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"Jet-SON! You're fired!"
Mr. Spacely, The Jetsons, Once an Episode.

Employees of large companies walk a fine line in sitcoms or sitcom-related shows in which being fired could come at any moment. Our hero may have worked for the business for 10, 20, 30 years or more and been the model of efficiency and dependability, but if he screws up just once in front of the boss it's all for naught.

The mistake may not even be work-related. Losing a game while paired with the boss at the company picnic is just as bad as, if not worse than, falling asleep at your desk. Refusing to participate in the boss' latest Zany Scheme (which may or may not be illegal) could also bring the axe, as can refusing to spend personal time babysitting his bratty kids or entertaining his demanding relatives. (Or, agreeing to, and then doing a subpar job).

Bosses in the TV world have apparently never heard of such things as wrongful termination or hostile workplace lawsuits. And neither has the poor fired employee, who will likely spend most of the time dejectedly scanning the want ads while his concerned family looks on instead of planning some kind of legal recourse.

Fortunately, a boss who'll fire you for such asinine reasons will also be just as capricious in his hiring, and the fired character often gets their job back anyway, either by the end of the episode or by the start of the next one-- making the lack of job security more of a Running Gag than a real threat to their well-being.

Named for George Jetson of The Jetsons, who seemed to be fired (and then rehired) on a daily basis by his hot-headed boss, Mr. Spacely.

See Ultimate Job Security for the other extreme, in which employees who legitimately should be fired don't get fired, and No Such Thing as HR for when nobody seems to be in charge at all.

Examples of George Jetson Job Security include:


Comic Books

  • Peter Parker and J. Jonah Jameson. Need more be said?
    • Subverted in the first cartoon series:

 Jameson: Tell him he's fired.

Betty Brant: You can't fire him, he's a freelancer.

Jameson: Well, put him on the payroll and then fire him.

    • Used in the second move where Peter is fired twice and the film still ends with him employed. In one scene, he is fired and then re-hired within the space of three seconds.
      • In the video game adaptation of that movie, your first interaction with Jameson ends up with you "fired". After he leaves the office (to get more pictures for the Bugle), Spidey muses that that was "The fifth time J.J.'s fired me this week." And if J.J.'s office is open, you can "talk" to him; one of the randomly-generated responses is "you're fired." It's possible to get this result several times in a row.
    • Really, JJJ could easily be the poster boy for this trope.
  • The Story The Magnificent Seven (minus 4) Caballeros by Don Rosa opens with Scrooge firing Donald Duck:

 Scrooge: You're fired! And be back here at work all the more early tomorrow to make up for the time you lost by getting fired today!

Huey Dewey or Louie: Poor Unca Donald, Unca Scrooge fires him at least once a week!

  • To elaborate on the above point: The European Donald Duck comics printed in weekly magazines popular in the continent (and elsewhere) has Donald giving the Trope Namer a run for his money at the very least. Comics where one page (or more) is devoted just to Donald getting fired from job after job is not unheard of - due to the Negative Continuity the comics have, there's just nothing stopping poor Donald from either:

 1. Working with shining Scrooge's coins to slave-like conditions.

2. Getting one (or multiple) jobs - if one job (2a), he has total success until the end, where it becomes a failure of massive proportions and he is fired as a result - if multiple (2b) it's the rapid-fire firing mentioned above.

3. Having to live with chronic unemployment.

4. Or multiple / all of the above. In the same comic, even.


Film

  • It's hinted that Mr. Wynant may be something of a Mr. Spacely in The Thin Man:

 Wynant: Tom, show this... Where are you going?

Tom: Home. I'm fired.

Wynant: Who fired you?

Tom: You did.

Wynant: Ah, forget it. Will you show this gentleman around?

Tom (smiling): Yes. Right this way, sir.

  • In All of Me Edwina tells Roger's boss to fire him simply because She doesn't like him. Subverted in that Roger isn't really fired, his boss just wants to placate the wealthy and megalomaniacal client who's going to die soon anyway.


Live Action TV

  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Several times, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane and/or his deputies, Cletus Hogg and/or Enos Strate, have been fired by Boss Hogg.
    • Rosco's highest-profile firing was in "Robot P. Coltrane," when Rosco – who had been Hazzard County's top cop for 25 years – let the Duke boys slip from his grasp, but a robot – a ROBOT! – easily subdued the Dukes. It turned out that was the last straw in a series of his mistakes, as Boss enumerates every minor slip-up or goof his sheriff had made. Of course, Rosco is rehired by episode's end, as the robot shorts out.
    • Enos was let go at least twice, most famously in "Enos Strate to the Top," the pilot for Enos (his own hour-long police dramadey). His departure comes when he stands up to Boss and declares once and for all that he is through harassing the Duke family on his orders. In the 1984 episode "The Ransom of Hazzard County," Enos is given a de facto dismissal when Boss loses patience with his honesty (he is demoted to records clerk); however, Enos will play a key role in capturing his successor, who is conspiring with a pair of extortion artists to blow up Hazzard Dam if Boss doesn't pay him $1 million.
  • The Jeffersons: In the early years, Florence seemed to always be walking a tight rope with her boss, George. In the 1976 episode "Louise Gets Her Way," George actually follows through with his threat, tired of her sass and eavesdropping on his phone conversations. However, Florence saves her job when, while listening in on another phone conversation, she overhears a potential client of George's confer with his partner ... to close out a scam deal over damaged delivery vans!
  • Alice: Mel constantly threatened to fire his waitresses, especially Flo and Vera; to a far lesser extent, this was true for Alice, as he quickly gained respect (if not grudging) for her. When Mel did follow through with his threats, he always hired them back, since he realized that he needed them more than the vice versa, and without them his business (and life) would be nothing – and more than once, this was after Alice reminded Mel of this.
  • On The Burns and Allen Show, George Burns fired his announcer Harry Von Zell once about every other week for ether saying things behind his back or participating in one of Gracie's Zany Schemes.
  • On Three's Company, Mr. Angelino fired Jack numerous times. Even after Jack got his own restaurant, Mr. Angelino was his landlord and repeatedly threatened not to renew Jack's lease.
  • The British '70s sitcom The Good Life (or Good Neighbors as it was called in the U.S.) featured an episode in which Jerry Leadbetter's boss, known only as "Sir", asks him to play host to a visiting Dutch businessman on the same night when Jerry's wife Margot is to play in a local production of the The Sound of Music. Jerry for this reason declines the request and his boss sacks him. Jerry's friend Tom Good tries to convince Sir to hire Jerry back but learns only at the end that Sir had never intended the firing to be permanent but only meant to teach Jerry not to think of himself as irreplaceable.
  • Developed into a Running Gag in The Drew Carey Show, with the boss firing people for ridiculously petty reasons in an increasingly insane manner. Let's just say it's a very bad idea to work there if your last name is Johnson. The main character loses his job multiple times, yet always manages to get it back, though the timeframe can vary from within one episode to over two seasons.
  • In one of the Malibu Sands episodes on Saved by the Bell, Leon Carosi fires Zack Morris because he didn't vote for Carosi's daughter in the beauty pageant. However, he does hire him back after his daughter gets pissed at him and points out that he could sue him.
  • In the Thirty Rock episode "Rosemary's Baby", Jack fired Liz when she refused to fire a guest writer with edgy ideas. Also, Jack fired Pete for no apparent reason in the pilot, rehiring him at the end of the episode at Liz's insistence. Liz feared being fired when she confronted Jack about how he was taking over the writers' room in "Jack the Writer". In "The Fighting Irish", Liz fired her romantic rival and, when Pete and the accounting department objected, she responded by firing them all. Pete was obviously rehired again as was Liz's rival, who was then promoted to a branch office.
    • Jack does quite a lot of firing. Jonathan's gotten fired three times in the first three seasons. Kenneth got fired for about a minute in "Blind Date". Jack spent all episode firing people in "Cutbacks". And in a case of Fridge Logic, Jack fired Tracy from his community-service job as a Little League coach in "Cougars" and rehires him later in the episode.
  • In The IT Crowd, Reynholm fires everyone on an entire floor of the building for not working as a team.
    • And then calls HR to hire a new security team to escort out the other team in case they don't act as a team when escorting everyone from the floor out.
  • Darrin in Bewitched was fired and re-hired on a regular basis, normally one being the result of magical meddling.
  • House's employees live in perpetual terror of being fired, but barring the mass interview, the chances of anyone actually staying gone are slim to none.
    • In "Dying Changes Everything" the doormat Patient Of the Week casually mentions in the middle of the episode that she was replaced from her job as the personal assistant to a Straw Feminist activist despite having been gone for a few days at most and being committed to a hospital for a potentially life threatening illness. At the episode's end, the replacement quits and the patient is offered the same job with increased autonomy and she accepts, much to Thirteen's dissapointment who wanted her to take the opportunity to make a new life for herself. No one considers the more logical third option of the assistant suing the employer for wrongful termination and winning an enormous settlement.
  • The Apprentice: The entire show's premise is built on this trope. The winning Project Manager is probably safe for the time being, but there are no guarantees. In Season Four of the U.S. version, a team lost its challenge badly, then bickered relentlessly about who was to blame; Trump fired the entire team.
  • Justified in the beginning of 'The Office, when the company was downsizing and looking for people to layoff (redundancies in the UK version). Subverted when Michael fake fires Stanley to discipline him, which backfires as Stanley says he is filing a lawsuit. This leads Michael to admit that he was only pretending to fire him.
  • If the Conman of the Week gets away, Neal Caffrey will be sent back to prison. Even if the bad guy only got away because of his or her pesky Constitutional rights. And they wonder why they're getting investigated by OPR.
  • Subverted in Mad Men: Bert Cooper, who as part of his Japanophilia never wears shoes in the office, steps on some gum that got left on the office carpet and then fires the first secretary he sees chewing gum (as she says, "How could it be my gum? My gum's in my mouth!"). However, the other higher-ups tell her to just leave and come back tomorrow anyway, because Bert's not going to remember it or her face.
  • In La Femme Nikita termination resulted in being 'cancelled'; you were executed when your services were no longer required by Section One. Explained by the premise that all agents/assassins were only probationally salvaged from Death Row (note that Nikita was innocent of any crime in the TV series, unlike the movies).


Music

  • Buddy Rich was a notorious Jerkass to his band and routinely fired band members for incredibly trivial things like looking away while Rich was playing a solo. The same musicians would often be hired back later. An audio example with NSFW language.


Newspaper Comics

  • In the Blondie comic strip, Dagwood is incompetent and falls asleep on the job while his boss is physically and verbally abusive making this Older Than Television and probably the Ur Example.
  • Dilbert has regularly gotten fired or quit himself. He always ends up back at the company, usually in an even worse situation than before.

 Dilbert: Please don't make me work in sales again. I'll take a pay cut. No, I'll work for free! No, I'll pay you!

Pointy-Haired Boss (while Dilbert is cleaning his shoes): I should make all my engineers work in sales some time. You come back more appreciative.

Print Media

  • The fictional columnists in Private Eye. Most columns end with "You're fired, Ed, but they're always back next issue.
    • At least one column had the above note in the middle of the column, with the next paragraph having a note saying "This is dreadful. You're hired again".


Professional Wrestling

  • This is done in Professional Wrestling all the time, with the authority figure du jour putting characters he doesn't like in "You're Fired" matches, where, as the name implies, the loser is fired. In fairness, though, pro wrestlers are independent contractors, not salaried employees; the employment laws on them are much more lax, and there is no union for wrestlers.
    • The "You're Fired" (originally "Loser Leaves Town") match was most common in the pre-Sports Entertainment era, when wrestlers traveled from promotion to promotion more often, and would be the culmination of a heated feud. The stipulation would also be used when a more prominent wrestler wanted time off and/or to heal from legitimate injuries, with some explanation given when the "fired" wrestler returns. And then, there was the "masked stranger" that would show up to cause trouble for his (almost always, heel) foe, with the masked wrestler acting on the "departed" wrestler's behalf; invariably at some point, the masked wrestler would be exposed and the feud would turn up another notch.
    • Which in fact makes this trope Truth in Television for pro. wrestling. Employees have lost jobs with the WWE for posting blogs about being cheated on by their girlfriends, being associated with the competition in any vague way (friends of Hulk Hogan generally get their walking papers when he and Vince McMahon are having one of their semi-regular Real Life feuds) or having "heat" backstage with a member of management.
      • Or for looking at the boss funny, for being too fat, being too skinny, too short (but never too tall for Vince McMahon!), screwing up a match's scripted finish just once, getting into altercations with wrestlers backstage that are favored by the management.
  • In Kayfabe, Jim Ross seems to be fired whenever they need to give a heel 'boss' character some cheap heat.
    • Double points if the firing takes place in his home state of Oklahoma.


Real Life

  • New York Yankees manager Billy Martin, whom owner George Steinbrenner fired in 1978. And 1979. And 1983, 1985, and 1988. At the time of his death in 1989, he was preparing to pick up the managing reins again for the 1990 season.
    • Technically, Martin resigned in 1978 rather than being fired, but this is probably splitting hairs.
      • Years later it came to light that despite his many firings Martin was never once taken off the Yankees payroll.
    • It was even Lampshaded at one point during a press conference announcing his return:

 Steinbrenner: You're Fired!

Martin: You haven't even finished hiring me yet.

  • Very much truth in television before unions were invented. Not that it was the only problem with employment back then.
  • The USA has a few reasons why someone can't be fired; a specified employment contract, race, religion, gender, disability (as long as it doesn't interfere with your job), and a few others. Except for those, you can be fired for any reason. Boss doesn't like your haircut? You can be fired. 12.3 percent of wage and salary workers are members of a union, which usually gives them greater rights.
    • If you're unskilled and working in a country illegally, then you'll have to be pretty lucky to stay hired long enough for this trope to even come into play. And if you do find salaried work, you probably can't afford to attract attention by protesting if you're fired without cause.
    • In order to avoid paying severance and all that, they invented "constructive discharge." You don't get fired, they just make working conditions less and less humane (by piling on more work, making unreasonable rules and restrictions, what have you) until finally it gets to the point where your options are to quit, or murder all your coworkers. While this does mean you essentially have Ultimate Job Security as long as your patience holds out, your time would almost certainly be better spent looking for a better job than holding out at a job where you're required to write all your reports by dipping a live squirrel in ink and smearing it across the paper.
  • Chuck Jones was almost fired from the Warner Bros. animation unit because his Looney Tunes cartoon "The Dover Boys at Pimento University," his first attempt at a more stylized animation form, was considered too weird by the WB suits. The company wasn't able to find a replacement for Jones, so they kept him on the payroll.
  • American Apparel randomly requires its employees to submit full-body photographs to its HR departments. Anybody who isn't pretty enough is labeled "off-brand" and released from the company. Why were they hired in the first place? Female employees can be (and have been) fired when they refuse owner Dov Charney's sexual advances.
  • Ralph Bakshi is known within the animation industry for this, especially on the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures show. John Kricfalusi in particular has stated that he lost count on how many times Ralph fired him from the show.
  • Any freelancer can attest this is Truth in Television.
  • If former employees are to be believed, working at Apple under Steve Jobs was like this.


Theater

  • In the musical Anything Goes, Billy Crocker gets fired by his boss, Elijah Whitney, only to remind him about an amalgamation deal he apparently forgot the paperwork for, which leads to Billy getting hired again. Billy also lampshades this trope by telling Reno Sweeney that "[his boss] hires and fires me every eight minutes."


Webcomics

  • Death of Insanely Overpowered Fireballs (originally) in Irregular Webcomic is constantly demoted, re-promoted, fired and rehired by Head Death. Other Deaths also suffer from this from time to time.
  • Mostly subverted in Quitting Time. Nate is constantly getting fired, but once he's employed again, it's (almost) always at a different place.
  • Inverted in Narbonic, where Dave talks about quitting/ threatens to quit/ quits Narbonic Labs about twice a story arc, but just can't seem to leave.
  • Dr. Chester in A Loonatics Tale. In spite of being so apathetic as to medicate any and every patient regardless of what their actual problem is, the sanitarium directors keep him around because from a pure skill standpoint he's the best psychiatrist on staff (excluding themselves), and they're hoping he'll get his head out of his ass and put it to good use. Since he never does, they occasionally hand him a case with the stipulation that his continued employment hinges upon its success.


Web Original

  • Parodied in the Bastard Operator From Hell stories when Simon is fired by his boss, only to be rehired by the company's HR department for the same job with higher pay only 5 minutes later. Later on it become a Running Gag that he'd get his boss fired instead, going through a series of them over the past few years.
  • Recurring Butt Monkey characters Chingo and Alt-Luakel from AH Dot Com the Series are subject to this - whenever they appear, they're fired from their normal Burger Fool job at the start of the episode and then re-hired at the end.


Western Animation

  • George Jetson is, of course, the Trope Namer. However, Mr. Spacely promoted him to vice president nearly as often as he fired him. One episode ended with George saying, "Does anyone need an unemployed vice president?"
    • One episode had George threatened with firing if he didn't vote for Mr. Spacely's poodle in a dog show that Astro was also competing in.
    • Interestingly, another episode had Spacely sign a contract George wrote up that prevented him from being fired for life. So Spacely made him his shoe-shine boy.
  • Fred Flintstone from The Flintstones was fired by Mr. Slate just as frequently, not surprising since the two shows (The Flintstones and The Jetsons) were Recycled cousins of each other.
  • On one episode of King of the Hill, Peggy loses her job as a real estate agent.

 Peggy Hill: (After listing all the jobs she's lost) Bobby, look on the internet and find out who holds the record for most jobs lost.

Bobby Hill: I think that'd be George Jetson.

    • Occurred in another episode when Dale gets a desk job at an adhesives company. His supervisor places Dale in charge of firing employees whom she hates. Dale then develops the habit of firing employees for no reason but see them cry.
  • In The Simpsons, Homer doesn't lose his job as frequently, but it's happened enough to notice, and Mr. Burns has as lax a set of criteria for firing employees as his predecessors. This has been lampshaded in recent seasons with Homer casually mentioning that he can participate in the Zany Scheme because he has been fired again.

 Bart: Do you even have a job anymore?

Homer: I think it's pretty obvious that I don't!

    • Also lampshaded by a related gag where Mr. Burns never remembers Homer's name, for better or worse.
    • Lampshaded again, when a family member comes up with some wacky caper or other and Homer says "That's a great idea! And it's perfect timing, because I just got fired!"
    • This example might be more of a subversion, actually, since the only times Burns actually seems to sack Homer are when he's done thing that really are examples of gross incompetence and stupidity. Burns never fired Homer for suing him after he hit Bart with a car, or for standing up to Burns when he sexually harassed Marge, or even for thwarting Burns' campaign for governor. Another way it's a subversion is that Homer seems to be able to get his job back despite his incredible incompetence and gross stupidity.
      • Does this include the Pink Shirt Incident?
      • And then there's the Rally to the top of the mountain. Last team in is fired.
        • At the end of the Rally, Burns pretty much says that he never intended to fire anybody, it was just to motivate them. So it doesn't really count.
        • Although it DOES appear that the (lack of) job security applies to everyone:

 Carl: Hey Mr. Burns, can I have a raise?

Mr. Burns: (cheerfully) Clear out your desk, you're gone!

          • And then there was what happened to Lenny:

 Mr. Burns: Alright, let's make this sporting, Leonard. If you can tell me why I shouldn't fire you without using the letter "E", you can keep your job!"

Lenny: Uh...okay...I'm a good...work...guy...

Mr. Burns: You're fired.

Lenny: But I didn't say-

Mr. Burns: You will. (opens the trapdoor Lenny is standing on)

Lenny: EEEEEEEE!

        • Also lampshaded in the comic once, after being fired again, Homer brushes it off saying "If I didn't get fired now and then, I'd never spend any time with the kids."
    • After his divorce, Kirk Van Houten was actually fired from the cracker company for being single. Though since Kirk apparently got the job from Luann's father he may have only have gotten to stay there as a favor, or possibly the firing was to get back him for the divorce.
      • "I don't recall saying 'good luck'."
      • It's actually illegal in the US to discriminate, employment-wise, based on someone's martial status. (This law came about at the same time sex-based discrimination became illegal, and was aimed at stopping employers from not hiring married women, but applies to either gender, in either direction.)
  • This happened to Inch High Private Eye in every episode of his series, except "The World's Greatest Animals". Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law hangs a lampshade on it in an episode where Inch does sue his employer after his latest firing, since he was essentially fired for being short.
    • On the other hand, Inch's employer is well within his rights to fire Inch for being shitty at his job (which he is, but Inch is able to make his claim because he's shitty in a way that's very height-flavored). Compare a pizza delivery boy filing for wrongful termination after causing his sixteenth on-the-job twelve-car-pileup.
    • In fact, this is often the way Phil Ken Sebben enters the room, clearly intending to fire Birdman and being interrupted by something.

 Phil Ken Sebben: Aaaaaaaand you're fi- wait a minute...

  • The British children's series Alias the Jester made a Once an Episode Running Gag of this, with every episode ending the same way: "Jester?" "Yes, your majesty?" "You're fired." "Yes, your majesty." (The only exception is the first episode, in which it's "You're hired.") Of course, he always has his job again at the beginning of the next episode.
  • Kappa Mikey has Ozu threaten to fire the entire cast and/or cancel the show on a regular basis, often for ridiculous reasons, or because of something one of them (usually Mikey) did. To be fair, some of the things these people haven't been fired for also boggles the mind.

 Ozu: "Okay, you're all hired again, but only until I remember why I fired you in the first place."

  • Subverted in Family Guy. When Peter lost his job at the toy factory due to his boss dying and the factory closing, he was unemployed and seen doing various odd jobs for nearly an entire season before he got a new job at the brewery.
  • Mission Hill also intended to go against this trope, by having Andy change jobs every eight episodes. Unfortunately, the series only lasted long enough for him to change jobs once.
  • Jonesy Garcia from the cartoon 6teen attains and is fired from a new job every episode. For some reason, none of the stores at the mall seem to think a teenager with a four page long resume is a little suspicious.
    • He even lampshades that as a good thing for getting future jobs.
      • Maybe they think he's special and feel sorry for him, because word's gotten around.
  • Stan Smith of American Dad has been suspended or lost his job in some way a number of times, yet at the beginning of the next episode, he's always right back at work.
  • An episode of Inspector Gadget had Gadget's boss fired and replaced by a crime computer.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Lucius fired Heloise for an incredibly trival reason (and, in the same episode, hired Jimmy so he could fire him). Justified, since he runs Miseryville and is The Caligula.
  • Benson threatens to fire Mordecai and Rigby from Regular Show so often, it's pretty much become his catchphrase.
  • There was a character in Rocko's Modern Life who had a boss who exaggerated this trope to ridiculous extremes. Every time the boss spoke, he would say "You're fired", and then correct himself. ("You're fired! ...I mean, good evening." "You're fired! ...I mean, pass the salt.")
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