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Deal With The Devil / Film

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  • The second half of Insomnia revolves mainly around this. An out-of-town detective pursuing a murderer in a quiet Alaskan town is blackmailed by the murderer into pinning the crime on someone else after the detective accidentally shoots his own police partner.
  • The Spawn movie is about a bargain with the devil which ends in the nearly total devastation of the former when the protagonist successfully uses his newly acquired powers against the one who gave them.
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  • In Santa's Slay, one of God's angels beats Santa, the son of Satan, and Santa must remain good for 1,000 years.
  • The Star Wars prequels have this with Anakin Skywalker and Chancellor Palpatine. Anakin's desire for Padmé Amidala's-life-spared-at-any-cost might not have been spelled out and Palpatine himself might not be the devil, but otherwise the trope is played straight. Palpatine told Anakin that Darth Plagueis was his master and that he could teach Anakin the technique Darth Plagueis used to extend the life of whomever he chose to effectively eternity. Even though Anakin effectively sold his soul to Palpatine to save Padmé from possible death, the deal failed for two reasons. 1. Anakin ended up contributing to the death of his own girlfriend, so he ultimately had no girlfriend to save. 2. In the books, Palpatine reveals in his thoughts that he had never learned the technique Darth Plagueis had, and Palpatine ended up having to resort to making clones and the Sith technique of transferring his soul into another body just to extend his own life. Turns out, that said technique for saving people's lives is all just a plain old lie. Yep, Anakin was effectively left with nothing as a result of the deal. George Lucas himself described Anakin as "a sad man who made a deal with the devil, and lost."
    • There's also Lando Calrissian's deal with Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. Lando really had no choice about it - the Dark Lord of the Sith showed up and would have destroyed Cloud City if he'd been refused. The Falcon and her crew would be betrayed and captured to draw in Luke Skywalker; Han Solo would be frozen in carbonite and handed off to Boba Fett, the rest of the crew would never leave Cloud City, and then The Empire would leave and ignore Lando's operation. Vader altered the deal, and eventually Lando did too.
    • And Return of the Jedi lampshades ("Strike me down. Then your journey to The Dark Side will be complete.") and subverts it. There's even an Alternative Character Interpretation where Luke and Vader planned how it would play out before they ever met Ol' Sidious, so Vader made a deal with Luke. But it's Star Wars, it plays with every mythology trope ever.
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  • The Short Film The Happiness Salesman has Karen offered the perfect destiny by a Salesman, but it becomes quite obvious that the Salesman is a servant of the devil when Karen finds out that the payment is her first-born child.
  • The Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? pays homage to the Tommy Johnson legend by including him as a character.
  • Tenacious D's movie, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, has Kage and Jables cutting a deal with Satan: if they win a rock off against him, he has to go back to Hell and pay their rent. If Satan wins, Kage has to go back to Hell with Satan and be his sex slave. They wind up beating him through a technicality: if Satan is ever "incomplete" (i.e. missing a part of himself, like a tooth or horn), a spell can be used to send him back automatically.
    • The rock-off is a parody of many other versions where the mortals can actually compete successfully against the Devil. They probably should have established who decides the winner ahead of time...
  • Both versions of the film Bedazzled — the original and the remake — concern a deal with the Devil in exchange for seven wishes. In the remake, the main character is eventually freed from the contract by making an unselfish wish. However, he could never collect the soul in the first place, since they belong to God. She was just mindscrewing the character. In the original, the Devil tells Stanley that he and God have a competition going on who could claim the most souls - toward the end he feels pity for Stanley and returns his soul, also figuring this will help put him in a good light so he could return to Heaven.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • The films features Davy Jones, a sort of Devil of the Sea. He makes deals with dead or dying sailors, offering them a 100 year postponement of death in return for serving on his crew. He also made a deal with Jack Sparrow, making him Captain of the Black Pearl for 13 years in return for his promise to serve. Sparrow manages to weasel his way out, almost. "Not even Jack Sparrow can best the Devil!" Although, as the writers' commentary points out, Davy Jones doesn't exactly win by the end, either.
    • Jack himself counts. "Spring me from this cell and I will take you to the Black Pearl and your bonnie lass." While he does deliver on his end, it was for his selfish benefit and he fully intended on selling Will out. For his part, Will becomes wrapped up in the world of pirates and has to fight and scrap just to earn a Bitter Sweet Ending.
  • The Godfather opens with an undertaker asking for Vito Corleone to avenge his brutalized daughter. Corleone criticizes the man for only visiting him when he has a favor to ask, and claims a debt in return, saying, "Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. Until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter's wedding day." The unspecified nature of the debt makes the undertaker nervous, but in the end, the undertaker is called upon to reconstruct the face of the Don's son, Sonny Corleone, who was savagely murdered. In the book, it's revealed that the Don usually limits himself to free services such as this, rather than more insidious favors.
  • Johnny Blaze sold his soul to Devil in Ghost Rider to get his foster father cured from his cancer. Unfortunately, he still dies (of a myserious stunt accident) and Johnny runs awya, eventually becoming the Rider when the Devil comes back. He makes a new deal; Johnny gets his soul back in exchange for a contract that hosts the souls of a thousand malevolent individuals. Johnny does complete his part of the deal and gets his soul back... but retains his Rider powers and promises to use them against the Devil. As for the souls, pretty much gone since he burned them all with the Penance Stare.
  • Towards the end of Phantom of the Paradise, we learn that Swan made a deal with the devil to stay youthful forever and to be a super-successful record producer. Swan's end of the deal is that he must record every day of his life on film and rewatch every reel every day - and the version of him on the film looks and sounds like he would at that age (Swan being a terribly vain man, this is torture to him). If the film is destroyed, then Swan will die. When the phantom learns this, he promptly sets all of the film on fire.
  • In Crossroads, young guitar virtuoso Eugene has to help old Robert Johnson sideman Willie escape his contract with the Devil, leading to an axe-off with Steve Vai.
  • In the Belgian horror film The Devil's Nightmare, the heroic priest barters with Satan to exchange his soul for all those killed in the events of the film. Though he signs a bloody contract, the devil gets what he wants in the end, letting none of them go.
  • The Wishmaster films are all about this trope. Not only does the Djinn take your soul in exchange for a wish (a condition he apparently is not obliged to disclose to you in advance) but he will always grant the wish in a "Monkey's Paw" form. What's more, he can close the deal if you merely speak a wish out loud in his presence.
  • In The Devil and Daniel Webster, a good but rather dumb and weak man makes a deal with the devil. He gets the money he needs for his farm (and way more,) and in seven years the devil will claim his soul. The man agrees after the devil assures him that "souls are not important." After seven years he's had a son (and neglected him), got a servant that acted as his mistress, hired his former friends and taken advantage of them, and become a Jerkass while still being the dumbest man on earth. Later, Daniel Webster comes and manages to let him weasel out of the deal.
  • Freddy began his horror career with one of these according to Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, offered his powers and immortality by a trio of "dream demons" who choose a human villain as their Psycho for Hire every thousand years. If they had any plan to betray him, it must've been scheduled for after he'd already brought about The End of the World as We Know It: as it is, the price he seems to have paid for his deal is that whatever shred of goodness he had as a human went completely out the window.
    • The Dream Demons eventually declare that You Have Failed Me in the Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash comic, after the heroes thwart Freddy's latest plan. They strip him of his powers, allowing Ash to shoot him in the chest and knock him into a portal opened by the Necronomicon.
  • While not a literal example, the plot to Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave has been described thus.
  • This is the basic premise of Stay Tuned, in which a TV-addicted family man unknowingly sells his soul for a new satellite television setup with 666 channels.
  • Several people sell their souls to Satan in The Undead (1957).
  • The title character's parents in The Haunting of Molly Hartley made this in order to prevent her from dying (she had been born prematurely). In return, on Molly's 18th birthday, a Satanic cult will come to claim her as one of their own.
  • Accepting the Mark of the Beast in the Apocalypse film series is played out like this, with the benefits of its recipients experiencing miracles such as the blind woman in Revelation receiving her sight, the wheelchair-bound man in the same movie being able to walk, and the one-armed man in the hospital in Tribulation receiving his right arm again. There's also the Blessed with Suck element of having limited telepathic and telekinetic powers, as featured in Tribulation.
  • Played straight in Oh, God! You Devil, with God and Satan (both played by George Burns) battling for the soul of a struggling musician.
  • Little Nicky: Dan Marino tries to make a Deal With The Devil to win a Super Bowl. The Devil declines, on the basis that he's too nice (and one other reason...)
    Marino: You did it for Namath!
    Satan: Yeah, but Joe was coming here anyways.
    Nicky: You're a good Devil, Dad.
    Satan: And I also happen to be a Jets fan.
  • The entire premise of the Disney Channel Original Movie HE Double Hockey Sticks (starring Will Friedle). Griffelkin approaches star hockey player and jerk Dave with a deal to win the Stanley Cup. Naturally, Dave gets quickly screwed by the Devil, Griff's superior, thanks to the use of Exact Words in the contract (the contract only promises his team will win the Stanley Cup, not him, so Mrs. B transfers him to the worst team in the league). This also provides a loophole for Dave to get out of the contract (by training his dead-last team to beat his former team, thus nullifying the contract).
  • Little Shop of Horrors has the devil in the form of an unusual carnivorous plant that feeds on blood. The little nerdy guy who discovers it, Seymour, is promised fame and fortune if he keeps feeding the plant; this does come, just from people who think he's an amazing gardener and who want to examine his plant. He first sacrifices an Asshole Victim (his would-be girlfriend's abusive boyfriend) to the plant, then the shop owner Mr. Mushnik when Mushnik turns on him. The plant grows to immense size and tries to devour Audrey; Seymour gets devoured as well in most versions except for the one time the movie has a happy ending, with him electrocuting and destroying the plant.
  • Disney Channel Original Movie The Luck of the Irish involves the protagonist Kyle Johnson making a deal with a far darrig named Seamus that whoever won a series of games would get the lucky gold coin, and Seamus would have to forever go to Erie, the shores of [Kyle's] forefathers. Seamus thinks that Kyle is mispronouncing Eire, a nickname for Ireland; but Kyle's paternal family is from Ohio which borders Lake Erie.
  • The movie Demon Knight has The Collector, a mid level demon, trying to acquire a rare artifact that will bring about the end of the universe. The only way he can get inside the house where the artifact resides is by tempting everyone inside with their various fantasies. In the end, whoever accepts the fantasy or (in one case) tries to turn traitor to the group by just handing it over, doesn't receive what The Collector promised them and just turns into another low level demon.
  • In Star Trek: First Contact, this is subverted. Data takes the Borg Queen's offer and merely becomes a Fake Defector.
  • In End of Days, Jericho's best friend is strong-armed into serving Satan after Satan sets him on fire. Near the end of the film, Jericho begs his friend to not betray him again, saying that he's better than that. The moment he lowers his gun, Satan reminds him that they had a deal, and he sets him on fire again.
  • In the film version of the Hellblazer comic above, Constantine, the titular character kills himself a second time to summon Lucifer to claim his soul. But while talking, Constantine reveals the plan of Big Bad, which screws with Lucifer's plans. So Lucifer stops it easily. Annoyed he is in debt to Constantine, he is the one starting the deal and offers him more life. Constantine would like instead the soul of a woman who committed suicide free to be in heaven. An easy bargain and Lucifer smiles but soon realizes Constantine is rising to heaven as he died to save the world and sought no personal gain as a reward. He even sacrificed his chance at life for the sake of another person's freedom. So, he cures Constantine's cancer and wrist wounds, forcing him to live. Oh, and when rising, Constantine, or maybe God controlling the hand, flips off the Devil. In response, the Devil heals not only John's cut wrists, but the cancer plaguing his lungs so he may live long enough to sin and prove himself worthy of Hell.
  • In Angel Heart, Johnny Favorite selling his soul for stardom and then trying to get out of it by sacrificing an innocent man caused the whole plot.
  • The Hellraiser series has lots of people make deals with the Cenobites, in search of the ultimate pleasure. But the Cenobites being the Cenobites, the pleasure they often give those who use the Lament Configuration is not the kind of pleasure they actually want. However, they are possible to be bargained with;
    • In the first Hellraiser, Kirsty manages to stall for time after accidentally summoning the Cenobites with the Lament Configuration by offering them the soul of a different person who had previously escaped from their realm. By the end, when they have collected on him, they pursue Kirsty anyway, but she manages to reverse the summoning ritual in time.
    • Hellraiser: Judgement: The Preceptor tries to bargain for his soul with Pinhead by offering the lives of two other sinners guilty of adultery after forcing them at gunpoint to use the Lament Configuration. However, this is defied since Pinhead can't accept the offer, given that a different faction in Hell wants to recollect him and Pinhead is just assisting them as a favor.
  • Harrison promises Thomas Harewood he can save the man's comatose daughter in the opening of Star Trek Into Darkness. In exchange, Thomas blows up a Starfleet facility shortly after messaging a confession for the bombing (with credit to Harrison) to Admiral Marcus.
  • The plot of Evilspeak: Stanley Coopersmith finds the old works of a 16th century Satanist and discovers how to pledge his allegiance to Satan.
  • Hinted at in The Shining during the bar scene. Jack says he'd give his soul for a drink, cue creepy bartender appearing with a full stock of booze.
  • As Erik in The Phantom of the Opera (1989) watches Faust at the opera, he has a flashback that shows that he sold his soul to the Devil so that his music would become immortal like Mozart's and Beethoven's.
  • Cyclops in Monster Brawl became what he is now by making a deal with Hades 3000 years ago; he gave one of his eyes for be able to see the future. The result was less than he desired, an he seeks vengeance against him.
  • In Dead in Tombstone, Guerrero makes a deal with Satan. If he can send the souls of the six gang members who murdered to Hell within 24 hours, Satan will return him to life. If he fails, his torments will be a thousandfold.
  • Highway 61 gives us Mr. Skin, who goes around collecting souls in exchange for favours.
  • Dracula Untold:
    • The Elder Vampire's ritual gave Vlad incredible power but at the price of his humanity by turning him into a vampire.
    • The Elder Vampire got his powers from an actual demon, according to himself and a history book Vlad had in his library.
  • Space Is the Place: Sun Ra plays a card game with a man called "The Overseer" to decide the fate of the black race. It is implied he is some kind of a demon character, because when they begin playing the game the 1940s jazz club suddenly changes setting to a desert where both of them are seated at a table.
  • In I Was A Teenage Faust Dave is a young high school desperate for popularity in order to get close to the new hot girl Twyla. He signs a deal, not realizing it would be his soul on the line. When his dealer, Mr. Five, comes to collect Dave uses the fact he knows Twyla was a girl who made a similar deal for popularity to save themselves. In what Mr. Five thinks is revenge, Dave asks him to change Twyla back to her old bodily proportions, making her a really tall girl. This voids her contract and in retribution, her dealer burns the contracts Mr. Five collected during the movie, saving Dave and his friend.
  • In Dogma, a muse claims to be personally responsible for 19 of the top 20 grossing films of all time. Except for Home Alone. Or, rather, "The one about the kid by himself in his house, burglars are trying to come in and he fights them off?" "(Aahhh!)" She had nothing to do with that one. "Somebody sold their soul to Satan to get the grosses up on that piece of shit."
  • The Windmill Massacre: According the legend, Miller Hendrik sold his soul to Devil so that the vanes of his windmill would turn no matter what the wind was doing.
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: Parnassus makes bets with Mr. Nick, but the Devil (says he) enjoys the game more than the reward.
  • Dead Birds: Hollister made one to try and resurrect his wife, sacrificing his own slaves to some entity from another realm. All it did was turn his children into demons. He lured the robbers out to his house with the intention of killing them.
  • Ready or Not (2019): The founder of the Le Domas family made a deal with a figure named Mr. Le Bail (an anagram for Belial, another name for Satan). In exchange for success in building the family's gaming empire and the resulting wealth, every time someone new marries into the family they must play a randomly selected game in order to be initiated. And if the game is Hide or Seek, the initiate must be hunted and upon capture be ritualistically sacrificed before dawn. When the protagonist, Grace, manages to survive until dawn, Belial punishes the family by killing them all.


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