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One-Hour Work Week

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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 in whatever hijinks the story calls for, regardless of any other commitments such as employment to earn a living wage. If they are acknowledged to have a job it is often vaguely-defined and yet pays absurdly well, enough so that the character conveniently has an enormous amount of free time. This free time is open to any point of the day and leaves plenty of opportunity for a Zany Scheme or two. Usually you'll never 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 place with "Friends" Rent Control.

The reason for this trope is based on the Anthropic Principle, if the characters are unavailable then the story cannot happen. Having adventures while you're supposed to be working is not a good work ethic (unless you have the kind of job that's a conceivable part of), and no audience wants to watch someone at work with nothing interesting going on for any long amount of time.


The trope is sometimes justified in that the character is Secretly Wealthy (via inheritance or lawsuit) and only have a minor job for their own amusement or beer money. 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, doing things at any point during the day, that this causes Fridge Logic. If they explicitly left their job, 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). Compare The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything (who are literally their profession In Name Only), Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation (when the profession isn't even named), and the Rich Idiot With No Day Job, Gentleman Adventurer, and Socialite (who have money but are not presented as holding down a real job).


This can also be contrasted to shows that take place primarily around the profession (when the profession itself is exciting enough, 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.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Soun Tendo's job in Ranma ½ 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 
  • 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.
  • 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 Cool Loser 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 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Granted Forks is a small town, but still. There's also 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. While keeping such an erratic schedule would almost certainly get him fired no matter how talented a doctor he is, there's never any mention of him getting in trouble for it. In fact, 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cheers. Diane got a lot of time off, but one of the Running Gags late in the series was that Rebecca's job at Cheers was ambiguous, at best.
  • Cliff and Clair Huxtable of The Cosby Show. Cliff is a doctor and Clair is a lawyer, yet they are somehow always available to spend quality time with their kids whenever necessary. Cliff does have the excuse that his medical office is apparently in the basement of their brownstone, but Clair's status is unexplained.
    • Word Of God said that Cliff was originally supposed to be a limo driver to explain why he was around during the day but they thought parents arguing with their children would be funnier if the parents considered themselves educated.
  • Tommy's job on Martin was never stated by the writers and Martin himself always insisted he didn't have one, which became a running gag on the show.
  • Friends lampshaded this in one episode, where the Friends note that their bosses don't seem to like them... at which point Joey points out that this may be because they're hanging out at a coffee house at 11:30 on a Wednesday morning.
    • Chandler and Rachel have ordinary office jobs, but seem to take lunch breaks for hours at a time.
    • Ross in later seasons is a university professor, a career involving not only teaching but tons of grading papers, tutorials and your own research — but he seems to go to campus once a week at most.
    • Monica has several character arcs about her career as a restaurant chef, a job that normally involves 14 hour days, 7 days a week, but she seems to work about as much as Joey when he's unemployed.
    • And Joey himself should have incredibly long work hours as a daily soap opera star, or be filling his days with auditions as a struggling actor. To be fair, he is known to frequently forget about auditions and show up late for work.
  • Coupling has a... variable approach to this. Most of the characters have jobs (Patrick is a banker, Jeff, Susan, and Julia work in the same office doing something-or-other, Sally runs a beauty parlour, Jane is a local radio broadcaster, and of course Oliver has his shop), but they all seem able to skip work whenever the plot requires it. Steve's work is never seen or referred to - but writer Steven Moffat, who based the character on himself, has said that Steve is a TV writer, responsible for writing a popular sitcom based on the group's experiences as well as "some old kids' show they recently pulled out of mothballs".
  • Sportswriter is a popular vocation; Paul Hennessy from 8 Simple Rules, Oscar from The Odd Couple (1970), Raymond from Everybody Loves Raymond and Tony from Listen Up (based on the writings of sportswriter Tony Kornheiser) all fitting the part. This is probably so the character could be manly AND lazy at the same time. You would still expect Ray to be hurriedly writing about instant reactions and be in postgame locker rooms talking to players. Nope, most of the time he's depicted working a regular 9-to-5 M-F shift when most sporting events are in the evenings and on weekends.
  • Sex and the City
    • Carrie is a columnist, which only requires a laptop these days as a convincing prop.
    • Miranda is supposed to be a lawyer, yet she seems to have just as much free time as Carrie, except when the plot requires her to be too swamped with work to spend time with her boyfriend Steve. For some reason Miranda is never too busy to go brunching or out to fancy nightclubs.
    • Also Samantha, a PR agent, who in real life would be just as busy as Miranda is supposed to be, yet always has time to go shopping, to nightclubs, to restaurants... but as a PR person, she would no doubt HAVE to do this as part of her job.
  • Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote never seems to find time to write all these thrilling mystery novels for which she is so famous, what with people happening to die everywhere she goes, which is everywhere on the Atlantic seaboard and reasonably beyond, just about all the time. (True souvenir mug of Maine: "Cabot Cove: If You Lived Here, You'd Be Dead By Now.")
  • Castle: the title character spends a good deal of time tooling around with the cops, but scenes often open with him writing at home.
    • In the second season finale, Castle is in trouble with his ex-wife/publisher because he's late finishing his new book. It's noted that the amount of time Castle spends with Beckett leaves him with very little time to write, and perhaps there's another reason he follows her.
    • In the third season, a scene involves him in an argument over the phone with said ex-wife/publisher while on the way to a crime scene which ends thus:
    I have to go now, I'm at work... it is so work!
    • Castle's wife and daughter have pointed out how he's almost always behind on his writing schedule and then works late nights with a lot of coffee to try to meet his deadlines. Also in one episode, Beckett does not call him on a new case since he said he needed to write. When Castle finds out, he tells her it was code for "any and all distractions welcome".
    • Beckett also complains that he leaves her with all of the paperwork. Given how much time detectives should spend on this, it likely leaves him plenty of time to write while she is writing reports.
  • Lorelei's job as an innkeeper in Gilmore Girls doesn't ever seem to take up much of her time, unless the plot so demands, and it is always extremely easy for her to get holidays or weekends off (when you'd think an inn would be busiest).
  • In Desperate Housewives, while Bree is a housewife and Lynette and Gabrielle have many job-related plotlines, Susan's employment is a bit mysterious. Supposedly she's a children's book illustrator, but she's rarely shown working at that.
  • In Mad About You, Paul makes documentary films, which leaves him a lot of down-time between projects. Jamie was a high-powered advertising executive, but she was rarely shown at the office.
  • Several characters on Frasier:
    • The series often lampshades the fact that Frasier's job as a radio psychiatrist only takes up a few hours of his day. Usually brought up by Roz when he's complaining about something to do with his time or what he feels he is due. His brother Niles — a psychiatrist in private practice — also makes a few sarcastic comments about Frasier's "McSessions".
    • Niles himself seems to have a lot of time to hang out with his brother during the day, and is rarely seen working. Though he does often exit a scene by stating that he has an appointment, usually as the setup to a gag involving the patient/group's condition.
    • Daphne's supposedly "full time" duties as Martin's physical therapist are also somewhat vague, and can easily allow one to reach the conclusion that Frasier is essentially paying her just to hang out in his home. It's established in her first episode that the Cranes don't need a live-in therapist, but Daphne needed a live-in job, and the Cranes were otherwise completely unable to find a therapist Martin approved of. She is sometimes shown doing chores like laundry, however, and she has sniped about all the extra duties she has besides physical therapy.
  • On Hart to Hart, Jonathan is supposed to be the head of a large multinational corporation, yet has plenty of time to solve mysteries with his wife.
    • It's justified by the fact that such multinational companies have tons of employees that handle the day-to-day stuff. It helps that a lot of the mysteries he's solving are actually being committed by his own employees or are otherwise linked to Hart Industries somehow.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: the gang's occupation as bar-owners was specifically selected to free them up for hijinks during the day. In the original pilot, the characters are struggling actors, selected for the same reason. However, the gang is still seen off the job at night, and even during the regular business hours of other bars around town. The show lampshaded this in one episode where the bar's patrons are described as simply serving themselves. While the bar has always been portrayed as a dive, later seasons increasingly imply that Frank's Arbitrarily Large Bank Account is the only thing propping it up.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy's "job" as a counselor at Sunnydale High School late in the series. Kids rarely come see her and she hardly ever does anything in the office (her boredom at work is a Running Gag). Basically, the only purpose of the job is to explain how she manages to pay the mortgage on the house she inherited from her mom and support Dawn, and still have time to slay vampires. This is somewhat justified, as she got the job because the principal is in on the town's secret and kept her around to deal with any Hellmouth issues. Given her mental state by that point in the series and utter lack of qualifications it's probably best for everyone that she doesn't try to actually counsel anyone.
  • iCarly: Spencer is a sculpture artist. He manages to repeatedly sell his sculptures for huge piles of cash in very short spaces of time, even after rebuilding them 2 or 3 times when they catch on fire. It is implied in the finale that he also gets assistance from his and Carly's father, who is a military colonel.
  • iCarly (2021) reveals that Spencer became rich since the original series after a partially-melted marshmallow white house sculpture he made sold for a lot of money. He pursues a different path in season 2 by purchasing the former Groovy Smoothie and turning it into a new restaurant called Shay What? The only character we see working on a regular basis is Harper, who worked at Skybucks coffee shop, before quitting in the episode "iMLM" due to the job getting in the way of her fashion ventures. Carly is still making content online and is mentioned to have over 3 million subscribers, which means she most likely makes enough money through ad revenue and sponsorships that she doesn't need to work a 9-to-5 job. Freddie previously owned a startup business that failed and then got a job working remotely in tech support, only to foolishly quit after falling for an MLM scam. Instead of trying to get his job back or get another job, he realizes that he's an entrepreneur at heart and decides to start another business.
  • Seinfeld, though it's a little more justified than most examples. Jerry is hardly ever shown working on his material. We do see him get the occasional bit of inspiration and bounce an idea or two off his friend's heads but even a talented comedian puts in long hours to develop a bit. He also gets away with doing very little touring. Perhaps lampshaded by later seasons when he is not shown performing and friends are seen talking about his material falling off. Yet somehow he can still afford a nice New York apartment and has money to buy his dad a car.
  • Absolutely Fabulous - Patsy got her job as the editor of a fashion magazine by sleeping with the publisher, and the position requires so little of her that she only shows up there a couple of times a year, and even then only to claim free clothes and other giveaways. It takes the magazine going out of business to dislodge her from it, and she immediately gets another job at a high fashion store which requires even less work on her part, as it actively discourages customers. Eddie, on the other hand, is often seen at the office, although very rarely doing any actual work while there.
  • Scrubs:
    • Jordan Sullivan, Dr. Cox's ex-wife in name only, is a member of the hospital's board of directors. Of course, that entails arriving at meetings and doing actual work only every couple of months at most, so Jordan spends most of her time, quoth Cox, "eating, drinking, napping, spending, plucking, ignoring the children and singing rap tunes into a hairbrush."
    • This also goes with the main characters . JD once gets it lampshaded by Turk when he asks him when he finds the time to care for his patients.
    • That was also Deconstructed in one episode when one of the patients dies because of their usual shenanigans. As it turned out, an error from the doctor doing the blood work (who had never been seen before in the show) saved them from a serious reprimand, but they were reminded that a technical error doesn't mean they didn't screw up.
      Dr. Bob Kelso: In the end, when Mr. Foster started coughing up blood, the on-call surgeon was stuck in traffic, the nursing staff was busy losing the lottery, his original doctor was thanking a garbage man, and the covering physician was incapacitated. And what was Mr. Forster doing? He was dying in the hands of the Interns!
    • In another episode, done from the perspective of Dr. Kelso, shows that he deliberately antagonizes his staff because it helps them focus on their jobs. In this particular instance, a spiraling political argument among the staff lead to them overlooking a patient's worsening condition. It was connected to Kelso himself becoming more lazy, and is even called out on it when he tries to reprimand the staff.
  • Arrested Development: The episode "Staff Infection" reveals Michael's siblings work what would be closer to a zero-hour week but still collect paychecks from the Bluth Company.
  • Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have both joked that they only work a half-hour a night for four days a week. Of course, it's just a joke because they, along with their teams, spend the rest of the work week researching, writing and rehearsing their shows.
  • Lampshaded in Psych, where Gus works at a pharmaceutical company, but he never seems to actually do any work. In one episode, he wheels his big metal suitcase into the Psych office, signifying that he's working, and Shawn comments that he hasn't seen it in about two and a half years.
    • In one episode Gus's boss told him to quit the psychic detective business or be fired from his job. Shawn tries to avert this by making himself useful to the boss and finally just ends up blackmailing the guy so Gus can keep doing both.
    • Gus discovered the dead body of his boss in one episode, and most of the rest of the cast were surprised to hear that he still works there.
  • Amanda Graystone of Caprica is shown to be a doctor in the first two episodes, complete with a cushy office at the hospital. In "Reins of a Waterfall", she is stated to have resigned, and it is unknown if she will go back to work. In "Gravedancing", she clarifies that she is a plastic surgeon.
  • Charlie in Two and a Half Men is a jingle writer and composer. We occasionally see him playing the piano and there was an episode about an awards ceremony for jingles for which he was nominated, but other than that, he's free to drink, gamble and hump as much as he likes. In fact he even outright says that he has a job that pays extremely well and only requires him to work a few hours a week. It's somewhat justified in that most episodes are set during the weekends when Alan has custody of Jake. It has also been established in a few episodes that Charlie is living above his means and is frequently in trouble with creditors (for example, his house has multiple mortgages on it and he's often behind on his car payments.)
    • Somewhat Justified with Walden Schmidt. He's a billionaire computer genius who seems to have plenty of time to goof around, sleep till noon, and bone hot women. However, he explicitly states that he doesn't need to work, as he really is that rich (he claims to have made his initial fortune by selling software to Microsoft). He has an office, but semi-openly admits that he barely does any real work, leaving the lion's share of the workload and responsibility of running the company to his business partner. His ex-crackhead business partner who hates him—perhaps not the best business decision.
      • Walden also partially averts this later on. At one point in the show, he starts a new business with his friends, and is frequently seen working. However, he explicitly states that he's doing it for fun, not for money, so he still has plenty of time to screw around.
  • Billie from Accidentally On Purpose is a film critic for a newspaper, which leaves her plenty of time for seeing her friends for drinks and being at home with her twenty-something boyfriend and his wacky friends. Although she is often seen at the newspaper office, only two episodes deal with her actually doing her job.
  • In Diff'rent Strokes, Mr. Drummond is the founder and CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation, yet we never see him at work and he is always home when the kids are.
  • In The New Adventures of Old Christine, the title character is the owner of a women's-only gym. Despite her constant complaining about money, Christine must be pretty successful to afford an exclusive private school for her son as well as a big home in Los Angeles with a guest house on the property for her brother. But she is rarely shown at work (and is pretty clueless when she's there), and she comes every day to pick up her son from school.
  • On My Wife and Kids, Michael Kyle is vaguely described as having "a fleet of trucks" and owning a vending machine company but isn't shown at work very often and seems to be at home during the day an awful lot.
  • Played with and subverted in The Big Bang Theory. The characters are mostly researchers working for a university, which means they have a relatively flexible schedule (Howard, being an engineer, would probably be the busiest). But ultimately a lot of their hijinks are either explicitly on the weekends or connected with their job to begin with, entire episodes have involved them working at home or dealing with work related stuff in some way. For a long time Penny worked as a waitress, a common job with flexible hours for an aspiring actress, and later a pharmaceutical rep, also something that lets her set her own schedule.
  • Played for laughs in Father Ted. The characters are priests but almost never perform any parishional duties or say mass. Given the show's humourous take on Irish life and how clueless (Or drunk in Jack's case) the priests are, this is probably intentional.
  • Justified in My Name Is Earl. Earl won $100,000 from a lotto ticket in the first episode, which allows him to focus all his attention on the karma list. It's just enough to explain why he doesn't need a job but not so much that he can throw money at any problem to fix it. In the second season he realized that if he wanted to be a fully functioning adult he needed to hold down a job, which would also offset his costs. By the third season the lotto money ran dry, and trying to both make a living and do the karma list took a toll on his morale.
    • Before the lotto money Earl sustained himself, Randy and Joy through crime and the occasional odd job. Darnell works at the Local Hangout and seems to be the only consistent employee. Catalina works at the motel Earl and Randy live at, explaining her presence. They go even further by stating that the manager is incompetent and doesn't expect much from employees.
  • In True Blood, some of the characters have more than one job, but seem to have plenty of free time. This is often handled well, such as when someone needs to get off early or shows up late, but at times, many of the main characters seem to blow off work when they should be working. Several of the characters work for Merlotte's, and Sam is too much of a Benevolent Boss to fire anybody, even if they jaunt off out of town for days at a time. The Season 4 episode "I Wish I Was The Moon" was the first time in at least 2 seasons that we actually see main character Sookie working her waitress job.
    • This becomes a minor plotpoint in season 3, when Arlene, Terry and maybe Jessica are the only reliable employees at Merlotte's, and Arlene ends up forcing Sam to hire some more waitresses, because she is massively overworked and pregnant, which led to the hiring of Holly (who, despite being a witch, is more dedicated to her job than pretty much any of the other supernaturals in the show). In seasons 5 and 6, Sam barely even sets foot in his namesake restaurant even though other characters are actively working there, making you wonder who is handling purchasing and payroll. In the season 6 finale it is revealed that Sam has been elected Mayor of Bon Temps, leaving Arlene the bar. Up to that point it was heavily implied that she was the one running the place anyway.
  • Charmed:
    • Piper and Prue had full-time jobs in the first two seasons - Piper as a chef and Prue as an auctioneer. Most episodes do show them at work but they are often rushing out of it to fight demons (making "family emergency" excuses). Starting in mid-Season 2 Piper opens a club that eventually does successful enough that she doesn't have to be there all the time (and would feasibly start work in the afternoon well into the night, allowing her to fight demons during the day). Prue becomes a freelance photographer which would also allow her more freedom to fight demons.
    • Phoebe meanwhile doesn't work until the fourth season - where she gets a job as an advice columnist. She soon becomes a local celebrity and appears to be able to work from home. Then in Season 6 a plot point is how overworked she is from all her extra appearances she has to do as a celebrity.
    • There's a gag in Season 4 when Phoebe is in a job interview and says she'll need a flexible work schedule. Naturally she doesn't get it.
    • Paige has an intern job in Season 4 and some episodes take place entirely at her work but she still has a lot of free time. When she gets promoted to social worker, she has to leave the job because she can't juggle it with her duties as a Charmed One. She does temp jobs in Season 6, and becomes a teacher at Magic School in Season 7 - where no one is going to question a Charmed One rushing out to fight demons.
    • Billie is a student but is only occasionally shown in class and has lots of time to fight demons or search for her sister.
    • Lampshaded in Season 2 when Dan wonders why Leo never seems to do handy man jobs anywhere but the Halliwell manor. Leo is of course a whitelighter and being a handy man is just his cover.
  • This is lampshaded in the final season of The West Wing when CJ, as the outgoing White House Chief of Staff, is headhunted by various organizations. A number of those job offers are for a position on the organization's Board of Directors which offers a lot of money but is largely ceremonial and requires her to work only a few hours a week. She expects a similar 'emeritus' offer from the incoming administrations but President-elect Santos instead offers her a real job that would keep her almost as busy as her current job.
  • Newhart:
    • The Stratford Inn only has a small staff (Dick, Joanna, George, and Leslie/Stephanie). Somewhat averted as the show takes place there and all of the employees live there as well, but there have been times when the entire staff was gone, such as when visiting Stephanie's family in England (though in one of those episodes they mention the inn being closed for a week), when helping Kirk fix the cafe (which is next door), there have been times when they all went to Michael's apartment, and they all went to the TV station when Dick hosted his first "Vermont Today".
    • The Minuteman Cafe never has a staff beyond its owner, and yet whoever owns the cafe (whether it's Kirk or Larry, Darryl, and Darryl), they have plenty of time to visit the inn and other places. Sorta justified in that the cafe is just next door and business tends to be slow. After Larry, Darryl, and Darryl bought the place and it had three owners, one would think that at least one of them would be running the cafe while the others visit the inn, but it's rare to see any of them without the others.
    • And of course, the series finale did give a hint as to why they all spent so much time not having to work.
  • Chuck.
    • As part of the Nerd Herd, Chuck can skip out on work hours relatively easily on spy missions by logging the time as "being on an install." It's also helped in the first three seasons by Big Mike being one of the worst slackers at the store, and it's not until Emmett comes aboard in season 2 that anyone actually takes a look at Chuck's work forms.
    • Casey is a Green Shirt at the store, so doesn't have Chuck's excuse for skipping work on his cover job.
    • Once Morgan is brought into the loop in season 3 this becomes less of a problem since they now have someone of authority to cover for them. By season 4, the Buy More is now owned by the CIA and with Morgan assigned as store manager, completely eliminating this problem. Ironically, it comes back as a problem to an extent in season 5 after Chuck and Sarah buy the store, since they initially neglect their jobs as owners.
    • Played straighter with Sarah in season 1, when she works at the Wienerlicious. Despite frequently missing hours due to spy business, Sarah only once comments about losing her cover job over missing work. Her civilian boss is also seen in a couple episodes but never comments directly on her frequent absences. In season 2 she's instead working at the Orange Orange, and no further comments are made about missing hours. Some WMG is that the Orange Orange is actually owned by the CIA, as the only employees ever seen there are Sarah and Agent Forrest, and the store is extensively outfitted with CIA technology. The Orange Orange last appears in season 3, and no further mention is made of Sarah having a day job for the rest of the series.
  • In Blood Ties (2007), Henry is frequently shown working on his graphic novels, pointing out a few times that his publisher will kill him if he's late on the next issue. At the same time, he has a very nice apartment in Toronto. Since he's a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire, he sleeps most of the day, frequently with a different girl every time in order to secretly feed on her. At the same time, he appears to spend a lot of time helping Vicki on her cases. Being a bastard son of Henry VIII doesn't carry with it a lot of treasure.
  • Played with on the show Get a Life from the early 90s. He's 30, lives above his parents' garage, and delivers newspapers for a "living."
  • Lampshaded on Entourage: when E asks Drama if he should be working on his show, Drama responds: "That's the beauty of an ensemble cast: two day work weeks."
  • Supernatural
    • This is generally an Averted Trope as the Winchesters work as hunters making money through credit card scams and hustling, but in the episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), Dean's mother asks him why he is not working in the garage, as the Dean in this reality is not a hunter.
    • Bobby is a borderline example since he supposedly earns a living with his scrapyard, but he's only ever seen helping out fellow hunters and generally reacts to guests with suspicion and hostility, since he lives in a universe that involves murderous shifters and Demonic Possession. His house is surrounded by junkers though, and he clearly has equipment for towing and welding, which helps Dean work on the Impala. Presumably he just does business offscreen (it's hardly plot-relevant, after all), and probably offers all his customers beer laced with holy water.
  • Mansfield from Ground Floor only works three days a week, but it's only because he worked tirelessly to build his company up to a point where it can work with only minimal input from him. He uses his off days to spend time with his wife and daughters that he didn't have in the past. On the other hand the junior money managers like Brody are expected to work insane hours if they hope to advance in the firm. The support staff tends to slack off a lot but they are also shown to have very good grasp of how the system works and when they need to put in serious effort. Tori is the straightest example as she mainly comes to work to sleep after a long night of partying and no one really knows what her responsibilities are.
  • On Beverly Hills, 90210, Donna opened a clothing store shortly after graduating from college. Aside from rarely being seen at said store, nor handling all the various things involved in running a business, she was frequently closing the shop to run off and handle either her own personal business or her friends'.
  • How I Met Your Mother often features the main characters having crazy events late into the night, sometimes over multiple days. Ted and Lily for much of the series have an established 9-5 job as an architect and kindergarten teacher. Marshall is often very busy as a corporate lawyer and Robin is often the news anchor either late at night or really early in the morning. Barney gets a pass because his job is ill defined and seems to be able to set his own schedule. It's lampshaded in a season six episode where Ted had moved on to teaching architecture and was trying to inspire his students to take it up as a career. Only one seemed interested, saying he liked the idea that he would have enough free time to hang out with friends at a bar on a Tuesday afternoon.
  • Rebecca from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does go to work, and her job does occasionally factor in to the plot of the episode, but also takes looong breaks from the office. Justified somewhat in the fact that she is apparently the best real estate lawyer ever, and so is constantly impressing both her boss and their clients even if she doesn't actually work much. Lampshaded twice in Season 2 Episode 3, "All Signs Point to Josh...or is it Josh's Friend?". Rebecca leaves work to take a walk in the middle of the day due to her latest crisis with Josh and Paula leaves because she realizes she might be pregnant. Darryl chases after them meekly protesting that they can't just leave work all the time. Rebecca runs into Greg in a park and during their conversation, she remarks "Alright, I should get back to work...I'm literally never there. It's a miracle I'm not fired." However, she does not return to work.
  • In Silicon Valley, Bighead becomes an "unassigned" employee at Hooli, as he cannot be terminated because he signed a three-year contract. Later he finds a group of other unassigned employees who hang out on the roof of a Hooli building all day, while still collecting a paycheck.
  • Most of the characters in The Almighty Johnsons have all the time in the world to work on the quest in the middle of the day, but this makes sense when you consider what they do: Anders, Mike, Ty, Colin and Agnetha are all self-employed and can skip work for a good reason, while Axl is a student who is eventually thrown off his course for non-attendance. Several characters go through periods of unemployment and subsequent money worries.
  • In Big Little Lies Jane is said to have a job as an accountant, but she's never actually seen working. There is a Hand Wave in the first couple of episodes saying she doesn't have a lot of clients yet and is looking for more. She also says that she has a few in Santa Cruz, implying she works from home. Although the one time she says she's too busy with work to pick her son up from school, she's actually lying and making a secret trip out of town. Celeste and Madeline are aversion, as they are stay-at-home mothers, and Madeline's part-time job at a community theatre is a plot point. Likewise averted with fitness instructor Bonnie, who is frequently shown at her work.
  • Parodied in Diplomatic Immunity where - despite being a Work Com set in an embassy - only Kirsty the receptionist seems to do any legitimate work. Jonah the ambassador is the king's brother, Mick is involved in shady deals and Suga and Malepe seem to have been given their jobs out of nepotism.
  • Subverted on Better Call Saul when Mike is given a job as a "security consultant" at Madrigal. It is actually a cover for Mike being employed by Gus Fring. Since Gus has not decided yet what to use Mike for, Mike gets to essentially sit around at home all day and play with his granddaughter while getting a nice paycheck each week. However, Mike decides to actually do his job, because he is bored and because if the police ever investigated him, it would look really suspicious that he gets so much money for no work. Mike shows up at the local Madrigal warehouse, stages a Bavarian Fire Drill and exposes serious holes in security. When confronted about it by Lydia, he states that now there is a paper work trail that justifies his paycheck while he still does almost no work. Eventually, Gus finds a use for Mike when it comes to supervising engineers who will be building a secret meth lab.
  • The Man in the High Castle
    • Trade Minister Tagomi often finds himself in some government conspiracy or entanglement, but seems to spend no time actually administering to trade.
    • Lemuel Washington owns and operates the Sunrise diner in season one, but this gets pretty much discarded after his role in the resistance is revealed, and he seems to spend all his time away from the diner.
  • A.P. Bio: Inverted. Jack's entire job is teaching a single period of A.P. Biology, yet he spends a lot of time hanging around the campus and teacher's lounge so he can interact with the rest of the cast. Given his disgust for the job, one would expect that he would arrive and leave immediately before and after his single period.
  • The Study Group in Community varies from season to season what they're actually studying, but for the most part, they treat it less as a means to study and more a way to hang out with each other. You could probably watch multiple episodes and not figure out what the subject they're supposedly working on is. Played with later on, when it gets repurposed into the Save Greendale Committee, and more plots involve their latest Zany Scheme to do exactly that.
  • Ghost Whisperer: Melinda Gordon seems to be able to leave her job at the antique shop whenever she wants to go and track down grieving families and accident reports. She's the owner of the shop, she has a husband who's also gainfully employed, and she always has an assistant she can ask to take over, so it's possibly justified, but Andrea and Delia are always more chill with it than most people probably would be.
  • The Wire: In season 2, McNulty has been dumped to the Marine Unit by Rawls. For the first half of the season, until Daniels is able to pressure Rawls into letting him recruit McNulty for the Sobotka detail, we don't see much of McNulty actually working on the boat. For the most part, he's busy tracking down Omar Little so that the outlaw can testify as a witness at Bird's trial, or trying to get an ID on the dead floater he found that kickstarted the investigations unveiling corruption at the docks.
  • Euphoria: Even though the show's primary setting is a high school, at no point do we actually see the main characters doing schoolwork, and we often see them sashay down the halls with nary a bookbag or textbook in hand. Even after school, the kids have all the free time in the world for sex and drugs; rarely do things like homework, extracurriculars, part-time jobs, or responsibilities at home get in the way of their partying.
  • Once Upon a Time: For being the sole cop in town, Emma isn't seen doing a lot of police work after the first season. She was right; there really isn't a lot of sheriffing going on in Storybrooke.
    • The same can be said for several other characters, like Regina being mayor (except for briefly in Season 2 and Season 4), but most primarily Snow White, a teacher, is literally shown teaching twice since the curse broke.

    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 who's 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.

    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 
  • At times, Barney's job(s) on The Flintstones. At other times he simply works in the quarry with Fred.
  • The Jetsons has a twist on this, as George Jetson's slave-driving boss cruelly forces him to work three-hour days. As a button pusher. Who sits as he pushes buttons.
  • 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's Glenn Quagmire works as an airline pilot - which is surprisingly accurate as pilots work many fewer days (albeit longer ones) a month than most other professions.
    • Likewise, Cleveland owning a deli was only mentioned and shown in a few early episodes; the rest of his appearances are hanging out with the gang. When Cleveland moved on to his own show, he got a job at a cable installer, giving us this exchange:
    Donna: If you can get the time off work...
    Cleveland: Oh, right, work! I keep forgetting I'm supposed to go to that!
  • 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 lampshaded by the latter.
    • His school attendance is seems to be about once a month. Justified since every time he's there 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 weel.

    Real Life 
  • A sinecure used to be a government position 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