Fictional bosses. They are often even more dreadful than their real-life counterparts. They can utter the words “You’re Fired!” on a whim, cause in the fake world, wrongful termination lawsuits don’t exist. The list below is by no means complete. We need YOUR help! Share your opinions – and more importantly – your additions. On with the list!
Buddy Ackerman, Swimming With Sharks
As usual, Kevin Spacey nails the role, this time as a back stabbing movie mogul in a story of two-faced revenge. When new assistant Guy starts his assistant job, the last thing he expects is to run meaningless errands, have his ideas jacked, and (the straw that broke the camel’s back) assume that his current girlfriend is banging the bossman. Needless to say, Buddy gets his – and then some. And that results in vicarious living for all.
Mr. Angelino, Three’s Company
We’ve all worked for a Frank Angelino. He takes credit for your hard work, hires crappy help (Felipe!) and keeps you shoved out of sight from the people who matter. Jack would whip up a masterful dish only to have Mr. A enjoy the accolades. To add insult to injury, once Jack was able to open up his own place, guess who was threatening eviction on a regular basis. Yup, Mr. A.
Blake, Glengarry Glen Ross
Mitch and Murray were probably the worst bosses of them all. However, Blake (a brooding Alec Baldwin) is their henchman, sent out on a “mission of mercy” to save the jobs of struggling salesmen. We don’t know what you drove to work, but we drove a Hyundai. Any boss that is gonna pit co-workers against each other in such a cruel competition sucks ass.
Mr. Burns, The Simpsons
Growing up, Charles Montgomery Burns passed the time purposely injuring immigrant workers at his parents Atom mill. When he’s not ruling his monopoly over Springfield’s energy plant you can find him drilling for oil under the Springfield elementary school or using his office’s large suction tube to transport dissident workers to Morocco. It’s said that the former member of the Nazi party is worth 16.8 billion. With no heir apparent, no wonder Homer sticks around!
Joe Cabot, Reservoir Dogs
I don’t think this is what a con man has in mind when he signs up for a jewel heist. Then again, our jobs never play out the way we expect. With his no-nonsense gruff demeanor, his ability to take away your real name and strip you down to a color – Joe ends up on our list. Plus, he got everyone killed (except for Mr. Pink). At least Mr. White did get the satisfaction of putting a bullet in his boss.
Don Vito Corleone, The Godfather
His dying words were, “Life is so beautiful.” Seems funny coming from a man that spent most of his working life killing people. This kind and generous soul even made sticking orange peels in your gums frightening. Driven by that strict code of loyalty to the family, Vito Corleone decided his future was in his own start up business – either eliminate or consume all rival gangs in New York City and sell olive oil (not to mention gambling and bootlegging). Certainly not the type of company you would want to get into if you have a tendency to whine about sick days and shitty raises.
Faris al-Farik, Sleeper Cell
What a nice guy. He volunteers at the local temple and takes children to an LA Dodgers game. The irony is that he’s neither Jewish nor a baseball fan – just testing to make sure his chemical agent will reach the field. Under his watch you’re issued a beeper and expected to come to work any day/any hour. And donâ€™t even think of putting this job on your resume or you might get stoned to death. Plus, no direct deposit. You’re not even paid in money! Just virgins who are waiting for you in heaven. Praise Allah!
David Fisher, Six Feet Under
Sure the series ended with him and on-again off-again boyfriend Keith sharing hyphenated last names and raising two adopted children with poor manners and bad attitudes. Forced to take over Fisher and Sons Funeral Home after his father’s untimely death, a frustrated and anxiety-riddled David sets aside his dreams of going to law school to crack the bullwhip on his often stoned and always soul searching brother, Nate, as well as their newly appointed disgruntled business partner, Rico. But don’t let this tormented choirboy fool you, he once smoked crack with AND orally satisfied his attacker during a brutal carjacking. Dysfunctional? You betcha! Who says a funeral director doesn’t know how to let loose?
Gordon Gekko, Wall Street
The Wall Street trader is famous for his “Greed is good” speeches, but there’s another quote that lands him on this list: “Lunch is for wimps.” Easy for you to say Gordo! You married the daughter of a billionaire hotelier, so even if your stocks hit the gutter, you’ll still be on easy street. Isn’t it an amazing country when one of cinema’s ultimate villains becomes an effective recruiter for the greasy-haired Boiler Room wannabes.
E. Edward Grey, Secretary
Collars, whips and chains – everything you’d expect to find in your new boss’s top desk drawer, no? James Spader plays the perfectionist attorney who is aroused by his new secretary’s willingness to please. Mind you, what kind of boss would hire help straight out of the nuthouse? The sadomasochist relationship eventually in workplace terminationâ€¦ and marriage. Who says love can’t thrive under the fluorescent lights of the office? He’s a bad boss. But it feels so good.
Alonzo Harris, Training Day
Granted he was more of a partner than a boss, but this senior “official” forced PCP on rookie cop Jake Hoyt at gunpoint, uses a Chinese restaurant menu as a faux warrant to gain entrance into places and hides behind the “Blue Wall of Silence” – committing crimes of his own to “prevent” bigger ones. While there are bosses way above the ladder, answering to this psychopath is sure to put a strain on your career. But you can’t leave, you need the health benefits.
Nathan Jessup, A Few Good Men
The fictional military world holds no shortage of short-tempered bosses. But Col. Nathan R. Jessep has no problem stepping on his subordinates to climb the Marine ladder. Heck, if he were your boss, he’d order a “Code Red” if you took an extended lunch break. And every time you ask for a raise or a promotion it would be so irritating to constantly hear, “You can’t handle the truth!”
Mr. Kellerman, Dirty Dancing
Mr. Kellerman hires working class dance instructors for his upscale resort and expects them NOT to try to sleep with the guests? Come on! He treats his staff like shit while he kisses Jerry Orbach’s ass, hires a scumbag like Robbie to be a waiter (who sleeps his way around the entire hotel), and then accuses Johnny Castle of being a thief (remember it was that old couple The Schumachers)! All Johnny wanted to do was give his private dance lessons, dance the last dance at the end of the summer soiree, and have the time of his life with pre-nose job Jennifer Grey. If the guy was willing to put up with that schnoz for the entire summer, then I say leave him be!
James Tiberius Kirk, Star Trek
I wouldn’t call it a hostile takeover, but like any power hungry boss, Captain Kirk picked his moment to rise to the top – effectively “taking” the reigns of Enterprise. His appearance on this list can be contested – but to me, he always came across as a control freak who would let First Officer Spock do the heavy lifting while he’d sit back and reap the rewards. Over the years, he became pretty testy especially after the Klingons killed his son. I have the hunch that being his subordinate would not be fun.
Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada
Running personal errands, getting berated via cell phone and setting her subordinates to fail miserably by purposely communicating poorly – What a treat. There has been controversy over who this character is based after. The answer is simple – almost every person I’ve ever worked for! Emotional and psychological abuse at its finest.
Ted Roberts, A Very Brady Christmas
Stingy contractor Ted Roberts really screwed Mike Brady on Christmas. Because of his irresponsible decision to ignore safety standards on a downtown office complex project, Mike gets trapped in a crumbling building. The good news, of course, is that he could also be considered a matchmaker. After all, Alice and Sam did reunite.
Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol
In fairness to Mr. Scrooge, he DID give Bob Cratchit Christmas Day off. With only disgust for the poor and the everyday worker, Scrooge thought the below-minimum-wage worker would be better off dead, thus “decreasing the surplus population.” I’ve often had the same thought, except it has to do with eliminating real-life bosses.
Keyser Soze, The Usual Suspects
At first glance, working for a boss you never actually see sounds like a plus. However, when it’s a shadowy figure who didn’t think twice about murdering his own family to prove his intestinal fortitude, you know there’s going to be workplace pressures. Bosses don’t get much more ruthless than Soze. Call in sick, he’d have your mother murdered. Botch a task, your sister will be raped. Jam the printer and… Plus, trying to be creative under Soze’s tutelage would prove to be fruitless. This is a man who has faked cerebral palsy and turned a bulletin board into a person. What have you done today?
Mr. Spacely/Mr. Slate
Since The Flinstones are The Jetsons are bastard brothers, we’ll lump these hot-headed bosses together. Whether it’s the Stone Age or 2062 Hanna and Barbera taught us an important lesson: regardless of the era, bosses never change. George only had to work three hours a day, three days a week – yet that tyrannical shrimp Cosmo Spacely still found a reason to fire George on a regular basis. Lucky for George, he lived in a future where Carpal Tunnel had been cured. All that button pushing could drive a man crazy.
Fred’s time at the Rock Quarry always seemed like a decent gig. There are worse things than manning an animal to lift boulders while you chat with your best friend. One major problem was that the place was changing names on a regular basis – and that can’t be good for business. Some accounts have Fred’s regular place of employment being identified by 18 different names. Honorable mention: W.C. Cogswell of Cogswell Cogs (they had nothing on the Spacely Sprockets!)
Al Swearengen, Deadwood
Perhaps the king of nefarious deeds, this brothel owner, and influential politico is no treat to work for. Aside from his excessive potty mouth (unless you enjoy being called a c**ksucker) he’s the kind of workaholic who always thinks business first. However, he does have a generous side. “God rest the souls of that poor family… and pussy’s half price for the next 15 minutes.” What a sweetheart!
Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Poor Oompa Loompas. At first glance, their gigs seem nice: free room and board, lots of singing and tons of candy. But what do you get when guzzle down sweets? You get to work for a mean control freak! Mr. Wonka, despite all of his money, pays the little guys in their favorite food, cacao beans. Their subservient nature aside, most employees should take notes from the Oompas – they’re great at keeping corporate secrets and break into impromptu songs to break the workplace tension.
There are plenty of more to add. Join the fictional boss debate – leave a comment below.
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