Here’s a look at 10 accounting characters in some of your favorite movies and shows.
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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?) dedicated solely to accountants. However, there are lots of accountant characters found in popular movies and TV shows. Here’s a look at 10 characters who were accountants in some of your favorite movies and shows.
⚠️ Warning: Mild spoilers for TV shows and movies ahead⚠️
Parks and Recreation, the mockumentary style sitcom that ran from 2009-2015 apparently loves accountants, because you’ll see two more from the same show on this list. First up 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 actor Adam Scott, is an accountant working for the state government when he is first introduced to the show. Him 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:
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: 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 is always offering 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:
NBC’s classic show 30 Rock, which ran from 2006-2013 and starred Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, reveals what goes on behind the scenes of making a comedy show. It seems like the last TV show that would feature an accountant. But, it turns out, accounting plays a crucial role in a season one plot line! It all starts when Liz Lemon is tasked with firing 10% of her staff and soon learns that her office crush has a girlfriend of a similar name, Liz Lemler, who works in accounting on Lemon's show. Actress Anna Chlumsky plays Liz Lemler. Well, that’s when Lemon decides to take things into her own hands. She fires the other Liz in a fit of rage after learning Lemler has plans to stay with the boyfriend long term. When Lemler’s fellow accounting colleagues approach Liz Lemon to protest their coworker's removal, she fires the entire accounting department. Not too long after the incident, Lemon’s boss Jack Donaghy (played by Alec Baldwin) saves the day.
“Lemon, the purpose of these cuts is to make us more efficient so we can make more money. And the people who tell me if I’m making more money are called accountants,” Donaghy says.
To save the day, Donaghy hires back his accounting department and sends the other accountant Liz off to a different state as part of a big promotion — a win-win for both Liz's.
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!
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 classic character on the show. Anytime he walks into the bar the bar tenders greet him 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 quote from Norm:
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?” Louis later becomes a tax attorney and ends up working for the Ghostbusters and winning a case for the team.
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.”
It's always fun to see your job on the big or little screen — which portrayal of accountants is most accurate? Is there anyone we left off the list? Tell us what you think of these accountant characters the comments below!
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