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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 air time 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, he's 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 him read extremely fast, while what he's 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.

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 Joe Somebody, a pharmaceutical ad plays with an increasingly ridiculous series of side effects listed, finishing with death.

    Live Action TV 
  • Australian political satire group The Chaser parodied the standard Australian political ad closer "Authorised by the Australian Governent, Canberra" in all their parodies of the same ads. The delivery got faster and more indistinct every time.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • 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.
    • Tom also 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."
  • Night Court: Trope 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.
  • Good Omens: 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!

  • 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 
  • 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...

    Video Games 
  • Occurs twice in the first Ratchet & Clank game, 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."
  • 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.

    Web Comics 
  • The Alt Text for xkcd #111 parodies political commercial by rattling-off who paid for it.

    Web Original 
  • In one of The Nostalgia Critic's commercial reviews, 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."
  • 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."

     Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
  • Gravity Falls: The end of Li'l Gideon's ad includes a series of disclaimers, and then the Motor Mouth reader adds, "Carla, I've always loved you but I've never had the guts to say it."
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Puppets", Gumball and Darwin find a parody of flying toys from the 80s to 90s that carves a path of destruction when played with. After it flies out the window, Gumball recites the toy's disclaimer:
    Gumball: Mighty Flyz takes no responsibility for any limbs, eyes, or innocence lost while enjoying the Mighty Flyz line of products.


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