TV Characters With Non-TV-Character Jobs?

I think it’s obvious that most characters on TV hold down jobs that are anointed as Jobs For TV Characters - that is, the list of jobs that television screenwriters think make up the entire workforce. I would say that there are approximately twelve basic jobs that TV writers think exist in the entire universe:

  1. Lawyers and judges
  2. Cops and/or private investigators
  3. Teachers
  4. Actors, comedians, newscasters, or other TV/radio/movie jobs
  5. Writers, models, photographers, or other print media jobs
  6. Firefighters and paramedics
  7. Soldiers, spies, and secret agents
  8. Doctors and nurses
  9. Billionaires
  10. Fashion industry people
  11. Artsy, media or faddish psuedo-jobs like painting or owning a bookstore, crap like that
  12. The domestic servants of people in jobs 1-11

Now, there have been a few TV series in which the central theme of the show is some other sort of job. “Taxi,” for instance, or “Wings.” “Newhart” was about a guy who owned a hotel.

My question is: what examples can we think of of characters who did normal, common jobs that weren’t a part of the show? I can think of a few, but not many. I can think of hardly ANYONE who works in a manufacturing facility of some sort, despite the fact that that’s actually where most people work, at least on this continent. The few I thought of:

  • Archie Bunker worked at the docks
  • The guy in “King of Queens” is a postal worker

Who else has there been?

Newman from “Seinfeld” is a postal worker.

On “Roseanne,” several of the women go from factory work to being servers in a restaurant. Dan goes from hanging drywall to owning a bikeshop to being a supervisor in a city garage.

Basil of Fawlty Towers runs a hotel.

Rachel of Friends is a waitress.

Archie Bunker was a foreman on a loading dock.
Ralph Kramden was a bus driver.
Ed Norton worked in the sewers of New York.
Felix Unger was a photographer.
Mike Brady was an architecht.
Darren Stevens was an advertising executive
Herman Munster was (or worked for, I forget which) an undertaker.
George Jefferson ran a chain of dry-cleaning stores.

Zev Steinhardt

Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls) manages an Inn (which she does not own).
Drew Carey works in an office. I don’t watch the show regularly, but don’t the other two guy characters, Ryan Stiles and the other one, have blue-collar jobs?
Red Foreman (that 70s Show) worked in a plant until it was closed, then was unemployed, and now works as a manager at a Wal-Martesque store.

Monica worked as a Chef and the a caterer

Chandler works in some office type situation

Phoebe was, at one point, a massage therapist

Oswald works for a UPS-type delivery company & Lewis is a janitor at a chemical company.

Homer Simpson works at a nuclear power plant.
Andy Richter is a tech writer.

Whoops! Sorry. I missed that you already mentioned Archie and that a photographer was in the “in” jobs list.

In any event, a few more…

Pheobe Buffay is a massuess. (I’m sure I spelled that wrong.)
Monica Geller is a cook.
Ross Geller is a paleontologist (Gee, Friends sure has a bunch of these “unusual” jobs).
Homer Simpson works in a nuclear power plant.
Roc was a garbage collector (I miss that show).

Zev Steinhardt

I don’t watch Friends often, but she’s moved onto some kind of executive position in fashion/retail.

I’m not sure what the point of the thead is, since there are plenty of examples outside of the list of twelve. Most family-based sitcoms featured adults with jobs outside the home, with only occasional visits to the office.

I think the father on Leave it to Beaver sold insurance.
The father on Brady Bunch was an architect.
The father on Family Ties worked at a PBS station.

For shows that regularly show people at their jobs, I’ll admit the list of 12 covers almost all of them, for the simple reason that the listed jobs are exotic and/or interesting enough to build weekly stories on. There are still exceptions, though. Cheers took place in a bar, without half the regular cast “working” there. The setting is mundane and the show wasn’t really about getting schnockered, but the show succeeded on the strength of the writers and actors.

err, scratch “without”, replace with “with about”

A few of the claimed examples are in fact one of the Twelve TV Jobs: Mr. Keaton in “Family Ties” working at a PBS station qualifies under Category 4, Ross Geller is a professor and hence a Category 3 worker (though in fairness, they make it funny,) Rachel hasn’ t been a waitress in a long time and was transitioned into a Category 10, and while Newman CLAIMED to be a postal worker, it seems to me he was in fact Satan. Drew Carey characters’ jobs revolve around the show’s primary setting.

Norm and Cliffy of Cheers were an accountant and a postman, respectively.

Al Bundy was a shoe salesman.

The father in Wonder Years had some sort of regular job, then had a furniture store.

I’ve also noticed that most of the people whose jobs don’t conform to the Acceptable 12 are most often portrayed as losers, misfits or otherwise deserving of our scorn or pity.

May I add a 13th class of TV Job - 11a, member of clergy.

Hank Hill sells propane (assistant manager of the store)
Dale Gribble is an exterminator

I don’t watch a lot of current TV…can I go dig up some really old shows?
(Like B.J. and the Bear with a truckdriver or Dukes of Hazzard, where they were, what? Farmers?)

Another one: Who’s The Boss*, an advertising executive and a housekeeper!

Not anymore. She’s become an executive-type for Calvin Kleine. How comfortable.

And Monica is a successful chef with great cooking.

And Joey is an actor on a soap opera.

And Chandler has a Jr. Exec-type job involving a weekly commute to Paris. Okay Tulsa, but it’s the Paris of Oklahoma.

Ross is a paleontologist/professor at a NY university (NYU?).

They never mentioned what Ward’s job was at the show. He just “went to work” each morning (excluding Saturdays and Sundays, working on those days is for communists!) and came back in time for supper.

Didn’t Laverne and Shirley work in a bottling plant? The Cartwrights in Bonanza were ranchers. Pa, in Little House on the Prarie and Oliver Douglas in Green Acres were both farmers. The various Star Trek casts were all astronauts of a sort. :slight_smile: Frazier is a psychiatrist, but that would probably count as a “doctor” In Cheers, Sam was a bartender, Carla and Diane were waitresses, Norm was an accountant, and Cliff was a mailman. The characters in the West Wing are all politicians or political staffers, as is Mr. Sterling in “Mr. Sterling” Giles in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was a librarian, but again, maybe you’d count that as a teacher.

Howard Borden on The Bob Newhart Show was an airplane navigator. Jerry Robinson was a dentist (that may count as “doctor”).

Howard Cunningham of Happy Days owned a hardware show. The Fonz was a mechanic.

Them Duke Boys were moonshiners. And proto-NASCAR racers. And yes, the show revolved around their jobs…

The list of 12 neglects to mention Politicians.

It’s not as common as some of those jobs on the list of 12, but common enough.

The West Wing, Mr. Sterling, That’s My Bush, Benson, and several other mostly short-lived shows whose names escape me have featured or centered around characters who hold public office.

Don’t forget Spin City.