The only antidote to a zany scheme, is an even zanier scheme!Ricky has been pulling a Zany Scheme to keep Lucy away from the club the night the big celebrity is visiting. Lucy finds out. Instead of confronting Ricky, she enlists Fred, Ethel, and the visiting celebrity in "teaching Ricky a lesson he won't soon forget." They stage an elaborate charade, making Ricky believe his scheme has had unintended consequences. Ricky confesses and everyone yells, "Gotcha!" Usually we see a conspirator whispering, "Here's what we do," and the scene cuts away. See Unspoken Plan Guarantee. The comedic variant of Out-Gambitted. Sometimes the Zany and the Counter Zany collide in a matter-antimatter explosion, resulting in Aesops all around, on the house. If the Counter Zany is then countered, you have Zany Scheme Chicken.
— Homer, The Simpsons, "Homer Goes to College"
Examples:Anime & Manga
- In Mao-chan, the new Prime Minister starts a Monster Protection Racket to promote his "Three Aces" team... whereupon the Defense Force leaders launch their own fake alien at the same time to try to get the Defense Corps girls back in the public's good graces. Turns into a game of Zany Scheme Chicken when Yuriko launches a real alien for the girls to fight... and all of the aliens look like pandas.
- Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey: "How do you stop a pair of bad robot usses?" "By building a pair of good robot usses to fight them!"
- I Love Lucy was probably the first to do this on television. And the second and third and fourth and tenth...
- The Brady Bunch
- Three's Company
- Saved by the Bell
- Arrested Development, usually involving George Bluth's attempts to teach his children a lesson. It comes to a head in the third season with a Counter-Counter-plus-gambit-Counter Zany.
- Home Improvement, especially in earlier seasons, often had Tim and Jill pulling these in response to their children's antics in order to teach them a lesson.
- Happens occasionally on According to Jim.
- The Community episode "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" features a Gambit Pileup of Counter Zanies. Since all of them involve people being apparently shot dead only to get back up and reveal they faked the whole thing, the poor Dean ends up a nervous wreck.
- A prank war on All in the Family involving a double-date and a trans-woman (relatively sympathetically portrayed).
- The works of P. G. Wodehouse run on this trope.
- Dates back at least to William Shakespeare. Consider Much Ado About Nothing — this goes back and forth at least three times.
- The word "zany" originates from the "zanni", comic servants, of Commedia dell'Arte, who often came up with literal zany scemes.
- Whateley Universe example: when Generator hatches a plan to prank Phase with realistic shoulder angels, Phase retaliates by stealing Generator's lingerie. While Generator is standing in the middle of the cafeteria. Generator does not take this lying down.
- South Park: the boys' parents launch a Zany Scheme in which actors pretend to be the boys' time-traveling future selves, with the aim of scaring the boys away from drugs and alcohol. After discovering the truth, Stan attempts to fight the zany scheme with logic but gets nowhere. Butters, with the help of Cartman, launches a Counter Zany to get revenge on his parents (by smearing feces all over their house). Needless to say, the Zany-Counter Zany collision results in a standard Anvilicious message about communication and honesty.
- For added hilarity, Butters' Counter Zany somehow had the exact effect he hoped for; his parents apologize for the original scheme immediately, even though they would normally scold him for doing perfectly innocent stuff.
- One Spongebob Squarepants episode involves a "extremely convoluted" plot by Plankton to get the Krabby patty formula by re-friending Mr. Krabs. At the end it looks like Plankton succeeded as Krabs gives him the formula, only for the piece of paper to say, "GOTCHA," and krabs to reveal he had his own "extremely convoluted" plot to humiliate Plankton. Plankton gets a Big "NO!" at the very end.
- To clear up The Simpsons page quote, the actual episode is not an example. The first Zany Scheme was kidnapping a neighbouring schools' pig, which got the nerds expelled, and Homer tries to counter this with an even zanier scheme: having the nerds push the Dean out of the way of Homer's car, which... well it works in the long run. But yeah, it's not actually an example because both schemes were concocted by Homer.