From cutthroat to endearingly incompetent bosses, the ten best bosses on television have shown us what it takes to be an inspiring leader—and how easy it is to fall just as quickly. Whether you relate to their struggles to make their mark, find comfort in the chaos of their life, or revel in their strength in the face of adversity, there’s a boss that speaks to everyone.
Their stories are an inspiration of hard work and dedication, reminding us to strive for what we believe in, even in the face of difficulty. The next time you find yourself struggling in the office, take a page out of your favorite boss’s book and remember that you never know what’s possible until you try. Now, let’s dive into our list of the 10 best bosses on television, ranked.
10 Jed Bartlet – The West Wing
Jed Bartlet from The West Wing was a dedicated President of the United States and an even better boss than he was a leader. He had impressive wisdom, intelligence and wit, so much so that he could quickly solve conflicts between members of his team. He also had a no-nonsense attitude when it came to getting the job done efficiently and effectively. Plus, his love for learning made everyone around him feel inspired to strive for greatness.
In terms of leadership qualities, Bartlet had them all: he was transparent and honest in his communication, decisive in his decisions, confident in his charisma and passionate about inspiring those who worked with him. Bartlet’s team thought the world of him—he inspired trust even amongst foes and rivalries never lasted long under his watch.
9 Tony Soprano – The Sopranos
Tony Soprano played by James Gandolfini in The Sopranos was an Italian-American mobster boss who had a lot of expectations of his employees, but at the same time, he was known for his loyalty and commitment. He was a stern yet kind boss who followers looked up to.
Tony was incredibly smart when it came to recognizing when he had gone too far or when someone needed an extra bit of support or guidance. He always encouraged his people to reach their full potential and thrive in their areas of expertise. In return, they respected him greatly.
8 Diane Lockhart – The Good Fight
When it comes to good bosses, you can’t forget Diane Lockhart from The Good Wife. Played by the amazing Christine Baranski, Lockhart is a strong, successful lawyer and one of the partners of the Chicago-based law firm. From advice on starting a business to tough decisions in relationships, Diane is always there for her mentees with sound counsel and encouragement.
She’s also highly skilled at problem-solving– no matter what difficulty they face she always finds a creative solution. She can take down anyone in court be it corporate giants or litigious housewives. Her sharp wit, quick arguments, and dramatic outbursts are legendary within the legal community—making her an extremely beloved figure!
7 Laura Roslin – Battlestar Gallactica
When it comes to bosses on the small screen, you might not know that Laura Roslin from Battlestar Gallactica deserves special recognition. She was the President of the United Colonies of Kobol and had a leadership style like no other—combining strength, empathy, and warmth.
Her pragmatism was one of her greatest assets: she knew when to exercise restraint instead of giving into her emotions. She cared deeply about the well-being of her people—it didn’t matter if they were human or Cylon. She was an inspiring leader who fulfilled her duty as president with care for those around them—and that’s why she deserves a place among the best bosses on TV!
6 Bob Newby – Stranger Things
Bob Newby from the supernatural, horror thriller Stranger Things, was a manager at Radio Shack, but he could always find ways to be encouraging and supportive rather than harsh and demanding. His laid-back style made his coworkers respond well to him, and did inspire her to take initiative when needed.
Bob wasn’t just a manager on television—he was a real person who we could all relate to: fighting for the underdog, standing up for what’s right, and supporting others in their times of need. He had weak moments but would always emerge stronger against all odds. Though he isn’t the smartest or most powerful boss on this list, we can learn a lot of leadership lessons from him.
5 Frank Underwood – House of Cards
In the political drama House of Cards, Frank Underwood was the anti-hero US president that we all either loved to hate or just loved. He was cunning, devious and always had something up his sleeve. Frank was a great boss because he genuinely cared about his staff and wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty when necessary.
When it came to getting things done, Frank was willing to go above and beyond for his team. He took it upon himself to make sure that each person had the skills they needed, as well as being willing to take personal risks if it meant getting the job done.
4 Michael Scott – The Office
Introducing a boss we all know and love for his amusing antics, but know that beneath the goofiness lies a very capable leader, Michael Scott from The Office. Michael is an example of what happens when you have great leadership skills, but poor decision-making. He was able to make his branch of Dunder Mifflin the most successful in the company’s history by finding innovative ways to motivate and inspire his employees.
Michael was also a master delegator—he knew how important it was to trust his staff, and often gave them autonomy to complete tasks on their own. His unique management style gives us hope that even if we don’t make perfect decisions every time, we can still be effective leaders if we handle our team with respect and care.
3 Leslie Knope – Parks and Recreation
Next up, we have Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation. Remember that meme about not having a Leslie Knope in your life? That’s because the world needs more boss ladies like her! As the deputy director of the Parks Department in Pawnee, Indiana, Leslie is an upbeat, creative, and determined leader who always puts her team first.
Leslie loves to serve her employees and community and works tirelessly to improve their lives. She appreciates the value of effort over talent. Leslie knows that everyone has ambitions that extend beyond their current role at work, which is why she always looks for ways to help them grow and develop their skill set, so they can reach their goals.
2 Raymond Holt – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Raymond Holt from Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a boss with incredible style, wit, and charm. He’s a no-nonsense leader who fosters an environment of respect and growth. His biggest strength is his ability to give each of his team members the opportunity to lead their own cases and take ownership of their projects.
He encourages their independence and pushes them to think outside the box, while also providing guidance when needed. Holt values hard work, honesty, and loyalty in all of his team members. He shows them that he truly cares about their development as people and professionals. All these qualities make Raymond Holt one of the best bosses on television.
1 Jessica Pearson – SUITS
When it comes to business savvy and acumen, Jessica Pearson from SUITS stands out from the pack. Though she begins as a hard-charging corporate attorney, her ambition takes her to the heights of firm leadership. With true grit and ambition, Jessica is determined to succeed—even when the odds are against her.
She leads with integrity and fairness, never hesitating to take decisive action when needed. Even when things go wrong—which doesn’t happen often—Jessica’s quick thinking and resourcefulness help her work her way out of any jam. From mentoring young associates to forming alliances with former rivals, Jessica Pearson is an admirable leader we’d all love to work for.
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