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Work Hard, Play Hard

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He's the most efficient person in your workplace. He thinks of plans that work better than anybody else's and can take down anyone when he's attacked. He might be a harsh employer or a kind helper who teaches you how to make your work habits more efficient. He is always professional and mature, if not a little too uptight. Either way, you can always rely on him for anything, as long as it's work related.

One day, he invites you to hang out with him after work. Curious, you agree.

You're surprised to see him break open the alcohol, start screaming karaoke or show other wild behaviors that you never saw at work. Turns out, he spends as much energy partying as he does working hard. He might even use the fact that he works so hard as a reason to why he plays so hard.

Truth in Television here, as relaxing and having fun is good way to keep stress levels down and recuperate physically and emotionally, so it makes sense to be as committed and efficient at relaxing as you are working. Being social is also a good way to find employment and learn from others, so a complete workaholic is pretty tough to find in Real Life. There's also the fact that most people enjoy having fun and relaxing — but need to work to earn money. Frequently this is the other side to characters like The Reliable One. You'd think this character would get along well with a Workaholic, who they superficially resemble until The Reveal, and they may get along great during work hours (or be The Rival to each other), but when hanging out this character might find their workaholic colleague to be a buzzkill, that is IF they even agree to hang out.

Sub-Trope of More than Meets the Eye and a subversion of Workaholic. Contrast All Work vs. All Play.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • Beast Fables: This is a facet of werereptile culture. They believe in putting everything they have into whatever job they have so as to both learn from it and strengthen their community but they also see rest as a sacred time to recover and will typically do so in whatever way they find most relaxing.

    Fan Works 
  • The Passing of the Shades of Black: Surprisingly, Xander Harris. Off the clock, he's still the same lovable goofball as canon. On the clock, anything that doesn't pertain to the mission or his comrades' safety gets passing acknowledgment at most. Best shown when he has to help a pair of bounty hunters stake out an alien strip club/brothel for a couple of bounties; he gives the working girls a glance to make sure they're not the target before moving on and ignores the manager's attempts to goad him with insults to his experience and age.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark demonstrates this trope at the beginning of the movie, where he's inventing state-of-the-art weapons systems in between having crazy hardcore parties. He stops playing so hard, though, when his experience in Afghanistan leads him to make very serious efforts to curb the violence.
  • The late Charlie Wilson, as portrayed in Charlie Wilson's War, fell under this. Well, after he decided to get involved in Afghanistan, anyway — we see little evidence of the "work hard" before that.
  • Lt. Rasczak in Starship Troopers encourages this for his men. "Here's the beer! Here's the entertainment! Now, have fun — that's an order!"

  • In the Star Trek Expanded Universe of novels, there was a temporary security chief on the Enterprise who embodied this trope: a total hard-ass with his staff on-duty, but off-duty he parties with them in the lounge, and as a result, their loyalty to him is absolute.
  • The declared mission statement of Hawkeye, Trapper John et al in the original Mash novel is to be such brilliant and reliable surgeons when they're on duty that they can get away with absolutely any crazy shit they feel like pulling when they're off duty. It works.
  • The king in Dr. Seuss' The King's Stilts. The whole theme of the book is why only working is not emotionally healthy and causes problems in the long run.
  • The Tayledras in the Heralds of Valdemar books are explicitly stated to be this at one point. They fight horrible magic-born monstrosities and purify magically-twisted land in little scout teams where one wrong move could get them all horribly killed... and live in little glens of eternal summer where they throw wild parties whenever they have an excuse.
    • The titular Heralds aren't far off. While a Herald lives and breathes Duty and most of them suffer Samaritan Syndrome, off-duty they tend to be "hedonistic and anything but chaste". As with the Tayledras, when Heralds can't get a certain amount of explicit time off, e.g. Vanyel, they tend to suffer for it; in extreme cases they permanently bond with someone calmer and more stable who can help them relax.
  • Winter fae of The Dresden Files are a dark example. They're bound to fight in a Forever War against an Eldritch Abomination that often corrupts their allies into traitorous Omnicidal Maniacs, so when they can, they let off steam by abusing humans. Their queen is more self-aware, but no less entitled, seeing it as the Necessarily Evil that her people deserve.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the people of Cairhien have a reputation for being sober, industrious, and modest, which makes it all the more shocking for visitors when a festival day rolls around and the city collectively goes wild — it's entirely plausible for a random laborer to wander into a debauched revel with a group of aristocrats. Then, once the hangovers wear off, people quietly go back to business.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jadzia Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is an exceptional science officer who enjoys partying hard, gambling with Ferengi, brawling with Klingons, drinking, rough sex, fun on the holosuite, and playing practical jokes, and still finds time to be the station's biggest gossip. It's hinted that she got some of this from previous host Curzon.
  • As in the literature example above, the characters from M*A*S*H maintain a healthy level of insanity whenever they are off-duty, as a defense mechanism against the horrors of war.
  • Samantha Carter of Stargate SG-1. She's an incredible workaholic who spends long nights and weekends working on her science stuff. The rare times we see her at home, she's building and racing motorbikes. The closest thing she has to taking a holiday is entering an alien death race.
  • Firefly: Simon of all people has alluded to some pretty spectacular drunken antics while at university. Of course, he was a medical student...
  • Most of the characters from The Big Bang Theory grow into this. Sheldon sees himself as this, but in reality, his idea of a fun-filled day is visiting the city planning department and filling out forms.
  • Duck Dynasty: Si Robertson's philosophy of life can be boiled down to this, with one corollary. The full version: "Work hard, play hard...nap hard!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • Blades in the Dark: Higher attributes lead to more stress cleared when characters indulge their vices. Higher attributes mean that the character is better at managing a crisis, but more stress being cleared means a higher risk of overindulgence.
  • Pathfinder: Yamarajes, the highest-ranking non-unique psychopomps, spend the majority of their time diligently judging the souls of the dead, arbitrating complex ethical cases, and managing the Celestial Bureaucracy. They also eagerly indulge in exquisite banquets during their infrequent personal time.

  • In the Elves vs. Dwarves dynamic, the entire Dwarven archetype often revolves around this idea. Dwarves are often depicted as the Industrial Faction, making use of hard work, technology, and sheer industrial strength as the counterbalance to their magical elven counterparts. However, at the same time, while Elves are often archetypically intellectual and puritanical, the Dwarves, at the opposite side of the spectrum, are also depicted as the fun-loving, sociable, extroverted faction, e.g. engaging in social drinking and being the comic relief for many Fantasy Role Playing Games.

    Video Games 
  • Destiny: Emperor Calus is the leader of a worlds-conquering empire and a mighty warrior who can battle demigods on equal footing. At the same time, he's a lazy, fun-loving hedonist with no higher goal in life beyond having a good time. He lampshades this and explains it; he fights not out of a desire for violence or power, but to carve out a safe haven for his people where they can truly enjoy life to the fullest.
  • Dragon Age: The Qunari are an extremely serious, efficient, and stoic race. Sten, a Qunari, says he has no memory of playing when he was a child and is somewhat offended by the notion that you'd think a Qunari would waste their time with such frivolity; even childhood is merely a time for studying whatever role they will be playing in society as an adult. However, this all goes out the window when a Qunari is declared Qunoran Vehl, a cultural hero. Sten says that when this happens, the Qunari party so hard that executions are sometimes required to get everyone back in line.
  • Mass Effect 3: One of the War Assets that you can acquire is Spec Ops Team Delta. They are known for their "strict admission standards, professionalism on high-stakes missions, and the Alliance's loudest parties."
  • The Secret World: Kirsten Geary never spends a working hour idly: she has to manage you and every other Illuminati agent in the field, coordinate your movements, deal with the backlash of your actions, and take steps to ensure total indispensability — her best way of securing herself against a You Have Failed Me scenario. However, when she's not managing you, Geary is partying. Hard. Every now and again, you'll happen to finish a mission while she's off the clock, forcing Cassini to inform you that Geary is currently enjoying the benefits of an office party with an open bar; she also has a pronounced fondness for peyote and magic mushrooms, and will occasionally ask you to bring back anything hallucinogenic you find in the field; lastly, a missed memo during one of the Christmas quests results in you delivering your after-mission report right in the middle of the Illuminati Christmas party, resulting in her drunk-texting you back.
    Bolon Yok,te What? Did you not get the ocpmay-wide memo about the hodliday party/ uGH. i'M ASSming youd did good out there. Which means I didn good. bottoms up!

    Web Original 
  • Noob: Ystos plays a MMORPG professionally. In his downtime, he's never without reading material or a portable console, while his casual play second avatar is a master of the Stealth Hi/Bye who speaks in borderline Creepy Monotone. He's also seen to have a big outburst of joy when his older but less talented brother's avatar reaches level 100.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Bruce Wayne openly takes an active interest in running his company, in contrast to most other versions of him. But that doesn't mean he's not still a Millionaire Playboy in his free time.
  • Max Steel: When the main cast aren't saving the world from supervillains, they're throwing themselves into extreme sports. Said verbatim by Berto — or rather, Dread impersonating him — during a ski trip.
  • Regular Show: Muscle Man is very hardworking during his shifts that require a lot of effort and strength. During his free time, he binges on junk food and soda, plays with the golf cart, and goofs around with Mordecai and Rigby.
  • The Simpsons: In "Homer's Phobia", Homer is worried that Bart is turning gay and brings him to a steel mill to show him manly men doing manly jobs. Turns out it's a Macho Camp gay steel mill. Then the 5 o'clock whistle blows, and the place becomes an industrial-themed gay dance club. "We work hard, we play hard."
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob is an extremely diligent worker at the Krusty Krab, a position he is very dedicated to. Off the clock, he blows bubbles, catches jellyfish, reads superhero comics, and spends time with his friends (especially Patrick and Sandy).
  • Young Justice: Word of God says this is the general perception the public has of Bruce Wayne, rather than as the usual Idle Rich reputation he has in other continuities.

    Real Life 
  • Deutschland. note 
  • Nippon. note 
  • Imperium Romanum: Work ethic centred around strict obedience to the Paterfamilias, massive engineering projects, technology too advanced for their time, a well-sustained government, the ability to manage countless nationalities into a single Imperium that most considered the equal of The Empire of the Han or The Persian Empire, even a thousand years afterward. The language of Latin IS the official language of European societies' Laws (hence why European societies' legalese has all kinds of Latin terms, and considering the Legalistic tradition of Roman society), and the field of Science would not mind borrowing a few Latin words to supplement the Greek. Yet the Romans were, also, you know, Romans.
  • Investment traders/speculators and corporate executives are said to subscribe to this trope particularly strongly, especially during the heady days 80s and 90s (as memorialized by movies such as Wall Street and The Wolf of Wall Street). It was said that there are only two possible ways for a respectable Wall Street trader to die: overwork or overdose.
  • Glorious Mother Russia is often stereotyped as a nation of alcoholics who nevertheless get things done efficiently and create one of the world's most formidable superpowers.
  • Many U.S. university student bodies stake a claim to this concept as a guiding philosophy, complete with the slogan, "First we'll out-think you, then we'll out-drink you."
    • Medical students in particular are infamous for this sort of thing; it's an incredibly stressful course of study that leaves them with very little free time, so when they do get a chance to blow off some steam they grasp it with both hands.
    • More outgoing engineering students tend to be this way as well, especially those who run their faculty or department's student societies, pulling through difficult coursework and then cutting loose with abandon as soon as they have the opportunity. There is a very solid basis for the Engineers' Hymn, of course.
    • Law students as well tend to very much practice this. Law school is famously a very stressful, competitive experience. Many students bond and blow off steam in bars after classes or exams, or engage in recreational drug use. The legal profession is often no different. The downside of course is that substance abuse is a common issue among the profession, and concern for many lawyers who are or risk becoming a Functional Addict.
  • Elizabeth I was rather like this. She loved giving parties and men made elaborate (and perhaps somewhat suspicious) statements of Courtly Love toward her.
  • Christopher Titus described his father this way; he never missed a chance to get drunk, high, or laid, but he also never missed a day of work.
  • This is more or less a way of life for many branches of scientists. Go to conventions during the day, and when night falls, go out and get rip-roarin' drunk. Repeat cycle until retirement.
  • Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots: Famous for being a major party animal and arguably the best tight end in the NFL.
  • Despite his well-deserved reputation for self-indulgence, Louis XIV was no decadent wastrel. Quite the contrary, he was a meticulous workaholic who spent long hours handling official business and oversaw his programs down to the last detail.
  • Chefs and cooks; considering the high-stress nature and long hours of kitchen work, it's hardly surprising that most chefs will dive straight for the booze once they've wrapped up work. Unfortunately, drug and alcohol addiction is not uncommon in the hospitality industry.
  • Office parties are usually a way for both employers and employees to unwind from work and socialize with each other.
  • This is part of why people like to go to conventions, for some it's like a vacation, do the hard work during the day but have a blast in the evenings.


Homer's Phobia

"We work hard, we play hard."

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Main / WhereEverybodyKnowsYourFlame

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