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Gambit Roulette / Comic Books

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Gambit Roulettes in comic books.


  • As pointed out by Linkara, the master plan of Prometheus in Justice League: Cry for Justice, in addition to being random in and of itself, requires coincidence after coincidence and perfect prediction of the actions of both heroes and villains. Prometheus may be Crazy-Prepared for combat and a genius to boot, but he can't predict the future and the characters in the story point out that he doesn't have villains in his database of combat tactics.
  • Superman:
    • How about Lex Luthor's plan in Superman & Batman: Generations? He uses Gold Kryptonite on Superman's unborn son Joel, forever robbing him of super powers. Then several years later, he goes to Joel and plays off his inferiority complex to turn him against his family, all of which hinged entirely upon Clark and Lois having another child, one who would have powers and take up the Superman mantle. Then he posed as Lois' doctor and helped fight her cancer so she could see her daughter's wedding day - at which point Joel, who has powers thanks to Luthor, kills his sister while Lex snaps Lois' neck. Then, back at his base, Lex tells Joel about all his lies while admitting that his powers are killing him, meaning Superman's immediate family is all dead now. And the plan's still not done yet...
      • The only essential aspects of his plan were ruining Superman's life and killing him (ideally in such a way as to leave Superman's body available for possession since Luthor was really the Ultra Humanite). The rest could be adapted on the circumstances, so this is more a case of Xanatos Speed Chess.
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    • In Superman: Red Son, Lex Luthor evokes this trope when, after a epic battle between the Superman-controlled communist world and his country, the USA, they are forced to join skills against a Brainiac that reveals itself to be evil, which results in Superman's apparent death. He says "One can almost be forgiven for thinking that this had all been worked out to the tenth decimal point forty years ago, eh?"
  • Batman: The New 52 Retcons it so that the Joker planned Jason Todd's career as Robin as well as his death. As in before Jason ever met Batman. He somehow knew Bruce would be desperate enough for a new Robin after Dick leaving that he'd take anybody. He also somehow knew that Bruce wouldn't already have someone in mind (this is made worse because, after this story released, it was revealed that he did have alternatives he could've picked!). He somehow planned for Jason's mom to get hooked on drugs and disappearing. He also planned for Batman to find this random kid boosting the tires off the Batmobile years later, which would obviously' lead to this kid being Robin. Then he planned for Jason to find his mom again in a foreign country, before finally killing him. Never mind that this is the Joker, who has never demonstrated the ability to make long-term plans, or meticulously plan, to this degree. This story is basically ignored by everyone these days.

Marvel Universe

  • The Ultimates 3 and Ultimatum, where it was revealed that Doctor Doom had manipulated Ultron into murdering Scarlet Witch in order to provoke Magneto into declaring war on mankind. Linkara pointed out that Doom's plan was full of far too many unpredictable variables to possibly be reasonable, and argued that there's no way a disciplined scientific genius like Doom would ever rely on a plan that left so much to random chance.
  • Christopher Priest's portrayal of the Marvel Universe superhero T'Challa the Black Panther resorted to this trope several times during the course of his solo series.
    • This is also the shtick of the Marvel villain the Mad Thinker, who routinely predicts events and people's actions down to a fraction of a second, yet almost always ends up overlooking something that foils his plans.
  • In the series Daredevil, Vanessa Fisk was the Chessmaster behind the sinister events that transpired within the first two arcs of writer Ed Brubaker's run on the title. Every player acted and every scenario unfolded with near-perfect precision, the one hitch being the confrontation with Matt Murdock occurring earlier than planned.
  • Spider-Man's infamous Clone Saga was eventually revealed to be a massive Gambit Roulette by Norman Osborn.
  • Discussed by Hela and Madrox in X-Factor when Hela's convoluted scheme to lure Thor into her realm goes All According to Plan:
    Hela: Are you really suggesting that I schemed and plotted to put all of this in motion... Depended upon a series of startling coincidences... Just to bring matters to this pass? Most unlikely, isn't it?
    Madrox: I'm on a team with a luck-manipulating alien talking to a Norse death goddess in Vegas. I think the Unlikely-Meter is way off the normal scale.
  • Illyana's plan in New Mutants vol. 3. Going back in time, she rescues Legion from another dimension and brings him back to earth. She then appears on Utopia, and warns them about Legion's plan to kill Dani and Karma. This causes the reforming of the old New Mutants team and the capture of Legion. Eventually, Project Purgatory arrives back on earth and kickstarts the events leading up to her return to the past. The team is defeated and captured, allowing the summoning of the Elder Gods. But this is all according to plan, as Illyana has Karma release the REAL Legion and he uses his full powers to destroy the Elder Gods. As part of a still-unrevealed bargain, he then returns Illyana's bloodstones to her and completes her revenge plot against the Elder Gods. All according to plan. And all set up with only a dying warning from Magma to let Illyana knew what was coming.
  • In X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain, Professor Xavier's plan to lure Thomas Halloway out of hiding so he can study his Chronic Hero Syndrome ultimately hinged on whether or not Halloway was willing to go to the extreme lengths necessary to investigate the death of his father figure Cain Marko. The last time they saw each other, Marko conned Halloway out of a payday, and Marko died on Genosha Bay, a brutal prison situated next to a military base — if Halloway wasn't in the mood to incriminate himself and get sent to Genosha Bay for a guy who ripped him off, the plan would have been a complete bust. Though, granted, this may have been the point all along, to see how far Halloway is willing to take his heroism.


  • Some of the plots that Jack Chick imputes to the Vatican fall squarely into this.
  • The Mickey Mouse comic "Surprise!". The villain Phantom Blot puts Mickey in one Death Trap after another, with Mickey always managing to narrowly escape at the last minute before blundering into the next trap. The Blot's scheme is to fool Mickey into thinking that all the traps have been part of a Candid Camera Prank show, before gunning him down on camera. However, the Phantom Blot seems to have been downright psychic in his planning, predicting that Mickey will get off the out-of-control airplane at just the right moment, that he will land in just the part of the mountains where the Blot's thugs are lying in wait, that he will escape them in exactly the way predicted and end up in exactly the foreseen spot, that he will enter one specific town etc.
  • The creation of Preacher's Saint of Killers as orchestrated by God Himself, who through a mere blizzard he generated and a reliance on every single pawn acting accordingly, managed to have the overall chain of events unfold flawlessly according to plan (if we disregard getting Hoist by His Own Petard in the series's ending).
  • In Volume 9 of The Sandman, it is revealed that everything that happened, not only in that volume, but everything that came before to bring everyone to that point, was all Dream's doing. The reason for doing this is revealed shortly after, but that's not even the strangest part. It is implied that he was doing it without even knowing it.
  • Transformers: Optimus Prime: A double-whammy with the machinations of Shockwave.
    • First off, the reveal about the prophecy of the Chosen One: Shockwave reveals it was all a lie, made up so Starscream would wind up in charge of Cybertron, and his ineffectual leadership would leave it in the right place for Shockers to do the most damage. This one at least has some justification, given Shockwave knew Starscream would end up in charge, but the rest...? Shockwave even points out how implausible it all sounds, and suggests he simply got lucky.
    • Secondly, the other, bigger plan: Preparing for Unicron's arrival. Starting off, Shockwave steals a part of Unicron, and around ten thousand years ago has it sent to Earth, knowing his past-self will find it and leave it there. The ultimate endgame is to get the Talisman to Cybertron, where it will poison the energon supply, but there's no indication of how Shockwave actually expected it to get there. Luckily, Joe Colton learns about it and tries to use it to kill all Cybertronians.
  • In the original V for Vendetta, the hero seems to imply that he killed a man knowing that this would drive the man's wife to assassinate Mr. Susan. On top of that, it was a fight V could not possibly have foreseen that he would have the upper hand in. Made bearable by the fact that V never brags about doing this explicitly, but rather only hints at it. Discussion here.


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