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Rule 34

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Rule 34 is an internet maxim which asserts that Internet pornography exists concerning every conceivable topic. The concept is commonly depicted as fan art of normally non-erotic subjects engaging in sexual behavior.[1] It can also include writings, animations, and any other form of media to which the internet provides opportunities for proliferation.


From the 1920s to the 1960s, long before "Rule 34" was coined, erotic mini comics called Tijuana bibles depicted popular comic characters such as Popeye and Little Orphan Annie.[2]

Rule 34 was coined from a 2003 webcomic, captioned "Rule #34 There is porn of it. No exceptions." The comic was drawn by TangoStari (Peter Morley-Souter) to depict his shock at seeing Calvin and Hobbes parody porn.[1][3] Though the comic faded into obscurity, the caption instantly became popular on the Internet. Since then, this phrase has been adapted into different syntactic versions and even used as a verb.[4]

On August 20, 2003, the webcomic xkcd published a comic titled "Rule 34", which involved hypothetical sexual scenarios including homoerotic spelling bees.[5]

In 2008, users of the imageboard 4chan posted numerous sexually explicit parodies and cartoons illustrating Rule 34. In the special argot of 4chan request forums, "porn" is called rule 34, Pr0nz.[6] The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs claims that Rule 34 "began appearing on Internet postings in 2008."[7]

As Rule 34 continued spreading on the Internet, traditional media began reporting on it. A 2009 Daily Telegraph article listed Rule 34 as third of the "Top 10" Internet rules and laws.[8] A 2013 CNN story said Rule 34 was "likely the most famous" Internet rule that has become part of mainstream culture.[9] On November 14, 2018, a Twitch streamer with the nickname "Drypiss" celebrated turning eighteen by posting a video to Twitter in which he looked up Rule 34 pictures. The popular video and its responses were covered by The Daily Dot.[10]

Fan fiction has eroticized numerous political figures from the 2016 United States presidential election[11] and the 2021 Suez Canal obstruction by the container ship Ever Given.[12] Short low-cost books called "Tinglers" have depicted anthropomorphized dinosaurs and airplanes in sexual acts. A pseudonymous author, Chuck Tingle, published dystopian erotica on Brexit, featuring sex with a giant one-pound coin from the future, hours after the referendum passed.[13]


According to researchers Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, "Today, Rule 34 thrives as sacred lore on blogs, YouTube videos, Twitter feeds and social networking sites. It's frequently used as a verb, as in 'I Rule 34'ed Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell on the judging table'." They propose the reason the maxim resonated with so many people is because it "certainly seems true" for "anybody who has spent time surfing the Web".[3] Ogas said that following the 2009–2010 study, the consolidation of the porn industry onto large market share video aggregators has reduced the visibility of the niche market videos. The sites favor mainstream content directly by steering users towards it and indirectly by disadvantaging small producers who cannot afford strong anti-piracy measures, bringing into doubt the ability of the rule being able to keep up with market.[1]

Cory Doctorow concludes, "Rule 34 can be thought of as a kind of indictment of the Web as a cesspit of freaks, geeks, and weirdos, but seen through the lens of cosmopolitanism, bespeaks a certain sophistication—a gourmet approach to life."[14]

Feminist scholar Susanna Paasonen summarizes Rule 34, along with versions of Rules 35 and 36 to mean that no matter how unlikely or unusual the concept, pornography of it is either available online or will be.[15] John Paul Stadler concluded that Rule 34 reflects the codification of paraphilias into social identity structures.[16]


The original rule was rephrased and reiterated as it went viral on the Web. Some common permutations omit the original "No exceptions."

  • "Rule 34: There is porn of it."[17]
  • "Rule 34: If it exists, there is porn of it."[18]
  • "Rule 34: If it exists, there is Internet porn of it."[18]
  • "Rule 34: If you can imagine it, it exists as Internet porn."[3]
  • “Rule 34(r): If it exists, there is a subreddit devoted to it.”[3]


  • "Rule 35: The exception to Rule 34 is the citation of Rule 34."[19][unreliable source?]
  • "Rule 35: If there is no porn, it will be made."[15]
  • "Rule 36: There will always be more fucked up shit than what you just saw."[15]
  • "Rule 63: For every given male character, there is a female version of that character and vice versa."[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Dewey, Caitlin (April 6, 2016). "Is Rule 34 actually true?: An investigation into the Internet's most risqué law". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nash Holdings.
  2. ^ Patrick Edwards; Daniel P. Chadborn; Courtney N. Plante (August 28, 2019). Meet the Bronies: The Psychology of the Adult My Little Pony Fandom. McFarland. ISBN 978-1-4766-6371-5. OCLC 1106175950.: 132 
  3. ^ a b c d Ogas, Ogi; Gaddam, Sai (2011). A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships. New York City: Penguin Books. ISBN 9781101514986
  4. ^ Ogas, Ogi (2013). "A billion wicked thoughts: What the internet reveals about sexual desire". PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e638152013-018. Retrieved December 26, 2020.
  5. ^ "Rule 34". xkcd. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  6. ^ Olson, Parmy (June 5, 2012). We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of LulzSec, Anonymous, and the Global Cyber Insurgency. Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-21353-0.
  7. ^ Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro, eds. (2012) The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, Yale University Press, p. 204.
  8. ^ Chivers, Tom (October 23, 2009). "Internet rules and laws: the top 10, from Godwin to Poe". Retrieved August 7, 2022.
  9. ^ Leopold, Todd (February 15, 2013). "Meet the Rules of the Internet". CNN. Retrieved August 7, 2022.
  10. ^ Valens, Ana (November 9, 2019). "18-Year-Old Twitch Streamer Celebrates Finally Looking At Internet Porn". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on November 9, 2019. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  11. ^ Lavin, Talia (July 21, 2016), "The Political Erotica of 2016", The New Yorker, retrieved January 18, 2021
  12. ^ Ball, Siobhan (March 29, 2021), "Yes, there's already erotic fanfic about the ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal: Rule 34 is alive and well", The Daily Dot, retrieved January 18, 2021
  13. ^ Hay, Mark (June 27, 2016), "Oh, Good, Now There Is Brexit Erotica", Vice, retrieved January 18, 2021
  14. ^ Cory Doctorow (October 1, 2011). Context. Tachyon Publications. pp. 70–. ISBN 978-1-61696-078-0.
  15. ^ a b c Paasonen, Susanna (2011). Carnal Resonance: Affect and Online Pornography. MIT Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-262-01631-5.
  16. ^ Stadler, John Paul (October 12, 2018). "The Queer Heart of Porn Studies". Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. 58 (1): 174. doi:10.1353/cj.2018.0079. ISSN 2578-4919.
  17. ^ Doyle et al., 2012.
  18. ^ a b Leopold, 2013.
  19. ^ The rules of the internet Archived June 16, 2013, at, 4chan archive, February 15, 2007.
  20. ^ "Rule 63 Meaning & Origin | Slang by". Retrieved May 6, 2022.

External links[edit]