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The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes

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Well, the firetruck is still undamaged...

"Doctors are well-known to be the worst patients. Similarly, anyone with special-ops training is tough to protect; they think they can handle anything."
Narrator, Burn Notice

A character is very good at his profession but is completely unable or unwilling to use this ability to help himself or his own family. This is seen most often with therapists.

It may be justified in the case of therapists because to analyze more effectively, a therapist has to be outside the problem. Think of it like a maze. Is it easier to see the path to the exit in the middle of the maze, or looking down from above? In fact, professional counseling and psychology organizations classify counseling those the therapist has an emotional attachment to as a "dual relationship." They are ethically questionable and always to be avoided in professional work.

The same justification can be used for doctors (their emotional attachment can blind them to what's wrong with themselves or those they love, or make them unable to use a risky treatment), so many hospitals have policies that forbid doctors to practice on family members (the exception is when they're the only specialist available, e.g. a venom specialist whose family member just got bitten by a snake). For lawyers, it's not verboten, as it is a legal option, but custom and best practices advise against both self-representation (as in the expression, "A man who represents himself in court has A Fool for a Client") and representing family (by the same principle), except in emergency situations.note  note 

In a more humorous light, this often gets thrown at guidance counselors or career advisors, along the lines of "why should I get advice on how to structure my career path from someone whose job is 'career advisor'?"

If you happen to be wondering why emotional attachment would stop the cobbler from repairing his children's shoes, that's not the reason; he's just too busy with the paid work needed to feed everyone. What’s more, especially prior to the industrial revolution, it was often the case that materials were expensive while labor was cheap. As much as he’d like to make himself and his family some clothes, furniture, etc. as luxurious as what he’d sell to his customers, the artisan wouldn’t be making enough of a profit margin on his sales to buy quality materials for a personal project without a customer to foot the bill. Whatever he did make for his household would be much less fancy. Finally, the advent of industrial technology means that hardly any goods can be economically produced without a lot of expensive factories and equipment, and that means that the workers who produce stuff are generally employees rather than owners of the business. Just because somebody works in a factory that makes X doesn’t necessarily mean they're paid high enough wages to afford X, or that they get to take home free samples.

Another name for this is "vocational irony", which is a form of situational irony. This is the supertrope of one type of Preacher's Kid, a.k.a. "The Minister's Children Have No Morals".

Compare the No Self-Buffs, the magical equivalent.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Barefoot Gen, there is a literal example because Gen's family makes sandals, but Gen himself goes barefoot most of the time. This is likely because the sandals are meant for selling and/or as part of the war effort and thus they can't afford to keep any for their own family.
  • In Death Note, Soichiro Yagami is a good cop and always able to solve his cases without his judgment being impaired. But in the case of Kira, he finds it difficult to remain completely objective, especially since his son is the prime suspect again and again.
  • In Four Knights of the Apocalypse, Tristan has powerful healing magic that doesn't work on congenital diseases like the one he has. It's implied this comes from a psychological block on his part; he won't be able to fix his condition until he looks at it objectively and realizes it's not the end of the world.
  • Kaoru from I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying is a terrible cook despite having been raised by a professional chef.
  • Doctor Bombei, the greatest Choujin physician in the Kinnikuman universe, succumbed to a malignant tumor because he spent so much time watching other Choujins' health he didn't pay attention to his own.
  • Nove from Lyrical Nanoha acts as the coach for Team Nakajima (and later the Nakajima Gym), but she'll never be able to compete in tournaments herself because her cyborg upgrades give her an illegal advantage.
  • In One Piece Monkey D. Garp is a legendary marine. While there is no doubt he tried to turn his descendants to that path, ultimately his son became a revolutionary and the world's most wanted criminal, and his grandsons became powerful pirates, one a commander for the Whitebeard Pirates and the other a rookie with enormous potential and one of the likely candidates to become the Pirate King. And really, it's his own damn fault: Garp's status as a high-ranking marine made it so that he was rarely home, and when he was he subjected them to Training from Hell to make them strong marines. When they still reaffirmed their dreams to be pirates, he left them with a friend to turn that around. Said friend was a mountain bandit. Only after the death of his adopted grandson does Garp realize his own errors.
  • In A Scummy Gap Student with a Hard Life Calls Upon a Lady of the Night, Makino Hanabusa's parents run a cram school, but Makino herself fails to get into any of the colleges she applied for due to being too lazy to study and ends up as a Rōnin. Lampshaded when Makino's parents berate her, specifically mentioning their occupation as one reason why their daughter's failure will make them a laughingstock among their neighbors.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: when Napoleon's son Marcel attends Duel Academy, Napoleon purposely isolates himself from his son (even keeping it a secret that Marcel is his son) because showing favoritism towards a student is taboo for a teacher. (And it's the hardest thing he ever had to do, as he admits.)
  • The history of Mr. Riddles in Zatch Bell!, in the original Japanese, involves him as a surgeon trying to save his grandson but failing, sending him into a depression that is only lifted once Kido arrives.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • "No Man's Land" kicks off with an 8.3 earthquake that devastates Gotham. Fortunately for Bruce, he had always insisted that all of Wayne Enterprise's buildings needed to be built to withstand 9.0 earthquakes. Unfortunately for Bruce, he forgot about Wayne Manor and the Batcave. (He later admits to himself that he had meant to, but kept worrying that any workers he had hired would discover his identity, and had no personal skills in that area to speak of.)
    • Harley Quinn getting a Ph.D. in psychology did not help her diagnose her own growing obsessions with The Joker. Though how she got said Ph.D. varies from writer to writer. In some versions, she slept with her professor to obtain it.
  • DC One Million: Heartiac is a "12th-level compassionate". She defeats bad guys with sheer kindness. She gives lectures on forgiveness. Her species is just as devoted to love as their Coluan ancestors (EG Braniac) were to intellect, and she's a bright star even in that firmament. And she can't tell Superman One Million that she's fallen for him. Or notice that he seems to have more than a colleague's interest in her.
  • In Runaways (Rainbow Rowell), Karolina Dean is studying to become a social worker, or possibly even a therapist, but seems oblivious to all the dysfunction happening among her adopted family. Granted, her burgeoning relationship with Nico may be distracting her.
  • Dr. Malcolm Long in Watchmen. Even though he is a psychiatrist, his relationship with his wife is dysfunctional. Overlaps with Critical Psychoanalysis Failure

    Comic Strips 
  • One Dilbert strip has Dilbert attending an economics class. The professor has already prepared a presentation explaining why he has to dress like a flood victim despite being an expert on money. The cartoonist, Scott Adams, has an economics degreenote ; this may very well be Truth in Television.
  • Peanuts:
    • Discussed when Peppermint Patty and Marcie debate about how the judges for a skating contest can be qualified if they themselves can't skate.
      Marcie: The world is full of unmarried marriage counselors.
    • There is also a week of strips of Sally trying to teach Sunday School, and constantly getting interrupted by one boy who thinks The Great Gatsby is in the Bible. When she gets home, Sally learns the boy is the minister's son.
  • In Zits, Jeremy Duncan's mother is a child therapist, but much of the strip's humor revolves around her inability to get her teenage son to communicate with her. It's possible her specialty is preadolescent patients, as she tends to come off like a Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher when trying to advise Jeremy.

    Fan Works 
  • In Child of the Storm:
    • Alison Carter is the former Deputy Director of SHIELD - and only missed out on the Directorship because of a mixture of politicking, HYDRA, and a very much justified desire for SHIELD and others not to pay too much attention to her family or they might figure out that they're all descended from Peggy and Steve. In general, she is incredibly on the ball and very insightful. She also completely fails to recognise that she's pushing her daughter away until it's too late, and while they do make up, it has generational consequences for her grandchildren. She later admits that she was a "far better spy than a mother", and is mostly grateful she's learned from her mistakes.
    • The main tragedy of Doctor Strange is that thanks to his alterations by the Time Stone, he can fix almost everyone and everything, he can bend key events in time to his own ends, give everyone strong and happy family connections with which to endure all sorts of terrors... but he can't fix himself. He can't undo or fix Camlann. He could save everyone... except the people he loved. He is unsurprisingly phenomenally bitter under his cheerfully odd behaviour.
    • Wanda, eventually, gets to at least act as a Parental Substitute to her godson, Harry, even if it is a decade or so late (thanks to It's Not You, It's My Enemies and Strange's warning). She can't do the same for her daughter - though in Hermione's case, she has a happy family, by Wanda's own contrivance, and Wanda wants a clean break/not to attach her baggage. Needless to say, it doesn't work out that way.
  • In Dominoes, Shinichi's father Yuusaku is in charge of the Irregulars, a team of teenage superheroes whose secret identities are none other than all of Shinichi's friends. Shinichi himself is a powerful psychic with impressive investigational skills... yet Yuusaku not only refuses to train him, he does everything within his power to keep Shinichi Locked Out of the Loop and deny his dreams. This is because Yuusaku is a Control Freak who is trying to hide his son's potential. Those with superpowers are typically registered and monitored by the government; the Kudos are deliberately flouting the law by leaving Shinichi unregistered.
  • In Foxfire despite being the owner of a tea shop, Pao is pretty bad at actually making tea and is reliant on Mushi and Li to do so. In Pao's defense, he's a much better businessman.
  • Played seriously in Le Papillon Rising. As Mr. Noir, Gabriel Agreste takes a parental role to his younger partner Ladybug and wants to protect her from the supervillain le Papillon's advances. But in his civilian life, he neglects and distances himself from his traumatized son Adrien after the death of his wife Bridgette, which stemmed in Adrien becoming the supervillain le Papillon in the first place.
  • Played for Laughs in the Fairy Tail fic Morning After Cliche: Rowen Edition, where Gajeel, Laxus, and Natsu (who was dragged along) confront the now adult Romeo and Wendy about having sex and Gajeel and Laxus not being happy that their younger Dragon Slayer had been "defiled". When Romeo snarks that Gajeel has his own daughter to do this for, Gajeel replies that he has Lily watching over Gilly's well-being and interest. Cue a Gilligan Cut where Lily is sleeping and five-year-old Gilly is reading some of her mother's risque books.

    Film — Animation 
  • In The 3 Little Pigs: The Movie, Rublad the fox, a meat supplier, has next to nothing to eat.
  • In Rise of the Guardians, the Guardians have the opposite problem. They spend so much time protecting children, they're now too busy to actually spend time with them!
  • Mayor Lionheart in Zootopia is very proud of himself for starting his "Mammal Forward" program that helps small prey animals like Judy reach their full potential, but he treats his assistant mayor Bellweather (a small sheep) very poorly and it's implied he only hired her for publicity. (Bellweather herself notes she is a "glorified secretary".)

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Used in Batman Begins where Detective Flass steals money from a street vendor. The man says he has kids to feed, and Flass merely responds, "What? They don't like falafels?" Flass gets jumped and worked over by Batman five seconds later.
  • Choose Me: Nancy is a psychologist, and a late-night radio talk show host, who spends her nights on the radio giving advice to the lovelorn about relationships. She is also scared of commitment and has never had a serious relationship of her own. Here's how Nancy describes herself to Mickey, who doesn't know that she's radio host "Dr. Nancy Love":
    "She can help others, but not herself, she gives advice to the lovelorn all day, but she's never been in love herself...or so I've heard."
  • Used for a quick joke in The Country Bears; Tennessee's backstory includes a failed relationship with Trixie. So when the band broke up, he became a marriage counselor. Counter-intuitively, it's because he has a failed relationship that he's a surprisingly effective marriage counsellor. People with problems in their marriage see how miserable he is as a single person and they instantly feel better about their own situation.
  • Cruel Intentions begins with a psychologist who has written a book on the parenting of teenagers. Her daughter has been easily seduced and posed for nude pictures, which are on the web in a parody of her mother's book cover. When she phones Mom in distress, she is put on hold, and when Mom picks up the phone and finds out what happened, the poor girl gets a very unkind and unhelpful response.
  • The premise behind Dan in Real Life. Dan's an advice columnist with a rather difficult home life.
  • The mother from Freaky Friday (2003) also is a therapist, but the relation with her daughter isn't the best either. The fun comes after their "Freaky Friday" Flip when it turns out her daughter is a better therapist when it comes to counseling parents, because of her subjective experience from the other side.
  • In Garden State, Andrew Largeman's therapist is his father. Another doctor lampshades the fact that his father becoming his therapist is a bad idea in general and highly unprofessional of him. This is strongly expressed by the fact that when Largeman was a child, he knocked over his mother in a brief moment of frustration over her depression, resulting in an accident which left her paraplegic, his father jumped to the conclusion that he had anger issues and he prescribed him lithium he didn't really need before eventually sending him to a boarding school.
  • The Impossible Years is a 1960s play/film about the home life of a college professor and psychologist who writes materials on family relations. Specifically, on how to handle teenagers (authoritatively espousing a lax parenting style). But he has teenage daughters himself. You can see where this is going... (And what was the word on the other side of that sign?)
    • The film (and the play it was based on) was written by Arthur Marx, son of Groucho Marx. The teenage girl in "The Impossible Years" is based on his own step-daughter, Linda...who was also his niece, as Marx divorced his first wife, Irene, and later married Irene's sister, Lois.
  • In A Knight's Tale, William’s dad is a thatcher or roof maker by trade. But he went blind and couldn’t fix his own roof. William does it for him and it sets up part of the film’s climax since Adhemar catches him at it and exposes him.
  • In Local Hero, the local Scot fishermen brag about the high-quality lobsters they catch, noting they'll be in the finest restaurants around the world. When asked if they eat lobster too, they chuckle no — it's too expensive.
  • The protagonist in Machine Gun Preacher becomes a hero to children in Uganda when he goes there to build orphanages and ends up rescuing children kidnapped by Joseph Kony's forces, but his wife accuses him of being an absentee father to his daughter back home.
  • In Korean romantic comedy Marriage Blue, Yi-ra is a wedding planner who organizes romantic, fancy weddings. She is so nervous and jittery about her own rapidly approaching Altar the Speed wedding (she got knocked up) that she breaks up with the baby's father.
  • We are first introduced to hostage negotiator Chris Sabian in The Negotiator as he is failing to persuade his wife to come out of the bedroom in which she has locked herself. Summed up succinctly with this line:
    Chris Sabian: You know, I once talked a man out of blowing up the Sears Tower, but I can't talk my wife out of the bedroom or my kid off the phone.
    Lisa Sabian: That's because nobody's standing behind you with a big gun!
    Chris Sabian: That's debatable.
  • Sophia in Shortbus is a sex therapist/couples counselor who's never achieved orgasm and has a marriage riddled with issues.
  • In Star Wars, C-3PO is a protocol droid who, in addition to being a translator, knows the customs and manners of thousands, perhaps millions of planets and species. It's his job, in diplomatic situations, to facilitate and smooth out social interactions. And it's also a Running Gag that Threepio is consistently awful at reading the room.
    • In A New Hope, he somehow is oblivious to the fact that Owen Lars is annoyed and unimpressed by his flowery speech and simply wants answers direct and to the point, to the point that he finally tells the prattling droid to shut up.
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, he compulsively quotes the (always low) odds of survival whenever the Rebels take a risky strategy, even after Han explicitly makes it clear that he doesn't want to hear it and doesn't care either way.
      • When he walks in on Han and Leia passionately kissing, it doesn't occur to him that maybe his news about the reversed power coupling could wait a moment.
    • In Return of the Jedi, he refuses to violate his programming to impersonate a deity, even to save his friends from the Ewoks. When he learns that said friends are to be cooked and eaten at a feast in his honor, he is rather tickled, ignoring that not only will they all die, but this will doom the Rebel assault on the second Death Star and by extension the entire galaxy.
    • In The Force Awakens, he doesn't consider that Han and Leia, a married couple who have been separated for years, may need a moment of peace during their reunion. Instead, he butts in between them, cheerily greeting Han. He also assumes that Han doesn't recognize him because of his new arm, despite Han's facial expression making it clear that he knows exactly who he's talking to.
  • A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness: Miyake, a reporter for a golf magazine, is out on a golf course with a business contact. Miyake takes a mighty swing at the ball on the tee and misses completely. He swings again, and the ball dribbles forward about six feet. When the businessman expresses disbelief that Miyake writes for a golf magazine, Miyake says the Japanese equivalent of this very phrase, translated in the subtitles as "A sandalmaker's children go barefoot."
  • In Thanks For Sharing, Mike is a long-term recovered addict who fully embraces the 12-step philosophy, and acts as a tough but compassionate sponsor/mentor to other recovering addicts. But he's a massive Jerkass to his own recovering-addict son.
  • The Wedding Planner's eponymous character has a lonely and awkward love life. On another level, she's always dreamed of having a quiet, simple wedding; nothing like the elaborate, chaotic galas she supplies for clients. Of course, she knows firsthand how nerve-wracking the latter can be...
  • The psychiatrist's family in What About Bob? is highly dysfunctional, thanks to the therapist in question being a domestic tyrant.

  • A child psychologist gives a series of lectures titled "Rules For Raising Children". After the birth of his first child, he changes the title to "Guidelines For Raising Children". When he has a second child, he now calls it "Suggestions For Raising Children". After a third child, "Ideas For Raising Children". When his children become teenagers, he discontinues the lectures.


By Author:

  • In one of James Herriot's books, he describes how the kid singing their Drill Sergeant's bawdy song loudest and with the most enthusiasm turned out to be the son of an archbishop.

By Work:

  • Anne of Green Gables:
    • Defied in L. M. Montgomery's Anne's House of Dreams: Gilbert, being a doctor, is very solicitous about Anne's health, explicitly wishing to refute the proverb "Cobblers' wives go barefoot and doctors' wives die young."
    • Played straight by Rainbow Valley's Reverend Meredith, a Good Shepherd who is too busy ministering to his flock to have the first clue about the needs of his own four children. He's eventually forced to take notice when his daughter Una goes without food to punish herself for some perceived misdeed and faints in church as a result.
  • In Charles Dickens' Bleak House, Mrs. Jellyby is heavily involved in charity work for poor children but neglects her own large family.
  • The premise of the parody book A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge had Scrooge's successor to his business, Bob Cratchit, be so generous with his money he's actually driving the company to the ground and making it on the verge of bankruptcy with his generosity. Because of this, the three ghosts of Christmas return to "teach Bob Cratchit the true meaning of money" (in other words, teaching him to avoid this trope).
  • A tragic example occurs in Daddy's Little Girl. Ellie lampshades that despite being a decorated state trooper who saved many lives, her father couldn't prevent the murder of his own daughter, which just adds to his grief.
  • The Dresden Files: Molly Carpenter is an extremely sexually attractive young woman, with multiple piercings and a certain amount of emotional tumult, such that she spends a good portion of the first few books living away from home. Her dad is a devout Catholic, and Knight of the Cross, and takes orders from the archangel Michael. He is rather worried about the direction Molly is going in. She turns out to be a witch - which is not so much of a problem in his book, given that his best friend is a wizard. And a Black Magician. And, eventually, a murderer...
  • In Carolyn Mackler's The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Virginia's mother is a supposed "expert" on teen psychology. However, she has a tenuous relationship (at best) with her own teenage daughter, treating her like the Butt-Monkey of the family simply because she doesn't share her parents' or her older siblings' interests or goals. She also frequently verbally berates Virginia for her weight, among other things. In a particularly shameful move for a psychologist, both parents try to block Columbia University from prosecuting their son after he date-rapes another student.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In the series, it is often commented on how the Weasley family have old and slightly threadbare clothing, due to them being somewhat poor. It is baffling, given the extent and complexity of the spells seen commonly used in this verse, that "tailoring" isn't simplicity itself. Arthur and Molly, in particular, are shown to be quite skilled at magic, though there are seven kids' worth of clothes to deal with (albeit two of them grown up and on their own by the beginning of the series). It's also hard to see why they can't magic up a bigger, better house.
      • This is largely justified by the fact that magical tailoring is implied to be a specialist skill, given that every young witch and wizard goes to a magical tailor for school robes, and conjuration is a very difficult aspect of transfiguration - plus there's the small issues of plumbing, heating, etc.
    • A minor case regarding Hermione. Her parents are Muggle dentists, yet she grew up with buck teeth that were fixed only magically during her fourth year. Her parents can be forgiven for not wanting her to magically do it herself if they did tell her so, but it's a bit baffling why they never bothered to apply their professional skill on her via Muggle means. Justified by the British Teeth trope. Cosmetic dental procedures are not popular in England, due to their perception as a sign of excess; they find perfectly straight, blindingly white teeth rather disturbing to look at. Unless her teeth were sufficiently misaligned to risk damage, her parents may have elected to leave them as is rather than risk replacing one social stigma (large teeth) with another (rich girl teeth).
  • Quoted in Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis by an adult Bobby Garfield. He is a carpenter, yet admits his own roof leaks in a good rain.
  • The titular Heralds in the Heralds of Valdemar series are (among other things) the kingdom's judges and diplomats. They also usually have Psychic Powers (and if not, they have a Bond Creature who does). This doesn't stop them from having the same disagreements and miscommunications as any other group — up to and including Herald Talia, whose Gift is Empathy and whose job description is "most trusted advisor".
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss assumes that Peeta, being a member of the merchant class and the son of a baker, hasn't known hunger the way she and her family has. She's surprised to find out that despite his family baking for a living, they rarely get to eat any of the bread themselves, only the stale loaves they can no longer sell.
  • Dustin Tillman in Dan Chaon's Ill Will is a hypnotist and therapist whose patients include people trying to break addictive habits. He misses his son Aaron's descent into heroin addiction.
  • Rachel of Tish Cohen's Inside Out Girl edits a parenting magazine, but when she tries to apply her advice to her own kids, it comes off as cheesy and fake.
  • In Jezycjada by Małgorzata Musierowicz, there is Ewa Jedwabińska, a very, very driven psychologist (currently working at school, which she resents) whose child runs away from home under a series of assumed names. Played for Drama.
  • Lampshaded in Orson Scott Card's Lovelock, when scientist Carol Jeanne Cocciolone's marriage to her marriage-counselor husband falls apart due in part to the latter's adultery, mother issues verging on an Oedipus Complex, and latent homosexuality.
    Carol Jeanne: Who theraps the therapist?
  • Nina Tanleven: Referenced in The Ghost in the Big Brass Bed when Nine's father, who restores old buildings for a living, decides that after years of being too busy, it's time for him to restore their own house, starting by stripping the old (and ugly) wallpaper from their stairwell and replacing it.
  • Vivien Lowe, the titular character of The Obituary Writer, is renowned for her obituaries that celebrate the lives of the dead, which is helped by her ability to connect with strangers. But when the deceased is the daughter of her best friend, whom she bonded with and witnessed the birth of, it's decidedly more difficult for her.
  • In The Orphanage Girls, the orphanage’s main trustee is like a mother to the orphans, showers them with attention, and is always eager to help them, but has an extremely strained relationship with her own daughter.
  • In Paper Towns, as psychologists, Q's parents are pretty good at reading people. Not so much at reading their son though. Q points this out at one point.
  • The eponymous character of The Picture of Dorian Gray falls in love with the actress Sybil Vane because of her ability to act out Shakespeare's romances. When Dorian invites Basil and Lord Henry to see her play Juliet her acting is terrible. Her only experience with romance was in the roles she played and they could never compare to actually being in love.
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain Penny's mother is The Audit, a superhero renowned for her ability to analyze and predict what will happen. She fails entirely to work out the identity of The Inscrutable Machine, a supervillain team of three people her daughter's age that first appeared at the middle school she attends. It consists of a mad scientist called Bad Penny, a girl with the ability to cloud people's minds called E-Claire, and a masked boy in black who doesn't talk called Reviled, and is actually her burgeoning super-scientist daughter, her "super-cute" powered friend Claire, and her friend Ray Viles who wears black and has a very distinctive accent. Her mind appears to rebel against the notion, as she does notice the very obvious similarities but concludes that it's some sort of copycat/evil clone scenario.
  • In Ragged Dick, the titular boot-black's shoes are always in terrible condition because he considers blacking too valuable to waste on himself.
  • Michel Duval from the Red Mars Trilogy is the First Hundred's therapist, and winds up having a mental breakdown. He was well aware he was in need of therapy, but his therapist was a significant time lag away and unable to help him, while he was unable to help himself.
  • In the memoir The Rise The Fall And The Rise by Brix Smith-Start, note  Brix wonders how her psychiatrist father was so good at his job despite his own myriad psychological issues.
  • In one story about Sherlock Holmes, he and Watson break into the house of blackmailer Milverton, which goes horribly wrong. After that, Holmes comments that for all years where he looked for criminals based on small clues they left, he still didn't manage to cover his own tracks.
    • Watson opens "The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk" by noting that the medical practice that he had purchased had been declining for years due to the previous owner's poor health, noting that patients "[look] askance at the curative powers of the man whose own case is beyond the reach of his drugs."
  • In Taking Flight by Siera Maley, main character Lauren is a troubled teenager shipped off to live with David, a counselor who specializes in rehabbing kids like her. Yet David fails to notice that his wife, Wendy, has basically dragooned their son into a wedding he feels too young for, and their daughter has stayed in the closet because her mother is a homophobe, and is also burying her dream of being an artist because Wendy doesn't consider it worthwhile. Both children are unreasonably concerned with making her happy when it should be the other way round. David is, by all accounts, good at what he does, but he's disturbed to realize that his wife is suffocating their children while he has expected them to be role models for the juvenile delinquents he takes in, which is a lot of pressure to be perfect. He decides to take a break from all that to focus on his own family.
  • You Should Have Known revolves around a therapist writing a book by the same name, in which she upbraids women for not trusting their instincts and allowing their partners to cheat on them. Before the book gets printed, she discovers that her own husband has been keeping a secret from her that forces her to reevaluate her own life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Animal Planet Heroes: More often than not, the investigators wind up having to deal with people whose professions directly involve animals. The best example would be the farrier who neglected his horses' hooves to dangerous levels, despite it being his job to take care of equine feet.
  • On Battlestar Galactica (2003) Doc Cottle is in charge of sickbay on the ship and is the physician Adama recommends to Laura Roslin for her cancer treatment. He is rarely seen without a cigarette in his hand.
  • Leonard's mother on The Big Bang Theory is a brilliant and world-renowned psychologist and parenting expert who treats her family very, very badly. He confesses to Penny in one episode that he built a hugging machine when he was a child just so he could feel like somebody loved him. Her other children also suffered from the lack of affection/birthday celebrations/Christmas celebrations, etc. and whenever one of their accomplishments, personal or professional, is brought up, she doesn't express any pride or joy because they aren't her accomplishments. Then there is her husband, who borrowed the aforementioned hugging machine. She mentioned that the only times in the marriage that they had sex was to consummate it and for reproduction. His having an affair would indicate that this arrangement was largely her choice, and then the likely lack of affection that plagued the rest of the family. It is all played for laughs, but all evidence indicates that she was/is EXTREMELY emotionally abusive and/or neglectful to her entire family despite being a world-renowned psychologist and parenting expert. As far as the latter, her parenting philosophy seems to revolve around justifying neglecting one's children, which likely makes her books popular among parents who are feeling overwhelmed.
    • Keep in mind, there are enough hints to suggest that Leonard is actually the subject of a long-running experiment, detailing the psychological impact of depriving a child of any and all maternal affection. She mentions having written several books on their relationship already, such as Needy Baby, Greedy Baby. Mind you, this would be extremely unethical behavior for a scientist. Either way is appalling in its own right.
    • At one point, she tries diagnosing Leonard, but wildly misses the mark, thinking he has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which he super doesn't. She came to this conclusion talking about him behind his back with Sheldon, who displays every single sign in the DSM-5. Leonard's mother herself displays some symptoms, most obviously Lack of Empathy.
  • One of the contestants on a season of The Biggest Loser was a nutritionist.
  • Blue Bloods: One of the subplots of "Unbearable Loss" features the fallout over Jamie (non-fatally) shooting a man who was trying to rob him for drug money in a sting operation. As Eddie begins to read the man his Miranda rights, he interrupts her with this Wham Line:
    Scott: I know. My dad's a cop.
  • The Broad City episode "St. Marks" has a 34-year-old thieving Basement-Dweller whose mother is a psychiatrist.
    Mom: Timothy! What is wrong with you?
    Timothy: I don't know, Mom. Why don't you tell me? You're the psychiatrist. Or do I need to make an appointment?
    Mom: Maybe you should. But you can't afford me because you don't work!
  • Jake Peralta in Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a brilliant detective but he tends to miss key facts about his coworkers. For example, he completely failed to realize that Holt was gay, even though it was public knowledge and Holt even had a framed newspaper article about it hanging in his office.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow's mom cites many statistics and social movements related to young people, but seems unable to view her own daughter as an individual unique from anyone else. From the Buffy wiki, Sheila Rosenberg "had also been involved in co-authoring material regarding problematic adolescent behavior."
  • Michael Westen from Burn Notice regularly insinuates himself into the life of the villain of the week, be it a crime boss, drug dealer, Government agent, contract killer, or anything else, and draws them into an elaborate web of deception. However, even the most benign attempt to fool his mother always falls flat. He also mentions being well-trained in firearms and combat... but still has no defense against mom crying into his chest.
  • Canada's Worst Driver: Some of the candidates' relatives have professions pertaining to traffic and some have trouble Driving Stick despite owning or having driven manual-transmission cars.
  • Detective Kate Beckett in Castle is a brilliant and successful homicide detective who is, at the beginning of the series, nevertheless completely unable to make any headway in investigating her own mother's murder and locating the persons responsible, and it's been in large part due to the help she's received from Richard Castle in investigating it over the series that she's made any headway thus far. Justified both in that Beckett tends to suffer from tunnel vision and emotional compromise whenever her mother's case comes up, and it eventually comes to light that her mother's death was part of a larger conspiracy with a US senator at the top.
  • There was a contestant on The Chase who had apparently written a book about how to win game shows. He lost at the personal chase and didn't even manage to get more than a few questions right in the cash builder. Best not to think about what must have happened to the sales of said book afterwards.
  • Cheers: Frasier Crane is a highly capable psychiatrist when it comes to helping other people. After season 4, he's sitting on a mountain of psychopathic anger towards Diane for dumping him at the altar (even expressing regret for not killing her at one point), and from season 5 grief towards his mother's sudden death. In season 6, he manages to cure Carla of her fear of flying, at the cost of giving himself severe agoraphobia in the process.
  • In the pilot episode of Clarissa Explains It All, Clarissa mentions that her father is an architect who designs oddly shaped (albeit creative) buildings. She then noted how lucky her family was to not be able to afford to live in any of the buildings he creates.
  • On Common Law, the main characters have to see a new couple's therapist but are not thrilled to discover that the guy is in the middle of an extremely nasty divorce. When they initially overhear him on the phone with his wife, they assume that he is one of the patients.
  • In The Complete Guide To Parenting, George Huntly (Peter Davison) is a professor of child psychology who is absolutely useless at parenting his seven-year-old son.
  • The team in Criminal Minds are brilliant criminal profilers, but have massively messed-up personal lives. In fact, the two members of the team who are probably the least messed up? They're the two who aren't actually profilers. The team does have a tendency to profile each other, but while they're great at deconstructing other people's behavior, they miss the emotional signs of those around them. Hotch was unaware of his wife's growing displeasure with his absence from her and their son's life, though it was quite obvious.
    • The killer in the episode "The Boogeyman" is revealed to be the son of the local school guidance counselor; apparently, he chose to murder other children because he resented the fact his father spent more time helping them than being a father to him.
  • Ellie Brass, the estranged daughter of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Police Captain Jim Brass, is a petty con artist, a drug addict, a drug mule, and, in later seasons, a lowlife prostitute. This culminated when she faked her own kidnapping, nearly killed CSI Brody who was serving as bait for the kidnapper (who Ellie killed), and finally killed her own mother/Brass' ex-wife — not that she wanted to, but because she would have recognized the kidnapper as Ellie's boyfriend. Not helping Brass' case is the fact that when the kidnapper made him choose between Ellie and Brody, he chose Brody. Ellie is, amazingly, not dead despite Brass being the one to confront her after she shot her mother; he is currently trying to amend his past by reaching out to a young prostitute who reunited with her father who unfortunately was the victim of the week.
  • Dr. Dibbs from Doc Martin is stunningly incompetent in treating herself, on a massive amount of self-prescribed medication, and having missed an almost fatal diagnosis. She's barely any better with her patients. Given that she spent over 20 years working as a nurse without any problem, it's heavily implied the only reason Dr. Dibbs is such a nervous wreck is that her husband pushed her to become a doctor and she cracked under the pressure.
  • Dog with a Blog:
    • Played With with Bennett James. He's a child psychologist, though his youngest daughter Chloe is a Cloudcuckoolander even for a seven-year-old. He does use his experience to aid his family, such as getting step-siblings Avery and Tyler to get along by adopting a dog, which unknowingly works because Stan can talk and help the kids with their issues.
    • Deconstructed in the It's a Wonderful Plot episode "Cat with a Blog", where Stan wishes he was a non-talking cat. Thanks to Avery snapping under academic pressures, Tyler becoming a punk and giving up on school, and Chloe getting lost in her imagination, Bennett's credibility as a child psychologist is ruined. He loses his job and becomes a basketball player that keeps getting bullied by the Harlem Globetrotters.
  • On ER the treatment of Mark's father causes a temporary rift between himself and Elizabeth. Elizabeth does not think Mark should be treating his own father and Mark wants his father to live at home rather than go into a hospice. Mark's father doesn't want to stay either but has mixed feelings about palliative care anyway. In the end, Mark prevails and his father dies at home.
  • On Firefly, Inara is a "Companion" who has no problem sleeping with her clients, or with firmly refusing Mal's advances. But as soon as Mal gives up on her and spends a night with another prostitute insteadnote , Inara finds a quiet dark corner so she can break down in tears.
  • Frasier:
    • Given that he's a psychiatrist, one would figure that Frasier Crane would be able to deal with his curmudgeonly father and persnickety brother and to find a woman who would make him happy, but noooo...
    • Eventually, Frasier actually does seek therapy from his Harvard professor/mentor, after the man demonstrated that Frasier couldn't help himself by having him roleplay calling in to his own show as himself. Played for laughs at the end of the episode, when Frasier and said mentor switch places so that Frasier may do the counseling.
    • For bonus points, Frasier's brother is also a psychiatrist, who spends the first few seasons trapped in an abusive and loveless marriage, while pining for his father's physical therapist.
    • Speaking of that loveless marriage, neither of them realizes that Niles' wife Maris is likely suffering from eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder, despite her numerous eccentricities — her bizarre eating habits, her terror of gaining weight, her obsession with plastic surgery — being a Running Gag. This one's somewhat debatable, however, as it's entirely possible that they have worked it out, but since Maris is otherwise so horrible and domineering they either can't manage to do anything about it or simply struggle to find the energy to care after a while.
    • Also, Niles is apparently an excellent psychiatrist who also possesses an encyclopedia's worth of neuroses and phobias, as demonstrated in this little exchange in which Niles perhaps gets a bit too oblivious to his own germaphobia when dealing with a patient:
      Patient: So, you don't think I have a problem, Dr. Crane?
      Niles: [Rummaging through a filofax] Not at all; merely a healthy regard for personal hygiene. [Finds a business card] Now, this is the number of the man who cleans my telephone.
  • Fuller House: DJ's assistant can't afford DJ's prices, so she has to go to another vet...and won't go to a "discount vet", when DJ offers her the employee discount.
  • Emma from Glee is the extremely OCD high school guidance counselor... who can't come to terms with her own mental disorder.
  • Grey's Anatomy:
    • Alex's younger brother requires surgery. He's unable to do anything and begs Bailey to perform a pro bono surgery, which she agrees to.
    • Meredith and Lexie's father is an alcoholic who ruined his liver because of it. The problem was too bad to fix, so he needed a liver transplant. Because of his alcoholism, he wasn't allowed on the transplant list, so Lexie begged Meredith to donate part of hers. Meredith's stepmother dies from a disease that Meredith incorrectly diagnosed.
    • Arizona chastises a friend for not going to see her when he first found out he had cancer. The guy gets treated too late and dies.
    • Meredith's mother died as a result of Alzheimer's Dementia (early onset, which she got before Meredith became a doctor). Derek, a neurosurgeon, doesn't want the same thing to happen to Meredith so he arranges a clinical trial to research the disease, which has Dr. Webber's wife as a participant. Unfortunately, Meredith invalidates the trial by messing with the data, while Adele Webber gets progressively worse and eventually dies.
  • An episode of How Clean is Your House? featured a professional cleaner whose own house was the dirtiest Kim and Aggie had ever seen.
  • How I Met Your Mother: From the episode "Columns".
    Hammond: I'm an architect without a home. You see the tragic irony in that?
  • The therapist on the HBO series In Treatment has his share of parental issues, as well as being recently divorced.
  • In The John Larroquette Show, John gets a physical that reveals high cholesterol, but his doctor brushes it off as unimportant, insisting that "the whole cholesterol scare is a bunch of bull." This comforts John, until the next day when the doctor dies of a massive heart attack.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent:
    • In one episode, the killer turns out to be the daughter of a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Both are extremely narcissistic (to the point where they once abandoned the girl in a restaurant on her birthday) and borderline psychotic in the masochistic games they play with each other. She is driven to kill simply to attract their attention.
    • When Goren's mentor, a skilled if bizarre criminal profiler, comes to town to catch a killer he's been stalking for years. Turns out the murderer isn't the one he was looking for after all—it was his own daughter, warped into copying a serial killer after realizing they were the only people who her father cares about (specifically, she does it because he believes there are no true female serial killers). In a much later episode, he kills nearly everyone Goren cares about (including himself) so that Goren can keep his mind on the job. Truly a paragon of sanity.
  • Lost subverts this in a very odd way. Jack, a spinal surgeon, needs his appendix removed... on a desert island... with the bare minimum of equipment (they have chloroform and ether on hand for anesthesia, and they use sewing thread for stitches). He has a dentist and an OB/GYN to help him, who could do the surgery for him, but he fervently believes that he should be awake and do it himself. He ends up in so much pain that they knock him out and do it for him.
  • The Amazon Original drama series Made in Heaven is about two friends with troubled romantic lives who run the titular wedding planning company. Tara's own marriage has lost its spark, not to mention her husband is cheating on her with her best friend, while Karan has a series of hookups while pining for his first love and can't get married at all, at least if he wants to marry someone he actually loves, because he's gay. This is the main theme of the series; the couples whose weddings the pair plan always have something wrong behind the glittery, perfect facades they present.
  • M*A*S*H: In "Dear Sigmund," psychiatrist Sidney Freeman visits the 4077th and its antics as an escape after a patient he was dealing with committed suicide, which caused Sidney to go into a massive funk. Frank hears the story and berates Sidney.
  • The Middleman: Similar to Willow's mom is Lacey's mom, Doctor Barbara Thornfeld, MD, Ph.D., a globe-hopping humanitarian who hobnobs with politicians and statesmen while trying to solve the world's problems. Consequently, she's simply unable to time with her daughter, and according to Lacey, only calls once a year "to rationalize forgetting about my birthday."
  • Midsomer Murders: one episode had a psychologist who was completely unaware her three teenage children were sociopathic murderers who'd started by making their father's death look like an accident.
  • The overarching plot of the short-lived series Miss Match was that a woman who was both a matrimonial attorney and a professional matchmaker couldn't handle her own relationships well.
  • Monk:
    • Dr. Charles Kroger is great as a psychiatrist, but he's at a loss when it comes to being a father to his own son Troy. In the episode "Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink", it's revealed that Charles has taken three paternity tests at the "request" of his son. Troy also calls his parents by their first names, and it turns out that Lieutenant Disher has arrested Troy once before (Troy responds "no" when Randy asks him if he's stayed out of trouble).
    • Similarly, Monk often does not understand things going on around him (like what a tie on a doorknob means, much to Natalie's amusement), but when it comes to The Summation, he's an expert.
    • Closer to the gist of the trope, Monk is capable of solving some of the toughest homicide cases but is frustrated that he couldn't figure out who killed his wife. The finale revealed that Monk was unable to solve the murder due to a lack of evidence. And once he did solve the murder and get all the dangling threads of his life cleaned up, his OCD became less excruciating to bear.
  • The Murder, She Wrote episode "One Good Bid Deserves a Murder" features a Hollywood psychiatrist with a full-blown persecution complex, who is convinced that Jessica is one of "them".
  • Ben in My Family has a recurring problem with treating his own family, as seen in this conversation with his assistant:
    Brigitte: I think it's a disgrace you can't make any time for your children. It's like the story of the cobbler's children who had no food.
    Ben: No, it's the story of the cobbler's children who had no shoes.
    Brigitte: That makes no sense, their dad was a cobbler.
    Ben: Let me tell you the story of a dental assistant who had no job.
  • The New Adventures of Old Christine: Matthew becomes a therapist during the show, but their family is extremely dysfunctional. He and his sister Christine are a bit too close, she is very self-centered, and they both have a screwed up relationship with their mother, among many other things. He lampshades this,note  saying that the amount of crazy in that house was too much for him to fix.
  • Odd Squad:
    • In "Oscar of All Trades", Oscar describes to Olive how, in an attempt to find a job at Odd Squad, he became a lifeguard for the Ball Room at Precinct 13579. The sole drawback to this job is that while Oscar is skilled at policing swimmers, he's unable to swim himself, so when he accidentally drops his whistle in the ball pit, he has to ask someone to get it for him.
    • In the Cold Open of "New Jacket Required", Oona calls Precinct 13579 to report an odd problem that she has, and Olympia and Otis arrive to help her. When they ask her why she can't fix the problem herself, she explains that she doesn't have any gadgets on her because she has the day off.
    • The episode "A Case of the Sillies" surrounds Dr. O getting the titular disease, and Ocean and Oona taking up the mantle in making a cure for her.
    • Arctic Mr. O is an Odd Squad Director in the Management department, but he's incredibly ditzy and doesn't even bother putting his authority to good use, nor does he have the physical strength that other Directors have. When the Sticky Sisters attack him in "Odd Beginnings: Part 1", he doesn't even try to fight back. It's justified by the fact that he is very distant from society, working in the Arctic away from people aside from his own agents.
  • In the Netflix thriller The One, about a company that finds people's "perfect matches" via genetic testing, the CEO's marriage is pure PR. While she and her husband do like each other, he's not her match or in a relationship with her; her actual match was someone else and it turned out wrong. Moreover, one of the board members is matched but cheating.
  • Orange Is the New Black: During Flaca's A Day in the Limelight backstory, we see that her mother took up sewing. She began dealing (fake) drugs to try and escape that life... only to end up doing the same thing in prison.
  • Emerson Cod, from Pushing Daisies is a very competent Private Investigator, even when he doesn't have a certain pie maker helping him. He still isn't able to find his missing daughter, though. In the series finale, the Narrator reveals that Cod's daughter comes to him, and it is suggested that she found him after reading his pop-up book, "Lil' Gumshoe", which he wrote for that specific reason.
  • The Righteous Gemstones: Eli Gemstone is the family patriarch of evangelical ministers who preach about holiness and morality. Behind the scenes, his family is riddled with dysfunction.
  • Scrubs:
    • Turk suffers from several unusual symptoms for a while but doesn't take it seriously until Molly Clock asks him how he would diagnose someone else with the exact same symptoms. Turk replies that it sounds a lot like the patient has developed diabetes. He goes to be examined and does have it.
    • Also occurs with Dr. Cox and his infant daughter Jennifer, who is born with a serious medical condition that required prenatal surgery. When she requires a shot, Dr. Cox doesn't want to be the one to give it to her because he doesn't want her to associate him with pain and instead walks around for hours trying to find someone he trusts to do it.
    • One episode has a pediatrician mention that parents of sick children have it worse if they're doctors, as the parent will always want to try to diagnose the child and will worry a lot more because they've "seen too much".
    • They also have this with Ben, Cox's best friend/brother-in-law, who is diagnosed with leukemia but continues Walking the Earth for two years instead of seeing a doctor. It's because of this that he dies when he returns in season 3.
  • Brenda's mother and father in Six Feet Under, a psychologist and psychiatrist respectively; arguably half the family's problems are caused by the fact that they are constantly psychoanalyzing each other. (They're also never shown to be particularly competent therapists, albeit quite financially successful.)
  • Skins: Leon Levan is a life coach and motivational speaker. One of his sons has been thrown out of the house and now lives the life of an aimless drifter, and the other one feels as though he is imperfect, the inferior son and finally ends up destroying their kitchen.
  • Tony Soprano's therapist on The Sopranos is divorced and goes to therapy with her ex-husband and college-age son. (This actually makes a lot of sense; dealing with other people's problems constantly must make you want to unburden yourself as well. Apparently, a lot of therapists do this.)
  • When the medical officer on the spaceship Pegasus in Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets develops cancer, he refuses to undergo chemotherapy because he doesn't want the toxic byproducts excreted in his urine to contaminate the ship's water supply.
  • Ezri is introduced on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as an assistant therapist; however, in the wake of being joined with the Dax symbiont (which she never prepared for), she's the one who needs counseling.
  • Hugh Culber of Star Trek: Discovery is a medical doctor who becomes the ship's therapist in season 3, helping the crew deal with the trauma of shooting themselves into the 32nd century and finding that The Federation is now The Remnant of its former self. The problem is that he hasn't fully processed his own trauma of being murdered and resurrected, and he ends up in real danger of falling apart while trying to hold everyone else together. It takes a dose of Brutal Honesty from Dr. Kovich to help him realize that he needs downtime for himself and his husband Paul Stamets.
  • Tokyo Vice: Polina is a professional hostess at a Japanese hostess bar who makes her living by bilking lonely men into buying her bottles of champagne. It turns out that her "boyfriend" is also a host who is actually just bilking her out of her money by getting her to buy him champagne where he works.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has Kimmy's therapist Andrea. Andrea is a very capable counselor, but she's also a drunken wreck who's completely unable to deal with her own issues in a healthy way. If anything, her psychological training only makes her more able to rationalize her bad behavior.
  • In season 6 of Veep, Amy is both fiancée and campaign manager to Buddy Calhoun, who is running for Governor of Nebraska. Buddy is put off by Amy's foul language and graphic sexual imagery in the workplace where he deems it inappropriate but is disappointed that she's unable to conjure the same kind of language when he asks her to talk dirty during sex.
  • In Virtuality, the ship's medical officer discovers he's in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.
  • In Westworld, Theresa asks Lee how he can be in charge of writing dialogue for the hosts when he's so shit at small talk.
  • There was an episode of What I Like About You in which Val was trying to get a client for her PR firm, a woman who had written a parenting book. Inevitably, when Holly meets the woman's own teenage daughter, she has just bought a box of home pregnancy tests.

  • The Barenaked Ladies song "Running Out of Ink" is sung from the viewpoint of a songwriter specializing in love songs...whose relationship with his significant other goes south. The songwriter eventually realizes he didn't actually know a thing about real love at all:
    Could song be an alibi
    A lyric replacement for falling in love
    But now that the well is dry
    I can't understand what I've been singing of
    Do you know what it is to love
    Do I?
  • The Creedence Clearwater Revival song "Wrote a Song For Everyone" has its Title Drop in the chorus followed up with "when I couldn't even talk to you."
  • The trope is used as a metaphor in Harry Nilsson's "Mr. Tinker". Mr. Tinker is a tailor who is unable to "fix" his life.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • The oft-quoted proverb from The Bible makes this trope Older Than Feudalism, possibly even Older Than Dirt since the Bible admits it isn't the first instance of said proverb.
      "Surely you will quote me this proverb, 'Physician, cure yourself,' and say, 'Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'" — Jesus, The Bible, Luke 4:23 (NAB)
    • It's implied that the reasons why so many kings from King David's line were evil is because their God-fearing fathers (whose choice of wife was more often motivated by political expediency or lust than finding a Godly woman) failed to teach them the importance of serving God properly.
  • In Classical Mythology, Hera was the goddess of marriage, but her own marriage to Zeus was — to put it mildly — dysfunctional.
  • In the Hindu Mythology epic Mahabharata, Dronacharya, widely accepted as the finest instructor of archery, doesn’t train his own son Ashwathama in the advanced techniques to use divine arrows. When Ashwathama demands to know why, he answers that Ashwathama never demonstrated the skill, proficiency, and dedication he should have.

  • As is common for this trope, Dr. Lancaster of Find Us Alive is a psychiatrist who has a very hard time taking his own advice. In a slight Deconstruction, this is treated as an outright dangerous and hypocritical trait at the worst of times, even once resulting in him lashing out at Harley and nearly passing out from exhaustion. From the way Harley responds, it seems that it's unfortunately common for him to snap at his friends when he's stressed. It also severely undermines his credibility as he nags Harley about his drinking habits, seeing as he has a pretty nasty caffeine addiction himself.
    Lancaster: Maybe that's how- maybe that's what it takes to get through to you!
    Harley: Get through to me?! What about you?! You can’t just keep telling everybody else to do things you don't do yourself! You look like shit, when was the last time you slept?!

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In WWE, Isaac Yankem, D.D.S. (one of Glenn Jacobs' early gimmicks before he became Kane) was Jerry Lawler's personal Depraved Dentist; however, he didn't take very good care of his own teeth.

  • In Footloose (the stage version at least) the main character lampshades this by quoting the phrase in reference to the behavior of the local pastor's daughter.
  • In Jasper in Deadland, Agnes acts as Jasper's Living Emotional Crutch by being the one person in his life who is able to give him hope and help him to believe that life is worth living, but near the end of the show, she ends up needing help not to give up on life and stay in Deadland.
  • In Under Milk Wood Dai Bread, the village baker, neglects to bring bread home to feed his family. As one of his wives puts it, "Dai Bread forgot the bread".

  • Warhammer 40,000: The God-Emperor of Mankind has a bad case of this in regards to his superhuman sons, the Primarchs. The Emperor is extremely charismatic, to the point where he can convince extremely hostile enemy armies to surrender through words alone and command massive armies with ease. So when the time came that he actually had sons, he figured that he could treat them the same as any soldier under his command, albeit extremely strong ones, and they would fall in line. Unfortunately, these kids were forced to grow up without him and really needed some fatherly love to help sort out some of their various psychological issues. This became a major part of why several of his sons rebelled and betrayed him to The Ruinous Powers.

    Video Games 
  • Common problem in MMO games, the healer gets so focused on keeping the other characters alive(especially the tanks, who, as the enemies' primary targets, may have dedicated healers focusing on them) that they forget their own health.
    • Even more common in MMOs where the healers and buffers don't even have the ability to heal and buff themselves.
    • It also happens in RPGs where you can tell a healer to automatically heal other characters. As a result, the AI focuses on the others first and neglects their own health.
  • Hugh Darrow from Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the man known as the "The Father of Tomorrow", inventor of modern human augmentation, author of countless books about transhumanism, and one of the most powerful, influential and beloved people in the world... has to walk with crutches, as he of all people suffers of an extremely rare genetic condition that causes his body to violently reject augmentations. There is just something so tragic about seeing an old man forced to watch all of his dreams of a better humanity coming true and knowing that he would be the only one not to enjoy the paradise he has created. This is his true motive for modifying the Illuminati's control signal to turn Augmented people into psychotic berserkers; he's become so bitter and misanthropic that he wants to kill them all out of spite.
  • Dishonored 2 reveals that the guy who makes the safes you find throughout the series is totally inept at securing his own property; he keeps forgetting the three-digit codes to his safe and when you break into his house, you'll find that the current combination is 123. And he has an extremely obvious painting giving away the code in the same room.
  • In Fallout 4's prologue, the Vault-Tec Rep is rejected from Vault 111.
  • In Final Fantasy VII Remake, Madam M runs a hand massage parlor that specializes in relieving stress and tension and providing general relaxation. However, she herself is a heavy Mood-Swinger who blows up at the drop of a hat and screams and shouts in frustration the moment things don't go her way.
  • In Fire Emblem, healers (clerics, monks, sages, druids, bishops, etc.) couldn't use their staves to heal themselves. This was altered only in Radiant Dawn, where units equipped with a healing Staff automatically recovers hitpoints each turn. Later installments give some units the ability to restore HP to themselves when healing others.
  • HuniePop:
    • Aiko teaches college-level mathematics, and ought to have a more objective view of probability than most people. Despite this, her favorite hobby is gambling at the local casino, and one of the pictures she sends the player is of her playing the slot machines. She might recognize the irony on some level: one of her quips if you take her to the carnival is, "Let’s go lose some rigged games!"
    • Beli is a Yoga instructor who strives for physical well-being and spiritual centeredness through the lifestyle she advocates, yet she struggles with the temptation of junk food and sometimes feels insecure about her body.
  • If team shrink Kelly Chambers survives the events of Mass Effect 2, she shows the most trauma of the NPC crew. In the third game, there's still too much emotional trauma to consider returning to the Normandy. A therapist with crippling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And if you botch your interactions with the character badly enough, they will be Driven to Suicide.
  • Persona:
    • In Persona 4, Sayoko Uehara develops past her "party nurse" side after a former patient of hers dies. Unfortunately, she develops into a Workaholic instead and doesn't manage to find a proper balance until after she's collapsed from overwork. One response you can give her is "Physician, heal thyself."
    • In addition, the one case Detective Ryotaro Dojima is unable to solve is the identity of the man who killed his wife in a hit-and-run accident. He feels wracked about it as the incident broke his daughter.
    • Persona 5 Royal adds Dr. Takuto Maruki, a part-time counselor who is hired to work at Shujin Academy after Kamoshida's change of heart. However, later in the game, it's shown that he could probably do with some therapy himself. Specifically, his girlfriend Rumi had a mental breakdown after her parents' murder and there was nothing he could do for her until he awakened to his Persona's ability and wiped her memory, causing her to forget her trauma and him.
  • Psychonauts 2 has the Psychic Six, the original founding members of the Psychonauts organization. They specialize in studying the mind, and as such have deep knowledge of issues relating to mental health, yet they're also a Dysfunction Junction, with nearly every member of the group having some kind of mental illness.
  • In The Sniper 2, Stanley Jones is an engineer working for a major electronics company - whom the protagonists pick up when his car breaks down on a desert highway. This does not go unremarked.
    CA: An engineer? I would have thought an engineer could handle a little car trouble.
    Stanley: Yeah, me too, but that hunk o' scrap is far beyond even my skills! Y'know them doctors who get shit 'cause they don't look after themselves? Now I know how they feel! HAHAHAHA!
  • Downplayed in Team Fortress 2, where The Medic cannot use his Medigun on himself, but has Gradual Regeneration to compensate. Averted by the Ubercharges, which do give the Medic the same effect as it gives the patient (although for the Kritzkrieg this is useless because it boosts attack power while the medigun is out and the medigun doesn't do damage; to compensate, the Kritzkrieg has an alternate use where the Medic can take a big huff from it in order to gain health).
  • In Trauma Center it is repeatedly quoted that "doctors cannot operate themselves".
    • However, in Trauma Team, Gabriel Cunningham has to examine his own son, Joshua Cunningham.
  • In Zone of the Enders: Dolores, i, James runs into the author of the fatherhood book that's helped him get back together with his estranged children (more or less), just in time to see him have a panic attack as his own son busts out of jail looking for him.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: The Curious Cat is a magical therapist whose Semblance is the superpower to heal others' minds. Unfortunately, he was created as a prototype by his neglectful fathers, whose destructive hijinks eventually convinced their mother to exile the two - leaving him untreated and stuck with a feral serial killer as his only family. Unable to heal himself with his own powers, he went completely insane.

  • In Archipelago, Simon is the assistant to the Willium Drake, famous demon hunter, monster slayer, and protector of Coin Island. Right when we meet him, his own consciousness is completely overpowered by a demon, and Willium (an actual Consummate Professional) is too busy investigating some mysterious murders to even consider the possibility. And yes, the murders have everything to do with the demon possessing Simon.
  • In Homestuck, Rose is constantly trying to psychoanalyze her friends and their family issues, yet dismisses her own mother's sincere-if-overblown gestures of affection and attempts to connect to her as spiteful and passive-aggressive.
  • Dr. Gardevoir of Level 30 Psychiatry can't figure out how to cure her own split personae.
  • In Something*Positive, Jason's father is another psychologist who can't relate to his own family. Or in this case, he apparently tried to relate to them by using his knowledge to manipulate them into acting the way he wanted, if Jason is to be believed.

    Web Original 
  • There are dozens of articles online titled things like "Reasons to Date a(n) X," with different occupations. One such, entitled "20 Reasons to Date a Writer," annoyed an actual writer so much she actually took to her blog to shred the whole idea, citing this as a reason, namely if a writer is getting paid to write, he or she's not going to waste good material on you for free. Similar articles exist citing such things as a chef not wanting to cook when they get off work and the like.
  • In Epic Rap Battles of History, Elon Musk mocks Mark Zuckerberg for running the world's largest social network while being awkward and unsociable in real life.
    Musk: Who put the elf with no friends in charge of human connection?
  • Glamour Magazine's YouTube site filmed a video where divorce lawyers give relationship advice. After their years of experience in the courtroom, their advice is very sensible (accept that you cannot change an introvert into a party person, for example) and they even stated that they still feel romantic and for at least one of them, the divorces they look over give her more motivation to keep her marriage strong.
  • This "How to succeed at Kickstarter/crowdfunding" book. As per added hilarity, it failed miserably at reaching its funding goal and hence likely won't be made. Would have thought a Kickstarter "expert" would have better luck at using the site!

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In a flashback in the episode "Helpers", Founders Island (the location of the last functioning human colony on Earth) was stricken by a deadly Synthetic Plague which wiped out nearly two-thirds of the population. However, the fatality rate of the Helper caste (the equivalent of caretakers or doctors) was one-hundred percent. Finn's mother Minerva was the only survivor, and only because she underwent last resort Brain Uploading.
  • In As Told by Ginger, both of Macie's parents are therapists so naturally, she has to make appointments to see them, they forget her birthday and don't even know how old she is. The parents realize how neglectful they are and attempt to make it up to her. They're only in one episode, so we don't know how well that worked out.
  • Played for Drama in "The Tale of Iroh" from the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Tales of Ba Sing Se". Iroh spends the whole day helping whoever he comes across, then mourns the fact that he was unable to do so for his own son.
  • In the Batman Beyond episode "Payback," the high school counselor has little time for his own son, resulting in the son becoming the titular villain and targeting the stressors of his father's clients.
  • Braceface had an episode where Sharon wanted to get a tattoo and her mother, a family councellor, wouldn't let her. While her mother is running a seminar on trust between parents and children and how to use that bond to protect your kids from making bad decisions, she uses 'convincing' Sharon not to get a tattoo as an example. An assistant then comes in and informs her that her daughter was sent to the hospital after passing out in a seedy tattoo parlour.
  • In Danny Phantom, the titular character's parents are ghost hunters who spend the whole series not being able to figure out that their own son is half-ghost, up to including failing to notice that Danny's ghost self has the same freakin' first name as their son. Lampshaded in "The Ultimate Enemy" by Danny's evil future self when he taunts them for this.
  • The Donald Duck cartoon "Fire Chief" provides the page image. Here he plays the chief of the local fire department, who berates his nephews for their incompetence, yet accidentally sets his own firehouse on fire and burns it to the ground when he hooks up the hose to the fire truck's gas tank.
  • Harley Quinn: Harley was a trained psychologist and expertly diagnosed many of the Arkham inmates' mental problems, but it takes her a good long while to acknowledge and confront the serious mental problems she herself has.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "On Your Marks," the Cutie Mark Crusaders have finally achieved their goal of getting their cutie marks some time ago. The only problem is, they have to ask themselves "now what are we going to do?" While Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo take up new hobbies, Apple Bloom is left pondering the future, and how to go about their special skill of helping other ponies discover their true talents. Apple Bloom feels especially down when she realizes that, despite her talent being helping others with their unique abilities and passions, she can't seem to find one of her own.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Bart's Girlfriend", Reverend Lovejoy's daughter Jessica is a bratty, manipulative hellion who steals from the church collection plate. Near the end of the episode, Jessica keeps mentioning things she did ("Remember the glee club brawl?!") in a baldly obvious attempt to win her father's attention, as he tries to ignore her by covering his ears and singing "Bringing In the Sheaves" loudly. Mrs. Lovejoy is characterized throughout the series as an excessive busybody and Moral Guardian who frequently justifies her pushiness and interfering in the affairs of others by protesting "Won't someone please Think of the Children!?"; while she seems excessively concerned with how other people are raising their children, she's apparently not that good at raising her own...
    • In "Children of a Lesser Clod", Homer becomes a Friend to All Children after he spends a night watching over Flanders's kids and sets up his own daycare center as a result. He then proceeds to neglect his own kids, forces them out of their bedrooms, and makes them work long hours for the benefit of both him and his daycare. Bart and Lisa eventually retaliate by showing all the parents of Springfield just how unreliable and abusive he can really be.
  • Steven Universe: Steven is very good at getting others to open up and helping them through whatever emotional problems are plaguing them. However, he frequently does this at the expense of dealing with his own personal issues until they overwhelm him. "What's Your Problem?" focuses on Amethyst's acknowledgement of the issue. She spends the episode trying to get Steven to have fun and open up about how he feels about a recent, very personal, still-fresh reveal, even as Steven himself is focused on finding and helping the runaway Ruby. When Steven tries to get Amethyst to talk, Amethyst makes it very clear that she has no intention of dumping "another thousand-year-old complex" onto him and making him feel responsible for something he's under no obligation to deal with.

    Real Life 
  • Historical example: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) wrote a lot of material on innovative ways of child-rearing and education, mostly centered around the concept of the child as an unspoiled creation of nature who should not be tainted by science and reason and civilized normsnote , but allowed to develop naturally. Also, he had five children (with a woman he did not marry), all of whom were immediately after birth placed in an orphanage and never heard from again... which somewhat puts his knowledge on child-rearing into doubt, or most likely he saw himself as a bad father and poor civilizing influence on the kids, which he more or less admits in his Confessions.
  • Charles Schulz, who went on to create Peanuts, was said to have very bad haircuts as a kid, in spite of the fact that his father was a barber. The reason for this is said to be that he could only get a cut when the barbershop was empty, and when a customer came in he had to get out of the chair and wait before his dad could finish working on him.
  • The wife of 2010 FIFA World Cup Final referee (and police officer by profession) Howard Webb has said (albeit light-heartedly) that in the family home, he's useless at upholding discipline: "He can't take charge of his own children. I don't know how he manages it on a football pitch."
  • Psychologists themselves. Much has been written on the "wounded healer" archetype among mental health practitioners; this trope is both subverted and justified in an Indonesian adage that says, "There are two reasons someone becomes a psychologist. People who have the compassion to treat the madmen, and people who are madmen and want to be treated." So basically, people who have psychological issues may become psychologists themselves as a way of meeting their own psychological needs. The success, or not, is dependent on each individual. At worst, people enter the profession with no concept of how their own experience has affected them, and end up manipulating their clients to meet their emotional needs. At best, they become skilled and compassionate practitioners, thanks both to their ability to relate to their clients, and to the growth and self-awareness derived from a lot of therapy of their own.
    • Alice Miller, author of the classic book The Drama of the Gifted Child, noted that children who are forced to meet their parents' narcissistic demands often adapt to this trauma by developing an uncanny sense of others' feelings and needs and a drive to take care of others. This frequently leads them to grow up to be psychotherapists.
    • As a result of all this, going through one's own therapy is frequently a training requirement for mental health professionals, and clinical supervision often has characteristics of therapy for the supervisee. In particular, psychoanalysts since Freud have considered it an absolute requirement to go through their own analysis.
    • In the Australian code of ethics, mental health professionals are obliged to seek treatment for any psychological issues they have themselves, whether the issue is an actual disorder, a drug addiction, or just a very high stress level. In the healthcare profession as a whole, self-diagnosis is considered bad form (because it's all but impossible to be completely objective about one's own body; there's also the problem that you're liable to fail to self-diagnose by ignoring your own issues). There's also the popular perception that dealing with crazy people and their problems on a regular basis can drive someone nuts themselves (justified; vicarious trauma is definitely a thing).
  • If you live with a handyman of any sort, you know to expect anything that's not working right to stay that way for a long time. The main reason being that they are often busy fixing things for other people that pay them for their services and the house projects keep getting pushed farther back on their "to-do" list.
  • If you fix computers for a living, this article explains why it's actually often best not to draw attention to that fact around your friends and family. To summarize, it's because you'll be treated the same as you are at work (i.e. horribly) but you won't get paid for it.
  • There are idioms and sayings about this phenomenon in many languages. In Spanish-speaking countries, that would be "En Casa del Herrero, Cuchillo de Palo" (In the blacksmith's house, there are wooden knives), and the Portuguese version "Em casa de ferreiro, espeto é de pau" (Means the same thing). Another would be "Farol de la calle, oscuridad en la casa". (Streetlight outside, darkness inside). In French, a very similar phrase goes as "Les cordonniers sont les plus mal chaussés" (Shoemakers are the worst shod).
  • There is a logic puzzle (featured in a Professor Layton game, among other places) that depends on this: in a town with two barbers, half the townsfolk (including one of the barbers) have impeccable hairstyles, the other half (including the other barber) look like their hair was the lovechild of Chewbacca and Medusa. In some versions (which generally don't mention the haircuts of the general populace), the barber with the good hairstyle keeps a clean shop, while the scruffy barber's shop is very messy. The barber who gives good haircuts is the unkempt one. Since he can't cut his own hair, obviously he went to his colleague for a haircut, and vice-versa. In versions where the shops differ in cleanliness, it's because the unkempt barber, being better and more popular, doesn't have time to clean up between appointments, while the other barber is less popular and has plenty of time to clean up between haircuts.
  • Statistically, doctors are more likely to drink habitually, smoke, be depressed, and/or be suicidal than the general populace. All of these eventually lead to medical intervention of one stripe or another (unless the suicidal succeeds).
    • And, of course, to become doctors they need to get through medical school and residency, which typically entail chronic sleep deprivation, intermittent hasty meals, and high-stress overwork for years on end. It's a wonder that most doctors don't end up being total assholes.
  • Michael Jordan is near-universally considered the greatest basketball player of all time, and for good reason. Yet after retiring as an athlete, he went on to become the owner of the Charlotte Hornets note , who hold the record for the worst losing record in the history of the NBA. More broadly, Jordan's home state of North Carolina is infamous for this trope: one of its claims to fame is producing more notable basketball players than almost any other part of the United States, to the point that basketball is considered its unofficial pastime; Jordan himself (raised in Wilmington, originally played for UNC Chapel Hill) is the most famous example, while Stephen Curry (raised in Charlotte, originally played for Davidson College) and Zion Williamson (raised in Salisbury, originally played for Duke University) have come into prominence more recently. This just makes it all the more glaring that the state's only NBA team has such an abysmal record on the court.
  • Canadian Equals Hockey Fan is a trope for a reason. However, as of this writing, no Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since the 1992-93 season when the Montréal Canadiens won.note  That hasn't stopped Canada from dominating in Olympic ice hockey, however. The Canadian National Men's Hockey Team held the record for gold medals for over 50 years before being dethroned by the Soviet Union, and they still regularly make the top three at the Winter Olympics.
  • Woodrow Wilson's political career is a famous example.
    • As President of the United States, Wilson was almost singlehandedly responsible for the founding of the League of Nations—an international peacekeeping alliance of unprecedented scope and ambition, which rewrote the rules of international diplomacy forever and paved the way for the eventual creation of the United Nations. As a political scientist (the first to lead a Great Power), he had formulated the whole theory of liberal internationalism underwriting the League, and as a Determinator of a diplomat, he banged heads together until his vision was realized. At the time, the creation of the League of Nations was one of the greatest feats of diplomacy in human history, and it required convincing more than 50 different countries to trust each other enough to sit at the negotiating table together after World War I had split the world in two.
    • The one country that Wilson couldn't convince to join the League? His own. Isolationist sentiment in the United States was far-reaching after World War I, and many influential lawmakers in the country were cagey enough about foreign entanglements to stop the United States from becoming a member nation. If there ever was a chance for the United States to join the League, Wilson unintentionally threw it away by not bringing any major players from the Republican Party to the Peace Conference. In particular, Henry Cabot Lodge, the Senate Majority Leader, had expected a seat on the delegation and had few policy quarrels with the Versailles settlement. His disputes with Wilson were largely personal (Given Wilson's holier-than-thou attitude, his failure to bring Lodge is entirely characteristic of him). Thus, Wilson never got to join the organization that he helped build.
    • One political cartoon is of Wilson himself dragging a small boy in a sailor suit to a fancy gala and scolding him for his poor behavior while the boy tries his damnedest to refuse to comment on America's stance on the League of Nations.
  • William Pitt The Younger's approach to finance exemplifies this. As the British Prime Minister in the late eighteenth century, he attempted to reduce the national debt which had been racked up as a result of the American War of Independence; in this, he was successful — at least, until Britain found itself at war with France again. Yet personally, he had amassed debts of around £40,000 by the time of his death in 1806.
  • One of the reasons for the Dissolution of the Soviet Union was that Moscow invested heavily in its military and its subsidies to Warsaw Pact nations, but this meant that they did not invest nearly enough in internal development in the comparative time frame. As noted by Noam Chomsky: "The Soviet dominion was in fact that unique historical perversity, an empire in which the center bled itself for the sake of its colonies, or rather, for the sake of tranquility in those colonies. Muscovites always lived poorer lives than Varsovians...Throughout the region, journalists and others report, shops are better stocked than in the Soviet Union and material conditions are often better. It is widely agreed that Eastern Europe has a higher standard of living than the USSR."
    • This is actually far from unique in history. For example in Habsburg Spain, the Castilians were powerless to stop the king from bleeding them dry with taxes compared to the Basques, Catalans, or Portuguese, because the Castilian parliament was depowered in the aftermath of the 1517 Comuneros revolt (unrelatedly, the American colonies also cost Spain more money to maintain than they gave back until the Bourbons reformed the system in the 18th century). In the Ottoman Empire, the Anatolian Turks were stereotyped as country rubes by urban elites that were often Greek, Armenian, or Albanian in origin. And in the modern-day United Kingdom, England is the only of four constituent countries without a devolved parliament.
  • A lot of Silicon Valley residents including tech giants like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs enroll their children into Waldorf Schools, despite the main feature being that they're relatively low-tech and encourage families to limit their technology use in the home as much as possible. With Jobs being quoted saying that his children haven't used the iPad because of this.
  • Top-tier chefs rarely get to cook for their own families the kinds of fancy meals they make for television shows or restaurants. They either don't have the time or they're just tired of cooking.
  • The European colonial empires were ideally supposed to work by having the home country buy raw materials such as metals, timber, cotton, crude oil, and rubber from the colonies for relatively low prices. They would use their factories to turn this stuff into manufactured goods, then turn around and sell the finished product to the colonials at a considerably marked-up price. This could result in a lower rate of ownership of the very good which their colony was the origin of. The imperial power often perpetuated this situation by stifling the growth of manufacturing in the colonies themselves.
    • Postwar Britain also fell victim to this. To pay their war debt, they were forced to export the best product of their world-renowned coal mines to the US and other markets. Domestic consumption was reduced to poor, polluting lignite coal, which was responsible for the infamous "London Fog" - really a toxic smog that claimed many lives before coal power stations in the city were phased out.
  • Nazi Germany was one of the world's leading producers and users of coal, but in the late 1930s and throughout World War II there were persistent coal shortages, with Joseph Goebbels writing anxiously in his diary about the number of people who couldn't heat their homes in the winter. The problem was not with the mines, which were producing enough coal, but instead with the railways which conveyed it to the consumers. The Hitler government's mismanagement of the German railway system—which included packing the management with underqualified Nazi party members, eliminating performance quotas and merit-based pay for rail workers, mandating reduced ticket prices for passengers while not providing state subsidies to replace the lost revenue, and generally failing to expand and maintain the system to accommodate increasing demand—caused enough breakdowns, traffic jams, and delays to prevent efficient delivery of coal shipments. And that was all before the Western Allies started bombing German infrastructure. It didn't help that commodities such as coal were being allocated as part of an inefficient command economy, where knowledge of who needed what depended on local bureaucrats sending a flood of competing requisitions instead of quick feedback from market prices, and military or political figures had the ability to misappropriate resources that ought to have gone to people who needed them more.
  • The country of Iran is a huge producer of petroleum products, but citizens still pay high prices for gasoline. This has to do with the fact that consumption of gasoline has increased faster than refinery capacity, to the point where they actually have to import some of their gasoline. The effect of U.S. sanctions on the economy, and the limited number of countries willing to do business with them, have also hurt their currency and purchasing power.
  • Venezuela sits on the largest proven oil reserves in the world, but decades of corruption and lack of maintenance in the national oil company have been ruinous for the infrastructure needed to actually extract and refine the stuff. The Maduro government has presided over a total collapse of the oil industry, which has resulted in people waiting in line for days outside of gas stations, paying exorbitant prices on the black market, or simply being forced to walk instead of drive.
  • Sometimes, the cobbler's children are ill-shod, not because of the cobbler's lack of skill or care or even time, but because someone else keeps taking the shoes for themselves. Around the world, people who live surrounded by abundant natural resources don't get the benefit from the wealth those produce, which goes to others instead. As just one example, there was a heartbreaking editorial about the situation of the indigenous Cree people in the north of Quebec, a province which has grown rich and prosperous in major part thanks to abundant hydroelectric power, while the Indigenous people on whose lands the power is actually produced live in poverty. The editorialist quoted a Cree woman who pointed out that she didn't have electricity in her own house, which was located on Rue du Barrage ("power dam road").
  • Two of the most well-known advice columns, Dear Abby and Ann Landers, were written by two sisters, Pauline and Esther Friedman. The twins had been close-knit all through their childhood, but once they began writing their respective columns, they each accused the other of stealing their ideas, leading to a feud that lasted decades. The women who made careers out of giving relationship advice to thousands of people couldn't patch up a petty sibling squabble until they were both approaching their senior years.
  • The Las Vegas Strip is an interesting variation of this trope, in that it addresses locals' participation in its various amenities rather than their own gambling activities. Specifically, while the Strip is a major tourist attraction (and, therefore, a main source of employment for many in the Las Vegas area), most locals actually avoid the Strip's casinos on their time off, except for special occasions, instead going to less publicized casinos. Part of this has to do with the fact that, since the locals in the Vegas area work at the Strip's casinos for much of the calendar year, they understandably would need time away from there.

Alternative Title(s): Vocational Irony