Often, especially in media with a large ensemble cast, there is one character whose function (in terms of his ''internal'' purpose within the cast) is a bit fuzzy. The details of this role are left purposefully ambiguous. Sometimes, the general nature of the character's role is quite evident; for example, the character might be big, intimidating, and good in a fight... but this naturally raises the question of just why the group needs someone who is big, intimidating, and good in a fight.

This is often [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] by someone unfamiliar with the group and their adventures pointedly asking "What exactly is ''his'' job, anyway?" When the question is PlayedForLaughs, the answer the newcomer gets is almost always something absurd. This can typically be paired with TheMainCharactersDoEverything since there are usually recurring characters whose purpose is ambiguous and the main characters can easily function without them. It's also common for an {{everyman}}, because the lack of specific role allows more of us to sympathize with the character.

Remember, this Trope is about a person's undefined or unsuitable role '''among [[TheTeam the main team]]'''; not about how a person earns his keep between episodes.

Compare the OmnidisciplinaryScientist, who has a [=PhD=] in Everythingology and ''awesomeology'', rather than merely having to be [[TheMainCharactersDoEverything everything]] and awesome, and TheChick, who is very skilled in caring and diplomacy [[TierInducedScrappy in a world where]] ViolenceIsTheOnlyOption.

[[IThoughtItMeant This is being confused for]] ''several'' other Tropes:
* If a character actually ''has'' a job, but it's never clarified, then it's ObliquelyObfuscatedOccupation.
** However, if the place where that person works '''is''' the main setting, then it counts as '''both''' this Trope '''and''' that one.
* If it looks like someone doesn't have a job ''at all'', they're likely a RichIdiotWithNoDayJob or a {{Socialite}}. %%There's probably more that we should YKTTW
* If a character has a job ''or'' a role, but they aren't doing it, they are among ThePiratesWhoDontDoAnything.

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!!Examples:

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[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Jersey Club from ''Anime/RinneNoLagrange'' does exactly this trope. Be it at being an extra participant in any activity or saving the Earth, Jersey Club does it.
* Saikawa from ''Manga/GakuenBabysitters''. Is he the secretary? Is he the butler? Is he the chef? Ryuuichi can't tell, and Saikawa remains ambiguous about it by allowing the others to refer to him as they wish.
* Misty ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' may be a gym leader, but her role on the show is split between that, the {{Tsundere}} psuedo-love interest and trying to keep the impulsive Ash out of trouble.
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[[folder:Comic Books]]
* A running gag in the comic book ''GrooTheWanderer'' is what, exactly does Mark Evanier do (besides answer the letters page). Even his job description on the masthead changed every month to something silly or bizarre (in reality, he is essentially co-plotter and dialogue writer/editor).
* ComicBook/{{Asterix}}: Obelix is a sculptor of menhirs, but we never see him actually delivering these stones to anyone. Though at least he HAS somewhat of a well defined job. Asterix, for instance, is always seen around the village, but we never find out what he does for a living, let alone his village community. Presumably he might be one of the town's hunters.
** The whole village is shown having a poor grasp of monetary economy and paid work, especially in Asterix and the Cauldron. Those who have a trade, like Unhygienix the fish seller, are incompetent at it. It is safe to assume that Asterix hunts what he needs to eat and gets the other things from the villagers as rewards for constantly saving the village itself.
* ''ComicBook/PietPienterEnBertBibber'': Piet and Bert share the same house, but their jobs are never addressed.
* ''ComicBook/SpirouAndFantasio'': Spirou is a bellhop, but hasn't been near a hotel in decades. Fantasio doesn't seem to have a job either.
* ''ComicBook/GastonLagaffe'': Gaston is usually seen sleeping, clowning around or unwillingly creating accidents at his office. He is frequently criticized for not doing his job, but, then again, it is never made clear what he is exactly supposed to do.
** It was in fact the character's defining element for a long time: Before he got his own proper comics, Gaston was actually a character who sometimes appeared in the margin of the magazine "Spirou", with no explanation whatsoever of who he was or why he was there. It took some time before the two main characters of "Spirou et Fantasio" began to wonder what exactly was the purpose of his presence, and when they finally asked him, the only thing learned was that he supposedly had been hired by "some guy" to work here. Who was that guy, and what was the job that Gaston was supposed to be hired for remained a mystery, even for Gaston himself, hence why Gaston ended up being dubbed the "Hero-without-employment"
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[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* ''ComicStrip/DeKiekeboes'': Marcel Kiekeboe works at an office, but that's all we ever hear about his job.
* ''ComicStrip/{{Nero}}'': Nero seems to be without a job, because his wife always nags him with the question: "When are you finally going to get a job?" Though he describes his job as a "newspaper appearance", referencing the fact that "Nero" was a popular newspaper comic strip.
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[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/LivingInOblivion'' is an independent film, with an ensemble cast, about making an independent film. When the director (Steve Buscemi) [[RantInducingSlight goes berserk on his crew after one disaster too many on a shoot]], he calls each one out by name and reels off their failures in their jobs. When he gets to a production assistant, wide-eyed with panic, he hesitates and squints at her, "Who are you? What do you fucking do around here, anyway?"
* Tom Smykowski, in ''Film/OfficeSpace'' has a job whose duties seem so light and so nebulous that even he can barely describe his job in terms that make it sound like he does any actual work. He isn't in sales, he isn't a programmer, and he doesn't even really interact with clientele, prompting the Bobs to repeatedly ask "What would you say you ''do'' here?"
* ''Film/WagTheDog'': Robert De Niro's character.
--> "What exactly is it that you do for the President?"
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[[folder:Literature]]
* In ''Literature/CatchTwentyTwo'', no one seems to know what Major ---- de Coverly's official function is, and no one is game enough to ask him.
* In ''Literature/DragonBlood'', there is a character who hangs around in Hurog and makes himself useful (healing, teaching, etc), but doesn't hold an official job. This causes problems when someone refers to him as Ward's [[spoiler: dragon]], because while the term is technically correct, Ward rejects the implication that the character is ''his'' in any way. In Hurog, you don't own people, and Ward is very diligent about that. [[spoiler: The fact that Oreg was bound by magic to serve him as slave is still a sore spot for Ward.]]
* Some of the members of [[Literature/XWingSeries Wraith Squadron]], most prominently Wes Janson and Falynn Sandskimmer in the team's eponymous novel. Both have [[JackOfAllTrades a wide variety of skills]] (he's an AcePilot and a good shot, with a grab bag of commando skills from the earlier anything-goes days of [[LaResistance the Rebel Alliance]], she's a thief, lock-breaker, and all-around smeak who picked up plenty of experience as a street kid) but [[MasterOfNone don't really excel in any one area]]. In Janson's case, he's ostensibly Wedge's NumberTwo, but Face and Kell are both being groomed very aggressively for that position and he's really the commander's moral support. In Falynn's, however, the trope turns tragic when, [[AlwaysSomeoneBetter driven by her perceived inferiority]], she tries to prove herself and takes too many risks on a mission [[spoiler: with [[AnyoneCanDie fatal consequences]]]].
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* For most of the first season of ''ThirdRockFromTheSun'', nobody knew why Harry was on the mission. They then revealed that he was the radio link with their home planet. He eventually gets sad about this fact, since he's essentially equipment. It was frequently implied that his ''main'' function was TeamPet.
* In the HBO mini-series ''Series/JohnAdams'', the title character laments that the office of Vice President of the United States seems an awful lot like this, which is TruthInTelevision, as the only official job responsibilities of the Vice President are to cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate and to take over if the President dies in office. Some Presidents have averted this by finding other duties for their VP to perform, and others played it straight by essentially ignoring them once the election's over.
* On ''Series/NecessaryRoughness'' Niko does not seem to have an official position in the Hawks football organization but is involved in most of the big decisions. He is a close friend of the team's owner Marshall Pittman and acts as a general "fixer" for any problems that require extreme discretion and cannot be handled through official channels.
* Series/GroundFloor: No one knows what Tori does in the office. She only comes in to sleep after spending the night clubbing and is only seen awake when she's goofing off with the rest of the maintenance staff.
--> '''Jenny''': "Threepeat, you know who's fluent in Mandarin is Tori."
--> '''Threepeat''': "Are you serious? Can you spare her for a day so she can teach me?"
--> '''Jenny''': "Spare her? We don't even know what she does!"
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'' franchise:
** In the first season of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', Worf and Geordi's duties apart from "all-purpose junior officer" are pretty vague. They can sometimes be seen at the conn or tactical stations or as part of away missions. They're given more defined roles after being promoted to chief of Security and Engineering respectively.
*** Data is officially the ship's Operations Officer, but is often shown working in several different departments including Science, Engineering, and Medical, as a result of his extremely large knowledge base.
** Once Worf moves to ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' his job duties become unclear once again. His title is "Strategic Operations Officer" and the duties are described as "coordinating all Starfleet activity within the sector", which sounds like a job for an administrator that would take up a lot of time. However, we ''never'' see him performing this duty. Instead, we see him performing almost any other job, such as small arms recalibration, communications duties, security related issues, and, most often, acting as XO aboard the ''Defiant'' (even being referred to as "first officer" of the ''Defiant'' in one episode). It was fairly obvious to viewers that Worf's "job" was little more than an excuse to have him join the show.
* ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'': Most of the people on Coulson's team have clearly-defined roles (May is a pilot, Skye is a hacker, Fitz is an engineer, etc.) but Triplett doesn't seem to have any specific purpose other than general badassery. It's mentioned at one point that he has medical training, but he never really uses it onscreen and the team's [[TheMedic Medic]] is usually Simmons. Even as a fighter he's pretty redundant, since the show's go-to badasses are May, Ward, and Lance Hunter, they're usually the ones sent off to fight the bad guys while Triplett just stays behind at the base. One episode of season 2 has him subbing for May as the plane's pilot, apparently just to give him something to do.
* Jayne in ''{{Series/Firefly}}'' is this in-universe. When Simon asks Mal what he pays Jayne for in the first episode, Mal flippantly replies "[[BlatantLies public relations]]." While it's never stated he's more the team's heavy and to an extent the dumb muscle.
* Series/JonathanCreek, at least in the sense that he seems to wear an awful lot of hats in his day-job as [[OnlySaneEmployee designated sane person]] and [[ManBehindTheMan the guy who makes most of the tricks work]] for the Adam Klaus Magic Show. Is he the stage manager, set designer, senior special effects technician or all three? It doesn't help that he's been referred to by at least two different job descriptions in two different episodes, both of them rather vague.
* Series/HowIMetYourMother: It's a {{Running Gag}} throughout the series that if you ask Barney what his job is he'll simply reply "Pfft, please." All that's known is that it's very high income, doesn't require Barney to really do any work, and it's very dodgy in terms of legality.
** Subverted when his job is finally revealed in the final series.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/TombRaiderLegend'' gives us Alister Fletcher, a man Lara is paying to [[VoiceWithAnInternetConnection talk to her over headset]] in order to...moan about the video quality, argue with his colleague, and generally stand around asking questions about things he should know already. The butler knows more than him. He supposedly does library research and runs errands.
* In Shizune's route of ''KatawaShoujo'', Hisao and Misha have no official positions on the student council. Because of this, and the [[ClubStub size]] of the student council, [[AbusiveParents Shizune's father]] [[JerkAss Jigoro]] has no respect for it.
* This topic comes up in an early dialogue within ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'' when Aveline asks Varric if he actually does anything except "watch and talk." He answers that "coins flow when I talk and when I shut up. Like if you got paid to guard or unguard." When Aveline says he isn't making any sense, Varric simply replies "Good." If you're wondering what he actually does, he publishes short stories and ends up in charge of his family's businesses (though he avoids Merchant's Guild meetings if at all possible). Oh, and he may or may not have a spy network at his disposal (in Dragon Age: Inquisition, he confirms that he does have a spy network, but leaves it to Liliana because she's a much better spymaster than he is).
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX2'' has Brother: while he's officially the leader of the Gullwings and pilots the ship, Yuna is unofficially TheFace of the crew (due to her fame) and is usually the one to make the big decisions, and as [[TheLancer Rikku]] points out, the ship flies better on auto-pilot. She then [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] the trope by wondering what Brother actually DOES for the crew.
* Pac-Man in ''VideoGame/NamcoHigh'' mainly seems to butt in on private moments and tell everyone concerned to be true to themselves. Even Principal VideoGame/DigDug has absolutely no idea what he's actually doing at their school besides the fact that everyone seems to like him.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* It may come as a surprise that WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck is apparently not a sailor, but describes himself as "an actor" in ''WesternAnimation/TheNewSpirit''. Even his pen is in doubt as he puts a question mark behind this profession.
* Initially, Bender from ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}''. It's addressed in the early episode "My Three Suns", and he's given the position of [[LethalChef ship's cook]]. Even though he can't actually cook. However in later episodes he has been able to make edible meals.
-->'''Hermes: ''' I've been going through our records and it seems that we've been paying you to do nothing but loaf about on the couch.
-->'''Bender: ''' You call that a couch? I DEMAND A PILLOW!
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/RenAndStimpy'', Stimpy resolves to make a [[ShowWithinAShow cartoon]] and Ren asks to join in, but laments that he has no talent. Stimpy tells him that this makes him perfect for the job of [[TakeThat Producer]], the person who "tells the artist what to do, and then when the cartoon's done, ''he gets all the credit!''"
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[[folder:Real Life]]
* Everybody on Earth knows who Creator/WaltDisney is. But what his actual profession was is far more difficult to describe. Many see him as a cartoonist and an animator, yet Disney drew his last drawing in 1926. Others claim he is a film director, but he only directed a minor few of his movies himself. He is often credited as a wonderful creator and storyteller, but most of the character designs, ideas and technical innovations were thought up and done by other people. The best description may be 'film producer', seeing that Walt invested millions of money in his cartoons and used the profits back for new projects. He could also combine the talents of many people and make them enthusiastic for each new project. And of course he was also a voice actor for his own studio, providing Mickey Mouse's vocals until his voice became hoarse from years of smoking
* Some restaurants have someone, called a "roundsman" among other names, who floats from station to station during peak hours helping out where needed. At slower times their presence can resemble this trope.
** At Thomas Keller's restaurants The French Laundry and Per Se, they added a secondary sous chef who would work the pass or float around as needed during busy periods, and otherwise just stand around. The cooks began calling it the 'SAS,' for Standing Around Station, but when Keller asked what it meant he was told Second Assistant Sous, liked the acronym, and made it official. So, to this day, somebody is always scheduled to the Standing Around Station, which can be very much this trope.
* The position of a gofer, as in "I need something, so I'm sending you to ''go fer'' it." This person has no one single defined job, but does anything that needs to be done. Depending on the person they report to and what the project is that they're working on, this person can serve as a personal assistant, sound board operator, even an unofficial second-in-command.
* This is generally the lot of a circus roustabout. Circus contracts usually include the passage "Employee will make himself useful as needed", which amounts to "If the boss comes up with a job, you do it". Circus workers refer to getting forced into random, meaningless labor as "working Chinese" (after the exploited Chinese laborers on the transcontinental railroad).
* The job title of "Project Coordinator" can be vague even for those who have it. Alternatively, "Project Administrator", "Project Developmental Specialist"...really, anything with "Project" in the title, as they are, by design working on special projects that can vary from week to week, day to day, and hour to hour.
* [[Creator/ValveSoftware Chet Faliszek's]] job description:
--> We are all still trying to figure out exactly what it is that Chet does at Valve, but at the very least he occupies office space on the 11th floor as self-proclaimed Mr. Awesome.
* The question certainly arises in the case of many socialites, who just seem to appear at parties, festivities, TV panel shows, award shows and other public appearances and nothing else.
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