Unfolding Plan Montage

So the Unspoken Plan Guarantee says that if you explain the plan beforehand, it will fail. But what do you do if you want to show the characters forming a plan that works?

One way to circumvent this is to show the plan both in its forming and execution: Rather than have two separate scenes (one to lay out The Plan and one to enact it), the scenes are instead edited together as a montage.

For example: We see Alice, Bob, and Charlie as they look over blueprints. Bob explains the plan, and we switch to a voice-over where he explains "and then Alice cuts the power to the building." Meanwhile, Alice flips a switch and the lights go out. Repeated until the plan is complete, or, until the point that the plan goes horribly awry.

A variation will start with an unspoken plan, and the villain will think he has the upper hand, but lo! the heroes have gotten the drop on him! How?! Then the heroes explain their plan while we see them carrying it out in a flashback.

May utilize a Split Screen to follow several people executing the plan at the same time.


  • Used twice in The A-Team: First in the raid to capture the plates convoy at the beginning, then the "misdirection" assault on Los Angeles Harbor at the end. Both also include A-Team Montages of the team gathering equipment.
  • Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey: The main characters face off against the Big Bad, each telling their plans and how they enacted them, resulting in weirdness out-of-flashback as Bill, Ted, and DeNomolos, all have time travel devices.
  • The Butler: The sit-in scene cuts between the preparation and the actual event (with a little butlering on the side).
  • Death Becomes Her: Helen outlines a plan to kill Madeline, but subverted when it turns out to be an Imagine Spot.
  • Django Unchained: Played with in the "raid" scene. At first, it looks like there's a massive raid of Klan members who ride down and circle around the cart to get Django. Cut back to the planning stage where they complain about the plan and how they can't see through the eyeholes in the bags over their heads. Then cut back to the main scene, where the raid continues as planned.
  • Shaun of the Dead: Shaun and Ed devise plan to collect Shaun's friends, mom, and stepdad, and find safety "until this whole thing blows over." Then the plan changes and a revised montage plays accordingly.
  • The Matrix Reloaded: Three hovercraft crews band together to take down a power station so that Neo can reach the source.
  • Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation: Subverted. Ethan, Benji, and Ilsa talk about how to break into the Secure Computer Facility. Benji suggests face-masks (showing how the steps might play out), but Ilsa tears that down by pointing out the extra levels of encryption. Cue Montage!Benji getting shot by the security system and de-masked.
  • Thick as Thieves: Seen when Ripley and Gabriel set up their plan to break into the vault of some Russian jewelers.
  • Thor: The Dark World: Seen when Thor, Jane, etc. break Loki out of prison.
  • The Three Musketeers (2011): Seen when the titular characters break into the Tower of London.

Live-Action TV
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: At the end of "Halloween", Peralta explains to Captain Holt his plan to steal Holt's medal of valor, while in flashback we see the other members of the squad executing the plan.
  • Laverne and Shirley: Laverne outlines a plan to break into an office and steal back some important papers. As she explains it, we see the plan in action, which they pull off perfectly. Then it turns out it was just a visual depiction of the plan being described. Once they implement the plan it goes awry and Hilarity Ensues.
  • In the Castle episode "Last Action Hero", this is used, when Castle and the cast of in-universe motion picture "The Indestructibles" execute a plan to obtain a piece of evidence.
  • Pretty much Once an Episode of Leverage, the denouement of a plan will feature a series of Flashbacks showcasing some detail of the execution that the audience wasn't aware of until then.

Video Games
  • Parodied in episode one of Tales from the Borderlands. When our heroes have to sneak into a bandit base in order to steal back a Briefcase Full of Money, a quick-time event takes the form of Rhys forming one of these. Even if you successfully complete it, it turns out Rhys was just imagining his plan, and everyone else chose to sneak in while some of the bandits were distracted.
    Rhys: My way would have worked...

Web Video
  • The Art of Theatrical Ushery: Ronnell and Gervey go through the steps to take out an obnoxious theater-goer, intercut with the plan actually carrying out.

Western Animation
  • The LEGO Movie: Seen when the master builders break into Lord Business's tower.
  • Done brilliantly in an episode of Storm Hawks involving the team's infiltration of a Cyclonian base. Bonus points for the "Action" scene suddenly showing the team's uniforms turning into disguises once Finn asks "what if they get spotted?" and Aero points out they'll be wearing disguises.
  • In one Gravity Falls short, Dipper explains his (ridiculous) plan to sneak into the movies while the rest of the family enacts it in a montage. Overlaps with Unreliable Narrator when he describes things like "Grunkle Stan will use his lockpicking skills to sneak in" while we see Stan smashing the lock with a rock.
  • This forms the bulk of the Wander over Yonder episode "The Epic Quest of Unfathomable Difficulty", as an old man tells Wander and Sylvia how to find the all-knowing Galactic Guru.