Can you believe this? [Doofenshmirtz] had the nerve to call in sick. I'm here. Carl's here. Don't you think I'd rather be at home watching Ducky Momo?
— A visibly-ill Major Monogram lays it out for Agent P, Phineas and FerbThe Hero may be feeling under the weather, but the world isn't going to stop just so she can take a rest. She's going to have to haul herself up and get to work, either because she's simply that dedicated or because the latest situation is something only she can handle, healthy or not. Other characters may try to keep her in bed, but it's all in vain. Naturally, this tends to put the hero at a handicap. If the mission involves stealth, she may find herself in need of an Anti-Sneeze Finger. Malfunction Malady could be invoked if the hero has powers or magic. Compare I Can Still Fight, for the Serious Injuries version. Worf Had the Flu is a related trope where a normally-badass character who suffers a lapse of badassery can claim illness or some other justifying excuse for her loss. Sub-Trope of Sick Episode.
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Anime & Manga
- In the Cardcaptor Sakura episode "Sakura's Dizzy Fever Day", Sakura has a fever but tries to perform her school and Magical Girl duties anyway. She can barely do it with Syaoran and Meiling's help, and then passes out in bed. Good thing that Nadeshiko's ghost uses her own energy to help her a little.
- The World God Only Knows has Keima getting sick due to staying out in the rain for too long. However, that doesn't stop Keima from pushing his agenda to awaken the last remaining Goddess hiding amongst the females he's interacted with; initiating a sick-home-visit event to have the female Goddess host visit Keima's house and take care of him while he's resting in bed.
- Goku from Dragon Ball Z tried this when he was fighting Android 19 and sick with his heart virus. It didn't end so well. Granted, he didn't even realize he had the virus at that point of time and only started coming down during the middle of the fight.
- The Sailor Moon R episode "Venus Minako's Nurse Mayhem" (or "No Thanks, Nurse Venus" in the original dub), in which an influenza epidemic strikes (perpetuated by the show's villains) and all the Sailor Senshi except Venus are infected with it. Sailor Moon is so weak from her illness that she is almost unable to perform her final attack.
- A 90s anime episode (from the first season) has Rei down with a head cold, and Ami is shown trying to nurse her back to health. When Sailor Moon (who was still shaky in her role as a Senshi) winds up in troubled, Sailor Mercury and Mars (complete with a face mask) show up to help.
- In episode 9 of Locodol, Yukari works the day hiding a fever. When she's finally found out she's forced to rest and let Nanako handle the last event. She spends the episode's second half in bed reminiscing about the day she first met Nanako.
- Frequently happens to Spider-Man in the comics, most notably during the famous story in which Gwen Stacy dies.
- On another occasion he fought Doctor Octopus while seriously ill. Octopus defeated him, unmasked him, and was convinced by Peter's classmates that Parker couldn't possibly be Spider-Man, especially given the feeble fight he'd put up, and he was just dressing up. Years later during Civil War, Peter reveals his identity, and Ock goes on a rampage at the realization that he'd not only been repeatedly defeated by a teen, but had known the truth for years.
- Not even Superman is immune to this trope. He gets unexpectedly sick for a number of issues starting with a bad cough. The Parasite drains his powers and catches the infection too. Towards the end he develops a sickly green glow as he gets sicker but he doesn't have time to rest since Lois ends up missing. Turns it he was infected with some sort of kryptonite virus.
- Invoked for considerable dramatic effect during the Batman storyline Knightfall. Bruce Wayne is already suffering from sleep deprivation and the flu when Bane engineers a mass breakout at Arkham Asylum... and is waiting for him when he finally staggers back into the manor.
- In one installment of the comic strip FoxTrot, Jason comes to school with a cold and presents Miss O'Malley with what purports to be a note from his parents asking that he be allowed to remain in class. Miss O'Malley recognizes the note as a forgery and tells Jason to go home, but Jason begs to stay and at least be allowed to take the math test.
- Another "Batman" example is from Batman Noel (a Christmas carol inspired stand alone comic) where Bruce is suffering from pneumonia throughout the entire comic but still insists on staying out in the snow fighting crime.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- In Locke, the title character's cold is never explicitly addressed, but he chugs some cough syrup and blows his nose several times. This helps portray the difficulties the character is working through as he drives to his destination. It was thrown in because Tom Hardy just happened to have a cold while shooting.
- In Howl's Moving Castle Howl has to cast a difficult spell, go to a funeral in disguise, and fight the evil Witch of the Waste, all while he has a bad cold.
- Stella tries doing this in one of the CSI NY tie in novels, only to eventually pass out and require hospitalization.
- Despite having a bad cold in The Woman Who Made Machines Go Haywire, and an out-of-control jinx, Iris is forced to head to work or face losing her job.
- Ebenezer Scrooge has "a cold in his head" throughout the events of A Christmas Carol. This fact is only mentioned twice in passing, has no bearing on the plot (though it enhances the sense of chill and misery surrounding him), and is left out of most adaptations.
Live Action TV
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Kimberly is sick with a cold during season 3's tripart opener, "A Friend In Need". She has to stay behind resting while the other rangers travel to Edenoi. However, Zedd and Rita send down a monster, forcing Kimberly to fight in spite of her illness. It's a tough fight, but the monster catches her cold and has to return to the moon so that Finster can cure it.
- The Parks and Recreation episode "Flu Season". Leslie keeps working and insisting that she is not sick, despite being obviously ill to the point of having fever hallucinations.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer once ended up in the hospital in "Killed By Death", as a result of trying to fight Angelus while having the flu. However, a monster turns out to be preying on the children while she's there, and the flu ends up allowing her to see and fight it.
- In one episode of Head of the Class, Arvid has the flu, but refuses to stay home because it will disrupt the perfect attendance record he has maintained since kindergarten. As a result, the entire high school catches it, to the point where he is apparently the only person in the building by the end of the episode.
- Piper does it twice on Charmed. In season 1 episode "The Wendigo", Piper is exhausted, feverish, and having dizzy spells at work, but stays in because, well, Piper's like that. In season 2 "Awakened", she's having coughing fits and "feels funky," but she stays at work until she collapses. Both situations are gross because Piper serves food.
- The M*A*S*H episode "Carry On, Hawkeye" has everyone at the 4077th come down with the flu save Hawkeye, who's seemingly immune and thus left to run the O.R. practically by himself. Then he gets sick, but is forced to keep going.
- Wheel of Fortune: Pat Sajak hosted two weeks of episodes from San Francisco in November 1996 despite coming down with laryngitis at the time. By the end of the week, his voice was nearly gone, so he and hostess Vanna White traded places in the Bonus Round.
- In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the incredibly tough Detective Rosa Diaz plans to do this when she comes down with a cold while trying to make a breakthrough in a major case. It's subverted, however, since she ends up going hyper after taking too much cold medicine, then crashing and sleeping for ten hours straight, so doesn't manage to get a single useful thing done whatsoever. The other characters help out and get her the information she needs in the meantime.
- Paul Harvey hosted several episodes of Paul Harvey's News and Comment and The Rest of the Story in the early 2000s despite a bout of pneumonia that left him sounding very rough. (He also zig-zagged this by letting others fill in for him.)
- In the last case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations Phoenix caught a nasty cold (39 degreesnote fever, and that's after it dropped) but he still investigated the case.
- On The Simpsons, a Japanese worker goes to work despite having the flu, and coughs inside a box that's bound for Springfield.
- Batman: The Animated Series: Batman comes down with a cold after being exposed to Mr. Freeze's ice ray. Still he has to go out and stop the villain (after all he's the God Damn Batman!) Alfred makes him take a thermos of chicken soup with him — which ultimately saves the day as Batman defeats Freeze by using the thermos to smash his containment suit's helmet.
- Defied in Spongebob Squarepants. When Spongebob is sick with an in-universe illness called The Suds, he attempts to drag himself to work anyway, but Mr. Krabs notices how sick he is and sends him home so he doesn't sneeze on the food.
- Kim Possible had an episode where both heroes and villains work through the cold. Kim, Drakken, Ron, Shego and Duff Killigan all end up with colds as they take turns stealing an experimental ray back and forth from each other — none of them knowing what it does. Ultimately the ray gun gets destroyed and ironically it turns out it was designed to cure the common cold.
- Ben 10 caught a cold in one episode, and his symptoms carried over into his alien morphs, clogging Wildmutt's heat sensors, giving Four-Arms a smelly rash, and changing Heatblast's powers from fire to ice. He took advantage of the latter, cooling down a nuclear reactor that was being attacked by villains.
- In Time Squad, with Otto sick with a cold, Buck and Larry are forced to solve a mission without him; this doesn't work out because the two are clueless about American history and the signing of the Declaration of Independence and have to repeatedly go back to the satellite and ask Otto what to do next because they are so dependent on his knowledge. In the end they give up and drag a very sick Otto out to 1776 to have him recite the opening to the Declaration, where he then passes out from exhaustion.
- Spider-Man loves this Trope, as it's been seen in several animated incarnations going back to "Horn of the Rhino" in 1967. Here we see both Sneeze of Doom and a Batman Gambit—a can of pepper borrowed from Aunt May's kitchen—to get Rhino also sneezing, just long enough to throw his attacks off.
- For many, staying home from their job due to a cold or other illness is something they cannot afford to due since they don't get paid for taking time off (unless the employer offers paid sick leave). Ergo, people that want to keep making money to pay the bills will go to work anyway, but they also risk getting everyone else at the job sick as well. The sick person may wear a face mask or bring some sanitizer to make sure they don't spread their illness. Some employers will encourage or even outright order a sick employee to stay home so that no one else gets sick and causes production to drop. Depending on the occupation, some people simply cannot stay home and must do their jobs anyway.