Follow TV Tropes


Going Postal

Go To

"And this button-down, Oxford-cloth psycho might just snap, and then stalk from office to office with an Armalite AR-10 carbine gas-powered semi-automatic weapon, pumping round after round into colleagues and co-workers. This might be someone you've known for years. Someone very, very close to you."
Narrator, Fight Club

Some jobs are bad enough to knock a guy off his rocker. If one more person comes by and tells them to put the new TPS cover on the TPS report, they will go on a murderous rampage.

Real Life has more premeditated mayhem. In TV Land, the worker snaps on the spot and becomes an Improbable Weapon User, wielding something work-related, like a boxcutter, letter opener or something hefty to bludgeon with.

Named after a series of incidents involving U.S. Postal Service workers going on killing sprees dating as far back as 1983, and occurring most infamously in Edmond, Oklahoma in 1986 that has henceforth become a part of popular culture.

While Going Postal is strictly a work-related massacre caused by a disgruntled employee, it may involve elements of a Berserk Button, a Rage Breaking Point, Beware the Nice Ones, Selective Enforcement or a combination of the four. Compare Axes at School and Spree Killer.

For the Discworld novel, see Going Postal (which does not contain any examples of this trope).


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Jagaaaaaan: Jagasaki dreams of doing this because of how utterly boring he feels his life as a police officer is. But when he becomes a Fractured Human, he gets a full taste of what his wish entails.
  • In the anime of Boruto, Boruto deals with a disgruntled video game worker trying to blow up the local bank due to his bosses putting a lot of stress on his work, believing that no one liked the games he made. Luckily for him, Boruto is a huge fan of his games and manages to convince him from continuing with his plan (which was very poorly planned from the beginning).

    Comic Books 
  • Judge Dredd: A lot of people suffer from this. Mega City One is an overcrowded hellhole and the majority of the population is unemployed because all the work is done by robots. It is known as Future Shock or Going Futsie. Interesting in that it is treated as a medical condition, rather than a crime.
  • The comic Irredeemable is the story of the day a Superman Captain Ersatz goes entirely and globally postal.
  • Pete The P.O.'d Postal Worker. The entire series.
  • The Simpsons: An early comics has Moe's Tavern attacked by a mailman (who looks suspiciously like Cliff Clavin) armed with an assault rifle, who declares he's fed up of jokes about crazy mailmen and has come looking for revenge. Before he can get further than demanding the bar's occupants start singing "Little Rabit Foo-Foo", he's knocked out by an oblivious Barney swinging a door into his face.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one The Far Side comic strip, a man named Simmons snaps and starts gunning down his fellow employees who all scream "Simmons has lost his marbles!". Unfortunately, because their place of employment is a marble factory, their manager Mr. Wagner misinterprets the screams and bursts out of his office for the last time.


    Fan Works 
  • The Puella Magi Madoka Magica doujin I'm working at a mahou shoujo recruitment company, but I think I may be at my limit has Kyubey going on one of these near the end, putting his workplace to the torch and killing everyone. Being screwed out of good work by his only friend in the workplace (when he's already in danger of being fired) and then finding out that he's been doing the nasty with his wife on the side and that the kid she's carrying isn't his was just too much for our favorite Starfish Alien.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, the criminal known as Twenty Gyarados Bill started out as a simple crewman in a fishing boat, who was constantly mocked by his workmates. The last straw was when they decided to give him a Magikarp as a mock gift, comparing them to each other for being weak and useless. Unlike most examples, though, his revenge was more premeditated, since he spent several months training himself and his Magikarp until they evolved, before terrorizing the coast of Johto.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Demon Knight: Wally. He was going to blow up the post office for the hooker he loved.
  • The main characters in Office Space joke about doing this early in the film, in order to establish just how terrible their jobs are. One of the minor characters actually does after extreme abuse directed at him, albeit opting to burn down the building instead of the usual method.
  • Fight Club: The Narrator threatens his boss that this might be the consequence if he pushes too much when his boss discovers the photocopied "Rules of Fight Club".
  • Jumanji: When Van Pelt goes to the gun shop, the salesman says "You're not a postal worker, are you?" upon seeing a man with a pith helmet buying firearms.note 
  • Jingle All the Way has Sinbad's character Myron Larabee, pretending to be one of these in order to try to strong-arm a radio announcer (and Arnie's character Howard Langston) into handing him the Turbo Man gift certificate (and later to scare off the police). The scarier part is that, while the first time he tried it he used a random package that contained a Christmas present, the second time he was unknowingly handling a real bomb package.
    Myron: [after the bomb explodes] That was a real bomb?!? [Beat] THIS IS A SICK WORLD WE LIVE IN!!! SICK!!
  • Parodied in the third The Naked Gun movie. While Frank is (dreaming about) dealing with a ridiculous number of threats (the scene itself a parody of the staircase shootout scene in The Untouchables (1987)), someone screams "Oh my god, look! It's disgruntled postal workers!" and he sees a small army of mailmen firing assault rifles storming the building.note 
  • This trope led to people mocking advance trailers for The Postman, so new trailers were made without any scenes of Kevin Costner giving the Title Drop. The film itself doesn't have anything to do with the trope, and is closer to an inversion: a man who has made it his mission to deliver the mail in a post-apocalyptic future to help rebuild society.
  • Deconstructed in Falling Down. Granted, he doesn't exactly do it on the job, as he was fired a month before the plot kicks off, but the film is a story about William "D-Fens" Foster, a recently divorced and fired white-collar worker going through a nervous breakdown, letting out his feelings of anger and alienation against what he sees as a cruel, feckless world, and the Jerkasses who inhabit it. He accumulates a number of weapons through chance and goes on a rampage of destruction through Los Angeles. His character is contrasted against the Hero Antagonist Prendergast, an aging police sergeant who faces the same problems on the job but deals with them with maturity and empathy. Eventually, Foster becomes the villain of his own story, has a massive Heel Realization after Prendergast easily cuts down his whining and justifications, and eventually commits Suicide by Cop when he realizes the damage he's done.
  • He Was a Quiet Man: Maconel was planning to do this at the beginning. He's beaten to the punch by his co-worker, but ends up killing the co-worker with the gun he brought himself and is unexpectedly hailed as a hero by his bosses.
  • Played With in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. In the film This Island Earth, a deliverman (played by Coleman Francis!) heads towards Cal Meachim's laboratory, shuffling through some packages. As he does, Mike riffs out "Sort this, deliver that, I'll make 'em all pay", treating him as this kind of person.
  • Rampage: Zigzagged Trope. While Bill is an ordinary American worker (albeit a Basement-Dweller, reflecting the economic climate of the time period) who initiates a killing spree, it's not really because of frustration with his job or life; he's motivated by various sociopolitical reasons he espouses, making Bill just a straight-up terrorist. Also, rather than simply snapping, he puts an enormous amount of effort into preparing his rampage, allowing him to carry it out without the authorities being able to stop or capture him. However, he still targets various people out of revenge for assorted petty reasons, like a waitress who accidentally spilled coffee on him in a diner.
  • Employee of the Month (2004): After losing everything in barely a day, Dave goes back to the bank he used to work at and holds his Jerkass boss hostage when a Bank Robbery interrupts him. Turns out the robbery is actually part of Dave's plan.

  • Discussed in Reaper Man; the office of Bursar is described as normally being immune to the Klingon Promotion that plagued Unseen University, because the kind of person who would want to do all the university's accounting tend to be quiet types who don't normally go in for murder, except on the rare occasions that something inside one of them snaps and they get a little crazy with the paper knife.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mentioned in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. One case requires the detectives to work with an agent from the U.S. Postal Service who claims this phrase actually means praise for someone who gets something done quickly and efficiently. His defensive reaction makes it clear he's well aware that isn't how anyone actually uses it. A few episodes do use mass shootings as catalysts for the plot but those are played far more seriously and we are never shown what the killer's motive was.
  • In Cheers, postman and pub bore Cliff Clavin is thought of as, well, you know, a little bit odd and intense, and an unspoken thought at the back of everybody's mind is that he might, you know, if somebody pushes him too far or if he gets one humiliation or disappointment too many... therefore the Cheers gang indulge him and give him a place where he can feel accepted.
  • One episode of Criminal Minds dealt with a workplace killer willing to do anything to avenge himself on the pharmaceutical company that (from his perspective) had abused him for years.
    • The phrase is humorously discussed by Rossi in one episode. He tells Prentiss about a former brother-in-law of his who was a mailman and how he would deliver a mountain of mail all day, no matter what conditions, and the next day, he had to do the same thing all over again. According to Rossi, the phrase "going postal" made perfect sense to him.
  • One of the group reaps in Dead Like Me involves this scenario. We don't see the actual shooting, and it (somewhat surprisingly, for this show) isn't played for laughs.
  • Humorously discussed by the characters in Seinfeld.
    George: Let me ask you something. What do you do for a living, Newman?
    Newman: I'm a United States Postal worker.
    George: [chuckling] Aren't those the guys that always go crazy and come back with a gun and shoot everybody?
    Newman: [ominously] ...Sometimes.
    Jerry: Why is that?
    Newman: Because the mail never stops. It just keeps coming, and coming, and coming. There's never a letup, it's relentless! Everyday it piles up more, and more, and more, and you gotta get it out! But the more you get out the more it keeps coming IN! AND THEN THE BARCODE READER BREAKS! AND IT'S PUBLISHER'S CLEARING HOUSE DAY!
    Jerry: All right! All right!
  • Parodied in the MADtv (1995) sketch "Postal Workers Gone Postal". Two postal workers decide to have their murderous rampage on the same day, but of course they don't want to share. They argue about who gets to go on a killing spree, which has the more traumatic past, and which person each of them gets to kill. Then a third guy who was planning the same thing walks in. When a fourth guy walks in, they ask him why he hates being a postman, but he turns out to be a robber. They use their guns to arrest him and are hailed as heroes, and the government makes firearms mandatory for all postal workers.
  • Six Feet Under had an episode where a man went on a shooting spree in his office, killing three people and then himself. Fisher & Sons handles the funerals of the killer AND one of his victims, leading to tension between Federico and David.
  • Similarly, The Elegant Gentleman's Guide to Knife Fighting has an "office rampage" sketch with two guys (one intern with an assault rifle, one shotgunner who has been waiting for a promotion for ten years) going on a rampage in the same office and getting in a dispute. They both end up being killed by a third party.
  • The X-Files. In "Blood", subliminal programming is making people go insane and attack those around them. The main Victim of the Week, whose progress we follow throughout the episode, is of course a postal worker.
  • Supernatural. In "Repo Man", a demon has possessed a postal worker and used his vessel to murder women. We later find that the postal worker is a willing participant, as the demon makes a point of seeking out potential serial killers and acting as an Evil Mentor. Naturally, this trope is lampshaded by Dean. "So you find postal workers and help them go postal?"
  • Parodied in a Saturday Night Live Weekend Update skit that mentioned a postal worker who had to deliver a baby.
    Anchor: The man promptly returned to work, where he shot and killed 15 people.
  • Ninja Sentai Kakuranger Oboroguruma only wanted to do his job as a taxi driver but after dealing with a rude mother and her Spoiled Brat of a son, a drunken Salary Man who puked on his car and a guy who refused to pay the fare and ran away, he snapped and went into a rampage.
  • Boardwalk Empire: FBI Agent Nelson Van Alden is forced to flee to another state after he already committed a murder and adopts the identity of George Mueller, an unassuming door-to-door salesman who is treated like garbage by all his colleagues, including his boss. Since they know nothing of his past, they persist in antagonizing and humiliating him until inevitably he hits his Rage Breaking Point. He assaults the biggest jerkoff of the bunch with a clothes iron and smashes the place up before leaving for yet another career change, this time becoming a gang member. His former colleagues pursue him again and end up getting murdered for it.



    Tabletop Games 
  • The Illuminati: New World Order "Post Office" card has a heavily-armed postman blazing away with a machine-gun.
  • Feng Shui has the 'Consumer On The Brink' character type, for players who want to play one of these in an action-movie setting.

    Video Games 
  • Dead Rising 2 featured Carl Schliff, a proud member of the United States Post Service. Before the zombie apocalypse, he had a perfect record at his job. Once he learns who Chuck is, he goes into a homicidal rage, and starts throwing around bombs and firing a shotgun at him.
    Carl: Neither rain nor sleet nor hail, NOR ZOMBIES are going to keep me from my appointed rounds!
    • In Off The Record, he tries to kill Frank because he thinks Frank committed mail fraud.
  • The video game titled Postal, and its sequel. It's basically The Sims meets Grand Theft Auto. Or to be more precise, Anal Cunt in video game form.
  • Boyd Cooper from Psychonauts both parodies and plays the trope straight, being a man who burns down the department store of his former security-guard job with molotov cocktails made out of milk bottles. His mental condition is only cured when he burns down the mental institution for which he worked as a guard.
  • In Afterlife (1996), one of the Ironic Hell punishments for Wrath is "The Post Office Game", which makes the damned do postal service in Hell, forcing them to put up with wrong addresses, weird smells, and the occasional explosion. This punishment also puts some damned with packages on endless lines, where the attendants close for lunch every time they can attend someone. Conveniently-placed rifles are found on both sides of the punishment.
  • Destroyman from No More Heroes was a post office worker for his civilian disguise, fittingly enough he's also by far the single most deranged assassin in the game (and possibly the series).
  • Essentially, the whole plot of Fallout: New Vegas is effectively because The Courier had a really bad day at work.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, you can inflict a Logic Bomb on a utility droid working for the Evil, Inc. Czerka that results in this and is Played for Laughs. It's Three Laws-Compliant, but after showing it that the very nature of its work harms people it then proceeds to shoot up the office, murdering a security guard, before stowing away on a transport offworld to look for a new job.
  • One storyline in Free Realms inverted it — instead of postal workers rampaging, there was a group of semi-anarchists who desired to destroy Sacred Grove's postal system for reasons unknown (which also put them into the territory of Terrorists Without a Cause).
  • In The Outer Worlds "Perils of Gorgon" dlc, one of the most dangerous Marauders on Gorgon is Charles from Accounting, a former accountant who lost his mind due to Adrena-Time side-effects like the rest of the Marauders. He's dangerous because he is armed with one of the dlc's new Science Weapons, a device meant to launch mail quickly that he converted to instead make express deliveries of rockets.
  • The flash game Toss Your Boss is about how far you can make your boss fly after you kick him out of his top-story window.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the second Paramedium game, the threat of impending dismissal supposedly prompted a school bus driver to kidnap the students on his bus and imprison them in a bunker, where they died. Perhaps it's partly true, but it's fairly clear he had other, darker motivations as well.

    Web Original 
  • The Chronicles of Taras gives a kind of this (the trigger being a malfunctioning Slurpee Machine) as the reason why Taras Jacobs went on a rampage and killed an entire SWAT Team before permanently disabling the negotiations officer and carving the word 'LIAR' into his chest after he tried to set her up for capture.
  • The SCP Foundation has the product of such an event in containment, and this being the SCP-verse, it's an odd one. SCP-2262 is an anomalous letter "B" written on a scrap of paper created by a studio artist and typographer experiencing severe Artist Disillusionment and the mother of all Creator Breakdowns. Viewing the strangely-scripted letter incites murderous rage in anyone with knowledge of aesthetics, art, design, or typography. In a twist, the unveiling actually managed to invert the trope: upon unleashing his creation upon his coworkers, a riot quickly ensued, as apparently was intended. What may not have been planned, however, was the mob focusing its collective rage on the creator of the item and tearing him limb from limb.
  • The Creepypasta If You See Ghost Lights, Don't Leave the Trail starts out with a story about a disgruntled ex-employee of the towns textile factory going berserk and shooting his coworkers up and blowing up the building with a truckload of kerosene.
  • A Twitter post proposed going postal as an official part of the job: For any person working a Soul-Sucking Retail Job, the employee is allowed to kill an Unsatisfiable Customer to destress. They only get the two per year, and they're allowed to tell customers about the policy, but deliberately leave it open whether any of the staff has already used it as a measure to Scare 'Em Straight.

    Web Videos 
  • Discussed in TV Trash's review of Olive, the Other Reindeer. Rowdy says that he deplores the trope because he's had nothing but positive experiences with the US Postal Service, and most postal workers that he knows are nothing at all like the trope.

    Western Animation 
  • Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix: Rayman, a former TV newscaster and personality, becomes fed up with the way Eden treats aliens like him and realizes that he was working for the wrong side. Rayman completely snaps and adopts the persona "Ramon", complete with Badass Longcoat, slicked-back hair, and Dual Wielding machine guns, then subsequently executes a one-man raid on Eden headquarters to put a stop to Bullfrog's execution on live TV and massacres his former bosses, the Board of Directors.
  • Rocko's Modern Life has a postman revealing he was laid off and feeling disgruntled. The other passengers quickly vacate the car... only for him to swing around as he wanted space.
  • An episode of "Justice Friends" briefly features a Practically Joker villain named Disgruntled Postman, who robs a post office to steal a single postage stamp to mail a bomb to the US President. His special move was throwing paper sharp letters at Major Glory.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Referenced in a 1999 episode. While on a field trip to a post office, Nelson asks a worker if they go on a shooting rampage. He replies those days are over. Skinner chimes in he's glad he works in a school (which became poor taste as it aired just months before the Columbine Incident).
    • A quick joke in "Homer Loves Flanders" when Ned dreams of shooting bystanders from a bell tower à la Charles Whitman, a postal worker retaliates.
  • An offhanded joke in The Critic, Jay accidentally slips money under the door of a postal worker, who is happy that he can now go purchase that Uzi.
  • Very nearly averted in Archer. After thinking Lana had sex with every man in the office note , Cyril is seen in the bathroom loading a rifle á la Full Metal Jacket, but was evidently stopped by someone who didn't realise the stall was occupied.
  • 2 Stupid Dogs had a mail-carrier who tries to explode the post office, before the Big Dog convinces her otherwise.

    Real Life 


Video Example(s):


Fight Club- Warning the Boss

The boss should rethink threatening the person who wrote the rules of Fight Club, because the person who wrote that is dangerous.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / ImpliedDeathThreat

Media sources: