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Dark times are ahead for Meta Knight.
"KEVIN!! YOU SPENT NINE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN DOLLARS ON ROOM SERVICE?!"
Peter McCallister, the last line of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

A character gets the bill for a service they used and is shocked by the price on it. This is usually due to hidden or undisclosed fees that were added on by the unscrupulous merchant. It can also be due to a clueless character ordering expensive room services or meals without realizing the cost, or in cases like Extremely Overdue Library Book, neglecting to pay for something over a long period of time. This presents a conundrum for them as the character doesn't have the means to pay the outstanding balance.

Possible outcomes include:

The bill is often related to room service, fancy restaurants, bar tabs, credit cards, medical services and, in recent decades, cell phones. It's almost an Obligatory Joke in an episode where a hospital is essential to the plot.

A less comical example is a form of extortion racket where a crooked business owner presenting the bill—often a sleazy strip club or bar in a Wretched Hive— is a front for The Syndicate. Any "mark" who refuses to pay the inflated bill is free to "discuss" it in the back alley with the owner's large burly "associates".

This may overlap with Undisclosed Funds if the exact amount of the bill is never shown and Long List if the price is due to the quantity of fees added up. This trope also includes reactions to looking at the price tag. There is almost always a random number of cents in the price.

See also Forgot to Pay the Bill, Ridiculous Future Inflation, and Adam Smith Hates Your Guts.


Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • A commercial for Golden Corral showcasing their low prices has a customer screaming upon seeing her bill at another restaurant.
  • One Mastercard commercial featuring The Simpsons characters shows Homer having to pay $75 for quick snip of a tiny tuft of hair on top of his head.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Area 88 OVA, Mickey is shocked when McCoy hands him an $50,000 maintenance bill for his F-14. McCoy reminds him that an F-14 is expensive to maintain.
  • Black Jack: The good doctor tends to charge somewhere in the equivalent of several million US dollars. He rarely collects that fee, though - it's usually a test to see if the prospective patient is determined enough to go through with it. If you can afford it, however, he'll make damn sure you pay.
  • While an amount isn't stated, when Spike asks in the first episode of Cowboy Bebop why they're so broke when they just caught a bounty, Jet reels off a massive list of collateral damage that took up the entire amount they'd earned.
  • Dragon Ball: After the first Budokai tournament Muten Roshi treats the gang to dinner, not taking Son Goku's Big Eater tendencies into account. The bill ends up taking most of his prize money for winning the tournament.
  • In Final Fantasy: Lost Stranger, Shogo asks the clerk of Gread Treid for information on Raise, a lost white magic for bringing the dead back to life. He and his friends are floored when she asks for an upfront payment of 600 million Gil, an impossible amount for all but the wealthiest people to pay.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Ed becomes enraged when he gets the bill from Ling about the food he and Lan Fan ate in the hotel.
  • In Great Teacher Onizuka, Urumi is blackmailing Onizuka, and orders him to take her and some of her classmates to an expensive sushi restaurant, where they order several platters of expensive fatty tuna. Eventually, Onizuka snaps and buys five more servings for himself and starts eating like there's no tomorrow. Cue heroic music. Then he orders five more servings of abalone and sea urchin. And a sashimi boat. And 10 MORE servings of salmon roe, ark shell, and sweet shrimp. His plan from the beginning was to Dine and Dash, which he does, still clutching the sushi boat, with his students running behind him, pursued by the chef. Then he gets hit by a car and forces the driver to pay his bill. And then goes back to the same restaurant and orders more food. The bill (which the driver has to pay) ends up being over 200,000 yen.note 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: Avdol and Kakyoin are hospitalized for injuries they suffered during the battle with N'Doul. Polnareff initially struggles to read the bill, but is horrified to find that the hospital bill is 46,350 Egyptian pounds.
    • Diamond is Unbreakable: Josuke is shocked to find out that a huge chunk of his savings was spent on Joseph buying a ton of baby supplies.
  • King Dedede in Kirby: Right Back at Ya! has ordered so many monsters from Night Mare Enterprises that this trope was inevitable. In the episode "Waddle While You Work", the N.M.E. sales guy calculates the final cost as 1,170,411,246,413,708,686 D-bills.
    Salesguy: Of course, you understand that this is just an estimate.
    Escargoon: [Dedede] spends like he eats!
  • In the Naruto Land of Sound filler arc, Jiraiya visits a bar and is presented a ridiculously large bill. When he notes this, the bartender calls in a number of armed thugs since he's being "unruly".
  • In only the fifth episode of Pokémon: The Series titled "Showdown in Pewter City", Ash and Misty discuss the upcoming Gym battle against Brock over a meal. After Ash refuses help from Misty, she angrily leaves the restaurant and Ash is left to stare at the bill and subsequently yell for Misty to come back. The bill originally read ¥1150, which just barely qualifies for this trope, but the 4Kids Entertainment dub changed it to a dollar sign without bothering with exchange rates (or even just adding a decimal point to make it $11.50 since assuming "1 yen = 1 cent" will almost always get you in the ballpark), which makes it a rather more potent example.
  • In the Metroid (Manga), Samus saves the day out of a desire to help others, but that doesn't mean she expects to do it for free.
    Samus: (manifests her suit's Arm Cannon) "Adam, the Mimic is a banned biological weapon. I expect 3500 seguru for this."
    Adam: "Wh- You can't be serious, that's three times the market price! We can take it ourselv-"
    Samus: "Too late, I'm already done!"
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Downplayed; when Tohru explains how dragons get energy, the topic of Kanna using her tail to plug into the electrical outlet makes Kobayashi realize that's what has been causing the electric bill to run high.
  • In Muhyo and Roji, Goryo charges Rika, a high school girl, 5 million yen ($50,000 US in the localization of the manga) for exorcising a spirit, and says she can split it with her friend Yumi if it's too much. The two girls are rather disturbed, especially after hearing that Goryo allowed another client to be possessed for not paying.
  • A variation in My Dress-Up Darling where nothing is actually spent yet, but the prices alone are eye-boggling. After getting into a discussion about professional cameras, Gojo looks up several cameras online with increasingly-higher prices that frighten him, especially considering that several of the photographers at the event during Marin's first cosplay had professional cameras. Marin is aware of this and suggests to just stick to their smartphones for the time being.
  • In One Piece: The Movie, though it seems like Luffy and Zoro's gorging of Ganzo's udon is gonna cost them a fortune, it all only comes up to a meager 11 berries. And even then, the two can't actually pay for it.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: In Chapter 57, Itsuki meets Shimoda, a former student of her late mother Rena who works now as a cram school lecturer. Shimoda invites Itsuki to a local cafeteria and treats her to all the cake she wants to eat. Naturally, Shimoda is left with a rather big bill to pay after Itsuki leaves.
  • Rebuild World:
    • Akira is left with a 60 million aurum bill for medical treatment following his fights with the three Relic Thieves, only half of which was covered by his original payment. Hearing this nearly makes him lose consciousness then and there, but Kibayashi instead offers him a deal: the government will cover his bill and give him 100 million aurum in exchange for having his combat record wiped and not breathing a word of this to anyone. For Akira, it's a no-brainer given how little stock he put into said record. This is part of a Government Conspiracy by local officials to cover for their incompetence, and they told the hospital to do every procedure they could in order to force Akira to either give in or come under Indentured Servitude to pay it off.
    • Later Akira is being taken to an expensive restaurant with Impossibly Delicious Food by Shiori, who is the bodyguard to the Ojou Reina, as part of an apology. Due to Akira being a Big Eater, the restaurant staff are shocked by the bill he racks up but Akira never learns of it besides that he couldn't afford it on his own.
    • At one point Sheryl is given a tally of all the money Akira is owed for everything he’s done to help her and her gang in order for her to be able to pay him back, and it comes up as nearly 4 billion aurum, one billion of which was from a single day where Akira lost his up-armored Cool Car. Akira doesn’t really care about it, but Sheryl uses it in a gambit to get money out of the other gangs.
    • Carol, whose side job is as The Oldest Profession, charged a hunter named Babalodo 10 billion aurum for one night with her. He ends up stealing from his team, and trapped in Indentured Servitude in the aftermath.
    • At one point when Akira is unable to access his home city and the Friendly Shop Keeper there he usually buys equipment from, the Intrepid Merchant Katsuragi comes to him with equipment he figures Akira can’t afford yet, inflated to "the wasteland price", in order to try and get Akira into his debt and thus profit off of him like that. Katsuragi's plan ends up Gone Horribly Right when Akira spends 18 billion aurum on the equipment which leaves Katsuragi collapsed in a fit of laughter and Sheryl in shock.
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero: When Queen Mirelia was about to banish Malty, she changes her mind and instead hands her a piece of paper, which is a bill for the money demanded of her by the guild. Malty pales in shock at the outrageous amount she owes, a sign of her careless spending of the royal treasury. Naturally, she whines that she can't pay it.
  • Spy X Family: The bill from renting a castle and all the furnishings for Anya to play being saved from a castle as an award for being enrolled cost a high price.
  • In the third chapter of Tokyo Ghoul :Re, Urie hands in his receipts for his monthly investigation expenses. Sasaki is comically horrified and confused when his subordinate tosses him the receipts for ¥198,220 ($1,777.98 USD) in taxi fares.
  • Toriko: Being a Big Eater, the titular character is prone to getting these from the restaurants he visits. Of course, he's also frickin' loaded, so he's able to pay his bills without hesitation. Komatsu is the one who typically gets shocked at how much Toriko spends for his food.
  • One episode of You're Under Arrest! has Yoriko during her day off running into a young man (later revealed to be a foreign prince from a Mid-Eastern country) who's having an argument with a restaurant owner for not paying the bill. Yoriko offers to pay for him, and gets shocked when she sees it goes up to 30,000 yen.

    Asian Animation 
  • In the first episode of Chuck Chicken, Chuck takes a job to stop a volcano from erupting for a $10,000 reward. Not only does the mayor not pay him for unwittingly filling the volcano with holes using Don and Dex's drilling vehicle, when Chuck accidentally makes the whole volcano collapse, he's charged $10,000,000 (1,000 times what he planned to earn) for it.

    Comic Books 
  • A very frequent punchline in Archie Comics strips and covers, usually in the form of this joke:
    Veronica: What did you order?
    Archie: Separate bills!
    • Used quite seriously in one story in which Reggie tells everyone about a phone service that you can call to hear jokes (from what we're shown, they're quite funny). What he doesn't tell anyone is that this service adds extra costs to the bill, and his friends and others rack up some serious bills. When Reggie is called out on his omission, he says it's not his problem. For his part, Archie sells his comic collection to help pay the telephone bill, which impresses his father.
  • In Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, this happens left-and-right in New Hong Kong and throughout the Gallimaufry, most routinely with Buck's hiring fees; and also with cheapskate bar owner Al's reaction to a not-so-good deal on 20,000 gallons of super-cooled mega-joy juice.
  • In one page of the French comic Les Zappeurs, the father is furious to discover a 18121F (about 2800€) phone bill. Turns out the grandfather had inadvertently bought a cell phone, which he'd been mistaking for a TV remote for the past two months (unwittingly making pointless calls with it).
  • In "Zio Paperone e lo slogan invincibile", a Donald Duck story, Rockerduck causes widespread panic in the city by accidentally adopting a panic-inducing Brown Note as his advertising slogan. Not only his sales plummet, but he soon gets visited by the furious mayor, who gives him "the biggest fine ever". Cue Rockerduck screaming when he looks at the amount to pay.

    Comic Strips 
  • Bloom County: Opus managed to rack up $3,000 from "dial-a-mom".
  • Calvin and Hobbes: In the arc where Calvin breaks his dad's binoculars, Calvin calls a store asking how much a replacement pair would cost.
    Calvin: ONE TO SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS?! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT MY DAD'S GONNA DO TO ME?!?
  • In Garfield:
    • Garfield noticed that Jon racked up a bill of $542.16 for using the Dial-A-Compliment service in the July 28th, 1994 strip.
    • In the September 5th, 2013 strip, Jon gets a very expensive bill for his refrigerator being cleaned. The cleaner stated that he lost his two best men in there because of the expired meatloaf.
    • In the December 27th, 1980 strip, Jon screams in shock at his electric bill complaining it's been raised again. Garfield falls asleep on top of the bill.
  • One Popeye arc had Olive Oyl inheriting twenty million dollars. Getting a big head, she decides to make a movie about herself with the money, but expenses soon tally up to twenty-five million dollars. Olive goes mad from the shock and trying to cure her becomes the focal point of the next arc.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In D3: The Mighty Ducks, The Eden Hall varsity hockey team invites the freshman hockey team to a fancy dinner and then sticks them with the bill. The freshman team ends up washing dishes, and they swear to get revenge on varsity, leading to a prank war.
  • In A Dennis The Menace Christmas, David Bratcher is an insurance salesman who sells a special insurance called the Dennis Clause, where Henry and Alice have to pay for any damages caused by Dennis. When Dennis is chosen by the neighborhood to bring some Christmas cheer to Mr. Wilson, who hates Christmas, his misguided attempts result in Mr. Wilson being hospitalized, arrested, and having his house catch fire. As David had sold the Wilsons his Dennis Clause insurance, Alice and Henry end up having to pay for Dennis' damages. Mr. Wilson finds out the total is approximately $45,000.00 when Bob the Angel puts him through Yet Another Christmas Carol, and if Mr. Wilson doesn't drop the charges, it will result in the Mitchells selling their house and Dennis becoming as bitter about Christmas as he is in the distant future. Fortunately for the Mitchells, Mr. Wilson does drop the charges.
  • Fletch: while Fletch is at the country club he orders lots of food and liquor and tells the waiter to put it on another guest's bill. When the other guest gets the bill he's shocked by the amount and tries to find out who did it.
  • The bill Conrad van Orton gets hit with by Consumer Recreation Services in The Game (1997) turns out to be a lot more than he anticipated; fortunately, Nicholas agrees to split it with him.
  • The final scene of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York has Buzz being delivered his little brother Kevin's room service bill. Their father, Peter, is not happy.
    Buzz: Merry Christmas indeed. Oh, Dad...
    (the scene cuts to Kevin outside)
    Peter: offscreen) KEVIN! YOU SPENT $967 ON ROOM SERVICE?!?
  • In the '40s film I Accuse My Parents, the start of Jimmy's life as a mob courier is when he gets a $77 check for his birthday dinner - a small fortune for a young man making $25 a week selling shoes. The local mob boss had tricked him into going to a restaurant far more expensive than he could afford so that he could ensnare the kid into working for him - he needed a new guy the police wouldn't be watching to transport stolen goods.
  • In Innerspace, after Tuck's pod is injected into Jack, he starts trying to figure out what's going on while Jack is ringing up items at his job. His attempts screw with the scanner, causing the items to ring up at hundreds of dollars each.
  • Late for Dinner: one of the main characters tries to order food after spending a few decades in cryogenic stasis. When the girl at the counter tells him how much it is, he exclaims "That's highway robbery!... Ma'am."
  • Occurs in National Lampoon's European Vacation when Audrey calls her boyfriend on a hotel phone from England. And decides to wait on hold while he goes to have dinner. The hotel stay itself is prepaid, so her father is first confused when told there's a bill to settle, then horrified.
  • In What's Up, Doc?, Howard goes to a drugstore to pick up some buffered aspirin. Judy (who he hasn't actually met yet) picks out a clock radio and behind Howard's back, tells the cashier to put it on her "husband"'s tab. The cashier tells Howard that the total is around $16.
  • In White Christmas, Bob's reaction to the estimate on how much the Christmas show is going to cost is "Wow!", which is apparently "Right up there between 'ouch' and 'boing'."
  • In The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan's father Max loses his temper over Jordan about the multi-paged American Express bill confirming that Jordan has spent over $430,000 in only one month. Jordan claims the bill was for business expenses, but then it turns out he spent the money for dinners and prostitutes. Jordan isn't too worried though, mainly because of the illegal ways he is earning wealth at Wall Street.

    Jokes 
  • There is a joke about a woman undergoing several plastic operations. In the end, she asks the surgeon whether he can make her eyes large and expressive. The doctor says "No problem, here is the bill".
  • Why are ET's eyes so big? Yours would be too if you saw his phone bill.
  • There's an old story about a woman who, furious at her boyfriend for leaving her, broke into his house while he was on vacation. When he came back, he didn't find anything missing, but his phone was off the hook and an odd voice was speaking on it. He hung it up... and when his phone bill came in, realized that the entire time he was gone, his phone was calling the time-and-temperature line in Tokyo.

    Literature 
  • Adrian Mole:
    • In The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Adrian runs up a huge phone bill accepting reverse charge calls from Pandora in Tunisia. He desperately tries to hide this from his parents, until the phone is cut off.
      I called the post office and pretended to be my father. I spoke in a very deep voice, and told a lot of lies. I said that I, George Mole, had been in a lunatic asylum for three months, and that I needed the phone to ring the Samaritans etc. The woman sounded dead horrible, she said she was sick of hearing lame excuses from irresponsible non-payers. She said the phone would only be reconnected when £289.19 had been paid, plus £40 reconnection fee, plus a deposit of £40!
    • In Cappuccino Years, the following printed notices are placed on the seats at William's Nativity play, which are blatantly ignored by the audience:
      Please do not take flash photographs. Kidzplay will be selling official photographs in the new term, at £28 per pack. Please note, it is not possible to split packs.
  • In Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad, the travelers are stunned when they are hit with what they think is a gigantic bill by the hotel owner on the Azores for a festive meal. Things get better when they realize that this is due to Ridiculous Exchange Rates and that they owe much less than they thought.
  • In Return to Planet Tad, Tad's mother gives him her old cell phone as a birthday gift. She and his father forbid him from calls other than from or to them, but don't specifically forbid the use of text messaging. He soon starts text messaging like crazy and also uses the phone to update his online blog. It transpires that the phone did not come with a text message plan and when his parents are hit with a $127.40 bill (20 cents times 637 text messages), they forbid him from doing anything with it other than talking to them on it and also require that his ringtone be "I'm a Little Teapot."
  • A minor example is found in Propeller Island by Jules Verne. A few people find themselves on a mobile island inhabited exclusively by millionaires. Being unaware of that, they are quite surprised at the first restaurant bill they get.
  • Magyk, the first book in the Septimus Heap series, describes a situation in which two feuding sisters abused the Message Rat service by using the message rat Stanley to convey their arguing messages, eventually descending into simply sending him back and forth with nothing to say. It was their mother that received the shockingly expensive bill, resulting in the cancellation of the service.
  • In "Something for Nothing" by Robert Sheckley, a man finds what seems to be a wishing machine. Throughout the story, several people attempt to take it, and he barely fights them off. It turns out he should have let them take it - the machine was nothing but a device for ordering. In the end, he has to pay over 18 billion credits. Working in marble mines. For 2-3 credits a day. The only thing given for free, apparently, is immortality, which he ordered just before being given the bill.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In an old Turkish folktale, a poor boy asks for some food from an innkeeper, promising to pay him back when he can. The innkeeper gives him a bowl of boiled eggs, for which the boy is grateful. Many years later, the boy is now a rich merchant, and returns to the inn to ask how much he owes for the eggs. The innkeeper tries to charge him 10,000 akches, reasoning that the eggs would have hatched into hens and grown up to produce more eggs and more hens if they hadn't been eaten. When the merchant refuses, the innkeeper takes him to court. The folk hero, Nasreddin Hodja, comes along and promises to represent the merchant. At the trial, Hodja comes in late and declares that he's had a genius idea: instead of eating his boiled corn for breakfast, he planted it so he'll harvest it and get rich.
    Innkeeper: That's ridiculous! You can't grow corn from boiled kernels!
    Hodja: Oh? Then how could you hatch chickens from boiled eggs?
    • The court howls with laughter, and the judge not only rules in favor of the merchant, but fines the innkeeper for wasting his time.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Used as the last joke on the Alice Cooper episode of The Muppet Show when Gonzo appears in a flash of fire and brimstone. In his hand is something even worse than a Deal with the Devil: the bill from Special Effects, which is enough to frighten everyone on stage.
    • Similarly, in the tv special The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years, the Muppets from all the various projects, from Sam and Friends to Fraggle Rock are gathered together in a banquet hall. In the final scene, Jim Henson is at a table and is given an absurdly large bill.

    Radio 
  • Dead Ringers: A 2022 episode has Today reporting on a family who were alarmed when they received an energy bill of one million pounds. They complained to the energy company, who apologise for the mistake and send them the corrected bill... of two million pounds.
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "The Tape Recorder", Walter Denton purchases an expensive reel-to-reel tape recorder, and bills it to Madison High. Truth in Television, as tape recorders cost hundreds of dollars at the time.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In later editions of the RPG Paranoia, getting slapped with one of these by a oh-so-helpful service agency is yet another way in which a player-character can end up being hopelessly screwed.

    Theatre 
  • In the second act of La Bohème, the Bohemians find they've run up an enormous bill at Café Momus (and, inexplicably, Schaunard's fortune has already been spent). Musetta steps in and passes the bill off on her Meal Ticket, Alcindoro, who takes one look at the bill and faints.

    Video Games 
  • Battle Chess: In the event that a Pawn takes the King, the Pawn withdraws a tax statement and shows it to the King, whose eyes go wide, clutches at his chest, and promptly dies from a heart-attack.
  • Chrono Cross: The "Dragoon Cafe" ending has the Acacia Dragoons open an orphanage, which they fund via an attached cafe run by the Dragoons themselves. When Dark Serge and his allies dine there, they're shocked by the ridiculously high bill they're presented with after their meal. When they try to dine-and-dash, they are then introduced to "the complaints department" - Zoah.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Played for Laughs in the Hildibrand 3.3 quest, "The Gigi Situation." During one of his many poses, he knocks over an expensive vase and then gets the bill from a very angry shopkeeper.
      Frine: "One hundred and twenty three million, five hundred and four thousand gil at last assessment. 'Twas over seven hundred years old and graced the homes of a dozen archbishops, eight counts, two lord commanders, and one duke."
      Cyr: <cough> One hundred million gil!? <wheeze> (he drops to a Pose of Supplication) O Halone, why have You forsaken me...?
    • In the Stormblood expansion, Gosetsu's katana ends up in the hands of a Hingan merchant. Alphinaud, as a gift to Yugiri, buys it back for the asking price without even attempting to haggle, sending the bill to the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. While the player never find out exactly how much he paid, we DO see Tataru's reaction to the receipt - immediately upon reading it, she demands Alphinaud meet her at the office for a talk. During their travels, Alisaie points out that a good-quality katana like Gosetsu's is worth enough to buy a housenote  and furnish it. "Which you would know if you bothered to check the price." The next time the player regroups with Alphinaud, he's so afraid of reinvoking Tataru's wrath that he refuses to even buy so much as a cup of tea without counting every penny he has, much to Alisaie's consternation.
  • Partway through Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, Kenshiro accidentally breaks an old woman's vase. He is then told it's worth one hundred million IDL. This leads to a chain of events that results in him becoming the manager of Eden's nightclub, opening up the "Manager Ken" minigame. And yes, the game expects you to pay it all back... if only to finish a Side Quest. Plotwise, you can ignore it completely after you unlock the minigame.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In Twilight Princess, Link has to threaten a certain character with one of these in order to get him to divulge some plot-important information. The description says that the total amount is 'astronomical'.
    • In Spirit Tracks, Renzo demands a full 5,000 rupees from Linebeck III in order to repair the Broken Bridge to the Ocean Realm. Linebeck himself decides that Link is paying for that, giving that he wants the bridge to be repaired.
  • The Zeekeeper's bill to help take down Bowser's Castle in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. The mystical guardian figure actually treats the thing like a rockstar/actor's expenses bill, complete with hotel, dining, souvenirs, medical and insurance, ending up with a charge of 80 million coins. Mario's reaction when Prince Dreambert and Dreamy Luigi say he'll pay said bill is priceless (beforehand he even says Mario will hand over every single coin he's got).
  • The entire plot of The Misadventures Of Tron Bonne centers around paying off an absurdly expensive loan to a Loan Shark which Tiesel took out to buy the Gesselschaft. Said loan shark, Lex Loathe, holds Tiesel hostage until Tron can scrounge up the money, which she does by raiding towns, stealing stuff, and even via a little bit of dungeon crawling. When she gets enough, he points out that she also owes interest. When she gets enough for that, he points out she owes interest on the interest. At this point she just goes in guns blazing and rescues Tiesel.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 4: Yosuke reacts with shock when he finds out Teddie has eaten 10 bowls of ramen on the receipt. And before that, Yosuke says he almost pissed in his pants when he found out the price of the clothes bought for Teddie.
    • In Persona 5, Sojiro takes the Player Character and Futaba out for sushi near the end of August, and is shocked when the bill comes back as 120,000 yen. Since he owns a coffee shop that doesn't see much business, this is a lot for him.
  • The premise of Recettear is Recett being left with such a debt after her father disappears, and having to open an item shop to earn enough money to pay it off. When Recett asks Tear (her fairy debt collector-turned-assistant) how much the total figure is, she refuses to say, for fear of provoking the fainting responsenote .
  • The Druuge in Star Control II offer to buy a couple of your items for "all the fuel your ship can hold". Your flagship is fully customizable, so your fuel capacity can range anywhere from 10 (hardly any fuel at all) to 1610 (a massive amount of fuel, worth more than 10 of the most expensive escort ship in the game). If you are given very little fuel, the Druuge officer celebrates his amazing deal. If you are given a moderate amount of fuel, the Druuge officer comments that it's a fair trade. But if you are given a very large amount of fuel, the Druuge officer panics at the massive bill he faces.
    Druuge Officer: Aieee! I am ruined! You have sucked my full tanks until they are dry! Cruel Monster! Bloated Villain! Slicer of innocent throats! What shall I tell the Manager?! My spouse?! I shall certainly be assigned to tend the furnaces. I shall burn in the atomic fires! Aieee!
  • After Star Fox 64's credits, The Stinger is of General Pepper receiving an invoice for the Star Fox team's services rendered amounting to $64 per point of your final score. Score low enough and he won't care enough to comment, but if you hit a score of 780, he'll call the resulting bill for saving the system steep but Worth It. If you've scored over 1094 points, Pepper will let out a Big "WHAT?!".
  • In Tales of Xillia 2, Ludger is pinned with a massive bill by Rideaux for some medical treatment he gave him without consent, and proceeds to give him additional charges for keeping Elle in his custody (abusing his position in the local MegaCorp to do so). He ends up with a bill of twenty million gald in total, and you're required to pay it off little by little as you progress through the story.
  • In Law's ending in Tekken 5, after using up the prize money to pay his son's hospital bill, Paul comes to him in a rickety bike carrying loads of wreckage with him. As he collapses in front of his friend, he hands him the bill for the wreckage, having pegged it on Law, who does a Wild Take. When Paul asks him to pay, Law simply knocks him out and runs away.
    • Likewise in Tekken 8, after Law has won the right to the Mishima Zaibatsu, he is given a bill for the damages the Mishima Zaibatsu racked up thanks to Jin causing World War III. The resulting bill has so many zeroes that Law straight up dies from shock.
  • Near the end of the story mode of Tony Hawks Underground 2, Nigel Beaverhausen tells Tony and the rest of the skaters of the World Destruction Tour that he would promise to pay for the whole tour if they have him film the whole thing in video. Tony and Bam agree right after Phil shows them a bill to pay for the destruction they have caused during the tour ($21,117,55.84 to be exact).
  • Meter Maid's ending in Twisted Metal 4 has her deliver a bill for all the traffic violations Sweet Tooth has committed. According to Sweet Tooth's midget clown sidekick, the total for the tickets run into the millions, but Meter Maid offers to waive it in exchange for some..."community service." Sweet Tooth eagerly agrees, only instead of sex with Ms. Fanservice, he ends up stuck in a lecture on safe driving.
  • One "Majima Everywhere" event in Yakuza Kiwami has Majima disguise himself as a bartender, then offer Kiryu a variety of liquors. He then demands a ludicrous amount of money for it. This is done with the full expectation that Kiryu will refuse to pay and give Majima an excuse to fight him over it. After the fight, Majima is greatly amused that he managed to pawn off rotgut as top-shelf booze to Kiryu.
  • At the beginning of Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, one of the first items Zak picks up is an unpaid phone bill. If you read it, Zak will exclaim "$1138! I'd better pay this soon!"

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In Case 3 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, Furio Tigre was involved in an accident that led to a woman being taken in for surgery and the bill for the procedure was one million dollars. Naturally, nobody would pay such a sum, if the woman wasn't the granddaughter of a mob boss.
    • In Case 1-4 of The Great Ace Attorney, Naruhodo and Susato spent a single night in a very luxurious hotel, only to discover that the bill was £3 (about £430 or $587 as of the 2021 English release). Susato laments that they spent the equivalent of a roof over their heads for an entire year in a Japanese lodging house.

    Web Comics 
  • Dominic Deegan: A more justified use in the "Battle for Barthis" arc in that the bill in question covered both rebuilding the entire town of Barthis after it was destroyed and repaying Gregory's debt to the kingdom.
  • General Protection Fault: Fooker got his very first mobile phone and started using it for all sorts of things. Unfortunately, he used pay as you go... thud.
  • The Whiteboard: Doc's tab at Howie's is long enough to stretch from the bar to a booth on the far side of the building, fortunately he paid for himself the time Red agreed to buy for the whole gang, who only cost him $125.
    • A later story had Doc receive a power bill that made him balk at six-hundred and seventy five thousand dollars. Which was even more impressive considering they have over a dozen in-house nuclear reactors.

    Web Original 
  • Homestar Runner:
    • In the Strong Bad Email "extra plug", Strong Bad plugs his new energy-sucking "'Lectric Boots" into the King of Town's power grid (disguising it as an "auxiliary food-related thing"). While we don't see the bill, the King does complain "This electricity bill is pretendous!"
    • Played with in "environment". Strong Sad and Marzipan complain that Strong Bad's Lappy drains too much energy, enough that his monthly electric bill "uses eight trees' worth of paper", and Strong Bad is shocked that this is considered out of the ordinary.
      Strong Bad: Are you trying to tell me that $70,000 power bills aren't the norm?
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero: In Chapter 76 of the webnovel, when Queen Mirelia was about to banish her, she changes her mind and instead hands her a piece of paper, which is a bill for the money demanded of her by the guild. She pales in shock at the outrageous amount she owes, a sign of her careless spending of the royal treasury. Naturally, she whines that she can't pay it.
  • Burnie and Gavin of Rooster Teeth related a time they had gone to dinner with Dan Gruchy, where Dan got loaded up on every fruity cocktail on the menu, under the impression that they were complimentary. His $350 bill was quite a shock for him. Watch the Animated Adventure here.
  • StacheBros: In the Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon episode of "Luigi Time!!!", Luigi receives a very expensive bill for Mario's de-paperization operation, the amount of which we don't find out, and tries to convince Toadsworth not to charge them for it to no avail. However, after Luigi deals with a Boo infestation in the hospital, Toadsworth decides to let them go free of charge.
  • Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers: In "The Wacky Wario Bros.: Money Mayhem", while Wario and Waluigi mess up and dance in their new mansion, a tax collector sends them a furniture, strippers and housing bill, which reads that they must pay $199,230,203,020,320,302,232,322,323.note  Wario instead ignores the bill and kills the tax collector.
  • In the YouTube Poop video Wallace and Gromit: The Hearse of the Square Babbit, the titular duo charge ridiculous fees for their rabbit catching business: one poor sap is charged £25,000 for a single rabbit. If the clients can't pay, Wallace and Gromit will cheerfully release the rabbits and drive away.
  • In one What If?, You get this if you switch on an 11 petawatt hairdryer.

    Real Life 
  • In Australia, patrons who subscribe to Foxtel are required to pay:
    • $60+ per month for the "Entertainment" pack, a compulsory basic package.
    • An extra $10 per channel pack for HD programming.
    • $125 for installation.
    • Up to $75 for the iQ2 set top box and remote.
    • A monthly fee of $15-20 per rental box.
    • $2 for paper bills.
    • $1.50 to pay over the counter at a shop/post office.
    • An early termination fee of $300 to get out of a 12-month contract.
    • In total, they will have spent over $980 in just one year (or $1,280 with the payment of an early termination fee).
  • The FCC has noted that, due to the complexity of mobile phone plans, 17% of customers experienced a "Bill Shock" at some point. The highest value complaint to the FCC in the first half of 2010 was in the amount of $68,505.
    • A woman in Florida got a cell phone bill for over $200,000 after spending two weeks in Canada. It was later reduced to $2,500.
    • A woman in France received a rather substantial phone bill of 11,721,000,000,000,000 euros; (5,000 times the GDP of France itself). The phone company was kind enough to allow payment in multiple installments. It was then revealed to be in error; she actually owed only 117.21 euros: 0.000 000 000 001% of the original bill.
    • One family from Singapore that went on vacation got a rude surprise when they forgot to disable their data plans while overseas and racked up a $3000 bill over the course of a few days. Starhub later tried to prevent future repeats of such incidents by introducing roaming-dedicated data plans specifically tailored to travelers, and a data cutoff point when the overcharge rates exceeded a certain amount. In any case, Singaporean telecom companies offer pre-paid SIM card plans for travelers, giving them a good choice of temporary local phone numbers with reasonable billing schemes for data on a daily basis.
  • In Finland most fines are tied to the income of the offender to ensure the ultra-rich don't ignore laws because they know they can afford it. One Nokia executive was hit with a $100,000 ticket for driving 15kph over the limit. Multiple countries employ a similar system.
  • More than a few people traveling to other countries might experience sticker shock if they forget to take their exchange rates into account.
    • Becomes a great deal more extreme when a country has recently experienced a currency crisis. In the early years of this century, people used to joke that the quickest way to become a millionaire was to change one British pound into Turkish lira. note  To continue the lira theme, Italians before the introduction of the euro would routinely expect to be paid multi-million-lira salaries, since the lira was worth so little - one or two thousand were equivalent to one dollar/ pound/ deutschmarknote .
  • This has become a common occurrence when children are given access to Allegedly Free Games. The kids might not realize that the in-game purchases were in real money, and the parents might not know that the game would let them make the purchases for 15 minutes after they last used their account password without prompting for the password again. To give an example, when the parents of an 8-year old girl let her play the game Smurfs' Village on their iPhone, she bought $1,400 worth of Smurfberries in the game. The publisher Capcom Games and Apple received many similar complaints about this issue from parents seeing $100+ bills on their accounts.
    • In a related example, this wildly irresponsible child spent over 1000 pounds sterling on his Xbox then blamed Microsoft.
    • This can also happen when children can use their household smart speaker. One little girl bought a dollhouse and a stack of toys by asking Alexa for them. Her parents first planned to return the toys, but turned it into a teachable moment by taking the girl to donate them to a children's hospital.
  • A pretty common scam in a lot of countries. Cute girls find a foreigner (as all foreigners are rich!), invite him to a tea ceremony, and the final bill ends up being relatively expensive. The scammers pay their share, but they get their money refunded after the sucker leaves.
    • In a similar vein, bottle bars, also known as clip joints. Upon entering a bar, the guest will be joined by several pretty girls who coax him into ordering many bottles of wine, champagne, and whatnot. When it comes time to pay, the bottles turn out to cost well into the triple digits, and some large men arrive to "protect him" while he gets the money from a nearby ATM.
  • The once-ubiquitous advertisements for mobile content provider Jamster are criticized for being misleading in that its content is provided as a monthly subscription despite the ads making it seem that customers are buying one-off ringtones or wallpapers. A British girl ran up 70 pounds (around US$100) just from ordering said content.
  • Not Always Right has a few instances of this as well. One entry in the Laser-Guided Karma section of the page has a customer who for all intents and purposes should have expected that to happen, because she'd only bought a few free minutes because she'd trusted her teenage girls with phones and they were "responsible adults." Cue her coming back in a few weeks later to get the charges (which were about 500 dollars each) taken off her bill, throwing a fit when they wouldn't (including smashing the phone when she threw it at the worker) then very nearly tearing the front of her brand-new, expensive car off by hitting a streetlight as she attempted to angrily drive away.
  • A patron at a Bobby Flay restaurant asked the waitress to recommend a bottle of wine since he had no experience with wine. She pointed out a bottle and said it cost thirty-seven fifty. When the patron got his bill he found out that it was $3,750, not $37.50 as he expected.
  • Some patrons not accustomed to restaurants in which a gratuity is automatically added to the check may be shocked when they see the additional 20% on their check. This is especially true for large groups, for which the gratuity can easily exceed the value of any single dish served. One incident of this involved the customers arguing to have the gratuity removed only to leave a tip that was larger than the original gratuity.
  • One extreme case in terms of amount: this story about a woman who received an electric bill for nearly 300 billion dollars, specifically $284,460,000,000. It was billed in December 2017 with an initial stated required payment of $28,156 and due in full by November 2018. After a call to the utility company from the son, it was discovered that somehow a decimal point had been put in the wrong spot and the real bill was $284.46.
  • During The '80s and The '90s, it was not uncommon for a 900 Number to be advertised to children or teenagers during Saturday Morning Cartoons, or after-school TV blocks. Typically, these particular numbers were offering kids the chance to talk to a favorite character or a Teen Idol. (Or, at least someone pretending to be that person.) Since these numbers charge extra money by the minute (they're premium-rate numbers), the FCC got complaints from parents who got larger bills than they ever thought possible. New laws went into effect concerning these phone numbers: they have to provide an automated message at the beginning of the call stating that they are a pay-per-call service and that the customer will be billed X amount per minute, they have to allow at least 3 seconds after that message is read during which the caller may hang up without incurring any charges, they must not market any services towards minors, and phone companies must provide their customers with ways to block calls to these numbers and to dispute or contest any errors in billing. (Today, however, these numbers have mostly gone the way of the dodo thanks to these and other restrictions placed on them, as well as toll-free and local phone numbers, due to Internet sites and mobile apps that provide many of the same services for free.)
  • At the Turn of the Millennium, there was a scam that affected landline and cell phone users in the US and Canada. The mark would receive a call from an unfamiliar phone number, stating (variously) that he/she had won a lottery or contest, or needed to settle a debt, or had a family member in distress, or that they had been offered a job, or whatever else might get them to call the number back. When they did, they were routed to a pay-per-call number that had them pushing buttons, or on hold forever, or even routed to a fax machine. It worked because the area code looked like a regular US or Canadian phone number, but it was actually a phone number from a Caribbean country (809, the Dominican Republic, was a popular choice, although there were several others), and therefore the person on the other end would unwittingly rack up international charges. Emailed warnings about this scam would say that the victims had been taken for tens of thousands of dollars, although that was most likely an error in transcription. (Though they were still taken for enough that it was noticeable when it showed up on the bill.) More recent versions of this involve simply persuading victims to wire money overseas.
    • Similarly, there was another scam that went like this: the mark would receive a call from someone claiming to have been arrested and be only getting One Phone Call, but that they dialed the wrong number, and needed to be transferred to their spouse/lawyer/etc. by having the mark press *72 and then the number. What they didn't know was that the *72 is the code to initiate call-forwarding. So then the scammer would give out the number that he/she had just told the mark to transfer them to and have their friends/family/colleagues/etc. call them collect on that number, with the victim unaware (except maybe wondering why he/she wasn't receiving calls), until they received a bill with unusual collect, long-distance, and international charges.
    • There's yet another one that works in a similar manner, although it does not affect residential or cell phone customers (contrary to emailed warnings about this one). It affects only businesses, hospitals, hotels, etc. that still use PBX systems. (The kind where you have to dial 9 and then the number to place an outgoing call. If you do that on a home or cell phone, you'll most likely just get a fast busy signal.) The caller would ask to be transferred to an extension beginning with 9 or 900, and then the business would rack up collect, international, and long-distance charges.
  • Some cities have business taxes and license fees for individuals that do freelance work, even for small jobs. In Los Angeles, some freelancers received tax bills of $30,000 for an assignment that paid $500.
  • Tim Allen's character in the The Santa Clause jokingly suggested that he call 1-800-SPANK-ME as an emergency number. After the movie was released to VHS, Disney got hit with complaints alleging that children were racking up huge phone bills. Unbeknownst to the parents, 1-800-SPANK-ME turned out to be a real number for a phone sex hotline. To prevent repeat occurrences, Disney removed the scene from later home entertainment releases and television airings.
  • This tends to happen at hotels when guests damage or take non-disposable amenities such as towels or linens. Protip: Don't use the towels to wipe blood from cuts, as a barf bag, or even just to wipe makeup off your face. In many hotels, the towels in question are declared biohazards that have to be disposed of and you will be charged for replacements. Similarly, be very careful if you see water bottles, alcoholic beverages, and edible items arranged neatly on a shelf or in a minifridge; as many guests have found out the hard way, using these items will get these items billed to you upon checkout. This is why many hotels require an incidentals/security/damage deposit. A subversion of this can occur should one decide to pay using a credit or debit card, depending on the exact method that the hotel uses for transactions. Suppose the room itself is $200, plus an incidentals hold of $150. You'll see a transaction of $350, but what is actually happening is that the hotel ran an authorization hold of $350, which is less binding than an outright charge (i.e. "hey bank, set this money aside for us, but don't actually move it out of the customer's account yet"). Once the transaction settles, and assuming you don't ring up any incidental charges, the final charge on your bank statement will be $200 as expected. Of course, you have to have $350 in your bank account or credit line in the first place, and the remaining $150 can take time to be available again due to how banks process reversals, so this mechanic can cause headaches for first-time travelers. A common trope amongst hotel workers is a guest checking in, and then resisting providing incidentals because rather than a traditional pay-when-you-check-in reservation, they booked a pre-paid booking and expected to not have to provide another cent upon arrival (usually because they didn't read the fine print on the hotel listing that reads "A valid credit card is required for incidentals").
  • This happens depressingly often in the United States when it comes to healthcare, with people routinely being shocked to find that a visit to the doctor costs something like $150, just to see them for 30 minutes about a fever or stomachache. Usually, the receptionist is kind enough to inform the patient of the co-payment before they see the doctor, but sometimes the charge doesn't come until some days after the visit, thus making the patient believe that the visit is free at first. Emergency trips to the hospital are even worse: go in for a broken bone or cardiac arrest or whatever, get it treated, get a bill in the mail a week later stating that you owe $3,000. As a result, a common criticism of American healthcare is that it's effectively locked out for the lower-class, with the equally-shocking charges for a (subtly mandatory) funeral turning it into a huge Morton's Fork in more extreme situations.
    • Even if you do happen to have insurance, this can affect you. How insurance works is the hospital makes up a fee for a service/medication/device/etc., and charges this bogus amount to the insurance company (creating the illusion that they're saving the consumer money.) If the consumer does not have insurance, then they are charged that bogus price. This can also happen if the insurance company decides that a particular item or doctor is "out of network" and therefore they don't cover it. And anything can be "out of network," from the doctor you see, to the medications they give you, even to something as seemingly small and insignificant as the Vacutainer hub the phlebotomist or nurse attached to the needle (to hold the tubes in place) while drawing your blood. (And, in most cases, you will not be informed of this until you actually get the bill in the mail, and wonder why in the world you're being charged $5000 for a few blood and urine tests and a dose of Tylenol.)
    • When a British woman on holiday in New York ended up in intensive care, eventually losing a leg, following a vehicle crash, some British media outlets focused less on the horror of the incident or the loss of a limb, as on the fact it had happened in the USA. The really horrific thing was the size of a padded-for-profit American medical bill that the poor woman was sure to get. Speculation abounded as to if it could be kept under seven figures in USD.
  • In the wake of a statewide blackout in Texas in February 2021, some customers who retained power were charged at the market rate - meaning roughly 2400 customers of Griddy Energy were on the hook for a combined $29.1 million in fees. Griddy Energy wound up filing for bankruptcy not long after, which meant those customers no longer had to pay the company that amount.
    • However, industrial companies who did not have a fixed rate still were on the hook for the power bills. Rumor on the Houston ship channel was that some plants had bills of more than $1 million per day for week of the Valentine's Freeze.
  • This was a problem with the French Minitel online service in the '80s and '90s before it was superseded by the Internet, as you could buy groceries, train tickets, and flirt on adult chat lines, which were all billed to a user's phone bill.
  • Credit card debt, if you only make the minimum payment. With most cards, you have a grace period where you're charged no interest as long as you pay off the balance in full. If you carry over your balance to the next month, you have to pay interest. This can balloon quickly unless you pay it off. It gets worse if you take out a cash advance, as not only is cash charged at a higher APR than credit card purchases, but the clock starts ticking on interest on top of the amount you borrowed immediately, not just when you get your monthly statement. Miss a payment or go over your credit limit? Be prepared to pay even higher interest rates on top of the late and over limit fees. Under the principle of "universal default," if you miss a payment on any other loan, such as your mortgage or car payment, your rates can go up, even if these loans are with another creditor.
  • The same kind of thing can happen with student loans, which is why you'll hear of people that took out a $25K student loan, never missed a payment or made a late payment, but owe $50K. To make matters worse, student loans in the US cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, nor refinanced, the way that credit card debt, medical debt, car loans, and even mortgages can be. The intent of student loans is that you pay them off later when you take up a job with your shiny new degree, but perhaps the job doesn't pay enough to pay off the loan (in addition to your other expenses, like utilities and food), or it's simply too difficult to find a well-paying job in your field.

 
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Rutger's Glasses Bill

In "Face the Music", Rutger loses his glasses which is very expensive. The last time he lost it, his parents and his doctor fainted over the Shockingly Expensive Bill for the glasses.

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