The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is a treaty between countries which generally grants to the official representative of a country certain privileges by the receiving country, on the presumption of reciprocity, e.g. we will grant immunity from prosecution to your official diplomats in our country as long as you do the same for ours when they're in your country.
Diplomatic immunity, the next step in "not shooting the messenger" etiquette, is supposed to protect diplomats from being harassed for political reasons. In fiction, this can be a handy device, as it answers the question of "why don't they just arrest him?" quite neatly. Quite often, it's the villains who are protected by it their immunity from the cops means that it's left to the hero to bring them down vigilante-style. Visiting heads of state get something similar, so every President Evil presumably has it automatically, although it isn't necessarily included in the plot. There are also heroes who have it, but for them, it's often a rather flimsy shield. For either side, this legal cover gives rise to the Diplomatic Cover Spy who spies on the host country but can't be gotten rid of easily because they have immunity from prosecution for being a high-enough ranking diplomatic representative.
Related to this is the principle that the grounds of embassies should be treated (only treated, mind) as part of the owning country for legal purposes. This provides characters with a place to retreat to where they will supposedly be safe from pursuit again, they're often villains who will smugly inform the hero that they can't follow. Likewise the immunity of sealed "Diplomatic Bags" from customs searches may be used by a diplomatic villain as an easy way to smuggle illegal itemsnote .
And then there are cars with diplomatic plates, which are supposedly immune to all traffic and parking regulations. In reality, while it's perfectly possible to issue them a ticket, it's difficult at best to make them actually pay the fine. Some countries, surprisingly enough, do pay their parking tickets when official vehicles are ticketed.
Diplomatic immunity only applies to recognized diplomats and specific portions of their families; agents not officially in the country ("Non official cover" or hidden spies) can't claim it. Committing major crimes under the cover of diplomatic immunity would cause a serious international incident. Take murder, for example. If a foreign country protects a diplomat accused of murder from all consequences, they would appear to approve of the murder, making it an assassination by that country, which is an act of war. While diplomatic immunity is abused, serious abuse is playing with fire so diplomatic immunity can be revoked by the issuing country's foreign affairs office or by shooting the diplomat in the head... whichever comes first. Although it is rare for a country to refuse to waive diplomatic immunity for a diplomat accused of murder or manslaughter, it does happen: Libya and the USA have both refused to waive immunity for diplomats accused of those respective crimes in the UK.note
In real life, it's often not taken that seriously, primarily because abusing diplomatic privileges to commit serious felonies in the host country is a very good way of getting the host country very, very angry. This, in turn, leads to all sorts of potentially unpleasant consequences. At the very least, any incident that warrants official attention is a potential career killer. If a diplomat or a family member did something really bad in the host country, the sending country may waive/strip them of their immunity, allowing the host country to try them. If they won't, the host country might declare them Persona Non Grata (PNG), a fancy Latin term roughly equivalent to "you're being a horrible guest, get out of our country" meaning they either have to leave the country within a reasonable time, or they have to give up their diplomatic immunity and be an ordinary tourist (at which point they could be prosecuted). In some cases, if the sending country is going to prosecute them instead, they will recall the person back to the home country, often before the host country PNGs them.
The accuracy of depictions varies considerably. Abuse of it on-screen can overlap with Hollywood Law.
This is often used as a No-Harm Requirement to keep the heroes from taking down a bad guy easily.
- Ghost in the Shell:
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
- In one episode a hacker tries to defend himself from Section 9 by saying that he's the son of the Canadian ambassador. He is, but Section 9 had already sought and received consent from the Canadians to proceed. Much of the episode takes place with Section 9 tailing him until the proper authorizations are given allowing them to move in for the arrest.
- In another case, a Russian criminal who's been trafficking in humans happens to have unwittingly kidnapped the daughter of the former Japanese Prime Minister. Said criminal tries to run to the embassy but they close the automatic gates on her before she has a chance to get in.
- At the climax of the second season, the Big Bad takes a job with the American Empire, complete with extradition, in order to give himself a quasi-form of this. Section 9 obtains a letter from the Prime Minister authorizing them to use any means necessary up to and including lethal force to prevent his defection, despite the risk of a diplomatic backlash. When confronted, he assumes they are bluffing. They aren't.
- At the start of Ghost in the Shell (1995), Section 9 is going after someone who then claims diplomatic immunity. The Major simply blows his head off.
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex:
- Early on in Code Geass R2, the Black Knights take refuge in the Chinese Federation's embassy (having Geassed the ambassador into submission).
- In the Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise arc of Black Lagoon, Balalaika essentially gets away with creating a yakuza civil war by pulling a few strings and getting the Russian Ambassador to escort her away from her last hit and away from a huge police dragnet, who don't know who she is apart from the fact that an Ambassador just came to pick her up. Interestingly, someone who does know who she is yells at the cops for failing to arrest her, meaning that she didn't actually have this trope in effect but was only counting on them expecting it just long enough for her to make an escape.
- In Until Death Do Us Part, bad guy Edge Turus invokes this against Mamoru. It doesn't work, and he ends up losing an arm and a leg.
- In Umineko: When They Cry, Sakutaro has this as a superpower.
- Level E. Prince Baka Ki El Dogra is an enormous jerk and knows it, but no one can do anything about him because he is a prince, and by the way of a recently concluded diplomatic treaty (which he orchestrated in a first part) he is in effect a protector of the Earth. He still gets beaten a lot though.
- In the second Dominion Tank Police OVA series, Leona discovers the identity of the Big Bad of the season and is told to back off because he's a diplomat. Instead, she follows him to the airport in her tank and shoots his plane down as he's taking off. There are no mentioned repercussions for this outright act of war whatsoever.
- The World Nobles in One Piece combine this trope with Screw the Rules, I Make Them!. As they are the descendants of the people who founded the (highly corrupt) World Government, they can do as they please, and anyone who even tries to interfere with or touch them in any way will face the full force of a Marine army, including an admiral. Arguably the only people in the world who could get away with defying or even killing a World Noble are the Four Emperors, certain members of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, or the most wanted man in the world, Dragon the Revolutionary, because between their powerful crews and personal strength, even the admirals would have a hard time defeating one of them.
- The final arc of the original run of Appleseed involved a cyborg diplomat trying to use this to smuggle a Humongous Mecha out of the city, by wiring himself into it and walking out. Unfortunately for him, his immunity got revoked, and he discovered that Giant Robots are somewhat vulnerable to flying cyborgs with tank cannons.
- Used and subverted in Cat Planet Cuties.
- Aoi and Manami are given diplomatic protection by the Catians after they helped rescue Eris from the CIA. This prevents retaliation against them for that act, but the protection is never used to allow them to commit further crimes. The Japanese government was happy to do so since the Catians were willing to overlook the fact that the member they'd sent to make initial contact with Earth had been kidnapped and nearly murdered on Japanese soil.
- The potential diplomatic immunity of Kio's house being the Catian embassy is brought up in two instances later. Once, when Eris wants to mate with Kio despite being underage by Japanese law, and another time when Manami wants to shoot off guns in the yard. Both times, Kio puts the kibosh on it because he's not okay with either.
- A one-shot character in Cat's Eye was a foreign ambassador using his immunity to steal and smuggle art, with Toshio and the other cops having managed to follow the trail to him and gather enough evidence they would be able to search his house if it wasn't an embassy. The ambassador's country revokes the immunity for him and his accomplices when Toshio manages to gather damning evidence anyway.
- In Lupin III: Goodbye Partner, the villainous Roy Forest is forced to bail out of his private jet over the ocean thanks to Lupin. Floating in his escape pod, he tries to claim diplomatic immunity thanks to his connections to the American government when Inspector Zenigata comes to arrest him. Zenigata points out that Lupin cleverly arranged for Forest's plane to crash in international waters, which means he's now in ICPO territory where there is no diplomatic immunity.
- Fantastic Four: Doctor Doom, as ruler of Latveria, enjoys the head-of-state version when on official visits, but he's fair game when visiting on other occasions.
- In the Crossover story where he fought Superman, after his plan was defeated Doom ran to the Latverian embassy, reaching it seconds before Superman arrived, then simply turned toward Superman and dared him to cross the embassy border to try arresting him on Latverian soil. Superman didn't want to trigger a major diplomatic incident so he turned around and left.
- In one Fantastic Four story, Reed Richards and his family go to Latveria and take it over briefly so they can dismantle Doom's assets while he's suffering from a temporary death. They're eventually challenged by Nick Fury and arrested due to breaking international law by occupying the country, regardless of the fact that they're removing the tools Doom used to oppress the populace. Eventually it's pointed out to Fury that in addition to being a murderous tyrant, Dr. Doom broke international law and committed horrible crimes just about every other day on both his own and foreign soil, yet somehow neither the United Nations or any authority ever revoked his diplomatic immunity or attempted to remove him from power. This has never been brought up again.
- The first storyline of Mighty Avengers had Iron Man march his team of Avengers right into Latveria, fight and arrest Doom for something he didn't even start (a symbiote invasion - he had a satellite that started it, but he didn't initiate it). He promptly escaped during Secret Invasion and wasn't touched since.
- Should be noted that while Latveria is a tiny fictional country and normally would lack any amount of real political clout, the fact that Doom is an Übermensch super-genius means that he was able to turn it into a de facto global superpower on par with or even surpassing the United State of America, having access to technology so advanced that in the event of a war between the two Latveria would almost certainly win; Doom himself is powerful enough to let him take on an entire team of superheroes by himself, not to mention he has teleportation and Time Travel tech on his person and in his embassy so can enter and leave the United States at any time. It is likely that Doom has not been arrested less because of his immunity and more because even trying to arrest him is incredibly dangerous.
- Once, after defeating Maxima in battle yet again, Superman cites this as a reason for the police to withdraw. The other reason is that the Queen of Almerac is just as powerful as him, so the police wouldn't have been able to hold her anyway.
- The Joker gains diplomatic immunity once by being appointed as an ambassador to the United Nations. (He was initially said to be representing Iran, but that was apparently deemed
implausiblebeyond the bounds of bad taste — it was retconned so that he represented the fictitious Qurac. Yes, that one.)
- The writer (Jim Starlin) seems to have liked this trope; he used it earlier in "Ten Nights of the Beast" and "The Diplomat's Son". In the former, Batman ends up trapping the KGBeast and walking away, presumably to let him starve to death (well, until it was retconned), while in the latter it's suggested that Jason Todd shoved the diplomat's son off a high balcony.
- The Joker gains diplomatic immunity once by being appointed as an ambassador to the United Nations. (He was initially said to be representing Iran, but that was apparently deemed
- In DC Comics' Crisis Crossover 52, Captain Marvel's enemy Black Adam kills a supervillain right in front of a news crew — by ripping him in half with his bare hands — but is not arrested presumably because he was standing over the embassy of Kahndaq which, as a general rule, he rules (at least until he is Taken for Granite a few months later).
- In Joss Whedon's first Astonishing X-Men run, after the X-Men (mostly the newly-resurrected Colossus) put the beat-down on the alien conqueror Ord, Nick Fury and a squad of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents show up with heavy ordnance, claiming that Ord has diplomatic immunity. As Wolverine replied in the next issue, "Diplomatic #%@* &%!!@#$@%#%$##@@#$$%$#@# $$#%$#@#$%#%@$#$@$&&&%&@&$#%$##%&&&@&!! immunity?"
- Deconstructed in Green Lantern Corps. A prince of a planet kills a Green Lantern and many potential replacements (because he wants to be a Lantern and they are all competition). When the other Lanterns bring him to Oa, they are forced to return him to his family. He is then tried and guillotined by them, with Soranik Natu giving him a Hope Spot just to be cruel.
- The Avengers:
- #130 deals with the team heading to North Vietnam for the Swordman's funeral, where they find that a trio of communist supervillains (Radioactive Man, Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man) have formed a team called the Titanic Three and allied themselves with the Viet Cong. When Iron Man tries to pick a fight with them, it's pointed out that thanks to Richard Nixon's 1973 ceasefire, the villains have complete immunity and can't be attacked without causing an international incident. However, the Titanic Three later make the mistake of attacking the Avengers in Saigon (located in South Vietnam), which gives the heroes the opportunity to actually fight back without fear of violating any treaties.
- In another issue, Klaw attempts to force Black Panther to make him the new king of Wakanda so that he can attack the nation of Rudyarda without fear of reprisal.
- Stormwatch, having been set up under the auspices of the United Nations, used to confer diplomatic immunity to its members, which also extends to their family members. Early in the original series, Jackson King reluctantly invokes this to get his little brother Malcolm out of a jam with the police.
- In a Brazilian Mickey Mouse Comic Universe, the Phantom Blot managed to acquire diplomatic immunity by kidnapping an ambassador and stealing his papers to claim he was the ambassador, even getting Super Goof declared a criminal for arresting him. Much to O'Hara's delight and Phantom Blot's horror, Super Goof's reaction was to fly to the country he purpotedly represented and convince their head of state to make him the ambassador and revoke Phantom Blot's status, at which point his plan was exposed and the original ambassador restored to his place.
- Wonder Woman Vol 1: Hypnota and the Saturnain slavers who refused to give up their trade when it became illegal try to frame Count Dendum, the Saturnian ambassador to the United States, as using his position to abduct and enslave humans. Their plot fails due to Diana and Steve being aware that something else is going on.
- In House and Powers of X, one of the big status quo changes involved in founding the mutant nation of Krakoa is that it demands diplomatic immunity for all mutants in any nation that signs its treaties. This is directly demonstrated in House Of X, where the Fantastic Four capture Sabretooth after he commits some murders in New York. Cyclops asks the heroes to turn him over, but they refuse. But as soon as the US signs up with Krakoa, Emma Frost rescues him from the American justice system with the power of diplomatic paperwork. (He winds up facing much harsher justice when he returns to Krakoa.)
- In Dilbert, Dogbert gets diplomatic immunity at one point - and of course, abuses it for the sake of amusement, to the point where he uses his diplomatic immunity to boot the president of Elbonia and take his place.
- In the Death Note Crack Fic Kingdom Come, L discovers that Light Yagami has gained diplomatic immunity by becoming ambassador for the Shinigami Realm.
- Defied in the Star Trek Online fic Strange Times Are Upon Us. As a member of the Klingon High Council, Ba'wov has full diplomatic immunity, and tries to invoke it to get out of their interrogation by the Department of Temporal Investigations. However, Agent Lucsly had already gotten the Klingon embassy to waive her immunity. Brokosh stops the interrogation by demanding a lawyer.
- In The Road Not Taken Eleya arrests a Klingon warrior for assault, but then is told Security was forced to release him because as part of the bodyguard detail for the Klingon ambassador he was covered by her diplomatic immunity.
- Inverted in The Glass Kingdom. When the Zaldian State Sec attempts to arrest Trixie and Lyra for stealing the Platinum Armory, Trixie reminds them that both of them are official ambassadors of Equestria and by treaty, Zaldia has to contact the Equestrian embassy and wait for a government representative. The State Sec agent hits her over the head and abducts the both of them anyway. He explicitly confirms later that Zaldia knows this is against the treaty, and they don't care.
- Attempted on The Truth Decays: Knowing that in the long run keeping on pissing him off would backfire hard, Tsunade grants Edward Elric diplomat status so all the other movers and makers of Konoha politics (especially Danzo) will leave Ed alone and not try to get retaliation for Ed's attempts at embarrassing them (which he did in retaliation to being dragged into the darkest cell Konoha has and interrogated so they could try to add knowledge of Alchemy to Konoha's arsenal and get knowledge of Amestris in case they needed to go to war with the latter, and having his Auto-Mail removed so it could be analyzed by Konoha scientists). It doesn't work. ROOT just goes behind Tsunade's back and brands Ed with a variation of the Caged Bird Seal that makes him unable to even so much as approach Konoha's city limits without enduring immense pain, so he cannot just leave and stop being bothered by Danzo, and when Tsunade gets in Danzo's face about such a blatant disregard of her orders, he mentions that he successfully managed to pull the "it was for the good of Konoha" card on the rest of the Hidden Village's political body, meaning all Tsunade can do about it is fume.
- In the Infinity Crisis follow-up, Sins, Sirens & Strife Black Adam basically uses this to get the League to release him even after he has attacked Metropolis and fought with Superman and the Shazam family; just prior to this fight, he killed the current ruler of his former home of Khandaq and was appointed the new ruler in an abrupt election.
- Harry Crow: Out of fear he'd be arrested as soon as he entered Wizarding Britain for the Triwizard Tournament, Durmstrang Headmaster Igor Karkaroff wouldn't agree to enter his school in the tournament until the Ministry agreed to grant diplomatic immunity to Durmstrang's representatives until the tournament is over. He ends up not going anyway because a new ward set at Hogwarts prevents people with the Dark Mark from entering the castle so he sends Durmstrang Deputy Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, who ends up using this immunity to avoid being arrested for past crimes.
- Throughout the course of Chrysalis Visits The Hague, this is invoked, played straight, subverted and defied. Many if not most of the characters have diplomatic protection in one way or another (since they work for governments, international organizations or are otherwise guaranteed immunity), and many try to exploit it, though it doesn't always work.
- The UN functionary Pierre for instance quickly discovers that his immunity (functional immunity) doesn't extend to acts that are, in nature, unrelated to his UN work (like breaking and entering or arson).
- When Princess Twilight Sparkle attacks Queen Chrysalis in the ICC, there are no repercussions beyond kicking her off the premises.
- Prosecution aide (and Equestrian Royal Guard clerk) Indigo Beam at one point uses his immunity to threaten a difficult concierge.
Do not make me invoke it, lady.
- This actually turns up in a fair few Miraculous Ladybug salt fics, with Lila often claiming her mother's diplomatic status when she's exposed for her various crimes in order to try to get out of punishment or get the authorities to back off. This rarely helps her, however; depending on the story, it usually comes in two flavors:
- The first one being Lila exaggerating her mother's position within the embassy and finding out that her mother's immunity doesn't extend to her. One such example is Burning Bridges, Building Confidence, where Mrs. Rossi isn't high up enough for her whole family to have diplomatic immunity; only she does. However, Marinette points out that Lila clearly thinks that she's covered, and that her behavior only proves how rotten people can be when they think they won't have to face any consequences for their actions.
- In the second one, she has immunity, but her mother revokes it. For example, in Crumbling Down, after all her lies and crimes are exposed, including helping Hawk Moth, Mrs. Rossi allows Lila to be arrested and prosecuted, because Lila, the daughter of a foreign diplomat, has been helping a domestic terrorist of the host country, which could lead to an international incident between the two countries. When Lila protest at the apparent betrayal, Mrs. Rossi explains that what Lila did went beyond what diplomatic immunity usually covers, and if she didn't revoke it Lila would be screwed anyway because then the Italian government would simply fire Mrs. Rossi from her diplomatic position, since doing otherwise would be seen as the Italian government condoning such acts.
- Naruto: Asunder: Tsunade is currently fuming and reading Naruto, Lee, Shino and Shikamaru the riot act for helping Hinata perform a coup. Naruto argues they saved the Hyuuga but gets shut down when Tsunade points out that had they failed, she would have been forced to execute them. She does however note she can't really throw the book at them, since the coup was actually legal. Hinata challenged her father for leadership via Trial by Combat and won. The others came as her entourage/witnesses which is both allowed and expected. Hinata's grandfather then commits treason by trying to kill her upon victory. All in all she can't really do anything to them because they played it by the book but Tsunade is quick to point out the political shitstorm the fallout would cause with the other clans (especially since Naruto is involved), and has to give them even more Diplomatic Immunity by saying they were working a secret operation to ferret out corruption in the ranks and a very terse and reluctant slap on the wrist.
- Origin Story: Played with. After Ben Grimm gets the hell out of the United States because he refuses to have any part in the Civil War and hurting any of his friends on both sides, he settles down in France and is given ambassadorial status by the French. When he returns to the U.S. later on in the story, SHIELD proceed to disregard this new status and arrests him for being an unregistered super, only for them to get a call a short time later from an irate President George W. Bush telling them to let Grimm go before the French decide to consider this an act of war.
- Subverted in 300. Leonidas kicks a Persian diplomatic messenger into a well in response to Xerxes's demand for earth and water as a sign of surrender. The diplomat is quite surprised to be threatened, since it's a serious breach of diplomatic protocol. He doesn't realize that "This! Is! Sparta!" Of course, this is Very Loosely Based on a True Story.
- The embassy part is subverted in The Bourne Identity, when Bourne escapes into the US embassy just ahead of the pursuing local authorities, but soon finds himself being chased by the Marine embassy guards because he's wanted by the US government as well.
- In Casino Royale (2006), James Bond gets in trouble for paying absolutely no attention to the extraterritoriality of an embassy in Africa. ("You violated the only absolutely inviolate rule of international relations, and for what?")
- In Lethal Weapon 2, the antagonist, Arjen Rudd, is using his diplomatic immunity to hide his smuggling empire, which infuriates our heroes to no end. However, when he tries to use it to freely gun down cops, he learns the hard way that it protects from an arrest or prosecution, not from being killed in self-defense. (Given how he was mocking them with his badge, it's hard to sympathize.) However, he was only a consular officer, and they get a lower grade of immunity — unless he had some other official status as well, he could have been searched provided proper procedures were followed. Also, they could have deported him to South Africa at the very least, who likely would extradite to keep the US happy.
- In Once Upon a Time in China 2, the British Ambassador refuses to allow General Nap-lan to arrest Sun Yat Sen in their embassy, stating that the Embassy was British soil, and as such they could legally grant the man asylum. (Since he was busy treating people injured in a terrorist attack at the time the attempted arrest was made, the ambassador had every reason to not want the Chinese government to drag the man away at that moment.) The next time said official enters the embassy, he murders the ambassador on the spot, claiming "This is China, not England!". In this case the ambassador is not abusing his powers, but the Chinese government refuses to acknowledge them.
- Outrage by Takeshi Kitano. The Yakuza use an embassy to run a illegal casino. They actually force the ambassador to move to a new building because the old one wasn't large enough.
- In The Princess Diaries, the Queen claims diplomatic immunity after she and Mia get into a car accident (the Queen's license had expired, and Mia was an unlicensed minor). Then she gets Mia out of trouble by inducting the traffic cops into the nonexistent "Genovian Order of the Rose." Earlier, Joe turned down Mia's request to take the Genovian flags off the limo he was driving, on the grounds that they allow him to park anywhere.
- Sneakers. When Marty is about to be captured by the FBI, his friend Gregor (a KGB agent) offers him asylum inside his car, which he says is technically part of the Russian consulate (and thus under diplomatic immunity). Unfortunately, the bad guys are not part of the US government, and have no problem shooting Gregor and kidnapping Marty anyway.
- In U.S. Marshals, a Chinese 'diplomat' claims immunity after shooting a federal agent in the head with an assault rifle. They're forced to deport him back to China, though it's implied that the US State Department is pissed, at least.
- Near the end of The Peacemaker, a missing nuke is smuggled via diplomatic pouch so that it is never checked. The nuke is for a plan to blow up the United Nations headquarters.
- The Soldier (1982). Ken Wahl's character is pursued onto the Israeli embassy grounds by US marines after breaking into the US Embassy. The Israelis order the marines to leave or they'll open fire.
- In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), Princess Leia attempts to use her diplomatic status as a member of the Alderaan royal family to frustrate Darth Vader's search for the stolen Death Star plans. It infamously doesn't go well as Vader points out, "if this is a consular ship, where is the ambassador?" as Alderaan gets destroyed days later by the Death Star. In Rogue One (2016), we learn that Leia and the Tantive IV was present at the battle of Scarif when the plans were stolen, and only escapes Vader by seconds, stretching her claim to incredulity.
- Even in the original film Leia's claims of immunity are rather dubious, seeing that her ship was shown firing on the Imperial Star Destroyer, something that can be considered a rather serious diplomatic faux pas.
- Ali G In Da House: Played for laughs at the end, when Ali G uses his new job as ambassador to Jamaica to smuggle weed back to the UK by slapping everything with diplomatic seals.
- Captain America: Civil War: Upon discovering that government agents are going after Bucky Barnes because they believe he's responsible for the U.N. bombing, Captain America and the Falcon go after them to bring Barnes into custody themselves (the agents were given shoot to kill orders). Their effort is interrupted by Black Panther, who wants to kill Barnes because his father was one of the people killed in the bombing. This leads to a chase that creates collateral damage and eventually ends with Cap and Falcon placed under arrest for obstructing the government while Black Panther gets off scot-free because he's the King of Wakanda.
- Downplayed in From Paris with Love. Reese has to get agent Charlie Wax past French customs, but Wax refuses to do so without several cans of energy drinks he's trying to smuggle into France (which actually contain the disassembled pieces of his favorite handgun). Charlie suggests bribing the customs officer, but Reese compromises by simply slapping a "diplomatic mail" sticker on the bag.
- Discworld's The Fifth Elephant:
- Vimes and his party have diplomatic immunity when visiting Überwald. His willingness to assert that immunity in the face of people with sharp weapons is used by a local power to test his resolve. (It doesn't prevent him from being arrested when he later breaks a law that may be silly from our point of view but is very important in Dwarf culture.)
- The "embassy as sanctuary" trope gets inverted, when Vimes considers a break-in at the Morporkian embassy to be committing a crime in Ankh-Morpork, which means he finally gets to act like a watchman instead of a diplomat - he cites the Disc equivalent of the Hot Pursuit doctrine, which in real life permits Police officers certain exigent-circumstance exemptions to warrant requirements and even jurisdictional problems while actively chasing a suspect.
- Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga:
- One of the books is actually called Diplomatic Immunity. There's a double meaning in there, too.
- Miles and Mark both have real, and apparently legally effective (though details are unclear), diplomatic immunity, being the sons of the Prime Minister of Barrayar (formerly Regent, later Viceroy of Sergyar), who is also a Count in his own right (and therefore a minor head of state) as well as the arguablenote successor to the Emperor. Miles uses a combination of his immunity and Barrayar's fealty laws to help someone out in The Warrior's Apprentice, while Mark is protected from potential arrest and extradition in A Civil Campaign (to a point — foreign governments can legally arrest him for murder, should he commit one).
- Miles also presumably has immunity in his own right once he's appointed Imperial Auditor, being, effectively, hatchet man for the Emperor with full Imperial authority.
- Also, in A Civil Campaign, we learn that statements such as "I want to arrest a Vorkosigan" have the effect of producing "the most damn-all stone wall obtuseness from every Barrayaran clerk, secretary, embassy officer and bureaucrat." And that a Count's official residence in the capital is effectively his district's embassy, adding another layer of legal complications to anyone trying to do something to key retainers of a Count.
- In Anne McCaffrey's novel Pegasus in Flight, the villain is part of an ambassador's family, and claims diplomatic immunity when the police try to arrest him. The ambassador, on hearing what he's been up to (child trafficking), chews him out and then tells the police to go ahead and arrest him.
- In Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small series, the jerkass squire Joren of Stone Mountain takes full advantage of the legal privileges of nobility and confesses in court to having paid two thugs to kidnap Keladry's maid Lalasa, have her tied up and left at the top of the Needle, a thin tower (with no safety railings). The Magistrate is quite pissed and lays every single fine he can think of, which is enough to bankrupt a regular family. Joren, however, is filthy rich even by the standards of nobility and he knows that since he didn't perform the physical crime and the victim is a commoner he can't be jailed.
- In The Da Vinci Code, the main character is told to flee the Parisian police by fleeing to the US embassy so he can have a chance of a fair trial, rather than being the scapegoat for the museum curator's murder.
- In the Nero Wolfe short story "Immune to Murder" (also one of the episodes in the TV series) the murderer is this.
- A short story by Robert Sheckley is called "Diplomatic Immunity". It takes the concept rather more literally than usual.
- In the Alex Cross novel Pop Goes the Weasel, Geoffrey Shafer is a British diplomat who (and ex-Special Forces assassin) abuses this to get away with murder. Although his government eventually waives the immunity and allows him to be put on trial, his assertion of the immunity during his arrest leads to the most damning evidence being suppressed, and he is acquitted.
- Invoked in The Lord of the Rings, when the Mouth of Sauron comes to bring Frodo's vest to Gandalf. He explicitly states that "I am an herald and ambassador and may not be assailed!" when he feels that the atmosphere is getting a bit hostile. Gandalf pointedly informs him that where such laws hold true it's customary to behave more politely, which does lead to him dialling back the insults a bit. Of course, in The Film of the Book, the Mouth does not assert this, and Aragorn promptly lops the guy's head off when he's said his piece.
- Pops up in a Hoka story aptly named Undiplomatic Immunity. Yes, the Hokas are ambassadors. No, they are not allowed to wiretap the Plenipotentiary's quarters. And put that codebook away, for the last time, there is no Section X!
- Spies operating under diplomatic cover appear regularly in Tom Clancy's novels. Those spies who don't have a diplomatic cover tend to forward their information to those who do, who can then transport that information back to their home country in a diplomatic bag (which cannot be searched by customs agents). In the Jack Ryan universe, there's actually only two books that has the good-guy spies operating under official cover (The Cardinal of the Kremlin and Red Rabbit, and in both cases it's the same characters). In all the other books, while official spies do occasionally show up on the bad-guy side, the good guys are always operating under a non-official cover, and the books tend to go to great lengths to show a) how hard their life is, and b) how much easier it would be if they could just go to their embassy sometimes, and not have to worry about getting arrested and killed.
- Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: The first book Weekend Warriors plays this straight by having Myra's daughter Barbara killed by a drunk hit-and-run driver who could not be charged due to him having diplomatic immunity. The book Vendetta reveals the driver's name to be John Chai, the son of the Chinese ambassador to the USA Chai Ming. John is apparently quite the playboy and his father tries to keep him penned in to protect the family's honour and reputation. Apparently, John has not gone back to the USA because he knows that he will be arrested and charged for his crime. The Vigilantes had to sneak into China, get John to go somewhere away from security, kidnap him, skin him alive, drop him off to England for treatment and then dump him back in China.
- Invoked in The Supernaturalist. Stephen is on the verge of getting arrested by the local authorities and claims to have diplomatic immunity. The officers don't buy it and demand to "see some diplomatic identification", at which point Stephen throws them a blank plastic card. The whole thing was just a diversion to slow the officers down while his team took them out. It also creates a small amount of confusion for them since the near future setting has it that diplomatic immunity is largely obsolete, and the relevence of asserting it is vaguely defined.
- In Frederick Forsyth's book Fist of God, the main character is being sent into Baghdad during the first Gulf War to gather intelligence from an asset there. Because of the danger to him if he is caught by the AMAM (the Iraqi version of the KGB), he requests that he be attached to a diplomatic household to help protect him if he is caught. Several of his other books portray spies as using diplomat immunity to avoid serious danger to themselves.
- Lisa Shearin's Raine Benares novels feature numerous counts of people with diplomatic status using that status to prevent themselves from being prosecuted for various crimes, usually murder, kidnapping, and extortion. Given that the authorities of the good guys know exactly who's doing what, and usually have witnesses/evidence to the fact, you'd think that they'd declare the people in question Persona Non Grata and throw them out of the city, but the notion never even comes up.
- The Godfather discusses Al Neri's background as an NYPD policeman before joining the Corleone Family. Neri gained considerable notoriety for smashing the windshields of UN diplomats who used "diplomatic immunity" as an excuse for parking wherever they wanted.
- In The Dresden Files book Cold Days, mortal warlock Molly Carpenter is wanted by the White Council for her crimes of using black magic to kill and altering people's minds. The sentence is death. But at the end of the book, by machinations of Queen Mab, the Winter Queen and Queen of Air and Darkness, Molly becomes the youngest Winter Queen, no longer a mortal thus no longer applicable to mortal wizarding laws. The White Council risks starting a war with Queen Mab if they try any underhanded means of getting Molly, and only if Queen Mab herself agrees to give her over under the Unseelie Accords (the supernatural version of the Vienna Convention among other things) can the council touch her. And Mab will not let that happen. Harry notes that it is a solution, but also points out that it's not a good solution for anyone but Mab.
- The gist of the bad guys' Evil Plan in DoubleShot is having James Bond's doppelganger present in the meeting between British and Spanish officials about Gibraltar under the Spanish diplomatic immunity, and shoot the local governor and the British prime minister.
- In H. Beam Piper's "He Walked Around the Horses", even though they are pretty sure he's a fake (when he's actually from an alternate universe), the Prussian government official writing to Britain about their prisoner is very delicate about his claims of diplomatic immunity.
Please to understand that it is not, and never was, any part of the intentions of the government of His Majesty Friedrich Wilhelm III to offer any injury or indignity to the government of His Britannic Majesty George III. We would never contemplate holding in arrest the person, or tampering with the papers, of an accredited envoy of your government. However, we have the gravest doubt, to make a considerable understatement, that this person who calls himself Benjamin Bathurst is any such envoy, and we do not think that it would be any service to the government of His Britannic Majesty to allow an impostor to travel about Europe in the guise of a British diplomatic representative. We certainly should not thank the government of His Britannic Majesty for failing to take steps to deal with some person who, in England, might falsely represent himself to be a Prussian diplomat.
- In the Star Wars Legends reference work "The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels" the pages on the book regarding Princess Leia's ship, the Tantive IV state that before the vessel was captured by the Empire in A New Hope the ship had diplomatic immunity which largely protected her from increasingly aggressive Imperial captains who harassed any vessels suspected of having the slightest connection to the Rebellion.
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The Handler of The Mole inside British Intelligence is a cultural attache in the Soviet embassy, so as part of a standard spiel when meeting an agent, starts off by asking him if he wants to pass over any top secret documents he's carrying, so if they're raided then the spy can't be charged with their possession while the attache is covered by diplomatic immunity.
- Played with in The Arts of Dark and Light. In Amorr, Ambassador Silvertree has special dispensation from the Pope to work magic, which is otherwise forbidden in the country on pain of death, and the embassy is ordinarily inviolate... but hiding fugitives there (even fugitives not actually accused of any official crime) brings in the Order of St. Michael.
- Forest Kingdom: In the Hawk & Fisher spinoff series' book 5 (Guard Against Dishonor), during the peace talks between Outremer and the Low Kingdoms, one of the delegates is revealed to be the lead villain of the book; after being exposed, he claims his diplomatic immunity will protect him from anything. He's wrong, seeing as one of his own countrymen murders him via slipping him a dose of his own super-chacal drug so he'll tear himself apart in his cell.
- Modern Villainess: It's Not Easy Building a Corporate Empire Before the Crash has a variant. Noble families in Japan are immune from prosecution, so Runa plans to use the Kekain Dukedom's status to avoid trouble if the Ministry of Finance or the tax bureau comes knocking. However, she still tries to keep her dealings as legal as possible (given the fact that it's high finance, breaking the law at several points is inevitable).
- In the Tommy and Tuppence story "The Ambassador's Boots", the eponymous ambassador is baffled as to why someone on an ocean liner would stage an elaborate Satchel Switcheroo to temporarily get hold of a bag containing his boots. Tommy realises it's the other way round; they wanted the other bag to be in the ambassador's possession when they went through customs.
- In Yes, Prime Minister, the French plan to use diplomatic immunity and embassy extraterritoriality to smuggle a dog, intended as a presidential gift for the Queen, into Britain - part of a scheme to embarrass the British with the help of quarantine regulations (and thus gain the upper hand in Channel Tunnel negotiations). This sneakiness ends up backfiring on them; having been denied the right to have their own police guard their diplomats, they've smuggled in explosives to try and embarrass the British police as well — unfortunately for them, they get caught, and the British police are allowed to arrest them for that.
- Similarly, in Yes, Minister, the British delegation, including Jim, Sir Humphrey, and Bernard, attempt to use this dodge to smuggle alcohol into a Middle Eastern country that is dry. They've conspired to have set up a "diplomatic communications center" in the building where a reception is going on. The "center" is stocked with hidden bottles, and every so often, the guys are called into the room due to messages from "Mr. Walker" or "Mr. Haig" note .
- In the "Exposed" episode of Smallville, Chloe and Lois investigate a case in which girls working at a Metropolis strip joint are disappearing. When the criminal is finally exposed, the Metropolis PD cannot arrest him because of this trope. It's subverted near the end when Chloe tips off INTERPOL and they arrest him. Surprisingly, keeping girls as slaves in your own country isn't covered by diplomatic immunity. Even before that, when the officer says diplomatic immunity means they can't touch him, Lois says "Well, I can," and slugs him.
- The Commish
- In "Sleep of the Just", a rapist was a diplomat. At one stage the police decide to harass him by ticketing for obscure and long-obsolete violations of the law, like sneezing in public (it frightens the horses).
- In a more comically portrayed example, Commissioner Scali has a Cuban diplomat locked up for slapping one of his officers, then Scali (while demonstrating how he slapped said officer). When Scali subsequently needs a favour from the State Department they're not happy with him, as the Cubans have cut off the water supply to Guantanamo Bay until their 'political prisoner' is released.
- NUMB3RS: This is briefly suggested as something Chinese spy Dwayne Carter might try, but Sinclair points out that they have the consulate under surveillance; since Carter isn't a diplomat himself, he'd be fair game as long as they got him before he was inside. As it turns out, Carter plans to exploit international shipping laws instead.
- The heroine of The Blacklist has been framed as a Russian Sleeper Agent responsible for, among other crimes, the bombing of a CIA building. To escape arrest by the compromised law enforcement, she runs into the Russian Embassy seeking sanctuary. Her FBI colleagues pursue her to the gate, and have to be reminded they cannot march into what is essentially foreign soil.
- This has shown up at least once each on Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In both cases, it eventually failed, but it did serve as a significant roadblock.
Schiff: (to Ross) You make one heck of a meter maid...
- In one episode of L&O, a diplomat who refused to turn over records to the D.A.'s Office had his car towed. He protested that he had immunity from all parking fines. Jamie Ross argued that while that may be true, they could tow his car for illegal parking at every occurrence, and would until he cooperated. Presumably giving up the evidence was less hassle than finding a legal parking spot (this is a real issue with diplomats at the UN in New York City-while they can't get fined over illegal parking, cars are towed over it, diplomatic plates or not).
- Another time a defendant who was employed by the Nigerian embassy, and thus enjoyed diplomatic immunity, tried to use it to get out of his involvement in a drug smuggling ring. His embassy revoked it, but then reinstated it halfway though the trial, allowing him to flee back to his native land. When a furious Ben Stone demands an explanation, he's informed that the man will be tried in a Nigerian court for his crimes, where the penalties for drug smuggling are even tougher than in the U.S. (death by hanging, it was said) and his conviction is all-but-assured thanks to the evidence the Manhattan prosecutors had on him. Stone is still displeased at having been a pawn in the affair, but lets the matter drop relatively quietly.
- In the SVU episode "Honor," a woman has been found dead, and it became clear that it was an honor-killing committed by her Knight Templar Big Brother. Problem is, their dad's a big-time political figure, so his entire family has diplomatic immunity. The caveat is that the brother's immunity expired on his 21st birthday. Unfortunately, this whole mess results in the diplomat's wife, who finally stood up to him and testified against her son, also getting killed by her husband, who had already fled back to his home country by the time the detectives discovered the body.
- Another SVU episode, "Parasites", had the DA's office managing to get immunity rescinded when the detectives found overwhelming evidence that he had murdered a woman.
- The L&O mothership episode "Rapture" had a man using the tensions between Iran, Israel, and the United States to embezzle from charities and their donors. He tried to claim diplomatic immunity with the Iranian embassy by claiming he was a victim of a Zionist conspiracy. The detectives turned this back on him by making it look like he was part of the conspiracy, causing the government to revoke the immunity and kick him out of the embassy (specifically, the car meant to take him to the airport), where he was promptly arrested by the detectives.
- One episode had a Russian national flee into a Russian consulate to avoid prosecution (over human trafficking). The Russians gave him up when the DAs gave them another Russian criminal for trial in the motherland. The head of the security detail cheerfully comments on the Prisoner Exchange: "Like the old days at Checkpoint Charlie."
- CSI: Miami had a Victim of the Week who was killed by the sons of an ambassador (who had also been using his immunity to smuggle blood diamonds to prove he was evil). They trap one of them in international waters by some ludicrously overcomplicated scheme. The ambassador retracts immunity from the other when the CSIs discover he isn't the diplomat's biological son.
- Used twice on Barney Miller.
- In one episode the diplomat in question had a slave. (Or rather, he claimed immunity for the charges against him, but when accused practicing slavery, he claimed to have no idea what they were talking about, even though it clearly seemed to be debt slavery.)
- In another episode Wojo arrests a man for trying to kidnap another man (Wojo saw him trying to force the second man into a car), only to be told that the man arrested is a Soviet diplomat attempting to stop another Russian from defecting. Capt. Miller is forced to let the would-be kidnapper loose.
- One episode of The Practice dealt with a man who shot and killed his adulterous wife and her long-term lover. Eventually his lawyers find out that he's the son of a Croatian diplomat and therefore has immunity. Deconstructed in that, while the judge does resentfully dismiss the case, the murderer is immediately escorted out of the courthouse by Federal agents and put on the first plane to Croatia.
- One episode of Nash Bridges showed Nash and Joe taking a surprisingly logical approach to a criminal British diplomat. They called the Home Office in London, presented their evidence, and got the man fired. Not immune to anything then.
- In an episode of MacGyver (1985), a murderer and jewel thief has diplomatic immunity as a cultural attaché. Mac and his team prove said attaché's criminality to the ambassador, who insists the attaché be returned to their home country to stand trial. The attaché pleads unsuccessfully to be allowed to face American justice instead.
- The West Wing:
- An arc spanning the last three episodes of Season 3 uses this as a central plot device: A foreign country's defense minister is discovered using his Diplomatic Impunity to be a terrorism kingpin on the side. Since his own government cannot be relied on to prosecute him, President Bartlet and his advisers consider illegally assassinating him. They eventually go through with it, and the consequences are felt for two straight seasons.
- The trope is used more humorously in a different episode, when the UN Secretary-General tries to get ahold of the President all day, and Charlie (per Leo's orders) tries to keep Bartlet from getting involved. The reason? The Secretary-General's upset because diplomats are being given parking tickets and having their vehicles towed for parking in no-parking zones. When Bartlet finally hears about it, he flips out:
Bartlet: [stabs button on phone] THERE ARE BIG SIGNS, YOU CAN'T PARK THERE! They should get towed! I hope they get towed to Queens, and the Triborough is closed, and there's a big craft show at Shea, a flea market or a tractor show! [hangs up]
Charlie: Well, that was probably his secretary.
Bartlet: Damn it!
Charlie: You can bet she'll be parking it in a garage, though.
- In season four Zoey Bartlet starts dating a French aristocrat who slips ecstasy (which he doesn't realise is actually GHB) in her drink at a club, unwittingly helping in a plan to kidnap the First Daughter. The boyfriend refuses to answer questions, or name the dealer that supplied the drugs, unless he gets diplomatic immunity.
- In one episode, the murderer is covered by diplomatic immunity. The lab crew comes up with a scheme to get around it, but Booth shuts them down, on the grounds that the standard of diplomatic immunity is too important to be damaged. It's then subverted by the fact that the immunity only applies to foreign prosecution — they can still hand the evidence over to the murderer's own government and let them try the case. Unfortunately for the diplomat in question, individuals don't have the authority to waive their own immunity short of defecting. In addition, Booth's original plan to have the diplomat's son declared persona non grata wouldn't have let him prosecute, either — at best it would have gotten him recalled to his home country.
- In another episode, it also turns out that the perpetrator is supposedly covered by diplomatic immunity due to being Egyptian, yet there's no mention of him actually being a diplomat. Somehow, all Egyptian tourists are diplomats, to judge by the episode's logic.
- Though in this case, they don't really cite that it's diplomatic immunity. He's a super computer hacker who managed to erase all traces of his identity and create himself a new one, which happened to be an Egyptian citizen. The implication might have been that he'd simply tricked the system into thinking he was a victim of mistaken identity, which prompted the Egyptian government to try to protect one of their citizens from foreign harassment. They don't really specify. Caroline just says "He's an Egyptian citizen and we can't touch him."
- In the pilot for Nurse Jackie, Jackie treats a diplomat who had his ear severed while attacking a prostitute. He couldn't be charged, so Jackie flushed the ear down a toilet.
- An episode of The Bill went into this in detail, with an "Eastern European" (possibly Ruritanian) diplomat resisting arrest for assaulting a prostitute. The police discovered steadily more heinous crimes that the diplomat was involved in, such that the embassy was forced to hand him over for prosecution; and as usual they found the body of a murdered prostitute in his back garden seconds before he was due to leave for the airport, having been dismissed from the service for the original assault. At the climax of the episode, the officer involved on the case was promoted to deal with the Foreign and Commonwealth office in matters such as this.
- Has popped up at least twice in Castle:
- Played fairly straight in "The Fifth Bullet", wherein one of the persons of interest in a murder investigation is a UN diplomat from Bahrain who, although not actually involved in anything strictly illegal, did knowingly purchase forged copies of various paintings, is uncooperative. He's about to pull the 'I'm leaving the country and you'll never see me again' trick when Beckett arrests his driver for double-parking, which enables her to both detain him and search his car (which is from a car service, not a diplomatic service, and as such isn't covered under the immunity).
- Subverted in "Suicide Squeeze", which involves the Cuban consulate in New York. A murder suspect tries hiding out there, but Beckett bluntly informs the head guy that a consulate is not an embassy and as such isn't covered by immunity in these situations; unless she's turned over, there's nothing stopping the police from entering the consulate legally as they would any other similar situation. Since holding her wouldn't reflect well on the Cuban government, she's turned over.
- This, however, is incorrect, as consulates are just as inviolable as embassies so they really couldn't have done anything about it.
- An episode of CHiPs had the CHP faced with the son of a diplomat who routinely sped/drove recklessly knowing that he couldn't be arrested for it. They eventually get him to stop by taking him to view the wreckage of a high-speed car accident that killed a young child.
- An episode of Las Vegas plays it utterly straight when a Syrian diplomat steals a 90 million dollar Egyptian mummy that was on display at the Montecito casino. When Ed shows up trying to stop the guy before he boards his private plane the cops just let him go on with his business by citing his personal immunity, in spite of the fact that letting a foreigner steal a national treasure would undoubtedly lead to an international incident with Egypt (which unlike Syria, has been a major US ally since 1989). However, the guy who stole the treasure was a selfish dick who simply did not give a crap who wanted it for his private collection, Deline didn't have any legally obtained, actionable evidence of the crime, and Team Montecito had already stolen it back.
- White Collar, "What Happens in Burma": The Burmese embassy not only commits parking violations with reckless abandon, they steal a hard drive containing video footage of a rebel camp and try to smuggle it back to Burma in a diplomatic pouch. However, Peter turns the letter of the law against them by using the unpaid parking tickets to stall the ambassador at a crucial moment, enabling the FBI to (more or less legally) retrieve the hard drive when the ambassador's secretary is tricked into dumping out the pouch. Specifically, Peter presents the diplomat with all the parking tickets and asks him about every single one, citing the need to close each individual case.
- Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye: In "Diplomatic Immunity", a crooked Sudanese diplomat uses his status to hide his role in slave trafficking. Diplomatic immunity even goes so far as to protect him from legal consequences when three FBI agents (among other people on the street) see him beating a woman in broad daylight and Bobby pulls him off the woman. The diplomat gets away with it, and the State Department makes Bobby apologize for the "misunderstanding".
- Psych: While investigating a murder that took place at a British embassy, Shawn thinks being employed by the ambassador means he can use diplomatic immunity to get away with anything (mostly parking violations and littering), but finds out that it doesn't work that way. The Lethal Weapon 2 example is specifically mentioned. Several other try to invoke immunity over suspects of murder which are likewise pointless.
- Forever Knight had a diplomat protecting his son by dumping the kid's victims for him. There was worry that Nick, who kept pressing things, would get himself in trouble and into a possible sunrise execution, not good for a vampire. But the son lost his own immunity when they found he was employed under false pretenses at the consulate.
- Highlander had an immortal whose girlfriend was killed by the son of a diplomat friend of Duncan's. The immortal wanted justice,and ultimately killed the father thinking he did it. The son couldn't be prosecuted due to his immunity, and despite Duncan's attempts to get the kid to turn himself in voluntarily, the kid refused. Duncan did protect him by telling the other immortal that he'd keep his head as long as the kid stayed alive.
- Highlander: The Raven: a spy is unable to be arrested because she is a diplomat. However, the US government liaison says that she is returning to an ex-Iron Curtain nation in failure and will certainly face the firing squad. By failing to steal the blueprints, getting exposed, and spending 5 million dollars for bribe money; she has nothing to bargain with and her superiors will use her as an example during her Kangaroo Court.
- A suspect in a murder is a diplomat in the NCIS episode "Untouchable".
- In another episode, the daughter of a foreign diplomat orchestrates her own kidnapping in order to derail a treaty signing, and one of her "kidnappers" gets killed. After she's found, she's sent back home without facing charges, courtesy of diplomatic immunity.
- "On Fire" has a rich Russian jerk who severely injures Torres in a hit-and-run. It turns out that he has left a trail of suffering behind him and gotten away with it because he (supposedly) has royal ancestry, so the Russian government allows him to claim "sovereign immunity". By the end of the episode, however, his immunity gets revoked via Boom, Headshot!.
- Some retired veterans go up against drug dealers covered by diplomatic immunity in the episode "Yesterday's Heroes".
- Sudansese Ambassador Moshak in the fourth season episode "Embassy" even says You'd be surprised by the multitude of sins one can hide in a diplomatic pouch. One of the many advantages of being the Ambassador.
- In Cagney & Lacey, a close friend of a diplomat committed a hit-and-run on a guy, and ran to the mission. Cagney & Lacey have a warrant for his arrest, but even though he doesn't have immunity, since he is within the diplomatic mission, the Charge dAffairs informs them that they are within their rights to refuse. He reminds them how their own country was horribly upset when the government of Iran didn't respect the sovereignty of their embassy in Tehran. He sneaks out of the mission once (which means he's now fair game) and they almost catch him, but he's able to sneak back in. The two discover that to get rid of a diplomatic incident the United States is going to waive prosecution on the guy. Before he finds out, the two go see him on the mission grounds and make a deal with him: if he'll pay the guy's medical expenses and lost wages, and make a donation to a charity, they'll not prosecute. (The interesting thing is that it was just an accident, if he hadn't panicked and ran, that's probably all that would have happened, his insurance would have had to pay the costs.)
- Midsomer Murders had an episode where the unsearchable diplomat's bag was a minor but important plot point. The alumni of a college tended to get diplomatic jobs, using them to smuggle archaeological and historical artifacts back to England from the countries they were sent to, which were then sold on the black market to keep the college funded.
- The Hunter episode "Rape & Revenge" had DeeDee McCall being raped by a South American diplomat who claimed immunity when Hunter tried to arrest him—and shot Hunter just to twist the knife further.
- Obviously, since this is Hunter we're talking about, he traveled to the guys' home country and killed him, and surprisingly, didn't get punished for it by the State Department.
- The X-Files on at least two occasions. In "Nisei" Mulder and Scully arrest a Japanese consular official after he attacks Mulder while fleeing a crime scene, but is released at A.D. Skinner's order through "diplomatic immunity." The sixth season episode "S.R. 819" repeats this scenario almost verbatim with a Tunisian "diplomat." Justified in-universe as both men implicitly have Syndicate connections.
- An episode of Night Court put a twist on it. The diplomat in question claimed immunity, but didn't like the idea of leaving America, something he'd have to do to keep getting away with it. (America clearly had more creature comforts.) Eventually, he paid the fines he owed out of faux compassion.
- In Benson there was an episode with a wealthy Arabian prince who used his status to pretty much get away with everything, including purposely wrecking Benson's car after they had an argument. Benson decided to teach him a lesson by making him the victim of such vandalism, by convincing Clayton to pose as another diplomat and destroy a work of art the guy owned. (The prince was so impressed by Benson's cleverness, he offered to buy him two new cars.)
- An episode of The Good Wife involved a brutal rape/murder where the top two suspects were the sons of diplomats. The DA's office determined that while the son of a Dutch diplomat could not be prosecuted due to diplomatic immunity, the other one was Taiwanese, therefore not from a recognized country and did not have it. The protagonist then defended the son of the Taiwanese diplomat trying to prove the immune Dutchman was responsible. But it turns out he was guilty after all.
- In one The District episode, a diplomat's son was using a diplomatic bag from his father's embassy to smuggle drugs. The son himself was covered by diplomatic immunity because he was going to college at the time, requiring Mannion to go to the university's Dean to get him kicked out of school before they could arrest the drug-running son.
- A positive example in M*A*S*H. A Hollander's mother was facing deportation from the US, and he could not afford to travel from Holland. A Holland diplomat hired the woman as a secretary, giving her diplomatic immunity.
- This is a case of right idea, wrong words: the limited diplomatic immunity that service staff gets would not protect her from being deported (even people with full diplomatic immunity can be deported after being declared persona non grata), but being issued a service passport would change her immigration status, so if she was being deported for overstaying her visa, it would take care of the core problem anyway.
- Crossing Lines dealt with this in the pilot. The serial killer was a member of the US diplomatic corps.
- Defied on Unforgettable. A foreign diplomat is arrested for murder and invokes diplomatic immunity. The deputy mayor overseeing the investigation immediately goes to that country's ambassador and points out that the goodwill of the United States in general and of the NYPD in particular is worth more than trying to protect a corrupt diplomat who committed a murder for personal reasons. The ambassador agrees and promptly waives the diplomat's immunity on behalf of his country.
- The Adventures of Shirley Holmes: Robert Holmes was once accused of abusing his diplomatic status to sell information to another country. In another episode, it was believed he was harboring a suspected murderer (a woman who turned out to be innocent). The police officer interrogating him acknowledged he couldn't arrest Holmes but warned he could lose his job over that. That risk was quite real.
- A particularly egregious case from NYPD Blue: a Japanese diplomat is bribed to sign a statement where he admits to the murder of a call girl, and then leaves the country. This admission is taken at face value by the FBI and the top brass of the NYPD (but not by Sgt. Sipowicz). Even though the police officials have reasons to be happy to close the case, nobody even has a thought of requesting the help of the Japanese authorities to remove his diplomatic immunity, or even have him interrogated by Japanese police. This is extremely glaring for a show that normally tries to give a realistic view of police work - but it occurs in the very last episode of the last season, when the writers apparently had given up even trying.
- A first-season episode of Madam Secretary revolves around the Washington police discovering that an official from the Bahraini embassy has basically imprisoned his Indonesian housekeeper in his basement. It's in a legal gray area initially—because of the official's rank it's unclear whether the incident is covered—but then the Bahraini government promotes him to a level that has full diplomatic immunity and gets him out of the country. Elizabeth tries to get him extradited via her being old friends with the crown prince, that doesn't work, and then the prince announces the official will be tried in Bahrain... and is promptly assassinated on live TV.
- Blue Bloods: In "The One That Got Away" Danny and Baez are frustrated at being unable to press charges against a Moroccan diplomat for abusing his son. Erin manages to get his son removed from him into foster care though. Near the end, he is Hoist by His Own Petard after his wife (who he also abused) guns him down in broad daylight. Since she also has diplomatic immunity, they have to let her go.
- There's an episode of Scandal where Olivia realizes a murdered college student was last seen with a diplomat from the fictional country of Kurkistan. The young woman's parents start a protest to try to get President Grant to revoke his diplomatic immunity, but the best he is able to do is to have the man deported. However, Huck takes matters into his own hands.
- Manimal: One of the villain of the week has diplomatic immunity — until the end of the episode, where Jonathan Chase turns into a black panther to terrify him. He pleads for Brooke to arrest him, but she retorts she can't, since she has to respect his immunity. A few more threatening growls from the panther, and the villain asks for his immunity to be waived.
- Columbo had an episode in which a high-ranking official of a foreign consulate murdered a member of his staff, then used diplomatic immunity to thwart Columbo's investigation. It ultimately backfired when his government was informed of the murder, as the punishment he would face back home would be much harsher than in the United States.
- One episode of Criminal Minds had a priest suspected of performing deadly exorcisms (of the Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane variety), which was tough enough for the team to prove in the first place. Then it transpires that he's in the country on a mission from the Vatican (not the exorcisms, just missionary work that he'd used as an excuse to travel to America and perform them), so he has diplomatic immunity. The resolution boils down to informing the Vatican what he's suspected of, which causes them to recall him. The implication is that he won't ever face justice for what he's done, but since he was motivated by revenge against three particular people, he's now unable to carry out the final murder.
- Murdoch Mysteries had an episode where the "Ass" in Ambassador American ambassador to Canada staged a False Flag Operation to provoke a war between the U.S. and Canada. The Toronto police originally couldn't arrest him due to his diplomatic status, but they passed their evidence on to the Canadian Prime Minister. The Prime Minister then passed the information on to the U.S. President, who revoked the diplomat's immunity and allowed the police to arrest him.
- Night Man subverts this in one episode when the cops actually arrest a Chinese diplomat who'd been smuggling stolen documents even after he pointed out his diplomatic credentials. He still gets away with it because Nightman had already destroyed the documents.
- A regular part of Diplomatic Immunity, funnily enough. The Fe'ausian mission takes advantage of diplomatic immunity, usually in the form of low-level scams to make an extra bit of cash while squeezing as much foreign aid as they can out of the New Zealand government.
- The Practice: In "The Lonely People" a murder defendant is freed because he has diplomatic immunity as a result of his father being a Croatian diplomat. However, it comes with the caveat that he must go to Croatia, a country which he's never been in since he was three years old.
- The Professionals
- In "Discovered in a Graveyard", a young female radical who has shot several CI5 officers (including Doyle) and assassinated a former regime official calls her embassy for help because she's wounded. She gets picked up by men driving a limo with CD plates, who claim diplomatic immunity when a couple of policeman investigate why two men are manhandling a bloodstained woman (which ignores the fact that she doesn't have immunity). Even Bodie doesn't try forcing his way onto the embassy grounds to avenge his partner. Ironically the woman then gets dumped outside the embassy door for Bodie to collect. The embassy staff explain that she is dying anyway, and will now become a martyr for their cause, but by handing her over they avoid a diplomatic incident and allow the British government to brush the matter under the carpet.
- In "First Night", CI5 are investigating the kidnapping of an Israeli diplomat. The Israelis want in on the investigation so try shadowing Cowley to find out what he knows.
Cowley: Oh, those were your people trying to follow me.Israeli ambassador: Oh, yes. But they were intercepted by a police patrol and told—most politely—that they were exceeding the speed limit.Minister: Even with diplomatic plates, one is expected to conform with the laws of the land.
- In "The Untouchables", an Arab 'cultural attaché' is assassinating Former Regime Personnel who've taken sanctuary in Britain. It's played realistically in that the British government could extradite him if only they had proof he was committing the crimes. Instead they get George Cowley to deal with him, and it would have been a lot more merciful if they had just given him the boot.
- In "A Hiding to Nothing", CI5 arrest a supposed Spanish journalist for spying. He turns out to be another 'cultural attaché' (this time at the Israeli embassy) and claims diplomatic immunity.
- In "Hijack", a corrupt Soviet official is caught red-handed loading the boot of his car with stolen silver ingots. When he tries to claim this trope, Cowley informs him the Soviet ambassador is on his way there, and you can't claim immunity when you've stolen from your own country. CI5 end up handing him over to the KGB to be taken back to Moscow (and presumably Siberia).
- The Judge: A man is being prosecuted on the charge of repeated horrific abuse of his son. He claims that since he's with his country's embassy, he's immune from such prosecution. Once the case is proven beyond a reasonable doubt to the judge, including the boy testifying via live TV camera feed from his hospital bed, Judge Franklin introduces the father to the reality that diplomatic immunity is not a get out of jail free panacea.
- In an episode of The Goon Show ("The Case of the Missing CD Plates"), the steamroller which runs down Neddie Seagoon has CD (Corps Diplomatique) plates, preventing him from suing for injury. He is then tricked into screwing CD plates onto a piano that struck him on the head, so that the villains who dropped it on him can claim diplomatic immunity.
- The Doctor gets to confer this while he's forced to perform his duties as President of Gallifrey in Time In Office. He confers diplomatic immunity on Tegan Jovanka by making her EARTH AMBASSADOR TO GALLIFREY! Granted, he did that mostly so that the Time Lords couldn't mind wipe her and deport her back to Heathrow, 1981, but he seemed to take something of a perverse satisfaction in watching Tegan put the "Ass" in Ambassador with the Time Lords not being able to do thing one about it.
- d20 Modern: The Ambassador Prestige Class of the D20 Future spinoff book has the "Diplomatic Immunity" class feature, which grants the player character and a small entourage the capacity to dodge being arrested for crimes with a high enough Charisma roll from the ambassador. The roll becomes much more difficult the more grave the crime is (and whether or not the characters have been caught doing it repeatedly) and like all other rules, the Game Master has the last word.
- The trope name is also the name of a Munchkin spinoff; of course, since all the players are Munchkins, they're going to abuse any immunity they can get. The Ambassador class, introduced Star Munchkin 3: Diplomatic Impunity, can use its Diplomatic Impunity class feature to escape any traps your friends have sprung on you, and can also commandeer other ships.
- Poppy, before she was reworked into the Keeper of the Hammer, was originally called The Iron Ambassador in League of Legends, representing her then at the time role as an Ambadassador for Demacia (before a massive lore re-work happened for all of the game). Her ultimate at the time was even called "Diplomatic Immunity", where only the target of the ability could damage or use abilities on her for the duration; making the "Immunity" part literal. Her current passive is still called 'The Iron Ambassador', but she no longer has the immunity ult.
- Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth has Ambassador Quercus Alba, the head of an international smuggling ring. This trope has a GIANT impact, considering that you have to prove people guilty with nothing BUT the law. The trope is doubled up, because not only does the person have diplomatic immunity, he is also claiming that the crime was committed inside the embassy, which means that the investigation still would have to take place in a different country. After many rounds of accusationsnote , Edgeworth finally gets him when an Interpol agent gets his home country to remove him from his position as ambassador (complete with a Lethal Weapon 2 Shout-Out) and Edgey (eventually) proves that he committed murder on Japanese/U.S. territory.
- The Great Ace Attorney:
- The game employs a more grounded example in its first case through the use of historical consular courts. While Jezaille Brett does get arrested and tried for murder, extraterritorial rights prescribed by Anglo-Japanese treaties required her to be tried by the Shanghai British Supreme Court rather than a Japanese one. And since key Japanese witnesses can't come to testify and the murder in question was an assassination ordered by Britain's Lord Chief Justice, Jezaille is all but guaranteed to have the charges against her dropped.
- As the game continues, Ryunosuke discovers that a major conspiracy had attempted to get an assassin with diplomatic immunity into Britain, but Ryunosuke inadvertently foiled it before he even set foot on English soil. The "exchange student" program his friend signed up for (and invited him along) was actually the cover for the plot, and his friend was the assassin. However, said friend tripped and brained himself en route, resulting in Ryunosuke stepping up in his place at the last minute. Now Ryunosuke was the law student with extraterritorial protection... and he's no assassin, nor can they send him back without looking very suspicious as he was doing a pretty good job as a lawyer.
- In Mass Effect 3's Show Within a Show, Blasto 6: Partners in Crime, the Big Bad vorcha ambassador repeatedly claims that Blasto can't touch him because of diplomatic immunity. However, Blasto doesn't believe that diplomatic immunity applies if he ignites a flammable surface that ambassador is standing on.
Bubin: Badassfully: But he has diplomatic immunity!Blasto: This one does not intend to use diplomacy.
- You can actually play this trope yourself in Star Wars: The Old Republic if you have a Consular. Flouting local laws is usually, but not always a Dark Side choice.
- There is a cheat in Red Dead Redemption actually called "Diplomatic Immunity" that allows you to do whatever you want without consequences. Considering that this was made by Rockstar Games, you can imagine how that goes.
- Boss Cass in Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2 uses this to kidnap random people in order to build his grand army.
- One of the targets in Hitman (2016) is hiding in the Swedish consulate in Morocco after stealing billions from the government, with the consulate being surrounded by an angry mob of protesters which is what the other target wants so he can declare martial law. Notably, the consulate's staff are disgusted and horrified by the scumbag with the only reason he hasn't been thrown out into the crowd is because he's a Swedish citizen and he bribed the diplomat.
- In Darksiders, agents of The Charred Council have this while on official business between the realms, including their "search and destroy" or assassination missions. An attack on such an individual while on a sanctioned mission can be used as evidence of defiance to the Council's goal of maintaining the Balance Between Good and Evil and can land you in serious trouble (as in, being killed horribly or given a Fate Worse than Death) even if the "attack" constitutes defending yourself from an attack by said agent (which at best just makes you "collateral damage"). Of course, this immunity doesn't apply if the agent isn't on official business but a personal one (such as Death's quest in Darksiders II), or if the Council doesn't particularly care if you die in the process (War's "mission" in the original Darksiders). And then there are cases the person fighting the agent just plain doesn't care.
Watcher: You so much as blink at me, and the Council will end you. Both of you! I'm protected!
Samael: Not in here.
- Defied in Genshin Impact. After the Traveler defeats La Signora in a duel before the Raiden Shogun, the Shogun moves in to execute Signora per the agreement of the duel. Signora tries to use her status as a Snezhnayan diplomat to get the Shogun to stand down, and even threatens that Inazuma will suffer for it. The Shogun executes her anyway.
- Axel from Ansem Retort kills a random passer-by right after being told he has diplomatic immunity. Subverted when Namine lectures him for immediately abusing it; Axel hadn't even heard, he just wanted to kill someone.
- Captain Antilles in Darths & Droids, played by Jim, tries this on Darth Vader.
Darth Vader: Revoked. <CHOKE!>
- Sam Starfall from Freefall once did this to excuse his crimes but gave it up after they hired other diplomats to beat him up.
- Arikos from Last Res0rt used this in his Back Story to get out of masterminding a cult he'd been keeping up for years, including trying to cover up said cult with a mass suicide. He eventually ended up on the show regardless, but that he's not dead already is a testament to the power wielded here.
- In Girls Next Door, Jareth (being the Goblin King) has diplomatic immunity protecting him from getting arrested for his various crimes of stalking and perving on Sarah. He takes enormous pleasure in telling Javert that "You have no power over me!"
- "Book 15: Delegates and Delegation" of Schlock Mercenary has (some of) Tagons Toughs be given Diplomatic Immunity cards to assist in their job of escorting some foreign ambassadors. One of the officers realizes that, by merely handing over one of the appropriate ID cards to Schlock, she is now potentially open to future charges of War Crimes. Although all he usually tries to get up to is avoid tickets for things like jumping off of walkways (not like he'd be hurt if things went wrong anyway). Also:
- In Dimension 20 Fantasy High, Adaine Abernants father is a diplomat of the neighboring elven nation of Fallinel, granting the whole family diplomatic immunity while in Solace. This ends after Fallinel declares war on Solace near the end of season 1.
- Earlier in the season, Adaine's sister attempts to invoke her immunity after being caught kidnapping a girl to further an ancient conspiracy. It's only prevented by some quick thinking from the police, as Adaine saying she feels unsafe around her sister is enough to disqualify her from immunity.
- Avengers Assemble: In "The Ambassador", Doctor Doom delivers a speech at the U.N. as a Latverian diplomat and, thanks to his diplomatic immunity, the Avengers have to protect him instead of arresting him. It turns out he's plotting to steal data from the Avengers and his failed attempt caused him to lose his immunity for breaking international law and he now must stay within the bounds of his own nation to avoid being arrested.
- The fact that the Villain of the Week in and episode of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien is the prince of Zarkovia stops Ben, Gwen, and Kevin from arresting him. Ben gets around this by destroying the mental control device the prince used to subjugate his people, letting them decide their own position in the civil war of Zarkovia.
- One episode of Dilbert involves a trip to Elbonia, where Dogbert has become a diplomat. He first uses it to get a cop to tear up a parking ticket, then eat it and then regurgitate it. Then he gets the cop's gun and clothes and orders him to dance while shooting at his feet. This is just the first thing he does with it. He eventually takes over Elbonia.
- In the Family Guy episode "E. Peterbus Unum", Peter discovers that his property (somehow) isn't legally U.S. soil, so he declares it its own independent country. As President/Ambassador of "Petoria", he claims to have diplomatic immunity, and sings about it to the tune of "U Can't Touch This".
Peter: Ju-ju-ju-ju-just like the bad guy from Lethal Weapon 2,
I've got diplomatic immunity, so Hammer, you can't sue.
I can write graffiti, even jaywalk in the street.
Can riot, loot, not give a hoot, and touch your sister's teat.
Can't touch me.
- The Fantastic Four (1967): In "The Way It All Began", Doctor Doom invokes diplomatic immunity as Latveria's ruler to avoid being arrested upon arriving in New York.
- Fillmore! had a Canadian diplomat's son take advantage of his diplomatic immunity to circulate forged baseball cards. In this case it's actually entirely justified in that rather than claiming actual diplomatic immunity applied here, they made it clear that this was simply a rule Principal Folsom had decided on to avoid another diplomatic incident. When the Safety Patrol decides to stop him anyway, they point out how they have other ways to make him stop abusing his power without turning him in.
"What are you gonna do, tell Folsom we ruined your counterfeit baseball card operation? I kind of doubt that. We may not be able to officially bust you, but if you cause any more trouble in this school, the entire Safety Patrol is going to turn your life into a nightmare from which you will never wake. Am I making myself clear?"
- In Generator Rex, Van Kleiss gains diplomatic immunity when he presents himself as a representative of his country, Abysus (the site of the Nanite Event), and tries to gain membership in the United Nations. This stops Rex and Providence from attacking him since, for once, he's not doing anything illegal. It doesn't stick because the other representatives revoke it when he tries to take over the world.
- In G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, the Joes interrupt a munitions sales presentation by Destro for several foreign dignitaries. The Joes try to arrest the dignitaries, but they cheerfully whip out their diplomatic credentials and the Joes have to concentrate on chasing Destro instead.
- Robot Chicken included a gag with the superhero Tablescrapper interrupting the meeting of the "Council of Evil Tables". His rival, a South African table, had a paper for Diplomatic Impunity lying on it.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Count Evallo von Meanskrieg, despite having been arrested for stealing natural gas in "The Gathering Gloom", is released because he has diplomatic immunity; the most they can do is deport him back to his home country (and since his family is the "most evil family in all of Europe", it's guaranteed that they won't punish him there either).
- The Simpsons:
- There's an episode where they go to Australia and end up having to seek refuge in the American embassy:
Bart: [To Marine guard] Hey, G.I. Joe, your sign's broken. We're already in Australia.
Marine: Actually, sir, the embassy is considered American soil, sir!
Homer: Really? Look boy, [Hopping on and off the embassy grounds] now I'm in Australia! Now I'm in America! Australia! America...!
Bart: I get it, Dad.
Homer: Australia! America...!
Marge: Homer, that's enough.
Homer: Australia! Amer- [Gets punched in the face by Marine] Ow!
Marine: Here in America we don't tolerate that kind of crap, sir!
- Bart apparently tried to invoke this trope after getting in trouble at school; his chalkboard line from "Marge In Chains" is "I do not have diplomatic immunity."
- Parodied in "Das Bus". The students of Springfield Elementary School are dressed as foreign dignitaries for their Model U.N-project and Nelson, who's dressed up as Japan, uses a pair of chopstick to painfully twist Wendell's (the pale kid with the curly hair) nose around. Principal Skinner says he'd like to do something, but Nelson has diplomatic immunity.
- There's an episode where they go to Australia and end up having to seek refuge in the American embassy:
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Many of the Mega-Corps involved with the Separatists claim "corporate neutrality" in order to Play Both Sides. Nowhere is this more apparent than in "A Distant Echo", where Techno Union head Wat Tambor invokes it when warned by Separatist Admiral Trench that there's a high probability of Republic forces turning up on Skako Minor in search of the source of a strategy algorithm the Separatists have been using against the Republic on Anaxes. Trench points out that these particular Republic operatives aren't going to care about that.
- Other Expanded Universe material give a very good explanation, in that the corporations collectively are actually vital to the Republic's war effort (many producing weapons and the Trade Federation shipping them), thus the Republic can't afford to punish their antics without damning evidence. In "A Distant Echo", however, the evidence exists, namely the source was conclusively traced back to Skako Minor, enough for the Republic to be able to investigate... And since Wat Tambor was a confirmed Separatist and was seen by the Republic operatives, it's likely Skako Minor was invaded soon after.
- Young Justice. Count Vertigo has this as a member of the Vlatavan royal family, and brags to Kid Flash that he can't be sent to Belle Reve unless it could be proven he commited crimes against his own country, despite having been previously caught operating as part of the Injustice League deploying giant monster plants to wreak havoc around the world, which seems like a bridge too far for diplomatic immunity to apply to. Kid Flash fools him into making an Engineered Public Confession of conspiring to arrange the death of his niece Queen Perdita, enabling her revoke his immunity on the grounds of treason and attempted regicide.