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"Ooooooh, scandalous!"
"Here's four stickers; never say that again.
The Ashleys and T.J.

"Economics of Recess" is the nineteenth episode of the second season of Recess, which was first broadcast on December 12th, 1998.



T.J. discovers that while he was out sick, the school has undergone a currency implementation, "Monstickers." It would now require an X amount of Monstickers to do anything that was free at recess before that point. At first, T.J. is broke, but through hard work and investments, he becomes the richest kid in school and grows mad with power and greed and even loses his friends in the process.

Main Story

After spending a week off with illness, T.J. is welcomed back at Third Street by the gang. However, when they attempt to enter the front of the school they are asked for "Monstickers" by a safety ranger. To which T.J. asks in bewilderment what he was talking about, Vince quickly excuses T.J.'s behavior and pays for entrance fee for him. The gang explains the new currency to T.J. as they walk down the hall to class, until T.J. wants a drink were another safety ranger asks him for stickers.

Vince pays for the usage; Menlo is seen walking with older, more popular kids whilst talking about his filling responsibilities. Confused over how Menlo could be this popular, he asks the gang how this could be, to which they say that he became the richest kid in school and that he had "family stickers". At recess, T.J., not having any stickers, is given a single, solitary sticker from Mikey; however, T.J. can't do anything at recess as everything - including laying on the grass costs Monstickers. T.J. decides that he needs Monstickers; moreover, he goes to Kelso's but Kelso is out of Monstickers but he does have Lick 'n' Stick Alien Stamps. After departing with the gang outside of Kelso's, he encounters Menlo, he makes an offer of five monstickers for T.J.'s cap, which he accepts. He vows to invest his Monstickers to buy back his cap.

Without-his-hat economics-of-recess.png

The next day, T.J. throws himself into whatever work he can get his hand on. Notably as a servant of King Bob, giving relief to Swinger Girl, and helping dig with the diggers. However, this is low-paid, manual work. Both Vince and Mikey come across T.J. working, after refusing to subsidize T.J. for Monstickers they state that no-one would catch them working at recess. After working for a few days, he decides to cut into the free market. As there are several other competitors, he works against the apposing different factions cutting deals that would award him best. First, with the safety rangers' front door watcher, paying him twenty-five stickers up front and splitting the taking 50/50. He then outsourced this to a younger kid for two stickers a day; he too outsourced the manual work he had with the Diggers, King Bob, and Swinger Girl to younger kids.

After acquiring enough stickers, T.J. targets Randall's balls, outbidding everyone collectively to eliminate the single market. He gives Randall a job as his no. 2; he also recruits the gang. Having turned the jungle gym into his office, Menlo comes back with T.J.'s old cap for a single sticker. Now being unopposed in the school's single market, T.J. implements Draconian tactics to increase his proportion of wealth with the health of trend and data analysis carried out by the gang, at one point owning 80%. However, he gets greedy: deciding he wants the remaining twenty, even though kids cannot afford to play at recess and the only people who have any money are the ones working for him.

After the gang leave him for increasing the cost of playing and downsizing the kids, they come across a kid who is willing to trade them Lick 'n' Stickers for a turn of their soccer ball. The next day, T.J. attempts to trade with his Monstickers, however, he finds out Lick 'n' Stickers is the accepted currency. He comes to the conclusion that he was wrong and the gang make him sign a contract to not control more than 10% of the total number of Lick 'n' Stick Alien Stamps at anyone time. He signs, however, he goes back to work to get the Lick 'n' Stickers.



  • In this episode, whilst T.J. was off sick, Spinelli took over leadership over the gang, with Gus stating that she "[was] a lot less willing to talk things out."
  • This episode is often viewed as a political statement regarding global economics and the problems with the current model.
  • The economy of the playground appears to be based on the Marxist theory of capitalism, as originally outlined in The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
  • The people who oversee the balls at recess is Randall, the entrance and facilities of Third Street belong to the safety rangers, and the playground facilities belong to men who appear to be King Bob's aides. This suggests a free-market principle is present. After T.J. introduces a monopoly to the playground, these groups are seen side-by-side working for him, further enforcing this theory.


  • Aaron Kelso makes his first appearance in this episode.
  • From here on April Winchell would use her natural voice when voicing Mrs. Detweiler.
  • This is the fifth time Miss Finster does not appear.
  • This is the only episode of Recess that credits Rick Gitleson as a writer, as he would later become the mastermind of four of his own shows, especially the fact that he is now the current show runner of Corn & Peg.
  • This is the first episode of Recess that credits Phil Walsh as a writer.
  • This is the first episode of Recess to be directed by Howy Parkins.


  • Both Pokémon and Yoshi make allusions in this episode. Specifically, MonStickers and Yoshi Trolls.