In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Batgirl needed to lure Lex Luthor to Gotham City to "bring him, set him up, and take him down". So she announced that she'd allow him build a new factory in Gotham, knowing that Luthor's ego wouldn't let him miss a chance to go there and show his genius off. Her plan worked, but thanks to Supergirl's help.
In H'el on Earth, H'el was counting on Superboy to destroy most of his Star Chamber because he was actually destroying the fueling station for his ship and freed his ship from its launchpad, helping H'el in his plan to resurrect Krypton at the expense of Earth.
Interestingly enough, The Joker, in his more serious interpretations, is immune to the Batman Gambit based simply on the fact that he is completely unpredictable. And moreover, that if he can be bothered, he's savvy enough to see through them. Worst of all is if Batman finds himself on the receiving end of a gambit orchestrated by the Joker, something writer Scott Snyder did heavily during the times he used the character in the New 52. After all, the Joker knows Batman just as well as the Bat knows him.
"Tower of Babel", the JLA story where Batman's files are revealed and even JLA: Year One, where J'onn did much the same thing, by a period of time.
This is the kind of planning that allows Lex Luthor, with no superpowers, to mop the floor with Superman nearly every time the two of them meet. (Until Supes eventually wins, of course.)
A Pre-Crisis Superman story had Luthor falling in love, turning good, curing a deadly disease, marrying, and even allowing Superman to read his mind (with a machine) to convince his former foe that he'd changed- but it was all a trick; he erased his own memories of the plan and arranged it so that he genuinely believed he had reformed in order to lure Superman into an inescapable trap. His only error was that he had to make himself forget that he was already married (to an alien woman) for the plan to work... and Superman was aware of that.
Superman pulled one of these on Darkseid, and himself in The Supergirl from Krypton. After rescuing Supergirl from being a Female Fury, Supes inducts her as an official hero and sort of parades her around Earth. Angered about losing his prize, Darkseid comes to Earth and seemingly vaporizes her with his Omega Beams. Superman goes apeshit over losing her and beats Darkseid to a pulp and seals him inside the Source Wall. Superman then meets with Supergirl, who used a device to teleport away at the last second, and reports that the plan was successful. They were able to goad Darkseid into coming to fight them personally, and the mere sight of Supergirl's seeming death was able to trigger Superman's Unstoppable Rage so he could curb stomp Darkseid's ass. Batman muses that the plan had no input from him, it was all Clark, and it was brilliant.
War World: Superman's plan to destroy the titular super-weapong was goading Mongul into firing at Supergirl and him until overloading Warworld's circuits.
Supergirl: Uh-Oh! Something tells me Mongul isn't kidding anymore! Superman: Perfect! He's reacting exactly as I'd hoped he would!
Kryptonite Nevermore: A group of pirates raid a freighter to distract the Coast Guard. Meanwhile, the main body of their band captures a Government facility.
Supergirl's specialty regarding Batman Gambits is using them to Out Gambit villains' Batman Gambits:
A double subversion occurs in a story from the Silver Age. Supergirl encounters Black Flame, a woman who seems to be a super-powered Kryptonian, in the process of some rather destructive vandalism. The villainess claims she's from the distant future of the year 4000, and "invites" Supergirl to view her time using a computerized exhibition device. It shows the heroine a terrible future where Black Flame extorts wealth from thousands of worlds (as in, she can blow them to little pieces if they don't comply). Worst part: she's Supergirl’s direct descendent, "Supergirl XXV", and the citizens of this distant future despise the first one just as much for starting this hated family line. Supergirl is naturally very upset, and after pursuing numerous leads (she senses something fishy here) including visiting the bottled city of Kandor, and eventually decides to unearth a chuck of gold kryptonite, and use it to erase her own powers, eliminating the possibility she could pass them down to a descendant, in effect, making Black Flame Ret Gone. Then Black Flame appears with a cruel laugh, revealing her true identity, that of an assistant of a criminal from the Kandor who was interred in the Phantom Zone. Black Flame had set up the plan out of revenge, leaving Kandor and using something called Red-K to increase her size, then pulled the ruse hoping Supergirl would depower herself. After listening to the powerless heroine her beg a little, she shoves Supergirl into a pit of quicksand and watches her drown. Or so it seems. Black Flame gets a big surprise as the Red-K wears off, shrinking herself to normal size, because Supergirl actually figured the plan out, and was outgambitting her with her own Batman Gambit; now that she's shrunk, Supergirl grabs her, showing her the - fake - chuck of gold kryptonite and shoving her inside a make-up compact that holds a few minute grains of real gold kryptonite. As she ships the criminal back to Kandor, the last panel of the story shows the one flaw in Black Flame's plan - a cavity in her teeth with a dental filling that Supergirl noticed while investigating records in a Kandor dental clinic, something a superpowered descendant would not have,
In another story, Mr. Mxyzptlk (well, a relative of his) commands everyone in the 40th century to believe Supergirl is a criminal. Supergirl is captured with Kryptonite, tried, and sentenced to have the word "OUTLAW" branded on her forehead. Afterwards Kara is marginalized, insulted and bullied until she cracks and decides that "[She's]] been branded an outlaw, so [she'll] be one!" just like Mxy had planned. Or rather, planned, but failed. Supergirl's act of rage was an act to fool him into revealing himself which he did.
In the Red Daughter of Krypton storyline, two villains tried to pull off separate Batman Gambits to defeat Supergirl:
Lobo tries to use Supergirl's rage against her by taunting her into not holding back. As such, Dr. Veritas teleports them out of the Block to prevent their fight from damaging it. Once outside, Lobo calls his ship and flies to Supergirl's old apartment in New York, hoping to calm her down. He then tries to be friendly to her offering to mentor her so she can learn to control her rage. Big mistake. Supergirl has had it with people trying to manipulate her and gives him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
Worldkiller-1 had taken over the body of an alien warlord and wanted to steal Supergirl's body. However he couldn't destroy his host body. So he goaded Supergirl to use her Eye Beams on him until she reduced his body to ashes involuntarily.
In 2005 story arc "Girl Power", Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have to spot an imposter Supergirl. Superman hits both Supergirls, assuming that his real cousin will not retaliate. His plan fails because both girls fight back.
Ozymandias needs super-powerful Dr. Manhattan out of the picture in order to carry out his plan. To accomplish this, Ozymandias connives to induce cancer in several of Manhattan's associates, then arranges for him to appear on a live television talk show where a journalist will ambush him with the accusation of having caused the cancers. This predictably drives Manhattan (whose emotional connection to humanity had been weakening for years) to decide that life on Earth isn't worth the hassle and teleport to Mars.
The Comedian's murder had already left Rorschach wondering whether someone was "gunning for masks" (i.e., planning to kill all the active and retired superheroes). When Dr. Manhattan is forced into exile, Rorschach recognizes that he was framed, and becomes convinced that a mask-killer is at work. He's wrong, but Ozymandias decides to encourage Rorschach's belief by making himself the next target. Through intermediaries, he hires an assassin to kill him, then evades the attack, disarms the assassin, and kills him in a way that looks like suicide. This not only convinces Nite Owl and the others that Rorschach is right, but also puts Ozymandias himself beyond suspicion. Later, Ozymandias contrives to have Rorschach arrested under circumstances that make him appear to be the mask-killer.
In the end, Nite Owl and Rorschach discover that Ozymandias is responsible, but when they (along with Dr. Manhattan and Silk Spectre) confront him with the evidence, he reveals that his plot has averted World War III, and the others can't ever disclose what they know without jeopardizing the peace and possibly bringing about the destruction of all life on Earth. They are forced to help him cover up his crimes. It's also implied that Nite Owl and Rorschach only uncover the truth because Ozymandias has left the evidence for them to find on his office computer, protected only by a very weak password (and a user interface that actually tells them when they have a partial match and encourages them to keep guessing). By luring them to his Antarctic headquarters while Ozymandias's masterstroke is being carried out in New York, he ensures that they can't interfere with it (and, in fact, don't even know it's happening until too late).
In a crossover with Daredevil and The Defenders, the hero and team find themselves at the mercy of the Grandmaster and an old Doctor Doom robot called the Prime Mover and the Grandmaster is able to beat the Prime Mover and obtain the Earth. When he decides he wants to turn Earth into a breeding ground for super-powered pawns, Daredevil challenges him to a game of heads or tails, double or nothing, playing with the Grandmaster's addiction to gambling. Though Daredevil cheats to win, the entire plan hinged on Grandmaster accepting. Hawkeye would pull the same trick years later with even more blatant cheating.
Grandmaster is one of the Elders of the Universe, each is the last survivor of an ancient race that has adopt a particular hat in order to have a focus and be ablet to survive the boredom of immortality. Likewise, the particular obsession can be used to turn the tables on them (e.g. threaten to start smashing The Collector's stuff).
Believe it or not, Deadpool. You see, everyone thinks that Deadpool's a moron. He's not. This was proved without a doubt when he executed a plan involving the manipulation of the X-Men, HAMMER, Norman Osborn, some random called Kincaid, the SFPD, the public, the local news, and a chicken, over the course of five issues. Deadpool first declared to the X-Men that he was going to kill Kincaid, causing a public fiasco, making the X-Men look like criminals, then, he proceeded to interrupt a live broadcast, wearing a home made X-Men outfit, then, he let himself be captured by Domino, knowing that her morals would mean that when Cyclops ordered Wolverine to "take Deadpool out of the picture", she would protect him, then, Deadpool got Domino to tell him her greatest fear, then stuck the chicken, (which was Domino's worst fear) into an air vent in a train station, knowing full well that Osborn would put Kincaid in an open spot to GET him killed to make the X-Men look bad, fully expecting the X-Men to try to save Kincaid by way of a vent, pulling out the lights FIRST to add to the confusion. Then he flushed Kincaid into the open. While Kincaid was in the open, Deadpool kept an eye out for snipers, PROTECTING Kincaid, while making it look like he was going to kill him. Then, when Wolverine saved Kincaid, Deadpool made a run for it, and fought the X-Men (except for Wolverine who would, by now, be in on the plot, Deadpool made sure of that) on the roof, allowing a camera guy taken by Wolverine to film them, making the X-Men look like heroes, and Osborn to look like an incompetent buffoon, just as planned!
This aspect of Deadpool's personality was lampshaded by Nick Fury in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 where Nick Fury states that with his intelligence and skill, Deadpool would easily be the most dangerous being on the entire planet if it weren't for his insanity preventing him from doing too much.
The founding of the Thunderbolts was likely the most elaborate example of this Trope in Marvel. With most citizens at the brink of the Despair Event Horizon after Onslaught seemingly kills The Avengers and the Fantastic Four, Baron Zemo comes up with a brilliantEvil Plan, which is to gather the former members of the Masters of Evil and use new identities, posing as heroes to gain the public's trust until they could strike by complete surprise. And it worked brilliantly. Nobody, not the government, the media, nor the remaining heroes like Comic Book/((Spider Man}} ever suspected a thing. The plan may well have succeeded, had not half the original team not discovered that being respected and admired had more benefits to being hated and feared.
In Earth X, Captain America uses Alicia Master's Marvels (animated clay fashioned in the guise of Earth's heroes) to have an army immune to the Skull's mind-control, and to preoccupy the supervillain's superhuman slave army. Cap then disguises himself as a Marvel made in his image to fool the Skull into believing he's also immune to the boy's powers, allowing Cap to get in close and snap the Skull's neck
In Excalibur, it is revealed that Merlyn arranged the formation of Excalibur and manipulated many subsequent events (including faking his own death), in order to ultimately prevent the collapse of Merlyn's Energy Matrix and destroy Merlyn's former teacher Necrom. The gambit is only half-successful: while Necrom is destroyed, Captain Britain and Meggan create a feedback loop in the Energy Matrix and destroy it, greatly reducing Merlyn's power.
Was all this deception really necessary? - Merlyn's daughter Roma
Fantastic Four: If you know anything about Victor Von Doom, you can easily see why this trope could just as well be called The Doom Gambit (most of them involve him being Actually a Doombot).
It's part of the same gambit, but it's worth pointing out that a substantial part of Warlock's gambit was to script an entire battle involving more than a dozen of the galaxy's strongest warriors sacrificing their lives, to get Thanos to raise his hand at the right moment.
Warlock's evil half the Magus is not to be outdone in the sequel crossoverThe Infinity War, implementing an elaborate scheme geared towards the acquisition of the Infinity Gauntlet. Unfortunately, two Chessmasters (three, if you count Thanos' duplicitous doppelganger) are better than one, and after Warlock and Thanos discern the Magus' end game, they execute a counter-scheme that sabotages the villain's newfound godhood, and ultimately leads to his defeat.
The Iron Man comic showed that Howard Stark pulled an epic one during "The Secret Origin of Tony Stark". Howard and Maria Stark were expecting a child, but they come to find out that their child was very ill. He wouldn't be able to be active at all if not be dead. Enter the Rigellian Recorder robot 451, who promises that he can heal him in exchange for using him for a powerful robot that is said to help lead humanity into a golden age of peace and prosperity. However, Howard realizes that all of 451's talks of this use Alexander the Great as an example and realizes that his son would live, only to die years later. What does he do? He finds a way to negate 451's modifications, then, while hiding the child away, adopts another and proclaims him to be his son. The boy he adopted? Tony Stark. When 451 came to collect, he had no idea of what had happened.
Absorbing Man isn't exactly a genius, but he's good at using his powers, and always tries to absorb the properties of Thor's hammer or Cap's shield if either hero is present. In one story, Thor anticipated this and fooled him into thinking a papier-mâché duplicate of his hammer was the real thing. having absorbed the properties of papier-mâché, the villain was defeated easily.
Odin has one of his own, when it's revealed during the "Disassembled/Ragnarok" story arc that all of the trials and tribulations that Odin had put Thor through over the years (centuries, millennia) were preparing him to finally be the god to put an end to the Ragnarok Cycle once and for all.
If you followed Thor since Avengers Disassembled, and through Dark Reign and Siege, and up until now, you probably already know this. If you didn't, read this and realize who the real orchestrator behind everything that happened was. Loki. In short? Loki was shown to ensure his own adoption by Odin, caused the last Ragnarok, made sure Thor would revive all the gods, manipulated humans, gods, demons and Doom to ensure he won't have an afterlife and that he would be reincarnated, caused Osborn's downfall, made it possible for Asgard to exist without harming Yggdrasil, all with everyone around him being clueless. And the best part? No one has yet realized the magnitude of the plan that was executed or the reason behind it.
In Loki: Agent of Asgard, the main villain of the piece manages to pull off one of these that involves time-travel, murdering a shapeshifter who looks like an otter, setting the shapeshifter's brothers against each other, a young Odin, Asgard's greatest hero, and shooting a giant fish that's actually a dwarf with a bazooka, all to cause the creation of a sword that the current Loki acquired before the series began.
The Mole on the team in Runaways attributes this to the success of their plan near the end of the first volume - specifically, they let Nico suggest part of it after arranging things so there wouldn't be many other options.
Pretty much all of Spider-Man's victories against supervillains depend on Batman Gambits, especially ones much more powerful than he is. Spider-Man will either set up in advance or improvise on the spot various traps and goad his enemies into falling into them, and even if he can beat a supervillain in straight combat, he'll joke around and mock them into fury and carelessness to make the fight easier.
Tombstone pulled one of these off in a Spider-Man Tangled Webs story that featured him as a Villain Protagonist. After suffering a heart attack (due to his very unhealthy diet) Tombstone was arrested and sent to the super-villain prison the Raft, where he quickly developed an enmity with a crooked correction officer and the Kangaroo, who the correction officer used as his enforcer to keep the inmates in line. Tombstone planned to murder the Kangaroo, but he had a problem – his cellmate, the Spot, learned of the plan, and didn’t want to be an accessory to murder, seeing as he was up for parole soon. Tombstone threatened the much weaker man, but the Spot betrayed the plan to the guards anyway (even though turning stool-pigeon on any inmate, much less one like Tombstone, is usually suicide) and Tombstone was caught in the act. He was sent to solitary, where the crooked officer tormented him and kept his medication from him, while the Spot was granted parole for his act. Eventually, Tombstone got sicker and sicker, until he had a second heart attack. The crooked officer knew he was in trouble, because Tombstone would be transferred, and the Kangaroo wouldn’t work for him if Tombstone survived. So his Number Two arranged for the guy to personally guard the villain as the ambulance transferred him so he could kill the villain and Make It Look Like an Accident. That’s when Tombstone’s long-prepared escape plan came to fruition, and it was revealed that the Number Two and the Spot had been in on it all along. The Spot opened a portal to Switzerland (where Tombstone could get better medical treatment with confidentiality) and the villain killed the correction officer during the transit. (Unfortunately for the Spot, Tombstone later repaid him by snapping his neck, showing that while his heart was healed, it was still black as pitch.)
Nick Fury in the Ultimate Marvel universe performs one of these. In order to eliminate a dangerous assassin and recover the high tech rifle he possesses, Fury anonymously contacts the assassin and orders a hit on himself. He manages to successfully lure the assassin into the open and kill him.
The best part. The assassin is armed with a gun with X Ray Vision and a Magic Bullet that will phase through any barriers between him and his target. As he's setting up his aim, the last thing he sees is Nick Fury aiming the only other copy of this same rifle at him. He didn't just call a hit on himself, he slipped the assassin just enough information about his own schedule so that he'd know exactly when and where the assassin would attack.
In Wolverine: Origins, Wolverine has a plan with Bucky. The first part of the plan requires Bucky to hire a mercenary to attack Wolverine. Bucky hires everyone's favorite fourth-wall destroying, partially insane, merc with a mouth, because Bucky knows how he hates that everyone thinks he's a Wolverine knock-off — so Deadpool will draw Wolverine into a very noticeable battle. Deadpool is also the only guy who could have a chance against Wolverine. Hence, the battle ensues, and eventually Deadpool has Wolverine hanging above a secret pool so that he can drown him, which may take a long time. But then, Wolverine's son, Daken, shows up, Bucky shoots Daken with a special bullet that will dull his healing factor, keeping him knocked out for a long time, so Wolverine can un-brainwash him. It turns out, that was the entire point of everything. Deadpool did not get paid.
During the OnslaughtCrisis Crossover , it was revealed that Professor X (like Batman) kept secret files on how to kill each X-Man in case they went rogue, including himself (which was good, since Onslaught was created from a combination of Xavier's and Magneto's minds).
The "Xavier Protocols", as these plans are known, eventually end up becoming important plot elements in various other arcs.
In Curse of the Mutants, Xarus's vampire army manages to turn Wolverine. Xarus then puts Logan in the lead of his attack on Utopia, as a psychological gambit to demoralise the mutants. Then, just when Xarus thinks he can't lose, Cyclops reveals the vampirism only worked because Dr Nemesis shut off Wolvie's Healing Factor, and turns it back on. Now Wolverine's back, very unhappy, knows where Xarus is based, and the vamps really aren't expecting him to turn on them.
Cyclops: I had to assume the possibility that you'd get bitten and turned. In fact, I counted on it.
Jubilee was actually able to pull off one of these in an early issue of Generation X, the first time the team dealt with Emplate, the demonic mutant brother of the M-Twins, who could feed off the genetic material of other mutants and assimilate their abilities. Emplate managed to capture and subdue the entire team (even Emma Frost, believe it or not) and had them at his mercy. So Jubilee suddenly decides to spend the time insulting him. (The best one? She parodies David Letterman with "The Top Ten Reasons Emplate is a Loser", number one being that despite all he's doing, he's still not as annoying as his sister M.) After enduring one and a half issues of this, Emplate loses his temper, and uses his draining power on her, only to find out that Jubilee was trying to make him angry on purpose, because she has been known to lose control of her powers when she's angry. Because she succeeds in tricking Emplate into assimilating her powers when he's enraged, well, the results are explosive, and the team is able to fight back.
A character in the Blacksad album "Artic Nation" is in the middle of one several decades in the making. A key factor in this plot is marrying her own father, while keeping him from discovering this particular bit of information. She succeeds at most of her goals, but her sister is killed in the process and her niece rendered an orphan.
Susie pulls off a far-more complex one during a story arc in which Calvin steals Susie's "Binky Betsy" doll and holds it for ransom, demanding $100 for her return (via an "anonymous" note signed "Sincerely, Calvin.") Susie puts an envelope by "the tree out front," as she was instructed to do, but hides behind the tree, out of Calvin's line of sight. Calvin sees the envelope and is overjoyed, thinking she caved and coughed up the money. However, just as Susie had planned, Calvin takes his eyes off of Hobbes for a few seconds to check the envelope, inside of which is no money, but a note that reads "Now we're even." Calvin is confused and has no idea what that means... until he turns to see Susie running off with Hobbes, whom SHE holds for ransom. Susie even comes out ahead, because in the ensuing toy exchange, Susie gets both "Binky Betsy" and a quarter in exchange for Hobbes.
In The Black Knight GLORPS Again! by Don Rosa, Arpin Lusene is out to regain his melts-anything-it-touches suit of armor from Scrooge McDuck. At the armor's supposed resting place, he finds that the armor has been replaced with a note stating that it is not there... which Arpin anticipated, and therefore brought a tiny saw along. With it, he saws silhouettes of a knight's armor in the walls, so Scrooge later believes that Arpin has regained his armor and walked through the walls. Worried, Scrooge goes to check out the armor at its true resting place, Arpin tailing him and stealing it.
Scrooge McDuck has himself conducted Batman Gambits, of which his archrival, John D. Rockerduck, is frequently the victim.
In one story, Scrooge launches an epic scheme involving deliberately cooling down the Earth, risking 100 billion Euros of his own money in the process, and using his understanding of Rockerduck's greediness (of which Scrooge himself is in no short supply) that Rockerduck will buy the whole project off of him in the hopes of reaping massive profits. The project is a money-loser, and Scrooge reveals this only after Rockerduck has paid Scrooge. The sole purpose of this risky scheme? Scrooge was worried that Rockerduck would soon pass him as Richest Duck in the World, and this was a way to get Rockerduck to burn some money on a lousy investment and remain in second place.
In another story, Scrooge takes out a massive insurance policy on his ship from Rockerduck's insurance company, and he makes it look like he deliberately sank his own ship for the insurance proceeds. Scrooge counts on Rockerduck to take him to court for insurance fraud, where Scrooge reveals that his ship never sank and that he stands falsely accused by Rockerduck. He points out to the court that Rockerduck smeared Scrooge's good name with the fraud accusations, and demands compensation. The sole purpose of this convoluted scheme? To force Rockerduck to hand over ownership of a small, worthlessalmost (It did have some pearl oysters in the surrounding waters.) island. An island that Scrooge wanted only because Rockerduck had it, and he didn't.
A Mickey Mouse story showed the Phantom Blot pulling off a magnificent gambit. It gets complicated, so listen carefully:
The police know that the Phantom Blot will be leaving town from either the harbour, the airport or the train station, but aren't sure which of the places he'll choose.
The Blot kidnaps Mickey, and forces him to tell the police that the Blot will be travelling by train. If Mickey reveals that this is a lie, the Blot will murder him with a bomb.
Mickey manages to avoid the bomb, and tells the police that the train-thing was a lie and that the Blot will actually be travelling by plane or by boat. The police immediately send all available troops to the harbour and the airport, completely abandoning the train station.
This is exactly what the Phantom Blot expected would happen, so he's travelling by train as the police are scouring the harbour and airport.
The Mickey Mouse story "Ticket to Bong" has an entire African tribe pull this on Pete. Pete is expecting to receive a priceless inheritance from his uncle, and is pretending that he's abandoned the life of crime in order to live up to the conditions of the will. Unbeknownst to Pete, his inheritance is an African diamond mine that the tribe was once cheated out of, and they concoct a scheme to get it back. They organize a quiz contest with the questions are specifically rigged so that only two people — Pete and Mickey Mouse — could possibly answer them all. The prize for both is an overseas trip to the tribe's village. In the end, the pressure of trying to act honest, having to endure Mickey's presence, and the temptation of the nearby diamond mine ripe for the robbing, all eventually drive Pete to drop his act and commit outright burglary — thus losing all rights to the mine, exactly according to the tribesmen's plan.
Mr. Natural uses this on just about everyone, which makes them even madder when they realize how easily he's able to manipulate them.
In the 13-issue story "The Kindly Ones" from The Sandman series, Death calls Dream out on having orchestrated a Batman Gambit. This gambit is a suicide. It's also implied that only two others in existence realize what's happened: Puck who says that he could discuss the subject "endlessly", and Loki, who doesn't realize he's been played until it's too late for him.
In "A Dame to Kill For", Ava leaves Dwight McCarthy for millionaire Damien Lord; then, four years later, comes to Dwight pretending to be afraid of Damien and his servant Manute, playing on Dwight's Lancelot complex to get Dwight to investigate and ultimately kill Damien, leaving her Damien's money.
In "That Yellow Bastard", Senator Roark keeps Detective Hartigan from receiving a few letters from the only friend he has left, "Cordelia" (Nancy Callahan, though Roark doesn't know it), then sends Hartigan a severed finger. Predictably, Hartigan, thinking Nancy's in danger, does what he has to in order to make parole so he can rescue Nancy, then goes looking for her, only to find she was safe and unharmed until that moment, when he accidentally revealed to Roark's son, who had been following him since he left prison, that "Cordelia" was Nancy.
Snively pulls something like this a few times in trying to get rid of his dear uncle Robotnik/Eggman in Sonic the Hedgehog, befitting his role as The Starscream. The first Robotnik, his "dear" Uncle Julian, was killed when his superweapon, the Ultimate Annihilator, is destroyed - Snively had sabotaged it and knew it was a matter of time before the Freedom Fighters would find a way to aim it at him, as he was now the only one who could be killed. The second Robotnik, Dr. Eggman, was slowly being driven insane by his constant losses. All he had to do was call his new love, the Iron Queen, and let her know when the Egg finally broke.
Udon Comics has a fun one, in Street Fighter Legends. Karin challenges Sakura to a contest, ANY contest... and Sakura comes up with a Hot-Dog Eating Contest. Karin quickly comes up with the plan. She asks to, at least, be able to pick the time and place of the next contest. She cheats like mad, relying on Sakura to go all out. Sakura does so, and it looks like Karin might win, until it's revealed she was cheating. She goes to her back-up plan. Admit defeat in the stupid, stupid contest, and challenge Sakura IMMEDIATELY to a martial arts match, which Karin wanted. Handicapped. Right there, right now. Sakura, meanwhile, was busy trying not to throw up. It would be a good Xanatos Gambit, if it wasn't for the simple failure condition of Sakura calling foul. Sakura could have NOT exhausted herself in the hot-dog contest, or simply refused the fight. But Sakura is not the person to do that.
Spider Jerusalem pulls one in the climax of Transmetropolitan. The first time he meets Gary Callahan he was able to record him with the use of "Source Gas". In their future meetings Callahan is smart enough to nullify such tricks, preventing Spider from getting any dirt on him. But as the story goes on Spider becomes less like a crusading journalist and more like an outright revolutionary, carrying real guns and using lethal force on assailants. After successfully ruining the president's career, he drives the final nail when Callahan meets him one last time to kill him. He has Spider repeatedly scanned for weapons and prepares to have him shot, claiming Spider nonetheless got a gun past security and it was self-defense. Unfortunately for the President, he was relying too much on his belief that Spider had lost it, and forgot the first trick he ever played on him. Spider is soaked in Source Gas, and Callahan is exposed.
W.I.T.C.H. had one that spectacularly failed. In the "New Power" arc, the Oracle learns that there's a new threat to Kandrakar, one so powerful that the girls wouldn't be able to handle it on their own. The big plan was to have the Oracle revive hidden memories inside Matt that made him realize he was once part of Kandrakar, have him take the girl's magic while they were asleep so the Oracle could give them brand new powers, have Matt train them in those new powers, then have them go and beat up the threat. And while they do that, he seals up Kandrakar and basically goes "It's on them, now. Let's wait and see." The Gambit fails due to the fact that the threat already had a foothold on Kandrakar way before he set things into motion and when the girls come to save the day, it takes Yan Lin to smack some sense into the suddenly-overly cocky team and get them to win. It's no wonder the Oracle stepped down and gave the position to Yan Lin after that.
The Herder Witch: Morie the witch is suspicious of star seers (stars that resemble people), but decides to trust them after they tell her about a kidnapped father she could rescue. It's only after she's completed that job that she discovers that they told her about it so they could lure her out into an open field for capture.