"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy."Alice is all work, all the time and never has time to have fun because fun is not productive. Meanwhile, Bob only cares about having fun all the time and claims to be allergic to work. If only there was some sort of golden mean... Usually, a scenario to give An Aesop about balance between responsibility and leisure, this has been seen incarnated in different ways through media but at times is just the essential characteristic between two characters. Compare All Take and No Give.
— Maria Edgeworth, Irish novelist
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Anime & Manga
- Agon and Unsui of Eyeshield 21. Though this seems to stem from what they were born with. Agon's incredibly talented and a quicker learner so he's never needed to work. Unsui is an average guy with an inferiority complex.
- In Axis Powers Hetalia, Germany (all work) vs. Italy (all play).
- Liszt and Alice Kiriki in Ōkami-san. Due to the series' fairy tale theme, they're based on the Ur-Example below (List being the Grasshopper, and Alice being the Ant).
- Haruhi (work) and Tamaki (play) in Ouran High School Host Club, due to their social backgrounds. Really, Haruhi vs. the entire host club (minus Kyouya and arguably Mori) are this.
- Siblings Taihei and Umaru are All Work and All Play respectively in Himouto! Umaru-chan. This gets played with in a few chapters, however. In one case, Taihei takes some vacation time and, once all the chores are caught up on and Umaru isn't home from school yet, finds himself incredibly bored, but starts to develop an interest in cooking as a hobby. Umaru skips school and stays home while Taihei goes to work, but soon feels guilty and goes to school after all.
- Averted in Highlights' Goofus and Gallant where you are meant to always root for Gallant, the All Work.
- Subverted in a Lupo Alberto strip: a grasshopper knocks at the anthill's door, the ant tells him he should have worked during summer and to scram... And the grasshopper tells him to shut up, because he's there to bring the tickets for his next concert that the queen has bought, and he should hurry in bringing them to the queen before she rips his antenna's.
Films — Animation
- Brave: Merida is a Rebellious Princess who neglects her royal duties to do what she wants, Queen Elinor is The High Queen who is concerned about following tradition and fulfilling responsibilities more than anything. By the end of the movie, Merida learns to be less selfish and be more responsible, while her mother learns to be more relaxed and forebearing.
- The Princess and the Frog: Tiana is All Work, Naveen is All Play. They adapt and rub off on each other over the course of the movie.
Films — Live-Action
- Cameron Diaz is the All-Play character to Toni Collette in In Her Shoes.
- Metropolis is kind of like this, except that most of the population lives in constant toil and misery in order to facilitate the lazy decadent lifestyle of the privileged few. The moral of the story is that a compromise between the extremes needs to be found, but it's more about reforming the straw capitalist state than about the virtue of moderation.
- Uptown Girls: Molly is all play, Ray is all work.
- Hot Fuzz - Workaholic supercop Nicholas Angel is shunted off to a sleepy village for making every other London police officer look bad. In his first week, he learns that pubs in Sandford allow a certain amount of underage drinking for the "greater good", getting drunk and nearly hitting a fellow office with your car means you have to pay for the ice cream for a while, and there hasn't been a murder in decades. Then the "accidents" start...
- Combined with Technician Vs Performer in Rush. James Hunt is a playboy, arriving at the track with last night's conquest on his arm and his eyes peeled for tonight's. Niki Lauda will have been there for several hours already, working on his car's setup.
- The Ur-Example is in one of the Aesop's Fables, "The Grasshopper and the Ants", though that one supports the Ant's philosophy (work first, because winter is coming).
- Norton Juster's children's book The Dot And The Line, famously adapted into an animated short directed by Chuck Jones. The Line is All Work while the Squiggle, his romantic rival for the Dot's affection, is All Play. The Line only gets the girl because he learns to bend a little (quite literally) and be creative, giving the Dot a Love Interest who's the best of both worlds.
- The French children's book Fattypuffs and Thinifers where two countries go to war: the Fattypuffs, who are fat and only care about pleasure and relaxation, and the Thinifer, who are a bunch of thin bitter workaholics.
- The elvish society in the Hollow Kingdom Trilogy is based around beauty and leisure with no hard work. The goblins in the story disapprove of their lifestyle and are hard working.
- H. G. Wells The Time Machine has the Morlocks (All Work) and the Eloi (All Play), and is actually an Aesop of the "If This Goes On" variety about the class differences of Victorian England.
- The conflict between an active life and a life devoted to abstract intellectual pursuits is one of the central themes of The Glass Bead Game.
- The March sisters in Little Women try an experiment that involves all play and no work only to find that they are incredibly bored by the end of it, thus providing An Aesop that one really needs a balance of the two to be satisfied.
- Liz Lemmon on 30 Rock is all work while everyone else (especially the writers, who want to avoid actual work as much as possible) is all play.
- Drake & Josh: Josh is All Work and Drake is All Play
- Fraggle Rock: Fraggles are All Play and Doozers are All Work.
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Carlton is All Work and Will is All Play.
- Carlton lampshades this trope several times. In one episode he even compares himself and Will to "The Grasshopper and the Ants".
Carlton: See, the grasshopper goofed off, while the ant worked hard storing up food for the winter. When the winter came, the ant had food, but the grasshopper starved to death. You know what the moral of the story is?
Will: Yep! Even if we were insects, I'd be bigger than you.
- Say what you will about Will, but he technically was the first person to start looking for a job. He's streetwise enough to earn his own way, but when it comes to actual schoolwork, Carlton trumps him easily. An entire episode is actually dedicated to how Will is a much better job worker than Carlton, simply because he's less tempestuous to deal with.
- Carlton lampshades this trope several times. In one episode he even compares himself and Will to "The Grasshopper and the Ants".
- Joey Tribbiani on Friends pursues an acting career while Chandler Bing takes a steady job and holds down rent.
- Well...kind of holds down rent...
- Although both of them are definitely All Play to Ross's All Work.
- Full House: Danny is All Work, Jesse and Joey are All Play.
- Moonlighting: Maddie is All Work; David is All Play...
- The Office (US): Dwight is All Work; Jim is All Play.
- Oobi: Oobi and Kako are All Play; their teacher Maestru is All Work.
- My Two Dads: Michael is All Work; Joey is All Play.
- On Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina's Aunt Zelda tends to be All Work, while Aunt Hilda tends to be All Play. There is an episode where the two magically switch personalities....
- Charlie Sheen has embodied the all play character against two all-work characters in two different TV shows. In Spin City, he was the foil to Heather Locklear and in Two and a Half Men, he's the foil to his brother
- Hilarity Ensues: that's pretty much Sheen's MO in real life now.
- The Suite Life of Zack and Cody: Cody is All Work; Zack is All Play.
- In Wings, Joe is All Work and Brian is All Play.
- In many episodes of Supernatural like "Hollywood Babylon" and "Tall Tales", Sam is all work and Dean is all play.
- Rimmer and Lister in Red Dwarf are like this, at least to start with. Rimmer is career-obsessed, despite being the second-lowest rank on the ship, and tries to enforce the rules and protocols of the Space Corps even after the entire crew (except Lister) have died, while Lister spent most of his time before the crew died slacking off and getting drunk with his mates, and his plan for the journey back to Earth is to 'slob around' and 'have a few laughs'.
- Catherine: Vincent's two love interests, Katherine and Catherine. Katherine is all work - a strong-willed, mature career woman who wants Vincent to be the best he can be. Catherine, meanwhile, is all play - an impulsive, sexy girl who wants to have fun regardless of the consequences. Vincent starts out as a Lazy Bum who doesn't really play or work as much as he should, but he can choose either woman by the end--or neither, and pursue his own dreams.
- Fire Emblem Awakening: Nowi is all play, despite being around 1,000 years old. Her daughter winds up being all work, in an unusual example of this trope.
- Fatal Fury: Terry is all play, spending most of his time on playing arcade machines and eating cheeseburgers. His brother Andy, however, is all work, spending most of his time in Japan honing his skills. Despite this, Terry was always ahead of Andy because of his greater fighting skills and natural talent.
- Little Busters!: Haruka, a mischevious Genki Girl always causing trouble, versus Kanata, a strict stickler for the rules and straight A student. This is because they're twins, and while Kanata was always played up as the 'good' twin and expected to do well and forced to act in line with the family, Haruka was constantly told that she was inferior and essentially disowned by them.
- Nameless - The One Thing You Must Recall -: This is one of the main personality conflicts between roommates/former dolls Lance and Red.
- Deconstructed with Percy and Ava from Superego. Their extreme stances on the work-play spectrum are symptomatic of their deep issues. Percy is a perfectionist who suffers from constant anxiety about doing things methodically, while Ava is an attention-seeker due to being ignored in favor of her older, "perfect" sister during childhood.
- Arthur: Arthur tends to be the All Work, while Buster is usually the All Play. Same with Francine (All Work) and Muffy (All Play) as well as Brain (All Work) and Binky (All Play), if those characters are paired together.
- Dexter's Laboratory:
- Played with with Dexter and Dee Dee (respectively All Work and All Play), where there would be episodes where Dexter would be more relaxed like Dee Dee or Dee Dee more work-minded like Dexter only to turn back at the end. Status Quo Is God or an aesop of being yourself?
- Sometimes averted in certain episodes, as Dexter frequently worries about normal things for a boy his age, such as his favorite television heroes, and being liked by the neighborhood kids.
- In one episode, Dexter briefly attended college and was put off by how most of the students were more interested in partying. However, he overdoes it on his studying and suffers a nervous breakdown, and when he's actually willing to party, everybody else is concentrating on their schoolwork.
- Three Little Pigs: The first two pigs are All Play, while the third is All Work.
- In The Simpsons, Marge and Lisa are All Work while Homer and Bart are All Play. This gets lampshaded a couple of times.
- There are two sets of characters in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic that fit this dynamic.
- Applejack is a solid and reliable hard worker, who will faithfully help her friends even at the risk of overextending herself. Rainbow Dash is Brilliant, but Lazy and would rather nap and save her work for the last moment. Some episodes display a Friendly Rivalry between the two. Subverted, however, when Rainbow Dash is pursuing her dreams of a Wonderbolt. She DOES try hard. She's also an example of Hard Work Hardly Works.
- Twilight Sparkle is the studious pupil of Princess Celestia herself, who can always be found studying or using her powers of Super OCD to organize an event. Pinkie Pie is a Cloudcuckoolander who doesn't always pay close attention to whatever's going on and whose answer to any problem is to throw a party at it. Literally at it; she has a party cannon.
- This is highlighted in the episode "Magical Mystery Cure", where Twilight accidentally swaps the destinies/lives of her friends. The playful Pinkie Pie is now an apple-farmer. This goes as well as can be expected.
Pinkie Pie: I ain't much for picking fruit, and ploughing fields ain't such a hoot
No matter what I try I cannot fix this busted water chute!
I've got so many chores to do, its no fun being me...
But it's got to be mah destiny, 'cause it's what my cutie mark is telling me!
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Chip is All Work and Dale is All Play.
- Henry and Stanley in The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, though Henry isn't as uptight as most examples.
- Sonic and Princess Sally in Sonic Satam. While Sonic is one of the most active Freedom Fighters, he tends to treat missions like a game and fool around, while Sally is a humorless workaholic who constantly berates him for being reckless. A lot of the time Sonic's careless attitude gives an opening for the villains, though he has occasional moments of brilliance.
- From Gravity Falls, the Pines brothers. As they grew up from childhood, Ford became all work, and Stan remained all play. This drove a wedge between the twins to the point that Ford was willing to abandon Stan for an (admittedly serious) honest mistake. While Stan has become a little better about this in his adult years, Ford largely remains at his extreme. Averted with their nephew and niece, Dipper and Mabel Pines. While Dipper is the more serious, mature twin, he certainly knows when to loosen up and have fun, and Mabel is playful and fun-loving, but knows when to be serious. They get along a lot better than their uncles.
- On Class of the Titans, Jay is All Work and Neil is All Play. The others fall somewhere in the middle, and usually take turns trying to persuade Jay to loosen up a bit. (Getting Neil to be more serious is generally understood to be a lost cause.)
- In Inner Workings, Paul's Brain is All Work, believing that any deviation from Paul's humdrum life will have disastrous consequences, while Paul's Heart is All Play, wanting Paul to break out of his routine and enjoy life more. The Brain gradually realizes that he's just making Paul miserable, and learns to let Paul lighten up a little.