Difficult customers can make for brutal experiences in real life. But on the big (or small) screen, few narrative devices are as entertaining as someone losing it in a retail establishment. All of the factors for hilarity and/or drama are already in place—a public setting, a loud conflict, a person taking out his or her pent-up anger/frustration/pickiness on someone who often doesn’t deserve it, and just as often has no way of fixing the situation. Here is a list of our favorite movie and TV characters who fuss, melt down, and otherwise cause mayhem in stores. So the next time you get a tough customer, think of these scenes and be glad you weren’t hit with these guys.
1. Sally from When Harry Met Sally
Meg Ryan’s famous Sally put “neurotic and absurdly picky restaurant order-er” on the cultural map. When Billy Crystal’s Harry finally proclaims his love at the end of the film, one of the nutty traits of hers that he lists is, “I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich.”
2. The Video Store Customer from MADtv
Granted, comedian Keegan-Michael Key’s character may not be paying the customer the attention she deserves, but any clerk would have a hard time keeping up with this woman’s incredible stream of questions.
3. The Condescending Customer from Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Judge Reinhold’s Brad has the kind of job that only a high school student would want to tolerate. But an awful job gets worse when an obnoxious and self-righteous customer takes the “Guaranteed Best Breakfast” sign very literally. Not only does Brad struggle to meet the man’s demands, but then our hero finds himself canned for arguing about the restaurant’s refund procedure.
4. The Fast-Talker from Good Burger
If you’ve ever had to handle a whirlwind of difficult orders coming in at lightning speed, you should be able to relate. The hilarious character actress Connie Muldoon delivers her massive, complicated order with lightning speed, leaving Kel Mitchell’s cashier completely dumbfounded. We’ve watched it many times and still can’t follow half the things she’s asking for.
5. The Indecisive Coffee Shop Customer in Kicking and Screaming
Look familiar? This patron has no problem holding up a huge line as she comes up with a question for just about every item on the menu. While offering samples and answering customer questions is always important, it can lead to the inevitable tough situation — and this woman is the perfect embodiment of it.
6. Kramer in Seinfeld
Diehard Seinfeld fans will likely remember this classic Kramer move. The eccentric man-about-town decides it’s a good idea to pay for a meal entirely with change (and not just change, but pennies!). No surprise, his actions don’t go over well with the proprietor — imagine having to put all that change in the cash register, not to mention count it at closing time.
7. Farva’s “Liter A Cola” from Super Troopers
In this semi-notorious parody of police officer life, the protagonist Officer Farva throws a classic hissy fit when he feels that his authority is questioned and misunderstood. As the poor cashier gets more and more confused about his choice of drink, Farva makes the kind of scene you only see in comedies.
8. Michael Douglas in Falling Down
This scene is one of the darker and more famous customer meltdowns in modern film history. Michael Douglas’ character, the disaffected William Foster, spends the movie getting one button pushed after another. When he finally loses it in a restaurant over their breakfast hours policy, the film takes a violent turn. To this day, Douglas channels a level of customer (and human) dissatisfaction that’s rarely caught on screen. Hopefully, none of us will ever have to witness it in real life.