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There Is No Rule Six

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In comedies, Long Lists and even shorter ones will include not only redundant repetition of unnecessary items, but also items which assert their own nonexistence.

Compare There Are No Rules, a suspicious game that has no rules, and Missing Floor, a numbered floor is omitted from public listings such as on elevators. Don't see also I Was Never Here, manipulating evidence and gaslighting to cover for a secret organization's activities.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Battle Skipper: The vice president of the Etiquette Club goes to give a recruitment speech, only to discover that her notes are missing (actually stolen by a rival from the Debutante Club), so she improvises a speech on the spot: "In the Etiquette Club, the first rule is strength! The second rule is strength! There are no third or fourth rules, but the fifth rule is strength!" Cue Face Palm from the club president.
  • A Bride's Story: Laila and Leili's mother says this while putting them through housewife boot camp:
    Rule One: Physical strength! Rule Two: Physical strength! There are no rules three or four, but rule five is physical strength! If the time comes and you can't run at full speed while carrying two or three children, then that's as bad as sacrificing those children to the wolves!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Fight Club: Whenever Tyler is introducing new members, he always makes sure to emphasize that the first and second rules of Fight Club are that they do not talk about it. The indoctrination goes to the point that when the confused protagonist asks random members what they are doing, they answer him that they aren't supposed to talk about it and think he is testing them.
    Tyler Durden: 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.
  • The Karate Kid Part II: Mr. Miyaki's way of teaching stresses its maxim, that one only uses martial arts to defend oneself or others, by way of its two rules. The first is the aforementioned maxi while the second serves to halt any over-eager student by telling them they ought to learn the previous rule well first.
    Mr. Miyagi: Aha... here are the two rules of Miyagi-Ryu Karate.
    Rule Number One: "Karate for defense only."
    Rule Number Two: "First learn Rule Number One."

  • Dave Barry:
    • Dave Barry in Cyberspace includes a parody of advertisements found in computer magazines purportedly offering great discounts on computers. One of the "incredible prices" quoted is: "BAXTER DataWeasel 95949847 — There is no such computer! Ha ha!"
    • Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway has a double-layered use of the trope: in the American Constitution, Article I Section 8 reads "Section 8 has been intentionally left blank." This becomes doubly funny if you know that Section 8 is the part of the Constitution that gives Congress all of its legal power.
  • Don't You Just Hate That?: This list of everyday annoyances has no item #13 (immediately following item #12's complaint of things that skip the number 13 for superstitious reasons), and, more bizarrely, leaves item #443 blank, with #444 claiming that you simply have to accept it.
  • Ender's Game: Rose tells Ender that there are only three rules, "Do what I tell you and don't piss in the bed." When Ender asks what the third rule is, as he was clearly meant to, Rose replies that that was three rules - "We don't do too good in math, here."
  • My Brother Was an Only Child by Jack Douglas:
    • It has, as the entire contents of Chapter Nineteen:
    To hell with Chapter 19. Every damn book you pick up has a Chapter 19.
    • And books with 18 or fewer chapters...
  • Unimaa: Eino goes over the list of rules for Frida's Friends Club with Mika:
    1. You do not talk about Frida's Friends Club.
    2. Do not go into that forest over there.
    3. You may be punished with time in the quiet room if you are unruly.
    4. This list of rules is not all-inclusive.
    5. There is no rule number 5.
    6. No talking about Frida's Friends Club.
  • The Vor Game: Implied in Vorkosigan's rules for space warfare:
    Rule 1: Only overrule the tactical computer if you know something it doesn't.
    Rule 2: The tac comp always knows more than you do.
  • Wayside School: In chapter 19 ("Miss Zarves") of Sideways Stories from Wayside School, a character stresses that the nineteenth is a Missing Floor.
    There is no Miss Zarves. There is no nineteenth story. Sorry.

    Live-Action TV 
  • M*A*S*H: Played for Drama in "Sometimes You Hear The Bullet". Hawkeye sees his childhood friend die in O.R. and asks why he's crying for him and not any of the other patients who died in there.
    Henry: Look, all I know is what they taught me in command school. There are certain rules about a war. And Rule #1 is that young men die. And Rule #2 is that doctors can't change Rule #1.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Trope Namer is the Bruces Sketch, from "How to Recognize Different Parts of the Body".
    Bruce: I'll just remind you of the faculty rules:
    Rule 1: No poofters.
    Rule 2: No member of the faculty is to maltreat the Abos in any way... if there is anyone watching.
    Rule 3: No poofters.
    Rule 4: I don't want to catch anyone not drinking in their room after lights out.
    Rule 5: No poofters.
    Rule 6: There is NO Rule 6!
    Rule 7: No poofters.
  • The X-Files: In the episode "Bad Blood":
    Scully: First of all, Mulder, if the family of Ronnie Strickland does sue the FBI for, I believe the figure is 446 million dollars, you and I will almost certainly be named co-defendants. And second of all... I don't even have a second of all, Mulder. 446 million dollars.

  • The Traveling Wilburys have two albums: "Vol. 1" and "Vol. 3".
  • Johann Sebastian Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto No.3" has only first and third movements — no second movement (apart from a two-chord cadence — though the third movement is sometimes wrongly called the "second", even though it's definitely in the style of a third movement rather than a second).

    Print Media 
  • Private Eye: It's a Running Gag.
    Full list of things that fit a ridiculously narrow definition
    1. The only example.
    2. Er...
    3. That's it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Page 128 of the 3.5 Dungeon Masters Guide has a list of traits to flesh out NPCs. Number 26 is blank missing entirely, and Number 100 reads "No sense of humor (See #26)".
  • Fluxx: The Monty Python version has a card called "My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels." Two people playing the game must each choose a number between one and four. One is subtracted from the sum of those two numbers, and a rule corresponding to that resulting number must be followed. There is no rule six.
  • Globbo: Found in the rules for the Steve Jackson Board Game.
  • Magic: The Gathering: An unusual non-(intentionally)-comedic example once appeared in the game's comprehensive rulebook: "Rule 502.9d: Ignore this rule". It was originally a rule involving assigning trample damage that became obsolete but kept to avoid renumbering the rest of the rules. It was finally removed when Eighth Edition was released.

  • Bottom Live: When Richie contemplated the following “What have [I] got to live for? […] Everyone would prefer it if [I] were dead!”:
    Richie: What a ridiculous suggestion –- first of all…
    & Ⓑ … Well I don't need a Ⓑ because the Ⓐ was so great!
  • Fiddler on the Roof: Played for Drama when Tevye is mulling over whether to accept Chava marrying a non-Jew: "On the other hand... there is no other hand!"

    Video Games 
  • Bastion: The first track of the soundtrack has the narrator saying this:
    There's three things I'll always miss, though.
    One: not havin' to watch my step all the time.
    Two: ah... forget about two.
    And three: I miss the songs.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: Played With by the 18th Sermon of the 36 Lessons of Vivec. Like the other 35 sermons, it contains an allegorical story explaining the Tribunal faith, but unlike all the others, it ends with the words "This sermon is forbidden." and "This sermon is untrue.", indicating that although it is a legitimate part of the religious canon, it should never be taught to lay people (presumably because it links the Tribunal's godhood to Dagoth Ur's and suggests that unmaking the former can defeat the latter). To an outsider examining Vivec's teachings, Sermon 18 thus basically says "There is no Sermon 18." Fittingly, unlike the other sermons, the in-game book containing it can only be found in and around the endgame area of the Ghostgate, meaning that if you try to collect all sermons, you will be missing the 18th item on the list for the longest time.
  • Lemmings: The manual pays homage to Monty Python in the Hints and Tips section with "6. There is no tip number 6."

  • A joke list of Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine Commandments features a variation on this:
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-048 is an article detailing that there is no SCP-048. In-universe, the explanation given is that any item given that designation was lost, stolen, destroyed, etc. In reality, several writers attempted to fill that slot with a wide variety of ideas, but they were all removed due to negative responses.
    201. Thou shall not point out there is no 175 commandment.
  • TV Tropes: The Laws of Anime include #43- Law of Triscaquadrodecophobia: There is no Law 43.
  • Usenet: An old humor post titled "The Australian Fifth Degeneration Project" had a numbered list of "features" for a rumored new computer including "Feature number 6: There is no feature 6." The Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch was cited in a subsequent footnote.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Painting", Mr. Small has a five-step program for Gumball and Darwin to focus their energy, but tells them they're done after only four steps.
    Mr. Small: The fifth step was within you all along. Just be yourselves.
    Gumball: ... Weak.
  • Cow and Chicken: The episode "Night of the Ed!" has Cow reading about what to do when their pet jackal turns vicious. Step one is "Panic". Step two is "There is no step two".
  • Danger Mouse: In "Demons Aren't Dull," DM saved him and Penfold from the Demon of the Fourth Dimension by invoking a clause in the by-laws of the Union of Devious, Diabolical and Dimensional Demons note  that states any victim not destroyed by the end of episode four has to be returned to their own dimension or have his powers revoked by the Boss Demon. Once returned, DM lets on that there isn't any such clause. He made it up. (Just as well...the Demon planted DM and Penfold thousands of feet in the air, causing them to plummet earthwards.)
  • Freakazoid!: From the episode "Normadeus".
    Freakazoid: One: Norm Abram is gone. Two:...
    Cosgrove: "We don't have a two."
  • South Park:
    Step 1: Collect Underpants.
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: Profit!

    Real Life 
  • Very common in real-life codes of law. Laws are generally always referred to by number, so labels always have to be kept consistent. This will often extend to leaving sections reserved for future laws so that new statutes can be slotted in where they would logically go. This leads to a lot of lines saying nothing beyond the fact that the line doesn't exist or isn't valid.
  • Question 17 of the 2011 British Census: "This question is intentionally blank"note 
  • There's a joke that goes "Rule 1: I am always right. Rule 2: If I am ever wrong, see rule 1."
    • A similar joke has been put up in German workplaces at least since the 1960s: "Rule 1: The boss is always right. Rule 2: Should the boss not be right for once, then rule 1 comes into force."
  • With a live-cast showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, this is often used by the stage manager when explaining the general "rules of behavior" in the theater.
  • IBM manuals are infamous for pages stating "This page intentionally left blank". Similar to the other examples described here, this was done to keep page numbers consistent for cross-referencing even if information was added or removed.
    • Military field manuals are also well known for this and the subject of much derision among service members. The truth is that chapters conventionally start on an odd-numbered page; therefore, if the preceding chapter happens to have an odd number of pages, a blank page is inserted at the end. Classified documents are also accounted for by the number of pages; this practice ensures that blank pages are not accidentally discarded.
  • Common in IT. When automated, regular reports are generated and sent to distribution lists, a "No report was created / No data in the report" message is the best way to avoid users calling the helpdesk to say "they didn't receive the report".
  • During one of the debates between candidates for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination, Governor Rick Perry declared, "And I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the... what's the third one there?" After an awkward pause (during which a few of the other candidates and the debate moderator tried to prompt him), he finally concluded, "I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops."
  • Until 2019, highway exits in Massachusetts were numbered sequentially. After the Central Artery Tunnel (aka Big Dig) project was done, the new design removed some exits, and the remaining exits were not (then) renumbered. As a result, the state DOT added signs to the highway e.g. "There is no Exit 11. Next exit is 12" after exit 10.
    • Starting in 2020 the state is changing all highway exits to milepost numbers, due to a federal mandate.