What are they trying to do?
Make a good boy of you
Do they know where it's at?
Don't criticize, they're old and wise
Do as they tell you to
Don't want the devil to
Come and put out your eyes"
- "Because I said so."
- "Because I'm the mommy/daddy, that's why."
- "Because you're just a kid and you don't know any better."
- "Because you're too young to know what you want."
- "Because! That's why!"
Essentially, this trope describes adults who believe that simply being the parent grants them the right to rule unquestioned over their child, so there's no need to explain anything to their child.
The problem is that it is in the nature of children to test boundaries and ask questions. (Of course, it is also in the nature of children to be ignorant, so it kind of equals out.)
So, when mothers and fathers see their child about to do (or encounter the child announcing their intention to do) something they believe or know to be a bad idea, their reaction happens like a bad, conditioned reflex. As a result of their belief that they should rule unquestioned, the parent will just say "No!" with increasing emphasis (and increasing ire the more the child questions the mandate).
Mom and Dad's insistence on their unquestioned authority is a type of Parental Obliviousness, leaving them blinded by their disciplinarian attitude, unaware that they've just laid out a beautiful platter of Forbidden Fruit; that the "NO!" without explaining why they are dead set against their child doing the thing the child wants to do, or why they think it is such a terrible idea is what is driving the child's questions.
Consequently, the child often becomes all the more determined to do what has been forbidden, often going to ludicrous lengths to do so. If the child does obey, it's usually with flinging themself on the bed, and possibly cries of:
- "I hate you!"
- "You're ruining my life!"
- "You never let me do anything I want to do!"
A particularly smartass child may persist and ask, "Well, why did you say so?"
Most frequently, the parent ends up regretfully confessing that they did the forbidden thing themselves as a child and they only wanted to protect their own children from the same mistake/misfortune.
Other times, the parent just doesn't explain actions that make no sense to the child, and upsets or estranges them. But, the confession ends up about the same: the parent was trying to protect the kid, and it's always with the best intentions. Although, less ideal scenarios may feature varieties of Abusive Parents who use this as a means to dominate their children.
Usual endings include:
- Someone commenting that the parent in question seems to have forgotten what it was like to be a child (even if the parent is actively remembering part of what their youth was like).
- Someone commenting, "You have to let the child make their own mistakes."
- The child in question beginning or continuing to think Adults Are Useless.
Often a stock form of Conflict Ball.
A type of Appeal to Authority. See also Screw the Rules, I Make Them! and My Way or the Highway. When the plot of a story itself seems to be doing this, you have the Theory of Narrative Causality and/or Because Destiny Says So. This saying will often be appealing to the Tautological Templar. An example of Truth in Television.
- In Naruto:
Naruto Uzumaki: How do you know that I have two kinds of chakra?
Jiraiya: Because I am a sennin.note
Naruto Uzumaki: That didn't make any sense.
- Dororo (2019): Hyakkimaru is supposed to be sixteen, but he has the social and language skills of a toddler due to being isolated from the world for most of his life, so Dororo is the adult of their group despite being ten.
Dororo: [turns to Hyakkimaru, annoyed] Bro, I told you not to do that [cup people's face in his hands as a greeting].
Hyakkimaru: [puzzled] Why?
Dororo: You just can't.
Dororo: Because I say so!
Hyakkimaru: I don't get it.
- Typical conversation between Thor and Odin.
Thor Odinson: Father, I want to date/marry/love a mortal woman.
Odin Borson: An immortal cannot marry a mortal!
Thor Odinson: Why?
Odin Borson: Because I'm an all-powerful god and I SAID SO!!!
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rift, "That's just how it's done" was Lao Beifong's typical answer to his daughter Toph's questions and became a source of great discomfort. As such, when Aang uses this answer to explain his traditions to Toph, she can't accept it and doesn't participate in them. Becomes more in-depth when Toph challenges Aang since he, himself, does not recall what the traditions mean, if he ever knew, and clings to them unknowingly. Although she has a point, Aang points out her same fervor in running from her past.
- Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: Reed may like to work alone, but Fury wants him to work with Sam, Tony and Marvel. Because he says so.
- The Adventures Of Captain Jack special, A*K*Q*J, has Jack as a king who is annoyed that his jester Herman, whom the king doesn't think is any good anyway, wants to get married, and wanting a reason to prevent it. His put-upon prime minister simply says, "Because you said so." At that, the king roars that he would look ridiculously petty doing that, and needs a better reason.
- This dialogue from Mafalda:
Mafalda's mother: Because I, your mother, said so!
Mafalda: If this is a matter of titles, I'm your daughter! And we graduated the same day! Right?
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Insontis II, at one point Kirk pulls out this phrase during an argument with the de-aged Spock about his diet, "only belatedly realizing he was turning into his own mother."
- The Night Unfurls:
- Olga wishes to speak to the dark elf refugees that Kyril has rescued. Cue this exchange, though with a slight variation.
Olga: I wish to speak to them.
Kyril: [in a dismissive tone] Your concern is noted... but, I am afraid that I must deny your request for the time being.
Chloe: [angered] My lady wants to speak to those people you rescued, knight.
Kyril: And she can when I say she can. It is not safe for her to be around them anyway.
- The above is later subverted as a justification is given — those refugees were from Loraine, the city that Olga once sacrificed to the orcs, so naturally, they loathe her. To Kyril's credit, he later has Grace send a message to the refugees, informing that Olga wants to speak to them. This also allows Olga to start making amends with the people she had wronged before.
- Olga wishes to speak to the dark elf refugees that Kyril has rescued. Cue this exchange, though with a slight variation.
- The Little Mermaid:
- The Little Mermaid: After Ariel the mermaid meets a hunky human prince, King Triton forbids her from going to the surface of the ocean out of fear of humans, which prompts her to trade her voice for a human body to live on land and try to win the prince's heart.
- The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea: Ariel says this to her own daughter when Melody questions why she isn't allowed to go into the sea.
- In Erin Brockovich, the titular character reveals to a mother that a corporation has hidden the fact that her home and water supply are contaminated by deadly toxic waste. The mother looks outside in horror at her kids in a pool, realizing that they are literally neck deep in dangerously polluted water, and runs to get them out. When the kids ask why they have to get out, she yells, "Because I said so!" guessing correctly that explaining toxic waste poisoning to children under 10 years old is as counterproductive as it is pointless.
- Kat in 10 Things I Hate About You is dead-set against her little sister dating the Jerk Jock, but refuses to say why until late in the movie, when she reveals she dated him once and slept with him, upon which he dumped her.
- In the film version of Matilda, our amazingly precocious protagonist is made to do as she's told because "I'm big and you're small, I'm smart and you're dumb, I'm right and you're wrong, and there's nothing you can do about it."
- The cop in Moonrise Kingdom tells Sam, "I can't argue with anything you said, and I don't have to, because you're 12."
- In Zig Zag (2002), this is Singer's explanation for why ZigZag can't have sex until he's eighteen.
- ...And Your Name Is Jonah: When Anthony asks why Jonah doesn't have to eat his peas but he does, Danny says, "Because I said so." The real reason is that Jonah is deaf and knows no language, spoken or signed, so his parents have no way of explaining things or disciplining him.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming has Tony Stark tell Peter Parker to stop chasing Adrian Toomes and let the deputies get him. When Peter asks for a reason, Tony uses this phrase:
Tony: Look, forget the flying vulture guy, please.
Tony: Because- why? BECAUSE I SAID SO!
- The Big Chill: Sarah says this to her daughter over the phone when telling her to do something. When she gets off the phone, she admits to Meg she can't believe the actually said that.
- In Molly (1983), this is Aunt Jenny's first explanation for why Maxie can't watch TV, although she then explains that she'd rather spend quality time with Maxie by doing a puzzle with her.
- In Sweet Hostage, this is what Leonard tells his kidnapping victim, Doris Mae, when she asks why he's tying her up before his trip into town.
- In Youngblood (1986), Dean asks why he should keep playing hockey after Racki attacks and severely injures Sutton. Coach Chadwick says "Because I said so, that's why!" and threatens to kick him off the team if he isn't on the ice in five minutes. Dean quits, for the time being.
- In The Dresden Files Action Mom Charity causes an egregious example. Charity is so ashamed of her own history with magic and knowledge of the Laws of Magic that she never tells anyone about it. Instead she engages in yelling matches with already rebellious teenager Molly about the use of her burgeoning magical talent. This results in the unwitting Molly breaking said laws, and Harry having to put his life on the line to prevent the White Council from killing her.
- She goes double time later on when she tries to forbid Harry teaching Molly to use magic; Molly tries to cite the parable of the talentsnote as an argument in her favor, and Charity tells her, "Don't you dare quote scripture at me, young lady!" Which is the last thing a woman as religious as Charity should ever be saying to her child.
- Irvine Welsh's Porno: Spud doesn't take an argument with Begbie further, as he knows it will be along the lines of "No it won't", "Yes it will", "How so?", "Because I fucking says so".
- Defied in Death of Integrity: Although Lord Plosk has enough autority to tell just that to the Space Marines waiting for instructions, he decides against it, as motivated and well-treated Space Marines are generally better soldiers (and safer to be around) than pissed-off, clueless Space Marines.
- In The Discworld novels, The Patrician uses this once or twice, though in his case his justification is because he's officially a tyrant. For example:
On what charge?
There doesn't have to be one!
- There is actually a legal precedent for Vetinari using this. It's called "Quia ego sic dico", or "Because I say so."
- In the Goosebumps book How to Kill a Monster, main character Gretchen is being driven to her grandparents' house that's in the swamp in south Georgia, because her parents have a business meeting in Atlanta. She asks her parents why she and her stepbrother Clark have to stay there, instead of staying with them. That's when her parents concurrently say, "Because we said so." This causes Gretchen to slump down in her seat, with her mood of argument vanquished.
Because we said so. Once they said those deadly words, there was no use arguing.
- Harry Potter
- Dolores Umbridge does this in spades. At one point, she punishes Hermione for daring to form an opinion, saying, "I am here to teach you using a Ministry-approved method that does not include inviting students to give their opinions on matters about which they understand very little."
- Snape does it, too. When Hermione suggests he listen to Sirius and Lupin's story at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban, he yells, "KEEP QUIET, YOU STUPID GIRL! DON'T TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!"
- The Dursleys have a "don't ask questions" rule for Harry before he goes to Hogwarts. Really, a lot of adults in the series do this, though most are well-intentioned and just trying to protect Harry and friends from the Awful Truth, which they tend to find out anyway.
- Played with at the end of Philosopher's Stone when Harry asks to hear the truth about some things and Dumbledore states upfront that the truth "is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution. However, I shall answer your questions unless I have a very good reason not to, in which case I beg you'll forgive me. I shall not, of course, lie." So, for what it's worth, he explains not explaining in a non-condescending fashion.
- In Deathly Hallows, Harry, Ron, and Hermione do this to the adults (though they're technically adults in wizarding society by this point) when they insist their secret mission from Dumbledore must remain so, even from their parents.
- In The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, when one of the Ten Men (thuggish henchmen of the book's main villain) asks Martina Crowe why they shouldn't take Reynie and the others to Mr. Curtain in the cave, she snaps, "Because I said so!", though Reynie suspects her unstated reason is because this would mean that they were no longer under her direct control.
- In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Also People, one of the People discusses the "why loop" someone can get stuck in with a Constantly Curious child, where they ask why the sky is blue, and one eventually finds oneself trying to explain physics in terms a four-year-old will understand. Benny reflects that she'd have resorted to this long before they got to that point.
- In the Underdogs novel Tooth and Nail, Ewan gives this answer to a question from Mark about his strategy because he's too exhausted and grief-stricken to give a proper answer.
- Played for Drama in Breaking Bad when Walt uses this to get Junior out of the house when Skyler has a breakdown and wants to keep the kids away for their safety, completely ignoring his demand to stop being Locked Out of the Loop.
- The Cosby Show: The pilot episode famously sees Cliff call out his son, Theo, for his consistently poor grades at school. Cliff tells his son, quite bluntly, that he is going to try harder at school "because I am your father. I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!" (This drew laughs and applause from the live audience.)
- Frasier: A rare adult-on-adult example, and for heartwarming purposes as well. Frasier, in a discussion with his dad, mentions that after his first marriage went belly-up his mother (deceased by the time the series begins) tried reassuring him. Frasier said he didn't want to hear the usual platitudes and asked why she thought he'd find new love eventually. Hesther apparently said "because I'm your mother, and I say so." She was right... sort of.
- HRG forbids Claire from her Homecoming dance because he expects a Sylar attack. Claire, being a teenager, gives in to her friend's insistence she should go anyway. Further, Claire's mother knows full well Claire will rebel, and doesn't assist her husband in keeping Claire at home (HRG has not let her in on his reasons for keeping Claire home). She displays surprising insight and halfway subverts the trope.
- HRG, under the excuse of trying to stay under the company's radar, uses Because I Said So to keep Claire from dating because it looks like it will lead to his death.
- The Professionals
- In "Look After Annie", George Cowley assigns CI5 the job of bodyguarding controversial American politician Annie Irvine. When Bodie and Doyle ask why they're doing a job that Special Branch would normally be doing, Cowley replies, "Because I want it. Because I say so." This is hardly unusual for Cowley, but when Irvine looks delighted that "Georgie" sent them, our heroes start to wonder if it's to cover up for another reason.
- In "Close Quarters", Bodie is holded up in a country house with a terrorist leader he's captured, under siege from the other terrorists. His Girl of the Week wants to know why they don't just hand over the terrorist like they demand. Bodie, somewhat under stress, is unable to articulate a reason ("Because I don't like to lose...because Cowley says so") and ends up giving this trope.
- In Supernatural, Dean (who in addition to being a big brother to Sam is also something of a father figure, because their dad was usually not around) says exactly this to Sam when Sam wants to summon the Crossroads Demon to try to break Dean's deal. (If they try to break the deal, then Sam will die). Sam goes and summons the Crossroads Demon anyway, without Dean's knowledge, and ends up killing her.
- The Drugs Are Bad episode of Home Improvement has Tim and Jill telling Brad that yes, they grew up in the sixties, and at the very least Jill tried it—and ended up in a hospital due to a laced batch. Their point is softer than usual for this trope, in that they are more concerned about the same thing happening to Brad than him simply doing it, and that he worked too hard for his collegiate and sports future to throw it away for drugs. Another episode, dealing with religion, goes the other way—Tim says he doesn't mind whatever Randy thinks with regards to religion (as the most intellectual of the Taylor children is beginning to abandon the church, though not his faith), as long as "your butt's in that pew" on Sundays.
- In a Season 3 episode of The Wire, Karmic Thief Omar gets asked by the rest of his crew why he's specifically targeting the stashes of the Barksdale crew, which at the time is the largest and most powerful drug in West Baltimore. Omar, not wanting to tell them that the reason why is because the Barksdales tortured and murdered a boyfriend of his back in Season 1 (before any of them knew him), simply answers "Because."
- In one episode of ALF, Alf wants to be the leader of the newly formed neighborhood watch and Willie keeps refusing. It leads to this exchange:
Alf: Why not? Give me a reason.
Willie: Because you don't put responsibility in irresponsible hands.
Alf: That's not a reason! That's a platitude!
Willie: Then because I said so!
Alf: And that's dogma! [Beat] Actually, that's worse than dogma. That's dog manure.
- On The Partridge Family, Shirley occasionally ends arguments with Danny by saying, "Because I'm bigger."
- In an episode of Raven's Home, Booker wants to tell people he's psychic but Raven tells him no "because". And apparently, "because" has been the only answer to why everyone in the Baxter family can't tell people they're psychic. Booker tells her that that is not a good enough answer and Raven sympathizes with him and tells him the real truth: most of the time, the visions are unreliable.
- In The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Little Pete rounds up the neighborhood kids to join him in a fight against bedtime and refuse to sleep, all because when he asked why he had to go to bed, his mom replied with the dreaded "Because I said so, that's why."
- "And that's the bottom line, 'cause Stone Cold said so!"
- ODB was the first-ever OVW Women's Champion because she named herself that.
- WWE Survivor Series 1987. During the Team Strike Forcenote -Team Hart Foundationnote match, commentators Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura were arguing about the pronunciation of Islander Tama's name.
JESSE VENTURA: "Tama, Toma, it's 'Toma' if I say it's 'Toma'".
- In Eternal Sonata, a boy witnesses Polka using magic to heal a man (who promptly runs for his life as soon as he is able). He's amazed by her glowing, and his mother pulls him away, telling him not to go near people who glow like that. He asks why. Cue the trope. (In the world of the game, magic is almost always a side effect of a fatal illness. It's thought to be contagious, thanks to a rumor.)
- In a later mission in Assassin's Creed III, Haytham Kenway actually says this to his son Connor as to why he has to chase a guard.
- The Mysterious Mr. Enter brings up this topic in his video discussing swearing, and explains that this trope is swift to alienate the audience of any conveyed message because of the inherent lack of explanation that is often required.
- This video by DarkMatter2525 explores this trope pretty well.
- Kitboga is a scambaiter popular on Twitch and YouTube. This is a common scammer response whenever Kitboga presses them on a particular point of ridiculousness with their scam and they're unable to come up with a reasonable response. For example, in "Scammer Wants $1000s in Extortion Scam," Kitboga suggests simply asking the bank for a manila envelope instead of getting one from a convenience store like the scammer wants. The scammer sounds like a broken record saying "no" and when Kitboga asks why not...
Kitboga: It'll save time.
Scammer: Because you have to follow my instructions, that's why.
- In Disney's The Replacements, Agent K tells Todd and Riley at some length that they are never to go to a carnival of any kind, under any circumstances, ever, on Earth. Todd pretty much reacts to this with "she pretty much dared me to go." It turns out that as a child K ran away to the carnival, herself, and didn't want her children to make the same mistake she made.
- Parodied in South Park, when Stan's Dad displays a ridiculously over-the-top hysteria about Stan's desire to form a boy-band with his friends, but refuses to explain why until the end: it turns out he was in a boy band once and ended up losing his fame as quickly as he gained it.
- In an episode, the title character used a variant of this on his little sister:
D.W. Read: Why?
Arthur Read: Because.
D.W. Read: Because why?
Arthur Read: Because because.
D.W. Read: Because because why?
Arthur Read: Because because because.
D.W. Read: Because because because why?
Arthur Read: Because because because because!
D.W. Read: Because because because because WHYYYYYY?!?
Arthur Read: Because because because... because...
[Buster whispers in Arthur's ear]
Arthur Read: You'd get scared of the dark!
- This crops up amusingly in another episode, wherein Arthur, unable to come up with an appropriate response to D.W.'s demand of "Why?" simply snaps, "Because I said so. That's why!" D.W. immediately responds that "Only Mom and Dad get to say that."
- In an episode, the title character used a variant of this on his little sister:
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: Johnny does this to Sarah and Jimmy in the episode "Shoo Ed".
Sarah: Johnny, get out of there!
Sarah: 'Cause I said so!
Sarah: 'Cause you're bugging us!
Sarah: 'CAUSE YOU'RE STUPID!!!
- Deconstructed in the Johnny Test episode "Johnny's Got A Brand New Dad", where the Test kids are sick of their uptight dad Hugh saying no to everything so they make a clone of him that lets them do whatever they want. After it inevitably backfires and Hugh has to save them from the clone, they reconcile with him as he explains that he has to be responsible and say no to them sometimes while promising to be less uptight (at least until Flanderization worsened his neurotic tendencies in later seasons).
- In The Simpsons episode "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge", Marge has forbidden Bart and Lisa from watching Itchy & Scratchy and is later seen watching the show to study its violent images.
Homer Simpson: Hey, how come you can watch cartoons while the kids can't?
Marge Simpson: Because.
Homer Simpson: Because why?
Marge Simpson: Because I said so.
Homer Simpson: Because you said so, why?
- On ToddWorld, this is a bully's reason why everyone has to follow his rules in "Todd Takes a Stand." Todd takes issue with the bully's rule that Todd's turtle friend Tanner can't go on the slide. It really doesn't cut any ice with him.
- On The Fairly OddParents, when Timmy points out that his parents signed a contract with him that he doesn't need a babysitter on Saturdays, they simply use it as fishwrap.
- Darkwing Duck: In the second part of "Just Us Justice Ducks", when Negaduck tells the rest of the Fearsome Five that he's keeping all the money for himself, he uses this line as his answer when they protest about it. Of course, he also has a chainsaw for extra leverage.
- This is one of the lengths many parents will go to in order to prevent children from having any knowledge of swearing, and forbidding children from actually swearing themselves.
- This is a common reply when one's parent can't think of a comeback.
- Parents may have valid reasons but not want to give them. For example, it's generally not appropriate to confide in a child that the real reason the child can't go to the circus with Uncle Shaggy this afternoon is that Uncle Shaggy is stoned out of his mind at this particular moment, and none too bright even when he's as sober as a judge.
- It's also possible the parent is smart enough to realize that children in general and their children in particular are born Rules Lawyers, so giving a reason why will only result in a barrage of objections, each of which they're going to have to argue tooth-and-nail. Sometimes it's best to just refuse to play and go with the Unanswer, because this limits the possible objections pretty much to "It's not fair!" which has a built-in response ("Life Isn't Fair.")
- And sometimes a kid is just being playful and/or curious to the point of exasperation: "Why?" "Because X" "Why X?" "Because Y" "Why Y?" "Because Z" "Why Z?" "BECAUSE I SAID SO!"
- Of course, the short-term benefits to the parent's sanity is probably not worth the long term effect of teaching their children to unquestioningly accept anything an authority figure tells them at all times.
- Parents often do this when saddled with a Constantly Curious child or Curious Monkey.
- Parents and other authority figures will often use this as an excuse to control their children and/or those under their care and/or watch.
- This is how fiat currency works, with the government taking the role of parents the green piece of paper with the portrait of George Washington is worth one dollar because, essentially, the U.S. government says so.note Here, though, it doesn't have the usual negative connotations that would normally be associated with this trope (unless one is a proponent of the gold standard) indeed, there is no reserve currencynote in the world today that is directly convertible to gold or any other commodity.
- In the 1930s, Walt Disney had a policy of only hiring men as animators; women could apply for the more menial job of inker. Women who inquired about jobs in the creative department would be sent a letter informing them that: "Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men. For this reason girls are not considered for the training school." In other words, we don't train women as animators as we have men to do that job and that's just the way we do things around here.