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Gambit Pileup / Western Animation

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  • In the first season finale of Beast Wars Tarantulas, Megatron, Blackarachnia and the Maximals all had their own individual plans for dealing with the destruction of the planet by the alien Vok and almost all of their plans hinged on the different known factors of everyone else's plans. Tarantulas was originally planning on escaping the planet in a stasis pod, Blackarachnia secretly planned to steal his stasis pod for herself and use it to escape, Megatron purposefully allowed the two of them to go about stealing said pod with the plan of forcing that pod (with the escapee still inside) to become a makeshift bomb used to destroy the alien Planet Buster. Optimus and the Maximals planned to use the pod for the same purpose, but with the idea that Optimus would escape the pod at the last second (Megatron's version, which ultimately won out, involved Optimus not escaping and dying in the explosion.) Interestingly, after Optimus died in the explosion (which Megatron had originally meant for one or both of the spiders), Tarantulas's reaction was that of smug laughter, the kind he only ever does when he's just pulled something deceitful off. This leaves the implication that Tarantulas was well aware of Megatron's schemes too, and that his plan was to ready the pod and assume that either Blackarachnia, Inferno (on Megatron's orders) or Optimus would intercede (all tried to) and would die in Megatron's scheme, rather than him. Considering his ultimate scheme is to destroy the Ark and both Autobots and Decepticons to negate the existence of all Cybertronians which, it turns out, Tarantulas is not one of, it wouldn't have made sense for him to be willing to leave the planet anyway. Claims that he wanted to were likely for Blackarachnia and Waspinator's benefit, so that it would get back to Megatron. Thus, ultimately, it's Tarantulas pulling all the strings. When all but two Predacons, and several non-Predacons, try their hand at The Starscream, this is to be expected.
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  • Done to death in Duckman. In one episode, while it is revealed that Duckman and Cornfed have been the unwitting pawns of an Evil Plan by an ominous secret organization, the episode ends with one secret society after another viewing the events taking place in the previous organization's Evil Lair and declaring gleefully that "everything went just as planned". Cue evil laughter. And ending, ultimately, with Mom, Dad, Sis, and Bro watching the events on TV.
  • Played straight, then parodied/subverted in The Fairly OddParents episode, "Remy Rides Again". Jorgen made Juandissimo make Remy plot to separate Timmy from his godparents. Seconds after this is revealed, Cosmo says, "Not so fast!"... only to point out that the pileup had been explained too fast for him.
  • In the South Park episode "Cat Orgy", Shelly is baby-sitting Cartman and invites her boyfriend over. This leads to Cartman taking a picture of them making out with the intent to show it to his mother and bust them, and eventually this leads to a—likely on the fly—pileup between the two.
    [Cartman lets Shelly into his locked room.]
    Shelly: Haha! That was a turd trick! Your mom isn't really dead!
    Cartman: Aha! I knew it was a turd trick, and I opened the door because Mr. Kitty is on his way right now to my mom's party with the picture!
    Shelly: Aha! I knew you sent the cat, and that's why I went outside and got him." *holds up the picture*
    Cartman: Aha! I saw you get the picture back from Mr. Kitty and that's why I wrote a letter to the press, to be opened in case of my demise. Should anything happen to me that letter will go out, and you will never find it.
    Shelly: *picks up the letter* You mean this one?
    Cartman: ...okay, let's see now... Aha! Umm... goddamn it!
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  • The second season of W.I.T.C.H. ends with everybody trying to put the screws on everybody else. Nerissa is trying to get the Heart of Earth by killing Lillian's cat familiar Napoleon at the same time that the girls have let Phobos out of prison to take her two hearts. Phobos decides to screw the girls over by using the power of Nerissa's hearts once he takes them, but the girls planned for this by convincing Raythor to do a Heel–Face Turn. Raythor tricks Phobos into invading Kandrakar, which would cause him to relinquish control of the hearts he took, but just before Phobos crosses the plane into Kandrakar, Cedric eats him and gains his powers AND Nerissa's. Also, Raphael Sylla and the government, who watched the final battle, planned to discover the girls' secret identities by registering Sylla as a teacher at the girls' school, but we probably won't get to see that. Note that, while most of this wasn't there in the original comic, the started Sylla-Gambit was eventually pulled of in it and even worked - until the oracle pulls a literal Deus ex Machina (it's even lampshaded) and hits the reset button.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003):
    • The major plot developments of season 4 and the entirety of season 5 gets into this territory, involving three distinct active factions (government agent Bishop, demi-god quartet the Ninja Tribunal, and the quintet of schemers collectively known as the Shredder's heralds), and three passive factions (the Turtles, the Foot, and a quartet of kidnapped martial artists). It all ends up being a Gambit Roulette involving most of the events of the series up until then.
    • To a lesser extent, the Triceraton invasion can be seen as a duel between General Blanque and the Triceraton Prime Leader, orchestrated by the Fugitoid to allow Traximus to overthrow Zanrathon and end the Triceraton-Federation war. The Turtles themselves barely even qualified as pawns in the struggle (and came dangerously close to being a Spanner in the Works).
  • The X-Men: Evolution season two finale, "Day of Reckoning," has one of these involving three different factions: Magneto and his acolytes; Mystique; and Bolivar Trask, with the X-Men and Brotherhood being stringed across for good measure.
  • Pretty much the entirety of Wolverine and the X-Men. Pretty much everyone has a long-term plan of some sort, be it Magneto, Senator Kelly, the Weapon X program, Master Mold, Mr. Sinister, the Inner Circle, and Professor X himself. This all comes to a head in the Grand Finale, when nobody's schemes go as planned.
  • Danger Mouse and Samurai Jack have both done the "I knew that you knew that I knew that you knew..." thing with their heroes and their respective arch enemies.
  • The Venture Bros. season 4 finale "Operation: P.R.O.M.", between Col. Hunter, Agents Doe and Cardholder, Monstroso, Treister, Sky Pilot, and Molotov Cocktease.
  • The whole point of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! seems to be how many plans and counter plans they can fit into the show. None of the Gambits are related, nor do the people involved know of the others existences or plans, but all of them wind up ultimately serving Loki's Master Plan to keep Thor away from Asgard while he took it over.
  • Pretty much the entire two seasons of Young Justice was a huge pileup between The Light, the Justice League, The Reach, Young Justice, and more than a few alien civilisations. By the penultimate episode it was revealed that from the beginning The Reach had funded The Light to help them take over Earth but both sides were playing increasingly complex gambits to betray one another, usually relying on the Young Justice team in a massive series of Batman Gambits. This all came to a head during the Reach/Light peace summit which was secretly engineered by Aqualad. All of this was moot however as it was revealed in the finale that Vandal Savage, Lex Luthor, and Darkseid had come out on top.
  • Parodied in The Penguins of Madagascar episode "Go Fish". The penguins steal fish from a delivery truck so they don't have to eat the nutritional substitute the zoo is giving to them, except Julien sabotages them and switches the crates. Skipper anticipates this, switching the crates before they got back to the zoo, except Julien switched the crates at the pier before they were even loaded. This is all followed by Skipper and Julien arguing that they each switched the crates in front of each other, until Skipper takes off a mask revealing him to be Julien. The other Julien (Skipper) then takes off his mask and the real Julien wonders "If you are me and I am you, then who must we both be?" Eventually, they crack open the crates, only to find out they're both full of the nutritional substitute and the flamingo that helped the penguins rob the truck took the fish already.
  • Total Drama can go this way pretty frequently. The season-three episode "Picnic at Hanging Dork" is one of the best examples: Courtney and Sierra are planning to vote off Gwen; Heather says she'll support them, but is actually considering voting off Courtney; Gwen is trying to get Cody to help her vote off Courtney (including by flirting); Cody is trying to get her to vote off Sierra; Alejandro is trying to seduce Courtney to throw off their team and make Heather jealous; Duncan is working with Alejandro but is planning to eventually betray him...


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