Follow TV Tropes


Playing With / Pointy-Haired Boss

Go To

Basic Trope: A character in a managerial position is incompetent.

  • Straight: Peter Harrison is a manager at Incompetence, Inc. He's a total buffoon who has no idea what he's doing.
  • Exaggerated: Peter isn't aware of his job responsibilities, what's going on around him, or even where he works.
  • Downplayed: Peter isn't as good at his new job as his superiors had hoped, but he can still get it done.
  • Justified:
    • Peter used to be fairly competent at his job, but he was unable to handle the strains of managerial duties.
    • Advertisement:
    • Peter was an incompetent from the start — however, the company couldn't really get rid of him for whatever reason, so he was Kicked Upstairs to do as little damage as possible.
    • Peter wants to be competent but is so heavily bound by bureaucratic red tape that he simply just gave up trying to do more than the bare minimum so as to spare himself the frustration.
    • Peter isn't necessarily incompetent or even incapable of handling the job, but a perfect storm of adverse circumstances has left him in way over his head and he compensates with draconian and often completely unreasonable policies to keep his team in line.
    • Everyone else is even worse.
  • Inverted: Peter is way too competent for his low-ranking job.
  • Subverted:
    • At first Peter seems to have all the hallmarks of the Pointy-Haired Boss, but it turns out that was just a lie spread by Bob, who hates him.
    • Advertisement:
    • Peter is expected based on his past incompetence to fail at a task, but it happens to fall within his single area of capability and he succeeds.
  • Double Subverted:
    • Bob only scratched the surface; he's way less competent than even his worst enemy thought.
    • Peter's surprise success was entirely accidental.
  • Parodied:
    • Peter is so incompetent at management that, in a completely mundane office environment, his employees start dying off in various absurd/tragic ways.
    • Incompetence, Inc.'s main competitor declares Peter to be their Employee of the Month.
  • Zig Zagged: Peter is competent in some functions of his job and abysmal in others.
  • Averted: Peter is competent enough for his position, and no evidence to the contrary is presented.
  • Enforced: "Those wage slaves watching this will love it if the boss is terrible. That way they sympathize with the office workers on this sitcom."
  • Advertisement:
  • Lampshaded: "How did you get promoted?"
  • Invoked: When it's realized that Peter is incompetent, he's Kicked Upstairs.
  • Exploited: All of Peter's underlings ignore their own jobs, knowing he won't do anything to correct them.
  • Defied: "I know I'm a good salesman, but I don't think I should be leading the sales branch."
  • Discussed: "The management staff need better training, and not just copies of Who Moved My Cheese. They need to be either promoted from the floor and taking a few calls themselves so they know their employee's jobs as well as their own."
  • Conversed: "Peter should have resigned a long time ago. He's not at all cut out to manage this project and he knows it, but he just won't admit it and I'm sick of his ridiculous displays of dominance because he conflates being an iron-fisted asshole with being a strong leader." "I don't even think it's that. I think he just got put in a no-win situation, and he's afraid that if he admits it, we're going to be on him like a bunch of sharks that just smelled blood. I'm not saying that I really feel that sorry for him, mind you; he's a dick and I'm sick of his shit, but the deck really was hopelessly stacked against him from the minute that he got shuffled into this role."
  • Implied: Peter appears only infrequently and, when he does appear, is perpetually twiddling his thumbs.
  • Deconstructed: Peter's incompetence comes back to bite him in the butt when the newest Incompetence, Inc. product fails due to him. His entire office is shut down, costing all the employees there their jobs.
  • Reconstructed: While there are some heavy losses on his end, Peter's office manages to weather the storm, but he's exposed as an incompetent. He's demoted back to Sales, which is where he wanted to be in the first place.
  • Played For Laughs: Peter at least has a great sense of humour and tends to appear with someone else goofing around.
  • Played For Drama: Many good employees are fired due Peter's inability to lead the office, and he ends getting away scot-free because of his connections.

Back to Pointy-Haired Boss