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Deal with the Devil

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"Sign here, and here. Oh, don't worry about that, the soul consumption clause is never exercised."
"History has proven a thousand times that no man has ever gained from a bargain with The Dark, yet cowards and fools continue to try, and The Dark never turns them away."
The Mayor, Myth: The Fallen Lords

You know how it works. Want to be a billionaire, Take Over the World, gain infinite power, or just get back at that obnoxious Jerk Jock? Well, mosey on down to those crossroads and Mr. S will guarantee your wildest dreams, if you just sign on the dotted line with your own blood. This trope doesn't even require the Abrahamic Devil; any trickster, demon, or evil deity roughly equivalent to Satan can be used. It reached its current version in the 16th-century legend of Faust selling his soul to Mephistopheles (who technically isn't quite exactly Satan, but still a high-ranking demon). The basic story is far, far older, however, with Sanskrit and Sumerian tales of craftsmen making deals with demons for superlative skill, making this Older Than Dirt.

This trope includes both literal Magically Binding Contracts with a literal devil, and crooked deals between any corrupt exploiter (the Mephistopheles role) and a desperate pawn (the Faust role). The exploiter can be offering anything from some shiny new Applied Phlebotinum to making a high school nerd popular, to saving your life moments before death. Sometimes it has no practical value whatsoever. But whatever the service, whatever the offer, there is always a price. This price can be anything — the Faust's soul, their conscience, their firstborn, their loved ones, their voice, their eternal servitude, or even something that seems completely innocent — but whatever the price, it's something that will render the Faust a lot worse off when it is paid, if not bring them to complete ruin.

Note that actual devils will always follow through with their end, even if their end is a sinister bastardization of the terms. Thus always remember to Read the Fine Print and have an experience in law with you if you try to do this. We never see Mephistopheles simply take the soul and run like an amateur scammer; he gave his word, narrated the fine print, put his name on the dotted line and made the wish come true. As icing on the cake, the Mephistopheles sometimes makes sure or just shows in reality that the gift is, in itself, detrimental to the life of the Faust and others around him in the first place — especially if there's a chance at irony, where lacking their "soul", the element they gave up as payment, ultimately makes the gift worthless. The character who offers the deal is often, though not always, The Corrupter (and not all Corrupters use this as a tactic).

An alternate form is a deal where the Mephistopheles offers the Faust exactly what he wants, if not more, but to get it, he has to undergo an Impossible Task that Mephistopheles obviously does not think the Faust can complete, with the Faust's soul as the penalty if he fails. In such occasions they can escape the Devil's trap. Alternately, the deal truly has no strings attached, as it's a Xanatos Gambit where the Faust's good fortune or success will deliver the soul of another to Mephistopheles. Finally, there's a form of this in the case of villains that make a deal with the devil for supernatural power, which often involves the villain doing something truly heinous for the devil in question in order to earn their favor. Magic gained in this fashion is very often Black Magic by definition.

Whether God or the equivalent would be interested in a soul that someone has gambled is the Elephant in the Living Room.

Deal With The Devil plots can overlap with Idiot Ball, as smart and rational people know to stay well the hell away from deals like these. Some writers try to defend the Faust by turning the deal into a Leonine Contract - either the deal was made when the Faust was in desperate straits or under some kind of duress, or the Mephistopheles made the offer when the victim had no time to think (e.g., offering to save him from the Death Trap in return for something nasty). Others make the contract so long, complex and filled with Latin-esque legal jargon that no one will Read the Fine Print (Sloth is a very undervalued sin). Also expect Exact Words and You Didn't Ask to be employed against the Faust. Don't be surprised if the Devil pulls out a Comically Wordy Contract. May result in a Balking Summoned Spirit if they feel the task unworthy of them.

If you should find yourself suckered into a Deal With The Devil, The Power of Love may be your best bet at defeating the infernal contract. Or you can try your luck (literally) with a Jury of the Damned. Some Guile Heroes can make it into a Meaningless Villain Victory. With enough power, a Faustian Rebellion is possible.

Common solutions (which often cause a Wishplosion) are:

  1. Ask the devil for something he can't do (like worship God) or that destroys him, which makes the entire deal pointless.
  2. Make a Logic Bomb, infinite loop, Loophole Abuse, etc. For example, if the devil asks to give him your soul after death, you can wish for immortality. In the case of immortality, however, beware — a truly crafty devil might pull a Jackass Genie on you, either by conveniently forgetting about the "eternal youth" part or by turning you into an undead abomination. It may also turn into a case of Who Wants to Live Forever?, even without the devil's manipulations.
  3. It may be possible to gain enough power through the deal to prevent the devil from forcing you to keep your promise—or just kill him. See Faustian Rebellion.
  4. Use your new power to annoy the underworld so much that your deal gets nullified simply to get rid of you.
  5. Conversely, impress or entertain the devil so much that taking your soul would seem like a waste.
  6. If the contract was written, destroy the physical scroll or other material that the contract was written on. Depending on the material and the devil's magic, this may not be as easy as it sounds, and then there's the problem of actually wresting the contract from the devil in the first place.
  7. If the wish is already wasted, then someone else is required to fight fire with fire by engaging into a new contract and defeating the devil.
  8. In comical versions, if the devil is female — usually some apprentice demon who always fails — of course she will be insanely sexy or cute (according to Evil Is Cool, Hot as Hell and Cute Monster Girl rule), so why not ask her to become your girlfriend or wife? Of course, Most Writers Are Male, so it's extremely rare to see a female protagonist do this with a male devil.
  9. Seem a little too anxious to sell your soul. (See the Frank Zappa example below)
  10. Turn to religion. While rarely used in fiction due to it being too quick a solution, there are many cases when a saint or mystic claimed they (or someone they knew) sold their soul to the devil and were saved by Jesus or the Virgin Mary. In these cases, you merely consecrate yourself to him; the demon only literally gets the soul after death.
  11. Prove you'd already sold or given your soul to someone else, a la Homer Simpson and Mr. Krabs.
  12. Manipulate some tiny, arcane loophole or hire some Rules Lawyer to render the contract null and void. (Rarely successful, as Hell is full of lawyers after all. Then again, The Devil Is a Loser, so outsmarting him is not impossible.)
  13. Use the power you gain from the contract to change the entire system, sometimes even retroactively.
  14. Use one of the wishes, usually the last one, for a completely self-less wish. There can be no benefit, at all, to the wisher, and usually the wishee can't have even known about the wish.

Of course, the devil has been in this business since day seven. Therefore, the only way the villain of the piece can expect to get out of the "accounts receivable" column is by getting moved into the "owner's equity" column. Otherwise, expect the villain to get Dragged Off to Hell upon their defeat or death.

What exactly the Supernatural party does with all the souls they buy may or may not be elaborated on.

Power at a Price is the supertrope. Devil's Job Offer and Sold His Soul for a Donut are subtropes.

Compare Bargain with Heaven, which this trope originated as an Inversion of, but which is largely forgotten in the mainstream, but still very much in use in some contexts. Compare also Reasoning with God. For the occasions when the Devil comes out behind, see Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?. See also Evil Is Not a Toy, which this trope overlaps with. These types of deals are often Rash Promises, if the characters involved swear to honor their bargain without actually thinking through what they're doing. In modern media, it isn't unfounded for an Eldritch Abomination to have a Religion of Evil that somehow taps into the powers of the resident abomination in exchange for their sanity or permanent loyalty often to the detriment of those who follow it. It's also possible one person finds a way to communicate with it, gaining a Lovecraftian Superpower for agreeing to some unknown bargain. Because such beings are designed to make humans Go Mad from the Revelation, often the purpose of the contract for the abomination barely makes sense to humans, but somehow this does benefit the abomination in ways that cannot be understood, and will have damage that cannot be undone.

The following have their own pages:

Example subpages:

Other examples

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  • In a Mercedes-Benz Super Bowl ad, the protagonist is willing to sell his soul for a fancy car, thanks in part to his imagined future with it. He breaks off the deal when he spots the car's (relatively) low price on a billboard.
  • A Cadbury ad has two representatives of candy companies bidding on the Caramilk secret. Each offers more money than the other, then one says in desperation that he'll pay "anything." The person with the secret leans forward. "Anything?"

    Audio Plays 
  • Adventures in Odyssey: Dr. Regis Blackgaard, as it turns out, made one of these when he was injected with a deadly virus, selling his soul to save his life. Before he did so, he was a well-intentioned MI6 agent, but the loss of his soul effectively turned him into a moustache-twirling supervillain. Also, as it turns out, the deal only slowed down the virus and it's eventually going to kill him, and as a result, he's desperate to find a way to escape his death.

    Comic Books 
  • And Then Emily Was Gone: Bonnie Shaw (the bogeyman) is called when a parent makes a deal in exchange for their child. Emily's mother made a deal to get rid of her husband's sickness.
  • Angel & Faith: In issues #10 and #11, two of Giles' spoiled and snobbish aunts come to Angel and Faith for help. They made deals with several demons in exchange for eternal youth, beauty, perfect health, etc. As the demons come out of the woodwork looking to collect on their bargains, Angel and Faith slay them one by one, with the aunts refusing to lift a finger to help. One of the demons says that the aunts bargained a kiss for his gift, so Angel and Faith let him pass. As the demon forcefully French-kisses the complaining aunts, the next demon that comes calls a truce and says he will leave satisfied if Angel and Faith let him watch.
  • Archie Comics:
    • One story has Jughead discovering a Diner On The Hill That Wasn't There Yesterday (Heck, nobody's sure if the hill was there either!). Inside, the only waitress, Darlene, offers the house special, a... well, put bluntly it's like a Dagwood Sandwich made with pizzas instead of bread and topped with cheeseburgers, but in exchange Jughead must give up his most important aspect- his metabolism! Confused, Jug nonetheless goes along with it. However, a Big Eater lifestyle minus the needed metabolism causes Jughead to bloat up very quickly. Archie learns about the trade and gives up his pure heart to get the metabolism back. But without his pure heart, Archie is just another womanizing boy. Betty and Veronica decide to go after the pure heart and give up their compassion and status, respectively, but because Veronica's status came from her father's fortune, this causes the Lodge family to go broke, and without her compassion Betty becomes a female Reggie. To add salt to the wound, Darlene is a con artist who didn't really give anything up. With the help of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Jughead is able to set things right by forcing Darlene to take on the pure heart and compassion, making Darlene nice enough to push the Reset Button. (Well, not quite- Jughead has to work off the weight he put on). There's also a Running Gag about the gang assuming Darlene wanted their souls, followed by an Imagine Spot of said soul annoying Darlene somehow. When the girls do this, Darlene, she shouts, "What is it with you kids and souls!?"
    • Issue 75 of Betty and Veronica has Betty making a deal with "Mr Inferno" (who has an angular Nonstandard Character Design) to get Archie's heart. As it turns out, Veronica also made a deal with him. When the two get pissed at him, he calls off the deal and goes back to Hell.
  • A teenage boy summons the eponymous demonic rock group to make a deal for wealth and and power (but ultimately ends up settling for a blowjob) in the Cherry Comics story "Bimbos from Hell".
  • Birthright: Mikey Rhodes agreed to serve God King Lore after he failed to defeat him. Lore sealed the deal by attaching a Nevermind (a malevolent spirit that is an extension of his own will) to Mikey's soul. The Nevermind gives Mikey advice and grants him power while they serve Lore, but it also enforces Lore's will. Removing it isn't really an option either, since being bonded to Mikey's soul also made it necessary for Mikey to survive. If it goes, Mikey goes with it.
  • Black Science: Doxta is happy to bargain with those who approach, sometimes by offering to give them back something she just took in exchange for some greater sacrifice. It's implied she's amused by the suffering endured as her victims live out their lives knowing what they've lost.
  • Chicago Typewriter:
    • Hades provides the underworld's denizens with a safe haven, and has bindings to prevent him from interfering with their business. In return, he is protected from police, gangsters and demons.
    • Remì Geroux provides human souls to demons in return for power and wealth.
  • Chick Tracts: Jack Chick has used this motif several different times, notably in "Angels?," "The Contract", and "It's A Deal." This is arguably a subversion, since the point of these tracts is to contend that Jesus could save you even from one of those contracts if you have the requisite faith. (And if you don't have faith in Jesus, the devil gets you whether you sign a contract or not.)
    • "The Contract" is almost certainly intended as a Deconstruction of The Devil and Daniel Webster, while "Angels" is an over-the-top Take That! to rock music. It's not clear whether Jack Chick really believes Satan has ever showed up in person and tried to buy anyone's soul, though he's willing to work with the idea as a hypothetical situation in his stories.
    • Given that the contract actually makes zero difference in whether the devil gets your soul, it's not clear why he goes around making these offers anyway. Possibly to trap people in despair (because they think the contract is unbreakable), or maybe just For the Evulz.
      • "The Contract" does hint at another potential reason near the end: such a contract can be useful as a False Reassurance to any friends and associates of the signer who didn't make any deals with the devil. It certainly served up a nasty Twist Ending for Bob Goode:
      Bob Goode: But the contract! ...I didn't have a contract with you! You can't get my soul!
      B. Fox: You fool! ...I don't need a contract! I've got everyone anyway.
  • Creepy:
    • In "The Cool Jazz Ghoul" in Creepy #34 a jazz musician whose day job is at a funeral parlor offers his soul in exchange for enough money to start his own jazz club - then slips the devil's human form some wine laced with embalming fluid and sells the body to a circus.
    • In "Gunsmoke Charly" in Creepy #35 a gunslinger wannabe sells his soul to the devil in exchange for invulnerability to bullets. Eventually the guilt and paranoia get to him.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: One Donald Duck story has him going to the Deep South to become a folk singer after hearing a story about an ancestor of his was one and saved a town from a family of hillbillies who made one of these and takes the nephews along, on the way they meet a Big Fun Pig Man tax collector who hitches a ride because he's going to the same town and loves Donalds horrible singing voice. When they arrive it turns out that the hillbillies from the story are still around and Donald briefly has a Heroic BSoD after hearing a recording of his voice and realizes both he and his ancestor were both sounded horrible although he recovers when he realizes his singing really does act like a Kryptonite Factor for the hillbillies and their monsters. Later they find out that the tax collector managed to beat the hillbillies offpanel after Donald drove them back and after he leaves they realize the truth: the "tax collector" was the devil come to collect the hillbilies souls and the reason why Donald's and his ancestors voice acts like a Kryptonite Factor for the monsters is because he likes their singing so much he added that into the contract.
  • Dylan Dog: The comic has multiple examples with different devils and supernatural entities, who grant the wish in different manners but always demand a soul in exchange:
    • "Baba Yaga" is centered about two such deals made by the same person. Said person was terminally ill and stole from a gangster so his family could live well after he died, and the gangster in retaliation killed his family after he told him why he had done so. To have his revenge, the man sold his soul a devil so the gangster and his men would die before him... And then the devil tells him he'll kill them right before he dies, so he won't be able to see them dying and enjoy his revenge. Furious, the man makes another deal, offering his soul to Baba Yaga in exchange for their death. Yaga teleports him to where he can enjoy the show and then blows them up in a way that sets them on fire immediately... And the devil shows up because the man had sold the soul to him first, and refuses to let him die (and thus let Yaga claim his soul) until he can take said soul.
    • In another occasion Dylan was hired by a man who had sold his soul in exchange for being cured of his stutter... Except the devil had failed to deliver, so he wanted Dylan to go to that devil's London office and force him to void the deal. After accepting that the man was not a madman (and thus not trying to get him interned), Dylan went to the devil's office and found that the devil was more than willing to void the contract if his powers had failed to cure his stutter, only to find out the hard way the man had slipped a clause that made him the new devil if the contract was voided and had been faking not losing his stutter. That devil lived just long enough to tell Dylan he had got the job in pretty much the same way.
  • Empowered: Sistah Spooky's backstory is a subversion. The deal she cut when she was her high school's Butt-Monkey was only for beauty, but her caseworker screwed up the paperwork and she got Fearsome Arcane Might as a bonus. (Her first plan was Bloody Vengeance on her Alpha Bitch tormentors, but the demon couldn't inflict harm on other clients of Hell — they'd all sold their souls for beauty already.)
    • This comes back to bite her in the ass in the most tragic way imaginable. Her initial refusal to give back the powers is played for laughs, but later on the demon approaches her again when she is already near the Despair Event Horizon (thanks to her ex-lover Mind***'s death and her own impending dismemberment by Deathmonger) and reveals that he got into a lot of trouble because she wouldn't give her powers back, but that it's okay now, because now he's going to spend eternity torturing and violating his new toy, Mind*** in the most sadistically horrific ways imaginable. Whether he was telling the truth or just trying to push her buttons, it was a rather cruel way of making the point that one does not casually flip off Cthulhu.
  • Fables: The main character of Jack of Fables has been selling his soul to a series of devils since he was in his twenties, originally to gain a physical body after being killed the first time and banned from the afterlife. He gains another hundred years of life every time he does it. It in of itself may have been unnecessary since popular fables like himself are pretty much immortal and tend to get new bodies or at least something similar takes their place eventually. He realizes too late that in the long run it is a bad deal because sooner or later he will run out of devils to deal with and things to offer while agreeing to suffer torments punishments each time. When they come to collect he is screwed.
  • Gen¹³: Heroine Caitlin Fairchild resolves a Brought Down to Normal storyline by making a deal with series villainess Ivana Baiul: restore her powers now, in exchange for performing one mission for Ivana sometime in the future. The plot hook is left alone until Adam Warren's run, where he has Ivana call in the favor for one issue — only to reveal that she'd been repeatedly using Fairchild on missions, only to erase her memory of the job, and of repaying her debt, every time.
  • Hack/Slash: A wannabe rocker named Jeffrey Brevard ("Six Sixx") sells his soul and the souls of his band to an entity he thinks is the Devil (it's not) in exchange for fame and fortune (and demonic powers). As a part of the deal he also has to supply his benefactor with virgins for... breeding purposes. Also, Elvis apparently got his talent from the same entity.
  • Hellblazer: John Constantine has a reputation of usually being able to get the upper hand in Infernal Contracts, earning him the irritation of Heaven and Hell. Most notably, he sold his soul to all three archdemons, meaning he can't die until they've resolved who actually gets it. Being archdemons, they aren't inclined to compromise, and the only alternative is open war between them - something they are very keen to avoid.
    • At some point, though, the First of the Fallen discovered that God had lied to him to keep a power balance in Hell, and he then destroyed his "brothers." However, he is later killed by Constantine's succubus buddy. Apparently, though, He got better.
    • Lucifer in the Hellblazer series plays this perfectly straight. He always tells the exact truth, always advises people seeking to making a deal with him that they need to think it over and be absolutely sure, and always holds true to the contract by giving the person exactly what they asked for. There are a lot of Oh, Crap! moments from people who make a deal with Lucifer, but they can't say they weren't warned. There just isn't any fine print.
    • In an early issue, the stock broker "Mammon Investments" has a contract which provides that if the client misses a commission payment, they forfeit "all intangibles in perpetuity". The clients' investments are always successful, but other things in their lives go wrong, causing them to miss a payment—at which point they find out that the "intangibles" they forfeit are their souls.
    • Hellblazer: Rise and Fall: It's revealed that Despondeo sells Lucifer's wings to wealthy business-people with a lot of sins on their souls in exchange for all of their earthly possessions, convincing them that they can simply fly over The Pearly Gates and into heaven with no resistance. While they get cast down by The Armies of Heaven to their deaths, Despondeo is free to destroy their business empires and feed off of the despair the socio-economic fallout it causes.
  • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi: In DC issue #2's "Dark Agent," the girls ditch their manager Kaz and sign a contract with a figure we assume is a variation of the devil making him their manager in exchange for their souls. The girls experience wealth and fame beyond their imaginations, but it becomes ennui after awhile and want out of the deal. Kaz shows up and is challenged to a duel with guitars for the girls.
  • Lori Lovecraft: In Lori Lovecraft: My Favorite Redhead, Natasha Reich and Dick Van Von make a deal with a demon: Natasha wanting fame and power, and Dick riches. Things go badly for them when they fail to deliver the second Human Sacrifice.
  • Lost at Sea: Raleigh believes that her mother sold Raleigh's soul to The Devil in exchange for career success and that The Devil placed her soul inside a cat.
  • Misty: Many a heroine of one story would make one of these, for various reasons.
  • Nikolai Dante: The trope is referenced when Akita Sagawa hires Nikolai to help apprehend Katarina. Nikolai turns the tables, taking out the Yakuza air force that was going to destroy Katarina's pirates and 'accidentally' kill him.
    Murakami: We made a deal...
    Nikolai: You'd be better off dealing with the devil.
  • Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja : After Sgt. Levin was dying of a chest wound, she is instantly healed by Psychopathic Manchild Reality Warper Alfie O'Meagan after she agrees to perform a favor for him in the future.
  • Rebel Dead Revenge: Satan transforms ugly pariah Jezebeau into a beautiful woman. In return, she becomes his slave.
  • The Sandman: This trope gets a real workout in many different forms. Morpheus makes several deals over the course of the comic, in each case giving people almost exactly what they asked for in return for a seemingly negligible gain to himself — but what the humans get out it of inevitably turns out to be a heavy cost in and by itself.
    • Morpheus made a deal with William Shakespeare, appropriately after he overheard a conversation between the young actor and Christopher Marlowe about Faustus: in return for bringing out Shakespeare's own latent creativity, Will would write two plays centering around dreams. The first of these is performed for The Fair Folk (A Midsummer Night's Dream) as something of a gift from Morpheus to Titania. At first glance it seems like a real bargain. However, the last panel of the story implies that the Fae queen Titania's interest in Shakespeare's son Hamnet lead to the boy's death soon after the play was performed for the Fae. The second play is The Tempest, written just before Shakespeare died, and is implied in the comic to be about Morpheus himself. After Shakespeare delivers the second play, Morpheus even tells Will what his life would have been like if he had never made the deal.
      Morpheus: You would have written a handful of other plays, in quality no better than, say, The Merrye Devil of Edmonton, and then you would have come home to Stratford. You would have taught school, saved a little money. You would have bought a house, let it out, and bought another. You would have made your money in bricks and mortar — enough for your family's coat of arms, enough to make them forget your father's setbacks. You would not have been satisfied with your life; and, from time to time, you would have bored your children with the tales of your years in London, your days on the stage.
      William: And my boy Hamnet. Would he have lived? ...No. Do not tell me. I have already heard too much.
    • Dream and his sister Death also make a deal with one Robert "Hob" Gadling — Death will not touch him unless he truly desires it. However, the 'payment' that Dream gets from it isn't anything more substantial than fulfilling his curiosity, and a standing appointment with Gadling once every century. During their second meeting, Gadling even lampshades this trope and wonders if Morpheus is the devil and if he's now forfeited his soul for his immortality without his knowledge and consent. Morpheus replies that neither is the case: He is no devil, 'merely interested'. In the end, the story states that what Morpheus truly gained from it was, intentionally or not, a human friend.
    • In "Ramadan", Harun al-Rashid makes a deal with Morpheus. He sells his kingdom (the gleaming Baghdad of legend, full of wonders and miracles) to Morpheus so it can be preserved for ever without decaying like so many previous civilizations of men. When the deal is done, Morpheus retains the fabled city in a bottle in his realm, and the caliph wakes up in the historic Baghdad, a more mundane place. And the city of wonders now lives on forever in legends and stories, never to be forgotten, as we can see at the end of the issue.
    • Finally, and perhaps most poignantly, in the "Season of Mists" arc, Lucifer himself criticizes this trope as it pertains to him:
      Lucifer: They talk of me going like a fishwife come market day, never stopping to ask themselves why. I need no souls. And how can anyone own a soul? No. They belong to themselves... They just hate to have to face up to it.
      • And later the ghosts of some Satanic boarding school bullies express their disappointment that their efforts amounted to nothing:
      Skinner's ghost: We sacrificed a boy. All three of us. To the devil. We did stuff from old books. We did stuff you wouldn't believe. But when we went to Hell... they didn't care. They hadn't even known. They — they laughed at us.
  • The Simpsons: One Treehouse of Horror comic begins with Mr. Burns playing battleship with the Devil, and losing. Discussion turns to payment. He declines Smither's soul, but Mr. Burns reveals the plant's employees actually sold their families souls in the last round of contract negotiations. For three-ply toilet paper in the washrooms. As a result, the Devil sends two demons to grab Bart and Lisa's souls (not Maggie's. Babies stink up the place.) But due to a mix-up involving Bart switching the Simpsons and Flanders mailboxes, Rodd and Todd get taken instead.
  • The Smurfs: In the story "Sagratamabarb", Gargamel makes a deal with Beelzebub that, if he can get rid of his titular cousin, he would be his slave forever. It didn't turn out well for Gargamel.
  • Spawn: Al Simmons was a CIA-employed assassin who was betrayed, murdered, and condemned to Hell for all of the horrific deeds he committed as an assassin, only to be approached by the demon Malebogia and offered a chance to return to the land of the living and be reunited with his wife, in exchange for his immortal soul. Thus was Simmons reborn as a Hellspawn (or "Spawn" for short), a powerful demon tasked with amassing an army of damned souls for the coming war between Heaven and Hell.
  • Soulsearchers and Company: In issue #6, a demon transforms the team into '90s antiheroes and presents them with a contract to make their new identities and popularity permanent in exchange for their souls. Their new personalities are inclined to sign, and it is down to Arnold to save the day.
  • Sturmtruppen: Spoofed when the Doctor becomes so obsessed with returning young he admits he'd make one such deal... And Musolesi promptly sells him a cooking book that he passes as a coded grimoire to summon the Devil. And then Musolesi finds out the Doctor has a lot of gold stashed away, so he feigns being the Devil to con him out of that gold.
  • Tales of Telguuth: Pel Morgath the Mage summons the demon Zamprox to make a Faustian deal for more knowledge about the world, heaven, and hell. The demon agrees, but wants Morgath's body after he dies because he already has plenty of souls. Morgath senses that Zamprox might try to "bump up" his death, so he comes to an agreement with the demon that their definition of death will be when Morgath's soul leaves his body naturally and freely. Zamprox then shows Morgath an amulet that shows all the wonders and horrors of the wide fantasy world of Telguuth. Morgath then realizes that his soul is now trapped in the amulet, and since he agreed to enter freely his body is now controlled by the demon. When Morgath protests that he didn't honor their deal, the demon scoffs that he has shown him the world, but since he's a demon he wouldn't be able to show him heaven even if he wanted to. He'll show him hell by murdering everyone he has ever loved while he's forced to watch.
  • Tex Willer:
    • It was long implied, and eventually confirmed, that Mefisto went from a stage magician turned spy with no actual powers to a powerful warlock through a series of deals, rendering unspecified services to the infernal powers in exchange for knowledge. Knowing perfectly the risks involved, his deals were small and implicit, with little consequences should he fail to do his part.
      • In his final storyline Mefisto does two explicit deals because he had no other way to fix the situation, but he's still prudent. The first sees him consecrating his soul to a certain devil so he'd cure his son Yama from being an insane vegetable (a consequence of him messing up a deal), as he has failed to cure him with every other way and couldn't bear to see his son broken like that. Later, with Tex and his pards coming close enough to kill him and his powers made unreliable by the arrival of Narbas (whose body Mefisto had stolen to come back to life, the sorcerer, knowing he has to do something in the next few seconds or he'll get shot, offers their souls in exchange for unleashing a horde of demons of them, knowing that the service will automatically allow the devil to claim their reward... But failing to realize that Narbas had reclaimed his body just as he called on the devil, so he only got an illusion of victory before being dragged to hell. He had also been ready to make an explicit wish at the end of the "Tragedy in the Jungle" storyline, as the situation was equally desperate (he and his accomplices had a faux-medieval castle but most of his minions had been already killed, and he knew Tex was coming for him with the Seminoles, far too numerous for his remaining men to hold off)... But Tex had also involved the US Army, and their artillery hit a gunpowder magazine and and they blew up the castle before he could summon the devil.
    • Mefisto's son Yama followed his father's example, but, not being as savvy, eventually made the error of making two explicit deals against Mefisto's advice. While the first went well (in fact he made sure to fulfill his part first), the second time he demanded the Devil did his part first and then failed to hold his side of the deal, and found out the hard way why his father had told him to not do it when the Devil ripped his soul from the body and made him insane.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: A priest/healer named Jizonobu hands himself over to his Evil Counterpart's evil gods after the latter appears to have healed a sickly child (the other option being to die along with his fellow priests and another sickly child). It gets worse: The being that takes over Jizonobu's body transforms him into the Axe-Crazy Jei. Guess what happens to the above-mentioned fellow priests.
  • Vampirella: The villain Von Kreist was a World War 1 Prussian officer who sold his soul to a demon in exchange for immortality. Unfortunately for Von Kreist, the deal didn't stop his body for rotting and decaying while he was alive.
  • The Warlord: Deimos, who'd been reduced to a head on a hand by that point, makes a deal with The Evil One to restore his body, as payment the Evil One takes Deimos' magic skill, which Deimos needs to fight the Warlord.
  • In an old comic, a shopkeeper makes a deal with what looks like a devil, and spends the rest of his life being nice and all that jazz. Then, when he's about to die, the being appears and tells him he's an angel. So, the guy goes to heaven.
  • In the pre-Code horror story "The Man Who Tricked the Devil!", the Devil's Jackass Genie tendencies are already firmly established in two anecdotes that the protagonist Jeffrey Hagstone's friends tell him - a art collector wishing to marry the offspring of the most beautiful people in the world is betrothed to a woman with leprosy, and promptly catches her disease; a diplomat who wishes to become prime minister of his own Ruritanian autocracy is assassinated a minute after his glorious regime begins. Hagstone, meanwhile, is insistent that he'll come out the better man in their deal, because the highly accomplished lawyer has drafted his own contract, with thousands of added clauses to ensure no treachery on Satan's part. However, as such documents are typically signed in blood, Jeff has to sign each clause separately as well... and dies of blood loss before he gets to the dotted line.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert: As Alice found out in this strip, becoming a manager requires this sort of deal. Fortunately, they give you your soul back if you're demoted or learn to play sax.
  • The World of Lily Wong: In the Hong Kong light-hearted parody, the hero works for a deeply immoral advertising agency named Faust Associates whose logo is a devil.

    Eastern European Animation 
  • Gypsy Tales: In "The Gypsy Woman and the Devil", the devil offers to save Vunida from poverty in exchange for Vunida marrying him. She refuses but he lures her into captivity in his disguise as a rich young man.

    Folklore and Fairy Tales 
  • Some of the oldest fairy tales on record (dating as far back as 3500 BCE), written in Sanskrit, are about craftsmen making bargains with demonic creatures in exchange for superlative skill.
  • In "The Maiden Without Hands", a miller makes a deal with the devil for "what is standing behind thy mill". He thought it was an apple tree; it was his daughter. She kept herself too pure for the devil to carry off, though, even when the devil orders the miller to cut off her hands. So the miller ended up with the money; but as soon as that happened, the daughter left to seek her fortune. Ironically enough, this may be a Bowdlerised plot; the rest of the plot is commonly found in tales where the heroine lost her hands and left because her father or brother tried to force her to marry him.
  • In "Bearskin", a soldier makes a Deal With The Devil, who will give him an ever-filled purse, but he must not pray, wash, cut his hair or nails, or change from a bearskin for seven years. He goes about distributing money to the poor, asking them to pray for him. One man he rescues from financial distress promises that he may marry one of his daughters. Only the youngest is willing. He succeeds in fulfilling the devil's terms and cleans up nicely, and the older sisters, reduced to envy, commit suicide. The Devil, pleased at this development, informs the soldier that he got two souls, not one.
  • Other variants of "Bearskin" include "Don Giovanni de la Fortuna", "The Soldier and the Bad Man", "The Road to Hell" (where she actively cleans him up), "The Reward of Kindness", "The Devil As Partner" and "Never Wash".
  • Another fairytale variant: "Rumpelstiltskin". Though considering the number of escape clauses in that deal, Rumpelstiltskin made a less-than-competent Mephistopheles.
  • The deal with the Sea Witch still occurs in Andersen's original version of "The Little Mermaid". It comes off as even more cruel and painful and ultimately ends up screwing the mermaid even harder than it does in Disney's adaptation, but unlike Ursula, the original Sea Witch does not actively screw the mermaid over or use the contract to advance her own goals, instead she comes off as more of a neutral figure and it's easier to buy that her magic genuinely requires the recipient to make such sacrifices as a price for the power received, as opposed to the spell being expressly designed to screw the recipient over.
  • A Polish legend tells of the nobleman Twardowski who gained magical powers thanks to such a deal. The clause was that the devil would get Twardowski's soul when Twardowski went to Rome. Twardowski gleefully stayed away from Italy. The devil eventually captured him when he wandered into a tavern called "Rome".
    • The Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz had fun with this legend in one of his poems, where Twardowski agrees to give up his soul in exchange for three Impossible Tasks, per the contract. The devil manages to do the first two, but the third one - to spend a year with Twardowski's wife - is too much for him and he runs away.
  • One story has a wily blacksmith who sells his soul to the Devil in return for the magical power to stick anything to anything (hey, that's useful for a smith). When the Devil sends first his son and then his daughter to collect on the bargain, the smith uses his magic powers to not only stop them but embarrass them until they go away. Then the Devil declares he has to do the job himself, and fails. The smith tells him that if he can just live out is natural life the Devil is jolly welcome to take his soul when that day comes... but when that day comes, the Devil gets so horrified at the idea of having the smith down there, that he screams that the deal is off and tells the smith to get himself packing to Heaven. Which let him in. Apparently, trolling the devil counters engaging in black magic deals.
    • Another version involved the deal being that the Smith would be "The Master of Masters" - a proclamation God himself disproved by showing the Smith up, but granted the Smith three boons that the Smith later used to confound the Devil, and ends in the Smith throwing his hammer into the Pearly Gates to keep them ajar as they're letting in someone else!
    • This was later dramatized in Errementari, in which the titular blacksmith actually keeps Sartael imprisoned and routinely tortures him, and ends with the Blacksmith going into Hell in order to reclaim the soul of his wife, who'd committed suicide, for the sake of her daughter.
      This story, like many others, begins with a man of flesh and blood. A man who outwitted his pact with Hell. A man so ruthless, so determined, that even the Devil himself would come to fear and respect him. A blacksmith.
  • In The Gold Mountain a ruined merchant sells his newborn son to the black dwarf for a chest full of money and seven years of guaranteed success. The child is able to escape the deal with help from some fairy friends, who teach him to negotiate with supernatural powers and help him fake his death.
  • It is sometimes said that legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his mastery of the instrument. The location where the meeting supposedly took place, the crossroads of US 49 and US 61 in Clarksdale, MS, is a Mecca of sorts to blues aficionados. The tale is something of a subtrope in its own right. and is referenced in several of these examples. Similar rumors exist about other musicians, like Mozart or Paganini.
    • This has also been repeated in more Vodoun terms, since Papa Legba makes crossroads deals as well, though they're not quite as huge a risk, i.e. auto-loss, as the Satan ones.
  • There are a number of folk tales where people make a deal with the devil (or other supernatural creatures) to build or rebuild some structure in return for a soul, so long as the work is complete before the rooster crows. Of course, there is nothing forbidding the people waking up the rooster five seconds before the work is done.
  • Witches were said to gain magical powers by making a deal with Satan, which is why everyone freaked out when anyone was accused of witchcraft.
  • A common theme in Appalachian folklore, the inspiration for the Charlie Daniels Band song quoted at the top of this page.
  • La Chasse-galerie, a folk tale from Quebec, tells the story of a group of workers (lumberjacks or fur traders, depending on the telling) who make a deal with the Devil for a flying canoe that would allow them to fly to their families for Christmas day. They'd be fine as long as they returned before dawn and (depending on the telling) followed other rules, such as not touching the crosses of church steeples and not saying the name of God while they're flying. If they break any of these terms, the Devil gets their souls. Unfortunately, the designated driver parties too hard and is too drunk to fly straight on the return trip. Whether they make it or not depends, once again, on the telling. This story also inspired a brand of beer called "La Maudite" meaning "The Damned One". The label on the beer is that of the devil sneering at men frantically rowing in a flying canoe as the sun rises in the background.
  • Dealing with the Sidhe is traditionally known to be along these lines. Fairies are long-lived and wily, giving them both the time and the inclination to get really good at legalese. Getting a fairy to honor the spirit of a deal is like squeezing blood from thin air; depending on how nasty the fae is, even getting them to honor the letter of a deal can be one hell of a trick, if they think they can get away with creatively misinterpreting or even actively ignoring their end of the bargain. As a general rule, if it seems like the Neighbors are playing fair, either your bargain is a case of Be Careful What You Wish For, or you had the upper hand in the deal, which means you're due to be raped by a troll any minute now...
  • Spoofed in the Chilean folk tale "El roto que engañó al diablo (The poor man who tricked the Devil)", where a very poor Unlucky Everydude seals one of these deals in exchange for money. As a proof, he writes it down with his blood on a small paper... but he writes it in such a tricky manner that, every time the Devil came to get him, the "technicalities" wouldn't let him ensnare the man's soul. The Devil got so angry when he realized that he had been Out-Gambitted he left in a huff, so the guy got to keep his soul and the wealth he had been given.
    • A similar Irish story, "An Cearrbhach Mac Cába" ("McCabe the Gambler") features the same type of trickery, e.g. he asks to live until a candle burns down... and then blows out the candle so it never goes down. He asks to be allowed to live to say a prayer ... and then delays making the prayer indefinitely. (The villain is Death, not the Devil, but behaves as the stereotypical Devil does.) This is very like the Greek hero Meleager, who was fated to live only until a brand that was in the fire of the fates burned up; his mother stole it, doused it, and kept it safe...until he killed her brothers and one of his brothers, her son, and she burnt it on purpose.
  • Defied in "Godfather Death": The poor man who desperately looks for a godfather for his newborn is approached by the Devil, who offers to give the poor man's son money aplenty and "all the joys of the world as well" if the man chooses him as the boy's godfather. But the man refuses, because the Devil is a bad egg.
  • Amongst Sami people and the Finns living in Northern Finland and Northern Scandinavia, it is said that you could make a deal with the devil for him to grant you riches etc, but the catch is that you had to serve random people that weren't your enemies drinks, whether it was coffee, booze or anything that was drinkable, that were spiced with soil from graves. If you failed to do this, the Devil would come and either take your life or drive you insane.
  • The story of Stingy Jack involves a crooked farmer trapping the Devil (or The Grim Reaper) up a tree, and refusing to let them down until they promised not to take him to Hell when he died. Unfortunately, when Jack died he was refused entry into both Heaven and Hell. He was forced to wander the Earth bearing a coal from the fires of Hell in a lantern made from a hollowed-out gourd (a turnip in early versions of the story), which is where the tradition of Jack-o-lanterns came from.
  • In "The Nix in the Mill-Pond", a poor miller makes a deal with a Nixie, who will make him a rich man in return for "that which has just been born in [his] house." The miller foolishly thinks it was a puppy or a kitten, and then he finds out his wife has just given birth. As his son grows up, the miller cautions him about going near ponds, but the man is eventually lured into the Nixie's pond. His wife manages to rescue him, but the mad Nixie floods the whole valley in retaliation.
  • Devil's Bridge in Ceredigion, Wales. The bridge is unique in that three separate bridges are coexistent, each one built upon the previous bridge. The previous structures were not demolished. According to legend, the original bridge was built after an old woman lost her cow and saw it grazing on the other side of the river. The Devil appeared and agreed to build a bridge in return for the soul of the first living thing to cross it. When the bridge was finished, the old woman threw a crust of bread over the river, which her dog crossed the bridge to retrieve, thus becoming the first living thing to cross it. The devil was left with only the soul of the dog.
  • In Brazilian Folklore, the Diabinho da Garrafa (little devil of the bottle), famaliá or cramunhão is a demon that comes to be from one of these. With the deal made, the person gets the egg of a rooster during the Lent and goes to a crossroads at midnight on the first Friday after they found the egg, with the egg under the left arm – then, the person goes back home and sleeps. The demon comes from the egg after fourty days, and is locked into a bottle so he would grant the person riches thoughout their life. As a price, however, the little devil eventually gets out of the bottle and drags the person's soul to hell.
  • "The Soldier And Death": Subverted. The soldier forces one demon to make a deal with him, and the demon is too frightened of the soldier to try to trick or cheat him. When the soldier declares they are even (after the demon has performed one single task for him), the devil flees terrified.
  • The tale surrounding the creation of the mysterious Codex Gigas goes something like this. A Franciscan monk violated one of his sacred vows and was set to be punished with living internment within the abbey's walls. Desperate to avoid this fate, he offered to produce a magnificent illuminated manuscript in exchange for his life. The abbot agreed, but asked for a book that contained all the knowledge in the known world, and demanded it be completed in an impossibly short timespan (depending on the version either one year or one night). The monk nevertheless took the offer, but soon realized he had no hope on his own. He prayed desperately to God, but was ignored. Eventually, he called out to anyone who could which point the Devil appeared. The Devil offered to finish the manuscript for him in exchange for his immortal soul. The monk was so terrified of death that he accepted. The Devil placed a claw to a piece of vellum and the monk watched in astonishment as the massive pages wrote and assembled themselves. While his life was saved, he soon began fearing for his soul. Weeks later, he prayed to the Virgin Mary for protection and forgiveness. Miraculously, she appeared, and told the monk that his sins would be forgiven... but when the monk went to kiss her hand in gratitude, she transformed into the Devil. Mocking the monk for trying to get out of his deal, the Devil dragged the poor man to Hell.

  • The protagonist of Priest, Ivan Isaacs, makes a deal with the demon Bethael/Belial which involves giving up half his soul.

  • Duane Elms: Some versions of Dawson's Christian describe Jayme Dawson, the titular ship's captain, making a bargain with "some power of the night" when his ship was ambushed by a stronger force, selling his soul for the chance to win his final fight. He did, and the implication is that this deal is why the Christian still roams space as a Ghost Ship.
  • Lordi's song "Devil is a Loser" mocks someone for making a deal with the devil, because the devil is, well, a loser.
  • Blues singers Robert Johnson and Tommy Johnson (no relation) allegedly sold their souls to the devil, according to legend.
  • Long before Robert Johnson, classical violinist Niccolo Paganini allegedly sold his soul for great musical talent.
  • Even Paganini is predated by Italian baroque composer Giuseppe Tartini. The story goes that in 1713, Satan himself appeared to Tartini in a dream and the two made a pact: Tartini would give his soul to Satan in exchange for some teachings. Tartini let the Devil borrow his violin, and he played a truly awe-inspiring song. When he awoke, Tartini tried to write down what he had heard, and created the Violin Sonata in G minor — or as it's more popularly known, the Devil's Trill Sonata.
  • Igor Stravinsky's "The Soldier's Tale" is about a soldier who makes a deal with the devil and tries to outsmarten the devil, which fails.
  • The Evillious Chronicles is a story all about nobles and commonfolk alike making pacts with demons over the course of a millennium. Standout examples include:
    • "The Insanity of Duke Venomania", in which said duke, Sateriasis Venomania (played by Gakupo), made a deal with the devil to become irresistble to women. The result is, while he does of course gain gorgeous looks, that he also gains the ability to charm any girl he wants, having them flock to his mansion's basement to be in his harem. The reason why he was so obsessed was because he was bullied as a child for his grotesque looks.
    • In "Judgement of Corruption", the corrupt judge Gallerian Marlon (played by KAITO), who receives bribes to make criminals "innocent" in court, eventually dies when his sins catch up to him. When he gets to the afterlife, he encounters the "Master of the Hellish Yard", who tells him he can be saved if he gives up his money. He refuses and is promptly sent to Hell, where Gallerian hopes to turn the place into a utopia after he gathers his sins.
    • "Conchita, the Epicurean Daughter of Evil" has the titular chatacter Banica Conchita make a deal with the demon of Gluttony to be able to eat anything. She gains looks, but also an insatiable hunger that slowly begins to encompass grotesque items and eventually humans. When she finds she cannot eat anything else, she eats herself. She's not dead for long though, as she becomes the new Demon of Gluttony and leaves for other worlds in search of new foods.
  • Nem's Vocaloid song "Dream-Eating Monochrome Baku" tells the story of a girl who makes a deal with the titual character, Monochrome Baku the Dream-Eater, to take away her nightmares in a deal made with a pinky promise. She summons him again to give her more dreams and seals the contract with a kiss and returns night after night to give her more. However, when the moon is full, the Dream-Eater's job is done and he collects his payment; never again will the girl be able to dream and has to face the harsh reality of the world that she keeps trying to escape.
  • Both Eminem and Kanye West have compared becoming famous to making a deal with the devil. Shady did this on the anguished "Say Goodbye to Hollywood", the Solo Duet "My Darling" and the extremely silly "Rain Man". Kanye did it on "Eyes Closed" and GOOD Music's "2010 BET Cypher".
  • A Deal With The Devil was made by the bass player of the virtual band Gorillaz, Murdoc Niccals, but with no lethal consequence. He changed his middle name to Faust, and got Satan's bass guitar, El Diablo in return. (He was marked as a Satanist from the day he was born — his birthdate is 6 June 1966, which made his 40th birthday 06/06/06.) Turns out the devil came back to pick up his payment, but wasn't too particular about who he took to Hell, snatching guitarist Noodle in lieu of Murdoc. However, not even Beezelbub is allowed to jeopardize the fame and fortune the band brings to Murdoc, so he went down to Hell and tracked Noodle down and rescued her. It also doesn't hurt to mention that she's his Morality Pet. Except he didn't find her, and the current Noodle is actually an android. Then again, Murdoc has been drunk constantly for quite a while and keeps changing the story, so he's just a teeny bit of an Unreliable Narrator. If she was ever in Hell in the first place, the evidence suggests she Escaped from Hell on her own. Her location during her MIA period has not been confirmed, but real Noodle is alive and kicking, according to the "On Melancholy Hill" video. She and Russel are heading to Plastic Beach, and one assumes Murdoc isn't gonna enjoy the confrontation. There are suggestions on his Twitter page that he did try to find her; he seemed to panic when finding out she was alive and instantly rushed to help, so he may indeed have cared enough to try to find her last time.
  • The Trans-Siberian Orchestra Rock Opera Beethoven's Last Night is based on a variation/inversion of this trope, as Mephistopheles offers to return a dying Ludwig van Beethoven's soul — in exchange for which, all of Beethoven's works would be forever erased from history, and his name would never be known to future generations. The soul wasn't Mephistopheles' to begin with...
  • In Jerry Springer: The Opera, angels try to rescue Jerry from Hell, but the demons fight them off, shouting "He made a choice!"
  • "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" (as mentioned in the Video Games entry for Guitar Hero III). The song could be considered an inversion of the trope as the "main character" (or as far as a song can have one) actually comes off better after a deal with the Devil and wins a Golden Fiddle in a fiddle contest.
    • And that the Devil challenged him, because he was the one in need (He was behind schedule).
      • Marc O'Connor hooked up with Charlie Daniels to record a sequel, "The Devil Comes Back to Georgia" in which the Devil challenges Johnny to a rematch. The track featured vocals by Travis Tritt (as the Devil), Marty Stuart (as Johnny) and Johnny Cash (narrating in full preacher-mode). Final score=?
      • Word of God is that Charlie Daniels agreed to record the song only if Johnny was able to beat the Devil once again. While the song's lyrics are fairly nebulous regarding the final outcome, the video indicates that Johnny won again.
    • And also Beelzeboss by Tenacious D, the song in earlier mentioned Tenacious D movie, which is arguably a parody of The Devil went Down To Georgia. Unlike the original, where the Devil is sporting about it and admits defeat, the devil in this song declares himself the winner anyway.
    • Until the Guitar Hero version, which was so ridiculously Nintendo Hard that the Devil winds up winning most of the time. It actually upset Charlie Daniels because it undermined the message of the song.
  • This is the theme of Weber's opera Der Freischütz, in which the Devil supplies magic bullets. It was later adapted by Tom Waits into a rock opera, The Black Rider:
    Why be a fool when you can chase away
    Your blind and your gloom
    I have blessed each one of these bullets
    And they shine just like a spoon
    To have sixty silver wishes
    Is a small price to pay
    They'll be your private little fishes
    And they'll never swim away
  • Rapper DMX has the Damien series: a series of songs spanning multiple albums about his Deal With The Devil to get into the hip hop industry, and the increasing demands of the devil for DMX to meet his end of the bargain.
  • Snoop Dogg's "Murder Was Tha Case" opens with him being shot and dying in the hospital, only to make a deal with a rhyming devil to get his hood rich lifestyle back. Naturally, he's then arrested and ends the song in prison.
  • Kamelot's albums, Epica and The Black Halo are two halves of a Rock Opera based on Goethe's Faust.
  • "Red Right Hand" from Let Love In, by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, is about this.
    You don't have no money, he'll get you some
    You don't have no car, he'll get you one
    You don't have no self-respect, you feel like an insect
    Well, don't you worry, buddy, 'cause here he comes...
  • Subverted by Frank Zappa in his song "Titties and Beer" from Zappa in New York and Läther, about a biker who calls the devil's bluff. Apparently, you're not supposed to want to sell your soul.
  • The Canadian band Great Big Sea did this according to their song Straight to Hell. Strangely enough, both sides get exactly what they want: A life of Rock and Roll in exchange for One Eternal Soul. The chorus:
    Love me now while we're alive
    It's the best thing we can do
    We'll have no time up on Cloud Nine
    So Heaven on Earth will have to do
    I can sing like a bird
    And dance like a demon
    And I do it all so well
    Cause I made a deal with the Devil
    And when I die
    I'm going straight to hell.
  • The song Demolition Lovers off of I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love and most of the album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge by My Chemical Romance were supposed to operate on a story line that a somewhat nefarious pair of lovers are killed in a hail of bullets. The man gets to Hell, finds out the woman is still alive, and then makes a deal with the devil — he'll kill 1000 evil men in order to get his life back and be with his woman. However, the band is a fail at sticking to story lines when they decide to make a concept album, so you just have to trust them on this.
  • Disturbed's Inside the Fire has the devil attempting to get the singer to give his soul to the devil (kill himself) so he can see his girlfriend (who killed herself) again. Draiman turns the deal down.
  • Party of the First Part is a song/spoken word piece by Bauhaus, where a rather dim woman gets conned out of her soul by a hilariously obvious demon (it says "Beelzebub" on his business card, for pity's sake) in return for short-lived musical fame.
  • Orpheus makes one with Hades in the folk opera Hadestown.
  • Subverted in Sound Horizon's Seisen no Iberia, where Layla's literal Deal With The Devil ends up being the smartest decision anyone's made in centuries, what with creating a peaceful resolution to eponymous Forever War.
  • The premise of the video for Ultravox's Hymn. It features an actor, a struggling politician, a club singer and a waiter being offered contracts by a tall, slick, green-eyed man who is heavily implied to be the devil. They all take him up on his offer and enjoy success, until he calls in his "favours". It ends with him tying up the singer and a contract burning.
  • A popular urban legend theorizes that the members of Led Zeppelin sold their souls to Satan in exchange for fame and fortune, and John Paul Jones was the only member of the band who refused. This is why John Paul Jones is the least-known member of the band, but he's also the only one who hasn't suffered some horrible tragedy in his personal life.
  • Skyclad plays with the trope. The song "A Great Blow for a Day Job" starts with the "main character" selling his soul for fifty years of wealth, fame, health and good fiddling skills. Unlike "The Devil Went down to Georgia", it doesn't end up with the "beating the devil" thing... except that the main character really doesn't seems to give a damn about spending eternity in Hell because turns out he lived a REALLY good life.
  • The Mick Ryan song The Widow's Promise, alternatively called The Widow or The Widow and the Devil, has a humorous twist where a lonely widow offers her soul in exchange for a incubi devil satisfying her in bed. The widow proves literally insatiable, and the Devil ends up giving up in exhaustion after several rounds. Then he finds out to his horror that there's nothing stopping her from trying the deal again the next night, and flatly refuses to show up.
  • "Friend of the Devil" by The Grateful Dead from American Beauty, where a man escapes from jail with help from the Devil, but ends up chasing him in the end.
  • Kris Kristofferson's "To Beat The Devil" has him meet up with old Nick in a bar and being shown how to write a hit song in exchange for accepting that his music will never matter. He ends up rewriting the Devil's song to fit his own ideas.
    I ain't sayin' I beat the devil
    But I drank his beer for nothin'
    ...and then I stole his song!
  • In the song "Hooker with a penis” by tool when confronted about selling out, the protagonist of the song mentions that he was sold out for a long time.
    "All you know about me is what I sold you, dumb fuck. I sold out before you ever even heard my name, I sold my soul to make a record dipshit, THEN YOU BOUGHT ONE!
  • The music video for the song Nameless World by Skip The Use shows a man driving to a place specified in his record contract with a Mr. Behemoth. On his way there, he's hit by a truck driven by a man that looks like the devil...and in that moment the man realizes what exactly his record contract was.
  • The song "Devil Came with a Smile" by A Pale Horse Named Death is about a rockstar who wants the Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll lifestyle. It doesn't last long, of course.
  • The Lab Rats' Devil's Train, near the end the protagonist of the song is met by The Devil/demon/Humanoid Abomination who suckers the protagonist into a deal.
    Ooh easy with the tongue son, try to listen carefully/
    What you seen's scary but nothing when compared to me/
    I could show you things that paint all your dreams haunted/
    I could make you scream if I wanted/
    Two peas in a pod flocking like birds of a feather/
    And you never have a need to beg work or steal/
    If all this sounds worth it then lets make a deal/
    All you want in life for price of your soul/
    All the money you can fold, power that you can hold/
    I'll put you in control, only if you're down to roll down these/
    train tracks tonight.
  • Attempted by the narrator of KONGOS' "Come With Me Now". It doesn't work; the narrator is already a roiling mess of sins, so presumably Old Scratch doesn't see much point in putting in the hard yards for something he's already getting.
    I tried to sell my soul last night/Funny, he wouldn't even take a bite...
  • The Pretty Reckless' "Take Me Down" is about Taylor Momsen doing this in exchange for a musical career.
  • The music video for Phantom by Nathan Sharp follows a young magician who makes a deal to put on the perfect magic act.
  • Colter Wall's "The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie" is a somewhat stock-standard crossroads-deal-type-situation with the added qualifier that the Devil is genteel and "white as a cotton field".
  • Stormfrun: In "Down Below", a sailor with a gambling habit makes a deal with Davy Jones: in exchange for becoming the wealthiest person on the ship, he will serve Jones after his death. Jones fulfills his promise by sending storms and ill luck to kill of the rest of the crew, leaving the luckless signer the wealthiest person aboard by virtue of being the only.
  • The narrator of Type O Negative's "All Hallows Eve" sells his soul to bring his lover back from the grave.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In The Bible, Satan tempts Jesus by offering him all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for just a little worship. Of course, Jesus (having Incorruptible Pure Pureness) doesn't take the bait, but that still makes this Older Than Feudalism.
  • Buddha is similarly offered a deal by Yama, king of the dead, as Buddha's teachings mean people will stop existing after death instead of being reincarnated, killing his business. He tries to threaten Buddha with a rain of poisoned arrows, swords, and other weapons, but the other gods turn them to harmless flowers, as the gods need the teaching of Buddha just as much as men. He then tempts Buddha with his beautiful daughters, and when that fails tries to make Buddha go back to defend his family. Buddha merely tells him they are destined, as everyone else, to die some day, even if Buddha saves them now. Finally Yama tells him, "No one will listen to you. People are so deluded they even like my crappy merry-go-round of reincarnation." This last attempt is the only thing that gives the Buddha pause, but he replies, "That's true, except at least SOME will listen."

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Satan claimed responsibility for QT Marshall's Ring of Honor employment at A Night Of Hoopla.
  • Matt Tremont justified working with Drew Blood by explaining that he had scene a ladder leading up to heaven through a light Blood had told him to look at and came to the realization that there was no God, that the closest thing to God was himself because he was the savior of CZW but that the devil was in fact real because he realized in the same moment it was Blood.
  • In NWA Houston and Lonestar Championship Wrestling, Prince Kanu has a reputation for duping and manipulating wrestlers into signing one sided contracts and taking unnecessary wagers. Read the fine print!

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Dinosaurs episode "Life in the Faust Lane" had Earl Sinclair make a deal with the devil to get a very exclusive mug.
  • Played for Laughs in the Alice Cooper episode of The Muppet Show. Cooper acts as an agent for the devil, offering a contract that will give the muppet who signs it anything they want in exchange for their soul. Gonzo is ecstatic, but can't find a pen. ("I'll sell my soul for a pen! No, I have other plans for that.") Miss Piggy goes through with the deal for great beauty, but is turned off by what Cooper considers beautiful. After giving Piggy a refund, Cooper radios the devil to report...
    Cooper: Hello, boss... No, no, I didn't make a sale... Listen, do I get any commission on hourly rentals?
    [Radio spews flames]
    Cooper: Whew. Touchy.
    • At the end, Gonzo appears in an explosive flash holding a piece of paper similar to the offered contract. Kermit asks if it's the contract, but Gonzo reveals it's something worse: the bill from the special effects department! Cue everyone, Cooper included, letting out a Big "NO!".

    Recorded & Stand-Up Comedy 

  • Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe centres its entire plot around this. The eponymous doc cuts a deal with the devil (well, a devil named Mephistophilis, anyway) for twenty-four years of anything he wants in exchange for his soul. He comes to regret this, but whether from pride or faithless despair, he never accepts salvation from divine sources.
  • Faust, written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is another telling of the Faustus myths and legends, although it differs significantly from Marlowe's version.
  • The Devil is a rock x classical musical loosely based on Goethe's play, with the two spirit beings X-Black and X-White competing to influence the soul of Wall Street banker John Faust.
  • In Cross Road violinist Niccolo Paganini makes a contract with Amduscias, the Devil of Music. Niccolo gives his life in exchange for one million songs of genius. Once he's played the millionth song, he will die. The usual story is subverted, though — Niccolo dabbles with I Just Want to Be Normal as his songs count down and he has only 463 left, 462... but in the end, he accepts death, and has no regrets. Amduscias is also something of a Benevolent Genie, as he protects Niccolo from some of the dangers associated with their contract, and comes to really care for him. He sings a hauntingly beautiful Dark Reprise of the title song over Niccolo, mourning for him when he finally does die.
  • A deal with the devil is commonly used in pantomimes. A naive character (AKA: village idiot) is commonly corrupted by the villain with the promise of riches and power. This either leads to the villain holding him to ransom or the naive character returning in the second half hypnotised.
  • Little Shop of Horrors: "You eat blood, Audrey II, let's face it. How am I going to keep on feeding you, kill people?" "I'll make it worth your while..."
  • Hertzog, from The Black Crook, made a deal with the devil, who is referred to as Zamiel. In exchange for immortality, Hertzog must give Zamiel a fresh soul every New Year's Eve.
  • Discussed in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons, when Sir Thomas More tells Richard Rich (who had perjured himself, betraying More's trust, leading to More's arrest and Rich's promotion to Attorney General for Wales), "Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to his soul for the whole world...but for Wales?"
  • Bolt also explores this in his lesser-known Gentle Jack, which features a meek office worker given supernatural powers by Jack, a Pan-like deity. The protagonist is initially thrilled, using his powers to help his friends and coworkers, but reneges when Jack demands that he kill someone to keep the powers forever.
  • In Damn Yankees, aging Washington Senators fan Joe Boyd declares that he'd sell his soul to get his team to defeat the New York Yankees. Suddenly, a mysterious gentleman named Applegate appears to make him the living embodiment of his wish. The deal is concluded just with handshakes; Applegate calls signing in blood a "phony stunt." Lola, a seductive servant of the devil's, is later revealed to have made a similar deal in life; she was ugly and sold her soul for beauty. Interestingly, the devil ends up voiding his own deal with Joe, in a last-ditch attempt to keep the Senators from winning the pennant.
  • In Twice Charmed, this is what the deal with Franco boils down to. He'll send the Tremaines back in time, but if they fail, they'll be cursed forever.
  • In The Soldiers Tale, the plot begins with the Soldier selling his old fiddle to the Devil in disguise in exchange for a book of riches (and a three-day reception which turns out to take quite a bit longer than promised).
  • When Jeremy from Be More Chill buys his SQUIP, he unwittingly does this. When it tells him to choose between his best friend of 12 years and the popularity he desires, he chooses the latter.
  • In Hadestown, Euridice signs her life away to Hades after she reaches a point of absolute desperation trying to survive. Hades seduces her during "Hey, Little Songbird," and Euridice thinks she'd rather have stability with Hades than hardship with Orpheus.

    Visual Novels 
  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: In the buildup to Zak Gramarye's trial, Kristoph Gavin requested 12-year old Vera Misham's services in forging Magnifi Gramarye's missing diary page, and in exchange, gave her a bottle of nail polish that he called a "good" luck charm as incentive for her to go outside. Vera saw him as her Guardian Angel, but also noticed the sign of the Devil in the hand that gave her the nail polish, as unbeknownst to Vera, Kristoph had laced the nail polish with the deadly poison atroquinine, which she ingested upon nervously biting her nails. As she falls unconscious from poisoning, Vera outright calls Kristoph "the Devil".
  • Contract Demon: Kamilla's job is to make these, although she's put off by how many people want to have sex with demons.
  • Several characters in Tyrion Cuthbert: Attorney of the Arcane discuss accounts and legends of people making Blood Contracts with demons, with predictably negative results. Such contracts are magically binding even if the subject was tricked or coerced into signing, but if anything in the contract is invalid, the entire contract can be rendered null and void, so demons tend to be very careful to not leave any room for loopholes or interpretation. The Big Bad, Eris, is a demon who's brokered Blood Contracts with several characters throughout the story, willing or otherwise, to carry out her agenda. The climax of the final chapter involves invalidating one of her contracts, by proving that one of its terms was not (and could not be) fulfilled as written.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, a deal with the "Golden Witch", Beatrice, sets the plot into motion. The protagonist Battler's family patriarch Kinzo made a deal with her to amass the family fortune, and she plans to reclaim it upon his death unless Battler can solve her riddle.

    Web Animation 
  • The story of TOME begins with one in the form of Alpha making a deal with the Forbidden Power, which comes back to bite him in a huge way later and becomes the main conflict of the series. Interestingly, during the Final Battle, Alpha convinces the Forbidden Power to make a deal with him when it's about to be deleted, which gives Alpha the edge in the fight against the Big Bad and ultimately lets the good guys win in the end. The trope also applies in TOME's predecessor series, Tv Tome Adventures.
  • In the first episode of Helluva Boss, "Murder Family", Blitzo unintentionally agrees to a deal with Stolas while he's busy being shot at. Since Stolas owns the magic book the imps use to enter the living world, and Stolas needs it sparingly for his own duties, Blitzo has to bring the book back to Stolas once a month on the full moon. Not only that, but during that night Blitzo has to sleep with Stolas to maintain the arrangement.

    Real Life 
  • While reliable evidence that Satan has ever actually bought anyone's soul is not available, some Theistic Satanists may claim to have sold their souls to him, or to have given themselves over to him.
  • There have been a few attempts of people selling their souls on eBay. Known examples include electronic musician Moby, who put his up as a Take That! to critics who felt he "sold out".
    • So did the atheist activist Hemant Mehta, who later wrote a book I Sold My Soul on eBay. Note that what he was actually selling was the right to have him attend a church of the winner's choice for a year. The soul thing was a gimmick.
    • eBay has, perhaps unsurprisingly, banned this practice, prohibiting the sale of items whose existence cannot be verified and deleting such listings as soon as they're discovered.
      "If the soul does not exist, eBay could not allow the auctioning of the soul because there would be nothing to sell. However, if the soul does exist then, in accordance with eBay's policy on human parts and remains, we would not allow the auctioning of human souls."
    • Somebody got around the ban by instead selling an autographed card of himself - the card being, naturally, a deed to the seller's soul.
  • In Latvia, a country hard hit by the 2007-9 economic crisis, the Kontora loan office is lending people money at high interest rates if they agree to use their souls as collateral. So far, about 200 people have taken Viktor Mirosiichenko up on his offer. They don't employ any debt collectors either...
    Mirosiichenko: "If they don't give [the money] back, what can you do? They won't have a soul, that's all."
  • British game retailer GameStation decided to make a point about online Terms & Conditions and how nobody ever reads them, by inserting a clause that the user gives up his soul to them. They later e-mailed all those who had agreed to the terms assuring them that they would be immediately nullifying any claim they had on their customers' souls. This happened on April Fools' Day, incidentally.

Alternative Title(s): Faustian Bargain, A Deal With The Devil


Alastor's Deal

Alastor makes an offer to Charlie to share information that will help her defeat Adam and The Exorcists provided that she will return the favor for him as well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / DealWithTheDevil

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