"The great thing about lawyers is, they make LOTS of copies."
Bob realizes that he was caught into some type of trap or blackmail. Unfortunately, he has signed a contract. Bob goes to Alice, who tricked him and demands what the problem is. Alice points out all of the obvious not obvious statements in the contract, which leads Bob to rip up the contract in Alice's face. Alice's not too mad about it, since she made tons of copies. If used for blackmail or media release, this can be used in by a significantly Genre Savvy
character to avert the Genre Blind
response to Have You Told Anyone Else?
. In pre-digital media involving blackmail photos, expect the blackmailer to say something like "I have the negatives."
When this happens with a character
, see Expendable Clone
. Contrast No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup
open/close all folders
- Colonel Mustard and Wadsworth engage in this in the film Clue. Ultimately subverted, however, as the negatives are later destroyed.
- Dilbert has Mordac the Refuser telling Wally he wishes to discuss Wally's request for a computer upgrade. Mordac then proceeds to eat Wally's request right there and tells Wally they lost the paperwork. Wally proceeds to pull an entire pile of paper out of his desk saying he's glad he made seventy five extra copies.
- In Dracula, the Count breaks into the heroes' headquarters and burns the Scrapbook Story they've been keeping of the ordeal. How is the reader still able to read it? They had a backup copy in a safe. All this before the days of hard drives!
- At the end of Flyaway by Desmond Bagley, the hero confronts the Corrupt Corporate Executive who's behind it all with the evidence proving him guilty of a long-ago murder, among other crimes. He hands the man a certified copy of one piece of evidence which is immediately thrown in the fireplace. The hero just laughs and says there's plenty more where that came from.
- A comic sci-fi short story by Harry Harrison had Da Chief bullying one of his men to take on a mission instead of going on leave, citing a clause in his contract, which he produces for effect. The hero draws his raygun and disintegrates it, but the computer just prints out another one.
- In Ayn Rand's We the Living, Andrei Taganov blackmails Pavel Syerov by threatening to send the authorities a compromising note Syerov had written. As he realizes Syerov may have him killed and in any event is already contemplating suicide, though he does not admit this, he tells Syerov that he has made copies of the compromising note and given them to friends, with instructions that they should be sent out if Syerov doesn't keep his word.
Live Action TV
- Blackadder II played with this. When blackmailing the Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells by showing him the paintings made of him and Percy in a sexual romp, the Bishop attempts to destroy them. Blackadder stops him, telling him that "We have the preliminary sketches."
- In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mac tries to settle Dee's contract dispute by eating her only copy of the contract. When the Lawyer reveals that he now owns the deed to all of Paddy's merchandising, Mac snatches the deed and eats it. The Lawyer just laughs and says he's made hundreds of copies.
- Dukes Of Hazzard: Boss Hogg once ate such a contract.
- On Angel, Wesley burns Lilah's contract with Wolfram & Hart, only for a fresh copy to immediately appear in the drawer.
- At the end of I, Claudius, we see Nero and his mother burning Claudius's autobiography. Fortunately he made a copy and buried it.
- Happens in I Love Lucy when Lucy tears up a paper saying that she would agree not to overspend, Ricky then pulls out a copy saying, "I made a copy."
- In another episode, Ricky and the Mertzes burn the novel Lucy wrote starring insulting caricatures of all them. Lucy laments, "If I'd known the type of people I was dealing with, I'd have made a carbon copy"... before smiling and saying smugly, "It just so happens, I do know the type of people that I'm dealing with." She then proceeds to collect the three other copies hidden in various places around the room.
- In Veronica Mars, when Weevil shows the blackmail material he has on the Fitzpatricks to "save" the PC Hers. When asked if he made copies he replies "Lots of them!" and comments that now the Fitzpatricks will have to keep him safe to stop them getting out.
- Frank Drebin in Police Squad!! does a Genre Savvy twist on this. In one case he has only a photostat (copy) of a piece of evidence, and the copy isn't admissible. So he instead cons the Big Bad by freely offering him the photostat as proof that he does actually have the evidence.
- In the Sherlock episode "A Scandal in Belgravia", Irene Adler tells the CIA agents that she has hidden copies of all the secret information she extracted from her marks. Neither they nor Sherlock believe her because they think that a unique set of information would be more valuable to sell. It doesn't occur to any of them that the CIA agents are, by attempting to steal the apparently unique information at gunpoint, demonstrating the reason that this is a trope.
- In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness episode 5 Maderas sends a challenge to Laharl to contend for overlordship on the back of a embarrassing photo, he threatens to scatter copies of set photo all across the Netheroworld if Laharl does not comply.
- In American universities, it's standard practice for graders to make photocopies of tests and assignments before returning them to students since students have been known to alter their answers and appeal for a better grade.
- Similar to the above, many universities or schools will make a policy of not returning final examinations to students for a set length of time. Grades will be made available and students allowed to review their scores with the instructor (by request), but the actual examination is required to remain on file until the student no longer has the option of appealing.
- Truth in Television: Lawyers will always have a copy of whatever document someone wishes didn't exist. Corporations and certain other entities are required to keep documentation of their activities for a certain period of time, which is very useful if you're the party doing the "blackmailing" (i.e., suing).
- Intelligence agencies attempt to avert this trope as much as possible. In an emergency situation, such as an attack against an embassy, at least one person will be tasked with destroying as much documentation as possible, continuing even if the walls come down.