Like Peter Pan, plenty of us have wished that we would never grow up. But alas, Neverland isn’t a real place, so life goes on—children become adults, and those adults have their own children. But what about fictional characters? Ever wondered what would happen if they, like us, had to grow up and get a job to pay the bills? Here are our best guesses at dream jobs and career realities for some familiar names from kiddie lit.
Character: Veruca Salt
Career dream: Veruca has no idea what she wants to be, but she can give you her mile-long shopping list. After her adventure at Willy Wonka’s factory, at least she knows for sure that she doesn’t want a career involving sweets.
Career reality: When Veruca decided not to follow in the family business at her father’s peanut-shelling factory, she was left with only with her inheritance and a complete lack of any skill set. She can currently be seen on her very own reality show on the E! network, just like the Kardashians.
Career dream: A hermit who lives in the Australian outback, because nothing can go wrong there.
Career reality: Crisis counselor. It pays better–plus, if anyone can relate to having a hard time, it’s Alexander, who assures us all that even folks in Australia have bad days.
Career dream: We’ve lost track of all of Olivia’s big dreams, from a painter to a circus ringmaster and, most recently, a fairy princess.
Career reality: Drama teacher. This little piggy has always had a flair for the dramatic.
Character: Paddington Bear
Career dream: World traveler. The bear was always interested in learning more about his Peruvian origins, and finding out just how he came to London’s Paddington station.
Career reality: Purveyor of artisanal marmalade. World travel costs money, and Paddington makes his at local farmer’s markets.
Career dream: Forest ranger. How else will the wild beasts stay tame?
Career reality: Children’s psychologist. Rather than send their children to bed without dinner, now parents send their unruly kids to Max.
Character: Curious George
Career dream: To be the first primate investigative journalist. A life of asking questions and pushing the limits? Yes, please.
Career reality: Permanent graduate student. What better way to enjoy a life of curiosities than studying all sorts of things? Even if he has to call the Man in the Yellow Hat for a loan every so often.
This piece originally ran in April 2013.