"I defeated his minions, and he cackled and said, 'Exactly as I planned.'
I discovered his secret fortress. 'Exactly as I planned.'
I breached his defenses, and still he said, 'Exactly as I planned.'
I slew him in single combat, and with his dying breath he gasped, 'Exactly as I planned.'
I stood over his grave and I said, 'You never really got the hang of planning, did you?'"
Looks like there's trouble for the villain. The heroes destroyed his Phlebotinum
research facility, the government realized that the man they thought was the president was actually an evil robotic duplicate, and his entire accounting staff has just turned into mimes
. What's his response?
Everything is going according to plan.
That one little phrase is all it takes to cause even the most apparently monumental loss to be completely turned on its head. Was the villain Crazy-Prepared
enough to ensure that even his failure somehow turns into a victory
? Did he prepare a plan only just incompetent enough that the heroes could predictably defeat him
? Or was his Evil Plan
something else entirely?
Well, we're not going to find out anytime soon. In all likelihood, he's relying on the Unspoken Plan Guarantee
to catch everyone off guard so that we can proceed to the real plot
. Stay tuned next week for the exciting new development!
Compare Gambit Roulette
where even probability itself
goes all according to plan.
In terms of writing, this is a relatively meta trope in that in most cases it's technically irrelevant. Regardless of whether anyone actually says the phrase, whatever gambits are floating around are still floating around. This is because the phrase is used primarily as reassurance, either for the audience or other characters. Strictly speaking it can be used with plans that as far as anyone can tell are already
going as planned — it's just a status update so that we only ever worry when people stop saying it.
At the same time, watch out for the Spanner in the Works
. They're notorious for popping up right when something like this gets said
When it's too late for the Spanner in the Works
to do anything, and the whole plan gets explained, then the trope is Check and Mate
Since complex schemes are often involved in this trope, be wary of spoilers.
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Anime and Manga
- Light Yagami of Death Note uses this phrase when his Memory Gambit and Batman Gambit to convince the police and his own family that he is not in possession of the titular murder weapon, and is not the known serial killer, Kira goes perfectly right. Just as Light regains his memories, after touching the Death Note once more, he mentally cants, "Exactly as planned," a phrase that has reached memetic status.
- The Japanese subtitled version will most likely say "Just as planned," rather than "Exactly as planned".
- Light also thinks a phrase very close to this one during the final showdown, after Near explains his plan to prove that Light is Kira. Of course, things don't go according to plan for him... There aren't any spoilers on the page linked to above, but no promises if you look at any of the other pages in that chapter.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gendo Ikari (along with his right-hand man, Fuyutsuki) and the members of SEELE were fond of saying things were going "all according to the scenario." Should be noted that they were ultimately pulling for different scenarios, but no matter what, whatever happened was always according to the scenario or irrelevant to it.Their differing scenarios diverge at the end, so it makes sense. At the point where something went according to Gendo's scenario that was NOT according to SEELE's scenario, SEELE sent in the JSSDF to kill every single last person at NERV HQ.
- Lelouch of Code Geass is fond of saying "the preliminary conditions have been met", as well as many variations of that phrase. Unfortunately for him, that line is roughly his version of "What could possibly go wrong" in that the Spanner hits the Works about 2 nanoseconds later. ie, Things are going just as planne-Oh no, IT'S THE LANCELOT! *boom*
- Bleach has Sousuke Aizen. When things go not quite as planned, he still has a backup plan. Sometimes he doesn't but being the Magnificent Bastard he is he'll make you think he did and then it goes all according to plan because you gave him time to make it so.
- Naruto With Madara Uchiha revealing he caused the incident with Rin that lead Obito down the path of his Moon's Eye Plan thus causing a lot of the story to happen.
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle inverts the trope. With all the Scry vs. Scry going on the Big Bad admits that "It looks like my plan won't go exactly per my prepared script." There are entire chapters with one Chess Master or another detailing what did or did not go wrong after a major event.
- Zeo from One Piece both subverts this and takes it to ridiculous extremes, claiming that absolutely everything goes according to his plans. Even the bad stuff. Especially the bad stuff.
- For example, his response to getting knocked down and Brook standing on his head? He's actually slowly wearing him down by headbutting his foot.
- Played for Laughs, naturally, in Hayate the Combat Butler, with a combination of Briar Patching and someone failing to see that the situation was Not What It Looks Like. The silly part? The character who does the spot-on Light Yagami Shout-Out is Shiranui, a 12-week old kitten.
- Subverted in the Final Battle of Jojos Bizarre Adventure Part 2, Battle Tendency. Just when it looks like The Bad Guy Wins, Joseph Joestar manages to turn everything around: he uses the Red Stone of Aja to intercept and amplify Kars' deathblow, causing the volcano they're on to erupt and launching them skyward on a giant slab of rock. Kars attempts to escape, only to get hit by Joseph's severed left arm (also launched by the blast after Kars cut it off), which distracts him long enough for rocks launched from the landmass at high speeds to strike him and propel him into space. Before he leaves the atmosphere, Kars angrily demands to know if Joseph planned all of this out; Joseph says "Of course, you dolt!" but thinks to himself "Actually I didn't, but thinking that I did will drive him crazy!"
- Yuuji Sakamoto acts this way in Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts, but his tactics ZigZag for comedic effect.
- The Hope of the Senju Clan has Sarutobi "The Professor/God of Shinobi" Hiruzen (3rd Hokage) explain at length to Kakashi, Kushina, Yamato, Kurenai and Asuma how Senju Naruto (Tsunade's his mom) is to be trained and by who as well as other incidental things showing that he's got his bases covered with Naruto's training and safety. The next scene has a council meeting where Danzo tries to make a ploy to get Naruto trained under him. The reader can then see and predict how different parts of Sarutobi's plan come in to block Danzo. No matter what tactic Danzo uses. It's actually pretty cool.
- Star Wars
- Subverted in The Dark Knight. While the Joker says these (or nearly these) exact words, he's describing how other people tend to make intricate plans and schemes, while he (nominally) is an agent of chaos.
- This is used as a Sequel Hook in Warrior of the Lost World, where the defeat of Omega and the "death" of Prosser were (apparently) all part of the master plan to destroy The New Way for good.
- Undercover Brother. An alarm goes off at Multinational Inc. and reveals that the BROTHERHOOD agent Undercover Brother has infiltrated the building. Instead of being dismayed, The Dragon Mr. Feather says "The Brotherhood is making their move. Just as I expected."
- Foundation. Throughout the series, Hari Seldon did this from beyond the grave, planning for several millennia worth of events. He did this To the point that he was looked upon as a near-godlike being whose periodic, pre-recorded predictions helped govern the galactic civilization. In the midst of a massive war sparked by a mutant called "The Mule" it came time for one of his predictions, and governments from all across the stars flocked to hear it. He cheerfully announced that, after the brief turmoils with the trade guilds had so quickly pacified, everything should now be going nicely again and here's how you set up reparations. Cue the most high-population Mass "Oh, Crap!" in possibly any medium, ever. To be fair to Seldon, the chief of the trade guilds says something like "We were planning a rebellion before all this shit came down."
- In the Dollhouse episode "Needs," Adelle DeWitt uses a somewhat different phrase to give the same effect:
Dominic: "I was just informed that we have four actives planning to escape."
DeWitt: (smiles) "...Right on schedule."
- In the season six finale of Star Trek: Voyager, three senior members of the Voyager's crew (including Captain Janeway) beam over to a Borg ship. After infiltrating it, they are eventually caught and assimilated. The crew on the ship has been monitoring their life signs, and they detect the assimilation of the three. Commander Chakotay's response?
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- The Mayor (the Big Bad for Season 3) is more Genre Savvy on this. Faith is eager for some action and asks her boss if there's likely to be any fighting. The Mayor replies no, not if everything goes according to plan "but since when do things go according to plan?"
- Played straight with the heroine in "The Freshman". Buffy is spying on a nest of vampires when she falls through the skylight into their midst.
Sunday: I must say, you've really got me now. I mean, it's a diabolical plan, throw yourself at my feet with a broken arm and no weapons of any kind. How'm I going to get out of this one?
Buffy: You got a nice set-up here, but you made one mistake.
Sunday: Yeah? What was that?
: Well, I'm not actually positive, but statistically speaking people usually make at least— (Sunday makes Buffy Talk to the Fist
- On the Firefly episode "Jaynestown", the contact Mal meets up with is upset the townspeople have embraced Jayne as a hero. Mal assures the contact that it's all according to their new plan.
Kaylee: (after the contact leaves) Sir, how exactly is this part of our-
Mal: Still workin' the details.
- Doctor Who: During a conversation at the beginning of Genesis of the Daleks, a Time Lord smugly tells the Doctor that he is a "special case" in Time Lord history, that they "allow" him his freedom to roam about the universe doing whatever he feels like. Never mind that he ran away in a stolen TARDIS before anyone could stop him. Not to mention the Master, or the Rani, or the Meddling Monk. It turns out he's referring to what the Doctor is allowed to do after he was caught and served his penance on Earth.
- Warhammer 40,000
- This is part of the Tzeentchians' hat. Tzeentch is essentially the God of Evil plans, gambits and other schemes, worshipped by sorcerers and the ambitious, who sees so far into the future that all his plans are mutually contradictory: the success of one means the failure of another and vice versa. It is customary, when reducing your opponent to incoherent rage and SkywardScreaming, to smile smugly and declare "Just as Planned" (Gendo glasses and hands optional). More information here.
- Games Workshop has hinted that the failure of all thirteen Black Crusades, which has given Abaddon the Despoiler a reputation as a General Failure, were actually this trope. How better to gauge your enemy's strength over the millennia? Moreover, the assumption that the Black Crusades failed contradicts the manifest unwillingness of the Chaos Gods to tolerate failure, and their equally manifest willingness to allow Abbadon to remain Warmaster for 10,000 years. This line of thought makes Abbadon even more horrifying than he prima facie is: he has convinced players of the game that he's incompetent, even while giving his unholy patrons exactly what they want. That is Dangerously Genre Savvy Obfuscating Stupidity on a cosmic scale.
- This trope is played for laughs in one of the margin-quotes from Nobilis.
- In the Dune board game, when playing the Bene Gesserit faction, at the beginning of the game you secretly write a faction name and a turn number on a paper. If the written faction wins the game on the written turn, you reveal it and win the game instead, showing that everything that happened had in fact be been planned long in advance by the Bene Gesserit to serve their own goals. This is one of the most pleasant ways to win the game.
- It is very rare to actually win a Dune game this way, but it can be used for manipulative ends ("Wait... It seems I can win now, but could it be some Bene Gesserit trick ?")
- The worst thing (or the best, if you're playing BG), is that it works even if the predicted faction wins as part of an alliance, and even if the Bene Gesserit are themselves part of that alliance. In this case, the Bene Gesserit is the only winner instead of winning as part of the alliance. This make many players quite distrustful of the Bene Gesserit as allies.
- This is part of the Scorpion Clan's Hat in Legend of the Five Rings. They would have people believe that everything they do is part of a Xanatos Gambit, including the clear failures where the "just as planned" benefits cannot possibly be worth the costs.
- Subverted in the Errant Story strip "Nick of Time":
Sarine: Whew! Oh thank Anilis! I thought I was about to die any second... ...
Sarine: -I mean, just as planned.
- Used a lot in Touhou Nekokayou. It even got inverted in one of the newer strips.
- The Prime of Ambition Christmas Episode filler had this twice in a row. Oh, well...
- Discussed in Monster of the Week:
: My triple-dog agenting against Skinner went according to plan, sir.
Sexy informant: Eh, everything always turns out to be according to plan.
- Homestuck: John meets the ghost of Meenah, a troll girl who is an alternate-universe counterpart of the Condesce. When she finds out she's dead, she exclaims happily that her plan worked. Turned out her plan was to kill herself and the rest of her session's players with a bomb to avoid oblivion when the Scratch happened.
- Augusgus from Tower of God utters this regarding the outcome of the Room Game and FUG's plans.
- In Helper, the main character's Catch Phrase is "as expected, as expected", hinting that he's actually much smarter than he appears.
- Referenced in the Rifftrax commentary for 300. ("I know it looks bad but its all part of the plan!" during one of the many scenes when Spartans are slaughtering large numbers of Persians.)