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Hired for Their Looks

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"You can teach 'em to type, but you can't teach 'em to grow tits."
Charlie Wilson, Charlie Wilson's War

A character is hired for a job solely because of their good looks. Whether or not (usually not) they have the skillset or experience for the job is a non-issue for their employer who just wants some Eye Candy around the workplace. Often times their good looks are a form of job security as in cases where they are glaringly incompetent their employer will often ignore or bear with it for the sake of keeping them around. The employee may therefore be a Ditzy Secretary.

Compare Nepotism for characters hired only because of family ties, Bunny-Ears Lawyer for oddballs who are hired anyway because they're just that good at the job, Beauty Breeds Laziness for people who use their looks to coast through life, and Casting Couch, Sleeping Their Way to the Top, or Sleeping with the Boss for cases of outright sexual favors. See also Hollywood Beauty Standards for a related casting trope.


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    Comic Strips 
  • Courtney in Retail, the exceedingly rude, lazy, and incompetent employee, was hired solely for her looks by the manager before Stuart basically because she was a hot blonde. She tends to take lots of "sick days", sometimes showing up at the mall to shop on said days looking perfectly healthy. Stuart refuses to fire her, because unlike a competent, hardworking employee, Courtney takes up quite a low amount of the payroll matrix. Of course, Courtney's ride couldn't last forever; after Marla gets Stuart's job, she (eventually) fires her.
  • In early Beetle Bailey, the joke with Ms. Buxley was that she was an airhead who was gleeful about the fact that her looks meant that she didn't need to lift a finger around the office, in contrast to the plain and hard-working Ms. Blip. However, Characterization Marches On, and these days Ms. Buxley is more likely to be frustrated that her skill and hard work go unrecognised because her boss is too busy ogling her. She was still probably hired for her looks, but she deserved to be hired on her merits.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film - Live Action 
  • Our Miss Brooks: It's implied that the city editor hired the new "Miss Lonely Hearts" entirely on her looks. When she walks to the water cooler, she's the subject of the Male Gaze of every reporter in the room. Including the boss's son (Gary Nolan) and later the boss, Lawrence Nolan.
  • In The 40-Year-Old Virgin, after Cal gets promoted to stockroom supervisor at the electronics store, he hires a skinny pretty girl who knows nothing about electronics and can "barely lift an iPod" instead of someone who would be more capable to help Dave find a new girl.
  • Schindler's List:
    • In one of the rare humouristic sequences of the film, Oskar Schindler is looking for a secretary for his new business, but appears clear that he's looking specifically for a Sexy Secretary and ends up surrounded by a bunch of very attractive girls. Since he can't decide which of them keep​, he hires them all (except the elderly woman who was the only competent typist).
    • In a far less humouristic fashion, when Goeth is looking for a housemaid (read: house slave) among the Jewish inmates, he picks the prettiest of the bunch despite her saying that she doesn't have experience with housekeeping.
  • The titular Representative from Charlie Wilson's War purposefully surrounded himself with Sexy Secretaries, and hired them based on looks.
    'You can teach 'em to type, but you can't teach 'em to grow tits.'
  • In American Reunion, Stifler tells a group of pretty women: "Ladies, you'd better be working hard - you weren't hired for your looks. Actually, you were." He then points to another woman and says "Not you."
  • In the original The Producers Swedish secretary Ulla can't do anything secretarial and is hired simply because she's hot.
  • Going along with the Gender Flip in Ghostbusters (2016), the gals hire a receptionist who's utterly incompetent in every way, but it's ok because he looks like Chris Hemsworth.
  • In Piranha 3DD, after Chet decides to renovate his waterpark into a more "adult" and "extreme" destination, he replaces all the lifeguards with hot babes (and David Hasselhoff). Predictably, this ends in disaster once the waterpark starts swarming with piranhas, with the Hoff in particular seeing everybody as Too Dumb to Live and deciding to let nature take its course.
    Maddy: Tell me you did not replace our old lifeguards with strippers!
    Chet: Water-certified strippers.
  • Royal Rendezvous: Cat is offended when she finds out James was the one who hired her to cook for his family, as she believes he's biased and only hired her because he's attracted to her, but he convinces her that he's sincere in that he does loves her cooking and she proves herself to be competent. But it does become clear that James did hope to rekindle his relationship with her while she worked at his house.
  • Tár: It's an Open Secret that Lydia Tár hires and promotes women she's attracted to. While Olga is undoubtedly a deeply gifted cellist and hard worker, it's also pretty clear that Tár was motivated at least partially by her beauty when scoring her audition. The already-shaky morality of this gets much worse when it's revealed that many women who Tár had power over in the past have come forward to accuse her of grooming, Sexual Extortion, and abuse. Tár also spitefully ruined the career of Krista, one of her former "paramours," leading to the poor young woman being Driven to Suicide.

  • An Evil Lawyer Joke has a law firm looking for a new secretary. The applicants are told to put their hands behind their heads and walk into a wall. If their breasts touch the wall before their elbows do, they're hired.
  • Another Evil Lawyer Joke: A law firm is told they need to hire more women and make one partner. So, they hire three women and devise a test to decide who makes partner. On their next paychecks, all of the women get overpaid by $5,000. The first takes the money and says nothing. The second returns the money immediately. The third takes the money but comes back later with a check for $7,500, claiming she got a good stock tip and wanted to split the difference with the firm. So who made partner? The one with the biggest tits.
  • A secretary goes to her boss and says "Sir, I don't think my salary really reflects my ability!" The boss sighs and says "Don't I know it, but we can't just let you starve to death."

  • Inverted (or perhaps played straight in a different way) in the Mercedes Lackey Oathbound, where a knight desires a pair of guards for his wife—and instead of hiring two handsome men, hires Tarma and Kethry instead (Kethry is noted as being quite beautiful, but Tarma was an unattractive, flat-chested woman with harsh features before her face was cut up and scarred when bandits murdered her family). His wife is disappointed.
  • In Artemis Fowl, Holly maintains that Lily Frond was only able to get a job with the LEP for being a good-looking bimbo with Blue Blood.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Cersei Lannister hires Aurane Waters as Grand Admiral Master of Ships, because he looks like Rhaegar Targaryen. When Cersei is imprisoned for adultery by the High Sparrow, Aurane abandons Cersei and sets himself as a new pirate lord with the ships he was given.
  • Several times in the X-Wing Series, Wedge Antilles implies that the powers that be keep trying to staff his squadrons (which are generally Famed In-Story) with pilots hired for their looks, albeit aiming for Good-Looking Privates that will look good on recruiting posters rather than a Sexy Secretary. Naturally, his response is scathing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Spin City, Caitlin hired a guy who probably moonlit as a Chippendale's dancer (almost immediately after she chewed out Charlie for the same thing).
  • In Family Ties, Alex P. Keaton hired Karen as a housekeeper, despite her being a klutz and having no experience.
  • On Just Shoot Me!, Maya does an experiment for an article in which she sends two people to interview for the same job, one extremely qualified but homely-looking, the other a handsome but dim-witted model. The model gets the job, as Maya predicted, but she also ends up falling in love with him.
  • Friends:
    • Rachel ends up hiring an inexperienced young man (Tag) as her assistant solely because he was cute.
    • Rachel herself counts as it seems that Gunther hired her only because he had a crush on her and she could have the job as long as she cared even though she was not a competent waitress.
  • In the Married... with Children episode "Rain Girl" (s4e21), Kelly Bundy becomes a TV station's "weather bunny" at a higher salary than the station's professional meteorologist, to his outrage.
  • An episode of Simon & Simon has them hiring a secretary. They look at the first one, a grandmotherly looking woman with an impressive resume, but go with a beautiful blonde who doesn't even have enough sense to answer a ringing phone.
  • JT from Step by Step hires a beautiful model as a housekeeper despite the fact that she's terrible at it. She eventually quits when she realizes this fact.
  • In Restaurant Stakeout, Willie suspected that the general manager of a restaurant partook in this trope. He had two undercover women attempt job interviews for waitressing with this manager, and confirmed Willie's suspicions when he hired the young, inexperienced teenage girl over the older, but vastly more qualified woman. He even went so far as attempting to flirt with her.
  • House:
    • House hired Cameron because, in his own words, "You look good. It's like having a nice piece of art in the lobby." Cameron is well qualified for the position, but House chose her ahead of better-credentialed candidates because of her looks. In a twist on the trope, House follows up by stating that Cameron, as a beautiful woman, could have easily done well for herself in life (because "the world will hand things to pretty people") instead of working her ass off to become a doctor. House knew that someone willing to shirk an easy life for a much harder one would have Hidden Depths.
    • In a later episode he almost ends up hiring an incompetent female doctor because she's so attractive that everything she says registers as smart to him no matter how dumb it is.
  • The Kids in the Hall: A sketch had Dave as a businessman unable to fire a French pyromaniac named Monique because she's beautiful, even as she's igniting things in his office.
  • iCarly: When the Power Trio need to hire an assistant to help with the eponymous show-within-a-show, Sam and Carly hire a hunky and INCREDIBLY stupid guy. Freddie retaliates by hiring a really dumb girl ...though it turns out that she was a college student using the experience as source material for a sociology class.
  • Lampshaded in one Australian mini-series where a group of women is starting their own business and need a secretary. One woman proposes they do what any man would do — interview a bunch of applicants and "pick the one they fancy the most".
  • Sloan Sabbith from The Newsroom. She is hired because she's an economist who "doesn't look like George Bernard Shaw". Mac seems to hope that people will actually pay attention to her when she talks about economics. Much like Allison Cameron from House, Sloan actually is more than qualified as an economist. As in, she teaches economics at Columbia University.
  • Jimmy Kent in Downton Abbey is hired to be a footman in large part because he's very good-looking. Truth be told, this was a bona fide qualification for a footman: footmen's good looks and poise were intended to reflect well on the family they served. Even Carson, the butler — no great fan of Jimmy — admits that he's perfect in this regard.
  • Inverted on Strong Medicine, where it's implied that Chief of Staff Dr. Jackson did not hire a qualified woman as his secretary because she's extremely overweight. She files a discrimination lawsuit, but the issue is never resolved, as she suffers a stroke due to the weight-loss pills she's taking.
  • Also inverted on Seinfeld, when George is preparing to hire a new secretary. Jerry assumes he's going to play this trope straight, but George tells him that if he does that, he'll be too busy ogling her to get any work done himself. Sure enough, he's seen turning down several very qualified applicants because "If I hire you, it's only a matter of time before you file a sexual harassment complaint." He ends up hiring the plainest-looking woman he can find... who ends up being so hypercompetent that George finds it a Geeky Turn-On.
  • The sisters of Sister, Sister once convinced Lisa to hire an assistant they found sexy. He was so utterly incompetent she quickly fired him. He then sued her.
  • Daredevil (2015): Although she is attractive, Karen Page most definitely was not hired by Matt and Foggy to be their secretary because of her looks. When James Wesley visits the firm on his employer's orders and recognizes Karen, having twice previously attempted to have her killed:
    Matt Murdock: Like Foggy said. We're particular about our clientele. [beat; Wesley glances at Karen]
    James Wesley: I'm curious about your... clientele. Do they all end up working for you after you get them off for murder or just the pretty ones?
    Matt Murdock: You uh, give us a minute, please?
  • One episode of That's So Raven has Cory and the Boys decide to recruit a female to be their singer, and picks the most attractive girl. However, she turned out to have a terrible singing voice, but the Crush Filter caused Cory to perceive her singing as beautiful, and he refused to believe his bandmates when they said otherwise. They had to secretly record her singing and play him back the tape when she wasn't in the room for him to hear how she actually sounded. They end up having his mother do the singing for the girl in a public performance, at the girl's request, no less.
  • Arrested Development: Gob hires Starla, a beautiful brunette, as a "business model" because he has no idea what that term actually means.

  • Faeries' Landing: Yuri is cast as a replacement for Yeongyeong in her film, purely because of her beauty.
  • Lookism: Daniel frequently runs into this when using his handsome body. He auditioned at the number one performance school in the country despite not knowing anything about dance, rap, or popular music. Tragically, the far more talented, passionate, and ugly Duke was rejected.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE:
    • A large number of the WWE Divas, who are too often models, dancers or aspiring actresses looking for their big break (see Sable, Stacy Keibler or Eva Marie). Some of them do successfully make the transition to wrestler (like Trish Stratus) but too many of them don't. Fandom is divided over whether this is a good thing or not. This trend has died down somewhat from The New '10s onward, with WWE hiring more actual female wrestlers and requiring newcomers to actually learn to wrestle, but the prettier ones still tend to get the strongest pushes even if there are others who can do better in the ring and on the mic (Alexa Bliss and the Bella Twins for example.)
    • Vince McMahon has a well known preference for men with large and/or muscular frames, and signed or pushed several men in this mold over the decades. Sometimes this pays off and he strikes wrestling gold (Hulk Hogan, Brock Lesnar), sometimes it backfires on the promotion's quality because said big men can't deliver in the ring or the mic (Viscera, The Great Khali, Lex Luger).

    Visual Novels 
  • In Coffee Talk, Nekomimis are "naturally cute and perfect", and people assume that they get hired only because of their cuteness.
  • Discussed in Daughter for Dessert leading up to the reopening of the diner. Mortelli notes that apart from the owner (the protagonist), all the people who work at the diner (Amanda, Kathy, Heidi, and Veronica) are attractive women.

  • Big Break (2019): During an job interview at a bakery, owner Yazmin starts to take a not-so-professional interest in Troy, much to his annoyance. However, when a tall, muscular and rugged man named Joseph comes in asking for work, Yazmin loses all interest in Troy (though she does give him the job of delivery boy) and hires the other man on the spot. Later comics even reveal that Yazmin and Joseph develop into Friends with Benefits.
  • Ménage à 3:
    • Zii gets a job at a comics shop largely as “counter candy” (though she’s considered for the post thanks to a friend calling in a favor).
    • DiDi doesn’t want to believe that she’s being considered for a major professional wrestling position because of her looks and specifically her bust size, despite two other characters more or less telling her that this is obviously the case. Then she encounters one of the existing employees, and maybe can’t duck the issue any longer.
  • Played with in Schlock Mercenary. Tagon initially hires Dr Bunnigus based solely on her cup size, but she's a skilled doctor who can handle the wide range of races among the Toughs.

    Western Animation 
  • Hello Nurse in Animaniacs first it seems like she's been hired just for being a buxom blonde, but character development showed her not only to be quite competent but also very multi-talented... which made her even more attractive to her employers.
  • In the cartoon "Betty Boop's Big Boss", an Office Boss puts out a job offer that says 'Girl Wanted—Top Floor—Female Preferred" and with Betty trying out for the job, none of the other women stood a chance. Betty even sings how she can't type right or take dictation and still gets the job.
  • Big City Greens: In "Cricket's Kapowie", a former movie director is filming a commercial for Big Coffee and gives Cricket the starring role, claiming he has "kapowie" and loves his overall character, his bowl-cut hairdo especially, calling it his "statement piece". Cricket misinterprets his compliments and believes he was hired because of his hair, and when he has a Bad Hair Day, he worries he lost his "kapowie" and flips out.
  • Played with in Family Guy where Stewie's nursery is cared for by an attractive but extremely negligent and borderline abusive woman (she leaves the children unattended for several hours and at one point dislocates Stewie's arm in her careless handling of him). He fails to have her found out because Brian insists he keeps his mouth shut until he's scored a night in bed with her (though calls the police himself when it turns out she has a boyfriend).
  • KaBlam!: Implied to have been the case for Hector in the episode "Won't Stick to Most Dental Work!" where Henry gets fed up with June's mockery and quits the show. June quickly realizes that he's too dim-witted to properly host the show with her, and has him removed at the end of the episode (along with realizing that she does need Henry with her).
  • Nurse Bendy on Moral Orel. She doesn't really have any medical knowledge and is at one point told to "sit there and look pretty." This is later revealed to be part of her trauma, that people only see her as a Brainless Beauty and she copes with this through her pretend family of teddy bears.
  • In an American Dad! Bond parody "Tearjerker", the titular villain (played by Roger) says that the contractor he hired to build his lair was only hired because he's gorgeous. This becomes his undoing, with his Supervillain Lair full of defects and faults, eventually defeating him when his escape pod crapping out.
    Tearjerker: Never hire a contractor just because he's gorgeous.


Video Example(s):


You'd Be Surprised

Betty Boop gets a job, but only because her new boss likes the way she looks.

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