2013
    NESBoy
    The episode "And Maggie Makes Three" from The Simpsons revealed that Homer once quit the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant to become a pin-monkey at the local bowling alley as soon as he got out of dept. Once he learns that Marge is pregnant with Maggie, however, he is forced to give up the job and go back to the power plant.
  • March 7, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ & ^^ It seems like you guys had the idea at the exact same moment. Thank you both.

    ^^^ Thanks. I wasn't aware of that trope. I'll add it to the draft. You'd be very kind if you wrote the examples to be added to the list.

    @Mokona Zero: This trope is just in-universe stuff. Is there already a trope for real life? Or will there just be no real life examples? I don't see why this trope should have a ban for it. I think this topic is fairly safe and no Flame Bait. Real Life examples could be nice, actually; it's just that I didn't think of any when I was writing the draft.

    Also, this: What do you think of the name? I couldn't think of anything particularly witty. Any ideas? Or is it just fine?
  • March 7, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    Mega Mind: Metro Man gets tired of being a super hero and doing what everyone expects him to do, so he quits by faking his death and planning to go into the music business under the name Music Man. (He's not very good at it).
    • Megamind himself could be considered an inversion. Being a supervillain was his dream job. When that didn't work out, he became a superhero.

    I like the title. It's descriptive and precise. If I would make one change, I would spell it with a 'the', Pursue The Dream Job, since there's usually only one dream job the characters really care about.
  • March 7, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ The first working title was Pursuing Your Dream Job, but I changed it. Good point with the article. I will modify it.

    That second example of yours -- is it really an inversion? I have sometimes problems to identify correctly Playing With examples. But until somebody screams it's not an inversion, I'll believe you. :-)


    Pardon my meddling, but you have a little mistake in Example Indentation, actually the most common one here on the wiki. I've discovered it myself only very recently -- that it's a mistake.

    Correct:
    • SHOW:
      • Example A.
      • Example B.

    Incorrect:
    • SHOW: Example A.
      • Example B.

  • March 9, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    "Pursue The Dream Job" is fine with me. My hat's in.
  • March 9, 2013
    Tallens
    • In October Sky Homer takes a job in the town's coal mine after it seems his hobby of rocketry has caused a forest fire. He does well there but when he figures out the fire started too far away for a rocket to have started it, he begins pursuing rocketry again, determined to get out of that town and go to college. He eventually goes to work for NASA.
  • March 9, 2013
    troacctid
    • The Office US: In the ninth season, Jim decides to become the co-founder of a new business in Philadelphia.
  • March 10, 2013
    JMQwilleran
    The Joe Schmo Show third season-- the Full Bounty. The chosen "schmo" for the season (he's the only "real" person on the reality show, the other competitors are actors) already owned a successfully business but nevertheless went on the show believing he was competing for a dream job to work as the understudy of a world famous bounty hunter named Jake Montrose, and eventually perhaps gain similar fame.
  • March 10, 2013
    XFllo
    It seems to be more or less ready for launching. It has received five hats. Thank you, guys, I feel honoured and thrilled to have a trope about to be launched. Hopefully it won't lose any of them. ;-)

    I'd say it might be good to wait about a week if anyone brings serious criticism or new ideas for the description.

    BTW, I think the description might be too short but perhaps brevity is wit and it's good enough. What say you?

    Thanks for the examples.

    I moved the ones from The Egg And I and Green Acres to Call To Agriculture.

    The example from The Office US could use some elaboration. Has it been always his dream to be an independent businessman? Was he bored in his old job?

    ^And boy, reality shows are cruel. I haven't even heard about that one!

  • March 12, 2013
    XFllo
    Somebody removed a hat and added a tag description needs help. Though sadly without any comment. I honestly have no idea what to write more. What would be actually useful and add to the article.

    Perhaps how it's played? I don't think I can generalize because sometimes there are consequences for this decision, but often you don't see it in works.

    It might be good to decide the relationship to Call To Agriculture but I really cannot decide whether it's a Sister Trope (follow your dream, agriculture is a very prominent choice on the same level as other jobs like music and art) or Super Trope (Pursue The Dream Job is general and agriculture is a just a Sub Trope).
  • March 13, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Live Action TV:
    • Monty Pythons Flying Circus:
      • A barber gives it all up to become a Lumberjack.
      • A chartered accountant wants to pursue a career as a Lion Tamer, but he is discouraged from doing that by a Vocation Guidence Counselor, who says his aptitude test shows he's perfectly suited for a career in chartered accountency.
        Your report here says that you are an extremely dull person. You see, our experts describe you as an appallingly dull fellow, unimaginative, timid, lacking in initiative, spineless, easily dominated, no sense of humour, tedious company and irrepressibly drab and awful. And whereas in most professions these would be considerable drawbacks, in chartered accountancy they are a positive boon.
  • March 13, 2013
    XFllo
    ^ How could I forget about these! :-D
  • March 13, 2013
    Poprocks311
    In the The Fairly Odd Parents Timmys dad in onwe episode is upset thatn his job is so mundane so he spends the enire episode trying out different new "cool" jobs in order to impress Timmy and Timmy's friends.
  • March 13, 2013
    randomsurfer
    On The Simpsons Ned left his job as a pharmecudical company clerk to open a store for left-handed people.
  • March 14, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    I vaguely remember the Fairly Oddparents example, but are you sure that he was pursuing his dream job? I remember that he was just trying out new jobs so that Timmy would think that he's cool, while he actually preferred the job he had. I'm not sure that that qualifies for this trope.
  • March 14, 2013
    xanderiskander
    • This is essentially the plot to Space Brothers. After being fired from his job Nanba Muuta opts to persue his dream to one day walk on the moon with his brother as an astronaut, and then be the first man on mars. The story is about their experiences getting to those goals.
  • March 14, 2013
    XFllo
    ^^ I removed it for now. I'm not familiar with that show but you're right that it doesn't seem to be his dream job. More like trying to be cool for my kid's benefit, if there is a trope for it.
  • March 14, 2013
    XFllo
    What do you think of the quote? Is it too long? I couldn't resist. ;-)
  • March 14, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Fixed a typo in the first Simpsons example: dept->debt.
  • March 15, 2013
    XFllo
    Setting the launch clock. Let's wait some more.
  • March 16, 2013
    Duncan
    In Red Dwarf, Dave Lister's dream is to one day move to Fiji and open a Hot Dog Stand.
  • March 16, 2013
    waffledood
    In The Fairly Odd Parents episode Dread 'N' Breakfast, Timmy's dad left his current job in order to make and sell sock monkeys
  • March 16, 2013
    XFllo
    I slightly extended the definition to include more mundane wishes like opening your own business.


    Also, consider checking this ykttw called Lumberjack Aaspirations: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ooe7ycv756vqbpssf4pxehqr It might have some potential even though its tropability is discussed.
  • March 17, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    The trope looks good. It's got a good description, it's got plenty of examples. The name is clear and precise. I don't know what we're waiting for. This trope is good to go.
  • March 17, 2013
    Quag15
    ^I concur. Somebody give the fifth hat to this already!
  • March 17, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Added a hat. This trope looks pretty solid to me, and I've seen it before in works plenty of times.
  • March 17, 2013
    Sackett
    Isn't this called Chasing The Dream?

    That how I've always heard to referred to. "I've decided to go chase the dream." Or "I want to chase the dream for a while."
  • March 17, 2013
    XFllo
    ^^ Thanks for the final hat (also, thanks to all who hatted this draft). I was actually surprised we don't have this already.

    ^ I've never heard that phrase, but it's possible. I'll do some searching and Googling. However, I think Pursue The Dream Job is more descriptive and this trope is really about jobs and career, not any dream like say family or hobbies.
  • March 20, 2013
    XFllo
    note to self -- indexes:

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=qu20qw8tpz58vb4zlj5zkla7