Scoundrel Code

A Great Big Book of Everything teaches, well, everything. A Big Book of War teaches details on how to deal with, well, war. Then there is this book, or this set of rules. Usually Played for Laughs, it teaches pirates, thieves, less savory people, scoundrels in general and those that want to be more like said scoundrels how to behave for their best gain. Its suggestions and rules are usually less than ethical, when not outright illegal. Less savory anti-heroes and other protagonists will often quote it. Antagonists will quote it less often.

Depending on the society in a Planet of Hats, this kind of list can actually be a central tenet of its culture. Due to its nature, the people that follow such a code tend to be good or amoral. Evil characters may consider it as advice, but ignore it for profit. A chaotic character may lack the discipline to follow it, or may prefer to improvise. Lawful folks won't usually follow such a code unless said code is the cultural norm. The Lovable Rogue and others of the Trickster Archetype are prone to following this kind of code. It is always dangerous to count on someone following the scoundrel's code and many even instruct their followers to ignore the rules for results.

Compare Honor Among Thieves, which is an actual moral code for the criminal or unsavory. Also compare the Evil Overlord List, a meta/Genre Savvy version of this for Evil Overlords.


Fan Fic
  • The Killer Rarityverse: Rarity promises to never hurt Sweetie Belle the other five members of the Mane Six or foals.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Pirates' Code (Or Pirata Codex) is one. Also patently silly, since freedom from authority is one of the main reasons for being a pirate in the first place. This is probably why they are rarely hesitant to stray from it, so long as Captain Teague isn't in the room.
    • "The code's more like guidelines, than actual rules."
    • The idea of a Pirate Code isn't entirely silly, as every pirate ship did have rules- the 'ship's articles', and strict ones at that ('Black Bart' Roberts' rules included a strict 10pm bedtime for anyone who was not on watch), just in order to function (you can't sail a tallship if you're not organised). These were, however, written specifically for each individual ship (sometimes extending to the crew's behaviour ashore), not to the whole trade.
      • The most important part of the Articles was the table spelling out what percentage of the treasure each pirate received. This often also included a "worker's comp" system specifying a certain amount of gold for a lost hand, leg, eye, etc.
  • In Casino, Ace Rothstein talks about his soon-to-be wife Ginger following "the Hustlers' Code" — basically, making sure that she pays off everyone who is in a position to help her carry out her profession as a high-class prostitute, so they have an incentive to do so.

  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Han Solo's mentor Roa has Roa's Rules: Never ignore a call from help, steal only from those richer than you, never play cards unless you're prepared to lose, don't pilot under the influence, and always be prepared to make a quick getaway.
    • Bounty Hunters in that universe also have an accepted code of conduct. No Bounty Is Worth Dying For; People Don't Have Bounties, Only Acquisitions Have Bounties (meaning that anyone you are being paid to shoot is just a target, not a sentient being); Capture By Design, Kill By Necessity; No Hunter Shall Slay Another Hunter; No Hunter Shall Refuse Aid to Another Hunter; No Hunter Shall Interfere With Another's Hunt (the rules of not sabotaging/killing other Hunters rule are not in play with the Great Hunt, where the goal is to compete with other hunters, however); and In the Hunt One Captures or Kills, Never Both (meaning you don't kill an unarmed target who has surrendered. If they try to escape is another story).

Live-Action TV
  • The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which range from harsh ("A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all.") to pragmatic ("You can't make a deal if you're dead.") to Pet the Dog ("Good customers are as rare as latinum. Treasure them.")
  • Hustle often refers to 'the Grifter's Code'.
  • Dexter has the "Code of Harry" which allows him to uphold a measure of control over his Serial Killer tendencies.
  • Dennis Stanton, a Gentleman Thief who, after going straight, became a recurring character in Murder, She Wrote, maintained his own code of conduct; never steal anything his victims couldn't afford to lose, never steal anything of sentimental value, and only steal items that were insured by a specific insurance company. The last one's more for personal revenge, as the company in question refused to pay for a treatment that could have saved his wife's life.

Tabletop Games
  • The Dungeons & Dragons d20 System Reference Documents have variant rules for an "honour" system which can include this sort of moral code as guidelines for characters to follow. In said SRD are included the Thieves' Code and the Mafia's Omerta — both of which mix Honor Among Thieves and Scoundrel Code.
  • GURPS offers a Pirate's Code of Honor in addition to the more standard types. It is, needless to say, less restrictive.

Video Games

Web Comics

Real Life