-->A man who doesn't know how to do anything goes to work as a guard. A woman who doesn't know how to do anything goes to work as a prostitute. Both jobs are basically the same thing; sleeping for money.
--->--[[RussianHumor A Russian joke]]

A NarrativeDevice especially common in film and TV, though not limited to them.

This is the job where a once famous or admired character is "reduced to this!" More dire than a DayJob, this is a stereotypical last-resort job to which has-beens, or {{Impoverished Patrician}}s or {{Fallen Hero}}es have resorted, just to pay the bills. The Fallen on Hard Times Job is often the starting point for a protagonist's RedemptionQuest (with accompanying GonnaFlyNowMontage). It can also serve as a recruiting station for a RagtagBandOfMisfits or PuttingTheBandBackTogether. Such jobs include:

* Party organisers for actors (''PartyDown'')
* Hotel lounges for musicians (''BluesBrothers'')
* Dinner theater or [[ClassicallyTrainedExtra background work]] for actors (''TeamAmerica'', ''Film/{{Soapdish}}'', ''Auto-Focus'')
* [[AmbulanceChaser Personal-injury work for lawyers]] (''ErinBrockovich'', ''LegalAffairs'')
* Cheesy ice shows for figure skaters (''BladesOfGlory'')
* Sideshows for characters with unusual abilities (''Film/XMenOriginsWolverine'')
* Enforcer or DumbMuscle for boxers (''OnTheWaterfront'', ''Film/DareDevil'', ''{{Rocky}}'')
* Youth coach for athletes (''TheBadNewsBears'')
* [[PoliceAreUseless Rent-a-cop]] or [[PaulBlartMallCop mall security]] for police agents (''NationalSecurity'')
* Entertaining kids at birthday parties (''Film/{{Ghostbusters}} 2'')
* Really any blue collar stuff ([[TheTaxi taxi driver]], cook, [[SoulSuckingRetailJob retail]], [[BurgerFool fast food]], etc) for various commando/spec ops military officers and immigrants whose merits ([[WorthlessForeignDegree university degrees]], positions, nobility) in their country are worthless in this country.
* Ghost-writing ExtrudedBookProduct for authors.
* [[SmarmyHost Hosting low-end talk shows]]
* SculleryMaid for runaway FairyTale {{Princess}}es
* [[AgnesGrey Governess]] for Real Life FallenPrincess
* More or less everything for the ImpoverishedPatrician

Compare FormerRegimePersonnel, when a lot of secret policemen, commandos, spies and similar people end up fallen on hard times at once. The most common FallenOnHardTimesJob for them is [[TheMafia mafia]] [[TheMafiya soldier]]. Also compare WorthlessForeignDegree, in which highly educated immigrants end up in menial jobs. Contrast WaitingForABreak which is about aspiring actors and film writers doing a day job whilst ''attempting'' to make it big. Can lead to a ScrapHeapHero if the person is called back to duty.
----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Advertising]]
* An old Discover Card commercial depicts a fictional HairMetal band called Danger Kitty (whose members are played by hair metal parody group SteelPanther) rising to great fame and fortune in the early 1980s before falling into obscurity. At the end of the commercial one of the members of Danger Kitty is seen working at a hot dog stand.
[[/folder]]


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* One ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'' episode revolves around a former boxer who's now an instructor ([[spoiler:and who's also making some extra cash through espionage]]).
* In ''HeatGuyJ'', Kia is a struggling musician, and to make ends meet, he usually waits tables or works other odd-jobs. Also, Shogun ''used'' to be a big-time [[TheMafia mob boss]], but he had a HeelFaceTurn and mostly retired from that life, and he now sells pottery and non-perishable foods (such as rice). While it is just something to support himself [[spoiler: plus Daisuke and Shun in their youth]], he does genuinely enjoy it and it gives him a sense of purpose. [[spoiler: He also moonlights as the leader of an underground vigilante group.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Ballads]]
* In the Literature/{{Child Ballad|s}} ''Literature/TheLordOfLornAndTheFalseSteward'', the title lord, being [[IGaveMyWord oathbound]] not to reveal who he is, is reduced to working as a shepherd, and later as a stable boy.
* In the Literature/{{Child Ballad|s}} ''Literature/TheFamousFlowerOfServingMen'', the heroine pulls a SweetPollyOliver and works for the king as his chamberlain.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fairy Tales]]
* SculleryMaid, in "Literature/CapORushes", "Literature/{{Catskin}}", "[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/cinderella/stories/katie.html Katie Woodencloak]]", "[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/cinderella/stories/rashin.html Rashin Coatie]]", "[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/donkeyskin/stories/allfur.html All-Kinds-of-Fur]]", "[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/donkeyskin/stories/kingdaughter.html The King Who Wished Marry To His Daughter]]", and many, many, many more.
** Also in ''[[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/authors/jacobs/english/fishring.html The Fish And The Ring]]'', where it is a chance to fulfill a prophecy as it turns out, not a place to go to the ball from.
* In ''Literature/TheGooseGirl'', the goose girl is actually the true princess.
* In ''Literature/CatherineAndHerFate'', Catherine goes through an entire series of jobs before she finds one abject enough that her Fate doesn't ruin it for her.
* In Literature/IronHans, the prince works first in the kitchen and then gets demoted to gardener.
* In the Italian fairy tale ''The Devil's Breeches'', the impoverished hero ''tries'' to support himself working as a valet, but [[SoBeautifulItsACurse either the wife or sister of each master falls in love with him for his beauty]], and he has to quit to avoid complications.
* In ''Literature/TheBrownBearOfTheGreenGlen'', John works for the smith.
* In ''Literature/FairBrow'', his wife paints to support them.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* In ''Film/{{Beerfest}}'', the ragtag beer-drinking team recruits from their old college buddies: one's now a carny, and another's a street hustler.
* ''Film/BladesOfGlory'' brings us one ex-superstar skater who's a stockboy at a sporting-goods store, and one drunkenly lurching his way through a children's skating show.
* ''Film/TheBluesBrothers'': Jake and Elwood reassemble their old band from members who are currently making their ends meet as lounge musicians, and short-order cooks. (Also, a maitre d'--but he actually prefers this position over his job as a musician, so Jake and Elwood have to resort to blackmail to make him rejoin the band.)
* In ''Film/TheLastCommand'', Sergius went from a Russian Grand Duke and army general, to working as a Hollywood extra for $7.50 a day, thanks to RedOctober.
* Bruce Willis' character in ''Film/TheFifthElement'' starts out this way, being a former decorated soldier working a lousy job as a taxi driver.
* In ''Film/TheGoodbyeGirl'', after Elliot's ''Theatre/RichardIII'' show closes after one disastrous performance, Elliot takes a job as a sidewalk barker outside a strip club.
* In Peter Jackson's ''Film/KingKong2005'', entertainer Ann Darrow faces the prospect of becoming a burlesque chorus girl--in that day, pretty much one step above stripping.
* In ''Film/TheMuppets'', Fozzie is stuck playing in a Muppets cover band.
* Before getting his big break, the failed boxer Film/{{Rocky}} works as a debt collector for a local loan shark.
* In ''Film/NationalSecurity'', Hank becomes a security guard after being fired from the police force.
* Several members of the 2001 ''Film/OceansEleven'' team are recruited from jobs like these.
* In ''Film/RagingBull'' (as well as RealLife), boxer Jake [=LaMotta=] ends up a seedy bar owner and stand-up comic.
* The protagonist of ''Film/{{Rounders}}'' drives a delivery truck for a living whenever he busts out and loses all his money playing {{poker}}.
* In ''Film/TheWholeTenYards'', Creator/BruceWillis's retired hit-man character is spending his time as the world's most trying househusband.
* When Creator/MickeyRourke's character in ''Film/TheWrestler'' is forced to leave the ring--even at the low-level promotion he had been with since falling from national stardom--he resorts to working the deli counter at a grocery store.
* Subverted in ''Film/ManOnTheMoon''. After acheiving national fame on ''Series/{{Taxi}}'', Creator/AndyKaufman (Creator/JimCarrey) is seen bussing tables at a deli, ''while the show is still on the air.'' When people recognize him, he just tells them "I get that all the time." That was based on real life. Andy refused to quit his busboy job, in part because he never liked the show or his character and didn't want to be dependent on it.
* In ''Film/{{Soapdish}}'', Jeffrey Anderson (Creator/KevinKline) has sunk from a prominent daytime television role to performing as Willy Loman in ''Theatre/DeathOfASalesman'' in a rundown Florida dinner theatre for an audience of uninterested senior citizens. Half of his audience are too hard of hearing to know what he's saying, the other half are too distracted to care.
* ''Film/TheHobbit'' shows Thorin Oakenshield, Durin's heir, working as a blacksmith in the time between the razing of the kingdom and his quest to restore it.
* The start of ''Film/{{Ghostbusters}} 2'' shows two members using their ghost-fighting gear to (unsuccessfully) entertain children at a birthday party. Another member is hosting a hack-psychic show.
* In ''Film/ShaolinSoccer'', the team's coach had suffered from a CareerEndingInjury in the beginning and is now working as an errand boy for his teammate now chairman who caused his injury. Also, the former Shaolin monks except one are working for a meager living.
* Slightly meta example: in ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'', BettyBoop is seen working as a nightclub cigarette girl following the arrival of colour cartoons.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* When [[HonestJohnsDealership Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler]] from ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' is found selling sausages, it's a sure sign that yet another get-rich-quick scheme has blown up in his face. Strangely, convincing people to buy and eat his guaranteed-some-kind-of-meat sausages is something he's very, ''very'' good at.
* In Creator/GKChesterton's ''The Tales of the Long Bow'', Elizabeth Seymour, ImpoverishedPatrician, has taken a job with better grace than most.
-->''I suppose most people would call me a failure and all my people failures now; except those who would say we never failed, because we never had to try. Anyhow, we're all poor enough now; I don't know whether you know that I've been teaching music. I dare say we deserved to go. I dare say we were useless. Some of us tried to be harmless.''
* In Creator/PGWodehouse's ''Jill The Reckless'', after her money was lost, Jill escapes nasty relatives and ends up resorting to work as a chorus girl.
* In the ChivalricRomance ''Sir Isumbras'', Isumbras is reduced to menial work as TheBlacksmith.
* In ''The Spine of the World'' by R.A. Salvatore, the barbarian adventurer Wulfgar's post-traumatic stress disorder after spending a few years as a demon lord's prisoner causes him to lose his heart for adventuring. He becomes an alcoholic and takes a job as a bouncer at a seedy tavern in order to support his drinking habit.
* In a crossover with RealLife, showing what times were really like for the disabled around the year 1918, Mary Grant Bruce's book ''Back To Billabong'' has the Linton family see a disabled youth offering for sale toy gas-filled balloons as well as matches in a London street. Since the Lintons are reasonably well off, they buy his whole stock of balloons to help him out without insulting him (and then give the balloons to a random youngster shortly afterward).
* In ''The Devil You Know'' by Mike Carey, professional exorcist ''Literature/FelixCastor'' works as a magician at a child's birthday party. This may be a ShoutOut to the ''Film/{{Ghostbusters}}'' films (above).
* Lampshaded by Creator/LoisMcMasterBujold in ''Shards of Honor'': Aral Vorkosigan (Admiral, Hero of the Barraran Empire, Confidant of the Emperor, Butcher of Komarr, etc, etc) notes that he'd be unlikely to even get a job as a judo instructor on Beta Colony.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action Television]]
* On ''Series/{{Cheers}}'', Carla's husband got cut from the Boston Bruins, and ended up wearing a penguin suit in the Ice Capades. (Eventually, a rogue Zamboni machine killed him.)
* ''Series/{{Hack}}'' features a disgraced police detective reduced to working as a cab driver. He still considers it preferable to serving as muscle for a local gangster.
* After their wrongful imprisonment, the paroled deputies of ''Series/{{Reno 911}}!'' have to make ends meet in various capacities, including security guard, realtor, carnie, bed & breakfast owner (in a bus), groupie and ''Series/AmericanIdol'' hopeful.
* ''Series/VeronicaMars'': After Veronica' mom walks off with her $50,000 bounty, Veronica makes some spending money as a barista.
* In ''Series/{{Rome}}'', professional soldiers Vorenus and Pullo become thug enforcers after they are demobilized and without income. Eventually they are required to actually [[ProfessionalKiller kill people]]. Vorenus however [[HitmanWithAHeart draws the line at murder and quits]].
* Caroline becoming a waitress ''Series/TwoBrokeGirls''. Played with in that the series begins with her taking that job after her father's arrest cost her her access to the family fortune.
* The premise of ''Series/{{Hung}}''. The recession has hit Ray hard and he is unable to make ends meet with his job as a substitute teacher. Prostitution ensues.
* In season 2 of ''Series/MyNameIsEarl'', Earl had worked hard enough to have a decent job as an appliance salesman, an apartment, and a girlfriend. [[spoiler: Then he took the rap for a crime his ex-wife committed, out of pity for her new husband and her two children.]] So he spent most of season 3 in {{Prison}}. When he finally gets out, no one will hire him since he now has a criminal record, and he has since lost the cushy job, the apartment, and the girlfriend. So he takes on a job as a take-out deliveryman for a Chinese/Mexican restaurant, and loses his faith in Karma.
* This is part of the main premise of ''Series/TheSteveHarveyShow''. Steve Hightower is a former disco singer who is now a high school music teacher.
* In ''Series/GilmoreGirls'', Emily Gilmore sees Lorelai running away from her privileged life as a teenager and working as a maid as this.
* Cady, midway through Season 2 of ''Series/{{Longmire}}'', loses her job at the law firm, and ends up working at Henry's bar (much to Walt's disapproval).
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' story "The Brain of Morbius," Sarah Jane contemplates such a fate after being [[spoiler: temporarily]] blinded. She hits upon selling flowers on the streets of London, briefly affecting a [[TastesLikeDiabetes sickeningly-sweet Cockney accent]]: "Luv'ly violets, guv'nor!"
* In the ''Series/{{StargateSG1}}'' episode "Mobius", a trip to the past by the main cast creates a timeline where the Stargate was never discovered. Alt!Daniel is reduced to teaching English as a Second Language courses while Alt!Carter is working in a civilian research company as a glorified proof reader for other people's work while having her own research plagiarized by her boss.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* "King of Spain" by Moxy Früvous. The titular king actually seems to have three such jobs: he works at Pizza Pizza, vacuums astroturf, and drives a zamboni.
* "Skipper Dan" by Music/WeirdAlYankovic features an aspiring actor who languishes in his hard-times job at Disneyland, remembering his student dreams of stardom but feeling too worn down to shoot for them now.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* After losing his job when the WCW/ECW Alliance lost against the WWF at Survivor Series 2001, Wrestling/LanceStorm was shown working as a busboy in the WWF New York restaurant.
* In the mid-1990's, WWF did a storyline where Wrestling/NikolaiVolkoff fell on hard times and became an underling for [[Wrestling/TedDiBiase "The Million Dollar Man" Ted [=DiBiase=]]]. Nikolai wore trunks with cent signs on the sides (a play on the $ signs [=DiBiase=] had on his) and "Property Of The Million Dollar Man" on the back.
* A similar angle was worked years later, when Wrestling/ShawnMichaels fell on hard times and wound up working for [[Wrestling/JohnBradshawLayfield JBL]].
* During the last year of WCW in 2000, Wrestling/NormanSmiley lost a match that cost him and Ralphus their jobs in WCW. In one segment, they were shown working as popcorn vendors at the arena.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'': Canderous Ordo was once a respected commander among the Mandalorian Neo-Crusaders. After his people lost the war, and Revan's forces strip the Mandos of all their armor and weaponry, he ends up cracking heads for the crime lord Davik on the backwater world of Taris. In the second game, he discusses this by pointing out to Kreia that he and his followers are clawing their way out of menial work and rebuilding the Mandalorian people. Kreia dismisses it, but the ExpandedUniverse shows Canderous as having the last laugh.
* In ''VideoGame/ManaKhemiaAlchemistsOfAlRevis'', Roxis Rosencrantz, descendant of a long line of famous alchemists, mentions in one scene that his father earned the money they lived on by playing cards, as despite their fame and history, his family hasn't produced a decent alchemist in more than a century.
[[/folder]]


[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''{{Erstwhile}}'', Maid Maleen, All-Furs, and [[http://www.erstwhiletales.com/ironhans-11/ the prince in "Iron Hans"]].
* ''Webcomic/MenageA3'' pulls a nice comedy variant with Zii, the determinedly cool "punk rock chick" who, lacking a band or any other source of income, takes a job as "counter candy" in a comics shop, being "ogled by geeks" as she herself later puts it. This even comes with its own version of the traditional humiliating uniform, [[http://www.ma3comic.com/strips-ma3/show-accuracy as seen here.]]

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/FantasticFourWorldsGreatestHeroes'', "Recap/{{Strings}}" a major PR problem forces the Four to get actual jobs. Technically, only Susan's (childrens' entertainer) and Ben's (garbage man) might count. Two women cattily {{lampshade}} this, commenting on "how far she's fallen."
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': When Mr. Burns [[RichesToRags lost his fortune]] in an AbsurdlyHighStakesGame to Rich Texan, he decided to start from zero. However, he felt he needed to work at Moe's in order to get ''up'' to zero.
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'' episode "King's Ransom" has both Melanie and the Royal Flush Gang she left working this way. Melanie has a traditional hard times job working food prep in a restaurant, while her family laments that they have to steal for hire instead of for themselves.
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'': When Batman tracks down the members of the Doom Patrol in "The Last Patrol!", he finds Negative Man working as a sideshow freak in a seedy carnival.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Miscellaneous, Real Life]]
* In Japanese media, paper-flower vendors are stereotypical emblems of hard times, indicating that someone is one step away from beggary.
* In 19th- and early 20th-century Europe, the match seller was a stock "hard up" character. It was an especially popular depiction of impoverished WWI veterans, especially the wounded and disabled. Famous examples are ''Literature/TheLittleMatchGirl'' and Otto Dix's painting ''The Match Seller''.
* During the American Great Depression, hawking pencils or apples was an equally common stock job in media.
* Nowadays the TravelingSalesman job is seen as this, GeorgeOrwell wrote descriptions of such people in his essays of the 1930s and SpikeMilligan portrays an encyclopaedia salesman in ''Puckoon''
* Slowly becoming this in the United States, thanks to the Great Recession, is people being snatched off the street and paid to wave customers into businesses that can't afford other forms of advertisement. "WE BUY GOLD" places do this all the time, and the poor guy or girl usually has to wear a GoofySuit
* Prostitution
* Porn
* Drug dealing
* Up to WWI female teacher or [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady%27s_companion lady's companion]] were synonyms of improvised woman of good social standing.
* Actress NikkiBlonsky started working at a salon after movie roles dried up.
* One specific to recent college grads who can't find work in their degree field is working in coffeeshops. At least, it's seen as this by more "marketable" graduates and by some of the coffeeshop workers themselves, at least. Ironically, despite the stereotype that "what the English major says to the business major is 'do you want fries with that'", coffeeshops are somewhat more likely to hire graduates than fast-food chains, who consider them overqualified.
* Colonel [[LawrenceOfArabia Thomas E. Lawrence]] resigned the British Army after WWI, but later found civilian life uninspiring. So he joined the RoyalAirForce as an ordinary Airman under a pseudonym to get back to military, even if as an ordinary rating.
* Jon Gosselin (''Jon & Kate Plus Eight'') now works as a waiter in Pennsylvania.
[[/folder]]

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