Grandfather Clause

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    "This comes as no surprise: It's a cliche that Superman's glasses are the most laughably ineffective costume ever, but who cares? Changing that part of the mythos would be like taking the stars off the American flag. So screw Suspension of Disbelief: Superman predates it. He's got a free pass to be wearing the same completely unbelievable disguise 70 years later.", on why Superman continues to get away with Clark Kenting.

    A character uses a Trope which may be Cliché, discredited or even dead at this point, but is allowed because it's tied into the character's legacy. Using the trope during the creation of any more recent character however, is noticeably avoided. If the character's use of the trope slowly starts to disappear, they may have outgrown it.

    It has a high chance of occurring with "classic" characters, but not necessarily their sidekicks. This usually happens with tropes that the character is tightly tied into, making it difficult to separate them from it, and where the basic idea of the trope isn't so stupid that the fans will be turned off by it. Attempting to take away one of these tropes may force the character into a Dork Age, or at least necessitate an Author's Saving Throw. Compare to The Artifact, where it seems like the creators have misgivings about them.

    No relation to the Grandfather Paradox.

    Examples of Grandfather Clause include:


    • Serendipity Writes the Plot can mesh with this trope fairly often. Sure, if the same work were created more recently, the director probably would have taken advantage of better special effects technology or whatever. But the results of the old limitations frequently end up an inseparable part of the work anyway.
    • The lack of feathers on dinosaurs (or at least the ones that would have feathers) in media is probably because of tradition and the fact that that is how most people think of dinosaurs in spite of the recent scientific evidence.


    • The French "Banania"-brand powdered chocolate and its infamous stereotypical black guy. It had been removed for some time in the late eighties/early nineties, but it's back (albeit in more cartoony style).
    • Commercial jingles are also considered silly in modern times, except for products and services whose jingles are part of their legacy.

    Anime and Manga

    • Another example of Clark Kenting: most Magical Girls can't get away without at least tinting their hair and parting it differently nowadays, but people actually complained that Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon made the girls look different when de-transformed, because the original Sailor Moon didn't do it. Of course, this problem doesn't exist in series where Magical Girls don't have secret identities to begin with. This was handwaved once in the Sailor Moon anime television series. The dub seems to bank on the familiarity of the audience with Superhero logic, explaining the characters in uniform look like their past (otherwise identical) incarnations.

    Comic Books

    • Clark Kenting in its original use is a major example, and tends to remain an iron-clad disguise that fools everyone. Although it has been handwaved in various ways, most of us just accept it after seventy years of Superman. Most superheroes created in the last twenty years have to maintain a more realistic disguise, especially since lately the chance of someone being a superhero seems much higher. It helps that most modern ongoing continuities go out of their way to have at least one incident where Clark Kent and Superman are seen together with the help of shapeshifting friends like Martian Manhunter.
      • Richard Donner, director of the first Superman movie, commented in an interview that in said film Clark Kent was originally going to work at a television news station like he did at the time in the comics, but they went with him as a newspaper reporter because it was much more a part of the public consciousness.
    • Batman is the only character still allowed to get away with naming all his gadgets after himself (Batcave, Batmobile, Baterang). Likewise, the current Robin was for decades the only straight-up Kid Sidekick left in The DCU until Convergence's Cosmic Retcon gave Superman his own biological son. This is usually justified as balancing out Batman's inner darkness, although the latest incarnation of Robin, Damian Wayne, may very well be darker than Batman.
    • Underoos on the outside have fallen out of style for super heroes since the '60s.
      • The DCU seems to have done away with them entirely as of the New 52.
    • Capes too have similarly fallen out of style as part of hero costumes.
    • Green Lanterns do not always have a weakness to yellow things, but Sinestro just wouldn't be Sinestro without a yellow ring that is strangely effective against them. This has since been justified with the Retconned existence of a spectrum of emotion (Red: Rage, Orange: Greed, Yellow: Fear, Green: Willpower, Blue: Hope, Indigo: Compassion, Violet: Love). He and the rest of the Sinestro Corps are literally using fear as a weapon.
      • This leads to a lesser-known retcon. Green Lanterns used to be selected because they were men without fear. However, if current GL's didn't experience fear at some level, then Sinestro's ring would be useless against them unless there were others around whom Sinestro could manipulate.
        • Well, since Sinestro's ring has no vulnerability to green, his ring wouldn't be any more useless against Green Lanterns than their rings are against him, even without the weakness.
    • Doctor Doom just wouldn't be Doctor Doom if he didn't refer to himself as "Doom" all the time. And besides, if your name was "Dr. Victor von Doom", wouldn't you do it too?
    • Any character whose origin involves exposure to radiation. For new characters, Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke. Spider-Man is the main exception, since "bitten by an unnatural spider" was the main point and whether the spider was radioactive or genetically modified (or appointing him as the avatar of the spider totem) didn't really matter. Likewise, the movie version of The Hulk averts this somewhat by combining radiation with several other factors—the gamma rays only break down his cells, the Nanomachines try to repair them, and his genes weren't really normal to begin with.
      • Peter Parker's job as a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle has also been under fire in the past decade, with the rise of cameras and video in phones as well as the decline in the print media industry. Recent adaptations feature this aspect of the character less and less and those that do are largely done so because of the legacy with a bit of lampshade hanging for fun.
    • The Martian Manhunter in DC Comics (and especially Justice League) is a man from Mars. Advancing science has long since discredited the idea, but he continues on, sometimes with retcons added, such as the explanation that he comes from the distant past, when Mars was more habitable. Note that this, too, has become outdated. The dates given (in the TV series) for Mars' habitability are too recent.
    • Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon is a Yellow Peril character who could never be created nowadays, but while various adaptations have made him white or green, they never can completely hide his origins, if only because they can't get rid of his obviously Chinese name. Witness how the attempt by the new Sci-Fi Channel series to "modernize" him has backfired ridiculously. Something a bit similar applies to many other supervillains like Iron Man's The Mandarin. Now and then people try to make them more presentable, but usually they revert to type pretty soon.
      • Mandarin managed to abandon his Yellow Peril persona successfully some time ago. So at least he has moved on.
    • Some characters rely on using an Iconic Item to be identified, like The Fourth Doctor's scarf, or Indiana Jones' hat; however, when said character has a Limited Wardrobe it becomes an Outdated Outfit by 20 or so years after their debut, like Jimmy Olsen's bow tie (Clark Kent did eventually ditch the fedora). Especially Egregious if the series is set in the "present day". An especially bad case of this is the Swedish army-farce 91:an Karlsson, which started in 1932. The title character's blue uniform was outdated already at start (resembling the uniform the author wore when he served) and has been kept largely the same ever since, despite changes to camo since then. Especially Egregious as all other characters have switched uniforms pretty much at the same pace as their counterparts IRL.
      • The famous Jughead Jones of Archie Comics still wears a stylized version of an old-time inverted fedora beanie as his trademark hat. This was actually a fashion among teens and mechanics of the 1940s (when the character debuted), but has since been something that just makes him a stand-out kook.
    • The Mexican comic character Memin Pinguin falls under blackface in modern times, but due to its popularity and impact in popular culture since being created in 1945, it is accepted there.
      • Also do notice that even nowadays political correctness on racial issues isn't such a big deal in Mexico.
    • The Marvel family's transformation phrase probably falls under this. Back when the series was created, comics were brightly coloured and silly and everyone had fun. Now that comics are a serious medium and not really appropriate for kids, seeing modern characters yell 'Shazam' in huge dramatic letters might be narm if it weren't for this... and the fact that lightning bolts never stop being cool.
    • It would be extremely difficult to make an unironic hyper-patriotic American character and present him as a paragon of virtue and heroism and be taken seriously today. Captain America pulls it off, though, because he has the weight of history on his side (in more ways than one). It helps that his patriotism has been tested and modified into his famous motto, "I am loyal to nothing...except the [American] Dream."
      • For that matter, the "boy scout" hero in general is virtually extinct (except when used as a joke) aside from Captain America, Superman, and Captain Marvel.
      • To the point where every hero is so messed up and their motivations so personal and complicated that idea of heroes who are heroes just because they're decent people who don't want to waste their great power has become unique and thought-provoking in-universe.
        • Another point is that Captain America is not loyal to the American government; his patriotism isn't "My country right or wrong". Put another way, if America decided to sponsor an anti-democratic coup somewhere, he'd not help (and might hinder) its efforts, because democracy is considered an American value.
    • Tights in general. Modern superheroes still tend to wear them, but outside of comic books and animation, most adaptations will attempt to get around them unless the outfit is iconic that the character is drastically altered without it. For example, compare Spider-Man's outfit versus that of the villains in the first two films. Some characters, such as Batman, have their tights altered into a hardened suit of armor so that the character will continue to seem intimidating.
    • In Spirou and Fantasio, Spirou wore a ridiculous old-fashioned bellhop uniform for decades, even though it had been a long time since he actually worked as a bellhop. Modern version of the comic tend to avert, justify or lampshade this, though: for example, in the Le Petit Spirou strip comic we find out that Spirou already wore a bellhop uniform when he was a small child, and his mom, dad, and grandpa wear it too, though the reason for this family tradition is never really explained.
    • One of the main jokes in Brazilian comic Monica's Gang is the protagonist being pestered by her male friends...even though in recent years it would be considered bullying. (though the reply is what you would expect when bullying a Hair-Trigger Temper Pint-Sized Powerhouse) It possibly only remains without complaint of the Moral Guardians because the comic is running since the 1960s.


    • Not many film franchises go on long enough for this to kick in. Up until the later Pierce Brosnan films, however, it was in full force for James Bond - we knew the premises were ridiculous, the baddies were Card Carrying Villains, the sexual politics were absurd and the Bond One-Liners were worthy of an enormous Collective Groan... that's the point. It's James Bond, as formulaic as it seems. Then the late 90s incarnations flipflopped between Darker and Edgier and tongue-in-cheek Indecisive Parody, Die Another Day collapsed under the weight of its own Continuity Porn, and the Continuity Reboot kicked the whole thing squarely into part post-Bourne part novel Bond.
    • Any film genre based on a historical period will probably run afoul of this trope eventually. The Western, for example, documents a time period that lasted 40 or 50 years at the most; going back to the earliest years of the silent era, countless Western movies have now been made over a period more than twice as long. If we are to take every single Western seriously, then, that half-century from 1840 to 1890 was an impossibly action-packed time. But as long as there are still Western fans out there, new adventures will continue to be generated.


    • A number of old Sci Fi stories retain some energy in their now old and tired plot devices by presenting them with an innocent earnestness from the time when they were new inventions. This one, for instance.
    • The entire Cthulhu Mythos falls under this trope. It has serious Unfortunate Implications, is filled with Purple Prose, and suffers horridly from Science Marches On and Zeerust. The fans want it that way.
    • It would be hard to imagine someone less renowned than Agatha Christie getting a pass with modern readers when so many Unfortunate Implications are in her works. Christie toned it down later in life, but her personal prejudices clearly made it into her writing, and indeed sometimes become part of the charm. When reading her novels, watch for characters who aren't blueblooded but are trying to pass as high class; shortlist them.
    • The Star Wars Expanded Universe avoids real world swear words both for rating and verisimilitude (many less harsh swears reference real world things not in the Galaxy Far Far Away). However since Han Solo says "I'll see you in hell!" in The Empire Strikes Back all phrases with hell (go to hell, to hell with, what the hell ect.) are fine.

    Live-Action TV


    The Doctor: "Every time the TARDIS materializes in a new location, within the first nanosecond of landing it analyzes its surroundings, calculates a twelve-dimensional data map of everything within a thousand mile radius and determines which outer shell would blend in better with the environment... and then it disguises itself as a police telephone box from 1963."

      • Jack Harkness' WWII-era Memetic Outfit is an in-canon example of this — though we do first meet up with Jack in the '40s, he's actually from the 51st century. He keeps the braces-and-greatcoat look through all of his appearances on Who and into his spinoff, Torchwood. ("Period military is not the dress of a straight man.") In a flashback to British India in 1909, he wears the uniform of a British Army captain of that era.
    • Today, by virtue of being a Superhero, The Lone Ranger is the only Western hero who can get away with all the more outrageous Western cliches such wearing a white hat, riding a white horse, or Blasting It Out of Their Hands without irony.
    • Stargate Command in Stargate SG-1 eventually advanced its technology to the point when it would be possible to retire the "Engaging Chevrons" padding, but by that point it became a tradition (and in "Heroes", it was mentioned that the personnel liked Walter doing his job). Stargate Atlantis, by virtue of being a new show, had a chance for a fresh start and didn't use it—which was, of course, given a Lampshade Hanging in the very first episode.
    • Actual Sentai series, such as Super Sentai or Power Rangers, are the only shows allowed to use the Super Sentai Stance with any attempt at seriousness. Any other work that tries to use the stance had better be lampshading or making fun of it unless the producers want viewers to cry foul.
    • Star Trek gets far more leeway than any other non-parody sci-fi show with many of the tropes it popularized because they are seen as intrinsic to the show's history: Planet of Hats, Proud Warrior Race Guy, Techno Babble, Space Is an Ocean, Humanity Is Superior and all manners of Phlebotinum Abuse to name just a few. It is almost easier to name the Speculative Fiction Tropes Trek can't get away with by claiming "that's the way it worked for Kirk."


    • Any song written before 1970 with the reference of gay meaning jolly, fun, etc. is perfectly acceptable because it meant something different at the time. These days however if somebody used it in the same context it would be hard to take them seriously and might suggest something about the singer or songwriter's sexuality.
    • Similarly any song written before 1970 can get away a man calling a woman their "little girl" without complaint. However if a modern song tried that it would probably suggest unfortunate implications of pedophilia.
    • Many acts with long discographies still use styles, gimmicks, and techniques which modern performers could not employ with a straight face. Being Kiss or Wayne Newton is a great way to have an extremely long career. Imitating them is a great way to be ridiculed (Yes, it's not fair. But until a time machine is invented, that's the way it will be).

    Newspaper Comics

    • The Beetle Bailey characters have worn the same solid olive green (sometime's Sarge's is tan) uniforms since the strip began in 1950, no matter what the situation. Just during war games they put on helmets instead of caps.
    • Jon Arbuckle of Garfield is still wearing his "powder-blue Oxford shirt" and modest 1978 sideburns most of the time (though this could be due to Limited Wardrobe or Disco Dan).

    Professional Wrestling

    • Professional wrestling has more or less abandoned the idea of outlandish gimmicks (and most who do are Put on a Bus in less than a year), but The Undertaker has been "The Deadman" for nearly twenty years, and when they tried to change that, it was met with negative reaction.
    • Certain finishing moves become mundane after a while; for instance, the basic DDT is used by many wrestlers, but generally no new guy is going to be able to use a simple DDT as a match ender. However, stars that used it as their finisher before it everyone started using (and kicking out of it), such as Tommy Dreamer, Raven, and especially the move's inventor Jake "The Snake" Roberts, still used it as a finisher.
    • Sometimes, a wrestler's theme music becomes so identified with the wrestler himself that changing it just wouldn't work. Shawn Michaels may have remained attractive, but "Sexy Boy" didn't really fit his gimmick in the last few years of his career. Not that anyone complained.


    • More objectionable bits in The Mikado are often bowdlerized out (most consistently, a character's assertion that "the nigger serenader and the others of his race... would none of them be missed"), but the basic premise of mostly Caucasian actors in whiteface, kimonos, and black wigs in a gross (albeit allegorical) mockery of Meiji's Japan, remains intact. It should be noted that The Mikado is satire at its finest, using a patently absurd version of Japan to mock contemporary British culture.
      • It is recorded that when Prince Fushimi Sadanaru of Japan (a relative of the Emperor and a confidant of Crown Prince Yoshihito, who became Emperor Taisho) made a state visit to Britain in 1907, all productions of the Mikado were shut down for fear of offending him. This proved to be a mistake, since the Crown Prince had looked forward to seeing it. The Mikado is still very popular in Japan; evidently, the fact that the society is obviously more British than Japanese makes it easier to get Gilbert and Sullivan's point.

    Video Games

    • Most platformer heroes have stopped using the Goomba Stomp (or at least downplayed it considerably), but jumping is so much a part of Mario that he almost always has it as his primary ability in his games. Even when the games are RPGs. There's a reason the trope is called Goomba Stomp.
    • Speaking of Mario, don't forget the plot. While other veteran computer game series have been trying to make their plots deeper and more complex, the Super Mario Bros. series is still about the same Italian plumber rescuing the same princess from the same turtle-dinosaur creature. The RPGs, being games with a higher Story to Gameplay Ratio but having essentially the same plot, make fun of this.
      • To elaborate, every Mario RPG so far, sans The Thousand Year Door, has started with Bowser kidnapping, trying to kidnap, or at least planning to kidnap the princess. So far, only the original Paper Mario has had the main plot focus on this.
        • And in Thousand Year Door, he objects to someone else doing it because it's his gimmick (and his love, but that's beside the point).
          • And in Super Mario RPG...well... Bowser gets kicked out of his castle by an even worse enemy and joins you -- and Princess Toadstool does, too!
    • Even the latest games today often ask you to "Press Start", before dropping you into the game or bringing you to the main menu interface, whether or not pressing other buttons would do the same thing. It's averted more and more often these days, but it's still tremendously common. Indeed, it can feel pretty weird to get to the title screen of, say, Super Paper Mario, and be told "Press 2", or having HeartGold and SoulSilver say to "Touch [the touch screen] to Start" despite the fact that pressing start works just fine.
    • Command & Conquer is so well-known for its Full Motion Video cutscenes that when Generals didn't include them, there was a backlash (granted, the lack of FMV wasn't the only difference between Generals and the old games). Now FMV are largely discredited, however C&C gets away with it due to the series' history. The new installments of the Tiberium and Red Alert franchises have brought in all number of really familiar actors, engaging as much Ham-to-Ham Combat as possible (e.g. J. K. Simmons, Tim Curry, and George Takei as the leaders of the factions in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3). Indeed, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 has taught us that when your game has amphibious man-cannons that shoot trained attack bears with parachutes you can get away with literally anything.
    • The classic Mega Man series exists on this trope. 9 and 10 feature all of the cliches that are featured in the rest of the series, including the eight robot masters, getting weapons from defeated enemies, moving on to Wily's fortress, Wily hijacking the plot, and even the 8-bit graphics and sound. Somehow, it works.
    • The Metal Gear series started as a ridiculous Action Hero game in the mid 80's. Starting with Metal Gear Solid in 1998, the series started to take itself seriously and both became a lot more grim and disillusioned as well as getting known for it's highly complex plot and deep and well written characters. Many of the mini bosses are so ridiculous they could be straight out of Batman and Robin and many of the sequences could be from cheap 80's action movies, but since those elements have been part of the series from the beginning, they were kept, similar to James Bond movies.
    • Some game players feel that games that give you a set amount of "lives" invoke this trope.
    • An even more outdated concept, still occasionally in use, but becoming increasingly rare, is the level countdown timer, which had become pretty much obsolete by the mid-90s. Even games that are heavily grandfathered, such as the Mario series, have largely dropped the countdown timer, often for justifiable teams.
    • The score counter, while not being used as much as it once was, occasionally continues to pop up in newer games (although not necessarily always in the traditional way).
    • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine gets away with the Undead Horse Tropes of Real Is Brown, A Space Marine Is You, and a virtual cliche storm in part because the setting helped codify some of those tropes and was using others back when the NES was high tech. These tropes aren't quite dead yet, but they're being mocked and derided openly. Cory Rydell and Grey Carter explain fan reactions here.

    Web Comics

    Western Animation


    Homer: And that horrible act of child abuse became one of our most beloved running gags.

      • It helps that The Simpsons is not only a cartoon, but gave up even the pretense of being a "realistic working-class sitcom" ages ago.

    TV Tropes and All The Tropes

    • Many tropes on this wiki and The Other Tropes Wiki keep their names because people are used to them, even though they do not meet various criteria for descriptive names; some were created before those criteria were codified, while others probably just flew under the radar and became widely linked and well-known before anyone thought to apply those rules, but in any case the name is too strongly associated with the trope to be changed even though it's "bad". Here are some of the more notable ones:
      • If the Narm article were to have been created only recently, it would have been renamed very quickly.
      • Same thing about a very old trope, Gilligan Cut. It's neither exclusive to Gilligan's Island, nor the only cut used there.
      • The Scrappy: Even though character-named tropes are heavily frowned upon since not everyone will get the reference, The Scrappy has held on since it's one of the most heavily-linked tropes on the site.
        • Luckily it sounds sort of like "The Scrappy". Also it gives the sense of something being the scraps that you toss aside.
      • Xanatos Gambit. Yes, we know that not everyone's heard of the original David Xanatos, but since Xanatos Gambit is a Trope of Legend and the term has percolated through the rest of the internet, it's not getting renamed. Other Xanatos tropes have been renamed.
      • The Dragon: Not indicative of what that trope is at all, but it is one of the most linked tropes on the site. (Its usage in this context also predates the site.)
      • One-Winged Angel: A Trope of Legend. The name is a reference to Sephiroth's theme song from Final Fantasy VII.[1] It's not obvious by the title it's about a villain transforming. It resisted a attempt to give it a more descriptive name largely because of its large number of Wicks and this trope.
      • Underground Monkey: "It's a monkey, but it lives underground" is hardly a good way to imply "video game developers create a whole family of mooks by adding little modifications to a mook, hence getting a lot of enemy-variety cheaper". This trope stayed under the radar for too long, and since basically all video game use it, it's been linked by lots and lots of articles. Most tropers believe the abysmal amount of work required to change the name of this trope is just not worth it.
      • Roger Rabbit Effect: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is not the first movie to blend animation and live-action, but it's one of the most well-known, so its name remains.
      • Epileptic Trees: This term doesn't make any sense at all for people who have never seen Lost, but it isn't likely to get a name change anytime soon.

    Real Life

    • Named after the common phrase for laws that grant exceptions based on past history. It's even a verb: "To grandfather" something means to not enforce a new regulation on something that was already in existence at the time the regulation was enacted for entities in that category, while new entities in that category would be subject to the regulation.
      • In turn, that phrase came from Jim Crow laws requiring things like literacy tests to vote but granting an exception to anyone whose grandfather was eligible to vote. Since all whites had eligible grandfathers, and few blacks did (the American Civil War having been that recent) and the literacy tests were made very hard (and often rigged), it effectively meant "whites can vote and blacks can't" without outright saying so.
        • This also had the "added benefit" of not allowing fresh immigrants to vote, another thing that the same type of people who created the Jim Crow laws were in favor of.
    • "Inter Caetera" - Papal Bull of 1493 split between Spain and Portugal the territories for colonization, but since the purpose was to stop the ongoing squabble, rather than create new reasons for conflicts, it included:

     ...with this proviso however, that by this our gift, grant, and assignment no right acquired by any Christian prince, who may be in actual possession of said islands and mainlands prior to the said birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, is hereby to be understood to be withdrawn or taken away.

    • This can also be used legitimately for good reasons and does not always have legal force. A club may decide to change membership requirements such that some of its long-standing members may no longer qualify, but they can be grandfathered in. For example, a fraternity may decide to only accept pledges who possess a certain GPA, but may retain members who were allowed in earlier. Likewise, a club whose membership is growing too quickly may decide to raise membership fees to raise revenue for the larger traffic and to reduce its applicants, but retain existing members at the cost they signed up for. Imagine a popular golf club which was growing too quickly, so members could not guarantee a tee time and the conditions on the course were wanting for a lack of maintenance. Likewise, a company offering a service in high demand may decide to raise prices, but may be legally required or find it prudent to grandfather existing clients in at their original rates, especially if they count on old clients to refer their new ones. This can also be used to keep key personnel during a transition. For example, a company providing emergency medical services may decide to hire only full paramedics in the future, but may grandfather in veteran EMT-Intermediates and Basics while they acquire the EMT-P credential.
    • The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most dangerous races in Formula One history. Had it been proposed today, safety regulations would not allow it to be built. However, since it was one of the oldest grand prix in existence, it's still in the championship.
    • For fans of American Football, and the NFL in particular, do you think anyplace in Wisconsin at all could pay for a franchise? Yet most Americans know of the city of Green Bay, and its Packers.
      • The Packers are a further example - they're publicly owned as a stock (one that has many more restrictions than most, but still classified as one). The NFL doesn't allow teams to sell shares of NFL teams anymore, but the Packers are still allowed to do this,[2] ensuring that the Green Bay Packers are unique in their league in regards to the ownership situation.
    • Also true of British and Irish international sports teams. Virtually every sport works by the rule of one team per country, and when countries split (USSR, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia) or unite (Tanzania, Germany) the teams follow. But Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland have their own teams in almost all sports, even though the countries are the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, because they began most international competition. The divided loyalties of Northern Irish people (see Stroke Country) complicate matters further.
      • Soccer (and futsal) is a rarity, in that Ireland is split Republic/North (the NI team stubbornly styled themselves "Ireland" until 1950), but there are separate Scotland/Wales/England/NI teams. Great Britain teams went to the Olympics 1904-72, but when amateurs left the Olympics, so did Team GB. They reformed for London 2012.
        • There was a separate NI cricket team at the 1998 Commonwealth Games (the Republic of Ireland is not part of the Commonwealth).
        • NI volleyball team play in the European Small Nations division.
      • At the Olympic Games, there is "Great Britain" and "Ireland", and athletes from Northern Ireland can compete for either—even some from a Unionist/Protestant background, who feel stronger allegiance for Britain, have competed for Ireland because Team GB wouldn't take them.
      • In cricket, there is "England" (which represents England and Wales), Scotland and Ireland.
      • Unsurprisingly, Gaelic games use a single Irish team, who play Scotland in compromise rules shinty-hurling, and Australia in international rules football (a clumsy fusion of Aussie Rules and Gaelic football).
      • There is a single GB team in korfball, kabaddi, hockey, ice hockey, handball, volleyball, Aussie rules, but NI players are with Ireland.
      • In basketball, there are separate "Great Britain" and "Ireland" teams—the GB team was only formed in 2005, and England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland still play each other.
      • In rugby, Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales have separate teams. Northern Irish unionists object to both the Irish tricolour flag and the Republic's anthem "Amhrán na bhFiann", so a special "Four Provinces" flag and a special composed anthem ("Ireland's Call") is played. Conversely, Irish players objected to the name "British Lions" for the four-team selection, so they're now the "British and Irish Lions".
    • A rare non-British/Irish example is the West Indies cricket team, who represent 10 independent countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago), 3 Crown dependencies (Anguilla, Montserrat, British Virgin Islands), the US Virgin Islands and Sint Maarten (the Dutch half of St Martin) -- 15 Caribbean "countries" in all, competing internationally as a single team. In fairness, all of these save Guyana, the US Virgin Islands, and Sint Maarten were all going part of the West Indies Federation, which was a single country 1958-1962.
    • The prefix e- for computer-related thing will get you ridiculed now. Only e-mail and perhaps ebooks can really get away with it. Perhaps this is because i is the new e.
    • A literal Grandfather Clause: Most people in the Western world younger than 70 years of age will be harshly reprimanded or at least mocked for Values Dissonance, while those in the twilight of their lives are viewed with tolerance (and sometimes condescension) for holding identical attitudes because "they don't know any better."
    • The Coconut Effect: It would be very easy to record real horses... but people are so used to the sound of coconut halves banged together that it wouldn't be recognized for what it was and would "sound wrong."
    • Pets. There is a well-defined set of "normal" pet animals which have been part of human existence for years (if not millennia), and legislation and custom are always written around the assumption that people are entitled to buy and own these animals. Outside that well-defined set, just watch the people start to stare and the legal compliance issues start to mount.
      • Case in point -- Ferrets. They're the 3rd most popular pet in the US, yet you never see them in the media and laws and regulations prohibiting their ownership abound.
    • The NHL mandated that new players wear helmets in August 1979, but allowed players that were already playing without them to continue to play helmetless. Craig MacTavish was the last non-helmeted player to play in the NHL (he said it was "a comfort thing"). He retired in 1997.
    • Major League Baseball retired the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, the first black player to play in the major leagues, in 1997, but allowed players who were already wearing that number to continue using it. Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees was the last remaining active player to still wear that number, retiring in 2013.
    • Major League Baseball requires at least 325 feet of distance along each foul line to the nearest obstruction...except for fields that had shorter distances prior to 1958. The exception only applies to Boston's Fenway Park.
    • Another MLB example: The spitball was banned in 1920, but pitchers who specialized in throwing spitballs were allowed to keep doing so for the rest of their careers. The last spitballer was Hall of Famer Burleigh "Ol' Stubblebeard" Grimes, who retired in 1934.
    • Similarly to baseball, but more recent: in 2007 the International Cricket Council ruled that the distance from boundary to boundary of an international ground must be at least 150 yards square of the wicket and 140 yards straight (measured from centre of pitch), that square boundaries must be at least 65 yards (which allows the pitch to be a little off centre, because a cricket ground has several parallel pitches to allow grass time to recover), and that no boundary can be more than 90 yards from the centre of the pitch. However, all grounds that were built before 2007 are allowed to have shorter boundaries. A few grounds, such as Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, fall well short of the minimum.
    • An almost literal one: Germans enjoy visa-free access to Israel... except those old enough to have been of legal age during World War II (born before January 1, 1928). They have to get a visa and submit extra paperwork to prove that they weren't members of the Nazi party and/or participate in Nazi atrocities.
    • A good chunk of taxonomy is like this. Early on it often ran on herbariums and/or superficial generalizations. And modern criteria require that a taxon has to include all species deriving from a common ancestor (i.e. no arbitrary stitching or splitting). So now whenever biologists who actually study the species in question (or occasionally paleontologists) find evidence of divergent or convergent adaptations, something have to be shuffled. But when taxons are too old and big to shuffle, and/or there's no clear solution, they just remain as is.
      • Reptiles class lacks the dinosaur-descended birds (together forming the sauropsides) and the therapside-descended mammals (all together forming the hyperclass of the amniotes). From a scientific point of view, reptiles as a class have been discredited, but reptiles are still taught as a biological class vis-à-vis to the other three among the tetrapodes.
    • Despite the United State's rejection of titles of nobility after the revolution and his citizenship requiring it, Baron von Steuben continued to be a baron simply because Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand Steuben is too damn long.

    1. (Despite the fact that he had seven wings).
    2. Although they do have to get NFL permission before issuing any new stock