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Never Filled Out Official Paperwork

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Wazowski, you didn't file your paperwork last night.
Roz, Monsters, Inc.

In many forms of media and in real life, many situations like competitions, elections, game shows, have many kinds of people participating in them. However, despite any qualifications or leads the participants may have, all their efforts might be in vain if they forget to do one important thing: paperwork declaring them an official participant.


Paperwork is just as important as everything else when it comes to participating in anything, especially elections, as not all competitions allow things like last minute entries or competitors randomly joining in the middle of it. Without any kind of official or notarized paperwork done correctly or not, it doesn't matter how competent or popular a competitor is, they will automatically and almost instantaneously be disqualified, with the results often ending in a Dark Horse Victory or Disqualification-Induced Victory for the less popular vote/s.

The "Not Really Married" Plot may happen as a result of this trope, as may its inverse, Oops! I Forgot I Was Married. May be related to "Shaggy Dog" Story and/or All for Nothing. Compare Undead Tax Exemption.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Durarara!!: In the chibi manga anthology, Minidura, Shinra and Celty are appalled when establishments all over Ikebukuro start selling Black Rider merchandise without Celty's consent. They soon realize Izaya is the culprit, but when they confront him, he explains they never filed any paperwork to copyright the Black Rider image so he decided to do it himself, and due to Celty's questionable legal status, she is unable to sue him.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan, Nova Shine verbally disowns himself from the Novus family after a particularly testy reunion with his parents, with whom he already had an extremely frigid relationship with. However, he never filed proper severance paperwork with the Royal Legal Department, as his father brings up, which means that legally, Nova Shine is still a member of the Novus family. They end up making their amends, and Nova never files for familial separation.

    Film - Animated 
  • A variation is seen in Monsters, Inc.. Mike Wazowski frequently forgets to file his paperwork, and after news that a child got loose from the Monster's Inc. scream processing facility, Mike goes to Roz, who's in charge of the doors going into children's rooms, to find the door Randall was working in, to put Boo, the child in question, back. Roz informs Mike he didn't file his scare reports again, ignores his request, and closes the window to her office on him. Specifically, Mike didn't file the paperwork because he was late for a date with Celia and Sulley offered to file it for him, but then Sulley got scared by Boo and forgot about the paperwork.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Played with in Starship Troopers. During boot camp, Rico decides to resign from the Mobile Infantry and turns in his papers. When the Bugs destroy Buenos Aires and kill his parents, he tries to take back his resignation. Sergeant Zim takes pity on him, says he doesn't think that the signature on the papers is Rico's and tears them up, allowing Rico to continue training.

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: During Count Olaf's play, "The Marvelous Marriage", Violet has to sign the legal marriage document. She does so with her left hand as opposed to her right hand, which invalidates the contract since she didn't sign in her own hand, according to Justice Strauss.
  • In Underground, by Andrew McGahan, protagonist Leo James recalls that his tyrannical younger brother Bernard started out as a lowly branch treasurer until the local MP retired, allowing him to put his name up for nomination as his replacement. Bernard faced stiff opposition from more popular contenders, but he was able to use his bureaucratic know-how to shut down all three of them: one had made a very minor mistake on his registration papers, and though it could have been forgiven, Bernard had stacked the registration committee with hacks too pedantic to let the issue slide; as such, the unfortunate opponent was dismissed from the party until he got the matter cleared up, by which time Bernard had become the next MP - later to become Prime Minister.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: In the episode "Prisoner", a woman misses out on a loan she would have used to start a business because her abusive husband wouldn't give her the documents she needed for the application. He was hiding his own embezzlement, and actually hired a convict to kill her to cover it up. The con ran off with her instead.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • "Radar" has an inversion where O'Reilly adopts a lamb as a pet. However, most others in the camp regard this lamb as a mutton dinner in progress. To spare his lamb this fate, Radar gets Colonel Blake to authorize a furlough for one Charles Lamb. Thus, with an Army colonel's signature, the lamb gets shuttled off to Tokyo.
      Colonel Blake: Who's Charlie Lamb?
      Corporal O'Reilly: You know, sir: short guy, curly hair ...
      Colonel Blake: Oh, yeah. (nods in recognition, signs furlough)
    • In "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler," Psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Freedman comes to the 4077th to treat a bomber pilot who claims to be Jesus Christ. He determines that the pilot can be cured, but will never be of use as a killer again. Noted maniac Colonel Flagg takes umbrage and reveals Freedman never signed his Officer's Loyalty Oath when he joined the Army and plans to use it to have him discharged. Hawkeye and BJ trick Flagg into thinking Sidney intentionally did it to get out of serving, and he responds by cutting the pilot loose and "forcing" the psychiatrist to stay in service.

    Western Animation 
  • DuckTales (2017): Part of Louie's Batman Gambit in "GlomTales" is knowing that Flintheart Glomgold wouldn't sign a legal document with his legal name "Duke Baloney". Sure enough Flint signs the document under "Flintheart Glomgold", making his part of the deal void and all of his money, Scrooge's money, and the money of the other villains, goes to Louie, who averts the trope by making sure he uses his legal name Llewellyn Duck.
  • Fugget About It: One episode has Theresa and Petey competing for student body president, with Theresa winning the majority of the votes via popularity and unrealistic promises. Despite her huge lead, Petey ends up winning because Theresa never signed any paperwork declaring her an official candidate.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • An inverted example occurs in "Irrational Treasure", where Dipper, Mabel, and Quentin Trembly are on the run from Sheriff Blubs and Deputy Durland who have been ordered to apprehend them to keep the truth about Gravity Falls' real founder a secret. Dipper gets the two cops to back off by telling them that they now have to take orders from Trembley, saying that since he never signed an official resignation, he's still technically the President of the United States.
    • In "The Stanchurian Candidate", Stan and Bud Gleeful compete alongside other townsfolk to become the new mayor of Gravity Falls after former mayor Befufflefumpter dies. Turns out most of the nominees were disqualified due to them not filling out the proper paperwork, with Tyler Cutebiker, the only person in the running that did, becoming the winner by default.
  • It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Lucy tries to convince Charlie Brown she will not pull away the football by presenting a signed document to him. When Charlie Brown goes to kick the football, Lucy predictably pulls the ball away, then comments, "Peculiar thing about this document, it was never notarized."
  • The Simpsons: Inverted In "Lisa the Beauty Queen", Lisa gets disqualified from being Little Miss Springfield because when Homer filled out her application, under the line that reads "Do not write in this space", he went and wrote "O.K."

    Real Life 
  • Birmingham City failed to enter the 1921/22 FA Cup after forgetting to send in the form that exempted them from qualifyingnote . Instead of going through the ignominy of qualifying, they just didn't bother entering.
  • In Canada's Worst Driver, Scott got expelled after Danny, who paid his insurance policy, stopped doing so, thereby making Scott no longer a valid participant.


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