quitting

That's a wrap! Famous quitting scenes

Sep. 6, 2012 at 10:00 AM ET

Universal Studios /
Brad Hamilton enough of the pirate hat in "Fast Times."

When people quit their jobs in the movies, it’s usually full of drama and highly satisfying. While many of us dream of quitting in such a memorable and spontaneous way, we rarely do.  So, what are some of the most satisfying ways to quit your job? Brazenlife.com recently identified some of the most common ways to say “take this job and shove it.” We’ve found movie examples for each of them, but we’d also love to hear about any great real-life “I quit” stories you have.

1. Personal Humiliation

Perhaps you embarrassed yourself at the office holiday party (who authorized that karaoke machine, anyway?) and can’t face your co-workers. Or, maybe you find wearing a pirate’s costume to be too humiliating, as Judge Reinhold’s character, Brad Hamilton, did in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Clearly, personal humiliation can be enough to make you say “I’m outta here.”

2. Too Hard 

Sometimes, we bite off more than we can chew. Maybe the job itself is too hard. Maybe we find that the needs of the job conflict with the needs of our families, like Steve Martin’s character, Gil, did in “Parenthood.” When we’re in over our heads, we may have to quit in order to come up for air.

3. Heat of the Moment 

While there are many cinematic gems that involve people dramatically quitting in the heat of the moment (like Jennifer Aniston’s character, Joanna, in “Office Space,” who gives her boss the finger in front of customers), this time the best example comes from real life. Who can forget the quit heard ‘round the world by Steven Slater, the notorious Jet Blue flight attendant? First he cussed out a passenger, and then he grabbed a beer and slid down the emergency chute.

4. Naïve 

The naïve quit is that of the younger worker who decides work is just too much, well, work. Again, we turn to “Office Space.” While Ron Livingston’s character, Peter, may technically have been hypnotized, he was the ultimate in disillusioned, naïve workers. Yes, those TPS reports do suck, but the less naïve worker knows that some version of the TPS report will be found pretty much everywhere.

5. Dream Quit 

Quitting your job to pursue your lifelong dream is the holy grail of job quits. While owning his own zoo may not have been a lifelong dream for Matt Damon’s character, Benjamin Mee, in “We Bought a Zoo,” it’s a pretty dreamy notion to drastically change your career and life in that manner. Luckily it all worked out in the end.

6. About to be Fired 

Upon learning that they were about to be fired or laid off, many would choose to wait it out so they could fall back on unemployment benefits, if needed. But some who learn that they’re about to get the boot take matters into their own hands, reasoning that it’s better to be the dumper than the dumpee. Kevin Spacey’s character, Lester Burnham, in “American Beauty” does this better than anyone. After learning that he’s about to get laid off, he not only tells his boss off, but also blackmails him for $60,000. What he may have lacked in ethics, he more than made up for in style.

7. Personal Life 

Military spouses know this quit better than anyone. When a wife gets a base transfer or a civilian gets a job transfer, it often means that the spouse has to quit his or her job to accommodate a long-distance move. In “Sex and the City,” Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, pulled one of the most ill-advised personal life quits, when she left her coveted columnist job to follow a guy to Paris.

8. Ethical Pangs 

When your conscience disagrees with your job description, you may feel obligated to take the high road and walk out with your morals intact. RenéeZellweger’s character, Dorothy Boyd, did this beautifully in “Jerry Maguire.” So inspired by Jerry’s memo, pronouncing the importance of honesty in the business, this single mom did the unthinkable and left a good job to follow her scruples.

9. Side Hustle

You’ve been working on a new gig on the side and you finally feel like it’s ready for prime time. Although Bill Bowerman’s future Nike success and his famous waffle-sole shoe were only hinted at in “Prefontaine,” it was clear that he’d one day be able to say goodbye to his day job and soon say hello to an incredibly lucrative career. As an added bonus, this one’s based on a true story.

10. Career Change 

After a few years doing the same old thing, you might find yourself ready for a career change. RenéeZellweger makes a second appearance with a notable quit, this time in “Bridget Jones’ Diary.” Yes, she left a job in publishing to pursue a job in television, but she also quit because of a workplace romance gone south and managed to do it in a highly dramatic (and public) fashion. All in all, one of the best cinematic resignations of all time.  

Do you have a quitting story worthy of the big screen? If so, we’d love to hear it.  

Ever made a dramatic exit from a job? Tell us about it.

Dana Macario is a Seattle-area writer who has only dreamed of quitting a job in a wildly spectacular way.

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