[[quoteright:264:[[Film/WillyWonkaAndTheChocolateFactory http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/giantcontract.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:264:"[[GenreBlindness Sign away Charlie]]; [[GenreSavvy you've got nothing]] [[DeathByGenreSavvy to lose]]!"]]

->''"The large print giveth and the small print taketh away."''
-->-- '''Music/TomWaits''', "Step Right Up"

Before signing or agreeing to something, you really should read through the contract. However, being a {{doorstopp|er}}ing WallOfText, most people and characters just skip to the end and sign it, either trusting or rationalizing no one would be slimy enough to sneak in something they wouldn't have agreed to in previous talks. Oh those poor, deluded souls.

Whatever contract, DealWithTheDevil, electronic End User Licensing Agreement or MagicallyBindingContract the character speedily signed will have one or more clauses in the fine print designed to screw them over, remove all liability from the other party, or nullifying the whole thing. The sneaky party will use this to coerce the signer into doing their bidding or taking their stuff, while simultaneously avoiding all consequences.

Most stories with this plot usually center on the signer trying to find a loophole to escape the contract, or otherwise live up to the much steeper conditions in order to finally complete it and render it fulfilled. On the positive side, if the series enforces LaserGuidedKarma, then you can expect the contract to get destroyed and/or overruled due to even more obscure legalese by a friendly RulesLawyer.

Tropers should rest (mostly) assured that civil code contract law has clauses against "obviously JustForFun/{{egregious}}" terms written into a contract. That said, there's plenty of non-egregious ways a contract can harm you -- not to mention what counts as legally "egregious" is only extremely outrageous things or something specifically mentioned in law. Judges don't like to overturn a contract unless it is clearly illegal. And the law very often does not prevent "unfair" contracts. After all, [[OffOnATechnicality unnecessary technicalities]] are bad for business, right?

Also rest assured that in [[UsefulNotes/TheCommonLaw common law]] jurisdictions (basically in any English-speaking country outside the heavily French-influenced Quebec and Louisiana), courts will exclude anything in the fine print that the signor shouldn't expect and are generally more favorable to signors than drafters when it comes to standard form contracts ("contracts of adhesion" in lawspeak -- or sometimes LeonineContract) under the doctrine of unconscionability. In fact, U.S. law prevents disclaimers from having any actual force in law. However, if it's not a standard form contract--i.e. you negotiated the contract out, personally or through a representative, with the other guy--expect this trope to be the case, since both parties should have been paying attention when it was written. Although this can also get complicated: "I didn't know that the contract required me to ship 10,000 suspenders" is not an excuse, but "I didn't realise that [[SeparatedByACommonLanguage my American business partner meant 'trousers' when the contract said 'pants']]"/"And I didn't realize that my British partner meant 'garters' when the contract said 'suspenders'" might be.

This is also an example of EaglelandOsmosis. Historically, Anglo-American contract law was resistant to any attempt to get out of a contract; "hard law" was the rule of the day. However, over the course of the 20th century judges and legal scholars grew increasingly uncomfortable with the consequences of "hard law", and adopted all kinds of rules like unconscionability,[[labelnote:*]]The contract overwhelmingly favors the more powerful party[[/labelnote]] mistake,[[labelnote:*]]Misunderstanding/not knowing a fact about the world material to the contract. Can be bilateral (the parties both misunderstood each other or both misunderstood the world; a Briton sending his "pants" in exchange for an American's "suspenders" would be an example, as would the buyer and seller of a house in another city that, unbeknownst to them, was at that moment being destroyed by a hurricane) or unilateral (one party misunderstands, and the other should have known about the misunderstanding and cleared things up).[[/labelnote]] frustration of purpose,[[labelnote:*]]Whatever it was you wanted the contract for was taken away by outside forces. This doctrine came up when someone rented a room to watch [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfWindsor Edward VII's]] coronation procession, only to find that the coronation was delayed because the King was ill; he could still sit in the room but without a procession to watch, what's the point?[[/labelnote]] impossibility,[[labelnote:*]]ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin, more or less. The classic case is this: Seller ships Buyer 5,000 pairs of pants (either sense) from Bangladesh to Britain. While passing through the Red Sea, the ship gets attacked by Somali pirates and the container containing the pants falls to the bottom of the sea. Seller doesn't have to deliver the pants, or send another 5,000 pairs, because the shipment was destroyed and his performance was impossible. (It is a little more complicated with shipping, as that's where those shipping terms like "FOB" and "CIS" come from, but let's not get into that.)[[/labelnote]] and impracticability[[labelnote:*]]A California innovation, essentially meaning "we ''could'' do it, but something unforeseeable happened that makes it prohibitively expensive"[[/labelnote]] to soften its impact, to the point where this trope no longer really applies except where many if not most folks would say "Yeah, you should probably have read the fine print." Courts in non-common law jurisdictions are even more hostile to fine print, and will likely rule ''any'' fine print clauses in standard form contracts to be unenforceable. In countries based on Roman law, the civil code heavily restricts the types of clauses that can be put into these sorts of contracts.

In any case, one can contractually rescind any of one's legal rights except for bodily freedom and life. Joining the military, working for the government (FBI, CIA), or just agreeing to arbitration (giving up your right to sue in court) in a contract, are ways you can give up your rights.

In fiction, the law is pretty clear though -- if you signed it, then you agreed with it. Otherwise you wouldn't have signed, right? No one held a gun to your head (if they did, then it is void, if you can prove that). Long story short; read the damn contract.

ReadTheFreakingManual is a similar trope, for cases where the careless can be ensnared by equipment malfunctions rather than legal obligations. Compare UnreadableDisclaimer and RattlingOffLegal. Favored by the MorallyBankruptBanker.

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]
* Spoofed in ''Anime/DogDays''. The people of Biscotti [[SummonEverymanHero summon]] Cinque Izumi to help them. When he succeeds, he learns that the summoning portal was one way and he's now stuck in this fantasy land. He's shown the summoning portal and Eclair berates him for not reading the runes explaining this before jumping through it. Cinque angrily protests that the runes are in dog language and that the portal appeared in his path while he was jumping, so there was no way he could have possibly known.
* In ''Manga/YuGiOhArcV'', Yuzu asks Yuya for his "autograph" and he signs the paper she gives him without looking at it. He finds out too late that it was a contract forcing him to work at her school.

[[folder: Card Games ]]
* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' has a whole bunch of "pay X life: do Y" cards, all of them black, and representing a [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=15193 Faustian bargain]]. (Note the 6 mana cost for extra evil.) Oddly, in ''Magic'', Faustian bargains with EvilutionaryBiologist planeswalkers who are obvious {{expy}}s for Satan are quite profitable and the only problem being that it's on the Type 1 restricted list. But look at [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=19115 Carnival of Souls.]] Yes, you can ''conceivably'' use it, and yes, it ''does'' get better now that manaburn doesn't exist, but half the time, you're paying 1 life to do nothing.
** Orzhov Syndicate from [[TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering Ravnica]] specializes in roping in people into contracts with really detrimental fine print. Example: Losing an appendage for late payment? Ouch. [[http://magiccards.info/gtc/en/161.html The head being counted as an appendage?]] Its in the fine print.
** The card [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=398433 Demonic Pact]] forces you to choose one option of four each turn, with the caveat that you can't choose an option you've already chosen. Three of the options are highly beneficial, while the fourth is "You lose the game." The list of official rulings for the card includes a snarky reference to this trope:
-->'''6/22/2015''': Yes, if the fourth mode is the only one remaining, you must choose it. You read the whole contract, right?

[[folder: Comics ]]
* In one [[WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck Gyro Gearloose]] story, he has invented a pair of glasses that gives the user superhuman vision. To test it, he among other things read the fine print on his insurance. It turns out the conditions when the insurance ''doesn't'' apply are so wide that he basically never can collect ("...does not apply when on foot, in a car, on a train, on a plane, in a bed, on ''rollerblades''...")
* Many ''[[ComicBook/TheLifeAndTimesOfScroogeMcDuck Uncle Scrooge]]'' stories featured him tricking Donald into signing a contract with ridiculously small fine print that Donald had to fulfill or risk dire consequences.
** Scrooge has found himself on the wrong end of these, as well. In "The Horseradish Story", an ancestor of his signed a contract 200 years ago without reading the fine print. (The ancestor, a Seafoam [=McDuck=], had misplaced his spectacles -- Creator/DonRosa would later imply the other party, a Swindle [=McSue=], was responsible for the misplacing.) According to that fine print, Seafoam had to deliver a case of horseradish to Jamaica or forfeit his assets to Swindle, who sabotaged the trip for that very purpose. Because Seafoam never gave him a set of golden teeth, a Chisel [=McSue=], last heir of the [=McSue=] Clan, got a court order allowing him to claim Scrooge's estates, minus an old set of clothes. Fortunately, even that court order had a fine print, which Scrooge read. It stated Chisel couldn't take possession for 30 days, and even then only if Scrooge failed to fulfill the terms of the original contract. Before becoming wealthy, Scrooge sold the aforementioned teeth to buy a prospector's outfit, making it so he couldn't fulfill the contract by any means other than recovering the case of horseradish and delivering it to Jamaica. His nephews use this trope against him in the same story, making Scrooge sign a contract stating he will pay them their 30 cent wages, since Scrooge has tried to cheat them in the past. At the end of the story, Scrooge refuses to pay what he considers an outrageous sum -- 226 dollars. The nephews reveal the fine print of the contract he signed: either pay the full amount, or eat the crateful of horseradish.
** Taking a leaf after Swindle [=McSue=], the Beagle Boys once tricked Scrooge into having to deliver a crateful of eggs to the Island of Ripan Taro to avoid having to give them his fortune. When it seemed the delivery would be done, he tripped and the eggs cracked, revealing the eggs weren't of the indicated species. Scrooge invoked this fact to claim "the contract is no good" because the Beagle Boys "misrepresented their cargo".
** Subverted in the chapter "King of the Klondike"; when Scrooge needs money bad, he's forced to go to Soapy Slick for a loan. After Scrooge signs the contract, Soapy reveals that his contracts don't need fine print...just enough space to make changes wherever he wants, such as turning the 10 % interest rate to ''100%''.
** In general the comics employed extreme amounts of ArtisticLicenseLaw when dealing with contracts and most of the problems this trope created in-universe would not exist in RealLife because that is just not how contracts work.
* In one ''WesternAnimation/CasperTheFriendlyGhost'' story, "Powfinger", the small print in a contract magically shrinks to prevent anyone reading it.
* Dogbert isn't actually reading the contract, he just likes to look at documents and say "yadda yadda yadda..." However he does recommend retyping the contract to benefit Dilbert and then sending it in. They can't proofread all of them can they? (Someone later did this in real life)
* ''ComicStrip/BloomCounty'' had a strip where Steve Dallas was having Bill the Cat sign a contract off panel, Steve was saying "Sign here.... sign here - DON'T READ THAT! Sign here..."
* ''WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy'': "Scout's Dishonor" (Cartoon Network Block Party #35) had a mousy scoutmaster getting Billy to sign up for the Extreme Scouts. It's after he signs that the scoutmaster becomes a GeneralRipper. Mandy claims bossing Billy around is ''her'' privilege but the scoutmaster shows her the fine print: all rights revert to him. So Mandy adds Grim's name to the contract.

* The FanFic ''FanFic/TotalDramaChris'' expands the canon into a recurring plot point, and eventually reveals that their [[TookALevelInJerkass Jerkass]] LevelGrinding Chris has been [[spoiler:continuously adding new things to the ''already-signed'' contracts, assuming [[ArtisticLicenseLaw this is just as binding]]]]. [[EvenEvilHasStandards Chef]] calls him out on it.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/ShrekForeverAfter'', Shrek says he carefully looked over Rumpelstiltskin's contract, but Donkey reveals that you have to fold the paper origami-style to find the fine print, and the CurseEscapeClause.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/WillyWonkaAndTheChocolateFactory'': Before being admitted to the tour of Wonka's chocolate factory, the kids must sign an extremely lengthy contract with text that gets progressively smaller until it's virtually microscopic. The contract alarms most of the parents, but they sign anyway, given that they have no real choice. Wonka cites this contract in the end.
** However, the contracts they signed carry absolutely no legal weight. Note that the kids sign, not their parents. The kids are all ''minors'' and therefore can't enter into any kind of a legal contract. The parents can do so on behalf of the children (although there are hundreds of laws covering that and Wonka would have needed an army of lawyers standing behind him), ''but the parents don't sign.'' Hey, Wonka? Good luck in front of an English Barrister with a contract containing microscopic fine print that is also signed by people who aren't allowed to sign a contract...
* In ''Film/{{Bedazzled 2000}}'', Brendan Fraser's character [[DealWithTheDevil sells his soul to the Devil]] (Elizabeth Hurley) by signing a ridiculously huge contract without reading. Throughout the film, the Devil "reminds" him of various clauses from the contract, which is all news to him. Interestingly,[[spoiler: the way out of the deal depends on him ''not'' having read the contract (i.e. he has to make a selfless wish).]] According to the Devil, no one ever reads the damned thing (pun intended).
* A variation on this appears in ''Film/TheSantaClause'', where the border on Santa's business card is revealed to consist of a contract written in microscopic print, the general gist of which is that protagonist Scott Calvin is now Santa Claus, whether he likes it or not. And then in the sequel, an even ''more'' microscopic clause reveals that he has to get married or he'll lose his powers.
* In ''Film/TheFlintstones'', Fred signs a bunch of forms without reading them, and they turn out to be firing notices for all his friends. The dictabird even tells him, "Only an idiot signs something before reading it." In fact the film's villain got Fred to sign his name to everything he did in the movie this way.
* The hero of ''Film/TheSpanishPrisoner'' is tricked into signing a club membership form which turns out to be a request for political asylum from the Republic of Venezuela. Later it's used against him.
* An example shows up in ''Film/WaynesWorld'', but it pans out quite differently from most examples. The other party is a sleazeball but never attempts to [[MovingTheGoalposts move the goalposts]] and most of the terms he gets Wayne in trouble over are relatively reasonable by entertainment industry standards. In fact, if Wayne had bothered to get a lawyer and read and negotiate a bit, most of the plot could have been avoided.
* In the 1957 musical of ''Literature/ThePiedPiperOfHamelin'', the Mayor produces the 'receipt' for the piper's services, carefully unrolling only the bit where his signature goes. Suspicious, the piper insists on reading it...and the unrolled scroll stretches halfway across the room. "I see as we go up the line the print gets rather fine." After various deductions for unrelated expenses, and a clause that his fee can be held in escrow for a hundred years, the contract ends by stating that the Piper must pay 50,000 guilders (the entire sum he's owed) should the rats come back. We all know what happens next.
* Inverted for the same effect in ''Film/StrokerAce''. Clyde Torkle's contract is so long that its bound form is larger than most phone books. That and some quick smooth talk ensures that Stroker signs it anyway, even after insisting that he read the whole thing. Torkle then spends the movie forcing Stroker through some truly embarrassing advertising gags. In addition, Torkle worded his contract so that Stroker can't race for three years if he quits. Stroker spends the rest of the movie trying to get Torkle to fire him so the clause doesn't come into effect.


[[folder: Jokes]]
* How is Literature/TheBible like an End User License Agreement? Because most people just accept it without reading it.

[[folder: Literature ]]
* ''Literature/GoodOmens:'' Crowley (a demon) actually sent a software user agreement to the guys downstairs in charge of the 'sell your soul' contracts with the note: "Learn, guys."
* The first ''Literature/RedDwarf'' novel expanded on the character who was the ship's hologram before Rimmer. At one point, he took out a loan from a [[LoanShark mob run building society with a ridiculously high interest rate clause]]. The clause in question was hidden in a microdot in the letter i in one sentence, thereby taking the concept of fine print to ridiculous new levels.
* In one Franchise/StarTrekExpandedUniverse novels, [[CreatorsPet Wesley Crusher]] ends up selling himself into slavery by signing a Ferengi contract without reading. He then sneaks into his owner's office and reads it, although it's written in barely understandable Legalese. The first clause of the contract actually forbids Wesley from reading it. He's afraid to run away, as that would be a contract violation, which is the highest crime among the Ferengi.
* In one of Creator/HarryHarrison's ''Literature/TheStainlessSteelRat'' novels, the main character is forced to do something he's against, but his boss insists it's in his contract. In a slight subversion, James actually [[GenreSavvy read the entire thing]]. The boss then points to a smudge at the end and uses a microscope to show him that it's actually an extra clause written in ''very'' fine print.
* ''Literature/JenniferGovernment'' features a guy signing a contract which includes stipulations that require him to murder several people, and ''severe'' penalties if he refuses or fails to do so. It was, however, less about fine print and more about fast talking him into signing the contract without reading it.
* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' Harry and other wizards always read the fine print, even if it is on a contract they sent to the person and now are signing themselves. This is because if something new is added, they could end up signing away their soul, service, first born child, or a whole load of other things. And when the other parties can include the Fae, gods, demons, and the Almighty and His group, best to read what one is signing. And even then, the LoopholeAbuse and ExactWords some malevolent characters would invoke is equally dangerous.
* In Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''The Man Who Sold the Moon'', Delos D. Harriman, "the last of the Robber Barons", mentions that the roadways he owns that are used by most of the population to commute and move goods have small print on the ticket that says that the company will only "attempt" to get them or their goods to their destination and if the company fails it is only liable to refund the price of the ticket. Using the roadway means agreeing with this. Harriman says he got idea when he worked as a clerk for the Western Union telegram service. By signing the front of a telegram form most people didn't realize they were agreeing to all the small print listed on the back of the form. Harriman read the back in his free time on the job and admired it. This sort of caveat is actually fairly common in contracts, in the form of a "force majure" clause that releases someone from a contractual obligation if uncontrollable circumstances make it impossible to comply.
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', Tommen Baratheon is eventually made King of Westeros. It soon becomes clear that he's just a PuppetKing controlled by his mother Cersei as all he does is sign and stamp royal decrees at her direction without reading them. Justified in that he's just an eight year old boy and has no idea what he is doing. [[spoiler:This backfires on Cersei when a paper dissolving her administration is put in front of King Tommen by those seeking to remove her from power.]]
* In ''The Definitive Biography of Music/PDQBach'', P.D.Q. is said to have signed a contract promising him a stipend of five shillings, in exchange for which he agrees to "perform the duties incumbent upon the Organist of the Chapel [-if I feel like it-]." According to Schickele (his alleged biographer), this shows that P.D.Q. was not only a musical innovator, but also the first person to use fine print in a contract.
* In the short story anthology ''All Hell Breaking Loose,'' one story is about the Devil visiting a CorruptCorporateExecutive from a record company so that he can add a new clause to the company's Terms of Service agreement that would enable him to [[YourSoulIsMine steal the soul]] of anyone who [[DigitalPiracyIsEvil illegally downloaded one of their songs]]. The executive agreed, since he was getting a dramatic drop in music theft and a Get Out Of Hell Free card out of the deal.

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/OurMissBrooks'': In the episode "Hospital Capers", a lawyer (a literal ambulance chaser) gets Mr. Boynton to sign a contract hiring him as counsel; the contract features a hefty penalty if Mr. Boynton chooses to terminate his representation. When Miss Brooks visits the lawyer, he hands her ever larger magnifying glasses to read the contract's fine print.
* In one episode of ''Series/EerieIndiana'', Marshall and Simon review the credit-card contracts offered by a strange visitor. What looks like an ink smudge at the end of the contract turns out to be its fine print when viewed under a microscope, revealing that the contracts are actually [[DealWithTheDevil deals with the Devil]].
* Peter in ''Series/TheMonkees'' episode "Dance, Monkee, Dance" is tricked into signing a lifetime contract at a dance studio after winning a free dance lesson.
* In Brazilian show ''Caça Talentos'', before signing with a network, the owner of a talent agency utilized a magnifying glass to search for loopholes. When the network owner decided to end the contract, he utilized a loophole in letters so small a small telescope was used.
* ''Series/ElChavoDelOcho'': Doña Florinda practically begged to be a victim of this trope. When she opened a "fonda" she [[InsistentTerminology insists calling a "restaurant"]], she barely read the rental contract. She didn't even know who her new landlord was before the first time he showed up to collect.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''
** When [[spoiler: Dick Roman]] makes a deal with Crowley, the King of Hell pulls a ''very'' long scroll out of his coat, and the two spend the night reading and revising with a magnifying glass and a red Sharpie.
** Bobby, in Season 5 temporarily sold his soul to Crowley in order to [[spoiler: help end the Apocalypse]]. Unfortunately, his contract says that Crowley only needs to make best efforts to return it. [[spoiler: Luckily, Bobby successfully blackmails Crowley into rewriting the contract]].
* ''Series/ElleryQueen'': In "The Adventure of the Comic Book Crusader", Ellery despises the proposed Ellery Queen comic, but he is legally powerless to stop it because a clause in Ellery's contract stipulates that the company can license his likeness to use in any way they see fit.
* ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus:'' A man hosting a dinner finds out that when you sign up for the Book of the Month club, [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fm1GN-mEyvc you get a free hundredweight of animal dung delivered to your house]]. Of course, it's not on the forms because that would be bad for business. Seconds later, he learns that when you order a new cooker, you also get a free dead Indian. Of course, in that case, the free dead Indian is mentioned in the adverts. It's just that it's in the very small print so as not to affect the sales. And then they find out for every two cartons of single cream you buy, the Milk Marketing Board gives you an M4 motorway. This leads to a scene of the couple standing in a highway with a dead Indian and lots of dung. A police car then drives up:
-->'''Inspector:''' Yes! This couple is just one of the prizes in this year's Police Raffle. Other prizes include two years for breaking and entering, a crate of search warrants, a 'What's all this then?' T-shirt and a weekend for two with a skinhead of your own choice.
-->'''Announcer:''' And that's not all. Three fabulous new prizes have just been added: a four-month supply of interesting undergarments, a fully motorized pig, and a hand-painted scene of Arabian splendour, complete with silly walk!
* A segment of ''Series/LastWeekTonightWithJohnOliver'' covering net neutrality by showing clips of C-SPAN and pointing out one of the great truths of modern-day society.
-->'''John''': If you want to do something evil, [[HiddenInPlainSight hide it in something boring]]... If [[UsefulNotes/AppleMacintosh Apple]] put the entire text of ''Literature/MeinKampf'' in their User Agreement, you'd still click "agree".
* This Trope is Inverted in an episode of ''Series/MurderSheWrote'', when a Jessica tells a victim of such a contract - promising someone the lions' share of her earnings - is actually very easy to nullify. (Unfortunately, the contract holder then becomes the murder victim, resulting in the contract signer becoming the suspect; [[SarcasmMode didn't see that coming...]])
* ''Series/FullFrontal''. In a spoof of pre-nuptual agreements, a young couple at a singles bar agree to go to a hotel room for sex, whereupon the woman introduces her lawyer who insists on a "pre-sexual agreement". The man gets more and more flustered as the lawyer explains the contract, until he finally objects that he's not going through with this...until his own lawyer checks it (said lawyer is also waiting nearby). Later we return to the skit with both lovers and both lawyers in the same bed, negotiating the move from foreplay to sexual intimacy.

[[folder: Music]]
* The Trans-Siberian Orchestra story "Beethoven's Last Night" ends with Beethoven selling the rights to his Tenth Symphony to the Devil, in order to rescue the soul of a homeless girl. When the Devil triumphantly tries to destroy the symphony, he finds he can't; because of the way Fate worded the contract, the Devil actually purchased the Tenth Symphony of Beethoven's older brother, also named Ludwig, who died young.

[[folder: Radio]]
* Fine print is often a topic of discussion on the radio show and associated website of Clark Howard, a consumer advocate, who humorously refers to it as "mice type."

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]
* In some versions of the RPG ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'', even the ''money'' comes with fine print attached.
* As recounted in the ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' sourcebook ''Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the [[CirclesOfHell Nine Hells]]'', this is one of the [[LawfulEvil Baatezu]]'s favorite tales. Back at the dawn of creation, [[{{Satan}} Asmodeus]] and his fellow angels battled the [[AlwaysChaoticEvil demons]] until they become nearly as corrupted and grotesque. When mortals began breaking the deities' laws and summoning demons into their worlds, Asmodeus volunteered his {{Fallen Angel}}s' services to punish sinners. This quite ruined the atmosphere of the various heavens, so Asmodeus brokered the Pact Primeval with the gods, which set up a separate Hell for the torture of evil souls and gave the devils the right to harvest magical energy from the process to sustain themselves. All was well until the good deities realized that they were receiving fewer virtuous souls in their afterlives because the devils were tempting mortals into evil to increase their yield. When the furious gods confronted Asmodeus, he simply smiled and said this trope verbatim.

[[folder: Theater]]
* ''Theatre/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'': The parents/guardians of the five kids need to sign the thick, bound contracts, which Mr. Wonka hastily summarizes with copious amounts of nonsensical legalese and AltumVidetur -- as well as the line "No property be touched or chewed or peddled" -- when they ask him what it says. They still don't understand it, but the impatient kids cry "Just sign!" Given later events, this contract apparently boils down to "I am not responsible for the consequences (transformation, dismemberment, [[UncertainDoom possibly death]], etc.) if you the undersigned fiddle around with what you're not supposed to."

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* ''VideoGame/GuitarHero 3'' has the band firing Lou as their manager, only to find the very small print at the bottom of their contract says "Your soul is mine". Next stop: Lou's Inferno.
* In ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2 Mask of the Betrayer'', the player, by [[LoopholeAbuse finding a loophole]], can help a wizard who made a [[DealWithTheDevil contract with a devil]] without reading it. One possible response to learning that:
-->'''PC:''' I believe that's my cue to sigh loudly and leave.
** [[spoiler: It turns out the fine print works both ways. Interpreting a wish to make someone disappear as a command to kill them counts as forcing the signer to fulfill the "singee must kill someone" term of the contract.]]
* Used in ''VideoGame/{{Descent}} 2'' to send the material defender on yet another suicide mission, while not paying him yet.
--> '''Dravis:''' If you've studied your standard mercenary agreement, you would notice that PTMC reserves the right to keep you on retainer for up to 72 hours, post-mission.
--> '''Material Defender:''' Dravis, you son of a
-->'''Dravis:''' If you choose to decline further service, we may consider you in default of your contract, and your fee may be suspended, pending litigation. Good luck, Material Defender. Dravis out.
* At one point in ''VideoGame/{{BioShock|1}}'', Andrew Ryan calmly reads the contract of an employee he's murdering with poisonous gas. Specifically, the part that makes all of that employee's discoveries Ryan Industries property, which makes her aiding the hero a breach of contract [[OneNationUnderCopyright and thus an act of treason]].
** What makes this one especially interesting is that the property in question had previously been destroyed and regarded as refuse. Never mind the fact that taking this stand meant not only depriving the employee of her own possessions (that is to say, her own life), but would also threaten the lives of everyone else in Rapture - all in order to protect what amounts to his garbage, his broken toys that he threw away but doesn't want anyone else to recycle. This scene actually serves as Ryan's MoralEventHorizon from the point of view of the player; at this point Ryan's actions should have made him sufficiently detestable that his status as the BigBad in need of a violent ending is beyond argument. [[spoiler: Too bad that Ryan takes that satisfaction away...]]
* If you spend 30,000 gold or more buying goods from the demon salesman Renon in ''VideoGame/{{Castlevania 64}}'' he appears before the final boss and asks if you actually read the contract you entered into to do so. When your character claims they couldn't read the demonic language it's written in, he points out that by spending that much he now owns your soul and [[BonusBoss goes all One Winged Angel on your ass to collect it]].

[[folder: Web Animation]]
* ''WebAnimation/MarcaToons'': José Mourinho offers Pedro León a contract to officially change his nickname... but after signing it, he learns it actually was a contract to send him on loan to another club. At least his nickname does change: he is no longer "The Substitute", now he is "The Loaned".
--> '''Mourinho:''' Good luck at Hércules!

[[folder: Web Comics ]]
* [[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/11/16/ This]] ''Webcomic/PennyArcade'' strip.
* Exploiting others through sneakily-worded contracts is a favorite tactic of Thief from ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater''.
* Marth in one ''Webcomic/AwkwardZombie'' strip actually attempts to subvert this, though Master Hand [[{{Brainwashed}} had other ideas]].
* [[http://www.lukesurl.com/archives/1128 This]] ''Webcomic/LukeSurl'' strip: "[[DealWithTheDevil Functionally it's pretty much identical]] to any [[MegaCorp Microsoft]] EULA", only they evidently entangled it too much.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'', according to section VI article 12 of the [[DealWithTheDevil agreement]], the Devil [[http://www.sinfest.net/view.php?date=2004-11-27 reserves the right]] to do ''whatever he damn well pleases''.
--> '''Devil''': I'm in the details, baby!
** Also this earlier strip: [[http://www.sinfest.net/view.php?date=2000-11-12 Satisfied Customers]]
--> '''Disclaimer''': The Devil, being the Prince of Lies, is known to trick people from time to time.
* In ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'', Kevyn works for a mercenary company that used to be owned by his sister. When he finds out she eloped when he wasn't looking, she notes that ''he's'' the one who will have to tell their mother about it, since she buried a few lines to that effect in the fine print of his contract.
* Rainbow Dash fell victim to this in ''WebComic/FriendshipIsDragons''. Two other players in her D&D group who happened to be artificers drew up a contract for her character to sign, deliberately taking so long that her player fell asleep out of boredom. When it was finally ready, she signed without looking at it, only to find out at the end that it gave her share to the artificers. The DM allowed it because it was in-character and hilarious, ignoring how upset and embarrassed she was.

[[folder: Web Originals ]]
* Before signing the contract with [[Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica Kyubey]] be sure to [[http://psyconorikan.deviantart.com/art/Puella-Magi-Contract-209370774 read the fine print.]]
* Used at the start of this [[http://xninjared.deviantart.com/art/Alan-Wake-Meme-197192094 Meme.]]
* Within the world of the Literature/WhateleyUniverse, magical contracts are binding even in the case of trickery, as Jobe finds out when Sara hides all of the nasty loopholes in the ending period with the letters stacked on top of each other.
* The Episode 27 challenge in the Internet {{Reality|Show}} TalentShow ''WebVideo/StripSearch'' involves identifying malicious clauses in a contract.

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* The Halloween TV special ''WesternAnimation/TheDevilAndDanielMouse'' features a scene where a young singer ''tries'' to read all the fine print in the contract she's being offered by an [[LouisCypher evil record executive]], but the contract-paper just keeps getting longer and longer and longer..
* Chris Mclean from ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama'' will often use the fine print of his contracts to smuggle his way into getting what he wants.
* Also played with in ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'', where the Pixies' contract regarding Cosmo has fine print, and the fine print has fine print.
* Subverted in ''WesternAnimation/RegularShow'': Coffee and his friend ask Mordecai and Rigby to sign a contract which asked that Mordecai and Rigby buy tickets to a concert for all four of them in exchange for Coffee's coffee. Rigby signs it after barely even looking at it, but it doesn't matter whether or not he read it because the contract was unable to be understood. It was [[PokemonSpeak the word "coffee" written over and over again]], and a line at the bottom.
* In ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'', episode "[=HUMANCENTiPAD=]," Kyle is apparently the only kid in South Park that doesn't read [=EULAs=]:
-->'''Butters:''' "By clicking 'Agree,' you are also acknowledging that Apple may sew your mouth to the butthole of another iTunes user. Apple and its subsidiaries may, if necessary, sew another person's mouth to your butthole, making you [[Film/TheHumanCentipede a being that shares one gastral tract]]." I'm going to click on...'Decline.'
* This was essential to the climax of the ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' episode "[[Recap/FuturamaS4E18TheDevilsHandsAreIdlePlaythings The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings]]".
* Played with in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/AlvinAndTheChipmunks''. While in Japan, Alvin signs himself and his brothers up to perform in kabuki theater, not realizing that this means they'll have to dress like women. Simon demands to know why Alvin didn't read the contract.
-->'''Alvin:''' I can't. It's in Japanese.
* ''WesternAnimation/HiHiPuffyAmiYumi'': Kaz added several loopholes in the contract he had the girls sign when he became their manager. Some of them were in ''Russian''.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheMask'': Stanley once made a DealWithTheDevil but didn't understand he literally sold his soul until the Devil came to collect. The Devil then offered to find anyone willing to sign away his soul within one hour. Practically everyone Stanley tried was clever enough to use a magnifying glass to search for loopholes. When one person (Peggy) was willing to sign, Stanley didn't have the guts to go through.
* ''WesternAnimation/FostersHomeForImaginaryFriends'': In the episode "The Sweet Stench of Success", the antagonist of the episode ''tries'' to invoke this by saying that it was adoption papers that Bloo signed, not an acting contract. What makes this a subversion is that said adoption papers were never run by Fosters first and thus technically null and void.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheTransformers'' episode "Webworld", Cyclonus sends Galvatron to the asylum planet Torkulon for therapy to try to cure his madness. Cyclonus signs a lot of paperwork without reading it. If he had, he probably would have known that if the Torkuli judge a patient incurable, they will have the [[GeniusLoci planet]] MindRape the patient while giant bugs consume their brains, effectively lobotomizing them. Galvatron escapes and destroys the planet, then berates Cyclonus for not seeing that coming.
* Subverted in a episode of ''WesternAnimation/DarkwingDuck''; the studio claims something they want DW to do is in his contract; Darkwing points out he read the whole thing, ''including'' the fine print. [[spoiler:Turns out the offending line is on the ''edge'' of the contract.[[note]]"We hold these truths to be self-evident, the studio is always '''''right!?!'''''"[[/note]]]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfRockyAndBullwinkle'', whenever Boris, in one of his many guises, tricks Rocky and Bullwinkle into signing a contract, he tells them not to read the contract so they won't hurt their eyes.
** An episode of ''WesternAnimation/DudleyDoRight'' has [[DastardlyWhiplash Snidely Whiplash]] foreclosing a mortgage and forcing a woman out into the cold, producing a contract written on a ''very'' small piece of paper.
-->'''Snidely:''' You people are gonna have to learn to read the small print.
-->'''Woman:''' I can't even read the ''large'' print.
-->'''Snidely:''' Can I help it if there was a paper shortage?
* In the ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' episode "A Fish Out of Water" Peter gets a loan from a bank to pay for a boat. Brian tells him the bank is now seizing all his assets and he needs $50,000 or they get the house as well. He asks Peter if he read the fine print on the loan contract.
-->'''Peter''': If by "read" you mean "imagined a naked lady," then yes.
* ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'':
** In the short "Fool Coverage", insurance salesman WesternAnimation/DaffyDuck spends the whole cartoon trying to convince WesternAnimation/PorkyPig to purchase an accident policy offering $1 million for a black eye. After Porky agrees to sign it at the end, Daffy smugly informs him that the policy is only effective if the accident results from a stampede of elephants inside his own home between 3:55 and 4:00 pm on the Fourth of July during a hailstorm. Naturally, every one of those conditions are immediately met. Daffy then tries to slip in an extra provision that "one baby zebra" has to follow the elephants. Cue one baby zebra.
** In the ''WesternAnimation/WileECoyoteAndTheRoadRunner'' short Wile E. attempts to trap the Road Runner by getting him to eat some Acme Earthquake Pills disguised as birdseed. They don't work, and it isn't until Wile E. contemptuously swallows the entire bottle of pills that he reads the fine print on the pill bottle and discovers that they're "not effective on Road Runners." Cue OhCrap.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/StarVsTheForcesOfEvil'' episode "The Gift of the Card", Star buys Marco a gift card for the multi-dimensional mall Quest Buy, and signs the contract without reading it. The fine print says if the card expires without being used, both Star and Marco will die (the card transforms into a seemingly invincible monster when time is almost up). Marco berates her for it, but manages to buy something with seconds to spare.
* {{Subverted| trope}} in an episode of ''Westernanimation/{{Gravity Falls}}''. Stan answers the door to discover he has won $10 million, and just had to sign a claim form; he does so immediately and enthusiastically. Then [[{{face of an angel mind of a demon}} Gideon]] strides in and gloats that Stan has just signed over the Mystery Shack... only for Stan to point out that he didn't actually sign, he just wrote an insulting message. Don't try to con a {{conman}}.

[[folder: Real Life ]]
* If you live in a Commonwealth country, thank Lord Denning above all for repeatedly emphasizing that contracts need Full Knowledge and Approval. In a nutshell, if something unexpected is hidden in the fine print, it's unlikely to be enforced against the sap who signed the contract.
* Something of a subversion of this is common in online auction sites, such as Website/EBay where a seller will post an item for sale, such as the box that a PSP came in and clearly label the sale as "just the box." Despite the clear and repeated disclaimer, such as "this is just for the box it came in, PSP not included," several people will bid the price up and purchase the empty box, then are disappointed when the box arrives without a PSP in it. It's possible that people bidding on such items have their blinders on. But if you think about it, [[ConvictionByContradiction why would somebody go on eBay and post a listing for an empty box, if not to give the impression that there was something in it?]] In many collecting communities, people deliberately ''will'' buy an empty box - for example, someone may own a near-Mint Generation 1 [[Franchise/{{Transformers}} Optimus Prime]] but not the box. So he buys the box online to display in a fancy case behind the figure.
** A more straight example was once seen on ''Series/JudgeJudy'' involving a lawsuit in which a person listed what was supposedly two Nextel cell phones in an auction, but in the fine print said that what was being sold was only ''pictures'' of cell phone. Judy was not amused and quickly ruled in favor of the plaintiff. More can be read about it on the [[Awesome/JudgeJudy Awesome]] page for the series.
* Certain offers, usually found on Website/{{Facebook}}, promise free music downloads in return for signing up for a service that sends trivia or jokes to your phone. All you have to do is give them your phone number and fill in on their website the number they text to you. Don't even bother reading the fine print at the bottom of the page; after all, such an honest company would never tack on obscenely huge hidden charges to your phone bill! The same ads appear on television as well, usually for a horoscope, ringtone, or daily joke. The catch being is that they bill your phone bill directly either weekly or monthly if you don't request them to stop after you get your "free" one ''and'' they sell your number and can telemarket you for up to six months without violating the Do Not Call registry. If you think this is frustrating, take pity on the cell phone customer service people who have to explain to you what you signed up for.
* Usually more in point: [=EULAs=] (End-User License Agreement. Who reads all of those?!)
** Played with nicely by the author of Spybot S&D: "This is dedicated to the nicest girl I've known" rather than all of the legal jargons most [=EULAs=] use.
** In some jurisdictions it would prove quite diffcult for a company to enforce their [=EULAs=] in court, because the buyer usually only gets to see the EULA when he/she installs the software, i.e. after buying it. Therefore, one cannot assume informed consent on the buyer's side.
** Some of them include a clause that if you do not agree to it, you should bring the product back to the store. Whether said store will actually return your money, in the age of CD and DVD burners, is another matter entirely.[[note]]at least in the U.S. In other countries, the store are forced to accept the disk anyways, especially if the disk is defective, unless the store's policy states otherwise.[[/note]]
** When EA's ''Origin'' [=DRM=]-Software was introduced with ''Battlefield 3'', there was quite an uproar about the extend of rights given to EA in the EULA to install very invasive spyware on customers computers. Since an EULA falls under ''general terms and conditions'' in German law and any paragraph that would be considered "unexpected" in such contracts are automatically null and void. And since giving a company free rein to install spyware when all you wanted was to buy a game, this falls very much under "unexpected terms", so the installation would be illegal and a criminal offense. As a result several large electronic store chains offered to take the game back even when opened. It remains yet to be seen what will happen with Origin.
** Google Chrome originally had the same EULA as everything else they had. It's fairly strict normally, but in context it basically said that they owned the Internet.
** [=EULAs=] aren't really fine print, though; everything is written in the same font size. The reason for this is in most modern countries, putting anything important in fine print is a bad idea. Attempts to hide important clauses show bad faith, usually nullifying the contract if it harms the signer, but still valid if it harms the person who wrote it! Needless to say, savvy contract writers find other ways to hide the nasty.
** The [[InsistentTerminology erotic visual novel]] Cross Days actually used it for good [[ForTheLulz (and giggles)]]. Pirated copies of the game have a trojan that added personal information of the user in a public website, and to take it down the users had to admit to illegally downloading the game.
** Averted with free and open source software licenses, which don't require people merely using the software to agree to anything just to use the software (use is unlimited anyway). For example, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux kernel, semi-jokingly gave owners of "[[Film/AustinPowers sharks with frickin' laser beams]]" as acceptable users; contrast the iTunes EULA). Reading the license is only required for those modifying or distributing software, whose terms vary somewhat between licenses, with simpler licenses such as that of BSD and the X Window System mostly just requiring credit to be given while more complex licenses require the source code to be distributed (but only if the program is distributed at all) and/or require patent holders to license any patents that cover code they contribute.[[note]]The Apache License 2.0 requires the latter but not the former, while version 3 the GNU General Public License and all versions of the Mozilla Public License require both (previous GPL versions only required the former), though the MPL is less strict about requiring new code to be distributed in source form (only modifications to existing files with the MPL, and all files period with the GPL.[[/note]]
* In German contract law, there is a special section for "general terms and conditions" of purchase contracts, which are predefined by the seller and not negotiable, like store policies or the [=EULA=] of software. As it is not expected that customers understand or even read such contracts, or are even aware that they exist when they buy something in a store, the most important part of the law makes any terms or conditions that are "unexpected" in such a contract null and void. To discourage businesses from trying to sneak unexpected terms into a contract and hope most customers won't notice, the invalid paragraph is not replaced by the next best thing they are legally allowed to put into a contract, but by the absolute legal minimum which is usually highly beneficial to the customer.
* Funny or strange cases involving odd uses of fine print show up all the time in contract law classes. One case involved a company who included the words (paraphrased) 'Congratulations! If you read this you are eligible for a bonus! Just send your email to us!' in the middle of one of their online agreement contracts; a couple of people did so, and it turned out the company was serious, as they ''actually did receive free money out of it''.
** Another UK case involves [=GameStation=], where, for an April Fool's joke, they included a clause in the contract for buying one of those games claiming that by agreeing to this EULA, you agree to surrender your soul to [=GameStation=], all written in completely straight-faced legalese. There was an option to proceed without relinquishing your soul, and the few that chose this option (and therefore had read the terms thoroughly) received a £5 GBP voucher.
** The [=iTunes=] EULA contains a line which reads: ''You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, '''the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons'''.'' It was once technically meaningful (albeit very ''pro forma'', and now obsolete). iTunes contains encryption technology, which under US law formerly made it classified as a ''weapon'' and subject to export and usage restrictions.
* Music/VanHalen's [[http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/van-halens-legendary-mms-rider standard contract with venues]] famously included a hidden line specifying that a bowl of M&Ms be placed in the green room, with all the brown ones (or some such) taken out. However, this was an aversion in that the band ''wanted'' the line to be found. As Music/DavidLeeRoth [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwHO2HnwfnA explains]], Van Halen's show was so big that there were extensive contract requirements for the venue, as well as many, ''many'' pages of safety requirements that the venue had to fulfill, due to the pyrotechnics, electronics and flying harness that the band used, effects that could cause serious injury or death if the requirements were not followed to the letter. The M&M's became a SecretTest to see if the promoter had actually ''read'' the contract before signing it. Brown M&M's (or no M&M's) meant they had to either line-check the contract or cancel the show.
* Zeca Pagodinho once signed a contract to become spokesman to a beer brand named "Nova Schin". But later started making commercials to another brand even saying on them he was wrong on choosing the other one. He later claimed the clause he broke wasn't verbally agreed on and that he signed the contract without reading because he trusted them. A good deal of people in Brazil (the country where it happened) believes him to be either stupid or a liar.
* Many countries have laws that put a minimum font size on the fine print, in order to guarantee that the average person is at least ''capable'' of reading the fine print. An example of this popped up on a cruise liner that advertised a very cheap fare, only to put in small font (as in, so small you would literally need a microscope to read it) "for the first night only." Several passengers sued, and the cruise company was found guilty of fraud.
* In the US, several judges have ruled that you cannot just put anything into the fine print and be considered legal. So you can't put, say, "must pay it all within a week or lose all your assets". There is a common sense and decency clause to all contracts. If a party violates them (as decided by a judge), not only is the contract null and void, the signee usually comes out ahead.
* In the US, many coupons have disclaimers that read "Cash Value 1/100th Of 1 Cent", or some other infinitesimal value. This goes back to the era of [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trading_stamp trading stamps]], when customers would accumulate them when they purchased something and later trade them in for ostensibly free items (think Skee-Ball tickets). Starting with New York in 1904, states passed laws that force trading stamp companies to provide a cash value for the stamps; naturally, the companies set the value as low as possible. Eventually trading stamps were superseded by coupons as customer loyalty promoters, but the laws didn't distinguish between the two and the cash value requirement remained.
* In Swedish contract law, the importance of the fine print depends (among other things, like the informed consent problem for end-user licence agreements) on ''who'' is entering into the deal: contracts between two individuals or two organizations are covered by the Contract Law, while contracts between an individual and an organization are covered by the Consumer Contract Law[[note]]'consumer' since the overwhelming majority of individual/organization contracts, implicit or not, are from persons buying or renting something[[/note]]. The laws are very similar, but with one general difference running through them: the Consumer Contract Law makes ''far'' more rights and protections for the consumer when entering into a contract un-waiveable no matter what the contract says.
* "Low cost" airlines are probably the most well-known example, particularly European ones. Say an airlines advertises "Frankfurt London from 19" - basically everything in such an advertisement should (or does) come with an asterisk. "Frankfurt" can mean [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurt%E2%80%93Hahn_Airport Hahn]] some 100 km away. "London" will certainly not mean Heathrow or City, but may well mean [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_Airport Oxoford]] or [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Southend_Airport some other place]] no where near London. European courts have ruled more than once that such naming (frequently of the style "big city"-small hamlet airport with the big city a hundred or more kilometers away) is either illegal or should come with a disclaimer regarding the actual distance involved. Now to the price: Of course this is the cheapest one way fare they technically offer. Excluding any luggage, beverages, food and sometimes even seat reservations. Some airlines even charge extra for carry-on bags. EU courts have once again stepped in and drawn the line at unavoidable taxes and charges, which have to be included in the advertised price, but charging for printing out a boarding pass or using the wrong credit card is fair game, as long as it is clearly stated somewhere.