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Wrote the Book

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"I was a marriage counselor. You could say I wrote the book on healthy relationships. And I did! It's called, 'How to Spot Problems in a Marriage From 100 Miles Away.'"
Nina, The Good Place, "Category 55 Emergency Doomsday Crisis"

A Stock Phrase commonly used when a character complains or brags about something, to which another character disregards their comment by saying something around the lines of "Don't tell me about that, I wrote the book on it!". There are two distinct contexts in which this gets used:

  • A character is making a boast about their own expertise on a subject.
  • A character commends someone else for being well-renowned on a given subject.

Generally, the "book" in question is just hyperbole and no such thing was ever published; although this can be parodied if it's claimed that they "literally wrote the book on it".

Common variations include "X? I'm the king of X!", "I invented X!" and "X is my middle name!" Again, usually hyperbole, except when it isn't.


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  • In the 1970s, Jeep's tag line was "We wrote the book on four-wheel drive."
  • An old TV ad for Sydney personal injury law firm Stacks Goudkamp stated their managing director Tom Goudkamp "knows every trick in the book; in fact, he wrote it." This claim was Not Hyperbole; Goudkamp actually did co-author the NSW Personal Injury Law Manual.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In 11eyes, the reason that Kusakabe Misuzu's techniques doesn't work on Superbia is because the latter is actually Kusakabe Misao, the founder of her very techniques, who is also her distant ancestor.

    Comic Books 
  • In Kingdom Come, Clark and Diana go to eat at Planet Krypton (a themed restaurant parodying Planet Hollywood), and Clark is concerned about the two of them possibly being noticed. Diana simply comments, "You wrote the book on secret identities."
  • In Justice Society of America, when Green Lantern faces his corrupted son Obsidian, the latter dismisses his willpower, to which Alan answers that he wrote the book about willpower.
  • Wacky Races #4 (Gold Key run, August, 1971): In "Follow Through To Yoo-Hoo", the narrator notes that the racers' devil-may-care driving is attributed to a book—"How To Win A Race By Hook or Crook," written by the series' villain, Dick Dastardly.
  • All-Star Squadron: In Issue #16, Wonder Woman tells Metal Man that when it comes to tough, the Amazons wrote the book.
  • Wolverine Vol 2, #13:
    Wolverine: I make him mad. But I figure that's okay... I wrote the book on mad.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield: April 21, 1990.
    TV: Viewers, are you lethargic? Then let us help you.
    Garfield: No thanks. I wrote the book on lethargy.

    Fan Works 
  • Another Hatchling: Turns out Spike literally wrote the book on a certain subject. And it's one of his friends who points this out (with Twilight immediately asking why he didn't mention it sooner and where she can get a copy):
    Twilight Velvet: It's one thing to know your grandson is built to eat other creatures, [...] Quite another to wrap your head around him writing the Gourmet Predator's Guide to the Galaxy.
    Anthony: That's actually still the fifth best seller, last time I checked.
  • Child of the Storm
    • Doctor Strange is the literal author of several authoritative books of magic. However, in keeping with his need-to-know attitude (as Harry puts it, 'there's one person who needs to know, and it's him'), they tend not to appear often. Furthermore, in keeping with his quirky sense of humour, they tend to have rather odd titles - he gives Harry one called Blood Magic for Morons, just after Harry's done something particularly stupid.
    • The Lady Knight takes this up a notch - she didn't write the book on swordsmanship, she taught the people who wrote the book(s) on swordsmanship (in the West).
  • A Young Woman's Political Record: Ian Flemons gives a variation regarding Tanya, saying most aerial mages "learned their business by cribbing from [her] notes" before stating that the naval battle between Germania and Francois has made it clear that "school is back in session".
  • Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion: C.C. states that Nonette was one of the original Knightmare test pilots and functionally wrote the book on Knightmare Frame combat.
  • Lelouch of the Apotheosis: As part of her Adaptational Badass status, C.C. was one of the three original Knightmare pilots alongside Bismark and Marianne, and the three of them literally wrote the book on Knightmare combat, as seen when C.C. trounces Cornelia with ease despite using an older model Knightmare.
  • Harry and the Shipgirls reveals that the destroyer Fubuki, after studying countless records of naval battles in World War II, wrote a comprehensive book on tactics that shipgirls should use in combat. Yet another reason the Mother of Modern Destroyers is treated with respect by countless ships, even those far above her weight class.

    Films — Animation 
  • Anastasia: While Dimitri and Vlad sing to "Anya" about Anastasia's mischievous childhood:
    Anya: Was I wild?
    Dimitri: Wrote the book!
  • Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World: LePlume says that he wrote the book on love (he's a talking quill pen).
  • From the 1994 film The Pagemaster:
    Adventure: I wrote the book on sailing. In fact, I am the book on sailing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • From the 1974 film Herbie Rides Again:
    Alonzo Hawk: Since none of your pitiful excuses for men have enough muscle to move a feeble little old lady off her property, I'll go and do it myself, like I have to everything that's important around here.
    Lawyer: Now, Mr. Hawk...
    Alonzo Hawk: Oh, shut up! We'll start on Number 1 - Harassment! And I wrote the book on harassment - We'll shut up her phone, turn off her water; we'll sic the Health & Building inspectors on her, steal her dog.
  • From the 1999 film Teaching Mrs. Tingle:
    Leigh Ann Watson: I am not scared of you.
    Mrs. Tingle: Who do you think you're fooling? You're so scared I can smell it. Your fear is the most predictable thing about you. You've lived your whole life in fear. Terrified of making a mistake. Scared to death you won't get that A, that ticket out. Afraid you'll never escape your mother and her name tag. Or your father who won't return your calls. That's why you shunned Luke and every other boy who has ever tried to put his hands on you. You're afraid of getting that bad seed. Afraid of giving birth to a child you never wanted. A child you could only blame for your own wretched existence. Stuck in a small town with a small name. Destined to become that very thing you despise the most. I know all about it, Leigh Ann. I wrote the book! I know you.
  • From the 1989 film The Punisher:
    Sam Leary: So how come you never gave up on Frank Castle, like everybody else did?
    Jake: Because I know what it's like to be given up on.
    Sam Leary: Who gave up on you?
    Jake: Everyone and myself. You know how most cops like to go out for a drink after work? Well, I kept moving on up... to the drink before work, the drink during work, and finally the drink instead of work. It got to be a real problem; nobody wanted to deal with it, least of all me. Before I knew it, I was down to cleaning empty shells off the firing range. Then along came Frank Castle, ex-Marine commando with a shiny new police badge, and a request to learn from the man who wrote the book on busting bad guys: me. He helped me get my act together, and the rest is history.
  • From the 1990 film The Grifters:
    Lilly Dillon: You're working some angle, and don't tell me you're not because I wrote the book!
  • The "I invented" variation is used in The Santa Clause 3:
    Lucy Miller: Okay, okay, chill!
    Jack Frost: I invented chill!
  • Played with in Patton: General Patton knows that Rommel literally wrote the book on tank warfare, so he reads it and uses that knowledge to predict what Rommel will do at their first big showdown.
    Patton: Rommel, you Magnificent Bastard, I read your book!
  • In the film of L.A. Confidential, when Exley and Bud White go to question the DA, at one point he tells them "Don't pull that Good Cop/Bad Cop crap on me, I practically invented it." At that point Exley just lets Bud go into full blown Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique. At the end, after the terrified DA has told them everything he knows, Exley sarcastically asks him if that's how he used to do the good cop/bad cop routine.
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?: Pappy O'Daniel says of himself, "I invented moral fiber!" (This in response to his political rival, also KKK member Homer Stokes, whose campaign claims that O'Daniel "lacks moral fiber".)
  • Pretty Woman: Late in the film, Richard Gere's character of Edward Lewis says that "I know about wanting more. I invented the concept."
  • Dr. Grace Augustine in Avatar, being one of the lead scientists in the Hell's Gate colony, quite literally wrote the book on Pandora and the Na'vi.
  • Likewise in Zack Snyder's Justice League. When a soldier in a Hazmat Suit tells Dr. Silas Stone that he has to be quarantined due to U.S. Government protocols for contact with aliens, Dr. Stone interrupts to say that he already knows as he was the one who wrote them.

  • An urban legend tells of a highly respected Criminology instructor with years of experience who taught at a state college for ten years. However, he only had a BA and growing credential inflation forced him to enroll in another college to get a graduate degree and keep his job. On his first day of class, his instructor asked him if he was related to the person who wrote the textbook due to having the same name... only for the "student" to reply that he wrote the textbook.
  • When Rae Johnston was told by a man who took offense at her Bioshock Infinite t-shirt "I bet you haven't even played", she took revenge by telling him the ending. It was obvious on his face that he hadn't reached the ending yet.
  • Diane Duane describes a similar situation involving Privateer 2, for which she wrote the screenplay.

  • Discworld:
    • According to Making Money, this is quite literal for zombie-lawyer Mr. Slant.
      Mr. Slant: You know those leather-bound tomes you have on the wall behind your desk to impress your clients? I have read them all, and I wrote half of them.
    • Another Discworld example is in Sourcery, where Evil Chancellor Abrim is described with the sentence "He probably wrote the book on dirty tricks, or more probably, stole it from someone else."
    • In Carpe Jugulum, when Reverend Oats confronts the Count with passages from the Book of Om, the Count starts quoting the passages back at him, and reveals that he was involved in writing some sections of the book himself, causing Oats to quite seriously question his faith in the holy text.
  • Everworld: Merlin tells Senna it's not a good idea to play games with gods. Senna bitterly counters that he plays those games, Merlin smiles and says "I invented those games".
  • Harry Potter:
    • Inverted in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when Hagrid complains that Lockhart (who did write the book on dealing with magical pestsnote ) insisted on giving him advice despite the fact it wasn't anything he didn't know. In the end we find out Lockhart didn't actually do anything he wrote about, having learned and the memory-wiped those responsible.
    • When Snape eagerly starts in on how Harry and Ron have broken Wizarding law with the whole "flying car" stunt, Dumbledore cuts him off, saying, "I'm well-aware of our by-laws, Severus, having written quite a few of them myself."
  • In the first Protector of the Small, Keladry actually grins when she finds out the textbook on Yamani manners being used in her etiquette class was written by her father, the former Yamani ambassador. When challenged by her instructor, she tells him that it's not uncommon to be executed for bowing the wrong way.
  • In the first chapters of Monster Hunter International, Earl Harbinger reassures Z that Owen isn't a werewolf, giving a bunch of syndromes he doesn't have and stating that "he wrote a book about werewolves". It's unsure whether he did or not , as Earl is a werewolf himself.
  • In the second book of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Machiavelli uses this. He gets to say not only that he wrote the book, but that he did so four hundred years ago. (If it isn't obvious, this is one of the Not Hyperbole examples.)
  • In The Unadulterated Cat by Terry Pratchett, Terry describes a particularly lazy cat who gained a reputation as a mouser by stealing mice from another cat with "When it came to delegation, this was the cat who got someone else to write the book".
  • Clue: In the introduction to the book The Vanishing Vampire, Mr. Boddy says of Mrs. Peacock, "When it comes to manners, this lady wrote the book. In fact, she wrote all of them."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Mayor. "There's more than one way to skin a cat. And I happen to know that's factually true!"
  • From the episode "T'was the Fight Before Christmas" of McCloud:
    Kate O'Hannah: New York is the coldest city in the world to be in... when you're alone.
    Sam McCloud: Hey, why don't you tell me about it, I wrote the book.
  • From the episode "The Return of Bigfoot" of The Six Million Dollar Man:
    Col. Steve Austin: I don't know. It's... it's like there's something there. I can almost remember, but not quite... it's frustrating.
    Jamie Sommers: Tell me about it. I'm the one who wrote the book on partial memory, remember?
  • From the episode "That's Show Biz" of M*A*S*H:
    Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce: That's right up my alley, I wrote the book on the appendix. I even wrote the appendix, but they took that out.
  • From the episode "Revenging Angel" of Farscape, in which Crichton is trapped in an imaginary cartoon version of the series. Being Genre Savvy however, he can outsmart everyone else there.
    John Crichton: Dr. Chuck Jones wrote the book on these situations.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • From the episode "The Best of Both Worlds: Part Two":
      Guinan: Did he ever tell you why we're so close?
      Captain William T. Riker: No.
      Guinan: Oh... Then let me just say that... our relationship is beyond friendship, beyond family. And I will let him go. And you must do the same. There can only be one Captain.
      Captain William T. Riker: It's not that simple. This was his crew. He wrote the book on this ship.
      Guinan: If the Borg know everything he knows, it's time to throw that book away. You must let him go, Riker. It's the only way to beat him. The only way to save him. And that is now your chair, Captain.
    • From the episode "Relics", where La Forge and Scotty are trying to restart an antique starship:
      Scotty: Shunt the deuterium from the main cryo-pump to the auxiliary tank.
      La Forge: Er, the tank can't withstand that kind of pressure.
      Scotty: [laughs] Where'd you get that idea?
      La Forge: What do you mean, where did I get that idea? It's in the impulse engine specifications.
      Scotty: Regulation 42/15 - Pressure Variances on the IRC Tank Storage?
      La Forge: Yeah.
      Scotty: Forget it. I wrote it. A good engineer is always a wee bit conservative, at least on paper. Just bypass the secondary cut-off valve and boost the flow. It'll work.
    • "Descent: Part I" opens with Data playing poker with the holographic recreations of Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton:
  • From the episode "There Might Be Blood" of Gossip Girl:
    Blair Waldorf: Please, I wrote the book on distracted self-centered mothers. My mom has never met a single one of my teachers, she regularly forgets my birthday, and she only comments on my appearance when she has something to criticize.
  • From the episode "Hothead" of Smallville:
    Lex Luthor: The Luthors wrote the book on uncomfortable silences.
  • Friends:
    • In the episode "The One Where Ross Moves In":
      Monica: Look, Larry, honey, I wrote the book on Section Five, and I know that you don't have to wear your hat unless you're in the kitchen.
      Larry: And where is your hat?
      Monica: It's in the kitchen. I'll go get it.
      Larry: And there's the two points.
      Phoebe: Hey, you should really read that book you wrote.
    • In the episode "The One With Rachel's Sister":
      Jill: [sobbing] I'm so sorry!
      Rachel: Please! I invented that!
  • In the episode "The Reunion Job" of Leverage, Larry Duberman (or Doucherman as people called him in high school) wrote the book on Database Security... I mean he literally wrote the book on Database Security.
  • The Community episode "Competitive Wine Tasting" has a professor who wrote a book on Who's the Boss? He then proceeds to try to shoehorn his opinion on Abed, but it turns out Abed knew more than he did.
  • In the Series Finale of Star Trek: Voyager, future Reg Barclay introduces Admiral Janeway to his class at Starfleet Academy as "the person who, literally, wrote the book on the Borg."
  • "I invented" rather than "wrote the book," but same principle. From Seinfeld:
    Gwen: It's Not You, It's Me.
    George: You're giving me the "it's not you, it's me" routine? I invented "it's not you, it's me". Nobody tells me it's them not me, if it's anybody it's me.
    Gwen: All right, George, it's you.
    George: You're damn right it's me.
    Gwen: I was just trying to...
    George: I know what you were trying to do. Nobody does it better than me.
    Gwen: I'm sure you do it very well.
  • In Eureka, Allison literally wrote the book on space medicine... or at least her alternate-universe counterpart did, which is almost as good. (She apparently did all the same research, she just never got around to publishing her thesis.)
  • Doctor Who gives us this gem:
    Doctor: Gravity, Schmavity! My people practically invented black holes. Actually, they did!
  • The Twilight Zone: The episode "He's Alive" centers around a neo-Nazi speaker getting tips from a man standing in the shadows. When the neo-Nazi accuses his benefactor of skulking in the darkness, the man answers, "I invented darkness!" He then emerges from the shadows, revealing that he's Adolf Hitler.
  • Supernatural. After having outsmarted Crowley, Lucifer points out that he invented the double-cross. Literally. But then Crowley outsmarts Lucifer. "I perfected the double-cross. Literally."
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • After Daisy nearly gets herself killed in a prison riot, May confronts her:
      May: I know what you're doing. Trying to distance yourself from everyone else so they don't drown in your wake? I invented that move. It doesn't work, for one simple reason: Phil Coulson.
    • In episode "Alien Commies from the Future", used quite literally by Sharpe when Mack and Yo-Yo tries to interrogate him:
      Sharpe: I didn't just teach interrogation and resistance, I wrote the field manual. Do your worst.
  • Used to psych out Chidi and Eleanor in the fifth episode of The Good Place. The neighbor come to stay with them claims to have written the book on healthy relationships (literally and figuratively), which puts them in trouble since they're just pretending to be soulmates.
  • A variation in The Professionals when George Cowley is detained on suspicion of being The Mole in the episode "Need to Know", and it's pointed out that he wrote the procedures they're using on him now.
  • Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color: At the beginning of "The Ranger's Guide to Nature", Walt introduces the show by inviting us to take a trip to a special nature camp and opening the book it happens to be in.
    Walt: The camp counselor is Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore, a rugged outdoorsman who knows nature like a book. In fact, he wrote the book; it's called Ranger Woodlore's Nature Guide. Right now, he's about to enroll three newcomers to his camp. So, let's get over there and listen in.

  • Elvis Costello, "Every Day I Write the Book"
  • "I Wrote the Book" by Matt King:
    Well, I don't know who wrote the book of love
    But, let me tell ya a little 'bout heartache…
  • "Sound of Madness" by Shinedown has the lyric "I wrote the book on pain."
  • Crossed with Pretender Diss, from Insane Clown Posse's "How Many Times?":
    "How many times will a kid give a dirty look?
    A little punk-ass bitch tryin to be a crook
    I wrote the book, I was out robbin' liquor stores
    When you were just a nut stain in your momma's drawers"
  • "Ain't My Last Dance" and "Roll Dem Bones" by Five Finger Death Punch. Coincidentally, both songs are track 4 on their respective albums.
    "I wrote the fucking book with no consensus."
    "I wrote the book on that shit. Bound it, backed it, burned it all down."

    Pro Wrestling 

  • In Wonderful Town, Ruth says that she could write the book on "One Hundred Easy Ways to Lose a Man."

    Video Games 
  • From Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Joe The Condor's victory quote against Zero:
    "You've got speed, I'll give you that. But your textbook fighting style isn't gonna work on the man who wrote the book!"
  • In Super Mario 64, one of the Toads in the castle says that "Bowser wrote the book on bad."
  • In Fallout: New Vegas the chef of White Glove Society offers the following appraisal of his culinary talents:
    Philippe: I'm the fucking god of New Vegas brahmin fusion cuisine, that's who. No, no, that doesn't even give me the credit I deserve. I fucking invented edible food.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Garrus invites Shepard to a friendly shooting competition on the Presidium. After Shepard makes the first shot, Garrus claims that it was an easy one and says "Long range, I wrote the book."
  • Musaad Mayfield, optional bonus Scout of Valkyria Chronicles claims he wrote the book on trench warfare. Despite his frequent Hubris, he's likely not exaggerating much; his enemies have compared his ability to fight in and evade into trenches to that of a mole.
  • Red Alert: Uprising, Commander's Challenge.
    Hill: I wrote the book on tank tactics, boy.
  • XCOM: Chimera Squad: One of Chimera Squad's agents is Godmother, a veteran agent and former military instructor. Her main quote is almost the trope title.
    "Of course my plan is 'by-the-book.' I wrote half the book."

    Web Comics 
  • Bram & Vlad: Of course Abraham Van Helsing wrote a 900 pages handbook on vampires. Of course he did.
  • Girl Genius, after Gil reminds Vole who's the boss:
    Gilgamesh: My father once wrote a monograph on how to communicate in the workplace. All seven popes ordered it burned.

    Web Videos 
  • From commodoreHUSTLE:
    Morgan: James, please. When it comes to gay chicken, I practically wrote the book. Remember the groundbreaking assault that was International Cup Bill's Balls Week?
  • Referenced in Patrick H. Willems' video on the early career of Francis Ford Coppola. After Coppola's bad experience directing Finian's Rainbow, Patrick says, Coppola got together with his friends George Lucas and Walter Murch to make the The Rain People. While Coppola and Lucas need no introduction, Patrick emphasizes Murch's significance by holding up a copy of In the Blink of an Eye and saying, "Walter Murch is the guy who literally wrote the book on editing."

    Western Animation 
  • Played With in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
    Trap Jaw: I didn't know you could do that!
    Skeletor: I could write a book about what you don't know!
  • From the episode "Jumpin' Crack Bass" of King of the Hill (also a case of Metaphorgotten):
    Storekeeper: This fella never went to school. He grew up in the hills, but he wrote the book on homemade bait. 'Course it's just a bunch of scribbles 'cause he never went to school.
  • The Simpsons:
  • Spoofed on Futurama, "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back"
    Number 1.0: Don't quote me regulations! I co-chaired the committee that reviewed the recommendation to change the color of the book that regulation's in. We kept it gray.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: "I know regulations. I wrote half of them!" quoth Buzz.
  • Looney Tunes: The Foghorn Leghorn cartoon "Raw Raw Rooster!" has Foggy trying one-up his loudmouthed college classmate Rhode Island Red with a series of mistimed booby traps, one of them an exploding golf ball.
    Foghorn: Golf... I say, golf, anyone?
    Red: Golf? Why, you're talkin' to the man who practically invented the game!

    Real Life 
  • At the time of World War II, airborne assault was still a relatively new concept. In the United States, James "Jumpin' Jim" Gavin became the commanding officer of the brand new 503rd Parachute Infantry Division and was given permission to develop the basic tactics and rules of airborne combat, based on his own experiences as well as what he had learned by studying German and Russian paratroopers and glider troops. His extensive military career launched from this point (he was later one of the leaders of the landing at Normandy), and when an interviewer asked him how his career took off so quickly, he replied, "I wrote the book." He meant it literally - James authored FM 31-30: Tactics and technique of Air-Borne Troops, the fundamentals of which are still used by the U.S. military today.

Alternative Title(s): Wrote The Book On It, I Invented X, The King Of X