Jeremy Piven in "Entourage"
They're the brave heroes who've done what we've all wanted to do, said what we wanted to say and departed their jobs in glorious fashion. Some of them left behind money, fame and fortune, while some of them just plain left. They're the characters—both real and fictional—who quit their jobs in high-profile fashion. In honor of the greatest quitters of pop culture, RedEye cobbled together a smattering of the more famous quits in recent memory.
QUITTING: The queen of talk taped her final Chicago show in 2011 after 25 years of dominating the daytime airwaves. Winfrey didn't leave talk altogether, but ditched her popular show to create her OWN TV network.
POST-QUIT SUCCESS? She's still Oprah, so it's not like she's going to be poor anytime soon, but OWN hasn't exactly had gangbusters success.
SIGNATURE EXIT LINE: "From you whose names I will never know, I learned what love is. You, and this show, have been the great love of my life."
QUITTING: The titular heroine, played by Renee Zellweger, quits her PR job working with her icky sort-of-ex, played by Hugh Grant.
POST QUIT-SUCCESS? They made another movie, didn't they? And rumors are there's another sequel in the works.
SIGNATURE EXIT LINE: "If staying here means working within 10 yards of you, frankly, I'd rather have a job wiping Saddam Hussein's ass."
QUITTING: On "Entourage," Ari—played by Chicago native Jeremy Piven—quits the agency he works for, booming opera music providing the background tunes to his spectacular exit.
POST-QUITTING SUCESS? Of course. Anyone whose character reportedly is based on the brother of Mayor Emanuel has to do well for himself.
SIGNATURE EXIT LINE: "Take it. Take it all. Take the company, take your shares, take mine. I don't give a [bleep]."
QUITTING: In 2010, a JetBlue flight attendant—apparently fed up—got on the plane's intercom to make an announcement. After his goodbye, Slater reportedly grabbed a beer and deployed the inflatable emergency exit, sliding down to instant notoriety.
POST-QUITTING SUCCESS? Debatable. Slater became a cult hero and Internet celebrity, but he also was charged with crimes in connection with the unscheduled departure. He later apologized, saying that he and his mother had been struggling with health problems at the time.
SIGNATURE EXIT LINE: "To the passenger who just called me a mother[bleeper], [bleep] you. I've been in this business 28 years and I've had it."
QUITTING: In "Office Space," the ultimate comedy about the drudgery of human existence, Joanna, played by Jennifer Aniston, works at a place that's clearly TGI Friday's. She's forced to wear "flair," buttons that show off her enthusiasm—but her enthusiasm as a waitress, it turns out, is very limited.
POST-QUITTING SUCCESS? She lived out the dreams of anyone who's ever been reprimanded for not being cheerful enough while performing lame tasks. That's success in our book.
SIGNATURE EXIT LINE: "I do want to express myself, OK? And I don't need 37 pieces of flair to do it." And then she flips off her boss.
QUITTING: In 1993, the best basketball player in the world was Michael Jordan, who stunned fans when he announced he was retiring from the NBA after nine years. Jordan left all the glory behind after the death of his father to give professional baseball a shot on a minor-league White Sox team.
POST-QUITTING SUCCESS? Of course, Jordan's success in baseball was limited, but when he returned to the Bulls, he brought the championships back to Chicago and all was forgiven.
SIGNATURE EXIT LINE: "I've reached the pinnacle of my career. I've achieved a lot in that short amount of time. ... I just feel that I don't have anything else for myself to prove."
QUITTING: To be honest, it was more of a "firing" than a quitting, but Tom Cruise's performance in "Jerry Maguire" represents one of the all-time job exits. On his way out the door, he tries to organize a mass walkout but has to settle for a fish and Renee Zellweger.
POST-QUITTING SUCCESS? They wouldn't have named the movie after him if he'd been a complete failure, right?
SIGNATURE EXIT LINE: "Who's coming with me?"