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Jobless Parent Drama

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"Oh no! No! Did Daddy lose his job?!"

Children cost money to raise. Most of the time, this money is earned by their parents because one or both of them has a job, but it can be a huge source of drama if one or both parents is unemployed, was fired, or was laid off (possibly because of a Job-Stealing Robot), leading to the family struggling financially, and this is where this trope comes in.

It slightly leans towards fathers due to the stereotype that in heterosexual marriages, men are the breadwinners, but it's becoming more common with mothers.

Expect to see the kids missing things they enjoyed or wanting to do things that they think they'd enjoy, but the things are now too expensive. If it gets extreme, they may even struggle to afford food. If only one of the parents worked (the other being a Housewife or House Husband), but then they get fired or laid off, expect the other one to get a job, which they may dislike to add to the drama.

May be the cause of a Broke Episode. It may also have An Aesop about hope, not spending too much money, or, in kids' works, how to deal with having a jobless parent. May overlap with Unconfessed Unemployment, Junkie Parent, or Alcoholic Parent (in the latter two cases, it's often the addiction that is part of the reason they don't have a job). Compare Support Your Parents, common result of such situatiion. Contrast When You Coming Home, Dad?, which is drama about a parent (usually a father) working too much. May be as a result of George Jetson Job Security. If the unemployed parent is a single mom, she may end up becoming a Single Mom Stripper.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Shirogane's father lost control of his company to Kaguya's eldest brother Oko roughly seven years before the start of the series, leaving him and his sister Kei to have to work several part time jobs to provide for the family. Kei is even shown calculating how many paper routes a dress would cost while window shopping with her friends. Fortunately, the family's finances take a turn for the better later on when Papa Shirogane manages to become a successful YouTube streamer.
  • Downplayed in My Hero Academia. Uraraka's parents run a construction company, but work has grown scarce and money tight in the current environment. This is what motivates Uraraka to become a hero so she can support both of them with the fat paycheck that comes with success in the industry. Despite this, both of her parents remain cheerful and supportive despite their financial situation, encouraging her to become a hero for her own sake rather than thinking about them.

    Comic Strips 
  • Downplayed in Foxtrot when Bumbling Dad extraordinaire Roger quits his job in order to spend more time with his family. His family, naturally, are horrified, both because of the loss of income and the prospect of full-time Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity. Thankfully, Roger finally sees reason and gets his job back (And There Was Much Rejoicing from his family)... with the added bonus that his boss considers the days he didn't work as vacation time, so the family won't be able to go on their yearly camping trip. Roger, being the only one in the family who enjoys these trips, doesn't understand why the kids and his wife are now cheering louder.
  • In Stone Soup, there was a three-month arc in 2003 where Val lost her job because the company she works for did a lottery lay-off due to budget cuts, but then decided to hire her back when the company started to do much better. Between that, Val had to deal with being unemployed despite her being the only source of income for her household. Joan, Wally, and Evie also helped her by lending her their own rainy day funds, and Val's teenaged daughter Holly got a job as an advice columnist for an online teen magazine one of her fellow middle-school students created in order to help her family get a paycheck until her mom could find another job.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In But I'm a Cheerleader, the kids at True Directions are encouraged to "Find their Root", the Freudian "reason" why they have gay attractions. The only thing Megan can come up with is that her father lost his job when she was younger and her mother was a sole earner, which the True Directions people think exposed her to inverted gender roles and made her a Lesbian. Megan doesn't really agree, though.
  • An Inn in Tokyo: The plot of this film centers around Kihachi, a jobless single father with two sons. Kihachi wanders around an industrial district of Tokyo, unsuccessfully looking for work, while he and his boys go hungry.
  • In Lady Bird, Lady Bird's father is unemployed. This causes tension in the family because Lady Bird wants to go to an expensive private college in the East, while her mother doesn't want her to and brings up money as a reason why. Lady Bird, who attends a private school and picks up rich friends partway through the movie, also feels insecure about finances as a result and lies to them about her lack of a Status Cell Phone. It's also revealed that her father is on anti-depressants in part due to his unemployment.
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, "The Miracle of Birth: Part 2: The Third World": Dad comes home to his wife and massive numbered children. He has bad news. The mill's been closed, so they're destitute. Because they're Catholics, they can't use any birth control. After singing how every sperm is sacred, he tells the kids he can't afford to feed them and keep them, so he sends them off to be sold for medical experiments.
    Dad: Children, I know you're trying to help, but, believe me, me mind's made up. I've given this long and careful thought. And it has to be medical experiments for the lot of you.
  • Wild Boys of the Road is a very dark take on this trope, depicting masses of homeless teenagers wandering America during the Great Depression, because their jobless parents can no longer provide for them.

  • One of The Baby-Sitters Club books has Mallory's dad lose his job. Afraid that they could also lose their house while he's unemployed, Mallory and her seven younger siblings work together to save money, and the older ones try to get odd jobs so they can contribute to the household finances, with Mallory even planning on giving up her babysitting money. In the end, the Pikes make it through until Mallory's dad finds a job again and all is well.
  • In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mr. Bucket (Charlie's father) is the only one in a household of seven who works because Mrs. Bucket can't find a job, the grandparents have become lethargic in their old age, and Charlie is too young. When the factory Mr. Bucket works in closes down, they struggle even more and it's frequently implied that they would've starved if Charlie hadn't won the golden ticket.
  • In Daddy Lost His Job, a man loses his job due to being laid off, so his kids come up with a plan called "Operation: Save" to save money.
  • In Harriet the Spy, Harriet's friend Sport lives with his dad, who is a struggling writer who can never seem to find work. The drama comes from the fact that Sport is explicitly said to be poor several times.
  • This is a major story arc in part five of The Garden of Sinners, specifically with Tomoe Enjo's family: his father couldn't find any work (because he ran over a teenager while driving under influence, so nobody would ever hire him again) and gave to drinking. Tomoe assumes that this was what drove his mother to stab her husband to death before attempting to kill him, too (he then killed her in self-defense). This all turns out to be Fake Memories, however: the Enjo family was actually quite loving and tightly-knit despite their hardships but had the misfortune of moving into an apartment block used by the Big Bad for experiments that drove them insane, then killed them. The Tomoe we meet is actually a clone with tweaked memories implanted to lure Shiki to the Big Bad's lair.
  • In the Ramona Quimby book, Ramona and her Father, Ramona's father loses his job. While Ramona is initially excited to spend more time with her father, the stress of cutting costs and trying to make ends meet leaves her entire family cranky. Ramona tries various ways to earn money on her own, but they all backfire and she laments the loss of her "happy family". This culminates in a scene where her father reassures her that they still are a happy family - but even happy families sometimes argue or go through stressful times.
  • Raven's Home: Levi's mom Chelsea getting a job is a major part of her character arc.
  • In A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, Nao's father finds himself unemployed and moves back to Japan to find work. His continued inability to land a job leads him to become a Hikikomori, while Nao, who identifies as American, is thoroughly alienated by her Japanese classmates. Her mother is also forced to find work to support them, leaving Nao unsupervised most of the time until she begins to contemplate suicide.
  • In What A Goat, the protagonist's father wants their goat, Gerda, to leave because she's naughty and because he's lost his job and they can't afford to keep her.
  • This trope comes up frequently in Jacqueline Wilson's books, often combined with Struggling Single Mother.
    • The plot of The Bed and Breakfast Star is triggered by Elsa's stepdad Mack being made redundant and struggling to find another job; as a result, the family gets kicked out of their home and have to move into a crappy bed-and-breakfast hotel.
    • In Cookie, Beauty's father Gerry has a very well-paying job building houses, but he doesn't let her mother Dilly work. When Dilly and Beauty leave Gerry because of his abusive behavior, they don't have any income except some money left over from Dilly secretly selling her jewelry. Dilly worries about getting a job because she hasn't worked in years and has no qualifications and because Gerry always put her down and told her she was too stupid to be anything but a housewife. She eventually finds work cooking and cleaning, before turning her baking hobby into a proper business.
    • In Double Act, the twins' father Richard gets made redundant from his office job in London. However, he actually doesn't care too much - aside from worrying about providing for his children - because he hated the job and the long commute. He decides to move to the countryside and start up a bookstore with his girlfriend Rose. However, it still ends up causing drama for Ruby and Garnet because they don't want to move so far away, especially as they have to leave behind their grandmother and live with Rose, whom they don't get along with. Things work out for them in the end though.
    • In Lola Rose, after Nikki runs away from her abusive husband with her kids they don't initially have to worry about money even though Nikki is unemployed because she recently won ten thousand pounds on a scratch card. Eventually the money starts running out though, so Nikki gets a job at a pub. However, she ends up being fired after getting drunk on the job and burning her bridges with the owner. She can't get another job because she has to go into hospital for breast cancer treatment, and the kids struggle to get food until Jayni calls up her estranged Auntie Barbara for help.
    • In The Lottie Project, Charlie's mother struggles to make ends meet as it is and things get much worse for them after the store she manages is closed down. She eventually gets a job as a cleaner.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Euphoria, Maddy's father can't find a job, which causes a great deal of friction between them and leads to Maddy clinging onto her abusive boyfriend Nate.
  • The Chilean telenovela Machos shows one of the Mercader brothers, Armando, as a Family Man who got jobless at the start of the telenovela, becoming a House Husband and with his wife as the only person of his family who has a job and because of this being diminished by her with the time.
  • In a season one arc of Crime Story, Gary Sinise plays an out-of-work father of two whose polio-stricken wife is in an iron lung. The loss of his job, particularly since he is the sole breadwinner, drives him to fall in with a ruthless gang of thieves. To say his family's story doesn't end well would be an understatement. Even one of the police officers is heartbroken over the outcome.
  • More than one episode of The Haunting Hour implied this with several families. For example, in "Mrs. Worthington," Nate and Molly's mother tells them that they're on a strict budget and worries about spending too much on groceries, while in "The Girl in the Painting," Becky's mom is explicitly stated to be "between jobs" and struggles to provide for her daughter.

  • Kids Praise: The sixth album has a child named Jimmy whose father lost his job, and his family was having difficulty affording food.

    Puppet Shows 

    Video Games 

    Web Videos 
  • Played with in Kid Time Storytime for the reading of Daddy Lost His Job where Doug thinks that his daddy has lost his job and they will be homeless, but Eileen/Storyteller says that it was the daddy in the book who lost his job, not Doug's dad, and the family in the story could cope.

    Western Animation 
  • In the The Simpsons episode "Homer's Odyssey", Homer loses his job at the nuclear power plant and is nearly Driven to Suicide by his inability to find a new job. There have been plenty of other episodes since where Homer (temporarily) loses his job, but this is the only one where it's really Played for Drama.