Follow TV Tropes

Following

Mean Boss

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jetsons_spacely_4296.jpg

"Listen to me, you stupid little runt. I own you. You're my bitch! So don't walk around here thinking you have free will because you DON'T. I can break you anytime I want! So settle in, because you are in this for the long haul!"
David Harken, Horrible Bosses
Advertisement:

The boss that means well and does well, except for a few things. He's certainly given the higher-ups every reason to have confidence in him. He's competent, knows what he's doing, and keeps his workers motivated. It's the way that he keeps them motivated that's the problem. He'll yell at you for being a minute late, give you mountains of work the night before it's due, have a heart attack any time you even suggest that you might deserve a raise for all your hard work, and nearly rip your head off at the drop of a hat. Might smoke big, smelly cigars, and is often a Sir Swears-a-Lot, assuming the medium is R-Rated (or the equivalent). He may be a money-grubber, egocentric, or just plain ornery. Very often played for laughs.

Compare Dr. Jerk, Da Chief, and Da Editor, three other tropes with frequent crossover. For the Drill Sergeant Nasty, it's an unavoidable part of the job. Not to be confused with a Bad Boss, who isn't just a Jerkass to his co-workers, but so evil that he actually maims or kills them, though quite a few are both. Related to the Pointy-Haired Boss (except for their respective competence levels). Such bosses may feature in a negative Job Song.

Advertisement:


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Mr. Ton from Aggretsuko is a rude and sexist pig (literally) whose employees are terrified of him. At least, this was only the case for Season 1, as he does get better in Season 2 onward. He's still rough around the edges and isn't quite a Benevolent Boss, but actually shows concern for Retsuko while she makes life altering decisions and gives her advice. At one point, Ton reveals that he had his own Mean Boss back in the 80s when he first joined the workforce, who was even worse than what we saw of him in Season 1!
  • In Bambino!, Ban is assigned to work under Katori Nozomi, who never pass the chance to berate, insult or even beat him up.
  • Butterflies, Flowers: Director Domoto. Not mean so much, but tyrannical, dictatorial, and demanding. Also way hot and the Love Interest.
  • Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist treats Ed in a pretty crappy fashion (reminding him repeatedly that Ed became a "Dog Of The Military" by his own choice and, boo-hoo, that means he needs to take orders), including trying to blow him up sky-high when Ed chooses one-on-one combat for his yearly Alchemist test. Oddly enough, considering Roy's bosses (who are the ones who ordered such things as the genocide of Ishval) and the fact that he's enough of A Father to His Men that some of them decide to help him with his underground rebellion, he's a comparative subversion.
  • Kobayashi's unnamed boss in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid. He pushes all his work onto her, yells at her for the slightest mistake, and is stated to be a misogynist in the manga. She gets him fired by recording his rants and sending them to the company president.
  • Tsunade from Naruto is very much this, especially in the fillers. As Hokage (the chief of the village), she is shown to have a very short temper and is strict about shinobi going on missions and reporting back to her immediately upon completion. When enraged, she would throw her chair and other furniture out the window, and have Izumo and Kotetsu retrieve them.
  • Zeff, Sanji's mentor in One Piece, has the reputation of one, barking orders at his cooks like a Drill Sergeant Nasty and using harsh punishments when they mess up. (Whenever Sanji got a recipe wrong and botched it, Zeff made him eat it.) He refuses to hire female cooks or waitresses because he forbids abuse of women, but does not show favoritism to employees (if he hired one, he'd have to treat her the same way, which he will not). Thing is, it works. It's the biggest reason Sanji has been a success and Zeff's place is popular.
  • Kotaro Tatsumi of Zombie Land Saga somehow managed to revive several girls of different ages and separate time periods as zombies, and insists that they perform as an idol group to revitalize Saga prefecture. He's highly abrasive and demanding with the girls, frequently scheduling shows at the last minute and taking full advantage of the fact that zombies don't need to sleep to make them practice through the night.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Boonie Bears, Boss Li frequently harasses Logger Vick through the phone, always speaking in a loud voice whenever he does so, and he threatens to cut down his wages if he doesn't contribute to the logging business.
Advertisement:

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: J. Jonah Jameson shouts at Peter Parker every second, complains when he brings no pictures, whines when he brings pictures in which Spider-Man looks good, underpays him and fires him every time he gets angry. One issue early in the Stan Lee run tried to (weakly) justify Peter always coming back to him by explaining that Jonah was the only news mogul in town who wouldn't ask uncomfortable questions about how Peter always gets those pics of Spider-Man.
  • Superman:
    • Daily Planet editor Perry "I love the smell of fear in a newsroom" White can be like this too, occasionally, especially if you call him "Chief".
      Perry: Lane. Kent. I am your editor. Prepare to Die.
      Clark: You couldn't take her, Perry. We talked about this.
    • Morgan Edge is the "If I say 'Jump' you ask 'How high?'" kind of boss. He is rude, demanding, gets angry constantly, and if he decides Clark Kent will stop being a reporter and work as a newscaster that is what will happen! In Kryptonite Nevermore:
      Morgan Edge: Right now, I have an assignment for you, Kent! I want you to take this portable television transmitter and cover the launching of the new mail-rocket!
      Clark: Sure... But why the TV? I'm a newspaper reporter!
      Edge: You're my employee — and you'll do well to remember it! If I say you're working for my television station, you are! Clear?
      Clark: I get the message, Mr. Edge!
  • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man gives two examples: Morgan Edge and J. J. Jameson. The two of them are grumpy, demanding, and Jameson is hilariously and borderline abusive. Morgan constantly and loudly complains about Clark Kent failing on getting a story, and Jameson fires and rehires Peter Parker nearly every day.

    Comic Strips 
  • Catbert, the Evil Human Resources Director of Dilbert lives up to that title. He even controls the trope-naming Pointy-Haired Boss to some extent to make everyone else's lives miserable.
  • J.C. Dithers of Blondie is quite possibly the Ur-example. (Of course, despite the fact that he fires Dagwood on a regular basis, he always hires him back for some strange reason.)
  • Mr. Pembrook of FoxTrot is definitely an egocentric type - he once fired a massive amount of workers and then gave himself a $300,000 raise, and in another strip he sent out a memo ordering the employees to make themselves look bad in the company photo so he'd look better by comparison. He also implies in the same strip that he didn't send Roger the memo and that he wants Roger at his side specifically because Roger already meets the required directions without knowing it. In another strip he had Roger work as a clown at his son's birthday party (that's in Roger's job description; he thought it was a joke when he was hired; a lot of what happened at the party is likely best left to the imagination, but Pembrook begged him not to sue.)
  • In one Peanuts arc, Peppermint Patty and Marcie got jobs as golf caddies, and had to deal with the Caddie Master, a mean kid whose first reaction to them was, "Hey, you guys are girls!" However, as mean as he was, he didn't count on Patty being meaner...
  • Retail:
    • Stuart is a combination of this and Pointy-Haired Boss. Takes pride in the fact that most employees hate him.
    • The initial district manager, Jerry, really fit the part as the jerk boss, leading Marla to comment that he was a "mean-spirited jerk" (which Jerry unfortunately overheard). In the blog of the strip's character Cooper (www.coopersretailblog.com), he described Jerry as a "douchebag." In Jerry's last appearance in the strip it was revealed that he misremembered Marla's name on purpose.
    • The nadir of this trope has to be Mina in Delman's, who backstabbed her former boss in order to get the manager's position, pretty much leaves her employees in a 'sink or swim' scenario, and encourages employees to snitch on each other. A couple weeks working under her showed Brice how much worse he could have-and could be-than when he worked for Marla.

    Fan Works 
  • The first time Emily Pope had met Director Trench in AWE Arcadia Bay (Rogue_Demon), he gives her a hard time over her efforts to contain the AWE in Arcadia Bay and humiliates her in front of her colleagues before having her relocated to the Oldest House as a researcher, revoking her license for field work after having just gotten it.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic Mirror of Maybe, Voldemort (as in canon) tortures his servants on a regular basis for any failure. More than that, since he intends to live forever, he forces his all-male inner circle to marry certain women and produce children so he will always have strong servants. Even if they happen to be homosexual.
  • The meerkat that Opal comes across in OSMU: Fanfiction Friction is this to the extent that he teeters on being a Corrupt Corporate Executive. He doesn't pay his employees and reacts in upset when they quit, he thinks that poor people who are given money spend it on "silly things, like food and shelter", and has absolutely No Listening Skills when it comes to interacting with Opal, who doesn't even get a chance to tell him that not only is she looking for Orla in a time-sensitive mission, but she already has a job working with Odd Squad. Given the fact he's meant to be a a Take That! directed at Elon Musk, it makes sense.

    Film — Animation 
  • Barbie Princess Adventure has Barbie's boss Rose, who literally says she wants to EXPLOIT Barbie's vlog For the Evulz.
  • P.T.Flea from Pixar's A Bug's Life, who has no problem putting the members of his circus into little-practiced (and so highly lethal) death-defying stunts for the sake of having an audience.
  • The Incredibles: Gilbert Huph explicitly makes it his company's mission to deny people their insurance, which of course doesn't sit well with former superhero Bob Parr. He even threatens to fire Bob if the latter goes to try and stop a mugging, then rubs it in his face. Thankfully Laser-Guided Karma kicks in an instant later. Unfortunately, it comes at the cost of Bob's job. A Freeze-Frame Bonus shortly before this shows he began making employees pay for their own office supplies, parking, and electricity usage to cut costs.
  • Madeline: Lost in Paris: Madame LaCroque. Rather than taking care of them properly, LaCroque mistreats her victims and punishes them for "complaining", which is more often than not about things that could be life-threatening. One particularly despicable example was when Fifi lost control of her coughing and ruined the lace that she was working on. Does LaCroque help her? Nope! She sentences Fifi to working on black lace, which would blind the latter as another slave reveals is possible. A pissed Madeline defends Fifi and gives LaCroque a "The Reason You Suck" Speech for being cruel, but this only makes LaCroque even angrier instead of making her go through a Heel Realisation.
  • Ratatouille: Skinner repeatedly demeans his employees (especially Linguini). He's basically Pixar's Gordon Ramsay, without the Hidden Heart of Gold.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 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. It is revealed by his ex-colleague Bill that he has driven most of his other colleagues away due to his hostility and aggression.
  • Bamboozled: Thomas C. Dunwitty, the tyrannical vice president of the Continental Network System or (CNS).
    Thomas C. Dunwitty: 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.
  • In The Big Clock, Earl Janoth is time-obsessed tyrant who runs his publishing empire with an iron hand, even down to controlling his employees' private life. His acts include sacking a printer for disagreeing with his choice of ink colour, and:
    Earl Janoth: [talking on intercom to Steve Hagen] On the fourth floor - in the broom closet - a bulb has been burning for several days. Find the man responsible, dock his pay.
  • Hollywood producer Marty Wolff of Big Fat Liar is a complete jerkass to everyone around him and forces his assistant to write his scripts, but he gets his just desserts.
  • In Cash on Demand, bank manager Harry Fordyce is a cold, officious man who has previously threatened his head clerk, Pearson, with dismissal for a misdemeanour, despite the fact that this would end Pearson's career. In his Establishing Character Moment, he tells elderly secretary Miss Pringle to take the Christmas cards of her desk, as the bank is a place of business and not a place for her to flaunt her popularity.
  • The cleanliness-obsessed boss from The Cat in the Hat has absolutely no problem being rude to his underlings.
  • David Hasselhoff's character in Click forces Adam Sandler's character to deliver him an office design (which will take about a year or so to make from scratch) in a couple of weeks, if he wants to remain employed. He's also a Stupid Boss.
  • Trumbull in The Comedy of Terrors had left his father-in-law's mortuary business in ruins and frequently abuses his wife and associate Felix. It is also implied that much of the money that would have gone to paying their rent to their landlord (not that they had much to begin with due to their declining customer base) is gone because he spent it all on alcohol.
  • The shoe's floor manager is a total meanie to John in The Devil and Miss Jones, belittling him whenever he gets the chance.
  • 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.
  • Easy Money: The late Mr. Monahan was one, and his widow follows his example.
    Mrs. Monahan: (nostalgically) When your father was alive, he ran Monahan's like a tyrant. He paid the help next to nothing. He drove them like sled dogs.
  • The Edge: Bob is rather snappy to his assistant Stephen over a setback that isn't his fault.
  • 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.
  • Employee of the Month (2004): David's boss, Bill Gartin, is a jerkass who is salivating at a chance to fire Dave while playing favorites with his son-in-law. He spends the entire performance review insulting David and dares him to file a lawsuit, gloating that he's got better lawyers.
  • All of Louis de Funès characters. It is however sometimes justified by working on a very unforgiving and ruthless environment such as Gendarmerie (Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez), Restauration (The Big Restaurant), Ballet (L'Homme orchestre) or Corporate Business (The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob).
  • Kurt Bozwell in Good Burger, a Drill Sergeant Nasty manager who repeatedly bullies and eventually fires Dexter for not fitting into Mondo Burger's ultra-strict corporate culture.
  • 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.
  • In Horrible Bosses the three titular bosses take meanness to a new level and that's only in addition to being truly bad bosses to boot.
  • Downplayed in Hustle (2022). Vince Merrick, who becomes manager of the 76ers basketball team and Stanley's new boss, may not be the kind of boss who is always shouting or threatening to fire people, but he is a smarmy, condescending prick who only cares about money and publicity.
  • Harold Cornish in Identity Thief, a Smug Snake executive who treats all his underlings as replaceable cogs who should be happy they even have a job. He announces for the second year in a row that the company isn't doing well enough to justify bonuses for the employees. Meanwhile, he has Sandy cut checks for "special" bonuses for the partners with himself getting a million-dollar bonus. When Sandy expresses confusion, Cornish tells him that Sandy's job can be filled by Quicken (the software), meanwhile people like him (Cornish) are the ones who make all the money for the company and deserve the bonuses, referencing The Fountainhead as an explanation.
  • Katherine Newbury from Late Night (2019) has not been in the writers room for the show she hosts in so long that the only writer whose name she knows has been dead for years. Rather than learn the current writers' names, she assigns them numbers. The only writer even allowed on the set is the head monologue writer, and she doesn't even know his name.
  • In Love Crime (2010), 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.
  • The Mad Magician: Ross Ormond has Don Gallico locked into an ironclad contract that means that any illusion Gallico invents belongs to Ormond, even if Gallico develops it on his own time. When Gallico tries to break out on his own as a Stage Magician—a long held dream of his—Ormond takes out an injunction preventing from performing because all of the illusions are his intellectual property. This effectively prevents Gallico from ever performing as a magician. That he waited until Gallico was about to perform his greatest illusion before ringing down the curtain seems to be an act of pure spite. He also stole Gallico's wife Claire away from him.
  • In The Nutty Professor (second version), Dean Richmond is a nasty type who fires Klump once in each film, clearly looking for an excuse to get rid of him, and when Klump has his job, Richmund rarely hides his contempt for him and even makes fun of his weight. (He does redeem himself a little by siding with Klump to stop Buddy Love from stealing the patent for the fountain of youth formula in the climax of the second movie.)
  • 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.)
  • Office Space: Bill Lumbergh always makes people work on weekends and continuously orders Milton to move his desk to increasingly absurd locations (ending in the roach-infested basement). Plus he took Milton's favorite stapler...again (which is one of the reasons why he set the building on fire). Also, when he and the Bobs discover that Milton had actually been laid off years ago, but a clerical error meant it was never implemented internally, they decide to just not remind Milton that he was fired while quietly taking him off the payroll.
  • 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 or fires them for liking Daniel.
  • Philbin in Phantom of the Paradise. The musicians that work for him are motivated through a combination of casual threats and Speed, and as far as Philbin's concerned, they're all more than replaceable. Plus, he doesn't take rejection by his Ingenues well- hence his conversation with Swan, the real villain of the story.
  • Lieutenant Thaddeus Harris in Police Academy, is his life's purpose to make the lives of his cadets (latter officers) as miserable as possible. Of course this mistreatment often ends causing him Laser-Guided Karma punishment at the end of each movie.
  • Part of the premise of Set It Up is that Kirsten and Rick are such tyrannical, overbearing, demanding bosses that their respective assistants scheme to set them up to get them off their backs. Kirsten is a subversion — she admits to being hard on Harper because she sees potential in her, and defrosts by the end.
  • The Story of Luke: Luke's supervisor at Click&Easy, Zack, is very abrasive and constantly yells at and insults his employees. It turns out he's autistic, like Luke, and is constantly in a bad mood from all the noise.
  • 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.
  • In Suffragette, Maud's boss exploits his workers and pays the women (who work more hours than the men) significantly worse. The working conditions are awful; the women tend to die early because of the poisonous chemicals they work with, accidents are not uncommon. He also rapes his underage employees, and fires one woman because he disapproves of her political activities.
  • Studio head Alfie Alperin in Sunset is a sadist who will inflict physical punishment on employees who have failed him.
  • Les Grossman from Tropic Thunder was created as a parody of everything gross about Hollywood and is generally thought to be an amalgamation of traits of the most infamous producers in Hollywood. He's consistently abusive to his staff and even tries to have his actors killed when it would be more profitable to collect their insurance claims.
  • UHF: Tyrannical Channel 8 Owner and General Manager R.J. Fletcher is introduced screaming at his subordinate for giving him the wrong type of pencil. He also fires Stanley on a mistaken belief that he'd thrown a report away, and then laughs when he realizes that Stanley didn't throw it away after all.
  • Wanted has Wesley's boss, Janice. However much she may be right about Wesley not being productive, she is an absolute get-in-your-face-and-bark type of bully. She eventually pushes him past his breaking point and he delivers a much-deserved "The Reason You Suck" Speech, which is capped off with this.
    Wesley: But I want you to know, if you weren't such a bitch, we'd feel sorry for you. I do feel sorry for you. But as it stands, the way you behave — I feel I can speak for the entire office when I tell you... go fuck yourself.
  • In The Wolverine, Shingen Yashida treats Yukio like crap, despite her faithful service to the Family.
    Akivasha: Slaves should know their place.
  • In Zig Zag (2002), ZigZag's boss Mr. Walters is always insulting ZigZag and his coworkers and seems fond of racial slurs.

    Literature 
  • Julius Root of Artemis Fowl is this with a dash of sexism thrown in in the beginning. Justified for political reasons; Holly was the first female recon officer, so he needed her to be a good example.
  • Tommy Wiseau, according to The Disaster Artist. His actions towards the cast and crew of The Room ranged from rude (loudly berating the crew for slowing down the production when he himself had arrived to a shoot several hours late) and unprofessional (spending huge amounts of money on Awesome, but Impractical cameras but failing to spend any money on basic goods and services for the cast and crew, like snacks or temperature regulation) to borderline abusive (throwing a bottle of water in an actresses' face for daring to ask for a drink on a hot day, causing her and several others to quit on the spot).
  • Set in Puerto Rico, Eccentric Neighborhoods's Clarissa treats the household help so poorly that nobody stays long. Her reputation spreads so far that she simply can't find help in the poor neighborhoods like she used to, and has to resort to hiring a woman from Guatemala.
  • William Shortpaws of the Geronimo Stilton series, is definitely a mean boss. Geronimo's grandfather and owner/publisher of the newspaper where his maternal grandson works, he never misses an opportunity to remind Geronimo who's in charge, and is constantly yelling at him or threatening to fire him. He's also very cheap, and in fact is called "Cheapskate Willy" (behind his back). However, he does pay his grandson the odd backhanded compliment when he does something particularly heroic that will give the paper good publicity. He also seems to favor Thea, and will do anything she asks him to, and appreciates his cook Tiny Spicetail's cooking to the point that he actually gets her get away with her attitude.
  • Warwick, the mill foreman in Stephen King's "Graveyard Shift" is this, to a degree (he doesn't quite rise to the level of Bad Boss, but he's sure not a nice one; basically, he's a company man, and determined to fulfill his superiors' orders to get the mill's basement cleared out no matter what). He yells at people for slacking, belittles and patronizes the workers, and threatens to fire anyone who doesn't want to deal with the huge rats living in the subterrene darkness. Never displaying any outright villainous behavior, he's nonetheless loathed by Hall for no reason Hall can put his finger on. Of course, in the film based on the story, he's given a slight dose of Adaptational Villainy.
  • In Island Beneath The Sea, the wealthy Horténse Guizot is brutal with all the enslaved servants, but especially with Tété. One day, Horténse can't fit into a dress and Tété innocently suggests a solution. Angry at herself for gaining weight, Hortense whips Tété.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, when Cueseg tries to walk off in the middle of a mission to order to clean off his boots, Lyrahnote  threatens to make him eat the crap he just stepped in if he doesn't get back in line, and later tells him she'll kill him if he pulls any more Tuerasian nonsense on her. As a result, he considers her his well-meaning, effective, but nasty boss.
    Ahrek: "And now we're companions, so we'd best find a way to get along."
    Cueseg: "It can be hard to get along with this one. But she is good.
    Lyrah: "Oh, great way to show loyalty, Cueseg!"
  • Shtum: Before Jonah was born, Ben worked for an abusive boss who delighted in humiliating his employees. Once he subjected Ben to a pseudo-kidnapping and ordered him to clean up more than a hundred empty bottles from his car and carry them to the skip in full view of his coworkers, then ordered him to confess to being an alcoholic, go to Alcoholics Anonymous, and provide proof that he went. Realizing that his boss wanted the ego boost of "saving" Ben from alcoholism, he quit his job and got drunk as soon as possible out of spite.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Zig-Zagged by Howard Hamlin in Better Call Saul, as he's initially presented as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who held back Jimmy's early law career and demoted his girlfriend Kim over a situation that wasn't her fault. However, he's revealed to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who was just following Chuck's orders and actually cares for the people below him, as he paid for Kim's education and put himself in debt buying Chuck out of the company to protect his employees' livelihoods.
  • Chief Boden from Chicago Fire is not an example. However, he takes a leave of absence after his father dies and is replaced by Chief Pridgen, who is. He snaps at Severide for countering an order even though Severide is following procedure (Pridgen later admits he was wrong). He laughs at Otis for slipping and falling at a call and proceeds to repeatedly tease him about it. When Severide and Casey confront him about that, Pridgen criticizes them for insubordination, even bringing up Severide countering his order before (the one he admitted was correct). Thankfully, he's gone by the end of his second episode.
  • Corporate has Mr. DeVille. If the fact that he's a Louis Cypher doesn't give you a hint, he's a merciless and capricious boss who is feared by all his underlings. There's no telling how he'll respond, either loving something you say or coming down on you like a hammer, so everyone is on eggshells when he's in the room.
  • Alan Brady on The Dick Van Dyke Show is an egocentric comedy star who constantly berates and belittles his staff, and threatens to fire them at a moment's notice. To be fair, he's presented as a genuine comedic talent and does occasionally do something nice.
  • Bradley P. "B.P." Richfield is Dinosaurs, a yelling ruthless Triceratops, in one episode he confess to have bet away his worker's retirement fund, and in the final episode he actually destroys the world, causing the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.
  • Mr. Wick from The Drew Carey Show, who took great glee in coming up with new ways to fire people. Even one time he acted generous and treated Drew by taking him to a nightclub, the nightclub itself had a Hell-based theme.
    Mr. Wick: Attention everyone, it's time for a fire drill! (Beat) Johnson, you're fired!
  • Elizabeth Holmes from The Dropout is advised to fire people to show she is CEO material. Sure enough, at the company's holiday party, Elizabeth gets drunk and her assistant Miriam calls Sunny (Elizabeth's boyfriend) to pick her up. Elizabeth rewards Miriam by firing her just before Sunny takes her home. After that, she moves on to firing employees who question her vision.
  • In Game of Thrones, Robert Baratheon takes enjoyment in abusing his subordinates, at least as long as they're Lannisters. While sending a naive Butt-Monkey toady page to fetch a breastplate stretcher, which, obviously, doesn't exist, could be seen as a harmless prank, berating the Small Council and purposefully ignoring their advice is not. Moreover, deliberately throwing his infidelity into the face of his bodyguard, by keeping him posted on the door while loudly cheating on Cersei, seems both cruel and stupid - especially since his bodyguard is also his brother-in-law, and incidentally is called the Kingslayer for killing the last man he was guarding.
    Ned: The breastplate stretcher?
    Robert: How long till he figures it out?
    Ned: Maybe you should have one invented.
  • Dr. House from House, M.D.: in Season 4, he fires people for not being hot enough! at one point. Not to mention the variety of illegal, immoral, demeaning, and humiliating things he orders his staff to do, often just to satisfy his ego by reminding himself that he can.
  • Subverted in the Modern Family episode "Spring-a-Ding Fling." Mitchell takes a new job at a legal clinic run by a former law-school classmate of his. Throughout the episode a number of things he sees and overhears make him think he's made a serious mistake and that she's this trope. When he finally confronts her on this in front of everyone else, every single thing turns out to be Not What It Looks Like. For example, what he thought was her telling him to groom, i.e. wash, her dog was actually her asking him to groom, i.e. mentor, an intern.
  • Bob Odenkirk played one in a Mr. Show sketch.
    Odenkirk: You call yourselves junior executives?! YOU'RE SENIOR JACKASSES!!!
  • Odd Squad has Oprah, who is known as "Ms. O" by everyone bar O'Donahue. She is a Tiny Tyrannical Girl who is extremely hot-blooded and has a short temper, often yells at her agents, and even manages to give an Implied Death Threat to Olive and Otto in one episode. However, she goes through Character Development and becomes a Benevolent Boss by Season 2 as a result of critics complaining about her bad attitude and personality. This earned them a well-aimed Take That! in the Season 2 premiere, "First Day".
    Oprah: If you're always yelling, that's all people think you do, and they don't see that there's a lot more to your character.
  • Principal Osgood Conklin on Our Miss Brooks. He makes teachers type out his speeches and reports, shouts often, runs the Madison High like a dictator, demands Christmas presents, and even has a habit of forcing teachers to work on Christmas and Summer holidays.
    Mr. Conklin: I cannot force you to work on your summer vacation. But, let me remind you Miss Brooks, I have it in my power to make your time at Madison very pleasant or very miserable!
  • Scoundrels (2010): Cheryl gets a job as a cashier at a supermarket, but unfortunately her boss is a major creep who constantly hits on her and the other female employers. When Cheryl starts giving him lip about it, he frames her for stealing money.
  • Dr. Kelso from Scrubs is a prime example. In fact, he pretty much stated outright why he is such a Mean Boss (its how he keeps the entire hospital staff unified and peaceful, even if they hate his guts).
  • Max is set up as one of these in the pilot of Sean Saves The World, of the unbending, humorless hardass variety.
  • Louie from Taxi Zig Zags this. He tries to be a Mean Boss, and he uses a lot of dirty tricks to get the better of employees (often downright illegal ones) but very few of them are truly intimidated by him at all, and he usually comes out the loser in any confrontation.
  • In That '70s Show Red Forman is like this to his employees, and won't deny it if you raise the point. When the family is congratulating him on getting the job at Price-Mart, Hyde says "God help the poor bastards who work for you!" Red merely smiles and laughs, taking it as a compliment.
  • The Dreaded Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It - foul-mouthed, foul-tempered, brilliantly gifted at his job, and absolutely merciless with the politicians he manages, who compare him to Goebbels.
  • Frank Angelino on Three's Company, who owns the restaurant where Jack Tripper works. When Jack gets his own restaurant later, Angelino becomes his Mean Landlord instead.

    Music 
  • The song "Nienawidzę Szefa" ("I Hate The Boss") by the Polish band Big Cyc is about a boss like this: someone who is feared by his staff, merciless to employees who make mistakes (while never admitting to a mistake himself), surrounds himself with yes-men and bootlickers, and casually criticizes his employees in others' company.
  • The Jimmy Reed song "Big Boss Man" provides a perfect example of this;
    Big Boss Man
    Can't you hear me when I call (2x)
    Well, you aint so big
    You're just tall, that's all
    You got me working boss man
    Working around the clock
    I want a little drink of water
    But you won't let Jimmy stop!
    Big Boss Man...

    Podcasts 
  • Rudyard from Wooden Overcoats is a downplayed example towards his assistant, Georgie. While he's rude, short-tempered, sarcastic, and demanding, it's not because he dislikes Georgie; it's because he's Rudyard. He's actually kinder to her than he is to most people, and does genuinely appreciate how much she does for him — during an episode where she has a 10-Minute Retirement, he begs her to reconsider and is overjoyed when she comes back.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Ivory and Jacqueline got this reputation as trainers in Ohio Valley Wrestling, after having been seen as cool enough on WWE Tough Enough.
  • "The Lovely" Lacey, leading her "Lacey's Angels", especially regarding her most loyal member, Jimmy Jacobs. However, when Jacobs started the Age Of The Fall, he proved to be an outright Bad Boss...accept to Lacey, who he was just mean to but still loved.
  • Mark Henry toward Mr. USA Tony Atlas when Atlas acted as his manager in WWECW. This ended up costing Henry when he dismissed an offer for help from Atlas, leading to Henry being double teamed by CM Punk and Luke Gallows.
  • Chuck Taylor toward Swamp Monster, whom he blames for all the failings of the Gentleman's Club in Chikara.

    Radio 
  • The BBC Radio Drama adaptation of Guards! Guards! introduces a bit of a Running Gag where the Patrician gets impatient and cross when his secretary fails to appear instantly when summoned, then is startled when the man suddenly does appear instantly. Harmless enough, but it comes across as a contributing factor to why said secretary summoned a dragon with which to take over the city and threw the Patrician in the dungeon.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Chez Geek, you may get stuck with a "Bad Boss" card that increases the amount of Slack Points you need to win the game.
    Flavor Text: When it's your funeral, you can have a day off.

    Video Games 
  • Edgar's boss in The Act is not above smacking him around if he doesn't think Edgar is doing his job.
  • Brawl Stars gives us two examples:
    • Mr. P of the Snowtel, who overworks his employees, of which Gale is clearly too old for his job.
    • Griff of the Starr Park Gift Shop, who won't hesitate to steal from Colette and Edgar's tip jar.
  • A Little Lily Princess: If her route is played in Act 2, Mariette eventually turns out to be limiting her interactions with Sara in part because she now has such a boss, giving her little leeway to take longer than necessary for tasks that take her out of the house. This results in her being quite quick to move to Mr. Carrisford's household when he decides to hire a French maid.

    Web Animation 
  • Bubs of Homestar Runner. It's one thing to make your employees wear a hot dog clown suit as part of their job, but it's another to make them buy the costume out of their pocket from the costume palace. On the subtler side, Bubs gets away with not giving Pom Pom any breaks, because he wasn't able to get into a labor union. Even to those who are in the union, Bubs will only give them one smoking, bathroom, coffee and maternity leave break a day.
  • Marca Toons' cartoon portrayal of José Mourinho fits the description. Especially in his disdain towards Pedro León:
    Mourinho: Is there anyone who can make it on Monday?
    Pedro León: Me, me, me...!
    Mourinho: Pedro León, step aside. You don't let me see the real footballers.

    Webcomics 
  • In Broken Telephone, Manisha overhears a murder on a customer service call. Her boss forces her to take another call before reporting it to the police.
  • In Godslave, Heru seems to be this for the Blacksmiths. When talking to him, Turner alternates between trying to keep him placating and asking Heru to stop talking and let his man do his work.
  • № 1 who leads the Help Service in Hell(p) is one of the more unpleasant cast members, which says a lot considering the story takes place in Hell.
  • Maximumble: In "Suggestions", a boss has a suggestion box for his employees to put their ideas into. It's actually just a shredder.
  • In Skin Horse, when the agency expands, Sweetheart takes revenge on a few old enemies by requisitioning them as transfers so she can be a Mean Boss to them.
    Tip: Sweetheart, you've got to fire Dr. Engelbright. There's no reason for her to be here.
    Sweetheart: Uh-huh.
    Tip: She's been stepping on our toes for years! Remember that church potluck she gassed?
    Sweetheart: Uh-huh.
    Tip: I know for fact you don't like her. So why would you want to be... her boss...
    Sweetheart: Uh-huh.
    Tip: Aaand that would be the reason.
    Sweetheart: [grinning] Engelbright! I have many crucial but vaguely-worded tasks for you!
  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, the Just Before the End prologue features a couple of these:
    • The Denmark portion is about a man named Michael Madsen who's on the way to Bornholm island to drop his cat at his sister's place because he doesn't trust a cat hotel to take care of it correctly during an important business meeting. He's seen talking on the phone with his boss, who's furious at him for taking the trip, treats the whole thing as Skewed Priorities, and insists he come back by the next morning by helicopter if needed, threatening to fire him otherwise. Then the Danish borders suddenly closing end up meaning that Michael is getting stuck on the island through no fault of his own. His boss fires him on the spot anyway.
    • In the Finland portion, Aino Hotakainen does not complain about her boss herself, but her family members sure like to badmouth her and depict her as such a boss. The only possible justification seen is Aino being more than eight months pregnant and still working as a waitress.

    Web Videos 
  • In Noob, Master Zen's case happened mostly offscreen due to the story starting when his de facto replacement as the Noob guild's Black Mage buys the game that serves as the setting. He mostly qualifies due to his Hair-Trigger Temper and by comparison to the Noob guild's current leader. His reaction to not getting the leader position is back after his leave of absence is to go after his former subordinates in real life almost makes him overlap with Bad Boss (kidnapping in the webseries, outright murder attempts in the comic). Later, he starts a new guild and the webseries' storyline has a big drawback for Master Zen turn into a Pseudo Crisis only because he had his subordinates take turns day and night to work on repairing the damage.
  • Played with by The Nostalgia Critic.
    • While he is a jackass to his subordinates (especially first meetings with newbies), it's very rare that he won't get punished or one-upped. In a few cases, he'll have a breakdown and they'll go nice and comfort-y. He's rather complicated, y'see. Ever since he had gotten assistants, he tends to "not be very nice" to them. He punches Malcolm in the face simply for mentioning the cartoon Doug, then later puts him in a coma after mentioning the Ducktales theme song, (which Nostalgia Critic had just minutes earlier gotten out of his head from the Ducktales review two years earlier) The Blues Brothers 2000 review has Tamara overdose on "Not caring pills" and apparently dying while NC doesn't even bother to turn around. Though averted with Mati. As he treated Mati like crap throughout the first few years, then the character died causing NC to go into a massive depression of guilt.
    • And then a number of episodes suggest that the Nostalgia Critic is also working under a mean boss: his own brother.
    • Likewise, The Nostalgia Chick is abusive, demanding and oblivious to her crew's dislike of what she does to them.

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series: Cruella De Vil towards her employees at her fashion company, particularly Anita. She often has her employees work late and for very little pay or credit.
  • Mr. Plotz from Animaniacs is like this most of the time, but he can be somewhat nice to employees on occasion.
  • Chief Rojas was like this on The Batman, although in truth, Batman was the one he was angry at, and he was taking it out on his men.
  • Temple Fugate, before becoming the Clock King, in Batman: The Animated Series. Threatening to fire an employee for being five minutes late seems mean to a normal human being, but Fugate is a Schedule Fanatic who only cares for punctuality. If you're a punctual employee, Fugate would be civil to you, but never appreciative.
  • Mr. Slate from The Flintstones, though most episodes seem to portray him as reasonably amiable toward his workers (Wilma even invites him to Fred's birthday party in one episode), and only going into Mean Boss territory when Fred does something foolish/job-endangering. In one episode, he even convinces his new vice-president to bend the rules a little when the new company policy required employees to have a high school diploma, letting Fred keep his job if he simply takes a two-week course to get one.
  • Mr. Herriman from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, though he heads into Pointy-Haired Boss territory for being incompetent at times.
  • Futurama:
    • Professor Farnsworth, the CEO of Planet Express is not mean, but he doesn't care about the safety of his employees one bit.
    • Zapp Branigan is a more straightforward example, being completly abusive to his assistant, Kif.
    • Hermes Conrad, while not actually the CEO of Planet Express is a beaureaucrat who is sometimes shown to have executive powers such as managing employee wages and on occasion, firing people. However he is shown to be very mean and abusive towards Zoidberg as Hermes frequently deducts Zoidberg's paychecks for no reasons and often calls him "ya filthy crab", which is considered to be a racist slur as Zoidberg is a decapodian with crab and lobster like features.
  • Grunkle Stan from Gravity Falls, made especially evident in the episode "Boss Mabel". The episode more or less justifies it since Mabel as the Benevolent Boss was taken advantage of by Wendy, and run up the wall by Soos' ineptitude. By the end, Mabel concedes to Grunkle Stan that being the boss requires a mentality to deal with the shenanigans of his employees.
  • In The Inspector cartoons, the Commissioner has absolutely no patience with The Inspector's goof-ups, bellowing his reprimands, and has gone so far as to shoot or throw bombs at him when the Commissioner is really annoyed.
  • The Jetsons:
    • Mr. Spacely, George Jetson's boss.
    • Spacely's business rival, Mr. Cogswell is just as bad. The worst part is, George is often caught in the middle of Mr. Spacely's plots to one-up Cogswell.
  • Kaeloo: Any time where Mr. Cat is given the job of being someone else's boss, he fits the trope.
  • Mona Autumn from Littlest Pet Shop (2012), editor in chief for Tres Blase magazine. Turns out she only acts the way she does to weed out sycophants and those who aren't truly passionate about their work.
    Mona: If you keep telling me things I don't want to hear, I will put your career into a blender and push puree!
  • The King (obviously modeled on Charles Laughton) who Yosemite Sam works for in the Looney Tunes short Shishkabugs. A demanding Royal Brat, Sam is never able to please him; the food that Sam prepares seems excellent ("Cornish Hen a la Westchester" and "Prime Rib of Mutton au Jus with kreplach Sauce Bordelaise") but the rude king kicks it away and complains that he's bored with "the same old thing". (Indeed, this is one of the few cartoons where a viewer can't help but feel sorry for Sam.)
  • Principal Pixiefrog from My Gym Partner's a Monkey at his worst, though he's usually more of a Pointy-Haired Boss.
  • The Little Man from The Pink Panther, whenever he has a boss role, that is.
  • Lieutenant Harris in Police Academy: The Animated Series, as his movie counterpart, is a terrible person and the inmediate superior of most of the cast. Downplayed with the existence of Cmndt. Lazard who is a nice guy and Harris' superior.
  • Benson from Regular Show. Though to be fair, Benson just has to deal with slackers like Mordecai and Rigby (Muscle Man sometimes gets on his nerves as well). He's actually quite reasonable with Pops and Skips. But from the point of view of the actual protagonists, Benson is a prick who takes away anything that gives the two the slightest joy (in any given episode) and then threatens to fire them.
    • Benson's own boss, Mr. Maellard, is definitely this, being far meaner to him than Benson is to Mordecai and Rigby.
  • Rocko's boss Mr. Smitty from Rocko's Modern Life. Likewise, Mr. Bighead's boss Mr. Dupette sometimes strays into Bad Boss, given that he's sorta like Mr. Burns as an anthropomorphic lizard and owns O-Town (though unlike Mr. Smitty, he's depicted as much nicer in some of his appearances in the final season).
  • Mr. Krabs of SpongeBob SquarePants can be one on his bad days. He would often yell at his employees SpongeBob and Squidward whenever they're screwing things up in the Krusty Krab or whenever they're goofing off from working, which is something SpongeBob can attest to for the most part.
  • Krusty the Clown from The Simpsons, while not a Bad Boss as Mr. Burns is, has a history of dealing out abuse and disrespect to his supporting players or "Sideshows" both onscreen and off, to the point of providing the Start of Darkness for the previous one, Sideshow Bob. When Bart goes to work for him in "Bart Gets Famous" he finds out just how bad it gets.
  • Downplayed with Bull Gator of Taz-Mania. He's very amicable and pleasant towards his sidekick Axel, but he won't hesitate to club Axel if the other reptile screws up.
  • Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales: Stanley Livingston has to put up with most of Tennessee and Chumley's antics, even when he tells them to knock it off. Usually, he punishes them at the end by making them do chores like cleaning pots and pans, shoveling coal, and washing laundry.

 
Feedback

Video Example(s):

Top

Chairman and the Ghost Council

In the very first scene of "The Ghost and Molly McGee", we're introduced to the Ghost Council, led by the reaper-like Chairman, who are shown intolerant to spirits who fail to create enough misery and punish them by banishing them to the Flow of Failed Phantoms.

How well does it match the trope?

4.56 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / GreaterScopeVillain

Media sources:

Report