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Pursue the Dream Job
"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. The character can even be extremely successful and keen on their job, to the point of workaholism. 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.

Usually the character needs an impulse to push them towards the path of chasing their dreams. It could be an epiphany after a change in life, e.g. divorce, accident, unemployment. Or an authority figure of sorts - sage, old (maybe dying) relative or a generally unsociable expert in the character's chosen field - needs to impart words of wisdom. Pursuing the dream job is a typical sub-plot in a romance/comedy/romantic comedy, in which case it is usually the new lover who inspires, nudges or shoves our protagonist into discarding their ordinary or sell-out job and moving onto realising their full potential.

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.

Comic Books
  • The Killing Joke presents a possible origin story for The Joker, in which he starts out as a decently-paid lab assistant who quits in order to become a stand-up comic. However, he fails miserably at this, due to lack of confidence. With a wife and unborn child to support, he turns in desperation to crime, setting in motion a chain of events leading to his disfigurement and Sanity Slippage.

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 thing is, he hasn't done it in quite some time and is a little rusty. He eventually gets back into the groove.
  • 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.
  • In The Kid 2000, the main character Russ had a dream to become a pilot when he was a kid. After being reunited with his past self they both meet his future self who is the pilot of the red biplane they've been seeing, prompting both to exclaim, "We grow up to be pilots!"

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.
  • Two minor characters in Changes were saving up to get married and open a tavern. And then the male character gets on the wrong side of an assassin team. The female character is smuggled out of Haven to safety, but we never learn if she got to open the tavern.

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.
    • Lily's dream career is Played With. She's a kindergarten teacher and fairly satisfied with her job. However, she would love to become a professional artist. Her work is quite nice, but only on amateur level. She goes to have professional classes in a selective art programme and later tries selling some paintings, with mixed success. One episode was based on her trying to figure out what she would love to do with her career, and finally, she says she did figure it out: she starts her old-new job as a kindergarten teacher.
    • 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.
  • In Red Dwarf, Dave Lister's dream is to one day move to Fiji, buy a farm 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 Corporation. He tries to save the money to carry out his big plan.
  • 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.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Penny aspires to become an actress, a TV or film star if possible. She works as a waitress and goes to auditions. She had a role in a commercial once, but other than that — no big luck so far.
  • Girls:
    • Hannah is an aspiring writer from Michigan who has moved to New York to pursue her dreams. At the beginning of the show she's still receiving financial support from her parents, but they cut her off in the pilot. She has a string of various jobs and later gets an e-book deal.
    • Marnie has worked in a gallery and gets fired in season 2. At one point she says she wants to be a singer and tries pursuing it as a career.

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.

Pooled FundsHappiness TropesRays from Heaven
Plumber's CrackOccupation TropesSent Off To Work For Relatives
The Promised LandGoals and Objectives IndexQuest for Identity
The Power of LoveMotivation IndexRage Against the Heavens

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