For many people, a job is normally just a paycheck to avoid being homeless, but many others dream of getting what they believe would be the best job ever, where they will love every second of it, and even get paid for enjoying it. Some are able to land this kind of job. But there can be a fine line between a dream come true... and a complete nightmare.
The Jaded Professional is someone who used to love their job, but after working some time there, they started resenting it, if not outright hating it. Maybe the system destroys the joy of the job, or maybe the character themselves hadn't thought about any of the downsides. One of the most common examples is politicians, where some people might want to make a change, but after a while, they learn that the system will block them at every turn until they stop trying.
This character tends to be an antagonist and/or mentor for the Naïve Newcomer, they may try to convince them that they should just give up. In the most idealistic works, the resolve of the protagonist will help them find joy in their job again.
Normally a deconstruction of Pursue the Dream Job. Sub-Trope of Jade-Colored Glasses and Super-Trope of Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight and Apathetic Teacher. Compare Trade Your Passion for Glory and Shell-Shocked Veteran.
- In Crayon Shin-chan we see one of the teachers, Miss Uma, glad that is already Friday and can go home, asking herself why did she become a teacher in the first place, remembering that she did it because she wanted to serve children, only to add that she could still serve them boiled with salad.
- In Fate/stay night, Archer was once an All-Loving Hero who made a pact with the planet to become a Counter Guardian, a mystical being summoned to defend the world in times of crisis. However, this turned out to be an ugly job in which he was repeatedly forced to kill normal humans For the Greater Good, and lead Archer to become a bitter and sarcastic Knight in Sour Armor. When he attacks his past self Shirou in the Unlimited Blade Works route it's partly an attempt to commit suicide via Grandfather Paradox, and partly a desperate plea for Shirou to convince him that his dreams are still worth pursuing.
- Margo from Flashdance confides to protagonist Alex that she used to be so proud to be a dancer at Mawby's, and would routinely buy glamorous outfits for that purpose. As time went on, however, Margo stopped buying fancy outfits and continues at Mawby's as a workaday job. "Aw, what the hell, it's showtime!" she quips to Alex. It adds one more reason for Alex to end her reticence, and audition at the Pittsburgh Repertoire Company.
- In the film The Grizzlies, Janace is a cynical school principal of Kugluktuk, Nunavut. She is reluctant to approve the formation and continuation of the film's eponymous Inuit lacrosse team due to her worries of it exacerbating an already strained community plagued with youth suicide.
Russ: You don't want them reaching for something that they care about?
Janace: There's a cost for reaching.
- Our Miss Brooks: Mrs. Carney in the 1952 "Christmas Show". Mrs. Carney is in charge of the gift exchange office at Sherry's Department Store. However, it is clear from the start that she is anything but cheerful about her duties. In fact, she is extremely frustrated by people exchanging their Christmas gifts (especially exchanging their gifts before Christmas). Outside her job, she is actually a charitable person, being part of Mrs. Conklins "Helping Hand Committee".
- Discussed in Last Week Tonight with John Oliver when John is talking about the backlash the UK Labour Party received for trying to appeal to female voters... by simply painting a minibus pink. We see one female member trying to avoid answering which color the car is and John declared that she has hit rock bottom.
John: I got into politics to make a difference. And now I am on television, desperately trying to act like I don't know the colour pink.
- Discussed in Star Trek: Voyager when Janeway tells Harry Kim to have a philosophical mind or else it's easy to become jaded about your job.
- Jed Bartlet had a mild case of this on The West Wing - often what he wanted to do was constrained by the limits of his power, or because political concerns (getting re-elected, giving cover to fellow Democratic politicians, etc.) got in the way, or because sometimes I Did What I Had to Do weighs heavily on his conscience.
Bartlet: "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral. Returning violence with violence only multiplies violence adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars."
Leo: Dr. King.
Bartlet: I'm part of that darkness now, Leo. When did that happen?
Leo: Dr. King wasn't wrong. He just didn't have your job.
- In Wonderful Town, Robert Baker came to New York City dreaming of becoming a writer. He managed to land a job at a short story magazine... at which The Peter Principle kicked in and he ended up getting promoted to the job of editor, which has left him too busy to write his own work. By the time Ruth Sherman shows up, hoping to submit her work to his magazine, he's so jaded that he bluntly tells her to go back to Ohio.
- Baofu from Persona 2 Eternal Punishment started off as a young and aspiring crime prosecutor. By the time you meet him, he has completely lost all faith in the fairness of the system due to the corruption of the police's upper echelon, and he now works as a wiretapper and sort-of information broker while hunting down the Taiwanese mafia, which has ties to the police.
- Persona 5:
- Sadayo Kawakami genuinely cares about her students and dearly wants to be a good teacher, but ever since she tried to personally tutor one student who was also pushed by his parents into part-time work, which led to him being so overworked he died in an accident, she has lost her belief that she can really help anyone and become an Apathetic Teacher. Following her Confidant link will allow her to regain her love of teaching, however.
- Sae Nijima is a very similar case to Baofu. She became a prosecutor out of her belief for justice, but the corruption of the system along with the pressure on her due to being a woman led her to become obsessed with winning cases and using very underhanded means to achieve it. It gets to the point that she has a whole Palace built around this concept.
- Kill Six Billion Demons: As a child, Maya dreamed of becoming a Master Swordsman in her nation's famous army. Thousands of years after enlisting, developing Enlightenment Superpowers, becoming a Demiurge, conquering 20,000 worlds, and Abdicating the Throne, she sincerely wishes she'd stayed a noodle vendor. Her mentor in swordsmanship, Meti, was herself an example of this and even warned Maya that wanting to become a Master Swordsman is a bad idea and that she'd be happier as a noodle vendor.
- The Amazing World of Gumball uses this trope to drive the plot of "The Advice." The titular character hears an unsettling sound coming from the teachers' lounge and discovers that Mr. Small is sad. Asked why, Mr. Small says it's because after becoming a teacher to be an inspiration, he has nothing to show for it and nobody even seems interested in his advice. Eventually it's revealed that all of the teachers feel the same way. Gumball and Darwin decide to take Mr. Small's advice to make him feel better and disaster ensues. Though it should be noted that this is largely because Gumball and Darwin keep taking his advice too literally.
- In Chuggington, Frostini the ice-cream factory owner finds his job boring despite having told Wilson that he found it interesting when he first got it.
- In Recess, Principal Prickley is normally the antagonist, he is shown as a killjoy whose dream is being assigned as principal of a high school (so he doesn't have to deal with children anymore). In The Movie we learn that he not only was a very joyful teacher but that he was the first person to talk against the previous principal's idea to cancel recess. He says that kids are the main reason he accepted the offer of being principal, even when he himself forgot about it.
- In The Simpsons, Rev. Lovejoy used to be enthusiastic about spreading the word of God to the people of Springfield, but then he met Ned Flanders. Decades of trying in vain to counsel Flanders through his many frivolous crises of faith killed any enthusiasm Lovejoy had for his job.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- Parodied in one episode when Mrs. Puff is, once again, in a horrible situation due to SpongeBob's driving skills. She asks where did she go wrong, we get a flashback of her saying that she will never give up as long as a student wants to learn, then SpongeBob walks into the scene as she finishes her speech.
- There's also the scene where a previously happy-looking supermarket clerk is now jaded and short-tempered. It's heavily implied that having to interact with SpongeBob on a regular basis was the reason behind the attitude shift.
- In the Trollhunters episode "Bad Coffee", the teachers confess their ennui in their roles as teachers to one another. Coach Lawrence is frustrated by his inability to connect with Steve (whose mom he is dating), Miss Janeth is depressed that she is unable to impact her students like she wanted, and Senor Uhl finds his students to be lacking in discipline and has no patience for their antics.