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Counter Zany

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"The only antidote to a zany scheme, is an even zanier scheme!"
Homer, The Simpsons, "Homer Goes to College" note 

Ricky has been pulling a Zany Scheme to keep Lucy away from the club the night the big celebrity is visiting. Lucy finds out. Instead of confronting Ricky, she enlists Fred, Ethel, and the visiting celebrity in "teaching Ricky a lesson he won't soon forget." They stage an elaborate charade, making Ricky believe his scheme has had unintended consequences. Ricky confesses and everyone yells, "Gotcha!"

Usually we see a conspirator whispering, "Here's what we do," and the scene cuts away. See Unspoken Plan Guarantee.

The comedic variant of Out-Gambitted. Sometimes the Zany and the Counter Zany collide in a matter-antimatter explosion, resulting in Aesops all around, on the house. If the Counter Zany is then countered, you have Zany Scheme Chicken.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Mao-chan, the new Prime Minister starts a Monster Protection Racket to promote his "Three Aces" team... whereupon the Defense Force leaders launch their own fake alien at the same time to try to get the Defense Corps girls back in the public's good graces. Turns into a game of Zany Scheme Chicken when Yuriko launches a real alien for the girls to fight... and all of the aliens look like pandas.

    Fan Works 
  • Danganronpa Re:Programmed: In Chapter Three, the culprit's plan comes crashing down around their ears due to Yasuhiro launching a particularly absurd one of these.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey: "How do you stop a pair of bad robot usses?" "By building a pair of good robot usses to fight them!"


    Live-Action TV 
  • The Community episode "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" features a Gambit Pileup of Counter Zanies. Since all of them involve people being apparently shot dead only to get back up and reveal they faked the whole thing, the poor Dean ends up a nervous wreck.
  • Home Improvement, especially in earlier seasons, often had Tim and Jill pulling these in response to their children's antics in order to teach them a lesson.
  • I Love Lucy was probably the first to do this on television. And the second and third and fourth and tenth...
  • Our Miss Brooks: Happens occasionally. In "Twins at School", after discovering Connie has been impersonating her non-existent identical twin Bonnie, Mr. Conklin invents a non-existent identical twin of his own. Complete with cowboy accent.


    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: when Generator hatches a plan to prank Phase with realistic shoulder angels, Phase retaliates by stealing Generator's lingerie. While Generator is standing in the middle of the cafeteria. Generator does not take this lying down.

    Western Animation 
  • Kaeloo: In the episode "Let's Play Courtroom Drama", Mr. Cat violently attacks Quack quack the indestructible duck with a chainsaw and then claims he didn't. Kaeloo decides to put him on trial, with herself as Quack Quack's lawyer and Stumpy as the lawyer. Mr. Cat points out that Kaeloo can transform into a violent monster whose actions are well beyond her conscious control and accuses Kaeloo of being the real attacker. Kaeloo seems to believe this story and packs her bags. Mr. Cat asks where she is going, and she explains that she is leaving Smileyland in order to avoid hurting her friends. Mr. Cat, feeling extremely guilty and not wanting his "best friend" to leave forever, confesses to the crime and says that his story was a made-up lie. Kaeloo then turns around to face him, declares him guilty and punishes him offscreen.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the episode "28 Pranks Later", Rainbow Dash starts a campaign of pranking Ponyville that starts to get a bit too indiscriminate after her friends told her she wasn't putting enough thought into them and she takes it the wrong way. The rest of the Mane Six eventually confront RD and tell her that she needs to stop because the pranks are starting to cross the line into flat-out insensitive, but Rainbow Dash makes clear she won't. The obvious solution then becomes: trick her into thinking swapping out cookies for her latest prank accidentally triggered a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • South Park: The boys' parents launch a Zany Scheme in which actors pretend to be the boys' time-traveling future selves, with the aim of scaring the boys away from drugs and alcohol. After discovering the truth, Stan attempts to fight the zany scheme with logic but gets nowhere. Butters, with the help of Cartman, launches a Counter Zany to get revenge on his parents (by smearing feces all over their house). Needless to say, the Zany-Counter Zany collision results in a standard Anvilicious message about communication and honesty.
    • For added hilarity, Butters' Counter Zany somehow had the exact effect he hoped for; his parents apologize for the original scheme immediately, even though they would normally scold him for doing perfectly innocent stuff.
  • One Spongebob Squarepants episode involves a "extremely convoluted" plot by Plankton to get the Krabby patty formula by re-friending Mr. Krabs. At the end it looks like Plankton succeeded as Krabs gives him the formula, only for the piece of paper to say, "GOTCHA," and Krabs to reveal he had his own "extremely convoluted" plot to humiliate Plankton. Plankton gets a Big "NO!" at the very end.