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Weirdness Coupon

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Jamie: Did you get any looks driving a truck full of pig corpses around?
Adam: A few people did slow down and stare; then they looked in the cabin, and went "Oh. It's just MythBusters."

If somebody or something is really weird or fantastical, they're allowed to do things that "normal" people would never say or do. After all, they're either inimitable, or are in a situation nobody would want to emulate. The opposite can also hold true: when a coupon holder acts normal, those around him or her may react with shock and horror, or assume something is wrong. A cousin to Elephant in the Living Room and Bunny-Ears Lawyer.


Contrast Have You Tried Not Being a Monster? Refuge in Audacity is a closely related trope that involves someone behaving so far outside of accepted norms that everyone else is too stunned to stop them, but this trope tends to be recurring with a character to the point that everyone is just used to it while Refuge in Audacity is usually a one-time action. See also Unusually Uninteresting Sight, a potential reaction (or lack thereof) to the shenanigans of the Weirdness Coupon holder. Coupon not valid for those acting Weirder Than Usual. See also It's for a Book.



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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Jughead Jones in the Archie Comics gets a lot of freedom in this regard; anytime his oddness is called into question it's usually answered with something along the lines of "that's Jughead, he doesn't count". Subverted in one early story. Archie and Reggie see Jughead walking a seal down the street on a leash, and laugh at how only Jughead can get away with such a crazy stunt. They then do a Double Take and ask him what's going on.

    Film — Animation 

  • The phenomenon has even earned itself a proverb/rhyme in the Germanosphere:
    Ist der Ruf erstmal ruiniert, lebt sich's völlig ungeniert.note 

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Addams Family, Gomez and Morticia are implied to have an active and kinky sex life — absolutely unheard of in TV at the time — but it's accepted because they're so odd. (Also, it's obviously not shown.)
  • Bones: Invoked by Arastoo Viziri. As a scientist, he's used to his strong religious beliefs being looked down upon by his peers (even moreso because he's Muslim). So when he initially joined the Jeffersonian crew, he put on a thick accent and played up a bit of a Funny Foreigner persona so that his religion would be accepted as just another one of his immigrant quirks. After seeing his boss becoming annoyingly tolerant (insisting he not touch pig bones due to the taboo against pork, despite his own insistence that it didn't violate his beliefs), he dropped the charade and explained himself.
  • Somewhat related, the first couples to avert Sleeping Single in the early days of television had some type of Weirdness Coupon that made it not "count." Fred and Wilma Flintstone were animated, Samantha Stephens was a witch, Herman and Lily Munster weren't really considered human. Apart from Ur-Example Mary Kay and Johnny, all the way back in 1947, who snuck in before the rules were made, whose stars were married in real life, and are sadly forgotten due to only one episode of the show surviving, the first real, human, coupon-free couple sharing a bed on television were Mike and Carol Brady.
  • It was repeatedly commented by the producers of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that if they had a joke that some might find to be in poor taste, they always had one of the robots make it. Because people were more willing to accept that sort of thing from a puppet.
  • South Park uses a similar tactic.
  • Jeff Dunham lists this as the same reason people were okay with Achmed the Dead Terrorist.
  • As shown in the page quote, the MythBusters can get away with a wide variety of bizarre requests and actions by virtue of their reputation at this point. It's a far cry from when they started out; the group originally had to jury-rig a rocket together due to the difficulty of obtaining one legitimately. Hilariously, when they first attempted to obtain a JATO rocket, the Air Force sent not one, but two letters of denial. The MythBusters interpreted this as a literal "No. Just... No" Reaction — the second letter was just to reinforce just how denied their request was.
  • House:
    • Dr. House is given a lot of leeway in doing bizarre, irritating, and often illegal things by the staff at PPH. One of many, many instances of this included his shooting a corpse in the hospital's morgue. A horrified technician hears the gunshot and runs to find House with a pistol standing over the body. Nothing more is made of the incident. House's explanation:
      House: He's dead. I shot him.
    • Cuddy also realizes this, as per his Bunny-Ears Lawyer status, and delivered the following quote:
      Cuddy: When I hired you, I knew you were insane. I will continue to try and stop you from doing insane things, but once they're done, trying to convince an insane person not to do insane things is, in itself, insane. So when I hired you, I also set aside fifty thousand a year for legal expenses. So far, you've come in under budget.
    • Also, when one of House's fellows wants to talk to him, he calmly cuts her off, saying "Sexual harassment claims go through HR, stress-related leaves through workman's comp., and any accusations of criminal activities go directly to the Princeton Plainsboro police department."
  • Attempted by Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation after he brings a live pig to a barbecue that he plans to slaughter and cook and a Park Ranger tells him he can't. Usually this winds up working for him, but in this particular case it fails.
    Ron: Not to worry, I have a permit.
    [hands Ranger a piece of paper]
    Ranger: This just says "I can do what I want."
  • In the All Stars season of RuPaul's Drag Race Nina Flowers is the only one who doesn't react to Tammie Brown taking a question about what underwear Nina wears by deciding the best way to figure that out is to "smell the flowers" and sniff at her partner for a few seconds, since Nina had been on their original season with Tammie and was just used to her odd behavior.
  • In the Seinfeld episode "The Kiss Hello," Elaine has no idea how to tell one of her friends that her hairstyle is unflattering. Jerry points out that "Kramer's the only person who could say something like that," and George suggests introducing them to cue Kramer's reflexive Brutal Honesty. It only doesn't work because Kramer actually likes her hair.

  • Many critics would probably write off Of Montreal's lyrics as misogynistic if they were more conventional in music style or presentation, especially on the albums Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (answer: "You are not the destroyer" / "Du er ikke densom ødelegger, fitta") and Icons, Abstract Thee, written when the primary lyricist was having problems with his wife... but they're so creatively misogynistic...
  • Eminem's persona as a white outsider, a Shock Jock and the class clown of rap lets him get away with things that no other rapper would get away with. He's used this for noble goals like accusing MTV out on racism for celebrating him far more than black rappers (while eating crackers while staring the camera dead in the eye), to go against the company line (in the documentary The Defiant Ones, he's the only person willing to call out "the Beats thing" as bullshit) and to get away with things that would get other rappers murdered (such as accusing P Diddy of having killed Tupac Shakur). He starts his verse on "Bitch Please II" by ripping off Snoop Dogg's lyrics and flow, with Snoop's response just being to metaphorically shake his head and say, "he's so crazy". Many of the female celebrities he's savaged in his songs were delighted by the shoutouts.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dragonlance features a race of mischievous kleptomaniacs called Kender, who can rarely resist swiping small (usually valueless) objects from people. Needless to say, generations of gamers have used this as an excuse to steal from their party members. The willingness of other players to put up with this Coupon varies greatly, and has caused Kender to be The Scrappy among many groups.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade has the Malkavians, a clan of vampires where every one of them is insane. Some players use this as an excuse to say or do the most bizarre things in character. Such as worship a fire hydrant, or argue that the universe is resting on the back of a dog. A surprisingly large number of players tolerate this, if only because a well played Malkavian can cause major damage to their enemies, either in combat or in the political arena.
  • On a meta level, this is a frequent aspect of games involving players of Chaotic Stupid characters, particularly The Loonie. If it fits the tone of the game, the rest of the table may be happy to grant such PCs Weirdness Coupons, but if not it can cause tension if the GM permits "wacky" characters to get away with stuff others would suffer consequences for.

    Video Games 
  • The other leaders cut Cyrus in Civilization 6 some slack when he declares surprise wars. After all, it's Cyrus. It's what he does.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has the Psijic Order, a powerful Magical Society and the oldest monastic order in Tamriel. Due to having so Sufficiently Analyzed Magic over thousands of years, the Order is capable of performing magical feats (and on a scale) that no other group in Tamriel (save for perhaps the extinct Dwemer) is able to match. These abilities include Telepathy, Astral Projection, Weather Manipulation, the ability to make their entire home island (Artaeum) disappear without a trace, and there are even reports that they possess a limited form of clairvoyance and sight into future events. While the Order has a Prime Directive which limits their direct intervention in the affairs of outside groups, they do offer their service to the leaders of Tamriel as advisors, a sacred duty which they call "seliffrnsae," meaning "grave and faithful counsel." However, after Emperor Uriel Septim V ignored their warnings against an invasion of Akavir (which cost the Empire many of their legions and took the life of Uriel V himself), the Septim Empire became distrustful of the Psijics and barred their ambassadors from the Imperial City. In the 4th Era, following the reformation of the Aldmeri Dominion under the leadership of the religious extremist Thalmor, the Psijics have withdrawn completely from worldly affairs and have caused Artaeum to disappear once again. In their very limited contact with outsiders, they have mostly acted as an Omniscient Council of Vagueness and occasional Mysterious Backer. Overall, being able to withdraw completely from the mortal world gives them major advantages, such as having whatever they're doing being written off as in the best interests of Tamriel and being able to stand up to even the Thalmor.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: In Endwalker, one stretch of the main story quest has you sent back in time to Elpis, before the World Sundering. Since as a Fish out of Temporal Water you're gonna stick out like a sore thumb, one of the first people you meet suggests claiming to be one of Azem's familiars, since your soul is the same color as theirs. This gives you a direct connection with an infamous Bunny-Ears Lawyer, and everyone in the area who hears it immediately accepts it as completely explaining everything odd about you.
  • The Metal Gear Solid series has a Ho Yay coupon that its fanbase either completely embraces and revels in or at the very least complacently tolerates. Similarly the plots, which usually start out somewhat grounded and straight-faced (rescue the hostages of terrorists from an offshore oil-cleaning facility) and gradually turn completely bonkers (sword fight the former President who's also your adopted dad who's also your former superior from when you were a Child Soldier who's also a clone of your mentor on the roof of Federal Hall, which he's just crashed a giant mech into, at the behest of the AI conspiracy controlling America that's been impersonating both your girlfriend and your commander for an unspecified amount of time).
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, the Mad Oracle Malkavian player characters can get away with behaviour (using potentially insulting nicknames, suggesting you might know about things worth killing to keep hidden) which... granted, you're already being sent to get killed, but this ought to be hastening the process considerably.

    Visual Novels 
  • In The Fruit of Grisaia, this is the general reaction whenever Sachi is found doing something weird. A combination of following any order she's given and an amazing lack of common sense lead to her having no problem with doing such things as stripping off her maid uniform and using it as a makeshift mop to clean the bathroom. When Sakaki walks in on that scene, and Yuuji protests he did not order her to do that (he'd just earlier made a joke about using clothing as cleaning rags), Sakaki immediately accepts it, because she knows Sachi well enough to realize Sachi just took something she heard way too literally again.

    Web Comics 
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, the titular Doctor is apparently licensed by the city of Cumberland to deal with all the weird supernatural occurrences, such as giant rampaging Paul Bunyans, dinosaur-riding banditos, tricky lobster-men, and zombie ninjas. As revealed in "There's a Raptor in My Office", the law has been bent to accommodate the Doc — his actions are frequently less than legal, but if he can get back to his office and declare "Base", then all charges against him are dropped.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: In a crew deliberately built with Bunny-Ears Lawyer in mind, Lalli accumulates mage powers that let him see things Invisible to Normals, an Ambiguous Disorder, No Social Skills, a solitary nature and a very lackluster education, which results in a pass to act even more strangely than everyone else. The downside to this is tha Lalli's cousin and Cloudcuckoolander's Minder, already guilty of getting Tactful Translation and Translation with an Agenda mixed up, sometimes ends up not paying much attention to something Lalli is saying when she should be.

    Web Original 
  • In Skippy's List, the titular Skippy buys a frozen squid and leaves it in the shower to thaw. When his roommate comes home and finds it, he lets the incident pass with zero context:
    Roommate: Is that a squid in our shower?
    Skippy: Yep.
    Roommate: What's it doing in there?
    Skippy: Thawing.
    Roommate: Goodnight.

    Web Videos 
  • Noob: The wake of the first Wham Episode put a spotlight on the Weirdness Coupon the protagonists give each other. At the time, Omega Zell isn't aware of what happened and would be completely freaking out if he was. He runs into Arthéon and can tell something is on his mind, while Arthéon is surprised at his blissfulness. The following conversation happens:
    Omega Zell: What's up? Has Sparadrap been acting up again?
    Arthéon: No...
    Omega Zell: Has Gaea looted the guild funds?
    Arthéon: If only she had!
    Omega Zell: Has Judge Dead banned you again?
    Arthéon: It's worse than that!
    Omega Zell: What then? You're scaring me, Arthéon...

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible: She, or her sidekick, are often hit by weird ray-guns, or grabbed by Clingy MacGuffins, or affected by magic amulets or whatever, and have to deal with the wacky consequences to their home lives, but no-one seems to think this behavior out of the ordinary — for her. And that's not even mentioning their frequent bunking off school to go and save the world.
  • Justice League Unlimited:
    • An exploited example occurs when the Question discovers evidence of an alternate universe where Superman kills Lex Luthor, leading to a coup where the Justice Lords rule the world. The Question, in response to what he thinks is a probable future, attempts to kill Lex first, because, as he is already regarded as an unstable crackpot by society at large, he rationalises that the Justice League would be better equipped to weather the incident than if any of the more respected League members (especially Superman) were to commit to it.
    • Likewise in a later part of the same Arc, Batman gets away with not turning himself in with the rest of the big 7 by playing on his Loner image.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Pinkie Pie. In a show where weather-controlling pegasi and magical unicorns are the norm, she regularly does things even more outrageous as long as it's funny. Examples include popping out of locations she could not possibly fit inside of, arriving at a destination ahead of characters flying at MACH 3, and fighting the show's closing iris to complain to the audience.
    • In-universe, too — It's common for Pinkie to do something inexplicable and the other ponies just write it off as Pinkie Pie being Pinkie Pie, in about that many words. Even scenes of Pinkie Pie doing blatantly impossible physical acts like crawling walls or stretching her neck out tend to only elicit, at most, mildly confused reactions from those around her.
    • Works against her in "Swarm of the Century", when Pinkie's attempts to get the others to help her get the means to deal with the problem of the week are dismissed as her just being Pinkie Pie.
    • The best demonstration of this may be from the episode "Party of One". While trying to figure out what her friends are doing behind her back, she dresses up as a haystack... wearing Groucho Marx glasses. In a world where Groucho Marx never existed. Rainbow Dash not only immediately recognizes and casually greets her, but her freak-out right after is completely unrelated to how Pinkie is dressed.
    • When Twilight shows up to help Pinkie babysit in "Baby Cakes", Pinkie answers the door wearing two diapers (one was on her head; she had just achieved Epic Fail trying to change the twins). This passes entirely without comment from Twilight.
    • Pinkie has an almost literal coupon: the show's creators work under the regulation of trying to minimize the normal gags in cartoons; they pop up from others but rather infrequently. When one script/storyboard for an early episode has Pinkie doing something outlandish (the specific incident wasn't addressed), the response was basically "Okay, but only Pinkie." Then they realized the potential for hysterics of having exactly one pony act toonish could be, if only for the juxtaposition.
    • In the spinoff movie Equestria Girls, as Twilight prepares to tell her Cassandra Truth of being from another world to the human versions of her friends, human Pinkie not only guesses what she's going to say, but provides an accurate summary of why. When asked how she knows that, Pinkie simply says, "Just a hunch!", which everyone accepts as a logical explanation.
    • The bloopers segment of Equestria Girls has a scene where human Pinkie and pony Pinkie high-five and swap worlds as if it's routine. Any other character in the show, even Discord, and fans would have pointed out plot holes. With Pinkie Pie, "THIS EXPLAINS EVERYTHING".
  • Exploited by Starfire in an episode of Teen Titans. She invents a holiday from her home planet to cover up the half-eaten curtains from the mutant larvae she was hiding, and earns nothing more than a dismissive comment from Raven due to her previous Fish out of Water antics.
  • Similar to the The Addams Family above, Helga Pataki of Hey Arnold! fame gets away with some pretty risque stuff for what's nominally a kid's show, but depicting tortured adolescent female sexuality just doesn't have the same impact coming from a hilarious cartoon character who kind of looks like a billy goat.
  • For similar reasons, Tina Belcher from Bob's Burgers was actually changed from a boy in early production into a girl because the creators realized that what came off as disturbing coming from a male character simply became funny when said by a female one.

    Real Life