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Anime and Manga
- Hajime no Ippo
- Makanochi Ippo acquired his large amount of strength in his arms and legs by helping out his mother's fishing business.
- Sawada is a great boxer because he understands the capabilities of the human body better than most people due to 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 bullied 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.
- Kobayashi from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is able to ace the written portion of a high ranking mage exam thanks to her experiences as a systems engineer (the programming language her company uses is modeled off of the magic system in question).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 became so strong because in his youth, he was a slave who did some really heavy work.
- Early in Spotlight, we learn that Mark Rezendes worked as a cabdriver before he became a reporter. This skill comes into play after he gets a key piece of evidence later in the movie, when he advises the cabby taking him back to the Boston Globe office that he'll get there more quickly if he doesn't take I-93.
- Before the events of 10 Cloverfield Lane, Michelle was training to become a fashion designer. She later uses those skills to survive an alien attack by creating an entire Hazmat Suit, complete with gas mask, out of a shower curtain.
- Old School: Played for comedy in that the members of the frat are all a bunch of white-collar thirtysomethings, so they keep their frat protected from the Dean by being "really good at filling out paperwork."
- Underground: Blacky is an electrician by trade, which has made him immune to electrical shocks. When Nazis kidnap him and try to torture him with electroshock therapy equipment, it seems to have no effect. One of the Nazis tests the machinery by touching an electrode and gets Blown Across the Room.
- Bryan Mills in the Taken series.
"But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you."
- In Tempting 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.
- The Wheel of Time: Perrin is made extremely strong due to being an apprentice blacksmith. And also gets his alternate weapon from it.
- The Belgariad: Durnik gets his strength from being a blacksmith.
- Septimus Heap: Nicko Heap during his work on Jannit Maarten's boatyard picks up some impressive strength that plays a minor role in the Syren plot.
- In 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.
- Gaunt's 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.)
- Clara Oswald is a teacher. Once she can handle stroppy teenagers, dealing with murderous aliens is easy.
- 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.
- In Queen of the South, Teresa is able to tell the difference between a real dollar bill and a forgery as a result of working as a money-changer. This comes in handy when one of Camila's buyers tries to give her fake money for a delivery.
- 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.
- "The Axe Man" is a The Elder Scrolls series in-universe book. It 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).
- 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.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, 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.
- Alice, the main character from Evil Plan, starts the comic looking for a place to work and ends up hired on to build and maintain designs for a super villain. A lifetime of working as an engineer prepared her for the super villain game.
- In Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Jones's day job is an apprentice butcher at the local supermarket. During the Nomura Syndrome arc, she's seen skinning and dressing the monsters they kill for food. Later, Commander Badass recruits Jones for the Survival Derby game specifically for her monster-butchering skills.
- Danny Phantom
- The Box Ghost looks like a longshoreman and is first seen at a port. Hence his status as master of "All things cardboard and square".
- The Lunch Lady Ghost used to be a cafeteria lady. One who used meat in her recipe. She uses a meat cleaver as her 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.)
- The Sales Assistant Voice. It's hardly heroic, but developing the ability to deal with, help, endear, and even not be intimidated by, a wide variety of people with a calm and professional attitude, is a lot more common in people who have had to work some kind of retail job. Of course, sometimes it backfires. This also applies to people who work in Call Centres who are ranked as often being the target of abuse.