Bad Boss

"Every day, the sharks are fed at least two employees who had incurred the displeasure of the president."
Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion.

A Diabolical Mastermind, jerkass character or other villain establishes just how bad they are by callously mistreating their own henchmen, sometimes outright maiming or killing them—not just for failures that weren't their fault, but simply because somebody blew their nose too noisily; or to remind them who's the biggest, baddest son-of-a-bitch there; or because he was in a bad mood; or in many cases, absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Why anyone goes on working for them is unknown. Their behavior sometimes breeds Starscreams or annoys/scares off their mooks into joining the winning (or at least less dangerous) side, but sometimes it has no effect... and sometimes you're left wondering why anyone would work for them in the first place. They may have simply Signed Up for the Dental, though often it's just that they are even more terrified of what the boss would do to them if they dared to quit. Of course, this may be one reason why villains don't win nearly as often as heroes do; after all, a company that mistreats its employees doesn't tend to be as successful as one that respects them.

More often than not, this is the biggest Berserk Button of the All-Loving Hero, who hates it when a Bad Boss mistreats even their own allies or servants.

The Weasel Co-Worker has an unusually high chance of getting away with his lies under him, which may be why he works for him.

In some cases it's not the Big Bad, but a more vague force of evil that slaughters its own. For those cases see Artifact of Death.

See also:

Not related to That One Boss, or to any other Boss Battle trope. Contrast with Benevolent Boss and Mean Boss. Never ever ever try With Due Respect on a Bad Boss.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Sousuke Aizen created an army of Hollows over the course of at least a century pretty much solely for them +to be killed fighting Soul Society as a distraction for his true plan. At least he's upfront about it - he informs his enemies that he specifically warned his followers not to trust him, because he might betray them at any moment. He's actually a fairly decent guy to work for up until the point You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, but that seems written into the contract.
    • One of the first things we see Mayuri Kurotsuchi is turning his subordinates into living bombs, killing one that didn't detonate the first time because "a bomb isn't supposed to come back". He proceeds to savagely beat his lieutenant Nemu for asking for the antidote to the poison she inhaled because he made her immune to that and therefore concludes that she couldn't possibly be suffering was making fun of him. When called out on this by Ishida, Mayuri berates him because Nemu is his daughter and he can treat her however he likes. Amazingly, his later appearances play him for laughs and he's underwent a Hazy Feel Turn.
    • Mayuri's equally evil counterpart and Aizen's Octava Espada is Szayelaporro Grantz, a Mad Scientist who has performed experiments on himself and his underling so that he can recover from injury by eating them.
    • Yhwach, the leader of the Vandenreich, within his first two scenes, is observed mutilating and dismembering his underlings for effectively no reason. They had neither failed him nor outlived their usefulness. In fact, whipping off an underling's arm seems to be his favorite way of getting their attention. Later, he also resorts to the ol' classic You Have Failed Me and You Have Outlived Your Usefulness antics.
    • This is true of the Sternritter in general. Quilge Opie sends his much weaker minions into battles and only enters once they have all been defeated, killing anyone who flees. Mask de Masculine incinerates his number one fanboy (and the one providing his Healing Factor) because he knew James would regenerate anyway, and banked on being able to take out Renji Abarai in the process. Bambietta Basterbine lets off steam by sleeping with her henchmen and violently killing them if she's still frustrated. The only objection anyone has to this habit (even the henchmen themselves are actually very willing and eager) is that it's a waste of hot guys. Furthermore, Giselle Gewelle, who can turn people into Zombies, is shown to be incredibly abusive towards her puppets, with the implication that she's reprogrammed them into sex slaves. If there is a Vandenreich leader who is not a walking workplace hazard, we have yet to see them.
    • Later on, Yhwach's behavior (and allowing of the Sternritter to do the same) is later given an explanation: every Quincy in existence literally derives their power from him, and that power returns to him upon their death. This is the only thing that saves him from a Fate Worse Than Death, because he was born blind, deaf, numb and dumb and the only way he can keep his senses is to give out his power, binding it to an individual's soul, and then have it return to him. The result is that he is a Blood Knight and his army must fight and die for him lest he return to a state of living death. He has to kill his subordinates - or at least, send them to their likely deaths - if he wants to stick around, and it explains why he has no objections at the Unfriendly Fire of the Sternritter. Doesn't change the fact that is clearly enjoying himself, and he's willfully enslaving their souls (and the souls of their descendants) because he thinks It's All About Me. This also explains the behaviour of his subordinates - their job is simply to fight and kill until someone kills them, so if someone is unwilling to fight, they can simply serve His Majesty in death, although it must be said that only a few senior Sternritter even know of this fact.
  • A Certain Magical Index has One-Eyed Othinus, the leader of GREMLIN. She is revealed to have a tendency to kill or maim subordinates when she's bored or displeased.
  • Though he doesn't exactly have what could be called "henchmen," Light Yagami of Death Note kills or tries to kill almost everyone who helps him throughout the series. A Justified Trope, since Light tries to keep his identity as a mass murderer a secret from the police, and every person that knows who he really is poses a security risk. Misa devotes her entire life to serving Kira, even to the point of undergoing rather painful interrogation, shortening her lifespan twice, and giving up any notion of a normal life for him and he still treats her like dirt and manipulates her for all she's worth.
  • The Digimon Adventure anime and its sequel, Digimon Adventure 02 has...
    • Myotismon (Vamdemon), whose minions he's killed for failure or for no apparent reason once he was done with them, and the fact that both his resurrections required the deaths of others, the only minion of his known to have survived working for him is Gatomon (Tailmon), who's also the one who turned against him. Even then, it's stated that Gatomon suffered regular physical abuse at his hands.
    • Puppetmon was nearly as bad, killing off minions who annoyed him even slightly. At least Metalseadramon and Machinedramon's reasons for killing Scorpiomon and Warumonzaemon made some sense.
    • Etemon is a sillier example, as he's always screaming at his minions and frequently whacks them over the slightest offenses.
    • During his time as the Digimon Emperor, Ken Ichijoji regularly abused his various Digimon slaves, even going so far as to force them to fight to the death in a Colosseum-style arena for his own amusement. In a unique case, Ken did all of this because he thought the Digital World was just a big computer game, and pulls a Heel–Face Turn when he discovers otherwise.
  • Digimon Xros Wars the Bagra Empire has no problem in killing its own troops to harvest their data. And Kiriha isn't particularly nice to some of his digimon that he considers as weak.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • General Blue, the gay high-ranking officer in the Red Ribbon Army, often executed his own soldiers if they either did unclean things (e.g. he had a random soldier executed for picking his nose), or failed him. He's also quite careless about where he sends his fellow soldiers, as he sent his soldiers rushing down a corridor that had holes coming out while he walked slowly. Guess what happened to those soldiers?
    • Commander Red, General Blue's boss, is even worse: He has his soldiers executed for failure, and has... an extremely wide definition as to what it means to fail (for one thing, if some soldier is unlucky enough to not be able to evade a cat he sics on them and gets his eye plucked out... he's executed). Then he reveals that he only wanted the Dragon Balls to make himself taller, and is perfectly willing to throw every last soldier's lives away to get it. At which point Staff Officer Black disposes of Red and takes over.
    • Emperor Pilaf regularly insults and belittles his Co-Dragons Shu and Mai. It's taken to ridiculous extremes in the second episode of the anime, where he farts and tries to pass the buck onto Shu, going so far as to threaten Shu with a chainsaw when he objects.
  • Powerful enemies on Dragon Ball Z tend to be extremely cruel and apathetic when it comes to anybody working under them.
    • Freeza was especially bad about this; every time he happened to have a mood swing (which was quite frequently, considering that he was a sadistic and narcissistic Galactic Conqueror), one or more of his henchman would find themselves vaporized instantly. This seems to be mostly in the anime, though — in the manga he's less kill-happy, though no less sadistic. Freeza is several orders of magnitude more powerful than his strongest subordinate (he can destroy entire planets with a finger) and is practically invincible, so if you work for him there isn't really anything you can do about this behavior.
    • During the Majin Buu saga, there was Babidi. After his human minions succeed in acquiring a large amount of power for him, he makes one explode and has the other shot when he tries to escape; the Kaioshin even outright states that Babidi always kills his minions when he has no further use for them. When he wakes Buu, his first order is to have his Dragon Dabura turned into a cookie and devoured by Buu. He then controls Buu by repeatedly threatening to seal him away again. As one would expect, threatening the most powerful being in existence didn't pan out too well.
    • Chilled, Freeza's ancestor in the non-canon Episode of Bardock, is just as bad as his descendant, if not worse. In one scene, he kills one of his random henchmen simply because said henchman was blocking his view, and that was when he was in a good mood.
    • Vegeta, back during his tenure as a villain in early Z. He mercilessly killed one of the Saibaiman for losing to Tenshinhan in a fight, and after Nappa got his back broken by Goku, he threw him into the air and obliterated him with an energy beam.
    Vegeta: "I have no use for a paralyzed Saiyan! You're dead weight now!"
  • Fairy Tail has a lot. These include:
    • Brain, who shoots Cobra in the back for taking too long to defeat Natsu (and Cobra was about to win). Cobra made sure he paid for that seven years later.
    • King Faust, burns his subordinate's legs for mentioning that another subordinate was in the line of fire.
    • Zancrow, who incinerates his mooks just because they told him to be careful when fighting Natsu. When Natsu calls him out on this, Zancrow calls them "trash".
    • Then there's Laxus, the biggest reason why he can never take over Fairy Tail is mostly his personality. Though he learned from his mistake, the fact still remains.
    • Jiemma exiles anyone in his guild who fails to win a single fight. He even has a ceremony for the exile that his subordinates have to watch.
  • Many of Fist of the North Star's villains are given to this behavior. Often the only thing keeping their mooks from saying Screw This, I'm Outta Here! when faced with Kenshiro exploding their heads is fear of what their bosses will do to them. One of the worst in this regard is Jagi, who will kill you just for looking at him without his helmet on, or for refusing to call him by his brother's name while he's trying to blacken it.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Kimblee is so unpleasant to his minions (as well as being such an utterly sadistic, degenerate villain in general) that every single one of them has done a Heel–Face Turn by the end of the series.
  • Gates from Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid had a penchant of killing his subordinates at the drop of a hat, just to show how much of a raving lunatic he was.
  • The unnamed villain in The Fuma Conspiracy, and leader of the Fuma, has no qualms about losing subordinates, and shows no emotion after some of them are butchered by a trap.
  • InuYasha:
    • Naraku constantly threatens his subordinates/detachments with death should they defy him, once tortured Kagura by squeezing her disembodied heart in his hands, and personally killed Kanna as part of a Suicide Mission he sent her on. Needless to say, quite a few of his detachments turn on or try to turn on him throughout the series, with Byakuya being the only one to stay loyal to him; his habit of this is such that he actually anticipates ahead of time that both Hakudoshi and the Infant will eventually try to betray him.
    • Sesshomaru constantly abuses his Sycophantic Servant Jaken, physically and verbally. On at least two occasions, he even literally stepped on him.
  • Kamisama Kiss has a couple of examples. The first one we are introduced to is Nurakami, whose familiars have a low life expectancy (her current two are her forty-second pair). She is later surpassed by Akura-Ou.
  • Xanxus from Katekyo Hitman Reborn! will kick his subordinates a hundred meters out of the base if they don't give him the right meat for dinner. He launches many things onto Squalo's head, usually glasses of wine, and possibly bigger things... When Bel and Mammon come disguised as transfer students for the Arcobaleno Trials, they hint that their family doesn't get a long well, since their mom (Squalo) yells a lot, and their dad (Xanxus) throws a lot of things. He's been known to "not care" if his subordinates go missing. Neither does anyone else on the team. Good thing Squalo came back anyway.
  • You'll be hard-pressed to find a scene that has Tonga from Kimba the White Lion that doesn't have her yelling or whipping her own workers. It got to the point where her lioness Bella Dona ditched her after being whipped when she was trying to tell Tonga where Kimba and Roger Ranger were hiding.
  • Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro features Neuro. Even leaving out the fact that he's a demon from the depths of the Makai, he's physically abusive to the people who work for him (at one point, he sets his assistant's hair on fire just to prove a point), with punishments for "failures" like forcing one to hold over her body a tub of gasoline with a candle that, if spilled, would burn her to death, gives absolutely no concern over the health and welfare of the people who work for him, or even for their wealth and property, as he completely totaled the new car of one employee and would only replace it with a clunker that wouldn't last a year, and borrowed under the name of another several million yen. The only reason anyone works for him is because if they refuse, he'll kill them. He loses some Bad Boss points (even comedic ones) for actually stealth-rewarding his assistants and much of the abuse being Training from Hell.
  • Shell Septinos of Mardock Scramble is a corrupt employee for the October Corporation, but the moment it becomes clear that his pastime is catching up with him, they turn their back on him and hire contract killers to shut him up for good. The fact that he was even engaged to the daughter of their CEO having no impact on the decision.
  • Mazinger Z: Dr. Hell is a curious example. On one side he felt that he was above executing his subordinates. On the other side he was not above punishing their failures with strikes, insults or torture. He used an Agony Beam with Baron Ashura several times, insulted him often, and an episode opened with Ashura getting flayed for their latest failures. In Mazinger-Z vs Devilman movie he slapped Ashura because he was angry and Ashura was nearby. And yet he cared for his henchmen in his own way, turning Ashura down whenever they asked for execution, constantly giving them second chances, forgiving failures when he knew that his Co-Dragons had tried their best, and mourning Ashura after their death and planning to avenge him.
  • Muruta Azrael, Lord Djibril, and Patrick Zala of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (and sequel Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny) were terrible bosses, with the first two in particular subscribing to a We Have Reserves style of fighting that cost thousands of lives. They also controlled their subordinates through drugs and brainwashing, and killed anyone who tried to argue with them.
  • Director Heinemann from Monster. He takes credit for Dr. Tenma's research and exploits him in order to save rich and influential patients... even if it means letting other patients die. He then does his best to sabotage Tenma's career (and instructs his daughter to cut off her engagement with him) for daring to go against his orders.
  • From Naruto:
    • Orochimaru sacrifices his subordinates to perform forbidden jutsu, regularly performs gruesome experiments on many others (though he probably mainly picks his prisoners), murders one mook who came in to help him when he was screaming in pain, and dismisses his most fanatical follower as unimportant after he chose to die fighting for him. He even flat-out admitted to Kakashi at one point that he considers all of his subordinates who don't have special worth to be nothing but worthless pawns.
    • Orochimaru can be contrasted with Pain, who is a ruthless but beloved god to his village, genuinely cares for his country, and rebukes his subordinates for fighting amongst themselves and disrespecting each other, stressing teamwork and camaraderie.
    • Tobi is somewhere in the middle. While he doesn't seem too concerned about the deaths of his henchmen and actively manipulates all of them, he doesn't seem to have expected them to die either and he doesn't regard them as cheap sacrifices. He outwardly respects them at any rate, though he teases them occasionally.
  • This is one of the defining traits of One Piece villains. Luffy hates them because he believes in True Companions, and betraying your companions is the worst crime ever.
    • This is also how to measure the Character Development of Buggy the Clown. In the beginning, he uses his own men as shields and in the manga goes so far as to have one of his men killed over mishearing something he said and falsely believing that he was making fun of his nose, but when we see him last, he and they are crying joyously at their reunion.
    • Crocodile is willing to let his own underlings die by the thousands in order to pursue his own goals.
    • Eneru is willing to let his own underlings die by the thousands in order to pursue his own goals.
    • Spandam is willing to let his own underlings die by the thousands in order to pursue his own goals.
    • Hody Jones is willing to let his own underlings die by the thousands in order to pursue his own goals, or kill his subordinates For the Evulz.
    • Subverted by Arlong, who despises and kills humans callously, but deeply cares for and gets enraged when his subordinates are harmed. Particularly when Luffy uses one of his incapacitated allies as a shield.
    • Also subverted by Mr 2 Bon Clay, who has no problem beating his men for failing him, but refuses to let anyone else hurt them.
    • Donquixote Doflamingo is proving to be the worst yet. When creating his "family" of executives, he specifically welcomed individuals with a Dark and Troubled Past because they'd be the most likely to die for him whenever he demands it. Shown with his subordinates Vergo and Monet, both who happily died in Punk Hazard following Doflamingo's request they do so.
      • It's a little more complex than that. Doflamingo is extremely self-centered, sure. But Vergo and Monet's deaths did affect him, and he commended both for their loyalty before they kicked the bucket. His reaction was to head to Punk Hazard himself, mow down Marine soldiers with impunity and nearly kill a Vice-Admiral present in a fit of bloody murderous rage.
  • From Pokémon:
    • Hunter J is more than willing to sacrifice her own minions, leaving them to die if she has to, if she thinks she will benefit. (Sadly, that is far from her worst trait. Very few villains on the show are crueler than she is. And the worst part? She is motivated by greed, nothing else.)
    • The Iron Masked Marauder of Pokémon 4Ever is so evil that upon his defeat, every single one of his Pokémon ditched him. Most of the time, a trainer's Pokémon are loyal to the trainer even if they are evil: the Marauder was just that much of a dick.
  • Menace of Queen's Blade, who lost her kingdom because she was more concerned with spending all her time having lesbian orgies with her huge harem than actually ruling. Eventually, her favorite love-slave Anarista betrayed her to a foreign power and her kingdom was conquered and destroyed.
  • Rosario + Vampire:
    • Gyokuro Shuzen is perfectly willing to let her minions die in droves as long as she gets her way. On top of that, she openly threatens to kill Akua, one of her daughters, when she feels that Akua has worn out her usefulness.
    • The Masked King, head of the Miao family and the true head of Fairy Tale. He brutalizes his subordinates and planned to kill Xia-Long regardless of whether or not Xia-Long was loyal to the cause. Furthermore, when Gyokuro loses control of Alucard and is about to be consumed, the King, despite being perfectly capable of rescuing her, sits back and lets her die... not that Gyokuro didn't deserve it.
  • All of the major villains in Sailor Moon. In the anime, the Quirky Miniboss Squads are more likely to be killed off by their bosses than by the Senshi. Doctor Tomoe in the anime is the sole exception, and even he has no real concern for his subordinates' deaths — he just doesn't go out of his way to kill them. Justified since all of the main villains are fragments/reincarnations of Chaos, the primal evil of the universe.
  • The Sands of Destruction manga plays with this: Morte is shown to bark orders at her sailors (well, technically they're Agan's sailors, but she's the one who bosses them around), threatening to cut their pay if they don't work fast enough, and they in turn call her a demon (which she finds amusing). However, they're also seen to joke around with her just moments after this, so apparently working for an Ax-Crazy Omnicidal Maniac isn't that bad.
  • Tono to Issho: Oda Nobunaga has a habit of setting his retainers on fire for his own amusement.
  • Trigun:
    • Millions Knives allows none of his servants to exit the anime alive, as he views them as garbage like all the other humans. Caine in the anime and Dominique in the manga even kill themselves rather than face the penalty for failure.
    • Then there's Legato, his head servant, who is strongly implied to do quite a few of the murders for failure and has a bit of an issue with Midvalley in the manga. His coin gimmick even implies that he intended for all the members of the Gung-ho Guns to be killed before his final confrontation with Vash (which might make him even worse than Knives in some way. Interestingly, the manga version of Legato himself is an extraordinary "victim" of Knives's cruelty, as his zeal earns him a broken spine and Knives tells him that he doesn't care about his loyalty and will kill him as soon as he stops being useful.
    • Master Chapel in the manga. This is all the more aggravating since he's a kind of substitute father to several of his henchmen.
  • In Yatterman, even when his leads are revealed to be inaccurate, Dokurobei is always quick to punish the Doronbo Gang when they fail.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Marik was a Bad Boss even before his Super-Powered Evil Side took over. He Brainwashed many Ghouls (or did so to force them become Ghouls), and apparently murdered practically every one who failed him, including Rare Hunter, Pandora, Pantomimer, and Masks of Light and Darkness, and possibly others. (To make this truly ironic, there was never any confirmed case of Dark Marik killing one of his servants - he intended to kill Rishid, but he considered Rishid an enemy, seeing as he could possibly cause the real Marik to regain control. Of course, the reason he never killed a servant may simply be because he was on the airship (and later Alcatraz) and never had an opportunity to do so.)
    • Also, Dartz, who kind of crossed into Stupid Evil this way. His group was small enough as it was, but he seemed more than willing to sacrifice the few servants he had to the Orichalcos, up to the point where he was literally the last one left at the climax. Though Justified since they had outlived their usefulness and he was Badass enough to nearly win on his own anyway.
  • The Three Emperors of Yliaster from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's rarely had to punish a minion, but the few times they did, they showed complete lack of mercy. When Clark Smith disobeyed them, they literally erased him from existence, altering the past so that he was never born. (At least, that's what they claimed they did; seeing as this didn't undo any of the crimes he had committed, like ordering the murders of Sherry's parents, it may have been more complicated.)
  • From Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL:
    • Tron clearly intended to sacrifice his henchmen from the start, despite the fact they were his own sons. He even went so far as to insult IV to his face, (in the dub saying that he "would assign more value to a trio of baboons"). Of course, few villains in the whole franchise were more sadistic than Tron was.
    • Don Thousand had them all beat, although calling him a "boss" may be slightly inaccurate. (He was a godlike entity worshipped by the residents of Barian World, but took far more of a role in governing it at times.) The worst thing he did to them was the method he recruited them, arranging for seven powerful warriors and sages to suffer horrible deaths, and then use the Over-Hundred Numbers to reincarnate them with their memories corrupted as dark creatures. He later consumed them (his intentions all along, most likely) when his plan to obtain the Numerion Code reached a climax.

    Comic Books 
  • Most of Batman's adversaries.
    • The Joker:
      • Batman: The Animated Series eventually addressed this, as the Joker became increasingly strapped for cash because potential thugs were all too scared to work for him. Specifically, he once pushed a henchman into the path of an oncoming truck for asking a simple question about their plan, shouting "Mind your own business!" He did that after he explained it to him. Though, to be fair, Joker is insane. He probably did it because he thought it would be funny. That's why he does most of what he does! This is hilariously lampshaded in "The Man Who Killed Batman", where a thug asks an obvious question only to get pushed into the ground and attacked by the Joker's pet hyenas. Harley Quinn gives a bored sigh and announces: "I'll get the mop."
      • In Death of the Family, Joker tells Harley that she's not the first one to bear the name, but that a good line before her who have apparently outlived their usefulness.
      • In Burton's Batman, he ices all of the mobsters he's just bullied into working for him on the imaginary advice of the dead guy he just fried with a handbuzzer ("Grease 'em now? You're a vicious bastard. I'm glad you're dead!") and later shoots his most loyal henchman, Bob, for no other reason than he's pissed that Batman stole his balloons. ("Bob? Gun.")
      • The Dark Knight has a Joker who takes it to even greater extremes in the opening scene ("No, no, no. I kill the bus driver") and later uses one of his own goons as a human bomb. Though The Dark Knight does go to some trouble to show why people would cooperate with The Joker. Either the Joker fools them into thinking it's in their short-term interest (but not, as it turns out, their long-term survival), because they're afraid of what will happen if they DON'T help him, or because they're just as crazy as he is.
    • Bane may sometimes subvert this trope, but during The Dark Knight Rises, he inspires fanatical loyalty, and murders henchmen left, right and centre; said fanatical loyalty even extends to one guy committing suicide just because he told them to.
    • Another subversion is The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot. While certainly a hard master, he generally keeps his promises to his employees, pays them well, and doesn't kill them without reason.
  • Lex Luthor flip-flops on this. Some interpretations show him as a deeply caring boss and humanist (or at least smart enough to keep his underlings well-managed), others as a mastermind willing to kill and use anybody near him. Then again, he has enough money to get away with a lot of mistreatment:
    • In Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, the story that codified his pseudo-humanist credentials, a daycare centre bombing kills a LexCorp scientist and his entire family, and though Toyman is blamed it is strongly implied that Lex was the actual culprit. Said scientist had worked to help build for Lex the Ridiculously Human Robot superhero Hope, who is so ridiculously human she doesn't even know she is a robot—she finds out when Lex activates her self-destruct purely to frame Superman for her murder.
    • In the mainstream comics, in one story it is revealed that a clause in LexCorp contracts results in any employee who uses company resources to help Superman in any way being fired on the spot—and if you happen to be on company property, this counts as trespassing and if you don't leave immediately you will be killed. In the 80s, at least one story also shows him bullying a female employee into "having dinner" with him whether she likes it or not—physically bullying by crushing her hand. Another showed that he had rigged Metropolis with bombs so that if he was ever exposed, he was ready to take his company and the entire city he built to Hell with him.
    • One example in Superman: The Animated Series, when Brainiac kidnapped him and was threatening everyone present he abandons his right hand woman Mercy to her death, leaving Superman to save her. To her credit, she eventually rebels and uses Lexcorp (which he legally gave her when sent to prison, so she'd return it) for herself.
    • In the first movie, it's implied that Lex is so mean nobody but the dimwitted Otis and Miss Teschmacher would work for him. He does, after all, show no concern that one of the missiles he hijacked is directed towards where Ms. Teschmacher's mother lives. Out-of-story, this is to give her a reason to remove the Kryptonite Lex was using against Supers. In-story... no reason but pure meanness, and she'd served him well thus far.
    • Showcased in the first Justice League episode starring him as the villain, "Injustice for All". His "leadership" of the Injustice Gang consists mostly of him yelling at his subordinates for their failures and name-calling. The Gang only puts up with his crap because he keeps offering more and more money. Somewhat justified since he did recently discover he had contracted terminal Kryptonite-induced cancer and wasn't in a particularly patient or forgiving mindset as a result.
  • Norman Osborn used his employees as lab rats against their will before he went crazy. After that he killed some of them for absolutely no reason. When put in charge of the Thunderbolts, he mistreats, abuses and outright kills some of the members. However, he managed to be successful and effective leader. Same situation repeats with Dark Avengers.
  • The Red Skull is a tyrannical boss who always bullies his employees and frequently murders them both for failures and For the Evulz, often in very gruesome ways. It's to the point that Norman's enemies have spared him twice on the basis that merely being Norman Osborn is punishment enough for him.
    • Red Skull's favourite method is the Dust of Death, a chemical weapon of his own design that kills quickly and painfully, leaving their corpses with red skin and a red skull of their own. Back in the day, he would play Chopins Funeral March before using it to execute subordinates who had displeased him (or if he just felt like it), so that from then on he could terrify them just by playing the music as they knew it meant he was about to kill somebody.
    • There is also Mother Night, one of his most loyal and devoted underlings and the woman who raised his daughter Syn for him, and for a time basically his girlfriend. Which is to say, he beat her savagely and frequently For the Evulz, bullying her publicly and privately, at one point starting a relationship with the terrorist Viper / Madame Hydra partly just to piss her off. He would constantly ridicule, berate and make fun of her even if other people were around, make messes and order her to clean them up, and when she begged for death ("for failing him") he refused simply because that is what she wanted. And he enjoyed every minute of it.
    • Not that he treated Syn that much better either. After toying with killing her for not being a boy (getting as far as raising her above a cliff on a dark and stormy night to throw her off it), he made use of her by performing numerous experiment to make her the ideal assassin, at turns aging and de-aging her so he didn't have to put up with her childhood. And then he made sure Mother Night gave her a Training from Hell so that she could murder for him efficiently.
    • He isn't above gassing or slaughtering half or all of his organization to cover his tracks or whenever they have outlived their usefulness either.
    • The scary thing? Almost everyone who works for him has Undying Loyalty for him despite his abuse. Probably because, all of them, from the rank and file to his closest subordinates, are almost as evil as him.
  • While Doctor Doom loves his country and his subjects, he treats anyone who works for him as expendable, and has no qualms about killing them himself, if it suits his current needs. Supervillains who work with Doom might find that their lives are a bit safer, but he usually treats them with as little respect as he treats his underlings.
  • The title character of Léonard le Génie is a sadistic, abusive boss to his assistant Basile, though it is occasionally shown that, if given the chance, Basile would be even worse.
  • In the most recent Aquaman series, Black Manta is one of these to the henchmen serving as crew on his submarine as they monitor Sub Diego. Admittedly, for such a cruel guy he's oddly calm and forgiving here; the worst he doles out is a severe verbal thrashing at his underlings for talking too loud on a stealth mission.
  • Darkseid is very nasty to his world full of servants. Question his decisions? Omega Beams. Compliment him for an apparent act of mercy? Omega Beams. Accomplish your mission with (almost) flying colors? Omega Beams. Fail him? You wish you'll get Omega Beams. Darkseid does have the ability to resurrect the dead, when the people he kills become useful again. Given what life with Darkseid as a boss is like, death might be preferable. Despite all of this, the people of Apokolips are fanatically loyal to Darkseid and are utterly dependent on having a tyrant rule them.
  • The Kingpin:
    • A tendency to execute henchmen who have screwed up or slighted him in some way, or are even just forced to die so that he looks more fearful to the survivors. Why a supposed Genius Bruiser has not realized over the years that this makes the jobs of Spider-Man, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and a few thousand other street-level heroes easier is a total mystery.
    • Another example: He trains himself by fighting a group of martial artists, and very often, he kills the last one standing just so the rest of them are inspired to do better next time. Even worse, if they fight hard enough to make him look bad, he might kill all of them.
    • Ultimate Spiderman offered a plausible explanation. In the first storyline with Kingpin as the Big Bad, Spiderman manages to get a video of him crushing a henchman's skull. The Kingpin's Slasher Smile shows that Kingpin enjoys killing people with his bare hands. Executing henchmen that have failed him gives Kingpin an opportunity to sate his bloodlust since he isn't a street level thug anymore.
  • Another Daredevil example is the Owl, an abusive Mood-Swinger who will torturously murder henchmen who betray or fail him once too often. The most disturbing part is that his bursts of viciousness come completely out of nowhere; most of the time he comes off as affable and reasonable enough, but if a mook slips up suddenly he'll be screaming at the top of his lungs and having the guy's skull bashed in.
    • This trope is one of the reasons why Owl is a Big Bad Wannabe rather than real Big Bad material like Kingpin; he's so unstable and vicious that he doesn't have nearly as many good henchmen as Fisk. Not to mention, whereas Kingpin is usually able to at least restrain himself from brutalizing mooks for every minor screw-up, Owl is too impatient and short-tempered to do so and thus runs through henchmen faster than most.
  • In Sin City, after it is revealed that Manute is working for Ava Lord, Dwight asks why he would work for such a manipulative person. Manute admits that she is evil, uncaring, and likely to turn on him (which she does), but is simply seduced by her power.
  • Doctor Octopus could easily have been the Trope Namer for Insufferable Genius, given the way he treats his henchmen. In the Marvel Comics 2 universe, his successor Lady Octopus acts much the same way when she appears in the Spider-Girl series.
  • There's a weirdly surreal example of this in Hellboy: The Black Flame. After getting involved in a bunch of Lovecraftian cult stuff, the CEO of a Mega Corp. calls a board meeting. The board members file in to find the CEO standing there, wearing a steampunk-nazi battlesuit that glows with black flames of pure dark energy and surrounded by demonic frog minions. They stare at him, and he informs them that he now owns 51% of the company and they are all fired. Cue fiery death, right? Nope. No puns, no nothing, he just fires them and they leave.
  • In Chew, Mike Applebee makes it no secret that he hates Tony Chu's guts, and thus sees to volunteering Chu to the most disgusting cases available. After a one night stand with Chu's friend and partner in the force, John Colby, Applebee lets up on the torture in order to get on Colby's good side... until he realizes that Colby has absolutely no interest in continuing any sort of relationship, at which point he stops assigning Chu and Colby to gross jobs and starts sending them straight-up deadly ones.
  • While Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog character Dr. Robotnik's status as one would have been debatable since, while sentient, his machines are also easily reassembled and evil by nature, lately this has become more apparent. In particular is when both times the Dark Egg Legion were the only forces he had available to him. The first time he told Dimitri that since Echidnas were in such short supply, he intended to "use" them to the last man, and hoped they proved durable enough that he didn't run out of them too quickly. The second time, when Lien-Da asked him why he would brutally attack them one minute, then rehabilitate and upgrade them the next while praising Lien-Da's ruthless and traitorous practices, he says, with a psychotic grin, "Because it's all part of the game!"
    • In one issue, Espio is infiltrating a base belonging to Robotnik. When he confronts the head robot running the place, it begs for mercy and expresses fear despite the fact that only a small few of Robotnik's lieutenant robots are sentient in any way. Espio grimly notes that this means Robotnik explicitly programs his robots to simulate fear just so he can have fun tormenting them.
  • Mr. Crabbe, the supervisor of the milk men in Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman hates Reid with a deep, abiding passion. Which is not unreasonable—Reid does plenty to earn his hatred. But when he starts trying to shoot Reid simply because Reid has talked the company president into not giving him a well-deserved punishment for wrecking yet another milk-truck, you begin to sense that Crabbe may not be entirely rational about the matter.
  • Malcom LeStrange of Power & Glory, leader of the National Intelligence Agency who created the superhero A-Pex. LeStrange pals with drug dealers, carelessly kills nuns, and bamboozles money from the United Nations' Childrens' Milk Fund.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • Chief Judge Cal routinely berates judges for minor infractions. For example, one judge loses a button from his uniform and is ordered to perform all his duties in his underwear for the remainder of the story arc.
    • When War Marshal Kazan's subordinates screw up or even tell of progress, he sends them to Siberia. With no winter clothing. Later, he gets more creative by ordering the Judge who let Dredd escape, inadvertently causing the destruction of East Meg One, to play a daily game of Russian Roulette.
    • When the Dark Judges still had a Judge force under their clawed thumbs to participate in their campaign to annihilate the living, they eagerly massacred their living minions for various infractions. When the whole civilian population was dead, the four undead ones finally killed the rest of the Judges because they had no more use for them.
  • In one arc of Justice Society of America Classified, Icicle and Wizard put together a new version of the Injustice Society in order to free Johnny Sorrow from an extra-dimensional prison. Sorrow, as it turns out, is a terrible boss, being a megalomaniacal Humanoid Abomination who can kill people merely by exposing his face, and who shamelessly uses this threat to force people to serve him, and the only reason that the Injustice Society agrees to bust him out is because he's holding Wizard's psychic self hostage.
  • New Avengers (2015): The Maker, head of the new mad science institution W.H.I.S.P.E.R., tends to take his minions asking for help with superhero-related problems as an offer to be subjected to whatever new mad experiment he can think of.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert
    • Catbert and the Pointy-Haired Boss, at one point, discuss taking out a life insurance policy on their employees and then creating an emotionally toxic environment as to make people die from stress-related illness, specifically from creating insane rules that raise blood pressure to dangerously high levels, and also inventing a Random Policy Generator to make employees question their own sanity, or claiming that asbestos is safe while wearing a hazmat suit.
    • One Sunday strip went through a list of different kinds of awful bosses, the Pointy-Haired Boss being just one of many. The "perfect" boss is one that dies on a Thursday afternoon since this gives employees a three day weekend.
    • One story arc involved a temporary boss, who was a very angry man-hating woman. And would fire random male workers for no other reason than the fact that they're men. Though with Asok (The Indian employee) it completely backfires.
      "Asok: I am finally a man! This is the happiest day of my life!"
  • Life in Hell gives us an entire list of them. With one exception. The Bad Boss trophy goes to The Psychotic Boss Monster From Hell.
  • Roger's boss JP Pembrook in FoxTrot. At one point, his company was in the red and had to go through a round of layoffs. What does Pembrook do? He gives himself a $300,000 pay raise and makes Roger convince the boardmembers to approve it. On a more petty note, he also insists his employees look bad on company photo days (Roger is exempt since Pembrook believes he can't get any worse) so Pembrook will look better by comparison. He also assigns so much work to Roger that Roger has to bring it home to finish it. Roger doesn't have anyone but himself to blame for this one though: Pembrook does this because he realizes that Roger gets better results when he brings his work home (thanks to Jason catching Roger's mistakes).

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Prunella, Prunella succeeds when sent to the witch's sister because she gives her servants things, and when the witch calls on them to stop her, they retort that Prunella gave them things that the witch didn't.
  • In The Fire-Bird, the Horse of Power, and the Princess Vasilissa, the archer is working for the tsar when he brings him the firebird's feather. The tsar immediately begins to demand more from him on pain of losing his head.
  • In The Grateful Beasts, Ferko is working for the king when the king listens to his brothers' Malicious Slander and starts to devise Impossible Tasks for him.
  • In The Three Aunts, the queen demands that the girl working for her produce an impossible amount of work because other servants claimed she said she could do it.
  • In Catskin, the cook is cruel to Catskin.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown Of Stars: Jinnai has all classic traits: short-tempered, irrational, paranoid, prone to execute whoever displeases him and willing to hold his troops’ families hostages in order to ensure their loyalty.
  • Advice And Trust: Commander Gendo Ikari is prone to make bad choices and blame them on his subordinates. He came up with a bad strategy to defeat Bardiel. Shinji, Asuka and Rei had to go against his orders to triumph, and his reaction was firing his two best pilots rather reprimand them because he was angry at them. When the enemy attacked and Ritsuko got hurt he ordered everything ignoring her because she was "irrelevant". When the two pilots that he had fired returned and helped to defeat Zeruel he got mad.
  • The Dalek Inquisitor General from A Hero is this. It is implied that Daleks are more terrified of him than they are of The Doctor. Dalek Sec was promoted to Dalek Supreme simply because he survived five consecutive missions under the Inquisitor General. No other Dalek ever accomplished that.
  • Batman Beyond Revisited: Chainsaw once brutally killed a henchman for backtalk, and seems to rule over his flunkies with fear.
  • The Child of Love: Gendo Ikari plays with his employees' feelings and motivations to manipulate them, discards them when he considers that they have outlived their usefulness, threatens them with terrible punishments if they do not comply, and is not above of boosting his teenager pilot’s hormones so that she has sex and gets pregnant because he wants to play genetic engineer with her baby, even if it may kill her.
  • Children of an Elder God: Gendo is a jerk who treats his subordinates like garbage, mistreats them, sends them on dangerous missions without warning them previously about the risks, insults them and belittles them rather reprimand them properly, and sacrifices them when it is convenient.
  • Once More with Feeling: Gendo regards his employees as chess pieces, and he isn’t above of coercing them, threatening them, blackmailing them, manipulating them or risking their lives.
  • All Keepers from Dungeon Keeper Ami in spades, being set in the Dungeon Keeper-verse and all. Ami, Sailor Mercury turned Keeper through unusual circumstances, subverts this by being herself, but has to occasionally put up appearances lest any of her harder minions get funny ideas.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series: "I am Marik Ishtar, I like to take control of people's minds and dress in highly effeminate clothing. Also I have an irrational hatred for Gummi Bears. I'm pretty much the worst boss ever."
  • Sben, Big Bad of the Yognapped series (one of them, at least), routinely kills his Peons for moderate transgressions. Justified in most cases, such as when he gouges out a scientist's eyes for badly messing up Martyn's clone and forcing him to alter the plan. Whatever ones aren't justified are just a result of him being certifiably insane.
  • Enemy Of My Enemy: Brute High-Chieftain Torikus, what with casually (and brutally) killing those who fail him or even bring him bad news from the front. It's been established in canon Halo works that most Brutes are like this.
  • Nagas and later Tensombrek in the Tales of Symphonia fanfic Tasks of Spirit. Oh MAN they are bad. It is impressive. Though, to be fair the latter does not kill useful minions. Just everyone else. And the innocents.
  • Hilariously Lampshaded in Arithmancy a Doctor Who/Harry Potter crossover, when the Master, while possessing (for want of a better word. Its a sort of symbiosis) Draco (most of the nasty bits of the Master's personality are gone, due to his original body being long dead) in a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about Voldemort, saying this sort of behaviour was not the way to reward loyal minions. Although, while he might have a point, since the Master (as noted below) is hardly in the running for Boss of the Year he's not exactly in a position to lecture.
  • Commander Sullamander from A Brief History of Equestria, who all too happily kills her underlings for disagreeing with her.
  • Freeza in Dragon Ball Abridged is even worse than he is in canon. He tends to execute his soldiers at the drop of a hat, for anything from "needing an example" to avoiding an awkward conversation. When his soldiers decide to form a union because of this, his reaction is predictable. Finally, it is revealed that he doesn't pay his minions; their payment is being allowed to live. Downplayed because although he executes his soldiers for no reason, he does seem to genuinely care about his stronger minions. He's shocked upon learning of Dodoria's death, ponders how he'll break the news of the Ginyu Force's deaths to their families, and during his fight with Goku outright admits he misses Zarbon.
  • In Shinra High SOLDIER, Hojo's technicians are terrified of him, and are implied to be constantly abused.
  • Ilook from the Azula Trilogy becomes this in "Soul of Fire" when he is loaned three henchmen from Jian Chin to track down Azula. He kills one of his henchmen trying to attack Azula, and kills the other two because they pointed out how much he enjoyed torturing her.
  • Kristoph in Ace Attorney fanfic Dirty Sympathy, who feels free to physically, sexually and emotionally abuse his assistant Apollo since he is the only person who would give him a job and reminds Apollo that he practically owns him and no one would miss him.
  • Necessary To Win, a Saki and Girls und Panzer crossover, found here, has Ceylon, the previous commander of the St. Gloriana tankery team, who is rude and abrasive, belittles the weaker members of the team, and plans on scapegoating Sumiyo for their defeat against Pravda in the semi-finals. In the end, Ceylon gets little satisfaction out of her actions, leaving the team as a pariah.
  • As Eugenesis begins, both sides of the Cybertronian war are stuck with crappy leaders. Galvatron's just brooding on his throne, making schemes that make sense only to him and plotting to kill one of his last loyal troops, while Rodimus Prime is just wasting time with pointless exercises. Meanwhile, the Quintessons have Xenon, who despite being a Well-Intentioned Extremist is perfectly willing to threaten his own people. But as bad as Xenon is, his underling Quantax, the Dragon-in-Chief of the piece, is far worse.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • Ghaldin Rayazo, the creator and master of Apoch and Astreal Ezrana. They suffered so much under his control that they actually ran away to Yokai Academy to find someone strong enough to kill him and free them. When he catches up to them, Ghaldin physically abuses the sisters and outright says that they're nothing but living weapons and tools for him to do as he pleases with. Needless to say, no one is sorry for him when Inner Moka offs him.
    • Fairy Tale has several examples of this:
      • As shown in Act VI, several of Gyokuro's subordinates are scared of her and try to avoid crossing her in any way.
      • The Clone Army of Apoch and Astreal that Fairy Tale created back in Act II suffered so much abuse at their hands that they eventually snapped and turned on them en masse.
      • Kiria has quite the disregard for his own troops. In Act II chapter 25, he deliberately stands by and watches as Dark fights and kills Miyabi, even personally helping Dark by giving him a sword; upon Miyabi's death, he deems it a "necessary sacrifice." Furthermore, a significant chunk of his plan in Act III involves infecting most of his troops with Blackheart, a Psycho Serum that drives those who take it insane and kills them after one hour.
  • Hyrule Warriors Heroes Through Time: While she already displayed such traits in the game itself, Cia takes it even further here by zapping Volga and Wizzro with dark magic lightning whenever they question her orders or simply talk back to her.
  • Queen of All Oni: Filler Villain Anton Mortimer — in keeping with his extreme Otaku tendencies — makes his female Japanese assistant to not only change her name from "Megan" to "Mitsuki" (because it's more Asian), but also forces her to wear a sailor fuku as a uniform. And that's on top of the fact that the fine print of her contract means she can't even quit without him being able to penalize her. Is it any wonder that when she ends up with an Oni mask that she is almost instantly corrupted and tries to kill him?
  • Friendship Is Magical Girls: Sunset Shimmer is an absolute slavedriver to Snips and Snails, constantly verbally abusing and threatening them. She ultimately sacrifices Snails to Chrysalis, and would have done the same to Snips too if Spike hadn't killed him first. Trixie ultimately realizes as well that Sunset has no intention of holding her end of their contract, as well. So she double-crosses her first.
  • Proposed in the Golden Age series as one of the reasons why the Alternian Empire is having so much trouble fighting the United Galaxies. The harsh and volatile leadership common in Alternian society destroys morale and prevents R&D from being developed as quickly, as opposed to the much more forgiving United Galaxies leadership. This is also a major reason why so many trolls have defected.
  • Saetwo's Story has Romelau, who is such an utter sociopathic bully that, as its revealed midway through the story, even his own minions can't stand him, but are too scared to stand up to him. After his defeat, they run off without complaint.

    Films — Animated 
  • Many Disney Animated Canon villains qualify. Among them:
    • Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty was also shown to be a very bad boss to her minions (granted, it isn't surprising due to her being the Mistress of All Evil). A very notable instance of this is when she electrocutes her minions with lightning after she learns that they spent sixteen years searching for a baby, not even being aware that Aurora would age.
    • Ratigan of The Great Mouse Detective, as demonstrated when a drunk henchman sets off his Berserk Button by calling him a "rat." The irony of this is, no matter how much he denies it, he is a rat (literally, not just figuratively) and he's hardly fooling anyone by denying it.
    Ratigan: Oh, my dear Bartholomew... I'm afraid that you've gone and upset me. You know what happens when someone upsets me. (rings bell to summon his Right-Hand Cat)
    • When Fidget suggested for them to cast off excessive weight of their dirigible in order to go faster (he was thinking of tossing their hostage overboard, so he isn't exactly nice guy either), Ratigan complied... by throwing him overboard. Fidget is a bat with a crippled wing.
    • Then there's Captain Hook, who once shot one of his pirates (off-screen) for singing and playing the accordion too loudly. And then threw another (Starkey) overboard for remarking on "no splash" when he sent Wendy overboard.
    • Ursula from The Little Mermaid is an exception. If something bad happens to her eels, then she gets pissed...
      • Considering they were one of the rare Disney instances of subverting Surrounded by Idiots, it might be understandable.
    • Hades in Hercules regularly throttles or flame-broils Pain and Panic. They might not be the sharpest minions out there, but after over ten years you have to wonder if he's just too lazy to find anyone else. Small wonder they're happy to see him get punched into the River Styx.
    "Memo to me, memo to me: main you after my meeting."
  • Sykes from Shark Tale.
  • Lord Shen from Kung Fu Panda 2. He clearly doesn't give a damn about any of the wolf soldiers under his command and is perfectly willing to fire on them to get at the heroes. And when The Dragon objects, he knifes him in the throat.
  • Not as much as you think with Chakal from The Book of Life, surprisingly, though its made clear that the bandits fear him, he only ever grabs his second-in-command Chato in a threatening way once during the course of the film, and the reason behind it is understandable.
  • Soto, the leader of the saber-tooth tiger pack in the first Ice Age-movie

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • Darth Vader, the Trope Namer and the Trope Codifier for You Have Failed Me. While prone to Flanderization, as he only kills two subordinates (in the films anyway), he would have killed the officer that mocked the power of The Force had Tarkin not intervened, and the palpable fear that nearly everyone around him exudes indicates he at least has a strong reputation for this.
    • In Return of the Jedi, Vader indicates that Emperor Palpatine is even worse about this. Moff Jerjerrod's visible reaction gives a good indication of how horrifying that prospect is.
      Moff Jerjerrod: The Emperor's coming here?
      Darth Vader: That is correct, Commander. And he is most displeased with your apparent lack of progress.
      Jerjerrod: We shall double our efforts!
      Vader: I hope so, commander, for your sake. The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.
  • Willie Bank in Oceans 13 treated all of his employees this way, even his right-hand woman, tearing up the thank you card to a one-of-a-kind gift.
    • Which is why it's awesome that he's brought down by his employees (the hostess, the unknowing Sponder, the table people who probably knew something was wrong when people were winning right and left but didn't give a shit, etc.)
  • Brad Wesley from Road House. He beats the stuffing out of one of his Mooks for bleeding too much, and sure enough, the guy still shows up to work for him every day.
  • Casanova Frankenstein in the movie Mystery Men makes the point to the heroes that he is willing to kill his own men for no reason, just to show how tough and insane he is. What made it worse was that the particular Mooks he executed weren't even his own employees, but mercenaries who were temporarily working with him.
  • Bill Lumbergh from Office Space, a passive-aggressive Smug Snake who is especially cruel to Milton, taking his favorite stapler, constantly moving his desk to more and more undesirable locations, oh and laying him off and not telling him about it for several months.
  • Subverted in the first Blade movie: Big Bad Deacon Frost asks a lieutenant, whose losing and subsequent regrowing of arms has been something of a Running Gag throughout the movie, to hold out his hand, ostensibly to test the sharpness of Blade's Cool Sword by cutting his arm off.
    Deacon Frost: [examining Blade's sword] Hold out your arm, Quinn.
    Quinn: 'hy, man? 'Cause they're-they're, like, all better.
    Deacon Frost: Hold out your arm. Now.
    [trembling, Quinn does so; Frost takes aim with the sword]
    Quinn: Deak, I...
    [Frost raises the sword... and lowers it]
    Deacon Frost:: Just kidding.
    [chucks Quinn on the shoulder]
    Quinn: [laughing uproariously] He was fucking with me, man! He was, like...
  • Siegfried in the 2008 Get Smart film is a bad boss, and the film seems very much aware of this trope. In his first scene, he promptly shoots one of his men who questions what seems to be a pointless part of Siegfried's plan (blowing up a warehouse for no apparent reason after stealing stuff from it). This behavior actually has consequences for the bad boss, however, as at the end of the film he's thrown out of his getaway car and off a bridge by his own Dragon after threatening and insulting the guy and his wife repeatedly (once even implying that he intends to replace his dragon with a Rhinoceros, should he fail.). He also continually insults his right-hand man Shtarker, who tells the other goons, "I'd quit, but he's married to my sister." The Dog Bites Back, however.
  • Hans Gruber from Die Hard:
    Hans: Blow the roof!
    Kristoff: But Karl's up there!
    Hans: Blow the roof!
    [blows up the roof]
    • Ironically, blowing up the roof probably saved Karl...
  • The Big Bad Taha Ben Mahmoud from Banlieue 13 is a trigger-happy boss. So trigger happy that his thugs are only in it for the massive money he has. When his hacker minion told him his accounts have been emptied, said minion left and the rest gun Taha down. Even then, he utters this "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner:
    Taha: You all are a bunch of useless dipsh*ts.
    Mooks proceed to gun him down while he points his hands like guns to them.
  • Morris in Big Game shoots one of his Secret Service subordinates in the head and murders the rest by sabotaging their parachute deployment cords so they are unable to protect the president on the ground.
  • Cliffhanger. One of the mooks is injured during the mid-air robbery.
    "What do we do with him?"
    "Send him to the nearest hospital." (throws mook out of the airplane)
  • Commander Kruge from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, who kills his lousy tactical officer when the guy over-performs, destroying a vessel instead of disabling it. The Klingon Promoted guy who takes over knows better than to mess up similarly. Later, however, Kruge is devestated when Kirk orders the Enterprise to self-destruct, killing almost all of Kruge's crew.
  • Shao Kahn of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is very much the Bad Boss, getting rid of Rain and later Jade for having disobeyed or failed him.
  • Clarence Boddicker from RoboCop (1987) when one of his men is shot in a bank heist upon finding him he asks him "Can you fly, Bobby?" He then has him thrown onto a police car that was pursuing them.
  • A similar incident occurs in Beverly Hills Cop III. During the opening truck chase, one of DeWald's accomplices, Taddeo, is winged by Axel and begs for help. DeWald by wordlessly leaning across the stricken henchman, opening the passenger door, and then calmly shoving him out to get run over by the pursuing Axel. Since DeWald doesn't taunt Taddeo it isn't as sadistic as Boddicker, but still pretty callous.
  • In Conan the Barbarian (1982), Thulsa Doom demonstrates his power by ordering one of his worshipers to leap to her death with a gently worded, "Come to me, my child".
  • Kill Bill has several. Bill starts the series by ordering the assassination of a runaway employee...AT HER WEDDING, collateral damage accepted and expected. Budd's boss at the bar he worked at exemplifies a typical, non-murderous yet irrational and petty Bad Boss.
  • Inspector Richard from Kiss of the Dragon. Rather than dive away from a grenade for instance, he just throws a chubby subordinate on top of it. When the hero escapes into a laundry chute but goes up, he tells a man to go after him. The first guy begins to go to the stairs and gets shot, then he grabs a second guy and throws him at the chute. The guy instead starts looking around, but Richard is impatient and pitches him down the chute. By the time Jet Li escapes from the hotel Richard has killed around 60% of his initial crew himself. And much like Kefka and Palpatine, just hanging around him guarantees you'll die. Not bad for a guy who's completely normal, has no superpowers or special skills and the like. He gets away with everything under the sun by being the head of the local branch of Interpol and having agents and normal officers everywhere doctoring evidence and framing other people for it and keeps those in check with blackmail. Considering how much shit would come down on him if any of them stopped protecting him, it REALLY makes his men sticking with him ridiculous.
  • Timothy in The Long Kiss Goodnight receives a call on his radio from a henchman, who sounds badly wounded, saying that he thinks he's dying. Timothy responds "Continue dying", and shuts off his radio.
  • James Bond
    • In Thunderball, the chairs in Blofeld's conference room were rigged to electrocute any underling who displeased him.
      • From the same movie, Emilio Largo has Quist thrown in his shark pool after he failed to kill Bond.
    • In You Only Live Twice, Blofeld had a pool filled with piranhas in his office — complete with a bridge that underlings were forced to cross when they entered and exited.
    • Zorin machine guns a group of his own employees in A View to a Kill, even betraying his Dragon and lover May-Day. She survives long enough to make a Heroic Sacrifice that ruins his plan, and her last words, directed towards Bond, are "Get Zorin for me!"
  • From Mom and Dad Save the World comes this heartwarming scene in which Tod Spengo (Jon Lovitz) asks his mooks which facial hair he should wear to his wedding.
    Tod: Which do you think would be better, goatee or mutton chops?
    Twin Destroyer: Mutton chops, m'Lord!
    Tod: (thinks) Hmm, no. No, I don't think so. Shoot yourself in the head.
    Twin obediently shoots himself in the head.
    • Spengo then decides that muttonchops would look better after all.
  • When Trumpets Fade, an HBO original movie about the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, features a Bad Boss as its protagonist. Private Manning's unit nearly gets wiped out, but Manning survives because he's a coward, so he gets promoted to sergeant and is given command of the raw recruits who are brought in as replacements; he orders one of them to take point on a patrol on his first day, so that Manning can save his own skin. He then leads a group of these same raw recruits to destroy an enemy artillery installation in exchange for a promise that he will be removed from combat duty on psychological grounds if he succeeds. In the course of the mission, one of the two raw recruits, equipped with a flamethrower, runs away, so Manning shoots the fuel tank of the 'thrower, setting the private on fire. While that man is burning to death, Manning turns his pistol on the second flamethrower-equipped private and orders him to charge. While the mission succeeds, only Manning and that one soldier make it back. This gets Manning promoted to lieutenant.
  • In the TV movie Jonny Quest vs. the Cyber Insects, Dr. Zin provides several good examples of how not to treat your henchmen. Specifically, he continually kills them for very minor failures, including two occasions where the executed minion wasn't responsible.
  • When we first meet Synonamess Botch, the Big Bad of Twice Upon a Time, we see him cussing out his vulture minions and telling them not to slack off, which is apparently his idea of a Rousing Speech.
  • Casper: Cathy Moriarty as Carrigan Crittenden does this to Paul "Dibbs" Plutzker (Eric Idle) right up to the point of killing him before getting killed herself.
    "Dibs! This is all your fault, as usual. If you would have just forged the damn will".
    • Actually Carrigan accidentally killed herself while trying to kill Dibbs. Then she kills him since (as a ghost) she no longer needs his services.
  • Horrible Bosses. What do you think it would include? The three horrible bosses mentioned in the movie title include a monster, a rapist, and a hedonist who takes the helm after his father's death.
  • Bamboozled: Thomas C. Dunwitty, the tyrannical vice president of the Continental Network System or (CNS).
    "I don't like to be the laughing stock of the entire broadcast industry. I don't like these pricks who call themselves my bosses breathing down my back. It makes me sweat."
  • Batman Live Action Movies:
    • Jack Nicholson's The Joker from Tim Burton's Batman. When he gets angry at Batman, he asks Bob —his most loyal henchman— for a gun; Bob gives Joker the gun, and the Joker kills him with it, for no reason other than he feels like.
    • Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight is arguably even worse. In the first scene, he has his entire gang slaughter each other, and later plants a phone bomb into one of his men. To even join the gang, there are tryouts which involve having the recruitees fight each other with one-half a broken pool cue.
  • King Malbert from the 2008 animated failure Igor does a poor job at ruling his world.
  • Mr Tinkles in Cats & Dogs locks Calico in a building wired to explode.
    "I want you to wait here."
    "Because I hate you."
  • In the made-for-TV movie Deadly Encounter, Zervasco is chasing Sam and Chis in his helicopter. He lands and an M16-toting henchman gets out and pursues the two on foot. Suddenly Sam's friend Frank swoops down in a biplane and whisks the two to safety. An enraged Zervasco gets back into the copter and takes off after them to resume pursuit... completely forgetting his poor henchman, who just gets left behind.
  • David Hasselhoff's character from Click combines this with The Ace.
  • Elysium: Max's foreman docks him a half-day for coming in late and wanting to work with a bum hand, which is somewhat reasonable but still helps to establish him as a jerk. Later on, he forces Max to walk into a radiation chamber which had already been primed (but not activated) to clear a door jam, leading to Max's irradiation when the door slams shut once the jam is cleared. At least he clearly feels bad about this, but he nevertheless forced Max into an extremely unsafe situation. However, the foreman isn't nearly as bad as Carlyle, who is more concerned about Max ruining the bedding in the medical bay than his condition, and even tells his foreman to cover his mouth so they won't breathe the same air.
  • Pain and Gain: Victor treats his employees at the sandwich shop like crap. They liked their new boss Daniel. Now that Victor runs the place again, he either treats them worse for fires them for liking Daniel.
  • Agent Carter - One Woman Army Peggy Carter is treated as a glorified secretary by her Straw Misogynist boss, Agent Flynn, who believes that her post-WWII placement in the Strategic Scientific Reserve was out of pity for her mourning the loss of Captain America (despite, just from what was seen on-screen in Captain America: The First Avenger, Carter already having a distinguished military/espionage career during the war). Just as Flynn is about to bring the hammer down on Carter for taking on a mission without authorization, he is handed a large slice of Humble Pie in the form of orders for Carter's transfer to command of the fledgling S.H.I.E.L.D organization—along with orders for Flynn himself to inform Carter of the transfer politely and in full view of the other agents.
  • In Lord of Illusions, Nix the Puritan repays his cultists' blind obedience to him and bringing him back from the dead with burying them all alive. No, he's not their or anyone else's shepherd.
  • The first Bad Boys movie gives us French gangster Fouchet, who never had pity for anyone and orchestrated several murders pretty unnecessary. He has one of his men dress up as a police officer to steal millions of dollars worth of heroin from a police station evidence lock up, and then kills him in order to create a distraction. Fouchet kills Eddie, who helped him set the heist up, for partying with some hookers and a tiny portion of the stash, and his chemistry team for "fucking with my schedule".
  • In The Wolverine, Shingen Yashida treats Yukio like crap, despite her faithful service to the Family.
  • In The Great White Hype, Sultan rewards his subordinates but makes it abundantly clear that he is the boss, his word goes and do not piss him off. Wielding a very hefty looking scimitar during a business meeting is not a sign of a nice man. But then, his Expy is somewhat notorious.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: Johann Schmidt, aka the Red Skull, continually shows no concern for the welfare of his men, despite their fanatical devotion to Schmidt,having them chomp cyanide pills when captured to avoid giving out information on him, executing one merely for surviving an attack on a HYDRA base, and activating the self-destruct sequence at another HYDRA base when the Allied forces overrun it, not caring that hundreds of his troops will be killed in the blast
  • Shoot 'em Up: Mr Hertz. Shoots one of his own wounded henchmen because he was using him for cover and his labored breathing was ruining his aim. Also plugs another already wounded-in-the-ass mook in the other cheek because he let a "bum" get away with the baby.
  • In Love Crime, Christine takes all credit for Isabelle's work, and then, when Isabelle tries to get out from under her, she makes her life a living hell of public humiliations. Nor is Isabelle her only victim; it's implied that the last person who held Isabelle's job ended up in a mental asylum.
  • Tank Girl. The Big Bad Kesslee, Up to Eleven.
    • He kills a loyal minion/doctor because she couldn't repair his face. So, downloading him into a holographic projection of his head is somehow an IMPROVEMENT?!
    • He also kills a competent captain of his men, because he hadn't yet captured a small area of land. Maybe if he didn't kill all of his competent people, he would have survived.
  • Two from Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Davy Jones is feared even by the mussels clinging to his ship, which retreat into their shells at the sound of his approach, employs a sadistic Bo'sun to motivate his crew with a whip, and forces a man to whip his own son rather than let said Bo'sun do it.
    Maccus: You'll trust us to act in your stead?
    Jones: I'll trust you to know what awaits should you fail!
    • Blackbeard maintains his crew's fear of him by never letting them see him, employs zombies to keep them in line, burns a man alive for taking part in a mutiny, and plays a Russian Roulette game with his own daughter to force Jack to obey him. His crew are shown to be a lot happier once Barbossa kills Blackbeard and takes over his job.
    Blackbeard: If I don't shoot a man every now and then, they forget who I am.
  • In Soviet spy drama Miss Mend, Chichi the anti-Bolshevik terrorist boss pays a visit to his minions. A chemist tells Chichi about the poison gas he's developing to use against the Soviet Union. After the chemist gives Chichi a gas mask as a precaution, Chichi smashes the flask containing the poison gas. The scientist dies.
  • In Spy, Disk One Final Boss Raina is such a Bad Boss that her security detail is quickly reduced to being entirely CIA moles, the rest being killed for failure. It extends to aspects of being a boss beyond keeping them alive as well. At one point a minion tries to kill her for never remembering his name, angrily declaring that he's called Fredrick... and she still forgets his name mere moments later.
  • In Ninotchka, Komissar Razinin is feared by pretty much all of his underlings, as he has the power to order deportations to Siberia.
  • Under Siege 2: Dark Territory: Mr. Penn rips out the throat of one of his subordinates after the latter suggests just splitting before the hero, Casey Ryback, comes for them.

  • Animorphs:
    • Visser Three who decapitates a subordinate for closing a door too slowly and another for reminding him that bugs exist. He acquired a Yeerkbane, the Yeerks' natural predator, giving him the means to kill subordinates in a Primal Fear way. He is so awful, that members of his army will often pass up promotions because it means working (physically) closer to him. Everyone who works close to him lives in constant fear of his wrath and is extremely careful not to aggravate him or question his orders. It's to the extent that, when posing as a Controller in a situation where Visser One was expecting a group of three, Marco was able to deflect suspicion by claiming, "I think Visser Three killed them for doing something wrong."
      • Ironically, his Bad Boss tendencies actually work to the Animorphs' advantage on multiple occasions. For example, several Yeerks have been suspicious that the Animorphs are humans and not "Andalite bandits," but because Visser Three is firmly convinced that the Andalites would never hand over their morphing technology to other races for any reason, they're too scared to contradict him and thus decide to leave it up to someone else to tell him. Jake even mentions at one point that Visser Three's leadership makes the Yeerks less effective.
    • Greater Scope Villain Visser One is also an example, though she's more the type to pragmatically kill off hosts or subordinates only once they're no longer of use rather than at the drop of a hat as Visser Three does.
  • Interestingly, despite the popular representation of Machiavellianism, The Prince strongly discourages this behavior—abusing and bullying your subordinates for no actual reason will make them hate you, and hatred must always be avoided. You Have Failed Me may be a reasonable practice, but in very limited amounts. Otherwise, Machiavelli encourages a Bread and Circuses way of treating citizens.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Lord Voldemort regularly tortures, abuses and kills his subordinates, even before his initial fall from power. It's his style of leadership. Several characters point out that many of the Death Eaters only returned to him out of fear of what he'd do to them if they didn't; even if they like to taunt people they don't like that they will get theirs when Voldemort returns, and sometimes go on "Muggle hunts" in their Death Eater uniforms, in reality most have pretty mixed feelings about him actually coming back, save for a few fanatics like Bellatrix.
    • Death Eater Yaxley is also a Bad Boss during Voldemort's reign over the Ministry of Magic, as is Barty Crouch Sr. towards his house-elf. During her short tenure as Hogwarts headmistress, Dolores Umbridge is considered a Bad Boss by the rest of the Hogwarts staff (except for Filch).
    • The Malfoys were such Bad Bosses to Dobby that he did everything in his power to stop their plans and immediately attacked Lucius in Harry's defense once he was freed. Dobby is a member of a race of magical beings whose Hat is Undying Loyalty — the Malfoys were just that bad.
    • In a rare good guy example, Sirius Black was a Bad Boss to Kreacher. Mostly because Sirius saw Kreacher as a symbol of his awful childhood in the Black House. Kreacher didn't do himself any favors by continuing to tout the Black family's pureblood rhetoric. Like Dobby, Kreacher would also turn against his master despite being a House Elf and indirectly contributes to Sirius' death.
  • In Masques, Geoffrey ae'Magi is a generally unpleasant person, who also kills his guards for having been tricked by the heroes. In front of the Sex Slave he had been raping beforehand. And he then asks the poor girl to take away the remains of the unlucky guardsman ... it's only ashes, but that makes witnessing the execution only more horrible.
  • Every Redwall villain ever put in print. Tsarmina being the one who also demonstrates skill at winning other-beasts to her side. Swartt Sixclaw is pretty good at getting followers too. Mostly by killing the leader of an already established group and taking over. Good thing too, since he got his followers killed so often. Averted with the Freebooters, who are the only villains in the series who stick with their boss through loyalty. Even when he's dead.
  • Joachim from The Key of Yliaster shows why psychopathic serial killers should not be made into a leader. If you work for him, there are several ways you could get killed off: failing him, annoying him, boring him, ceasing to be useful, or simply for no particular reason at all. He just finds it funny when people die, subordinates or not.
  • Screwtape from The Screwtape Letters is the boss from Hell. It's too bad we never get to see the booklet "on the new House of Correction for Incompetent Tempters" that he sends Wormwood at one point, as a motivational tool.
  • SMERSH in the James Bond novels. Seen most prominently in Casino Royale, and probably not too far off from its real-life counterpart.
    "We cannot see the end of the trouble you have caused."
  • In Shanna Swendson's Enchanted, Inc., Mimi. Why Katie is so eager to jump on the new job.
  • Carl of the Kitty Norville series. In the first book, he sexually abuses his female packmates—including Kitty—and manipulates them in a power game against his wife Meg. When he returns in the fourth book, he's even worse, dragging his pack into a vampiric civil war and killing underlings out of paranoia. It all backfires on him rather spectacularly: two pack members defect to Kitty's side, four more rat out the entire operation when the police catch them, and the remainder decide enough is enough and tear him to pieces at the end of book four.
  • Grahame Coates of Anansi Boys. His key failings as a boss: he always fires employees before they've been employed long enough to qualify for the severance package, saving him considerable money in having to pay it; the one employee who didn't get this treatment ended up being the patsy for his corporate corruption; and he actively revels in speaking in cliches.
  • In Death series: Crime boss Max Ricker from Judgment in Death is very much this. He will kill employees for failing to do their jobs. He smashed an uninvolved robot maid to pieces over a failure of his employees. He wanted to kill a loyal employee, but his lawyer managed to convince him not to—and that he could find another time and place to have that one killed. He is addicted to drugs and has Mood Whiplash that is as disturbing as it comes. It's a wonder that anyone would want to work for this guy!
  • The Grand High Witch from Roald Dahl's The Witches is quite nasty. She'll incinerate you alive if you so much as express any kind of reservation about her plan to wipe out all the children, as one poor Witch learned the hard way. And if you got turned into a mouse yourself, well, tough luck—you're getting squashed under her heel, regardless of whether you were a child (her usual target) or not. She also mistreats her assistant, Miss Irvine, in the movie, culminating in forcing her to stay upstairs and pack for their departure instead of attending the RSPCC dinner. Ironically, this ends up saving Irvine's life - if she's attended the dinner with the other witches, she would've been turned into a mouse and chopped up.
  • Older Than Radio: Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, before his reformation, that is.
  • Scrooge was tame compared to Fagin, another Dickens character (from Oliver Twist). Fagin didn't care at all about members of his gang that were hanged for stealing (the fact that most of them were children only made it worse), but he would do anything in his power to silence one who he thought would rat on him to the authorities.
  • You don't want to work for Ivo Taillebois in The Hereward Trilogy. Most of the time he'll limit himself to shouting and throwing things at you, but no amount of loyal service will stop him sending you to certain death if he has anything to gain by it.
  • The Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Rosemary Hershey in Sweet Revenge is very much this. She is in charge of a company that makes architectural plans and blueprints. Her employees probably didn't like her, but they tolerated her. However, she suffers a Villainous Breakdown that spans the book. During her breakdown, she is practically screaming at her employees to come up with some great architectural blueprints now! When she gets some blueprints from them, she starts yelling at them that a 12-year-old could have drawn up these plans. This is interesting, because Rosemary doesn't really have much expertise in drawing up plans. In fact, she had to rely on plagiarizing the plans belonging to her former boss Isabelle Flanders to get to the position she is at now. She becomes so enraged at what she perceives as incompetence on the part of her employees that she fires them. All of them. Yes, that is how bad her breakdown is.
  • Virgil of Within Ruin definitely qualifies. After violently murdering two Magi with little explanation ("I must uproot the rot among my subordinates") he tells the third to keep in line or face the same. Later he chastises her for having an armed escort greet him at the fortress gates. She had brought the contingent in order to protect him, Virgil didn't see it that way.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the infamous Gregor Cleagne is said to have killed one of his own soldiers for snoring too loudly.
    • Cersei Lannister is not easy to please, and will gladly throw even disappointing family members under the proverbial bus (isn't that right, Lancel?), let alone other people. Once Qyburn gets involved... *shiver*
    • Rasmsy Bolton neé Snow: he and Gregor share some broadly similar management styles. He does rather like flaying as a motivational tool...
    • Subverted with Roose Bolton and Tywin Lannister: they're careful to be OK, if challenging, to work for. Until the minute you screw up with no plausible excuse. At that point, you're several shades of screwed.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Rufus shouts abuse at his goblin employees because they're stupid and get on his nerves.
  • Grocery store owner Mr. Fyowhe in Riesel Tales: Two Hunters. He works his employees hard, pays very little, and is an all-around sarcastic jerk. Good employees are typically rewarded with boxes of cereal.
  • In Daughter of the Lioness, the ruling family of the Copper Isles are invariably this. King Oron is The Caligula, and after him come his daughter and son-in-law Imajane and Rubinyan. They routinely execute underlings who dissatisfy them, slaughter hundreds of raka villages, arrest a popular and powerful noble for saying they should ease up on the oppression a bit, kill Oron's child successor, and easily fall for fake evidence of an affair by Rubinyan that results in Imajane beating the innocent woman.
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, Jack Frost can't stand his goblins, especially when they mess up.
  • The Supervisor at Iotech makes a show of caring for The Man With The Terrible Eyes, but he sees him as something he can experiment with, spy on, and eventually kill if he needs to.
  • It didn't matter if you were a rebel or a minion of The White Witch she'll turn anyone into stone if they piss her off.
  • The Destroyermen series has Captain Kurokawa. The Imperial Japanese Navy was known for its harsh corporal punishment, but even they find it extreme to let savage alien lizards cook and eat some of your guys from time to time. Kurokawa has no such inhibition.
  • Darth Vader learned from the best. In Dark Lord—The Rise of Darth Vader, Vader suspects that Darth Sidious had his life support and armour constructed with outdated, ill-fitting technology to punish him for needing it in the first place. Sidious considers either sending Vader to Naboo and Mustafar or just killing him as further punishment for failing to kill Obi-Wan. Instead he gives him a scathing verbal beatdown.
  • The B-plot of Pegasus in Flight revolves around a major construction project whose overseer, Ludmilla Barchenka, is extremely demanding and has a pronounced tendency to cut corners — particularly when it comes to safety equipment for the workers — in her determination to get the job done "on time" (although it's widely suspected that by this she means "quickly enough for me to earn a fat early-completion bonus"). The construction workers turn to Bothering by the Book to get their own back, and in the end the project is completed exactly on time.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24:
    • Although she's never outright killed anyone, Erin Driscoll (the boss of CTU in season ) is by all accounts a horrible, horrible boss. This is a literal example of a "bad boss." She starts out by firing Jack from his job at CTU (even though his actions saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people) because she thought he was a drug user. She then (in the space of 12 hours) fires one of the two halfway competent programmers in the building, makes bad decisions, gets security to taser an innocent employee (then forces her back to work, then fires her for complaining about being illegally detained and tortured), orders Jack to stop his rescue attempt of the Secretary of Defense (which he ignores anyway), tells a grieving man (who just found out his mother is dying) to suck it up and go back to work, and finally ignores her schizophrenic daughter's pleas for help, as Driscoll is keeping her confined in the CTU medical wing. The fact that the Secretary of Defense pulls rank and asks her to leave is a sigh of deep relief.
    • Surprisingly an Averted Trope by the terrorists. Most terrorist masterminds tend to take the suggestions of their subordinates into consideration, and step back to reevaluate when their subordinates ask them to look at the bigger picture.
  • All Creatures Great and Small: Angus Grier is a drunken bully who humiliates his employees for kicks.
  • Almost Live!: This Seattle-based sketch comedy once did a bit set in an office where the bad-tempered bully of a boss gets promoted, and his replacement is a box of snakes. Eventually the box gets promoted as well and replaced with the greatest horror of all: a guy who sells Amway.
  • Babylon 5:
    • The insane Emperor Cartagia, among other things, kept the severed heads of advisors who gave "unappreciated" advice, in a room all their own, and killed his court jester for making the wrong joke. His plan of ascension to godhood involved the destruction of the entire Centauri Homeworld. He was completely out of his mind. It's worth noting that one of the advisers was killed because he had a "most annoying cough."
    • Only slightly better: Ulkesh, the second Vorlon ambassador, whose treatment of his human aide Lyta included forcing her to throw away all her possessions to "avoid distractions", making no attempt to avoid Mind Raping her when he Body Surfed her, Agony Beaming her whenever anything vaguely annoyed him, and Punching Her Across The Room when she attempted to telepathically scan him. The emotional subtext approached Domestic Abuser.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Admiral Helena Cain: a sick, twisted bitch, even by Battlestar standards. For instance, her original XO refused to give a near-suicidal order - her response was to shoot him in the head in front of the entire CIC.
    • In the forgettable episode "Black Market", the head of the black market Phelan shoots one of his henchmen in the head simply so that Lee can close his case without uncovering more dirt and disrupting his operation. He does this in plain view of his other henchmen as well.
  • Breaking Bad: Thrives on this. Tuco Salamanca beats one of his henchmen to death for reminding Jesse Pinkman and Walter White who they work for; in his first appearance he beats Jesse senseless for trying to sell his meth at too high a price. Gus Fring kills Victor in full view of Jesse and Walt to send them a message and keep the police from tying him to Gale Boetticher. When Walt continues to help Hank Schrader, Gus puts out a hit on Hank and threatens to kill Walt's entire family if he interferes. Don Eladio Vuente, head of the Mexican cartel, murders Gus' meth distributing partner before allowing him to work for the cartel, and may have been blackmailing Gus ever since. In season 5, we have Walt himself.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Angelus in the second season. He gets amazing enjoyment out of emotionally torturing a crippled Spike.
    • The Master was also terrible, probably made worse over being trapped underground and powerless and unable to take his frustration out on anyone but his own servants. He overused You Have Failed Me and snapped at his servants constantly. He mellowed out a bit after everyone except The Anointed One died.
    • In Season 2 Spike sacrifices a vampire mook on two separate occasions ("School Hard" and "Halloween") just to get an idea of how the Slayer fights. The following season these henchvamps are working for the Affably Evil Mayor of Sunnydale, and make a point of telling Spike how their lot has improved since he left town.
    • Glory, the Big Bad of season 5, tends to spend most of her screen time with her minions openly insulting or beating her minions, who all have Undying Loyalty to her regardless. Of course, since she's also a Mood-Swinger, she switches from treating them like scum to coddling them in the blink of an eye.
    • As Warren gets darker, he dominates Andrew and Jonathan, reserves all of the gadgets and artifacts they steal and/or make for his use alone, and ultimately leaves them to take the fall.
    • The Swell kill all of their human and demon minions.
    • Wolfram & Hart, and their unforgiving treatment of their employees. There have been such reports as sacking employees using actual sacks, forcing them to eat their own livers, and performing random telepathic scans to root out any disloyal workers and execute them on the spot. Furthermore, in the fifth season premier of Angel, Knox tells Fred that on one occasion, when an employee was fired, he was literally set on fire.
    • Jacob Crane, the evil restaurant owner in the Angel season 5 episode "Unleashed" who has Nina Ash captured with the intent to serve her for dinner, flat-out tells Angel that he's perfectly willing to let his mooks die.
    • Angel himself became an example after he and his crew took over Wolfram & Hart during Angel season 5, though in his defense, most of the employees are bad guys in servitude to the Senior Partners, his sworn enemies; by the time of the sixth episode of the season, it's noted that Angel has killed several of the employees, as well as their clients, and that all of the other employees are terrified that Angel's going to off them next. In the episode "Harm's Way," he called a demon employee into his office and promptly chopped his head off with an axe because said employee violated the zero-tolerance policy on killing humans that Angel had instated.
  • Charmed: Demons are quick to kill their underlings for even the slightest infractions. They'll even kill their underlings for not saying exactly what they want to hear at the time. About the only way a demon can hope to last long is by having a skill that's really hard to replace.
  • Dinosaurs: B.P. Richfield is often mean and intimidating to his employees. In one episode, he informs Earl that WESAYSO wanted to provide an incentive for the most trees pushed down, and Richfield's suggestion (shot down by the higher-ups, of course) was to harm them. In another episode, Richfield makes his employees work overtime at the last minute (and without extra pay). In another episode, at a company picnic Earl talks about the importance of family over work, and as a result Richfield wants to eat Earl (but is stopped upon learning he could still be useful to the company).
    • In one episode, he fires Earl for getting injured on the job, after being sued for 80,000,000 dollars and after Earl comes by to show off (and jokingly warnhobs him to be careful or else he'll sue him again) uses the opportunity as an excuse to fire the other employees and raise prices, putting the blame on Earl. Later on, Robbie talks Earl into giving him back the money in exchange for hiring back all the laid off employees and lowering prices, which he refuses, and after Earl accidentally crashes a golf cart into his trailer, Richfield fakes an injury so he can sue him for the money back. While he wins, the judge also orders him to rehire everybody and lower prices as well.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Master has a persistent tendency to kill anyone who even remotely qualifies as a henchman. Notable examples include his first appearance in Terror of the Autons where he kills a mildly disobedient henchman with a plastic chair, and "The Sound of Drums" where his first act as Prime Minister is to gas his entire cabinet. The only discernible reason he does this is because he's just that twisted.
    • Played with in "The Bells of St John", where a boss recommends killing an employee...but quickly adds to wait until he returns from his upcoming holiday, because she doesn't want to be unreasonable.
  • Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23: Subverted Trope in the episode "Sexy People ..." Chloe walks into the offices of People magazine and takes over the production of the annual "Sexiest Man Alive ..." issue to get James on the cover in order to prove to June that she's a sheep who follows trends. She does her best Miranda Priestly, firing the first two people who ask her questions, constantly bullying another employee, drawing penises on the whiteboard and trying to throw things through the window to make her points. However, at the end it turns out that one senior editor picks the cover boy every year, completely ignoring the staff's suggestions.
  • Elementary:
    • Moriarty has a habit of eliminating henchman, not only when they fail but when it suits an agenda. In "M" Moriatry betrays Moran to Holmes in the hopes that Holmes will kill him; and in in "The Woman" has Isaac Procter kill a man who served as a Body Double, sends assassins after Procter, and then kills him personally.
    • Charles Augustus Milverton in "Dead Man's Switch" killed his blackmailing partner, Abraham Zelner/Stuart Bloom, for demanding a raise.
  • Engine Sentai Go-onger:
    • Prime Minister Yogoshimacritein. Not only does he uses the Quirky Miniboss Squad as human shields twice and fires them at our heroes as missiles—or even because he indiscriminately fires in their direction, he also he fires RIGHT THROUGH THEM to hit our heroes.
    • Most Super Sentai BigBads count as this trope, but this is a particularly harsh whiplash since Yogostein, his son, was genuinely nice to his followers. The same son Yogoshimacritein denounces as a useless failure when he appears, mind.
  • Firefly:
    • Adelai Niska, a psychotic crimelord introduced in the episode "The Train Job," makes a point of showing his new hires the beaten, bleeding body of... his nephew. Indeed, after the crew of Serenity renege on their deal with him after learning that the job in question was denying the citizens of Paradiso some much needed medicine and put his Dragon Crow through the ship's engines, Niska takes revenge by capturing Mal and Wash and putting them to the torture in "War Stories," prompting a furious Castle Storm by the rest of the crew to get them back. Many crimelords in all genres and (gasp) Real Life make a point of being cruel to perceived enemies.
    • He goes on to explain that reputation is nothing is you don't back it up with reality. He feels that being known as a torturer is not enough to motivate underlings. Being seen as one shows you he's serious.
  • Game of Thrones: Ramsay Snow, during a twisted variant of Good Cop/Bad Cop, kills five of his "bad cop" henchmen merely to mess with the mind of his captive, who believes Ramsay is rescuing him.
  • The Good Guys: The pilot has a drug lord who insults his bodyguards, pays a flunky who handles million dollar drug deals for him "less than he pays his pool boy" and constantly reminds Pedro that the guy is only the "second best assassin in the world" and has him do gun tricks as entertainment. It is hardly surprising when his men are not very loyal to him.
  • Heroes:
    • Arthur Petrelli in Volume 3. When Maury Parkman protested against his plan to kill Matt, Arthur responded by telekinetically snapping his neck on the spot.
    • Emile Danko of Volume 4. Especially in the online comics and mini-series, where he's shown pushing his men to the brink and also sending them into potentially hazardous situations blind with poor intel. Plus it's implied that he's fed two of his men to Sylar so Sylar could assume their identities, as well as setting things up so that one of the personnel would end up killed by Tracey Strauss in an escape orchestrated by him to prevent an implied shutdown of the division by the government.
      • It should be noted that when push came to shove, Danko's men were completely prepared to believe that he'd cracked and shot his own men, rather than believing Danko's story of shapeshifting killers, despite knowing that such things are entirely possible. Apparently that's the sort of reputation you get amongst your co-workers when you enlist them to fake attacks on your own citizens by the enemy.
  • Hogan's Heroes:
    • General Burkhalter is definitely this to Colonel Klink, constantly humiliating and insulting him both in private and in front of others, and threatening to court-martial him, shoot him, transfer him to the Russian Front, or even all three!
      • To a lesser extent, Klink is also this to this Sergeant Schultz, although he really is more of a Pointy-Haired Boss.
  • House:
    • Has Edward Vogler from the first season. His first act as board chairman is forcing House to fire one of his team, ostensibly for budget reasons, as a sick test of obedience.
    • House himself, however, is horrible to work for. Several characters have noted that prolonged employment by—or contact with—Dr. House has a corrupting influence on the soul. In early Season 4, Foreman can't get work anywhere else because of the behaviors he's picked up from House.
  • Naeturvaktin: Georg from this Icelandic comedy is an arrogant, dictatorial bully to his employees, particularly Ólafur. He steals their pay, ignores their complaints, and takes every opportunity to belittle or torment them, often accompanying the abuse with an explanation that it's all somehow for their own good.
  • Revolution:
    • Captain Jeremy Baker in episode 3. He sends his men into the field for the sole purpose of forcing the enemy to waste bullets cutting them down, and fails to anticipate an ambush...not once, but twice.
    • General Monroe himself. By the season 1 finale, most of his best men have either been killed at his own hands due to his rampant paranoia about being betrayed (episode 14, episode 17) or have deserted him because of witnessing this (episode 13, episode 19).
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Captain (LORD!!!) Garth of Izar from the episode "Whom Gods Destroy". He tells Kirk that he's developed a bomb that could possibly destroy an entire planet. What does Garth do to demonstrate its power? He sends his minion Marta, who he just made his consort, outside the asylum, which has a poisonous atmosphere, and blows her up with a portion of the the explosive that he implanted in her necklace. The explosion is so violent, it shakes The Enterprise, which is in orbit. (The guy was clearly in an insane asylum for a reason...)
  • Supernatural:
    • Lucifer fiercely despises the demons, his own creations, even more than he does humans. He sacrifices around a hundred of them to raise the Horseman Death, dismissing them as cannon fodder afterwards when he sees Sam's shocked face. He maintains a facade of being their savior leading them to victory over Heaven, but it increasingly becomes clear that he plans to exterminate them all after he has destroyed the Earth with their help.
    • The Horseman Famine readily kills his demon minions. He kills one for not getting him his lunch (a human soul) on time and sends two more to collect Sam so he can capture them instead and drink their blood. He offers the rest to Sam as well and eats them when Sam refuses to indulge him.
    • The Big Bad Leviathan leader Dick Roman really deserves the "Dick" part when it comes to his treatment of his own staff and kind. Off course one wouldn't expect anything else from a species of eternally hungry Eldritch Abomination, but his enjoyment in punishing anyone who displeases him in any way appears to exceed his desire for his kind to conquer the earth and devour humanity. At one point he forces one of his scientists to "bib" and devour himself when his attempts at turning humans docile and apathetic (and thus easier to farm and eat) had a 0.03% chance of other humans becoming rage-filled cannibals, while in another episode he eats an unlucky leviathan who failed to retrieve a package replaced with a borax bomb (the only thing that hurts Leviathans, at least temporarily).
    • Joyce Bicklebee from the episode "Out With The Old", is a smaller example, a Leviathan posing as a real-estate agent whose irritability led her to eating four of her assistant who displeased her and ordering around her latest one like a dog on a leash. It's really no surprise when the current assistant switches sides by helping the brothers dispose his superior when the opportunity presented itself and giving them information on the Leviathan's intents.
  • Played for Laughs with Louie De Palma from Taxi. He frequently berates and bullies his employees, he's sold cab parts on the black market and let his assistant, Jeff, take the heat (he had no idea Jeff would actually get arrested, but still...), and he frequently hits on, and sexually harasses Elaine Nardo, who clearly finds him repulsive at best.
  • Warehouse 13: Walter Sykes, the Big Bad of the third season, is this in spades. If you fail him, he'll roll another Evil Plan and arrange to dispose of you. If you succeed, he no longer has any use for you and has you offed anyway. As it happens, it's just another facet of the corruption of the Collodi Bracelet turning him into a monster.
  • Lexx: His Divine Shadow may be the worst boss on this page. Interrupting his meditation with news of a security breach is punishable by death. In that specific case, he not only ordered the poor general's death, he immediately orders the major who executed him to kill herself right afterwards. One admiral was willing to risk colliding with a Negative Space Wedgie rather than disobey a direct order from His Divine Shadow, since there was at least a chance of surviving the Negative Space Wedgie. Justified since His Divine Shadow's true agenda is the complete extermination of humanity. He doesn't really need an excuse to kill humans. At the end of the first season, he even went so far as to kill the Divine Predecessors, the brains of his former hosts, since he didn't need them anymore after reuniting with his original Insect body.
  • Not in Real Life, but Alton Brown sometimes portrays himself this way on Good Eats. To the point where in a couple of episodes, his crew went on strike, and once they marooned him on a deserted island which turned out to be O'ahu.
  • In The Tribe, as season 4 progresses it becomes increasingly clear that everyone in the Technos lives in fear of Ram. He constantly executes various mooks for the smallest failure and Siva admits that she's terrified he'll use her brain as processing power for his virtual reality games as well.
  • The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Bully" features a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing whose abusive treatment of her employees is secretly recorded by one of them, who then has them leaked to the media. The boss ends up Convicted by Public Opinion and Driven to Suicide.

  • In the Vocaloid song Evil Food Eater Conchita by mothy, the titular character eats her fifteenth chef just for asking her for a vacation, and it's likely that some of her previous chefs met the same fate. And then she eats her maid and butler for no real reason beyond still being hungry.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Vince McMahon is pro wrestling's patron saint of Bad Bosses. His "Mr. McMahon" persona is a vile, greasy individual who does everything he can to harass, antagonize, and screw around with his employees just so he can feel like he's in control. Often gets his comeuppance from individuals who aren't afraid of his power.note 
    • Among his worst moments have been indefinitely suspending Ashley Massaro for spilling coffee on his suit (and then mocking her when she burst into tears); siccing his son and Triple H (his son-in-law) on Randy Orton, stalker-style, to the point that Triple H broke into Orton's house and smashed up his front window (and that was when McMahon was a face!); pulling down his pants and making various Superstars literally "kiss his ass" in order to prove their loyalty to him; and firing Jim Ross for refusing to apologize for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin "Stunning" all four members of his family, right after his wife Linda kicked Ross in the crotch, as if that weren't punishment enough. On that same night, Vince's anger at what had happened to him and his family was so boundless that he made a point of temporarily "hiring" every man, woman and child in North America, just so he could loudly "fire" them all on-camera.
  • Eric Bischoff is WCW's equivalent of Mr. McMahon, allying himself with the nWo to ensure his faction would always have the upper hand both in and out of the ring.
  • Prince Nana was supposedly a benevolent boss to Ring of Honor's Embassy, spending excessive amounts of money on them, except for Jade Chung. He mainly kept her around to act as Jimmy Rave's footstool.
  • Jimmy Jacobs has a history of it. From abusing Delirious after manipulating him into The Age Of The Fall, to abusing Adam Page after strong arming him into Decade, to order Eddie Kingston to destroy his own mooks in the Chikara\Wrestling Is FLOOD.
  • The Last Real Man Silas Young forced The Beer City Bruiser to be a bad boss to Dalton Castle's boys, after Bruiser acquired them, on account of the boys being unmanly.

  • In The Men From The Ministry, the head of the General Assistance Department Sir Gregory Pitkin is very tend of hitting One and Two or throwing something at them after they've messed up greatly on their assigments.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Commonly invoked in Warhammer 40,000 for Imperial Guard leaders. At this point, it is difficult to determine if they are the exceptions or the rules. Most protagonists tend to avoid the trope, but almost always have to deal with other Imperial Guard leaders that do fit the trope. The Commissars are infamous for being this. Most of the time they would kill a guardsman for cowardice to get others back in line, but there are times that they would shoot an individual for something like uniform violation.
    • And if you think the IG chain of command is bad, you should take a look at Chaos leaders. In general, unless you are willing to ruthlessly sacrifice anyone and anything that you control in order to achieve your goals, you cannot make it as a Chaos Lord. Some of them also kill underlings for other reasons, such as to enforce discipline, or to punish treachery, or because they're bored, or simply because they can.
    • Your average Ork Warboss would normally throw insults, or beat up any Ork smaller than him, though Ork society is always about being the biggest and the strongest while many Ork Klanz usually get a cybernetic prosthetic (free of charge) whenever their arms are broken.
    • Abbadon the Despoiler, Warmaster of Chaos. This guy was a nasty piece of work before he decided that worshipping eldritch horrors from his universe's equivalent of Hell was a good idea. He is a huge advocate of the Darth Vader method for dealing with subordinates who have failed to carry out his bidding. Heck, the guy blows up entire warships just because the captain displeases him. Maybe that's why all thirteen of his "black crusades" against the Imperium have failed and that not only is he fanonically considered a massive General Failure, he is also considered by several Chaos warlords to be an incompetent coward unworthy of commanding the forces of the ruinous powers. He remains Warmaster because no one else is strong enough to take the position from him. His failings as a leader aside, he's still one of the most powerful warriors in the setting. His tabletop stats reinforce this: he's a great close-combat unit but he's a lousy commander who barely buffs his army.
    • All completely overshadowed by Commander Kubrik Chenkov of Valhalla. He routinely clears minefields for tanks by ordering his men to run into them, he orders them into melee combat with enemy forces to bog them down so he can blow them all up with artillery, distracted a fortress from demolition teams breaching it by having platoons of soldiers attack it head-on, ended a year-long siege of a citadel by having stormed without siege or artillery (costing ten million troops their lives), and the man once had one million of his own men executed to create a dam with their bodies. His regiment, the Tundra Wolves, has been reformed more than a dozen times while this guy has been in command due to ridiculous casualties. Oh, and because this is the Imperium of Man we're talking about, he is routinely awarded spadefuls of medals and commendations for winning quickly with these brutal tactics.
    • Darnath Lysander of the Imperial Fists in recent stories is shown to be a very bad boss. He took command of his chapter's 3rd company after their captain was killed in action. He led them to victory while they were completely surrounded and were nearly annihilated. It wasn't until after that the 3rd company discovered reinforcements from friendly forces had been available, and that Lysander had refused, letting his men fight and die out of stubborn pride. This wasn't unnoticed and he was demoted by the chapter master for the incident. In truth he wanted to punish him more harshly but feared it would cause a split in the chapter since a good deal of them thought it was heroic.
    • Perturabo's first act when put in charge of the Iron Warriors was to order literal decimation - one in ten was killed for failing to live up to his standards - and got steadily worse as he fell to Chaos.
  • The Computer in Paranoia is not just a bad boss to the entire Alpha Complex, it's an insane paranoid one, and the human-staffed bureaucracy under it reflects this at every turn.
    • This is a traitorous lie spread by mutant commie traitors. The Computer Is Your Friend, citizen. Report immediately to your nearest Termination Booth. Have a nice daycycle!
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The philosophy of the color Black is summed up as Power at a Price. It's willing to do anything to win... and sacrificing monsters/it's minions is a common cost to play spells and abilities. Other colors have the sacrifice a creature cost too, but it's less often and their "flavor" changes by color. For Red it's carelessness, for White self sacrifice, and for Green it's natural selection.
    • Nicol Bolas opens up the first chapter of Alara Unbroken by using his magic to melt one of his minions' minds, turning the poor guy into a babbling lunatic. Tezzeret and Sarkhan Vol don't fare much better. Tezzeret hates working for Nicol Bolas and longs to be free of him. Sarkhan Vol lost his sanity because Nicol Bolas ordered him to guard the Eye of Ugin. As his sanity fell apart, Sarkhan wondered why he ever thought worshipping that "flameless dragon" was a good idea.
  • Not uncommon in Dungeons & Dragons adventures, fanfics, etc.; demon generals and other epic - level Always Chaotic Evil types often slaughter their own minions for thrills, sport, or out of frustration. Most of the lower - level Always Chaotic Evil types are Explosive Breeders relative to comparable good aligned races, in order to counter their high mortality rate. In fact, in Planescape the bottom level planar mooks spontaneously reincarnate.
    • In fact, in the 4th Edition, pit fiends (the devils that make up the bulk of the ruling class of Hell) have an ability called Irresistable Command, which basically lets them use any devil that is weaker than they are like a bomb against its foes (killing the devil used as such in the process, of course). This ability is usable once at will (meaning once per combat round) and is limited only by the number of minions they are willing to sacrifice. (The section where its combat tactics are explained even suggests two clever ways it uses this ability, suggesting that they tend to be quite liberal with it.)
    • Lawful Evil entities have a high tendency to fall under this trope, but are generally less obvious. Rather than blatantly following through with it, they tend to just place their minions in situations where failure is guaranteed.
  • In Chez Geek, you may get stuck with a "Bad Boss" card that increases the amount of Slack Points you need to win the game.
    Flavor Text: "When it's your funeral, you can have a day off."
  • Used in-universe in the Shadowrun game-setting, in which the top-rated independent TV show is called I Hate My Boss. Given how thoroughly the Mega Corp. mindset has taken over society, it's considered an extremely subversive program and airs only on pirate stations.
  • BattleTech the Clan Trueborns are very smug to other warriors. They consider Freeborns as inferior, and older warriors (anyone above 30) passed their prime as cannon fodder. The warrior caste as a whole consider the other castes as dispensable and wouldn't mind leaving them for dead, or spacing them when they don't have enough room for their spoils.
    • In fact, the Clans have entire units, called solahma, that are places to put old or deficient warriors, where they are specifically expected to give their lives in hopeless battles to buy time for the "real" warriors.
  • Any high-ranking vampire in The World of Darkness is almost guaranteed to be this. Not only is the Camarilla a hive of corruption full of cronyism, nepotism and petty backstabbing, but many vampires simply consider it a Rite of Passage to abuse the neonates. The only upside is that, at least, you're not working for the Sabbat.
    • Note that this isn't much better with the other supernatural factions in The World of Darkness setting, either. As a general rule, as a character gets older, he is likely to become more powerful, to gain status, and to increasingly lose his grip on his Morality and sanity. As a result, your boss is likely to be among the most powerful, most respected, and most insane people alive. Note that this is also true for the Player Characters.
    • Also true in the new Vampire setting as well, though to a somewhat lesser extent. This is because the Covenants of the New World of Darkness tend to work to mitigate the peculiarities of elder vampires, rather than simply giving them the run of the show.
  • Emperor Hantei XVI from Legend of the Five Rings may be one of the most prolific examples, if not the greatest. Aside from more standard atrocities like killing all of his siblings to eliminate potential rivals to the throne, or humiliating a political rival and taking his daughter as his concubine, Hantei XVI also regularly rooted out conspiracies against him (many of which didn't exist until his actions created them) and slaughtered large swaths of people for even minor slights. In the end, it was his own honor guard that took him down, right after he had Hida Tsuneo kill his own mother in an extremely gruesome fashion.
    • Some certainly see Empress Iweko I as this, as well. After helping to thwart the forces of Kali-ma, the Spider Clan was awarded official Great Clan status by the Empress, against the protests of pretty much every other Clan. When she also made them her Right Hand in place of the Lion Clan, they committed seppuku en masse in protest.
    • A number of daimyos and other samurai lords can fall into this trope, usually because they're some combination of incompetent, corrupt, or brutal in their methods.

  • Craig's Wife: Harriet is such a housecleaning Nazi that she makes life miserable for her domestics, and the household staff has a high turnover rate. When Mrs. Harold tells Harriet that she is leaving with Miss Austin, she also tells Harriet that the employment agency won't be sending over any new help, as Harriet keeps firing them all. Harriet fires Maizie for leaving out a business card in the wrong place.

    Video Games 
  • Every Templar in the Assassin's Creed series. The biggest being Cesare Borgia.
  • The Big Bad of Tales of Symphonia, Mithos, or called Yggdrasil by everyone but his companions from the Kharlan War, does this with Pronyma, almost at the end of the game. You engage in a battle with said minion and wound her pretty bad. Pronyma then begs for help from him. He ignores her plea as he is too excited from reviving his dead sister, Martel. Pronyma then begs again, but this time she calls him Mithos, that makes him ultra mad for some reason and proceeds to kill Pronyma with a ball of mana.
  • Luca Blight from Suikoden II sets the bar for this trope, punishing and/or killing any of his men for so much as hesitating in battle or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, and having no qualms about needlessly sacrificing his own men. An example of his inhumanity is in the beginning of the game, where he, in order to justify starting a bloody war with a neighboring nation, betrays and slaughters his own completely innocent youth brigade. The only regret that he has towards this unbelievably heinous act is that he himself didn't participate in the massacre, in order to practise his swordsmanship, and his men are still willing to sacrifice their lives for him, even when Luca Blight faces utter and complete defeat.
  • Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI would gleefully take the chance to kill any of his own men, just for the sake of amusement. This wasn't even just limited to his own henchmen. Even being in the same organization as Kefka was a death sentence, as General Leo and Emperor Gestahl discovered, or being on the same planet as he is, thanks to his Omnicidal Tendencies.
  • World of Warcraft has Garrosh Hellscream during his reign as Warchief. The orc race's motto is normally "Victory or death!" as in, "we will succeed or die honorably trying". Garrosh's motto is...also "Victory or death!" but the way he phrases it, it actually means "If you don't succeed, I'LL KILL YOU!" This eventually turns the majority of the Horde against him.
    • Lots of big bads and bosses in WoW do this. The Old Gods are notorious for it. They even got rid of their most powerful ally (Deathwing) simply because he wasn't needed anymore. You DO NOT want to work for these guys. Of course, most people aren't given a choice since they will mind control you or induce insanity with no reservations. Further justified in Deathwing's case since he was still a Dragon Aspect. Deathwing's very existence was an obstacle to them.
  • Both played straight and subverted in Disgaea. Prinnies, in the Netherworld at least, are treated as easily replaceable slaves/cannon fodder that face horrible work conditions for minimum wage (this is how it's supposed to work, though, as Prinnies are usually in Hell for being rat bastards). The subversion is with Kricheveskoy and Laharl; accounts from the vassals, particularly Etna, imply that King Kricheveskoy was actually a very good boss, which is part of the reason why Laharl's Bad Boss tendencies don't to go over very well with them - Well, and because they know that Laharl doesn't really have the heart to do worse than snark at them for it.
    • Etna, on the other hand, has no such issues. She can - and, as any of the Prinny Squad can tell you, WILL - abuse her Prinnies for any reason at all. When her level tanks as a result of a summoning she helped botch, the Prinnies take that as the perfect opportunity to seek new management. Yukimaru even points out how badly they're willing to fight just to stay out from under Etna's heel.
    • And if you thought she was bad, Void Dark from Disgaea 5 is even worse. The Lost run on a principle of "obey or die" when conquering Netherworlds, but even obedience isn't enough to sate his madness; by the time you first see him, he's on his eighty-third secretary, who speaks for him just before he splatters a slime for delivering bad news regarding Blood Parch. And the kill count only rises from there. Citing another instance, Brutall Beast Overlord Gradrius VI and his ilk attack Void Dark directly while his eighty-fifth secretary addresses him; his response is to charge a death ball, sucking said secretary into it, before flinging it at the enemy, obliterating them and their Netherworld, and he doesn't give a damn about the secretary or any Lost forces garrisoned on Brutall Beast.
  • If you don't immediately kill every Helghast you come across in Killzone 2, you'll hear from some soldiers about how Colonel Radec executed some of his own men for dress code violations.
    • Somewhat averted by the fact that one of the Higs agrees with him, saying something like "The uniform is the base of every form of discipline."
  • In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, if you kill enough stormtroopers in the level where you play as Darth Vader, you get the achievement Worst Dayshift Manager Ever.
  • Saren in Mass Effect exhibits no concern whatsoever for his friends or allies, to the point of feeding an underling to a sapient, telepathic plant to foster communication. Justified because his ship has mind control powers, but at the end it's revealed he's gotten Hoist by His Own Petard, since the ship itself is sapient, controlling him, and every bit the Bad Boss itself.
    • The Reapers as a whole fit this trope. Look at what they did to The Collectors. There's also the horror of indoctrination, which is how they become bosses in the first place.
    • Nassana Dantius from Mass Effect 2, who orders the murders of all of her employees out of paranoia. And it's hinted that if anyone leaves her service before their contract is up, she has them murdered as well.
    • Zaeed when he was the Blue Suns commander is perfectly willing to send his comrades to the grinder or sacrifice a lot of civilians because he don't care about anything but himself, Jessie and his paycheck. It's implied in the Shadow Broker's profile on him that his willingness to get his men killed and his complete lack of charisma was directly responsible for the Blue Suns betraying him. However, his talent for throwing his allies into the grinder is implied to be a major part of how he's been able to survive deadly situations.
    • And Shepard can be played a bad boss as well. At one end of the spectrum, you can play favorites with crew, date (fraternization) within military ranks, and/or just be an ass with whoever speaks to you. On the other end of the spectrum, you can promote the belief that EVERYONE is expendable, not care about anyone except yourself and your mission, and kill certain members when the opportunity arises because you don't like them.
  • Dead Rising 2 has Reed and Roger, a pair of magician psychopaths (the game's bosses). Reed berates Roger throughout their intro cutscene, calling him incompetent and blaming him for messing up their "trick" (which involved sawing a woman in half, killing her). He also implies that if the pair ever became famous magicians, then he would hog all the glory and leave Roger in the dust. Roger gets his revenge in their death cutscene, where he uses the last of his strength to crawl over to his dying partner and finish the job himself by stabbing him repeatedly with one of his swords. He then rolls over on his back and says "I've always wanted to do that." before dying with a smile on his face.
  • The Apes in The Legend of Spyro worked their butts off as Malefor's army and trying to free him, though only because he was giving them power. How does he reward all their hard work? By turning them into walking skeletons that are cursed to forever remain in the dark.
  • Lieutenant Hootingham-Gore of Dragon Quest IX acts this way in his introductory scene by incinerating the subordinate that was sent to destroy your team but failed to do so.
  • The Metal Gear series has several:
    • Colonel Volgin is known to get off on torture, even more so than Ocelot, who himself (ironically) also hated Volgin's use of torture, despite becoming a Torture Technician in the future- its implied that even for Ocelot, though, Volgin took things way too far. After he captured Snake, it is also implied that he threatened to kill any guards who fail to keep Snake alive before he does a second torture (that is, died from the torture Volgin himself had inflicted on him). He overworked the scientists/maintenance staff to complete the Shagohod, and it is also implied that he intended to execute them simply to keep them silent after the tests were completed. After being defeated by Naked Snake, he also ends up taking the Shagohod for a joyride, and... well, long story short, he killed/destroyed anyone and anything that was in his way.
    • Raikov, Volgin's second in command, and the only one that Volgin legitimately cares for, is also no different. Apparently, he used his title of Major to beat up personnel, or crush their joolies. This eventually came back to bite him later on in Portable Ops when the Soviet Military, not liking his abuse of power, shipped him off to a Soviet Missile Base on the San Hieronymo Peninsula, a missile base that just so happens to have been conveniently abandoned by the Soviet Military for Detente along with its personnel, and is later imprisoned, all before Gene and FOX arrived. It's also implied that the only reason why he was even allowed to continue to beat up personnel prior to Operation Snake Eater was because of Volgin's influence. Presumably, the exiling of Raikov had him deeply reconsider his treatment of his soldiers.
    • Gene can use his voice to have his men have an increase in morale. However, he also is just as likely to use his voice to have his own men kill each other, as evidenced by what happened after Gene makes off with the ICBMG.
    • Hot Coldman shoved a paraplegic down the stairs (a paraplegic who also called Coldman out on trying to launch a live nuke from Peace Walker), and was implied to have intended to kill off his own unit, the Peace Sentinels, after the tests are completed. Apparently, he (if not the entirety of the CIA) also pocketed a large percentage of The Boss's sleeper agent's pay. Then we have the whole issue about his setting The Boss up.
    • And then.... Ocelot. Oh, my, Ocelot. Work under him, hell, work with him and you might as well as calling your undertaker or prepare for bedlam to save time. Case in point: in Guns of the Patriots, when preparing for his SOP hacking test in Act 2, Vamp warns him that they don't know what could happen, only for him to nonchalantly state that he's "willing to make a few sacrifices"; the end result is that several of his mooks suffer brain damage and become Technically Living Zombies. During the Act 3 mission briefing, Naomi states that Ocelot in fact knew from the very beginning that said test would be a failure, and yet he chose to go through with it anyway.
    • As revealed in Peace Walker, Zero apparently became this while running the Patriots, to the extent that Paz/Pacifica Ocean was terrified of failing him and openly admitted that she considered incurring his wrath a Fate Worse Than Death.
  • Donkey Kong Country: King K. Rool, who keeps his minions in a constant state of misery, rules through fear, and is perfectly willing to sic Klaptraps on his already overworked engineers to speed things up.
  • Elijah in Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money. Fits his underlings with explosive collars in order to force them to co-operate with him, and each other, then encourages them to kill each other as soon as their role in his plans has ended.
    • Elijah is one of these even back when he was still a Brotherhood of Steel Elder. He almost gets his chapter massacred when he ordered them to hold a power station despite being outnumbered 15 to 1. However, the Brotherhood does catch on, which is why they sent Christine after him. According to his former apprentice Veronica, Elijah despised backtalk and expected machine-like obedience from subordinates.
    • From the same series, Legate Lanius qualifies. A constant radio report is that, when faced with fixing an underperforming squad, he beat the commander to death in front of his troops, then ordered 9/10ths of the squad to kill the other 1/10th. In all fairness, this is consistent with Roman treatment of their soldiers, but still...
    • Caesar had Joshua Graham, his battlefield commander before Lanius, set on fire and thrown into the Grand Canyon in full view of his men for losing at the First Battle of Hoover Dam. Simply mentioning Graham or the loss at Hoover Dam carries the death penalty, and groups allied with the Legion are exterminated or enslaved when they are no longer useful. At the first sign of disobedience, Caesar threatens to torture the Courier for his own amusement. There's no such thing as respect from Caesar; no matter how much he likes or admires someone he'll kill them if they stop being slavishly deferential.
  • Motonari Mori from Sengoku Basara. Despite calling his troops "children of the sun", he has no compulsion of sending waves of them to their deaths, or even killing them himself, if it furthers his own ambition. Not only could he originally attack his allies in earlier games, he can summon archers and smack them towards his enemies as human missiles essentially. His victory quote in the third game sums it up perfectly:
    "I'll soak the earth with the blood of subordinates. Then I shall hunt down the strays".
    • Mitsunari has tendencies of this, being an incredibly volatile person who as a believer of blind loyalty above all else expects this from his allies and subordinates. His usual way of reaffirming loyalty is to either threaten them with painful death or to beat them into submission.
  • The Phase Commanders, Armacham's field commanders, in F.E.A.R. 3 will routinely threaten their subordinates if their orders aren't carried out to the letter. At one point, you hear one threatening to dismember the soldiers under his command to keep them from retreating.
  • In Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X, Flame Mammoth often enjoyed picking on his subordinates in the 4th Land Battalion for being small and weak. This also resulted in Laser-Guided Karma, as it also meant that his subordinates did not follow Flame Mammoth to participate in Sigma's rebellion.
  • Mehrunes Dagon from The Elder Scrolls series is the worst Daedric Prince in this regard. He treats everyone who works for him as pawns to be sacrificed for his amusement when they have outlived their usefulness, though the Daedra under his command, being immortal and all, can take it. Anyone who chooses to worship a deity of Omnicidal Mania probably shouldn't expect any other kind of treatment.
  • The Magog Cartel in the Oddworld series run a variety of spectacularly unsafe industries, and treat their Mudokon employees little better than slaves. Mistreatments of their Mudokon employees throughout the series include proposing plans to butcher them for meat when one of their meat factories stopped bringing in profits, sewing their eyes shut to keep them from realising they're mining a sacred Mudokon burial ground, and subjecting them to Electric Torture in order to harvest their tears, one of the key ingredients in the drink Soulstorm Brew.
  • Gru'ul in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark runs an ice quarry in Cania, the eighth layer of Hell. When one of his imps deliberately jams an ice grinder with his own hand in order to have an excuse to take a break, he orders you to feed the imp through the grinder as punishment for laziness, since imps are 'ten-a-penny'. If you learn the True Name of one of your followers, he'll try and barter knowledge of the True Name away from you, so he can employ your followers as slaves for the rest of eternity.
  • Ghetsis in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 is hinted to be this towards his Pokemon. His strongest Pokemon, Hydreigon, knows Frustration, an attack that gets more powerful the more the user dislikes its trainer, and it's at maximum attack power. A big contrast with the Big Bads from the previous games who usually have a Crobat which can only evolve from Golbat by having a good relationship with its owner.
    • Cyrus is nice to his Crobat, but lousy to most of his human minions. In Platinum, he makes a speech to his followers about how Team Galactic will make the world a better place without human strife, but later admits to the player character that he was lying to them because his true goals are... not in their best interests.
      You heard my speech, I presume? *snicker* A big lie...
  • The big bad Downy in Duel Savior Destiny has a tendency to leave minions to die or kill them outright. Not because they've really done anything wrong, but just because he feels like absorbing their power.
  • Shao Kahn from the Mortal Kombat series. Heck, in the opening cutscene of Mortal Kombat II (the game in which he made his first appearance), he almost has Shang Tsung executed for failing to win the tenth Mortal Kombat tournament, only sparing his life because Tsung came up with a new plan of Kahn to conquer Earthrealm. And that's just the first example.
  • Ghirahim from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. At one point, he sends several platoons of mooks after Link and tells them they will suffer greatly if they fail to kill him.
  • Apparently the player character is one in the Translation Train Wreck infamous bootleg version of Pokemon Crystal Version, Pokémon Vietnamese Crystal. Whenever a pokemon is switched out in battle, instead of being sent to its pokeball, it is sent to a pillory (an old public humiliation device similar to stocks).
  • Hyrule Warriors: Fitting her Dominatrix-themed personality, Cia constantly berates her subordinates and conscripts Wizzro and Volga through brainwashing after beating the stuffing out of them, and Zant and Ghirahim through sheer force. Ghirahim is the only one to willingly go with her, though it's heavily implied he only does so because he knows he's outmatched. Could also be that he sensed Ganondorf's energy on her and intended to use her to find his way back to his master.
  • In Portal 2, Cave Johnson made Aperture Science with the mindset that safe science is for sissies, kept employees in their cubicles with death lasers, and finally killed the survivors by making them go through the test chambers. On a less...overtly lethal level, he was in the habit of firing employees for reasons ranging from "ramps are expensive" to "was insufficiently gung-ho about Mad Science".
    Cave: Science isn't about "why?" It's about "why not?" Why is so much of our science dangerous? Why not marry safe science if you love it so much? In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you on the butt on the way out because you are fired! Not you, test subject. You're doing fine. Yes, you! Box your stuff! Out the front door. Parking lot. Car. Goodbye.
  • Brick is this to his Slabs in Borderlands 2. Though in-game this is mostly shown as him treating his men with utter contempt and freely acknowledging them as psychotic morons.
    Brick: My slabs'll probably still try to kill ya, cause they're friggin' idiots. Don't feel bad about killin' em. I never do.
  • Super Mario Bros. actually averts this with Bowser. While he's frequently short-tempered with his soldiers, he's nonetheless considered A Father to His Men by the Koopa Troop, as evidenced by the genuine respect they show him throughout the series and the times he gives them direct praise for succeeding in furthering his Evil Plan (or even when they do a good job despite failing against the Mario Bros., as in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team).
    • Foreman Spike of Wrecking Crew plays this straight. Despite hiring the Mario Bros. to tear down the various sites, he sends out Eggplant Men and Gotcha Wrenches to chase them around and even goes onto the field to directly impede them.
    • In Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, Elder Princess Shroob deliberately knocks down her Shroob minions' Flying Saucers in order to use them as projectiles against the Bros.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: In the Allied "Last Chance" mission, upon the player's success an enraged General Vladimir will nuke Chicago with his own troops still inside the city.
  • Sly Cooper has a few examples:
    • Dr. M of Sly 3, in his first scene, poisons one of his subordinates simply because he forgot to change the searchlight password.
    • There's also Sheriff Toothpick of Thieves in Time, who enjoys overworking his mooks to the point where he makes time off illegal and overtime mandatory. He's also prone to I Just Shot Marvin in the Face.
  • Star Fox Adventures: In CloudRunner Fortress, while Fox is confronting General Scales and shooting at him, Scales promptly Neck Lifts a nearby SharpClaw soldier to use as a Human Shield, and then throws him at Fox. Needless to say, the entire SharpClaw tribe celebrates his defeat at the end of the game.
  • It's implied that in You Don't Know Jack, Cookie doesn't treat his employees very well.
  • Tomb Raider (2013): While Lara is escaping the Solarii fortress, Mathias promptly orders his men to blow the bridge. When one soldier objects, pointing out they'll be killing their own people, Mathias responds by grabbing a gun off said soldier and shooting him dead before asking the others if there are any other "non-believers."
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, The Joker is very fond of going on the asylum intercom system to yell at his underlings, threaten their families, and mock them by pointing out that Batman's basically going to wipe the floor with them.
    • Batman: Arkham City has a few different varieties and also provides some justification as to why people would work for them in the first place. Penguin is a big fan of You Have Failed Me and makes potential members fight to the death for his amusement. He also is the richest man in Arkham City and his gang members get all the perks that implies. The Joker is absurdly wild and unpredictable, fond of killing people in 'funny' ways and working for him is no guarantee of your safety. His gang mostly consist of insane convicts and those that are amused by his antics rather than scared shitless by them. Lastly there's Strange, who sends his Tyger guards on suicide missions and gives them fatal overdoses of Truth Serum just to get accurate reports. He's also brainwashed all of them into Undying Loyalty.
    The Penguin: "I give you one simple task: stick up a couple of freaking machines. And what? You couldn't even get that right? I hope Batman broke every bone in your stupid bodies. I hope you're lying there, desperately trying to breathe through fractured ribs and punctured lungs. If you're not, you'd better summon up whatever strength you've got left and run, 'cause after I'm done with the Bat, you're all next!"
    • Several villains in Batman: Arkham Origins have just as little in the way of respect for their underlings. The most notable is probably Deadshot, who repeatedly threatens his Mooks with death for any hint of slackness; when you take him down, his minions are as eager to flee as his hostage is, and chatter during the fight makes it clear they're only there because he'd shoot them if they tried to make a run for it.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: Hades, in direct contrast to Palutena and Viridi. After his commander Thanatos is slain by Viridi's commander Phosphora, he elects to simply let his minions keep fighting while leaderless, leading to this exchange:
    Palutena: Are you saying it makes no difference whether your troops have a leader?
    Hades: They're all idiots. Seriously. I don't even know if any of them have actual brains.
  • Jean-Luc, the "Boss" of Bar Oasis is frequently seen slacking off, leaving the bar to Vic and Carla. This comes to bite him in the ass when he gets arrested for spreading John MacDuff's ashes into the sea. Those ashes were stolen from his family.
  • The management of Freddy Fazbear's Pizza from Five Nights at Freddy's. They never tell you about the killer animatronics, will pay you $4 an hour to watch over said animatronics, and clean up your dead body if you don't survive your shifts.
  • Murakumo turns out to have been this to Akatsuki in the backstory of Akatsuki Blitzkampf, knowingly sending him into a mission to the Arctic Pole that should have been fatal. When Akatsuki "revives" 50 years later and finds out about Murakumo's actual goals and intentions, he's not happy.
  • As if Megatron wasn't already the king of bad bosses, in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Starscream manages to be an even worse leader over the Decepticons when Megatron dies. He forces all of his troops to divert resources for the war into rebuilding the capitol in his own image. Then, when Megatron returns he demands his loyalists to defend him from the former leader. Naturally, the troops side with the Lesser of Two Evils. It's actually mind-blowing that the troops thought Megatron as a saint compared to Starscream.
  • Fallen London: Mr Fires combines the abusive nature of an Industrial Revolution factory boss with the disregard for human well-being of a Master of the Bazaar, and ends up being one of the outright nastier Masters of the group. The pay is crappy and is almost always late, the hours are completely horrible (helped by the fact there isn't a sun to keep up a better schedule), he'll have agents spying on you constantly and meddling in your affairs (even your love affairs), and if you dare protest he'll bring in his strikebreakers, who will club the shit out of you until you get back to work.
  • Building on Fallen London is Sunless Sea, in which the vast majority of players will become Bad Bosses to their own crew. Multiple stories can most easily or only be advanced by sacrificing crew members to being eaten or having their brains consumed by bees while still living. Even officers can either be dissuaded or encouraged to take extraordinary personal risks; guess which one pays off better for you?
  • In Halo, the higher-ranked Covenant species (Prophets, Elites, Brutes, and Hunters) tend to treat their subordinates from the lower-ranked species (especially the Grunts) very poorly, with examples including: ordering Grunts to charge into a minefield, literally flattening a Jackal because it couldn't get out of your way in time, forcibly strapping explosives onto Engineers, literally tearing a Grunt to pieces for not cooking your meal right, etc. Even high-ranking members of high-ranking species aren't immune to being executed by their superiors for purely political reasons.

    Visual Novels 
  • The coach for team Crash in SC2VN lets Accel do all of the actual coaching and then blames Accel whenever anything goes wrong. It doesn't help that the coach has probably never played a game of Starcraft in his life.

  • The villain Xykon in The Order of the Stick takes this trope to a ridiculous extreme, commenting at one point, "Sacrificing minions... is there any problem it can't solve?" Then again, he's undead, and he can turn dead people into undead zombies who bend to his will. So, for the most part, he can get away with it.
    • To a lesser degree, Xykon's Dragon Redcloak. He acted very much like Xykon in regards to hobgoblins (who he didn't regard as "real" goblinoids) and was perfectly willing to see them killed for whatever effort, even when there was no need for it. This led a Villainous B.S.O.D. when one of those hobgoblins performed a Heroic Sacrifice to save his life in spite of how he had been treating them; specifically, he became absolutely horrified when he realized how much he was acting like Xykon, who might be his ally (even a borderline Villainous Friendship) but who he (accurately) regards as the most depraved and disgusting individual he has ever met.
  • Kary from 8-Bit Theater is frequently killing her own minions for her own amusement. When her accountant informed her that she had killed all her minions, she corrects him by pointing out that he's still with her... then sets him on fire.
  • Hannelore's mother in Questionable Content. Imagine a wealthy New England business woman who runs her international conglomerate like she's Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Complete with firing a minion. Into a volcano.
  • For some Drowtales readers, Zala'ess Vel'Sharen crosses the Moral Event Horizon when she deliberately sends a team of minions (including her own adopted daughter, a new recruit who had saved her daughter's life, and several starving slaves) on a suicide mission just to make another clan look bad.
  • Inquisitor Lord Antonius Schaefer takes a different tack with Bad Boss; he tries to be the consumer model, but he's too incompetent to really pull it off. Nothing gets done without his adjutant Riktor Simmons there to do all the thinky-type stuff for him.
  • Girl Genius subverts the trope. Baron Klaus Wulfenbach is built up as being incredibly ruthless, and it's early on implied that if his son Gilgamesh doesn't perform to expectation, he'll be broken down for spare parts (which isn't necessarily metaphorical, given that Frankenstein's monster-like "constructs" aren't exactly uncommon). But while it's true that he's quite ruthless, he kind of has to be, since he's in control of all of Europa, and not all of Europa is happy about this. Further, his punishments are harsh but not unfair, he rewards success quite handsomely, and greatly values loyalty; so much so that he actually punishes a man for conspiring against the man who just tried to kill the Baron.
    • Straighter examples would include—well, many of the people the Baron's conquered, and some he's allowed to operate provided he doesn't have to come over there. Why anyone would work for Prince Aaronev, for example, or his "daughter" Anevka, or any of the Mongfish family, or the Heterodynes before Bill and Barry rather defies explanation beyond "they couldn't run fast enough to get away."
    • Because the Heterodyne actually averted this, they were a terror to everyone else but were good rulers to their own people.
    • Lucrezia in particular as The Other gets away with being a Bad Boss thanks to Mind Control technology sidestepping the whole loyalty thing. Anyone she has indoctrinated will follow her orders to the letter, something she abuses. At one point she ordered a servant to die, and the servant choked on her own tongue.
  • Angelo, from Our Little Adventure. This is a contrast from his husband, Brian.
  • Damien of El Goonish Shive used to beat up Grace and her "brothers" to inspire fear in them when they were under him.
  • According to Subnormality, Bad Bosses tend to cause their underlings to quit, so they're ultimately less harmful than the Benevolent Boss, who can keep you working even if the job itself is soulcrushing.
  • Fawdry from Samurai Princess not only has one, but is one himself.
  • In Skin Horse, the Anasigma command staff. Acceptable footwear policy (or all policies, actually) are on pain of "extirpation", which is taken by all as meaning "death". Whether it actually does remains to be seen.
  • In Sinfest, Monique fantasizes about this.
    • Satan, of course.
  • In Commander Kitty, both CK and Zenith have their turns in this role.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Frieza. Just see how he kills Burter.
  • Super Stupor demonstrates the downsides of this approach to leadership: when a supervillain asks for a threat assessment, his Beleaguered Assistant decides to... hold back certain crucial information, leading the supervillain to certain doom.
  • The semi-demonic Mel in Phil Likes Tacos.

    Web Original 
  • Deathlist, the unstoppable supervillain in the Whateley Universe. While he loves his boss Chessmaster, and he treats his Sabretooth minions as if they were his own children (they may be, in some sense), he is perfectly willing to gut anyone else. When the general of the Syndicate warriors irritates him, he tells his second-in-command to make said general a target of opportunity.
  • Angel Of Death's Pretty Pink Ponytails is implied to eat some of her underlings. note 
  • The Rock Lord from Ash And Cinders gets its Establishing Character Moment by pounding an underling/Stonewight into a brutish sword for speaking out against him, just to prove how really evil he is.
  • Whilst not being indiscriminately abusive to his henchman, Danya, Big Bad of Survival of the Fittest, has his moments. He enjoys tormenting Dorian, one of his subordinates, to the point of deliberately giving him tasks (such as taking over the daily announcements) that he can't do/hates, and assigned his scorpion collection to a student as a weapon. A more severe example was when three of the terrorists screwed up in V1 (they accidentally broadcasted their reading of a Slashfic across the PA system on the island, and then began loudly insulting him and the entire SOTF act. While he was having dinner with his family.). Danya put them on the island to get killed too. Oh, and had their vocal chords cut out.
  • Anni Hilator, the minion of Coyle Commander, has to PAY to work for him in Coyle Command. And then the Commander regularly beats him up.
  • Meet The Mastermind, possibly the single worst example of a Bad Boss you can experience in five minutes. The guy holds meetings with his flunkies just to have an opportunity to execute the first person who speaks up.
    • Funny thing is he KNOWS he's a Bad Boss. And he uses his immaturity and incompetence to manipulate a difficult minion (and the occasional hero) into doing his bidding.
      French Lackey: I should have called in sick. I don't know why I come to these stupid meetings!
      MM: I don't know why I call them. Do you?
      FL: Oui, oui, to get someone to answer your stupid question about why you call...the...meetings...oh...
      MM: Ah, that sounded like an answer to me! See, this is why I'm the Mastermind, and why you have failed me for the last time!
  • From Professor Brothers the title characters' boss is one of these. Aside from being over-bearing, intimidating, and unforgiving he even pranks them in various mortifying ways.
  • The Chief from Agents Of Cracked.
    • "If I don't find out who the most under-rated Care Bears are by three o'clock, the Chief is gonna throw me in a volcano."
  • Played with by The Nostalgia Critic. While he is a jackass to his subordinates (especially first meetings with newbies), it's very rare that he won't get punished or one-upped. In a few cases, he'll have a breakdown and they'll go nice and comfort-y. He's rather complicated, y'see.
    • Ever since he had gotten assistants, he tends to "not be very nice" to them. He punches Malcolm in the face simply for mentioning the cartoon Doug, then later puts him in a coma after mentioning the Ducktales theme song, (which Nostalgia Critic had just minutes earlier gotten out of his head from the Ducktales review two years earlier) The Blues Brothers 2000 review has Tamara overdose on "Not caring pills" and apparently dying while NC doesn't even bother to turn around.
    • Though averted with Mati. As he treated Mati like crap throughout the first few years, then the character died causing NC to go into a massive depression of guilt.
    • And then a number of episodes suggest that the Nostalgia Critic is also working under a bad boss: his own brother.
    • Likewise, The Nostalgia Chick is abusive, demanding and oblivious to her crew's dislike of what she does to them.
    • Diamanda Hagan is an Evil Overlord who regularly orders her minions to execute themselves.
  • Reach from What You Are in the Dark? had a certain slender man as his boss for the better part of forty years. As you can guess, the process of becoming one of slendy's servants was a nightmare. No surprise he quit.
  • In Echo Chamber, Tom is this to Zack.
    "If you get in front of the camera, I will stab you, I will actually stab you!"
    • In turn, Mr. Administrator is this to Tom.
    "Your next video will be a work of genius or we will SHUT YOU DOWN!"
  • Stuff You Like's Sursum Ursa is one of these, judging from the start of the Halloween Episode:
    Sursum Ursa: *thunder* Greetings, minions. Welcome to hell. Evil Laughter...Wait, what? What do you MEAN this isn't the Staff Training Video?
  • From The Agony Booth: Albert/Dr. Winston O'Boogie, is this TO Ursa in Stuff You Like's 50th episode
    Sursum Ursa: (reading contract) Wait, what do you mean CROSSOVER?
  • From MyMusic: Indie. He regularly abuses Intern 2 and is rather indifferent to the suffering of his employees in general. In Season 2, he briefly turns Hip-Hop into his next target after he "comes out" as a nerd, then mocks Intern 2 even further when he gets a new job at the acid factory.
  • Welcome to Night Vale:
  • Bubs of Homestar Runner. It's one thing to make your employees wear a hot dog clown suit as part of their job, it's another to make them buy the costume out of their pocket from the costume palace. On the subtler side, he gets away with not giving Pom Pom any lunch breaks, because Pom Pom wasn't able to get into a labor union.
  • Doktor Vandike of Steve And Carlos is most definitely this, as he gets more kills on his henchmen than the characters who are actually against him.
  • Acquisitions Incorporated: Omin is a CEO. Early in season 7, Viari gets some honest talk with Jim and Binwin, who hesitantly reveal how Omin essentially browbeats them with legal terminology into working for him essentially for free. It helps him immensely that Binwin is Super Gullible and Jim is a Horrible Judge of Character, so Viari is essentially the first person savvy enough to question his leadership style. The following quote, dropped while firing an employee, perhaps illustrates his attitude best:
    "Put everything you own and like in a box, and when I come back, we'll talk about what happens to the box."

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: Dr. Robotnik, big time, albeit Played for Laughs. He abuses Scratch and Grounder both physically and verbally on a regular basis, and has been shown on more than one occasion to find them quite expendable.
  • Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. He's a classical stereotype. In fact, he's such a Bad Boss that he's fired Smithers — the only man who (usually) has Undying Loyalty to him — twice. Worse, he's been known, out of sheer sadism, to drop certain of his employees down a seemingly bottomless trapdoor - with the express intention of killing them (although they inevitably survive).
    • This was humorously referenced in the Treehouse of Horror segment "Bart Simpson's Dracula" in which it turns out Mr. Burns is a Dracula-like vampire - and, when Lisa tells Homer that he must stake Burns through the heart as he's sleeping in order to undo all the evil the vampires have done, Homer is pretty eager to do so - not because Burns turned Bart into a vampire, but simply because he's Homer's boss, and killing him would be "[living] out the American Dream." But it's no use: Homer does kill Burns, but just after he has appeared to die - and literally one second before he dissolves into dust - Burns very briefly comes back from the dead just to say "You're fired" - drawing a "D'oh!" from Homer.
  • South Park
    • Craig Tucker, especially in "South Park is Gay".
    • The Jonas Brothers learn the hard way to not cross Mickey Mouse.
  • The Monarch from The Venture Bros. also fits this trope, and manages to look funny while doing it because he's so bad at being a villain. Or so it would seem...
  • Megatron's behavior towards Starscream, and most of the Decepticons from Transformers. However, the former was constantly plotting to overthrow Megatron, so it's hard to blame him... Indeed, considering how openly treacherous Starscream was, Megatron seems amazingly tolerant (or amazingly stupid) just to keep him around without slagging him. And since the Transformers are made of metal, "slagging him" isn't insulting Starscream behind his back.
    • Galvatron in the third season is a better Transformers example—he was Axe Crazy and had a tendency to shoot anyone within reach, frequently his loyal second-in-command Cyclonus. Galvatron was so bad, in fact, that his minions actually took him to therapy, under the pretenses of collecting intel on the Autobots. Naturally, he drove the therapy planet insane rather than the other way around.
    • Beast Wars Megatron considers all of his troops expendable assets, except for maybe Inferno.
    • The Prime version, of course, keeps this trait. At least one case had him throwing three Vehicons off his spaceship to chase someone with an important item. One of them couldn't fly. This is perhaps one of his tamer moments.
  • Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender in her first appearance threatened to kill the captain of her ship because he said that he wouldn't be able to dock as soon as she wanted because of the tide. She gets even worse after Mai and Ty Lee betray her, after which accidentally leaving the pit in one of her cherries is a banishable offense. And that was her being lenient!
    • To put this into perspective, Zuko's mother, who planned and possibly even carried out the assassination of Fire Lord Azulon (her father-in-law) received the same penalty of exile, possibly since "execution" would be a bad idea to mention in a children's cartoon.
    • While less so than Azula, there was also a ship warden in Season 1, episode 6 (The Imprisoned) who threw his captain overboard for arguing whether Appa is a bison or a buffalo. Apparently throwing people overboard for the slightest offenses is a frequent occurrence, as he tells one of the other soldiers to go find someone he hasn't thrown overboard yet.
    • The Legend of Korra has Zaheer, who eliminates Red Lotus members who prove to be liabilities. Case in point, Zaheer throws Aiwei into the Fog of Lost Souls, because the latter failed to make sure that Zaheer's group captured the Avatar without a hitch, not to mention that he failed to properly cover their tracks.
    • Also from Korra, Kuvira's approach to military discipline involves getting her troops to wear metal near their necks, so if someone - Varrick, for example - proves inconvenient, she can apply the Darth Vader approach to discipline (non-lethally, but only because Varrick stopped trying to disagree). Kuvira is, to put it mildly, incredibly ruthless about her goals. She even attempted to blow up her fiance because the most dangerous of her enemies were within the blast radius, although she did appear sad about it.
  • General Grievous, as shown in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, frequently exhibits this kind of behaviour. Any of the random battle droids are prone to getting their heads backhanded right off their shoulders when they screw up (which is a lot), and when his smuggler contact Gha Nachkt got a little uppity, he impaled him with a lightsaber. The former is explained in the bonus material as him really hating droids, and as for the latter, well, one should know to be more polite towards a psychotic murderer of billions.
  • The Batman:
    • As well as the Joker, Black Mask has a habit of shooting his numerous second-in-commands, or sending them flying into orbit, and appointing a random henchman the post.
    Black Mask: You. You're my new number one.
    • Police Chief Angel Rojas is a big time asshole in his subordinates, especially Ethan Bennett and Ellen Yin. He treated Ethan like crap and openly berated him just because Ethan supported Batman, going as far to as suspend him after Ethan publicly thanks Batman for saving him from the Joker, which along with the Mind Rape the Joker just pulled and some chemicals he was exposed to drove Ethan to become the first Clayface. He didn't learn anything from this when he found out that Ellen had become allies with Batman, firing her, smashing her Batwave device and taking her hostage to use her as bait as a trap, even employing tactics that'd make Gillian Loeb proud. However, Jim Gordon recently got his iconic rank as Commissioner and pulled it on Rojas, forcing him to let Batman go, and release and reinstate Yin, much to Rojas's chagrin.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002): Skeletor practically embodies this Trope. If an episode went by where he didn't zap one of his minions with his Havock Staff, it was a surprise. And the way he treated them was far worse in the remake; it can be summed up by what he angrily said to some new minions after he purposely led the old ones into a trap that led to them being arrested:
    Skeletor: Don't forget, I willing sacrificed my loyal minions without a second though, and them I liked!
    • Of course, it's obvious where Skeletor got this from. Hordak was the same. His throne room was equipped with trap doors that could be used to dump someone into a water-filled chamber below, and he'd not only do this to minions who made him angry, but simply for fun. (Mantenna was often the victim of this, being a stooge of sorts.) Of course, this was the earlier, lighter version; the remake was cancelled before Hordak could become a regular character, and one can only imagine what he'd have been like in the darker version...
    • In the backstory, Hordak's idea of "saving" Keldor from the face full of acid that was killing him was to turn him into Skeletor. It's not really surprising that Skeletor doesn't want to free Hordak.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) main villain, The Shredder, has never been regarded as a good boss in any continuity, but in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), he qualifies by having minions killed offscreen. And when his number one scientist Baxter Stockman (who was not replaceable) bothered him, Shredder had various body parts lopped off.
    • The Shredder in the 2012 cartoon regularly threatens to mutilate his subordinates if they don't pull through, including his own daughter Karai. Of course, when compared to his 2003 counterpart, he's a Benevolent Boss, as despite all of his threats, he has yet to actually follow up on them.
  • Sonic Boom: While Eggman isn't physically abusive to Cubot and Orbot, he does belittle, demean, and insult them constantly.
  • Lucius Henious VII on Jimmy Two-Shoes treats everyone who works under him like garbage. His assistant Samy gets it worse, with Lucius often testing Misery Inc's newest products on him, or else just making him do unpleasent things for his amusement. The only exception to this is Heloise. No-one DARES attempt to make Heloise angry.
  • Cobra Commander from the Darker and Edgier G.I. Joe: Resolute has little tolerance for failure and his men speaking out against him and as a result he often kills them.
  • In the Kim Possible episode "The Ron Factor", Dr. Director's twin brother Gemini is one of these, constantly inviting his minions to "take a seat" and then launching them into space, dropping them into a pit, etc, and then calling up the next minion in the alphabet to take over the mission. His minions keep trying to find inventive ways to avoid sitting on the chair when prompted, but it never works out.
  • Yosemite Sam of Looney Tunes is sometimes shown to be this he is shown beating or shooting his men for their failures. In one short sounds of beating and shooting come from his ship, and a man covered in bruises and tattered clothes runs out of the ship, telling the audience "I was a human being once".
  • From Futurama
    • Professor Farnsworth certainly qualifies by frequently sending the crew on dangerous missions (they're not his first crew, and based on a few exchanges, he doesn't expect them to be his last) and more than likely, underpays everyone. The entire crew, has also, on one occasion admitted they've fantasized about getting back at an unnamed bad boss. Amy even made a blinding powder. Usually, this trope is Played for Laughs in his case. In one episode Leela gets knocked unconscious, and the Professor thinking she's dead is all too willing to harvest her organs to keep himself alive.
      Hermes: Don't worry professor, you'll get your chance someday.
    • Zapp Brannigan often sends his men on deadly missions, expecting total loyalty out of them over ridiculous causes, and emotionally abusing them - you just know what a prick he is when his Second-In-Command Kif Kroker would rather face almost certain death than work for him.
    • Robot Santa employs many Neptunians, using them as slave labour and feeding them little in his unsafe weapons factory on Neptune.
    • There's also Mom, who the Professor and Hermes have worked for before Planet Express, and currently physically abuses her three main minions.
    • Anytime Bender gets into a position of power, he quickly becomes this. It's most obvious when he takes over as pharoah in a Sci Fi Counterpart Egypt.
    • Even Leela - who's usually just a Mean Boss when she's in charge of the ship - can cross into a mild version of this Trope sometimes, as her pride or a personal grudge often, in her own mind, can take priority to the crew's safety.
  • From Archer
    • Malory's response whenever Brett gets shot in the later seasons is to order him back to work or bitch about his blood ruining her rugs. In a flashback from season 1, it is revealed that she murdered the cleaning staff for trying to unionize. Then there's her reaction to the strike in "The Rock":
    Lana: What do [the support staff] want?
    Malory: Oh, the same entitled crap as always. "I can't make ends meet! I'm on food stamps! My child died because I couldn't afford new bone marrow!" Just me me me me me!
    Lana: Jesus, whose kid died?
    • Archer treats Woodhouse like dirt, and openly steals whatever he wants from the guy. He even thought Woodhouse was a slave until the end of Season 2. Goes to massive levels of Jerkass when Woodhouse is planning on going to Vegas with his younger brother Dicky who he hadn't seen in 20 years and likely won't see for another 20 years (Keep in mind that Woodhouse is very very elderly) Archer denies him from going and instead goes to Vegas himself with Woodhouse's brother, and ends up getting Dicky arrested then just leaves him for dead in the slammer.
  • Vilgax in Ben 10 was apparently so much of a bad boss (though being The Dreaded doesn't help either) that no one is actually willing to work for him, forcing him to rely on Mecha-Mooks as his personal army. Considering the only time mercenaries worked for him onscreen, he was willing to send his droids against them in order to test them, it probably indeed sucks working for this guy.
  • Sheep in the Big City: In the first episode, one of General Specific's soldiers asked him why he didn't simply get some random sheep and have the sheep-powered ray gun compatible to it. Instead of explaining it, General Specific opened a trap door under the soldier. And should his ray gun be completed he out right says to his subordinates that he's going to fire them all.
  • Potsworth & Company: When the Nightmare Prince's mother demoted him and had Count Bubba Bonebreaker replace him, Bubba reunited the Nightmare Prince's minions with his own and explained how he wanted things to be done. He then asked them if they had any questions. One had and, before he had a chance to ask, Bubba opened a trap door behind him. Bubba then asked the others if they also had questions. They then told him they didn't.
  • The Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012). He regularly threatens his Co-Dragons Bradford and Xever who later mutate into Dogpound and Fishface with mutilation, and outright tells Fishface that he's useless.
  • This was lampshaded with Principal Pixiefrog from My Gym Partner's a Monkey. Not only that he's the show's Big Bad but he's also a total Jerk Ass to Adam Lyon.
  • Ms. Angela Li from Daria. As Lawndale's high school principal, she is greedy, abuse of the authority and most important of all, represents everything Daria hates.
    • Her previous high school principal McVicker was worse.
  • Mr. Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants has become this, not caring about his employees or his customers and willing to do anything to get a buck, even poison them. And things have been worse since Bob has become an Extreme Doormat and Yes-Man to him when before he would call him out on his methods. Of course, he showed some shades of this even prior to Flanderization; as shown in "Squid on Strike," he decides to start charging Spongebob and Squidward for any non-work activity, such as talking, breathing, and existing. He even once sold his soul to the Flying Dutchman for the ability to talk to money. When the Flying Dutchman comes to claim his soul, he is told to wait in line behind 20 other demons who Mr. Krabs also sold his soul to— including Spongebob because he'd rather give him his soul on payday than actual money.
  • From Regular Show
  • Buck Strickland from King of the Hill is rude, treats his employees like trash, sexist, and to him his company is his own piggy bank and he can use it however he pleases without any consequences. If not for Hank who unfortunately turns a blind eye to everything he does, the company would never lasted as long as it has.
  • In Barbie and the Secret Door, Malucia is not kind to her servants at all, much less her subjects.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Ludo mocks and berates his minions at every turn. He even tells a minion who may be suffering from internal bleeding that he's just being a baby. At least he never leaves them behind when retreating. Toffee seems to be an aversion at first after he takes over Ludo's forces but ultimately he's even worse, manipulating the minions into helping him destroy Star's Wand without warning them that doing so will trigger a massive explosion that will kill them all. All he says is "Gentlemen, it's been a pleasure" as he leads them to their deaths.

    Real Life 
  • The 18th century Pirate Blackbeard (Edward Teach) shot his first mate Israel Hands in the knee under the table at dinner. When asked why, he said "if I did not kill one of you now and then, you would forget who I am." Ironically, Hands was the only survivor of Blackbeard's crew, because he testified against the remaining survivors and was pardoned for it. He disappeared from history after that.
  • Henry VIII, best exemplified in the Horrible Histories sketch where they do a "This is Your Life" segment and start bring out all the ministers and friends who supported him over the years, only to find he had chopped the heads off all of them.
  • Many Real Life dictators end up like this, and with good reason. It would be very bad for them if one of their subordinates turns out to be Eviler Than Thou, so they frequently come up with excuses to kill anyone who might one day become a threat.
  • In the case of Josef Stalin however he purged his army, and those that didn't get sent to the firing squad usually wound up in a labour camp in Siberia. This cost him a war and very nearly lost him another.
    • During the German surprise attack on the USSR, military airfields were a high-priority target. The Soviet pilots seriously debated staying on the ground, since taking off without Stalin's authorization could get them executed.
    • Stalin also not only imprisoned and executed some of his most loyal followers but then, after they died, drew naked pictures of them and wrote derogatory or vulgar statements on the pictures. That was when he didn't erase them from history.
    • Came back to bite him in the ass eventually. Stalin was up all night drinking with his cronies, and when he went to bed, he left orders not to be disturbed. He had a stroke, and it was almost a day before anybody worked up the nerve to check in on him. By then, it was much too late.
      • Well, that was the official story. Another one involves poison and after he was found at late evening, his closest advisors still stalled for time until a doctor got to him the next morning. It came at a very convenient time, when many of his advisors felt they would be the next ones to be purged. Either way, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union spent the last 8 hours of his life half-paralyzed and face down in a puddle of his own piss as a direct consequence of being a bad boss.
    • The aforementioned Warhammer 40,000 Commissars were based on OGPU (later NKVD) troops whose main purpose was to eliminate deserters and ensure that the assaults were conducted as planned. Even suicidal ones.
    • Reflected in a grim humor Russian by-word:
      Victim of an undeserved punishment: But why?!
      Punisher: Had there been a reason - would've snuffed you to begin with!
    • Another joke involves a new guy in prison:
      Another prisoner: So how much did you get?
      New guy: 25 years.
      Another prisoner: Wow! What'd you do?
      New guy: Nothing, really.
      Another prisoner: Liar! You get 15 for nothing.
      • Which was true. People often got sent to prison/gulag even when they refused to confess even under torture.
    • The army was not the only thing Stalin purged. He often purged people whom he dubbed "intellectuals" simply for being smarter than him. He felt anyone who was inevitably plotted against him. Which also came to bite him in the ass when he tried to catch up to the West in terms of technology. It's kinda hard when your best minds are either dead or chopping logs in Siberia. Ever wonder why he felt the need to steal nuclear secrets instead of building his own bomb? Any scientist still working for him usually did it with a sword hanging over them and/or their family. Unfortunately, even then Stalin often ignored ideas and designs that were good and revolutionary instead of cheap tried-and-true ideas.
    • Many of Stalin's purges were motivated by ideology- he thought that a revolution soaked in blood would have stronger foundations and come about faster than one ushered in relatively peacefully. He had his own in-laws murdered and implied that he regarded them as his own personal "sacrifice" to the cause- if he was prepared to kill his own family, then everyone else should be ready to do the same, because it was all for the glorious Communist utopia. In his mind, the threat of imprisonment or death kept everybody on their toes and encouraged them to be as committed to the revolution as possible, as well as getting rid of those who were secretly hostile to the regime- even if they didn't know it (eg. the non-violent ones, because their "softness" could weaken everyone else's resolve; also of course those who were too violent, or were unpopular because they were seen as such, since unity mattered above all). He may also have thought it curbed nepotism, apathy and cronyism (including his own- after all, being his crony didn't make you any safer) because it meant he was constantly bringing in "new blood".
  • Adolf Hitler was said to have expressed an opinion that if Germany couldn't win WWII, the German people deserved to be destroyed.
    • That had less to do with being a Bad Boss and more to do with consistency - he understood the implications of the "perfect" Aryans failing to win a war. In fact, Hitler was a far more forgiving boss than most dictators - he kept Himmler and Goering around when both proved utterly inept commanders. The British historian Alan Bullock, who wrote Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives pointed out that Stalin had an enormous personal malice in addition to his governmental evil, whilst Hitler was unusually tolerant of his useless subordinates: When asked if he would rather spend a weekend in the country with Stalin or Hitler, Bullock instantly replied: "Hitler - though it would be boring in the extreme, I would have much more chance of leaving alive."
    • It was to do with Hitler being an egomaniac who thought Germany had failed him- and he said as much. Also, while he was pretty unlikely to kill his subordinates, there were a few exceptions, most notably the Night of the Long Knives where he decimated the uppity left-wing of his party including the leadership of the S.A. and its leader Ernst Roehm, a contemptible man but one of Hitler's oldest allies, partly to get the army on his side since they didn't like Roehm much. He may or may not have murdered his own niece because she was in danger of becoming a political liability, and betraying him was outright suicide and got thousands of people killed. Soldiers and S.S. men who refused to take part in the Holocaust also would find themselves on the Eastern Front where German war casualties were highest instead. And of course he was not above firing, demoting or shafting subordinates who got too much power or disagreed with him one too many times, regardless of their overall competence. He was better than Stalin, but since Stalin is one of the worst examples on this page, that isn't saying much. During the closing days of World War II, he indiscriminately ordered bombings within Germany and sent his remaining soldiers, including children, on suicide missions.
    • Though in the case of the Night of the Long Knives, the actual purge was masterminded by Goering, Heydrich and Himmler, and was thus a result of the Third Reich being run as a Deadly Decadent Court. Though Hitler had received numerous complaints about Roehm and others on the list (and had personally butted heads with them frequently), he had very little involvement in the affair. Goering saw Roehm, the SA and most of the leftist elements of the party as rivals and the SS felt the same, so they collected and even fabricated evidence against them, then told Hitler and the government that they had "uncovered a plot" to overthrow the Fuhrer. All Hitler did was sign the dotted line on the execution lists, and he did so reluctantly, though it's unlikely he did not realize that this was a power play as much as anything else and he had been under pressure to get Roehm shafted.
  • L. Ron Hubbard (who succumbed to madness and drug abuse) and David Miscavage of Scientology, whose paranoia began spiraling out of control during the Lisa McPherson case. Many former Scientologists recount tales where he would beat people for real or perceived failures (many of those brought on by cutting staff to the bare bones but still demanding high output), hurl full water bottles near female staff, and allegedly made twelve senior executives play musical chairs for their jobs or be fired on the spot. The last one is actually far more sadistic than it sounds. Normal musical chairs can get pretty edgy if not monitored by a responsible adult - in this case men and women who would lose everything ended up violently fighting each other over the chairs, the 'game' growing more violent as it continued while Miscavage played the music and just watched. Only the winner would keep their job. The losers would be sent to far-off "missions"; married couples would be separated. And the kicker? Miscavige said he wouldn't be offloading his victims after all, meaning he did it solely For the Evulz.
  • Roman Emperors who became a Bad Boss to their Praetorian Guard tended to not live for very long, as you never want to piss off the people that protect you while you sleep. What finally did Caligula in was deciding it would be fun to rape the wife of one of his bodyguards and insult others. Soon enough he ended up with sharp blades in his back.
    • This often led to some emperors being Bad Bosses to everyone but the Praetorian Guard, paying them huge wages, etc. ensuring that if there was an uprising, the people in charge of protecting them would remaining loyal.
  • Chairman Mao Zedong, who was utterly ruthless against any Chinese Communist Party official he felt might upstage him or harm his legacy after death. Liu Shaoqi was imprisoned, denied medical treatment for an illness, and died in a jail cell covered in his own vomit and diarrhea; Lin Biao and most of his family died in a plane crash while fleeing a purge; Zhou Enlai, who had served Mao faithfully as premier for decades, died of untreated bladder cancer. Why was it untreated? Because Mao not only forbade the doctors to treat the cancer, he forbade them from telling Zhou he even HAD cancer. Little wonder that the Gang of Four, who were close to Mao, were all in jail within a month of his death.
    • Mao also put the entire fucking party to blame for the Cultural Revolution, and very reluctantly admitted that it was his fault that the Great Leap Forward failed. Oh, and the Cultural Revolution was simply a excuse for Mao to get rid of anything he didn't like or didn't agree with, or thought was old.
  • Pol Pot's solution when he considered there were too many people for his regime to maintain. "To keep you is to no benefit, to destroy you is to no loss."
  • North Korea under the Kim dynasty in general; anyone doesn't bow or even put a small dent on an image of Kim Jong-Il get sent into prison camps, and it doesn't just stop with the condemned, but extends to three generations of their family.
    • Kim Jong-Un is probably worse than his father, who seems to skip prison camps and go straight to executions.
  • Alexander the Great was a Four-Star Badass who is acclaimed as one of the greatest military minds in history, a king who personally led his troops in battle, and a Genius Bruiser who was tutored by the great Aristotle himself. He was also very Hot-Blooded, which drove him to achieve momentous things...but also caused him to react very badly to dissent and criticism. He had soldiers who complained about the endless marches put in a special "disciplinary unit" where they could redeem themselves to him or die trying; he had generals and officials who he saw as a threat to his authority tried and executed on trumped-up charges; he could violently attack and even murder generals, nobles and soldiers who laughed at or insulted him; he brutally purged provincial governors he suspected of corruption, even if they were innocent; he imposed Persian dress, customs and even brides on his Greek and Macedonian troops, which they considered degrading (and in the case of proskynesis, a fundamental violation of fundamental Greek and Macedonian notions of equality); and when his troops mutinied and refused to go any further east, he led them home through the murderous Gedrosian Desert, where thousands of them perished from thirst, heatstroke and disease, possibly to make them suffer for making him go back.

Alternative Title(s): Killer Boss