Created By: PaulA on May 30, 2011 Last Edited By: eroock on November 24, 2015
Troped

Tricked Into Signing

Tricking someone into signing by asking for an autograph or by pretending it is something different

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
You've got an important document you need signed, but the mark will refuse if you tell them what it is. What to do?

You lie to them about what it is, or disguise it among more innocuous papers and hand it to them while they're busy and distracted.

If they're famous, handing it to them in the middle of a busy autograph-signing session will often work. If they're extremely famous (or just extremely vain), you might not even need the busy autograph-signing session: they'll automatically autograph anything put in front of them.

Compare Read the Fine Print, where the person knows they are signing a contract but do not or cannot read all of the clauses.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • There was an old series of advertisements for a mobile phone service where an American filmstar is tricked into autographing a document that basically agrees to make him a skanky woman's slave. "Get more minutes without signing your life away."

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In an Archie Comic, Reggie decides to write up a petition protesting litter on the beach. Archie is eager to be the first to sign it, so Reggie has him sign it with a nice and large signature before he's even drawn up the petition content. Evil-hearted Reggie then writes up a love note to an anonymous girl. With Archie's signature below it, the note is sure to unleash Betty and Veronica's wrath.
  • In one Jo, Zette and Jocko story, the two children are signing autographs after a heroic feat, when unbeknownst to them a prewritten confession saying they didn't do anything is given their signature.

    Film 
  • Cloud Atlas has a nurse ask Timothy Cavendish to sign what he thinks is a hotel contract. The next day, he finds out that he's actually been locked in a nursing home and the papers he signed were the legal documents allowing them to keep him locked up.
  • In Double Indemnity, Walter Neff sells Mr. Dietrichson car insurance, then tricks him into signing a life insurance contract under the pretence that he needs him to sign two copies of the car insurance contract.
  • In Ernest Goes to Camp, Krader tricks the owner of Camp Kikakee, Chief Saint Cloud, into signing ownership of the camp over to him so that he can bulldoze it down.
  • In the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the President of the Galaxy (the vain Zaphod Beeblebrox) signed the document authorizing the destruction of Earth while thinking he was giving an autograph.
  • In Charlie Chaplin's satire A King in New York, an autograph request is used to trick King Shahdov into attending his hearing at the HUAC tribunal.
  • Used in The Spanish Prisoner as part of a Frame-Up. The hero is rushed to sign a club membership form which turns out to be a request for political asylum from the Republic of Venezuela. It gives away the impression that he is about to skip the country with a fortune. And the police fall for it.
  • An autograph request is used to get Eddie Cantor to sign a contract in Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943).

    Literature 
  • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the trio need a signed permission slip from a teacher in order to check out a book from the restricted section of the library. They pick the dumbest teacher Gilderoy Lockhart to get the signature from. While they do tell him the truth that it's for checking out a book, Lockhart clearly doesn't care and happily signs it as though it were yet another autograph.
  • In Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, Cabal has one year to get 100 people to sell their souls to the Devil in order to get his own soul back and is shown tricking a miserly and greedy farmer into selling his soul by making the man think he's signing a land contract. The guy does question the reference to himself as the "Damnee", but Cabal tells his that it is antiquated legal jargon. It's noted in the text that some of the fine print in the contract indicates that signatures are valid/signees are damned even if they don't know what they are signing.
  • Attempted in the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Unnatural Death. Mary Whittaker tries to trick her great-aunt Agatha Dawson into signing a will by burying it in a bunch of other papers than need a signature - and by having two of the housemaids ready to witness the signing of the will without Agatha realizing it. However, Agatha notices the will and refuses to sign.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The "Development Arrested" episode of Arrested Development had Maeby trying to get the family to sign away their life-rights for a movie she needed to make. Lucille needed them to sign a paper promising them money if they didn't sell their shares, so Maeby just puts those papers under hers and starts offering the family money to sign.
  • In Big Time Rush, James got conned with an autograph request from his self-proclaimed "biggest fan". Then Katie did it to him again at the end of the episode.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: Every year Rob is coerced and/or corralled into directing and starring in the local PTA's annual fundraising show. After the show one year, which he stated would be absolutely the last time he'd do it, the president of the PTA asks for his autograph on her program to commemorate the show. He gives her the autograph, after which she announces that he'd just signed a contract to direct the next year's show.
  • One time on Hogan's Heroes Kinch had pulled the "put a blank piece of paper in a big pile of papers to sign" trick on Col. Klink, so he just happens to have a blank paper with Klink's signature for the plot du jour.
  • On Homicide: Life on the Street a courier who needs the detectives to sign for a package turns out to be a process server working with Georgia Rae Mahoney's lawsuit against the city.
  • In I, Claudius, Claudius is tricked by his freedmen into signing Messalina's death warrant. They shove a bunch of mostly innocuous papers at him while he's drunk.
  • Jonathan Creek: In "Gorgons Wood", Carla is signing copies of her new work-out video and a woman with a small child asks if she could take a picture of her with her nephew on Carla's knee. Turns out that the "nephew" is a grown man. The whole thing is distraction so she wouldn't notice that she is signing a contract allowing them to license "all forms of sexual erotica, however explicit, bearing my name, face or likeness".
  • In the Marisa Berenson episode of The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy plots to marry Kermit by casting him in a wedding skit and hiring a real priest. Her accomplice Scooter gets Kermit's signature on the marriage licence by telling him a sob story about a dear little old lady in the audience who wants his autograph for her sick grandson.
  • An episode of Leverage has the heroes trick the mark into signing controlling interest of their family business by claiming it's a contract for a business deal.
  • In the "Boys at Ranch" episode of Malcolm in the Middle, the kids trick Hal into signing a permission slip to allow them to ride ATVs by passing it off as a permission slip for playing ping-pong.
  • M*A*S*H
    • In the first three seasons, Henry Blake was often tricked into signing some kind of requisition, or pass, or anything for whatever Zany Scheme Hawkeye and Trapper had cooked up.
    • Radar apparently made a habit of having Col. Potter sign blank pieces of paper, which he could then use to submit routine letters or requests without bothering Potter about them. Unusually, Potter apparently knew what he was doing and didn't mind.
  • The Office (US) "Stress Relief": Dwight resorts to increasingly desperate tactics to get people to sign a letter of recognition that he paid due apologies for pretending there was a fire in the office, such as pretending they need to sign the paper for a delivery or need to sign in to a party.
  • Only Fools and Horses has an episode where Del tricks a pub singer into signing a contract by making it look like he's asking for an autograph (he doesn't even have to lie that much either, he just lets the singer assume it's an autograph). Ironically, towards the end of the episode, it's the singer who threatens Del with the contract to get what he wants (i.e his pay).
  • Reaper: In "My Brother's Reaper", Sam had to get a guy to sign the contract for his soul, so he slipped it in with a delivery receipt. Unfortunately for Sam, the guy knew what he was up to and signed it with an alias.
  • An episode of the sitcom Reba had Reba being fooled into signing excused absence slips by her daughter, who pretended she wanted her mother's autograph. The ruse wasn't discovered until a letter from the school arrived about how much school the daughter had been missing.
  • Turn has a variation. Capt. Ben Tallmadge needs to get a vital intelligence report sent to Gen. Washington but Gen. Scott refuses to forward it to headquarters because he does not trust the source. Ben creates a fake report that has little actual military value but which Scott will approve of and forward to Gen. Washington. He then places the real report as page three of the fake report, relying on the fact that Scott never reads the reports past the second page. Scott signs off on the fake report and adds the entire stack of papers to the official dispatches.
  • White Collar: In the "Vested Interest" episode, Neal needs to fool Peter into signing a form authorising FBI surveillance but Peter carefully reads anything before he signs it and counts the forms he has signed to check that one hasn't been slipped in. Neal secretly releases Mozzie's pet rat into the office so that everyone is distracted with the rat, Neal can swap out one of the forms Diana gave Peter for his.

    Radio 
  • In The Goon Show episode "The Policy", Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty ask Neddie to give them his autograph on a piece of paper that's actually a will leaving them all his money. When he asks why the piece of paper has "Will" written at the top, Grytpype-Thynne explains that that's its name.
  • In the original radio version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    • The Frogstar Prisoner Relations Officer pretends he wants Zaphod's autograph to trick Zaphod into signing a release form agreeing to be shoved into the Total Perspective Vortex.
    • A cloning machine accident results in a large number of clones of a young woman named Lintilla. The company's clean-up plan involves an equally large number of attractive male clones and a set of "Agreements to Cease to Be" disguised as marriage certificates.

    Video Games 
  • In Day of the Tentacle there is a puzzle requiring Bernard to get Dr. Fred's signature on a contract that he refuses to sign because he's preoccupied with trying to think of a way to defeat Purple Tentacle.. One of the four possible solutions involves tricking him by claiming it's the cancellation form for a record club.
  • In the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade adventure game, you can get Hitler to autograph a travel pass that will get you past all the Nazi-controlled checkpoints later on.

    Webcomics 
  • In Bad Machinery, two of the protagonists get a bully to sign a form by telling her it's a petition to lower the drinking age.

    Web Original 
  • There was a demotivational poster to this effect: The picture was Ronaldo giving autographs while the caption said: "During an autograph session with Polish fans, Ronaldo unexpectedly signed a life contract with Arka Gdynia."

    Western Animation 
  • In the episode "The Signature" of The Amazing World of Gumball, Richard learns that his mother is getting married to Louie, so he (Richard) tricks Louie getting adopted so that he has the authority to command him (Louie) to no longer see his (Louie's) fiancÚ anymore. Louie takes revenge by tricking Richard's wife into being adopted by him (Louie) so that she has to obey the command of not seeing Richard anymore.
  • Animaniacs have an episode where the Warners are taking the place of Plotz's sick secretary. So one of them gives Plotz a few documents to sign, hiding among them a check for 80 billion. He then shouts to his brother and sister "We're rich!" Plotz takes the check away, to which the brother merely says "We're poor!"
  • In Buzz Lightyear of Star Command the L.G.M.s got Commander Nebula (who hates robots) to approve the creation of XR by slipping the authorization form in with their vacation requests. (It's also implied they've successfully pulled this trick more than once before.)
  • In one Droopy cartoon, a competitor in a sports contest set up a fake psychic reading tent and asked for Droopy's signature to get a reading off it. Turns out he tricked him into signing a document confessing to cheating and forfeiting.
  • In one episode of Fillmore!, the title character tricks Commissioner Vallejo into singing a requisition form for an expensive new set of walkie-talkies by almost knocking a lamp down on him and then confusing him with slang. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • In an episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, a producer entices Bloo into signing an acting contract. However, Bloo didn't Read the Fine Print, and it turned out that he had been tricked into signing an adoption paper. The papers ended up being null and void because it wasn't run through Mr. Herriman first.
  • Gravity Falls: In "Little Dipper", Lil' Gideon tries to trick Stan into signing away the deed to the Mystery Shack by hiding it in a giant novelty sweepstakes check. Stan was onto him and signed it "Go suck a lemon, little man."
  • An early plot of Pinky and the Brain hinges on Bill Clinton believing he was signing an autograph, not signing over American land.
  • In the Rocky and Bullwinkle story line "Painting Theft", Boris uses the autograph trick to get Bullwinkle to sign a will making Boris the moose's sole heir.
  • Inverted in The Simpsons episode "Bart the Fink": Instead of trying to get Krusty's signature in the guise of an autograph, Bart tries to get Krusty's autograph in the guise of a signature. He gives Krusty a check, expecting that Krusty will have to endorse it with his signature, but the plan fails because Krusty endorses his checks with the name of his Cayman Islands holding corporation.
  • In Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production, Bugs tricks Vladimir Angelo Chafong Reginald McMurthy into signing a trade contact by pretending to be a tourist and make him autograph several things without him noticing. This makes it legal for Vladimir to join the Alaskan Halibuts.


Community Feedback Replies: 98
  • May 30, 2011
    KTera
    In the Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade adventure game, you can get Hitler to sign a travel pass that will get you past all the Nazi-controlled checkpoints later on.
  • May 30, 2011
    Antigone3
    In the Rocky and Bullwinkle story line "Painting Theft", Boris uses this trick to get Bullwinkle to sign a will making Boris the moose's sole heir.
  • May 30, 2011
    Hadashi
    There was an old series of advertisements like this where an American filmstar is tricked into signing a document that basically agrees to make him this skanky woman's slave. He ends up in prison for running away.
  • May 30, 2011
    Damr1990
    • On Harry Potter and The Chamber Of Secrets, they use this trick to obtain a permission to see the books on the Forbyden Section from Gilderoy Lockhart
  • May 30, 2011
    Bisected8
    @Hadashi: I'm pretty sure it was for a mobile phone service of some sort (the tagline was "Get more minutes without signing your life away").

    • An episode of Jonathan Creek has a female star tricked into signing a contract that allows her image to be used for erotic products.
  • May 30, 2011
    SharleeD
    On M*A*S*H, Radar apparently made a habit of having Col. Potter sign blank pieces of paper, which he could then use to submit routine letters or requests without bothering Potter about them. Unusually, Potter apparently knew what he was doing and didn't mind.
  • May 30, 2011
    Prfnoff
    This trick is used to get Eddie Cantor to sign a contract in Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943).
  • May 30, 2011
    NoirGrimoir
  • May 31, 2011
    SKJAM
    Related:
    • In Rip Kirby, "Silky" Shaw ran an aggressive gang of autograph and souvenir seekers; the autographs were so that her forger foster father could use them to make Blackmail material.
  • May 31, 2011
    jaytee
    Does this encompass other signature fake-outs? The series finale of Arrested Development had Maeby trying to get the family to sign away their life-rights for a movie she needed to make. Lucille needed them to sign a paper promising them money if they didn't sell their shares, so Maeby just puts those papers under hers and starts offering the family money to sign. In her words, "That was a freebie."
  • May 31, 2011
    azul120
    In The Simpsons episode "Bart the Fink", Bart sends a check to Krusty in one episode in order to get his signature via endorsement. It doesn't work, as it turns out it is deposited to a Swiss Bank Account in the Cayman Islands.
  • June 1, 2011
    PaulA
    ^ This sounds like the inverse of the trope: Instead of asking for an autograph to get his signature on a document, Bart asks for his signature on a document to get his autograph?
  • June 1, 2011
    SKJAM
    Another of my rapidly becoming infamous lapsed memory moments...late 19th-early 20th Century mystery story, someone holds a house party with an interesting guest book which gives each person a large space to write comments and a line for the signature. Underneath the signature line is early carbon paper, and blank checks under that for the endorsements.
  • June 2, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    There was a demotivational poster to this effect: The picture was Ronaldo giving autographs while the caption said: "During an autograph session with Polish fans, Ronaldo unexpectedly signed a life contract with Arka Gdynia"
  • June 2, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Also, there is a variation of the trick, where instead of an autograph, you use a different document, or even hand the paper to someone who is too distracted to read what he is signing.
  • June 2, 2011
    Topazan
    • A variation in The Movie of The Famous Jett Jackson to learn a character's name. Silverstone has been transported into Jett Jackson's universe and is letting people believe that he is Jett. When he meets one of Jett's friends, Silverstone says he's going to show him 'something' and tells him to write his name on a piece of paper. He then crumples the paper and throws it away, saying, "Nothing".
  • June 4, 2011
    MaxSinister
    Saw this in several Donald Duck stories, mostly with the Beagle Boys or other crooks making Scrooge giving them his entire fortune.

    Maybe we should mention that this is You Fail Laws Forever.
  • June 4, 2011
    superluser
    The inverse is pretty popular, too.

    In The Simpsons episode Bart the Fink, Bart connives to get Krusty's autograph by sending him a check and waiting to get his autograph when the cancelled check comes through. It doesn't work out quite as planned, since Krusty signs his checks with the name of hos Cayman Islands holding corporation.

    Truth In Television (not the holding corporation, but the check method), I hear.
  • June 6, 2011
    randomsurfer
    One time on Hogans Heroes Kinch had pulled the "put a blank piece of paper in a big pile of papers to sign" trick on Col. Klink, so he just happens to have a blank paper with Klink's signature for the plot du jour.
  • June 6, 2011
    jaytee
    Seems like this needs to be expanded from "autograph" fake-outs to other dishonest ways of getting a signature.
  • June 7, 2011
    ghaweyriao
    ^ non-autograph-fake-out example: On the US version of The Office, Dwight resorts to increasingly desperate tactics to get people to sign a letter of recognition that he paid due apologies for pretending there was a fire in the office, such as pretending they need to sign the paper for a delivery or need to sign in to a party.
  • June 7, 2011
    randomsurfer
    I know I've seen this more than once in regards a kid needing to get his parent's signature on his report card or a note from the teacher/principal, but I don't remember specific examples.
  • June 7, 2011
    Aspie
    • In Big Time Rush, James got conned this way by his self-proclaimed "biggest fan". Then Katie did it to him again at the end of the episode.

    • Non-autograph example: In Reaper, Sam had to get a guy to sign the contract for his soul, so he slipped it in with a delivery receipt. Unfortunately for Sam, the guy knew what he was up to and signed it with an alias.
  • June 7, 2011
    robybang
    • In one Droopy cartoon, a competitor in a sports contest set up a fake psychic reading tent and asked for Droopy's signature to get a reading off it. Turns out he tricked him into signing a document confessing to cheating and forfeiting.
  • October 7, 2012
    MaxSinister
    Big bump. Sorry, I don't have much time and had almost forgotten this. Up For Grabs.
  • October 7, 2012
    Bisected8
    The Harry Potter entry isn't an example. They actually ask Lockhart to sign the permission slip (in the book at least), they just don't mention precisely what they want the book in the forbidden section for (Hermione claims she wants to look up some theory when they want to look up how to mix a particular potion). Hermione does want to keep it because it's autographed though (an inversion?)
  • October 8, 2012
    TonyG
    • On Gravity Falls, Lil' Gideon tries to trick Stan into signing away the deed to the Mystery Shack by hiding it in a giant novelty sweepstakes check. Stan was onto him and signed it "Go suck a lemon, little man."
    • In the Donald Duck cartoon "The Flying Jalopy", an unscrupulous airplane salesman has Don sign a life insurance policy before flying his new plane. The salesman, however, folded the paper to hide the fact that the beneficiary of the policy was him and not Donald.
  • October 8, 2012
    Chabal2
    In one Jo, Zette and Jocko story, the two children are signing autographs after a heroic feat, unbeknownst to them a prewritten confession saying they didn't do anything is given their signature.
  • January 4, 2013
    PaulA
    • In The Goon Show episode "The Policy", Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty ask Neddie to give them his autograph on a piece of paper that's actually a will leaving them all his money. When he asks why the piece of paper has "Will" written at the top, Grytpype-Thynne explains that that's its name.
  • January 7, 2013
    Frank75
    In at least one story with uncle Scrooge, done by the Beagle Boys or other villains.
  • January 7, 2013
    MetaFour
    Not totally sure if this fits.

    • In Hackers, the protagonists need to sneak into a secure facility which requires a voiceprint to unlock. To obtain this, the one girl in the group poses as a date for one of the facility's employees, and records all the conversation during the date. The rest of the group take the recording and edit it to recreate the voiceprint.
  • January 7, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Inversion: On The Simpsons in order to get Krusty's autograph Bart slips him a check for 25 cents, planning on Krusty signing the back in order to deposit it. But Krusty uses a stamp from his illegal Cayman Islands account instead.
  • January 7, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    Inverted in an episode of Star Trek DS 9. When travelling back in time, someone has the original Captain Kirk sign a fake document of some sort. In reality, he wanted the legendary Kirk's autograph.
  • January 9, 2013
    MarkKB
    ^ That's the episode "Trials and Tribble-ations", and the "someone" is commander of Deep Space Nine, Captain Benjamin Sisko
  • January 10, 2013
    reub2000
    non-autograph releated one:
  • January 10, 2013
    TheHandle
    Im A King In New York, king Shadow is tricked this way into attending his hearing at the tribunal. For suspicions of Communism. Did I mention he was a king?
  • June 14, 2013
    easelframe
    Maybe this could be included in a more general "signature bait-and-switch" trope, including cases where it's not an autograph, as some of those above? E.g. "The Spanish Prisoner", where a signature on a supposed "private club membership form" is actually on an incriminating request for asylum in Venezuela
  • Does this only apply to autographs? Because in the first three seasons of M*A*S*H, Henry Blake was often tricked into signing some kind of requisition, or pass, or anything for whatever Zany Scheme Hawkeye and Trapper had cooked up.
  • May 31, 2014
    SquirrelGuy
    Comics: In an Archie Comic, Reggie decides to write up a petition protesting litter on the beach. Archie is eager to be the first to sign it, so Reggie has him sign it with a nice and large signature before he's even drawn up the petition content. Evilhearted Reggie then writes up a love note to an anonymous girl. With Archie's signature below it, the note is sure to unleash Betty and Veronica's wrath.
  • June 1, 2014
    eroock
    Film:
  • June 1, 2014
    jormis29
    • The Dick Van Dyke Show: Every year Rob is coerced and/or corraled into directing & starring in the local PTA's annual fundraising show. After the show one year, which he stated would be absolutely the last time he'd do it, the president of the PTA asks for his autograph on her program to commemorate the show. He gives her the autograph, after which she announces that he'd just signed a contract to direct the next year's show. "She got me again!"
  • June 1, 2014
    Tuckerscreator
    • In Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, the trio need a signed permission slip from a teacher in order to check out a book from the restricted section of the library. They pick the dumbest teacher Gilderoy Lockhart to get the signature from. While they do tell him the truth that it's for checking out a book, Lockhart clearly doesn't care and happily signs it as though it were yet another autograph.
  • June 1, 2014
    Waterlily
    In Sixth Grade Secrets by Louis Sachar, a boy asks another boy for his autograph after he pulls off an elaborate prank. He then cuts off a girl's hair and leaves a note with the signature on it (framing the other boy for the haircut).

    Does that make sense? It's kind of complicated.
  • June 2, 2014
    justanid
    How about instances where someone moves an existing signature from one document to another? Like in the film Spy Game, where the CIA director's signature is carefully moved from a framed commendation to unapproved orders.
  • So would the Henry Blake example count, or not?

    Edit: Never mind, I see two M*A*S*H examples were added.
  • July 3, 2014
    SpiderRider3
    In the episode of Malcolm In The Middle "Boys at Ranch", the kids trick Hal into signing a permission slip to allow them to ride ATVs by passing it off as a permission slip for playing ping-pong.
  • July 4, 2014
    MaxWest
    In Ernest Goes To Camp, Krader tricks the owner of Camp Kikakee, Chief Saint Cloud, into signing ownership of the camp over to him so that he can bulldoze it down.
  • July 4, 2014
    KevinKlawitter
    In one episode of Fillmore, the title character tricks Commissioner Vallejo into singing a requisition form for an expensive new set of walkie-talkies by almost knocking a lamp down on him and then confusing him with slang. It Makes Sense In Context.
  • July 4, 2014
    nielas
    • Turn has a variation. Capt. Ben Tallmadge needs to get a vital intelligence report sent to Gen. Washington but Gen. Scott refuses to forward it to headquarters because he does not trust the source. Ben creates a fake report that has little actual military value but which Scott will approve of and forward to Gen. Washington. He then places the real report as page three of the fake report, relying on the fact that Scott never reads the reports past the second page. Scott signs off on the fake report and adds the entire stack of papers to the official dispatches.
  • July 7, 2014
    Synchronicity
    Bait-and-Switch example:

    • Cloud Atlas has a nurse ask Timothy Cavendish to sign what he thinks is a hotel contract. The next day, he finds out that he's actually been locked in a nursing home and the papers he signed were the legal documents allowing them to keep him locked up.
  • July 8, 2014
    MJNSEIFER
    Only Fools and Horses has an episode where Del tricks a pub singer into signing a contract by making it look like he's asking for an autograph (he doesn't even have to lie that much either, he just lets the singer assume it's an autograph). Ironically, towards the end of the episode, it's the singer who threatens Del with the contract to get what he wants (i.e his pay).
  • July 10, 2014
    Omeganian
    Animaniacs have an episode where the Warners are taking the place of Plotz's sick secretary. So one of them gives Plotz a few documents to sign, hiding among them a check for 80 billion. He then shouts to his brother and sister "We're rich"! Plotz takes the check away, to which the brother merely says "We're poor"!
  • July 10, 2014
    TheShadow
    Western Animation
  • July 10, 2014
    TheShadow
    As for the movie The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, was Zaphod deliberately tricked or was he just not paying attention? I always thought it was the latter.
  • July 10, 2014
    GoldenDarkness
    An episode of Leverage has the heroes trick the mark into signing controlling interest of their family business by claiming it's a contract for a business deal.
  • July 10, 2014
    NemuruMaeNi
    (it's Manga works adapted into summer 2014 anime, no page yet)
    • In Sabagebu!, the club president of titular airsoft club catches Momoka the central heroine off-guard after a spurred-on match by asking her name, then calling it a pretty unusual one and then asking to write it down on this piece of paper, here you go. Too late to realize it was a club application form, Momoka is allowed a respite since to join she would have to hand the application in in person. Then again, a not quite concious person knocked out by a spiked melon bun, as it turns out, works.
  • July 11, 2014
    TrustBen
    • On Homicide Life On The Street a courier who needs the detectives to sign for a package turns out to be a process server working with Georgia Rae Mahoney's lawsuit against the city.
  • July 11, 2014
    FerrousFaucet
    It has been a very long time since I saw it, but I think I saw this used on an episode of Roseanne when one of the kids tried to get their parents to sign a permission form for a school field trip. Somehow the kid had hidden a bad report card and that was what they were actually signing, but the parents immediately saw through the ruse anyway since it's a running gag on that show that the parents are much more clever than the children give them credit for.
  • August 27, 2015
    jormis29
    • Updated the properly formatted examples
    • Removed repetition
    • corraled —> corralled
  • September 21, 2015
    PaulA
    • Linked a title or two that hadn't been linked yet
  • September 22, 2015
    BKelly95
    Video Games
    • After you get the contract out of the safe in Day Of The Tentacle, you have to get Dr. Fred to sign it. However, he refuses because he's trying to think of a way to defeat Purple Tentacle. You have to trick him into signing the contract through dialogue and you have four options how to get him to do so.
  • September 22, 2015
    robinjohnson
    Another The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy radio series example:
    • The Lintilla clones are made to sign what they think are marriage certificates, but they're actually agreements to cease to exist.

    ...and I don't know about the film, but in the radio series, in the never-really-resolved season 2 cliffhanger, it's revealed that Zaphod knowingly authorised the destruction of Earth in the pay of a conspiracy to stop it revealing the Question to the Ultimate Answer.
  • October 3, 2015
    jormis29
  • October 3, 2015
    ZuTheSkunk
    I really feel that the name needs to be changed somehow. I keep misreading this as "Tricked Into SiNGing" and thinking that's about someone who has to sing despite not wanting to.
  • October 3, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ but well, there's no way around it, is there? See I Read That As for how even the clearest of titles can somehow be read wrong.
  • October 3, 2015
    sablesword
    Bait and Switch

    Literature

    • Averted in the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Unnatural Death. Mary Whittaker tries to trick her great-aunt Agatha Dawson into signing a will by burying it in a bunch of other papers than need a signature - and by having two of the housemaids ready to witness the signing of the will without Agatha realizing it. However, Agatha notices the will and refuses to sign - not because she objects to leaving her fortune to Mary, but because she simply does not want to make a will. This leads to Mary murdering Agatha, so that Agatha's death will occur before the change in the law concerning people who die without making a will.

  • October 3, 2015
    KZN02
    Would this example count?

    Death Note: Light coerces Ray Penber into unknowingly writing down the names of FBI investigators involved in the Kira case on sheets of the Death Note to ensure their deaths.
  • October 3, 2015
    KaiYves
    An episode of the sitcom Reba had the title character being fooled into signing excused absence slips by her daughter, who pretended she wanted her mother's autograph. The ruse wasn't discovered until a letter from the school arrived about how much school the daughter had been missing.

    In Bad Machinery, two of the protagonists get a bully to sign a form by telling her it's a petition to lower the drinking age.
  • October 3, 2015
    jormis29
    ^^ Could you give more information on how he did so?
  • October 3, 2015
    Kartoonkid95
    • An episode of Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends, a producer entices Bloo into signing an acting contract. However, Bloo didn't read the fine print, and it turned out that he had been tricked into signing an adoption paper. The papers ended up becoming null and void because it wasn't run through Mr. Herriman first.
  • October 3, 2015
    gallium
    Live-Action Television

    • In I Claudius, Claudius is tricked by his freedmen into signing Messalina's death warrant. They shove a bunch of mostly innocuous papers at him while he's drunk.
  • October 3, 2015
    KZN02
    @jormis29 Well, if I can recall, Light meets Penber in a subway without revealing his identity and confirms that he's Kira by a person's death by heart attack in front of them. He then threatens to kill Penber unless he gathers information about all FBI agents investigating Kira and writing down their names on sheets of paper that the latter doesn't know about.
  • October 4, 2015
    jormis29
    ^ Hmm, intimidating him into writing the names doesn't seem to fit the "tricked" part of the trope
  • October 4, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ the "tricked" part comes from Penber not knowing what those papers really are.
  • October 4, 2015
    Ominae
    • In Wabbit A Looney Tunes Production, Bugs tricks Vladimir Angelo Chafong Reginald Mc Murthy into signing a trade contact by pretending to be a tourist and make him sign several things without him noticing. This makes it legal for Vladimir to join the Alaskan Halibuts.
  • October 4, 2015
    KZN02
    ^^ So essentially, it's basically replacing "important document" with "magic piece of paper that kills anyone if his/her name is written on it".
  • October 4, 2015
    Ominae
    Not sure on the magic piece of paper. It got Vladimir traded off to another baseball team.

    Bugs made him sign the trade contract while he goes off signing things while pretending to be a tourist. I'm not sure if it works, but this trope got me thinking of it.
  • October 4, 2015
    KZN02
    Oops, I was replying to the comment before yours.
  • October 5, 2015
    PaulA
    Ominae, that does sound like an example. My only question is which of the subtypes it is.

    What was Bugs getting him to sign? Was it an autograph, or did he know he was signing a document and just didn't know what kind of document it was?
  • October 5, 2015
    Ominae
    Thanks for the reply.

    It's the autograph type.
  • October 6, 2015
    Morgenthaler
    There's another scenario of the Bait and Switch type, where the identity of the contract holder is held secret. I think the third panel from this comic would be a good page image.
  • October 6, 2015
    Folamh3
    • In Double Indemnity, Walter Neff sells Mr. Dietrichson car insurance, then tricks him into signing a life insurance contract under the pretence that he needs him to sign two copies of the car insurance contract.
  • October 6, 2015
    Folamh3
    I would strongly advise against splitting the examples into two folders for variants of this trope. It's a rather outmoded way of arranging examples which doesn't see much use on the wiki anymore: the standard method of arranging examples is just to sort them by medium/genre and leave it at that. Either the individual variants are common and distinct enough to be worth sorting into two different tropes, or they aren't. If they aren't, it's a needlessly complex and distracting way of arranging the tropes which doesn't provide much useful information to the reader.

    I would strongly encourage you to remove this, sort the examples by medium, and provide additional description for each example if necessary.
  • October 6, 2015
    PaulA
    ^ Originally, I wasn't sure whether we had two distinct tropes or not. And then I just forgot I hadn't made a decision.

    Now that you mention it, I think the autograph trick is basically just a version of "misrepresent what they're signing", and not a distinct trope, so I've rewritten the trope description and merged the examples.
  • October 7, 2015
    Folamh3
    ^ Looks good. It's probably fine as a single trope.
  • October 7, 2015
    Hodor2
    • In Johannes Cabal The Necromancer, Cabal has one year to get 100 people to sell their souls to the Devil in order to get his own soul back and is shown tricking a miserly and greedy farmer into selling his soul by making the man think he's signing a land contract. The guy does question the reference to himself as the "Damnee", but Cabal tells his that it is antiquated legal jargon. It's noted in the text that some of the fine print in the contract indicates that signatures are valid/signees are damned even if they don't know what they are signing.
  • October 9, 2015
    randomsurfer
    The same The Simpsons example has been posted three times. Either add it or say why it isn't an example.
  • October 11, 2015
    PaulA
    N1KF, if you edit the thing directly to add your example, please add a comment to say what you changed.
  • October 12, 2015
    BKelly95
    ^^ The Simpsons example has been added. I don't know why it was posted again.
  • October 12, 2015
    Darthcaliber
    In Buzz Lightyear Of Star Command this is how the L.G.M.s got Commander Nebula (who hates robots) to approve the creation of XR. They slipped the authorization form in with their vacation requests. (it's also implied they've successfully pulled this trick more than once before)
  • October 12, 2015
    PaulA
    ^^ I added the Simpsons example, then I took it out again because I wasn't sure if inversions should count, then randomsurfer commented, then I decided I couldn't think of a good reason not to include the example and put it back in.
  • October 13, 2015
    69BookWorM69
    I think there's an attempt at this in the Agatha Christie novel Death on the Nile. There's a young and unpopular heiress on her honeymoon trip, and guess who "happens" to join the couple along the way but her American trustee? (She's in her very early twenties, and under the terms of her father's will she gains control of her fortune at age twenty-five or when she marries, whichever comes first.) The trustee brings her a bunch of documents to sign, including some kind of financial instrument to help him cover his tracks (the implication being he mishandled her money). She insists on reading every document he produces before signing, her new husband says "I've never read a legal document in my life" or some such, and the signing session ends prematurely (the couple getting drinks or out of the heat or something) before the paper is signed. I've seen a couple of filmed versions of this, with the precise excuse played out a bit differently, but the upshot is the incriminating paper is not signed after all. I suppose this would be an aversion of sorts?
  • October 14, 2015
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • The Carol Burnett Show. In a sketch based on the film Double Indemnity, a scheming woman and a crooked insurance salesman trick her husband into signing a life insurance policy by making him think he's signing a copy of his auto insurance policy. They plan for the salesman to murder the husband and make it look like an accident so they can collect on the policy.

    Edited.
  • October 14, 2015
    PaulA
    ^ What trick do they use?
  • October 14, 2015
    MaxWest2
    A sketch on You Cant Do That On Television has a son asking Sen. Prevert for a sports autograph on paper. As the eager Prevert leaves the room feeling honored, the son starts writing an absence excuse note on the autographed paper.
  • October 17, 2015
    Ominae
    I could get a photo from that "Wabbit" episode for this future trope article.
  • November 17, 2015
    eroock
    ^ Please do. This one is to be launched soon.
  • November 24, 2015
    Ominae
    Sorry about the delay. Just got back from China. Now trying to figure out if I should include said screencap with subs or not.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=qdehv7pu6sug7qpvxysa27jw