It’s no wonder what the inspiration for this list is. Mike Judge’s Extract hits theaters today, giving people another dose of the workplace humor that’s become almost all too common over the past few years. Odd how record numbers of people losing their jobs continually demand the hilarious office antics on television and in movies. Oh, sweet unemployed irony.
So instead of waxing on about the reason for the list, I figured I’d simply point out two interesting things I found while making it. One, bad bosses know no gender lines. Two, despite having to clean out the rat traps every morning here at FSR HQ and despite him making me “practice carrying his luggage for him” since he travels once a year, I don’t actually have it all that bad working for Publisher-in-chief Neil Miller. Who knew.
A quick note just to cover my ass – I didn’t include Darth Vader or Hitler because their main presence in film isn’t really bossing people around, and I didn’t put Michael Corleone or Tony Montana because, well, I actually think it would have been pretty cool working for them. Still, I expect you, dear reader, will be sure to point out the entries that I left out. Ever so kindly.
And here we…..go:
10. Franklin Hart, Jr from Nine to Five (1980)
The Crime: Arrogant Pigism
The Pitch: Hart may be your typical sleaze bag boss who promotes lesser-qualified men over women because he’s still living in the past (which makes it even funnier to watch in the present), but he does enough damage to make the three women who work closest to him daydream about murdering him in vivid, gleeful detail. What eventually happens to him is enough to make him wish he’d paid more attention at the sexual harassment seminar.
9. Katharine Parker from Working Girl (1988)
The Crime: Idea Theft-style Backstabbing
The Pitch: Perhaps on the lower end of evil with a bad case of general meanness, Parker commits the ultimate workplace sin of stealing ideas from underlings and passing them off as her own. She perfects a sweet personality to hide her conniving plans which makes her a massive bitch in sheep’s clothing.
8. Buddy Ackerman from Swimming With Sharks (1994)
The Crime: Publicly Humiliating Dickheadery
The Pitch: Ackerman goes from mildly disdainful, to condescending, to haranguing his assistant Guy on the fact that he is of zero consequence as a human being within the span of one monologue. And that’s on Guy’s first day of work. The man is serious about the difference between Equal and Sweet N Low. It’s an important distinction, people. Does that mean he deserves to be kidnapped and beaten severely? Don’t most movie executives?
7. Ebenezer Scrooge from A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
The Crime: Miserly Wankerism
The Pitch: Not only is Scrooge is near-universal symbol of snide cruelty with a dash of complete disregard for his workforce. The guy won’t even heat the freezing room his employees are in, makes them work on the most important holiday of the year, and cares more about money than he does his own happiness. And doesn’t he punch that Tiny Tim character at some point? No?
Scrooge has been in a ton of films, but I chose the Muppet version because 1) It’s awesome and 2) there’s something about Michael Caine being an asshole to Kermit the Frog that makes Scrooge look even more dastardly.
6. Mr. Sheldrake from The Apartment (1960)
The Crime: Smarmy Prickness
The Pitch: Aside from using the promise of promotion and the threat of firing on Baxter so that he can use his apartment for his extra-marital fuckery, Sheldrake drives the young girl (who works in his company) that he’s cheating with to suicide. After her suicide attempt, he has Christmas with his family and demands that Baxter deal with it. What a swell guy.
5. Bill Lumbergh from Office Space (1999)
The Crime: Passive Aggressiveness
The Pitch: With a special flair (get it??) for getting employees to agree to work on the weekend and moving downstairs, Lumbergh may actually be the worst boss of all time because of how annoyingly passive he is. He has no backbone, which makes one wonder how he ascended to the throne in the first place. You can just tell that his wife beats him. Working for him will not only make you want to burn down a building, you’ll actually go buy the gasoline and matches.
4. Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
The Crime: Unearthly Bitchiness
The Pitch: The cold, distant perfectionism of Priestly is enough to drive anyone insane. Who the hell needs two assistants anyway? She has to have everything done to excruciating detail, but her praise comes in the form of not yelling at you quite so loudly. However, she should be applauded for how quickly she can cut someone to the core by pinpointing their greatest fears and weaknesses. That takes true skill.
3. Gordon Gekko from Wall Street (1987)
The Crime: Greedy Douchbaggery
The Pitch: This guy loves money. He does not love you, he does not love his family, he does not love himself. He loves money. And he will do anything to get more of it – including a convoluted scheme to trick a man into creating a corporate takeover that will leave his own father and thousands of others out of a job. Plus, that slick-backed hair has got to be unethical somehow.
2. John Milton from The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
The Crime: Is Satan
The Pitch: Strangely enough, Milton isn’t a terrible boss. He pays well, there are tons of perks, and he’s generally sweet to his workers while destroying their lives and demanding their ever-lasting souls until he feels the need to have demons bludgeon them to death. He also has a hot redhead that he’d like you to impregnate, which is fine, but he totally wants to watch, and that’s just creepy.
1. The Sweatshop Foreman from Dirty Pretty Things (2002)
The Crime: Rape
The Pitch: Yeah, yeah. Some of the bosses on film and in real life roll their eyes at you, treat you like human waste because you didn’t file something correctly, or make you work overtime. But very few of them force the girl from Amelie to choose between placing a penis into her mouth until it ejaculates or starving from job loss. Next time your boss asks you to stay an hour late on a Friday, remember you could be giving a fat, sweaty guy a Blow J instead and count your damned blessings.
Honorable Mention: Mr. Potter from It’s A Wonderful Life