Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!
"With daddy as the Pope, I could do as I pleased, was ace!
I'd kill a man who'd dare to, like, invade my personal space"
A character is able to Screw The Rules, simply because their friends or family
are very influential, powerful, or wealthy people. Can be Truth in Television
, especially with The Mafia
and similar criminal organizations
A Favored technique of the son of the Villain
Wives of powerful men often do this, as do their children. And their brothers. And their nephews
. And their sisters. And their mothers. And their... oh, you get it by now.
Often phrased as: "Do you know who my dad is?"
See Also Coattail-Riding Relative
, Daddy's Little Villain
, Knows A Guy Who Knows A Guy
, Screw the Rules, I Have Money!
, and Screw the Rules, I Make Them!
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Anime & Manga
- In the first few episodes of One Piece, Helmeppo can do whatever he likes because his father, Axe-Hand Morgan, runs the town. Morgan actually hates his son, but lets him use his name and authority as long as it doesn't put a dent in his ego.
- The World Nobles are an even more extreme example. If there's someone they can't shoot and is openly defying them, an admiral gets involved immediately. Arguably the only people in the world who could get away with defying the World Nobles are the Four Emperors — not even the Seven Warlords of the Sea (who have a notorious amount of Ultimate Job Security) can get away with that. Though this is because one of the Emperors alone is enough to challenge the World Government and the Marines with sheer manpower rather than any kind of strong influence beyond that of pirates.
- Doflamingo is able to fake quitting the Seven Warlords because he is a former World Noble. According to him, he isn't considered one anymore by the others, but he still holds clout as a descendant of one of the World Government's founding families.
- Caesar Clown attempts to invoke this trope at the tail end of the Punk Hazard arc, citing all of the people who rely on his factory, the weapons he makes from it, and even all the children who suffer under him. Luffy promptly responds that he doesn't care.
- Vampire Hunter D film. Greco, the mayor's son who sexually harasses Doris Rumm.
- This happens in the novel, and is not the only example in the series.
- Mokuba Kaiba, in his Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series incarnation. "My brother is Seto Kaiba; I can decide who lives and who dies."
- Also Kaiba himself in the Abridged Series. "Screw the rules, I have money!"
- Shut up, Mokuba.
- A woman who gets into an altercation with Bamboo Blade's teacher, Toraji-sensei, uses her position as the superintendent's next-door neighbor to get him fired.
- Averted in the fourth Detective Conan movie, Captured in her Eyes. When the police superintendent learns that his son had a connection to a murder case, he personally orders the investigation re-opened to discover the truth.
- Every single target of Akumetsu, being filthy-rich megalomaniacs, Corrupt Corporate Executives, and/or Sleazy Politicians, in any combination. Not that this stops him.
- Miyano from Maga Tsuki is able to get so much stuff done via this method that it borders on Reality Warping.
- Season One of Hell Girl early episodes featured some antagonists who were like this.
- Used by both the heroes and the villains in the various iterations of the Ghost in the Shell franchise. Quite memorably, in the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex TV series, a perp managed to avoid conviction partially thanks to this trope, and in response Chief Aramaki quietly arranged his "accidental" death in a car accident and hushed up any investigation that might follow, neatly demonstrating that the trope goes both ways. In another incident, some college kids were running an amateur organ black market, under the impression that their influential parents would get them out of any trouble. The Major literally scares the piss out of them instead, though her motivations were more personal than getting around their connections.
- Dr. Chrome Ballanche was able to dabble in the forbidden arts only because he was a lifetime friend of the God Emperor of the most powerful nation around, even if his intentions were noble.
- Oz from Pandora Hearts frequently exploits his connection to Jack, the "Hero of Sablier," as well as his own standing as a member of one of the four dukedoms. On one occasion, he threatens to use Jack's influence to turn Pandora against Duke Barma when the latter attempts to arrest Alice and Break. Another time, he pretends to have accessed his connection with Jack in order to deceive Isla Yura. Unfortunately for Oz, this connection backfires when it's revealed that Jack isn't the shining hero of Sablier everyone thought he was, but rather the villain who caused the whole tragedy in the first place. Oz does not take this revelation well at all.
- Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai: During Season 2 of the anime and Volume 8 of the novels, there have been attempts to destroy the Neighbor's Club via RulesLawyering. The issue this time was that it turns out that Maria wasn't actually a teacher or a nun at the school, and Kate was just letting her think that to make her go to the school and behave. This means that the club didn't have a supervisor as is required in the school rules. Sena proceeds to get her daddy(the chairman) to fix the problem by having him appoint Maria as a temporary part-time instructor meaning she could now be their supervisor. Aoi(the Rules Lawyer in question) then tries to get them shut down for not having an instructor when the club was formed, meaning their club shouldn't exist in the first place but Sena then proceeds to tell her that if she does not cease and desist she will have her reputation ruined and expelled. Needless to say, Sena won that round.
- In Akame ga Kiru!, the depraved group Wild Hunt often excuse their actions by pointing out that they are sanctioned by the government, and their leader Syura is the son of Prime Minister Honest. After, Wild Hunt rapes and kills Bols' wife and daughter and then Syura attempts to rape Kurome, Wave says he doesn't care and kicks Syura's ass.
- That Yellow Bastard and Kevin (both with heavy ties to the O'Rourke family) in Sin City. Fortunately, Hartigan and Marv don't care.
- Agent Graves in One Hundred Bullets. He spends the first half of the series giving out cases with a gun and well... you know. Graves is so connected that if a bullet from his cases is found at a crime scene, the investigation stops altogether. Any friend of Graves' is flat out allowed to get away with murder.
- In the She-Hulk graphic novel, Jessica is captured by SHIELD and forced to be strip-searched in public in front of male personnel and in violation of all established procedure. Dum-Dum Dugan, acting director, comes in and is furious at this abuse, and orders the agent responsible confined to quarters pending a formal reprimand. The agent threatens to use his connections, and Dugan gets a harsh phone call by those connections ordering him to let the agent go. (He didn't get away with it; he was the first casualty of a sentient swarm of cockroaches who invaded the craft, who used him as host. More than likely, his last few moments weren't pleasant. On top of that, this led to the Helicarrier being destroyed, one of SHIELD's biggest disasters; in all likelihood, those powerful connections he called didn't retain whatever authority they had much longer...
- Subverted in a Donald Duck comic where Donald works at a theatre. The son of a mob boss basically threatens his way to being the leading man, despite being an incredibly bad actor. The subversion occurs when Donald breaks and becomes as angry as only Donald Duck can be, telling the guy just how bad he is. The offended young man calls upon his father... who turns up and thanks Donald for finally standing up to his obnoxious son, who is always using his connections to get away with stupid stuff.
- The Death Note AU Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything has a Running Gag where L goes around introducing all of his coworkers and his rivals and his enemies to his "good friend" the prime minister.
- In Waking Nightmares, a rare heroic version of this is used when the Flim Flam brothers come to claim Sweet Apple Acres, which they did actually win in the series. Trixie promptly points out the multitude of ways that the heroes could use their own connections to make their victory decidedly meaningless.
- In Diaries of a Madman, Navarone's unusual friendship with Celestia keeps him out of prison and gives him a lot of leeway in what he does, though it's also because she finds him too useful to imprison, and resorts to non-standard punishments instead.
- Roy Desoto basically used this in this Emergency! fic, but for good rather than bad reasons. John Gage is sick and hospitalized, and Roy is the only one who can usually keep him calm-John usually gets upset in this author's fics without his friend around when he's sick. Roy was on vacation, and Dr.Brackett cleared him to go into Johnny's room upon knowing he was heading back home. A nurse fails to get the message and tries to turn Roy and his wife away, and Roy tells her to call Dr.Brackett, who's one of the head doctors on staff. Brackett isn't happy to find out about the whole thing,especially since she was mistreating Johnny as well.
- Bad Future Crusaders: Babs Seed is able to get away with much more than other members of the guard simply because she is Captain Rumble's ex and a lot of characters are afraid to mess with her purely out of fear of what he'll do to them if they do. Also at one point Dinky makes it perfectly clear Babs would have been punished severely for attacking Featherweight, but is lenient because of her own friendship with Rumble.
- Discussed in The Headhunt. A conversation between the nonhuman members of the USS Bajor's command crew has them basically decide that the Federation law banning Augments from Starfleet or public office (see DS9: "Dr. Bashir, I Presume") not only runs counter to Federation values but is actually unconstitutional under the Articles of Federation. However, the humans are terrified of Augments thanks to the Eugenics Wars, and because they have so much political mojo in the Federation nobody's had the balls to mount a legal challenge and get it struck down.
- Batman Begins: With nearly all public officials in the pocket of Carmine Falcone, this is the main reason why Bruce Wayne became Batman to fight crime.
- Mean Girls: I don't think my father, the inventor of Toaster Struedel, would like that I'm not on this list.
- When Willy Bank, the antagonist of Oceans Thirteen, tries to use this as a threat against Danny Ocean, Danny replies he has all the same connections and they like him better.
- Boondock Saints: Yackavetta. Not that it helped him.
- Schindlers List: A rare positive example: Oskar Schindler's membership of the Nazi party and friendship with senior Nazi officials are the reason he can save the lives of his eponymous List. (Well, that and a certain amount of outright bribery.)
- Sorority Row:
Kyle: Are you crazy? Do you have any idea what my father is capable of?
- Henry Simmerson from Sharpe tries to pull one of these on Arthur Wellesley. He gets smacked down with a single sentence.
He who loses the King's Colours, loses the King's friendship.
- Honor Harrington: Pavel Young lived and breathed this trope.
- Clive Cussler: Many of the villains have massive influence and wealth; the Vigilante Man only stops them.
- Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter.
- He uses the threat "When my father hears about this..." at least once a conversation, at least in the earlier books. It's not particularly effective. In the first book, when he says he's going to tell his father about how he has to go into the Forbidden Forest for punishment, Hagrid dismisses the threat, saying that Lucius Malfoy would tell him that's how things are done at Hogwarts. In Book 4, bringing up Lucius Malfoy practically makes Mad-Eye Moody né Barty Crouch Jr. salivate at the thought of an excuse to talk to a former Death Eater. Particularly one he hates for his lack of fealty to Voldemort.
- Similarly, Umbridge's connections in the Ministry allow her to literally get away with (attempted) murder in Book 5, as she's still around in Book 6.
- Snape's connection to Dumbledore allows him to get away with blatantly unprofessional conduct that would get him banned from teaching in a Muggle school.
- James Potter. You'd think the fact that a Prefect hung around him most of the time would hamper his ability to bully people... except, that prefect was also one of his closest friends (because James didn't ostracize him when he learned that he was a werewolf before the werewolf became school prefect) who preferred to simply look the other way in regards to James' bullying. Though, to James' credit, he outgrew the bullying behavior by the time he became Head Boy.
- Percy Wetmore from The Green Mile. His Catch Phrase practically is "I KNOW people!!!" whenever anyone starts thinking of doing anything to him. Subverted when the others show that they too know people. He even got his job as a Death Row prison guard through his connections. Edgecombe couldn't figure out why he'd want a job like that, but seeing Percy treats the inmates, it's pretty obvious he likes feeling he has power over someone.
- In Are You In The House Alone, Phil Lawver is the son of a very wealthy and/or influential man. When he rapes the narrator, the police chief refuses to even open an investigation on him due to his family connections.
- This used to be the case in Discworld's Ankh-Morpork; an ongoing theme is the way Sam Vimes and Lord Vetinari have made it harder and harder to pull this off, providing an almost endless source of plot conflict as the city's Blue Blood population fight for their privilege.
- Falcone, closest thing to a Big Bad in the Warchild Series, has been arrested once before and sent to prison. His connections either broke him out or saw fit to release him early (the books are rather vague on that). When he gets arrested a second time, he tells our heroes it's a waste of time and brags about how he'll be out again. Indeed, he doesn't even make it to the prison when a group of his loyalists arrive to free him from the custody of the Space Marines. But in a fitting turn, he is murdered on the docks because one of our gray heroes can't bear to see him get away unpunished.
- This is the stock in trade of the "looters" in Atlas Shrugged, who essentially make themselves into an "Aristocracy of Pull".
- Miles Vorkosigan, the Barrayaran Prime Minister's son and Emperor's foster brother, occasionally does this; he considers it a last resort. He still gets in a lot of trouble, and the time he does try to use connections to keep from losing his secret covert ops identity after injuring an officer during a seizure, then falsifying the report of the incident, it doesn't work, though he still gets a medical discharge instead of dishonorable discharge and a further sentence. Really, his usual philosophy is more "Screw the Rules, My Results Will Justify It" or "Screw The Rules, I'll Deal With the Consequences Later".
- Similar to the Discworld example above, this used to be the case for the aristocracy in general, and the efforts toward reforming the government to stop this are frequently mentioned.
- Subverted throughout the Codex Alera series. Several times, egotistical figures with connections attempt to invoke their connections or just pull rank on their own authority, only to be outmaneuvered or simply punched out. The one time saying "Screw the rules, I have connections" works in the series, it's a bluff. One Hiliarious In Hindsight moment in the second book has a character saying "I have connections" to defuse a tense moment between some guards and an enemy nation's ambassador, but it's only a bluff because he's really just a page boy and student acting on no authority but his own. The Hilarious in Hindsight part is, he actually is the legitimate prince, but no one knows it except for the enemy he's trying to bluff.
- Occurs in a brief exchange in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. A man trying to get Mannie to get the government to buy patriotic buttons for members of La Résistance gets the brush-off. The man takes umbrage, threatening to go directly to Party Chairman Adam Selene, a close friend of his. Mannie is unimpressed by this statement, since Adam Selene is an alter ego of Mike. Since only Mannie and two others know that Mike is secretly a sentient computer, it's pretty obvious that the man is bluffing.
- A rare good example in Oblomov. Tarantyev's buddy thinks he can pull off robbing Oblomov blind, but his friend Stolz happens to be on first-name base with the general, who gets Mukhoyarov (said buddy) fired.
- Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: The Vigilantes definitely use this trope to accomplish their missions and with style! In fact, it seems that Washington, D.C. pretty much requires everyone to make use of this trope. A number of the bad guys use this, and John Chai from Vendetta happens to be very explicit, considering how he was promising the Vigilantes that his father would make them pay (The Vigilantes were not intimidated by this, for the record).
- Another rare heroic example in The Raven Cycle: Richard Campbell Gansey III lives among psychics, spirits, and magicians. His super power? Calling in favors. He uses this power for good, either to help a friend in trouble (such as when Ronan faces expulsion or Adam presses charges against his father) or to further his search for Glendower
- Deconstructed in The Phantom of the Opera: The original book by Gaston Leroux shows the consequences of a society that embraces this principle: The opera managers know how to play politics better than to manage, and who the opera singer knows is more important to being The Prima Donna than to sing better. This means that everyone is a Stupid Boss who doesn’t know how to do his job. Every employee knows that, so the bosses are Properly Paranoid about being pranked by them because nobody respects them. They also are the ideal victims for a BlackMailer, and that’s how Erik (the titular phantom) could convince them to let him do whatever he pleases.
- Lightly used in A Deeper Blue. When an admiral objects to Adams pulling a cigar, the former is asked to check whose authority is behind him.note The man quickly gives in.
- The Hunt for Red October: A Soviet doctor who was drunk on duty botched what should have been a simple appendix removal. Being the son of a senior party official, he remained unpunished for the violation of the rules and the death resulting from it. This is part of what drove Ramius to defect, as the victim was his wife.
- In the fourth book of Protector of the Small, Neal puts a spell on an abusive innkeeper that will prevent him from beating his servants by reflecting the pain back on himself. When the innkeeper says that it's illegal to force a magic on a person, Neal says that nobody's going to believe the innkeeper over Duke Baird of Queenscove's son. (To be fair, the innkeeper himself implied that he was buddies with the local magistrate and they're in a border town with an impending war, preventing a by-the-book resolution.)
- This trope is directly responsible for the entire Archer Christifori arc in the BattleTech Expanded Universe and, it could be argued, the eventual salvation of the Lyran Alliance against Clan Jade Falcon. A rookie officer with heavy political leanings towards the increasingly oppressive Archon Katherine Steiner-Davion kills Archer's sister when supposedly picking her up for an interview because he shot first and asked questions later. When the junior officer escapes harsher sentencing thanks to his family's political connections, this is the final straw for Archer, who ends up liberating the planet with a force 1/3 the size of the army holding it, then capturing the neighboring planet, then going on to wage a behind-the-lines war against the Archon. He pretty much comes out with a victory at every turn as one of the most effective leaders of the Davion war effort and even manages to turn such influental forces as Snord's Irregulars and future Archon Adam Steiner against Katherine while also holding off Clan Jade Falcon's attempt to invade the Lyran Alliance.
Live Action TV
- Subverted in the Sharpe TV-adaption.
Simmerson: I have a cousin at Horse Guards, sir... and I have friends at court.
Wellesley: The man who loses the King's Colours....loses the King's friendship.
- Crusade: The Pro Zeta Corporation uses its influence with its clients to avoid an investigation.
- In Scrubs, a medical student is annoying the shit out of Elliot, because his father is the CEO of the corporation that owns the hospital, so Elliot can't punish or treat him badly. After Kelso tells Elliot that it's his job to kiss his father's ass and that she should go out and kick his ass, she does so.
- Cole, one of the medical students introduced in season 9, is the son of a major donor to the hospital, and pulls this to get away with screwing around in the hospital. While it does keep him from being expelled, it doesn't keep anyone from getting back at him for his general jackassery.
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 short film "Cheating", Johnny gets caught cheating on a test, and Tom Servo riffs, "Fortunately, your mob ties will get you off, Johnny."
- Scooter on The Muppet Show gets by (at least early in the show) mostly on the fact that his uncle owns the theater where the show takes place. He's not necessarily a brat about it, and he doesn't make that many demands, but just casually mentioning his uncle is enough for Kermit to cave in instantly. (Scooters uncle appeared in one episode, and it's easy to see why someone would be afraid of him. He's a nasty guy to work for.) This aspect slowly disappears over time.
- This almost has to be happening for Lee "Apollo" Adama in Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined). Having your dad be the head of the Colonial Military can mean you get cut a lot of slack. At the end of season 1, he commits mutiny and puts a gun to the head of Galactica's XO, but this doesn't seem to hurt his career much. Towards the end of season 2, he's even promoted to commander (over a few higher-ranking and more-experienced officers, the aforementioned XO included — though events early in the season hint said XO wouldn't be the best commander) and put in charge of his own Battlestar. And is there any other explanation for in season 4 when despite the pressing need for experienced pilots at all times, he is allowed to quit the military for good and gets shoehorned into a Quorum seat, which allows him to temporarily rise to be president when Roslin is missing, mostly because they needed a candidate his father would accept? Given what we have seen of the lack of options open to ordinary people of the fleet and the need for all those in essential positions to do their duty all the time, one can't help but feel Lee is lucky to have the opportunities he has. And, in fact, he lampshades this a bit. At Baltar's trial, specifically, he notes that he had done some ridiculous things that should have gotten him prosecuted at least... but he was forgiven.
- Part of a climactic scene in late season three of Dexter. Dexter confronts a monster he's created by reminding him of the evidence he has. Miguel's reply? "You got what, a ring? I got fucking CITY HALL!" Of course, he never did learn exactly who or what Dexter really is...
- In the Japanese Tokusatsu Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, a group of villains are incredibly calm towards Sen-chan's questions, annoyances, and at one point death sentence because one of their fathers is a judge for the Space police. Unfortunately for them, Sen-chan just decides to kill them before they have time to tell their connections.
- Castle is a surprisingly benign version of this... while he uses his influence as a best-selling mystery author (and the fact that he has the mayor on speed dial) to be allowed to shadow Detective Beckett, he has proved quite useful, with his Genre Savvy providing breakthroughs in several cases, and on one occasion using his connections to rush evidence through the lab to close a case.
[after making a bet on whether or not their Vic of the Week was a CIA agent]
Beckett: All right, you're on!
Castle: [dials a number]
Beckett: ...who are you calling?
Castle: My guy in the CIA.
Beckett: [disbelieving] You have a guy in the CIA???
Castle: When will you learn? I've got a guy everywhere.
- Captain Montgomery is good at subverting this. He later reveals to Beckett that he could have gotten rid of Castle at any time ("The mayor doesn't run this place, I do"), but only kept him around because he thought it would be good for her. Also, when a suspect threatens to call the police commissioner, he replies "Tell him I said hi. And that I could use a raise."
- Practically everyone on Veronica Mars is guilty of some version of this. Veronica herself constantly exploits any and all connections she has in law enforcement. Usually justifiable, considering she lives in Neptune.
- In Dollhouse, it's not a person but the title business. It largely survives because it has a lot of rich and powerful people, including at least one senator and the Governor of California, on its client list.
- As the World Turns loves this trope because of its legacy families. Many of the characters, even just with ties to super couples and their parents/children, tend to be able to get away with anything on connections alone.
- On Burn Notice, one scumbag Abusive Parent uses his connections to protect his mobster brother. When Michael and company take out the scumbag by making him look like an unstable lunatic, it's mentioned in the epilogue that the brother will likely go down with him.
- This is the main reason why the Office of Disruptive Services team on Chaos is able to operate the way they do. They have connections going all the way to the White House. Their Obstructive Bureaucrat boss wants them fired, but as long as they do not screw up in a major way, their everyday misdeeds will go unpunished.
- One of the major themes on The Wire. Clay Davis and Irving Burrell are two of the biggest offenders.
- On Queer as Folk, a police officer who frequently uses male prostitutes accidentally strangles one of them. Luckily (for him), his long-time friend and former partner on the force is now the chief of police, and agrees to help him cover up the whole thing.
- JAG: Meg Austin's father was a friend with Colonel Oliver North (of the Iran-Contra scandal fame). Meg calls in a favor from "Uncle Ollie" once or twice when they need info they can't get through official channels.
- On Life, Russian gangster Roman Nevikov has a whole bunch of FBI agents in his pocket, which allows him to walk away from pretty much any criminal charges the LAPD cares to bring by claiming to be a federal informant providing information about terrorist networks.
- Done humorously in the movie Ike: Countdown to D-Day. The film made a point of showing Montgomery's (historically true) prohibition on smoking in his headquarters or at meetings he's attending, even to the point that Eisenhower, his superior in the Allied chain of command, wasn't allowed to light up. During the briefing for Operation Overlord given to King George VI, the king pulls out a cigarette, much to the distress of Monty who clearly isn't willing to tell his monarch that smoking is banned in the building. Immediately almost all the other senior Allied commanders, including Eisenhower, start smiling and also light up.
- Subverted in Game of Thrones "Walk of Punishment" when Ser Jaime of the wealthy and powerful House Lannister tries to bribe Locke into releasing him. Locke gives Jaime a well-deserved "The Reason You Suck" Speech, mocking him for acting as if he's better than others and in control, when in fact nearly all of his influence and power comes from his father, and that when separated from him Jaime is helpless and should talk more wisely. To emphasize his point, he then lops off Jaime's hand.
- Used frequently in Lawand Order Special Victims Unit. Though expect whoever just got off on that to get killed shortly after by a victim that couldn't care less.
- The McMahon kids don't fall into this too well...Shane's a fan favorite (the inversion of Vince in many ways, but he has broken out into one of his catchphrases once. Not the one you're thinking of though.), and while Stephanie is a bit of a bitch as well as a Daddy's Girl, she was a face in her General Manager days (and ironically, her reign came to an end when Vince beat her in an I Quit match).
- Being friends with a high-profile wrestler is a great way to guarantee a job. Brutus Beefcake owes his entire career to his friendship with Hulk Hogan. Kevin Nash was first brought into the WWF because of his friendship with Scott Hall, and then they became good friends with Shawn Michaels and former indy sensation the 1-2-3 Kid (Sean Waltman. They would form The Kliq and amass all kinds of backstage power for themselves, with Triple H joining in 1995. Later in WCW, the top wrestlers would try to become friends with Eric Bischoff and would usually get a huge push from it. Just ask Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Diamond Dallas Page, among others.
- The early Adventures in Odyssey episode "Camp What-A-Nut" features a low-key version of this. Chas Wentworth, son of a wealthy businessman who (among other things) partially owns the camp itself, has a well-earned reputation as a troublemaker who figures his money will cover any trouble he might get into. For once, among other things, this doesn't come hand in hand with being popular. In fact, it eventually comes out that he is caught in a cycle of being a jerk to everyone because most people don't like him because he keeps flaunting his cash on the flawed assumption that people universally respect money.
- This is what the various 'Influence' backgrounds in the World of Darkness represent. Vampires, being immortal, are especially prone to cultivating these. Particularly the Ventrue.
- Shadowrun characters can cultivate connections that vary in function, influence, and loyalty. Being a 'connection horse' is a popular way to make a socially-oriented character extra useful: having a ton of loyal friends in high places makes running the shadows fairly easy at times.
- While it may not be potent enough to really count for this trope (barring GM Fiat, of course), the 2012 version of the Iron Kingdoms RPG introduced a Connections system. Mainly representing membership to certain organisations, like the Order of the Golden Crucible or the Greylord Covenant, or a specific nation's military and these connections can provide some material help at the GM's discretion. The section does mention that it can't be used to, say, have the party's Mage Hunter use his contacts in the Retribution of Scyrah to call in a couple of Mage Hunter Strike Teams to clear out an Orgoth ruin for them.
- Played somewhat more straight with one of the Aristocrat career's starting abilities, Privilege. Short version is that he's immune to persecution for petty crimes and can only be tried by a court of his peers (meaning other nobles). A successful Etiquette roll can let the character demand hospitality and request aid from a noble not at war with his kingdom (so don't expect Cygnaran noble to get much help in Khador or the Protectorate) and gets a nice bonus so social skill rolls made against people of a lower station who recognise him as a noble. Drawback is that the punishments from a high court are typically quite severe.
- Hero System characters may have a "Contact" Perk, representing an NPC who is willing to do favors and pull strings.
- The Serenity Role Playing Game has two perks of this nature, "Friends in High Places" (for connections in society's elite) and "Friends in Low Places" (for criminal underworld connections). You can roll a die to get your contacts to help with problems, difficulty dependent on the magnitude of the request (e.g. a small loan is an easy roll, getting the Feds to back off is harder).
- Roy Cohn in Angels In America.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: At Act II Scene VII, De Guiche wants to Buy Them Off Cyrano, offering to say to his uncle, Cardinal Richelieu, whom Cyrano has already impressed, I'll gladly say a word to him for you. And at Act III Scene II, he lampshades how he will occult in a monastery:
De Guiche ...Hard by, in the Rue d'Orleans, is a convent founded by Father Athanasius, the syndic of the Capuchins. True that no layman may enter—but—I can settle that with the good Fathers! Their habit sleeves are wide enough to hide me in. 'Tis they who serve Richelieu's private chapel: and from respect to the uncle, fear the nephew. All will deem me gone...
- In Ace Attorney Investigations, these are the exact people the Yatagarasu tries to combat. It's also pulled by Alba in the final case. If he committed the murder on Allebahstian soil, then he only gets a trial in Allebahst, where he will surely get off lightly due to his war hero status. This is before Agent Lang shows Edgeworth's trump card to the Allebahst royal family; after that, Alba attempts to leave for parts unknown instead.
- Some of the bystanders in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City claim that they "know people".
- In Tales of the Abyss, there's an unusual example in that it's actually useful to the player outside of cutscenes: equipping Jade with his "Emperor's Best Friend" title gets you a discount in shops.
- Tales of Vesperia has 2 characters who due to their positions of power will probably be acquitted for their heinous crimes even after being arrested. Yuri murders both of them in cold blood before they're given the chance.
- In The Godfather 2, you can do favours for corrupt officials in exchange for getting their help later.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, doing favors for the jarls can result in the dovahkiin becoming a thane. It's mostly a ceremonial title, but one of the perks is the ability to force guards to overlook any bounty that you might have on your head. It only works if your crimes are minor, though.
- Oddly enough, however, the bounty for assassinating the Emperor is low enough for you to do this. (1500, 150% of the bounty for normal murder.) Sure, it was a decoy, but you didn't know that and your intent was to kill the real Emperor. This might make sense if you've completed the Stormcloak questline and liberated Skyrim from the Empire, but if you have, that in itself presents Fridge Logic as to why the Penitus Oculatus is still in Skyrim in the first place.
- The Thieves guild questline also allows you to do this; when you reach a certain rank you can bribe guards for half the normal price for bounties.
- Several quests in the game also allow you to bring up your title if you've become the guildmaster of a guild (by completing the relevant questlines).
- In Dragon Age: Origins, Bann Vaughan, son of the current Arl of Denerim, employs this trope throughout the City Elf Origin, first by responding to the Warden's threats with the stock phrase "Do you have any idea who I am?" He later claims the Alienage will be purged by his father should the Warden slay him.
- Having a high reputation with a government in the X-Universe series lets you get away with an absurd amount of murders. You can capture their flagship, murder the crew, then sell the fighter pilots into slavery, and you'll often take only a minor reputation hit unless you started slaughtering everything else in the sector.
- In Max Payne 3, the paramilitary leader Neves says that he knows a lot of powerful people. Max tells him that they won't be able to help him now.
- In Mass Effect 3, Aria T'loak, a crimelord and former de-facto ruler of Omega, is capable of bypassing Citadel customs by calling up the Asari councilor and telling her to give her permission.
- In the adult-oriented Visual Novel "Discipline: A Record of a Crusade", this is the primary reason for Leona's Rich Bitch personality. When she's able to use a jet to blow up a portion of a school building, and NOT get punished for it, not even the O'Rourke family has that kind of clout.
- This comic.
- Subverted in Arthur, King of Time and Space: Morgan (before she's openly evil) expects that as the king's half-sister she can do whatever she wants, but egalitarian Arthur has instructed his people that anyone saying "Do you know who I am?" is to be ignored.
- Girl Genius: While this is not at all Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, his paper doll sports useful phrases such as "Do you know who I am?" and "My father will hear of this!".
- In Terra Kaleb Ceros is still alive at the start of the comic because of somebody else's connections. He was sentenced to death for beating one of his subordinates to death, but Solus Kalar had his father, the Sovereign of the Asurian Empire, overturn the execution so Solus could use him in the Shadow Cabal.
- Rare heroic example in Kubera: Asha has such good connections that she can literally get away with murder. 29 times.
- Hilariously, Randy tries to invoke this trope, saying that he "knows people now" who can put a horse head in Greg's sheets — after he's spent three days as a male prostitute in Manwhores, while threatening him ineffectually.
- The Nostalgia Chick, as part justification for the high-grade (cameras in Nella's house across the country, stealing Todd's government pay records, that kinda thing) stalking she does.
- Invoked by one of the mayor's assistants in Welcome to Night Vale, she claims to have supernatural mayoral powers. She then urges to have Cecil's reporters look away, and then follows through before they do.
- Gaea from Noob has done plenty of ban-worthy stuff. Some of that stuff was cooperating with Tenshirock, who helped her get her avatar back when it was banned, then kept it from being kicked out a second time when she got framed by someone else in the webseries and novels.
- Used in Futurama with the Mayor's aide dating Leela.
- Parodied to some degree, since he likes to try and use his position even when it wouldn't make any difference (e.g. saying he's the mayor's aide and requesting a table even after the restraunteer in question cheerfully showed them to a table).
- The Simpsons:
- Subverted by Mayor Quimby's nephew, who is a Spoiled Brat, but didn't actually commit the crime he is thought to have. Also subverted in that in spite of Quimby's rampant bribery, his nephew still comes very close to being imprisoned for the crime.
- Marge benefited from this in an episode when she had a nervous breakdown and blocked traffic on a bridge. She was arrested, but Mayor Quimby immediately pulled some strings to get her released without charge. Quimby did it because he knew that if Marge went to jail, he could kiss the "chick vote" goodbye, but the results were still beneficial.
- One of the greatest examples is Ed Wuncler III from the Boondocks cartoon. His grandfather is the ultra-rich owner of... pretty much everything, so Ed gets away with... well, pretty much everything. Take, for example, his foray into bank robbery. It was bungled about as badly as it could have been, and when they get into the car, they start arguing and eventually ask the bank manager (who they had also kidnapped) for a second opinion. Later, back at Ed's house, a police officer shows up to return Ed's wallet, which he lost at the bank while in the process of robbing it. He even apologizes for having wasted Ed's time. It helps when your grand-dad owns both the police and the bank in question.
- Wuncler Sr. does this in the season three finale by calling The President of the United States to get a renegade agent to stand down.
- Courtney and her gratuitous use of her lawyers on Total Drama Action, which has gotten her multiple immunities and preferential treatment by the producers. As the show goes on, though, they eventually start to tire of her attitude. Her lawyers stop returning her calls.
- Very often Truth in Television, unfortunately. Hence the adage of "It's not what you know, it's who you know."
- Often tried (and failed) by customers featured on Not Always Right.
- Just because you're a surgeon or your father is Assistant Manager does not give you the right to treat the employees like crap or get away with stealing.
- Deconstructed by an employee featured on Not Always Working, when her uncle points out that not only does he not have that much power with the establishment, but he'd fire her for that crap, too.
- Olive oil companies in Italy can slip less than 20% of hydrogenated oil into their Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil and market it as 100% pure. Because the big names of these edible oil companies have political connections, this means that anyone buying Extra Virgin Olive Oil and hoping for its health benefits is possibly getting crappy hydrogenated oil with it.
- This is how Inheritance Cycle got widely published. Christopher Paolini's parents originally published it with their own company, until the son of a more well-known author read the book and said it was the best book written by a teen that he'd ever seen. Without reading it himself, said more-famous author told his publishing company, Alfred Knopf, about it, and they decided to publish it and promote it themselves. And the rest is history.
- The Battalion Dance, the story behind two of the rules on Skippy's List, has this as a major theme — basically, civilian wives going overboard with their "power" which they supposedly had because of who they married. Chaos ensued.
- Youtube Partners, immune to (most of) the rules of content nature restrictions and also don't have to have a relevant title or thumbnail.
- This mindset is so inherent to Israeli culture that it has its own special term - "Proteqzia" - somtimes sardonically referred to as "Vitamin P".
- "Go ahead, sue me if you dare [for killing a pedestrian and injuring another], My dad is Li Gang!" Even with the effort of the Chinese government to censor the outrage and provide a staged apology from Li Qiming and his father, Baodong City Public Security Bureau Deputy Director Li Gang, Qiming pled guilty and was sentenced to six years and fines of over half a million renminbi. The internet vigilantism in this case uncovered Li Gang's corruption and the Heibei University president's plagiarism.
- During the Ocean Marketing fiasco, Paul Christoforo tried to do this by listing PAX, E3, Germany the convention, the mayor of Boston, and many more as people who would back him. It backfired when Mike Krahulik, the co-founder and organizer of PAX, got involved in the situation, and told Christoforo to get lost.
- As any Army field officer knows, either knowing the right people in QM or having a NCO/private/dogsbody who does and being deliberately ignorant of how they go about their business leads to wonderful things being acquired for the unit that either are unavailable/waiting in a depot somewhere/need to be requested in triplicate.
- Raoul Wallenberg actually used this trope for good purposes, when he claimed Swedish Diplomatic Impunity while rescuing Jews from the Nazis.
- Ditto with Oskar Schindler and Albert Goering, the latter the younger brother of the Nazi Reichsmarschall, both of whom used their connections to save Jews and other victims of Nazism.
- The Royal Italian Army was filled with officers who got away with gross incompetence and were promoted due to friendship with important people and Freemason membership. Among the worst examples we have:
- Captain Hercolani Gaddi. During the initial Italian conquest of Libya, Hercolani Gaddi was placed in control of Sokna and tasked with supplying the troops of colonel Miani, sent to occupy Fezzan, but failed in his task for no apparent reason, resulting in Miani being forced to retreat and not suppress the start of the revolt that nearly kicked the Italians out of Libya. In the following investigation, Hercolani Gaddi was not touched thanks to his Freemason membership and friendship with generals Martini and Tassoni (Freemasons themselves)
- General Pietro Badoglio. Having anticipated the Austro-Hungarians would try and break through Italian lines at Volzana (an obvious weak point in his sector), he not only disobeyed orders to fortify the first line and keep the artillery ready for a fighting retreat (he placed his artillery in such a way they could shell into oblivion any breakthrough but could not escape if anything went wrong), but he did so in such a way his artillery would be unable receive his orders to open fire or even see they should have opened fire if the Austro-Hungarians attacked with mist (precisely the reason Cadorna wanted a fighting retreat). When the Austro-Hungarians attacked with misty weather as part of the Caporetto offensive they captured the artillery, making the defeat much worse (the main breakthrough happening at Caporetto, hence the name of the battle), but Badoglio was not sacked, and in fact entered the staff of Cadorna's replacement Armando Diaz, thanks to his Freemason membership and friendship with the king and his prime minister.
- Despite hard evidence, football player Matthew Barnett was acquitted of raping Daisy Coleman because his grandfather was a Republican state senator.
- Similarly, Manu Sharma was acquitted of murder despite hard evidence, because his father was an influential MP. In this case, however, the public outcry was enough to see Sharma retried and convicted.
- The very concept of Wasta in the Middle East, especially the Arabian Peninsula. Simply put, whom you know allows you to act above what is the written law. The origins are rather interesting as Middle East is built upon tribal and familial connections in what is until modern times, a harsh and lawless land. Therefore, most native Middle Easterners see connections not as an illegal way, but as quasi-legal alternative. While the very concept grates on the modern notion of "merit above all", the system of Wasta reinforces existing connection and trust; after all, if you personally know someone and can attest to that person's character, he or she would naturally be preferred to a stranger, even with an equal amount of skill. In essence, it's the phrase "better the devil you know" taken to its logical conclusion. To say that this is bordering on Blue and Orange Morality would of course, be an understatement, and with the entry of these countries to the global marketplace, frictions between native Middle Easterners and expatriates have been on the increase and is not expected to go away any time soon.