Human Resources (no, not that kind) is a department with a very bad press — perhaps no wonder, seeing as they're almost only ever shown firing employees. When it comes to any of their other responsibilities, they're nowhere to be seen. This character comes in two flavors:
The Evil Director Of Human Resources: This is a permanent employee (or whole department) of a company, who takes perverse pleasure in making the employees as miserable as possible. As well as axing people, he is responsible for such terrifying scenarios as job interviews and raise requests, and will revel in the fear they thus inspire. See Bad Boss.
The Hatchet Man: a Hired Gun who goes from office to office coldly cutting out the dead wood. While he can't be judged for disloyalty, being unaffiliated with the company, the flipside is that
firing downsizing rightsizing Parent/Child Quality Time Enhancement is all he does, thus balancing out the evil. This character is generally portrayed as more apathetic than outright sadistic.
Examples of Evil Directors:
- Catbert, Evil Director Of Human Resources, in Dilbert. Initially created as a one-off gag, when fan response demanded the character return, the author realized the natural fit for a character who saw human beings as disposable toys for his amusement was, of course, in Human Resources.
- The Office (US): Subverted by Toby Flenderson, who as the branch's HR representative is the only person who can veto Michael Scott's antics. As a consequence, Michael treats him as an evil tyrant, when in reality Toby's just a normal, rational, professional and somewhat boring person.
- Grahame Coats in Anansi Boys often fires employees after 11 months for the sole reason that once they've worked there for a year, they're legally entitled to a severance package. In contrast, when someone hacks into his computer and threatens to expose his embezzlement, he gives him a raise and two weeks paid leave. And then frames him and calls the police. Unfortunately for him the extremely consistent pattern of firing employees bites him in the ass when the police take notice, instantly demonstrating his employee's innocence by easily proving the embezzlement started long before said employee started working with Coats.
- The GLaDOS-esque narrator in the Sockpuppet song Sorry to Inform You.
- Eva Popoff in Tron 2.0. Insanely greedy, and possibly just insane. Is all for proceeding with the Datawraith project and hang the consequences or safety of the people she's shoving into the digitizer. Kidnapping Alan and threatening his life (along with Amoral Attorney Crown), casually dismissing the Fate Worse than Death Thorne undergoes as just another stumbling block in the plan, and finally getting turned into a half-digital "creature" by ignoring the safeties.
- Barney's evil Mega-Corp employer in How I Met Your Mother hires Ted to build them a special "firing room" that will put soon-to-be-former-employees in the kind of mindset where they won't leap over the desk to strangle their boss.
- In Better Off Ted, Veridian Dynamics' HR department use a black-ops style strike team for sacking people, physically sweeping them out of the building while a Cleanup Crew strips and remodels their office. Supposedly it's designed to prevent disgruntled employees stealing trade secrets, but it could just as well be For the Evulz.
- User Friendly's Smiling Man.
- In the Flash game 7 Deadly Sins, you're an HR employee whose job it is to hire and fire people in such a way as to make the most money for yourself. At one point, you can commit Greed by firing your friend for a $50 bonus.
- In Agents of Mayhem, "Carol from HR" is The Dreaded of the entire agency. She never appears in person but can often be heard making announcements over the PA system.
- Corporate: Zig-zagged by Grace. She's one of the most sane and sympathetic characters in the show, but she's always shown to use her powers as HR manager for her own benefit.
- Mayhem: The evil head of HR is one of the film's main antagonists. He's characterized as a grim reaper, with a cane that looks like a scythe.
Examples of The Hatchet Man:
- Office Space has The Bobs, a two-man team of these. When Peter goes into a meeting with a devil-may-care attitude, fully expecting to lose his job, the opposite happens, and he finds himself promoted, the team thinking his responses are a result of lack of being challenged.
- George Clooney's Ryan in Up in the Air. He thinks his work is worthy, necessary and even has dignity. The movie is the examination of his theory. His Foil is Natalie, a Naïve Newcomer of a girl that has been recently hired by Ryan's company and thinks she has a revolutionary idea in making firings through video chat. Sure enough, it saves money in traveling budgets, but Ryan is able to save his job by pointing out that the feeling of inhumanity that obviously comes from talking to some guy through a computer just makes fired people even more nervous.
- Subversion on Cheers ("The Executive's Executioner"), where Norm was briefly one of these, because he wasn't cold about it. He empathized with the firee and often took the firing worse than they did. Then came the time he had to fire himself...
- Dale became one of these in an episode of King of the Hill (during a 10-Minute Retirement from being an exterminator). He started out nervously telling someone to get out, then later went mad with power and started firing people left and right for shits and giggles. He even threatened to fire Nancy and Joseph from being his family. He never shows any remorse over this and only quits and returns to his exterminator job at the end because he realized that firing people is no substitute for killing (bugs, not people).
- Anthony Hopkins plays one of these in the Australian comedy film Spotswood.
- The Damocles consulting firm in the Tim Dorsey novels exists purely to write reports that recommend that their clients lay off the number of employees they want to lay off in order to up their stock prices. They effectively are there so that the managers can blame the layoffs on the consultants. This gets screwed up by Jim Davenport, who had a nasty habit of writing reports recommending that the managers fix actual problems.