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"Even devils should beware when bargaining with Thanos of Titan."

A scheme concocted by the resident chessmaster or manipulative bastard ends up involving the manipulation of a supernatural entity. Such a plan may include the deity from the outset, or the deity may be integrated into the plan along the way. Yet despite being up against a deity, the mortal somehow pulls it off, making a fool out of something vastly more powerful than themselves.

Variants common enough to have their own tropes include Chess with Death, Faustian Rebellion (more likely to succeed if The Devil Is a Loser), and Wishplosion (when involving genies and other wish-granting entities). If successfully employed against a Trickster God, it's a case of Hoist by Their Own Petard. Overlaps with Fire Stolen from the Gods where this trope is used as a mythic origin of knowledge now held by mortals.

Contrast Evil Is Not a Toy when someone attempts to either invoke this trope, but fails.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • At the end of the (non-canon) second season of Black Butler, Ciel manages to pull this on Sebastian, with some help from Hannah and Alois. Contracted to have his soul eaten once their deal was complete, Ciel is turned into a demon himself; Sebastian can't eat the soul of another demon, meaning that he's trapped in a loophole and bound to serve his master for all eternity.
  • Lelouch of Code Geass manages to use his Geass on what can reasonably be described as God, taking control of it and forcing it to delete his parents from existence.
    Lelouch: "I don't intend to defeat God. This is a request."
  • Death Note:
    • This is the only way for a human to kill an otherwise-immortal Shinigami. Shinigami will die if they kill a human to prolong another human's life, since (as gods of death) they aren't meant to save lives. Light, world champion of the Gambit Roulette, manages to manipulate Rem, a Shinigami, into killing L and Watari in order to save Misa, and she dies cursing him as she crumbles to dust. Clever indeed — although Ryuk is not so easily manipulated.
    • Ryuk himself is revealed to have tricked the Shinigami King into giving him a second Death Note... how exactly he did this is unknown, but the Shinigami King is as far above the rest of the Shinigami as Shinigami are above humans, and Rem notes that it is extremely difficult to deceive the King.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Z deconstructs this trope in the Buu Arc. Super Buu demands to see the 'Strong Fighter'/Gotenks (Goten and Trunks fused together) he was promised by Goku. In an effort to buy some time, Piccolo suggests that Buu amuse himself by terrorizing the people of Earth while the fighter prepares himself, knowing they can be revived with the Dragon Balls. Super Buu manages to eradicate the human race, with one Beam Spam, in two minutes and never left Kami's Lookout while doing it. All of humanity had become a sacrificial lamb for the sake of giving Goten and Trunks just two more minutes to train in The Hyperbolic Time Chamber.
    • The Universe 6 arc of Dragon Ball Super has Frost, who manages to completely pull one over on Champa. Champa is a true, for-realsies God of Destruction, and with the exception of his assistant the strongest being in Universe 6.
  • One Piece:
    • Caesar Clown embezzled research funds from Big Mom, one of the Four Emperors, confident that he would be safe from her as long as he had the protection of Doflamingo (who in turn was a business partner of Big Mom's fellow Emperor, Kaido). Following his capture in the Punk Hazard arc and Doflamingo's arrest in the Dressrosa arc, however, that protection is reduced to dust, and Big Mom's subordinates seize the opportunity to retrieve Caesar so that he can deliver Big Mom the research he promised. In two weeks, or else.
    • Despite her immense, top-tier power and influence, Big Mom is fairly susceptible to this. Her mental instability and somewhat simpleminded nature occasionally leads to her falling for the tricks of much weaker foes, or even the tricks of her own child in the case of Charlotte Perospero's ruse during the last third of Whole Cake Island Arc.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, exactly how much of this, how much simple punching, and how much absolute dumb luck contributed to Joseph's defeat of Kars is up to Joseph himself, and he's not particularly truthful. Being a consummate Guile Hero, it is probably largely options one and three.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion executes this beautifully. The Angels are coming to merge with Adam and wipe out humanity. However, SEELE cloned Adam to make the Evas and kill off the Angels so that they can merge with Adam themselves, elevating humanity into a god. The "Adam" that the Angels search for isn't even actually Adam, and one of them realizes Adam is actually Lilith. At the same time, Gendo has the real Adam in his hands (literally), and is scheming to kill off the Angels then screw over SEELE by having Rei merge with both Adam and Lilith so that he can get his wife back. The Angels are none-the-wiser....
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka uses her single wish from Kyubey to erase all witches, throughout time, before they can come into existence. Nice job, Kyubey. And then he decides against cutting his losses and tries to scam her back, and From Bad to Worse doesn't even begin to cover what happens to him.
  • In Saint Seiya, Gemini Canon becomes infamous for this with his 13 year spanning scheme involving Poseidon and a holy war to Take Over the World. Also, the Gold Saints pull that on Hades one arc later.
  • In Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, with some help, Pope Sage managed to seal Thanatos into the Holy Coffer.
    Pope Sage, "I wouldn't be the Pope if I wasn't able to predict the next moves of the gods."

    Comic Books 
  • 2000 AD:
    • In Anderson: Psi-Division, Cassandra Anderson manages to make Satan blow himself up by forcing himself into a Douglas Adams-style self-contradiction.
    • In Judge Dredd, PJ Maybe is defending his new residence as the husband of an aging billionaire from looters and the infected during Chaos Day. Three of the Dark Judges, omnicidal life-hating ghosts, show up to kill everyone in sight. Maybe keeps his cool and manages to trap them inside a bottle after promising them new bodies.
  • The Avengers: Hawkeye manages to beat the Grandmaster, one of the Elders of the Universe, (who was at the time pitting the Avengers [or at least Captain America and Hawkeye, the only two still alive] in an endless series of games to the death) by convincing the Grandmaster to engage in a game of chance to make it more interesting. Hawkeye, of course, wins. He did, after all, cheat.
  • Black Panther, being The Chessmaster he is, pulled this off with Mephisto. The Black Panther pledged his soul to Mephisto in exchange for Mephisto agreeing to depower an enemy of the Panther's that he had given great demonic power to. Mephisto lived up to his end of the bargain, and so did the Panther... but when Mephisto tried to claim the Panther's soul, Mephisto found that it was linked to the souls of the Panther God and every single previous Black Panther warrior in existence, whose sheer goodness threatened to destroy him. Mephisto requested that the Black Panther agree to release him from the pact, and the Panther agreed.
  • In Emperor Joker, Mr. Mxyzptlk decides to give The Joker 1% of his power to see what he would do with it, but Joker tricks him into giving 99.99%. Which makes it fitting when Superman defeats him by turning Batman into a Mind Virus (the Joker's obsession with Batman keeps bringing him back and his fear when Superman points out he can't control it makes Batman ever larger and more ominous until the Joker is overwhelmed.)
  • Fables:
    • Jack Horner's signature ability. Although half of his schemes fails miserably, his successes outclass his failures. Jack once managed to trick a whole legion of Devils (including Lucifer, Chernabog, and Old Nick) into making him nigh-immortal.
    • Then there was the time where he defeated the Devil in poker, and the time he trapped the Grim Reaper in a Bag of Holding.
  • 52: Ralph Dibney uses his own death to trap Neron, DC's Devil stand-in, in stasis forever.
  • John Constantine, the Hellblazer, is the Trope Codifier. In what may be Constantine's highest Moment of Awesome, the First of the Fallen, aka Satan, tried to get Constantine's soul, so Constantine sold his soul to two of the most powerful demons in Hell at once, which would force them into a war with each other and leave Hell open to a full-out assault from Heaven, leaving them no choice but to cure his terminal lung cancer and keep him alive. And then he flipped them off—the logic being that if he died someone had to claim him, and since each one of the three Fallen had a claim to his soul, just giving it up to another would be a sign of weakness. And if they actually went to war with each other over it, Heaven would take advantage of the chaos and invade. Mind you, this whole thing backfired when the First of the Fallen decided to simply kill his fellow rulers and come after Constantine himself....
    • Then there's the reason the First of the Fallen did this: John had found out that his dying friend Brendan had sold his soul to the First of the Fallen. Five minutes before Brendan's soul ended up in the First's clutches, John suggested they share a toast. Brendan had this magic working that turns an underground spring into pure stout. John and the First shared a drink, then John revealed the spring was blessed by a saint, so technically, the base of what the First just drank was holy water. And then the spell expired, and the First had a glassful of holy water in his gut, disrupting his body long enough for Brendan to slip away to Heaven.
    • When the First of the Fallen killed his fellow lords of Hell, this left John in a very tight position. He even contemplated just dying, since his girlfriend, Kit Ryan, left him. But John, being a Magnificent Bastard, hadn’t given up yet and decided to use a Gambit Roulette. The first came when he made a scheme to recruit the Archangel Gabriel. He did this by using a succubus to seduce Gabriel that led to his banishment from Heaven. The plan soon failed when the First got wind of the plan from one of John's friends, and killed Gabriel. With his first plan having failed, John made a second gambit by surrendering himself to the First. John entertained him with a series of his own ideas of the world that contradicted that of the Devil's. While chatting, John's succubus friend stabbed The First with the Twin Blade, a knife that can kill anyone—even the First—with one strike. The First died... or did he?
    • The two would soon meet again in the Critical Mass storyline, when the First was resurrected by God as a mortal as part of his new punishment. The First plotted his revenge on Constantine by using the Archdemon Buer to take the soul of the son of Constantine's friend as hostage. In return for the child and his safety, John had to offer his soul to the First by means of suicide. In a standoff (and with no way out), John chose to save the child by taking the deal with the First, killing himself by stabbing his abdomen. The First then took John's soul to Hell to be tormented for all the humiliation John did to him and Hell itself. When the First thought he already won, John later reappeared unharmed. John then told the First that before the confrontation he collected all the bad side of his soul, formed it into his image, and had that part of him sent to Hell, while the good side stayed safe. The First was yet again fooled. Speaking of God...
    • John Constantine, being a conman, has screwed a lot of gods from different religions and mythologies, but none can compare to the events in Hellblazer Issue 128. With the First and other of his enemies still on John's tail to take his soul to Hell, John decided to have a face-to-face talk with the Judeo-Christian God—the most powerful being in whole existence and the God of all Gods. During their campfire discussion, John literally blackmailed God by saying that if his soul goes to Hell, he has the necessary skills and cunning to easily take it over. God, who knew of John's reputation and what he could do, was forced to save John's soul and forever keep him out of the reach of Hell and its minions. Though, being that God is The Omniscient, perhaps John wasn't the one pulling the con...
  • Justice League: In a '90s story, an alien arrives on Earth claiming he is the legal owner of Earth and demanding its evacuation so he can terraform it. After proving unable to defeat him physically, Superman instead offers to buy the Earth back and has Guy Gardner fill the alien’s cargo bay with enough (fake) currency to pay for it. The alien agrees to the terms and returns to his own galaxy, thankfully returning to suspended animation for the trip back before Guy’s fake money evaporates. The League lampshades that this is the first time they ever defeated a foe by scamming them.
  • The Magus' Batman Gambit in The Infinity War miniseries involved the manipulation of some of the Marvel Universe's most powerful cosmic beings, from Galactus up to Eternity and even the Living Tribunal. And he himself was outmaneuvered by Adam Warlock and Thanos of Titan.
  • Loki has managed to scam Mephisto on at least two - possibly more - occasions in just the last few years of publishing. And since Mephisto regards Loki as a Worthy Opponent (which is about as close as the Devil gets to having a friend), he usually laughs it off. (It helps that they're both immortals, so a loss today isn't that big a deal to them.)
  • Seen at in at least two instances in the comics Preacher which results in God getting killed (yes, that means the Christian God, who is the Big Bad of the series).
    • The protagonist Jesse Custer met up with the Saint of Killers to plan for God's demise. The Saint called him out on his plan, saying that it would be nigh-impossible to kill God as long as he was on his throne. But Jesse suggested that he would use himself as bait to get God off his throne. This would give the Saint the chance to come up to Heaven, destroy the whole Heavenly Host, and wait for God there and kill him.
    • Cassidy himself pulls off a clever scam with God that resulted in him getting cured of his vampirism and unwittingly helped Jesse and the Saint in killing God. Cassidy didn't know of Jesse's deal with the Saint of Killers which would result in God's demise. Cassidy's deal basically spelled out, "I'll bring you Jesse so you can kill him (and thus kill Genesis) on the condition we both leave alive." The deal was honored: Jesse dies, then comes back, and Cassidy becomes human again. It's only coincidence that Jesse planned to get himself killed anyway. It was the only way God would be comfortable enough to return to Heaven. Only thing is, the Saint of Killers would be waiting for Him for some much-overdue payback, armed with a gun forged from the metal of the Angel of Death's sword.
  • In Queen Sonja #20, Evil Sorcerer Thulsa Doom tricks an Elder God into giving him enough of its power that he is able to kill it.
  • Speaking of Thanos, he also at one point scammed Mephisto. "You wanted a cosmic cube but didn't specify it had to be functioning..."
  • In Superior, it looks like the demon Ornom has succeeded in forcing kid Simon to sell his soul in exchange for becoming the super-hero Superior and gloats on winning the deal before the allotted time is up.. Simon's new friend Madeline shows up and details how Ornom has missed one key item: Superior is a figure so powerful that even his cells will keep going on if his body is destroyed and thus can never truly die. And if someone can never die...then how is Ornom going to collect his soul? Too late, Ornom realizes he's screwed just as his fellow demons drag him to Hell, mocking him all the way for falling for this loophole.
  • The Transformers (Marvel):
    • Galvatron in the Marvel comic pulled one on Primus, making him believe Autobot and Decepticon alike had finally put their differences aside for the greater good, all so Galvatron could take revenge on Unicron.
    "HAH! For all their supposed omnipotence... Even gods can be conned!"
    • This was somewhat easier than it sounds, as Primus had become so senile that he didn't even notice Unicron's approach until Unicron was right in front of him, and even then it took Kup to actually point it out.
  • In Triumph and Torment, Doctor Doom manages to trick Mephisto into doing what he wants.
  • In DC Comics' Underworld Unleashed, the Trickster, in a Heel–Face Turn, managed to scam the Devil.
  • In Watchmen, Veidt's master plan involves the manipulation of pretty much the entire rest of the cast, up to and including Dr. Manhattan, an energy being of unimaginable power who can normally see the future as clearly as he can see the present.
  • Wolverine, of all people outdoes them both in a What If? issue, "Newer Fantastic Four". Thanos is in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet, with Mephisto as his advisor, and Wolverine outwits them both by manipulating Thanos' love of Death against him.
  • In Phil Foglio's Xxxenophile, a friendly version of this occurs between a woman and her genie lover. Her wish to free him is stymied; in order to be freed, he must be commanded to perform a task that he wishes to, but cannot, perform. She accomplishes this by engaging in a marathon love-making session and then wishing, immediately after, that he repeat the act. Even genies have limits.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In "Ivan Turbincă", the titular character cheats Death into leaving him alone, thus gaining immortality.
  • Alexander Afanasyev's "The Soldier And Death": Deconstructed. The soldier manages to cheat the Devil and his brethren, and even Death itself, with the result that neither of them wants anything to do with the soldier when he really needs them. Likewise, he tries to cheat his way into Heaven, but God is not fooled by his trick.

    Fan Works 
  • Stan Pines in A Strange Engagement managed to come out on top in a game of High Stakes Poker involving Bill Cipher, HIM, Aku, Danny Phantom, Morrigan, Grim, and Sirzechs Lucifer. It probably helps that he was new to the game and all of the other players were too busy trying to screw each other over to notice him.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist fanfic build your wings on the way down Edward exploits the fact that the Gate is bound to follow its own rules when reversing Nina's chimera transmutation. So despite the Gate wanting to screw Ed over, it has to give Ed the allotted energy when Ed trades Alexander for Nina.
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Doctor Stephen Strange who as the Sorcerer Supreme, does this sort of thing both professionally and for fun. For instance, the main plot of the series is essentially the foreground of a time-travel based Gambit Roulette set in motion by him involving, amongst others, Loki, a Magnificent Bastard in his own right, Odin, who's even better than Loki (after all, he taught him), Chthon, the various higher-ups of SHIELD, MI13, HYDRA, and the Red Room (who are Manipulative Bastards of necessity), Doctor Doom, and at least four of the Endless. Including Destruction, who is here perhaps better known as The Phoenix Force. He's played them all, and many more besides, without lying even once.
    • John Constantine also appears a couple of times, though he doesn't manipulate anyone while onscreen. Mention is, however, made of the "tricking three arch-demons to cure his lung cancer" incident (which means that he conned Lucifer), as well as an incident involving the Zataras.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 fic The Game, Ursarkar E. Creed outplays Tzeentch - Chaos God of Hope, who has also played Gambit Roulette for his entire existence - at chess, in a deal that stops Tzeentch from ever interfering with humanity ever again. This stems from a plausibly exploitable rule in the 40K game where Creed can hide heavy equipment in ridiculously implausible locations due to his Tactical Genius, like building-sized Baneblade tanks behind a lamppost, or an entire regiment of Kasrkin in the enemy general's bathroom, or a Titan in a spent firearm shell.
  • Harbinger (Finmonster) (Danny Phantom, ParaNorman): How Danny's ancestor won his Chess with Death. Basically, he knew he couldn't win against Death (who couldn't just take his wife's soul due to the seal he had set up before committing suicide so he could try to keep her alive) so he tricked Death into a draw, knowing that the Reaper had other duties and couldn't take any longer than he already had.
  • Hours 'Verse: In Patchwork Hearts, Akira recounts how he pranked Minato and Ryoji back in Facing the Sun, before trailing off in bemusement by the realisation that pranking Minato means he pranked the most powerful Wild Card on the planet. It doesn't help when Sumire tells him that not many people can truthfully boast that they managed to get one over on the living manifestation of death itself.
  • In Son of the Sannin, Naruto threatens to turn himself over to Akatsuki and let Kurama be sealed in the Gedo Mazo statue (which he considers to be a Fate Worse than Death) if he doesn't supply the necessary chakra to save Gaara's life with a transfusion. Naruto later admits that he was bluffing.
  • In A.A. Pessimal's Discworld saga Strandpiel, the Dungeon Dimension Things make a determined play to break into the world via a susceptible human. The human intermediary they choose to act as their agent is eight-year-old Ruth Smith-Rhodes-Stibbons, daughter of wizard Ponder. Ruth has just enough magic to make her interesting to the Things. She is also a gifted artist. The Things reason that a talented artist with a gift for drawing exactly what she sees can make them Real in the world when their likenesses circulate, to act on the imaginations of those who see them and thus to inculcate belief - and to give them a foothold in people's heads. Abducted to the Dungeon Dimensions, Ruth submits to becoming artist-in-residence to the Things and makes lots of drawings. But she is also the daughter of Assassin Johanna Smith-Rhodes. And takes after her mother, too. Ruth has an inhumation strategy planned all along. Paper burns. And she has a box of matches in her pocket. Once she has got their likenesses, she uses Sympathetic Magic against them..

    Films — Animated 
  • The title character in Aladdin manages to trick his newfound genie servant into freeing him from a sealed cavern without making a wish by prodding the genie's ego. Genie realizes too late he's been played, so he warns that Aladdin won't get any more "freebies". Later on, when Aladdin is drowning and couldn't reasonably wish for rescue, the genie just takes it for granted that he would wish for it and does so, still counting it as a wish (he takes Aladdin "nodding" as a yes, though this was just Aladdin's head was dropping from lack of oxygen). And at the end of the movie, Aladdin tricks Jafar into turning himself into a genie, only to remind him that genies are bound to servitude in lamps. When Jafar went after Aladdin in the sequel he had the handicap of being unable to directly kill Aladdin or his allies, though he's not above plain torturing them or tricking others into doing the job for him.
  • In Coraline, the eponymous character does this to the Beldam, the demonic master of a pocket universe who needs to consume the souls of children to live. Frustrated with a boring life and uncaring parents, Coraline is enticed into the Beldam's world which appears as an ideal version of her own home and family. The kicker comes when she is prevented from leaving and imprisoned when she refuses to give up her soul (by having buttons sewed onto her eyes, like all creatures in the Beldam's world) and her real parents are captured and held hostage by the Beldam to force Coraline to give in. Coraline makes a deal with the Beldam to play a game by betting she can find the souls of three previous children taken by the Beldam along with her parents. Knowing the Beldam won't concede if Coraline wins, she pretends to lose before stealing the key back to her own world and escaping with her parents to safety. That happens in the book as well, although the movie makes Coraline's plight more desperate. In the book, the Other Parents willingly allow her to go home, but kidnap her parents and then try to trick her into thinking that they just abandoned her. In the movie, they don't magically return her home after she refuses (which she was expecting) and she has to escape home herself, only to find her parents being held hostage and forcing her to return to the Other World.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Avengers (2012), Black Widow pretends that Loki's taunting is affecting her more than it actually is (she even pretends to cry). In his arrogance, he makes a comment that allows her to figure out his scheme, and she thanks him. The look on the God of Lies' face when he realizes he's been tricked is priceless.
  • In Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, the boys first attempt to escape death by giving the Grim Reaper a wedgie and running. When they get cast into Hell, they win their souls back and continue on their quest to stop the Big Bad by challenging the Reaper to games like Battleship and electronic football (which he doesn't play, unlike chess) that they're experts at.
  • In Constantine (2005), the film version of Hellblazer, the titular character manages to defeat the film's Big Bad by attempting suicide, knowing that Satan will personally come to collect his soul, at which point Satan will realize what's going on and stop the Big Bad, whose attempt to start the apocalypse early would screw up Satan's plans. Satan shows his gratitude by offering Constantine a favor, and he asks that a wrongfully damned soul go to Heaven. Satan then realizes too late that Constantine had just performed a Heroic Sacrifice, which allowed him to go to Heaven as well despite committing suicide. Satan instead resurrects Constantine and cures him of his lung cancer in hopes that he will sin again.
  • In the short film Dave Vs. Death, Dave challenges Death to a game of chess after he dies, with each piece he loses costing him the life of one of his loved ones. Death eventually checkmates Dave, but didn't know that Dave actually hated all his friends (who were either unfaithful to him or plotting behind his back), who then gloats about the fact that he tricked the eater of souls himself. Death briefly goes into a Do Not Taunt Cthulhu tirade, but ultimately proves himself a sporting lad and offers another game of chess.
  • In the The Devil's Advocate, Kevin Lomax succeeds in his suicide attempt, undoing the Devil's entire scheme. But the Devil is not so easily denied.
  • In the climax of Doctor Strange (2016), the good Doctor manages to beat Dormammu, inhabitant of the Dark Dimension, by entering it as he magically creates a loop of repeating time. The Dark Dimension normally lacks any aspect of time so, although Dormammu can effortlessly kill Strange — and does so, repeatedly — Strange dying keeps resetting the loop until Dormammu is begging him to make the time-loop stop, and agrees to retreat from the Earth and never bother it again so Strange will release the loop. When Dormammu tells Strange that the latter cannot win their confrontation, Strange replies: "No. But I can lose. Again and again and again and again, forever. And that makes you my prisoner."
  • In the Short Film The Happiness Salesman, a Salesman who is later implied to be a demonic servant of the devil greets Karen, a beleagured housewife with a crying child, and offers her freedom from her life of stress and drudgery, plus a great destiny as a rich and famous celebrity. He gives her a laptop with a DVD that will show her any point in her future if she accepts his offer. Rather than use it to see how great her life will be years from now if she accepts, she uses it to discover what will happen five minutes after she accepts, allowing to her to discover what the "payment" is when she sees a demonic version of the Salesman preparing to consume her child. She promptly refuses his offer.
  • Davy Jones gets this in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, although who it is that actually scammed him is up for debate. It took the combined conflicting efforts of possibly the three smartest/wittiest/cleverest Brits in the Caribbean to steal his heart, though James Norrington walks away with the heart and documents at the end of the film.
  • V'Ger of Star Trek: The Motion Picture effortlessly destroys anything that affronts it — including a Klingon task force of three battlecruisers — on its way to Earth. Depending on the cut of the film you're watching, the energy field that V'Ger creates around itself has a diameter either greater than that of the solar system, or just greater than Earth's orbit around the sun. When it arrives at Earth, the machine casually prepares to obliterate the planet's biosphere. None of that stops Jim Kirk from playing chicken with V'Ger, and winning; making the leviathan stand down by threatening to not reveal who its creator is if it doesn't. It should be noted that at this point in the film, Kirk had no idea who V'Ger's creator was.
  • The way the heroine from the first Wishmaster movie gets the best of the evil Jackass Genie. He can't grant a wish that directly affects him, so she can't just wish that he stuffs himself back in his lamp. She's down to her third and final wish, and after she makes that wish he'll be free to run amok and destroy the world, and he's forcing her to take action by murdering and torturing people around the heroine. So, with some clever thinking, she comes up with a wish that will work: she wishes that a specific crane operator hadn't been drunk on the job a few days ago. That crane operator had dropped and destroyed the statue that the genie had been trapped inside of, so the wish undoes everything the genie had done and winds up with him imprisoned again.

  • One joke involves a man in a hat making a Deal with the Devil in exchange for all his earthly desires to be granted. Years later, the devil returns to collect, only for the man to remove his hat, revealing a magnificent flame-red mane. The joke, of course, being that gingers have no souls.

  • American Gods has Cthulhu scamming other Cthulhus - all the gods are being manipulated by Mr. Wednesday (the American offshoot of Odin) and Mr. World (the American offshoot of Loki). They convinced the old and new gods respectively that there wasn't enough belief to go around and that they should start a war with each other. Odin and Loki then arranged circumstances so they could not only have many of their rivals off each other, but also draw power from the ensuing carnage by having Loki symbolically dedicate it to Odin beforehand, turning the bloodbath into a blood sacrifice.
  • Happens in one book of Animorphs when a Yeerk steals the Time Matrix and rewrites history. The Animorphs get to go back and stop him, in exchange for the one of the Animorphs dying. Jake dies to honor the deal, but the team gets around this and brings Jake back to life by using the Time Matrix to prevent the birth of the Yeerk's host, thus preventing it from ever finding the Time Matrix and preventing the Yeerk's rewriting from ever happening, thus accomplishing what they set out to do without losing anybody.
  • Many people outsmart genies in the Arabian Nights. One of the more memorable is also one of the simplest: a fisherman finds a genie trapped in a bottle who tells him to choose how he wishes to die. The fisherman just can't believe such a huge genie fit in a small bottle, and the genie is very proud and doesn't like hearing such a challenge to his powers, so he goes back in and the fisherman puts the lid back on. After that, the genie is much more helpful.
  • The Belgariad:
    • In the Backstory, the prophet Gorim managed to shanghai UL, the Father of all the Gods. Initially, UL was not a part of creation, and abstained while his sons (also Gods) created the world. After all of the Gods had chosen a race of humans that pleased them as their chosen people, there were some humans left over, the Godless Ones, who languished without a God. One among them, Gorim, managed to find UL and shame him into becoming their God (and also the God of all monsters, those creatures who were imperfect because UL did not participate in their creation). Fairly impressive, overall. And he did it basically by sitting there and waiting. For several hundred years. The mention of it came at the time when Belgarath and his Master (One of those gods behind the creation scheme) were unable to find UL and his people. Belgarath wonders if he perhaps abandoned them again since the new Gorim was particularly irritating.
    • That's not the only time, either. In-universe, the existence of the book Polgara the Sorceress is predicated on Ce'Nedra figuring out the buttons of an immortal sorceress who's older than the country of Sendaria. Or more accurately two such sorceresses, since getting Polgara to do it required convincing Polgara's mother to weigh in on her side.
  • Belisarius Series had several medieval Europeans able to outwit Link, a superrobot from millions of years in the future. Most notably Belisarius but also Damadora and Narses. Narses actually managed to deceive Link looking right in her face, in spite of the ability to otherwise tell when someone is lying to her.
  • The men of the city of Gibil do this to the gods all throughout the story of Between the Rivers by Harry Turtledove. The Moment of Awesome came when Sharur performed a Fake Defector gambit to fool the enemy god Enimhursag, so that Enimhursag believed that Sharur was betraying his home city, Gibil, against their hated enemies, the city of Imhursag. And Sharur successfully deceived the god even though he had to invite Enimhursag read Sharur's mind to see if he was lying.
  • In a side story of A Certain Magical Index, the Amakusa Church prevents R'leyh from rising by making it seem like Cthulhu had already defeated them; because of the way magic works in the setting, the spell became nonfunctional once no humans remained to terrorize.
  • In the Larry Niven short story "Convergent Series", a man deals with a demon he's semi-accidentally summoned by asking the demon to freeze time for a bit, then redrawing the summoning pentagram on the demon's belly, trapping the demon in a paradox. The mechanics of the summoning requires that the demon has to fit inside the pentagram, and because it's drawn on his belly, when he shrinks himself down to fit in the pentagram, the pentagram shrinks as well.
  • "The Devil and Daniel Webster": This classic of the form has a struggling New Hampshire farmer named Jabez Stone sell his soul to the Devil in return for seven years of good luck. When the Devil comes to collect, Stone gets Dan'l Webster as his lawyer, and Dan'l must face Old Scratch in a trial for Stone's soul.
  • In the short story The Devil and Simon Flagg, mathematician Simon Flagg summons the Devil and makes a bet with him: that the Devil can't answer one question within 24 hours. The Devil tells him that paradox and Logic Bomb questions are forbidden and that the question asked must have an answer. Flagg accepts this and asks his question: "Is Fermat's Last Theorem correct?" Well, it's not a paradox or a logic bomb, and it clearly does have an answer, yes or no, so the Devil is stuck. The Devil spends most of the allotted time learning a few Ph.D.s worth of mathematics without making substantial progress toward answering the question. And, of course, this is 40 years before Wiles published his proof so there's no easy way out.
  • Discworld:
    • In The Last Hero, Cohen the Barbarian has to sell a God Guise by rolling a 7 on a six-sided dice. Being a Hero, he tosses the die in the air and slices it in half with his sword, so that the pieces land on a 1 and 6. Notably, he drew inspiration from an in-universe version of the Gordian knot story, and while his companions declared it to be cheating, Cohen must have reckoned there's no reason to play fair with gods, who aren't known for their tendency to do so.
    • In Maskerade, Granny Weatherwax challenges Death to a poker game over the soul of a dying child. Granny initially tries to cheat, but Death insists they swap hands - and then concedes, because Granny ends up with four Queens, leaving Death with only "four ones." Of course, Granny would've broken his arm if she'd lost, but still.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry often comes off as a meathead, but he can play the game when he needs to.
    • In Small Favor, as part of a Faerie power play, the Summer Court sends the Three Billy Goats Gruff (actually fae hitmen, each one more powerful than the last) after Harry. A whole lot of shenanigans later, the last one, Eldest Gruff, has cornered Harry. Eldest Gruff doesn't really want to kill Harry since the mess has been resolved by that point but is obligated two as long as they both remain on the "field of battle"- i.e. Demonreach Island, where the climax is taking place. Luckily for Harry, the events of an earlier book mean that Summer owes him a favor, but unluckily, he can't ask Eldest Gruff to spare his life. So instead, he asks for a donut. With white frosting and sprinkles, but no jelly. And not a magically conjured donut, but a real one from a bakery. Given that they're in the middle of the Great Lakes, in the time it takes Eldest Gruff to buy the donut and return, Harry will have solved the book's conflict and be off Demonreach, and thus no longer a valid target. Gruff, seeing the point and finding it both appropriate and hilarious, acquiesces and gets Harry a hot coffee to go with it. Later books reveal that the entire Summer Court was laughing about it for days.
    • In Changes, Harry seizes on a sarcastic remark to save his life: When he accidentally ends up in the home of the king of the wild hunt (who really, really wants to kill Harry), who sarcastically greets him, Harry instead interprets the greeting literally, invoking Sacred Hospitality to prevent anyone present from harming him. The King found this amusing enough to permit it.note 
    • Mab makes this an explicit part of Harry's job in Skin Game. Due to an old favor she owes, Harry has to help Nicodemus on a heist. Both parties know the others aren't trustworthy (the Denarians are backstab addicts and Mab has a grudge against them and is good at the long game), but can't afford to be the one to break the agreement. When Harry discusses the job with Mab, she makes it clear that she expects that Harry and Nicodemus will try to screw each other over, she just wants him to come out ahead in the backstabbing contest by making sure that Nicodemus doesn't get what he wants and is left holding the bag. Harry succeeds by subverting Goodman Grey before the heist and then mocking Deirdre's death to Nicodemus to get him to break the agreement first by trying to kill Harry, thus allowing Harry to retaliate and permanently tarnishing his word.
  • Izaya Orihara of Durarara!! fame, who screws with everyone every chance he gets. Celty and Saika included.
  • Fablehaven concludes this way after the good guys amass their forces to oppose the threat of a demonic army escaping its can. After the demons do break loose, those that survive the battle divert their attention to invading and raiding the Fairy Queen's domain, since the portal to her realm is still open after she led her troops into combat. The Fairy Queen and her entourage proceed to seal the demons into that now-vacant realm and set up shop in the demons' old prison.
  • Grimms Fairy Tales: "The Peasant and the Devil", in which a peasant scams the devil out of his due repeatedly thanks to the peasant's knowledge of which crops to plant as to guarantee he always got the best part of the deal. (Other similar tales are categorized as Aarne-Thompson type 1030.)
  • In the fairy tale "The Three Brothers" in Harry Potter, all three brothers are granted "gifts" from Death, who is actually mad at them for using magic to stay alive. The first two request items of great power which lead to their downfall and Death collects them swiftly. The third brother, however, recognizes why Death is offering these favors and asks for an item that would make it so not even Death could find him. Death is forced to surrender his own invisibility cloak and the third brother leaves unmolested. He chooses to die at a very advanced age and "greets Death as an old friend."
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyon forces the near-godlike Data Overmind to back down by threatening to provoke the even more godlike Haruhi into recreating the universe with him, to a place where the Overmind would not exist. Did You Just Blackmail Cthulhu?
  • In the Robert Bloch short story, "That Hellbound Train", features a protagonist who just barely manages to outwit Satan after trading his soul for a watch that can stop time. He goes through his entire life, never finding the perfect moment, and as he's dying the Devil tells him that he's given the same watch away dozens of times. As he rides the titular train, he realizes that a) everyone is partying like it's their last chance, because it is and b) Satan hasn't taken the watch yet!
  • In His Dark Materials, Mrs Coulter successfully lies to Metatron of all creatures, who is explicitly stated to be able to read her heart and/or mind, by manipulating his desire to be corporeal.
  • Johannes Cabal the Necromancer: Johannes pulls a Kansas City Shuffle on Satan to prevent giving him an ownership contract for an innocent woman's soul. He first offers to trade Satan a box of soul contracts, then accedes to Satan's demand for the contracts in the box instead, having already removed the woman's contract from the box.
  • Journey to Chaos: At the end of Journey to Chaos, Nunnal is revealed to have Order himself into not only wasting resources and freeing elves, but also preventing him from ever invading her village again. It was basically a high stakes bet; she allows him into Dnnac Ledo to thwart the Mana Mutation Summit and prevent its agreements going forward, in exchange for several conditions. The catch was that if he failed, he couldn't try again later. Little did he know that Nunnal's adoptive daughter and houseguest prepared a plan to destroy his vessel and repel him.
  • KonoSuba: Midway through the series, Aqua ends up purchasing a young hatching which she names Emperor Zell for 75 million Eris that she claims to be a dragon, but suspiciously looks and acts like an ordinary fowl chick and continuously pours her divine energy into the hatchling since it would empower him once he evolved if he truly is a dragon. In the end, when Emperor Zell finally evolves, he transforms into a regular full grown chicken, revealing that Aqua really was just scammed out of her money thanks to her low intelligence stat.
  • Land of Oz: Oscar Diggs, a third-rate Nebraska con artist, used nothing more than a combination of parlor tricks, late 19th century technology, brains, misdirection, and an amazing ability to bullshit to effectively muscle his way into power and force four of the most powerful magic users in Nonestica into an Enforced Cold War with himself as the unquestioned ultimate ruler, the Wizard of Oz. It went pretty well for him for nearly fifteen years, until a little girl from Kansas exposed the scam.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: Sauron the chess GRANDmaster of Middle-Earth was outwitted by the Kansas City Shuffle directing him away from Frodo. It helped that Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.
  • Janus from Maledicte pulls this off against the goddess possessing his cross-dressing girlfriend, trapping said goddess inside her with a recursive paradox that made her incapable of ever trying to kill him.
  • Happens to an extent in The Silmarillion—specifically, the story of the Downfall of Númenor, where Sauron manipulates Eru Ilúvatar into destroying the Númenórean empire for him. Also subverted in that Sauron only intended for the Valar to get involved, and the amount of power Ilúvatar was packing was enough to kill Sauron as well. Of course as anyone who's read The Lord of the Rings could tell you, Sauron came Back from the Dead, and at any rate it's impressive to set up a situation where God wipes out your enemies for you in a 'verse where God is both competent and good. It was implied that Númenórean dominion over the world had in the end become worse than Sauron's ever was, so Eru may simply have chosen lesser evil.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign:
    • This is the main way in which Kyousuke achieves his victories over the White Queen, by exploiting his understanding of her psychology and her love for him. For example, in the last battle in the first volume, he deliberately summons the Black Maw, another Eldritch Abomination that normally kills its own summoner. The Queen is therefore forced to fight the Black Maw to save Kyousuke, and is (temporarily) destroyed as a result. That said, it's hinted that the Queen is smarter than she lets on and only pretends to fall for Kyousuke's tricks because of her aforementioned love for him.
    • Another attempt at doing this to the White Queen is the reason for her Start of Darkness. A number of people, including Kyousuke's adoptive siblings, tried to gain control over the White Queen by copying Kyousuke's voice and behavior. This initially worked (to the point that the Queen split into multiple bodies to follow each impersonator around). However, when she saw the real Kyousuke, she realized the deception and killed almost all of the impersonators.
  • In the Uplift series, every scam Earth clan tries to pull on the ancient, Sufficiently Advanced Aliens backfires, until the very end of the series when they manage a doozy... accidentally, with a lie so ridiculous they never expected it to do more than buy them a few seconds. Even more impressively, what actually clinched the deal wasn't a deception at all, but the enemy misinterpreting a genuine offer of surrender.
  • In We Are Not All Made Of Colour, the Dark Mage Gorog is defeated when Gwynn goads him into "admitting" that he's mortal. Because Gorog has infinite power, "admitting" that he's mortal causes him to become mortal, and Gorog - being 360,000 years old - was long overdue to die by mortal standards. He promptly turns into dust.
  • In the second book of the Xanth series, Bink wonders if his magical talent of bizarre luck preventing him from ever being hurt by magic actually manipulated events so that the Source of All Magic the demon Xanth decided to play nice in the end and not destroy everything.
  • In one short story by Brian Jacques (yes, That one), a kid traded his soul so he could lie better, and ended up convincing the devil he's illiterate, voiding their soul contract, and got an angel to agree to come over to his house for cake - the latter implying he wasn't using his supernaturally-enhanced lying skills.

    Live Action TV 
  • Angel manages to manipulate the Circle of the Black Thorn for most of Season Five.
  • Both Londo and Sheridan manage to do this to the Shadows in season four of Babylon 5.
  • Stephen Colbert had a recurring segment called "Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA." The graphic shows Stephen in a lab coat playing chess with Death. He cheats. In his final installment in the Grand Finale, Death, instead of giving a "Seriously?" gesture, starts strangling Stephen, who shoots Death with Sweetness.
  • Channel Zero: The Candle Cove story ends with this. The force behind the titular Show Within a Show, Eddie Painter's ghost, forces Mike into entering his realm and accepting a Grand Theft Me by kidnapping his daughter. Once she's free, Mike distracts Eddie by talking him into playing out a game of cards they never finished years earlier. And while Eddie wins it, they're distracted long enough for Mike's mother to Mercy Kill Mike's comatose body, thus trapping both Mike's spirit and Eddie in the latter's realm forever.
  • Doctor Who:
    • This is one of the Doctor's favorite tactics on, particularly his seventh incarnation. For instance, in "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" he outwitted the Gods of Ragnarok and in "The Curse of Fenric", he out-gambitted the titular character who is defined as being an Eldritch Abomination and a Chess Master. Four lifetimes later in "Blink," he tricked a group of Weeping Angels into looking at each other (immobilizing them, since Weeping Angels can't move while being observed).
    • If you count the Doctor as Cthulhu, the (very) few times somebody runs a truly effective scam on the Doctor also apply. One scammer even noted it was an honor to have gotten him with the same scam twice.
  • In Good Omens, Crowley and Aziraphale are accused of treason to Hell and Heaven, respectively, and are sentenced to execution by holy water and hellfire, respectively. However, when both aren't inconvenienced by the method of execution in the slightest, their superiors are forced to acquiesce to their demands of leaving them alone on Earth. It turns out that they correctly interpreted Agnes Nutter's final prophecy and swapped appearances just before being captured. The rest was all acting on their part.
  • In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Autolycus, King of Thieves, once managed to steal Hermes's winged sandals right off of his feet.
  • Happened in Star Trek multiple times, with godlike beings practically being a franchise staple.
  • Supernatural:
    • Lucifer manages to trap The Grim Reaper into his servitude. Death, who is very annoyed that he's being leashed by a petulant child with daddy issues (...yes, that is how Death perceives the Devil), proves that it's not a good idea to piss off an eternal and infinite force of nature by ignoring Lucifer's orders and actually helping the Winchesters against him.
    • Subverted in "Appointment In Samarra" when Dean tries to blackmail Death into helping him by using Death's ring (which Death previously loaned to Dean) as leverage. Death notes that Dean's gamble assumes that he doesn't already know the location of his own weapon, but he remains open to an equal exchange and asks Dean to become him for a single day.
    • In season 7's first episode "Meet the New Boss", the Winchesters attempt to bind Death themselves in a last-ditch effort to stop the newly godlike Castiel. Death warns them that it won't end well for them, but he doesn't follow through on his threat after the new villain unbinds Death's restraints because the "mutated angel" is a bigger concern for him.
  • A magnificent example: "I of Newton" from The Twilight Zone (1985). A professor (Sherman Helmsley) trying to solve a mathematical problem accidentally summons the Devil (Ron Glass). The professor is allowed to ask three questions regarding his powers, and then a final question (or task) in exchange for his soul; if the Devil can't do it, the deal is forfeit and he keeps his soul. Since it turns out the Devil has no physical limitations to his powers and can return from any place he's sent, the task "Get lost!" is impossible...
  • In Wizards of Waverly Place it happens in part two of the "Wizards VS Angels" special:
    Alex: "We might pay for this later, but I think I just manipulated an angel..."
  • Xena: Warrior Princess:
    • In "The Reckoning", Ares frames Xena for several murders that get her arrested and put on death row. In an attempt to get her to return to the dark side, he promises that she can call on him to summon anyone she asks for, alive or dead, to help her, believing she will call on an army to massacre the people holding her. Instead, she asks to bring back the people who were murdered, who clear Xena's name. Ares is a Graceful Loser, complimenting her cleverness and allowing the people he brought back to remain alive.
    • In "The Furies", the Furies seek to punish Xena for not avenging the death of her father. Her mother was the one who killed her father (because he went mad), and Xena doesn't want to kill her. Out of nowhere, Xena claims that her father isn't dead, because Ares is her father. Gabrielle and her mother play along, pointing out stories of Ares coming to the wives of husbands out to war in their husband's forms. Ares tries to deny it, but Xena duels him and narrowly manages to beat him, convincing the Furies that she is indeed his daughter, and causing them to leave.

  • In what is somewhere between this trope and a standard Deal with the Devil, "The Most Cursed Of Hands / Who Am I", a song by The Dear Hunter, tells the story of a poker player who plays a game against the Devil and takes all of Satan's money, until the Devil finally offers up his own soul. The poker player wins once again, taking even the Devil's soul, but learns that by doing so he has only freed the Devil and taken his place.

    Myths and Religion 
  • Classical Mythology:
    • In addition to stealing fire from the gods to give to humanity, Prometheus also tricked Zeus when the god asked humanity to divide their food and sacrifice parts of it. Prometheus hid the meat in entrails and hid the bones in fat. Zeus picked the pile of bones because it looked more appealing, and from that day on, humans burned the fat and bones and ate the meat. When Zeus found out, that was the last straw and he had Prometheus chained to a rock with an eagle eating his regenerating liver every day. Prometheus still had the last laugh when Heracles eventually freed him...a few centuries to millennia later, that is.
      • There was also a certain amount of Loophole Abuse involved. Heracles decided this situation wouldn't stand, but had already had a taste of divine punishment. So he rips the chains out of the cliff, leaving some stone on the end. This lets Zeus keep saying that his enemy is chained to the cliff. No word on what Prometheus did to the eagle.
    • Sisyphus pulled this off for a little while. He was punished for it, though.
    • After Eurydice was fatally bitten by a poisonous viper, Orpheus makes a journey to Tartarus, playing music which alleviates the sufferings of the tormented. Orpheus appeals to Hades and Persephone, urging them to restore her back to life. They agree, on the condition that Orpheus does not look back until after he has crossed the threshold. Sadly subverted; accounts vary on exactly what happened, but Orpheus ended up looking back too early. Sadly, there is no second chance for Orpheus, who is refused re-entry by Hades.
    • When Alcmene was giving birth to Heracles, Hera ordered Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, not to let it happen, so she sat down, clasped her hands, and crossed her legs, preventing the child from being born. Alcmene was about to go mad and die from the pain, but her servant Galanthis figured out what was happening. She found Eileithyia and told her the baby was already born, which shocked her so much she jumped up, allowing the baby to be born. Afterwards, as punishment for her trick, Galanthis was turned into a weasel.
    • Heracles tricked Atlas (the Titan who held up the sky) in order to get the golden apples of the Hesperides (Atlas's daughters). The catch was, the Hesperides probably wouldn't have let Herc take the apples (and according to some sources it was impossible for a mortal to pick them at all). So Herc made a deal with Atlas. If Atlas would collect the apples (he could pick them because he was the father of the Hesperides), Herc would hold up the sky while Atlas was fulfilling his part of the deal. Atlas agreed, but after collecting the apples, he refused to take the sky back. Herc basically said, "Okay, but just take the sky back for a bit so I can make my lion-skin cloak into a pad for my shoulders." Atlas took the sky back, and Herc walked away. This story is particularly notable because it was just about the only time Herc won using his wits alone rather than his strength or both together (several labors needed some forethought, planning, and lateral thinking, but also relied heavily on Heracles' prodigious strength).
    • The Odyssey: Who has blinded you? 'Nobody'! 'Nobody' has blinded me! Of course, Odysseus promptly screws this scam up by boasting and basically telling the cyclops his name and address once he knows he's safe. Since the cyclops is Polyphemus, son of Poseidon, and Odysseus has to cross the sea to get home, this was what they call a bad move. The sea god makes the rest of Odysseus' journey a living hell, which is the reason for the rest of the story.
  • Norse Mythology:
    • Loki manages to pull this off twice against Baldur: the gods have a series of contests tossing various projectiles at Baldur, until Loki learns that mistletoe, unlike everything else in the world, had not been asked to take an oath not to harm Baldur (either it was too young for a legally binding agreement, or the gods saw how it needed to borrow strength from other trees and figured it was too weak to be worth bothering with). Loki fashions a small spear from mistletoe, guiding the hand of Baldur's blind brother Hodur, who throws the dart of mistletoe that kills Baldur. Afterwards, the gods ask the goddess of the underworld if there is any hope of Baldur's resurrection; she replies that if everything on Earth mourns for Baldur, he will be resurrected, unless anything should refuse. The gods encounter an old woman who refuses to mourn for him, who is revealed to be Loki in disguise. As a result of Loki's grudge, Baldur remains unresurrected in the Norse underworld.
  • Stingy Jack of the Jack O'Lantern tale in Irish folklore also scammed the Devil. He got the Devil to agree not to take his soul after scamming him twice. When he died, though, he was too wicked for Heaven and the Devil upheld his bargain not to claim his soul. The Devil gave him a glowing coal and wished him the best roaming the Earth. Jack later put the coal in a turnip he carved out and created his lantern. Like many Anglo-Irish folktales, stories about Jack were carried into America's Appalachian region, where they underwent Memetic Mutation. True to form, scamming Death, Satan, or The Legions of Hell is a recurring motif, such as the time Jack caught Death in a poke. A Good Ol' Boy defeating cosmic powers through guile may well have resonated with the socioeconomically depressed area.
  • A lot of stories involving deals with the Devil have the Devil being tricked out of getting his side of the deal. A good example is 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 HEAPS of 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.
  • Many indigenous American trickster figures fall for their own tricks. Of course, it was likely what they wanted to do all along.
  • Many local legends about a bridge whose creation involved the Devil being scammed one way or another. Mark Twain referenced this in some of his drafts of The Mysterious Stranger.
  • One version of the founding of the famous island monastery Mont St Michel relies on this, though an odd version in which the Devil is being tricked for fun and to prove a point. St Michael bets the Devil that he can make a better monastery, with the Devil producing Mont St Michel and St Michael himself producing a gorgeous monastery of ice. The Devil has to concede defeat. And St Michael, being a friendly sort, offers to swap. Cue the Sun...
  • Attempted by Pan Twardowski in the old Polish story. Pan Twardowski was a sorcerer who lived in Krakow in the 16th Century, and he made a deal with Satan to gain incredible knowledge and magical power. He added a condition that stated Satan could claim his soul when he visited Rome - of course, Twardowski never intended to visit Rome in his life. Twardowski rose to great power and fortune in the following years, until he entered a quiet inn and found Satan there, looking to collect. Had he paid more attention to the sign outside, he would have noticed that the inn's name was Rzym. Guess what that translates to in Polish?
  • In the Hindu story of the lovers Savitri and Satyavan, Savitri tricks Yama, the lord of death, into reviving her dead husband. When she followed him to the end of the world to plead for Satyavan's soul, he was impressed by her bravery and agreed to grant her a wish for anything except Satyavan's life. She wished for seven children of her own, then after being granted her wish she pointed out that she couldn't logically have had children without her husband. Yama graciously conceded defeat, and Savitri and Satyavan lived happily ever after.
  • There's a story about little girl sold her soul to the devil for a pail of milk that she spilled. When the devil came to collect she ripped the SOLE off of her shoe, gave it to the devil, then continued skipping along, oblivious to what she just achieved while the devil just stood there dumbfounded at having been tricked by a 7-year-old.

  • ''The Magnus Archives'' has a case of this combined with the traditional Chess with Death folktale in the appropriately titled episode Cheating Death. A soldier killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill has the chance to play against Death for his soul, being guaranteed he won't die if he wins. He challenges Death to the card game Faro, and spends the entire game with a concealed string attached to a key piece. At the last moment, he pulls the piece and guarantees his win. Death doesn't notice, and he thinks he's free and clear...until he starts decaying away into a new Reaper and is informed that not dying is very different from living. In a particularly wicked twist on this trope, the original Reaper was himself a victim of this game, and was in fact scamming the soldier by letting him win.

  • That Mitchell and Webb Sound has a skit in which the Devil shows up to claim a man's soul, and he complains that his life of wealth and success had felt rather hollow. Satan gloats that this is what makes it all the more satisfying, until the man reminds Satan that before signing the contract he had asked if he could keep it for a few days, and tells him that he had his lawyer add a clause that prevented the Devil claiming his soul in just such an eventuality which Satan had skimmed over, and furthermore criticizes Satan for running an antiquated operation that clearly hadn't adapted well to widespread literacy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Changeling: The Lost features an Entitlement known as the Legates of the Black Apple. When The Fair Folk come barging into the freehold, it's the job of the Legates to try to figure out what they want and how to get them to go away. Mind you, this doesn't necessary involve giving them exactly what they want, and negotiations can involve intimidation just as well as diplomacy. Mind you, being a member of the Entitlement is quite risky — you don't want to know what the Gentry did to the guy who preferred to use intimidation tactics once they found out his frailty.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Tome of Magic tells the story of Andromalius, a former herald of Olidammara, god of rogues and tricksters. On his deathbed, Andromalius repented of his lifetime of thievery and mischief, effectively stealing his soul from his own deity, thus proving himself as the greatest prankster in history. Olidammara quickly saw the humor in this, yet was faced with a conundrum - if he accepted Andromalius' soul it would ruin the joke, but Olidammara was also leery of letting such a clever servant go to another deity. So Olidammara stole Andromalius' soul and hid it from the rest of the cosmos as a vestige, an entity beyond normal conceptions of life and death. "Whether Andromalius deemed this result an honor or not remains unclear."
    • The Malconvoker Prestige Class specializes in summoning evil extraplanar creatures and tricking them into serving good causes. High-level Malconvokers acquire demon lords as their patrons who provide them with great power under the false impression that they're using that power to spread misery and destruction. In reality they're using it to slay monsters and bring down corrupt rulers, making the world a better place on the sly. A successful Malconvoker puts every skill point they can into Bluff...
    • In this story, a party of adventurers suffer a near-Total Party Kill. The dead characters each get to challenge Death to a game of their choosing, and will be brought back to life if they win. They don't win.note  Then the Sole Survivor, a binder, challenges Death to a game of hide-and-seek. If he wins, Death has to bring everyone back, but if he loses, he dies too. Death can hide anywhere across the planes and the binder has two weeks to find him. Death accepts the challenge and goes off to hide. The binder... just turns around and purposely gets himself killed fighting the same enemies that wiped out the rest of his party, which of course summons Death right to him to reap his soul. "Found you." Death thought this was hilarious and brought everyone including the binder back as requested.
    • One adventure from Dungeon magazine has the PCs searching the stronghold of a powerful evil wizard who died very recently. Their mission is complicated by the arrival of three different Lower Planar beings, all of whom had contracts for sole possession of the dead wizard's soul and are outraged to find out about the other two fiends' claim upon it.
  • Exalted:
    • Eclipse Caste Solars have a name for this trope: Tuesday.
    • And Fiend Caste Infernals get one additional trick on top of this: they can renege on any promises they make to Eclipses or Moonshadows (the Abyssal mirror of the Eclipses) without suffering any penalties. Yes, that means they can scam the people who scam Cthulhu on a regular basis.
    • Present at lower levels of the game, as well. Raksha are even mechanically rewarded for letting a mortal 'trick' them, since even defeat involves delicious delicious emotions — but a mortal who gets in the habit will discover that the Raksha don't do habits, and instead do omnom on souls.
  • In Legend of the Five Rings, the big bad evil god, Fu Leng, fell to this at the hands of Naseru, who eventually became the Emperor. When Naseru and his siblings led a Big Damn Heroes moment in an attack on Fu Leng's stronghold in the Shadowlands to prevent him from taking over the heavens, while his uber-powered brothers and sister were slaying abominations left and right, Naseru, being a courtier, walked up to Daigotsu, leader of Fu Leng's forces in the material world, and began talking to him. The resulting conversation allowed Naseru to trick Fu Leng into temporarily withdrawing his dependence on Daigotsu, which gave the other gods and dead heroes enough time to take him down and send him back to hell.
  • Princess: The Hopeful: Several Princesses of Spades managed to trick the True Fae into promises that they'd never return to the human world.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Dark Eldar special character Lady Malys does this in her backstory. The Cthulhu in question was an Eldritch Abomination dwelling in the Webway, which she beat in a battle of wits, so it literally gifted her with its crystal heart, which she proceeded to replace her own heart with. It's also heavily implied to be the Trickster God the Harlequins worship. It's hinted, however, that she may not have won as much as she thought she did, as the creepy-insane laughter coming out of her quarters can attest to.
    • Then there's that one time Abaddon landed on a planet and outwitted a Lord of Change with a deal. In a contest of wits, the daemon would be bound to Abaddon's service if he won, but if he lost, Abaddon would forfeit his wargear but be told the Changer's True Name. Abaddon lost, but he then used the planet's nature of moving backward in time to inform his past self of the Changer's Name, thus effectively winning the contest without actually having to participate.
    • While canon is deliberately short on specifics, the Emperor is strongly indicated to have made pacts with all four Chaos gods in order to get what he needed to finish the Primarch program before the Great Crusade. The Emperor later went back on the deal, though this eventually backfired on him, leading to the events of the Horus Heresy,
    • In a blurb of one of the Chaos Daemon codexes, it was said that Tzeentch's Crystal Labyrinth only had one successful escape. Everyone else fell victim as there's only one true path and that is guarded by a riddle-speaking guardian. But somehow a little girl with a little black dog found her way through the labyrinth and succeeded in answering all the riddles.

  • BIONICLE: Vakama pulls off a big one at the end of Time Trap: trapped dead to rights at the mercy of Makuta, Vakama decides to cross the Godzilla Threshold and threatens to destroy the Mask of Time right then and there as a last resort against Makuta, and is moments away from doing so until Makuta gives in at the last second. Vakama then makes Makuta swear to abandon Metru Nui, let Vakama take the Mask of Time, and leave the Matoran on Mata Nui alone for a year. Keep in mind that Time Trap was the novel that rewrote Makuta as being a chessmaster prepared to adapt to every possible outcome, who has played the long game for millennia and can work around most, if not any defeats he encounters. Vakama manages to outwit him this once by threatening a Time Crash that would screw over just about everyone so that nobody wins.

    Video Games 
  • Astalon: Tears of the Earth centers around the wizard Algus' pact with the death god Epimetheus, who, in exchange for undoing the deaths of him and his companions, will take his soul once their quest is completed. However, by doing a certain sidequest, it's possible for Algus to escape the pact by tricking him into taking a homunculus, which was made with a part of his soul, rather than his entire soul.
  • In BlazBlue: Central Fiction, being drawn into the Embryo causes most of their cast to lose their memories of the last three games. However, the one person who turns out to have been Faking Amnesia is Hazama, the now-empty vessel of Yuuki Terumi. Not only does he successfully convince Terumi, one of the most powerful characters in the canon and one of the evilest people in fiction, that he has no idea what's going on, he convinces Terumi to lend him his power and very nearly steals it for good. The sheer balls of this manoeuvre are frankly impressive.
  • The main character in Card Shark plays a game of cards with Death if he dies in order to return to life. And, the game being what it is, you can cheat at it.
  • While not supernatural beings per se, the Scrin from Command & Conquer are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens with psychic powers and access to exotic, Tiberium-powered technologies. They are led to believe by Kane that the civilisation on Earth has collapsed and that Earth is ripe for Tiberium mining. Not so much. By the time the Scrin realise they've been suckered to landing on Earth, they are already having their asses handed to them by Nod and GDI alike (and the two won't even stop fighting each other to fight the Scrin).
  • This is the goal of The Emperor in Dissidia Final Fantasy, who plans on living forever and manipulating the gods themselves to become something more than them.
  • Dragon Age:
    • In the series, the player can make deals with demons and then back out of them once the demon's brought up their end, often with no consequences worse than having to fight them (which is usually what refusing to deal leads to anyway). In one particularly noteworthy case, you can even trick a demon into teaching you powerful Blood Magic... And then use said Blood Magic to kill the demon.

      Said noteworthy case is more of an inversion: the Mage Warden was already a prodigy by their own kind's standard before they even became a Gray Warden and the demon possessing Connor is the one who's desperately trying to scam its way out of a direct confrontation. If all else fails it'll give you blood magic as a straight-up bribe in exchange for just letting it live.
    • Another notable case occurs in Act 1 of Dragon Age II, when Hawke can convince an ancient demon to lead you both to the exit back to the Deep Roads, in exchange for defeating an ancient rock wraith. It turns out, the wraith was sitting on a sizable treasure hoard, enough to restore your family fortunes twice over. Varric's preferred response? Renege on your deal, kill the demon, and walk away, filthy rich.
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2: Near the end of the game, Towa, by hijacking the Time Patrol's communications systems and impersonating the Supreme Kai of Time, dupes Beerus and Whis into going to the Time Nest, thus ensuring that Whis won't be there to hit the Reset Button on Frieza's blowing up the Earth. They quickly realize what happened and go back to fix it, and when that's done, Beerus is absolutely pissed that Towa had the gall to trick him.
  • Elden Ring: It is entirely possible, if difficult and spoilery, to pull one over the Frenzied Flame in order to save your companion Melina. First, you have to complete Millicent's quest, then defeat Malenia, Blade of Miqualla, in order to get the item that lets you do it; then, you have to go find the Frenzied Flame, agree to inherit it, use it for the purpose Melina would otherwise sacrifice herself for, and then use the key item in the boss arena of Dragonlord Placidusax, which will purge the Frenzied Flame from you and allow you to complete the game as normal. Though Melina will be horrified by what you've done and leave you for good.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The series' in-game book Azura and the Box features an example. An old Dwemer (a notably Naytheistic race) philosopher manages to prove Azura, a Daedric Prince, wrong in front of live audience. This doesn't end well for him, although he dies very pleased with himself. The book notes that the ending differs based on which race is telling the tale: the Dunmer, who unlike the Dwemer are very religious and worship Azura, instead tell that Azura easily saw through his attempted legerdemain and squashed him like a bug.
    • Another in-game book, Song of Hrormir is about a warrior who offers to take an oath of loyalty to Nocturnal, but words his oath of loyalty in such a way that the one of the first lines of the oath ("To turn my back on truth") exempts him from adhering to the rest of it.
    • Thieves simply love stealing from the Daedric Princes. Nocturnal, despite being, essentially, the patron deity of thieves has had multiple items stolen from her by mortals throughout history, including the Grey Cowl, the Skeleton Key, and the Eye of Nocturnal. This usually ends badly for the thief, however, as incidentally, most of the time it will be you that will recover her items (except the Gray Cowl and in the fourth game, the Skeleton Key where it's given as reward). Similarly, the legendary Khajiit thief Rajhin stole the Ring of Khajiiti off the arm of Mephala herself.
    • In the Obscure Text Lord Vivec's Sword-Meeting with Cyrus the Restless, Cyrus convinces Vivec, a Physical God, that he knows the "pankratosword" technique and is willing to use it, in order to get Vivec to cough up a valuable treasure. (It's a bluff, but it works.)
    • According to the legends of the Skaal, the ancient King Ysgramor was known to have outsmarted Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge, on a regular basis.
    • Skyrim:
      • In Azura's Daedric quest, she tasks you with recovering and cleansing Azura's Star, her artifact which doubles as a rechargeable Grand Soul Gem (the most powerful tier of soul). However, you can choose to take it to a mage who can corrupt it into the Black Star, a reusable Black Soul Gem capable of trapping sapient souls (which are always equivalent to Grand Souls even if you get them from wimpy early-game bandits). Better yet, the Black Star can still hold non-sapient souls as well, making it the all around better option.
      • Several questlines and actions have you, essentially, pledging your soul to a Daedric Prince or another deity. Completing the Dark Brotherhood questline means that Sithis has a claim on your soul. Completing the Thieves' Guild questline means making a deal with Nocturnal to spend your afterlife guarding her temple. Becoming a werewolf means Hircine has a claim on your soul. Becoming a vampire means Molag Bal has a claim on your soul. Completing the Dragonborn DLC questline means that Hermaeus Mora has a claim on your soul. You can do all of these things without issue, with the only exception being that you can't be a vampire and a werewolf at the same time. It's also possible that your soul isn't even yours to give in the first place, since you are a Dragonborn, a mortal imbued with the divine soul of a dragon by the Aedric Top God, Akatosh.
  • In Ever17, the whole point of You'haru and Kaburaki's gambit is to trick a 4D being called Blick Winkel into believing that the events of 2017 and 2034 are one and the same. The clincher? It was Blick Winkel himself who set up the whole gambit to do that.
  • Probably the most clever of them all, Lillet Blan from GrimGrimoire tricks a very powerful demon into leaving the human it's possessing by asking for a wish from it at the cost of her soul, and then wishes for the demon to DEVOTE ITSELF TO GOD. The demon refuses... which sends it back to Hell. In fact, her plot is so impressive that the local would-be Magnificent Bastard Devil Advocat actually backs her on the deal. And to top it all off, that demon was summoned in order to get rid of what was the Big Bad until then. Lillet successfully wishploded two beings way out of even her league.
  • When Swain of League of Legends was struck down in battle, he was approached by a demon of secrets looking to make a deal in exchange for saving him. The demon underestimated just how cagey Swain was however, and the Grand General quickly scammed the demon instead. Sparing himself from death and stealing the demons great power for himself.
  • The plot of Marvel Ultimate Alliance is Dr. Doom making a Chain of Deals that winds up suckering or screwing over most of the other villains in the universe, including gods like Loki, Mephisto, and Odin.
  • RuneScape:
    • Ariane in sort of pulls this off, but the Cthulhu scams her right back. Ariane has been working for years to try to master her visions of the future, which often come in association with pain. A caged demon in the Wizard's tower offers to interpret her visions of impending doom to the tower, but she must first offer a drop of her blood as fealty to Zamorak. Ariane makes the cut, the pain instantly triggering a vision of what the demon was about to say. Sweet! She doesn't need to actually offer the blood! She won, right? The demon responds by loudly thanking her for her offering, convincing the other wizards in the tower that she IS a demon worshipper and getting her kicked out of the tower.
    • A certain book of background lore detailing the history of Zaros describes him making a contract for control of a certain number of demonic legions with an ancient demon named Hostilius the Autocrat. Hostilius, not aware of Zaros' true identity, attempts to word the contract so that the control of the legions will go to the oldest among them. The deal backfires when Zaros reveals that he's older than the entire demonic plane, resulting in Hostilius being forced to hand the legions over to Zaros for nothing whatsoever in return.
    • The quest "Smoking Kills" is about an attempt by Amascut the Devourer to get you killed by banshees in the Smoking Dungeon. To get you involved, she takes human form, tells you about a sister in peril (also Amascut in disguise), and offers you her services upon completion of the rescue. When you successfully find a way to carry out the rescue, "Sumona" is bound by her word and forced to serve as a Slayer Master. In this case, the "Cthulhu" scammed herself.
  • In Shadowrun Returns: Hong Kong, the Player Character can inflict one of these on Qian Ya in the finale, forcing her to retreat unless you summon all her siblings clamoring for revenge to kill both of you. You can then force her to release all her slaves and taken souls by pointing out that by her own laws, she has forfeited all rights because she attempted to renegotiate the bargain by asking about said thralls in the first place.
  • In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World Richter makes a deal with the demons of Niflheim - they give him the power to kill Ratatosk, whose lifeforce prevents demons from entering the mortal realm. Richter gets to satisfy his desire for revenge against Ratatosk while the demons get to cause chaos in the mortal realm. Except that, after killing Ratatosk, Richter plans on sacrificing himself to seal away the demons once again. It's implied that if the heroes hadn't talked him down, his plan would have succeeded.
  • Happens in the The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings during the first act. Geralt comes across a pair of former soldiers who were a part of the events directly responsible for an insane asylum burning down and becoming haunted by the spirits of the people burned alive and the enemy soldier that was tortured and killed. One of the ways he can resolve the issue is by collecting pig or monster eyes and hearts, and offering them to the Wraith to sate his desire for vengeance. However, he gets the Wraith to remove the curse before handing over his fake parts, which he promptly sees through now that he has them in his grasp and attack Geralt. Of course, Geralt is a genetically engineered mutant who's trained to kill monsters and spectres, and promptly puts him down.
  • In Planescape: Torment, it's impossible for people to tell if The Nameless One is lying- something about him prevents them from detecting his falsehoods if he's charismatic enough. Doesn't matter if it's a lowly harlot in the Hive or the telepathic Hive Mind of Cranium Rats, you can put the blinds on them without fail every time. Yes, you can successfully lie to beings who are actively reading your mind at the time. It's easily possible to bluff your way through deals with beings of Physical God status.
  • In Stellaris, forming a covenant with The End of the Cycle is generally considered to be the only true instance of Schmuck Bait in the game, as after the time limit for all the benefits it confers you is up, it destroys your empire down to a single planet (and sometimes not even that) before using the life-force of your slain peoples to wage war on all living things, so that it may end the cycle of life. This is one of the only times where you cannot defeat or outmaneuver an Eldritch Abomination in-game, and the game explicitly tells you this in regards to forming a Covenant with the end of the cycle: Do not do this. However, players who have the Nemesis DLC installed and have acquired enough Menace to become an Endgame Crisis usually end up taking the Cycle up on its offer. Why? Because their end-game plan entails destroying the galaxy yourself. And then invading and conquering the Shroud.
  • In the Team Fortress 2 metaplot, the Medic manages to screw over Old Nick in a Deal with the Devil through the simple expedient of supplementing the soul he sold with eight others, meaning that when he dies, he holds a vote on whether to go to hell, in which the Devil gets one share. When Old Nick tries to get violent about it, Medic then gets himself resurrected by pointing out that that him going to hell nice and fairly is a simple matter of the Devil getting four of the other eight souls, and points out that Old Nick got one of them, four more should be a simple matter. And to prove his point, he sells one more for a pen that he takes back to the living world with him.
  • In World of Warcraft Legion, Destruction Warlocks do this to obtain their Artifact Weapon, the Jeweled Scepter of Sargeras, by stealing it from then-Big Bad Gul'dan. The adventurer pretends to join the Burning Legion to get close enough to him to steal it. Gul'dan is Genre Blind just long enough for the plan to work.

    Web Animation 
  • DEATH BATTLE! has an example in Bill Cipher vs. Discord, which is fitting, given Bill's whole shtick. However, he's the one who gets scammed. While Bill starts out already having conquered Equestria and manages to kill Discord during their fight (Twice, even), his opponent manages to trick him back into the Nightmare Realm, rendering all his accomplishments for naught while Discord succeeds in his real goal: saving his friends.
  • In RWBY, Big Bad Salem has such an event in her backstory. When the God of Light refused to revive her lover, Salem sought out his much-feared younger brother and pretended that he had been her first choice. The lonely God of Darkness was so delighted to finally receive worship from a human, he granted her request without a second thought. This brought the God of Light to his realm, and the brothers nearly came to blows over the perceived violation of their agreement. The Brothers were furious when they realized a mere human had LIED to them, and cursed Salem with Complete Immortality. Unable to die, Salem tricked others into joining her in a war with the Gods. It ended as one might expect, with the Gods wiping humanity out and abandoning Salem alone as the last sentient being on the planet. She still didn't learn her lesson, and continues to seek ways to spite the Gods.

  • 8-Bit Theater: Thief outsmarting Trickster God Raven.
  • Chicanery begins with Pokey having just embezzled Giygas' $44,000,000 retirement fund.
  • The German webcomic Der Tod und das Mädchen shows, in an hilarious reel, all the cases where people tried to trick death, starting with a knight that successfully won in chess against him. Since you need to call him by his name to allow him to kill you, he soon defined that rule very loosely (with hilarious results at times). The fact that the heroine still manages to avoid calling him anything for almost 400 pages frustrates him greatly since she has been due for over 14 years already.
  • Dominic Deegan had to face The Beast in the Borders of Destruction and he managed to get a Destroyer to take care of The Beast. Later, he runs into the Beast again, and scares it away by pretending to possess the Destroyer's powers.
  • Girl Genius: What power level the Other - a time-traveling Body Snatcher - is at can be ambiguous, but they/she/it is evidently way past normal human level. Which makes it surprising when Zola (the Other's niece) managed to trick the Other into trying to possess Zola, when Zola was actually Immune to Mind Control, and thus had the Other's memories downloaded to her mind instead.
  • In Homestuck, Terezi pulls this on the supernatural Doc Scratch in order to bait him into enacting her revenge on Vriska. Yes, Terezi managed to manipulate an omniscient being. She is simply the best there is.
  • The Order of the Stick: This is Redcloak's ultimate goal, to harness the power of The Snarl and hold the world hostage so he can negotiate with the pantheon of gods to get a better deal for the race of Goblins in-universe, rather than just serving as sources of XP for adventurers. Also something of a Xanatos Gambit; if the plan fails and the world is destroyed by The Snarl, then the gods will remake it - this time with the goblin deity The Dark One among their number, and he'll make sure the goblins don't get screwed again.
    • Whether he will ultimately succeed is open to interpretation, but it is later revealed to the audience that at a minimum he is missing some critical information, chiefly that, as a relatively new deity, The Dark One lacks the necessary reserves of energy to survive the transition between the destruction of the old world and the creation of the new one, which means he won't be around to have any say in how the gods make it after all. When told this, Redcloak assumes it's a bluff.
  • Ayanah in PAWN is implied to be doing this to Baalah, with unfortunate implications.
  • In Sluggy Freelance:
    • Aylee comes up with a plan (and Zoë compliments it) to trick some nigh-omnipotent Jerkass Genies into granting what seems like a worthless wish (making it rain the blood of the innocent), without them realizing that "the blood of the innocent" is exactly what Torg's Cool Sword needs to become a magical weapon that can kill just about anything, including, that's right, nigh-omnipotent Jerkass Genies.
    • In a parody of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Torg outsmarts the pseudo-Literal Genie that's been interpreting people's wishes as "Turn me into chocolate" (including someone who had merely screamed in terror rather than actually wishing) by wishing that he'd "Turn Torg Potter into chocolate." This results in the kid Torg was a body double for being turned to chocolate, allowing him to safely wish everyone back to normal. (Fortunately, the genie doesn't mess around with the remaining wishes)
  • In xkcd, Mephistopheles encounters the E.U.L.A.

    Web Original 
  • In The Adventure Zone: Balance, Kravitz offers Magnus the chance to win Noelle's soul in a quick game of chance. Magnus happens to have a deck of cards on him, but the deck is a cheat deck. Magnus wins handily and Kravitz never spots the cheat. Unusually for this trope, Kravitz doesn't really mind losing the game anyway, because Noelle's resurrection wasn't her fault and she did just help prevent a disaster, so he's more than happy to give her a chance to avoid being reaped.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: Linkara pulled this one off in a big way against "The Entity" in his Electric Tale of Pikachu review. After all, the Entity wants to become all things, know all things. But does it know what happens to an elder god when it dies? Would it like to find out?
  • Noriko Null from Beyond the Impossible:
    -You want to trick Hermes? He’s the GOD of tricksters!!!
    Noriko smiles. It’s the smile of someone who has just figured out how to beat impossible odds.
    -Do you have any idea of many millions of lawyers there are on Earth? They are all here – she says, tapping a finger on her head.
  • Spoony tells a story in his Counter Monkey series of a player's attempt to scam the Lady of Pain by purposefully antagonising her enough to get mazednote , trusting that his character's racial ability to automatically know the correct path out of any dungeon would help him. He was right! The exit? 100 million miles down that straight, featureless corridor.
  • Critical Role: In the second campaign the party encounter Isharnai, a hag who offers people deals for whatever they want in exchange for great misery and had turned Nott the Brave into a goblin. Jester convinces the hag to eat a cupcake sprinkled with a magical dust that leaves her vulnerable to a Modify Memory spell. Using the spell, Jester convinces Isharnai that they spent the afternoon talking amiably and that Isharnai voluntarily lifted the curse she placed on Nott because she found Jester so charming.
  • Kitten plays with this trope in If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device. Step 1) Challenge Tzeench to a children's card game with the soul of Magnus the Red as the stakes. Step 2) Remove all of Tzeench's most pressing traps and defenses and attack head-on with some souped-up monsters, taking his lifepoints down to zero in just one turn. One could argue it's a perfect example, except Kitten had no plan going into the duel.
    • Jopallian Planetary Governor Lance Cashpants tricks Loyalist Primarch Corvus Corax into signing a contract while Corax is distracted with saving his brother Vulkan from a virus. The contract forces Corax to buy several useless things at the low, low price of everything he owns, leaving him and his comrades stranded and stripped of their gear. Corax gets his revenge after convincing the regiments to rebel, and the episode ends with Cashpants being guillotined by the exploited masses.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • In SCP-5935, "Blood and the Breaking of my Heart", if you can parse it out between all the prose, is about a member of the O5 Council that makes a deal with a Fae god of names to bring his son Jacob back to life. The god does so, partially, masquerading as Jacob and playing along with the O5, though planning to consume all names in existence once the masquerade is over. Once the O5 realizes what has happened, and comes to term with his son's death, he offers the god a new deal: He has constructed his dream city within his mind. If the god would come there and pretend to be Jacob for a bit longer, the O5 will willingly give up his name and not attempt to stop them. The god takes the deal, but realizes too late that the Foundation has somehow placed a copy of SCP-184 within the O5's mind. 184 continuously expands any space it is placed in, which now includes the imaginary city. By the time the god realized the ploy, the city was already impossibly big, and it would take thousands of years for the god to escape it. The O5 is trapped as well, kept in a coma by the Foundation for safety, but he's trapped the god with him.
  • During the first episode of the Atum mini-arc in Vaguely Recalling JoJo, Telence T. D'Arby somehow got Double's soul off-screen, as her doll is seen in Telence's collection. Telence wouldn't last five seconds against an Eldritch Abomination like Double, so he probably used his words to get her to play video games with him.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Team Avatar try to pull this on Wan Shi Tong by promising not to use the knowledge they could learn in his library for violence. He doesn't entirely believe them but gives them the benefit of the doubt, and is not happy when he finds out they lied to his face and intend to use the knowledge to take down the Fire Nation.
    • In The Legend of Korra it is revealed that this is how Wan, the person who became the first Avatar, gained his first elemental power. He was a normal human who stole Firebending from a Giant Lion Turtle (in a Prometheus allusion) and never returned it as was customary. According to the turtle that appeared in the finale of the first show, things may have been different in the prior era, as it claims that "In the era before the Avatar, we bent not the elements but the energy within ourselves."
  • In Avengers Assemble, Galactus appoints Tony Stark to be his Herald. Tony loyally finds Galactus an energy-rich planet to devour... but Galactus doesn't learn until after he's eaten it that it's so energy-rich because its core is about to explode. This effectively takes the Devourer of Worlds out of commission.
  • Vilgax did this to Eldritch Abomination Dagon in the finale of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Bonus points for Dagon actually being based on a Great Old One.
  • The Cuphead Show!: The Devil is trying to claim Cuphead's soul, but it's unable due to him wearing a magical invisible sweater made by Mugman. After many attempts of tricking him to remove the sweater, Cuphead tells him that he'll do it if the Devil paints the fence for them. The Devil really gets into it, using magic paintbrushes to fly around and paint to the tune of Danse Macabre. It's not until later, when he's finished, that he realizes that Cuphead and Mugman left for the amusement park.
  • Danger Mouse faces a Demon of the Fourth Dimension ("Demons Aren't Dull"), to whom he quotes one of the rules of the 4-D Union ("Devious and Diabolical Dimensional Demons, affiliated with Gremlins, Ghouls, Ghosts and Things That Go "Waaaaoohh!"). It states that any victim not destroyed by the end of episode four must be returned to their own dimension or said demon's powers are revoked by the Boss Demon. Buying it as he's scared witless, the Demon of the Fourth Dimension returns DM and Penfold to their world. The catch: DM made the rule up. Which is fine as the Demon returned the two heroes some five miles into the air, leaving them plummeting to Earth.
  • DuckTales (2017): In "House of the Lucky Gander!", Donald is pitted against Gladstone in a challenge for who will be freed from an evil luck vampire. Donald wins, but the luck vampire still claims ownership of Gladstone, so Scrooge tricks the demon into thinking that Donald, of all people, is the luckier one since he won so that he'll take Donald instead. Scrooge only has to count the seconds until the spirit kicks Donald out, poisoned due to Donald's horrible luck, and flees their dimension.
  • Gargoyles: Xanatos (of course) did this to Puck, when he chose Owen Burnett instead of a wish, forcing Puck to play human for the rest of Xanatos' life. note 
    A Pet the Dog moment as well. Xanatos could have had any wish he wanted, but passed up a ticket to wealth or power to keep his faithful servant. This, incidentally, was done on purpose by Puck, who was curious about Xanatos's human nature and whether or not he would value companionship over power. Then again, Xanatos is 'never boring'
  • In Gravity Falls, Bill Cipher is a dream demon who is as smart as he is powerful, and is able to play one heck of a long game (as in over a trillion years.) By the series finale, through a series of well-done maneuvers and bargains, Bill managed to turn the town into an apocalyptic hellscape of pure chaos by merging the Nightmare Realm with the real world. Unfortunately for him, his power doesn't extend outside the town and he needs Ford's permission to enter his mind to get the information he needs to escape it. What ultimately does him in is a supreme case of Hoist by Their Own Petard, as when he does strike a bargain, he falls for a Twin Switch by Stan Pines, aka the greatest con man in Gravity Falls, that allows his brother Ford to destroy him while he mistakenly possesses Stan's mind instead.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy's entire premise began with this trope. Grim, aka The Grim Reaper, comes to collect the soul of Billy's hamster. Mandy challenges him to a game of limbo, Grim's favorite game, saying that if he wins, he can have the hamster's soul, and if he loses, he has to be their "best friend forever." Grim is insanely good at the game, since he's only bones and can bend basically down to the ground, but Mandy gets Billy's hamster to attack Grim, causing him to flail trying to get it off and bump into the limbo pole; he insists that Mandy cheated, but she simply tells him that a deal's a deal, and he lost, and so he, the lord of death, is now eternally bound to these two grade-schoolers.
  • In House of Mouse, Mickey has tricked powerful Disney baddies into helping him. Once, when Pete tries to get all the customers out by dunning the thermostat for money until it's "broke" and the club overheats, Mickey manages to talk Hades into staying, because so long as there's even one guest in the club, Pete can't shut the show down. And when Daisy accidentally makes the House of Mouse disappear, Mickey gets Jafar to bring it back by promising him "the city of Agrabah." Once he does, Mickey gives him an Agrabah snow globe.
  • In Jackie Chan Adventures, Jade uses Exact Words to trick the Monkey King, the ultimate trickster, into pulling on Jackie's detached puppet leg (It Makes Sense in Context) returning him to puppet form (as Jade says, the spell required the Monkey King to pull Jackie's leg, but it didn't say it had to be attached at the time!). She gets a few others, like when she pulls a Batman Gambit on the Demon Sorcerers, and tricks Tarakudo (she is THE awesome Guile Hero!).
  • In Metalocalypse, the band attempts to sell their souls to the Blues Devil in exchange for mastery of the blues. Except that they are such experts in contract negotiation that by the end of it the Devil would have to give them part of his soul instead, while getting little more than a $5 Hot Topic gift card. Oddly, he appears to very reasonably refuse the contract at the time. It's only at the end of the episode that it's revealed that he agreed to these terms — presumably, he was just that impressed with someone actually managing to put one over on him.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Discord gets to be on the receiving end of this when a heavily weakened Tirek promises him that he'll let Discord go back to the way he was before his Heel–Face Turn if he helps him drain all the ponies of their magic, which Discord happily accepts. When Tirek gets powerful enough, he then steals Discord's own power.
  • In Regular Show, Skips accidentally kills Rigby for cheating in arm wrestling, he then challenges Death to an arm wrestling match for Rigby's soul. Skips wins by using the same trick Rigby used on him.
  • The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror XXIX" sees Homer does this to Cthulhu after being scammed him a promise of an eating contest. Cthulhu goes "Oh, Crap!" upon learning that Homer hadn't had breakfast and sure enough, Homer outeats the Old One and Cthulhu offers anything Homer wants and delivers — which is eating Cthulhu himself.
  • Eric Cartman does this literally in the South Park episodes "Mysterion Rises" and "Coon vs. Coon and Friends" as he actually scams Cthulhu into doing his bidding by acting sickeningly cute.
  • In Teen Titans Go!, when all of the Titans except for Raven are turned old and promptly die, Raven goes to the underworld to get their souls back from Death. Death offers to give Raven their souls in exchange for her own, but once he gives them to her she reveals that she's a half-demon and has no soul; this results in the Titans coming back as zombies, which Raven is ecstatic about.
  • In The Transformers episode "Ghost in the Machine", Starscream, reduced to a ghostly form, makes a deal with the decapitated Unicron to regain his body in exchange of turning Cybertron into Unicron's new body. Eventually, Starscream demands Unicron to give him a body so that he would fulfill his end of bargain and connect his head to Cybertron, but once he does…
    Unicron: Now, do my bidding. Complete the connection!
    Starscream: Ha! Do it yourself! [takes off into space]
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), Spidey manages to trick LOKI by playing to his ego, saying that unless he defeats Thor while the Thunder God is in his normal form, no one will respect him for it. As Loki undoes his Forced Transformation, Peter lampshades how he can't believe Loki fell for that!
    Loki: The trickster tricked? BY A MORTAL?!
    Thor: He is no mere mortal. He is the Man of Spiders!
    Spider-Man: Close enough.


Video Example(s):


Aziraphale and Crowley's Con

Crowley and Aziraphale manage to scam their respective HQs by switching faces. Both were sentenced to death by their respective 'poisons': Hellfire for angels, and holy water for demons. Even the representatives of either side agree that cooperation is the key to removing the traitors. However, once they endure their respective executions, Crowley and Aziraphale deliver their counter-offer: Leave them alone on Earth, or face the wrath of their Earthly powers.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / DidYouJustScamCthulhu

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