Just. As. Planned.
"Well, what is it? Spit it out!" Evil Knight #3:
"Well, that was only the end
of a plan..." Evil Knight #1:
"What about the middle bits?
" Evil Knight #2:
"You know, where you tell us how
we're going to win the tournament." Count Geoffry:
episode 3, Tournament Day
In nearly every work, you have a Plot
. Frequently, a plan will guide the plot. Often an Evil Plan
, hatched by the villain. Some plans are complex, with so many unforeseen events acting in concert, making it a Gambit Roulette
. Other characters try to stick with A Simple Plan
, which always gets more complicated. If the character doesn't plan ahead, it's an Indy Ploy
. If you can’t figure out what subtrope a character's plan belongs to, just Pot Hole
This is a subindex to the Gambit Index
. Gambit Index
covers everything about The Plan
, such as who plans and who foils the plan, how the plan is revealed, and what is done after it works. This index covers only the plans themselves, and is divided into two categories— Types of Plans; how the scheme will work, and Specific Plans; what the scheme will accomplish. If it would fit in both, it goes in Specific Plans.
Types of Plans
Anime and Manga
- Discussed in The Chronicles of Riddick. "Because that was my plan."
- Death, from the Final Destination series, does this. And boy, it is a BIG ONE! Brace yourselves...
- Death targets Sam (from Final Destination 5, which is a prequel to the first movie) and Sam and his friends escape. Death, however, had planned for just such a thing to happen and after Candice (a friend of Sam) dies, her boyfriend Peter blames Molly, who survived in the original vision and goes after her; when Sam kills him, (after everyone else except Nathan, Peter, Sam and Molly are dead) Molly escapes Death, thus putting her on the list. So... guess where she and Sam go? Yep! Flight 180. Death later targets them there and blows up the plane.
- Alex Browning, from the FIRST Final Destination, sees this vision, panics and gets himself and his friends off. Death folds the new humans into another plan, and starts killing them off in reverse order, even catching the last ones months later and a continent away.
- As the people in the first film die off one by one, the people from Final Destination 2 witness their deaths (from offscreen) and they are mentioned in Final Destination 2. As it turns out, by witnessing the events of Final Destination meant that the people (from Final Destination 2) escaped their actual deaths and were targetted on Route 23. Again, Kimberly, the protagonist, panics and gets them all off. Once again, Death has planned for this, goes backwards down the line and kills them all of, including Clear Rivers, the only survivor from Final Destination 1.
- This is later mentioned in Final Destination 3, and Word of God states that Kimberly and Thomas, the only survivors of Final Destination 2, die five years later, just before the last three people of Final Destination 3, thus sealing the really complicated rift created by their survival.
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
- It's lampshaded in the third movie that a major part of Jack's mystique is if he somehow plans every detail in advance or just wings it.
- It can be argued that the entire third movie is a series of interlocking plans, because although all of the plans (except Jack's) are straightforward, they interact in unexpected ways.
- The wild shifting is lampshaded in On Stranger Tides.
- Specifically invoked by Isaac Asimov in Foundation And Empire (Part 1), and the whole Foundation trilogy itelf represents arguably the most colossal example ever attempted, involving an entire galaxy consisting of roughly a few quadrillion people over a period of a milennium, with a dash of Xanatos Speed Chess (The Second Foundation) thrown in to keep the whole thing from going off the rails.
- "Foundation and Earth" makes that plan the culmination of an even larger plan that spans back some 15,000 years (and forward another few if necessary). It also includes two alternate back-up plans and finally a MacGuffin Delivery Service to provide the mastermind behind it all (already coming up against the limits of being The Ageless) with a longevity boost in order to see it all through to completion.
- Played in The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan. It consisted of the Senates decision to send Percy and company to Alaska in a leaky dinghy.
- A Mage's Power: Several and Eric is a critical piece in all of them.
- Tasio has a plan to make Eric grow a spine. He incorporates later two into his own.
- Duke Selen has a plan to become King or dowager king of Ataidar. He exploits Kasile's into his own but is unaware of Tasio's.
- Kasile has a plan to ferret out her kidnappers. She has no idea that the person helping her hired them to do so.
- Each Dune book has one that drives most of the story:
- Dune was the plan to eliminate the Atreides by the Harkonnens and Corrinos, with the secondary plan of Paul's to avenge the first and bring Kynes' vision to life.
- Dune Messiah has the Tleilaxu plan to have Paul assassinated by a Manchurian Agent Duncan Idaho ghola, with the Bene Gesserit and Spacing Guild also playing a part.
- ''Children of Dune' has the Corrino plan to assassinate the twins and retake the throne.
- God-Emperor of Dune has the Ixian plot of introducing Hwi Noree to Leto's court.
- Heretics of Dune has Taraza and Odrade's plan to use their own enemy to destroy Rakis and free humanity of Leto II's lingering grip.
- Chapterhouse: Dune has Odrade's plan to unity the Bene Gesserit and Honored Matres.
- The aptly named episode "Gambit" of Blake's 7 in which Big Bad Servalan's Starscream, Travis, goes to the criminal planet of Freedom City to find the technician Docholli knowing that his nemesis, Roj Blake is also seeking Docholli because he knows the location of Federation headquarters. Travis becomes Docholli's bodyguard so that when Blake arrives, Travis can kill him. Servalan also wants to kill Docholli to prevent him from revealing his information to anyone so she pays Krantor, the lecherous ruler of Freedom City to kill Travis and Docholli, knowing that Krantor will try to torture Docholli to find out what secret he carries and that the location of Federation headquarters is of no use to him. When Krantor sends Servalan Docholli's corpse, it will be obvious that he's extorted the secret of Star One's location. Therefore to shut him up, the Federation will kill Krantor and burn Freedom City to the ground. She also makes a deal with Travis for Docholli's life. Either way Docholli and Krantor die and Freedom City is destroyed. Watching her try to explain this plan to her dimwitted Dragon Jareair is quite amusing.
- Sabrina Thompson on Survivor: One World: not particularly great at the game's mechanics, but superb at its core. Considered a serious threat to win the million against Kim Spradlin, no less by The Chessmaster herself, Sabrina pulled off the Scheherezade Gambit by threatening her with a Genghis Gambit. If she or Chelsea ended up on the bench, either of both of them would paint it as a breach of their original alliance. Piggyback on the sure thing in Spicy Latina Alicia and the third player would win by default. Bring Christina and her back story was sure to seal the deal on the spot. Given the Hatfield-and-McCoy mood of the jury at the Ponderosa, and the strong social network Sabrina had built, Kim would almost certainly be blasted with a Humiliation Conga (especially with Troyzan there). Kim did not take the easy way out, after all; she brought her original girls to face the jury. With the jury appeased, there were no major incidents, and Kim got the gold. Sabrina's Xanatos Gambit scored her the silver.
- Pulled in Friends off by Chandler to get a baby named after him (instead of Joey).
- Which, since Chandler is a Butt Monkey, backfires when the baby turns out to be a girl and the parents refuse to change the name.
- Magnificent Bastard Cyric from Forgotten Realms. This guy has so many different plans going on that even HE doesn't know about all of them sometimes. The guy is a little Axe Crazy. One of his greatest plans involved pretending to hold the Idiot Ball for years, only to convince the other greater gods that he was useless in his position as Greater Evil God and attempt to strip him of his power. All this ended with Cyric destroying the love of his two greatest enemies, (sort of) regaining his sanity, and pissing off the entire pantheon of other gods, with them being able to do NOTHING AT ALL to stop him.
- This harkens back to his FIRST plan where he killed a goddess of illusion with the help of a lesser god, but got off scot free because he knew exactly what the Over God would say. The other gods exact punishment, but Cyric also gets them to remove the punishment through even more trickery and lies. He also binds an Eldritch Abomination to him at the same time. The same one that bit off Tyr's hand, you know, Tyr, the Big Good of the Forgotten Realms? Yeah, and because the Over God says so, Tyr can't do a thing to stop Cyric and his many many plots. Cyric goes on to weave even more plans ending ultimately with Tyr's death, Helm's death, Mystra's death, and the death of many other powerful gods and the complete destabilization of magic itself. He does end up in chains for causing the deaths of those gods, but he is the god lies and trickery... does anyone really think those chains will hold him for long? Especially since we don't even know if that isn't yet ANOTHER gambit of Cyric's. He could be walking freely about the Realms, using his power as God of Illusion to create a clone to take his place in the chains.
- Falling astray of a vast mesh of plans, and thus getting manipulated in a million directions at once until you finally just give up, is a common occupational hazard amongst Shadowrunners.
- One Shadowrun adventure module has this fate befalling a friggin' dragon, previously the indisputable master of the technique. It's also worth remembering that Shadowrun is, along with Paranoia, one of the few tabletop RPGs where it's perfectly acceptable to turn on the rest of the party.
- Special note goes to Dunkelzahn's Heroic Sacrifice to prevent the Horrors from invading the Earth. As anyone who played Earthdawn will point out, the Horrors managed to drive a few gods mad back in the Fourth World. So it's even odds whether Big D's plan is going to succeed or not.
- In Sherlock Holmes, Holmes has Madge Larrabee restrained when she finds him in Watson's apartment and makes a dash for the window to give a signal. He then considers it might be a good idea to let her give the signal anyway to draw Moriarty in. He arranges for his butler to let her go as if by accident when he sees him lighting a cigarette. She takes the opportunity, gives the signal and gloats for a moment. When it appears that Holmes is all too prepared to see Moriarty, she tries to give a second signal but is restrained again.
- Ethan from Fate By Blades pulls off an epic one. He sets up a tripod of power that divides the Empire between his lord, his friends family and the Stormson forces. This sets up the Septis forces to rule the North as the strongest of the three forces. When Lucas can't break the Tripod, and his son dismisses Ethan, Ethan has Kona remain at court to call him back when Alduis dies. Then, Ethan tries to destroy the Tripod by destroying the Stormson forces, while teaching Kona everything he will need to know to defeat Ezra. Even when Ethan fails, dying from sickness, he has Kona to carry on his legacy. Kona succeeds, and Ethan's plan ultimately succeeds.
- In Azrael's Tear, The Leader of the group of Templar Knights assigned to protect the Holy Grail has a great vision of the future in which the human race is dying; a "Thief" enters the Temple of Aeternis where they and the Grail reside, passes an elaborate test of worthiness, and leaves with the Grail to save mankind. The Templars' fellow order the Prieuré de Sion sees it as their holy obligation to ensure the Grail comes under their control after the test and thus manipulates things to ensure this happens no matter what. Eventually, it is revealed that they had "helped" the vision come true by leaking information about the Grail to the Raptors, technologically advanced professional tomb robbers.note Thus, several Raptors arrive at Aeternis, competing to acquire the Grail. Only one will emerge with it. Or possibly one of the Guardians will take it for himself instead. But whoever gets it, the Prieuré waits to take possession in the end.