All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy is a proverb. It means that without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring.
Though the spirit of the proverb had been expressed previously, the modern saying appeared first in James Howell's Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish (1659), and was included in later collections of proverbs. It also appears in Howell's Paroimiographia (1659), p. 12.
Some writers have added a second part to the proverb, as in Harry and Lucy Concluded (1825) by the Irish novelist Maria Edgeworth:
|“||All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,
All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.
Uses in popular media
While the proverb is used in several examples of popular media, from James Joyce's short story "Araby" to Jack Kerouac's Big Sur to the 1957 movie The Bridge on the River Kwai, probably the most famous example appears in the 1980 horror movie The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, in which the main character, Jack (played by Jack Nicholson), is found to have abandoned his latest novel in favour of typing this sentence over and over onto reams of paper. Kubrick's addition of a psychotic edge to the proverb has had some effect on popular culture, inspiring several other works to include a direct homage to the scene.
- It is said by Oliver Hardy in the 1933 film Sons of the Desert.
- It is stated by Colonel Saito in the 1957 film The Bridge on the River Kwai.
- It is featured prominently in the 1980 film The Shining.
- It is used in the 1983 Hindi Film "Mazdoor".
- It is also mentioned in the 2004 film Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London.
- It is used by Peta Sergeant in the 2012 comic science fiction action film Iron Sky.
- It is said by Poorna Jagannathan in the 2011 Indian film Delhi Belly.
- It appears in Act II Scene I of the 1924 play Marco Millions by Eugene O'Neill.
- It appears in the 1985 novel Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, as Peter Wiggin's mother addresses him.
- It appears in James Joyce's story "Araby" as the nameless narrator's uncle mentions the old saying.
- It appears in Paul Auster's novel Squeeze Play from 1997.
- It appears in Kurt Vonnegut's novel Jailbird from 1979.
- It appears in Lee Child's 2006 novel The Hard Way.
- It appears in Stephen King's novel "Pet Sematary" as a brief mention.
- It appears in Jack Kerouac's novel Big Sur from 1962.
- It appears in Tom Sharpe's novel Porterhouse Blue, by Mrs Biggs to Zipser.
- In the chorus of the song "Boy's Chorus (La Sui Monti Dell' Est)" from the 1984 Malcolm McLaron album Fans, but "Jack" is replaced with "Mac".
- In the 1990 song "He's a Man" by Madonna the name "Jack" is again replaced, this time by "Dick" referring to Dick Tracy, a fictional character portrayed in the film by Warren Beatty, which the song had been written for.
- The song "Angry Chair" (1992) by Alice in Chains contains the verse "I'm a dull boy, work all day".
- "American Dream" by Casting Crowns begins with the phrase.
- In 2007 the metal music band Mudvayne released a song called "Dull Boy" with the quote included in their lyrics.
- In 2012 the post-hardcore band Averia quote this in their song "The Overlook"
- In 2013 the electronic music producer HVOB released a song called "Jack" with the quote included.
- In 2014 South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord released their single "Pitbull Terrier", which features a variation of the expression.
- "Let Your Hair Down" is a 1973 single by American vocal group The Temptations which contains the lyrics "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".
- A song called "Still Sane" by the singer Lorde featured in her 2013 album titled Pure Heroine
- One 1994 episode of The Simpsons, "Treehouse of Horror V" contained a Shining parody, where Marge finds a piece of paper with just two words – "Feelin' fine" – typed up, before noticing "No TV and no beer make Homer go crazy" written all over the walls. This is also parodied in the 1997 episode "The Springfield Files" as a cascading text, in the manner of The X-Files. The proverb is also referenced in the chalkboard gags of season five episode "The Last Temptation of Homer" and of season twenty-five's "Treehouse of Horror XXIV."
- A 2002 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Gone", includes a scene where Buffy Summers fills a social worker's report with pages consisting entirely of repetitions of "All work and no play make Doris a dull girl".
- One 2001 episode of CSI includes a scene where Greg Sanders is caught dancing in the lab by his boss, and says "All work and no play makes Greg a dull boy". Gil Grissom responds by saying that all play and no work makes Greg an unemployed boy.
- It was used in Season 1, Episode 5 of the TV series Downton Abbey, when Mary tells Matthew that "You know what all work and no play did for Jack" and Matthew answers that "You think I'm a dull boy anyway, don't you." The saying was used once again when Lord Gillingham's valet flirts with Anna in Season 4, Episode 3 when he says, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a dull girl."
- In the episode 2 of the first season of Gilmore Girls, Lorelai has an argument with her mother about her attempt to pay for the installation of a DSL line on Lorelai's house. Lorelai alleges that her current, slower connection gives her time to dance and have a snack. With a faster connection "It would be all work and no play, haven't you seen The Shining, mum?"
- The episode of the cartoon Ed, Edd n Eddy titled "Stop, Look and Ed" features Eddy telling Rolf that "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".
- In a 1999 episode of Family Guy, "Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater", when Stewie was riding his tri-bike at Lois's big inherited house and met the twins from The Shining at a corridor and they said "Come play with us Stewie for ever, and ever and ever", Stewie replied back to them "All work and no play makes Stewie a dull boy".
- In Supernatural, Dean Winchester reads an insane doctor's writings about the "treatments" he used on his patients and comments "all work and no play make Doctor Ellicot a very dull boy." The same phrase is used again in Season 2 when Dean investigates a crime scene and finds sheets of paper with the same name printed over and over, in reference to the film "The Shining".
- During "Cafe Disco", an episode on the popular NBC series The Office, Dwight makes a remark after Michael states that the office has gotten boring, saying "All work and no play makes Michael a dull boy!"
- In a 2009 episode of Wizards of Waverly Place, Max Russo played by Jake T. Austin, says the line to Alex Russo played by Selena Gomez when he is doing an impression of Jack Nicholson. This reveals that he has seen The Shining.
- In the 1999 episode of Melrose Place "When cheerleaders attack" Lexi Sterling played by Jamie Luner says the line "all work and no play makes Megan a dull girl" to Megan Lewis played by Kelly Rutherford
- In the third episode of Twin Peaks, "Zen, or the Skill to Catch a Killer" Jerry Horne says to his brother Benjamin Horne: "All work and no play makes Ben and Jerry dull boys"
- Used in episode of "My Three Sons" by Uncle Charlie: "All work and no play makes Steve a dull boy."
- Referenced by The Joker in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series ("Joker's Wild"). "All work and no play..."
- In the 1974 Columbo Episode "Mind Over Mayhem", Dr. Marshall Cahill (José Ferrer) tells Steve, a whiz kid who is playing chess with his toy robot, that "all work and no play make Jack a dull boy" to hint the boy not to work too much.
- Aunt Bea said it in reference to Opie studying too much in the 1965 episode of "The Andy Griffith Show" called "Opie Flunks Arithmetic".
- The phrase was parodied in an episode of The Critic as "All work no play makes Jay a dull boy."
- In Gilmore Girls, season 4 episode 21, Tana Schrick's boyfriend, Chester Fleet, lost a bet against Tana and therefore he had to go all day only talking in cliches, which Paris thinks is annoying. Paris points out that Rory doesn't go out enough, so Chester says "All work and no play makes Jack.." but then gets interrupted by Paris' mean look.
- In The Jeffersons, season 1 episode 4, Lionel Jefferson tells his girlfriend Jenny Willis to enjoy life saying, "All work and no play makes Jenny a dull girl." To this, Jenny responds, "Well, you know what I say? All play and no work makes Lionel a dummy!"
- In an episode of Porridge, Fletcher tells Godber "all work and no play makes Jack a dull beanstalk"
- In The Blacklist, season 2 episode 2, Raymond Reddington says "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" to a Mossad double agent when she says she look forward to working with him.
- In Animaniacs, season 1, episode 27, segment "I Got Yer Can", Candie repeatedly types, "All work and no cans make Candie a dull Chipmunk".
The "Sunday" computer virus, a member of the Jerusalem virus family discovered in 1989, contained a reference to the proverb. Infected files will contain the string "Today is Sunday! Why do you work so hard? All work and no play make you a dull boy! Come on! Let's go out and have some fun!" The virus's payload prints the proverb on the screen and then deletes all files running while the virus is a resident in the memory, as the original Jerusalem did every Friday the 13th.
In video games
In the game Command & Conquer: Renegade during the last mission. "All work and no play, may make Jack a dull boy." can occasionally be heard from the loudspeakers in the Temple of Nod.
In the game Jazzpunk. In the first mission, when the player enters the world of pizza.
In the Safehouse Nightmare mission in PAYDAY 2 (with Jack substituted for the character Wolf).
- "JamHowell Quotes and Quotations". Famous Quotes and Authors.com. Archived from the original on 15 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
- "Movie connections for The Shining (1980)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2011-01-21.