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Anime and Manga
- Kimi Wa Petto is a major deconstruction of this trope, with the main character eventually ending up with someone who tells her it's her decision whether she wants to keep her career or not (and means it!). She eventually ends up becoming a respected freelance journalist who travels around with her husband the internationally acclaimed dancer.
- Inverted, or something like that, in a two-episode arc in the second Sakura Wars OAV. The first episode centers around the other girls believing that Sakura is going to get married, which of course unquestionably means that she will quit her job. The second episode is Sakura, who is actually just attending a relative's wedding, moping over how she can never get married and have a family herself because she doesn't want to quit her job. The girls remark a few times on how glad they are that this is a "new era for women" where they can choose to have a career or a family (but not both). Well, it is the 1920s...
- In HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, Tsubomi's parents were both highly respected botanists who were majors in their field. However, it wasn't until Tsubomi had a major emotional breakdown that they realized by choosing their careers, they were hurting their family. So, they quit their jobs, moved to Kibogahana and opened up a flower shop. They're still both working, just that now they got more time with Tsubomi.
- This is a major theme in the Lyrical Nanoha series post-StrikerS, as the lead ladies grow out of their Magical Girl status and become Magical Women, although for the most part this trope is defied, as Nanoha herself and most of her friends manage to combine family life with successful careers. One major example, however, comes up right in the first season and forms a huge part of Fate Testarossa's backstory: her single mother Precia focused so much on her career that she wasn't there to save her first daughter Alicia when she died, driving Precia borderline insane with grief and eventually leading to her excessively cruel treatment of Fate, Precia's cloned Replacement Goldfish of Alicia.
- In issue 30 of the Silver Age Green Lantern comic, Katma Tui decides to resign from the Green Lantern Corps to be with fellow Korugarian Imi Kann. Hal Jordan stages a fake monster attack on Korugar to test her loyalty as a Green Lantern. Katma ends up attempting to save Hal instead of her fiance, proving that her career was more important than family.
- Reed Richards runs into this now and then. While there is no question that he loves his family, he sometimes has a hard time showing it and tends to get so caught up solving scientific problems that he unintentionally ignores them. The Council of Reeds consists of alternate universe versions of Reed Richards who as a rule have raised themselves to Physical God levels through various means, and take on cosmic-level problems even more routinely than the Fantasic Four. They told the main universe Reed Richards the main difference between them is that adherence to human morality and social connections are holding him back from reaching his full potential. After a brief hesitation Reed decided to turn away from the Council and return to his family.
- Bad Moms: Averted. In the beginning Amy Mitchel struggles to balance her family life with that of her career. Instead of choosing one or the other, Amy creates a balance between her two lives in addition to a third life - her personal life which had been nonexistent since she had kids - and ultimately becomes a much more happier, well adjusted person. Of course part of the problem was that her bosses were making her work more than what was outlined in her contract.
- Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks' intention in this theatrical series finale is to leave her job as an English teacher once she achieves her Series Goal of marriage to Mr. Boynton. Family first for Miss Brooks, as her dream is to be wife and mother. She marries Mr. Boynton at the end of the film.
- In Airplane II: The Sequel, an early indication that we're not supposed to like Elaine's current man (aside from him not being Ted Stryker, of course) is that he very seriously expects her to quit her rewarding job as a computer officer on board the first passenger space shuttle and start making babies.
- Click: Michael wants a better life for his family and tries hard to get a promotion. But due to abusing the power of the magic remote, he set himself on "auto-pilot" which seemingly made him obsessed with career, estranging him from his family.
- X-Men: Apocalypse: Agent Moira MacTaggert was married and has a son, but she got divorced because her priority is on her career at the CIA.
Moira: I had a husband, but it's hard to do this job and make it home in time for dinner.
- In The Smurfs, Patrick, enraged at the Smurfs' responsibility for ruining his business pitch, runs off to save his job and abandons his wife Grace when she defends them. He later has second thoughts when Grace texts him a sonogram picture of their upcoming baby.
- The Devil Wears Prada shows Miranda going through another divorce, because her husband can't handle the amount of time she devotes to her job. Her two daughters are shown spending most of their time with a nanny.
- Deconstructed in The Intern. Jules is the head of a successful company and is considering hiring a CEO so she can have more time at home with her family. But it's then pointed out that hiring a CEO won't automatically fix any problems she has at home, and Jules herself is vital to the running of her company. Her husband, who had been having an affair, calls it off and agrees to work harder to fix their situation.
- In Dragon Queen, Trava is conflicted between taking care of her tavern and going after her mother.
- Joanne Bertin's The Last Dragonlord has Maurynna, recently made a ship's captain and loving the work, find out that she is actually a weredragon, meaning she has to leave that work and go to the place where weredragons live with her One True Love. In ''Dragon and Phoenix" she's not happy about giving up her ship and makes this clear repeatedly, getting angry with her true love when she finds out that even if she hadn't been required to give up her ship, he would have tried to convince her. For her the issue is of freedom versus love, and as much as she appreciates the love she misses the freedom. In the end she doesn't get her ship back, but she does get the ability to take her dragon form at will and fly, which helps.
- In The Girls Series by Jacqueline Wilson, there's a subplot where Ellie's father and stepmother Anna argue because Anna has launched her own business and doesn't have so much time to be at home. Ellie also accuses her father of forcing her mother to give up her career, even though he says that Ellie's mother wanted to stay at home.
- In Vampire Academy, this is mentioned to be the reason so few dhampir women choose to train for a career as guardians. They opt instead to have children.
- Bluestar in Warrior Cats. After she gets pregnant she realizes that having to raise the children will make her look like a less fitting candidate to be the Clan deputy than her rival, Thistleclaw. A bit unusual in that she decides to go for the career path instead of family, by giving away her children and making it look like they died in an accident.
Live Action Television
- Our Miss Brooks: Several episodes (i.e. "The Wrong Mrs. Boynton") suggest that Miss Brooks' intention upon marrying Mr. Boynton is to quit her job and become a fulltime wife and mother. Miss Brooks finally marries Mr. Boynton at the end of The Movie Grand Finale.
- The entire third season of Ugly Betty has been about this message. This is especially ironic since (a) Betty doesn't even have children or a husband, and (b) the family member screaming for the attention is her sister, who already is home with their ill father on a daily basis anyway.
- Sarah in Brothers and Sisters constantly struggles with this. Originally she was a working mom with her husband staying at home to take care of the kids. After her divorce, she lost the job with the family business, her ex tried to take custody away from her because of how long she works, and she increased the hours she puts in because she started working for an internet start-up.
- Cuddy on House seems to be falling victim to this trope via her adopted baby. In this case Cuddy is a single mom, and doesn't really have a husband to help her take care of the baby, so it's a little more justified.
- Aaron Hotchner of Criminal Minds might be a rare male example. His wife all but demanded he give up his position at the BAU so he could be home more with her and their young son, Jack. He didn't, and they got divorced over this.
- And JJ is an aversion; as of season four, she has a baby and a boyfriend (later husband) who gave up his job (as a detective) to stay at home with their son.
- Unlike most crime shows, the characters of this series are constantly travelling to different states, which makes the situation even more difficult.
- This was the central theme of an episode of Twice In A Lifetime. A man convinces his wife to give up her career to stay home and take care of their daughter while he climbs the corporate ladder. The result is that the marriage falls apart, the daughter grows up to be a delinquent and his career goes nowhere. When the guy is given the chance to go back in time and fix things, he realizes that his wife was great at her job and on the fast track for a major promotion. He convinces his past self that the right choice is for him to stay home and support her. In the new timeline their marriage is saved, the wife is a successful corporate executive, the daughter had a happy childhood and is now going to college and he found his own happiness as a stay-at-home dad.
- Stargate Atlantis:
- Played straight in season three, where we meet Jeannie Miller, Rodney McKay's sister. She had left a promising career in theoretical physics to raise her daughter, much to her brother's consternation. Jeannie makes it clear that she chose to be a wife and mother and is happy with her decision. But despite being a Housewife, she's still a Hot Scientist (and even occasional Action Girl) who solved a problem that had baffled McKay for years "in [her] free time, with fingerpaints."
- Subverted in season five when Teyla struggles to decide if she should rejoin Shepherd's team after her pregnancy and risk leaving her son without a mother, or if she should give up fighting for the freedom of the galaxy which is also very important to her. In true Action Girl fashion, she does both (it certainly helps to have a House Husband in these sorts of situations.)
- This happens a lot in shows Police Procedural shows, such as Cold Case and Criminal Minds as mentioned above, with. As the cops are usually Married to the Job, it puts a strain on their relationship with their families, especially their spouses. Sometimes the older characters are mentioned to have gotten married/divorced more than once because of this.
- Grey's Anatomy:
- Bailey's husband (a House Husband) got upset at her for not having enough time for their son. When she has to choose between general surgery and a pediatrics fellowship (she originally wanted to go for general, but realized she had an interest in peds, which would have her working more hours), her husband outright tells her that if she takes the pediatrics fellowship, he'll divorce her. She refuses to even make the choice, deciding to divorce her husband for treating her that way, but has to choose general surgery since she would then become a single mother.
- Chief Webber's wife keeps telling him that if he doesn't retire then she will leave him, since he kept promising to do it and kept putting it off. (Hilarious in Hindsight, in that she did leave him—first by getting Alzheimer's, and then by, y'know, dying.)
- Cristina and Meredith's desire to not have children is implied to be partially due to not wanting this situation to happen, especially Meredith who doesn't want to end up being a bad parent like her mother was. Meredith eventually gets over this and has a child with Derek (with another on the way), and there isn't any conflict. Most of the couples on the show are made up of people who work together, so the trope is usually averted. The hospital also has it's own day care center, which makes things easier.
- Invoked, however, by Cristina when she and Meredith have a big fight in Season 10. She claims that, because Meredith by now has two kids (the son is named Bailey), she has naturally had to cut back on her surgery hours and is probably not at the top of her game. Because the two are carrying the Conflict Ball during this season, Meredith is obliged to take offense at this.
- Rare Male Example in the tenth season, once again involving Bailey. Her Second Love Ben Warren had a surgery residency in Los Angeles, but quit because the show takes place in Seattle and he wasn't getting any screen time—err, was far away from his family. Bailey (understandably) worries that her new marriage is going to end the same way the old one did. Ultimately, the situation is resolved by Ben enrolling in the residency program at Seattle Grace Grey Sloan Mercy Death.
- Scrubs: Carla thinks about staying home with the baby for a while. After taking a six week break after the birth of her child, Carla realizes she can't stay away from her job for a whole year because she loves working there. Turk isn't too happy about the decision, but quickly gets over it. By the end of the episode, Carla starts working again, but feels sad about having to leave Izzy with a nanny.
- In season 8, JD takes a job at another hospital to be able to spend more time with Sam, though with him it's more about being not being able to see his friends from his old job.
- When Dr. Cox becomes Chief of Medicine, he struggles with juggling his new responsibilities on top of taking care of patients (something he really doesn't have to do, but wants to) and picking up his son Jack from school. Jordan tells him she understands that he'll need time to figure out how to balance things out, since he refuses to give up on anything, and she doesn't care if he has time to pick Jack up from school, just as long as he's there to read him a bedtime story and tuck him in at night.
- In Malcolm in the Middle, Lois and Hal married young and kept on having kids. Lois had ambitions of being a concert pianist, but had to abandon them to take care of the children and work two hours a week short of full-time at a supermarket to help pay the bills. She is actually bitter about this, which manifests as meticulously controlling every single aspect of Malcolm's life to live vicariously through him, and possibly unconsciously sabotaging Dewey's piano contest to prevent him from surpassing her.
- Mad Men:
- It's implied that Betty's less-sympathetic traits stem from high intelligence - she has an anthropology degree from Bryn Mawr - socially constrained from having a career outside the home.
- Joan is expected to leave her office manager job and start pumping out babies when Greg makes chief resident. She actually does resign even when he's passed over. Since Greg is an awful husband even by the standards of this show, the arrangement doesn't last.
- A fairly common conflict in Jane the Virgin.
- Rafael struggles to balance his commitment to Jane and their child and his commitments to the hotel, which he considers his father's legacy.
- In season 3, we learn that he is not biologically a Solano.
- When he and Jane get together, Michael is pressured by Rafael between his dangerous career as a cop, and Mateo's safety. He is willing to chooses Jane and Mateo, but Jane stops him from quitting his job and lets Rafael know that.
- Season 2 focuses on Jane struggling to balance her new baby, her tangle of personal relationships, and going to grad school.
- Rafael struggles to balance his commitment to Jane and their child and his commitments to the hotel, which he considers his father's legacy.
- Parks and Recreation
- This shows up in the seventh season episode "Pie Mary", when Leslie is criticized by some members of the public for being a working mother and not quite fitting the conventions of a candidate's wife, with one competing candidate's wife even scoffing that she's "trying to have it all". At the end of the episode, she and Ben angrily but calmly call out their critics, with Ben in particular pointing out that no one ever asks him if he misses the kids when he's away working or who's looking after them when he's not home. They get a crowd that half cheers and half boos them.
- This is Defied for their campaign manager Jennifer Barkley, who makes it very clear she's not one for motherhood and likes it that way.
- The atrocious 1982 song "I've Never Been to Me" is sung by a jet-setting woman with a pretty interesting life (traveling all over the world, meeting and romancing heads of state) telling a Housewife how she covets the dull domestic life. "Paradise is the baby in your arms and the man you argued with this morning."
- One of the (many) reasons fans hated the ending of For Better or for Worse was because Elizabeth gave up an exciting and meaningful job (namely, teaching) to go running back into the arms of her high school boyfriend Anthony to marry and have a baby.
- The fanfic The New Retcons explored this trope further, with Elizabeth wanting to be defined as more than 'Anthony's wife, Francoise and James's mother', but thinking that she has to enforce this trope, and is surprised when Anthony suggests getting a job if she doesn't want to be just that. (It's only worse in that she's following in her mother's footsteps. Elly had the same feelings about this trope: hating it yet thinking it's ironclad. It was a contributing factor in her losing her mind.)
- The page image comes from Baby Blues, in which career woman Rhonda feels shafted by her mother because she has yet to settle down and have a family, compared to her sister Wanda, who as of this time has three children.
- Subverted in New Dynamic English, where Max decides to change his job from a travelling businessman to a radio worker because he missed his family. This was already foreshadowed in the software version where it's stated that he'd always miss his family even though he had been travelling.
- In Mortal Kombat X Sonya Blade chose her career over her husband and daughter and it lead to a very strained relationship.
- In Supermom, Liza struggles with her desire to get back into superheroing. Eventually, she reaches a compromise with her family where she'll hero part time.
- Helen of Daria deals with this too. She wants to be the perfect lawyer, mother, and wife, but tends to ignore the latter two in favour of work and her daughters' needs are often brushed off. To the show's credit, the general aesop seems to be that Helen is over working herself by choice as a means of generating self satisfaction due to the emotional neglect she received from her own mother and this behaviour is what is negative, not the fact that she's a working mom.
- Mocked in an episode of Family Guy, in which there is a spoof of the "busy businesswoman who's busy but who doesn't notice her life is missing a little special something because she's so busy with business!"
Handsome Male-Lead: "Shh shh shh... Over the next 90 minutes, I'd like to show you that all your problems can be solved by my penis." (romantic music plays)
- This was addressed in an early episode of King of the Hill. When Bobby is diagnosed with ADD (when really, he had consumed far too much sugar) old-fashioned Hank suggests that Peggy quit her job as a substitute teacher and become a stay-at-home mom to give Bobby more attention. Peggy reluctantly agrees and stays home, but quickly grows bored. By the end of the episode, Hank realizes that Peggy isn't happy when she has so little to do and supports her decision to return to teaching.
- Sadly averted in Archer. Malory prioritizes her career over her son, leaving Woodhouse to raise young Sterling. On the rare occasions when she did spend time with him, she usually tormented him in order to teach him a lesson.
- An episode of American Dad! tackles this. When Stan befriends a senator, he leaves Roger to take care of Steve to focus on climbing the political ladder. However, when Roger's antics cause the senator's daughter to be taken by drug lords and doped up, the senator reveals he doesn't give a crap about her and only cares about his job, making Stan realize that his family comes first.
- A variation occurs in Jem. At the start of season 2 Pizzazz and Roxy threaten to kick Stormer out of the band if she doesn't get her brother Craig to find out Jem's secret identity. She gives in but Craig doesn't take it lightly when they find out what her friends said to Stormer.
- In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, VP candidate Sarah Palin was often accused of neglecting her family, even though Barack Obama has two young daughters himself.
- This typically happens with most female politicians who have young kids; people usually use "concern for their children" as an excuse to dismiss a female candidate. Because, you know, fathers don't need to play any role in parenthood other than being the breadwinner.
- Taken a step further in the early speculation for the 2016 Presidential Election, with critics wondering whether Hillary Clinton will run for president and if she can handle running a country and being a grandmother. No such concern was expressed about Donald Trump, who is a grandfather himself and still has children that are underage.
- The United States during World War II. Just because you're working 12 hour shifts in a factory "to free a man to fight" doesn't mean you don't owe it to your family to provide a nutritious home-cooked breakfast and supper, plus pack a balanced lunch, plus keep the house spotless, plus take care of the Victory Garden...
- On the Truth in Television side, there may be more to that sarcastic remark about husbands helping around the house than you might think-studies show that women who choose their career and leave the husband at home to do the jobs traditionally assigned to housewives tend to lose respect for said husbands and divorce them. Double Standard indeed.
- This could be related to a Real Women Don't Wear Dresses way of thinking-there are certainly many women out there who want to pursue careers out of personal fulfillment/enjoyment, but some choose to have a career solely because they believe that 'housewife' is an inferior role (rather than getting the true point of feminism-being able to choose your path rather than being automatically expected to be a housewife). If you avoid taking the housewife role because you think it's demeaning and don't respect it, why would you think differently about others who take that role?
- Jan Kuehnemund, the founding member and lead guitarist for the all-female glam metal band Vixen, speaking from bitter experience said this trope (along with Career Versus Man) is the reason why she was reluctant to join a all female band. Because eventually those tropes would often come into play causing the break up of the band.