Loophole Abuse / Live-Action TV

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Wakeup Plan", after accidentally ingesting Mrs. Davis' sleeping pills, Mr. Conklin is caught sleeping in his office by the head of the board, Mr. Stone, and his assistant, Mr. Gleason. Miss Brooks successfully argues that Mr. Conklin was only seen sleeping during the lunch hour and after school - that is, on his own time.
  • In Season 4, episode 15 of Arrow, Oliver exploits something that happened at the end of a previous season that pretty much everyone in-show wanted to forget — his marriage by League of Assassins law to Nyssa. Because of their marital status, he is able to take her place in a duel for control of the League with Malcolm, ensuring that Nyssa will win and that Malcolm won't die. It proves to be one of the most successful and manipulative things the usually very direct Oliver has done.
  • The Andy Griffith Show: Barney was in danger of being deemed physically unfit for duty for being underweight (an extended case of the hiccups had ruined an attempt to pack on a couple extra pounds). The new regulation said he had to meet the weight requirement wearing uniform, shoes, and ID tag and chain. It didn't say he couldn't hang the ID tag on a three foot long piece of towing chain.
  • In the The Amazing Race:
    • During the earlier seasons, it was common to see teams like Rob & Amber (Seasons 7 & 11) and Charla & Mirna (Seasons 5 & 11) convince locals to go along with them on legs, helping them navigate past the other teams. Luckily, this loophole was closed after All-Stars.
    • During the final leg, there usually is a large task wherein the racers must put the locations they visited in order of which they visited it. In Season 17, the winners Nat and Kat whipped out a notebook they filled out and breezed through the task. This actually as not against the rules at the time, but the next time a similar task appeared, there was a rule added specifically saying that you are not allowed to use your notes during the task. (There is no rule saying you can't take notes, just that you cannot use them during a task)
    • One team had nicked another team's cab in season 10, which was not against the rules.
    • At the beginning of season 14, the task was to transport cheese wheels down a ledge. However, the racers were not penalized for simply rolling the cheese down the hill or carrying it. (Especially since the equipment broke)
  • In American Gladiators, Human Cannonball had no requirement about how the contenders hit the Gladiators. This meant most contenders swung with their feet straight out, kicking the Gladiators off the pedestal. This was allowed until a memorable injury to Malibu, at which point the loophole was closed and the contenders had to tuck their legs in.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Ivanova becomes the Green Drazi leader by grabbing the former leader's ceremonial sash:
      Ivanova: You're saying just because I'm holding this right now, I'm Green leader? But I'm human!
      Green Drazi: Rules of combat older than contact with other races. Did not mention aliens. (looks embarrassed) Rules change... caught up in committee. Not come through yet.
      • There was a Funny Background Event Call-Back to this in a later season episode in which the next Drazi "election" occurs as an unaddressed background event. At one point in the episode, Ivanova shows up to her duty station wearing the Green Leader sash.
    • Sinclair was a Rules Lawyer to the hilt:
      • He used the Rush Act, which authorizes him to use any and all military assets to end a strike by the station's dockworkers, by allocating funds earmarked for the military budget to pay for the safety upgrades which the workers demanded.
      • In the same episode in which he ended the strike, Sinclair also helped G'Kar exploit a loophole in a Narn religious ritual that the strike had interfered with, by pointing out that even though the current ritual couldn't be completed on time, the timing (dependent upon a particular solar alignment on the Narn homeworld) was conveniently just right to participate in the same ritual using the same starlight from years earlier when the alignment occurred. He also used the law against controlled substances on the station to force Londo to give up his G'Quan-Eth plantnote  to G'Kar, allowing G'Kar to complete said ritual.
      • Sinclair was quite capable of finding loopholes in military and civilian law throughout Season 1 (and made a lot of enemies as a result). This came back to bite him in "Eyes", when Colonel Ari ben Zayn (a corrupt Inquisitor General) came to investigate. Sinclair tried the usual Rule Fu; it seemed to work at first, but eventually the colonel turned the rules in his favor, forcing Sinclair to change tactics.
      • Sinclair did it again in the canon novel "To Dream in the City of Sorrows", when he became the Entil'Zha (leader) of the Rangers. Part of the ritual to become an Entil'Zha involved drinking something that was not harmful to Minbari, but potentially lethal to humans. Sinclair worked out a compromise via Exact Words: the ritual said "taste of it", so he took only a tiny sip of the drink (which was still enough to make him sick, but thankfully not lethal). And since he, in his persona of Valen, ultimately founded the Rangers, he probably arranged for that specific phrasing in the description of the ritual just so he could invoke this.
    • Sheridan also used it in Season 3 when he was ordered to 'respect the chain of command' and subsequently disobeyed Nightwatch (as they were a civilian organization not part of the military chain of command) and imprisoned its members for subverting command authority. It seems like mastery of loopholes is a prerequisite for EarthForce officers; the officer giving this order made it clear with his facial expression that he was intentionally dropping a hint with the phrasing.
    • An episode of the spin-off Crusade has Gideon receive orders to head for a particular part of space and "don't stop for anything or anyone". There is even a senator aboard who insists that Gideon follow the letter of the order (the order came through the proper military chain of command, though). When Lochley's Starfury is disabled, she sends out a distress call, with the Excalibur being the only ship close enough to help. The senator insists that Gideon leave the stranded fighter and proceed with his mission. Gideon instead performs an incredibly risky Mega-Maw Maneuver by opening the hangar doors, slowing down the ship, and using the emergency arresting fields to bring the incoming fighter's speed to a resting stop relative to the ship. When the senator finds out what Gideon is doing, he acquiesces and tells Gideon to stop and perform the normal rescue. Gideon nonchalantly tells him that he intends to follow the orders to the letter (the senator can't order him or countermand an order directly). Of course, there is an issue what is considered "stopping" in space. After all, he could have stopped relative to the fighter but claim to have been still moving relative to some distant star.
  • In the final season of Benson, Gov. Gatling used a loop hole in the state constitution's term limit language to run for a third term, since it stated that only affiliated party members were barred. It didn't say anything about someone running as an independent.
  • In an episode of Beetleborgs, Les Fortune gets tired of Nukus ordering him around, so he steals the Astral Axe and heads out to the park. After summoning Boron, he decides to have some fun, and play a game of "Simon says" with the mecha, quickly explaining the rules (as in, "only do what I tell you if I say 'Simon says' first"). Eventually, Nukus and Horribelle notice the theft and go to find him; Les tells them off, then tells Boron to crush them. Boron doesn't obey, however; he forgot to say "Simon says" first! Nukus quickly grabs the axe back and Les runs for his life.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Leonard's then-girlfriend Priya exploited various loopholes in Sheldon's roommate agreement. She and Leonard take advantage of this just so they can make Sheldon's life miserable.
    • Sheldon's agreement states that the shower can be occupied by only one person at a time, making Leonard and Priya showering together forbidden. However, it also stated that when Sheldon showered second, all reasonable adjustments must be made to ensure adequate hot water; thus, Priya argued that by sharing a shower they had ensured there would be enough hot water for Sheldon, superseding the occupancy limit.
  • The five-fingered plan in Big Brother US. Nakomis and Marvin thought up a plan that would allow them to put Jase up on the block and evict him without even giving him a chance to fight back. There was no rule saying that they couldn't nominate two people whom they had no intention of evicting in the first place, and then picking people who would use the veto anyways, specifically excluding Jase (their intended target) and then nominating Jase without even giving him the chance to keep himself off the block. Later seasons had the vetos be a random draw (so one couldn't specifically deny anyone a chance to play for veto).
    • This loophole has become effectively enshrined in the rules of the game, and is referred to as "back-dooring" a contestant, though the change to the random Veto competition rules makes it more of a gamble.
  • On Boy Meets World, Cory and Shawn somehow move Rachel's car into her dorm room as part of an Escalating War and Rachel tries to get them in trouble with Mr. Feeny but he refuses to punish them because there aren't any rules against parking a car in a dorm room.
  • On The Brady Bunch, Marcia joins Greg's Boy Scout troop because there Ain't No Rule that says a girl can't be a Boy Scout. Greg tries to retaliate by joining Marcia's Sunflower Girls Group, but he is prevented because in his case, there is a rule — not against boys joining the group, but because there is an age limit which he is too old for. Instead, he gets younger brother Peter to join.
    • At the time, there most definitely was a rule that said a girl can't be a Boy Scout. They were allowed to be Explorers starting in the early 1970s, so it's possible that Marcia joined Greg's Explorer post, but technically she couldn't have joined his Boy Scout Troop. note 
  • The later series of Britain's Got Talent introduced the "Golden Buzzer". Unlike the regular judges' buzzers, which signify rejection of an act, any judge pressing the golden buzzer causes the act to instantly pass the round (regardless of the other judges' opinions) and be granted a bye in future rounds up until the live shows. It was usually used to break ties between the judges or as an additional bonus for particularly good acts. However, when singer Christian Spridon performed, three of the judges pressed their buzzers to halt the act. The remaining judge, David Walliams, encouraged him to continue while interacting with the crowd, only for Simon Cowell to reach over and press David's buzzer, shutting down the act. David, in response, reached over and hit the golden buzzer. Since there Ain't No Rule against a judge pushing both buzzers, nor that an act has to have successfully completed to receive the golden buzzer, Spridon was sent straight to the live shows to the chagrin of Simon Cowell and the other judges. After this, Walliams became so infamous for using the golden buzzer to send rejected acts into the live shows that he was eventually banned from pushing it.
  • In an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Captain Holt describes the formation of an association for gay and lesbian African American police officers that he is the founder and president of. In flashback, we see him approach his superiors with his request for funding, only for the response to be howls of derisive, mocking laughter. In the present, Holt notes that since they apparently never actually got around to saying "no", he just took the money and started the association anyway.
  • On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, vampires cannot enter building unless they are invited. Evil vampire Angelus manages to enter the local high school by pointing out that the sign on the school reads "Formatia trans sicere educatorum", which translates to "Enter all ye who seek knowledge". As Angelus tells a character who asks how he got in: "What can I say? I'm a knowledge seeker."
    • This was either just a joke or a case of Early Installment Weirdness since it was later explained that vampires don't need an invitation to enter a public place.
  • The Catherine Tate Show: 32-year-old Bunty insists on being allowed to perform in a children's majorette team because technically there's no age limit. The club's manager points out that they'd been able to get by on common sense until she came along.
  • The Colbert Report: In a segment of Formidable Opponent where Stephen debates himself one of the Stephens argue that torture is constitutional. The constitution might forbid cruel and unusual punishment but that's not a problem according to Stephen if torture is used so often it is no longer unusual.
  • In an episode of The Cosby Show, while Claire was appearing on a local panel show, Cliff watched her in the green room forbidden by her to eat any available donuts. The janitor she asked to supervise him admitted that his own wife didn't let him eat donuts either. But he still helped himself to the pastry table:
    Janitor: (holding up a donut) This is a donut.
    Cliff: Yes, (holding up a different type of donut) and this is a donut.
    Janitor: (holding up an eclair) This is not a donut.
  • An episode of Criminal Minds has a mother abandon her teenage son (as allowed by Safe Haven Laws as he was still legally considered a child) which is something that happened a few times in Real Life before an Obvious Rule Patch was created, which only allowed parents to drop off their infant children.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the Fourth Doctor episode "The Deadly Assassin", The Doctor is accused of killing the Lord President of Gallifrey, the punishment for which is execution. However, the president had not named a successor before he was killed so an election must be held. So to put off his execution long enough to figure out what's really going on, the Doctor invokes some obscure law that lets him submit himself as a candidate so the Time Lords can't execute him until after the election.
    • During "Voyage of the Damned" the Tenth Doctor uses the robotic servants' exact orders to save himself. Confirming that they were ordered to kill the crew and passengers, he argues that he should be spared because he is a stowaway, and does not fall under either category.
  • The Drew Carey Show had an episode where the four protagonists were arrested and forced by the court to stay away from each other starting from when they left the courthouse. Oswald then decided that they should just stay in the courthouse. This trope was then subverted when the judge changed their wording to "immediately''.
  • Lampshaded in the ESPN Sports Science episode about hockey goalies: while there Ain't No Rule about what size the goalie can be, even the fattest man in the world wouldn't be able to take up enough space to block the entire goal, and average hockey players can get pucks into the spaces that he leaves open.
    • There is actually a rule that would prevent such a player from being a goalie: the rule about how large a jersey can be (and that you must wear one).
  • In Faking It, after Principal Turner forces the school to go to prom and bring dates (this is the type of school that loathes traditional school events), the students do several things to try and get under his nose: Liam decides to bring a skeleton as a date; Shane and Karma both ask a bisexual student to go on a "thruple" date to prom (though this was more motivated by both of them actually wanting to hook up with him); and someone sends a pig and a ficus plant to the prom...and they get elected homecoming king and queen.
  • On Family Matters, Steve Urkel challenges Laura's Guy of the Week to a contest to see who can climb to the top of a rope faster. The loser has to stay away from Laura forever. Steve is absolutely terrible at rope climbing, but he wins because there Ain't No Rule that says he can't use a rocket pack to fly to the top instead of climbing in the usual way. This is quite ridiculous as a way of winning a rope-climbing contest, because, well, it's not rope climbing! The guy in question never appears again, but a generous interpretation would claim that he just faded into the background like every other girl/guy of the week, and didn't stay away because he actually honored Steve Urkel's beating him in the contest. On the other hand, as a result of the jetpack, Urkel ended up in a Step by Step Crossover, a fate far worse than being dumped.
  • Firefly: When the resident minister shows up for a fight toting a rifle, he states that while the Good Book has some quite specific things to say about killing, it's a mite fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.
  • Frasier and Niles sometimes find themselves trapped by their professional codes of ethics, and bend over backwards to find ways around them.
    • In one episode, they discover that Roz's newest boyfriend is one of Niles's patients, a compulsive womanizer who loves 'em and leaves 'em, and will surely break Roz's heart; but they can't tell her, as that would violate doctor-patient confidentiality. They spend the entire episode looking for a way out, and finally find it:
    Niles: It would be so much easier if Roz were mentally incompetent.
    Frasier: Go on...
    Niles: Well, then there'd be some justification for protecting her. Is she irrational?
    Frasier: She did attack a vending machine once, when a Twinkie came out of the Oreo chute.
    Niles: Borderline, borderline. Does she ever act delusional?
    Frasier: Well, she often claims that she is responsible for the success of our show.
    Niles: Building, building. Does she display below-average intelligence?
    Frasier: She once ordered a bottle of white Zinfandel!
    Niles: Jackpot! Go to her, she's a threat to herself!
    Frasier: It's amazing they even let the woman drive!
    • In other episode, Frasier desperately wants to talk about something a patient told him, but is bound by confidentiality.
      Niles: Nothing is more sacrosanct than professional ethics. Fortunately, I know a trick to get around them. For the next few minutes, I'll be your psychiatrist. Then you can spill your guts with impunity.
      Frasier: It's borderline, but I'm desperate.
  • On The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the dress code at the prep school Will and Carlton attend says that students must wear the school blazer and a tie tied in a double Windsor knot. However, the rule does not state that the tie cannot be worn on one's head. It also says nothing about wearing the blazer inside out. Will does both.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • An extremely subtle example, in which Arya Stark forces Jaqen H'ghar to help her escape Harrenhal by naming him as his own next target. Jaqen pleads with her to retract his namenote , but she will not relent so he is forced to help hernote . Shortly after her escape however, he reappears in front of her, changes his face, and declares that Jaqen H'ghar is dead. In other words, he deliberately allowed her to blackmail him, instead of just rules-lawyering his way out — presumably because he genuinely likes her and wants to see her cleverness rewarded.
    • Earlier in the series, Ser Loras Tyrell cheats in a tournament because there ain't no rule that says you can't enter a mare in heat into a joust. Ser Gregor Clegane's stallion goes bananas and bucks him, costing him the win. Nearly backfires when the enraged Gregor beheads his horse and nearly murders Loras. Loras dodges getting called on it officially by ceding the final victory to the Hound, who had rescued him.
    • When men join the Night's Watch, they swear an oath of service for the rest of their lives ("[My watch] shall not end until my death"), and anyone who leaves is executed as a deserter. When Jon Snow is murdered by mutineers and then restored to life by the witch Melisandre, the first thing he does after executing the traitors is to quit.
    Jon Snow: I pledged my life to the Night's Watch. I gave my life.
    • This is practically Roose Bolton's specialty. When Bolton suggests flaying the prisoners for information, Robb tells him that Ned outlawed flaying in the North. Bolton counters that they're not in the North. When Walder Frey proposed a marriage deal to him, Frey offered to pay Bolton the girl's weight in silver as a dowry, and so Bolton picked the fattest Frey granddaughter he could find.
  • The South Korean game show The Genius frequently leaves intentional loopholes for the contestants to find and exploit:
    • In general, for an untied win in a Main Match, the winner gets two Tokens of Life (immunity tokens) and has to immediately give one to another player. Ain't no rule against intentionally throwing the match to help another player win in exchange for that second token.
    • Ain't no rule against bribing another contestant outright.
    • Ain't no rule against counting cards. This one comes up with nearly every card game.
    • In the deck-building game Open Pass, the card backs were slightly asymmetrical. Ain't no rule against selectively rotating some of your cards 180 degrees to "mark" them. The show even went out of its way to hold rehearsal games in which players (and viewers) could see that the dealer's shuffling technique wouldn't rotate any cards.
    • One game invited a panel of 10 guests for the contestants to interview, after which they would be challenged to give statements that were true for exactly 5 of them. Ain't no rule against giving 5 of them information to parrot back to you.
    • Ain't no rule stating "5 consecutive numbers in order" had to be in ascending order.
    • Ain't no rule against taking apart the special dice to reassemble them in another configuration, even a configuration where all 6 sides showed the same number.
    • Even when there is a rule that you can't directly tell some information to another contestant, there usually still ain't no rule against coming up with some nonverbal signaling method. (On the occasions that the game designers actually don't want any information sharing, they'll sequester the contestants in separate rooms.)
  • In the original run of Australian Gladiators, one female contestant with a gymnastics background grabbed on to one ring in 'Hang Tough', and went upside down, wrapping her legs around the chain. The gladiator was unable to remove her. While she was given the five points for staying on for the whole time, this tactic was banned from then on, due to the risk of spinal injury it poses to the contestant.
  • Apparently, in Glee there Ain't No Rule against a wheelchair user being bowled down the field like a human cannonball in football. This may well not actually be true in Real Life.
  • In Season 2 of The Great Food Truck Race, the teams were told to take some meat from a certain storage and make an original sausage to be judged. Whoever won would be given something to help out in their actual challenge. Korilla BBQ figured they had no chance against the other teams and considering they only had a hundred dollars to start their challenge, they opted to simply take ingredients from the storage to be used in the actual challenge and didn't bother making a sausage. The judge admitted that this was smart.
    • Korilla BBQ seems to be fond of this. When the contestants were given 5 dollars each and told that they could spend no more to make a single dish to be judged, Korilla BBQ raided the condiment stand.
  • In Halt and Catch Fire, Gordon tells Joe that IBM copyrighted the source code to the IBM PC's ROM BIOS; however, Gordon then tells Joe that reverse engineering can be used to get around the copyright and recreate the assembly language code of the BIOS. The duo might have gotten off scot free for copying the BIOS had Joe not deliberately told IBM about the project to force Cardiff Electric into the PC business.
  • Subverted in an episode of Happy Days when Richie, Leather Tuscadero, and Mr & Mrs C come in from playing basketball (apparently the girls won). Mr C asks Richie "where in the rule book does it say you can't dribble with two hands?" "Page One," he exclaims.
  • On How I Met Your Mother Barney is at a casino and tries to ride off on a motorcycle that was the jackpot prize for a slot machine he hadn't won. Casino security stops him, but they find they can't punish him because there isn't a rule saying you can't ride a motorcycle on the casino floor. Barney gets off scot-free, and from that day forward the casino has a "No motorcycles on the casino floor" sign prominently displayed. Ted later tells his children that there's a lot of pride in doing something so uniquely stupid that you force the creation of an entirely new rule.
  • On iCarly, from the episode iCook: There's no rule that specifically states that a full-grown adult can't wrestle in a community wrestling league. The pamphlet only recommended the activity to boys 6-10.
    • This also doesn't stop Sam from challenging the Jerkass doing so and beating him.
    • Another incident has Gibby show there wasn't any rule requiring him to wear a shirt at school. Funnily enough, they do have one against wearing turtleneck sweaters.
    • Having gone to law school (for three days), Spencer is an expert at finding loopholes:
      • "iGive Away A Car": After Nevel trapped iCarly in being forced to get him a new car they couldn't afford, Spencer finds a loophole in the FCC's definition of a new car as a 'unique vehicle that has never been state registered and can go up to 25 miles per hour under its own power'. He modifies the replica star cruiser he got off the Internet to be able to move under its own power. Because it's unique (one-of-a-kind), has never been state registered, and can go up to 25 miles an hour (proven when Nevel tries to drive it and destroys a flower shop), it technically counts as a new car.
      • This particular one occurred after an initial subversion. The gang initially tried giving him a cheap used car on the basis that it would be new for him, only for the FCC rep to inform them of their definition of a new car.
      • "iOwe You": When Sam gets them in legal trouble for soliciting money from children online, Spencer discovers they can legally keep the money if they give a product or service in return, and he just so happens to be selling fudgeballs for the Sunshine Girls.
      • "iPromote Techfoots" (formerly called "iGot A Sponsor"): When the gang is forced to talk about a terrible (and dangerous) line of shoes in a positive way which is enraging their fanbase, Spencer finds a loophole, they have to be talking about them in a positive way, doesn't say they can't reveal the faults of the shoe so long as they do it in a 'positive way'.
  • Impractical Jokers: The challenge for the Jokers was to shop out of other people's cart at the grocery story. Nowhere did it say you had to actually confront the person. Q did it by simply taking the cart and ignoring the shopper's calls as he walked away.
    • Joe uses this in a contest where one joker has to find a single item the other placed in someone else's cart. Joe waited until the customer wasn't looking...then grabbed a handful of stuff. None of them were right.
  • JAG:
    • In "Ares", Harm is told not to go to the bridge on board the destroyer because the captain doesn’t want any JAG lawyers there during an exercise. However he goes there pretending that the message was ambiguous.
    • In the episode "True Callings" when Harm realizes he is better as a lawyer, he saved a sailor from the brig by pointing out the prosecuting attorney filed the wrong UCMJ charges, such as False Imprisonment, which is applicable only to law enforcement officers and the like instead of the proper charge of Kidnapping, and pointed out how the other charge actually invalidates the prosecution's main witness against the sailor by another technicality.
    • In "Friendly Fire" Harm is selected to be a Judge Pro Tem over a case which involves a US aviator firing upon an British encampment. While reviewing the notes and evidence with Petty Officer Coates, who is his court clerk, Harm realizes a key piece of evidence is being overlooked by both sides. Reading the rules again for any guidance, Coates and he comes upon the loophole: He is forbidden from giving information that would be advantageous to one side. Noting strictly forbids him from giving information to the side it would disadvantage. So, he briefly makes mention of the report to the Prosecution, who review it, come to realize the same facts he did, and dutifully inform the Defense of the same evidence, and thus saves the aviator from being sent to prison as what he thought was a second round of fire was the British generator sparking and seeming to be an attack.
  • In the Jessie episode "The Rosses Get Real", a mean reporter named Corrine Baxter hires the Ross family for her Reality Show and edits the interviews out of context to make them fight each other and also uses embarrassing footage of them (such as Luke tripping on a vaccum whilst break dancing, or Jessie in her pyjamas and a facial mask scratching her butt in the morning). The Rosses find out about her deception and try to quit, but Corrine forbids them since she has them under contract and threatens to sue them for everything they have. So instead, the Rosses act nice so that she won't have anything mean to brodcast about them and also expose her ranting about her bosses on camera leading to Corrine firing them.
  • On Jeopardy!:
    • The rules only say that you have to answer in the form of a question; there is nothing saying that it has to be a "what is" or "who is", so things like "Is that an astrolabe?" or "¿Qué es nada?" are perfectly valid. Also, if the correct response is a question already (e.g. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"), then nothing else needs to be added.
    • Originally, contestants who were champions five days in a row retired undefeated. However, there was no rule saying they couldn't wager for the tie on their fifth game to allow a challenger to also receive winnings. At least one player did so. (Since 2003, there is no longer a cap; you stay on as long as you keep winning.)
    • A very common loophole abuse on the show is to pick clues from random spots on the board, instead of top-to-bottom. This is known as the "Forrest Bounce" by the fandom, and was notoriously employed by champion Arthur Chu.
    • If a contestant gives an incorrect response, but corrects themself before the judges or Alex Trebek make a ruling, then the correct response is accepted.
    • One episode had a contestant attempt to respond to Final Jeopardy! with the correct response "What is oxygen?", but only got as far as writing "What is O?" before time ran out. The judges decided to accept the answer since "O" is the symbol for oxygen on the periodic table.
  • There are multiple ways to circumvent Kilgrave's orders in Jessica Jones.
    • Tricking a victim into thinking they carried out his orders correctly. Jessica tricked Simpson into thinking he'd followed Kilgrave's order - walk off a roof - by knocking him out, carrying him down to the pavement and throwing them both in a pile of trashbags. When he woke up, she told him that he'd jumped, but she'd caught him.
    • Using Exact Words to convince a victim they have done everything Kilgrave asked. When he tells Trish to "put a bullet in [her] head", she finds her gun is out of bullets and tries pushing a bullet through her skull with her bare hands. Jessica stuffs it in her mouth, meaning she has a bullet in her head, thus the order has technically been carried out.
    • Making it physically impossible to carry out the order. When Kilgrave orders his father to cut out his own heart, Jessica and Trish tape his hands behind his back until twelve hours pass and Kilgrave's control fades.
  • Kickin' It: The Karate King Dojo offered free wall clocks to people who called within the next 30 minutes. Those who ordered the free clocks had to pay 99 dollars for wrapping and delivery.
  • An episode of Las Vegas has a girl win a huge prize on a slot machine that she pulled at exactly midnight on her 21st birthday, or so she thought. The Montecito's clock (which they have to follow) said that she pulled it a few seconds before midnight, so she was technically underage when she won the prize. Realizing this was unfair and could damage the casino's reputation, they have the girl star in a commercial for the Montecito, and then paid her the exact amount of the prize.
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:
    • When discussing the 2015 Canadian election, John brings up how awful Stephen Harper apparently is as Prime Minister, but also that Canadian law won't let him, as a non-Canadian citizen, to advise people not to vote for him. So he brings in an actual Canadian, Mike Myers, to do it for him.
    • In his story about the 2018 Italian election, John concludes that there are no good candidates to choose from. But, after discussing things with Italian legal experts, he finds that there's no law directly forbidding non-Italian citizens from being Prime Minister, so he throws his own hat in the ring.
  • In The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Colbert brought back his same-named character from The Colbert Report for a cameo. Viacom lawyers then showed up and barred The Late Show from using what they said was their "intellectual property". Stephen was a little confused as to how someone with his own name and face isn't owned by him, but then neatly sidestepped the lawyers by "retiring" the old Stephen Colbert character and introducing his "identical twin cousin" also named Stephen Colbert, who has the same exact personality as the old Stephen Colbert and bringing back "The Word" segment for The Late Show (retitled as "The Werd"). The fans were ecstatic.
  • In the Law & Order episode "Red Ball", a five-year-old girl is abducted, and when her abductor is arrested he refuses to divulge her location to the police or DA's office unless they agree to a deal that would see him walk free without jail time. Eventually, and after much reluctance, they agree to the deal and the girl is recovered. The judge, however, does not agree to the deal and refuses to uphold it, so the case is taken to trial and the man is presumably convicted.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • The detectives once raided a place selling mail-order "used Homecoming Queen undergarments". The Homecoming Queens in question were senior citizens, and making a bundle. They didn't say that the undergarments belonged to young girls, after all.
    • In "Svengali," ADA Novak arranges for an Attention Whore serial killer to provide testimony against another defendant in exchange for — at the serial killer's request — being transferred to serve out his time in a cushy federal prison. Novak agrees, and as soon as the trial is over, smugly informs him just how she intends to uphold her end of the deal:
      Novak: You're gonna love Florence Super Max. 23-hour lockdown, no visitors, no mail, no phone calls. No human contact for the rest of your life.
    • Cabot once succeeded in getting illegally obtained evidence admitted to secure a conviction. Arguing that while the civil liberties of the victim's mother were violated, the suspect's were not.
    • In "Bang" a man was poking holes in condoms to get women pregnant. The detectives spend most of the episode fuming because they can't find a single law that the man actually broke.
    • In "Imposter" a man pretends to be in charge of admissions at a university to take advantage of women willing to do anything to get their children into the university. Barba explains to Benson that there's no law against it, then turns around and indicts the man for rape anyway, resulting in a major What the Hell, Hero? from the judge.
  • On the game show Lingo, the object is to guess a five-letter word and spell it. Host Chuck Woolery often mentioned "it's not what you say, it's what you spell". This has led to people occasionally abusing this rule upon realizing they've accidentally declared a six-letter word ("Breath. B-R-E-A...D", which is ruled as a guess for "Bread"). One team said one word and spelled another on the fly four times in the course of two rounds, to their advantage and Chuck's amusement.
  • In Lost's fifth season finale, two mysterious characters are revealed to be pulling the strings behind certain events, effectively a battle of the Chessmasters. In the opening scene (set in the 1800s) one tells the other that he will one day find a loophole note  that will "allow me to kill you." In 2007, the Man in Black, aka the Smoke Monster succeeds in killing (or rather, convincing Ben to kill)Jacob, the leader of the Island and prior to his death, Jacob remarks that "I see you found your loophole."
  • Quite a few in Lost Girl "I Fought the Fae (and the Fae Won)", the Light Fae are hunting a prisoner to determine who will be the new Ash. The rules are that if she rings the bell she is set free, no outside interference, and the hunt only ends with her death or the ringing of the bell. Bo and her friends sabotage the voting process to reduce the number of hunters and have a friend (who wont actually hurt her) be one of the hunters. They do have outside interference, but since he was invisible that may count as Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught. Ultimately the prisoner is still killed, so they simply have Lauren revive her. The orchestrator of the event even compliments them for thinking of it.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place: Stevie's brother deliberately faints and gives Justin a marker telling him to keep it away from Alex (who wants to draw a moustache on him). Since he only told him he wouldn't give it Alex, Justin lets Max do the Face Doodling instead.
  • In the prologue of a Malcolm in the Middle episode, Malcolm and Reese are playing catch with a football in the house until their mother tells them not to. They then start throwing the football to each other on top of the house, until she tells them not to. They then start throwing the ball through the house until she tells them not to. The boys keep looking for loopholes until it ends with Malcolm and Reese in adjacent rooms, sitting at the windows, and still throwing the football to each other. Malcolm tells Reese it isn't fun anymore and Reese replies that that's no longer the idea.
    • In another episode, Malcolm is in charge of the school paper and is forbidden from publishing a certain story. He thinks it's really well written and deserves to be read, so he starts his own independent paper and distributes it as close to school as possible without being on school grounds so they have no say in whatever he publishes in it.
  • Used by Klinger in M*A*S*H when Col. Potter took command. The Colonel ordered Klinger to wear nothing but U.S. military uniforms. After enduring some issues with his regular issue uniform, he wears a female sailor's uniform from his Shirley Temple Collection.
  • Mr. Bean: Ain't No Rule stating that you can't be in a swimming pool while walking in a hamster ball.
  • In one episode of My Name Is Earl, Joy enters a mother-daughter beauty pageant. Ain't no rule that her mother has to be alive.
    • But since her mother is actually alive and the ashes she brings to the contest are from a bunch of cigars, Joy is going against the rules the entire time. She does legally take advantage of a second loophole, however, since she enters the contest as an adult daughter - it's supposed to be women and child pairs, but ain't no rule saying so.
  • On My Three Sons, Chip once joined the girls' field hockey team (in retaliation for a girl attempting to join the track team.) There was no rule preventing this, but there was a rule about uniforms, which forced Chip to play wearing a skirt, at which point Hilarity Ensued. The conflict was ultimately resolved by Chip unexpectedly turning out to be a lousy field hockey player compared to the more experienced girls, and Learning a Valuable Lesson.
  • MythBusters competitions sometimes feature Loophole Abuse.
    • Jamie's egg drop from the roof of M5 is a classic. He converted his materials to a line to lower the egg with.
      • Some Exact Words on this one as well; Jamie dropped the egg from the roof, but the competition didn't say the egg actually had to fall the entire distance. (It fell one foot, the editors obligingly included the high-speed footage in the episode.)
    • Adam justifying going over-budget on his hovercraft was also good (his finished product was within budget, but his total spending wasn't).
    • In another episode they had to use salsa (the sauce, not the music) to cut through the bar of a jail cell. As part of the myth they were allowed to speed up the electrolysis by running the current from a lightbulb through it. Jamie used a small radio (a device commonly used by the interns of many Mexican prisons) to change the current from AC to DC on the wire. His excuse being he got the radio for "good behavior."
      • This escalated to Adam "stealing" a prison vacuum engine and building a makeshift drill that ultimately failed.
    • For a ninja myth, Kari, Tory, and Grant competed to make the most accurate blowgun using "natural" materials such as bamboo. Since copper is a "naturally"-occuring element, Kari chose to put a length of copper pipe down the center of her bamboo tube. Needless to say, she won. She subverted this, though, because once she won, she admitted "I totally cheated."
    • "I'm not doing anything <X> wouldn't have done, if <X> had had power tools!" Used to justify Acceptable Breaks from Reality; the template comes from the Tree Cannon myth ("I'm not doing anything the Paks wouldn't have done, if they'd had a chainsaw").
    • For every time they do abuse loopholes, they'll just as equally acknowledge and then subvert them by ignoring them, claiming what they call "the spirit of the myth". For example, during the myth that a piece of paper couldn't be folded more than 7 times, Grant got 8 folds by folding lengthwise as much as he could, then widthwise. Tory then took it one step beyond, since the myth didn't say in half. When it came time to do the myth for real though, they all agreed that the spirit was folding in half lengthwise, then widthwise, and repeating.
      • In the same episode, Grant used tracing paper, arguing that it was "still technically paper". The large-scale test, featuring a piece of paper the size of a football field, worked because it had a similar concept; the thinner the paper is compared to the surface area (or, looking at it another way, the larger the surface area is compared to the thickness of the paper), the more folds you can get out of it. Indeed, the total number of folds they got out of the final sheet was eleven.
  • In one episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Crow and Tom use a Christmas-like carol to try to get some wassail. Mike hauls out a six-pack of canned wassail and the bots start complaining that that's not right. After a commercial break, Mike points out that nothing in their lyrics state what kind of wassail he should give them.
    • Another episode, Mike beats Pearl in a Shell Game and elects to have the movie of the week be Hamlet. Mike, unfortunately, doesn't specify which version of Hamlet, allowing Pearl to send him a poorly-dubbed, made-for-TV German rendition, purely out of spite.
  • One of the events on Nickelodeon GUTS was called "Wild Pitch" and involved players attempting to hit as many baseballs fired at them by cannons possible to win. Most of the time, the winning player would get about 9 or 8 hits. However, one contestant won with 21 because she realized that bunting the ball, as opposed to a full swing, still counts as a hit.
  • BBC proto-Reality TV show Now Get Out Of That featured this as part of the challenges themselves, which were sometimes worded very specifically to allow this.
  • Attempted by Dwight on The Office to get Kelly disqualified from a minority executive program, claiming that Indians descended from the Caucasus, so that makes Indians Caucasian, and therefore were ineligible for the program. It doesn't work.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Regina tries to get around the requirement of "the heart of the thing you love most" to activate The Dark Curse by killing her prize steed instead of her father. It doesn't work, and Regina does decide to kill her father.
    • A successful application of a loophole of the rules of the Dark Curse occurs in Season 5. Every previous Dark One exists in the current one. Since the first Dark One, Nimue, loves Merlin then Hook crushing Merlin's heart counts as Nimue crushing the heart of the thing she loves most.
  • In season 8 of French version of Peking Express, the teams must gather 5 people named Kim before being allowed to leave Jeonju. Ain't no rule stating two teams can't go to the checkpoint with the same people. Cécilia & Joel's and Gérard & Cédric's teams having found each two people named Kim work together to find a fifth and go to the checkpoint one after the other with those 5.
  • Person of Interest: The American government built a massive surveillance network spying on the entire world (including their own citizens) which is a complete black box that only provides social security numbers regarding threats to national security. Since no human ever sees anything else, technically no one's Fourth Amendment rights are being violated. Everyone involved in the program is well aware this won't actually protect them if it becomes public knowledge, though.
  • Michael Larson managed to take home $110,000 in winnings on Press Your Luck by finding and exploiting a flaw in the way in the game worked. By freeze-framing videotapes of the show and memorizing the patterns in which the light moved around the board, Larson was able to time his buzzer presses so that they always stopped on the most advantageous squares. CBS protested, but in the end, they were forced to give Larson the money because even though his win was far from kosher, nothing he did was technically against the rules. However, they promptly reprogrammed the board to make this stunt significantly harder to replicate, first by changing the modules that were used to "randomize" the board, then by upgrading the board to use more modules.
  • In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Witches Council rules seem to be made for this. They even have a rule that says "There's always a loophole."
  • One Saturday Night Live parody of lawyer commercials featuring Dana Carvey was based on this trope:
    Carvey: (wearing enormous, obvious hearing aids) "Attorney Dave Miller got me ten million dollars after he told me to ram this piece of spaghetti through my ear drums. The box didn't say not to! Thanks, Dave Miller!"
    • On another SNL sketch (a parody of ESPN Classic called "Forefathers of the Game"), Steve Martin played a 1930s-era football star called Billy "The Gun" van Goff—so called because he had a great throwing arm... and because he always carried a gun on the field. But there was no rule against it!
  • On Saved by the Bell, in a take on My Fair Lady, Zack bets Slater that he can pick anyone and Zack can turn them into a pageant winner. Slater chooses Screech! Ain't No Rule that the winner of the "Miss Bayside" competition can't be a guy! Which leads to Screech AND Slater participating.
  • The series finale of The Shield averted this one hard, at least on Vic's end. In order to qualify for immunity from prosecution, he had to fulfill all of the terms of the three-year deal to the letter, with no mistakes or deviations. On the other hand, the deal didn't determine in which capacity the Feds were required to employ him (giving them countless loopholes against him).
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Season 1 episode "Enigma":
      • The NID wants force the Tollans that SG-1 rescued to build weapons for Earth. Daniel Jackson gets away with helping the Tollans escape because he's a civilian, so he can't be court-martialed for disobeying orders, and they couldn't try him in civilian court without revealing the stargate program. And that's before you consider the problem of what, exactly, they could charge him with: as O'Neill put it, "it'd be hard to find a civilian law to cover this."
      • This is to counter Colonel Maybourne's abuse of this trope. He argues that, since the Tollans are aliens, and their nation is not a signatory to any agreements, they have no rights on Earth. An infuriated Daniel retorts, "How about basic human rights?!"
    • Ascended beings do this a lot to get around their Alien Noninterference Clause. The Ori impregnant Vala in order to sneak the Orici into the Milky Way galaxy. In "The Pegasus Project", ascended ancient Morgan Le Fay poses as a hologram to give Daniel some important information about Merlin's weapon that can destroy ascended beings in the hopes that he will use it against the Ori since the Ancients themselves refuse to interfere even when the galaxy is in danger. Vala calls Morgan out on her Loophole Abuse...repeatedly.
      Morgan Le Fay: As Doctor Jackson knows, it is against our highest law to interfere.
      Vala: But interfering a little bit is fine, is it?...Well, she's here chatting with us. That's interference, isn't it?
  • Star Trek:
    • This appears to be Kirk's policy with the Prime Directive in Star Trek: The Original Series: the Prime Directive mentions healthy and/or natural development, depending on the quote in question... which means a captain is free to argue about what constitutes natural and healthy development for a culture.
    • In "The Galileo Seven", after Kirk is ordered to abandon the search for the missing shuttlecraft and proceed toward their next destination, he directs the ship onto its new course at "space-normal speed" (i.e. a slow crawl) while continuing the sensor scans. This delays their departure enough to retrieve everyone on the shuttle before it deorbits and burns up.
    • An example in Star Trek: The Next Generation occurs in a quite different setting in the episode "Code of Honor". Tasha Yar is forced into a ritual combat to the death with a prominent native woman (Yareena) of a planet when their leader (her husband of sorts), Lutan tries to make Yar his "First One" (principal mate). Tasha Yar defeats Yareena... but Ain't No Rule says "death" can't be essentially clinical death, and Yareena is revived by Dr. Crusher on board Enterprise. According to the culture of the planet in question, Yutan's power actually derives from Yareena's land and property... and Ain't No Rule saying she can't make someone else her "First One", even though Lutan objects, as it takes away his privileged position.
      • Another incident happened in "The Ensigns of Command". The Enterprise is contacted about a race known as the Sheliak, who are quite pissed off at a colony of humans on one of their planets and one of the reasons why they haven't eradicated them on the spot is because of a treaty between them and the Federation. Evacuating the colony is impossible as the radiation on the planet blocks out transporters and Data has been sent down to try to reason with the colonists. The next best thing was a colony transport ship, but that would take them three weeks to get there and they didn't have that long. In order to gain more time, Picard goes through the entire treaty (which was 500,000 words long and required nearly 400 legal experts to write) and finds a clause that allowed them to choose a third party in negotiations. The Sheliak are shocked when Picard decides to choose the Grizzelas, a race that wouldn't be awake for another six months due to their hibernation cycles, forcing the Sheliak to begrudgingly give them the three weeks to evacuate.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, defective clone Weyoun 6 felt that the Dominion's invasion of the Alpha Quadrant was a mistake. But he's genetically programmed to serve the Founders, the leaders of the Dominion. He decides that he can have it both ways by serving Odo, since a renegade Founder is still a Founder.
    • In Star Trek: Enterprise, Archer is forced to duel with Shran after Shran claims a rite of vengeance against a Tellarite diplomat (Archer volunteered to take the diplomat's place so that the tenuous alliance he was building would hold). Archer is told that he will have to kill Shran, which he does not want to do because the Andorians will break the alliance, but finds that Andorian law says that the duel is over when one combatant is "rendered defenseless". So he severs one of Shran's antennae instead, which prevents Shran from fighting any further.
  • Strangers with Candy: Ain't no rule that says a participant in the father-student sack race can't be the cremated remains of the student's father in an urn. There is a rule that states "50% or more of the daddy must pass the finish line;" unfortunately for Jerri, at least 75% of her father's ashes had spilled out while she raced.
  • In Supernatural, angels must get permission to inhabit a person's body. Unfortunately, there's no rule against torturing people and their loved ones in order to get permission.
    • When you make a deal with a Crossroads Demon, the rules are that you get 10 years before the demon collects your soul. In "Season Seven, Time For A Wedding" one Crossroads demon has his (regular demon) partner kill them within days, thus exploiting a loophole in the deal-making process (the demon making the deal can't collect early; nothing says another demon can't). When Crowley finds out about this, he is pissed. Pointing out if word of this gets out, no one will deal with them again. Notably, he takes this out on the Crossroads one, and was mildly impressed with the demon that did the actual killing.
  • From the American version of Survivor:
    • Aint No Rule stating you couldn't look at another contestant's board during certain puzzle challenges.
    • Aint No Rule stating you couldn't bribe other contestants.
    • Aint No Rule stating you can't accidentally wander into another tribe's camp.
    • Aint No Rule stating you can't use somebody's eyeglasses and water to start fire.
    • Early in the show, someone had apparently broken a pair of binoculars they brought as their luxury item and used them to start fire. Another time, someone apparently smuggled a granola bar into the game through their luxury item. Another season, someone brought a flag that was used as a tarp (and was confiscated). Rules have been put up for luxury items since.
    • Ain't No Rule stating you can't use the other camp's fire to start your own.
    • One recent challenge had the tribes trying to balance a statuette while subsequently knocking over the other person's. If both fell, the first one to hit the ground would lose. However, it's more important to not be the first one to hit the ground. There is no rule saying you can't simply throw your statuette into the air as high as you can, then lunge for the other person to knock theirs over with both hands, making sure their statuette falls to the ground first.
    • A few seasons of Survivor have started off with a "Grab supplies as fast as you can"-portion. There Ain't No Rule stating you can't steal the other tribe's stuff when they're not looking.
    • Ain't No Rule stating you can't offer up items as a trade for fire with the other tribe.
  • In the Swedish version of Survivor, there was once a contest of sack racing. The production crew had bound coconuts in the water to the bottom of the sea close to the beach, and the presenter told the participants that they had to sack race to closest coconut, round it, and then return and the first to return should win. One participant reacted by rounding a coconut that lay under the closest palm tree and wasn't prepared by the crew. He got a special prize for creativity.
  • Teen Angel: Marty doesn't get sent to hell despite being a troublemaker in life because he was a teenager was he died, and only only troublemakers who died as adults get sent to hell. He is instead assigned to be Steve's guardian angel.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Cameron is specifically ordered by Sarah not to kill two people who may be a lead to Skynet. When they're later murdered by gangsters, within earshot of Cameron, she nonchalantly points out to Sarah that saving them wasn't an order.
  • That's So Raven: Played for laughs when Cory tries to get out of writing a long essay for black history month by repeating each word over and over to meet the hefty minimum word requirement. He quits screwing around and does it the proper way after a Dream Sequence shows him the importance of the subject however.
  • One episode of The Twilight Zone has a coach putting a robot on his baseball team as the pitcher - ain't no rule against that. But then the team doctor informs him that the rules do say a baseball team consists of "nine men". Trying to correct this by giving the robot a heart ruins it.
  • Attempted by a Wheel of Fortune contestant in the short-lived "Megaword" category — the puzzle was a long word which could be used in a sentence for a bonus. Their sentence? "The contestants did not know what the word 'proliferation' meant." It didn't work.
  • In the pilot episode for White Collar, Neal breaks his house arrest restrictions and flees to a criminal's hideout, knowing full well that the FBI can track him with GPS. When the FBI arrives to "arrest" Neal, they arrest the other criminals as well due to exigent circumstances—a clause in search and seizure law that states law enforcement has the power to confiscate evidence of criminal activity while pursuing a fugitive, even if said crimes are completely unrelated.
    • Gets a really funny Call-Back in the fourth season episode Ancient History, when Mozzie tries to invoke exigent circumstances when he accidentally crashes an FBI case.
    Peter: I love how the two of you think that law was designed as a loophole!
    • Neal Caffrey abuses loopholes in the legal system regularly.
  • Dennis is filled in on a major reason the local school system is so broken in Season 4 of The Wire: the school maintains its government funding so long as each student attends even one school day a month, so the school administration doesn't expend much effort in tracking down and penalizing students who have already hit that quota, leading to severe truancy issues.
  • In the Grand Finale of Little House on the Prairie, a railroad tycoon has taken ownership of the land deed towards Walnut Grove. Despite their best efforts, they can't sway him otherwise. In desperation, they're offered dynamite to obliterate the town and they use it. When the tycoon comes in and finds Walnut Grove destroyed, he attempts to have the officer that joined him arrest them all. However, he doesn't - he had the land deed and the land deed said nothing about the town on top of it. So, now, the tycoon had nothing but a big plot of land and a lot of splinters.
  • Todd Gack from Seinfeld has figured out a "dating loophole" where he intentionally makes a bet with a woman that he knows he is going to lose, where the loser buys dinner for the winner. This allows him to essentially go on as many dates as he wants without ever having to actually ask any women out, and therefore never get rejected.
  • In The Shannara Chronicles, the other candidates sees Amberle joining the competition to become Chosen as this. There is no actual rule against women competing, but the social taboo against it has always been so strong that there has never been a female Chosen before.
  • In the Top Gear (US) episode "Need for Speed", the hosts go to Germany for some high-speed racing, with the instruction to bring Volkswagen cars. Tanner chose a VW Golf R, described as a "really fast hatchback"; Adam and Rutledge show up with sleeker, speedier cars from Lamborghini and Porsche, respectively. When Tanner objects, they quickly point out that Volkswagen Group owns Lamborghini and Porsche.
  • A contestant on Golden Balls managed to do this. Since the final round is the Prisoner's Dilemma he convinced his opponent to go along with him... by announcing his intent to Steal rather than Share and promised to split half the money with him after the show if he chose to let him take the money, or they'd both go home broke. The host noted that it was a perfectly valid tactic, but advised against it since the Stealer had no legal obligation to follow through. It was Briar Patching - the Stealer was lying and chose Share to trick the other person into sharing.
  • In the third Horatio Hornblower series, by-the-book Bush does this a couple of times. When Horatio goes spying ashore, he tells Bush to take Hotspur home if he's not back after a certain time. Bush does retreat once a French frigate shows up, but by that time Horatio's made good his escape; Bush claims that he thought the sandglasses were running too fast. Later, the flagship signals a retreat and Bush (again in command because Horatio is salvaging a pear-shaped operation) orders the inept Midshipman Hammond to double-check the signal using the book because he thinks that the shore battery's sudden quiet is a result of Horatio's party and not a convenient lull. The boy has it right for once, but it gives time for Horatio to succeed, resulting in a change in orders.