Loophole Abuse / Live-Action Film

  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, John Connor makes the T-800 swear that he won't kill anyone. Programmed to obey John Connor, the T-800 agrees, and promptly follows it up by Knee Capping a security guard, since John only ordered him to not kill anyone.
    T-800: He'll live.
  • In the film adaptation of Dick King Smith's Babe, Farmer Hogget plans to enter Babe in a herding contest for dogs... despite Babe being a pig with an odd talent for sheepherding. He was concerned that the entry papers might say Name of Dog, because he couldn’t in good conscience put "Pig" down for that. The form, however, says Name of Entry. So Farmer Hogget is in the clear: it never asked you to specify that you were entering a dog.
    • This was in the book too, with the added comment of people possibly remarking "Pig? That's a funny name," without realizing it was the honest truth.
  • Batman Returns: The Penguin assures Catwoman that he will scare the Ice Princess when they kidnap her. But notice that he didn't say scare her but not kill her.
    "She looked pretty scared to me!"
  • In RoboCop (1987), the villain Jones secretly programs a fourth directive into Robocop that prevents him from harming Omni Consumer Products personnel, which keeps Robocop from arresting him after revealing his involvement in the death of rival colleague. Later, Robocop goes to a board meeting where Jones is, not to kill him because of the fourth directive, but to show damning footage of his wrongdoing. Conveniently Jones had earlier told Robocop what exactly the classified fourth directive contains, and nothing in his programming is preventing him from spreading this information further. When Jones tries to take the CEO hostage, the CEO fires him. Since Jones was no longer employed at OCP, that meant the fourth directive no longer applied to him, which meant Robocop could finally give him his comeuppance.
  • Cain in RoboCop 2 uses the same tactic on a subordinate who failed him. When his mistress protests that he said that he would only scare the guy while he's having him cut open with surgical tools, Cain flatly states "Doesn't he look scared?"
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:
      • Barbossa uses and subverts this. Like all good rules lawyers, Barbossa has no problem with the rules bending—as long as they bend in his favor.
        Barbossa: First of all, returning you to Port Royal was never part of our negotiations or agreement, so I must do nothing. And secondly, you have to be a pirate for the Pirate Code to apply, and you're not. And thirdly - the Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.
      • Plus, his agreement to release Jack and Elizabeth... with no specification about when or where, so he just maroons them on an island. They're lucky he didn't "release them" to the sharks.
        Barbossa: Don't dare impugn me honor, boy! I agreed she'd go free and it's free she'll go! It was you who failed to specify when or where.
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest:
      • This was Jack's "Plan A" to honor his deal with Jones, and the value of one hundred souls.
        Gibbs: "And how do you intend to harvest these ninety-nine souls in three days?"
        Jack: "Fortunately, he was mum as the condition in which these souls need be."
        Gibbs: " Ah. Tortuga, then?"
        Jack: (Wipes slime on Gibbs) "Tortuga."
      • He tried it on Jones earlier in the film, but Jones wasn't having any:
        Jones: "You have a debt to pay. You've been captain of the Black Pearl for thirteen years. That was our agreement."
        Jack: "Technically, I was only captain for two years, then I was viciously mutinied upon."
        Jones: "Then you were a poor captain, but a captain nonetheless! Have you not introduced yourself all these years as Captain Jack Sparrow?"
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: Rules Lawyer Barbossa knows the pirate's code so damn well, he's able to pull this on Jack, even going as far as to tell Jack's Dad on him, who happens to be the Keeper of the Code and scary beyond all reason. Jack makes Barbossa regret this by pulling a dragon right back on him.
    • In the same film, Jack tires to invoke this with Jones, saying that their debt was settled when he was taken to the Locker, no one said he had to stay there. Jones didn't agree to it and took him prisoner.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the 2009 Star Trek film, the Kobayashi Maru test. Starfleet actually had to add a "no reprogramming the simulator" rule after Kirk's shot at it, and according to the Expanded Universe, this kicked off a whole tradition of loopholing the scenario. Not only that, but it became an expectation of any student to find a way to beat the simulation with outside-the-box thinking.
  • In the opening to Star Trek Into Darkness, Spock cops to Kirk and Bones violating the Prime Directive by rescuing him in broad daylight before a primitive alien species, yet still argues the point that they wouldn't have been violating the wording of the Prime Directive had they not been detected. Because then the natives would never have known that the Enterprise crew had interfered with their development by saving them from extinction. Admiral Pike doesn't buy it, feeling the spirit of the law was more important, and Kirk ends up getting demoted off the captain's chair....temporarily, only to get it back to pursue Khan after Pike is killed.
    • Later on, the Vengeance is bearing down on the Enterprise and turning it into swiss cheese. Carol races onto the bridge and begs to contact Admiral Marcus, who is not only captaining the Vengeance but also her father and he wouldn't attack them if she was on board. Marcus' solution? Teleport her over to the Vengeance, then keep shooting.
  • In the Swedish movie The Call-up, the protagonists (who are doing their military service) are out on exercise and need to drive back to base. The quickest way back is over a bridge, but the bridge has been declared destroyed (and everyone is supposed to play along) and a guard refuses to let them pass. Their solution? They drive to a hardware store, buy some paint, and paint the words "Helicopter" on the truck. The guard can't stop them crossing that way.
  • In The Dirty Dozen the named dozen are in war games when they switch their armbands to the other side's color and infiltrate their headquarters. When questioned on this tactic, they reply, "We're traitors".
  • In Air Bud, there is apparently no rule against a dog playing basketball. Probably because no one ever thought that would come up ever.
  • In the movie Winning London, the Olsen twins have to save some "hostages" as part of a Model UN convention/competition. As it's all pretend, the hostages are just in the next room over, so they take the literal approach and climb through the air vents to save them. After coming back into the room, one boy shouts "You said we had to work it out on paper!", to which the official responds "No, I said you had to work it out."
  • Flubber where the professor put flubber on the shoes of his school's basketball team when they are losing an important game. As a result, the team suddenly find themselves able to easily make impossibly high jumps to win the game. Although the coach of the opposing team protests this development, the stunned referee refuses to stop play because there is no rule that establishes a height limit of players' jumps, even though it is obvious this sudden advantage for the team appearing mid-game must be be the result of some kind of external aid that is likely against the rules.
  • The same happens in the original version, The Absent-Minded Professor
  • Semi Pro:
    • Ain't no rule says you can't play drunk. Well, there is a rule, but they can't enforce it. ("Remember those 30 free throws I did in Minnesota last year?" "Yeah?" "I don't.")
    • When they first use the alley-oop, the ref rules it a violation, although the protagonists are ready and throw the rule book at him. The ref is forced to allow it.
  • In the movie Blades of Glory there ain't no rule saying two guys can't skate as a pairs team. note 
  • In Zoom, in the final scenes of the movie as we see the 'Happy-Ever-After' scenes for each of the super-powered kids, we watch the expanding boy playing soccer as the goalie and being the team hero, as there Ain't No Rule against being able to expand your body parts to block the entire goal so no shots can go in.
  • Shows up in the ending to Juwanna Mann, where a male basketball player is forced to play for a WNBA team, crossdressed, and wins the final game for them. He wins by making a slam dunk, which IS forbidden in WNBA rules. In fact, it was brought up earlier in the movie that he could NOT score using slam dunks. Which is a departure from real WNBA rules, which do not prohibit dunks. It's just that very few women can dunk on a 10-foot rim.
  • Necessary Roughness and Waterboy. Ain't no rule that a man can't play football among boys! In Necessary Roughness, the rule is the NCAA eligibility rule, which states that a player begins his eligibility the day he first enrolls in college. So technically, though Blake was 34 years old, he's a "freshman" to the NCAA; he has three full years of eligibility remaining after the movie. A notable real-life example is Chris Weinke, who played six years of minor league baseball (for which he would not have been eligible to compete at the NCAA level) before enrolling at Florida State and becoming a quarterback in football (for which he still was eligible.)
    • Also no rule against women playing in Roughness, as Lucy, a women's soccer player, joins the team. It's even lampshaded by Robert Loggia's character. This is true to life as well; there have been a handful of female kickers at the college level in real life.
  • In D2: The Mighty Ducks, the Ducks try on new uniforms (which were the uniforms of the just-created Anaheim Ducks, which in the timeline of the films were not yet invented) for the third period of the final game (they before had been Team USA). Despite the opposing coach's protests, the play-by-play announcer notes that he has "just been informed that there is no rule against changing uniforms during a game".
    • In many sports there actually isn't a rule about changing uniforms halfway through. Some teams raise money for charity by doing this and then auctioning off one set of uniforms after the game. Usually, though, they're duplicates of the same uniform, and teams generally don't wear different uniform designs during the same game.
  • In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Butch is about to participate in a knife fight with Harvey, a member of his gang challenging him for leadership. Butch starts walking towards Harvey and claims that first they have to get the rules straightened out. Harvey thinks the idea of rules in a knife fight is so dumb that he lowers his guard and bellows that there are no rules. Butch immediately kicks Harvey in the groin, states that if there aren't going to be any rules it's about time to start the fight, and finishes off Harvey before he can recover from Butch's sneak attack.
  • Subverted in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Not only is there a rule against getting out of the car and running, but they're both disqualified for it. Double subverted in that neither cares, and still count it as a moral victory for Ricky Bobby.
  • In the 1986 film Lucas, scrawny 14-year old Lucas Bly takes advantage of a school district rule that says that school sports teams must allow any child with an interest to play in order to join the school football team in a misguided effort to impress the girl he has a crush on. The coach is reluctant, as Lucas can best be described as "scrawny", but it forced by the school district to let Lucas onto the team. The first time he actually plays, though, Lucas is injured so badly he requires hospitalization. There might not be a rule against scrawny runts joining a football team, but maybe there should be.
  • Jason constantly does this to Kelly in Mystery Team.
  • Several times in Fright Night (2011). Vampires can't enter residences without an invitation, but there's nothing against pretending to be delivery boys, attacking victims in abandoned houses or blowing their homes up.
  • Done by Griphook in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 after he double crosses the trio during the raid on Bellatrix's vault at Gringotts.
    Griphook: I said I'd get you in. I never said anything about letting you out!
  • In Lord of War, the Interpol Agent pursuing Yuri accuses him of exploiting a loophole in international arms trading laws by shipping military vehicles and their armament separately so they don't count as prohibited/embargoed heavy weapons.
  • In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale has, apparently, a requirement for the magi that they must serve a king for them to be able to use magic. Gallian reveals that the beastly Krug have no king, so he simply crowned himself as their king. Thus, he serves the best master he can think of - himself. The rules never specified it must be a king of humans or that the magus himself couldn't be king. Of course, it's also implied that only a madman like Gallian could have accepted such twisted logic enough to allow his powers to work. And Gallian doesn't deny that he has gone mad but actually uses his madness to boost his power.
  • In Jack the Giant Killer whoever wears the crown of King Erik controls the giants. However, this does not make them entirely obedient, and they could find ways of killing the wearer of the crown indirectly, or simply standing by and allowing the wearer to be killed.
  • Alvin And The Chipmunks The Squeakuel. Apparently there Ain't No Rule against a football quarterback throwing the ball with a teammate also holding onto it, which is the only way Alvin's game-winning touchdown is allowed. Granted, such a rule is likely not needed given one would have to have the strength of Hercules to throw the ball and another player together unless said other player was, well, as small as a chipmunk.
    Actually, there is a rule against assisting the ballcarrier's forward progress, you can't push him from behind, or throw him (e.g. Over the pile at the goal line.)
  • In Down Periscope, Lieutenant Commander Dodge fired off two torpedoes at the conclusion of a war game right before a targeting solution from the opposing ship destroyed his submarine. The win condition was to destroy the target in the harbor those torpedoes hit.
  • In Thor, Heimdall is ordered by Loki to not activate the Bifrost for anyone. When Sif and the Warriors Three need to help Thor out on Earth, he sticks his sword in the controls and leaves, essentially leaving the keys in the ignition for them. Later, he takes advantage of having taken an oath to obey the king. When Loki, the acting king, fires him, Heimdall attacks, since he's no longer bound to obey him.
  • Heimdall is good at this, doing it again in Thor: The Dark World, where it's his sworn duty to notify Odin of any crime against the throne. So he summons Odin to the Bifrost to report that he's committing treason, i.e. by luring Odin away from the palace and not reporting the treason Thor and the Warriors Three are engaging in.
  • In Bad Words - a former loser of a spelling bee finds and sets out to exact revenge after learning that a certain age isn't listed for an upcoming spelling bee.
  • In Into the Woods, one of the items is hair as yellow as corn silk... except there Ain't No Rule saying it has to be human hair, as actual Corn Silk works.
  • This is the big problem in Dogma: God is infallible. Whatever He/She says, goes and if two Angels are to be banished to Wisconsin for all eternity, so be it. However, a church in New Jersey is celebrating its 100th anniversary and allowing those who enter its church to be absolved of all sins. Loki and Bartleby's plan is to essentially dump their wings, pass through into the church and voilà, purged of all sins and allowed to get back into Heaven. Of course, by doing that, it proves God is fallible and destroys reality as a result.
  • The title character in Mister Roberts, with the deal he made with the Captain to get shore-leave for the ship's crew: while he agreed to not write any more letters requesting reassignment, he never said anything about not throwing the Captain's prized palm tree overboard.
  • The Terminal: Dixon asks for Viktor's help in dealing with a Russian man who went into frenzy when the airport confiscated pills for his father because he didn't have proper documents. After the man is neutralized, Viktor, having read the rules, is able to save the guy by getting him to say the medication is for a goat, since animals don't require documentation for medicine. Soon afterward, everyone in the airport salutes Viktor as "the goat" for defying airport regulations.
  • In Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, this is the reason for the Red Queen deciding to team up with Alice. Her programming keeps her from harming Umbrella Corporation employees, even though she wishes to stop their Evil Plan, but Alice isn't tied by any such Restraining Bolts, so providing her with vital information helps the Red Queen carry out her desires by proxy. Also, in a similarity to the RoboCop (1987) example above, during the climax Alicia Marcus takes the time to remind everyone she owns half of Umbrella, and promptly fires Wesker; as he's now technically no longer in Umbrella's employ, the Red Queen is able to deploy her security measures and kill him.
  • In Stroker Ace, the eponymous character tries to find his way out of an unfair contract which his sponsor uses to promote business more aggressively. Lugs tries to have five or six different lawyers find these in the contracts wording only to be told that Stroker's best chance is to get Clyde Torkle to fire him (quitting activates a clause which says Stroker can't race for the next three years). Stroker then starts using the contract to his advantage by humiliating Torkle with a couple idiotic advertising gags (the contract only says that he has to sell chicken; it fails to mention how he should do it) and hiring Pembrook as part of his pit crew just to piss Torkle off.
  • A meta example from Fight Club. The character Marla Synger's line to Tyler Durden after having sex for the first time was supposed to be: "I wanna' have your abortion." But an executive at Fox Studios thought that was too crude and ordered the director to change it. He agreed on the condition that the correction could not be corrected. Thus, Marla Synger ended up saying: "I haven't been fucked like that since grade school."
  • Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man finds Dr. Raymond Cocteau's annoying, and his view of a perfect world, boring and bland, but Phoenix can't kill him because of his psychological programing prohibits him from personally harming Cocteau. Then this happens:
    Phoenix: That's it. That's who you remind me of, an evil Mister Rogers. Will somebody please kill him? Tosses gun to a Mook, who shoots Cocteau dead
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie, Zordon is worried as the Rangers failed to stop Ivan Ooze's escape and he's heading for the Command Center. Alpha reassures him — no one can enter the Command Center without a Power Coin. A split second later, Alpha turns around and sees Ivan slipping in through the cracks of the Command Center doors.
    Alpha 5: Um... almost nobody!
  • In Exam, the candidates are told that they will be disqualified if they talk to the invigilators and/or deface their own question paper. One of the candidates works out that there is nothing stopping them talking to each other or from defacing a question paper belonging to a different candidate. This leads to scenes of the candidates talking to each other about how to pass the exam and defacing the other candidates' question papers by shading the papers and wetting them.