Mean Boss

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The Mean Boss is related to the Stupid Boss and Pointy-Haired Boss, possibly edging into Bad Boss territory at times. He's certainly given the higher-ups every reason to have confidence in him. He's competent, knows what he's doing, and keeps his workers motivated. It's the way that he keeps them motivated that's the problem. He'll yell at you for being a minute late, give you mountains of work the night before it's due, have a heart attack any time you even suggest that you might deserve a raise for all your hard work, and nearly rip your head off at the drop of a hat. He may be a money-grubber, egocentric, or just plain ornery. Very often played for laughs. Dr. Jerk may be a subtrope of this.

Examples of Mean Boss include:


Comic Books


  • Butterflies, Flowers: Director Domoto. Not mean so much, but tyrannical, dictatorial, and demanding. Also way hot and the Love Interest.
  • Extreme example: Darth Vader.
    • Vader implies that Emperor Palpatine is a far worse boss than himself, and Palpatine pretty much confirms Vader's statements in the expanded universe.
  • Need we mention the cube farm boss lady from Wanted?
  • Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. He always makes people work on weekends and continuously orders Milton to move his desk to increasingly absurd locations (ending in the roach-infested basement). Plus he took Milton's favorite stapler...again (which is one of the reasons why he set the building on fire).
  • Philbin in Phantom of the Paradise. The musicians that work for him are motivated through a combination of casual threats and Speed, and as far as Philbin's concerned, they're all more than replacable. Plus, he doesn't take rejection by his Ingenues well- hence his conversation with Swan, the real villain of the story.
  • Marty Wolff of Big Fat Liar is a complete Jerkass to everyone around him, but he gets his just desserts.
    • Les Grossman from Tropic Thunder is probably even worse than Marty Wolff.
  • Tyrannical Channel 8 Owner & General Manager R. J. Fletcher in UHF.
  • In Horrible Bosses the three titular bosses take meanness to a new level
    • The Psycho boss denies Nick a promised promotion and tells everyone it is because Nick drinks at work. The only reason Nick had a drink is because the boss forced him to have one.
    • The Maneater boss regularly sexually harasses Dale. When he rejects her advances, she drugs him and takes sexually explicit photos of him to blackmail him with.
    • The Tool boss has Kurt fire all the overweight and unattractive people and then moves on to the handicapped.
  • Mr. Sykes
  • King Malbert


  • Julius Root of Artemis Fowl is this with a dash of sexism thrown in in the beginning. He gets better.
    • Root is not sexist. He just wants the first female recon officer to be a good one. And after what happened at Hamburg, Holly isn't exactly the best choice

Live Action TV

  • Ryan Chappelle from 24
  • Mr. Pitt from Seinfeld.
  • Dr. Kelso from Scrubs is a prime example. In fact, he pretty much stated outright why he is such a Mean Boss (its how he keeps the entire hospital staff unified and peaceful, even if they hate his guts).
  • Dr. House from House, M.D.: in Season 4, he fires people for not being hot enough! at one point. Not to mention the variety of illegal, immoral, demeaning, and humiliating things he orders his staff to do, often just to satisfy his ego by reminding himself that he can.
  • Mr. Wick from The Drew Carey Show, who took great glee in coming up with new ways to fire people.
  • Dr. Bykov from the Russian sitcom The Interns.

Newspaper Comics

  • Catbert, the Evil Human Resources Director of Dilbert lives up to that title. He even controls the trope-naming Pointy-Haired Boss to some extent to make everyone else's lives miserable.
  • J.C. Dithers of Blondie is quite possibly the Ur-example. Of course, despite the fact that he fires Dagwood on a regular basis, he always hires him back for some strange reason.
  • Mr. Pembrook of FoxTrot is quite possibly definitely an egocentric type - he once fired a massive amount of workers and then gave himself a $300,000 raise, and in another strip he sent out a memo ordering the employees to make themselves look bad in the company photo so he'd look better by comparison, he also implies in the same strip that he didn't send Roger the memo and that he wants Roger at his side specifically because Roger already meets the required directions without knowing it.
  • Stuart in comic strip Retail is a combination of this and Pointy-Haired Boss. Takes pride in the fact that most employees hate him.
    • The initial district manager, Jerry, really fit the part as the jerk boss, leading Marla to comment that he was a "mean spirited jerk" (which Jerry unfortunately overheard). In the blog of the strip's character Cooper (, he described Jerry as a "douchebag." In Jerry's last appearance in the strip it was revealed that he misremembered Marla's name on purpose.
  • In one Peanuts arc, Peppermint Patty and Marcie got jobs as golf caddies, and had to deal with the Caddie Master, a mean kid whose first reaction to them was, "Hey, you guys are girls!" However, as mean as he was, he didn't count on Patty being meaner...

Web Comics

Western Animation