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 its 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.
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.
Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro features the God Emperor of this trope, 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.
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.
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.
Mazinger Z: Dr. Hell is a curious example. On one side he felt that he was above ofexecuting his subordinates. On the other side he was NOT above of 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 only because he was angry and Ashura was nearby. And yet, on the OTHER hand, he cared for his henchmen on his own way, turning Ashura down whenever HE asked for death penalty, constantly giving him second chances, forgiving failures when he knew that his Co-Dragons had tried their best, and mourning Ashura after his death and planning to avenge him.
Millions Knives from Trigun tops Myotismon for lack of empathy towards employees — none of his servants 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 his Dragon, Legato, 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, they're the same species as he is and all). Interestingly, manga 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.
Powerful enemies on Dragon Ball Z tend to be extremely cruel and apathetic when it comes to anybody working under them, which includes everybody from Piccolo, to Vegeta, to Frieza. Frieza 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. Frieza 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 behaviour.
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. 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.
Dragon Ball, the lighthearted precursor to Z, was also no exception, particularly in the Red Ribbon Army saga: For example, 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 expresses his complete willingness and chillingly disregard for his own troops when he reveals that he only intends to use the Dragon Balls to make himself taller.
General Blue is somewhat subverted. In the episode "The Trap is Sprung", the way he motivates his men is giving them a motivational speech about the pride of the Red Ribbon Army, and they seem to have some renewed motivation. In fact, when he hears the screams of his men when they were killed by the trap, he was actually reluctant to look at what fate befell them. Granted, not that it changes things much, but still.
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 Kenshiroexploding their heads is fear of what their bosses will do to them. One of the worst of them 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.
Hunter J from Pokémon 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.)
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.
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.
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.
Orochimaru from Naruto 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.
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.
Muruta Azrael, Lord Djibril, and Patrick Zala of Gundam SEED and 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.
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.
Erigor, who casually orders his most useful henchman stabbed in the back.
Actually he wasn't even present in the area at the time, another henchman decided to stab Kagemaru in the back.
Brain, who shoots Cobra in the back for taking too long to defeat Natsu (and Cobra was about to win).
King Faust, burns his subordinates 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".
This is one of the defining traits of One Piece villains. BigBads such as Crocodile, Eneru, Spandam, and Hody Jones are willing to let their own underlings die by the thousands in order to persue their goals, and others who kill their subordinates For the Evulz. This is also how to measure the Character Development of Buggy the Clown. In the beginning, he uses his own men as shields, but when we see him last, he and they are crying joyously at their reunion.
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.
Juhabach, the leader of the Vandereich from Bleach, 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.
In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Marik was a Bad Boss even before his Super Powered Evil Side took over. He Brainwashed many Rare Hunters (or did so to force them become Rare Hunters), and apparently murdered practically every one who failed him, including Seeker, Pandora, Strings, Lumis and Umbra, and possibly others. (To make this truly ironic, there was never any confirmed case of Yami Marik killing one of his servants - he intended to kill Rashid, but he considered Rashid 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.
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.
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.
The Joker, and (to a lesser degree) most of Batman's adversaries. 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."
Joker is even worse in the movies. In Burton'sBatman, 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.
This trope is subverted by the Batman villain Bane. While he is a mass-murderer, with a body-count of over 30 in his first appearance, he inspires extreme loyalty in his henchmen and is, in turn, loyal to them. In The Dark Knight Rises though, while he still inspires fanatical loyalty, he is far, far more kill happy 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.
Superman: 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 80's, 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; his favourite 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 daugher 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 e 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.
This guy is a Nazi, you know. One that Hitler trained personally, in fact. As cruel as he is, it should come as no surprise.
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.
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...a Bad Boss. 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 has 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.
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.
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 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!"
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.
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.
Roger's boss JP Pembrook in Fox Trot. 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).
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.
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 promote to Dalek Supreme simply because he survived five consecutive missions under the Inquisitor General. No other Dalek ever accomplished that.
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."
NO I'M NOT... I mean...
In the Disgaea fic Disgaea: Jewel of the gods Laharl hacked the game into making Adell, and Mao his vassals. And, as one would expect, he's not nice to them.
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. Since he is possibly one of the most successful villains in fiction, you could say he has a point.
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.
Tarkin once had a stormtrooper spaced (in a suit to keep him alive) and left to spiral into Carida's atmosphere and incinerate for insinuating that he and Daala were having an affair. Even though they were.
Vader notes that his own boss, Emperor Palpatine, is "not as forgiving as I am", and the secondary material frequently verifies that claim in great detail. He had Bevel Lemelisk (who made the crucial mistake of designing the air shaft in the Death Star) killed in horribly gruesome ways, then cloned him and brought his mind into the new body to kill it again... over and over and over. First cause of death: being eaten alive by piranha beetles. Another one was getting dipped in molten copper (when he had the nerve to ask Palpatine why copper in particular, the latter responded it just what the smelter was using that day). Lemelisk's last words, when the New Republic executed him, were a resigned "Just make sure you do it right this time."
Palpatine also double-crossed Count Dooku and Darth Vader. (If you read the books, he had every intention of doing so to Luke too if his plan to tempt him had succeeded; that would have been the final step of his true plan, becoming immortal.) Of course, Sith do that on a regular basis, but Palpatine also ordered the leadership of the Seperatist Army murdered, simply because he didn't need them anymore.
This characteristic of Palpatine is parodied in the 3D animation video It's hard to be a Stormtrooper 4, where Palpatine stops by to put some of his men back on schedule. The stormtrooper protagonist moves a crate out of his transport ship. Vader tells Palpatine that they are already working as fast as they can, to which Palpatine responds "Maybe this will motivate your men..." and is apparently starting up his Force Lightning. The stormtrooper protagonist is obviously worried by this... until Palpatine's Force Lightning strikes the crate he just moved, causing a side on it to come down, revealing the crate is filled with Lego Death Star sets.
In deleted scenes for Return of the Jedi (which were also kept in the Novelization), he also orders Moff Jerjerrod to fire the superlaser at Endor in the event that the Rebel Alliance somehow managed to successfully destroy the shield generator. Jerjerrod is shown to be reluctant to carry out this order, obviously because of the presence of several of their troops. Palpatine, however, tells him that he will fire the superlaser at Endor, making it perfectly clear to Jerjerrod (and to the audience) that Palpatine doesn't even care about his own troops being killed in the blast.
Durga the Hutt, one of Jabba's rivals and Lemelisk's new employer after he defects from the Empire, also takes this trope to absurd levels. Tolerating no snafus whatsoever in his quest to build an ultra-deadly new version of the Death Star, Durga actually has high-voltage electrodes wired to his technicians' chairs so that he can electrocute any of them if a technician displeases him, even accidentally. When the workers get into the habit of leaping out of their chairs just as Durga loses his temper, Durga simply has them strapped so tightly to the chairs that they cannot escape. The next time he goes to electrocute a crewman who angers him, he makes a mistake and accidentally burnsanotheremployee to a blackened crisp; undaunted, he simply warns everyone to "let that be a lesson to you."
Jabba himself was a pretty rotten employer. You simply have to read Tales from Jabba's Palace for a lot of examples of how he mistreated his minions, and a lot of them hated him. To give one example, Malaki the Rancor Keeper (seen breifly in Return Of The Jedi after Luke killed the beast) blamed his boss completely for the creature's death, an accusation that was not without merit.
Ysanne Isard from the X-Wing Series takes Bad Boss to the next level, When one of her minions betrays her, her response is to order not just his death, but the death of his girlfriend's entire family. Her management style was mocked in one of the later Wraith Squadron books by a more Affably Evil villain, who noted that anyone who worked for a capricious psycho like Isard only had one of two things to look forward to: You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, or You Have Failed Me. Admiral Trigit, the Imp in question, is not much better. He's a Benevolent Boss as long as this are running smoothly, but when the chips are down, he's perfectly willing to sacrifice his Star Destroyer and everyone aboard to save his own sorry ass.
The whole imperial hierarchy, except for a rare few like Thrawn and Pellaeon.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
That was only one instance. Later in the film, Kruge is devestated when Kirk orders the Enterprise to self-destruct, killing almost all of Kruge's crew.
Actually, as far as we can tell, Rain was killed for succeeding in killing Stryker and Kabal, but not making them beg for their lives before doing so. Kahn is sadistic like that.
Clarence Boddicker from Robocop 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 The Witches, the Grand High Witch deals with a witch who expresses her reservation about killing all the children by incinerating her alive.
In Conan the Barbarian, 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's longtime adversary Ernst Stavro Blofeld was often depicted this way:
In Thunderball, the chairs in his 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.
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!"
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 Versus 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.
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.
In fact, many Disney villains qualify. Ursula, on the other hand, is an exception. If something bad happens to her eels, then she gets pissed...
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."
Jack Nicholson's The Joker from Tim Burton's Batman. Two words: "Bob? Gun." If you haven't seen the movie, Bob was his most loyal hechman; however, he got angry - not at Bob, but at Batman - so he told Bob to give him the gun, which Bob did. Then he shot Bob and killed him, for no reason other than he felt 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.note The "tryouts," in case anyone is wondering, is heavily implied to be having the recruitees fight each other with broken pool sticks to the death, pool sticks broken by the Joker's knee.
KingMalbert from the 2008 animated failure Igor does a poor job at ruling his world.
Mr Tinkles in Cats And 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.
Visser Three from Animorphs, who decapitates a subordinate for closing a door too slowly and another for reminding him that bugs exist. Bigger Bad 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.
Visser Three is so awful that 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.
Lord Voldemort of the Harry Potter series. He 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 he didn't; even if they sometimes like to taunt people they don't like that they will get theirs when Voldemort returns, and sometimes like to go on "Muggle hunts" in their Death Eater uniforms, in reality most have pretty mixed feelings about even the idea of 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.
Every Redwall villain ever put to 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.
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.
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 is 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.
Legacy Of The Dragokin: Rufus shouts abuse at his goblin employees because they're stupid and get on his nerves.
Live Action TV
Adelai Niska, a psychotic crimelord introduced in the Firefly 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.
The Master of Doctor Who 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 a later episode, 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.
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.
Angelus in the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He gets amazing enjoyment out of emotionally torturing Spike despite the fact that the last time we saw him (before he became Angel) the two still got along quite well.
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.
Prime Minister Yogoshimacritein in Engine Sentai Go-onger. 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.
Admiral Helena Cain of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. 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.
Although she's never outright killed anyone, on 24, 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 averted 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.
The Seattle-based sketch comedy Almost Live 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.
The Good Guys 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.
Georg from Icelandic comedy Naeturvaktin 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.
Red Forman is like this on That '70s Show to his employees, and won't deny it if you raise the point. When the family is congratulating him on getting the job at Price-Mart, Hyde says "God help the poor bastards who work for you!" Red merely smiles and laughs, taking it as a compliment.
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.
Supernatural's latest 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 switches sides by helping the brothers dispose his superior when the opportunity presented itself and giving them information on the Leviathan's intents.
Captain (LORD!!!) Garth of Izar from the Star Trek: The Original Series 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...)
Subverted in the Don't Trust the B---- In Apartment 23 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.
Revolution: Captain Jeremy Baker. 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 end of season 1, most of his best men have either been killed at his own hands due to his rampant paranoia about being betrayed or have deserted him because of witnessing this.
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.
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.
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.*
Plus...there is more than one account that he might have some Bad Boss tendencies even off-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.
Commonly invoked in Warhammer 40000 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.
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.
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 Vadermethod 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.
All completely overshadowed by Commander Chenkov of Valhalla. He routinely clears minefields 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, and the man once executed one million of his own men 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 with these brutal tactics.
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!
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.
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.
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 up 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.
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'sBad 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.
If you don't immediately kill every Helghast you come across in Killzone 2, you'll hear from some soldiers about how ColonelRadec 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."
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.
Nassana Dantius, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is one of these even back when he was still a Brotherhood of Steel Elder. He almost gets his chapter massacred. 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.
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.
"I'll soak the earth with the blood of subordinates. Then I shall hunt down the strays".
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.
Glukkons in the Oddworld games. To cite just one example, Mullock, boss of the Rupture Farms meat factory, runs a spectacularly unsafe factory using mudokens as slave labor, and when the profits from his regular products start to drop, he draws up plans to market mudoken meat.
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.
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.
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, Pokemon 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).
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.
Even worse is Handsome Jack, President of Hyperion. He treats all of his workers abysmally and is not above having their kids killed just for pointing out the flaws of his great city of Opportunity. He even treats his Vice-President Jeffery Blake more like his butler than anything else.
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, his Dragon, Redcloak. He even kills his own brother. Redcloak eventually realizes that hobgoblins are goblinoids too, though.
To explain the hobgoblin thing, Redcloak acted very much like Xykon in regards to them and was perfectly willing to see them killed for whatever effort, even when there was no need for it. It is rather unfair though to say this trope counts for when he killed his brother since it was to keep Righteye(his brother)from killing Xykon. It was proved pointless soon afterwards, but he had a reasonable, albeit a prideful, reason for killing his brother.
He did have a Villainous BSOD when one of those hobgolbins 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 regards as the most depraved and disgusting individual he has ever met (accurately).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
"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'srathercomplicated, y'see.
Likewise, The Nostalgia Chick is abusive, demanding and oblivious to her crew's dislike of what she does to them.
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.
Beast Wars Megatron considers all of his troops expendable assets, except for maybe Inferno.
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.
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.
As well as the Joker, The Batman's version of 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.
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...
The Shredder has never been regarded as a good boss in any continuity, but in the 2003 Ninja Turtles series he definitely qualifies. Though he had some of his minions killed offscreen his number one scientist Baxter Stockman was not replaceable. So instead of killing him Shredder had various body parts lopped off whenever he failed.
Lucius Henious VII on Jimmy Two-Shoes treats everyone who works under him like garbage. His assistantSamy 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.
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".
Professor Farnsworth from Futurama certainly qualifies. 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.
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.
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.
Malory from Archer. Whenever Brett gets shot in the later seasons, her immediate response 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!
Earl of Lemongrab of Adventure Time. While he isn't evil, he is extremely insensitive and a huge jerk. He sent his butler, "Mr. Peppermint," to the dungeon for five extra years for pulling on the leg of his pants. Later, he released him early because Lemongrab was hungry. When he says he doesn't know where food comes from, Peppermint Butler begins to tell him. Lemongrab cuts him off, and belittles him, saying: "That is why I and royal, and YOOOU are servile!" Later, Lemongrab vomits profusely in his face (accidentally, but the rest of the time, he treats his servants badly just because he's that much of a jerk.)
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 personnal 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 fire them all.
Potsworth And 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.
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.
Mr. Krabs from Sponge Bob Square Pants 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.
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 unfornuately turns a blind eye to everything he does, the company would never lasted as long as it has.
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."
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 Joseph 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.
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.
The aforementioned Warhammer 40000 Comissars 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.
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.
L. Ron Hubbard (who succumbed to madness and drug abuse) and Dave 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.
James Cameron is widely regarded as one. He is frequently described as egotistical and cruel, frequently yelling at people (even at Arnold Schwarzenegger, when he went to the bathroom before shooting a scene from True Lies!), and abusing his crew with anything, from working through meal breaks to spending too much time in water sets (people getting sick during The Abyss and Titanic were common). As early as the first Terminator, shirts written "You can't scare me... I work for James Cameron" were common in his sets (while shooting T2, there was also "Terminator 3? Not with me!"). Titanic star Kate Winslet stated she only works with Cameron again for "a lot of money". Orson Scott Card described working with him on The Abyss as "hell on wheels", and later described his tendency to force the blame on others (though leaving him unnamed) in his review of Me and Orson Welles.
On the other hand, he does lead by example - during The Abyss, he was usually first into the big tank and last out, working on script edits as he decompressed (it was that big a tank). During True Lies, he insisted on doing the camera work shooting Jamie Lee Curtis dangling from the helicopter personally, under the principle that he's not going to theoretically endanger his lead while he sat safely on the ground. The camera work in question involved being harnessed up so he could lean out an open 'copter door with said heavy camera on his shoulder dozens of feet above the Florida Keys.
Jerkass he may be, but you can't deny the results. Avatar and Titanic are the two top-earning movies of all time!
Roman Emperors who became a Bad Boss to their Praetorian Guard tended to not live for very long. 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.
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.
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 stops with the condemned, but to three generations of their family.