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 Moms and Dads see their child about to do something [or encounter the child announcing their intention to do] 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 him/herself 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!"
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 varying varieties of Abusive Parents who 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 though the parent is actively remembering part of what their youth was like].
- Someone commenting "you have to let the child make his/her 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 using this, you have the Theory of Narrative Causality. Obviously Truth in Television.
- In Naruto:
Naruto: How do you know that I have two kinds of chakra?
Jiraiya: Because I am a sennin.
Naruto: That didn't make any sense.
- Dororo: 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.Hyakkimaru: Why?Dororo: Because I say so!Hyakkimaru I don't get it.
- Typical conversation between Thor and Odin
Thor: Father, I want to date/marry/love a mortal woman.
Odin: A immortal cannot marry a mortal!
Odin: 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 since Toph challenges Aang since he himself does not recall what the traditions meant, if he ever knew and clung to them unknowingly. While 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.
- 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?
- 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 his heart.
- Ariel says this to her own daughter in the sequel 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 had hidden the fact that her home and water supply is contaminated by a deadly toxic waste. The mother looks outside in horror at her kids in a pool and realizes that they are literally neck deep in dangerously polluted water and runs to get them out. When the kids ask why they had 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 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 teenage Molly about the use of her burgeoning magic 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 - while Lord Plosk has enough autority to tell just that 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 has used 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 precedence for Vetinari using this. It's called "Quia ego sic deco" or "Because I say so."
- 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 too. When Hermione suggests he listens 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!"
- And, of course, the Dursleys had their "don't ask questions" rule. Really, a lot of adults in the series, 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 explained 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" you can get stuck in with a Constantly Curious child, where they ask why the sky is blue, and you eventually find yourself 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.
- The Cosby Show: The pilot episode famously saw Cliff call out his son, Theo, for his consistently poor grades at school. Cliff told his son, quite bluntly, that he was 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.)
- This moment actually set the tone of the show, as Theo tried to give a "why don't you just love me for who I am" speech that was a reliable trope at the time; this too drew applause before Cliff showed what mindset they should really cheer for, and it was not for the lazy kid unwilling to do better (although Theo eventually did have a valid excuse for his school trouble: he was dyslexic).
- HRG in Heroes forbade Claire from her Homecoming dance because he expected a Sylar attack. Claire, being a teenager, gave into her friend's insistence she should go anyway. Further, Claire's mother knew full well Claire would rebel, didn't assist her husband in keeping Claire at home [HRG had not let her in on his reasons for keeping Claire home]. She displayed surprising insight and halfway subverted the trope.
- Then there's season 2, where 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. Exactly as you'd expect, his efforts eventually lead to his death. Of course, it turns into a "Shaggy Dog" Story because by the end of that same episode he's Back from the Dead. But that's season 2 for ya.
- In Supernatural, Dean (who in addition to being a big brother to Sam was also something of a father figure, because their dad was usually not around) said exactly this to Sam when Sam wanted to summon the Crossroads Demon to try and 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 had 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 was softer than usual for this trope, in that they were 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, went 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.
- On an episode of The Wire, Omar gets asked by the rest of his crew why he only robs stashes from the Barksdale crew, and his answer is simply "Because".
- In one episode of ALF, Alf wants to be the leader of the newly formed neighborhood watch and Willie keeps refusing. 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.
- 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.
- In Disney's The Replacements, Agent K told Todd and Riley at some length they were never to go to a carnival of any kind, under any circumstances, ever, on earth. Todd pretty much reacted to this with "she pretty much dared me to go." It turns out that K had, as a child, run away to the carnival herself, and didn't want her children to make the same mistake she had.
- 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 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.: Because why?
Arthur: Because because.
D.W.: Because because why?
Arthur: Because because because.
D.W.: Because because because why?
Arthur: Because because because because!
D.W.: Because because because because WHYYYYYY?!?
Arthur: Because because because... because...
[Buster whispers in Arthur's ear]
Arthur: 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:
- Johnny did that to Sarah and Jimmy in the Ed, Edd n Eddy 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!!!
- 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: Hey, how come you can watch cartoons while the kids can't?
Homer: Because why?
Marge: Because I said so.
Homer: Because you said so why?
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, "That's just how it's done" was Lao Beifong's typical response to his blind daughter Toph's questions, which became a source of great discomfort for her.
- On ToddWorld, this is a bully's reason why everyone has to follow his rules in "Todd Takes a Stand." Todd takes issue with his rule that his turtle friend Tanner can't go on the slide. It really doesn't cut any ice with him.
- 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
- 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 not any too bright even when he's sober as a judge.
- It's also possible the parent are 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.")
- Parents often do this when saddled with an Constantly Curious child or Curious Monkey.
- 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 US government says so.note Here, though, it doesn't have the usual negative connotations that would normally be associated with this trope (unless you are 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.