The Most Memorable TV and Movie Bosses

Everyone wants to be the boss. Though there are shining examples, for the most part, movies and television provide few role models. For every mentor or caretaker, there are scores more who only see you as a dismissible cog there to spin the wheels toward their own success, which might be acutely realistic. With that ratio in mind, here are the most memorable bosses from the big and small screens.

C. Montgomery Burns, “The Simpsons”­­­­­­
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He’s frail enough to lose a tug of war to a baby and slow enough to be shot by one. Nuclear power plant owner and Homer Simpson’s boss, Mr. Burns, is not only the epitome of evil but also about as old as that concept. Just for fun, he would crush the merry townspeople of Springfield in the palm of his hand if it wouldn’t break every brittle bone in his body. Bane to union members, environmentalists, greyhounds, and just about every other living thing (save for his loyal assistant and sexual admirer, Mr. Smithers), Monty does have a large place in his hollow heart for greenery – specifically money, nuclear waste and more money. (Photo credit: 20th Century Fox/Photofest)

Miranda Priestley, “The Devil Wears Prada”
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She may not wield magic, but Miranda Priestley may be as evil as the evilest Disney villain. And though her fashion sense does not include Dalmatian fur, it has put her at the top of her field with the authority to terrorize not only every employee working for her illustrious Runway magazine, but perhaps the world at large. What make this ice queen from “The Devil Wears Prada” extra frightening is that she doesn’t even raise her voice to transmit her rage. Her glare and her power is all she needs to bring the well-heeled glitterati to its knees. (Photo credit: 20th Century Fox/Photofest)

Charlie Townsend, “Charlie’s Angels”
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We assume that the best kind of boss is one whom you never see. The three lovely private investigators of “Charlie’s Angels” have such a set up, taking their orders via intercom, but never holding meetings with the agency’s owner in person. They do all the heavy lifting, putting themselves in harm’s way, whether it be getting shot at, bound and gagged by nefarious henchman, pursued by speeding cars or going undercover in the clink and rousing an overwatchful eye of an overly matronly warden. And when the case gets solved – and it always does – Charlie celebrates the heaviest in some glamorous locale, often with a full glass of wine or champagne in one hand and another seductive babe in the other. (Photo credit: Columbia Pictures/Photofest)

Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S., “Horrible Bosses”
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If we had a choice between being molested in the dentist’s chair by “Seinfeld’s” Tim Whatley or “Horrible Bosses'” Julia Harris, Harris wins by a landslide. And the fact that she might constantly want to have sex with us as her employee is definitely reason to consider a career as a dental assistant. That and all the free floss that’s bound to come our way. But in “Bosses,” her assistant Dale despises this unwanted attention, particularly her threats to lie to his fiancée that they did it if they don’t, and consequently wants her killed. We won’t spoil the outcome, though the cast list and movie posters for the sequel may have already. We’ll just respect her gumption, appreciate the outrageousness she brings to the movie and the table-turning door she’s now opened for one to finally get to say to the dentist themselves, “Now spit.” (Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/Photofest)

Jack Donaghy, “30 Rock”
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Jack Donaghy could have been a secret agent. He’s suave, liquor-loving, and ready to vanquish any foe – even his own boss’s teenage granddaughter who had her sights on the same network presidential perch as he. Instead he became a television executive, Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Programming to be exact, with the naked aforementioned ambition to ascend to the highest rank. But cutthroat tyrant is just one of many sides to “30 Rock’s” Donaghy. His innate desire to mentor his subordinates, culling from his vast and impressive life and professional experience, shows a true caring heart, especially for a die-hard conservative. When it comes to helping employees solve their problems, Donaghy really gets down in the mud in them, all the while keeping his collar impeccably white. (Photo credit: NBC/Photofest)

Buddy Ackerman, “Swimming with Sharks”
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Despite his name, Buddy Ackerman is no one’s friend. Before he too played a “Horrible Boss,” Kevin Spacey played a horrible boss in the movie studio set “Swimming with Sharks.” Tantrums, threats, insults, and thrown objects are always on the day’s agenda for his beleaguered assistant until, like our previous movie – which followed almost two decades later – the underling seeks revenge. An only-in-the-movies twist follows this industry-skewering black comedy, giving its Hollywood tale an unpredictable and unsettling un-Hollywood ending. (Photo credit: Trimark/Photofest)

Louie De Palma, “Taxi”
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Considering his explosive temper, vindictiveness, and crass behavior, it’s no wonder Louie De Palma is kept in a cage. Yet as the dispatcher for “Taxi’s” Sunshine Cab Company, the dark clouds he hilariously brings to his cabbies’ professional and somehow private lives extend beyond the confines of his chain link booth. A supervisor of very small stature, he might have out-villained the Wicked Witch of the East in Munchkinland had she not already succumbed to a freefalling house. Louie wears his disdain and disrespect for his employees right on his sleeve, which juts out from the vest of his cheap suit. However, there is a soft spot there somewhere in that spot of a man and he is no doubt a welcome part of “Taxi’s” work family, as unwelcoming as he tends to be. (Photo credit: ABC/Photofest)

Franklin Hart, Jr., “9 to 5”
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In movies, sexist, egotistical, lying hypocritical bigots go very far. The ’80s best example is Franklin Hart, Jr. in “9 to 5,” another boss on this list, but not the last, to incite revenge from his subordinates. His treatment of the women at his company – whether it be passing them up for deserved promotions, finding ways to peer down their blouses, firing them for minor infractions – brings them to fantasizing about his demise. But after some comic circumstances, those fantasies unexpectedly morph into reality, leading him to be shot at, hog tied, and imprisoned in his own home – a fair comeuppance indeed. (Photo credit: Virginmedia)

Michael Scott, “The Office”
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They say you can’t trust a man with two first names. Whether you can trust Michael Scott or not is a conundrum. When it comes to loyalty, nobody beats him. He would likely take a bullet for you, albeit probably in the order of how good-looking you were (except for Toby, who would likely just get shot). Yet when it comes to keeping you on a professional track, or even safe at work, that’s not his strong suit. But even though the supreme leader of “The Office’s” office may be childish, jealous, insecure, harebrained, inappropriate, attention-starved, tactless, tasteless, and mostly incompetent, he can sell paper like nobody else and doggedly tries to make all his of coworkers his friend (except, again, for Toby). Would we actually admit that his World’s Best Boss coffee mug is well-deserved? That might be hard. (That’s what she said.) (Photo credit: NBC/Photofest)

Bill Lumbergh, “Office Space”
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The Picasso of passive-aggressiveness, Bill Lumbergh doesn’t need to resort to anger or confrontation to make his subordinates miserable. The sound of his voice alone is like nails on a chalkboard. A major practitioner of micromanagement, this “Office Space” Division Vice President can make any cubicle seem like a prison with his frequent monotonal demands for the completion of unreasonably deadlined tasks. His suspenders alone can crush your soul. The only thing his supervision motivates is his employees’ desire for revenge. Be it subtle embezzlement or fiery explosions. There is, in fact, one thing Bill Lumbergh excels at – making the word “great” sound so god-awful. (Photo credit: 20th Century Fox/Photofest)