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Worst TV Bosses

Television | By Joe for The Top 13 on May 4, 2010

Almost everyone has dealt with a boss that nearly drove him or her over the edge. It might be because the boss is a micromanager or incompetent or off-color or, worse, heartless (or all of the above). But, odds are, your worst boss has nothing on some of television's worst tyrants, who subject their employees to some of the most insufferable behavior, conditions, and mind games imaginable. With that in mind, here are the Top 13 Worst TV Bosses.

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J.R. Ewing

1

J.R. Ewing

Dallas

It's hard to imagine a worse boss than John Ross Ewing, Jr. J.R. lied, cheated, stole, harassed, blackmailed, and tortured his family in a manner that makes Othello's Iago look like Mother Theresa. After a stint in Vietnam, J.R. joined Ewing Oil and soon was running the family business like a regular Machiavelli. He mortgaged the family home to fund an oil project, started international incidents to improve business, and slept with the widow of a former partner he drove to suicide. Of course, payback's a bitch, and he eventually got shot in one of the greatest TV cliffhangers of all time.

Montgomery Burns

2

Montgomery Burns

The Simpsons

As the evil owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, Montgomery Burns might be the villain that best reflects corporate America. He doesn't remember his employees' names and cares so little about them that he has Homer Simpson keeping an eye on things. And with a net worth of $996 million, he basically can do as he pleases. Burns grew up completely spoiled, even amusing himself as a child by torturing immigrant laborers. Writers on The Simpsons, of course, have played up just how unconscionable Burns can be, comparing him in various episodes to notorious historical and fictional bosses like Charles Kane, Howard Hughes, and J.R. Ewing.

David Brent

3

David Brent

The Office

Working for this guy is bad enough, but he also makes it impossible to get anything done by constantly trying to be funny and a buddy to all of his employees. Though Mr. Brent has blamed the documentary crew for making him look like "the boss from hell," he truly has few redeeming qualities. Indeed, he once got offered a promotion that would lead to much of his workforce being laid off, and he gloated about it as a "silver lining," not understanding why his employees were upset.

Cosmo Spacely

4

Cosmo Spacely

The Jetsons

The last animated character brought to life by legendary voice actor Mel Blanc, Mr. Spacely is the second of three awful animated bosses on this Top 13. Harassed at home by his shrew of wife, Starla Spacely, Cosmo Spacely spends his days relentlessly competing with Henry Cogswell. And the target of all his frustration is George Jetson, who appears to be one of his only employees, yet is routinely fired by Mr. Spacely. Perhaps there's no civil litigation in the future because no boss could treat an employee like Spacely did Jetson without getting sued.

Louie De Palma

5

Louie De Palma

Taxi

As head dispatcher of the Sunshine Cab Company, Danny DeVito played one of the greatest television characters of all time. De Palma spent his days holed up in his cage, tormenting a host of taxi drivers, including characters played by Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza, and Marilu Henner. Morally bankrupt, De Palma constantly embezzled from the company, and harassed and took advantage of any woman he could. In fact, he's probably the stereotypical bad example of a New Yorker.

Larry Tate

6

Larry Tate

Bewitched

Before there was Mad Men and the Sterling Cooper advertising agency, there was Bewitched and the McMann and Tate agency. But Larry Tate, the boss of the latter, was no Roger Sterling. Tate was profit-obsessed, spineless, and cheap. And he'd do whatever it took to keep an account, even if that meant treating every employee like a doormat. What is more, he was frequently bailed out only after Samantha Stevens cast a spell on his behalf.

The Monarch

7

The Monarch

The Venture Bros.

The third and final animated boss on this list, The Monarch is a trust fund orphan raised by butterflies, who relentlessly pursues the demise of his arch-nemesis, Dr. Venture, with often disastrous (and hilarious) results for his employees. Chances are, being one of The Monarch's henchman means certain death, and typically at his hands. Indeed, his henchmen hate him enough to have published a scandalous biography "filled with lies and pictures of also-lies," which all were really true.

Patty Hewes

8

Patty Hewes

Damages

Glenn Close won an Emmy for her portrayal of Hewes on this brilliant FX show about lawyers at their worst. As a court appointed trustee in an Enron like setting, her goal of tracking down assets scammed from investors in a huge corporate fraud puts everyone who works for her at risk - of death. Hewes makes life a living hell for those working around her and she'll stop at nothing to get what she wants, easily eclipsing the typical caricature of an attorney willing to do anything to win.

Robert Kelso, MD

9

Robert Kelso, MD

Scrubs

As anyone who's been a medical resident will tell you, having a chief of medicine to torture you mentally, exhaust you physically, insult your intelligence, and undermine your existence is just part of the process of becoming a doctor. But Sacred Heart's former chief of medicine, Dr. Kelso, went even farther on the slap-stick farce Scrubs, regularly testing his residents' limits with a steady dose of heartless cruelty, not to mention a seemingly unhealthy focus on the hospital's bottom line.

Al Swearengen

10

Al Swearengen

Deadwood

We generally choose not to use most of the words that Ian McShane's Al Swearengen might have used to describe himself or others in the town of Deadwood. Let's just say that he puts the "swear" in Swearengen, the murderous sometimes-villain of this 1870s South Dakota town. A notorious and brutal pimp, his employees rarely fared well carrying out his dangerous plots to swindle his way to control of the town. Given the precarious positions in which he often placed his employees, it's too bad Swearengen didn't offer health insurance.

Wilhelmina Slater

11

Wilhelmina Slater

Ugly Betty

One of the most popular TV villains in recent memory, Wilhelmina Slater wasn't just your typical diva who destroys anyone who may threaten her. Indeed, this conceited former model - believably played by Vanessa Williams - scammed and slept her way to the top as creative director of MODE magazine. And, even worse, she kept a secret list of those she couldn't wait to fire. Her soap-opera antics no doubt made for entertaining viewing, but also for a horrific work environment.

George Bluth, Sr.

12

George Bluth, Sr.

Arrested Development

We got our first glimpse of the Bluth family just as George Sr. was being arrested for securities fraud and possible "light treason." Nevertheless, we can quickly surmise that the patriarch of the Bluth family was one heck of a lousy boss. Among other malfeasance, the dictatorial elder Bluth founded and ran a company that built mini-mansions of the worst quality and he engaged in business dealings with Saddam Hussein. In retrospect, Bluth was a perfect example of the greed and unethical behavior that became routine in corporate Ameica in the early 2000s.

Jimmy James

13

Jimmy James

NewsRadio

James seemed like a cross between Ted Turner, Warren Buffett, and Gomer Pyle. A classic micromanager, it's hard to figure out how anything gets done around him, not to mention how he ever became a billionaire. Effortlessly played by Stephen Root, this boss was as eccentric as they come, and was constantly hinting at covert knowledge of high-level government conspiracies. Despite his eccentricities and micromanaging, James might have been the most well-liked boss on this Top 13.

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Comments Leave a comment

blix 

Louie DePalma FTWMFW

7:54 AM   May 04, 2010

designthatrocks 

Great list.....I would add Miles from thirtysomething....that dude was vicious!

8:24 AM   May 04, 2010

PulpAffliction ★★

I need new Venture Bros. episodes so bad....

9:42 AM   May 04, 2010

ajay ★★

Kelso was a pretty good guy. He just acted like a dick all the time.

9:50 AM   May 04, 2010

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