Looks like there's trouble for the villain. The heroes destroyed his Phlebotinum research facility, the government realized that the man they thought was the president was actually an evil robotic duplicate, and his entire accounting staff has just turned into mimes. What's his response?
Excellent. Everything is going according to plan.
That one little phrase is all it takes to cause even the most apparently monumental loss to be completely turned on its head. Was the villain Crazy-Prepared enough to ensure that even his failure somehow turns into a victory? Did he prepare a plan only just incompetent enough that the heroes could predictably defeat him? Or was his Evil Plan something else entirely?
Well, we're not going to find out anytime soon. In all likelihood, he's relying on the Unspoken Plan Guarantee to catch everyone off guard so that we can proceed to the real plot. Stay tuned next week for the exciting new development!
In terms of writing, this is a relatively meta trope in that in most cases it's technically irrelevant. Regardless of whether anyone actually says the phrase, whatever gambits are floating around are still floating around. This is because the phrase is used primarily as reassurance, either for the audience or other characters. Strictly speaking it can be used with plans that as far as anyone can tell are already going as planned — it's just a status update so that we only ever worry when people stop saying it.
At the same time, watch out for the Spanner in the Works. They're notorious for popping up right when something like this gets said. When it's too late for the Spanner in the Works to do anything, and the whole plan gets explained, then the trope is Check and Mate.
Compare Gambit Roulette where even probability itself goes all according to plan.
Sister trope to Ominous Adversarial Amusement.
Since complex schemes are often involved in this trope, be wary of spoilers.
- Light Yagami of Death Note uses this phrase when his Memory Gambit and Batman Gambit to convince the police and his own family that he is not in possession of the Death Note, and is not the known serial killer, Kira goes perfectly right. Just as Light regains his memories, after touching the Death Note once more, he mentally cants, "Exactly as planned," a phrase that has reached memetic status.
- The Japanese subtitled version will most likely say "Just as planned," rather than "Exactly as planned".
- Light also thinks a phrase very close to this during the final showdown, after Near explains his plan to prove that Light is Kira. Of course, things don't go according to plan for him...
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gendo Ikari (along with his right-hand man, Fuyutsuki) and the members of SEELE were fond of saying things were going "all according to the scenario." Should be noted that they were ultimately pulling for different scenarios, but no matter what, whatever happened was always according to the scenario or irrelevant to it. Their differing scenarios diverge at the end, so it makes sense. At the point where something went according to Gendo's scenario that was NOT according to SEELE's scenario, SEELE sent in the JSSDF to kill every single last person at NERV HQ.
- Lelouch of Code Geass is fond of saying "All tasks at hand have been cleared"... and that line is roughly his version of "What could possibly go wrong". The Spanner always hits the Works about 2 nanoseconds later - things are going just as planne-Oh no, IT'S THE LANCELOT! *boom*
- Bleach has Sousuke Aizen. When things go not quite as planned, he still has a backup plan. Sometimes he doesn't but being the Magnificent Bastard he is he'll make you think he did and then it goes all according to plan because you gave him time to make it so.
- That being said, pretty much every battle in Bleach will have multiple of these moments. Pretty much the entire of the Aizen and Thousand Year Blood War arc involve characters telling each other that they had planned for their opponent to plan for their plan that had planned for their plan that had been planned ahead of time to counter their opponents plan.... Before their opponent says "But I planned for you to do that..."
- Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- inverts the trope. With all the Scry vs. Scry going on the Big Bad admits that "It looks like my plan won't go exactly per my prepared script." There are entire chapters with one chessmaster or another detailing what did or did not go wrong after a major event.
- Zeo from One Piece both subverts this and takes it to ridiculous extremes, claiming that absolutely everything goes according to his plans. Even the bad stuff. Especially the bad stuff.
- For example, his response to getting knocked down and Brook standing on his head? He's actually slowly wearing him down by headbutting his foot.
- Played for Laughs, naturally, in Hayate the Combat Butler, with a combination of Briar Patching and someone failing to see that the situation was Not What It Looks Like. The silly part? The character who does the spot-on Light Yagami Shout-Out is Shiranui, a 12-week old kitten.
- Subverted in the Final Battle of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency. Just when it looks like The Bad Guy Wins, Joseph Joestar manages to turn everything around: he uses the Red Stone of Aja to intercept and amplify Kars' deathblow, causing the volcano they're on to erupt and launching them skyward on a giant slab of rock. Kars attempts to escape, only to get hit by Joseph's severed left arm (also launched by the blast after Kars cut it off), which distracts him long enough for rocks launched from the landmass at high speeds to strike him and propel him into space. Before he leaves the atmosphere, Kars angrily demands to know if Joseph planned all of this out; Joseph says "Of course, you dolt!" but thinks to himself "Actually I didn't, but thinking that I did will drive him crazy!"
- Yuuji Sakamoto acts this way in Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts, but his tactics ZigZag for comedic effect.
- Reiji Akaba of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V says this line after witnessing Tsukikage's defeat against Shinji in Synchro Dimension. The dimension's chairman council are understandably surprised because Reiji came from Standard Dimension to ask for cooperation with Synchro Dimension as warriors to end an interdimensional war and yet his comrades keep losing to residents from their dimension in an ongoing torunament there. It is later revealed in following episodes that Tsukikage is impiled to lose on purpose and his defeat is essential; Those who lose the tournament are sent to underground facility as slaves while those who advance to the next round are confined inside individual rooms with constant surveillance. With Tsukikage's defeat, he's free from the tournament's constant watch and able to move freely. Escaping from the facility is not a problem since Tsukikage is a ninja. This way, he can give reports to Reiji regarding his other comrades' condition in the facility and the season's Big Bad and contribute in freeing others when an invasion occurs.
- The Child of Love: In the first chapters Gendo reiterates everything is going as planned when he gets notified details about Asukas pregnancy. That was the first hint that something was very, very wrong behind Asuka getting pregnant.
- Doing It Right This Time: When Rei gets informed about Shinji's arrival to Tokyo-3 she is glad because all is going according her plan.
Rei:"And all proceeds according to the Scenario."
- Last Child of Krypton: Parodied in an omake when Pen Pen revealed he was behind the entire plot, and all went as he planned.
- The Hope of the Senju Clan has Sarutobi "The Professor/God of Shinobi" Hiruzen (3rd Hokage) explain at length to Kakashi, Kushina, Yamato, Kurenai and Asuma how Senju Naruto (Tsunade's his mom) is to be trained and by who as well as other incidental things showing that he's got his bases covered with Naruto's training and safety. The next scene has a council meeting where Danzo tries to make a ploy to get Naruto trained under him. The reader can then see and predict how different parts of Sarutobi's plan come in to block Danzo. No matter what tactic Danzo uses.
- Exaggerated in Tealove's Steamy Adventure, where Tealove getting captured by a cave troll, meeting a new ally in captivity, and escaping was somehow exactly according to Baron Zeppeli's plan. Then parodied in the sequel, Diamond and Silver's Excellent Adventure, where someone asks Zeppeli what the plan actually is, and he can't remember. And then it turns out he's actually saying a Zebrew phrase that happens to sound like "Exactly as planned!" Translated, it actually means "These matters are very concerning to me."
- Star Wars
- Subverted in The Dark Knight. While the Joker says these (or nearly these) exact words, he's describing how other people tend to make intricate plans and schemes, while he (nominally) is an agent of chaos.
- This is used as a Sequel Hook in Warrior of the Lost World, where the defeat of Omega and the "death" of Prosser were (apparently) all part of the master plan to destroy The New Way for good.
- Undercover Brother. An alarm goes off at Multinational Inc. and reveals that the BROTHERHOOD agent Undercover Brother has infiltrated the building. Instead of being dismayed, The Dragon Mr. Feather says "The Brotherhood is making their move. Just as I expected."
- In The Little Mermaid, Ursula the sea witch, transformed into the human woman "Vanessa," sings "What a lovely little bride I'll make / My dear, I'll look divine / Everything is working out according to my ultimate design." This, however, is actually something of a subversion in that Ursula is experiencing a Sanity Slippage because her original plan isn't working out. She had thought that she could just take Ariel's voice and this would be enough to keep her from ever getting Prince Eric to give her the kiss of true love. After a near-miss only just stopped by her eel henchmen, she hastily concocted this plan to put Prince Eric under her spell and marry him herself.
- Implied in Avengers: Infinity War', although it's the heroes doing it. The film ends with Thanos killing half the universe, but Dr Strange indicates that this was the only outcome where the Avengers could ultimately beat Thanos...prior to his own disintegration, that is.
- Foundation. Throughout the series, Hari Seldon did this from beyond the grave, planning for several millennia worth of events. He did this to the point that he was looked upon as a near-godlike being whose periodic, pre-recorded predictions helped govern the galactic civilization. In the midst of a massive war sparked by a mutant called "The Mule" it came time for one of his predictions, and governments from all across the stars flocked to hear it. He cheerfully announced that, after the brief turmoil with the trade guilds had been so quickly pacified, everything should now be going nicely again and here's how you set up reparations.note Cue the most high-population Mass "Oh, Crap!" in possibly any medium, ever. To be fair to Seldon, the chief of the trade guilds says something like "We were planning a rebellion before all this shit came down."
- The Second Foundation takes this to its logical conclusion as they basically embody the idea of "expect the unexpected". Seldon, while not being able to foresee the specifics, knew that there were variables he couldn't account for that could endanger his plan. So, he creates the Second Foundation to deal with those threats as they arise, which they do admirably, easily shutting down the Mule once they get to him. This means that while the Mule appears to be a wild card, he is in fact all part of the plan.
- The Warhammer tie-in novel The Master of Death is a complete send-up of this trope. The Villain Protagonist W'soran spends the entire book manipulating the disparate human and undead residents of the region in a centuries-long plot to get him in a room to duel his more powerful rival and take the throne of Mourkain. Every seeming reversal is revealed to have been accounted for in his labyrinthine master plan. After everything falls into place perfectly he fights his way through the unwinnable battle for the capital to seize the crown for himself and win in one final stroke... and then he realizes he never actually thought of a way to do that. Despite what he had constantly assured his followers, himself, and the reader he never really had a plan.
- At the end of Good Omens, the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley speculate that the aversion of Armageddon due to a large number of improbable coincidences (including an anti-Christ who decided that he liked the world the way that it was may well have been what God — who is supposed to be infallible, after all — intended all along.
- In the Dollhouse episode "Needs," Adelle DeWitt uses a somewhat different phrase to give the same effect:
Dominic: "I was just informed that we have four actives planning to escape."DeWitt: (smiles) "...Right on schedule."
- In the season six finale of Star Trek: Voyager, three senior members of the Voyager's crew (including Captain Janeway) beam over to a Borg ship. After infiltrating it, they are eventually caught and assimilated. The crew on the ship has been monitoring their life signs, and they detect the assimilation of the three. Commander Chakotay's response?
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Sunday: I must say, you've really got me now. I mean, it's a diabolical plan, throw yourself at my feet with a broken arm and no weapons of any kind. How'm I going to get out of this one?Buffy: You got a nice set-up here, but you made one mistake.Sunday: Yeah? What was that?Buffy: Well, I'm not actually positive, but statistically speaking people usually make at least— (Sunday makes Buffy Talk to the Fist).
- The Mayor (the Big Bad for Season 3) is smart about this. Faith is eager for some action and asks her boss if there's likely to be any fighting. The Mayor replies no, not if everything goes according to plan "but since when do things go according to plan?"
- Played straight with the heroine in "The Freshman". Buffy is spying on a nest of vampires when she falls through the skylight into their midst.
- On the Firefly episode "Jaynestown", the contact Mal meets up with is upset the townspeople have embraced Jayne as a hero. Mal assures the contact that it's all according to their new plan.
Kaylee: (after the contact leaves) Sir, how exactly is this part of our-Mal: Still workin' the details.
- Doctor Who: During a conversation at the beginning of Genesis of the Daleks, a Time Lord smugly tells the Doctor that he is a "special case" in Time Lord history, that they "allow" him his freedom to roam about the universe doing whatever he feels like. Never mind that he ran away in a stolen TARDIS before anyone could stop him. Not to mention the Master, or the Rani, or the Meddling Monk. It turns out he's referring to what the Doctor is allowed to do after he was caught and served his penance on Earth.
- While not necessarily a villain, Barney Stintson in How I Met Your Mother suffers the worst possible bachelor party, complete with a terrible hotel room, the worst entertainment (including the stripper being his ex-fiancée), losing a ton of money in a gambling game, and ultimately Robin seemingly ending their engagement. It's not until after this final devastating blow do we find out that it was all orchestrated by his fiancée Robin in order to exceed Barney's unrealistic expectations for his bachelor party.
(After Barney's life has seemingly fallen apart)Robin: (on the phone) Ted... We're right on schedule.
- In Episode 5 of The Frantics' television show Four On The Floor, a sketch involving two burglars breaking into a building to crack a safe parodies this by having the mastermind repeatedly inform his partner that everything that happens, including a security guard conveniently dropping dead from a heart attack at just the right moment is "Just like I planned it!"
- Deus Salve O Rei, Catarina's great plan to control Montemor goes up in flames when Rodolfo marches in and steamrolls all resistance and she is taken prisoner. Turns out the conflict was engineered between the two monarchs with Catarina being supposed to lose and then they would later marry, officially uniting the two crowns. What Rodolfo didn't expect is that Catarina would find a way to dispose of him so that she could rule by herself.
- Warhammer 40,000
- This is part of the Tzeentchians' hat. Tzeentch is essentially the God of Evil plans, gambits and other schemes, worshipped by sorcerers and the ambitious, who sees so far into the future that all his plans are mutually contradictory: the success of one means the failure of another and vice versa. It is customary, when reducing your opponent to incoherent rage and skyward screaming, to smile smugly and declare Just as planned." (Gendo glasses and hands optional). More information here.
- Games Workshop has hinted that the failure of all thirteen Black Crusades, which has given Abaddon the Despoiler a reputation as a General Failure, were actually this trope. How better to gauge your enemy's strength over the millennia? Moreover, the assumption that the Black Crusades failed contradicts the manifest unwillingness of the Chaos Gods to tolerate failure, and their equally manifest willingness to allow Abbadon to remain Warmaster for 10,000 years. This line of thought makes Abbadon even more horrifying than he prima facie is: he has convinced players of the game that he's incompetent, even while giving his unholy patrons exactly what they want.
- To clarify: the Imperium, and many players, interpret the Black Crusades as failures because the invaders are always driven back and never hold territory. What's actually happening is that the vast bulk of the invaders are independant forces joined together by the most fragile of alliances, and so most of the war is little more than a smokescreen from Abaddon's perspective. Once he and his actual loyalists have achieved whatever their real objective is they return to their own territory and leave the rest of the Chaos forces to their own devices, where lacking any central leadership or direction they are inevitably defeated eventually.
- This was confirmed in the The Gathering Storm supplement. He'd been systematically demolishing an ancient anti-Chaos pylon network the Imperium didn't know about, so that finishing off the main cluster on Cadia unleashed a warpstorm that covered the galaxy.
- This trope is played for laughs in one of the margin-quotes from Nobilis.
- In the Dune board game, when playing the Bene Gesserit faction, at the beginning of the game you secretly write a faction name and a turn number on a paper. If the written faction wins the game on the written turn, you reveal it and win the game instead, showing that everything that happened had in fact be been planned long in advance by the Bene Gesserit to serve their own goals. This is one of the most pleasant ways to win the game.
- It is very rare to actually win a Dune game this way, but it can be used for manipulative ends ("Wait... It seems I can win now, but could it be some Bene Gesserit trick ?")
- The worst thing (or the best, if you're playing BG), is that it works even if the predicted faction wins as part of an alliance, and even if the Bene Gesserit are themselves part of that alliance. In this case, the Bene Gesserit is the only winner instead of winning as part of the alliance. This make many players quite distrustful of the Bene Gesserit as allies.
- This is part of the Scorpion Clan's Hat in Legend of the Five Rings. They would have people believe that everything they do is part of a Xanatos Gambit, including the clear failures where the "just as planned" benefits cannot possibly be worth the costs.
- After he has the negative emotion of Prometheus and Pandora sucked into the Model Ws in the background, awakening them and forming the Ouroboros, Master Albert from Mega Man ZX Advent said:
Just as I planned!
- Similar to the Nobilis quote above, Arthas of World of Warcraft plans himself right into a grave. Spending half the Wrath of the Lich King expansion killing off sub-bosses as if they were mooks, until finally when the players in their 10 or 25 man group face him, claims it was all according to his plan to train and equip the most powerful people in the world so he can kill them and use them as generals in his army. He nearly succeeds, though, letting you cut him down to 10% health before instakilling the raid and putting all your souls in his grip, ready to implement his plan... and it takes something of a Deus ex Machina for his plan to finally be derailed.
- Kil'jaeden's plans are pretty much ALL this. Even failures, because he EXPECTS most of his minions to fail. If they succeed, great. If not, well, he hadn't planned for them to succeed, so no real loss. He's also immortal and plans really, really long-term. He finally lost his cool when he honest-to-goodness for real failed when he came to Azeroth...which is also where his brother, whom he's been chasing for 25,000 years currently resides. Said brother ends up having a hand in his defeat, so yeah, Azeroth was literally his ONLY real failure in over 25,000 years. And he still isn't dead. All it takes for him to come back is some schmuck opening the Sunwell portal. Blood Elves never have been too responsible with magic...
- In Tsukihime, Kohaku pretty much says this once it's revealed that she was behind almost the entire plot of the Far Side routes.
That's right. All of it was something I wished would happen, Shiki-san.
- Ocelot in nearly every Metal Gear game he appears in. There's a reason he's renowned for his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
- The Half-Life series started with an accident when a sample of an unknown material was rushed through an experiment, which happened to fall on a day when the computers had crashed earlier and where still acting somewhat strange from time to time. Which lead to the scanning machine and the material sample acting as a kind of teleportation device, opening an interdimensional rift through which aliens invaded Earth. The sample happened to come from another project at the research facility, which used the crystals in interdimensional teleportation devices, and at the same time a human looking alien manipulated things in the background so the protagonist Gordon Freeman would kill the leader of the invading aliens, which benefited another unknown power he was working for. 12 years later, Half-Life 2: Episode 2 reveals that it wasn't an accident at all and the strange alien had set everything up to cause the interdimensional rift from the very beginning.
- In Kirby Super Star, we have Marx. In Milky Way Wishes, the sun and moon are fighting. A little puffball named Marx asks Kirby to summon NOVA to wish for the sun and moon to stop. In the end, when Kirby finally gets to NOVA, Marx pushes Kirby out of the way, and wishes to control Popstar. Cue him morphing into an Eldritch Abomination and saying this:
I did it! It all went according to plan! I got the sun and moon to fight. I got you to go into space... It was all according to my perfect little plan!
- Subverted by Kuja in Final Fantasy IX. He says this trope, almost word-for-word, as his common catchphrase, but later it's revealed that he wasn't as in control as he thought. (Or, more accurately, it really did go all according to plan as far as using the heroes was concerned, but he didn't account for his boss predicting his actions.) Fortunately for Kuja, while his Chessmastery needs polish, he plays a damn good game of Xanatos Speed Chess.
- When Robert Baxter is revealed to be the Big Bad of Time Crisis 5.
If you had just died this would all have gone according to plan.
- Happens in Persona 5. You have been arrested, The Dragon has just finished scraping your brains off the interrogation room floor, and there is nothing standing between the Big Bad and the Prime Minister's seat... right?
Ryuji: You're shitting me... we got 'em.
- Subverted in the Errant Story strip "Nick of Time":
Sarine: Whew! Oh thank Anilis! I thought I was about to die any second... ...Sarine: -I mean, just as planned.
- Used a lot in Touhou Nekokayou. It even got inverted in one of the newer strips.
- The Prime of Ambition Christmas Episode filler had this twice in a row. Oh, well...
- Discussed in Monster of the Week:
Sexy informant: My triple-dog agenting against Skinner went according to plan, sir.Cancer Man: You don't know the plan.Sexy informant: Eh, everything always turns out to be according to plan.
- Homestuck: John meets the ghost of Meenah, a troll girl who is an alternate-universe counterpart of the Condesce. When she finds out she's dead, she exclaims happily that her plan worked. Turned out her plan was to kill herself and the rest of her session's players with a bomb to avoid oblivion when the Scratch happened.
- Previously, Doc Scratch managed to pull a version of this on the entire cast, with the event that went as planned being the entirety of Acts 1 through 5. It's only after his own death that the full machinations of Doc Scratch are finally revealed; in fact, it's Doc Scratch's death that allows his master, Lord English, to finally make his appearance. It's his final line that really sells it:
- Augusgus from Tower of God utters this regarding the outcome of the Room Game and FUG's plans.
- In Helper, the main character's Catch-Phrase is "as expected, as expected", hinting that he's actually much smarter than he appears.
- Referenced in the Rifftrax commentary for 300. ("I know it looks bad but its all part of the plan!" during one of the many scenes when Spartans are slaughtering large numbers of Persians.)
- At the end of episode eleven of If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, the Emperor is shown sitting on his throne and musing that everything is going Just. As. Planned. So far, the viewer's idea of what the plan is is pretty sketchy. However, looking back a dozen plus episodes later and he really did have all of his pieces in motion by that point; the question is how much further the chain reaction will go now that the "Holy Shit!" Quotient has topped itself at Beyond the Impossible so many times.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged has this happen in Episode 60, where it's revealed that practically all of the Cell Saga was a gigantic Batman Gambit set up by Goku of all people, who wanted Gohan to replace him as Earth's protector since he knew he wouldn't be around forever. However, he missed one important detail: Gohan is a kind-hearted intellectual and not a fight-happy martial artist like his father, which almost causes the entire thing to go pear-shaped. Lampshaded by having a parody of the Death Note example above, or more specifically the memetic fansub version "All according to keikaku" except, Goku being Goku, he says "cake" instead, and is promptly corrected by translation notes.
- In Codename: Kids Next Door Cree says this when modifying the garbage disposal rocket she was inside to fly towards the KND Moonbase.
- Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne", when Bruce Wayne is chained and Alfred is tied in Doctor Hugo Strange's basement:
Alfred: Oh, Master Bruce! I am so sorry. This is all my fault!Bruce Wayne: Nonsense, Alfred. Believe or not, this is working out just as I planned.Alfred: How reassuring.
- In The Legend of Korra "And the Winner Is...", when The Lieutenant tells Amon that the city is defying his threat.
The Lieutenant: We just got word. The council has defied your threat. They're leaving the pro-bending arena open.Amon: Perfect. Everything is going according to plan.
- The W.I.T.C.H. episode "Q is for Quarry" begins with a battle which results in defeat for the resident villains, leading to this exchange:
Shagon: We were soundly defeated. Cadma will be quite proud of herself.Nerissa: Then everything's going according to plan.
- In Jackie Chan Adventures episode "Black Magic", Tarakudo says this after he has tricked the resident Oni Mask wielder Captain Black to summon the Sumo Khan (beginning his corruption by the Oni General) and allowed him to take the Enforcers into custody and imprison them in Section 13 where three other Oni Masks are stored.
Tarakudo: Ahh, things are going exactly as I envisioned.Finn: This is the plan?