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Build Your Career Office Life

7 Fictional TV Bosses We Wish Were Real

7 Fictional TV Bosses We Wish Were Real
Credit: s_bukley/Shutterstock

If you could work for any fictional TV character, who would it be?

The best TV shows are relatable to viewers, and that means that a lot of our favorite series cover things like dating, going to school and pursuing a career. Television has seen many interesting work environments, from the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to the Dragonfly Inn in Stars Hollow, Connecticut. And with each unique business, there comes an even more interesting boss. Some of these characters have been boring, and others, downright mean, but among the many fictional leaders who have graced our TV screens, there are a special few we wish existed beyond just the pages of scripts.

From Leslie Knope to Michael Bluth, here are the seven TV bosses we would love to work for.

Leslie Knope may have been second in command in the Pawnee, Indiana, Department of Parks and Recreation, but when it comes right down to it, Leslie's the waffle-obsessed city councilwoman we'd all want to work for. While her boss, the mustachioed, government-hating and whiskey-loving Ron Swanson, was a good leader in his own way, Leslie just had the kind of dedication and compassion that every great boss needs and every employee deserves.

Though her persistent nature can get annoying at times — her employee, Donna, famously called her out on this on Twitter in one episode — Leslie Knope is the queen of giving gifts and unique compliments, sees the best in people and really knows how to motivate a crowd. When Leslie sets her mind to something, whether it's filling in a dangerous pit in town or running for city council, she will do anything to make it happen, and her friends and employees are always happy to lend a hand. Plus, Leslie is all about empowering others to be their best selves and do their best work, and at the end of the day, that's the most valuable quality a boss can have.

Michael Scott didn't always have it together, was overly excitable and sometimes he had no idea what was going on or how to handle professional situations. He wasn't exactly known for his political correctness, and he often made off-color remarks that didn't sit well with his friends and employees. However, most of Michael's remarks and actions were well-intentioned, and nobody cared more about the well-being and future of the employees at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. than he did. He always defended the company's mission and his employees, and when company cutbacks forced him to let some workers go, he had an incredibly difficult time making a decision. Michael treated his employees like friends and always knew how to make going to work fun (even if it meant not getting that much actual work done, which we don't recommend).  

Michael did have one major leadership flaw, and that's that he didn't get along with his branch's HR manager, Toby. Even though he had his employees' best interests in mind, Michael didn't think that HR was important, which professionals know is not true. If you want to be a great boss, incorporate all of the wonderful qualities Michael Scott has to offer, but learn from his mistakes as well. And if you ever want to throw a great office party for any occasion, just look to him for inspiration. [Are You a Good Boss or a Bad Boss? Here's How to Tell ]

Sure, Bob's employees are his wife and kids (and the occasional intern or ex-con), but that doesn't make him any less of a boss. In fact, Bob may be an even better boss because of it. He's sarcastic and sometimes a little selfish, but Bob is also a thoughtful, caring father and husband who runs his business while spending quality time with his wife, Linda, and educating and bonding with his children, Tina, Gene and Louise. While his restaurant is a priority, he knows his family always comes first. That's great, because that means if we worked for Bob, we know that he'd understand our family obligations, too.

And unlike the situation in many family businesses, it's clear that Linda and the kids don't just work at the restaurant out of obligation — they genuinely enjoy coming to work. In one episode, Bob got nervous that he was robbing his kids of their childhood, and as a result, fired them so they could enjoy their summer. It only took a day away from the restaurant for the kids to want their jobs back, and when Bob refused, they took a job elsewhere (though that's a different story entirely) and Bob later happily welcomed them back. Still not convinced Bob would be a great boss? Take it from the Belcher children — when your kids would rather spend their summer days working for you than riding their bikes and going to the beach, you know you're in store for a great job.

As a teen mom, Lorelai Gilmore worked her way up through the ranks at the Independence Inn in Stars Hollow. She started as a maid, became the manager and eventually opened her own business, The Dragonfly Inn, after the Independence Inn was closed following a fire — all while raising her daughter, Rory, on her own and earning a degree in business. The path to opening The Dragonfly was long and winding, but Lorelai faced every setback head-on. She took on everything from building issues to financial struggles and still made her longtime dream come true, taking her former employees and friends with her along the way.

As a boss, Lorelai was fun, witty, straightforward and compassionate, often taking on extra tasks, helping her employees and working long hours to make sure everything was done and done well. She even used her business to help others, doing things like throwing events for her mother's social groups, hosting and setting up a fashion show for her daughter's school, and at one point, even holding a funeral at the inn for her employee's beloved dog. And on top of everything, Lorelai always made time for her daughter and the rest of her friends and loved ones. Besides, who wouldn't want to work for a driven, understanding boss with a full mental library of pop-culture references and a killer sense of humor?

Michael Bluth had to take on an impossible task as the head of the Bluth Co., most notably, his difficult-to-work-with selfish family and his father's arrest. He had to take on a company that was under investigation and somehow keep it afloat, which is no easy feat. However, despite every professional and familial setback that Michael faced, Michael remained loyal to his loved ones and his company, and used his business  and legal savvy to keep things going.

And yes, Michael may have burned down the family's boardwalk banana stand in a fit of frustration (that just happened to be filled with thousands of dollars, unbeknownst to him — whoops!) but everyone makes mistakes. While there are things that bosses should absolutely not do, the banana stand incident being a perfect example, on the whole, Michael Bluth was the best of the Bluths and did everything he could to save his family and their business, no matter how frustrating things got. He had terrible luck and was working against incredible odds the entire time, like trying to keep employees on when the company had no money, but he always set out to do the right thing even if his good intentions often led to mishaps, or couldn't quite counteract the damage his family had done. Some may think he's a horrible boss, but his loyalty and dedication prove otherwise.

While we'd also undoubtedly love to work for Tina Fey's "30 Rock" character, Liz Lemon, her boss, Jack Donaghy, is arguably one of the best bosses on TV. He may be blunt and sometimes come off as an insensitive jerk, but all in all, Jack is a great leader that any employee would be grateful to work for. Jack is incredibly confident — important in any managerial position, has great problem-solving skills, and is constantly pushing Liz to be the best employee and leader she can be.

Jack is always honest, no matter if what he has to say is good, bad or just bold in general, and he's always clear and straightforward whenever he has to give instructions. As a boss, good, open communication is key, and Jack Donaghy has this down pat. And while his compliments may not be as unique or as lively as Leslie Knope's, Jack is always recognizing and praising others' achievements — something that all good bosses should do frequently. Insensitivity aside, we'd love to work for someone as open, honest and straightforward as Jack.

All of the characters on "Friends" had interesting career story arcs, but Monica Geller's was definitely one of the most interesting. She went through several jobs throughout the show, including one where she worked as a waitress in a '50s-themed diner (for which she had to wear a ridiculous costume) and she even went through a fairly long period of unemployment. And when Pete, a wealthy man whom Monica briefly dated, bought a restaurant and offered her a job as head chef, she refused. Monica wanted to further her career based on her own merit, and soon enough, she did. During a brief stint as a restaurant critic, she wrote a less-than-stellar review of Alessandro's, a local restaurant. As a result, the owner offered her the head chef position.

While at Alessandro's, Monica had to deal with a major problem right off the bat — her employees had no respect for her and refused to listen to her, thanks to her bad review. Monica did everything she could to earn her employees' respect, and when nothing worked, she convinced her friend Joey to work as a waiter temporarily just so she could fire him in front of her staff and prove that she could be a leader. It may not have been the most conventional tactic, but in the end, it worked. Not only did she prove herself to be a tough boss, it also showed that she was a great friend — Joey agreed to be publicly humiliated just to help her succeed at her dream job, and nobody would do that for someone undeserving. Yes, Monica may have been an uptight neat freak with a competitive streak, but her dedication to her craft and her willingness to go above and beyond to gain her employees' trust and respect was impressive. 

Brittney Helmrich

Brittney M. Helmrich graduated from Drew University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and Creative Writing. She joined the Business News Daily team in 2014 after working as the editor-in-chief of an online college life and advice publication for two years. Follow Brittney on Twitter at @brittneyplz, or contact her by email.

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