Bob from Accounting
Whenever a throwaway character in a Work Com
is introduced, he will often be labeled as someone from the "Accounting department", usually to serve as the straight-man for a joke. Said character's name will also tend to be common and monosyllabic, such as Bob or Bill or Ted or Steve, altogether creating an impression of a staid and two-dimensional
Sometimes said person will betray this impression and be wacky or very unusual in some way, creating humor via contrast. (Their name may be dropped, but we never see their quirky antics
.) Alternatively, the person may be from human resources or some other department that most companies have, especially one not known for its personality.
Once their function in the joke has been fulfilled, they will usually
never be mentioned again.
Films — Animated
- From a TV ad for Magic: The Gathering: "The goblin's out sick? Well, send in Bob. From accounting." Bob From Accounting was actually considered for a card in the joke set Unhinged.
- A commercial for some sort of microwaveable noodle dish. The mascot in question is a miniaturized stereotypical Chinese man, who apparently works in accounting.
- A series of Radio ads for the temp service AccounTemps between a Boss and an HR manager detail the problems when the HR guy fails to get Bob from AccounTemps. An alternative link to the company's website invites the searcher to "get a Bob".
Films — Live-Action
- In the movie version of Horton Hears a Who!, Mayor Ned, not believing that Horton's "voice from the drainpipe" is real, asks if the whole thing is a prank by "Burt, from Accounting". We actually see Burt from Accounting later in the film, though.
- The Incredibles invokes this trope deliberately - and then almost immediately subverts it, because Bob from Accounting is Mr Incredible. It gets even funnier when you realize that his last name, Parr, sounds similar to the word "par," meaning "ordinary." Therefore, Bob Parr's name is supposed to sound generic, even though the rest of him... isn't.
- In Inception, Cobb introduces himself this way when setting up the Mr. Charles gambit.
- The title character in "The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred the Vampire Accountant" by Drew Hayes, does not change his occupation after being turned.
- Ron's family in Harry Potter is all wizards and witches, except for one of his mum's distant cousins who is an accountant. ("We don't talk about him much.") Word of God says the reason the Weasleys don't talk about him is that he has the same opinions of wizards as Harry's Uncle Vernon, i.e. not positive. Originally, he was supposed to appear in the series when his daughter turned out to be a witch and received her Hogwarts letter but the storyline ended up being cut.
- The Dee family, in Robert Sheckley's short-story "The Accountant", is likewise all wizards and witches, except for little Morton Dee, who wants to be an accountant—and has some powerful arguments on his side.
- One of the Vampyr youth in the Discworld novel Carpe Jugulum "pretends to be an accountant". It's the Vampire equivalent of being one of those people who congregate in dark basements and drink cow's blood.
- Charles Stross's The Atrocity Archives has our hero Bob as a nondescript sysadmin in the IT department of "The Laundry", Britain's occult secret service. Being fully aware of the sheer horror and insanity that awaits actual field agents in his line of work, he is more than happy to keep out of harm's way. Fate, of course, decides otherwise, and his prowess in unforeseen circumstances ends up noticed by his superiors, thus subjecting him to being sent into increasingly more dangerous situations. To this day, he is unable to decide whether eldritch extradimensional threats are actually worse than the Laundry's relentless bureaucracy.
- He also used to have an archnemesis: Fred from Accounting. Not for long, though, as Fred falls a victim to demonic possession.
- Also, the Accounting department should not be confused with Accounts. The former does accounting, the latter settles accounts by rather extreme methods. See also "Pimpf".
- The staff on Are You Being Served? make frequent references to the Accounts Department, with a lot of ethnic humour about how they were all Asiannote (par for the course given the show), and in one episode, Mr. Patel from Accounts does appear.
- Early episodes of Just Shoot Me! features mentions of Baxter from Accounting.
- A lot of Chandler's workmates from Friends get this treatment, including "Financial Services Lowell" and "Brian from Payroll".
- In one episode Rachael trys to set her sister up with "Bob from Human Resources". Becomes a Running Gag after she keeps bringing him up.
- From NCIS: Tony's misadventures with female coworkers tend to have names like "Alice from Evidence," etc.
- Scrubs does this with 'X from the gift shop' and 'Y from paediatrics'.
- On NewsRadio, they usually mention various people in Ad Sales.
- John Stossel did a report on taxes, and he showed an elderly man whom he introduced as Bob, his accountant.
- Monty Python loved accountant characters — for example, there's a Flying Circus sketch about one who wanted to become a lion tamer despite his aptitude test showing that he was in no way suited to anything that exciting.
- Also, in the sketch where people are simply falling off a building past a window, one of the two office workers recognized one of them as "Wilkins from Finance".
- Averted in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life with the crew of the Crimson Permanent Assurance, who show that it's fun to charter an accountant and sail the wide accountant-sea...
- Subverted in Sherlock, when "Jim from IT" turns out to be Moriarty.
- Early on in Bones, Zack is often said to be dating "Naomi from Paleontology."
- John Oliver frequently refers to Janice from Accounting during his segments, as in "Janice from accounting don't give a fuck!"
Recorded and Stand-Up Comedy
- Dilbert has a character Scott Adams refers to as Ted the Generic Guy, who usually fills this role. In another strip, Ed from Accounting was the only demon from Heck that wasn't at lunch.
- This trope forms the core of one of Eddie Izzard's Star Trek routines. Stevens from Accounts decides to go on an away mission to figure out why a landing party consisting of Kirk, Spock and McCoy routinely expenses several hundred packed lunches. Things look bad for Stevens as the Captain points out he's wearing a red jumper.
- A YouTube Poop of the "lost series finale" of D'oh Yogi! shows from the opening titles that the series was, "Created by Phil from Accounting".
- Bob Newhart was actually an accountant prior to going into comedy.
- John Major, legendarily dull British prime minister, was the son of an ex-trapeze artist and had an early career in banking, prompting the joke that he was the only man ever to run away from the circus to become an accountant. And knowing that makes Making Money even funnier.