Follow TV Tropes

Following

Beleaguered Boss

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cantankerus.jpg

"Fuck... ALL Y'ALL! Do you have any idea what it's been like trying to lead you people!? You ignore all of my strategies, you adamantly refuse to work together, and then you blame me FOR All OF YOUR PROBLEMS!"
Heathcliff, Sword Art Online Abridged
Advertisement:

Life is tough for the Beleaguered Assistant. But if there's one thing worse than working for incompetent, sociopathic or outright evil characters, it's being in charge of them.

See also Surrounded by Idiots, We ARE Struggling Together and Only Sane Employee. Enraged by Idiocy may ensue.

Compare Authority in Name Only, the Nerd Nanny and the Cloudcuckoolander's Minder. Often overlaps with Da Chief (especially when the Cowboy Cop and Mayor Pain are involved), Mildly Military or Military Maverick.


Advertisement:

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Overlord (2012): Much of the drama/humor in the series comes from Ainz being a (relatively) good person, but all but 3 of his underlings are unapologetically evil and he's incapable of understanding that they simply can't relate to humans at all, other than as pawns to be sacrificed or obstacles to be removed. Eventually, a single human works in Nazarick, and even then she's only left uneaten because Ainz made it known she was under his protection. Compounding the problem is that he still thinks as though he was a powerless salaryman while the Guardians can't be persuaded that he isn't the godlike and omniscient evil lich he roleplayed as, and he feels guilty about changing the behavior of characters created by his former guildmates.
    • At the start of the series, Ainz makes an offhand comment about taking over the world, which the Guardians take as a direct order and start acting on. When he finally finds out what they've been up to (in season 3), he decides to make the best of it and eventually creates a kingdom where people of all races can live in peace and tolerance.
    • Ainz assigns Lupusregina to keep watch over Carne village. She doesn't bother to report things like giant monsters leading armies near the village, because who cares if a bunch of humans (including, unbeknownst to her, those Ainz had plans for) get wiped out? Ainz has to make it clear she is to defend the important people in the village for her to do so (and even then she'd gladly watch them die screaming, something the village goblins are quick to pick up on).
    • Ainz' every attempt at being a Benevolent Boss (paying the underlings, giving them days off...) ends in failure because they consider it an honor if not a religious duty to serve him. He ends up having to install a rota for the maids because otherwise they all try to attend to him every single day.
    • Yuri the head maid brings Solution before Ainz for stealing something from Ainz. After Yuri takes it on herself to try and beat Solution to death, twice, Ainz finally gets Yuri to understand he just wants Solution to explain herself (Solution was jealous of an ordinary slime being used to scrub Ainz's skeleton clean and hid the slime because she wanted that job herself). Both leave alive, astounded at Ainz's boundless forgiveness and benevolence.
  • Chihoukishi Hans No Junan: Hans is the lord of a backwater province in a Medieval European Fantasy where Japanese people with stupidly-overpowered abilities keep popping up for unknown reasons. He has to make sure their powers don't get them noticed by his superiors or by other countries, but unfortunately, there's more than one Idiot Hero on the team and they all have a bad case of New Powers as the Plot Demands, each flashier and more destructive than the last. Appropriately enough, the title translates to "The suffering of local knight Hans".
  • In Konosuba, Kazuma is the team leader of his incompetent party and Unwanted Harem that are made up of three sociopathic girls all with Crippling Overspecialization and take turns at being The Load. They endlessly annoy him and there are many instances he'd be happy to be rid of them.
  • Gate: Pina is overjoyed at having managed to negotiate a peace settlement with the JSDF that's unbelievably generous to the Empire, mostly wanting information and the return of prisoners instead of ruinous reparations. Then she learns that her Amazon Brigade ran into Itami, captured him and beat the crap out of him on the way back (as there is no radio in the special area, Bozes and the knights thought they were still at war). As this incident could reignite a war the Empire cannot possibly win, Pina orders Bozes to sleep with Itami by way of apology (something aristocratic daughters are used to doing). Bozes enters Itami's room... but on finding him having a tea party with the demihuman maids, opts to slap him instead. On seeing Itami even more roughed up than before, Pina understandably decides to join the delegation herself to prevent any more incidents.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix:
    • In Asterix and the Goths, Asterix and Obelix pull a Mugged for Disguise on two Roman soldiers (who think they're the invading Goths). When news gets around that the Goths are disguised as legionaries, they start arresting each other for the reward (and since the Gauls have since gone back to their own clothes, aren't bothered by the Romans either). The Roman general understandably has a breakdown. In the original French, his name was Nenpeuplus, phonetically meaning "can't take it anymore".
    • Asterix the Legionary: The Roman decurion Nefarius Purpus finds out that his Mildly Military squad (made entirely of non-Romans) have better things to do than follow his orders when there's drinking, gambling, and sightseeing to be done. Even worse, he gets punished for it when the entirety of the 1st legion, 3rd cohort, 2nd maniple, 1st century wanders by Caesar's tent in twos and threes and identify themselves.
      Nefarius Purpus: So there you are! Things are going to be a bit different around here! This is a military camp! There's got to be discipline here! They've got a guardroom here! And I know someone who...
      Military Police: Officer in command of the detachment of the 1st legion, 3rd cohort, 2nd maniple, 1st century?
      Nefarius Purpus: That's right!
      Military Police: Right! We arrest you in the name of Julius Caesar, who doesn't like being interrupted when he's talking! It's the guardroom for you!
  • In Runaways, Alex is the Only Sane Man on a team that includes a Dumb Jock, a Soapbox Sadie, a temperamental airhead, and a Cute Bruiser. Subverted in that he intentionally built the team this way; they were supposed to die fighting their own evil parents so that he and his parents would reap all the benefits of the Doomsday Plot for themselves.
  • Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: Superpositioning coordinates? That was not your job! Richards wants a stress test on the gate walling, to make sure that it doesn't flex on the given coordinates! If you need more men, call Fury and get more men! And quickly, the project must be finished for yesterday, or that Gah Lak Tus will kill us all! God, don't you see that you're all working on a crime against science?

    Fan Works 
  • Sword Art Online Abridged:
    • Heathcliff is the leader of the most powerful guild in the game. Unfortunately, most players are extremely representative of the worst stereotypes of MMO players (the protagonist included), causing him no end of headaches. Their idiocy plays a part in his Villainous Breakdown, although Kirito points out that someone who plays a multiplayer game with permanent invulnerability has no place criticizing others dying stupid deaths.
    Heathcliff: Christ, it's like herding cats with you people!
Advertisement:

    Films — Animation 
  • The Mansions of the Gods: The Roman centurion keeps trying to convince his troops that the Gauls are out of magic potion, but they've been beaten by the Gauls too often for them to believe it. When they finally come to him for orders he's since Stopped Caring (helped by the fact that they've gone on strike to demand things like being ordered politely and better living conditions than the slaves who built the titular luxury condominiums). The fact that he's played by Alexandre Astier means Kaamelott viewers feel right at home.
  • Mulan: Shang is in charge of getting the new recruits into shape, over the course of the Ear Worm "Let's Get Down To Business", better known as "I'll Make A Man Out Of You". While his efforts go unrewarded at first, the recruits finally shape up once Mulan (the least competent of them all) succeeds in getting an arrow down from a pole, inspiring them.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Ciaphas Cain:
    • During his years with the Valhallan 12th Artillery Regiment, Cain was forever pulling Guardsmen out of Arbites cells for drunken brawling, indecent behavior and otherwise disturbing the peace. While most commissars wouldn't have hesitated in shooting the lot of them and inspiring discipline through fear, Cain always does his best to limit his discipline to prison, latrine duty and floggings so as to maintain his popularity with the men (as so many martinets end up dying heroic deaths suspiciously far away from the front line). As his reputation grows, this has the side effect of the troopers doing their job flawlessly while on duty: no one wants to be the one who disappointed Commissar Ciaphas Cain, Hero of the Imperium (he cites one man as preferring to take on a Carnifex with a broken chair leg rather than let Cain down).
    • According to Inquisitor Vail, most Imperial Guard commissars operate at a regimental level, but the Imperial Navy has a single man enforcing discipline for entire fleets of Mile Long Ships, who understandably spends his days drinking himself to death in his cabin and leaving the men under him blissfully unaware of his existence.
  • Harry Potter: Downplayed in the case of Quidditch: While Wood takes the sport as Serious Business, organizing training sessions at dawn and keeps reminding his players between classes that the match is coming up, the team is sufficiently well-knit that it can be played for humor. Then in fifth year, Angelina Johnson becomes Captain and admits she might have been too hard on Wood (the fact that one of the teachers personally hates them and Ron is a very sub-par replacement for Wood at first doesn't make it easier). When Harry takes over in his sixth year, he not only has to deal with the usual Slytherin attacks and sabotage, Ron's lack of self-confidence and dealing with Cormac, the backup Keeper who clearly thinks he should be Captain and often acts as though this is the case, accidentally costing Griffyndor a match when he was explaining to a Beater how to do their job and ended up knocking Harry out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Arrow, while the majority of the time Team Arrow is a well polished and disciplined team, Season 5 introduces the Team Arrow Recruits, who are much more of a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits than their predecessors and make things very difficult for Oliver.
  • Kaamelott: Most of the comedy comes from King Arthur trying his best to keep his knights on the quest for the Holy Grail and defend Britain from invaders. Unfortunately, he's Surrounded by Idiots above (the gods never give him a clear and precise definition of what the Grail is or even looks like, the Lady of the Lake keeps sending him on quests for useless junk), below (the peasants revolt every other week or take Sitcom Arch-Nemesis to livestock-poisoning levels), and at his level (the knights all have their own idea of what actually constitutes chivalrous behavior, and those who're actually competent in combat can be counted on one hand that's been in an industrial accident).
    Arthur: Lord, I shall devote myself entirely to the noble quest with which You have honored me. But with the team of dumbasses I'm stuck with, we're not out of the brambles yet.
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, the titular Legends are a team of B-List outcast superheroes and failed villains. They are initially led by the long-suffering Rip Hunter, who is Authority in Name Only, as no-one listens to his orders. After his departure, Sara Lance is put in charge, who while has more of a grip on leadership, she also has to deal with a lot of the Legends' antics.
  • Justified: Chief Deputy Marshall Art Mullen spends much of his time all but muttering 'What now?' as he tries to keep his deputy marshalls in line and out of trouble. When a social climbing Deputy Marshall comes around hinting that it might be time for Art to retire so he can take over Art's job, Art gives an epic description of what he's dealing with:
    Art Mullen: You came here about the job, right? You need to hear about this. I got a young kid here, decorated sniper in Iraq War, Army Ranger, I don't know how many kills he had. Always lookin' to kill somebody else. Probably got PTSD. Probably an alcoholic. Not a matter if that powder keg is gonna blow but when. I got a lady marshall here. Brought in two of the top fifteen fugitives to this office, but she's always tryin' to prove herself. I thought she was gonna be the one that would take this office over when I got ready to retire, but now she's left her husband so it's gonna be fun to monitor her emotional state over the next year, see if she can keep it together. Then I got a local boy, born in Harlan county, been investigated so many times internal affairs has got him on speed dial. Father's in prison for murderin' two people, including a state trooper, and his daddy killed somebody else last night in prison and I get to be the one to tell him about it!
  • On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Captain Cragen had to put up with Benson and Stabler's complete lack of regard for procedure and constitutional rights. He's been suspended twice for his inability to properly supervise them.
  • On Leverage, Nate Ford leads a crew of thieves that are the best at what they do. But when they're not working they are a walking collection of personality disorders who have no respect for Nate's boundaries. Not only did they drag Nate back into a life of crime, they turned his apartment into their new headquarters against his will. Hardison has made it clear that he has all of Nate's passwords, and has used them.
  • NewsRadio: Boyish news director Dave Nelson of WNYX has to deal with an office full of squabbling misfits of varying degrees of ineptitude, ego, and disregard for authority, among them his girlfriend/would-be replacement Lisa and bombastic anchor Bill, along with Dave's own boss, Jimmy James, eccentric billionaire station owner. By the end of the series, when all his Midwestern idealism has been chipped away, all that's left is bitterness, snark, and a lasting hatred of Wacky Guy reporter Matthew.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Many Imperial Guard commanders end up feeling like this if they have to work with other branches of Imperial armed forces. Space Marines expect ordinary Guardsmen to keep up with seven-foot-tall gene-tailored Super Soldiers in Power Armor and may refuse their aid based on perceived faults in the Guards' genetic purity, Sisters of Battle close in on the enemy with flamers and organize prayer meetings when not fighting, the Inquisition is liable to arrest, judge, and burn people as heretics... and that's not counting the Guardsmen who seem to think retreat in the face of Chaos, giant monsters, and aliens is a good idea (fortunately they have Commissars to deal with that).
    • While fandom takes it Up to Eleven, any Chaos commander leading a force consisting of multiple Chaos Space Marine Legions, warbands, and daemons will run into this problem, because there exists a four-way rivalry between the Chaos gods, where killing another god's champion (or even your own god's champion) is liable to get the killer rewarded by his patron god.

    Video Games 
  • To prevent Twinking and powergaming, the Pokémon games have a mechanic where traded Pokémon only obey your orders up to a certain level (that increases with the Gym badges you've obtained), randomly wasting turns by goofing off, using a different move or going to sleep to show their contempt for you. This isn't entirely foolproof: if the Pokémon is strong enough, the battle just takes longer but still ends in one hit when it does obey.

    Web Comics 
  • Roy Greenhilt of The Order of the Stick has to contend with a cleric who needs to be told to Shut Up and Save Me!, a somewhat arrogant wizard, a kleptomaniac rogue, a ranger who's a violent sociopath (and his cat), and the prince of all Quirky Bards. You really feel for the guy (and his alignment is even given as "Beleaguered Good" in the adventure game based on the comic).

    Western Animation 
  • Regular Show provides us with Benson, the head keeper of the park, who has to deal with slackers Mordecai and Rigby on a regular basis, Muscle Man's constant pranking, and the others having their moments of Not So Above It All, with his boss Pops being a Cloudcuckoolander. It takes the constant threat of George Jetson Job Security to keep Mordecai and Rigby in line, and even then they constantly bring near-apocalyptic chaos to the park with their Weirdness Magnet luck. As a result, he is so constantly angry that the one time Pops orders Benson to rein in his anger or else he will be fired, Benson makes himself sick from all the pent-up rage... and when Pops tells him to let it out, the angry rant he unleashes comes along with a Super Saiyan-esque Super Mode.
  • In Teen Titans Go!, Robin is the team leader of the incompetent Teen Titans, though unlike most examples of this trope he's just as bad (if not worse) than the team he's leading. Several instances indicate the Titans hold little to no respect for him as leader and would be happy to replace him or ursurp his leadership when given the chance.

Top

Example of:

/

Feedback