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"Have you ever seen anyone work so hard at being so lazy?"
Jon Arbuckle, Garfield strip 02/24/1991

Alice has just been asked by her mother to refill the dog's food and water bowls. She doesn't really want to do it; after all, that sort of chore would take time and effort that could be better spent lounging on the sofa and playing Sonic Generations.

But Alice is an inventive little devil, so she spends an hour or so putting together a Rube Goldberg Device involving an air pump, a length of drainpipe, and a plastic flamingo that will automatically fill both bowls when she steps on a foot pedal. After doing just that, she then returns to her lounging, satisfied that she accomplished her task the easy way.

But hang on. Just getting up and filling the bowls by hand would've taken less than fifteen minutes and a lot less effort. When you put it in perspective she hardly did it the "easy" way.

You see a lot of this in fiction (and sometimes outside of it). In pursuit of a lazier way to do a task, a character will wind up spending magnitudes more time and effort developing and executing that lazier way than it would have taken to do it the normal way.

Related to Short Cuts Make Long Delays.

Examples of Laborious Laziness include:


  • Victor Tugelbend in Moving Pictures is the master of this trope. Thanks to a trust fund from a relative supporting him while he's in school, he much prefers the life of a Wizarding School student vs an actual wizard, Victor studies extensively to keep his grade just low enough to not pass, but high enough that he doesn't lose his trust fund to failing grades. He also exercises regularly because being thin means less weight to drag around, and physical activity is less effort if you're in good shape. It's a kind of enlightened laziness.

Live-Action TV

  • Married... with Children: Al Bundy even tried to walk over to the TV but eventually grew tired of it and agreed to have sex with Peggy for the remote.

Newspaper Comics

  • As noted in the page quote, Garfield is prone to this sort of thing. In the comic quoted, the lazy cat nails the TV to the ceiling above his cat bed so he can watch it without getting up. Think about how much effort it would've taken to hoist that television up there and then keep it in place while he nailed it there, and then think about how much effort it would've taken simply to get up and walk over to where the TV was.
    • In another occasion, Garfield, Jon and Liz were watching TV together when the remote control stopped working. Jon and Garfield went to a shop to buy new batteries. When they came back, Liz pointed out the set was five feet away. Garfield commented "Girls".
  • In Dilbert Wally has been shown to be very active in his efforts to not do any work. To be fair, he's largely successful.

 Wally: I'm not lazy, I'm useless. There's a difference.

  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • In one series, Calvin built a time machine to travel two hours into the future and get a copy of his homework from himself after it was already finished. Predictably, it doesn't work.

 6:30 Calvin: Well, since we're you from the past, I suppose you know why we're here. Did you do the homework?

8:30 Calvin: Me?? No.

6:30 Calvin: No?! Why not??

8:30 Calvin: Because two hours ago, I went to the future to get it.

6:30 Calvin: Yeah, and here I am! So where is it?!

8:30 Calvin: That's what I said two hours ago!

    • In another series, Calvin didn't want to make his bed, so he and Hobbes spent all afternoon trying to build a robot to do it for him. They couldn't get the robot to work, but since they spent so long on it, the bed never got made. Mission accomplished!

Video Games

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons: Bart and Lisa have been tasked to clean the back yard but they're too lazy to do so.

 Bart: Man, look at all this stuff... pull weeds, mow lawn, scoop and bag dog business. There's gotta be a way out of this. Lisa! Chop off my hands!

Lisa: No! Then who'd chop off my hands?

Bart: All right, you chop my hands halfway off, and then, I'll still have enough strength to chop-

Marge: Get to work!

  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Richard is a master of this. Just watch this episode (the second one on the page).
  • Teen Titans: Cyborg took Raven's suggestion of walking over to the TV for a tasteless joke.
  • Dexter's Laboratory: Dexter's father finds the idea of walking over to the TV so horrible he doesn't have the courage to tell Dexter people used to do it before the remote control was invented.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Candace would rather watch something boring than change channels without the remote control. And she would walk a similar distance to get popcorn. Then again, she doesn't play the trope straight as all she did about the remote control was waiting while her mother went to a shop to buy new batteries.

Real Life

  • Who hasn't torn their room apart looking for a missing TV remote control when they could just walk over to the TV and change the channel that way?
    • This is void of course, for some "too modern" TVs that require the remote to operate on them.
    • Sometimes, the problem isn't the TV. It's the device installed by cable companies to prevent their clientele from illegally sharing the channels without permission.
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