113. Always have sex with the boss."
A favorite plot device in many a film, this usually takes on one of any given number of scenarios: the master of the house banging the maid, or the mistress of the house getting naughty with the pool-boy or gardener, or the office manager having "business meetings" with his secretary while his wife remains unaware. Either party in the affair may be the instigator, though usually that role goes to the one who holds the greater power and authority. Usually, too, the boss or supervisor is older and more "experienced" than the employee.
If either party is married or in a relationship (which is usually, but not always, the case in this kind of situation), this kind of affair comes of an unfaithful heart; unsurprisingly, in such a case, this usually results in a Love Triangle and all the problems that come with it. If the employee is female and the boss is male and married, the employee may take the role of The Mistress. Or, in some cases the wife/husband of either participant may know of the affair, but won't say or do anything about it because they want to keep up public appearances.
Since Power Is Sexy, the employee is often perfectly happy with such an arrangement. However, this kind of situation also holds the risk of the employee eventually asking "Am I Just a Toy to You?", if the boss is flaunting their power over the employee just to satisfy a perpetually high libido. Or it may be a form of Sexual Extortion, if the employee engages in sex with the boss under duress or blackmail (though the reverse can also be true, in that it's the employee who blackmails the boss).
Sometimes, the relationship is a part of the employee's strategy of Sleeping Their Way to the Top, advancing their career (or trying to) by seducing their superior. This doesn't mean their feelings are necessarily fake, though. The boss might be in the dark about it, or might know and just not care. Sometimes, it's the boss who decides to "reward" the employee, leading to Nepotism. Sleeping Their Way to the Top is thought to be especially common in showbusiness, leading to Casting Couch situations, when someone sleeps with the producer or director to land a starring role — though this, too, might sometimes cross into Sexual Extortion territory.
Whether the participants are single or are married to other people, this kind of scenario opens itself to some discrimination depending on the gender of the employee in the equation. If the employee is female and the boss is male, the woman may be seen as loose and only advancing her career by sleeping her way to the top, and she'll be branded by those who are aware of the relationship. If, however, the boss is female and the employee is male, then the man will be seen as extremely lucky, or, at worst, the situation may be given an indifferent shrug.
This can also happen in the military, which adds in the additional point that the relationship is probably flat-out illegal on top of all other considerations. See Inappropriately Close Comrades for more.
Compare Pizza Boy Special Delivery, where the persons in question aren't in a permanent boss/employee relationship but still have sex in the midst of conducting an otherwise ordinary business transaction; and Teacher/Student Romance, where the relationship in question takes place between a teacher and a student (though sex may or may not be involved in this case).
Also compare Mentor Ship, where The Hero is in a relationship with their mentor; Bodyguard Crush, where a person's appointed security guard harbors feelings for their client or vice versa that may or may not be reciprocated; Subordinate Excuse, where the employee uses their being employed by the boss as an excuse to exercise affections for said boss (though that situation may NOT necessarily automatically result in the two parties having sex).
Note that this trope is not the same situation as the Sex Slave, where the person with the lesser authority is in captivity and is forced to engage in sex under orders from their captors.
Also note that the Office Romance speaks more generally about inter-office relationships and can be (and usually is) applied to co-workers who are on equal standing; this trope is specifically about a sexual relationship between a boss and their employee. It should also be noted that, although use or abuse of power on the boss's part does sometimes play a role in this trope, it does not happen in all cases, as some instances of this are mutually consensual.
No, this isn't about video game Boss Battles.
- Phantom Quest Corp.: In Incident File 03, Mr. Nagasuki gets caught in the act of having sex with his secretary, when Detective Karino drops by his office to question him. Nagasuki and his secretary are later shown in bed together, at his condo.
- Happened many times in Sakura Gari, before the series starts. Souma is the handsome leader of the rich Saiki family, and he often takes loves among the younger maids and boarding students/butlers note ; all of them meet rather screwed up ends after being harassed, tortured and, in one case at least, murdered by Souma's sibling Sakurako. This also makes the plot of the series itself, as the protagonist of the series is a boy named Masataka who is employed at the Saiki house, and later Souma starts to make passes at him...
- Talia did this with Old Flame Chairman Durandal, under whose authority she helms the flagship in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. She does end up trying to assassinate him at the end, but that's more for his general Jerkass and Dark Messiah qualities — aside from WMD'ing their own troops — than anything about their relationship, which isn't well-developed outside of one depicted instance of this, a Flashback breakup scene years prior to their current positions, and a lot of him pissing her off.
- Princess Lover!: In the 2-part H-OVA, Teppei only fantasizes about his maid, Yuu Fujikura, giving him fellatio. But, in the VN's themselves, Teppei actually sleeps with her midway through her character route, which ends with her being pregnant with his child.
- Uchi no Musume ni Te o Dasu na!:
- Chapter 6 features a three page montage scene of Point Blank having sex with Zenovia. After he exits her bedchamber, a pair grunts asks if he's done nailing their queen and notes that he seems to be her favorite; implying it wasn't their first time.
- Artemis ends up in a similar arrangement with Blue Skull. Her bio in "Honey, Hold me Tightly!" says she's subservient to him and acts as his bodyguard. But he implies that he regularly sleeps with her, in what he calls their "therapy" sessions. It was eventually confirmed in the doujinshi epilogue series, when they were given a page spread in "MILF of Steel: Forever".
- Variable Geo: It's implied that Reimi Jahana sleeps with her personal aide, Washio. Such as when Chiho found Reimi straddling him while they were making out. A later scene has him deliver a brief report to Reimi, which concludes with this exchange:
Reimi: (while driving) "Washio..."
Washio: "Yes, Madam Reimi...?"
Reimi: "You're spending the night with me."
Washio: (smiles shyly and blushes) "Yes, of course."
- Berserk: Casca and Guts have a Relationship Upgrade and Their First Time after she's been promoted to leader of the Band of the Hawk in Griffith's absence, making theirs a boss-employee romance after a fashion. There was no coercion or ulterior motive on either part and they're in a serious relationship, but it does cause some tension later during the rescue operation when they argue with each other about having to put their feelings aside for the mission.
- In YuYu Hakusho, Kurama's mother was in a relationship with her boss. It was an honest courtship, and they eventually marry.
- The Boys has Billy and Rayner the CIA director, though it's not so much a relationship as it is vitriolic, self-imposed hatesex.
- In Chew, Tony's coworker Colby sleeps with his and Tony's Mean Boss Applebee (to get Applebee off their backs) and later with his USDA boss.
- Red Ears: A female office worker keeps getting called in by her boss every hour for a "special meeting" until she finally gets sick of it. The last two panels show her with a sticky white substance in her hair that one of her colleagues comments on, leading to the punchline "See, I don't just swallow everything from him!"
- A rare female on female example in Love Hina fanfic Contract Labor with Motoko and her boss Kotoko.
- The Ace Attorney fandom is very fond of pairing up Phoenix with his assistant, Maya Fey.
- Vale's Underground: Cinder is portrayed as a mob boss and she has a casual sexual relationship with her personal hitman, Mercury Black.
- Mended combines this with Teacher/Student Romance. Around twenty years ago, Delia began working as assistant of Professor Oak's post-university, after also having been his student as a teenager. Oak was attracted to her but kept his distance until Delia caught her husband Will cheating. After Will ran off with his exe, Delia couldn't afford her apartment so Oak offered the room above his lab to her. They became quickly friends, but one day they gave in to their mutual attraction. Delia ended up pregnant with Ash afterwards. They've been in a Secret Relationship behind Ash's back his entire life, until at seventeen when Ash discovers that Professor Oak is his dad. It was secret more because Delia was technically Oak's student rather than because of the "boss" element of their relationship. Delia wanted to avoid scandal.
- This is a significant driver for the plot of Bridget Jones' Diary (that and the Belligerent Sexual Tension with the other love interest).
- By seducing the chairman of Omni Consumer Products in RoboCop 2, OCP psychologist Juliette Faxx is able to railroad her project through development.
- This is the status of Tony and Pepper's relationship from the finale of Iron Man 2, throughout the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, until some unknown point between the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War.
- This is the standard way to land a husband in the world of Thoroughly Modern Millie (give or take actual sex): you meet a successful man by becoming his secretary, then he falls in love with you and you get married.
- This forms the plot of Secretary, where Lee and her boss Edward engage in a sadomasochistic relationship.
- Subverted to comic effect in the Eddie Murphy comedy Boomerang. Murphy's character forces himself to sleep with an elderly owner (Eartha Kitt) who just acquired his company. He's confident the day after, meeting another executive (Robin Givens) and boasting of how he's got the inside track for the upcoming promotion. At which point, Givens breaks it to him that Kitt hasn't been involved with the company for years and is just a figurehead with no power.
- Played for laughs in Spies Like Us, when Fitzhume tells his coworker that he's arranged an intimate lunch with the boss. Cut to Fitzhume and his attractive boss in bed. And apparently, he just arranged the "intimate lunch" to try to talk his boss into finding a way for him to not take the Foreign Service Board test.
- This turns out to be a major plot point in Lakeview Terrace. Turner's wife was having an affair with her white boss, and they died in a car accident together. The affair resulted in Turner hating interracial couples, and it's the reason he harasses the lead couple.
- The Wesley Snipes film Jungle Fever has this as the trigger for its main plot, in which Snipes' character sleeps with his secretary despite him being a married man and her already being in a relationship. It's more remembered and criticized in-universe for the fact that he's black and she's white.
- The movie Disclosure plays the "female boss, male employee" version of this for all the drama it can. Meredith Johnson, the ex and new boss of Tom Sanders, tries to restart their relationship, but Tom doesn't want to go through with it due to him being married now. Meredith then out-and-out tries to rape him, forcing him to fight her off. The plot gets kicked off when she files charges of sexual harassment against him. When his lawyer investigates her, she finds that several of her male subordinates have abruptly and inexplicably quit, heavily implying that Tom is neither the first nor only employee that she's made unwanted advances to.
- In the Michael J. Fox film The Secret of My Success, Howard Prescott, CEO of the Pemrose Corporation and the main character's uncle, has an ongoing affair with Christy, one of his employees and the main character's Love Interest.
- In City Slickers, a checkout girl from Phil's store breaks into a party he's attending to tell him she's pregnant, so this trope has been in play. Played both for drama, and laughs:
Ed: ...that's pretty smug advice, coming from a man who mounted an eighteen-year-old checkout girl on the day-old bread rack.
Phil: She's twenty - and shut up.
Ed: Let me get you hot, Phil: "I need a price. Register Nine, I need a price..."
Phil: Cut it out!
Mitch: (warningly) Guys...
Ed: What did you use for protection, paper or plastic?
- Grand Canyon: Secretary Dee had a one-night stand with her boss, attorney Mack. The aftermath of this encounter drives Dee's character arc in the film.
- Liar Liar: Jim Carrey's character is sleeping with his boss — until the wish comes into effect and he makes a truthful (and uncomplimentary) comment about the sex they just had.
- In 9 to 5, Doralee is accused of doing this, and Judy makes it look like that's what she's doing (with the added bonus of BDSM) in order to get rid of her ex-husband Dick.
- Showgirls: Nomi eventually sleeps with her new stage boss to get ahead (she had already given him a lap dance when she was still a stripper and not employed by him). The other girls call her out on this, because they have an unwritten rule against it, though it's implied at least some of them have also broken this rule.
- Fear City: Nicky is in a relationship with one of his strippers, but it's apparently a loving one. She also says to him that she doesn't expect any special favors because of the way it will make her look to the other girls.
- Flashdance: Alex starts a romance with Nick, the owner of the steel mill she works at.
- In Dragon Bones, the noble Garranon sleeps with the king. In the sequel, Dragon Blood, the king becomes interested in his court mage. It is revealed that Garranon sleeps with the king only to keep his family safe, and that it has been going on since he was fifteen, making this overlap with Sex Slave.
- Anthony Winkler's works:
- In The Duppy, Baps recalls that he slept with five of his maids.
- Barrister Fitzpatrick in The Great Yacht Race sleeps with his secretary Lilly, and the hotelier O'Hara is carrying on a secret affair with his maid Iris. Father Huck later gets it on with his housekeeper, Missus Grandison.
- In his autobiographical Going Home to Teach, Winkler recalls how his maternal uncles, all shopkeepers, often slept with their female employees.
- In the Jamaican play Old Story Time, this is one of the major revelations made toward the end of the story, involving two major characters. George Murchison (the boss) coerced Lois (his secretary at the time) to engage in physical relations with him, in exchange for covering up her misuse of bank funds to finance her then-fiance Leonard's education.
- The Bible:
- Abram (shortly before his name was changed to Abraham) slept with his Egyptian maid Hagar in order to have a child, with encouragement from his wife Sarai (later renamed Sarah) since she couldn't have children of her own. Unfortunately, since God had specifically told Abram that he would have children with Sarai, this plan backfires horribly — Hagar starts forgetting her place with Sarai and is eventually thrown out with her son, Ishmael, though God helps them out later. (Ishmael is said to have become the ancestor of the Arabian people)
- There's also a subversion with Joseph, at the time a slave in Egypt under the employment of Potiphar. His master's wife wanted to screw him physically, but he rebuffed her advances on the grounds that she was already married and that giving in to her would be a sin against God. So she chose to screw him metaphorically.
Joseph: How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
- An expanded-universe Star Trek supplement, The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, lists Rule 113 as "Always sleep with the boss." Interesting when one recalls (and a later commentary book on the rules points out) that in traditional Ferengi culture (barring interspecies employment), all bosses and employees are male.
- Felicity and Ray in Arrow, technically. He is her boss, seeing as he's the CEO of Palmer Technologies and he hired her, but she's his vice-president and they work together more as equals than as anything else.
- Throughout Season 2 up to early Season 4 of Drop Dead Diva, Kim Kasswell dated on and off Jay Parker, the managing partner.
- A significant arc in a later season of Friends saw Rachel sleeping with her male secretary, Tag.
- On Showtime's Shameless (US), Fiona gets a low-paying job at a supermarket, and soon learns that most of her co-workers have been pressured into having sexual relations with the boss, Bobby. When she gets them all together to talk about it, some of them even defend it.
- The Office (US) has Michael's rather rocky extended relationship with his boss Jan.
- Six Feet Under: This happens between Kroehner's Matthew Gilardi and his boss. It doesn't stop her from firing him for incompetence.
- CSI had Grissom and Sara, although much has changed since he left and she left, then returned.
- In an episode of Quantum Leap where for the first time Sam leaps into a woman, his task of the episode is to keep a fellow secretary from committing suicide. The other secretary thinks that her boss is going to leave his wife for her; the wife informs the secretary in no uncertain terms that she's OK with her husband fooling around but she will not under any circumstances allow a divorce. It's also implied that she is the boss's second wife, and he met her when she was his secretary. When the secretary learns this, she tries to jump off a building but Sam talks her down.
- Skyler White from Breaking Bad does this with her boss Ted Beneke. It's much less about any particular romance between them and much more about getting revenge on her increasingly criminal husband, though, and the power equation changes when it becomes clear that Ted is something of an irresponsible twit, driving her back to Walt.
- Shows up a few times on Midsomer Murders, whether as "sleeping up the ladder" or actual romance.
- After Lois & Clark got married, one episode saw Lois being promoted to the Daily Planet's editor. Clark jokingly says he's looking forward to sleeping with the boss.
- In Without a Trace, Samantha Spade had a brief sexual affair with her supervisor, Jack Malone. It resulted in his marriage dissolving. They rekinkled it in the last season and were together when the series ended.
- Jack McCoy of Law & Order is notorious for having had this kind of relationship with his assistants, all female. When he first came into the District Attorney's office in the original series, Claire Kincaid pointed out that he'd slept with all three of his previous assistants (and married one of them), to which Jack replied that all the relationships were mutually consensual. Then Claire declared that nothing of the sort would happen between herself and Jack, to which he agreed... only for them to get intimate later on down the line. However, the fact that they did become intimate wasn't revealed in the show until after Claire's death.
- Across the pond on Law & Order: UK, James Steel (who was given McCoy's habit of bedding his colleagues) and his subordinate Alesha Philips had considerable Unresolved Sexual Tension, to the point where their final scene made it obvious that he deeply regretted never trying to make a go of it.
- In the Season 5 finale of House, the titular doctor winds up having sex with Lisa Cuddy, the hospital administrator and his immediate supervisor, after she comes over to his house to help him kick his Vicodin addiction. Except their encounter that night never actually happened—it was all a Vicodin-induced hallucination on House's part.
- This is a frequent occurrence on Mad Men.
- Roger Sterling has a habit of sleeping with his secretaries. He most notably had a running on-and-off affair with Joan (who was not his secretary, exactly, but she was still his subordinate in that he was a partner in the firm while she was an employee). Roger even divorced his first wife, Mona, to marry his secretary (who was about the same age as his daughter). It doesn't last.
- Don, Chivalrous Pervert that he is, actually against this kind of relationship on principle (primarily for practical reasons, but he also has some ethical qualms about it). However, Don's principles went out the window in Season 4 (the one right after his divorce), and he started sleeping with his secretary Megan. He married her. It doesn't last, either.
- Peggy Olsen had a one-night stand with Pete Campbell when she was still a secretary. People also falsely assume that she was promoted to copywriter because she slept with Don; again, Don had a rule against that, which he was still following at the time she was promoted (Season 1).
- Megan is propositioned by her female boss when she gets an acting job on a soap opera.
- In The Nanny, after four seasons' worth of Unresolved Sexual Tension between Fran and her boss Maxwell, they almost wind up sleeping together while in Paris, during the Season 4 finale...but Maxwell backs out of it at the last moment, offending Fran.
- On NewsRadio, news director Dave had an on-going relationship with reporter Lisa. For most of his first day she was his boss (everybody assumed he was a new sports reporter) and had every expectation of being named the new news director. She didn't take the revelation of him being her new boss well. (It eventually became clear their relationship resulted from her channeling anger into sexual arousal, but they still ended up as a surprisingly stable and generally supportive couple.)
- Cheers: Sam hooks up with his waitress Diane at the end of season 1 (resolving the UST), and they almost get married at the end of season 5.
- This is a major plot point in seasons 3 and 4 of Parks and Recreation. Leslie and Ben, technically her superior, have UST from the beginning of season 3. However it is revealed in "Soulmates", that Chris, the city manager (who is everyone's boss), has a rule against employees dating their superiors. Thus Leslie is afraid to act on their sexual tension until 4 episodes later in "Road Trip". They manage to have a Secret Relationship, until the season 4 premiere where Leslie decides to run for city council, where they mutually decide to break up. Chris finds out about them and in "The Trial of Leslie Knope", Ben ends up quitting his job so that Leslie isn't fired.
- In the Seinfeld episode "The Maid", Jerry starts sleeping with the new maid he had hired. Unfortunately, this distracts the maid from doing any cleaning in the house at all and Jerry starts to think that he is paying a whore which the rest of the gang makes fun of. After he accidentally offends the maid with this statement, the maid breaks up with him and quits her job.
- The Thin Blue Line has Police Inspector Fowler paired with live-in girlfriend Sergeant Dawkins. Although given Fowler's outlook on his duties however this is not a major issue. At one point he offers Dawkins some advice, half now (as her senior officer) and half when he is on break (as her boyfriend, as he is not being paid to advise people as their boyfriends and so cannot due so during work hours.)
- The plot of the Turkish Soap Opera Binbir Gece is kicked off by a mix of this trope and Healthcare Motivation, as the Determined Widow protagonist Sherzat will get the money she needs for her Ill Boy son's treatment from her very handsome boss Onur... but only if she sleeps with him.
- Eleanor on Good Girls Revolt brings this up at a meeting, asking the researchers whos slept with their boss, and then asking whos slept with a man they werent sure was their boss or not (i.e. their reporter). Theres also something going on between Patti and Finn, the editor-at-large, though weve only seen them kiss.
- The Defenders (2017):
- Jessica Jones (2015): In season 1, Jeri Hogarth is having an affair with her secretary Pam, while in the midst of a bitter divorce from her legal spouse Wendy. This one ends badly, as Jeri tries to have Kilgrave force Wendy to agree to lesser terms, only for him to instead order Wendy to kill Jeri through Death By A Thousand Cuts. Pam kills Wendy before she can get too far, but is subsequently arrested and breaks up with Jeri, now realizing what she truly is.
- Daredevil (2015): In season 2, Karen Page briefly dates Matt Murdock before the strain of his double life as Daredevil and a number of misunderstandings (like Karen finding Elektra in Matt's bed and mistaking him for cheating on her) temporarily drive them apart. Many fanfics have theorized that had Matt not turned down Karen's invitation up to her apartment after their makeout session on her front steps in "Kinbaku" to go help Elektra, they probably would have had sex. When Matt and Karen do rekindle things in season 3, this trope is no longer the case because Karen now works at the New York Bulletin.
- Luke Cage (2016): Luke Cage's mother Etta was seemingly unable to have children. So when Luke was born, he was seen by many as the "miracle baby". During the years before this, his father James Lucas engaged in an affair with his secretary Dana Stryker. The affair culminated in Dana giving birth to a son, Willis "Diamondback" Stryker. After Luke was born, Willis grew up resenting his legitimate half-brother over perceived parental favoritism, eventually driving him to frame Luke and throw him in Seagate.
- In the 30 Rock episode "Jack-Tor", when Jenna is tricked into thinking layoffs at the show are eminent, she decides to sleep with one of Jack's bosses to secure her job. Unfortunately for her, it turns out the man was actually an actor playing Jack's boss for one of the show's skits.
- Shadowrun supplement Tir Na Nog. In the title country (the country formerly known as Ireland) Junior Minister Patrick Flanagan was videotaped having sex with his curvaceous redheaded secretary in his office.
- In many class storylines of Star Wars: The Old Republic, you can romance your companions and technically, most of available companions are subordinates of the Player Character. Elara Dorne, the Republic Trooper's companion, even lampshades this, observing that intimate relationships between a commanding officer and a subordinate are forbidden by military regulations, but reciprocates your advances, anyway. Elara, being Elara, finds and submits official paperwork that authorizes the relationship.
- Nadia Zelenkov in Command & Conquer: Red Alert is one of Stalin's advisors, and also his lover. She's actually The Mole for Kane, and kills Stalin after a Soviet victory.
- Technically the case for any of the Love Interests in Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II, and Dragon Age: Inquisition, since the player characters of those games are the leaders of their respective Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, and the games (usually) require sex to take place before the romance is considered official.note
- Also found in Dragon Age II if Hawke helps Aveline romance Guardsman Donnic, as she's the captain of Kirkwall's defenses and he's one of her soldiers. In this example, however, the sex is only implied because Aveline and Donnic get married.
- There's another in-universe example in the background of Inquisition, and a rare female/female example at that; the Empress of Orlais had a lengthy affair with her elven servant Briala. The tie-in novel The Masked Empire introduces the relationship, which can be factored into the outcome of the peace talks in the game.
- Similar to Dragon Age, Mass Effect can also have this come into play with relationships between Commander Shepard and any of their squadmates, since they are the commanding officer on the Normandy.
- If the Dragonborn in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim becomes Harbinger of the Companions, Arch-mage of the College of Winterhold, Guildmaster of the Thieves' Guild, and/or Listener of the Dark Brotherhood, and proceeds to romance/marry any of the faction members of the groups they lead, this trope is technically in play.
- Invoked several times on Something*Positive: Kharisma makes no secret that she'll sleep with anyone for advancement (and is later fired without ceremony when the boss's fetish goes from redheads to blondes), while Monette is accused of this by an older, uglier coworker.
Co-worker: At least all that lying on your back must have done wonders for your posture.
Monette: Well, seeing as your method gave you bad knees and rancid breath, I figured I'd do it differently.
- This is a fundamental part of Erfworld culture, since a commander can give his units any order, including "take off all your clothes", and they'll obey it. This really Squicks Parson out.
- In Moonbeam City, Detective Dazzle Novak and Police Chief Pizzaz Miller enjoy a yearly, weekend-long romantic tryst during the annual "Cop Con" gathering, which involves multiple instances of passionate love-making. The rest of the year, the two are mutually antagonistic, with Dazzle routinely disobeying Pizzaz's orders, and Pizzaz being repeatedly frustrated with Dazzle.