"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 smart 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.
—Chris McLean, Total Drama Island
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- Colonel Mustard and Wadsworth engage in this in the film Clue. Ultimately subverted, however, as the negatives are later destroyed.
- In one of the F/X: Murder by Illusion movies, a killer demands to know if Rollie Tyler has made any copies of the video showing him committing a murder. Tyler denies it, then 'accidentally' glances at a pile of discs on his desk (in truth, he's only just found the evidence and hasn't had time to copy it). The killer moves to collect the discs, giving Tyler a chance to escape.
- Played with in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Laureline threatens to shoot one of the Doghan Daguis (a trio of alien Knowledge Brokers) to motivate the others into giving her the information she wants. However they point out that their knowledge is divided among the three of them — kill one and the information is incomplete.
- 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.
- "The Repairman", 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. Then the Chief docks his pay for the cost of printing the copy.
- 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.
- The 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.
Lilah: Flames wouldn't be eternal if they actually consumed anything.
- 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.
- Hunter. A blackmail victim pays a man for photographs of a homosexual affair, then asks if the blackmailer made copies. The blackmailer just smirks and says that if his friends call with another demand, he'll know they made copies. Unsurprisingly the victim decides to take the chance of shooting him on the spot, in the belief the blackmailer is working alone.
- In the Babylon 5 episode "Rising Star," Captain Sheridan is forced to resign his commission in exchange for amnesty for himself and his people for their role in Babylon 5's rebellion against President Clark. This turns out to have been a batman gambit on his part, since he's now president of the new Interstellar Alliance, and so would have had to resign from EarthForce anyway to take up his new post. When he finds out, General Foote demands the agreement of amnesty back, only to learn that it's "someplace safe," but the reporters outside all have copies.
- The Professionals. In "Not A Very Civil Servant", a Corrupt Corporate Executive arranges for The Dragon to kill off an accountant who knows too much. Later the executive goes through the accountant's files and finds evidence that he had been making photocopies of every document as Betrayal Insurance. When The Dragon asks how he knew to look in the first place, the executive reveals that he's been taking exactly the same precautions against his smarter Dragon betraying him.
- In the Regular Show, Benson realizes that Peeps is pretty awkward around the house. That prompts him to call and demand a refund. Peeps shows him the contract and points out all the loopholes he missed. Benson begins to get angry and tears up the contract. Peeps only laughs and mentions he made copies.
- In the first episode of Total Drama Island, Gwen tears up her contract when she finds out what the competition will really be like. Naturally, Chris is prepared for this.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob and Patrick were having a snowball fight and Squidward, having nothing better to do, wanted to watch. But as soon as he did, they signed a peace treaty. Squidward tore it up...
SpongeBob: That wasn't the peace treaty. That was a copy of the peace treaty.
- In one episode of CatDog, Winslow catches Cat reading Dog's diary and video records it. Cat agrees to be Winslow's slave, but at one point destroys a video copy, only to learn that there are more copies.
- 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.