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Somewhat of a Double Standard trope (it has more to do with looks than sex, though it does benefit women more than men). This is where a beautiful / handsome character gets away with morally ambiguous things, despite how those same actions would undoubtedly be questioned if they were done by ugly people. It can be lampshaded or never addressed (allowing the viewers themselves to notice it).

This kind of treatment can lead to the character being Easily Forgiven and becoming a Karma Houdini. Quite a few times, if the attractive character is a Stalker with a Crush toward another character, other characters will excuse their questionable actions as Stalking Is Love. Other times, characters might excuse it due to assuming that Beauty Equals Goodness (despite the character's dubious actions appearing to contradict that).

When it's the fans that excuse the character's actions for this reason, the character is a Draco in Leather Pants.

Obviously, this trope has a lot of Truth in Television.

Related to What Measure Is a Non-Cute? and Screw the Rules, I Have Money. I Have Boobs - You Must Obey! can be considered a subtrope of this. Contrast Kavorka Man. Compare So Beautiful It's a Curse; any character who combines the two is just begging for a Hatedom. Compare and contrast also with Favors for the Sexy and Distracted by the Sexy.

Examples of Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful include:


Anime & Manga

  • Boa Hancock from One Piece is a walking lampshade of this trope. Except, that is, around Luffy, who is apparently the only person who doesn't buy into her beauty. All the other characters, however, forgive all the nasty things she does to them (if not that they didn't even notice that she was doing nasty things to them). In fact, her catch phrase is "Everyone would forgive me... for I am beautiful!" The thing is, she's absolutely right.
    • This includes literally kicking puppies, kittens and baby seals.
    • Though there were a few other guys who have managed to resist her other than Luffy, including Vice-Admiral Momonga, Smoker, and Trafalgar Law.
  • Sagara Sousuke from Full Metal Panic has a mission to follow Kaname around and protect her from terrorists, but he must not let her know he's doing that. So to Kaname and everyone else, he's acting like a creepy Stalker with a Crush. The only thing is, she completely underreacts to his insanely creepy and scary behavior, even blushing and acting extremely shy when talking about him. In fact, hardly knowing him (other than seeing him throw himself off a train to continue stalking her), she actually starts fishing around for an answer if he has a girlfriend or lover, and is shown to be ridiculously happy when he tells her she's his "special person." It undoubtedly has quite a bit to do with his good looks, seeing how she acts towards men who don't even do nearly as much crap as Sousuke but are ugly. It's only when he gets to the point where he's on her balcony at night holding her panties that she gets angry.
    • Though he did save her from getting hit by a truck before the aforementioned train incident.
    • And in the novels, his being able to screw the rules because of his looks is Lampshaded. He had always been a bit suspicious about how all the other guerrillas that were working with him treated him a lot nicer than they treated anyone else, and he got away with a lot more. Turns out that they all wanted to jump him.
  • Rokudo Mukuro from Katekyo Hitman Reborn, who is Easily Forgiven by Tsuna despite showing absolutely no remorse for all the atrocities he committed. Despite how his ultimate goal is even more horrifying than Xanxus's, Tsuna shows much less mercy and pity towards Xanxus (who, before the Art Evolution, was shown to be substantially less prettier than Mukuro). It's highly doubtful that Tsuna would have shown so much compassion for him if he were ugly.
  • In Death Note, Light gets away with a bunch of crap by using his good looks to entice both women and men. Not to mention his status as a Draco in Leather Pants among fandom.
  • Tamamo from Hell Teacher Nube gets away with lots of things that Nube is beaten up for just because he's a White-Haired Pretty Boy and Nube is pretty average looking at best.
  • Mitsuko from Battle Royale. She's been using her body to get anything she wants from pretty much any man (or girl) ever since she was young. Her entire strategy during Battle Royale was pretty much to rely on her beautiful looks and sex appeal to trick people into trusting her and giving her everything, only to betray them and kill them. It worked very well for her... until she reached Kiriyama.
  • The Hotel Owner in the Murder at the Hot-springs Arc of The Wallflower justifies herself with this trope.
  • MW's Michio: Even the Guys Want Him, and he works it for his best advantage.
  • Monster's Johan: similarly.
  • Pick any Tenchi Muyo! series, and there are probably characters who use this at some point. An egregious example include the part in Tenchi GXP where four young women get away with raping a 15-year old boy because they're beautiful and female (and because they're foreign emissaries.)
  • Aira Harune of Pretty Rhythm wants to veer away from the awkward clothing (which her father forces her to wear, much to her mother's disdain) to wear something a lot more beautiful (and to the delight of her fans, very sexy). More notably, she's at her sexiest when she wears her Prism Show outfits during the first episodes of its first two seasons, Aurora Dream and Dear My Future.


Comicbooks

  • In an early Doonesbury cartoon, two children were playing in a sandbox at the daycare center where Joanie Caucus was working after she left her family. The boy says, "When I grow up, I will get a wife." The girl says, "What's a wife?" to which the boy describes the male sexist stereotypical view of wifely functions (Doonesbury is often amusing, frequently insightful, but never subtle). The girl responds "That sounds good, I think I will get a wife too," to which the boy says, "Get a pretty one, they never get traffic tickets."
  • Eva Lord in Sin City uses her looks to get away with her crimes. Lampshaded when she tries to get a chunk of Wallenquist's organization, only for him to tell her that just because she's beautiful, he's not going to cave-in.


Fan Fiction


Film

  • Edward Cullen from Twilight stalked Bella and watched her sleep. She didn't mind. Lampshaded and made fun of in the Abridged Script: "Holy fucking shit! If you weren't so hot I'd have you arrested!"
  • Terminator: Rise of the Machines subverts this when the Terminatrix uses her rather extensive equipment to give herself an "upgrade." She then utters a rather sultry, "Hello, officer," and it appears that she'll use her assets to avoid a ticket. Instead, she kills the police officer and takes his pistol. Not that she really needs it.
  • "What are you going to do, arrest me for smoking?" - Catherine Tramell, Basic Instinct
  • Invoked unsuccessfully in Muriel's Wedding.
  • Dr. Frank N. Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show uses his charms and good looks to get away with all sorts of immoral acts. It works quite well until Riff Raff and Magenta turn on him.
  • Played straight and subverted in The Cannonball Run. Jill and Marcie are the racers in the Lamborghini who make use of their skintight catsuits and strategic zipper adjustment to get out of a traffic ticket. It fails miserably the second time they try it when they look up and see the smiling face of a blonde cop who has her own assets prominently displayed by her uniform shirt.
  • Averted, then later played almost straight in Love Potion Number Nine. The Hollywood Homely female scientist has a car that will stall if she stops at stop signs, and is caught running one by a cop. Her best efforts to escape a ticket fail early in the film. She succeeds after getting some of the titular potion later, though not really because she's any better looking.


Literature

  • This is addressed in the Warchild Series with Big Bad Falcone purposefully choosing attractive kids to make into his personal soldiers. He explicitly states that attractive people can get away with more, and they can use their appearances to get what they want out of people.
  • In the Geronimo Stilton book The Mona Mousa Code, Thea just has to bat her eyes and talk sweetly to the museum radiology technician to get him to show them what was revealed when a painting was x-rayed. Of course, they WERE already dating...
  • Tom Riddle - before he became Voldemort - from Harry Potter. It's practically Lampshaded; Harry himself notes how handsome Tom was (before he knows who he'd become), and it's made clear that Tom used the fact to his advantage. Good looks, charming manners and cunning persuasiveness can apparently get you pretty far.


Live-Action TV

  • In the Thirty Rock episode "The Bubble," we learn that incredibly hot people who look like Jon Hamm get special treatment while ordinary-looking people who look like Tina Fey don't.
  • Satirized in the first episode of Firefly when Mal tells Bendis "We're not gonna die. We can't die, Bendis. You know why? Because we are so very pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die. Huh? Look at that chiseled jaw."
    • Bendis dies.
  • Throughout her time on Buffy, Cordelia was like this a lot.
  • Seinfeld also lampshades this in the episode "The Calzone" where Jerry's girlfriend has this quality and he takes advantage of it.
  • In one Monk, Natalie said, "I can do anything I want; I'm cute."
  • SNL parodied this with a mock "Sexual Harrassment and You" TV Funhouse short. The unattractive male character played by Fred Armisen can't even say "Hello" without being hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit. The attractive male played by Tom Brady can feel up women and walk around in his underwear and be fawned over.
  • Used on several occasions on Speeders, with some drivers honestly believing the luck of the genetic draw should excuse them from obeying traffic laws.
  • Lady Christina De Souza from Doctor Who.
  • An episode of Malcolm in the Middle is all about Malcolm's first car, which pulls this repeatedly on him. He picked it out because it was the best-looking one on the lot, but on the inside it turns out to be The Alleged Car; requiring constant, expensive maintenance, and even then it remains ridiculously temperamental about when it will or won't run.
  • Shannon Rutherford in Exodus, Part 1 of Lost
  • Discussed in a first season episode of House (paraphrase):

 House: Would that upset you, really, to think that you were hired because of some genetic gift of beauty not some genetic gift of intelligence?

Cameron: I worked very hard to get were I am.

House: But you didn't have to. People choose the paths that grant them the greatest reward for the least amount of effort. That's the law of nature, and you've defied it. You could've married rich, you could've been a model. You could have just shown up and people would've given you stuff, lots of stuff. But you didn't. You worked your stunning little ass off. That's why I hired you.

  • Jefferson D'Arcy, a character of Married... with Children, is a lazy man who expects his beauty to keep him from having to get a job.
  • Employed by various villains on Law and Order over the years, including memorably on SVU when Estella Warren's character declares herself to be "too beautiful for prison" after committing a series of crimes.
  • On an episode of The Golden Girls, Blanche is being being audited by the IRS. Blanche brags that she's been audited before and she's never had to pay a dime, because they keep sending male auditors. When the female auditor shows up at the end of the episode, Blanche (decked out in a lacy gown and robe) simply shrugs and says "I'll get my checkbook."
  • Generally subverted on The Amazing Race. A lot of female teams talk about using their looks to their advantage. However, this rarely comes into play, and bringing it up pretty much guarantees a team's elimination down the line. Some female racers have gotten advantages because of their looks, but these are usually women who aren't trying to take advantage of their looks.


Music

  • In the folk song "Willie O'Winsbury," also known as "John Barbour" (and covered by East Coast Canadian band Great Big Sea) a princess has gotten pregnant. When the king finds out that the father, Willie O'Winsbury (or John Barbour), isn't nobility, he plans to have him killed. But when the king sees how incredibly handsome the father is ("If I were a woman as I am a man, my bedfellow you would be"), the king gives him the princess's hand in marriage, and offers to make him "the lord of my lands." (For contrast, see the folksong "Princess Dysie," in which the princess has become pregnant by Roger the kitchen boy. In this song, the king has Roger's head cut off and sent up to the princess.)


Newspaper Comics


Stand-Up Comedy

  • Jim Gaffigan has a bit where he points out that life is easier when you're attractive. "If a stranger smiles at you and they're attractive, you think 'Oh, they're nice'. But if an ugly person smiles at you, you think 'What do they want?'."
  • Wanda Sykes, in her routine, claims that if Clarence Thomas had looked like Denzel Washington, he never would have been sued for sexual harassment.


Theatre

  • In Karol Szymanowski's opera King Roger, this is what the young shepherd (who is Dionysus in disguise) says when he is being tried for heresy:

 King Roger: And who is your god?

Shepherd: My god is as beautiful as I am.

  • Roxie Hart in Chicago is pretty enough to get away with murder, her attempts at which drive the plot of the show.
  • In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo practically stalks Juliet, but she forgives him because it is love. If any less handsome person had snuck into her yard and was staring through the window at her, she would have reacted a lot differently.


Videogames

  • Dahlia Hawthorne in the third Ace Attorney game. It helps that the judge is an idiot, but her beauty sure helped the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing effect.
    • The Ace Attorney series also has April May from the first game, who manages to get the entire courtroom on her side (and against Phoenix when he tries to cross examine her) until he manages to present enough evidence to turn them against her.
    • Along with the value provided by her foreign language skills, a certain flight attendant in Ace Attorney Investigations seems to use her relationship with the pilot to get out of doing much work.
  • In Bully, Beatrice Trudeau (a Nerd played straight) complains about this trope. She considers it wrong that Mandy and Lola get special treatment because they're pretty when she doesn't get special treatment for being able to recite the Periodic Table of the Elements.
  • In the first Police Quest game you pull over a gorgeous woman for speeding and have the choice of whether to let her off or write her a ticket. You may not want to call the number she gives you, though.
  • One of the attributes of the Seven Star Stamps in the story mode of the third Mario Party game is 'Beauty", and the player must duel Princess Daisy for it. To quote: "There is no denying that Daisy is fairest of all! There's no need to fight." She almost succeeds in charming the two game hosts for it.


Webcomics


Western Animation

  • Jessica Lovejoy, the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing daughter of the town's pompous preacher on an episode of The Simpsons. ("I'm the sweet, perfect minister's daughter, and you're just yellow trash.")
  • Peter of Family Guy once had extensive plastic surgery to make him highly attractive. It turns out there's an entire society of beautiful people who are given societal perks, and many characters are willing to forgive Peter's increased Jerkass behavior, at least at first.

 Lois: Peter, that doesn't make any sense!

Peter: It doesn't have to... I'm beautiful!

    • Another where Stewie was going through a tan phase.

 Brian: You're talking out of your ass.

Stewie: It doesn't matter, I'm tan.

  • Roberta Tubbs from The Cleveland Show uses her looks to get what she wants from her male teachers. Eventually, one of the female teachers uses slides of women young then old to show that her looks will fade in time, so she needs to develop other ways to impress people.
  • Justin in Total Drama Action manipulates both his team and the show's staff with his good looks in the first part of the season, receiving special treatment and dodging a couple of eliminations this way. Of course, in this case it's Informed Attractiveness turned Up to Eleven (the "psychotic" man-eating sharks refuse to eat him, for example). In the new season, Alejandro does the same thing.
    • Heather manages to use her attractiveness in the same way a few times, but is still widely hated by her castmates. As the page quote shows, Lindsay does this too, but in this case it's more shallow than villainous and doesn't usually work anyway.
  • A gang of Ridiculously Cute Critters pulled all matter of felonies in an episode of The Powerpuff Girls, as no adult could resist their charms. Oddly enough, children proved to be more resistant.
  • This trope is mentioned in the Halloween episode of Eek the Cat, where a Ms. Fanservice evil witch captures ghosts, wanting to make them into a cosmetic face cream. When one of them comments on how mean she is, her response is a cocky "Yes, but I'm cute, so I get away with it!"


Real Life

  • In ancient Athens, a beautiful courtesan named Phryne was put on trial for a capital crime. Her defense consisted of stripping in court and asking the (all-male) jury if they were preferred to destroy this. She was acquitted. This is a question of Values Dissonance: the capital crime in question was blasphemy, and in Ancient Greek society, exceptional beauty was a sign of favor from the gods. Essentially her argument was, "how could I possibly commit blasphemy if the gods have given me this body."
    • A similar plot was allegedly hatched to save Mata Hari from being executed for espionage; supposedly she was to go to the firing squad wearing only a robe, which she would drop or fling open (revealing her naked body) right before the order to fire would be given. Supposedly the True Frenchmen of the firing squad would not defile such beauty by riddling it with bullets.
  • A study showed that when it came to a Jury Trial there is a little truth to this. When an attractive man or woman did a minor crime they got little or no sentences. However when it was a major crime there was no deviation at all in sentences.
  • For a very direct example, refer to her lawyer's comments in the case of Debra Lafave. She was arrested for sex with one of her underage students, but her lawyer kept her out of prison because it "would be too dangerous for someone as attractive as Lafave."
  • It's a social reflex to be nice to someone we find attractive, and people are often willing to overlook minor infractions.
    • Psychologists term this the Halo Effect, though it extends beyond attractiveness. No, it is not a cross-over of two science fiction video games.
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