The main character's a Super Hero, a Private Detective, a Monster Hunter, a Knight in Shining Armor, or the like. They're in a tough position. Their jobs are difficult. The hours are long and cut into the character's personal life. They work for somebody they despise. And to top it all off, their lives are always in danger.
They never get a moment's rest. Every day they're called in for a new mission. And around every turn, some crook or monster is trying to kill them. They suffer injuries and put the lives of the people they love at risk.
So why don't they just quit? Because they love the job. To them, a little bit of danger is worth the satisfaction of a job well done. They love doing what they do, either because they enjoy helping others, or they enjoy the exercise, or enjoy the danger itself. Even if they don't like the danger, they realize that if they want to continue doing the job, the danger is just something they're going to have to deal with, because as long as they continue the job, there will always be danger. Not only do they manage to cope with this, sometimes they may actually love the danger, though it's not always necessary. When the danger is the primary reason to stay with the job, it's In Harm's Way.
- When Karina from Tiger & Bunny considers quitting her dangerous, stressful, and often thankless job as a Hero, she asks Kotetsu why he keeps at it (and puts everything he has into it, no less) when he doesn't even get the same respect for his work that the other Heroes do. His answer is simple.
Kotetsu: I'm a hero because I want to save people. Isn't that enough?
- Subverted rather disturbingly in You Obey. The protagonist carries out the interrogation in spite of his own feelings because a. He knows that he must. b. Everyone's lives depending on him successfully getting the information. c. He loves his job.
- Wings To Fly uses it in regards to Lucrezia Noin's wing, Lucille Forsythe, who takes it on herself to try and help Noin with various personal issues and frequently uses the phrase "a good wing looks after her lead" to justify when she's obviously going above and beyond what's expected of a wingman.
- Noin recognizes that another character is referring to Forsythe when they use the same phrase to explain that someone pulled them out of a self-destructive inability to care anymore during AC 195.
- In The Dresden Files, Murphy frequently invokes this trope. She's a policewoman, but she's also a Knight in Shining Armor, and she feels it's her duty to face supernatural threats as well as normal ones. Hence, she works with Harry to stabilize Chicago's magical community, even though her life is regularly threatened and the long hours spent doing so cut into her actual job. In Proven Guilty, she is put on probation for missing work, and tells Harry:
It isn't your fault. Just the nature of the beast. If I had to do it again, I would.
- In Shanna Swendson's Once upon Stilettos, a gargoyle security guard's response when Katie thanks it for saving her.
- In Fields of Foreboding, Silean Seeker Wylar Gabriel has a note brutally pinned to his leg with a big knife by a pair of kidnappers. After his leg gets healed, however, he appears totally unfazed by the whole event, presumably because he thinks of it as an in-the-line-of duty kind of thing.
- Kate Daniels works two jobs, one at the Mercenary's Guild killing magical nasties and one at the Order of Merciful Aid, keeping the peace and tracking down serial killers. She mourns that she can't even have a pet because she's never home often enough to keep it alive, she's perpetually in dismal financial circumstances, and she's constantly being injured, brushing up against death three times in three books. Later it's revealed that she was offered a job with the elite Red Guard for very good money, but turned it down because it's too boring to sit around and wait for someone else to attack you. She'd prefer to be out there hunting down the bad guy.
- Members of Rent-A-Legend, from Miss Prince, often join for relatively selfish reasons but stay to help others out.
- In the Quiller novels about British secret agent Quiller, Quiller makes clear that he (and by extension the other agents) do their job because they need the excitement. He presents it as a not very sane defect. I mean, he is all for helping humanity and his country and doing the right thing, but if he goes too long between assignments he starts to hang around the office waiting (begging) for something and finds himself agreeing to take assignments that he would have otherwise turned down.
- Get Smart: Max doesn't appear to mind the constant danger his job entails. In fact, he relishes in it.
Chief: Max, you realize you'll be facing every kind of danger imaginable.Max: And...loving it!
- The detectives on Law & Order series seem to fit this at times. Particularly Det. Stabler on SVU, who often finds his work emotionally unsettling and has had a lot of family problems because of it, but just won't quit for some reason.
- On General Hospital, Dante Falconeri is an undercover cop who knows his job is dangerous but he is determined to capture a certain mob boss.
- Easily applies to Stargate SG-1. First line of defense against alien invaders? Wouldn't have it any other way. Regular near-misses at getting Killed Off For real? Not enough to make any of them consider resigning from the team.
- Criminal Minds plays with this trope all the time. Justifiably, though, since everything about it applies: The characters are constantly being flown across the country and missing their families, they're constantly trying to convince mentally ill people not to shoot them (and sometimes have to kill said people or be killed), they're constantly being surrounded by mutilated bodies and grieving families, etc.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus: It's all in a day's work for Bicycle Repair Man.
- Person of Interest: The POI is Detective Carter, Finch and Reese's Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist.
Reese: (over the phone) Your life is in danger.
Carter: I'm a cop. My life's always in danger.
- Darkwing Duck: "I knew the job was dangerous when I took it."
- Inspector Gadget is Always on Duty.
- The Powerpuff Girls also ascribe to this, but it's been shown that they're on call even if it means sacrificing family quality time ("PowerProf.") or a budding friendship ("Superfriends").
- In the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender this is Aang's default attitude since he's not 100% sure what he has to do as The Avatar. He knows he has to learn all four elements and defeat the Fire Nation. But 'how' and "what then?" are still in the air.