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The 20 best job-quitting scenes of all time (with video)


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6. “Burn After Reading” (2008)

“This doesn’t have to be unpleasant.” This clip ends before we actually see Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) quit his CIA analyst job in response to being demoted, but you can see where it’s heading. Malkovich gives his most spirited performance in years in the Coen Brothers’ dark comedy, obviously delighting in all of the anger and profanity he gets to throw around in almost every scene he’s in. The Coens try to bring their usual control-freak, ultra-mannered style to this scene, but Malkovich gives it an unpredictable, anarchic edge — you half-expect him to pull out a grenade and just blow everyone sky-high.

7. “Half-Baked” (1998)

You know every single person that works or has worked in the fast food industry has fantasized about this scenario at one point or another — probably at least once a day, actually. Scarface (Guillermo Diaz) quits his flippin’-burgers gig in the underrated stoner comedy, “Half Baked,” letting it be known that the customers are just as responsible for his oppression as his boss and co-workers (not all of them, though — there’s one patron in particular that he relieves of any blame). Oh, what sweet, deep-fried catharsis.

8. “Lost in America” (1985)

No one can do upper-middle-class misery quite like Albert Brooks. He’s perfect at playing put-upon characters who just don’t know when to leave well enough alone, making uncomfortable scenes like this one almost completely unbearable as we watch him dig a deeper and deeper hole for himself. Brooks quitting his gig at an advertising agency (an industry often portrayed as a miserable place to work in movies, oddly enough) upon not receiving a long sought-after promotion prompts the entire journey (and point) of “Lost in America,” proving once again that sometimes you have to lose the job to find yourself.

9. “Mr. Mom” (1983)

Jack (Michael Keaton) was technically laid off from his engineering job, but in this scene he’s given a chance to get it back if he backs up a lie conjured up by his superior (Jeffrey Tambor); as he refuses, it qualifies as quitting from a potential re-hire. Keaton displays the kind of twitchy, dangerous energy in this scene that would lead to him being the ideal choice to play Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton’s “Batman” movies; it’s a treat to watch him indignantly pace around the room, hands on his hips, pointing accusingly at the suits behind the desk and at his old boss. Why doesn’t this man work much anymore? Wasn’t there a part for him in Burton’s “Dark Shadows”?

10. “Network” (1976)

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” So goes the battle cry of Howard Beale (Peter Finch), the mad prophet of the airwaves, a news anchor fired from his network due to declining ratings; he’s given a second career of sorts when the network starts to exploit his increasingly deranged rants and revelations about media and the state of the world in general. This classic scene isn’t so much a “quitting scene” in a traditional sense, but it’s a prime example of how one’s job can completely skew their world view — and their sanity (though, indeed, is he really “insane?”). If you gotta go, go out swinging — and swinging hard.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

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Wedding Planners

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Disaster Hut

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Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

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Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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