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Batman Gambit / Live-Action Films

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Live Action Film examples of Batman Gambit:

  • A minor one, at the beginning of Sky High (2005). Will's parents defeat a giant robot terrorizing the city and the Commander takes a part of the robot (its eye) as a trophy. That robot eye is still functioning and being used by Royal Pain (who sent the robot to attack the city in the first place) to secretly spy on the heroes. Royal Pain knew he would do just this ("His ego's bigger than a giant robot") and the reporter says it's a habit but if he didn't then the plan falls flat, and that would derail the entire Evil Plan.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Kirk baits Khan into following him into the Mutara Nebula by "laughing" at his "superior intellect." It's implied that Khan's perfectly aware that he's being blinded by his own hatred, and simply doesn't care anymore, so long as Kirk suffers.
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has several:
      • A failed Batman Gambit exists in the conspirators' original plan. They were banking on Kirk getting gun-happy after Chang got Kronos One back in fighting shape, shooting back and destroying Kronos One. What happens instead? Kirk surrenders in a hasty attempt to de-escalate the situation. Chang then has to engage in Xanatos Speed Chess to compensate.
      • The assassins specifically kill Kronos One's chief surgeon, which leaves Chancellor Gorkon's fate in the hands of a physician who doesn't know much about Klingon physiology, Dr. McCoy.
      • Kirk's plan to draw out the mole (Valeris) by having a "court reporter" summoned to Sick Bay urgently to take statements from the (actually already dead) assassins Burke and Samno.
      • Sulu's strategy to draw fire from the Enterprise. His ship is no better equipped to detect the Klingon warship than Kirk's is, but he is able to buy enough time for Spock and McCoy to rig a cloak-seeking torpedo. Had Chang not taken the bait, he could have continued to dismantle the Enterprise, leaving himself with only one ship to fight instead of two.
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    • In Star Trek (2009), Spock Prime needs to get Kirk into the captain's chair, thus convinces Kirk to rile up Spock to prove that he's emotionally compromised following Vulcan's destruction.
    • In Star Trek Into Darkness, Carol attempts to get her father to spare the Enterprise by trying to use herself as a shield, hoping he wouldn't fire on her. Her father's response? Teleport her away and keep firing.
    • The suicide bombing that Harrison orchestrates early on is a ploy to get Starfleet's highest ranking officers to follow Federation protocol and hold an emergency meeting, whereupon he attacks the meeting room.
  • Star Wars
    • The series includes a large one by Palpatine/Sidious to get revenge against the Jedi. In doing so, he manipulates virtually every character to make his plan work: first, he (as Sidious) gets the Trade Federation blockading his home planet, knowing the Republic bureaucracy would drag its heels getting the blockade lifted; he gets Padmé to call for a "vote of no-confidence" against the sitting supreme chancellor, to get himself elected. Next, he manipulates multiple commercial and nationalist interests into forming the Confederacy of Independent Systems. He goes back to Padmé, getting her to leave Coruscant "for her safety" after an assassination attempt; then her proxy, gullible Jar-Jar Binks, pushes the Senate to grant him the emergency powers to form the Grand Army, a massive clone army (conveniently ordered by Jedi master Sifo-Dyas on the suggestion of his friend Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus, Palpatine's apprentice). He manipulates Anakin: presenting himself as a fatherly figure, unlike the stern Jedi Order, he makes Anakin likelier to trust his advice; uses his fear of loss to bring him closer, and gets him to kill Tyranus, pushing him closer to The Dark Side; when the Jedi are about to out him as a Sith, Palpatine turns it to his advantage: by not beating Windu, he plays on Anakin's sympathy and convinces him to "disarm" Windu, making it easier to turn Anakin to the Dark Side. With Anakin ready, Palpatine executes Order 66. He then uses his "new" appearance as evidence of a Jedi plot to take over the Republic, which would justify him ordering the Grand Army to turn on the Jedi.
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    • This extends into the original trilogy as well. When Sidious learns that "Skywalker" destroyed the Death Star, he concludes Anakin's child survived, a possibility he did not foresee. Seeing a way to turn this to his advantage, he orders Vader to find Luke so that he may turn him, potentially more powerful than Vader, into his new apprentice (unbeknownst to him, Vader already knew of Luke's existence and was planning to do the same thing to Palpatine). He also allowed the Rebel Alliance to learn the location of the new Death Star and its shield generator in order to trap them, knowing they would not pass up an opportunity to attack while he was personally inspecting it. The only flaw in his plan was underestimating Luke's resolve. Luke refuses to turn, forcing Palpatine to try to kill him, which accidentally manipulated Vader again: his desire to protect his family triggered his fall, and now triggered his redemption. Oh, and he also did not take into account the possibility that the local race of Ridiculously Cute Critters could defeat his army.
    • Yoda and Obi-Wan were arguably pulling one of their own as a counterbalance. With the Sith still running on the Rule of Two, there was going to be no more than two Sith at any given time. So they take the twins, and put one with adoptive foster parents who would change her name, give her all the military, diplomatic, and political protocol training as well as the rigid duty and emotional control indoctrination (everything but the Force and lightsaber training). The other, dump him with Anakin's stepbrother on Anakin's home planet, don't bother changing his name, and basically leave him as a naive, untrained kid with massive Force potential. If Anakin made a grab for his boy, Palpatine would probably challenge it, which would lead to a lethal confrontation. If Palpatine made a grab for the boy, it would still lead to a lethal confrontation (because Anakin is very protective of what's his). If Anakin didn't find out and was just too put off by Tatooine to search there, they could just train the boy as a Tyke-Bomb and send him at the Sith for the same "divide and conquer" result. Either way, they'd be down one Sith with the other weakened and easier to finish off...while still keeping the real money on the carefully-hidden Leia.
    • Snoke is playing this throughout The Last Jedi and possibly earlier as well. Firstly, he taunts Kylo about his weakness, knowing it would stir up his anger and push him to kill Leia, destroying the Resistance leadership. Then, he links Kylo and Rey, knowing that Rey would appeal to Kylo's light side and would come to the Supremacy to help him. Then Kylo would kill Rey, which would purge any remnants of the Light Side left in him, which in turn would bring Skywalker back into the fray having lost his apprentice and sister, and Snoke would kill him too. However, he is completely wrong on all fronts about Kylo, who doesn't kill Leia (although his accompanying TIE Pilots come extremely close) and kills Snoke when he's so sure Kylo's with him that he doesn't notice Luke's lightsaber spinning round before it stabs him in the gut.
    • Han pulls a rather good one in Solo. He has a shipment full of weapons-grade fuel, owes a nasty crime boss that his girlfriend at the time (Qi'ra) works for a lot of cash, said crime boss has been working with The Empire to oppress various indigenous populations, Han's mentor Beckett is a shady piece of trash who expects betrayal and wants the shipment for himself, but Han wants to give it to the nascent rebel group. Okay, so Han and Qi'ra deliver the shipment to the crime boss, let the crime boss (who expects Han to double cross him) send his men into a trap set up by the rebels, let the mentor show up and grab the shipment (which is so heavy that Chewie needs to be the one carrying it). Crime boss goes ballistic, attacks Han and Qi'ra, and ends up dead. Han gets away and meets up with Chewie, Beckett, and the shipment. Then while Beckett is lecturing Han on being an idealistic idiot, Han shoots first and delivers the shipment to the rebels. Han gets what he wants, and is paid just enough of a cut to go find Lando Calrissian and challenge him to a game of sabacc with a certain ship at stake. About the only part he didn't count on was Qi'ra deciding to take over the organization instead of escape with Han.
  • The villains in the Die Hard movies are particularly fond of this:
    • Hans Gruber's planned theft in Die Hard is completely dependent on the FBI cutting electrical power (per standard procedure), which disables the magnetic lock on the Nakatomi Plaza vault. The plan falls apart, however, thanks to a barefoot New York cop who just happened to be visiting his wife.
    • In Die Hard 2, the Dulles airport police think they can easily retake the air traffic control system by going out to a particular terminal where they can access the system. Despite the terrorists having warned them not to try, the terrorists knew they would anyway ... because the SWAT team that goes out there is killed in an ambushnote .
    • Hans's brother Simon uses this in Die Hard with a Vengeance, thus proving the Batman Gambit is hereditary. He leads the police on a wild goose chase, making them think he's setting off bombs to get revenge on John McClane for killing his brother, when the bombs are a mere distraction to keep the NYPD away from him while he puts his real plan into motion: robbing the Federal Reserve. He's only undone because he stupidly went back to the same truck stop where he bought aspirin for his migraines (which he then proceeded to give to McClane as a joke).
  • James Bond:
    • In Octopussy, Bond forces Kamal Khan to bid even higher for the Faberge egg at the Sotheby's auction, suspecting a connection to his fellow agent's murder when a duplicate of said egg was recovered. Having successfully forced Kamal's hand, Bond then makes clear his intent to blackmail Kamal when he switches the real egg with the duplicate. Even M, who was shocked at Bond's actions, seems mildly impressed just as Bond departs for India.
    • General Koskov in The Living Daylights has a lot on his plate: a phony KGB defection, two fake assassination attempts (one carried out by his girlfriend), a couple of kidnappings, a few real assassinations, and a weapons-for-opium smuggling operation. All of which would have left MI6 looking like idiots, his rival in the Soviet military dead and discredited, his girlfriend Stuffed into the Fridge and himself very, very rich, if only Bond hadn't realized Koskov's girlfriend wasn't a professional assassin and refused to kill her...
    • Raoul Silva's escape from MI6 custody in Skyfall appears to succeed only because of several factors outside his control falling in his favour, but at the same time he seems to have planned for things to happen this way well in advance. First he is held in the same facility where his laptop is handled, and it releases a virus which takes down the local computer network, allowing Silva to escape in the confusion. The virus wasn't even set to trigger at the first attempt at breaking into the files, but at a specific method of trying to open them. Fortunately for Silva, his cell and the area around it was also lightly guarded enough that he manages to escape into the old sewer systems under London. Bond chases after him, and catches up in a large cavern, where Silva already had a bomb set in the ceiling where the subway line passes over it. He blows it open, and soon a train comes crashing down, cutting Bond off. Good thing Silva wasn't forced to detonate it a few minutes earlier or later, which would have given the subway controllers enough time to be alerted about the broken track and halt traffic over it. Then Silva surfaces at a nearby subway station, where his henchmen knew to be waiting for him... somehow.
      • It is also implied that Silva getting captured in the first place was a Batman Gambit to allow him to approach M and cause serious damage to MI6 while escaping, and it is quite possible that he had more Batman Gambits prepared for after his escape, which is why Bond upon realizing he and M are trapped in Silva's Batman Moebius Strip, decides to do something he would never do in different circumstances, to "kidnap" M and to return to his childhood home in Skyfall Manor and set up a trap for Silva and his men there. Sadly this doesn't stop Silva from gradually succeeding in the end, since technically his objective was to kill M and destroy MI6 and he succeeded in the first part.
  • In The Wicker Man (1973), Sgt. Howie arrives at the island of Summerisle to solve the mystery of a missing child; the suspicious nature of the citizens convinces him that they're going to sacrifice the girl to appease the sun god. Unfortunately, The Chase to halt this event is actually a trick, causing him to unwittingly act out some archetypal ritual, and then burn him to death in the eponymous structure. Why? It turns out Howie was saving himself for marriage, too. Luckily, the girl is saved. Not that she was in any real danger.
  • The ending of Superman II hinges on Lex Luthor selling out Superman and telling Zod about the "take away all super powers" device... which Superman, having seen this coming, had set to affect everyone outside the device.
  • Another master of plan B would be Tony Wendice from Dial M for Murder. This trope is actually subverted a few times as Tony is never quite able to anticipate everything that will happen, despite his incredibly intricate schemes. The bulk of the film is set up by the failure of his first one: having blackmailed a classmate turned two bit crook into killing his cheating wife Margot and set up a perfect alibi for himself alongside Mark, the man who she was cheating on him with, Margot's will to live is a bit too strong and she ends up killing the man in their desperate struggle. Tony spends the rest of the film trying to make it look like she killed the man in cold blood rather than self defense, wildly improvising whenever someone is about to send it all crashing down again. This is all even lampshaded early on when Mark, a novelist who specializes in just this kind of story, notes that he would never try one in real life because there will always be just one little thing that no one can anticipate.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean franchise:
    • Captain Jack Sparrow is a master of this, but when it backfires on him it's a sight to behold. It's unclear whether he plans it all out ahead of time, or makes it up as he goes along, though. Probably both.
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides:
      • Angelica has Philip apparently killed in front of Syrena in an attempt to make her cry. She knows Syrena's "too tough" to do so under those circumstances, but crying tears of joy when she later finds out that the man she's fallen in love with is still alive, however...
      • Barbossa's entire convoluted plan counts: In order to get his revenge on Blackbeard for sinking the Pearl, he joins up with the King's navy as a privateer, uses his well-trained crew and the King's considerable resources to travel to the Fountain of Youth, then takes his revenge on Blackbeard, claims Blackbeard's ship and crew, and uses them to return to piracy.
  • In John Carpenter's The Thing (1982), the alien puppet whose identity isn't discovered until near the end of the film is executing a Batman Gambit from early on. Given how paranoid and trigger happy everyone was, he could have been shot or Mac could have let him go when he asked, although it could be argued that his insistence that he had calmed down was intentionally unconvincing
  • The entire film, Confessions, is one against the two students who killed their teacher's daughter.
  • In the film, Training Day, part of Alonzo's master plan is to get Jake high on drugs and later use him for cover when he robbed and killed his long-time drug contact. If Jake would have refused to go along with Alonzo after being offered drugs, his entire plan to steal the money would have failed.
  • The entire film, Reindeer Games, is one huge Batman Gambit - setup by Nick and Ashley. Nick also plays one on Ashley.
  • In Heat, McCauley's crew meet up in a particular location seemingly to paint it as their next target, as well as to map out the viable escape routes, while Hanna's team surveys their activities secretly. When Hanna and his team later assemble on the same location to break down the gameplan of McCauley's crew, they quickly discover the worthlessness of the target location, as well as the absence of any effective escape routes. Hanna then realizes that McCauley's plan all along was to get his team out in the open so that the latter could get a good glimpse of the men pursuing them.
  • In Mary Poppins, the title character (apparently) pulls this on Mr. Banks. First, she puts the idea in his head that he should take his children on an outing to the bank. Then she tells the children all about the bird woman, whose hang out is conveniently on the way to the bank, and how nice it would be to give her their money. What ensues could only have been Mary's plan.
  • In the Belgian short film Tanghi Argentini, Andre, the protagonist, in lieu of purchasing Christmas presents for his single coworkers, cruises dating sites for women whose interests correspond to his coworker's skills (i.e. tango, poetry). He then approaches the coworker and asks to be taught this particular skill in time for a blind date he has arranged with the woman. On the night of the date, he asks his coworker to accompany and discreetly coach him. He then deliberately fails at this skill, allowing the coworker to swoop in and "steal" the woman with his superior knowledge.
  • In the finale of Gran Torino, Walt Kowalski tricks the Hmong gang into gunning down an unarmed elderly man (Walt himself) in front of a neighborhood of witnesses.
  • The eponymous protagonist of The Bourne Series is a master at these, one of his favorite methods being to deliberately get himself red-flagged on the grid in order to facilitate a particular agenda. Lampshaded in Supremacy by Nicky Parsons when she corrects an overzealous agent that assumes Bourne is slipping when they detect him in Naples, asserting that operatives like himself always have an objective to their actions. Pamela Landy was able to deduce his intentions when he uses the same tactic again in the film's climax.
  • Both villain and hero do this in the first Mission: Impossible
    • Ethan Hunt does something similar to the Bourne example to clear his name after his team's mission goes horribly wrong, including actually stealing the information he's accused of stealing and finally by staying on the phone much longer than he has to to make sure that IMF headquarters can trace the call and find out where he is. This also gets lampshaded: "He wanted us to know he was in London."
    • The villain's entire plan relied on specific people surviving the trap in Prague and everyone else dying, the CIA assuming that only the traitor would survive, Ethan being able to escape the CIA and be able to steal the information for Max, and that Ethan would trust Claire. If any of those things hadn't happened as predicted, the villain's plan would have fallen apart.
  • After a baffling succession of double- and triple-crosses the big reveal scene of the WWII movie Where Eagles Dare shows that the whole film has been a massive Batman Gambit engineered by MI-6. They fake the crash of an important general in Germany so they have an excuse to send a team of important agents in to rescue him. The rescue team gets itself captured, which means the three known German moles deliberately placed on the team will reveal themselves. The team leader then identifies himself as a German agent too (he is in fact a triple agent, The Mole pretending to be an ordinary Mole, but the Germans don't know that), and claims that the three real moles were discovered by the British (true) and have been replaced (not true). In attempting to prove they are the real moles, the German agents write a list of all the spies they recruited in their time in Britain. This is the real objective of the operation, and having got the list the team escapes back to Britain.. Brain hurting yet?
  • My Fellow Americans: It turns out that the events were all orchestrated by the vice-president to get the current president impeached so he could become president.
  • In Chicago, Billy Flynn manages a rather ingenious Batman Gambit of his own. He fabricates entries in Roxie's diary that state her guilt in an overly-blatant manner and sends it to Mama Morton, knowing that she'll give it to Velma. Knowing, thusly, that Velma will give it to D.A. Harrison, and that Harrison will be so eager to take Roxie and Billy down that he'll make a deal with Velma for the "evidence". And then Flynn builds up a massive mid-trial accusation of Harrison having fabricated the entries himself, since they're so obviously false. In one fell swoop, knowing exactly how everyone will react, Billy manages to get both Roxie and Velma off the hook while taking down his primary rival in the legal arena. Bruce Wayne would be proud... or furious.
  • In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, McCullen's master plan is actually a pretty good one, to create global fear of terrorism so the entire world will seek unifying leadership from the most powerful man on the planet. Duke wrongly assumes that McCullen delusionally thinks he's that man. Nope, it's the President of the United States, who's really McCullen's man Zartan.
  • In The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter's entire escape is one big Batman Gambit. His scheme, in short, was to escape from his handcuffs (using a homemade key he smuggled in) while his guards were in the cell delivering his dinner, handcuff one guard to the bars, take out the other one, kill the first one, cut the face off the other one, switch clothes with him, throw the body on top of the elevator (Lecter was on the top floor of the building), set the elevator to move down the floors, wear the cop's face over his own like a mask, lie down, lure the rest of the cops to him by firing his gun into the air, then get taken out of the building on a stretcher by paramedics while the SWAT team focuses on the body on the elevator. The possibility of things fucking up is endless, from the guards refusing to bring him dinner, the guard putting the tray down on the other side of his cell, to having his key discovered, to being found out impersonating the cop. And while he was preoccupied with this, he managed to disembowel the other cop and hang him ornamentally from the bars of his cage like a giant butterfly, since that's what Buffalo Bill is all about. For kicks.
  • Mr. Boddy employs one of these in the third ending of Clue. The Butler Did It. Sort of. Wadsworth was Mr. Boddy the entire time; the one that was killed was actually his butler. His entire plan involved getting the houseguests he had been blackmailing to kill off his informants, now a liability, and destroy all of the evidence against him. Clearly his scheme would've backfired had one of the guests taken the fake Mr. Boddy's advice and killed him instead, or not killed anyone at all. In the end, he almost succeeded, if not for The Mole.
  • Clyde Shelton's "justice" in Law Abiding Citizen relies on a number of these. Of course, it's possible in some cases he did have a back-up plan, but at other times it seems highly unlikely.
    • Catch Darby by having him panic and helping him escape. Relied precisely on knowing how he would react. Specifically, Darby, instead of forcing the "police officer" to drive using his own gun, may have gotten in the other side and pulled the "officer" out of the car instead. He also may have been carrying a second gun.
    • Murdering his cellmate to be put into solitary confinement. What if Rice or that other guy had paid attention when their informant told them it must have been a Batman Gambit (or just figured it out themselves, it wasn't that hard), and had taken him out of there and/or searched the cell thoroughly? The funny thing is that they did figure out Clyde had some sort of elaborate plot, but didn't think he'd be able to do anything from jail and he must've had an accomplice on the outside.
    • Murdering the judge with an explosive cell phone. Very likely to succeed, though, since who wouldn't take the call like that?
    • Let me go by six o'clock tomorrow or I'll kill everyone (with exploding cars). Failure conditions: If they had checked the gas tanks as well, or one of the people leaving would have got the same paranoid feeling as I did that the cars might explode or something, or if they had let him free. The last might actually have crippled his ability to run the show, but he would've "won" by getting them to abandon the law. Of course... it wasn't very likely anyway.
  • Rare nonhuman example: In Deep Blue Sea, the intelligent sharks not only find a way to get loose in the part-flooded interior of the floating research station, but they herd the humans in such a way that they keep flooding additional parts of the complex, causing it to sink so low that the sharks will be able to swim out of the fenced-in lagoon and into the ocean.
  • Inception has a rather elaborate one; since the team trying to incept an idea into Fischer's mind stumbled across larger problems, Cobb ends up tricking Fischer into participating in the inception by making him believe that his godfather is the one infiltrating his mind. It would increase the danger for all since Fischer is the subject, meaning that his subconscious would act up after having attention called to the fact that Fischer is in a dream.
  • In the 1984 parody Me and the Big Guy, the end implies that the annoyingly happy-go-lucky Citizen 43275-B was trying to annoy Big Brother so much that he would kill the telescreen, allowing him to write his diary in peace.
  • In Le Samouraï, a hitman plants himself outside his (married) girlfriend's apartment, waiting for her husband to come home before leaving to perform a hit. The hitman is later brought in for questioning by the police and his girlfriend and her husband are brought in to identify him. The husband (suspicious of him sleeping with his wife) picks him out of a lineup, assuming he's fingering him for a crime, when in reality he's offering him an airtight alibi for the killing.
  • In PCU, the school president slaps The Pit with money they owe the school. She anticipates that they would throw a wild party, thus causing the politically correct students to file enough complaints to throw out The Pit.
  • The Punisher manages one in his second film, manipulating the crime lord who had his family killed. Frankie planted evidence that the crime lord's wife and secretly gay right-hand man were having an affair, leading to the crime boss directly killing the right-hand man and hurling his wife onto a railway track.
  • The sci-fi film Hunter Prey features one on the part of the aforementioned prey.
  • The entire plot of Street Kings depends on The Hero being a badass Killing Machine that will kill all the corrupt cops that he finds without being killed or bought, and he does. The gambiteer claims this was is foolproof but it's clearly not as the Unwitting Pawn is almost killed and buried in the process.]]
  • The Man Who Never Was tells a fictionalized version of Operation Mincemeat from the Real Life section.
  • The end of noir film The Racket has one that hinges on a criminal really not wanting to be thrown under the bus, a corrupt judge being suggestible and venal, and a crooked cop wanting to cover his back. Summed up by a surprised participant afterwards:
    "You mean you thought all this through?!"
  • Several fight scenes in the Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films is a Batman Gambit in miniature; we are treated to Holmes' inner monologue as he determines exactly how his opponents will behave and how he can best counter them, immediately followed by the actual fight in which the opponent behaves exactly as Holmes deduced he would, and Holmes thus wins the fight. Subverted in the climax of A Game of Shadows; Holmes and Moriarty play this trick on each other, and both determine that there's no way for Holmes to win, until Holmes does something neither one expected: sacrificing himself to kill Moriarty by grabbing him and jumping off the balcony into the Reichenbach Falls below.
    • Somewhat subverted in that neither Holmes nor Moriarty had counted on Watson arriving in time to intervene for Holmes, when in fact he shows up just as Holmes and Moriarty go plunging over the railing, which sort of makes Holmes' sacrifice look a little poorly thought out.
    • Subverted earlier as well when presented with an unseen attacker: Holmes plans out his usual routine and would probably have been correct, but around three moves into his strategy, the person he was protecting simply throws a knife at the attacker, breaking the script but sparing them the time it would take for Holmes to finish on his own.
  • Casper and Kat pull this on Carrigan after she dies and comes back as a ghost to steal Casper's treasure and then use his father's Lazurus Machine to come back to life. They reminded her about her supposed unfinished business, noting that all ghosts have unfinished business which is why they don't cross over. She promptly boasted that she had everything that she wanted, so she had no unfinished business. No sooner had she said that, than she crossed over.
  • In Saw, every single one of Jigsaw's plans is this, even predicting extremely convoluted and unexpected things.
  • The Cabin in the Woods, The entire ritual sacrifice masterminded by the Director hinges on the victims playing up to actual horror movie tropes. They must ignore the warnings and must enter the spooky cellar and mess with an artifact unleashing some type of horror. If they don't, then the entire sacrifice fails and the world ends.
  • All of Loki's plans in The Avengers (2012). All of them.
    • He counts on the Avengers' instability as a team and the Hulk losing control to help his master plan along.
    • Finally, Loki's eventual defeat and return to Asgard: He knows that the Avengers would want him to take responsibility for his actions, and Thor would of course want to keep Loki as close as possible.
    • There's also an alternative theory. It's a possibility that the Chitauri picked up Loki from the void and coerced him into stealing the Tesseract for them, and then using it to transport their army to Earth - and that Loki, who didn't like being coerced, played both sides against one another instead. By that idea, his actions in the film would have been calculated to unify the Avengers to the point that he could use them as his own personal wrecking ball against the Chitauri. It would also make the spectacle he put on in Germany much less stupid, and more plausible, and explain why he seemed to be afraid of the leader of the Chitauri, which he probably wouldn't have been if he'd was in a position of power with them.
  • Employed by Thor in Thor: Ragnarok. Knowing Loki's Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, he expected him to betray him at some point, and put Valkyrie's shock disk on his shoulder in the elevator. The thing Thor didn't expect was Loki reflecting on the fact that he had become so predictable, and deciding to aid the gladiators in saving the surviving Asgardians.
  • Ironically enough, the Joker pulls off one of these after another in The Dark Knight. The bank heist at the beginning requires every one of his henchman dispatching each other at just the right time, with no slip-ups... even including the last henchman figuring it out at exactly the right time to be standing in just the right spot when the school bus comes crashing through the wall. The escape relies on another example: the school bus joins a line of other school buses, which the Joker knows the police will ignore.
    • His escape from prison is a masterful example of this. The Joker pushes Batman's buttons and taunts him until Batman gets angry enough to smash the Joker's head against the one-way glass. He then does the EXACT SAME THING to the guard watching him, causing him to lower his guard and allow the Joker to take him hostage using one of the glass shards from the broken mirror. And then of course he uses his leverage to get the other cops to give him access to a phone. Had Batman not smashed the Joker into the window, or had the glass not splintered in just the right way, or had the guard just left and locked the door, none of that would have worked.
    • He has one fail on him, though. His last plot hinges on the civilian ferry seeing the prison ferry as an acceptable sacrifice and/or the prison ferry being ruthless enough to sacrifice the civilian ferry. In the end, the civilian ferry couldn't bring itself to blow up the prisoners, and the prison ferry decided that Even Evil Has Standards.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane's plan hinges on Bruce Wayne and a few other people responding exactly the way he predicts they will every step along the way.
    • Perhaps the most audacious example of this is that the inmates of the prison won't tell Bruce that the child who escaped was Talia - they leave it up to him and he assumes it was Bane. Justified by the fact that the person telling the story thought it was just a legend of the prison, and didn't fully believe it himself.
  • In Kamen Rider × Super Sentai: Super Hero Taisen, Captain Marvelous and Tsukasa perform one on Dai Zangyack and Dai Shocker. After learning that Dai Zangyack and Dai Shocker, via Doktor G and Rider Hunter Silva, seek to eliminate the Kamen Riders and Super Sentai and make the world their own via the powerful "Big Machine", Marvelous and Tsukasa end up doing the job for them, taking over the groups, then actually hiding everyone with the exception of Doc, the Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters and Kamen Rider Fourze in another dimension. And it works! Until Daiki Kaito - Kamen Rider Diend - got angry at being used like that and created Big Machine on his own.
  • In The Lincoln Lawyer, Mick Haller leaks the existence of a jailhouse snitch named DJ Curliss, who was letting it be known he that Haller's current client, Louis Rolet, had confessed to the crime he was accused of to him. Haller knew the District Attorney would pounce on this damning evidence against his client. Haller was counting on his exuberance to make him not look too closely at Curliss' history: He's a known "snitch for hire" and has been nailed for lying under oath before. This completely derails the state's attempted rape/murder case against Rolet. This also causes the DA to take a closer look at a similar previous case, for which another client of Haller's had been convicted. Rolet committed both crimes. Haller's gambit not only cleared his legal obligation for his current case, but helped him make right the previous one, the latter of which is what he really wanted all along.
  • Now You See Me: Most of their tricks, and magic in general, depend on being able to accurately predict how people will react and using that to their advantage. Merritt, the mentalist, in particular.
  • Sushi Girl features two gambits:
    • The main crook has planned that his former comrades would kill each other in the process of beating the location of their diamonds out of the fifth member. Unfortunately for him, they never get the diamonds before they all die.
    • The sushi girl plans on all of the crooks at the meeting will kill each other or eat the poisoned fugu she had made, all without doing any harm to her in the process. This plan actually succeeds.
  • In Ghost Ship, Ferriman's plan hinges on people falling for their greed to complete his mission to collect souls. His plan goes awry when one of his would-be-victims chooses self-sacrifice to destroy the ship once and for all over the promise of getting rich off the gold.
  • Heroes, anti-heroes, and villains alike make such plans in The Wrong Arm of the Law. One example is the underworld's 24-hour truce with the police in which no crimes would be committed during that period so that the police would have enough leg room to try to catch the Australian IPO gang themselves. At the end of the 24 hours, the crime rate spikes, with the underworld and the police hypothesizing that such a spike would lead the IPO mob to be more selective with their hits and only go after the bigger jobs. This leads up to the finale, where Pearly Gates, Inspector Nosy Parker, and foreign safecracker Siggy Schmoltz set up a phony job that ends up getting the IPO mob captured.
  • The interesting thing about the film version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is that the Grinch's titular plan to steal Christmas hinges on the fact that Whoville really is that materialistic that they'd plunge into the Despair Event Horizon when he stole everything. And if it wasn't for the Mayor humiliating Cindy Lou, he would have won. Instead, he gets a Heel Realization that leads to a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Similarly, at the end of the film version of The Cat in the Hat, it's revealed that the Cat had planned the whole day out in advance. This almost entirely hinged on Conrad removing the lock from the Things' dimensional crate, for no reason other than because the Cat had forbidden him from doing so. When Conrad and Sally express incredulity at this level of planning, the Cat notes that he'd deliberately made "don't open the crate" his one rule because he knew Conrad wouldn't be able to resist breaking it.
  • In House of Games, the Massive Multiplayer Scam works out because the heroine is doing exactly what she is supposed to do.
  • In The Godfather, Carlo first antagonises his wife by having his mistress call just before he gets home, knowing that will drive her insane enough to give him the pretext to beat her, knowing that she will then call her family, so Sonny will get wind of it, go into a rage and drive over to him for revenge, where he can be murdered by Barzini's men at a toll booth between their homes.
  • In The Recruit, Colin Farrell's character knows that his girlfriend/fellow agent will report him to CIA, believing him to be The Mole. He consequently leaves his phone on, as it was established earlier in the movie they could use it to track him. The gambit is even lampshaded:
    Slayne: Forgot to turn your cell phone off. That's how we tracked you—your cell phone.
    Clayton: I didn't forget. I knew she'd do her job.
  • In Robin Hood (1991), Marian's wedding is scheduled for All Fools' Day. The outlaws (except Robin, who sneaks in first) dress up in festive costumes and form a procession to get past the city gates, as merry-makers cannot be refused entry.
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. E.H. Harriman baits the Hole-in-the-Wall gang with another train, then sends the Posse From Hell after them.
  • In Hardwired, Hal gives Gibson enough information to pump up his rage and turn him into a weapon, a weapon that can be directed toward Hope Corp. Notably, he nearly fails due to Gibson getting too angry.
  • Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball: Weed put the hit out on himself. He's actually a terrorist mastermind who used his mid level desk job to plot attacks and murders abroad, and used a number of lethal assassins to do it. The entire film is a ploy to get the assassins killed and fake his death to cover his own tracks.
  • The Matrix: As described in this Film Theory video, the Oracle engineered the events of the entire series by claiming that Neo was the One while knowing that it was actually Agent Smith, banking on Smith becoming such a liability to the Matrix's stability that the machines would have to end the war to stop him. Had anyone figured out that Smith was the One, the machines would have assimilated him earlier, rebooted the Matrix, and had no reason not to wipe out the human rebellion.
  • In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, the only reason that Haymitch and Katniss go along with Coin's proposition for the Capitol Games is so Katniss has an actual political justification to kill her during Snow's execution. Coin's death would be justified by the insidious plot she had planned.
  • Towards the end of Trading Places, Winthorpe and Valentine give the Dukes a fake crop report, expecting that they'll use it to try to get an advantage on the commodities market. They plan their own investment scheme based on the real crop report and their predictions of how the Dukes will act on the fake one. By the end of the day, Winthorpe and Valentine have made a fortune and the Dukes are out $394 million.
  • While the City Sleeps: How Ed concludes they will catch the killer. Set up an irresistible bait and wait for him to act like he normally would. And he does, leading to his arrest.
  • The Verdict: Laura apparently realized that all she had to do to start a relationship with Galvin was to start showing up at his local watering hole and show a little resistance to his first advances.
  • Spotlight: Garabedian explains to Rezendes that when the church's lawyers file a motion opposing his motion, he can then file an opposition brief with all the documents the reporter has been trying to get attached as exhibits, thus putting them into the public record.
  • A likely one with Alan's scene in TRON: Legacy: Alan was paged the previous night from Flynn Sr.'s shuttered arcade, but he holds off on telling Sam until after the kid pulls his annual stunt. Now, the Encom board is in disarray, cleaning up after Sam leaked the "secure" OS all over the Internet. Sam is clearly going to have the topic of his Disappeared Dad on his mind, and Alan chooses his words carefully to goad Sam into investigating, which leads to Sam taking the company back from the execs, and Alan becoming the real power behind the throne, and both of them getting a measure of closure over what happened to Flynn.
    • He likely pulled one in the first film which crossed over into Xanatos Gambit. Suspicious of Master Control and Ed Dillinger, he began work on an independently-running security program (the title character). He dutifully submitted all of the necessary memos and paperwork and kept his conduct impeccable while keeping on good terms with the company founder Walter Gibbs, probably using methods that would bypass Master Control's notice and knowing Dillinger wouldn't read them. When things finally came to a head and he lost access to Tron, he explained to Dillinger what Tron could do. If Dillinger fired Alan, Gibbs would stick up for him and start investigating. If Dillinger deleted Tron without firing Alan, Gibbs would also investigate. If Alan were allowed to finish his software (which is what happened), then Dillinger and Master Control were going to be shut down and exposed. It's made explicit in the Novelization that Dillinger considered Alan Beneath Suspicion until he and Master Control realize they got utterly played.
  • In Deewaar, Vijay counts on Samant's greed to gain his trust… which Vijay instantly takes advantage of. Specifically, Vijay delivers gold belonging to Samant's rival Daavar, promises to help Samant more in the future to get out of Samant's initial idea of getting a Ballistic Discount, and when he's been paid he immediately steals the gold back.
  • Mythica: Gojun Pye teleports Szorlok into another dimension devoid of life where he fights him to a standstill. Szorlok then can only draw life force from him when his power is depleted to teleport away. Gojun then sends his soul into Szorlok during this, so later he can control Szorlok for just long enough to let Marek kill him.
  • The entire main plot of The Sting is this. Had Doyle gotten suspicious at any point, the entire con would have fallen apart. But the lure of potentially gaining millions of dollars through rigged horse betting is too much of a temptation and so he falls for it completely.
  • In Watchmen, Ozymandias's plan could only work assuming that the rest of the Watchmen, especially Jon, were able to be manipulated.
  • In Operation Finale, a film adaptation of the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann's attention to detail means he has an ironclad fake backstory. However, the Mossad agents who captured him use that same attention to detail and obsession with precision to expose him; they continually get his SS ID number wrong, knowing that the finicky Obstructive Bureaucrat Eichmann won't be able to resist correcting them.
  • In Dogma, Azrael's plan to destroy reality via Loophole Abuse hinges on two major things: that Loki and Bartleby don't realize that performing said Loophole Abuse would destroy reality, and that God is incapacitated long enough that He can't stop them. When Bartleby and Loki do realize what's going on, Bartleby is so far down the Despair Event Horizon that he's willing to pull a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum, but the plan is barely stopped once Bethany finally realizes where God is.
    • Bartleby also pulls off a stupidly simple one at the end of the movie. He needs his wings removed to become human so he can enter the church and have his sins purged, but he's just killed his companion Loki, who would have done it had he not have a Heel Realization much earlier. Enter Jay, who got a hold of a sub-machine gun and is ready to shoot him. Bartleby just ducks down and spreads out his wings, counting on Jay to not aim. Indeed, Jay just shoots Bartleby's wings, and by the time Rufus and Serendipity stop him, it's too late: he's run out of bullets and Bartleby's wingless.


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