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Professional Slacker

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"I guess you can take anything but actual work."
Jerry, Seinfeld

When a character is so into laziness as a philosophy, that he will go out of his way to enmesh himself in it. If there's a job that needs to be done that will take an hour to do, he will spend two hours writing up an expense report to keep from having to do it, because gosh-darn-it, it's the principle of the thing that matters!

Well, mostly it's the smug sense of superiority that comes from realizing that there's absolutely no consequences from behaving as lazily as possible. Boredom is rarely an issue for this character, even if he doesn't actually have anything to do, because of this. Common justifications for getting away with it are management ineptitude or loophole-ridden job requirements.


This makes an excellent In-Universe justification for One-Hour Work Week.

Contrast The Slacker. May be Brilliant, but Lazy, engaged in Laborious Laziness, or going for a Deliberate Under-Performance.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Fruits Basket: Saki Hanajima, to the point that her plan for life after high school is just to muster up the motivation to actually pass high school. Her teachers are not amused.
  • The titular character in Tanaka-kun is Always Listless has taken Listlessness to an art form, so much so that he ends up with a group of friends who greatly respect how much effort he puts into being lazy.

    Comic Books 
  • Gaston Lagaffe more or less never works at work, but only ever sleeps, eats, makes bizarre inventions, and otherwise goofs around. He once asked to get overtime pay for spending a night asleep at his desk. When his office receives letters, he keeps them in the mailroom for a while before throwing them all out.

  • Robert A. Heinlein's "The Man Who Was Too Lazy To Fail" is a story about a man who dedicates himself to the task of doing as little work as possible. He joins the military (since they provide you with free room and board in addition to the paycheck of any other job). As an officer cadet, he ends up screwing around with a local girl (okay with the military, not okay with her family); rather than trying to hide his affair from her family, he simply decides to marry her (okay with her family, but forbidden by the military since cadets aren't supposed to have families) and leaves the job of hiding the marriage to his in-laws. He becomes a combat pilot (most money for least work) but quits after being transferred to an aircraft carrier (he deems it too risky) and figures out a way to draw combat pay as a cargo pilot instead. The story rambles on in that fashion for quite a while. Perhaps the cherry on the sundae was when he looked at his retirement options and realized that simple retirement nets you half pay while being forced out for a disability gets you three quarters. His solution: go insane (like a fox), then retire to his farm in the mountains (that he loved) and hire someone else to do all the work (that he hated).
  • In Jerry Pournelle's Falkenberg's Legion the troopers practice "System D" in their off-hours. They patronize a bar en masse. Drink as much as they can hold, then claim they can't pay. If the bartender complains, they tear up the bar while cohorts in crime delay the police. The planning this requires is quite a bit more than it would take for them to just buy the beer — particularly if they showed this level of ingenuity in their actual jobs.
  • Victor Tugelbend from the Discworld novel Moving Pictures is a perpetual student. His grandfather left him a legacy to pay his way through Unseen University, with the condition that the money will stop if he ever gets less than 80% on an exam. Since the passing grade is 88%, Victor spends many hours studying to ensure that he always gets exactly 84%, going so far as to challenge the results of one exam when the grader made a mistake and gave him too many points. All in an effort to maintain the easy lifestyle of an eternal student. He also exercises religiously on the basis that keeping fit is easier than carrying around a lot of heavy useless fat. It appears he actually does manage to do these things efficiently enough that he has to make less of an effort overall.
  • Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) combines being a Professional Slacker with being a Professional Coward in an analoguous sense. He wants to maintain his reputation as a heroic soldier in order to use it to make himself as comfortable, idle, and safe as possible while serving in the army in an extremely perilous galaxy. Sometimes it works, but on the occasions that make it into the novels, it backfires and he ends up on the front of the battle against ridiculously dangerous enemies. And the thing is, if he finds himself unable to back away without losing his reputation, he'll act as heroic as anyone... just so that he'll be able to get back to his comfortable life.
  • Richard Grimsdyke from the novel Doctor In The House by Richard Gordon (and the film based on the novel). A relative had left him a small but adequate annuity while he remains in medical school, so he sees to it that he flunks each year.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, Ivan Vorpatril embodies this trope — whenever he can afford it. When he cannot, he's a Badass Bureaucrat in every sense of the word, able to tear through both enemies and paperwork with equally brutal efficiency.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation hates the very principle of government. He also happens to be head of Pawnee's Parks and Recreation Department. He's insulted by any implication that he does anything useful in his job, and the one time he was seen working with enthusiasm was when he was asked for ideas to slash the budget.
    • Ron found a kindred spirit in intern April Ludgate, who he promoted to his personal secretary simply because she promised to do nothing work-related except stonewall anyone's attempts to meet with him.
    Ron: I don't care that you text all day and sleep at your desk. In fact, I encourage it.
    • Really, everyone on Parks And Recreation not named "Leslie Knope" is this trope.
  • George on Seinfeld. He has his desk altered so that he's got room to sleep under it while remaining unseen by anyone (he even has a little compartment for an alarm clock put in). He leaves his car parked at work 24 hours a day so that it looks like he's always there even when he's skipping work. He practices looking annoyed so that people will think that he's busy when he's not. But the sheer pinnacle of this trope is when he signs a one-year contract with the Play Now corporation. When he's hired, his boss mistakenly thinks he has a disability (which is really just a temporary injury), and George runs with it, letting them give him all sorts of benefits and letting his co-workers give him help (including physically carrying him to his office). When he's found out, everyone at the office hates him and puts him through as much misery as they possibly can, but as long as he shows up each day and sits in his office (which is downgraded to an asbestos-filled supply closet) they have to pay him.
  • Steve Billings from The Shield is a detective who goes to a lot of effort to avoid doing his job. When he's not being a Deadpan Snarker, he's manipulating his co-workers into doing his job, trying to get more money from his vending machines, or trying to sue the department.
  • Sock in Reaper spends much of his work shift at the Work Bench sleeping on a shelf, much to the chagrin of the store manager. He enjoys Sam's soul-hunting tasks much more than his actual job. One episode reveals that he registered a fake employee who never shows up to work so that he could collect two paychecks. Ironically, the store manager finds out about it when the fake employee wins an award. She ends up claiming that the fake employee died... and Sock cashes in on this by throwing a fundraiser for the "funeral".
  • Creed Bratton of The Office (US) is a walking demonstration of how hard it is to get fired from Dunder-Mifflin. There are implications that he only goes through the motions of working there to hide from the police. They catch up with him in the Series Finale.
    Creed: Every week, I'm supposed to take four hours and do a quality spot-check at the paper mill. And of course the one year I blow it off, this happens.
  • Dave in You, Me And The Apocalypse. Once the news of the approaching comet is announced, he decides to complete his bucket list.
  • M*A*S*H: Sgt. Rizzo loves being in the army because, in his own words, "Where else [but the army] can you be a bum, and get paid for it?". He frequently naps under jeeps, where he can pretend to be fixing them; and has a philosophy that as long as an officer never sees him looking happy at work, they will assume he is doing hard work when really he is just goofing off. In short, Rizzo works hard at hardly working.
  • Gina Linetti of Brooklyn Nine-Nine considers her job “optional” (as quoted by Rosa). She is still oddly effective enough to not be fired.

  • Grif of Red vs. Blue at one point signs on as a member of every religion in order to get as many work days as possible off from the army.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Wally from Dilbert has quite the talent for thinking of elaborate excuses explaining why he can't actually do his job. Oftentimes, the sheer amount of effort he clearly puts into these plans makes one wonder why he doesn't just do real work. Then you remember what happens to all the characters in this universe that try to do their jobs correctly.
    • According to Scott Adams, his inspiration for Wally was a man in a dead-end position who was trying to get fired in the bottom 10% of the company, because the severance package associated with it was his best option. He was apparently quite brilliant and completely dedicated to his goal.
  • Riley from The Boondocks went into this mode during one summer, where he came up with a plan to spend as much time sitting in front of the television as possible. Huey, incredulous at Riley's concerted effort to avoid doing anything, then took the remote to force Riley to watch E! entertainment indefinitely, making it clear that Riley would have to get up if he wanted to watch something he would actually like.
  • In Beetle Bailey, the eponymous soldier will go to extreme lengths to slack off. Particularly noteworthy examples include changing into pajamas, brushing his teeth, and rolling out a sleeping bag... in order to sleep on the job. And then there was that time when he led Sgt. Snorkel on a merry chase all across the Camp Swamp area... in order to avoid the Escape & Evasion course.
  • Clyde, resident not-so-Scary Black Man of Candorville, went so far as to get a college degree in biomechanical analysis so he could learn how to use as little energy as possible in his daily actions.

  • Helen in Clare In The Community indignantly denies this whenever her coworkers accuse her of it, which is frequently. The office is a parade of social worker stereotypes, with Helen representing the jobsworth Obstructive Bureaucrat.

    Video Games 
  • The Sims:
    • The Slacker career. Short workdays, and, in The Sims 2, just 2 or 3 days a week of 'work'.
    • In The Sims 3 and 4, there's a reward trait actually named "Professional Slacker", which makes your productivity go up when you slack off at work and makes it impossible to get demoted.
  • Cute Knight has the "Slacker" ending, which is achieved by doing nothing all week except sleeping. Eventually, people start taking pity on you and leave you food and gifts, and you ultimately inspire a laziness movement.

    Web Original 
  • Margo from HANDS UP (Joel G) isn't an incompetent cop, but would rather laze around and eat pizza than actually put in real effort at her job. This doesn't save her from being reprimanded by her superiors, however; especially after one particular mission that went wrong because she didn't show up in time.
  • Many strips in Terminal Lance explore the lengths marines go to to avoid work. Lance corporals are usually shown as masters of this trope, but the undisputed kings are chief warrant officers, who will only appear when absolutely necessary and disappear the instant they think (the views of others, even superior officers, don't matter) they're done.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: when they film Radioactive Man in Springfield, Homer talks with some Teamsters.
    Homer: You guys work on the movie?
    Teamster: You sayin' we're not working?
    Homer: Oh, I always wanted to be a Teamster. So lazy and surly... mind if I relax next to you?
    Homer stretches and leans on the truck. The Teamster does the same, only for longer, and sighs with more satisfaction at the end. Homer does a really long stretch, then sits down and leans against the truck. The other Teamsters, not to be outdone, all do the same, only more exaggeratedly. The whole thing degenerates into a big stretching and groaning contest.
    • Homer himself qualifies as this, Depending on the Writer, and his performance at the nuclear plant is spotty at the best of times, especially in later episodes. He usually sneaks in at noon, when he bothers showing up at all, and even when he is there, he mostly treats it as a second living room. He'll also go to extreme lengths to avoid unpleasant, mandatory effort such as becoming massively overweight so he can get on disability and work from home to avoid the plants new morning exercise program ("King-Size Homer"), and he faked his own death to get out of a Saturday of community service ("Mother Simpson").
  • Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants, in stark contrast to his Workaholic coworker, will often sleep on the job whenever he sees fit.

    Real Life 
  • Marc Allen, founder and president of New World Library. The most badass and accomplished professional slacker. Sleeps in every day until noon, takes Mondays off, works 20-30 hours a week. Yet runs a successful publishing company and has published several books and musical albums.
  • Of course, there's a magazine for these people; The Idler, dedicated to advising its readers on how to achieve such a lifestyle. Naturally, it only comes out once a year. The editor, Tom Hodgkinson, has also published books called "How To Be Idle" and "How To Be Free" and is himself a stellar example of the trope.
  • Civil servants in almost every country of the world are stereotyped as this, but particularly in France, with its high level of job protection and unionisation.
  • South African civil servants also have this problem. You think the lines at the DMV are long? Try going to the Traffic Department, or worse: Homeland Affairs.
  • With civil service, this mentality is institutional. A civil servant typically is not rewarded for excelling but is definitely punished for breaking rules. This creates a natural bias towards inaction. This in addition to the above-mentioned job protections.
  • As unemployment was literally illegal in Warsaw Pact countries, most workplaces tended to be quite overstaffed. The ones most affected were construction (since it didn't require any education, so anyone physically fit could be employed), administration (easier to split the work than in manual labor, and no physical fitness needed), and maintenance (both). It's telling that after the fall of the Berlin Wall, departments like these were downsized by cutting workers, sometimes even cutting half the workforce from a department. Yet the same amount of work still got done, simply because the people who were genuinely good at their jobs were the only ones who stayed. There were plenty of jokes about them:
    Why don't civil servants look out the windows before noon?
    So they'll have something to do in the afternoon.
  • Programmers learn to harness their laziness to do well at their jobs. Their entire job is about making computers do people's work for them. Naturally, since they understand their own job requirements best, the tools for software developers to do their own work are among the best pieces of software out there.
    • This might be one of the reasons why the GNU/Linux system is so popular today: the GNU project started with the goal of making a completely free (as in "freedom") operating system, but back then everything was proprietary, so they had to start by writing free compilers (the programs that turn the programmer-friendly code into machine-friendly instructions) and build other development tools from there. Since the code was public, anyone could modify them to suit their needs, and port them to other systems. But porting can be hard work, so this trope acted again in attracting developers to the GNU/Linux system, and finally the customer.
  • Similar to programmers, Kodak became famous strictly by embracing laziness. Back then it took time, effort, and knowledge to develop photos. Kodak came out with the philosophy "you press the button, we do the rest" where all you had to do was send your camera in and they would develop the film, reload the camera, and send it all back to you for a fee.
  • In the Canadian Armed Forces, soldiers who become known for running to the MIR (the hospital) frequently to dodge work are known as MIR Commandos or "Chit Bags". They tend to get saddled with the absolute crappiest taskings and jobs as punishment.
  • Before starting his internet career, French videomaker Antoine Daniel worked an office job which he didn't like at all. He said in an interview that he spent a lot of time doing smoking breaks or watching videos on Youtube at work.
  • A quote attributed to Bill Gates is: “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”