Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!
"Whether I kick a kitten... tear off your ears... even slaughter innocent people... the world will never cease to forgive my actions! Why, you ask? Why, it is because I am... beautiful!"
Somewhat of a Double Standard
trope, where a conventionally attractive character gets away with morally ambiguous things, despite how similar actions usually get questioned when committed by characters that are considered ugly. The attractive character is almost always forgiven, or doesn’t even get called out for his questionable choices from within the plot. Sometimes, his actions even get painted in a good light, and the plot even rewards him for them. Meanwhile, the ugly character gets shamed and villanized for doing similar things. It can be lampshaded
or never addressed.
This kind of treatment can lead to the character being Easily Forgiven
and becoming a Karma Houdini
. Quite a few times, if the attractive character is a Stalker with a Crush
toward another character, other characters will excuse their questionable actions as Stalking Is Love
. Other times, characters might excuse it due to assuming that Beauty Equals Goodness
(despite the character's dubious actions appearing to contradict that).
When it's the fans
that excuse the character's actions for this reason, the character is a Draco in Leather Pants
Obviously, this trope has a lot of Truth in Television
. It's actually a well-documented psychological effect.
Related to Proud Beauty
, What Measure Is a Non-Cute?
and Screw the Rules, I Have Money!
. I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!
can be considered a subtrope of this. Contrast Kavorka Man
. Compare So Beautiful, It's a Curse
; any character who combines the two
is just begging
for a Hatedom
. Compare and contrast also with Favors for the Sexy
and Distracted by the Sexy
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Anime & Manga
- Boa Hancock from One Piece is a walking lampshade of this trope. Except, that is, around Luffy, who is apparently the only person who doesn't buy into her beauty. All the other characters, however, forgive all the nasty things she does to them (if not that they didn't even notice that she was doing nasty things to them). In fact, her catch phrase is "Everyone would forgive me... for I am beautiful!" The thing is, she's absolutely right. This includes literally kicking puppies, kittens, and baby seals.
Though there were a few other guys who have managed to resist her other than Luffy, including Vice-Admiral Momonga, Smoker, and Trafalgar Law. Momonga mainly resisted her because he distracted himself with pain by stabbing his hand; if he hadn't, he would have been affected as well. However, Smoker and Law are probably straight examples.
- Sagara Sōsuke from Full Metal Panic! has a mission to follow Kaname around and protect her from terrorists, but he must not let her know he's doing that. So to Kaname and everyone else, he's acting like a creepy Stalker with a Crush. The only thing is, she completely underreacts to his insanely creepy and scary behavior, even blushing and acting extremely shy when talking about him. In fact, hardly knowing him (other than seeing him throw himself off a train to continue stalking her), she actually starts fishing around for an answer if he has a girlfriend or lover, and is shown to be ridiculously happy when he tells her she's his "special person." It undoubtedly has quite a bit to do with his good looks, seeing how she acts towards men who don't even do nearly as much crap as Sōsuke but are ugly. It's only when he gets to the point where he's on her balcony at night holding her panties that she gets angry.
In the novels, his being able to screw the rules because of his looks is lampshaded. He had always been a bit suspicious about how all the other guerrillas that were working with him treated him a lot nicer than they treated anyone else, and he got away with a lot more. Turns out that they all wanted to jump him.
- Rokudo Mukuro from Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, who is Easily Forgiven by Tsuna despite showing absolutely no remorse for all the atrocities he committed. Despite how his ultimate goal is even more horrifying than Xanxus's, Tsuna shows much less mercy and pity towards Xanxus (who, before the Art Evolution, was shown to be substantially less prettier than Mukuro). It's highly doubtful that Tsuna would have shown so much compassion for him if he were ugly.
- In Death Note, Light gets away with a bunch of crap by using his good looks to entice both women and men. Not to mention his status as a Draco in Leather Pants among fandom.
- Tamamo from Hell Teacher Nube gets away with lots of things that Nube is beaten up for, just because he's a Bishonen and Nube is pretty average looking at best.
- Mitsuko from Battle Royale. She's been using her body to get anything she wants from pretty much any man (or girl) ever since she was young. Her entire strategy during Battle Royale was pretty much to rely on her beautiful looks and sex appeal to trick people into trusting her and giving her everything, only to betray them and kill them. It worked very well for her... until she reached Kiriyama.
- The Hotel Owner in the Murder at the Hot-springs Arc of The Wallflower justifies herself with this trope.
- MW's Michio: Even the Guys Want Him, and he works it for his best advantage.
- Monster's Johan: similarly.
- Tenchi Muyo!
- Jim Gaffigan has a bit where he points out that life is easier when you're attractive. "If a stranger smiles at you and they're attractive, you think 'Oh, they're nice'. But if an ugly person smiles at you, you think 'What do they want?'."
- Wanda Sykes, in her routine, claims that if Clarence Thomas had looked like Denzel Washington, he never would have been sued for sexual harassment.
- Chris Rock said the same thing, asking, "What's sexual harassment, when an ugly guy wants some?"
- Eva Lord in Sin City uses her looks to get away with her crimes. Lampshaded when she tries to get a chunk of Wallenquist's organization, only for him to tell her that just because she's beautiful, he's not going to cave-in.
- Selene, regular foe of the X-Men, often says her dark and regal beauty trumps every horrible thing she does. But then again, she believes herself a goddess so...
- In Tim Fish's Cavalcade of Boys series, Gordon, the fat old troll with missing teeth and a comb-over, is universally reviled, although he never does anything worse than being a sugar daddy to a series of young hotties. The main character, Tighe, sometimes behaves in even more morally questionable ways, but since he is young and hot, not only does he get away with it, but he also even gets to pass moral judgment on other characters.
- One Dilbert strip lampshades the trope rather nicely.◊
- In an early Doonesbury cartoon, two children were playing in a sandbox at the daycare center where Joanie Caucus was working after she left her family. The boy says, "When I grow up, I will get a wife." The girl says, "What's a wife?" to which the boy describes the male sexist stereotypical view of wifely functions (Doonesbury is often amusing, frequently insightful, but never subtle). The girl responds "That sounds good, I think I will get a wife too," to which the boy says, "Get a pretty one, they never get traffic tickets."
Films — Live-Action
- Edward Cullen from Twilight stalked Bella and watched her sleep. She didn't mind. Lampshaded and made fun of in the Abridged Script: "Holy fucking shit! If you weren't so hot I'd have you arrested!"
- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines subverts this when the Terminatrix uses her rather extensive equipment to give herself an "upgrade". She then utters a rather sultry, "Hello, officer," and it appears that she'll use her assets to avoid a ticket. Instead, she kills the police officer and takes his pistol. Not that she really needs it — it's just more discreet.
- "What are you going to do, arrest me for smoking?" — Catherine Tramell, Basic Instinct
- Invoked unsuccessfully in Muriel's Wedding.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- Dr. Frank N. Furter from the uses his charms and good looks to get away with all sorts of immoral acts. It works quite well until Riff Raff and Magenta turn on him.
- Also invoked from the other side with his attitude toward Rocky, at least initially. "But since you're such an exceptional beauty, I'm prepared to forgive you."
- Played straight and subverted in The Cannonball Run. Jill and Marcie are the racers in the Lamborghini who make use of their skintight catsuits and strategic zipper adjustment to get out of a traffic ticket. It fails miserably the second time they try it, when they look up and see the smiling face of a blonde cop who has her own assets prominently displayed by her uniform shirt.
- Averted, then later played almost straight in Love Potion Number Nine. The Hollywood Homely female scientist has a car that will stall if she stops at stop signs, and is caught running one by a cop. Her best efforts to escape a ticket fail early in the film. She succeeds after getting some of the titular potion later, though not really because she's any better looking.
- Bianca Stratford tries using this trope in 10 Things I Hate About You in order to manipulate Cameron's feelings for her into getting him to help her date the school popular guy. Subverted, since when he finds out and gives her a piece of his mind he explicitly points out that "just because you're beautiful doesn't mean you can treat people like they don't matter."
- This is addressed in the Warchild Series, with Big Bad Falcone purposefully choosing attractive kids to make into his personal soldiers. He explicitly states that attractive people can get away with more, and they can use their appearances to get what they want out of people.
- In the Geronimo Stilton book The Mona Mousa Code, Thea just has to bat her eyes and talk sweetly to the museum radiology technician to get him to show them what was revealed when a painting was x-rayed. Of course, they WERE already dating...
- Tom Riddle — before he became Voldemort — from Harry Potter. It's practically Lampshaded; Harry himself notes how handsome Tom was (before he knows who he'd become), and it's made clear that Tom used the fact to his advantage. Good looks, charming manners, and cunning persuasiveness can apparently get you pretty far in the wizarding world, too.
- Dorian in The Picture of Dorian Gray.
- Christine in the Discworld novel Maskerade is a relatively benign version, mostly because she's dumb as a sack of rocks, but she still has some of this. She gets things handed to her because she's beautiful, so she never bothers to try to improve (and she has very little talent) or to learn to interact better with other people. Agnes lampshades her It's All About Me tendencies by noticing that she doesn't even react when Agnes tells her "and my father was the Seriph of Klatch and my mother was a small tray of raspberry puddings."
- A Song of Ice and Fire has this happen from time to time, particularly in the backstory. The main character extolling it we get to see in all her egocentric glory, however, is Cersei Lannister. And, as she quickly finds out, beauty is only one of the tools in the Game. And, it's no rule-breaker on its own, however much she gives it pride of position and believes in the edge it can give her. It's even becomes a Discussed Trope, by Littlefinger, who points out that it's the only one of the sources of Cersei's power to be truly her own and it won't last forever, so there is no way for it to carry her out much longer. And by the time Cersei is punished by being forced to walk naked through the capital it's quite obvious that he's right and a woman over thirty, having had several children and in a world with no modern beauty products should starting looking for herself for a new card to play.
- Will Schuester from Glee. He's presented as the mentor and pillar of the Glee club, while doing some very morally ambiguously stuff at the same time. He talks down to a lot of his students, privileges the boys over the girls, shames other people when they don't agree with him, and pursues Emma non stop even when she's seeing other people. And yet, he gets rewarded within the plot by winning the Teacher of the Year award, getting the girl, being regarded as the better man by his own adversary... and have a lot of women (some students included) swoon over him. Other less conventionally attractive characters, such as Ken Tenaka or Jacob Ben Israel, get villanized and shamed (sometimes by Will himself) for doing stuff that is just as morally ambiguous, if not less.
- In Smallville, both Lana Lang and Lois Lane have their moments. Chloe Sullivan, on the other hand, usually not.
- In the 30 Rock episode "The Bubble," we learn that incredibly hot people who look like Jon Hamm get special treatment, while ordinary-looking people who look like Tina Fey don't.
- Satirized in the first episode of Firefly, when Mal tells Bendis "We're not gonna die. We can't die, Bendis. You know why? Because we are so very pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die. Huh? Look at that chiseled jaw." Bendis dies.
- Throughout her time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cordelia was like this a lot.
- Seinfeld also lampshades this in the episode "The Calzone", where Jerry's girlfriend has this quality and he takes advantage of it.
- In one Monk, Natalie said, "I can do anything I want; I'm cute."
- Saturday Night Live parodied this with a mock "Sexual Harrassment and You" TV Funhouse short. The unattractive male character played by Fred Armisen can't even say "Hello" without being hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit. The attractive male played by Tom Brady can feel up women and walk around in his underwear and be fawned over.
- Used on several occasions on Speeders, with some drivers honestly believing the luck of the genetic draw should excuse them from obeying traffic laws.
- Lady Christina de Souza from the Doctor Who episode "Planet of the Dead".
- An episode of Malcolm in the Middle is all about Malcolm's first car, which pulls this repeatedly on him. He picked it out because it was the best-looking one on the lot, but on the inside it turns out to be The Alleged Car; requiring constant, expensive maintenance, and even then it remains ridiculously temperamental about when it will or won't run.
- Shannon Rutherford in "Exodus", Part 1 of LOST.
- Discussed in a first season episode of House (paraphrased):
House: Would that upset you, really, to think that you were hired because of some genetic gift of beauty, not some genetic gift of intelligence?
Cameron: I worked very hard to get where I am.
House: But you didn't have to. People choose the paths that grant them the greatest reward for the least amount of effort. That's the law of nature, and you've defied it. You could've married rich, you could've been a model. You could have just shown up and people would've given you stuff, lots of stuff. But you didn't. You worked your stunning little ass off. That's why I hired you.
- Jefferson D'Arcy on Married... with Children, is a lazy man who expects his beauty to keep him from having to get a job.
- Employed by various villains on Law & Order over the years, including memorably on SVU when Supermodel-turned-actress Estella Warren's character declares herself to be "too beautiful for prison" after committing a series of crimes.
- On an episode of The Golden Girls, Blanche is being audited by the IRS. Blanche brags that she's been audited before and she's never had to pay a dime, because they keep sending male auditors. When the female auditor shows up at the end of the episode, Blanche (decked out in a lacy gown and robe) simply shrugs and says "I'll get my checkbook."
- Generally subverted on The Amazing Race. A lot of female teams talk about using their looks to their advantage. However, this rarely comes into play, and bringing it up pretty much guarantees a team's elimination down the line. Some female racers have gotten advantages because of their looks, but these are usually women who aren't trying to take advantage of their looks.
- One clip shown on World's Dumbest Drivers had a female driver trying to invoke this trope, but the officer wasn't playing along, with hilarious results.
- Mild example in The City Hunter, where prosecutor Young Joo's Bishōnen good looks are able to charm a grumpy female forensics technician into checking a blood sample for him ahead of schedule.
- Neal Caffrey in White Collar.
- In the folk song "Willie O'Winsbury," also known as "John Barbour" (and covered by East Coast Canadian band Great Big Sea), a princess has gotten pregnant. When the king finds out that the father, Willie O'Winsbury (or John Barbour), isn't nobility, he plans to have him killed. But when the king sees how incredibly handsome the father is ("If I were a woman as I am a man, my bedfellow you would be"), the king gives him the princess's hand in marriage, and offers to make him "the lord of my lands." (For contrast, see the folksong "Princess Dysie," in which the princess has become pregnant by Roger the kitchen boy. In this song, the king has Roger's head cut off and sent up to the princess.)
- Stewart Francke's The Beautiful Go Blameless.
- The Stooges' "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell" is a deconstruction.
- Sable. Refused to learn how to wrestle or take bumps, but expected all of the other WWE Divas to treat her with kid gloves in the ring because she was drop-dead gorgeous and posed for Playboy. WWE once fired Luna Vachon for bruising Sable in the ring, but brought her back two weeks later after she had to face Jacqueline, a notoriously stiff ring worker. Eventually, her massive ego rubbed enough people the wrong way that it led to WWE turning her heel and eventually letting her go in 1999.
- In Bully, Beatrice Trudeau (a Nerd played straight) complains about this trope. She considers it wrong that Mandy and Lola get special treatment because they're pretty when she doesn't get special treatment for being able to recite the Periodic Table of the Elements.
- In the first Police Quest game, you pull over a gorgeous woman for speeding and have the choice of whether to let her off or write her a ticket. You may not want to call the number she gives you, though.
- One of the attributes of the Seven Star Stamps in the story mode of the third Mario Party game is "Beauty", and the player must duel Princess Daisy for it. To quote: "There is no denying that Daisy is fairest of all! There's no need to fight." She almost succeeds in charming the two game hosts for it.
- In Crusader Kings II, relations with other characters range from -100 to 100, and character traits modify your relations with other characters. If you are Just, you get +10 to your vassals. If you are Generous but another character is Greedy, the two of you get -10 toward each other. "Attractive" gives a +30 relations bonus with all members of the opposite sex (except for homosexual ones), meaning that a beautiful queen can keep all the dukes of her realm in line through her sheer appearance.
- Ace Attorney
- Dahlia Hawthorne in the third game. It helps that the judge is an idiot, but her beauty sure helped the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing effect.
- The series also has April May from the first game, who manages to get the entire courtroom on her side (and against Phoenix when he tries to cross examine her) until he manages to present enough evidence to turn them against her.
- Along with the value provided by her foreign language skills, a certain flight attendant in Ace Attorney Investigations seems to use her relationship with the pilot to get out of doing much work.
- In Bob and George, Megaman tries to argue that he's too pretty to die.
- Lampshaded in El Goonish Shive on several occasions, where girls can get away with stuff using puppy dog eyes.
- In Melonpool, Jalea Bates, the protocol droid-turned-fembot-teen-pop-singer, has as her signature song the absurdly catch "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful". Listen to a sample here.
- Most of the characters in Ménage à 3 and its spinoff comics arguably benefit from this effect to some extent — well, it is a lightweight sex comedy, so judging them for their behaviour would probably be too heavy-handed. Occasionally, it becomes more or less explicit, though.
- Amazonian sex goddess DiDi is so beautiful that she's unable to get an orgasm during sex, because men only last a few seconds with her. She's also something of a ditz, who treats men with unthinking casualness that verges on cruelty, but they invariably forgive her because of her gorgeousness. Her desperate need for an orgasm has resulted in increasingly jerkish behavior from her, and she seems to have developed something of a sense of entitlement.
- International lingerie model Senna has a monstrous ego and is a boss from hell, but ... international lingerie model, you know?
- Camp Gay actor Dillon arguably gets away with relentless flirting with straight as well as gay men, especially now he's in his own comic, largely because of his ditzy cuteness — despite his borderline hypocritical pontifications about fidelity.
- Sven from Questionable Content can be a douche much of the time, but gets away with it, especially in dealings with ladies, because he is very pretty. Though to his credit, he has been making an active effort to be less reliant on his looks in more recent strips.
- Kharisma in Something Positive. Subverted in that she never actually does get what she wants... she even tried to use this trope in her trial for Avagadro's murder. Needless to say, she was sentenced to serving 25 to life and is currently a wanted fugitive.
- Gaea from Noob exploits this via very effective Puppy-Dog Eyes in the webseries and comics.
- Sometimes shows up on Not Always Working. It usually does not work.
- Original site Not Always Right also has a few examples. For one, there's a girl who unironically says "Beautiful people should have their hair done first! The ugly ones should wait!" Then there's another where a woman steals a pot full of coffee from a library because the librarian is apparently too ugly to have it. A florist then comes in and informs the librarian that the same woman just stole a bouquet of flowers from his shop for the same reason.
- Jessica Lovejoy, the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing daughter of the town's pompous preacher on the "Bart's Girlfriend" episode of of The Simpsons. ("I'm the sweet, perfect minister's daughter, and you're just yellow trash.")
- Family Guy:
- Peter once had extensive plastic surgery to make him highly attractive. It turns out there's an entire society of beautiful people who are given societal perks, and many characters are willing to forgive Peter's increased Jerk Ass behavior, at least at first.
Lois: Peter, that doesn't make any sense!
Peter: It doesn't have to... I'm beautiful!
- Another where Stewie was going through a tan phase.
Brian: You're talking out of your ass.
Stewie: It doesn't matter, I'm tan.
- Another example with Peter parodies this trope in a Cutaway Gag. When Peter gets pulled over, he shows the officer his man-boob. Needless to say, it does not work.
- Roberta Tubbs from The Cleveland Show uses her looks to get what she wants from her male teachers. Eventually, one of the female teachers uses slides of women young then old to show that her looks will fade in time, so she needs to develop other ways to impress people.
- Total Drama:
- Justin manipulates both his team and the show's staff with his good looks in the first part of the season, receiving special treatment and dodging a couple of eliminations this way. Of course, in this case, it's Informed Attractiveness turned Up to Eleven (the "psychotic" man-eating sharks refuse to eat him, for example). In the new season, Alejandro does the same thing.
- Heather manages to use her attractiveness in the same way a few times, but is still widely hated by her castmates.
- As one entry in the Quotes subpage shows, Lindsay does this too, but in this case, it's more shallow than villainous and doesn't usually work anyway.
- A gang of Ridiculously Cute Critters pulled all matter of felonies in an episode of The Powerpuff Girls, as no adult could resist their charms. Oddly enough, children proved to be more resistant.
- This trope is mentioned in the Halloween episode of Eek The Cat, where a Ms. Fanservice evil witch captures ghosts, wanting to make them into a cosmetic face cream. When one of them comments on how mean she is, her response is a cocky "Yes, but I'm cute, so I get away with it!"
- This is amusingly used in the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Quietest day ever". Doofenshmirtz becomes handsome thanks to an inator, and people start invoking this trope. He is irritated at first, because the ability to do this was exactly why he hated beautiful people in the first place. But then he realized he could take over the Tri-State Area that way, and so decided to go along with it.
- In ancient Athens, a beautiful courtesan named Phryne was put on trial for a capital crime. Her defense consisted of getting stripped by her sometime-lover (now defendant) in court and asking the (all-male) jury if they were prepared to destroy this. She was acquitted right then and there. This is a question of Values Dissonance: the capital crime in question was blasphemy, and in Ancient Greek society, exceptional beauty was a sign of favor from the gods (remember, for the Greeks, Beauty Equals Goodness was serious: they called their nobles Kaloi k'Agathoi, "the Beautiful and the Good"). Essentially, her argument was, "how could I possibly commit blasphemy if the gods have given me this body." The Athenians have later passed a law that from now on, judges are not to look at the defendants.
- A similar plot was allegedly hatched to save Mata Hari from being executed for espionage; supposedly, she was to go to the firing squad wearing only a robe, which she would drop or fling open (revealing her naked body) right before the order to fire would be given. Supposedly, the True Frenchmen of the firing squad would not defile such beauty by riddling it with bullets. Apparently, it worked on some of them, just not enough.
- A study showed that when it came to a Jury Trial, there is a little truth to this. When an attractive man or woman did a minor crime, they got little or no sentences. However, when it was a major crime, there was no deviation at all in sentences. Some studies have actually shown that attractive people who commit crimes that involve deception actually get harsher sentences for using their looks in such a way.
- For a very direct example, refer to her lawyer's comments in the case of Debra Lafave. She was arrested for sex with one of her underage students, but her lawyer kept her out of prison because it "would be too dangerous for someone as attractive as Lafave."
- It's a social reflex to be nice to someone we find attractive, and people are often willing to overlook minor infractions. Psychologists term this the Halo Effect, though it extends beyond attractiveness. No, it is not a cross-over of two science fiction video games.
- Paris Hilton seemed to get away with everything back when she was constantly covered by the media. When it finally transpired that Screw the Rules, I Have Money! wasn't going to save her from serving a proper prison sentence, she got out of it by crying until the county sheriff took pity on her.
- Thousands of teen girls on the Internet insisted that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the perpetrator of the Boston Marathon bombings, couldn't be accused of being a terrorist "because he's way too handsome." Obviously, their claims didn't have an effect on his imprisonment.
- Has sadly become a factor when adult women, whom most people think are attractive, are caught having sex with underage boys. Women who are considered attractive often don't get much punishment by the law, if they get punished at all. The stereotypical belief when it comes to boy victims, is that they were lucky to score with an attractive grown woman. However, if the woman is unattractive (like being overweight), they often get treated the same way a man would if he was caught having sex with an underage girl.