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Working nine to five, what a way to make a living...

A modern office employee. The name derives from workplace dress codes in the mid-20th Century; factory laborers typically wore blue work shirts, jumpsuits, or other uniforms, while managers and technical or professional staff wore white business shirts and ties.

As office machinery such as the typewriter, adding machine, mimeograph etc. became available starting in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, clerical workers began shifting their skill sets from the Clerk to the modern White Collar Worker. In particular, many women joined the workforce, though they tended to be stuck in the lower-ranked and lower-paying office jobs. (Though opportunities for advancement have improved greatly, social pressures have not. As such, low-level clerical staff are still overwhelmingly female, as are certain functions such as Human Resources and Marketing, leading to the term "pink-collar" jobs.)

The White Collar Worker is a staple of the Work Com, but can be found in any work of fiction that requires office scenes. Subtypes of the White Collar Worker include Workaholic and Sassy Secretary.

The natural habitat of the White Collar Worker is the office cubicle. Their natural enemies include bosses of all kinds except "benevolent" and their more obnoxious co-workers. As for their work...well, white collar jobs are kind of boring to look at most of the time, and one set of paperwork looks much like another. So the details of the work are usually not examined closely. Indeed, often the exact position or job description of the characters will deliberately be left vague. This gives greater plot flexibility, especially when the Pointy-Haired Boss decides to give the hero some wacky project that would seem to have little to do with the job, normally.

Compare their Japanese counterparts, the Salaryman and Office Lady.

Examples of White Collar Worker include:


  • Most of the cast of The Office, both British and American versions. Unlike some of the other examples here, we do know Wernham-Hogg/Dunder Mifflin's business: they sell paper.
    • However, that fact is, at the end of the day, more or less irrelevant to the story, as evidenced by the fact that the German equivalent, Stromberg, is set at an insurance firm, with essentially no change to the dynamics or humor of the show (except being much more German).
  • Most of the cast of Nine to Five. The heroines are stuck in "pink-collar" positions.
  • For the first seven years of Friends, Chandler Bing worked an unstated office job at an unknown company. Even Rachel and Monica don't know what he does. Whatever it was, he was important enough to have his own office.
    • He started (in the first season) in a cubicle processing data related to resource utilization, and was soon promoted to a supervisory position in the same company and department.
  • Drew Carey and his co-workers on his show.
  • Ditto Dilbert. He's also a software engineer.
  • Office Space; the characters are mostly computer programmers.
  • The narrator in Fight Club, though he actually goes into detail about his job and is seen doing it.
  • George Jetson.
  • That 70s Show had an episode in which Kelso's father attempts to explain precisely what his job entails. It becomes depressingly evident that even he isn't sure anymore.
  • The cast of the Fred Savage show Working, which not only left the workers' positions and duties vague, but never explained what, if anything, the company did.
  • Mr. Incredible becomes one of these after the Super Registration Act. He hates it there.
  • Wesley Gibbs of Wanted starts out this way. Then the call found him...
  • The father of the family in Weesh; another one who's lost track of what precisely it is he does.
  • Better Off Ted has Veridian Dynamics, which appears to do or own another company that does almost anything. Most of the characters in the show work in the research and development department though.
  • Edward Borman in The Mercury Men.
  • Vernon Dursley in Harry Potter. His company makes drills.
    • Vernon's position appears to be that of Pointy-Haired Boss, rather than an office drone.
  • Italian Black Comedy movie series Fantozzi has the titular Butt Monkey-slash-Chew Toy protagonist, Ugo Fantozzi, showing very clearly to be one, to the point the movie series is mostly known in English languages as White Collar Blues.
  • Similarly, in the Italian Black Comedy Work Com Camera Cafe, many characters are borderline workaholics, with Silvano being the most obvious example.
  • The music video to "Voices" by Disturbed is based around somebody in such a position ready to snap, partially because of the voices telling him to.
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