Created By: NateTheGreat on May 26, 2013 Last Edited By: NateTheGreat on May 28, 2013

Superheroes Obey the Little Laws

They may invade a country now and then, but they always do the little things

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Superheroes break big laws all the time. They "arrest" criminals without warrants, they violate foreign airspace, they threaten foreign dictators, and so forth. But the thing that separates the true superhero from the Anti-Hero is that they respect the little laws. They pay their tolls. They do the paperwork for the government.

(Somewhat distant) Sister Trope to Nice to the Waiter.

Needs a Better Description, Up for Grabs.

  • The 1981 Spider-Man cartoon. Spidey needs to read a newspaper, so he grabs one with his webline. However, he does send a coin back down to the newspaper boy to pay for it. He could've easily stolen it, but he didn't.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series Supes and Flash are racing around the world. They're going so fast that they're nothing but a blur and a gust of wind, but they still toss coins into a tollbooth as they pass it.
  • Captain America does this all the time. From the Nice To The Water page...
    Cap hands over filled-out paperwork about the ticketed Quinjet (including the badge number of the officer who gave the ticket) and the voucher for taking something out of a prison. The accountants love him.

Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • May 26, 2013
    Usually a sign that your Superhero is Lawful Good. Averted by the Anti Hero.
  • May 26, 2013
    Would the episode of Darkwing Duck where Darkwing is split into two halves; his Actual Pacifist half doesn't mind being a masked vigilante but won't crush a bug count?
  • May 27, 2013
    • Men In Black. At the end of the scene with the jet-powered car going through the tunnel, it goes through a toll booth and Agent K throws the coins for the toll into the collection basket.
  • May 27, 2013
    That's a great trope. Definitely batgirl1 has the converse of it, in that the Anti Hero is often shown to go out of his way in the midst of an important battle to do something senselessly destructive on a small level, break a very minor law or a social convention. Maybe a better title could be "Superman Pays His Tolls."
  • May 27, 2013
  • May 27, 2013
    "They "arrest" criminals without warrants"

    In many countries - including the US and UK - any superhero could make a citizen's arrest which is perfectly legal.
  • May 27, 2013
    There's a related trope that describes the exact opposite of this, Kick The Dog, which seems to be a pretty common way superhero stories show the audience that the villain is villainous. Superheroes Obey the Little Laws is a pretty common way superhero stories show the audience that the hero is heroic.
  • May 27, 2013
    Description needs to be less complainy.
  • May 28, 2013
    You're more than welcome to edit it.
  • May 28, 2013
    Compare/contrast Evil Is Petty.