Chekhov's Skill. For times when characters train in sports and apply their athletic abilities in combat situations see I Know Madden Kombat. Also look toward I Know Mortal Kombat for situations related to video games.
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Anime and Manga
- Makanochi Ippo from Hajime No Ippo acquired his large amount of strength in his arms and legs by helping out his mother's fishing business.
- Sawada was a great boxer as he understood the capabilities of the human body better than most people because he was studying to be a doctor.
- Rock from Black Lagoon was a former salaryman before joining the Lagoon Company. Now he uses his previous skills and handles business negotiations and public relations for the group of mercenaries.
- Simon from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was a former driller who later piloted a robot; the robot's special weapon is a giant drill.
- Sanji from One Piece acquired his speed and toughness while working in the kitchen under a bad-tempered Retired Badass.
- A character in the lacrosse series Baggataway gained her speed and throwing skills by working in her parents' ramen shop.
- Takumi from Initial D learns his drifting skills by making a nightly tofu delivery up and down a mountain for five years. The only reason he bothered with the drifting, rather than just driving normally? Driving was boring, and he wanted to get home faster. He doesn't even realize exactly what it is he's doing before he begins racing.
- In Hayate the Combat Butler, this is the explanation given for many of Hayate's non-butler skills. Between the jobs he did for his father and the jobs he did to support himself since he was eight (he's only sixteen at the time of the story). His skills as a butler have a completely different origin.
- Sena of Eyeshield 21 began developed his exceptional footwork as a result of being bullying into (literally) running errands throughout his school years. He was briefly taught some proper running technique by a football-playing friend of his beforehand, though, and has to put in a lot of hard work to refine his skills for use on the field.
- Yorick from Y: The Last Man is an escape artist and magician by hobby. The various magic tricks he's learned has saved his life on more than on occasion.
- Andy in The Goonies was able to save her friends from a deadly trap on account of the fact she took piano lessons when she was four years old.
- Towards the beginning of the fantasy movie The Monkey King, the main character mentions that he's a champion at his business's racquetball tournaments. Towards the end, he uses a sword like a racket to knock back the Big Bad's energy blasts.
- A borderline case from Shaolin Soccer: Mui, the bun store girl, uses tai chi to knead and spin dough. She later uses these skills to help Team Shaolin at the soccer finals.
- Aliens. After Ripley is stripped of her flight license, the only job she can get is at the docks running loaders and forklifts. This later comes in useful when she has to drive a heavy armoured personnel carrier, and use an exoskeleton-forklift to battle the Queen Alien.
- Conan the Barbarian became so strong because in his youth, he was a slave who did some really heavy work.
- This explanation is exclusive to the movie; in Robert E. Howard's stories, he was enslaved only after he was as strong as he was.
- In Temping Fate, the main character picks up some very interesting skills in her day job. She does temp work for the gods — specifically, the Greek Fates.
- "Ground Rice" from The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. As he says, all his life he's ground rice using a simple machine operated with the legs, so his legs are incredibly powerful.
- In both Legend of the Seeker and the original books, Richard's skills as a woods guide come in handy quite often, considering how often he and his party find themselves wandering through one sort of wilderness or another.
- Perrin is made extremely strong due to being an apprentice blacksmith. And also gets his alternate weapon from it.
- The same applies for Durnik.
- Septimus Heap: Nicko Heap during his work on Jannit Maarten's boatyard picks up some impressive strengh that plays a minor role in the Syren plot.
- The Persian Boy the eunuch Bagoas is a trained dancer. He uses a dance move to kill a soldier who is trying to rape him.
- Gaunts Ghosts: Though many of the Ghosts were raised from the planetary defense force or city militias like you might expect, their scouts were often woodsmen who learned firsthand the kind of stealth and survival skills the Tanith become known for. (Scout Sergeant Mkoll, for instance, was a professional game hunter.) And once the regiment leaves Tanith, the necessities of the situation lead to a lot of soldiers gaining new specialties based on their past experience to fill out the unit's needs: machine workers become experts in demolition, Verghastine miners become their pioneers and sappers, and so forth. Infamously, flame-trooper Brostin picked up his affinity for fire as a firefighter and/or arsonist.
Live Action TV
- In an episode of Heroes, Nikki was able to knock out a bad guy using a roundhouse kick on account of her work as a pole dancer.
- Jay and Grant from Ghost Hunters often use the same skills they use from their plumbing day jobs in order to debunk and solve alleged hauntings.
- In the 2nd episode of Band of Brothers, Buck Compton throws a grenade at a fleeing German soldier, which hits him in the back and explodes. Buck was the star catcher for UCLA's baseball team so this kind of feat under pressure was probably natural for him. Inverted in the same episode, however, as he tries to throw another grenade, gets bumped, and drops it amongst his own men causing momentary panic.
- Doctor Who: Donna Noble, Super Temp. She can find her way across an office blindfolded. (Or so she claims.)
- Chuck frequently uses his IT skills gained at the Buy More either on missions or as cover.
- Arguably, Jonathan Creek.
- During the Death Takes a Holiday episode of Dead Like Me, the reapers have to catch up on paperwork, and the ever-apathetic George (who has a job at an office temp agency) goes on a long rant about what types of organizational methods they might want to use, while everyone else just stares at her.
George: It's amazing what you learn when you're trying as hard as you can not to learn anything.
- Resident Evil Outbreak has several characters who have special skills based off of their occupations. George is a doctor and can make medicine while David is able to combine items and make new weapons using duct tape on account of being a plumber.
- Doctor Stiles was able to defuse a bomb in Trauma Center because of his steady hands and surgical tools.
- In the second Trauma Center game Stiles uses his surgical knowledge and tools to dismantle a computer operated door.
- One of the books that can be found in The Elder Scrolls series tells the story of a young man who was able to learn the skills he needed to become an axe wielding assassin through the chores he was put through while growing up on a farm by an Evil Uncle (his first victim). You can read The Axe Man here courtesy of the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages.
- That story also illustrates, almost perfectly, how many Lost in Changeling: The Lost have "benefitted" from their durance.
- Link works as a goatherder in Ordon Village in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. His goat-wrangling skills, demonstrated in the early parts of the game, come in handy later — first to get past the Gorons guarding the trail to Death Mountain, and in the endgame to wrangle Ganondorf's beast form.
- Taken to an even more direct extreme in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, where Link is conveniently trained to be a railroad conductor — the only job that will allow him to travel around New Hyrule as needed to complete the adventure.
- The Box Ghost from Danny Phantom looks like a longshoreman and is first seen at a port. Hence his status as master of "All things cardboard and square".
- For that matter, the Lunch Lady Ghost used to be a cafeteria lady. One who used meat in her recipe. Guess what she uses for a weapon?
- Inverted in Kim Possible, Ron gets running experience while doing some Deadly Dodging and makes use of it in the local sports team. Played straight in the same series, as Kim uses her cheerleading moves to dodge death rays and other obstacles.
- Spartacus. Fighting skills and showmanship learnt in the arena prepared him, effectively, to lead an army of a hundred thousand escaped slaves and gladiators. (He did not actually do the whole hero-ideological-overthrow-Rome thing, preferring only to go home, and eventually was defeated, of course, but it was still a pretty good show.)