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"Every day, the sharks are fed at least two employees who had incurred the displeasure of the president."
Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion.

A Diabolical Mastermind or other villain establishes just how bad they are by callously mistreating their own henchmen, sometimes outright maiming or killing them - not just for failures that weren't their fault, but simply because somebody blew their nose too noisily; or to remind them who's the biggest, baddest mother there; or because he was in a bad mood; or in many cases, absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Why anyone goes on working for them is unknown. Their behavior sometimes breeds Starscreams or annoys/scares off their mooks into joining the winning (or at least less dangerous) side, but sometimes it has no effect... and sometimes you're left wondering why anyone would work for them in the first place. They may have simply Signed Up for the Dental.

In some cases it's not the Big Bad, but a more vague force of evil that slaughters its own. For those cases see Artifact of Death.

See also:

Not related to That One Boss. Contrast with Benevolent Boss. Never ever ever try With Due Respect on a Bad Boss.

Examples of Bad Boss include:


Anime and Manga Edit

  • Axis Powers Hetalia: Russia to Lithuania
  • Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro features the God-Emperor of this trope, Neuro. Even leaving out the fact that he's a demon from the depths of the Makai, he's physically abusive to the people who work for him (at one point, he sets his assistant's hair on fire just to prove a point), with punishments for "failures" like forcing one to hold over her body a tub of gasoline with a candle that, if spilled, would burn her to death, gives absolutely no concern over the health and welfare of the people who work for him, or even for their wealth and property, as he completely totaled the new car of one employee and would only replace it with a clunker that wouldn't last a year, and borrowed under the name of another several million yen. The only reason anyone works for him is because if they refuse, he'll kill them.
    • He loses some Bad Boss points (even comedic ones) for actually stealth-rewarding his assistants and much of the abuse being (quite literally this time) Training From Hell.
  • The Digimon Adventure anime has Myotismon (Vamdemon). Between minions he's killed for failure or for no apparent reason once he was done with them, and the fact that both his resurrections required the deaths of others, Gatomon (Tailmon), the one who turned against him, is the only minion of his known to have survived working for him. Not to mention the torture and beatings Myotismon gave.
    • Puppetmon was nearly as bad, killing off minions who annoyed him even slightly. At least Metalseadramon and Machinedramon's reasons for killing Scorpiomon and Warumonzaemon made some sense.
  • Millions Knives from Trigun tops Myotismon for lack of empathy towards employees -- none of his servants exit the anime alive, as he views them as garbage like all the other humans. Caine in the anime and Dominique in the manga even kill themselves rather than face the penalty for failure.
    • Then there's his Dragon, Legato, who is strongly implied to do quite a few of the murders for failure and has a bit of an issue with Midvalley in the manga. His coin gimmick even implies that he intended for all the members of the Gung-ho Guns to be killed before his final confrontation with Vash (which might make him even worse than Knives in some way, they're the same species as he is and all). Interestingly, manga Legato himself is an extraordinary "victim" of Knives's cruelty, as his zeal earns him a broken spine and Knives tells him that he doesn't care about his loyalty and will kill him as soon as he stops being useful.
    • Master Chapel in the manga. This is all the more aggravating since he's a kind of substitute father to several of his henchmen.
  • Powerful enemies on Dragonball Z tend to be extremely cruel and apathetic when it comes to anybody working under them, which includes everybody from Piccolo, to Vegeta, to Frieza. Frieza was specifically bad at this; every time he happened to have a mood swing (which was quite frequently, considering that he was a sadistic borderline Omnicidal Maniac), one or more of his henchman would find themselves vaporized instantly. This seems to be mostly in anime, though. In the manga he's less kill-happy, though no less sadistic.
    • During the Buu saga there was Babidi. After his human minions succeed in acquiring a large amount of power for him, he makes one explode and has the other shot when he tries to escape. When he wakes Buu, his first order is to have his Dragon Dabura turned into a cookie and devoured by Buu. He then controls Buu by repeatedly threatening to seal him away again. As one would expect, threatening the most powerful being in existence didn't pan out too well.
  • Dragon Ball, the lighthearted precursor to Z, was also no exception, particularly in the Red Ribbon Army saga: For example, General Blue, the gay high-ranking officer in the Red Ribbon Army, often executed his own soldiers if they either did unclean things (e.g. he had a random soldier executed for picking his nose), or failure. He's also quite careless about where he sends his fellow soldiers, as he sent his soldiers rushing down a corridor that had holes coming out while he walked slowly. guess what happened to those soldiers? Commander Red, General Blue's boss, is even worse: He has his soldiers executed for failure, and has... an extremely wide definition as to what it means to fail (for one thing, if some soldier is unlucky enough to not be able to evade a cat he sics on them and gets his eye plucked out... he's executed). Then he expresses his complete willingness and chillingly disregard for his own troops when he reveals that he only intends to use the dragonballs to make himself taller.
    • On that note, General Blue is somewhat subverted. In the episode "The Trap is Sprung", the way he motivates his men is giving them a motivational speech about the pride of the Red Ribbon Army, and they seem to have some renewed motivation. In fact, when he hears the screams of his men when they were killed by the trap, he was actually reluctant to look at what fate befell them. Granted, not that it changes things much, but still.
  • Gates from Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid had a penchant of killing his subordinates at the drop of a hat, just to show how much of a raving lunatic he was.
  • Though he doesn't exactly have what could be called "henchmen," Light Yagami of Death Note kills or tries to kill almost everyone who helps him throughout the series. A Justified Trope, since Light tries to keep his identity as a mass murderer a secret from the police, and every person that knows who he really is poses a security risk. Misa devotes her entire life to serving Kira, even to the point of undergoing rather painful interrogation, shortening her lifespan twice, and pretty much giving up any notion of a normal life for him and he still treats her like dirt and manipulates her for all she's worth.
    • That's because according to the creator Light loathes Misa with all of his being viewing her as a prime example of people who don't deserve to live in his new world. Indeed he plans on gleefully killing her the instant she is no longer useful.
  • Xanxus from Katekyo Hitman Reborn will kick his subordinates a hundred meters out of the base if they don't give him the right meat for dinner. He launches many things onto Squalo's head, usually glasses of wine, and possibly bigger things... When Bel and Mammon come disguised as transfer students for the Arcobaleno Trials, they hint that their family doesn't get a long well, since their mom (Squalo) yells a lot, and their dad (Xanxus) throws a lot of things. He's been known to "not care" if his subordinates go missing. Neither does anyone else on the team. Good thing Squalo came back anyway.
  • Orochimaru from Naruto actually sacrifices his subordinates to perform forbidden jutsu, regularly performs gruesome experiments on many others (though he probably mainly picks his prisoners), murders one mook who came in to help him when he was screaming in pain, and dismisses his most fanatical follower as unimportant after he chose to die fighting for him.
    • Orochimaru can be contrasted with Pain, who is a ruthless but beloved god to his village, genuinely cares for his country, and rebukes his subordinates for fighting amongst themselves and disrespecting each other, stressing teamwork and camaraderie.
    • Madara is somewhere in the middle. While he doesn't seem too concerned about the deaths of his henchmen and actively manipulates all of them, he doesn't seem to have expected them to die either and he doesn't regard them as cheap sacrifices. He outwardly respects them at any rate, though he teases them occasionally.
  • Muruta Azrael, Lord Djibril, and Patrick Zala of Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny were terrible bosses, with the first two in particular subscribing to a We Have Reserves style of fighting that cost thousands of lives. They also controlled their subordinates through drugs and brainwashing, and killed anyone who tried to argue with them.
  • You'll be hard pressed to find a scene that has Tonga from Kimba the White Lion that doesn't have her yelling or whipping her own workers. It got to the point where her lioness Bella Dona ditched her after being whipped when she was trying to tell Tonga where Kimba and Roger Ranger were hiding.
  • Fairy Tail has a lot. These include:
    • Erigor, who casually orders his most useful henchman stabbed in the back.
    • Brain, who shoots Cobra in the back for taking too long to defeat Natsu (and Cobra was about to win).
    • King Faust, burns his subordinates legs for mentioning that another subordinate was in the line of fire.
    • Zancrow, who incinerates his mooks just because they told him to be careful when fighting Natsu. When Natsu calls him out on this, Zancrow calls them "trash".
  • This is one of the defining traits of One Piece villains. BigBads such as Crocodile, Eneru, Spandam, and Hody Jones are willing to let their own underlings die by the thousands in order to persue their goals, not to mention others who kill their subordinates For the Evulz. This is also how to measure the Character Development of Buggy the Clown. In the beginning, he uses his own men as shields, but when we see him last, he and they are crying joyously at their reunion.
    • Subverted by Arlong, who despises and kills humans callously, but deeply cares for and gets enraged when his subordinates are harmed. Particularly when Luffy uses one of his incapacitated allies as a shield.
  • The yet unnamed leader of the Vandereich from Bleach has only appeared in two scenes. Both of these scenes depict him mutilating and dismembering his underlings for effectively no reason. In fact, whipping off an underling's arm seems to be his favorite way of getting their attention.


Comic Books Edit

  • The Joker, and (to a lesser degree) most of Batman's adversaries. Batman: The Animated Series eventually addressed this, as the Joker became increasingly strapped for cash because potential thugs were all too scared to work for him. Specifically, he once pushed a henchman into the path of an oncoming truck for asking a simple question about their plan, shouting "Mind your own business!" He did that after he explained it to him. Though, to be fair, Joker is insane. He probably did it because he thought it would be funny. Heck, that's why he does most of what he does! This is hilariously lampshaded in "The Man Who Killed Batman", where a thug asks an obvious question only to get pushed into the ground and attacked by the Joker's pet hyenas. Harley Quinn gives a bored sigh and announces: "I'll get the mop."
    • Joker is arguably even worse in the movies. In Burton's Batman, he ices all of the mobsters he's just bullied into working for him on the imaginary advice of the dead guy he just fried with a handbuzzer ("Grease 'em now? You're a vicious bastard. I'm glad you're dead!") and later shoots his most loyal henchman, Bob, for no other reason than he's pissed that Batman stole his balloons. ("Bob? Gun.") The Dark Knight has a Joker who takes it to even greater extremes in the opening scene ("No, no, no. I kill the bus driver") and later uses one of his own goons as a human bomb.
    • This trope is nicely subverted by the Batman villain Bane. While he is a mass-murderer, with a body-count of over 30 in his first appearance, he inspires extreme loyalty in his henchmen and is, in turn, loyal to them.
    • Another subversion is The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot. While certainly a hard master, he generally keeps his promises to his employees, pays them well, and doesn't kill them without reason.
  • Superman: Lex Luthor flip-flops on this. Some interpretations show him as a deeply caring boss and humanist (or at least smart enough to keep his underlings well-managed), others as a mastermind willing to kill and use anybody near him. Then again, he has enough money to get away with a lot of mistreatment:
    • One example in Superman: The Animated Series, when Brainiac kidnapped him and was threatening everyone present he abandons his right hand woman Mercy to her death, leaving Superman to save her. To her credit, she eventually rebels and uses Lexcorp (which he legally gave her when sent to prison, so she'd return it) for herself.
    • In the first movie, it's implied that Lex is so mean nobody but the dimwitted Otis and Miss Teschmacher would work for him. He does, after all, show no concern that one of the missiles he hijacked is directed towards where Ms. Teschmacher's mother lives. Out-of-story, this is to give her a reason to remove the Kryptonite Lex was using against Supers. In-story... no reason but pure meanness, and she'd served him well thus far.
    • Showcased in the first Justice League episode starring him as the villain, "Injustice for All". His "leadership" of the Injustice Gang consists mostly of him yelling at his subordinates for their failures and name-calling. The Gang only puts up with his crap because he keeps offering more and more money. Somewhat justified since he did recently discover he had contracted terminal Kryptonite-induced cancer and wasn't in a particularly patient or forgiving mindset as a result.
  • The title character of Leonard Le Genie is a sadistic, abusive boss to his assistant Basile, though it is occasionally shown that, if given the chance, Basile would be even worse.
  • In the most recent Aquaman series, Black Manta is one of these to the henchmen serving as crew on his submarine as they monitor Sub Diego. Admittedly, for such a cruel guy he's oddly calm and forgiving here; the worst he doles out is a severe verbal thrashing at his underlings for talking too loud on a stealth mission.
  • Darkseid Is...a Bad Boss. Question his decisions? Omega Beams. Compliment him for an apparent act of mercy? Omega Beams. Accomplish your mission with (almost) flying colors? Omega Beams. Fail him? You wish you'll get Omega Beams.
    • Darkseid does have the ability to resurrect the dead, when the people he kills become useful again. Of course, given what life with Darkseid as a boss is like, death might be preferable.
  • The Kingpin has a tendency to execute henchmen who have screwed up or slighted him in some way, or are even just forced to die so that he looks more fearful to the survivors. Why a supposed Genius Bruiser has not realized over the years that this makes the jobs of Spider-Man, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and a few thousand other street-level heroes easier is a total mystery.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man offered a plausible explanation. In the first storyline with Kingpin as the Big Bad, Spiderman manages to get a video of him crushing a henchman's skull. The Kingpin's Slasher Smile shows that Kingpin enjoys killing people with his bare hands. Executing henchmen that have failed him gives Kingpin an opportunity to sate his bloodlust since he isn't a street level thug anymore.
  • In Sin City, after it is revealed that Manute is working for Ava Lord, Dwight asks why he would work for such a manipulative person. Manute admits that she is evil, uncaring, and likely to turn on him (which she does), but is simply seduced by her power.
  • Doctor Octopus could easily have been the Trope Namer for Insufferable Genius, given the way he treats his henchmen. In the Marvel Comics 2 universe, his successor Lady Octopus acts much the same way when she appears in the Spider-Girl series.
  • There's a weirdly surreal example of this in Hellboy: The Black Flame. After getting involved in a bunch of Lovecraftian cult stuff, the CEO of a Mega Corp calls a board meeting. The board members file in to find the CEO standing there, wearing a steampunk-nazi battlesuit that glows with black flames of pure dark energy and surrounded by demonic frog minions. They stare at him, and he informs them that he now owns 51% of the company and they are all fired. Cue fiery death, right? Nope. No puns, no nothing, he just fires them and they leave.
    • So he sounds like a good boss. Laying everyone off insured their next job interview could claim they were competent, as well as automatic severance packages for some contracts. Also, they're all still alive.
  • In Chew, Mike Applebee makes it no secret that he hates Tony Chu's guts, and thus sees to volunteering Chu to the most disgusting cases available. After a one night stand with Chu's friend and partner in the force, John Colby, Applebee lets up on the torture in order to get on Colby's good side... until he realizes that Colby has absolutely no interest in continuing any sort of relationship, at which point he stops assigning Chu and Colby to gross jobs and starts sending them straight-up deadly ones.
  • While Dr. Robotnik's status as one would have been debatable since, while sentient, his machines are also easily reassembled and evil by nature, lately this has become more apparent. In particular is when both times the Dark Egg Legion were the only forces he had available to him. The first time he told Dimitri that since Echidnas were in such short supply, he intended to "use" them to the last man, and hoped they proved durable enough that he didn't run out of them too quickly. The second time, when Lien-Da asked him why he would brutally attack them one minute, then rehabilitate and upgrade them the next while praising Lien-Da's ruthless and traitorous practices, he says, with a psychotic grin, "Because it's all part of the game!"


Comic Strips Edit


Fan Works Edit


Film Edit

  • Darth Vader, the Trope Namer and basically the Trope Codifier for You Have Failed Me. While prone to Flanderization, as he only kills two subordinates (in the films anyway), he would have killed the officer that mocked the power of The Force had Tarkin not intervened, and the palpable fear that nearly everyone around him exudes indicates he at least has a strong reputation for this.
    • Tarkin once had a stormtrooper spaced (in a suit to keep him alive) and left to spiral into Carida's atmosphere and incinerate for insinuating that he and Daala were having an affair. Even though they were.
    • Vader notes that his own boss, Emperor Palpatine, is "not as forgiving as I am", and the secondary material frequently verifies that claim in great detail. He had Bevel Lemelisk (who made the crucial mistake of designing the air shaft in the Death Star) killed in horribly gruesome ways, then cloned him and brought his mind into the new body to kill it again... over and over and over. First cause of death: being eaten alive by piranha beetles. Another one was getting dipped in molten copper (when he had the nerve to ask Palpatine why copper in particular, the latter responded it just what the smelter was using that day). Lemelisk's last words, when the New Republic executed him, were a resigned "Just make sure you do it right this time."
    • Durga the Hutt, one of Jabba's rivals and Lemelisk's new employer after he defects from the Empire, also takes this trope to absurd levels. Tolerating no snafus whatsoever in his quest to build an ultra-deadly new version of the Death Star, Durga actually has high-voltage electrodes wired to his technicians' chairs so that he can electrocute any of them if a technician displeases him, even accidentally. When the workers get into the habit of leaping out of their chairs just as Durga loses his temper, Durga simply has them strapped so tightly to the chairs that they cannot escape. The next time he goes to electrocute a crewman who angers him, he makes a mistake and accidentally burns another employee to a blackened crisp; undaunted, he simply warns everyone to "let that be a lesson to you."
      • This characteristic of Palpatine is parodied in the 3D animation video It's hard to be a Stormtrooper 4, where Palpatine stops by to put some of his men back on schedule. The stormtrooper protagonist moves a crate out of his transport ship. Vader tells Palpatine that they are already working as fast as they can, to which Palpatine responds "Maybe this will motivate your men..." and is apparently starting up his Force Lightning. The stormtrooper protagonist is obviously worried by this... until Palpatine's Force Lightning strikes the crate he just moved, causing a side on it to come down, revealing the crate is filled with Lego Death Star sets.
    • Ysanne Isard from the X Wing Series takes Bad Boss to the next level, When one of her minions betrays her, her response is to order not just his death, but the death of his girlfriend's entire family. Her management style was mocked in one of the later Wraith Squadron books by a more Affably Evil villain, who noted that anyone who worked for a capricious psycho like Isard only had one of two things to look forward to: You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, or You Have Failed Me. Of course, Admiral Trigit, the Imp in question, is not much better. He's a Benevolent Boss as long as this are running smoothly, but when the chips are down, he's perfectly willing to sacrifice his Star Destroyer and everyone aboard to save his own sorry ass.
    • Basically the whole imperial hierarchy, except for a rare few like Thrawn and Pellaeon.
  • Willie Bank in Oceans 13 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.
    • Which is why it's 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.)
  • Brad Wesley from Road House. He beats the stuffing out of one of his Mooks for bleeding too much, and sure enough, the guy still shows up to work for him every day.
  • Casanova Frankenstein in the movie Mystery Men makes the point to the heroes that he is willing to kill his own men for no reason, just to show how tough and insane he is.
    • On the plus side, one of those henchman was Michael Bay, so he can't be all bad.
  • Bill Lumbergh from Office Space, a passive-aggressive Smug Snake who is especially cruel to Milton, taking his favorite stapler, constantly moving his desk to more and more undesirable locations, oh and laying him off and not telling him about it for several months.
  • Subverted in the first Blade movie: Big Bad Deacon Frost asks a lieutenant, whose losing and subsequent regrowing of arms has been something of a Running Gag throughout the movie, to hold out his hand, ostensibly to test the sharpness of Blade's Cool Sword by cutting his arm off.

 Deacon Frost: [examining Blade's sword] Hold out your arm, Quinn.

Quinn: Why, man? 'Cause they're-they're, like, all better.

Deacon Frost: Hold out your arm. Now.

[trembling, Quinn does so; Frost takes aim with the sword]

Quinn: Deak, I...

[Frost raises the sword... and lowers it]

Deacon Frost: Just kidding.

[chucks Quinn on the shoulder]

Quinn: [laughing uproariously] He was fucking with me, man! He was, like...

  • Siegfried in the 2008 Get Smart film is a bad boss, and the film seems very much aware of this trope. In his first scene, he promptly shoots one of his men who questions what seems to be a pointless part of Siegfried's plan (blowing up a warehouse for no apparent reason after stealing stuff from it). This behavior actually has consequences for the bad boss, however, as at the end of the film he's thrown out of his getaway car and off a bridge by his own Dragon after threatening and insulting the guy and his wife repeatedly (once even implying that he intends to replace his dragon with a Rhinoceros, should he fail.). He also continually insults his right-hand man Shtarker, who tells the other goons, "I'd quit, but he's married to my sister." The Dog Bites Back, however.
  • Ratigan of The Great Mouse Detective, as demonstrated when a drunk henchman sets off his Berserk Button by calling him a "rat."

 Ratigan: Oh, my dear Bartholomew... I'm afraid that you've gone and upset me. You know what happens when someone upsets me. (rings bell to summon his Right-Hand-Cat)

    • Don't forget when Fidget suggested for them to cast off excessive weight of their dirigible in order to go faster (He was thinking of tossing their hostage overboard, so he isn't exactly nice guy either), Ratigan complied... by throwing him overboard. Note: Fidget is a bat with a crippled wing.
  • Hans Gruber from Die Hard:

 Gruber: Blow the roof!

Mook: But Karl's up there!

Gruber: Blow the roof!

(Blows up the roof)

    • Ironically, blowing up the roof probably saved Karl...
  • The Big Bad Taha Ben Mahmoud from Banlieue 13 is a trigger-happy boss. So trigger happy that his thugs are only in it for the massive money he has. When his hacker minion told him his accounts have been emptied, said minion left and the rest gun Taha down. Even then, he utters this Facing the Bullets One-Liner:

 Taha: You all are a bunch of useless dipsh*ts.

Mooks proceed to gun him down while he points his hands like guns to them.

  • Cliffhanger. One of the mooks is injured during the mid-air robbery.

 "What do we do with him?"

"Send him to the nearest hospital." (throws mook out of the airplane)

  • Commander Kruge from Star Trek III the Search For Spock, who kills his lousy tactical officer when the guy over-performs, destroying a vessel instead of disabling it. The Klingon Promoted guy who takes over knows better than to mess up similarly.
    • That was only one instance. Later in the film, Kruge is devestated when Kirk orders the Enterprise to self-destruct, killing almost all of Kruge's crew.
  • Shao Kahn of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is very much the Bad Boss, getting rid of Rain and later Jade for having disobeyed or failed him.
    • Actually, as far as we can tell, Rain was killed for succeeding in killing, but not needlessly torturing, Stryker and Kabal.
  • Clarence Boddicker from RoboCop when one of his men is shot in a bank heist upon finding him he asks him "Can you fly Bobby?" he then has him thrown onto a police car that was pursuing them.
    • A similar incident occurs in Beverly Hills Cop III. During the opening truck chase, one of DeWald's accomplices, Taddeo, is winged by Axel and begs for help. DeWald by wordlessly leaning across the stricken henchman, opening the passenger door, and then calmly shoving him out to get run over by the pursuing Axel. Since DeWald doesn't taunt Taddeo it isn't as sadistic as Boddicker, but still pretty callous.
  • In The Witches, the Grand High Witch deals with a witch who expresses her reservation about killing all the children by incinerating her alive.
  • In Conan the Barbarian, Thulsa Doom demonstrates his power by ordering one of his worshipers to leap to her death with a gently worded, "Come to me, my child".
  • Zorin machine guns a group of his own employees in A View to a Kill.
  • Kill Bill has several. Bill starts the series by ordering the assassination of a runaway employee...AT HER WEDDING, collateral damage accepted and expected. Budd's boss at the bar he worked at exemplifies a typical, non-murderous yet irrational and petty Bad Boss.
  • Inspector Richard from Kiss of the Dragon pretty much tops most on the list for callous disregard. Rather than dive away from a grenade for instance, he just throws a chubby subordinate on top of it. When the hero escapes into a laundry chute but goes up, he tells a man to go after him. The first guy begins to go to the stairs and gets shot, then he grabs a second guy and throws him at the chute. The guy instead starts looking around, but Richard is impatient and pitches him down the chute. By the time Jet Li escapes from the hotel Richard has killed around 60% of his initial crew himself. And much like Kefka and Palpatine, just hanging around him pretty much guarantees you'll die. Not bad for a guy who's completely normal, has no superpowers or special skills and the like. He gets away with everything under the sun by being the head of the local branch of Interpol and having agents and normal officers everywhere doctoring evidence and framing other people for it and keeps those in check with blackmail. Considering how much shit would come down on him if any of them stopped protecting him, it REALLY makes his men sticking with him ridiculous.
  • Timothy in The Long Kiss Goodnight receives a call on his radio from a henchman, who sounds badly wounded, saying that he thinks he's dying. Timothy responds "Continue dying", and shuts off his radio.
  • James Bond's longtime adversary Ernst Stavro Blofeld was often depicted this way:
    • In Thunderball, the chairs in his conference room were rigged to electrocute any underling who displeased him.
      • From the same movie, Emilio Largo throws an henchman in his shark pool after he failed to kill Bond.
    • In You Only Live Twice, he had a pool filled with piranhas in his office - complete with a bridge that underlings were forced to cross when they entered and exited.
  • From Mom and Dad Save The World comes this heartwarming scene in which Tod Spengo (Jon Lovitz) asks his mooks which facial hair he should wear to his wedding.

 JL: Which do you think would be better, goatee or mutton chops?

Guard: Mutton chops, m'Lord!

JL: (thinks) Hmm, no. No, I don't think so. Shoot yourself in the head.

Guard obediently shoots himself in the head.

    • Spengo then decides that muttonchops would look better after all.
  • When Trumpets Fade, an HBO original movie about the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, features a Bad Boss as its protagonist. Private Manning's unit nearly gets wiped out, but Manning survives because he's a coward, so he gets promoted to sergeant and is given command of the raw recruits who are brought in as replacements; he orders one of them to take point on a patrol on his first day, so that Manning can save his own skin. He then leads a group of these same raw recruits to destroy an enemy artillery installation in exchange for a promise that he will be removed from combat duty on psychological grounds if he succeeds. In the course of the mission, one of the two raw recruits, equipped with a flamethrower, runs away, so Manning shoots the fuel tank of the 'thrower, setting the private on fire. While that man is burning to death, Manning turns his pistol on the second flamethrower-equipped private and orders him to charge. While the mission succeeds, only Manning and that one soldier make it back. This gets Manning promoted to lieutenant.
  • In the TV movie "Jonny Quest Versus the Cyber Insects," Dr. Zin provides several good examples of how not to treat your henchmen. Specifically, he continually kills them for very minor failures, including two occasions where the executed minion wasn't responsible.
  • When we first meet Synonamess Botch, the Big Bad of Twice Upon a Time, we see him cussing out his vulture minions and telling them not to slack off, which is apparently his idea of a Rousing Speech.
  • Casper: Cathy Moriarty as Carrigan Crittenden does this to Paul "Dibbs" Plutzker (Eric Idle) right up to the point of killing him before getting killed herself.

  "Dibs! This is all your fault, as usual. If you would have just forged the damn will".

    • Actually Carrigan accidentally killed herself while trying to kill Dibbs. Then she kills him since (as a ghost) she no longer needs his services.
  • Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty was also shown to be a very bad boss to her minions (granted, it isn't surprising due to her being the Mistress of All Evil). A very notable instance of this is when she electrocutes he minions with lightning after she learns that they spent sixteen years searching for a baby, not even being aware that Aurora would age.
    • In fact, many Disney villains qualify. Ursula, on the other hand, is an exception. If something bad happens to her eels, then she gets pissed...
  • Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada.
  • Horrible Bosses. What do you think it would include? The three horrible bosses mentioned in the movie title include a Complete Monster, a rapist, and a hedonist who takes the helm after his father's death.
  • Bamboozled: Thomas C. Dunwitty, the tyrannical vice president of the Continental Network System or (CNS).

  "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."

 "I want you to wait here."

"Why?"

"Because I hate you."


Literature Edit

  • Lord Voldemort of the Harry Potter series. He regularly tortures, abuses and kills his subordinates, even before his initial fall from power. It's his style of leadership. Several characters point out that many of the Death Eaters only returned to him out of fear of what he'd do to them if he didn't; even if they sometimes like to taunt people they don't like that they will get theirs when Voldemort returns, and sometimes like to go on "Muggle hunts" in their Death Eater uniforms, in reality most have pretty mixed feelings about even the idea of him actually coming back, save for a few fanatics like Bellatrix.
    • Death Eater Yaxley is also a Bad Boss during Voldemort's reign over the Ministry of Magic, as is Barty Crouch Sr. towards his house-elf. During her short tenure as Hogwarts headmistress, Dolores Umbridge is considered a Bad Boss by the rest of the Hogwarts staff (except for Filch).
  • Every Redwall villain ever put to print. Tsarmina being the one who also demonstrates skill at winning other-beasts to her side. Swartt Sixclaw is pretty good at getting followers too. Mostly by killing the leader of an already established group and taking over. Good thing too, since he got his followers killed so often.
    • Averted with the Freebooters, who are the only villains in the series who stick with their boss through loyalty. Even when he's dead.
  • Visser Three from Animorphs once decapitating a subordinate for closing a door too slowly. Visser One is also an example, though nowhere near as bad.
  • Screwtape from The Screwtape Letters is literally the boss from Hell. It's too bad we never get to see the booklet "on the new House of Correction for Incompetent Tempters" that he sends Wormwood at one point, as a motivational tool.
  • SMERSH in the James Bond novels. Seen most prominently in Casino Royale, and probably not too far off from its real-life counterpart.

 "We cannot see the end of the trouble you have caused."

  • In Shanna Swendson's Enchanted Inc., Mimi. Why Katie is so eager to jump on the new job.
  • Carl of the Kitty Norville series. In the first book, he sexually abuses his female packmates- including Kitty- and manipulates them in a power game against his wife Meg. When he returns in the fourth book, he's even worse, dragging his pack into a vampiric civil war and killing underlings out of paranoia. It all backfires on him rather spectacularly: two pack members defect to Kitty's side, four more rat out the entire operation when the police catch them, and the remainder decide enough is enough and tear him to pieces at the end of book four.
  • Grahame Coates of Anansi Boys. His key failings as a boss: he always fires employees before they've been employed long enough to qualify for the severance package, saving him considerable money in having to pay it; the one employee who didn't get this treatment ended up being the patsy for his corporate corruption; and he actively revels in speaking in cliches.
  • In Death: Crime boss Max Ricker from Judgment In Death is very much this. He will kill employees for failing to do their jobs. He smashed an uninvolved robot maid to pieces over a failure of his employees. He wanted to kill a loyal employee, but his lawyer managed to convince him not to - and that he could find another time and place to have that one killed. He is a Complete Monster who is addicted to drugs and has Mood Whiplash that is as disturbing as it comes. It's a wonder that anyone would want to work for this guy!
  • The Grand High Witch from Roald Dahl's The Witches is quite nasty. She'll incinerate you alive if you so much as express any kind of reservation about her plan to wipe out all the children, as one poor Witch learned the hard way. And if you got turned into a mouse yourself, well, tough luck -- you're getting squashed under her heel, regardless of whether you were a child or not.
  • Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, before his reformation, that is. Making this trope Older Than Television.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Rosemary Hershey is Sweet Revenge is very much this. She is in charge of a company that makes architectural plans and blueprints. Her employees probably didn't like her, but they tolerated her. However, she suffers a Villainous Breakdown that spans pretty much the entirety of the book. During her breakdown, she is practically screaming at her employees to come up with some great architectural blueprints now! When she gets some blueprints from them, she starts yelling at them that a 12-year-old could have drawn up these plans! This is interesting, because Rosemary doesn't really have much expertise in drawing up plans. In fact, she had to rely on plagiarizing the plans belonging to her former boss Isabelle Flanders to get to the position she is at now. She becomes so enraged at what she perceives as incompetence on the part of her employees that she fires them. All of them! Yes, that is how bad her breakdown is!


Live Action TV Edit

  • Adelai Niska, a psychotic crimelord introduced in the Firefly episode "The Train Job," makes a point of showing his new hires the beaten, bleeding body of... his nephew. Indeed, after the crew of Serenity renege on their deal with him after learning that the job in question was denying the citizens of Paradiso some much needed medicine and put his Dragon Crow through the ship's engines, Niska takes revenge by capturing Mal and Wash and putting them to the torture in "War Stories," prompting a furious Castle Storm by the rest of the crew to get them back. Of course, many crimelords in all genres and even (gasp) Real Life make a point of being cruel to perceived enemies.
    • He goes on to explain that reputation is nothing is you don't back it up with reality. Basically, he feels that being known as a torturer is not enough to motivate underlings. Being seen as one shows you he's serious.
  • The Master of Doctor Who has a persistent tendency to kill anyone who even remotely qualifies as a henchman. Notable examples include his first appearance in Terror of the Autons where he kills a mildly disobedient henchman with a plastic chair, and "The Sound of Drums" where his first act as Prime Minister is to gas his entire cabinet. The only discernible reason he does this is because he's just that twisted.
  • The insane Emperor Cartagia on Babylon 5, who, among other things, kept the severed heads of advisors who gave "unappreciated" advice, in a room all their own, and killed his court jester for making the wrong joke. Not to mention his plan of ascension to godhood, which involved the destruction of the entire Centauri Homeworld. He was, of course, completely out of his mind.
    • It's worth noting that one of the advisers was killed because he had a "most annoying cough."
    • Only slightly better: Ulkesh, the second Vorlon ambassador, whose treatment of his human aide Lyta included forcing her to throw away all her possessions to "avoid distractions", making no attempt to avoid Mind Raping her when he Body Surfed her, Agony Beam-ing her whenever anything vaguely annoyed him, and Punching Her Across The Room when she attempted to telepathically scan him. The emotional subtext approached Domestic Abuser.
  • Angelus in the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He gets amazing enjoyment out of emotionally torturing Spike despite the fact that the last time we saw him (before he became Angel) the two still got along quite well.
    • The Master was also terrible, probably made worse over being trapped underground and powerless and unable to take his frustration out on anyone but his own servants. He overused You Have Failed Me and snapped at his servants constantly. He mellowed out a bit after everyone except The Anointed One died.
  • Prime Minister Yogoshimacritein in Engine Sentai Go-onger. Not only does he uses the Quirky Miniboss Squad as human shields twice and fires them at our heroes as missiles--or even because he indiscriminately fires in their direction, he also he fires RIGHT THROUGH THEM to hit our heroes.
  • Admiral Helena Cain of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. A sick, twisted bitch, even by Battlestar standards. For instance, her original XO refused to give a near-suicidal order - her response was to shoot him in the head in front of the entire CIC.
    • In the forgettable episode "Black Market", the head of the black market Phelan shoots one of his henchmen in the head simply so that Lee can close his case without uncovering more dirt and disrupting his operation. He does this in plain view of his other henchmen as well.
  • Although she's never outright killed anyone, on 24, Erin Driscoll (the boss of CTU in season ) is by all accounts a horrible, horrible boss. This is a literal example of a "bad boss." She starts out by firing Jack from his job at CTU (even though his actions saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people) because she thought he was a drug user. She then (in the space of 12 hours) fires one of the two halfway competent programmers in the building, makes bad decisions, gets security to taser an innocent employee (then forces her back to work, then fires her for complaining about being illegally detained and tortured), orders Jack to stop his rescue attempt of the Secretary of Defense (which he ignores anyway), tells a grieving man (who just found out his mother is dying) to suck it up and go back to work, and finally ignores her schizophrenic daughter's pleas for help, as Driscoll is keeping her confined in the CTU medical wing. The fact that the Secretary of Defense pulls rank and asks her to leave is a sigh of deep relief.
    • Surprisingly averted by the terrorists. Most terrorist masterminds tend to take the suggestions of their subordinates into consideration, and step back to reevaluate when their subordinates ask them to look at the bigger picture.
  • The Seattle-based sketch comedy Almost Live once did a bit set in an office where the bad-tempered bully of a boss gets promoted, and his replacement is, literally, a box of snakes. Eventually the box gets promoted as well and replaced with the greatest horror of all: a guy who sells Amway.
  • Angus Grier from All Creatures Great and Small is a drunken bully who humiliates his employees for kicks.
  • The Good Guys pilot has a drug lord who insults his bodyguards, pays a flunky who handles million dollar drug deals for him "less than he pays his pool boy" and constantly reminds Pedro that the guy is only the "second best assassin in the world" and has him do gun tricks as entertainment. It is hardly surprising when his men are not very loyal to him.
  • Georg from Icelandic comedy Naeturvaktin is an arrogant, dictatorial bully to his employees, particularly Ólafur. He steals their pay, ignores their complaints, and takes every opportunity to belittle or torment them, often accompanying the abuse with an explanation that it's all somehow for their own good.
  • Red Forman is like this on That 70s Show 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.
  • House has Edward Vogler from the first season. House himself, however, is horrible to work for. Several characters have noted that prolonged employment by--or contact with--Dr. House has a corrupting influence on the soul.
  • Walter Sykes, the Big Bad of Warehouse 13's third season, is this in spades. If you fail him, he'll roll another Xanatos Gambit and arrange to dispose of you. If you succeed, he no longer has any use for you and has you offed anyway. As it happens, it's just another facet of the corruption of the Collodi Bracelet turning him into a Complete Monster.
  • Supernatural's latest Big Bad Leviathan leader Dick Roman really deserves the "Dick" part when it comes to his treatment of his own staff and kind. Off course one wouldn't expect anything else from a species of eternally hungry Eldritch Abomination, but his enjoyment in punishing anyone who displeases him in any way appears to exceed his desire for his kind to conquer the earth and devour humanity. At one point he forces one of his scientists to "bib" and devour himself when his attempts at turning humans docile and apathetic (and thus easier to farm and eat) had a 0.03% chance of other humans becoming rage-filled cannibals, while in another episode he eats an unlucky leviathan who failed to retrieve a package replaced with a borax bomb (the only thing that hurts Leviathans, at least temporarily). Joyce Bicklebee from the episode "Out With The Old", is a smaller example, a Leviathan posing as a real-estate agent whose irritability led her to eating four of her assistant who displeased her and ordering around her latest one like a dog on a leash. It's really no surprise when switches sides by helping the brothers dispose his superior when the opportunity presented itself and giving them information on the Leviathan's intents.


Tabletop Games Edit

  • Commonly invoked in Warhammer 40000 for Imperial Guard leaders. At this point, it is difficult to determine if they are the exceptions or the rules. Most protagonists tend to avoid the trope, but almost always have to deal with other Imperial Guard leaders that do fit the trope.
  • The Computer in Paranoia is not just a bad boss to the entire Alpha Complex, it's an insane paranoid one, and the human-staffed bureaucracy under it reflects this at every turn.
    • This is a traitorous lie spread by mutant commie traitors. The Computer Is Your Friend, citizen. Report immediately to your nearest Termination Booth. Have a nice daycycle!
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The philosophy of the color Black is basically summed up as Power At a Price. It's willing to do anything to win... and sacrificing monsters/it's minions is a common cost to play spells and abilities. Other colors have the sacrifice a creature cost too, but it's less often and their "flavor" changes by color. For Red it's carelessness, for White self sacrifice, and for Green it's natural selection.
    • Nicol Bolas opens up the first chapter of Alara Unbroken by using his magic to melt one of his minions' minds, turning the poor guy into a babbling lunatic.
  • Not uncommon in Dungeons and Dragons adventures, fanfics, etc.; demon generals and other epic - level Always Chaotic Evil types often slaughter their own minions for thrills, sport, or out of frustration. Most of the lower - level Always Chaotic Evil types are Explosive Breeders relative to comparable good aligned races, in order to counter their high mortality rate. In fact, in Planescape the bottom level planar Mooks spontaneously reincarnate.
    • Lawful Evil entities have a high tendency to fall under this trope, but are generally less obvious. Rather than blatantly following through with it, they tend to just place their minions in situations where failure is guaranteed.
  • 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.
  • Used in-universe in the Shadowrun game-setting, in which the top-rated independent TV show is called I Hate My Boss. Given how thoroughly the Mega Corp mindset has taken over society, it's considered an extremely subversive program and airs only on pirate stations.


Video Games Edit

  • Just about every Templar in the Assassins Creed series. The biggest being Cesare Borgia.
  • The Big Bad of Tales of Symphonia, Mithos, or called Yggdrasil by everyone but his companions from the Kharlan War, does this with Pronyma, almost at the end of the game. You engage in a battle with said minion and wound her up pretty bad. Pronyma then begs for help from him. He ignores her plea as he is too excited from reviving his dead sister, Martel. Pronyma then begs again, but this time she calls him Mithos, that makes him ultra mad for some reason and proceeds to kill Pronyma with a ball of mana.
  • Luca Blight from Suikoden II sets the bar for this trope, punishing and/or killing any of his men for so much as hesitating in battle or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, and having no qualms about needlessly sacrificing his own men. An example of his inhumanity is in the beginning of the game, where he, in order to justify starting a bloody war with a neighboring nation, betrays and slaughters his own completely innocent youth brigade. The only regret that he has towards this unbelievably heinous act is that he himself didn't participate in the massacre, in order to practise his swordsmanship, and his men are still willing to sacrifice their lives for him, even when Luca Blight faces utter and complete defeat.
  • Under the same vein as the Joker, Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI would gleefully take the chance to kill any of his own men, just for the sake of amusement. Of course, this wasn't even just limited to his own henchmen. Even being in the same organization as Kefka was a death sentence, as General Leo and Emperor Gestahl discovered, or being on the same planet as he is, thanks to his Omnicidal Tendencies.
  • Both played straight and subverted in Disgaea. Prinnies, in the Netherworld at least, are treated as easily replaceable slaves/cannon fodder that face horrible work conditions for minimum wage (this is how it's supposed to work, though, as Prinnies are usually in Hell for being rat bastards). The subversion is with Kricheveskoy and Laharl; accounts from the vassals, particularly Etna, imply that King Kricheveskoy was actually a very good boss, which is part of the reason why Laharl's Bad Boss tendencies don't to go over very well with them - Well, and because they know that Laharl doesn't really have the heart to do worse than snark at them for it.
    • Etna, on the other hand, has no such issues. She can - and, as any of the Prinny Squad can tell you, WILL - abuse her Prinnies for any reason at all. When her level tanks as a result of a summoning she helped botch, the Prinnies take that as the perfect opportunity to seek new management. Yukimaru even points out how badly they're willing to fight just to stay out from under Etna's heel.
  • If you don't immediately kill every Helghast you come across in Killzone 2, you'll hear from some soldiers about how Colonel Radec executed some of his own men for dress code violations.
    • Somewhat averted by the fact that one of the Higs agrees with him, saying something like "The uniform is the base of every form of discipline."
  • In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, if you kill enough stormtroopers in the level where you play as Darth Vader, you get the achievement Worst Dayshift Manager Ever.
  • Saren in Mass Effect exhibits no concern whatsoever for his friends or allies, to the point of feeding an underling to a sapient, telepathic plant to foster communication. Justified because his ship has mind control powers, but at the end it's revealed he's gotten Hoist by His Own Petard, since the ship itself is sapient, controlling him, and every bit the Bad Boss itself.
    • The Reapers as a whole fit this trope. Look at what they did to The Collectors.
    • Nassana Dantius, who orders the murders of all of her employees out of paranoia. And it's hinted that if anyone leaves her service before their contract is up, she has them murdered as well.
    • Zaeed when he was the Blue Suns commander is perfectly willing to send his comrades to the grinder or sacrifice a lot of civilians because he don't care about anything but himself, Jessie and his paycheck.
  • Dead Rising 2 has Reed and Roger, a pair of magician psychopaths (the game's bosses). Reed berates Roger throughout their intro cutscene, calling him incompetent and blaming him for messing up their "trick" (which involved literally sawing a woman in half, killing her). He also implies that if the pair ever became famous magicians, then he would hog all the glory and leave Roger in the dust. Roger gets his revenge in their death cutscene, where he uses the last of his strength to crawl over to his dying partner and finish the job himself by stabbing him repeatedly with one of his swords. He then rolls over on his back and says "I've always wanted to do that." before dying with a smile on his face.
  • The Apes in The Legend of Spyro worked their butts off as Malefor's army and trying to free him, though only because he was giving them power. How does he reward all their hard work? By turning them into walking skeletons that are cursed to forever remain in the dark.
  • Lieutenant Hootingham-Gore of Dragon Quest IX acts this way in his introductory scene by incinerating the subordinate that was sent to destroy your team but failed to do so.
  • The Metal Gear series has several:
    • Colonel Volgin is known to get high on torture, even more so than Ocelot, who himself (ironically) also hated Volgin's use of torture, despite becoming similar to him in the future. After he captured Snake, it is also implied that he threatened to kill any guards who fail to keep Snake alive before he does a second torture. He overworked the scientists/maintenance staff to complete the Shagohod, and it is also implied that he intended to execute them simply to keep them silent after the tests were completed. After being defeated by Naked Snake, he also ends up taking the Shagohod for a joyride, and... well, long story short, he basically killed/destroyed anyone and anything that was in his way.
    • Raikov, Volgin's second in command, and pretty much the only one that Volgin legitimately cares for, is also no different. Apparently, he used his title of Major to beat up personnel, or crush their joolies. This eventually came back to bite him later on in Portable Ops when the Soviet Military, not liking his abuse of power, shipped him off to a Soviet Missile Base on the San Hieronymo Peninsula, a missile base that just so happens to have been conveniently abandoned by the Soviet Military for Detente along with its personnel, and is later imprisoned, all before Gene and FOX arrived. It's also implied that the only reason why he was even allowed to continue to beat up personnel prior to Operation Snake Eater was because of Volgin's influence. Presumably, the exiling of Raikov had him deeply reconsider his treatment of his soldiers.
    • Gene can use his voice to have his men have an increase in morale. However, he also is just as likely to use his voice to have his own men kill each other, as evidenced by what happened after Gene makes off with the ICBMG.
    • Hot Coldman shoved a paraplegic down the stairs (a paraplegic who also called Coldman out on trying to launch a live nuke from Peace Walker), and was implied to have intended to kill off his own unit, the Peace Sentinels, after the tests are completed. Apparently, he (if not the entirety of the CIA) also pocketed a large percentage of The Boss's sleeper agent's pay. Then we have the whole issue about his setting The Boss up.
  • King K. Rool, who keeps his minions in a constant state of misery, rules through fear, and is perfectly willing to sic Klaptraps on his already overworked engineers to speed things up.
  • Elijah in Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money. Fits his underlings with explosive collars in order to force them to co-operate with him, and each other, then encourages them to kill each other as soon as their role in his plans has ended.
    • Elijah is one of these even back when he was still a Brotherhood of Steel Elder. He almost gets his chapter massacred. However, the Brotherhood does catch on, which is why they sent Christine after him.
    • From the same series, Legate Lanius qualifies. A constant radio report is that, when faced with fixing an underperforming squad, killed the commander, then ordered 9/10ths of the squad to kill the other 1/10th. In all fairness, this is consistent with Roman treatment of their soldiers, but still...
  • Motonari Mori from Sengoku Basara mixes this with The Neidermeyer. Despite calling his troops "children of the sun", he has no compulsion of sending waves of them to their deaths, or even killing them himself, if it furthers his own ambition. A true Jerkass through and through. His victory quote sums it up perfectly:

 "I'll soak the earth with the blood of subordinates. Then I shall hunt down the strays".

  • The Phase Commanders in F.E.A.R. 3 will threaten their subordinates with dismemberment if they disobey orders and try to retreat.
  • In Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X, Flame Mammoth often enjoyed picking on his subordinates in the 4th Land Battalion for being small and weak. This also resulted in Laser-Guided Karma, as it also meant that his subordinates did not follow Flame Mammoth to participate in Sigma's rebellion.
  • Mehrunes Dagon from The Elder Scrolls series is the worst Daedric Prince in this regard. He treats everyone who works for him as pawns to be sacrificed for his amusement when they have outlived their usefulness, though the Daedra under his command, being immortal and all, can take it. Of course, anyone who chooses to worship a deity of Omnicidal Mania probably shouldn't expect any other kind of treatment.
  • Glukkons in the Oddworld games. To cite just one example, Mullock, boss of the Rupture Farms meat factory, runs a spectacularly unsafe factory using mudokens as slave labor, and when the profits from his regular products start to drop, he draws up plans to market mudoken meat.
  • Gru'ul in Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark runs an ice quarry in Cania, the eighth layer of Hell. When one of his imps deliberately jams an ice grinder with his own hand in order to have an excuse to take a break, he orders you to feed the imp through the grinder as punishment for laziness, since imps are 'ten-a-penny'. If you learn the True Name of one of your followers, he'll try and barter knowledge of the True Name away from you, so he can employ your followers as slaves for the rest of eternity.


Web Comics Edit

  • The villain Xykon in Order of the Stick takes this trope to a ridiculous extreme, commenting at one point, "Sacrificing minions... is there any problem it can't solve?" Then again, he's undead, and he can turn dead people into undead zombies who bend to his will. So, for the most part, he can get away with it. To a lesser degree, his Dragon, Redcloak. He even kills his own brother. Redcloak eventually realizes that hobgoblins are goblinoids too, though.
    • To explain the hobgoblin thing, Redcloak acted very much like Xykon in regards to them and was perfectly willing to see them killed for whatever effort, even when there was no need for it. It is rather unfair though to say this trope counts for when he killed his brother since it was to keep Righteye(his brother)from killing Xykon. It was proved pointless soon afterwards, but he had a reasonable, albeit a prideful, reason for killing his brother.
  • Kary from Eight Bit Theater is frequently killing her own minions for her own amusement. When her accountant informed her that she had killed all her minions, she corrects him by pointing out that he's still with her... then sets him on fire.
  • Minions At Work: No layoffs, but "Of course I'm going to have to eat a few people."
  • Hannelore's mother in Questionable Content. Imagine a wealthy New England business woman who runs her international conglomerate like she's Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Complete with firing a minion. Into a volcano.
  • For some Drowtales readers, Zala'ess Vel'Sharen crosses the Moral Event Horizon when she deliberately sends a team of minions (including her own adopted daughter, a new recruit who had saved her daughter's life, and several starving slaves) on a suicide mission just to make another clan look bad.
  • Inquisitor Lord Antonius Schaefer takes a different tack with Bad Boss; he tries to be the consumer model, but he's too incompetent to really pull it off. Basically nothing gets done without his adjutant Riktor Simmons there to do all the thinky-type stuff for him.
  • Girl Genius subverts the trope. Baron Klaus Wulfenbach is built up as being incredibly ruthless, and it's early on implied that if his son Gilgamesh doesn't perform to expectation, he'll be broken down for spare parts (which isn't necessarily metaphorical, given that Frankenstein's monster-like "constructs" aren't exactly uncommon). But while it's true that he's quite ruthless, he kind of has to be, since he's in control of all of Europa, and not all of Europa is happy about this. Further, his punishments are harsh but not unfair, he rewards success quite handsomely, and greatly values loyalty; so much so that he actually punishes a man for conspiring against the man who just tried to kill the Baron.
    • Straighter examples would include--well, many of the people the Baron's conquered, and some he's allowed to operate provided he doesn't have to come over there. Why anyone would work for Prince Aaronev, for example, or his "daughter" Anevka, or any of the Mongfish family, or the Heterodynes before Bill and Barry rather defies explanation beyond "they couldn't run fast enough to get away."
    • Because the Heterodyne actually averted this, they were a terror to everyone else but were good rulers to their own people.
    • Lucrezia in particular as The Other gets away with being a Bad Boss thanks to Mind Control technology sidestepping the whole loyalty thing. Anyone she has indoctrinated will follow her orders to the letter, something she abuses. At one point she ordered a servant to die, and the servant choked on her own tongue.
  • Angelo, from Our Little Adventure. This is a contrast from his husband, Brian.
  • Damien of El Goonish Shive used to beat up Grace and her "brothers" to inspire fear in them when they were under him.
  • According to Subnormality, Bad Bosses tend to cause their underlings to quit, so they're ultimately less harmful than the Benevolent Boss, who can keep you working even if the job itself is soulcrushing.
  • Fawdry from Samurai Princess not only has one, but is one himself.


Web Original Edit

  • Deathlist, the unstoppable supervillain in the Whateley Universe. While he loves his boss Chessmaster (literally, as it turns out), and he treats his Sabretooth minions as if they were his own children (they may be, in some sense), he is perfectly willing to gut anyone else. When the general of the Syndicate warriors irritates him, he tells his second-in-command to make said general a target of opportunity.
  • Whilst not being totally, indiscriminately abusive to his henchman, Danya, Big Bad of Survival of the Fittest, has his moments. He enjoys tormenting Dorian, one of his subordinates, to the point of deliberately giving him tasks (such as taking over the daily announcements) that he can't do/hates, and even assigned his scorpion collection to a student as a weapon. A more severe example was when three of the terrorists screwed up in V1 (they accidentally broadcasted their reading of a Slash Fic across the PA system on the island, and then began loudly insulting him and the entire SOTF act. While he was having dinner with his family.). Danya put them on the island to get killed too. Oh, and had their vocal chords cut out.
  • Anni Hilator, the minion of Coyle Commander, has to PAY to work for him in Coyle Command. And then the Commander regularly beats him up.
  • Meet The Mastermind, possibly the single worst example of a Bad Boss you can experience in five minutes. The guy holds meetings with his flunkies just to have an opportunity to execute the first person who speaks up.
    • Funny thing is he KNOWS he's a Bad Boss. And he uses his immaturity and incompetence to manipulate a difficult minion (and the occasional hero) into doing his bidding.

 French Lackey: I should have called in sick. I don't know why I come to these stupid meetings!

MM: I don't know why I call them. Do you?

FL: Oui, oui, to get someone to answer your stupid question about why you call...the...meetings...oh...

MM: Ah, that sounded like an answer to me! See, this is why I'm the Mastermind, and why you have failed me for the last time!

  • From Professor Brothers the title characters' boss is one of these. Aside from being over-bearing, intimidating, and unforgiving he even pranks them in various mortifying ways.
  • The Chief from Agents of Cracked.
    • "If I don't find out who the most under-rated Care Bears are by three o'clock, the Chief is gonna throw me in a volcano."
  • 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.
  • Reach from What You Are in The Dark? had a certain slender man as his boss for the better part of forty years. As you can guess, the process of becoming one of slendy's servants was a nightmare. No surprise he quit.
  • In Echo Chamber, Tom is this to Zack.

  "If you get in front of the camera, I will stab you, I will actually stab you!"

    • In turn, Mr. Administrator is this to Tom.

  "Your next video will be a work of genius or we will SHUT YOU DOWN!"

  Sursum Ursa: *thunder* Greetings, minions. Welcome to hell. Evil Laughter...Wait, what? What do you MEAN this isn't the Staff Training Video?


Western Animation Edit

  • Craig Tucker from South Park especially in South Park is gay.
  • The Monarch from The Venture Brothers also fits this trope, and manages to look funny while doing it because he's so bad at being a villain. Or so it would seem...
  • Megatron's behavior towards Starscream, and most of the Decepticons from Transformers. However, the former was constantly plotting to overthrow Megatron, so it's hard to blame him... Indeed, considering how openly treacherous Starscream was, Megatron seems amazingly tolerant (or amazingly stupid) just to keep him around without slagging him. And since the Transformers are made of metal, "slagging him" isn't just about insulting Starscream behind his back.
    • Galvatron in the third season is a better Transformers example--he was Axe Crazy and had a tendency to shoot anyone within reach, frequently his loyal second-in-command Cyclonus.
    • Beast Wars Megatron considers all of his troops expendable assets, except for maybe Inferno.
  • Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender in her first appearance threatened to kill the captain of her ship because he said that he wouldn't be able to dock as soon as she wanted because of the tide. She gets even worse after Mai and Ty Lee betray her, after which accidentally leaving the pit in one of her cherries is a banishable offense. And that was her being lenient!
    • To put this into perspective, Zuko's mother, who planned and possibly even carried out the assassination of Fire Lord Azulon (her father-in-law) received the same penalty of exile, possibly since "execution" would be a bad idea to mention in a children's cartoon.
  • General Grievous, as shown in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, frequently exhibits this kind of behaviour. Any of the random battle droids are prone to getting their heads backhanded right off their shoulders when they screw up (which is a lot), and when his smuggler contact Gha Nachkt got a little uppity, he impaled him with a lightsaber. The former is explained in the bonus material as him really hating droids, and as for the latter, well, one should know to be more polite towards a psychotic murderer of billions.
  • As well as the Joker, The Batman's version of Black Mask has a habit of shooting his numerous second-in-commands, or sending them flying into orbit, and appointing a random henchman the post.

 Black Mask: You. You're my new number one.


Real Life Edit

  • The 18th century Pirate Blackbeard (Edward Teach) shot his first mate Israel Hands in the knee under the table at dinner. When asked why, he said "if I did not kill one of you now and then, you would forget who I am."
  • Many Real Life dictators end up like this, and with good reason. It would be very bad for them if one of their subordinates turns out to be Eviler Than Thou, so they frequently come up with excuses to kill anyone who might one day become a threat.
  • In the case of Joseph Stalin however he purged his entire army, and those that didn't get sent to the firing squad usually wound up in a labour camp in Siberia. This cost him a war and very nearly lost him another.
    • Stalin also not only imprisoned and executed some of his most loyal followers but then, after they died, drew naked pictures of them and wrote derogatory or vulgar statements on the pictures.
    • Came back to bite him in the ass eventually. Stalin was up all night drinking with his cronies, and when he went to bed, he left orders not to be disturbed. He had a stroke, and it was almost a day before anybody worked up the nerve to check in on him. By then, it was much too late.
      • Well, that was the official story. Another one involves poison and even after he was found at late evening, his closest advisors still stalled for time until a doctor got to him the next morning. It came at a very convenient time, when many of his advisors felt they would be the next ones to be purged.
    • The aforementioned Warhammer 40000 Comissars were based on OGPU (later NKVD) troops whose main purpose was to eliminate deserters and ensure that the assaults were conducted as planned. Even suicidal ones.
    • Reflected in a grim humor Russian by-word:

 Victim of an undeserved punishment: But why?!

Punisher: Had there been a reason - would've snuffed you to begin with!

    • Another joke involves a new guy in prison:

 Another prisoner: So how much did you get?

New guy: 25 years.

Another prisoner: Wow! What'd you do?

New guy: Nothing, really.

Another prisoner: Liar! You get 15 for nothing.

      • Which was true. People often got sent to prison/gulag even when they refused to confess even under torture.
    • The army was not the only thing Stalin purged. He often purged people whom he dubbed "intellectuals" simply for being smarter than him. He felt anyone who was inevitably plotted against him. Which also came to bite him in the ass when he tried to catch up to the West in terms of technology. It's kinda hard when your best minds are either dead or chopping logs in Siberia. Ever wonder why he felt the need to steal nuclear secrets instead of building his own bomb? Any scientist still working for him usually did it with a sword hanging over them and/or their family. Unfortunately, even then Stalin often ignored ideas and designs that were good and revolutionary instead of cheap tried-and-true ideas.
  • Adolf Hitler was said to have expressed an opinion that if Germany couldn't win WWII, the German people deserved to be destroyed.
    • That had less to do with being a Bad Boss and more to do with consistency - he understood the implications of the "perfect" Aryans failing to win a war. In fact, Hitler was a far more forgiving boss than most dictators - he kept Himmler and Goering around when both proved utterly inept commanders. The British historian Alan Bullock, who wrote Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives pointed out that Stalin had an enormous personal malice in addition to his governmental evil, whilst Hitler was unusually tolerant of his useless subordinates: When asked if he would rather spend a weekend in the country with Stalin or Hitler, Bullock instantly replied: "Hitler - though it would be boring in the extreme, I would have much more chance of leaving alive."
  • The six most horrific bosses of all time, brought to you by cracked.com. Most of them pull some pretty spectacular Karma Houdinis.
  • L Ron Hubbard (who succumbed to madness and drug abuse) and Dave Miscavage of Scientology, whose paranoia began spiraling out of control during the Lisa McPherson case. Many former Scientologists recount tales where he would beat people for real or perceived failures (many of those brought on by cutting staff to the bare bones but still demanding high output), hurl full water bottles near female staff, and allegedly made twelve senior executives play musical chairs for their jobs or be fired on the spot.
    • The last one is actually far more sadistic than it sounds. Normal musical chairs can get pretty edgy if not monitored by a responsible adult - in this case men and women who would lose everything ended up violently fighting each other over the chairs, the 'game' growing more violent as it continued while Miscavage played the music and just watched. Only the winner would keep their job. The losers would be sent to far-off "missions"; married couples would be separated.
  • James Cameron is widely regarded as one. He is frequently described as egotistical and cruel, frequently yelling at people (even at Arnold Schwarzenegger, when he went to the bathroom before shooting a scene from True Lies!), and abusing his crew with anything, from working through meal breaks to spending too much time in water sets (people getting sick during The Abyss and Titanic were common). As early as the first Terminator, shirts written "You can't scare me... I work for James Cameron" were common in his sets (while shooting T2, there was also "Terminator 3? Not with me!"). Titanic star Kate Winslet stated she only works with Cameron again for "a lot of money".
    • On the other hand, he does lead by example - during The Abyss, he was usually first into the big tank and last out, working on script edits as he decompressed (it was that big a tank). During True Lies, he insisted on doing the camera work shooting Jamie Lee Curtis dangling from the helicopter personally, under the principle that he's not going to theoretically endanger his lead while he sat safely on the ground. The camera work in question involved being harnessed up so he could lean out an open 'copter door with said heavy camera on his shoulder dozens of feet above the Florida Keys.
  • Roman Emperors who became a Bad Boss to their Praetorian Guard tended to not live for very long. Caligula was a Complete Monster but what finally did him in was deciding it would be fun to rape the wife of one of his bodyguards and insult others. Soon enough he ended up with sharp blades in his back.
  • Chairman Mao Zedong, who was utterly ruthless against any Chinese Communist Party official he felt might upstage him or harm his legacy after death. Liu Shaoqi was imprisoned, denied medical treatment for an illness, and died in a jail cell covered in his own vomit and diarrhea; Lin Biao and most of his family died in a plane crash while fleeing a purge; Zhou Enlai, who had served Mao faithfully as premier for decades, died of untreated bladder cancer. Why was it untreated? Because Mao not only forbade the doctors to treat the cancer, he forbade them from telling Zhou he even HAD cancer. Little wonder that the Gang of Four, who were close to Mao, were all in jail within a month of his death.
  • Pol Pot's solution when he considered there were to many people for his regime to maintain. "To keep you is to no benefit, to destroy you is to no loss".

Notes

  1. The "tryouts," in case anyone is wondering, is heavily implied to be having the recruitees fight each other with broken pool sticks to the death, pool sticks broken by the Joker's knee.

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