Loophole Abuse

Screw the Pythagorean Theorem, I have loopholes!note 

Q: Explain Newton's First Law of Motion in your own words.
Calvin: (writing) Yakka foob mog. Grug pubbawup zink wattoom gazork. Chumble spuzz. (aside) I love loopholes.

Someone does something outrageous by finding a loophole in the rules, which were too narrowly written to consider such possibilities. Loophole Abuse is a form of Refuge in Audacity — which still allows the agent to claim they were following the rules.

Sometimes the loophole doesn't really exist, but the competitor makes everyone think it does. Occasionally, the loopholes were planted to enable Loophole Abuse.

Contrast Bothering by the Book, where someone becomes a pest by following the rules to the letter, without looking for loopholes. If someone else finds a loophole, it's My Rule-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours. Not unknown to be used in Just Following Orders and Exact Words. If a rule is instituted solely to close the loophole, you have an Obvious Rule Patch. Also related is Suddenly Significant Rule, when a rule usually given little thought is invoked—either because it opens a loophole or closes one.

In games, this may often be the result of some kind of oversight by the creators. A programming oversight can cause someone to do something they did not intend, such as killing a mob intended to be invincible.

Common variants are the Animal Athlete Loophole, which exists because no rule bars animals from playing sports, and Flexible Tourney Rules, wherein a character's abilities may violate the rules of the game. Scrabble Babble is Loophole Abuse for Scrabble. When applied to Tabletop Games, it becomes the annoying Rules Lawyer. See also Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty.

In Real Life, this is rare for two simple reasons: First, loopholes are quickly closed once discovered. Second, many systems have Rule Zero: some designated referee, judge, or authority figure has the absolute final word and can simply throw the argument out wholesale, usually by claiming that the "spirit" of the rule never intended to allow what the "letter" of it seems to say. This rarely happens in fictional instances because of the Rule of Drama; such a power would either be abused or written out as a Storybreaker Power.

A favorite weapon of the Jackass Genie.

See also Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught. Related to the Lord British Postulate, which may require some Loophole Abuse to pull off. If the requirement is "death" and the loophole in the definition allows the subject to "die" without actually dying, that's a subtrope known as the Revival Loophole. May result in She Is the King when a country would rather deal with a female King than a possibly bloody Succession Crisis.

Several examples refer to the old name of this trope, Ain't No Rule.


Alternative Title(s):

Aint No Rule, No Purple Dragons, Air Bud Clause