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Screw the Rules, I'm Famous!

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BoJack: Listen up, everybody, I, famous celebrity BoJack Horseman, have an announcement. I'm gonna have to ask you to drop all charges against my friends on account of me being a celebrity. We gracefully accept the requisite slap on the wrist, and a brief but ultimately pointless trial in the court of public opinion. Good day.
Officer Meow-Meow Fuzzyface: Well, you are famous, so you're all free to go.
BoJack Horseman, "Chickens"

Being a celebrity is what most people would love to be. Having adoring fans, being rich beyond your wildest dreams, or to be hailed as a hero in your home town and rub it into your enemies' faces. But then there are moments where celebrities or very popular people start using their status to get away with whatever they want, thinking to themselves that they do not have to worry about those pesky laws that the commoners must abide by. Of course, when they're caught, they can bank on their loyal fans to proclaim their innocence, even when it's obvious they've done it, and cue a celebration when they're acquitted rather than convicted. This can go hand in hand with Villain with Good Publicity if the villain is so revered by the people and the media that they would literally let them get away with murder.


Truth in Television, as there are many famous and popular people are able to get away with what they want. Sometimes, however, there are things that famous people won't get away with doing that others can. For instance, a family-friendly actor attempting to do something that would be considered too adult.

Compare to Screw the Rules, I Have Money! and Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!, but the character simply uses their popularity to get away with anything rather than greasing a few palms or looking pretty. Though money and good looks help in this case. Or even Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! if the person in question knows a celebrity or someone they know made them famous.

When adding examples for Real Life, please take caution on what you write down. We do not wish to have this turn into a page for complaining about celebrities tropers don't like.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • An episode of You're Under Arrest! has the cast dealing with a celebrity idol named Toki, who constantly violates parking regulations, thinking he can get away with it because of being a celebrity. It is later found out that his driving infringement records were all deleted, and to make things worse, a traffic safety campaign is to be held near the precinct and will be advertised by Toki. So Natsumi, Miyuki, and Ken devise a plan to exploit Toki for breaking traffic rules: the three chase Toki toward the precinct, where he is unaware that the media and press arrived early, and he crashes his car in front of everyone, ruining his reputation forever.

    Comic Books 
  • Todd Ingram from Scott Pilgrim is a rockstar with Psychic Powers that come from sticking to a strict vegan diet. He believes he's famous enough to do whatever he wants, from cheating on his girlfriend to attacking her because she attacked him for cheating on her, among other things. Unfortunately, not even he is immune to the Vegan Police, a special forces unit that can revoke a vegan's powers if they break their diet too many times.
  • X-Men: Inverted. The creation of X-Force was based on Cyclops' concern that the X-Men could not do dirty deeds because they were well-known to the public.

    Fan Works 
  • At the end of the Animorphs fanfic The Thing from Another World, Marco claims to have "paid" at restaurants by signing his autograph on a napkin, which the waiters can then sell for a lot of money.

    Film - Animated 
  • The antagonist of Balto is Steele, the lead dog of a champion sled dog team. The opening scene shows a race in progress, coming into the home stretch. Steele nips at a rival dog's leg, taking the opponent out of stride, causing the team as a whole to tumble to a halt. Nevertheless, Steele is hailed as a wonder dog among both the residents of Nome, Alaska, and most of his fellow dogs. Later in the film, after losing an exhibition to determine the sled dog team to retrieve the medicine to Balto, Steele attacked Balto so him fighting back would make Balto look too feral to be selected, thus taking his place.
  • Darla Dimple of Cats Don't Dance is the A-list star of Mammoth Pictures and heads their Cash Cow Franchise. However, she's The Prima Donna on set, and everyone walks on eggshells around her because 1) she'll sic her enormous Lightning Bruiser butler upon dissidents, and 2) she's the darling of the studio honcho, L. B. Mammoth. Her publicity retinue works wonders in convincing the masses that Darla is "America's Sweetheart, lover of children and animals," when in fact, she's the polar opposite.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Played for Laughs in the The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle movie, where the judge pardons the heroes, proclaiming that "celebrities are above the law". What sells the joke is this is after Bullwinkle spends his whole defense argument confessing to every crime the duo had committed and inviting punishment so that "the healing may begin."
  • In The Rocketeer, Neville Sinclair gloats about this when his gangster henchman threatens to squeal:
    Valentine: Hey, Sinclair, if the Feds get me, I'm takin' you with me. I'm gonna tell 'em everything.
    Sinclair: Who do you think they'd believe? A cheap crook or the number three box-office star in America?
  • Showgirls had the infamous scene of Andrew Carter brutally beating and raping Molly, and charges were not pressed against him due to being a celebrity singer. Nomi wouldn't have any of it however as she assaulted him.
  • Walk Hard has this memorable exchange:
Dewey: Don't you stand there and judge me like I'm some kind of criminal.
Edith: You are a criminal. This is illegal, Dewey.
Dewey: What do you mean?
Edith: It's illegal to be married to two people at the same time, Dewey!
Dewey: What about if, if you're famous?

  • Harry Potter: This trope is frequently discussed by Snape, who seems to be under the impression that Harry will use his fame as the person who defeated Lord Voldemort when he was just a baby to try and escape punishment. Harry doesn't do anything of the sort.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the second episode of Feud, Bette Davis uses her star power to bail out Victor Buono after he gets busted during a raid.
  • The whole episode of "False Arrest" of Family Matters revolves around this. Buddy Goodrich is beloved on television, but in reality, he is like most celebrities - arrogant and very mean. He even tries to start a fight with Carl Winslow when Carl approached him over parking in a handicapped spot. And when he's arrested, tries to bribe him to get out, but fails.
  • Disc jockey Johnny Fever of radio station WKRP in Cincinnati tries to conduct an interview with Scum of the Earth, a band of trash rockers with '80s Hair known for abusing their fans and wrecking their venues. Off the air, the band members seem decent and civil, but on-air, they revert to belligerent jerkasses. The band ultimately gets forcibly ejected from the studio. The closing scene of their episode shows the band on stage: belittling and insulting their audience, throwing garbage and incidental items at them, and discharging a type C fire extinguisher at the front row. Rather than press charges, the crazed fans clamored for more.
  • The British series SWAG had a "Celebrity Crime" segment involving some celebrities trying to use their status to get away with relatively petty crimes.
  • In Charité at War, renowned surgeon Professor Sauerbruch exploits this trope for all it is worth, though it has less to do with his ego and more with wanting to protect people, especially dissidents, from the Nazis.

  • Reggae artist Smiley Culture's song "Police Officer" was about an incident where he was arrested for drug possession, but let go after he was recognized as a famous musician. Became Harsher in Hindsight when police showed up at his house with a search warrant for drugs. During the raid, he allegedly committed suicide, supposedly because his fame had faded and he couldn't use his status to get out of the charge.
  • Mitch Benn's "Only in California":
    Only in California,
    Would lawyers be so shameless,
    As to enter a plea,
    Of not guilty,
    By reason of being famous.

    Video Games 
  • Persona 5 has several people like this. The ex-Olympic Medalist turned PE teacher Kamoshida, who sexually and physically abuses his students, the artist Madarame who keeps his pupil malnourished and profits off plagiarizing their own artwork, and Prime Minister candidate Masayoshi Shido the head of the conspiracy against the Phantom Thieves, and responsible for one character being framed for defending a woman from his drunken wrath, another's depression, and the death of a third's father. The position these people are in makes it easy for them to hide their crimes from society and necessitates the Thieves' actions against them.
  • The plot for Tony Hawk's Underground 2 had Tony Hawk, Bam Magera, and other famous skaters embark on a World Destruction Tour. Where they inflict mass property damage and chaos wherever they go just for the hell of it. Eventually, however, both Tony and Bam were caught and banned from ever returning to the places they visited like Boston and Berlin. Their response? "Hey, good call."

    Western Animation 
  • King of the Hill
    • "New Cowboy on the Block" had a former Dallas Cowboys player moves into Hank's street. Despite being a horrid neighbor such as teaching Bobby foul sportsmanship, having rowdy parties late in the night, and using pieces of Hank's fence for a bonfire; he uses the fact he used to play for the Cowboys to avoid legal trouble with the police. Even the police try to pin the blame on Hank when the latter tried to report to the former.
    • "Peggy's Fan Fair" featured Randy Travis (played by Randy Travis) plagiarizing lyrics to a song that Peggy wrote. Much to her aggravation when she found out about it. At the end of the episode, he claimed that he saved Hank from drowning when it's the other way around. Hank would've punched him but Peggy stopped him.
  • When Buster had gotten popular for saving a cat up a tree in Arthur, one of the signs that the fame has gotten to his head was using his newfound "hero" status to cut in line for a movie. With Arthur insisting that they should've waited in the line.
  • The Boondocks episode "The Trial of R. Kelly", which had R. Kelly getting away with urinating on a young girl despite the copious amount of evidence stacked against him. Only Huey Freeman and Tom DuBois were bothered by this.
  • Bojack Horseman, a washed-up TV actor, sometimes believes that being a Hollywood celebrity entitles him to get away with certain troubles, such as when he brought a gun-shaped cigarette lighter to an airport security checkpoint.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • The Northwest family got away with not inviting the workers who built their mansion to their party (that they promised them), along with many major crimes, due to their wealth and their status as the founding family of Gravity Falls (it's revealed that they didn't actually found Gravity Falls.). This is averted in the final episode when they lose their prestige due to Preston trying to ally himself with Bill Cipher in full hearing of the whole town.
    • Lil' Gideon is able to get away with his heinous acts due to acting cute in public and being the town's resident psychic. When Stan exposes him as a fraud in the first season finale, he is quickly shamed by the public and gets thrown into prison.
  • Downplayed in an episode of The Simpsons in which Krusty the Clown is arrested for using a Cayman Islands offshore holding company to evade taxes. When Krusty pleads that he can't go to jail because he lives a fancy lifestyle and is used to the best, The IRS agents assure him that "This is America, we don't send our celebrities to jail," but they do take control of 95% of his assets until he can pay off the debt.
    • Lampshaded in an in-universe Broadway musical about the Betty Ford Clinic, a celebrity is on trial for numerous crimes and the judge pardons him with "I should put you away where you can't kill or maim us, but this is L.A. and you're rich and famous!"
  • Disney Television's TaleSpin series has the episode "A Star Is Torn," where Baloo gets roped into doing stunt flying in a film by Kitten Kaboodle. Her film is plagued with "accidents," and is low on competent pilots. She has Baloo enthralled, but Rebecca is suspicious, and ultimately unmasks the saboteur; it's Kitten herself, trying to drum up press for her film to avoid becoming a White-Dwarf Starlet. It's not until her Accidental Public Confession that anyone believes Kitten capable of such carnage and damage.
  • Invoked in Futurama episode "The Honking". When Bender discovers that he's becoming a were-car, he laments that he can't go around killing innocent people... because he's not famous enough to get away with it.
  • In Samurai Jack, a head-only Scaramouche tries to invoke this when a sailor initially denies an entry due to having no body by claiming himself as Aku's number one assassin, only for the sailor to point out another sign revealing that he has now been demoted to the third-best. Scaramouche is rather distraught at this.
  • We Bare Bears: In "Vacation", Grizzly tries to get a stressed-out, overworked Nom Nom through an airport in disguise so he can get to a spa resort without being hounded by fans. When the stewardess won't let Nom Nom on the plane, he gets mad and tells her he's the web-famous celebrity, Nom Nom the koala. Unfortunately, he accidentally activates the intercom while trying to browbeat her, and ends up blabbing his identity to nearly everyone in the airport. Cue wacky chase scene.

    Real Life 
  • A bizarre case of Diplomatic Immunity as well as this trope. Back around the late '80s when James Brown was called the "Ambassador of Soul'', his wife tried to invoke diplomatic immunity to avoid her traffic charges. It didn't work.
  • In 1987, Matthew Broderick had gotten into a car accident in Northern Ireland that lead to the deaths of two people and himself injured. He was initially charged for death by dangerous driving and a five-year prison sentence, but it was later changed to careless driving and a $175 fine.
  • When Jimmy Fallon was starting his comedy career in Los Angeles, he attended a house party that then-NBA rookie Kobe Bryant was also at. When the party was running low on alcohol, the two volunteered to run to the store and get more, only to learn the establishment was delivery-only and they couldn't purchase it on site. Bryant proceeded to show his ID to the clerk and tell him "I'm a Laker". After this, the clerk let them buy as much beer as they wanted.
  • This was a primary factor for how the disgraced celebrity Jimmy Savile got away with his crimes of sexual abuse. As being a beloved personality for The BBC and his philanthropy work allowed Savile to use his influence to carry out his crimes for many decades up until his death.
  • Austrian serial killer Jack Unterwager was able to serve only fifteen years of a twenty-year sentence for his first murder by becoming a bestselling author. This turned him into a public darling and a thought experiment for the intellectual class, the latter of whom saw him as an experiment to show that reform for violent offenders was possible. This essentially gave Jack all the immunity he needed to keep killing, using his celebrity status as a shield and rallying public support to his cause during his second and final trial.
  • When the famous 19th century cricketer WG Grace was called out during an exhibition game, he brushed off the umpire with a lordly "Silly man! They've come here to watch me bat, not listen to you."
  • Reese Witherspoon tried pulling this after police pulled over her husband because they suspected him of Driving Under the Influence (which as it turned out he was). Not only did it not work, but Witherspoon herself was arrested alongside him for disorderly conduct. She later admitted she was the one in the wrong and apologized.


Video Example(s):


BoJack Horseman

BoJack makes a scene at airport security.

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Main / ScrewTheRulesImFamous

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