Created By: MorningStar1337 on October 12, 2013 Last Edited By: MorningStar1337 on November 22, 2013
Troped

Precedent Excuse

A character claims having X is a reason why they should have Y. X may be taken away in response.

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A character wants a privilege, an item or something, everyone else says No, the character claims having something else as a pre-existing Justification. This goes a few ways:

  • It backfires by causing everyone to reconsider what was used as the justification, causing the possibility of the privilege in question being revoked.
  • Conversely (and rarely) people see it as a good reason and gives out the privilege.
  • In the case of letting characters in a group/place. they might do the above, or think of reasons to include the the guy that was used as justification while excluding the guys wanting to get in.

A Sub-Trope to Why We Can't Have Nice Things. Compare Rule Zero and Obvious Rule Patch (Tropes used to prevent Loophole Abuse). Compare and Contrast Grandfather Clause (where something's allowed because it has already been allowed under an obsolete precedent).

Examples

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    Comic Strips 
  • In FoxTrot, Andy grounds Peter for a week after finding out that he saw the R-rated Kill Bill Volume 2. Peter protests that she didn't get upset when he saw the first Kill Bill movie. Andy responds that she hadn't known that he saw the first movie, and that he is now grounded for two weeks.
    • Another Foxtrot example: Andy is going through the bills, horrified by the heating bill, the telephone bill, the cable bill... Then Paige walks in in a bikini, telling her that she's got her friends on a conference call if they can go to some TV-sponsored event. The next panel has Peter, Paige and Jason in heavy winter clothes watching the rabbit ear antenna'd TV, with Jason holding up a telegraph telling Paige shes has a message as Peter angrily demands to know what Paige told their mom.

     Live Action TV 
  • In the Stargate Atlantis episode "Aurora" Sheppard is thrown in jail and tries to get the guard to let him out and take him to the ship's captain. The guard says he is under orders to make sure Sheppard speaks to no one. Sheppard retorts that the guard is already talking to him so the order is already broken, the guard then walks out wordlessly.

     Web Original 
  • This Not Always Right story has a drunk bar patron try to excuse their friend's drunkenness by arguing they're more drunk than them, thus getting them both thrown out.
    Patron's friend: "Why are you kicking her out? I'm drunker than she is!"
    [Anecdote Giver]: "Then you can leave, too!"
  • On The Other Wiki, this was historically called the "Pokťmon test": when arguing about why an article should not be deleted, its supporters would say, "if we have articles about every obscure Pokemon, why can't we also have an article about this?" Since the Pokemon articles have since been merged into lists, these days it is simply called "Other stuff exists."

    Western Animation 
  • In The Simpsons episode "Homer The Great", Homer as a kid was barred access to a club because they don't allow people named Homer. Kid!Homer points out that they let a kid named Homer Glumplich in, only for the club to respond that it is called No Homers. It repeats himself at the end of the episode with the Ancient Mystic Society of No Homers.
    • This is also Parodied in the episode "Simpson Tide". When Homer joins the Navy, Bart asks him to bring him back some torpedoes. When Homer says no, Bart argues that Flanders got his kids torpedoes and Homer vows to bring him a "weapon of unimaginable destructive power". Luckily, Marge vetos it.
    • Another example is from the episode "The Great Wife Hope". In it, Marge told Bart to stop fighting with Nelson, Bart pleads that he is only copying the moves he saw at a Martial Arts match. Marge then goes on a crusade to ban those matches too.

    Real Life 
  • Many "patent trolls" (people and organizations who horde huge amounts of patents in the hope of suing people with similar ideas) have had their patents revoked by judges, who decided that they shouldn't have been awarded the patent in the first place (generally because they were so broad they could describe almost anything). As a result, a lot of them try to force their victims to settle out of court (and drop their lawsuits if they go to trial).
  • Oh, Planet Pluto. Or rather the former Planet Pluto. When Sedna and the other outer icy planets were discovered people said they ought to be planets because they were basically the same as Pluto. This caused the IAU, who didn't want too many planets in the solar system, to say that Pluto oughtn't to be a planet then.
Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • October 12, 2013
    KarjamP
    Then change its name if it's not a stockphrase. :P

    And I didn't read your post properly. :P
  • October 13, 2013
    DAN004
    Example plz.
  • October 13, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ I would list an examples, but I can't think of any fictional cases off the top of my my head. However this trope was inspired by some discussion in the MLP Crossover YKTTW and related Crossovers.Touhou page. (because at this rate, it looks like the latter wouldd be Lost Forever because of the former)

    I'll list an example to help see if there are anything similar: Bob wants a Death Ray. Alice says no. Bob points to another item (Lets just say Alice's ridiculous Robot that everyone else is having fun with) as a reason and precedent. Alice reconsiders the robot and get it taken away, to the dismay of everyone else (especially Bob who still didn't get his weapon)

    This example was pulled out of my ass as a way of illustrating the trope. It does not count as an example of a fictional work using it.

    NOTE: I've since changed the title to Precedent Excuse and expanded to include another related use regarding characters (I know of a Simpsons examples that fits with the third descriptions above) I'm considering changing the title to Precedent Fallacy somewhere along the road.
  • October 13, 2013
    gallium
    trope name is misspelled
  • October 13, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ I fixed the trope name.
  • October 13, 2013
    MorningStar1337
  • October 14, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    bumping for examples.
  • October 14, 2013
    Bisected8
    Real Life

    • Many "patent trolls" (people and organisations who horde huge amounts of patents in the hope of suing people with similar ideas) have had their patents revoked by judges, who decided that they shouldn't have been awarded the patent in the first place (generally because they were so broad they could describe almost anything). As a result, a lot of them try to force their victims to settle out of court (and drop their lawsuits if they go to trial).
  • October 14, 2013
    MonaNaito
    Comic Strips
    • In Fox Trot, Andy grounds Peter for a week after finding out that he saw the R-rated Kill Bill Volume 2. Peter protests that she didn't get upset when he saw the first Kill Bill movie. Andy responds that she hadn't known that he saw the first movie, and that he is now grounded for two weeks.
  • October 15, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Italicized The Simpsons example.
  • October 15, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ I see, thanks.
  • October 16, 2013
    Larkmarn
    • Commonly use on this very wiki. Often when someone defends poor decisions in a YKTTW, they cite existing tropes that violate the same rules... which often leads to said existing tropes being cleaned up.
  • October 16, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ I'll add it. But this trope was inspired by a recent example in-progress (One of the comments on a YKTTW for a page MLP crossovers specifically) And I'll would rather not make this fact apparent.
  • October 17, 2013
    Chabal2
    Another Foxtrot example: Andy is going through the bills, horrified by the heating bill, the telephone bill, the cable bill... Then Paige walks in in a bikini, telling her that she's got her friends on a conference call if they can go to some TV-sponsored event. The next panel has Peter, Paige and Jason in heavy winter clothes watching the rabbit ear antenna'd TV, with Jason holding up a telegraph telling Paige shes has a message as Peter angrily demands to know what Paige told their mom.

  • October 18, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ Can you link to the strip in question?
  • October 19, 2013
    DAN004
    Loophole Abuse pretty much depends on this. Rule Zero is one way to avoid it.
  • October 19, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ I'm not sue if it counts. This is someone listing something as a reason for him to get another unpopular/borderline relevant thing (and the first thing being taken away in most cases) Loophole Abuse resulting in getting something that would be unreasonable does not always result in Rule Zero being implemented (and I'm not sure if everything with rules and loopholes has Rule Zero)
  • October 19, 2013
    DAN004
    But the concept is similar, right? Loophole Abuse finds a loophole and abuses it, and Rule Zero (or Obvious Rule Patch) takes it away...
  • October 19, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    Good Point.
  • October 23, 2013
    Bisected8
    The Simpsons also parodies this with a(n almost) successful example;

    • When Homer joins the Navy, Bart asks him to bring him back some torpedoes. When Homer says no, Bart argues that Flanders got his kids torpedoes and Homer vows to bring him a "weapon of unimaginable destructive power". Luckily, Marge vetos it.
  • October 23, 2013
    Bisected8
    Also, compare Grandfather Clause (where something's allowed because it has already been allowed under an obsolete precedent).
  • October 23, 2013
    crypticmirror
    Not sure that the tvtropes example is a good idea, a bit potentially inflammatory.

    In the Stargate Atlantis episode "Aurora" Sheppard is thrown in jail and tries to get the guard to let him out and take him to the ship's captain. The guard says he is under orders to make sure Sheppard speaks to no one. Sheppard retorts that the guard is already talking to him so the order is already broken, the guard then walks out wordlessly.

  • October 23, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    Replaced the tvtropes example with the stargate one (and changed the folder to match)
  • October 30, 2013
    Bisected8
    • This Not Always Right story has a drunk bar patron try to excuse their friend's drunkenness by arguing they're more drunk than them, thus getting them both thrown out.
      Patron's friend: "Why are you kicking her out? I'm drunker than she is!"
      [Anecdote Giver]: "Then you can leave, too!"
  • November 15, 2013
    Dcoetzee
    On Wikipedia, this was historically called the "Pokemon test": when arguing about why an article should not be deleted, its supporters would say, "if we have articles about every obscure Pokemon, why can't we also have an article about this?" Since the Pokemon articles have since been merged into lists, these days it is simply called "Other stuff exists."
  • November 15, 2013
    Dcoetzee
  • November 16, 2013
    TheHandle
    So, when inconsistent standards are pointed out, the tendency is to default to the current desired standard rather than follow up on the older standard? So, when faced with such a situation and attempting to build up on previous reforms, and meeting resistance, one should avoind bringing the older reforms to attention, lest they lose those too?
  • November 16, 2013
    MorningStar1337
    ^ pretty much, yes, why do you ask?
  • November 19, 2013
    TheHandle
    Because, more than once, I propsed here tropes that built upon stuff that was previously done here, which I took to measn that more of the same would be welcome, only to find myself shot down, and, when I mentioned the antecedent that inspired me, seeing talk of that stuff getting deleted too! For some reason, this causes me a lot of distress; it's like criteria aren't consistent or something. The reasons that brought forth the originals haven't changed, so what has?
  • November 19, 2013
    CrypticMirror
    ^Is this about that darn Pony YKTTW again? This really isn't the place to discuss any perceived double standards, that would be on the forums. Although I'm not sure even there is a good place either.
  • November 19, 2013
    CrypticMirror
    Another The Simpsons example from episode "The Great Wife Hope" has Marge telling Bart to stop fighting with Nelson, Bart pleads that he is only copying the moves he saw at a Martial Arts match. Marge then goes on a crusade to ban those matches too.
  • November 20, 2013
    DAN004
    @ The Handle: That's why we don't mention Tv Tropes here for the examples. Truth is: it happens.
  • November 20, 2013
    CrypticMirror
    Oh, Planet Pluto. Or rather the former Planet Pluto. When Sedna and the other outer icy planets were discovered people said they ought to be planets because they were basically the same as Pluto. This caused the IAU, who didn't want too many planets in the solar system, to say that Pluto oughtn't to be a planet then.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=mloirexwtg92hvrxdr41g1a8