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Loophole Abuse: Real L Ife

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    Bets and Contests 
  • It's actually fairly common to declare "no-loopholes" for events that involve a small number of people and simply disallow any attempt to get around the rules on a technicality.
  • The IOCCC (International Obfuscated C Code Contest) has a separate yearly award for "worst abuse of the rules", which is awarded precisely for invoking this trope. Obviously, this means the rules will be amended for the next year. For instance, one year's winner is the world's shortest self-reproducing program, which turned out to be a zero-length program which indeed generates a zero-length output. Therefore, contest entries must now be a minimum of one byte in length.note 
  • In 1984, Michael Larson was a contestant on Press Your Luck and he had some of the episodes recorded prior towards his appearance and he watched to see if the patterns were at random; they weren’t. CBS admitted that he wasn't actually breaking any rules so they couldn't do anything.
  • The Real Hustle shows why you should never accept a bar bet, especially if it involves money. Don't accept a "I'll bet you that you can't do X action" unless you already know the loophole abuse to be able to do it, and never, ever accept a "Wanna bet that I can't do X action?" bet because your opponent already has a loophole ready to be abused to succeed.
    • An old hustle which involved betting that some random guy can't do everything you can. Touch your nose. He touches his nose. Lick your glass. He licks his glass. Take some drink. He takes some drink. Spit the drink back out...
    • Another proposition bet is betting that you can drink 3 full beers before your mark can drink three shots. The only rule: you can't touch each others' glasses. As long as you can drink one glass before your opponent can drink their three shots, you can then put your empty glass over one of their shots, they can't remove it, and you can drink the other two beers at your leisure.
  • There's an old joke that goes "Should you ever accept a bet from a man who says he can bite his own eye? No, because he'll take out his dentures and do so, thus making you lose the bet. Should you ever accept a bet from a man who says he can bite his other eye? No, because then he'll pop out his glass eye and bite it, making you lose another bet.
  • The American Music Awards abused a loophole of their own in 2009 — the nominations are based on radio airplay and album sales, and the winners by an online fan vote. Thus, Michael Jackson and his album Number Ones got five nominations and ultimately four wins. The abuse? Number Ones was a Greatest Hits Album released in 2003 (there was only one new song on it), and the only reason Jackson got all that airplay and sales was because he had just died, but there's apparently no rule preventing old material from getting nominations. Complaints that nominating Jackson wasn't fair to artists who had brought out successful new material in the eligibility period and that the AMA's were piggybacking on his death for press and ratings were shouted down by fans saying that the AMA rules were rules and this just proved Jackson's superiority.
  • No rule says a woman can't be prom king.
  • The Burma-Shave company danced very close to this in one of their more famous moments. They ran a jingle that said anybody who could send in 900 empty Burma-Shave jars, they would send them to Mars. They believed that it was simply impossible, but they didn't count on a supermarket owner getting a town to return their empty jars for him. Burma-Shave racked their brains, trying to find a way to get themselves out of this and still save face. They mercifully found a small town in Germany named "Moers," which was pronounced like "Mars." The grocer was happy he got a free European vacation, Burma-Shave got a ton of good publicity, and everybody went home happy.
    • A similar situation arose with Pepsi in 1996 with its "Pepsi Points" promotion. The commercial portrayed a high school kid flying a Harrier jump jet to school with the caption "HARRIER JET—7,000,000 Points". Enter John Leonard, who purchased 7,000,000 Pepsi Points under the rules of the promotion and attempted to claim his Harrier. The case was ultimately settled in federal court in Pepsi's favor (and likely the Pentagon would have blocked the transfer of a flight-capable, state-of-the-art military aircraft to a private citizen in any case, especially since acquiring 7,000,000 Pepsi Points would have cost significantly less than the $30 million unit cost for a Harrier). It also made clear that advertisers had to add 'prize not actually available' legal language to the commercials from that point on to ward off claims of this type.
  • There was the rather infamous case involving a contest for Hooters employees - they were told (never written down) that whoever sold the most beer would win a Toyota. Cue the winner being taken to the parking lot blindfolded, only to see a Toy Yoda sitting on the ground, with the manager claiming it was an April Fools' joke. The resulting lawsuit was settled out-of-court for an undisclosed sum.
  • The true story of two co-workers who bet $250 on the outcome of a sporting event. The wager allowed for the loser to use a portion of the proceed to purchase lunch for the rest of the office, but not the whole $250. Without having the portion of the wager that could be spent on lunch defined, the loser of the wager spent $247 on lunch and gave the winner the remaining $3.
  • There's a rather simple card trick where the dealer performing the trick looks at the 4th card from the top of the deck before starting the trick. Through some deceptive card movement, they then arrange for that to always be the "randomly chosen" card of the person they're tricking. The dealer then encourages the other person to mix their card back into the deck and shuffle it however they like and for as long as they like. The dealer says that he will go through the deck and guess the correct card and begins turning them over one by one, placing the cards face up on the table. While doing this, the dealer will turn over the chosen card and appear to ignore it, continuing on to other cards. Then the dealer will then randomly stop while holding a card in his hand, and declare that the next card he turns over will be the card chosen at the start of the trick, and asks if anyone would like to bet about him being able to do this correctly. When someone jumps at the chance since the chosen card is lying in a pile of discarded cards, the dealer promptly reaches into the discard pile and turns the chosen card over.
    • Or (and this is much easier) the magician will somehow glimpse at the bottom card (known as a key card) then control the cards such that the key card juxtaposes the selection so that the magician will know what the selection was, with the disadvantage of the other person being unable to shuffle the cards freely (unless the magician could control then cop out/in the pair).
  • If you count an insurance policy as a bet, this story works. The very first life insurance policy ever issued was issued to William Gybbon in London in 1583 and was for a period of one year. When Gybbon died on the 364th day of the contract, the insurance company tried to loophole out of paying the policy out (equivalent to over $100,000 today). Their loophole was that they sold the policy based on 28 days per month (a lunar year) versus 365 days (a solar calender year). They lost in court.

    Military & Warfare 
  • Spartan boys were purposely underfed and kept hungry, and could expect vicious beatings if they were ever caught stealing food. The correct solution was not to tough out the pain and weakness of constant starvation, but to develop the skill and cunning to steal food without getting caught.
  • The Norwegians pulled it in february 1814. According to the treaty of Kiel, Norway had to be handed over to Sweden after an international agreement set by Russia, Sweden and The United Kingdom. Denmark complied to it after some use of force. When the danish prince regent in Norway wanted to make himself king, as frontsman of a Norwegian independence movement, he clearly tried to pull one himself. Being quite Genre Savvy, the Norwegians reminded him that he had forfeited any claims to the throne of Norway, and had to be elected. The result came in form of the Norwegian Constituent Assembly. This was a loophole made possible by The French Revolution, and that was about to change the view of international law. Even the military had to comply - and the Swedes accepted it with a grumble.
  • Finland pulled this on Germany late in World War II. The Northern country was on the Axis side without a formal alliance, saw the writing on the wall, but needed aid from Germany to get out of the war without being steamrolled. The Soviets had launched a huge offensive and the Finns did not have enough weapons and ammo to fight. Germany was distrustful to give Finns their weapons, for obvious reasons. So President Ryti said "As long as I am in charge, Finland won't make peace with the Soviets". The Finns stopped the Soviet advance; then Ryti resigned, Mannerheim was elected and commented "Personal vows of my predecessor do not bind me". Technically, this is true, as long as it was simply a personal vow. Generally on the international system, nations don't act on personal vows.
    • Earlier in the war Finland was sorely in need of additional weaponry. Sweden had the weapons to spare and the will to help, but at the same time they wanted to remain officially outside the conflict for their own safety. As per international conventions regarding this sort of thing, supplying military hardware would make them Finland's ally in war and open Sweden up for Soviet offensive, but selling weapons was a different matter. However, nowhere did it state any limitations for the price one way or another. Thus, Sweden sold weapons to Finland for the price of exactly one Finnish markka. Sweden's government was also apparently worried that the things they were up to to help Finland would be regarded as against them being neutral (Sweden was not exactly subtle about which side their sympathies were on) — so they called themselves non-belligerent instead.
  • The clever Germans abused numerous loopholes during the interwar period to build up their armed forced before completely repudiating the Treaty of Versailles. (Some of these methods however were actual violations of the Treaty, just difficult to prove):
    • Developing rocket artillery to replace banned gun artillery, and calling them "Smoke Screen Throwers" to boot.
      • That one is called the "Nebelwerfer" in German, which is accurately translated with "Smoke Screen Thrower", but also might be a reference to Rudolf Nebel, who developed it. There's a bit of uncertainty about it. However, both interpretations fit this trope.
    • Developing powerful, long range, fast "pocket battleships" that could outrun regular battleships.
      • This actually was exploiting a loophole, helped by Technology Marches On - the Versailles treaty stipulated that the largest battleships Germany was allowed to build had to be no bigger than 10,000 tons, which under 1919 conditions would have meant a slow coastal defense vessel. A decade later, when it had become possible to build large ships by welding steel-plates together instead of using rivets, thus saving weight on the hull and enabling them to install a larger engine, creating "pocket battleships" became possible, which were in effect small battle-cruisers.
    • Shortening the service obligation of soldiers in the army so that, while the army remained small on paper, it was building an unofficial reserve of trained men it could quickly call up in case another war broke out.
      • This had tradition in Germany. When Napoleon Bonaparte defeated Prussia, he forbade her to have more than 42,000 men under arms. War Minister Scharnhorst found a loophole, the so-called Krümpersystem: Soldiers were drilled for a few weeks, left the army, and new ones were trained. Thus, after a short time, Prussia had many well-trained soldiers again (knowing about this, the Allies forbade Weimar Germany such a system - their soldiers had to serve for ten years, period).
    • Developing new weapons systems by subsidiaries in neighboring countries and Russia.
    • Developing new tanks as "agricultural tractors".
    • Organizing a "labor corps" larger than the allowed army to drive the tractors and drill with shovels on their shoulders on the basis that... there might someday be an agricultural need for this? The weeds needed to be intimidated? When it was time to start the war, the labor corps knew how to march and take orders, and just needed to learn to shoot.
    • Developing several models of high-speed advanced civilian air transport planes, that, strangely, only had space for 4-6 people and looked exactly like tactical bombers.
      • An air force was banned by the treaty, but training thousands of pilots in a gigantic aerial mail carrier system was not.
    • Perhaps the most audacious: reconstituting its General Staff (abolished by order of the treaty) in the guise of a human resources office.note 
    General Hans von Seeckt: The names change, the spirit remains the same.
    • One reason the rest of Europe allowed this loophole abuse was, despite the fact that German militarization was considered a threat, the huge losses of the previous war made everyone squeamish and desperate to avoid it. And as long as Germany wasn't attacking...
  • Finland abused the loopholes on the Paris Peace Treaty 1947 in a similar way.
    • The size of the armed forces was limited to 34 000 men. Conscription tour of duty had so far been thirteen months. Finland shortened the conscription tour of duty to eight months, so more men could be trained to soldiers for reserves in shorter time without the quality of the soldiers suffering and exceeding the limit.
    • Peace treaty prohibited paramilitary organizations, like National Guard. Finland replied by relaxing her laws on hunting clubs and owning hunting rifles and shotguns.
    • The treaty limited the air force strength to 60 front line combat aircraft. Two-seater trainer versions were not counted towards this limit - did anyone ever wonder why Finland had so many advanced fighter trainers?
    • The treaty prohibited bomber airplanes with internal bomb bays. It did not prohibit fighter-bombers...
    • The treaty prohibited having motor torpedo boats. Finland developed vessel class "motor gun boat" which looked exactly like a motor torpedo boat, except it had a large gun on fore deck and had no torpedo tubes. The torpedo tubes could be installed on one hour's warning time.
    • The treaty prohibited having large minelayers. All passenger cargo ships and RO-RO vessels built in Finland had (and have still) attachment points for mine rails - they can be converted in minelayers within hours.
    • Åland Archipelago was to be demilitarized. Nobody asked why Finland developed quickly Airborne Rangers and Coastal Rangers for long range operations. Such as occupying the aforementioned archipelago in an hour.
  • Ain't no rule that says a penguin can't be Colonel-In-Chief of the Norwegian King's Guards and receive a knighthood.
  • Ain't no rule a bear can't enlist in the Polish Army. (NSFW version)
  • Ain't no rule that says a dog can't be enlisted in the Royal Navy.
  • Ain't no rule against a goat being a British soldier. (To the Royal Welch Fusiliers, their goat is not a regimental mascot, he is a fully-enlisted member of the Regiment with his own pay-book)
  • Ain't no rule that a cartoon character can't serve in the Marines (as Bugs Bunny did during World War II).
  • There wasn't a rule for a lot of things in the US Army, until Skippy came along. And some where he was quite surprised to find there was a rule.
  • After the devastating casualties suffered from the use of poison gas in World War I, a treaty was signed banning the use of chemical weapons, the deadliest weapons of the day. However, this treaty failed to keep up with technology, and after protests against bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was noted that there ain't no rule against using nuclear weapons.
    • The US had, at one time, never actually signed a treaty banning production and use of chemical weapons (including that section of the Geneva Conventions). It wouldn't have been a treaty violation even if it had been chemical weapons being usednote .
  • In a campaign in Northern Africa during World War II, the Germans were upset to find a particular branch of Salt the Earth strategy: every oasis they came to had a sign in English stating that the oasis had been poisoned by the British army. When they complained that poisoning water constitutes a war crime, the British pointed out that there was absolutely nothing forbidding putting up false signs.
  • In World War One preexisting treaties banned the use of poison gas shells, but did not ban the deployment from canisters, which had not been considered at the time of writing. The later blanket bans closed this loophole.
  • The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, was negotiated in the wake of World War One by the remaining major naval powers (Britain, the United States, Japan, France and Italy) to prevent another naval Arms Race like the one preceding the war (and believed by many to have contributed to it). It was extended with few changes by the London Naval Treaty of 1930. With few exceptions it entirely prohibited battleship and battlecruiser construction for 10 years, and carefully prevented aircraft carriers (which had yet to be developed into truly viable combatants) from being constructed as battleships in all but name. As a result, cruisers became the primary focus of the world's major navies. Much effort was put into avoiding loopholes, but a significant one was overlooked by the negotiators (but not by the naval designers): while both heavy cruisers (defined as being armed with 8-inch guns or smaller) and light cruisers (armed with 6.1-inch or smaller guns) were limited in size, only heavy cruisers were limited in number, and the size limit was the same for both types. As a result, the three largest navies (US, British and Japanese) all decided that, once they reached their limits on heavy cruisers, they would built very large "light" cruisers, using essentially (or in Japan's case, entirely) identical hulls to the heavy cruisers, that would make up for their smaller guns by carrying a lot more of them. While heavy cruisers of the era were armed with an average of 9 8-inch guns, the US and Japanese "light" cruisers were armed with 15 6-inch or 6.1-inch guns. The British "light" cruisers were originally going to as well, but were cut to 12 6-inch guns late in the design process to save money.
    • Japan even took it a step further, building several 8-inch guns and turrets as spare parts for their heavy cruisers. When Japan withdrew from the treaty shortly before World War II, the 6.1-inch turrets were removed and replaced with the 8-inch ones, thus having 4 new heavy cruisers with 10 8-inch guns.
    • The Treaty also encouraged loophole abuse of a different sort, with the US at least. The US had few aircraft carriers at the time of the treaty, and the limit on them was rather high. The limit was unofficially increased, since the US could pass off at least a few of these carriers as "experimental" vessels, on which there was no limit. As a result, the US began spamming carriers—a development only encouraged when (after the end of the treaty) many of the Navy's Pacific Fleet battleships were destroyed at Pearl Harbor. And that, indirectly, is why the United States has as many aircraft carriers as the rest of the world combined.
    • And that's not even getting into the exploitation of loopholes that didn't actually exist. Italy was in the habit of launching their cruisers for sea trials without any weapons installed, meaning that their ships weighed in at just inside the 10,000 limit...until they were actually combat-worthy, at which point their weight far exceeded the allowed number. Japan preferred not to fool with such trickery, and instead just lied about the ships' weight.
  • One exercise used in the Canadian Forces Officer Training Course from time to time setting up a rope bridge across a river consisting of a single rope to walk on and another to hold on to. As can be imagined, getting across such a structure is difficult. In one case, the officer in charge of evaluating the officer-cadets was a jerk who insisted the entire group get across even thought the ropes were stretching to the point it was nearly impossible, and if someone slipped (but was held up by their safety carabiner), they were to be hauled back by their safety line and forced to try again. One cadet who slipped halfway across, before he could be hauled back, pulled his legs up over the top rope and pulled himself across the rest of the way. Realizing they were only told to get across the rope bridge, not that they had to walk across it, the remaining cadets were very quickly dragged across as they hung from the upper rope.
  • No rule says a woman can't be a yeoman.
  • The Montreux Convention prohibits the passage of "Aircraft carriers" through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits. The Soviet Union, being the Soviet Union, responded by making Kiev-class "Aviation cruisers", which are Missile Cruisers which just happened to carry aircraft.
    • And then they took the trope Up to Eleven with the Admiral Kuznetsov class, which is a full-sized aircraft carrier with an absurd amount of anti-shipping and anti aircraft missiles, and Point Defense Systems.
  • The Japanese ran this as their primary legal argument before the League of Nations justifying their invasion of Manchuria in 1931. Their resident international law expert (a Briton who disagreed with post-World War I norms of International Law) ran with the language in the League of Nations charter banning aggressive warfare in sovereign nations by pointing out that the part of China they invaded had been run by a warlord with only loose connections to Jiang Jieshi's recognized Nationalist government. In short, ain't no rule against invading something that isn't really a "country." The argument didn't take.
  • The post-war Japanese constitution bans the country from maintaining a military. Ain't no rule saying they can't have a self-defense force, however. The specifics are that they can't have a military capable of striking from outside their own borders, making the military they do have a defensive force by default.
    • "Outside Japan's own borders" is a somewhat fluid concept, since Japan is perfectly willing to claim that the Senkaku Islands are Japanese, while China sees Diaoyu Islands as intrinsic parts of China. They're the same islands, and nobody cared at all about them before oil was discovered under the ocean floor near them. The islands in question are 250 miles from Okinawa, 550 miles from Kyushu (the nearest of the main islands that make up Japan), and about 150 miles from mainland China.
    • Japan has also sent forces out of its territory as part of UN missions, which are considered non-offensive by default. That said, these forces generally have to be placed in the middle of some other country's forces, so that even if attacked, they can claim it was purely self-defense.
    • Japan is also forbidden (by way of their own laws) from having an aircraft carrier. But there's nothing in there that says they can't have a helicopter carrier. Japan officially calls these ships "helicopter destroyers", and claims their use is purely for anti-submarine warfare. However, there's nothing in there that bans Japan from developing a VTOL aircraft of their own, which would officially be a land-based fighter that might have to stop on these carriers to refuel or rearm in an emergency... you get the idea.
  • Use of of fragmenting, explosive, or incendiary munitions in small arms is forbidden under the Saint Petersburg Declaration of 1868. Except it has five loopholes:
    • the declaration binds the signatories to not use said munitions against each other. Meaning it's perfectly legal to use the banned rounds against non-signatory countries (like San Marino, Iraq or the United States), rebels, terrorists and other criminals (or, if they were feeling particularly tyrannical, against their own people);
    • the declaration bans use of those munitions against personnel, meaning that the banned munitions may be used against vehicles, supplies, and other materiel, and accidentally hit enemy personnel (actually used by Norway to allow its snipers to use the explosive-incendiary Raufoss Mk211 round: they are instructed to use it against enemy materiel and not personnel);
    • the munitions are banned for use in small arms. Use of fragmenting, explosive, or incendiary munitions in machine guns or small-caliber autocannons is perfectly legal;
    • the declaration specifies munitions with a weight smaller than 400 grams, meaning someone could just build a bigger BFG firing bigger munitions. Thankfully, exploitation of this loophole would just be silly (anti-materiel rounds weigh about 40 grams and the rifles firing them are enormous), preventing its use due simple stupidity;
    • any country not having signed it could use the banned munitions. And the signatories are just a small group of twenty countries (please do not debate here if the successor states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire are automatically included). That, as noted above does not include the United States.note  Thankfully, non-signatory countries tend to abide to it anyway, due the use of fragmenting, explosive, or incendiary munitions in small arms being unnecessary cruel and expensive, so only loopholes 2 and 3 have ever been used, and only in extenuating circumstances (the soldiers using said loopholes just not having time to swap magazines and using a permitted munition).
  • And of course, these types of loopholes can be intentionally left open - though in that case, it's more contingency planning than anything else, and it's not abusive if it's being used as intended.
  • Ogedai Khan, the son and successor of Genghis Khan, was once approached by one of his brothers out of concern that he was drinking too much, which says something because the Mongols had a well known history of alcohol problems. Eventually Ogedai agreed with his brother's terms that he would only drink one cup in the morning — and proceeded to have an extremely large cup made for him. Not surprisingly, Ogedai's early death is thought to have largely been due to his alcoholism.
    • The Mongols also believed that shedding royal blood would being curses upon them, so their preferred methods of executing royals were carefully designed to avoid spilling any blood, and included things like drowning a former Empress regent who attempted a coup on Genghis' grandson Mongke at his coronation in a felt sack thrown into the river, and Temujin himself was said to have dealt with his rival Jamuka by either having his men roll him up like rug and beat him until he died, strangling him to death or breaking his spine over his knee.
  • In what would become The Vietnam War, the US sent military advisors and older aircraft to Vietnam, training them in their use against Communist forces. The American interpretation of international law at the time was that to be legal, any aircraft engaged in combat had to have at least one crewmember be from the nation that the aircraft officially belonged to, even if the rest of the crew were American advisors. It was not unheard of for some local soldier to be parked in the back seat of the plane and told not to touch anything while an American pilot flew the mission.

    Myth & Folklore 
  • There is an old story (with several variations) about a mathematician, a physicist, and an accountant competing for a job, and they were tasked with measuring the height of a house as precisely as possible to get it. The mathematician measured the house's shadow and calculated it that way, while the physicist dropped two steel orbs and timed the fall. The accountant looked up the blueprints instead, and got the job.
  • Another story tells of a student who was asked in a final examination to describe how to measure a skyscraper's height via barometer. His original answer: tie a string to the barometer, lower it from the top to the ground, measure the string, add the length of the barometer. The instructor objected, he counter-objected, and an arbiter was called in. The student proceeded to suggest:
    • Drop the barometer off the edge and determine the height by how long it took to fall.
    • Use the similar-triangle-shadow method everyone hates from Geometry.
    • Swing the barometer like a pendulum, and work it out from the gravitic force.
    • Mark off the building's height in barometer-lengths.
    • Knock on the janitor's door and offer him the barometer in exchange for telling the student the height of the building.
      • The expected answer is to measure the difference in air pressure (which is how aircraft altimeters work). Unlike the more "creative" methods, this one will provide an answer in meters using only the barometer.
      • It's also the only one that actually requires a barometer; with the others, any object of similar size and weight would work.
      • The story is often told with Danish Nobel Prize-winner Niels Bohr as the student, but this is an urban legend. Snopes has a page about it.
    • Terry Pratchett told this as an alien fairy tale in Strata. All the princes trying to win the princesses hand tried the 'difference in air pressure method', but weren't accurate enough and were killed. The winner offered the architect the barometer in return for telling him the height of the tower.
  • Another joke involves a mathematician being asked to enclose a flock of sheep using the least amount of fence. He builds a small fence around himself and declares, "I define the side I am on to be the outside."
  • A joke involving a particularly unpopular village head goes thus: One day, while he was walking around the village at night, a young man bumped into him, and claimed that he couldn't see him because it was too dark. The next day the head passed a rule saying, everyone walking on the streets at night must carry a lantern. That night, the same man bumped into him again, and showed the lantern to the annoyed village head and pointed out that there is no rule that the lantern should have a candle. The village head made an Obvious Rule Patch the next day, saying that the lantern must also have a candle. That night, the man bumped into him again, and this time the Loophole Abuse was that the rule doesn't say the candle has to be lit. The embarrassed head cancelled the rule on the following day.
  • An old Irish joke takes advantage of this:
    Murphy and Flannery hated each other with a burning passion. To help end the fighting, God sent an angel down to Murphy to help nudge him to repentance and reconciliation. The Angel said to Murphy: "Murphy, m'boy, God has told me that you may pray for any one thing you wish, and you will receive it. However, whatever you get, Flannery will get twice as much." "So, angel, lemme get this straight," Murphy replied. "Does this mean that if I ask to be the head of one dockside union, Flannery will be the head of two?" "Yes." "And if I win the Irish Sweepstakes once, Flannery will win it twice?" "Yes." And if I get a brass band following me, he'll..." "Have one in front of him AND behind him," said the angel.
    Murphy thought for a moment. "All right, angel, I've made my decision. I'd like a glass eye!"
    • There's further Loophole Abuse to be had when you realize that Murphy never specified that the glass eyes had to replace the real eyes. The angel could just as easily make glass eyes appear and hand them over.
      • A variant has the wisher ask to be blind in one eye, which is also open to Loophole Abuse by the angel/genie due to his lack of specification as to how long the blindness should last.
    • Other variations of the joke (usually with the person getting double being a lawyer) have Murphy asking for a ton of money, a ton of success, and then to be scared half to death.
      • Or to be shown something so funny he'd laugh himself half to death.
      • Or to donate a kidney.
      • Or to be beaten half to death.
    • And there's a variant about a wife who loathes her husband had the wife ask for a light heart attack.
  • A poor man inherits a barren, rocky land plot as his sole source of income. Hearing his laments, the Devil (or a lesser demon, a troll, or some other evil creature depending on the version) promises to make it fertile in exchange for half of the harvest - specifically the "half" that grows above the ground. The farmer agrees but plants potatoes, and the Devil is left with worthless leaves. The Devil protests, and they agree that next year he'll receive the half below the ground. The farmer plants wheat, and the Devil is left with the roots. The Devil protests again, and they agree that next year each will take as much of the harvest as they can collect from the ground, the farmer starting on one side of the plot and the Devil on the opposite. The farmer plants wheat again... and places iron bars on the Devil's side that are hidden by the fully-grown wheat. When harvest comes the Devil still gets a ridiculously small amount of the wheat, because even though he brings every other demon in Hell to help him cut the wheat their sickles and scythes just keep breaking by trying to cut the irons. The Devil decides that farming is more trouble than is worth and renounces his part in future harvests.

  • Loophole Abuse was what made The Knights Templar the richest organization in Medieval Europe, and in the process created the modern concept of banking. They were originally organized as a peacekeeping force in the Holy Land, charged with protecting the new wave of Christian Pilgrims making the journey to Jerusalem after the end of the First Crusade. Many of these Pilgrims were either rich people looking to go on a new fashionable journey, or else were simply traveling with all their earthly wealth on them. So the Templar mandate extended to protecting their money and private property as well as their lives: they would often hold onto a person's valuables for safekeeping until they were out of danger, sometimes receiving a generous "donation" for their troubles. As a Holy Order, they were technically bound by a Vow of Poverty, and therefore forbidden to earn money or own property. But this idea of "managing" wealth was such a new concept, and such a gray area under Church Law, that they were able to finagle a distinction between "managing" and "owning." By taking the valuables entrusted to them, and managing them "on behalf" of their patrons, they became wealthy as an organization while still technically being able to claim they owned none of it themselves.
  • In the Middle Ages (and until recently in some parts of Europe), people got around the prohibition to eat meat on Fridays and during Lent by eating frog, turtle, waterfowl, water vole and beaver. Fish is allowed during Lent, and the reasoning was that anything caught fishing was, well, fish. Likewise, in South America people ate capybara (an aquatic rodent that the Church allowed them to count) and alligator on Friday for this reason. And the reason of allowing fish in the first place was that otherwise, poor fishermen would have nothing to eat (or sell) on Friday or the month of Lent.
    • Even today, the prohibition only applies to the meat of warm-blooded animals. Reptiles are fair game, and so crocodile jerky has become a popular Lenten fare in the southern US.
  • Medieval rabbis had to forbid spouses who had divorced from remarrying each other to prevent this. Though extramarital sex, and thus wife-swapping, is prohibited by Jewish law, kinky medieval Jewish couples figured out there wasn't a rule against divorcing, marrying someone else for the night, and getting remarried in the morning. Until Deuteronomy 24, which patched the hole.
    • The evil version of this is a rapist forcibly marrying a woman, raping her and repudiating her immediately. This has been alledgely done by Al-Qaeda-linked groups in Afghanistan and Northwest Africa, waving around the fact that poligamy and wife repudiation are legal under Sharia law.
  • Islamic law prohibits usury—defined as loaning money for interest—in no uncertain terms. However, it does not ban making a profit. Cue these workarounds:
    • Murabaha (profit-making): Abdullah wants to buy a house. Basil has the money. Basil buys the house, and then sells it to Abdullah on an installment plan.
    • Ijarah thumma al-bai` (rent followed by sale): Abdullah wants to buy some equipment for his medical practice. Basil has the money. Basil buys the equipment and rents it to Abdullah. After the rent has paid down the cost of the equipment and a bit of profit, Abdullah agrees to make a final payment securing title to it. (It's a rent-to-own agreement.)
    • ''Mudarabah mutanaqisah" (diminishing partnership): Abdullah wants to start a business. Basil has the money. Abdullah and Basil form a partnership, with Abdullah being the managing partner but Basil holding a larger, silent stake. Abdullah buys Basil's share in the partnership bit by bit until he owns the business outright.
      • And so much more: there are at least half a dozen Islamic financing arrangement that are not technically secured loans, but really, they're secured loans. The permissibility of each of these is a subject of hot debate, but most scholars accept that at least a few of them are OK...again, despite the fact that there is virtually no economic difference between them and a regular secured loan.
  • There is an Urban Legend from the time when Pope Paul VI had forbidden the contraceptive pill. A young and more progressive priest told the young women in his parish to simply crush the pill to powder, arguing that the pope had not said anything about powder. The actual rule bans all forms of contraception and actually dates back to the early days of the Church.
  • There is an urban legend that says that at a time, people circumvented a law forbidding to raise pigs "on the land of Israel" by raising them on platforms, and that the law had to be changed to ban this as well. Nowadays, it is illegal to raise pigs in Israel except for a small area in the north inhabited by Christian Arabs and in scientific institutions. Even the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, who prides itself in holding all animal species mentioned in the Bible, has to use non-native American peccaries as stand-in for pigs, and there have been overzealous visitors who tried to harm them by throwing plastic knives in their pen.
  • Under Catholic Canon Law, all bishops must be assigned a diocese, an area of land that they are supposed to oversee. However, the Law does not say if that area of land need to contain any church, or indeed, any people at all. Therefore bishops who work exclusively in administrative matters and bishops who really screwed up are assigned to these so-called Titular Sees. Special note goes to the Diocese of Partenia, which has been buried under the Sahara since the 5th century.
  • Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol... or, to be specific, "fermented drinks made with fruits or grains". Rum is made using sugar cane, and vodka using potatoes. Sugar cane and potatoes being neither fruits nor grains, some Muslims say this makes them fair game.

  • Anyone that has circled 'X' when teachers told you to find it. Mathematicians will surely applaud such an answer...
    • Done by this anonymous Brazilian student: [1] It turned into an meme, but there's no way of knowing if this is from an actual test or just done as a joke.
    • An interesting variant of this can be done while still getting full credit (maybe even extra credit if your teacher has a sense of humor) by an intelligent enough student in any high school physics. Physics professors love to ask "what force causes this interaction." They probably expect an answer like "friction" or "centrifugal force" but 9/10 it is technically accurate to answer electromagnetism. There are actually only 4 forces in the known universe, two working on such small scales as to be negligible to the macromolecular world; thus every interaction in the world that you witness is either caused by gravity or the electromagnetism. The other 'forces' taught in physics are specific examples of electromagnetism (and/or gravity) behaving in a specific manner. It can be fun to answer electromagnetism to these questions and then prove your cause when the teacher tries to not give credit.
      • For even more fun, electromagnetic force, weak nuclear force, and strong nuclear force are all manifestations of the same interaction under all Grand Unified Theories, and this part of GUT, at least, is generally accepted to be correct. So you can answer 'the electronuclear force', and be correct about every possible interaction except gravity. (All of the versions of GUT are, however, still only competing theories, so if the teacher challenges your answer, it would be rather difficult to prove. And if you have managed to prove some version of GUT, you probably have better things to do with it than prank teachers.)
    • In a philosophy final exam, the only question on the test was "Why?". While students scribbled furiously to answer the question, one student finished in seconds, handed in his paper, got a perfect score, and walked out. His answer? "Why not?"
      • Another variant has the philosophy teacher place a chair in the middle of the room and challenge the students to prove it doesn't exists. One student is said to have written "what chair?"
      • (As the only question in a long exam) "Define courage." "This." Though, abuse or not, it's a good definition.
      • There is one variant that instead makes it the last question to a long exam, specifying that the student answered every other question perfectly as proof that they most likely could answer the courage question conventionally but chose not to.
    • In one mathematics course, the students were advised that for their exam, their cheat sheet could be only one side of a page. One student glued his page's ends together, creating a Möbius strip - a strip with only one side - and covering it with notes. Surely, if any class will let you get away with that, it's math.
  • A similar idea was that cheating was allowed in Soviet schools. What wasn't allowed was getting caught doing it. If you were clever enough to cheat without your professors catching you, you deserved the credit you got (this was harder than it sounds, because the professors were more on the look out for cheaters and had seen every trick in the book—and had probably used most of them during their own time as students).
  • At one point, the election rules for the Cambridge Union stated that candidates were allowed to put up one poster in the Union lobby but it had to be a certain size and it had to be "monochrome." One law student complied by putting up a poster of the statutory size... on fluorescent yellow paper. (He got away with it, as a poster that has one color is technically "monochrome." They changed the rules for subsequent elections.)
  • When Vivian Stanshall of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band was at school he repeatedly got in trouble for breaking the rule about wearing a tie. He was expelled after turning up in a tie but no shirt.
  • Lord Byron, famed English poet, was forced to send his dog home during college, as Trinity forbade keeping one. Byron's response was to scour the rules and find that there was no specific prohibition against keeping a bear. Obviously, he got one. When asked what he would do with it, he responded that it could sit for a fellowship.
    • More specifically, the rule was against domesticated pets. The bear was wild.
    • Later on in the 20th century when fellows were allowed to get married and have families there was an attempt to invite the wives of fellows for a coffee morning to allow them to get to know one another so they wouldn't be lonely. However, few wives could come as babies were apparently banned from the college. The Fellow organising the drinks then said that babies and children could be deemed to be cats for the purposes of the coffee morning.
  • One year in the mid-seventies, the University of Regina's Anarchist Party ran a frozen turkey as their candidate for president of the student council. And won. (Student government for that year consisted of weekly general meetings open to all students and motions decided by majority vote, over which the turkey presided.) At the end of the year, the Anarchists cooked and ate their president. Possibly U of R's charter was amended to prevent this recurring.
  • Broadcaster Keith Olbermann "barely graduated" from Cornell after realizing that he needed to take 28 credits in his last semester. The university authorities assumed there was a rule against this - there wasn't, but he was the first person mad enough to try it.
    (about waiting to hear if he graduated) Did you know you can sweat from your eyelids?
  • A British schoolboy was annoyed when he found out that boys weren't allowed to wear shorts in hot weather, so he looked up the uniform rules, and found there was no rule against boys wearing skirts.
    • Likewise, Swedish train drivers were forbidden from wearing shorts to work, in trains without air-conditioning in the summer. So they wore skirts instead, which was approved.
  • After 9/11, France made some laws against headscarfs in schools, to enforce their strict separation of state and religion. Muslim women note  are supposed to cover their hair all the time. One very pious Muslim girl was told to get rid of her headscarf, or get kicked out. So she shaved off her hair.
  • Math Textbooks. Some of them have the answers in the back so that people can check their answers and see if they got it right. To prevent people from just copying the answers down, they only include answers for every other problem. Conveniently, to prevent cheating, guess which problems are always the ones on the test and assigned for homework?
    • Though some classes, particularly in the higher grades, assign the ones that have the answers in the back so they can check it. That being said, most books only have the answers, not the work, and many teachers require work to be shown and will often assume you just copied the answer if that's all you have. Some schools and teacher go as far as to even omit assigned work as part of the grading procedure, leaving your grades completely dependent on test scores.
    • And for the people making the textbooks, there isn't any rule stating how long the edition has to be relevant or a minimum of how much stuff should be changed for each edition. Thus it's common for a new edition of a textbook to change one diagram or one source, while they pocket all the money from students who can't resell the books to the university. (This is why in every college town you see third party stores.)
  • The "Circle Game" can be traced back to 1929. Where the people try to trick you into looking at your fingers making a circle below your waist, and if you see it, then they get to hit you. Originally, this was done in colleges to get past their anti-hazing rules.
  • A list of rules in a college was once prefaced with the statement: This list of prohibited actions is not exclusive, students should not assume that if something is not on this list it is permitted.
  • There's a story about a Cambridge student who noticed that because an old rule had never been repealed, the university was obligated to provide him "cakes and ale" to sit an exam. They actually obliged (that is, they gave him a hamburger and a soft drink) but then imposed a fine on him for not wearing his sword to the exam.
  • Lynne Rifkin Shine, a Mental health counselor from New York, points out that while she wasn't surprised that the school took action on a student's tweet got his in trouble with the West Seneca East school system, she asked what counts as disturbance when it comes to social media since that's off-school grounds and such cause isn't listed.

    TV Networks 
  • When ABC bought the Fox Family Channel in 2001, they apparently had a legal staff that rubber-stamped the deal and didn't look at the contract closely. At the time the plan was to use the network as sort of a clone of FX-esque Rerun Farm in the style of ABC (this was long before FX struck gold with The Shield and when using cable networks to "repurpose" reruns was in vogue), and it was proposed that the channel be renamed "XYZ", which would stand for the end of the alphabet. Closer research of the contract though reminded everyone that Pat Robertson once owned the channel, and when he sold the channel to Fox he threw in all kinds of legal language which meant he kept three hours of airtime a day on the network that could not be removed from his control, and that the moment "Family" was stripped from the name, every single deal made with every single cable system was null and void, and Disney would be stuck having to renegotiate with every system to get back on, which for any basic cable network would be a disastrous proposition.
    • Thus, "XYZ" was ditched, the channel flailed for awhile, getting by with reruns of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, 7th Heaven, and Gilmore Girls, along with reality shows that were rightfully rejected by every other network, until a smart marketer realized that if you made the network's slogan "A new kind of family" and emphasized it as much as the network name, you could easily wiggle around what Pat thought of as a "family" and expand the definition. Thus the network was finally able to program for more than two kids and two parents, and now programming like Pretty Little Liars can easily lead into The 700 Club, which Pat Robertson can't do anything about.
    • Meanwhile The 700 Club has so many notices, warnings and roadblocks before the show on ABC Family that remind you Disney doesn't endorse his views at all that it is treated as the Old Shame of the network. It isn't even mentioned at all on the network's website.
    • In all fairness, that disclaimer only appeared as a result of Pat's increasingly frequent cases of making bizarre statements; with the one sparking the beginning of those disclaimers being a not-so-subtle suggestion that the CIA "take out" (read: assassinate) Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Prior to that, the screen display read that the 700 Club was a presentation of CBN.
    • When a Canadian version of ABC Family was launched in Canada in 2012, it instead took on the name ABC Spark. note 
  • All who auditioned for the role of Jackie Burkhart in That '70s Show were required to be at least 18 years old; Mila Kunis was 14 at the time, so she told the casting directors she’d be 18 on her birthday, but didn't say which one. Though they eventually figured it out, the producers still thought she was the best fit for the role.
  • When TV execs want to cancel a show but ratings are high, they can move it to a time slot where hardly anyone can watch it, so ratings go down. Once the ratings drop they have a reason to cancel it.
  • The Federal Communications Commission's entire television ownership rules have arguably egregious loopholes. Prior to 2000, the FCC only permitted broadcast stations to own two stations in the same television market if they were non-commercial educational stations. Then the FCC allowed duopolies between two full-power commercial stations (commercial station duopolies were only allowed previously between a full-power and low-power station), but disallowing duopolies in markets with fewer than eight stations and only allowing station groups to own one of the four highest-rated stations and one station whose viewership placed it below the top four.
    • If the lower-rated station's overall viewership increased over time to where it wound up in the top four rated stations, the duopoly would be broken up once both stations were put up for sale. However, that rule has a loophole as the rule allegedly was going to limit two stations affiliated with the Big Four networks to be co-owned, but in actuality wound up only protecting stations based on viewership, meaning that if the four highest-rated stations in a single television market consisted of an NBC, CBS, Univision and ABC affiliate and the Fox station was the 5th-rated station, there is nothing to stop the Fox affiliate's owner from buying the NBC affiliate and vice versa.
      • Jacksonville, Florida is a textbook example as each of the Big Four affiliates are involved in a duopoly (NBC affiliate WTLV and ABC affiliate WJXX) or virtual duopoly (Fox affiliate WFOX and CBS affiliate WJAX, though the latter has gone back and forth from being a legal duopoly to a virtual duopoly. The two other commercial stations in that market are independently owned (Post-Newseeek-owned ex-CBS affiliate turned independent WJXT and Nexstar Broadcasting CW affiliate WCWJ).
    • An attempt to do this in Miami with Washington Post-owned WPLG purchasing NBC's owned WTVJ by arguing that WTVJ's ratings were 6th in the market (by folding in the much higher ratings of the city's Univision and Telemundo stations in a market with a heavy Cuban-American and Spanish-speaking population) failed because of petition drives and a rare case of the FCC refusing to even consider the deal because of the poorly constructed argument using stations that wouldn't (or in Telemundo's case, couldn't because NBC owned them) compete with English-language stations.
    • Another loophole is the "failing/failed station" waiver that allows a company to buy a station that it claims is in economically unviable shape. In hindsight, use of the waiver should be in violation of the duopoly rules, since they have been largely used in cities where there aren't enough stations to allow a duopoly normally. It is debatable whether these waivers might get a pass because of the purpose in which they are used. An example is in Green Bay, Wisconsin (which has only seven active full-power stations, plus an eighth that is licensed to a nearby city within the market but actually used another loophole to move to Milwaukee, place smaller translator stations in the city of license, and now broadcasts the Weather Nation network and can't be received in Green Bay at all), where LIN Media used a failing station waiver to buy CW affiliate WCWF in 2010, creating a duopoly with LIN-owned Fox station WLUK-TV under an argument that the WCWF's city of license of Suring (a Northwoods village northwest of Green Bay which was licensed there by a religious organization in the 80's in order to spread their message in God-friendly country, but doesn't really work as a place to put a CW affiliate) didn't provide enough advertising or local income, cleverly omitting that beyond some occasional community calendar drops of Suring, the station is basically a Green Bay operation in everything but name and the digital age put the tower south of Green Bay rather than the analog Suring location; Journal Broadcast Group also used a waiver to buy Appleton-licensed MyNetworkTV affiliate WACY-TV in the same city to create a duopoly with NBC affiliate WGBA, but in that case, argued that the station's condition back in 1994 (when the FCC had not deregulated the industry yet) meant that without WGBA's help, it would be a non-viable station airing low-quality and non-local programming or have long been dormant (the only "local" programming here being high school sports and a horror movie host snarking a movie on Saturday nights; the economic argument of WCWF wasn't used as Appleton is equal in stature to Green Bay). It worked.
  • Shared services, local marketing and joint sales agreements are also significant loopholes in regards to the duopoly rules, since they largely occur in markets where there are too few stations to allow a legal duopoly without a failed/failing station waiver. Even though SSAs, JSAs and LMAs have separate definitions, they all typically involve the consolidation of most or all operations of one station into another. What makes these agreements controversial not only are the fact that the permission of these agreements not only contradict the FCC's own duopoly rules (though the agency does not regulate or bar them), but they also result in most of the junior partner station's personnel being laid off and often lead to one station's news department being shut down (rather than relocating it to the studios of the senior partner station), leading to one station's news staff and filed reports appearing on another station or even in some markets (like Scranton, Pennsylvania and Evansville, Indiana), simulcasts of newscasts on both of the involved stations. Cable and satellite operators also balk at these agreements due to the issue of one station owner negotiating retransmission compenstation (where stations and cable networks ask for providers to pay them to carry their programming) for a station that it manages but doesn't own.
    • Sinclair Broadcast Group and Nexstar Broadcasting are the worst offenders when it comes to shared services agreements as both companies operate no fewer than ten virtual duopolies within their station groups (most of Sinclair's SSAs involve Cunningham Broadcasting, which family members of deceased company founder David Sinclair Smith own stock in; all SSAs operated by Nexstar involve Mission Broadcasting, which Smith's widow serves as president). An even worse case of abuse with these rules is the fact that in markets where a duopoly is legally allowed, a company that already owns a duopoly can enter into an SSA/LMA/JSA with one or two more stations creating virtual triopolies and virtual quadropolies (which overstep the bounds of the amount of stations a single company can own); conversely in places where a duopoly isn't allowed, one station owner can assume control of two or three other stations that are owned by different companies.
      • Schurz Communications is the only station group that maintains separate news departments and staffs with their SSAs, avoiding such controversy: Schurz operates virtual duopolies between NBC and ABC stations in Augusta, Georgia (WAGT and Media General-operated WJBF) and Springfield, Missouri (KYTV and Parkin Media-owned KSPR), but both are operated to some extent as if they were owned-and-operated by separate companies as those virtual duopolies maintain separate news departments and their newscasts compete against one another in several timeslots.
      • XETV in San Diego at one point exploited nearly all of the broadcast television loopholes due to its transmitter being located in Tijuana, Mexico and thus outside US jurisdiction (although it did have to comply with Mexican law and to this day still broadcasts the Mexican national anthem at the beginning and end of its broadcast day). While it started as an independent station, when XETV was the exclusive ABC affiliate during the 1960's it was allowed to broadcast at much higher power than American network stations, which led to a lawsuit by the NBC affiliate which had been relegated to a UHF channel (and thus could only be seen with great difficulty in mountainous San Diego County). XETV was also exempt from FCC-imposed limits on advertising time, and thus broadcast the first hour-long 'infomercials' in the 1970's. Even with all of this though, they basically obey most of the FCC's regulations voluntarily, even the three-hour Edutainment Show requirements.
    • In 2014, current FCC chairman Tom Wheeler began to patch many of these loopholes; joint sales agreements are now essentially banned (selling 15% or more of advertising on another station under a JSA is now considered ownership unless a waiver is obtained; a two-year grace period was given in order to allow existing arrangements to be wound down or come in compliance), and coordinated carriage negotiations between two of the top four stations in a market were also banned.
      • This witch hunt (even though it only involved one of the three types of sharing agreements) created a rift in several major transactions occurring with Sinclair, along with mid-market broadcaster Gray Television, who suddenly went all out in their respective acquisitions of Allbritton and Hoak to avoid any use of sharing agreements. In the event of conflicts requiring such an agreement, they decided to, instead, buy the station's assets (i.e. programming, equipment) but move the programming to a digital subchannel of an existing station they legally own, and leave the rest of the station as a corpse left to rot in the FCC's paper shredder (shut down entirely, license revoked), or preferably, sold to a minority broadcaster in need (which, thankfully, is what Gray is doing). This is what's occuring in Birmingham, Alabama and Charleston, South Carolina with former Allbritton properties. Sinclair decided to turn in the licenses for the ABC stations in each market they acquired, while taking everything but the tower and 'master control' keeping those stations on the air and selling them off to broadcasters who have absolutely no intention to run a respectable or competitive station in the market (one of them, a discredited political commentator with lots of business with Sinclair, who is already part of these agreements in other Sinclair markets). Meanwhile, existing Sinclair stations in both markets, both affiliated with MyNetworkTV, will now carry the signals and programming which aired on those stations as a subchannel, meaning that in Birmingham, ABC will air on the absurd Channel 68, while in Charleston, ABC moves from Channel 4 down to Channel 36.
  • At one point in the nearly 2-decade licensing battle between the FCC and RKO (in which RKO General was charged with anti-competitive practices related to parent company General Tire essentially basing dealings with vendors on whether they advertised on RKO stations); RKO General (facing the potential of having their broadcasting license revoked completely) took advantage of a new law passed by Congress in early 1983 (which, however, they lobbied for) that guaranteed an automatic license renewal for any commercial VHF station that moved to a state without one (which would have only meant New Jersey or Delaware). The gambit led to their flagship station WOR-TV (now WWOR) moving to Seacacus, New Jersey. The gambit only delayed the inevitable; as following the sale of WOR-TV in 1987, RKO General's broadcasting license would be permanently revoked.
    • In the digital age, this same loophole was used by two stations in Jackson, Wyoming and Eli, Nevada which had no hope of expansion in those desolate markets to move into the Philadelphia and New York markets, respectively (though VHF has proven to be an uneasy transmission medium in the digital age; however the real prize is must-carry on cable and satellite, which both stations took well advantage of). Both upon sign-on became the most powerful affiliates in the Me-TV network.
  • When it comes to terrestrial and cable TV, including animation, if the creators of a show wanted to a character to use one of the forbidden words, there are several loopholes to get allow the FCC rules about it.
    • One: Leave the “dirty word” to the audience to keeping guessing about by censoring in a cut-away or use a sound to bleep it. In Spongebob Squarepants episode, Sailor Mouth, dolphin chirps to cover the “word” the title character and Patrick were using. It does imply to be the “F” word when ones uses in placement of the chirps, which ended up making sense all.
    • Two: There are no rules on just mouthing the word. If a character mouths it but no sound comes out, the program can get away with it because the word has to be heard in order to count.
  • In 1996, The Federal Communications Commission required TV stations to air “educational and informative” contents three hours a week, apart from the news; the hours to do so was to be between 7 AM and 10 PM. During the early years, most of that aired from 7 AM-3 PM, which erroneously created many loopholes.
    • Since children note  were usually in school during said hours, many adverts with questionable content during an “E/I” show got aired.
    • Both live-action and animated programs with “educational and informative” dialogue can get around this.
    • It doesn't have to be done in one setting, just 30 minutes a day minimum, on day of the week isn't listed. This why many stations like CBS, ABC, and NBC tends to air “E/I” shows on weekends since children are likely to home… leaving talk shows, like The Doctors, to aired on weekdays because they count as “E/I” program due to the contents are often classified “educational and informative”. The mentioned show talks about medical information, therefore it’s an “E/I” show and is meets the requirements.note 
  • Sweden has strict advertising laws; among other things, banning advertising directly to children, and for a while, only allowing commercial breaks between programs, and not during them. However, this only really affected the lone commercial OTA network at the time, TV 4; cable/satellite channels could air all the advertising they wanted, since they broadcast from neighboring countries with looser laws (such as Denmark, Norway, or the United Kingdom) and fed "pan-Nordic" feeds serving multiple countries using relevant subtitling/audio feeds.
  • Despite the critical acclaim of Batman: The Animated Series, WB Network head Jamie Kellner wanted a show set with Batman in High School that the network could market towards younger viewers and sell toys. However, he didn't say that Batman had to be Bruce Wayne.

    Web Original 
  • Avoided by most Internet services (forums, hosts, etc.) in that their Terms of Use specifically say you can be reprimanded for any reason by the owners/moderators. Effectively seals the "Ain't no rule" loophole.
  • Similarly, try reading a software EULA or copyright agreement all the way through. They can be paraphrased as saying "We can do whatever we want, whenever we want, and you have no rights whatsoever." The phrase "in perpetuity throughout the universe" is popular.
    • Though ironically, most EULAs are often unenforceable; if the EULA isn't on the outside of the box, it isn't necessarily enforceable by law. This is why, for instance, OM versions of Windows have the EULA on the outside of the packaging. Also, many open-ended contractual things of this nature can be difficult to enforce in court. Also not every copyright law allows to enforce fully EULA. For example in some countries you are allowed to deassemble code in certain cases (for e.g. to make cooperation between programs better) - even if EULA explicitly forbids disassembling.
      • There are many terms common in EULAs which are incompatible with The European Union's laws, and hence are not applicable there.
  • 4chan's /b/ forum infamously has "no rules". However, posting something that's actually illegal (i.e. child pornography) will still result in a ban. The explanation given is that "no rules" also applies to the moderators, meaning they can ban users for any reason, including because they just felt like it.
  • From Cracked:
  • The Troper Tales for Complaining About Shows You Don't Like was removed because it became nothing but huge complaints and was often one big Flame War after the next. Several other tropes devolved into Complaining About Shows You Don't Like in the Troper Tales section. So people turned to the Headscratchers (at the time called "It Just Bugs Me") and let the complaining and flame wars begin.
  • In streaming sites such as ustream and livestream, ads interrupt it. However, get adblocker and they don't play the ads at all.
    • Likewise, people on Hulu often pick the "give me a longer ad and don't interrupt at all" and then use this opportunity to go to the bathroom or go make a sandwich or popcorn without actually seeing the ad.
    • Blip has adapted to this by running a 90 second grey screen for users who block ads, the screen points out that the ads are only 30 seconds. Of course, if you prefer 90 seconds of silence to an annoying ad, this could still work in your favor.
    • Many sites have adapted by making sure the content the user wants is being blocked when the ad is blocked. This can be self defeating when it causes the site to not gain new users. Also, adblock is sophisticated enough to allow you to block specific pieces of content which gets around how some sites try to lock you out.
  • In online auctions (primarily eBay), it's not uncommon to find automated pieces of software that were programmed to monitor the auction and always bid with the absolute minimum price without the person having to ever actually be at the computer.
    • Ain't No Rule saying you can't wait until the last 30 seconds of an auction and then outbid the previous bidder by the bare minimum amount.
    • To mitigate both, eBay allows bidders to place a maximum they're willing to bid, but only bid the minimum. If someone else bids the minimum, the site automatically bids the first bidder the minimum increase. YMMV though on how effective this is.
  • Whenever something is released under a "pay what you like" plan (such as the Humble Bundle) a lot of people select the minimum price, especially if it's as low as $0.01. (And plenty of people still pirate it anyways.) Some bundles are perfectly aware of that and try to guilt trip you (often successfully) to give at least a dollar, or add incentives to pay extra (the Humble Bundle, again, often adds extra games and their soundtracks if you buy it for higher than the average price it's sold for at the time of purchase).
  • On art sites like deviantART, pornographic content is against the TOS. However, Artistic Nude isn't considered pornographic at all, so naturally if you look in that section, be prepared to see a lot of pornography that's labeled as "Artistic Nude".
    • Likewise, icons often aren't handled by the mature filter. Some trolls on those sites regularly put pictures of asses or stuff that normally would be placed under "mature" to shock people with the mature filter on. It was less common in deviantART where the icon size was limited to only 50x50 pixels, but on other art sites with bigger avatars....
    • For that matter, "Photo-dumping" is not allowed on some art sites...but people love to take these and then place them under a "Photograph" categorization so they get away with it.
  • Related to the above, there were people who had done the Loophole Abuse on FurAffinity before an update to the terms of service said that x-rated avatars would be banned, too. When it comes to depicting content banned from the site, though, there's no rule saying you can't tell people to go check out your gallery on another site that does allow it.
  • When Wikipedia blacked-out their site for SOPA protests, it took less than an hour for people simply tired of SOPA protests to start telling people to run stuff like No Script, use the mobile page, or simply hit "stop" before they were redirected from an article to the SOPA page. (Even the Learn more page itself said people could turn off Javascript. - See also this page) Likewise, when other sites do it, there's no rule saying you can't use caches, either.
  • On Yahoo Answers, there's no such rule that you cannot vote for your own answer. This makes it a paradise for Trolls who can easily score 13 points by writing nonsense. 2 points for the answer, 1 point for the vote, and 10 points if the answer gets selected as the best by voters (which is often just one).
  • Rule 34 on most art-sites is often ignored... unless it violates site policies in some way. A notable one is that characters who are canonically underage. Cue people drawing the characters as young adults so they could upload rule 34 of them.
    • Selling unauthorized drawings of copyrighted characters is illegal, but put it on a pay site and people are technically paying for the site, not the art.
  • Several examples from Not Always Right:
    • Attempted by this woman. The daycare had a rule that parents must sign out their kids by 4 PM or face additional charges. The woman signed her daughter out on time, but left her there while she ran other errands for another 45 minutes. Luckily the daycare didn't put up with her crap and charged her anyway.
    • This man, too. The restaurant had a policy that if the customer didn't get a receipt, their meal was free. What does he do? Shove the money into the drive-through attendant's hands and immediately speeds to the next window. The drive-through guy didn't have time to even offer a receipt, but that matters not. The speeder argues this point and sadly gets away with it. Drive-through guy wisens up though, and offers a receipt before taking the money next time the speeder rolls around.
      • This one actually applies both ways - such deals are often impossible to claim in the absence of abuse like this, as there is no clear rule as to when the time limit for the action runs out, and once the transaction has ended it is too late for the "prize" to be given. The customer could reasonably have been handed their receipt at the food window to avoid the situation above - or if he drove away from that too, he's now absent, so can't claim his money back. Burger King in the UK at one stage offered a "if we don't ask if you want to go large, you can go large for free" campaign. Since customers would often directly order a "large xxx meal.." - meaning that they would not be asked to upsize as they had already announced they were doing so - cashiers and most customers reasoned that common sense meant the promotion would not apply in this case. However, given this, any attempt by a customer to claim on the deal could be denied as the cashier could claim they would have asked the question in the future. The deal was, in fact, unclaimable.
    • This man wants a bunch of free ice cream samples in a cup. It's not a cup of ice cream, you see, because it's all free samples! The employee didn't put up with his crap, though.
    • Here, a gym teacher was requiring a wheelchair-bound student to get a doctor's note to get out of gym. Their doctor was out of town, but the student's mother had a dentist's appointment that day. Since the teacher didn't specify what kind of doctor, she had to accept a note from the dentist.

  • With respect to jobs that revolve around tip-based income (e.g. Restaurant waiters and servers), it is a standard that most restaurants will utilize a legal loophole to pay below minimum wage per hour to said employees. The minimum hourly income at the present is 7.25USD/hour, but most servers are payed between 2.00-2.50 per hour because of tip income being cited as "hourly" income. However, skilled and experienced servers can in fact make over triple the usual hourly rate in a single shift (100USD to 29.00), while poor servers will struggle to make minimum, making it a sort of real-life money-oriented Beef Gate.
  • An English amateur cricket team barred from entering the dining room of the hotel in which they were staying on the grounds that they were not wearing ties. To his credit, the maitre d' apparently took them reappearing wearing properly-knotted ties but no shirts or trousers in the spirit in which it was intended.
  • Humans vs. Zombies manages to avert this entirely by having the "Douchebag Clause" which states "Don't be a douchebag." Simply put, if it's unfair and not covered in the rules, then the mods can invoke the douchebag clause and punish accordingly.
  • A rare positive example, Nintendo actually used R.O.B. to get the NES into the American market: America was still reeling from The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, and no toy store would dare market a product as a "video game system". R.O.B., however, allowed Nintendo to make the NES look much more toy-like and less like a video game console, and convinced toy stores to stock it. It's also the reason that the original NES was styled to look like a VCR.
    • For a loophole that happened against Nintendo; There was a rule made by Nintendo of America and Europe during the NES years to where third-party companies could only release a maximum of five titles in one year on a console. Konami found a way to circumvent this: All they had to do was simply publish it under a different company name. Which resulted in some of their titles released underneath the "Ultra Games" label in America and "Palcom" in Europe, while Acclaim likewise used the "LJN" label to get out their licensed propery and sports titles. This might have been less tricking Nintendo and more Nintendo letting their buddies release more games, but in any case, Nintendo relaxed the policy later on so the Ultra, Palcom and LJN labels soon ended.
  • The hypothetical faster-than-light particles known as tachyons operate like this: the laws of relativity state that it is impossible for something to accelerate past the speed of light. They say nothing about objects that have always been at a faster-than-light speed.
    • More accurately, if you solve the equations for total energy of a normal particle moving faster than light, you will get an imaginary number, but the total energy is proportional to the rest mass, and nothing says the rest mass has to be real.
  • Jeff Dunham has mentioned using a method to get free professional photos taken - he used his school pictures. Unfortunately, these wound up in the yearbook.
  • Many coupon deals have loophole abuse...or just deals to rack people in.
    • Subway's "$5 Footlong" campaign is full of loopholes. They assume by reducing the sandwiches to $5 that you'll buy footlongs more and will buy the other offerings (chips, drinks, cookies) to make up for the loss. However, people have, since 2008, learned that they can buy the most expensive subs on the menu that aren't listed as premium, put $15 worth of vegetables and $5 worth of mayonnaise and they decide not to buy any extras. As a result, they then walk away with a sandwich that causes the store to lose money.
      • Likewise, recently, Subway once had coupons for a free six-inch sandwich with the purchase of a six inch meal. This was probably intended to get people to bring someone to Subway with them, but all it resulted in was everyone buying a six-inch meal and getting another six-inch sandwich that was completely identical to the first six-inch, making a ghetto footlong. It got to the point where the employees didn't even bother with the pretense of the footlong being being two separate sandwiches.
    • A few years ago, a practice among certain Starbucks customers was named the "ghetto latte": order a double shot espresso, which is significantly cheaper than a latte, and also ask for a venti cup of ice, which is free. They then dump the espresso into the venti cup, and then go to the condiment bar and dump tons of milk from the urn into it, effectively creating a venti iced latte for the price of a doppio espresso. (Some will even bring the urn to the counter complaining it is empty when they don't get enough.) Starbucks has not so far banned the procedure, considering it technically legit.
      • In both cases, the raw materials involved in making these items rarely surpass a buck or two, so the restaurant isn't losing money, just making a smaller net gain. If the company was really losing money on either deal, they would care. It is also a loophole exploited by employees to effectively get an employee discount. Since they have to know how to make all the drinks anyways, any good employee would thus be able to do this as another perk of the job.
      • Sticking with Starbucks, Starbucks Reward Gold members are entitled to one free drink after 12 purchases. One savvy customer in Dallas named Andrew ordered a monstrosity of a beverage with his free drink, solely for breaking the record for the most expensive Starbucks beverage ever made, the Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappuccino, a one gallon (3.78 L) concoction which contains 60 shots of espresso, three kinds of drizzle and a sprinkling of protein powder. If not for the loyalty program, the drink would have Andrew nearly US$55.
  • Acceptable Targets can be this way for sexism, racism, and discrimination, but that's really all that needs to be said.
  • Some of these loopholes come about because of an emphasis on negative rather than positive statements. If there is a brief description of what is wanted, followed by a long list of what is not allowed, most people will start thinking of loopholes. If a policy describes the desirable behaviour well enough, then any 'loophole' will simply be a better way of achieving that end, while abuses will clearly not meet the stated aim.
  • In heraldry, the rule of tincturenote  prevents 'metal' note  from being placed on metal, or 'colour' note  on colour. The reason being that metal-on-metal and colour-on-colour designs are harder to see from far away than colour-on-metal or metal-on-colour (think about it!), and the original purpose of heraldry was identifying friend from foe from a distance on a battlefield where everyone is wearing armour. There are many exceptions to the rule, but one in particular is very open to abuse: anything coloured 'proper', or as it is in naturenote  can be placed on anything, even if it is indistinguishable from a tincture. For instance, a horse argent (white) cannot be placed on a field Or (yellow), but a white horse proper, which looks exactly the same, can.
    • The Vatican (and the former Kingdom of Jerusalem) deliberately uses gold-on-white symbols that go against the rules of heraldry. Their reasoning is that they follow God's rules, not man's—and heralds accept this, with it being understood that the Church and some related institutions get to use this combination.
    • It isn't just that the rules of heraldry do exist, but it is also an incredibly stupid idea to break them. The rules of heraldry are there to maximize the distinguishability of heraldic devices and to make them as easy to note as possible. The rules of heraldry date on the 13th century, and they stem from the demands of the battlefield. The basic rule - no metal on metal or no colour on colour - exist because two metals together form an extremely reflective surface, making it difficult to discern between the shield and the charge, while colour on colour makes a dark and murky surface where the discerning is difficult. Since on field it is extremely important to be able to tell friends from foes, having a white horse proper on argent is not only stupid, but so stupid it isn't even wrong. A good coat-of-arms can be distinguished at an arrow range (200 m). It isn't a good idea to shoot your friends just because you cannot see what is on their shields. Breaking the rules of heraldry could well be the Trope Maker for Friend or Foe trope and incidents.
    • The reason why the rules of heraldry do exist were re-found quickly on the 20th century by history re-enactors and live-action role players. It hasn't been just one or two times when fighters have fallen casualty to Friendly Fire because their insignia had broken those rules and been incomprehensible or unable to be distinguished in a split second.
  • Two porn parodies of Mario, "Super Hornio Brothers 1&2," were made. Nintendo objected to these films, but was unable to get them banned from distribution (parody is protected speech). What did they do? Buy the rights to the films and made sure they never saw the light of day.
  • Linden Labs from Second Life offered a starter package for new users over that contained a hover bike and a free 1000L (which is roughly $10 in real money). All anyone had to do was link their Second Life account to their Amazon account and they would get the package for free. It was stated that the package was limited to one Second Life account per customer, but naturally, people began to create numerous alternate accounts and email addresses to score lots of free money. Within a few hours, Linden Labs yanked the package off Amazon and later put the package back on at the price of $10.
  • As anyone who has an Autistic kid can tell you... they will find a loophole sooner or later!
    • As will any other kid, and to sweeten the deal, they will almost invariably find the loophole sooner as opposed to later. The classic one being "Mom said no... so I'll go ask Dad!", unless Dad's response is "ask your mother".
      • Savvy parents will exploit this themselves by trapping a kid in a loop of "Go ask your mother/father."
  • Amazon occasionally has "tell a friend" deals where for every new person who signs up for an Amazon account who uses you as a referral gets you a gift certificate, usually around $10. It's very easy to just make up a bunch of bogus email accounts just to get the referrals and rack up an obscene amount of free "money".
  • It's illegal for record labels to directly pay radio stations to play songs, but perfectly legal for them to hire consultants who give radio stations "incentives" to play certain songs.
  • Bob Mould played a cover of a song by Sugar, a band Mould was in, for The Onion AV Club.
  • This news story involves a man bringing his Shetland pony into a liquor store - The man in question pointed out that the store had a sign forbidding dogs and cats, but didn't specify any other animals. This didn't really work out for him, but the store agreed not to press charges if he cleaned up the mess, and he is apparently still allowed in the store provided he never brings the pony inside again. After the incident, the store actually did post a “No Horses Allowed” sign.
  • In 1978, DC Comics was in danger of losing its flagship and namesake comic Detective Comics due to the "DC Implosion". However, someone had noticed that they had a title that was going strong, stronger than their other Bat-titles, Batman Family. Solution? Go ahead and cancel Detective Comics... then, rebrand Batman Family as Detective Comics starring Batman Family, give it the old numbering, and once sales petered out, just restore it as Detective Comics.
  • All-you-can-eat restaurants will often charge different prices for breakfast, lunch and dinner meals, which have different menu items. However, once you're in, you can stay and eat until you're full.note  So if a restaurant changes over to the (more expensive) dinner menu at 4:00, the proper thing to do is to come in at 3:55, pay for lunch, and wait five minutes.
  • Tobacco advertising was banned on American television in 1971. E-cigarette ads have become common recently, since the ban doesn't specifcally say anything about them (e-cigs were actually patented in 1963 but didn't start getting mass-produced until 2004). RJ Reynolds began test-marketing an e-cigarette brand in 2014 and ran TV ads for it. The situation of one of the companies targeted by the original ban running ads for a nicotine-based utensil seems to really be pushing the envelope.
  • In Mexico, films geared towards families are required to include a dub when shown in theaters. Since not everyone has the resources to include one, especially Anime films, the Mexican distributors managed to avoid this by showing niche films as art films, as those films are not required from being dubbed, even if those films were NOT art films in their home countries. The biggest offenders of this are the Mexican releases of the Rebuild of Evangelion films and The Wind Rises. The Puella Magi Madoka Magica films were planned to be shown as this, but the Mexican release is still stalled, very probably because the licensor (in this case, Aniplex) wanted to release the films as mainstream films and not as art films.

Western AnimationLoophole AbuseReal Life Law

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