Kevin Spacey in American Beauty

Top 10: Movie Quitting Scenes

As critical as employment is, most of us have an epic quitting plan on file.  Most of us will never use it, but we’d be lying if we said during hour two of an awful meeting we didn’t take it out, carefully review it, think of the perfect musical accompaniment, and refile it in our brain’s sanity file.  Some people truly love their work, and the rest of us…well, we hate you.  It’s not personal (it might be, I’m trying to soften it), but the majority of us are stabbing minutes trying to get to the small slice of the day that’s actually ours.  That’s why WatchMojo’s Top 10 List of Movie Quitting Scenes is probably not a good idea for work.  Both in content and inspiration, you should probably enjoy this shot of vicarious glee on the weekend.  Unless you have to work on the weekend, in which case you absolutely hate your job and should watch this immediately (I am not responsible for what ensues).  I sometimes have quibbles with WM’s lists, but I think they did a pretty good job here.  I’d have swapped Road House for Burn After Reading off the Honorable Mention Lists, but epic quitting scenes from American Beauty, Fight Club, The Truman Show, Wanted, Office Space, and others are the kind of thing that will give you a case of the Mondays any day of the week.

Fight Club


22 thoughts on “Top 10: Movie Quitting Scenes”

  1. OK, so how is High Noon is in the honorable mention part, and not the best quitting scene of all time? Maybe because it’s a really old western? I’d like to think that kind of thing does not go into the decision making, but it probably does.

    I would not have thought of including the Truman Show, but I always loved how he left the stage in that one. I love that character. If he had been horrified to learn the secret behind his life, the film would have been too painful to watch. Instead, Truman just made a decision to get OUT, and in the last moments of his show, instead of aiming an obscene gesture at Cristoff, or telling him off, Truman remained the guy the entire world had found so appealing for forty years or whatever.

    As for American Beauty… let’s just say I’m not a fan of American Beauty. But that quitting scene is something. This was a great idea for a list, there’s nothing quite like a quitting scene. If a character quits a job in a movie, you know it’s going to be good. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie squander that particular setup.

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    1. This, aside from possibly best poster, is the only list I would insist American Beauty be front and center on. I too probably would never have thought of Truman for this list but it’s a great inclusion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Like

      2. I’m glad we’re like-minded when it comes to American Beauty. There are more of us out there than you think.


  2. Love the list. 🙂 … Fight Club was so subversive on so many levels but that scene was particularly impressive because his boss wasn’t ‘a bad guy’. 🙂


  3. Your subsequent spotlight on Sam Jackson made me realize they left out one of the greatest quitting scenes of all time!

    “I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd.”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. How about when Anakin cuts off Mace Windu’s hand? Quitting the Jedi order was kind of a big deal. Although I’ve never been able to figure out what the deal was with that scene. It’s goosebump-inducing and all that, but every single thing about Ian/Palpatine is off, somehow, and really, really weird.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Too quick? I have one word for you: Othello. Granted, the Bard did not have the writing chops of Lucas…

        By the time Anakin was dubbed Vader he had already slaughtered women and children, already had fascist leanings, was already ruled by fear. His turn was not sudden at all, all Palpatine did was nudge a person on the edge.

        “Are you an angel?” First thing Anakin says to Padme when he first meets her. Very creepy foreshadowing indeed.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Don’t blame the kid. Liam Neeson couldn’t even give a halfway decent performance in that movie. Jake Lloyd got a raw deal.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I don’t know why I even bother anymore…

        But just for the record…

        Lucas is terrible at directing people. He cannot make actors relate to each other like actual human beings, and he cannot write dialogue that approximates people having actual conversations. The man is tone deaf.

        What he is is a storyteller, and his stories are well thought-out and quite good. If Lucas had hired Lawrence Kasdan to write the actual screenplay for TPM, and if Robert Zemekis had agreed to direct it, it would have kicked things off with a bang. Lucas is a storyteller and idea man. He does not belong on the actual set, or in front of the actual green screen, as the case might be.

        People think that because Lucas left Liam Neeson in the lurch, that because Lucas was “thrilled” with Natalie Portman’s wooden performance in TPM, that he has no idea what he is doing on any level, and that is just not true. It is blindingly obvious that an incredible amount of care and forethought went into the prequel trilogy, the one Lucas spent a decade making.

        Lucas has a terrific innate visual sense, too.

        The blame for Lloyd’s performance is ALL on Lucas’s shoulders. You can’t expect an inexperienced nine year old to turn in a good performance in front of green screens, reading from a script that contains lines like “Yippee.” Not unless he has some Yoda-level guidance.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. I know all this, but it does inspire me with a certain amount of glee that I can still summon it with the right comment (yes, I am a jackass, but I own it!).

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Of course I could always be wrong about Lucas. I never wavered before, but after reading about what he wanted to do with the sequels, maybe he just makes everything up off the top of his head.

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      7. We both have read way too much about the production of the prequels to think he was winging it. I think the biggest problem is he didn’t know how to get from the movie he knew he wanted to make in III backward two films. I also think he had no one around him saying no on these films. Lucas is, at his best, a producer. He’s an idea man, maybe the best there’s ever been. But idea guys need a filter, need feedback from people they respect enough to hear no from, and Lucas didn’t have that on the prequels. I think Episode III works so well because it’s the story closest to the OT and the notes he’d made at the time he developed it. The ideas he had for the sequel trilogy indicate he did NOT have a plan for VII-XI. He had rough notes which, even on their face, are awful. I really hope Disney can pull it together, but even if they can’t it won’t be because they abandoned Lucas’s outline.

        Liked by 2 people

      8. There are not that many bad ideas in the prequels. There are a lot that were executed… strangely. For example the reason Jar Jar Binks is in the prequels is so Palpatine can manipulate him into proposing emergency powers in AOTC. Everyone misses that. The point of Jar Jar is that a total good-hearted innocent is used as an instrument for the rise of darkness.

        The mistake was in making him an annoying character as well as a good hearted one.

        The two headed pod race announcer would have worked, if he did not sound like Casey Casem. This entire trilogy is filled with quirky ideas that would have been fine if they had not been turned up to “11.”

        The entire trilogy, and not just III, would have felt natural and not thin at all, if it had had a strong central villain. It should not have been Maul like everyone says. It should have been Palpatine himself. The only reason the trade negotiations and politics in TPM are remotely interesting is that we all know Palpatine is using them to manipulate his way into power. Without that piece of knowledge, large swaths of the film really are boring in the extreme. Yet Lucas wants us to watch TPM first, and considering the way the films are labeled, people will. But Palpatine should have been shown as a psychopathic villain from the start, and there should have been ACTUAL political intrigue in TPM. Dark intrigue, backstabbing, maybe even a murder. That would have grabbed people, I’ll tell you that. (Lucas once talked about the prequels being darker, more melodramatic, more plot driven than the originals. Too bad he comptromised his vision.)

        Also Obi-wan needed to be the one to find and form a bond with Anakin.

        With Obi-Wan and Palpatine anchoring this trilogy, it would have worked better, I think. But I get the point of episodes 1 and 2. We needed to see Anakin the golden child, full of hope. We needed to see the small events leading up to the cosmic ones, the lowly politician rising to assume the role of dictator.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. One other thing… Lucas used to say that episodes 4-6 were “where the action was,” and that’s why he started with them. He obviously originally intended for 1-3 to be even MORE different than what we got. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that if he had a sequel trilogy planned, those films were going to be radically different, too. It’s why he’s not so thrilled with what Disney is doing, he’s ways looking forward and could care less about the nostalgia trade. Also, his original SW scripts were loaded down with way too much detail. The titles for the scripts were impossible to recite. And since his sequel ideas sound like they get into the minutiae of the Force and the microbiological world of the midichlorians, ect, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that this is always where he was going to go.

        I am the lone guy who doesn’t hate the midichlorians. I don’t like them, I wish they were not in the saga, but most religions have a physical component. For example, praying and good works and faith ect are not enough, you need that weekly jolt of bread and wine to truly be connected with Christ. Christians believe it literally becomes the body and blood of Christ, and I have to tell you, it does not really take the mystery out of anything. The idea of the divine reaching into the physical world, intersecting with it, is more amazing than if it remained in another, completely separate place. Anyway, there is a precedent in most actual religions. I see no problem with midichlorians serving as an intermediary, which is my understanding of their function.

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