Hollywood Ethics: The Top Twelve Movie Clips Used On Ethics Alarms [Updated 9/13/20]

My back is out, I’m feeling sick, and I’m not up to any complicated analysis right now. For some time I’ve wanted to put all of the iconic movie clips that I turn to when the circumstances demand, so it’s time.

1. To illustrate the folly of suspending or violating the rule of law, the Constitution, or due process for “the greater good” as it appears to some to be at the time:


2. To comment on a strikingly incompetent argument, theory or proposal:


3. When I feel I should resist the impulse to attack an ethics miscreant with special vigor, but decide to go ahead anyway…


4.  To explain the conduct of some individuals or organizations that cannot be justified by facts, principles of logic, or any other valid motivation:


5.  To illustrate the impulse to respond to injustice and the abuse of power by resorting to symbolic acts of pure defiance, even when they are likely to fail…


6. When a individual abandons integrity or other ethical values for a non-ethical consideration…


7. When an individual feigns indignation and disapproval of conduct that he or she has either participated in or enabled:


8. Used to signal that a politician, journalist or scholar has intentionally or negligently used such impenetrable rhetoric as to be completely incomprehensible [Forgot this one: thanks to Phlinn for catching the omission]:


9. When an incident or argument makes no sense whatsoever, or that drives me to the edge of insanity:


10. When a politician, a pundit or someone else  uses a term or word incorrectly to support an unethical action or argument:


11. Warning that a likely event or revelation will contribute to an Ethics Train Wreck already in progress or about to get rolling:

12. Commenting on a particularly incompetent, irresponsible, or otherwise unethical decision with disastrous consequences:


21 thoughts on “Hollywood Ethics: The Top Twelve Movie Clips Used On Ethics Alarms [Updated 9/13/20]

  1. Casablanca is one of my favorite movies. At the end when the Gestapo officer gets shot and the Vichy police officer realizes something must be done, he shouts “Arrest the usual suspects!”

    • “ROUND UP the usual suspects.” When dealing with iconic quotes, absolute accuracy is mandatory. As Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty, or kill me”….That’s a game, by the way. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a crap.”

      • I caught that later after watching a YouTube clip. Anyway, the post was supposed to illustrate that the Vichy police officer faced after his friend Rick shot the Gestapo man right in front of him.

  2. How about ethical negotiations? Bruce Willis in “The Fifth Element”

    This clip opened the first session of a week-long exec ed negotiations course at Stanford Biz School nearly two decades ago. Still one of my favorites.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.