[[quoteright:308:[[Webcomic/SaturdayMorningBreakfastCereal http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/30xanatos.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:308:[[http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1582 And these are only the first four panels.]]]]

A Gambit Pileup involves two or more people with completely separate agendas each hatching complicated {{plan}}s. The storyline is thrown into chaos and even the most GenreSavvy fans can't predict how it will all end. Be prepared to make a flow diagram to keep up with everyone's scheme.

Often overlaps with FlockOfWolves. XanatosSpeedChess is a defining trait. A PsychologicalThriller is more likely to have one of these. Expect lots of IKnowYouKnowIKnow. Expect a lot of people to be OutGambitted, a lot of {{Unwitting Pawn}}s, a lot of saying "JustAsPlanned!", and ''maybe'' someone to have the LastPlanStanding. Compare GambitRoulette, where one person has an improbable plan that would only make sense if he/she is near omniscient. Also compare MultilayerFacade. Done well, it strongly affirms [[TheHeavy The Villain Makes The Plot]]. Particularly convoluted and fantastical versions of this trope can dip straight into MindScrew.

[[noreallife]]
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Advertising]]
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wIZp_E2CxQ This]] ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps'' commercial.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/DeathNote'' is basically 37 episodes of Gambit tropes. For instance, during the last few chapters/episodes: [[spoiler:Near replaces Mikami's Death Note with a fake copy. But wait, that Death Note was fake, and the real one was in a vault somewhere. However, Mello comes in and tricks Mikami into using his real note, letting Near replace the real one with another fake one.]]
* ''Manga/LiarGame'' is interesting with Akiyama vs Yokoya in the third round (the smuggling game). In the fourth round, there is a ''third'' [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]] and potentially a '''fourth''' [[spoiler:although he acts as a proxy for one of the groups]].
* ''GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex'' probably counts, considering that [[ViewersAreGeniuses you have to keep up with what's going on all on your own]]. The second season even more so, considering that [[spoiler:towards the end the villain starts to accidentally play into his own fake roulette, the secondary antagonist turns his intended defeat at the hands of the BigBad into [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence Ascension To Higher Plane Of Existence]], and ''both'' are foiled by a bunch of [[SpannerInTheWorks Spanners In The Works]] doing their own thing against everybody's expectations.]] Whew.
* The storyline of ''Manga/TsubasaReservoirChronicle'' has driven so far past this point that it is approaching it a second time. Here's a tip at how convoluted it is: [[spoiler:[[FlockOfWolves There is only one person in the initial party who is not a spy.]] That person is not Princess Sakura.]] Planners include: Clow Reed, Fei Wong Reed[[note]]the BigBad, who in and of himself creates so many overly complex gambits that even ''he'' gets confused[[/note]], Yuko Ichihara, Tsubasa "Syaoran Jr." Li, Manga/CardcaptorSakura Kinomoto, Ashura-O, Syaoran "Syaoran Sr." Li ([[spoiler:aka Cloney]]) and his wife Sakura Li, Tomoyo-Hime, Queen Nadeshiko and King Fujitaka ([[spoiler:before being [[RetGone Ret Gone'd]]]]), and probably several others offscreen. None of these people collaborated to any significant degree when planning their gambits, except ''maybe'' Clow and Yuko, who collaborated on the early and penultimate stage details and loose end tying. The rest was all independent {{Gambit Roulette}}s crashing from all conceivable directions into one another. Diagrams are of absolutely no use here.
** The fans aren't the only ones who mess up trying to figure things out. By chapter 230, it begins to look like the villain wasn't exactly on top of things -- it appears that his ludicrously complex GambitRoulette to save a loved one's life from death by HeroicSacrifice is, in fact, what caused her to HeroicSacrifice. And it is entirely likely that ''somebody'' planned this.
* ''[[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion End of Evangelion]]'' features Keel's plan to [[spoiler:[[AssimilationPlot perfect humanity by fusing all human souls into one entity]]]] being hijacked by Gendo, whose plan to [[spoiler:resurrect his dead wife]] is hijacked by Rei, who wants to [[spoiler:give the person she cares for the most, Shinji, control over whether or not to have TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt]], ''all'' of which may have been planned by Yui and Fuyutsuki ten years earlier. Throughout the series, we have the Angels who want to cause Third Impact, [[spoiler:Kaworu]] who rebels against them, the last few Angels who want to learn more about humanity, Kaji who is working for several factions (and himself), and the UN who wants to learn the secrets of SEELE and NERV.
* There's rarely a major event in ''Anime/CodeGeass'' that doesn't involve several different groups or individuals trying to manipulate things. The plot of ''Code Geass'' has been described as a train wreck where they just keep sending more trains. It gets even more complicated due to the number of characters that switch sides over the course of the show and the underlying moral ambiguity of both sides, making it [[HazyFeelTurn hard to distinguish]] between a HeelFaceTurn and a FaceHeelTurn at times; it doesn't help that a few characters [[spoiler:who apparently died return alive and well]], so you never know what to expect.
** The conclusion of the show itself turns into a Gambit Pileup as the separate and intricate machinations of Lelouch, the Emperor, Schneizel, Suzaku, the Black Knights, and even C.C. and [[spoiler:Lelouch's dead mother Marianne]] all barrel towards each other at breakneck speeds.
* ''Anime/LegendOfGalacticHeroes''. The whole damn thing. Yes, it's a bigger pile up than ''Manga/DeathNote''. [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters All the characters]] have their own individual unique agenda which ''does'' come to fruition and ''does'' affect the rest of the story. And it goes on for ''110 episodes''.
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' gave 4 good guy Chessmasters 6 months to plan against the BBEG's culmination of a GambitRoulette that began by founding an entire nation. The number of smart and powerful pieces and tools each side has boggles the mind. And throughout all of this the various parties are all trying to maintain good PR on themselves, leading one set of protagonists to claim they support TheDragon in an attempt to protect themselves.
* The various [[TheChessmaster Chessmasters]] in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00'' are locked in a covert struggle to determine who gets to mold the future of the world into their ideal design, with the constantly-unfolding [[MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning posthumous]] GambitRoulette of their centuries-deceased predecessor (a plan several of the aforementioned schemers hijacked for their own ends, with mixed results) contributing to the already convoluted web of machinations for which the original planner may have already planned for. It doesn't make it any easier when several of the key characters on all sides of the conflict all believe themselves to be carrying out the original plan.
* ''Manga/DetectiveConan'', volume 26. Long story short, one person has a plan which is ruined by the actions of someone else, who in turn has their own plan which gets ruined, a cycle that repeats itself at least half a dozen times.
* ''VisualNovel/{{Demonbane}}'' has a surprising lack of Chessmasters, considering that there are no less than five different {{Gambit Roulette}} going on throughout the series, some of which are so insane that one wonders how they even ''thought'' of their ultimate goals, and one of which involved planning from ''before the dawn of time''. Of all of them, only one manages to succeed, and it only manages to succeed in an alternate universe.
* The end of the Yellow Chapter of ''Manga/PokemonSpecial'' started with {{Evil Plan}}s, continued into some ''heroic'' {{Gambit Roulette}}s, and in the end [[spoiler:Giovanni's apparent BigDamnHeroes moment]] actually turned out to be part of Lance's plan and Yellow somehow managing to outwit him. It gets crazier later on. Suffice it to say ''everyone'' gets to play XanatosSpeedChess at some point -- even ''[[spoiler:[[IdiotHero GOLD]] disguised as Guile Hideout]]''!
* ''Manga/FutureDiary''. When you've got 12 people, all armed with diaries that can predict the future, trying to kill each other to [[AGodAmI become a god]] and forming alliances with each other to achieve their goals, the story gets a little hard to follow.
* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' seems to have at ''least'' three separate large-scale conspiracies going on, with potential for several more to be present (and that's not counting the ones that existed in the flashbacks, and may still be present). Naturally, Negi and his family end up at the center of all of them, causing them to crash into each other. At least three of these gambits were planned by Negi's own students since ''chapter one'', namely [[spoiler:Eva, Chao, and Zazie]]. One also wonders if the class makeup of 3-A can really be coincidental, seeing as to how no less than half the class is unusual in ''some'' regard. Even the school staff seems to be comprised entirely of talented mages.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''. The finale to the Arrancar Arc basically pits Aizen in all his {{Gambit Roulett|e}}ing glory against the rest of the cast and their respective gambits. The end result is a mess of about dozen {{Cast Herd}}s' plans hitting each other at the same time.
** The best example of this occurred at the climax of the Soul Society arc, where about a dozen battles occurred at once, with every participant having a different motive.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' has slowly fallen into this: from Orochimaru, to Madara, to Danzo, to the villages it seems that backroom scheming is the ''only'' [[HighlyVisibleNinja ninja activity]] that the characters are good at. In short, Sasuke was being manipulated by Orochimaru who was being manipulated by Itachi (who himself manipulated Naruto) who was being used by Danzo who was being manipulated by Madara. At the same time, Pain, the head of Akatsuki, had different goals to Akatsuki itself, and was in turn taking orders from Madara without realising his intentions (while making it appear that Madara was one of his subordinates and too dumb to plan anything). Then Kabuto comes out of nowhere for his own scheme, revealing that Orochimaru knew about Madara's plan all along. Kabuto then manipulates Madara by threatening him with a mysterious summoned coffin [[spoiler:which contained the real (dead) Madara, meaning the guy posing as Madara was an imposter]]. Then, it turns out [[spoiler:Obito's [[ThePlan "Moon's Eye Plan"]] was actually the real Madara's plan, and [[TheDragon Obito]] was also supposed to bring Madara back to life. Madara then executes the Moon's Eye Plan, upon which ''Black Zetsu'' reveals he was manipulating Madara to revive his [[PhysicalGod Goddess mother]], Kaguya.]] So, to recap, [[spoiler:Pain ostensibly led the Akatsuki, but was actually being manipulated by Obito, who was being manipulated by Madara, who was being manipulated by Black Zetsu.]] Oh, and any number of these characters might be taking advantage of plans made by the Sage of the Six Paths hundreds of years ago. Yikes.
** Played earlier in the Land of Birds filler arc. By the time of [[spoiler:the general's failed execution, plots were in play by the general, Konoha shinobi, rogue shinobi infiltrating the compound, Naruto posing as a ghost, the daimyo posing as a ghost, the daimyo's ''sister'' pretending to be the deceased daimyo, the daimyo's aid/potential love interest,]] and a bunch of [[EverythingsBetterWithMonkeys chimpanzees]]!
* The Flying Pussyfoot arc of ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}!'' can be accurately summed up as a "clusterfuck." Trying to elaborate is an effort in futility, but it would probably sound like the start of an old joke: "So a cult, a gang, two [[spoiler:immortal]] bank robbers, a Senator's family, [[spoiler:a psychopathic hitman]], a bomb-smuggling [[spoiler: immortal]] child, a spy for an information brokering business, and the Chicago mafia all walk onto a train one day..." Oh, and by the way, the company that owns the train is a NebulousEvilOrganisation (conveniently named "Nebula").
** The trope in effect is best showcased when ''three different gangs hijack a train car '''at the exact same time.'''''
-->'''Cultist with machine-gun:''' Everyone, down on the floor now!
-->'''Gangster with pistols:''' Hands in the air, all of you!
-->'''Bootlegger with knife:''' Everybody freeze!
-->'''Old man:''' W-which one should we do?
* ''Manga/KatekyoHitmanReborn'' has one during the future arc: All along, the readers were led to believe the whole reason they were in the future was because of Byakuran's machinations and Irie Shouchi was the root of all their problems, only to result in a Pileup with three main players.
* ''Anime/EdenOfTheEast'''s premise is that there are 12 Selecao all competing against each other to 'save' Japan in the way they see fit. Anyone who runs out of money without completing their objective is eliminated, those who are deemed unable to save Japan are eliminated by the mysterious Supporter, and no one's quite sure who's running this whole thing. Only the first person to achieve their goal will be considered successful, the rest are eliminated. So as time goes on, the Selecao are all plotting. Numbers One, Two, Six, Ten, and maybe Twelve are plotting against Nine, Akira. Eleven is helping him. Juiz seems rather distasteful of Six and supportive of Akira. At least one person who plotted against Akira is dead. [[spoiler:Eventually, ten gets his missile gambit beaten, then vanishes. One takes out another Selecao, Two and Eleven. And Ten is back.]] Plots, plots plots. Number five wasn't much of a schemer, though.
* As of ''LightNovel/{{Durarara}}'''s 8th volume, the following groups and organizations are or have been involved in Izaya's crazy little MobWar and its surrounding confusion: three different color gangs, all of which [[spoiler: were secretly created by middle schoolers, only two of whom are now even in high school]], a faction composed of an unknowing bunch of people who have been demonically possessed, the {{Yakuza}}, TheMafiya, a pharmaceutical company fond of kidnapping immigrants for experimentation, an American {{Megacorp}} secretly (and violently) researching the supernatural, a serial-killing {{Dhampyr}}, a [[HeadlessHorseman Dullahan]] searching for her head (along with her her BackAlleyDoctor boyfriend), a man with inexplicable super-strength and no temper to speak of, and a Saitama biker gang. There are at least three other Chessmasters or wannabe-Chessmasters besides Izaya trying to steer things towards their own interests, and about half a dozen WildCard characters that can make or break alliances at a moment's notice. So far, the only thing guaranteed is complete and absolute chaos. Which is exactly what [[TheChessmaster Izaya]] [[ItAmusedMe wanted.]]
* In ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'', several of the villains don't even know about each other. For example, Amata Kihara and Vento of the Front attack Academy City on two fronts, and end up getting in each others' way when they meet. A great example is Volume 15 of the light novels, in which all five of Academy City's secret enforcement groups (GROUP, ITEM, SCHOOL, MEMBER, and BLOCK) stumble into each other's plans and it turns into a city-wide battle royale that involves no fewer than ''three'' [[PersonOfMassDestruction Level 5 Espers]] and several sorcerers. Everyone's acting at cross-purposes, and keeping track of what's going on and what everyone's objectives are can get ''very'' confusing. [[spoiler:At the end of the day, only GROUP remains intact and functional.]]
* ''Anime/ShinMazinger''. It says something when, at the end of the series BigBad Dr. Hell says that everything that happened up to this point was nothing but an endless festival of tricks and backstabbings. And that happens before some of the biggest gambits in the series are revealed.
* Cho-Katsu Komei from ''Manga/GiantRobo'' OVA continuity has, according to his backstory, once created this on ''purpose'' for his giant, incredibly convoluted GambitRoulette, and the effect was such a huge mess that even his boss, Big Fire, ordered him to stop it all at once, because he has no idea what's going on anymore. And OVA itself has few gambits playing on one another. And Komei claims it is all part of ''his'' plan all along.
* Anime/{{Windaria}} The shadowland king wants Lunaria's water, Roland and Veronica want peace, Lunaria Queen wants more money from Shadowland king, Lagado seeks more power, and Alan wants to protect his homeland.
* ''Anime/MacrossFrontier'' has multiple schemers at work, including The ''Frontier'''s scientists, Bilrer, Leon, [[spoiler:Grace and an OmniscientCouncilOfVagueness]]. In a slight subversion, none of those is actually OutGambitted: rather, the BigDamnHeroes come and foil all of them. The movie also contains most of those schemes, however there OutGambitted is played straight.
* ''Manga/{{Houshin Engi}}'''s plot is almost entirely gambit pile ups, and most of them by [[ManipulativeBastard Dakki]]. Everyone is fighting for a different faction or very personal reason beyond Taikobo, although he starts off only [[ItsPersonal wanting revenge]] before {{character development}} kicks in.
* ''Anime/DigimonAdventure02'' has this. The Digidestined are again fighting several enemies who have their own agendas. Most of them are actually manipulated by[=/=]following [[spoiler:[[TheChessmaster Malomyotismon]]]], but there're some who're enemies to him as well as to the Digidestined. The [[EvilOverlord Deamon]] [[KnightOfCerebus Corps]] and [[WildCard Blackwargreymon]] are fighting his followers just as hard as they fight the Digidestined, and [[HybridMonster Kimeramon]] starts to act on his own will when he seems to be possessed by [[spoiler:[[MagnificentBastard Devimon]]]]'s spirit, who apparently is trying to get a comeback, and then there's [[EldritchAbomination Dagomon]] of the Dark Ocean, who wants to claim the power of light so that he can use it for his own plans of conquest.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'':
** The Marineford War between the Marines and Blackbeard. Even usual SpannerInTheWorks Luffy can't stop either side from getting what they want.
** Happens again in Dressrosa as Donquixote Doflamingo and Trafalgar Law match wits with Luffy caught in the middle. [[spoiler:Law gets taken out of commission fairly quickly]], but not before Admiral Fujitora arrives with plans of his own, with the Revolutionary Army strategists not far behind.
* ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod'' Part 2 only gets more complicated. There are no fewer than ''eight'' separate gambits running toward a variety of objectives and it's not even certain what group's full plan or objectives are.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comics]]
* Creator/ChristopherPriestComics is a big fan of these.
** Almost every story arc of his ComicBook/BlackPanther run involves at least five or six would-be [[TheChessMaster Chessmaster]] types trying to OutGambit each other.
** It shows up in his Franchise/JusticeLeagueOfAmerica stuff as well.
** He plays with it in ''ComicBook/QuantumAndWoody'', where Quantum often suspects these, but is usually wrong.
* A storyline in ''Webcomic/{{Nodwick}}'', which started with the heroes' attempt to stop an Orc Invasion of two kingdoms, turned into one of these for comedic effect. Especially when it was revealed that every person in the palace was attempting to control the kingdom one way or another. Story starts [[http://nodwick.humor.gamespy.com/gamespyarchive/index.php?date=2008-07-02 here]], revelation of gambits starts [[http://nodwick.humor.gamespy.com/gamespyarchive/index.php?date=2008-08-13 here]], page most relevant to this trope is [[http://nodwick.humor.gamespy.com/gamespyarchive/index.php?date=2008-08-20 this one]].
-->'''Nodwick:''' Piffany, we'll have even ''more'' conspirators to add to the chart.\\
'''Piffany:''' Oh, I gave up when Jules arrived. I'm just going to draw some duckies and bunnies for a while.
** And that exchange came after our heroes learned that [[spoiler:everyone in the krutzing KINGDOM had some sort of plan in the works or in motion.]]
-->'''Yeagar:''' If you're serious about it, getcher butts up here and take a number!
* Marvel's CrisisCrossover ''[[Comicbook/TheInfinityGauntlet The Infinity War]]'' features Comicbook/AdamWarlock, his even more chessmastery EnemyWithout The Magus, Comicbook/{{Thanos}}, ''another'' Thanos, and Doctor Freakin' Doom, each with their own plans for how to further or stop the cause of universal domination. "Thirty Gambit pileup" is a low estimate.
* In an issue of ''ComicStrip/WhatsNewWithPhilAndDixie'' dedicated to spy-based [=RPG=]s, two battling UsefulNotes/ColdWar-era agents intersperse their gunfire with insults ("Imperialist dog!" "Commie scum!"). Each spy taunts the other, revealing that he's found the well-hidden proof that the other is TheMole. Both spies cry "What?! Then my cover's blown!" in unison, then go back to fighting each other, slinging the same insults, but with their political loyalties reversed.
* A ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'' Sunday strip features a game of football between the namesake characters, for the duration of which they reveal gambit after gambit ad ridiculum, to great comedic effect; Calvin is a double-agent for the opposing team posing as a member of Hobbes's team, however Hobbes knew the whole time and secretly switched the location of their goals, etcetera etcetera. Naturally, it ended up turning into {{Calvinball}}.
* In ''ComicBook/FallOfCthulhu'', each of the elder gods has a gambit running and mankind will be lucky to survive, since we barely qualify as pawns.
* Once in a while, ''Comicbook/{{Diabolik}}'' has a story where the protagonist has a fight with Eva and decides to make an heist alone and Eva decides to one-up him by making that heist before him, resulting in their plans interfering with each other. If the victim is a criminal, there's a good chance that [[SympatheticInspectorAntagonist Ginko]] or another cop is investigating him, further complicating things (and in at least one occasion causing Eva, who had already stole the loot, to frame Diabolik as TheMole who informed the police. The actual mole was ''Eva's roommate'').
* The ''ComicBook/XMen'' crossover ''Messiah Complex'' has everyone with the same goal, the first mutant born since M-Day who just happens to be a baby. So we have Comicbook/{{Cyclops}}' main group going after the Marauders (who are also looking for the baby that the X-Men think they have), getting Comicbook/XFactor to both infiltrate the [[ANaziByAnyOtherName Purifiers]] and explore two future timelines for information, the ComicBook/NewXMen going off on their own to attack the Purifiers, [[spoiler:Lady Deathstrike and her men helping the Purifiers as a favor]], Predator X hunting after the baby's powerful mutant genes to eat it, Professor X trying to get the New X-Men on his side (and failing), [[spoiler:Cable]] with the baby trying to avoid everyone else and [[spoiler:go into the future to protect and raise the baby]], [[spoiler:[[Characters/XMenVillains Mystique]] using the Marauders to get the baby and save Rogue's life with the help of]] Comicbook/{{Gambit}} AND FINALLY, [[spoiler:Bishop trying to kill the baby under everyone's noses to avoid his horrid future and using a techno-organic virus to turn the Sentinal pilots around the mansion into killing machines to buy time]]. Did you get all that?
* The 2011 ''JourneyIntoMystery'' series [[spoiler:Loki goes up against HIMSELF]]. Things get very complicated and nobody wins.
* ''ComicBook/ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog'' turned the Great War and its leadup into this. Ixis Naugus wanted the throne, Warlord Kodos wanted war and Julian Kintobor wanted the world. It took awhile and some double crossing from each other, but all three got what they wanted.
* "The Immigration of the Body Snatchers" - a parody of ''Film/InvasionOfTheBodySnatchers'' - in ''[[Comicbook/TheSimpsons Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror Heebie-Jeebie Hullabaloo]]'' climaxes with Homer being hauled into an insane asylum for claiming that "pod people" are taking over the Earth. Everyone makes fun of him until the cops find some alien pods along the highway, which is when Dr. Marvin Monroe admits he knew about the pod-people invasion the whole time...because he is actually a spy from the planet Venus (removing his doctor's headgear to reveal a third "alien" eye) paving the way for a ''Venusian'' takeover of the Earth. Then one of the policemen rips off his disguise to reveal that "he" is actually two [[LittleGreenMen Little Green Martians]] who are way ahead of both the pod-people and the Venusians in preparing for a ''Martian'' conquest of Earth. ''Then'' another policeman strips off his disguise, and turns out to be a "robot ghost clone from the future" who is here to shoot everybody - twice. Things get increasingly absurd from that point on, with various conspiracy theorists showing up claiming that they're all in Hell or that they're part of an alien race's scientific experiment, et. al. Finally, Sideshow Bob appears and tells the crowd that [[MediumAwareness they're all characters in a comic book]], which causes everyone present to laugh at him...but of course, they eventually figure out that Bob's right when he points out the FourthWall. All the characters then panic and scream, realizing that when the reader closes the comic, they will all [[CessationOfExistence cease to exist]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fanfic]]
* ''FanFic/HarryPotterAndTheMethodsOfRationality'' features at least '''''[[UpToEleven seventy five]]''''' plots during the armies arc's last battle before Christmas, though not all of them are actually depicted. Especially notable is the presence of a quintuple agent who thinks he's a quadruple agent in a game with only three sides. It was even lampshaded [[OneOfUs by name]] in the author's notes. (See quote page) Even outside of the armies, ''everyone'' has a plot, or several: Quirrel, Dumbledore, Harry, Draco, Lucius, Snape, Hat&Cloak, "Santa Claus"... A chapter has Snape commenting "If I have learned anything in my tenure as Head of Slytherin, I have learned what ridiculous messes arise when there is more than one plotter and more than one plan."
* ''FanFic/DivineBlood'' has no less than sixteen people pursuing their own, often mutually independent goals with no collaboration between them.
* ''FanFic/ShinjiAndWarhammer40K'' takes ''Evangelion'''s existing pileup between SEELE's {{Instrumentality}} and Gendo's plan to bring Yui back, and adds in Kaworu's plan to turn humanity into a HiveMind and Shinji's own plans to protect Tokyo 3 and being a SpannerInTheWorks for the other three's plans.
* ''FanFic/DragonAgeTheCrownOfThorns''. The first chapters already paint Orzammar as the game of lies, but things keep evolving for real when the [[WisePrince dwarven noble]] [[GuileHero protagonist]] and the other wardens return to the dwarven city to get military aid. And this is not counting the pileup dealing with the main plotline, one in which not just the Wardens and Loghain are involved, but also [[spoiler:a Fade Spirit]], of all things, and, more recently, probably [[spoiler:the Archdemon]] as well.
* The ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' fanfiction ''[[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/48341/1/Changelings%2C-Changelings%2C-Everywhere/ Changelings, Changelings Everywhere.]]'' is an unusual case of the trope being used for sidesplitting comedy alongside DoubleReverseQuadrupleAgent. It blatantly devolves into a parody of the trope at the end due to the gambit-encouraging problems inherent in introducing a race of {{Voluntary Shapeshift|ing}}ers. ''Inanimate objects'' are revealed to be Changelings in disguise, and nobody is quite sure anymore who they're working for, since there's so much backstabbing and RightHandVersusLeftHand. Queen Chrysalis wants to rule the Changelings, but is opposed by Lord Chitin, who is supposedly a deposed Changeling noble who has a birthright to the throne. But they're both opposed to The New Larval Republic, who want to break free of royalty altogether. Then Lord Chitin makes a deal with the NLR, but not everyone accepts. But some Changelings have a change of heart, and defect. The [[OnlySaneMan Only Sane Mare]] amid the shenanigans is [[BigGood Princess Celestia]], and [[HeroicBSOD even she doesn't last that long.]]
* The ''FanFic/PoniesOfOlympus'' story ''Atlas Strongest Tournament'' has this occurring between Luna and [[TheDragon Aurelia]] in their moves and countermoves against each other behind the scenes of the tournament. It's taken to MindScrew levels at some points.
* In Chapter 17-19 of ''Fanfic/PerfectionIsOverrated'', [[spoiler:Bachiko and Meiko try to force certain people to fall in love or, failing that, kill the [[MaiHime Himes]]. Ishigami decides he can use them and decides to try to use Yukariko to coerce the Himes into fighting one another. Meanwhile, Nagi, trying to advance his own agenda, tries to manipulate Shiho, who is unconvinced that Yuuichi has truly fallen for her, into killing Mai]].
* ''Fanfic/ChildrenOfTime'' has Professor Moriarty and Beth Lestrade. Moriarty is TheChessmaster; Beth just plans simply and utilizes the IndyPloy when she has to. Most notably, Moriarty makes a CloningGambit and allows his own death to occur, and when his clone pops up in the 22nd century, Beth's era, she has the body of Literature/SherlockHolmes ''restored to life'' to aid her and New Scotland Yard. Only to find that Moriarty is now a VillainWithGoodPublicity, and she and Sherlock will have to discredit him.
* ''Fanfic/DeathNoteEquestria'': Given [[Manga/DeathNote one half of the source material]], it shouldn't be a surprise this ends up happening. Twilight and L's moves against each other count from the start already, but then [[{{Shinigami}} Mer]] goes off Twilight's script to reach her own ends. And on top of that, not only does [[spoiler: [[TooCoolToLive Pinkie Pie]]]] appear to have set up a ThanatosGambit before her death, but Celestia is strongly implied to be running her own scheme against Kira as well.
* Fanfic/DeathNoteIITheHiddenNote has this happen: [[spoiler: A woman shows up at the doorway in a trenchcoat, a fedora and sunglasses. She is apparently the new Kira's conspirator. In her Death Note, she writes down the names of the people she sees and waits for forty seconds. But wait! Near pulls out what he says is the real Death Note and says the one the woman is holding is fake. Not only that, Near accuses KJ of being the new Kira. But wait! The woman reads out the names she wrote and describes how the four people she wrote the names of would die. Each one dies seemingly in that way. Suddenly, The woman takes off her fedora and sunglasses to reveal she's Near's daughter Angela! Everyone is suddenly surrounded by Shinigami. Arik flashes his Death Note in Near's face. Near realizes that the Death note he and Angela have are both fake. Near asks KJ where the real Death Note was. KJ says the first entry he wrote in his journal, which mentions an angel. It is then that Near realizes he held the real Death Note in his hands and put it back. It is at this point he exclaims how it was the Hidden Note.]]
* ''Fanfic/DirtySympathy'' has Klavier and Apollo's plan to frame their abusers clashing with Phoenix's plan [[spoiler: of proving Kristoph guilty and restoring his good name]] and Kristoph's plan [[spoiler: of poisoning the Mishams to tie up loose ends]].
* ''FanFic/SonicXDarkChaos''. LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters, and virtually ''all'' of them have their own individual plans and plots. All of them end up falling apart by the end of the story thanks to the [[SpannerInTheWorks interference]] of [[EldritchAbomination Dark Tails]].
** Maledict wishes to defeat the Metarex so he can unleash Tsali on his enemies and rule the universe. [[TheChessmaster He is also secretly controlling the Metarex]] as part of his enormously complicated GambitRoulette. He also wants to get the Chaos Emeralds in order to keep them away from the Metarex [[spoiler: and is trying to protect Sonic the Hedgehog because he's Maledict's son]].
** Tsali steals Planet Eggs so he has enough power to exterminate the Seedrians and destroy the Metarex. And anyone else who gets in his way.
** Allysion want to kill Tsali and then launch an attack on the Milky Way to upset Maledict's plans.
** Jesus sends his servant Tephiroth to see if Sonic would be a useful ally, and recruits Trinity to spy on the Demons and find out what they're up to.
** Venus the Seedrian is trying to expose Maledict's plan in order to stop him from taking over the universe.
** Dark Oak and the Metarex are stealing and mutating Planet Eggs in order to keep themselves and their organization alive.
* The plot of ''[[Fanfic/GameTheory Power Games]]'' arises from the colliding agendas of six different factions.
* ''FanFic/RedactionOfTheGoldenWitch'' has [[ConspiracyTheorist Karl]]'s theory about what ''really'' happened in ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry''. In his version of events, all of the Ushiromiya's servants were working for different players in a worldwide conspiracy, all aimed at claiming the family's secret stash of wealth.
* ''Fanfic/ChildOfTheStorm'' gleefully takes this trope and runs with it. First off, we have a post HeelFaceTurn Loki, who's got a world wide spy network and is continually scheming for the good of Asgard and the Nine Realms while watching his brother's back. Then we have Baron Von Strucker, who wants to restore HYDRA to the status it possessed during WWII, Lucius Malfoy, who wants to bring down the Avengers, gain revenge on Nick Fury and [[spoiler: fuse HYDRA and the Death Eaters into a gestalt entity under his sole command]], Gravemoss, [[OmnicidalManiac who wants to kill everything]] and rule over a universe of the dead. Cue [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder backstabbing]]. Dealing with all of these is Nick Fury, who's trying (and, to be fair, mostly succeeding) to crush HYDRA and is gunning for Lucius Malfoy in particular, because he has a score to settle, while simultaneously trying to limit Loki's influence (it's not that he thinks that Loki's evil, it's just that he's got a job to do. And he doesn't trust him). His protégé, Agent (later Director) Wisdom [[spoiler: a.k.a. Regulus Black]], is masterminding the defence of Britain and, seemingly, the creation of a British Avengers team in the form of Excalibur, occasionally black mailing Wanda Maximoff into helping out. Dumbledore is rapidly rearranging his plans to bring down the Death Eaters and prevent Voldemort's return in response to the ever changing StatusQuo. Professor Xavier is holding off the Hellfire Club with one hand and keeping Harry away from his maternal cousin Jean for some unspecified yet crucial reason, as it's shown that he's very much unhappy with it. Magneto is lurking on the edge of things and keeping an eye on events. [[spoiler: Mister Sinister]] has been all but stated to be the mysterious force that kept Harry at Privet Drive, messing with Mrs Figg's head, heading off investigations and the like, having developed an interest in Harry because of his mother being related to Jean Grey. Odin is mostly operating on a hands off basis, leaving his sons to do what they do best, but has put a number of his servants into play, with Freki and Geri (his wolves) protecting Harry, Huginn and Muninn occasionally advising him and Sif and the Warriors Three taking part in a little monster hunting, while keeping an eye out for an opportunity to get even with Thanos for what he did to Loki (it wasn't mind control, but it wasn't pleasant) and to [[spoiler: Krypton]]. [[spoiler: The Phoenix Force,]] meanwhile, has decided that she likes Harry for reasons that are as yet unexplained, and is implied to be the source of Harry's protection. [[spoiler: It is further implied that Lily Potter isn't quite dead and has some kind of connection to the Phoenix]], while Chthon schemes to bring about his return to the universe through the Darkhold. And then there's Doctor Strange, who seems to be manipulating the hell out of ''everyone'' and is unequivocally 'up to something'. Confused yet?
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
%%* ''Film/{{Cypher}}'': Or [[UpToEleven "How many layers of plots can we fit in a single movie?"]]
%%* ''Film/LockStockAndTwoSmokingBarrels''. And how.
%%* All there is to the film ''Heist'' with a lot of UnspokenPlanGuarantee thrown in.
* The climax of ''Film/CurseOfTheGoldenFlower'' after a couple [[TheReveal Reveal-bombs]] are dropped ends up being something like this, with several different plots (sometimes literally) crashing into each other, including some that seemingly come out of nowhere.
* The first two ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'' movies show signs of this. The third one simply explodes with it in the scene where ''The Black Pearl'' changes owners about five times in thirty seconds (where half the cast suddenly reveal they've been plotting against everyone else for the ''Pearl''). But for all the scheming and plotting, everybody ends up on exactly the side you would expect, i.e. pirates (plus Will and Elizabeth, who had pretty much ''become'' pirates by that point) vs. Davy Jones and the [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Royal Navy]].
* The diamond heist in ''Film/AFishCalledWanda'' goes off without a hitch, but then the gang starts plotting against each other. Wanda and Otto come back to the safe to steal the diamonds for themselves, only to find that Ken already moved them at George's direction. Ken hides the safe deposit box key in his fishtank, but Wanda spots him checking and steals it, hiding it in her locket. George is arrested for the robbery, leading Wanda to try to seduce George's defence counsel Archie, to gain information (and probably to make Otto jealous). [[spoiler:Otto tortures Ken to get the location of the diamonds, but doesn't have the key, now that Wanda has decided to betray everybody, and incriminates George during his trial, instead of providing the alibi she previously promised. Finally, Archie and Wanda fly to South America with the diamonds.]]
* ''Film/TheLadyFromShanghai'' begins with a discussion of how there are no tough guys, only people with an edge and people without one. Everybody thinks they're playing everyone else. The lead curses himself throughout the movie for being such an UnwittingPawn.
* ''Film/TheBigLebowski''. A trophy wife runs off for a weekend. Her nihilist friends pretend they've kidnapped her to squeeze money out of her rich husband to pay off a porn kingpin, but accidentally break into the apartment of someone with the same name. The husband gives the Dude an empty briefcase to give the "kidnappers" while he pockets the ransom money, expecting Dude to screw up to cover his tracks. Various other characters wander into the pileup, including a teenage car thief and Lebowski's angry ultra-feminist daughter, and HilarityEnsues.
%%* Pretty much any film by the Coen Brothers, such as ''Film/BurnAfterReading'', fits this trope.
* ''Film/{{Snatch}}''. Made particularly amusing by the fact that [[spoiler:the only two characters who had absolutely no idea about the existence of the diamond that prompted so many characters to try and come up with so many plans are the ones who end up with it at the end.]]
* ''Film/TheCourtJester'' was noted by many critics then and now as having an incredibly complicated plot for a '50s comedy, with a bunch of people who all have their own agendas getting in the way of or accidentally assisting each other. During the bulk of the film, there are three to four {{Batman Gambit}}s going on at any given moment. The rebels want the key to the secret passage that will let them attack the castle, the princess wants to marry for love, several nobles want more power by having other nobles assassinated, and there's a witch with hypnotic powers who just wants to stay alive. Unfortunately, due to said hypnotic powers, the protagonist is unaware of all but one of these for most of the film.
* ''Film/WhatsUpDoc.'' Smith is chasing Jones, the hotel detective and the rich lady and the mobsters are chasing the jewels, Barbra Streisand (Judy) is chasing Ryan O'Neal (Howard), Howard and Hugh are competing for Austin Pendleton's fellowship, and it all culminates in a ChaseScene throughout UsefulNotes/SanFrancisco. Seriously, watch it.
* ''Film/{{Primer}}''. The goals and plans of [[spoiler:5-6 iterations of]] Aaron and Abe are nearly impossible to keep track of, including by the characters themselves.
* ''Film/DownWithLove'': Catcher assumes a false identity in order to trick Barbara into falling in love with him so that he can publicly discredit her. Just when he thinks he's succeeded, she pulls the rug out from under him by revealing that [[spoiler: she knew who he really was the whole time, and she was also operating under a false identity to make ''him'' fall in love with ''her''.]] Ironically, ''her'' plan worked splendidly, but [[spoiler: caused her to fall ''out'' of love with him, so that he has to try a completely new strategy in order to win her back.]]
%%* ''Film/BatmanReturns''%%
* The short film ''Film/TheBloodyOlive'' takes this trope UpToEleven, featuring nine twists altogether.
* ''Film/HouseOfFlyingDaggers'' is a tangled web of intrigue in which pretty much everyone is found to be secretly deceiving or plotting against pretty much everyone else.
* The plot of ''Film/GetShorty'' rapidly escalates into a Gambit Pileup, and remains one until the final resolution; that's really the whole appeal of the movie, unless you'd enjoy an AffectionateParody of Hollywood.
* ''Film/WildThings'', with reveal after reveal, every character shown to betray and kill their erstwhile allies for the benefit of some other ally, who in turn betrays and kills ''them'', and so on. Every sequel strives to [[SerialEscalation escalate]] to make each plot twenty times more convoluted and confusing than the previous film's. Chances are, if you are the protagonist, the antagonist, the victim, a background character... hell, if you're ''in the film'', you are in on the scheme and may be weaving some [[GambitRoulette incredibly complex plans]] of your own.
* ''Film/{{Sleuth}}'' is a play adapted into a movie with only a few characters. The two main characters continually play with each other, psyching the other out mercilessly.
* ''Film/{{Duplicity}}'' pretty much devolves into this. Their primary gambit requires an increasing number of sub-gambits [[spoiler:all of which are rendered moot by [[MagnificentBastard Howard Tully]]'s BatmanGambit that trumps them all]].
* Threatens to happen a couple of times in the ''Film/InfernalAffairs'' films, but it really gets out of control in ''Infernal Affairs II'' with all the maneuvering among Ngai Hao, Wong, Sam, and [[spoiler:Sam's wife Mary]].
* ''Film/{{Maverick}}'' has a doozy. [[BigBad Angel's]] order to keep Maverick away from the big poker tournament turns out to have been sent by [[spoiler:The Commodore]], but that entire plot is a RedHerring. The ''real'' conspiracy is [[spoiler:between Cooper and The Commodore, then The Commodore tries to pull YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness, but ''then'' Cooper and Maverick manage to OutGambit The Commodore and get away with the money.]]
* ''Takers'' has this trope in spades, as there's several gambits that all end up in a very messy collision at the end.
* ''Film/{{Equilibrium}}'' wherein the ruling evil empire causes their best agent to be corrupted so he can lead them to the leader of the noble rebels who allow themselves to be captured and executed because somehow they know that is the only way he will be able to see the leader of the evil empire in person.
* The hapless main characters in ''Film/StrangeDays'' find themselves dragged into the chaotic aftermath of what happens when several would-be master plans have already started crashing into each other and spiraling way out of control.
* The club shootout in ''Film/{{Collateral}}'' devolves into one, in which six different factions are involved, all with wildly varying interests. The Feds think Max is Vincent, and try to arrest him while escorting Lin (Vincent's target) safely out of the building. LAPD Detective Ray Fanning knows something is up and that the Feds are acting prematurely, and tries to help Max. Max just wants to get through the whole thing alive, and also prevent Vincent from killing his mother if he fails. Vincent wants to kill Lin, while using Max as a decoy. Lin's security guards are just trying to protect their boss, are startled by the Feds rushing in with guns, and turn the thing into a shooting spree to start with. Felix's guards think Max is Vincent, and will kill him if things go wrong. [[spoiler:Vincent comes out on top. The Feds are rendered useless by Lin’s bodyguards, Felix's guards are scared off by Vincent, he kills both Lin and his bodyguards, he kills Ray after Ray just escorted Max out of the building, and forces Max to continue driving him to his next target]].
* ''Film/LAConfidential'' involves four different cop's plans with wildly different motivations, and some other characters that take different parts in these four plans. Even those [[spoiler:going for the crime control]] have different plans and betray each other.
* ''Film/TheDamned'' has each member of a German steel family scheming to take over the company and curry favor with the Nazis. Murder, blackmail, backstabbing and other shenanigans ensue with increasingly convoluted results.
* ''Film/TheThieves'' starts as an attempt to heist a diamond from a casino. However, almost everyone involved has an agenda of their own and an elaborate series of double and triple crosses ensues.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/TheRadix'': Everybody (including the Borgias, [=USA=] intelligence agencies, Knights of Malta and {{Corrupt Corporate Executive}}s) is searching for the Radix, an ancient relic of {{Panacea}} power, for different reasons, messing up each other's (and sometimes their own) plans badly.
* Literature/TheCulture novel ''Literature/{{Excession}}'' involves this between the ITG, the Affront, the Culture, Contact, the Peace Makes Plenty, and of course the eponymous Excession.
* Many of the stories in the ''Literature/NightWatch'' series go like this; Gesar and Zabulon both want something and use their own BatmanGambit to get it, generally while another villain is also trying to get what he wants, and while Anton is trying to figure out what the fuck is going on and is sometimes trying to use yet another gambit to achieve his goals, which may or may not just be helping Gesar achieve his, while researching or explaining all of the schemes that the Watches have used in the past, and the the Inquisition comes along and thing get even more confusing.
%%* Every Creator/RaymondChandler story. Ever.
* In ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' book 53: The Answer has Jake's plan involve three separate levels of {{Out Gambitt|ed}}ing, despite only going up against two villains.
* The entire oeuvre of Creator/FyodorDostoevsky. Dostoevsky is likely the most famous pioneer of the Gambit Pileup. The stupendously complex mindgames played by nearly every character in ''Literature/TheBrothersKaramazov'' require several readings and maybe a college course to comprehend at the basic level. ''Literature/CrimeAndPunishment'' plays similar games starring Porifiry Petrovich, whose mindbending "Ah, but [[IKnowYouKnowIKnow if you knew that I knew that one of us was to know"]] arguments drive Raskolnikov to confession and the reader "seven versts" (4½ miles) from St. Petersburg, to a mental institution referenced in the book.
* The original ''Literature/{{Dune}}'' novels have this. Who is manipulating whom? Everyone and everyone, respectively.
* The philosophical themes of ''Literature/WarAndPeace'' suggest that history is not so clean, not specific causes and effects, because everyone is in on the massive Gambit Pileup that is the clusterfuck of history.
* ''Literature/SecondApocalypse'' has master manipulator Kellhus trying to outwit master manipulator Moenghus, while various lesser schemers and an AncientConspiracy make things even more complicated. More discreet schemers may turn up in later revelations.
* Creator/RobertAntonWilson and Robert Shea's ''Literature/{{Illuminatus}}'' trilogy, whose whole ''point'' is a Twenty-Three Thousand Gambit Pileup in the ConspiracyKitchenSink. "Be prepared to make a flow diagram to keep up with everyone's scheme."
* James Clavell's ''[[Literature/AsianSaga Shogun]]''. Nearly every character is scheming something. [[BigGood Toranga]] is scheming to defeat [[ArchEnemy Ishido]] and vice versa, Blackthorne is scheming to defeat Jesuit influence in Japan (and survive), the Jesuits are scheming to convert all of Japan (and kill Blackthorne), and then countless more plots from the supporting cast.
* Every Illuminatus in ''Literature/{{Duumvirate}}'' has his own agenda. There are six thousand Illuminati, some more devious than others. The title characters have no choice but to ''not care about'' what everyone may or may not be plotting, so long as it doesn't affect them directly.
* ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfAmber'', to the point where after any given ten pages of the book, the reader ends up realizing, "Wow! Everything I knew was wrong! Again!" (It doesn't help that they're ''all'' [[AGodAmI immortal demigods]] and most of them [[ScrewTheRulesIMakeThem play by their own rules.)]]
* The entire plot of ''[[Literature/VorkosiganSaga A Civil Campaign]]'' is basically one of these, as the back cover quote suggests.
-->Miles has a cunning plan... Unfortunately [[spoiler:his clone-brother Mark]] and his cousin Ivan also have cunning plans.
** The entirety of ''[[Literature/VorkosiganSaga The Warrior's Apprentice]]'' is ''built'' out of the GambitIndex. Miles, through sheer insane, lying chutzpah and a lot of luck, manages to [[spoiler:take over the ''entire fleet'', all 3,000 people of them, reverse the war, and get out alive with a slight profit]]. And keep in mind, he's ''seventeen''.
** ''The Vor Game'' deserves mention, too, for the several-gambit pileup consisting solely of [[spoiler:Cavilo]]'s previous plans.
* If you thought ''Literature/{{Dune}}'' was complicated, you really need to read ''The Dosadi Experiment''. You more or less have 800 million people, all of which are currently involved in some form of GambitRoulette against everyone else.
* The Literature/{{Ender|sGame}} and Shadow series by Creator/OrsonScottCard, especially the latter. Everyone is plotting for power or position or familial recognition or SOMETHING. Some plotters don't even seem to know what they're plotting for but they do know they're good at it!
* If you thought the movie adaptation of ''Literature/LAConfidential'' was complicated, it has nothing on James Ellroy's novel. All kinds of different schemes involving pornography, heroin, murder, and the mob all collide together, and meanwhile three cops are unknowingly all investigating the entire thing. ''White Jazz'' is pretty much the same, but squeezed into half the space by the removal of every single word Ellroy considered the slightest bit extraneous at the request of his publisher.
* Most of Creator/IsaacAsimov's works can be considered big Gambit Pileups. Literally the entirety of his amalgamated universe (from ''The Complete Robot'' through the ''Empire'' series to ''Literature/{{Foundation}} and Earth'') tells the story of R. Daneel Olivaw's enormous plot that encompasses over 30,000 years of human history and requires more GambitRoulette than you can shake a stick at.
* The ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen'' series. It would be simpler to list those major characters and groups that ''don't'' have some sort of master plan working.
* Scott Lynch's ''[[Literature/GentlemanBastard The Lies of Locke Lamora]]'' and especially its sequels, ''Red Seas Under Red Skies'' and ''The Republic of Thieves''. Perhaps justified given that the main characters are highly-skilled con men, their antagonists are meticulous planners, and that the series has been described as a 'fantasy OceansEleven'.
%%* Every Creator/RobertLudlum novel (excluding posthumous and co-written works).
* ''Literature/HonorHarrington'':
** This trope is in full effect with the Star Empire of Manticore, the Andermani Empire, minor allied partners, the Republic of Haven, the Solarian League, a dozen or so random neutralish planets and especially Mesa and each of them being subdivided into different factions. Mesa's plans really went off the rails when the Winton family was able to build up a large enough navy to fight off the People's Republic of Haven preventing their original plan of Haven forming a pocket empire. Along the way the military technology of the Haven Sector combined with their economic clout mean the Solarian League can't expand too far in that direction without butting heads. Various OFS Governors have different plans, some of them in line with Mesa, some of them desperately trying to cut off Mesa, and don't even get started on the Core Worlds of the SL like Beowulf.
** On top of that the entirety of ''Crown of Slaves'' is one massive pileup: There's at least six major plots running into each other over the course of the book, and by the time the smoke clears one planet has changed owners, another switches sides, at least three major assassinations have taken place and absolutely ''nobody'' (aside from the reader) knows the full story.
* Also done to the extreme in ''Literature/AConspiracyOfPaper''. It's starting to get hard to figure out who ''isn't'' manipulating the main character...
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' is nothing but one very long Gambit Pileup, combining all of the [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters main and minor characters]]' various [[ThePlan plans]], [[XanatosSpeedChess playing]] [[IndyPloy styles]] and {{Gambit Roulette}}s within an AnyoneCanDie setting that likes to [[DidntSeeThatComing throw]] [[OutsideContextVillain curve]]-[[HostileWeather balls]] at even the wary. Naturally, [[OutGambitted Out Gambitting]] frequently happens -- if the trumping gambits manage to work even remotely close to how the “winning” players hoped, that is. And, if the "winning" move isn't factored into somebody else's Plan B.iv.c (revised) to turn into an overall loss or draw [[PyrrhicVictory down the line]], that is. For, unusually for many works, even the simplest of moves (like travelling from A to B) can backfire on the best as easily as on the worst players... yet, not necessarily due to anybody else taking a deliberate hand to stall them. It can just be [[CrapsackWorld Murphy being an utter bastard]] or [[{{Pride}} hubris]] [[HoistByHisOwnPetard calling in a random debt]]. After all, there are [[OutsideContextVillain Outside Context Players]] in the room to stir things outside the general ken up. There are hints, as well, that a few of those may actually have gambits of their own the humans haven't even started properly reacting to. [[BlueAndOrangeMorality If they can even understand them at all, that is.]]
* Used deliberately in the Creator/MickeySpillane novel ''The Twisted Thing''. The killer knows that the murder of a wealthy scientist (done for simple revenge) will lead to everyone else plotting against each other to get their hands on his money, thus obscuring the original crime.
* If there are actually fewer than 30 different {{Batman Gambit}}s going by the various factions in the ''[[Literature/TheWheelOfTime Wheel of Time]]'' series, it would be surprising. A partial list:
** Each of the 13 Forsaken is a [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]] with ChronicBackstabbingDisorder (but varying personal styles and levels of power and competence). In theory they're all on the same side, but for most of the series it was undecided who would be in charge of the rest, and some of the losers still hope to take over.
** Rand is [[BecauseDestinySaysSo prophesied to be]] a DestructiveSavior, so everyone knows that he's important to winning [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt The Last Battle]] but he's proof that the end is nigh and no one is actually happy about being in the same city as him.
** The Aes Sedai, the MutantDraftBoard and the BigGood before Rand himself came along, are [[HeroWithBadPublicity Heroes with Bad Publicity]] and because of this they have deeply ingrained traditions of strongarm tactics and ExactWords (or maybe the causation is reversed).
** Elayne, in addition to ties to both Rand and the Aes Sedai, is a queen who wants to keep her kingdom independent from both those forces and has to get through a civil war before she can claim her mother's throne.
** The Seanchan are TheEmpire and {{Fantastic Racis|m}}ts. They want to conquer the continent all the action is taking place on and enslave the WitchSpecies, and insist on doing this before TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt.
** Also notable in ''The Wheel of Time'' is Daes Dae'mar, which is typically translated to "The Great Game" or "The Game of Houses", and is most widely known to be played in the city of Cairhien, although the Aes Sedai are the true masters of the game. Quite literally, it's a Gambit Pileup, yet simultaneously an inversion, where everyone knows (albeit unofficially) that everyone else is plotting. This makes for hilarious behaviour as the main character of the series, Rand, refuses to play the game, and thus manages to [[CuttingTheKnot play it better than any of them]], as they form plots on the expectation that Rand is playing.
* Creator/LarryNiven has written about entire alien species who do nothing but plot:
** In ''Literature/TheMoteInGodsEye'', the Motie species has evolved into a social order of hive-like clans, where just running a city involves multitudes of contracts, non-aggression pacts and alliances to provide basic services like trash removal and road repair. Unfortunately, Moties have a biological mandate to breed - if they don't reproduce regularly, they die. Eventually, when the population increases to a critical mass, each clan betrays the others to grab the remaining resources, and war breaks out across the entire planet. The war typically smashes Motie civilization entirely (sometimes resulting in the eradication of most life on the planet)... after which the survivors slowly rebuild and start doing the same things again. This cycle has been occurring for over a million years so far.
** The Pak protectors are the smartest organic life in ''Literature/KnownSpace''. But they are biologically compelled to protect their own bloodline at all cost. So again, any alliance between protectors will last only as long as it benefits all parties. Then they start throwing tailored viruses at each other to remove the competition. The Pak planet is also ravaged with war. Protectors make plans that can span over thousands of years, and no 'breeder' minds can hope to follow the layers of plots and counter-plots of a protector's scheme.
** The 'Puppeteers' are a very well named race of self-interested cowards. Each Puppeteer is very intelligent, and commonly uses plots and blackmail as legitimate business tools. Internally, their culture has two political parties constantly vying for dominance. Externally, the Puppeteer attempt to influence all other races found in known space; the Man-Kzin Wars were created to cull out all the more aggressive Kzin to produce a more 'meeker', reasonable population. Puppeteers influenced the human Birth Lotteries to produce a race of 'luckier' humans, so the Puppeteers can 'borrow' human luck for their own purposes. And then there is the case where the core of the galaxy May or May Not be blowing up; it all might be a massive plot to make all the other known space species run away. Then the Puppeteers could double back and claim all the life-sustaining worlds for themselves; they have a population of a trillion to think of.
** All three of these examples show off a trait that Niven considers essential for writing a super-human intelligence: they're all tremendously limited in their goals. This tends to make it harder for the aliens in question to TakeAThirdOption, so a plodding merely-human intellect can conceive the plan, since the author doesn't have to scheme in realtime.
* The first third of ''[[Literature/OutboundFlight Survivor's Quest]]'' has more than a few of these. Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker find that the Empire of the Hand sent a message to them, but the message was stolen and the thief, a mechanic, has disappeared. They track down the source, get it told to them, and fly out to a Chiss ship to be taken to Outbound Flight. There are factions among the Chiss. The "New Republic ambassador" is the mechanic who stole the message. Four stormtroopers and an officer from the Empire of the Hand are there, claiming they were sent as the Skywalkers' escort. A group of aliens show up, claiming to want to pay their respects to Outbound Flight. Then things start happening.
** In the ''[[Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse Corellian Trilogy]]'', [[spoiler:the Sacorrian Triad wants to take over the Corellian Sector, Thrackan Sal-Solo wants to do the same as well as make things unpleasant for Cousin Han]], New Republic Intelligence has its own schemes, the Hunchuzuc Den and the Overden are trying to take advantage of the situation to out-play each other, and Leia Solo simply wants to keep the New Republic together, for kriff's sake. And [[spoiler:keep Bovo Yagen's sun from going supernova]].
** There's one in ''[[ComicBook/XWingSeries The Krytos Trap]]''; a convoy of ships carrying bacta is going to show up, and the New Republic's famed Rogue Squadron is going to meet it and escort it, since both the Empire and Warlord Zsinj are the New Republic's enemies. An Imperial who is just crossing the line from TheDragon to TheStarscream hears of this, doesn't tell [[BigBad his boss]], and sends a squadron of Imperial X-wings painted like the Rogues to hijack the bacta for himself, sending the report to his boss only when it's too late for her to say yes or no. His boss, though, heard of this from the same source and leaks it to Warlord Zsinj. The Rogues are slightly delayed.
** A minor example in ''[[Literature/TheThrawnTrilogy The Last Command]]''. The New Republic goes through a bunch of fuss and bother attempting to convince the Imperials of an impending attack on their Ubiqtorate base at Tangrene, [[KansasCityShuffle while they plan for their real attack at the shipyards of Bilbringi]]. Unfortunately, the opposing military leader, [[MagnificentBastard Thrawn]], isn't fooled at all, [[OutGambitted and is waiting for them when they arrive.]] However, the independent ([[NeutralNoLonger though anti-Imperial at this point]]) Smugglers' Alliance ''is'' fooled, and plans their own strike to obtain what the New Republic is after. Their strike is timed to take place during the Tangrene attack. Their target? ''Bilbringi''. The net effect is that they end up ''inside'' the defenses of the shipyard before the attack, in a perfect position to be a SpannerInTheWorks later on. [[spoiler: Which is the major factor in the New Republic's eventual victory. Even then Thrawn might have pulled off a win if the completely unrelated Noghri rebellion hadn't gone official with his assassination at the same time.]]
** ''Literature/NewJediOrder'' is chock full of these--there are billions of plans in motion. Every planet is full of these gambits. Justified as this is the greatest, most devastating war in tens of thousands of years.
** There are multiple gambits going on in ''Literature/TalesFromJabbasPalace'', all with the same goal; the Bloated One's death. Some are out for revenge, some are just hired assassins, while others are trying to take control of Jabba's gang. A few, like Bib Fortuna, are aware of the other gambits but do nothing. It all leads to the same thing, so why bother? In the end, the ones that come out on top are the [[spoiler: B'Omarr Monks. The palace used to be the order's temple until the criminals started squatting in it, so once Jabba's gone they swoop in and take over, turning some into [[BrainInAJar Brain-Spiders.]]]]
** In ''Literature/{{Scoundrels}}'', Han Solo leads a group that is supposed to steal something back from a crime lord, Avrak Villachor. Unbeknownst to him, Villachor is a member of Black Sun, the galaxy's greatest crime syndicate, and one of his superiors is visiting him. An Imperial agent is around for the latter; he eventually allies himself with the protagonists, but has already set a plan of his own in motion by that time, and Villachor becomes slightly paranoid by everything that's going on. And a few of the Scoundrels happen to have ties to the Rebel Alliance, which may or may not affect the plot as well.
* ''Literature/CodexAlera'' owes a lot of its plot to about 8 duelling chessmasters of varying levels of [[MagnificentBastard compe]][[OutGambitted tence]]. The second book has one four-gambit pileup where the plans sort of blunder into each other without anyone precisely getting OutGambitted. Before ''the first book even starts'', we have at least three {{Magnificent Bastard}}s maneuvering around each other, two different provinces plotting rebellion, an aging First Lord with no heir who only remains in power by being one of the aforementioned {{Magnificent Bastard}}s, a ''very'' complicated sociopolitical/economic situation surrounding the issues of women's rights and slavery, the constant threat of three separate hostile nations, and more [[TheChessmaster Chessmasters]] than you can shake a stick at. Once the series gets going, one of the provinces [[CivilWar moves beyond plotting]], a HordeOfAlienLocusts shows up, [[spoiler:one of the hostile nations invades]], and Tavi comes out of [[FarmBoy nowhere]] as an incredibly brilliant tactician loyal only to the First Lord, [[spoiler:who later turns out to be his grandson, Gaius Octavian]]. And this doesn't even get into Invidia Aquitaine and her ChronicBackstabbingDisorder, WildCard Fidelias, or Bernard and Amara's fondness for acting as a SpannerInTheWorks. It's amazing it's still possible to follow what's going on.
* John Grisham's novel ''Literature/RunawayJury'' is an excellent example. In a trial where the widow of a dead smoker is suing the tobacco company, the defence is doing everything it can to bribe/threaten/blackmail the jurors and the plaintiff attempts this on a smaller extent. Enter our protagonists Nicholas and Marlee, who have a cunning plan to [[spoiler:infiltrate the jury and sell the verdict to the defence for ten million dollars. The defence pay up.]] However, it turns out [[spoiler:Marlee's parents both died of lung cancer and they're doing it to get revenge. Nicholas persuades the jury to sent a plaintiff's verdict and they use the money to short-sell tobacco stocks.]]
* Charles Palliser's ''The Quincunx'' is a post-modern DarkerAndEdgier Dickensian story of a young man trying to gain his inheritance (sort of a cross between ''Literature/BleakHouse'' and ''Nicholas Nickleby''), as plotted by Creator/DavidMamet. The various possible inheritors are plotting one against another, and figuring out what's actually happening is nearly impossible, especially given the first-person {{Unreliable Narrator}}s.
* ''[[Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo 1634: The Bavarian Crisis]]'' is one of these. The author wanted to remind us that history isn't a few great men and a backdrop of grey masses, so every single person has an agenda, and all but a handful of them are hidden. They vary in scope from overthrow fuedalism to get married before the pregnancy shows, but if a shadowy figure is following you, you have no way of knowing which scope is relevant. Once they start interacting, the result is pure chaos.
* K. J. Parker loves this one and is good at making it ''logical'' which seems challenging. In ''Literature/TheScavengerTrilogy'' half the fun is the giddy sense of all those grand plans colliding in the dark.
* In ''Literature/ASnowballInHell'' by Creator/ChristopherBrookmyre, everyone is running a gambit on ''everyone else''. [[BigBad The Black Spirit]] alone is running at least three that are nested into one another.
* In ''Literature/BlackDogs'', The BigBad's EvilPlan to manipulate his son's personality into becoming crueler and more evil (by repressing all his good and gentle qualities) backfires on him when the newer, eviller son plots his own EvilPlan to usurp his father and to cause him to be killed by his own demon.
* The second and third books in Stieg Larsson's ''Literature/MillenniumTrilogy'' probably qualify. The number of government agencies alone that are working against each other is pretty shockingly massive, and then there are all the private investigators and journalists involved in the plot, not to mention Lisbeth herself.
* Brandon Sanderson is also really fond of these. His fans call it the Sanderson Avalanche. [[Literature/MistbornTheOriginalTrilogy The Mistborn trilogy]] is probably the most notable example to date, if only because the plot had the longest to develop. The end of ''Literature/{{Warbreaker}}'' definitely qualifies, as does the end of ''Literature/{{Elantris}}'', and it's no wonder he got picked to ghostwrite the last three books in ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' series (see above entry).
* ''The Way of the World''. Mirabell wants to marry Millament, but needs the consent of Millament's aunt, Lady Wishfort, who hates Mirabell's guts and wants Millament to marry Sir Wilful. Milament herself isn't sold on the idea of marrying ANYONE until halfway through the play, because she wanted to get married without losing any independence, so she draws up a contract with [[spoiler: Mirabell]] to ensure this. He has to agree because he needs her large inheritance that she wouldn't even get until she's married. Lady Wishfort wants to be swept off her feet by a dashing gentleman, which is exploited by Mirabell and later by Fainall (who has been in a pissing contest with Mirabell since his introduction) because both of them want her money. Lady Wishfort becomes Mirabel's UnwittingPawn because she thought it would screw him over, and later willingly becomes it again once Fainall tries to use Mirabell's previois gambit to screw ''her'' over. All this without mentioning Mrs. Fainall and Mrs. Marwood, both married and both claiming to hate men, when in fact they're both in love with Mirabell. Congreve lampshades this with Witwould at the end.
-->''"I understand nothing of the matter. I'm in a maze yet, like a dog in a dancing school."''
* The climax of ''Literature/LonelyWerewolfGirl'' is one huge (and well executed) pileup. See the work's page for details. The sequel, ''Curse of the Wolfgirl'' goes for a more straightforward BatmanGambit though.
* ''Literature/BlackCompany''. Through The Books of the South and The Books of Glittering Stone, you've got interweaving plots by Croaker, Lady, Murgen, the Nyeung Bao, the Radisha, the Pradishah Drah, Smoke, the Shadowmasters, Howler, Soulcatcher, the priests, Mogaba, Blade, Willow Swan, Sleepy, Kina, the Daughter of Night, Narayan Singh, One-Eye, Shivetya, and Goblin. Half the series is figuring out who's trying to do what to whom.
* ''Literature/TheChathrandVoyages'' is right up there with ''Literature/{{Dune}}'' and ''Anime/LegendOfGalacticHeroes''. LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters, almost all of whom have some scheme going, and all stuck together on the same ship. It gets to the point where the heroes have to constantly reevaluate who they can work with depending on whose plan they're trying to stop.
* ''Murder at the President's Lodging'' is a detective story where the murderer kills the unpopular President of the college and frames one of his colleagues. However, another colleague sees part of what happened, and assumes that a fourth colleague is the murderer, and that ''he'' is being framed. So he attempts to frame his suspect. Unfortunately, while doing this, his suspect is alerted, and leaps to the conclusion that the actual murderer is the guilty party and is responsible for this frame-up, and thus he attempts to [[FramingTheGuiltyParty frame the murderer.]] [[UpToEleven Except that the murderer's intended patsy has now become aware of some of the goings on and deduced that the initial witness is the murderer and attempting to frame the murderer, so of course the only thing to do is to frame his suspect.]]
* There is a Franchise/{{Whoniverse}} spinoff, ''Literature/FactionParadox''. Time travel tech is easy to come by. Think you can alter the universe? ''[[ParanoiaFuel You're welcome]] [[TemporalParadox to]] [[MindScrew try]], [[SchmuckBait gentlemen]].''
* The plot of an average ''Literature/SecretCity'' book includes: three Great Houses trying to out-gambit each other and achieve domination, the resident BigBad adding more controlled chaos for some personal gain, [[TheHero Cortes & Co]] going for a big score, Trade Guild making money on all it, [[TheChessmaster Santiaga]] thinking to get the max net gain for his House and exploit a new [[HumansAreSpecial unexpected facet of humankind]], some traitors in one or two fractions joining, as they think, a stronger side, some stupid human thugs considering that they are not being used and Red Hats just bumbling around from one trouble into another. At the end of the book, however, it (usually) collapses into the two sides though the outcomes still are different.
* Most of the major characters in Megan Whalen Turner's beautifully convoluted ''Literature/QueensThief'' series are involved in one of these.
* In the historical novel ''Literature/WingsOfDawn'': Not as often as you'd expect, but once our protagonist leaves Britain, they ''really'' get going...
* In ''Literature/CourtshipRite'', the Kaiel clan have basically been breeding for a better chessmaster. When Aesoe, the clan's Prime Predictor, orders the maran-Kaiel brothers to marry Oelita the Gentle Heretic, he knows they'll try to outgambit him, and he's betting he's still better than they are. What none of them know is that the Mnankrei clan have their ''own'' plans for Oelita and her followers. The Mnankrei may not be quite the chessmasters that the Kaiel are, but they have surprise on their side. Unfortunately, it seems that the innocent courtesans of the Leithe clan may not be so innocent after all, and for once, they may feel the need to interfere with the plans of the great clans. Who would expect that a tiny, beautiful dancer would also be a trained assassin? But--that assassin may have plans of her own...
* At one point in ''Literature/MairelonTheMagician'', five different parties break into Henry Bramingham's library to steal a magical platter on display there for four different reasons. The sheer absurdity of this nearly causes the second party to break out laughing at the arrival of the fifth and get caught. Who actually stole the platter? None of them. A sixth party had stolen the real platter and replaced it with a forgery at least a week before it had entered Bramingham's possession.
* Rayojini and her actions become the focus of a few characters' plots in ''Literature/BuryingTheShadow''. She is unaware of the different factions pulling the strings in her life until the end, or the fact that some of them think killing her might be the best course of action. And of course, Rayo has her own schemes which end up unknowingly going against all of them.
* By the third book of ''Literature/ChaosWalking'' by Patrick Ness, there are two warring human factions, each with a MagnificentBastard at the head trying to win over the other faction, the native species of the planet the humans have colonized that wants to destroy both human factions in revenge for a horrible massacre, a ship of new settlers that will be landing within weeks with powerful weapons that both human factions want to win over, and several wild cards including the main characters Todd and Viola and a scouting ship that arrived early with several nuclear missiles.
* At any given time in Literature/TheNexusSeries, there are at least three different factions with three different plans heading right for a head-on collision.
* ''Causal Angel'', the epic conclusion of ''TheQuantumThief''-trilogy features an enormous pileup of gambits of Joséphine Pellegrini, Jean le Flambeur, the Great Game-zoku, the Kaminari-zoku and the All-Defector hitting each other at light speed, with a few [[SpannerInTheWorks Spanners In The Works]] for a good measure. But what can you expect when collectives of posthumans plot to break the barriers of time and space?
* In ''[[Literature/ElsabethSoesten No Good Deed...]]'' Father Garnerius, Lord Cuncz, and the Prince-Bishop of Bremen all have their own agendas, with Cuncz playing both sides off the other, while Elsabeth and Hieronymus get caught up in the middle.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Alias}}'' becomes a lot like this in its later seasons, when there's the conspiracy behind the conspiracy, and then there's another conspiracy running for x-ty years no-one else knew about, and so on. Also coupled with a few too many instances of the main characters' allegiances being questioned (in most instances even the ''same'' characters over and over again) in season 4.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** ''The Evil of the Daleks'' is largely made up of a series of interlocking plans by the Doctor, Professor Waterfield, and the Dalek Emperor. Upon learning about that last one, a stunned Waterfield summarizes the basic idea in a sentence:
-->'''Waterfield''': While you were doing one thing, they were really making you do another.
** Parodied till it snapped by "The Curse of the Fatal Death". To the point where the first part is nothing but TheReveal "I bribed the architect!"
** In ''The Trial of a Time Lord'', [[spoiler:The High Council wanted to cover their tracks, the Valeyard wanted to take over, the Master wanted the Valeyard out of the way, and the Doctor wanted justice to prevail.]]
** Shows up in ''Journey's End'', with several smaller Gambits acting as [[SpannerInTheWorks Spanners]] to Davros' usual Gambit and the Doctor's customary XanatosSpeedChess.
** ''The End Of Time'' seems to be nothing but this, and it works. There are at least half a dozen Gambits running around, not counting the two or three played out in the first ten minutes.
** The overarching story arc of series 6 is an even bigger pileup between the Doctor, River, and the Silence, of which the Pileup of the previous series' finale is implied to be merely the 'first shot'. The history of an entire species gets used as a weapon, religions and empires get caught in the crossfire, there are {{Doppelganger}}s and temporal paradoxes everywhere, time itself shatters, and Hitler gets punched in the face.
** The entire history of the Earth starts looking like this if you take the long view. The planet only exists because of the Racnoss trying to hide, evolution for the past 12 million years was planned by the Fendahl, the dinosaurs were wiped out by a crashing Cyberman ship, humans won out over other hominids due to Daemon cullings and experiments (which also destroyed at least one Atlantis), Egyptian culture was guided by the Osirians, Inca culture was guided by the Exxilons, Scaroth, last of the Jagaroth manipulated our technological development to help us reach time travel, and from "fire and the wheel" until 1969, the Silence were controlling our society to, among other things, develop space travel and [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking wear business suits]]. Every week we learn of ''another'' comparatively minor event orchestrated by yet ''another'' alien species. Not to mention all the times the Doctor has manipulated history.
** "The Curse of Fenric" has ArcWelding which reveals events from the past two seasons were orchestrated by [[EldritchAbomination Fenric]], who caused the time storm to transport Ace to Iceworld in the future so she could start travelling with the Doctor and eventually help his plan to defeat the Doctor. Fenric is also trying to perform a StableTimeLoop which will create an alternate timeline. However the 7th Doctor claims he took Ace with him as he recognised Fenric's influence. Ace claims it's like a game where only he knows the rules. Though with 7 it is debatable how much he is TheChessmaster or whether he is good at XanatosSpeedChess.
** In the DoctorWhoExpandedUniverse "The Dalek Generation" turns into this. The Daleks are trying to activate some alien planet-changing technology, the Doctor tries to enact a TimeyWimeyBall against them, then it turns out he has been manipulated for most of the book by the Dalek Time Controller who has got him to the right places.
** From BigFinishDoctorWho "Dark Eyes" becomes this, with AntiVillain Straxus working for the Time Lords against [[spoiler:[[FutureMeScaresMe his future self]]]] Kotris and the Dalek Time Controller in a plan to RetGone the other's race with the 8th Doctor and Molly caught up in this plan and assisting each side without knowing it.
* ''Series/TheVampireDiaries''
** It is hard to find someone, hero, villain, or neither that is there just to screw with some of the cast for an episode or 2 and disappear when they are done, it's just one attempt at out gambitting after another. For the first 2 seasons the show followed more of a villain of the week format, but that villain is always either working with or against one of the next villains in line, which combined with the I know you know nature of the more manipulative of the villains and the heroes' attempts to kill them off or otherwise get rid of them, it can get very complicated. This has ultimately culminated thus far into Klaus, who has manipulated the ''entire world'' for over a thousand years to various ends.
** In "Homecoming", almost every single character has their own plan and agenda.
* ''Series/TheXFiles.'' An alien race that was the original inhabitant of Earth has returned to reclaim it by infesting humans with a sentient virus that turns them into slave drones and ultimately kills them. They strike a deal with a syndicate representing the Earth's superpowers to help breed a race of alien-human hybrids that are immune to the virus to help preserve the human race. Only the syndicate's actual plan is to use the alien DNA to ultimately create a vaccine that would nullify the virus to all humans. Only the aliens' virus doesn't just kill humans; it mutates into an alien being that gestates inside the deceased host like an incubator. And there's also another alien resistance force looking to destroy both sides. And that's just the first 5 1/2 seasons.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'' is slightly less complex than most examples here, but it definitely tries. Every major character has at least one major scheme going on that the other races (hell, often the other members of their own race) don't know about. Every ambassador has their personal agenda, a possible house/clan agenda and then their government's agenda. Then two SufficientlyAdvancedAlien species show up and use these against each other. The episode ''Signs and Portents'' starts to show the various plans and goals people are working towards with flashbacks 3 seasons later to this episode showing how the plans come to fruition. Said {{Sufficiently Advanced Alien}}s have likely spent literally [[spoiler:''millions of years'' enacting GambitRoulette against one another, using what by now probably amounts to hundreds of less advanced species as proxies in a war of ideas that essentially boils down to a dick-waving contest]].
-->'''G'Kar''': Let me pass on to you the one thing I've learned about this place: No one here is exactly what he appears. Not Mollari, not Delenn, not Sinclair... and not me.
* In ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', the double episode "Improbable Cause/The Die is Cast" starts just like a normal episode with Garak's shop blowing up. Odo almost immediately finds out the power line was rigged to overload, identifies the detonator, and interrogates a suspect. The suspect is indeed an assassin, but works with poison instead of bombs. They plant a beacon in his ship and let him go, but he doesn't get very far as his ship explodes. As it was a Romulan bomb, Odo calls the [[SecretPolice Romulan Tal Shiar]], and they freely admit they assassinated him, but didn't know what he was doing on the station. Odo then meets with a Cardassian spy who owes him and finds out that five of Garak's coworkers from his time at the Cardassian Obsidian Order died at the day of the explosion from natural causes and accidents. Then it gets complicated.
%%* Happens once in a while on ''Series/{{Hustle}}''.
* Made fun of in the ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' skit about "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6tAW7bbnAU Lemming of the BDA]]".
* ''Series/TheSarahConnorChronicles'' has Cameron, the reprogrammed Terminator who is more advanced than others [[spoiler:and may have some hidden programming and/or be defective]]; Cromartie, whose mission is the most straightforward, to kill John Connor; Catherine Weaver, CEO of [=ZieraCorp=] and [[spoiler:a liquid metal Terminator]] who recruits Agent Ellison to find ''another'' Terminator; as well as Sarah and John, who simply want to stop [=SkyNet=] from being made, and then you have the running temporal war between future John Connor's human resistance and [=SkyNet's=] time-hopping Terminators as they each try to foil, subvert, or eliminate each other. Each character seems to have their own plans for the future and we don't even know what most of them are. One gambit was in play for most of the second season without anyone knowing about it: [[spoiler:Jessie and Riley's gambit to make John distrust Cameron.]] This gambit in turn ''splits'' into two when [[spoiler:Riley realizes that Jessie was trying to get Cameron to kill Riley to force the division between John and Cameron.]]
%%* This pretty much sums up Volumes 3 and 4 of ''Series/{{Heroes}}''.
* ''Series/{{Survivor}}'' has become a veritable ''junkyard'' for this trope, with new players and alliances contributing to the ever-growing heap of wreckage.
** ''Survivor'' is all about the Gambit Pileup. When you have 16 or 24 people are competing against one another for a million dollars it's bound to happen, since everyone has their own plan. While in the original seasons there wasn't a lot of it (one player voted people alphabetically and others decided to just use that to their advantage), in later seasons the art of manipulation has changed to the point where you can't get anywhere without lying, backstabbing or plotting. For example:
-->''Male A'' is in the dominant alliance, but doesn't like ''Male B'' so creates a secret alliance to vote him out.
-->''Female A'' catches on and tries to warn ''Male B'', but ''Male A'' convinces ''Male B'' that ''Female A'' is trying to tear them apart in order to win
-->''Male A'' feels more secure with ''Male B'' after they both joined together to vote out''Female A'', leaving his secret alliance in the dust.
-->''Male C'' and ''Female B'' of the secret alliance decide to take out ''Male A'' in revenge, who enlist the help of ''Female C'' who is close to ''Male B''.
-->''Female C'' betrays ''Male B'' and votes out ''Male A'', then turns traitor on ''Male C'' and ''Female B'' and joins with ''Male B'' again, but then ''Male B'' is voted out and ''Female C'' reveals she was only spying on ''Male A'' to learn more about ''Male D'' who was plotting to take them all out.
* ''Series/PrisonBreak'' tends to do this at times. Season 3 and 4 go on a rampage with this trope.
* An episode in the third season of ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment'' has each of the characters in the family teaching each other lessons in the form of elaborate scenes they set up using Latino painters who moonlight as actors, sound effects [=CDs=], and two different amputees.
** In another episode, Buster wants to get drugs for his girlfriend by asking George Michael to buy pot for him, Michael suspects that George Michael is buying drugs and decides to set up an elaborate plan to catch George Michael buying drugs and teach him a lesson that DrugsAreBad by staging a drug bust using GOB's stripper cop ensemble (whom GOB owes money) and fake drug dealers. A ''real'' drug dealer shows up and thinks that George Michael and GOB really want to buy marijuana, and a shootout ensues when cops (not the stripper cops) arrive to ambush the real drug dealers. During the firefight, a man loses his arm, and Michael realizes that the entire thing was orchestrated by George Sr., who knew about the fake drug bust and hired the one-armed man he used to teach Michael, Buster, GOB and Lindsey lessons when they were children to teach Michael a lesson about teaching his children lessons.
* ''Series/KamenRiderKabuto''. A group of sociopaths with powers, a large organization and the bad guys generally have their plans collide several times over the course of the series. Then there's Tendou, who's one step ahead of all ''that''. And meanwhile, poor Kagami finds himself the target or casualty of nearly all of them. Even AFTER he TookALevelInBadass.
* ''Series/{{House}}'' episodes often degenerate into this, with the title character manipulating one character into doing something, said character manipulating back, only to turn out that this was House's plan all along, which was in turn the plan of ''another'' character. And that's when things are simple.
* Essentially the driving force of every ''Series/{{Lost}}'' season since [[MagnificentBastard Ben Linus]] showed up. Somehow, it hasn't completely collapsed, mainly because it's more of a 10-Gambit Pileup than a 30. Recently, Locke was [[spoiler:being manipulated by Ben who was being manipulated by Jacob's nemesis who is being manipulated by Charles Widmore, who may be manipulated by Sawyer, ''all'' of which may be intstrumented by the spirit of the island itself.]] Sheesh!!
* Found to a certain extent in ''Series/TheShield'', especially when you get to Season 5 where you have Vic Mackey, Lt Kavanagh, David Aceveda and Shane Vendrell all working their own agendas.
* ''Series/{{Eureka}}'' contains this trope quite often - the episode with the dreams that killed, and Martha the drone are examples. Martha, for one, was [[spoiler:made near-invincible by her creator's wife, and then remote controlled by Larry, causing 'her' to lose control, turn invisible, and terrorize the town]].
* A two-part episode of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', appropriately titled "Gambit", gets convoluted to the point where Picard admits to Riker, "I have difficulty remembering whose side I'm on". There are no less than five players in the end: the leader of a group of artifact thieves, Picard (in disguise) and [[FakeDefector Riker]] (running separate but allied plots), Data (in command of the Enterprise, pursuing them), and a Vulcan agent [[spoiler:who was actually a member of the extremist sect she claimed to oppose]].
* The Gambit Pileup is the sum total of ''Series/AlloAllo''. It's nine seasons of at least four groups trying to steal ''one'' painting and several other plot {{MacGuffin}}s. Add in the British Airmen, the Colonel's gold, the ''second'' paintings. On top of that there's René's affairs, the occasional battle between the French and Communist resistances, and René's attempts to just stay neutral in the middle of all of this (and while trying to avoid the advances of Leutenant Gruber).
* Played for laughs in an episode of ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}'' in the episode "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Downn," one of the few times ''anything'' was played for laughs on that show. Roslin suspects Adama of being a Cylon, Adama has brought back Tigh's wife Ellen, whom he suspects is a Cylon. Both of them order Baltar to immediately test their suspect without the other knowing, causing tests to be stopped and restarted multiple times. To top it all off, it isn't long before Tigh suspects Adama of sleeping with Ellen. When it all finally comes to a head, HilarityEnsues as one of the darkest and most depressing shows in recent memory degenerates into pure domestic farce.
* The majority of ''Series/YesMinister'' episodes consisted of something to this effect - mainly Hacker and Sir Humphrey trying to out-Gambit each other, but everyone had their own agenda. Even Bernard, on occasion.
* ''Series/TheThickOfIt'' provided a glorious example with the hour-long special episode, ''Spinners and Losers''. In the chaos following the Prime Minister's resignation, everyone spies opportunities to better their position and [[HilarityEnsues all hell breaks loose]]: [=MPs=] launch leadership bids, spin doctors launch [[ManipulativeBastard smear campaigns]] to derail those bids, aides [[ProfessionalButtKisser suck up]] to the potential new leaders, everyone strives to [[IKnowYouKnowIKnow keep their dastardly plots from everyone else]] and numerous {{spanner|InTheWorks}}s get thrown into the works. Rising tensions lead to paranoia, {{Angrish}} and even a FoodFight... before they discover that for all but [[MagnificentBastard one man]], their plotting was [[AllForNothing for nothing]].
* The second season finale of ''Series/{{Weeds}}'' involves blackmail, double-crossing, assassination, and theft, all over a few bags of weed.
* This is pretty much the normal state of affairs in ''Series/TheTudors''. And while most of the characters are trying to increase their power within England, Henry VIII is trying to increase ''England's'' power (and thus his own) within Europe while other kings and emperors try to maximize their power.
* The three part ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' episode "Look at the Princess" turns into one of these - Crichton accidentally stumbles on a plot by the Princess's younger brother to take the throne from his sister, the brother is actually being manipulated by a Scarran, Scorpius' plan to capture Crichton goes up against this, and the brother's fiance turns out to be a Peacekeeper deep-cover agent planning to assassinate her fiance should he take the throne. Then Rigel decides to pose as the Queen's EvilChancellor...
* ''Series/{{Leverage}}'': "The Rashomon Job." It's five years before the team's founding, meaning each thief is an independent operator after the MacGuffin. Each has a really good plan to get their mitts on it using their particular specialty. Each one manages to screw up each others' attempts to get the MacGuffin in the most spectacular way possible. In the end: [[spoiler: Nate, who was working for the insurance company, exposes the MacGuffin as a fraud. The art thefts were done by the curator, who had an antiquities smuggling "side business."]] In the present, Nate uses the incident as an Aesop about how the crew is a lot better working with one another than against.
* The Canadian crime drama ''Series/{{Intelligence 2006}}''. In the first season, especially, about half a dozen characters would be running their own gambits against one another simultaneously.
* ''Series/TwentyFour''. So, it goes (more or less) like this: in the first season, there's a conspiracy formed by Serbian extremists to assassinate the most popular Senator in the California Presidential Primary, which involves two separate moles inside the Los Angeles Counter Terrorist Division (one of whom is unaware of the other's mole status), a government agent being used against his will, several different assassins (including a woman who turns out to be plotting her own side gambit with her lesbian lover to split the money she gets from her job) and a mastermind who was thought killed in a black-ops mission several years before the events of the series. The second season has a L.A.-based terrorist group, another group of terrorists led by a foreign extremist, a private military contractor, the President's ex-wife and a German terrorist/businessman team (who are revealed to be the employers who contacted the final mole from the first season) all enacting gambits within the same 24-hour period. The third season has a soldier involved [[ContrivedCoincidence with the black-ops mission from Season 1]] returns to Los Angeles and tries to deploy a virus throughout the city, using the help of Columbian druglords (who are trying to run their own game in L.A.) and one of the aforementioned CTU moles from the previous season (who is working for an unknown employer and executing her own plan). The fifth season involves a shadowy cabal of government executives trying to assassinate key figures who've foiled their plans in previous years - but wait! They're controlling the President, who has his own agenda - BUT WAIT! It turns out in the sixth season that the leader of this cabal is Jack's brother, and his father is the one pulling the strings because he's working with the Chinese government - ''[[OverlyLongGag BUT WAIT!!!]]'' It turns out that all of these people were being controlled by another man who organized the events of the last three seasons. This is ignoring the fact that there are moles in every season - some of whom are secretly working to aid the main characters, some of whom are working for the terrorists and some who have their own motives. Did you get all that?
* ''Series/{{Community}}'' :
** Spoofed in [[Recap/CommunityS2E09ConspiracyTheoriesAndInteriorDesign "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design"]]. The episode culminates in Jeff, Annie, a drama professor, and the Dean shooting all of each other with prop guns; all of them were shot at least once and there were something like 4-5 different plans involved. The final gambit was [[spoiler:supposed to teach all of them an Aesop about not using prop guns to shoot each other.]]
--> '''Annie''': When you conspire with everyone you come across, you're not really conspiring with anyone. You're just doing random crap.
** In a less dramatic example, in "[[Recap/CommunityS2E19CriticalFilmStudies Critical Film Studies]]", while the rest of the group tries to turn Abed's birthday into ''Film/PulpFiction'', Abed [[spoiler:tries to turn it into ''Film/MyDinnerWithAndre''.]]
* Season Three of ''Series/SonsOfAnarchy'' has everybody trying to screw everybody else over, SAMCRO, SAMBEL, Agent Stahl, two factions of the Real IRA, Charming PD, just EVERYBODY. [[spoiler: SAMCRO wins.]]
** Season Two had SAMCRO in the middle of multiple interconnected gambits run by two allied groups of white supremacists, a rival biker gang and SAMCRO's gun running IRA partners. On top of that the ATF and the Deputy Police Chief were running their own gambits and some pornographers also got into the mix. SAMCRO had to figure out a way to have the various groups fight each other so they could outgambit them before the club was destroyed and the protagonists all ended up in jail or dead.
* Like [[Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire its source material]], ''Series/GameOfThrones'' is made of this trope. Everyone is scheming either to control the Iron Throne or fulfill their own agendas.
* [[Series/TheMentalist Patrick Jane v. Red John]] at the end of Season 3. Never mind the fact that [[spoiler:the guy who we all thought was Red John was just another member of his network.]]
* The backstory to the ''Series/MurdochMysteries'' episode "Buried Treasure" involves two Canadian government officials, during UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar, secretly sending gold bullion to the Confederacy, with the aid of two Confederate officers. One of the Confederate officers was a Union spy plotting to expose the conspiracy, one of the government men was plotting to steal the gold for his own enrichment, and the other one, whose idea it was in the first place, was plotting to stash the gold elsewhere because he'd realised there was a Union spy.
* ''Series/{{Revenge}}'': Most of Emily's plots involve manipulating people into manipulating each other.
* In the fifth season of ''Series/TrueBlood'', each member of the Authority is trying to execute a certain plot. As more and more Chancellors (and with them, their plans) vanish, the final episodes see [[DarkMessiah Bill]] and [[BigBadWannabe Salome]] pitted against one another, both trying to secure full leadership of the Authority and their position as the One True Leader chosen by [[BiggerBad Lilith]], while still convincing the other they are supporting ''them''. In the end, [[spoiler:Bill pretends to serve Lilith's blood to Salome, but [[GambitRoulette switches the actual blood with silver-tainted blood]]. As Bill expected Salome fails to notice the silver in her haste to consume the blood. It incapacitates the 2,000 year old vampire allowing Bill to get the upper hand on her and stake her - Salome is masterfully OutGambitted.]]
* ''Series/EarthFinalConflict'' had this as a major theme for most of the series. Most Taelons had their own, often violently conflicting, agendas, as do many of the human characters, and most of them have the resources to pursue those agendas.
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest'' features two parts of this. The first is the power struggles between the various organized crime groups: [[DirtyCop HR]], the [[TheMafiya Russians]], the [[TheMafia Five Families]] and [[TheChessmaster Elias]]. On top of that there is the various groups that want the machine: [[NebulousEvilOrganisation Decima]], [[GovernmentAgencyOfFiction Northern Lights]] backed up by the CIA, [[TheCracker Root]], and in season 3 [[spoiler: [[WellIntentionedExtremist Vigilance]]]]. On top of those is the non-corrupt NYPD, primarily [[SympatheticInspectorAntagonist Carter]] with help from [[TheAtoner Fusco]], and the [[CIAEvilFBIGood FBI]] who is both trying to go after the organized crime groups as well as find [[VigilanteMan Reese]] and connect him to illegal CIA operations(which is actually his work for Team Machine). This is in addition to [[WeHelpTheHelpless Team Machine]].
* ''KeyAndPeele'' do a sketch parodying this.
-->A: Looks like we've got a stand-off.
-->B: Except that our sniper has had a bead on you since you walked in.
-->A: Except that my drone has had your sniper in it's sights all day.
-->B: You mean the drone our hacker just took over?
-->A: You mean the hacker who's wife I just kidnapped?
-->B: You mean the wife who filed for divorce last week?
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Manhua]]
* The ''Literature/RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms'' [[PerspectiveFlip reinterpretation]] ''Manhua/RavagesOfTime'' outdoes just about every other example on this list, with the main characters coming up with incredibly complex, multilayered plans, that often predict each others steps with incredible accuracy, to the point where the characters seem literally psychic. Even the MINOR characters come up with what would normally be seen as competent strategies, but for the more important ones, it gets to the point where you swear that they have to be able to see into the future. You literally have whole arcs where it's completely a back and forth between plans, [[IKnowYouKnowIKnow with one strategist predicting the other strategist predicting him predicting them etc.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Music]]
* The Franchise/EvilliousChronicles. In the Clockwork Lullaby alone, [[WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds The Clockworker's Doll]] is planning to create {{Utopia|JustifiesTheMeans}}, while [[MagnificentBastard MA]] is plotting something giant that hasn't been revealed yet. [[TheHedonist The Master of the Graveyard]] is plotting a [[TheStarscream Starscream]] against everyone else, [[AngstySurvivingTwin Waiter]] is trying to be with [[{{God}} Irregular]] , who the Clockwork [[ArtisticLicenseBiology Doll is pregnant with]], [[TokenHuman Gammon]] is ''also'' plotting something unclear, and Gear doesn't really care. And that isn't even getting into [[MagnificentBastard Gallerian]]...
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Mythology & Religion]]
* In Judaism, (as well as Christianity and Islam which inherited the moral and theological traditions of Judaism), the God Yahweh always comes out ahead in any Gambit Pileup ''every single time''. Thats because rather than making a single absolute plan, He's got a [[XanatosSpeedChess single endgoal in mind that He's working toward.]] Of course no one is going to beat an omnipotent and omniscient opponent.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Opera]]
* ''Theatre/TheMarriageOfFigaro'' is a stage comedy and a comic opera. The valet Figaro wants to marry the maid Susanna. Count Almaviva wants use his purported feudal right of a lord to bed a servant girl on her wedding night before her husband can sleep with her. Figaro schemes to prevent this. The play gets more and more confusing as more people join the conflict. Countess Almaviva desires her husband, who neglects her. Marcellina claims that Figaro promised to marry her. The page Cherubino is after every women and music master Basilio is gossiping around.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Most multiplayer strategy board games end up like this; particularly ''TabletopGame/{{RISK}}'' is very prone to them, where Green pretends to be trying to take all of North America, but that's only to catch Blue off their guard so that they can be invaded from the south by Red, who they thought was their ally... But then Red decides to betray Green as well, as they'd rather have Africa for themselves. It can be even more fun if you have a player who is enough of a MagnificentBastard to pull this off in plain view of the other players! [To one player]: "Go ahead, attack him, I'll back you up". [To player being attacked]: "Don't worry, I'm just lying to him so he'll attack you" [To the first player] " ... or AM I??".
* Risk is ''nothing'' compared with ''{{Diplomacy}}'', which is designed to eliminate chance and rule manipulation in favor of seven players trying to OutGambit at varying depth and complexity on each other at the same time, making for a mind-blowing maximum potential of a Forty Two Gambit Pileup. Not surprising, since the game is meant to reflect the RealLife Gambit Pileup that led to UsefulNotes/WorldWarI (see below).
** The Game of Thrones Board Game is based on the {{Diplomacy}} formula. Stark, Baratheon, Lannister, Greyjoy, Tyrell and Martel duke it out and as there can only be one winner you will sooner or later betray ''someone''. Usually it's on the same turn you get tricked and backstabbed by your own acquaintances. [[spoiler:And in the end, House Stark wins.]]
* Or the 70's board game of ''{{Dune}}''. All the factions have different win-conditions, and if a full round goes by without anyone breaking or forming an alliance, the whole thing descends into the War of Assassins...
* ''Fluxx'', a card game where the rules are part of playing the game. There are four types of cards: ''rules'' that dictate how the game is played at that particular moment, ''goals'' that describe how a player might win, ''keepers'' that are usually collected to fulfill a goal, and ''actions'' that do things like allow played rules and goals to be revoked. Gameplay is thus a crapshoot involving either attempts to arrive at the current goal, or attempts to change the system. Depending on the goal, winning can be as simple a matter as having ten cards in your hand, to ''making toast'' by having the Bread card and the Toaster card. Winning is also a matter of making sure that cards that you play don't immediately benefit another player.
** Some players positively revel in the GambitRoulette aspects and play a dizzying array of contradictory and/or complicated rules to cover what they're actually trying to get done.
** To say nothing of ''TabletopGame/{{Chrononauts}}'', another game from the same designer. Every player is a time traveler with a home timestream, a mission and the same job: to fix the time stream. So: did that guy just patch a paradox because that patch is part of his timeline, or did he do it to get an extra card, or does he know you need that year "normal"? Did you play an artifact because it's part of your mission, or are you keeping it from him, or do you plan on selling it later? Is he asking for Memos (read: cards that cancel plays; think counterspells in ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'') because he's being honest about the victory he's about to get, or because he's set to Memo your Memo, or because he wants you to waste a Memo on a useless play?
* The ''TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness'' took this almost to the point of parody. The Jyhad in ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'' is run, depending on your sourcebook, by one of about thirty different sources ranging from Caine to Tzimisce to {{God}}, or it may just be a giant practical joke pulled by Malkav through his HiveMind descendants, or... The New World of Darkness takes a giant step away from this - now there's only a giant chain of conspiracies if the Storyteller says there is.
* ''TabletopGame/OverTheEdge''. Get the main book. Look at the chart that shows you haow all the various conspiracies and factions inter-relate. Just look at it. Yeah.
* The various {{Board Game}}s and CollectibleCardGame versions of ''Illuminati'', by Steve Jackson Games, is the Gambit Pileup as beer and pretzels entertainment. It's inspired by the aforementioned trilogy, so that's not surprising.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'':
** [[EldritchAbomination Chaos God]] Tzeentch is unique in that it ''deliberately'' creates Gambit Pileups. Being a god of change and fundamental disorder, Tzeentch literally engineers its plots and plans to the point where they will outright conflict with one another. Not only is foiling one plan probably what it wanted you to do all along, but it probably also set in motion different aspects of seventeen other plans at the same time, any of which might in turn be derailing a dozen ''other'' plots by Tzeentch. But mostly it just does it purely for the sake planning, as if any of its plans were to actually succeed it would [[PuffOfLogic cease to exist]].
** And you have to take into account that in addition to Tzeentch, the Farseers, the Deceiver, and quite possibly the dead-but-dreaming God Emperor of Humankind are all manipulating each other into Gambit Pileups lasting millions of years.
** The Soul Drinkers chapter were involved in one of these right before their rebellion. An Administratum bureaucrat wanted a space station secured quickly, the Soul Drinkers wanted to reclaim their Chapter's holiest relic, the Adeptus Mechanicus wanted that same relic for back-engineering, and [[spoiler:Abraxes, Architect of Fate, Engineer of Time, Daemon Prince of Tzeentch, wanted someone to kill the Daemon Prince Ve'Meth for him]] -- and pretty much everyone was carrying the IdiotBall in the belief that everyone else was afraid of them. The fact that the Soul Drinkers were shortly declared Excommunicate Traitoris (which includes a shoot-on-sight mandate and the complete deletion of all records pertaining to them) demonstrates how arch-cosmologically it ''sucks'' to be in a position where all thirty of the plots are at your expense.
%%* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' is designed to be this.
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'':
** As a general rule of thumb, any creature that has a lifespan greater than that of an average human being in ''TabletopGame/{{Eberron}}'' is TheChessmaster. You have at least five entire organisations made up ''entirely'' of these. They don't get along. At least three of them are practically immortal and pull GambitRoulette that can take ''centuries'' to unfold. One of them exists on another plane of existence where time is greatly slowed relative to the Material Plane, a fact they frequently use to spend ''weeks'' planning their next move while only a few hours pass in the real world. And if that's not bad enough, you've got the ''mortal'' {{Magnificent Bastard}}s to deal with, who may not have goals as lofty as complete cosmic domination but are still spinning their dangerous schemes none the less.
** ''TabletopGame/{{Planescape}}'': More mysteries than you can shake a stick at, more conspiracies than you can imagine. We have demon lords of all shapes and sizes all plotting against each other and their celestial counterparts. We have the Factions and the Lady of Pain and well, basically everyone is plotting against everyone else, or claiming to manipulate everyone else. The module ''Faction War'' is a spectacular example of what happens when these collide...
** Similarily the ''TabletopGame/{{Ravenloft}}'' campaign setting. The ''Grand Conjuction'' series ended up in a three-way Gambit Pileup between Azalin, Strahd and Inajira, all of this possibly orchestrated by the mad seer Hyksosa...
** This is the soul and essence of ''TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms''. Everyone and their mother is running all kinds of incredibly complicated plots: Elminster, the Harpers, the Seven Sisters, Zhentil Keep, the Red Wizards, the Shades, the dark elves, etc., etc., etc., up to and including the gods themselves. Ed Greenwood once [[http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/fr/20010314b wrote a little article]] on how catching {{Player Character}}s in crossblunder of several low-end secret societies can be used to liven up a game between bigger plot hooks.
--->'''Laeral''': Did you not know? Other places grow corn, or barley, but here in hard-paved Waterdeep, we have healthy crops too. We grow conspiracies. (''Silverfall'')
** And that's not even getting into what the more imaginative (and/or sadistic) DM's can pull. "Okay let me get this straight... Our band was hired to stop a massive gang war that was instigated by a group of cultists; but the cultists were just a front by a mafia organization that wanted to weed out competition and then absorb the remainders; the mafia itself is part of an Illuminati-like organization with a total of twelve families, that want to maintain order by controlling all crime; but two of the "families" are actually the intelligence ministers of two separate and opposing kingdoms that want to use the turmoil to take over the world; but one of the REAL crime families knows about this and wants to let them run their game, then kill them and take over the whole thing solo; then throughout all of this there's a necromancer that wants to use the death and chaos as part of a ritual to resurrect a not-quite-dead insane god. Well, it's a good thing we were able to bust it all u--- wait, why is the rogue running into that tomb? And where did the arcane key and sacrificial dagger we got off that crazy necromancer go? .... OhCrap."
* ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}''. You've got the AAA megacorps scheming to consolidate and expand their power, the AA corps scheming to become [[MegaCorp AAAs]], and the governments of the world trying desperately to hold on to whatever power they have left. And then there's the dragons... and the insect spirits... and a million other entities all trying to control everything. And you're a rag-tag group of freelance covert-ops mercenaries caught in the middle of it all, offering your services to the highest bidder. Sound like fun? You don't know the half of it, chummer.
* ''Mafia / Werewolf'' is built on this trope. The simplest level of play is a "ignorant majority vs. hidden minority" paranoia game where the minority team switches between killing the opposing team and tricking them into offing themselves. What happens when the moderator starts introducing third-party and double-agent roles? [[http://www.epicmafia.com/instruction/characters It starts getting epic.]]
* ''Cutthroat Caverns'' is completely based on this trope. The player with the most prestige still alive at the end wins, so players will try to allow the winning players to die, while still keeping the party strong. When players die, the difficulty of the dungeon stays the same, so players really mess with each other to kill the monsters, while letting the winners' resources run dry.
* Even outside the normal uses, ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' has a game mode based completely around this. Normally ''Archenemy'' is played with one player as an EvilOverlord with a special deck that represents their machinations, and the opponents as a team of regular players. However in the ''Super Villain Rumble'' variant, ''everyone'' has such a deck.
** Free-for-all multiplayer Magic is mostly made of this. Regular Magic is mostly about strengthening your board position and wearing down your opponent through whatever method your deck prefers. In multiplayer Magic, it's a lot more political. Can you really trust Player A to keep to his word and finish off Player B, or will he change his mind and gun for you instead? Is the guy playing the combo deck really worried about the burn deck trying to kill him, or is he actually ''trying'' to get his life total down low for [[http://gatherer.wizards.com/pages/Card/Details.aspx?multiverseid=193657 some reason?]] Is that guy with seven cards in hand screwed for spells, or is he just waiting until everybody else finishes each other off so he can clean up the mess? In multilplayer, it's almost as important to give the appearance of weakness as it is to strengthen your position, because if you seem too strong, you're just painting a target on yourself.
** The original Ravnica block's story involved ploys by at least half the Guilds, with special focus on the Dimir and [[spoiler:Azorius]], to control/conquer/destroy Ravnica. This led to a hilarious scene where Agrus Kos[[spoiler:'s ghost]] has infiltrated the Simic to find out how they're tied to Szadek's plans, only for Momir Vig to begin {{Monologuing}} about his own, completely independent bid for world domination.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-handed_chess Four-handed chess]], or 4-way chess, is like this, especially if a singles game is being played.
* A frequent occurrence in ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}''. Schemes by the Yozis, the Deathlords, TheFairFolk, a surprising number of mortals, gods, and Exalts, and the player characters, have a habit of slamming into each other with a noise like a shipment of kitchenware falling down a hill.
-->'''Holden Shearer''': [[AuthorAppeal I like watching complicated xanatos wheels roll into one another and produce complete pandemonium]] [[DidntSeeThatComing because of small, niggling details their architects overlooked or weren't aware of]]. My chapter[[note]]of ''Return of the Scarlet Empress''[[/note]] reflects this.
* The ''TabletopGame/BattleTech'' backstory and novels are built on this trope. Michael Stackpoole's first series, the ''Warrior Trilogy'' has at least ''seven'' plans going on, interacting and both supporting and interfering with each other, and this is just one single book series out of over 100. XanatosSpeedChess is almost a political survival trait in this universe.
* An adventure seed for ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}} Fantasy'' is expected to spiral into this. It starts with a bunch of inexplicable fires, and as the [=PCs=] investigate, they discover ''too many leads''. The local Brotherhood of Fire Mages is having an internal fight, the ThievesGuild is starting a protection racket, the local [[WeirdTradeUnion Fighter's Guild/fire department]] is trying to justify its existence (so ''another'' protection racket)...
* The SystemsMalfunction universe is rife with this, which is not surprising considering the dozens of competing factions which are constantly scheming against each other. There are even ''multiple'' secret shadowy conspiracies attempting to control galactic society, and each other.
* The Avalon Hill boardgames ''Third Reich'' and ''Advanced Third Reich'', when played by experienced wargamers, consist of IKnowYouKnowIKnow {{Xanatos Gambit}}s right up to the moment when the first 2:1 attack, which both sides expect to succeed 97% of the time, inevitably fails. The resulting Gambit Pileup turns the remainder of the game into XanatosSpeedChess.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* Theatre/CyranoDeBergerac: This is a play who mixes {{Farce}} and {{Tragedy}} with great success. Given is a farce, there are a lot of ASimplePlan, UnwittingPawn and SpannerInTheWorks, but given is also a Tragedy, PlayingCyrano, one of the few DespiteThePlan, it’s GoneHorriblyRight and dooms the protagonists.
* [[TheZerothLawOfTropeExamples Shakespeare's]] ''The Merry Wives of Windsor'' includes multiple plots for revenge, marriage, and profit all coming to a collision in the middle and at the end.
* ''Theatre/TheLionInWinter''. King Henry wants John to be the next King. Queen Eleanor wants it to be Richard. Geoffrey wants it for himself, and plots with John to betray Henry to King Phillip of France while simultaneously plotting against them with Richard. Phillip, meanwhile, wants to hurt Henry for disrespecting his own father for so many years and so plots with and against the rest of them simultaneously. And so on and so forth.
* The play ''Deathtrap'' has so many gambits throughout the entire play, but they collide in a particularly surprising [[WhamShot Wham Shot]] at the end of Act I: [[spoiler: After Sidney and Myra have spent the entire act engineering ever more complicated gambits trying to murder Clifford and then disposing of his body, Clifford's dead body springs to life, Myra dies of a heart attack as a result, and Clifford & Sidney reveal that they have been lovers and actually in cahoots to kill Myra the whole time.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'' expansion ''Mysteries of Westgate'' is like this, and ends with a successive series of bad guys all claiming to be the master villain, and gloating how they were secretly manipulating the previous master villain, who was secretly manipulating the previous previous master villain, etc.
* For that matter, how about ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'' itself? The King of Shadows, Garius, Zeeaire, Ammon Jerro, Sydney Natale, Lord Nasher, Captain Brelaina and Axle all execute their own plans that clash with those of the others surprisingly often. Almost the entirety of the first two acts is spent on figuring out who's behind what.
* An attempt to explain ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'': Essentially, all the kingdoms fighting are either [[spoiler:being manipulated by Lynx]] (who is the representation of [[spoiler:Fate, the [[AIIsACrapShoot Insane Computer]]]]), or the [[spoiler:Dragon Gods]], who are GaiasVengeance. But wait! It turns out that the power they are attempting to control is manipulating ''both'' of them. But wait again! The original cast of ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'' (knowing that they would have to [[spoiler:''appear'' that they were manipulated to the point of ''dying'']]), working with the [[spoiler:spirit of Schala (who is manipulating ''her [[{{Reincarnation}} reincarnated self]]'')]], and the Guru of Time were manipulating '''''everyone''''' in order to create a situation where the [[spoiler:{{Cosmic Keystone}}s of two different {{Alternate Universe}}s]] break and then fuse, thus creating the weapon to kill the ''real'' [[spoiler:Time Devourer, [[EldritchAbomination Lavos]]]], DeaderThanDead. This [[http://pastebin.com/JG2jhqSJ Pastebin]] explains how the two plots interlock in detail and how all the aspects in Chrono Cross play out as a result. BRING A DRINK.
* The first two ''Franchise/MetalGear'' games were simply cases of [[ThePlan complex plans.]] But starting from ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid'', it's easiest to say that Gambit Pileups are the entire concept of the series. Some things remain completely incomprehensible three games, ten years, and about 100 hours of gameplay later, and then there's also the Portable Ops/Peace Walker spin-offs which just add several more layers and Gabits to the whole mess. In several cases, later games manage to connect characters from earlier ones, that were completely unrelated when the games were written ''10 years before'', without even {{retcon}}ning anything. For example [[spoiler:[=MGS4=] reveals that Medic from [=MGS3=] became a member of Patriots, which were introduced in [=MGS2=], and on their behalf created the Cyborg Ninja from [=MGS1=]. The Cyborg Ninja was actually a character that was thought to have died in the even earlier ''VideoGame/MetalGear2'', but that fact was already included when [=MGS=] was written.]]
** The ending of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty'' is a particularly bad offender with half a dozen characters making their secret plans known only to find out that they were just unknowing puppets in the plans of someone they thought they betrayed.
** The poster child [[spoiler:and actual Mastermind]] is Ocelot, who became the trope namer of ChronicBackstabbingDisorder.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Marathon}}'' series has a few, between Durandal, Tycho, the Pfhor, and Thoth trying to balance all the factions out. And you get to be every single one of their errand boys.
* ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'': Joshua, Hanekoma, Minamimoto, Konishi, and Kitaniji all have their own respective gambits. The ending [[GainaxEnding doesn't even make it very clear whose gambits succeeded or failed]], though the [[OneHundredPercentCompletion Secret Reports]] clarify some things.
* Many ''Franchise/FireEmblem'' games do this, but ''Seisen no Keifu'''s Chapter 5 turn this UpToEleven. The following chapter's introduction even makes reference to the previous one's Gambit Pileup nature: [[spoiler:The intense battle over control of the capitol sent most of the powerful lords to their grave. Only Lord Alvis' plan went without a hitch as he successfully gained full control of the kingdom.]]
* Quite a few [[GameMaker RPG Maker]] titles employ this trope.
** ''VideoGame/ExitFate'''s plot effectively starts out as a GambitRoulette on the part of the [[spoiler:Almengan Emperor]] and it just builds on from there. Plus, with seventy-five playable characters, a good portion of your group will be throwing their own hats into the ring.
** The more obscure ''Behemoth Tears'' also had no less than ''ten'' [[TheChessmaster chessmasters]] with varying skill levels and motives competing at once. The simplest plan was TheLancer's attempt to become the emperor ''of a democracy''. [[spoiler:He succeeded.]]
* ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' and its sister game, ''City of Villains''. Trying to figure out the alignment and sponsors of the various villain groups can require a multipage ''org chart''. [[SteamPunk Nemesis]] is behind a ''lot'' of it in the end, but the lower rankings have so much [[EnemyCivilWar intergroup conflict]] that figuring this out can be tricky. The [[AlienInvasion Rikti]], [[StupidJetpackHitler Council]], [[NebulousEvilOrganisation Arachnos]], [[CircusOfFear Carnies]], [[GovernmentConspiracy Malta]], hero groups, and a dozen other villains also have their own complicated plans, although more often than not they all originate or react to the same plans. Lampshaded when the devs added "tips" in the loading screens, including one which reads "It's all a Nemesis plot," and another which states "It's not all a Nemesis plot."
* ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain''...Where do you start? When Kain comments that "Nosgoth's great manipulator" is himself just a plaything, he's barely scratching the surface. Manipulators and schemers come in all shapes and sizes executing a mass variety of gambits. The main schemers are Kain, Moebius, the Elder God, Mortanius, and the Hylden Lord, all scheming against each other across centuries of careful planning. In the middle of it all is Raziel, the living embodiment of ScrewDestiny who is possibly the only creature in all existence who can change history. Thus there are so many people trying to steer him in their own direction, no matter what Raziel does, he's going to end up unwittingly help further someone's plan.
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'':
** Half the named characters in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'' are trying to manipulate the other half, and each other. The king is on his deathbed and there are two heirs to the throne. Two major dukes are fighting for control of the throne. One is the queen's brother and attempting to be the regent for the infant royal prince. The other duke is trying to be kingmaker for the king's teenage half-sister and use her as a puppet. And within their armies are plenty of smaller noble Houses trying to take power for themselves. The Church wants the royal armies to equally waste each other so the Church can claim supremacy and "save" the populace from war. They have their own army, the Knights Templar, run by Folmarv. [[spoiler:DemonicInvaders are passing MineralMacGuffin to each army, corrupting their members and hoping to resurrect their dark god. Folmarv is supposedly working for the church, but is actually infiltrating it on behalf of the demonic invaders they unknowingly worship.]] And finally, [[spoiler:Delita is a triple agent within both successor's armies and the church. He wants them all dead so he can become the new king through marriage to the princess. He may or may not know about the demons, but he's sure to let Ramza handle the rest.]]
** ''VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy'': Is it really surprising that when you force ten villains to work together, each with egos and [[SuperWeight powers]] larger than life, and all of them very high-ranked on the scales of [[SlidingScaleOfVillainThreat threat]] and [[SlidingScaleOfVillainEffectiveness effectiveness]] in their own games, that they won't always work together? The Emperor is a textbook [[TheChessmaster Chessmaster]], the mastermind of the game's plot with his own secret goal to [[AGodAmI become a god]]. Ultimecia is his second-in-command and goes along with him while harboring her own scheme to become a god in her own way. Meanwhile Golbez goes along with them because he's the ReverseMole and thus is banking on Cosmos' BatmanGambit to work and stop them. Cloud of Darkness, Exdeath and Kefka go along with the plan with the desire to [[OmnicidalManiac destroy everything]], and in the meantime Kefka is working on a plan to invoke a FaceHeelTurn in Terra. The Emperor and Ultimecia try to cut Sephiroth in on their plan, but he rejects them because he has his own secret plan to become a god as well. Kuja tries to interfere with Ultimecia's plan for Squall [[EvilIsPetty to snub her for insulting him]] under the advice of Kefka, who is probably [[ForTheEvulz just messing with them for kicks]]. Jecht is going along with the Emperor's plan because he's the Emperor's UnwittingPawn who has been lied to. And Garland is watching it all unfold knowing that in the end ''his'' plan for Chaos will continue regardless of what they do because he's TheFatalist and doesn't believe any of their plans will amount to stopping the GroundhogDayLoop everyone is stuck in.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'': Ashe is plotting to take her kingdom back, [[spoiler:Vossler seems to be helping her, but is in fact plotting with Vayne while hoping that Vayne's little brother Larsa will eventually help Ashe's ambitions]], Balthier is helping her in order [[spoiler:to settle the score with his father]], Ba'Gamnan is plotting to kill Balthier, Vayne is plotting to [[spoiler:become the next emperor, dissolve the senate, destroy the resistance led by Ashe and start a war against Rosaria]], Gabranth is used by [[spoiler:GenreSavvy Emperor Gramis against Vayne, then used by Vayne against Judge Magister Drace, who did not like all the plotting]], The Archadian senate is plotting against Vayne, Cid is plotting with Vayne [[spoiler:and Venat]] in order to fulfill his ambitions and [[spoiler:screw the Occurias along the way]], then we have [[spoiler:Occuria's king Gerrun who's plotting against everyone and who tries to turn Ashe into his willing puppet]], Ondore who is playing the role of a DoubleAgent from the beginning of the game, Al-Cid who is plotting [[spoiler:against his own family plotting against Archades while being in fact manipulated by Vayne's [[TheChessmaster Unnatural cunning]]]] and finally Larsa who by the end of the game [[spoiler:has outsmarted everyone and everyTHING]]. Made by the creators of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'' and ''VideoGame/VagrantStory'': no kidding.
* ''VideoGame/VagrantStory'', for that matter. The game starts out with three different factions (very roughly: the Church, the Government, and the Müllenkamp Sect), in addition to Duke Bardorba's personal interest in the main plot. ''All'' of them are manipulating both Ashley Riot and some aspect of the Forces Of Evil. At least half the characters end up going rogue, one character (Rosencrantz) is already a professional traitor, another [[spoiler:is murdered by Ashley and ends up possessing his own dead body by pure chance]], and a third one (Guildenstern) appears to be working for the Church and against the Sect, but is really after [[spoiler:the godlike powers that Sydney's skin can give him]]. Things get more complicated still when the entire city turns out to be [[spoiler:a Grimoire, and possibly conscious on some level]], and an entire plotline about four Fiends from ancient times is added only by mention in their respective ''bestiary entries''.
* ''[[VideoGame/{{Yakuza}} Yakuza 2]]'' goes outright nuts about this at the end, with just about everyone manipulating each other. Ironically the SmugSnake OrcusOnHisThrone mastermind who had happily sat out the whole game runs in, declares himself the winner and gets taken out in under a minute by a SpannerInTheWorks who {{lampshade|Hanging}}s his role by mentioning that he really hates whimpy masterminds who think they control everything. The winner on the other hand turns out to be a totally unexpected MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning that made everything the villains tried to do pointless from the start.
* ''VideoGame/SoulNomadAndTheWorldEaters''... Oh boy... The main character and Gig are saving the world due to manipulations by [[spoiler:Virtous]], who is ''really'' setting them up to [[spoiler:cross over into the world of Drazil and kill Drazil]]. While at the same time the main character is being manipulated by [[spoiler:Levin]], who in fact is[[spoiler:Raksha]], who is setting up [[spoiler:Thuris]] ''and'' [[spoiler:Virtious]] in order to [[spoiler:kill them, as they could pose a threat to his independence]], in addition to that, he is also aiming to [[AGodAmI become a god]], [[spoiler:to be free of any manipulation on himself in the future]]. He does this, working together with [[spoiler:Dio]], who secretly keeps a Zombiefied [[spoiler:Median]], in order to restore him as supreme king in his former glory, by destroying [[spoiler:Drazil and his subordinates]]... Oh yes, and [[spoiler:Drazil]] was the one who, as catalyst of the Gambit Pileup, manipulated [[spoiler:Median]] into killing [[spoiler:Vigilance]] in the first place and then manipulated the souls of [[spoiler:Vigilance(in two different incarnations), Resilence and Medians son]] into destroying [[spoiler:most of the World of Haephnes]]. And that's about, oh, ''most'' of it.
* The situation that the [[PlayerCharacter Jedi Exile]] wakes up to at beginning of ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic II: The Sith Lords'' is the direct result of the collision of two or three plots and a number of other people's plans and agendas. The Exile spends most of the rest of the game sorting some of these out.
* ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'':
** The plot of ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsZ'' essentially comes down to this, as Gilbert Durandal, Lord Djibril, Paptimus Scirocco, The Frost Brothers, Gym Ghingham, Dewey Novak, Alex Rosewater, The Gaizok, Zeo Gattler, The Vegans, The Elda, The Zeravire, The Shadow Angels, The Chirams, The Hundred Demon Clan, The Chimera Corps and The Black Charisma are all engaged in a massive contest of who is EvilerThanThou for control of the world and the dimensional power. The heroes of ZEUTH of course play the SpannerInTheWorks who wrecks all their plans by blowing them all to kingdom come. [[spoiler:Everything was, in fact, a huge GambitRoulette by Black Charisma/The Edel. His reason? Cause he though it'd be ''fun''.]]
** The ''[[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration Original Generation]]'' series tends to do this as well. ''[=OG1=]'' amusingly has every last faction/individual acting as a StealthMentor during some part of their master plan, with the predictable side effect of training the heroes beyond the point where they can be further manipulated (which was the end goal of one or two of those gambits). ''[=OG2=]'' has the standard "plot salad" variety, with one faction in particular making it their business to assist with any and every betrayal that anyone plans to make, specifically because they want to create a world that's endlessly at war with itself. By the end of the game, the villains care so little about who's planning to betray who that they organize a VillainTeamUp between the war-seeking faction and ''the faction that wants to neuter human advancement because [[HumansAreWarriors we're too obsessed with war]]''. And that's not even counting the whole political mess happening on the good guys' side.
* The official ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' manga ''[[Manga/TouhouBougetsushou Silent Sinner in Blue]]'' (and the companion ''Cage of Lunatic Runagate'') has the Watatsuki sisters faced with the various plots of Yukari, Eirin, Remilia, and [[spoiler:Yuyuko]], foiling each of them with their own scheming, but in the end it turns out that through various convoluted methods each of the schemes ''succeeded'' (except for Remilia's, as she plays the ButtMonkey role for the manga). Parodied by ''Webcomic/TouhouNekokayou'' [[https://dizzy.pestermom.com/?p=thcomic5 here]].
* The ''Franchise/StarCraft'' addon ''Brood War'' had ''at least'' Kerrigan, Mengsk, Fenix, Zeratul, Duran, Daggoth and the UED all plot against each other. The only ones who seem to be not playing are Stukov and Raszhagal, and Stukov [[spoiler:subsequently gets killed as a result of Duran's first plan against ''him'']], while Raszhagal [[spoiler:[[UnwittingPawn turns out to have been a victim of Kerrigan's manipulation and later mind-control from the very beginning]]]]. But to be fair, Stukov at least had some potential, he just didn't live long enough to play it off.
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia''. At the start of the game, it's a simple BlackAndWhiteMorality story with the good guys (Church of Martel) versus the bad guys (Desians). The Church of Martel is [[spoiler:[[CorruptChurch corrupt]] on two levels: the Pope just wants to accumulate personal power, while the organisation as a whole is controlled by Cruxis, who also control the Desians]]. Yggdrassil is controlling Cruxis so he can pull off a GambitRoulette [[spoiler:that will revive his dead sister]]. Yuan is a member of Cruxis [[spoiler:but is also a double agent who started the Renegades to stop them]]. Kratos is [[spoiler:also a member of Cruxis]] but ''also'' [[spoiler:a DeathSeeker double agent working on his own agenda to engineer a SuicideByCop scenario]]. Zelos is [[spoiler:acting as a ''triple'' agent for the Renegades, Cruxis and the party so that he can join whichever side looks like they're going to win]]. Then there's the individual power plays by the Desian Grand Cardinals, [[spoiler:including one who is trying to overthrow the organisation itself]]. And finally, [[IdiotHero Lloyd]] just wants to protect Colette from everyone and everything that is trying to manipulate them, despite all of her best efforts to [[HeroicSacrifice become a martyr]].
** Let's not forget the more humorous example Lloyd pulled on Colette at the beginning on the game with the hot/iced/possibly lukewarm coffee. By the animation, there may not even have been coffee in that cup - Colette has lost her sense of touch, and Lloyd is forcing her to admit it by handing her some coffee...
* Rumored to be constantly at work in ''VideoGame/UrbanDead''; it's anyone's guess how real or imaginary said plots are.
* ''VideoGame/VandalHearts 2'' features a civil war in the country of Natra that in the end proves to have been the result of multiple distinct factions with their own separate goals. Early on, it appears to have three factions. East Natra, led by the exiled son of the former king, and supported by the republic of Vernantze, a sort of [[MerchantCity Merchant Empire]]. West Natra, led by the Queen Mother, and supported by [[TheEmpire the Zora-Archeo empire]], with their puppet king on the throne. And the heroic faction, seeking to unify the country by defeating both sides, [[TakeAThirdOption founds Central Natra]]. However, as it goes on, it becomes apparent that the truth is far more complicated. East Natra was, in part, set up by [[spoiler:Cardinal Ladorak, on orders from the Pope, to try and unify Natra with the Church state of Nirvadia]]. Meanwhile, the Queen Mother's true goal was [[spoiler: to let the war get so bad that it would force Zora-Archeo to commit so many troops to the Natran Civil War that it would leave their home regions weak, allowing her homeland of Archeo to rise up in rebellion against Zora]]. Meanwhile, both East and Central are being manipulated by the Kudur Cult, trying to bring about a "[[ApocalypseCult cleansing of the world]]" [[spoiler: which itself is a setup by their leader, who is seeking a way to ''reach God in heaven'']]. To say the pile-up results in a bloodbath would be putting it mildly.
* In most of the ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' games, each faction leader or otherwise plot-important NPC has a scheme or two in the works. Whether its a good or evil scheme depends on the person. ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'' has a fun example in the Dark Brotherhood storyline.
* ''VideoGame/WildArms3'' turns into this. Between [[spoiler:Beatrice who is manipulating almost all the good guys and later some of the bad guys, The Prophets, Janus, Seigfried, Werner and the Schrodingers as the spanner in all the works.]] it gets rather messy.
* ''KingdomHearts'':
** Between Xemnas, [=DiZ=], and, to a lesser extent, [[spoiler:Riku, Axel, and Maleficent]], the entire series after the first game definitely qualifies. This is seen most profoundly in the subtext and background goings-on of ''358/2 Days'', though it's not immediately obvious from Roxas's limited point of view. Basically, [[spoiler:Sora's placement in suspended animation for a year]] at the end of ''Chain of Memories'' sparked a back-and-forth war between two (or more) parties for control over his fate. Most of this involves [[spoiler:Xion]] in some way or another, as well as various characters being manipulated by multiple parties for their own ends, but by the end of it, even the villains are somewhat confused as to how everything went so awry. Sora's obliviousness to all of this [[spoiler:when he finally wakes up]] is rather amusing, particularly since he is notorious for [[SpannerInTheWorks derailing almost every plan he comes across without even trying]]. And that's not even getting into Organization XIII's serious problem with ChronicBackstabbingDisorder... [[spoiler:not that any of those gambits and pileups actually ''worked'' in the end, but still.]]
** ''Birth by Sleep'', the prequel, takes it even further with the conflicting agendas of many characters, including, but not limited to, [[spoiler:Master Xehanort, Terra, Ventus, Aqua (ESPECIALLY Aqua), Braig, Vanitas, Eraqus, Mickey, and even Maleficent to a small degree]]. [[KudzuPlot By the end of it all]], it's a wonder how the first ''Kingdom Hearts'' went so relatively smoothly, plot-wise.
** As of ''Coded'' and ''Reconnect.Kingdom Hearts'' it appears [[spoiler:that [=DiZ=] and Namine had been planning in advance to free Terra, Aqua, Ventus, Roxas, Xion, Axel, and even themselves from their individual fates by hiding [=DiZ=]'s research data within Sora's heart and having Namine not only create the message in Jimminy's Journal, but have her influence the events from ''Coded'' from behind the scenes.]] Then again, Namine is probably the only one of the good guys who had a clear understanding of what was going on.
* While the original ''VideoGame/ValkyrieProfile'' only had two complex plots running against each other, the prequel, ''VideoGame/ValkyrieProfile2Silmeria'' had no less than five different plots crashing into each other, some involving time travel, not counting the schemes of the court wizards of Dipan (which were actually addressed in the first game). There may have been a couple others that haven't come up in any parts of the series thus far.
* ''VideoGame/MegaManZX'' is a veritable ''casino''! You wouldn't know it from the first game, but there are so many roulettes running around in the second you can't help but guess that people in power are trying to screw each other over.
* ''VideoGame/{{Achron}}'' is a game being developed with free-form time travel so this is the obvious result of two or more enemies (2 vs. 2 is a popular mode) trying to turn the tide of not only the same battle, but all battles in a 7-minute time frame around the "present". Add to that the option to avoid these battles by retreating, not even building your army or destroying your enemy's factories or even resource gatherers (often leading to a massive ButterflyEffect), make Chronoclones (send a unit back in time to fight alongside the original) and to cause {{Grandfather Paradox}}es, deliberately or not, to make whole armies phase in and out of existence and you've got a game which is perfect for [[ThePlan the crazy planner in all of us]].
* ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoChinatownWars'' has this as its central plot. The higher-ups in the Triad are plotting against each other to become head of the Triad, the enemy gangs are plotting against the Triad, the ''actual'' head of the Triad is plotting against everybody, and the FBI is trying to arrest everybody. Ironically, [[spoiler: Huang Lee, the PlayerCharacter, is the one to come out on top, avoiding arrest and death, and becoming the head of the Triad - all because he hadn't been plotting against anybody.]]
* ''VideoGame/AlphaProtocol'' has competing gambits from...well, ''everybody.'' The ''short'' list: [[CorporateSamurai Conrad Marburg]] and his [[TheRemnant Deus Vult]] group along with the [[AxeCrazy VCI]] and [[BloodKnight SIE]], [[NoCelebritiesWereHarmed Al-Samaad]], [[TheMafiya Sergei Surkov]], [[TheConspiracy G22]] and [[StatusQuoIsGod Albatross]], [[RightHandVersusLeftHand Omen Deng]] and his Chinese Secret Police, [[IntrepidReporter Scarlet]], Mike's most loyal ally [[TheMole Mina]], and [[GovernmentAgencyOfFiction Alpha Protocol]] itself, all leading up to [[spoiler:[[MegaCorp Halbech]]]], and eventually [[spoiler:Alpha Protocol's own "[[TheChessmaster human number cruncher]]" [[SmugSnake Alan Parker.]]]] The only one who isn't involved in or trying to manipulate ''something'' is [[BewareTheSillyOnes Steven Heck]], who's just along for the ride because it lets him blow shit up. Amusingly, he also knows many of the above secrets and never tells Mike, regardless of how friendly he is.
* ''VideoGame/BetrayalInAntara''. Let's see... We have various government officials at assorted levels conspiring with pirates. We have nobles trying to ruin other nobles in the name of politics and nobles screwing over their subjects out of greed. We have a group of xenocidal terrorists. We have a wizard messing with the lives of extra-planar entities ForScience. We have mercenary groups trying to make money and are willing to do so illegally. And to top it off, there's a man named Silverhawk, whose very existence isn't discovered until the very end of the game, who managed to connect several of these totally unrelated plots together in a scheme [[spoiler: to murder the Emperor in the belief that he can become a key advisor to his heir]]. And that list doesn't include the numerous local issues that don't affect the overall plot.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' games as a whole was usually a case of either one BigBad making life miserable for everyone, or two significant factions arguing over a MacGuffin with everyone else around just trying to watch out for themselves. This seems to be the case with New Vegas, and indeed could be, unless you start doing side quests and choosing certain speech options. It starts with the NCR and the Legion fighting over Hoover Dam before consolidating a hold on Vegas itself. Simple enough, unless/until: Mr. House activates his giant Securitron army to secure New Vegas for himself, [[spoiler:and maybe upgrades them to machine guns and missile launchers!]]; Benny, a.k.a. that asshole that shot you in the intro, is playing up the things that House has taught him to try to yank said robot army out from under him; the bosses of the Omertas, resident gun smugglers, [[spoiler:are actually in league with the Legion and plan on weakening the other Families for them under the wrong assumption that they'll have control of Vegas]], except for [[spoiler:Cachino, who knows the plan, wants to take out the bosses and lead the Omertas himself]]; and of course, you yourself as the Courier, who can either align with one of the major factions or go into business yourself, and either end up recruiting, ignoring, or wiping out any of the DOZEN smaller tribes, factions and hold-out groups.
** Counting DLC, no less than ten factions ([[spoiler: The Think Tank, Father Elijah, Ulysses, The Courier, The Omerta bosses, Cachino, Benny, House, the NCR, and the Legion]]) ''all'' have elaborate gambits competing against each other for the Mojave.
* The plot of ''VideoGame/XenoSaga'' is a Gambit Pileup of epic proportions, made even more confusing that usual by the fact that most if not all of the interlocking schemes are secretly being run [[spoiler: ''by the same man'']].
* In VideoGame/CyberNations, ''everyone'' is trying to screw ''everyone else'' over. The fact that ''everyone'' is retarded only adds to it.
* ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'' shows what happens when you stuff nearly everyone in Batman's RoguesGallery into a single fenced-off slum. EvilVersusEvil is in full effect, with the major factions and multiple independent villains doing at least as much to screw each other over as Batman himself, and you get a pileup of truly epic proportions.
* The ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'' series is an example of multiple overlapping gambits. On the one side, you have the AncientConspiracy of the [[TheKnightsTemplar Templars]] who are scheming for control of humanity by manipulating religions, wars, science, and even commerce, with the ultimate objective of [[TheEvilsOfFreeWill abolishing free will]]. Set against them are the Assassins, who are the unwitting tools of a far older scheme set in motion by [[{{Precursors}} Those Who Came Before]] to use GeneticMemory to deliver a message across thousands of years to the modern-day descendants of the Assassins in order to FlingALightIntoTheFuture.
* ''VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution'' has this happening in the last part of the game. [[spoiler: Bill Taggart, David Sarif and Hugh Darrow each have different plans in motion, all which come in to collision in the end. Player gets to choose whose plan is completed or KillEmAll and screw everyone]].
* ''Videogame/SigmaStarSaga'' only has two faction leaders: the Tyrannical Overlord, who wants to conquer everything and everybody for the sake of more power, and Commander Tierney, who wants to [[spoiler:do exactly the same thing.]] However, many of the lower-ranking characters have some plan to either gain power, or try to end the war, with various amounts of knowledge and degrees of competence involved. Ultimately, [[spoiler:humanity as a whole "wins" by surviving, but only Recker really accomplishes what he intends to do, and it's at the expense of an entire species he has grown to respect (and, [[MultipleEndings potentially]], with the deaths of both women he loves.)]]
* The second half of the third act of ''VideoGame/TheWitcher2AssassinsOfKings'' is essentially a long reveal of who's been playing who while simultaneously being played by someone else.
* Once you understand all the symbolism in ''VideoGame/{{Killer7}}'', it becomes a truly staggering version of this. (Deep breath) Harman and Kun Lan are friendly but still in a war, and while Harman controls the Smith Syndicate and mostly controls Harman Smith, Kun Lan controls the Heaven's Smiles, has some degree of influence over the U.N. Party, and usually controls Iwazaru (the rest of the time, the Smith Syndicate control him). Curtis Blackburn and Pedro are plotting against each other, and Dan Smith (Curtis's apprentice) is part of the Smith Syndicate but is plotting against Harman. The Handsome Men appear to be controlled by Trevor Pearlharbor and sometimes LOVE, but LOVE gets them to kill Trevor, revealing that she always fully controlled them. The Liberal Party and the U.N. Party are at odds, and so the Liberal Party betrays the U.N. Party to the USA; however, the U.N. Party controls most of the USA through Coburn Elementary, wants to make Japan the ultimate nation, is raising an army of Japanese assassins in the USA, and controls Harman Smith whenever the other Harman doesn't. Toru Fukushima, the leader of the U.N. Party, is betrayed by two moles, Jean [=DePaul=] and Julia Kisugi; both of them were waiting for the other to make the first move, let the other one get killed by the Smiths, then take the Yakumo for themselves. Greg Nightmare seemingly has control over the elections, and works for the U.N. Party and Kun Lan, having some special Heaven's Smiles. Benjamin Keane wants to be President, and so he kills Greg Nightmare when he doesn't get to be President. Harman Smith controls Coburn and gets orders from the U.N. Party (as previously mentioned), and therefore controls Emir Parkreiner, and controls the Smith Syndicate when the other Harman isn't. However, Emir turns against Harman Smith and kills him, absorbing the Smith Syndicate but then being controlled by Harman. Andrei Ulmeyda finds the Yakumo and uses it, but not for the intended purpose. And finally, Iwazaru is a DoubleAgent for the Smiths and Kun Lan.
* You can't even throw a rock in ''VideoGame/LastScenario'' without hitting some mysterious person manipulating things from behind the scenes, who may or may not have someone [[TheStarscream plotting to stab them in the back.]] It eventually reaches the point that the one who emerges from it all as the ultimate BigBad is [[spoiler: Castor, Ortas' subordinate, who was manipulating the Rosehart Kingdom, who was manipulating Herbert and the war between the Empire and the Republic, making him TheStarscream of TheManBehindTheMan...''behind'' the man.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* In ''VisualNovel/ShikkokuNoSharnoth'' we have Mary, the individual Research Group members, M, Society, Sherlock Holmes, Queen Victoria, Baron Munchhausen, [[spoiler:Moriarty and Charlie]] all plotting. Interestingly enough, [[spoiler:over half of them get what they want, including the BigBad.]]
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' features the gambits of Zouken Matou, Kirei Kotomine, the Einzbern family, Saber, Caster, [[spoiler:Gilgamesh]], [[spoiler:Counter-Guardian EMIYA]], and [[spoiler:Avenger]] all being executed during the Fifth Grail War. [[ForWantOfANail Slight changes at the start of each route]] cause different gambits to take precedence in each route.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick''. LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters have accumulated (and very few have been killed off), most everyone has plans they haven't explained to their allies (or in a few cases, they're just unpredictable), and a couple brand-new political factions were then added to the deck. [[FourthWallObserver The roaches]] counted at least ''nine'' sides of the conflict, some of whom the reader hadn't even encountered, and that was a while ago: Roy, Vaarsuvious, Belkar, Haley, [[spoiler:The High Priest of Hel]], Xykon, the IFCC, Redcloak, and finally the two wild cards, Tarquin and The Monster in the Darkness.
* ''Webcomic/DominicDeegan'' is famous for his [[GambitRoulette overly-elaborate schemes]], but during the Storm of Souls arc, and again during the War in Hell, he was only one [[TheChessmaster chessmaster]] among many.
* ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' pulls this off quite well, especially noticable in the tangled web that was [[TownWithADarkSecret Sturmhalten]]. Then Mechanicsburg appeared to be headed full-tilt in that direction, with Agatha's group, the Knights of Jove, the Baron, the Baron's army, Zola's operation, Mechanicsburg's local government-conspiracy, the Jaegers, and [[spoiler:two Lucrezias, [[http://girlgenius.wikia.com/wiki/Tarvek_Sturmvoraus Tarvek]], and Othar back on the scene]]. That doesn't include the [[GeniusLoci Castle]] which evidently has its own plan or two, and yet more minor players with big plans and varying degrees of competency pop up with monotonous frequency. And ''then'' there popped up [[spoiler:the Storm King Conspiracy.]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Girly}}'' parodies this in ''The Big Mix-Up'' -- [[spoiler:The Shadowy Guy]] was manipulating [[spoiler:the adorable men]] and [[spoiler:the [=CutePD=]]], [[spoiler:Mitchroney]] was also manipulating them, but in a different way, and they were both pretending to be manipulated by the other in order to manipulate the other, which had the effect of manipulating the main cast.
* ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'''s overarching plot goes here; the main players are the Gatekeepers, Xinchub, the UNS government in general, [[spoiler:dark-matter beasties from Andromeda, and the god-like AI Petey]]. Most of the episodic arcs look like this too. The focus characters are just regular joes trying to do a job, so they're usually used as pawns in one plot or another. Some of these factions are no longer playing though.
* In the tradition of the show, ''Series/DoctorWho'' fancomic ''[[http://comics.shipsinker.com/archive.php?arc=10doctors The Ten Doctors]]'' was all over this trope, with seemingly every major villain who ever showed up on the series attempting their own grand scheme that repeatedly crashed into each other. Fortunately, there were 10 Doctors to confront them. They never had a hope in hell.
* ''Webcomic/TwoKinds'' has the games of gods (Ephemural's comic-starting gambit to start), [[EvilTowerOfOminousness Evil Towers Of Ominousness]] (The Templars), the backroom scheming of a paranoid military culture (The Bastians), the war plans of the two Kedrian tribes, plus whatever the motivations are of a dozen secondary characters (three-quarters of whom are looking for Trace, either to help him or kill him). Even then, some of them are trying to help Trace and some are trying to help Templar!Trace who is his pre-amnesia counterpart who was driven insane by his use of magic. Hell, one character set up DOZENS of different plans and exploited every loop-hole he could which took years of planning to make one exiled character a general.
* ''Webcomic/TheLastDaysOfFOXHOUND'' has a lot of these (understandable, considering [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid its source]]), although given the ending most of them don't come to fruition. For extra fun, you could consider the author's plot having gotten into a pile-up with Kojima's as one of these. There was more than one occasion where the author introduced retroactive, massive [[GambitRoulette Roulettes]] just to explain the gulf between how ''he'' wrote the story and the new elements Kojima introduced. And the result was so convoluted it actually fit ''perfectly'' with the MGS universe, hilariously so.
* ''Webcomic/PennyAndAggie'' takes it to ridiculous levels, considering that the goals are mostly some variant of "become party queen." The consequences of intermediate steps have become more interesting than the plans themselves.
* The Gallimaufry arc in ''ComicBook/BuckGodotZapGunForHire'' is somewhere between this and a Thirty Dark Secret Pileup. Seen in a more literal form [[http://www.airshipentertainment.com/buckcomic.php?date=20080617 here]], and seen as a MacGuffinDeliveryService pileup [[http://www.airshipentertainment.com/buckcomic.php?date=20080410 here]].
* ''Webcomic/{{Terinu}}'' runs on this, what with Terinu being pursued by the Varn Gene mage, who is allied with Princess Titalia, who is plotting the overthrow of her queen mother. The pirate Mavra Chan is also allied with the Gene Mage, but only to grab as much power as she can while she pursues Terinu herself to make him her slave/assassin. Meanwhile Admiral Blake is trying to ''murder'' Terinu to keep him out of the Gene Mage's hands while jailing his own daughter in an attempt to suppress the history of humanity's genocide of the ferin.
* ''Webcomic/LastRes0rt'' is about to run headlong into this with most (if not all) of its players, and it's all compounded by the sheer chutzpah that ''the results are all being broadcast as entertainment''. If only real reality shows had this sort of thought put into them.
* [[http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1582#comic This]] ''Webcomic/SaturdayMorningBreakfastCereal''.
* ''FanFic/GrimTalesFromDownBelow'' has several being pulled at the same time - in the past [[WesternAnimation/TheGrimAdventuresOfBillyAndMandy Mandy]] pulled several to cause major disasters and later exploit her immortality. Even if Grim killed her, she had plans to take over hell. Then [[WesternAnimation/TheNightmareBeforeChristmas Oogie Boogie]] tried to get Junior to come to his lair so he could steal his reaper powers. After a bunch of crap happens, [[SuperpoweredEvilSide the Nergal]] [[TheVirus parasite]] [[BodyHorror demons]] take over Junior's body, leading to [[WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom Clockwerk]] pulling several Gambits at a time (seeing as how he's Clockwerk, this isn't surprising). Even later than that, [[WesternAnimation/ThePowerpuffGirls Him]] pulls one of the [[BrotherSisterIncest most]] [[{{Squick}} disturbing]] [[GirlWithPsychoWeapon Gambits]] [[IfICantHaveYou ever pulled]]. And those are just the major ones - pretty much the only people who don't pull a gambit of some kind throughout the webcomic are the citizens of Halloween Town, [[WesternAnimation/HeyArnold Helga (on account of her never actually appearing)]], the people shown under Mandy's regime, the Raven narrator, Comicbook/{{Spawn}}, the demons Spawn faces, and [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome Fred Fredburger.]] [[ParanoiaFuel But they just might be planning something...]]
* How tangled up are all the diabolical schemes in ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance''? So tangled that [[http://sluggy.com/comics/archives/daily/20090130 they might destroy the very fabric of existence]].
* This is the best descriptor of the ''Hivebent'' arc in Act 5 of ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', wherein all the Trolls [[CycleOfRevenge attempt to backstab each other]] and [[ManipulativeBastard Doc Scratch]] is first introduced. The trolls are eventually forced to team up and work together when shit hits the fan during their game session though. And if you thought Act 5 Act 1 got complicated, Act 5 Act 2 has so many insane plots going on (most of which are [[IndyPloy being made up as they go along]]) That by the end, it's hard to tell who's manipulating whom into doing what. [[spoiler: Who: Doc Scratch. Whom: Everyone. What: Everything.]]
** In Act 6, virtually everybody has some kind of plan for the [[spoiler: Post-Scratch]] session, of which the [[spoiler: Post-Scratch]] Kids are almost completely unaware.
* Every major player in ''Webcomic/{{Drowtales}}'' has some plan in motion that they believe will grant them supremacy, save the world, kill their rivals, etc. As of chapter 46 (aptly titled "Convergence") several of the main ones have started colliding, with much bloodshed to be had -- and it's only the tip of the iceberg.
* In the ChristmasEpisode of ''The Prime of Ambition'' the cast indulges in tricks around a... mistletoe. [[http://jaadrih.comicgenesis.com/d/20101225.html Observe]].
* In ''Webcomic/ImpureBlood'', [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Issue3/ib053.html Dara and Caspian have plans that converge]], or [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Issue3/ib054.html at least, Dara has convinced Caspian that he needs her for his plan]].
* The TournamentArc of ''Webcomic/BeyondTheCanopy''. Glenn just wants to be done with the fight. [[spoiler:Pedro]] crashes the fight to get revenge on Glenn. [[spoiler:Greliz]] set up the entire tournament in the first place just to scam some money, and Vogel shows up to bust him. Hoot and Holler, looking to capture Glenn, arrive at the tournament mostly by accident. Snopes, tracking an artifact and the person who carries it (who happens to be Glenn), arrives not long afterwards.
* ''Webcomic/ExterminatusNow'' managed to pull this off ''in a single strip'' [[http://exterminatusnow.co.uk/2012-05-20/comic/the-bookend-of-unimaginable-power/karma-chameleon/ here]].
* The cast of ''Webcomic/{{Erfworld}}'' can very generally be lumped into Gobwin Knob, the Royal Coalition, the Magic Kingdom and Charlescom, but they all have plenty of different factions and scheming within their own ranks (except Charlescom, which is run by one guy no-one's ever seen). The main character's SummonEverymanHero plot is apparently fulfilling four different prophecies.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''Creator/FilmCow'' made a skit involving a depressed whale and a goldfish. [[PlotTwist Then the whale turn out to be robber. Then the goldfish turns out to be a undercover cop gone corrupt. Then the whale turns out to be an Internal Affairs Officer.]] [[UpToEleven Then the fish turns out to be a cook at Steak 'n Shake]].
* A smaller example is presented near the end of [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbv5R6CHz3E this funny video skit.]]
* In the Creator/RoosterTeeth Short Lunch Bunch, the office constantly has problems with people stealing other people's lunches. When Burnie tries to steal Matt's lunch, he starts choking, and Matt reveals he had put salt in his sandwich. But then, it turns out that he had stolen Gus' salt, which Gus replaced with rat poison in case someone tried to steal it. But ''[[CrossesTheLineTwice then]]'' it turns out Gus had stolen Geoff's rat poison, who, foreseeing this, had replaced it with Nathan's protein powder, and dumped the real poison into the coffee pot. All three of them realize they are drinking poison and fall to the floor. [[KillEmAll Burnie stops choking, gets off the floor, steals the poisoned coffee and walks away.]]
* In the ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'', Ayla 5: "Ayla and the Networks" is one of these. It shifts perspective to show each person setting up their gambits. To top it all off...[[spoiler:Thuban and Ayla had won before the first move was drawn. Thuban had purposely leaked the very blackmail conversation that STARTED this mess, solely to make sure everything happened just as planned.]] Even more complicated, [[spoiler:Phase set the whole thing up several novels earlier with a ChekhovsGun that he patiently waited a couple months for someone running their own gambit to trigger it.]] And then several new groups step in, trying to pull off their own gambits in the middle of the story. HilarityEnsues.
* Parodied in [[http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Game:Pick_Up_the_Phone_Booth_and_Aisle/xwoman this]] ''VideoGame/PickUpThePhoneBoothAndAisle'' ending on Wiki/{{Uncyclopedia}}.
* Faced with a dearth of actual gameplay, the players in ''Website/NationStates'' have spent the last seven years turning the site into one of these.
* In "Deicide" ''Literature/TheSalvationWar'' has brought this to Heaven. You have [[spoiler:Yahweh, Michael-lan's plotting against Yahweh, Salapael's First Conspiracy, the mysterious Second Conspiracy and whoever subverted that Israeli sub into nuking Tel-Aviv, which may be the Second Conspiracy or who knows, a ''Third'' bloody conspiracy.]]
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsY9dhz_h1k Master Prankers]] show us how it's done.
* WebAnimation/HowItShouldHaveEnded shows us an example with [[http://youtu.be/poDaiYKJFlo Sherlock Holmes.]]
* Many forum games such as Mafia and games centered around nation building can become loaded with gambit pileups. It is often hilarious watching how one Franz Ferdinand-esque scenario knocks down mountains worth of intrigue dominoes set up by the players. Hilarious if your [=GMing=], terrifying if you're a player.
* ''ImperiumNova'', being a browser game/forum RP where the players are nobles in a FeudalFuture, tends to encourage this.
* In ''Literature/TheDeadSkunk'', the Caroline affair turns into this. Prince Regent George (later King George IV) hires men to spy on his wife so that he can collect the evidence he needs to divorce her, which snowballs into counter-schemes and counter-counter-schemes by his wife Caroline of Brunswick, Lords Liverpool and Castlereagh, [[spoiler:several officials within the French government]], and [[spoiler:Henry Brougham]].
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHQr0HCIN2w freddiew]] turns a MexicanStandoff into a web of intrigue so dense it calls into question the characters' very identities.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the first season finale of ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' Tarantulas, Megatron, Blackarachnia and the Maximals all had their own individual plans for dealing with the destruction of the planet by the alien Vok and almost all of their plans hinged on the different known factors of everyone else's plans. Tarantulas was originally planning on escaping the planet in a stasis pod, Blackarachnia secretly planned to steal his stasis pod for herself and use it to escape, Megatron purposefully allowed the two of them to go about stealing said pod with the plan of forcing that pod (with the escapee still inside) to become a makeshift bomb used to destroy the alien Planet Buster. Optimus and the Maximals planned to use the pod for the same purpose, but with the idea that Optimus would escape the pod at the last second (Megatron's version, which ultimately won out, involved Optimus not escaping and dying in the explosion.) Interestingly, after Optimus died in the explosion (which Megatron had originally meant for one or both of the spiders), Tarantulas's reaction was that of smug laughter, the kind he only ever does when he's just pulled something deceitful off. This leaves the implication that Tarantulas was well aware of Megatron's schemes too, and that his plan was to ready the pod and assume that either Blackarachnia, Inferno (on Megatron's orders) or Optimus would intercede (all tried to) and would die in Megatron's scheme, rather than him. Considering his ultimate scheme [[spoiler:is to destroy the Ark and both Autobots and Decepticons to negate the existence of ''all'' Cybertronians which, it turns out, Tarantulas is not one of]], it wouldn't have made sense for him to be willing to leave the planet anyway. Claims that he wanted to were likely for Blackarachnia and Waspinator's benefit, so that it would get back to Megatron. Thus, ultimately, it's Tarantulas pulling all the strings. When all but ''two'' Predacons, and several non-Predacons, try their hand at TheStarscream, this is to be expected.
** Throwing in the comics, you add Magmatron, Ravage, again, a guy named Shokaract who unknowingly works for yet another [[ThePlan plan]]... I mean... holy hell, it's a wonder anyone's plan worked...
* Done to death in ''WesternAnimation/{{Duckman}}''. In one episode, while it is revealed that Duckman and Cornfed have been the unwitting pawns of an EvilPlan by an ominous secret organization, the episode ends with one secret society after another viewing the events taking place in the previous organization's Evil Lair and declaring gleefully that "everything went just as planned". Cue evil laughter. [[MindScrew And ending, ultimately, with Mom, Dad, Sis, and Bro watching the events on TV.]]
* Played straight, then parodied/subverted in ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddParents'' episode, "Remy Rides Again". Jorgen made Juandissimo make Remy plot to separate Timmy from his godparents. Seconds after this is revealed, Cosmo says, "''Not so fast!''"... [[WhatAnIdiot only to point out that the pileup had been explained too fast for him]].
* In the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' episode 'Cat Orgy', Shelly is baby-sitting Cartman and invites her boyfriend over. This leads to Cartman taking a picture of them making out with the intent to show it to his mother and bust them, and eventually this leads to a—likely on the fly—pileup between the two.
--> Cartmen lets Shelly into his locked room.
--> '''Shelly:''' "Haha! That was a turd trick! Your mom isn't really dead!"
--> '''Cartman:''' "Aha! I knew it was a turd trick, and I opened the door because Mr. Kitty is on his way right now to my mom's party with the picture!"
--> '''Shelly:''' " Aha! I knew you sent the cat, and that's why I went outside and got him." *Holds up the picture.*
--> '''Cartman:''' "Aha! I saw you get the picture back from Mr. Kitty and that's why I wrote a letter to the press, to be opened in case of my demise. Should anything happen to me that letter will go out, and you will never find it."
--> '''Shelly:''' *Picks up the letter* "You mean this one?"
--> '''Cartman:''' "... Okay, let's see now... Aha! Umm... god damn it!"
* The second season of ''WesternAnimation/{{WITCH}}'' ends with everybody trying to put the screws on everybody else. Nerissa is trying to get the Heart of Earth by killing Lillian's cat familiar Napoleon at the same time that the girls have [[spoiler:let Phobos out of prison to take ''her'' two hearts. Phobos]] decides to screw the girls over by using the power of Nerissa's hearts once he takes them, but the girls planned for this by [[spoiler:convincing Raythor to do a HeelFaceTurn. Raythor tricks Phobos]] into invading Kandrakar, which would cause him to relinquish control of the hearts he took, but just before [[spoiler:Phobos]] crosses the plane into Kandrakar, [[spoiler:Cedric eats him and gains his powers AND Nerissa]]'s. Also, Raphael Sylla and the government, who watched the final battle, planned to discover the girls' secret identities by registering Sylla as a teacher at the girls' school, but [[ScrewedByTheNetwork we probably won't get to see that]]. Note that, while most of this wasn't there in the original comic, the started Sylla-Gambit was eventually pulled of in it and even worked - until the oracle pulls a literal DeusExMachina (it's even {{lampshade|Hanging}}d) and hits the reset button.
* ''WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003'':
** The major plot developments of season 4 and the entirety of season 5 gets into this territory, involving three distinct active factions (government agent Bishop, demi-god quartet the Ninja Tribunal, and the quintet of schemers collectively known as the Shredder's heralds), and three passive factions (the Turtles, the Foot, and a quartet of kidnapped martial artists). It all ends up being a GambitRoulette involving most of the events of the series up until then.
** To a lesser extent, the Triceraton invasion can be seen as a duel between General Blanque and the Triceraton Prime Leader, orchestrated by [[spoiler: the Fugitoid to allow Traximus to overthrow Zanrathon and end the Triceraton-Federation war]]. The Turtles themselves barely even qualified as ''pawns'' in the struggle (and came dangerously close to being a SpannerInTheWorks).
* The ''WesternAnimation/XMenEvolution'' season two finale, "Day of Reckoning," has one of these involving three different factions: Magneto and his acolytes; Mystique; and Bolivar Trask, with the X-Men and Brotherhood being stringed across for good measure.
* Pretty much the entirety of ''WesternAnimation/WolverineAndTheXMen''. Pretty much ''everyone'' has a long-term plan of some sort, be it Magneto, Senator Kelly, the Weapon X program, Master Mold, Mr. Sinister, the Inner Circle, and Professor X himself. This all comes to a head in the GrandFinale, when ''nobody's'' schemes go as planned.
* ''WesternAnimation/DangerMouse'' and ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'' have both done the [[IKnowYouKnowIKnow "I knew that you knew that I knew ]][[OverlyLongGag that you knew..."]] thing with their heroes and their respective arch enemies.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' season 4 finale "Operation: P.R.O.M.", between Col.Hunter, Mr. Doe and Mr. Cardholder, Monstroso, Treister, Sky Pilot, and Molotov Cocktease.
* The whole point of ''WesternAnimation/AvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes'' seems to be how many plans and counter plans they can fit into the show. None of the Gambits are related, nor do the people involved know of the others existences or plans, [[spoiler:but all of them wind up ultimately serving Loki's Master Plan to keep Thor away from Asgard while he took it over.]]
* Pretty much the entire three seasons of ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice'' was a huge pileup between The Light, the Justice League, The Reach, Young Justice, and more than a few alien civilisations. By the penultimate episode it was revealed that from the beginning [[spoiler:The Reach had funded The Light to help them take over Earth]] but both sides were playing increasingly complex gambits to betray one another, usually relying on the Young Justice team in a massive series of {{Batman Gambit}}s. This all came to a head during the [[spoiler:Reach/Light peace summit]] which was secretly engineered by [[spoiler:Aqualad]]. All of this was moot however as it was revealed in the finale that [[spoiler:Vandal Savage, Lex Luthor, and ''Darkseid'']] had come out on top.
* Parodied in ''WesternAnimation/ThePenguinsOfMadagascar'' episode "Go Fish". The penguins steal fish from a delivery truck so they don't have to eat the nutritional substitute the zoo is giving to them, except Julien sabotages them and switches the crates. Skipper anticipates this, switching the crates before they got back to the zoo, except Julien switched the crates at the pier before they were even loaded. This is all followed by Skipper and Julien arguing that they each switched the crates in front of each other, until [[MindScrew Skipper takes off a mask revealing him to be Julien]]. The other Julien (Skipper) then takes off his mask and the real Julien wonders "If you are me and I am you, then who must we both be?" Eventually, [[spoiler:they crack open the crates, only to find out they're both full of the nutritional substitute and the flamingo that helped the penguins rob the truck took the fish already]].
* ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama'' can go this way pretty frequently. The season-three episode "Picnic at Hanging Dork" is one of the best examples: Courtney and Sierra are planning to vote off Gwen; Heather says she'll support them, but is actually considering voting off Courtney; Gwen is trying to get Cody to help her vote off Courtney (including by flirting); Cody is trying to get her to vote off Sierra; Alejandro is trying to seduce Courtney to throw off their team and make Heather jealous; Duncan is working with Alejandro but is planning to eventually betray him...
[[/folder]]
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%% Admin note:
%% Please do not even think about entering a "Real Life" example here. The wiki you are reading right now is about storytelling, not history.