Have you ever wondered how the rest of the world views your job? Entertainment can sometimes give us a peek through that window. Usually, when we want to plug into TV or movies, it’s to escape our daily lives. But, sometimes, it can be fun to watch shows about our lives, especially our work lives! There’s shows about doctors, lawyers, IT teams, journalists, government officials and a myriad of other professions. There’s not really many shows (if any?) all about accountants. However, it turns out there are quite a few accountant characters found in popular movies and TV shows. There's so many in fact, that Canopy's creative team decided to turn these characters into a deck of accounting pop culture playing cards! Here’s a look at a few of our favorite accounting characters in pop culture.
⚠️ Warning: Mild spoilers for TV shows and movies ahead ⚠️
Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation, the mockumentary style sitcom that ran from 2009-2015 apparently loves accountants. If you watch the show, you'll notice several running jokes all about accounting. First up on our list is Ben Wyatt, the loveable nerd who eventually ends up marrying the show’s main character Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler.) Ben, who is played by Adam Scott, is an accountant working for the state government when he is first introduced to the show. He and his boss Chris Traeger (played by Rob Lowe) are sent to Pawnee, Indiana to audit the city’s finances and deal with their disastrous budget issues. Chris is known for his upbeat attitude and positive outlook on life and Ben is known for his accounting jokes.
Here’s some of our favorite Ben Wyatt accounting jokes:
- “He’s a lawyer, I’m an accountant. We speak the same language. I mean obviously accountants are a little more bad boy, but there’s a respect here.” 😂
- “They call me the Swiss Army accountant.”
- “Hopefully it won’t be too taxing.”
- “Don’t worry, you can account on us!”
- “Sorry, I guess I’m just on a payroll.”
- “Just call me Bond. Municipal bond.”
Ben Wyatt made the cut for Canopy's accounting playing cards as the Jack of Hearts. Check it out here:
Briefly on the show, Ben works for an accounting firm in the city. While it is short-lived, it turns into a running gag with one of the firm’s top accountants always begging Ben to come back. Which brings us to the next accountant on our list…
Barney Varmn from Parks and Recreation
Barney Varmn: lover of numbers and puns! Barney the accountant, who is played by actor John Balma, first hires Ben Wyatt to work as an accountant at his accounting firm and loves all of Ben’s accounting jokes. He basically ends up worshipping Ben and constantly offers him a job. Barney laughs so hard at Ben’s jokes, it’s hard not to smile too!
Here’s a few of Barney’s best accounting quotes:
- “When it comes to preparing taxes, the only thing that’s tax-ing is deciding which software to buy. And that concludes a quick look at QuickBook…s Pro.” 😂
- “We do not get a lot of humor here and when we do it’s wonderful!”
Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption
Andy Dufresne, the iconic character who was sentenced to prison for a murder he didn't commit made the most of his time in prison. He made friends, built a library, educated his fellow prisoners and eventually took over the taxes and finances for the prison. It started when Andy began doing the prison guards' taxes and it grew from there. After serving 19 years of his two consecutive life sentences, the quiet, mild-mannered accountant shocked everyone when he escaped the prison using a rock hammer.
Christian Wolff in The Accountant (2016)
In this film, Ben Affleck plays Christian Wolff, who is a neurodivergent math genius and accountant. However, who he does accounting for is a little unique. He uses a CPA firm as a cover for his real career: freelance accounting for criminal organizations. With clients like his, things start to get interesting quickly. To avoid being caught by a treasury agent, Christian takes on a legit client. However, he discovers a discrepancy in the finances and as he gets closer to solving the issue, more people start to die. Who would have thought a movie about an accountant could be so thrilling, dangerous and exciting!
Skyler White from Breaking Bad
Bookkeeper turned money-laundering accomplice to her drug kingpin husband Walter White, Skyler White is an iconic accountant. Once she finds out about her husband's dark career, she uses her accounting skills to help the family launder finances through a car wash the couple purchases.
She is the Queen of Diamonds in Canopy's playing card deck.
Norm from Cheers
Norm Peterson, played by George Wendt, is one of the bar’s best customers in the hit TV series Cheers. Famous for his hilarious one-liners and hatred of his job, Norm is a staple of the show. Anytime he walks into the bar, everyone greets him by shouting “Norm!” In season one, the character is an accountant but gets fired after standing up for Diane when his boss tries to take advantage of her on a date. He later ends up being a house painter in the series.
Here's a funny accounting-themed quote from Norm:
- When Sam asks how Norm is doing he replies: “Not so good. Missed a digit in the debit column today. Boss is now using my butt for an ashtray.”
Norm is the King of Spades in Canopy's deck of cards.
Louis Tully in Ghostbusters
Played by Rick Moranis, Louis Tully is an iconic character in the Ghostbusters universe. He lived down the hall from the Ghostbusters’ first customer, Dana Barrett who was played by Sigourney Weaver. Louis is hosting a party to celebrate is fourth anniversary as an accountant when he instead becomes possessed by an ancient entity known as “The Keymaster.” After getting rescued by the Ghostbusters, Louis asks them “Who does your taxes?” and he later becomes a tax attorney. and ends up working for the Ghostbusters and winning a case for the team.
Louis is the King of Spades in Canopy's card deck.
Angela, Kevin and Oscar from The Office (U.S.)
Arguably the most famous accountants in popular culture come from NBC’s “The Office.” Angela Martin, Oscar Martinez and Kevin Malone are Dunder Mifflin’s accounting team and by the end of the show play major supporting roles to the main cast. The trio are portrayed by actress Angela Kinsey, actor Oscar Nunez and actor Kevin Baumgartner. Kevin’s character in the show is famous for being a bit bad at math, even though he is an accountant.
At one point, he even invents a new number to balance the books, something he calls a “Keleven.”
Oscar and Angela are actually good at their jobs, but their personal lives become the subject of many plot lines in the series. When their boss Michael Scott (played by Steve Carrel) finds himself in financial ruin, he mistakenly thinks he can simply shout he is bankrupt, to “declare” it. Thankfully, Oscar sets him straight by telling him, “You can’t just say the work bankruptcy and expect anything to happen.” Michael responds, “I didn’t say it. I declared it.”
As the Queen of accounting, Angela Martin is the Queen of Spades in Canopy's deck of cards.
Bob Cratchit from A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic “A Christmas Carol,” follows a greedy businessman, Ebenezer Scrooge, who notoriously makes his accounting clerk Bob Cratchit work late for very little pay. Throughout the film, Scrooge is forced to confront his selfish behavior and ends up changing for the better. As accountants, this story might hit a little close to home.
Bob Cratchit is the Jack of Diamonds in Canopy's deck.
It's always fun to see your job on the big or little screen—which portrayal of accountants is most accurate? Tell us what you think of these accountant characters the comments below!