Created By: MrInitialMan on July 4, 2011 Last Edited By: MrInitialMan on July 16, 2011
Troped

Last Plan Standing

When the dust settles, someone takes over

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A Thirty Xanatos Pileup has ensued, and the dust finally settles. Someone emerges, triumphant. The winner may have been one of the major Chess Masters (or even one Chess Master playing the others off each other), but it's just as likely that it's a relatively minor player, the Spanner in the Works or even Those Two Guys. If the Gambit Pileup has been particularly bloody, the victor might win by simple virtue of being the last one standing--perhaps Atop a Mountain of Corpses.

In some cases, the winner doesn't even HAVE a plan--they were in the right place at the right time, and in a prime position for victory.

Examples

  • Arabia was fought over by the Ottoman Empire, Germany, Britain, who were aided by the Rashidis (allied with the Ottomans), the Hashemites (allied with Britain), and the Sauds (led by Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud), along with others such as the Bedouins and the Ikhwan. As the region (plus a good deal more of the area) is now known as known as Saudi Arabia, it's clear who won.

  • Fortinbras in Hamlet is established as seeking revenge on Denmark for past grievances. He ends up having the crown fall into his lap because all the legitimate claimants have killed each other.

  • By the end of Legacy of Kain: Defiance, Raziel finally stops being manipulated by everyone, and lets himself be absorbed by the Reaver, so that Kain can use the Reaver to defeat the Elder God.

  • Henry VII Tudor was this, both in Real Life and in Shakespeare's play Richard III.

  • Simon at the end of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy is at least a partial example.

  • As is Taran of Caer Dallben at the end of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. Granted, not everyone is dead by any means, but Taran becomes High King mostly because the other claimants are either dead (Math, Arawn, Achren, Pryderi) or leaving for the Summer Country, and people will accept Taran because he killed Arawn.

  • It sometimes seems that Daenerys is being set up to be this at the end of A Song of Ice and Fire, but that's speculation.

  • In Adam Cadre's Varicella, the Villain Protagonist is tasked with manipulating a complex web of court intrigue so that he becomes the last and only choice for Regent. It backfires spectacularly when the young prince, who has become a Complete Monster as a result of his upbringing, ascends the throne, eliminates the last obstacles in his path - including Varicella himself! - and declares war on pretty much everybody.

  • Liquid Snake at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2. His only real involvement with the plan was getting Solid Snake involved so that he was able to be released. However, the enormous circle of backstabbing between Dead Cell, Solidus, Olga and Ocelot cancelled them out to the point he was able to abscond with RAY. Well, at least until the sequel rolled around.

  • The United States might have been this after World War One, as all the OTHER major powers were devastated by war and falling apart. Instead, they went back to isolationism.
Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • July 4, 2011
    suedenim
    • Fortinbras in Hamlet is established as seeking revenge on Denmark for past grievances. He ends up having the crown fall into his lap because all the legitimate claimants have killed each other.
  • July 4, 2011
    goodtimesfreegrog
    • By the end of Legacy Of Kain: Defiance, Raziel finally stops being manipulated by everyone, and lets himself be absorbed by the Reaver, so that Kain can use the Reaver to defeat the Elder God.
  • July 4, 2011
    Valentine
    Gambit gets used wrongly enough around here already (including in Gambit Pileup). Please use a different name not to add to the confusion further.
  • July 4, 2011
    Confusion567
    ^Gambit has entered TV Tropes vocabulary based on Xanatos Gambit; it might not be real-world correct, but we all know what it means here, and it would be more confusing to change the word for one trope (or for all of them).
  • July 4, 2011
    Valentine
    It's used correctly in Xanatos Gambit though. It's the BadSnowclones that need to be discouraged. There's utterly no reason to put "Gambit" in the title of a new trope when it's being used incorrectly. If it makes the title unclear we avoid in-crowd references in titles so that it doesn't become impenetrable to anyone not already familiar with the trope it references. "The way gambit is used on tv tropes" is unclear if it doesn't match the real meaning of the word, as in this case.
  • July 5, 2011
    Horticulturist
    Henry VII Tudor was this, both in Real Life and in Shakespeare's play Richard III.

    Simon at the end of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy is at least a partial example.

    As is Taran of Caer Dallben at the end of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles Of Prydain. Granted, not everyone is dead by any means, but Taran becomes High King mostly because the other claimants are either dead (Math, Arawn, Achren, Pryderi) or leaving for the Summer Country, and people will accept Taran because he killed Arawn.

    It sometimes seems that Daenerys is being set up to be this at the end of A Song Of Ice And Fire, but that's speculation.

    As for another title, Atop The Pileup or Only One Left Standing might do.

  • July 6, 2011
    Ryusui
    Oh God. I know what we need to call this.

    Last Plan Standing. Come on. It's perfect. Last Plan Standing.

    Anyways.

    • In Adam Cadre's Varicella, the Villain Protagonist is tasked with manipulating a complex web of court intrigue so that he becomes the last and only choice for Regent. It backfires spectacularly when the young prince, who has become a Complete Monster as a result of his upbringing, ascends the throne, eliminates the last obstacles in his path - including Varicella himself! - and declares war on pretty much everybody.
  • July 6, 2011
    Horticulturist
    I'm with Ryusui; I like Last Plan Standing.
  • July 7, 2011
    suedenim
    I also like Last Plan Standing.
  • July 7, 2011
    Andygal
    In the Mistborn trilogy Preservation ends up on top of the massive pile of gambits and retroactive gambits, despite having been effectively dead for thousands of years.
  • July 8, 2011
    Tuomas
    Last Plan Standing might be a misleading title, because in some of these cases the triumphant character didn't have a plan, and ends up as the "last one standing" only because all the characters who did have plan ended up killing (or otherwise incapacitating) each other.
  • July 8, 2011
    Frank75
    Is this really so different from Last Man Standing?
  • July 8, 2011
    pinkdalek
    Liquid Snake at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2. His only real involvement with the plan was getting Solid Snake involved so that he was able to be released. However, the enormous circle of backstabbing between Dead Cell, Solidus, Olga and Ocelot cancelled them out to the point he was able to abscond with RAY. Well, at least until the sequel rolled around.
  • July 10, 2011
    MrInitialMan
    Considering that Last Man Standing is a series of graphic novels, yes.

  • July 11, 2011
    Frank75
    Also a... no, two movies. And three series. And a book. OK.

    But don't we have a fighting trope where there's exactly one winner? There's Atop A Mountain Of Corpses, but that's not what I mean.
  • July 11, 2011
    MrInitialMan
    Frank75: There really doesn't seem to be one. Might I suggest Last One Standing for that?
  • July 11, 2011
    tropetown
    Definitely Last Plan Standing
  • July 11, 2011
    Speedball
    Last Plan Standing works good. Atop The Pileup makes me imagine the victor of a literal pileup of bodies (which could be its own trope, Atop A Mountain Of Corpses).
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=6lixt6gneqgqhsw2xbgc8480