Other Pilots: FAIR WAGES!
Quagmire: When do we want it?
Other Pilots: ORIGINALLY NOW, BUT IT'S BEEN DELAYED UNTIL 9:40 DUE TO WEATHER IN PHILLY!
This is an episode where a character or group of characters, feeling overworked, underpaid, or underappreciated, decides to take action against their bosses and go on strike. Common elements of a strike, such as picket lines with sign-carrying workers, tense negotiations by union bosses, the company hiring "goons" or using Dirty Cops to break the strike with billy clubs, and "scabs" (replacement workers) may ensue. Most of these episodes tend to side with the group going on strike, especially when the boss is a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Other times though it may portray both sides as equally flawed, putting extra emphasis on a compromise moral.
The Strike may be a result of a Weird Trade Union if examples come from people who usually wouldn't strike. If it's local sanitation workers who are striking, and garbage piles up around town as a result, it's also a case of Why We Need Garbagemen.
It should be noted this has nothing to do with bowling or baseball, except in the rare instance the work is talking about an actual work stoppage by the players. Nor is this about TV Strikes, although they may overlap if they occur around the same time. It's also not the first half of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED; those are "Strike Gundam Episodes".
- Black Jack has a story where Black Jack and Pinoko go to a hotel where everyone has gone on strike. This includes the hotel doctor, who then refuses to treat a seriously injured man outside of basic first aid so as to stick to the strike. Later Black Jack calls out this doctor, saying that a strike is all well and good, but it shouldn’t keep you from helping others.
- Little Witch Academia (2017) has an episode where the fairies that work at Luna Nova go on strike demanding more magic allowance. Without their contributions, the castle's technology becomes unusable to the students and teachers. Akko tries to mediate between the school and the union but quickly winds up sympathizing with the strikers more than the school and joins them. The strike ends when a new teacher, Croix, demonstrates that her previously forbidden Magitek devices are easily capable of both keeping the school running and satisfying the fairies' needs. As well they might, since she instigated the energy crisis that led to the strike in the first place.
- Shounen Hollywood had its members strike out towards the end of the second season in reaction to former member Shima Hayamizu offering to reform and advertise for the group in exchange for destroying Hollywood Tokyo. For at least two episodes, they hole themselves up in the theater and barricade the doors to prevent anyone from coming inside, while they decide for themselves what they want to do with the group moving forward. In the end, it turns out that Shima changes his mind about the deal because of how passionate they were.
- One issue of The Simpsons has the workers at the Springfield nuclear power plant go on strike for a five-cent wage increase. Mr. Burns is unwilling to meet their demands, even though this would only cost him an extra $250 a year, and after it becomes clear that the workers won't back down, he fires them all and spends $250 million developing an experimental cloning machine so he can replace them with an army of Smithers clones.
- A 1987 storyline of Bloom County sees much of the cast go on strike for larger, more legible comics. For over two weeks, the strikers butt heads with the non-strikers (including the normally milquetoast Opus throwing an egg into Steve Dallas' face) and the comic's in-story C.E.O., who pitches his case to the readers by painting the strikers as un-American and then hires scabs.
- One Peanuts storyline has the teachers go on strike, which the kids don't seem to mind since they don't have to go to school, but Linus is worried about his favorite teacher Miss Othmar. While watching the teachers picket one day, Linus notices that Miss Othmar collapses from exhaustion, and quickly runs to her aid. The story ended up making the local paper. Eventually Lucy wakes Linus up one morning, telling him that the strike is over and they have to go back to school. Linus notes that if anything, it'll be good to see Miss Othmar again, only for Lucy to then inform him that she got fired.
- Isaac Asimov's "Strikebreaker": The story's setting is an airless planetoid, named Elsevere. The residents must dig into the rock and recycle everything, including human waste. Naturally someone has to operate the machinery that recycles the waste and that job falls upon the Ragusnik family. Their family is stigmatized by everybody and made untouchable. The current Ragusnik tries to go on strike, to break the caste system that makes the rest of the world refuse to even talk with him.
- A B-Plot in the Discworld novel The Fifth Elephant concerns Sergeant Colon, while the higher-ranking (and more competent) members of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch are away on business, being promoted to captain and running the Watch into the ground. The rest of the Watch forms a Watchman's Guild and goes on strike, complete with picket lines, chanted slogans, and huddling around fires in trash bins. As a result, the criminals in the Wretched Hive... keep their heads down, because everyone knows that Commander Vimes doesn't like being dragged off to diplomatic functions, and when he gets back he's going to be pissed.
- Starter Villain (2023): The first thing Charlie encounters when arriving at the island volcano base is the dolphins' picket line. At the climax of the story, he negotiates an end to the strike by recognizing their union and meeting their demands, then encourages them to unionize the antagonists' whales.
- In the The Railway Series story, "Trouble in the Shed", Gordon, James, and Henry go on strike and refuse to fetch their own coaches, having been humiliated in the previous chapters "Henry and the Elephant" and "Tenders and Turntables". With Thomas running his branch line and Edward having to tackle the Tender Engines' work on his own, Sir Topham Hatt is inspired to get another tank engine, in the form of Percy. After being punished for going on strike, the Tender Engines soon regret their decision and promise to work hard again in the next chapter, "Percy Runs Away". This story was also adapted into an episode of the first season of the Animated Adaptation, Thomas & Friends.
- The Factory Witches of Lowell is a historical fantasy novel about textile workers in the 1800s going on strike for better wages and safer working conditions. The first chapter takes place the night before the workers deliver their demands to the mill's agent, and the last chapter takes place after they've won their demands and returned to work.
- In the 3rd Rock from the Sun episode "Dick Strikes Out," Dick comes up with the idea of the teachers going on strike to protest changes that are being made by the new chancellor, but then he doesn't join the strike himself. Hilariously, Dick believes that he personally invented the concept of a strike and doesn't realize that It's Been Done.
Dick: Harry, what you've just said, it's given me a brilliant idea. This is crazy, but bear with me. What if the workers didn't show up for work one day?
Harry: Yes... maybe on a Sunday.
Dick: No, not on a Sunday. On a regular workday. What if these workers said they wouldn't come back until their — well, let's call them "demands" — were met?
- All in the Family: In at least one episode, Archie's union goes on strike.
- Babylon 5: The A-plot of season one's "By Any Means Necessary" revolves around a major labor dispute with B5's dockworkers' union following a major accident. Commander Sinclair is sympathetic but is forced into a confrontation by the Senate's strikebreaker, who makes a token attempt at negotiating an end (read: threatening the strikers to back down) before invoking the Rush Act, which commands Sinclair to end it "by any means necessary". Sinclair uses this authority to give in to the strikers' demands, remarking to the Senate's man, "You should never hand someone a gun unless you're sure where they'll point it."
- Barney Miller had a two-part episode called "Strike", where the detectives all came down with "blue flu" leaving Barney and Inspector Luger as the only police staffing the precinct house.
- In an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 Brandon accepts a job as a journalist, not realizing that the newspaper reporters are going on strike and he will be working as a scab. He crosses the picket line once but then returns to his job at the Beverly Beat.
- Boy Meets World had an episode where Corey and Shawn go on strike after being given a test when they were promised not to be tested on the material (appropriately enough, The Grapes of Wrath). To the teacher's credit, he did admit it was clear the learned a lot from the book.
- Defied on an episode of Corner Gas, wherein the policemen of Dog River decide to do a "work-to-rule" strike, and tell so to the town mayor. The mayor just brings out the rulebook. They decide it's not worth the hassle.
- Duck Dynasty: The employees of Duck Commander, unhappy with the changes that Willie Robertson sought to impose (such as no longer using the meeting room as a lunch area), go on strike. It comes to an end by the end of the episode when Phil and Mrs. K Robertsons intervene to try to get Willie and his brother Jase to work out their differences.
- Zig-zagged in a story arc on ER involving the nursing staff. Carol came up with a new scheduling system in an effort to avoid having to fire two of the nurses but resulted in a situation where they would now be working more hours for less money. In protest, the nurses all called out sick (by law, nurses are not allowed to go on strike), leaving Carol the only nurse at County General.
- The Frasier episode "Sleeping with the Enemy" involves the radio crew going on strike after they don't get their annual raise. Frasier convinces the on-air talent to hold a sympathy strike to strengthen the crew's position. He eventually takes over negotiations with the station manager... and ends up making out with her while arguing over the size of the pay raise.
- An episode of Law & Order involved Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa being pressed into service as a public defender against her colleagues as the attorneys who usually worked in that capacity were out on strike. Her colleagues half-jokingly call her "working for the Dark Side" until McCoy lays down the law (next one to say anything that even barely resembles an insult about her situation is going to get Reassigned to Antarctica (well, traffic court, which is the same) and that a true-blue Amoral Attorney (as the term actually means) is meant to do their best to help their client without being immoral, regardless of which "side" they are on).
- Life with Derek: The B-plot of "Grade a Cheater" involves the three younger siblings of Derek and Casey — Edwin, Lizzie, and Marti — protesting against doing chores until they get paid more allowance for all the work they do.
- The Nanny: In "The Strike", Fran refuses to cross a picket line of striking busboys at the party for Maxwell's newest play, a stage adaptation of Norma Rae, a story about a strike, fittingly enough. And when Maxwell tries to force Fran through the picket line, it turns into a tabloid scandal.
- Our Miss Brooks:
- The episode "The Cafeteria Strike" (a remake of the radio episode "The Madison High Cafeteria Boycott"). The students, dismayed by the awful food in the cafeteria, plan a strike with placards and all the other paraphernalia.
- In "School on Saturday", the Madison High students initially refuse to go to class when Principal Conklin orders them in on Saturday. They even have plans to burn Mr. Conklin in effigy.
- Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung:
- In Episode 6, after the female historians discover the corruption involved in the pay system for government employees, Hae-ryung writes a petition to ban the hiring of clerks to collect officials' pay for them. This calls down the wrath of all the clerks in the government, who refuse to work until the Office of Royal Decrees issues an apology. The strike is eventually resolved by Hae-ryung and Min meeting with the head clerks and Min threatening to reveal their corruption. This strike is portrayed very negatively compared to...
- In Episode 11, after the king tries to exercise more control over the historians (and imprisons Goo Hae-ryung), they refuse to work, with even The Stoic Min going along with their fake Potty Emergency. Eventually the historians win and maintain their independence after Min challenges the king to personally kill him if he won't rescind the order.
- Salute Your Shorts: In the episode, "Anawana INC.", the kids start their own company building and selling birdhouses. Problems soon start to arise as the labor department is getting overworked and underpaid. Donkeylips, who is the head of the labor department, starts making demands, and when the others refuse to budge, he leads the labor department on strike. Things quickly fall apart as the rest of the company has no idea how to properly build a birdhouse (Donkeylips had the blueprints and refused to give them up).
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Bar Association" has Rom unionize the other workers at Quark's bar, demanding better pay and working conditions, which attracts unpleasant attention from the anti-union Ferengi authorities.
- The first season finale of Superstore has the Cloud 9 employees go on strike to protest Glenn's firing and the store's lax medical compensation. (These are related. Glenn was fired after he suspended Cheyenne with pay in a thinly veiled attempt to give her the maternity leave she was entitled to.) The strike gets resolved in the second season premiere with no real change.
- Scrubs: The nurses try to go on strike for better working conditions and a pay raise. However, Dr. Kelso points out that their union contract forbids them from striking. So the nurses start to create slowdown of their paperwork that when Dr. Kelson returns later he sees everyone moving slowly. However, this only applies to the paperwork, the patients still receive their full care.
- Seinfeld: In "The Strike" (aka the "Festivus" episode), it is revealed that Kramer has been chronically unemployed throughout the entire series because H&H Bagels had been on strike since 1985. Although he is fired from his job by the end.
- Taxi: The cabbies go on strike to protest working conditions.
- 21 Jump Street: In the "Blu Flu" episode, the whole cast of police officers is on a strike, sans Captain Fuller, as Police Captains apparently are considered "administrative personnel" and as such have no right to be unionized. Hanson even is an active participant in his trade union and as such takes part in official negotiations between the trade union and the municipality.
- Red Dwarf Smegazine: The strip "Mutinous Pursuits" features the skutters going on strike because they can't stand Rimmer's behaviour. The skutters are eventually convinced to call off their strike on the condition that Rimmer is turned off every Sunday. It is then revealed however that the strike was called in the first place so that Holly could rig the game of Trivia Pursuit that they were playing.
- The opening lines of Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" has an unemployed man named Tommy facing tough times after he loses his job at the docks when the union went on strike, and had to pawn his guitar for extra money, while his girlfriend Gina becomes the breadwinner and has to work overtime at the diner to make ends meet.
- Sesame Street:
- In Episode 4232, a group of sentient vegetables go on strike when the monsters of Sesame Street refuse to eat vegetables. It takes the monsters eating vegetables to get them to stay.
- In Episode 5011, a group of sentient fruit go on strike when Mr. Johnson, Elmo, and Big Bird order foods without fruit at Hooper's Store. When Zoe finds out, she sings a song about how much she loves bananas to get the banana to stay, and this gives Alan, Elmo, and Big Bird the idea to sing similar songs to the other fruits.
- In The Men from the Ministry after tea and coffee drinking in the Ministry is completely forbidden by Sir Gregory, all of the civil servants go on a strike to get tea breaks back. It takes three weeks for anyone to notice anything.
- Disco Elysium has a strike by the Debardeur's Union (the dockworkers) as a backdrop. However, the strike itself quickly takes center stage as it becomes clear that a militant arm of the union killed a man. And one of the man's colleagues, a heavily-armed, armored and borderline psychotic super soldier, is riling up some scabs outside the docks to try to foment unrest and get revenge through violence. The more you dig into the strike, though, the more ridiculous it seems: the dockworkers aren't striking for better pay or more benefits, which they already enjoy. They're striking to make "every dockworker a board member", a patently ridiculous demand and union leader Evrart knows it. He's using the strike for his own personal gain.
- No Umbrellas Allowed: On Week 2, Hanja goes on strike against AVAC's Fixerain Project, where they plan to pour rain laced with an emotion-suppressing drug on all of Ajik City. He urges you to join the protest every day after work to convince AVAC to stop the project.
- Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic: King Eric's Prime Minister refuses to sign off on Eric marrying halfling Clover Figherlight, under the rationale that such a union brought no political or financial gain to the kingdom (since all the halflings in the region were already citizens of Drostardy). Without his blessing, Eric wouldn't be able to get someone to perform the official ceremony. The halfling community, upon learning of this, went on a kingdom-wide strike in protest. Hit with how much Drostardy depended on halflings, the minister suddenly and enthusiastically encouraged Eric and Clover's marriage.
- Archer features a strike by the ISIS agency support staff. A good deal of the humor dealt with the fact that they work for a secret spy agency and cannot name the reason they are striking in the picket line. The locals get confused as to why they are protesting the dry cleaning company that serves as their front.
- The Babaloos has two:
- In “Sponge’s Clean Break”, Sponge refuses to wash dishes because Mrs. Fork refused to acknowledge how hard she works.
- In the On Vacation episode “Trouble’s A-Brewing At The Babaloos”, the camper van’s window is stuck open during a pouring rainstorm. The Tools are the only ones who can fix it, but they’re on strike because they’ve been insulted… by none other than Mrs. Fork.
- Beavis and Butt-Head: In the episode "On Strike", Beavis and Butt-Head decide to go on strike at Burger World. Of course, their idea of "striking" is simply refusing to work just because they don't feel like it. The manager punishes them by making them clean the table bottoms, only for Butt-Head to declare that the two will go on strike again the next day.
Beavis: Burger World sucks! Chicks rule!
- In the Count Duckula episode, "Restoration Comedy", Igor and Nanny go on strike when Duckula hires Mr. Roberto, an interior decorator, to redecorate Castle Duckula in a less dreary fashion. During this strike, Dr. Von Goosewing shows up disguised as a maid in an attempt to kill Duckula. The strike ends when Mr. Roberto quits after finding out that Duckula is a vampire in the hall of mirrors he built, despite Duckula trying to tell him that he's a relatively harmless Vegetarian Vampire.
- An episode of Daria involved the teachers going on strike when Ms. Li thought that offering coffee flavoring in the teacher’s lounge was a reasonable substitute in place of raises. Both Trent and Jane end up helping out with the strike with Trent working on a strike song with Mr. O’Neil and Jane using her artistic expertise to make protest signs. Daria meanwhile gets recruited as a scab when the substitute English teacher gets fired when Helen finds out he got handsy with Quinn’s friend, Tiffany. Daria is initially reluctant to do so until she realizes she can use this as a chance to embarrass Quinn.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "Will Work for Ed", Eddy strikes on Ed's behalf when Rolf keeps deducting his pay while he's his "nincompoop".
- Futurama: Bender becomes a scab at a bending plant in "Bendless Love".
- In the Hey Arnold! episode, "Teacher's Strike", the teachers of Arnold's school go on strike because of inadequate funding. At first, Arnold and his friends are on cloud nine, but they start running into the teachers doing part-time jobs and find out that every lost school day will be taken from their summer vacation. Initially the teachers and Principal Wartz absolutely refuse to compromise, though when the students put their collective foot down and explain they just want to go back to school, both sides hear them and come to a compromise for the sake of the kids.
- The wraparounds of "Year Round Fun" involve the show's writers going on strike, and Henry and June trying to run the show by themselves.
- The wraparounds of "Takes A Knockin' and Keeps Tick-Tockin'" involve Henry and June going on strike due to unsafe working conditions. During the strike, Mr. Stockdale hires robots named Herbie and Jane as scab workers.
- In the The Loud House episode, "Chore and Peace", Lincoln figures that he's got a raw deal when his chore is taking out the trash all by himself, which is a herculean task when living with ten sisters (one of them being a baby) as well as a dog, a cat, a bird, and a toilet-trained hamster. He decides to go on strike until one of his sisters agrees to trade chores with him, but all this does is inspire his sisters to go on strike in response, and the trash accumulates. It gets to the point where the garbage in his second-youngest sister Lisa becomes sentient. Rita and Lynn Sr. won't even intervene in order to let the kids solve the problem themselves, preferring to do a jigsaw puzzle together instead. They do, however, have the sense to keep Lily away from the mess, which cause the kids to think that she's gone missing in the trash and they end their strike in a panic and start cleaning up the mess they made in order to find her. The episode ends with the garbage being taken out and the strikes ending, but Lincoln finds out the garbage workers are on strike for more money, and now he and his sisters are striking to get pay for their chores.
- In the Pepper Ann episode "Strike It or Not," the Hazelnut Middle School teachers protest strict budget cuts and the overcrowding of their classrooms. Pepper Ann joins to help Coach Doogan secure fundings for the school soccer team, but gradually agrees with the importance of the strike's other causes as well.
- In The Proud Family, due to the small size of their allowances, Penny convinces the kids to go on strike and not do chores. They all get kicked out, and they all eventually return to their parents and negotiate, especially since they realize fighting to get double their allowances isn't worth losing on basic necessities like square meals and a roof over their heads.
- On one episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show, Stimpy walks out after the Sidekicks Union calls a strike. Ren tries to replace him with scab sidekicks.
- In the Rugrats (1991) episode, "Angelica's Last Stand", Angelica opens a lemonade stand, and Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, and Lil convince her to hire them as her helpers. When Angelica refuses to share the money she makes with the babies, Susie convinces the babies to go on strike. Angelica tries to handle her lemonade stand on her own, but without the babies' help, it goes out of business.
- The Simpsons:
- In the famous episode "Last Exit to Springfield", Homer becomes the leader of the power plant's union and leads a strike against Mr. Burns when he revokes their dental plan (because Lisa needs braces).
- In another episode "The PTA Disbands", a disastrous field trip and Principal Skinner cutting the school's budget to the point that he's selling the kids' futures short leads Edna Krabappel and the other teachers to agree to a teacher's strike. While Bart revels in the strike by making mischief, Lisa suffers from not being in a classroom setting, Milhouse gets a tutor, and the PTA decides to hire neighborhood people as scab teachers.
- In "Hungry, Hungry Homer", Homer goes on a hunger strike after he discovers that the owner of the Springfield Isotopes is trying to move them to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- In the Sonic Boom episode, "Strike!", Orbot and Cubot, fed up with Dr. Eggman's shabby treatment of them, follow Amy's advice on starting a strike. When Dr. Eggman's other robots (which he built for other reasons) fail miserably at cleaning up simple messes, they join Orbot and Cubot's strike, forcing Eggman to hire Mike the Ox, Fastidious Beaver, and Wolfie as Scab minions.
- South Park:
- The episode Canada on Strike" features the World Canadian Bureau (WGA) going on strike for "more money". The strike ends up losing their country lots of money for suspending foreign exports and production and kills hundreds, if not thousands of people through starvation..
- The two parter "Unfullfilled" and "Bike Parade" feature the adults of South Park getting jobs at the newly opened Amazon fulfillment center in town. When Stephen Stotch's coworker is hurt on the job by a robot arm and permanently stuck in a box, the incident is blamed on human error. Leading the workers to strike. The lack of Amazon fulfillment means that no one in Colorado is getting their packages and the boys can’t get their supplies for the local bike parade, as no one remembers how they got things before Amazon existed. The workers at the South Park mall are now zombies as a result of the mall being left abandoned in Amazon’s wake. Kenny eventually takes up anti-commercialism activism and his death inspires the town to drive Amazon out once and for all.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: The episode "Squid on Strike" has Squidward fed up with Mr. Krabs' greed and convinces SpongeBob to go on strike with him. SpongeBob proves to be terrible at it. Luckily, he improves but Squidward realizes that he could be stuck with him if their boss doesn't give in to their demands. Squidward goes up to Mr. Krabs to beg for his job back, but it turns out Krabs was even more desperate to get rid of the annoying teenagers he replaced them with. After a little negotiation, it seems things will go back to normal...but when SpongeBob takes the strike too far and vandalizes the Krusty Krab (he "dismantles the establishment"), Mr. Krabs forces them both to work there "forever".
- In addition to the adaptation of "Trouble in the Shed" (see the Literature section) Thomas & Friends also gives us the episode, "Goodbye Fat Controller", wherein the engines believe that Sir Topham Hatt is leaving the Island of Sodor and are worried he will be replaced with a new controller. They go on strike in response, but the strike soon ends when Sir Topham Hatt explains that he is simply having his office redecorated.