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Rattling Off Legal

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Dave Barry, "Garbage Scan"

The faster the required legal disclaimers are read, the happier the advertisers will be on average.

No advertiser wants to waste expensive airtime on legal disclaimers. But they are required in some situations, either by regulations or to deflect litigation. So, the voice-over guy reads off the copy at speeds that could make your throat sore. In modern times, they're often assisted by a digital audio edit that removes pauses between words. Even more recently, it has become popular to hire someone with a relatively low-volume voice and have them read extremely fast, while what they're saying is being obscured beyond all hell by some form of background music, which is usually rather loud. And the rest of the ad is usually absurdly loud.

The result sounds like No Punctuation Period on cocaine.

Common in ads for prescription drugs, where they talk up a half to 3/4 of the actual ad, ads for new cars (specifically, the dealer financing or lease plans that come with the cars), any campaign featuring a promotional contest, and banks (which — in the US — will always end "Member FDIC"). Related to the Unreadable Disclaimer, which is more common on TV because it is effectively faster than the speed of sound.

Rattling Off Legal still crops up in Radio commercials frequently in part because of the medium the commercial enforces it. Mercifully, there are broadcasting guidelines in the US and Europe to make sure the Rattling Off Legal is not too hard to listen to (i.e., going so quick as to be impossible to follow or comprehend).

Sometimes radio commercials will lampshade this by having the person in the commercial say that their lawyers have to say a few things or something similar, usually addressing the lawyer in a derogatory tone. This is usually more annoying than the rattling. Even worse is the sarcastic Dumbass DJ, who is required to read their radio station's contest policy but adds a bunch of unfunny one-liners in to try to mine some humor out of the requirement when it's just faster to read the legal copy straight.

Even radio station identifications have fallen victim to this trope as of late, where stations not actually licensed to the major city in their metropolitan area say the actual city of license like it's a mark of shame that their station is actually licensed to Lake Success, NY (which major New York City station WKTU is licensed to serve) rather than New York itself; Lake Success is rushed through like it's in the middle of nowhere, while NEW YORK! is emphasized much more.

Parodies only

    open/close all folders 

  • In the late 1970s and early 1980s, radio and television personality Shadoe Stevens produced and starred in a number of off-beat and often surreal commercials for The Federated Group, a chain of electronics superstores in the western United States, often send-ups of parodies of TV shows, movies or other commercials. At the end of one Super Bowl commercial (where he parodies a fast-talking Infomercial pitchman selling "super bowls"), a disclaimer voice-over informs the audience to "Get into Federated now for a Super Bowl of savings! Operators Are Standing By! Offer not available in Squid Valley! Void where inflatable! Buy bonds!"
  • In another one featuring the "'Rabid Frogs Ate Our Warehouse' Bonanza Days" sale (I Warned You it was surreal), the fast-talking voiceover announcer reminds us: "And remember: Fisher products contain no fish by-products!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Joe Somebody, a pharmaceutical ad plays with an increasingly ridiculous series of side effects listed, finishing with death.
  • In Sideways, former soap star Jack mentions to new acquaintance Maya that he mainly does "voiceover" roles currently, and reveals this trope is his particular work.
    Jack: [radio voice] Now with a low, low 5.9% APR financing!
    Maya: That's hilarious, you sound just like one of those guys!
    Jack: I am one of those guys!
    Maya: You are not!
    Jack: [radio voice] Consult your doctor before using this product, side effects may include oily discharge, hives, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, if you have diabetes or a history of kidney trouble... you're dead, asshole!

  • In The Truth, a Dis-Organiser imp rattles off its own licencing agreement in a single breath:
    Imp: This device is provided without warranty of any kind as to reliability, accuracy, existence or otherwise or fitness for any particular purpose and Bioalchemic Products specifically does not warrant, guarantee, imply or make any representations as to its merchantability for any particular purpose and furthermore shall have no liability for or responsibility to you or any other person, entity or deity with respect to any loss or damage whatsoever caused by this device or object or by any attempts to destroy it by hammering it against a wall or dropping it into a deep well or any other means whatsoever and moreover asserts that you indicate your acceptance of this agreement or any other agreement that may be substituted at any time by coming within five miles of the product or observing it through large telescopes or by any other means because you are such an easily cowed moron who will happily accept arrogant and unilateral conditions on a piece of highly priced garbage that you would not dream of accepting on a bag of dog biscuits and is used solely at your own risk.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Australian political satire group The Chaser have parodied the standard Australian political ad closer "Authorised by the Australian Governent, Canberra" in all their parodies of the same ads, in such shows as The Chaser's War On Everything, The Election Chaser and The Chaser Decides. The delivery got faster and more indistinct every time.
    I'd talk slower than this but my car is parked in a tow away zone.
  • Good Omens (2019): Doctor Sable (actually the Horseman Famine) runs a chain of restaurants that serve CHOW: food that consists entirely of fillers and has exactly zero actual food and nutritional content. When handing over orders, the waitress has to press a button that rattles off one of these.
    Voice: CHOW-brand unfood contains spun, plaited and woven protein molecules designed to be ignored by your digestive enzymes, no-cal sweeteners, oil replacements, fibrous materials, colorings and flavorings. CHOW is an edible substance and must not be confused with food. Eating CHOW can help you to lose weight, hair, and kidney functions. May cause anal leakage. Enjoy your meal!
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • Tom does this in a host segment for "Gamera Vs. Barugon" while pitching "5000 Piece Fighting Men and Monsters Set". He sprinkles the ad with hasty phrases like "not responsible for nerve damage".
    • Tom also does this while riffing on "Design for Dreaming":
      Tom: Future may not be available as seen. Personal fates may vary. Future not available in Africa, India, or Central and South America.
  • Night Court: Played with in the episode "Day in the Life" when a defendant refuses to waive the reading of the charges at 11:59:10 pm, knowing if he is not arraigned by midnight, he will be set free. Dan proceeds to Motor Mouth his way through the description of the two counts in 30 seconds and only three breaths. While not a disclaimer, it is legal boilerplate read extremely fast.
  • The Sketch Show: There's a sketch where Lee is selling Ronni various insurance policies before quickly rattling of all the legal stuff he doesn't want his clients to know when she's not paying attention. After he asks her out, he makes an aside in the same manner that he's a serial murderer.

  • Bleak Expectations: After Dr. Curesomebychance assures Pip Bin he will save his wife, Flora Diesearly, he then hastily adds "terms and conditions apply, the health rate of wives may go down as well as up."
  • That Mitchell and Webb Sound has a biscuit insurance salesman. When he actually manages to make a sale, he quickly rattles off:
    Terms and conditions apply — cover may not actually exist — the company reserves the right to double premiums and steal your children at any time — do not bother claiming — it's all a scam
    Nothing, nothing...

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • George Carlin's "Advertising Lullaby" descends into this for about a stanza or two.

    Theme Parks 
  • In Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy, Chick Hicks hacks the show and challenges Lightning to a race, saying if Lightning wins everyone in the audience gets "a huge pile of cash". The hacked screen then immediately starts rolling through all the terms and conditions attached.
    Must be appropriate age to claim huge pile of cash. Not responsible for lost or stolen dollars. One huge pile of cash per customer. "Huge pile of cash" is a relative term. Actual cash value to be determined by Chick Hicks at time of redemption where he will receive at least fifty percent of it. Winner is responsible for all taxes, fees, and Chick Hicks mustache buffering. Offer not available in Orlando, FL.note 
  • Star Tours: The Adventure Continues: During the fake commercials for the ride that playing in the queue, one of the ads ends with Star Tours rapidly listing off all the interstellar accidents they do not reimburse for. Well, it is run by an evil empire...
    Star Tours is not responsible for lost or destroyed luggage, flights disrupted or disturbed by Imperial entanglements, meteor showers, asteroid belts or black holes. Places and tours may vary; hyperspace travel and cam droids not available on all flights. Routes are subject to change without notice. Have a nice flight!

    Video Games 
  • Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time:
    • At the end of a commercial for Dingo's Diner:
      "Food served at Dingo's Diner may not meet the legal definition of food. Consume at your own risk. Side effects of eating at Dingo's Diner may include fatigue, increased body odor, risk-seeking behavior, thinking too much about your uncle, increased hunger, decreased hunger, alienation from friends and family, skin irritation, ennui, leaky orifices, oozing orifices, glowing orifices, additional orifices, gas, wumpa cheeks, remembering that girl from high school (What's she up to? Do you think she's happy?), and profuse vomiting. No shirt, no shoes, no bats!"
    • Pops up again in another commercial during the game's ending, after Dingodile claims his diner is health and safety rated "D" for delicious:
      "Warning: 'D' is a failing sanitation grade and does not stand for delicious."
    • An overly long disclaimer for the game pops up during the credits, ending by saying the events of the game are 100% canonical, "unless you didn't like them, in that case, it was all a dream".
  • In Fire Emblem Heroes, one of Anna: Secret Seller's tap quotes has her offering the Summoner a special discount, along with a string of disclaimers.
    "One-time offer. Restrictions may apply. Offer may change without prior notice and probably at time of checkout. You break it, you buy it."
  • In The LEGO Movie Videogame, after providing sound effects for an episode of "Where Are My Pants?" in the mission "Broadcast News":
    "'Where Are My Pants?' is a trademark of the Octan Corporation. Every time you say it, we deduct royalties from your bank account. We are always watching."
  • In Mass Effect 2, a Parody Commercial for a batarian fast-food ends with a quickly rattled-off disclaimer that it is not meant for consumption by beings based on dextro-amino acids (Yet the advertiser is a turian, one of the said dextro-aminoacidic humanoids. What is he doing advertising a meal that would pass through his stomach like a brick?). Another ad (this one for Tupari sports drink) ends rattling that Commander Shepard's name was used with permission from the Alliance recruitment centre.
  • Occurs twice in Ratchet & Clank (2002), provided by the Qwarkbots that stand outside Captain Qwark's 'fitness and training facilities'.
    "Qwark Enterprises is not responsible for sprains, broken bones, snapped tendons, bruised egos, or accidental death incurred while taking the challenge."
    "Consult your doctor before attempting any strenuous exercise. Not responsible for death or dismemberment. Your results may vary."

    Web Animation 
  • In The Amazing Digital Circus, any human who becomes trapped inside the virtual world of the circus instantly forgets their original name. When the newest arrival discovers this, Caine offers to help her choose a new name and promises it can be anything... before rattling off a terms and agreement statement as fast as he can saying that whatever name she chooses can't have any "objectional content" like profanity, anything sexual, or inflammatory statements.
  • Parodied in a few Homestar Runner shorts:
    • An Easter egg in "Meet Marshie" has a guy rambling "Fluffy Puff Marshmallows and Marshmallow Mayonnaise. Each sold separately. Comes with everything you see here. Batteries not included. Kids, don't eat nails." Then he asks "Is that it? Am I done?" and asks if anyone else wants to go get lunch with him.
    • The Strong Bad Email "the bet" has an Easter egg with a brief Parody Commercial for Butter-Dah with a disclaimer read so fast it comes out as gibberish: "Butter-Dah is noh hush a bush push leopold." This is also how the disclaimer is written.
  • At the end of the Weebl & Bob episode "TLE Club":
    "* Not suitable for use by any age group. May contain small parts which when ingested cause vomiting for people with cat allergies. TLESFC are not responsible. Side effects may include death or dying. People with heart conditions may probably die, as well as anyone else using the laser belt. The laser belt is machine washable."

  • The Alt Text for xkcd #111 parodies political commercials by rattling off who paid for it.

    Web Original 
  • Puppet History features this joke during the Bye-Bye Brothers' song. After they rap poetic about the joys of poisoning people you don't like, the bridge features a lengthy section where the legal team pleads for the viewer to not take them seriously.
  • Will McDaniel's video Customer Service has an employee for the Dubious Meat Company quickly give a legal disclaimer when asked about their company's "Chicky Lumps".
    Mr. Crutch: The Dubious Meat Company in no ways guarantees the quality, quantity, or species of the meat that we produce and sell. Any illnesses or injuries arising from the consumption of a Dubious Meat Company product are inconclusive and can never be proven in a court of law. Any likeness to a religious figure or your family members are purely coincidental and no parts of deities or loved ones are contained within this product.
  • The Nostalgia Critic:
    • In one commercial review, a Burger King Kids Club commercial shows a gorilla sitting down next to some kids. The Critic's voice comes in and reads "Actual odds of getting raped by a gorilla in a Burger King now only 1 in 5".
    • In a review of a commercial for the Slim Suit, he treads off "Scientists also recommend these magic beans, mixed with a placebo brought to you by the tooth fairy...when you're in Oz."
  • WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.: The rapid-fire legal disclaimer at the end of "Tele-Freq Help Section (2003)" says that TeleBlue is not a liberty to disclose what kinds of data they obtain from their customers, and also that they have to sign a waiver upon subscribing. In the case of the latter, it's no wonder why.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Your name may not include...

Forgot your name? Don't worry! In the Digital Circus, your new name can be anything you want!... except it can't.

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