We've all had a boss or were a boss at some point in our lives. Some we love, some we hate but we remember them all.
In compiling this list, there were so many great options that we had to find a way to narrow them down. Thus, some qualifications were created --
The character had to be primarily known as a boss;
Considerable time had to have been spent at their place of employment; and
They had to exercise control over more than a few people who actually meant something to the show.
Remember, this list is just one person's perspective. There will be at least one boss that you love or hate that was not mentioned so please let us know in the comments!
For now, sit back, relax and enjoy 17 of the most memorable bosses in TV history!
Michael Scott, The Office
As regional manager of Dundin Mifflin Paper Company, Michael just wants is to be loved and accepted (“Do I want to be feared or loved? Easy. Both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”) Still, he constantly makes his employees uncomfortable with jokes that are rarely funny and interrupts their work with pointless meetings and ridiculous ideas. Michael tries so hard to be cool but instead comes off as clueless and insensitive. Nonetheless, this big goof eventually wins over the office with his even bigger heart.
Montgomery Burns, The Simpsons
Mr. Burns is the richest man in Springfield and yet, he wants more money. Motivated by this greed, he runs the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and uses his power and wealth to do whatever he wants. Mr. Burns is unconcerned with the safety and well-being of his employees and frequently forgets their names, particularly Homer's.
Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation
Leslie may only be the Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation department but its clear she runs the show. Leslie motivates her less than enthused colleagues, constantly strives to better the lives of the people of Pawnee and still has time to be an awesome friend. Plus, she always keeps her priorities straight: “We need to remember what’s important in life – friends, waffles and work or waffles, friends and work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.”
Don Draper, Mad Men
Some may argue Roger Sterling is the boss that should be celebrated but the series focused more on Don and love him or hate him he was very memorable. He was also an alcoholic and a womanizer. Tough and demanding, this talented advertising executive might also steal your ideas and pass them off as his own.
Sam Malone, Cheers
A former relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Sam was the owner and bartender of Cheers. Like Don, he’s a womanizer and an alcoholic but unlike Don, everyone still loved him. This easy-going character was the nucleus of the show and that’s saying something considering how beloved the bar and its peculiar regulars were. In a 2015 nationwide survey Sam was ranked as the TV boss people would most like to work for.
Frank Underwood, House of Cards
You do NOT want to get in the way of this boss. Frank is callous and endlessly manipulative and used these traits to work his way to the Presidency. His devious plans often hurt others and have even resulted in murder. Though he is deeply devoted to his wife Claire, even she can’t always avoid the consequences of his conniving tactics. He is insanely driven and will do whatever it takes to gain power.
Tony Soprano, The Sopranos
Tony is the head of the DiMeo crime family operating under the guise of a waste management consultant. Although he cares for his own family he does everything you would expect a successful mob boss to do, including murdering those who oppose him, collecting handsome amounts of illicit cash and engaging in numerous extramarital affairs.
Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
As head writer for the The Girlie Show Liz is responsible for managing multiple strong personalities and keeping everyone focused enough to put together a TV show every week. She truly cares about the show – which she dreamt up with her childhood friend – and the people around her. She was geeky, down-to-earth, and one of the most relatable female characters ever on TV.
Dr. Perry Cox, Scrubs
Some may argue Bob Kelso should be here, but Cox played a larger role and in my opinion was more memorable. Sure, he was annoying at times and constantly insulted and harassed J.D., Turk and Elliot but he had some sweet moments as well, particularly with his on-again-off-again ex-wife, Jordan. He will forever be remembered for his sarcastic wit and long winded rants.
Dr. Richard Webber, Grey's Anatomy
Webber will always be “Chief” to Grey’s fans. Supportive and funny, the former Chief of Surgery can still lay down the law when he needs to. He always tries to do the right thing and often acts as a surrogate father (in some cases an actual father) to the doctors. Plus he’s constantly surprising us whether it be joining Arizona for Lesbian Trivia nights or offering to be Bailey’s gossip cop around the hospital.
Quinn King, UnREAL
Quinn is a badass executive producer that nobody should ever want to work for. She lies, schemes, and manipulates all in the name of success and better ratings. Need tears? Tell someone their parent died. Need a catfight? Pit two contestants against each other. She’s confident and aggressive in front of her crew but on her own, vulnerable and lonesome. Her relationship with Rachel, albeit twisted and manipulative, is the closest thing she has to love and family.
Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation
It’s unusual to see a government worker that hates the government but Ron is exactly that – a Parks and Recreation Director who prefers lazy employees. “I like Tom. He doesn’t do a lot of work around here. He shows zero initiative. He’s not a team player. He’s never wanted to go that extra mile. Tom is exactly what I’m looking for in a government employee." Though he hates his job and tries to thwart progress at every turn, he has a great relationship with his colleagues, especially April and Leslie.
Annalise Keating, How To Get Away With Murder
At first glance, Annalise is a confident, intelligent, accomplished, attorney and law school professor. On top of her class, which she lovingly refers to as “How to get away with murder," she runs a law firm that employs students from her class. Eventually we learn all is not right with Annalise. She’s been broken by a dark past which includes an absent father, a lost child, an adulterous husband and an accidental murder.
Loretha "Cookie" Lyon, Empire
Cookie hasn’t always been a traditional boss but it’s almost impossible not to include her since she is a boss in so many other ways. Cookie helped build “Empire Entertainment” with her ex-husband and now officially holds the title of co-CEO and head of A&R. She is incredibly savvy, particularly within the music industry, and is fearless when it comes to going after what she wants.
Gil Grissom, C.S.I.
Gil was the nerdy kid everyone made fun of in grade school except he didn’t care because he was too busy with bugs and science to notice. Grissom leads the graveyard shift of the Las Vegas Crime Scene Investigation unit. He’s intelligent but odd, witty but reserved. He loves his job because as he frequently reminds us, “the dead can’t speak for themselves.”
Olivia Pope, Scandal
Olivia is an attorney specializing in crisis management. She runs her own firm and employs other individuals who have become like family. Liv is fiercely protective of the people she loves which is surprising considering her parents. She was born to a terrorist and the leader (or “Command”) of B613, a high level, top secret, government agency responsible for making people disappear. Intelligent and fast on her feet, Olivia used to have strict morals but they have become quite murky over the course of the series.
Dr. Gregory House, House
Brilliant and sarcastic; witty but often rude. House is an amazing doctor with a horrible bedside manner and an addiction to Vicoden. The Vicoden is to manage the pain from a leg injury that now forces him to walk with a cane. House loves to diagnose diseases but hates to talk to patients and he’s not a huge fan of people since he believes “everyone lies.” Although, he admitted he was lying when he said it.