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Who is TV’s worst boss?


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The world’s worst TV boss according to this study was Don Draper (Mad Men), with a score of 1,134

Michael Scott (The US Office) and David Brent (The UK Office) are among TV’s worst bosses, ranking in third and fourth place!

Ron Swanson (Parks and Recreation) received just 104 points and was additionally voted as the boss people would most like to work for

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There are a lot of cliché phrases surrounding work – ‘teamwork makes the dream work’, and ‘it’s not where you work it’s who you work with’ to name a few. And your boss is a contributing factor to keeping up morale in the workplace.

No matter if it is real life or fictional, it’s no secret that bosses have done horrible things, including insulting employees and overworking them, and sometimes worse.

With this in mind, – who are no strangers to workplace ethics – were interested in ascertaining which fictional TV boss would nab the title of the world’s worst boss.

To crown the world’s worst boss, Savoy Stewart took 10 well known horrible bosses and created a points’ scoring system according to some of the worst actions that they exhibited over the first five episodes that they were featured in*.

Some of the influencing factors for awarded points include: the number of times bosses overworked employees, the number of times bosses insulted employees, and the number of times bosses engaged in inappropriate workplace behaviour.

The Results:

With a whopping 1,134 points, Mad Men’s Don Draper is crowned as the world’s worst boss! Draper’s score is nearly 11x that of the boss in last place (Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation)! This overwhelming score is largely attributed to 88 different instances of insulting employees, and an equal number of inappropriate jokes.

TV Exec Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock takes second place, trailing behind by only 160 points – making his score an incredible 974! The biggest contributor to Donaghy’s score was a count of 42 inappropriate jokes.

It was a close race between Office bosses Michael Scott and David Brent, with just one point separating them. Placing third and fourth, respectively, Scott scored 344 points whilst Brent was just shy of a tie with 343 points. Scott shocked audiences the most with 19 counts of inappropriate language, whilst Brent exhibited 18 counts of inappropriate sexual conduct.

In fifth place is reported golden child Douglas Reynholm from The IT Crowd, with 290 points – a score due, in part, to his attempted drugging of employee Jen.

Scoring just below 200 points at 198 is Ugly Betty’s Wilhelmina Slater, making her sixth on this list. Ms Slater insulted staff 23 times during the first five episodes she appeared in.

Charles Montgomery Burns, head of Springfield’s Nuclear Power Plant in The Simpsons, came up seventh in this index with 136 points, with nine instances of insulting employees. Not too below Mr Burns is Dr Bob Kelso, Scrubs, with 123 points – making him eighth place, and six counts of threatening employees, as well as insulting staff.

By overworking his grill cook eight times and caring more about money than popularity, Eugene H. Krabs from SpongeBob SquarePants is in ninth place with a score of 116.

In last place is Pawnee’s Parks and Recreation departments head Ron Swanson with just 104 points – which is a pretty a-okay score in context! Swanson insulted employees seven times, but that’s as bad as his behaviour got.

Which boss would people work for?

In addition, Savoy Stewart surveyed 1,258 people to find out which of the above fictional bosses they’d most and least like to work for.

Ron Swanson is the boss that people would most like to work for, having secured 42% of the votes in this poll. Couple this with his incredibly low score, and it appears that a laissez-faire attitude towards being a boss is the way forward.

The boss that people would least like to work for is Mr Burns with 35% of the votes. It seems characters with higher scores than Mr Burns might have had some redeeming character arcs that made them worth working for in the long run!



  1. 10 fictional TV bosses were selected from pre-made lists by TheWhisp, Coburg Banks, Silicon Republic, and Social Talent of known horrible on-screen bosses. The actions performed by these bosses were allocated a score based on how horrible Savoy Stewart deemed the acts to be, and these scores were then used to calculate an overall ‘terrible boss’ score for these bosses. This score was used to produce an index of the worst bosses. 
  2. These scores were calculated over the watching of five episodes of each show. The show episodes were selected by searching for the first five episodes in which the fictional bosses appear.
  3. The points system was as follows:
    1. Bragging about themselves or their work (+1)
    2. Disrupting the workday (+2)
    3. Overworking employees (+3)
    4. Insulting employees (+4)
    5. Withholding pay (+5)
    6. Gaslighting employees (+6)
    7. Threatening employees (+7)
    8. Inappropriate joke (examples: racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia) (+8)
    9. Inappropriate language or behaviour (examples: racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia) (+9)
    10. Assaulting staff or otherwise causing bodily harm (+10)
    11. Inappropriate sexual language or behaviour (example, propositioning staff) (+11)
    12. Drugging or placing drugs on employees (+12)

Savoy Stewart also surveyed 1,258 people to find out which fictional boss out of the list people would most like to work and least like to work for.

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