All Work vs. All Play

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"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy."
—Irish novelist, Maria Edgeworth


Alice is all work, all the time and never has time to have fun, fun is not productive. Meanwhile, Bob only cares about having fun all the times and claims to be allergic to work. If only there was some sort of golden mean...

Usually, a scenario to give An Aesop about balance between responsibility and leisure, this has been seen incarnated in different ways through media but at times is just the essential characteristic between two characters. Compare All Take and No Give.

Examples of All Work vs. All Play include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Agon and Unsui of Eyeshield 21. Though this seems to stem from what they were born with. Agon's incredibly talented and a quicker learner so he's never needed to work. Unsui is an average guy with an inferiority complex.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, Germany (all work) vs. Italy (all play).
  • List and Alice Kiriki in Ookami-san. Due to the series' fairy tale theme, they're based on the Ur Example below (List being the Grasshopper, and Alice being the Ant).

Film - Animated[edit | hide]

Film - Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • Cameron Diaz is the All-Play character to Toni Collette in In Her Shoes.
  • Metropolis is kind of like this, except that most of the population lives in constant toil and misery in order to facilitate the lazy decadent lifestyle of the privileged few. The moral of the story is that a compromise between the extremes needs to be found, but it's more about reforming the straw capitalist state than about the virtue of moderation.
  • When Harry Met Sally....

Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Ur Example is in one of the Aesop's Fables, the Ant and the Grasshopper, of course.
  • Norton Juster's children's book The Dot And The Line, famously adapted into an animated short directed by Chuck Jones.
  • The French children's book Fattypuffs and Thinifers where two countries go to war: the Fattypuffs, who are fat and only care about pleasure and relaxation, and the Thinifer, who are a bunch of thin bitter workaholics.
  • The elvish society in the Hollow Kingdom Trilogy is based around beauty and leisure with no hard work. The goblins in the story disapprove of their lifestyle and are hard working.
  • H. G. Wells The Time Machine has the Morlocks (All Work) and the Eloi (All Play), and is actually an Aesop of the "If This Goes On" variety about the class differences of Victorian England.
  • The conflict between an active life and a life devoted to abstract intellectual pursuits is one of the central themes of The Glass Bead Game.

Live Action Television[edit | hide]

  • Liz Lemmon on 30 Rock is all work while everyone else (especially the writers, who want to avoid actual work as much as possible) is all play.
  • Drake and Josh.
  • Fraggle Rock: Fraggles are All Play and Doozers are All Work.
  • Joey Triviani on Friends pursues an acting career while Chandler Bing takes a steady job and holds down rent.
  • Full House: Danny is All Work, Jesse and Joey are All Play.
  • On Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina's Aunt Zelda tends to be All Work, while Aunt Hilda tends to be All Play. There is an episode where the two magically switch personalities....
  • Moonlighting: Maddie is all work; David is all play...
  • My Two Dads.
  • Charlie Sheen has embodied the all play character against two all-work characters in two different TV shows. In Spin City, he was the foil to Heather Locklear and in Two and A Half Men, he's the foil to his brother
  • In Wings, Joe is All Work and Brian is All Play.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Averted in Highlights' Goofus and Gallant where you are meant to always root for Gallant, the All Work.

Religion And Mythology[edit | hide]

  • In The Bible, Jesus comes down pretty firmly on the side of All Play in the story of Mary and Martha.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Red vs. Blue: The red team has Simmons (All Work) and Grif (All Play). It's played for laughs.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Arthur: Arthur tends to be the All Work, while Buster is usually the All Play. Same with Francine (All Work) and Muffy (All Play) as well as Brain (All Work) and Binky (All Play), if those characters are paired together.
  • Played with in Dexter's Laboratory with Dexter and DeeDee (respectively All Work and All Play), where there would be episodes where Dexter would be more relaxed like DeeDee or DeeDee more work-minded like Dexter only to turn back at the end. Status Quo Is God or an aesop of being yourself?
  • Three Little Pigs: The first two pigs are All Play, while the third is All Work.
  • In The Simpsons, Marge and Lisa are All Work while Homer and Bart are All Play. This gets lampshaded a couple of times.
  • There are two sets of characters in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic that fit this dynamic.
    • Applejack is a solid and reliable hard worker, who will faithfully help her friends even at the risk of overextending herself. Rainbow Dash is Brilliant but Lazy and would rather nap and save her work for the last moment. Some episodes display a Friendly Rivalry between the two.
    • Twilight Sparkle is the studious pupil of Princess Celestia herself, who can always be found studying or using her powers of Super OCD to organize an event. Pinkie Pie is a Cloudcuckoolander who doesn't always pay close attention to whatever's going on and whose answer to almost any problem is to throw a party at it.