Sleeping with the Boss
A sub-trope of Unequal Pairing and Office Romance, this is when a person in authority specifically gets "busy" with an employee or a member of his/her staff. A favorite plot device in many a film, this usually takes on one of any given number of scenarios: the master of the house banging the maid, or the mistress of the house getting naughty with the pool-boy or gardener, or the office manager having "business meetings" with his secretary while his wife remains unaware. Either party in the affair may be the instigator, though usually that role goes to the one who holds the greater power and authority. Usually, too, the boss or supervisor is older and more "experienced" than the employee. If either party is married or in a relationship (which is usually, but not always, the case in this kind of situation), this kind of affair comes of an unfaithful heart; unsurprisingly, in such a case, this usually results in a Love Triangle and all the problems that come with it. If the employee is female and the boss is male and married, the employee may take the role of The Mistress. Or, in some cases the wife/husband of either participant may know of the affair, but won't say or do anything about it because they want to keep up public appearances. Whether the participants are single or are married to other people, this kind of scenario opens itself to some discrimination depending on the gender of the employee in the equation. If the employee is female and the boss is male, the woman may be seen as loose and only advancing her career by sleeping her way to the top, and she'll be branded by those who are aware of the relationship. If, however, the boss is female and the employee is male, then the man will be seen as extremely lucky, or, at worst, the situation may be given an indifferent shrug. Since Power Is Sexy, the employee is often perfectly happy with such an arrangement. However, this kind of situation also holds the risk of the employee eventually asking "Am I Just a Toy to You??", if the boss is flaunting his/her power over the employee just to satisfy a perpetually high libido. Or it may be a form of Sexual Extortion, if the employee engages in sex with the boss under duress or blackmail (though the reverse can also be true, in that it's the employee who blackmails the boss). Compare Pizza Boy Special Delivery, where the persons in question aren't in a permanent boss/employee relationship but still have sex in the midst of conducting an otherwise ordinary business transaction; and Teacher/Student Romance, where the relationship in question takes place between a teacher and a student (though sex may or may not be involved in this case). Also compare Mentor Ship, where The Hero is in a relationship with his/her mentor; Bodyguard Crush, where a person's appointed security guard harbors feelings for his/her client that may or may not be reciprocated; Subordinate Excuse, where the employee uses his/her being employed by the boss as an excuse to exercise affections for said boss (though that situation may NOT necessarily automatically result in the two parties having sex); and Casting Couch, where an aspiring actor or actress sleeps with the producer or director to land a starring role. Note that this trope is not the same situation as the Sex Slave, where the person with the lesser authority is in captivity and is forced to engage in sex under orders from his/her captors. Also note that the Office Romance speaks more generally about inter-office relationships and can be (and usually is) applied to co-workers who are on equal standing; this trope is specifically about a sexual relationship between a boss and his/her employee. It should also be noted that, although use or abuse of power on the boss's part does sometimes play a role in this trope, it does not happen in all cases, as some instances of this are mutually consensual. Be careful when adding real-life examples. No, this isn't about video game Boss Battles.
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Anime & Manga
- Phantom Quest Corp.: In Incident File 03, Mr. Nagasuki gets caught in the act of having sex with his secretary, when Detective Karino drops by his office to question him. Nagasuki and his secretary are later shown in bed together, at his condo.
- Happened many times in Sakura Gari, before the series starts. Souma is the handsome leader of the rich Saiki family, and he often takes loves among the younger maids and boarding students/butlers note ; all of them meet rather screwed up ends after being harrassed, tortured and, in one case at least, murdered by Souma's sibling Sakurako. This also makes the plot of the series itself, as the protagonist of the series is a boy named Masataka who is employed at the Saiki house, and later Souma starts to make passes at him...
- Talia did this with Old Flame Chairman Durandal, under whose authority she helms the flagship in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. She does end up trying to assassinate him at the end, but that's more for his general Jerkass and Dark Messiah qualities — aside from WMD'ing their own troops — than anything about their relationship, which isn't well-developed outside of one depicted instance of this, a Flashback breakup scene years prior to their current positions, and a lot of him pissing her off.
- Princess Lover!: In the 2-part H-OVA, Teppei only fantasizes about his maid, Yuu Fujikura, giving him fellatio. But, in the VN's themselves, Teppei actually sleeps with her midway through her character route, which ends with her being pregnant with his child.
- Variable Geo: It's heavily implied that Reimi Jahana sleeps with her personal aide, Washio. When Chiho stumbles across her private rose garden, she interrupts them in the middle of a rooftop tryst, with Reimi straddling him while they were making out.
Films — Live Action
- This is a significant driver for the plot of Bridget Jones' Diary (that and the Belligerent Sexual Tension with the other love interest).
- By seducing the chairman of Omni Consumer Products in RoboCop 2, OCP psychologist Juliette Faxx is able to railroad her project through development.
- This is the status of Tony and Pepper Potts' relationship from the finale of Iron Man 2, throughout the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- This is the standard way to land a husband in the world of Thoroughly Modern Millie (give or take actual sex): you meet a successful man by becoming his secretary, then he falls in love with you and you get married.
- This forms the plot of Secretary, where Lee and her boss Edward engage in a sadomasochistic relationship.
- Played for laughs in Spies Like Us, when Fitzhume tells his coworker that he's arranged an intimate lunch with the boss. Cut to Fitzhume and his attractive boss in bed. And apparently, he just arranged the "intimate lunch" to try to talk his boss into finding a way for him to not take the Foreign Service Board test.
- This turns out to be a major plot point in Lakeview Terrace. Turner's wife was having an affair with her white boss, and they died in a car accident together. The affair resulted in Turner hating interracial couples, and it's the reason he harasses the lead couple.
- The Wesley Snipes film Jungle Fever has this as the trigger for its main plot, in which Snipes' character sleeps with his secretary despite him being a married man and her already being in a relationship. It's more remembered and criticized in-universe for the fact that he's black and she's white.
- The movie Disclosure plays the "female boss, male employee" version of this for all the drama it can. Meredith Johnson, the ex and new boss of Tom Sanders, tries to restart their relationship, but Tom doesn't want to go through with it due to him being married now. Meredith then out-and-out tries to rape him, forcing him to fight her off. The plot gets kicked off when she files charges of sexual harassment against him.
- In the Michael J. Fox film The Secret Of My Success, Howard Prescott, CEO of the Pemrose Corporation and the main character's uncle, has an ongoing affair with Christy, one of his employees and the main character's Love Interest.
- In City Slickers, a checkout girl from Phil's store breaks into a party he's attending to tell him she's pregnant, so this trope has been in play. Played both for drama, and laughs:
Ed: ...that's pretty smug advice, coming from a man who mounted an eighteen year old checkout girl on the day-old bread rack.Phil: She's twenty - and shut up.Ed: Let me get you hot, Phil: "I need a price. Register Nine, I need a price..."Phil: Cut it out!Mitch: (warningly) Guys...Ed: What did you use for protection, paper or plastic?
- Grand Canyon: Secretary Dee had a one-night stand with her boss, attorney Mack. The aftermath of this encounter drives Dee's character arc in the film.
- Liar Liar: Jim Carrey's character is sleeping with his boss — until the wish comes into effect and he makes a truthful (and uncomplimentary) comment about the sex they just had.
- In 9 to 5, Doralee is accused of doing this, and Judy makes it look like that's what she's doing (with the added bonus of BDSM) in order to get rid of her ex-husband Dick.
- Showgirls: Nomi eventually sleeps with her new stage boss to get ahead (she had already given him a lapdance when she was still a stripper and not employed by him). The other girls call her out on this, because they have an unwritten rule against it.
- In Dragon Bones, the noble Garranon sleeps with the king. In the sequel, Dragon Blood, the king becomes interested in his court mage. It is revealed that Garranon sleeps with the king only to keep his family safe, and that it has been going on since he was fifteen, making this overlap with Sex Slave.
- Anthony Winkler's works:
- In The Duppy, Baps recalls that he slept with five of his maids.
- Barrister Fitzpatrick in The Great Yacht Race sleeps with his secretary Lilly, and the hotelier O'Hara is carrying on a secret affair with his maid Iris. Father Huck later gets it on with his housekeeper, Missus Grandison.
- In his autobiographical Going Home to Teach, Winkler recalls how his maternal uncles, all shopkeepers, often slept with their female employees.
- In the Jamaican play Old Story Time, this is one of the major revelations made toward the end of the story, involving two major characters. George Murchison (the boss) coerced Lois (his secretary at the time) to engage in physical relations with him, in exchange for covering up her misuse of bank funds to finance her then-fiance Leonard's education.
- The Bible:
Joseph: How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
- Abram (shortly before his name was changed to Abraham) slept with his Egyptian maid Hagar in order to have a child, with encouragement from his wife Sarai (later renamed Sarah) since she couldn't have children of her own. Unfortunately, since God had specifically told Abram that he would have children with Sarai, this plan backfires horribly — Hagar starts forgetting her place with Sarai and is eventually thrown out with her son, Ishmael, though God helps them out later. (Ishmael is said to have become the ancestor of the Arabian people)
- There's also a subversion with Joseph, at the time a slave in Egypt under the employment of Potiphar. His master's wife wanted to screw him physically, but he rebuffed her advances on the grounds that she was already married and that giving in to her would be a sin against God. So she chose to screw him metaphorically.
- An expanded-universe Star Trek supplement, The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, lists Rule 113 as "Always sleep with the boss." Interesting when one recalls (and a later commentary book on the rules points out) that in traditional Ferengi culture (barring interspecies employment), all bosses and employees are male.
- Felicity and Ray in Arrow, technically. He is her boss, seeing as he's the CEO of Palmer Technologies and he hired her, but she's his vice president and they work together more as equals than as anything else.
- A significant arc in a later season of Friends saw Rachel sleeping with her male secretary, Tag.
- On Showtime's Shameless, Fiona gets a low-paying job at a supermarket, and soon learns that most of her co-workers have been pressured into having sexual relations with the boss, Bobby. When she gets them all together to talk about it, some of them even defend it.
- The Office (US) has Michael's rather rocky extended relationship with his boss Jan.
- Six Feet Under: This happens between Kroehner's Matthew Gilardi and his boss. It doesn't stop her from firing him for incompetence.
- CSI had Grissom and Sara, although much has changed since he left and she left, then returned.
- In an episode of Quantum Leap where for the first time Sam leaps into a woman, his task of the episode is to keep a fellow secretary from committing suicide. The other secretary thinks that her boss is going to leave his wife for her; the wife informs the secretary in no uncertain terms that she's OK with her husband fooling around but she will not under any circumstances allow a divorce. It's also implied that she is the boss's second wife, and he met her when she was his secretary. When the secretary learns this, she tries to jump off a building but Sam talks her down.
- Skyler from Breaking Bad does this with her boss. It's much less about any particular romance between them and much more about getting revenge on her husband, though, and the power equation changes when it becomes clear that her boss is something of an irresponsible twit.
- Shows up a few times on Midsomer Murders, whether as "sleeping up the ladder" or actual romance.
- After Lois and Clark got married, one episode saw Lois being promoted to the Daily Planet's editor. Clark jokingly says he's looking forward to sleeping with the boss.
- In Without a Trace, Samantha Spade had a brief sexual affair with her supervisor, Jack Malone. It resulted in his marriage dissolving.
- Jack McCoy of Law & Order is notorious for having had this kind of relationship with his assistants, all female. When he first came into the District Attorney's office in the original series, Claire Kincaid pointed out that he'd slept with all three of his previous assistants (and married one of them), to which Jack replied that all the relationships were mutually consensual. Then Claire declared that nothing of the sort would happen between herself and Jack, to which he agreed...only for them to get intimate later on down the line.
- Across the pond on Law & Order: UK, James Steel (who was given McCoy's habit of bedding his colleagues) and his subordinate Alesha Philips had considerable Unresolved Sexual Tension, to the point where their final scene made it obvious that he deeply regretted never trying to make a go of it.
- In the Season 5 finale of House, the titular doctor winds up having sex with Lisa Cuddy, the hospital administrator and his immediate supervisor, after she comes over to his house to help him kick his Vicodin addiction. Except their encounter that night never actually happened—it was all a Vicodin-induced hallucination on House's part.
- This is a frequent occurrence on Mad Men. Roger and Don have a habit of sleeping with their secretaries and both married one of them after divorcing their first wives. Peggy had a one night stand with Pete when she was still a secretary, and people falsely assume that she was promoted to copywriter because she slept with Don. Megan is propositioned by her female boss when she gets an acting job on a soap opera.
- In The Nanny, after four seasons' worth of Unresolved Sexual Tension between Fran and her boss Maxwell, they almost wind up sleeping together while in Paris, during the Season 4 finale...but Maxwell backs out of it at the last moment, offending Fran.
- On NewsRadio, news director Dave had an on-going relationship with reporter Lisa.
- Cheers: Sam hooks up with his waitress Diane at the end of season 1 (resolving the UST), and they almost get married at the end of season 5.
- This is a major plot point in seasons 3 and 4 of Parks and Recreation. Leslie and Ben, technically her superior, have UST from the beginning of season 3. However it is revealed in "Soulmates", that Chris, the city manager (who is everyone's boss), has a rule against employees dating their superiors. Thus Leslie is afraid to act on their sexual tension until 4 episodes later in "Road Trip". They manage to have a Secret Relationship, until the season 4 premiere where Leslie decides to run for city council, where they mutually decide to break up. Chris finds out about them and in "The Trial of Leslie Knope", Ben ends up quitting his job so that Leslie isn't fired.
- The Thin Blue Line has Police Inspector Fowler paired with live-in girlfriend Sergeant Dawkins. Although given Fowler's outlook on his duties however this is not a major issue. At one point he offers Dawkins some advice, half now (as her senior officer) and half when he is on break (as her boyfriend, as he is not being paid to advise people as their boyfriends and so cannot due so during work hours.)
- Shadowrun supplement Tir Na Nog. In the title country (the country formerly known as Ireland) Junior Minister Patrick Flanagan was videotaped having sex with his curvaceous redheaded secretary in his office.
- In many class storylines of Star Wars: The Old Republic, you can romance your companions and technically, most of available companions are subordinates of the Player Character. Elara Dorne, the Republic Trooper's companion, even lampshades this, observing that intimate relationships between a commanding officer and a subordinate are forbidden by military regulations, but reciprocates your advances, anyway.
- Nadia Zelenkov in Command & Conquer: Red Alert is one of Stalin's advisors, and also his lover. She's actually The Mole for Kane, and kills Stalin after a Soviet victory.
- Technically the case for any of the Love Interests in Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II, and Dragon Age: Inquisition, since the player characters of those games are the leaders of their respective Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, and the games require sex to take place before the romance is considered official.
- Also found in Dragon Age II if Hawke helps Aveline romance Guardsman Donnic, as she's the captain of Kirkwall's defenses and he's one of her soldiers. In this example, however, the sex is only implied because Aveline and Donnic get married.
- There's another in-universe example in the background of Inquisition, and a rare female/female example at that; the Empress of Orlais had a lengthy affair with her elven servant Briala. The tie-in novel The Masked Empire introduces the relationship, which can be factored into the outcome of the peace talks in the game.
- Invoked several times on Something*Positive: Kharisma makes no secret that she'll sleep with anyone for advancement (and is later fired without ceremony when the boss' fetish goes from redheads to blondes), while Monette is accused of this by an older, uglier coworker.
Co-worker: At least all that lying on your back must have done wonders for your posture.Monette: Well, seeing as your method gave you bad knees and rancid breath, I figured I'd do it differently.
- This is a fundamental part of Erfworld culture, since a commander can give his units any order, including "take off all your clothes", and they'll obey it. This really Squicks Parson out.
- The Monica Lewinsky scandal, during Bill Clinton's tenure as President of the United States. For those who aren't aware, Ms. Lewinsky was an intern at the White House during Clinton's time in office, and the scandal came from her performing oral sex on him, an allegation he denied for a long while.
- Lewinsky wasn't the first; the Jeniffer Flowers and Paula Jones scandals haunted him from his time as governor of Arkansas. There were implied to be others who did not step forward.