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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    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. For someone who supposedly wanted revenge for the murders of his pack, he certainly didn't seem to value his crew's lives very much, threatening them with death for failure and more generally not caring for them and letting each fend off for himself.
  • Hunter from Storks as the head stork made his office entirely out of glass, knowing full well that birds can't see glass- Cue storks smacking into the glass walls. He also uses tiny ball-like Robins as various office items, and the balls in Office Golf.

  • 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.
  • 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.

    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."
  • Bowser from Super Mario Logan gives his personal chef, Chef Pee Pee all the responsibilities in his house, from cooking, to cleaning, to babysitting his son, Junior, all with little to no pay. He also creates additional chores just to keep Chef Pee Pee from going on break, and while Chef Pee Pee slaves away, all Bowser does is sit on his tail and watch his favorite Show Within a Show, Charleyyy and Friends.

    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