Office Betting Pool
|Trope · Genre|
|Related:||Didn't Know They Were Dating, Bets|
|See Also:||Undercover in a Gay Bar, Pretend Couple|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The subjects of the betting pool are two co-workers or partners, who are clueless about the fact that they're totally in love, or else keeping their relationship completely secret for some reason. (In slash stories, the OTP may be closeted due to fear of others' reactions; in het fic, they may be maintaining secrecy about their relationship due to the fact that they work together.)
However, when they finally hook up and/or come out, they discover that not only did everybody already know, but there is actually an office pool betting on some aspect of the news: when they would finally get together, how long they have been together, or when they would go public about their relationship.  The office pool trope is a way for writers to underline just how inevitable and meant for each other their OTP actually is; the OTP's friends and co-workers are so sure they're going to get together, they're literally willing to bet money on it.
Some authors include the office betting pool as a small throwaway detail in a longer story, while others make it the entire focus of the story. Stories using this trope tend to be on the light and fluffy side. Some readers regard it as a bit of a tired cliche,  but it can be revitalized for great humor value by authors who add a twist to the usual plot; for instance, partners who secretly find out about the betting pool and try to manipulate the results, or supporting characters who try to affect the outcome of the bet, perhaps by sending the OTP Undercover in a Gay Bar or locking them in a room with one bed.
- House/Harry Potter: Granger-Chase Betting Pool by flareonfury (Hermione/Chase)
- Psych: All Bets Are Off, by Andie O'Neill (Shawn/Lassiter) In which Juliet decides she needs to do extensive investigation of Shawn and Lassiter before placing her bet.
- NCIS: Office Pool by Bob Rhynoplasty. (Tony/Gibbs) "Aren't there policies against that sort of thing? What does the director feel about this office pool?" "He has New Years' weekend for next year."
- Sherlock: First Night Out by verityburns (Sherlock/John) As John recovers from the effects of a brutal kidnapping, he and Sherlock attend the Yarders' Christmas Party. There are . . . 'developments' on the dance floor . . . .
- Star Trek: Voyager: Undeniable by Mizvoy (Janeway/Chakotay) She wouldn’t be surprised at all if the old Janeway/Chakotay betting pool was reactivated before the party was over.
- Live Free or Die Hard: Taking Names by Utopian Trunks (John McClane/Matt Farrell) In which the betting pool at the station concerns the source of McClane's good mood lately.
- X-Files: The Office Pool by Jess Confessore (Mulder/Scully) "Excuse me? Did you just say the total is over one hundred and twenty-four THOUSAND dollars?" "Well, this has been adding up for 7 years, Sir."
- X-Men: First Class: Placing Bets by i_know_its_0ver (Erik/Charles) Originally posted at X-Men: First Class Kink. The kids place bets on how long it will take Erik and Charles to finally kiss, then set about trying to make it happen.
- Megamind: Take Me Out by setepenre_set (Megamind/Roxanne Ritchi) A disguised Megamind and Roxanne watch a baseball game together, and various members of Metro City's criminal underworld set about trying to win the betting pool on when the two will finally get together.
Although not restricted to these fandoms, the Office Betting Pool trope is most commonly found in procedural fandoms with a law enforcement or military setting, such as JAG, MASH or Law and Order. The subjects of the betting pool are often buddy cops, if their show has a strong supporting ensemble, such as on The Sentinel or Bones. On these types of shows, the existence of betting pools is often already canon, so it's not a huge stretch to imagine that the characters would place bets on an office romance.
For instance, Castle had an episode where partners Ryan and Esposito bet Castle that they could solve a homicide faster than Castle and Beckett. Beckett was shocked at their immaturity, but then got really competitive about the bet. Star Trek canon includes several mentions of betting pools,  for instance the Voyager betting pool as to the due date of B'Elanna Torres' baby. In the fourth season of House, there is a betting pool concerning which of House's new potential minions he will decide to fire. 
Archives & Links
- Metalchick36, The SVU Venting/Ranting Thread (while discussing common cliches of Olivia/Eliot fiction in SVU fandom) Although in #17, I would add "Cragen, Fin, Munch, Huang, & Melinda all say "I knew they would get together!" or Cragen calls them into his office like they're in trouble, but then tells them in a whisper that he knew they would get together and that there's an office pool that was going and now either Fin or Munch owe the other 50 bucks."
- Fleeting Fancies Fanworks Recs In a rec for Yami no Matsuei story Something like Chemistry, by Chained Dove: That Watari was running the betting pool for when Tsuzuki and Hisoka would get together, won, and it didn't come off as painfully cliche, instead it was funny and I could actually believe it? LOVED THAT.
- Betting pool on Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki
- Of course House fixes the bet by not firing any of them, and then splits the take with Chase: Mirror Mirror on the House wiki