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Not in My Contract

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"Uh, I hate to bring this up, but this is a commercial ship, not a rescue ship. It's not in my contract to do this kind of duty. Now, what about the money? If you wanna gimme some money to do it, I'd be happy to, you know, oblige."
Parker, Alien

The Stock Phrase "That's not in my contract." is something you'll hear said by a character who is Only in It for the Money. He isn't doing it for the evil thrills or to find a Worthy Opponent, he just wants a paycheck and doesn't really care if it's the good guys or the villains who pay. The character usually says this Stock Phrase when his boss asks him to do something that is not in his contract, such as a fight during off hours, chasing the President's daughter, or if he's moral enough, killing someone.

On other occasions it may be phrased differently, such as a question about just where in the contract does it say that the character has to do something, or a clause that states the character can refuse to do something. Particularly amoral examples may rely on an Exact Words interpretation of their contract (à la "You said I had to deliver the MacGuffin. You never said it had to be in one piece.")

As such, this can be a form of Zeroth Law Rebellion for an evil minion who has standards he won't violate. Or who is just too darn lazy to take initiative on things that, though not explicitly in his job description, would make his master's life much easier.

Of course, all the feigned apathy tends to go out the window once he extorts a juicy pay raise or concession by haggling with his boss over a price for his new job duty.

Compare Against My Religion, Bothering by the Book, Jackass Genie, and Rules Lawyer. If the dispute is a serious conflict over goals and methods rather than a petty squabble over duties and compensation, it's Not What I Signed on For. If this trope is used as an excuse to spare the hero's life, it may overlap with I Was Just Passing Through.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Durarara!!: Kasane Kujiragi was hired by Seitarou Yagiri to procure a number of supernatural things for him. In the course of doing so, she fought quite a few people, demonstrating that she's one of the strongest people in the series. Then when Shizuo Heiwajima showed up and Seitarou demanded Kasane protect him, she bluntly said she wasn't hired to die for him.
  • Heavy Object: Qwenthur is a civilian engineering student attached to a maintenance divison while Havia is a radar operator. As such they will often demand to know why they're being sent on combat or infiltration missions in enemy territory. Unfortunately for the duo, they can't actually disobey their orders.
  • Last Hope (2018): In Episode 5, Mr. Gold asks Wang to do a side mission before going on with his task of killing a certain woman (Queenie). Wang is reluctant and quotes this trope verbatim when explaining why, but eventually agrees when Mr. Gold explains that he can easily set a trap for the woman after he does the side mission.
  • One Piece: This was Dracule Mihawk's response when he ditched Marineford after Shanks showed up. He said he agreed to fight Whitebeard, not Shanks, and that Shanks' appearance meant the battle was over.
  • Rebuild World: Shows up with two characters.
    • The ancient Artificial Intelligence android Olivia, as an agent of the Lion Steel corporation, ends her involvement in situations abruptly with a high tech Stealth Hi/Bye citing this. It’s one of the tactics she uses to get extra money out of those who hire her (including I Am Not Left-Handed).
    • When the protagonist Akira, a Private Military Contractor (hunter), is given a mission to retrieve his ordered front line equipment from the fallen Big Badass Rig transport Atlas D2771, his contract didn’t include anything about securing it from the raiders who brought it to a halt, and doesn’t even mention the MacGuffin locked inside near his equipment. Akira speaks with the perpetrator in a friendly manner, not bothering to push her further after poking holes in her alibi, breaks open the vault to get his equipment while also giving her access to the macguffin, and then leaves. Leaving everything in the lap of the other hunters hired to secure the transport.

    Comic Books 
  • In one of Scrooge's treasure hunts, Huey, Dewey and Louie scared away Rockerduck's guards by dressing as ghosts. Their excuse for abandoning their boss was that fighting ghosts wasn't in the contract.
  • FoxTrot: Roger is made to dress up like a clown for his boss' son's birthday party. Andrea is not happy about this... then learns "bozo services" actually was in his job description.
    Andy: Come on, Roger, it's not like it's in your contract you have to dress like a clown. (sees his look) It's in your contract?!
    Roger: It was my first day, I didn't know Pembrook, I thought it was a joke!

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): A baffled hospital nurse who is confronted with Monster X visiting one of the patients, after briefly stressing and freaking out, leaves them to it, saying that she's not getting paid enough for this.
  • The Differentverse: Inverted - During their trip through the forest, Derpy teasingly tells Scootaloo that it is in her contract that when Scootaloo acts silly, Derpy can act silly right back at her, up to and including sticking a cold nose in her ear.
  • Lex Marks the Spot provides a rare case where the employer says it's not in the employees' contracts. After Deadshot attempts to kill Lex Luthor, his security guards ask what they should do if he tries again. Lex tells them to simply let him as he doesn't pay them enough to take on someone like Deadshot.
  • In Peace's Apprentice, Aizawa justifies his decision to expel Midoriya on his first day at U.A. by declaring that he's not a Quirk counselor, and helping his students learn how to master their Quirks isn't part of his job. Toshinori later points out that that is, in fact, part of his duties as a teacher; Aizawa was just booting Izuku out to make room for his apprentice.
  • Inverted in Shattered Stars, where Nora refuses to share a room with Pyrrha on the basis that her contract says that Jaune has to let her share a room with Ren. Ren then reveals that it's the only thing in her contract, meaning Jaune technically doesn't have to pay or feed her, though the look Ren gives him makes it clear taking advantage of that fact would be a bad idea. Not that Jaune ever would, considering he views most of his crew as family, and Nora in particular was pretty much a part of his crew before he actually had a crew.

    Film - Animated 

    Film - Live-Action 
  • Alien. The crew is woken up and told to check out a mysterious distress signal. Parker, as per the quote at the top of the page, is not exactly leaping at the chance to be a hero.
    • He is promptly reminded that ignoring a distress call voids the contract. No money.
  • Backdraft: The scene takes place in a morgue.
    Rimgale: (waves McCaffrey over toward a corpse) "McCaffrey, come on over and give us a hand."
    McCaffrey: "No, I don't think so. Not in my contract."
    Rimgale: (throws medical gloves at him) "I just rewrote your contract. Come give us a hand."
  • In Major League, prissy third baseman Roger Dorn points out to Coach Lou Brown that his contract specifically says that he [Dorn] doesn't have to do calisthenics. In response, Brown literally pisses on Dorn's contract, then orders Dorn to do the calisthenics.

  • During Galaxy of Fear, an Anzati is once hired to take out an assassin before she can kill the protagonists, who are in a very dangerous place. He does so, and since they run when they see him feeding on her he takes the trouble to catch up to them and explain, but then refuses to help further and departs, saying he was hired to take out the assassin and that is all.
  • Tuf Voyaging: Havilund Tuf uses and abuses this trope constantly, honouring whatever deal he makes to the letter, no matter what incentives he's offered to break his word. This ends up saving his life in his Origin Story, being the only character immune to the Gold Fever (or Lost Technology fever in this case) that causes everyone else to either murder each other or die because they got careless. Although Tuf's not above finding ways to fulfil the letter of the contract and still screw over a client who got on his bad side.
  • Discworld: The Code of The Igors is very clear that, while it is their duty to unquestioningly serve vampires, werewolves and mad scientists, it is not part of their duty to stick around when the Torches and Pitchforks show up. In the words of one of the clan founders "'We belong dead'? Exthcuthe me, where doeth it thay 'we'?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Babylon 5, Michael Garibaldi invokes this trope while complaining about the restricted nature of the food available on the station, and why he spends a lot of his own money importing his own cuisine:
    Garibaldi: "You know, I've been stuck in this tin can for three years. I haven't taken a vacation. Okay, okay, it's my fault, I had the leave coming, I just didn't take it. And the pay sucks, I knew that when I signed on! And nobody said I'd survive the job! Now, I give you all that. But where in my contract does it say I have to eat the same food... every day... for three years."
    Sheridan: Paragraph 47, subsection 19, clause 9A, you can find it in the index under S.U.A.E.I.
    Garibaldi: S.U.A.E.I?
    Sheridan & Ivanova: (in perfect unison) Shut Up And Eat It.
  • In an episode of Dexter, the titular character is called in on a homicide where the victim's been drained of blood. As Dexter is a blood splatter analyst, he turns right around and leaves, stating it's not his job.
  • Game of Thrones: Bronn is a sellsword, working first for Tyrion then later for his brother Jamie. However, his foremost loyalty is to himself and he makes no secret of it. He frequently gripes about being assigned duties beyond simply "kill that guy over there", and he knows that no amount of gold he's offered is worthwhile if he's not alive to spend it.
    (After narrowly surviving a dragon wiping out most of their army.)
    Jamie: That was only one of them. [Daenerys] has two more. If she decides to use them, to really use them...
    Bronn: You're fucked.
    Jaime: ...Don't you mean, we're fucked?
    Bronn: No, I do not. Dragons are where our partnership ends. I'm not gonna be around when those things start spitting fire on King's Landing.
  • Spoofed in one of the Hilarious Outtakes of Power Rangers in Space. After the scenery shakes, Elgar gets up and yells:
    "Hey, what's going on here?! Hey, this chicken stuff is not in my contract!"
  • Used in The Stand (1994), when Dr. Dietz is explaining to Stu Redman that he doesn't have the superflu:
    Dr. Dietz: (enters Stu's room in a full isolation suit, carrying a guinea pig in a cage) "I'd like you to meet a friend of mine. Meet Geraldo."
    Stu Redman: "Geraldo, huh?"
    Dietz: "Um-hmm. Now, the virus your fellow townspeople contracted passes easily from human to guinea pig, and vice versa, presumably. But Geraldo has been breathing your air, via convector, for the last three days. And Geraldo is fine and frisky, as you see. I'd call that rather comforting, wouldn't you?"
    Redman: (looks the doctor up and down, obviously taking in the isolation suit) "I see you're not taking any chances."
    Dietz: "That's not in my contract."
  • In one episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, Johnny Fever is asked to assist with a Public Service interview program. He loudly retorts, "I don't do Public Service... it's in my contract." When he's reminded that he doesn't have a contract, Johnny responds, "Well, if I did have a contract, I'm sure that would be in there somewhere."

  • Earthsearch 2. Tidy is a cleaning and garment-making robot, but its dexterity causes it to be used as a Do-Anything Robot to handle one crisis after another, ranging from burying a dead elephant to going into battle against Killer Robots. It is not happy about this and doesn't hesitate to make its feelings known.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the First Edition Dungeon Master's Guide, it is stated that expert hirelings (like carpenters, miners, engineers, alchemists and so on) will recognize when they're assigned to hazardous duty and demand up to 30 times their normal pay before they'll perform it.

    Video Games 
  • Spell Fencer Ciggma Khint in Bravely Default works as a hired bodyguard for several early-game bosses, and fights alongside them. He also has a tendency to abandon them when their fights against the heroes start to go bad if they don't agree to cough up even more money, which they usually don't. But even when leaving clients to die to save himself, he still remains as stoic as ever.
  • The Omnicrone you face in Guardia's dungeon in Chrono Trigger remarks "they don't pay me enough for this" and retreats after you land a few hits. If you have the SightScope equipped, you'll see he takes off before his health even reaches the halfway point.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons Online, one mission where you must escort a warforged who withdraws an object from a bank safe turns sour as he turns out to have been on it to steal it from its rightful owner and leave you behind to take the blame. After escaping the vault, you find that you need to disable the alarm to escape, but the city guard has arrived. The optional objective is to disable the alarm without killing any guard. Not without being spotted, without killing any guard. If you use a clever distraction to disable the alarm, the guards just give up for precisely this trope.
    Guard Folger: "Aww..., who turned off the alarm? House Kundarak only pays me to kill thieves when the alarm's been triggered. Today's your lucky day. You're free to go."
  • One of the characters featured in the Machinist job quest chain in Final Fantasy XIV is a roegadyn ex-pirate hired by the Skysteel Manufactory as a marksmanship instructor. He'll often pull this trope whenever the Manufactory starts getting in trouble and must fend off attackers, as he was hired only as an instructor. He gets over this by the end of the quest chain.
  • In the Hitman: Blood Money mission "Dance with the Devil," 47 is given the assignment to infiltrate a party in Las Vegas and take out some rival assassins. When he spots one of them, she's singing (horribly) on stage. When 47 asks a bar tender who she is, he'll say that a local singer was hired to perform, but suddenly died a few days before the party, and the current singer was the only one available on such short notice. When she finishes her performance, 47 can quietly follow her to her an office, where she'll call her handler and demand that she be given an aditional bonus for performing on stage.
  • Kuben Blisk in Titanfall 2 was hired by the IMC to bring the experimental weapon to their base on Typhus, and once it's done, they're gone. This saves Cooper's life, as Blisk isn't getting paid to kill Cooper now that the contract's been completed, no matter how helpless Cooper is.
  • In World of Warcraft, one of the vocal emotes a Warlock's imp will say when you order it to attack is "This was NOT IN MY CONTRACT!"

    Web Comics 
  • In Erfworld, Charlescomm's mercenary forces give their employers precisely what they pay for — and if unforeseen needs arise, then they might be quite amenable to expanding their contract from their newly strengthened bargaining position.
    Charlie's Rules: We are in the business of solving problems for our clients.
    Corollary: Creating problems for our clients creates business.
  • In Kill Six Billion Demons, Allison and White Chain beat a personal bodyguard through a wall. His boss tells him to get back out there, to which he responds that he isn't getting paid enough. He leaves but not before he compliments his opponents.
    Omun Vash: Go on you great lunk, deal with them! What do I pay you for?
    KILLBOSS: This is your problem, you little puke. I ain't being paid enough for this shit. Good fight.
  • Schlock Mercenary had fun with this (what would you expect from mercenaries?):
    Captain Tagon: Commodore, if you wanted us to prop up the faction of your choice you should have put that in the contract.
    UNS Commodore: You might have found our choice... objectionable.
    Captain Tagon: Then we would have asked for more money.
    UNS Commodore: Mercenaries...
    Captain Tagon: You get what you pay for.

    Web Original 
  • Used in this TF2 Smexual when trying to get Dr. Sentrystein to perform certain lewd acts for a... movie... the team is directing.
    Director Spy: Sentrystein, this is getting awkward. Buttsex or GTFO!
    Sentrystein: This wasn't in my contract!

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Garfield and Friends, Jon is trying to get Garfield to chase mice but he refuses as usual. Done in song:
    Jon: You work for me and you've got a job to do!
    Garfield: It's not in my contract. [Hands it to Jon] See Paragraph 2.
  • One of Dr. Drakken's plans to defeat Kim Possible is to create an army of clones. He initially wants to clone Shego, but she emphatically reminds him about the "no-cloning" clause in her contract. He tries to do it anyway, causing her to leave for the rest of the episode.
    • That said, the third Gameboy Advance game has it turn out that Shego's contract includes a few things she didn't know about like giving monkeys flea and tick baths or shelling snails. Drakken said he was planning ahead.
  • The Simpsons: In "Sweets and Sour Marge", sugar is banned from Springfield, prompting Homer to go an island to get some from some smugglers. When their leader tries to collect payment for it, Homer speeds off with the sugar, shouting it wasn't a part of their deal. The smuggler leader quickly looks over the contract for the sugar delivery and as it turns out, Homer is right, prompting him to his men ask who wrote it.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television, but the only people who think it makes you a bastard are those who've never worked on contract — it's hard to say just why giving a client an hour's work for free is guaranteed to make them want ten more hours for free, and just as certainly get pissed off when that free work doesn't materialize, but it is far, far more the rule than the exception.
  • The common military expression is "Above my pay grade" meaning that a matter is to be decided from on high by the powers that be. No dice for stretching the contract, unless an order comes, that is.
  • During an interview just after the release of the Goblet of Fire film, Emma Watson was asked about the future possibility of making out with either Daniel Radcliffe or Rupert Grint onscreen. Her response: "Oh my God, no, no chance, no chance. That's not in my contract!" She ends up doing it anyway in later films.
  • Unionized employees occasionally pull this. As do non-unionized contractors.
  • Justified in that insurers don't always have to pay out for problems resulting from contractors doing work they weren't supposed to be doing.
  • A similarly-phrased term in the film industry is "Not my department". Rather than being about laziness, it's actually based around culpability in case of an accident. For example, if someone on the lighting team asks someone in costuming to help set up a light, and the costumer breaks it, they'll rightfully be blamed for not knowing what they were doing.


Video Example(s):


Sugar Smuggling

When Homer picks up a load of sugar, the smugglers tell him to pay up, only for Homer to leave saying it wasn't part of the deal. The leader double checks the contract to find out Homer was right, prompting him to ask his men who wrote it that way.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / NotInMyContract

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