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Refuge in Audacity

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"Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it's unbelievable."
Matilda Wormwood, Matilda

Usually, when characters do something illegal or socially unacceptable, they'll try to be discreet about it: keep their misdeeds small and subtle enough that either no one knows what they've done, or no one cares. Sometimes a character does the exact opposite — take their misdeeds so far over-the-top that there's no way they can't be noticed — and they still get away with it.

The key is to be so audacious in how you violate the rules (whether they be laws or a moral/ethical code) that no one can believe you did it. If someone tells the police how you tried to stab them with a knife, you'll be arrested. However, if they tell the police how you tried to throw them into a tank full of hammerhead sharks, razor blades, sulfuric acid and banana peels, there's good odds the police will just laugh them off and not bother investigating. Alternatively, suppose you’re in a food court and start picking food off people's plates; they'll take their food back and tell you to leave them alone. However, if you dash through the food court with a wheelbarrow, tossing everyone's food into it, yelling, "Quickly! All your food in here! No Time to Explain!", they might be so flabbergasted by what's happening that they can't bring themselves to stop you. Or say you are The Conspiracy and want your nefarious activities to go unnoticed by the public — simply make your diabolical experiments and Evil Plans so utterly insane that the brave hero who tries to expose you will be ignored and called a loon by the general public.

Basically, people have a Weirdness Censor when it comes to human behavior; since most people follow the rules (or pretend to), someone who breaks the rules with such flagrant abandon is so unusual that people have a hard time accepting that they exist, and will try to rationalize what's happening by assuming that the violator has some sort of exceptional reason for breaking protocol; otherwise, they wouldn't even dare to be so open about it, right?

In other words, this is not Getting Crap Past the Radar. This is crashing the crap through the front doors and out the back doors of the radar installation in an armored model of the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, painted as a penis, with sunglasses-wearing flaming skull decals on every flat surface and a Hieronymus Bosch reproduction on the door, hood-mounted machine guns blazing, Motörhead blaring on the jury-rigged PA system, the tires leaving tracks painting sex and violence on the floor and walls, and one arm hanging out of the window making a rude hand gesture. note 

This is usually a good source of comedy, since it inverts how we normally expect people to behave. Characters who pull it off successfully usually come off as awesome. Characters who try this and fail often get a brutal This Is Reality moment, which can make for good Cringe Comedy instead. This is the heart and soul of the Big Lie Technique: Telling such a massively colossal lie that people refuse to believe one would actually lie about such a thing and accept it as fact instead.

This trope can overlap with Actually Pretty Funny if those affected by the crazy stunt are more impressed than angered by the audacity of the culprit. Compare Sarcastic Confession, which works on a smaller scale. Also compare Crosses the Line Twice, since they're both tropes that exaggerate offensive things, often to comedic effect. The Bavarian Fire Drill is also related to this: it works because no one thinks to question the (false) authoritory of the ones pulling it, and may be unwilling to believe or admit that they were conned afterwards. May be used to maintain the Masquerade. Setting up a Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand situation and Appeal to Audacity are subtropes. Weirdness Coupon is related and tends to be applied to characters who do things like this so regularly that everyone just accepts it after a while. Compare So Bad, It's Good.

Has nothing to do with using this program when you don't have the money for ProTools or Ableton.

Trope named by Roman Senator and Historian Publius (or Gaius) Cornelius Tacitus c.  56 – c.  120 AD note  Making the recognition of this Older Than Feudalism.

In-Universe Examples Only:

Other examples

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  • A memorable commercial for A1 Steak Sauce plays this to the extreme; a woman is arguing with a man in a steakhouse, saying things Like an Old Married Couple such as, "Why are you doing this? I don't even know you. Stop eating!" as the man gobbles up a steak. The punchline? The man gets up and scampers away just in time to miss another man returning, saying, "I just called the sitter, the kids are fine... Did you eat my steak?" The first man sat down at a complete stranger's table to eat their steak.
  • The USA has always had limits concerning the power of computers it allows for export, under the rationale that excessively powerful computers could help their enemies, who were usually technologically behind them. It has updated the limits as computer technology has improved, but on one particular instance in 1999 Apple launched the PowerMac G4 before the oncoming limit update. Because its performance exceeded the then-outdated limits, for the first couple of months it was effectively banned from export. Apple promptly spun this in their favour, with advertising such as "the only personal computer considered a weapon by the US government".
  • The Burger King. Special mention goes to the commercial where they flat out admit they're ripping off McDonald's' latest breakfast something-or-another, by creating a commercial where the King himself breaks into McDonalds' headquarters to steal the breakfast something-or-another then flee on motorcycle.
  • Hulu commercials parodied this trope, with spots featuring Seth MacFarlane (slipping from his normal voice [which is also the voice he uses for Brian the dog] to the voices he uses for Peter, Stewie, and Quagmire), Denis Leary, Eliza Dushku, and Alec Baldwin respectively announcing that they are aliens set on turning human brains to mush with TV, with the new Hulu site as their latest and greatest brain-rot delivery system.
    Hulu Tagline: An evil plot to destroy the world. Enjoy.
  • Mentos commercials thrive off this trope. When the protagonist finds themselves in trouble, they simply pop a Mentos and solve their problem in an over-the-top manner. When close-by, sometimes antagonistic characters witness it, the protagonist simply show their Mentos roll as an explanation for their actions.

  • It was Ambrose Bierce that first defined chutzpah as that attitude embodied by a boy who murders his entire family, then makes for a mercy plea in court (for a lighter sentence) on the grounds that he is an orphan. In Modern Hebrew, this just means ‘audacity’ or ‘nerve’, without the ‘refuge’ part.
  • Dane Cook intimated in a bit the time he got fired from a video store. The boss is chewing him out, and he snaps, and says "Fuck you!" then realizes what he's just done, and regrets it, but then thinks, "I'll have to beat him up now," figuring the more over the top his response, the less likely prospective employers will be to believe his old boss.
    Old Boss: Well, he sat on my chest and punched me repeatedly. You don't want this guy working for you.
    Prospective Employer: (hangs up phone) You're right, he's completely nuts. You got the job.
  • Eddie Izzard observes this regarding mass murderers who kill people past a certain point.
    "Well done, well done! You killed a hundred thousand people!? You must get up very early in the morning!"
  • At the Friar's Club roast of Hugh Hefner, Gilbert Gottfried was booed by the audience for telling a joke about 9/11. Keep in mind, this was only three weeks after the attacks, and the roast was being held in New York. How did Gottfried defuse the situation? By telling his version of The Aristocrats. Surprisingly, it worked very well: He got huge laughs and managed to win back the hostile crowd.
  • From George Carlin's album "What Am I Doing in New Jersey?":
    "What are they going to do, give me a ticket? Some people live in fear of getting a ticket! They don't know how to handle it. You just got to be firm with the policeman. Be firm with the policeman. Policemen respect strength. While he's writing out that ticket, you gotta give him a BAD LOOK. Then, JUST before he finishes writing it out, tear it out of his hands, tell him you're gonna check it over for mistakes. Take a good, long time reading the ticket, and then crumple it up, throw it on the floor and say, "Fuck you *and* your ticket too, you asshole in a hat! I've got eight or nine of these things floating around here, you think I've got time for yours? Say...don't my taxes pay your salary? You're a public servant: go get me a glass of water. You pinheaded prick! I got a party to get to, I've got a trunk full of heroin here, get out of my way!" He'll like that. He'll be appreciating it *all* the way the *maximum* security penitentiary where you'll spend life with no chance of parole and no conjugal visits. Except from some big guy you don't want one from."
  • Hannibal Buress had an incident where he fell asleep on the New York Subway, and awoke to find a man two seats away from him wearing his hat. When Buress took his hat back, the man told him, “You gave me the hat!”
    "So either I’m really generous when I’m sleepy, or this dude was just the boldest thief ever."
  • John Mulaney:
    • In one of his stand-up routines, says that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit must have this because even though other shows get attacked for merely cussing too much, SVU regularly says stuff like "Looks like the victim had anal contusions" or "Looks like we found semen and fecal matter in the victim's ear canal." The bit is part of his Comedy Central Special, "New in Town."
    • In another bit, he talks about a Wild Teen Party he attended in high school that got broken up by the police... and a cop walked downstairs to find a crowd of drunk, white, upper-middle-class teenagers chanting "FUCK DA POLICE!" in his face, with, in John's words, "the confidence of guys who have already been to jail and aren't afraid of it anymore."
      John: And he was almost impressed! He was like, "Wow..."
  • Don Rickles got his whole career thanks to this; while doing a late night casino gig, in walks Frank Sinatra with several members of The Rat Pack and Shirley MacLaine on his arm. Any one of these people on their own could make or break your career, and here they were all sitting at the same table. Rickles peered out into the darkness and said, "Hey Frank! Make yourself at home and punch somebody!" Sinatra fell on the floor laughing and they were great friends from that night onward.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a reused gag, Beetle Bailey has confused Sarge by talking to him in an aggressively superior voice, inverting their normal power relationship. Sarge is unable to comprehend a private talking to him as a superior would. (On the other hand, the tactic backfired in a strip wherein Beetle told Sarge about a dream he had in which the roles were reversed, and "Beetle" got so angry with "Sarge" for goofing off that he literally beat him to death note . The real Sarge was not amused, and nearly beat Beetle to death.)
  • In For Better or for Worse, April almost manages to do this. While pretending to be a superhero, she uses Elizabeth's bra as a slingshot and uses it to send Koosh Balls flying at the dog. Elly is too busy laughing to immediately punish April, but she is punished in the next strip.
  • Prince Valiant: Once when Val and Nathan were trying to escape the ship of Norse raiders, the crew began to wake up, so Val threw Nathan overboard and then attacked the raiders while singing fighting songs at the top of his lungs. In doing so, he not only distracted the crew from his son, but gave the appearance of madness, which the Norse took to be a sign of Demonic Possession.
  • Happens once in a while in Sturmtruppen, but Galeazzo Musolesi is the prime culprit. One of his classic stunts is when he had been stuck with a suicide mission, so he made a phone call to Mussolini to remind him that if he died the evidence about some bribes from the armament industry would come out, resulting in Mussolini banning him from any such mission forevermore.

  • A man gets pulled over for speeding. The sheriff ambles up, asks for license and registration. "I'm afraid I don't have it," the man replies sheepishly. "Why not?" asks the cop. "I, uh, think I left it at the bar. I get forgetful after a couple of drinks." "Sir, I'm going to need you to step out of the car." "No can do, sir. I stand up and the .45's gonna fall right outta my waistband." The cop is almost livid by now. "Son, what is wrong with you? What are you carrying around a loaded gun for?" "Well, the hooker's not gonna force herself into the trunk now, will she?" By now the sheriff is on the horn for backup, and half the city has arrived, complete with swat team and the Chief. As they've finished tearing his car apart - by the way, no dead hooker, he passed breathalyzer test, and his license was in the glove compartment - the guy is face down in the road in handcuffs, he turns to the Chief and says "Lemme guess. He probably told you I was speeding, too?"
  • A pastor gets up on Sunday morningnote . Beautiful day, so he decides to call in sick from church and go golfing. God and the angels see this and the angels take umbrage that a man of God would skip church for golf. God says, "You're right, I need to deal with this."
    Next shot the pastor makes goes ricocheting off several trees, rebounds off the clubhouse and goes slamming into the cup for a hole-in-one. Angels go, "Boss, I thought you were going to punish the guy." God responds, "I did. Who can he tell about this?"
  • Two undercover terrorists were having a serious discussion in a park. A woman overheard and approached them out of curiosity. "What are you discussing about?" she asked. One of the terrorists non-chalantly answered, "We are planning to kill 100 people and a cat." The woman got startled and confused, "Why a cat!?" Then the other terrorist told his partner, "See? I told you nobody will care about the 100 people."
    • The same joke with a pair of dictators and a clown is used to support A Million Is a Statistic.
    • Another variant includes a dictator, some group of acceptable targets, like current parliament, and something outlandish, like painting the whole of Kremlin green: "I knew there would no objections to the first proposal!"
  • A lion fell into a pitfall. Monkey sees it, then sits at a tree branch above to safely mock and insult the lion for a long time. Then the branch suddenly snaps and the monkey falls right in front of the furious lion. "Hey, Leo, you wouldn't believe: I came down to say sorry!"

  • The Black Guy Who Tips: Their motto is "It's okay if it's funny." The show's signature segment is "Guess The Race", where host Rod reads an article regarding a crime, and challenges the show's chat room and the episodes special guest (if applicable) to guess which race (usually) the perpetrator is. Creative racism is encouraged: Simply calling the subject "nigger" or "cracker" is frowned on ("Honky" is okay, because that's an Inherently Funny Word). But obscure and archaic slurs (like "Moon Cricket" for black people) are encouraged, as well as "as black.../white as..." answers.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In 1991, Barry Darsow (formerly Smash of the tag team Demolition) was repackaged by WWE as "Repo Man", which was Exactly What It Says on the Tin. A horrible gimmick that was presumably aimed at provoking cheap heat from deadbeats, Darsow played the character so ridiculously over the top that it was hard to hate him.
  • Every single thing that D-Generation X has ever done. There is not enough time in a week to list all of the jaw-dropping, boundary-crossing hijinks.
  • In late 2005, WWE was at a loss for how to make the crowd root for John Cena and boo Kurt Angle. They tried all of the cheapest, most offensive tricks in the wrestling playbook to make Angle the bad guy: he began bashing America and was given an Arabic manager to interfere in his matches, all the while playing the xenophobic angle to attract as much cheap heat as possible. It failed because nobody was buying an anti-American Kurt Angle, and eventually Angle Lampshaded the difficulty in getting people to hate him by going even further into offensive territory. The resulting promo is generally held to be hilarious because nobody can take it seriously:
    Kurt Angle: First of all, I'd like to say that: I hope the US loses the war in Iraq. And, uh, while I'm at it, I think the greatest country in the world is...France! Y'know, truth be told, I'm not a very big fan of..."the black people." And if I would go back in time, the one person in history I'd like to make tap out would have to be...Jesus! ...The point is, I can say anything I want to these idiots, and they'll still cheer for me!
    * Right on cue, the crowd cheers enthusiastically*
    • After this, WWE finally gave up on trying to make Angle a heel. But they only did that when Batista got injured and Angle was switched to SD hastily. Maybe they weren't even planning on stopping there.
  • Katie Vick. Triple H pretending to be Kane, having sex with his dead girlfriend in a casket. Not much of a refuge since the only person who really enjoyed the bit was Vince McMahon.
  • WWE's Most Intimate Relationships Revealed segment on Raw when Jerry Springer hosted was very much this trope. It started with Jerry revealing that Kelly Kelly was secretly pregnant. Kelly reveals that she had a few drinks with Santino Marella and things happened. After Santino declared that he was the father, Kelly revealed that she needed someone to finish the job, MICHAEL COLE. This results in the possibility that Jerry Lawler may be the father, but Springer shoots that down because Jerry likes to pick up his chicks from recess. This brings out the Bella Twins and Nikki reveals that Brie is a man, resulting in a Catfight. Jerry steers that topic back to Kelly, and this brings out Chris Masters to reveal that he slept with Kelly, and this brings out his very angry girlfriend Eve Torres who also reveals she had an affair with THE GREAT KHALI! With almost all of the comedy characters accounted for, Jerry Springer reveals that he has the pregnancy test results back. Santino questions this possibility seeing as though this only happened three days ago, and Springer simply says, "I'm Jerry Springer." The results reveal the father to be Hornswoggle and this is too much for Jerry Springer of all people, and he begins to leave in disgust. Jerry Lawler then reveals that the entire segment was a prank and that the Great Khali probably does not even know what's happening. Khali's translator says that Khali felt like the audience in that this was a giant waste of time. To close out the segment, Lawler turns the tables on Jerry and reveals Springer's secret fling, MAE YOUNG! RAW goes to a commercial as Springer makes out with Mae.
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin owned this trope.
  • The Attitude Era was all about the WWF trying to push the envelope further and further in an attempt to draw viewers from WCW. It finally got scaled back slightly when the Parents Television Council started threatening lawsuits and ended for good with the PG era.
  • Speaking of the Attitude Era, we have The Godfather, played by Charles Wright, he of Papa Shango and Kama "the Supreme Fighting Machine" fame. With the "crash TV" format set in stone, it was probably only a matter of time before there was a wrestling pimp. To that end, The Godfather came out with Pimp Duds and at least 5 or 6 "hoes" every week, and would cut promos about smoking blunts and then offer his would-be opponent a night with the hoes instead of a proper match. Unsurprisingly, this got huge reactions from younger male fans.
    Godfather: It's time, once again, for everybody to come aboard the... HOOOOOOOOOOOO TRAAAAAAIN!!!
  • During Norman Smiley's match with Michael Shane (w/Francine) at MLW Revolutions, May 9, 2003, Francine, of course, got involved and gave him the Bronco Buster in the corner. Norman countered by grabbing the front of Francine's shorts and simulating oral sex. It didn't help, as Norman still lost the match.
  • Two words: A.J. Lee. She's put into a match against Kane so what does she do? She jumps into his arms and smooches him for at least two minutes. This is Kane we're talking about - the man who set Jim Ross on fire For the Evulz. And after the kiss is over, he simply walks out of the match.
    • There really is no level AJ won't stoop to. She got another one over on Kane by dressing up as him and skipping around the ring during another of his matches. And she avoided any potential break up backlash by simply being too crazy for him to want anything to do with her.
    • She managed to two-time Daniel Bryan and CM Punk and keep them coming back for more. As in she literally made out with each of them seconds after each other, with the other a couple of feet away.note 
    • Her tweets also invoke this trope. She rather proudly boasts about airport security people playing with her underwear in her suitcases and her own public humiliations.
  • Layla and the body scissors. It's a move that involves basically wrapping your legs around the opponent's stomach. And Layla does it facing her opponents. And blatantly makes it look like she's dry humping them. She's also got a bit of a reputation for groping her opponents during pins.
  • On the August 26, 1999 episode of SmackDown!, Tori (Terri Poch) was scheduled to face Ivory in an Evening Gown Match. Michael Cole, still a neutral character, attempted to interview Tori backstage before the match as she walked away from the camera. Tori pulled down her evening gown, saying that there was no way Ivory was going to humiliate her, and, with her back to the camera, walked around backstage wearing only a Thong and shoes until she was stopped by a group of referees and Road Agent Tony Garea, who gave her his shirt to wear. Tori won, of course, in 57 seconds. The fact that she was attempting to walk to the ring practically naked on national network television should qualify for Refuge In Audacity.

  • On Flight Of The Conchords, Bret had a dream in which David Bowie told him that, "once in a while, it doesn't hurt to do something absolutely outrageous". At a business meeting with a musical greeting card company Bet decided to act on this advice by climbing onto the company owner's desk and exposing himself. It paid off in the end, as the owner admired Bret's balls.
  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: A woman talks a man into swapping seats on a plane with her. It's only once they've swapped she reveals her seat's actually in economy, not first class like the man's. When a steward comes along, and has it explained to him, he says that since the woman did say it was "very cheeky" of her beforehand, there's nothing to be done.
  • Lo Zoo Di 105: Good Lord.
  • The Men from the Ministry: The Staff of General Assistance Department are masters of this when it comes to explaining their huge screw-ups as official "government experiments", for example accidentally flooding the underground with cold water is explained as new experimental way to clean it.
  • In The Navy Lark schemeing CPO Pertwee explains that the secret to scamming the Navy out of money is never to indent one of anything unless it is a Battleship. If you need 1 special luxury chair, indent for half a dozen. He ends up inadvertantly requistioning every chair in the Navy including the First Sea Lord's chair before it was put a stop to by Lt-Cmdr Price.
    • Lt-Cmdr Price's "Not Received file" which he uses to keep track of all the orders that he'd rather not obey and doesn't intend to reply to. The sender generally gets transferred, promoted, retires, or just plain gives up long before Price does. In the rare instances it doesn't work Price will send a top priority, double urgent, angry memo demanding to know why the sender hasn't responded to his questions (which he hasn't sent) about said orders. That generally shuts them up in embarrassment and he hears no more about it.
  • The entirety of True Capitalist comes off as this. These are the audio adventures of a really loud Texan and his loyal engineer, and said Texan flips out over prank calls made by the likes of trolls playing splices, bronies, a suburban welfare receiver, a fabulous man in his tub, an 8 year old Mexican kid, a 'trans-testicle' and other bizarre characters.
    • The twitter shoutouts even more so:
    Ghost: Uh, we got "Knot See," uh, "Occupy Equestria," we got "Occupy Ghost's Ass" (GEDDIMOFF), we got "Low Fat Sperm," we got "Minor Crap Boy," we got "Ghostler," we got "Benito Ghostini," we got "Ghostef Stalin," we got "Fidel Ghostro" (THESE SICK-ASS NAMES, MAN) we got "Kony's Sex Slave" ( sick fruitbowls), we got "Slimy Gimp Girl," we got "Mug Ranny Saw Tranny-" AAAAAAAAUUGGHHH YOU SICK, SICK BASTARDS, AUUUUUUGHH! THESE SICK PRICKS! LOOK AT 'EM, ENGINEER!
  • The Unbelievable Truth: Right there in the name. Since the purpose is to disguise lies, the contestants often hide ridiculous truths among equally ridiculous lies. Sometimes they get buzzed for it, sometimes they don't. Like when Henning Wehn buzzed the idea of a man in India marrying an animal, figuring such a statement was so ridiculously offensive it could only be true, because otherwise you couldn't get away with saying it. He was right.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Cards Against Humanity thrives on this trope. Think Apples to Apples, except dirtier… much, much dirtier. Cards such as "Pac-Man uncontrollably guzzling cum" and "50,000 volts straight through the nipples" are particular standouts.
  • Changeling: The Lost revolves around the player characters trying to escape the True Fae. One power you can use is the "Call the Hunt" Goblin Contract, which summons a horde of hostile True Faes to your location - which is considered a completely insane action.
  • Early in the Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition adventure Tyranny of Dragons, one of the ways for the heroes to get into the Cult of the Dragon's camp is to walk straight through it, without even attempting to hide their identities or acting like they're going to be stopped. This will work this one and only time because the camp is already disorganized, and because the cultists don't expect anyone to be so brazen as to just walk in. This will only get them so far, though; the previously-faced Duel Boss Cyanwrath is there, and if the character who fought him is recognized, the jig is up.
  • This is so much a part of the Exalted mindset it's used as a basic mechanic, called stunting. Describing particularly epic things gets you bonus dice, with more dice awarded for more outrageous actions. The in game explanation for this is that the spiders who maintain causality never get breaks and watching stunts is the closest thing they have to entertainment. Out of game, it helps make games livelier and more enjoyable for the players.
  • The GURPS 4th edition rulebook says this on the skill "Holdout" (concealing objects on your person): "A Las Vegas show girl in costume (-5 penalty to skill) would have trouble hiding even a dagger. Of course, the show girl might escape search entirely (unless the guards were bored) because 'She obviously couldn't hide anything in that outfit!' Full nudity is -7 to skill."
  • Hunter: The Vigil advises this as a method for hunters to gather necessary information on your enemies, and with the mechanics of such rolls in the game, you can say anything you want and the dice will still go in your favor.
  • One could say that Infernum does this with its mere existence — who ever heard of a game devoted to playing as a soul-eating member of the Legions of Hell? — but it has more concrete examples, too. For example, one chain of powers is called "Chain of the Crawling Flesh". Its final power? You can shed your skin and then it will fight alongside you as a living entity in its own right.
  • Paranoia has a skill dedicated to this: Chutzpah. The example used to explain the skill is standing before a judge to be sentenced for murdering your parents — and pleading for clemency because you're an orphan.
  • Taking the "Pink Mohawk" style of Shadowrun gameplay to its extreme basically becomes this. If a run doesn't end with a speeding car chase with Knight Errant down the I-5, while the team member dressed up in a mascot costume fires at them with a Gatling gun from the back of your neon-trim Pimpmobile of a team conveyance and the hacker is uploading real time footage of this whole affair to the Matrix, then you're not playing Pink Mohawk to its fullest.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Ork Kommandos are fairly skilled at being stealthy, but their greatest strength is the fact that no one is expecting Orks to be sneaky. Fanon holds that they also paint themselves purple, because no one has ever seen a purple Ork... they're that sneaky!
    • Both Warhammer and 40K live and breathe this trope. However, special mention has to go to Harpies and Daemonettes, whose official models (especially in previous editions) were both topless and anatomically correct.
    • The only tropes that are more prevalent in this setting are Crapsack World, Darker and Edgier, and Rule of Cool.
  • In Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, the Gloomspite Gitz Battletome mentions that the faction's main hero Skragrott the Loonking owns a pair of Mangler Squigs he named Squigmar and Skragash, using them as a mockery of the failed cooperation between Sigmar and Nagash, the gods of Order and Death.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, there is a Continuous Spell that is named after this trope. Basically, its effects state that each time a monster is summoned by the opponent, the user gets 300 Life Points. If the user's LP total is 10000 or more, the monsters become indestructible by battle.

  • 13: The Musical provides us with the musical number "All Hail The Brain/Terminal Illness", in which our protagonist Evan thinks up many a Zany Scheme of how to get himself and his friends into an R-rated film, finally convincing his mother to buy the tickets by having his terminally ill friend, Archie, asking Evan's mother to buy the tickets for them.
  • The Book of Mormon has Mormon Missionary Elder Price run right into a vicious Ugandan warlord's camp in an attempt to convert him to Mormonism. His blind courage/stupidity is so unexpected and confusing, that the soldiers, so perplexed by this, don't shoot him to death, even when he awkwardly grabs the general in order to get him to join in the choreography of the song he's singing. Though that still doesn't stop them from shoving the Book of Mormon up his rectum.
  • The English cabaret performer Ursula Martinez's most famous stage routine, Hanky Panky, is kind of Refuge in Audacity: The Comedy/Magic/Striptease Routine. Martinez walks confidently onstage in a business suit and smiles at the audience. She takes a red handkerchief from her jacket pocket, pokes it into her fist, and then makes it disappear. Then she produces the handkerchief from inside her jacket. She takes the jacket off, revealing that underneath she's wearing a bra, but no shirt; whoops up the crowd a bit, and pokes the handkerchief into her fist again: handkerchief then disappears, only for her to pull it from inside the waistband of her skirt. She then takes the skirt off, revealing her black thong, and shows off her (very nice and extremely tall) body a bit to the audience, then makes the handkerchief disappear again, only to produce it from inside her bra. She then takes her bra off, makes the handkerchief disappear again, and produces it from inside the front of her thong. Finally, she takes the thong off — leaving herself naked except for high-heeled shoes — makes the handkerchief disappear again, and finally pulls it out of her vagina and accepts the applause of a grateful audience.
  • Heathers: In frustration, Veronica loudly confesses to her role in J.D.'s murders in front of an entire assembly. Everybody just believes she did it for attention.
  • Richard from Richard III, by William Shakespeare, hits on Lady Anne, the widow to a man HE KILLED. He does this while the corpse of her father-in-law (who he also killed) is present, and his wounds are bleeding again as a warning from beyond the grave. He gets her.
  • Autolycus from The Winter's Tale, also Shakespeare. He does such things as pretend to have been injured and robbed, pick the pockets of people who try to help him, and then describe the robber as himself. Later, in disguise, he encounters the guy he ripped off again, and sympathizes with his concerns about thieves.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney: Pretty much the basis of this entire franchise. They've pulled pretty much every Courtroom Antic in the book (and may have made some of their own) as things get progressively more outlandish.
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: The last day of case four was pretty much the biggest moment of this in the first game, and the precursor for things to come. Notably, the famous moment where Phoenix cross-examines a parrot to get important information about its owner. Everyone acknowledges how ridiculous it is, but the prosecutor Manfred von Karma, who sarcastically suggested the idea, lets it happen.note  And Phoenix realizes that he's at the end of his rope and needs a lead if he's going to win. And after that trial, Phoenix manages to solve a 15-year-old murder case immediately after Miles is found innocent. By indicting the opposing prosecutor and running a metal detector over him! Having the balls to do that is nothing short of insane, but he goes headfirst into it to reveal von Karma's guilt. This trial was only the tip of the iceberg.
    • Partly the reason behind Robin and Hugh's "confessions" in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies; their mutual friend Juniper is the defendant and both of them are suspects in the murder. Robin confessing to the murder right when Juniper was about to be found guilty made her look innocent, which is immediately followed by Juniper trying to confess to save Robin. Then Hugh's confession, when the only other two suspects had both confessed seemingly out of protection for each other, to seemingly join in with the entire "protection" shtick, also made him look innocent. This is directly brought up by Hugh, who mentions that if he was guilty he wouldn't have confessed, so he can't be the culprit. The player is likely to believe that Hugh confessed to make himself seem innocent, especially since he confessed after Robin and Juniper. As it turns out, all of their confessions really were in order to protect each other, and none of them are the culprit.
  • Akatsuki no Goei: After being forced to remain at Renou Academy when the richest school at school blackmails him into becoming her personal bodyguard, Kaito sets out to become The Gadfly and see just how far he can push the limits of everybody's patience. At one point, Reika orders him to grope Aya, but fails to specify her as the target, so he responds by groping Reika instead. However, this is clearly shown to have been far out of line, as severe consequences for that particular act follow, and it's made clear that he was fortunate not to suffer far worse.
  • Amorous: If you admit to your stepfather that you were having sex with your stepbrother, he doesn't believe you.
    • Kurosawa is prone to shoplifting, may have done time in the past, and secretly runs a website on the dark web that's dedicated to killing innocent people. Somehow, she still has a regular job.
    • Sachiko has slapped customers out of sheer frustration, and there are rumors that she even strangled the manager, making him too afraid to fire her.
  • Highschool Romance Magi Trials: When Sophie's protection spell accidentally turns Charlie's clothes invisible, she can claim to have done it purposefully to take advantage of the surprise. Charlie finds it hilarious, taking the whole thing in stride.
  • In Tsukihime, Shiki can opt to tell Ahika the truth about his 'outing' with Arcueid. Ahika assumes that he's just joking.
  • Virtue's Last Reward: This is the reason why Alice dresses like an ancient Egyptian princess (mostly because she likes it, though). SOIS' dress code is very loose for the purpose of making people not think they're members of a top-secret organization, to the point where there are agents dressed up as Elvis, Lady Gaga, and even Captain America. This fact has not gone unnoticed by those who actually know about the organization.
    Uchikoshi: The very few people that know of the organization are said to be teasing them by calling them "State Of Insanitie S", or that’s what I hear.
  • WILL: A Wonderful World: Will states that any event swapping can work so long as it follows the structure of the event as a whole. This comes up during a sequence that involves switching a fish with a gun, something that works since, in their respective contexts, both are being used as weapons.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Chimney Chickens episode Date Envy, Blaze Hanson applies for the position of Office Teacher's Assistant and states his ulterior motives in the interview. He still gets the job.
    Hall Monitor Marshall: So Blaze, why exactly do you want to be an Office T.A.?
    Blaze: Well, to be honest, I'm not really interested in being responsible, or even a good employee for that matter. Actually, I expect to be fired by tomorrow. Look, I only really want the job so I can go through your files and steal girls' phone numbers.
    Hall Monitor Marshall: You got a sense of humor. I like that. When can you start?
  • In a Red vs. Blue short, Griff uses this as his reason for saying if he were to rob someone, he would use a hot air balloon and a clown mask.
    • In an earlier episode, Sarge claims that his plan to storm an enemy base by charging in a single file line will work because the enemy will be too flabbergasted to respond in time.

  • Thief, one of the four Warriors of Light in 8-Bit Theater, does this regularly in order to scam everyone around him for everything they own or even have theoretical rights to claim. Examples include: forcing his way into the team with a contract, including terms that grant him rights to all treasure the team acquires simply by it being in his line of sight, forcing team members to pay royalties for reading the contract because it includes devices he patented, tricking an actual Trickster God via reverse psychology, removing the soul of a lich from one of the elemental orbs by declaring it a pollutant and serving the lich with a court order, and gaining a class/job upgrade by stealing it from himself in the future.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: In one of the earliest examples, vigilante paleontologists discover living dinosaurs, so they dress as gunslinger banditos while riding velociraptors, thus preventing the authorities from doing anything about them because they refuse to believe the reports. Towards the end of the comic's run, they look back to this and muse how, after everything else that has happened since then, the whole raptor riding banditos thing now seems totally believable.
  • Ansem Retort: Axel claims that he couldn't be responsible for some murders because he was busy murdering some other people at the time.
  • Baskets of Guts: The protoganist unintentionally acts this way, thus the authorities have a hard time catching him.
  • Blades of Furry: Radu hides that he is a vampire by hiding in plain sight. He performs on ice with a recurring vampire motif and even has merch with motifs after bats and vampires. As a result, people who actually theorize he is a vampire sound delusional like they can't separate reality from fiction.
  • In El Goonish Shive, some of Mr. Verres' cover-up plans seem to run off of this, especially when it comes to the Uryuom.
  • Erfworld's Parson seems to understand that taking Refuge in Audacity is the best way to skirt the rules. Uncroaking a dormant volcano is so audacious that it shouldn't be possible, and nobody has even considered trying it before, which means when Parson pulls it off successfully, it catches everyone so far off guard that he turns the tide of a war. However, some of these backfire; it turns out there's a damn good reason most people don't consider "assassinate the enemy leader during negotiations" a valid tactic.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Antimony tried to get into a robots-only area of the building by wearing a clever disguise.
    "These are my antennas, because clearly I am a robot. Also, robots never lie."
  • In one strip of Hark! A Vagrant, a hostile bureaucrat questions Real Life hero Chiune Sugihara about all the travel visas he's issuing to Jewish refugees. Sugihara responds that they're not refugees, they're tourists. Everyone knows Jews love Japan.
  • Repeatedly lampshaded in Joe vs. Elan School. The titular Boarding School of Horrors uses such over-the-top punishments that parents — including Joe's — don't believe that they could be real. What's worse is that Elan recognizes this and in fact advises parents on this; they tell that their addict children will say anything outrageous to get out of there and back to their supposed addictions. And it's even worse after Joe actually leaves Elan, when he discusses how his mother is able to shrug off Joe yelling at her Elan-style, since it sounds like incomprehensible Angrish.
    "But the sad reality is that people like Jay Cirri knew about this loophole in human nature and exploited it by being extra, over-the-top crazy because that ensures that most people will never believe it. If it hadn't happened to me... I'm not even sure if I would."
  • In Legio Arcana, The overworked Tim drags the bodies out the brood of vampires he wiped out into the backyard and sets them on fire in an effort to clean up after himself and save time. The sensational and contradictory nature of the witness accounts allows Tim to get away with it.
  • From Looking for Group:
    Richard: Listen, like I told your Captain, that orphanage attacked me. It was self-defense.
  • Benjamin Prester pulls this off when he brings Caprice Quevellion to Venus in A Miracle of Science here. He's making a grand show of declaring his railgun (which was decorated with rainbows and unicorns for extra ostentatiousness) when going through customs because, for all its power and ridiculousness, it's perfectly legal for Prester to have it. However, Caprice is a Martian, who is by Venusian law banned from entering the planet's atmosphere. Prester does his best to keep everyone's focus on him so that nobody pays attention to her.
  • Nodwick: After stealing some guards' uniforms, Artax tells the guard working at the gate that they're the replacements for the guards who were dumb enough to let some heroes steal their uniforms. The guard lets them through.
  • The Order of the Stick:
  • Schlock Mercenary: Schlock escaped punishment for spying on his commanding officers from the air vents by being utterly shameless about it and exploiting the fact there Ain't No Rule.
    Tagon: What are you doing?
    Schlock: Listening in on you guys.
    Tagon: You can't... I mean...
    Kevyn: It's hard to find fault with someone so blunt.
    Tagon: Especially since there's no company policy about air vents.
    Schlock: There's gonna be a new rule now, just for me.
  • Buwaro and Kieri of Slightly Damned at one point decide to drop their disguises and walk around Riverside City as the angel and demon that they are. This becomes a more effective way of blending in with the Medians than what they had going: (most) everyone refused to believe an angel and a demon would willingly hang out with each other, so they assumed they were a couple of kids wearing elaborate costumes for some publicity stunt. It beats being mistaken for a pimp and prostitute.
  • In Something*Positive, Aubrey describes a variation of the trope when, asked why she's never been arrested, she responds that "the key is to commit crimes so confusing that police feel too stupid to even write a crime report about them."
  • This Touhou fancomic. Nazrin shows up and thanks a pair of (low-power) gods for the food she just stole and ate and calmly walks off. The victims are too stunned to respond.

  • If "Refuge in Audacity" was a religion, then David Thorne of 27b/6 would be the pope. Most times he ends up just messing with people via e-mail for fun, but he's actually had fines and late video fees completely waived by just going off on tangents. In one of his books, he responds to a simple "where were you on Tuesday" from his boss with a multi-paragraph essay that spans three pages graphically detailing the most-likely-false events that conspired to keep him home, warranting only a dumbfounded "ok" as a response.
  • Clickhole published an article titled "Shots Fired: Quiznos Has Hired Subway’s Jared Fogle For A New Ad Campaign Claiming That Quiznos Sandwiches Cured His Pedophilia". If the title doesn't speak for itself, Quiznos started an ad campaign that banked on Jared Fogle's crimes and publicity as Subway's spokesperson to "throw shade" towards Subway.

    Web Videos 
  • The parody commercial Big Bill Hell's, first circulated on VHS tapes in the Baltimore area during The '80s. Ostensibly a send-up of car ads at the time, it uses a Cluster F-Bomb to announce how the dealer is clearly going to rip people off, that Bill's cars are useless pieces of junk, and that if the check to him bounces, then "you're a dead motherfucker". The fake ad manages to be funny simply because of how audacious and brutally honest it is about used car sales.
  • Discussed in the Campaign 2 Wrap-Up video of Critical Role, where the cast discusses What Could Have Been regarding the Mighty Nein. During the campaign, Fjord the half-orc warlock (as played by Travis Willingham) failed to intimidate his patron, the Sea Monster Uk'otoa. Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer revealed during the Wrap-Up that had that Intimidation check worked, Uk'otoa would have kept Fjord around, simply because the sheer balls it took to threaten a Chaotic Evil god of the sea would have impressed him.invoked
  • In DanTDM's video "Among Us.. but it gets weird..", during one round, Tubbo plays as "Poo" while being the Impostor and lies about having to wait before doing tasks — i.e. waiting for his kill cooldown to run out — and starts killing random people off in front of everyone for purely arbitrary reasons and using blatantly improbable excuses to explain why they are dead, such as killing Gumi because he doesn't like pink and blaming her death on getting her foot stuck in a vent, Thinknoodles because of constipation; and vents in front of Dan and Sparklez. And better yet, he wins the round as Impostor because the whole situation was so ridiculously hilarious that no one voted him off.
  • On the Dream SMP, Technoblade has a habit of pulling outrageous stunts to taunt enemies he doesn't need to take seriously (read: everyone except maybe Dream). And he always wins. Justified, as Techno's armor is kitted out with Thorns (causes recoil damage to any attackers), which, when combined with netherite armor's natural protection, gives him Nigh-Invulnerability (as enemies will hurt themselves more than Techno) and allows Techno much more leeway to toy with foes (as he already knows he's going to win).
    • At one point, Techno is attacked by a Ravager. His response? Go AFK to read donations as the Ravager dies from recoil damage caused by Techno's armor.
    • Techno doesn't even need to be in combat to do this. At the Manburg Festival, Fundy trapped Techno in a dive tank with the intention of drowning him. Unfortunately for Fundy, Techno had a Respiration III helmet, which meant it'd take a minute for Techno's air to even run out — and when he finally started taking damage, it took so long that Techno was able to easily regenerate more health than he lost. Techno then proceeded to promote his channel while in the process of drowning, even stepping away from his computer in real life for a moment to drink a glass of water. Yes, Techno took a break from drowning to drink water. He even plays up a Minor Injury Overreaction for all it's worth, joking that he desperately needs to eat to regenerate once he's at six and a half hearts (which takes even longer). Needless to say, Fundy was not happy.
    • During the Manburg-Pogtopia War, Techno's Face–Heel Turn and dramatic speech is followed by a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner and him proceeding to summon two Withers... and then he goes on to name one of them "Subscribe to Technoblade". Even more-so, he calls the name the most important part.
    • Techno has also infiltrated New L'Manberg by standing in front of his own wanted posters to blend in... while wearing a different skin to the one on the poster. Tubbo is too confused to question it and just leaves him be.
      Tubbo: Uh, right, moving on, he's just a poster apparently.
  • Discussed in Freeman's Mind. Freeman, worried about being arrested for killing HECU marines, decides that the more people he kills, the harder it will be to pin on him.
    Freeman: "No military training, never fired a gun, acquitted for petty theft, not a member of any extremist organizations, has a PHD in theoretical physics. Yeah, that sounds like our man."
  • For their Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door a fan gave the Game Grumps a list of the best badges they could be using which, albeit in a very friendly and helpful way, pointed out that most of their own badge choices were poor. Cue Arin going off on an episode-long rant about how playing a game is about the journey rather than a destination, and part of the fun is them figuring out which own badges work for them rather than simply being instructed on "which is best". It goes from a genuinely funny rant that has a point, to an Ungrateful Bastard Take That! that even seems to make Danny uncomfortable, and back to funny just because he simply will not stop ranting about it.
  • Hobo Bros: In "Not Just Another Order", Luke and Kevin jokingly claim that their goal is to offend as many cultures as possible.
  • Jim Sterling's "Copyright Deadlock" method of blocking ContentID claims. Sterling was sick and tired of Nintendo's policies of using ContentID claims to run ads on videos with clips from their properties, especially since they're often violating Fair Use laws while doing so and thus taking money from YouTube users who use the material for their jobsnote , yet they wanted to do an episode on Star Fox Zero. So, what did they do? They did the episode... and included not only footage from Star Fox but also the games which have the most ContentID claims from different owners, including Metal Gear Solid V (published by Konami) and Beyond: Two Souls (published by Quantic Dream and distributed by Sony). They also included a minute of footage of themself dancing to the pop song "Chains of Love" by Erasure as well, as song which is also frequently flagged, just for added effect. It worked in their favor — because of how many claims were made on their video, ContentID refused to give the right to claim to anyone, and their didn't lose any money either since the series itself is funded through Patreon donations. From then on, they would use "Chains of Love" (and dance to it in an over the top fashion) and repeat those and similar clips whenever they wanted to deploy this 'copyright deadlock' method.
    It's a petty little trick at its core but one which gives me no small amount of smug self-satisfaction.
  • LegalEagle: Discussed in "Leopold & Loeb's Perfect Murder Gone Wrong". The attorney for the defendants, Leopold and Loeb, was one Clarence Darrow, of the Scopes Monkey Trial fame. Leopold and Loeb had kidnapped, tortured, and killed a fourteen-year-old boy to prove they were "superior" (via their interpretation of Friedrich Nietzsche), and because they were both confident that they were smarter than the police. But they weren't, and the two were tried for murder and kidnapping. Darrow took the case because he was staunchly anti-death-penalty, and wanted to argue against the state of Illinois killing the two men. His sentencing argument is cited as one of the most audacious in American legal history. In so many words, Darrow said "my clients are terrible people, I never want to see them again, and they absolutely should be permanently removed from society because they're too dangerous to let them roam free... but we shouldn't kill them". Surprisingly, it worked — Leopold and Loeb instead received life sentences plus 99 years, and were spared the gallows.note 
  • Mahu: In "Crownless Eagle" general Poniatowski embodies this trope. The prussian armies are at the border, ready to strike at a defenceless Commonwealth? Well that clearly means they have no forces to defend Berlin! Great Britain is busy defending their overseas territories? Grab some boats and let's invade their mainland!
  • The fifth season finale of The Music Video Show invokes this by saying that since no one watches the show, Kiara herself has no problem with saying bad things about Jake & Logan Paul or the "wastes of darkness" known as their fanbase.
  • The Nostalgia Critic tries to pull this off in his review of Ghost Dad. After pretending to be a ghost that stays in the material plane if his assistants to role play as a Newsboy and Dorothy for him, they call the Critic out when they realize that he isn't dead. Nostalgia Critic then shames them for believing him and following through on his inane orders, openly stating that he hopes their embarrassment and confusion will buy him enough time to make his escape.
  • Probably the only reason Youtube prankster Rémi Gaillard is still alive and/or not in prison is owing to this, Actually Pretty Funny, and sheer luck. His motto of "C'est en faisant n'importe quoi qu'on devient n'importe qui"note  even evokes this trope.
  • The Spoony One extols such methods as last resorts in an episode of Counter Monkey “The Bardic Knock Spell.” He recommends elaborate bluffs and performance improvisations when infiltrating or stuck in other difficult situations, particularly with Bard characters. Some favourite examples include simply knocking on the door of enemy hideouts (the aforementioned bardic knock spell,) and running into a guard barracks with his character dressed in nothing but glitter and feathers, covering his face and begging them not to look at him, as it had been a rough night.
  • In SsethTzeentach's review of God Hand, he encourages to players to use emulate the game on PC since you couldn't buy it from the developers anymore, he spoke as a viewer asking if that isn't piracy, Sseth instead proceedes to dodge the question by announcing that he had funded over $1,000 worth of God Hand porn using his sponsorship and patreon money.
  • Many of the videos from Those Aren't Muskets tend to have a ridiculous, over-the-top sense of humor. This includes Black Comedy and dirty humor. For example, in "Tech Support", the tech support's automated voice goes crazy and deploys an invisible assassin among other things.

  • A certain D&D Green-text thread has a barbarian/rogue who would scream "YOU NO SEE KROD!" at enemies whenever he failed a Stealth Check.


Jensen bluffs his way in & out

Jensen effortlessly commandeers an elevator for himself to don a disguise, and with a little help, bluffs his way out again.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / RefugeInAudacity

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