Follow TV Tropes


Rule #1

Go To

"If somebody you knew, whether they were a criminal or a window washer, constantly talked about "the rules", you would never want to hang out with this fuckin' nitwit, would you? You're washing the window and the fucker says, 'Rule #1. No streaks.' What an annoying dude. Get him away from me."
Vern, reviewing The Transporter

He's in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation with other people who are less experienced or trustworthy than him, and he wants to make some things clear. So he bluntly declares a numbered list of "rules" for the situation. Beginning, of course, with Rule Number One, and following it with Rule Number Two, and so forth. The implication of setting out these rules, and providing a semblance of structure by numbering them, is that they are resolute and unquestionable, and that breaking these rules will lead to dire consequences.

Given the nature of storytelling, expect these rules to be bent or outright broken at some point before the story is done. Often quite ironically.

Another situation is conveying advice or admonishments, such as with the Mentor Archetype or Old Master. In this case, the rules could be "don't use the Dangerous Forbidden Technique" or "always believe in yourself." They are likely to include Rule Zero: "I'm always right."

One version of this trope became so popular that 90% of these will be Stock Shout-Outs to Fight Club — "Rule Number One of [X]: You do not talk about [X]" and/or "Rule Number One: [Y]. Rule Number Two: [Y]!"

There Are No Rules is an inversion, although that itself is sometimes called "Rule #1" nonetheless. This can then be subverted by having other rules follow which are actually restrictive.

The Thieves' Guild most often has each of its members adhere to certain numbered rules.

For the other Rule Number One, see Old Master.

Characters who live by The Rules are obviously on the Lawful side of Character Alignment, but there's nothing stopping them from being Lawful Good or Lawful Evil. In fact, expect the latter from the Obstructive Bureaucrat who can cite any Rule that justifies him/her not doing anything remotely reasonable or helpful.

See also Things You Are Not Allowed to Do.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Death Note has a lot of rules, but the one that's best-known is the first: "I. The human whose name is written in this note shall die."
  • There is to be no discrimination between humans and robots in the Time of Eve.

    Comic Books 
  • In a Batman: Black and White story, titled Rule Number One, an unnamed young man training under Batman, likely one of the Robins, thinks about how many rules Batman has, but he can't remember if rule number one is no guns, or no killing. And when his motorcycle is stolen, Batman tells him about another rule number one: Never leave the keys in the ignition. He concludes that there are a lot of rule number ones in the vigilante business.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2020): Blackjack O'Hare's one rule - no Rocket Racoon ever. Naturally, seconds after he declares this, he finds out he's been contracted to kill Rocket Racoon.
  • Knights of the Dinner Table: B.A. is fond of quoting the first rule of HackMaster, which is "The GM is always right!".
  • In an issue of Alan Moore's Wild C.A.T.s (WildStorm) run, one of the MERCs says: "Rule number 1: Don't @#$%& us. There's no Rule number 2".

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot has this strip spoofing the Fight Club meme by having rule #1 as "Do not talk about Font Club" and rule #2 as "Do not use Comic Sans".

    Fan Works 
  • In some of Maudlin Mush's Emergency! stories, Joe, Kel and Dixie discuss and think about Rule Number One-don't get emotionally involved with cases- when helping Johnny recover from his many injuries. In one story, Kel says that Rule Number One was 'demolished' or something along those lines, and another time, he thinks to himself that "maybe Rule Number One was just a suggestion'. They're not ashamed to help a friend when he needs it, rule or no rule.
  • In Like Grains of Sand in the Hourglass Tonks mentally quotes Mad-Eye Moody's Auror training rules when in an applicable situation. The few which are given range from Rule 0note  to Rule 122.note 

    Film — Animation 
  • Aladdin's Genie.
    Genie: Rule number one: I can't kill anybody, so don't ask. Rule number two: I can't make anybody fall in love. Mwa! You little punim there. Rule number three: I can't bring people back from the dead. It's not a pretty picture. I don't like doing it!
  • Phil from Hercules has a whole list of rules for being a hero.
    Phil: Rule number six: When rescuing a damsel, always handle with care.
    Phil: Rule number ninety-five: Concentrate.
    Phil: Rule number ninety-six: Aim.
  • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: "Rule number one: Always listen to Buck!"
  • Monsters, Inc.:
    Yeti: Rule number one out here: Always... no, never go out in a blizzard.
  • The Miramax cut of The Thief and the Cobbler, when the thief is on a tightrope.
    Thief: Rule number one: Keep your eye on the wire and have feet like a monkey. Rule number two: It's always good to wear underwear when you're up this high, otherwise you could attract a sizable crowd. That brings us to rule number three.
    • He can't remember rule number three.
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, the most important rule in Hero's Duty is "Never interfere with the first-person shooter!".

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Inverted in Babylon A.D. where it's Sister Rebeka who gives the rules to badass mercenary Toorop before the Live-Action Escort Mission, the last of which is "No foul language." Toorop gives a not-quite amused smile and immediately breaks the rule.
    Toorop: You listen to my one and only rule. Don't fuck with me. Or I'll leave you standing in the middle of nowhere with nothing but your ass to sell to get back here."
    • When their relationship loosens up a bit, Toorop admits that Rule Number One for a mercenary is learning how to cook.
  • Fight Club:
    • "The first rule of Fight Club is - you do not talk about Fight Club."
    • "The second rule of Fight Club is - you do not talk about Fight Club." Just in case you were curious. Because he doesn't want the ending spoiled. That's right, he was talking to YOU LOT.
  • Fluke: Rumbo (Samuel L. Jackson) delivers a variety of Rule Number Ones throughout the movie as a catch phrase.
  • In the film Goodfellas, Henry learns the two most important things in life:
    Jimmy: Never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut.
  • The Gumball Rally:
    Franco: Remember the number one rule of Italian racing.
    [Franco grabs the rear view mirror and breaks it off of its mount]
    Franco: What's-a behind me is not important.
  • James Bond
    • You Only Live Twice has Tiger Tanaka, the head of the Japanese secret service, introducing Bond to his harem of Japanese beauties who proceed to bathe him while Bond is relaxing in an onsen.
      Tanaka: Rule #1 is never do anything for yourself when someone else can do it for you.
      Bond: And #2?
      Tanaka: Rule #2: In Japan, men always come first, women come second.
      Bond: I might just retire to here.
    • Live and Let Die. Bond seduces the virginal Solitaire for information (citing Lesson No. 1: no secrets between lovers) only to find out she doesn't know much about what the Big Bad is up to on his Island Base. So Bond is determined to go look for himself and makes it clear that she's coming with him. "Togetherness is Lesson Number 2." Solitaire asks coyly if there's time for Lesson Number 3 before they go.
  • The Karate Kid Part II:
    Mr. Miyagi: Aha... here are the Two Rules of Miyagi-Ryu Karate. Rule Number One: "Karate for defense only." Rule Number Two: "Always remember Rule Number One."
  • The Producers: There are two cardinal rules to being a Broadway Producer...
    Rule 1: Never put your own money in the show.
  • Scream (1996): Randy Meeks's rules to surviving a scary movie, with Rule Number One being, "you can never have sex".
  • Starship Troopers: "This is for all you new people: I only have one rule. Everyone fights. No one quits. You don't do your job, I'll shoot you myself. You get me?"
  • In Sword Of Gideon (1986). The first rule given to the protagonist by a Mossad firearms instructor is always use a Double Tap when shooting someone. "Fumph-fumph never goddamn fumph!"
  • The Transporter:
    • The eponymous "transporter" Frank Martin has three rules: 1) don't alter the deal after it's been made. 2) No names. 3) Never open the package he's been asked to transport. All his troubles start when he breaks the third rule and finds the "package" is a Bound and Gagged young Asian woman. As a result, he ends up breaking the first two rules as well.
    • In the sequel Frank has a Rule #4 which is "Never make a promise you can't keep." He promises to protect his young charge; when the boy is kidnapped, the Big Bad informs Frank he's going to have to break that rule. Fat chance.
  • Twins (1988): The rules of a crisis situation.
    Rule 1: Don't move too soon.
    Rule 2: If you choose to bluff, you must be prepared to have your bluff called.
    Rule 3: Duck.
  • Zombieland has Columbus' list of 32 rules for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.
    Rule 1: Cardio.
    Rule 2: Double Tap.
    Rule 3: Beware of bathrooms.
    Rule 17: Don't be a hero.
    Rule 17: Be a hero.
  • When a drunk Carl gets into a bar fight in Yes-Man. "First we need to set a few ground rules. The first ground run is... There are no ground rules!" [Throws a surprise punch hitting a bystander instead of the guy he's in the fight with.]

  • A common gag sign at workplaces:
    Rule #1: The boss is always right.
    Rule #2: If the boss is wrong, refer to Rule #1

  • The Acts of Caine: Matthew Stover's Caine has three rules. They really boil down to "I'm the boss and can kill you to maintain this authority", and serve more to operate as a coercive threat than as a code of behaviour. If he ever asks you "What's Rule Two?", then you are in deep shit.
  • In Alice in Wonderland, the King of Hearts reads out Rule Forty-two: "All persons more than a mile high to leave the court."
    "Well, I sha'n't go, at any rate," said Alice: "besides, that's not a regular rule: you invented it just now."
    "It's the oldest rule in the book," said the King.
    "Then it ought to be Number One," said Alice.
  • A Civil Campaign: Miles Vorkosigan's cousin Ivan, critiquing someone else's covert op that almost failed miserably: "You play games like that with the big boys, you'd better make damn sure you win, Miles says. Rule One. And there is no Rule Two."
  • In Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Richard is breaking into his girlfriend's apartment when he receives a mysterious phone call describing "the rules of breaking into an apartment". Rule number one is "never answer the phone". It continues in much the same vein, including the caller saying Richard would see him if he looked out the window and then, as Richard sees a distant flashbulb go off, explaining Rule four is "Never stand where you can be photographed", and:
    Caller: Rule five ... Are you listening to me, MacDuff?
    Richard: What? Yes. How do you know me?
    Caller: Rule five. Never admit your name.
  • Dream Park: Al the Barbarian, leader of one of the competing teams in The California Voodoo Game, has a Rule Number One for live-action adventure gaming:
    "Something in the next shadow is waiting to eat your face."
  • Garrett, P.I. gives us Morley Dotes's Rule #1: "Never get involved with a woman crazier than yourself."
  • The Great Greene Heist: Jackson has a set of rules for his High-School Hustler antics. Rule #1 is "No matter how simple a job looks, always plan before you act. A poorly constructed plan usually yields undesirable results." It's a rule Jackson is good at sticking to.
  • During Journey to Chaos, Nolien remembers that the 1st rule of healers is "do no harm", right after his status buff drives his teammate to monsanity to defeat a swarm of monsters.
  • From Mass Effect: Revelation:
    "I have two rules I follow," Saren explained. "The first is: never kill someone without a reason."
    "And the second?" Anderson asked, suspicious.
    "You can always find a reason to kill someone."
  • Sharpe: Richard Sharpe has three rules for the men who serve under him: 1) Don't get drunk without permission. 2) Don't steal unless it is from the enemy or you are starving. 3) When it is time to fight, fight like bastards.
  • From The Middle of Nowhere, the second volume of David Gerrold's Star Wolf trilogy, trainee Apprentice Engineer Robert Gatineau discovers through multiple encounters that Rule #1 is "Whatever your superior officer says it is."
  • In Terry Pratchett's novel Thief of Time, the elderly martial arts master Lu-Tze often reminds people about Rule One. Unfortunately for them, not everyone gets the message. Rule One is: "Never act incautiously when confronted by a little bald wrinkly smiling man!" Then there's Rule Nineteen, which is "Never forget Rule One, and ask yourself why it was invented in the first place." As you can probably guess, Lu-Tze is the reason Rule One exists, and you should never let his silly tricks or his habit of feigning helplessness make you forget Rule One.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Andy Griffith Show episode "The Big House", Barney Fife lays down the law for two new inmates at the jail:
    Barney: Now, here at the Rock we have two basic rules. Memorize them, so that you can say them in your sleep. The first rule is: Obey all rules. Secondly, do not write on the walls, as it takes a lot of work to erase writing off of walls.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
  • Unproduced 2008 TV pilot Captain Cook's Extraordinary Atlas (available here) mentions three rules that were followed by Captain James Cook when exploring the more fantastic areas of the Earth, and that were supposed to be followed by subsequent "navigators".
  • Harry taught Dexter a code to control his psychopathic tendencies. It had whole sections to make sure he only went after bad guys, but as he tells James Doakes toward the end of season 2 in response to the suggesting that he turn himself in, Rule Number One was always Don't Get Caught. According to Harry, that was the point of the whole endeavor, keeping Dexter alive; thus it's the first rule. Of course, no one wants anyone, even oneself, to know that he's turned his adopted son into a gory weapon of his own vigilantism. Not that it's cut-and-dried.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Dragonfire": The Doctor welcomes a new companion:
      The Doctor: Do you fancy a quick trip around the twelve galaxies and then back to Perivale in time for tea?
      Ace: Ace!
      The Doctor: But, there are three rules. One: I'm in charge.
      Ace: Whatever you say, Professor.
      The Doctor: Two, I'm not the Professor, I'm the Doctor.
      Ace: Whatever you want.
      The Doctor: And the third... Well, I'll think up the third by the time we get back to Perivale.
      • In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Set Piece Ace, seemingly left with no choice but to kill the Doctor to save the universe, flashes back to this conversation (and occasions when the Doctor had to make similar decisions) and decides that the third rule her rule is "No-one deserves to be sacrificed".
    • In the new series, the following is said to companions, not that they ever listen:
    • In "Human Nature", the Doctor leaves a set of 23 numbered rules for Martha to follow while he's transformed into a human and unaware of his true identity. In actuality, there were only about five instructions in the script (as Martha fast-forwards through most of them), and David Tennant hilariously ad-libbed dialogue for the skipped parts.
      • In the original Human Nature novel, the list the Doctor gave Benny only has nine rules on it. The five Tennant actually gives are there, including the one about pears.
    • River Song's personal Rule One is "The Doctor lies." It turns out she was given that rule by the Doctor, along with Rule 7: "Never run when you're scared," Rule 27: "Never knowingly be serious," and Rule 408: "You should always waste time when you don't have any. Time is not the boss of you."
    • The Doctor's friend Iris Wildthyme has "Wildthyme's Law Rule Number One", which changes every time to something pertinent to the current situation. Among other things, this rule has been "Grab the nearest bottle and hope for the best" and "A girl never knows when she may need to get the party started."
    • In "Spyfall", the Doctor tells her companions that the first rule of espionage is "Trust no-one." Given that the Doctor is a natural rulebreaker, it's not surprising she forgets the rule and gets in trouble. The trope is amusingly lampshaded later on.
      Yaz: Ryan, you're panicking. Rule 1—no panicking.
      Ryan: I thought Rule 1 was don't trust anybody?
  • Emergency! In "The Promotion", Roy and Dixie discuss 'Rule Number One': Don't get emotionally involved with the patients. The ep showed how hard it can be to keep to this rule, given what first responders see in their work.
  • The Girls Guide To Depravity is all about a set of rules for women in dating and sexual situations. Even the women who are following them know they're fairly dangerous.
  • In The IT Crowd, "the first rule of Street Countdown... is that you really must try and tell as many people as possible about it. It's a rather fun game and the more people you tell about it the better."
  • Little Lunch: In "The Joke Competition", Atticus announces that the first rule of the joke competition is that everyone must tell a joke. This is also the second and third rules.
  • In one of the most well-known M*A*S*H episodes ("Sometimes You Hear the Bullet" - the show's first Wham Episode and its Growing the Beard moment), Henry Blake tells Hawkeye:
    Col. Blake: All I know is what they taught me at command school. There are certain rules about a war. And rule number one is young men die. And rule number two is, doctors can't change rule number one.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus reads out the faculty rules of the Philosophy Department of the University of Woolamaloo:
    "Rule one - no pooftahs. Rule two, no member of the faculty is to maltreat the Abbos in any way whatsoever - if there's anybody watching. Rule three - no pooftahs. Rule four - I don't want to catch anyone not drinking in their room after lights out. Rule five - no pooftahs. Rule six - There Is No Rule Six! Rule seven - no pooftahs. That concludes the reading of the rules, Bruce."
  • NCIS: Gibbs' various rules, cited by the characters throughout the show. A flashback revealed them to have been inspired by his future wife on the day they met. Kate and Ziva both requested that Gibbs write the rules down, only to be told that most of the rules are for day-to-day tasks. Rules in the forties are reserved for emergencies.
    • TWO rules are apparently number one (and two rule number threes), likely due to an oversight on the part of the writers, although later confirmed to have been intentional. This was lampshaded when the female version of Gibbs from CGIS told McGee HER rule number one and suggested he write it down. McGee replies that rule number one has been taken, twice. The other one was inherited from Mike Franks, Gibbs' boss when he first became an NCIS Agent. Mike Franks told Gibbs that he didn't need a list of rules; he only needed "Three Golden Rules". It has not been revealed which of the rules are Gibbs' and which are Franks, nor has the second Rule Number 2.
    • In one episode, other main characters remember Gibbs's rules through flashbacks, note that some of the numbers get taken more than once, or that two different number rules say the same thing, and start wondering if Gibbs just makes them up on the fly.
    • Two episodes have shown Gibbs updating his rules:
      • "Rule 51" is about the titular rule "Sometimes, you're wrong."
      • "Rule 91", Mark Harmon's final episode as Gibbs, is also about the titular rule, which is an addendum to Rule 11 "When the job is done, walk away" which admitted to having following - "When you decide to walk away, don't look back".
    • Abby Sciuto has her own Rule 1: Don't lie to Abby.
  • Porridge: According to Mr. Mackay, there are only two rules in Slade Prison. Rule number 1: Do not write on the walls. And rule number 2: Obey all the rules. What's strange is that in the same scene he brings up a rule against more than three prisoners congregating in a cell.
  • Psych: In "Scary Sherry: Bianca's Toast", Gus has very specific rules for going in the abandoned mental institution.
    "I will not enter a room first. I will not enter a room last. I will not investigate any suspicious noises or go looking for a fuse box. And you will not, under any circumstances, leave me by myself without a weapon of some sort. Do you understand and agree to my terms? "
  • In Red Dwarf, Kryten would often quote the Space Corps Directives, with a number each time. Rimmer would try to do the same, but get the numbers wrong; for example, quoting Directive 34124, which Kryten informed him was "No officer with false teeth should attempt oral sex in zero gravity."
  • Robocop The Series had an episode featuring Murphy's old partner, a cop with a set of rules amounting to "no vigilantism". When said cop was brainwashed, Robo brought him back by making him say his rules. A minute later, he was killed with a rocket launcher.
  • The Slammer: According to Mr Burgess there are two rules to Dance Club. Rule number 1: You must dance! And rule number two: No fizzy drinks near the stage!
  • Spaced: Fight Club is parodied in "Robot Club":
    Robot Club Leader: Gentlemen, welcome to Robot Club. The first rule of Robot Club is, you do not talk about Robot Club. The second rule of Robot Club is, YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT Ro? wait, I? got that wrong. [Unfolding a crumpled up piece of paper and pushing up his glasses] The second rule is, no smoking.
    Tim: Why aren't we allowed to smoke?
    Mike: Shh, we're not allowed to talk about it.
  • Fetch with Ruff Ruffman, during Season 1's first episode, Ruff makes it very clear he doesn't want Studio G to ever be called "The Garage" as it makes him feel insecure.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Ferengi are immensely fond of quoting Rules of Acquisition.
      First Rule of Acquisition: Once you have their money, you never give it back.
      33rd Rule of Acquisition: It never hurts to suck up to the boss.
      45th Rule of Acquisition: Expand or die.
      Unwritten Rule of Acquisition: When no appropriate rule applies, make one up.
    • Played with: the first Rule of Acquisition was presented as #162 - to create a demand for #1 through #161, and according to Quark's vision, they're only rules because the "Guidelines of Acquisition" doesn't have the same selling power. A complete list of the rules (canon and non-canon) can be found here.
    • Ensign Robin Lefler, who appeared in one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, "The Game", had "Lefler's Laws", a list of rules she made up for herself. She still uses them when she becomes a main character in Star Trek: New Frontier.
    • The Prime Directive is the Federation's Rule Number One.
    • Played for Laughs in Star Trek: Enterprise when our heroes are headed to Risa for shore leave and Trip wears a Hawaiian shirt that nearly makes T'Pol's ears bleed:
      T'Pol: If you're wearing that to impress the women on Risa, you may as well stay on board.
      Trip: Rule Number One: You gotta be seen to get noticed, and I plan on gettin' noticed.
      Archer: Don't say she didn't warn you.
  • Thunder in Paradise: Spence & Bru continuously quote different "rule[s] #2" at each other, but never get around to mentioning Rule #1.
  • A short-lived BBC sitcom called World Of Pub had "Drink Club", where prize-winning hard drinker Raymundo Rinaldo Rivaldo (played by Peter Serafinowicz) trains others in the art of drinking, but spends the entire first session reciting the 82 rules of Drink Club. The first nine rules of Drink Club are... well, guess. The tenth rule?
    Raymundo: The tenth rule of Drink Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. It is a terrible film with a stupid Twist Ending. Rivaldo will not have it mentioned!

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Progress Wrestling has as stated by co-owner Jim Smallman and the fans in attendance at the start of every show - 'Don't be a dick!' Also, if it's your first Progress show 'It's your round.'

  • In football, there is an old rule. Rule One says that the referee is always right. Rule 1a is a law that says if the referee is ever wrong, refer to Rule One. In other words - put up, shut up and don't argue.

  • In Franklin's Big Adventure, a stage show based on the Franklin television show and books, Franklin is seriously weirded out by the seeming oddness of the museum-guide, Carbunkel, who presents herself as a "highly respected professional guide person" and among other things presents a list of rules for the museum visit with the help of a group of singers, in the middle of a song she's singing herself.
    Miss Carbunkel: But before we make our way beyond those doors, there are a few things we must all be aware of.
    Vocalists: Rrrule number one!
    Miss Carbunkel: Stay together. We can't have you youngsters running all over the place.
    Vocalists: Rrrule number two!
    Miss Carbunkel: Don't touch anything! The museum is filled with old and very delicate objects that haven't felt the warmth of a human hand in thousands of years. And...
    Vocalists: Rrrule number three!
    Miss Carbunkel: When I say "Hello!," I want you to say hello right back at me!

    Video Games 
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: In the 'Heist' multiplayer:
    Don Weaso: Rule number one: My way, or 'he's a dead mother(bleep)' way.
  • Gears of War has only one rule (or Golden Rule, if you wish): Take cover or die.
  • In Injustice 2, courtesy of Black Manta:
    Black Manta: First rule: Don't leave loose ends.
  • Mark of the Ninja: Right at the start of the game:
    Ora: Rule number one: Don't get me killed.
  • Mass Effect 2: While on Omega:
    Aria T'Loak: Omega has no titled ruler and only one rule: Don't fuck with Aria.
  • Star Wars: Republic Commando: There are quite a few the Commandos quote on occasion.
    Scorch: Rule #1: Kill 'em before they kill you.

    Scorch: Sev, did that corpse give you a nasty look?
    Sev: Rule 17...
    Scorch: We know, always make sure they're dead.

    Scorch: Rule 23: Never pull sentry duty on an empty stomach.

    Scorch: Sev, hey, I thought you were invincible.
    Sev: Rule 39: Never say no to bacta.

    Scorch: One's an anomaly, two's a trend. Rule 89, Boss.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, Doc has a list of reasons explaining why he is sorry he became a Galaxy Ranger. He only quotes when Goose is driving.
  • Parodied in Archer, when Archer is teaching Cyril how to be an agent - every rule is "Rule Number One".
  • Batman: The Animated Series. In "Sins of the Father", Batman has taken on a new member of the Bat-Family: Tim Drake.
    Bruce: You work with me, Tim, you follow the rules. Rule No. 1: you give me everything you've got. Rule No. 2: Then you give me more. And Rule No. 3...(Tim lunges only for Bruce to take him down) *I* make the rules.
    Dick Grayson: (Walk-In Chime-In) Watch out for that last one, kid. It's a killer.
  • Dragons: Riders of Berk: In "Live and Let Fly", Hiccup establishes a secret 'Dragon Flight Club'. The first rule of Dragon Flight Club is "There is no Dragon Flight Club". This confuses the twins no end.
  • On Family Guy, Peter recounts the story of his ancestor, Moses Griffin, who led the Hebrews out of Egypt. His Rule Number One: Shut the hell up.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: In "Kung Timmy", when Timmy faces Francis in a kung-fu fight and rides a tetherball to deliver the final blow, he uses this for a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.
    Timmy: You forgot the first rule of Kung-Timmy, Francis: What goes around comes around!
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy:' In "To Eris Human", Eris shows Mandy how to spread chaos and gives her the first rule: "Everybody is a target." This motto gets turned around on her at the end, when Mandy tricks her into kissing Grim in a darkened theater, mockingly stating "First rule, Eris."
    Mandy: First rule: I rule.
  • Wolf from Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts keeps a list of Rules on the Surface that comes up regularly as a running gag. Or she's just making them up as she goes... Briefly discussed when Kipo wonders if the rules are actually numbered in that order.
  • The Simpsons: As Robert Evans told himself when working on Chinatown's sequel The Two Jakes, you must never forget Hollywood Rule Number One: kill Homer Simpson.
  • Star Wars Resistance: In "Bibo", the trouble caused by the title character causes Yeager to institute a new rule for his employees:
    "Yeager's Rule #7: No pets."

    Real Life 
  • The Sicilian Mafia.
  • The 36 Oaths of the Triads.
  • The grocery store Stu Leonard's has a sign up near the entrance that reads as follows:
    Rule #1: The customer is always right.
    Rule #2: If the customer is ever wrong, see Rule #1.
  • Rule number one on the streets: No Snitching.
  • Rule Number One of Holes: When you find yourself in one, stop digging.
  • Rule number one of combat: Don't get hit.
  • SAG-AFTRA has its Global Rule Onenote 
  • Rule Number One of first responder work (fire, ems, police) is sometimes said to be "don't get emotionally involved with the cases". Of course, it's easier said than done, but they do learn after a while.