Jobs can tell us a lot about a person, but the fact is that very few jobs really showcase our true colours. Some of us will be lucky enough to snag that legendary "dream job," but most of us work because we have to, and that can mean anything from slapping a grin on our face when dealing with a customer we secretly wish we could disembowel with a teaspoon (and who probably feels the same way), to accepting a job well below our ability level because we need to pay the rent.
Our hobbies, however, can say a lot more about what we like and what qualities/skills we possess; after all, they're totally voluntary, and we may even be prepared to spend a lot of money in order to do something we enjoy. This is echoed in the media, where the mention of a character's favorite pastimes can provide a shorthand for their personality.
The weird thing is, once this hobby is revealed, a character's social circle tends to disregard everything they previously knew (or supposed) about their friend. If the Girl Next Door is revealed to be a kickboxer at the weekends, her associates will instantly assume that she's only "pretending" to be a wholesome sweetheart and is actually an Action Girl. On the other hand, if the school bully is revealed to attend piano lessons three times a week, he can expect a sudden upturn in his romantic success, as the ladies decide that his unexpected musical talent proves that he's a sensitive soul at heart, and hides it beneath a thuggish exterior. Given enough time, Flanderization may ensue to the point that the pastime becomes the entire point of the character, and scenes with the character before their pastime was revealed may feel out of place.
If, on the other hand, the hobby is introduced at the same time a character is — for example, "Hey guys, meet Marie, we met at the sci-fi convention last week" — it's the viewer who knows what to expect in terms of personality. Sometimes this will be exploited in An Aesop about not jumping to conclusions, especially if the person whose hobby is being mentioned is a main character. If they're a one-shot or side character, however, don't expect too many surprises; writers seldom spend time on revealing the complexities of a minor character's psychology, and are usually quite happy to let the stereotype stand.
Occasionally, the hobby will provide a "punchline" for the character because it is completely at odds with their personality. This may lend them credibility, as in the case of the nerd who's also a skateboarder, or be a bit of an Achilles' Heel, as with the Alpha Bitch with an astonishingly large collection of comic books.
In Real Life, a hobby's demographic encompasses all sorts of personality types...but the world of fiction normally prefers to keep things simple, so the stereotypes endure. However, works where the writers really did do the research — or where the pastime itself is an integral part of the story — will be much more sympathetic.
Also worth noting is the fact that the associations and connotations of both hobby and stereotype will vary from place to place. See the Analysis subpage for a detailed exploration of this.
- Cowboy Bebop:
- Jet is a bonsai gardener, a hobby which requires a lot of focus and patience.
- Faye is a compulsive gambler, since she's reckless and motivated by greed.
- Ed is a hacker, being a Child Prodigy.
- Spike's only hobbies seem to be pool and sleeping (he has nothing to live for and believes himself in a dream).
- Death Note: Roger Ruvie collects insects—a pursuit that typically involves pinning down little creatures and stabbing them into place. Oh, and he also hates kids.
- K: SCEPTER 4 leader Reisi likes playing jigsaw puzzles, which indicates his intellectual nature.
- K-On!: Aside from the obvious interest in music and song-writing shared by the club, the anime decided to make Mio a sports-fan for a throwaway line in addition to her reading hobby.
- Sleepless Domain: Anemone has a number of artistic hobbies, including painting, drawing, dollmaking, and cosplay. She mentions that she "[has] a lot of time on her hands", and whatever role she's playing in keeping the city safe, it's certainly a lonely one. Shortly after her role of Barrier Maiden is revealed, it's subsequently revealed that she also designs the barriers. And gets quite grumpy when people criticize her work.
- Tiger & Bunny: Barnaby's one and only hobby is listening to opera, which is often associated with an affluent family background, 'snobbish' personality and being 'intellectual'. This ultimately serves as a sort of deconstruction, as opera music is also a direct trigger for his PTSD, so much so that even directly talking about liking opera as a hobby has him becoming distracted with flashbacks to the night his parents were shot. It's entirely possible that his interests being narrowed down to exclusively something that will remind him of his trauma is yet another facet of Maverick's manipulation. While it outwardly contributes to his public facade, it also betrays how hollow his life is outside of things that drive his single-minded pursuit of revenge.
- In season 2, Barnaby is shown to have filled his once-empty apartment with plants that he dotes on and even talks to. It's an entirely new hobby, befitting his more patient and nurturing aspirations following his character development, while still being something he can enjoy in solitude.
- Coreline: A man assigned to look over a warehouse full of media that has watched and read it all, even having a quirk of letting movies run uninterrupted in the background as relaxation noises, has an apparent fondness of B-movies, and has given praise to his cover work because it's let him see a myriad of ways that the "Different World, Different Movies" trope has manifested on the Core Timeline? Roger Hackett is definitely a James Halliday-slash-Parzival-slash-Baby-slash-Quentin Tarantino-style geek with an undying love for pop culture... only tempered with the fact that this knowledge is also useful for those times he has to kill people.
- The Quest for the Legends: The drawings Mark creates tend to reflect his quiet, careful temperament.
- Symbiosis: As a devoted gardener, a hobby that requires both care and effort, Erika has a stern but nurturing nature.
- Total Drama Reloaded: Dominic of the Agile Axolotls loves to race and fix cars. This reflects his competitive nature and his belief that he needs to be the best.
- Witching Hour: Gaz's favorite pastime is hunting and slaughtering wild animals, which is pretty fitting for her violent, sadistic nature.
- 86 EIGHTY-SIX: Lena is often seen doodling in her diary while talking with Spearhead Squadron over the Para-RAID, and following Kaie's death and Theo's "The Reason You Suck" Speech, part of her efforts to get to know Spearhead's members on a more personal level include drawing simple pictures of all their faces. Fittingly, Lena is passionate, sensitive, and idealistic.
- The Clique:
- Horse-riding Massie is a rich snob. Various other rich and spoiled characters play tennis, golf, squash, etc.
- Soccer star Kristen constantly drives herself harder both on the field and academically to keep up her scholarships and is arguably the most driven of the Pretty Committee.
- I'm In Love With the Villainess:
- Rod's love of dueling and chess are indicative of his strong, militaristic nature.
- Thane's penchant for the harp is indicative of a gentle personality beneath his cold exterior.
- Yu's wit and cunning are demonstrated by her fooling all but Rae while cheating at poker, and her talent in chess, with Rae noting the "Hidden Yu" AI was so skilled it was hard to imagine being from a dating sim.
- Raffles: The titular Gentleman Thief plays cricket, which the media considers a sport for highly intelligent, smug people. While he's an all-around excellent cricket player, his specialty is slow bowling — which, as opposed to fast bowling, relies on skill and deception.
- The Tomorrow Series: Chris is a poet and a drug user, fitting how he is sensitive, withdrawn and, ultimately, lonely and depressed.
- Vicky Bliss:
- 13 Reasons Why: Clay is a noble guy, and his school activities include peer tutoring and working on the Honor Council. He's helpful and concerned about the people around him.
- Doc Martin: Martin is frequently seen repairing clocks, showing that even his hobby is similar to his job as a doctor, requiring slow care and attention to detail.
- The Good Place: Brent really loves golf, which reflects his lifetime of massive privilege. He also plays with the cheat codes on so each shot is perfect, yet still brags about his skill, showing his gigantic ego.
- Leverage: Played with. Nate plays chess and poker. Parker does gymnastics and recreational lock-picking. And when he is not beating people up, Elliot cooks gourmet food.
- Orphan Black: Kira's constantly drawing and painting and has the associated personality traits of an artist, as the girl is genteel, sensitive, and perceptive.
- Sesame Street: Fitting for The Bore, Bert enjoys oatmeal, pigeons, and bottlecap and paperclip collecting.
- Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
- It's shown that Irene Melissenos enjoys reading, which fits with her intellectual and somewhat distant nature.
- Ivan Bjelnič's piano fingers aren't just for show, as he enjoys playing the piano in his spare time. It shows him to be a tad more distinguished than the rest of the cast.
- We Are All Pokémon Trainers: The following are the four shows that Ananpi enjoys watching the most, in order: Pointless, Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, Only Connect, and Monty Python's Flying Circus. The four are extremely silly and witty British television shows, alluding to Ananpi's craziness.
- Love in Hate Nation: Sheila's liking of billiards at a time when it was considered a men's game shows that she is not traditionally feminine.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Sarif really likes baseball. He's got a ball in his office that he tends to toss around during conversations, and one of his televisions is always tuned to a Tigers' game. (Given that he's the wealthiest man in Detroit, it's entirely possible that he owns the team.) This ties into his competitive sensibilities, but also acknowledges that he's sort of a kid at heart, with his fascination on augmentation and his desire to bring it to the masses.
- Fallout: New Vegas: An unmarked Sidequest for Mr. House involves collecting snow globes for him. Why snow globes?
Mr. House: What of it? I enjoy them. There's something about a little diorama set inside a glass dome that I find... pleasing.
J.E. Sawyer: It's for the Citizen Kane reference, partially because it's especially fitting for Mr. House. He has no interest in physically interacting with the world but wants absolute control over New Vegas. Snow globes are perfect static worlds in miniature that can't be directly touched but can be (literally) turned upside down any time the owner desires.
- Fate/Grand Order: Constantine XI likes chess and shogi, which shows his penchant for strategy as an emperor who fought on the front line and that he is an intellectual.
- The Secret World:
- Moutnefert's two major pastimes are gardening and postcard-collecting—one symbolizing her patience, the other her desire to see the outside world.
- Red's two favourite pastimes appear to be fishing and chess, indicating his patience and strategic mind.
- But I love you.:
- High-class but kindly Emma enjoys singing and playing piano.
- Childish and playful Ryanne hangs out at the playground.
- Rebellious, in-your-face Leila enjoys the energetic sport parkour and playing pranks on others.
- Solitary, nervous, but intelligent Alison is a sketchbook-owning graffiti artist and gardening enthusiast.
- Vivian, the efficient, professional neatfreak, enjoys cooking and has a "hobby" of putting things back in place or arranging them in a pleasing manner.
- My Little Pony (G3): Toola-Roola is a creative, soft-spoken, and dreamy artist.
- Scooby-Doo: Scooby is particularly fond of fishing, whether with rod and reel or just with a line tied to his tail. This demonstrates his laziness (fishing is mostly waiting around), his love of seafood (or any food at all), and his propensity for trickery and/or being used as bait in Fred's plans.
- Winx Club: Bloom first meets her roommate Flora as she's unpacking her vast collection of magical plants, which signals her love for nature and that her fairy power is Green Thumb. Her nurturing personality is shown when her first action is to save Kiko from one of her plants, ask Bloom not to scold him, and feed him a carrot.