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Kevin Hart’s portrayal of a boring accountant in Central Intelligence just one of many stereotypes

Here’s a compilation of our favourite clichés about our profession as seen on TV and in film

Nitpicky, boring, reclusive… We’re all familiar with accountant clichés. But on screen, they’re often likeable characters; after all, everyone has a good side. Here are a few stereotypes we’ve seen time and again.

The amusing dork

Seen in: Stranger Than Fiction, Hitch, Central Intelligence
Accountants are supposedly socially awkward. Harold Crick (played by Will Ferrell) is a case in point. In Stranger Than Fiction, the IRS agent suffers from OCD (obviously, he counts everything). He lives in his own little world until one day, he hears a voice describing his every move. Scared and overwhelmed, he realizes that he’s a character in a novel being written, and that he needs to quickly find the author before she writes the end of his story.

Hitch is a lighter comedy. Kevin James plays the role of Albert Brennaman, a clumsy and lovesick man, who is, alas, an accountant. Luckily, Alex Hitchens (Will Smith), a “date doctor,” is there to help him overcome his shortcomings.

Central Intelligence, an action comedy that’s anything but subtle, features Calvin Joyner (played by Kevin Hart), a forensic accountant who misses his high-school glory days as a star athlete. Stuck in what’s supposed to be an accountant’s life, he is visited by a former schoolmate he defended 20 years earlier. The once overweight Robbie Weirdicht (Dwayne Johnson) is now a CIA agent who needs his “accounting superpowers” for an investigation. It’s not easy for Calvin to get his nose out of his books, and hilarity ensues.

Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston from 'Breaking Bad'Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad. (Alamy photo)

The clever operator

Seen in: Ozark, Breaking Bad
Accountants are clever and know how to play the system. How will Ozark’s Marty Byrde (played by Jason Bateman) launder $500 million in five years for the Mexican mafia in the middle of nowhere, Missouri? He’ll manage, but at what cost? Skylar White (Anna Gunn), an accountant and Walter White’s wife in the series Breaking Bad, knows the cost. It’s that of the car wash she buys to (almost literally) launder the money her husband makes selling drugs. Even though she’s the queen of tax evasion, she reminds the audience that her husband, as likeable as he may be, is still a drug dealer. There are lines accountants won’t cross.

The reformed criminal

Seen in: The Shawshank Redemption, Narcos 
Highly knowledgeable about the law, accountants have a few tricks up their sleeves. In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy (played by Tim Robbins) is serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife and her lover. While incarcerated, he handles the prison’s finances and helps the warden launder money. Andy has something in common with Guillermo Pallomari (played by Javier Cámara), the chief accountant in the series Narcos. Guillermo’s mission is to hide and launder the Cali Cartel’s billions. Realizing that stealing doesn’t pay, both men change course. Andy reveals the warden’s crimes to the world, and Pallomari escapes to the United States, where he helps the Drug Enforcement Agency dismantle the cartel he used to work for. Their honour remains intact!

Rick Moranis from the original 1984 film 'Ghostbusters'Rick Moranis as Louis Tully in Ghostbusters. (Alamy photo) 

The stingy one (financially or emotionally)

Seen in: Ghostbusters, Orange is the New Black, The Accountant, L’imposteur
Our compilation would not be complete without a few miserly accountants. Do you remember Louis Tully, the loveable Ghostbusters character? He invited clients to his parties so that he could write it off. The calculating Linda Ferguson is resourceful, too. In Orange is the New Black, she manages the prison’s finances with an iron fist so that she can get a promotion. And in the emotionally stunted category, we have The Accountant’s Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck), as well as Jean-Christophe Lemieux, a.k.a. 253, from L’imposteur.

The righter of wrongs

Seen in: The Catch, The Untouchables 
It’s no surprise that many of these characters take on the role of avenger. Such is the case with forensic accountant Alice Vaughan (played by Mireille Enos) in The Catch, who will not rest until she catches the man who swindled her out of all her money. One of the most well-known of the bunch is, without a doubt, Oscar Wallace, the accountant recruited by Eliot Ness in The Untouchables. He helped convict Al Capone in 1931, after the crack team apprehended the mob boss’s accountant. A real battle of numbers. In fact, do you know what profession Capone practised around 1920? That’s right, accounting!

The goofball

Seen in: The Office: The Accountants
On screen, accountants are anything but dull. And their portrayal on The Office: The Accountants keeps you in stitches. The zany accounting team resembles what you’d find in many workplaces: It’s pleasantly dysfunctional.