Follow TV Tropes


One-Hour Work Week

Go To
It's hard to adjust to a day job after being a freelance Mad Scientist.

Bartlet: I don't understand. Don't any of these characters have jobs?
Charlie: I don't know, Mr. President. I think one of them is a surgeon.
Bartlet: They seem to have a lot of free time in the middle of the day.

Characters who are always available to participate all day in whatever hijinks the story calls for, regardless of going into work to earn a living wage. If they are acknowledged to have a job it is often vaguely-defined and yet pays so well that the character conveniently has disposable income and a lot of free time. This free time is open to any point of the day and leaves plenty of opportunity for a Zany Scheme or caper or two. Usually you'll rarely see the job actually performed, except in a few throwaway scenes, and don't expect the character's job to ever be a plot point. Somehow it always pays enough for a fancy place with "Friends" Rent Control.

The reason for this trope is based on the Anthropic Principle; if the characters are unavailable due to mundane work responsibilities, then the story cannot happen. Playing hooky and having adventures while you're supposed to be working is a poor work ethic. Unless you have the kind of job that can include globe-trotting adventures (such as an international superspy), no audience wants to watch someone at work.

The trope is sometimes justified in that the character is Secretly Wealthy (via inheritance or winning a big lawsuit) and only have a part-time for their own amusement, interest or for "fun money". It could also be their living conditions are so inexpensive (such as "Friends" Rent Control or Basement-Dweller) that they don't need to check in every day. And note too that just because their job is unknown or unseen doesn't mean this trope is in effect. It's when you only ever see them with a lot of free time and disposable income, doing things at any point during the day, that this causes Fridge Logic. A homeless person living in a cardboard box has a lot of free time, but they are expressly impoverished. If they are their own boss they often set their own schedule and can drop a few days at whim knowing they have to make it up on the back end. If they end up fired or otherwise unemployed and the story is about what they do next, see Out of Job, into the Plot.

For the childhood equivalents of this trope, see Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now? (where the characters don't seem to go to school) and School of No Studying (where the characters do go to school but don't ever seem to think about their studies or do homework). Compare The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything (who are literally their profession In Name Only and don't loot or kill), Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation (when the profession isn't even named), and the Gentleman Adventurer, and Socialite (who have money and interests and may dabble in a profession, but are not presented as holding down a real full-time job).

This can also be contrasted to shows that take place primarily around the profession (when the profession itself is exciting enough, such as surgeons or detectives, or can be made exciting through creative license), where the focus can be almost entirely on the work itself. Examples are Grey's Anatomy for medical drama, Band of Brothers for drama about soldiers, and M*A*S*H for both.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Soun Tendo's job in Ranma as city councilor seems to give him an inordinate amount of free time (enough for a few training trips and playing shogi all day with Genma), yet yields enough cash to pay the taxes and bills on his Big Fancy House and attached dojo, plus the costs of martial artist-induced repairs, as well as support his daughters, and still fit in family holidays to the seaside or mountains. He does complain about the bills, but it's only been twice in the entire anime and manga that they've ever been shown to be a problem and one of those was immediately after the Saotomes show up implying it was more of an immediate liquidity problem than gross income issues.
  • Kanon:
    • Not even Nayuki knows what her mother does for a living. The hours and pay seem very good, though, as she is still there with no sign of leaving soon at eight AM and will be there whenever Yuuichi gets home from school as well!
    • Not to mention that Ayu goes to a school that lets her come and go basically whenever she wants, and doesn't even require a uniform. The explanation for this is finally given near the end, though, and turns out to be an important plot point.
    • Averted with Makoto, who takes a job but quits immediately so she can stay home reading manga and playing with her cat.
  • Yotsuba&!: Mr. Koiwai is a trainspotter translator, which basically means he works from home on his computer and can set his own hours provided he meets his deadline. Of course, this serves as a good excuse to have him home with lots of free time to play with his daughter, Yotsuba. Note, however, that being a working-at-home translator is indeed a real occupation and we do see Mr. Koiwai working a fair bit; he often requests that Yotsuba not disturb him sometimes in order to get more work done, giving her a perfect excuse to spend time with friends or neighbors.
  • Deconstructed in episode 8 of Best Student Council. On the eve of a difficult exam, one character remarks that the protagonist, Rino, has done nothing but play ever since she arrived at the school, leaving her unprepared for the test. Rino spends the rest of the episode studying and barely passes.
  • Lampshaded in Durarara!!, where Mikado and Anri are surprised to learn that Walker and Erika actually do have jobs—Erika makes jewelry, and Walker's an ice-sculptor. They're freelance, though, so their schedules are flexible.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist plays with this. Ed is a state alchemist for the military, but seems free to swan off with his brother to Dublinth, wander the countryside without any immediate obligation to call in or report, and even act against the government's plots without bothering to inform his superiors. When he DOES do something like fight off terrorists, it's often because he ended up in the situation by accident. He is also clearly paid a ridiculously large sum of money for this, including a research grant of which he spends fairly casually. It's shown early on that most State Alchemists are supposed to either do research or fight as Super Soldiers, and even though most people would guess that Edward is doing the latter, he's officially supposed to be researching the Philosopher's Stone... which he is. In a heavily mobile fashion. At one point he's shown remembering he has to submit his research findings to keep his position, and he just shrugs and throws together some bullshit on the train, since he's so good he makes it look easy, and/or he's too good for the State to risk giving up and knows it. It turns out that the government already knew all about the Stone, and what he tracks down initially is mostly his employers' evil schemes, but that's okay, because the program wasn't actually instituted to increase alchemical knowledge or even harness Super Soldiers; it's a trap for potential human sacrifices.
  • The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer averts it, but mostly because the villain is Affably Evil. Only a handful of the Beast Knights have regular jobs, and several have full-time classes, but the villain considers it all a game and is willing to work around the schedules of the "other players" (and his minions and super weapon take a lot of time to prepare anyway, so no rush). As such, most fights happen on weekends and holidays, or in the evening. Of the Beast Knights, only one was likely to be seriously inconvenienced: Nagumo, a police detective who quit his job and lived off his savings and lottery winnings to avert this trope, and also because he'd grown disgusted with corruption in the force.
  • Magellan, the chief warden of Impel Down from One Piece, only worked about four hours a day, but this was justified. He ate poisoned food to fuel the lethality of his Doku Doku no Mi Devil Fruit power (and admits that he enjoys the flavor), and while it gave him the power to create the deadliest poisons imaginable, it also gave him terrible diarrhea, requiring him to spend ten hours a day in the bathroom. Given that he also had to sleep, he could only work about four hours a day. Still, he did an admiral job running the place until the mass breakout.
  • Averted in Re: Cutie Honey and the live action counterpart. Honey has A LOT of free time, but is revealed that she simply doesn't work when she should. To compensate, she works over time till late hours.
  • In Monster Musume, Kimihito is mentioned to have a part-time job, but he's never shown working. He is receiving a lot of government assistance thanks to hosting seven monster girls in his house, and some of the girls eventually start contributing as well (Mero's mother provides Mero a stipend, Rachnee sells her silk to a research lab, and Miia and Centorea both get jobs).
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Trowa takes on a position as a clown/acrobat in a traveling circus to keep the fact that he's, well, a Gundam pilot, secret. But he's only seen in a few odd performances here and there, and early on gets in trouble for being late (or almost late). He's never seen practicing routines, or attending meetings, and has plenty of time to do Gundam pilot (and later Preventer) stuff.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain America: During the Gruenwald run, Steve gets a job as a comic book artist (for some pokey company called "Marvel"). This gives him ample free time to go off doing Captain America stuff, so long as he sends his sketches in on time.
  • Superman:
    • Lois Lane can be like this.
    • Clark Kent as well — Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster wanted him to have a job where he could plausibly disappear for hours a day to save the world without raising too much suspicion from his co-workers. Also, with his super speed, Clark could easily have several op-ed pieces ready to turn in quite quickly.
    • In the 70's Superman Family comics, Linda Danvers -Supergirl's secret identity- worked as a student advisor in Florida. She was often late, took sudden and unexplained leaves of absence, and disappeared for hours a day— sometimes as she was mentoring a student. When the campus administrator called her out for keeping odd hours and being consistently late, she replied her contract states she makes her own hours.
  • Tintin is supposedly a journalist. He introduces himself as a journalist and occasionally takes out a book to take notes in an interview, but really he's a detective in all but name. We see him working as a journalist in the early adventures. You could also assume that he writes about his many adventures.
  • Blacksad's sidekick Weekly, a scrawny little weasel journalist, tries to convince Blacksad that the nickname is because his work is so good that he can get away with only showing up at the office once a week or so. Eventually he admits that it's because the pungent odor Blacksad noticed when they first met has given rise to an office rumor that "weekly" is how often he bathes. He never elaborates on how often he actually shows up at the office, so he might be encouraged to stay out in the field to save his coworkers from his scent, but he evidently wasn't kidding about the quality of his work, because either way he's still employed.
  • Nearly literal for Mandy Krieger of American Flagg! She has a legitimate job as the air traffic controller for O'Hare Chicago Plexport... which only has two flights per week.
  • Over the years this has been both played straight and subverted with Hal Jordan. His usual job is test pilot, which means he's expected to be flying pretty expensive machinery that needs to be tested as part of the development and production process. Delays are extremely expensive. Sometimes his long absences as a space cop become an issue, but just as often they don't. It helps that his on again off again girlfriend is his boss and now knows his secret identity.
  • Ms. Marvel (1977): Carol runs "Ms." magazine, and often is seen working on or following up on stories she's investigating. However, she's also a superhero and for some bizarre reason tends to end up fighting supervillains in the middle of this, or having a split-personality crisis, or spies trying to kill her, rather than being in the office. Eventually, this does have a Surprisingly Realistic Outcome. Her editor fires her.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Diana Prince is meant to be a USAAF secretary, and while she is shown at work she seems to show up, greet her boss, and then jump out the window to go do some superheroing rather than actually stick around and work unless it's going to introduce her to someone plot relevant. She also has time to travel the country and world at the drop of a hat without ever being rebuked and seems to spend more time on "vacation" than working.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot:
    • Andy is (or was) a columnist, but this hasn't really been shown or mentioned since about 1995 and now she just seems to be a stay-at-home mom. Even Roger is rarely shown at work, even though there are a lot of strips in which he leaves for work or returns from work.
    • There have been a few strip arcs that focus on Roger's job, such as the one where he quit to spend more time with his children. When that failed, he returned to humbly ask for his old job back, and was hired back on the grounds that with him gone, the office's computers haven't crashed in months and everybody was stressed out from all the work.
  • Zits:
    • Connie (Jeremy's mother) was a child psychologist trying to write a book, but this was almost completely dropped after the first year and hasn't been seen in the last decade.
    • Walt, Jeremy's dad, averts the trope. He's an orthodontist, and he has, on occasion, been known to recognize people by their teeth.
  • Averted in Calvin and Hobbes, where Calvin's dad is specifically stated to be a patent attorney. Admittedly, a patent attorney who still has plenty of time for biking, reading, and telling his son outrageous fibs, but there have been several strips where his working was relevant, usually in the context of not being able to play with Calvin.
  • The protagonists of the German comic Lula und Yankee also qualify: Lula plays in a girls' rock band (OK, they have one guy, but everyone overlooks him). Yankee doesn't seem to have a job at all.
  • Cutter John from Bloom County is a particularly big example; we're told he's the new town doctor in his first appearance, but we never see him doing anything remotely medical. Maybe Bloom County's residents are just so healthy that he has all the time he needs to make out with his girlfriend and play Star Trek with the local Talking Animals.
  • Angus Og:
    • Everytime Angus gets a job it turns into one of these, mainly due to Angus's insistence on pursuing Get Rich Quick Schemes on the side. It is almost always the reason that Angus loses the job too. One stand out was when he was appointed "Midge Warden" for the island, but only after the demonic insects in question had already been banished, so did nothing but drive the warden's van around.
    • Subverted in that every time he is officially unemployed he actually has to do full time work on the family croft.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Caddyshack, Ty Webb mentions that he thinks he owns a lumber yard. When caddy Danny Noonan notes he doesn't spend much time there, his response is he doesn't know where it is. Ty is depicted as so fabulously wealthy that he has uncashed checks for thousands of dollars strewn throughout his house.
  • Apparently most of the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz. They sing, "We get up at twelve and start to work at one, / Take an hour for lunch and then at two we're done! Jolly good fun!" (This can't be fully literal, since the heroes do get some work done on them in preparation to meet the wizard.)
  • Sonny Koufax, the protagonist of Big Daddy, works in a New York City toll booth only one day each week. He gets a lot of grief from his dad for this, since he's a law-school graduate and should really be studying for his bar exam. It's explained that he made a killing in a lawsuit involving a car accident and has invested it very wisely since, so his job income is only supplementary.
  • The Mommy Market in Trading Mom is only open for one hour per week, giving customers very little time to decide on a new mom.
  • Subverted in Delivery Man. It is mentioned repeatedly that David's misadventures throughout the movie are occurring while he is supposed to be delivering meat.
  • Jake Moore in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps has a bewildering amount of free time for someone who is reportedly a top proprietary trader at a very large financial firm. Even during the infamous market crash of 2008 a trader would be glued to his desk for ten hours a day if not more, but Jake spends more time out of his office than in it.
  • American Psycho: Part of the satire is that Patrick Bateman and his colleagues don't actually do anything at their company. They spend all their time gossiping, comparing business cards, and scheduling lunches at trendy restaurants. When Bateman is actually in his office, he's either watching television, listening to music, or looking at porn.
  • Lisa in The Room (2003) has a job in "the computer business," whatever that is. Yet she seems to spend all her time sitting around the house. At one point, she tells her mother that she's meeting with a client, but it's just as likely Lisa was just trying to get rid of her.
  • Love Hard:
    • We see Natalie in her office only twice. Her chief also mentions her column isn't weekly, and, to her dismay, she doesn't write anything else.
    • Josh also only works once, and spends this time teaching Natalie how to climb a wall. Justified he works for his father's store, it's Christmastime, and his family wants him to engage with Natalie.
  • Crazy, Stupid, Love: Cal spends only one scene at his desk job, with the rest of his screentime spent sulking, shopping, schmoozing, or interacting with his family. Lampshaded when Jacob finds him day drinking and comments that he should be at work; Cal comments that he has a lot of vacation time.

  • The new boss gathers all the employees and outlines his labor policy to them: "Ok, guys. On Monday, we're recovering from the weekend, so obviously no hard work there. On Tuesday, we're getting ready for Wednesday, on Wednesday we are working really hard. A Thursday is almost a Friday, so obviously no hard work there either, and Friday is the short day and stuff, we'll be getting ready for the weekend. Any questions?" "Yeah. How long is this Wednesday bullshit gonna keep going?"
  • What does Santa Claus do the other eleven months of the year? Sleep? Hold fundraising events? Play golf and go skin diving? Go on vacation in Bermuda? Jokes about that happen all the time.

  • The landowners in Jane Austen's novels seem to personify this trope (Mr. Darcy, for example).
    • Pretty much the definition of a 'gentleman' in Austen's world is a landowner who receives rents and therefore doesn't actually have to do anything. Darcy, we know, didn't even have to administrate renting the land he owned - he could afford that to be contracted out to a steward. (Wickham was the son of his father's steward.)
    • Even those gentlemen in Austen who technically have jobs as clergymen are usually like this (Edmund Bertram takes the job a bit more seriously, but only because he chooses to). This was Truth in Television at the time (see below.)
  • Patrick Bateman in American Psycho seems to have one of these types of jobs—it's a high-paying position in a prestigious Manhattan firm, but he never seems to ever do that much actual work and appears to have lots of free time on his hands. This is probably one of the things that contributes to his extracurricular pursuits...
    • It's implied that this is common in the company. Bateman's job is "Vice President of Mergers and Acquisitions." Sounds impressive, but there are at least four others working at the company; in fact, they form his social circle. None are ever shown doing any work.
    • There are many positions in the finance industry that require long hours on paper, but the actual amount of work that needs to be done can vary; the reason for the long hours is that the job is basically to be on call to take care of clients' requests as quickly as possible at whatever time of day they need something done. So some days you get a call at 5 AM because your client in Taiwan needs something right now and you work your ass off to get it done, while other days there's not much going on.
  • Helen from I Know What You Did Last Summer has landed a very cushy gig as the local weather girl. She usually only has to go into work in the afternoon, and only for a few hours at a time. Her older sister Elsa who works long hours at the family business is very jealous.
  • Buck from Left Behind is ostensibly a reporter, but is not only never seen doing any work, but the work that he does do is pretty mediocre, based on few examples the audience is shown. In the first book it's even worse; he travels all over the world doing interviews, but doesn't actually write articles based on most of them.
  • Malone (after quitting his lawyer job) and Sutherland in Andrew Holleran's Dancer From The Dance. More generally, as noted here, literature for gay men tends to use this trope a lot.
  • The Cat Who... Series: Qwilleran is a columnist of this sort. His column is mentioned pretty frequently, but doesn't curtail him solving murders, taking up esoteric hobbies, and traveling all over the place. (And since he owns the newspaper — through a trust fund he had previously set up to deal with an inheritance — it's not like he needs to work. He just likes doing it so he doesn't get bored.)
  • Sherlock Holmes' friend Dr. Watson is portrayed in his capacity as a doctor maybe four times in sixty stories, and that's if you really stretch it. One Sherlockian scion society is actually named "Dr. Watson's Neglected Patients". This could be a sly allusion to Arthur Conan Doyles's own life; like Watson, Doyle tried to establish a medical practice a few times but all of them failed, so he finally gave up and devoted himself to writing full-time instead. The stories do at least nod to this; Watson occasionally mentions at the onset of a case that busy periods in his practice had prevented him from seeing Holmes for a while, and when he does drop everything to run off with Holmes on a case it's sometimes mentioned that his practice has been experiencing a dry patch that has left him with little to do. On other occasions, his wife also encourages him to hang out with Holmes to unwind because he's been overworked.
  • Kitty Norville is a radio talk-show host, and a werewolf. Luckily this means she only has to show up for work once a week, in the middle of the night. (On workdays when the moon is full, they have to run an old "Best Of The Midnight Hour" tape.)
  • In Jinx High, Diana specifically tells the students in her writing seminar that writing is not this trope; she spends at least 8 hours per day at her desk.
  • Ready Player One has Wade putting in one day at his technical support job, as a way to explain how he's paying for his fairly expensive immersion rig and in-game costs. The reader sees him putting in one day, and it's not mentioned again.
  • The Twilight Saga: In New Moon, Bella gets a job at the hiking equipment store that Mike's mother owns. Not only does Edward have a very easy time getting her let off of shifts for things like her birthday, but there's at least one time when Bella is simply sent home as soon as she arrives for her shift on the grounds that there isn't enough work for her that day. Possibly justified as Forks is a small town, so the store likely doesn't get too busy. Less understandable is Carlisle's job as a doctor, which he seems able to skip out on frequently for "family camping trips" (really to stay indoors when it's too sunny) and quit at a moment's notice when the family leaves Forks in the second book; there's never any mention of consequences for this. By Breaking Dawn, there's no mention at all of him going to work.
  • While this is a popular trope in novels for gay men, These Words Are True and Faithful averts it. Sam and Ernie meet because of their jobs (a lawyer and a police officer, they meet at the courthouse complex). Later, Ernie can cheat on Sam more easily because of their different work schedules.
  • Verging on What Exactly Is Her Job, The Peer Girl implies this as one line mentions that the titular's work hours are flexible. Naturally, to ones she's explaining her job to wonder if she's not doing anything, when she really has an uncommon job.
  • Invoked by Nero Wolfe, who is incredibly lazy and strictly manages his schedule and the payments he receives for the cases he does solve in order to make sure he has to work as little as possible. It's not quite literally one hour a week, but there's times that it comes as close as being so, and if he does have to work more than he deems necessarily he'll make sure you know how much he resents it.
  • In The Magicians, this is an option for magicians who are stricken by the old "I Just Want to Be Normal" urge, their status as Brakebills graduates allowing them access to important-sounding jobs with good salaries and enchantments set up to disguise the fact that they do absolutely nothing apart from waste time on the Internet. This is the most wretched level of existence for a qualified magician, not to mention the most hypocritical - especially since it's not uncommon for the recipients of such benefits to imagine themselves more mature than the magicians that maintain their luxurious lifestyle. Quentin Coldwater ends up in this position following his Heroic BSoD at the end of the book, but eventually gives up on it after meeting Emily Greenstreet and realizing he can't keep running away from his problems.
  • The Scholomance: Wizards often use magic to find or create mundane jobs without any actual duties or time requirements, providing them an income and cover identity in Muggle society.
    The person who retires from the firm after forty-six years and no one quite remembers what they were doing, the befuddled librarian that you occasionally glimpse wandering the stacks without seeming to do anything, the third vice president of marketing who shows up only for meetings with senior management; that sort of thing.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Literally true for the Fraggles of Fraggle Rock — one first-season episode is actually called "The Thirty-Minute Work Week."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Player characters in The World of Darkness games tend to have jobs like this. Many PCs are musicians, since on paper, it grants them the flexibility needed to be Vampires/Werewolves/Mages/whatever and still pay their bills on time. In practice however, they don't perform or tour nearly enough to support themselves on their music alone. One of the freelance writers for White Wolf, Matt McFarland, has said he's surprised most PCs don't take the private eye/Occult Detective route. What with the mind-reading and mind controlling powers of vampires, the scent tracking and shapeshifting abilities of werewolves, and the... well, everything of mages, it would be a snap.
  • In Genius: The Transgression it is mentioned that mad scientists tend to need a lot of funds for their experiments. The pdf suggests that a player character's income should be explicitly stated and offers some suggestions to the drawbacks of each. Admittedly not all the jobs listed earn enough to both pay the bills and fund a secret laboratory but then, a lack of money is stated to be one of the common problems facing mad scientists.
  • It can come up for player characters in d20 Modern as well. Unless the PCs explicitly work for someone or something that pays them to adventure, then it's very easy for their day jobs to get eclipsed by the events of the game. The Profession skill exists explicitly to enable this - you take it, and it represents having a day job that you handle in your downtime during and between adventures. Unless your GM wants to be strict about realism or to make work issues part of the story, you rarely need ever acknowledge even what your job is after character creation.
  • Shadowrun characters can actually take a disadvantage of having a job they have to attend and that pays them. You can get points for having to turn up for as little as 10 hours a week and get a regular income. This being Shadowrun, most PCs don't even try hard to pretend to have a legal job.

  • Tamagotchi: The Entama/Uratama and V4/V4.5 all have the Tamagotchi growing up and getting a job, but the Tamagotchi can only go when you tell them to. Furthermore, they'll only be there a few minutes, and on the English toys, the job is a minigame and the daily pay depends on how often this minigame is played.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Phoenix Wright works hard when he gets a case, about once every three months. On the other hand his lack of funds is a running joke. He stays afloat but Maya's hamburger addiction takes its toll on his wallet.
    • The games are also a bit inconsistent regarding Phoenix's workload. Sometimes it drops hints that we're only seeing the most interesting of his cases, and other times the game implies that the cases featured in the games are the only ones he's ever taken. One example of the former comes from Maya suggesting that Phoenix puts up photos of all the defendants he's gotten acquitted. Phoenix then thinks to himself "But what about the cases we've lost?" One possible explanation is that he takes cases that don't involve going to court.
    • In the fourth game, he's a professional poker player. His daughter also chips in as a magician, as well as Apollo's assistant, and is implied to work really hard at her job.
    • Also in that game is Klavier Gavin, international rock star and prosecutor. Not only was he a musician before he became a prosecutor, he's clearly working hard at prosecuting as well. The other members of his police-themed band are also in law enforcement.
  • It's a great puzzlement to the cast of Tsukihime as to what Arihiko's sister actually does for a living. So far, they know she's not a writer or a couple of other odd jobs.
  • Averted in The Sims. When a Sim leaves to work it's usually 8 hours during which (s)he is unavailable to the player.
    • Played straight, however, when the Sim gets their income from producing things (ex. paintings, books, toys, lawn gnomes...) or is self-employed.
  • Professor Layton is an archaeology professor. The number of times throughout the games he can be seen doing anything related to archaeology or being a professor can be counted on one hand.
    • From the third game on, one of the locations is the University Layton works at. No one there seems to mind the fact that he just wanders in and out at his leisure. And bear in mind he's Flora's legal guardian, so he's actually got two mouths to feed. Luke doesn't count, as it's mentioned in Unwound Future that he lives with his parents.
    • Averted in Azran Legacy: The plot involves actual archaeology from the outset, and Layton arranges for support from the university and a substitute teacher while he goes on an expedition.
  • Persona 3, Persona 4, and Persona 5 have a variation, as the Player Character can take on a variety of part-time jobs and maintain a completely random schedule without getting fired. You can go one day, get paid for that one day, and then not come back for months... but the job will still be waiting for you. Persona 4 sort-of justifies it with several of the jobs, which are work-from-home projects that don't have a fixed schedule but instead pay based on output, but others like day-care work and tutoring (Although the tutee does eventually decide that he doesn't need any more tutoring and cancel the job) fall right back into the same problems. Persona 5 justifies it with the places you can work being so desperate for help that they don't care if you don't show up for months- if you're there and willing to put on a uniform they'll take you (and even offer bonuses for simply showing up on especially hectic days).
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, at the end of their storyline the Sith Inquisitor gains a seat on The Empire's Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering as the head of the "Sphere of Ancient Knowledge" tasked with researching ancient Sith artifacts. The most archaeology the Player Character actually does aside from sending their companions out to fetch crafting components from dig sites is a brief cutscene at the beginning of one of the expansions where they're studying an ancient tablet only to be interrupted by the Call to Adventure. Although to be fair, they gained their position through a Klingon Promotion rather than any sort of passion for the field and the Forever War effort takes priority.

  • Justified: the hour in question is the live broadcasts of the reality show, Last Res0rt. Of course, when your job can kill you, it's implied the rest of your time better be spent finding a way to avoid that fate, and to be fair they're filmed for the purposes of the show (and general security) 24/7 anyway. Still, they're not exactly shown using the rest of their time pumping weights or other military-like regimens, though this could just as easily be blamed on the pace of the comic.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, the human main characters certainly go on spontaneous extended adventures that take a lot of time, but the trope is rarely just played straight. It's justified with Riff at the start, because it turns out he's being secretly paid by a shady company that thinks his inventions may turn up something useful. Torg, meanwhile, is a normal freelancer at the beginning, so he can set his own schedule to some extent, and he does have to worry about it at times. Zoë starts out as a student and has to take that pretty seriously. Later, the main characters are either a) broke and unemployed so they don't have a job to worry about, b) too rich to need to work, c) actually working, or, d), in a parody of this trope, supposed to be working a day job but in danger of getting kicked out of it because they think they can just come and go however they like.
  • Parodied in Shortpacked!: Robin spends most of her working hours in a toy store, despite having been elected to Congress during a Cadbury Creme Egg induced sugar rush. No one seems to care about this. Robin has also repeatedly stated that she considers her Congresswoman position to be "just a hobby" and prefers the reduced responsibility of her job at Shortpacked (which fits completely with her character). However, her congressional position has been used as the focus for a few storylines, especially when she's up for re-election.
  • Lampshaded by Jean in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, since we'd seen Bob actually working at his newsstand (which should be a pretty time-consuming job) a grand total of once over the first five story arcs. Later stories have made it clear that Bob misses work a lot because of his adventures, and his customers don't appreciate it.
  • At first played straight, then later averted in Questionable Content: Coffee of Doom is half the cast's job. On the other hand, Marten was originally a cube-worker that only had a few strips of actual workplace (and half of them were after he got fired), and then he became a librarian at Smif (and his boss became a tertiary member of the cast.)
  • Living with Insanity averts this with Alice, but plays it straight with everyone else. She's seen working a lot and being exhausted from it, but David and Paul are only occasionally seen working on their comic.
  • The comic Sequential Art shows Pip doing the eBay trading variant. Note that the graphic artist Art, the photographer Kat, and even the poet/writer Vanity are not shown to be that idle during daytimes.
    • And then the site freezes Pip's account, forcing him to get a job at a consignment store. With a hot woman who was Kat's school rival. Who manipulates and actively drugs him so he thinks they're in a real relationship, while she's actually dating a much-hotter guy and building connections to get a better job. Which effectively reduces her to a Zero Hour Work Week.
  • Zac in What the Fu lampshades that he never really understood what Dries does for a living.
  • Dr. McNinja spends relatively little time actually working as a doctor, yet has no trouble hiring contractors to rapidly rebuild his entire doctor's office after it gets blown up.
  • In Precocious nobody remembers what Gene Et's job description is or what he's responsible for. He's literally paid to sit in an out-of-the-way office and play video games all day.
    Alt Text: It's okay if you want to punch him.
  • In Better Days, Sheila is a single mom who is never shown or mentioned to have any sort of job. It's possible the roomy, two-story house she lives in was paid off before her husband (allegedly in the military, later revealed to be a member of a very well-paying undercover organization) died, but it doesn't really explain how she's able to afford plenty of food, clothing, and outings for her two children. One of her husband's old army buddies is mentioned to have given her "help" when her husband died and she was still pregnant and it's possible she received some sort of compensation following her husband's death, but it's not specified.
  • In The Bedfellows, Sheen's job at the post office doesn't show up after the first episode, and we don't even find out if Fatigue has a job until episode 29.
  • In El Goonish Shive, of the main characters who have been stated to have a part-time job (or a hobby that involves activity somewhere other than one of their houses like mystery solving or martial arts), all of them have been seen engaged in them except Sarah, whose work in a convenience store has never even been mentioned more than once and that mention was in a sketchbook strip.
    • The characters are also high school students, but are usually only shown in the hallway or cafeteria and never doing homework. However, this is a comic where it can take months or more to depict just a few hours worth of events, there's plenty of undocumented time for such things.
  • The Best Gamepiece Photocomic:
    • It was mentioned very early on that Martin apparently works at a dump, but the comic has never shown either the dump or Martin leaving to go to work there.
    • Val works at the convenience store. This is alluded to a few times, but Val's only been shown actually working there twice (here and here. (It's implied here that her manager doesn't actually care if she shows up.)

    Web Original 
  • New York Magician: Michel's job as a financial consultant allows him to take a lot of time off. Of course, it's his company, and he specifically arranged matters that way.
  • Tails of Fame has Rast Racklyn, who is mentioned to have a job at a home improvement store. At no point do we see him actually working though, despite the multiple times he says he has a job.
  • commodoreHUSTLE has featured two examples. The first is Beej, who started out as someone who explicitly wasn't strictly part of the LoadingReadyRun team and was just hanging out at the Moonbase, occasionally doing stuff, and much later was revealed to have a job: owning properties he rents out. The other was Ian, who in his introductory arc was working in the office the Moonbase shared a building with... on a vague job that apparently meant he was supposed to be in the office (mostly as the only one there) but didn't actually have much to do there. This ends as Ian takes it too far and hangs out with the LRR crew so much he neglects the little work he actually does have to do, leading to a chain of events that ends with a new paradigm for beige and Ian losing his old job and joining LRR.
  • In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Bing Lee seems to have an astounding amount of free time to throw parties and hang out with the Bennett family for a medical student who should be busy with schoolwork. Lizzie even lampshades this, saying that she doesn't know how Bing keeps finding the time to see her sister Jane as much as he does. It turns out that Bing's lack of work/studying is actually justified; he doesn't really want to become a doctor and dropped out of medical school a while ago without telling anyone outside of his family.

    Western Animation 
  • The Flintstones: Sometimes Barney's unspecified job(s) leave him plenty of free time. At other times he simply works in the quarry with Fred.
  • Comically invoked in The Jetsons as part of the series' extremely-optimistic portrayal of future automation. Mr. Spacely is portrayed as George Jetson's slave-driving boss, even when it's specified George's shift is just three hours of pressing a single button, while sitting.
  • The Simpsons:
    • There are far too many instances to list on this page regarding Homer's most common job as a nuclear safety inspector.
      Bart: Do you even have a job anymore?
      Homer: I think it's pretty obvious that I don't.
    • Given an implied Hand Wave by the fact that Mr. Burns seems to have Laser-Guided Amnesia for everything related to Homer every single week. His inability to remember Homer's name was flanderized to the point where he is incapable of remembering the man's central role in everything he's done for the past few years. As such, it seems as if even Homer has caught on to the fact that he will be forgotten, if not explicitly forgiven, for everything from multiple industrial catastrophes to flagrant dereliction of duty, and as such, can pursue his Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! with impunity. Groening himself has stated that he's lost track of how many times Homer's been fired and re-hired, so they just default to him being at work when the jokes require it.
    • It's also been stated that the best way to keep the plant safe is for Homer to not do his job.
    • In "Mobile Homer", Homer blasts Marge, who is madly Cutting Corners after he is denied insurance, for controlling the money he earns from working hard. Marge retorts by telling Homer he barely goes to work at all.
  • Family Guy:
  • For the longest time in King of the Hill, we were never treated to Boomhauer's job and how he can afford such expensive things. A few episodes suggested he worked at some sort of factory; however, the last episode reveals he is a Texas State Ranger.
    • Every character on the show falls under this trope. Some, like Peggy or Dale, hold part-time or infrequent employment while others like Bill and Nancy work regular full time jobs but still have all the time needed to screw around. The most blatant examples of this trope are Hank and Kahn; Hank works a regular 9-5 day and loves his job so much that he won't leave 10 minutes early on a Friday when he literally has nothing to do but sit at his desk and stare at the wall. An entire episode revolves around Kahn's job, in which he gets on with a 2 hour commute that is forgotten about a few episodes later. Notice that most episodes take place over several days; basically, the show falls under the rule of only showing the characters working when it suits the joke.
  • Applies varyingly in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (of all places).
    • Most often played straight with Pinkie Pie, who's rarely ever seen working at Sugercube Corner, though as that is a bakery, she could work mornings. And she has been shown working the counter several times in later seasons, when she's not a major player in the episode's plot. She seems to make most of her income as a party planner, which we see her doing all the time.
    • Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash are rarely seen "on the clock", but the unusual natures of their jobs (micromanaging the local fauna and weather, respectively) let Fluttershy set her own hours and let Rainbow do her job in "ten seconds flat." It's not really even clear if they're being compensated for doing these in the first place.
    • Averted with Twilight Sparkle (Celestia's student, seen studying more often than not, who functions as the caretaker and librarian of the library she lives in), Applejack (farmer, mainly apples), and Rarity (fashion designer and seamstress), who have several entire episodes revolving around their vocations and one of Applejack's major character flaws is pride-born workaholism.
    • Averted with Princess Celestia too, as most of the time when she appears, she's either working, delegating work, off to attend some sort of work-releated activity, or generally being diplomatic and working to keep Equestria safe and peaceful. And the comics directly state and show that her days are crammed with administrative and diplomatic trouble. And the episode "A Royal Problem" where Luna is forced to take over Celestia's duties, has her discovering just how overworked her sister is.
  • Although they work for a delivery company, the characters in Futurama are rarely seen doing deliveries, unless the plot calls for it. This has been flanderized with the new season, as the crew seem to do even less deliveries then before. Even when actually doing deliveries, they only ever deliver one, usually small package at a time with their spaceship.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants apparently has to work 6 days a week, 23 hours a day (or 24, if the joke calls for it). However, these figures only ever appear when the jokes call for them, otherwise Spongebob is free to demolish Bikini Bottom or harass Squidward every 10 minutes or so, which is constantly lampshaded by the latter.
    • His school attendance seems to be about once a month. Justified since almost every time he's there, it ends with Mrs. Puff getting injured and the school destroyed.
  • Exactly what Darkwing Duck does for a living in his civilian identity of Drake Mallard is never addressed. (In fact, this was lampshaded in one episode where some kids from "our" reality asked him that, and he was interrupted before he could answer.) It was later revealed in the comics that he had gotten a lot of money from SHUSH for being a guinea pig to test their gadgets and equipment.
  • Parodied in Sabrina: The Animated Series where Sabrina imagines herself as a Future Loser who earns money from a lemonade stand - trying to get Chloe (astronaut), Harvey (lawyer) and Pi (judge) to hang out.
  • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi: In one episode, Kaz tells Ami and Yumi he's got enough time to coach a football team because their shows only last half an hour per reel.
  • American Dad! initially averted this, but as of the TBS seasons, Stan Smith is rarely shown working at the CIA unless it fits the joke. Lampshaded in "Jeff and the Dank Ass Weed Factory":
    Stan: I came here to steal this for my job at the C.I.A. I still work there. Part-time.

    Real Life 
  • A sinecure used to be a government position (originally, a position in the Church) that gave you a fancy title and a salary, but few or no responsibilities. It was awarded to people to either reward them for past services, or to enable them to concentrate on their art (Goethe held one, for instance). As the article points out, a few straight examples are still scattered around:
    • The Master of the Mint position awarded to Isaac Newton was supposed to be one. However, much to the shock of everyone, Newton actually took it quite seriously, instituting Britain's shift to the gold standard and cracking down on counterfeiters.
    • In the Japanese corporate world would be so-called "madogiwazoku", or "window-ledge tribe", usually the senior employees who either become useless due to their age/changing business practices, or screwed up badly enough to keep them out of the real work, but who couldn't be fired because of their seniority and/or company loyalty — this is especially prevalent in companies that still practice lifetime employment. These guys will then be given some meaningless position with an important sounding title, but no real responsibilities, leaving them nothing to do but gaze out of the window for the whole day. Note that in the work-centered Japanese culture this is not an honorable position, and assigning someone to madogiwazoku is basically an unstated request to the employee to quietly retire by himself.
    • This was the original intent of being Poet laureate of the United States — aside from "promoting poetry" they don't have any real responsibilities. But the stipend for being US Poet laureate hasn't been adjusted for inflation since the position was introduced in 1937, so while it used to be a One Hour Work Week, nowadays it's more a reputation thing, or a nice bonus while you work a real job.
    • In the British Political System, the only means of resigning from Parliament is to take a paid office under the Crown, in this case, the office of Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds / Manor of Northstead.
  • Some freelance positions can appear like this, not because they never work, but because they tend to be able to stagger their hours so they can get time off at certain times. They can, for example, do a majority of their work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday so they can have Thursday and Friday off, or they can work late at night.
  • A variation for part time work can have it so that the person works one full week, then has the next off, and so on. Essentially it all adds up.
  • Workers at remote mines in Canada and Australia usually have a two-week in/two-week out work schedule. While some people jump at the job thinking having two solid weeks off is great, they often fail to note that the "two-weeks in" is a solid two weeks: 14 straight days, no days off. And those are often 12 hour work days, so over a 14 day period they'll work roughly the same amount of time in that two weeks as they would in a normal 8.5 hour / 5 day week job over a month. Many people end up not being able to deal with it, while others thrive and even have a second job in their two weeks out. The same schedule goes for on and offshore oil rig workers, but the less-confined working space and easy access to fresh air makes them a bit easier to tolerate.
  • The White House employs a full-time movie projectionist. While White House projectionists apparently do have to be "on call," it seems like a pretty cushy gig, even with presidents who are relatively avid movie-watchers.
  • Depending on the institution, subject and level, English and Welsh universities expect students to be anything from 50% to 95% 'self-guided' while still technically on a full-time course. Of course this in theory should mean they spend 50% to 95% of a working week studying in libraries or their rooms, but as they're generally young people living away from home for the first time, most of them regard their brief as this trope (and in fairness, university culture tends to be fully aware of this, or at least that changing it is a prolonged learning curve. Allegedly it stays because self-motivation is an important life skill).
  • Unlike what movies would like you to assume, sitting on a corporate board is far from a full-time job. In fact, most people sitting in them also sit on multiple other boards at the same time to fill their hours and pad their paychecks even further, as well as create vital connections to potential business partners. The ethics of this have been brought to question many times over, since in practice a surprisingly small number of people controls the grand majority of major businesses in the entire world and may hold positions in supposedly competing corporations.
  • Unlike actors for typical movies, porn actors (especially the more well-known ones) often work a full day's work for a shoot (maybe even more than 8 hours) and then have the option to take off as much time as they'd like until they need to take another job. One (well known) actress stated in an interview that she loved that it meant working two or three days a month, and making more in a day than some people make in a month.
  • Professional speakers who retired with some prestige from their job title alone. All they need to do is show up and regurgitate old speeches or ramble at will to take away bundles of money.
  • Paramilitary and mercenary types MAY get something like this if they're merely on the line instead of in the field. What it means is that they have to be on call, but they aren't out there carrying a gun 16 hours a day, so plenty of time to sleep, wank, and train. However, if they get scrambled, they have to drop everything and run to whatever's going down, whatever, wherever, whenever it is. Oh, and they're required to be available 24 hours a day. Additionally, they have to stay practiced and fit and within regulations, as well as put in team time and everything else, and go on exercise, and be there for drill.
  • Before getting sold to WME-IMG, the Ultimate Fighting Championship tended to hire its most famous and loyal retired fighters to cushy executive positions in the company with murky responsibilities, mostly to bank on their continuing popularity and respect in the sport. In one behind-the-scenes video, UFC President Dana White jokes with "Vice President of Athlete Development and Government Relations" Matt Hughes about how the retired champion actually showed up for a day of work this year. Forrest Griffin, the only fighter who actually worked hard to legitimize his position, was the only one to keep his job after the sale.
  • Yes, Prime Minister established the interesting fact that the mandatory work involved in being Britain's prime minister sums to around four hours per week of face-time in facing Parliamentary scrutiny and chairing Cabinet meetings. However, the incumbent is also a full-time Member of Parliament who has all the roles and responsibilities this position entails, and (s)he has to do their homework to be able to perform in Parliament and chair Cabinet. As the PM has to (notionally) give up all other positions and interests outside Parliament to be PM, this soon sums up to a full-time working week.
  • Harper Lee's bibliography for most of her career consisted of one novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960. (Her second novel, Go Set a Watchman, published in 2015, was actually an early draft of Mockingbird.) Its status as universal high school required reading ensured it sold consistently well year after year; when Lee died in 2016, she was earning around $3 million a year in royalties. What exactly she did with her free time is unknown; her only published works after Mockingbird were a few magazine articles.
  • Working at strip clubs goes like this. You make your own schedule (nights and hours) which, depending on what kind of earner you are, can mean working 6 days a week with full shifts lasting 8-10 hours or more, to working just 1 or 2 days a week with 4 hours or so per shift. And dancers can take off work whenever they want to, usually without being expected to call in to their club. So, ideally, they can always be available. This is because most of the time, exotic dancers are not considered employees of the clubs, they're considered independent contractors. The clubs do not pay them (in many cases they actually have to pay to dance at the club), so the clubs are less concerned about the hours they work.
  • A curious fact about inventions and discoveries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is the remarkable amount of it that was done by Anglican vicars. This was due to three factors. Firstly, the Church of England had a rule that all vicars must have a university degree, although it didn't matter what in. Secondly, vicars enjoyed good incomes, partly through tithing, but mostly rent, through the Church's status as a landowner. Thirdly, and the reason for this entry, their actual duty as vicars required them to deliver one sermon a week, and nothing else. They didn't even have to write them, as compendiums of pre-written sermons were easily available. This combination of brains, money and time meant they could devote their energies to all sorts of other things.
  • Project-centric professions like construction, film industry and seasonal maintenance (gardening, pool cleaning, power washing, etc.) are often centered around several months of really hard work followed by long periods of nothing to do. In some cases, depending on how lucrative the project is, it is about 4-5 months of 12-hour days and complete freedom the rest of the year.
    • One of the most egregious examples would be Alaskan crab fishing, where for some time the allowed fishing season for king crab was limited to just about 10 days in the late fall, and where all considerations (even about safety, eating and sleep) were basically thrown overboard, because any hour not spent fishing meant less money earned for the boat crews. A good catch, however, could easily bring enough dough for the rest of the year, especially if adding a similar (if more dangerous due to the weather) crunch for opilio crab in winter.
  • Mortuary transport in places. On-call, often with long and odd hours, but free to relax or socialize until the work phone rings; in areas such as Florida where business is slow in the hot and humid summer, making a salary from only a handful of calls in a week can be easy money. But the heavy winter immigration of tourists, cruise guests, and snowbirds (residents that move south to escape cold northern weather) from the entirety of both the rest of the US and Canada, all of which are often past retirement age...
  • Many firefighter districts will have this kind of work schedule at first glance. It is not uncommon for a firefighter to work schedule involving one 24-hour work day (most of which is spent on call), one day off, then another 24-hour work day, followed by five days off.
  • Per-diem positions. These include substitute teaching positions, many temp jobs, and a number of positions within the medical field (e.g. nurses, phlebotomists, lab techs, X-ray techs, etc.) What it means is that they get paid per shift worked. They can be used to fill in gaps in the work schedule left by someone going on vacation or calling in sick. They are also good for people who need flexible schedules, such as parents, or full-time students, or people who are looking just for a little bit of pocket money or to supplement a full-time job. It's not uncommon for per-diem workers to work only a few days out of the month. (And in the case of, say, being asked if they can come in because a full-time or part-time worker in the department called off, they can choose to come in or not.)
  • Ever seen one of those really, really tall and spindly transmission towers standing in the middle of wide open areas? Those things have high-powered light bulbs installed at strategic points including the very top, to ensure the tower is plainly visible to low-flying aircraft at any given time. There's a special caste of maintenance workers that has exactly one job: to keep these lights running. These guys are permanently on call in case one of the bulbs needs replacing, which can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours of climbing up and down the tower, depending on the weather conditions. While it is a dangerous and well-paid job, there are known cases of these climbers working a grand total of three days in an entire year.

Alternative Title(s): Informed Profession