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Hollywood Restraining Order
Court says a hundred and fifty feet, woman. A HUNDRED AND FIFTY FEET.

Like many Real Life conventions, a restraining order in fiction is only as effective as the Rule of Drama or Rule of Funny need it to be.

So you've slapped your Stalker with a Crush with a restraining order? Guess what — it won't do a thing to protect you. So you're a Heroic Comedic Sociopath who's been told never to go in that bar again (don't ask — it involved noodles)? You'll be shot on sight if you go anywhere near it.

Unfortunately, even in Real Life restraining orders work on the honor system (much like the Amish computer virus, in fact). A restraining order cannot physically separate one person from another (unless the offender is fitted with an electronic implant that delievers traumatic shocks whenever he or she gets too close, but that's usually only in futuristic or dystopian stories); it just means the other person can call the police and have them arrested on sight if they're violating it. Also while restraining orders in TV usually require the person to maintain a minimum distance from another, in reality restraining orders usually order the person to refrain from contacting, harassing, following or stalking the other person, something that often doesn't deter a determined stalker.

One comedy gag involving a restraining order is for the person to be dog-piled by an army of police officers the very microsecond they cross some invisible line in the sand and gets "too close" to the person in question. Another such gag involves the person for whom the order was issued torturing the restrained person by continually approaching them, under threat of the order being enforced. (In Real Life, if you approach someone against whom you have a restraining order, they are not considered to have violated it and if you do so continually, you may find yourself in legal hot water for abuse of the order.)

See also Persona Non Grata.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • In a MAD article about student athletics, one suggestion is made that football field yard lines can be used as measurement for a restraining order. A police officer, using this method, finds that one parent who holds a sign saying "Go Artie! Die Coach!" is not violating the order.

    Fan Works 
  • Shawn claims to having one of these in Carlton's Worst Inhibitions. It's probably not true. Probably.
    Shawn: I only have eyes for you, Lassypants. Well, you and Val Kilmer, and he's not returning my phone calls. Although I have been getting letters from his lawyer. How far away is 150 yards?

    Film 
  • Die Hard 2. The reporter Holly punched out in the first movie has a restraining order against her: she's not allowed to be within 50 yards of him. Too bad they're on a plane together.
  • Played for laughs in National Security. The white cop who got jailed for beating up a black man (long story, there was a bee) gets hit with a restraining order when he leaves prison, saying he can't get within a hundred feet of the black man. For most of the film, the black man is following the white cop around, trying to help him solve his partner's murder. When the white cop gets angry about something, the black man responds: "Need I remind you that you are currently in violation of a legally binding restraining order?"
    • The latter later asks a police captain if he could "hook a brother up with another restraining order" after remembering that he left a girl chained to a ceiling pipe in the warehouse (they were in the middle of foreplay).
  • In Next Friday, Day-Day has one for a thousand feet on a woman who's been going around saying she's pregnant with his kid (she was already pregnant when she met him, so it is clearly not his). Of course she regularly ignores this, routinely damaging Day-Day's property and showing up at his work to harass him. The vandalism she causes forces this into Values Dissonance and Karma Houdina, as she's not punished in any way for it.
  • In Anger Management, towards the end of the film Buddy ends up dating Dave's girlfriend, Linda and the court issues a restraining order so that Dave can't come within 500 feet of either of them. Played for Drama.

    Live Action TV 
  • On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon gets a restraining order from Stan Lee, which he plans to put next to the one he got from Leonard Nimoy.
  • In Community, Professor Duncan gets one against Chang, and uses it to chase him around, keep him in the back of the classroom, and prevent him from getting lunch. He refers to it as his Chang-repelling force-field. Chang later gets a restraining order against him for his use of the original restraining order to harass Chang.
    Professor Duncan: [Admiringly] Mutually assured destruction. Well played, Chang.
  • The Drake & Josh episode "Josh Runs Over Oprah" has the titular TV personality put a restraining order out on Josh for running her over, then trying to get into her hospital room to apologize. He's handed the restraining order at the end of the episode and is despondent...until Drake reveals that Oprah herself signed it.
  • Referenced in Friends. Ross gets Phoebe tickets to see Sting; she has to ask him, "Will these seats be within 50 yards of Sting or any member of his family? Then that's not illegal!"
  • Josh Groban got one against Sandy Ryerson on Glee. Which he ah, announced to Sandy in person.
  • In one episode of House, the title character has a restraining order put on him for violating a DNR. He has the patient moved to a room directly above the clinic so he doesn't have to do clinic duty.
  • In NCIS, Abby got a restraining order against her stalker ex-boyfriend, which he repeatedly violated over the course of the episode. Toward the end, while he's sitting in an interrogation room and waiting for Gibbs to come in, he starts complaining that what NCIS is doing to him qualifies as harassment, and that maybe he should file a restraining order against them. Abby, who's watching him through the two-way mirror, mutters sarcastically about how that tactic "worked wonders" for her.
  • Played for Drama in The Practice when exonerated serial killer William Hinks (Michael Emerson) tries to get around his restraining order against Lindsay by studying her routine, showing up where she goes and pretending he couldn't have known she was going to be there.
  • Law & Order: SVU had an episode where four witnesses asked for orders of protection against the man they were about to testify against. These would work on similar principle to a restraining order, forbidding the man from going to their workplaces, homes, etc. or he'd be tossed in a cell until trial. Unfortunately, as was pointed out in the show, the law requires that any such orders state specifically where he is not allowed to go, so when the orders were issued, the man now knew where the witnesses lived, worked etc., information he had not had before.
  • The Criminal Minds episode "The Road Home" has an Asshole Victim abusive husband that violated his restraining order to try to kill his wife in broad daylight just after their children had left for school (as she sarcastically points out, "you can see how 'restrained' he was"). You can guess why he became an Asshole Victim.
  • CSI: Miami played it mostly straight in a third season episode. One of the suspects had a restraining order against another suspect but since it was only for 150 feet, the second suspect had quickly worked out she could still be within his general vicinity at all times without violating her restraining order.
  • Referenced in an episode of MythBusters, where Adam gives a laundry list of comparisons to show what 500 yards of distance is, capping it off with "the distance of your average restraining order".

    Literature 
  • In Making Money, after Pucci has pushed into Cosmo's study:
    Cosmo: ...and you are forbidden to come within fifteen yards of me. I have an injunction.
    Pucci: And you're not allowed to be within twenty yards of me, so you broke it first.
  • In the Incarnations of Immortality novel "For the Love of Evil", the Dominican friar Parry asks the Lawful Evil succubus sent to corrupt him to leave him for a day. When he begs, she does leave him, for precisely one day. When he objects to her return, she says calmly "I have left you for a day, Parry."

    Music 
  • In the Dixie Chicks song "Goodbye Earl," when Wanda filed for divorce against her eponymous abusive husband, she had a restraining order put out against him. It didn't do a thing, as Earl "walked right through" it and sent her to the hospital. When Mary Ann, her best friend and Blood Sister hears of this, she drops everything to be at Wanda's side, and they decide to get together and kill him.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In one storyline, Stephanie McMahon took out a restraining order against the Undertaker. However, there was no restraining order against Kane...
  • In another storyline, Owen Hart took out a "TRO" (Temporary Restraining Order) against Steve Austin.
  • Booker T finished his feud with The Boogeyman when he revealed he and his wife Sharmell had taken a restraining order against Boogeyman.
  • In 1999, Triple H had a restraining order against Vince McMahon (who was a face at the time), leading to one angle where numerous men in Vince McMahon masks came out to go after H.

    Urban Legends 
  • Reputedly, a judge somewhere handed one of these out against a woman's ex-husband, requiring him to among other things refrain from setting foot on the street where she lived... Except on Wednesday mornings, because he was a garbage collector and his route took him past her house.

    Web Comics 
  • In Ctrl+Alt+Del, Lucas takes one out against his first girlfriend (who was starting to get a little creepy, may or may not have run him over with her car to meet him and was showing Yandere tendencies). Oddly enough, she's never seen again (apart from once as a hallucination).
  • In The Order of the Stick, Miko Miyazaki gets the lawyer Mr. Rodriguez to get a restraining order put on Belkar so he'll stay away from her horse, who he has a deep-seated hatred towards. The problem? Belkar's Chaotic. Belkar had earlier gotten one against her Detect Evil ability, which she's so Lawful Stupid she actually goes along with.
  • xkcd gets creative with it.
  • In Homestuck, John points out that Cirque de Soleil got a restraining order against his dad due to what can only be considered a Noodle Incident. This may however be a simple ruse on Mr. Egbert's part as he's not that serious about the clowns.
  • In General Protection Fault, Mercedes de la Croix, Trent's lawyer, puts a restraining order on Fred, forcing him to work tech support from home while he's on trial for libel against Trent. When Dwayne hands out bonuses, Fred has to come to work to get one (apparently no direct deposit system exists at GPF), and while there, uses his remote control ability to force Trent to do humiliating things and get arrested.
  • In Sam and Fuzzy, Earl gets a restraining order against Fuzzy. And a can of bear repellent just in case.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In one CartoonNetwork short, Mr. Jinx from The Huckleberry Hound Show is handed a restraining order (or rather, he gets it pinned to his chest) that reads "Whosoever wears this order is not to stand within three feet of Pixie and/or Dixie." Every time he does he's beaten up by cops in a Big Ball of Violence. Jinx resolves the situation by unpinning the restraining order and sticking it on a grandfather clock in the Wraparound Background, letting the cops have at it.
  • The Simpsons
    • In "On A Clear Day I Can't See My Sister," Lisa gets a restraining order on Bart that is physically enforced with a giant pole. Lisa, of course, quickly abuses this and begins moving closer to Bart, which forces him to move further away and out of the house. Which if Bart had brought up in his appeal to the judge instead of insulting her would have easily got it removed since Lisa was violating it by following him around.
    • In "Lisa the Skeptic" during a court case where Lisa stands accused of destroying what might be the bones of an angel, Judge Snyder orders science to stay 500 yards away from religion at all times.
  • In Futurama, Bender says "I'm going to go get Calculon's autograph! To hell with that restraining order!"
  • Timmy Turner got one against his Stalker with a Crush Tooty in one episode. It expired up by the end of the episode, though.
  • Samurai Jack provides the page quote (from the husband in an estranged bounty-hunter couple who are both after Jack).
  • In King of the Hill, Dale gets a fifty feet restraining on Hank after his finger was accidentally sawed off as a result of his goofing around. The judge also forced Hank into anger management class.
  • The Family Guy parody of Star Wars reimagines Obi-Wan Kenobi as an elderly pedophile (namely, Herbert) and Darth Vader as a toddler (namely, Stewie). Just before their lightsaber duel, "Vader" reminds "Kenobi" that there's a restraining order in effect against him.
  • The Looney Tunes song "We Are In Love" regarding Lola Bunny's obsession with Bugs includes a threat from Bugs to get a restraining order... which she promptly points out is rather difficult to enforce.
  • In one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, Squidward gets a restraining order against Spongebob. This causes much difficulty due to the fact that they work the same shift at the Krabby Patty and have to interact with each other to get anything done during working hours (Rearranging the shift schedule so that they don't have to work the same shift is never brought up as a solution, as that would make sense).

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