The Ten Best Scenes of Characters Quitting Their Job


The ten best scenes of characters quitting their jobs

One of the most satisfying kind of scene in all of cinema is when a character quits their job.  Often times, the character has been abused, has an awful boss, or is just in a very strange place in their life.  To watch them tell off their superiors and just throw caution to the wind is cathartic. Sometimes, it can be ridiculous, as when Mac quits his waiter job in Broken Lizard’s The Slammin’ Salmon.  His weapon of choice to fling in the face of management is a vat of coleslaw.  Sometimes, it can be real and devastating, as when Steve Martin is passed over for a promotion in Parenthood (aren’t you dazzled?).  Whatever the situation may be, we all love to see it unfold because it is a fantasy that we all have.  Here are the ten best scenes of people quitting their job.  BEWARE!  These clips are NSFW!!

Wesley from Wanted (2008)

Wesley (James McAvoy) has been contacted by the Fraternity, informed of his birthright abilities, and given over $3 Million.  So when he returns to his horrific job and his incessantly annoying manager Janice, he doesn’t have to take it anymore. When Janice, patented stapler in hand, is criticizing Wesley, he decides it is not worth it and shouts SHUT THE F**K UP at the top of his lungs.  

Who hasn’t wanted to let out that burst at their job before?  Wesley continues to call out Janice for all of her insecurities and lets her know that everyone in the office hates her.  It is incredibly satisfying to watch the relief wash over Wesley’s face as he is quitting. On his way out, ergonomic keyboard in hand, he puts a little icing on his quitting cake.  He smashes Chris Pratt across the face with his keyboard, spelling out F**K YOU in airborne keys and teeth.

Scarface from Half Baked (1998)

The dialogue from this scene where Scarface is quitting from his job at His Royal Beefiness.  It is a quick scene that happens when the boys have found out that their pot business is profitable.  Guillermo Diaz’s delivery is brilliant in his delivery, and it has been repeated countless times across the country in all sorts of situations.  

F**k you!  F**k you! F**ck you!  You’re cool! And F**K you, I’m out.  

Furthermore, to place a quick little exclamation point on his exit, Scarface hits a patron directly in the face with a burger patty.

Lester Burnham from American Beauty (1999)

Lester Burnham has been writing for his magazine for 17 years.  How long has Brad been there? A whole month. Kevin Spacey’s nothing left to lose outburst at his job is one of the greatest of all time.  He has been tasked with writing a letter describing his job to the new efficiency expert.  Instead of fighting for a job he hates, Lester decides to unleash a tirade about his contempt for management and his proclivity toward masturbation during work hours, effectively quitting.  When it is obvious that he will be fired, Lester doubles down, using blackmail and company secrets as a way to squeeze a year of severance out of his boss. The fist pump Lester gives the camera on his way out says it all.

Osborne Cox from Burn After Reading (2008)

The Coen Brothers are virtuosos of speech and scene blocking.  Even in their lesser films like Burn After Reading, they can stage an incredibly funny and powerful scene.  In the opening of that film, John Malkovich’s Osborne Cox has been brought into his superior’s office.  Cox is a CIA analyst and he has just been informed that he has been taken of of the Balkans division, and demoted.  In only a way that an actor like Malkovich can do, he cuts directly through the bull. One of those present sites his drinking problem as a reason.  F**K you Peck, you are a Mormon.  Next to you we ALL have a drinking problem.  Cox gets increasingly irritated by the bureaucratic and political undertones that are obviously at the center of this demotion.  He calls it a crucifixion and storms out.

John in Stripes (1981)

The opening scene of Stripes might just be the funniest scene in the film.  It involves Bill Murray’s John getting stiffed on a taxi fare by a couple of young hoodlums.  Soon thereafter, a rich woman enters his cab with a snooty attitude, and he gets no appreciation for hauling her heavy bags.  On the way to the airport, John just can’t take the verbal abuse anymore. He pulls his taxi over across two lanes on the 59th street bridge and tosses his keys into the East River.  He may not of thought that on-the-spot quitting decision through, but it is sure hilarious.

Truman Burbank from The Truman Show (1998)

Technically, the final scene of The Truman Show actually counts as quitting his job.  For his entire life, Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) has been the unwitting star of the biggest reality show in the world.  Everything from his wife, to his best friend, and even his entire town, is all there to manipulate his existence. Throughout the film, Truman is becoming more and more paranoid about the odd nature of his reality.  It all culminates in a tete-a-tete with Ed Harris’s Christof when Truman reaches the edge of the domed studio. Christof pleads for Truman to stay, but Truman, ready to see what the real world has in store for him, is not having it.  With a delivery of his catchphrase and a sarcastic bow to the heavens, Truman exits the dome and quits the job he has had since the moment he was born.

Joanna from Office Space (1999)

Gary Cole’s Bill Lumbergh gets all of the credit for being one of the worst cinematic bosses in history.   However, there is another awful boss in 1999’s Office Space that severely forces Jennifer Aniston’s character into quitting. Director Mike Judge plays Stan,  the manager of Chotchkies. There is a rule that everyone must be wearing 15 pieces of flair on their uniform.  Joanna (Aniston) does exactly that, because she is less than enthused about her job anyway. Constantly, Stan is giving her hell about only doing the bare minimum.  One day, when the subject is approached again, Joanna snaps, and flails a bunch of middle fingers around as she storms out. When one thinks of how infinitely irritating Stan is, we can only cheer Jennifer Aniston’s tirade on.

Donnie Azoff from The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

I tell you what, you show me a pay stub for $72,000 on it, I quit my job right now and come work for you!  This is the line that Jonah Hill’s Donnie Azoff spouts out when he learns what Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort does for a living.  It starts off as a friendly conversation in a diner. Donnie recognizes Jordan’s yellow Jaguar XKE and deduced that they live in the same building.  When Jordan produces said pay stub, smash cut to Donnie on a pay phone quitting his job on the spot. It is a perfect scene and really shows us how Jonah Hill so deservedly earned that Oscar Nomination.

Tom from (500) Days of Summer (2009)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s tirade that leads to him quitting his greeting card job is probably the most heartfelt on this list.  The man has had his heart broken by Zooey Deschanel’s Summer. That depression could just not stay out of his work life. After a particularly vapid presentation involving cats, Tom goes off on how he and the entire company sells lies.  Greeting card are not what people want to say. They are for people who are afraid to say what they really think. Tom pours his heart out about how meaningless and manipulative his job is. It all leads up to that perfect mic-drop line.  

There’s enough bulls**t in the world without my help!

The Narrator from Fight Club (1999)

I am Jack’s Smirking revenge.  The Narrator’s quitting scene from Fight Club is certainly one of the most unique and original ever.  Because of Fight Club, the Narrator has been slacking off at work.  Obviously, his supervisor needs to talk about that with him. At first, Edward Norton’s Narrator decides to try a bit of blackmail.  He knows his company allows faulty car parts to be installed and they look the other way. His boss doesn’t flinch and tries to fire him. So Edward Norton proceeds to beat the hell out of himself.  When security walks in at just the right time, the plan pays off and the Narrator goes home with corporate sponsorship for Fight Club.