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  • Most of Batman's adversaries.
    • The Joker:
      • Batman: The Animated Series eventually addressed this, as the Joker became increasingly strapped for cash because potential thugs were all too scared to work for him. Specifically, he once pushed a henchman into the path of an oncoming truck for asking a simple question about their plan, shouting "Mind your own business!" He did that after he explained it to him. Though, to be fair, Joker is insane. He probably did it because he thought it would be funny. That's why he does most of what he does! This is hilariously lampshaded in "The Man Who Killed Batman", where a thug asks an obvious question only to get pushed into the ground and attacked by the Joker's pet hyenas. Harley Quinn gives a bored sigh and announces: "I'll get the mop."
      • In Death of the Family, Joker tells Harley that she's not the first one to bear the name, but that a good line before her who have apparently outlived their usefulness.
      • In Burton's Batman (1989), 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.
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    • Bane may sometimes subvert this trope, but during The Dark Knight Rises, he inspires fanatical loyalty, and murders henchmen left, right and centre; said fanatical loyalty even extends to one guy committing suicide just because he told them to.
    • Another subversion is The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot. While certainly a hard master, he generally keeps his promises to his employees, pays them well, and doesn't kill them without reason.
    Bullock: (after Penguin is betrayed for the umpteenth time) You may want to re-think your management style.
  • 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.
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    • In the mainstream comics, in one story it is revealed that a clause in LexCorp contracts results in any employee who uses company resources to help Superman in any way being fired on the spot—and if you happen to be on company property, this counts as trespassing and if you don't leave immediately you will be killed. In the 80s, at least one story also shows him bullying a female employee into "having dinner" with him whether she likes it or not—physically bullying by crushing her hand. Another showed that he had rigged Metropolis with bombs so that if he was ever exposed, he was ready to take his company and the entire city he built to Hell with him.
    • One example in Superman: The Animated Series, when Brainiac kidnapped him and was threatening everyone present he abandons his right hand woman Mercy to her death, leaving Superman to save her. To her credit, she eventually rebels and uses Lexcorp (which he legally gave her when sent to prison, so she'd return it) for herself.
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    • 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.
  • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man has two examples for the price of one: Superman's boss Morgan Edge is a demanding, unpleasant grump. Spider-Man's boss J Jonah Jameson is the hilariously abusive version.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • (Pre-Flashpoint) Queen Atomia treats her slaves like complete garbage, killing them when they fail to follow her orders or when they mindlessly embellish them. She even casually tells two of them to go immolate themselves and they do it without any hesitation. The fact that she has slaves who'll blindly follow her every whim—whom she created by forcibly transforming people—and it only makes her bored shows what a horrible person she is.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Veronica Cale will arrange the deaths of her employees if it suits her goals, and at one point has a huge chunk of the security staff of her businesses' main campus disposed of to hide her new allies and goals.
  • In many ways, this can be considered to be Magneto's Fatal Flaw. While his goals (at least post-Claremont Character Development) are noble and his means are, if not condonable, at least understandable, the ways he treats those who follow him have always been... well, bad. As an unrepentant Card-Carrying Villain in the Silver Age, it is unsurprising to see Mags mercilessly bullying and demeaning minions such as Mastermind and the Toad, but even during the Claremont era when he was trying to reform Mags had a somewhat cavalier attitude about the students under his charge, ultimately abandoning them for a failed bid to steer the Hellfire Club's wealth and resources towards pro-mutant agendas, Later followers like the Acolytes were treated little better, and just as recently as 2016 he delivered a brutal "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Exodus, arguably his most loyal follower ever. As the Cullen Bunn Magneto run demonstrates in multiple instances, Mags just can not stop himself from treating (and seeing) his followers as "underlings" more than people, to be bent and used and thrown away at his discretion.
  • 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.
    • Red Skull's favorite method is the Dust of Death, a chemical weapon of his own design that kills quickly and painfully, leaving their corpses with red skin and a red skull of their own. Back in the day, he would play Chopins Funeral March before using it to execute subordinates who had displeased him (or if he just felt like it), so that from then on he could terrify them just by playing the music as they knew it meant he was about to kill somebody.
    • There is also Mother Night, one of his most loyal and devoted underlings and the woman who raised his daughter Syn for him, and for a time basically his girlfriend. Which is to say, he beat her savagely and frequently For the Evulz, bullying her publicly and privately, at one point starting a relationship with the terrorist Viper / Madame Hydra partly just to piss her off. He would constantly ridicule, berate and make fun of her even if other people were around, make messes and order her to clean them up, and when she begged for death ("for failing him") he refused simply because that is what she wanted. And he enjoyed every minute of it.
    • Not that he treated Syn that much better either. After toying with killing her for not being a boy (getting as far as raising her above a cliff on a dark and stormy night to throw her off it), he made use of her by performing numerous experiment to make her the ideal assassin, at turns aging and de-aging her so he didn't have to put up with her childhood. And then he made sure Mother Night gave her a Training from Hell so that she could murder for him efficiently.
    • He isn't above gassing or slaughtering half or all of his organization to cover his tracks or whenever they have outlived their usefulness either.
    • He once executed his entire kitchen staff for ''screwing up his meal''.
    • 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.
  • Fantastic Four:
    • While Doctor Doom loves his country and his subjects, he treats anyone who works for him as expendable, and has no qualms about killing them himself, if it suits his current needs. Supervillains who work with Doom might find that their lives are a bit safer, but he usually treats them with as little respect as he treats his underlings.
    • Annihilus is much worse in this regard. Not only is he verbally and physically abusive towards his henchmen, he regularly kills them for shockingly petty reasons. Doom will kill minions if he thinks he needs to for his plan to work. Annihilus has killed minions for completing tasks behind schedule. A big part of the issue is that Annihilus is The Paranoiac to an extreme; he mistreats or kills henchmen not to punish them or to sate his bloodlust, but simply out of a misguided fear that they’ll turn on him one day just like everybody else.
  • 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 2003 Aquaman series, Black Manta is one of these to the henchmen serving as crew on his submarine as they monitor Sub Diego. Admittedly, for such a cruel guy he's oddly calm and forgiving here; the worst he doles out is a severe verbal thrashing at his underlings for talking too loud on a stealth mission.
  • Darkseid is very nasty to his world full of servants. Question his decisions? Omega Beams. Compliment him for an apparent act of mercy? Omega Beams. Accomplish your mission with (almost) flying colors? Omega Beams. Fail him? You wish you'll get Omega Beams. Darkseid does have the ability to resurrect the dead, when the people he kills become useful again. Given what life with Darkseid as a boss is like, death might be preferable. Despite all of this, the people of Apokolips are fanatically loyal to Darkseid and are utterly dependent on having a tyrant rule them.
  • The Kingpin:
    • A tendency to execute henchmen who have screwed up or slighted him in some way, or are even just forced to die so that he looks more fearful to the survivors. Why a supposed Genius Bruiser has not realized over the years that this makes the jobs of Spider-Man, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and a few thousand other street-level heroes easier is a total mystery.
    • Another example: He trains himself by fighting a group of martial artists, and very often, he kills the last one standing just so the rest of them are inspired to do better next time. Even worse, if they fight hard enough to make him look bad, he might kill all of them.
    • Ultimate Spiderman offered a plausible explanation. In the first storyline with Kingpin as the Big Bad, Spiderman manages to get a video of him crushing a henchman's skull. The Kingpin's Slasher Smile shows that Kingpin enjoys killing people with his bare hands. Executing henchmen that have failed him gives Kingpin an opportunity to sate his bloodlust since he isn't a street level thug anymore.
  • Another Daredevil example is the Owl, an abusive Mood-Swinger who will torturously murder henchmen who betray or fail him once too often. The most disturbing part is that his bursts of viciousness come completely out of nowhere; most of the time he comes off as affable and reasonable enough, but if a mook slips up suddenly he'll be screaming at the top of his lungs and having the guy's skull bashed in.
    • This trope is one of the reasons why Owl is a Big Bad Wannabe rather than real Big Bad material like Kingpin; he's so unstable and vicious that he doesn't have nearly as many good henchmen as Fisk. Not to mention, whereas Kingpin is usually able to at least restrain himself from brutalizing mooks for every minor screw-up, Owl is too impatient and short-tempered to do so and thus runs through henchmen faster than most.
  • In Sin City, after it is revealed that Manute is working for Ava Lord, Dwight asks why he would work for such a manipulative person. Manute admits that she is evil, uncaring, and likely to turn on him (which she does), but is simply seduced by her power.
  • Doctor Octopus could easily have been the Trope Namer for Insufferable Genius, given the way he treats his henchmen. In the Marvel Comics 2 universe, his successor Lady Octopus acts much the same way when she appears in the Spider-Girl series.
  • There's a weirdly surreal example of this in Hellboy: The Black Flame. After getting involved in a bunch of Lovecraftian cult stuff, the CEO of a Mega-Corp calls a board meeting. The board members file in to find the CEO standing there, wearing a steampunk-nazi battlesuit that glows with black flames of pure dark energy and surrounded by demonic frog minions. They stare at him, and he informs them that he now owns 51% of the company and they are all fired. Cue fiery death, right? Nope. No puns, no nothing, he just fires them and they leave.
  • In Chew, Mike Applebee makes it no secret that he hates Tony Chu's guts, and thus sees to volunteering Chu to the most disgusting cases available. After a one night stand with Chu's friend and partner in the force, John Colby, Applebee lets up on the torture in order to get on Colby's good side... until he realizes that Colby has absolutely no interest in continuing any sort of relationship, at which point he stops assigning Chu and Colby to gross jobs and starts sending them straight-up deadly ones.
  • While Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog character Dr. Robotnik's status as one would have been debatable since, while sentient, his machines are also easily reassembled and evil by nature, lately this has become more apparent. In particular is when both times the Dark Egg Legion were the only forces he had available to him. The first time he told Dimitri that since Echidnas were in such short supply, he intended to "use" them to the last man, and hoped they proved durable enough that he didn't run out of them too quickly. The second time, when Lien-Da asked him why he would brutally attack them one minute, then rehabilitate and upgrade them the next while praising Lien-Da's ruthless and traitorous practices, he says, with a psychotic grin, "Because it's all part of the game!"
    • In one issue, Espio is infiltrating a base belonging to Robotnik. When he confronts the head robot running the place, it begs for mercy and expresses fear despite the fact that only a small few of Robotnik's lieutenant robots are sentient in any way. Espio grimly notes that this means Robotnik explicitly programs his robots to simulate fear just so he can have fun tormenting them.
  • Mr. Crabbe, the supervisor of the milk men in Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman hates Reid with a deep, abiding passion. Which is not unreasonable—Reid does plenty to earn his hatred. But when he starts trying to shoot Reid simply because Reid has talked the company president into not giving him a well-deserved punishment for wrecking yet another milk-truck, you begin to sense that Crabbe may not be entirely rational about the matter.
  • Malcom LeStrange of Power & Glory, leader of the National Intelligence Agency who created the superhero A-Pex. LeStrange pals with drug dealers, carelessly kills nuns, and bamboozles money from the United Nations' Childrens' Milk Fund.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • Chief Judge Cal routinely berates judges for minor infractions. For example, one judge loses a button from his uniform and is ordered to perform all his duties in his underwear for the remainder of the story arc.
    • When War Marshal Kazan's subordinates screw up or even tell of progress, he sends them to Siberia. With no winter clothing. Later, he gets more creative by ordering the Judge who let Dredd escape, inadvertently causing the destruction of East Meg One, to play a daily game of Russian Roulette.
    • When the Dark Judges still had a Judge force under their clawed thumbs to participate in their campaign to annihilate the living, they eagerly massacred their living minions for various infractions. When the whole civilian population was dead, the four undead ones finally killed the rest of the Judges because they had no more use for them.
  • Shakara: The Overlord, who murders his followers willy nilly if they do anything to piss him off, and ultimately ends up betraying and murdering all of his allies when they turn on him.
  • In one arc of Justice Society of America Classified, Icicle and Wizard put together a new version of the Injustice Society in order to free Johnny Sorrow from an extra-dimensional prison. Sorrow, as it turns out, is a terrible boss, being a megalomaniacal Humanoid Abomination who can kill people merely by exposing his face, and who shamelessly uses this threat to force people to serve him, and the only reason that the Injustice Society agrees to bust him out is because he's holding Wizard's psychic self hostage.
  • New Avengers (2015): The Maker, head of the new mad science institution W.H.I.S.P.E.R., tends to take his minions asking for help with superhero-related problems as an offer to be subjected to whatever new mad experiment he can think of. His idea of rewarding them isn't any better. He straps them to a table and removes several of their organs, as he turns them into a sycophantic insect-person.
  • Iznogoud: Iznogoud routinely mistreats Wa'at Alahf, using him as a guinea pig for every potion or spell he plans to use to get rid of the Caliph, in which capacity the hapless henchman has been turned invisible, turned into a frog, turned into a walking disaster magnet, shrunk down to a height of mere inches, made so light that he floats away unless he is carrying a boulder, trapped in an inescapable magic maze, rendered catatonic, rendered an amnesiac shell, and repeatedly banished to alternate dimensions.
  • Tank Vixens: Udda, leader of the VIMP forces, is known to shoot people not just because You Have Failed Me, but out of boredom, irritation, outright sociopathy...

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