Seen It a Million Times
please add examples as you come by them.
A character is looking into the background of another character. Upon looking into them, someone will say something along the lines of mentioning that they have a spotless record, not even a minor infraction like a speeding or parking ticket. It counts just as much as if they mention that the only thing on their record is a ticket; if that's the worst they have, then it's not that bad.
This has a couple uses. It can show how saintly a character is, or it can show that they seem to be an unlikely suspect, which means that in a Police Procedural
show, well, that's another roadblock the protagonists will have to come back from. In rarer cases, it can mean that they've changed their identity and their record is so clean because it didn't exist
- Used many times in Dexter
- Very frequently used to describe Dexter's Victim of the Week, usually to handwave how the victim was Beneath Suspicion and thus slipped through the cracks.
- Doakes cites something similar to this after looking into Dexter's background. He believes that no one's record is that clean unless they've done some scrubbing.
- Quinn, being Doakes-lite, reaches the same conclusion.
- When looking into the identity of the girl that Dexter found at the home of a victim, he mentions that she doesn't have so much as a speeding ticket.
- In How I Met Your Mother, when Marshall looks into the background of Robin, he mentions that in addition to not being married, she's "not so good at parking legally."
- A late fourth-season episode of The Secret World of Alex Mack used this to describe the man sent by the FDA to review GC-161, a drug that was designed so people could eat as much as they wanted without gaining excess weight, but instead induced Combo Platter Powers. Knowing there was no way the FDA would approve GC-161, Danielle Atron and Lars conspired to inconspicuously drug his coffee and put him in a situation that would publicly humiliate him and ruin his reputation, allowing GC-161 to be pushed onto the market.
- In Red Dwarf, when Rimmer is convicted of mass murder by an automated justice system, he protests: "I've never so much as returned a library book late."
- Played for laughs on one episode of (I think it was) Law & Order: Criminal Intent. A person of interest in the Case of the Week was so squeaky clean "he even does jury duty" (referencing the joke that juries are made up of people too dumb to get out of jury duty).
- Used in Miss Congeniality to establish that the villain was untouchable which meant... well, they had to use the plot of Miss Congeniality.
- Judge Dredd: In one chapter, the Judges do a random sweep of citizens' apartments and become highly suspicious when one person turns out not only to have zero violations in his apartment, but has never broken any of Mega-City One's laws in the past.
- In Nodwick, a pair of bureaucratic devils look up the history of the Lawful Good cleric Piffany and discover that the worst thing she's ever done is squash a bug. And she did a week's penance to make up for that!