Follow TV Tropes

Overwork-Induced Illness

Go To

A person gets sick from working too hard.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
mimitchi33 on Jan 9th 2019 at 3:37:23 PM
Last Edited By:
Dorondes on Mar 15th 2019 at 11:54:04 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

A character is working very hard to achieve something, be it preparing for a concert or an event, and tries to stay up all night or spend most of their day working on it. But on the day of the actual even they are preparing for, they wind up fainting or wake up with a fever.

Unfortunately, this trope is Truth in Television: stress is known to be a factor that can increase one's risk of illness and exacerbation of illness. Immunosuppression is a natural part of the stress process, as it allows the body to put more energy into forming a "fight or flight" response; prolonged stress means prolonged immunosuppression, and therefore a considerable period of time forms in which one is more likely to get sick.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime And Manga 
  • In the 32nd episode of Doki Doki Pretty Cure, Mana overworks herself for the school culture festival and faints before it even begins. She still wants to attend, but Aguri tells her the story of The Happy Prince to try and teach her that her health is more important.
  • In the 13th episode of THE iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls, Minami gets this after practicing for the Idol Festival, but decides to join the girls after realizing what she means to the group. Zero-Context Example — what are the symptoms of her illness?
  • In the 11th episode of Love Live!, Honoka overworks herself for a school festival performance, and doesn't feel well on the morning of the festival. She's still determined to attend, but collapses at the end of the first song.

     Live Action TV 
  • In one of the episodes of the drama adaptation of Boys Before Flowers, Geum Jan Di gets sick and passes out from stress combined with working too much.

     Literature 
  • The title character in Literature/Frankenstein becomes seriously unwell due to his constant work and reading while studying. He also has other illnesses from other causes throughout the course of the novel, however.

    Western Animation 
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Scroogerello", Scrooge wakes up with a fever after working too hard.
  • In the Legend of Korra episode "Old Wounds," Aiwei points out that Lin is a guest and should not be working, and that she is physically unwell from stress. This turns out to be correct, despite Aiwei being a traitor, and she collapses near the episode's end.
  • In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants where Krusty Krab opens for 24 hours, the restaurant receives an order of 10000 Krabby Patties, causing Spongebob to work nonstop to make said amount. A few days later, Spongebob starts to hallucinate as he sees people as walking, talking Krabby Patties, forcing Mr. Krabs to tell Spongebob to go see a psychiatrist.

Feedback: 26 replies

Jan 9th 2019 at 3:40:16 PM

I got the idea for this after watching the final episode of the first season of The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls, in which this trope is a plot point. Online research shows that it's a common trope in anime. Before that, I only saw it in two other shows, so those are the only three examples I know.

Jan 9th 2019 at 4:31:19 PM

I think one thing that ought to be noted is the fact that this is kinda-sorta Truth In Television.

Stress is known to be a factor that can increase one's risk of illness and exacerbation of illness. Immunosuppression is a natural part of the stress process, as it allows the body to put more energy into forming a "fight or flight" response; prolonged stress means prolonged immunosuppression, and therefore a considerable period of time forms in which one is more likely to get sick.

Jan 9th 2019 at 9:37:50 PM

Compare Overworked Sleep, the downplayed variant.

  • Spongebob Squarepants: In an episode where Krusty Krab opens for 24 hours, the restaurant receives an order of 10000 Krabby Patties, causing Spongebob to work nonstop to make said amount. A few days later, Spongebob starts to hallucinate as he sees people as walking, talking Krabby Patties, forcing Mr. Krabs to tell Spongebob to go see a psychiatrist.

Jan 9th 2019 at 9:41:52 PM

In the Duck Tales 1987 episode "Scroogerello", Scrooge wakes up with a fever. I can't remember whether it's explicitly said this could have been a result of overwork, but given that he seldom slows down, it's a possibility.

Are you sure Overwork Induced Illness wouldn't be a better trope idea? Are the fever examples numerous enough to qualify on their own?

Jan 10th 2019 at 12:57:57 AM

^ I agree that this should be expanded to any illness due to overwork.

If we don't already have that one, we should have it first to avoid Missing Supertrope Syndrome.

Jan 10th 2019 at 3:06:45 AM

If expanded to include working oneself to the point of illness there was an example in Boys Before Flowers where Geum Jan Di got sick and passed out from stress combined with working to much. I don't recall if there was mention of a fever.

Jan 10th 2019 at 4:11:45 PM

Added your examples and changed the name to reflect other illnesses.

Jan 10th 2019 at 4:25:31 PM

This reminds me of the Karoshi (Japanese), Guolaosi (Mandarin) and Gwarosa (Korean) issues.

Jan 10th 2019 at 5:38:53 PM

^ a.k.a "Death by Overwork".

There's one example like that in Fate Grand Order (Gilgamesh) but I don't know the exact details.

Jan 10th 2019 at 6:06:31 PM

Not sure if adding a RL section would be okay since a lot of those are in East Asia.

The most prominent I can think of is that a NHK reporter offed herself for working too hard.

Jan 19th 2019 at 3:35:55 PM

Literature

  • In Memoirs of an Institute Girl, the narrating character notices how her best friend Nina overtaxes herself mercilessly when studying, determined to prove herself as worthy of her great family. Combined with the bad climate, it leads to Nina's health failing and eventually to her death.

Jan 19th 2019 at 5:20:23 PM

I thought the Spongebob example was more sleep deprivation than overwork.

Jan 19th 2019 at 7:47:46 PM

^ Dude literally worked more than 24 hours nonstop. If that isn't overwork, then what?

Jan 19th 2019 at 10:03:38 PM

I'm not saying "he's not overworked". I'm saying "the overwork isn't the cause".

Jan 20th 2019 at 1:58:49 AM

^ if he hallucinates about Krabby Patty, it can't be anything other than "working on Krabby Patties too much".

Jan 20th 2019 at 2:03:27 AM

  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
    • Added the word "Examples".

Jan 20th 2019 at 3:31:13 AM

Jan 20th 2019 at 9:08:49 AM

  • Mentioned to be why Jonah dropped out of business school in Superstore.

Jan 20th 2019 at 10:32:50 AM

Real Life

  • This is so frequent in Japanese corporate culture that there is an official term for death by overwork, "Karoshi". Known casualties include Miwa Sado, a reporter who died of heart failure after putting in 159 hours of overtime in one month.

Jan 20th 2019 at 12:58:01 PM

If this is about any illness caused by overwork, then there's no good reason to exclude mental illness, e.g. the Meat O Vision hallucination from the Spongebob example.

See also Triple Shifter.

Jan 20th 2019 at 1:05:16 PM

Sherlock Holmes is known to do this, capable of going without food or sleep as he worries away at a problem, to Dr. Watson's dismay (not helped by Holmes' cocaine habit when he doesn't have a case, or by his belief that eating causes him to think less efficiently). In several cases Watson manages to persuade Holmes to take a vacation... which inevitably results in Holmes getting caught up in the murder of the week, although the intellectual stimulation seems to help his recovery.

Mar 15th 2019 at 8:18:27 AM

Isn't this best known as a Weird Japanese Thing, where a typical salaryman in a regimented work-orientated society feels unable to refuse his employer's incessant demands for more and more overtime and, inevitably, finds even sleep is coming second to work - to the point where the hapless underling ends up dying on the job. got it: what The Other Wiki calls karoshi.

Mar 15th 2019 at 9:27:52 AM

Does this trope involve in general illness induced by eccessive intellectual working? For example as too much study? Real life example for what I mean: writer Giacomo Leopardi spent the last years of his youth going through an excessively intense study of humanities (especially classical poetry) that contribuited ruin his already fragile health.

Top