The Bro Code

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The-bro-code design png 6418.png
"There should be a set of rules to govern how bros comport themselves among other bros."

Just punched your best friend in the face? Put some ice on it and he'll be fine. Just wrecked his car? No prob, he's got insurance. Slept with his ex-wife/girlfriend? Whoah momma, you're in for a world of hurt!

Even among the closest Heterosexual Life Partners, there are some lines you just do not cross, and one of them's dating, sleeping with, or otherwise getting involved with a woman your bro has broken up with. If a guy breaks this rule, expect it to lead to incredible hostility in the friendship, lasting ... oh, about thirty minutes or so.

See its sub-trope Bros Before Hoes. Compare to My Sister Is Off-Limits, when the conflict is over dating a bro's sibling.

Examples of The Bro Code include:

Trope Namer

  • On How I Met Your Mother Barney has a long list of rules governing how male friends (or "bros") are to act towards each other when there's a woman involved, which he claims was created by his 18th century ancestor Barnabus. (It's worth noting that The Bro Code has subsequently been defictionalized; it's available at bookstores across the US.) This particular rule is only one of many (specifically, Article 150), but it forms the focus for the episode "The Goat" and several episodes that follow, after Barney sleeps with Robin, Ted's ex-girlfriend.


  • In a Miller Lite series of commercials called "Man Law" delved in many other important subjects like "is a person allowed to stick a finger in a beer bottle to carry it" and "how many beer cans can you take home from a friend's party", and in one a panel of men debate how long you have to wait before making a move on a friend's ex-girlfriend. Opinions range from "forever" to "two Saturdays, or a new hair-do, whichever comes first." Just for the record, the final word given in said argument is "six months".


Live Action TV

  • The Friends episode "The One With Chandler's Work Laugh" had Ross freaking out after he slept with Chandler's ex-girlfriend, Janice, and worrying about how he'd react. Turns out Chandler didn't care, but acted as if he did, and "forgave" Ross, because at the time, he was secretly seeing Monica (Ross's sister). It was previously played straight when Chandler kissed Joey's girlfriend.
    • They had a similar issue before, when Ross kisses Chandler's "MOTHER" (who was played by Morgan Fairchild).
  • In Two and A Half Men, Charlie definitely did mind when Alan was seeing Chelsea (mainly because he is still hung up about her). Charlie initially forced Alan to not go anywhere near Chelsea's birthday party, he changed his mind later but he felt that he had to out of fear that Chelsea will get mad at him for knowing why Alan didn't show up to her party.
  • In Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, Will makes a fake Face Heel Turn and joins Kamdor and Miratrix. Dax is especially upset... that Will's with his ex. (Miratrix and Dax dated before she revealed she was running a Honey Trap.) While the girls exchange a look, Dax and Mack explain with "Man law!" (check the Miller Light commertial above)
  • Wilder talks about this in The Latest Buzz, calling it one of the 'guy rules,' specifically the rule 'pals before gals.'
  • In That '70s Show, Kelso was quite upset when he found out that his best friend, Hyde, started seeing his ex-girlfriend, Jackie.
  • In the Psych episode "High Top Fade Out", Shawn, Gus, Henry, Tony, and Joon throw out different definitions of "The Code", (almost?) all of which relate to sleeping with your friend's girlfriend or relative.
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Ex-Girlfriend", Jerry starts dating George's ex-girlfriend, Marlene, and worries that he'll be upset. However, when he eventually tells it to George, it turns out that he doesn't care.
    • The backwards episode involved a variation with Jerry setting George up with an ex had never actually slept with. Unfortunately, Jerry ends up sleeping with her just before actually setting them up. He tries to keep it from George, but its gets out and he's pretty upset over it.
  • Saturday Night Live parodied this in a sketch involving two bros who get into an argument over a woman, hash things out, and manage to reconcile, all by using nothing but various inflections of the word "bro".
  • In Neighbours when Todd started dating Josh's ex Phoebe.
  • An episode of Saved by the Bell had Slater convince Zack to go out with one of his old flames in order to convince his current girlfriends that he was over her. Slater then gets jealous when said Old Flame and Zack really hit it off.
    • There was also the episode where Zack kissed Lisa, the object of Screech's affections. That didn't go over weel either.

Video Games

  • Mentioned in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. Fuka briefly considers pursuing Valvatorez as a "reasonable compromise" to finding her Knight in Shining Armor, but decides against it because it would be a total violation of The Bro Code, and both Vulcanus and Fenrich would get all up in her face for it.
  • The reason Tails is Sonic's sidekick instead of a female character.

Web Comics


Riff: Does going after an ex-girlfriend's underwear count as "breaking best-bud rules" or "just creepy?" ... I guess it depends if it's on her.


Western Animation


Lou: Well if you just wanna talk, why don't we talk about Eddie sleeping with my ex-wife?
Chief Wiggum: I thought the divorce was final.
Lou: When is a divorce ever final?!


Real Life

  • In real life, it's fairly concrete as "mother and sister are off limits, exes are a complicated issue." Beyond that it gets pretty nebulous.
  • In the UK it's normally called "the Guy Code", and beyond "bros before hos" and not sleeping with your mate's girl, the rest comes off as more as a subconscious knowledge that men share and know automatically and without question when it has been violated.