Follow TV Tropes


Drinking on Duty

Go To

"Imagine if I HADN'T been drunk! Heh heh."
The Demoman, Team Fortress 2

Bob's indulging in an adult beverage or two (or three, or four) while he's supposed to be on duty. The consequences for Bob and others depend on whether this Trope is played for laughs or for anvils, but it usually results in Bob getting chewed out, fired, court martialed, or dope slapped. In some rare cases, it ends up making Bob even better at his job, somehow. Unless it overlaps with The Guards Must Be Crazy, in which case you are likely to be killed by the escaping prisoner.

If Bob's duties involve being at the wheel of a vehicle, see also Drunk Driver.



    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: In vol 3, a just depowered Carol Danvers takes it hard, and starts drinking heavily. The only one who notices is Iron Man, who refuses to speak up thanks to his own history with alcoholism. None of the other Avengers realise why Carol suddenly becomes a lot more irrational and confrontational, until an incident with Kree fanatics ends with her shooting Lockjaw the dog, at which point she's given a hearing and booted off the team until she sobers up.

  • In the first Wishmaster movie, the Djinn's crystal is freed when the crane operator, drunk on the job, causes the statue to slip and fall. The heroine's third wish, which ordinarily would have unleashed Hell on Earth, was for the crane operator to not have been drinking that day.
  • In the opening sequence of Final Destination 2, one of the irresponsible drivers seen just before everything goes to hell is a trucker taking a pull from a beer bottle.
  • It is heavily implied that Commissioner Loeb in The Dark Knight often drinks on the job when dealing with death threats. This is ultimately how he dies, in fact, because The Joker had one of his goons lace his bottle with poison.
  • Red Tails: Many of Easy's decisions are called into question by Lightning and himself once this is revealed.
  • Flight tells the tale of Captain William "Whip" Whitaker, played by Denzel Washington, who is a raging alcoholic - albeit a functional one. While drunk, he pilots a plane during a mechanical failure that leads to a fatal crash and when he admits to an investigative committee that he was drunk during the accident he is sentenced to prison.
  • Invoked in Conspiracy (2001). Heydrich offers Eichmann a drink at the end to congratulate themselves on organizing a genocide. Eichmann notes he is still on duty, so his superior simply orders him to indulge himself.
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Enterprise hosts a diplomatic dinner for the chancellor of the Klingon Empire. Not being particularly fond of the idea, the Enterprise senior staff serves Romulan ale, hoping that it will make the meeting go a bit smoother. After the Klingons beam back to their ship, several Enterprise officers, while admitting that they're drunk, immediately return to duty. Chekov in particular is visibly struggling to make it through his watch.
  • Star Trek: First Contact sees Zefram Cochrane spend most of his time leading up to the launch of humanity's first warp drive craft drunk.
    Well I sure as hell am not going up in there sober.
  • The New Centurions (1972). Roy Fehler has become an alcoholic thanks to his job as a police officer, and his new partner catches him drinking from a bottle he's stashed in a police callbox. He points out that he can't rely on a partner who's this trope. Roy later gets a three-week suspension for drinking on the job.
  • In The Man from Colorado, Col. Owen Devereaux cements his status as The Neidermeyer by having Sgt. Jericho Howard arrested for drinking on duty. Normally this would be unremarkable, but it was the day war ended and everyone in camp was celebrating. He intends to have Jericho court-martialed—which could mean 40 years in prison—but Jericho escapes and deserts.
  • In Bloody Homecoming, Sheriff Corbin takes a Quick Nip from a hip flask while prowling the dance.

  • In Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, Armstrong operated on a patient while drunk. The patient did not survive the surgery, which led to Armstrong being invited to the island.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian novel The Hour of the Dragon, how Zenobia gets the keys from the guards.
  • In Tim Powers' The Drawing of the Dark, Duffy, who has been hired to work as a bouncer at the Zimmermann Inn in Vienna tends to drink far more than the manager, Werner, would like, and to find rather drunken solutions to problems that arise in the bar. The work is set in an era where drinking on duty was more acceptable than it is today, but even so, Duffy manages to push the limits. The name of the work is a reference to dark beer, so this is all unsurprising.
  • The Hobbit: Bilbo and the dwarves escape from the Elvenking when the guards in the cellars decide to just taste a bit of the fine wine they've been sending up to the banquet, and end up snoring on the table.
  • In the Tom Clancy novel The Hunt for Red October, the incident which provokes Ramius to defect was the death of his wife at the hands of a surgeon who had been drinking while on call - who went unpunished because of his political connections.note  Similar incidents occur in other novels, most often by Russian guards and/or soldiers who are classically known for such behavior.
  • The infamous case of General James Ledlie is depicted in The Last Full Measure. During the Siege of Petersburg, Ledlie's division was ordered to take the lead at the last minute in the Battle of the Craternote . Rather than briefing them, or leading them, Ledlie got drunk and his confused troops went into rather than around the crater, resulting in a horrific bloodbath.
  • Protagonists in the Redwall series often ply vermin sentries with alcohol to make them fall asleep.
  • In The Ruby Red Trilogy, Gwen gets drunk on a Time Travel mission and performs "Memory" in front of an 18th-century audience. Her more dutiful travelling companion Gideon is not pleased.
  • Rudyard Kipling's poem "The Shut-Eye Sentry" is about an officer on night duty (in garrison) who had a few too many this particular night. He's sober enough to remember he should make the rounds checking sentry posts, but not sober enough to realize he shouldn't let people see him like this. Since the consensus of the enlisted and noncoms is that he's usually a good officer, they cover for him — by a corporal passing the word to the sentries to close their eyes, so they'll be able to truthfully swear they didn't see any sign the officer was drunk.
  • In Michael Crichton's Sphere, Petty Officer Fletcher is described as having a noticeable odor of alcohol on her breath during the first squid attack.
  • Tortall Universe: In Terrier, the first book of the Beka Cooper trilogy, Verene's training partner Otelia is an alcoholic; both she and the other partner, Rollo, are drunk while they're walking their beat on Beltane. They get into a fight they can't handle, which ends with Rollo and Verene dead and Otelia injured. Later, Verene's friends wonder how she could have been assigned to them in the first place.
  • Warhammer 40,000: In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Straight Silver, a soldier on patrol takes a swig from a flask. However in doing so, he alerts the enemy to his squad's position, and the resulting ambush leaves a number of them dead. Gaunt, on finding out what happened, has to be forcibly restrained from executing the man.
  • Big Trouble: During Leonid and Ivan's time in the Soviet army stationed in a remote part of Central Asia, drinking was just about the only thing to do on duty (fraternizing with the local tribes resulting in the soldier's very likely death). Then they discovered that the base contained a lot of chemicals in drums which could give quite a high, graduating from moonshiners to drugrunners, and when a self-proclaimed businessman wearing a nice-fitting suit (correctly identified as a criminal) showed up looking to purchase some machine guns, became weapon smugglers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One of the deaths on 1000 Ways to Die was a steamroller driver who drank on the job. He makes the mistake of forgetting to properly set the roller's brake when he climbs down to go use a nearby port-a-potty. Considering what show this was featured on, you can guess what happens shortly thereafter.
  • Babylon 5: In season 5, Garibaldi started drinking again, culminating in him drinking on duty. Zack Allen quickly discovers the warning signs, but President Sheridan didn't believe it at first. After the Centauri war, Sheridan calls Garibaldi out on it, and suspends him until it is resolved (Garibaldi ends up retiring to the private sector instead of returning to duty, remaining only as long as he needed to find a replacement).
  • Several characters, most prominently Captain Lewis Nixon, on Band of Brothers.
  • Battlestar Galactica's executive officer, Colonel Saul Tigh, is well-known for his alcoholism. While he was capable of command decisions, he tended to let his wife Ellen and the booze take over, and kind of went off the rails a few times. Most notably, he turned up drunk on the stand at Baltar's trial and revealed he'd killed Ellen on New Caprica for collaborating with the Cylons, a thousand times Harsher in Hindsight when we find out that Saul and Ellen are BOTH Cylons.
  • On Baywatch, Matt catches a female lifeguard at this when he notices the smell of alcohol on her breath during a rescue. When he warns her that he's going to report her, she retaliates by filing a false sexual harassment complaint against him.
  • Mason from Dead Like Me, all the time, with various substances, alcohol included. And he's a Reaper.
  • On ER Carter just passed his medical boards exams and went to celebrate the fact with some of his friends. However, he was still on-call for the ER and was paged to come in during an emergency. He showed up late and it was clear that he had been drinking. He faced serious disciplinary action because of this and almost derailed his medical career. He was denied residency positions in all the major hospitals and the only reason Chicago General hired him was because he agreed to essentially work for free (he was independently wealthy).
  • House chugged a can of Racer 5 in his office and called it an "energy drink". Apparently nobody else knew it's actually beer.
  • JAG: In "Desert Son", Lt. Williams jokes that he's not hungover, but rather "still drunk" just before the friendly fire incident, and later claims his hangover to have caused his mistake, before changing his story and letting Boone take the blame.
  • This is part of the backstory for at least two Law & Order characters: Lennie Briscoe and Cyrus Lupo.
    • And of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit's Don Cragen.
      • Speaking of SVU, the unit lost one DA after she showed up to a trial 45 minutes late and quite drunk.
    • One of the early Law & Order episodes ended up focusing on a prominent doctor who was revealed to have been drunk while performing an operation and caused the patient to die. The investigation revealed that he had been doing this for years but everyone was too intimidated to report him.
  • Gene Hunt from Life on Mars is hardly ever sober on duty.
  • Everyone, constantly (except perhaps Bert Cooper), on Mad Men. Along with Everybody Smokes, it's part of the series' Signature Style. As the series went along the long-term effects of constant alcoholism become apparent. Freddy Rumsen is fired after he pissed himself and passed out at one meeting, and one of the secretaries tells a friend that the constant drinking is a symptom of the constant stress and fear everybody is under. Don Draper's drinking eventually grows so pronounced that he is forced out of the office, and when he returns it is contractually stipulated that he not drink while working (Except when drinking with a client, because that is just proper business).
  • Randy Disher once drank on duty in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Gets Married". However, when Sharona and Monk, and the audience, learns that certain circumstances involving his mother getting married and spending her honeymoon at a marriage counseling center with a guy significantly younger than her and she isn't even rich were the reason why he is doing so, it's kind of hard to blame Disher for drinking on duty.
  • Being The Professionals and all, CI5 aren't supposed to do this, but Bodie is less strict on the matter than his partner Doyle. Witness this scene from "Heroes" when the lads are stuck on a boring protection detail.
    Bodie: Doyle, you forgot to bring any beer.
    Doyle: No I didn't—I remembered.
    Bodie: You did?
    Doyle: Yeah, of course I did. I remembered not to bring any.
    Bodie: I'm like a fine piece of machinery—I need lubrication.
    Doyle: Yeah? Well too much lubrication and that machinery will end up with a bullet up its crankcase.
    • In "Runner", Bodie and Doyle aren't happy about having to trawl pubs for information, with Doyle griping that "I'll never be able to look a ginger beer in the face again." In the next pub he goes to (without Doyle looking over his shoulder) Bodie orders a lemonade but has the bartender add a shot.
    • When Bodie is working undercover in "Kickback", he's shown helping himself to a bottle while on the radio to Doyle moaning that he doesn't have any creature comforts.
    • Cowley can afford to ignore the rules as he's Da Chief, and anyway his single malt Scotch is famous for smoothing relationships with Whitehall mandarins who visit his office just to sample it. Now and then he drops the gruff Scot act and lets the lads have a Quick Nip as well. At the end of "Private Madness, Public Danger," Cowley allows Bodie a swip from his hip flask because he had just defused a bomb while up to his neck in freezing water. Then he snatches the flask back before Doyle has a chance to take a swig. In "Everest Was Also Conquered", Bodie gets a pure malt Scotch tossed in his face by a Corrupt Corporate Executive. First Cowley chews them out for trying to strongarm him, then pours them each a drink because he thinks it's a waste of good Scotch to pour it on your face.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • Rule 4 of the Bruces faculty rules is nobody is to be caught in their room not drinking after lights out.
    • The barber in what evolves into the Lumberjack Song sneaks a swig of hooch before working on a customer.
  • Lampshaded a few times when MythBusters has done a myth involving alcohol consumption.
    Jamie: Don't tell me we have to get drunk at work again.
  • Kent Brockman News was provided for Great Britain by legendary news anchor Reginald Bosenquet, a man who could be relied on to be interestingly drunk in time for News At Ten by ten o'clock every night. Whilst Reggie could be erratically drunk, he was never incapably so; this and a massive Estrogen Brigade fan following saved him from the sack.
  • The premiere episode of The Orville sees helsmman Gordon Malloy flying his new captain, Ed Mercer, by shuttle to the titular Orville while drinking from a can of beer.
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "The Loaded Custodian", Miss Brooks and Mrs. Davis discuss how the previous custodian, Mr. Jensen, was fired for his drinking. Actually averted the few times Mr. Jensen appears on the radio episodes (i.e. "Key to the School", "School Safety Advisor"), where his personality quirk is his insistence on interpreting common idioms literally.
  • In "The Long Ball" episode of Police Story (1973), Sgt. R.C. Pickett (Claude Akins) is an alcoholic and drinks throughout the episode.
  • Quincy, M.E.: In "Physician, Heal Thyself", a teenage girl dies after having an abortion and Dr. Quincy finds out that the doctor was drunk while performing it from her boyfriend. Later, this doctor's drunk when he's performing another operation.
  • In Scrubs Turk and JD get ripped a new one and suspended for the evening for turning up drunk by Dr Cox. Later in the run Cox himself turns up drunk although in his case it is evidence of a nervous breakdown after several patients die due to his treatment. The Janitor and Kelso have also been shown as been drunk at work, but for them it is played for laughs as part of their Comedic Sociopathy.
  • Star Trek
    • The Original Series episode The Conscience of the King has Dr. McCoy drinking at his desk in sickbay while giving a report to the ship's XO, Mr. Spock. To his credit, he does offer Spock a drink. But even for the sixties it's behavior that's pretty egregious for a ship's surgeon (and possibly contributed to the escape of a patient who was supposed to be confined to sickbay).
    • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Damar is drowning his sorrows so much that he can't keep away from the kanar while plotting the demise of the Federation, something that disturbs his handler Weyoun a bit. Weyoun is genetically engineered for diplomacy; you have to be doing something insanely scary to bother someone like that....
    • On Star Trek: Voyager, there's Tom Paris (or rather, a shapeshifter posing as Tom Paris) who's having alcoholic beverages while he's on duty, and whom Seven of Nine catches reading through Captain Janeway's private log entries.
    • Referred to by name on Star Trek: Enterprise after our heroes use their new phase cannons to fight off an alien attack. Archer joins Trip and Malcolm for a celebratory beer, but warns them not to get used to it.
  • In Season 7 of Supernatural, Dean Winchester's drinking increases; he even carries a Quick Nip around with him.
    Sam: Really? From a freaking flask? What are you, Bad Santa? On the job?
    Dean: We're always on the job.
  • Nobody, and I mean nobody embodies drunk on the job like James "Jim" Lahey on Trailer Park Boys. Whether he gives the main trio of Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles the riot act, or nepotistically defends his assistant Randy, Lahey isn't a meter far from any form of liquor.
  • On The West Wing Leo was embroiled in a scandal when it came to light that he was chronically drinking while serving as Secretary Of Labor.
  • In The Wire, Detective Jimmy McNulty does this on a couple of occasions in the show's last season. It's actually a pretty big sign of how low McNulty is sinking, because while in earlier seasons he'd gone on plenty of benders and self-destructive binges, he never had a drink while on the clock. As much as Jimmy was a major alcoholic, his job was important enough that he stayed straight and sober whenever he was working. Sure enough, once he starts drinking on the job it doesn't take long before McNulty goes Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
    • He's not the only one. Detectives are shown knocking back beers or liquor while at their desks, and even uniformed officers are openly guzzling beer in some scenes—without any signs of any concern about what can actually lead to serious disciplinary action in real police departments.
  • Bull shows up drunk to work in Night Court as a result of grieving over the death and replacement of his fellow bailiff, Selma.

  • In Stan Rogers' folk tune about the titular fictional transport, the captain of the Mary Ellen Carter had been... Y'know what? Here are Stan's own words:
    The skipper, he'd been drinking, and the matey felt no pain.
    Too close to three-mile rock and she was dealt her mortal blow,
    And the Mary Ellen Carter settled low.
  • The Glass Hammer song "Dwarf and Orc" is about Balin Longbeard's anticlimatic duel with an orc guard who had been drinking on duty.
    Dwarf and Orc, a battle not worth telling.
    Spear or cork, which which should you be assailing?
    Just pop that dwarf on the head with a cork, and see if his axe don't sing,
    Just take that axe upon your skull, and see if your head don't ring!
  • Surviving members of The Doors still talk incredulously of the recording sessions that became the L.A. Woman album and marvel that they were able to sober up Jim Morrison enough to get him to sing in any fashion at all. The title track, in particular, is testimonial to the heroic efforts taken to get Morrison to regain consciousness from a drink-and-drugs stupor, and perform the lyrics. The amazing thing is that Morrison's uncertain out-of-tune slurring rendition of the lyrics actually works and enhances the track.

    Myth And Legend 
  • In Celtic Mythology, Prince Seithenyn of the Welsh kingdom of Cantre'r Gwaelod was put in charge of the sluice gates that protected the kingdom from flooding. Unfortunately, Seithenyn liked to knock back a few and it was during one such bender that he neglected his duty to keep the sluice gates closed during a storm surge leading to the entire kingdom sinking underneath the waves of Cardigan Bay.

    Puppet Shows 
  • This is the main thrust of the "We Get To Drink" call from Crank Yankers, adapted from a call originally recorded by the Touch Tone Terrorists. A woman dials up what she thinks is United Parcel Service (UPS), hoping to find out what's going on with her missing package, not realizing that she was one number off and has instead reached the Yankerville Parcel Service (YPS), where she's certainly not likely to get any actual customer service. She is eventually passed off to "Blade," who may have set her package on fire, and finds him to be apparently stoned. However, when she is then transferred to Junkyard Willie...
    Willie: Yeah, he drunk off his ass. He drunk. That's all. He just drunk. He ain't always like that.
    Customer: Drunk? That's not supposed to go on at UPS.
    Willie: Come on. It's Saturday.
    Customer: What you mean, "come on"?
    Willie: I said it's Saturday.

  • The Navy Lark: Vice-Admiral Prout has never knowingly been sober in his entire career.
  • This is a suspicion often directed against former BBC presenter Sarah Kennedy, who on at least one occasion had to be sent home, allegedly too tired and emotional to continue presenting a radio show to the nation. Officially, it was blamed on an adverse reaction to prescription drugs.
    • Another BBC presenter, this time in the 1930's, was a former Royal Navy officer tasked with reporting on the Navy review at Spithead. He had evidently enjoyed too much wardroom hospitality beforehand and partaken of the rum ration, as his commentary was somewhat slurred and exciteable.
    Oh my goodness, the entire fleet is completely lit up! It's like Fairyland....
  • In the Cabin Pressure episode "Fitton", Martin and Carolyn get spectacularly drunk on duty because they think that Mr. Goddard isn't going to show up. He does. Fortunately, Douglas and Arthur are completely sober.
  • The Brewing Network: Understandable and pretty much expected as all of the shows involve discussing various aspects of beer. Justin pointed out in one episode of The Session that he couldn't remember an episode he was in where he didn't have a beer.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Red November the crew of the gnome submarine can drink grog in order to temporarily boost their skills and perform dangerous repairs without the proper equipment. This increases the gnome's drunkeness level but does not effect their standard actions. However, every time an event card is drawn, the gnome must perform a sobriety check. If the gnome fails the check, he collapses at his station and must sleep it off. While the gnome is sleeping off the alcohol, the compartment could catch fire, start filling with water or the submarine could be destroyed due to reactor failure or its missiles exploding.

  • The Club: It is revealed that Jock cost the club a grand final when he was coach because of poor decisions he made while under the influence of alcohol. For his part, Jock denies that he was over the limit and admits that he may simply have been past his prime as coach, claiming that if someone had told him directly that it was time to step down he probably would have agreed. Instead, Laurie informed the board of his drinking and Jock was sacked as a result. This is why Jock has a grudge against Laurie.

    Video Games 
  • Invoked in Ōkamiden when Chibiterasu has to bring one of the imps in Orochi's lair some sake in order to get him drunk enough to allow him to pass.
  • Team Fortress 2: The Demoman, master of Stuff Blowing Up, is always drunk. His default melee weapon is a large bottle of alcohol from which he drinks as a taunt, with the exception of the one time that he was completely unemployed.
    • The comics seems to imply he specifically gets drunk for work. On his day off we see him completely sober.
  • World of Warcraft has a hilarious aversion — there are ogres in Blade's Edge Mountains who love getting drunk. However, important Ogres tend to be guarded by "Sober" guards who have sworn off booze. These guards are Elites, and are very difficult (if not impossible for some) to kill solo, at the intended level for the quest. The important ogres, are the ones you are sent to kill. You kill them by dropping a mug of booze on the ground so the important ogre walks away from his bodyguards to drink it.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the fact that one guard regularly drinks on duty is an important clue in an early investigation.
  • Throughout TimeSplitters: Future Perfect, a drunk guard can be found in nearly every level. And their drunken rants are hilarious.
    "I am... BEST guard. Numbar one!"
  • In the Thief games, encounters with drunken, singing-off-key guards are not uncommon. Though they're easier to sneak past, if they spot you, they're no less formidable than other guards.
  • The Commandos series allows you to distract guards using bottles of wine. You can even spike them, allowing for a Non-Lethal K.O..
  • In Dwarf Fortress, dwarves are always drunk; in fact, being sober makes them less efficient. However, this trope can still come into play when, due to Artificial Stupidity, a dwarf chooses exactly the wrong moment to take a break in order to go get liquored-up.
  • In Episode 1 of Dysfunctional Systems ("Learning to Manage Chaos"), the first thing Cyrus does in Brighton is go to a bar — both for the beer and for the patrons.
  • At one point in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy needs to make his way around a German castle looking for his captive father. In one wing of the castle, you can find a soldier who is already well into the trope who will give you his stein so you can fill it up again. You can then give the filled stein to another soldier, who then gives it back empty, but will allow you to pass from then on. note  Kicked up a notch later, when you can give a trophy full of ale to a big, muscle-bound guard before he fights you. This makes the fight much easier, taking him all the way from full health to one-punch range.
  • At one point in Conquests of the Longbow, Robin needs to break three prospective recruits out of the Sheriff's dungeon before they can be hanged. The best way to deal with the guards to the cell is to leave enough money to buy a bucket of ale in a place where they'll find it, then sneaking in while they go off to drink.
  • The designer from Grow Valley can be seen drinking beer and eating lollipops while working on his projects, which may explain some of the stranger architectural features in the game.
  • Defied, unsurprisingly, in the first Police Quest. If Sonny tries it in uniform, it is an instant game over. The second game does allow a bit of drinking, though there are many cases where you shouldn't, lest it make it harder to do your job.
  • L.A. Noire has Finbarr "Rusty" Galloway, Cole's partner during the Homicide Desk investigations. When Phelps arrives at a bar to question a murdered victim's friend on her background and where she was last seen, Rusty takes the time to sit down and order rye before they move on to the next part of the investigation. Many characters tend to note his alcoholic tendencies.

    Visual Novels 
  • When the protagonist of Double Homework returns to school after his yacht party, he finds Ms. Walsh drunk.

    Web Comics 
  • Questionable Content:
    • Faye's alcoholism is Played for Drama when she breaks up with Angus, drowns her sorrows on the clock at Coffee of Doom, and gets fired on the spot by Dora. The resulting binge puts Faye in the hospital and leads her to go into recovery.
    • Dora later finds one of Faye's whiskey stashes at Coffee of Doom and has a few drinks during a lull, which gets her chewed out for displaying the same behaviour that she fired Faye for. She's immediately ashamed.

    Web Video 
  • On The Call of Warr, Prince and Glintz-Terry both get wasted one night, which is against the rules for soldiers on-duty. They get so drunk they burst into where Durkin, Mabel, and Ashes are talking and bonding, annoying and upsetting all three of them as they try to get the others to drink with them.

    Western Animation 
  • One of Kevin's teacher's (Mr. Czelanski) on Mission Hill has an endemic case of this. Perhaps the most notable instance is when he has to do a parent teacher interview:
    Mr. Czelanski: Kevin is a wonderful student, good grades..." blah, blah, blah. Do you really want to hear this?
    Andy: No, not really.
    Mr. Czelanski: Well, we still have 14 minutes left. (He promptly pulls out a bottle of scotch and two glasses from his desk) If only more parents were like you.
  • On the finale for Daria, Lindy, a friend Quinn had made while working as a hostess at a restaurant, get's fired when their boss finds Lindy's screwdriver at their post. This later causes Quinn to develop the courage to confront Lindy about her drinking problem.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Mr. Burns ends up drinking himself to a drunken stupor after Mr. Burns was given a $15,000,000 fine in regards to the hundreds of violations at his power plant.
    • There was also the time the old sea captain was drunk at the helm when he ran his ship aground. He attempted to bribe the reporter interviewing him to take the blame.
    • Subverted with Chief Wiggum in one episode. He's depressed at work and decides to hit the bottle. He then proceeds to take a huge bottle of syrup out of his desk and pours it all over a huge stack of pancakes.
    • Officers Eddie and Lou are no exceptions. They have ordered beer at Moe's and accept Bart's beer while both on duty in uniform.
    • In "Team Homer", Mr. Burns is huffing ether to avoid the pain he apparently experiences when Smithers files his fingernails. In his ether-induced delirium, he cheerfully gives Homer—who he believes to be The Pillsbury Dough Boy—start up money for bowling team. He possibly also murders the plant's janitor.
    • Homer, himself, regularly drinks several 'lunch beers' during his lunch break, according to Lenny.
    • Though many teachers at Springfield drink during school hours, Ms. Hoover (Lisa's teacher) and Groundskeeper Willie both stand out as seeming to have fairly profound alcoholism; often indulging during classes. One episode has Willie drive his tractor while being "so drunk he can barely see", and he ends up falling in the pool.
    • In the Do The Bartman music video, both Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner take a swig from Mrs. Krabappel's flask after Bart disrupts the class recital.
  • Beavis And Butthead's principal would occasionally be shown taking pulls from a bottle of Old Crow stashed in his desk.
  • Futurama Bender Bending Rodriguez is required to do this. Justified in that he's a robot whose systems are fueled by alcohol. If he doesn't drink, he starts rusting as his systems begin to break down.
    • Notably, the premise of "The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz" starts out very similarly to "Bart After Dark" in The Simpaons. The difference is, while the sea captain caused the oil tanker wreck by drinking at the helm, Bender's mishap with the dark matter spill was caused by a dangerously low alcohol content in his system.
  • Willie Whopper: In "Viva Willie", Willie's horse drinks almost all of an unattended barrel of beer while Willie is visiting the cantina. As a result, he is staggeringly drunk by the time Willie needs him to chase after Pancho.
  • In the Pepper Ann episode, "Cocoon Gables", while they couldn't flat out state it, it's implied that the manager for the nursing home where Pepper Ann was doing volunteer work came back drunk from a fiesta, while leaving her alone to deal with the residents. She looked disheveled, her speech was slurred, she hiccuped at one point, and she was staggering to the door. Pepper Ann doesn't seem to notice it though.

    Real Life 
  • To get the obvious out of the way, this, for a host of reasons, is not a smart thing to do.
    • Unless your profession involves drinking. Also, inverted in many people's whose jobs involves drinking tend not to drink when not on duty.
    • Some bars' and pubs' mottos are even: "If you can't do your job drunk, you simply can't do your job." Justified in some places where customers often buy drinks or shots for the bar staff, so having a good tolerance is necessary.
  • Winston Churchill was well sloshed more than a few times when he took decisions in World War II.
    • As was Franklin D. Roosevelt, mostly under Churchill's influence when the latter spent much of the winter of 1941-42 as a guest in The White House. These decisions were also typically taken very early in the morning.
    • Joseph Stalin's alcoholism was well-known and he was notorious for leading benders in his dacha. He just didn't take a man at his word until he'd talked to Stalin while drunk, as he thought (correctly) that sober people tried to hide things from him. Some were reputedly too terrified to refuse to drink. It is an interesting aside on WW2 that an abstemious non-drinker - Adolf Hitler - was defeated by the combined forces of three countries whose leaders were capable of drinking well to excess.
  • Most programmes of the The Holocaust were accomplished with the aid of small rivers of alcohol. Drinking the job was permitted on the job, if not encouraged:
    • In the 1939 T-4 involuntary euthanasia programme for Germany's disabled, the Reich Chancellory personnel assigned to disinfiziert ("decontamination") and cremation duty were entitled to a free 250ml ration of Schnapps per day. Although the strength of the Schnapps is unknown (it could be anywhere between average wine and weak vodka strength, or 15-30% alcohol per volume) many chose to supplement their ration with extra alcohol. There were numerous complaints about the conduct of the T-4 personnel (trustworthy German volunteer doctors, nurses, craftsmen, unskilled labourers with high wages) - not least because high alcohol use, stressful work and close proximity of both sexes (female nurses and male unskilled labourers on harvesting and cremation duty) resulted in a wholly unsurprising amount of workplace sex.
    • In the Generalgouvernment (occupied Poland) and the occupied Soviet Union, well-organised mass executions of local communities and/or Undesirable elements would of course include Hiwis (pronounced 'hee-vees', local auxiliaries 'recruited' from Soviet POW and civilians) and/or alcohol: Hiwis so that German soldiers and policemen wouldn't have to shoot anyone, and alcohol so no-one would have to remember it too strongly.
      • A notable drawback of Drinking on Duty was the egregious execution of field operations. Well-corroborated participant accounts (from the 101st Reserve Police Battalion) note an incident wherein the Hiwis' aim was so compromised by inebriation that their handlers were first impelled to take cover for the duration of the processing - despite being situated behind them - and then to attempt to finish the job themselves due to the exponentially less lethal nature of the wounds inflicted by the Hiwis' submachine guns. However, since the Police were also sloshed they had to physically climb down into the pit and press the muzzles of their weapons to the condemned in order to hit them. Then it began to rain, and as their boots filled with blood-mud slurry which the bodies began to float in, it dawned upon them that they had accidentally made the Hiwis dig the pit below the water table.
  • Any UK politician or public figure described in the press as "Tired and Emotional" due to an infamous incident in the 1960s. This is parodied in the Yes, Minister episode The Economy Drive with this exchange:
    Bernard: William Hickeynote  says you were overwrought.
    Jim Hacker: Just overwrought? Nothing about being drunk?
    Bernard: Just overwrought.
    Sir Humphrey: Overwrought as a newt, actually.
  • In UK Politics, former leader of the Liberal Democrat party Charles Kennedy. It was his chronic alcoholism that led to the "former" part.
  • British politics provides another example, this time a responsible one: The sole exception to Parliament's ban on food and drink in the debating chamber is during the Chancellor of the Exchequer's annual Budget Speech, where tradition allows them to drink anything he likes. With a few exceptions (most recently Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling), the Chancellor has opted for something alcoholic and sometimes rather stiff, since the Speech is such that he really does need a freaking drink.
  • Legend, rumour and hearsay tell that the Skipper of the Exxon Valdez, Joseph Hazelwood, was drunk on duty when the ship crashed. In 2008 it was revealed that he was below deck sleeping off a bender.
    • This was revealed in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker,note  in which Justice Souter (who wrote the majority) saw fit to note that he had had five double vodkas, "enough that a non-alcoholic would have passed out."
  • First Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. MacDonald, was notorious for drinking in Parliament. Popular legend holds that the Conferences that led to Canadian Confederation consisted of Sir John getting everyone else drunk until they agreed to it. This is not far from the truth.
  • Canadian Forces regulations allows for a maximum of two standard drinks while on duty. This is subject to further regulation by the local commanders though, so it's rare to see this fully permitted, unless you're in the Navy.
  • Speaking of Her Majesty's Navies, there's the old quote about the Royal Navy (often wrongly attributed to Winston Churchillnote ):
    Don't talk to me about Navy tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy, and the lash.
  • Undisciplined troops, especially in rear areas, sometimes do take to drink. Not only is being drunk not a good thing for the men themselves, but it's also bad news for anyone who has to cross paths with young, strong men who are bored, frustrated, drunk, armed, and given the benefit of the doubt should any incident arise.
  • In the lead-up to the 1984 general elections in New Zealand, then-Prime Minister Robert Muldoon drunkenly called a snap election after one of his MPs threatened to dissent over key legislation. This became known as the 'schnapps election'. For the record, he lost.
    • Speaking of New Zealand, former MP Nandor Tanczos made the accusation in 2000 that he had seen politicians "drunk in charge of a country".
  • Former Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen once did a radio interview while still drunk from the night before and was speaking with obviously slurred speech. He later claimed to have had a cold.
  • Ever hear of a business lunch? While the Mad Men style three-martinis lunch has long since been stopped, and most people on a business lunch will stick to water or soft drinks, occasionally someone will indulge a little and order a beer. Furthermore, it's become something of a trope itself to have someone try to negotiate a business deal after the other person has had a couple to "loosen up" and possibly agree to a deal that they might otherwise be hesitant about.
  • Drunkenness was common at the Chernobyl NPP, and may have contributed to the lax standards that resulted in its meltdown.
  • In the The American Civil War, Union general James H. Ledlie was removed from command after his drinking on duty contributed to the disaster at the Battle of the Crater. His failure to brief or lead his unprepared troops resulted in massive Union casualties.
    • On the other hand, general Grant was a much more effective commander despite his drinking, prompting Lincoln to ask what he was drinking so he could send some to the other generals. (This is because Grant didn't actually drink while conducting battle, but during long periods of inaction, such as a siege, where he had time to get bored and think about how much he missed his wife.)
  • While smart bar/club owners, managers, and heads of security will go out of their way to make sure that their staff don't drink on duty, the fact of the matter is that most hosts and bartenders will probably wind up having to drink on the job at some point with groups, but any bar staffer worth their salt will heavily dilute their own drinks so as to not get hammered. Bars and clubs with legitimately inebriated staff never last long.
  • Exotic dancers will sometimes drink on the job, often by encouraging patrons to buy them drinks (that inevitably turn out to be extremely overpriced). Subverted by the fact that, just like the above bar staff example, the drinks they consume are heavily diluted or outright non-alcoholic and the proceeds from said drinks are shared with the bar staff/establishment.
  • In 2009, a Russian airline pilot was found to be drunk while flying. Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! tells the story here
  • Vodka Drunkenski also has this tale: there is a (possibly anecdotal) story about an Aeroflot pilot who started to see pixies and fairies flying in the airspace around his aircraft. He mentioned this to the company doctor during a checkup. The doctor frowned and suggested this phenomenon was down to the two bottles of vodka the pilot consumed each day. But he suggested a solution that would allow the pilot to keep flying.
    Two bottles is a bit excessive, don't you think? Try to cut down to no more than one, comrade!


Video Example(s):


We Get to Drink

In this classic "Crank Yankers" call (sourced from a recording originally made by the Touch Tone Terrorists, a.k.a Pete Dzoghi), a woman calls up what she thinks is the United Parcel Service (UPS), not realizing that she's actually reached the Yankerville Parcel Service (YPS), where she's certainly not likely to get any actual service. She speaks with a man named Blade who is drunk on the job, his excuse being that it's Saturday. When she asks for a supervisor, she gets Junkyard Willie, who informs her "We get to drink booze over here if we wanna. It's Saturday."

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / DrinkingOnDuty

Media sources: