Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?
A scheme concocted by the resident chessmaster
ends up involving the manipulation of a supernatural entity. Such a plan may include the deity from the outset, or the deity may be integrated into the plan along the way.
Contrast Evil Is Not a Toy
when someone attempts to invoke either this trope or make a Deal with the Devil
, but fails.
See also Wishplosion
, which is specifically for outfoxing wish-granting entities.
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Anime and Manga
- In Death Note, Light, world champion of the Gambit Roulette, manages to manipulate Rem, a Shinigami, into sacrificing her life by killing L and Watari in order to save Misa, and she dies cursing him as she crumbles to dust. Magnificent Bastard, indeed- although Ryuk is not so easily manipulated.
- In the Haruhi Suzumiya novels, Kyon forces the near-godlike Data Overmind to back down by threatening to provoke the even more godlike Haruhi into recreating the universe with him, to a place where the Overmind would not exist. Essentially, Did You Just Blackmail Cthulhu?
- Lelouch of Code Geass manages to use his Geass on what can reasonably be described as God, taking control of it and forcing it to delete his parents from existence.
Lelouch: "I don't intend to defeat God. This is a request."
- Izaya Orihara of Durarara!! fame, who screws with everyone every chance he gets. Celty and Saika included.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion executes this beautifully. The Angels are coming to merge with Adam and wipe out humanity. However, SEELE cloned Adam to make the Evas and kill off the Angels so that they can merge with Adam themselves, elevating humanity into a God. The "Adam" that the Angels search for isn't even actually Adam, and one of them realizes Adam is actually Lilith. At the same time, Gendo has the real Adam in his hands (literally), and is scheming to kill off the Angels then screw over SEELE by having Rei merge with both Adam and Lilith so that he can get his wife back. And the Angels are none-the-wiser...
- Rather subverted, as in the Mythos of the Universe in question, Humans are considered EQUAL in threat and relative power level to the Angels in question. Since Humans Are Cthulhu then it's not surprising that they can scam the Angels. After all, in NGE Humanity could be described as the Angel of Knowledge...
- Humanity as a whole is considered equal to one of the Angels but Gendou is merely 1 out of 7 billion people(or however many remained after 2nd impact) so consider the trope played straight.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka uses her single wish from Kyubey to erase all witches, throughout time, before they can come into existence. Nice job, Kyubey. Next time, make sure you don't- Oh, wait, there's no next time.
- In Saint Seiya, Gemini Canon becomes infamous for this with his 13 year spanning scheme involving Poseidon and a holy war to Take Over the World. Also, the Gold Saints pull that on Hades one arc later.
- In Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, with some help, Pope Sage managed to seal Thanatos into the Holy Coffer.
Pope Sage, "I wouldn't be the Pope if I wasn't able to predict the next moves of the gods."
- Dragon Ball Z deconstructs this trope in the Buu Arc. Super Buu demanded seeing the 'Strong Fighter'/ Gotenks (Goten and Trunks fused together) he was promised by Goku, in an effort to buy more time Piccolo suggests that Buu amuse himself by terrorizing the people of Earth, knowing they can be revived with the Dragon Balls. Despite Majin Buu previous rampage there were still billions of humans left on earth so Piccolo thought that with that many humans left it would take Super Buu at least a few hours to fly across the world and terrorize every single one of them. Super Buu instead kills every single human, with the exception of Mr Satan, Tien, Chiaotzu and all those present on Kami's Lookout in only two minutes and never left Kami's Lookout while doing it. All of humanity had essentially become a sacrificial lamb for the sake of giving Goten and Trunks just two more of minutes of time to train. It's safe to say that Piccolo's plan of trying to outsmart Super Buu to gain more time backfired on him tremendously.
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, exactly how much of this, how much simple punching, and how much absolute dumb luck contributed to Joseph's defeat of Kars is up to Joseph himself, and he's not particularly truthful. Being a consummate Guile Hero, it is probably largely options one and three.
- In a side story of A Certain Magical Index, the Amakusa Church prevents R'leyh from rising by making it seem like Cthulhu had already defeated them; because of the way magic works in the setting, the spell became nonfunctional once no humans remained to terrorize.
Films — Animated
- The title character in Aladdin manages to trick his newfound genie servant into freeing him from a sealed cavern without making a wish by prodding the genie's ego, and gets away with it. Later on, when Aladdin is drowning and couldn't reasonably wish for rescue, the genie just takes it for granted that he would wish for it and does so, still counting it as a wish (he takes Aladdin "nodding" as a yes, though this was just Aladdin's head was dropping from lack of oxygen). And at the end of the movie, Aladdin tricks Jafar into turning himself into a genie, only to remind him that genies are bound to servitude in lamps. Not to mention he had the handicap of being unable to directly kill Aladdin or his allies when he escaped for revenge in the sequel.
- In Coraline, the eponymous character does this to the Beldam, the demonic master of a pocket universe who needs to consume the souls of children to live. Frustrated with a boring life and uncaring parents, Coraline is enticed into the Beldam's world which appears as an ideal version of her own home and family. The kicker comes when she is prevented from leaving and imprisoned when she refuses to give up her soul (by having buttons sewed onto her eyes, like all creatures in the Beldam's world) and her real parents are captured and held hostage by the Beldam to force Coraline to give in. Coraline makes a deal with the Beldam to play a game by betting she can find the souls of three previous children taken by the Beldam along with her parents. Knowing the Beldam won't concede if Coraline wins, she pretends to lose before stealing the key back to her own world and escaping with her parents to safety. That happens in the book as well, although the movie makes Coraline's plight more desperate. In the book, the Other Parents willingly allow her to go home, but kidnap her parents and then try to trick her into thinking that they just abandoned her. In the movie, they don't magically return her home after she refuses (which she was expecting) and she has to escape home herself, only to find her parents being held hostage and forcing her to return to the Other World.
Films — Live-Action
- Davy Jones gets this in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, although who it is that actually scammed him is up for debate. It took the combined conflicting efforts of possibly the three smartest/wittiest/cleverest Brits in the Caribbean to steal his heart, though James Norrington walks away with the heart and documents at the end of the film
- The way the heroine from the first Wishmaster movie gets the best of the evil Jerkass Genie. He can't grant a wish that directly affects him, so she can't just wish that he stuffs himself back in his lamp. She's down to her third and final wish, and after she makes that wish he'll be free to run amok and destroy the world, and he's forcing her to take action by murdering and torturing people around the heroine. So, with some clever thinking, she comes up with a wish that will work: she wishes that a specific crane operator hadn't been drunk on the job a few days ago. That crane operator had dropped and destroyed the statue that the genie had been trapped inside of, so the wish undoes everything the genie had done and winds up with him imprisoned again.
- In Constantine, the film version of Hellblazer, the titular character manages to defeat the film's Big Bad by attempting suicide, knowing that Satan will personally come to collect his soul, at which point Satan will realize what's going on and stop the Big Bad, whose attempt to start the apocalypse early would screw up Satan's plans. Satan shows his gratitude by offering Constantine a favor, and he asks that a wrongfully damned soul go to Heaven. Satan then realizes too late that Constantine had just performed a Heroic Sacrifice, which allowed him to go to Heaven as well despite committing suicide. Satan instead resurrects Constantine and cures him of his lung cancer in hopes that he will sin again.
- In Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, the boys first attempt to escape death by giving the Grim Reaper a wedgie and running. When they get cast into Hell, they win their souls back and continue on their quest to stop the Big Bad by challenging the Reaper to games like Battleship and electronic football (which he doesn't play, unlike chess) that they're experts at.
- In The Avengers, Black Widow pretends that Loki's taunting is affecting her more than it actually is (she even pretends to cry). In his arrogance, he makes a comment that allows her to figure out his scheme, and she thanks him. The look on the God of Lies' face when he realizes he's been tricked is priceless.
- V'Ger of Star Trek: The Motion Picture effortlessly destroys anything that affronts it—including a Klingon task force of three battlecruisers—on its way to Earth. Depending on the cut of the film you're watching, the energy field that V'Ger creates around itself has a diameter either greater than that of the solar system, or just greater than Earth's orbit around the sun. When it arrives at Earth, the machine casually prepares to obliterate the planet's biosphere. None of that stops Jim Kirk from playing chicken with V'Ger, and winning; making the leviathan stand down by threatening to not reveal who its creator is if it doesn't.
- "The Devil and Daniel Webster".
- In the backstory of David Eddings' The Belgariad, the prophet Gorim managed to shanghai UL, the Father of all the Gods. Initially, UL was not a part of creation, and abstained while his sons (also Gods) created the world. After all of the Gods had chosen a race of humans that pleased them as their chosen people, there were some humans left over, the Godless Ones, who languished without a God. One among them, Gorim, managed to find UL and shame him into becoming their God (and also the God of all monsters, those creatures who were imperfect because UL did not participate in their creation). Fairly impressive, overall.
- And he did it basically by sitting there and waiting. For several hundred years. The mention of it came at the time when Belgarath and his Master (One of those gods behind the creation scheme) were unable to find UL and his people. Belgarath wonders if he perhaps abandoned them again since the new Gorim was particularly irritating.
- Janus from Maledicte pulls this off against the goddess possessing his cross-dressing girlfriend, trapping said goddess inside her with a recursive paradox that made her incapable of ever trying to kill him.
- In the Uplift series, every scam Earth clan tries to pull on the ancient, Sufficiently Advanced Aliens backfires, until the very end of the series when they manage a doozy… accidentally, with a lie so ridiculous they never expected it to do more than buy them a few seconds.
- Even more impressively, what actually clinched the deal wasn't a deception at all, but the enemy misinterpreting a genuine offer of surrender.
- In The Lord of the Rings: Sauron the chess GRANDmaster of Middle-Earth was outwitted by the Kansas City Shuffle directing him away from Frodo. It helped that Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.
- Happens to an extent in The Silmarillion- specifically, the story of the Downfall of Númenor, where Sauron essentially manipulates Eru Ilúvatar into destroying the Númenórean empire for him. Also subverted in that Sauron only intended for the Valar to get involved, and the amount of power Ilúvatar was packing was enough to kill Sauron as well. Of course as anyone who's read The Lord of the Rings could tell you, Sauron came Back from the Dead, and at any rate it's impressive to set up a situation where God wipes out your enemies for you in a 'verse where God is both competent and good.
- It was implied that Númenórean dominion over the world had in the end become worse than Sauron's ever was, so Eru may simply have chosen lesser evil.
- In the second book of the Xanth series, Bink wonders if his magical talent of bizarre luck preventing him from ever being hurt by magic actually manipulated events so that the Source of All Magic the demon Xanth decided to play nice in the end and not destroy everything.
- In one Discworld novel, Cohen the Barbarian has to roll a 7 with one six-sided die. Naturally, being a Hero, he takes the most awesome method and cuts the die in two while it is spinning in the air, rolling a 7 and cheating Fate at the same time.
- Notably, he drew inspiration from an in-universe version of the Gordian knot story, which at the time his companions declared to be cheating (Cohen himself was a little more introspective about it). He must have reckoned there's no reason to play fair with gods, who aren't known for their tendency to do so.
- Another Discworld example, Granny Weatherwax once cheated Death at a card game. Then threatened him. Though he let her win, because he's just that kind of guy, and because Granny Weatherwax is no one to be trifled with.
- In one short story by Brian Jacques (yes, That one), a kid traded his soul so he could lie better, and ended up convincing the devil he's illiterate, voiding their soul contract, and got an angel to agree to come over to his house for cake - the latter implying he wasn't using his supernaturally-enhanced lying skills.
- In the Larry Niven short story "Convergent Series", a man deals with a demon he's semi-accidentally summoned by asking the demon to freeze time for a bit, then redrawing the summoning pentagram on the demon's belly, trapping the demon in a paradox. The mechanics of the summoning requires that the demon has to fit inside the pentagram, and because it's drawn on his belly, when he shrinks himself down to fit in the pentagram, the pentagram shrinks as well.
- In the Robert Bloch short story, "That Hellbound Train", features a protagonist who just barely manages to outwit Satan after trading his soul for a watch that can stop time. He goes through his entire life, never finding the perfect moment, and as he's dying the Devil tells him that he's given the same watch away dozens of times. As he rides the titular train, he realizes that a) everyone is partying like it's their last chance, because it is and b) Satan hasn't taken the watch yet!
- The Devil and Simon Flagg: A mathematician makes a bet that the devil can't answer one question. The devil tells him that paradox and Logic Bomb questions are forbidden, so the mathematician gives him a question that must have a yes or no answer: he asks him to either prove or disprove Fermat's Last Theorem.
- Fermat's Last Theorem was proven in 1995.
- On the other hand, because viewers generally aren't geniuses they tend to have Small Reference Pools. Whilst Fermat's Theorem is quite famous, many other complex mathematical questions are not. Some are sufficiently esoteric that even establishing whether they have a definite answer let alone working out what the answer would be might be impossible. Asking the Devil to prove or disprove P=NP might be a good start, but there are still things like the Millennium Prize problems which may be more than fiendishly difficult.
- In His Dark Materials, Mrs Coulter successfully lies to Metatron of all creatures, who is explicitly stated to be able to read her heart and/or mind, by manipulating his desire to be corporeal.
- The men of the city of Gibil do this to the gods all throughout the story of Between the Rivers by Harry Turtledove. The Crowning Moment Of Awesome came when Sharur performed a Fake Defector gambit to fool the enemy god Enimhursag, so that Enimhursag believed that Sharur was betraying his home city, Gibil, against their hated enemies, the city of Imhursag. And Sharur successfully deceived the god even though he had to invite Enimhursag read Sharur's mind to see if he was lying.
- Belisarius Series had several medieval Europeans able to outwit Link; a superrobot from millions of years in the future. Most notably Belisarius but also Damadora and Narses. Narses actually managed to deceive Link looking right in her face, in spite of the ability to otherwise tell when someone is lying to her.
- American Gods has Cthulhu scamming other Cthulhus - all the gods are being manipulated by Mr. Wednesday (Odin) and Mr. World (Loki). They convinced the old and new gods respectively that there wasn't enough belief to go around and that they should start a war with each other. Odin and Loki then arranged circumstances so they could draw power from the ensuing carnage by having Loki symbolically dedicate it to Odin beforehand, turning the bloodbath into a blood sacrifice.
- In the fairy tale "The Three Brothers" in Harry Potter, all three brothers are granted "gifts" from Death, who is actually already mad at them for using magic to stay alive. The first two request items of great power which lead to their downfall and Death collects them swiftly. The third brother, however, recognizes why Death is offering these favors and asks for an item that would make it so not even Death could find him. Death is forced to surrender his own invisibility cloak and the third brother leaves unmolested. He chooses to die at a very advanced age and "greets Death as an old friend."
- Many people outsmart genies in the Arabian Nights. One of the more memorable is also one of the simplest: a fisherman finds a genie trapped in a bottle who tells him to choose how he wishes to die. The fisherman just can't believe such a huge genie fit in a small bottle, and the genie is very proud and doesn't like hearing such a challenge to his powers, so he goes back in and the fisherman puts the lid back on. After that, the genie is much more helpful.
Live Action TV
- The Devil Went Down to Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band
- Though in that case, the Devil was beat fair and square. Johnny is just that good. The golden fiddle was exactly the agreed stake, no tricks.
- The Odyssey: Who has blinded you? 'Nobody'! 'Nobody' has blinded me! Of course, Odysseus promptly screws this scam up by boasting and basically telling the cyclops his name and address once he knows he's safe. Since the cyclops is Polyphemus, son of Poseidon, and Odysseus has to cross the sea to get home, this was what they call a bad move (the sea god makes the rest of Odysseus' journey a living hell, which is the reason for the rest of the story).
- Classical Mythology:
- Sisyphus pulled this off for a little while. He was punished for it, though.
- Hercules tricked Atlas (the Titan who held up the sky) in order to get the golden apples of the Hesperides (Atlas's daughters). The catch was, the Hesperides probably wouldn't have let Herc take the apples. So Herc made a deal with Atlas. If Atlas would collect the apples (he could pick them because he was the father of the Hesperides), Herc would hold up the sky while Atlas was fulfilling his part of the deal. Atlas agreed, but after collecting the apples, he refused to take the sky back. Herc basically said, "Okay, but just take the sky back for a bit so I can make my lion-skin cloak into a pad for my shoulders." Atlas took the sky back, and Herc walked away.
- This story is particularly notable because it was just about the only time Herc won using his wits alone rather than his strength or both together (several labors needed some forethought, planning, and lateral thinking, but also relied heavily on Heracles' prodigious strength).
- A lot of stories involving deals with the Devil have the Devil being tricked out of getting his side of the deal.
- Jack of the Jack O'Lantern tale in Irish folklore also scammed the Devil. He got the Devil to agree not to take his soul after scamming him twice. When he died, though, he was too wicked for Heaven and the Devil upheld his bargain not to claim his soul. The Devil gave him a glowing coal and wished him the best roaming the Earth. Jack later put the coal in a turnip he carved out and created his lantern.
- There's a story about little girl sold her soul to the devil for a pail of milk that she spilled. When the devil came to collect she ripped the SOLE off of her shoe, gave it to the devil, then continued skipping along, oblivious to what she just achieved while the devil just stood there dumbfounded at having been tricked by a 7-year-old.
- Many indigenous American trickster figures fall for their own tricks. Of course, it was likely what they wanted to do all along.
- One Asian Indian story involves a princess tricking the lord of death into reviving her dead husband. When he agreed to grant her a wish for her bravery in following him to the end of the world, she wished for seven children of her own, then pointed out that she couldn't have children without her husband. She won.
- That Mitchell and Webb Sound has a skit in which the Devil shows up to claim a man's soul, and he complains that his life of wealth and success had felt rather hollow. Satan gloats that this is what makes it all the more satisfying, until the man reminds Satan that before signing the contract he had asked if he could keep it for a few days, and tells him that he had his lawyer add a clause that prevented the Devil claiming his soul in just such an eventuality which Satan had skimmed over, and furthermore criticizes Satan for running an antiquated operation that clearly hadn't adapted well to widespread literacy.
- In the Dungeons & Dragons optional sourcebook Tome of Magic, one of the vestiges (beings that exist outside of reality) was originally a prolific thief (possibly a kleptomaniac) who, upon his deathbed, renounced all of the theft he had done in life, thus effectively stealing his very soul out of the hands of Olidammara, deity of thieves as a way of proving himself the most worthy of the deity's devotion. Olidammara was pissed at first, but then realised the sheer audacity of his actions and was about to accept him with open arms (and minimal chance of pickpocketing) when the deity realised that accepting his soul in the afterlife would prevent his incredible theft. Since Olidammara didn't want the soul to go to anyone else, the thief's soul ended up outside of all known forms of reality; existing in no plane or identifiable location beyond 'nowhere'.
- It's a good thing the thief didn't try this in the Forgotten Realms setting, or he would wind up in the Wall of the Faithless. Not exactly a good trick. Then again, one of the example vestiges is from the Realms, so ending up as a vestige is probably a (not exactly desirable) way to dodge the Wall issue.
- A Dungeons and Dragons character class, the Malconvoker, specializes in summoning evil extraplanar creatures and tricking them into serving good causes. High-level Malconvokers acquire demon lords as their patrons who provide them with great power under the false impression that they're using that power to spread misery and destruction. In reality they're using it to slay monsters and bring down corrupt rulers, making the world a better place on the sly. Needless to say, a successful Malconvoker puts every skill point they can into Bluff...
- In ''Legend of the Five Rings, the big bad evil god, Fu Leng, fell to this at the hands of Naseru, who eventually became the Emperor. When Naseru and his siblings led a Big Damn Heroes moment in an attack on Fu Leng's stronghold in the Shadowlands to prevent him from taking over the heavens, while his uber-powered brothers and sister were slaying abominations left and right, Naseru, being a courtier, walked up to Daigotsu, leader of Fu Leng's forces in the material world, and began talking to him. The resulting conversation allowed Naseru to trick Fu Leng into temporarily withdrawing his dependence on Daigotsu, which gave the other gods and dead heroes enough time to take him down and send him back to hell.
- Eclipse Caste Solars in Exalted have a name for this trope: Tuesday.
- Marsday, actually.
- And Fiend Caste Infernals get one additional trick on top of this: they can renege on any promises they make to Eclipses or Moonshadows (the Abyssal mirror of the Eclipses) without suffering any penalties. Yes, that means they can scam the people who scam Cthulhu on a regular basis.
- Present at lower levels of the game, as well. Raksha are even mechanically rewarded for letting a mortal 'trick' them, since even defeat involves delicious delicious emotions — but a mortal who gets in the habit will discover that the Raksha don't do habits, and instead do omnom on souls.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Changeling: The Lost features an Entitlement known as the Legates of the Black Apple. When The Fair Folk come barging into the freehold, it's the job of the Legates to try to figure out what they want and how to get them to go away. Mind you, this doesn't necessary involve giving them exactly what they want, and negotiations can involve intimidation just as well as diplomacy. Mind you, being a member of the Entitlement is quite risky — you don't want to know what the Gentry did to the guy who preferred to use intimidation tactics once they found out his frailty.
- Probably the most clever of them all, Lillet Blan from Grim Grimoire tricks a very powerful demon into leaving the human it's possessing by asking for a wish from it at the cost of her soul, and then wishes for the demon to DEVOTE ITSELF TO GOD. Needless to say, the demon refuses... which sends it back to Hell.
- In fact, her plot is so impressive that the local would-be Magnificent Bastard Devil Advocat actually backs her on the deal.
- And to top it all off, that demon was summoned in order to get rid of what was the Big Bad until then. Lillet successfully wishploded two being way out of even her league.
- While not supernatural beings per se, the Scrin from Command & Conquer are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens with psychic powers and access to exotic, Tiberium-powered technologies. They are led to believe by Kane that the civilisation on Earth has collapsed and that Earth is ripe for Tiberium mining. Not so much. By the time the Scrin realise they've been suckered to landing on Earth, they are already having their asses handed to them by Nod and GDI alike (and the two won't even stop fighting each other to fight the Scrin).
- Except, it's pretty clear that the Scrin are not the Cthulhu here. It's Kane. Even the Scrin have no idea what he is. And the fact that he hasn't aged since the 40s...
- The plot of Marvel Ultimate Alliance is essentially Dr. Doom making a Chain of Deals that winds up suckering or screwing over most of the other villains in the universe, including gods like Loki, Mephisto, and Odin.
- This is the goal of The Emperor in Dissidia: Final Fantasy, who plans on living forever and manipulating the gods themselves to become something more than them.
- In Ever17, the whole point of You'haru and Kaburaki's gambit is to trick a 4D being called Blick Winkel into believing that the events of 2017 and 2034 are one and the same. The clincher? It was Blick Winkel himself who set up the whole gambit to do that.
- In the Dragon Age series, the player can make deals with demons and then back out of them once the demon's brought up their end, often with no consequences worse than having to fight them (which is usually what refusing to deal leads to anyway). In one particularly noteworthy case, you can even trick a demon into teaching you powerful Blood Magic... And then use said Blood Magic to kill the demon.
- Said noteworthy case is more of an inversion: the Mage Warden was already a prodigy by his own kind's standard before he even became grey warden and the demon possessing Connor is the one who's desperately trying to scam its way out of a direct confrontation.
- Another notable case occurs in Act 1 of Dragon Age II, when Hawke can convince an ancient demon to lead you to both the exit back to the Deep Roads, in exchange for defeating an ancient rock wraith. It turns out, the wraith was sitting on a sizable treasure hoard, enough to restore family fortunes twice over. Varric's preferred response? Renege on your deal, kill the demon, and walk away, filthy rich.
- Happens in the The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings during the first act. Geralt comes across a pair of former soldiers who were apart of the events directly responsible for an insane asylum burning down and becoming haunted by the spirits of the people burned alive and the enemy soldier that was tortured and killed. One of the ways he can resolve the issue is by collecting pig or monster eyes and hearts, and offering them to the Wraith to sate his desire for vengeance. However, he gets the Wraith to remove the curse before handing over his fake parts, which he promptly sees through now that he has them in his grasp and attack Geralt. Of course, Geralt is a genetically engineered mutant who's trained to kill monsters and spectres, and promptly puts him down.
- You, The Dragonborn, can scam multiple demons in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Daedric quests typically end with the player character pledging their soul after death to that Daedric Prince, then the demon bestows a unique artifact for the Dovahkiin to use. The scam comes when this results in multiple of said Daedric Princes believing they will gain your soul when you die, while you get to keep all of their nifty stuff. In the end, it's likely none of the Princes will gain your soul, since it's Akatosh who was the one who bestowed Dragon Blood on the mortals (and therefore, you), so your soul belonged to him since your birth. And if you finished the main questline, Tsun promised you a place in Sovngarde regardless of race.
- There's also Sithis, who was one of the two gods that created the entire universe (Nirn, Oblivion, and the Void) simply by existing together. Its relatively likely that if Sithis cares at all, then its the one getting your soul (assuming, of course, you did the Brotherhood questline).
- Another example occurs in the in-game text Azura and the Box, where an old Dwemer philosopher manages to prove Azura, an all-knowing Daedra associated with the spheres of dire prophecy and petty revenge, wrong in front of live audience. Since he isn't a protagonist, this doesn't end well for him or any of the surrounding survivors.
- Ariane in RuneScape sort of pulls this off, but the Cthulhu scams her right back. Ariane has been working for years to try and master her visions of the future, which often come in association with pain. A caged demon in the Wizard's tower offers to interpret her visions of impending doom to the tower, but she must first offer a drop of her blood as fealty to Zamorak. Ariane makes the cut, the pain instantly triggering a vision of what the demon was about to say. Sweet! She doesn't need to actually offer the blood! She won, right? The demon responds by loudly thanking her for her offering, which leads to a Not What It Looks Like when the other wizards in the tower confuse her for a demon worshipper and kick her out of the tower.
- In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World Richter makes a deal with the demons of Niflheim - they give him the power to kill Ratatosk, whose lifeforce prevents demons from entering the mortal realm. Richter gets to satisfy his desire for revenge against Ratatosk while the demons get to cause chaos in the mortal realm. Except that, after killing Ratatosk, Richter plans on sacrificing himself to seal away the demons once again. It's implied that if the heroes hadn't talked him down, his plan would have succeeded.
- The Order of the Stick: This is Redcloak's ultimate goal, to harness the power of The Snarl and hold the world hostage so he can negotiate with the pantheon of gods to get a better deal for the race of Goblins in-universe, rather than just serving as sources of XP for adventurers.
- Also something of a Xanatos Gambit; if the plan fails and the universe is destroyed by The Snarl, then the gods will remake it - this time with the goblin deity The Dark One among their number, and he'll make sure the goblins don't get screwed again.
- 8-Bit Theater: Thief outsmarting Trickster God Raven.
- Chicanery begins with Pokey having just embezzled Giygas' $44,000,000 retirement fund.
- Ayanah in PAWN is implied to be doing this to Baalah, with unfortunate implications.
- In Sluggy Freelance Aylee comes up with a plan (and Zoë complements it) to trick some nigh-omnipotent Jerkass Genies into granting what seems like a worthless wish (making it rain the blood of the innocent), without them realizing that "the blood of the innocent" is exactly what Torg's Cool Sword needs to become a magical weapon that can kill just about anything, including, that's right, nigh-omnipotent Jerkass Genies.
- In a parody of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Torg outsmarts the pseudo-Literal Genie that's been interpreting people's wishes as "Turn in me into chocolate" (including someone who had merely screamed in terror rather than actually wishing) by wishing that he'd "Turn Torg Potter into chocolate." This results in the kid Torg was a body double for being turned to chocolate, allowing him to safely wish everyone back to normal. (Fortunately, the genie doesn't mess around with the remaining wishes)
- In XKCD, Mephistopheles encounters the E.U.L.A.
- In Homestuck, Terezi pulls this on the supernatural Doc Scratch in order to bait him into enacting her revenge on Vriska. Yes, Terezi managed to manipulate an omniscient being. She is simply the best there is.
- Dominic Deegan had to face The Beast in the Borders of Destruction and he managed to get a Destroyer to take care of The Beast.
- Later, he runs into the Beast again, and scares it away by pretending to possess the Destroyer's powers.
- Linkara pulled this one off in a big way against "The Entity" in his Electric Tale of Pikachu review.
- Spoony tells a story in his Counter Monkey series of a player's attempt to scam the Lady of Pain by purposefully antagonising her enough to get mazednote , trusting that his character's racial ability to automatically know the correct path out of any dungeon would help him. He was right! The exit? 100 million miles down that straight, featureless corridor.
- Similarly to the Metalocalypse example below, SCP-738 is an office chair and desk set that features a Deal with the Devil. After a few Red Shirts get tossed in, they send in a lawyer. Forty-one hours later, the lawyer collapsed from exhaustion, with no deal struck, despite 900 pages of a legal document being written. A note was found in the lawyer's pocket that read "Please come back any time. I haven't had this much fun in years."
- During the first episode of the Atum mini-arc in Vaguely Recalling JoJo, Telence T. D'Arby somehow got Double's soul off-screen, as her doll is seen in Telence's collection. Telence wouldn't last five seconds against an Eldritch Abomination like Double, so he probably used his words to get her to play video games with him.
- In Jackie Chan Adventures, Jade uses Exact Words to trick the Monkey King, the ultimate trickster, into pulling on Jackie's detached puppet leg (It Makes Sense in Context) returning him to puppet form (as Jade says, the spell required the Monkey King to pull Jackie's leg, but it didn't say it had to be attached at the time!).
- In Ultimate Spider-Man, Spidey manages to trick LOKI by playing to his ego, saying that unless he defeats Thor while the Thunder God is in his normal form, no one will respect him for it. As Loki undoes his Baleful Polymorph, Peter lampshades how he can't believe Loki fell for that!
- Gargoyles: Xanatos (of course) did this to Puck, when he chose Owen Burnett instead of a wish, forcing Puck to play human for the rest of Xanatos' life. note
- A Pet the Dog moment as well. Xanatos could have had any wish he wanted, but passed up a ticket to wealth or power to keep his faithful servant. This, incidentally, was done on purpose by Puck, who was curious about Xanatos's human nature and whether or not he would value companionship over power. Then again, Xanatos is 'never boring'
- In Metalocalypse, the boys encounter the Devil (well, the Blues Devil) and sell their souls to him for Blues talent. Except they negotiate it all the way down to little more than a $5 Hot Topic giftcard.
- Oddly, he appears to very reasonably refuse the contract at the time. It's only at the end of the episode that it's revealed that he agreed to these terms — presumably, he was just that impressed with someone actually managing to put one over on him.
- Eric Cartman does this LITERALLY in the South Park episodes Mysterion Rises and Coon vs. Coon and Friends as he actually scams Cthulhu into doing his bidding by acting sickening cute.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy's entire premise began with this trope.
- Vilgax did this to Eldritch Abomination Diagon in the finale of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Bonus points for Diagon being actually based on a Great Ancient One. Considering the Badass Decay he had been through in his previous appearance, this is generally considered by fans as the Crowning Moment Of Awesome that marks his Character Rerailment.
- In Regular Show, Skips accidentally kills Rigby for cheating in arm wrestling, he then challenges Death to an arm wrestling match for Rigby's soul. Skips wins by using the same trick Rigby used on him.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Discord gets to be on the receiving end of this when a heavily weakened Tirek promises him that he'll let Discord go back to the way he was before his Heel-Face Turn if he helps him drain all the ponies of their magic, which Discord happily accepts. When Tirek gets powerful enough, he then steals Discord's own power.
: Yeah. Some feller named Poseidon asked me to get him some ice water.
: I gave him some ice water. With the ice already melted!