Follow TV Tropes


Loophole Abuse

Go To
And they say math is hard. note 
Image by Wade Clarke. Used with permission.
Q: Explain Newton's First Law of Motion in your own words.
Calvin: [writing] Yakka foob mog. Grug pubbawup zink wattoom gazork. Chumble spuzz. [aside] I love loopholes.

Someone — typically a Rules Lawyer — does something outrageous by finding a loophole in the rules, which were too narrowly written to consider such possibilities. This allows the agent to get their way while claiming they were technically following the rules.

Sometimes the loophole doesn't really exist, but the competitor is convinced it does based on his own misinterpretation of the rules. If the loophole's existence is explained, one justification sometimes is that when the rule was designed, the Loophole Abuse seemed absurd enough that no one would ever be stupid enough to try it. This is a form of Refuge in Audacity.

In games, this may often be the result of some kind of oversight by the creators. A programming oversight can cause someone to do something they did not intend, such as killing a mob intended to be invincible.


In Real Life, this is more difficult for two simple reasons: First, loopholes are quickly closed once discovered, sometimes by an Obvious Rule Patch. Second, many systems have Rule Zero: some designated referee, judge or authority figure has the absolute final word and can simply throw the argument out wholesale, usually by claiming that the "spirit" of the rule never intended to allow what the "letter" of it seems to say. On the other hand, some "loopholes" were actually exceptions put in the rule for a reason and as such are (or have become) part of the rule.

Also note that before you add an example here (especially under Real Life), loopholes are different than exemptions and provisions. These two are intentional exceptions to the simplified version of a law. For example if a government taxes pools and a pool manufacturer starts manufacturing large hot tubs to get around it, that's a loophole. If that same government decides they don't want to tax hot tubs, they will add a provision that says hot tubs are not pools. The former pool manufacturer is now using a provision to manufacture hot tubs and is following both the letter and spirit of the rules but this may not be readily obvious to an outside observer.


Several examples refer to the old name of this trope, Ain't No Rule (named for a specific situational loophole). Compare No Man of Woman Born.



Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Aint No Rule, No Purple Dragons, Air Bud Clause


The Loud House [Leggings Loophole]

Scene from The Loud House, Ep 7B - Undie Pressure. It's a rainy day and the Loud Siblings are going about their usual business. But when Lola complains about Lincoln reading comics in only his underwear. It leads to a bet between him and his sister in which side can last longer without doing their bad habits. They win, he'll stop doing his. He wins, they have to get him some new "Victory Undies". After agreeing, Lincoln tries to continue in his usual clothes but can't get comfortable. But hits upon a interesting workaround.

How well does it match the trope?

3.5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / LoopholeAbuse

Media sources:

Main / LoopholeAbuse