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Ultimate Job Security

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"Sooner or later you will be found out. Hopefully by that time you'll have made yourself indispensable and they will look the other way. This is called reaching the Churchill Stage. This is that glorious state when you have made yourself appear (it doesn't have to be true) so invaluable that you can walk around the office with a bottle of bourbon hanging from your hand and no one will breathe a word."
Frank Kelly Rich, Juicing on the Job

In fiction, there are certain characters who may be damn good at what they do; however, their general behaviour should have gotten them fired or at least severely disciplined long ago. If the good guys have this, expect it to be eliminated when the Tyrant Takes the Helm. Common to Work Coms, and Cowboy Cops. May be decreed by Status Quo Is God.

Unfortunately, this is Truth in Television in a number of places, since bosses often see it as a trade-off. Note that the employees might not always want this, since the ones who actually care about doing a good job are forced to spend a lot of time cleaning up the messes made by coworkers who milk this trope. When that happens, the employees might be just as happy to see their coworkers gone.

Compare Contractual Immortality, Bunny-Ears Lawyer, Mildly Military, Nepotism, Vetinari Job Security, Permanent Elected Official. Contrast George Jetson Job Security. For office conflicts that seem to have no outside recourse, see No Such Thing as H.R. If you have Ultimate Job Security whether you want it or not, see Resignations Not Accepted.


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  • Johnson, an office drone in commercials for Kellogg's Raisin Bran Crunch cereal. He seem to do nothing but sit at his desk all day eating the advertised cereal. His low-level boss, Smith, really wants to fire him, but is unable to because the bosses at the company are idiots who somehow seem to think anything Johnson does is brilliant, even giving him Employee of the Month in one of the ads.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Mr. Kimura from Azumanga Daioh is an ephebophile who openly admits he only became a teacher so he could look at high school girls, and he'll even skip his own class if it means he can look at the girls during swim lessons. Despite the girls and other teachers being aware of this, and even with him making some strong advances on Kaorin, nobody seems to actually do anything serious about it, mostly just telling him to buzz off.
  • Ugen Kokonoe of Cage of Eden blows up his classroom on a regular basis and has never been arrested, let alone fired. The students are completely baffled as to why.
  • In The Case Files of Jeweler Richard, Seigi repeatedly runs out of work to meddle with customer's lives, annoys Richard and their customers with his intrusiveness and insensitivity, and has very little idea what being a jeweler actually requires. Nonetheless, Richard has no interest in firing him, and in fact argues against a customer who suggests it. Instead, he promotes him to apprentice and then secretary.
  • In Durarara!!, Shizuo's property-destroying antics would have (and has) gotten him fired from any other job long ago, even with Tom vouching for him. Shizuo himself is aware of this and really has no clue how he's held on to this one job for as long as he has other than the possibility that his manager is just really, really nice. That and his antics make him scarier than Satan which is an asset in their job. His antics do have a detriment — all the property he destroys is paid for by the agency, and they dock his pay in return. Seeing as Shizuo really can't get a job anywhere else and that his little brother is an idol who is undoubtedly filthy rich, he doesn't really care. If anything, he's more surprised that he's paid at all.
  • Eyeshield 21:
    • Gaoh, who constantly and deliberately injures opposing players, even to the extent that they will never be able to play again. Everything Gaoh does is strictly within the rules of football, as he's never seen hurting a quarterback after he's gotten rid of the ball. He's just insanely strong, such that he can cause bruises with his pinky.
    • Forget the opposing teams, the main example is Hiruma. Of course, it's more his extensive blackmail files that keep him from being expelled or banned, but even those rarely get brought up later on because, hey, he wins.
    • If it weren't for the fact that Shinryuuji's coach is more like something out of a martial arts movie, Agon probably would've been kicked off the team a long time ago.
  • Gunslinger Girl. In the first episode cyborg girl Henrietta flips out and kills an entire roomful of terrorists. Jean wants her reconditioned despite the objections of his brother, but Chief Lorenzo overrules him. Justified as Section 2 is a new unit that's still proving its worth against rival departments — it's better for Lorenzo to pass this off as a success than admit to glitches in the cyborg program.
    Lorenzo: "I agree Henrietta's got some problems, but she's an excellent assassin. Besides, we got the man we were looking for, and lost none of our own. You need to look at the bigger picture, Jean."
  • Quenser and Heivia of Heavy Object should have been either kicked out of the military or arrested for some of the stunts they've pulled, especially those times where the knowingly disobeyed orders or opened fire on their fellow soldiers. Despite this both are still in the military and the same unit. It's all but admitted that the higher-ups want to keep them for their ability to take down Objects and are worried that they'll defect to another supernation if punished too much.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry has Dr. Irie, whose behavior around Satoko would get anyone fired, let alone the only doctor in the Village.
  • Koi Kaze: Odagiri's persistent perverseness and obsession with high-school girls ought to get him fired from almost any job... and he works for an arranged dating company. How did he even get through the interview?
  • One Piece:
    • Vice-Admiral Garp is known as "The Hero" to the common man. He was going to report that he let Luffy escape on purpose, and implicitly would have gotten away with it. His subordinate convinces him that a simple lie would at least be less trouble. He can brag about his son, considered by the Marines to be one of the most dangerous men in the world, in public and be beyond punishment. Basically, nothing he does will ever result in discipline. It helps that his boss is also his best friend.
    • The Seven Warlords of the Sea can get away with a lot. Only an extremely public scandal and/or defeat to a rookie, or a significant amount of Badass Decay can get anyone kicked out. As long as they're still perceived as strong enough to be useful to the World Government, and don't attempt outright rebellion against it, they're virtually guaranteed to keep their very cushy positions. For perspective, one was able to get away with planning a Zombie Apocalypse, until his Badass Decay got him kicked out.
      • And another of them was able to form an alliance with Luffy, who by this point has twice openly declared war against the World Government, which is considered the worst crime anyone can commit. When this was discovered, one of the Admirals told him that he could still keep his position as Warlord, so long as he declared Luffy to be his minion rather than his partner, nothing more than a token display of loyalty to the World Government.
    • During the Wano Arc however, the rulers of the World Government's member nations vote to have the Warlord of the Sea system abolished outright, And There Was Much Rejoicing.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Team Rocket. Despite almost never succeeding in anything, as well as spending large amounts of money on Humongous Mecha, Giovanni still hasn't just fired them.
    • They trio eventually get reverted back to comical incompetence, but proceed to continue a pattern of maintaining their employment by convincing Giovanni that they're the ones taking down criminal organizations in other regions that potentially pose a threat to Team Rocket.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Several of the teachers at Yokai Academy have committed felony-grade crimes against the Newspaper Club; for example, Kotsubo nearly raped Mizore twice and almost got her expelled by manipulating events to make her look like the aggressor, Ms. Ririko brainwashed students to force them to study while dressing up as a dominatrix, and Hitomi Ishigami petrified her students and used them as art subjects. The most they ever get is temporary suspension, nothing more.
  • To Love Ru has the unnamed Principal at Rito's high school. No matter how much he harasses or tries to molest female students, he still gets to keep his job as principal. The only thing that mitigates him being a sexual predator in a position of authority is the fact that he gets beaten up badly for all his efforts.
  • Mahiru Inami from Wagnaria!! Can't serve male customers without punching them on the face and breaks walls, yet she has no problem keeping her job, with the weak Hand Wave of the manager being too lazy to care. Because money for repairs grows on trees.
  • Dojima in Witch Hunter Robin comes in late, leaves early, takes extra-long breaks, and spends most of her time looking at fashion magazines, plus she was only hired because of who her father is. Subverted in that she's really there as a spy for the parent company, which is suspicious of the new procedures instituted by the Japan branch - she acts like a slacker who owes her job to nepotism, but this may just be her cover.
  • YuYu Hakusho has Mr. Iwamoto, Yusuke's teacher. He encourages Mr. Akashi to erase an answer on Kuwabara's test so that he could get his friend fired from his job, steals from his students and frames Yusuke for it, and (though in his defense, under the influence of the Makai Insects) assaulted the principal while attacking Keiko. Despite those incidents, he still has his job by the end of the series.

    Comic Books 
  • Dilbert: Wally is a notorious slacker with a bad attitude, but has avoided being fired through a combination of office politics and the Pointy-Haired Boss' inability to judge the contributions of (or remember the identities of) his subordinates. Methods include: personal favors to the PHB, reporting his more ambitious colleagues to threatened superiors, having the PHB beaten on the occasion he was fired, tricking the PHB into signing favourable documents without reading them, and... just plain being lucky (the PHB admitted once that he's fired bald guys at least 7 times after mistaking them for Wally.)
    • Borderline case of Cut Lex Luthor a Check - if he put as much effort into work as into protecting his work-free lifestyle, he'd be at least as productive as Dilbert. Based on a coworker Scott Adams had in Real Life, who was deliberately attempting to get fired after having discovered that the company's severance package is better than its pension plan.
    • In Wally's specific case, he's been on the job long enough that he remembers some things about the company's old computers that no one else knows, which contributes to his job security. This was the engine for an episode of the Dilbert TV show.
    • Lastly, there was an elderly employee who could never be fired due to knowing secrets of the company that keep it alive. He ended up passing the secrets to the person sitting closest to him at that time before passing away... that person was Wally.
    • An appearance by the Grim Downsizer at a training course:
      Downsizer: I'm here to decruit the entire training staff and anyone who has enough time to attend these courses.
      Wally: My name is Dilbert. I'm here in place of Wally, who is working hard to build a better tomorrow.
    • Carol, the department secretary, is bitter and unproductive. The PHB tried to fire her once, but he couldn't fill out the termination paperwork without her. She also has a dark version of this trope and can't get out of her job even though she wants to. It was revealed once that she has an MBA, but her secretary job creates a stigma.
    • For that matter, the PHB himself. He once hired Dogbert to read his boss's mind to learn what his boss thought of him. Dogbert later told him that his boss knows the PHB is an inefficient oaf, but doesn't want to go to the trouble of firing him, and then having to hire someone else.
    • Also the case for many, many minor characters, be they sociopaths, convicted criminals, or simply morons who dedicated their lives to roaming from cubicle to cubicle talking about how hard they work and carrying a coffee cup. One, whose name may have been "Irv", never did anything but couldn't be fired because he'd written the company's accounting software in the mid-80's as a deliberate Black Box - a million lines of undocumented spaghetti logic.
  • Tintin: Thomson and Thompson are probably the worst detectives in the world (they were reasonably competent in Cigars of the Pharaoh but then...), yet they keep being sent on important missions. The pinnacle of this trope at work is undoubtedly Destination: Moon/Explorers on the Moon, where they are assigned to protect the Syldavian space program (!!) and end up reporting for duty wearing traditional Greek outfits, "arresting" a doctor's skeleton model, and accidentally stowing away on the Moon rocket (thus jeopardizing their oxygen supply) due to deciding to "guard" said rocket and believing the launch was at 1:34 P.M as opposed to 1:34 A.M.
  • The title character of the comic Gaston Lagaffe, he's asleep more than awake on his job, his backlog of work is enough to fill the whole office, he accidentally set fire to things several times, keeps playing with toys during work hours, builds crazy inventions and lets them loose in the building, at least once blew up part of the building and on all occasions there where managed to mess up the signing of important contracts. Yet, no matter what chaos he causes and despite him only having a minor job as a office courier and errand boy, he never seems to get fired.
    • Well, he was once put in charge of the company archives, and turned it into a veritable sea of books and files, where only he could find anything without full spelunking gear...
    • On a side note, he was fired once but was re hired shortly after, said incident was when the artist took a holiday which meant the next comic had some delay. That aside not even throwing a plunger in his bosses face got him fired.
    • The in-story explanation is apparently that he somehow endeared himself to the in-story newspaper readers, enough for his de-hiring to provoke an outcry and a lot of mail demanding his return. This is probably linked to his other function in the real-life paper, which was appearing on the first page cosplaying as the hero of one of the comics.
  • In Dark Reign: The Hood, the Controller's power play and constant attempts to undermine the Hood's authority are outweighed by his intelligence strategic acumen. Realizing he can't kill him, the Hood places one of the Controller's own slave discs on him to keep him in line.
  • Ola Bog Rise, the goalie from the Norwegian football comic Sleivdal. Every player on that team are terrible - that's the premise of the comic - but Ola is the only one that the coach is, for inexplicable reasons, actually pleased with.
  • Frumpy the Clown was this with his teaching job, the running gag being that the Principal wanted to fire him but can't due to the powerful Teachers Union. However, he was finally fired in the end of the strip's run, when the budget cuts gave the Principal an excuse to get rid of him.
  • Superlópez: López has been threatened with being fired several times, not to mention that he keeps disappearing from work without warning whenever some villain attacks his city and taking holidays left and right so he can fight evil abroad. And in the early comics, he spent the little time when he actually was staying at work just practicing origami.
    • Okay, he actually was fired once in Los alienígenas. That's pretty much it.
  • Retail:
    • For years, Courtney. She was rude to customers and did very poorly at her job, but she never seemed to get close to be fired, with Stuart flat out saying he kept her on over more competent cashiers because her wages were lower. When Marla gets promoted to store manager, however, Courtney finally gets fired. She hasn't been seen since 2013.
    • Also with Cooper, who manages the stock room. He frequently goofs off, pranks people, and openly insults Stuart, the district manager, on a frequent basis, but he's never fired due to him being good at his job. The one time Stuart did try to fire him, Lunker (a big, intimidating, incredibly strong man) threatened him, which probably helps keep his job. The only reason he did eventually lose his job is because Grumbel's went out of business.
  • In Big Nate, the titular character created a character of his own named Dr. Cesspool. He is a buffoonish doctor who, despite botching most of his operations and an early strip stating that he's a serial killer off the clock, manages to keep his job. In one of the Big Nate books, Nate and Dee Dee drew a comic where he's almost fired for removing the mayor's stomach (which he though was causing the issue), and only managed to keep his job because the mayor had an eating problem and needed a solution.

    Fan Fiction 
  • It's noted in Radiant Garden Renegades, set in the same universe as Kingdom Hearts 3: Final Stand, that Braig's idea of playing with baby Kairi was taking her toys and going so far as to dangle her upside-down over a flight of stairs. Aside from a slap from Kairi's mother Rimi and discipline from Kaname and Ansem the Wise, the former the Captain of the Guard and Kairi's father, he was allowed to keep his job. In real life, doing something like dangling an infant over a staircase wouldn't have just gotten him fired; it would have gotten him arrested.
  • Child of the Storm features a variant. According to Loki, the only reason Fudge is still Minister of Magic by Ghosts of the Past, despite his epic string of blunders in the first book, is because literally no one else wants his job, because they neither want to have to clean up his mess nor deal with the encroaching power of MI13 (specifically Director Wisdom, for whom tormenting the Ministry is one of his few pleasures in life).
  • In Metal Gear: Green (a My Hero Academia & Metal Gear crossover), Principal Nezu admits that "Eraserhead" Aizawa has this within UA when prompted about the latter’s teaching methods from Ocelot, because of his Erasure Quirk. As Nezu puts it, better for him to have Aizawa on his side than to give the HSPC access to a powerful weapon. Ocelot concedes on the HPSC front (as it was one of his orders), but when the second point is explained, he tells Nezu he's a damn fool on that front.
  • In Please Stop Eating The Hell Butterflies, the vast majority of the cast are incredibly unprofessional, so the question of 'why Yamamoto keeps them around' would be easy to ask. Simply put, Captain-grade Shinigami do not grow on trees, as Yamamoto put it once, so there are very few candidates to replace them. Not just anyone can lead a division, and those that do tend to be the crazier ones. Even someone like Yumichika, a fifth seat who could be a fourth seat if he didn't think that four was too ugly of a number to be labeled with, is difficult to replace. That being said, if you are really over the line, you can be replaced if a suitable candidate exists to replace you, as Mayuri found out when he crossed too many lines and Urahara was cleared of his crimes.
  • Slipping Between Worlds gave us Fusilier "Head-butt" Powell, whose skills on the rugby field are such that everyone from the Colonel down to Second Lieutenant Holtack pull every string to not have him ejected from the service. That doesn't stop them from dropping every conceivable other boot on Powell, and his not rising above Fusilier (E-1) in eleven years of service is clear testament to his skill at getting into trouble.
  • From Kill la Kill AU, we have Rei "the Drunk Secretary" Hououmaru. With her drunken antics, one would think either Soichiro or Ragyou would have fired her or, at least, gave her more restrictions, however, with her being an Addled Addict, neither one felt it would be right to do so (as, apparently, she probably won't fare well otherwise).
  • Reibey from Resonance Days constantly belittles the people around him, including his own allies, intentionally made his empire seem as Obviously Evil as possible, and is a member of the one species that is Hated by All for justifiable reasons. One of his allies also internally complains about how phenomenally Stupid Evil he is, and even the author describes him as immature and not all that bright. That said, he is in control of the one resource that cannot be gotten anywhere else, true death, and despite everyone hating his guts, no one wants to risk getting rid of him and potentially losing it. In fact, a few years before the story takes place, The Alliance nearly succeded in getting rid of him until every other faction in the world threatened to join the war on Reibey's side if they didn't quit it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Indiana Jones' many unprofessional tendencies are lampooned here. Fortunately for the world, it is mentioned in the first film that he had been at "Marshall College" for ten years, and he is referred to as "Professor" which is the highest faculty rank, and not as some think a courtesy title (especially in The '30s). Therefore he had published his articles, gotten his tenure, and then gone on to do what he really loved — which is what they all do. However, even tenure isn't enough for him to avoid getting suspended during the Red Scare for (involuntary) association with Soviet agents raiding a top secret facility - though at the end of the movie he gets cleared offscreen and then gets promoted to assistant dean.
  • James in The Hurt Locker. He disobeyed orders, messed around with the disarming procedures, left the base without any orders, went hunting insurgents through the alleys on the night without orders, backup or any clue about what he's doing, getting Eldridge shot and severely wounded in process, and generally act like an all-around douchebag. One wonders how did he pass the EOD training, let alone keeping his job. Twice.
  • The nanny in Just Go with It. She is clearly uninterested in her job and often uses her hours to do things other than take care of Katherine's children (such as hit on men and watch Showtime). But somehow, she stills holds down the job and even joins them in Hawaii.
  • Ted takes this one step further with its main character and his job at the groceries. His generally raunchy attitude and highly inappropriate behaviour not only got him hired, but repeatedly gets him promoted. In the epilogue, after being caught eating potato salad off of his girlfriend's ass, he gets promoted to manager. Subverted in the sense that Ted was trying to fail the job interview so he wouldn't have to get a job, and from then on, was trying to get fired.
    Manager: You had sexual intercourse with a co-worker on top of the produce that we sell to the public?
    Ted: I fucked her with a parsnip last week, and I sold the parsnip to a family with four small children.
    Manager: That took guts. We need guts. I'm promoting you.
  • In The Heat no one, including the captain, particularly cares for Mullins, but they're all so afraid of her that they just let her demean and talk to everyone however she pleases without any repercussions. As noted by Ashburn later, she's probably one of the most dedicated cops in existence.
  • Office Space has a very odd version with Peter, whose Brutal Honesty about how oppressive the work environment is (including five managers for one employee) results in a series of rewards and promotions for him, while his comparably timid coworkers are on the chopping block for cutbacks. In the case of Milton, it's played with for either black comedy or plain awfulness: he was fired but a clerical error not only meant he was not told he was fired but he still got a check, so he kept coming to work. When the Bobs discover this, they stop the checks but still don't tell Milton that he is fired (just expecting him to stop coming to work once he figures out he's not getting paid) and Bill Lumbergh (who hates him) doesn't tells him either, just escalating in his demeaning behavior.
  • Probably the only reason Dante Hicks and Randall Graves keep their jobs as Clerks is because their boss is far away and only communicates to them by phone.
  • Corporal Miller spends most of The Guns of Navarone being chronically insolent, but Mallory is forced to put up with him because as the team's sole demolitions expert, he's the only person they have capable of destroying the titular guns.
  • While Cook from No Kidding may be good in the kitchen, she somehow doesn't get the sack for constantly being drunk, skipping her work to sleep in, or when she breaks a load of crockery during a drunken episode.

  • Foaly in Artemis Fowl gets away with insulting his boss because his skills are literally irreplaceable. Not only is he the best techie they've ever had, but even if they did find somebody else who could at least do the job competently, the entire security system is rigged to completely fail unless Foaly himself accesses it.
  • Bastard Operator from Hell: Simon Travaglia. True, his job as a sysadmin is only partly protected by being very good at what he does, and largely by means of threatening, blackmailing and (in extreme cases) killing anyone who might try to replace him.
    • It probably helps his job security that his assistant is the nephew of the CEO of the first company he works at in the Register-era stories, and indeed got them both jobs at the company.
  • Bret King Mysteries: In The Secret of Fort Pioneer, west coast, Idle Rich, out-of-town blowhard Nick Holloway gets a job as a Mauve Shirt character in a western movie and proves to be an incompetent, lazy troublemaker who is Hated by All. The director repeatedly tries to fire him, but is reminded that Nick has already filmed a lot of footage and it will be expensive to re-shoot them if they recast his role. The day that he wraps up, he's kicked off the set. Of course, the assistant director making the arguments about why they need Nick is conspiring with Nick to find some buried treasure that legally belongs to the government, so he has a vested interest in keeping Nick around.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The fact that Hogwarts even remains in operation despite having a running body count has got to be an example in and of itself (though, being a Wizarding School, this is probably something of an occupational hazard), but a surprising number of the teachers also count. And that's not even getting into the fact that Hogwarts hasn't had a Defense Against the Dark Arts (which is arguably the most important class taught at any school) teacher last longer than a year thanks to a curse that any school headed by the greatest, wisest, most powerful wizard in generations has no business allowing to persist.
    • The ghost Professor Binns, who is noted as being able to make "bloody giant wars seem dull and boring". Seems Hogwarts teachers never get fired, they just retire or die. Binns didn't let death stop him, and there's a rumor that he hasn't even noticed that he died, so Hogwarts students will forever be stunted in terms of their historical education. In turn, it probably made it a self-perpetuating problem, as no one likes/knows enough about magical history to qualify as a replacement.
    • As a Seer, Sibyl Trelawney's got only two accurate predictions under her belt sprinkled among numerous failures, including predicting the deaths of a number of very much alive students over the years. As a teacher, she's got a similar record, which isn't helped by her untreated alcoholism. Save for Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil, every single student she teaches doesn't take her seriously and they've been known to make up fake predictions just to pass her class, which they do because she doesn't realize they're making it up. Even the other members of the Hogwarts staff (even Dumbledore) doesn't respect her, as McGonagall makes no secret of the fact that she thinks Trelawney is a total fraud. It eventually turns out that Dumbledore wanted to get rid of the Divination classes a long time ago, but the Board of Governors and parents kept demanding it stay on the curriculum; he only relented when he hired Trelawney because he needed an excuse to keep her safe at Hogwarts to protect her from Voldemort since she was the one who made the prediction about his defeat. Furthermore, it's implied that being a true Seer is something that you can't actually teach— even the far more competent Firenze basically says that it takes years to master; besides, most of the time, it doesn't even work, and most don't see much. You either have the gift or you don't.
    • Severus Snape, while an unmistakable genius in the field of potion-making, is decidedly less qualified as a teacher. He consistently plays favorites with the Slytherin students and bullies and degrades any other students, particularly Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom (who is legitimately terrified of Snape). And at the best of times, Snape treats Harry with utter disdain for the things that happened between Snape and Harry's father before Harry was even born!
    • Argus Filch, a borderline sociopath who's one step away from being a serial killer. He explicitly enjoys causing students pain because he's jealous that they're learning magic while he's incapable of using it. At no point is the idea of firing him ever entertained. As with the example of Binns, it's quite possible that no one else actually wants the job.
    • Peeves also counts. Why don't they expel him? Really looks like Dumbledore wants a bit of weirdness in Hogwarts. Rowling stated that Peeves is like bad plumbing; it always comes back. Dumbledore is just better with a spanner than most others. To clarify, Peeves is an incarnation of chaos. Get rid of Peeves, you'd have a new one appear soon after. It's a case of Better the Devil You Know, because a new poltergeist might not be cowed by the Bloody Baron, or be occasionally loyal to the school.
  • In the novel Red Square, Arkady Renko asks a Russian defector working for Voice of America in West Germany why the American bosses don't fire him for his insubordination. The defector replies that they try to once a year but that German labor laws are designed so that Germany isn't stuck with a lot of unemployed foreigners, so they always fail to meet the legal requirements to do so.
  • The War Against the Chtorr. The Uncle Ira Group protects the protagonist Jim McCarthy despite him committing several acts liable for court martial (including desertion, assaulting a superior, leading renegades to a secret US military stockpile, appropriating military property and personnel, and summarily executing civilians) partly because he's good at his job, but also because McCarthy's habit of causing disruption can be turned to their political advantage.
  • The hiring process for faculty members at Unseen University in Discworld is less "become an expert in your field", and more "find an empty room, turn up at meal times, and try to keep out of the way of students". This is because the job description of a Discworld wizard consists of "not using magic". On the Disc it is really not difficult at all to turn someone into a frog (though making them stay that way can be a bit more difficult); it is much more difficult not to turn everyone around you into frogs once you realize how easy it would be. Every time in history the wizards got off their collective asses and actually did stuff, horrible things happened, with frequent parallels being drawn between major magical conflicts and all-out nuclear war. The certifiably insane Bursar is probably the most extreme example, as he's still a member of the faculty even though he no longer has any significant control over his magic and is useless even for his nominal responsibility of keeping the University accounts (which is mostly done by Ponder Stibbons).
    • Speaking of Stibbons, he can't be fired either because of his practicality: he's the one level-headed wizard out of the bunch. This tendency causes him to take up the responsibilities other wizards aren't using, to the point where in Unseen Academicals we discover he constitutes a faculty majority vote all by himself.
  • In Transformers: TransTech, Commander Cheetor is the head of the Offworlder Zone Security Administration. Even though he frequently annoys his superiors via Bothering by the Book to help give some justice to the downtrodden offworlders often at the expense of uppity TransTechs, he'll never be fired. Why? Because he's the only one willing do it, especially since it was a case of Reassignment Backfire to begin with.
  • The eponymous organization in The Laundry Files hires most of its employees not due to their competence, a great need for employees, or them even applying for a job, but because it's been calculated that lifetime wages and pension for a low-level civil service job add up to less than the projected cost for the government to assassinate one of its citizens who happened to stumbled upon the paranormal. Once hired, they've ensured you're neutralized. If you want or are capable of being useful (to a widely varying degree of "useful"), that's good. But most employees aren't doing anything really worth doing, or get any opportunity to make mistakes with consequences beyond getting themselves killed. Which is also usually good. And the exceptions are, if not irreplacable, too valuable to let go of over anything not worth killing them for. Either way, the Laundry doesn't fire anybody for anything - or kill that many of its people either.
  • In Heart of a Dog, Dr. Philip Philipovich Preobrazhensky gets away with regularly flipping off the House Committee, lives technically alone in seven rooms while most of his contemporaries barely get one, spits out blatantly anti-Soviet views and nostalgically longs for the cultured old times. He can afford it because not only is he really good at his job, the authorities use his surgery services as well.
    "You know, professor," said the girl with a deep sigh, "if you weren't world-famous and if you weren't being protected by certain people in the most disgusting way," (the fair youth tugged at the hem of her jerkin, but she brushed him away), "which we propose to investigate, you should be arrested."
  • Age of Fire: Dragons for the most part don't view the lives of their thralls as worthwhile, but Rayg still manages to carve out a niche for himself in the Lavadome anyway, since his near-universal scientific skills make him too important for the dragons to dispose of.
  • The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn: In the sequel The Dark Secret of Weatherend, Miss Eells is in danger of losing her job as Head Librarian of the Hoosac Public Library after being magically hypnotized into ruining a tea party being held by Mrs. Hanson Oxenstern, head of the library board. Then the last chapter reveals that this trope is in play - when she was made Head Librarian, her predecessor was the one who drew up her contract and, knowing what Miss Eells was like, included a clause stating that she could not be fired for any reason, something Miss Eells had forgotten about until it was pointed out when she was formally reinstated.
  • McAuslan: Wee Wullie is a complete incompetent as a peacetime soldier, and has a charge-sheet as long as his (considerably oversized) arm, but his wartime actions have ensured that the Colonel will move heaven and earth to keep him in the Battalion and out of trouble with the Provosts.
  • Hive Mind (2016): Exaggerated and justified. Losing even one telepath could doom the Hive, so telepaths can do more or less whatever they want with no repercussions. Amber executes someone that the Hive wanted alive; Morton kept a woman prisoner for a year in an attempt to make her love him. Keith frees a dangerous prisoner and puts another telepath in danger, and even that doesn't get him in trouble in any significant way.

    Live Action TV 
  • In 24 it's common for characters to assault superiors whom they disagree with or suspect of wrongdoing, and you'd expect to wind up in prison for that, but they're still working there when the dust clears. CTU's turnover remains high, though, for other reasons.
  • Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock; justified by the fact that he is a major celebrity. This is referenced in several episodes:
    Jack: You're a star; you can do whatever you want to. That's your job. It's our job to make it go away.
    Tracy: I love this country!
  • Ed from the "Good Burger" sketches in All That. Ed is incredibly incompetent, and he screws up nearly everything he's put in charge of. A frequently asked question by fans was why Ed was never fired. Dan Schneider couldn't answer that.
  • Angel: Cordelia Chase is a direct line to the Powers That Be and is thus utterly indispensable to Angel's mission. Angel tries to fire her and is given a rude awakening. You can't fire her. She's Vision Girl. (sticks out tongue)
    Angel: Well, I know she can't type or file. Until today, I had some hope regarding the phone.
  • For quite a while, Mr. Lucas, the cheeky junior salesman in Are You Being Served?, was able to get away with insulting his higher-ranked fellow employees and superiors every episode. Then, later on, he disappeared from the show. The only hint of an explanation for his disappearance was a passing line from Captain Peacock mentioning a time where the store didn't make any money and they fired the junior. This line was meant to intimidate Mr. Lucas' successor, Mr. Spooner — who managed to get away with insulting Mrs. Slocombe and Captain Peacock (though without Lucas' panache) until the final episode of the series.
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead: It's established from the very first episode that Ash is a terrible Value Stop employee, having done such things as take phony sick days using his pet lizard as an excuse. His Jerkass boss, Mr. Roper, outright tells Ash to his face that the only reason he hasn't fired Ash is because he has seniority.
  • Attila: Flavius Aetius knows that he is given a lease on life by the ruling dynasty in Rome because they need him to fight their current enemies. So in order to make himself irreplaceable, he purposefully makes such an impression on the young Attila that he can argue to the Emperor that Attila won't invade the western empire because he fears Aetius. Placidia points out how awfully convenient it is that Aetius' good health has become so important to them now.
  • The BBC's Banished has a spectacularly lethal version of this. Because they're the only Western settlement in Australia and the next nearest settlement is months away by ship, the penal colony utterly depends on their one and only blacksmith Marston, to the extent that the Governor is willing to let other convicts starve to death in order to overlook Marston's food theft. It's only when Marston is killed by the person he was starving that those in charge realise how ludicrously they behaved because they thought he was indispensable. When the replacement blacksmith is about to be shot, he tries to pass himself off as indispensable, but Major Ross clearly wants to avoid this trope.
  • Battlestar Galactica: The entire crew commits what should be career-ending offenses on an alarmingly routine basis. Starbuck may be a great pilot, but her unpredictability would cause any leader to lose faith in her during one of her less lucid moments. Apollo disobeys orders on a routine basis and ends up getting promoted. Tyrol essentially commits mutiny and is outright told he would have been executed if he weren't needed. Even Adama gets stoned and has an affair with the president. This is deliberate; the Galactica would have been decommissioned were it not for the Cylon invasion, it's implied to be a dumping ground for the Colonial military's least effective personnel, and Adama and Tigh are given command of it as punishment for screwing up an intelligence operation (and they would have been kicked out of the Fleet outright were it not for Adama's wife's political ties). The whole ship is thus essentially a frat house. It's the great irony of the series that it's also the only warship of consequence to survive the apocalypse. With only 40,000 human survivors and only a fraction of those being military personnel, they really can't afford to fire anyone who has key skills even if they screw up.
  • Linda in Becker is ditzy to the point of incompetence, yet she's still hanging around after multiple seasons. This is due to her being popular with the patients, and Becker being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who owes her dad a lot of money. Ironically, when she took a vacation at work, she turned into a very competent employee.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Pretty much every member of the original main cast (i.e. not including Bernadette and Amy), as well as Barry Kripke, have this at their jobs.
    • The guys cause all kinds of mayhem at the university. They've squandered university funds for personal use — Howard in particular used them to build a Sex Bot and repurposed a hundred-thousand dollar machine to heat sandwiches. They've damaged university property — Sheldon and Kripke once drive fighting robots through the hallway and the doors. And they've been accused of sexual harassment more than once — Howard practically lived at the H.R. office before getting into a steady relationship. But they almost never face discipline for it. The only time they did was when Sheldon got himself fired (and was unhireable anywhere else because of his massive ego), but he got the job back because his mom traded the boss some sexual favors.
    • Penny, by her own admission, is bad at her job, but only leaves the Cheesecake Factory when she quits on her own.
  • Breaking Bad: The only reason anyone (most notably Gus Fring, who usually chooses his employees very carefully) is willing to put up with Walter White's erratic behavior, greed, and power-madness is that he's just that good at cooking meth.
  • The Brittas Empire: Many of the staff at Whitbury New Town Leisure Centre aren't exactly competent, but they manage to keep their jobs in spite of it:
    • Julie is the most blatant example - she's a Sassy Secretary who's terrible at actual secretary work and who regularly insults her boss, but no attempt is ever seen of her being fired.
    • Carole keeps her children in the drawers behind reception and once destroyed her Manager's car with an excavator. She does get fired twice, but gets her job reinstated by the end of it.
    • Colin is a physically disgusting person who shouldn't be allowed near a pool and is a bit naive. He gets fired twice, but like Carole, he has his job back at the end (in the second case, he actually ends up getting a better job when he proves to have a thing for toilet-related duties).
    • Especially in later series, Linda is a Soapbox Sadie whose actions have led to an employee being injured and thousands of pounds lost in lawsuits. Brittas doesn't fire her however since she at least sticks to her ideals.
    • Gavin once punched Brittas in the face and got promoted for it.
    • Brittas himself is the instigator of conflict and his ways of managing has led to mass deaths, but he doesn't lose his job over the course of the series. He does lose it once, but gets it back for an act of heroism (an act that only came about when he blew up the centre, not that anyone found out). Another risk of him losing the job was mitigated when it turned out that the inspector who had come to see the centre was just like him.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy loses her Burger Fool job but manages to get it back by blackmailing them — she would reveal that they weren't using real meat at all, but rather a very convincing tofu substitute. They offered her money, but she insisted on her shitty job.
    • Buffy is given a job as a guidance counselor at the new Sunnydale High School in the seventh season. The reason for her hiring was so she could protect the students from the Hellmouth under the school. Good thing, too, because we are shown and told that she isn't a great counselor. Whenever she asks about her great counseling skills, the person she is talking to gets an amused look on their face. And whenever she is seen talking to a student, she's thinking more about the monster-fighting part of her job than properly listening to what the students say.
    • Buffy manages to keep her job as the Slayer despite pulling some pretty outrageous stunts that the Scooby Gang just has to put up with — all they can do is voice their disapproval.
      Buffy: Y'know, if you don't like the way I'm doing my job, why don't you find somebody else? Oh, that's right, there can be only one.note 
    • Snyder's extreme disdain for children makes it clear that he should be nowhere near the educational field. He got the job specifically to keep the Hellmouth (and all the deaths it causes) out of the public eye.
  • Castle: The title character can always get his consultancy position back, even if the police commissioner wants him gone, because he's friends with the mayor of New York. In one episode, when the mayor is a murder suspect, the new captain makes it clear that if the mayor is forced out of office, Castle is out on his ass as well. But then Castle does something that gets him tossed — he goes to a mob family for help in identifying the killer, leading to the killer's death in a mob hit, a situation so serious that even the mayor can't protect him — but he gets his job back by committing assault and being sentenced to community service as an NYPD consultant.
  • On Cheers several characters in the bar have this, despite their many shortcomings. It's usually suggested this is because Sam's just not willing / able to find anyone to replace them.
    • To start with, Carla, who is bad-tempered, rude and vicious towards customers and fellow employees alike. Sam keeps her employed because she's one of the few women on Earth he doesn't want to have sex with. Which leads in to...
    • Diane, who is haughty, yet incompetent as a waitress, often mixing up drink orders, or bothering customers with her life story. And that's when she actually bothers working, rather than skipping out to do whatever, or argue with Sam about whatever the problem is between them that week. It's explicitly stated more than once Sam won't fire her because of their history. That, and actually getting Diane to leave is nigh-impossible.
    • A story line spanning Seasons 8 and 9 features Rebecca dating British millionaire Robin Colcord. Then Robin is convicted of embezzling from Lillian Corporation, having used Rebecca as a patsy to do so. After taking a loss by selling the bar back to Sam for pennies, Lillian fires Rebecca, only to have Sam take pity on her and hire her as an assistant manager, but it becomes a running gag from thereon out that despite this, Rebecca becomes more incompetent and useless, with Carla repeatedly asking what exactly she does, a question even Rebecca can't answer. No good reason is ever given as to why Sam doesn't fire her then, because by that point he's lost any interest in having sex with her, too.
    • In the Season 11 episode "The Little Match Girl", Rebecca's smoking habit results in a fire at the bar. But she is back to work like nothing happened in the season's third episode.
  • Community: Everyone who works at Greendale Community College. Except Professor Kane, who quit after Star-Burns' death. Justified by Dean Pelton and the board members' lax standards. The only teacher to ever get fired from Greendale was Chang, after he faked his Spanish credentials, then became a security guard and took over the whole school, almost burning it down in the process. But then one season later, they hire him back.
  • Corner Gas: Dog River's mayor, "Fitzy" Fitzgerald, is terrible at his job. The only reason he has it is because he's the only one who wants it, and nobody ever runs against him. In one episode, Emma does run against him and handily defeats him even though she openly admits she doesn't want the job either and is only running out of spite because he told her husband to shut up. However that episode was just one prolonged Imagine Spot by Hank, so who knows if it would have turned out that way if it actually happened?
  • Criminal Minds:
    • Lampshaded in "Elephant's Memory": Out of concern for the UnSub, Reid goes to confront him, neglects to tell the rest of the team where the UnSub is going so they can join him (even occasionally throwing Prentiss off the scent), and tries to "shield" the UnSub from his own team's guns — knowing that the UnSub is himself armed and very violent. Fortunately, the UnSub is apprehended without incident, but on the plane flight home, Hotch tells Reid that he should be fired for what he did and he will be if he does it again — before commending him on his work.
    • Erin Strauss' witch hunt of Hotch and Gideon in Season Two shouldn't sit well with her superiors, as well as her rather comical mishandling of the crime scenes at the beginning of Season Three, but she still keeps her job.
    • In one episode, Penelope is Playing Games at Work (on an unsecured private laptop) and allows a major computer hack to happen. This should get you fired from any basic office job, let alone a job at a national security agency; and she's also a criminal hacker whom they hired for her expertise, and if she didn't work for them, she'd be in jail. She should have been not just fired, but arrested. And yet she's not.
  • While Dr. Cunningham from The Culture Vultures is almost always in trouble for his lax attitude concerning his job, he always manages to charm his way out of trouble.
  • In Doc Martin, Dr. Ellingham's first receptionist, Elaine, was lazy, disobedient, surly, and incompetent to the point of being a liability to Port Wenn's public health, but the Eccentric Townsfolk were so attached to her that the one time Ellingham tried to fire her, he ended up having to rehire her to make the townsfolk stop shunning him.
  • In Doctor Who, the main character and Scientific Advisor for UNIT during the '70s (or was it the '80s?) is a Deadpan Snarker to everyone up to and including his (nominal) boss, has no use for paperwork, can barely let an episode go by without sniffing at primitive humans, and it's unknown whether he ever deposited his checks (or whether he even understands the concept). He also has centuries of experience fighting aliens of all kinds, an encyclopediac knowledge of the universe, Super-Intelligence, and a fierce dedication to protecting this little blue globe and its inhabitants. In fact, it's mentioned several times that the Doctor never officially tendered his resignation, meaning that after a few decades, he's still technically on the payroll and under UNIT's nominal command.
    • As of The Zygon Invasion, The Doctor has proven to be so competent and experienced and knowledgable in dealing with alien threats that UNIT convinced all the world governments to empower him to be President of the earth in the event of an alien invasion. It's a job he loathes, and is also banned by the leaders of Earth from refusing.
  • Downton Abbey:
    • First footman Thomas Barrow is a thieving, manipulative and overall unpleasant character, but he's actually good at the job, so nobody has the heart to fire him. Each season ends with him weaseling his way out of a situation he really shouldn't have been able to weasel out of, and then getting promoted. The third season ends with him being outed as gay in 1920 and managing to not only stay out of jail, but be promoted from valet to under-butler.
    • O'Brien, Cora's Lady's Maid, is just as vicious, unpleasant, and manipulative as Barrow, but also as skilled with her work. In her case this is due to the fact that as a Lady's Maid only Cora has the authority to fire her and Cora won't believe a bad word about O'Brien.
  • Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard. Despite being corrupt and a bumbler, he remains sheriff because Boss Hogg wants someone he knows he can control, and the people of Hazzard County keep electing him because they'd rather deal with the devil they know than the devil they don't know.
  • Eli Stone cannot be fired from his law firm, no matter what craziness he gets up to (and since it's Eli Stone, there's plenty of it). There's actually a contract to this effect, part of a deal made with a client he represented in the Pilot.
  • Frasier: In one episode Roz puts through a call from Frasier's ex-wife Lilith and then suggests they meet up for dinner while live on air. Frasier agrees to the idea but silently scrawls out a note telling Roz she's fired. Roz responds by holding up a note of her own that says "I'm Union". It's established throughout the series that Roz gets away with needling Frasier as much as she does because she's the only competent producer at KACL who's willing to put up with him.
  • Almost the entire cast of F Troop. Captain Parmenter is an 1860s Col. Potter who also would trip and fall over thin air. Sergeant O'Rourke uses his position to run a side business trading with the Indians — the 19th Century equivalent of a staff sergeant doing business with Cuba. Corporal Agarn is a hyperactive Frank Burns who is also O'Rourke's business partner. The bugler can't play a tune, the lookout has 20/400 vision, and no one can fire the cannon without hitting the lookout tower. However, it's more than hinted that Fort Courage is another example of those aforementioned military "dumping grounds" for incompetents; it's actually stated in one episode that everyone was put there in the hope that they would all kill each other.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • There was a rebellion seventeen years previously, resulting in the overthrow of a three hundred-year-old dynasty. But Varys, Pycelle, and Barristan all got to stay in their former posts — Pycelle because it's really difficult to remove a Grand Maester, Barristan because he's a true knight (and without him the most senior remaining Kingsguard would have been Jaime Lannister), and Varys is just that good.
    • Littlefinger tries to bump it up to Vetinari Job Security, right to Cersei's face, but she reveals that she's impulsive and capricious enough to just up and kill him, no matter the consequences.
  • The title character of Get Smart. At one point, the Chief actually does threaten to fire him, and Max replies that the Chief wouldn't dare, as according to CONTROL's seniority regulations, if Max is fired, then the Chief would have to promote Larabee into Max's job. Also, Max is the local steward for CONTROL's branch of the spy union.
  • Gilmore Girls: French Jerk (with a heart of gold) Michel keeps his job as a hotel concierge despite ignoring and even insulting customers on a routine basis.
  • Hogan's Heroes: If not for the direct intervention of the protagonists on many occasions, Colonel Klink would probably be at the Russian Front. He's not a bad administrator, but he has no real control over his camp. The prisoners' antics, on the other hand, contrive to make Klink look absolutely ruthless to his superiors, and Klink is also a magnificent ass-kisser, which will very much endear you to Those Wacky Nazis. Klink's Number Two Schultz is even less competent, to the point that the prisoners count him as an ally (he's in on it, though he wishes he wasn't) — but he's also an adept ass-kisser whose vast wealth as a toy manufacturer gives him some leverage. Both Klink and Schultz see their jobs threatened over the course of the show, only for the prisoners to maneuver to keep them around.
  • House: The title character constantly bullies his fellow staff and patients, violates laws and ethics left and right, and never seems to take the hint that his behaviour is unbecoming of a doctor. He's also one of the best doctors in the world. Not only can he not be fired, but apparently he can't even be arrested. His job is threatened several times over the course of the show, but it is always saved because Wilson and Cuddy vouch for him and his ability to treat patients that no one else can. Cuddy mentions that the hospital gets House for cheap because no one else will bother to hire him, and that the savings are occasionally (but not always) used to pay for the lawsuits arising from House's antics. House himself believes that he can never lose total respect as long as he's a brilliant doctor, and cites his experience at a Japanese hospital where a member of the despised "untouchable" caste was a janitor — and yet the doctors kept asking him for advice because he was so brilliant.
  • I Love Lucy:
    • Ethel is having difficulty getting a passport and threatens to report an Obstructive Bureaucrat to Washington and get him fired, but he counters that as a civil servant, he wouldn't lose his job until he died.
    • Ricky enjoys massive job security as a bandleader. Even when he does get fired in Season One's "Ricky Asks for a Raise", he gets a license to pretty much choose his own job when his former workplace, the Tropicana, has trouble keeping its guests when they find out that Ricky isn't working there anymore.
    • Subverted in the Season 4 episode "Ricky Needs an Agent", where Lucy gets him fired from MGM after dressing as an agent.
  • Harmon Rabb from JAG is quite prone to this. Half the stunts he's pulled should have had him drummed out of the Navy, or at least left him with very poor chances of promotion. No matter how egregious the stunts he pulls, Status Quo Is God. Even when he did quit for good, he got reinstated by the Secretary of the Navy due to a lack of personnel.
  • Deputy US Marshall Raylan Givens on Justified. When the audience first meets him, Raylan is in trouble for a questionable shooting of a drug lord with whom he had a personal vendetta. Over the course of the series, we see him shoot first and ask questions later to the point that in Season 3, when he's actually framed for a shooting crime he didn't commit, his boss has trouble getting him clear because his reputation precedes him. We also see him help his ex-wife replace money she stole from the evidence locker, moonlight as a bounty hunter (which Raylan is explicitly warned is against Marshal rules and grounds for immediate termination), and arrange the execution of a mob boss that threatened his family. His boss describes why he keeps him around despite Raylan's tendency to break the rules to deliver justice as he sees fit:
    Art: You're a lousy marshal, but a good lawman.
  • Kenan & Kel: Kenan constantly goofs off at Rigby's, always allows Kel to take free orange soda, and leaves whenever he wants, even when his shift isn't over. If his boss were anyone other than Chris, he would have been fired on his first day.
  • One episode of Last Man Standing has Ed get laid off by his accounting firm and ask Mike for a job at Outdoor Man. Mike reveals that he can't make an opening without firing one of his existing employees, and he can't fire any of the incompetent workers for reasons of political correctness — one is an alcoholic who claims his alcoholism is a disability, and another is a woman who will most likely file a gender discrimination lawsuit.
  • Detective Stabler from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit routinely ignores Capt. Cragen's instructions, has beaten suspects in the interrogation room on multiple occasions, beaten suspects while apprehending them, and punched another cop in the face, all while somehow keeping his job.
  • Detective Goren from Law & Order: Criminal Intent is eccentric, moody, and generally behaves like he should be in Bellevue rather than the NYPD. But he is one of the best detectives on the force with a ridiculously high closure rate. Even when he does get fired, it doesn't stick because his new Captain pulls some strings to give him back his badge.
  • Mad Men: The entire office seemed to have this.
    • Don Draper can disappear from work for days without any long-term consequences. However (as Duck Phillips discovers to his dismay), Don doesn't have a contract, and thus no "non-compete" clause — so if he were fired, he could just bolt to another ad agency and take all his client knowledge with him. This is then deconstructed in the sixth season, by which point Don does have a contract and his dysfunctions finally aren't worth his contributions to the company, as he's gone months without bringing in a major account and immediately loses the only one he does bring in — but he's also a partner in the agency, so the others can't get rid of him without buying him out (which they can't afford) and can only force him to take a leave of absence.
    • Don discovers that he can't have Pete Campbell fired for endangering an account because Campbell's family is wealthy and well-connected.
    • One employee is openly dismissive of Madison Square Garden's plan to tear down the old Penn Station — while the agency is attempting to land the Garden as a client. Not only is he not fired, he's not even taken off the account.
    • A secretary runs over a guy's foot with a lawnmower in the office. Nothing happens to her.
  • Married... with Children: As a shoe salesman, Al Bundy is a disgrace to his profession. He constantly insults the fat women who make up most of his clients, has forgotten how to work the cash register from hardly ever selling any shoes, plays with the shoes like toys, insults his boss Gary to her face, and on the very rare occasions when he actually does manage to sell some shoes just pockets the money. Despite all this, he's never fired. It may be because, aside from Al's Token Black Friend Griff, Gary can't find anyone else besides Al who's desperate enough to work in the shoe store. In one episode, she does fire Al and Griff because she manages to find replacements for them — but the replacements immediately quit when they realize what they'll have to put up with, and Gary's forced to hire Al and Griff back.
  • Ted Baxter from The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a bumbling fool, yet in the series finale he was the only member of the news room not fired, while all of the more competent characters were. Presumably he was good enough at what he did (i.e. reading the news and acting as the face of the network), and in the latter seasons as Baxter's character was softened — at Ted Knight's request — the emphasis was less so on his mistakes.
  • In M*A*S*H, of the regular characters, only BJ and Potter wouldn't fall under this trope. Given the shortage of medical staff in the Korean War, this would appear to be an exaggerated Truth in Television — and when a documentary on the show interviewed real MASH doctors, they said it wasn't even that exaggerated. Some details:
    • Hawkeye and Trapper are a pair of often-drunken and always-womanizing (although Hawkeye gets better) slackers who constantly play practical jokes on everyone else. But they're also exceptional doctors and pretty much the entire reason the unit's survival rate is as high as it is. In one episode Henry outright states that he would have fired them long ago if they weren't the two best surgeons in Korea, and this opinion comes to be shared by more than one guest-star general and, of course, by Henry's replacement Col. Potter.
    • Henry himself is an indecisive, easily dominated scaredy-cat who has no business running a military unit — but he runs a damn good hospital and, again, is a top-flight surgeon himself.
    • Margaret Houlihan is one of the most difficult people to get along with (especially at first), she tends to drive the other nurses in particular crazy, and she doesn't always make life easy for the doctors either (although she improves significantly as the series goes on). But she's also probably the best nurse they could have when things get tough. Even Henry, who clashes with her on a regular basis, decides he can't let her go when she wants to leave, because she's just too important to the unit's success.
    • Charles is a pompous, arrogant jerkass who complains loudly about anything and everything and was seen making racial slurs toward the priest in one episode. But unlike his predecessor Frank Burns, he's actually a very competent (if slow) surgeon, with cardiac expertise the others lack.
    • Radar, the company clerk, is childish to the point of Flanderization, sleeps with a teddy bear, and keeps unauthorized pets, but he's a Hypercompetent Sidekick with an uncanny ability to anticipate the Colonel's needs, to the point that he's often running things himself (see Henry above).
    • Klinger is trying to get booted from Korea, but no one is willing to oblige him. It turns out that in spite of his antics and his constant crossdressing, for all the things he does to get out of the Army, he won't do anything that would actually compromise the unit's ability to give the wounded the best care possible — even when he pretends he thinks he's in Toledo, he still helps with the wounded, claiming they're all victims of a bad traffic accident. When Radar leaves, Klinger is promoted to Company Clerk and continues to prove his worth.
    • Frank Burns is the biggest question mark. He's a greedy, lying, manipulative coward who sticks to the letter of the law in a manner guaranteed to make things worse, and who's also so incompetent as a surgeon that he shouldn't even be allowed to play the "Operation" board game. In one episode, the writers tried to Hand Wave this by claiming he cheated on his medical school exams. It's also strongly implied that the nurses and the other surgeons — all of whom are Determined Doctor s to the nth degree — save him from the worst of his medical screw-ups out of compassion for his unfortunate patients.
  • Patrick Jane of The Mentalist breaks laws left and right in his methods of solving murder cases. He's a pretty shady Bunny-Ears Lawyer and breeds trouble, yet the agency wouldn't dare fire him because he's just that good. However, every antic of his brings his supervisor, Agent Lisbon, closer to being fired in favor of someone actually able to control him — except when they actually fire her, they learn the hard way that Jane is unwilling to work with anyone else. It's uncertain whether they even can get rid of Jane, as he's not really an employee. Ironically, Jane's investigation into the Red John case — his whole motive for working with the CBI — gets the CBI disbanded, getting him and everyone else fired. But then the FBI hires him, he makes them hire Lisbon, and the cycle repeats.
  • Vince and Howard of The Mighty Boosh have jobs like this in series one. They work at a zoo helmed by two madmen who openly dislike them and routinely try to kill them, but for some reason Bainbridge and Fossil never think to simply fire them every time they survive. In the entire series, it takes the zoo closing to upseat them from their jobs.
  • In My Hero (2000), Mrs. Raven's open hostility to patients (and everyone else) might have been a problem for her were her boss not perpetually distracted by his own self-admiration. Also, as Dr. Crispin finds out after temporarily firing her for wanting a raise, she's made herself indispensable by organizing his patients' files in such a way that she's the only one who knows how to find anything.
  • NCIS: The team seems to get leeway from its director as a matter of course, especially in the early seasons. NCIS was introduced as a small underfunded organization that had to rely on creative methods to stay ahead of its bigger and more popular rivals like the FBI. So naturally, its members can get away with a lot, some more than others:
    • Leroy Jethro Gibbs stands out because as the team leader, he uses his clout to insulate everyone else from their antics. He, on the other hand, doesn't have that luxury, and yet he treats all orders from above as polite suggestions — at best. On two occasions, he's expressly defied the direct orders of the Secretary of the Navy for the purpose of doing it his way. But he's also very effective at his job, and the only reason they don't make him NCIS director is that he really doesn't want the job — but he's usually very close to whomever is in the director's chair (especially Jenny) or at least has a lot of dirty laundry on them (in Vance's case). He exceeds his job security late in season 18 after beating a man half to death on camera for animal cruelty instead of arresting him, gets suspended for it, and ultimately decides to retire the following season.
    • Resident Genki Girl Lab Rat Abby stands out as well. She has strange tastes in everything, never wears a uniform, and treats every order from above like Gibbs does — except if it's from Gibbs himself. However, she's also supposedly one of the single most gifted forensic scientists in the country, and all the other agencies want her pretty badly, so NCIS is never going to let her leave — and they're lucky she doesn't want to leave either. Shepherd once tried to make her follow the rules, and it lasted until Gibbs found out about it.
    • One episode features a large group of Navy codebreakers who all have various mental disorders — neuroses, paranoia, whatever — and their commanding officer flat out states that most of them would fail the military psychological exam. But he keeps them around because they're the best there is at what they do.
  • NewsRadio: Everyone at the offices of WNYX barring Dave and Lisa could be considered this; Bill is narcissistic and constantly makes snide remarks, Catherine is abrasive to pretty much everyone, Matthew is Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket, Beth seems to take pride in not doing any actual work and is the local gossip, and Joe regularly tampers with various devices around the station for his own nefarious deeds. It's implied several times over the series that they are all still employed because Jimmy James is just that nice of a guy.
  • The Office (US): Pretty much everyone at Dunder Mifflin Scranton is pretty incompetent, and yet somehow the Scranton branch is the most profitable.
    • Michael and Dwight are the standouts, as both seem to exemplify The Peter Principle — they're absolutely amazing at selling paper and are rewarded for this with management positions, despite neither having the knowledge or temperament to actually be in management.
      • In Michael's case, his position as branch manager and his soft-hearted nature means everyone else there also has Ultimate Job Security (except Toby).
        Michael: I don't want my employees to think their jobs depend on their performance.
      • In Dwight's case, even though he has an abrasive personality and gets away with things like keeping weapons at the office, he may be keeping his job out of pity — he's so pathetic that his accomplishments at Dunder Mifflin are the only thing he has at all in his life, and Michael at one point admits to Dwight that his position is a fabrication and he has no authority over any other employees (which causes him to have a near-breakdown). The Grand Finale shows that once Dwight gets his life in order, his loony tendencies tone down significantly and he turns the company into the region's top paper supplier. And also, he shows no hesitation to fire Kevin and Toby for being incompetent.
      • It should be noted that Dwight has performed especially outrageous actions compared to his employees, with his actions ranging from causing a fire and a panic, to damaging private property in the form of vandalizing an expensive CPR dummy, to possessing and discharging a firearm in the workplace, to assaulting a fellow employee without due cause (Andy Bernard). Even though these incidents all got reported to the top echelons of Dunder-Mifflin, he still doesn't get fired. Even if he is one of the company's best salesmen, keeping him around simply should not be worth it to the company.
    • Andy apparently got the district manager his job, which earns him a promotion — and he immediately takes off for three months, lies about it, and gets away with it. However, while he avoids consequences from the manager, he loses a ton of respect from the other employees, who consider his absence a precedent and try it themselves. He eventually defies this trope in the series' last few episodes, where he deliberately gets himself fired to pursue his dreams. It doesn't go well.
    • Kevin only keeps his job because Michael likes him. He is the third accountant in an office that only needs two, and it becomes apparent that those other two do all the real work. When his work is finally audited, it is revealed that he balanced the books by inventing a number.
    • Jim Halpert, while not being as outrageous as Dwight or Andy, or nearly as stupid as Kevin, still is a notably mischievous employee, performing a large number of pranks that would normally be disapproved of in the workplace. To be fair, many of his pranks tend to be targeted at Dwight, whom is one of the lesser-liked employees, and a few others at Andy, whom the office likes even less than Dwight. Not to mention that when he is threatened with termination by Ryan or got into hot water with Charles Miner, he visibly toned it back significantly.
  • Justified in Parks and Recreation. Ron Swanson, the director of the Parks Department, is a hardcore libertarian who believes that government should not exist and wants to keep his Department as ineffective as possible. Therefore he deliberately staffs it with people who are either incompetent, apathetic or ideally both. Presumably Leslie's hypercompetence offsets the others and prevents higher ranking officials getting involved due to poor performance.
  • The entire cast of Pizza and Swift & Shift Couriers are terrible at their jobs, and are capable of screwing up routine tasks, but manage to stay employed — the latter mainly because the hapless boss gets blamed for everything, the former because the boss is just plain Ax-Crazy.
  • Ranger Gord from The Red Green Show is a forest ranger who job is to stay in a fire watchtower and watch for forest fires. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The loneliness has made him Go Mad from the Isolation, the top of tower where he lives has no windows and is therefore open to the elements (such as Canadian winters), and he receives absolutely no paycheck for this (after all, what would he use it for if he can't leave the tower?). The last part is news to Red, who after hearing it immediately tells Gord he should quit. However, after thinking it over, Gord decides not to. Why? Because he figures that his job is so terrible nobody else would ever want to do it, thus his job security is assured.
  • Scrubs:
    • Todd is said to be a very good surgeon; however, he spends most of his time sexually harassing the female staff. More recently, he has also sexually harassed the male staff.
    • Dr. Cox is in many ways an inspiration to Dr. House. He's a bully, constantly belittles both his patients and his subordinates, and he's a really good doctor. He has been disciplined — as early as the second episode he was suspended from the hospital — but he's never lost his job. Chalk this up to three reasons: (1) he's a really good doctor, (2) his ex-wife is on the hospital's board of directors, and (3) he ruthlessly advocates for his patients' health, which Kelso admits he uses as a balance to his own ruthless focus on the hospital's bottom line.
    • Doug Murphy was such a poor physician that his ineptitude regularly resulted in patients dying. It got to the point where everyone in the hospital would call a major goof-up "a Doug". But they don't fire him — they send him to the morgue, and he becomes a brilliant pathologist from his experience of having caused many of the things he's trying to diagnose.
    • Ted, the sad-sack hospital lawyer, is most definitely not a Bunny-Ears Lawyer — he's repeatedly called incompetent and is to law what Doug is to medicine. Yet he somehow still has his job.
    • The Janitor practically runs the hospital and yet never seems to be doing any janitorial work. He spends most of his time messing with people or pulling pranks. Kelso doesn't particularly care what happens as long as things get done and the money rolls in, so the Janitor can do things like trap JD in a water tower for an entire day with no consequence. Tellingly, when Kelso retires, his replacement Dr. Maddox — who actually cares about these things — spots the Janitor trip JD in the hallway and fires him on the spot.
    • Dr. Zeltzer drugged not just a senior doctor but a board member and is still somehow employed and not incarcerated.
  • Seinfeld:
    • George Costanza's tenure with the New York Yankees includes more than one instance in which a fireable offense is misinterpreted so wildly as to allow him to keep his job while netting him even more respect from his employers. It all comes to a head in "The Millennium," in which he tries to get fired so that he can accept an under-the-table offer to scout for the Mets and is unable to commit an offense flagrant enough to do the job (for example, messily eating strawberries while wearing Babe Ruth's uniform is read as a valuable commentary on how the team needs to look forward to the future instead of worshipping dead idols). He finally does the trick by dragging the team's recently-acquired World Series trophy through the parking lot while yelling insults to the staff out his car window, only to have a coworker—who, it turns out, received the same offer and is also looking to get fired—claim that he pressured him into the action, letting George off the hook without further questions. (Naturally, the team trades him to another company one episode later when he's no longer trying to leave.)
    • George gets a similarly rock-solid gig in Season 9 with Kruger Industrial Smoothing, this time thanks to an Alleged Boss who is utterly apathetic, the notorious carelessness of his workplace being what attracted George to the job in the first place. He does react strongly to the discovery that George accepted a $20,000 donation from the office to a Fake Charity...because it's the same fake charity George gave the entire office "donations" to as Christmas gifts, meaning that he gave Mr. Kruger a fake Christmas present.
  • Schemer in Shining Time Station somehow manages to keep his job as the eponymous station's arcade manager, despite being an obnoxious Jerkass who's not above lying, cheating, and occasionally even stealing to earn a few extra nickels. In one episode, he even takes other people's belongings without asking them and tries to sell them. And yet, the worst Stacy Jones (who runs the station) or J.B. King (the head of the railroad) do to him is tell him he's been bad and not to do it again. It's later revealed that Schemer isn't even an employee of the station — he just leases the space for the arcade from the railroad — but he seems to be doing well enough that it's not worth terminating his lease.
  • The Stargate-verse is Mildly Military, and in the military you have to suffer people with irreplaceable skills no matter how insubordinate they are, so you'll see a lot of people like this who like to butt heads with people and get away with it. The biggest example is Jack O'Neill in Stargate SG-1, who gets away with talkback, insubordination, and disobeying orders. If he were in the real U.S. Air Force, he would have been court-martialed at least six times over. But they evidently really need him, considering they dragged him out of retirement to lead the team — he can, after all, keep score of how often he's saved the planet. Hammond apparently keeps a file on O'Neill's behaviour — seen in the episode where he actually gets court-martialed (but it was part of a sting operation) — but he also seems to be good friends with O'Neill and willing to look the other way due to the SGC's secretive nature.
  • Star Trek:
    • From the Original Series: James T. Kirk consistently puts himself and most of his senior officers in danger in mission after mission. He takes them on landing parties, makes liberal use of Cowboy Diplomacy, disobeys direct orders from his superiors, and treats the Prime Directive — the Federation's most serious rule, which Starfleet personnel must protect with everything up to and including their lives — as a suggestion. Any real ship's captain who behaves even remotely like Kirk would be instantly court-martialed and at the very least permanently stripped of command authority. But he also has a job where one wrong move could lead to the end of human civilization, and he's proven to be very good at it. His crew is also very loyal to him and will back him up if anything goes wrong. Interestingly, Kirk is court-martialed in one episode, for something very minor compared to what he gets away with on a regular basis, and his superiors still make it a point to mention how good a starship captain he is. In the films, they do actually remove him from the captain's chair by giving him a promotion and sending him to Earth, but by then he acknowledges that he's getting too old for this anyway.
    • Voyager plays with the trope — Janeway states at one point that if someone like Kirk had been a Starfleet officer during the show's time, he's have been kicked out long ago.
      • Further, many of the crew pull stunts that would normally get them court-martialed. However, with Voyager stranded on the far side of the galaxy, it isn't possible to replace them. This especially goes for the Doctor, because the entire medical crew died in the accident that stranded Voyager.
    • From Deep Space Nine: Sisko's aggressive behavior, questionable antics, and use of biological weaponry should have had him court-martialed even by the show's standards. But he's also the commander of the figurative Fort Apache in space and the literal Messiah of the Bajorans, so it's not as if they can replace him. It's suggested that Starfleet specifically assigns Sisko to jobs like this (e.g. the Maquis rebellion, which was politically tricky because it was led by Starfleet defectors). By the end of the war, he's the de facto head of the alliance and most powerful man in the quadrant, his direct superiors accept his "recommendations" so often you'd think their positions were reversed, the Klingon Chancellor is a personal friend of his, and the Romulans tend to go along with him too.
  • Carrie from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody is a hotel lounge singer, hardly a secure job to begin with, and she manages to keep the job in spite of Zack and Cody's disruptive and destructive antics.
  • Michael Kelso from That '70s Show somehow manages to become a police officer, and despite all of his antics, he's never fired. These include breaking into the police academy, losing his supervisor's squad car, and setting the academy on fire with a flare gun. In one particularly funny instance, Eric gets arrested after his car won't start and Hyde, Donna, and Kelso ditch him, and when his colleagues find out Kelso was in on the prank, they throw him in the cell with Eric.
  • Torchwood:
    • Ianto kept a Cyberman in the Hub's basement (directly endangering the world) and disobeyed orders to shoot her. But he still manages to stay on the team.
    • In a season 1 episode, Gwen takes the newly-resurrected Suzie out of the Torchwood Three base to see her father. Upon seeing this on a camera, Jack mentions that she is "getting herself fired", but she ultimately remains part of the team. Likely because Suzie was manipulating her.
    • The season 1 finale involved the entire team — having been driven over the Despair Event Horizon — having a mutiny against Captain Jack. Owen even goes as far as to shoot Jack in the head, killing him. Of course, Jack can't die, but Owen doesn't know that. Their actions afterwards unleash a giant monster upon the city, though Jack ends up stopping it. Despite the fact that he told them many times not to open the Rift (which led to the aforementioned incidents), he forgives his entire team.
    • Justified in the opening credits — Torchwood is "outside the government, beyond the police." Jack is pretty much autonomous once Torchwood London at Canary Wharf goes down.
  • Wilhelmina on Ugly Betty is constantly trying to pull schemes to take over Mode, including marrying Bradford under false pretenses, hostile takeovers and various underhanded plots to get anyone against her fired. However, she's kept on board because, at the end of the day, she is a very good editor with much-needed contacts in the fashion industry. If she was to be fired, a rival magazine would snatch her up in an hour and Wilhelmina would be working to put Mode out of business. Thus, the Meades figure keeping her where they can keep an eye on her and use her skills to keep the magazine successful is better than turning Wilhelmina into a pure enemy.
  • Miles Hutchison, the Secretary of Defense on The West Wing, holds the President in open contempt, attempts to screen promotion candidates based on their political views, and uses the media to undermine foreign policy initiatives so frequently that Bartlet and Leo attempt to plan around it. He lasts the entire length of the series.
  • In Westworld Dr. Ford personally built a huge chunk of Westworld, has complete access and unparalleled control over its Hosts, and insists on keeping all of their data onsite. The Delos board would like to get rid of him, but they're afraid he'll destroy decades of research out of spite if they try it. Their representative was engaging in corporate espionage against their own company in an attempt to get hold of their own research, and Ford has her murdered — with the implication that he's done this once or twice before and they knew it might happen.
  • Almost every character on WKRP in Cincinnati is a complete screw-up who never even comes close to getting fired. It's lampshaded many times, and finally explained in the last episode when it's revealed that the owner actually wants the station to lose money so she can use it as a tax write-off.
  • Agent Mulder in The X-Files, and to a lesser extent Agent Scully and Skinner.
  • A major theme in Yes, Minister is that it is practically impossible for a civil servant to lose their job, regardless of how incompetent, malicious, or damaging their conduct. As such, whilst the politicians come and go, the civil servants are there practically for life, which given the turnover among the politicians themselves makes them instrumental in actually running the country.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin spent most of his time beating up his boss (Vince McMahon), humiliating him, ruining his prize possessions, etc., just to get a rise out of him. How he kept his job varied by storyline; either Vince kept him on just to make his life a living hell right back, or he kept him on because, regardless of the fact that he was absolutely miserable, he was still making tons of money because the fans adored Austin, or an independent authority figure (the commissioner, the board of directors, etc.) would thwart Vince's latest attempt to get rid of him.
    • There was actually a storyline where Vince did get so sick of Austin and all the problems he caused that he fired Austin, proclaiming that even the buyrates and money weren't worth it anymore. Austin actually showed up the next night in an infamous segment where Austin threatened McMahon with a gun, only to reveal it was a toy. In retaliation, Vince hatched a plot where he pretended to feud with his son Shane McMahon. In retaliation for demoting Shane to lowly referee status, Shane revealed he had signed Austin to a five year contract. Eventually, they revealed their plan while screwing Austin out of a title match using Shane's new found referee power. The point of this plan was to make the next five years of Austin's life a living hell.
    • This could apply to Austin in real life as well. Since 2002, he's walked out on WWE on multiple occasions, usually over gripes about where he was being put in a storyline, forcing WWE to officially "part ways" with him (one such incident caused him to lose a multi-picture deal with WWE's Films division). He also has been charged with assaulting women on at least a couple of occasions, not making for good PR. Still, despite all that and him not being in a match since 2003 due to his broken-down body, WWE will keep bringing him back for any small appearance because they know the crowd will always erupt upon hearing that sound of broken glass.
  • The Monday Night Wars were absolutely rife with this trope since both Vince McMahon and Eric Bischoff knew that if they fired anyone that wrestler would be on the other promotion's show the following week popping a huge number. People getting fired was so rare during this time period that on one of the rare occasions someone noteworthy did get firednote  it was so unusual that Jim Cornette mentioned it in one of his shoot promos.
    • Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall practically had this written into their contracts, and most of the other big names had protection that most unions would kill for. Hall was probably the worst offender, as instead of being fired or suspended (or punished at all) for his many public DUIs and other legal issues they were instead worked into his character. Bischoff got so fed up with Hall and Nash's politicking and refusing to put anyone over that he punished them the only way he really could: by firing their friend Sean Waltman (Syxx/X-Pac, who unfortunately didn't have the kind of pull to get this sort of bulletproof contract) while he was recovering from a neck injury. Waltman would show why people weren't getting fired much, as he was immediately pushed by the WWF as soon as he healed up, and drew money.note  Hall would eventually no-show enough dates to give WCW cause to terminate his contract in February 2000.
    • As detailed in The Death of WCW, by the late 90’s Scott Steiner was an unstable, rage-fueled crazy person who: got legitimately arrested multiple times, was almost certainly abusing steroids, ran down the company and his coworkers in unscripted promos on Nitro, threatened executives and came close to blinding Diamond Dallas Page in a backstage shoot. As one of the last few remaining proven draws the company had during its dying years, he continued to be pushed as a main event star, and was often punished by short “suspensions” with pay, effectively receiving a paid vacation every time his behaviour became really bad.
    • This was an issue even before the Hogan/nWo era, WCW in the early 90s was littered with guys on ironclad contracts, as long as they were willing and able to work they got paid regardless of if WCW actually used them. Knowing full well they'd get paid the exact same amount whether they put in any effort or not, most of them chose "not", and this is the main cause for the company's first Audience-Alienating Era (that and not having Ric Flair).note  Even just letting someone's contract expire didn't always mean you got rid of them: WCW's contracts would automatically renew unless either the wrestler or WCW gave their notice 90 days before it was to expire. Hilariously WCW forgot that they sent The Iron Sheik home at full pay because he was so bad in the ring by then, and were forced to pay him another year's salary at $150,000 when they failed to give notice that they weren't renewing the contract.
    • Shawn Michaels was such an indispensable part of WWE in the mid-'90s that he got away, without punishment, for the ultimate sin — breaking Kayfabe by sharing a group hug with his departing friends Razor Ramon and Diesel, as well as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, in the middle of the ring at the end of a live show in Madison Square Garden, despite the facts that, not only were Michaels and Ramon faces and Diesel and HHH heels, but Michaels and Diesel had just finished a brutal steel cage match against each other. HHH, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky; while he avoided being fired for the incident, he did lose out on an opportunity to win the 1996 King of the Ring tournament (this instead went to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin) and spent some time doing penance as a jobber-to-the-stars.note  This was turned into a bit of a Worked Shoot later with D-Generation X openly flaunting this trope. Triple H of course would really invoke this trope after marrying Stephanie McMahon, and as of 2024 with Vince resigning in disgrace (twice), Stephanie retiring, and WWE being merged with UFC he's the only one from the family left in the company.
  • People tend to have this if Vince McMahon is interrupted before uttering the words "You're Fired", and the smart heels have picked up on this. In 2009 Randy Orton punted Vince before he could finish and went to WrestleMania that year. He threatened to sue if he didn't get his guaranteed title shot, but the idea of firing him before he won the Royal Rumble never seemed to occur to anyone. In 2013 Paul Heyman had Brock Lesnar interrupt and beat up Vince in order to remain on the roster.
  • Joey Styles in Real Life. The crap he gets up to on Twitter alone would get any other employee fired — besides spoiling major events on WWE programming mere moments before they actually happen, he regularly and happily insults much of the stuff WWE has put out, including WWECW, and acknowledges (and rips on) on several WWE-considered nonentities such as TNA. It seems the only reason Vince doesn't just outright fire him is because the mutants would burn WWE Headquarters in a fit of rage the next day.
  • Kurt Angle. WWE released him due to health concerns, including a refusal to go into rehab for his painkiller addiction. He promptly jumped ship to TNA, where he got arrested no less than five times, four of which involved being pulled over for a DUI, before finally checking into rehab on his own. Angle had been TNA World Heavyweight Champion at least one of those times, and was booked to retain the title in spite of this. If it had been any other performer (such as Matt Hardy, who got fired after one DWI), they would have been shown out the door ages ago. But since Angle is arguably the biggest star in TNA, he got away with a lot more than any company, WWE included, would have allowed.
  • Jeff Hardy had this for a while. His massive Popularity Power often prevented him from getting fired or from getting de-pushed — especially in TNA. Then Victory Road 2011 happened, Jeff was sent home, and when he came back, he was told this would be his last chance. He's managed to stay on the wagon since then.
  • An Enforced Trope in Extreme Warfare Revenge, a freeware booking simulator game that features real promotions and wrestler rosters from when it was last updated in 2004. Triple H (for the reasons listed above), Jeff Jarrett (who co-founded TNA with his father), and the whole McMahon family have their contract status as "Unsackable", which means exactly what you think it means.

    Puppet Shows 
  • On Bookaboo, Bookaboo is a somewhat whiny Manchild puppy dog in a band, who won't play for the band unless he's read a picture book every day because without this he doesn't have his "bojo." The New Year's special with Paula Abdul indicates that the reason he keeps his job is because his fellow band-members, Paws and Growler, are in awe of him, considering a far better drummer than anyone else in the world. Also, their previous drummers had even more serious problems, so basically they're happy to have him because despite his issues, they could be dealing with worse problems.
  • Grover from Sesame Street keeps his job as waiter at Charlie's even though he constantly gets his customer's order wrong, though Grover means well. Of course, Charlie's Restaurant is one of the few places Grover is shown to be employed at regularly (he also worked at the Mail-It Shop during its brief run, but seems to have been more competent in that job).


    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS makes Tenure the blanket term for this sort of job security. Interestingly, priests are given as an example of people with Ultimate Job Security.
    • Truth in Television. Teachers, priests and similar individuals are easier to pass to another district or parish than to fire, defrock, or imprison.
  • Orsus Zoktavir in Iron Kingdoms. He's insane, Ax-Crazy, and prone to team killing and indiscriminate destruction. The favor he carries with the Empress and usefulness as a Person of Mass Destruction are the only things preventing his own faction from getting rid of him.

    Video Games 
  • Sorta touched upon in Disco Elysium, as despite Harry's very obvious substance abuse issues, he hasn't been fired yet, and depending on player choices, can keep his job, despite the aforementioned and the fact that shortly before the game, Harry drunkenly crashed his police vehicle into the water. Averted though if Harry consumes alcohol during the game without internalizing the Waste Land of Reality thought, as he will lose his job at the ending.
  • Captain Bannon from World in Conflict manages to be everything an officer in the Armed Forces should not be (cowardly, insubordinate, whiny, arrogant, incompetent and many more), yet the worst thing that happens to him career wise over the course of the game is a transfer to another front. Somewhat justified by the fact that World War III is occurring and there is a shortage of officers... though Bannon's bungling occasionally reaches levels where he could be considered a bigger danger than the Soviets. If it wasn't for his Heroic Sacrifice near the end, he would have surely been court-martialed or possibly executed.
  • Commander Shepard from Mass Effect does a few questionable things (one way or the other) but still has this because the nature of their position makes them explicitly above the law. While the Council hesitates to admit it, Shepard is so needed that they get Resurrected for a Job, and can get reinstated as a Spectre and still continue to screw up whatever they want to their heart's content. The Council does ask that they keep their Cowboy Cop ways to the Traverse and the Terminus Systems, but that's an empty request and Shepard knows it.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda:
    • Assistant Director of the Andromeda Initiative's Colonial Affairs William Spender is colossally incompetent, and acts like he's just the outright head of Colonial Affairs, while making decisions that endanger the lives of everyone onboard the Nexus (at one point, he's found stopping an engineer from trying to repair the station's life-support systems). He gets away with this crap because his boss, despite acknowledging his incompetency, also notes he'll do difficult jobs regardless. It takes Ryder bringing serious proof that he's ridiculously corrupt to boot, having engineered the riots and violence that befell the station before Ryder showed up, and trying to kill all the krogan in the Initiative, before she'll have him imprisoned or exiled, admitting she should've done it ages ago.
    • For a less harrowing version, one of the second wave of defrostees, Hunter Kerry, cheerfully notes that between one thing and another thing with the Initiative, the whole situation is an organizational nightmare, which is perfect for him, because it means job security.
  • Inphyy in Ninety-Nine Nights is only a senior field commander of the Temple Knights with several ceremonial and administrative posts above her. She's also astonishingly racist even by the standards of a faction called the Forces of Light and quickly goes careening toward the Moral Event Horizon when she mows down hundreds of unarmed goblin women and children. Despite this, she can't even be disciplined due to their allies seeing her as the spiritual figurehead of the entire crusade. Only her equally-ranked and equally-exalted brother dares to talk down to her, and this lack of repercussion for her actions makes it difficult for her to keep her moral compass in check.
  • Notable meta-aversion: Riot Games know exactly what kind of people the competitive Multiplayer Online Battle Arena scene tends to attract and recently made it abundantly clear getting your username on the webcasts doesn't mean you're above punishment: when a well-known American pro player ran afoul of the Tribunal enough times to get his main account slapped with a one-year ban, Riot informed him he could sockpuppet like everyone else all he liked, but he was also personally banned from sanctioned competition for the duration.
  • Deep Rock Galactic: Hoxxes IV is such a dangerous place that the dwarven miners that dare venture into its depths for its rich mineral treasures immediately earn this, even as newbies, including your four dwarves. You can kick barrels around and into the launch platform or escape pods to your heart's content, get as tanked as you want at the bar, screw around with the base's gravity controls, barge into restricted areas and dance really, really badly in front of everyone in-between missions, and all Mission Control can do is make ineffective threats to cut your paychecks and berate you like he's at the end of his rope. Dwarves so brave and/or nuts as to brave the planet's dangers are far too scarce to fire. That, and if they really are incompetent they're gonna die soon anyways, solving the problem.
  • Spider-Man 2: Unlike in the movie, here, you can screw up pizza deliveries as many times as you want and Mr. Aziz won't fire you.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Persona:
    • Persona 3 through Persona 5 have the Player Character enjoy a One-Hour Work Week in which they can take on a variety of part-time jobs and maintain a completely random schedule without getting fired. You can go one day, get paid for that one day, and then not come back for months. 5 justifies it by having the places Joker/Ren works be so desperate for help they don't care if he vanishes for months, and even offer bonuses for simply showing up on hectic days.
    • In a Persona 4: Arena scene, Kikuno casually walks away from her employer even as said employer realizes that Kikuno disobeyed orders to scare a potential ally half to death. This is probably because Kikuno is willing to keep the Kirijo Group's many crimes secret, one of few people capable of perceiving the Dark Hour, and a skilled gunner, making her almost impossible to replace.
  • Project Wingman: Downplayed. President, Monarch's WSO, is competent at her job, good enough with a wrench to be able to assist Sicario's ground crew when she isn't needed in the air, and all-round friendly and polite, so she really doesn't need Ultimate Job Security. However, she still has it, thanks to being the only WSO Sicario has been able to find who can match Monarch's tolerance for negative G-forces.
  • Halo 3: ODST has the squad's sniper, Romeo, who has no shortage of disciplinary problems (to include being very antagonistic and disrespectful to other members of his squad, including the squad leader, and eying up an attractive officer with a comment thrown in as well during the game's prologue) that by all rights should have gotten him discharged. Luckily for Romeo, he's an exceptionally talented sharpshooter, and just so happens to be serving the military during a war for survival against a genocidal alien empire, so with the circumstances being as severe for humanity as they are by the events of the game, the UNSC doesn't really have the option to cut him loose.

    Visual Novels 
  • Justified in Double Homework with Ms. Walsh. She was put in her position because of her incompetence, not in spite of it, because in the experiment conducted on the class, an incompetent teacher would allow the girls to look to the class alpha male (the protagonist) for leadership instead. Plus, Dr. Mosely/Zeta likely views it as an added bonus rather than a liability if she sleeps with the protagonist on school property.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Despite failing to stop the Fall of Beacon, increasingly authoritarian measures, and deteriorating mental state, James Ironwood still retains his job and seats on the Atlesian Council from Volume 4 onward. Jacques Schnee still retains his job and seats on the council from Volume 3 onward. Jacques lampshades it in "Remembrance", stating outright that it's a miracle he hasn't been stripped of his rank. Effectively, the culture of obedience Ironwood has fostered means that nobody in Atlas has the nerve to remove him from power. This contrasts with Ozpin, whose problematic decision-making in Volume 2 gets raised by Ironwood to the Vale Council; they immediately strip Ozpin of responsibility for Vytal Festival security and declare that his job will be discussed once the festival is over. However, before the festival can conclude, Beacon is attacked and destroyed in Volume 3, and Ozpin is presumed dead by everyone except the select few people who know he is secretly a reincarnating immortal.

  • Least I Could Do:
    • Rayne. He got a job as an executive at a multi-national corporation, with the goal of sleeping with the hot female CEO. He routinely sexually harasses all his female co-workers, including the aforementioned CEO and her assistant. He has climbed through the office's air vents ("You'll appreciate it if and when Hans Gruber shows up"), climbed the building with a homemade grappling hook when the lift was out, come to work dressed as a Stormtrooper (Star Wars, not Nazi) and once had a prospective employee used as a pinata. He keeps his job, because he's somehow increased company profits to record levels, and his perverseness/immaturity/loose grasp of reality seems to be seen by every other character as amusing or endearing.
    • It's interesting to note that this trope also applies to the aforementioned prospective employee. Despite being a complete Jerkass to everyone at the company ("So what's it like to be on the other side of the poverty line?"), including and especially his interviewer (Rayne himself), he still gets the job because he has all the practical skills required. One can only assume that the world of LICD has extremely strict equal opportunity employment laws. The selling point with "Archie" was that for all his stuck-up rich snob attitude, he had the skills, education and prospect ideas to really benefit the company. Even Rayne had to admit his proposals were sound, much as he wanted to kick the kid out the door anyway. We haven't seen much of him since, but presumably he keeps his attitude tightly reined in for fear of what Rayne might do to him.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del has Ethan, who doesn't even turn up to his job at a video game store half the time, is a Jerkass to staff and customers when there, and completely walks away from the job for weeks on end. Not only does he keep his job, he ends up OWNING the damn place. Though that last one is justified because Ethan was holding the deed, and the previous owner flat-out didn't care.
  • Davan of Something*Positive can always keep his job as a medical bill clerk. This is because his job is so horrible that probably no one else would want to apply for it, and because he is the only one left in his group who actually does any work. He realizes this power when he oversleeps in one comic, and after a split-second of believing he'll be fired, promptly goes back to sleep.
  • In Misfile it's getting increasingly hard to understand why Ash's father is still a doctor, much less employed. The man continually breaches patient confidentiality by talking about female cast members' vaginas (he is an OBGYN) and breasts, and likes to publicly mention his "nimble fingers". His behavior isn't even a secret, as the entire town describes him as "freaky creepy." It might be explained by him (presumably) being the only gynecologist in the small town of Tempest, and by him actually being highly qualified (he occasionally lectures at Harvard).
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Principal Verrückt, as Susan notes. Heck, one of his idiotic decisions should have gotten his school shut down. (He funneled the budget for maintaining the fire alarms into wall murals, and as a result the sprinklers don't work.)
    • Mr. Verres also qualifies. As his boss noted, he has far too many important contacts in both the extraterrestrial and paranormal communities to get rid of without causing an incident. That doesn't save him from getting Kicked Upstairs though.
  • Josh in Comic Critics once left his job for months, and found it still waiting when he came back. As he explains it, he understands the storeowner's psychology in such a way as to avoid being fired: "I look at a life filled with bad decisions that led him to this point, and figure there's no reason for him to stop making them now."
  • Lampshaded in Mike: Bookseller. No one is quite sure how Carol is still employed at Booksellers.
  • MegaTokyo zig-zags this with Largo, who was actually hired as a "catastrophe management officer" because of his insanity and willingness to break numerous laws in the line of duty, but he eventually gets fired for taking it too far. His teaching job, meanwhile, is a straight example: he gets hired due to mistaken identity and keeps his job even though he rarely actually teaches English and constantly endangers the lives of his students and himself. This is repeatedly lampshaded by Junko.
  • Questionable Content's Tai routinely shows up to her job as a college library supervisor stoned out of her mind on either marijuana, LSD, or both, and never suffers any sort of disciplinary action for it. Contrast this with Faye, who appeared to play this trope straight by maintaining employment at Coffee of Doom despite being openly abusive to customers (justified in-universe by having the customers actually enjoy her abuse) and her co-workers, but finally crossed the line and lost her job when she showed up to work drunk and was caught topping up with a Quick Nip. This has caused more problems for Dora since Faye actually did a lot of work around the shop despite her issues, and Dora's working herself into exhaustion picking up the slack.
  • Mrs. Cruddletwat of Ennui GO! somehow manages to keep her job as a teacher despite the fact that her sole pleasure is tormenting her students physically and emotionally. She doesn't even do any actual teaching. When the mother of one of her students fills in as a sub one day, she's horrified by what she learns and goes to the principal to complain... Where she learns that her son's class doesn't even exist. Cue Mrs. Cruddletwat being arrested for squatting in the school and impersonating a teacher.

    Web Original 
  • Agents of Cracked is an extreme example — Swaim manages to keep his job despite going on at least one killing spree. And the kidnapping. And the bomb threat. And the sexual harassment. Him getting fired for selling jokes to the competition is thus quite surprising, but his comedy savant abilities seem to be the only reason the Chief lets Swaim stay.

    Western Animation 
  • On 6teen, Nikki is usually seen slacking off or insulting the clothes she's supposed to sell at the Khaki Barn. In the rare instance where she gets fired or quits on her own, Chrissy always re-hires her (usually by one begging the other), despite Nikki's past treatment of her and Kirsten and Kristen.
  • American Dad!: The episode "Toy Whorey" had a teacher who was explaining to Steve's class that he has tenure, and thus it's "virtually impossible" for him to get fired no matter what he does. As soon as he's finished that sentence, he proceeds to karate-kick a random student in the face right in front of the entire class.
  • Archer: The titular character, as his mother is the head of ISIS, but the entire cast under her supervision could count, with countless cases of insubordination, incompetence, using company equipment for personal use, drug use on the job, and unprofessional sexual behavior, yet no one has been fired. It also helps that Archer is actually a highly effective field agent, if primarily in matters involving violence and assassination.
  • Zhao in Avatar: The Last Airbender. No screw-up is too big to get this guy into Ozai's bad books. Get publicly humiliated by the Fire Lord's hated disappointment of a son? Have the Avatar handed to you on a silver platter and let him slip through your fingers? Lose the Avatar and the notorious deserter General Jeong Jeong in the same day? You'll not only keep your job, you'll get promoted and eventually become commander-in-chief. You have to wonder what Ozai would have done if Zhao's "doom the planet" strategy had worked out as intended.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head:
    • Beavis and Butt-Head have never once shown any ounce of competence at their fast food job and have gotten the place closed for health code violations at least once, not to mention blatant workplace violations such as fighting each other in an attempt to earn workman's comp or going "on strike" and just refusing to work for no reason. Yet they were never shown having been fired.
    • Mr. Buzzcut is a sociopath who berates his students, assaults them, encourages bullying, and threatens his students with bodily harm. Despite this, he manages to keep his job, presumably because Principal McVicker respects his views and often covers for him. The closest he gets to losing his job is in P.T.A., where Beavis and Butt-Head out him for his abusive behavior, which puts him under investigation. We are most likely meant to assume that the investigators visited the school offscreen and-unfortunately-the boys' own behavior got Buzzcut cleared within 10 minutes (or less).
  • Camp Lazlo: Bean Scoutmaster Algonquin C. Lumpus, who is generally extremely incompetent and apathetic, and doesn't even like being a Scoutmaster. At least until the Grand Finale, where he's finally removed... because it turns out he was never actually the Scoutmaster—he'd actually locked the previous Scoutmaster in a closet and stolen his job; The Reveal here gets him imprisoned as a dangerous lunatic.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, Numbuh 13 seems to be universally despised by the entire organization, and for good reason. He's rude, incompetent, and a Walking Disaster Area who causes more problems than he helps solve, and blames everyone but himself. When he's kidnapped by the villains, the good guys don't want him back, even though the villains want them to take him back. For some strange reason, however, nobody in the organization's leadership has ever considered decommissioning him.
  • Most of the teachers in Daria should probably not be allowed to work anywhere near a school (save for maybe Ms Defoe or Mrs. Bennett), but special mention goes out to Mrs. Barch, a Straw Feminist and Sadist Teacher who has openly discriminated against the male students in her class, beat up another teacher on several occasions, and had a fling with Mr. O'Neal despite Ms. Li's rule against employee fraternization. Then again, Ms. Li has proven she isn't the greatest boss in the world either.
  • DuckTales (2017) episode, "The Great Dime Chase!" invokes this. Scrooge's accountants want to fire Gyro and Quackfaster, but Scrooge tries to defend them, claiming that they're vital employees and not as insane and dangerous as their antics seem. After Gyro's latest invention turned evil barges into the meeting, Scrooge goes the other way and concedes that, yes, they are insane, but they're also insane enough to seek revenge if fired. The accountants unanimously agree to keep them employed, far away from their offices.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Mr. Crocker. Everybody, including the principal of his school, thinks he's crazy, his students constantly fail their tests since Crocker actually enjoys handing out F's, and don't forget how cruel he gets on March 15, yet he still has his job. In real life, a teacher like that would have been fired a dozen times by now. In his first appearance, Crocker mentions his tenure is so good he could get away with killing one of his students' parents with one of his fairy catching devices.
    Crocker: If they survive, they're FAIRIES!! If they don't, I HAVE TENURE!!
  • Family Guy: Angela had apparently given this to Peter. No matter how much trouble he gets into, he's never gotten the punishment of losing his job at the brewery. Exemplified best in "Tales of a Third Grade Nothing", when Peter burned down a children's hospital on the job. This was forgotten about until the very end of the episode, when Angela brought it up again and said that she called the cops. Peter was arrested, but the judge only sentenced him to a week in jail.
  • Futurama:
    • Ogden Wernstrom was given tenure by the mayor in an emergency, only to abandon the city in its moment of need. The Mayor's thoughts on the subject? "Well, I'd fire him, but he's got tenure."
    • Zapp Brannigan somehow manages to keep his job despite being a vain womanizing idiot whose subordinates tend to die horribly. Subverted in "Brannigan Begin Again" where he and Kif were fired after Zapp stupidly destroyed the new headquarters of The Federation. They were then hired by Professor Farnsworth, prompting Zapp to later hijack the Planet Express ship and try to use it in a suicide mission against a neutral planet. Leela saves the day and is fully prepared to testify as to Brannigan's actions until she realizes that doing so would mean she'd be stuck with him—at which point she swears up and down that he was the hero of the piece, enabling him to get his job back and thus get him out of Planet Express.
    • Scruffy the janitor actually weaponizes this in one episode when Planet Express needs to fire one employee and are trying to find the least necessary one. He admits he's lazy and does very little, but what he does is so utterly crucial that he outright dares Hermes to fire him.
      Scruffy: My job? Toilets 'n' boilers, boilers 'n' toilets. Plus that one boiling toilet. Fire me if'n you dare.
  • Gravity Falls: Wendy Corduroy quite proudly and unrepentantly doesn't do anything whilst at work, and on the odd occasion that she does, it's not with a lot of enthusiasm or effort, yet she holds down her job. Stan outright states that he'd fire her if he could, but he never does.
  • Gargoyles: In a more realistic world, Elisa Maza's tendency to lose guns, and her unannounced six-month disappearance, would have landed her several visits by the Internal Affairs department, if not outright dismissal. She remains a valued member of the 23rd Precinct. Word of God is that her boss, Cpt. Chavez, used to work under Elisa's father, and is a friend of the family, so she cuts Elisa a bit more slack than usual. Also, Elisa has a pretty solid arrest/conviction record, and her absence made her an ideal choice for an undercover operation in a new gang that popped up while she was away.
  • Occasionally lampshaded by Chief Quimby, who wondered why he continued to put up with Inspector Gadget after our hero had repeatedly blown him up with exploding assignment messages. The facts that the rest of the Metro City Police force was almost as incompetent as Gadget and the Inspector's extremely high success rate (most of which was due to Penny and Brain, although Gadget himself often made important contributions) probably had something to do with it.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, despite facing George Jetson Job Security in one episode, Heloise seems to get away with betraying her boss fairly often. This might be because the above mentioned incident ended with Lucius begging her to come back to work.
  • As revealed by Ron in the Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama, the Cafeteria Lady, despite always dishing out mostly mystery meat to the disgust of the students, can not be fired.
  • King of the Hill episode, "Junkie Business" provide an example. The newly-hired Strickland Propane employee, Leon, is a drug-addict who barely does his job. He cannot be fired because he went to rehab before being officially fired and is diagnosed under Americans With Disabilities Act protecting him on the job. He takes advantage of the workplace (with the help of Anthony Page) adjusting to his settings and his behavior causes Hank to quit. This created a loophole reducing the workforce below the minimum requirement for AWDA to take effect, so Strickland promptly fires Leon.
  • The Slimer! segments of The Real Ghostbusters had Slimer pal around at the Sedgewick Hotel with a Surfer Dude bellhop named Bud, who never gets fired in spite of all the time he spends slacking off his duties to hang out with Slimer.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer Simpson shouldn't be working as an inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. He is grossly incompetent and monstrously stupid. He frequently leaves his job to pursue insane "lifelong dreams" and spur-of-the-moment opportunities. Yet no matter how badly he screws up, even if he leaves, even if he's fired, he always comes back. The show has offered several explanations for why this is:
      • Status Quo Is God — to an extreme degree. After all of Homer's antics, his boss Monty Burns always needs to be reminded who this "Simpson" character is.
      • If Homer were competent, he'd have the entire plant shut down — which is exactly what he does in "HOMR", where he picks up "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome. Burns is such a Corrupt Corporate Executive that he probably keeps Homer on board entirely to avoid anyone noticing all the corners he cuts on a regular basis, and this also explains why all of Homer's colleagues seem to be just as incompetent. In other episodes, Burns is seen actively resisting giving Homer training for this reason.
      • The plant employees have a powerful union, the International Brotherhood of Jazz Dancers, Pastry Chefs, and Nuclear Technicians, and Homer is behind only Smithers on the seniority list.
      • There's also a historical element of schadenfreude — in "And Maggie Makes Three" (set around the time Maggie was born), Homer quits his job to go work at the bowling alley, but quickly realizes that he can't keep working there and afford to support three children, so he reluctantly returns to the power plant. Burns delights in reminding Homer that he's stuck there, even hanging a Villainous Demotivator in his office reading, "Don't forget: You're here forever!"
    • Chief Wiggum is a morbidly obese and grossly incompetent cop. He rats out his own undercover men by accident and releases dangerous criminals on the condition that they go to his son's party.
    • Principal Skinner is respected by nobody and barely manages to keep the school open. His teachers are not much better, showing precious little care for their students and violating basic health principles by smoking and drinking in class.
    • Mayor Quimby is exemplified by the city's motto Corruptus in Extremis — he's easily bribed over anything and is a chronic womanizer, and yet he can't be removed from office, possibly because he rigs the elections.
    • Lionel Hutz is a terrible lawyer, and yet (until he ended up in Actor Existence Limbo) the Simpsons would only hire him whenever they needed a lawyer, even when they clearly knew the law better than he did. It might just be because he's extremely cheap.
      Hutz: Mr. Mayor, is it true that you rigged the election?
      Bob: No, I did not.
      Hutz: (Beat) Kids, help.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Squidward Tentacles may be this trope incarnate. He openly despises his job at the Krusty Krab, often belittles and insults the customers to their faces, regularly sleeps on the job, and occasionally dumps his workload on SpongeBob. It's even implied from time to time that he's actually trying to get fired. And yet, Mr. Krabs never does fire him. It's even a plot point in the episode "SpongeBob, You're Fired" — Mr. Krabs states that the only reason he's firing SpongeBob instead of Squidward, despite SpongeBob being a far more competent employee, is because Squidward has "seniority".
  • SWAT Kats: In the first episode of the second season, Lieutenant Felina Feral obeys direct orders from Commander Feral (who is also her uncle), despite his furious admonishments of "That's an Order!" He grumbles that he ought to throw her out of the force, but A) his brother would never speak to him again, and B) she is genuinely that good at her job.

    Real Life 
  • Until the sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was made public, Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno had the ultimate job security. Minor infractions with the NCAA, disagreements with the administration, several successive poor seasons and underachieving teams... none of that seemed to matter until Sandusky's arrest in November 2011. When the facts became clear, Paterno – who had been the head coach since 1966, and part of the coaching staff from 1950-1965 – was quickly outed for failure to show leadership and refer an alleged incident involving the sexual assault of a child (which purportedly was reported to him) to law enforcement.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court. While it is technically possible to impeach and remove someone from the office of justice of the Supreme Court, the last time it was attempted was when Justice Samuel Chase was impeached in 1804. He was acquitted. Effectively, only the icy scythe of death snips judges out of office. That being said, it's not unheard of for Supreme Court justices to resign of their own volition, usually because they are so old they can't be sure they'll survive the next president's term and don't want to die when their political opponents are in charge of replacing them. Impeachment (attempted or otherwise) against United States federal judges at any level is quite rare, to the point where it's basically unheard of. Eight have actually been removed, and three resigned under pressure after proceedings began.
  • In the U.S., members of Congress who represent safe states or districts are notoriously difficult to remove, as voters generally keep blindly voting them into office, and members of their own party are reluctant to challenge an incumbent. While there are mechanisms to remove members, since the Civil War, only three members of Congress have been successfully expelled.
  • Most nations have some mechanism that makes it very difficult to dismiss judges, in order to prevent the executive or legislature dismissing judges who make decisions they don't like. Whilst it doesn't always translate into this trope, it can. The great British judge Lord Denning stayed on the bench until he was 83, by which point his mental faculties were... patchy.
  • This mentality and how it happens in real life was lampshaded by Jaison in Survivor: Samoa, where he said that every job had two people like Natalie and Russell Hantz. Russell Hantz was that person who was very good at the job but is clearly not working there to make friends, and is naturally the person who only cares about work and nothing more. Natalie meanwhile is the person who's there to make friends and is invited to all the office parties - and keeps the morale going because people want to work with them.
  • Computer programmers sometimes jokingly call poor coding practices and examples thereof "Job Security". The reasoning is that they can't fire you if you're the only one who understands the code enough to maintain it. People who attempt to take advantage of it will either code in roundabout methods or maintain traps and back doors to ensure that nobody else can do their job.
    • It's worth noting that tech companies have gotten smart about this and will fire someone on the spot for attempting this. There are strict guidelines about code syntax to make it easy to read, and breaking them is grounds for immediate termination, precisely because they don't want to lose six months of work upon replacing the only person who understands the program. How they approach policy violations depends on the offense; incompetent or bizarre coding styles will likely start with performance plans (if it's a longstanding issue that the person has been spoken to about, and isn't clearly rooted in malicious intent), while inserting malicious code as job security (e.g., dead man's switches that will nuke large amounts of code if not regularly maintained) is grounds for immediate termination, as is coding that is clearly done intentionally poorly or incomprehensibly... if caught in time.
    • To expand on the above entry, employment contracts also typically state that any creations of the employee (i.e., internal programs that they write) are automatically company property. This is, again, to prevent unscrupulous or disgruntled employees from holding the company hostage by demanding that they purchase a license for a vital program that the person wrote.
    • In 2008, Governator Schwarzenegger ordered the firing of every temporary and part-time employee of the State of California, and the reduction of the survivors' pay to minimum wage. Only then did he discover that the only people who knew the state's payroll software well enough to implement the latter directive had been victims of the former...
    • As a joke goes, programmers never retire, they just move to consulting about systems written in outdated programming languages.
    • The above explains why Gerald Weinberg, in The Psychology of Computer Programming (written in the 1970s, and still applicable), states that if a programmer becomes indispensable, you should fire him immediately. On the other hand, Michael A. Jackson tells of bosses who find indecipherable complexity a sign of genius and simple and elegant solutions just dumb luck.
    • This can be a problem at the academic level if you have a professor who teaches students to find their own coding style and go with what works best for them. This is one of the worst things that you can teach; while it is good to figure out a style that works for you, it's imperative to make sure that others can understand it; professors who see bizarre coding styles as something to be embraced rather than corrected are setting students up for a long line of job-related difficulties. As many a veteran programmer has said, "you may have a style that's all yours, but I don't want to be the one who gets stuck having to maintain it".
  • Computer System Administrators. Bitter, angry, many bordering insanity. On the other hand, you don't want to fire someone who has root-access to your computer system unless you really really have to.
  • Tenure for academics is not quite this, but it's very, very close. Although granting it is supposed to be based on credentials and accomplishments (and limit favoritism and arbitrary dismissals as well as foster loyalty), it's not uncommon for members of a tenure-granting board to try to block people they don't like from becoming tenured just because it means they'll be stuck with them as coworkers for the foreseeable future — sometimes decades.
    • Example: It can take as long as seven years and $350,000 dollars to fire only one incompetent teacher in the New York City Public Schools.
    • Another example: Los Angeles Unified School District has a policy of 'housing' teachers accused of being unfit for their jobs - placing them on indefinite paid leave, as opposed to firing them or putting them in non-teaching duties (this is based upon management's interpretation of the teacher contract, and, well, not wanting people to do jobs they aren't qualified for). A 2009 case involved Matthew Kim, a former Special Education teacher with Cerebral Palsy, who had been on the payroll for seven years since being removed from teaching over a sexual harassment accusation, costing the school district $2 million in salary and legal fees over that time without either teaching or otherwise performing work for LA Unified (though, to be clear, much of that figure comes from the murky results of the lawsuit Kim filed alleging he had been specifically targeted because of his handicapped status). Of course, the counter-argument is that accused is the key word, and that any public employee has the right to appeal to an independent body. (story)
    • At the university level, all that tenure is supposed to mean is that a tenured prof can only be fired "for cause" and after "due process." In practice, over time, faculty senates and unions have defined "cause" so narrowly that even felonies may not be covered. Further, due process in a state university can involve appeals all the way up to the state's governor, who is the ultimate titular head of many such systems.
  • It is nearly impossible to fire some people from their day jobs because they are prominent members of unions. If the company does fire them, then they can expect the union to pull out all the stops, much more so than firing a normal union member. That said, if the employee's union decides that someone else could do their job in the union better, they are no longer protected.
    • Some people, mostly anti-union types and people that really love import cars, cite this as the reason for the decline in the quality of American cars starting from the mid-70s through at least the bailouts in 2009 (and depending on your opinion, maybe still to the present day). The United Auto Workers, or UAW, is one of the largest and most powerful unions in the country, and once you're in it's all but impossible to get rid of you. The belief is that a lot of these union workers just stopped caring about their jobs (assuming they bothered to show up at all) because they knew there'd be little if any consequences if they screwed up. The thing is though, the UAW for the most part only has contracts with the 3 American automakers - General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler - and only with factories located inside the U.S. Foreign automakers for the most part are non-union, so the perception is that they don't suffer this problem. Of course there's plenty of terrible cars made by foreign automakers out there too, which shoots a pretty big hole in this theory.
  • This is a major issue for police in America, due to the fact that the police union is one of the few that remains significantly strong and retains favor with the government, and most of the people who would investigate and punish wrongdoing are police or police-aligned organizations themselves. On top of that, settlements are typically paid by the city rather than the police department, meaning departments tend to avoid the worst of consequences when their officers do screw up badly, giving them little incentive to punish them. Even massively publicized instances of Police Brutality tend to result in paid suspension or reassignment to another precinct or department at most.
  • In Japan, labor laws make it quite hard to outright fire an employee. So instead the company would gradually relieve an employee of duties (or assign ones far below their status) in order to "encourage" them to leave, essentially deliberately invoking Abusive Workplace. Some examples include Nintendo's treatment of Gunpei Yokoi (who, despite inventing the d-pad all gaming controllers today still use and helped develop the Game Boy, was tasked with manning a trade booth following the failure of the Virtual Boy... an entry-level job) or how in 2015/2016 it was revealed Konami went out of its way to make its gaming division's work life a living hell (by putting them under unwarranted and intrusive surveillance or using humiliating punishments like forcing them to do janitorial work for other divisions).
  • Job security in Sweden has been criticized for being ultimate. This is not quite true - the law recognizes dismissal on the grounds of harassing your co-workers or gross misconduct - but we're talking really bad stuff here, like endangering other people. It is doubtful whether you can be fired for slacking around. If the employee in question is friends with the worker's union, most employers find it easier to buy them off, as they (the employers) will face lawsuits or strikes otherwise. Oh, and even when doing layoffs, you don't get to decide who stays and who has to go. The law says that the employee hired last has to be fired first. All this goes only for salaried workers, while temps and hourlies can be more easily laid off. And then the unions wonder why employers tend to avoid employing on a monthly basis whenever possible.
  • The banking system in general: Even after a string of notorious crashes and bailouts, nearly everyone in any position of responsibility still has their job, having created a financial system so complex that no individual could either fully understand its machinations, or be held particularly responsible for its dysfunction, and all those who come closest are probably already employed in the system. It's a really, really crappy situation for anyone not in such a position. Which is to say, pretty much every other taxpayer. This is also Vetinari Job Security: any other system to manage financing in a modern economy would be just as complicated.
  • Public jobs in Brazil: you're unlikely to get fired unless you royally screw things up (e.g. are caught stealing from your workplace).
    • Likewise fonctionnaires (civil servants) in France. The general perception being that they do no work and have a truckload of perks, but are essentially impossible to fire.
    • A lot of the problems with Greece's finances stem from their civil servants enjoying this trope.
    • It is also present in Germany, but is compensated for with civil servants being forbidden from unionizing and having to accept whatever the government feels like paying them.
    • And in Britain, much to the chagrin of the British military, who usually bear the brunt of budget cuts and are known for having George Jetson Job Security. After a cock-up left the British Army with a completely useless assault rifle, they nicknamed it "the Civil Servant": it doesn't work and it can't be fired.
    • Note that this can also lead to frustration among the public servants themselves, at least the ones who care about actually doing a good job. The Beleaguered Bureaucrats who are forced to spend a lot of time cleaning up the messes their coworkers make would be just as happy to see the incompetents shown the door, rather than have to keep putting up with them.
  • Hans-Ulrich Lutz, a pilot with the now-defunct Swiss airline Crossair, managed to keep his job despite several on-the-job blunders-such as retracting the landing gear of a plane while it was still on the ground and nearly landing at the wrong airport due to a navigation error. Unfortunately, this would come back to bite Crossair when Lutz crashed a plane near Zurich, killing himself along with 23 other passengers and crew.
  • This is quoted (by one part of the political spectrum) as one of the main reasons of unemployment in private companies in France. Nobody wants to hire because, unless your employee commits an Epic Fail that potentially endangers the company or actively tries to sink it, you have to go through a precise legal procedure where even a tiny mistake (such as sending a letter too soon) can result in a trial against you (the guy will still need a very good lawyer in case of a major blunder, though). If the employee can prove he/she's been fired due to a bias of the employer (discrimination, minor fault, etc.), in 99 cases out of 100, you'll have to re-hire the employee or pay very large fines and severance packages.
  • James St. James, a Millikin University professor who turned out to have murdered his father, mother and sister back when he was 15, yet was allowed to keep his job and remained popular with his students even after this fact was revealed.
  • Subverted in characteristic fashion in the Soviet Union under Stalin - the idea was that if anyone made themselves indispensable, it was time to dispense of them because they were working against Soviet ideals and trying to take advantage of others and their expertise. But it was more like Stalin wanted to get rid of anyone who could ever hope to be a threat. This caused predictable problems in fields like wartime intelligence.
    • This backfired horribly when the Germans invaded in World War II. The competent military leaders had all been purged or reassigned to Siberia as it was assumed they posed a threat. When the Germans invaded, the results were disastrous, and only the size of the Soviet Union kept them from being overrun. After the war, most were quickly reassigned back, but some like Marshal Zhukov were too good, and popular, to get rid of.
    • Played straight at the same time - sure, it was easy to get arrested in USSR, but getting fired was a much bigger challenge; one tiny mistake made by your HR department, and you can force your way back in. This resulted in a common practice, which continues even in modern Russia, of employers trying their best to reach some sort of understanding with employees and convince them to resign of their own volition, rather than go through a complicated legal process.
    • Played entirely straight with Stalin himself, too. His liberal use of The Purge made most people too scared to speak or move against him (in fact, many of his purge victims wrote to him pleading how much they loved and admired him) and his Cult of Personality meant he was widely beloved among much of the Soviet public in spite of his brutal policies. His being replaced was unthinkable until his death, which some historians suspect may have been hastened along by one of his cronies afraid of being purged or who wanted to be The Starscream.
  • Shepard Smith was anchor for right-leaning Fox News for 23 years, and had no qualms whatsoever about challenging the party line on an astonishingly regular basis and making conservative and liberal guests alike look like idiots when they didn't have their facts straight, including calling out Republican Senators for blocking the 9/11 First Responders' healthcare bill, asking why so many Republicans are firmly seating themselves "on the wrong side of history" regarding gay marriage, harshly condemning Fox's spreading of panic about Ebola, using a Precision F-Strike to punctuate his vehement opposition to torture, and utterly debunking the idea that climate change isn't real. Virtually every clip of him on YouTube has at least one comment wondering why he hadn't been fired yet. He was also responsible for the highest-rated show on the channel (and the second- or third-highest-rated news show on TV), polled as the second-most-respected news anchor in the country, and had been with Fox News since there's been a Fox News. He really was just that good. When he finally did walk away, he did so entirely on his own initiative.
    Shep Smith: Our talk shows are what they are. This is the news.
  • Ike Perlmutter, chairman (formerly CEO) of Marvel Entertainment, appears to have this. He has acquired such a stake in Marvel thanks to his toy company helping the comic company get out of bankruptcy that Disney can't fire him despite virtually no one in the company liking him thanks to his excessively cheap ways (Mickey Rourke was originally offered just $250K to co-star in Iron Man 2) and less-than-subtle bigotry (it was reportedly his doing that there were few Black Widow toys for years, and he said all black people look the same as his excuse for replacing Terrence Howard with Don Cheadle as War Machine, and it is well known that he stonewalled Black Widow, Captain Marvel, and Black Panther movies for years). After Kevin Feige got sick of this and presented several billion dollar box office hits as proof of his own competence (and that Perlmutter was The Load), the best Disney could do was restructure Marvel Studios in 2015 so Feige is now completely in charge of the movies and reports directly to Disney's chairman, leaving Perlmutter to just run the TV side of Marvel, and to an extent, the comics. His stock has rather fallen with the spectacular failure of the Inhumans TV show and their push in the comics at the experience of fan-favourites, the X-Men, reportedly on the grounds that Marvel didn't have the rights. Disney decided to chip away at Perlmutter's entrenchment by shuttering Marvel Television and giving responsibility of all Marvel-related film-and-TV development to Feige. Pearlmutter was eventually let go in March 2023
  • Jeff Fisher, former head coach of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans and later the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, was notorious for having his teams finish around a .500 or lower record for much of his 23 years coaching in the National Football League, yet he inexplicably still kept his job. And in the seasons he finished above a .500 record, his teams went one-and-done half the time and another where his team fell just short of winning the Super Bowl. Though he left the Titans after 2010, he would become the head coach of the Rams, where his team never finished above .500 in all of his five years with the team. It seemed like this trope would continue on after he signed an extension after yet another sub-.500 season, but he was ultimately fired a week later.
    Eric Dickerson: I'll say it again; where are the naked pictures? Who has them? Because something is going on here to hire this guy back again for another two seasons.
  • A rather negative example of this trope. Until Buzzfeed published an article about it during the fallout of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, this was the case with former DC Comics editor Eddie Berganza. He was a serial sexual-harasser, and was reported to their HR department, but very little action was taken against him. This went on for over a decade until the aforementioned article gave DC enough of a bad publicity to finally fire him in November 2017.
  • Several comic book writers remain employed despite the low quality of their work and unprofessional conduct towards fans.
    • The industry was hurting over a decade ago and never fully recovered from the collapse of the 90's, and all the writing talent moved on to independent work, so these companies hired the cheapest talent they could find - the aforementioned writers. In the grand scheme of things, monthly books are a single-digit percentile of Marvel's IP (DC is very much the same). The comic books exist for the sole purpose to 'pad the shelves'.
    • Most of these writers believed that by the time it got to that point, their pet projects would have TV/Movie deals and they'd have steady royalties from that. They also believed that if Marvel or DC cut them- they'd have work elsewhere.
    • That is why they were so absurdly volatile on Social Media; they didn't have 'an agenda', they wanted to draw attention to themselves and they knew that hitting these hot-button topics and lashing out on divisive topics would draw focus to them, and thus the odds of that Movie/TV deal got better, exponentially.
    • This behavior is potentially coming back to bite them due to the COVID-19 Pandemic requiring self-quarantine; money is scarce and big publishers are stopping most work on comics. These writers now have to self-publish instead of depending on Marvel or DC to foot their bills.
  • This is a common view of being appointed to the Canadian Senate. Canadian Senators are not elected and typically stay in their position until they reach the constitutionally mandated retirement age of 75. One of the most infamous examples is Senator Lynn Beyak. Beyak was appointed by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2013 and then kicked out of the Conservative Senate caucus by Harper's successor Rona Ambrose over her criticizing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's inquiry into the impact of the residential school system on the Indigenous children forced to attend it for emphasizing the horrific treatment the kids suffered instead of the "well-intentioned good deeds" of the churches and government bureaucrats who ran the schools. She was then suspended from the Senate for refusing to take down e-mails full of anti-Indigenous racism from her Senate web page, and suspended again for refusing to attend mandatory anti-racism training. On top of all that, she was revealed to have violated U.S. election law by donating to Donald Trump's presidential campaign despite not being an American citizen or permanent resident, and lying that she lived in the U.S. Despite all this, she kept her job because the process to remove a Senator before retirement is slow and complex. In January 2021, with her reputation in tatters and her name mud in Canadian political circles, Beyak resigned from the Senate.
  • Royal kings and queens usually reign over their countries until they die. Getting rid of them prematurely usually required drastic action like regicide or full-on revolutions. Hopefully they Know When to Fold 'Em. Many countries have subverted this by turning into constitutional monarchies where the monarch "reigns, but does not rule", in that almost all the practical business of running the country is handled by elected officials and legislatures while the monarch serves a ceremonial role. In recent times, a few royal scandals have caused so much public uproar that the monarch or other member of the royal family is Kicked Upstairs or Reassigned to Antarctica, such as Spain's former King Juan Carlos I and Britain's Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.


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Hojo (FF7 Abridged)

The professor has lost more than a few screws in his old age.

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Main / ScatterbrainedSenior

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