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WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

Mortal, do you not know who I am? Let me tell you. I am Tzeentch. The Changer of Ways. The Master of Fate. The Lord of Change. The Controller of Destinies. I have existed before the stars, and I will exist long after they have died! No mere mortal could possibly--what is that pawn doing there?!

Even devils should beware when bargaining with Thanos of Titan.

So, you've got this Chessmaster, Magnificent Bastard or what have you. People are his playthings in any scheme he concocts. But now it seems that he's up against a deity or other supernatural entity... whats this? Did this mere mortal just turn the god into another chess piece to manipulate?

That is the essence of Did You Just Scam Cthulhu? - a Xanatos Gambit, Gambit Roulette, Batman Gambit or other scheme concocted by the resident Magnificent Bastard ends up involving the manipulation of a supernatural entity, deity, etc. by a mortal. Such a plan may include the deity from the outset, or the deity may be integrated into the plan along the way.

This trope may intersect with Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?, especially if said Eldritch Abomination ends up coming off worse for wear as a result of the plot.

See Evil Is Not a Toy when someone attempts to invoke either this trope or make a Deal with the Devil, but fails.

Examples of Did You Just Scam Cthulhu? include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Death Note, Light, world champion of the Gambit Roulette, manages to manipulate Rem, a Shinigami, into sacrificing her life by killing L and Watari in order to save Misa, and she dies cursing him as she crumbles to dust. Magnificent Bastard, indeed- although Ryuk is not so easily manipulated.
  • In the Haruhi Suzumiya novels, Kyon forces the near-godlike Data Overmind to back down by threatening to provoke the even more godlike Haruhi into recreating the universe with him, to a place where the Overmind would not exist. Essentially, Did You Just Blackmail Cthulhu?
  • Lelouch of Code Geass manages to use his Geass on what can reasonably be described as God, taking control of it and forcing it to delete his parents from existence. To be fair, he did ask nicely. Although the scene could be read as the entity doing this willingly, it spawned the Memetic Mutation LELOUCH GEASSES GOD.
  • Izaya Orihara of Durarara fame, who screws with everyone every chance he gets. Celty and Saika included.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion executes this beautifully. The Angels are coming to merge with Adam and wipe out humanity. However, SEELE cloned Adam to make the Evas and kill off the Angels so that they can merge with Adam themselves, elevating humanity into a God. The "Adam" that the Angels search for isn't even actually Adam, and one of them realizes Adam is actually Lilith. At the same time, Gendo has the real Adam in his hands (literally), and is scheming to kill off the Angels then screw over SEELE by having Rei merge with both Adam and Lilith so that he can get his wife back. And the Angels are none-the-wiser...
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka uses her single wish from Kyubey to erase all witches, throughout time, before they can come into existence. Nice job, Kyubey. Next time, make sure you don't- Oh, wait, there's no next time.
  • In Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, with some help, Pope Sage managed to seal Thanatos into the Holy Coffer.

  Pope Sage, "I wouldn't be the Pope if I wasn't able to predict the next moves of the gods."


Comic Books

  • In Preacher (Comic Book), Cassidy pulls off a clever scam which results in him getting cured of his vampirism and God getting killed. Yes, that means the Christian God, who is essentially the Big Bad of the series.
  • John Constantine from Hellblazer is a master of this trope. In what's possibly his Crowning Moment of Awesome, he sells his soul to two of the most powerful demons in Hell at once, which would force them into a war with each other, leaving them no choice but to cure his terminal lung cancer and keep him alive. And then he flips them off. The logic being that if he dies someone has to claim him, and since both of the Fallen has a claim to his soul, just giving it up to the other would be a sign of weakness. And if they actually went to war with each other over it, Heaven would take advantage of the chaos and invade. Mind you, this whole thing backfires when the First of the Fallen just decides to kill his fellow rulers and come after Constantine himself...
    • Then there's the reason the First of the Fallen did this: John had found out that his dying friend Brendan had sold his soul to the First of the Fallen. Five minutes before Brendan's soul ended up in the First's clutches, John suggested they share a toast; Brendan's had this magical working going that turns an underground spring into pure stout. John and the First shared a drink, then John revealed the spring was blessed by a saint, so technically, the base of what the First just drank was holy water. And then the spell expired, and the First had a glassful of holy water in his gut, disrupting his body long enough for Brendan to slip away to Heaven.
  • 2000 AD: Cassandra Anderson manages to make Satan blow himself up by forcing himself into a Douglas Adams-style self-contradiction.
  • The Magus' Batman Gambit in The Infinity War miniseries involved the manipulation of some of the Marvel Universe's most powerful cosmic beings, from Galactus up to Eternity and even the Living Tribunal.
    • And he himself was outmaneuvered by Adam Warlock and Thanos of Titan.
  • Speaking of Thanos, he also at one point literally scammed Mephisto. "You wanted a cosmic cube but didn't specify it had to be functioning..."
  • Wolverine, of all people, arguably outdoes them both in a What If issue, "Newer Fantastic Four". Thanos is in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet, with Mephisto as his advisor, and Wolverine outwits them both by manipulating Thanos' love of Death against him.
  • In Watchmen, Veidt's master plan involves the manipulation of pretty much the entire rest of the cast, up to and including Dr. Manhattan, an energy being of unimaginable power who can normally see the future as clearly as he can see the present. This is justified, as Veidt used tachyons to block Manhattan's sight.
  • Black Panther, being the Chessmaster he is, pulled this off with Mephisto. The Black Panther pledged his soul to 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.
  • In DC Comics' Underworld Unleashed, the Trickster, in a Heel Face Turn, managed to scam the Devil.
  • In Fables, Jack Horner played poker with the Devil during the Civil War. He cheated and won, keeping his soul and winning the Devil's Bag of Holding.
  • In Emperor Joker, Mr. Mxyzptlk decides to give The Joker 1% of his power to see what he would do with it, but Joker tricks him into giving 99.99%.
    • Which makes it fitting when Superman defeats him by turning Batman into a Mind Virus (the Joker's obsession with Batman keeps bringing him back and his fear when Superman points out he can't control it makes Batman ever larger and more ominous until the Joker is overwhelmed.)
  • Galvatron in the Marvel Transformers comic pulled one on Primus, making him believe Autobot and Decepticon alike had finally put their differences aside for the greater good, all so Galvatron could take revenge on Unicron.

 "HAH! For all their supposed omnipotence... Even gods can be conned!"

    • This was somewhat easier than it sounds, as Primus had become so senile that he didn't even notice Unicron's approach until Unicron was right in front of him, and even then it took Ironhide to actually point it out.
  • In Triumph and Torment, Doctor Doom manages to trick Mephisto into doing what he wants.
  • Hawkeye manages to beat the Grandmaster, one of the Elders of the Universe, (who was at the time pitting the Avengers (or Captain America and Hawkeye, the only two still alive) in an endless series of games to the death) by convincing the Grandmaster to engage in a game of chance to make it more interesting. Hawkeye, of course, wins. He did, after all, cheat.
  • Loki has done this several times.
  • In Queen Sonja #20, Evil Sorcerer Thulsa Doom tricks an Elder God into giving him enough of its power that he is able to kill it.


  • Davy Jones gets this in Pirates of the Caribbean, although who it is that actually scammed him is up for debate. It took the combined conflicting efforts of possibly the three smartest/wittiest/cleverest Brits in the Caribbean to steal his heart, though James Norrington walks away with the heart and documents at the end of the film
  • The way the heroine from the first Wishmaster movie gets the best of the evil Jackass Genie. He can't grant a wish that directly affects him, so she can't just wish that he stuffs himself back in his lamp. She's down to her third and final wish, and after she makes that wish he'll be free to run amok and destroy the world, and he's forcing her to take action by murdering and torturing people around the heroine. So, with some clever thinking, she comes up with a wish that will work: she wishes that a specific crane operator hadn't been drunk on the job a few days ago. That crane operator had dropped and destroyed the statue that the genie had been trapped inside of, so the wish undoes everything the genie had done and winds up with him imprisoned again.
  • Aladdin manages to trick his newfound genie servant into freeing him from a sealed cavern without making a wish by prodding the genie's ego, and gets away with it. (Although embarrassed at getting conned genie was a good sport about it) Later on, when Aladdin is drowning and couldn't reasonably wish for rescue, the genie just takes it for granted that he would wish for it and does so, still counting it as a wish (he takes Aladdin "nodding" as a yes, though this was just Aladdin's head was dropping from lack of oxygen). And at the end of the movie, Aladdin tricks Jafar into turning himself into a genie, only to remind him that genies are bound to servitude in lamps.
  • In the film version of Coraline, the eponymous character does this to the Beldam, the demonic master of a pocket universe who needs to consume the souls of children to live. Frustrated with a boring life and uncaring parents, Coraline is enticed into the Beldam's world which appears as an ideal version of her own home and family. The kicker comes when she is prevented from leaving and imprisoned when she refuses to give up her soul (by having buttons sewed onto her eyes, like all creatures in the Beldam's world) and her real parents are captured and held hostage by the Beldam to force Coraline to give in. Coraline makes a deal with the Beldam to play a game by betting she can find the souls of three previous children taken by the Beldam along with her parents. Knowing the Beldam won't concede if Coraline wins, she pretends to lose before stealing the key back to her own world and escaping with her parents to safety.
    • That happens in the book as well, although the movie makes Coraline's plight more desperate. In the book, the Other Parents allow willingly allow her to go home, but kidnap her parents and then try to trick her into thinking that they just abandoned her. In the movie, they don't magically return her home after she refuses (which she was expecting) and she has to escape home herself, only to find her parents being held hostage and forcing her to return to the Other World.
  • In Constantine, the film version of Hellblazer, the titular character manages to defeat the film's Big Bad by attempting suicide, knowing that Satan will personally come to collect his soul since suicide is considered a sin. He then bargains with Satan by telling him about the Big Bad's plot to overthrow him, in return for letting a wrongfully damned soul go to Heaven. Satan then realizes too late that Constantine had just performed a self sacrifice, which would allow him to go to Heaven as well. Satan instead resurrects Constantine and cures him of his lung cancer in hopes that he will sin again.
  • In Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, the boys first attempt to escape death by giving the Grim Reaper a wedgie and running. When they get cast into Hell, they win their souls back and continue on their quest to stop the Big Bad by challenging the Reaper to games like Battleship and electronic football (which he doesn't play, unlike chess) that they're experts at.
  • In The Avengers, Black Widow pretends that Loki's taunting is affecting her more than it actually is (she even pretends to cry). In his arrogance, he makes a comment that allows her to figure out his scheme, and she thanks him. The look on the God of Lies' face when he realizes he's been tricked is priceless.


  • "The Devil and Daniel Webster".
  • In the Backstory of David Eddings' The Belgariad, the prophet Gorim managed to shanghai UL, the Father of all the Gods. Initially, UL was not a part of creation, and abstained while his sons (also Gods) created the world. After all of the Gods had chosen a race of humans that pleased them as their chosen people, there were some humans left over, the Godless Ones, who languished without a God. One among them, Gorim, managed to find UL and shame him into becoming their God (and also the God of all monsters, those creatures who were imperfect because UL did not participate in their creation). Fairly impressive, overall.
    • And he did it basically by sitting there and waiting. For several hundred years. The mention of it came at the time when Belgarath and his Master (One of those gods behind the creation scheme) were unable to find UL and his people. Belgarath wonders if he perhaps abandoned them again since the new Gorim was particularly irritating.
  • Janus from the book Maledicte pulls this off against the goddess possessing his transgender boyfriend, trapping said goddess inside him with a recursive paradox that made Mal incapable of ever trying to kill him.
  • In the Uplift series, every scam Earth clan tries to pull on the ancient, Sufficiently Advanced Aliens backfires, until the very end of the series when they manage a doozy... accidentally, with a lie so ridiculous they never expected it to do more than buy them a few seconds.
    • Even more impressively, what actually clinched the deal wasn't a deception at all, but the enemy misinterpreting a genuine offer of surrender.
  • In Lord of the Rings: Sauron the chess GRANDmaster of Middle Earth was outwitted by the Xanatos Gambit directing him away from Frodo. It helped that Evil Cannot Comprehend Good.
  • Happens to an extent in The Silmarillion- specifically, the story of the Downfall of Numenor, where Sauron essentially manipulates Eru Iluvatar into destroying the Numenorean empire for him. Also subverted in that Sauron only intended for the Valar to get involved, and the amount of power Iluvatar was packing was enough to kill Sauron as well. Of course as anyone who's read The Lord of the Rings could tell you, Sauron came Back From the Dead, and at any rate it's impressive to set up a situation where God wipes out your enemies for you in a 'verse where God is both competent and good.
  • In the second book of the Xanth series, Bink wonders if his magical talent of bizarre luck preventing him from ever being hurt by magic actually manipulated events so that the Source of All Magic the demon Xanth decided to play nice in the end and not destroy everything.
  • In one Discworld novel, Cohen the Barbarian has to roll a 7 with one six-sided die. Naturally, being a Hero, he takes the most awesome method and cuts the die in two while it is spinning in the air, rolling a 7 and cheating Fate at the same time.
    • Notably, he drew inspiration from an in-universe version of the Gordian knot story, which at the time his companions declared to be cheating (Cohen himself was a little more introspective about it). He must have reckoned there's no reason to play fair with gods, who aren't known for their tendency to do so.
  • Another Discworld example, Granny Weatherwax once cheated Death at a card game. Then threatened him. Though he let her win, because he's just that kind of guy, and because Granny Weatherwax is no one to be trifled with.
  • In one short story by Brian Jacques (yes, That one), a kid traded his soul so he could lie better, and ended up convincing the devil he's illiterate, voiding their soul contract, and got an angel to agree to come over to his house for cake - the latter implying he wasn't using his supernaturally-enhanced lying skills.
  • In the Larry Niven short story "Convergent Series", a man deals with a demon he's semi-accidentally summoned by asking him to freeze time for a bit, then redrawing the summoning pentagram on the demon's stomach.
  • Another short story, "That Hellbound Train", features a protagonist who just barely manages to outwit Satan after trading his soul for a watch that can stop time. He goes through his entire life, never finding the perfect moment, and as he's dying the Devil tells him that he's given the same watch away dozens of times. As he rides the titular train, he realizes that a) everyone is partying like it's their last chance, because it is and b) Satan hasn't taken the watch yet!
  • The Devil and Simon Flagg: A mathematician makes a bet that the devil can't answer one question. The devil tells him that paradox and Logic Bomb questions are forbidden, so the mathematician gives him a question that must have a yes or no answer: he asks him to either prove or disprove Fermat's Last Theorem.
    • Fermat's Last Theorem was proven in 1995.
    • On the other hand, because viewers generally aren't geniuses they tend to have Small Reference Pools. Whilst Fermat's Theorem is quite famous, many other complex mathematical questions are not. Some are sufficiently esoteric that even establishing whether they have a definite answer let alone working out what the answer would be might be impossible. Asking the Devil to prove or disprove P=NP might be a good start, but there are still things like the Millenium Prize problems which may be more than fiendishly difficult.
  • In His Dark Materials, Mrs Coulter successfully lies to Metatron of all creatures, who is explicitly stated to be able to read her heart and/or mind, by manipulating his desire to be corporeal.
  • The men of the city of Gibil do this to the gods all throughout the story of Between The Rivers by Harry Turtledove. The Crowning Moment of Awesome came when Sharur performed a Fake Defector gambit to fool the enemy god Enimhursag, so that Enimhursag believed that Sharur was betraying his home city, Gibil, against their hated enemies, the city of Imhursag. And Sharur successfully deceived the god even though he had to invite Enimhursag read Sharur's mind to see if he was lying.
  • Belisarius Series had several medieval Europeans able to outwit Link; a superrobot from millions of years in the future. Most notably Belisarius but also Damadora and Narses. Narses actually managed to deceive Link looking right in her face.
  • American Gods has Cthulhu scamming other Cthulhus - all the gods are being manipulated by Mr. Wednesday (Odin) and Mr. World (Loki).

Live Action TV

  • Happened in Star Trek multiple times, with godlike beings practically being a franchise staple.
  • The Seventh Doctor vs. the Gods of Ragnarok in the Doctor Who serial The Greatest Show in the Galaxy. Assuming you don't count the Doctor in the Cthulhu category.
  • In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Autolycus, King of Thieves, once managed to steal Hermes's winged sandals right off of his feet.
  • Both Londo and Sheridan manage to do this to the Shadows in season four of Babylon 5.
  • Angel manages to manipulate the Circle of the Black Thorn for most of Season Five.
  • Stephen Colbert has a segment called "Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA." The graphic shows Stephen in a lab coat playing chess with Death. He cheats.
  • A magnificent example: "I of Newton" from the 1980s revival of The Twilight Zone. A professor (Sherman Helmsley) trying to solve a mathematical problem accidentally summons the Devil (Ron Glass). The professor is allowed to ask three questions regarding his powers, and then a final question (or task) in exchange for his soul; if the Devil can't do it, the deal is forfeit and he keeps his soul. Since it turns out the Devil has no physical limitations to his powers and can return from any place he's sent, the task "Get lost!" is impossible...
  • In Supernatural, Lucifer manages to trap Death into his servitude. Death, who is very annoyed that he's being leashed by a petulant child with daddy issues (...yes, that is how Death perceives the Devil), proves that it's not a good idea to piss off an eternal and infinite force of nature by actually helping them imprison him again.
    • The Winchesters attempt it themselves in season 7's first episode in a last-ditch effort to stop the newly godlike Castiel. Death warns them that it won't end well for them, but he doesn't follow through on his threat after Castiel unbinds his restraints because the "mutated angel" is a bigger concern for him.


  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band
    • Though in that case, the Devil was beat fair and square. Johnny is just that good. The golden fiddle was exactly the agreed stake, no tricks.



  • That Mitchell and Webb Sound has a skit in which the Devil shows up to claim a man's soul, and he complains that his life of wealth and success had felt rather hollow. Satan gloats that this is what makes it all the more satisfying, until the man reminds Satan that before signing the contract he had asked if he could keep it for a few days, and tells him that he had his lawyer add a clause that prevented the Devil claiming his soul in just such an eventuality which Satan had skimmed over, and furthermore criticizes Satan for running an antiquated operation that clearly hadn't adapted well to widespread literacy.

Tabletop Games

  • In the Dungeons and Dragons optional sourcebook Tome of Magic, one of the vestiges (beings that exist outside of reality) was originally a prolific thief (possibly a kleptomaniac) who, upon his deathbed, renounced all of the theft he had done in life, thus effectively stealing his very soul out of the hands of Olidammara, deity of thieves as a way of proving himself the most worthy of the deity's devotion. Olidammara was pissed at first, but then realised the sheer audacity of his actions and was about to accept him with open arms (and minimal chance of pickpocketing) when the deity realised that accepting his soul in the afterlife would prevent his incredible theft. Since Olidammara didn't want the soul to go to anyone else, the thief's soul ended up outside of all known forms of reality; existing in no plane or identifiable location beyond 'nowhere'.
  • A Dungeons and Dragons character class, the Malconvoker, specializes in summoning evil extraplanar creatures and tricking them into serving good causes. High-level Malconvokers acquire demon lords as their patrons who provide them with great power under the false impression that they're using that power to spread misery and destruction. In reality they're using it to slay monsters and bring down corrupt rulers, making the world a better place on the sly. Needless to say, a successful Malconvoker puts every skill point they can into Bluff...
  • In Legend of the Five Rings, the big bad evil god, Fu Leng, fell to this at the hands of Naseru, who eventually became the Emperor. When Naseru and his siblings led a Big Damn Heroes moment in an attack on Fu Leng's stronghold in the Shadowlands to prevent him from taking over the heavens, while his uber-powered brothers and sister were slaying abominations left and right, Naseru, being a courtier, walked up to Daigotsu, leader of Fu Leng's forces in the material world, and began talking to him. The resulting conversation allowed Naseru to trick Fu Leng into temporarily withdrawing his dependence on Daigotsu, which gave the other gods and dead heroes enough time to take him down and send him back to hell.
  • Eclipse Caste Solars in Exalted have a name for this trope: Tuesday.
    • Marsday, actually.
    • And Fiend Caste Infernals get one additional trick on top of this: they can renege on any promises they make to Eclipses or Moonshadows (the Abyssal mirror of the Eclipses) without suffering any penalties. Yes, that means they can scam the people that scam Cthulhu on a regular basis.
  • The Title Image can be attributed to a plausibly exploitable rule in Warhammer 40000 that may be interpreted so that a certain Ursarkar E. Creed can hide heavy equipment in ridiculously implausible locations due to his Tactical Genius, like building-sized Baneblade tanks behind a lamppost. Thus, culminating in fanfiction and an accompanying picture of him outplaying Tzeentch - Chaos God of Hope, who has also played Gambit Roulette for his entire existance - at chess in a deal that stops Tzeentch from ever interfering with humanity ever again. CREEEED!
  • Changeling: The Lost features an Entitlement known as the Legates of the Black Apple. When The Fair Folk come barging into the freehold, it's the job of the Legates to try and figure out what they want and how to get them to go away. Mind you, this doesn't necessary involve giving them exactly what they want, and negotiations can involve intimidation just as well as diplomacy. Mind you, being a member of the Entitlement is quite risky—you don't want to know what the Gentry did to the guy who preferred to use intimidation tactics once they found out his frailty.

Video Games

  • Probably the most clever of them all, Lillet Blan from Grim Grimoire tricks a very powerful demon into leaving the human it's possessing by asking for a wish from it at the cost of her soul, and then wishes for the demon to DEVOTE ITSELF TO GOD. Needless to say, the demon refuses... which sends it back to Hell.
    • In fact, her plot is so impressive that the local would-be Magnificent Bastard Devil Advocat actually backs her on the deal.
      • And to top it all off, that demon was summoned in order to get rid of what was the Big Bad until then. Lillet successfully wishsploded two being way out of even her league.
  • While not supernatural beings per se, the Scrin from Command and Conquer are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens with psychic powers and access to exotic, Tiberium-powered technologies. They are led to believe by Kane that the civilisation on Earth has collapsed and that Earth is ripe for Tiberium mining. Not so much. By the time the Scrin realise they've been suckered to landing on Earth, they are already having their asses handed to them by Nod and GDI alike (and the two won't even stop fighting each other to fight the Scrin).
    • Except, it's pretty clear that the Scrin are not the Cthulhu here. It's Kane. Even the Scrin have no idea what he is. And the fact that he hasn't aged since the 40s...
  • The plot of Marvel Ultimate Alliance is essentially Dr. Doom making a Chain of Deals that winds up suckering or screwing over most of the other villains in the universe, including gods like Loki, Mephisto, and Odin.
  • This is the goal of The Emperor in Dissidia Final Fantasy, who plans on living forever and manipulating the gods themselves to become something more than them.
  • In Ever 17, the whole point of You'haru and Kaburaki's gambit is to trick a 4D being called Blick Winkel into believing that the events of 2017 and 2034 are one and the same. The clincher? It was Blick Winkel himself who set up the whole gambit to do that.
  • In the Dragon Age series, the player can make deals with demons and then back out of them once the demon's brought up their end, often with no consequences worse than having to fight them (which is usually what refusing to deal leads to anyway). In one particularly noteworthy case, you can even trick a demon into teaching you powerful Blood Magic... And then use said Blood Magic to kill the demon.
    • Another notable case occurs in Act 1 of Dragon Age 2, when Hawke can convince an ancient demon to lead you to both the exit back to the Deep Roads, in exchange for defeating an ancient rock wraith. It turns out, the wraith was sitting on a sizable treasure hoard, enough to restore family fortunes twice over. Varric's preferred response? Renege on your deal, kill the demon, and walk away, filthy rich.

Web Comics

  • Order of the Stick: This is Redcloak's ultimate goal, to harness the power of The Snarl and hold the world hostage so he can negotiate with the pantheon of gods to get a better deal for the race of Goblins in-universe, rather than just serving as sources of XP for adventurers.
  • 8-Bit Theater: Thief outsmarting Trickster God Raven.
  • Chicanery begins with Pokey having just embezzled Giygas' $44,000,000 retirement fund.
  • Ayanah in Pawn is implied to be doing this to Baalah, with unfortunate implications.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Aylee comes up with a plan (and Zoë complements it) to trick some nigh-omnipotent Jackass Genies into granting what seems like a worthless wish (making it rain the blood of the innocent), without them realizing that "the blood of the innocent" is exactly what Torg's Cool Sword needs to become a magical weapon that can kill just about anything, including, that's right, nigh-omnipotent Jackass Genies.
    • In a parody of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Torg outsmarts the pseudo-Literal Genie that's been interpreting people's wishes as "Turn in me into chocolate" (including someone who had merely screamed in terror rather than actually wishing) by wishing that he'd "Turn Torg Potter into chocolate." This results in the kid Torg was a body double for being turned to chocolate, allowing him to safely wish everyone back to normal. (Fortunately, the genie doesn't mess around with the remaining wishes)
  • In Xkcd, Mephistopheles encounters the E.U.L.A.
  • In Homestuck, Terezi pulls this on the supernatural Doc Scratch in order to bait him into enacting her revenge on Vriska. Yes, Terezi managed to manipulate an omniscient being. She is simply the best there is.
    • It's debatable if she really manipulated him, beyond revealing information enabling him to act against a common enemy.
    • Not to mention that the information Terezi gave to scratch was how Vriska had been playing him in the first place.
  • Dominic Deegan had to face The Beast in the Borders of Destruction and he managed to get a Destroyer to take care of The Beast.
    • Later, he runs into the Beast again, and scares it away by pretending to possess the Destroyer's powers.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Gargoyles: Xanatos (of course) did this to Puck, when he chose Owen Burnett instead of a wish, forcing Puck to play human for the rest of Xanatos' life.[1]
    • Arguably a bit of a Pet the Dog moment as well. Xanatos could have had any wish he wanted, but passed up a ticket to wealth or power to keep his faithful servant. This, incidentally, was done on purpose by Puck, who was curious about Xanatos's human nature and whether or not he would value companionship over power.
    • Xanatos' plan with Thailog goes horribly right when Thailog successfully scams him in a complex "Machiavellian" scheme that Sevarius was sure was Xanatos' idea!
  • The defeat of the Robot Devil in Futurama should be considered partly this, and partly Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?.
  • In Metalocalypse, the boys encounter the Devil (well, the Blues Devil) and sell their souls to him for Blues talent. Except they negotiate it all the way down to little more than a $5 Hot Topic giftcard.
    • Oddly, he appears to very reasonably refuse the contract at the time. It's only at the end of the episode that it's revealed that he agreed to these terms—presumably, he was just that impressed with someone actually managing to put one over on him.
  • Eric Cartman does this LITERALLY in the South Park episodes Mysterion Rises and Coon vs. Coon and Friends as he actually scams Cthulhu into doing his bidding by acting sickening cute.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy's entire premise began with this trope.
  • Vilgax did this to Eldritch Abomination Diagon in the finale of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Bonus points for Diagon being actually based on a Great Ancient One.
  • In the Transformers episode “Ghost in the machine” Starscream, the titular ghost, in an effort to get restored to life strikes up a bargain with Unicron. Who sets Starscream on a series of tasks that would’ve resulted in Unicron turning Cybertron into his new body. But due to outside interference Starscream is unable to complete the last task unless Unicron kept his side of the deal, which he does. But then Starscream, being Starscream double-crosses the chaos bringer and gets away with it. (That is if you call getting blasted out into space and getting shot at by an enraged Galvatron getting away with it.)

Real Life

  • The mathematician and strident atheist G. H. Hardy is said to have tried this. Before traveling across the ocean by boat, he sent a postcard claiming to his colleague Littlewood in Cambridge saying that he had proved the Riemann hypothesis. He arrived safely in England at which point he revealed that he hadn't really proved it, and had just blackmailed God by ensuring if the storm had killed him he would have become famous for dying before the proof was known (as Fermat was famous for himself with his last theorem) and thus God would have made His enemy famous.


  Here comes a pissed-off Eldritch Abomination!



 Statler: Did you scam a god once?

Waldorf: Yeah. Some feller named Poseidon asked me to get him some ice water.

Statler: So what did you do?

Waldorf: I gave him some ice water. With the ice already melted!

Both: Doh-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho!


  1. Not that Puck/Owen has any problem with this.