Of the many expectations we have for adulthood, few are as immediate and prominent as being employable. It’s hard to be considered an adult if you struggle to provide for yourself.
This makes it all the more ironic that some of our favorite TV show characters struggle with keeping a job. Aren’t we supposed to gravitate to those that represent the best of us? Then again, perhaps we’re most attracted to characters whose failures and mistakes make them stronger and wiser. Most of us want to be like that.
Here are the 9 most underemployed TV characters we love to root for:
Luke Cage – Marvel’s Luke Cage
The superhero once known as Power Man is an interesting character study. After he acquires super strength and near invulnerability during his unearned time in prison, Luke Cage seemingly becomes less employable. Just having to check the “felony” box on applications would hinder most people from attaining employment, but when you could match the productivity of 10 factory workers, you have a big advantage over the field. However, Cage spends most of his time completing odd jobs he’s overqualified for — except for beating up thugs.
Glenn Rhee – The Walking Dead
Before the outbreak, Glenn worked as a pizza delivery boy. Fortunately, Zed’s roaming the Earth was the proverbial kick in the pants he needed. He emerges as one of the few characters on the show to successfully rescue protagonist Rick Grimes. Glenn then becomes the main supply runner for the original Atlanta camp group. Even though he becomes a fan favorite for his versatility and morality, Rick fails to promote him to a level of autonomy similar to that of Mishonne, Daryl, or even Morgan.
Ernest Marks – Atlanta
Things aren’t easy for any college grad these days, but Atlanta’s Ernest “Earn” Marks has a particularly rough go of things. Following graduation from Ivy League Princeton, Earn returns to his home of Atlanta, has a kid with his “sometimes” girlfriend, burns all financial bridges with his parents, volunteers to manage his rapping kin, and lives in a storage unit. Despite his struggles, it’s hard to feel sorry for him since Earn just seems to “Kanye shrug” at all these situations.
Caroline – 2 Broke Girls
Caroline, unlike her roommate Max, grew up amongst luxury, sophistication, and wealth. Surely she would have held a position in her father’s company had he not lost it due to a Ponzi scheme. A Wharton Business school grad, Caroline has the positive temperament and business savvy to excel in the corporate environment. Unfortunately, she spends most of her day working with her roomie at a mediocre diner.
Walter White – Breaking Bad
Is Walter White an underemployed educator or an overqualified meth dealer? Before Breaking Bad, he spent most of his life in academia, so we’ll go with the former. Not only does he have to raise a family on a high school science teacher’s salary, but he also learns that he has a terminal form of cancer.
In an effort to keep his family financially stable after he dies, Walter decides to manufacture and deal crystal methamphetamine so he can make large amounts of quick cash. He solves his lack of experience in the field using his natural wit and scientific expertise. Any company in the country would have loved an employee with the innovation and ingenuity of the now deceased Mr. White, or Heisenberg, if you will.
Hannah Horvath – Girls
Hannah is the daughter of two university professors, and graduated college with an English degree. Two years after graduating, she works as an (unpaid) intern for a publishing company, and her parents are sick of providing for her financially. When Hannah asks her boss for gainful employment, she gets fired on the spot. It seems pretty backwards to fire a two-year intern that had the initiative to search for a way to stay with the company.
Vasiliy Fett – The Strain
Prior to the east coast becoming a Vampire breeding zone, Vasiliy Fett worked for the New York City Bureau of Pest Control. Though his parents have issues with him hunting vermin for a living, it’s because of his lowly job that Fett learns the truth regarding the impending vampire invasion. Despite lacking the education of some of the characters on this list, Fett proves to be a morally strong warrior with tracking experience and battle strategy acumen. If vamps tried to take over our world, those like Fett will rise to positions of leadership quicker than academics.
Edward Nygma – Gotham
Often times, even Batman underestimated Edward Nygma aka the Riddler. More times than not, he makes those pay that fail to realize his intellect — even Bats. He spends a lot of his dialog speaking in riddles, but that’s mostly so people can think for themselves, instead of relying on his computation prowess. Even though he has held positions with the GCPD and in Mayor Cobblepot’s regime, he is never hailed as a frontman or a mastermind. He is perhaps the smartest person in Gotham, but seems trapped working under people he feels aren’t his equal.
Rufus Carlin – Timeless
It amazes me how a man as smart as Rufus isn’t considered the Timeless universe’s Bill Gates. He’s a member of the team responsible for introducing time travel to his world (it hasn’t been discovered on this Earth), and is one of the few people with the knowledge to pilot time-traveling machines. Once you get past his cognitive brilliance, Rufus is a man that struggles with confidence, working with others, and taking initiative. His deficiencies even hold him back when it comes to romance.