Plan B—sometimes it's so good, you actually want your other plans to fail.
"Next time, let's start with Plan B."
A Stock Phrase
, generally said in the middle of an action scene when things are going wrong. There are two common forms of plan B: Run like hell
if it loops all the way to Plan Z. Or if the letter doesn't actually have anything to do with the number of plans before it (e.g., it's called "plan B" because it involves a trip to Belgium).
See also Never Recycle Your Schemes
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- Dragon Ball Z (the dubbed version): Goku, early into his fight with Kid Buu. "Okay, onto plan b...whatever that is." (This being DBZ, it seems like "try that much harder to blow him up.")
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: When Ala Alba's original plan to get out of the governor's ball without fighting fails, they switch to 'Escape Plan B'. Of course, not all goes to plan...
- Hex has: "Looks like a good time for Plan B. Sure do wish I had me a Plan B." Followed a few pages later by "Looks like I just found me a Plan B".
- Runaways gives us "We always use plan B. Why don't we just make it plan A?"
- The Wizard of Id. The King asks his knight Rodney why the battle plan is called Plan B instead of Plan A. Rodney replies that they always end up having to go to Plan B anyway.
- There's this great exchange in an issue of Sonic: Universe, where Shadow the Hedgehog and his "Team Dark" attempt to get a Chaos Emerald from the God-Panda currently lording over them in the "Special Zone." After failing the mini-game, Omega turns to Shadow and asks if it's time for plan B. Shadow answers in the affirmative and Plan B basically comprises entirely of Omega unloading his entire arsenal, which makes up over half of his total mass, in the God-Panda's face.
Omega: "I enjoy Plan B!"
- In the American Manga Vampire Cheerleaders, the leader is thwarted in using her bite to alter the mind of the boy who announced he will expose them.
Heh. A minor setback. Girls, it's time for Plan BC. Leonard:
Plan B and C? Huh? Zoe:
No, it's just plan "BC."... Booty. Call.
- The Suicide Squad's "Plan B" was usually "have Lawton shoot our way out."
- Astonishing X-Men: Cyclops's Plan B for being fired upon by Breakworld ships was "we all die now". His actual plan was to get sucked into space where the Breakworld troops would capture him, revive him and torture him for the location of the ultimate weapon that the X-Men lied about having. Once he'd been there long enough for the rest of the team, who crash landed on the surface of the breakworld, to also get captured, Cyclops would re-activate his psychically suppressed optic blasts to break the team out.
- "Looks like Gordon's about to call in plan B. B as in Batman."
Film — Animated
- Lampshaded in Wizards, when Mook 1, having seen that Plan A (machine gunning hostages) doesn't work, announces "Now for Plan B!" "What's Plan B?" asks Mook 2. "You'll see." And he blows up the temple. But they forgot to go outside first.
- Somewhat inverted in 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure. Cruella met an artist and decided to steal the Dalmatian Puppies to make canvases out of them. When the artist wouldn't agree to this, she decided to get back to Plan A (namely, making the fur coat).
- On The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie, Plankton complains that he has gone through Plans A through Y in trying to get the Krabby Patty formula. Then his computer wife Karen reminds him that there's another letter after Y, and so Plan Z goes into effect.
Film — Live Action
- Hudson Hawk. The title character apparently kills Tommy Five-Tone, so the Mayflowers can't use Tommy to convince him to work for them. Minerva Mayflower turns to her operative George Kaplan:
Minerva: Plan B, George.
George: Plan B?
- From Star Trek V, the Enterprise doesn't have time to tractor the shuttlecraft carrying Kirk and company back aboard because of a cloaked Klingon Bird-of-Prey nearby.
Kirk: Prepare to initiate Emergency Landing Plan "B".
Chekov: What's Emergency Landing Plan B?
Scotty: I haven't a clue, lad.
- Bad Boys II has one of these toward the end where the thoroughly improvised plan B consisted of driving what looks like a Humvee through the house, but definitely did not involve a bigass gun.
Marcus: What the hell does the B stand for? Bullshit!
- The Lost Boys. When their first encounter with the vampires doesn't go according to plan, Sam and the Frog brothers have to go to Plan B. They don't have a Plan B yet and have only two and a half hours to come up with one.
- Used in Star Wars Episode III. Plan B sucks, since it was Anakin's idea.
- Condorman. The hero Woody overhears his CIA friend Harry telling his boss that if Woody's plan fails, they can always go to Plan B. Woody gets captured and is being hauled off to prison by a detective.
Woody: (despairingly) So much for Plan B.
(Harry in disguise
) Hey, ugly American. Remember Plan B? This is it.
- Plan 9 from Outer Space was executed because Plans One through Eight failed.
- The Dukes Of Hazzard film gave us the line: "Plan B's jes' a fancy way of sayin' 'drivin' by the seat o' yer pants'."
- Face/Off: "Okay. Plan B. Let's just kill each other."
- The Tag Line for the movie version of The A-Team: "There is no Plan B."
- Naturally mentioned frequently in the movie Plan B. A woman is forced by the Mafia to kill various mob leaders, but decides to think of an increasingly complicated way of getting out of this.
- And then there's the other movie titled Plan B, which revolves around Bruno's various plans to win his ex-girlfriend Laura back. Plan A was just asking Laura to dump her boyfriend and get back together with Bruno. Plan B? Seducing said boyfriend, who's allegedly bisexual.
- In the Star Trek Expanded Universe novel How Much for Just the Planet?, by John M Ford, the Diredei plan to stop the Federation and/or Klingons from exploiting their dilithium is called "Plan C". There was no Plan A or B; C stands for the keystone of the plan: "Comedy".
- In one Sonic the Hedgehog novel, they eventually have to resort to Plan D, which Sonic hadn't actually got as far as thinking up. Fortunately, a Contrived Coincidence intervenes.
- One of the book titles in the Liaden Universe is Plan B. Plan B being the emergency "clan is under attack, everyone bug out, get weapons, and maintain radio silence" plan. It's pretty telling that Clan Korval has had this plan in reserve pretty much since they landed on the home planet. Word Of God is that the title of the book was actually decided upon for them by fans during the long gap between their publisher rejecting further books in the series after the third (in which the name "Plan B" was first mentioned) and the authors learning they had an unexpected Internet fan movement. Fans kept asking them when Plan B was coming out, and they chose to take advantage of the name recognition when they found a publisher for future books in the series.
In a way, Plan B was the authors' "Plan B", since they had not ever expected to be able to continue the series when the first publisher didn't want it. Word Of God is also that "Plan B" was a working draft term for the real name of the plan, intended to be replaced in the edit process when they could come up with suitable Liaden nomenclature, but it somehow stuck.
- From Good Omens, after Crowley has successfully killed one Duke of Hell, but failed to bluff the surviving one:
Plan A had worked. Plan B had failed. Everything depended on Plan C, and there was only one drawback to this: he had only ever planned as far as B.
- The Good, The Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison has:
"Grab the fish and run like hell."
- This is the subject of a magnificent call back in a later book when Plan A fails again.
Live Action TV
- Mythbusters is this trope. You'd be hard pressed to find one time when Plan A worked without a hitch. On the off chance that Plan A does work, they generally go to Plan B! anyway.
- When the build team tried busting their first myth, they didn't have a plan B, causing Adam to comment that they usually only get it right on plan D.
- Which is why they always say "Failure is always an option".
- Hilariously, inverted at one point. Plan A worked so well, they couldn't use the myth. (Said myth? Buncha chemicals in a van could explode when you use the auto-unlock. They did.)
- Each episode of Blackadder Goes Forth (in which Blackadder tries a different method to escape the trenches) is given a letter in the opening credits.
- Colonel O'Neill of Stargate SG-1 is well-known for saying this line and then poking fun at it. One memorable exchange (from "Orpheus"):
O'Neill:"It's time for plan B."
Carter: "We have a plan B?"
O'Neill: "No, but it's time for one."
- From episode "Evolution Part 1":
O'Neill: "Reynolds, I want flanking positions set up on either side of the clearing. Rig the perimeter with C4."
Colonel Reynolds: "Not much faith in Plan A?"
O'Neill: "Since when has Plan A ever worked?"
- Stargate Atlantis:
So I guess that "frozen replicator" plan didn't pan out for ya? McKay:
Yeah, not so much. O'Neill:
How's that plan B workin' for ya? Good? McKay:
Actually, it's more like plan C. As in, C4? You catch my drift? O'Neill:
Let's just say, we're concerned the Daedalus won't be able to carry out your standing orders. Woolsey:
What? To destroy Atlantis with nuclear weapons, I thought we were past that! Why we're going back to that? McKay:
Hey, it's the only way! O'Neill:
Can you do that? McKay:
Yes, if we plant charges on all ten of the shield emitters before the Daedalus arrives. That way, when the replicators try to activate the shield... Woolsey:
...the C4 detonates, the Daedalus beams a warhead into the city and we all get vaporized! O'Neill:
Sounds more like a plan F, doesn't it? As in, we're totally- McKay:
Look, if we fight our way back to the underwater jumper bay then we will be able to fly to a safe distance! That is, if we can get the underwater bay door open. O'Neill:
You can't even open this
- Even that wasn't the real plan at all. It was a diversion that McKay wanted the Replicators to learn about when they mind probed their prisoners, so they wouldn't go looking for the real plan.
- 24 has a few examples:
Andre Drazen: When Plan A fails, you should have a Plan B, not Plan A recycled.
Andre Drazen: I appreciate the offer, Kevin, but as you Americans so often say, Plan B is already in effect.
- From the Alias episode "Hourglass":
Michael Vaughn: Okay, what's Plan B 'cause that's not going to happen.
- From Andromeda:
Seamus Harper: We needed a Plan B. You always have a Plan B.
Dylan Hunt: My Plan B's work.
Dylan Hunt: Plan B sucks.
- From the Doctor Who serial "Battlefield":
The Doctor: Ace... I think it's time for Plan B.
Ace: We run?
The Doctor: Yes! RUN!!!
- Leverage uses this a few times.
- In the pilot, to show off how Crazy-Prepared Nate is:
Nate: Now get to the elevator and head down. We're going to the burn scam.
Hardison: Going to Plan B?
Nate: Technically, that would be Plan G.
Hardison: How many plans do we have? Is there, like, a Plan M?
Nate: Yeah. Hardison dies in Plan M.
Eliot: I like Plan M.
- "The Queens Gambit Job" contains this reference to plan M:
Sophie: So the salt was plan B?
Nate: Plan M actually.
Hardison: Don't I usually die in Plan M? How many plans do I die in?
Nate: C, F, and K, thru M.
- "The Boiler Room Job" inverts the trope. Hardison gets caught hacking into the mark's finances to steal his money, and the team invents a reason to cover up his presence that leads to an elaborate con. At the end of the episode, it turns out that the con was itself a cover... to distract the mark, allowing Hardison to hack into his finances and steal all his money, which Nate refers to as "going back to plan A".
- In "The Gold Job" Nate reveals that when he plans out a con, he starts with Plan G as the worst case scenario plan where they still succeed in their mission. He then works his way to Plan A as the most elegant way to beat the mark. It is implied that plans after G are desperation plans where they are pretty much just trying to get away with their lives. Since Hardison was in charge of Plan A in that episode, Nate was implementing Plan G behind his back just in case Plan A backfired.
- In "The Lost Heir Job", Parker and Eliot are rushing to the courtroom, pursued by cops, Nate (pretending to be a lawyer) is running out of time and the opposite side's lawyer just showed up.
Hardison: I hope you have a Plan B, or F, something from the first half of the alphabet.
- Though he never says the exact phrase, Burn Notice's Michael Westin never has a Plan A work. Ever.
- Mocked gently in Puppets Who Kill, which a sex-crazed teddy bear who always has a plan B.
"...and if that doesn't work, I go to plan B."
"I have sex with them. ...sometimes I just skip straight to plan B..."
- An episode of The Big Bang Theory had the characters try to get a crashed Mars Rover functioning again, but when it wouldn't work, they moved to plan B; erase all the data and run away. One of the characters remarks, "Why wasn't that Plan A?"
- House. The first theory is nearly always a fail. He gets it right somewhere around "Plan J", and then realizes "Plan C" was the right one all along.
- A running gag on Get Smart had Max in a fix - he'd declare "I have a plan" and explains it - 99 (usually) would point out the very obvious flaw - Max would declare "I have an alternate plan."
- When the lawyers of The Practice were defending a client, and it wasn't going so well, they would explicitly switch to "Plan B", namely accusing someone else, usually a grieving relative of the victim, of committing the crime. Used as a transitive verb, e.g., "We're going to Plan B the brother."
- The phrase was used so often many Genre Savey witnesses were aware of Plan B and would anticipate it. As well as the firm was sued for doing it.
- By contrast Plan A 'Establishing the State did not meet their burden of proof' was only described once (when they were being sued for Plan B).
- In the Farscape episode "We're So Screwed", they end up going with "plan E... for elevator".
- The first part of the "Liars, Guns, and Money" trilogy is called "A Not So Simple Plan". Predictably, part 3 is called "Plan B". However, this is pretty funny considering that they end up playing Xanatos Speed Chess as everything imaginable goes wrong. By that episode they're WAY past Plan B.
- Warehouse 13 has:
Myka: Okay, what do we do now?
Pete: Plan B.
Myka: What's Plan B?
Pete: I was hoping you knew.
- After Pete actually comes up with a Plan B, this is quickly followed by:
Myka: I think we should go with Plan C.
Pete: Okay, what's Plan C?
Myka: I run away and you get pummeled.
- Supreme Commander had a little fun with this; the Cybran nuclear missile submarine is called Plan B.
- Fallout has "Plan C" which adds up to killing everything in the vicinity.
- In Modern Warfare 2, Plan B always involves C4. No exceptions.
- In Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, after Kaos' army is driven back by the Skylanders, his goblin sidekick suggests Plan B. Kaos decides to skip all the way to Plan Z, and summon a giant monster to pretty much nuke Skylanders HQ and the Core Of Light. To his credit, it's very effective.
- In Alpha Protocol, you get a perk called "Plan B: Kill It with Fire" for setting 25 enemies on fire with incendiary grenades.
- Adventurers subverts it in this strip because Plan B is just failure.
- Belkar has a tendency to comment on this trope in The Order of the Stick; in one strip he said "Run like hell" had always struck him as plan A, and later he spent a series of strips announcing the letter of every new plan his teammates came up with.
Belkar: Didn't we go through this already? We're on like plan Q. ... And plan R starts to take form.
- Gets mentioned a lot on Schlock Mercenary. Usually whenever anyone suggests a plan along the lines of "and we run in, shoot everyone, blow some things up, and run away" (whatever the actual mission), the response will be "Well, we've got a Plan B".
- Here is where we find the shortest amount of time it takes to go from Plan B to Plan C.
- Another honorable mention is having to jump from Plan A straight to Plan E. Which then immediately becomes screwed up and the whole thing turns into an Indy Ploy.
- In Freefall here.
Sam: So much for plan A. No worries. Plan B's are more fun anyhow!
- This strip of Chasing the Sunset subverts it, however: Plan A succeeds.
- This Eight Bit Theater strip is fairly indicative of how most of Red Mage's plans work. Which is to say, they don't.
Red Mage: Okay. Plan B. Do we have one?
- Then there are the other names they use for plans, including "Plan Suck" and "Plan Stupid, in honor of its creator, Mr. Stupid".
- Late in its run, sprite comic Bob and George has a couple of alphabetical-contingency plans called by letter - namely "Q" and "R".
- The Whiteboard: When surrounded by the other team at an "outlaw" paintball fieldnote , in this strip, the team goes through their options, including Attack Plans B, Delta, and Zero (the last involving two zeppelins and a smoke machine).
- In The KA Mics Gertrude & Brunhilda had a Plan B, sadly we didn't see it in action.
- Fa'lina of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures has an interesting variant.
- Used in the Blade of Toshubi here.
- Carry On: "that ''was'' plan B"
- Rosemary employs it in an early installment of The Mansion of E.
- AH.com: The Series: On one of the occasions when the AH.commers and CF.netters work together, after failing to open a door the AH.commers are ordered to blast it open, upon which the CF.netters comment that "Your Plan B is our Plan A".
- The 1250 Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG gave us the masterstroke of logic, "Plan B is not automatically twice as much gunpowder as plan A."
- Decline Of Video Gaming Part 3 comments on the general superiority of the backup plan in all instances.
Dan: Oh please...I really don't think that's going to happen.
Head of Konami: Fine! Time for plan B!
(Plan B works quickly and without complication)
Head of Konami: Why is Plan B always the better one?
- To clarify: Plan A was some horribly complicated thing to kidnap the protagonists to force them onto a game show to be killed. Plan B was a tranquilizer gun.
- Whateley Academy has a hilarious version, where a villain has Plans A-Z, and goes over them exhaustively. Things pretty much work out without a hitch; he does NOT have to even go to Plan B! He was out-gambitted. The thing he was stealing was trapped, and he ended up in Ayla's pocket.
- In Marvel/DC, Plan Q is invoked by the Joker at the end of Happy Hour #5. Plan Q blows.
- Plan Q was actually Plan A for a while, but was downgraded by Luthor when he realized how dangerous it was. It should tell how bad it was when it dropped that far down the plan list.
- The reviewers chosen to invade Molossia in Kickassia go to Plan B (using weapons) after Plan A (charging blindly at President Baugh while he stands outside armed with a machine gun) goes about as well as it could.
- Discussed in Chapter 35 of Pay Me, Bug!, where they mention that they hope Plan A works, because Grif's Plan Bs tend to suck.
- Played with hilariously in the SCP Foundation story, "Duke 'till Dawn."
Interviewer: So tell me, Dr. Clef, what if all of this wasn't part of some plan, and [Kondraki] been making it up as he went along?
<laughs> In that case, sir, I'd say that Dr. Kondraki was a suicidal fool
. But he certainly wouldn't have…
- Gargoyles had a great time with this in their Halloween episode. Xanatos' Plan C to help Fox (having already burned through Plans A and B) is tricking Goliath into doing the dirty work, but...
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series
Lucky: Lieutenant! Push the cage release button!
Lt. Pug: I don't take orders from you!
Lucky: But that was part of your plan. Plan C. Remember?
Lt. Pug: Of course I remember. C for..."Cage Release".
- The Simpsons: Homer buries all Springfield's rubbish (and that of other cities) beneath the town. When it all starts to come back up, Mayor Quimby activates "the all-purpose Plan B": Move the whole town somewhere else.
- When Burns decided to pick a local boy to be his heir, Milhouse was one of the rejects. After that, Lisa tried to persuade Burns into accepting the possibility of his heir being a woman but he was quite clear on that: no girls. Cut to a scene with Milhouse dressed as a girl commenting "So much for Plan B".
- On one episode of Hercules: the Animated Series, Phil and Hercules go from Plan Alpha all the way to Plan Omega in trying to retrieve a secret weapon from Ares.
- The Real Ghostbusters had one of these (in a moment where the guys actually bothered to plan beyond "kick in the door, zap the ghost").
Egon: I have a plan.
Peter: No electro-shock, Egon.
Egon: I have another plan.
- The Magic School Bus:
Tim: Anyone have a good plan B?
Wanda: There aren't any good plan B's, Tim! If they were good, they'd be plan A's.
- Titan A.E.: "Out of curiosity, was there a Plan B?"
- Plan B turns out to be "Beat the ever-loving crap out of the guard.
- Ducktales had an episode where Huey, Dewey and Louie would repeatedly use "plan B": lie down on the floor and howl until Uncle Scrooge gives in.
- In The Penguins of Madagascar, when King Julien's blender won't work, he skips plans B through G for being far too dangerous and goes straight to plan H: have Mort fiddle with the underground electrical cables.
- The eponymous heroes of Loonatics Unleashed almost always have a Plan B. This trope is induced so may times that once, after Ace spouts the Trope Name, Lexi follows with "Next time, let's start with Plan B."
- SWAT Kats: Plan Z involves T-Bone cutting the Turbokat's engines in mid-air. Razor hates Plan Z.
- As of season 2 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, this is Twilight Sparkle's catchphrase.
- In one episode of Storm Hawks, Junko is hypnotized to become more aggressive to take part in a wrestling tournament. Unfortunately, Junko's new personality causes him to forget about his teammates, and when Aerrow is forced into the ring by Cyclonis, Finn has forgotten the words to undo the hypnosis.
Finn: Anybody got a plan B?
- Phineas and Ferb: Doofenshmirtz's Plan B in "Just Passing Through" is typically nonsensical:
Doofenshmirtz: Behold, Perry the Platypus, Plan B!
[His raygun explodes after Doofenshmirtz presses a button]
Doofenshmirtz: ...Which I just destroyed so now we're even. But not even I am prepared for Plan C!
- Eek! The Cat: Four criminals stole a statue while disguised as the Squish Bearz but had no plan for what to do after that. Since they had no Plan B and couldn't come up with any, they decided to do Plan A backwards: take the statue back with the statue being disguised.
- In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: U.N.D.E.R.C.O.V.E.R.", Sector V tries to sneak up on the coffee drilling rig with Lenny's help in a helicopter by impersonating the Delightful Children's voices, but the villains are onto them. When Lenny nervously asks if they have a plan-B, Numbuh One responds that they "always have a plan-B!" and then hits a button on the dashboard labeled "Plan-B". (Causing the helicopter to transform into the S.U.B.S.T.A.N.D.A.R.D., a 2x4 Technology submarine. Unfortunately, that doesn't work very well either.)
- Plan B is the name of an emergency contraceptive brand. Their advertising campaign says "If Plan A fails, go to Plan B..."
- WD-40, the all-purpose
lubricant/de-greaser/de-ruster water displacer was so named because WDs 1 through 39 didn't work as well in testing.
- On that note, a moment of silence please for the testers of Preparations A-G, not to mention the testers of Compounds A-V.
- You gotta hand it to the guys that created Formula 409, they define dedication. Also according to a commercial, the world isn't ready for Formula 410.
- Likewise, the cocktail P2. P stands for project, and project 1 didn't measure up and was scrapped.
- Some Plan Bs even get their own facebook pages: Croke park Plan B
- In the 2010 Copiapó mining accident the plan that actually succeeded in reaching the trapped miners was, you guessed it, Plan B.
- "First rule of combat: have a plan. Second rule: Have a backup plan because the first one probably isn't going to work."