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"History has proven a thousand times that no man has ever gained from a bargain with The Dark, yet cowards and fools continue to try, and The Dark never turns them away."
—The Mayor, Myth
You know how it works. Want to be a millionaire, or to get back at that obnoxious boss? Well travel down to those crossroads and Mr. S will guarantee your wildest dreams or bring back a deceased relative or friend, if you just sign on the dotted line with your own blood. This trope is Older Than Steam, and does not even require the Abrahamic Devil; any Tricksters or evil deity roughly equivalent to Satan can be used. It reached its current version in the 16th-century legend of Faust selling his soul to Mephistopheles (who technically isn't quite exactly Satan or Lucifer, but still a high-ranking demon).
This trope includes both literal soul-for-gift deals with a literal devil, and crooked deals between any corrupt slimeball (the Mephistopheles role) and a desperate sucker (the Faust role). The corrupter can be offering anything from some shiny new Applied Phlebotinum to making a high school nerd popular, to saving your life moments before death. Occasionally it has no practical value whatsoever. He then asks for something—often apparently innocent at first—that means the total ruin of the Faust if delivered: soul, first born, voice, horseshoe nail...
Note that literal devils always follow through with their end, even if their end is a sinister bastardization of the terms. We never see Mephistopheles take the soul and run; he gave his word and put his name on the dotted line. As icing on the cake, the Mephistopheles sometimes makes sure that the Faust's gift is totally useless - especially if there's a chance at Irony, where lacking their "soul", the element they gave up as payment, is the only thing that makes the gift worthless.
An alternate form is a deal where the Mephistopheles offers the Faust exactly what he wants, if not more, but to get it, he has to undergo an Impossible Task Mephistopheles obviously does not think the Faust can complete, with Faust's soul as the penalty if he fails. Alternately, the deal truly has no strings attached, as it's part of a Xanatos Gambit where the Faust's good fortune or success will deliver the soul of another to Mephistopheles.
Deal with the Devil plots can overlap with What an Idiot!. Some writers try to defend the Faust by having the Mephistopheles make the offer when the victim has no time to think (e.g., offering to save him from the Death Trap in return for something nasty) or by making the contract so long no one will Read the Fine Print (Sloth is a very undervalued sin). Also expect Exact Words and You Didn't Ask to be employed against the Faust.
If you should find yourself suckered into a Deal with the Devil, The Power of Love may be your best bet at defeating the infernal contract. Or you can try your luck (literally) with a Jury of the Damned. Some clever heroes can pull off a Pound of Flesh Twist. With enough power, a Faustian Rebellion is possible.
Common solutions are:
- Ask the devil for something he can't do (like worship God) or that destroys him, which makes the entire deal pointless.
- Make a Logic Bomb, infinite loop, Loophole Abuse, etc. For example, if the devil asks to give him your soul after death, you can wish for immortality. Of course, a true Jackass Genie devil will know that Immortality does not necessarily mean Never-Aging...
- It may be possible to gain enough power through the deal to prevent the devil from enforcing you to keep your promise - or just kill him. See Faustian Rebellion.
- Use your new power to annoy the underworld so much that your deal gets nullified simply to get rid of you.
- If the wish is already wasted, then someone else is required to fight fire with fire by engaging into a new contract and defeating the devil.
- In comical versions, if the devil is female - usually some apprentice demon who always fails - of course she will be insanely sexy or cute (according to Evil Is Cool, Evil Is Sexy, Horny Devils and Cute Monster Girl rule), so why not ask her to become your girlfriend or wife?
- Seem a little too anxious to sell your soul. (See Frank Zappa example below)
- Turn to religion. While rarely used in fiction, there are many cases when a saint or mystic claimed they (or someone they knew) sold their soul to the devil and were saved by the Virgin Mary. In these cases, you merely consecrate yourself to him; he only literally gets the soul after death.
- Prove you'd already sold or given your soul to someone else, a la Homer Simpson.
- Manipulate some tiny, arcane loophole to render the contract null and void. (Rarely successful, Hell is full of lawyers after all and Hasatan literally means "prosecutor".)
Stories of clever individuals who manage to outwit and cheat the devil are especially popular in folklore.
The character who offers the deal is often, though not always, The Corrupter (and not all Corrupters use this as a tactic).
For the occasions when the Devil comes out behind, see Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?.
Compare Power At a Price.
Anime and Manga
- In Soul Eater, a little demon in Soul's head (who resembles the Devil, actually) offers him power in exchange for his sanity.
- Satomi Yajima's deal with Damian in Variable Geo.
- This is the whole premise of the fourth season of Yu-Gi-Oh! and the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the "deal" being gain unstoppable dueling skill, power, and strength in exchange for your free will/soul and vow of service to the leader of the Cult. In fact, GX developed quite a fondness for this trope with...
- Manjyome, with Saiou. (Who trusts a guy who approaches you in the forest in the dead of night, knows way too much about you, and makes it clear that he has inhuman powers?)
- Kaiser, with Saruyama. Once Hell Kaiser *has* the skill and victories he wants, he kicks Saruyama to the curb and goes off on his own. Saruyama is never seen again.
- Professor Cobra, with demonic Judai-obsessed Duel Monster Yubel in Season 3. Though all Cobra really wanted was his son back, not unstoppable dueling skill or anything.
- Amon Garam & Martin Kanou, both of whom gained a portion of Yubel's power to achieve their goals. Martin's being to have friends (so, we get the Martin Zombie Empire) and Amon to be able to kill those he loved without remorse (he got that, too, then dropped Yubel like a hot rock).
- Borderline Lampshaded in a Season 2 Filler episode, where the "devil" is the actual "Grim Reaper".
- Thief King's teaming up with Zorc.
- The anime Hell Girl revolves around a demonic young girl who offers people the chance to instantly send one of their enemies to Hell—although the price for this "service" is that the sender's own soul will also be sent to Hell after their death.
- The creation of the flame man in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch turned out to be from such a deal. He was originally a human that had fallen in love with a weak Panthalassa that had managed to escape the seal. Fuku-chan offered him a way to save his daughter, who had inherited the weakness in body after her mother died. Michal became Michel's mana battery, and her father became the flame pillar, the apparent authority actually ruled by Fuku.
- In Naruto, Sasuke makes a deal with Orochimaru—in exchange for giving him the power to defeat his brother, Sasuke will allow Orochimaru to possess his body. However, he merely learns all Orochimaru has to teach him, at which point Sasuke kills him. Only, not really, as Orochimaru comes back as The Virus.
- Subverted in that Orochimaru didn't intend to honor the deal either and was going to possess him the moment he arrived. The Hero's Five-Man Band (well, The Smart Guy's Five-Man Band) managed to delay the Quirky Miniboss Squad delivering him long enough that a substitute had to be used and bought everybody three years.
- Witsarnemitea in the anime/VisualNovel Utawarerumono loves to grant 'wishes', particularly in the mysterious backstory. For instance, DO YOU WANT A STRONGER BODY? DO YOU WANT TO LIVE FOREVER? ENJOY BEING TURNED INTO A RED JELLY, ASSHOLE. DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ME, PHILOSOPHER? HOW ABOUT I TAKE COMPLETE CONTROL OVER YOUR BODY FOR THE REST OF ETERNITY, LOL. Sometimes you have to swear your entire being away in a contract in order to get help, though.
- However that was more of giving them what they deserved.
- Rather subverted by his sane half though, as Eruru makes the 'ALL YOUR BEING IS MINE' pledge in order to save her sister, but is never really held to it aside from being his companion. For a cosmic thing that offers wishes in exchange for their being, it's like he just uses that as an excuse to have friends. He even completely nullifies her debt to him once he figures out his identity, with no payment or repercussions. His other side, on the other hand...
- This is sometimes the way Yuuko does her work in XxxHolic. She plays the Mephisto straight, where she grants people any wish they desire as long as they can pay something of equal value to the wish (She even refers to this price as a "soul" in one occasion, tough only to mess with Watanuki). For example, when a woman wanted to have a cursed picture that showed her murdering her friend locked away, Yuko's price was that the woman could never have her picture taken or recorded again - dooming her to a life of exile due to the abundance of security cameras around.
- It isn't always the case, though. Although sometimes the results of wishes are quite nasty, sometimes the Faustian parts simply learn a lesson the hard way and move on with their lives, and there are even quite a lot of times where there are no tricks whatsoever and the whole thing is treated as a simple transsaction where both parts get what they want and happily go their own ways. In one case, an internet addict asked for Yuuko to help her break her habit - Yukko asked for an ordinary baby's chair, then destroyed her computer. When called on this, Yukko says that all she did was destroy her computer - the addict can always get a new one. Yukko hopes that seeing her computer destroyed would cause her to rethink her addiction and get help. And since destroying a computer isn't exactly all that hard to do, she didn't have to pay that high a price.
- Also, in keeping with the CLAMP mantra that the dead cannot be revived, Yuko cannot bring the dead back to life because no payment exists to make such a wish "fair".
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle has a more typical example- Syaoran made a deal with Yuko's evil counterpart, Fei Wong Reed, to reverse time in order to save someone, for the low, low price of allowing Ass-chin to clone him. Oh, and borking up the entire space-time continuum.
- Fai makes a similar deal with Reed: Reed promises to bring his twin brother back to life if Fai works for him as a sleeper agent. Reed intends to use Fai to defeat Syaoran, but Sakura interferes and is killed instead.
- The pacts between humans and Shinigami on Death Note work in this manner, as Death Note users gain the power to kill anyone using the book if they know their name and face, but is 'cursed to live a life of misery and unhappiness' (although the curse might or might not be real). An alternate interpretation of the curse (and an idea independently suggested by Near, who never heard of the curse) is that by using the Death Note Light had become corrupted.
- The shinigami can also offer a second deal, exchanging half of the user's remaining natural lifespan in exchange for Shinigami eyes, allowing the user to know the true name of whomever they look upon. The value of the second deal for the Shinigami isn't immediately apparent, but if a Shinigami lost their only note the deal could become the only way for them to extend their lifespan.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ling agrees to let Greed possess him, effectively making him into a humonculus, if it means he'll be that much closer to obtaining a Philosopher's Stone and thus the secret to immortality.
- It's not that clear cut. Ling obviously found immortality tempting, but temptation wasn't the only factor in play. "Father" wasn't letting him out of the situation alive, he couldn't do anything to prevent the infusion and if his body "rejected" Greed he'd have turned out like the poor shmucks that failed to become "Wrath" — not pretty. So his choices weren't "take the deal or don't get your wish" but "take the deal (and sorta get your wish), or don't take it and die a horrible painful death", and it's not clear whether he would have done it if it'd been played straight. As it was, he made the best of an otherwise hopeless situation.
- Speaking of homunculi, one rather odd example is how Father got his start by betraying all those involved in his utterly monstrous pact with the sole exception of Hohenheim, whom he quite honorably split the loot of the scheme with 50/50, zero strings attached. Since he didn't even ask for it, this gift was its own punishment.
- Amestris' Central Command was tempted by Father into a similar deal, which resulted in an absolutely sinister conspiracy. Father actually secretly engineered the formation of Amestris for that exact purpose. This is often overlooked because of the Umbral Circle reversal in the end, but Father betrayed them all to "become God" the same way he did to the last king of Xerxes and his guys. All of this only fuels speculation that he is indeed an analogue of Satan.
- He thinks he's God, although making that true is his aspiration. The beard, the detached arrogant pseudo-benevolence, the 'my son' dropping, the explicit comparisons...the Greed thing, though obviously Father didn't catch that one.
- The Gate. It will give you a lot, especially knowledge with which you will have extreme power over the physical world, but it will take 'something of equivalent value' in exchange, and it will make sure that that is the most ironically painful thing it could take. 'Equivalent Exchange' is the catch phrase, but look at that shit-eating grin on Truth Guy: in this universe, God exists, and he is a total dick. He DOES find a "back door", but has to give up a LOT to do it - more exactly, he has to give up alchemy forever.
- Kimblee in particular is heavily implied in one particular scene to have made such a deal just to see how the homunculi's games would play out. He ends up rebelling and dying in the end.
- Finally, in the 2003 anime version, Lust's shtick was to tempt desperate alchemists into creating the Philosopher's stone with her help. Her backstory contains at least one concrete example of an alchemist she 'inspired' into making the attempt, though her method on the Elrics boiled more down into "make the philosopher's stone or I kill Al."
- The Behelits from Berserk are a means to summon the Godhand, four evil demonic gods who offer their bearers the chance to become demonic Apostles (or in the case of those bearing a Crimson Behelit such as Griffith, a new member of the Godhand) in exchange for the sacrifice of those closest to them, who are transported to hell along with the one presented with the deal and marked with the Godhand's Brand of Sacrifice if the bearer should accept, at which point the monsters come out of the woodwork to eat them alive. They're particularly insidious because they are activated by their bearer hitting the Despair Event Horizon, making the bearer particularly receptive to the Godhand's offer.
- In Chrono Crusade, demons need a type of spiritual energy called astral energy to use their powers and survive. Typically they use their horns to siphon the energy from their surroundings, but when a demon's horns are broken or for some other reason they need to augment their intake, demons can make a contract with a human. The demon serves the human they make the contract with, in exchange for the demon being able to drain their soul in place of astral energy, shortening the human's lifespan drastically. Most of the demons who make contracts in the series follow the typical archetype of being tricksters, but the title character subverts this. He makes a contract with Rosette, a nun, so that he is able to use his powers to help her save his brother, both of whom had befriended him. Throughout the series Chrono questions his decision to make the contract, causing quite a lot of his angstier moments.
- Ciel Phantomhive from Black Butler has a literal deal (or contract, as they refer to it) with demon butler Sebastian; he'll help him in all his endeavors, and when Ciel's goals are accomplished, his soul belongs to Sebastian. So far, Ciel has shown nothing but acceptance for this fact, and has yet to show even an inkling of desire to get out of the contract.
- In the manga, summoning Sebastian may have had nothing to do with Ciel at all. It's suggested that the cult members sacrificed Ciel to summon Sebastian, and the contract began without Ciel's permission. Hence the reason Sebastian was calling Ciel 'small master' before he even offered Ciel his end of the bargain. In the anime, Ciel actually summons Sebastian willingly for the contract.
- The way the flashback scene's set up, there's actually a decent chance the cult members summoned Sebastian for some purpose of their own with Ciel around as an offering, and Sebastian looked around and decided Ciel was the only one worth bothering with. He's a gourmet, after all.
- The actual dialogue is something like "what do you say we make a deal? I'll get you out of here and help you get your revenge, if you give me your soul afterward."
- Given the kind of life Ciel's led, handing his soul over to Sebastian probably doesn't seem like that much of a loss—his optimism is almost completely excised.
- The manga also adds another angle: Sebastian's willingness to fulfill Ciel's every whim isn't just his being Lawful Evil. Nor is it the Ho Yay. Ciel's job as the queen's watchdog, and the trauma it brings him (e.g. Madame Red, the Noah's Arc Circus etc), is tenderizing his soul. Who needs trickery when his prey is ordering him to season it to perfection already?
- Much, MUCH later, everything is explained in the manga. The cultists gangraped and almost sacrificed two boys aka the Phantomhive twins to summon Sebastian. The eldest twin, the REAL Ciel Phantomhive, was sacrificed by the cult; the younger twin, the one the audience knew as Ciel Phantomhive until this reveal took place, attracted Sebastian's attention as he arrived and the kid was about to be sacrificed too. Sebastian then decided to contract with the Phantomhive boy rather than the cultists, "Ciel" accepted the deal, and once it was done he gave Sebastian his first order: to murder the cult members who gangraped the twins and killed his brother.
- In the manga, summoning Sebastian may have had nothing to do with Ciel at all. It's suggested that the cult members sacrificed Ciel to summon Sebastian, and the contract began without Ciel's permission. Hence the reason Sebastian was calling Ciel 'small master' before he even offered Ciel his end of the bargain. In the anime, Ciel actually summons Sebastian willingly for the contract.
- Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass accepts a contract with Mysterious Waif C.C., by which he gains a power to give absolute orders and, in a long run, to change the world in exchange for an unspecified service for her. It turns out, this "unspecified service" is to be Cursed with Awesome/Blessed with Suck by taking C.C.'s place as an undying Geass dispenser. Lelouch even lampshades it towards the end of the first season.
- It's eventually revealed that C.C herself made exactly the same deal. She was a slave girl in Medieval Europe and met up with a nun, who offered to give her a Geass that made everyone love her; when years later she tried to undo the contract since she couldn't control her powers and didn't know any longer whether people truly liked her or not, the nun said that she had tricked her and then fatally injured her, forcing C.C to take the nun's Code and become immortal.
- Mao, Mao, Mao.... He had made a contract with C.C. previously, but his out-of-control Geass drove him completely insane, and turned him into a Psychopathic Manchild when C.C. abandoned him. Ultimately, he has to be Mercy Killed by her at the age of seventeen. The sad thing is, that part of the reason he accepted his Geass might have been to have a caretaker in the first place, since at the time he was horrifically young and living on the streets all alone.
- Given the Geass is always twinned to the user's deeper desires in some way (sometimes with brutal irony), Mao probably wanted to be able to understand people better so he could get them to care about him, or something like it.
- In D.Gray-man, the Earl of the Millennium promises his victims to bring back to life the person they have lost. He creates a metal skeleton and makes the victim call the name of the one he wants to come back. Then, the skeleton kills the victim and wears his skin, creating a monster, an "akuma".
- The soul is enslaved and unable to influence anything, and the form is actually irrelevant, although it seems to have an impact sometimes. Neither survives the first evolution.
- But, in the pilot chapter, Allen was a rogue Akuma containing...I think the soul of his sister. Or was he physically a girl and run by the soul of her brother? Can't remember. But an akuma-killing akuma in sibling's skin that was still recognizably Allen Walker.
- ...in the Naruto pilot Naruto was a fox, Kyuubi's son. Is there a pattern of some kind here?
- Yeah. Humans are easier to sell.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima, Big Bad Fate Averruncus offers Negi a deal, but manages to word it in a way that if Negi had accepted it, Negi would have been magically bound to keep his end of the bargain while Fate would not.
- In the end of the anime he almost makes one of these to bring Asuna back to life but is stopped before he can go through with it. Actually, this deal seems to contradict demonic nature in this series where they are generally no more than a Punch Clock Villain or in the case of the Demon God in the Kyoto Arc, Too Powerful to Live. And the reason why Asuna is dead is one of these too, in which she agreed to die in her 14th birthday in exchange for not having demons following her everywhere.
- Impmon in Digimon Tamers, who was allowed to evolve in exchange for his servitude. Ironically, he's a devil-themed Digimon striking a deal with a Digimon god.
- Even more impressive in that you consider his deal is with Caturamon, who shares his English voice with Devimon, Devidramon, and MarineDevimon.
- In at least the anime of The Slayers, Lina Inverse was offered this during the Gaav/Phibrizo story arc.
- This is essentially The Reveal explaining the plot in Baccano!: the elixir of immortality and the recipe for creating it were given to Maiza by a "demon" he called up. Unusually for the trope, the demon doesn't really make a specific demand in return; his payoff is watching all the chaos that results from the deal; and an infinite amount of intelligence, experiences and 'wisdom' - Received from any immortal who comes to him to die, if they don't want to live any longer, since the method of killing an immortal also gives their memories and information to the killer. Ronnie, the 'demon', is in fact a two-thousand year old homunculus clone of a former self who was also considerably old. Because of this, he is very knowledgeable and relatively omniscient.
- In Yami no Matsuei, the Shinigami have to go to the rescue of a boy receives a cornea transplant that results in him taking on the burden of the previous owner's deal with a demon.
- This is the violin storyline. Highlights include 'The Devil's Trill' (mentioned below as supposedly having been gotten this way in the first place) and the total failure of the animators to even try to make the bow move approximately with the sounds. Also, Tsuzuki gets possessed. No deals necessary.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, a deal with the Endless Witch, Beatrice, sets a large portion of the plot into motion.
- In one Urusei Yatsura episode, Ataru Moroboshi manages to fulfill all the complicated conditions to make a pact with a demon COMPLETELY BY ACCIDENT!
- After which it becomes painfully obvious that the demon made up a bunch of BS in hopes of duping Ataru into giving up his soul quietly (he doesn't even get his own damn name right). It doesn't work out so well...not only does he fail to get Ataru's soul, he ends up losing all the other souls he's collected! He's last seen trying to convince a woman to trade her soul for a newspaper subscription. Man, even evil incarnate can't catch a break in that town...
- This is the subject of one of the fairy tales in Monster. As is typical of Monster's fairy tales, the guy who didn't do it ends up just as screwed as the guy who did, just in a different manner. The moral appears to be: "Sell your soul or don't; it doesn't really matter since you're screwed either way".
- Illegal Contractors in Pandora Hearts make deals with "chains" from The Abyss to change their pasts or give them powers in the present. Oz is Alice's Illegal Contractor, although their whole situation is unique. Break made a deal with the Will of the Abyss herself but the exact details have not yet been revealed.
- In One Piece, this is probably where the name Devil Fruit comes from. If you eat it, it gives you power, but the seas abandon you (i.e., you suffer from Super Drowning Skills).
- You have any interactions with Hiruma Youichi from Eyeshield 21 (actually, even if you don't), you're automatically his slave for life. God help you if you actually make a deal with him.
- In My Balls Satou Kohta enters in a contract with lesser devil Elyse to prevent him from ejaculating and dooming the World.
- In Dororo, Hyakkimaru's back story involves his father striking a deal with 48 demons in exchange for political power. In exchange, each of the demons takes a part from his then-unborn son.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kyubey offers to grant the girls any wish, in exchange for becoming a Magical Girl Warrior and spending the rest of their lives fighting witches. The Faustian references are numerous.
- And in the end they become what they fight against. Either way Kyubey will eat their souls.
- Subverted when Madoka wished to destroy all witches, past, present and future, before they exist. With her own hands. This caused a loop where Kriemhild Gretchen, Madoka's witch form, is destroyed by Madoka herself. Because of this, Madoka ceased to exist as a human and became an ethereal being of hope for Magical Girls. Kyubey was screwed so much, he doesn't remember. Unless that's what he wanted all along....
- The one shot manga, Rokuyoku, had Yoshika make a deal with a demonic cat to steal Yukina's traits so that she can get her friend's boyfriend. It doesn't end well.
- Akuma na Eros has Satan as a Bastard Boyfriend who agrees to help a girl named Miu to snatch the attention of the resident highschool heart-throb. But he demands her virginity as a payment, and is bent on collecting...
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
- The Big Bad, Muzan Kibutsuji, seems to be quite fond of showing up in front of people who are at the lowest points of their entire lives and prey on their desperation to make them demons and then his followers; ie., that's what happened between him and Lady Tamayo, Akaza and Rui.
- As someone who once was a cult leader and now is among the most powerful 12 Kizuki (Muzan's closest followers), Doma is seen doing this as well. It's how he recruited Ume/Daki and Gyutarou.
- The most powerful Kizuki, Kokushibo, subverts this via forcefeeding Muzan's blood to his prospect sires. He got to Kaigaku like this and almost to his descendant Muichirou
- The aforementioned Lady Tamayo also subverts it: she's a demon and she can transform people into demons, but she'd never does it to make them follow her. In fact, she'd only do it after she's asked the other person several times if he/she is willing to be transformed and after explaining the downsides of being a demon. The only person known to have been turned by her is her assistant Yuushiro, and he was an Ill Boy right at Death's door.
- Jack Chick has used this motif several different times, notably in Angels? and The Contract.
- This is arguably a subversion, since the point of these tracts is to contend that Jesus could save you even from one of those contracts if you have the requisite faith.
- The Contract is almost certainly intended as a Deconstruction of The Devil and Daniel Webster, while Angels is an over-the-top Take That to rock music. It's not clear whether Jack Chick really believes Satan has ever showed up in person and tried to buy anyone's soul, though he's willing to work with the idea as a hypothetical situation in his stories.
- In Hellblazer, John Constantine, of The DCU but mostly of Vertigo Comics, has a reputation of usually being able to get the upper hand in Infernal Contracts, earning him the irritation of Heaven and Hell. Most notably, he sold his soul to all three archdemons, meaning he can't die until they've resolved who actually gets it. Being Archdemons, they aren't inclined to compromise, and the only alternative is open war between them - something they are very keen to avoid.
- At some point, though, the First of the Fallen discovered that God had lied to him to keep a power balance in Hell, and he then destroyed his "brothers." However, he is later killed by Constantine's succubus buddy. Apparently, though, He got better
- The case of Ghost Rider of the Marvel Universe and Spawn. In the movie adaptation of Ghost Rider, Mephistopheles plays a little hard and loose with the rules in order for the plot to portray Johnny Blaze more sympathetically. He pricks Johnny's finger while Johnny is just looking the contract over (and thus did not give clear, informed consent), and the splash of blood counts as a deal. He then cures Johnny's father's cancer, but kills said father the very same day via a motorcycle accident. In the Ghost Rider comics, Blaze still made the deal with the devil, except The Ghost Rider is actually an angel. Thus, when Johnny dies and goes to Hell, he can and does escape. If he dies without the Ghost Rider, however, he still goes to Hell permanently.
- Visual Novel Animamundi: Dark Alchemist has a nice variation on this, where the lead character sells his soul in exchange for his sister's life after she was attacked by a monster in the woods. Not only was Mephistopheles the one who attacked her in the first place, he did so because she had sold her soul to him a little while earlier in exchange for her brother's life. Naturally, Mephistopheles is quite pleased with himself for that one.
- There is also a subversion in that game. Dr. Bruno Glening wants a deal with Mephistopheles, but Mephisto finds Bruno so repulsive that he rejects every attempt, and it has gotten to the point where he even refuses to answer the man's summons.
- Subverted by Thanos in Marvel's The Infinity Crusade. Mephisto offers a key piece of information in subduing the Goddess in exchange for one of her cosmic containment units. When Mephisto later returns after the conflict has concluded to collect his payment, he decides to test his new toy against Thanos, only to realize that it is powerless. Thanos then clarifies that, while he had honored their agreement by providing Mephisto with a unit, it was never specified that he wanted one that functioned.
- In The DCU Crisis Crossover Underworld Unleashed lots of villains (and a few Anti Heroes) sell their souls to the demon Neron in exchange for additional powers. (Well, most of them. The Joker did it for a box of Cuban cigars.) Many find that the gifts have nasty side effects. The demon's ultimate plan was to corrupt, and then buy, the soul of Captain Marvel. When Cap selflessly offers his uncorrupted soul in exchange for nothing but the safety of his friends, Neron has no choice but to accept the deal, even though Captain Marvel had offered exactly what Trickster had told him, and so was safe: Neron could not collect if there was nothing in the bargain for the other person.
- In a later story,
KidRed Devil, a former C-List sidekick, is offered super powers by Neron so that he can join the Teen Titans. He is allowed to keep his soul as long as his trust in his hero, Blue Devil, isn't broken, otherwise he loses his soul to Neron when he turns twenty. Naturally, things don't work out; in a Call Back to Underworld Unleashed Neron immediately tells him that his aunt's death was the result of the deal between Neron and Blue Devil.
- Later, the Trickster himself offers Neron a bargain to protect his ex-girlfriend's son and the rest of the Rogues Gallery. He asked for nothing for himself, for the same protection. Fortunately, he only later did the arithmetic for the son's age.
- Another interesting story with Neron came involved, weirdly enough, Santa Claus. After he'd captured the entire JLA, Santa defeated Neron by giving him a Christmas present with no strings attached and asking for nothing in return, which violated his every rule of trade and contracts. This was just a bedtime story told by Plastic Man....
- In a later story,
- A light-hearted parody. In the Hong Kong comic The World of Lily Wong the hero worked for a deeply immoral advertising agency named Faust Associates whose logo was a devil.
- The recent Spider-Man arc 'One More Day' involves Spider-Man allowing Mephisto, the Marvel Universe's version of Satan to save his Aunt May's life in exchange for undoing his marriage to the woman he loves, thus wiping away the last twenty years of his life. For numerous reasons (including the fact that if Mephisto was actually powerful enough to do this, the entire Marvel Universe would be screwed, since he'd use the power in far more evil ways than just wiping out Spidey's marriage), many Spider-Man fans consider this particular entry to be idiotic. Even Stan Lee disregards One More Day.
- In a mild subversion, Mephisto doesn't bargain for Peter or Mary Jane's souls, and in fact tells them that he stopped making that deal ages ago. That's because the souls of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to save another suffer nobly for all eternity..."and really, where's the fun in that?"
- In Spider Girl, Spidey's clone Kaine also makes a deal with the demon Zarathos to try and save Daredevil's life after a Heroic Sacrifice. His Ill Boy "nephew" ends up a victim of Demonic Possession instead. Nice Job Breaking It, Anti-Hero.
- The main character of Jack of Fables has been selling his soul to a series of devils since he was in his twenties, gaining another hundred years of life every time he does it. Unfortunately for him, Fables are immortal anyway, so he wasn't gaining anything from it.
- Subverted in an early story arc of James Robinson's Starman for DC where a demonic poster stole the souls of whoever looked at it. The demon offered to return the souls of all he had taken if Starman, the Shade and Matt O'Dare gave up theirs. They agreed and the people were freed but they kept their souls because the demon stated that part of the rules in such bargains was that he couldn't keep a soul offered in a purely selfless act.
- The XXXenophile story "Demonstration of Affection".
- Sistah Spooky's backstory in Empowered is a subversion. The deal she cut when she was her high school's Butt Monkey was only for beauty, but her caseworker screwed up the paperwork and she got Fearsome Arcane Might as a bonus. (Her first plan was Bloody Vengeance on her Alpha Bitch tormentors, but the demon couldn't inflict harm on other clients of Hell—they'd all sold their souls for beauty already.)
- A variant occurs in the Sleepwalker comics, where the demonic genie Mr. Jyn manifests on Earth by pretending to serve a human "master" and get back at those who wronged him, only to manipulate him into letting Mr. Jyn cause more and more mayhem until the demon is released in the process.
- Subverted (twice) in the novel Superman: Miracle Monday:
- After Lex Luthor accidentally releases a demon from Hell named Saturn on Earth, the demon offers him a bargain... except it turns out it was really Superman in disguise, tricking Luthor into revealing where the Hell portal was located.
- Saturn tries to get get Superman to break his no-killing vow (to morally break him down) by possessing an innocent girl, then telling the hero the only way to stop him from further ruining the World would be to kill her. However, Superman refuses, even if it means the two would be locked in eternal combat. It turns out that by refusing, Superman actually won a wish from the demon (the rules governing demons demanded it) and Superman uses it to return everything to normal.
- Subverted in the Spider-Man comics in the 1990s by the Jason Macendale Hobgoblin, a B-list villain who had been struggling to increase his powers. During a demonic invasion of New York, Macendale seeks out the demons' leader and offers to trade his soul for power. In a ghoulishly ironic twist, the demon openly laughs at the idea, considering Macendale's soul to be too pitiful to be worth taking, but goes ahead and gives Macendale the power of a demon anyway, just for making him laugh. Macendale's additional power made him a more formidable opponent, even coming close to killing Spider-Man on a couple of occasions, but it also ended up making him go Ax Crazy and turning him into a fanatical Knight Templar. Macendale wasn't exactly a Butt Monkey, but no matter what he tried to do to increase his powers, he just couldn't catch a break...
- And then he got turned into a cyborg. And THEN he got killed by the original Hobgoblin... only for said original Hobgoblin to immediately retire and not do anything ever again.
- Brilliantly subverted by the Black Panther, the Marvel Comics hero. The Black Panther pledged his soul to Mephisto (yes, that Mephisto) in exchange for Mephisto agreeing to depower an enemy of the Panther's that he had given great demonic power to. Mephisto lived up to his end of the bargain, and so did the Panther...but when Mephisto tried to claim the Panther's soul, Mephisto found that it was linked to the souls of the Panther God and every single previous Black Panther warrior in existence, whose sheer goodness threatened to destroy him. Mephisto requested that the Black Panther agree to release him from the pact, and the Panther agreed. This is probably one of the only cases where the Devil is the one who asks that the contract be voided.
- Subverted by Mephisto again in Universe X, when he offers Captain America a device that can spirit him away to an extratemporal limbo any time he's in danger of dying. In fact, Mephisto is counting on Cap rejecting it; the real temptation is for the Captain to reject offers of help and depend on his own abilities to a fault. He dies shortly thereafter, nearly derailing Mar-Vell's plan to defeat Mephisto and Death (and when Cap bats the device away, it activates and sets another temporal Xanatos Gambit in motion). That Mephisto guy is getting Dangerously Genre Savvy about this sort of thing....
- In The Sandman, this trope gets a real workout in many different forms. Morpheus makes several deals over the course of the comic, in each case giving people almost exactly what they asked for in return for a seemingly negligible gain to himself—but what the humans get out it of inevitably turns out to be a heavy cost in and by itself.
- Morpheus made a deal with William Shakespeare: in return for bringing out Shakespeare's own latent creativity, Will would write two plays centering around dreams. The first of these is performed for The Fair Folk (A Midsummer Night's Dream) as something of a gift from Morpheus to Titania. At first glance it seems like a real bargain. However, the last panel of the story implies that the Fae queen Titania's interest in Shakespeare's son Hamnet lead to the boy's death soon after the play was performed for the Fae. The second play is The Tempest, written just before Shakespeare died, and is implied in the comic to be about Morpheus himself. After Shakespeare delivers the second play, Morpheus even tells Will what his life would have been like if he had never made the deal.
Morpheus: You would have written a handful of other plays, in quality no better than, say, The Merrye Devil of Edmonton, and then you would have come home to Stratford. You would have taught school, saved a little money. You would have bought a house, let it out, and bought another. You would have made your money in bricks and mortar--enough for your family's coat of arms, enough to make them forget your father's setbacks. You would not have been satisfied with your life; and, from time to time, you would have bored your children with the tales of your years in London, your days on the stage.
- Dream and his sister Death also makes a deal with one Robert "Hob" Gadling - Death will not touch him unless he truly desires it. However, the 'payment' that Dream gets from it isn't anything more substantial than fulfilling his curiosity, and a standing appointment with Gadling once every century. During their second meeting, Gadling even lampshades this trope and wonders if Morpheus is the devil and if he's now forfeited his soul for his immortality without his knowledge and consent. Morpheus replies that neither is the case: He is no devil, 'merely interested'. In the end, the story states that what Morpheus truly gained from it was, intentionally or not, a human friend.
- In "Ramadan", Harun al-Rashid makes a deal with Morpheus. He sells his kingdom (the gleaming Baghdad of legend, full of wonders and miracles) to Morpheus so it can be preserved for ever without decaying like so many previous civilizations of men. When the deal is done, Morpheus retains the fabled city in a bottle in his realm, and the caliph wakes up in the historic Baghdad, a more mundane place. And the city of wonders now lives on forever in legends and stories, never to be forgotten, as we can see at the end of the issue.
- Finally and perhaps most poignantly, in the "Season of Mists" arc, Lucifer himself criticizes this trope as it pertains to him:
Lucifer: They talk of me going like a fishwife come market day, never stopping to ask themselves why. I need no souls. And how can anyone own a soul? No. They belong to themselves... They just hate to have to face up to it.
- In Hack Slash a wannabe rocker named Jeffrey Brevard ("Six Sixx") sells his soul and the souls of his band to an entity he thinks is the Devil (it's not) in exchange for fame and fortune (and demonic powers). As a part of the deal he also has to supply his benefactor with virgins for... breeding purposes. Also, Elvis apparently got his talent from the same entity.
- In The Warlord Deimos, who'd been reduced to a head on a hand by that point, makes a deal with The Evil One to restore his body, as payment the Evil One takes Deimos' magic skill, which Deimos needs to fight the Warlord.
- In an old comic, a shopkeeper makes a deal with what looks like a devil, and spends the rest of his life being nice and all that jazz. Then, when he's about to die, the being appears and tells him he's an angel. So, the guy goes to heaven.
- Invoked by name in the Squadron Supreme limited series when Tom Thumb tries to get a cancer cure from the Scarlet Centurion, a Conqueror From the Future.
- In Batman 666, Future Badass Damian Wayne, having taken the mantle of Batman, made a deal with the Devil to protect Gotham. Even when pumped full of bullets, he survived and his injuries healed almost immediately afterwards with no lasting effects.
- During a late 90s Superman arc, Lex Luthor bought out the Daily Planet for the express purpose of shutting it down. Later, Perry White found backers to help him buy the Planet back, rehiring Clark, Lois, Jimmy and the rest of his staff to put out the paper... Only for Lex to sell it to Perry for the price of one dollar. It was later revealed that Lois had secretly brokered a deal with Lex for the sale of the Planet; in exchange, Lois agreed to kill a story of Lex's choice at an unspecified date in the future. It turned out to be a story that would've sunk Lex's presidential campaign.
- Lois gets out of it by telling Clark, who writes the story himself (after all, he didn't make a deal with Lex).
- In Usagi Yojimbo, a priest/healer named Jizonobu hands himself over to his Evil Counterpart's evil gods after the latter appears to have healed a sickly child (the other option being to die along with his fellow priests and another sickly child). It gets worse: The being that takes over Jizonobu's body transforms him into the Axe Crazy Chaotic Evil Jei. Guess what happens to the above-mentioned fellow priests.
- Gen 13: Heroine Caitlin Fairchild resolves a Brought Down to Normal storyline by making a deal with series villainess Ivana Baiul: restore her Hot Amazon powers now, in exchange for performing one mission for Ivana sometime in the future. The plot hook is left alone until Adam Warren's run, where he has Ivana call in the favor for one issue—only to reveal that she'd been repeatedly using Fairchild on missions, only to erase her memory of the job, and of repaying her debt, every time.
- Kicks off the entire plot in Tanpopo'.
- In Nth Man the Ultimate Ninja, after Sgt. Levin was dying of a chest wound, she is instantly healed by Psychopathic Manchild Reality Warper Alfie O'Meagan after she agrees to perform a favor for him in the future.
- In Irredeemable, the Hornet made a deal with alien invaders: they would leave Earth alone and help bring down the Plutonian if Hornet's suspicions were borne out; in return, the Hornet would provide the aliens with teleportation technology and the locations of other planets to invade instead.
- Frank Castle makes one in the alternate timeline Marvel MAX. The comic Born depicts his final battles in Vietnam before being sent back home, and has him stationed at a run-down base manned mostly by drug addicts and slackers. So when a massive Vietcong offensive comes, the base is quickly overrun. Before long, Castle is the last man facing hordes of NVC in close combat, and a voice that had coaxed him to accept an agreement throughout the comic returns forcefully. It rams home the concept that he can either die here, never to see his wife and children again, or he can accept its terms, which will require a payment but will allow him to continue fighting a war forever. As the combat reaches a brutal fever pitch and the voice is practically shouting in his head, the Punisher growls "Yes." Later on, when he meets his wife and kids at the airport, the voice returns. It casually reminds him that it had mentioned a price, and Frank sees Maria and the children outlined by the infamous Punisher skull.
- In X-Men Fear Itself, Cyclops sent Illyana, Shadowcat and Colossus to Cytorak in the hopes of getting the Juggernaut depowered a little. It worked, though Piotr took his sister's place and became the new Juggernaut.
- A teenage boy summons the eponymous demonic rock group to make a deal for wealth and and power (but ultimately ends up settling for a blowjob) in the Cherry Comics story "Bimbos from Hell".
- In The Smurfs comic book story "Sagratamabarb", Gargamel makes a deal with Beelzebub that, if he can get rid of his titular cousin, he would be his slave forever. It didn't turn out well for Gargamel.
- In Keepers of the Elements, Courtney makes one of these with Radcliffe in exchange for powers of her own so she can get revenge on most of the Keepers, but Gwen in particular.
- Inner Demons has a couple of metaphorical examples. First off, Rarity outright refers to Trixie willingly agreeing to serve Queen!Twilight in her evil in exchange for power as selling her soul. Meanwhile, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo pledging loyalty to Queen!Twilight after she ages them up and gives them their Cutie Marks fits the thematics a little better.
- The Pony POV Series has Diamond Tiara agreeing to free Discord in exchange for him curing her mother's insanity (though to be fair, she didn't know who she was dealing with until the very end). Surprisingly, Discord actually keeps up his end of the bargain, but it seems that since he swore on His Parents, he didn't have much choice in the matter — and in any case, he managed to completely corrupt Diamond and break her to his will in the process, so he still screwed her over.
Film - Animated
- In Disney's version of the Hercules story, Herc makes a deal with Hades that actually has negative effects on him, although it does save one of his companions.
- In the movie Meg sold her soul to Hades to save the life of her old boyfriend, who then runs off with another girl. This is why she's his servant.
- The Disney version of The Little Mermaid is a classic example; Ariel is given legs with which to try to win the love of a prince, but at the cost of her voice, which was actually the thing he found most attractive about her to begin with. This is because she actually doesn't want her to succeed in kissing Prince Eric in three days' time. In the original Hans Christian Andersen story, the witch is neither good nor evil, and warns the mermaid of the deal's consequences.
- The original version of Wilde's comeback to this, The Fisherman and His Soul, features a character who wants to marry a mermaid but can't because he has a soul and she doesn't. Now who could relieve him of this unwanted soul? In an interesting twist, the soul (which originally had the form of his shadow but cut off becomes a person) begs and begs him to take it back, then goes off and becomes horrendously evil, interacting in the world without a heart to make it care. When it eventually persuades him to take it back 'just for a little while,' to show him this awesome thing it saw, that's when he's in trouble. His soul is devil in this story.
- While the voice-for-legs exchange did happen in the original Hans Christian Andersen story (albeit, a little more gruesomely; the witch cut out her tongue), the Deal with the Devil significance was added by Disney. Andersen's original story was probably based on the myth of the Undine, a female water spirit who does not have a soul but can gain one by marrying a mortal man (and maybe bearing his child as well, depending on the version). This makes the original story a reversal of the trope, in a way. The Little Mermaid gives up a 300-year life expectancy not just for a chance at love, but also the chance to gain an immortal soul.
- The villain of Disney's film The Princess and the Frog is Dr. Facilier, a voodoo practitioner who cuts many deals with his "Friends on the Other Side". When his scheme is foiled and he can't pay up, his 'friends' drag him screaming into voodoo-hell.
- The deals Facilier makes with other humans seem to be this, as there seems to almost always be a catch; though souls aren't a part of the deal shown in the movie, he seems to like promising souls to his 'Friends on the Other Side', implying he does, in fact make deals for them.
- In All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, Carface makes a deal with the Big Bad demon cat Red, a collar allowing him to be physical on Earth in exchange for his soul (though in his defense, he didn't know what Red meant by soul at the time). When Red is finally defeated in the end, he is sucked into Hell and decides to cash in on the deal, having his minions drag Carface into Hell with him.
- In Shrek: Forever After, Shrek makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to have a day for himself in exchange for a random day that he wouldn't remember after a mid-life crisis. Unfortunately, Rumpel took the day that Shrek was born, leading to things getting worse.
Film - Live Action
- The second half of Insomnia revolves mainly around this.
- The Spawn movie is about a bargain with the devil which ends in the nearly total devastation of the former when the protagonist successfully uses newly acquired powers against the one who gave them.
- In Santas Slay, one of God's angels beats Santa, the son of Satan, and Santa must remain good for 1,000 years.
- The Star Wars prequels have this with Anakin and Palpatine. Anakin's desire for Padme's-life-spared-at-any-cost might not have been spelled out and Palpatine himself might not be the devil, but otherwise the trope is played to the hilt.
- There's also Lando Calrissian's deal with Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. Lando really had no choice about it - the Dark Lord of the Sith showed up and would have destroyed Cloud City if he'd been refused. The Falcon and her crew would be betrayed and captured to draw in Luke Skywalker; Han Solo would be frozen in carbonite and handed off to Boba Fett, the rest of the crew would never leave Cloud City, and then The Empire would leave and ignore Lando's operation. Vader altered the deal, and eventually Lando did too.
- And Return of the Jedi lampshades ("Strike me down. Then your journey to The Dark Side will be complete.") and subverts it. There's even an Alternative Character Interpretation where Luke and Vader planned how it would play out before they ever met Ol' Sid, so Vader made a deal with Luke. But it's Star Wars; it plays with every mythology trope ever.
- About the deal between Anakin and Palpatine...Palpatine had told Anakin that Darth Plagueis was his master (in the books) and that he could teach Anakin the technique Darth Plagueis used to extend the life of whomever he chose to effectively eternity. Even though Anakin effectively sold his soul to Palpatine to save Padme from possible death, the deal failed for two reasons. 1. Anakin ended killing his own wife, or at least contributing to it, so he had no Padme to save. 2. In the books, Palpatine reveals in his thoughts that he had never learned the technique Darth Plagueis had, and Palpatine ended up having to resort to making clones and the Sith technique of transferring his soul into another body just to extend his own life. Yep, Anakin was effectively left with nothing as a result of the deal.
- The Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? pays homage to the Tommy Johnson legend by including him as a character.
- Tenacious D's movie, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, has Kage and Jables cutting a deal with Satan: if they win a rock off against him, he has to go back to Hell and pay their rent. If Satan wins, Kage has to go back to Hell with Satan and be his sex slave. They wind up beating him through a technicality: if Satan is ever "incomplete" (i.e. missing a part of himself, like a tooth or horn), a spell can be used to send him back automatically.
- The rock-off is a parody of many other versions where the mortals can actually compete successfully against the Devil.
- Both versions of the film Bedazzled—the original and the remake—concern a deal with the Devil in exchange for seven wishes. In the remake, the main character is eventually freed from the contract by making an unselfish wish. However, he could never collect the soul in the first place, since they belong to God. She was just mindscrewing the character.
- In the theatre/film musical Damn Yankees, an aging Washington Senators fan declares that he'd sell his soul to get his team to defeat the New York Yankees. Suddenly, a mysterious gentleman named Applegate appears to make him the living embodiment of his wish.
- Interestingly, it's the devil himself who voids the deal, in a last-ditch attempt to keep the Senators from winning the pennant.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest features Davy Jones, a sort of Devil of the Sea. He makes deals with dead or dying sailors, offering them a 100 year postponement of death in return for serving on his crew. He also made a deal with Jack Sparrow, making him Captain of the Black Pearl for 13 years in return for his promise to serve. Sparrow manages to weasel his way out, almost. "Not even Jack Sparrow can best the Devil!" Although, as the writers' commentary points out, Davy Jones doesn't exactly win by the end, either.
- Do you fear death?
- Jack himself counts. "Spring me from this cell and I will take you to the Black Pearl and your bony lass." While he does deliver on his end, it was for his selfish benefit and he fully intended on selling Will out. For his part, Will becomes wrapped up in the world of pirates and has to fight and scrap just to earn a Bittersweet Ending.
- The Godfather opens with an undertaker asking for Vito Corleone to avenge his brutalized daughter. Corleone criticizes the man for only visiting him when he has a favor to ask, and claims a debt in return, saying, "Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. Until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter's wedding day." The unspecified nature of the debt makes the undertaker nervous, but in the end, the undertaker is called upon to reconstruct the face of the Don's son, Sonny Corleone, who was savagely murdered. In the book, it's revealed that the Don usually limits himself to free services such as this, rather than more insidious favors.
- Towards the end of Phantom of the Paradise, we learn that Swan made a deal with the devil to stay youthful forever and to be a super-successful record producer. Swan's end of the deal is that he must record every day of his life on film and rewatch every reel every day. If the film is destroyed, then Swan will die. When the phantom learns this, he promptly sets all of the film on fire.
- In Crossroads, young guitar virtuoso Eugene has to help old Robert Johnson sideman Willie escape his contract with the Devil, leading to an epic axe-off with Steve Vai.
- The Wishmaster films are all about this trope. Not only does the Djinn take your soul in exchange for a wish (a condition he apparently is not obliged to disclose to you in advance) but he will always grant the wish in a "Monkey's Paw" form. What's more, he can close the deal if you merely speak a wish out loud in his presence.
- In The Devil and Daniel Webster, a good but rather dumb and weak man makes a deal with the devil. He gets the money he needs for his farm (and way more,) and in seven years the devil will claim his soul. The man agrees after the devil assures him that "souls are not important." After seven years he's had a son (and neglected him), got a servant that acted as his mistress, hired his former friends and taken advantage of them, and become a Jerkass while still being the dumbest man on earth. Later, Daniel Webster comes and manages to let him weasel out of the deal.
- Freddy began his horror career with one of these according to Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, offered his powers and immortality by a trio of "dream demons" who choose a human villain as their Psycho for Hire every thousand years. If they had any plan to betray him, it must've been scheduled for after he'd already brought about The End of the World as We Know It: as it is, the price he seems to have paid for his deal is that whatever shred of goodness he had as a human went completely out the window.
- While not a literal example, the plot to Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave has been described thus.
- This is the basic premise of Stay Tuned, in which a TV-addicted family man unknowingly sells his soul for a new satellite television setup with 666 channels.
- Several people sell their souls to Satan in The Undead (1957).
- The title character's parents in The Haunting of Molly Hartley made this in order to prevent her from dying (she had been born prematurely). In return, on Molly's 18th birthday, a Satanic Cult will come to claim her as one of their own.
- Accepting the Mark of the Beast in the Apocalypse film series is played out like this, with the benefits of its recipients experiencing miracles such as the blind woman in Revelation receiving her sight, the wheelchair-bound man in the same movie being able to walk, and the one-armed man in the hospital in Tribulation receiving his right arm again. There's also the Blessed with Suck element of having limited telepathic and telekinetic powers, as featured in Tribulation.
- Played straight in Oh God You Devil, with God and Satan (both played by George Burns) battling for the soul of a struggling musician.
- Little Nicky: Dan Marino tries to make a Deal with the Devil to win a Super Bowl. The Devil declines.
Marino: You did it for Namath!
- The entire premise of the Disney Channel Original Movie H-E-Double Hockey Sticks (starring Will Friedle).
- Little Shop of Horrors has the devil in the form of an unusual carnivorous plant that feeds on blood. The little nerdy guy who discovers it, Seymour, is promised fame and fortune if he keeps feeding the plant; this does come, just from people who think he's an amazing gardener and who want to examine his plant. He first sacrifices an Asshole Victim (his would-be girlfriend's abusive boyfriend) to the plant, then the shop owner Mr. Mushnik when Mushnik turns on him. The plant grows to immense size and tries to devour Audrey; Seymour gets devoured as well in most versions except for the one time the movie has a happy ending, with him electrocuting and destroying the plant.
- Disney Channel Original Movie Luck Of The Irish involves the protagonist Kyle Johnson making a deal with a far darrig named Seamus that whoever won a series of games would get the lucky gold coin, and Seamus would have to forever go to Eerie, the shores of [Kyle's] forefathers. Seamus thinks that Kyle is mispronouncing Eire, a nickname for Ireland; but Kyle's paternal family is from Ohio which borders Lake Eerie.
- The movie Demon Knight has The Collector, a mid level demon, trying to acquire a rare artifact that will bring about the end of the universe. The only way he can get inside the house where the artifact resides is by tempting everyone inside with their various fantasies. In the end, whoever accepts the fantasy or (in one case) tries to turn traitor to the group by just handing it over, doesn't receive what The Collector promised them and just turns into another low level demon.
- In Star Trek: First Contact, this is subverted. Data takes the Borg Queen's offer and merely becomes a Fake Defector.
Folklore and Fairy Tales
- In "The Maiden Without Hands", a miller makes a deal with the devil for "what is standing behind thy mill". He thought it was an apple tree; it was his daughter. She kept herself too pure for the devil to carry off, though, even when the devil orders the miller to cut off her hands. So the miller ended up with the money; but as soon as that happened, the daughter left to seek her fortune. Ironically enough, this may be a Bowdlerised plot; the rest of the plot is commonly found in tales where the heroine lost her hands and left because her father or brother tried to force her to marry him.
- In "Bearskin", a soldier makes a Deal with the Devil, who will give him an ever-filled purse, but he must not pray, wash, cut his hair or nails, or change from a bearskin for seven years. He goes about distributing money to the poor, asking them to pray for him. One man he rescues from financial distress promises that he may marry one of his daughters. Only the youngest is willing. He succeeds in fulfilling the devil's terms and cleans up nicely, and the older sisters, reduced to envy, commit suicide. The Devil, pleased at his dumb luck, informs the soldier that he got two souls, not one.
- Another fairytale variant: "Rumpelstiltskin". Though considering the number of escape clauses in that deal, Rumpelstiltskin made a less-than-competent Mephistopheles.
- A Polish legend tells of the nobleman Twardowski who gained magical powers thanks to such a deal. The clause was that the devil would get Twardowski's soul when Twardowski goes to Rome. Twardowski gleefully stayed away from Italy. The devil eventually captured him when he wandered into a tavern called "Rome".
- The Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz had fun with this legend in one of his poems, where Twardowski agrees to give up his soul in exchange for three Impossible Tasks, per the contract. The devil manages to do the first two, but the third one - to spend a year with Twardowski's wife - is too much for him and he runs away.
- One story has a wily blacksmith who sells his soul to the Devil in return for the magical power to stick anything to anything (hey, that's useful for a smith). When the Devil sends first his son and then his daughter to collect on the bargain, the smith uses his magic powers to not only stop them but embarrass them until they go away. Then the Devil declares he has to do the job himself, and fails. The smith tells him that if he can just live out is natural life the Devil is jolly welcome to take his soul when that day comes... but when that day comes, the Devil gets so horrified at the idea of having the smith down there, that he screams that the deal is off and tells the smith to get himself packing to Heaven. Which let him in. Apparently, pwning the devil counters engaging in black magic deals.
- It is sometimes said that legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his mastery of the instrument. The location where the meeting supposedly took place, the crossroads of US 49 and US 61 in Clarksdale, MS, is a Mecca of sorts to blues aficionados. The tale is something of a subtrope in its own right, and is referenced in several of these examples. Same rumors exist about other musicians, like Mozart or Paganini.
- This has also been repeated in more voodoun terms, since Papa Legba makes crossroads deals as well, though they're not quite as huge a risk, i.e. auto-loss, as the Satan ones.
- Witches were said to gain magical powers by making a deal with Satan.
- A common theme in Appalachian folklore, the inspiration for the Charlie Daniels Band song quoted at the top of this page.
- In Quebec, Canada, a brand of beer is called "La Maudite" meaning "The Damned One." Its name comes from a story where fur traders made a deal with the Devil whereby he would grant them a flying canoe that would allow them to fly to their families for Christmas day. The devil, in exchange, would get all of the traders' souls if they did not return to where they were before the morning after Christmas. Guess what happens?
- The picture on the beer is that of the devil sneering at men frantically rowing in a flying canoe as the sun rises in the background.
- Dealing with the Sidhe is traditionally known to be along these lines. Fairies are long-lived and wily, giving them both the time and the inclination to get really good at legalese. Getting a fairy to honor the spirit of a deal is like squeezing blood from thin air; depending on how nasty the fae is, even getting them to honor the letter of a deal can be one hell of a trick, if they think they can get away with creatively misinterpreting or even actively ignoring their end of the bargain. As a general rule, if it seems like the Neighbors are playing fair, either your bargain is a case of Be Careful What You Wish For, or you had the upper hand in the deal, which means you're due to be raped by a troll any minute now...
- Spoofed in the Chilean folk tale "El roto que engañó al diablo (The poor man who tricked the Devil)", where a young Unlucky Everydude seals one of these deals but, as a proof, he writes it down with his blood on a small paper... writing it such a tricky manner that, every time the Devil came to get him, the "technicalities" wouldn't let him ensnare the man's soul and had to give up.
- A similar Irish story, "An Cearrbhach Mac Cába" ("McCabe the Gambler") features the same type of trickery, e.g. he asks to live until a candle burns down... and then blows out the candle so it never goes down. He asks to be allowed to live to say a prayer ... and then delays making the prayer indefinitely. (The villain is Death, not the Devil, but behaves as the stereotypical Devil does.) This is very like the Greek hero Meleager, who was fated to live only until a brand that was in the fire of the fates burned up; his mother stole it, doused it, and kept it safe...until he killed her brothers and one of his brothers, her son, and she burnt it on purpose.
- If you see any story in any medium begin with "The Devil and...", it's almost certainly this trope. The originator of this convention is The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephen Vincent Benet, the story that first gave us the Jury of the Damned.
- For example, a short story titled "The Devil and Simon Flagg" inverts the "ordeal" version by having the title character, a mathematician, challenge the devil to an ordeal: he must either prove or disprove Fermats Last Theorem. The Devil doesn't make it, despite asking the best mathematicians in the universe. And despite the fact that humans found the solution meanwhile. But he does become fascinated by the problem anyway, and he and Flagg become friends of a sort, discussing possible approaches and theories.
- And Benet's story was inspired by an earlier short story called "The Devil and Tom Walker" by Washington Irving. Arguably it was also inspired by Eugene Fields' short story "Daniel and the Devil", wherein it's actually partly inverted as Daniel is a shrewd, though down on his luck (hence the deal), businessman who first cuts out the middleman (Beelzebub) and then persuades the Devil to sign a bond according to which he will get Daniel's soul after fulfilling his wishes for 24 years - and if the Devil breaks the bond, then Daniel is freed of the contract and 1001 souls can freely leave Hell to boot. In addition to this, Daniel is a decent, respectable family man who hardly gives any of the temptations the Devil offers him a thought and instead makes the Devil do all kinds of good deeds, including building a church and ensuring the election of honest politicians. Eventually the Devil can't stand it anymore - the straw that breaks the camel's back is Daniel telling him to close all saloons for Sunday - and is forced to break the bond.
- It makes sense that that stuff would piss the Devil off, but seriously, that's like an equal inverse of Faust's great failure, apart from the 'winning' thing...instead of pissing it away on foolery, he's not using that tremendous power to help anyone very much. Too respectable to feed the hungry. We all know that type. Oh, yes, very nice, precious.
- The One Ring of The Lord of the Rings has a will of its own and manipulates the wearer in order to try and get back to its master. This typically involves convincing the wearer that it will grant great power and dominion, just in order to trick the wearer into revealing its whereabouts. Hobbits are resistant to this, most notably Sam, who doesn't want world domination because he can't understand why anyone would want that and has no ambition beyond marrying his sweetheart back home and keeping a garden. In his case it just gave up.
- The Robert Bloch Hugo-winning short story That Hell-Bound Train is a wonderful example of this trope, complete with a double-twist-ending.
- Its title (and the song alluded to in the story) comes from an old and anonymous American folk-song, called "The Hell-Bound Train".
- The Larry Niven short story Convergent Series deconstructs the Deal with the Devil by not only giving a purported reason why demon-summoning rarely works (and why you wouldn't hear about the successful cases), but also by ruling out each of the usual ways out of the deal one by one. The solution the protagonist chooses is unconventional, but successful: the demon had to re-appear wherever the pentagram he was bound in was drawn. The protagonist chose as his wish to stop time, and then redrew the pentagram on the demon's belly while time was frozen, causing the demon to keep endlessly re-appearing in a fruitless effort to appear inside the pentagram.
- Every single book in Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series involves one (or more) of these.
- In the erotic story Demon Deals, Jon meets a girl whose previous boyfriend had made a deal with the devil, though it had backfired on him because the devil exploited a loophole in his contract and killed him. Jon decides to do the same, since he's a lawyer and knows how to write good contracts. He creates an airtight contract that protects him from the devil while he's alive, but the devil won't accept, it's too unfair to him. Jon then points out that since the devil can't return to hell until he destroys the pentagram, the devil is stuck on earth in one spot until Jon decides to release him... so he brings a TV over and leaves it on the local televangelist channel.
- And in another twist, at the end of the story Jon gets recruited by Hell. When people summon demons to strike bargains with, it's Jon the demonic lawyer they negotiate with.
- Timm Thaler sells his laughter to baron Lefuet (which is backwards for Teufel, German for devil) in exchange for winning any bet. Later he gets his laughter back - with a bet.
- Beautifully deconstructed in the Tanith Lee's short story Sold. A woman with serious medical and financial problems calls on the devil, asking if he would really give her health, wealth, beauty, and long life in exchange for her soul. When he replies in the affirmative, she calls off the deal: all she really wanted was proof that she had a soul and that it was worth something.
- The Faust comes out the winner in one short story, in which an astronomer sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for one favor to be granted after he dies. When he dies, the Devil comes to grant the favor (and then take him to Hell). The Devil is dismayed to find out that his wish is for the Devil to take him to the nearest star, where he will thoroughly observe and study it...and then do the same thing for every other star in the universe.
- Played with in one of the Khaavren books. A young Morrolan agrees to serve the "Demon Goddess" Verra (although demon may not mean the same thing as it usually does) in both this life and the next in exchange for her favoritism. The played-with part is that he does this without a second thought, having no problem at all offering his soul for the future. Granted, this wouldn't mean eternal torment in the afterlife, but rather its implied something more like Valhalla, in which he will form part of an army of champions.
- Well, he already is part of an anti-Jenoine group of champions. And apparently he's Verra's soulmate as well, so she's probably less inclined to torment him than, say, Vlad.
- Darkfriends, especially The Forsaken, from The Wheel of Time sell their Soul to Shai'tan, in exchange for immortality, power and glory if Shai'tan would win. There are at least two problems with this. First Darkfriends are hunted by the good guys and everyone on the bad guys' side has Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, so the odds of any particular bad guy surviving to the end of the series unscathed is very low. And second Shai'tan is said to actually destroy the entire world if he is set free rather than merely conquer it, so Darkfriends are really screwed.
- In Paradise Lost, Satan actually makes a Deal with the Devil (not himself) in order to succeed in his goals when he petitions Chaos to direct him towards Earth by promising that he will cause the world to return to Chaos after he is done. (He lied.)
- In Fredric Brown's short story "Naturally", the main character is about to flunk out of college, so he summons a demon to help him pass his Geometry final. But because he's bad at Geometry, he puts the wrong number of points on the pentagram and the demon simply steps out of it and carts him off to Hell. Sometimes Satan has it easy.
- In HP Lovecraft's "Dreams in the Witch House", Nyarlathotep appears to the protagnists, offering him complete control over the ability to travel outside the angled space (effectively being able make a personal wormhole between any two locations) in exchange for signing the book of Azathoth with his blood. The protagonist refuses, but judging from what kind of beings we're dealing with, it's probably better not to know what would've happened had he accepted the deal.
- Invoked in GK Chesterton's Father Brown story The Dagger with Wings, a man cites the legend of Dundee, who had sold his soul to the Devil and so could be shot only with a Silver Bullet.
- Isaac Asimov helped edit two collections of fantasy/science-fiction "short short" stories that included a few examples of this trope:
- A Complete Monster makes a deal to be reincarnated, and is brought back as his own horrifically-abused daughter. (Give Her Hell by Donald Wollheim.)
- A man makes a deal with what he thinks is a devil. (Your Soul Comes C.O.D. by Mack Reynolds)
- A story which squeezes into five pages every conceivable pun based on the phrase "pact with the devil." (If At First You Don't Succeed, To Hell With It! by Charles Fritch) This was written when the editors of Fantasy And Science Fiction told Fritch that they were not running any more stories on this "overworked" theme. He set out to write a deal with the Devil story they would HAVE to run, about a writer who sells himself to the Devil, and can only escape by getting his story published in a magazine...
- A poet comes to not regret selling his soul for wealth and fame, but the rest of civilized society does... (The Devil Finds Work by Reynolds again.)
- Asimov himself wrote a story where a man sells his soul for the rather wholesome payoff of ten years of wedded bliss with the girl he has a crush on. His is a slightly unusual deal, because at the end of the ten years he will be temporarily be given the powers of a demon and placed in a trap. If he can't escape, he will be damned for eternity; if he can escape he will become a demon for all eternity (Hell needs new ideas, and who is more evil and demonic than humankind? So at the end of his life he wakes up in a room with solid bronze walls on every side and has to escape which he does by realizing that the room is not solid in the dimension of Time and demons can travel in time, so he goes back to the moment when he signs the contract with the demon and rips it up.And wins the girl anyway.
- Subverted in the Ogden Nash poem "The Miraculous Countdown", a story about Dr. Faustus Foster, described in the poem as "a truly incompetent scientist", who in desperation after all of his efforts at a major scientific breakthrough failed spectacularly, swore that he would sell his soul to succeed. A red-robed figure popped in and made him a deal for his soul. Once accepted, Dr. Foster became a heralded and respected scientist whose discoveries were put to use for the good of mankind. The switch comes in the final stanzas;
Faustus, clumsiest of men,
- In the Chronicles of the Kencyrath, Gerridon made a deal with Perimal Darkling in the Backstory that involved his getting immortality for the price of destroying two-thirds of his own people and devouring their souls, which he gladly fulfills. Fast-forward three thousand years, however, and Gerridon finds himself in a bit of a bind, as he's running out of harvested souls to feed on- when that happens, old age will catch up to him and kill him. He's been offered a revised Deal, which would involve surrendering his own soul to Perimal Darkling and getting true immortality as its avatar, but as of yet has not accepted, preferring to find someone to reap more souls for him- namely, Jame, his niece.
- In Vale of the Vole, Esk watches a play about a man who summons a demon and makes a contract with it to obtain wealth, women, etc... but the contract contained a phrase that read "The demon will not attempt to harm the person signing the contract", and a drop of wax just happened to fall so that the word "not" was obscured...
- Jack Winter, Badass prettyboy Manchester mage of the Black London series by Caitlin Kittredge makes several.
- In The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson, the eponymous bottled imp can grant as many wishes as is desired, but if you possess it at your time of death, you lose your soul. In order to get rid of it, it must be sold at a loss to you.The main character's wife buys the bottle from him, for next to nothing, and manages to sell it at a tiny loss to a drunken old sailor who's quite sure he's bound for Hell anyway and wants the imp to provide him with liquor for the rest of his days.
- In R.A. Lafferty's Bright Coins in Never-Ending Stream the protagonist sells his soul for a pocketbook that will allow him to draw out, well, bright coins in a never-ending stream. Originally, they are twenty-dollar gold pieces, and as time goes by the denominations get smaller and smaller, but part of the deal is that once he gets down to pennies he is immortal, unless he chooses to die. Trouble is, by the time he gets down to pennies he is an old, old man and the penny isn't worth very much at all... did I mention he can only draw out the pennies one by one? And by the time he is down to nickels, he already has rheumatism? Eventually, the government demonetizes the penny because it costs more to manufacture than it is actually worth, and the protagonist is reduced to melting down his pennies for scrap metal at five cents a pound... He ends the story sleeping in a "seldom-flooded storm sewer", his fingers scabbed and bleeding, pulling out pennies all day long, talking to wildlife and dreaming about the day that, if he holds out long enough, he may be able to sell his pennies as valuable antiques. But hey, at least he's managed to avoid going to Hell. Right?
- Ivan Krylov has a fable about a purse you can also draw coins from... the catch being, you cannot spend a single one until you get rid of the purse. Cue Death by Materialism.
- In the Fredric Brown story "Nasty" the protagonist makes a deal with the Devil for a pair of magic swimming trunks to restore his virility. But if he takes them off or even pulls them down....
- In Brian Jacques' book Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales, the story The Lies of Henry Mawdsley is about a ten-year-old boy who sells his soul in order to become the world's most believable liar for one week so he can get out of schoolwork. When "nice Mister Nick Lucifer" tries to claim his soul at the end of the week, Henry is saved by the Archangel Gabriel, who demonstrates that Henry is an undiagnosed dyslexic, therefore the contract is not valid because Henry lied about being able to read and understand it.
- The character Sinner in the Nightside book Hex and the City sold his soul for true love. Upon his death, he was told that his "true love" was actually a demonic succubus by the name of Pretty Poison, who had been roped into the job by Satan and spent ten years pretending to love him. Sinner didn't care, as from his point of view he was truly in love, and his refusal to give up resulted in Satan kicking him out of Hell because he was ruining the atmosphere. Pretty Poison got curious and followed him up, and eventually got her angelic status back by sacrificing herself to save him - demons in the Nightside universe, if killed on Earth, lose all their power and become regular damned souls.
- In the novel Ascending of The League of Peoples Verse, Oar is offered a deal by a Sufficiently Advanced Alien called the Pollisand, who pulls out all the stops in presenting it as a Deal With The Devil scenario, complete with fire, brimstone, classical allusions, the works. Subverted; Oar takes the deal and the Pollisand gives her exactly what he promised, with no apparent negative consequences whatsoever.
- In I Lucifer the titular character mentions that the actual contracts are symbolic and that the act of signing them is all that matters. It's worth noting if you're not specific on the means of which Lucifer has to go about completing his end of the deal, he will screw your dumbass over.
- In The Guardians, demonic bargains can be cancelled by either party before one side is filled. After that, if the other party doesn't fulfill their side, they are damned to the field of frozen faces. Demons don't bargain for literal souls, although they often ask for something that will drive the human to damnation such as betraying a friend or murdering an innocent.
- In Lonely Werewolf Girl human Perky Goth Moonglow sells her right to pursue any romantic feelings for Daniel to Malveria in return for the demon bringing an Only Mostly Dead character back to life.
- Harry has been offered a few of these in The Dresden Files, in a couple cases by actual Fallen Angels. In Changes he decides to take one, and chooses Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness as the least evil option. Though probably more evil, Lasciel would at least have an exit strategy - he personally knows someone who accepted a similar deal and gave it up without harm. While the only way he sees out of being the Winter Knight is a prolonged, painful death.
- He then runs a combined Memory and Thanatos Gambit against Mab (who is the Winter Queen and ruler of a species that lives for legalese), by arranging to be assassinated and wiping his memory of the incident so that he wouldn't accidentally slip and reveal it to her. It doesn't work and she revives him but when she does, he essentially makes her back down and accept him as Winter Knight on his terms.
- Averted in The Lesser Key of Solomon. The conjurer uses the fact that they are human (thus made in the image of God and under his protection) to get the demons to do what they want, rather than trade their soul.
- Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, kind of. He got the lovely deal of having to kill Dumbledore in exchange for Lord Voldemort not murdering Draco's parents.
- In Faction Paradox stories, there is a rather odd group of Energy Beings called the Celestis. They appear to be gods and demons of myth, and live in a fortress of pure meaning called Mictlan. They are not actually gods or demons. They are Homeworld agents who have undergone a process that transforms their physical bodies into Memetic Mutations, making them indestructible but dependent upon mortals continually thinking about said memes so they won't drift into oblivion. They work rather simply: they visit low-level planets where people are less likely to come up with some ingenious stratagem to overcome them, and there they will offer their services: they will grant you your heart's desire, with certain limitations (no godhood for ya, sorry) and upon death they have complete rights to seize your soul, drag it to Mictlan's dungeons, and set it into their wonderful machines so you have absolutely no choice but to continually think of the Celestis, until the End of Time itself. Have fun.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch Shall Be Born", the Curse stems from one of these.
They tell how the first queen of our line had traffic with a fiend of darkness and bore him a daughter who lives in foul legendry to this day. And thereafter in each century a girl baby was born into the Askhaurian dynasty, with a scarlet half-moon between her breasts, that signified her destiny.
- Subverted in Stephen King's short story "Fair Extension" from Full Dark No Stars, in which a terminal cancer patient runs into a man named George Elvid who offers to cure his cancer in return for cash since, as the story then goes on to demonstrate, human souls have become pretty worthless in the 21st century.
- Defied in The Screwtape Letters; Screwtape mentions that Hell's official policy now frowns on Faustian bargains, as they confirm the existence of the supernatural and thus undermine Hell's atheism campaign.
- In the Left Behind series, the signing of the covenant that would allow the Global Community seven years of licensed use of Chaim Rosenzweig's synthetic fertilizer formula for Israel's peace with other nations was seen as the very thing that starts the seven-year Tribulation period.
- Peter Schlemiel in the eponymous story by Adelbert von Chamisso sells his shadow to a mysterious man in a gray coat in exchange for a magic purse that supplies endless amounts of gold pieces. The shadowless protagonist becomes a social outcast, despite spreading extravagant amounts of money around; his love interest rejects him when she discovers his secret. Exactly one year after the original deal, as promised, the man in the gray coat returns with an offer to sell Peter him back his shadow and restore his good name so he can save his love interest from marrying his wealthy but no-good rival, on the condition that he merely supply his signature on a document written in his own blood. He stubbornly refuses to bargain away his soul, and ultimately banishes the devil by throwing away the purse.
- Special Circumstances: Not the Devil, but David Krake does make a deal with a demon for the purpose of becoming a famous bestselling author.
- The Hound of the Baskervilles has as a backstory the legend of a man who promised his soul to the devil if only he'll catch the girl who escaped his clutches. As soon as he does catch up with the girl (dead from exhaustion), he is killed by a demon - the titular hound.
- Henry Kuttner has a story where a man sells his soul to the devil in exchange for immortality and invulnerability unless he commits suicide. The devil, however, takes as security a part of his soul - some part of the subconscious. The man, however, fails to achieve happiness, decides it's the taken part which prevents it, and demands the devil return it. The devil does. The catch is, the part taken was the man's conscience, and the return was followed by a gun to the temple some ten seconds after it was reintegrated.
- Chichikov from Dead Souls definitely invokes this with the whole "buying people's 'souls'" thing and he's a lot like the "devil as small time bureaucrat"/TheDevilIsALoser portrayal in works like The Devil and Daniel Webster and The Brothers Karamazov (both post-date this novel, but probably draw from the same idea). In fact, both Chichikov and Scratch store their souls in a box- the only difference is that Chichikov's are metaphorical.
- The miller in Krabat did one. As a price, he has to sacrifice one of his students/apprentices each year - or will lose his soul himself. And sometimes at night, the boys will have to do an extra shift - as Krabat finds out, to grind bones and teeth, presumably human ones.
- In Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Evil Sorcerer Pryrates makes a deal with the undead Storm King to summon him back into Osten Ard. The interesting part is that he doesn't sell his own soul, but that of his king, Unwitting Pawn Elias. For his own part, Pryrates hopes to come out of the deal with the knowledge of Things Man Was Not Meant to Know... and to pull a Starscream on the Storm King once the summoning is complete. Unfortunately for him, Evil Is Not a Toy.
- Such a deal is discussed in "The Cambist and Lord Iron".
- It's worth mentioning that the deal is essentially the reverse of the traditional one. Lord Iron isn't looking to sell his soul; he's looking to buy it back.
- Devilish has a character that makes a deal with the Devil, or rather, one of his minions.
- The main character of the novel Crawling Chaos Blues is a failing blues musician who resorts to trying to make the same deal as the above mentioned Robert Johnson, only instead of the devil, he makes a deal with someone that's arguably worse (the title gives it away).
- In Teresa Frohock's Miserere an Autumn Tale, Catarina made one for her own soul's, and her brother's. She was less able to deliver than she had thought.
- Towards the end of The Monk when Ambrosio finds himself in way over his head, Matilda tells him if he will give his soul to Satan, he can be saved from the angry mob. Ambrosio accepts.
- In Dark Future novel Comeback Tour, the version of Elvis that appears as a protagonist is revealed to have previously come close to this, due to his manager being funded / controlled by the series Big Bad, Elder Seth.
- In Robert Westall's Futuretrack Five the Glaswegian gangster, Blocky, is very heavily implied to have done just this; having come to the point of suicide and then being mysteriously inspired to paint a weird and loathsome painting after seeing a demonic face appear in the mirror. Everything's gone just fine for him thereafter.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Hide and Q."
- Another episode, "Devil's Due", involved an alien race who believed that their ancestors made a deal with the devil for a thousand years of peace and progress for their world. On the date when the contract was supposedly due, a woman named Ardra appeared, claiming to be the demon of their mythology, come to claim the planet. Picard ultimately proved that Ardra was merely a con artist, using technology to recreate magical effects to convince the populace of her demonic origins.
- Almost every Very Special Episode about drugs is the Faust legend updated; either the drug dealer or the kid who turns Our Hero on to drugs is Mephistopheles. (For instance, the Ghostwriter episode "What's Up With Alex?")
- Too many episodes of The Twilight Zone to count, sometimes involving a literal pact with Satan and sometimes not. Because the show was an anthology, this was one of the few shows where the Faust doesn't escape at the last minute due to Contractual Immortality. (To be fair, some 16th-century Faust stories have Faust avoid Hell.)
- In one episode, "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", the standard trope is averted: The Devil (female, in this instance) offers to send an aging, bored, predatory business tycoon back in time with his memories intact so he can use his knowledge to experience the thrill of the pursuit again. But not in exchange for his soul—Hell already has that; instead, she wants the bulk of his fortune.
- There is an interesting subversion in the episode "Still Valley", in which a group of Confederate soldiers in the American Civil War get a hold of a spellbook which would allow them to win the war easily at the price of renouncing God. Surprisingly, they make the right decision (for once) and burn the book rather than sell their souls, even though they know their side in the war (and maybe their lives) will be over as a result.
- The 80s The Twilight Zone revival has my favorite variation, "I of Newton". A mathematician (Sherman Hemsley) accidentally summons a demon through an equation he was working on, and the demon (Ron Glass) announces that the man's soul is already forfeit, unless he can give a question the demon can't answer or a task he can't perform. Hemsley is allowed to ask two questions about the demon's powers, from which he ascertains that the demon can travel anywhere in the multiverse, and can find his way back from anywhere he has traveled.
Demon: Now, a question I cannot answer.
- A variant that may or may not involve infernal forces happens in the story Button, Button, (later made into the movie, The Box) where a poverty stricken couple are given a box with a button on it and are told that if they press it, they'll get a lot of money but someone whom they don't know will die. They press it and the person who gave it to them comes to collect the box. They are given the money and are told that someone they didn't know has died. They are also told that the box will now be given to someone they don't know.
- On Degrassi the Next Generation, Jay's sole function is to corrupt the other characters.
- Degrassi subverted this plot beautifully in "Moonlight Desires". It's the climax of a Story Arc where Jay lures his latest Faust into committing worse and worse crimes—until the Faust spontaneously decides to do something that scares Jay. But Even Evil Has Standards.
- Degrassi also subverted it badly in "Queen of Hearts," where the Mephisto keeps her promise. This was supposed to be a moral about trust, undermined by the fact that only a total idiot would have believed the promise in the first place. (See Family-Unfriendly Aesop for description.)
- The entire premise of the series Good Versus Evil: our heroes try to persuade victims into exercising the escape clauses of aptly-named "Standard Faustian Contracts" to save their souls.
- The short-lived 1977 series A Year At The Top was an allegedly comic look at a two-man garage band (played by Greg Evigan and David Letterman band leader Paul Shaffer) who sold their souls to the son of the Devil for a year of super-success as rock stars.
- The premise of Friday the 13th: The Series is based on a Deal with the Devil made by the uncle of the protagonists, and their efforts to recover the cursed antiques that he sold as part of the deal.
- The entire series Brimstone was about a dead cop who was offered a chance by the Devil to go to Heaven if he would locate and dispatch 113 Monsters Of the Week that had escaped from Hell.
- Somewhat subverted, however, as the cop was already IN Hell and therefore had absolutely nothing to lose.
- The TV series The Collector involves nothing but deals with the Devil; every episode, the title character goes to another person who's made a deal with Satan, and tries to get the person to earn redemption. Sometimes, he succeeds.
- The Supernatural episode "Crossroad Blues" concerns the main characters trying to save several people who have made deals with the Devil. Notably, the only one they succeed in saving is the one who made a deal to benefit someone else (to save the life of his terminally-ill wife), whereas all the characters who made wishes for success or talent end up being taken down to Hell as planned. Robert Johnson (mentioned above) even puts in an appearance.
- It must run in the family: Mary gave permission for the YED to poison Sam with demon blood (in 1983, the year that she died) in exchange for John to be alive again, John makes a deal with the YED in the first episode of season two: his soul and a mystical gun made by Samuel Colt for Dean's life. When Sam dies in All Hell Breaks Loose, Dean summons a crossroads demon and trades his soul in order for Sam to live again and while he failed, Sam still tried to make any deal he could in order to save Dean from hell. God, that family is screwed up.
- Another surprisingly depressing example occurs for Bela in season 3's "Time Is on My Side." She was fourteen, it's implied her father was abusing her sexually, the Crossroads Demon (in form of a child) killed them for her and the ending is her hearing the hellhounds coming to get her.
- Back when he was human, Crowley sold his soul for "a few extra inches below the belt". He swears that he was "just trying to hit double digits". These days, he's the one making the deals as "King of the Crossroads".
- Bobby makes a deal with Crowley in order to help the brothers save the world from the Apocalypse. It takes him half of season six to find a way out of it.
- The biggest reveal of season six is that all that happened was due to a deal Castiel made with Crowley. Unlike standard deals it is actually more of a partnership where either partner could walk away at any time. However, by the time the brothers find out about it both participants have too much invested in the scheme to back out.
- Another non-standard deal was Sam's entire relationship with demon Ruby during season four. He sacrificed his humanity (and by extension, soul) by following her lead and drinking demon blood so he could develop abilities that would let him destroy that season's Big Bad, Lilith, to prevent the Apocalypse. Ruby did get him strong enough with the Dark Side to kill Lilith. Too bad killing her was the key to start the Apocalypse.
- Just to be clear: the whole series is made of this trope.
- "Season Seven, Time For A Wedding" features an interesting example: a demon makes the standard "You get what you want and die ten years later" deal with people—then has his partner kill them within days, thus exploiting a loophole in the deal-making process (the demon making the deal can't collect early; nothing says another demon can't). When Crowley finds out about this, he is pissed.
- In Angel, Angel accepts a deal from the demonic law firm Wolfram and Hart: They'll give his son Connor amnesia and set the boy up in a good life, and Angel and his team will take over the running of one branch of his law firm.
- While this move fits the trope itself, and has wide-ranging effects on the characters (even, it appears, destroying Angel's own conscience), it leads to a further Deal with the Devil with a heart-wrenching ending: Gunn, dissatisfied with his role as the muscle for the group, accepts a deal to make him into a superhumanly competent lawyer schooled in all areas of law (even demonic law). Later on, it appears that the upgrade wasn't permanent: he's losing his knowledge, and fast. When he desperately tries to bargain a more permanent solution, they're all too happy to grant his request—if he'll do them the petty favor of signing a form to bring an artifact through customs. The artifact ends up implanting his beloved teammate Fred with the soul of a tyrant god, who eventually takes the body over completely, in the process destroying Fred's soul.
- Years ago, Gunn had also traded his soul to a demon for a truck, not expecting to live long enough for the demon to collect. Angel managed to convince all the other people who owed something to the demon to gang up and kill him.
- And Angel makes a deal with Wolfram & Hart in season 2 to release a villain from a hell dimension in exchange for them saving Cordelia. Though W&H were the ones responsible for Cordelia's condition in the first place, in order to coerce Angel into helping them.
- In Reaper, the protagonist's parents' Deal with the Devil before he was born forces him to work for Satan as the title character. Mr. S. regularly tries to make the title character's job easier by offering various forms of assistance. The main character has sagely declined thus far.
- Wow, is that comment out of date. The series also included a failed attempt at solution number 5 in the trope description involving the protagonist's girlfriend that left them both bound for Hell by season's end. Unfortunately they'll never get out of it now.
- Tends to come up from time to time on Ugly Betty with Wilhelmina in the Mephistopheles role and either Betty or Christina in the Faust role.
- In Babylon 5, this trope is played out with anyone who chooses to do dealings with the Shadows, especially Londo Mollari. "What do you want?", indeed.
- Notably, Londo makes several of these deals while knowing better but under duress, almost always regretting it only hours later. A subversion comes when Londo's assistant, Vir refuses dramatically, asking to see the Shadows' agent pay the price for such treachery. Vir gets what he asks for, too.
- An arc in Dharma & Greg had Greg quit his well-paying job as a lawyer to "find himself", leaving both of them with no money. Greg's mother, Kitty, graciously agrees to lend them money and take Dharma out to dinner. It turns out that Kitty is plotting to have Greg take a high-powered job at a prestigious law firm. Kitty even distracts Dharma by taking her to the opera, which is performing Faust. Dharma soon realizes the scheme and tries to stop Greg just as he's signing an employment contract... with red ink.
- Lampshaded further when Kitty offers Dharma dessert... a piece of flambee cake with a six inch tall flame on top.
- In a WKRP in Cincinnati episode, the frustrated employees try to form a labor union. Carlson's mother, who owns the station (and only bought it for the tax writeoff), threatens to shut it down or sell it rather than negotiate. Station manager Andy Travis laments at one point, "I would make a deal with the Devil to keep this station open!" Finally everything is resolved, and we learn Travis has made a secret deal—with Mrs. Carlson.
- There are far too many of these to list in American Gothic, but one of the earliest and most representative is Carter's deal with Buck in the episode "Damned If You Don't" (which could almost be an alternate title for this trope).
- Lost's Michael makes a deal with the devil (in this case, the Others) to secure freedom for his son. He agrees to free "Henry" (which entails killing Ana-Lucia) and betray four of his friends. Eventually his guilt leads him to attempt suicide.
- A much more literal example happens in season 6, when Sayid makes a deal with the smoke monster to get "anything he wants" (implied to be Nadia) in exchange for killing Dogen so Smokey can massacre everyone at the Temple. Turns out this was a ploy, however: the "Devil" here wasn't dealing fairly and was looking to kill Sayid along with all the other candidates. Then again, "fair" and Lost never did quite go hand in hand.
- On Saturday Night Live a hair-dresser who sold her soul takes Satan (Jon Lovitz) to The People's Court for breach of contract, and the Prince of Darkness tries to defend himself by pointing out the obvious.
Satan: It's more or less customary for me to cheat mortals in this way. By observing only the letter of the agreement. For example, I'll give someone eternal youth, then have them sentenced to life imprisonment. That sort of thing. It's pretty standard. I'm the Devil!
- In a later episode, an aspiring musician considers selling his soul for a guaranteed hit, but decides against it when it becomes apparent that all the Devil's songs suck.
- In yet another sketch, a recently deceased man in Heaven is delighted to find out that his instincts about Bruce Willis and Sugar Ray Leonard having made deals with the devil are true.
- In still another sketch, a young Simon and Garfunkel make a deal with the Devil for musical success (his first piece of advice: lose the tubas, get guitars). "We're going to be friends and partners forever, right?" Simon asks the Devil at one point. His reply: "Yeah... Yeah, that's the ticket!"
- One episode of Married... with Children has Al Bundy selling his soul to the Devil for the opportunity to take the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl. Al is drafted by the Bears and has a spectacular season, but when the Bears finally get to the Super Bowl, the Devil tells Al that it's time to hand over his soul. When Al protests, the Devil points out that he only agreed to let Al take the Bears to the Super Bowl, not actually play in the Super Bowl.
Al: But that's not fair!
- The same episode states a real-life person made a similiar deal:
Lucifer: "I want my soul back! I want my soul back!" That's all I ever hear from you and Tiger Woods.
- Played for laughs in the Alice Cooper episode of The Muppet Show, Cooper acts as an agent for the devil, offering a contract that will give the muppet who signs it anything they want. Gonzo is ecstatic, but can't find a pen. ("I'll sell my soul for a pen! No, I have other plans for that.") Ms. Piggy goes through with the deal for great beauty, but is turned off by what Cooper considers beautiful. After giving Piggy a refund, Cooper radios the devil to report...
Cooper: Hello, boss... No, no, I didn't make a sale... Listen, Do I get any commission on hourly rentals?
- A variation of this occurs in Kamen Rider Dragon Knight. When speaking to prospective Kamen Riders, Big Bad General Xaviax claims that accepting his deal and following his instructions will allow them to satisfy their desires—a former rich kid will get a million bucks for each Rider beaten; a street fighter will become the strongest man in two worlds; a framed man will get the evidence he needs to be cleared; a disabled soldier will get to protect his country. Given that all of the people we've seen accepting these deals have either been eliminated or end up defecting before being able to collect, it has not been confirmed whether Xaviax would have kept his side of the bargain.
- We later meet his first victim, who was tricked into dooming his whole world to slavery. He got what he wanted, able to live in peace with his girlfriend... until Xaviax got desperate and told him "Become a Heel Face Mole or I'll tear down this little fantasy and tell your people who betrayed them."
- Played straight in an Emmy-nominated episode of The Monkees called "The Devil and Peter Tork." Peter (the innocent, lovable "dummy" of the group) unwittingly sells his soul to a man named "Mr. Zero" in exchange for a beautiful gold harp, and the ability to play it. The Monkees soon realize who "Mr. Zero" is, and desperately fight to have the Devil spare Peter's soul. In the end, Mike wins the battle for him in court, in which he proves that Mr. Zero didn't give Peter the ability to play the harp at all, stating, "if you love music, you can play music."
- There was an episode in Tales from the Darkside that had the Devil made a deal with a frustrated movie script writer.
- Earl of Dinosaurs made a deal with the devil to get a very exclusive mug.
- A version of this occurs in the midway through season 8 of 24, after the peace treaty negotiation is postponed by the kidnap (and later death) of President Hassan, and the Russians decide they want to pull out of the treaty. President Taylor is tempted and does make a deal with disgraced Ex-President Logan (from series 5) who offered to make negotiations with the Russians in return for being credited as having a major role. It goes terribly wrong when it turns out the Russians were involved in the assassination of Hassan, and Logan begins to exert his influence over Taylor, 'advising' her to order more arrests, going against her beliefs and policies (and causing her most trusted advisor Ethan to resign in protest) and drawing her into a massive cover-up. However, the deal is compromised due to Logan's involvement in Renee Walker's death. Needless to say, Jack was not happy about this. The deal is broken when President Taylor announces at the signing ceremony that she will not be signing the treaty, thus winning back her dignity and conscience.
- Happens in an episode of The Kids in The Hall where a stoner, during a massive pot drought runs into the actual Devil in a back alley. The Devil doesn't want the stoner's soul or his body, but actually his jacket as he's starting a rock band, "The Noodles." In exchange, the devil gives the stoner the ability to grow ready-to-smoke marijuana from his hair. Subverted in that everybody ends up happily ever after with the result.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 Touch of Satan episode concludes with Crow telling Mike that he sold his soul to Satan and looks forward to getting power real soon - but then Mike takes a look at the contract and finds that Crow actually sold his soul to Stan, a C.P.A. When they try to call him for a refund, he says that he has already re-sold Crow's soul with a big block of souls to City Corp.
Crow: "Oh man, I'm gonna have to make so many phone calls to get my soul back!"
- Invoked in Blue Bloods. Assistant DA tells a teacher who has been taking money from his gang leader brother "You made a deal with the Devil and now the bill has come due."
- The main plot line in Kamen Rider Den-O. Imagin would form a contract with a human and grant them one wish(weather they want to or not). After fulfilling it in a way, they will travel to that persons past and destroy it.
- Uva from Kamen Rider OOO eventually makes this his main methoid of using his Yummy. They begin carrying out the desire of their host, even following orders on occasion, but it always ends up coming back to bite the host in the end.
- Kazari ended up making such a deal with Dr. Maki. But finds out too late that he wasn't the devil in the deal...
- The Comic Strip Presents episode "Demonella" features the devil offering a record producer success, wealth and power in exchange for his mother's recipe for chicken soup.
- In the Halloween episode of Bottom, Richie attempts to sell his sells in exchange for twenty years of unlimited sex. All he gets is a visit from Hedgehog's daughter and a flaming rear courtesy of the 'sprouts Mexicaine'.
- One episode of The Mighty Boosh has Howard sign a contract with The Spirit of Jazz in exchange for musical talent.
Howard: Do you want me to sign this in blood?
- An episode of Big Wolf on Campus featured a girl who was so desperate to become Student Council president, she told her teacher (who was a devil in disguise) that she'd sell her soul to win. When she wins, he takes her soul and prepares to take it back to Hell with him. But, after a fight with Tommy, Merton shows the devil a postcard the girl had written him over the summer when they were children, back when she was more open about her crush on him. On that postcard she promised Merton her heart and soul. Realizing that the girl was double-dealing him, the devil reluctantly returns her soul on the grounds that it legally belonged to Merton and was not hers to offer.
- On The Amazing Race, Season 11, Danny & Oswald sold their Yield to Dustin & Kandice when they found themselves out of money. Immediately upon using to Yield another team, they seemed to lose all heart and will to win the race, and equated the deal to this trope.
- An episode of Wayne and Shuster had a musician selling his soul to the Devil in order to become Canada's greatest hockey player.
- Subverted on an episode of Jonathan Creek, in which Lenny Spearfish believes that he's sold his sold to the devil in exchange for wealth, power and immortality, only for Jonathan to discover that all the "miracles" that happen to him were in fact orchestrated by MI 5. Having recently discovered that Lenny's wife was the illigitimate and unacknowledged daughter of a royal, they were commissioned to ensure that she was provided for. This not only involved rigging up a buried treasure in her back garden, but also protecting her against the criminal that her husband managed to enrage whilst high on his newfound success.
- The main plot of the episode of Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell called Golden Fiddle Week involves a group of demons attempting to convince humans to bet their soul in exchange for a golden fiddle if the demon loses. All the demons are incompetent and are easily beaten by the humans at the various challenges presented, reversing the trope in hilarious ways.
- The protagonist of Priest, Ivan Isaacs, makes a deal with the demon Bethael/Belial which involves giving up half his soul.
- A Deal with the Devil was made by the bass player of the virtual band Gorillaz, Murdoc Niccals, but with no lethal consequence. He changed his middle name to Faust, and got Satan's bass guitar, El Diablo in return. (He was marked as a Satanist from the day he was born—his birthdate is 6 June 1966, which made his 40th birthday 06/06/06.)
- Recent media has shown that there was quite a price to pay. Turns out the devil came back to pick up his payment, but wasn't too particular about who he took to Hell, snatching guitarist Noodle in lieu of Murdoc.
- But not even Beezelbub is allowed to jeopardize the fame and fortune the band brings to Murdoc, so he went down to Hell and tracked Noodle down and rescued her. It also doesn't hurt to mention that she's his Morality Pet.
- Except recent news says he didn't find her, and the current Noodle is actually an android. Then again, Murdoc has been drunk constantly for quite a while and keeps changing the story, so he's just a teeny bit of an Unreliable Narrator.
- The Noodle he currently has is definitely an android. There are, however, suggestions in recent releases that the real Noodle is injured but alive; if she was ever in Hell in the first place, the evidence suggests she pulled a Like a Badass Out of Hell stunt on her own.
- Her location during her MIA period has not been confirmed, but real Noodle is alive and kicking, according to the "On Melancholy Hill" video. She and Russel are heading to Plastic Beach, and one assumes Murdoc isn't gonna enjoy the confrontation. There are suggestions on his Twitter page that he did try to find her; he seemed to panic when finding out she was alive and instantly rushed to help, so he may indeed have cared enough to try to find her last time.
- The Trans-Siberian Orchestra Rock Opera Beethoven's Last Night is based on a variation/inversion of this trope, as Mephistopheles offers to return a dying Ludwig van Beethoven's soul—in exchange for which, all of Beethoven's works would be forever erased from history, and his name would never be known to future generations. The soul wasn't Mephistopheles' to begin with...
- In Jerry Springer: The Opera, angels try to rescue Jerry from Hell, but the demons fight them off, shouting "He made a choice!"
- The Devil Went Down to Georgia, as mentioned below in the Video Games entry for Guitar Hero III). The song could be considered an inversion of the trope as the "main character" (or as far as a song can have one) actually comes off better after a deal with the Devil and wins a Golden Fiddle in a fiddle contest.
- And that the Devil challenged him, because he was the one in need. (He was behind schedule.)
- Marc O'Connor hooked up with Charlie Daniels to record a sequel, "The Devil Comes Back to Georgia" in which the Devil challenges Johnny to a rematch. The track featured vocals by Travis Tritt(as the Devil), Marty Stuart(as Johnny) and Johnny Cash(narrating in full preacher-mode). Final score=?
- Word of God is that Charlie Daniels agreed to record the song only if Johnny was able to beat the Devil once again. While the song's lyrics are fairly nebulous regarding the final outcome, the video indicates that Johnny won again.
- And also Beelzeboss by Tenacious D, the song in earlier mentioned Tenacious D movie, which is arguably a parody of The Devil went Down To Georgia.
- Until the Guitar Hero version, which was so ridiculously Nintendo Hard that the Devil winds up winning most of the time. It actually upset Charlie Daniels because it undermined the message of the song.
- And that the Devil challenged him, because he was the one in need. (He was behind schedule.)
- This is the theme of Weber's opera Der Freischütz, in which the Devil supplies magic bullets. It was later adapted by Tom Waits into a rock opera, The Black Rider:
Why be a fool when you can chase away
- Rapper DMX has the Damien series: a series of songs spanning multiple albums about his Deal with the Devil to get into the hip hop industry, and the increasing demands of the devil for DMX to meet his end of the bargain.
- Snoop Dogg's "Murder Was Tha Case" opens with him being shot and dying in the hospital, only to make a deal with a rhyming devil to get his hood rich lifestyle back. Naturally, he's then arrested and ends the song in prison.
- Kamelot's albums, Epica and The Black Halo are two halves of a Rock Opera based on Goethe's Faust.
- "Red Right Hand", by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, is about this.
You don't have no money, he'll get you some
- Brilliantly subverted by Frank Zappa in his song "Titties and Beer", about a biker who calls the devil's bluff. Apparently, you're not supposed to want to sell your soul.
- The Canadian band Great Big Sea did this according to their song Straight to Hell. Strangely enough, both sides get exactly what they want: A life of Rock and Roll in exchange for One Eternal Soul. The chorus:
Love me now while we're alive
- The song Demolition Lovers off of I Brought You My Bullets... and most of the album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge by My Chemical Romance were supposed to operate on a story line that a somewhat nefarious pair of lovers are killed in a hail of bullets. The man gets to Hell, finds out the woman is still alive, and then makes a deal with the devil—he'll kill 1000 evil men in order to get his life back and be with his woman. However, the band is a fail at sticking to story lines when they decide to make a concept album, so you just have to trust them on this.
- Disturbed's Inside the Fire has the devil attempting to get the singer to give his soul to the devil (kill himself) so he can see his girlfriend (who killed herself) again. Draiman turns the deal down.
- Party of the First Part is a song/spoken word piece by Bauhaus, where a rather dim woman gets conned out of her soul by a hilariously obvious demon (it says "Beelzebub" on his business card, for pity's sake) in return for short-lived musical fame.
- Vocaloid's The Madness of Duke Venomania has said duke (Gakupo) who in his childhood was mocked and taunted by others. In his adulthood, he made a deal with the devil to make him have irresistble charisma to women, having them flock to his mansion's basement to be his harem.
- In Judgement of Corruption, a corrupt judge who receives bribes to make criminals "innocent" dies and meets with the "master of the hellish yard" who tells him he can be saved if he gives up his money. He refuses and is promptly sent to hell where the judge hopes to turn the place into a utopia after he gathers his sins.
- Orpheus makes one with Hades in the folk opera Hadestown
- Subverted in Sound Horizon's Seisen no Iberia, where Layla's literal Deal with the Devil ends up being the smartest decision anyone's made in centuries, what with creating a peaceful resolution to eponymous Forever War.
- Played for Laughs in the video of the Chilean band Chancho en Piedra's Huachi Perry, featuring the band members terrified as the Devil (played by the late show woman Candy Dubois) and her Horny Devils come to collect their souls. . . Also, subverted: they swallow pills that transfrom them into nuns and turn the tables. It Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
- Legend has that Giuseppe Tartini composed the above-mentioned Violin Sonata in G Minor aka The Devil's Trill after having a dream where he made one of these via hearing the Devil play the violin beautifully and then making a deal with him to compose and play music just as well.
- Used in Dungeons and Dragons, where demons and devils can be summoned, and make pacts with mortals. Notable in that they CAN, in fact, grab your soul and run if you mess up the pentagram, and if you forget 'Promise not to kill me when you're done' in the contract, you are in trouble.
- There's also a demon named Pazuzu who gives a wish in exchange for going one step closer to Chaotic Evil on the alignment chart.
- The book "Fiendish Codex 2: Lords of the Nine Hells" actually deals a lot with how devils do those Faustian deals. Devils have rules they must follow for contracts (they can't directly force someone into making a deal, for example) and hell even has its own appeal court run by a pit fiend for souls who believe their contracts were not fulfilled lawfully. And yes, while very hard-assed (you better know infernal law real well to win there), said court actually works, meaning that if you are right and can plead better than the devil who made a deal with you, you can win your soul back. Because devils get your soul if you are Lawful Evil when you die, not all contracts require your soul as payment; quite a few contracts will simply require the mortal to do a series of actions that will eventually make him Lawful Evil. This method has the advantage of not giving the mortal a chance to go to court for his soul once in hell (since he's there not because of the deal, but because of his alignment).
- Fourth Edition brings us the warlock class, who make pacts with extradimensional entities for magical knowledge. One of the possible pacts they can enter into is with a demon. Strangely, this does not automatically mean that they're evil.
- The 3.5 supplement Complete Arcane introduced the warlock, and they got their powers in the same manner. They also didn't have to be of a evil alignment, but were limited to chaotic or evil.
- To be specific, the 4e warlock gets its powers from one of the following pacts; the dark pact, with demons; the fey pact, with creatures of the feywild; the infernal pact, with devils; the star pact, with creatures of the far realm; and the vestige pact, with various remnants of dead powers. These forces are generally evil, or at best extremely alien, but what prevents someone from automatically becoming evil from making these pacts is that they can actively work against their patrons, even with that power.
- In New World of Darkness games:
- A variation occurs in Mage: The Awakening, with the beings known as the acamoth. The acamoth make deals with mages (and possibly other mortals) whereby they consent to allow the acamoth to enter their souls and Mind Rape them. If the mage survives with their sanity reasonably intact, the acamoth are obliged to grant them powers. The acamoth are noted to not have much interest in souls which are already corrupt, and are generally concerned with inscrutable, long-term goals (ie, conquering reality), which means they will rarely take a soul outright (a comparison is made to financial investment).
- Also toyed with in Changeling: The Lost. A Changeling or True Fae can bind a human to a Pledge, offering money, power, or other benefits in exchange for various favors - but most Changelings, due to the importance of contracts and pledges among the fae, are geniuses at twisting the meanings behind the words of their pledges. Not only that, but an agreement with the True Fae has a better-than-average chance of ending in the human kidnapped and subjected to Mind Rape in the True Fae's Arcadian realm. Best case scenario: he escapes as a Changeling. Worst case? You don't want to know.
- Hunter: The Vigil and World of Darkness: Inferno also include rules for making dark contracts with demons; some of these are the traditional "sell your soul" variety, while other simply require you to perform actions that feed the demon's Vice. Many of these demons are actually remarkably straightforward in their dealings, and that hunters often find themselves searching for loopholes and hidden clauses that aren't really there.
- In the Old World of Darkness games:
- The most traditional variation is seen in Demon: The Fallen, in which a Fallen character can make a mortal human their "Thrall". In exchange for the usual stuff like health, luck, romance, etc., the human becomes permanently bound to the Demon and has to fulfill their part of the deal in addition to supplying their master with Faith (used to cast magic). Thralls do have free will and can contemplate a Faustian Rebellion but the only way to break the connection is actually killing their master, which is not exactly simple. Additionally, there are the Earthbound, who Mind Rape their Thralls to make them completely obedient slaves (who cannot provide them with Faith, though).
- Vampire: The Masquerade had rules for Dark Thaumaturgy, where the characters would have to make a pact with a devil in order to gain more powerful (and evil) Blood-magic. The rules even specifically stated that the Storyteller now could have the character dragged straight to Hell at any given time, like, say, if they felt the character became TOO powerful.
- The Chaos Gods of Warhammer and Warhammer 40000 often empower their mortal followers: Khorne can bestow martial prowess and brute strength, Tzeentch can grant a worshipper sorcerous power or fate-weaving cunning, Slaanesh boosts a person's charisma and makes their senses keener, and Nurgle's followers have their lifespans increased and become significantly tougher. In rare cases, these pacts work out. More commonly, Chaos worshippers fall prey to the very pacts they made: Khorne's followers become mindless killers consumed by bloodlust, spilling their own if no foes present themselves. Tzeentch's devotees end up power-hungry, paraonid, and trapped by the complexities of their scheming, or even betrayed by their patron as part of the god's Gambit Roulette. Slaanesh's disciples become addicted to sensation of any kind, be it mind-rotting drugs or self-mutilation. And Nurgle's cultists are turned into festering, putrid husks, whose corrupt bodies are so tough because they're rotted past the point of feeling pain anymore.
- In any case, the road of a champion of Chaos only has two destinations: ascension to a full-fledged daemon prince, or else all the gifts and mutations cause the aspirant's mind and body to collapse into a bestial chaos spawn.
- The best part is since these are gods of chaos, making a pact with them in the first place can be difficult - they're just as likely to notice and reward some dabbling nobleman than a warrior who battled for decades in their name.
- You can make these pacts in the Dark Heresy RPG, though it may be hard to keep them concealed from your teammates...
- A really bad Faust comes from the Warhammer spin-off Mordheim. Nicodemus asked a Greater Daemon of Tzeentch to become "the greatest wizard of the Old World." Wish granted. He discovered an antidote before he grew too large, but he requires a constant supply of Warpstone to manufacture it.
- Mutants and Masterminds has one in the form of Mr. Infamy, who looking to make this kind of deal. It doesn't matter if it's a normal Joe, a superhero or a supervillain.
- Exalted has a number of versions, seeing as tacitly summoning and bartering with demons isn't exactly frowned on by the religion of the Realm, but the most traditional might be Abyssal Exaltation. One of the Deathlords comes to you on your deathbed and promises you a second chance at life, as well as power beyond your imagining... as long as you'll bind yourself to his service, throw your name into the Void, and aid him in the destruction of Creation.
- And then there are the more traditional devils, the Yozis. One of the ways the Yozis recruit the Green Sun Princes is to go to a mortal who had a chance of performing great deeds that would have lined them up for Exaltation, but backed down in the face of adversity. The Yozis then offer them a second chance at greatness...
- And then there are the akuma, Exalts and "enlightened" mortals who threw their lot in with the Yozis. The resultant procedure gives them great power, rapes their free will out of existence, and turns them into a very intelligent oven mitt with a daiklave. Yeah, becoming akuma is rarely a good idea.
- Among the Green Sun Princes, the favored of Cecelyne can make these and dictate terms thanks to the Verdant Emptiness Endowment Charm, which allows them to answer wishes made even in jest. Further Charms allow them to grant further benedictions and heal the grievously wounded... as well as revoke their blessings, painfully, if payment isn't offered up.
- This is a large part of Black Magic in Magic: The Gathering. The most up-front about it are the demons you can summon, especially the flavour text on the latest reprint of the classic Lord of the Pit: "My summoning begins your debt, planeswalker". The character Liliana Vess has a major deal with dark forces in her backstory.
- Quite common in Deadlands. Nearly all magic comes from the spirits of The Hunting Grounds. The nice ones are in the minority. The most common playable version of this is The Huckster, who has to allow a demon into his body in order to cast a spell. Just hope the Huckster isn't tricked into giving the demon too much control.
- Played straight and toyed with in Nobilis. The Cammorae play both sides. They're Faust when they make a deal for whatever powers they receive and lose their humanity. They fit in the Mephistopholes role when the player characters contract them to do something. First and second edition Powers of Hell also play with this trope. Many love buying souls, with the full knowledge that such deals don't actually do anything. Humans that think they have no soul have no reason to act virtuously, and will probably become corrupt and hellbound in the process.
- Doctor Faustus names tropes to do with dealing with the devil.
- A deal with the devil is commonly used in pantomimes. A naive character (AKA: village idiot) is commonly corrupted by the villain with the promise of riches and power. This either leads to the villain holding him to ransom or the naive character returning in the second half hypnotised.
- "You eat blood, Audrey II, let's face it. How am I going to keep on feeding you, kill people?" "I'll make it worth your while..."
- Hertzog, from The Black Crook, made a deal with the devil, who is referred to as Zamiel. In exchange for immortality, Hertzog must give Zamiel a fresh soul every New Year's Eve.
- Discussed in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons, when Sir Thomas More tells Richard Rich (who had perjured himself, betraying More's trust, leading to More's arrest and Rich's promotion to Attorney General for Wales), "Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to his soul for the whole world...but for Wales?"
- In Damn Yankees, the main character sells his soul to the devil to fulfill his dream of playing in the major leagues. Along the way he meets Lola, a seductive servant of the devil's, who's later revealed to have made a similar deal in life; she was ugly and sold her soul for beauty.
- Fear Effect has Mr. Lam do this with the King of Hell in order to get rich quick. Unfortunately, he has to raise a girl who is supposed to destroy the world. Naturally, this deal comes back to bite him and bite him hard.
- This is how most of the bosses in the Mega Man Star Force games become bosses in the first place.
- Subverted in Persona 3; the contract the main character signs with Pharos in the opening sequence practically screams Deal with the Devil—but despite granting the main character the services of the slightly creepy Trickster Mentor Igor, the contract in itself has no negative repercussions (it turns out to be implicitly vital in saving the world, in fact).
- In Mask of the Betrayer, the expansion pack to Neverwinter Nights 2, at one point you have to free a wizard who struck a deal with the devil and 'just signed it'. The resulting conversation and comment options while you comb the fine print of the contract and question both the devil and the wizard about it are close to being the most hilarious in the game.
Faras: So you have some experience with infernal beings, then?
- Interestingly enough if you dig completely through the contract and both sides of the story you can find that the devil a) cheated and b) doesn't realize it. He is forced by his very nature to declare the contract void if you point it out.
- Mask of the Betrayer also has Oronock and Thael'ka, a pair of Devils who've set themselves up as merchants to control the trafficking of souls between hell and a wizard's academy.
- In the original campaign, this trope was played straight by Ammon Jerro, who sold his soul to the Devil Levistus. Jerro's ally Mephasm subverts this, however; he'll reject buying your soul if you offer to sell it to him, and only seems interested in trading magical artifacts.
- Used straight in Guitar Hero III, with your agent Lou.
- In both forms. Not only does the small print state that "Your soul is mine", but you can attempt an ordeal to recover it. The song used for that final battle? The Devil Went Down To Georgia (quoted up top).
- After failing a Demonic Possession of the main character in Soul Nomad and The World Eaters, Gig, who is now fused to your soul, offers the main character a Deal with the Devil: He'll lend you some of his divine powers in return for limited control of your body, allowing you to create your army. During certain points in the story, he'll offer you better access, granting you incredible powers that will allow you to grind whoever you're facing into fine powder... But once you're done with said grinding, you get a Nonstandard Game Over as Gig uses that access to boot your soul out of your body and takes it for himself.
- In Half Life, the GMan takes the liberty to conscript Gordon Freeman into his service without ever offering him a choice or actually informing him about it until the end of the game. In both the first and second game, he's constantly around manipulating events to turn out favorably for Gordon and his allies. Episode 2 informs us that he did the same to Eli Vance. Instead of forcing them to do the work for him, he arranges it so that by achieving each of their own goals, they actually further his own hidden agenda.
- In Final Fantasy XII, Ashe is offered the chance, by the deities of her world, to cut some pretty shards from a big crystal. These shards are weapons of mass destruction, and with them she could become Queen of the World - the problem is, it's implicit that if she were to do that, the deities would have indirect control over mankind through her. The deities present her with apparitions of her late husband to tempt her. Ultimately, the crystal is destroyed before she can truly decide.
- It's implied that the most famous King who 'united' the world and left three of those shards as his legacy actually did the deal good and proper.
- Riku, from Kingdom Hearts. Also, Cloud Strife, with Hades.
- Subverted with Auron, who is offered a deal to get out of Hell, and refuses, and then gets out anyways.
Auron: "This is my story, and you're not part of it."
- Subverted early on in Shadow of Destiny: Eike assumes that the Homunculus is after his soul, but Homunculus isn't interested. One possible ending double subverts this, implying that the only reason Homunculus doesn't want Eike's soul is that he already owns it.
- In Dark Cloud Seda makes a deal with a Robed man, by infusing the blood of witches in him, he would gain immense Magical power to aid him in winning the war he was in to protect his kingdom, however there was a price: When his hatred and sorrow peaked; the Dark Genie was born.
- Lillet Blan ascends to Magnificent Bastardhood by making complete mockeries of Grim Grimoire's two Big Bads, both of which had only been sealed before since they were too powerful to defeat. She does this by abusing a very big loophole—on HER side—in a Deal with the Devil, a loophole which Hell's lawyers are probably going to need to patch to standard contract procedure in the future...
- In case you didn't know, she just conned one Big Bad into killing the other Big Bad (by summoning him outside of the first Big Bad's bindings), then sold her soul to the surviving Big Bad for one wish, in a contract that is only breakable if the demon volunteers to be sucked back to Hell and tortured for eternity. Her wish? She asks the demon to embrace God.
Grimlet: (realizing to his horror that he'd just been suckered by a little girl) Mephistopheles... is this your doing?
- Kazuya Mishima in Tekken survives being thrown to a cliff because he made a Deal With The Devil to give him strength so he can take revenge on his dad Heihachi.
- In The Neverhood, Klogg offers you Hoborg's crown. You probably shouldn't take it.
- Kitami from Bible Black made a deal with Satan for survival more power after the brutal deaths of the witchcraft club (which tried to sacrifice her) summoned him. However, her soul will be sent to Hell after 13 years. She spends the next 13 years looking for a way out, and discovers that if her soul switches bodies with a virgin's on Walpurgis Night, then the unfortunate victim will go to Hell instead of her.
- Richter Abend from Tales of Symphonia Dawn of the New World struck a deal with the demons of Niflheim (the land of the dead) for enough unholy power to avenge his best friend. Since the target of his revenge is also the seal that stops the demonic populace from invading the world, and the absence of the seal would allow aforementioned best friend to come back to the world of the living, it works out quite well for all concerned. Except Richter is planning to double-cross the demons by turning himself into a new seal after his friend is reborn.
- In Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Dr. Doom trades Nightcrawler and Jean Grey for a Plot Coupon as part of his Chain of Deals to steal Odin's power. The players eventually reach Mephisto, but have to beat him up to proceed. No deals allowed.
- In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, mages sometimes entice spirits to enter their bodies, giving them great power... for a price... Such mages are called Spirit Charmers, for obvious reasons. While the spirits themselves are not diabolical, the effects of charming one are. (Supposedly...)
- The Dark Meadow uses this as the main backstory in the game. Suffering from a terminal illness, Ben Jacobi's parents sell their souls in order for their son to be cured of his illness and receive 17 great years afterwards. 17 years later, an overwhelmingly successful Ben feels invincible and thus agrees with the Trickster to sell his daughter's soul so he could live for another 17 years. His wife never gets over their daughter's subsequent abduction and divorces him, leaving Ben as a penniless, drunken mess. Ben's time is nearly up once more, hence why he's in the hospital.
- Deliciously subverted in Planescape: Torment with Fjull Forked-Tongue, a devil who tried to tempt a fallen angel with a deal... Only to find that said angel was considerably defter at contract manipulation than he, with the end result being that he's forced to be good for as long as he and the angel remain alive (both are, naturally, immortal). It goes without saying that when you meet him, he's not having a happy existence.
- Played straight in the same game should the Nameless One come across the Grimoire of Pestilential Thought. It offers rather cynical wisdom such as "There are two secrets for becoming truly powerful. The first is to never tell anyone everything you know." But, it can teach you powerful spells, at a price. It starts off just wanting a drop of your blood, but it then demands you sell one of your party members into slavery. Finally, in exchange for "Power Word: Kill", you must murder another one of your party members.
- In the same vein, The Dustmen will let anyone sell themselves into a contract where their body is reanimated into a zombie, then a skeleton, for work in the Mortuary. In the Hive you'll find someone upset that they sold their body after death and want the contract back, a zombie holding a note that says "Please cremate me after death - take this magic item in exchange", and the Nameless One himself can sign such a contract - three times over!
- Castlevania 64 offers a very interesting variation. In the Villa, the heroes encounter a demon salesman called Renon who offers his service for the hefty price. However he neglects to mention that spending more than 30000 gold in his shop equals to selling your soul to the devil, in which case Renon will be more than eager to claim his fee when the time comes.
- Monster Madness has a subversion. While the villain has the bright idea of selling his soul to the devil, he figures...why not take the devil's soul instead? This is where his master plan ensues.
- In Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, the Valsharess hasn't to her own mind even made a deal with the devil, but simply made him her servant (somehow). However, considering he is an archdevil called Mephistopheles, she should have known it was not going to end well. There are rules, whatever they may be, and eventually he uses the player character to manipulate her to break them enough that he can bend the bounds of her control and have her killed. Then, since he now happens to be in the material world, he sets out to conquer it. Later, he may simply talk the player's companions into joining him before the final encounter.
- It is even hinted that the entire "deal" was a Xanatos Gambit by Mephistoplheles himself, started as far back as the previous game.
- Shadow Hearts has as a major plot point in Covenant that mortals can make pacts with the three most powerful demons in that universe: Amon, Asmodeus, and Astaroth. Doing so will let the demons eventually hollow out your soul and take up residence. Yuri Hyuga, who made the pact with Amon, is in no danger because he simply beat Amon into submission. Nicholai, who made the pact with Astaroth, had enough willpower to stop the Demonic Possession... until he got captured by another faction of bad guys and was tortured to the point where his spirit broke.
- The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess starts with Link being recruited by a a wicked-looking Imp who will help you rescue your friends in return for retrieving three forbidden artifacts sealed away by Hyrule's light spirits. Subverted — the imp may look wicked, but she isn't. Well, not much
- The game also has a variant on this in Zant, who sells his allegiance to Ganondorf in exchange for the latter's help in usurping the throne of the Twilight Realm. Zant, mistakenly believing Ganondorf to be a god, can't be killed as long as the immortal thief-lord lives, but in exchange for the Twilight throne, Ganondorf forces Zant to turn his people into monsters and invade Hyrule. (Zant didn't really need much persuasion on that matter, though.) In the end, this deal backfires on Ganondorf when he tries to reach out to Zant for power to save him from dying, but a disillusioned Zant opts to kill himself instead by snapping his own neck, taking Ganondorf with him.
- God of War: Kratos makes a deal with Ares to save his life. Then Ares tricks him into murdering his wife and daughter. (More) Killing ensues.
Kratos: "ARES! Destroy my enemies - and my life is yours!"
- Kratos manages to get out of this deal in a rather badass way - by absorbing the power of Pandora's Box, growing to Godly size, and killing the hell out of Ares - becoming the new God of War.
- Dragon Age has numerous demons all seeking to makes deals with everyone, especially magi. They will keep their word, but are usually pretty jerkassy about how they do it. And after the deal they generally turn you into an abomination and take over your body. Strangely enough, it's actually the better way to become possessed because it leaves your will intact (as opposed to the demon crushing your spirit) because then the control can be broken. As proved with Connor.
- This is how one becomes a blood mage.
- Connor himself made a deal with a demon to save his father after he was poisoned.
- The protagonist and/or Alistair's deal with Morrigan to not die killing the Archdemon has the distinct scent of this trope about it. Its all about the way she presents it, combined with ominous camera angles and backgrond music.
- Dragon Age 2 has Hawke being forced to make one of these with Flemeth: help with Flemeth's Thanatos Gambit in exchange for getting Hawke's family and Aveline to safety. By the end of the game, there appear to be no negative consequences for this deal, at least for Hawke.
- Dragon Age 2 also has two party members who have made such deals with all the best intentions. Merrill made a deal with a demon to become a blood mage so that she could help her clan rebuild its former glory. Anders made a deal with the benevolent Fade spirit Justice; Justice could possess him, preventing Justice's death and augmenting Anders's powers...but, since Fade spirits are essentially creatures of emotion, his own anger at the Templars and the injustices he saw in the world corrupted Justice into a demon of Vengeance. Both end up suffering greatly for their poor judgment later.
- Saren in Mass Effect attempts to make a deal with the Reapers, assisting them in their return in the hope of securing a better fate for him and those who will follow him in submiting to them when they will arrive. It is made quite clear that the Reapers have no intention in letting anyone surive.
- In Mass Effect 2, the Illusive Man does not fall for this trick and instead becomes convinced that he can enslave them and become the ruler of the Galaxy. Like Saren, who became packed with implants by his Reaper master, the Illusive Man "chose" to gain the implants as a means to gain access to the Reaper Hive Mind. Mass Effect 3 reveals that every time the Reapers return someone like him appears, but only manages to sabotage any actual attempts of a defense against them.
- Used in Bayonetta, as the Umbra Witches, including the heroine, gain their power from making pacts with Infernal powers. As a consequence, if and when the Witches die their souls are dragged down to hell. Presumably the Lumen Sages, as the counterparts to the Witches make the same kind of deal but with different entities, but it's not really elaborated upon.
- Happens to the main character in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. When struck down by his rival Bosch, the dragon Odjn restores your character's life and gives him the power of the Wyrm. From then on, during any battle he can call upon the Wyrm's power and do tremendous damage to anything in his way. However, every time he does so, the Wyrm takes over more of his soul. When the Wyrm takes over his soul completely, it bursts out of his body, ending the game. Later on, Bosch gets a similar power from another dragon.
- Wiegraf in Final Fantasy Tactics.
Velius: "God Stone Bearer, with me now do treat. Your spirit and my flesh as one shall merge. Life undying yours forever more."
- Before that, there was Final Fantasy II. Big Bad The Emperor made a deal with Satan (and yes, they do invoke him by name in the Japanese novelizations)--his soul for the power to command the Legions of Hell in order to Take Over the World. And when he is killed and Satan comes to collect...the Emperor uses this power to meet Satan in combat and kills him dead, then goes on to conquer hell itself. And if you think that's Crazy Awesome? He did the same thing in Heaven.
- In the The Legend of Spyro Trilogy, the Apes made a pact with Malefor to free him from the Well of Souls in exchange for power. Well they work their butts off to free him and he 'rewards' them by turning them into undead skeletons forever condeemed to live in the dark.
- Starcraft II has this going on between Tychus and Arcturus. No points for guessing who the devil is.
Arcturus: They say a man doesn't know anything about himself... until his freedom's been taken away. I wonder... how much do you know about yourself?
- Though it's not to a devil, it's possible to this with Akasha or the world in Fate/stay night. Archer did it and so did Saber. The agreement is that in exchange for something, you agree that after your death you will enter the Throne of Heroes outside of time and from there be summoned forth to keep humanity from being destroyed through brute force with no heed to who is innocent or guilty. Said contracts have no end and cannot be broken unless, as with Saber, you choose to give up on what it was you agreed to go for. Real heroes don't need to do it so Saber is going to end up with this fate, anyway.
- In an Etna mode chapter break in the Updated Rerelease of Disgaea, she offers to beat up bullies harassing a 7-year old kid, in exchange for the kid's servitude after he dies. Seeing as this is Etna, a nearby prinny immediately objects.
- He's not exactly the devil, but in Avernum 5 the mysterious mage Gladwell is certainly willing to offer you a deal. Just for agreeing to work for him, every party member will get an additional point to every primary statistic (a significant boost in power), plus powerful magical items in return for every artifact you bring him. The catch is that this power comes with his control—if he wants you to get him an artifact near your current location, you'll be physically incapable of proceeding until you get it, regardless of whether stealing the artifact will piss off a town and prevent you from completing further quests there. He cannot, however, prevent you from physically attacking him . . .
- He's back in game 6, and this time he's a bit more subtle. He tells you he'll reveal his goals to you once he trusts you more, but in the meantime you'll just have to take his word for it that he has a good reason for telling you to go to various places filled with powerful undead and set them loose. As early as his second mission you can attempt to warn people about what he's up to, but you'll find that your jaw refuses to obey you.
- Before the story begins in Eien no Aselia, Yuuto somehow managed to make a contract with Desire, a living weapon. The deal was that it would save his little sister's life, and when the time came Yuuto would wield it to destroy its enemy, Oath. Both swords are evil. Played with a little in that Desire never really gains the degree of control over Yuuto that it expected it to. And that it dies before achieving its goal and lightens up a little at the end.
- Close to the end of Oni, Konoko discovers that Muro is planning to pollute the environment worldwide to kill everybody. However, he will save people who sell their souls to him for a Daodan Chrysalis. On their part, they will survive the polluted with a Daodan Chrysalis implanted in each of them. On Muro's part, he gets people who will serve under him, and will kill and destroy on his command, which would make them as monstrous as him. If that is not a Deal with the Devil, then what is?
- Towards the end of Mortal Kombat 9. Raiden tries to make one with Quan Chi to help turn the tide against the Big Bad after Sindel's massacre; the souls of all those killed in the battle for Netherrealm's aid. Unfortunately, the Big Bad had already sold all the souls to Quan Chi.
- In The Elder Scrolls, the Daedric Prince Clavicus Vile loves making deals with mortals that they later come to regret, though in Oblivion, he makes a deal he later comes to regret, in acquiring Umbra. This results in him losing some of his Daedric power.
- Skyrim shows that Nocturnal also likes cutting deals. specifically she grants you special powers and badass armor, along with largely free reign in return for protecting her shrines in life and death.
- The first Werewolves sold their souls to Hircine in exchange for their power. When a werewolf dies, his or her soul is doomed to join Hircine's eternal hunt. Some werewolves see this as a curse, and wish to be cured. Others see it as a blessing and offer it to those they deem worthy.
- The winner of Twisted Metal gets one wish from Calypso, when he grants it things aren't always what they'll expect.
- In The Binding of Isaac, Devil Rooms sometimes appear after boss fights. Inside these rooms, Isaac can trade hearts from his Life Meter for extremely powerful items and upgrades.
- There's a few of these in Odin Sphere. Ingway makes one with the queen of death herself for a power to get revenge on Odin in exchange for his soul. It seems something similar happened with the same power to Cornelius's grandpa when his home country was being invaded many years ago. Oswald is tricked into one by Melvin by not being told that using the demonically powered blade he uses will eventually deliver his soul to the queen of death when he dies. However, all three of these don't go as planned. Ingway doesn't actually die until the queen of death is dead and can't collect. Cornelius' grandpa got free during the end of the world and took the place of the queen of the dead. Oswald is ultimately saved from his fate by Gwendolyn when she goes down to the underworld to get him back and kills the queen of death herself. He's also rescued the first time by Odin but he ends up making a deal with him in exchange for Gwendolyn. This one is foiled by Gwendolyn herself when she decides not to give the ring to Odin because Oswald gave it to her as a sign of his feelings for her. Odin also failed to add in the deal of giving the ring up because he only asked for the death of a dragon that originally had it, which was carried out. The parties that would normally benefit all get screwed over. Except maybe the case of the Fire King who does get screwed over but would be consider the usual sucker in these types of deals.
- For the most part in Shin Megami Tensei, this actually isn't such a bad idea. Demons can be surprisingly helpful towards the player if you try to talk to them. They will ask for a price, of course, but it's a fair price. This ultimately doesn't help Sahori though. Using the power of a demon to murder her high school bullies sounds great at first, but choosing to side with a demon ultimately causes her to lose her humanity and more or less become a demon herself. Luckily, Tao is able to restore her humanity in the end, and Sahori allows the player to kill her to make sure Lahmu himself dies, which he himself does.
- Played straight in PK Comic when the giant fish sells his soul to resurrect Chester.
- In Devil Bear, the band members of Smooch (a parody of Kiss) are tricked into selling their souls in exchange for being rock stars for life. They have a What an Idiot! moment, however, and Die partying too hard after their first show.
- Subverted / inverted in a storyline of Fans!: The villain, who had sold his soul to Satan for power and the chance to become a hero to humanity, manipulated Rikk into traveling to an otherworldly realm and also selling his soul to protect his friends and thus get Rikk under his power. However, the villain's plan was flawed in that he had not considered that (a) each individual person encountered the realm—and the entity within that realm—in a different way depending on who they were, and that (b) Satan was not the only celestial being interested in doing deals for souls; Rikk, being a genuinely selfless person interested only in protecting his loved ones, actually sold his soul to The Big Guy Upstairs, thus enabling him to defeat the villain.
- See this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip
- According to Something Positive, Alan Moore gained his writing abilities from the Devil. The deal was Moore stopping beating the Devil up during school.
- Ray Smuckles of Achewood gains his musical talent (and, arguably, a heap of his subsequent successes) through one of these, but the consequences don't come about until over a year later.
- The To Hell and Back sequence there also references the Robert Johnson folk-tale. Also, Ray falls ass backwards into money like a pig into mud, it ain't even a thing.
- Used, abused, and put away wet on Sluggy Freelance.
- One of the earliest strips has Riff and Torg making a deal with the devil for beer and pocket change. Luckily, the devil is short on coins.
- Gwen, oh, Gwen, where do we even begin?
- Riff's deal with HeretiCorp fits.
- Spoofed during the Vampires arc when Torg suggests the vampires should stop sneaking around and just openly sell vampirism.
Lysinda: "Foolish Mortal... do you really think humanity would give up its immortal soul forever just to look good?"
- Most of Chapter 56 falls into this pretty perfectly...
- Clare's backstory in No Rest for The Wicked. She can tell the people feel guilty about their children because they look like her parents did after her father accidentally sold her to the devil — and never tried to give back the money.
- Bearskin also has this in his backstory.
- Xkcd was all over this as a way to make fun of End-User License Agreements. 
- In The Order of the Stick, Vaarsuvius tries to get one of these deals to get enough power to save his/her family. Subverted in that the powerful beings that show up to discuss the deal don't actually want V's soul's eternal damnation and act in a shocked way when V suggests that. "Oh no no no no! How would THAT be fair?" Instead, they want control of V's soul for a sharply limited time at a later point - and, not stated outright but presumed, while V's still alive. Which is arguably even worse, given the potential ramifications of having a high-level wizard directly controlled by paragons of Evil in a crucial moment. And to them, V's just a bonus. The real payoff is proving that the factions of evil can cooperate, so that they may storm the upper planes and end the war of Good vs. Evil once and for all.
- "I...I must succeed". These fiends ARE trying to get V's soul; a few comics later they point out that all the evil acts that V is racking up are by V's own choice, and they are making V more "evil-aligned", away from the original true neutral.
- Sinfest begins with this...
- And repeats it every so often. like this.
- Parodied in this strip of Sandra and Woo as Sandra accidentally sells her soul to the devil for a glass of lemonade.
- "...but now I don't have to! Thanks, whoever did that!" You think it'd be so easy...
- College Roomies from Hell has the devil as a main antagonist. There are two student satanists (Steve and Waldo); it is unclear what they "sold" to obtain it, but they gain certain magical powers (or perhaps hallucinations thereof) from the devil. Eventually, Mike makes a deal with the devil to protect his loved ones at the cost of being controlled by the devil for ten minutes at an unspecified later time. Much later, this leads directly to him cheating on his fiancee to allegedly conceive the antichrist, the disintegration of his entire circle of friends, and his fatal stabbing..
- While he's dead, it turns out he's apparently Michael the Archangel. Oh, great, Mike. Remembering that would have been good before you turned yourself over to the enemy.
- Remember does this, with Igon's bargain with Levistus. Unusually however, we later see Levistus explaining his reasons for accepting what at first looks like a bad deal for him.
- Demon Candy Parallel starts off with TWO of these for the same character. The first is when Johnathan accidently sells his soul to Noelle for a Klondike Bar, and the second is when he makes a deal to stay in Hell with Victoria for a year to get his soul back.
- Subverted in this comic of Little Worlds, where Derby insists to The Accountant that he is not making a "soul-bargain" when he demands the answers to life, the universe, and insomnia.
- Evil Diva Take your daughter to work and brag of how you get them to sign on.
- Noah of El Goonish Shive once considered doing this, but he was talked out of it while his plans were still in the research phase.
- A major plot point in Archipelago. People who make the deal have a raven spirit enter their bodies through their left eye, turning that eye black with a red pupil. He's normally very good about fulfilling his end of the deal.
- Justifed (from the demon's point of view) in Goblins. Demons feed by inflicting suffering on immortal souls, and if they can gain ownership of a soul, it can provide them with nourishment for the rest of eternity. But most of them aren't powerful enough to take souls by force; they need to persuade mortals into giving their souls up willingly.
- Dr Horribles Sing Along Blog: an interesting twist version of the Ordeal, where the Mephistopheles's offer to the Faustus is, effectively, to help rule "Hell" if he'll just kill one person... the Faustus accepts, believing he will be able to use this authority to reconstruct a better world, but by carrying out his assignment ends up abandoning his original motivations, ethics, and, indeed, everything he ever made the deal for in the first place... which was, presumably, the point of the ordeal to begin with. Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Faustus: The Musical!
- Inverted in Tasakeru. To save Hanami's life, Zero makes a deal with a God. That's not to say that it won't still have consequences...
- In the Whateley Universe, the mutant codenamed Gypsy gave her soul to The Kellith and accepted a demon mark in exchange for what Gypsy wanted most. Confidence. Since Carmilla has killed The Kellith, Gypsy is now bonded to Carmilla, and things are looking a lot better for her.
- In The Nostalgia Critic's review of Care Bears II, he made a deal with the Bennett The Sage who was pretending to be the devil. Instead his soul, Critic gave Bennett all of his money to forget all about Sequel Month. Bennett pointed out that he wasn't really the devil but still made the deal anyway when Critic said he'd give him everything.
- The Demon was Just Under Three Feet Tall.
- The cast of Sevenshot Kid are absolutely terrible with this.
- The entire premise of Lilium is essentially this.
- In Dark Dream Chronicle, going through Session gives you enhanced strength, stamina, endurance, brainpower, you name it, all at the low low price of giving your Soul to "the Master". Also, if you aren't Immune, you die horribly around the age of 27. Oh, and if you get picked to be an Enforcer, you get all of your emotions removed. Have fun~
- SCP-738 of the SCP Foundation. The price paid for a deal is something intended to cause emotional pain to the person making the deal, like the death of a best friend or losing all memories of one's mother.
- This news story from The Onion suggests that Beyonce made a deal with a witch for talent and fame in exchange for her first child. And as soon as Blue Ivy Carter was born...
- In Fate By Blades there is a devil-esque figure who makes deals with mortals, often with the condition that someone involved with said deal take a Horny Devil consort. The opening antagonist, Gilliam, does this but later breaks his end of the deal, causing his whole rebellion to fail, while Lucas makes a similar deal to acquire a demonic consort to tempt Kona over to his side. Lucas is more successful as Kona ends up joining him.
- A favorite tactic of the main antagonist of Gravity Falls, Bill Cipher, he does this with a variety of characters throughout the show: Gideon Gleeful, Dipper Pines, and other members of the Pines family (not mentioned for spoilers' sake), Blendin Blandin (though we never find out what the deal was) as well as other people throughout all of human history. Bill is a master of manipulation, loopholes, and leaving out the most key information, which he uses to make sure that he is taking more than what the other person bargained for (Dipper thought Bill wanted one of Mabel's sock puppets when he really meant to possess Dipper's body, Blendin was presumably tricked with wordplay in a similar fashion, other characters as well as people in general thought Bill to be a benevolent figure) Shaking hands with a demon (for lack of better term) whose hand happens to be covered in blue flames is not as legally binding as it looks. Any person who has not yet done their part of the deal has been shown to be able to break it off. Gideon refuses to help Bill with his unspecified project when Bill fails to retrieve the combination to the safe from Stan Pines's brain, and Bill, rather than giving Dipper any information about unlocking the mysterious laptop or even using a loophole so that he technically did give some unhelpful information, destroys it and goes off to look for Journal 3.
- The Real Ghostbusters episode, "Chicken, He Clucked." A man hates chickens so much that he wants to make a deal with a demon to get rid of them. Embarassed by such a silly request for a soul, the demon gives him the power to send anything away as a compromise. Soon, every chicken on Earth is sent to another dimension and (after annoying the man) the Ghostbusters. The demon agrees to help the Ghostbusters, though, because his colleagues found out about the deal and won't stop mocking him. The demon reveals a loophole that the Ghostbusters manage to exploit to cancel the deal.
- Happens by accident in "The Devil to Pay" to Ray and Winston, who competed in a questionable game show. After winning, they unknowingly sign a contract (with red ink pens) that they thought was an agreement to be contestants in the host's premiere game show, "Race the Devil" and for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip for four to Tahiti. Egon realizes too late that the two had actually signed away their souls to the demon host to compete in his game show, where they must play for their lives and souls. Managing to win, Peter threatens the host to give them the trip after winning or face severe physical pain, which the demon host had no choice but to grant.
- A literal example from the fourth season of Teen Titans, where Slade makes a deal with Trigon to help him make sure Raven fulfills the prophecy of the end of the world in exchange for Trigon giving him his life back.
- In Kim Possible, Monkey Fist makes a deal with a kung fu god called Yono in order to take Ron's baby sister. When he fails, Yono has him turned to stone.
- Spoofed on The Simpsons in "The Devil and Homer Simpson", where Homer sells his soul for a doughnut, but gets it back through The Power of Love; when he married Marge, he promised to be hers, body and soul, forever.
- Played straight in "Bart Sells His Soul", in which he sells his soul (a piece of paper with "Bart Simpson's Soul" written on it) to Milhouse for $5, so he can buy some growing dinosaur sponges. Over the course of the episode, however, he begins to have bad dreams, being indifferent towards things that used to amuse him, and notice that the world around him seems to not recognize him, so he tries to get his soul back. Unfortunately, Milhouse sold Bart's soul to Comic Book Guy for Pogs, and he then sold it to someone "very interested in that soul." After he's given up, Lisa surprises him by revealing that she bought it, and gives it to him. Bart then eats the paper.
- In an episode where Springfield's single people tried to change the law to make the town less family-friendly, Marge Simpson decided to lead a campaign to stop them. A tobacco company representative offered her a check. Once she took it, the representative took off his hat, revealing a pair of horns, assumed a more devil-like appearance in general and claimed she belonged to them. She pointed out she hadn't endorsed the check and the representative resumed his human look and claimed the horns were "football injury".
- Sent up in the Futurama season 4 finale "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings":
Bender: You may have to metaphorically make a deal with the devil. And by "devil", I mean the Robot Devil. And by "metaphorically" I mean get your coat.
- In addition, it establishes that Calculon made a deal with the Robot Devil to get his ACTING! TALENT!
- Also milked for laughs in "Hell is Other Robots", when the Robot Devil challenges Leela to the classic fiddle contest (which is apparently mandated by the "Fairness In Hell Act"). While he delivers a vicious performance (using two bows, no less), Leela lets off a few screeching notes, then bangs him over the head with the (golden) violin and escapes.
- And once more with Bender in "The Beast with a Billion Backs" - Bender wants a robot army to take over the world, and the Robot Devil will give it to him - in exchange for his firstborn son. We then cut to Bender picking up a child robot, taking it back to hell, and punting it into a smelter - the Robot Devil then says that that disgusted even him! Observe.
- The Robert Johnson story is parodied on Metalocalypse; the band meets with the "Blues Devil" for the purpose of selling their souls in exchange for mastery of the blues, but through their expertise in contract negotiation bargain him down to a $5 Hot Topic gift card AND part of the Devil's soul. It is unknown whether or not the devil took the deal.
- In the My Little Pony episode "Bright Lights," Erebus offered to make Knight Shade famous, in exchange for "a little cooperation" - letting Erebus and his underling Zeb steal the shadows of his audience.
- Darkwing Duck's banned episode shows why the Devil can't "take the soul and run"—Beelzebub, disguised as a janitor, tells a crude lie to Gosalyn that the Forbidden Book section of the school library was replaced with permitted books, which means she honestly believed she had permission to use it (although she really should have confirmed this claim with a librarian first) so the contract is invalid, and he loses his victim. Don't mistake this for a clever twist - it just makes the whole thing pretty pointless by taking away what's central to the trope. "Your soul is mine forever! Or at least until someone bothers to come fetch you back!"
- Spoofed on Family Guy when Peter says he'd sell his soul for the chance to take a tour of the Pawtucket Patriot Ale brewery. The Devil is eager for the opportunity, but then one of his assistants checks through Hell's computer archives and points out that Peter already sold his soul in the 1970s for Bee Gees tickets, and again in the 1980s for half a Malomar. An annoyed Devil wonders where he can get a lawyer, and half of Hell's population immediately volunteers for the job.
- In the Pinky and The Brain Halloween episode, the devil offers Brain the world in exchange for his soul. Brain refuses because he's angry about being called a failure, but later finds out that the gullible Pinky has been persuaded to sign in his place, in exchange for a "radish rose watchamahoozit." However, the devil is forced to release Pinky when it turns out that he doesn't even know what one is.
- Occurs twice in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 cartoon. In the first, colonist C.F. Volpehart makes a deal with an eldritch horror-ish entity in order to obtain riches; while the terms are never specified—souls are never mentioned—the fact that Volpehart eventually regrets the decision and longs to kill the beast is evidence that he clearly lost something in the bargain. The second occurs to the original Oroku Saki, who agrees to bond with a dying demon in exchange for Physical God status—a deal which, given everything, turned out quite well for Saki.
- An episode of Batman the Brave And The Bold has Batman travelling back in time to Victorian England in an attempt to stop Gentleman Jim Craddock from releasing an imprisoned demon in exchange for immortality. Craddock succeeds in his attempt before Batman and his allies manage to reseal the demon, but Craddock realizes he's been betrayed when he's hanged for attempted murder and comes back as an undead ghost that can never pass into the afterlife. Now calling himself the Gentleman Ghost, the enraged and probably insane Craddock blames Batman for his plight (despite Batman warning him about what would happen if he went through with his deal with the demon), and swears revenge on him. Hence why the Ghost has been the lead villain in no less than three episodes so far, while Hawkman (his Arch Enemy who was originally involved with his origin in the comics) has yet to appear.
- In all fairness, Astaroth did not lie to nor betray Craddock like Batman expected (from a certain point of view): when Craddock forced him to fulfill the deal, the demon said that "his soul will never leave this world". Let's just say that Astaroth's idea of imortality didn't fit Craddock's. Still, Batman was right about making deals with demons.
- Speaking of Batman, there is a deal with the devil in Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Favor". Charles Michael Collins makes a deal with the Joker to do whatever he wants in order to save his own life. While the Joker is not exactly the devil or a supernatural equivalent, anyone would have to agree that he is at least the devil incarnate.
- Class of 3000 had one in the form of Lil D signing a record contract to an obviously devil looking producer (the guys even had henchmen who look liked snakes and almost refers to himself as the Devil) named Big D. However, all of Lil D gigs were just being used to sell hams, but the contract actually did state Lil D sold his soul, and Big D had a Villain Song called All We Want Is Your Soul. Lil D challenges Big D to a series of contests (which are suggested by Lil D's friends) which Big D manages win every single time, using his supernatural powers. Sunny (the producer's real target) who turned him down frequently, signs with Big D to bail Lil D out. However, he manages to get out of it by purposely performing badly, tricking Big D into rip up the contract. Bonus points for rubbing it in his face afterwards.
- The third season of The Secret Saturdays had Zak make a deal with V.V. Argost, in order to learn how to control his newfound powers. Argost blatantly says his dark, ulterior motives in front of Zak. Just as a little warning. So when their use for each has ran out, they will find themselves in a battle of wits to survive.
- There was an episode of Rocko's Modern Life that was a parody of The Shining. It featured Heffer as a security guard who at one point says he'd sell his soul for a soda. He then goes into a haunted bar and gets a soda, afterward getting a paper that says, "1 Soda, 1 Soul".
- In Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic, love interest Beatrice strikes a deal with Lucifer to see to it that Dante returns safely from his military service during the Crusades. Lucifer bets that Dante will betray her, and he's right—while on duty, Dante accepts a prisoner's offer to have sex with her in exchange for calling off the guards that were mercilessly beating one of her fellow inmates, unknowingly costing Beatrice the bet and, by proxy, her soul.
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- In "Money Talks", Mr. Krabs gives his soul to the Flying Dutchman in exchange for being able to talk to money (it's worth noting that the Flying Dutchman himself was surprised that Mr. Krabs would sell his soul for something so ridiculous, but then again...). When the wish backfires and the Dutchman reverts it, he tells Mr. Krabs that he now owes him his soul... only for Mr. Krabs to point out that he already sold his soul several times to many other Eldritch Abominations (and Spongebob!), who tell the Dutchman to get in line.
- In "Born Again Krabs", Mr. Krabs actually trades Spongebob's soul for 62 cents, trapping Spongebob in Davy Jones' locker until the Dutchman becomes so sick of him he willingly gives Spongebob back. This episode was a notable Crowning Moment of Awesome for Squidward, who proceeded to call Mr. Krabs out on his selfishness—notable because, under more normal circumstances, Squidward would probably have had a hard time caring about the situation.
- Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation has a girl named Christy making one of these with a demon named Dark Heart (disguised as a boy), pledging to help him capture the Care Bears in exchange for his granting her athletic prowess.
- Transformers: The Movie: Megatron's bargain with Unicron, resulting in Megs' upgrade to Galvatron. Since it's very much still Megatron in there, Galvy's loyalty must be enforced by Mind Rape. Galvatron does a Faustian Rebellion of sorts, attempting to make Unicron his slave after stealing the Matrix of Leadership. It doesn't turn out how he expected.
- In The Smurfs episode "Harmony Steals The Show", Harmony signs a contract that allows him to use Ghostwriter's original symphony as his own in exchange for being his eternal performer at his spectral nightclub. Papa Smurf and the other Smurfs help Harmony break the contract by revealing before the judge and jury that Ghostwriter's "original symphony" was actually musical pieces stolen from other musicians.
- Captain America in Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes makes a deal with Hela, the Norse goddess of death, to send him to the land of the living so he could save his friends. But once he dies, she will get his soul.
- In Ugly Americans Twayne Boneraper makes a deal with a politician that he'll become mayor in exchange for his soul. Unfortunately said politician is utterly unelectable and boasts openly about having made a deal with the devil. He ends up dying accidentally, putting Twayne up before the demonic court for being a failure as a demon, as the only soul he's managed to ensnare recently is that of a large, ill-tempered cat.
- Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy: In the episode Out With The Old, In With The Ed, the Eds return to school and learn that they're in different classes. They are forced to deal with the Kanker Sisters to get into the same room together for a hefty price - they must publically reveal their 'relationships' with the Kankers to all the kids at school. They finally arrive at their new classroom to find it's a girl's bathroom - where the Kankers arrive and rape them.
- In the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien episode "The Enemy of my Frenemy", Charmcaster offers the lifeforce of every inhabitant of her dimension (600,000 people, including the heroes) to Diagon in exchange for her dead father's resurrection. However, her father refuses his resurrection, saying he never wanted this, that Charmcaster is being a worse tyrant than the one who killed him if she goes through with this, and that though he loves her, he can't stay with Charmcaster, and Diagon, as per the laws of magic, returns the lifeforce of Charmcaster's victims. Charmcaster suffers a Villainous BSOD afterward, followed by a progressive turn through the Heel Face Revolving Door.
- In ThunderCats (2011) General Grune, a frustrated wannabe usurper of his kingdom of Thundera, frees powerful Sealed Evil in a Can, Sorcerous Overlord and Big Bad Mumm-Ra in exchange for the promise of power, agreeing to engineer Thundera's sacking and serve as The Dragon until Mumm-Ra gets ahold of an Amulet of Concentrated Awesome. However, the always ambitious Grune is quick to recognize potential opportunities to betray his master, and entrap or leave him for dead.
- In "Native Son", Tygra's backstory shows the consequences of denying the Devil what it wants. The Tiger Clan was suffering from a plague and their leader Javan petitioned the Ancient Spirits of Evil for help. The Spirits demanded that Javan sacrifice his newborn son Tygra, and Javan agreed. At the moment of truth, Javan betrayed the deal and sent Tygra away on a hot air balloon to Thundera. As punishment, the Spirits sent the plague back to the village, killing everyone, then trapped them in a suspended state between life and death along with involuntary transformations into horrible mindless monsters every night.
- The first page quote spoofs the fact that end-user licence agreements do make you click "I Agree" to a lot of legal Techno Babble that most people don't bother reading and most who try don't understand. Subverted in that, for this exact reason, there's doubt over whether they're actually legally binding.
- Bill Hicks had a notorious comedy routine in which he accused bands that endorsed anti-drug messages of doing this. Sort of. "SUCK SATAN'S COCK!"
- While reliable evidence that Satan has ever actually bought anyone's soul is not available, some Theistic Satanists may claim to have sold their souls to him, or to have given themselves over to him.
- There have been a few attempts of people selling their souls on eBay. Known examples include electronic musician Moby, who put his up as a Take That to critics who felt he "sold out".
- So did the atheist activist Hemant Mehta, who later wrote a book I Sold My Soul on eBay.
- eBay has, perhaps unsurprisingly, banned this practice, prohibiting the sale of items whose existence cannot be verified and deleting such listings as soon as they're discovered.
"If the soul does not exist, eBay could not allow the auctioning of the soul because there would be nothing to sell. However, if the soul does exist then, in accordance with eBay's policy on human parts and remains, we would not allow the auctioning of human souls."
- Somebody got around the ban by instead selling an autographed card of himself - the card being, naturally, a deed to the seller's soul.
- In Latvia, a country hard hit by the 2007-9 economic crisis, the Kontora loan office is lending people money at high interest rates if they agree to use their souls as collateral. So far, about 200 people have taken Viktor Mirosiichenko up on his offer. They don't employ any debt collectors either...
Mirosiichenko: "If they don't give [the money] back, what can you do? They won't have a soul, that's all."
- British game retailer GameStation decided to make a point about online Terms & Conditions and how nobody ever reads them, by inserting a clause that the user gives up his soul to them. They later e-mailed all those who had agreed to the terms assuring them that they would be immediately nullifying any claim they had on their customers' souls. This happened on April Fools' Day, incidentally.
- Loan sharks. For a common example, taking a loan out from the mafia or comparable organization of legitimate businessmen. You can get a huge loan, no questions asked, or even access to something else you need... but you'll be paying back a LOT more than you otherwise would, sometimes with your life, organs, or forced service.
- A similar practice is done by espionage agencies. They will tempt the mark into a "small" treason(such as releaseing records on the number of pens needed to write embassy reports) that would not in itself hurt the country betrayed. Once that is done the handler will use that treason as a blackmail device. Another similar means is the infamous Honey Trap. If you ever are a marine guard at an embassy and see a dazzlingly beautiful woman leaping on you for no apparent reason, take a chill. It is probably not because you are irresitably handsome.
- Regrettably, there were no forced stripteases involved.