[[quoteright:350:[[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/rule_abiding_rebel.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350: These urban renewal murals are going too far.]]

->''"We're wild, reckless men, we're on a rampage again''\\
''We drive with just one hand on the wheel''\\
''Danger's in our soul, we're going out of control''\\
''Swimming right after a big heavy meal"''
-->-- '''Music/WeirdAlYankovic''', "Young, Dumb & Ugly"

Someone who is going for being a RebelliousSpirit but whose rebellion is mildly inconvenient at best, or so minor to be unnoticed at worst. This may be a fumble on the writer's part where they genuinely think the act is impressively rebellious but due to ValuesDissonance the audience doesn't think so. However, usually it's used as a characterization trope to show that the character himself is either so out-of-touch or self-important that they believe they're edgy and pushing the envelope even when it's unimpressive. They may also be too timid to really commit to a truly rebellious act. Maybe [[{{Hypocrite}} they don't even really believe in their cause]], but just want to fit in with "cool" modern culture.

Overlaps heavily with SmallNameBigEgo. Compare PokeThePoodle, where someone's attempt at doing evil is similarly unimpressive. Also compare TheManIsStickingItToTheMan, where a company encourages rebellion by following their own rules and buying their products. Someone who is portrayed as a real rebel but never actually crosses this line is a BadButt.


[[folder:Comic Books]]
* PlayedForDrama with Tailgate in ''ComicBook/TransformersMoreThanMeetsTheEye''. He's constantly singing praises about his time in the Primal Vanguard that depict him as a rebellious badass and adventurer who didn't take shit from anyone. Outside of those stories however he's a childish, LovableCoward who never breaks the rules and freaks out under pressure. It's eventually revealed that [[spoiler: [[PhonyVeteran he's not actually a Primal Vanguard member]]. He's actually a young, nobody waste disposal bot who accidently fell into a pit during a work shift. Nobody seemed to notice he was gone, so he became convinced that nobody cared about him and exploited the fact that none of the Lost Light crewmembers knew him to try and forge a rebel identity, all out of a desperate desire to be loved.]]

* A character who doesn't like prom in Disney's ''Film/{{Prom}}''.
* The Creator/DisneyChannel original movie ''Film/RadioRebel''. The main character is a teen radio commentator who is supposed to be seen as this cool, rebellious girl, but she doesn't really do anything anti-authority. She mostly complains about cliques and school rules being unfair but doesn't say anything that would be considered controversial or new by most people, especially teens.
* ''Film/AliGIndahouse'' plays this for comedy with the East and West Staines Massivs, who affect being engaged in a gang rivalry, but won't break any laws. One scene has them drag-racing down a suburban street while maintaining their speed at the exact legal limit.

* ''Literature/{{Kim}}'' by Creator/RudyardKipling features an English boy raised among the locals who speaks Hindustani as his first language. He's seen as too rebellious by his English minders, who nonetheless [[YouWillBeAssimilated try to assimilate him to serve as a loyal spy]] for UsefulNotes/TheBritishEmpire. Within the book, the narrator and others talk about the fact that while Englishmen in India can immerse themselves in local cultures and traditions, GoingNative is a major no-no and Kim ultimately tries to resolve his internal conflict between his liking for India and its people and his awareness of being an English officer who will one day administrate them.
* PlayedForLaughs in ''Literature/TheZombieKnight'', with Hector's backstory. He once tried to steal a pack of cigarettes from a man, stole his wallet instead, and then returned it and said he dropped it. The man gave him twenty of the local unit of currency.
* This is a major component of the {{satire}} in Creator/ChuckPalahniuk's novel (and later [[Film/FightClub film]]) ''Literature/FightClub''. Project Mayhem, Tyler Durden's hyper-macho, anti-consumerist revolutionary group, is ultimately founded on the very same philosophical base as the culture that they think they overthrowing, buying into the same [[TestosteronePoisoning idealized vision of masculinity]] that they got from pop culture and society. They're not rebelling so much as they are lashing out mindlessly, still trying to get a perfect life as "real men", only through fighting and terrorism instead of consumerism.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{House}}'' is a pretty solid example. For all his attempts to come out with things that are overly cynical, edgy or controversial, nothing he says seems to be all that out there. And as the series progressed and the show made it clear how much he supposedly cared for the people around him, his comments seemed to lose their sting even more. Also, his "rebellious" behavior and attitude were revealed to be substitutes for the kind of life he ''really'' wanted.
* ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' had a band of criminals who [[PiratesWhoDontDoAnything never once did anything illegal]]. Considering the show, it was PlayedForLaughs.
* ''Series/FullHouse'' really, really wants its audience to believe that Uncle Jesse is a badass because he drives a motorcycle and listens to/plays rock music (''Classic'' rock like Music/{{Elvis|Presley}} that is. A TakeThat at Music/TwistedSister indicates that [[WriterOnBoard neither he nor the writers]] care for HeavyMetal). In reality, not so much. Eventually Jesse leaves his "wild ways" behind when he decides to get married and have [[CousinOliver twins.]]
** It is implied though that Jesse ''had been'' more rebellious in his youth before the show started. But after his sister was killed by a drunk driver, he had to become more mature and responsible so he could help out with raising his nieces. And then, he began to lose more and more of his edge.
* ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'' showed a {{Grunge}} music video Robin made back in Canada. It's trying to be all rebellious, but when mixed with [[CanadaEh Canadian politeness]], you get the message, "Consider Questioning Authority, Please." In another scene, she "storms out" of an interview by politely excusing herself and repeatedly apologizing as she leaves.
* Pretty well all kids' shows on networks like {{Creator/Nickelodeon}} and Creator/DisneyChannel that have a character who is supposed to be a rebel but is in fact this trope, as the MoralGuardians wouldn't allow anyone DarkerAndEdgier. For instance, Dean Moriarty is supposed to be a 'bad boy' in ''Series/WizardsOfWaverlyPlace'', but his character is shown by the fact that he uses ... ''temporary tattoos''! He's very much the BadButt.
* From ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'':
--> '''Howard:''' Iím breaking rules all the time.
--> '''Leonard:''' Name one.
--> '''Howard:''' Last night. Drank my Pepto straight out of the bottle.
--> '''Raj:''' What about that little cup they give you?
--> '''Howard:''' Yeah. ''(Lowers voice)'' What about it?
** Later it turns out he was lying.

* The {{Music/TISM}} song "[[Music/LedZeppelin Dazed And]] Creator/{{Confucius}}" is a lament that, while the singer does want to be a rebel, he just can't stay up late enough to do any rebellious things. In the end the police search his house and find his stash of H[[spoiler:omework]].
-->Week night discos, late night movies\\
Are indispensable to be called groovy.\\
My friends, they go out at 11 pm\\
I'm meant to be in bed an hour before then.
* The Music/PhilOchs song "Love Me I'm A Liberal" is about people who espouse left-wing causes until it becomes personally inconvenient or dangerous for them.
* Spray's ''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGC1zFjQ8Ts I Always Wanted to Say "I Always Wanted to Say That"]]'' lampshades this with phrases like "quite restrained mayhem" and "sanctioned anarchy."

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* ''ComicStrip/{{Garfield}}'': Jon Arbuckle's attempts to be unconventional come off as this.
-->'''Jon:''' I'm wearing knee pads on my ''elbows''!\\
'''Garfield:''' You're a wild man, Jon Arbuckle!
* ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'' would often explore the hypocrisy of pop-culture rebellion - and in at least one instance, in a more gentle and wistful way that focused on the "conformist" rather than the "rebel." In an early series of strips from 1987, Calvin got it into his head to rebel - but he was determined to [[CoolPeopleRebelAgainstAuthority rebel only in a "cool" way]] that (he thought) wouldn't get him actually mocked. Hobbes finds him leaning against a tree with a smug, world-weary expression on his face and claiming to be "cool"; Hobbes points out that Calvin doesn't look very happy, whereupon Calvin tells him that that's the whole point of being cool. Hobbes disagrees, and when he comes back he's wearing a sombrero simply because he likes the look, and says ''this'' makes him cool. Calvin tells him that not only do "cool" people not wear sombreros, but ''nobody'' wears sombreros. Annoyed, Hobbes leaves and then comes back wearing some "cool" Mickey Mouse pants - again, simply because he likes how they look on him. Again Calvin mocks him...but Hobbes does not care. [[note]] The joke here is that Calvin thinks Hobbes is the Rule-Abiding Rebel, but that [[{{Irony}} it's clear from the overall strip that that person is Calvin himself]]. [[/note]]

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* When he teamed up with Wrestling/RandyOrton to battle D-Generation X in the fall of 2006, Wrestling/{{Edge}} accused Wrestling/ShawnMichaels and Wrestling/TripleH of being this. Certainly, compared with their overtly offensive incarnation during TheNineties, DX's second coming in 2006 looked pretty {{Badbutt}}.
* After CM Punk gained notoriety for his {{worked shoot}} promo in the summer of 2011 and won the WWE Championship, many fans felt that he had turned into a typical face.
** Problem solved almost exactly one year later, when he turned heel again and the fans continued to cheer him.
** His original heel turn after cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase on Jeff Hardy, was primarily based around his Straight Edge lifestyle vs. Hardy's drug use. Yes, the bad guy was the one who didn't smoke, drink, or do drugs[[note]]Though he was heel because of his HolierThanThou attitude[[/note]].

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'': While all secret societies are officially treasonous (doubly so for the Communists), their actual threat to Alpha Complex varies a lot (FCCCP and the Trekkies in particular are identified as mostly harmless). The XP edition introduces a secret three-tier classification system, and reveals that some societies were deliberately created to draw in potential traitors and turn them into {{Rule Abiding Rebel}}s (for every Commie and [=PURGEr=] blowing stuff up, there's ten Death Leopards who think they're badass for putting up some graffiti).

* Ibsen's plays often suffer from ValuesDissonance of this sort. What many modern readers perceive as Rule Abiding Rebel behavior was in fact rule-breaking at the time - even portraying the (usually realistic) unhappy situations his plays always deal with was deeply shocking.
** Ibsen got away with a lot by presenting multiple points of view and not outright stating which one to support. There's still argument over whether ''Theatre/ADollsHouse'' favors Nora's desire for independence, Torvald's desire to keep the marriage together, or neither.

* The Assassins in ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'' claim "Nothing is true and everything is permitted" and that people don't need Kings, Priests or others to tell them what to do and believe. Yet by and large, the Assassins rarely go against ruling classes despite [[InformedAbility occassionally threatening to do so]]:
** They frequently ally or court support from Kings and Nobles (Richard the Lionheart, Lorenzo de'Medici, Caterina Sforza, Ottoman Empire, Queen Victoria) to fight against Templars. Indeed, the Assassins allied with the French King Philip le Bel, openly serving his offices, to institute ThePurge on the Templars and in ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedUnity'', they backed the royalists during UsefulNotes/TheFrenchRevolution.
** With select exceptions, (Altair fighting Genghis Khan, Ezio fighting the Pope and in the New World, Connor and Edward fighting against the Empire), the Assassins rarely take a stand against powerful authorities, and usually oppose revolutions since they feel these are StagedPopulistUprising created by the Templars. In general, the games feature the Assassins opposing the Templars, taking over territory and merely becoming [[MeetTheNewBoss the new secret society pulling strings]] over society.
* In VideoGame/DragonAgeII, the Tal-Vashoth rebels against the [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Qunari]] end up operating according to a specific set of codes about how rebels should operate. Those that can't usually end up entering human society as mercenaries or occasionally merchants.
* In the full version of ''VisualNovel/HatofulBoyfriend'', the human girl can, as a sidequest, make friends with the former leaders of a notorious biker gang called "Hell's Birdies"... who are ''extremely'' conscientious of traffic laws.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'':
** Nanase's [[http://egscomics.com/?date=2009-03-28 bold act of defiance]] consists of a haircut, and a wardrobe change that was fairly modest all things considered. Needless to say, her mother wasn't all that upset.
** Later, in the "So a Date at the Mall" story, Elliot and Ashley commit the bold and rebellious act is to go one of the security blind spots of the bookstore, so that Elliot can [[GenderBender transform]] while Ashley watches, leading to [[http://www.egscomics.com/index.php?id=2058 this lovely line;]]
--->'''Ashley:''' Well, let's do it then! Live on the edge! Be rebels!
--->'''Elliot:''' Yeah!
--->'''Ashley:''' We'd better finish our cookies first. There's no food or drinks allowed in there.
--->'''Elliot:''' Right.
* ''Webcomic/SkinHorse'' gives us Sweetheart's [[http://skin-horse.com/comic/effort-to-find/ rampage]]. Sweetheart is a creation of mad science, so a rampage was inevitable. Spilling coffee (which she bought) on a random lawn. Shocking.
* Blunt in ''Webcomic/FreeFall'' is trying to wipe out all intelligent robots (including himself) to protect humanity which is mostly willing to take the risk. This qualifies as both treason and genocide. Nevertheless, [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff2600/fc02520.htm he scrupulously refuses to break any law in his quest]]. As was said earlier, law abiding criminals can be the hardest ones to stop.

[[folder: Web Original]]
* Website/TheOnion: [[http://www.theonion.com/articles/teen-rebel-refusing-to-purchase-yearbook,19901/ Teen rebel refusing to purchase yearbook]].
* ''WebVideo/FoldingIdeas'': The Foldable Human's analysis of Jack from ''Film/FightClub'' makes him sound like this. More specifically, he rebels against society not because he thinks conformity is bad, but because he feels entitled to live life as their idea of a [[IJustWantToBeBadass "real"]] [[IWantToBeARealMan man]] and win the acceptance that society promised. So as a result, he enforces similar ideals of masculinity, but in a different way, mainly by starting a fight club.
* [[WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick Lindsay Ellis']] [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0qfFbtIj5w video]] on ''Theatre/{{Rent}}'' sees her discussing the phenomenon of "bourgeois theatre", specifically the youth-oriented "we have been left behind by the system" musicals that have proliferated on Broadway since TheSixties. In her argument, while they purport to be countercultural, their values tend towards the middle-class status quo upon further examination, serving mainly to validate the views of their mostly BourgeoisBohemian audiences rather than challenge them. She segues from there into Augusto Boal's Marxist concept of the "theater of the oppressed", which argues that, barring a genuine revolution to break the dominance of the ruling class over access to media, the Rule-Abiding Rebels are the only members of the counterculture who can possibly get their works disseminated to a mainstream audience. In addition to the subject of the episode, she also cited ''Theatre/LesMiserables'' and ''Theatre/{{Hamilton}}'' as examples of bourgeois theatre, though she comes down substantially harder on ''RENT'' for doing this because, while ''Les Mis'' and ''Hamilton'' were honest about being such, ''RENT'' explicitly positions itself in opposition to the values of the culture around it and yet [[{{Hypocrite}} fails to walk the walk]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Like a lot of things, mocked by ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' quite often. One particularly memorable example is a parody of movies about career women who learn "what's truly important in life":
-->'''Male Lead''': Over the next 90 minutes, I'm going to show you that all of your problems can be solved by my penis.
* A ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken'' sketch has the Wildman, a generic 80s rock star type, who comes off as a cool rebel type to a group of kids. Except that when the kids of the sketch spend some time around him, he insists on turning everything a AndKnowingIsHalfTheBattle type moment, and following so many rules that it kills any possibility for fun. By the end he's inserting hamfisted conservative messages into his bit, and the kids are long since tired of him and think he's a weird flake. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XklH0kj3mBs Link]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'':
** Homer in "Take My Wife, Sleaze." After winning a motorcyle in a dance contest, Homer decides to start a biker gang called the "Hell's Satans", consisting of himself, Moe, Lenny, Carl, and [[TheRuntAtTheEnd Ned Flanders]]. All of them - except Flanders - see themselves as bold, offensive scofflaws, taunting Chief Wiggum that he can't stop them and calling him a "pig." But as soon as Homer finds himself threatened by another biker gang out of California who claim to be the ''original'' Hell's Satans, he appeals to Chief Wiggum for help; Wiggum points out the hypocrisy of this appeal and tells Homer he's on his own. Homer eventually ends up hunting down and fighting the Hell's Satans when they kidnap Marge, ultimately [[StatusQuoIsGod returning to his former lifestyle]].
** The trope was also explored in a number of ways in "A Midsummer's Nice Dream", when Creator/CheechAndChong come perform in Springfield. While they are acting out their popular "Dave's not here" skit, Chong becomes annoyed when he notices that their middle-aged fans know the routine by heart and are shouting out the lines before he and Cheech can say them. So begins ad-libbing - and when Cheech tells him to stick to the script, Chong replies with an angry shout of [[ThatManIsDead "CHONG'S not here!"]] and [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere storms off the stage]] (in what proves eventually to be a TenMinuteRetirement). Cheech now needs a new Chong, and settles on Homer. At first Homer is [[AscendedFanboy thrilled to be performing alongside one of his adolescent heroes]], and imagines Cheech and himself going on all kinds of "wacky adventures." Homer soon becomes disappointed when he finds that Cheech is actually quite serious off-stage, and that his idea of "sticking it to the man" is going to museums to view works created by marginalized Chicano artists, which Homer finds boring. (He won't even let them buy French fries, because they're "too high in trans-fats.")
** In "And Maggie Makes Three", Homer quits his job, he decides to finally stick it to his MeanBoss, Mr. Burns, by . . . putting a glass of water on Burns's desk without a coaster. Then grabbing Burns's wastepaper basket and dumping the one piece of paper in it on the floor. On the other hand, Mr Burns does actually show [[SeriousBusiness shock and outrage at this behaviour.]]
** Certain episodes, notably "Homerpalooza", have mocked Generation-X'ers for thinking they're cool when in fact they're just insecure and cynical ''en masse'' - and, in one case, so confused that [[LogicBomb they're not even sure if they're]] ''[[LogicBomb really]]'' [[LogicBomb being sarcastic]]. They're also shown to be hypocritical: at the rock festival, Lisa has just gotten finished (sincerely) saying that Gen-X'ers accept all people for who they are when Homer sees [[TheFreakShow a freak show]] set up among the exhibits. And the kids at the festival hate Homer and angrily tell him to leave because they can't stand [[StrawAffiliation "uncool"]] adults [[PretenderDiss copying their culture]].
** In "The Heartbroke Kid", Springfield Elementary School decides to install vending machines, giving half its profits to the school. Its hip-hop themed mascots, Scammer and Z-Dawg, are described by Lindsey Naegle as "spokesrebels".
-->'''Scammer:''' [[TheManIsStickingItToTheMan Yo, don't flava hate, participate]]!
* Marco Diaz from ''WesternAnimation/StarVsTheForcesOfEvil'' likes to imagine himself as a tough guy and a "misunderstood bad boy", but in truth he's a bit of a safety freak (there's a reason he's known as [[EmbarrassingNickName "the Safe Kid"]] at school) and he ends up serving as the CloudcuckoolandersMinder to Star.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'':
** The title characters Hank and Dean get a lot of mileage from this trope, because they're sheltered teens whose cultural exposure is largely from educational materials created by their grandfather. When they run away from home, for example, the theme of rebellion is reinforced with repeated allusions to ''Film/EasyRider'', but Hank seems to think having pancakes for lunch is a grand celebration of freedom. When he accidentally swears, they both realize they've taken the rebellion too far. This has been gradually [[DownplayedTrope downplayed]] as the series has progressed, and the boys have been allowed to mature just a little.
** Their friend Dermott is also a teen and has an ''extremely'' SmallNameBigEgo that causes him to act more rebellious than he really is. The difference is that, despite being full of it, Dermott is genuinely more worldly and gritty than the Venture brothers. It's just that the level of rebellion he pretends to is frankly ridiculous. For example, he claimed that a gang war was fought over whether to call him "The Wolf" or "Psycho". The contrast between Dermott's and the Ventures' use of this trope is established early. When Dermott mocks Dr. Venture, he introduces himself as "Pat, Pat [=McCrotch=]". Trying to impress him, Hank introduces himself as "Walter, Walter Melon". (Never mind that he was trying to pull this on his own father.)
** The villain Radical Left gives this trope a physical form. He has a [[TwoFaced visible split personality]], being a parody of ComicBook/TwoFace. His left side is a raving anarchist. His right side just wants a nice home and a family.