Screw the Rules, I Have Connections

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Heather: She got voted out fair and square!

Courtney: Sorry, Heather, but myself and the law firm of Fleckman, Fleckman, Cohen and Strauss would beg to differ. We filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the producers, and won!
Total Drama Action, "Ocean's Eight (Or Nine)"

With daddy as the Pope, I could do as I pleased, was ace!

I'd kill a man who'd dare to, like, invade my personal space

A character is able to Screw The Rules, simply because their friends or family are very influential, powerful or wealthy people. Can be Truth in Television, especially with the Mafia.

A Favored technique of the son of the Villain.

Wives of powerful men often do this, as do their children. And their brothers. And their nephews. And their sisters. And their mothers. And their... oh, you get it by now.

Often phrased as: "Do you know who my dad is?"

No, and neither does your mom!

See Also Coattail-Riding Relative, Nepotism, Screw the Rules, I Have Money and Screw the Rules, I Make Them.

Examples of Screw the Rules, I Have Connections include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In the first few episodes of One Piece, Helmeppo can do whatever he likes because his father, Axe-Hand Morgan, runs the town. Morgan actually hates his son, but lets him use his name and authority as long as it doesn't put a dent in his ego.
    • The World Nobles are an even more extreme example. If there's someone they can't shoot and is openly defying them, an admiral gets involved immediately.
  • Vampire Hunter D film. Greco, the mayor's son who sexually harasses Doris Rumm.
    • This happens in the novel, and is not the only example in the series.
  • Mokuba Kaiba, in his Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series incarnation. "My brother is Seto Kaiba; I can decide who lives and who dies."
  • A woman who gets into an altercation with Bamboo Blade's teacher, Toraji-sensei, uses her position as the superintendent's next-door neighbor to get him fired.
  • Averted in the fourth Detective Conan movie, Captured in her Eyes. When the police superintendent learns that his son had a connection to a murder case, he personally orders the investigation re-opened to discover the truth.
  • Every single target of Akumetsu, being filthy-rich megalomaniacs, Corrupt Corporate Executives and/or Sleazy Politicians, in any combination. Not that this stops him.
  • Season One of Hell Girl early episodes featured some antagonists who were like this.
  • Used by both the heroes and the villains in the various iterations of the Ghost in the Shell franchise. Quite memorably, in the Stand Alone Complex TV series a perp managed to avoid conviction partially thanks to this trope, and in response Chief Aramaki quietly arranged his "accidental" death in a car accident and hushed up any investigation that might follow, neatly demonstrating that the trope goes both ways. In another incident, some college kids were running an amateur organ black market, under the impression that their influential parents would get them out of any trouble. The Major literally scares the piss out of them instead, though her motivations were more personal than getting around their connections.
  • Dr. Chrome Ballanche was able to dabble in the forbidden arts only because he was a lifetime friend of the God-Emperor of the most powerful nation around, even if his intentions were noble.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • That Yellow Bastard and Kevin in Sin City. Fortunately, Hartigan and Marv don't care.
  • Agent Graves in One Hundred Bullets. He spends the first half of the series giving out cases with a gun and well...you know. Graves is so connected that if a bullet from his cases is found at a crime scene, the investigation stops altogether. Any friend of Graves' is flat out allowed to get away with murder.
  • In the She Hulk graphic novel, Jessica is captured by SHIELD and forced to be strip-searched in public in front of male personnel and in violation of all established procedure. Dum-Dum Dugan, acting director, comes in and is furious at this abuse and orders the agent responsible confined to quarters pending a formal reprimand. The agent threatens to use his connections and Dugan gets a harsh phone call by those connections ordering to let the agent go.
  • Subverted in a Donald Duck comic where Donald works at a theatre. The son of a mob boss basically threatens his way to being the leading man, despite being an incredibly bad actor. The subversion occurs when Donald breaks and becomes as angry as only Donald Duck can be, telling the guy just how bad he is. The offended young man calls upon his father... who turns up and thanks Donald for finally standing up to his obnoxious son, who is always using his connections to get away with stupid stuff.


Film[edit | hide]

  • With nearly all public officials in the pocket of Carmine Falcone, this is the main reason why Bruce Wayne became Batman to fight crime.
  • I don't think my father, the inventor of Toaster Struedel, would like that I'm not on this list.
  • When Willy Bank, the antagonist of Ocean's Thirteen tries to use this as a threat against Danny Ocean, Danny replies he has all the same connections and they like him better.
  • Yackavetta. Not that it helped him.
  • A rare positive example: his membership of the Nazi party and friendship with senior Nazi officials are the reason Oskar Schindler can save the lives of his eponymous List. (Well, that and a certain amount of outright bribery.)
  • Sorority Row:

Kyle: Are you crazy? Do you have any idea what my father is capable of?
Jessica: Oh yeah? Well, maybe I'm fuckin' the wrong guy!


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Honor Harrington: Honor Stephanie Alexander-Harrington avoids severe punishment due to her political connections and public image. Any violations she does commit are ignored or forgotten by the next novel. [1], [2], [3]
  • Clive Cussler: Many of the villains have massive influence and wealth; the Vigilante Man only stops them.
  • Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter.
    • He uses the threat "When my father hears about this..." at least once a conversation, at least in the earlier books. It's not particularly effective. In the first book, when he says he's going to tell his father about how he has to go into the Forbidden Forest for punishment, Hagrid dismisses the threat, saying that Lucius Malfoy would tell him that's how things are done at Hogwarts. In Book 4, bringing up Lucius Malfoy practically makes Mad-Eye Moody nee Barty Crouch Jr. salivate at the thought of an excuse to talk to a former Death-Eater.
    • Similarly, Umbridge's connections in the Ministry allow her to literally get away with (attempted) murder in Book 5, as she's still around in Book 6.
      • Umbridge also openly threatened the use of an Unforgivable Curse in front of fifteen witnesses and didn't get so much as a reprimand.
    • Snape's connection to Dumbledore allows him to get away with blatantly unprofessional conduct that would get him banned from teaching in a Muggle school.
    • James Potter. You'd think the fact that a Prefect hung around him most of the time would hamper his ability to bully people... except, that prefect was also one of his closest friends who preferred to simply look the other way in regards to James' bullying.
  • Percy Wetmore from The Green Mile embodies this trope. His Catch Phrase practically is "I KNOW people!!!" whenever anyone starts thinking of doing anything to him. Subverted when the others show that they too know people.
  • In Are You In The House Alone, Phil Lawver is the son of a very wealthy and/or influential man. When he rapes the narrator, the police chief refuses to even open an investigation on him due to his family connections.
  • This used to be the case in Discworld's Ankh-Morpork; an ongoing theme is the way Sam Vimes and Lord Vetinari have made it harder and harder to pull this off, providing an almost endless source of plot conflict as the city's Blue Blood population fight for their privilege.
  • Falcone, closest thing to a Big Bad in the Warchild series, has been arrested once before and sent to prison. His connections either broke him out or saw fit to release him early (the books are rather vague on that). When he gets arrested a second time, he tells our heroes it's a waste of time and brags about how he'll be out again. Indeed, he doesn't even make it to the prison when a group of his loyalists arrive to free him from the custody of the Space Marines. But in a fitting turn he is murdered on the docks because one of our gray heroes can't bear to see him get away unpunished.
  • This is the stock in trade of the "looters" in Atlas Shrugged, who essentially make themselves into an "Aristocracy of Pull".
  • Miles Vorkosigan, the Barrayaran Prime Minister's son and Emperor's foster brother, occasionally does this; he considers it a last resort. He still gets in a lot of trouble, and the time he does try to use connections to keep from losing his secret covert ops identity after injuring an officer during a seizure, then falsifying the report of the incident it doesn't work, though he still gets a medical discharge instead of dishonorable discharge and a further sentence. Really, his usual philosophy is more "Screw The Rules, My Results Will Justify It" or "Screw The Rules, I'll Deal With The Consequences Later".
    • Similar to the Discworld example above, this used to be the case for the aristocracy in general, and the efforts toward reforming the government to stop this are frequently mentioned.
  • Subverted throughout the Codex Alera series. Several times, egotistical figures with connections attempt to invoke their connections or just pull rank on their own authority, only to be outmaneuvered or simply punched out. The one time saying "Screw the rules, I have connections" works in the series, it's a bluff. One Hiliarious In Hindsight moment in the second book has a character saying "I have connections" to defuse a tense moment between some guards and an enemy nation's ambassador, but it's only a bluff because he's really just a page boy and student acting on no authority but his own. The Hilarious in Hindsight part is, he actually is the legitimate prince, but no one knows it except for the enemy he's trying to bluff.
  • Occurs in a brief exchange in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. A man trying to get Manny to get the government to buy patriotic buttons for members of La Résistance gets the brush-off. The man takes umbrage, threatening to go directly to Party Chairman Adam Selene, a close friend of his. Manny is unimpressed by this statement, since Adam Selene is an alter ego of Mike. Since only Manny and two others know that Mike is secretly a sentient computer, it's pretty obvious that the man is bluffing
  • A rare good example in Oblomov. Tarantyev's buddy thinks he can pull off robbing Oblomov blind, but his friend Stolz happens to be on first-name base with the general, who gets Mukhoyarov (said buddy) fired.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: The Vigilantes definitely use this trope to accomplish their missions and with style! In fact, it seems that Washington, D.C. pretty much requires everyone to make use of this trope. A number of the bad guys use this, and John Chai from Vendetta happens to be very explicit, considering how he was promising the Vigilantes that his father would make them pay (The Vigilantes were not intimidated by this, for the record).
  • Deconstructed in The Phantom of the Opera: The original book by Gaston Leroux show the consequences of a society that embraces this principle: The opera managers know how to play politics better than to manage, and the opera singer knows is more redituable being The Prima Donna that to sing better. This means that everyone is a Stupid Boss who doesn’t know how to do his job. Every employee knows that, so the bosses are Properly Paranoid about being pranked by them because nobody respects them. They also are the ideal victims for a BlackMailer, and that’s how Erik (the titular phantom) could convince them of letting him do whatever he pleases.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Babylon 5: Crusade: The Pro Zeta Corporation uses its influence with its clients to avoid an investigation. [4]
  • In Scrubs, a medical student is annoying the shit out of Elliot, because his father is the CEO of the corporation that owns the hospital, so Elliot can't punish or treat him badly. After Kelso tells Elliot that it's his job to kiss his father's ass and that she should go out and kick his ass, she does so.
    • Cole, one of the medical students introduced in season 9, is the son of a major donor to the hospital, and pulls this to get away with screwing around in the hospital. While it does keep him from being expelled, it doesn't keep anyone from getting back at him for his general jackassery.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 short film "Cheating", Johnny gets caught cheating on a test, and Tom Servo riffs, "Fortunately, your mob ties will get you off, Johnny."
  • Scooter on The Muppet Show gets by mostly on the fact that his uncle owns the theater where the show takes place. He's not necessarily a brat about it, and he doesn't make that many demands, but just casually mentioning his uncle is enough for Kermit to cave in instantly.
  • This almost has to be happening for Lee "Apollo" Adama in Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. Having your dad be the head of the Colonial Military can mean you get cut a lot of slack. At the end of season 1 he commits mutiny and puts a gun to the head of Galactica's XO, but this doesn't seem to hurt his career much. Towards the end of season 2 he's even promoted to commander (over a few higher-ranking and more-experienced officers, the aforementioned XO included--though events early in the season hint said XO wouldn't be the best commander) and put in charge of his own Battlestar. And is there any other explanation for in season 4 when despite the pressing need for experienced pilots at all times he is allowed to quit the military for good and gets shoehorned into a Quorum seat which allows him to temporarily rise to be president when Roslin is missing, mostly because they needed a candidate his father would accept? Given what we have seen of the lack of options open to ordinary people of the fleet and the need for all those in essential positions to do their duty all the time, one can't help but feel Lee is lucky to have the opportunities he has. And, in fact, he lampshades this a bit. At Baltar's trial, specifically, he notes that he had done some ridiculous things that should have gotten him prosecuted at least...but he was forgiven.
  • Part of a climactic scene in late season three of Dexter. Dexter confronts a monster he's created by reminding him of the evidence he has. Miguel's reply? "You got what, a ring? I got fucking CITY HALL!" Of course, he never did learn exactly who or what Dexter really is...
  • In the Japanese Tokusatsu Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger A group of villains are incredibly calm towards Sen-chan's questions, annoyances and at one point death sentence because one of their fathers is a judge for the Space police Unfortunately for them, Sen-chan just decides to kill them before they have time to tell their connections.
  • Castle is a surprisingly benign version of this... while he uses his influence as a best-selling mystery author (and the fact that he has the mayor on speed dial) to be allowed to shadow Detective Beckett, he has proved quite useful, with his Genre Savvy providing breakthroughs in several cases, and on one occasion using his connections to rush evidence through the lab to close a case.

[after making a bet on whether or not their Vic of the Week was a CIA agent]
Beckett: All right, you're on!
Castle: [dials a number]
Beckett: ...who are you calling?
Castle: My guy in the CIA.
Beckett: [disbelieving] You have a guy in the CIA???
Castle: When will you learn? I've got a guy everywhere.

    • Captain Montgomery is good at subverting this. He later reveals to Beckett that he could have gotten rid of Castle at any time ("The mayor doesn't run this place, I do"), but only kept him around because he thought it would be good for her. Also when a suspect threatens to call the police commissioner, he replies "Tell him I said hi. And that I could use a raise."
  • Practically everyone on Veronica Mars is guilty of some version of this. Veronica herself constantly exploits any and all connections she has in law enforcement. Usually justifiable considering she lives in Neptune.
  • In Dollhouse it's not a person but the title business. It largely survives because it has a lot of rich and powerful people, including at least one senator and the Governor of California on its client list.
  • As the World Turns loves this trope because of its legacy families. Many of the characters even just with ties to super couples and their parents/children tend to be able to get away with anything on connections alone.
  • On Burn Notice, one scumbag Abusive Parent uses his connections to protect his mobster brother. When Michael and company take out the scumbag by making him look like an unstable lunatic, it's mentioned in the epilogue that the brother will likely go down with him.
  • This is the main reason why the Office of Disruptive Services team on Chaos is able to operate the way they do. They have connections going all the way to the White House. Their Obstructive Bureaucrat boss wants them fired but as long as they do not screw up in a major way, their everyday misdeeds will go unpunished.
  • One of the major themes on The Wire. Clay Davis and Irving Burrell are two of the biggest offenders


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • The McMahon kids don't fall into this too well...Shane's a fan favorite (the inversion of Vince in many ways, but he has broken out into one of his catchphrases once. Not the one you're thinking of though.), and while Stephanie is a bit of a bitch as well as a Daddy's Girl, she was a face in her General Manager days (and ironically her reign came to an end when Vince beat her in an I Quit match).


Radio[edit | hide]

  • The early Adventures in Odyssey episode "Camp What-A-Nut" features a low-key version of this. Chas Wentworth, son of a wealthy businessman who (among other things) partially owns the camp itself, has a well-earned reputation as a troublemaker who figures his money will cover any trouble he might get into. For once, among other things, this doesn't come hand in hand with being popular. In fact, it eventually comes out that he is caught in a cycle of being a jerk to everyone because most people don't like him because he keeps flaunting his cash on the flawed assumption that people universally respect money.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • This is what the various 'Influence' backgrounds in the World of Darkness represent. Vampires, being immortal, are especially prone to cultivating these. Particularly the Ventrue.
  • Shadowrun characters can cultivate connections that vary in function, influence and loyalty. Being a 'connection horse' is a popular way to make a socially-oriented character extra useful: having a ton of loyal friends in high places makes running the shadows fairly easy at times.
    • Cultivating and using a lot of connections for personal benefit, or on commission, is a legitimate full-time job in the Shadowrun setting -- it's called 'being a fixer', a well-established profession.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • Roy Cohn in Angels in America.
  • Cyrano De Bergerac: At Act II Scene VII, De Guiche wants to Buy Them Off Cyrano offering to say to his uncle, Cardinal Richelieu, whom Cyrano has already impressed, I'll gladly say a word to him for you. And at Act III Scene II, he lampshades how he will occult in a monastery:

De Guiche ...Hard by, in the Rue d'Orleans, is a convent founded by Father Athanasius, the syndic of the Capuchins. True that no layman may enter—but—I can settle that with the good Fathers! Their habit sleeves are wide enough to hide me in. 'Tis they who serve Richelieu's private chapel: and from respect to the uncle, fear the nephew. All will deem me gone...

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Ace Attorney, these are the exact people the Yatagarasu tries to combat. It's also pulled by Alba in the final case. If he committed the murder on Allebahstian soil, then he only gets a trial in Allebahst, where he will surely get off lightly due to his war hero status.
  • Some of the bystanders in Grand Theft Auto Vice City claim that they "know people".
  • In Tales of the Abyss, there's an unusual example in that it's actually useful to the player outside of cutscenes: equipping Jade with his "Emperor's Best Friend" title gets you a discount in shops.
  • In The Godfather 2 you can do favours for corrupt officials in exchange for getting their help later.
  • In Skyrim, doing favors for the jarls can result in the dovahkiin becoming a thane. It's mostly a ceremonial title, but one of the perks is the ability to force guards to overlook any bounty that you might have on your head. It only works once per jarl, however.
  • Having a high reputation with a government in the X-Universe series lets you get away with an absurd amount of murders. You can capture their flagship, murder the crew, then sell the fighter pilots into slavery, and you'll often take only a minor reputation hit unless you started slaughtering everything else in the sector.

Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • This comic.
  • Subverted in Arthur, King of Time and Space: Morgan (before she's openly evil) expects that as the king's half-sister she can do whatever she wants, but egalitarian Arthur has instructed his people that anyone saying "Do you know who I am?" is to be ignored.
  • Girl Genius: While this is not at all Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, his paper doll sports useful phrases such as "Do you know who I am?" and "My father will hear of this!".


Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Used in Futurama with the Mayor's aide dating Leela.
    • Parodied to some degree, since he likes to try and use his position even when it wouldn't make any difference (e.g. saying he's the mayor's aide and requesting a table even after the restraunteer in question cheerfully showed them to a table).
  • Subverted by Mayor Quimby's nephew in The Simpsons, who is a Spoiled Brat, but didn't actually commit the crime he is thought to have.
    • Also Subverted in that in spite of Quimby's rampant bribery, his nephew still comes very close to being imprisoned for the crime.
  • One of the greatest examples is Ed Wuncler III from the Boondocks cartoon. His grandfather is the ultra-rich owner of... pretty much everything, so Ed gets away with... well, pretty much everything. Take for example his foray into bank robbery. It was bungled about as badly as it could have been, and when they get into the car, they start arguing and eventually ask the bank manager(who they had also kidnapped) for a second opinion. Later back at Ed's house a police officer shows up to return Ed's wallet, which he lost at the bank while in the process of robbing it. He even apologizes for having wasted Ed's time. It helps when your grand-dad owns both the police and the bank in question.
    • Wuncler Sr. does this in the season three finale by calling The President of the United States to get a renegade agent to stand down.
  • Courtney and her gratuitous use of her lawyers on Total Drama Action, which has gotten her multiple immunities and preferential treatment by the producers As the show goes on though they eventually start to tired of her attitude. Her lawyers stop returning her calls.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic recurring foil Diamond Tiara has consistently gotten away with ridiculous amounts of schoolyard bullying to the Cutie Mark Crusaders and everypony else around, even when directly in front of their teacher Cheerilee. Since Cheerilee is a good-hearted and conscientious pony it has been a source of continual mystification to fans why she never did anything to try and rein in Diamond Tiara. Season 5's episode "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" finally clears up the mystery -- Diamond Tiara's mother, Spoiled Rotten, is not only even more horrible than her daughter but is also president of the local school board.
    • Subverted in that the same episode that reveals how Diamond Tiara was getting away with all her crap is is the episode where Diamond Tiara stops using that connection or following her example, because DT's finally clued in that her mother is the worst person she knows and she doesn't want anything her mom is selling.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Very often Truth in Television, unfortunately.
  • A surprising number of celebrities seem to think this should be the case for Roman Polanski.
  • Often tried (and failed) by customers featured on (The Customer is) Not Always Right.
  • Olive oil companies in Italy can slip less than 20% of hydrogenated oil into their Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil and market it as 100% pure. Because the big names of these edible oil companies have political connections, this means that anyone buying Extra Virgin Olive Oil and hoping for its health benefits is possibly getting crappy hydrogenated oil with it.
    • Not just olive oil. Those "no cholesterol" health claims? That was because the margarine industry (margarine having no cholesterol, but fat that affects your lipid levels for the worst in just about every mechanism known) made its debut. The Sugar Association did a lot to make carbohydrates go from being just a source of energy to getting the vast majority of your calories from carbohydrates as being essential to good health.
  • The Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund was visiting Paris and happened to be observing a trial between a knight and a commoner. The commoner was about to lose solely based on the fact that his word was not worth as much as a knight's. So Sigismund stood up, stopped the trial, and told the commoner to come over and kneel, at which point he knighted him. Justice ensued.
  • This is how The Inheritance Cycle got widely published. Christopher Paolini's parents originally published it with their own company, until the son of a more well-known author read the book and said it was the best book written by a teen that he'd ever seen. Without reading it himself, said more-famous author told his publishing company, Alfred Knopf, about it, and they decided to publish it and promote it themselves. And the rest is history.
    • Unsurprisingly Paolini never mentions this huge advantage in favor of saying that he's a child prodigy (even though he really only accomplished what the majority of home-schooled kids accomplished anyway).
  • The Battalion Dance, the story behind two of the rules on Skippy's List, has this as a major theme- basically, civilian wives going overboard with their "power" which they supposedly had because of who they married. Chaos ensued.
  • Li Tianyi, son of an important Chinese general, was driving illegally (in a car with no license plates) when he decided to beat up an older couple that was blocking his car. But since he only got a one-year sentence, it's your call whether this trope was averted or played straight.
  • Youtube Partners, immune to the rules of content nature restrictions and also don't have to have a relevant title or thumbnail, are a perfect example of this trope.
  • This mindset is so inherent to Israeli culture that it has its own special term - "Proteqzia" - somtimes sardonically referred to as "Vitamin P".
  • "Go ahead, sue me if you dare [for killing a pedestrian and injuring another], My dad is Li Gang!" Even with the effort of the Chinese government to censor the outrage and provide a staged apology from Li Qiming and his father, Baodong City Public Security Bureau Deputy Director Li Gang, Qiming pled guilty and was sentenced to six years and fines of over half a million renminbi. The internet vigilantism in this case uncovered Li Gang's corruption and the Heibei University president's plagiarism.
  • Paul Christoforo tried to do this by listing PAX, E3, Germany the convention, the mayor of Boston and many more when Mike Krahulik got involved in a customer support situation.
  • As any Army field officer knows, either knowing the right people in QM or having a NCO/private/dogsbody who does and being deliberately ignorant of how they go about their business leads to wonderful things being acquired for the unit that either are unavailable/waiting in a depot somewhere/need to be requested in triplicate.