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The Commandments
The Commandments are a short list of simple rules that must be followed. It's a much simpler system the any rulebook, lawbook or manifesto. The most famous such list of commandments (at least in western culture) is the one known as The Ten Commandments, featured in Real Life Christianity as well as stories about the faith.note  However, many other such lists pop up in various media, especially fantasy.

If a work has its own list, include the list on the example. (Unless the list is really long, but if it is then it's unlikely that the example truly belongs in this trope in the first place.)

No examples from Real Life religion or philosophy please. Not on the main page.

When rules are played for annoyment, that's Rule Number One. When rules are played for alienation, that's Ape Shall Never Kill Ape.

Examples

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     Film  

  • The movie The Ten Commandments tells the story of Moses, featuring and focusing on (what Hollywood thinks are) the ten commandments of Judaism.
  • Fight Club has seven commandments. (They are counted as eight, but the second is just the first one repeated for emphasis):
    The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. Third rule of Fight Club: someone yells stop, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: no shirts, no shoes. Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to. And the eighth and final rule: if this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.
  • Robocop had four Prime directives:
    1. Serve the public trust.
    2. Protect the innocent.
    3. Uphold the law.
    4. Never oppose an OCP officer.
  • Zombieland gives us the Rules, as laid down by Columbus. There's almost 40, but they're very succinct (and we never get to hear them all). Examples include:
    1. Cardio
    2. Double tap
    3. Beware of bathrooms
    4. Always wear a seatbelt
    17. Don't be a hero.
    18. Limber up
    22. When in doubt, know your way out
    29. Check the back seat
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Two men enter, one man leaves. It may be the only rule, but it is rigidly enforced.
    • The only other rule we hear of in Bartertown (where the titular Thunderdome can be found): "Bust a deal, face the wheel."
  • Frank Martin's personal code from The Transporter series:
    Rule 1: The deal is the deal. The conditions of the deal will not be changed after it has been confirmed.
    Rule 2: No names.
    Rule 3: Never look in the package.

     Literature  

  • Isaac Asimov's Three Laws Of Robotics, used in his Robot stories and by many other SF writers in works about A.I.. Note that unlike other sets of commandments, these laws are hard-coded into the robots' artificial brains. As Greg Powell describes it in "Escape!":
    "Before it's physically possible in any way for a robot to even make a start to breaking the First Law, so many things have to break down that it would be a ruined mess of scrap ten times over."
    1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    3. A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
    • We ought to note that the robots, after becoming totally sentient and ridiculously human, eventually develop a Zeroth law: A robot may not injure humanity, or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm. This comes to light in the prequels and later sequels to Foundation, in which it is a key part of Asimov's Arc Welding.
  • Michael Moorcock's book The Warhound and the World's Pain had the main character go through a valley in which the only law was steal nothing. Not as easy as it sounds, as it's then explained that pretty much any crime can be defined in terms of stealing: murder is the theft of life, lying is the theft of choice, etc.
  • The Ideals of the Knights Radiant in The Stormlight Archive. The First Ideal was common to all orders, but the others varied; unlike most other examples, we know very few of these rules.
    • The First Ideal: Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.
    • One of the Second Ideals: I will protect those who cannot protect themselves.
  • The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space in Discworld are:
    1. Silence.
    2. Books must be returned no later than the last date shown.
    3. Do not interfere with the nature of causality.
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau:
    • Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
    • Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
    • Not to eat Fish or Flesh; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
    • Not to claw the Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
    • Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?
  • Animal Farm has the principles of Animalism, which are written on the side of the barn for all to see. The first principle was "All animals are equal". As their system slipped into totalitarianism and tyranny, the principles got altered and removed until only a subversion of the first rule remained: "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." The other six laws, in order of appearance:
    • Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
    • Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
    • No animal shall wear clothes.
    • No animal shall sleep in a bed.
      • After the pigs move into the old house and begin sleeping in the beds, it is amended with "with sheets".
    • No animal shall drink alcohol.
      • After the pigs become drunk on alcohol, it is amended with "in excess".
    • No animal shall kill another animal.
  • The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster: Eight of those. Well, 10 actually, but Mosey the pirate captain dropped two of the stone tablets as he walked down Mount Salsa.
  • The Dresden Files has Seven Laws of Magic.
    • Thou shalt not kill by use of magic. (Pretty self-explanatory, though primarily limited to humans)
    • Thou shalt not transform others. (No Baleful Polymorphs)
    • Thou shalt not invade the mind of another. (No Mind Probes or telepathy)
    • Thou shalt not enthrall another. (No Mind Control)
    • Thou shalt not reach beyond the borders of life. (No necromancy or other messing with the forces of life and death)
    • Thou shalt not swim against the Currents of Time. (Do not try to change the past through temporal manipulation, lest you create a paradox)
    • Thou shalt not seek beyond the Outer Gates. (Do not mess with the forces beyond this universe, referred to as Outsiders)
  • Christian Nation has the Fifty Blessings, which President Steve Jordan had put into law that supercedes the American Constitution — many of which are vague and unenforceable.

     Live Action TV  

  • Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS has at least fifty-one rules for himself and his team as of the last episode of season 7.
    • Gibbs' rules (as of Season 8 Episode 24). Yes there are a few doubles. Word of God explains the doubles of Rules 1, 2, and 3 are Golden Rules imparted on Gibbs by Franks. It was never said which belongs in Franks' set.
    The Unwritten rule: Do what you have to for family.
    1: Never screw (over) your partner.
    1: Never let suspects stay together.
    2: Always wear gloves at a crime scene.
    3: Don't believe what you're told. Double check .
    3: Never be unreachable.
    4: If you have a secret, the best thing is to keep it to yourself. The second-best is to tell one other person if you must. There is no third-best.
    5: You don't waste good.
    6: Never apologize, it's a sign of weakness.
    7: Always be specific when you lie.
    8: Never take anything for granted.
    9: Never go anywhere without a knife.
    10: Never get personally involved in a case.
    11: When the job is done, walk away.
    12: Never date a co-worker.
    13: Never, ever involve lawyers.
    15: Always work as a team.
    18: It's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.
    22: Never, ever bother Gibbs in interrogation.
    23: Never mess with a Marine's coffee, if you want to live.
    27: Two ways to follow: First way they never notice you. Second way they only notice you.
    35: Always watch the watchers.
    38: Your case. Your lead.
    39: There is no such thing as a coincidence.
    40: If it seems like someone is out to get you, they are.
    44: First things first, hide the women and children.
    45: Clean up your own messes.
    51: Sometimes you're wrong (addendum to original rules, and written on the back of Rule 13).
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus gives us the rules of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Walamaloo:
    • Rule One: No poofters.
    • Rule Two: No member of the faculty is to maltreat the Abos in any way at all if there's anybody watching.
    • Rule Three: No poofters.
    • Rule Four: This term, I don't want to catch anybody not drinking in their room after lights out.
    • Rule Five: No poofters.
    • Rule Six: There is no Rule Six.
    • Rule Seven: No poofters.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Game" introduces us to Lefler's Laws, a list of reminders that Lt. Lefler wrote for herself anytime she learned anything important. She's written 102 of them, and a few of them come out during the episode as appropriate:
    • Law 1: You can only count on yourself.
    • Law 17: When all else fails, do it yourself.
    • Law 36: You gotta go with what works.
    • Law 91: Always watch your back.
    • At the end of the episode, Westley, who has developed a small romance with her, is preparing to return to the Academy, and offers this: "Law 103: A couple of light years can't keep good friends apart."
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Ferengi characters (especially Quark) would occasionally quote from "The Rules of Acquisition", found here. There are at least 285 official rules, apparently, and more unofficial rules.
    • The first and most important Rule of Acquisition: Once you have their money, never give it back.

     Music  

    Pinball 
  • Data East's RoboCop has the three Prime Directives from the movie, which must be completed to enable multiball.

     Tabletop Games  
  • Geist The Sin Eaters has the Old Laws of the Dominions of the Underworld. Each Dominion has its own set of laws, such as "Take nothing, leave nothing," "Speak not to the shades" or "Bow before passing guardsmen." It's suggesting that Storytellers tempt the players into breaking them... but in-game, most Sin-Eaters are very reluctant to break them, as doing so draws the instant attention of the Kerberos that runs the Dominion.
  • The original Vampire: The Masquerade had Traditions that vampires (Camarilla vampires, anyway) were required to follow.
    Thou shalt not reveal thy true nature to those not of the Blood. Doing so shall renounce thy claims of Blood.
    • The Second Tradition: The Domain
    Thy Domain is thy concern. All others owe thee respect while in it. None may challenge thy word in thy Domain.
    • The Third Tradition: The Progeny
    Thou shalt sire another only with permission of thine Elder. If thou createst another without thine Elder's leave, both thou and thy progeny shalt be slain.
    • The Fourth Tradition: The Accounting
    Those thou create are thine own children. Until thy progeny shall be released, thou shalt command them in all things. Their sins are thine to endure.
    • The Fifth Tradition: Hospitality
    Honor one another's Domain. When thou comest to a foreign city, thou shalt present thyself to the one who ruleth there. Without the word of acceptance, thou art Nothing.
    • The Sixth Tradition: Destruction
    Thou art forbidden to destroy another of thy kind. The right of Destruction belongeth only to thine Elder. Only the Eldest among thee shall call the Blood Hunt.
  • In the successor game Vampire: The Requiem, these Traditions are simplified down to three: Masquerade (pretty much the same as above), Progeny (same as above), and Amaranth ("Do not commit diablerie").
  • Ars Magica. The Order of Hermes had a Code of Conduct which (among other things) forbade dealing with demons, endangering the Order, interfering with secular governments and spying on or killing other mages.
  • Paladins in Forgotten Realms follow many deities, each with a different portfolio, their orders and churches may emphasize different parts of the same god's agenda... you got the picture: an universal and strict code cannot exist. But the common guidelines (priorities and interpretations differ) are Paladin's Virtues from "Quentin's Monograph":
    An organized approach brings the most good for all.
    Laws exist to bring prosperity to those under them.
    Unjust laws must be overturned or changed in a reasonable and positive fashion.
    People rule; laws help.
    Cause the most good through the least harm.
    Protect the weak.
    Goodness is not a natural state, but must be fought for to be attained and maintained.
    Lead by example.
    Let your deeds speak your intentions.
    Goodness radiates from the heart.
    Give others your mercy, but keep your wits about you.
  • Also from the Old World of Darkness, Werewolf: The Apocalypse presents the Litany of the Garou Nationnote .
    Garou shall not mate with Garou.
    Combat the Wyrm wherever it dwells and wherever it breeds.
    Respect the territory of another.
    Accept an honorable surrender.
    Submit to those higher in station.
    The first share of the kill for the greatest in station.
    Ye shall not eat the flesh of humans.
    Respect those beneath ye — all are of Gaia.
    The Veil shall not be lifted.
    Do not suffer thy people to tend thy sickness.
    The leader may be challenged at any time during peace.
    The leader may not be challenged during wartime.
    Ye shall take no action that causes a Caern to be violated.
    • Werewolf: The Forsaken likewise has the Oath of the Moon, with precepts such as. "The Wolf Must Hunt," "The Herd Must Not Know", "The Low Honor the High; the High Honor the Low," "The People Do Not Murder the People," "Respect Your Prey," "The Uratha Shall Cleave to the Human," and "Do Not Eat the Flesh of Man or Wolf." Each tribe has a little sub-clause to this Oath, such as "Offer No Surrender You Would Not Accept" (the Blood Talons), "Pay Each Spirit in Kind" (the Bone Shadows), "Let No Sacred Place in Your Territory Be Violated" (the Hunters in Darkness), "Honor Your Territory in All Things" (the Iron Masters), and "Allow No One to Witness or Tend To Your Weakness" (the Storm Lords).

     Web Comics  

  • Captain Tagon (and other characters) in Schlock Mercenary often quote from "The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries"

     Web Original  

     Video Games  

     Visual Novels  

  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni uses a variation of Knox's Decalogue:
    1. It is forbidden for the culprit to be anyone not mentioned in the early part of the story.
    2. It is forbidden for supernatural agencies to be employed as a detective technique.
    3. It is forbidden for hidden passages to exist.
    4. It is forbidden for unknown drugs or hard to understand scientific devices to be used.
    5. (Not Included) ("No Asian characters must appear"… the story takes place in Japan…)
    6. It is forbidden for accident or intuition to be employed as a detective technique.
    7. It is forbidden for the detective to be the culprit.
    8. It is forbidden for the case to be resolved with clues that are not presented.
    9. It is permitted for observers to let their own conclusions and interpretations be heard.
    10. It is forbidden for a character to disguise themselves as another without any clues.
    • Van Dine's 20 rules were featured shortly in EP7, but only a few of them were used, as the gameboard probably doesn't follow those commandments.


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