Employees of large companies walk a fine line in sitcoms or sitcom-related shows as they could be fired on a whim at any moment. Our hero may have worked for the business for 10, 20, 30 years or more and been the model of efficiency and dependability, but if he screws up just once in front of the boss, it's all for naught. And heaven help the employee who's railroaded into putting on a Disastrous Demonstration, even if the product on demo is one they'd never even heard of before being shoved on stage.
The mistake may not even be work-related. Losing a game while paired with the boss at the company picnic is just as bad as, if not worse than, falling asleep at your desk. Refusing to participate in the boss' latest Zany Scheme (which may or may not be illegal) could also bring the axe, as can refusing to spend personal time babysitting his bratty kids or entertaining his demanding relatives.
Bosses in the TV world have apparently never heard of such things as wrongful termination or hostile workplace lawsuits (or maybe they have heard of them, but were arrogantly dismissive of them, because they are so confident it could never happen to them).note And neither has the poor employee, who will likely spend most his time dejectedly scanning the want ads while his concerned family looks on instead of planning some kind of legal recourse.
Fortunately, a boss who'll fire you for such asinine reasons will also be just as capricious in his hiring, and the fired character often gets their job back anyway, either by the end of the episode or by the start of the next one— making the lack of job security more of a Running Gag than a real threat to their well-being.
See Ultimate Job Security for the other extreme, in which employees who legitimately should be fired somehow manage to keep their position, Vetinari Job Security for cases where employees are too indispensable to be fired, and No Such Thing as H.R. for when nobody seems to be in charge of personnel at all.
- A Running Gag throughout Hayate the Combat Butler is Klaus constantly threatening to fire Hayate if he cannot accomplish any of the variety of Impossible Missions (or regular missions, or pretty much any situation where Hayate's skills are put to the test, no matter how absurdly petty) that come his way.
- In the infamous filler episodes, Tsunade almost constantly threatens to send Naruto back to the academy.
- The Story The Magnificent Seven (minus 4) Caballeros by Don Rosa opens with Scrooge firing Donald Duck:
Scrooge: You're fired! And be back here at work all the more early tomorrow to make up for the time you lost by getting fired today!Huey Dewey or Louie: Poor Unca Donald, Unca Scrooge fires him at least once a week!
- The European Donald Duck comics printed in weekly magazines popular in the continent (and elsewhere) has Donald giving George Jetson, the Trope Namer, a run for his money at the very least. Comics where one page (or more) is devoted just to Donald getting fired from job after job is not unheard of - due to the Negative Continuity the comics have, there's just nothing stopping the poor duck from either:
1. Working with shining Scrooge's coins to slave-like conditions.
2. Getting one (or multiple) jobs — if one job (2a), he has total success until the end, where it becomes a failure of massive proportions and he is fired as a result — if multiple (2b) it's the rapid-fire firing mentioned above.
3. Having to live with chronic unemployment.
4. Or multiple / all of the above. In the same comic, even.
- Spider-Man: Peter Parker and J. Jonah Jameson, to the point that this could almost be the Trope Namer. Of course, JJJ would argue Parker's only a "freelancer", anyway (see the entry under Western Animation).
- Ultimate Marvel:
- Ultimate Spider-Man: Kingpin, who had been taped killing someone, manages to have the criminal charges dropped because of legal technicalities. J. Jonah Jameson insists on continuing his "Spider-Man is a menace" rants, and Parker asks why he bothers so much with Spider-Man, but doesn't attack the Kingpin with the same fervor. Jameson, who wasn't having a good day, fires him. He eventually re-hires him, after enduring a lot of "the kid has a point!" and "What the Hell, Hero?". A later issue has Ol' JJ firing Peter again. One phone call with Aunt May, he tells Peter two things: He's got his job back, and his aunt is to never speak to Jonah again. After this incident, Jonah never tries firing Peter again.
- Ultimate Origins: When the Watchers of the Universe show up at several locations, one of them goes to the Daily Bugle, where Jameson is firing his star reporter, Ben Urich, over a discussion.
- In Blondie, Dagwood is incompetent and falls asleep on the job while his boss is physically and verbally abusive. He has explicitly been shown a few times to only get his job back because their wives are good friends.
- Dilbert has regularly gotten fired or quit himself. He always ends up back at the company, usually in an even worse situation than before.
Dilbert: Please don't make me work in sales again. I'll take a pay cut. No, I'll work for free! No, I'll pay you!
Pointy-Haired Boss: [while Dilbert is cleaning his shoes] I should make all my engineers work in sales some time. You come back more appreciative.
- In FoxTrot, Roger Fox is a technophobe at best and a Walking Disaster Area at worst with technology. However, in one long arc where he did quit (and two get rich quick ideas went rather badly) his boss J.P. Pembrook was glad to hire him again, explaining to him that younger men with his skills — whatever they are — wouldn't do his job for less than five times what they had been paying him. And his coworkers are even more relieved to have him back, as without Roger in the office, the computers barely ever crashed and they were deprived of the numerous breaks they used to get while waiting for the system to recover.
- In Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, Mr. Krupp fires the science teacher, Mr. Fyde, because the latter wanted to spend the Saturday with his family instead of attending the mandatory Invention Convention.
- In All of Me Edwina tells Roger's boss to fire him simply because she doesn't like him. Subverted in that Roger isn't really fired, his boss just wants to placate the wealthy and megalomaniacal client who's going to die soon anyway.
- In Here Come the Girls, Stanley keeps messing up every play he's in, and he keeps getting thrown out of the troupe. He's begged to come back in order to trap a serial killer, and they try to bribe him, but since he'll just get fired right after it's done, he demands a run-of-the-play contract.
- Jack Taylor in My Boss's Daughter is this kind of boss.
- In both The Nutty Professor and its sequel, Sherman Klump ends up getting fired around the start of the third act but gets his job back at the end.
- Used in Spider-Man 2 where Peter is fired by JJ twice and the film still ends with him employed. In one scene, he is fired and then re-hired within the space of three seconds. When JJ actually plans on firing you, you'll know.
- Older Than Television: It's hinted that Mr. Wynant may be something of a Mr. Spacely in The Thin Man:
Wynant: Tom, show this... Where are you going?
Tom: Home. I'm fired.
Wynant: Who fired you?
Tom: You did.
Wynant: Ah, forget it. Will you show this gentleman around?
Tom: [smiling]: Yes. Right this way, sir.
- In Tomorrow Never Dies, Bad Boss Elliot Carver sacks his PR woman for not being able to explain what caused a power outage. As the outage was caused by James Bond, there is no way she could have known the cause.
- In Bernard And The Genie, the title character makes an incredible gain for his art company after discovering some very rare paintings at an old woman's estate and is celebrated. But when he suggests that it would be a nice idea to let the original owner benefit, his boss (played by Rowan Atkinson, of course) not only fires him on the spot, but humiliates him and soils his reputation by implying he's a petty thief and a molester. The boss then asks a veteran female employee (who had been with the company for ages) if he might have been to hard; when she politely suggests he might have gone overboard, he fires her too.
- In the first Artemis Fowl book, Mrs. Fowl - who is in rather poor mental health - orders her son to fire a maid who displeased her. Artemis agrees, and then suggests that they hire Butler's sister Juliet as a replacement. Since Juliet was the maid in question, this results in her being fired and then rehired before she even finds out that she had been fired in the first place.
- Constantly an issue in the Sano Ichiro series, as Sano fights to maintain his position in the shogun's court. Given fickle nature of the shogun and the schemes of Chancellor Yanagisawa, merely being fired isn't usually an option, though. At best, it's likely exile; at worst, it's execution. So far, Sano has only manged to be demoted once, but he's since made a comeback to his previous position.
- In the Tim Dorsey novel When Elves Attack, Jim Davenport has made a career out of inducing this. His consulting firm is regularly hired by companies that want to justify massive unnecessary layoffs of qualified personnel in order to manipulate their stock prices. Then a few weeks later, the companies realize that they can't meet their business obligations after laying off a large portion of their manpower, so hire the same firm to act as a headhunter, at which point Jim rehires all the people he had just sacked.
- James Herriot was unfortunate enough to witness his new boss Siegfried not just sacking but disowning his younger brother Tristian for doing poorly in his exams in the first chapter of his fictionalised memoirs. Once he can slip away to check up on the poor boy, he finds him to be utterly nonchalant about it: He plans to find a quiet place to sleep under the stars and come back for breakfast the next morning, by which time Siegfried will have completely forgotten the whole thing. This turns out to be pretty typical of Siegfried, who has a short fuse but is completely incapable of holding a grudge.
- Played with in the book Skunk Works, about the crack engineering team of Coolplane-makerLockheed, the author talks about his boss Kelly Johnson. Johson would "fire" people every day for minor infractions. This was more to scare underperforming emploeyes and for Johnson to let off steam. Johnson was the boss of the "Skunk Works" during WorldWarII and the first two decades of the ColdWar.
- Alice: Mel constantly threatened to fire his waitresses, especially Flo and Vera; to a far lesser extent, this was true for Alice, as he quickly gained respect (if not grudging) for her. When Mel did follow through with his threats, he always hired them back, since he realized that he needed them more than the vice versa, and without them his business (and life) would be nothing and more than once, this was after Alice reminded Mel of this.
- The Apprentice: The entire show's premise is built on this trope. The winning Project Manager is probably safe for the time being, but there are no guarantees. In Season Four of the U.S. version, a team lost its challenge badly, then bickered relentlessly about who was to blame; Trump fired the entire team.
- Darrin in Bewitched was fired and re-hired on a regular basis, normally one being the result of magical meddling.
- The Brady Bunch:
- In "How to Succeed in Business?" after Mike and Carol find out that Peter had lost his job as a mechanic at a bike shop, Mike assures his middle son that failure and getting fired are a part of life. He states explicitly, "I've lost jobs" — although he was likely referring more to his company losing contracts for jobs they had bid and clients firing his firm. When it came to clients firing Mike:
- It is narrowly averted in "Sorry, Right Number," whereby a hard-nosed company executive is about to complete a deal for a lucrative contract when a telephone operator cuts in, asking Mike to pay 10 cents to continue the call (on a payphone installed at his home). The executive is about to fire Mike when Mike miraculously explains the payphone situation (he was using it to teach the kids responsibility, manners and money management ... and none of the other phones were available).
- Mike is fired outright in "Mike's Horror-scope" ... although it wasn't a bad thing, since his client was the impossible-to-please executive of a cosmetics company that wanted to make a hilariously, impossibly designed building.
- At least twice, his boss, Mr. Phillips, threatens to let Mike go. The first is in "Double Parked," after the boss learns that Carol is heading up an effort to save a neighborhood park where the company is seeking to build a new courthouse and Mike balks after he is told to tell Carol to cease and desist. The other is after Carol — who was under Mike's strict orders to not use the phone, to rest her voice after having her tonsils removed — unknowingly insults Mr. Phillips during a phone call; she had thought it to be Mike to test her, and when Mike tries to call Mr. Phillips back to explain, he gets a short retort and an earful of telephone slam.
- On The Burns and Allen Show, George Burns fired his announcer Harry Von Zell once about every other week for either saying things behind his back or participating in one of Gracie's zany schemes.
- Occasionally happens to Earl Sinclair on Dinosaurs. Examples include:
- "The Mighty Megalosauras": When Earl asks B.P. Richfield for a raise, Mr. Richfield snaps at him and orders him to quit. But Earl ends up getting his job back at the end.
- "Green Card": All of the tree pushers get fired as a result of there being no more trees to push down (as Richfield says, they've outlived their usefulness). However, they eventually get hired back to work on a project to build a wall on swamp land to keep the four-legged dinosaurs from entering their land.
- "A New Leaf": After bringing the "happy plant" to work and being dopey form its effects, Richfield fires Earl, who is all too happy to be fired. When Fran finds out, she brings Earl to work to talk Richfield into rehiring him. At this point, Richfield had taken the plant and is a hippy. He's happy to not only rehire Earl but also make him his assistant.... Only for Richfield to get a call from his superior telling him that he's fired (which also means Earl is still fired). And we never see Richfield or Earl get their jobs back at the end of the episode.
- "We Are Never Alone": After a robot from another planet (actually Robbie using a robot convinces Earl to care for the environment, he ends up quitting his job because WESAYSO is named the #1 biggest polluter. But after he finds out that it was a trick to get him to care for the environment, Earl runs to Mr. Richfield's office to see if he can get his job back, right when Richfield is about to give in, thinking Earl is there to make demands.
- "Earl's Big Jackpot": Earl gets fired merely for getting injured on the job (after Richfield made his employees work overtime at the last minute, without pay). Earl ends up suing his boss. After Earl rubs in his new wealth, Richfield then fires all of his tree pushers and says its because of the company losses. Robbie later convinces Earl to consider giving his money back, in exchange for rehiring the employees, which Richfield refuses. Then Earl accidently bumps his new golf cart into Richfields trailer, to which Richfield fakes an injury... But the judge demands that Richfield hire back all fired employees while Earl give Richfield his money back.
- Developed into a Running Gag in The Drew Carey Show, with the boss firing people for ridiculously petty reasons in an increasingly insane manner. Let's just say it's a very bad idea to work there if your last name is Johnson. The main character loses his job multiple times, yet always manages to get it back, though the timeframe can vary from within one episode to over two seasons. Wick's wacky firing schemes do eventually blow up in his face, though, as one of them ends with him taking a crossbow bolt to the junk and losing a testicle.
- The Dukes of Hazzard: Several times, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane and/or his deputies, Cletus Hogg and/or Enos Strate, have been fired by Boss Hogg.
- Rosco's highest-profile firing was in "Robot P. Coltrane," when Rosco who had been Hazzard County's top cop for 25 years let the Duke boys slip from his grasp, but a robot a ROBOT! easily subdued the Dukes. It turned out that was the last straw in a series of his mistakes, as Boss enumerates every minor slip-up or goof his sheriff had made. Of course, Rosco is rehired by episode's end, as the robot shorts out.
- Enos was let go at least twice, most famously in "Enos Strate to the Top," the pilot for Enos (his own hour-long police dramadey). His departure comes when he stands up to Boss and declares once and for all that he is through harassing the Duke family on his orders. In the 1984 episode "The Ransom of Hazzard County," Enos is given a de facto dismissal when Boss loses patience with his honesty (he is demoted to records clerk); however, Enos will play a key role in capturing his successor, who is conspiring with a pair of extortion artists to blow up Hazzard Dam if Boss doesn't pay him $1 million.
- The British '70s sitcom The Good Life (or Good Neighbors as it was called in the U.S.) featured an episode in which Jerry Leadbetter's boss, known only as "Sir", asks him to play host to a visiting Dutch businessman on the same night when Jerry's wife Margot is to play in a local production of the The Sound of Music. Jerry for this reason declines the request and his boss sacks him. Jerry's friend Tom Good tries to convince Sir to hire Jerry back but learns only at the end that Sir had never intended the firing to be permanent but only meant to teach Jerry not to think of himself as irreplaceable.
- Houses employees live in perpetual terror of being fired, but barring the mass interview, the chances of anyone actually staying gone are slim to none.
- They don't even always stay gone during the mass interview. During the "mass" part of the mass interview when House is still having everyone wear numbered tags so he doesn't have to remember their names, one character who is fired just turns his tag upside down and claims to be a different number. House notices and calls him out on it, but considers it good initiative and lets him stay anyway.
- In "Dying Changes Everything" the doormat Patient Of the Week casually mentions in the middle of the episode that she was replaced from her job as the personal assistant to a Straw Feminist activist despite having been gone for a few days at most and being committed to a hospital for a potentially life threatening illness. At the episode's end, the replacement quits and the patient is offered the same job with increased autonomy and she accepts, much to Thirteen's disappointment who wanted her to take the opportunity to make a new life for herself. No one considers the more logical third option of the assistant suing the employer for wrongful termination and winning an enormous settlement.
- In The IT Crowd, Reynholm fires everyone on an entire floor of the building for not working as a team. And then calls HR to hire a new security team to escort out the other team in case they don't act as a team when escorting everyone from the floor out.
- The Jeffersons: In the early years, Florence seemed to always be walking a tight rope with her boss, George. In the 1976 episode "Louise Gets Her Way," George actually follows through with his threat, tired of her sass and eavesdropping on his phone conversations. However, Florence saves her job when, while listening in on another phone conversation, she overhears a potential client of George's confer with his partner ... to close out a scam deal over damaged delivery vans! The trope became less frequent and, by the end of the series' run, it had gone away completely.
- In La Femme Nikita termination resulted in being 'cancelled'; you were executed when your services were no longer required by Section One. Explained by the premise that all agents/assassins were only probationally salvaged from Death Row (note that Nikita was innocent of any crime in the TV series, unlike the movies).
- Subverted in Mad Men: Bert Cooper, who as part of his Japanophilia never wears shoes in the office, steps on some gum that got left on the office carpet and then fires the first secretary he sees chewing gum (as she says, "How could it be my gum? My gum's in my mouth!"). However, the other higher-ups tell her to just leave and come back tomorrow anyway, because Bert's not going to remember it or her face.
- Arthur from Merlin has only really fired Merlin once, but he threatens him with it constantly. Merlin knows better than to take it seriously, because if he left, Arthur would be insane within a month. And most likely dead, but nobody knows how often he saves Arthur's life.
- Mr. Show features a sketch in which a Mean Boss promotes one of his employees after he stands up to him. Another employee agrees and is fired. Everyone else who speaks against him gets promoted for "having spunk" but the second employee can't get unfired for doing the same thing. Another sketch featured a boss who in an attempt to downsize, fired all his employees . . . until he was the only one left.
- The Muppet Show:
- In the episode with Nancy Walker, Kermit got sick and put Fozzie in charge. After all that happened in the episode, as it was about to end Fozzie figured Kermit would fire him. Kermit then shows up and tells Fozzie that he's fired. However, Fozzie seems to be more happy to see Kermit back than concerned about his firing, and Kermit quickly tells him that he's hired again.
- Justified in the beginning of The Office, when the company was downsizing and looking for people to layoff (redundancies in the UK version). Subverted when Michael fake fires Stanley to discipline him, which backfires as Stanley says he is filing a lawsuit. This leads Michael to admit that he was only pretending to fire him.
- In one of the Malibu Sands episodes on Saved by the Bell, Leon Carosi fires Zack Morris because he didn't vote for Carosi's daughter in the beauty pageant. However, he does hire him back after his daughter gets pissed at him and points out that he could sue him.
- On Seinfeld, George's boss Steinbrenner is eccentric enough to fire people for almost no reason.
George: Nobody knows what this guy's capable of. He fires people like it's a bodily function!
- In one episode of Silver Spoons, Ed claimed that Grandpa fired him at least twelve times. In the same episode, Grandpa apologizes for eleven of those times, but not the most recent. (He's not sorry about that one.)
- Played for Gallows Humor in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Apple", where Kirk tells Scotty that he's "fired" for failing to get the Enterprise out of danger (a moot point, since the failure has left the ship a few hours away from destruction). Of course, he's "re-hired" when the crisis is past.
- Naturally, this was parodied to the extreme on That's My Bush!. In the episode "Fare Thee Welfare," George is impeached by Vice President Dick Cheney. What follows is a host of scenes with George taking on and getting fired from various jobs (each parodying a famous sitcom), only to immediately get back his job as President of the United States by the end of the episode.
- On Three's Company, Mr. Angelino fired Jack numerous times. Even after Jack got his own restaurant, Mr. Angelino was his landlord and repeatedly threatened not to renew Jack's lease.
- Played for drama in Vazelina Hjulkalender. Inga fires Synnøve because Synnøve could have forced the wreckers to move, but refused to. Synnøve didn't have a lot of money in the first place, and having lost her job doesn't help her or her children.
- 30 Rock:
- In the episode "Rosemary's Baby", Jack fired Liz when she refused to fire a guest writer with edgy ideas. Also, Jack fired Pete for no apparent reason in the pilot, rehiring him at the end of the episode at Liz's insistence. Liz feared being fired when she confronted Jack about how he was taking over the writers' room in "Jack the Writer". In "The Fighting Irish", Liz fired her romantic rival and, when Pete and the accounting department objected, she responded by firing them all. Pete was obviously rehired again as was Liz's rival, who was then promoted to a branch office.
- Jack does quite a lot of firing. Jonathan's gotten fired three times in the first three seasons. Kenneth got fired for about a minute in "Blind Date". Jack spent all episode firing people in "Cutbacks". And in a case of Fridge Logic, Jack fired Tracy from his community-service job as a Little League coach in "Cougars" and rehires him later in the episode.
- "Chicago", an eighth season episode of Little House on the Prairie sees series protagonist Charles Ingalls travel to Chicago to comfort his grief-stricken friend, Mr. Edwards, after Edwards' son John Jr., a young newspaper reporter, dies in what turns out to be a murder to cover up union graft. John's boss, newspaper publisher Mr. Callahan, insists upon helping the two investigate, but not before having a drink or several in the local pub. A paperboy hands Callahan an advance copy of the late edition, and Callahan, enraged at several typos in the copy, tells the bartender to inform his copy boy when he sees him next that he's fired, and storms off. The bartender assures the shocked Ingalls and Edwards that Callahan is actually quite a fine and decent man, and assures them that he "fires" said copy boy at least a couple of times a week.
- In kayfabe, Jim Ross seems to be fired whenever they need to give a heel 'boss' character some cheap heat. Double points if the firing takes place in his home state of Oklahoma.
- This is done in Professional Wrestling all the time, with the authority figure du jour putting characters he doesn't like in "You're Fired" matches, where, as the name implies, the loser is fired.
- The "You're Fired" (originally "Loser Leaves Town") match was most common in the pre-Sports Entertainment era, when wrestlers traveled from promotion to promotion more often, and would be the culmination of a heated feud. The stipulation would also be used when a more prominent wrestler wanted time off and/or to heal from legitimate injuries, with some explanation given when the "fired" wrestler returns. And then there was the "masked stranger" that would show up to cause trouble for his (almost always heel) foe, with the masked wrestler acting on the "departed" wrestler's behalf; invariably at some point, the masked wrestler would be exposed and the feud would turn up another notch.
- Which in fact makes this trope Truth in Television for pro wrestling. Employees have lost jobs with WWE for posting blogs about being cheated on by their girlfriends, being associated with the competition in any vague way (friends of Hulk Hogan generally get their walking papers when he and Vince McMahon are having one of their semi-regular Real Life feuds), or having "heat" backstage with a member of management.
- Or for looking at the boss funny, for being too fat, too skinny, too short (but never too tall for Vince McMahon!), screwing up a match's scripted finish just once, or getting into altercations with wrestlers backstage that are favored by the management.
- In the musical Anything Goes, Billy Crocker gets fired by his boss, Elijah Whitney, only to remind him about an amalgamation deal he apparently forgot the paperwork for, which leads to Billy getting hired again. Billy also lampshades this trope by telling Reno Sweeney that "[his boss] hires and fires me every eight minutes."
- Shantae: Given how badly Scuttle Town needs a Guardian Genie to protect it against the likes of the Barons of Sequin Land and Risky Boots, you'd think Mayor Scuttlebutt would know better than to fire the titular half-genie hero. Yet in Risky's Revenge, he tosses her after Risky attacks the town, and later ponders selling the town to Ammo Baron; in Pirate's Curse, he actually sells the town to Ammo Baron, who chucks her out first thing. And yet, even after Shantae fights off Risky's renegade Tinkerbats and almost singlehandedly frags the Pirate Master, he fires her again in Half-Genie Hero, and only officially rehires her at the end of the game, well after she eliminated her "replacement" on grounds of attempting to sacrifice the town's memories to her pet worm. She's on vacation in Seven Sirens, so her job's safe for now, but the Genies know it's only a matter of time before the issue of her remaining employed rises again...
- In Spider-Man 2, your first interaction with Jameson ends up with you "fired". After he leaves the office (to get more pictures for the Bugle), Spidey muses that that was "The fifth time J.J.'s fired me this week." And if J.J.'s office is open, you can "talk" to him; one of the randomly-generated responses is "you're fired." It's possible to get this result several times in a row.
- Played for Laughs on the Team Fortress 2 blog with a series of blog posts detailing how Robin Walker had just learned that he could fire people and subsequently got Drunk with Power and ended up firing all but two of the employees at Valve.
- The homebrew game Zooming Secretary has a rather heartwarming example occur when you miss too many calls.
You're fired!...and re-hired!
- In Dave Madson's Looney Tunes Intro Bloopers, Sam fires and re-hires Shield Guy about every other episode for putting up the wrong titles in a short film's opening sequence.
- Death of Insanely Overpowered Fireballs (originally) in Irregular Webcomic! is constantly demoted, re-promoted, fired and rehired by Head Death. Other Deaths also suffer from this from time to time.
- Dr. Chester in A Loonatic's Tale. In spite of being so apathetic as to medicate any and every patient regardless of what their actual problem is, the sanitarium directors keep him around because from a pure skill standpoint he's the best psychiatrist on staff (excluding themselves), and they're hoping he'll get his head out of his ass and put it to good use. Since he never does, they occasionally hand him a case with the stipulation that his continued employment hinges upon its success.
- Inverted in Narbonic, where Dave talks about quitting/ threatens to quit/ quits Narbonic Labs about twice a story arc, but just can't seem to leave.
- Mostly subverted in Quitting Time. Nate is constantly getting fired, but once he's employed again, it's (almost) always at a different place.
- Played with in The Trenches. One can get fired on perfectly reasonable (or unreasonable as the case may be) grounds, but thanks to Credenza's little management quirks, getting re-hired is as easy as applying under a different name, since they suspect the boss has face blindness. Then "Rarley" he gets fired again, and the boss takes a photo of him and gives it to security with instructions not to let him in the building.
- In Champions of Far'aus, Captain Shalor fires Flamel from the Garn city guard, though unlike most examples it is out of concern for Flamel's wellbeing.
- Recurring Butt-Monkey characters Chingo and Alt-Luakel from AH.com: The Series are subject to this — whenever they appear, they're fired from their normal Burger Fool job at the start of the episode and then re-hired at the end.
- Parodied in the Bastard Operator from Hell stories when Simon is fired by his boss, only to be rehired by the company's HR department for the same job with higher pay only 5 minutes later. Later on it become a Running Gag that he'd get his boss fired instead, going through a series of them over the past few years.
- The British children's series Alias the Jester made a Once per Episode Running Gag of this, with every episode ending the same way: "Jester?" "Yes, your majesty?" "You're fired." "Yes, your majesty." (The only exception is the first episode, in which it's "You're hired.") Of course, he always has his job again at the beginning of the next episode.
- Stan Smith of American Dad! has been suspended or lost his job in some way a number of times, yet at the beginning of the next episode, he's always right back at work.
- Family Guy:
- Averted when Peter lost his job at the toy factory due to his boss dying and the factory closing. He was unemployed and seen doing various odd jobs for nearly an entire season before he got a new job at the brewery.
- Peter was fired from the brewery in "Peter-Assment" after refusing to have sex with his boss Angela. He was rehired at the end of the episode after doing so, although it was actually Mort who did it.
- Fred Flintstone from The Flintstones was fired by Mr. Slate frequently, not surprising since the two shows (The Flintstones and The Jetsons) were
Recycledcousins of each other. In one Cartoon Network station ID, Slate fired Fred, a mammoth, and the channel's logo in rapid succession."Heh, I love having bad days!"
- This happened to Inch High, Private Eye in every episode of his series, except "The World's Greatest Animals".
- Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law hangs a lampshade on it in an episode where Inch does sue his employer after his latest firing, since he was essentially fired for being short.
- On the other hand, Inch's employer is well within his rights to fire Inch for being shitty at his job (which he is, but Inch is able to make his claim because he's shitty in a way that's very height-flavored). Contrast with a pizza delivery boy filing for wrongful termination after causing his sixteenth on-the-job twelve-car-pileup.
- In fact, this is often the way Phil Ken Sebben enters the room, clearly intending to fire Birdman and being interrupted by something.
Phil Ken Sebben: Aaaaaaaand you're fi- wait a minute...
- An episode of Inspector Gadget had Gadget fired and replaced by a crime computer.
- The Jetsons: As the page description itself points out, George Jetson is the Trope Namer. However, Mr. Spacely promoted him to vice president nearly as often as he fired him.
- One episode ended with George saying, "Does anyone need an unemployed vice president?"
- One episode had George threatened with firing if he didn't vote for Mr. Spacely's poodle in a dog show that Astro was also competing in.
- In another, the Jetsons and the Spacelys faced off against each other in a Family Feud-style game show, and Spacely threatened to fire George if his family won (he flat-out yelled that he would fire George if he picked the top prize right in front of everybody else and on live television). Thankfully for the Jetsons, the second prize was exactly what they needed, while Spacely won a large supply of Cogswell Cogs.
- Interestingly, another episode had Spacely sign a contract George wrote up that prevented him from being fired for life. So Spacely made him his shoe-shine boy.
- Another episode (from the 1980s episodes) had Spacely, instead of his usual firing of George, dispatch him to Outer Moongolia following a computer glitch.
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Lucius fired Heloise for an incredibly trivial reason (and, in the same episode, hired Jimmy so he could fire him). Justified, since he runs Miseryville and is The Caligula.
- Kappa Mikey has Ozu threaten to fire the entire cast and/or cancel the show on a regular basis, often for ridiculous reasons, or because of something one of them (usually Mikey) did.
Ozu: "Okay, you're all hired again, but only until I remember why I fired you in the first place."
- King of the Hill:
- In one episode, Peggy loses her job as a real estate agent.
Peggy Hill: (After listing all the jobs she's lost) Bobby, look on the internet and find out who holds the record for most jobs lost.
Bobby Hill: I think that'd be George Jetson.
- Occurred in another episode when Dale gets a desk job at an adhesives company. His supervisor places Dale in charge of firing employees whom she hates. Dale then develops the habit of firing employees for no reason but to see them cry.
- In one episode, Peggy loses her job as a real estate agent.
- Littlest Pet Shop (2012): Brittany and Whittany Biskit often talk about how their butler François LeGrande is going to be fired for helping Blythe or in any way hindering the Biskits' schemes, even if he does the morally right thing. Though, as mere teenage daughters of a filthy rich pet shop owner, they don't really have much real authority over François's job.
- Mission Hill also intended to go against this trope, by having Andy change jobs every eight episodes. Unfortunately, the series only lasted long enough for him to change jobs once.
- Benson threatens to fire Mordecai and Rigby from Regular Show so often, it's pretty much become his catchphrase. This is lampshaded in "Brain Eraser", when Mordecai, Rigby, and Skips are traveling through Mordecai's memories and have to climb through a huge mob of Bensons. Every one of them is shouting "You're fired!" Lampshaded again in "A Bunch of Full Grown Geese", when after 100 episodes Rigby calls Benson out on either never carrying out his word or firing them only to rehire them less than a minute later.
- Bloaty the Tick from Rocko's Modern Life had Mr. Ick, who exaggerated this trope to ridiculous extremes. Every time he spoke, he would say "You're fired", and then correct himself. ("You're fired! I mean, good evening." "You're fired! I mean, pass the salt.")
- The Simpsons:
- Homer doesn't lose his job as frequently, but it's happened enough to notice, and Mr. Burns has as lax a set of criteria for firing employees as his predecessors. This has been lampshaded with Homer casually mentioning that he can participate in the Zany Scheme because he has been fired again.
Bart: Do you even have a job anymore?
Homer: I think it's pretty obvious that I don't!
- Also lampshaded by a related gag where Mr. Burns never remembers Homer's name, for better or worse.
- Lampshaded again, when a family member comes up with some wacky caper or other and Homer says "That's a great idea! And it's perfect timing, because I just got fired!"
- This example might be more of a subversion, actually, since the only times Burns actually seems to sack Homer are when he's done things that really are examples of gross incompetence and stupidity. Burns never fired Homer for suing him after he hit Bart with a car, or for standing up to Burns when he sexually harassed Marge, or even for thwarting Burns' campaign for governor. Another way it's a subversion is that Homer seems to be able to get his job back despite his incredible incompetence and gross stupidity.
- And then there's the rally to the top of the mountain in "Mountain of Madness". Last team in is fired. Averted at the end when Burns pretty much says that he never intended to fire anybody, it was just to motivate them.
- Although it DOES appear that the (lack of) job security applies to everyone:
Carl: Hey Mr. Burns, can I have a raise?
Mr. Burns: (cheerfully) Clear out your desk, you're gone!
- And then there was what happened to Lenny:
Mr. Burns: Alright, let's make this sporting, Leonard. If you can tell me why I shouldn't fire you without using the letter "E", you can keep your job!"
Lenny: Uh...okay...I'm a good...work...guy...
Mr. Burns: You're fired.
Lenny: But I didn't say-
Mr. Burns: You will. (opens the trapdoor Lenny is standing on)
- Also lampshaded in the comic once, after being fired again, Homer brushes it off saying "If I didn't get fired now and then, I'd never spend any time with the kids."
- Burns has even fired his loyal Yes-Man Smithers twice. Both times, it didn't last. (In fact, in the alternate ending to "Who Shot Mr. Burns", he would have forgiven Smithers for trying to kill him and hiring him again with no more punishment than a small pay cut.)
- This could be explained by Mr. Burns' philosophy that keeping Homer on staff is the only way to ensure he can make Homer suffer and fear him—A "Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer" type of thing. He said as much in "Burns Verkaufen du Kraftwerk".
- After his divorce, Kirk Van Houten was actually fired from the cracker company for being single. Though since Kirk apparently got the job from Luann's father he may have only have gotten to stay there as a favor, or possibly the firing was to get back at him for the divorce. He was noted to be the worst employee at the company, causing it to fall behind a rival brand (one of the subjects mentioned in one of their fights prior to or during the divorce), so remaining employed beyond that incident was likely a favor from Luann's father.
- Another interpretation is that Homer's real job is to fill the position of "safety inspector" without any of the trouble or expense of actually discovering and correcting safety problems, making it more a case of Vetinari Job Security from Mr. Burns' point of view.
- In the episode "Realty Bites", Marge becomes a real estate broker in an attempt to deal with yet another bout of boredom and is hired by Read Blazer Estates, with Lionel Hutz as a boss. She doesn't even makes it to the end of the day before Hutz warns her that he has a policy of firing any agents that don't sell any houses within a week of being hired, leading to her deciding to not tell Ned Flanders that the dream house he rushed to purchase from her was the site of a notorious multiple murder.
- Homer doesn't lose his job as frequently, but it's happened enough to notice, and Mr. Burns has as lax a set of criteria for firing employees as his predecessors. This has been lampshaded with Homer casually mentioning that he can participate in the Zany Scheme because he has been fired again.
- Subverted in Spider-Man (1967):
Jameson: Tell him he's fired.
Betty Brant: You can't fire him, he's a freelancer.
Jameson: Well, put him on the payroll and then fire him.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick went through a super-fast version of this with Mr. Krabs during a board game:
Patrick: It's off to jail for you, Mr. Krabs!
Mr. Krabs: Patrick, you're fired!
Patrick: But I don't even work here.
Mr. Krabs: (puts a Krusty Krab hat on Patrick's head) Would you like a job, starting now?
Patrick: Boy, would I!
Mr. Krabs: (yanks hat away) You're fired.
- Jonesy Garcia from 6teen attains and is fired from a new job every episode. For some reason, none of the stores at the mall seem to think a teenager with a four page long resume is a little suspicious. He even lampshades that as a good thing for getting future jobs. In one episode he realizes that he's about to be fired again and declares, "I QUIT! ...Man, that feels good!"
- Dr. Stinger is fired at the end of every Super Duper Sumos episode, but inevitably rehired before the next episode takes place.
- In the Oh Yeah! Cartoons short "Super Santa: Naughty", the villain Elmer Scrooge has his first demonstration of how mean he is when he fires his butler just for giving him tea with two lumps of sugar when he changed his mind on how many lumps he wanted at the last minute.
- Roman Abramovich of Chelsea FC is almost as bad as Mr. Spacely. Current manager Frank Lampard, who has been in the post since the start of the 201920 season, is the twelfth different manager since 2004. The rundown: Claudio Ranieri, José Mourinho, Avram Grant, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti, André Villas-Boas, Roberto di Matteo, Rafa Benítez, Mourinho again, Hiddink again and Antonio Conte. It's hard not to feel sorry for di Matteo - Abramovich's actions showed that he didn't want him as the manager, and only after Pep Guardiola made it clear that he was taking a sabbatical did he appoint di Matteo as the manager. Abramovich constantly interfering didn't help, and di Matteo was out by November.
- Similarly, the position of Real Madrid manager was practically a game of hot potato during the mid-late 2000s "Galáctico Era". Between Vicente del Bosque's departure in 2003 and José Mourinho's appointment in 2010, Los Blancos practically had more than one coaching change each year, with nine coaches note going through the Real hot seat in just SEVEN YEARS. These rapid changes of management proved to be extremely detrimental to Real's success, as the club managed to snare a grand total of only '''two major trophies''' in that time period, despite hosting the likes of David Beckham, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Raúl, and Fabio Cannavaro. note
- And the 201819 seasona poor one by their normal standards, which saw them finish third, not making any kind of challenge to champions Barcelona or second-place Atlético Madridsaw Real go through three managers. First, Julen Lopetegui was sacked at the end of October after a string of poor results, ending in a 51 humiliation at Barça. Santiago Solari then righted the ship to some degree, but didn't do enough to keep from being shown the door in March. Real then brought back former manager Zinedine Zidane.
- Ralph Bakshi is known within the animation industry for this, especially on the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures show. John Kricfalusi in particular has stated that he lost count on how many times Ralph fired him from the show.
- Kricfalusi himself is also widely known within the animation industry for receiving this trope. Various accounts have mentioned how he was fired from various animation studios and networks, most notably his being canned by Nickeolodeon from Ren & Stimpy. In the process, he burned multiple bridges and had difficulty getting hired. One commenter on Peter David's blog even said that Kricfalusi was fired by Marvel Comics almost immediately after they started publishing a comic adaptation of Ren And Stimpy, most of which ended up being written by Dan Slott. Notably, Kricfalusi was fired multiple times from brand-new studios that he tried to start in the 2010s, both before and after the sexual assault allegations against him came to light.
- Henry Ford cranked this Up to Eleven with a very large number of paranoia-driven dismissals.
- Heinz Guderian, who refined the blitzkrieg strategy. Hitler fired him twice.
- If former employees are to be believed, working at Apple under Steve Jobs was like this.
- Chuck Jones was almost fired from the Warner Bros. animation unit because his Looney Tunes cartoon "The Dover Boys at Pimento University", his first attempt at a more stylized animation form, was considered too weird by the WB suits. The company wasn't able to find a replacement for Jones, so they kept him on the payroll. Decades later, Jones was caught working on the UPA film, Gay Purr-ee, in violation of his exclusive contract with Warner Bros. and was fired permanently.
- Mike Keenan is the Ice Hockey world's poster boy for this trope. He's known for his Hair-Trigger Temper, Drill Sergeant Nasty coaching style, attempts to (non-lethally) be The Starscream to his bosses, and particularly for getting fired on three separate continents. His antics are one of the main reasons he's either been fired, or resigned before he could be fired, from many of the coaching jobs he's had in National Hockey League. He later coached hockey teams in Russia and China, only to again be fired from both jobs.
- Sergei Korolev (the head of the Soviet space program during much of the US-Soviet race to the Moon) was notorious for telling a subordinate they would be fired, and then asking where they were the next day. Eventually, the engineers got used to this and just continued to show up for work.
- New York Yankees manager Billy Martin, whom owner George Steinbrenner fired in 1979. And 1983, 1985, and 1988. At the time of his death in 1989, he was preparing to pick up the managing reins again for the 1990 season. Years later, it came to light that despite his many firings Martin was never once taken off the Yankees payroll. Taken Up to Eleven at one point during a press conference announcing his return as well as on a 1978 Miller Lite commercial:
- Steinbrenner: You're fired!Martin: You haven't even finished hiring me yet.
- When working with Jack Hobbs, Spike Milligan would sack him regularly, and the collaboration would be going on as if nothing had happened the next day.
- Richard Williams has been known to fire numerous animators for not living up to his (admittedly high) standards of fluid, perfect animation. Some of the revolving-door staff on The Thief and the Cobbler were fired before ever setting foot in his studio.
- Arguably the most notable example in football (soccer) is Maurizio Zamparini, chairman of the Italian club Palermo from 2002 to 2018, except for a few months in 2017. Since 1987 he has made (as of the end of his final spell at Palermo in December 2018) 67 managerial changes, including 43 while in charge of Palermo. Several managers have been hired and fired multiple times. In the 2012/2013 season alone he fired Giuseppe Sannino after three weeks, replaced him with Gian Piero Gasperini, who was in turn turfed out in favour of Alberto Malesani, who was fired 19 days later and replaced by... Gian Piero Gasperini. Gasperini's second spell lasted less than two weeks before he was fired and replaced by none other than Giuseppe Sannino, the coach from the start of the season. Zamparini's last managerial changes at Palermo began with hiring Bruno Tedino in 2017, followed by swapping Tedino and Roberto Stellone three times.
- Watford FC under the Pozzo family has become this, with 10 managers in the fold note since the Pozzos took over the club in 2012. (This amounts to around 1.6 managers per year!) Success is not even a guarantee for job survival as Watford manager, as Jokanovic was canned after helping Watford earn promotion to the Premier League and Sánchez was let go despite leading the Hornets to a comfortable mid-table finish (a remarkable feat for a newly-promoted club) and the FA Cup Semifinal. Watford fans don't really mind this, as the club has been relatively successful (especially compared to Luton) under the Pozzos.
- These firings can be chalked up to the Pozzos' ambitions and their desire to turn Watford into a world-class club akin to Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea etc. After all, a midtable finish is not enough when you have talented players like Miguel Britos, Odion Ighalo, Juan Zuñiga, Sebastian Prödl, Troy Deeney, and Roberto Pereyra. Not helping is the fact that other clubs have accomplished more with less big-name talent (*cough* Leicester City, RB Leipzig *cough*)
- Amazon.com, while not noted for its firings, tends to have absurdly high rate standards (pick rate at 100% is an estimated 1200 picks per day which turns out to be a pick every 1/2 minute). Given that most workers are temps until "converted" this means potentially every new worker has this type of job. On the bright side, they are a good holiday employer.
- American Apparel randomly requires its employees to submit full-body photographs to its HR departments. Anybody who isn't pretty enough is labeled "off-brand" and released from the company. Why were they hired in the first place? Female employees can be (and have been) fired when they refuse owner Dov Charney's sexual advances. However they are quickly learning that this is a bad business model as they are currently filing for bankruptcy now.
- Any freelancer can attest this is Truth in Television.
- Similarly, many American Football teams can go though numerous head coaches, coordinators, and players every season. Especially true for perpetually under-performing teams where you're lucky to get more than a year or two to show improvement or it's out the door and on to the next team. Many professional sports have players/coaches who've changed teams so often that they are considered "journeymen", only hired to be So Okay, It's Average placeholders until better talent comes along. During training camp and even late in the season, it's not uncommon to have a player be cut or waived and then resigned a couple days later, depending on how the season is going.
- Many companies in the US implement what is known as at-will employment. That is, the employer can fire the employee for any reason or no reason at all. However, the employee can also leave the company for any reason or no reason. Neither party needs to have a just cause for termination of employment.
Interestingly, the USA has a few reasons why someone can't be fired: a specified employment contract, race, religion, gendernote , disability (as long as it doesn't interfere with your job), and a few others. Except for those, you can be fired for any reason, since almost everyone practices "at-will employment" (which in practice means that if they do fire you for those reasons they just won't admit it). Boss doesn't like your haircut? You can be fired. 12.3 percent of wage and salary workers are members of a union, which makes them harder to get rid of...but also makes it harder to get rid of bad coworkers and employees.
This is a very American trope, as many European countries have laws that make firing someone on a whim nigh-impossible. It's not unheard of for multinational corporations doing a corporate-wide layoff to let US employees go several months before their European counterparts, because it takes that much longer to jump through the hoops required by the legal system there.
- Very much truth in television before unions were invented. Not that it was the only problem with employment back then. However, working in Asia is practically working under this plan, and the worst part is getting a lunch break is impossible due to the seemingly fast pace workplace and coworkers which will leave you in the dust if you even consider getting a bite for a minute.
- Since the 2016 Presidential election, The White House now looks like a new season of The Apprentice (see Live-Action TV above). One White House Communications Director was fired before his first day.
- On February 6th, 2018, English Championship football team Leeds United appointed Paul Heckingbottom as their manager. He was their tenth manager in five years.
- The Cleveland Browns' QB position (post-1999) is one of the most troubled in any sport. Just because they retired that notorious jersey doesn't mean the trouble has any end in sight: 28 quarterbacks in less than 20 years.
- Similarly, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers placekicker position has played out like a virtual re-enactment of Final Destination since 2009, when they cut reliable yet aging kicker Matt Bryant in a cost-saving move. Since then, injuries, poor performances, and just plain old misfortune (in the form of a career-ending Staph infection) have cause the Bucs to churn out THIRTEEN kickers (Mike Nugent, Shane Andrus, Connor Barth, Lawrence Tynes note , Rian Lindell, Patrick Murray, Kyle Brindza, Connor Barth (again), Robert Aguayo note , Nick Folk, Patrick Murray (yet again), Chandler Catanzaro, and (as of now, at least) Cairo Santos) in just the span of ONE decade. To rub salt in the Bucs' wounds: Matt Bryant, the guy they cut due to his increasing age, has blossomed into a reliable kicker for the Atlanta Falcons during that same time period, and is still kicking at a reasonably high level up to now (as of December 2018).
- In the American imagination, being involved in The Mafia means being well-dressed, surrounded by women, and driving expensive cars. However, Reality Ensues as a mafioso's life is actually monotonous, boring, and sometimes horrendous. They must have good rackets in order to avoid being a long-term problem for their bosses, and kick a portion of said earnings upstairs. Anything they do is "put on record" or "registered" with their capo so that they'll profit from these rackets and plan further schemes. At the same time, they must avoid law enforcement heat. In recent years, thanks to increasing pressure from the law, mobsters turning informer, and long prison sentences, many mobsters can only manage to barely scrape by.
- The world of academia has become very much like this - graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and other early-career people are usually employed on casual or short fixed-term payment contracts that terminate very swiftly, with no official mechanism for renewal or extension, and no prospect of ever getting a permanent position. This allows a large turnover of people at the whims of supervisors and department heads. Graduate (doctoral) students especially, many of whom fall into a sort of quasi-employment state between student and faculty, are often in the position where their funding (i.e. where any stipend/salary comes from) can be cut at any time by a disgruntled supervisor, unless there's some sort of external contract involved. And everyone in academia is conditioned from the start to think that this all somehow acceptable, and actually ''good'' for you.
- Goes all the way in the other direction once a teacher gets the magical, oft-spoken about holy grail that is "tenure". Once you have that, it's next to impossible to fire them for anything short of truly egregious (as in, actually illegal, and sometimes not even then) misconduct. As a result of the extremely high job security employees with tenure have, you get the above situation of employees without tenure having extremely low job security.