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Bad Boss / Film

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  • Star Wars:
    • Darth Vader, the Trope Namer and the Trope Codifier for You Have Failed Me. While prone to Flanderization, as he only kills two subordinates (in the films anyway), he would have killed the officer that mocked the power of The Force had Tarkin not intervened, and the palpable fear that nearly everyone around him exudes indicates he at least has a strong reputation for this. In the Disney canon, it's mentioned that among Imperial officers, he's not known for bothering with a court-martial when it comes to discipline.
    • In Return of the Jedi, Vader indicates that Emperor Palpatine is even worse about this. Moff Jerjerrod's visible reaction gives a good indication of how horrifying that prospect is.
      Moff Jerjerrod: The Emperor's coming here?!
      Darth Vader: That is correct, Commander. And he is most displeased with your apparent lack of progress.
      Jerjerrod: We shall double our efforts! The station will be completed on time!
      Vader: I hope so, commander, for your sake. The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.
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    • Kylo Ren has thus far been slightly better about this, usually opting to take out his frustrations on the environment around him rather than his subordinates. However, at one point he does become enraged enough to telekenetically drag a First Order officer across the room and choke him.
  • Willie Bank in Ocean's Thirteen 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. It makes it 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.
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  • Casanova Frankenstein in the movie Mystery Men makes the point to the heroes that he is willing to kill his own men for no reason, just to show how tough and insane he is. What made it worse was that the particular Mooks he executed weren't even his own employees, but mercenaries who were temporarily working with him.
  • Bill Lumbergh from Office Space, a passive-aggressive Smug Snake who is especially cruel to Milton, taking his favorite stapler, constantly moving his desk to more and more undesirable locations, oh and laying him off and not telling him about it for several months.
  • Subverted in the first Blade movie: Big Bad Deacon Frost asks a lieutenant, whose losing and subsequent regrowing of arms has been something of a Running Gag throughout the movie, to hold out his hand, ostensibly to test the sharpness of Blade's Cool Sword by cutting his arm off.
    Deacon Frost: [examining Blade's sword] Hold out your arm, Quinn.
    Quinn: 'hy, man? 'Cause they're-they're, like, all better.
    Deacon Frost: Hold out your arm. Now.
    [trembling, Quinn does so; Frost takes aim with the sword]
    Quinn: Deak, I...
    [Frost raises the sword... and lowers it]
    Deacon Frost:: Just kidding.
    [chucks Quinn on the shoulder]
    Quinn: [laughing uproariously] He was fucking with me, man! He was, like...
  • Siegfried in the 2008 Get Smart film is a bad boss, and the film seems very much aware of this trope. In his first scene, he promptly shoots one of his men who questions what seems to be a pointless part of Siegfried's plan (blowing up a warehouse for no apparent reason after stealing stuff from it). This behavior actually has consequences for the bad boss, however, as at the end of the film he's thrown out of his getaway car and off a bridge by his own Dragon after threatening and insulting the guy and his wife repeatedly (once even implying that he intends to replace his dragon with a Rhinoceros, should he fail.). He also continually insults his right-hand man Shtarker, who tells the other goons, "I'd quit, but he's married to my sister." The Dog Bites Back, however.
  • Hans Gruber from Die Hard:
    Hans: Blow the roof!
    Kristoff: But Karl's up there!
    Hans: Blow the roof!
    [blows up the roof]
    • Ironically, blowing up the roof probably saved Karl...
  • The Big Bad Taha Ben Mahmoud from Banlieue 13 is a trigger-happy boss. So trigger happy that his thugs are only in it for the massive money he has. When his hacker minion told him his accounts have been emptied, said minion left and the rest gun Taha down. Even then, he utters this "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner:
    Taha: You all are a bunch of useless dipsh*ts.
    Mooks proceed to gun him down while he points his hands like guns to them.
  • Morris in Big Game shoots one of his Secret Service subordinates in the head and murders the rest by sabotaging their parachute deployment cords so they are unable to protect the president on the ground.
  • Cliffhanger. One of the mooks is injured during the mid-air robbery.
    "What do we do with him?"
    "Send him to the nearest hospital." (throws mook out of the airplane)
  • Commander Kruge from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, who kills his lousy tactical officer when the guy over-performs, destroying a vessel instead of disabling it. The Klingon Promoted guy who takes over knows better than to mess up similarly. Later, however, Kruge is devastated when Kirk orders the Enterprise to self-destruct, killing almost all of Kruge's crew.
  • Shao Kahn of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is very much the Bad Boss, getting rid of Rain and later Jade for having disobeyed or failed him.
  • Clarence Boddicker from RoboCop (1987) when one of his men is shot in a bank heist upon finding him he asks him "Can you fly, Bobby?" He then has him thrown onto a police car that was pursuing them.
  • A similar incident occurs in Beverly Hills Cop III. During the opening truck chase, one of DeWald's accomplices, Taddeo, is winged by Axel and begs for help. DeWald by wordlessly leaning across the stricken henchman, opening the passenger door, and then calmly shoving him out to get run over by the pursuing Axel. Since DeWald doesn't taunt Taddeo it isn't as sadistic as Boddicker, but still pretty callous.
  • In Conan the Barbarian (1982), Thulsa Doom demonstrates his power by ordering one of his worshipers to leap to her death with a gently worded, "Come to me, my child".
  • Kill Bill has several. Bill starts the series by ordering the assassination of a runaway employee...AT HER WEDDING, collateral damage accepted and expected. Budd's boss at the bar he worked at exemplifies a typical, non-murderous yet irrational and petty Bad Boss.
  • Inspector Richard from Kiss of the Dragon. Rather than dive away from a grenade for instance, he just throws a chubby subordinate on top of it. When the hero escapes into a laundry chute but goes up, he tells a man to go after him. The first guy begins to go to the stairs and gets shot, then he grabs a second guy and throws him at the chute. The guy instead starts looking around, but Richard is impatient and pitches him down the chute. By the time Jet Li escapes from the hotel Richard has killed around 60% of his initial crew himself. And much like Kefka and Palpatine, just hanging around him guarantees you'll die. Not bad for a guy who's completely normal, has no superpowers or special skills and the like. He gets away with everything under the sun by being the head of the local branch of Interpol and having agents and normal officers everywhere doctoring evidence and framing other people for it and keeps those in check with blackmail. Considering how much shit would come down on him if any of them stopped protecting him, it REALLY makes his men sticking with him ridiculous.
  • Timothy in The Long Kiss Goodnight receives a call on his radio from a henchman, who sounds badly wounded, saying that he thinks he's dying. Timothy responds "Continue dying", and shuts off his radio.
  • James Bond:
    • Thunderball: Emilio Largo has Quist thrown in his shark pool after he failed to kill Bond.
    • Max Zorin mows 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!"
    • Running SPECTRE like a tyrannical dictator, Ernst Stavro Blofeld is the Trope Namer for The Blofeld Ploy, demanding absolute and unquestionable loyalty from his minions, rarely giving them a second chance, and isn't hesitant to kill anyone who fails him, defects from SPECTRE, or plans to cheat him. Discipline within SPECTRE is notoriously draconian, and to heighten the impact, Blofeld threatens to shoot a random mook, only to suddenly kill another after scaring the shit out of the 1st. For example:
      • From Russia with Love: Evil Genius Number 5/Kronsteen looks on smugly, confident that fellow underling Number 3/Rosa Klebb is being held terminally accountable for their scheme's failure — only for the poisoned blade from Morzeny's shoe to change direction. Klebb is visibly terrified of facing Blofeld's wrath after witnessing Kronsteen's death.
      • In Thunderball, the chairs in the SPECTRE conference room were rigged to electrocute any underling who displeased him.
      • In You Only Live Twice, Blofeld had a pool filled with piranhas in his office — complete with a bridge that underlings were forced to cross when they entered and exited.
      • On Her Majesty's Secret Service: During the second ski chase, when Bond and Tracy enter an avalanche-risk area, Blofeld sends three of his men after them, before deliberately causing an avalanche only moments later that kills his men who he sent into danger for no reason.
      • Diamonds Are Forever: Blofeld is okay with killing his body doubles to go Karma Houdini.
      • For Your Eyes Only: Though he appears as a nameless villain because of the legal logjam surrounding the Bond franchise, Blofeld sends a Disposable Pilot to pick up his Arch-Enemy and deliberately electrocutes him mid-flight so the chopper 007 is in will crash.
      • Spectre: He does it again to a henchman who was supposed to have the Pale King/Mr. White eliminated by ordering his Number Two to have his skull bashed on the table, eyes gouged out, before killing him with a Neck Snap. And the way Blofeld also deals with the Pale King/Mr. White for defecting also qualifies, as he had poisoned his cell phone so that he dies a slow but painful death, watching his own body deteriorate via radiation poisoning.
  • From Mom and Dad Save the World comes this heartwarming scene in which Tod Spengo (Jon Lovitz) asks his mooks which facial hair he should wear to his wedding.
    Tod: Which do you think would be better, goatee or mutton chops?
    Twin Destroyer: Mutton chops, m'Lord!
    Tod: (thinks) Hmm, no. No, I don't think so. Shoot yourself in the head.
    Twin obediently shoots himself in the head.
    • Spengo then decides that muttonchops would look better after all.
  • When Trumpets Fade, an HBO original movie about the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, features a Bad Boss as its protagonist. Private Manning's unit nearly gets wiped out, but Manning survives because he's a coward, so he gets promoted to sergeant and is given command of the raw recruits who are brought in as replacements; he orders one of them to take point on a patrol on his first day, so that Manning can save his own skin. He then leads a group of these same raw recruits to destroy an enemy artillery installation in exchange for a promise that he will be removed from combat duty on psychological grounds if he succeeds. In the course of the mission, one of the two raw recruits, equipped with a flamethrower, runs away, so Manning shoots the fuel tank of the 'thrower, setting the private on fire. While that man is burning to death, Manning turns his pistol on the second flamethrower-equipped private and orders him to charge. While the mission succeeds, only Manning and that one soldier make it back. This gets Manning promoted to lieutenant.
  • Casper: Cathy Moriarty as Carrigan Crittenden does this to Paul "Dibbs" Plutzker (Eric Idle) right up to the point of killing him before getting killed herself.
    "Dibs! This is all your fault, as usual. If you would have just forged the damn will".
    • Actually Carrigan accidentally killed herself while trying to kill Dibbs. Then she kills him since (as a ghost) she no longer needs his services.
  • Horrible Bosses. What do you think it would include? The three horrible bosses mentioned in the movie title include a monster, a rapist, and a hedonist who takes the helm after his father's death.
  • Bamboozled: Thomas C. Dunwitty, the tyrannical vice president of the Continental Network System or (CNS).
    "I don't like to be the laughing stock of the entire broadcast industry. I don't like these pricks who call themselves my bosses breathing down my back. It makes me sweat."
  • Batman Live Action Movies:
    • Jack Nicholson's The Joker from Tim Burton's Batman (1989). When he gets angry at Batman, he asks Bob —his most loyal henchman— for a gun; Bob gives Joker the gun, and the Joker kills him with it, for no reason other than he feels like killing someone.
    • Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight is arguably even worse. In the first scene, he has his gang slaughter each other, and later plants a phone bomb into one of his men. To even join the gang, there are tryouts which involve having the recruitees fight each other with halves of a broken pool cue.
  • King Malbert from the 2008 animated failure Igor does a poor job at ruling his world.
  • Mr Tinkles in Cats & Dogs locks Calico in a building wired to explode.
    "I want you to wait here."
    "Because I hate you."
  • In the made-for-TV movie Deadly Encounter, Zervasco is chasing Sam and Chis in his helicopter. He lands and an M16-toting henchman gets out and pursues the two on foot. Suddenly Sam's friend Frank swoops down in a biplane and whisks the two to safety. An enraged Zervasco gets back into the copter and takes off after them to resume pursuit... completely forgetting his poor henchman, who just gets left behind.
  • David Hasselhoff's character from Click combines this with The Ace.
  • Elysium: Max's foreman docks him a half-day for coming in late and wanting to work with a bum hand, which is somewhat reasonable but still helps to establish him as a jerk. Later on, he forces Max to walk into a radiation chamber which had already been primed (but not activated) to clear a door jam, leading to Max's irradiation when the door slams shut once the jam is cleared. At least he clearly feels bad about this, but he nevertheless forced Max into an extremely unsafe situation. However, the foreman isn't nearly as bad as Carlyle, who is more concerned about Max ruining the bedding in the medical bay than his condition, and even tells his foreman to cover his mouth so they won't breathe the same air.
  • Pain and Gain: Victor treats his employees at the sandwich shop like crap. They liked their new boss Daniel. Now that Victor runs the place again, he either treats them worse for fires them for liking Daniel.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Captain America: The First Avenger: Johann Schmidt, aka the Red Skull, continually shows no concern for the welfare of his men, despite their fanatical devotion to Schmidt, having them chomp cyanide pills when captured to avoid giving out information on him, executing one merely for surviving an attack on a HYDRA base, and activating the self-destruct sequence at another HYDRA base when the Allied forces overrun it, not caring that hundreds of his troops will be killed in the blast
    • Agent Carter - One-Woman Army Peggy Carter is treated as a glorified secretary by her Straw Misogynist boss, Agent Flynn, who believes that her post-WWII placement in the Strategic Scientific Reserve was out of pity for her mourning the loss of Captain America (despite, just from what was seen on-screen in Captain America: The First Avenger, Carter already having a distinguished military/espionage career during the war). Just as Flynn is about to bring the hammer down on Carter for taking on a mission without authorization, he is handed a large slice of Humble Pie in the form of orders for Carter's transfer to command of the fledgling S.H.I.E.L.D organization—along with orders for Flynn himself to inform Carter of the transfer politely and in full view of the other agents.
    • Hank Pym in Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp is a downplayed example but he is not pleasant to work with, as he uses threats and manipulation to force Scott to work for him and it's revealed by his ex-colleague Bill that he has driven most of his other colleagues away due to his hostility and aggression.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: The Collector imprisoned one of his assistants in one of the glass cages of his museum for disappointing him, and uses her as an example to another to keep her from doing a disappointing job as well. This bites him in the caboose later on, as the mistreated assistant grabs the Infinity Stone, which is known to cause extremely violent explosions when touched by living beings, in an attempt to kill both herself and the Collector.
    • Subverted in Thor: Ragnarok. The Grandmaster may be a Laughably Evil despot who's forcing capture slav... er, "prisoners with jobs" to fight to the death in his arena, but he's not petty. While berating Loki and Valkyrie for the escape of Hulk and Thor, Loki interrupts him, to which his Number Two Topaz immediately hands him his "melt-stick" that he uses against enemies of the state. He's just confused why she would think that something as minor as speaking out of line is a capital offense.
  • In Lord of Illusions, Nix the Puritan repays his cultists' blind obedience to him and bringing him back from the dead with burying them all alive. No, he's not their or anyone else's shepherd.
  • The first Bad Boys movie gives us French gangster Fouchet, who never had pity for anyone and orchestrated several murders pretty unnecessary. He has one of his men dress up as a police officer to steal millions of dollars worth of heroin from a police station evidence lock up, and then kills him in order to create a distraction. Fouchet kills Eddie, who helped him set the heist up, for partying with some hookers and a tiny portion of the stash, and his chemistry team for "fucking with my schedule".
  • In The Wolverine, Shingen Yashida treats Yukio like crap, despite her faithful service to the Family.
  • In The Great White Hype, Sultan rewards his subordinates but makes it abundantly clear that he is the boss, his word goes and do not piss him off. Wielding a very hefty looking scimitar during a business meeting is not a sign of a nice man. But then, his Expy is somewhat notorious.
  • Shoot 'em Up: Mr Hertz. Shoots one of his own wounded henchmen because he was using him for cover and his labored breathing was ruining his aim. Also plugs another already wounded-in-the-ass mook in the other cheek because he let a "bum" get away with the baby.
  • In Love Crime, Christine takes all credit for Isabelle's work, and then, when Isabelle tries to get out from under her, she makes her life a living hell of public humiliations. Nor is Isabelle her only victim; it's implied that the last person who held Isabelle's job ended up in a mental asylum.
  • Tank Girl. The Big Bad Kesslee, Up to Eleven.
    • He kills a loyal minion/doctor because she couldn't repair his face. So, downloading him into a holographic projection of his head is somehow an IMPROVEMENT?!
    • He also kills a competent captain of his men, because he hadn't yet captured a small area of land. Maybe if he didn't kill all of his competent people, he would have survived.
  • Two from Pirates of the Caribbean:
    Maccus: You'll trust us to act in your stead?
    Jones: I'll trust you to know what awaits should you fail!
    • Blackbeard in the fourth film maintains his crew's fear of him by never letting them see him, employs zombies to keep them in line, burns a man alive for taking part in a mutiny, and plays a Russian Roulette game with his own daughter to force Jack to obey him. His crew are shown to be a lot happier once Barbossa kills Blackbeard and takes over his job.
    Blackbeard: If I don't shoot a man every now and then, they forget who I am.
  • In Soviet spy drama Miss Mend, Chichi the anti-Bolshevik terrorist boss pays a visit to his minions. A chemist tells Chichi about the poison gas he's developing to use against the Soviet Union. After the chemist gives Chichi a gas mask as a precaution, Chichi smashes the flask containing the poison gas. The scientist dies.
  • In Spy, Disk One Final Boss Raina is such a Bad Boss that her security detail is quickly reduced to being entirely CIA moles, the rest being killed for failure. It extends to aspects of being a boss beyond keeping them alive as well. At one point a minion tries to kill her for never remembering his name, angrily declaring that he's called Fredrick... and she still forgets his name mere moments later.
  • In Ninotchka, Komissar Razinin is feared by pretty much all of his underlings, as he has the power to order deportations to Siberia.
  • The bandit chief from Seven Samurai is a ruthless man who doesn't have the patience for deserters and kills one or two of his men for trying to abandon him.
  • Under Siege 2: Dark Territory: Mr. Penn rips out the throat of one of his subordinates after the latter suggests just splitting before the hero, Casey Ryback, comes for them. Earlier on, he casually shoots another of his men after he's been set on fire to ensure that the burning man doesn't damage any of their high-tech equipment.
  • Amanda Waller from Suicide Squad (2016) while a Well-Intentioned Extremist, clearly treats both her subjects and employees horribly. Not only is she fully willing to execute her Squad just for disobedience and screw them over in the end despite after everything they had done but also shows no qualms murdering her own staff members in order to cover up her own incompetence.
  • Kull the Conqueror: Queen Akivasha is often tormenting the priest who resurrected her by burning off parts of his face.
    Akivasha: Slaves should know their place.
  • Per his characterization in the comics, Magneto's leadership in the X-Men Film Series is often revealed to be this, most notably in the original trilogy (and in particular during X-Men: The Last Stand). His callous abandonment of longtime Dragon Mystique after she is depowered foreshadows how willing he is to kill her in the prequel film X-Men: Days of Future Past (admittedly to save all of mutantkind). Even in X-Men: First Class he shows shades of this, stylizing himself as the Drill Sergeant Nasty to the titular first class. There's a reason why, when Magneto makes his We Can Rule Together speech at the end, Mystique is the only one to take him up on the offer.
  • Stroker Ace's Clyde Torkle is a minor example. Once he has Stroker under contract, he proceeds to torment him with advertising slogans and events that Stroker can't stand, the first evil being stamping "Fastest chicken in the South" on Stroker's car. He threatens to fire Arnold just because he can't keep up with Stroker during an impromptu road race, and it's clear that he only hired Pembrook just to get the opportunity to sleep with her, although this backfires spectacularly.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): Ludendorff murders a subordinate simply for complaining about his men being tired and hungry.
  • In Judgement Night, the Big Bad kills one of his men, after the guy kept complaining about how pointless it is to hunt down and kill innocent civilians in the middle of the night. Granted, those civilians did witness them commit a murder.a
  • Timothy, who runs the SNL Expy in Don't Think Twice has a reputation for this, although the moments we see of him onscreen portray him as more harsh, but not ill-meaning.
    Jack's Co-worker: For your first year, just try not to get fired.
  • Studio head Alfie Alperin in Sunset is a sadist who will inflict physical punishment on employees who have failed him.