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Otto Palindrome: Palindrome here, sir; sorry to disturb you.
The Head: That's alright. I was just, as usual, thinking.
Otto Palindrome: Sir, we've got a bit of a headache down here.
The Head: Don't tell me about headaches, Palindrome.
Otto Palindrome: No, sir.
The Head: I wrote the book on headaches!

Quark, "Pilot"
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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!" and "I invented X!"

Examples of Wrote the Book include:

Film

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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 harrassment - We'll shut up her phone, turn off her water; we'll sic the Health & Building inspectors on her, steal her dog.

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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 existance. 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.

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Adventure: I wrote the book on sailing. In fact, I am the book on sailing.

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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.

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Lilly Dillon: You're working some angle, and don't tell me you're not because I wrote the book!

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Lucy Miller: Okay, okay, chill!
Jack Frost: I invented chill!

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  • 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.
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Patton: Rommel, you Magnificent Bastard, I read your book!

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  • 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.


Literature

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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.

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    • Another Discworld example is in Sourcery, where Evil Vizier Abrim is described with the sentence "He probably wrote the book on dirty tricks, or more probably, stole it from someone else."
  • Inverted in Harry Potter, when Hagrid complains that Lockhart (who did write the book on dealing with magical pests[1]) insisted on giving him advice despite the fact it wasn't anything he didn't know.
  • In First Test, 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 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.


Live Action TV

  • From the episode "'Twas the Fight Before Christmas" of Mccloud:
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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.

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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?

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  • From the episode "That's Show Biz" of M*A*S*H:
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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.

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  • From the episode "Revenging Angel" of Farscape:
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John Crichton: Dr. Chuck Jones wrote the book on these situations.

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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.

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  • From the episode "There Might Be Blood" of Gossip Girl:
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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.

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Lex Luthor: The Luthors wrote the book on uncomfortable silences.

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  • From Friends:
    • In the episode The One Where Ross Moves In:
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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.

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    • In the episode The One With Rachel's Sister:
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Jill (sobbing): I'm so sorry!
Rachel: Please! I invented that!

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  • 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 then he did.
  • In the Series Finale of Star Trek: Voyager, a future Starfleet instructor introduces Admiral Janeway as "the person who, literally, wrote the book on the Borg."
  • "I invented" rather than "wrote the book," but same principle. From Seinfeld:
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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.

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  • 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:
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Doctor: Gravity, Schmavity! My people practically invented black holes. Actually, they did!

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Music


Video Games

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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!

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  • In Super Mario 64, one of the Toads in the castle says that "Bowser wrote the book on bad."


Web Original

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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?

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Gilgamesh: My father once wrote a monograph on how to communicate in the workplace. All seven popes ordered it burned.

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Western Animation

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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.

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  • From the episode "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase" of The Simpsons:
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Moe: Hey, I don't need no advice from a pinball machine. I'll have you know, I wrote the book on love.
Grampa: Yeah - "All Quiet on the Western Front".

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  • Spoofed on Futurama, "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back"
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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.

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Other

  • 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.
  1. Although not the book on magical creatures, that was Newt Scamander.
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