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Acceptable Professional Targets

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Dromiceiomimus: Oh! Why don't PROFESSION MEMBERS play hide and seek?
T-Rex: Why?
Dromiceiomimus: Because no one will look for them!
T-Rex: Hah! Ouch for PROFESSION MEMBERS, and their stereotype!

Subtrope of Acceptable Targets, there are certain characters that are doomed to be mocked (and have a general negative characterization) just for their career choice. Please do not add particular cases to the examples listed here. Compare with Klingon Scientists Get No Respect.


Examples include:

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Since they're trained to defend anyone, even if their client is obviously guilty (or to prosecute anyone, even if the defendant is blatantly innocent), lawyers are often labelled as prolific, greedy liars who will find even the most vague of loopholes in the law to get a good verdict. While there are, of course, positive portrayals in media, such as Perry Mason, they are still normally villains by default, and the source of many morality-based jokes. See Evil Lawyer Joke. It also doesn't help that the media is full of Frivolous Lawsuit stories. Usually defense attorneys or corporate lawyers get the brunt of this, but even prosecutors and other less prominent examples will get this treatment, with the former often portrayed as zealots obsessed with "purging" all traces of criminality everywhere and the latter as literal Rules Lawyers. The fact that any evil lawyer defending a guilty client or prosecuting an innocent is always paired against another lawyer trying to do the inverse seems to go over everyone's heads. In real life, most of the "villainous" behaviors of lawyers are in fact fully justified, such as their being willing to defend anyone (a legal defense is a basic human right that everyone is entitled to, and in fact the goal of lawyers is to be an amoral Lawful Neutral Punch-Clock Hero / Punch-Clock Villain depending on who they are representing) and apparent money-grubbing behaviors (being a lawyer is expensive. Even if you ignore what they pay for legal school, a lawyer working on contingency is paying a lot of legal fees on your behalf and so, if he wins him taking a good 30% to 40% of your winnings is to cover that. If he loses, he's just out all the money and time he put in. Also, their refusal to give free legal advice is because, if they give you legal advice, you are now their client and they are now obligated to defend you).


  • Deconstructed in Back to the Future Part II: The ever-futuristic world of 2015 has all lawyers abolished. Seems like a joke on the profession... but Doc Brown noted that due to this, Marty's future children get long, long prison sentences for minor crimes.
  • Independence Day has an offhand mockery of the profession when David told a coworker that everyone close to them must escape New York City before the aliens attack. The coworker's response? "I better call my brother! I better call my housekeeper! I better call my lawyer!.... Nah, forget my lawyer!"
  • It was lost on very few viewers that the most ignominious death in Jurassic Park—the one involving the portapotty—was reserved for the lawyer. Who is referred to by Hammond as "the blood sucking lawyer".
  • Discworld:
    • The Nac Mac Feegle carry swords that glow in the presence of lawyers, much as elvish swords in The Lord of the Rings glow in the presence of orcs. Pictsies clearly consider them such Acceptable Targets that they craft weapons to hit said Targets with.
    • Mr. Slant, a centuries old Zombie who is undisputed Head of the Guild of Lawyers, is presented as the amoral type to whom the letter of the Law means everything and the spirit of the Law is mere circumstantial evidence. It is said his reason for coming back as a Zombie was so as to be able to claim outstanding fees from errant clients. He has been seen providing the legal groundwork for a coup d'etat, so as to ensure the takeover is legally unimpeachable; but capable of unhesitatingly switching sides to defend the status quo when the revolution fails.

Live-Action TV

  • Rumpole of the Bailey gives us everything from the nice ones (like Rumpole) to mercenary jerks.
    • Rumpole may be one of the nice ones, but he is often pretty underhanded. If he ever went on the prosecution, he would be a monster. Fortunately, Rumpole only defends.note 
  • Suits is a positive portrayal of lawyers and what they do. Or maybe it's not always so positive. The protagonists are lawyers and while the audience is presumably supposed to be on their side, they're not always nice (and they're certainly not always legally in the right; sometimes whether they're even morally in the right is questionable). Of course, the antagonists are often lawyers too, and to keep the audience's sympathy with the protagonists, their opponent will generally be depicted as an Amoral Attorney or at best as a Well-Intentioned Extremist. Louis Litt was an antagonist to start with, but later seasons have shown that he's not really a bad guy, he just cares more about the reputation of himself, his firm, and his profession than he cares about social niceties or politeness, so he's a bit of an ogre to anyone he thinks isn't performing up to an extremely high standard.
  • L.A. Law saw a similar distribution.
  • Averted when it comes to state prosecutors, which, thanks to shows like Law & Order, are practically seen as heroes.
    • Law & Order is often seen as the first subversion to an even older image. Perry Mason depicted poor, ineffectual Hamilton Burger who was a Punch-Clock Villain at best and a Smug Snake, always eager to send people to the gas chamber at absolute worst.
    • Most of the defense attorneys get a fair shake as well, because at worst they're seen doing their best for their client, and at best they can be seen objecting to overzealous prosecution or taking the case because they believe that some Constitutional rights (usually Free Speech) are being infringed upon.
  • Also averted in JAG, where the military lawyers are the really good and honorable guys.
    • However, NCIS played this trope majorly straight in season seven with M. Alison Hart, whom the fen nicknamed "Bitchy McLawyer" because her only real purpose on the show was to use her legal services to hinder the team's investigations wherever possible. And she had serious BST with Gibbs.
      • The depiction of lawyers in NCIS is even more funny, because usually, if a client goes so far as to request a lawyer's assistance against the very often unfair and unprofessional treatment by the agents, these lawyers are mostly ineffective, even though some try to depict traditional evil lawyers.
  • Averted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation pilot, which shows the After the End 21st century, where the society got rid of all lawyers. Of course, the so-called "court of facts" is, in fact, nothing more than a Kangaroo Court, where the accused are already assumed to be guilty and must prove their innocence with hard evidence.
    • Also, in Measure of a Man, Picard butts heads with a Starfleet JAG because he feels she showed excess zeal during his court martial. This largely amounts to being Picard's bias as she's shown to be perfectly reasonable during the proceedings against Data. (Although the Star Trek: The Lost Era novel The Buried Age shows that he was right about the court martial — it also has her superior at that court martial having to remind her that it's not the 20th century, and their goal is to find the truth, not win at all costs. Apparently, it's a lesson she's learnt since.)


  • "Jurassic Park" by Weird Al (parody of "MacArthur Park") has the lyric: "A huge tyrannosaurus ate our lawyer, well I suppose that proves they're really not all bad." Though Weird Al has stated it's left to the listener's interpretation whether it's the lawyer or the tyrannosaurus that's "not all bad."
  • 'Get Over It' by The Eagles has the lyric "Let's kill all the lawyers. Kill them tonight".
    • Which, of course, is a paraphrase of a quote from Henry VI by William Shakespeare.


  • The (in)famous "Let's kill all the lawyers." line from Henry VI, Part 2. Sometimes mistaken for a subversion — (the line is spoken by a follower of the unsympathetic rebel) — but is in fact the punchline of an extended joke about the "perfect" society: free food, free clothes, free beer, and NO LAWYERS!
    • Followed by a more sober reflection on the evils of law without conscience:
      "Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings: but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal once to a thing, and I was never mine own man since."

Video Games

  • Scribblenauts has this as an Easter Egg — in one later level, the player has to get a group of bad people into heaven. If the player uses the magnifying glass to identify which objects they are, they will find out that one of them is a lawyer.
  • The Ace Attorney series inverts this with prosecutors, who by and large care more about getting a guilty verdict and maintaining a perfect record than actually finding the guilty party. In "Justice for All", Phoenix considers all prosecutors to be this way without exception, and bitterly complains about how the prosecutors persist even though they know they're not in the right, making it more difficult for him to defend his clients. It helps that you play as the defense attorney, and your clients (except for Matt Engarde) are always innocent.
    • Though a lot of Phoenix's bad attitude towards prosecutors in the second game is related more to Edgeworth's disappearance at the end of the first game, which Phoenix considered a personal betrayal than any actual antagonism towards the profession. He doesn't express any such thoughts in the first game or the ones after Justice For All.
  • From the manual of Gateway II: Homeworld's "Legal Stuff" section (paraphrased, since the section says it mustn't be copied!)
    > We know the legal stuff below is unconscionable, but so are our lawyers.
    • The manual goes on to repeat the joke about New Jersey having more toxic waste than lawyers — because it got first choice.
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, crooked cop Tenpenny tells CJ to call 555-WETIP and frame someone for drug possession.
    CJ: Hey motherfucker, the code of the streets is that I don't snitch! I don't give a fuck if it kills you, me, my brother. Street cats don't call no cops!
    Tenpenny: Carl, he's a D.A.!
    CJ: ...yeah? Well, where I go find him?

Web Comics

Web Original

  • In "20 Haunting Halloween Facts" by Matthew Santoro, Matthew says that there are real-life vampires, who drink people's blood and claim to drain people's lives. He then says that they're better known by their day name of "lawyers".

Western Animation

  • In the The Simpsons "Marge in Chains", sleazy failure lawyer Lionel Hutz says "Can you imagine a world without lawyers?" The scene shifts into his imagination, which shows a peaceful utopia where peoples of all colors and cultures are holding hands and singing. Fade back to Hutz, who shudders in horror at the thought.
  • An episode of the short-lived Evil Con Carne (which originally aired alongside the much-better-known The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy) involved General Skarr being exposed to a devolving ray which causes him to change into many different animals, including a skunk (which he detests being called). Immediately after, he changes again and Hector exclaims, "No, he's worse than a dirty skunk! He's a lawyer!" and, indeed, he's now a lawyer with a suit and briefcase and everything.

Real Life

  • In Japan, the lawyers are okay, it's the judges who are demonized.
    • Which is why the judge from the aforementioned Ace Attorney games is portrayed as such a moron. And why the localisations play up the Cloud Cuckoo Lander aspects of the Judge to make him endearing instead of merely being senile. Judges tend to be well-respected in the west, unless they're obviously corrupt.
  • Dick Cheney has achieved what many Americans can only imagine: he shot a lawyer in the face with a shotgun, then got the lawyer to apologize. And he still doesn't smile!

    Finance positions 


If you see an accountant in fiction, chances are they're dull, boring, and completely structured, being unable to relax or think outside the box. Many a story begins with an accountant discontent with their career and wanting to break out of the humdrum of cubicle life. If male, they're prime fodder for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. It seems the only accounts who enjoy their jobs are the ones scheming with their employer to help circumvent income tax laws or cover up illegal financial activities. They may or may not also be predators looking for Nouveau Riche individuals who suddenly need to manage large amounts of money, or elderly estate-holders who might be less able to keep track of their assets, with the intent of funneling money from them. Closely related jobs are not exempt: Auditors and Tax Collectors are unnervingly strict, heartless and unforgiving. The reason this perception is so pervasive is because fiction writers are bound by their own biases; to someone who makes their living with their creativity, the idea of working in a cubicle crunching numbers all day would be a Fate Worse than Death.

Comic Books

  • An exception is Iceman, of all people. Despite being the team joker, he worked as an accountant between stints with the X-Men and the Defenders, and is the school math teacher.


  • Harold Crick in Stranger Than Fiction is a tax worker who is definitely dull, boring, and completely structured, but not heartless, and is in fact portrayed as a good man.
    • And his co-workers, while portrayed as kinda geeky, are a lot more lively than Harold, implying it's him, not the job.
  • Mr. Lau in The Dark Knight is the scheming sort of accountant, attempting to blackmail his employers.
    • One compelling reason he was "hired" was because he relocated all of the various mafia's money. He took it from their banks without their knowledge in anticipation of a police raid.
    • He is also banking on the fact that "Hong Kong would never extradite [a Chinese national]". Batman doesn't recognize national sovereignty and the hurdles of due process.
  • Leopold Bloom in The Producers musical and film was a textbook example of the dull, boring accountant as well as the scheming accountant (although for him it was more of a mathematical activity than anything else), but his time with Zero Mostel and/or Nathan Lane livened him up considerably. Which is understandable.
  • Shallow Grave: "David may be an accountant, but at least he tries". David's boringness is continually Lampshaded until David gets a whole lot less boring later on. In the words of his boss:
    Lumsden: Oh, it's unfashionable, I know, but yes, we're methodical, yes, we're diligent, yes, we're serious, and where's the crime in that? Why not shout it from the rooftops? Yes, maybe sometimes we're a wee bit boring, but by God we get the job done, and that's why I think you fit in here.
    David Stephens: I'm boring?
    Lumsden: You get the job done.
  • The "socially inept and unable to think outside the box" trope was heavily invoked on poor Louis in Ghostbusters (1984). He even threw a party at his apartment and invited only business contacts because he could write the chips and dip off as a business expense and was loudly explaining this to his guests as a sound tactic.
  • Subverted in the "Crimson Permanent Assurance" sketch from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, when a group of insurance accountants overthrow their masters and turn to piracy.
  • The Parole Officer is built around the protagonist trying to clear his name after he sees "a man strangle a human being — well, an accountant, anyway."


  • Dave Barry's Claw Your Way to the Top has a chapter called "How Finance Works." It begins with this warning:
    This stuff is deadly dull, as is illustrated by accountants. You never hear people say: "Let's have some fun tonight! Let's go find some accountants!" So unless you have no choice, you should skip this chapter. I myself am going to require powerful illegal stimulants to write it.
    • Also from Dave Barry: four portraits are shown with the caption "Which of these is the millionaire? Which is the accountant? Which is the jerk?" The answer is that Mr. B is all three: a millionaire accountant jerk. (It then goes on to state that the other three are slime, so perhaps accountants don't come off quite so bad here.)
  • One of the most despised and feared villains in the Discworld setting are the Auditors. They are essentially universal accountants tasked with keeping tabs on everything — and they would prefer to extinguish all life and random factors in the universe, because lifeless rocks tumbling around in predictable orbits are very tidy and manageable.

Live-Action TV

  • Monty Python has quite a few sketches including panicky, mousy chartered accountants. Perhaps best portrayed in the "Job Agency" sketch, where one initially wants to be a lion-tamer but, after finding out he was thinking of aardvarks, decides for something more tame... then decides "I'll think about it".
    Counsellor: Yes, but you see, Mr. Anchovy, your report here says that you are an extremely dull person. Our experts describe you as an appallingly dull fellow, unimaginative, timid, lacking in initiative, spineless, easily dominated, no sense of humour, tedious company and irrepressibly drab and awful. And whereas in most professions these would be considerable drawbacks, in chartered accountancy they're a positive boon.
  • Evan from Royal Pains is portrayed in lacking common sense, goofy, and annoying, and in fact loses all of HankMed's money at one point. But he's still a good accountant.
  • Ted from Queer as Folk. He is the most boring and uptight of the main characters, and also happens to be the oldest, if only by a few years. He is clearly unhappy, and tries out other jobs for a while (and also slipping into drug addiction, coming seriously close to destroying his whole life), before Brian asks him to come work for his new company, and after that he seems happy being Brian's accountant/personal advisor... thing.
  • In Parks and Recreation, Ben is an accountant, and is constantly made fun of for being nerdy and numbers-obsessed, though he's still generally personable and likeable. A running gag is that he repeatedly finds himself working at a local accounting firm and is, by far, the coolest guy there.


  • Subverted in Rhapsodies with Brian who, while certainly socially inept, is a manic force of nature.

Western Animation

  • Another exception is Don from Regular Show, who is friendly, charismatic, and eager to give everyone "sugar."
  • Cyril Figgis, the ISIS accountant and unlikely field agent in Archer. Awkward, rigid, and often Butt-Monkey for both enemies and colleagues. His smoothest infiltration was to introduce himself to a drug lord simply as The Accountant, suggest he was sent to audit the books, then imply that he could assist him in embezzling from his boss for a little bit of the action.
  • The Clock King from Batman: The Animated Series was a rigidly structured accountant. The one time he deviated from his set schedule, Disaster Dominoes ensued and he lost his business and gained a grudge.
  • In one VeggieTales Silly Song, Larry is waiting for Santa with cookies, only to be accosted on two separate occasions by a Viking and a bank robber who threaten to do what you'd expect. Larry implores them to relax a little and offers them a cookie "because it's Christmas!" When an IRS agent appears, he's barely begun his introduction when Larry slams the door in face. And smirks at the camera.


Bankers have always generally been portrayed as greedy and amoral, believing they can always get their way if they throw enough money at the problem (and it will rarely be their money they're throwing). The recent financial crisis has done little to improve their popularity. Typically, this mostly applies to higher-ups in the banking industry, while the local teller attending the slow-moving queue is generally closer to Service Sector Stereotypes.

Debt Collectors

Reputed for being rude, nasty, low life thugs who get their kicks out of bullying people who are suffering hard times. The fact that many of them throughout history have been corrupt and/or working in league with criminals doesn't help their reputation in the slightest. For more information, see the linked article.


  • An aversion is the Murakami short story "Super-Frog Saves Tokyo," where the main character is a debt collector, who is an average salaryman, and is a total badass because he's so very calm. Also, he helps the titular Super-Frog save Tokyo.

Fiscal Advisors

This is done very rarely because they allow to decrease debts, but some works outright like to mock them for helping corrupt people that deserve to pay high debts. Of course, in works where those people are mocked, the debt collectors are usually portrayed as sympathetic, hardworking, and fair men.


  • Frippouillard Et Compagnie is one of those films. It goes about a clothing store manager that hopes to have low debts, so he goes to a fiscal advisor. The fiscal advisor advises him to do all kinds of psychological tactics to manipulate the debt collector into decreasing the taxes. All those plans fail and the shop owner eventually has to give him 15 million Italian lira, but since the debt collector is such a friendly guy, he learns him how to gain some extra money in the casino.

Loan Sharks

Pretty much the same deal as the Evil Debt Collector above, except these guys don't give a damn about any laws, much less the FDCPA or other debt-collection laws in their general area. They will stop at nothing to shake you down for what they think they're owed, and they're not above some pretty heinous tactics, such as kidnapping or worse.

    Other office jobs 

Advertising Executives

If you work in advertising or marketing... kill yourself.
No, seriously. This is not a joke. You're thinking, there's gonna be a joke coming — there's no fucking joke coming. You are Satan's spawn, filling the world with bile and garbage. Kill yourself.

Live-Action TV


Real Life

  • Old joke among advertising execs: "Don't tell my mother I work in advertising, she thinks I play the piano in a brothel."
  • Advertisement and journalism, which are both under the social communication umbrella, are acceptable targets to each other: publicists are greedy and "sell lies", while journalists believe they're "selling the truth".


They practice one of the softest sciences and have the potential to be influential on a national scale, making scientists of every other discipline hate them. At the same time, non-professionals don't like them because economics is so tightly entwined with the very polarizing subject of politics.
  • It doesn't help their image that most of the field of economics is (perhaps rightly) seen as largely guesswork.
  • Even economists themselves acknowledge this negative view of their profession, calling their field of study "the dismal science".


Maybe it's because Writers Cannot Do Math or failed physics, but the stereotypical image of skinny men in elbow-length dress shirts, wearing thick-rimmed glasses and playing with a slide rule (think NASA engineers in the 60s-70s) seems to stick in people's minds. There are exceptions to this / the image is potentially being reversed, however.
  • Among physicists, engineers are treated as a bit of a dumb hick cousin. (Who admittedly can actually make something useful, but it's not brought up in polite company.)


Suits of all kinds can fit here, but the usual ones are working in a morally dubious industry (oil companies, cigarette companies, etc.). At best, they're portrayed as completely morally bankrupt.

Video Games

  • A rare, almost complete subversion is David Sarif from Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The man believes in the potential of humanity's advncement through cybernetic augmentation for the good of everyone, pays well, and after his firm suffers a major attack with several people killed, he tells his employees that he will personally talk to anyone who needs moral support; and while he does turn his chief of security into a Super Soldier without explicit consent, it's shown that Sarif thinks he's doing Adam Jensen, the protagonist, a favour. PLUS all this happens in a Cyberpunk setting, the most unlikely of places possible.

Managers and their close cousins Consultants

The former are depicted as talentless meddlers that are to blame for everything that happens in any company. They may even be the Pointy-Haired Boss. The latter are usually scammers that get paid loads of money without doing any actual work.

Live-Action TV

  • Hou$e of Lie$ is about a group of consultants with only one goal in mind when they work with clients: convince the clients that they absolutely need them, no matter the cost.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events has the villain, Count Olaf do "the odd bit of consultant work," as a means to get money. He uses his skills as a consultant to trick Mr. Poe into handing the Baudelaire children over to him. When informed of this, Gustav's response is
    Gustav: A consultant? Why would anybody ever listen to a consultant?

Newspaper Comics

Real Estate Agents

Their job is to sell property, no matter how run-down or decrepit that property is, so naturally, they'll be accused of being liars in the media. It doesn't help that, in the UK at least, they are almost completely unregulated, and any crook can become one. A consumer watchdog set up an estate agency in central London with £143 and some fake properties and THAT WAS IT. In the US, it's far more heavily regulated, but there are plenty who seriously test those rules. While there are lots of honest agents who obey both the letter and spirit of the law, there are plenty of sleazeballs who will do just about anything that they think they can get away with just to get some extra cash in their pocket.


  • In The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, the thought waves projected by the Alligatron, an avocado-based supercomputer, is all that prevents alien thought forms from taking over all licensed real-estate brokers in the United States. In the end, the Alligatron gets eaten by a gorilla, and when the protagonist points out what this means about every licensed realtor in America, the response is, "I suppose we'll just have to live with it."

Live Action Television

  • On The Closer, when Brenda and Fritz want to sell Brenda's house and buy a new one together, they enlist the very sleazy and annoying estate agent Gary. While it's never specifically stated that he's crooked or dishonest, his Catchphrase is, after all, "Gary doesn't lie!"

Western Animation

The HR Department

Truth in Television - HR are responsible for vetting job applications, usually without any knowledge of what skills are needed to do that job. So they tend to be responsible for stopping you from getting a job you could do in your sleep, hiring obvious morons, or firing the best worker in the department for some imaginary infraction. And they're never on your side; any offer they make to help you is all just to make corporate happy about being covered against lawsuits and potentially finding a way to drop some cubiclelander who isn't thrilled about being crammed into a chair for eight hours a day to do pointless work for insulting pay while surrounded by assholes. An observation runs "People who can do the job, do the job. People who are otherwise unemployable end up working in Human Resources."


Paradoxically, this group is highly inclusive (in that it accepts people of any race, creed, gender, etc.) while it is still portrayed as being somewhat elitist ("If you're not in sales, you're in overhead"). The basic stereotype assumes that every member of this department will try to sell their company's product or service to anyone, regardless of whether or not the client-to-be has any need for the product (such as the proverbial "selling a refrigerator to Eskimos") and will not take "No" for an answer. As far as everyone else is concerned, the sales department is a den of iniquity staffed with inveterate liars with absolutely zero integrity who will say anything to anyone if they think it'll get them a sale, and no matter how many lies they tell and how many impossible promises they make, the only way that they'll have to face actual consequences instead of getting a slap on the wrist or being able to throw someone else under the bus is if they do something that could potentially get the company sued.


While they tend to receive a generally positive portrayal, they are one of the first stops when choosing to a pretentious, artsy professional; the opposite of the stereotypical engineer, in essence.

Graphic Designers

Pretty much the same boat as architects, with the occasional added conviction that it's "not a real job". If male, often portrayed by the US media as obnoxiously Camp Gay, and by the UK media as geeks.

People with mundane desk jobs

At best, they're seen as restless and wanting more out of life. At worst, they're seen as vapid, mindless pod people or useless lazy paper-pushers who get paid far too much to sit around browsing YouTube and watching porn, and if they have ambition, they will be self-absorbed ladder climbers who will gleefully stab people in the back and use their hard work for their own gain before throwing them under the bus.

    Manual Labor Jobs (Blue-collar) 


With the exception of Mario (whose profession is rarely mentioned), plumbers in media are dumb rednecks with poor hygiene. Who have never heard of a belt... or long shirts.
  • Or/and are like other tradesmen (electricians, builders... ) portrayed as rip-off merchants always willing to overcharge or use delaying tactics ("Oh, we haven't got that part in stock, it will take a few days") to bump up the costs if they are being paid by the hour. Not to mention to charge an arm and a leg for what looks like a very simple repair.
  • Or frequently have Cheating with the Milkman-type affairs with their clients' wives.
  • In the Swedish movie Drömkåken ("The Dream House"), the protagonist is at one point bullied by a whole crew of craftsmen who insult him, tear out a large part of the floor, and spend their worktime (which they expect to be paid for by the hour) talking on the phone. When the protagonist mentions that he may have difficulties paying for everything due to losing his job, they immediately walk out... and stick him with the bill for their unfinished work. He later fixes up the whole house (including the busted floor) with only some help and motivation from a friend, implying that the craftsmen were deliberately exaggerating the situation.
  • Two auto mechanics try to stiff Stanley in The Mask, making him sign an unpriced bill and making a bet on whether they can trick him into paying for an imaginary engine part while he's in earshot. They later get their humiliating comeuppance by the Mask. (A similar situation appears in the original, much more violent comic, although the mechanics ended up brutally killed instead.)

Truck Drivers

Often portrayed as unintelligent, crude, and untrustworthy. Occasionally, they are also perverts and/or womanizers. When they're not perverts, they only have paid sex, having a family or not.

Construction Workers

Like plumbers, portrayed as ignorant idiots with the added aspect of wolf whistling, catcalling, and making lewd sexual comments towards vulnerable or shy women in the street below where they are working on scaffolding where they are out of the way of any repercussions.

Live-Action TV

  • Parodied on Harry and Paul with the posh scaffolders who act like this only when an attractive woman walks by harassing her, but when alone have erudite conversations about things like Shakespeare or other 'posh' subjects.


Contractors are often portrayed as lazy stick-in-the-muds who charge exorbitant amounts of money for work that is shoddy at best.


Within construction, roofers and roofing companies are both typically at the bottom of the totem pole. Roofers are typically viewed as sketchy, substance-addled Lower Class Louts who are almost always fucked up on any number of hard drugs on the jobsite and are the most likely culprits whenever someone creates an extreme safety hazard or causes an accident (often when they dump construction waste off of a roof) or when a trailer or van gets burgled or someone's tools go missing. Roofing companies, meanwhile, are viewed as the quintessential Crooked Contractors, usually showing up with a crew of independent contractors (to get out of paying benefits and try and weasel out of worker's comp) and having broken or shoddy equipment across the board with no fall protection and dangerous modifications, who more likely than not operate as fly-by-night operations who will flee town, dissolve, lay low, and then reform as a new entity whenever you go to sue them for something they did (or when a regulatory agency goes after them).

    Service and retail industry 

Fast-Food Chain Workers

At least in the United States, anybody who works at McDonald's, Burger King, or some other fast-food chain is destined to be illiterate, unintelligent, and/or a stoner. "Flipping burgers at McDonald's for minimum wage" is used as a cautionary tale of what might happen if one doesn't at least finish high-school. Also, it is frowned upon to date someone who holds this type of job.


  • In Jonathan Larson's autobiographical musical "Tick, Tick, Boom!" there's a song where Jon remembers the people who, over the years, have sneered "This is why you're just a waiter," at him after he messes up their order. This to a man whose first completed musical won a Pulitzer Prize, whose very name invokes What Could Have Been in the musical theater community.

Retail Workers

They suffer a lot, but to a lesser extent than workers of the fast food outlets. Depending on the type of retail, they are either respectable people or are illiterate illegal immigrants and mentally disabled who'll never get anywhere in life.
  • To many, Managers of Retail Stores and fast food chains. Horror stories of managers and bosses exploiting people such as forcing people to clock out, then clock back in for another consecutive shift without getting a break or forcing others to come in on their one day off to cover for an absentee worker, sexually extorting employees via threats of dismissal or (for illegal immigrants) deportation, or firing good workers to avoid having to pay for benefits abound, making this somewhat justified...even if a bit cruel since not every manager or boss is like that.
  • Convenience Store Clerks usually end up getting the worst sides of both general retail and fast-food as well as frequently dealing with people in a rush. However, it's common that they don't have the luxury of passing the customer off on a manager, nor the authority to bend/break rules in the customer's favor, as they're usually the only one there. If that convenience store also sells gas (especially in the U.S.) then they also become the sole human face for the entire oil industry, thus having the pleasure of dealing with every customer that has an axe to grind over the cost of fuel.

Comic Books

  • Retail: How retail workers deal with being acceptable targets is a major recurring theme in the strip (the characters all work at a department store, and at one point a few of them take a second job at a convenience store, too).

Used Car Salesmen

Chronic rip-off merchants.


  • In Good Omens telemarketers are portrayed as actively enjoying calling people in uncomfortable situations, such as in the middle of a bath, and even holding competitions over it. One telemarketer reaches Crowley’s answering machine, where he’d just trapped Hastur, causing her entire office to be skeletonized by a swarm of demonic maggots. Which the Narrator says is demonstrative of the self-defeating nature of evil, as preventing an untold number of people from being bothered by Telemarketers has basically spread a wave of low-grade goodness over the world. Unfortunately, their deaths are retconned away by Adam canceling the Apocalypse.

Web Comics

Comic book/card shop owners

They're Always Male, fat, slovenly, socially inept Insufferable Geniuses who are invariably rude to those who don't take geekdom as Serious Business... and even those who do. And then there's also the permanent virginity thing.

Live-Action TV

  • Partially averted with Stuart from The Big Bang Theory. He's initially presented as reasonably successful and functional small business owner who Penny briefly dates. As the series goes on, however, his characterization becomes increasingly extreme and unpleasant, until he's portrayed a broke, chronically depressed loser who can't get a date to save his life.
  • Averted with Michael from Queer as Folk. He is kind of shy and awkward at times, but otherwise very nice, cute and generally likeable. Of course, that doesn't stop Brian from making fun of his comic book addiction.

Western Animation

  • Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. Not entirely unexpected exactly.

Hotel employees

Front desk employees are, at best, bored teenagers who will probably fuck something up, and middlemen setting you up as a mark to be robbed at worst. The bellhops do not know the meaning of Unwanted Assistance and may or may not steal something, housekeeping and security are both prone to ignoring the "Do Not Disturb" placard and barging in for something completely needless (and the housekeeping very well may just steal from you as well), and the management is inevitably going to be absolutely useless and will probably try and rip you off.

Security guards

Usually portrayed as fat, bumbling, incredibly stupid losers who desperately want to be real cops but have absolutely no hope of ever getting into police academy, so they just act like power-tripping assholes instead. Their qualifications are little more than being tall, heavy-looking and occasionally belonging to an ethnic group that's reputed for being tough. Expect greatly overblown reactions to just about everything and completely uncalled-for rudeness. Particularly unpleasant examples frequently add in hefty doses of racism, as well as incredibly creepy behavior around women. Frequently given the Red Shirt treatment, which is rarely, if ever, considered a karmic strike against their killers (e.g. if the protagonists are sympathetic bank robbers, they can kill numerous bank guards in highly-dubious "self-defense" and somehow still be treated sympathetically by the plot).

Comic Books

  • One comic-book tie-in to The Matrix involved, uh, bumbling, incredibly stupid loser who desperately wants to be a real cop of a Bluepill security guard... except it was all Played for Drama: in his desire to be a real cop, he rushed to break up a fight between a Redpill and an Agent he was an accidental witness to, and the fight being way above his head, he got pointlessly killed for it.



Frequently portrayed as dimwitted, thuggish assholes who refuse to let people in for absolutely no reason whatsoever and who seem to be concerned with starting fights instead of preventing them just so they can have an excuse to beat someone half to death. Also expect them to randomly harass rule-abiding patrons minding their own business, leer at and sexually harass women, and ignore bad situations that are unfolding until they've grown out of control, which always results in someone getting seriously hurt. Particularly unsympathetic examples are frequently drugged-out, racist, or on the take from various criminal organizations, if not outright part of them. If there are good, honest bouncers working at an establishment as well, you can expect the bad ones to try and either corrupt them or force them out if they won't bend.

    Entertainment, Art, Sports and Mass Media 

Actors & Actresses, as well as any other kind of celebrity

Always shown as living by Screw the Rules, I Have Money!, also hated for having nearly every aspect of their life. Often shown as being a complete doofus subject to Manipulative Editing and being targeted by "Sleazy Tabloids". (examples: Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Jade Goody, at least before she died of cancer)
  • Celebrities are often hated for their tendency to choke news networks upon deaths. Michael Jackson and OJ Simpson, for example, developed hatedoms merely because people were so sick of turning on the TV and finding nothing but more news on their death or trial.
    • They're also hated by people who lost loved ones to similar causes that weren't taken seriously because no-one famous had died from it yet.
  • And then there are the actors/actresses that aren't famous. When they aren't portrayed like wanna-be celebrities Waiting for a Break, they're usually shown as Starving Artists and weirdos that can break into random monologue at any moment.
  • In Renaissance Times, acting, at worst, was a step or two above prostitution. This view even persisted from the 1600s up until the late 19th-early 20th century, generally due to the Puritans and their views of anything filled with frivolity and fun, or which glamorized dishonesty (since pretending to be someone else, or telling fictional stories, is a form of lying) as a horrible sin. This idea had consequences ranging from the banning of Maypoles and other light-hearted festivals to the picketing and boycotting of theaters and the refusal by English rulers to authorize or endorse playwrights.
    • This also carried on across the pond thanks to the belief in the American dream and "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps", and the fact that being paid to act, dance, and sing not only appeared like laziness but was generally not a very good way of making a living (see the Starving Artist). This view showed up a great deal in literature of the time; prominent examples would be Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie and Paul Laurence Dunbar's The Sport of the Gods, as well as the Willa Cather short story, "A Gold Slipper".
  • In Stephen Sondheim's musicalization of The Frogs, the opening "Invocation" addresses the gods as "You who look down on actors (and who doesn't?)"
  • Many seem incapable of forming a loving long-term relationship and just marry whomever's young, hot and available. If the relationship hits a snag, they'll just trade their spouse for someone better.
  • There's been a rising trend in the number of male celebrities from the 1970s who have been exposed or at least accused of sexual abuse. Ricky Gervais once joked that anyone on TV in the 70s should just save the police the effort and turn themselves in.


Mainly of the screen-painting or sculpting kind, are usually viewed by people as spaced-out loons, obnoxious egomaniacs or lazy people who can't get better jobs for a living, despite most of these (especially sculptors) give months of their hard work into a single picture.
  • Modern abstract artists of the Tracey Emin or Damien Hirst type come in for a lot of derision and ridicule. Tracey Emin is best known for entering a representation of her unmade bed and personal living space into an exhibition as a "statement", and her rather abrasive, confrontational personality has attracted parody and sly sniggering. Damien Hirst's best-known work is a laterally dissected dead cow in a tank of formaldehyde. A regular cartoon strip in Private Eye is called "Young British Artists" and mercilessly pillories the attitudes and output of these Young Turks.
    • The art-collectors who esteem this sort of work and pay eye-watering sums for it also come in for flak. Charles Saatchi, a champion of Hirst and Emin, attracted a lot of laughter when he bought Marc Quinn's self-portrait bust, cast in his own blood, only to lose it when a cleaner unplugged the freezer that was keeping the precious work frozen, in order to plug in her hoover. The blood statue defrosted and melted. When the warehouse, in which Saatchi was storing his treasures of Modern British Art, caught fire and burnt down, the general opinion was that the quality of British art had leapt upwards overnight.
    • Not that the dead artists don't have any haters. Living musicians also have their share of hatedom, see the Actors & Actresses section below.
  • Animators get it pretty bad too thanks to the Animation Age Ghetto. People tend to view them as Man Children because they work on shows and movies for little kids while most normal people would've outgrown liking that stuff by now. Like the artist they can spend countless hours of work for only a couple of minutes of animation yet most of the public at large assumes that "drawing cartoons" is something a kid can do. There's also elements of the Basement-Dweller since an animator could spend days working at his station without seeing sunlight as well as sharing similar nerdy tendencies.
    • If you're an overseas animator, chances are you'll be seen as a technically proficient yet creatively void worker drone who's only purpose is to mimic the style of the show you're commissioned to work on. There's a reason why US animation studios send all their inbetweening work overseas.
    • Logo animators avert this, since its in general considered to be important for business to make a logo. Not to mention all the social contacts you have with that business. In general most animators can detract people by mentioning all the company logo's they created.


Writers also get their share of ridicule. Unless you're a million-selling hit, good luck finding respect from the masses. Even worse if you're an aspiring writer, as the fact that you're not even published is taken as a sign, in and of itself, that your work must suck (never mind that even good novels can take YEARS to get published for a variety of reasons having little to nothing to do with the work itself). It's very common for aspiring writers to be told to give up their silly "hobby" and get a "real job."
  • Writers have the additional handicap of working in a medium which does not produce fast reactions in the way that music or paintings do. It's more difficult to convince a naysayer to take the time and effort to read your work as opposed to looking at a picture or listening to a few minutes of music.
  • It's even worse if you are self-published as many people will assume that your work was too poor to get published by a company and you have to sell it on Amazon. Never mind that sending in a manuscript means that you could be waiting months or even a year for a response that may be a rejection and self-publishing guarantees a substantially greater sum of royalties (70% compared to 15%). This stereotype is still persisting despite best-selling authors like John Locke and Hugh Howey (Whose series is being turned into a film by Ridley Scott) and published authors who have made more online than through print.
    • "I've got a terrific idea for a book. I'll tell it to you, you write it, and we'll split the money!"

Ballet dancers

Male ballet dancers are almost always presented as Camp Gay or Camp Straight. Never mind that ballet is one of the most intense physical workouts the human body can experience, these guys are wusses. The trend toward Real Men Wear Pink portrayals acknowledges that the average male dancer is strong enough to lift adult women (his dance partners) over his head all day long and will crush your fingers in a firm handshake using his own, moisturized, silky-smooth hands if you decide to mock him or his profession.

Ballerinas don't get off much better. Often the chain-smoking epitome of Beauty Is Bad, Lean and Mean, or the French Jerk (even though she's frequently Russian). The requisite dainty figure and young retirement age also seems to imply that even the most serious performer is just the plaything of fetishistic men (and only men; female creepy "admirers" get a pass no matter what).


  • In Black Swan, Nina, a ballet dancer, is obsessive and repressed and eats very little to keep a slim figure. The only other dancers focused on are Lily, who might be trying to steal Nina's role, Beth, whose early retirement left her bitter, and Veronica, who is only a minor character but is very bitchy. Lily smokes as well.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons:
    • In one episode, Lisa joins a ballet club, and discovers all the dancers smoke to keep slender and de-stress from the intensity of ballet.
    • An even earlier episode was about Bart studying ballet because all of the other extracurricular activities were taken, and the bullying and abuse he took for taking such a "sissy" activity.

Talent Agents & Managers

A writer, artist, musician etc can have all the talent in the world, but they won't find huge success if they cannot show the world that talent- and convince entertainment executives to hire them, put them on stage or screen, and pay them a fat stack of cash for their work. Unfortunately this work requires a very different skillset from that of writing novels, painting on canvas or writing the perfect pop song. Enter the talent agent- the person whose very job it is to be attention-seeking, ass-kissing and money-grubbing, and who does all of this so you don't have to. For a hefty fee, of course. Expect the talent agent in fiction to be brashly confident, ruthless, insincerely polite and friendly towards those they need to impress, and an abrasive jerkass towards absolutely everyone else. They tend to be only interested in money, with no real appreciation for the art produced by their clients. Despite their insincerity, they may be brutally honest to their clients when required, but not to the point that their client might take offence and take their money elsewhere.

Live-Action TV

  • Frasier Crane's agent Bebe Glazer. Cut-throat, rude, tenacious, and utterly morally bankrupt:
    "Lady Macbeth without the sincerity"- Niles Crane
  • The Larry Sanders Show: Larry's longtime agent Leo is kind, genuine, mild-mannered and loyal... and obviously not cut out to be an agent. Enter his replacement Stevie Grant- sleazy, obnoxious, money-grubbing, utterly ruthless- everything an agent should be. He is also dangerously disloyal, but that's just agents for you.
  • Toast of London: When Stephen Toast's agent Jane Plough hears of another actor's sudden death, her immediate reaction is to put Toast forward for the role he was playing at the time.

Western Animation

  • BoJack Horseman: All of the Hollywood agents, with Vanessa Gekko probably being the most ruthless of all. This trope is Zig-Zagged with BoJack's agent Princess Carolyn, who is shown to aggressively pursue new clients and deals, but is also portrayed as a bit more human than the rest (despite Vanessa Gekko actually being a human, and Princess Carolyn being a cat).


Authors don't particularly like being criticized — and chances are, if you enjoy the work in which they are portrayed, you'll probably dislike its critics too.

  • There's been a rising trend in the number of comedians who refuse to accept any negative criticism, often blaming it on Political Correctness (if they're male), sexism (if they're female) or shoddy journalism (either gender).
    • The 2007 documentary Heckler was produced by comedian Jamie Kennedy as retaliation for all the negative reviews and heckles he kept receiving. It gained notoriety for showing that maybe his designated villains had a point. In the doco's defense, there were several interviews with entertainers who were much more professional in their response to negative feedback.
    • (Semi) Parodied by Tim Minchin with his "Song for Phil Daoust".
  • Chicago's Critics Choice.

Network executives

Whenever something is potholed on Executive Meddling, there is a high chance that it's said in a bad way: people obsessed with Ratings and cost over the real quality of a show, who think Viewers Are Morons, Macekre and Bowdlerise imported anime, etc. The Protection from Editors page gives them some vindication.

Sometimes they also tend to be portrayed as corrupt businessmen that are paid to brainwash the masses with all kinds of pro-governmental propaganda. This portrayal is often seen in... political propaganda works.

Reality TV showrunners

Creators of Reality TV (or human interest shows) are rarely ever portrayed positively in fiction, even at the height of their popularity. Often they are considered to be sociopaths that love exploiting the pain and suffering of others to attract sensation, extremely abusive with no respect whatsoever for the man that becomes the subject of their show, narcissistic and very condemning towards anyone that is not "normal" enough (whatever the last term means). It is telling that the most critically acclaimed Flemish program ever (In de gloria) is all about laughing with those people.


As discussed at the trope entry, Monster Clown is about the only clown portrayal that exists in fiction these days, aside from the occasional case of the clown who Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight or the clown as the Corrupt Corporate Executive responsible for corrupting the circus they are working on and turning it into something morally reprehensible (animal abuse and drug stories abound), which isn't much better. While the basis for Real Life mime dislike is their being annoying, clowns have the baggage of more ostentatious appearances and criminals (i.e., murderers, pedophiles) like John Wayne Gacy. On top of this, they're not seen as particularly talented performers even in non-evil portrayals (i.e., the obnoxious birthday party clown). The fact that circus, the medium in which most of the best and often non-stereotypical Real Life clowns work, is not as popular as it once was doesn't help.

Journalists (aka, Newshounds)

Shown as always getting in the way of things. Also shown as being bought easily to slant the news, and writing biased news that covers up the truth. Any gossip journalism gets this double, and quintuple for any tabloid or magazine journalist. Add in some inaccuracies and you'll get loads of Face Palming.

  • e-Journalists (ie, bloggers and people who post stories on the internet) are often called "slackers". Yeah, anyone can have a blog, except not everyone's as willing to devote as much time to their blog as professionals do. (ie, most bloggers won't interview people, they won't go out of their way to do the research whereas most blogs about other gossip is a mere response or chain-linking)
  • Since the 2011 News International "phone hacking" scandal broke, revealing evidence of widespread unethical activity on the part of certain areas of the tabloid press — including hacking people's phone messages, in too many cases for no other reason than to find tawdry gossip (although one example involved the case of a missing teenager whose phone was hacked and messages deleted to try and prompt more information, giving her family reason to hope that she was still alive which turned out to be cruelly unfounded) and bribing members of the police to look the other way — the general reputation of journalists and tabloid journalists especially has sunk to new lows.
  • Let's not forget that in the US, most established journalists are viewed as little more than glorified stenographers
  • A 2017 poll found that Donald Trump had a 42% approval rating (an all time low for a U.S. President in his first 100 days) and Congress had a 14% approval rating (Nothing new. Americans tend to hate everyone in Congress that their state didn't send). Journalists as a whole, have a 9% approval rating.

Live-Action TV

  • In Community, Annie has stated her reason for being on the school newspaper is to mitigate the fallout to a previous drug addiction.
    Annie: No one will think about my time in rehab if they think I'm a writer!


  • In Harry Potter, the Daily Prophet shows its politics leanings more and more as the books go on. Rita Skeeter, of Witch Weekly, in particular is painted as an opportunistic, lie-mongering, petty-minded, foul little woman who'll publish anything to make it sell, and who illegally mastered an insanely dangerous and powerful technique, just to spy and get the best "scoop."


Nobody likes a mime. Writers are no exception. They, however, have a power that other law-abiding citizens do not: to inflict untold horrors and revenges upon those who would pretend to be trapped in an invisible box, walk against the wind or otherwise mutely annoy countless passers-by (within the realm of fiction, of course). No wonder there's a trope called Every One Hates Mimes.


  • Discworld Lord Vetinari, Chessmaster par excellence, the completely ruthless ruler of Ankh-Morpork, only has two emotional anchors to the world: Love for a small terrier named Wuffles, and a deep hatred of mimes. note  Vetinari lets anyone who doesn't interfere with the smooth operation of the city go about his/her business in peace, and has offered both the Thieves and Assassins to go legit, but push your hands against an invisible box and you will spend the rest of your life chained upside-down to a dungeon wall.
    • With the phrase "learn the words" on the wall in front of them.

Live-Action TV

  • Averted by Pushing Daisies when the team run into a mime. He initially attempts to describe his own murder through pure mime, but is told not to, quickly complies, and isn't portrayed as very annoying at all. In fact, Chuck asks "can you do trapped in a glass box, because I love that."

Newspaper Comics

  • The Far Side: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around, and it hits a mime, does anybody care?"

Video Games

  • In Gabriel Knight, there's a mime harassing people in a park. Gabriel can punch in the face and have a police officer chase after him.

Western Animation

  • The Powerpuff Girls had one episode in which a clown doused in bleach became a mime and turned the entire world monochrome. When the world and the clown were both re-colored, the girls pummeled him anyway and sent him to prison.


Professional musicians are another category of artist that get this treatment. Unless you're a rock/pop/hip-hop/country star or a centuries-dead composer, the stereotype is that you're living in a box or your mom's house. Or a box in your mom's house.

Touring Musicians

  • Can go either way, but are often portrayed as drunken, obnoxious idiots who complain about anything and everything, treat fans like shit, act like divas and storm offstage over completely trivial matters, and inevitably vandalize hotel rooms and/or venue backstage areas. Expect serious delusions of grandeur and a pervasive rockstar mentality regardless of how big the band is, ESPECIALLY if they're slumming it in a run-down van that breaks down constantly.
    • Opera artists are a weird subset of this. It's not just the assumption of diva-dom, but the Brawn Hilda trope is so ubiquitous that the uninitiated often have the idea that a high BMI is somehow necessary for the voice. Not only this, but the fact that opera is expensive to create tends to erroneously lead people to bracket them under Rich Bitch tropes too (it's clear from the names of the tropes that most of these are targeted particularly at females.) And the fact that they're supposed to have excruciating, glass-shattering voices that they unleash at any opportunity.
    • Promoters get an even worse rap. Most cultural portrayals of them paint them as dishonest, exploitative sleazeballs who lie to agents and bands and promise impossible things, gather a ludicrous amount of high school bands full of kids who don't know any better to buy tickets at a huge cost and sell them just so they can do the promoting for them and help them make guarantees that they would have no hope of clearing otherwise, and once the night of the show comes, the promoter will invariably fail to do most of the things they said they would and will look at bands like they're out of their minds if questioned about those things. Also, if the show doesn't go as planned, you can expect the promoter and their associates to vanish with the money and suddenly be impossible to reach. Finally, if a promoter somehow is portrayed well, they will always be struggling to survive amidst all the sleazy, unfair tactic-using competition who stay in business just by fucking people over and always being able to avoid trouble.
  • Among actual touring musicians, you have tagalong merch attendants. No, not professionals who do it for a living - we're talking random friends or significant others of band members. Did someone leave the van unlocked in a bad area, wander off to go drinking with a dead phone, wind up stranded an hour away in the wrong direction after venturing off to get laid, drunkenly vomit all over the inside of the van, have drugs on them at the border, or give discounts or free shit to their buddies, someone willing to hand them weed, or someone they wanted to sleep with? If so, it's generally a safe bet that it was probably a temporary merch guy, and even if they don't do anything inordinately stupid, they probably still managed to piss the band off somehow and probably also helped sour relations with the member who suggested them or insisted that they were cool.
  • Also known to touring musicians are the dregs of the local openers. Virtually every act started out as a local and the vast majority of touring acts can name plenty of great locals that they love to share the stage with. We're not talking about those guys. We're talking about the stereotypical scumbag local: the one who takes too long to set up and soundcheck, complains loudly and obnoxiously about their timeslot and/or goes over and puts the entire show behind, leaves their shit all over the place when they break down after their set so that they can take off to the bar and get trashed, trashes other locals and has nothing to do with the local scene beyond what is necessary for personal gain, and generally acts like a hotshot jackass with a temporarily embarrassed millionaire mindset.
  • In bands there are two members who are joke magnets: the ever-neglected bassist, and the drummer, who is either a wild thing or a moron.


  • Viola Jokes practically consistute a genre in themselves.

Banjo Players

  • Usually shown as at worst creepy hillbillies, and at best semiliterate, dentally disadvantaged (Q: What has eighteen legs and three teeth? A: Nine banjo players), musically incompetent (Q: How can you tell when a banjo player is at the door? A: The knocking gets faster and fasterandfaster, they don't know when to come in, and they can't find the key), and possessing a repertoire of two songs, of which one is "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and the other is not.
  • While the Polka Dork is usually associated with the accordion, the banjo also counts, as shown by Garfield's owner Jon.


  • In many historical cultures, including the Medieval and Renaissance West, musicians were essentially viewed as a type of prostitute, similarly to actors. The major exception was for religious and ceremonial music, which were considered a totally separate medium from secular music. This attitude still exists in many highly conservative varieties of Islam.


See the article for more information.

Pro Bodybuilders

Often portrayed as grotesque freaks or meatheaded gymrats, often stereotyped as taking every drug under the sun and not actually being very fit (in reality top-tier bodybuilders often have a training schedule reaching up to 12 hours a day; (although not all of it is spent in the gym) sometimes on top of a regular job, not to mention they afford themselves very little luxuries in terms of food), at least not compared to 'real' athletes. Particularly unsympathetic examples will usually add in open homophobia and frighteningly violent mood swings due to heavy steroid usage.


  • The Planet Fitness commercials are ruthless in their portrayal of "lunks", or people that exhibit the stereotypical behaviors of gymrats. The commercials are meant to appeal to casual gym goers that are too "gymtimidated" by the environment of other gyms, while discouraging the "lunks" that make up said environments from visiting Planet Fitness. This is even carried over to the actual facilities, which have a "Lunk Alarm" installed to signal unwanted gym behavior, along with a general disdain for "lunks". This, among many other issues, has made Planet Fitness itself an acceptable target amongst gymrats.

Professional wrestlers

Granted, it's not often to their face (you try telling the 7'1", 300-lb guy who makes a living throwing people around an arena what you think of him), but it tends to often invoke Dumb Muscle tropes quite a bit. Especially from fans.


The bane of many a sports fan. When they just do their job of enforcing the rules, no problem, specially when the contestants are making things difficult. But if they influence the game result by doing the job wrong - missing illegal moves, wrongfully fouling legal moves, failing to punish Unnecessary Roughness while heavily punishing minor felonies - soon the ref (and his mother) will be the target of chants across the stadium. If it's a decisive game, fans will remember the blunder even more.


  • Kill the Umpire, a 1950 comedy about a former baseball player turned umpire.

Live-Action TV

  • HBO did in Brazil a show starring soccer referees. Its name? FDP, Portuguese for SOB.
  • Chespirito often made fun of football (soccer) referees in his many series. One notable instance in El Chapulín Colorado has the title character in a vostume party, grabbing the sign from a guy dressed as a blind beggar and putting it on a guy dressed as a football referee.



In general: drinking, womanizing troublemakers at best, rapists, pillagers and casual murderers at worst. Both can show up even in ostensibly sympathetic works.
  • Shellshocked Veterans: The traumatic flashbacks of said group are quite often played for laughs, at least if the conflict in question is sufficiently removed from living memory (a classical example being the Vietnam War). Try depicting the same thing occurring to soldiers returning from more recent wars under the context of comedy (think the 2003 Iraq War) and see what kind of response you'll get.
  • Even among the "how dare you criticize our troops" crowd, recruiters are, sometimes, free game.
  • Generally, the officers rather than the enlisted men or draftees are the true demons here. Draftees get the most sympathetic portrayals: Punch-Clock Villain at worst, but more often than not simply hapless dupes.
  • Drill Sergeants are usually treated as less than human machines made simply for demeaning and putting the trainees through hell.

Lieutenants and Ensigns

In military-themed works, as the most junior and inexperienced commissioned officers, lieutenants and ensigns tend to be a punchline. As they combine a level of command responsibility with a complete lack of experience, the best they can hope for is to be treated as puppies who might someday grow up to be someone useful if they listen to Sergeant Rock. At worst, "the most dangerous thing in the world is a lieutenant with a map and a compass" and shrugging your shoulders in confusion is referred to as "the ensign salute". This is normally Played for Laughs, though. Lieutenants' screwups actually getting people killed is rarer in fiction (though it happens), because that's more depressing than entertaining. Interestingly, being even younger than the average O-1 (who, being usually straight out of school, is about 21-22 years old) can take you out of the acceptable targets crosshair, likely due to your youth: Midshipmen and Cadets, particularly in the age of sail, are often young enough that they're basically Child Soldiers and so when something bad happens to them it's not funny, it's tragic.


  • In Starship Troopers, Rico is made a Third Lieutenant (a special rank only used during training) while he's going to officer candidate school; it's because he's not qualified as an actual officer yet but he isn't really an enlisted man either, and he has to fit into the rank structure somewhere. Rico himself says about the rank "If anybody ever saluted a Third Lieutenant, the light was bad."
  • In Honor Harrington Scotty Tremaine is introduced in the first book as well-meaning but generally clueless, and Petty Officer Horace Harkness is assigned to try to turn him into a respectable officer. The trope is then invoked and subverted by the pair once Scotty learns a few things; when searching merchant ships, they use Tremaine's apparent naiveté to lull dishonest spacers into a false sense of security and get Harkness, himself a former experienced smuggler, into position to detect and confiscate all sorts of contraband. Both eventually grow beyond these roles as the series wears on.

Intelligence Officers (better known as "spies")

If a character is employed by a three-letter agency like the CIA, NSA, DEA and FBI or a non-American equivalent (or a Government Agency of Fiction loosely inspired by portrayals of these agencies), you can bet that they will be spooky, powerful Men in Black who carry the characters' lives in their hands, usually not often for the best, with only the most benign examples being portrayed as Punch Clock Villains. In a serious historical or political drama, if not part of a Government Conspiracy, they may often simply be portrayed as overly gung ho or incompetent.

The staff of facilities for the commission of atrocity

No one is going to care if a camp guard in a Holocaust film dies, or a Gulag guard, or a minion in a Khmer Rouge-occupied police station. Doctors in said facilities are portrayed largely as Evilutionary Biologists.

Private Military Contractors

Portrayed as corrupt Sociopathic Soldiers in contrast to the traditions of standard armies, even The Evil Army. They also make perfect post-communism villains for avoiding the need to demonise a foreign country. Nice portrayals show violent, opportunistic drunkards with power fantasies, disregard for laws and ethics, and loose trigger fingers. They like to hang around at checkpoints and harass everyone for money, booze, or both. They're either people who can't function in regular society or are psychopathic manchildren from rich countries whose idea of a party is getting paid big bucks to terrorize poor people in wartorn lands just because they can and they're getting paid. Mean protrayals depict war criminals who actively seek out chances to kill and torture and get paid for it. They don't care who the employer is or who they're being set loose on, so long as the money keeps coming and they get to Rape, Pillage, and Burn.

    Public officials 

Government Employees in general

See "People With Mundane Desk Jobs" above, and add elements of "Politicians" and "Fast Food Workers", with both the obstructive variety and the dim witted variety unable to hold work in self sufficient enterprise (not to mention the ones that are obstructive by nature of their stupidity). Often seen as enforcing Political Correctness.

Animal Control

Nearly every family movie that stars any sort of runaway or street-dwelling critter will have these guys show up, as spoil-sport "stick-em in a net and haul them into a cage for detainment" obstacles-to-adventure at best (the animal version of hall monitors), and as psychopathic bastards that enjoy nothing more than torturing and cruelly killing cute, furry animals (animal version of State Sec) at worst. Typically, our plucky-pawed heroes make fools of the bumbling goons and escape. People who work at animal shelters in real-life are not amused (since most of them work there because they genuinely care for animals and try to get them off the street and into a good home), and even have to explain to people looking to adopt pets that they are not the villains the movies portray them to be.


Usually depicted as dull and unhelpful, demanding excessive amounts of paperwork to process even the simplest action.


We have a whole page for this, but to summarize: the stereotypical politician is inevitably corrupt, often an Obstructive Bureaucrat, and puts their re-election ahead of everything else. The stereotypical politician is willing to promise voters the moon, and then give them the shaft as soon as the election is over. The word "politician" even used to be an epithet!

Social Workers

Usually portrayed as lazy, heartless, stupid, and/or tied up by bureaucratic red tape (causing them to either ignore obvious problems or to insist on enforcing rules in petty and counterproductive ways). On many TV shows and movies, they are usually played by emotionally cold Black women who are plagued by a crappy childhood or a failed relationship. If a black woman is not available, the social worker from the Department of Child Disservices is played by well-meaning but overworked and overwhelmed, frumpy looking white guys.
  • The hospital social worker on Hawthorne. She's an overweight, frumpily dressed White woman (as compared to the hot looking nurses) who can't seem to do anything right or doesn't care enough about people to help. Then of course the title character (played by Jada Pinkett Smith) comes in and makes everything better.
  • Reba featured an especially loud, overweight black woman who publicly embarrassed her when she tried to stop them from giving her family food stamps.
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Past Tense", a two-part screed against the treatment of the unemployed and homeless. The Sanctuary District office workers trying to provide services to the residents have morale almost as low as the residents themselves. They're underpaid and underfunded, but even then they openly use Fantastic Slurs to describe the residents ("dims" for general population, "gimmies" for people who are looking for help and have actual marketable skills, "ghosts" for people who turned Gang Banger inside the District).

Health and Safety officers

Generally not shown that much in fiction (after all, No OSHA Compliance is the law of the land in fiction-land), but the prevailing stereotype of the EHS officer in construction and manufacturing is as follows: an Obstructive Bureaucrat who likes to play "safety cop" and ride people's asses about trivial matters or, worse, about things that are genuine safety issues that are unavoidable either due to the employer's continual failure to adequately address them, or because not ignoring them would lead to things being way behind schedule or production falling below goals, and generally does nothing other than get in the way and unduly interrupt workflow. Furthermore, they are generally viewed as management's compliance dogs, rather than actually making hard decisions when the interests of the workers and of management don't align - when their jobs are on the line, they will usually kowtow to management, then bark a big game about how the workers are their real boss, when they really don't care about anything other than their own self-interest. If anything serious does happen on their watch, they will usually do their best to dodge responsibility, usually by throwing the workers under the bus via a sham "investigation" that concludes that they were solely at fault for the incident that is then used to justify a for-cause termination.

    Law enforcement and emergency services 

Police Officers

In most people's eyes, cops only exist to give you traffic tickets, beat you to a bloody pulp, and/or take you to jail. However, when there are actual criminals to catch, they are suddenly nowhere to be seen. If you haven't actually done anything wrong, they'll find a reason to do one of those things, and due to several infamous incidents they're seen as having Hair Trigger Tempers, especially when it comes to dealing with members of minority groups. When they aren't, they're busy scarfing down donuts. That or they represent the threat of a potential future that few would like and are the clenched right fist of The Man.


Traffic Wardens

Read the article for info.

Traffic Cops

Smirking tools employed to boost the public coffers by handing out citations, who'll happily spend 45 minutes ticketing a sweet little old lady for her expired inspection tag before doing anything to stop the madman weaving through traffic at 90 miles an hour.

Airport Security

The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, is profoundly unpopular in the United States. Stereotypes run from mere annoyances (who can, at worst, slow you down and cause you to miss your plane) to sadistic fascists who enjoy stripping passengers of their shoes, possessions, and basic dignity. The security screeners who work out of sight may also be in the game, rifling through the passengers' luggage and taking items of value.

Firefighters and rescue services

Yes, even the occupations that include risking one's life on a daily basis to save other peoples' lives and, if possible, property — firemen, rescue service officers and the like — are not always immune. There is the trope of a firefighter (or somebody who aspires to be one) who himself starts fires in hopes that this will allow him to prove himself in action or out of a desire to feel needed. (Yes, these characters are usually male.) And specifically in the US, there's the whole FEMA conspiracy theory... In the US Fire Service in particular, Volunteer Firefighters (Volleys) have a reputation of being "fire-hobbyists" compared to members of career departments, this can be ascribed to generally more lax physical fitness standards and more informal command structures. In media depictions the characters in these departments often tend to be The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything or woefully unprepared for a real emergency.

Western Animation

  • The Bedrock Volunteer Fire Department in The Flintstones is essentially a bunch of guys who need an excuse to get away from their wives for one reason or another, and have in fact never encountered a fire due to the city being made entirely of stone. When summoned to what they believe is an actual house fire, the members respond with some combination of confusion and terror.
  • In King of the Hill, the boys join the Arlen Fire Department and while Hank takes the undertaking quite seriously, the other three spend most of the episode fooling around in the station and casually violating even the most basic fire prevention principles. They end up burning down the station.



Most portrayals of physicians are fairly positive; it's hard to get down on an occupation whose sole raison d'etre is healing the sick and alleviating suffering. However, when physicians go wrong, they go terribly wrong. Given the gravitas of the Hippocratic Oath, there's intense drama to be played out when a physician chooses to go against his code. It's still acceptable to portray a doctor as a complete quack, especially in a comedy. In dramatic works, expect a cold sociopath who sees patients as dollars or a collection of symptoms whose suffering is irrelevant.
  • A growing stereotype is that of the doctor who only cares about getting positive feedback from patients, even at the expense of the patients' actual health. Such doctors will casually prescribe unnecessary, addictive, or otherwise dangerous drugs at the patients' request, let impending health problems go untreated, and make sure only to tell the patients what they want to hear rather than give them advice on healthy living that might be seen as insulting. (Note that this may not be entirely the doctor's fault: many doctors these days have to answer to insurers, hospital administrators, the Joint Commission, and others in the Adminisphere, who hold them to strict metrics like Press-Ganey, HCAHPS, and patient satisfaction surveys. If they do not meet these metrics, or if they get a bad review on a site like Yelp from a patient who's irate because the doctor told them something they didn't want to hear, they can be penalized, up to and including being fired from the hospital or clinic where they work.)
  • On a related note, practitioners of alternative health care will often be portrayed as Granola Girl ditzes or knowingly malign peddlers of All-Natural Snake Oil in works which embrace Enlightenment on the Romanticism Versus Enlightenment conflict.
  • Another topic is the illegal organ trade.
  • Physicians who treat life-or-death cases are likely to be sued for malpractice when they fail to help a patient, even if there's nothing that could have been done. This means that they need extensive malpractice insurance, which invites accusations that they are incompetent or casual murderers. After all, why would a doctor insure himself against malpractice if he didn't plan on committing some?
  • What's the difference between a doctor and a lawyer? A lawyer will rob you; a doctor will rob you and kill you.
  • Among doctors and medical students, primary care doctors tend to be acceptable career targets, because they don't specialize, and they don't make as much money as specialists. (Which is one reason why there's a shortage of PCPs; so many medical students are choosing specialties instead.)
  • Subject to changes depending on geography. Countries with universal healthcare systems (i.e. where patients don't get billed for medical care) tend to have a more positive portrayal of doctors, due to the lack of any financial motive.
    • In those jurisdictions (particularly the UK and it's love/hate relationship with the NHS), they tend to get more rap over trying to be politicians (in trying to get more funding to the point of being completely obnoxious and with seemingly no regard for the millions of other things that the country-in-question's Treasury needs to find the funds for outside of Healthcare) or a bunch of Stop Having Fun Guy style killjoys who try to stop people doing anything remotely hazardous to your health.


Depending on the genre, any mental health professional in media will either be a sex-obsessed Cloud Cuckoo Lander with an Oedipus Complex, or the nay-sayer who gets The Cassandra committed to Bedlam House. Not to mention that all the times they would be truly needed, they don't exist at all. And of course, there's no difference at all between psychology and psychiatry. Often, the only psychiatry depicted will be electroshock therapy.
  • Oh, psychotherapy is a lot more sinister than that. After all, they're messing with your mind, maaan! The fact that a visit to Bedlam House invariably reduces the perfectly sane to gibbering catatonia goes to show how terrifyingly evil shrinks are.
  • And of course, you'll rarely see any that subscribe to the biological, cognitive or behavioral models of psychopathology.
  • Or prescribe any medication (since psychologists and psychiatrists are the same thing, and also because all of them are Freudians who want to talk about your neuroses for an hour while you lie on a couch). If they do, their patients will refuse to take it, which is depicted as being liberating instead of risky or dangerous.
  • Even sympathetic psychiatric workers will usually have the conflict of being the voice of wisdom and experience in the office while being plagued by personal issues they can't solve at home. Irony!
  • Another somewhat sympathetic portrayal will show them as futilely attempting to treat the Ax-Crazy villain of the work. Invariably, the villain will prove to be too evil to help, with the poor doctor unaware of this until he becomes the next victim. Expect at least one scene with the psychiatrist ineffectually begging his patient to step off the path of destruction he's following.
  • Not to mention the cliche where people with mental illness are portrayed as mildly eccentric goofballs who just need a person to listen to them and offer a kind word and helping hand rather than professional care or medication. This subtly implies that psychiatrists and psychologists do not listen and never, ever offer a kind word or helping hand. It also implies mental illness is not really a disease but a personality trait, which is a rather dangerous implication.

Comic Books

  • Raoul Cauvin's work Psy is a gag-a-day strip mocking with the profession of psychologists. While his other gag-a-day strips have also laughed with professions (such as is the case with gravediggers (Pierre Tombal) and cops (Agent 212)) they portray the characters that do that profession in a positive and sympathetic light. This is pretty much lacking in this work, since the main character is a workaholic freudworshipping asshole that even gets the most basic aspects of psychiatry wrong.


  • The protagonist of Crichton's Sphere is a psychologist, included in the underwater research team to keep an eye on the others. Even though he's the sanest of the crew and most aware of the situation, the other characters are not above jokes at his expense, such as accusing him of playing mental tricks on them.


Despite them being fairly important in preventing and treating certain types of cancer, few people will see past "a guy who sticks his fingers up people's asses for a living."
  • In some ways, proctologists are the new dentists.
  • Bowser & Blue have a comedy song that pokes gentle fun at the field. "We praise the colorectal surgeon, misunderstood and much-maligned, slaving away in the heart of darkness, working where the Sun don't shine."


Gynaecologists, like proctologists, professionally stick their fingers where other people don't, but with additional sex undertones. Male gynaecologists are often presented as Covert Perverts who secretly enjoy getting their figurative noses into the lady parts of many a young woman, or awkwardly but otherwise harmlessly enthusiastic. By contrast, female gynaecologists are rarely presented as any different to any other kind of doctor, apparently because it seems more "natural" for a woman to take an interest in women's problems.


  • In Kindergarten Cop, there's a child whose gimmick is to candidly recite a routine about basic sex education, who later turns out to be a gynaecologist's son. The implied joke is that the father is pretty open about the topic.
  • In one of Revenge of the Nerds sequels, one of the nerds of the first film is revealed to have become a gynaecologist. He declares it in a wink-wink-nod-nod way that makes it pretty obvious as to what motivates him.


  • One of Dean Koontz's novels has a secondary gynaecologist character. While he's lacking any major character flaws, he's not above cracking jokes about the patient's nethers to his anaesthesiologist partner.

Abortion Doctors

Portrayed very unsympathetically in most pro-life works, where they are cold-hearted amoral scientists, or worse.

Live-Action TV

  • In the Masters of Horror series, generally not written to evangelize, there are at least two episodes involving these. One depicts the crew of a women's health clinic as dedicated and professional. In the other, the reveal that a character's mother was an abortionist is played off as a part of her tale getting consecutively stripped of pleasant lies.

Western Animation

  • Averted in a South Park episode where Mr(s.) Garrison goes to an abortion clinic and describes getting an abortion in the crudest way possible (i.e. scrambling its brains and vaccuuming it out). A nurse overhears her and is visibly disturbed at Mr(s.) Garrison's callousness.


  • Portrayed as oversexed bimboes who spend more time flirting with doctors (or occasionally patients) than treating patients, and who weren't smart enough to make it through medical school and got Hired for Their Looks. (Which is, of course, not true at all; nurses work just as hard as doctors, arguably moreso, and nursing school is most assuredly not something that just anyone can do or is cut out for.) Because nursing is a primarily female-dominated profession, its portrayal frequently comes with a heaping helping of misogyny. Male nurses (if they're shown at all) are almost always portrayed as either gay, or using their profession to get with female nurses or patients. Female nurses still wear short white dresses and caps, occasionally with thigh-high stockings underneath, even though nurses haven't worn outfits like that for decades; in Real Life, both male and female nurses wear scrubs. (And actually, the "sexy nurse outfit" is something of a Dead Unicorn Trope; even when female nurses did wear dresses or skirts (up until about The '70s or so), the hems were never more than an inch or two above the knee, at the most. Nor did they show Absolute Cleavage.)

    Science and Education 


They are often evil, quixotic or clueless. They will more often than not lack basic social skills and common sense; the latter usually so the book-dumb hero can show them how intelligence isn't all about "book learnin'".
  • There's a joke that goes like this: A biologist is a chemist who can't do math, and a chemist is a 3rd-rate physicist. This is thanks to much bickering about the considered "purity" of each branch of the sciences, as summed up succinctly here.
  • Although geologists and certain physicists are no less involved, biologists tend to get the short end of the stick in Creationist fiction. This is probably because "evolution" is a handy catch-all term for the intended audience.
  • Marine biologists often find themselves the butt of jokes involving bestiality with fish, dolphins, seals, squid, or really Anything That Moves in the ocean.
  • All physicists ever do is nukes. Some of them may also develop God complexes or build other types of superweapons, but in the end, it all boils down to nukes.
  • Chemists are also seen as spouting Technobabble in the form of chemical nomenclature (under whose rules names of compounds can get long and messy). Chemists are also sometimes portrayed either as bomb-makers, as drug-makers, or as poisoners. If not, then they will usually have tendencies towards them, such as pyromania or toxomania. Chemistry is also seen as the science that is most harmful to the environment, and this coupled with some chemical disasters and the technobabble spouted by chemists has given rise to chemophobia, an irrational prejudice against "artificial" chemicals.
  • Biologists are often portrayed as purveyors of inhumane experiments on caged animals, captive humans, or any other unwitting subjects. In reality most countries severely restrict animal research, researchers are increasingly using alternatives such as cells grown in dishes, and research on humans is generally only permitted on volunteers who are of sound mind and able to give informed consent. Expect comparisons to Those Wacky Nazis.
  • Computer scientists have it bad as well, by virtue of computers being a stereotypical nerd interest since they first entered the public eye. Computer scientists (in the rare event they are actually called that) are either reclusive Basement Dwellers, Technobabble-spouting academics, or trapped in dead-end tech support jobs.
  • Mathematicians are the uber-nerds who even other nerds consider nerds. Physicists look up to them as folks who actually can do maths, but consider them a bit awkward and unsettling and with a tendency to nag them with silly-ass questions along the lines of "why only three spatial dimensions?". This is in spite of the fact that not all mathematics is pure mathematics, and a person with an applied math diploma is quite likely to end up in an extremely well-paid job, usually related to banking.
  • Skeptics/critical thinkers also get some flak, see The Scully for more details. Often portrayed as closed-minded and dogmatic jerks who are out to spoil the fun of believers and are almost always wrong in attempting to explain paranormal phenomena with natural explanations.


Despite being the reason for any profession's continuation. Parents are often blamed for a child's bad behavior, but if the child can barely count to ten on their fingers then it's all the teachers fault. Don't even start with the jokes involving sex or pedophilia. Despite Truth in Television and Real Life aspects, not all teachers enjoy, want, or desire extracurricular activities with their students, even if they are in the Hot for Teacher or Hot Librarian category. Other insults include becoming a teacher "for the great holidays" and nothing else, digs about the wages (most common in US based shows), and running the gamut from alcoholic to depressive to passive-aggressive to pleasant but useless. The reasoning behind teachers as acceptable targets could probably be put down to familiarity - almost everyone in countries where education is mandatory has met a teacher at some point. Not many of us can claim that a marine biologist was nasty to us, but most people had a teacher that they didn't like.
  • See also Sadist Teacher, for the teachers who use their positions to abuse students.
  • One popular insult aimed at teachers is "those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." Teachers of younger children get this particularly badly with comedians often cracking jokes such as "all you have to do is make stuff out of pasta". Tip: before making this comment, try teaching someone who doesn't know how to hold a pencil how to write. The fact that high school teachers are normally very well versed in their chosen field is normally dismissed, leading to characters who became teachers because "they weren't good at anything else".
  • Once someone is identified as a piano teacher, you know what will happen.
  • Daria shows several teacher stereotypes.
  • There also is the stereotype of drama, music or other fine arts teachers as being washed up performers who can't get work anywhere else (see The Steve Harvey Show). This can be Truth in Television. It may be easier to keep a job as a teacher (at least until recently) than to keep a job as an actor or artist.
  • Ironically, the last statement is subverted in the Futurama episode "300 Big Ones" which featured, of all things, a nasty marine biologist.


Pretty much an Always Female subset of the Sadist Teacher, with the added benefit of never actually helping or teaching anyone. Aside from looks of scorn, most will only get a trademark "SHHHHHHHHHH!" Outside their realm of power, they're depicted as lonely, bitter, anal-aggressive spinsters. This is somewhat amusing, as unless you're going to become an archivist or a cataloger, serving patrons is going to be the majority of what you do. However, as a contrast, there is the Hot Librarian.
  • Ms. Censordoll from Moral Orel is a text book example of this. Unlike most librarians, she actively embraces censoring books.
  • It's a Wonderful Life She's just about to close up the library!!! Oh yes, definitely the worst fate that could befall anyone.
  • Unshelved averts this trope, or rather uses stereotypes of librarians that librarians themselves use (aka Dewey the snarky and hip YA librarian, Mel the overworked and stressed out manager, Tamara the overly cheery children's librarian, the rarely-seen socially challenged and weird cataloger, etc). Colleen is the closest to the standard librarian stereotype, but she's portrayed as being largely a dinosaur in the modern world of librarianship. It also turns the tables in that most of the jokes make fun of library patrons. This may have something to do with the fact that the writer is himself a librarian.
  • Th mid-90s Parker Posey movie Party Girl portrays working in a library relatively accurately (even pointing out that not everyone who works in a library is a librarian—as with doctors, lawyers, and teachers, to be a librarian requires earning a professional degree, in library science in this case). It's therefore become a bit of a cult classic amongst librarians.

Home Education

Anyone who's trained at home via anything like correspondence courses will be at best depicted as incompetent at their profession and at worst outright moronic overall, often without a hint of joking. Though nowadays in real life home computers, the internet, and video streaming technology have made home schooling a valid and effective means of education (sometimes more effective than a classroom setting), this is never the case on the screen.
  • A Archie Comics issue had Jughead's cousin repair an air conditioner for Archie's family. As they're powering it on Jughead remarks his cousin knew what he was doing as he just finished his correspondence course in appliance repair. Cue Archie quipping "Correspondence course?! Now you tell me!" and the ac unit blowing the power for the whole neighborhood.
  • In the Futurama episode "Anthology Of Interest I" Dr. Zoidberg remarks he has mail-order degrees in "Murderology" and "Murderonomy" and sets out to solve the case. Needless to say it's Zoidberg and he doesn't accomplish much before being murdered himself.

    The Underworld 

Criminals in general

Break the law. Any law. It doesn't matter. Once you are arrested, expect No Sympathy. People will be happy to laugh at the prospect of your facing Prison Rape. Expect any complaints about cruel and inhuman punishment and sadistic prison staff to be ignored or just acknowledged with a "Well, maybe they shouldn't have broken the law". The Hanging Judge is sure that if you were arrested, then you are guilty. So are most people.

Live-Action TV

  • On rare occasion this is subverted, as in the prison drama Oz, in which even sociopathic killers, organized crime lords and Neo-Nazis are fully developed, sympathetic characters.

Video Games

Drug dealers

When you need a villain, look no further. All drug dealers are scum who cruise the playgrounds looking for kids (the younger the better) to sell dope to. If you need a Big Bad, just make him the leader of the gang. While all criminals get this treatment to a degree, drug dealers are considered especially heinous, in part due to the demonization they've received due to the American War on Drugs and countless education films. Other criminal professions may at least be portrayed somewhat sympathetically, but rarely in fiction will you find a sympathetic drug dealer. The horrific violence inflicted both on rival criminals and unaffiliated civilians by groups such as the Mexican and Colombian drug cartels in recent decades has also had a profound impact, and suffice to say, there is some Truth in Television to their negative portrayal.


Live-Action TV

  • The protagonists of Burn Notice always try to justify the things they do to people by explaining that they're criminals. Often they're talking about murderers and human traffickers, but sometimes it's just drug dealers.

Video Games

  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Grove Street Families, the gang that CJ is a part of, are vehemently against the use of hard drugs, though marijuana is apparently okay. Compared to the other gangs in the city besides the Varrios Los Aztecas, the Grove Street families are Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters. This also shows up during gameplay: crack dealers are a Piñata Enemy that drops $2,000 and a pistol when killed.
  • Agent 47 is assigned to assassinate his share of drug traffickers. Don Fernando Delgado is especially noted for the cocaine ring he's running in Chile, yet he has an impeccable reputation and the public has no idea he's using his vineyard to hide a cocaine operation. Agent 47 is also contracted to take out his son Manuel D. to make it appear a rival drug lord ordered the hit. The Delgado family storyline is continued in Hitman2 with Rico Delgado contracted for elimination; this time, a village is being tyranized by his cartels' presence making it feel like you're doing them a service eliminating the family leadership here, plus you can even make things poetic by sabotaging a vanity statue being presented to the town folk so it falls onto Rico.

Money Launderers

This usually implies criminal activity such as the afrementioned drug dealing, racketeering, arms trade, securities fraud, tax evasion and many more activities typically covered up through washing cash. Money launderers have earned their share of infamy and can pop up in any work about the the Underworld. Film
  • In The Wolf of Wall Street, A New York stockbroker recounts to the audience how he made his fortune through shady (and outright illegal) stock manipulations, and the hedonistic drug/sex-fueled lifestyle he built with that fortune. His downfall begins when he is investigated by the SEC and FBI, but he refuses to leave the life he has built. They use a drug dealer and a Swiss Bank Account to launder their illgotten windfall.

Live-Action Television

  • Walker, Texas Ranger has money laundering factor into cases on occasions. In one episode, "The Big Bingo Bamboozle", it appears that this trope will be Played Straight, but it is Subverted when it turns out a sweet senior lady is running bingo games that acts as a cover for money laundering taking place and she may not seem malicious. However, there is much more to her than meets the eye.

Women in the Sex Industry

Whether they're exotic dancers, adult models, porn actresses, or sex workers, women who make a living with their bodies are only treated sympathetically if they have some kind of circumstance putting them into that line of work, like a child to feed or college bills to pay. Women who actually enjoy the work are treated as airheaded bimbos at best and crackwhores at worst. Sex workers of all stripes also make easy prey for murderers, and when they become victims there is usually a subtle (or not-so-subtle) hint that they deserved it for being less innocent (and sympathetic) than a "wholesome" woman.


  • The "Victim of Circumstance" version is subverted in Independence Day; Jasmine, though technically a Single Mom Stripper, is clearly intelligent, a good mother, in a committed relationship with a decorated Marine officer whom she eventually marries, and not ashamed in the least of her profession. She chats about it casually with the First Lady, for crying out loud.
  • Averted in Working Girls, which neither criticizes nor glamorizes women in the sex industry, but depicts them as average people doing their job. It's a Deconstructor Fleet of all of the tropes associated with prostitution in fiction.

Live-Action Television

  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit! dedicated an episode to subverting this trope, showing that many prostitutes are just doing a job like anyone else, albeit one that's illegal in most jurisdictions. Though they played the Men in the Sex Industry part (see below) straight by not even acknowledging that they exist.

Men in the Sex Industry

They don't exist. Or the prostitutes don't, anyway. Male pimps exist, and they're shown as cruel, sadistic slave drivers who deliberately seek out young runaways, demand huge cuts of the night's profits, punish even the slightest transgressions by raping or brutally beating the girl in question, and, if they're really nasty, will either get their girls addicted to drugs to make them even more dependent on them or employ illegally-smuggled slaves. Also, God help any girl who tries to flee, as capture and a subsequent Cruel and Unusual Death is always around the corner. Needless to say, there is Truth in Television in this portrayal. The only good thing that they ever might be seen doing is dealing with cheap, violent, or creepy johns, but even that isn't guaranteed.


  • The Dirty Harry film Magnum Force hits everything: the high-class hooker who goes to see her pimp, whereupon said pimp shows himself as the nasty and brutish thug he is, by robbing her, including the money she thought she was hiding, then brutally murders her by pouring a can of drain cleaner down her throat. (That he's so Crazy-Prepared he routinely carries a can of drain cleaner on him shows how much of a horrible bastard he is.) Shortly thereafter he becomes the Asshole Victim as he is murdered by a vigilante police officer. (Not Harry, though.)
  • True Romance: Discussed; Clarence ends up killing his new ex-hooker girlfriend Alabama's abusive pimp on the advice of his Spirit Advisor, who argues that the cops would throw a party at the news.


  • Among Stock Characters for the plays of Titus Maccius Plautus and probably nearly every other ancient Roman playwright, the pimp was a stock villain and preferred Butt-Monkey for the clever slave to cheat and con at virtually every opportunity. He deserved to have the wool pulled over his eyes because invariably, he was a cruel slave-driver to his girls, an impious and godless reprobate, and a cheat and con himself in what was already a filthy business. Even moneylenders were portrayed as more honest and virtuous than this scumbag.

Video Games

Web Comics

  • Bling the Pimpmaster and his cronies (including his right hand Shine the Pimpjockey and his right hand Cash the Pimpjockey) from the roleplays of White Dark Life are the classic portrayal of a pimp mentioned above played horrifyingly straight, to the point where many of their former captives have been mentally shattered by the experience. Bling's organization, the Happy Sperm Club, is noted for straight-up kidnapping and imprisoning girls — sometimes even prepubescent girls — and brutally conditioning them to sexually service men. (Said conditioning often takes the form of beatings and starvation until the women are simply too weak to resist unwelcome advances. Needless to say, not all victims survive this treatment.) However, Bling is also noted to care very much about his customers and his cronies, to the point where his business model would be downright commendable if he'd chosen a less immoral profession, and he reacts very poorly to his subordinates being injured, arrested, or killed. He actually goes very well out of his way to stay under the radar to protect his clients' reputations, as well. All of this does nothing to make him sympathetic, due to his aforementioned horrible treatment of women. One of his former captives (and one of the main heroes), Lillian Schnieder, was so broken by her time as a HSC captive that she couldn't so much as touch a man without immediately starting to remove her clothes and get Ready for Lovemaking. By the time of the roleplays proper, she's gotten over this (thanks to a combination of lots of therapy, a loving boyfriend willing to go so far as to actively train her to resist sexual harassment, and discovering and eventually gaining control over her Big Damn Heroes-obsessed, superpowered alter ego) and is even in a healthy relationship, but she still has nightmares about her time in captivity (and has said herself that she's mentally scarred and said scars will likely never fully heal), she still can't sleep with clothes on, and she regards both the Happy Sperm Club's continued existence and her former status as "the ultimate whore" as an extreme Berserk Button.

Strip Club Employees

Almost no one at a strip club is ever portrayed sympathetically. The dancers are often drugged-out and are frequently at war with one another, as well as being exceptionally manipulative with the patrons (anyone who has worked in a strip club will tell you that this is often Truth in Television, but not to the extent commonly shown), in addition to occasionally being over-the-hill has-beens who are still in it only because there's nowhere else for them to go, the DJs are usually idiotic cokeheads banging girls on the side for preferential tip cuts (with the girls often getting preferential song choices and stage time in return), the bouncers are barely-verbal thugs just in it for the potential to beat people up who are frequently either on the take or members of criminal organizations, the bartenders are thieves who water down drinks and frequently overcharge patrons or grossly overinflate tabs by adding nonexistent purchases, the valets will go on joyrides with your car and will probably steal something important that you made the mistake of leaving there, the security heads are crooks who turn a blind eye to the illegal activities of their staff and who will do their best to stonewall any lawsuit or criminal investigation when something does happen, the house moms are abusive and exploitative, frequently demand exorbitant tip cuts, and will gleefully throw any girl who doesn't bow to their demands under the bus, and the managers are disgusting, perverted sleazeballs who frequently demand sexual favors from the girls in order to guarantee their continued employment or preferable scheduling, in addition to having ties to organized crime (and as far as fiction is concerned, they're never female); particularly unpleasant examples will either keep the girls strung out and dependent on them for drugs or will employ illegally-smuggled slaves who are kept in line with the threat of being reported to immigration authorities if they don't comply with their demands.



Usually portrayed as a closet Clayton or Viper Snakely, hunters in media love nothing more than kill off baby animals and their parents, and personality-wise, totally egotistical and Trigger Happy.

Live-Action TV

  • Star Trek: Enterprise actually averted this. The hunters in "Rogue Planet" are the episode's antagonists, but they're not actually outright evil. They're simply unaware that their chosen quarry happens to be fully sapient.

Guidance Counselors

The standard joke being that no one who became a freakin' guidance counselor has any business helping young people decide what to do with their lives.

Motivational Speakers

Take all the stereotypes of other "those who can't, teach" professions, and stick them in front of a room of office workers who are there not by choice, but by managerial coercion. Let all those office workers regress to the way they behaved the last time they were forced to sit in rows in front of an authority figure. Now take all that simmering resentment and put it in the heads of sitcom characters, and stand well back.


Doesn't matter what religious order, or whatever good they might do in the community - as far as a lot of the population is concerned, the Pedophile Priest stereotype is invoked. In the cases where it isn't invoked, they're portrayed as rich aristocrat-types who are somewhat backward, despite as a rule having graduate degrees and many priests making somewhat less than teachers (there's a lot of clergy who have had to rely on charity to survive old age).
  • Even older than the Pedophile Priest stereotype is the stereotype of the priest as a willful con artist, someone who manipulates people's fears and superstitions in order to live without working. Voltaire loved this one: "The first priest was the first rogue who met the first fool."
  • An even older one is the stereotype that priests often claim to be in the name of god but that they in fact are still doing sins. Reynard the Fox for instance spoke about one brief scene in which the priest was fucking with a woman and plenty of medieval intellectuals spoke out against the hypocrisy of the church when they made themselve luxurious all the while Jesus said that you had to live poor and sober.
  • Sleepers inverts the Pedophile Priest stereotype; not only is the priest not the one who molested the four main characters, but he actively helps them punish the men who did.


Since Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil, anyone who deals in slaves, and generally, anyone who owns slaves, will be depicted in the most negative light possible, and are highly likely to suffer a Karmic Death. The same applies for hired slave-drivers and slave-catchers.



Between their role in various housing crises and the inherently passive nature of the work (as it's largely just buying the property and waiting for rent to come in), landlords frequently don't get any respect. While the low-level homeowners renting out a bit of their property tend to get the comparatively lower-level Cranky Landlord, who is nasty and loutish but not much else, the wealthier ones who actively buy up lots of property with the purpose of renting it out will often be characterized as cruel, unempathetic, classist, gentrifying, and desiring nothing more than a return to serfdom, who would boot a cancer patient and her baby out on the street if she missed one month's rent or spilled milk on the floor.

Anime and Manga

  • Dragon Ball's Frieza, of all characters, was stated by creator Akira Toriyama to be based on a landlord, with his business of conquering worlds, murdering their inhabitants, and selling them off for massive profits being essentially landlording on a massive scale.


Just when you thought you could escape this trope, they are lazy young people wasting their parents' and taxpayers' money, contributing nothing to society. Or 'welfare queens', though the latter is strongly associated with racist stereotypes.

Did we miss anyone?


Video Example(s):


Meter Maids

The Honest Trailers guy breaks from his video on Zootopia to vent on meter maids.

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Main / AcceptableProfessionalTargets

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