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Laborious Laziness

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"Have you ever seen anyone work so hard at being so lazy?"
Jon Arbuckle, Garfield

In pursuit of a lazier way to do a task, a character will wind up spending magnitudes more time and effort developing and executing that lazier way than it would have taken to do it the normal way. This is often a trait of the Professional Slacker and Ridiculous Procrastinator.

To quickly illustrate, say Alice's mother has gone to work and ordered Alice to keep the dog's food and water bowls topped up. Alice doesn't want to interrupt her rigorous TV-watching schedule to get up off the couch to do so, however. But she is an inventive little devil, so she spends an hour constructing a laborious contraption that will, when she pulls and steps on the correct sequence of levers, pulleys and footpads, automatically fill both bowls without her having to leave the sofa. She then returns to her TV watching schedule, satisfied that she has found the 'easy' way of completing the task... despite the fact that even the most inattentive viewer will quickly realise that simply pausing the TV, getting up off the sofa and filling them both by hand would take, at most, five minutes and would require a lot less physical effort (and messing about with levers and such) than Alice's supposedly 'easier' solution does. In fact, her strategy is so effortful and contradictory that it can fairly be described as working hard so that she won't be working hard.

A frequent variation (and method of communicating An Aesop that 'laziness never pays off') is that the character's efforts to avoid work just end up causing them a whole heap of trouble, misery and pain (physical and / or emotional) which could have been avoided entirely had they just sucked it up and done what they were supposed to do in the first place. For example, in constructing her Rube Goldberg Device, Alice might kickstart a chain of events which results in the kitchen flooding due to a busted tap, the bag of dog food exploding all over the house, a broken window, a plastic flamingo lodged into the wall, Alice getting swept off the sofa by a malfunctioning pulley in the chaos only to break her leg and her mother ending up very, very angry with her.

Note that situations where investing some time and energy now will genuinely save effort in the long run (for example, if Alice builds an automatic dog feeder that she could use every day from then on) are not examples of this trope. Contrast Complexity Addiction when a whimsical or obsessive character makes a straightforward procedure complicated. Instead of avoiding work, they are making a dull task interesting.

Related to Short Cuts Make Long Delays. See also Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat. May or may not overlap with Duct Tape for Everything and Deliberate Under-Performance. A Professional Slacker as well as someone who is Ambitious, but Lazy may end up doing this, or think of a better idea. The 'easy' solution will frequently engage with some form of Awesome, but Impractical.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Shiromi Kosegawa in Saki, mainly in "Saki Biyori". In the first Miyamori chapter of Saki Biyori, she pulls a hand cart to bring a kotatsu to school, wanting to rest under it but knowing that she won't be able to get out once she does. In the second Miyamori chapter, she rests in various places around the mall, under the pretense of doing things such as waiting for a friend or trying on shoes, but ends up moving around the mall quite a bit, as Sae points out.
  • Bleach: When Isshin Shiba was 10th Division captain, there was a constant battle between him and his lieutenant, Rangiku, to push work onto the other to avoid doing any themselves. Shiba goes to enormous lengths to find new places around Soul Society to hide, while Rangiku goes to even greater lengths to track him down, drag him back to the office and make him do the work. In the time it takes them to do all this, the work gets completed by Third Seat Hitsugaya, while the effort to avoid it leaves Shiba and Rangiku tired, bruised and sweaty.
    Shiba: All this running around and looking for me has made your boobs glisten so nicely!
  • Hana in My Heavenly Hockey Club studied hard to get into a top-tier high school just because it was the school closest to her home and hence would let her sleep the longest amount of time possible in the morning before classes.
  • At the start of Charlotte, Yuu Otosaka is a middle school student who realizes he has the power to possess people for five seconds, so he uses it on the best kids in his class in order to cheat off their tests. However, he realizes that he'll be taking the high school entrance exam with students from other schools, and it won't be as easy to tell who's a star student. So what does he do? He scouts out various cram schools to find promising students, so he can know who to possess when he takes the test. If he was smart enough to come up with a plan like that and determined enough to see it through, one would think that he'd actually do well studying.
  • Zig-zagged in A Lazy Guy Woke Up as a Girl One Day. As the name implies, Yasuda, Hayasaka's lazy roommate, wakes up with a girl's body. He's in no particular hurry to get back to being male, in spite of all the adjustments he has to make, since he believes that if such a thing were possible, it would be a lot of work. Despite that, he is still not fond of doing things that inconvenience him, such as combing his now long hair, going shopping for clothes and dealing with periods, and tends to fall back on old habits no matter how inappropriate they might be.
  • For someone who claims that she just wants to be left alone to laze around all day and enjoy a comfortable, shut-in lifestyle, Yuna of Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is constantly going through hell and high water, revolutionizing the the world and vastly improve the lives of others in her selfish quest to acquire creature comforts for herself. She saves an orphanage from bankruptcy and having to beg for scraps on her quest to get a cheap and reliable source of chicken eggs, she defeats a Kraken, exposes and overthrows a corrupt Guild Master, and arrests a horde of murderous bandits for the sake of rice, soy sauce, and other Japanese-like ingredients, and she becomes a legendary restaurant owner and chef that even the Royal Family's Cook bows down to in awe because she wanted junk food like potato chips and pizza.
  • Tanya Degurechaff of The Saga of Tanya the Evil is a reincarnated HR manager in an alternate universe. Thus their goal remains the same - to have as easy and comfortable life as possible and they will go through any lengths to achieve it. Even acting as a ruthless war commander and conquer any country necessary.
  • Yoh from Shaman King has this as his stated goal, he'll work hard now to become the Shaman King so that, after, he can be as lazy as he wants.
  • Sloth from Fullmetal Alchemist is an extreme version. Father gets him to spend decades (if not centuries) digging a giant tunnel because Sloth is literally just too lazy/apathetic to say no. Despite that, Sloth spends a lot of time griping about how much work he has to do, when he could've avoided that in the first place by just refusing to do it.

    Comic Books 
  • One gag of Gaston Lagaffe has Prunelle really determined to find Gaston and to force him to work, while Gaston do every possible efforts to hide and avoid him. In the end, Gaston, with a defeated expression, directly ask Prunelle to give him the work because doing it will be less exhausting than avoiding it.
  • Roger the Dodger of The Beano may be an example of this; on some occasions, his parents and teachers try to point out that his elaborate dodges to get out of schoolwork or housework take up more effort and cause more damage than he'd expend or create if he just did what they were asking him to do in the first place.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Eviless would rather start an intergalactic war than give up her slaves, since then she'd have to get up to do more than hurt people for fun and wouldn't be able to rely on her telepathy for everything she wants. Luckily her laziness results in her plans being fairly sloppy even when there are ways to better carry them out at hand ensuring Wonder Woman can easily prevent them. She causes the most trouble when she teams up with more enterprising villains to form Villany Inc., relying on them to try to take down Paradise Island.

    Comic Strips 
  • As noted in the page quote, Garfield is prone to this sort of thing.
    • In the comic quoted, the lazy cat nails the TV to the ceiling above his cat bed so he can watch it without getting up. Think about how much effort it would've taken to hoist that television up there and then keep it in place while he nailed it there, and then think about how much effort it would've taken simply to get up and walk over to where the TV was.
    • In another occasion, Garfield, Jon and Liz were watching TV together when the remote control stopped working. Jon and Garfield went to a shop to buy new batteries. When they came back, Liz pointed out the set was five feet away. Garfield commented "Girls".
  • In FoxTrot, Peter tells his friend Steve about all the job leads his father is sharing with him, and his persistence in doing so.
    Steve: So you're going to spend the summer hiding from your dad?
    Peter: I only wish my not working didn't require so much work.
  • In Dilbert Wally has been shown to be very active in his efforts to not do any work, and is largely successful. He was based on a former co-worker of the creator, Scott Adams, who realized that the severance package was more beneficial than working, so he became fiercely dedicated to being extremely unproductive. To quote Wally:
    Wally: I'm not lazy, I'm useless. There's a difference.
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • In one series, Calvin built a time machine to travel two hours into the future and get a copy of his homework from himself after it was already finished. The time machine works; the homework-getting doesn't.
      6:30 Calvin: Well, since we're you from the past, I suppose you know why we're here. Did you do the homework?
      8:30 Calvin: Me?? No.
      6:30 Calvin: No?! Why not??
      8:30 Calvin: Because two hours ago, I went to the future to get it.
      6:30 Calvin: Yeah, and here I am! So where is it?!
      8:30 Calvin: That's what I said two hours ago!
    • In another series, Calvin didn't want to make his bed, so he and Hobbes spent all afternoon trying to build a robot to do it for him. They couldn't get the robot to work, but since they spent so long on it, the bed never got made. Mission accomplished!
    • This is a recurring gag through most of the strip's run. Calvin is perfectly willing to work hard as long as no-one forces him to, so he'll often end up spending more energy on avoiding something than it'd take to actually do it. For instance, he once wanted to have his Mom bring him to the library to do research on snakes, though he had to stop and ask why he'd want to learn during his summer break. To which Hobbes said:
      Hobbes: "If you do it and nobody makes you do it, it's fun."
  • Sometimes the title character from Beetle Bailey. According to him, when it comes to slacking, no effort is wasted.
    • An example is when he refuses to go through the obstacle course and tries to hide from Sarge. Sarge discovers him and ends up chasing him through the very same obstacle course.
    • That is nowhere near the only case — he's also been known to unfold a sleeping-bag, change into his pajamas, brush his teeth, fluff his pillow, and finally tuck himself into bed... while slacking off for five minutes on the job. Quoth Plato: "No-one puts more effort into slacking off than Beetle."
    • Another strip features an extremely long chase-sequence where Sarge pursued Beetle through a huge variety of environments — up cliffs, through forests and swamps and across rooftops, with brief interludes of searching when Beetle found a temporary hiding-spot in a trashcan or at the bottom of a pond with a reed... but in the end, Sarge catches up with him and drags him home by one leg, even as he digs his fingers into the ground to resist. What was he trying to get away from so ardently? The Escape and Avoidance Course, naturally....
  • A cartoon from the National Enquirer depicts a man driving with one hand on the wheel and the other holding the dog's leash while two women on the sidewalk watch.
    Woman: You win — your husband is lazier than mine.
  • Taken to a ridiculous extreme in one Over the Hedge arc where Verne is trying to convince RJ to learn to read, but RJ is too lazy to do so. Verne finally wins RJ over by pointing out that by learning to read, he could read the closed captions on television shows, freeing up his ears to listen to music or the radio. In short, RJ could be even lazier than he already is, or, in RJ's words:
    RJ: I can multi-slack!
  • Supergirl : Silver Age villain Shayla got sent to the Phantom Zone before the destruction of her planet because she wanted to be an astronaut but decided to invent an energy draining device to pass the physical rather than devote her energy to fairly passing the test. Someone died when she accidentally took too much energy, and Shayla got sentenced to the Phantom Zone.
  • Zits has one strip where Jeremy wants to put away some groceries, but his mother had just cleaned the kitchen floor. So he goes through all the trouble to jump across the kitchen counters so that he doesn't have to step on the floor when he could have simply taken off his shoes.
    Connie: I just meant you should take your shoes off!
    Jeremy: Too much effort.

    Fan Works 
  • In With a Forked Tongue I Lie in Wait (Taming Snakes) Harry and the Weasley twins fake a kappa infestation to support a lie he told about a missing Transfiguration essay. McGonagall gives him two points for being the first person in twenty years to pull the wool over her eyes.
    McGonagall: It would have been more, but it is somewhat less impressive since you're spending so much more time and effort on getting out of the homework than it would actually take to sit down and do it like you're supposed to.
  • In Harry the Hufflepuff Harry's aunt calls him lazy so many times that he decides to run his life on this trope. Being sorted into Hufflepuff, the House of hard work and loyalty, does little or nothing to change this.
  • A Noodle Incident in Harry and the Shipgirls was stated to involve Yuubari being put on potato peeling duty, only to respond by making an automatic potato peeler...even though it would have been so much easier to just peel the potatoes.
  • Zoro in It's all Nami's Fault has vigorous sex with Nami and becomes a Sex God with many conquests implicitly because he cannot be bothered to argue or do anything besides agreeing to do as asked. This is explicitly the case when he first has sex with Nami, who he can't even be bothered to eject from his bed post-coitus despite her presence disrupting his sleep. His response when she states her intention to make it a nightly ritual is to complain mentally that he'll lose time for sleeping and training.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Aliens in the Attic, Tom is accused of this when he gets Cs and Ds in his report but manages to hack the school computer system to give himself As and Bs; as his father points out, if he's smart enough to hack the system he's smart enough to get the good grades in the first place. This is justified as Tom was deliberately "dumbing down" to try and fit in with the other kids.
  • Don't Worry Darling: Jack and the other men joined Victory because they wanted to be completely cared for by their loving, doting wives. However, the "upkeep of their chosen wives" requires them to constantly keep the captive women hydrated, provide nutrition, and administer sedatives, while also having to feed themselves since the food made within Victory is not real either. In short, by robbing their "wives" of their agency and independence in the real world, the men have to work even harder to completely care for them, the exact opposite of what Frank had been preaching to them.
  • In Ever After, Rodmilla de Ghent refuses to tend to the manor, considering it beneath her as a Baroness. Instead, she spends all her time trying to set her daughter Marguerite up with Prince Henry by constantly hawking anything that'll fetch a price to buy eye-catching jewelry and dresses, bribing footmen to spy on the prince for her, stalking the prince's whereabouts, and playing games and intrigues to get the royal family's attention. Imagine how much she could get done if she put a fraction of that effort into actually running the manor and bringing honest income.
  • A very dramatic version appears in Good Will Hunting: Will would rather take his time breaking his back in construction work and as a janitor and lie that this makes him content and alienate everybody he meets than use his immense math prowess in a white-collar work that makes more money for probably less effort (for him, at least) and get over his Freudian Excuse (that gets solved by his therapist just repeating "it's not your fault" a dozen times and his best friend finally calling B.S. on him).
  • Ransom Thrombey from Knives Out initially seems like your fairly average Idle Rich man, albeit a very self-aware one. But beneath that laidback exterior is a man willing to go to downright insane lengths to maintain his easygoing lifestyle, up to and including arranging a complex, high-maintenance scheme to murder his grandfather and frame the man's nurse so he'll be the sole inheritor of the family fortune and thus be able to continue being jobless.
  • In Slackers, the sheer amount of effort the main characters put into getting out of doing tests could've easily been spent on actually studying, some films critics even pointed this out.

  • Discworld:
    • Victor Tugelbend in Moving Pictures is the master of this trope (which the narrator acknowledges). He has a trust fund from a deceased relative that's only supposed to support him while he's in school, but he much prefers the comparatively easy life of a Wizarding School student vs. being an actual wizard and its life of constant danger (Ridcully, introduced in the same book, would put an end to Klingon Promotion among Discworld wizards, but Victor has no way of knowing that). Victor studies extensively to keep his grade just low enough to not pass, but high enough that he doesn't lose his trust fund to failing grades, due to the specific stipulations of said fund. He also exercises regularly because being thin means less weight to drag around, and physical activity takes less effort if you're in good shape. It's a kind of enlightened laziness.
    • In Making Money, Moist is told that "a certain kind of man will scheme for two days to earn what he could have made by honest work in one." Subverted by Moist reflecting that honest work may be more efficient, but scheming is more fun.
    • Equal Rites has an aside pointing out how much work bandits have to do to set up a decent ambush with falling rocks etc., and how much easier it would be to just get a job.
    • One past student at Unseen University, seeking an easier way to copy out lines when issued this common school punishment, developed a whole series of increasingly-complex mechanisms that would write multiple pages at once. Not only did the development of these gadgets take up more time and effort than simply writing the lines would have, but eventually a malfunction in one high-tension prototype catapulted its inventor out a window to his death.
  • In Fungus the Bogeyman, Bogey bicycles are specifically designed to be slow.
  • This is the premise of The Man Who Didn't Wash His Dishes, a 1950 picture book. The man in the story cooks himself several large meals and doesn't wash his dishes. He ends up going to greater and greater lengths just to find dishes, then substitutes for them once he runs out, and even has trouble getting into his house because of all the dishes piled up. He can't even find the sink, so he gets the idea to wash them in the rain, then exhausts himself so much putting them back that he vows to never allow this to happen again by resolving to wash his dishes after every meal. And he does.
  • Inverted by Ivan Xav Vorpatril of the Vorkosigan Saga. It's specifically noted that he is very efficient at his job precisely because he realized long ago that doing the job efficiently meant he didn't actually have to work very hard at it.
  • Ciaphas Cain combines this with being a Professional Coward in the analogous sense. He goes out of his way to make his life as lazy and comfortable as possible while serving in the army in a galaxy where everything is trying to kill you. It's theoretically efficient and rational, but the catch is that he relies on his Fake Ultimate Hero reputation to do this — so every time he has a choice between really looking like a coward or being a hero, he goes to whatever lengths it takes to be the hero.
  • Okadu Realm: Jai and Grae cannot be bothered to get out of bed and so construct a ridiculously complicated contraption to transport them by means to their shower.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Married... with Children: Al Bundy even tried to walk over to the TV but eventually grew tired of it and agreed to have sex with Peggy for the remote.
  • Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation: Normally, if given the choice between doing something and nothing, Id choose to do nothing. But I will do something if it helps someone else do nothing. Id work all night, if it meant nothing got done.
  • Jeff of Community will go to absurd lengths to get out of work — in the pilot alone, he tries to bribe/blackmail a teacher into giving him not just the test scores for his upcoming test, but every single test he'd ever have in his studies, goes along with a study group he hates as part of a plan to have sex with Britta, and spins a master plan manipulating six different people he's just met into having a screaming match with each other, all of which would seem to take the better part of a day (although for Jeff, manipulating people is more of a hobby than a chore). As one of them pointed out, this is all to avoid doing the work for what is basically a simple Spanish test that would take him, at most, half an hour to study for the normal way. By the end of season three, he's mostly grown out of it. Lampshaded in "Documentary Filmmaking Redux" where he proudly boasts, apparently without noticing the irony, that he's "always willing to go the extra mile to avoid doing something."
  • George Costanza of Seinfeld is perhaps the Ur-Example of this trope. In nearly every episode he goes to great lengths to avoid work, effort, or even discomfort. He puts so much effort and scheming into being lazy that one wonders if it wouldn't just be easier to to the original task in the first place.
  • The one-time Don Ramón from El Chavo del ocho decided by himself to go look for a job was after he read a phrase "The thing that takes the most work is not having a job".
  • LazyTown: Robbie Rotten prides himself on being lazy, and schemes to make the rest of the town as lazy as he is, but due to these elaborate schemes, he's easily one of the most active people in the entire town. To the point that he once helped the town avoid winning a Medal of Dishonor for being the laziest town out there.
  • In Home Improvement, when he isn't trying to add his trademark "MORE POWER" to common tools, Tim is usually trying to come up with some convoluted gadget to make easy, mundane tasks even easier, which usually causes him more trouble than it's worth. We say usually, because one of his few successes came from this: he built his wife an all-in-one washer/dryer machine that worked completely automatically, even adding in detergent and softener in the correct amounts. Said washer/dryer remained a fixture of the Taylor household until the end of the series.
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, Reese once gets 0% on a True/False quiz that means he will be forced to repeat his school year. Getting an absolute zero on such a test was extremely unlikely even for an idiot, and he admits that did this on purpose- figuring out what the right answers were and intentionally getting them wrong, because he just didn't want to graduate yet.

  • The video of "Lazy", by British electronic duo X-Press 2, shows a guy who wired his entire house so he wouldn't have to get off his couch to do his chores. It bites him in the ass near the end when the robot car that was supposed to bring him his breakfast short circuits and stops just a few feet away from the couch. He has to physically reach out for it, but can't do it without getting off the couch... And when he falls off, he notices a half-eaten Snickers bar lying just next to him and settles for it rather than the full-course breakfast.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Orange Cassidy's gimmick is being lazy and detached, putting the least amount of effort possible into everything he does (unless, of course, you push him too far). A common way he portrays this is by wrestling with his hands firmly in his pockets. While this might seem like a casual sign of disinterest in kayfabe, it makes performing wrestling moves incredibly difficult.

  • In The Two Maples by Evgeny Schwartz, Baba Yaga complains at one point (possibly lying) that it's very hard to live while doing nothing; even when she was a schoolgirl, the regular kids slept peacefully after having done the homework, while she had to stay awake the whole night figuring out how to manage next day at school while knowing nothing.

    Video Games 
  • The mobile incremental game Ultimate Kept Man Life is this trope, but exaggerated to its logical extreme and then some. The titular Kept Man wants to maintain his lazy lifestyle, hoping to live off his rich girlfriend's allowance without ever having to get a job. But he has to get the approval of his girlfriend's dad, so what does he do? Starting from doing her girlfriend's chores and handling domestic tasks for her, he gradually goes to more ludicrous tasks like building an entire house for her, creating technology to make 10 billion of himself, making a warp portal, and completely terraforming Mars in just the span of a few days, he even builds a time machine to deal with his girlfriend's father disapproving of him despite his efforts, but stops after figuring out a much more simple solution: Marrying his girlfriend while taking the role of House Husband, which succeeds completely, since it doesn't actually require him to be employed.
  • For Love Of Digby involves trying to come up with a convoluted way for the main character, whose remote is broken, to change the channel in time for his umpteenth viewing of Digby the Biggest Dog in the World without ever leaving his recliner.
  • The title character of Atelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island has this as her motivation for doing anything, as she hopes that by working hard, she will marry a rich man and be set for life, never having to work again.
  • Sans in Undertale is a self-professed slacker, to the point where he avoids doing his actual job (border patrol) by doing a different job (hot-dog sales). Two jobs means twice as many legally allowed breaks!
  • The Engineer in Team Fortress 2 has the Rancho Relaxo, a taunt where he takes out a mechanical lawn chair with an umbrella and sits in it while drinking beer. More trolly players will often activate the taunt and then stay that way for the whole game, in full view of everyone - but since it makes the Engineer helpless, they frequently have to take the effort to set up a full base to defend themselves, find isolated places, exploit mobility methods to get out of reach... in short, it's not much different from the effort that it would take to play and actually win the game.
  • Played for Drama in Persona 5. Ichiryusai Madarame is a painter with a case of artist's block, so he resorts to setting up a plagiarism racket in his school and committing Murder by Inaction to steal his Magnum Opus from the original creator to keep himself afloat and relevant.
  • Stardew Valley: If you use more than 10 placed staircases to complete the 100-floor Skull Cavern quest, the quest-giver chides you for not doing it fairly... then acknowledges that you must have worked just as hard mining enough stone to build them all and grants you the reward anyway. In this case, it's arguably less about being lazy and more about luck RNG and monster attacks.
  • Psychonauts 2: The Big Bad's actions for his grand plan is possibly the epitome of this. Gristol Malik, aka Nick Johnsmith, has infiltrated the Psychonauts organization as a mail delivery man, in the process gaining the adoration and respect of nearly everyone in the organization through his hard work (with the exception of the leader Truman Zanotto, who would be part of his grand plan), all the while devising a complex scheme that involves brainwashing the unstable Dr. Loboto, and by proxy carrying out two world-domination conspiracies, swapping his brain with Truman so he can impersonate the man in his quest to find Maligula, and also manipulating Raz into helping him do so. And what was his big reason for doing all of this? He was pissed off at his tyrannical family being cast away from his homeland of Grulovia, and thus he couldn't live a life of luxury eating large amounts of caviar anymore, and wanted to use Maligula as a way to get his throne back so he could go back to being a rich idiot. The stupidity of this is only further exacerbated in that his current living situation is a five-star hotel penthouse where he can leave cans upon cans of caviar all over the place like moldy pizza boxes, his planning capabilities and the fact that he was well-educated as a child meant that he could have easily landed a cushy job if he wanted to, and he had the love and respect of an entire organization of psychic super-spies; the love and respect that he earned unlike his family being utterly hated when they were still royalty. It's only his utter lack of common sense and enormous sense of entitlement that drives him into doing all of the above.
  • In Hi-Fi RUSH, the heroes are out to stop Kale Vandelay from unleashing the AI SPECTRA, which could allow him to control the minds of everyone with one of his corporation's cybernetic enhancements. From the get-go, they figure he's obviously going to use this to take over the world with an army of brainwashed cyborgs, right? No, he's just tired of having to keep up with marketing trends; if he makes everyone automatically buy whatever new product he puts out, then he doesn't have to bother with research and advertising anymore. Needless to say, everyone finds this revelation to be incredibly underwhelming.

    Visual Novels 
  • Miu Iruma from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. She evidently puts in a lot of effort into her inventions, claiming she could still make an invention while tied up and with hot wax dripped onto her. On the other hand, she prefers to let her inventions do the work; a lot of her inventions allow the user to do things while sleeping, and she once modified a drone with a camera to draft a floor plan of the library, all to get out of having to do any actual investigative legwork.

    Web Animation 
  • Etra-chan saw it!: Azami and Akane are so lazy, that they put more effort into forcing Hiiragi to work multiple part-time jobs and coming up with excuses of why they can't work themselves. When Hiiragi starts working at Karin's family farm, they come all the way over to force him to come back and give them his money instead of just getting a job themselves.
    Tokusa: Geez... If they had the energy to come all the way over here, I'm sure they would be able to find a job.

  • xkcd: Sometimes optimizing efficiency, automating a task, or figuring out the best approach takes more time and effort than plowing ahead.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:
    • 2010-01-22: A man spent six hours making a chart proving that it's not his turn to do the dishes.
    • 2010-10-30: When an engineer hears that water is free in his new apartment but electricity isn't, he gets all excited about using the shower to power a dynamo. The landlord lampshades how it's this trope applied to saving a small amount of money.
    • In "Batocrat", Batman reveals that he does the superheroing as part of an effort to keep the proletariat from questioning how his alter ego draws a billion dollar salary from a company he inherited and which he puts no labour into. So actually he's putting quite a lot of work into maintaining this state of affairs.
    • "Potemkin":
      "Are these cardboard cutouts of a clean room? Surely this took longer than actually just cleaning your place."
      "Hindsight is 20/20."
  • In one Strange Planet strip a parent notes that their offspring has spent their time cleaning their room to justify not doing their homework. They compliment the child on learning a useful productivity strategy.
  • Wonderella calls another Super Hero to ask him to defeat the giant monster attacking the city because she had planned to take the day off. He points out that she's much more powerful than he is and could just Curb Stomp the monster and be back within fifteen minutes. An hour later, she's still unsuccessfully calling up other superheroes to avoid doing it.
  • Widdershins: Acedia is the embodiment of laziness. Literally. While she's not stupid, a case could be made for her not thinking this through:
    Y'did a load of work just so's you'd never have t'work?
    Heh... Wouldn't expect you to understand.
  • In Ennui GO!, Izzy spends a whole week coding an algorithm to calculate what meals take the least amount of work (and rotate it so she's not living on jam sandwiches all the time) so she doesn't have to do dishes. Hiring a chef and/or maid never occurs to her either.
  • Forestdale: In order to avoid doing a simple homework assignment, Izabell Carroll is willing to break into her elementary school during winter break, fill the entire building with snow, and then crank the air conditioning up to it's maximum setting to turn it all into ice, ensuring that school would be cancelled for several more days during the cleanup. At this point she's being more stubborn than she is lazy.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "King-Size Homer", Homer dedicates himself to gaining a dangerous amount of weight to qualify as disabled and work from home. Why? Because he didn't want to do a few minutes of basic calisthenics at the plant.
    • In "Bart Carny", Bart and Lisa have been tasked to clean the back yard but they're too lazy to do so.
      Bart: Man, look at all this stuff... pull weeds, mow lawn, scoop and bag dog business. There's gotta be a way out of this. Lisa! Chop off my hands!
      Lisa: No! Then who'd chop off my hands?
      Bart: All right, you chop my hands halfway off, and then, I'll still have enough strength to chop—
      Marge: Get to work!
    • In "I'm With Cupid", Apu is showering his wife, Manjula, with elaborate gifts everyday leading up to Valentine's Day. Homer and a few of the other guys start to get annoyed because their wives wish to be treated that way as well, so they end up spending the day trying to follow him around and see what he's up to, and try to put a stop to it. Flanders eventually lampshades this, noting that instead of spending a whole day trying to stalk and sabotage Apu's plans, they could be trying to put that effort into actually doing something nice for their wives. He gets thrown out of the car for that.
    • "I am Furious (Yellow)" has Homer lose the remote, and rather than walking across the room to the TV set to change the channel, he starts tearing apart the couch looking for the remote. (It was eaten by the family dog.)
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Richard is a master of this. In "The Laziest", he manages to set off an unlikely chain of events started by blowing on a piece of paper in order to get pizza from the kitchen without having to get off the couch. The same episode shows he literally won a laziness contest back in "the summer of '83" against the previous champion, Larry the rock, meaning Larry is being quite literal when he calls Richard "lazier than a rock".
    • Also, in one episode, Gumball travels back in time to avoid changing the title of an email. Granted, it was in his imagination, but he was planning to do it for real.
  • Teen Titans: When Cyborg and Beast Boy were searching for a lost remote, Cyborg took Raven's suggestion of walking over to the TV for a tasteless joke.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Dexter's father finds the idea of walking over to the TV so horrible he doesn't have the courage to tell Dexter people used to do it before the remote control was invented. (He thought Dexter was screaming because the remote was missing, he was actually screaming because he was wearing a pair of x-ray specs and had just watched his father sit spreadlegged in his recliner)
  • In Dan Vs. "The Boss", Dan goes to great lengths to avoid doing any real work on his first day at the office and doesn't understand why he's so tired. Chris tells him that looking busy is usually harder than actually being busy, and suggests that maybe Dan should just do his job.
  • In the PBS Kids version of The Berenstain Bears, both "By the Sea" and "Up and Down" exemplify this, with Brother/Sister and Papa respectively trying to avoid work but ending up doing about twice as much in the process until they learn their lesson.
  • "Franklin's Day Off" from Franklin has An Aesop of sorts about this. Franklin spends most of the episode dealing with problems he wouldn't have had if he had just done the work was supposed to do instead of putting it off, such as needing a rake that was holding up the Blanket Fort he didn't take down in order to rake up leaves which have buried a bicycle pump that he wouldn't have had trouble finding if he had put it away properly in the first place.
  • The DuckTales (2017) episode "The Great Dime Chase" sees a version of this in action, as Louie's attempts to avoid doing hard work result in him being forced to put in greater effort than if he'd just done what Scrooge had told him to do in the first place.
  • Legends of Chamberlain Heights has Malik admonish his older brother Montell about how much effort he puts into being a lazy stoner, such as making a nest of snacks next to the couch before he gets high.
  • In the Unikitty! episode "R & Arr," Unikitty and Puppycorn go to absurd lengths to stay on the couch so "Lazy Sunday" won't end. Richard even points out that all the effort they're putting into avoid doing their chores could have just been used to do the chores.
  • Throughout South Park, Eric Cartman has often put aside his usual lazy attitude to attempt various elaborate methods of achieving his goals rather than take the obvious option. These range from trying to avoid studying for a test by attempting to deliberately trigger a flashback of history (one such method involved using TiVo to record fifty hours of the History Channel and an elaborate system to drop him and the TiVo box into a pool of water), to opening his own real estate firm to put his mother out of business so that she could devote herself to him full-time.
  • The Futurama episode "Benderama" starts with Bender furious that he's been asked to fold two sweaters, because that's "two things." He uses Farnsworth's replicator to make two copies of himself to do it for him, both of which are equally unwilling to do the job and equally willing to duplicate themselves, resulting in a near-apocalypse. By the end of the episode, he's the only one who can save the planet, which he refuses to do until Fry offers to fold the sweaters for him.
    Bender: Both of them? You mean you'll do two things, and I only have to do one thing?
    Fry: Yeah. Just save the world.
    Bender: Heh heh heh. Sucker.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has a one-off group of villains known as Robin Food and his Hungry Men. They're MO is to rob the school lunches of kids and give it to the elderly. What Robin doesn't know (or does and chooses to ignore it) is that the senior citizens he gives the food to don't actually want it, as it wreaks Hell on their digestions. So what brought this mission of his? Robin and his men are actually the cafeteria staff at the Sure Would Retirement Home, and they steal kid's lunches because they're too lazy to cook the old people's food like they're supposed to.
  • Pat and Mat have this as their entire reason for existing. Instead of painting windows, making jam, fixing car etc. the usual way, they will build rickety contraptions to automatise the task, which always results in ruining half of the house.
  • The Shape Island episode "Triangle Gets Carried Away" has Triangle building a Humongous Mecha to automate the task of... dunking his donuts in his coffee.

    Real Life 
  • Many TV viewers have torn their room apart looking for a missing TV remote control when they could just walk over to the TV and change the channel that way. Though, on a lot of newer TVs you can't really do that if you're watching anything but local broadcasts. Same goes for disc players without the buttons necessary to navigate the menus on a movie. That said, in many cases it does reach the point where it would be easier and less time-consuming to just go out and buy a universal remote control (which usually will work with most devices) than keep searching. Or these days, download a universal remote app for your smartphone.
  • A recurring story from many educators is the at-times ridiculous lengths that some students will go to in order to cheat their way through an assessment piece or to pass a test without doing the "work", to the point where it would probably be both easier and less time-consuming to simply study properly and receive an honest grade for it.
  • This is an occupational hazard for many programmers. Quite often for simple tasks they'll end up spending longer writing the code to have the computer do something for them than if they'd just done it manually. Sometimes this ends up being justified later if that code turns out to be reusable/adaptable for something else. In fact, the creator of the modern computer Konrad Zuse claimed that he created the computer to do math because "he felt too lazy to do the computing himself." In other words, programmers engaging in this trope are actually honoring his spirit.
  • On a related note, back in the '90s British gaming mag PC Zone once reviewed a piece of software that created crossword puzzles through Procedural Generation, providing an endless supply of low-key entertainment without leaving the comfort of your Hacker Cave. Cool idea, but unfortunately, it turned out to take over half an hour to generate each puzzlenote  By which time, as the reviewer wryly noted, you could have walked to the newsagent's and back to get a book of crossword puzzles and likely finished a couple of them.
  • Generally humans will go to absolutely insane lengths to find an easier way to do things, that's the whole principle behind inventing things - 'necessity is the mother of invention', after all. Albert Einstein cited this very fact as the reason he preferred these types to hard workers; a lazy person who finds a simpler, more efficient way to accomplish something can be more useful than someone who insists on doing things the "right" way, even when it makes no sense to do so.
  • Douglas Adams claimed to be this in Last Chance to See when he encountered a bird called a Megapode that exhibits similar traits: megapodes create large and elaborate nests of decaying vegetable matter to incubate their eggs, continually adding and taking away materials to keep it the right temperature in a seemingly far less efficient process than just sitting on the eggs like a normal bird. To drive the similarity to himself home, Adams admits he wrote a program to calculate the volume of this nest that took far more time to create than working it out by hand would have, and he now has a program that can calculate the volume of megapode nests that he will likely never use again.
  • Anytime you see a disaster or scandal being covered up, chances are that the effort and money went into doing so can be easier applied to actually fixing the issue itself. Not to mention it would obviously make better PR. For example, Chernobyl's meltdown wasn't made public to the nearby towns after around 36 hours.
  • It's commonly joked that an engineer's job description boils down to this trope.


Video Example(s):


Papa Bear Goes Up and Down

In "The Berenstain Bears Go Up and Down" from the PBS animated series, Papa Bear won't listen to Sister Bear's advice of making a list of things they need for their fishing trip. So poor Papa ends up exhausted from going up and down the stairs umpteen times in a musical montage, and the entire group is miserable from being in a boat in the hot sun, hungry and thirsty without catching any fish, and then being caught unprepared for a sudden storm.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / LaboriousLaziness

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