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Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!

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"A Slayer's life is simple. Want. Take. Have."

Let's face it; in some worlds, Humans Are the Real Monsters, and the only reason that these Crapsack Worlds have a semblance of civility and law is fear of reprisal. So what happens when your typical jerkasses, sociopaths, and misanthropes get a hold of Applied Phlebotinum, a Ring of Power, are bit by a werewolf or discover that they're mutants with superpowers? Blow off society and do whatever they want!

Rather than try to be heroes who got the Call to Adventure, they will use their powers for petty crime. Want a million dollars? Just use your Eye Beams to melt open the bank vault. A lover cheated on you? Super-Strength to turn the guy's car into a cube. That beautiful house? Summon up a ghost to scare the owners away and move in once the price drops. "But what if the cops find out?!" Well, with most cases of this trope, the newly empowered criminals will either make short work of them or be totally undetectable. In truly disgusting extremes, they may walk into a restaurant (where they're known as supervillains), be rude to the waiter, not pay the bill, and then fight their way through the city's police force for it. And that's assuming the police even try to stop the super-jerks, as it won't take too many public demonstrations before the cops have to admit that it's futile.

Most of the time, these villains will be very small-time thinkers, at most terrorizing local authorities into making them sort of kings, but when some do see the big picture, you can expect them to want to Take Over the World, or even try to enslave humanity.

People with the power of invisibility are especially prone to this. Expect a hero to berate them with "You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!".

Sub-Trope of Beware the Superman. See also Might Makes Right, Appeal to Force, Smug Super, Power Perversion Potential.

Compare Drunk with Power, With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. Related to Beneath the Mask and What You Are in the Dark because superpowers reveal how a person would act without any fear of reprisal. In this trope that hidden self is anything but Lawful Good. See Super Supremacist for someone with superpowers who skips over the "get away with crime" part and goes for straight-up subjugating the non-superpowered.

The Supernatural Elite may have this sentiment — or not; they might not want the law broken if it is written to benefit them, after all.

Contrast Cut Lex Luthor a Check for the ways a supervillain could have used his or her abilities to make tons of entirely legal cash. Contrast With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, this trope's exact opposite. Compare and contrast With Great Power Comes Great Perks, where people use their power for their own benefit, but without immoral behavior.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The majority of Campione!'s titular warriors hold the belief that their status grants them the right to do whatever they please. Godou Kusanagi is an exception. The magic associations have learned to accept this and simply try their best to earn favor so Campiones will be less likely to destroy them and their countries out of irritation.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch uses his Geass to not get caught leaving the school campus when it's not allowed, as well as other, unspecified rule-breaking so that his second life leading the rebellion won't interfere so much with his cover as an Ordinary High-School Student.
  • Pretty much the concept behind Death Note. Light, a clever teenager lamenting the state of the world, accidentally obtains the titular Death Note in the first episode, and immediately going on a world-changing killing spree to rid the world of criminals, along with anyone that would try to stop him.
  • This is pretty much the motivation for Androids 17 and 18 of Dragon Ball Z, albeit to different extremes depending on the timeline. The androids from Future Trunks timeline killed and destroyed simply For the Evulz while those in the present timeline were more interested in petty crimes and causing trouble, rarely using lethal force against any who tried to stop them, and viewing the hunt for Son Goku as a "game." But for both versions, they caused mayhem because they were bored, nobody was powerful enough to stop them, and they spent several years in forced stasis with the words "Kill Son Goku" repeated over and over. Both eventually grow of this in the main timeline (their alternate versions get killed by Future Trunks); 17 becomes a park ranger, and 18 marries Krillin.
  • From Hell Girl, this is tried out by Mikage Yuzuki after she succeeds Ai Enma to send the one who sent her friend to hell... to hell. It doesn't go over too well and even before then, Ichimoku Ren and Honne-Onna leave.
  • Oddly inverted with Hunter × Hunter; Hunters can apparently get away with things that they probably shouldn't. Hisoka outright tells the chairman of the Hunters Association that the reason he wants to become a Hunter is that a Hunter License gets you out of most of the responsibility for committing murder. The chairman confirms this. The result is that would-be criminals wind up taking the Hunter Exam for an extra layer of legal protection. This becomes a political plot point later in the series.
  • Magical Project S: Subverted by Pretty Sammy; when she tries to break the rules, a classmate informs her that even Magical Girls have to abide by the rules.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Kobayashi encounters a wizard who is several centuries old and has been moving between Kobayashi's world and the world of dragons. To attain money for his research, he once used Clairvoyance magic to see a best selling book in Kobayashi's world centuries before the author would be alive to write it, copied it, and sold it in the world of dragons. The humans there loved it and it made him a lot of money. When called out on his plagiarism by a dragon acquaintance in Kobayashi's modern times and Kobayashi feels it is sketchy, the wizard's response is thus:
    "Works go into the public domain fifty years after the author's death. Surely that applies to fifty years before their birth too. Look, I needed research funds."
  • While not a requirement for piracy, many pirates in One Piece will take advantage of their Devil Fruit powers to enhance their criminal activities. Of course, the World Government isn't without their own supply of Devil Fruit users...
  • Stated and demonstrated by Mewtwo in Pokémon: The First Movie. When one of his human guests says that a Pokémon can't be a trainer, Mewtwo counters this argument by tossing him into a fountain via telekinesis and later proceeds to do the same with said human's Gyarados.
  • The first thing almost anybody who gets esper powers in Psychic Squad is this. While PANDRA members manage to get away with doing it a lot, most of the other espers end up caught and jailed.
    • Taken to an extreme when Kyosuke takes over a country. Why? To give the PANDRA children diplomatic immunity so they can go to school with their friends.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Using her ability to stop time, Homura Akemi stole all kinds of weaponry from the JSDF and Yakuza to help her fight Witches. All of them are stored in some kind of Bag of Holding behind her shield.
  • Rosario + Vampire: Ling-Ling Huang. So badly. She and her brother need to get Tsukune into the Haung family's mafia. After Fang-Fang's initial request and failed challenge, she drops in on another attempt when Mizore points out that he needs to offer something in return. The Red (Huang's) Team wins? Tsukune joins the mafia (the girls are free to follow him, something they don't entirely have a problem with). The White (News Club) Team wins? Tour China's hotsprings, it's on us! Cue a couple hundred Jiang Shi on the Huang family's team, armed with bombs, emotionlessness, and dismemberment. Supernatural powers are explicitly against the rules, and what's Ling-Ling's excuse? "Whatever. I'm already dead."
  • Saki: This series is often called "Yu-Gi-Oh! meets Mahjong", and true to that idea, the series is basically about Saki encountering girls with increasingly powerful supernatural abilities who use these abilities to cheat in Mahjong tournaments - and Saki beating them using her own supernatural powers.
  • Shadow Star is basically a Deconstruction of your typical Mons series, where the children with powerful critters at their beck and call are quick to abuse that power.
  • The general conflict of Talentless Nana is sparked by a generation of teens awakening to superpowers and realizing that they could get away with anything with it. It takes several years of warring between the supers and the rest of the world before they are finally contained, establishing the training academy where every Talented teen is sent upon awakening.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
      • Pegasus can read minds, this allows him to get the knowledge of his opponent's strategy and set cards. Whether it is rule-breaking or not is debatable.
      • Ishizu can see the future, allowing her to prevent bad moves and go the "good route", which is definitively unfair.
      • In the end, the Pharaoh can draw any card he wants by manipulating destiny.
      • Marik creates a Shadow Game against Joey, who he repeatedly attacks with his monsters not for the purpose of defeating Joey within the rules of the game, but by draining his energy so much that Joey passes out seconds before he would have defeated Marik. Incredibly, Kaiba declares that this is allowed and awards victory to Marik.
      • In the final against Yugi, Marik is fused to the Winged Dragon of Ra due to his creation of a Shadow Game, so is able to use a De-Fusion card to separate himself. But Marik was only fused to Ra in the Shadow Realm - in the Duel Monsters game itself, they were never fused to begin with.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light: Anubis uses his power to protect the Permanent Trap Card "Pyramid of Light" from being destroyed. Then, he uses souls to empower his Theinen the Great Sphinx and tenfolds its ATK. While tenfolding the ATK out of nowhere doesn't make sense in the English dub, Anubis actually activates Theinen's effect in the Japanese dub. Theinen gains ATK of all the monsters that are in Anubis' graveyard. After doing the math, Anubis does really have enough monsters with an amount of 31500 ATK in his graveyard.note 
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions:
      • In all of his duels, Aigami forces his opponents to play with modified rules, which include that the player has to expend their stamina to summon monsters.
      • In Kaiba's first duel with Aigami, his willpower is enough to call Obelisk the Tormentor. He doesn't even have the card in his deck. The card appears on the ground and he picks it up instead of drawing from his deck.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
      • When Judai is losing against Zure the Knight of Dark World, Freed the Brave Wanderer sacrifices his life energy to insert his own card into Judai's deck. Judai draws it and manages to win. Afterwards, the card vanishes into thin air.
      • Judai uses Super Polymerization to fuse himself with Yubel, his opponent. As you guess, the result of the duel is ambiguous.
      • Yusuke Fujiwara uses magic to make Fubiki Tenjoin forget about his own cards, putting him at a disadvantage. Fortunately, Judai and Johan show up and break the spell.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s:
      • Goodwin uses a bit of the power of the King of the Underworld to sabotage his three opponents by sending darkness condors at them. That's right. He doesn't use Monster Cards, but outside force. To make it worse, when Crow and Jack crash because of him, Goodwin uses the Riding Duel rules against them, even though he doesn't ride a D-Wheel to begin with.
      • Yusei and Jack often manage to create and add new cards to their decks mid-duel.
      • In the manga version, Akiza and Sherry have different psychic powers that give them an advantage in duels. Akiza can predict what card she will draw while Sherry can look through her opponent's eyes to see the cards in their hands.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL:
      • A lot of fans think that Yuma's ability to use Shining Draw in ZEXAL Mode pushes the limits of fair play, but you can excuse him, seeing as the villains cheat worse. Eliphas, however, you cannot. His godlike powers and authority over the Astral World let him use the Shining Draw ability any time he wants (the equivalent of magical deck-stacking), as opposed to Yuma, who can use it at most twice per duel, and only in ZEXAL Mode. To make this worse, Eliphas sort of broke the bank on broken cards, his ace monster being a Rank 13 Xyz Monster that was able to gain 33 Overlay Units. (Most real players would consider that, well, impossible.) Ironically, despite this blatant cheating, Yuma was able to defeat him without Astral's help, using a Rank 1 Xyz Monster.
      • In one of Yuma's duels against Vector, Vector is poised to win, as he has a Trap that will destroy Yuma's "Rank-Up-Magic Limited Barian's Force", which is the only card left in his deck, as soon as he draws it and then inflict enough damage to beat him. How does Yuma avoid this? He uses Shining Evolution to change the card as soon as he draws it to "Rank-Up-Magic Numeron Force". Vector calls him out and accuses him of cheating, but given Vector's atrocities and broken cards, Yuma doesn't care and beats him.
      • Yuma uses all of ZEXAL Modes and Shining Draw abilities in his duel against Don Thousand. Yuma's partner Nasch also uses his Barian's Chaos Draw during the duel. To be fair, Thousand is a Purposely Overpowered villain with overpowered, game-breaking, and cheap monsters, and if they don't win, they will die and the world is over.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: In the first episode, Yuya's pendant suddenly changes several of his cards mid-duel into Pendulum Cards. He is accused of cheating afterwards. Later, when Yuya fuses with Yuto, he is often able to change his cards mid-duel into Yuto's cards.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • A LOT of supervillains tend to do this. Not just typical supervillains either. Some are former heroes...
  • Mark Waid and Peter Krause's Irredeemable shows us what happens when a Superman-level hero suddenly decides that he's completely sick of humanity and its infantile whining. During the first few pages, we learn that the Plutonian has already killed millions by basically nuking a city and we personally see him incinerate one of his former allies in his own home, killing his wife and children as well. The series takes us along as his former mates try to stop him, but even they fear him as they would an angry god.
  • Brian Michael Bendis' Powers also briefly explores this fallen-hero theme (much like Irredeemable, but only for a short story arc). This trope gets uttered almost literally in one issue, where a man walks up to a bank teller and tells her simply, "I have powers. Give me all the money."
  • There's a similar example to the one above in the Marvel Comics series Exiles, where, in an alternate reality, Blob walks into a bank and hands the teller a note saying "This is a robbery. I am a bulletproof mutant. Quietly hand over the money." A security guard starts firing at him, and Blob merely shouts "Can't you people read?"
  • "Mark Milton", aka Hyperion in Supreme Power gets this revelation along with some basic Übermensch/The Unfettered philosophy when he learns he's an alien and was lied to since birth to make him a tool of the government.
  • U-Go-Girl of X-Men spinoff team X-Statix originally decided to use her teleportation to commit crime, intelligently - stealing tons of petty stuff and not challenging any superheroes. She got bored of it after 15 minutes when she got everything she always wanted and ended up returning it and becoming a superheroine instead.
  • The entire story of Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! The more power the Human Flame gets, the more petty his behaviour becomes. (And he was a minor-league supervillain to start with.) Note that in the first few issues, he betrays his wife and daughter and sets small dogs on fire. It gets worse from there.
  • Pretty much the basic premise of Wanted. The Fraternity was a group of supervillains who had triumphed and actually retconned the superheroes out of their reality. As a result, anyone with superpowers was a member of the Fraternity, and anyone wearing a Fraternity badge, or driving a car with Fraternity plates could get away with anything and everything.
  • The kids in Runaways pretty much do this, but they only screw some rules. They aren't actually breaking every law they think of. Just child protection laws, truancy rules, etc. They're still superheroes after all.
  • The Invisible Man from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen uses his invisibility to kill a police officer and steal his clothes because he was cold. This is perfectly in character with the original (see under "Literature", below).
  • Invincible mentions this during a crossover with The Astounding Wolf-Man. When Wolf-Man asks if Invincible will get in trouble for breaking government property and beating up superheroes, Invincible shrugs it off, saying that as long as he's strong enough to save the earth, he gets a pass. While he often blows off the rules for good reason, Invincible increasingly starts to believe that because he's the most powerful superhero on Earth, the rules don't apply to him at all. This is treated as a decidedly negative trait and eventually backfires badly.
  • The Authority, though for their case it might be more of 'Screw The Rules I Have Supernatural Powers - And I Will Make New Rules!'
  • The New 52 version of young Superman in Action Comics and the first story arc of Justice League, which take place in his early superhero years. He laughs at the cops, throws CEOs into rivers, chokes Batman, etc. He grows out of it and is much more humble in the present.
  • In The Boys every superhero is this. They have superpowers and they decide that they can do anything they want, and feel that the government can't stop them. Thing is, they are actually wrong. While Vought American, a large defense contractor that has created all the superheroes in the setting, is willing to cover up and/or whitewash the exploits of their supers for the sake of profit and good PR, the company can and will deal with them if the incidents cannot be spun or are hurting their bottom line. The best example of this is what happened to the X-Men expies G-Men. The government and Vought American knew that the team founder John Goldokin was an unrepentant pedophile and child abductor that had abused all the children under his care, but they were still willing to turn a blind eye to this because the G-Men were one of the most popular and profitable superhero teams. All things changed once V.A. realized that Goldokin's perversions and instability were out of control (he requested permission to create another preschool team) and after public scandals like the suicide of Jean Grey expy Silver Kincaid, the higher-ups realized that the team were a public relations liability and ordered a team of Red River operatives to deal with them. The subsequent fight saw the G-Men getting massacred with frightful efficiency.

    Fan Works 
  • This attitude, to varying degrees, is a key plot driver in Child of the Storm. For instance, the British Wizarding World has this attitude in regard to the Muggle world, which is why Peter Wisdom a.k.a. Regulus Black is determined to use MI13 to bring them to heel by force.
    • Ironically enough, the Avengers also tend to only obey the rules either when it suits them, or when they're on duty. They're a bit of a variation of the usual trope in that they do care for ordinary people and take great pains to protect them - they just don't really have time for mortal authorities and their politics. Indeed, most of the heroes (with certain exceptions) tend to regard rules as things to be obeyed when convenient, and the problems of this attitude are lampshaded and discussed, with some responses to it - e.g. Victor von Doom's sending Doombots to test and assess the Avengers, preparing for the day when they decide they want him gone is portrayed as understandable, and others, e.g. HYDRA and the Death Eaters coming together originally precisely because they're afraid the Avengers will go after them, are portrayed as the inevitable result of the Avengers' methods and tactics. As Word of God notes, just because the heroes hold this attitude does not mean it is a good thing. For one thing, a lot of the villains hold it too.
    • As per canon, the entire reason the White Council exists, according to Ebenezar McCoy, is to hold this attitude in check among wandless Wizards (as it often leads to dark magic) and protect ordinary humanity from those less pleasant species that would use and abuse them, which is also why they often stay aloof of mortal disputes (for one thing, grudges and feuds can last for centuries with ordinary human lifespans. Wizards live for most of half a millennium). It's also the reason they heartily dislike/are wary of Doctor Strange, who has absolutely no qualms about getting involved in mortal politics, and persuades, manipulates, or outright bullies pretty much everyone into doing what he wants - he is, after all, the key representative of unchecked power. While Strange has his own, largely justified, reasons for what he does, you can see the Council's point.
  • Light in The Prince Of Death decides to be more of a Jerkass than usual when L is having a meeting with the Kira Taskforce and isn't paying enough attention to him. He regains L's attention by telling the room full of cops he's the original Kira (and instigating a (cat)fight with Naomi by gloating over the fact that he killed her boyfriend) knowing full well that there is absolutely nothing they can do about it now that he has become a literal God of Death:
    Light: I was hoping for something a little more entertaining... But I'm bored. This is pointless! You've already caught the Kira that killed her dear boyfriend. Just tell her!
    Ukita: A-Already caught? B-But L who-?
    Light is smirking
    Ukita: Don't tell me its-
    Naomi: (to Light) You killed him? (to L) Why is he alive? Why is he just-
    Light: Direct your anger at me. I am the one you want dead.
    Naomi aims a gun at him
    L: Please put your gun down.
    Naomi: Y-You killed him? You're really the one responsible?
    Light: Yes. You should know that-
    Naomi (tightening grip around the gun): Know what?
    L: Light. Please put her away.
    Light (unsummons deathscythe): That was actually the first time I used her too.
  • In The Conversion Bureau, Celestia is rendered as this. She's a goddess and doesn't have to answer to any of the shaved apes. In other stories she tries this, only to find the shaved apes can hit back.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, Sarah believes strongly in this. Because Might Makes Right—that is, she was given enough powers to accomplish the mission her creators gave no matter the resistance—she ignores rules about mass killings or imprisonment, citing a greater threat. From her perspective, the only rules that matter are the ones she was given, backed by her ability to annihilate anyone dumb enough to stand in her way.
  • In the Pokémon: The Series fanfic "Resident Hybrid infection", quite a few characters transformed by the hybrid virus seem to be operating on this philosophy, with even Iris seeing nothing wrong with infecting Cilan so that he can join her as a hybrid, while Ash is fighting to keep control of himself even as the transformed May and Serena try to seduce him.
  • In All Your Base are Belong to Her, Dawn embodies this to an epic degree. She was bad enough back in the Buffyverse, where a small remnant of her awakened Key abilities remained active even after Buffy sacrificed herself, allowing her to defeat any lock. When she enters SG-1's universe, however, and discovers that Key+Portal Network=Teleportation abilities, she lives this trope with joyful abandon. Basically, if there is something shiny, fashionable, or valuable lying unattended anywhere in Colorado, she'll get around to taking it eventually.
  • President Business convinces Emmet that the Master Builders are like this in A Piece of Rebellion. Supposedly, they think that their powers mean they should be able to do whatever they want, without caring how it affects ordinary civilians.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: Twilight Sparkle is convinced that the laws limiting knowledge of certain fields of magic (such as mind-control spells) only apply to other ponies. Ponies who don't have a cutie mark talent in spells and the power to teleport into and out of locked archives.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Jumper: The titular character uses his Flashy Teleportation to rob banks.
  • The telekinetic guy from the movie Sidekick (not to be confused with the trope Sidekick) begins using his powers for little practical jokes and stuff like that, but by the end, he's murdering people left and right.
  • Star Wars: Pretty much the entire concept of the dark side.
  • A significant part of Hancock's attempt to clean up his act is to convince the public that he doesn't live by this trope and that they can hold him accountable for his actions, willingly serving prison time for instance, until he's called back in to help.
  • The main characters in Chronicle, most of the time, use their telekinesis to cheat at beer pong and play pranks on innocent shoppers. And try to lay waste to half of Seattle.
  • Bruce Almighty's crimes include, among other things, vandalism (breaking a fire hydrant), theft (swapping his clothes for those in a shop), sexual harassment (blowing a girl's skirt up), and assault (the butt monkey). And that's just one scene.
  • Brandon Breyer of Brightburn goes so far into this that he emerges into Beware the Superman territory.
  • The four male witches in The Covenant like to play pranks with their powers, including blowing a girl's skirt up to settle a bet on her panties. The guy who wins is the one who claimed she hasn't worn panties since she was 13.
  • In the Name of the King: The Evil Sorcerer Gallian claims that rules (or even basic morality) don't apply to him. He even uses Loophole Abuse to allow him to use his powers without serving a king, even though that seems to violate the rules of the magi. How? By declaring himself to be the king of the Krug (mindless beasts he has uplifted), thus serving himself. Then again, it's heavily implied that it only works because Gallian is mad enough to believe it.
  • The Mask: The Mask is a chaotic, wild madman so he does not care about any rules that come along but he is harmless and a caring, compassionate, good-hearted, kind, Nice Guy which makes him care about innocent lives. He also spares people who annoy him and the police as well despite them trying to arrest him. This trope is played much straighter in the original comics, where every single person who gets ahold of The Mask misuses it after becoming Big Head; The Mask exists to cause chaos, and the wearer is practically invulnerable and can create anything their demented mind can dream up. And while Big Head can get into any number of cartoon shenanigans without harm, the world around him can't. For instance, the two mechanics Stanley Ipkiss takes revenge on in the movie? They don't survive his "funny" revenge.
  • Inverted with Phil Lovecraft in Cast a Deadly Spell who, in an alternate 1940s Los Angeles where magic use is rife and corruption resulting from it endemic, distinguishes himself by not using magic in order to keep his integrity, to the point where he is one of the few people in the city who does; essentially, he's a case of Screw The Supernatural Powers, I Have Rules:
    Connie: And what makes you so special?
    Lovecraft: What makes me special is I'm my own man. When I started out I said there were things I'd do and things I wouldn't do. A lot of guys start out like that, and a lot of them sell out along the way. But the more who fall, the easier it gets. "See, look, everybody compromises, everybody cheats, everybody uses magic." So they empty their ideals out of their pockets and get down to the job of sticking it to their neighbors before they stick it to them, because that's the way it's done. To all of which I say nuts. My collar may be a little frayed, and maybe I need a shoeshine. But nobody's got a mortgage on my soul. I own it. Free and clear.

  • In Not Just A Witch, the villain wants to make money with the fur of snow leopards, and for this reason tricks the titular witch into turning all inmates of a prison into snow leopards, by pretending he just wants to keep the beautiful animals as living garden decoration.
  • In Masques, this is played straight with the villain, and (sort of) averted with Aralorn, who works as a spy, for a neutral faction. As a shapechanger, she would make a very good thief, but apparently she isn't interested in that.
  • In the novel Jinx High by Mercedes Lackey, a Vain Sorceress uses her magical powers to rule the local high school.
  • The title character in The Invisible Man also uses invisibility to steal and tries to plunge England into a reign of terror.
  • Examined and played with, heavily, in The Dresden Files. Most supernatural beings feel no compunction towards obeying mortal authority or believe themselves allowed to ignore the laws (case in point: the Wardens executing warlocks).
    • Played with, however, in the supernatural world's set of laws codified by the wonderfully wicked Mab: the Unseelie Accords, laws to govern how magical beings behave towards one another. Most heavy players follow these laws - save for Nicodemus, who believes that his immortality and powers mean he shouldn't need to bow his head to anybody. As it turns out, Mab doesn't agree- and he learns this, to his regret.
    • Also, in the novel Cold Days, Harry finds very quickly that the Sidhe always honor their agreements very strictly because Winter (or Summer) Law is so absolute that violating it never even occurs to them. Harry, being Harry, finds out what instantly happens when he tries. As the Winter Knight, his broken back and other injuries return immediately since Mab's Mantle vanishes when he violates Winter Law.
    • The White Council and their Laws of Magic also exist to limit power. When speaking with Captain Luccio, Harry brings up the fact that the Laws cover Black Magic but not things like murder without using magic, theft, etc. Luccio points out that if the Council attempted to punish countries for their crimes, they would have to go after, say, America, for its treatment of Native Americans. Which would get the American wizards upset (since they support the country even though it's done some bad things), which would eventually lead to civil war. In order to keep the Council from fracturing, they would need to take control of the wizards, for which they would need Black Magic. Which the Laws cover already.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Talents 'verse (To Ride Pegasus trilogy and Tower and the Hive series), in the early days, the psychics form a group with a code of behavior in order to try to avert this trope. When a girl more powerful than any other psychic in the world learns how to use her powers (ironically because she saw a public service announcement by the group) she goes on a crime spree which eventually results in murder and her own death. In later books, every Talent of significant strength is brought into the fold early and taught to use their powers responsibly.
  • The Kitty Norville books spend a great deal of time thinking about this trope. In one of the earlier books, there's a big discussion on why (and why not) they don't often see supernaturals knocking over banks and the like. This is definitely averted with main character Kitty, but she does run into a lot of people who feel differently, especially as the series progresses.
  • In an extreme example, in The Riftwar Cycle novels, the Great Ones of Tsuranuanni were legally outside the law. They could literally do anything unless the Assembly of Magicians (a council formed of all of the Great Ones) ruled that they couldn't (only done once in story - to declare that they could not free slaves). Beyond that, they could arbitrarily declare - and be obeyed - that people shut down their businesses, entire noble clans commit mass suicide, wars be arbitrarily ended, or anything else they could think of.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe discusses this in Fate of the Jedi. It's nice that the Jedi listen to a higher authority nobody else can hear. Somewhat less nice when one realizes that the Sith apparently receive guidance from that same higher authority. And that the Force can't be sworn in as a witness in a court of law.
  • In the Animorphs series, David sees nothing wrong with using his newly acquired powers for casual theft. Fortunately, the other heroes are a bit more moral.
    • The other Animorphs might count as well, considering that David gets the idea to use his powers for theft from the heroes in the first place.
    • The other Animorphs are examples, often using their powers for things like stealing a car dealership's mascot, cheating on a science project (finding out why a rat didn't want to run a maze), sneaking into concerts, ruining a restaurant's reputation (Cassie didn't like them using captive parrots), and spying on people. While they don't often resort to outright theft (f they did it was for things like an embarrassing doodle accidentally given to a teacher or a piece of alien tech stolen from a Controller), it's not uncommon to see them do such things in the early books because it made things easier, or it was funny.
  • The protagonist of Jumper used his teleporting powers to wage a one-man vigilante anti-terrorism campaign. In the 1990s. In a moment almost ripped from a buddy comedy, he kidnapped both the terrorist leader and the NSA agent following him, then left them on an island surrounded by freezing-cold water in a large, sheer-walled pit in the desert.
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan Darren's friend Steve wanted to be a vampire so he can kill people whenever he wants.
  • In The Vampire Chronicles this tendency becomes more pronounced as vampires age, and their powers and invulnerability increase. By the time they have reached a point where they are a Flying Brick with Psychic Powers, the rules of both humanity and weaker vampires become distinctly less important to them.
  • Most Epics have this mindset in The Reckoners Trilogy. Epics generally view normal humans as expendable at best; many Epics enjoy killing and/or torturing unpowered individuals for shits and giggles. The Capitulation Act states that Epics are now legally outside the law. They are basically classified as forces of nature, and trying to pass a law forbidding Epics from doing whatever the hell they want is about as pointless as forbidding volcanoes from erupting. On the other hand, if you do manage to kill an Epic, no human authority is going to prosecute you.
  • More or less the motto of the Bondsmagi in the Gentleman Bastard series. When the old Therin emperor tried to regulate them, they sent him their fee schedule. When he followed up with an army, they annihilated it, then incinerated his capital city for good measure, establishing twin policies of Join or Die for anyone with magical talent and ruthless Disproportionate Retribution against anyone who challenges them.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: A bit more "screw the rules, I control supernaturally powered beasts". When the Targaryen dynasty came to Westeros, they practiced incest and polygamy. A major stumbling block for the first 4 kings was that both these things were forbidden by the dominant Faith of the Seven on the continent. note  However, while the Faith had tradition and religious zeal, the Targs had DRAGONS! And while they didn't have the firepower to explicitly screw the rules (plus pragmatism), they eventually got a special dispensation that proclaimed their family as unique under heaven, and able to implicitly practice at least the incest (polygamy fell out after the last king to practice it was a tyrant).
  • The Stormlight Archive: In Alethkar (and most likely other Vorin nations like Jah Keved), Shardbearers are above most laws. It is illegal to imprison them; they can only be executed, and of course only for the most heinous of crimes. In most cases, when a Shardbearer is accused of a crime, the accuser is imprisoned for slander without anyone even bothering to see if the accusation is justified. While a large part of this is due to the Alethi's degeneration into Blood Knights and their worship of the kind of slaughter that Shardbearers can wreak, there is a pragmatic side as well. Since they bear Shardblades that they can summon at any time and use to cut through anything, imprisoning them is a laughable prospect. Though note that it is possible to force a Shardbearer to give up his Blade without killing him. It's just the Alethi see ownership of Shards as a sacred right and refuse to take them except in duels.
  • This attitude is almost universal among the Princes in The Chronicles of Amber, since their principal power is walking between dimensions. There can be no consequences for the actions they take out in 'Shadow' (their word for any dimension except their own) since they can simply depart after they have what they want. They also for the most part view people from "shadow" dimensions as being less real than themselves, leaving them with few qualms about, say, conning hundreds of thousands of them into dying for the cause. Some of them later on start to realize this is, perhaps, an oversimplified view.
  • Mitchell Calrus/Xio tries this in Fine Structure. He fails in an epic fashion, not by getting caught but by being incredibly obvious and inefficacious. Seph spends several paragraphs afterwards harping about how he is a "terrible, ineffective supervillain".
  • Taylor, of Worm, comes to essentially this conclusion about the existence of parahumans; that they cause the system of human civilization to break down around them because it wasn't designed to deal with people like Alexandria, who can fly faster than a jet, is smarter than any ten geniuses, and is Nigh-Invulnerable, or her, who can essentially perceive everything that happens within five city blocks. Instead of using her powers for her own gain, however, she decides to try to find a system that does work.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series: In "The Mule", The Mule literally breaks destiny itself by up-ending the Seldon Plan thanks to his ability to make vast numbers of people do what he wants. He becomes the single most successful Galactic Conqueror in the history of the Milky Way.
  • Discussed in Card Force Infection in the context of infected cards — since they're created by the eponymous infection, they're technically unauthorized, but the question is raised as to whether they can feasibly be banned for that reason, or if the devil would just laugh.
  • This is not unknown among the cultivators of Beware of Chicken. One particularly nasty example is Zang Li, who is introduced by commanding a random beauty to come back with him and share his bed that night, in the full expectation that she will comply and nobody will do anything about it because he thinks he's the most powerful cultivator in the neighborhood. This is also why Jin freaks out when he realizes that he actually is the most powerful cultivator in the province: he's terrified that having that kind of power will inevitably push him into becoming a Jerkass like the ones he fled his old sect to avoid.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Bewitched: Pretty much every single wizard and witch that appears on-screen (even Samantha) believes this: they are only really restrained by their own code of honor (which is still pretty flexible as long as they can get what they want with as less hassle as possible) and what other witches in the room may think of them—and even so, the ones that are Obnoxious In-Laws to Darren don't really have much of a problem making his life a living hell for as long as they can before Samantha tells them to stop or makes a counter-spell of her own (and then dismiss their 'What the Hell, Hero?' reactions with "he's a mortal, you're a witch, it's your fault for getting married in the first place").
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Faith and, in the episode "Bad Girls", Buffy herself. Also the majority of vampires and demons. It helps that Sunnydale was made for evil entities to screw around in. The rules are bent for slaughter and games.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor uses a combination of advanced technology (psychic paper) and Bavarian Fire Drill/Impersonating an Officer to get past obstacles.
  • The finale of The Invisible Man had the titular character permanently cured of the insanity-causing side effect of his invisibility, thus no longer needing a regular supply of the temporary cure from his government employers. His initial response is to return to the life of crime he'd lived before being recruited as a test subject for invisibility. Subverted shortly afterward, since after finding a bank robbery to be pathetically easy and boring with his powers (and realizing he's actually grown to like being one of the good guys), he returns all the money before anybody even realizes it was stolen, and eventually goes back to his old job...but demands a higher salary for both himself and his partner, and the re-hiring of the scientist who cured him against orders.
  • Kamen Rider Geats is a rare example where screwing the rules is the heroic course of action: upon getting his final form, and with it the ability to rewrite the rules of the Desire Grand Prix to his liking, Geats begins using his newfound powers to dismantle the Immoral Reality Show.
  • Played straight or subverted in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, depending on whatever is funnier at the time. Sabrina herself keeps running afoul of a surprisingly large number of laws governing witch behaviour that are as byzantine as they are draconian, but most other witches seem to be able to do whatever they want to whomever they want as long as a stronger witch doesn't oppose them.
  • Sliders:
    • One episode had a world in which a group that could kill through dreams flagrantly broke the law and killed people right in front of the police with their powers. Of course, nobody thought to just arrest the whole group, preventing them from touching you.
    • Another episode has a world where magic is real, so the cops are afraid to touch powerful sorcerers.
  • Kind of the entire point of most plots - romantic and non - in the first few seasons of Smallville. The meteor freak of the week suffers "Kryptonite Psychosis" and uses their meteor-given powers for their own selfish gain, perfectly willing to commit multiple murders to further their goals before Clark stops them and they get sent to the Belle Reve mental institution. Lampshaded numerous times by characters biased against meteor freaks. Clark himself qualifies when under the influence of Red Kryptonite. His Red K-activated personality, Kal, acts out Clark's basic wants and needs without concerning himself with the consequences of his actions, and is not only unconcerned with keeping his powers a secret, but is even tempted to go public with them because he believes that his powers make him infallible.
  • Widespread in Star Trek.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • Charlie Evans from "Charlie X" was given superpowers by the Thasians after his ship crashed and everyone else was killed. When the Enterprise picks him up, he has an obsession with being liked and "removes" people from reality if they piss him off. Eventually the Thasians show up to take him back and repair the damage, but they're too late for a ship he destroyed that was trying to warn the Enterprise. While Charlie repents in the end and promises never to use the powers again, Kirk and the Thasians agree that it's too much of a temptation.
      • In "Where No Man Has Gone Before", Gary Mitchell develops superpowers after the Enterprise crosses the energy barrier at the edge of galaxy: he swiftly develops a god complex and starts killing crew members. Averted when it comes to Dr. Elizabeth Dehner, who uses hers to stop Mitchell and ends up getting killed in the process.
      • Trelane from "The Squire of Gothos". You want someone to hang out with? Instantaneously pluck your guests from their ship. Said guests try to defy you? Chase them around with the planet you're on. Fortunately, Trelane's parents are close by whenever he takes the trope too far.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Violations", a guy enters people's dreams and does terrible things to them. He enters Dr. Crusher's and Counselor Troi's dreams and rapes them, and he enters Riker's dream and beats him within an inch of his life. When confronted, he claims to see nothing wrong with doing something for fun. Until he tries it again on Troi and Worf comes to her rescue.
    • Basically every single member of the Q Continuum ignores all rules imposed by anybody except their own kind, and even then it's kind of iffy. Being omnipotent they can get away with this since nobody more powerful than them has appeared in any canonical story. Q's own son, appearing as a teenage boy in Star Trek: Voyager, flat-out tells Janeway he can do whatever he wants because he has unlimited control over space, time, and matter. At least his father felt the need to claim "superior morality" as a justification for his behavior. They generally at least just toy with normal people. You'd shudder to think of a truly malicious Q.
  • This is widespread among vampires on True Blood. Although their public relations campaign claims that they just want to be a part of normal human society, including having equal civil rights, they have no problem with breaking the law if they think they can get away with it. In particular they are not above using mind control on humans and/or feeding from people without their consent. In one episode, Bill even subverts the rule that vampires aren't allowed to enter a human's home without an invitation by glamoring one of them and having that person invite him. It's seen that many vampires murder humans for blood with impunity, and thus the anti-vampire human fanatics (who don't distinguish them from the nicer vampires) aren't entirely wrong about them. It's really difficult to rein in someone with their powers and the vampires' own government doesn't care about that, only violence against other vampires.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): The episode "It's a Good Life" is built on this, although six-year-old Anthony is convinced that he's just doing good things, ancluding getting rid of bad people — and of course, only bad people would think that the things he does could be bad...
  • Wizards of Waverly Place is made of this trope. Well, at least in Alex's mind.

  • Older Than Feudalism:
    • The Greek myth of Gyges (most well known from Plato's The Republic) is about a man who finds a ring of invisibility and uses it to commit all sorts of crimes, culminating in seducing the queen and killing the king.
    • Greek myths have a bit of a running theme of gods doing something bad and getting away with it not because their actions were morally right, but because mortals couldn't openly defy them without getting smote and other gods were usually their close relatives. Zeus in particular often got away with things even other gods wouldn't (like cheating on Hera) because he was the Top God and more powerful than any of the others; when Hera tried to actually overthrow him, she wound up suspended from Olympus with anvils attached to her ankles, which unsurprisingly dissuaded her from trying anything like that again. Plato, incidentally, thought such stories were blasphemous for portraying the gods as petty, immoral jerks, and wanted to ban them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Crops up in The World of Darkness gamelines:
    • The third quote for Masquerade illustrates a problem with this train of thought. That said, vampires in Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem (and most supernaturals, for that matter) can get away with a lot considering both the Crapsack Worlds they live in mean people just don't care about most crimes, and their Masquerade clean-up is top notch (provided you have the expertise/pull to have the cleanup done for you without getting staked, mind you).
    • Most sourcebooks for The World of Darkness specifically warn Storytellers that their players might think this way and advise them to bring the hammer down if somebody gets too uppity. A vampire kills a cop? Cop murders never go cold case and the subsequent investigation will either lead to somebody finding something they shouldn't or an escalating Revealing Cover Up. Most princes will leave cop-killers out for sunrise just for forcing them to deal with the hassle.
    • It comes up more in the Vampire games because the only real threat to most vampires from breaking the masquerade is retaliation from the people intent on keeping it. Most other splats involve a more direct mechanical penalty that's difficult to cover over with further power use or roleplay: werewolves drive anyone in line of sight into a killing rage or madness, mages are bitch-slapped by the laws of physics or break the world and let something in to say hello, ghosts can be banished by mortals extremely easily, etc. In the original World of Darkness, the only other splat that's as easy to indulge in this trope as Masquerade is Hunter: The Reckoning, which can lead to a lot of fast escalation since the two are among each others' greatest natural enemies. The Chronicles of Darkness world has rather more splats with a 'fragile' masquerade: hunters, Sin-Eaters, Beasts, Deviants...
  • Exalted: Attitudes like this led to the depravities of the First Age; exalted are, after all, the chosen of Gods and superior to normal mortals in every way! If you can cut down mortals with ease, why should you bother with their petty morals? You are a Living God! compared to them! The player himself might not agree with such philosophy, but power corrupts and the exalted are literally more powerful and more important than most gods. Indeed, a character's attempts to avoid this trope can make for a particularly epic storyline within a campaign, regardless of success or failure.
  • Player Characters in Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder will try this. Any Game Master worth his or her salt should have a thousand ready tricks to foil them or else should simply embrace their descent into Sociopathic Hero or even Card-Carrying Villain status. This can also extend to the Rules of Gravity for Oracles.
  • This is Chaos's schtick in any of the Warhammer games. In Warhammer 40,000, Chaos cults have been known to permanently take over entire solar systems and beat on the punitive army that arrives to take back what's theirs because of their supernatural abilities. It can get so bad that some worlds have essentially become permanent Chaos vassal states with no one being able to do anything about it.
  • Dragons in Shadowrun combine this trope with Screw the Rules, I Have Money! and Screw the Rules, I Make Them!- thanks to their unmatched physical prowess, unmatched magical prowess, and unmatched intellectual prowess they are quickly able to amass huge fortunes and positions of political and social power. They're not quite invincible, but only a nuclear weapon or a direct hit from the railgun on a Kill Sat can kill a dragon and sometimes not even then, so even national governments and megacorps tread carefully when a dragon's involved.

  • The basic plot of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. He gains supernatural powers through a Deal with the Devil and decides he can do whatever the heck he wants. After they do that, he grows increasingly petty, stooping to play pranks on The Pope, amusing the Emperor's court, and eventually just dying alone, realizing how badly he wasted his potential.

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate III
    • The powers from the tadpole are the reason some of the restrictions vampires have don't apply to Astarion anymore.
    • The tadpole powers and his own curiosity are also the reasons Astarion decides to start breaking Cazador's rules.
  • Alice surprisingly avoids this in Genshin Impact. Despite being a nigh omnipotent and very powerful (and very destructive) witch who can (and will) do whatever she pleases (laws be damned), the one thing that prevents Alice from becoming a danger to Teyvat is that, much to her annoyance, she needs to abide by Teyvat's laws. Good thing too, otherwise, she can easily wreck the planets ecosystem and render it inhospitable to life.
  • RuneScape:
    Wise Old Man: Vini; volui; mihi est (I came; I wanted; it's mine).
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, this is the outlook of Great House Telvanni. They strongly believe in Might Makes Right, and Klingon Promotion is a legitimate means of advancement within the house (which is your "in" to rise to the top of the as an otherwise hated outlander). The Telvanni tend strongly toward magical might and only care about the Temple and Imperial laws and their various bans on certain kinds of magic insofar as they can actually enforce those laws and bans...
  • While there are more complex plot points driving the narrative of [PROTOTYPE], a big draw of the game(s) is that your character has superpowers, and the game lets you do whatever you want. Mostly not very nice things, though.

    Web Comics 
  • Subverted in Homestuck; Vriska uses her powers to kill, disable, and maim many other trolls, but this is in fact entirely legal and entirely natural and commonplace on Alternia.
  • In Girl Genius, more or less every government does this. Because sparks tend to suffer from With Great Power Comes Great Insanity, this tends not to work out very well for the populace; they will be subjugated and mistreated at best and used as Human Resources at worst.
  • In Evon, Corrin tells Evon (who he's just found out is his half-sister) that since they're both sorcerers and shouldn't be "bound by the rules that govern ordinary people" and said rules shouldn't stop them from taking up their affair from before they knew they were siblings. Evon's reaction to this is to threaten to kick his balls into his throat if he ever mentioned that again.
    • And, subverted, when it's discovered he SORELY overestimated his relative power. Corrin fell down the stairs. And bounced off a railing. And now knows what railings are capable of.
  • 'Creatures' of DMFA and its fan comic 'Project future' often believe that their increased physical strength and magic gives them the right to do whatever they like to 'Beings', who are weaker and usually have no magic.
  • Erma is a half-ghost girl with supernatural powers which she mostly uses for mischievous purposes, from hovering during jump rope to summoning an avalanche during a snowball fight.
  • Grrl Power has super-powered individuals; most of the new laws are to deal with those that want to join the police or military forces. Otherwise, it's the same as for those that don't have powers: commit a crime, you're a criminal, but stop one without being a part of the police, and you're a vigilante. One particular criminal has an ability that allows her to leave almost no trace (since she turns into marble)... but she takes selfies, which means it's just a matter of time before they catch her.
    • And one particular individual is used as an example of how to live under the radar: he's a geokinetic, able to access gold in the Earth's crust, and store it 10+ miles deep. But since he's not trying to crash the world's gold market by selling it all at once, the authorities leave him alone, and self-policing.
  • Villainous espers in Mob Psycho 100 regularly think they are above the law (and everyone else in general). Mob usually ends up smacking some sense into them, because Reigen taught him better.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Ace's New Power

The rule screen at the end of every episode of Kamen Rider Geats gets amended by a fire streak swiping across the screen of one of the episodes, indicating Ace's newfound ability to change the rules himself.

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