Let's face it: life sucks. Especially when you don't have much money to your name. This goes double in the world of fiction, where those thathave money always try to find ways to make things miserable for those who don't. Such things as The Power of Love and The Power of Friendship generally have no effect on them. As long as they have money, they can do anything... even get away with murder or crimes against humanity. Or Buy Them Off for whatever evil deeds you did commit. Therefore, a wealthy person who adopts this attitude has a greater chance of becoming a Karma Houdini than any poor person.
The sad fact is, this trope is literally Older than Dirt. Since the dawn of civilization, there have been rich people who have been shallow enough to believe that everything and everyone could be bought, and the old proverb, "Money is the root of all evil" is based on a passage from the Bible*
Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh! got away with a lot because of his wealth. The trope name comes from a line (quoted above) in the first episode of the Gag DubYu Gi Oh The Abridged Series, which parodied this. In fact, both the line and the concept are running jokes throughout the (abridged) series.
Also in the same episode:
Kaiba: I'm going to hire some thugs to kidnap you now. I'm a billionaire, so nobody will even think of pressing charges.
And from the YGOTAS flashback episode:
Kaiba: "My affluence makes a nonsense of the regulations!"
Kaiba also uses this trope when he narrates over a flashback of his days in an orphanage:
Kaiba: "This was back when I didn't have any money, so I was unable to screw the rules."
The joke is then reversed in the YGOTAS movie, naming another trope in the process:
Chazz: No one calls Chazz Princeton a coward! Foster: Talk is cheap, young duelist. Chazz: That may be, but I'm rich! And I'll spend whatever it takes to be the best out there! Foster: Ha-ha, that's just your problem — no amount of money can buy you that. You must earn it... if you can.
And as a video showed, by Season 3, it seemed the GX writers were deliberately tossing in jokes in the vein of The Abridged Series:
Ojama Yellow: Take it easy boss, you'll pop a blood vessel! Chazz: I don't care! I'll just BUY a new one!
Tower of God - Prince presumably only got as far as he did because his father bribed some test administrators.
Giovanni from Pokémon gets away with this, so much so that he can personally come down to the police station and bail out Team Rocket members.
Shirogane Ryou and Aizawa Minto from Tokyo Mew Mew are both obscenely rich, and love nothing more than to tick off Ichigo by showing off their wealth. However, they aren't all that bad.
Also, she has her own satellite to spy on his house.
The Kunos from Ranma ˝ are often depicted this way by fanon, although objectively other characters in the series do just as bad with fewer resources (Nabiki comes to mind).
Sometimes the Kunos really are this way. After steadfastly rejecting to sell a Phoenix Egg to Tatewaki, on the basis that it bears a terrible secret and the Phoenix Sword it bestows is too dangerous to exist, the owner of an antiques store quickly folds and sells the egg when slapped with a wad of bills. Twice.
Kazuharu Fukuyama from Girls Bravo, mostly to be an antagonist to the milksopy but ambivalent Yukinari.
Halekulani from Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo might be a parody of this. As a master of "Gorgeous Shinken" ("Fist of Gorgeous"), for him, money is power; his energy attacks are rated by their dollar value, and he can increase his strength by absorbing all the profits from the amusement park he owns. One of his more dangerous attacks actually turns his opponents into coins.
In Hana Yori Dango, the F4 is allowed to do whatever they want at school, including harassing students they haven't found a reason to like, just because their families donate the most money to the school. Later on, it's learned that Domyoji got away with beating a guy until his organs ruptured due to his family paying off the school and the boy's family. And later still, Domyoji's mother Kaede attempts to pay Tsukushi's family hundreds of thousands of dollars just to keep Tsukushi from dating her son.
The YakuzaVery Nice People chasing Hayate prior to this point do an inversion of this, "She has money, obey the rules." When one less-than-intelligent member asks why they don't kill everyone anyways, aren't they Card Carrying Villains? His smarter co-worker smacks him and says No, the YakuzaVery Nice People leaves people who do pay them alone. That's the point.
Suitengu actually lampshades this often in the series, as well as invoking the trope constantly. When he encounters the son of a debtor that he had just had murdered, Suitengu says "If you want my life, make money, then come and buy it."
A recurrent theme in Ashita No Nadja, where lots of rich people are portrayed this way.
Subverted with Hokuto of Cromartie High School, who transferred to Cromartie planning to intimidate everyone by threatening to get them expelled by his father, chairman of the school board... but he actually transferred to the wrong school. Not only is his father not the head of the school board, it's a municipal school and thus doesn't even have one.
The Black Black Club from YuYu Hakushoruns on this trope. It reaches a peak in The Dark Tournament's third round, which one guy turns into his own little Screw-the-rules fest.
And then, ironically, when the other members of the club use their money to screw with the rules further, he has them all killed.
Kakuzu from Naruto is shown to present this argument to Hidan when they go to capture a monk for a bounty. Hidan tells Kakuzu that killing a monk is a one-way ticket to hell, to which Kakuzu replies that even hell is run on money, and that he'll be fine.
Washizu from Akagi is able to get away with several murders, though it causes him some inconvenience. The cop Yasuoka figures it's a better idea to pit him against Akagi in a high-stakes game of mahjong rather than trying to confront him by legal means.
...And then the "Chairman" from Kaiji kicks it up a notch, having things like a cruise ship and a hotel to use as private gambling venues, with people disappearing or getting killed at them seemingly posing no problem.
This drives the plot for Liar Game. The elaborate organization manages to get away with forcing billion dollar debts on people simply because it's so rich and powerful (though it also helps that none of the people bothered going to actual, real lawyers).
And subverted spectacularly on Yokoya, who previously was able to buy his way out of any situation with money. In the Pandemic Game, one of his teammates had turned sides and locked himself in a room, forcing Yokoya to persuade to come out by offering money. But after slipping cheque after cheque underneath the door, the teammate still wasn't satisfied and kept demanding more money, until Yokoya lost his cool and began kicking the door in frustration. Then, we find out that it was Akiyama in the room all along and Yokoya had been giving free money to his archrival this whole time!
In Full Metal Panic, Sousuke is allowed to violate so many laws it's not even funny while attending school. He points loaded guns at people (and sometimes even shoots at them), places landmines and bombs everywhere, destroys people's private property without remorse, makes threats filled with killer intent... all of this is ignored by the head of the school. Why? Because Mithril makes HUGE donations to her for allowing Sousuke to attend school.
Eden Of The East features several characters with ludicrously large cash reserves and a concierge who helps them do whatever they want with it, including bribing the Prime Minister, serial murder, launching missiles at Japan, and building a nice hospital.
Bribing the PM only cost 60 yen.
In Umineko No Naku Koro Ni, you find out that Kinzo used a special scheme to buy up Rokkenjima against the laws of the Japanese government, and then bribed a bunch of people in order to keep it.
Dance in the Vampire Bund: Face it, there is no way short of paying off the national debt to get any first world country to allow (let alone build) a fully extraterritorial concession within sight of the capital, especially with a projected population of 100,000. Fortunately for the Vampire Queen, she has the money to do just that.
In Gamble Fish, Emily Dawn can do anything from shooting priceless artwork to driving a whole tank through a cafeteria wall, but because she's the scion of a rich American defense contractor and Abidani's niece, no one can do a thing about it.
In Kekkaishi, Yugami facilitates a jailbreak from an island by simply throwing a wad of cash into the face of anyone who objected. Rude but effective.
In Spirited Away, this is the "lesson" that No-Face learns from the bathhouse residents, where he gives them gold and he is able to have them do his bidding. Chihiro's parents had blind faith in their money ("Daddy's got credit cards and cash"), which gets them into trouble when they assume the price for eating the spirits' food is paper money or credit.
Until it fails to work for him in Ultimate Marvel when he's given a Destination Defenestration from his office at the top of a skyscraper. Although, knowing Marvel, it'll probably just be retconned.
It isn't quite as extreme in the Ultimate Universe. Early in the comic, Spidey hands a video of the Kingpin murdering someone with his bare hands to the police, and Fisk is forced to flee the country. While he does beat the rap, the heat limits his activities for a while and it's mentioned it dealt a serious blow to him.
The corrupt politician/businessman version of Lex Luthor from The DCU. His entire MO is doing evil things for his own gain and getting away with it, all without scratching his Villain with Good Publicity status by using loads of deeply entrenched influence to torpedo all evidence.
Sin City's Yellow Bastard could get away with anything (especially rape) because his father was a US Senator, and the patriarch of an excessively powerful and wealthy family that owns the bulk of Basin City.
Until Hartigan got ahold of him, the Yellow Bastard got away with child rape and murder.
Also from The DCU, there's foppish dilettante Most Excellent Superbat, who proudly claims this as his superpower. As he puts it in Final Crisis # 6: "I have the greatest power of all, Mister Miracle. I am so rich, I can do anything." Although it's left somewhat ambiguous as to whether he's referring to this (using his money to keep himself out of trouble) or Crimefighting with Cash, as he deliberately modeled his superhero persona on Batman. It's both, really; he's so rich he bought Japan.
Another pair of DCU examples - Niles "the Chief" Caulder and Steve "Mento" Dayton of the Doom Patrol. The former got implicated in arranging the "accidents" which turned the team members into freaks. The latter whipped up a gadget cranking his psionic abilities Up to Eleven, but has a side effect of With Great Power Comes Great Insanity which has caused him to turn into a criminal mastermind and try to kill his own adopted son! Furthermore, the only reason Dayton made that helmet in the first place was because he was a Stalker with a Crush trying to impress Rita "Elasti-Girl" Farr.
Scrooge McDuck is well-known for his meanness, but when it comes to treasure hunting, it's nearly the opposite. For example, in Don Rosa's "Guardians of the Lost Library", it seems that the Library of Alexandria is buried under a modern football stadium. A match is going on and the digging after the library will break it, which will be a breach of the rules. But Scrooge just says to the officials: "Okay, then I buy both teams and stadium."
In an older story by Vicar, when on a trip in the Australian Outback, he gets told the train leaves once a day, and it has already done so today. "My name is Scrooge McDuck *picks a million or two out from his Nice Hat* I hereby BUY the whole railroad. A train leaves NOW!" It works!
Nodwick: The answer [to the riddle] was "money", by the way. Yeagar: Weren't you paying attention? The answer is always money!
In a later strip, they bribe the local mayor to create a law against "looking evil without a license" to run a Lawful Evil wizard out of town (he hadn't done anything actually illegal at that point).
The Doctor Who Magazine strip gives us Josiah Dogbolter, head of intergalactic corporation Intra-Venus Inc., who attempts to buy the TARDIS from the Doctor.
Parodied in PS238. The Revenant, a Captain Ersatz of Batman, has not only one but several wealthy cover identities in order for him to integrate into civilian society. Most of said cover identities are on various state wanted lists for tax evasion charges, because The Revenant only pays taxes for one of them. He's also said that he thinks that having money might actually be the greatest superpower of them all.
Shows up at the end of the Blacksad premiere album "Somewhere within the Shadows". After offering Blacksad to come work for him instead of pursuing his revenge fails, Ivo Statoc instead tries to buy him off. Blacksad rejects him again and makes a point of defying Statoc's attempt to invoke this trope.
Batman RIP: The Black Glove mock Batman saying that there is no court they cannot bribe, and that they have even more money than him. They still lose the fight though. Then they are all killed by either Talia or The Joker.
Tsuruya's father in Kyon: Big Damn Hero turns this Up to Eleven, buying a hospital to reward one nurse for her diligence and buying a company to transfer one person. Being a Yakuza boss certainly does nothing to hurt.
In White Rain, Lucia van Alstyne tries this on the Hokage - Uzumaki Naruto. While it doesn't quite work, Shikamaru reveals that for all intents and purposes, she does own a hefty chunk of Fire Country, and probably Konoha as well.
"I own the police" is also attributed to notorious early 20th century gangster Al Capone, thus making this Truth in Television. Ironically, Capone's money (due to tax evasion) is what brought him down.
It's also strongly implied that the only way he keeps Lorraine from leaving him is by threatening to cut off financial support from her children, which would land them all in jail.
The mean and evil banker, Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life, who steals George Bailey's money and goads him towards attempting suicide.
The end scene of Small Soldiers is most likely a parody of this. Stuart (the father of the protagonist) tells the CEO of the company that made the titular soldiers that money cannot possibly compensate for the trauma they've been put through. Turns out it can, and he does several times just to prove the point.
The resolution of Chinatown revolved around this concept. It was alluded to rather blatantly in an old draft of the script, but it was removed at the behest of the director, who felt it was too obvious.
Subverted in Titanic when Cal Hockley attempts to buy his way into a lifeboat, only to have the money thrown back in his face just before the officer he gave it to commits suicide.
Played straight many, many times in The Distinguished Gentleman, a film about a con man turned U.S. Senator. Subverted somewhat unusually in the same film:
Lobbyist: For instance, where are you on sugar price supports? Tommy: Sugar price supports. Uhh... Where do you think I should be? Lobbyist: Makes no difference to me. If you're for 'em, I got money for you from my sugar producers in Louisiana and Hawaii. If you're against 'em, I got money for you from the candy manufacturers. Tommy: You pick. Lobbyist: Let's put you down as for. Now what about putting limits on malpractice awards? Tommy: You tell me. Lobbyist: Well, if you're for 'em, I got money from the doctors and insurance companies. If you're against 'em, I got money from the trial lawyers. Tell you what, let's say against. [...] Tommy: Terry, tell me something. With all this money coming in from both sides, how does anything ever get done? Lobbyist: It doesn't! That's the genius of the system!
Following a violent bank robbery in Dead Presidents, one of the robbers (who is also a preacher) feels remorse for his crimes and reflects that God cannot forgive him now. He even refers to the crooks' loot as "dirty money." One of his partners tries to reassure him by saying: "Now you can buy your way into Heaven."
In Jumanji,Van Pelt runs out of ammo for his turn-of-the-century BFG and can't find any more at the local gun store. When he demands a replacement weapon, the owner explains that there's a waiting period and forms he needs to fill out. Van Pelt promptly drops a handful of gold coins on the counter, and before you can say Jack Robinson, he has a brand-new, super-advanced, military-grade BFG in his hands.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. After overcoming great obstacles to liberate the Cross of Coronado, young Indy is greeted by the sheriff (whom Indy summoned earlier) and told to hand it back to Panama Hat, who has either impressed or bribed the sheriff.
In Addams Family Reunion, the family is mistakenly invited to another family's reunion, and when it looks like the eccentric billionaire grandfather is going to leave his money to the Addamses instead of his greedy relatives, the rich family reports Gomez and Morticia to a Department of Child Disservices, steals Wednesday and Pugsley away, buries Lurch alive, and has Fester thrown in an insane asylum. But luckily, the grandfather uses his power and wealth to bail Gomez and Morticia out of jail, rescue Lurch before he runs out of oxygen, and rescue Fester from the asylum, while Wednesday and Pugsley take care of their foster family themselves.
The Secret World of James Bond 007, a companion book for the Bond film series, invokes this in the From Russia With Love entry. In that film, Bond carried a gadget briefcase whose contents included "two plastic straps carrying 25 gold sovereigns. Useful for unforeseen expenses... or for bribing one's way out of trouble. "
A more benign example than most: Bruce Wayne bought a fancy restaurant when a staff member told him his dates couldn't play in the fountain.
Beautifully subverted in The Dark Knight Rises with John Daggett, who is funding Bane and thinks that makes him in charge.
Daggett: I am in charge!
Bane: [Puts his hand on Daggett's shoulder] Do you feel in charge?
Daggett: [Visibly terrified] I've given you a small fortune!
Bane: And you think this gives you power over me?
*Dagget's life is over a few seconds later.*
Discussed/parodied in Madagascar: Europe's Most Wanted. After becoming incredibly wealthy from gambling in Monte Carlo, Skipper decides he's going to buy an airbus made of solid gold. Kowalski tells him that such a thing would be impossible to fly. Skipper's response? "We'll be rich, Kowalski! The laws of physics won't apply to us!"
Hans Ebert in David Wingrove's Chung Kuo relies on this trope to get away with being who he is.
Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter weaseled out of many problems thanks to his wealth and social position. Fortunately, by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, his wealth couldn't get him out of staying in Azkaban until there was a second mass breakout due to the defection of the Dementors.
Flashman in Tom Brown's Schooldays, though eventually his behavior was too out of control for even his family connections to save him.
Another boarding school example is Vernon-Smith of Greyfriars in Billy Bunter, who gained a place in the school because the headmaster was in debt to Smithy's Nouveau Riche father. Knowing the head was powerless to expel him, Smithy proceeded to screw the rules with reckless abandon (his first act upon joining the school is to turn up drunk), amply earning his nickname 'the Bounder'.
"An arrest order has been purchased for you. It charges you with the murder of Sydney Liga. Do you wish to outbid?"
Unless it personally offends one of the ruling oligarchs to the point where he'd rather take it out of your hide even if doing so hurts his profits, whereupon no amount of money can save you. Then again, those oligarchs rule precisely because they're the richest and most unscrupulous bastards in town...
Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days had a habit of throwing large volumes of money at his problems, at one point going so far as to hijack a ship and then buy it (it had no cargo) from its owner en route to Ireland. The original owner got the iron hull and the engine back in the end — that is, by far the majority of the valuable parts of the vessel; the wooden superstructure (cannibalised for fuel) would cost a comparative pittance to replace.
Fogg had bet half his fortune on the outcome of the race, in full expectation that it would cost the other half to win. But it was the principle that counted.
Let's face it. Edmond Dantes, Determinator or not, wouldn't have gotten far into his elaborate schemes for revenge without his eleventy billion francs. He bribed a pope. (Although maybe that was just Truth in Television for the period?)
Artemis Fowl loves this trope. Not surprising, considering that the title character is a Teen Genius with his entire family's fortune at his disposal.
To wit: "We have two options; legal, and illegal [...] Illegal is faster."
Herman di Portola Bliss of the mystery novel Impossible Bliss is highly eccentric and more obnoxious. Though he's been arrested numerous times in his Santa Barbara hometown, he's never faced charges in court, because he's the last scion of the family that founded (and still owns much of) the town.
The eponymous character of The Great Gatsby earns his fortune for the sole reason to get with Daisy. He even thinks that he could reverse five years just because. But it's a subversion, given how epically Gatsby fails.
Julia Evans, the young billionairess in the "Greg Mandell" sci-fi series by Peter F. Hamilton. Granted, she lives in a world virtually owned by multinationals, but even a Corrupt Corporate Executive she has a grudge against is shocked when she buys the controlling interest in a Swiss bank in order to expose his scheme to steal from her corporation.
Flinx, of the Humanx Commonwealth series, is an Anti-Hero user of this trope, thanks to having some Sufficiently Advanced Aliens rig his bank account (as a favor). He mainly uses it to bribe his way around the Commonwealth, but loses some of that advantage after coming to the attention of the peaceforcers on Terra in Reunion. It's also blatantly subverted in Flinx Transcendent, where passing counterfeit AAnn currency on Blasusarr is what blows his cover.
Subverted, inverted, and played straight in Atlas Shrugged. Inverted in that the strikers are punished because they make money; subverted when Hank's Rearden's money fails to protect him during his divorce trial; played straight when Rearden is allowed to buy resources and sell his products how he wishes, despite legally binding orders to the contrary.
Subverted in Robert Aspirin's Phule's Company books; and one of the few examples of the trope being consistently employed effectively on the side of good. Most of the time, it's the titular Williard Phule, aka Captain Jester, using his vast wealth to foil Obstructive Bureaucrats who have the letter, if not the spirit, of the law on their side.
Used in one of the books in The Once and Future King series. Mordred argues with Arthur that their judicial system - two champions jousting, on behalf of the defendant and prosecution - was unfair since it was more of a battle of muscles. Arthur pointed out that the law allowed for each party to hire whomever they liked to be their champion and pointed out that if they switched to using lawyers, it would just be the same (each party could hire whichever lawyer they thought would best save their bacon). He finishes by pointing out that in the judicial system, whoever has the most money will most likely win.
Lady Schrapnell, the Upper Class Twit funding projects for Oxford's time travel department in To Say Nothing Of The Dog, puts the staff through a lot of abuse, which they only put up with because they really need those funds. One of her mantras is "rules are meant to be broken", which the department heads keep fruitlessly trying to explain to her doesn't work for the laws of physics.
Done in Night Train to Rigel by Timothy Zahn. The infiltrating alien enemy is convinced that its relocation to a new homeworld has gone undiscovered because there is only one interstellar Quadrail station in the Yandro system and it has it continuously under surveillance. However, the protagonist blackmails Larry Hardin, the richest man on Earth, into paying a trillion dollars to build another Quadrail station on the other side of the system.
In the Dale Brown novel Warrior Class, Big Bad Pavel Kazakov makes regular use of bribes when getting his oil pipeline built and has codified a system for doing so in his dealings.
In The Acts Of Caine, in ascending order of greedy bastardry: the Business caste, the Leisureman caste, and the Board of Governors.
A recurring trope in the Burke books by Andrew Vachss. A few times, it is noted that real wealth can persuade the otherwise-ineffectual police to get off their arses and be serious about their work, to the detriment of Burke's not-quite-legal Badass Crew.
Subverted in The Witcher, when Geralt desperately needs to get into a house guarded by a bully.
Geralt: They say money open all doors. (produces a nice pouch of gold) Bully: I cannot be bribed. Geralt: I'm not going to. (knocks him out with the pouch)
The 39 Clues has oh-so-many examples, but the biggest would have to be Isabel Kabra and her kids (although they aren't HALF as bad as Isabel).
In Jessica Martinez's Virtuosity, violinist Carmen's mother bribes the judges of a violin competition not to let her only worthy opponent through.
Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: The Vigilantes, especially Myra Rutledge and Countess Anne de Silva, need the money they have to accomplish their missions and with style. Prosecutor Jack Emery in Weekend Warriors did express hatred for how rich people think they're above the law, and brings that up in Free Fall. He does have a point, considering how a number of bad guys have money at their side, and have used it to keep themselves protected.
The Appeal by John Grisham: The main stockholder for a NYC chemical plant is looking to reverse a $41 million judgement. The head of a shadowy Florida firm tells him he can buy a seat on the bench of the state Supreme Court for a cool $8 million, only $1 million of which is actually recorded. Let the chess match begin.
In the Indian novel The White Tiger: Depressingly enough, the perpetual bribery that goes on between the rich of India and the government.
On NewsRadio, Jimmy James is a likable guy in some respects, but he frustrates Dave to no end because he can make up any rules and do anything he wants with his unlimited wallet. He secretly bought a newspaper and published a negative review in it just to motivate his staff; he plays around with the bonuses in one episode; and he's motivated more by a sadistic sense of fun rather than bottom line profit in terms of whether to give Matthew his job back.
One of the first examples on TV was probably Thurston Howell, III on Gilligan's Island. He kept trying to constantly bribe the rather gullible Gilligan into doing things for him. It doesn't work.
Law & Order often has these characters as defendants, as they usually hire the best lawyers; a Recurring Character named Arthur Gold putting in an appearance is a dead giveaway. If anyone's likely to get away with murder on these shows, it's them.
Gold seems to have been replaced as the go-to shyster by SVU's Lionel Granger.
Anyone with the last name Luthor on Smallville. Which includes Tess Mercer.
Edward Vogler in Season 1 of House starts running the hospital like an Evil Overlord, making calls about things like a dying cancer patient getting a C-Section, purely because he can threaten to withdraw a 100 million dollar donation if everybody doesn't say "How high?" whenever he says "Jump!"
Eventually subverted when he begins attempting to pick off board members who stand up to him; the rest of the board finally says, effectively, "Screw your money, we're going home."
Much later in the series, a wealthy man demands that House be the one that treats his son (as it turns out, House had his license revoked, but they go along with this anyway. Eventually, when even House can't figure out how to save his son, the man acknowledges that he's been practicing this trope all his life and blames the fact that his wife is dead and his son dying on "the karma", and tries to reverse it by giving up his entire fortune. The kid does get better...but the idiot still lost almost everything. What an Idiot...
What makes it worse is that he was specifically told that dissolving his company would make hundreds of workers redundant...and he did it anyway, which if anything would make karma even more pissed at him.
Actually, he gave everything up after House gave a diagnosis that said the man's son was incurable.
Stephanie Forrester from The Bold And The Beautiful. She has gotten away with accomplice to rape, harbouring a fugitive and accomplice-after-the-fact to murder. Among other things.
Subversion: Much of Arrested Development centers around the Bluth family learning to (read: not being able to) deal with the fact that they can no longer screw the rules now that they have no money.
Played straight when George Bluth finds and bribes some prison guards to sneak him out of jail and fake his death; this is referred to as "a loophole in the Mexican judicial system".
Subversion: Future show The Philanthropist stars a guy who has money and wants to give it away to good causes in very dangerous areas... personally. "Screw the rules, I'm giving you money!"?
The Ferengi in Star Trekhave money and greed as their hat. Interestingly, they aren't following the exact definition of this trope, as the rules of the Ferengi Alliance allow for bribery. So it's closer to "According to the rules, I can do whatever I want, here's my money."
Victor Kiriakis and Stefano DiMera (and their respective children) from Days of Our Lives.
Subverted with Jonas Hodges of season 7 of 24. As the wealthy head of a government contract army, it is assumed he's doing what he's doing to ensure his company gets contracts. It's revealed that he actually feels he's providing a service and protecting the country. The money is actually the last thing on his mind.
Becomes a plot point in Gossip Girl where Dan automatically assumes everyone on the UES has this attitude, which causes problems in his relationship with Serena. Has been played straight, or at least been attempted to, on a few occasions, yet not nearly as often as one might expect.
Sugar from Glee is a more toned-down version of this trope.
On Angel, the law firm Wolfram and Hart (it's actually more of a Mega Corp) existed essentially to help its clients screw the rules as much as they could afford. A good example of this came from Russel Winters, who used Wolfram and Hart to help him get around rules both legal, such as "don't eat young women", and supernatural, such as being unable to enter homes without an invitation. He simply owned the building.
Castle gives us the rare heroic version in the person of Rick Castle himself. He's very rich, very famous, and shows absolutely no hesitation when it comes to using those things to help his cop friends get through roadblocks he finds annoying (for example, calling the Mayor to complain to get a forensic test moved up the priority list).
They also used a straight example once, with an obscenely rich matriarch of a wealthy family of Kennedy expies - Castle himself pointed out that while he was rich, his money went into banks, while her money bought banks. So rich was she that one of her employees was a 'fixer' who arranged for the cold-blooded killing of a woman who was the daughter to one of her sons, had an innocent man sent to jail in his place, and eventually not only had the man killed in prison, but personally killed a bike messenger who was delivering evidence to the cops to clear the man's name. And all the while, she was more concerned about a missing ring that said fixer had stolen to help pay off the man in jail. Her relatives, thankfully, are nowhere near that bad.
This is George Hearst's MO on Deadwood; he and Aunt Lou's son have an extended conversation about this very point.
Daniel Post uses his wealth to corrupt cancer studies and buy human organs in order to try to cure his own lung cancer.
Degrassi gives us Peter Stone, a rich bastard who films Drunk!Manny stripping and makes it into a meme, but still dates her best friend Emma. In the next season, Emma's ex-boyfriend Sean, who is the school's hero after saving them all from a shooting, comes back, and Peter plants drugs in his locker. Then Peter and Sean start racing, and Peter goes to jail. His mother was the principal.
Raising The Bar has Richard Woolsley, a public defence attorney from an extremely wealthy family who tries to invoke this trope for the good of his clients. Subverted when his boss makes him understand why he cannot and asks to him to follow the rules. Invoked heroically yet again when he uses his money to set up a civil law division so his clients can have access to appropriate legal support after their criminal cases.
Averted on Bones with Jack Hodgins, who's the owner of a company that owns practically the whole Jeffersonian and a lot of other stuff, but he doesn't put himself above the rules. Also a Screw the Money, I Have Rules!.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has Catherine's dad, Sam Braun, who flirts with this trope a lot, rather typical for a casino magnate in TV-land. In one episode, he gets away with murder because he only ordered the murder and didn't actually do anything to convict himself. He's also not afraid to stick it to other casino guys from time to time, although not actually ordering any of them killed.
Chi Soo from Flower Boy Ramyun Shop lives by this trope and tries to do anything he likes. He goes into a melodramatic breakdown when he's told by his dad he can't drive his car to school anymore.
The Graysons in Revenge seem to live on this trope. Watching their every attempt to invoke this blow up in their faces is...satisfying.
The usual crew in Saved By The Bell had a fantasy of if they were to strike oil in the Pipe Dreams episode, how incredibly rich the school would be. Zack, to the teacher who reminded them about the test that day and that it was a rule says, "We have money, so there are no rules!" Being born in '86 and watching SBTB growing up, Zack was the only one I saw with a mobile phone in the 90's AND I think his dad was a lawyer...I always thought it was a big plothole in that Zack was obsessed with becoming rich!
In a mid-season one episode of Person of Interest, Finch gets a doctor to treat his critically injured partner without reporting the gunshot wound as required by law by handing over a bag with six or seven figures worth of cash in it. He also routinely uses his vast fortune to get Reese the access he needs for his investigations.
'My father often told me that money would set me free / If I would murder that dear little girl whose name was Rose Connelly' - Down in the Willow Garden, Murder Ballad
This was WWF wrestler "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Di Biase's whole character, right down to attempting to buy the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from Hulk Hogan for one million dollars when he couldn't win it in a match (no matter how much he cheated), and then using the money to hire Andre The Giant to get it for him when Hulk refused to sell. Once that failed, he simply made his own championship belt. With diamonds. And blackjack. And hookers. OK, maybe not blackjack. His Catch Phrase was, "Everybody's got a price!"
John Bradshaw Layfield, a more recent WWE superstar and a Real Life self-made millionaire, has essentially become an expy of the Million Dollar Man, with additional reactionary, racist, and jingoistic overtones. Imagine putting Lex Luthor, David Duke, J.R. Ewing, and Bill O'Reilly in a blender, and you'll have JBL.
Tangentially related: In season 3 of TWF, Bucks Gazillion used these types of tactics to win the title and then took over the Sinistras. Season 4 has every match ending with Bucks playing some dirty trick to help the Sinistra defeat the Dextera.
In Cabin Pressure, since Mr. Birling is an eccentric billionaire who gives extravagant tips, the employees of MJN Air allow him to do whatever he wants, from insulting them all to their faces to entering the flight deck in violation of anti-terrorism laws.
In Unknown Armies, plutomancers can utilize money to bend the rules of anything, including forcing people to shoot themselves, summoning any object, and dictating global economies.
Subverted in the game: the rules have some unusual skills, where a skill represents any available means of getting things done. One skill the core book suggests is for a percentage chance a rich relative bails you out at opportune moments. Now, according to the rules, you can screw the rules, 'cause your uncle has money!
And there's Axel Able. Fails to ascend to the Invisible Clergy, but screw that, he's going to control the Occult Underground because he has money.
In Warhammer, the Ogre Kingdoms special character Greasus Gooldtooth has three special rules dedicated to just how much money he has. These include one that has nearby friendly units fight all the harder in hopes of getting a higher pay, and one that allows him to bribe enemy units into not fighting for a turn.
Monopoly. The whole idea of the game is to get more money than everyone else. And the banker always wins.
The Syndicate in Mage The Ascension. One memorable description of vulgar (i.e. obviously magical) Syndicate magic, found on rpgnet courtesy of a Mr. "Random Nerd":
"Okay, and then I use my carefully cultivated financial contacts to... uh... you know what? Fuck it. Hey, you there, fire hydrant. If you turn into a flamethrower, I will give you two hundred dollars."
Blood Bowl is so inured with this trope that the referees' guild has guidelines for when and how one can accept a bribe for looking the other way, as well as union-regulated standards for the going rate of a bribe. Clubs (with the exception of goblins) are not allowed to offer less than the going rate.
According to the fluff, high elf teams, who are made up entirely of moneyed high elf nobles, frequently bribe opposing team players to play poorly.
The Planescape campaign setting of Dungeons & Dragons introduced the Merkhants, a sect with this outlook. The Merkhants were an organization of wealthy people who believed that the secret to understanding the universe was to own enough material wealth to buy its secrets. They believed that everything had a price, and that if there were things that couldn't be bought, such things weren't worth owning. Player Characters could join this group, so long as they were incredibly wealthy and had a non-Good aligment (because aquiring wealth for its own sake, while not necessarily Evil, is not considered a Good act).
In the Crapsack World of the Weill/Brecht opera The Rise and Fall of the City Mahagonny, Jimmy Mahoney is sentenced to death for the most heinous and foul crime of not paying his bar tab. Too bad he didn't have any money (nobody was willing to lend him any, either). If he'd had enough to bribe the judge, he could have gotten away with murder in cold blood, like the man who was tried just before him.
Cough up some cash in Pizza Tycoon and the police will let you get away with crimes and what not. Of course, if you are open about what you are doing, or lack the funds, you'll just make things worse for yourself.
In Oblivion, you can also use the bribe option to bypass the disposition roulette mini game; since several people consider this a Scrappy Mechanic, it's well worth any money grinding that may be required.
In Skyrim, if you're a member of the Thieves' Guild, you can simply bribe a guardsman to just look the other way and let you be on your way.
Colin from the Advance Wars games has this as his CO Super Power. By hoarding up loads and loads of money, it's possible for even his weakest infantry unit to wipe out an enemy Neotank in one shot. In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, his sister, Sasha, has a CO Power (Market Crash) that comes as close to screwing the rules as any CO Power in the game by actually lowering the enemy's CO Power meter by an amount decided by how much money you have.
Also, neither of these CO powers use up the money that they run on, so you can use them repeatedly, each time the effects thereof growing stronger (provided you don't spend more money on a turn than the next one will replace).
Just to make Colin's power even scarier, he has a 20% price cut on all his troops at the expense of some combat power. So he can get his neotanks for only a little more than his enemy is buying their heavy tanks. Zerg Rush is scary enough, but it becomes really scary when the "Zerglings" are doing 300% of your health in damage.
The "Montana Legal" upgrade in Scarface: The World is Yours slows police response times to half the pre-upgrade speed, giving Tony Montana some much-needed time to carry out his questionable deeds. Interestingly, in the original film, it was attempting to evade tax for his considerable profits that started Tony's downfall.
CEO Nwabudike Morgan from Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri. His only goal is to conquer the Fiction500 rankings... but what if a law prevents him from doing so? No sweat! He just pays his lobby groups and bribes the local legislators to have it changed.
And one of the winning conditions for the game is to take over the global economy.
Resident Evil 4. The rocket launcher. Able to One-Hit Killanything in the game. The downside? It's expensive (thus this trope), has only one use, and takes up an assload of inventory space until you do use it. Generally used to skip the player's personal One Boss.
Fugger 2 lets you play a merchant in the 17th century who slowly increases their influence over the country. From controlling the courts over rewriting the law to building up an army of robbers (and laying siege to cities), nothing is impossible as long as you can pay.
It is possible to completely avoid the fight with Mephistopheles at the end of Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark and get different endings by obtaining knowledge of his true name. The one person who can tell it to you will give it up for the small fee of 600,000 gold pieces.
It sounds big, but you can definitely scrounge up more than that over the course of the game without cheating.
In Final Fantasy X not only can you bribe monsters (including some bosses) into leaving you alone, but also into giving you items.
And then there's the Aeon Yojimbo, who you recruit by haggling an astronomic amount of money and the damage of whose attacks are based on how much money you pay him before each attack. He can even kill any enemy (even bosses) in one hit if you pay him enough (though the amount scales with how powerful the enemy is).
Slight subversion in that case, choosing the correct conversation option when you recruit him means he'll still pull out his one hit kill even when you only pay him 1 gil, so maxing out his speed makes him a bit of a game breaker.
In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link can bribe a guard with ten rupees to let him sneak into Hyrule Castle. A bit pointless, as there is a nearby vine you can climb up for free and you can't bribe any of the other guards past him, but what the hey?
These days, all it takes for your dreams to come true is money and power.
In The Godfather, bribing a Dirty Cop chief causes his men to turn a blind eye to your actions for a while if you don't raise your Heat level too much, while bribing a G-man on the take allows you to empty your Vendetta meter, causing enemy mobsters to stop bothering you until such time as you anger them enough again, and is the easier way to win a Mob War.
It's the defining feature of self-professed Objectivist and Rapture founder Andrew Ryan in the first two BioShock games, as money plus power and influence seems to do more of the talking in his life even after he set up the societal rules of Rapture and ended up breaking them when Fontaine and Atlas proved to be formidable enemies.
Rapture itself is an extreme example as well as "Screw the Rules of Physics, I Have Money." Ryan had a city built on the bottom of the Atlantic in the 1950's. All he could say when told that he couldn't build it under the sea was that he "couldn't build it anywhere else". Talk about a Determinator.
The trope is institutionalized by the city's Bot Shutdown stations. Caught by a camera or set off an alarm? For a couple of bucks, those hostile security robots will fall out of the sky and leave you be.
Galactic Civilizations II. Did you pick the Evil choice in every Karma Meter event, then researched the tech that unlocks the alignment bonuses and decided you like the Neutral or Good rewards better? Don't worry, just buy whatever alignment you want with the money you made from being so bad.
ADOM. The game's powerful divine beings accept all kinds of sacrifices, but by far the most efficient is cold, hard golden cash. Regardless of how often the player has changed alignments, worshiped other gods, and regardless of the horrifying evils (for lawful gods) or dreadful goods (for chaotic gods) he has wrought, sacrifice enough money and you go from despised, hated and doomed by the gods to a blessed champion of his cause in one fell swoop. Gold can also be used to pump most of the in-game attributes, ad infinitum, and to violate the rules of time and space: Using a blessed girdle of greed in conjunction with talents that increase carrying capacity by a percentage, players can actually carry more weight the more gold they carry; the only limit being the integer range (a large enough pile of gold will convert into negatives). None of these facts would constitute a Game Breaker, were it not for the fact that players can obtain huge amounts of money fairly easily by exploiting certain bugs and game features.
Dragon Quest VIII: Prince Charmles shows just how little respect he has for the whole Rite of Passage when he has Eight and his companions do all the hard work hunting down an Argonian Lizard to harvest its heart, then thumbs his nose at their hard work by buying a heart in the marketplace. When they call him on it, he blows them off and gleefully presents the bought heart at his initiation ceremony, claiming to have singlehandedly slain the beast and harvested it himself. This comes back to bite him BIG TIME down the line, as his father saw him buying the heart, and lets Charmles keep lying about it until finally slamming him with an EPIC calling out at what would have been his wedding ceremony. To further twist the knife, in the best ending, he ends up losing his status as heir to his newly discovered long-lost cousin... who went through the trial already.
Used several times in the Ace Attorney series, when the culprit turns out to be a person in a position of money and/or power. The most blatant example is in Investigations, when Ernest Amano finds out that his son was potentially the murderer. After using his extended resources to actually be more effective than the police in searching the park for evidence, he actually buys the haunted house that contains the crime scene. Fortunately, Little Thief is there to save the day and recreate the scene.
As well in the first case, Redd White has so much money and has so many people blackmailed and panicked to do anything to stop him that he literally almost gets away with murder during the first half of the case because nobody feels safe to say anything and the girl on the stand, April May, doesn't seem to know him or at least doesn't want to get herself killed. When you finally do confront this jerk, he freely punches Phoenix, dares him to do something about, and says that tomorrow he will testify in court in order to prove their own innocence and finger Phoenix as the murderer.
Also subverted in Justice For All by Max Galactica. He tells Phoenix he's SURE he won't be convicted of murder, because he's rich and famous. When Phoenix points out that it doesn't work like that, Max panics. He's innocent, but you get him off the charge the proper way.
Grand Theft Auto, any one of them. Blow away a boatload of innocent people and cops? Lose your guns and pay a fine. Only much of a problem if it's early in the game and you have little money or it's later in the game and you lose all your good guns.
Except, you can bribe cops and doctors to keep your weapons in Vice City Stories. And in GTA IV, you don't even lose your weapons if you die, only if you're busted.
In the Mass Effect series, the Illusive Man has almost unlimited resources at his disposal. In the third game, there is a console that shows a video record of him ordering his lead scientists to bring a dead person back to life who was thrown out of an exploding spacecraft, was mostly burned up when entering the atmosphere of a nearby planed, and then crashed into the surface without anything to slow down the impact.
Scientist:"It can't be done! It's not a matter of resources-" Illusive Man:"It's always a matter of resources!"
In Portal 2, Cave Johnson exemplifies this trope. He seems to be running Aperture Science with no real consideration for the long-term effects of his actions, which ultimately leads to the company almost going bankrupt.
Cave Johnson : Now, the beancounters told me we literally could not afford to buy $7 worth of moon rocks, much less 70 million. Bought 'em anyway. Ground them up, mixed them into a gel.
A rare case of Screw The Rules I Don't Have Money
The Fable trilogy has lot of this, especially II and III. Someone report you to the guards for...murder, public indecency, assault, theft, vandalism, setting people on fire, you simply pay them and they go away. Same thing if there's something in a house you want and it's night. You buy the house, kick out the residents, and take what you want.
Also during the first part of Fable II, if you make enough money, you can buy the second best class of longsword way before you should be able to, turning most sword fights for some time into a Curb-Stomp Battle. You can also BUY experience vials, drink them, and get absurdly strong, fast, and powerful. Similar with augments, so you can turn ordinary swords into an Infinity–1 Sword.
It is also possible to buy powerful weapons in Fable III, you still need the skills to make them effective, but good chance they will be stronger than current weapons, some upgrades also require you to spend money.
There is also using money to get partially completed buildings and units finished immediately. You'd have thought that an enemy invasion force sitting outside the city or the threat of imminent nuclear destruction would be motivation enough for the workers to give their all, but apparently cash is the answer.
In Monster Hunter Tri, there is a man in Loc Lac city who makes a fortune selling Monster Cola. He lets his wealth go to his head and soon adopts this attitude. However, he doesn't get away with rule screwing for long and he loses all his money when he sends out a tainted batch of cola. But when he's dirt poor again, he decides to invert this trope entirely:
Uppity Instructor: "Screw the rules! I'm broke as dirt!"
Dune II: House Ordos is a mercantile House that is only concerned with generating revenue to sustain the elite-class of their society. As a result, they rely heavily on hired mercenaries to do their fighting for them. But as long as they can safely get to the spice melange and harvest it for their own benefit, they absolutely do not care how many expendable pawns they have to buy off and send against their enemies.
Non-Idle Rich girl Mulberry Sharona manages to pull off such schemes as messing with Presidential elections and staging a fight between Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons. She even once declared, "I fear no authority!"
Domain Tnemrot. Despite the fact the organisers were ready to kill the main characters for violating the rules, once they realised the crowd was loving the show being put on, everything was forgiven and they even mention changing the rules so it can happen more often.
The Scottish Empire in A Scotsman In Egypt simply bought off each new Pope, allowing their decidedly un-Catholic rampages against the other Christian powers to go completely unpunished, even going so far as to dump bags of gold on the new Pope's desk without even a Mea Culpa.
Sonic: But isn't that against the rules of the game?
Eggman: Screw the rules! I have a big fat ass!
On /tg/, 4chans' traditional gaming board, there are many tales of that rude, cheating, unwashed neckbeard who stinks up the entire game shop...but the owners don't kick him out because he spends so much money there.
Worker: You can't just walk in here like you own the place!
Bruce: I do own the place.
Subverted, in a way, since the scientist still insisted he follow the rules.
C. Montgomery Burns, Springfield's resident centenarian and lone plutocrat, once tried to block out the sun just to squeeze more money out of the townsfolk (since he owns the town's only power company), shrugs off serious allegations and charges with money and bribes, but still indulges in that joyful pastime of stealing candy from babies, with both disastrous results and hilarious consequences.
After being caught by the EPA hiding barrels of toxic waste:
Judge Snyder: Mr. Burns, in light of your unbelievable contempt for human life, this court fines you $3 million. Mr. Burns: Smithers, my wallet's in my right front pocket. Oh, and I'll take that statue of justice too. Judge Snyder: Sold!
In The Movie, he even gets away with releasing attack dogs upon The Chief of Police.
Mom fulfills his role in the year 3000 in Futurama
Princess Morbucks from The Powerpuff Girls. "I have the most powerful power there is! Cold, hard cash!"
Remy Buxaplenty. The fact that Butch Hartman was picked on by rich kids in high school has absolutely nothing to do with the character's horribly exaggerated portrayal, really. To be fair, he was given a Freudian Excuse when it was revealed that his parents constantly ignore him and he antagonizes Timmy because he's jealous of the fact that Timmy has both a set of loving parents (well, more loving than Remy's, at least) and Fairy Godparents. As the series went on, Remy's actions seemed to have less to do with his family issues and more to do with Remy just acting like a douche for no reason.
Timmy, meanwhile, may have an infinite amount of magical wishes at his fingertips, but he actually doesn't have infinite magical wealth at his fingertips, as shown in one episode where he wishes for a large sum of money so he can get tickets to a concert, only to find out that it's against the rules; fairies can't grant any wishes that break the law, and magically creating money would require either stealing or counterfeiting.
Montana Max uses his vast wealth to push the other characters around, and owns heavily polluting industries that make inane things like ice cream spoons and portable holes.
The some-what foils to Buster and Babs, Roderick and Rhubella Rat. For example they smoke in non-smoking areas (in most places that would get you thrown out), ban Buster and Babs from a public golf course (that they own), and in Acme Bowl Roderick and some of his classmates bribe Plucky into revealing the Toon's playbook secrets.
Ed Wuncler III, whose grandfather owns everything in town and will never be arrested or prosecuted for anything. Riley even said "you're lucky your granddad owns the police" after a badly botched bank robbery. Ed's partner Gin Rummy denied it works that way, and claimed they got away with it "because I am a criminal mastermind"... right before a cop comes by to return Ed's wallet from the scene of the crime.
His grandfather Ed Sr. isn't much better. In one episode, he converts a health food restaurant into a soul food restaurant (firing all the employees except the illegal Mexicans in the process) in order to drive down property values in the area and convince the city to sell him a public park. In another episode, he uses a pony (which may not actually ever have existed) as leverage to perform a hostile takeover of Jazmine's lemonade stand.
He takes it pretty far when he tries to KILL a man so he can profit from his death. He intended to have his building blow up with the security guard inside and orchestrate it as a terrorist attack. He believed that, like the 9/11 attacks, the nation would come together and mourn and he'd be able to sell memorial items praising the guard as a hero. This trope is directly (and hilariously) lampshaded in the following exchange:
Jack Flowers: Look, Huey, nobody is above the law. Wuncler is going to pay for this. You have my word. The Director: Excuse me, everyone, can I have your attention? I'm afraid we have to abort the mission to arrest Ed the Third and his grandfather. Jack Flowers: What?! What about the bomb?! Director: Sorry, Jack. Turns out some people are above the law. Wuncler will not pay for this. You have my word.
Vlad Masters from Danny Phantom fits this trope. In fact, about the only thing he can't buy is the Green Bay Packers. And Maddie. Or Danny. He can't buy Danny's love (No, not THAT kind of love, sorry Vlad/Danny shippers) either.
David Xanatos of Gargoyles. His introduction to viewers included the phrase "Pay a man enough and he'll walk barefoot into hell." The guy owns everything, all the shiny toys, all the best lawyers, everything. A fan joke is that Xanatos is so rich, he could afford to pay all the people necessary to say "hell" in a children's cartoon series. A DISNEY children's cartoon series no less.
However, part of his character development is the realization that not everything can be solved by money and manipulation.
For example, he can't buy his way out of a prison sentence for receiving stolen property.
He did get the sentence shortened to a month. When he should have been in prison for years for orchestrating the entire theft. Again, all part ofthe plan. In this case, to show himself a good citizen.
In Hercules: The Animated Series, the king of Atlantis, Croesus, bribes Hades and the Fates to prevent losses following a prophecy involving his city sinking. In the end, Atlantis sinks, complete with Hades delivering his check back, allegating "your bank went under". Another episode has Adonis delivering checks to all before him in a queue to get attended quickly - three times!
There was an episode of DuckTales in which a nightmare version of the boys' Uncle Scrooge tells them, "I'm RICH! I can do ANYTHING!!"
Scrooge's biggest rival, Flintheart Glomgold, is a much more geniune example of this trope on the show.
The main characters of Metalocalypse have this in its ultimate incarnation: "Screw the rules, the world economy would fail without us!" One episode also featured a movie producer rich enough to push even Dethklok around.
More like he was enough of a Jerk Ass to think he could get away with it. Par for the course, that doesn't end well for him.
Rusty McCabe in Neds Newt. The town mayor is his parents' old friend, and is more than eager to bend the rules of the great city scavenger hunt in his favor ("Remote Possibility"). Similarly, he takes Linda for a date to an amusement park owned by his parents, and inexplicably seems to win all the time (the employees are threatened with being fired if he ever loses). ("Carnival Knowledge")
In one episode of Sponge Bob Square Pants, Patrick was declared the long-lost heir to a kingdom and quickly let it go to his head.
There's also Squidward's snooty Always Someone Better rival Squilliam Fancyson, who likes to rub his wealth, fame, and success in Squidward's face.
Gordie Gibble on Kick Buttowski is this. Not only did he make his dad buy the "Go-Go-Go Kart World" just to spite Kick, but then tried to cheat in the go-kart race using dirty tricks and gadgets he'd bought with big money. He has also tried to beat Kick in BMX races using his money rather than his talent as a BMX "Legend".
Councilman: Mr. Griffin, this dog is a danger to society, albeit an articulate and charismatic one. But the law is the law and can't be circumvented by pretty words. Peter: I'll give you each $20. Councilman: Deal. He can go.
In the The Legend of Korra the White Falls Wolfbats due some extremely blatant cheating during the Final of the Pro-bending tournament, (throwing rocks in water, firing attacks longer than they are supposed to, etc.) and everybody (including the announcer) assumes they bribed the ref.
This was the attitude of the Terrible Trio, a three-man gang who appeared on Batman The Animated Series. Basically, they were three Spoiled Brats from very rich families who committed crimes simply for fun (brutally injuring more than one person in the process) and thought they were untouchable because of it. Batman's opinion of them summed it up perfectly:
Batman: People like this are worse than the Joker. At least he has madness as an excuse.
Lobbying. Sure, the law says that bribery is corruption and is illegal, but you need campaign donations. And an Army Of Lawyers need to eat too. Amped up with the Citizens United court decision, which means you can provide unlimited money in support of someone without declaring where any of it is coming from; The Colbert Report has had a pretty extensive segment skewering this.
Occupy Wall Street is drawing attention to the many instances of this in America.
Played straight to the point of Refuge in Audacity in the 2007 financial meltdown, though notably subverted with Bernie Madoff.
After the Cold War ended, many people in ex-communist nations accepted bribes, since wages ended with the collapse of the government. This resulted in millions of AK-47s and other weaponry being sold on the grey market and black market. And not just weapons - under the 'economic liberalization' program advocated by Western nations and agencies, and required for the post-Soviet nations to get loans, whole factories and industries were sold off to wealthy people who took them apart for parts and grew insanely rich, earning the name of 'oligarchs'.
Many defectors have used bribe money to escape North Korea and/or convince North Korean officials to ignore black market deals. Bribery became very common after North Korea's economy started to fail when the Cold War ended. North Korea depended on foreign aid to keep its economy intact. When Russia and China began to charge higher prices for petroleum and other supplies, the infrastructure suffered a breakdown that became worse after the famine. However, the Bribe Backfire can instantly apply if the bribe threatens the North Korean official with public exposure.
This also has applied to China. Bribes are paid so black market operations will be ignored.
In the Philippines, a bribe can do practically anything to circumvent petty traffic laws and bureaucratic red tape, to the point where politicians and policemen are nearly always depicted as crocodiles, eager to swallow up more cash. It works the other way around too - come campaign season, expect to see vote-buying on a scandalous scale.
An Older Than Feudalism example was Vitrasinus(?), a filthy rich Roman gladiator (that's right, a rich slave—it wasn't a contradiction in Ancient Rome) who purportedly threw feasts for his army of fans so that they voted "spare" when he lost and "kill" when he won.
Speaking of Rome: an interesting example of this trope is that in the Roman Republic, there was a fixed fine for assault, which was not adjusted for inflation, and after several centuries of currency debasement, the fine was worthless. Rich sociopaths used to walk down the street punching people in the face and then handing over purses full of small change; legally, this was adequate compensation and the victims couldn't bring charges.
Related to the above, fines in general. Because fines may be fixed, what may be an "ouch" to a working class citizen may be mere pocket change to someone with more wealth. For that matter, a lot of lawsuits in general against corporations tend to not hurt them because a couple hundred thousand dollars in legal fees and fines is merely pocket change. Some industries in fact simply find it cheaper to pay fines instead of following the law. This is partly why criminal penalties exist. With the difference in outcomes for people who can hire high priced attorneys, this is tragically becoming an example of the trope as well.
This is why punitive damages exist in torts in The Common Law. It's easy to get worked up about jury judgments in the millions of dollars against defendants in (for instance) product liability cases, but you have to realize that the point of allowing punitive damages is to make it so that large corporations actually feel the bite when they hurt people.
Averted by Finnish, Swedish, and German traffic laws, which base fines on offenders' income in order to make sure they hurt a rich person as much as they would a poor person.
Disneyland California evidently pays a fine every night for their fireworks performance(s).
Oddly enough, this is the point of Islamic law's prescription of cutting off a hand as punishment for theft. Today, most of the world—including a large number of Muslims—finds this barbaric, but it made a great deal of sense in seventh-century Arabia: they couldn't really afford to imprison anyonenote Which is why Islamic law has rules regulating but not forbidding slavery—remember that slavery in ancient and medieval societies was a way to deal with prisoners of war. The early Muslims took POWs as slaves because the state couldn't afford to run POW camps; indeed, the idea of a POW camp would have been rather alien to a 7th-century person even of a culture that probably could afford to incarcerate POWs. but obviously imposing a fine for theft would mean that the punishment would be disproportionally harsh to the poor. Losing a hand, though? Even rich people would hate to part with a hand.
This is also why Ford greenlit the Pinto while knowing about the design flaws; the legal damages they would have to pay on average was cheaper than going back and fixing all the existing cars and manufacturing methods (or so they thought). A combination of public backlash and actual costs changed their minds.
This can be said to be the theme of the Six Flags parks' "Flash Pass" system. Pay upwards of $40 for the privilege of reserving specific times to bypass the long lines and ride the most popular rides.
College Admissions: You can play it fair and brave the single-digit acceptance percentages at top schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and the like, but if your family has money and/or connections to the school, a hefty donation might just bump your chances of getting in up to 100%. Ivy League For Everyone, right?
The American Gilded Age from about 1870 to the 1890s was filled with this trope, as corporations at the time were constantly forming trusts, bribing the government, and doing whatever they could to stay above punishment. Some examples:
Boss Tweed ran Tammany Hall in the 1870s and decided to avert being clever by getting massive amounts of money, and then just liberally bribing everyone who could conceivably get in the way. Why be sophisticated about your crimes when you can just make a lot of money? He was only undone when a pesky muckraker with a sense of morals decided to bring him down.
The entire railroad industry was owned by the Vanderbilts, one of whom allegedly said "Public be damned!" They would organize their railroads based on whoever could offer enough money, and could force prices up at a whim. The government didn't act out against them until antitrust legislation was finally introduced over a decade after they gained power.
A particularly memorable example of corporate shenanigans comes from the demise of the American urban streetcar network during the early 20th century. Major auto and tire manufacturers (Ford, Chrysler, Firestone, et al), fearful that efficient public transit would keep people from buying their products, would buy up streetcar companies and then liquidate them, effectively destroying a profitable mode of transportation for the American public. When the government held the corporations accountable in an anti-trust suit, the auto companies "convinced" the government to reduce the renumeration payments to $1. Each. To date, only a handful of cities in North America have held onto their streetcars, which are generally beloved by the people riding them.
Steve Jobs had a tendency to drive without a license plate and park (crookedly) in handicap spaces, and get away with itnote It may have been his building, but handicapped spaces are protected by State and Federal law. Why didn't he just designate some spots as executive parking at the Apple lot if he hated walking that much?
Peter Odili and James Ibori, two former Governors of oil-rich States in Nigeria (Rivers and Delta, respectively) went to court after leaving office and secured unconstitutional injunctions rendering them immune from prosecution for ANY crime committed during their tenures as governor. Including corruption. Forever.
A recent experimental finding by UC Berkeley researchers revealed that people with higher socioeconomic standing were more likely to commit unethical acts such as cheating to win a prize, taking candy from children, and saying they would pocket extra change handed to them in error rather than give it back. Because rich people have more financial resources, they're less dependent on social bonds for survival, resulting in heightened self-interest, decadent hedonism, and greed over the needs of others. This was demonstrated in a driving experiment where owners of the priciest cars were 4 times more likely to enter the intersection when they didn't have the right of way. However, the researchers carefully pointed out that anyone's ethical standards could slip if they suddenly won the lottery and joined the top 1%.
This is correlated—somewhat disturbingly—by a finding that poorer Americans donate proportionately more than double what rich Americans donate (proportionate to income: the rich donate 1.3% and the poor 3.2%, but obviously the dollar amount for the rich is orders of magnitude greater) and that what the rich donate doesn't even go to institutions directly benefiting the poor (the arts and academia are more common targets). Although this study is focused on Americans, it's fairly likely that its findings would apply more generally. But allow us to restate: (1) The (working) poor give a larger share of their income to charity than the rich; (2) The working poor give to nonprofits that support the needy, while the rich give to nonprofits that support the arts, sciences, and culture; and (3) the rich could easily afford to give twice as much as they give now, fully funding the organizations for the support of the needy without affecting the arts, science, and culture institutions that make society worth living in.
The recall algorithm in Fight Club is based somewhat on real business practices. Certainly some car features that can cause death or injury can be replaced by less dangerous, but more expensive parts. At some point, the manufacturer has to make a risk/cost decision.
To give an example: Say a car manufacturer can choose between an expensive and cheap part. The manufacturer knows that adding the cheap part would cause five more deaths per year overall, but he still chooses it because it's cheaper. You might say that the manufacturer kills five people per year when he does this, but in reality it will just reflect badly (or perhaps not at all, if it has enough good parts) on the car.
Season Ticket holders for major-league sports teams can have arena giveaway items mailed to them; those with club seats at indoor arenas can have their food brought to them. Many teams also offer early arena entry, priority playoff seating, etc.
While today the Academy Award lobbying is very public and spendful, the book Pictures at a Revolution shows that in the 1960s, it was much easier to manipulate the Academy when it was half the size it was today - and in 20th Century Fox's case, when many of the voters are in your payroll. Fox got Best Picture noms for unremarkable films such as The Sand Pebbles, or outright bombs like Cleopatra and Doctor Dolittle (which, as told in the book, the studio held 16 days with free screenings with dinner for Academy members).