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Professional Slacker

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"Is there any way I could skip doing that, and instead not do that?"
"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. Whereas The Slacker is about people with a lazy attitude in their life, this is about slackers at work. 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 for behaving as lazily as possible. Boredom is rarely an issue for this character, even if he doesn't actually have anything to do, because they enjoy idle reveries. For slackers who do get bored, they can soothe their ennui with distractions and chit-chat. Common justifications for getting away with it are management ineptitude or loophole-ridden job requirements.

The slacker mentality to work exists on the smaller time horizon (getting the day's work done or hitting weekly goals), and also on the longer time horizon. The slacker doesn't have career goals or plans for the next year or decade, either. They lack drive and ambition and they abhor structured deadlines.

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

May be Brilliant, but Lazy, engaged in Laborious Laziness, or going for a Deliberate Under-Performance. If they work for a government department and they resist doing anything that clients or the public ask for help with, they may be an Obstructive Bureaucrat.

Foil of the Consummate Professional.


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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.

  • Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) combines being a Professional Slacker with being a Professional Coward in an analogous 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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).
  • Only the Dead Are Cold-Blooded: The first time we see the protagonist at work, he locks himself in his office and kills time reading something completely unrelated to his job. (In the very next scene, his boss praises his work ethic!)
  • 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 
  • Gina Linetti of Brooklyn Nine-Nine considers her job “optional” (as quoted by Rosa). She is still oddly effective enough to not be fired.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • Ron Swanson 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. Ron himself made sure of that when he hired each and every one, and it's only Leslie's work through several seasons that pulls everyone out of this status.
  • 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".
  • 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 makes 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.
  • Dave in You, Me and the Apocalypse. Once the news of the approaching comet is announced, he decides to complete his bucket list.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Wally from Dilbert has quite the talent for thinking of elaborate excuses explaining why he can't actually do his job, all because he's trying to get fired to collect a generous severance package from the company. Oftentimes, the sheer amount of effort he puts into these plans is more effort than his real work. The problem is that the company is manned by the trope-naming Pointy-Haired Boss, so everything Wally does gets the PHB's approval, is completely ignored, or causes someone else to be fired in Wally's place. All the while, Wally keeps slacking off and not doing his job, yet is consistently frustrated that he can't seem to get fired for it. 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.
  • Calvin is an academic example. He's a Brilliant, but Lazy Bratty Half-Pint who utterly refuses to put any sort of effort into his schoolwork, preferring to wander in the woods, sit on his behind watching TV, and play with his stuffed tiger Hobbes rather than do anything productive. He goes so far as to claim that anyone trying to make him do something he doesn't want to is "tyranny" and is fine with not lifting a finger to help his parents around the house.
  • Eve Sisulu from Madam & Eve is a competent and capable live-in maid to the Andersons. That said, she's not above sneaking in some downtime where she can, such as taking two-hour tea breaks or napping on her ironing board.

  • 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 
  • 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.
  • Qingque, from the game Honkai: Star Rail, has outright codified a set of principles for avoiding excess work. In essence, it amounts to working at a consistent pace (i.e. don't try to overachieve); never taking any initiative; and dragging other people into work you're assigned, since you can give them all the credit and let them take the promotions, since those tend to come with more work.
  • In Potion Permit, Dean is often seen sleeping on the bench when he's supposed to be working as a police officer.
  • The Sims:
    • The Slacker career. Modest pay, short workdays, and, in The Sims 2, just 2 or 3 days a week of 'work'. Ironically, this is the career that demands the most friends for promotions, and maintaing the required number of friends for promotions does not leave much time for simply slacking off.
    • 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.
  • In Undertale, Sans the skeleton takes laziness to artistic levels: he is such a Lazy Bum that he gets a second job selling hot dogs just to avoid having to do his actual job as a sentry.
  • Tanimura from Yakuza 4 is slothful with his detective work and will take any opportunity to slack off on patrols, mostly so he can go gamble or hang out with his community in Little Asia. It's not even that he's disinterested in being an officer, he just can't muster up the tempo needed for being one in a city as seedy as Kamurocho. An NPC in Dead Souls comments that they saw him getting dragged out of a mahjong parlor after the police started to crack down on truancy. This is also shown in Online where he repeatedly skips work to play mahjong, which eventually invites the wrath of his superior.

    Web Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 plant's new morning exercise program ("King-Size Homer"), and he faked his own death to get out of a Saturday of community service ("Mother Simpson"). Other episodes imply this is actually the reason why Mr. Burns hasn't thrown him out, as Homer is technically the Safety Inspector and if Homer was doing his job his deathtrap of a nuclear plant would've been shut down ages ago.
  • Squidward from Spongebob Squarepants, in stark contrast to his Workaholic coworker, will often sleep on the job whenever he sees fit.