Created By: SonicLover on April 28, 2011 Last Edited By: SonicLover on May 4, 2011

Gambit Gridlock

Multiple independent schemes with the same intentions all wind up annulling one another.

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Trope
Would like to launch this soon. Discussion is encouraged! (Please?)

Alice is running down the sidewalk. Captain Zeke would like nothing better than to see Alice bite the dust, so he sets up a disguised pit trap on the sidewalk so she'll run right into it.

Meanwhile, Dr. Gnarly is also interested in getting rid of Alice, so he disguises himself and approaches her going in the opposite direction with plans to assassinate her with a knife when they pass.

Can you guess what happens? Dr. Gnarly blunders into Captain Zeke's pit trap, trapping himself AND revealing the pit trap-- and Alice avoids it and continues unhindered.

Ladies and gentlemen (And Zoidberg), you have just witnessed a Gambit Gridlock, an occasional outcome of the Thirty Xanatos Pileup. This is when two (or more) schemers, shooting for similar goals but not properly informed of each other's schemes, end up ruining each other's plans with their own completely by chance, rendering both moot or counterproductive. Usually if not always Played for Laughs.

Typically involves Right Hand Versus Left Hand. Not to be confused with Colliding Criminal Conspiracies.

Examples

Film
  • The Pink Panther Strikes Again: Many international assassins are out to kill Clouseau, but they all get in each other's way and end up killing each other instead of anybody accomplishing the job.

Live Action TV
  • In Better Off Ted, the main characters all decide to cheat to make sure Ted's project does better in testing than his rival's. Veronica and Linda, knowing that the rival project is next up on the docket, get Ted's daughter Rose into the testing pool, and convince her to badmouth the next project she sees. Meanwhile Ted, knowing that being tested earlier is usually an advantage, bribes the guy in charge of scheduling to bump his project ahead of the rival one.

Newspaper Comics
  • Dilbert: In one strip, Wally tells the boss that if his budget is cut, the world will suddenly stop spinning and fling everyone into space. Dilbert makes a similar threat saying that if his budget is cut, a plague of locusts will be the result. The boss's response:
    "I'll cut both budgets. With any luck, we'll fling the locusts into space."

Western Animation
  • Has happened once or twice in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. In one episode, Penelope was driving along in her car, and the Bully Brothers tried to pull ahead and block the road. The Hooded Claw was waiting further ahead with a boulder, ready to push it off the cliff and crush Penelope with it as she passed. You can guess how it turned out.

Uncategorized
  • In the 'Gallimaufry' arc of Buck Godot: Zap-Gun For Hire, humanity winds up being targeted by virtually every other sophont race in the galaxy... and they all have ninjas. Thus, when Buck steps out of the human embassy, he gets ambushed by 'round 80 ninjas, all from different races and working independently... stumbling all over (and killing) each other in their attempt to reach him.
  • Often an aspect of The Fool, explaining how he manages to win.
  • This happens quite often with real-life law enforcement agencies, when the different Alphabet Agencies end up busting each other because their undercover missions are kept secret so successfully. This was even used on CSI.
Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • April 28, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
  • April 28, 2011
    Micah
    Your Dilbert example is incomprehensible.

    • In Better Off Ted, the main characters all decide to cheat to make sure Ted's project does better in testing than his rival's. Veronica and Linda, knowing that the rival project is next up on the docket, get Ted's daughter Rose into the testing pool, and convince her to badmouth the next project she sees. Meanwhile Ted, knowing that being tested earlier is usually an advantage, bribes the guy in charge of scheduling to bump his project ahead of the rival one.
  • April 28, 2011
    TooBah
    Happens Once An Episode in Phineas And Ferb. Candace has a plan to bust her brothers for building a contraption, Dr. Doofenschmirtz has a plan to rule the Tri-state Area. Doof's plot goes haywire (usually with the help of Agent P.), and in the process takes out Phineas and Ferb's contraption, so the boys remain blissfully un-busted. Every. Single. Time.
  • April 28, 2011
    SonicLover
    The Phineas And Ferb example doesn't apply unless Candace's plan gets in the way of Dr. D's. It has to be mutual.
  • April 28, 2011
    SonicLover
    I think I need to change the Example As A Thesis. The current one is too similar to the Penelope Pitstop example.
  • April 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Pink Panther Strikes Again: Many international assassins are out to kill Clouseau, but they all get in each others' way and end up killing each other instead of anybody accomplishing the job.
  • April 29, 2011
    BlackDragon
    In the 'Gallimaufry' arc of Buck Godot: Zap-Gun For Hire, humanity winds up being targeted by virtually every other sophont race in the galaxy... and they all have ninjas. Thus, when Buck steps out of the human embassy, he gets ambushed by 'round 80 ninjas, all from different races and working independently... stumbling all over (and killing) each other in their attempt to reach him.
  • April 29, 2011
    Sackett
    Often an aspect of The Fool, explaining how he manages to win.
  • April 29, 2011
    SonicLover
    Now this is what I'm talking about. So many examples.

    Could use some feedback on the trope and its description, though.
  • April 29, 2011
    Earnest
  • April 29, 2011
    MrInitialMan
    This happens quite often with real-life law enforcement agencies, when the different Alphabet Agencies end up busting each other because their undercover missions are kept secret so successfully. This was even used on CSI.
  • April 29, 2011
    Fearmonger
    There was a Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip in which Person A reveals that he put Person B in his current position as part of an experiment. Person C then claims to have done the same to Person A. Person B then claims to have done this to Person C, thoroughly confusing the three of them. Does this count?
  • April 29, 2011
    SonicLover
    ^ Link to it and let me look at it for myself. Then I'll decide.

    ...Wait, is it the same strip that's the page image for Thirty Xanatos Pileup?
  • April 30, 2011
    MetaFour
    There would seem to be a lot of overlap with Right Hand Versus Left Hand.

    That Pink Panther example goes under Film.

  • April 30, 2011
    MorganWick
    I'd go with Gambit Cancellation or Gambit Nullification. We need to be careful that this doesn't look like a duplicate of Thirty Xanatos Pileup.
  • May 2, 2011
    SonicLover
    Maybe. I chose the current name because of the Added Alliterative Appeal.
  • May 2, 2011
    Duncan
    There was that episode of The Simpsons where everyone was slipping Manjula fertility drugs, so she ended up with octuplets. Or would this go under Right Hand Versus Left Hand?
  • May 2, 2011
    SonicLover
    ^ No. It's not this trope if the end result was a magnification of everyone's intentions.
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