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Gambit Roulette

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"How can anyone, even skilled conspirators, predict with perfect accuracy the outcome of a car crash? How can they know in advance that a man will go to a certain pay phone at a certain time, so that he can see a particular truck he needs to see? How can the actions of security guards be accurately anticipated? Isn't it risky to hinge an entire plan of action on the hope that the police won't stop a car speeding recklessly through a downtown area?"

A convoluted plan that relies on events completely within the realm of chance, yet goes off without a hitch. If your first reaction to seeing The Plan unfold is "There is no way that you could have planned that would happen!", then it's a Gambit Roulette.

A Gambit Roulette tries to make a character seem impressive, but can break Willing Suspension of Disbelief if not done correctly. You really have to establish a character as The Chessmaster for them to be able to pull this off without arousing your audience's skepticism. If the character pulling the roulette is a god, a person with precognition, a hyper-advanced AI, or someone else with similar abilities interacting with mortals, it becomes somewhat more believable, but even then, the suspension of disbelief can be tenuous at best.

If, as part of retconning in a new villain, everything up to then (including the supposed successes of the heroes against the old villains) is all part of a new Evil Plan, it's Arc Welding. Also often the justification of the Omniscient Morality License; their control over events is supposedly total. Many examples could be part of a Xanatos Gambit where it simply never became necessary to tell the audience about any other contingencies.


May be parodied by having events obviously (and blatantly) be out of the character's control, and yet still have them take credit for it.

Note that complexity alone does not make a plan into roulette. A few separate plans may combine while individually making logical sense. When a dozen things are going on but the actual details of the plan aren't reliant on each item fortuitously fitting into place, then it's a Gambit Pileup. If the character has plans for either outcome, not just the improbable one, it's Xanatos Gambit. If they admit that they hadn't planned for certain occurrences, but took advantage of them as they came up, that's Xanatos Speed Chess. Contrast Batman Gambit which is based on the most likely outcome, based on the planner's knowledge of the people involved, rather than an improbable one. A roulette requires the planner to say that events that were literally impossible to predict were All According to Plan.


This is a Spoilered Rotten trope. Expect spoilers and avoid using spoiler tags unnecessarily.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • As befitting a gambling anime, the titular character of Akagi has zero problems betting his life on the spin of this trope (and it helps that he's Born Lucky). The cool thing is that even if you know zero mahjong, the bystanders in both examples below will give you enough context to tell you that no sane person would bet their life on his strategies.
    • First episode of the anime? Akagi bets that the cops looking for him show up at the perfect time... so he can swipe mahjong tiles from the discards and turn his hand into a monster while everyone's attention is on the unwanted cops; not only that, the Yakuza he's been playing against won't even be able to retaliate, because, well, cops.
    • One episode is actually called "The Magic of Coincidence," featuring TWO roulettes. His whole strategy that episode partly boils down to "the tiles are at the right place at the right time", and the rest, of course, mindgames.
      Akagi: Reason won't work. I'll get stuck at the keyhole with reason alone. By trying to open the lock, you'd have to use another force. If I had to call it something, it'd be the "force of coincidence". You're defenseless when things happen by accident.
      Opponent: [agitated] This is stupid! He's depending too much on coincidence!
  • Berserk:
    • The plot of the Golden Age Arc relies on a certain series of events that would be otherwise meaningless without each other. Griffth's fall from grace, for instance, requires four things to happen in sequence or it's for nothing. Justified by events being orchestrated by an Eldritch Abomination.
    • Griffith's plan to capture Doldrey involves a legitimate Batman Gambit, but it also works flawlessly in spite of a factor that Griffith apparently left up to chance but would have ruined everything if it hadn't gone his way. After Griffith lures Gennon's forces away from the castle, Casca and her group simply ride in through the castle's front gate which has been left wide open despite a battle being in progress. While this stroke of luck was caused by the idiocy of whoever was in charge of the castle's defense (Adon Corbowitz, we're looking at you), Griffith did not even know that this would happen and was not shown to have had a plan for Casca getting past the gate if it had been closed. It could not have been because he knew from spies or other sources that Adon had an ill-conceived plan to let the attackers in and ambush them, because the ambush came as a complete surprise to Casca, who surely would have been told by Griffith if he had known. The anime version has this flaw in Griffith's plan as well. The film adaptation fixes this by Griffith having an actual plan to get Casca inside, by having her group disguised in the armor of Adon's Blue Whale Knights and using Adon—who they captured in the woods in this version—as a Trojan Horse so that the defenders would let them in.
  • In Bleach, most of Sosuke Aizen's longwinded plans rely on this, which is odd given that he's easily powerful enough to get what he wants via brute force. Later on, this gets brought to its logical conclusion: Aizen claims the entire plot (or at least Ichigo's role) has been exactly as planned. It's never fully expanded on, so it's possible he was just lying to mess with Ichigo. Also, Kisuke Urahara engages in Gambit Roulettes as well, to the point where the first 2/3 of the series can be reduced to these two Chessmasters dueling one another in a case of Aizen's "Just as Planned" attitude versus Urahara's "just as expected" attitude.
    • It's finally expanded on years later, both in real life and in-universe. Aizen was telling the truth when he claimed to be responsible for Ichigo's birth. However, it wasn't actually planned and mostly amounts to a lucky fluke; one of his modified-Hollow experiments was derailed by the unexpected presence of both Captain Isshin Shiba and a Quincy, Masaki Kurosaki. But Aizen finds it fascinating when one of his experiments doesn't go as planned, and being a big fan of Xanatos Speed Chess he immediately incorporates this event and its inevitable consequence (the birth of Ichigo as a Shinigami/Quincy/Hollow hybrid) into his plan. Urahara was around to witness this as well, explaining how he was able to guess that Aizen's plans would involve manipulating Ichigo. Despite this, it's still unclear—and debated by the fandom—whether he really planned for all of Ichigo's fights—which lead to him getting killed, twice,—or if he was just screwing with Ichigo's head.
    • Yhwach, leader of the Quincies, isn't any better. Taking out Yamamoto who he isn't strong enough to take head on? He planned for that. A possible betryal from Uryu, who just joined the Quincies? He planned for that. Kisuke restoring all of the shinigami's stolen bankais and preventing them from being taken again? He planned for that. Ichigo leaving a path open to the Soul Palace after going there to train? He planned for that. While Aizen at least had to improvise once in awhile, Yhwach seems to be able to predict literally everything his opponents are going to do. His second in command later reveals Yhwach is literally omniscient once his powers fully awaken, though somehow Yhwach was successfully predicting all of his enemies' moves even before that happened.
  • Near the end of the Blue Dragon anime, Zola reveals that she had managed to use events since she was a child to ensure that she could release darkness upon the world, managing to find all seven Soldiers of Light required to free it, recruit five of them, kill off Nene so that Deathroy would choose a weaker partner in Delphinium who couldn't oppose her alone, and lure both Delphinium and Logi, the last Soldier, to the Sealed Grounds, unleashing the darkness. She almost succeeded in consuming the world as a result too.
  • While Code Geass's main draw was the Gambit Speed Chess, sometimes it drops into this trope:
  • Justified in Darker Than Black. The reason Amber's plans are always so ridiculously convoluted is because she can control time. It's implied that she's had to live through the same events many, many times to get everything to work correctly.
  • Death Note is filled with these.note  The most impressive is the plan that changes the course of the entire series — Light arranging L's death while coming off completely above suspicion. This involves an extended Memory Gambit, at the end of which every element needed to be exactly in the place they were in order to work. Such utterly unpredictable elements include: a cop Light didn't know prior to the Memory Gambit missing when he shot at the temporary owner of the Death Note and Light killing Higuchi while holding the Death Note, so that he could reclaim ownership of it and make the memory restoration permanent. Note that he was handcuffed to L at that point. Had the bullet been just an inch to the left, Higuchi would've died too soon and whoever picked up the Death Note first (most likely the cop who shot him) would become its official owner and Light would have had to kill him to ensure that he didn't lose his memories for good, something that would've been a bit harder to do without giving L enough evidence to prove Light is Kira.
  • Detective Conan once figured out a case just in time by subverting this trope. He had several suspects as to who was unknowingly given a bomb, narrowing them down by whether they had something that could hide a bomb and an electronic device that could set it off. He eventually deduced the only person it could be was the woman with the cell phone, as all other people's devices were unpredictable and accidentally pressing a button could set the bomb off too early.
  • Digimon Adventure 02: Each villain appeared (and sometimes believed himself/herself) to be the Big Bad, only for it to turn out that another, higher villain had orchestrated everything from behind the scenes. It all leads to one final Big Bad, MaloMyotismon, having used people to use other people to use still others, with no one Disc-One Final Boss aware of the next one's influence. The aspect of this that most blatantly puts the lie into "I totally planned all that" was Arukenimon, the one villain who did know she wasn't the top dog: her arc was about her plan to destroy seven Cosmic Keystones and cause The End of the World as We Know It, which would have made it impossible for her boss to get what it turns out he wanted (and leaving him dead.) Somehow it's doubtful that this is what he had in mind, and the same goes for his boss, the aforementioned MaloMyotismon, who wanted the world(s) intact and accordingly conquerable.
  • Hiruma, the quarterback of the Deimon Devilbats, of Eyeshield 21. Most of the quarterbacks, actually. Takami of Ojou White Knights and Hiruma once had a "Is that what you thought I'd say?" battle in the middle of an intense play. It was noted by other characters that Hiruma actually knows the odds of all his gambits and only use the sink or swim ones against teams way above his rookie team's level since they already needed a miracle to win anyway so might as well plan one. It's even referred as a Signature Move by the end of the series: Hiruma's Demon Magic.
  • In Fairy Tail, Jellal reveals his Gambit Roulette after the Magic Council fires a magic laser for the purpose of destroying his aim to resurrect an evil mage. When the dust clears, it's found that it had been his plan to do so all along, as some special crystals have absorbed all the magic fired, giving him the power source to resurrect him. One could say that it was more of a Batman Gambit considering he planted an astral projection of himself in the council in order to guide them to that point, but there was no guarantee they would use the magic laser, hit the tower straight on, and the crystals would absorb all the magic, and that he wouldn't be found out... etc.
  • In an episode of Galaxy Angel, one (fake) debt leads to the faking of a kidnapping plot by Ranpha and Mint - which leads to another fake kidnapping plot by Volcott - which leads to another fake kidnapping plot by his commander - which leads to that victim's family landing another fake plot - which somehow results in some random little girl and bear faking one... Which results in the original perpetrator falling ploy to the plot, leading him to increase the random on his plot. The story ends on an infinite loop.
  • Gundam:
    • A frighteningly good Roulette is used in, of all the Gundam series, the much-less-serious-than-usual Mobile Fighter G Gundam. Neo-Japan's previous Gundam-Fighter and now military advisor was behind the intrigue to claim the Devil Gundam in order to use it to rule the world. Therefore he blamed Kyouji and removed Domon's father from the scene. He even used Domon to get his hands on his toy of destruction. In the end he can foil Neo-Hong Kong's prime minister to get his hands on the Devil but it is of no use to him.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Milliardo Peacecraft takes over leadership of White Fang and says that in order to bring peace, he's going to destroy the source of all conflicts - the Earth. Cue his former best friend Treize Khushrenada, who assumes command of the World Nation and vows to fight Milliardo to the last man. It's subtly hinted in the anime, and outright stated in the manga, that they're faking it, and their real intention is to scare the world towards peace by showing them a horrible and pointless war - so subtly that, unfortunately, many dismiss Milliardo's actions as a hamhanded retread of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack. This is because Milliardo either needed to act convincing enough to seem realistically motivated (thus fooling the audience as well as his cohorts) or he actually believed in destroying the Earth like Char. Milliardo goaded Treize into retaking leadership of the Romafeller Foundation as a means to ensure that someone would play off him, since he knew Relena wouldn't be able to. However the whole battle feels more like an elaborate abstraction of chess ala Morton's Fork. This is best hinted at during the scene in which Treize almost sacrifices himself charging Libra in a Thanatos Gambit, where immediately afterwards, White Fang realizes the whole incident was a farce to get them distracted from Treize's commando troops.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, Gilbert Durandal's quest to push the Destiny Plan into motion is really hard to pin down if he's playing this trope or if he's playing Xanatos Speed Chess. A lot of this hinges on how much he knew about the assault on Armory One, the "Break the World" incident and the assassination attempt on Lacus Clyne.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Aeolia Schoenberg, a scientist who passed away 200 years before the setting, invented every essential technology required till the present to obtain his supposed ideal of humanity traveling to the stars. Therefore he initiates the creation of Celestial Being and probably the Innovators as well, and possibly foresaw all the important events of the series, e.g. the failure of the first CB actions, the birth of the federation which would turn corrupt and then be beaten by CB again. Though, it's unclear how much of Ribbons behaviour was in unison with his plans. Ribbons claims his rule was the final goal, but that's highly doubtful. It's more likely that Aeolia anticipated Ribbons' betrayal, or perhaps even considered as a necessary part of the plan. There's also the implication that the supercomputer VEDA is making alterations to the details of Aeolia's plan to still achieve the same end result, given how ridiculous it would be for a single man to predict all of this happening hundreds of years after his death.
  • InuYasha's father, who died before the series began, is the driving force behind many events in the series, having set it them up so that his sons would get stronger and get along before they killed each other (or someone else killed them).
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure when Dio received brain damage and could barely move, he tried to run away only to be stopped and beaten by Jotaro. Then it was revealed he really wanted to get near Joseph Joestar's body to drain his blood and heal himself, manipulating Jotaro into throwing him right there.
  • The events of the first season of K were a plan of this sort from the Green King. Really, being the King of Chaos, he might not have cared what happened - his main goal was drawing the Silver King out from hiding - but he seems to have put enough faith in the Silver King to know that he would come out on top after all of this - and considering that the Silver King has been alone in an airship with no contact with anyone for seventy years, and that he does nearly get himself killed in solving it, that is a lot of faith to put in him.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh!: Shinou and Daikenja/Ken Murata had a Roulette in play for four thousand years aimed at defeating the Soushou.
  • In Naruto Madara Uchiha reveals the truth behind Obito Uchiha becoming the Big Bad. Obito's Face–Heel Turn was originally after his childhood crush Rin Nohara died when she was abducted by the Hidden Mist. All of the abductors were being mind-controlled by Madara and Rin herself had seal on her heart in order to she couldn't kill herself so Obito had to watch her be murdered not knowing she likely chose it. The entire thing was planned to destroy Obito's idealism and turn him evil. The fact that Rin committed suicide via Kakashi was a happy coincidence. As was the fact that Rin and Kakashki both picked up the Idiot Ball and forgot their mentor Minato is a seal master who can teleport, and thus didn't send one of Kakashi's dogs to get his help stabilizing the seal placed on Rin.
    • But of course this plan nothing to compared with Black Zetsu's plan to revive Kaguya. First he caused Indra's betrayal of Ashura in order to start the Uchiha-Senju feud. Then he edited the Sage of the Six Paths' tablet in order to make the Uchiha Clan his pawns. Then he watched over both brothers reincarnations in hopes of finding someone that would be able to awaken the Rinnegan: Madara. Note  From there, he had to rely on Madara creating the Moon Eye Plan in order for his plan to succeed. In the process, Madara was somehow tricked into thinking he had himself created Black Zetsu. And guess what? His plan went off without a single hitch.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Subverted. The convoluted plans of nearly all factions have as their crux being able to control Rei Ayanami, which, right at the last minute, rebels.
    • While the two major players of the game, SEELE and Gendo had private, secret agendas which ultimately failed, everything occurred just as planned by a very hidden player, Yui Ikari. Maybe.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion plays this trope completely straight with Gendo's convoluted scheme to start another Impact.
  • The overarching plan Blackbeard concocts in One Piece borders between this and Xanatos Speed Chess. While there are a number of elements to his plan that rely largely on chance, they're mitigated by how either Blackbeard put himself in the best position to succeed, or the chance occurrence simply made things easier rather than being absolutely critical. For example, the start of his plot hinges on Blackbeard finding a very specific Devil Fruit, when finding any Devil Fruit at all is an exceedingly rare occurrence; to deal with this, Blackbeard joins Whitebeard's pirate crew, realizing that he stood the best chance of finding the single fruit he wanted there. Later on, Blackbeard plans on breaking out several of the most dangerous criminals of Impel Down. To even aproach the prison he has to gain favour with the government, which he plans to do by beating a high bounty-head, and delivering said person to the government. He decides on Luffy, as he was at the time worth 100.000.000, beat a Shichibukai and was relatively close. Luffy barely escapes, and Ace later catches up with Blackbeard (BB killed a crewmate to get the fruit, Ace got pissed) and after a fight Ace takes Luffy's place as a prisoner. At the prison he happens to arrive just as Luffy, who had broken into the same prison earlier in order to rescue his brother, has begun his efforts to break back out alongside several allies he had made along the way, which makes things much easier for Blackbeard. This is lampshaded by how Blackbeard and his crew often talk about the role of fate in their plans, as if recognizing that the plot will allow their plans to succeed eventually. Blackbeard himself admits to Sengoku that his plan hit a snag here and there, but overall it worked out as planned.
  • Toua Tokuchi of One Outs is a frequent user of this trope, though he still manages to make it look pretty damn awesome.
  • Oto x Maho has Konata, Kanata's mother, having in the first chapter, what appears to be a legitimate plan. Later, in a flashback scene, we find out that it was only the last stage of a Gambit Roulette years in the making, which included nothing happening to her and her son, her finding a "supervisor" (a sort of messenger for a Magical Girl), a bad guy showing up at PRECISELY the right time, her being physically stronger than her son when it ends, and everything else that is purely in the realm of chance. Because of Unspoken Plan Guarantee, it goes off without a hitch.
  • In the Pokémon episode "The Stolen Stones", Team Rocket devised a plot to steal Fire Stones involving a rocket ship, a tandem bicycle that splits into two unicycles, a battlefield, three pitfalls (including one placed in the center of the battlefield), and two bags of fake stones, and Jessie even lost a battle on purpose in order to pull off the plan without a hitch.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, Green and Sabrina are chained together while battling Lorelei, and Green is K-O'ed. But then she wakes up, tells Lorelei her entire plan up until that point, then reveals that it was her "victory strut". She then apparently takes her lower arm off in order to free Sabrina from the spell shackling them together... only that was never her arm in the first place, but rather her Ditto; she'd been expecting some sort of trick and this was her reason for putting her jacket on when she'd first arrived on Cerise Island. If that were true, one wonders why she went through all of the trouble of being "dead weight" in the first place, since she and Sabrina were apparently never actually shackled together... Oh, yes, did we mention that she's supposed to be the ''good'' guy? Sabrina calls her on this... and boy, is she pissed, having noted that same Fridge Logic. Green nervously justifies it saying she had to make it look convincing to Lorelei or she'd lose the element of surprise that ultimately did Lorelei in.
  • In Project Arms, the ultimate plan of Keith White ends up being this.
  • In Soul Hunter it turns out that the entire houshin project was really there to destroy an omnipotent being, who was in turn manipulating history. The main character turns out to be the same person as a major villain, the person whom they were, was a member of the same race as the first omnipotent being, and he had predicted the whole series of events hundreds of years earlier.
  • In the anime and manga Spiral: Suiri no Kizuna, the ability to ravel and unravel Plans and Roulettes is, although it's not stated quite so baldly, a superpower many characters possess. Most of them assert that everything in the plot is a giant Roulette planned by the protagonist's older brother.
  • Yuuko of Xxx HO Li C and Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- seems to be aware of all "effects" to all "costs" via Wishes and manipulates them together to affect the future in ways mere mortals can't possibly predict. Yuuko's one limitation is that only other people can initiate Wishes, and she has to be a Literal Genie to get the result she wants. Things get complicated when the villain of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle uses his ability to see the future through dreams to manipulate fate this way too, often with the same costs and effects. There are other dreamseers in the series pulling strings as well, but most of them are allied with either Yuuko or Fei Wong and incorporated into their plans. Also, every member of the initial party is somehow working for Yuuko or Fei Wong. All of them had been previously manipulated by the two chessmasters into the circumstances which led them to Yuuko's shop. Only one of them knows which side he's playing for from the beginning, but even his memories were changed to better serve the Big Bad. Topping it off, everything both of them planned was secretly part of Clow Reed's plan, which also incorporated the entire plot of Cardcaptor Sakura. Clow has been dead for centuries.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • Dartz, The Leader of the Doma Organization, used this to recruit his followers; except for Mai, Haga, and Ryuzaki, all of his servants' past troubles that eventually lead to their joining the Organization were orchestrated by Dartz himself just so he could inflict a rage against humanity in them and use More Than Mind Control to cajole them into signing up.
    • Later on, Yami Bakura's master plan comes up, which took over 200 bloody episodes to come to fruition.
    • Furthermore, in every duel in the series, the opposing duelist is always thought to be a Chessmaster, no matter how competent (or not) the duelist actually is. The Magic Poker Equation is responsible by no small measure. Yugi's duel against the mind-controlled Strings is a good example. While Marik's "Five God Combo" was lethal when Strings pulled it off, there were dozens of things that could have gone wrong.
  • Yubel, Judai's Stalker with a Crush from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX gives a prime example of this trope. During Season 3 of the show, she completes and executes one of the most intricate and chancy plans of the genre by manipulating everyone and everything with mind-control, possession and, most unthinkably, losing a match on purpose.
  • Though most of Kurama's gambits in YuYu Hakusho are justified, the one he used in his fight against Shigure counts. Just how many seeds does Kurama have to plant in demon world? What are the chances such an important fight would take place in one of the few places he could have planted it?

    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.
    • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • In Aeon Natum Engel Gendo admits this is what his plans amount to. Although, considering the setting, all plans are at risk of becoming like this. Why? Well, because Nyarlathotep is a dick.
  • Child of the Storm has Doctor Strange's plans initially appear to be this, before one very crucial thing is explained: Strange is not only a terrifyingly powerful Seer, but he's also a time traveller and Time Master, thanks to being altered by the Time Stone, meaning that he can see and predict more or less every possibility and arrange circumstances or manipulate people so that things turn out as he desires. Additionally, he's also shown not to be as infallible or omniscient as he likes to appear, something he points out himself (noting that it's part of a carefully constructed reputation). However, they do all tend to be hideously complicated.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality:
    • Draco remembers a tragedy play his father brought him to see (an expy of Death Note), and at the end, Lucius asked him what the meaning of the play was. Draco mistook it to be as clever as the characters. His father chastised him, saying that any plan that requires more than three steps to succeed is unlikely to the point of worthless, and because only a fool goes with a plan that is barely possible, you really should never plan more than two steps.
    • When Blaise Zabini works as a pawn for Dumbledore in the school armies, his Battle Magic teacher chides him for the plan, despite its success.
      Quirrell: In your future career, Mr. Zabini, I do not suggest trying any plots that complicated. They have a tendency to fail.
      Blaise: Um, I said that to the Headmaster, actually, and he said that was why it was important to have more than one plot going at a time.
    • Quirrell eventually explains that there are two types of plans: Plans that you want to succeed (which can be as complicated as you like, since they're not vital), and plans that you need to succeed (which should be simple and perfect). It also helps give you a reputation for blind luck and failure if you need people to think you're less competent than you really are.
    • The big Reveal at the end is that the entire story is one, put together by Dumbledore after he read (literally!) every single prophecy ever. Amazingly, even with this massive advantage, he still completely failed to predict how quickly Harry would defeat Voldemort. Thanks to the rat's nest of multiple complex prophecies he was working from even he has no idea how a lot of it is supposed to work; he ended up shooting for "humanity survives the aftermath" rather than a more specific plan.
  • At the end of the Hero High Series. The main villain Pharaoh Alexander Sovereign nee Tempus reveals that his entire plan that he has practically set up throughout the series, was to stop his mother's crazy plan, revealing her to be the true villain. Or at least the eviler of two evils. He was also known to being infamous for his plans within plans, as well as fully understanding what a person is likely to do in the situation he presents them.
  • My Little Avengers: It's eventually revealed that the entire plot was engineered by Loki in order to create a scenario wherein Big Mac is forced to willingly surrender Thor's power, allowing Loki to take over Equestria. It temporarily works and was only undone due to Pinkie Pie being a bigger Spanner in the Works than Loki anticipated.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos: The whole Metarex war is merely a part of a gigantic conspiracy by Maledict the Devil in order to create a weapon powerful enough to defeat his enemies and conquer the universe.
  • Death Note Equestria has one, of which Twilight's Memory Gambit is just one component. And she pulls it off masterfully, getting everything she wanted — L and Mer dead, her own name cleared as Kira, and putting herself in prime position to take control of the investigation.
  • Parodied in Tealove's Steamy Adventure. Baron Zeppeli sits on his throne and watches the heroes through a crystal ball. As the heroes go through their adventure—including a number of events completely beyond his influence, such as getting captured by a cave troll, then escaping with the help of a pony they'd never met before—Zeppeli insists that every twist and turn is exactly as planned. The actual end goal of his plan is never stated, either.
  • In Diaries of a Madman, Discord is bored. Very, very bored. He's been alive for millions of years because, as a spirit of chaos, he can't actually die while there are still sophonts on the planet, and he can't kill them directly because that would be in service to order. So he brings into existence a copy of the one person who can potentially kill him for good, and ultimately breaks his own plan by sending Nav into the past. The Stable Time Loop he creates causes him to weep for the first time in aeons. This is an Inverted Trope: the villain set things up so that all roads he could predict led to victory, but he just happened to land the ball on the 00. Everything else he does, however, is pretty much a Gambit Roulette.
  • Thousand Shinji: The Warhammer 40,000 gods' plan was a very complex scheme, involving time-travel, several Batman Gambits and several dozens of different variables. And even so it went as planned. Justified because Tzeentch was planning it, and he plans for everything.
  • There are so many factors that could have fallen the wrong way and doomed the yakuza's weapon shipment plans in Cries Unheard (a Lucky Star fanfic):
    • To start with, where does Satoshi get the notion that Miyuki would have security information pertaining to her father's shipping company, which is not part of her own personal life? Incidentally, she actually had overheard certain things from said father, Jiro, but how could Satoshi have predicted that? (Let's also keep in mind that this is the reason Satoshi makes a point of isolating her and all her friends from one another and driving them to either suicide or hikikomori. Why didn't he just keep things simple and use some nude footage he secretly took of her to blackmail Jiro instead of her, and leave everyone else out of this whole thing?)
    • The first thing he actually did, though, was walking over to Minami's front lawn after dropping Miyuki off at her house, and poisoning her dog, Cherry, in order to get all of Miyuki's other friends to gather there the next day, come over himself to "console" Minami, and get to know all of said friends. If Cherry was inside the house at that time, he'd probably just assume a different strategy instead, but there's even a one-shot Deconstruction Fic where everyone logically and rightfully suspects him the culprit and tell him off. Worse yet, they could place him under citizen arrest and call the police once he arrives, to say nothing of Konata asking Yui to come along (provided she's actually available) to arrest him once he arrives.
    • After everyone's done consoling Minami, Satoshi then catches up with Tsukasa and Kagami, and invites them to the urban part of Tokyo to meet his friend and cohort Riku Kitamaru. Having not suspected him of anything yet like she should have, Kagami has no reason to turn down any small talk, but what if she declined to commute with him?
    • Touching someone's hair the first time you meet her? Butterflies in her stomach or none, that's a great way to risk creeping her all the way out, Riku!
    • To begin with, what if Kagami decided that she just wasn't into Riku, or if Konata decided she wasn't into Kenji?
    • Part of Kenji's role in things is to keep Tsukasa and Kagami on some questionable terms, by feeding Tsukasa's illogical suspicion that Kagami has betrayed her in favor of her new boyfriend. To begin with, said suspicion started when it was narrated during Kagami and Satoshi's small talk that Kagami "ignored" Tsukasa the whole time. Not only is that Out of Character for her, but Tsukasa seemed like she was just standing on the sidelines waiting for either of them to speak to her, instead of actually contributing to their conversation like she does in canon. Also, how does it not occur to her that Kagami does have her own life as well, instead of existing entirely for her sake? But, now that that's already unfolded...
      • The lies that he tries to feed her get undone once by Minoru (whom she's dating at that time). Kenji, whom she texted along with him to meet her to introduce to eachother, subsequently abducts Minoru after he and Tsukasa part to torture him just for seeing her at all. What if Minoru didn't go anywhere conducive to said abduction? Also, Tsukasa lives with a loving family of six; if she believed Minoru about Kagami, then it's obvious that she and Kagami should be back on good terms, and any further attempts to brainwash her to suicide should not have panned out. They did have such a good time shopping together not much earlier on, and it's not like Kagami would snub her again after that.
      • Not to mention the obvious risk of Minoru reporting what he did to him to the police. (For that matter, anyone could, no matter what you do short of just killing them to "ensure" that they don't. Especially Misao later on; more on her in a bit.)
    • Also, charming as Riku may be, what if Kagami actually did suspect she was being stalked?
    • Satoshi's advice to Kenji about Kagami: Treat her like royalty, so that they can see how long it takes her to offer her body to them, which she eventually does in return for being the only ones there in solidarity for her at Tsukasa's funeral. As if all it takes to a girl's pussy (and to avoid accountability for raping her friends) is to "be a nice guy".Pro tip 
    • Yes, nowhere like a crowded summer festival to stab someone (Konata) in the back to render her unconscious and abduct her, when it's more likely that she'll either die outright or scream in pain. That latter outcome is bound to draw attention to a knife-wielding thug like Kenji, but even that aside, one has to wonder why no one bats an eye at him carrying her limp body around instead of leaving it there and waiting for help to arrive (assuming they missed the part where he stabbed her in the first place).
    • And when Konata wakes up again, Kenji threatens to murder Yutaka should she seek help from Yui. Did it not occur to him that Yui will probably be the one, along with Soujiro, to demand an explanation from her instead regarding her changes in behavior and Yutaka's absence ever since they all first met him, and how likely to break down and come clean she'll be once she finds no way out from them? Just how stupid does he assume a couple of folks he's only just met really are? (The fact that Yui really didn't pick up on this the whole time is a wallbanger in and of itself. I mean... )
    • Riku and Kenji just so happen to be camping next to Misao and her family, when logically, they shouldn't be camping near anyone while abusing Konata. (They do have Yutaka hostage, but that's only a deterrent; should she decide at any point to beg for help anyway, killing her still won't prevent any repercussions that might unfold.) Misao spots them, strides over to say hi, and is subsequently raped and abducted. Those boys are lucky that her parents and brother somehow don't notice anything and either confront them or identify them for the police.
    • And it's after this that the boys demand to know who else Konata and Misao are friends with, so that they can terrorize all of them too. The rest of those girls (besides Yutaka) currently have no idea that any of this is going on; why would they want to get them involved in this whole thing now and make more work and higher risk of arrest for themselves?
    • Nanako dies in a traffic collision courtesy of the boys severing her car's brake cables. Sure, just do that one thing and let nature take its course. As if we don't have things called seatbelts and airbags designed specifically to prevent anyone from dying in a car wreck. Had she survived, how would they know where she'd have ended up before she could call the police?
      • The author himself had deleted the fic in May 2016, after leaving it sitting at chapter 15 since November 10, 2014, specifically after realizing how utterly broken the storytelling was. Many additional variables that will never be accounted for would all have to unfold just the right way if those boys were to survive (at least for as long as they did) and have their arms deal go through (which still had yet to be stopped as of the flash-forward chapters that were already written).
  • This motivational poster is part of Aizen's plan.
  • Obscure example, but in GanXingba's Avatar: The Abridged Series, a comment is made mocking Zhao's — and Light's (Death Note) — ability to have plans that rely on perfect timing and actions they shouldn't be able to see coming.
    Zhao: [speaking of Zhao's denial of use of the Yu Yan Archers] Well darn, it looks like I'm out of luck barring a sudden promotion, like the one arriving right now.
    Colonel Shinu: What!? There's no way you could have timed this down to the second!
    Zhao: Of course I can. I went to the Light Yagami School of Strategy. I can practically predict the future.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Jigsaw, the main villain of Saw, is the textbook writer on this. Not only does he manage to contrive up elaborate traps (some of which can easily be thwarted in the end), but he also can somehow pick out the best people to inflict these on, and figure out exactly how they're going to reach to further his aims. And he does this all while being bedridden. And later, dead, and still able to accurately predict everything that will happen in the world several years after his death, down to the tiniest of details. In a flashback in Saw V, he states that "If you're good at anticipating the human mind, it leaves nothing to chance."
  • In Return of the Jedi: Emperor Palpatine reveals that so far, the rebels' success, including their capture of an Imperial shuttle, has occurred because he allowed them to build up their hopes:
    Palpatine: Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design. Your friends, up there on the sanctuary moon, are walking into a trap, as is your Rebel fleet. It was *I* who allowed the Alliance to know the location of the shield generator. It is quite safe from your pitiful little band. An entire legion of my best troops awaits them. Oh, I'm afraid the deflector shield will be quite operational when your friends arrive.
  • The Ocean's Eleven series.
    • The plans of the main characters match this trope quite well, requiring everything to interlock absolutely perfectly. However, they have to adjust the plans several times due to unexpected variables.
    • In particular, the heist in Ocean's Twelve relies on a Gambit Roulette within a Gambit Roulette, with a third Gambit Roulette thrown in for good measure. By the end of the film, the plan becomes so circuitous that it crosses some kind of gambit event horizon.
  • In the original Ocean's 11, all of their gambits pay off but a small oversight results in them losing the money in the end.
  • In Wild Things, Suzie plots to kill the dirty cop who killed her ex-boyfriend and get rich in the process. The full plot is too complicated to explain, but involves relying on everyone being willing to betray everyone else, before then discovering that they've been betrayed themselves. As if that's not enough, in the final scene, the defense lawyer from the rape trial, chosen from the phonebook, implies that he was somehow in on it all along. Most of it does rely on people behaving in character-predictable ways rather than sheer insane chance, especially as the plan meant that anything that looked coincidental was usually a result of then-unrevealed plotters working the other side and delivering the right evidence exactly on cue. It's still ludicrously complicated.
  • The Game. Although it's implied at the end that they had backup plans here and there, and a detailed psych profile on Nicholas to figure out exactly how he'd react, it's hard to believe that CRS could control every detail so completely.
    • To be fair, the movie lampshades this a bit in the final scene when you see the guest invitations on the table requesting the presence of the guests for when Nicholas arrives, and it shows something like an approximate window of fifteen minutes of time (presumably, the invitations were sent out days or weeks in advance). The movie's basically winking and saying "yep, this is pretty silly, just go with it.".
  • The terrorist plot in Die Hard 2 depends on a conveniently-timed severe (but not too severe!) snow storm on the day their leader was being transported. Perhaps there was a deleted scene featuring a weather machine.
  • Subverted in Mystery Men in an exchange between Captain Amazing and Casanova Frankenstein that culminates with "I only knew that you'd know that I knew. Did you know that?" The genuine Evil Plan is very simple: turn on a mad science machine that was already set up and available before he devised the plan.
  • Eisenheim's plan in The Illusionist to fake his love's death and blame it on the Crown Prince of Austria has too many elements to have been coordinated and pulled off as masterfully as it was.
  • The main villain, whatever his real name may have been, in Swordfish. More identities, schemes and deceptions than you can shake a stick at; neither the characters or the viewer are informed much regarding his real plans.
  • The movie The Adjustment Bureau has human agents of Fate who are running one of these with every person on the planet. They are aided by magic fedoras which allow Portal travel and a magic people tracker which shows their people's planned path. The Chairman (who is apparently God) says the eventual goal is not to need them anymore.
  • The plot of Fracture requires that the correct cop be called into the scene of a murder, recognize the victim as the woman he was having an affair with, and then attack her husband. Furthermore, it required that he not kill her husband, but be sufficiently angry to not notice that the husband was switching their guns. In spite of his otherwise brilliant planning, the husband failed to even realize that shooting someone, being found innocent of attempted murder, and then having life support withdrawn, constitutes a count of murder separate from the initial crime.
  • Down with Love. The plot turns out to be one of these by Renee Zellwegger's Doris Day-esque heroine to get Ewan McGregor's Rock Hudson-esque guy to fall in love with her, as Zellwegger explains in one really long, fast-spoken monologue. It works perfectly, but subverted in that the side-effects of her campaign lead her to (temporarily) lose interest in him.
  • Basic Instinct is ludicrously complex, although that's only likely to matter much if you cared about the plot to begin with.
  • While the movie itself wouldn't necessarily be one, the backstory of the film-version of Speed Racer might qualify. Apparently a bunch of industries have been controlling the winner of every important race for decades. Apparently all the sponsors agreed on who won ahead of time, were always able to get the drivers to cooperate with them, and (most insanely) no designated "winner" ever crashed, leaving the race open. Let's not even go into the idea that sponsoring a winning car could double your stock price instantly.
  • In Wicker Park, one character, Alex, is single-handedly manipulating the three other main characters in a desperate attempt to be with Matthew. She convinces Lisa that Matthew is cheating on her and leads Matthew to believe that Lisa has abandoned him. Also, she dates Luke for the purpose of pumping him for information on Matthew and Lisa... among other things. Although it appears that most of her plans are made up on the spot, her schemes do seem to generally work masterfully in her favor. That is, until Matthew discovers enough information to force her to admit everything she did.
  • J.R. Ewing claims to have planned every frickin' little thing in the Dallas movie.
  • The person running the tables in Eagle Eye at first appears to be damn near omniscient and prescient - creepily anticipating everything except Jerry being alive - to the point of (as just the most "damn"-worthy example) calling the cell phones of every single person on a train within seconds of needing to do so. It becomes slightly more believable when it's revealed "she's" a government supercomputer... until the Fridge Logic sets in.
  • Lucky Number Slevin, in which the main character suffers a case of mistaken identity, and is brought in by two separate mob bosses to get revenge upon each other. Long story short, it turns out that he and his mentor - the assassin the mob bosses both hired to take out the MC once he'd done what they wanted - planned the whole thing in order to get revenge on both of them for the murder of his parents.
  • The aggregate actions of the Joker in The Dark Knight: for an agent of chaos with a stated disdain for Chessmasters, he effortlessly pulls together seemingly random and improbable events into a single overall scheme. A good example is his "race for two hostages scheme", which counts on 1. Joker being captured and taking to a holding cell both just close enough yet far enough from the spot of his scheme, 2. Batman being present at the jail to interrogate him, 3. Batman being in love with Rachel Dawes even though the only proof Joker has of this is seeing Batman jump out a window to save her (which he would have done for any person Joker flung out of there), 4. there still being enough time to reach either of the hostages when Joker doesn't have a clock in his cell or on his person, 5. no police being out on patrol close enough to the spots where the hostages are, 6. Batman getting to his hostage first before the police, even though he's using a new vehicle Joker has never seen until this night. And that's just one scheme out of a dozen of his.
  • Total Recall (1990): For their scheme to work, Mars Administrator Cohaagen and Hauser have to eventually get Quaid back to Mars (but he blows his memory cap early so he ends up becoming a Cowboy Cop), Quaid has to get in contact with the Mars Resistance without the Resistance suspecting a trap, and Quaid has to do it without getting himself killed, all so that they can find Resistance Leader Kuato. When this actually happens, Cohaagen explains how he and his men went through a great deal of effort to help Quaid along the way. He admits that the possibility was still nearly unbelievable, noting the myriad ways in which the plan actually did go wrong. This is one of the many reasons behind the All Just a Dream interpretation of the movie.
  • Inside Man: The robbers' scheme hinges on ensuring that no one dies while simultaneously keeping the cops thinking they're deadly dangerous. While the movie presents this as Xanatos Speed Chess, it falls apart when you consider that it relies on the cops not making any mistakes like accidentally shooting a hostage.
  • While Chaos is a good movie, it suffers for being completely made up of hundreds of Gambit Roulettes in order to advance the plot. 1: The banker pressing the alarm, thus sending in the police. 2: Conners being made the negotiator, thus shutting down the power. 3: Conners shutting down the power, thus giving the virus free game. 4: Conners failing to stop SWAT from entering the bank, thus making the mooks escaping the bank. 5: The mooks not being caught on camera while escaping the bank with the hostages (granted, this one was admitted failed in movie). 6: The female cop's phone going off, thus making the cops entering that building. 7: The fact that the whole idea of letting Conners pretend to be dead was based on the idea that out of 2 guys, 1 body is found, and just because it has Conners badge on it makes the cops take for granted that it's Conners body, while not bothering to look for the MISSING SECOND BODY!)
  • In Push, Nick's plan to save Kira relied on knowing exactly what lie Agent Carver would tell her. That's just the most obvious sneak in the plan; the whole thing was so convoluted that psychics couldn't tell what was going on. Ultimately, the entire movie was planned, predicted, and orchestrated by Cassie's mother. There's a reason why she's known as the best Watcher in the world.
  • Subverted in the Danish Olsen-banden films (and the Norwegian and Swedish remakes thereof) by having Egon Olsen's elaborate schemes go off almost without a hitch, only to have the gang deprived of their rewards later by some amazing coincidence. Egon (the only competent member of the gang) is caught by the police and goes to prison (sometimes even for something he's actually done). Though, sometimes he's playing Gambit Speed Chess while the Roulette is spinning.
  • The Wicker Man
    • In the 1973 original, Lord Summerisle explained at the end of the film they needed a person from the mainland who wouldn't stop looking for the girl, and assume he has command over the islanders, and who also would resist even the most blatant of sexual advances. Aside from knowing all that about Howie personally (he mentions "painstaking research"), or that Howie would be sent to the island to investigate, he was able to jerk Howie around, assumingly with the cooperation of the entire island. There was certainly no way of knowing Howie was going to dress up as The Fool by stealing someone else's costume. The only really direct way he kept Howie in line was sabotaging his plane so he couldn't leave.
    • In the 2006 remake, every ten years or so, a woman is sent from her isolated island community for the mainland, to find a man, make him fall in love with her, get impregnated, and then take off back to the island. Then, ten years later, they will contact the man, betting on the off-chance that he's still in love with her, and ask him to come to the island in order to search for her missing child (that she only later informs him is his own child). Why do these women participate in this rather odd sequence of events? Well, it turns out the honey-bees aren't doing their job properly, and they need a human sacrifice with a blood connection to offer up to the fertility gods.
  • In Flightplan an elaborate plot required Jodie Foster's character to take the correct flight on the right day and time, to bring a coffin of her dead husband with her, sit in the correct seat and for no other passenger to notice her daughter. She would then have to fall asleep during the flight and her daughter would need to be kidnapped during the flight while she slept, without anyone noticing the daughter was ever there. Then she would need to act crazy so that no one would believe her story, and go crazy enough to want to see her dead husband, be savvy enough to pull off a successful Indy Ploy to get into the cargo bay, and be forgetful enough to leave his coffin unlocked.
  • Arlington Road: To quote the opening paragraph of Roger Ebert's review: "Later, thinking back through the film, we realize it's not just the ending that's cuckoo. Given the logic of the ending, the entire film has to be rethought; this is one of those movies where the characters only seem to be living their own lives, when in fact they're strapped to the wheels of a labyrinthine hidden plot." It is definitely a Batman ploy taken to Roulette levels to the point of being a Shoot the Shaggy Dog story.
  • The plot of Oldboy (2003) has a Big Bad whose elaborate plan can completely break the Willing Suspension of Disbelief at his scheme to get revenge on his high school nemesis. Specifically, the big bad's plot depends on the protagonist having a relationship with a specific woman, who turns out to be his own daughter, whom he hasn't seen since she was a baby. This is handwaved by having the villain explain that he used post-hypnotic suggestions on both of them to ensure they would fall in love. This gets worst in its 2013 American remake, in which the hypnosis aspect is completely left out.
  • Se7en
    • in which John Doe's master plan hinges on Mills deciding to just shoot him, though he did take measures to increase the likelihood of it happening. John Doe explained in his phone call to Mills that he was "stepping up" his agenda. His final two kills (Wrath and Envy) were originally planned for somebody else, but Mills provided a better opportunity. It is impressive that he was able to pull it together in time.
    • Another Roulette would be orchestrating how the cops find Victor, the "Sloth" victim exactly one year to the day after John first captured him. He had to kill the attorney (Greed), plant Victor's fingerprints behind the painting, assume the cops would get the clue to the lawyer's wife, know that the cops would ask the wife about it at the right moment, and know exactly how long it would take them to match the prints with Victor in order to bust into the apartment at the right moment.
  • Face/Off: To break out of Erehwon Prison, Sean Archer's plan of escape involves removing the metallic shoes from his feet which inhibit his movement. The only way to do that is to be strapped to an electric chair that fries his brain and gives him shock therapy. He gets into a fight with a guy that Castor Troy screwed over in the past and also needed therapy in the chair at just the moment before he was, and have his brain fried but also he needed to barely survive it. Archer (as Castor) would then be strapped himself and have his boots removed, but would quickly have to convince the guy who hates his guts to help him and save him from the guards before they can electrocute him. It doesn't take many words to convince him to die to save Archer.
  • The antagonists' plans in the original House on Haunted Hill (1959) are not only extremely complicated and based on a large amount of chance, they also require an improbable level of footwork on the part of the antagonists, almost requiring them to be in two places at once.
  • Children of Men contains a pretty major spin of the wheel in the bandit attack: it turns out that Theo is travelling with a terrorist group that's decided on a bit of regime change. Julian's death during the attack was part of the plan to bring Luke to the leadership of The Fishes. But that means the plan involved a perfect pistol shot, taken from the back of a speeding motorcycle, into a very small car containing not only the pregnant girl who could be the last hope of humanity, but the would-be leader as well. In a realistic film like this it's hard to imagine a plan so dangerous even being considered.
  • In Speed, the main villain of the film puts a bomb on a bus to take revenge on a police officer that ruined his last scheme and ransom them for $3.7 million. The rules are that once the bus reaches 50 mph, the bomb is armed, and if it drops below 50, then the bomb goes off. The villain then tells said police officer, conveniently the protagonist, all about this. The problem is, the film makes it quite clear that had our protagonist been just a second sooner, he would have caught the bus before arming the bomb, showing that there may have been time to do so. In this sense, the villain relied on the chance that the protagonist wouldn't make it to the bus in time, else the bomb would never arm and there would be nobody to hold hostage.
  • The end of Ninja Champion is especially (in)famous for this.
  • In The A-Team every military action is needlessly dangerous and complex, often relying heavily on the enemy doing some very exact and unlikely actions.
  • Reindeer Games would be completely forgotten if it wasn't for the twist ending that's so insane that it defies all logic.
  • Alexander Pearce's plan in The Tourist. He tells his wife to board a particular train at a a particular time and randomly select a passenger of his height and build, whom she will then pretend is him in disguise. It turns out that the guy she picked really is him in disguise. But, wait, go back and read that again: she's to pick a guy at random. Well, what if she had picked a different guy? It's not like there's only one man of his height and build on that train. In fact, she almost does pick someone else, but it turns out he's traveling with someone. Could have gotten a bit sticky if he'd been alone, no?
  • The traps in some of the Home Alone movies require knowing what the thieves will do precisely, far beyond "try to steal X object." This is particularly bad since the maker of the traps is a child. Of course, if it was more realistic, the villains would only have to get caught in one or two of the many traps to be either killed or crippled horribly.
    • Although, looking at Kevin's floorplan, it's clear that he put booby traps throughout the house, so that wherever the burglars struck, they would find a trap.
  • The last car chase of The Skulls sees the heroes Luke and Will being chased at high speed along a train track before it finally comes to a stop with them crashing full speed into a dirt berm at the end of the tracks and the bad guy about the shoot Luke. But a split second before he pulls the trigger, he is shot (at long range) by the cop who then tells them that it was his plan all along to have this happen, thus showing that even the good guys can have convoluted plans. At any time during the car chase, Luke and Will could have crashed and been killed. Or the cop could have missed his long range shot with a pistol, allowing the bad guy to shoot Luke. But I guess that was part of the plan as well.
  • Angels & Demons has a villain fake the involvement of an old secret society called the Illuminati to take the blame for his actions of trying to destroy the Vatican. Except, the clues he was using were obscure and there was no certainty anyone would have otherwise found the clues and discovered the murdered cardinals had Tom Hank's character not been there. Even with his involvement, they barely discover some of them. In addition, there's no public discussion of the Illuminati, and The Plan is for the entire city to be vaporized in a short time frame. So, there was a very high chance that the entire city would have been destroyed with none of the outside world being the wiser, which might have also complicated the villain's plans. As it was, with Tom Hank's help they discover the "bomb" mere minutes before it's supposed to go of, and then the villain decides to change his mind and take the device safely out of harm's way at the last second. Just think how the movie would have unfolded if Tom Hanks had not been invited to help or if he had been a slight bit slower at solving the clues. In fact, a random event of electricity being shut off almost kills him.
  • Silva's escape/assassination plan in Skyfall hinges on, among other things, his being captured and held at MI-6 on the day of M's hearing, Q springing his computer trap at exactly the right time, perfect choreography and timing between numerous teams of henchmen in the London Underground during rush hour, and Bond chasing him into one particular room at exactly the time that a train is passing overhead (and not deciding to Just Shoot Him).
  • Star Trek Into Darkness: Admiral Pike accuses Kirk of making reckless command decisions and relying on blind luck to ensure his missions go according to plan without harming his crew.
  • Zardoz: Arthur Frayn's plan as Summed up by Oancitizen:
    "So his plan was... herd a bunch of working class Brits into, breeding someone genetically able to think on the Eternals level; lead him to a library. Hope, that he taught himself how to read properly. Hope, that he came across the one specific book that inspired the whole Zardoz shtick. Hope, that he would stow-away on the Zardoz head and shoot him. Then hope, that the head would crash back inside the vortex. Hope, that the other Eternals didn't kill him immediately, and teach them all that they know; in the hopes that he would figure out how to destroy the tabernacle and therefore all the Eternals. In other words, the exact kind of plan you expect for a man who draws on his goatee."
  • In Now You See Me, the Horsemen's scheme is planned down to the last detail all so that Dylan can get revenge on the people he holds responsible for his father's death.
    • One specific example is the "quarterback" hypnosis in the Horsemen's second show, which involved predicting the exact word to come out of Dylan's mouth (though "freeze" is a reasonable thing to expect a cop to shout at a fleeing suspect). Further justified and subverted when you realize Dylan was the one who planned the stunt in the first place.
    • Perhaps the most blatant example of this in action is the chase seen in the middle of the move. When one of the Horsemen have to escape the police by themselves they have to count on Dylan's partner not turning and seeing the Horseman hiding over the shelves, that only two guards would be left at the entrance of the apartment who could be easily dispatched with, that he wouldn't crash his car before getting to the bridge, that their wouldn't be a police blockade at the end of the bridge that would see the car attached to the front of the truck or check drivers out, that a helicopter, police car, or even civilian going in the opposite direction or looking in their car mirrors wouldn't see them make the switch with the cars, and that another cop wouldn't rush into the crashed car and see the body wasn't the Horseman's. And on top of all that there had to be virtually no traffic on the bridge at that exact time, something they couldn't have predicted. In fact throughout the whole movie they rely on the police being a) incompetent and b) not having access to helicopters.
    • Near the end they count on the police being so incompetent that Morgan Freeman's character is successfully framed for a crime he obviously didn't commit (who packs stolen money in their car like that? On top of that the Horsemen are known for being "tricky" and Freeman was known for getting on their bad side so obviously he was being framed). Even with Dylan's help, it's really not justified.
  • Gunslinger: Erica Paige buys up all the cheap land around town believing that she'll make a fortune when a railroad is built through town. It all goes to hell when the railroad is built along a different route.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (2009), Lord Blackwood's plan to kill Ambassador Standish would have failed if it hadn't been raining that day (since it required that Standish be doused in oil without realizing it), or if Standish had chosen not to kill Blackwood that day, or not to do so with the booby-trapped gun.
  • North by Northwest has Roger being abducted and nearly killed by someone pretending to be Townsend, whom Roger later learns is a UN diplomat. After narrowly surviving the attempt on his life, Roger visits the UN General Assembly building to confront Townsend. Townsend turns out to be someone he has never seen before, and shortly after Roger arrives, is killed by one of the men who tried to kill Roger. Roger was manipulated into meeting Townsend so that Townsend's enemies could kill him in a way that would look like Roger was responsible. But how did they know Roger would seek Townsend out? And if they needed Roger as a patsy, why try to kill him? And how did they know the attempt to kill Roger would fail?
  • Used and then lampshaded in Sahara (2005). The main characters find a 19th century ship in the middle of a desert which contains an old cannon and some exploding shells. They rig this up as an anti-aircraft gun and then try to get it to work, time the fuze properly (it's a timed fuze) hoping that the enemy helicopter gunship which is trying to kill them will be in range and they can fire the cannon at the appropriate time, get the cannonball into the enemy helicopter before the shell explodes but not take so long the helicopter can take evasive action, and blow it up. This of course works perfectly, and the characters look at each other and simultaneously say, "There's no way that should have worked."
  • The last con in Matchstick Men relied on some very egregious coincidences. Namely, that Roy would put up with seeing a psychiatrist, and that he wouldn't just find some other way to get his pills; that Roy would still trust Dr. Klein after finding out that he lied about the pills; that Roy would trust Angela enough to give her access to his account, even though he had only just met her; and that Roy would never contact his ex-wife and wouldn't find out that she didn't have a daughter.
  • Cry_Wolf. There was no way to ensure that Mr.Walker would not find the gun in his drawer, that he would see or hear neither Dodger's fake murder (especially given her screams) nor Owen entering the room, that Owen would be prepared or even manage to kill him (it's possible though that Dodger was really trying to frame Mr. Walker for the townie girl's murder, not necessarily to kill him).
  • In The Gingerdead Man, Millard Findlemeyer commits murder and is executed. His mother, a witch, decides to bring him back to life in the form of a gingerbread man. Her plan requires the bakers to use a box of seasoning that was mysteriously left at the back door, injure themselves, bleed into the dough, use the blood-soaked dough instead of throwing it away, and accidentally cause a power surge while the dough is in the oven.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In The Avengers, Loki's plan to get himself captured to set up a plot to destroy the helicarrier via antagonizing the Hulk would stray into this territory even if Loki had previously clashed with the Avengers and knew their general members and quirks. However, since he has previously never met any of the members prior to being captured his plan seems absolutely insane. That would require a thralled Hawkeye giving Loki very specific information about people who aren't even associated with S.H.I.E.L.D. at the start of the movie, information which he may or may not know, all of this happening off-screennote , and Loki taking the time to set up a gambit to stop people he considers inferior anyway. Had the Hulk not been there, had they not been in the helicarrier, etc., his whole plan would have resulted in him being captured for nothing.
    • Helmut Zemo's master plan in Captain America: Civil War verges on a thin line between Xanatos Speed Chess and this.
      • His goal is very simple: obtain proof the Winter Soldier killed Tony Stark's parents by any means possible, show Tony, cause internal strife and watch the Avengers fall apart as Steve and Tony fight. This simplicity allows him to both compensate when the plan doesn't turn out perfectly (like when the HYDRA agent refuses to give him information prompting him to go alternate route via Bucky) and take advantage of existing circumstances (he had nothing to do with the Sokovia Accords and just used it for distraction).
      • Despite this, actual implementation of the plan comes dangerously close to Gambit Roulette. Fortunately for Zemo, Sokovia Accords, an event that divided Avengers in two camps and greatly boosted tensions between Tony and Steve just had to happen at the time when he was going to cause that tension himself. Also, it happened right at the moment when Tony's mental stability had been deteriorated by a combination of guilt over his actions in Avengers: Age of Ultron, breakup with Pepper, tensions with Secretary Ross, and the near-fatal injury and paralysis of his best friend Jim Rhodes. If either of these factors were not present, consequences of revealing the information to Tony would be far less severe and if neither happened, Tony and Steve could just talk it through. Instead, pretty much all unrelated events in the movie make Zemo's task far easier to accomplish. Additionally, Zemo's plans would've most likely failed had Captain America not escaped with Bucky, or had he not been apprehended by Iron Man's forces during the airport fight. Furthermore, numerous factors led to Iron Man, Captain America and Winter Soldier being the only heroes present in Siberia to confront Zemo. The success of Zemo's plan would've most certainly been compromised if more heroes other than those three had made it to the final act.
  • In The Christmas Chronicles, two kids have to help Santa Claus in Saving Christmas after they cause him to crash his sled and lose most of his things and powers. In the ending, it's revealed he never lost his powers that could have solved all his problems from the start. Apparently, he pretended in order to give the kids an adventure that would bring them closer and help one of them believe in himself. To do that, he must have either left important things insanely to chance, or planned a lot of the specific details in advance. Since he's shown to be The Omniscient in a lot of ways, there's no telling he didn't plan basically everything down to the kids sneaking into his sled in the first place.

  • A lot of early detective fiction relies on Gambit Roulettes to the point where Raymond Chandler discusses it as a failing of the genre in his essay "The Simple Art of Murder".
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie involves a person who not only wants to kill 10 people who got away with a crime, but to do it in a certain order (from least horrible crimes to most horrible), and to make the deaths fit a nursery rhyme that he/she happened to like. So many things had to go right: if a certain victim had not died last or had shot rather than hung himself/herself under psychological stress, or if someone had seen the killer after his/her "death," or if the doctor had been less gullible, or if a sea storm had not sprung up, preventing any rescuer from reaching Indian Island, or if the killer's body had not rotted enough for the time of death to be uncertain, etc., that it was almost impossible for everything to work out perfectly in the end. Yet it did. With the occasional Plot Hole added into it, such as the gun having only the fingerprints of the last person to touch it, despite its owner also having handled it.
    • The Film of the Book does away with the silliness with the result that the killer's plan ultimately fails, and the last two intended victims survive.
    • There is another The Film of the Book (USSR, 1988) which repeats the book with one exception: in the end the killer, instead of wiping away all clues, just shoots himself/herself.
    • After the Funeral is much in the same vein. Miss Gilchrist's entire plot hinged on every single member of the family not recognizing their own aunt at Richard Abernethie's funeral and believing that Richard had indeed been murdered. Even when one takes into account that none of the family members had seen their aunt in a long time, it still doesn't explain why they didn't notice that Miss Gilchrist - with whom they spent several days in the same house - looked almost exactly like the 'Aunt Cora' they had recently seen at the funeral. It also stands to reason that after the real Cora's death, a family member would have to identify the body, thus exposing the deception. Miss Gilchrist's plan to poison herself so as to appear innocent could also have colossally backfired.
    • The plot in Evil Under the Sun is another example. The murderer/s not only rely on synchronizing their movements according to a very precise schedule, but also arrange for the body to be "discovered" before the actual murder takes place, while the unsuspecting intended victim is hiding nearby. There are a number of ways that could have gone wrong...
  • Animorphs:
    • Jake's plan to infiltrate and capture the Yeerk pool ship is a complex Batman Gambit that includes the manipulation of no less than eight separate factions, brilliantly executed by a sixteen-year-old kid of average intelligence.
    • Cassie's surrender of the blue box. She lets Tom steal it from Jake, counting on the gut feeling that giving Yeerks morphing power will cause mass defection in their ranks, as a Yeerks trapped in morph will have no need to feed from the Yeerk pool and thus no longer depend on the Empire. However, she doesn't reveal this to have been her intention until after the defections start happening, making it seem like impossibly good foresight (or worse, Cassie hedging her bets, since if it didn't pan out she could always fall back on the excuse she used before of trying to keep Jake from killing Tom. Not to mention her plan created a ton of risks and threats that the Animorphs didn't have to worry about before, such as an entire army of morph-capable warriors as opposed to just one. While the roulette ultimately comes up in her favor, it exacts a heavy cost in life, culminating with Rachel's death.
    • Played with in the characters of the Ellimist and Crayak, who are Sufficiently Advanced Aliens playing a Cosmic Chess Game with each other. Some of the results of their actions can certainly come across as this, such as in The Stranger where the Ellimist counts on Rachel being quick enough on the uptake to recognize the significance of a specific elevator shaft he places her and the rest of the team in and then follow that thread to the location of the Kandrona, but considering he personally masterminded the creation of the Animorphs, his moves aren't nearly as Roulette-y as they might look at first glance. And as aliens so advanced they might as well be gods to us Puny Earthlings, they're both exempt from this trope anyway.
  • Successfully executed by The Chessmaster of The Assassins of Tamurin, but without pushing Willing Suspension of Disbelief, due to the years of effort she puts into it and the fact that she's crazy.
  • Subverted in the Belisarius Series where Belisarius's answer to a Gambit Roulette is to keep adding pieces and confusion to the board until Link doesn't know whether it's coming or going. Also subverted (although not entirely successfully) in that Belisarius claims not to calculate in depth but instead to cause confusion and take advantage of the opportunities that arise from this.
  • In Fred Saberhagan's Book of Swords, and companion series Book of Lost Swords, the character of The Emperor is shown to be very nearly omniscient in his plans, including fathering several children to various otherwise unimportant women around the known world, some 10 years before the events of the first book. Justified since the Emperor is G-d.
  • In The Brothers Karamazov, many of the elements of Smerdyakov's plan to kill Fyodor Karamazov were obviously beyond his control. The book offers a good example of a Chessmaster attempting to manipulate events and people he realistically doesn't understand fully. The kicker though? He still pulls it off with a bit of improvisation.
  • In Niven and Barnes's The California Voodoo Game, Dream Park's security team catches on that one of the Game's tournament participants isn't playing fair, and theorize that he's attempting a Batman Gambit to throw the win to Army. However, the suspect can't realistically expect to do this, given the sheer number of variables involved, which would make it this trope instead. As it turns out, the suspect is plotting another crime entirely, and only set things up to look like an attempt to fix the Game in order to deceive an accomplice.
  • Subverted in Arturo Perez-Reverte's novel The Club Dumas (which was made into The Ninth Gate). Corso spends most of the novel dodging two antagonists attempting to steal a rare manuscript and inconveniently discovering corpses along the way. Corso reasonably suspects a massive and powerful conspiracy is dogging his every move. Corso is just being paranoid, as the narrating character explicitly tells him, and there is no relation between the murders and the two manuscripts. The Film assumed that Viewers Are Morons, and so let the plot progress as expected.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo has the Count executing a plan for revenge that's unspeakably convoluted and relies on manipulating people in ridiculously subtle and complex ways—for example, he somehow manipulates Madame de Villefort into poisoning half her family by casually conversing with her about chemistry.
  • A very common occurrence in Iain M. Banks's Culture novels. The Mind AIs are frequently do this, especially when it comes to the activities of the Culture's two interventionary groups, Contact and Special Circumstances. May potentially be a subversion because Minds can think in Hyperspace and are so ridiculously intelligent and powerful that they can pull off such a plan easily.
  • In Daemon, by Daniel Suarez, Matthew Sobol, through his Daemon AI, manages to accurately predict and control events throughout the book, even after Sobol's death. While there are humans in the Daemon apparatus, they are not depicted as being in controlling positions. Either Sobol was a master at the Gambit Roulette, or his AI was a master at Speed Chess.
    • By the time the sequel rolls around, the AI proves to have the ability to predict The Future well enough to know exactly where plot critical events will occur. Even with this level of prescience, The Cavalry has to roll in several times to avoid the entire gambit falling apart.
  • The Demon King in Kylie Chan's Dark Heavens trilogy has one of these running from well before the beginning of the series, encompassing most of the characters in the series. The full extent of his game is revealed around the eighth book, by which point parts of it have started to go off the rails. By contrast, the Jade Emperor does this all the time for even the littlest things, just so that he can be both apparently Lawful Stupid and still an effective leader. The latter doesn't appear to be involved in defeating the former.
  • The Shadow Lord in the Deltora books made it clear: "I have many plans. Plans within plans..." And indeed, by the beginning of the series, he had them set in place so that he was prepared for any conceivable contingency. Except dragons.
  • Most of Bärlach's actions in Der Richter und sein Henker are based on this, with it being one of the main themes of the book.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • The book Small Favor features a subversion. Harry considers the enemy's plot to be so complex it simply should not be possible, until Murphy points out that Harry really IS that predictable, and that the villains stood to gain by doing what they are doing, whether or not Harry acted as planned.
    • Martin's actions in Changes play it straight. He engineered an incredibly complex plot, betrayed his entire organization and his closest allies, and became a triple agent in the hope of a grand masterstroke that would destroy his enemies. It ended up working, but if Harry hadn't been able to take on the entire Red Court, or if the Red King had stopped grandstanding for just ten seconds, it would have failed completely.
  • The Dune series by Frank Herbert contains some of the most elaborately justified Gambit Roulettes ever committed to paper, due primarily to the fact that the protagonists and many of the antagonists are genuinely prescient.
    • Easily demonstrated in Dune with the original plot to destroy the Atreides, which they themselves are aware of and attempt to counter, while that doesn't immediately work and Duke Leto is killed, the basic Atreides plan is basically what Paul then uses later to not only claim his birth-rite as Duke but also take the throne. The fact that Paul even survives is due to the plan of The Mole Dr. Yueh, who anticipated that the Baron would not keep his word and wanted revenge. Not to mention Baron Harkonnen's own plans for the throne.
    • Leto Atreides II in Children of Dune becomes Emperor on the strength of a plot that pits him against his father, aunt, and grandmother, all of whom are or were operating their own Plans. The prize is absolute domination of humanity's future. The plot involves Leto faking his death, which was anticipated by both Jessica and Alia. Jessica sets up a test to see if Leto is possessed, which Alia knows about and infiltrates with her own instructions to have Leto killed no matter what. The method of their testing: overdosing him with spice, awakens Leto's prescient memories and forces him to choose his vision of the Golden Path without which humanity is doomed. Leto then confronts his father, Paul, who had earlier faked his own death in order to escape the curse of prescience, and wrests control of the vision from him, then proceeds to take the throne, killing Alia and utterly humiliating every other participant in the Gambit Pileup.
    • Leto II then continues the trend in the next book, which picks up at the end of his 3,500 year reign as God Emperor and details an incredibly complicated plan whose final goals are to produce a breed of human who is immune to prescience and to wean humanity off of its dependence on oracles. Furthermore, the product of this breeding program is intended to kill him in such a manner as to guarantee the continuation of the sandworms and the spice. Further furthermore, he manipulates human culture and society for 3,500 years to push humans to invent synthetic spice and no-ships (ships which shield the occupants from all prescience), to scatter to other parts of the galaxy upon his death, ensuring the survival of the species and ending their total dependence on the planet Arrakis (spice was previously only available from Arrakian sandworms, and necessary for all space travel). He succeeds on all counts.
    • The gambits of Miles Teg and the Bene Gesserit in Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune take on a similar flavor, resulting in yet another Gambit Pileup.
  • Avrell Torrent, the Big Bad of Orson Scott Card's Empire, has been setting up a massive Gambit Roulette that would make Palpatine envious for decades.
  • From Encyclopedia Brown, we have a robber planning to strike as the victim does his grocery shopping, but calculates he won't have enough time. No problem, just ask him to pick up four tubes of toothpaste, extending his grocery list from 7 to 11 items and thus forcing him to take a non-express lane. So the plan is: Our victim won't question why the man wants four tubes of toothpaste and will proceed to buy them all. Our victim will be honorable and take a non-express lane for being one item over (since that fourth tube of toothpaste was so important). This will slow our victim down significantly enough to finish robbing his house. (This one, at least, was given a Hand Wave— apparently the supermarket in question is notorious for all of its non-express lanes being glacially slow... all the more reason why our victim might choose to take the express lane despite that 11th item.)
  • Deconstructed in Evil Genius, a young adult novel by Catherine Jinks. Although the hero, Cadel, is very good at manipulating people, when he attempts a Gambit Roulette, it gets out of his control very quickly, leading to the death of several characters.
  • In Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, Hari Seldon plans 1000 years of history culminating in a new galactic empire and sets it in motion by creating an encyclopedia. He does this by using a fictional science called psychohistory which is calculating the probability of a specific development of the happenings based on how large masses of people reacts. The psychohistory is not exact and can fail to give an accurate prediction (ultimately it does, but Seldon created a second foundation in the case of anything not going along the plan) which only adds more to the Roulette part of the trope.
    • This 7 book series is part of a much bigger plan by the psychic robot that lives in the Moon.
      • There are something like 3 different factions of psychic telepathic people (or robots) capable of predicting the future and manipulating it by subtly twisting people's minds and by carefully manipulating certain key individuals into situations where they'll behave in predictable ways, and all of them believe that they are the ones who are secretly controlling everything. The Second Foundation that's using the First Foundation as puppets to create their ideal future, the Gaia-like hivemind that is using the Second Foundation itself as their puppets to create its ideal future, and the robots themselves.
  • At the end of Good Omens, the characters begin to suspect (though they certainly can't confirm it) that the whole plot was a Gambit Roulette by God. Could be a justified example for once...
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore had orchestrated or manipulated almost every major event that had taken place in Harry's life since about the halfway point of The Half-Blood Prince, with the ultimate purpose of Voldemort's destruction.
    • Also in Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore's method of getting Harry to find the Hallows relies on random encounters - for example, Hermione only recognised the symbol in her book because she happened to meet Luna's dad at Fleur and Bill's wedding. The same goes for Harry finding out he is a Horcrux; if he hadn't been there when Snape died he would never have made his Heroic Sacrifice and Voldemort would've stayed immortal. To be fair, Snape was supposed to tell Harry - that's why he asks that Voldemort send him into Hogwarts during the Battle - but didn't do so in time. That is why he is scared when Voldemort tells him that he is going to kill him - he thinks he has failed. No excuse for the symbol, though Dumbeldore handwaves it by mentioning that Hermione wouldn't rest until she knew what it meant, so he assumed she would work it out somehow, just not necessarily from Xeno Lovegood.
      • The Deathly Hallows were a side plan, not absolutely necessary for success. Success relied on two things: Harry destroying the horcruxes before Voldemort finds out they are under attack, and Harry discovering that he needs to sacrifice himself. People make a big thing about how if Snape had died a little sooner the whole plan would have failed, but this isn't true. Dumbledore's portrait knew and could also tell Harry. It could also have told Snape, or anybody at Hogwarts, about the horcruxes if necessary, as he could travel to any painting in the castle and any painting of himself anywhere.
      • Even if Xeno hadn't been wearing the symbol, they would have found it on Peverell's grave in Godric's Hollow, which everyone and their goldfish knew Harry would go back to. And remember that Dumbledore didn't want Harry to find the Hallows; he feared that Harry would fall into the same temptation that he had, so he gave Hermione the book that warns about their dangers in the hope that she would "slow Harry up" if he did decide to chase them down.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    • Exploited with the Infinite Improbability drive, a faster-than-light travel drive that relies on the fact that, from a quantum physics standpoint, it isn't entirely impossible for an electron to suddenly be several light years away- just unfathomably unlikely. By the same logic, it's not impossible for an entire atom to do the same thing. The Infinite Improbability Drive works by manipulating probability so that nigh-impossible things happen, specifically causing every atom in the entire ship to appear on the other side of the galaxy, exactly where you want to be.
    • Justified with the Guide Mark II in Mostly Harmless which is constantly shuttling through time and parallel universes to ensure everything happens the way it wants. At one point Ford, realising the thing wants to keep him alive for some reason, throws himself out a 13th storey window just to see what happens. What happens is that a passing Flying Car opens its sunroof because the driver is trying to change the music and hits the wrong button, and he lands neatly inside.
  • Jared from The Host initially believes everything Wanderer does is proof that she's secretly a Seeker trying to infiltrate the group. This starts to annoy the others since he keeps it up way too long and even Jared starts to realize how ridiculous he's being.
  • In Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels, basically everything the main character does in action sequences is one of these, often relying on flimsy guesswork to construct a plausible scenario, which just so happens to be exactly right. The most vivid example so far being when he - given a vague description of a character's height, weight and handedness, manages to hit him in the arm with a sniper rifle from a huge distance while the target was INSIDE A (wooden) BUILDING (he was aiming for the arm to disarm his weapon). Reacher had no reason to know where in the building the guy was standing, he just 'assumed' he would be standing behind the door waiting for Reacher to enter. The entire series is based on such coincidences and vague assumptions.
  • In the Legacy of the Drow Series by R.A. Salvatore, Jarlaxle at first appears to be a Manipulative Bastard. In the later books, Jarlaxle muses that most of his plans are in fact Gambit Roulettes. Whenever he stirs up chaos, he always seems to come out on top. It's also hinted in later books he is the chosen of a god of chaos.
  • Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe: aware of the Department of the Interior's machinations, Liaden's Scouts hatch a cunning plan: they will destroy the DoI from within by feeding Val Con yos'Phelium to it without giving him any forewarning or preparation, counting on his line's Weirdness Magnet nature to throw a monkeywrench into its schemes. Given the way There Are No Coincidences in the Liaden Universe, this effectively turns a Roulette Gambit into a Batman Gambit.
    Clonak stared at him as if he’d taken leave of his wits. “Well, of course we gave you to them, Shadow! Who else did we have more likely to trump them than a first-in, pure-blood yos’Phelium scout commander? Concentrated random action. Would we waste such a weapon? Would you? I didn’t think so.[...]"
  • Subverted in The Man Who Was Thursday, when Syme carefully plans a conversation with a stranger line for line, before his colleagues point out that he can't predict exactly what the stranger will say.
  • A heroic version of the Gambit Roulette is found in Master of the Five Magics, by Lyndon Hardy. The fate of the world depends on a thaumaturge solving the puzzle of a castle in order to find an alchemical solution which will lead to a magical sphere which, when completed, will lead to the study of sorcery. After that, he has to come close enough to the chamber of a wizard in suspended animation to recognize the location, then awaken the wizard. Among the things that make this truly roulette: alchemy is a magical gamble, where one thousand starts can end in two successful potions, or none; getting the magical sphere correct depends on recognizing a faint difference, correcting the ritual for it, and finishing the crafting before the sphere explodes; the only reason Alodar is anywhere the tomb is because the ship he's on sinks nearby; and the plan finishes with what amounts to, "Hopefully, this person can save the world."
  • Tad Williams's fantasy trilogy Memory, Sorrow and Thorn uses this to good effect. The nebbish protagonist gets embroiled in a standard fantasy plot, complete with magical swords and ancient prophecies about what to do with them. However, the Big Bad, who's been around since forever, made the prophecies to trick the heroes into bringing the swords right to him. He doesn't do a single thing throughout the book until the end.
  • Mistborn The Original Trilogy:
    • The entire series is the culmination of a millennia-long Thanatos Gambit by the Shard Preservation, requiring the exact right things to happen at the exact right times in order to 1: Create a human who could take up Preservation's power and use it to kill the Shard Ruin (something Preservation himself could never do due to his overpowering instinct to preserve), and 2: Create a human perfectly balanced between both Preservation and Ruin, so he could take up both Shards once the holders were dead and become God of a reborn world. Of course, due to the nature of Preservation's power, he is very very good at predicting the future, but predicting the future thousands of years after you died is still a pretty big roulette. It did help that Ruin was very very bad at predicting the future.
    • Ruin himself had another, much smaller Gambit Roulette. Most of his plans were just "cause as much chaos as possible," so the details weren't really important, his plan to be released from the Well of Ascension was definitely this. He needed to get a spike in a very specific person so he could influence them, get the Lord Ruler killed a year before power returned to the Well, and then get that spiked person to the Well at a very specific hour without anyone interfering. Considering that this plan took place over a thousand years, this is roughly the equivalent of hitting the bullseye on a dartboard on a moving truck in the middle of a storm.
  • Revealed to be the entire point of the first two books in Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch series (Nightwatch and Daywatch respectively).
    • In the first, everything is set up by Gesar in order to rewrite Olga's fate in order to reinstate her connection to the Twilight and give her back her magical powers so that he and she can be equal. Some of this may be justified in that they are magicians of great power who have been alive for thousands of years and have the ability to peer into the possibilities of the future, but there are still moments when the reader (and the characters) is left wondering what is a planned Roulette and what is just taking advantage of the situations as they arise (Gambit Speed Chess).
  • Apparently, everything Saint Dane of The Pendragon Adventure does is part of his grand plan for Halla. A lot of which is manipulating Bobby (and Mark and Courtney) to do exactly what he wants them to do without realizing it. And then stepping in to show Bobby how horribly he's been defeated just after he thought he won.
  • Kronos in Percy Jackson and the Olympians earned his nickname, the Crooked One, for excelling at this. Whenever his plans are thwarted, he or one of his minions says something along the lines of "we planned it that way". While he's still rotting away in Tartarus, he assembles an army, brings a dead girl back to life, kidnaps a goddess, and plans an invasion. After finding a way to possess Luke's body, he becomes almost unstoppable and is barely defeated in the end. Apparently the one thing he didn't plan for was Luke regaining control of his body just in time, resulting in Redemption Equals Death for Luke And I Must Scream for Kronos. In fairness, however, a lot of what he does are either Batman Gambits or Xanatos Gambits: He plays on the good guys' Chronic Hero Syndrome, and some of his plans, like the quest for the Golden Fleece, would have worked out for him in any case.
  • Fortune Teller Shalice of The Pilo Family Circus demonstrates her understanding of the trope in this statement:
    Man raises his middle finger at a passing car; the driver ponders it, wondering what he'd done to offend the stranger, misses his route home while distracted, and collides with a van, killing the driver who was the real target of the exercise. The simplest of scenarios, but the setups could be so elaborate and huge they shaped the course of history.
    • One of her simplest manipulations involves watering the lawn in front of the Acrobats' tent; when one of them left the tent, he slips on the wet grass, and angrily blames the pranksters in the Clown Division. He then steals a crate of fireworks to take revenge on the clowns, only to leave it by the Circus Funhouse, where one of the local dwarfs uses it as a target in a cigar-flicking game: the resulting explosion takes out half the funhouse, and forces the management to start relying on Shalice for help again. Or at least, it should have.
  • In The Possessed, Petr Stepanovic's labyrinthine plan, involving dozens of different characters, is mostly successful - he manages to manipulate people left and right, even if he is shown to completely misunderstand the motivations of some of them, like Stavrogin and Kirillov. Another interesting subversion of the trope is that the more complex parts of the plan (like persuading several persons to kill another man with a flimsy reason) go off like clockwork, and the apparently simpler details (like persuading a suicidal nut to... kill himself) almost fall apart on several occasions.
  • Gen from The Queen's Thief series manages this all the time. Awesomeness ensues.
  • In Michael Crichton's novel Rising Sun, the Japanese nation is portrayed as Gambit Roulettists in garish contrast to stupid Americans who don't seem to know their noses are actually on their faces, much less than they're being led around by them. The implication is that the murder of the girl in the novel was set up right from the beginning simply to embarrass another Japanese family, right down to knowing which officer was on duty that night, that John Conner would become involved as a result, and that events would go very much as planned.
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan — in the last book Darren and Steve find out that they are sons of Desmond Tiny (Destiny) and that their entire life, the wars they fought in, the losses they suffered... it was all planned by Mr. Tiny. It was all a game for Tiny that in the end would in the end come down to only Steve Vs. Darren- which would then proceed to get rid of the weaker of the two.
  • In Second Apocalypse, Dunyain are masters of this. They can calculate probabilities and conceive of great, sweeping plans to achieve their objectives, then make adjustments as events develop. The first trilogy is one giant gambit roulette by Moenghus. Kellhus is frequently described as navigating threads of probability, with opportunities closing with every minute action he takes.
  • This seems to be what Varys and Illyrio Mopatis are up to in A Song of Ice and Fire. Lampshaded when one character points out in Dance that they have been changing the plan repeatedly.
    • Several of Petyr's plots, most notably the plot to have Joffrey killed via poison conveniently taken from Sansa's hairnet.
    • To be fair though, Varys is built up as an elite Chessmaster from basically Book One Page One, and Petyr is revealed pretty early on to be his equal. None of the things they orchestrate rely on too much luck (other than the bits involving Daenerys doing, or rather NOT doing, certain things), when you learn how it was done.
    • Cersei's plot where she successfully killed her husband Robert could be considered this. Her plan was to have his squire indulge him with too much alcohol (that was extra-strength) so that he would be too inebriated to successfully hunt a boar and would run into a "hunting mishap" that would appear to be an accident. However, there were so many ways this could have not gone as planned: not finding a boar, King Robert passing out first, other members of the hunting party intervening, etc. This would be fine if it was just one of Cersei's schemes to increase the chances of King Robert getting himself killed innocently (like her ploy to have him enter the Melee), but subsequent conversations reveal that she fully anticipated that he would die to a boar during this outing, even refusing to flee King's Landing and Ned Stark's accusations as she "knows" that Robert won't be coming back to do anything about them. So, she was essentially risking her head by staying at court on the chance that a drunk Robert would get himself killed while hunting. To top it all off, Robert was initially hunting a white hart: the hunt for the boar was done as a spur of the moment consolation prize for losing track of the hart.
  • One fan interpretation of the Star Wars Expanded Universe is based on the idea that The Empire was instituted because Palpatine knew the Yuuzhan Vong were going to invade.
    • In Outbound Flight, an agent of Sidious states that his plans to take control are to prepare for the Yuuzhan Vong invasion (though they're only known as distant invaders at that point). The book cleverly leaves it unmentioned whether Sidious really knew they were coming, and whether this was truly part of his justification for a power grab. Several characters comment that the threat of unknown invaders is a convenient excuse. Then again, he is a Magnificent Bastard with insight bordering on omniscience.
      • Thrawn's actions in the Hand of Thrawn Duology were retroactively made part of this conspiracy when the New Jedi Order era rolled around. Carefully cloning entire families worth of an extremely talented pilot with a bit of Thrawn's own brilliant mind, then ingraining in them an attachment to the worlds to which they were dispatched, all for the purpose of having a grass roots sleeper cell on numerous worlds, ideally positioned to help drive back the Yuuzhan Vong if the central military organization of the galaxy (regardless of whether it was the Empire, made strong by Thrawn or the New Republic, forced to become strong because of him) were disabled.
    • A similar plot was hatched in Knights Of The Old Republic. More accurately, its sequel, which proposed that Revan's "fall" to the Dark Side and his subsequent conquering of the Republic (carefully leaving intact key positions and structures) was just to prepare for the coming of the "true Sith" lurking outside the galaxy, making Revan a Well-Intentioned Extremist. This was all from the perspective of Revan's teacher, so take it with a grain of salt. Though even if you think Revan was just flat-out evil, this theory has some merit: you can't exactly conquer the galaxy if a bunch of crazy "true Sith" destroy it. This was canonized by the MMO, with the added twist that the Sith Emperor thought Revan was working for him. He later joined up with the Exile from the second game to launch a first strike against the Emperor, which bought the Republic a few centuries. Shadow of Revan reveals that this rapid changing of sides literally broke his soul.
    • X-Wing Series has a subversion: When Corran Horn shows up with information that can exonerate Tycho Celchu the prosecutor tries to argue that he is an Imperial plant. This is however summarily thrown out by the judge, who points out for that to be true, the Imperials would have had to have information they could not have had in the relevant timeframe, and would be a sign of near perfect precognition.
  • Used and lampshaded in the Bad Blood chapter of the Trainspotting novel, where the HIV-positive character Davie pulls this on Alan Venters, the man who gave the HIV to the former's girlfriend by raping her, thus leading to Davie's own contraction of the virus. His plan is to make friends with a dying Venters, so that he is allowed to visit him in hospital, and also with the mother of the rapist's only son so that one day she may trust him enough to let him babysit for her. When this happens Davie drugs the child with a sleep-inducing substance and takes pictures of him, making it look like he violently raped and murdered the boy. Then he shows the pictures to Venters on his deathbed and suffocates him with a pillow, thus filling his last moments in life with immeasurable suffering. This plan depended greatly on random chance (most significantly on Venters staying alive long enough for all the pieces to fall into place), a fact that Davie is well aware of.
  • In the Young Bond book Double or Die, a teacher at Eton is kidnapped and only has enough time to send a letter confirming his resignation and send his last crossword to The Times. In this, he manages to get clues to Bond and his friends about what's really happened to him, where they can go to find more information and that a friend of his is coming to Eton. This teacher probably attended a school where Light was the headmaster and Jigsaw was the art teacher.
  • Discussed by Sherlock Holmes in Silver Blaze. The powdered opium used to drug the stableboy so the titular horse could be stolen has a very distinctive taste. The spicy curry served for dinner disguised that taste perfectly, but had almost anything else been served for dinner, the stableboy would have noticed the taste and almost certainly not eaten enough to knock him out. Holmes realized that, since a hypothetical intruder could not possibly have caused curry to be served on that specific night, or even known that it was going to be served, the horse theif must have been a member of the household.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Japanese drama Uramiya Honpo, almost every plan Uramiya uses to punish her victims is a Gambit Roulette. The most blatant exemple being the second movie special, "Mind Control no Wana". In the last episode of the first season, we were introduced to Kiyomi, a woman who looked exactly like Uramiya and has been institutionalized since her family was murdered before her eyes when she was a child. In "Mind Control no Wana", it is revealed that the murderer is Sunstone, an insane guru who is also her real father (he raped her mother) and intends to marry her on his 55 birthday. After discovering the truth, Kiyomi hired Uramiya to help her avenge her family's death. Uramiya's plan was to disfigure Kiyomi with acid so her face could be rebuilt into an exact replica of Uramiya, so years later, Sunstone will kill Kiyomi, mistaking her for Uramiya. And it worked!
  • In the series Lie to Me, this is Cal Lightman's favorite strategy, calling it the Long Con. This to the point of even tricking his own employees into actions he knew they would do to help.
  • On 24 many terrorist plans are of this nature. For example, one plan in the fourth season involves kidnapping the Secretary of Defense, and threatening to execute him live on the Internet; using the traffic that generates as a mask for them hacking into every nuclear power plant in America; using that as a diversion for hijacking a fighter plane to shoot down Air Force One, then stealing the nuclear "football" from the wreckage; using the data in the football to intercept a nuclear missile being transported through Iowa; and finally, firing the missile at Los Angeles. The villains have no explicable way of knowing that the football would survive the impact, that the plane would crash close enough to their location for them to reach it before emergency crews, or that a nuclear missile would be on the road in the vicinity of their secondary team.
  • Heroes:
    • Subverted. It appears the mysterious organization seems to be manipulating a ridiculous number of variables to come out at a dark future, but we eventually discover that things didn't turn out quite as they planned either. Also, they specifically have: 1) a guy who can see the future; 2) a little girl who can tell them exactly where any human being in the world is at all times; 3) a telepath capable of reading people's minds over long distances and probing their deepest memories. And, initially, 4) an agent capable of total mind control, being able to order anyone she can talk to to do anything and then make them forget about it. All this makes the villains' prescience at least a bit more plausible. Really, the dizzying array of assets the Company has at the outset of the series tends to make their failures less believable than their successes.
    • Played straight on a smaller scale, when Nathan's crusade is about to be shut down by an appalled Homeland Security agent (and acquaintance of the currently imprisoned Tracy), Nate's Psycho for Hire second-in-command manages to rig Tracy's restraints, so she'd break free, try to escape, and show just how dangerous she really is... just in time for the agent (who'd just returned with an armful of Cease And Desist orders) to see her freak out and kill someone (something Tracy hadn't done in a while because she had actual control of her powers now). This whole scenario only works if Tracy panics and kills - something she hadn't done in months. Plus the chance that the agent shuts the place down anyway and insists Tracy be tried for murder, publicly.
  • NUMB3RS: This is a common problem on this show in that it relies on mathematics far more than real investigations ever would. While statistical analysis and some other techniques are used in law enforcement, they are not used in individual cases to the same degree as in the show. For example an episode centers around a dirty bomb threat somewhere in LA, which turns out to be fake; the actual point of the threat was to trigger the evacuation of the immediate area, so the crooks could break into a vault without interference. However, the plan requires that the FBI evacuate the right area, which was not revealed by the "terrorists" and which is only determined at the last minute through extreme deductive skill (and nearly incorrectly anyway). Had the FBI guessed wrong, the plan would have failed.
  • Sneaky Pete: Many of Marius's schemes rely on people acting or reacting in a way that he has predicted. For example, in a flashback, he impresses Vince with a card trick and then leaves. Eddie is annoyed at him for leaving because they could have conned Vince after that power play, but Marius knows what he's doing. Leaving the joint causes Vince to call him back immediately and get hooked into a big con.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Styggron in "The Android Invasion" has a plan for invading the Earth and it's probably the worst one ever. He starts by creating a near-exact duplicate of a little English village and filling it with robot duplicates as a 'training simulation', only he also creates a killer virus that can wipe out everyone on Earth with a single drop. He locates the lost astronaut Crayford and convinces him to turn against Earth by telling him he's put him back together after an explosion, telling him that his left eye was lost and giving him an eyepatch, despite Crayford never have being injured and still having an eye under his patch (uh...). When the Doctor and Sarah arrive (consider that they are Outside Context Heroes whose arrival is completely unpredictable), they run into space-suited guards Styggron has positioned there, who lock the Doctor up in the prison Styggron built in the town he didn't expect anyone to visit. He manages to capture the Doctor, ties him to a memorial with plastic ivy and tries to blow him up, attempts to kill him with an Agony Beam body scanner that allows him to produce a duplicate Doctor, and attempts to poison Sarah with prison water, but also creates an android Sarah to help the Doctor and tell him useful information (specifically, she tells him about the android duplicates, something he hadn't figured out at that point). The Doctor suggests that Styggron is feeding him information to find out how smart he is, but it's never made clear why. Maybe he was trying to lure the Doctor into facing his android double on Earth... but why? It's entirely possible Styggron doesn't even understand his own plot and was more interested in having fun playing model villages with his androids.
    • Inverted — kind of — throughout the Seventh Doctor's tenure. The Seventh Doctor seems to sashay through story after story knowing exactly how to tweak every adversary's nose to ensure their destruction, often by their own hands, and never bothers to explain himself, either to poor Ace or the audience. What complicates matters further is that Fenric, one of the last adversaries he faces, claims to have been pulling a similar Roulette on the Doctor ever since he met Ace... Furthermore, many of the Seventh Doctor's Roulettes tend to come perilously close to crashing down around him as one of his adversaries complicates things by doing something he never expected, resulting in a fair bit of frantic running around trying to get everything back on track. Supposedly the reveal would have been that the Seventh Doctor was playing the Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure game. His future self was setting things up so his past self would succeed... which meant that he couldn't cheat his way out of having to play Gambit Speed Chess, since his future self would remember his past self's difficulties and be unable to prevent them. It's hinted at vaguely in "Survival" and blatantly in "Battlefield", but the series ended before it became explicit.
    • Parodied neatly in the Comic Relief spoof, "The Curse of Fatal Death". The joke here is that the unexpected roulettes become so expected that it is funny when they stop happening. The basic idea is that both the Doctor and the Master are using their own time machine to bribe an architect to set a trap, or UNSET a trap.
    • The plan of the Silence over series 5 and 6 of the new Doctor Who is a really amazingly convoluted one. Much of the plan is coherent. YMMV if this is a gambit rather than a roulette. It ultimately fails spectacularly thanks to a paradox built into the plan causing the very events it tried to prevent.
  • In Angel, Jasmine claims that virtually everything that's happened in the series up to the point of her arrival on Earth was the result of her manipulation. She may have just been trying to be impressive, though.
  • Lost:
    • Benjamin Linus may be one of the all-time greatest chessmasters. The leader of the "Others" is able to manipulate the show's castaways into thinking his group are primitive savages (in truth they are a bunch of modern savages/guardians of the island) AND arranges for his own capture by the castaways, in a net of the crazy Frenchwoman whose child he abducted and raised as his own, while claiming to be a castaway whose balloon crashed on the island, killing his "wife" in the process. In spite of having his lie exposed, he succeeds in getting the father of a child his minions have already kidnapped to free him, resulting in the deaths of two of the dad's fellow castaways in the process, at the hands of the father. He then uses this as leverage to get three of the castaways to surrender themselves to him. In season 3, he steps it up a notch by somehow managing to force Jack to perform an operation on his spinal column. This may be one of the only times where Ben's plans don't work too well, as Jack slits his kidney as a level to force the Others to allow Kate and Sawyer to go free. Ben survives, and seemingly without doing anything at all manages to destroy several chances for survivors to escape the island, thanks to John Locke. He is also revealed to have orchestrated the murder of the village the Others now live in, the hippie commune/big secret science project thingy known as the Dharma Initiative, including his evil father. By season 4, Ben has successfully manipulated Sayid (who tortured Ben) into working for him as his personal assassin and in season five, it's revealed that Ben murdered John Locke in order to make the rest of the castaways who did escape the island, go back to the island.
    • Flocke predicts that Widmore would rig the plane to explode so he could take the explosives and put them in Jack's bag, and that Sawyer would prevent Flocke from getting on the submarine, AND that the people trapped on the submarine would attempt to disarm the bomb (since Flocke himself apparently can't directly kill these particular characters). Plus, they only find the bomb because Kate is shot getting onto the submarine, so he would have been screwed if they managed to do it with no casualties. The plan did not end up panning out perfectly, though.
  • Many of the schemes in Veronica Mars verge into this territory, most notably the plan to kidnap her boyfriend's baby, which had as linchpins one character opening a letter addressed to someone else, her phone being tapped, and the sheriff driving all the way to Mexico without looking in his trunk.
  • The Tales from the Crypt episode "The Pit" relied entirely on this. Not only were two men able to predict exactly how their wives would react in a certain situation, they were also able to reschedule a major international fighting event, change the designated fighters, AND apparently hype this last-minute change to the point that no ratings were lost, all without their wives finding out. Even more bizarrely, they seemed fairly confident that their wives would kill each other in the match (although, assuming one survived, her husband could have filed for divorce).
  • Played with on Fringe:
    • An episode had an FBI agent who was infected with a life-threatening parasite which was cured at the very last second. Turns out he apparently infected himself, and the entire episode was a plan to get his wife to overhear a secret discovered by other FBI agents while they were trying to save him. But if even a single thing in the episode had gone differently - including the fact that an attempt to catch a suspect had been botched - then the plan would not have worked. If the heroes were even five minutes too late, the plotter would have been dead, and if they had gotten the necessary information just a few minutes prior, the wife would not have been in the room.
    • In the episode "Plateau", the villain Milo gained super plan making powers by taking a drug. He orchestrated peoples' deaths by setting a pen on the ground and creating a chain reaction ending in a traffic accident. In the last season it was revealed that the observers are crazy good at these, but that's justified by time travel or by the fact that time isn't even linear for them. They can see all points of time at once.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In "Dark Frontier", the Borg Queen essentially says that she orchestrated 7 of 9 being taken in by Voyager and integrated into the crew, so that she could later coerce her into returning to the Collective. This required the following - Voyager to attempt to ally themselves with the Borg, then ask for a representative, then for the cube to be destroyed, allowing 7 to get onto Voyager and then, despite the Borg stabbing Voyager in the back, 7 surviving and being taken into the Voyager crew. In the Grand Finale this implausible plot is further used to explain why Voyager could always miraculously escape the Borg, as Seven of Nine is the Queen's "favourite."
  • God does this in Joan of Arcadia, but then - God. Omniscient.
  • One of the villains in Wizards of Waverly Place was a shopkeeper who sold the kids a pet dragon. For some reason, Alex can't tell her parents about it. So she pretends it's a lost dog that they found, and they post lost-and-found posters. Suddenly the shopkeeper apparently responds to the posters and takes it back, claiming to have done this several times before. This way, he can sell the dragon several times to different people while getting it back each time. So the guy apparently planned for Alex, and everyone he sells it to ever, to do something stupid like that. Either the guy was just a really devious shopkeeper, or you could just blame this on bad writing.
  • Wonderfalls has the same overarching theme, with God's big Rube Goldberg device.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of the (surprisingly good fun) 2000 series The Invisible Man with a speech given by the hero to the recurring villain, at whose mercy he is. Having asked the villain to Just Shoot Him or at least knock him out and get on with whatever he wants to do, he launches into:
    Darien Fawkes: What is it with all these complex plots, huh? What is it? Is it a Swiss thing, is that what it is? [...] No, no, don't defend it, please. [...] Please, will you just admit it? [...] You're ridiculous. You are! I mean, you join the Q gland design team just so you can steal the design. You... you make me think Kevin's alive so I can lead you to some files that, hey, Buddy? You could have found on your own with a little research. Then you give me the flu so I can what? Wind up in some hospital room and you can take the gland out of me? Douche. Rube Goldberg has got nothing on you, pal.
  • Lampshaded by the National Security Advisor in the Season 4 finale of The West Wing: the terrorists' entire plan to kidnap the daughter of the President of the United States hinged, first, on her taking some of her boyfriend's Ecstasy (which had been laced with GHB) and, second, on her deciding to use the bathroom in the club before leaving. Her point was that the crime, since it relied on those variables, probably wasn't the work of a master criminal or terrorist cell, but probably some opportunistic idiots. That made a lot more sense than the eventual resolution, and since Aaron Sorkin left the show before the cliffhanger was wrapped up, that might have been its intended conclusion.
  • Boyd Langton's plan in Dollhouse. The goal is to have Echo repeatedly imprinted, so that her resistance to imprinting will leave chemical markers in her spinal fluid, which he can then harvest and use to create a vaccine against imprinting. To this end, he installs himself as Echo's handler on a long-term basis, without anyone else in the Dollhouse knowing who he really is. During this time, Echo is sent on several engagements that nearly get her killed, as well as one or two that nearly get him killed, and he really has no reason to be so sure that she will survive. Not only that, but he's simultaneously testing Topher and Adelle to see whether or not they're worthy to be among his 'family' that will survive after the mind-wipe apocalypse.
  • On the Reunion episode that aired immediately after the final episode of Survivor: China, season winner Todd implied that everything that had happened during the show, up to and including who was selected to be on the show, was all somehow part of his master plan.
  • D. Gibbons on FlashForward (2009) is running a massive Gambit Roulette. It becomes particularly obvious when the heroes find a hidden base in Somalia and discover a 17-year-old videocassette of D. Gibbons where he addresses them by name. Then again, he's a literal Chessmaster, and he has a lot of experience with seeing flashforwards of the future.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • In the episode "The Playbook", the Scuba Diver gambit does seem to rely on an uncontrollable event and a second person performing a plan of their own, but neither are really required. However, all four of his closest friends still have to miss his insincerity, Lily has to set Ted up on a date at the expected time, and one of them has to trigger the plan's start while there's an appropriate girl present.
    • In the eighth season, Barney takes this same premise and turns the dial way up for his final play: the proposal. Likewise, some of the steps weren't really necessary, such as the intervention, but for other steps the roulette was even justified. At one point he says that Ted's actions would reveal his true feelings on the matter and allow the play to continue or fall apart accordingly. It's probable that he intentionally set it up so the same was true for Robin as well.
  • Sherlock:
    • An interesting justified version happened in the first episode, where the murder victim used Gambit Roulette to lay out a trail of clues to help the police identify her killer. Yes, it was a roulette, but considering that she had to concoct and execute this plan within the last hour or so of her life while under the watchful eyes of her killer, it makes sense that it wasn't planned out better.
    • A lot of Moriarty's plans depend on this. The second series finale is the best example, with many elements apparently coming down to luck, and absolutely hinging on the police being incredibly stupid.
    • Sherlock manages this in "The Lying Detective", which relies on an old drug addiction coming back and a whole array of Batman Gambits in which everyone had to react as he anticipated within a span of two weeks, all to catch a serial killer with good publicity. If that's not improbable, even Sherlock doesn't know what is.
    • This trope is taken to absurd levels in "The Final Problem" as we learn about the master plan of Eurus.
      • Her plan to destroy Sherlock is critically dependent on help from Moriarty. In order to meet Jim, Eurus needs to convince Mycroft to arrange a meeting for the two evil geniuses. This part of the plan requires Mycroft, who is phenomenally smart and is deeply caring about Sherlock, to act very dumb for no good reason and to allow an unsupervised meeting between two extremely dangerously psychotic and intelligent criminals, who are not hiding their intentions to harm his brother. If Mycroft refused, she would've lost her only chance to do anything outside her prison cell for the rest of her life. This highly improbable scenario works in the actual episode because plot needs to move.
      • Ironically, one of the largest gambles and risks for her plan was highly unpredictable and unreliable Moriarty himself. In "The Reichenbach Fall" Moriarty went full force against Sherlock and was willing to see his nemesis die, which, for obvious reasons, could cancel out plan of Eurus entirely. She also needed Moriarty to die himself and get out of the picture with absolutely no guarantees that any of these events would happen as predicted. In fact, Moriarty seemed content with continuing his games with "ordinary" people. Her whole plan hinged on highly specific outcomes, typical of any Gambit Roulette plans, while for Moriarty postmortem game was just an entertaining alternative option in his grandiose Xanatos Gambit.
      • Eurus had to be able to somehow discretely and completely brainwash all the prison staff without Mycroft or any other top government agent noticing; hope that Sherlock survives dismantling Moriarty’s network; hope that he survives a terror attack plot; hope that his confrontation with extremely dangerous Magnussen would not end with Sherlock being destroyed; hack the telecommunication system of Great Britain to distribute Moriarty’s message at the perfectly calculated time without anyone noticing; leave prison; reconstruct Musgrave estate without Mycroft noticing; seduce John “the Family Man” Watson and hope again that Sherlock would not see through her disguise as Culverton Smith’s daughter. In each instance chance of failure was as high as it gets with her plan critically requiring British authorities, as well as her supergenius brothers, to be extremely incompetent for no reason whatsoever.
      • In "The Final Problem" itself her plan required Sherlock, John and Mycroft to survive a grenade explosion at close range and infiltrate the highest security island prison with a very high chance of someone being killed or arrested in the process. In the prison, her whole plan hinges entirely on Sherlock, master of Sherlock Scan, not noticing the lack of glass. Later trials absolutely required her brothers to suddenly get dumbed down and play by her rules without any improvisations or creative solutions or even recognizing Eurus as little girl impersonator. Of course her initial plan does fall apart the moment Sherlock just ignores her rules.
  • Happens in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Most Toys". Collector Kivas Fajo wants to add Lt. Data to his collection. To succesfully kidnap Data and fake his accidental death, he poisons the water supply of a Federation colony with Tricyanate, making it look like a natural disaster. Because the only antidote, Hitridium, is extremely unstable, he's the only merchant in the region selling the Green Rocks needed to solve this catastrophe. Said green rocks cannot be beamed, thus they must be be shuttled over because they are highly volatile, resulting in a good cover-up for any accidental explosion of the shuttle. His plan, however, hinged on the fact that Picard would send Data on the simple job of ferrying things back and forth, and this is nothing the collector has any control over. Furthermore, Data is not even the crew's best pilot (that honor goes to Riker), and being a high ranking member of the crew, he could very well not have been available to do this ferrying job. Furthermore, the Enterprise has HUNDREDS of crewmembers Picard can choose from. Thankfully, it seems fate threw him a bone and Picard decided to pick Data for the job that day. In a subversion, however, this Roulette didn't work out. The crew was able to tell upon reversing the poisoning that it was sabotage and not a natural disaster, and immediately began to wonder just how long the odds were that Fajo would conveniently have the Green Rocks needed for the mission (and just enough'' Green Rocks). One look into Fajo's personal history and hobbies later, the crew had fingered him for Data's abduction.
  • Revenge:
    • Tyler's plan to break up Emily and Daniel would not have worked if Jack hadn't shown up or if Emily hadn't invited him in, things Tyler hadn't no control over. In fact, if that hadn't happened, the conversation would have gone like this:
      Emily: You are extremely late. I hope you have a good excuse. Why didn't you call?
      Daniel: What? Tyler told me you cancelled. I came to ask why.
      Emily: Well, he lied.
      [both fume; Tyler's a dead man walking]]
    • The plan to frame David Clarke as a money launderer for terrorists relied on a large number of people being willing to perjure themselves in court and the prosecutor suppressing evidence. If any of these people were honest, the case against Emily's father might have fallen apart. It is likely that the initial plan did not require the frameup but Conrad screwed up and then had to play Xanatos Speed Chess so someone else would take the blame.
  • Babylon 5: In the fourth season, Psi Cop Alfred Bester used subtle mind manipulation to make Michael Garibaldi his unwitting agent. Over time he subtly "nudged" Garibaldi's personality in the ways he wanted, heightening Garibaldi's natural suspicion, and turning him into a Manchurian Agent of a sort. As this happened, and (in many cases) as a result of the manipulation, Garibaldi took several steps that Bester himself admitted he hadn't--and couldn't have--anticipated, such as Garibaldi's resignation from the command crew of Babylon 5. All of which played straight into Bester's hand. Making the entire "plan" of Bester's a hybrid of Gambit Roulette and Xanatos Speed Chess.
  • Subverted in Stargate SG-1. When Teal'c is brainwashed by Apophis to believe he never actually left his service, the various characters point out all the things he did that not only hurt the Goa'uld as a whole, but Apophis in particular, demonstrating how the Gambit Roulette Apophis is making Teal'c buy into makes not the slightest bit of sense at all. Of course, thanks to brainwashing, Teal'c is having none of it.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • Walter White's goal is to convince Jesse Pinkman to work with him in order to eliminate Gus Fring, whom Jesse has formed an uneasy alliance with. The plan goes as follows: Jesse keeps a vial of poison hidden inside a packet of cigarettes. Walter arranges for Walter and Jesse's lawyer, Saul Goodman, to have his bodyguard frisk Jesse and steal the vial of poison. Walter then secretly poisons Jesse's girlfriend's son, Brock, with a different, non-lethal poison, in hopes that Jesse will come to the conclusion that Walter stole the poison from him and poisoned Brock with, and thereafter attempt to kill Walter. When Jesse is threatening to kill Walter, Walter convinces him that Brock was really poisoned by Gus in an effort to turn Jesse against Walt. Could be considered a Batman Gambit, except that it relies on Jesse reaching a very improbable conclusion in an Out of Character manner.
    • In the finale, Walt's plan relies on the Aryan Brotherhood allowing him to bring his car inside their compound and park it parallel to the building where they meet him, gathering all of their members in that building on the first floor rather than a second story or a basement, and that building being made of bullet-permeable material rather than being, say, a concrete bunker. If any one of these factors, none of which were within his control, had failed, he would have been S.O.L.
  • X-Play: The plot of Saw is parodied in an episode. Adam and Morgan are locked in a cell; which leads Adam to discover a cassette player; which he uses to describe how they are trapped in a madman's game. Morgan, realizing that the player might've had a clue to help them escape, slaps it out of Adam's hand. It turns out the player had a key inside it, which unlocks a cabinet with a TV that the killer broadcasts his messages (his first being that he knew Adam would tape over his recording, Morgan would break the player, and they would find the key).

    Mythology and Religion 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In the retcon type, it has been revealed that WWE's Kane has been working a plan that's equal parts this and Indy Ploy since he debuted fourteen years ago, the overall goal to be to exact vengeance against his kayfabe brother The Undertaker by overcoming him and taking his place as the dominant force in the WWE. One thing that really puts this one over the top - Kane's ultimate success came in the form of burying Undertaker alive. This fourteen year plan involved doing so twice before that.
  • In TNA, the Eric Bischoff / Hulk Hogan angle paints the both as cunning schemers of Machiavellian levels though many elements of their scheme (Jeff Hardy being able to make it to the World Title Tournament finals and Dixie Carter foolishly signing a contract without even looking at it) would completely unravel the scheme if it had not gone precisely in their favor, requiring the conspirators to either be insanely lucky or nigh-omniscient.
    • There is also the fact that they had plenty of opportunities to get the World title on either Jeff Hardy or Abyss that were much more convenient than the Triple Threat match at Bound for Glory. For example, at Victory Road 2010, there was a Fatal Four Way match involving Jeff Hardy vs. Abyss vs. Mr. Anderson vs. Rob Van Dam, or at The Whole F'n Show where they had Abyss vs. Rob Van Dam with Eric Bischoff as the guest referee.
    • That's not even mentioning the fact that Kevin Nash, Sting, and The Pope had figured out the plot (or at least a general idea of what would happen), but instead of politely informing Dixie Carter or the TNA fans of what would happen, they started talking in riddles and attacking people without any given reason to the point where they became heels in the storyline. They even challenged Hulk Hogan to be a part of a match against him on the date of the reveal, even though he was recovering from major back surgery. Had Nash, Sting, and Pope acted like mature adults in the storyline, the Gambit Roulette would have probably failed.
    • What's particularly strange is that, unlike what you might think, they actually did nothing to help Jeff Hardy win the title. When it comes to something that your plan hinges on this way, you'd think they would actually do something to make sure it happened.
  • The Higher Power plot involving the Ministry of Darkness was started MONTHS before their slated goal was even needed, depended on their target acting very much out of character, and disregarded simpler, much more assured ways to accompllish their purpose.

  • Spoofed in an episode of the Frantics' sketch comedy show Four on the Floor. Burglars are breaking into an office building. As they close in on the safe that is their target, the ringleader accurately predicts a series of improbable events including the night watchman having a fatal heart attack, a flying priest passing the office window, and a door-to-door dynamite salesman happening to be in the area. Each time, the leader smirks and tells his cohort, "Just like I planned it!"
  • In the original series of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, Frankie and Benjy Mouse both planned Arthur and Trillian's escape from the Earth. This would involve them knowing that the Vogons were planning to demolish the Earth, that Ford was an alien with the means of leaving Earth and willing to take Arthur with him, and somehow having to bring Zaphod to a particular party to hopefully woo Trillian away from Arthur and onto his spaceship. Justified as they're both pan-dimensional beings.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The chaos god Tzeentch, also known as the Architect of Fates and the Great Schemer, is the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 god of Gambit roulettes and lives for pulling the strings of reality in increasingly implausible and intricate ways - in fact, because such scheming is such an intricate part of its being, Tzeentch is virtually incapable of doing things straight. Even the other gods step carefully around Tzeentch because of this, which is probably just what it planned anyhow. Tzeentch's C'tan counterpart the Deceiver has been pulling some pretty twisty stuff too and it is not very clear how far each is playing the other. To a much lesser extent, the Eldar Seers have pulled off less ambitious ones - like engineering Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka's rise to Warboss and indirectly causing the last two wars for Armageddon, with billions of human lives lost, just to avoid an Ork attack on a Craftworld many years down the line.
    • Some fans theorize the God-Emperor of Mankind planned out his necessity for life support, to better make the Imperium worship him, which helps humanity weaken Chaos (as faith weakens them).
      • Reinforced with the presence of tarot cards being used by Inquisitors to help determine the Emperor's will with a great deal of implication towards this being the case as the emperor's mind had to fracture to cope with ruling the Imperium as his body lays dying. Some of the books even show aspects of the emperor's mind(s) even disagreeing showing that not all of them are in communion with each other. Or are they? Meaning no one is really sure what the Emperor's plans and thoughts could be. Probably not even Tzeentch.
    • Tzeentch has a bit of an advantage here in that he can make sure all the little chances come up, since he's sort of in charge of the time stream. Equally, the Eldar Seers are planning convoluted, chance-driven plans- but what they're actually doing is looking at the various paths the future could take and pushing it onto the one that's best for them with the minimum of effort (hence a little reliance on random events- they know it'll happen in advance if they set up for it).
      • There's also a third one, the Eldar's Laughing God. Some of the stories of its deeds are identical to stories about the Deceiver, specifically starting the C'tan fighting amongst themselves. This has actually been noticed in-universe a few times, so it's unlikely to have a "word of god" explanation anytime soon.
      • The attack on Prospero was in itself one of his Plans. First, he lets Magnus, one of the most powerful psykers in the universe foresee a future where the Imperium is destroyed, causing Magnus to break his word, his father to turn against him and all of this before anybody even knew he existed. Second, he allows Magnus and his legion of psykers to get the crap kicked out of them so they had no choice to turn to him for aid. Third, he causes them to use the Rubric, resulting in his now faithful legion of Supersoldiers being nothing but Gambit Speed Chess playing psykers or their mindless servants.
    • The Eldar have Eldrad Ulthran, their best Farseer. While his plans are of the "save ten Eldar in a thousand years" variety, fandom turns him into a Memetic Troll who (ab)uses his powers to play stupid pranks on people, such as putting a rock where a motorbike will fling it into the air, where it will get sucked into a jetbike's air intake, causing it to crash into a giant bladed robot, exploding the robot so that a blade will slice towards Eldrad's bodyguards, causing one to block and deflect the shrapnel... into and through the straps of a female eldar's torso armor. What a dick.
  • Sidereals in Exalted. As they have access to the Loom Of Fate, they have the power to observe the tiniest workings of Fate and all its potential consequences. Moreover, they can subtly alter fate more or less by filling out the right paperwork. As such, they have a bad tendency of putting forth Plans and Roulettes with disturbing frequency.
    • And yet they're still not as bad as their employers. The Maidens of Fate seem to order baffling orders to their servants, who just go along with it because who's going to argue? The Bureau of Oversight is just as bad, often giving Sidereals assignments like "Make sure the princess is wearing white at the ball next Thursday" or "replace a rose in a garden with a lily" or "move the chair four inches to the left."
    • Even they pale behind the Ebon Dragon, one of the big bads of the setting. Treachery is burned into the basic nature of his soul(s) to the point where he even has schemes within schemes to betray himself. And not even he knows whether those plans are a drastic emergency measure or an obsessive exercise in self-sabotage.
      • Both of these groups, however, have the supernatural powers and influences to make sure they can see the full consequences of these gambits in advance, and/or adjust fate itself to pre-ordain them. It's a gambit roulette to outsiders, but fairly predictable daily business for them.
  • Green Ronin's D20 Medieval campaign setting has the Prelate Prestige Class, whose ultimate ability is to kill Murphy's Law. Any and all plans the Prelate makes will go according to plan unless someone else is running a counterplan. The class is a Captain Ersatz of Cardinal Richelieu.
  • The Great Dragon Dunkelzahn, an important metaplot NPC in the Shadowrun universe, manages to orchestrate plans that required the ability to predict volcanic eruptions causing new islands to form, massive stock market transactions, an insane AI taking over an archology, and every major event, even those happening over a decade after his death, and still manages to influence all of them in some shape or form, even causing some of them...
    • This is Lampshaded many times by the Shadowtalk commenters and handwaved by others speculating Great Dragons possibly having divination powers. This is done for any of the massive plots of any of the Great Dragons... though how the immortal elves managed THEIR roulettes...
  • In Magic: The Gathering, the ancient Magnificent Bastard planeswalker dragon Nicol Bolas subtly pulls strings behind the scenes to unseal the Eye of Ugin and release the Eldrazi for reasons known only to himself. When his henchman Sarkhan Vol asks how he managed to set up the exact circumstances to unlock the seal, Bolas admits that he merely set up as much as he could and relied on chance for the rest.
    • Speaking of which, in the actual game it is possible to pull off one of your own with Genesis (not tournament-legal) and a green/white Kamigawa deck that contains among other things, Kodama of the Center Tree. Just discard Genesis, and have enough green and white lands to summon most cards. If your foe has enchantments or artifacts, cycling one of the spirit cards destroys them (there's even one to prevent damage, Kami of the False Hope). If your enemy relies on multiple attackers, you can soulshift Kodama of the Center Tree to pull them out of your grave. If you need to have a heavy hitter, you can pull Kodama out of your grave. Then you can use Genesis to put it back in your deck. There are random outcomes that can cause you to lose (the opponent has a speed deck, you don't draw Genesis or enough lands), but normally no matter what you do or is done to you, you can have some option to win.
  • The Quori in Eberron frequently pull off this kind of plan, and the game offers a really good explanation as to how: in addition to being super-intelligent Eldritch Abominations, the Quori frequently return to their home plane to plot, where Year Inside, Hour Outside is in effect. This essentially means that they have weeks to plan their next move while a single night passes on the Material Plane.
  • The Temporal Probability Agency is all about this. A sentient computer sends information back in time to itself from all possible time lines in order to best instruct their agents on how to save the world. Agents get odd little instructions, like 'Save this plane from terrorists. Also, spill a drink on the captain.'
  • In Scion: Demigod, the Epic Manipulation knack called Advantageous Circumstances allows you to do this at will in order to gain a temporary advantage to the current situation as long as you can explain what you do to the GM. In the example they give, a Scion of Ogoun attempts to escape from another Scion in a bar. He buys a drink for a girl across the room. The girl gets the drinks and smiles thankfully toward the Scion, when a middle aged man leaving the restroom and walking towards his wife gets between them at the right time. When he smiles back, his wife accuses him of buying the girl a drink and pushes him back, knocking him into the pursuing Scion and giving the Scion of Ogoun a chance to escape.

  • In his fourth tour, Enigma (2009-10), British illusionist and mentalist Derren Brown pulls one off spectacularly, with the set-up lasting the entire show:
    • At the beginning, he gives a man in the audience an envelope containing a card and tells him not to open it.
    • At the interval, he asks the audience to vote for a choice of seven cards: a goose, confetti, ice-cream, a moose, an egg, a needle, and apple juice.
    • Near the end, he gives six men from the audience numbers from one to six and asks them to randomise themselves in front of poles A to F. At the same time, he opens two envelopes, both containing six of the cards from the interval, giving the cards from one to each person in order of their numbers, and places a third at the front of the stage.
    • He then calls a woman up from the audience and asks her to pick a man at random, choosing #2, standing in front of pole C, and a card from the second envelope at random. It turns out to be the ice-cream, which is the same card #2 has. He opens the third envelope, revealing it to... be the ice-cream, with the letter C on the back. All six men place the cards on hooks on the poles and leave the stage.
    • He calls on someone to reveal the winner of the interval poll: confetti, which is written on the card given to the man at the beginning. He then reveals how he did this exactly: with props in the wings covertly saying "choose the confetti".
    • Then, he shows a clip of the band Mc Fly (part of an unrelated at the beginning) singing a version of their song "Obviously", rewritten to contain the lyric "(He said) obviously, the order will be, an egg then a needle and then an ice-cream and there'll be a goose and moose and apple juice, oh yeah." Cue gasps and standing ovation #1. For the second chorus, he then flips the tops of the poles to reveal the same order. Cue gasps and standing ovation #2.
    • And finally, he says "But Wait, There's More!", and reveals the main reason he called the tour Enigma back in 2007: it's an acronym of all six cards in the order. Cue the final set of gasps and standing ovations.

  • In LEGO's BIONICLE universe, the main villain of every story year so far, Makuta Teridax, has been defeated several times, but has revealed that he has, in fact, planned for every possible setback ahead of time. The Gambit Roulette is still turning, in fact, as he planned for all of the following to happen: the destruction of his own body, the death of the benevolent Great Spirit Mata Nui, the subsequent resurrection of said spirit, the rest of the world believing him dead... And the odd thing is, he seems to be the only one. There seems to be no Gambit Pileup coming, no (glaringly obvious) Deus ex Machina, just a slow slide towards his victory, trying to keep him from winning as long as possible. Quite dark for a Merchandise-Driven children's story. It went exactly as planned. Makuta committed Grand Theft Me on Mata Nui just as his soul was about to return to his body, becoming the universe as a result and banishing Mata Nui into a Soul Jar and out of the Matoran Universe.
    • Indirectly lampshaded when he discussed the matter with Vakama: "Little Toa, you have not yet begun to see even the barest outlines of my plans. I have schemes within schemes that would boggle your feeble mind. You may counter one, but there are a thousand more of which you know nothing. Even my ... setbacks ... are planned for, and so I shall win in the end."
    • Well, he hasn't planned for every possible setback, but instead tended to adapt to the situation. Throwing the fight against Takanuva was likely improvised as a way to get the heroes off his back. Getting crushed by a huge gate at the end of that confrontation was definitely not part of The Plan, according to Word of God but it didn't hurt too much as he was going to abandon his body in the end anyway.
    • Piraka Zaktan has seen the full plan, and keeps it in mind. This has allowed the heroes to actually work towards foiling it, as when Zaktan became their captive, he guided them to Teridax's then-supposed location. There was some ambiguity whether he was telling the truth or just wanted to play a roulette of his own, but we'll probably never find out, since that story-arc was abandoned quickly, courtesy of Teridax himself blowing Zaktan up ...or that's what everyone thought, but Zaktan was left in no position to try anything and made his escape to leave the Toa to their fate.
    • Pridak of the Barraki eventually sees the plan himself, or what he could make out after repairing the ruins Zaktan made of the original planning chamber. He immediately tries to get the other Barraki together and make an alliance with the Dark Hunters, not trusting his "employers" among the Order of Mata Nui, but Teridax's plans come together before he can do anything meaningful with the knowledge.

    Video Games 
  • The Kingdom Hearts series is known for being rather complicated, but Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance really takes the cake for how Big Bad Master Xehanort apparently planned for seemingly random events. According to Dream Drop Distance, everything in the previous games - which included three Keyblade students visiting a random island, his own Heartless trying to find Kingdom Hearts, and his Nobody creating Organization XIII - has somehow been All According to Plan via secret, heretofore unmentioned powers that overlap Assimilation Plot with Stable Time Loop, all for the sake of recreating the Keyblade War, just to see what would happen. Given that other, more-straightforward methods to accomplish this have been demonstrated in a couple Kingdom Hearts games, one wonders why Xehanort didn't just look for them instead of working so feverishly on taking the harder option besides an apparent Complexity Addiction.
  • In Shadow of Destiny the Homunculi arranged all the events in hopes of being free of the bonds of the game put on it leading to multiple endings including Discovering Eikre is actually the Alchemist from centuries ago, discovering the girl in modern times is actually the centuries old daughter and the real daughter was trapped back in time, and other things. However after all play throughs Eikre can use the players own knowledge and choose bonus ending A. Causing a paradox by making the homuncili touch the gem and destroying it thus ending it's Gambit roulette or bonus ending b Giving the alchemist the knowlledge and means to save his dying wife Either ending ends with Eikre fading away and then in modern times a man looking like him getting hit in the back like in the beginning of the game but instead of a knife he turns to see it's a soccer ball and the boy who kicked it turns out to be a descendant of the boy who was trying to kill him but now since none of that happened everyones happy... except the homunculi.
  • Both 3D PS2 Castlevania games have plots that sneak suspiciously close to this. Castlevania: Lament of Innocence more so than Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, as in Curse of Darkness Dracula is wirepulling everything from behind the scenes, and there's perhaps only one character he has no major influence over - Julia. Anyhow, Isaac's devious and original scheme is Dracula's devious and original scheme. Hector even spells it out in the end. Lament of Innocence sees Mathias playing some serious hardcore roulette, and it's actually quite terrifying to see how much of a 'Master tactician' he is. For that plan to work, everything would have had to unfold exactly as it does in the game. Which it does. He is a scary, scary man.
  • City of Heroes has a Doctor Doom-esque villain named Nemesis who takes this to an extreme in almost every encounter. In a single story arc, he tricks the hero into defeating some neo-fascists that looked like they were going to take over his infrastructure, just to save himself the bother; predicts that your contact will believe Nemesis's real plan was to take over the neo-fascists' robot army and send you to prevent that, while he proceeds with a kidnapping; and wraps it all up by having you supposedly kill him - even though, as a superhero, you may have never killed anyone else before (and indeed are explicitly prevented from doing so by the game mechanics), and despite his well-known use of countless robot doubles. Your Contact actually comments on this, noting that his death should have been impossible, speculating that Nemesis's real objectives were twofold, first to throw the heroes off his trail by faking his death, giving him breathing room to implement more plots, and second and most importantly, to get ahold of the technology from the kidnapped person to enable him to create perfect mechanical duplicates of his own mind, resulting in the annoying prospect of having to deal with an endless supply of super-intelligent mechanical jackass villains. Finally, many heroes might have preferred Nemesis's power-base to be taken over by virtually anyone that wasn't quite so good with the Gambit Roulette. (This is far from Nemesis's most convoluted scheme.)
    • Oh, it gets better when you find out that he engineered the Rikti war.
    • Apparently, he invented time travel as well. Still, his Paper-Thin Disguise leads to some doubt: Nemesis never moves that openly. So, is he genuinely apologetic for unleashing The End of the World as We Know It or is this a part of an even more elaborate scheme?
    • One of the Loading Screen hints is "Everything is a Nemesis Plot." Another hint is "Not everything is a Nemesis Plot." Also he was apparently Emperor of the US after World War II (his reign was brief, however.)
      • More recently, following Issue 14: Architect: "If it's not already a Nemesis plot, you can use the Mission Architect to make it one."
    • On the villain side of the game, players stumble on a dimension where heroic organization Longbow and the Nemesis Army are fighting each other and the Devouring Earth from taking over the planet. Strangely, the Nemesis Army is happy to see the player. It turns out to be a convoluted plot by Nemesis to use their duplicate of the contact to manipulate the player into questioning if they were a duplicate themselves. This led the player into a trap where they were meant to be captured and replaced with a duplicate as well, but the player manages to escape with the original contact. In the end, it was a very effective trap that made the player villain WANT to walk into it. There's a reason one of the creepiest bits of civilian dialogue in the game is, "Lord Nemesis is watching you, [Player Name]."
  • Metal Gear:
    • It goes as far back as the very first Metal Gear game (with the help of some retcons). Big Boss' plan relied on the chance that Venom Snake wouldn't turn against him in the span of years after he revealed the truth to him (and he had plenty of reasons to do it). There's also the fact that Big Boss needed Venom to become a terrorist, which was very unlikely by the end of the fifth game (Even with Ocelot's manipulation, Venom always cared more about the safety of his men than the other's ambitious ideas, and was much more of a good guy than Big Boss ever was as he showed with Quiet or even Huey).
    • Metal Gear Solid has Liquid Snake fooling everyone from Snake's team into believing he was Master Miller. This plan involved him predicting Miller was gonna be called for the mission, then killing him quietly on his home before the mission started without anyone noticing or checking his home, and ultimately hoping no one would notice Miller was suspiciously unavailable at certain points where Liquid was busy (Such as while fighting with Snake on the Hind D).
    • Metal Gear Solid 2 can actually be seen as a sort of Deconstruction of this trope. As the main plot pretty much tells you there's no way a Gambit Roulette can be executed so perfectly without some kind of meddling. The ending even reveals that the ONE factor that the bad guy couldn't predict and plan for, was actually planned by the real bad guys in advance and they just didn't tell the staged bad guy about it. At the end, the real bad guys (The Patriots) even reveal their goal was to find out how much they could manipulate events from behind the scenes before the main protagonists (meaning, the people they were trying to manipulate in story, which could have plenty of meanings) start realizing they were part of a staged event. This went so far to the point that even the staged bad guy's (Ocelot) mind control was taken into account on their plans (As explained in Metal Gear Solid 4, the Patriots were trying to push the world into a staged war economy. They knew Liquid was gonna try to become a main player, so the Patriots allowed him to advance on the businness as he made the war economy stronger. It was only when they found out that Liquid wanted to control the S.O.P. system to kill them that they decided Liquid needed to be stopped).
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 is the pinnacle of this insanity, revealing the Liquid Snake "possession" was in fact an elaborate ruse by Revolver Ocelot (through self-hypnosis and nanomachines), who was working on bringing down the Patriots (A series of AIs) in order to free Big Boss. The kicker? From shortly after the end of MGS2 until thirty seconds before his death five years later Ocelot's personality was completely dominated by Liquid's, preventing him from being able to alter any part of his plan once it was put into effect.
      • It's beyond that in complexity. Ocelot actually pretends that Liquid's arm took over his personality by self-suggestion in order to trick the Patriots into believing he was a similar threat as Liquid Snake in Metal Gear Solid 1, so the Patriots would pull their own plan to use Snake to defeat Ocelot, which is what he exactly planned for, as they became so focused on defeating Ocelot that they failed to realize that in the course of defeating him Snake would also end up destroying the Patriots.
  • Bian Zoldark from Super Robot Wars: Original Generation tried this. It was subverted by the fact that he was able to do it while still in control of his organization, but once he died as part of his master scheme, his own group fell to factional in-fighting and nearly doomed it.
  • Euzeth Gozzo in the 2nd Original Generation. Sure, he had plenty of backups to his plan, but even he admits that a huge part of why his plan pulled off as well as it did was by a large amount of chance.
  • In Super Paper Mario for the Nintendo Wii, Dimentio has been orchestrating events all along as part of the Quirky Miniboss Squad so that after the hero's prophesied defeat of the Big Bad Count Bleck, he could take over the power needed to destroy the universe, and channel it through one of the heroes, Luigi, to destroy and recreate the universe.
    • Dimentio does have a prophecy to work off of, though, which lowers the roulette factor from "how could you possibly know that?" to "I can't believe you were right." It's still a gambit, it's just that he has access to pieces of vague future knowledge from a book proven to be reliable.
  • The entire underlying plot behind Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is a twenty-something year-old Gambit Roulette centered around Lehran's Medallion and channeling power into it by thrusting the entire continent into a war, so that Ashnard could release the Dark God.
  • In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, it is revealed that Ashnard was but a pawn in an even larger roulette than in Path of Radiance, orchestrated by none other than Lehran, who turned out to be Sephiran, the Prime Minister of Bengion, and a major ally in Path of Radiance. He wanted the "Dark God," Yune (who's actually rather nice, if a tad rude) to be released, only because this would also wake up her sister, Ashera, the Goddess of order, who would then cleanse the world of all life.
  • In Jade Empire, Master Sun Li, the Glorious Strategist, pulls off a twenty year Gambit Roulette to put himself in power by training the main character so that only he knows how to kill him/her, yet keeping him/her loyal, letting him/her kill the emperor after baiting him/her to that point, and then killing the main character and taking the throne. If you replay the game you can see all the points where he was manipulating things. Also lampshaded by the Spirit Monk while talking to the soldier in Tien's Landing when s/he comments that "he couldn't possibly have known that the flyer was going to crash here" (or something to that effect); she'll reply you would have had to go there to pick up her Plot Coupon eventually anyway.
  • In the higher stages of Kirby's Avalanche, a computer will, despite all of your disruption tactics, somehow always manage to pull off an Avalanche (a chain of 9 or greater) if you don't beat them in under two minutes.
  • Master Albert from the Mega Man ZX series may have broken a record for the longest-running single Gambit Roulette (in video games, at least), in order to reset the world and become its god. He even threw a couple of gambits into the mix. And it all conspired over a couple of centuries. It didn't quite work out, considering he was fighting his great-great-great granddaughter/spare body, with the biometal with the same powers as he, but even then, he doesn't seem to care anyway. Oh, and he said "Just as I planned."
    • ZX actually has TWO Roulette records - Master Thomas planned out his own Gambit Roulette to kill off Albert so he could do his own scheme to reset the world. It may or may not have gone on for as long as Albert's, but that's not the point. This marks the first Gambit Roulette being designed to destroy ANOTHER Gambit Roulette... And the most remarkable thing about it, is that it worked.
    • It may be even more complicated, actually. Dr. Weil, the Big Bad from the Mega Man Zero series, is the one who inhabited Model W, the object of each ZX villain's desire. There is a good chance that he still lives on as Model W, and has in fact manipulated EVERYONE from behind the scenes. ZX Advent seems to culminate in the total destruction of Model W, but then again, who knows?
  • Legacy of Kain. Possibly justified in that most of the players involved either have access to time travel, or happen to be an omniscient squid god.
    • Subtly lampshaded by Mobius. In Soul Reaver 2, he tells Raziel that he's stupid for thinking he can pull one over on him, as Mobius is only man who has completely unfettered access to time travel and the ability to see through time; everyone else's ability in this regard comes from Mobius (usually intentionally) leaving behind his time-traveling relics in some places and time-viewing relics in others. In Defiance, he tells Kain that he only thinks he understands the complicated nature of what's going on, and it's actually more complicated.
  • Chzo of the titular Chzo Mythos was able to pull this off, due to being omniscient (and only on one day of the year, too) and able to see the past, present and future at the same time. He got what he wanted, but how much was exactly the way he intended is up for debate.
  • Lupin's scheme in Sherlock Holmes Versus Arsène Lupin. And then it turns out that the whole scheme- which took months to set up- was actually a smokescreen to ensure that the whole of London's police force would be in the wrong place while he carried out his ''actual'' theft. This required a plan of its own. And then the game has been playing Gambit with you all along, and if you fall for Lupin's ploy it gives you a really disheartening ending. While you are given a hint to the real target at the beginning of the game, it is tempting to choose the obvious option when the clue to your final destination is "It starts with 'B' and ends with 'ig Ben'." Choosing Big Ben, however, results in a cutscene of Watson, Lestrade and the Prime Minister coming up with precisely nothing, and then you are treated to a screen explaining that, due to your incorrect choice, Watson and Holmes become estranged, Holmes retires because he's crushed by his failure, and Lestrade is demoted to traffic duty.
  • Battalion Wars 2 provides a fine example of this. In an attempt to recover a lost superweapon, Kaiser Vlad manipulates the news to cause the Anglo Isles to attack the Solar Empire. When the Anglo Isles retreats, the Solar Empire launches a counter-attack, and asks the Tundran Territories to help them. While everyone is busy with that, Vlad launches a full scale invasion of Tundra, fights his way to the far north, locates and mines the super weapon, and tries to run away. Everything goes as planned, until that last step. The allied nations crush his armies, attack his mining spider, and in the end, Vlad and Kommandt Ubel end up trapped in a mine shaft.
    • What's really maddening is that Vlad Doesn't invade Tundra until After they pull out of the Isles.
  • Gambit Roulettes are the entire modus operandi of the Alchemists in Melty Blood, to varying degrees of success. Apparently, all the really experienced alchemists planned so far ahead that they noticed the inevitable end of the world, and set about trying to stop it. However, everything they do just makes it worse (they've developed an impressive collection of doomsday weapons designed to stop all the other doomsday weapons that they themselves have made). It's implied that saving the world would require the realization of the impossible, which is why at least one alchemist (who managed to set up a Gambit Roulette wherein the particles of his soul would not-quite-randomly come back together after being scattered into the The Lifestream and bring him back to life every so often) is seeking the 6th sorcery (sorcery being defined as that which realizes the impossible), which could save the world.
  • Admiral Aken Bosch does this to both the Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance and his own rebel organization, Neo-Terran Front. The entire rebellion is just a smokescreen to hide his true goal of obtaining old documents and schematics from the archives of Galactic Terran Alliance to build a machine called ETAK capable of translating the Shivan Starfish Language, and then plundering Vasudan archaeology sites to acquire Ancient texts and artifacts so he can activate the Knossos portal and use his ETAK device to speak to the Shivans and forge an alliance with them. And he actually succeeds, because he also knows that the Alliance Intelligence wants him to succeed, meaning that several attempts to intercept him "mysteriously" fail.
  • Gizel Godwin in Suikoden V loves this kind of trope, to the point where he often runs two or three plans at once just to see what will stick. His father actually advises him against this method, arguing that intrigue should be done decisively to minimise the risk of an unintended consquence. He is ultimately proven to be right: although one of his schemes during the Sacred Games is successful, the fallout from the failed schemes generates a great deal of ill-will towards the Godwins. This sets the tone for Gizel's haphazard conduct during the war, which slowly turns public opinion against him and allows the Prince to stage a successful coup.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, Smilin' Jack runs one of these. To make a long story short, he replaces the Ancient sleeping inside the Anarkhan Sarcophagus with half a ton of C4 in an attempt to assassinate Prince LaCroix. His method of achieving this is... complicated.
    • It wasn't even really an ancient, he planted clues to make everyone think it was. One character even points out how the symbols and various historical hints have non-supernatural explanations, but even he gets spooked in the end. There are also plenty of clues, especially playing as a Malkavian, that he is only acting for the real manipulator: Cain, the father of all vampires.
      • Jack being Jack, it's quite possible he's just stirring up chaos For the Lulz. Even if LaCroix doesn't get blown up in his moment of triumph, he's still got every faction running around in a panic shooting at each other, which he likely finds hilarious.
      • There's no evidence that Caine had any interest other than as an observer; Los Angeles is still just a small corner of the world. Jack's Plan could have been planting the sarcophagus to answer the question whether La Croix is powerhungry enough to commit diablerie, on a Methuselah no less, and solve the problem in one go. If La Croix hadn't attempted to open the coffin, Jack could be content that while the Camarilla in general and La Croix in particular are nuisances to the anarchy status quo, at least their professed enlightened self-interest isn't a dangerous sham.
  • Wilhelm from Xenosaga. It wouldn't be a far stretch to say he had prepared a plan, which involves MANY other plans, that spans several millenia. And involves resetting the universe countless times, not unlike a "Groundhog Day" Loop, so that the whole plan may actually span many tens of thousands of years. And that's probably on the lower end of the scale. However, this actually has a good Justification. Wilhelm possesses something called the Compass of Order and Chaos, which allows him to see the flow of the human conscious. He has also been the head of Vector since humanity left Lost Jerusalem (Earth); the kicker is that, if Vector didn't exist, humanity would've been wiped out. Because humanity needed to rely on Vector's goods to survive, it gave Wilhelm de facto control over humanity. Additionally, being the head of Vector, a former member of politics in the world of Xenosaga, a Cardinal of Ormus by the name of Heinlein and the President of Hyams Heavy Industries, Vector's main rival, Wilhelm has extensive knowledge of what's happening throughout the story. It helps that he's also a chessmaster extraordinaire, probably due to living for several millenia. Given all this, it really isn't a far stretch that his plan worked simply because he had that much control over events.
    • Wilhelm, and the Four Testaments, are based on the figures of the Demiurge and his Archons from Gnosticism. According to the Gnostics, Sophia, a female aspect of the true god that created the universe, an ancient word for wisdom, and analogous to the human soul, is an Aeon, an emanation of this god and, according to some traditions, she attempted to emanate as the true god did and failed, which caused her to fall out of what is known as the Pleroma, the Fullness or Oneness of the true god which is composed of all the aeons. During this exile, she gives birth to the Demiurge, and being ashamed of this, encloses him within a cloud and gives him a throne. The Demiurge who is sometimes called YHVH, also known as Ialdabaoth, is oblivious of Sophia but apparently knows of the true god's existence, and creates the material world, encasing the power he has from Sophia in matter. To ensure that the souls trapped in matter remain so, he resorts to the eternal recurrence which is, as was mentioned before, a universal time reset button. To go back to the Pleroma, one must learn the Gnosis, the secret knowledge, which was spread by Jesus, who is another Aeon. The seven Archons are the servants of Ialdabaoth and can be compared to the angels and demons of other religions, and represent the seven sins which further distances the human from returning to the Pleroma.
  • Star Fox Adventures has Andross's plan to revive himself. As explained at the end, he learned of the power of the Krazoa spirits on Dinosaur Planet, as well as Krystal's ability to channel their power, then had her trapped a crystal so that as Fox returned the other spirits, their power would be channeled through Krystal to revive him. So he had to manipulate General Scales into pushing Krystal into the Krazoa spirit's breath's path, which trapped her in a crystal that would channel the spirit's energy, and more importantly somehow know both that Krystal would arrive on the planet and that she had the ability to channel energy... although we have no idea how omniscient evil ape ghosts really are.
  • As it turns out, almost everything that happened during StarCraft I and Brood War was just one epic Gambit Roulette by The Overmind. The Overmind was created by the Xel'Naga to control the zerg swarms, but The Fallen One made sure it was made "with consciousness but without free will" and compelled to destroy the protoss. The Overmind (presumably by virtue of being a mountain-sized brain) had a vision of the future telling it that if it didn't do something to change the course of events then all its zerg children would become food for the menacing hybrids, so - it infested Kerrigan, the most powerful psychic it could find, to give her the potential to control the zerg, then engineered its own death so that the zerg would be released from its control and into Kerrigan's, but not before making its prophecy available for Zeratul to reach, letting Zeratul know that they needed to use the artifacts on Kerrigan so that she'd be freed from the same overriding compulsions that had ruled The Overmind, and also letting them know that they must not kill her. This would then rob the hybrids of their ability to control the zerg and use them to destroy all the other factions and bring about the end of the universe. That's a pretty epic gamble right there.
  • Pokémon:
  • In .hack//G.U., Ovan's plan is this. His plan relies entirely on getting Haseo to fight all of the other Avatars, something which could have been rendered impossible by any number of circumstances (What would've happened if an epitaph user simply decided to stop playing the game?). He even lampshades this near the end; when Yata asks him if everything that's happened was all part of his plan, Ovan responds that all of it was pure chance.
    • Although it's mentioned in side materials that if an Epitaph PC is deleted by the user (ie, they quit the) the Avatar will simply find a new host. Furthermore, some of the plan requires no plotting at all. Haseo ended up fighting Endrance and Kuhn of their own volition, with no manipulation required.
    • It was also not the first plan; quite the opposite. He'd been trying for months to find some other method without any luck and eventually ran out of time, forcing him to take a massive gamble.
  • In Rainbow Six Vegas, Gabriel Nowak—one of your allies—turns out to be the mastermind behind an assault on the entirety of Las Vegas by an army of mercenary terrorists, in order to distract the authorities and assault a hidden military complex under a dam suspiciously like Hoover Dam, in order to steal prototype weaponry. How does he convince the good-guys he is on their side? He participates in an operation where he is captured by terrorists. In the first game, after being captured, he is rescued by other members of Rainbow. In the middle of the escape, the team gets into a firefight, then leaves him behind, later revealing that he is the bad-guy when he manages to steal a Rainbow helicopter and is either shot down or just crashes it. In Vegas 2, he apparently was released before his "rescue" in order to masquerade as an NSA agent supporting yet another Rainbow team—two members of which were in the team that rescues him—before going back to the casino where he is "held captive", then goes back pretending to be an NSA Agent in order to fool his former mentor and fellow Rainbow member, Bishop and bump off an underling, one of the terrorist leaders. In addition to being a heist plan who's complexity surpases that of something cooked up by Danny Ocean, it requires absolutely everything to go exactly to plan. And all the while, he is simultaneously at huge risk for getting mistaken as an escaped hostage or an NSA Agent and shot by his own mooks, getting blown up in his own capture or dying in the helicopter crash (you can just shoot it down, but if you don't it seems like he did it intentionally). It's also worth mentioning that he also did the attack on Las Vegas to take two scientists from the WMD project hostage, knowing they would be rescued so they could be sent back to the compound under the dam... to be taken hostage again in the attack on the dam! The odds that he would not get killed trying to do this—never mind getting away with it—are astronomical. But he does... nearly. But hey, it's Vegas, baby!... *sigh* I Need a Freaking Drink after typing that...
  • Done in Lord of the Rings Online with the Broadacres plotline. One of the Thanes is secretly in league with Saruman and is betraying his own Reeve as well as his own country. One by one, the other servants of his liege, Reeve Frithild, are killed off until he finally secretly poisons Frithild and takes her position. This would be more impressive if it weren't for the fact that all of the deaths of her faithful retainers are happening right next to you *in battle* by random mooks. Meanwhile, the evil Thane Ordlac and his Dragon Dudsig are *also* next to you helping fight the same mooks. So, he secretly instructed his goblins, orcs, Dunlendings etc. allies to specifically go after designated enemies and to leave his men and he alone while at the same time he was helping kill them? And no, there is nothing that you can do to stop the good guys from being killed. They are all targeted and one-shot by enemies that you can't kill off in time. You can't even come to the conclusion that he might be the secret traitor that you are specifically looking for even though there are about fifty different occasions where he or his men act suspiciously. It finally comes down to an NPC pointing out that he's the evil traitor.
  • Players of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft may design plays based on a certain random number event happening, generally as a Desperation Attack (a low probability play that fails means little if you were going to lose anyway). Generally involves prayers said to RNGesus.
  • Persona 5: The entire casino heist and everything after was all part of a plan by the Phantom Thieves to throw a Spanner in the Works of The Conspiracy that was hunting them. It involved a convoluted series of events that required Joker to turn Sae Niijima to their side, and fake Joker's death by tricking the traitor into killing a fake Joker in the Metaverse. By doing so, they could expose the traitor in their party, find out who the traitor's boss is, and throw the conspirators off the Thieves' trail for awhile, all at the same time. However, as everyone points out, nobody knew what would happen past Joker's capture, and the entire plan hinged on Joker appealing to Sae's long lost sense of justice. Further, the interrogators drugged Joker, messing him up so much that he didn't even remember that there was a plan until just a few minutes before the end of his talk with Sae. That Joker still managed to pull it off in spite of all that even impresses the villains.
  • A lot of Hazama/Terumi's plans come off this way in the BlazBlue series, but it's justified. Having lived through countless time loops and being able to force Nine to look into other possible outcomes, he knows the outcome before rolling the dice. Particularly, with the time loop broken at the end of the third game and Nine free of his control, he promptly loses all control of the his schemes and has to resort to breaking personal taboos and brute-strengthing the situation.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Ace Attorney series subverts this, in the fourth game's finale. The real killer's defense is that since he was in prison, he had no way of getting the victim to lick the poison stamp just as Wright and Brushel started to look into a certain case more deeply, and challenges Apollo to prove he had some convoluted plot to carry this out. Klavier, though, calls his bluff, and points out that he can't prove it - because the whole thing was one big coincidence anyways, and the victim should've died from the stamp years ago, but survived due to his daughter being a Spanner in the Works. This is rightfully pointed out by Klavier to be justified on Apollo's part however, as the case he presented was simply about what did factly happen and had nothing to do with whether the real killer could have predicted it would happen and that the real killer was twisting what Apollo was presenting.
  • G-Senjou no Maou gives us one in the form of the devil, Maou. Every one of his plans require that everyone acts exactly how he knows them to act. A single misstep would bring down the entire scheme. This culminates in his last giant trap: creating a blockade and making it a hell on earth all to get his father out of prison. Despite this, he still manages to weasel himself out of sticky situations by playing Gambit Speed Chess with the protagonists.
  • In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors Zero's plan included: Seven coming up with code names for everyone so Zero wouldn't know their identities, Lotus randomly talking about some crazy theory she just came up with and she herself didn't take seriously so she'd mention prosopagnosia to Junpei, or Ace entering the room when Junpei and Clover were having a conversation about the first Nonary Game just as Clover was about to say the name of the girl who died back then. Any of these events not happening would've put Zero's plan in a tight spot. Justified as Zero had a glimpse in the future nine years before the game's events so she could have known this would happen.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Kinzo's ability to use magic seems to rely on this.
  • During the warmup to the rescue in Grisaia no Rakuen Thanatos tests the usefulness of the Mihama girls by sending them on various pointless errands. It gets the exact timing of everything down to the second and predicts exactly how people will flinch, among other things.
  • Super Danganronpa 2 has Nagito Komaeda come to the conclusion that there is a spy in the midst of the trapped party, and, in order to out the spy to the others orchestrates an elaborate Thanatos Gambit involving him committing suicide in such a way that the spy would inadvertently finish him off, and thus get tried for killing him. How does he guarantee that the spy would be the one to do it? He doesn't, instead relying on his Ultimate Good Luck that of all the people who stumbled on his body, the spy would be the one to finish him off without even realizing it. It works.
    • Given that Nagito has his own ridiculous brand of luck, it really makes sense that any plan formed by him that relies on random chance to work, will work. Another example: He wants to be picked to clean a building so that he can prepare the things he will need for another plan later on. He suggests the group draws straws to decide who cleans the building, and sure enough he got the short straw.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Narbonic:
    • At the end of the "Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit" arc, Helen claims the whole chaotic sequence of events was her plan. As the series goes on, it's hinted that she plans a great deal more than typically believed. Helen is a megalomaniac (albeit an extremely cute one), so some or all of this could be from her own self-aggrandizing.
    • Indeed, in another comic in "Doppelganger Gambit", she explicitly claims a fondness for the Indy Ploy approach: "It's times like these I almost question my usual strategy of doing whatever dumb thing pops into my head." It's possible she masterplans things at a subconcious level which then tells her conscious mind to do seemingly random things.
    • In another "Doppelganger Gambit" strip, Artie says her mind operates on a different level from his, making him a cog in her machine (and he's a genius himself).
      Dave: She's currently giggling and trying to set herself on fire.
      Artie: That's mad genius for you. It's a sort of brain potluck.
    • Artie at one point suspects everything about him—from his intelligence, to his morality, to his shapeshifting ability—was engineered so that he could save Helen's life at one crucial, impossible-to-predict moment. He then wryly notes that it would be perfectly in-character for her to pull off such an insane plan when she could have easily just avoided the dangerous situation in the first place.
  • From Daily Victim by Dave "Fargo" Kosak, the features "Okay man, listen up: I've developed a 32-step program designed to get my hot girlfriend into cosplay," where the focus character tries to get his girlfriend to like dressing up without realizing that she's being manipulated, and "My 6-month plan to get my hot girlfriend into cosplay has colossally backfired", where his plan has worked too well, and he needs to wean her off of her obsession via an equally circuitous scheme.
    • And then there's the system administrator who always has a backup plan: "You see, you never want to fake a major organ failure to hijack an ambulance to a concert where you falsify medical documents and sneak into the trunk of your friend's car in a Spider-Man costume unless you're PREPARED for the eventuality that someone might get hurt if the car slams into a deer."
  • Near the end of It's Walky!, a We Can Rule Together speech by Penny and (presumably correct) extrapolation by Alan reveal that Dargon founded SEMME in the seventies specifically to gather abductees and Martian technology, the former to be given just this We Can Rule Together speech, the latter in anticipation of SEMME's eventual disbandment and the resultant scattering of Martian technology to military centers around the world. The latter event, by the way, was thirty years later and contingent on an HA caper they couldn't possibly have predicted, itself following his death and resurrection. If either Dargon or Penny had lived long enough, we might have seen what, exactly, they planned to do with the world's military infrastructure destroyed.
    • Mike pulls this off routinely in both Shortpacked! and Dumbing of Age. Often times he will do something innocuous or plain friendly only to see it be all according to plan.
    • The trope was actually parodied near the beginning of the strip:
      Head Alien: Nothing happens that I haven't designed. Do you understand?
      Alien Mook: *NSYNC?
      Head Alien: [dejected] I was careless.
  • The entire Bird "conspiracy" in the webcomic Kevin & Kell. Too long to explain, but it implies giving somebody super powers, Time Travel, the Y2K bug, and locking an odd couple in a room.
  • Dominic Deegan:
    • Dominic Deegan, with his limited ability to see the future, plays The Chessmaster in almost every arc, manipulating events to a more ridiculous degree each time. By the Snowsong arc, he's stepped into Gambit Roulette territory even considering his powers, albeit mitigated by some minor setbacks.
    • The mindgames the Travorias play on one another throughout the series would count as Gambit Roulettes... except that they nearly always fail.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Averted when Gil is able to work out that a conspiracy against The Empire won't be coming after its incapacitated ruler because his being crippled couldn't possibly have been planned by them.
    • Played with when Klaus theorizes that Agatha's presence on his airship was part of some grand scheme for her to control Gil Wulfenbach, using the slaver wasp he had already been infected with. Gil points out that she didn't plan to be on the ship, and they were the ones who brought her—unconscious, no less. Klaus claims that it's too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence. However, he is in fact lying because he has been infected and is being forced to, and behind him his genius second in command can be seen working through the possibilities and clearly coming to the conclusion that there is no way that what Klaus is saying is right.
  • A really stupid example, or even possibly a parody of this trope is Bob and George in its entirety. The whole series just being a gigantic set up for their mom to make George stop being too much of a pussy to fight, and kill Bob if he got out of hand. And the last few years being a bet between the Helmeted Author and Author to see if George would shoot Bob or not based on Gambit Roulettes between Bob and George themselves where George merged with the Shadowy Author and Bob was merged with the Helmeted Author, and manipulated certain aspects of their final meeting, that were in truth being manipulated by the author characters (even when the author characters WEREN'T using their "author powers" to alter fate and such, thus why it was bet.)
  • Homestuck: Doc Scratch and Lord English's master plan takes this to truly absurd extremes. Being omniscient time travellers in a multiverse where You Can't Fight Fate probably helps, though. Their plan actually has no possible way of being up to chance. The two of them have tied themselves and their/the universe's existence into their plan through a mind-bending series of stable time loops. If any deviation from the timeline that they have created occurs, then somewhere along the line, an event that should/shouldn't occur doesn't/does happen, an action is or isn't taken, a mistake is or isn't made, and the timeline is doomed by the paradox. The story just follows the Alpha timeline where everything goes to plan because it would be boring to sit through all of the possible ways they could screw up. They show what happens when a deviation is made, anyway.
  • Freefall: Sam Starfall's favorite master plan is to simply imply he HAS a master plan, then let his victims make up the details...
  • In El Goonish Shive, Magus needs Ellen to zap Elliot with her Gender Bender ray. His plans range from the "slightly implausible" (he orchestrated the entire sequence of events that led up to Ellen's "birth") to the completely ridiculous (planning to amplify Ellen's desire for pepper in order to make her sneeze and accidentally zap Elliot).
  • Initially, it seems that Alaric pulled this combined with a Thanatos Gambit in TwoKinds. It is, however, revealed that this was only one of hundreds of possible outcomes he planned for.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Tarquin calls out Nale's Complexity Addiction by describing exactly how one of his latest plans falls into this trope. On that same page, Tarquin even lampshades the tendency of Chess Master villains (like himself) to claim they pulled this off.
    Tarquin: A Gate, an abomination, a ritual, and you don't even have the ritual but a friend of a friend does? We were never in any position to realistically pull that off.
  • The entire climax of the first season of Tower of God and a lot more. Test Administrator Yu Hansung from had a great masterplan in which Baam was supposed to be declared Legally Dead without anybody noticing that he was just in hiding, so that he could be trained as King Slayer in secret. For that end, he needed to have the person Baam was looking for (Rachel) in somewhat close proximity without the two interacting, which wasn't that hard since Rachel obeyed Yu Hansung already. He also had to manipulate Ho into trying to get rid of Baam by telling him that he would stop climbing if Rachel died. At the same time, he had to manipulate Koon into discovering that Ho was being manipulated by Yu Hansung and was trying to get rid of Rachel and Baam, so that he would set up protective measures for both of them in the next test. Yu Hansung had to rely on Koon's deductive and manipulative abilities, which Koon used to make Quant try and protect Rachel during said test while figuring a way out to make Rachel participate in the final test, since she could not participate anymore after she got rendered ostensibly paraplegic by Ho. This means that Yu Hansung's plan relied on Koon's plan partially failing and Koon looking for alternatives. Here Koon's detective work comes into play. Koon went with his results to Lero-ro, who told him of a secret way of testing outside of the rules which only Irregular's like Baam could use, because the test had clearly been meddled with. So Baam got a tailor-made test in which Rachel could participate and which just so happened to happen inside a lake where the two where alone and unobserved. Rachel simply pushed Baam off their vehicle so that he was left to drown and she alone completed the test. Then Baam just had to be removed from the lake so that they could not find the body and declare him dead, so that the Government of Zahard would not follow the development of Baam, the Irregular into Viole, the Slayer, which was now made easy, since all of these events took quite a chunk out of Baam's sanity. And the greatest part of it all: Yu Hansung made it seem like he was helping the Zahard Government with underhanded methods while he actually plotted against it in secret. He is a true Magnificent Bastard.

    Web Original 
  • Played with in The Defrosters. In episode 9, Pixel Girl implies that she is working on a plan to stop Pixel Boy from playing World of Warcraft. She and James even mention TV Tropes as they debate the differences between a Gambit Roulette and a Xanatos Gambit.
  • Mentioned extensively in's 6 Most Pointlessly Elaborate Movie Murder Plots.
  • This webpage lets you create your own plots which can easily become Gambit Roulettes, for example: Your unstoppable plot: hone your psychic powers, easily allowing you to summon a powerful spirit, easily allowing you to kidnap a popular singer for a huge ransom, easily allowing you to force your minions to make a super battleship, so you can create an evil temple, so you can acquire an unstoppable mega-tank, which allows you to kidnap the prime minister so you can replace him/her with an imposter, so you can force your minions to make a high-tech submarine, easily allowing you to summon a demonic force, which sets the stage to seize control of a legion of golems, which sets the stage to build a clone machine, which sets the stage to pillage the hemisphere which will slake your dark need for power!
  • In the early days of the League of Intergalactic Cosmic Champions The Man In Black would claim that things were going exactly as planned, even if there was no way he could have planned it.
  • In an article on creating villains, the sample villain, the Fire King, infiltrates an elven noble's household, takes over the household, becomes the king's trusted advisor, starts a war, eliminates elements on both sides to prevent peace. The point of all this is to wipe out all the elves so that he can perform a ritual to absorb all the magical energy in the world, and conquer hell.
  • Several borderline examples in Worm: Contessa, the Simurgh and Dinah all do this to varying degrees, and all have powers that make it seem plausible. Notably, only the Simurgh is able to do this when people that block precognition are involved.
  • Clickhole gives us Big Red Horizon: a plan that involves the writer falsely confessing to being a Serial Killer to get put on death row, while his accomplice becomes the state governor. All to get a free lobster dinner as his last meal, and pardoned after it.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama parodies this in its (at the time) final episode — the Robot Devil brags that his "ridiculously circuitous plan is one-quarter complete". The plan: 1) Trick Bender into accepting an air horn, 2) Hope that he deafens Leela with it, 3) Convince Leela to sign a deal with the devil with him for her hand (with a twist) 4) Use the threat of this to get his hands back from Fry. All just to get him back where he was at the start of the episode. Even more, he somehow managed to get Bender to trade his hind plate for the air horn so as to have the perfect comeback for his Catch-Phrase!
  • Parodied in The Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theatres; antagonist Walter Mellon reveals that he created the Aqua Teens, Dr. Weird, and the Insanoflex, and kidnapped Neil Peart in the meanwhile, so that Frylock and Dr. Weird would ultimately become enemies and fight to their deaths, whereupon he would inherit their houses and use the land to build a gym. Frylock then informs Mellon that they all rent, and he couldn't have built gyms in residential areas anyway. Then the movie ended.
  • Total Drama:
    • The "Total Drama Drama Drama Drama Island" special was actually an overcomplicated plot for the Total Drama powers that be (both in and out of universe) to use for the purpose of making the second season, in a Moment of Awesome for the whole series.
    • Mal in All-Stars and Sugar in Pahkitew Island are walking embodiments of this trope as most of their successes were due to sheer luck and not of actual strategy or skill. Examples of this are Mal being able to find Courtney's list in "Sundae Muddy Sundae" without any explanation for how and most of the events from Pahkitew Island that were triggered by Sugar very likely still being able to happen even if she wasn't there to cause them.
  • The Pixies' "thirty-seven year plan to take over Fairy World" in the Musical Episode of The Fairly OddParents! is so hilariously convoluted it defies description but let's try anyway... They are driving and comment that they need a baby for their next plan. A short distance away a train of the circus is approaching a broken bridge, two clowns see this and use the cannon to launch their son, Flappy Bob, to safety. He lands near HP and Sanderson, who take and raise him, in the right way so that he could take the plans to the Learn-a-Torium and make it, then the two pixies use their magic to help the children destroy the city, so that Flappy Bob could convince the adults to put all their children in the Camp Learn-a-Torium, so that HP and Sanderson could manipulate Timmy into wishing a world dominated by kids, so that the kids would not need fairies any more, so that the pixies could grant a wish to Flappy Bob with a loophole to control the fairy world... After it ultimately fails (for apparently not the first time), they wonder if they should try a six-week plan this time.
  • The Simpsons
    • Homer Simpson's mother plotted to destroy a missile silo owned by Mr. Burns. This plot relied entirely on her dying at exactly the right time, Homer finding her video will on the right day, everyone using what they left her in precisely the right way (and Lisa stealing her crystal earrings), and Mr. Burns leaving a cinder block and chain near the cell Homer was trapped in.
    • Also seen in the episode "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind", in which Homer pulls a Gambit Roulette on himself. Upon accidentally learning that Marge was planning a surprise party for him, he goes to Moe's and orders an amnesia-inducing drink. Before he downs it, he predicts that he will wake up to find his family missing, remember snippets that imply that he hit Marge, go to Dr. Frink for memory recovery, only remember enough to conclude that Marge was having an affair with Duffman, and then throw himself off a bridge at the exact moment in which the party ship was underneath and at the exact place in which he lands on the ship's moonbounce.
    • Sideshow Bob in "Funeral for a Fiend" does this. He builds a fake restaurant and broadcasts commercials for its grand opening solely for luring the Simpsons (and no one else) there. Then he purposely misquotes Shakespeare in order for Lisa to correct him so he could pretend to look it up on Wikipedia in order for the laptop to overheat and explode, leading to his capture. Then at his trial he relies on the chance that Bart will snatch away his nitroglycerine so he could fake a heart attack and allow his father to inject him with a drug that simulates death. Then he manages to undergo a funeral without an autopsy or any embalming process, and gets his family members to make Bart feel guilty enough about his death in order for Bart to enter the funeral home when no one else is around, and make peace with his "corpse" before it is cremated.
  • Subverted in one episode of Teamo Supremo: the main characters are stumped as to how the seemingly unrelated robberies committed by "Mr. Vague" contribute to his ingenious plan.
    Mr. Vague: You fools! I have no plan! I just like to act evil and steal stuff!
  • An example (but certainly not the only one) where this is used for comedic effect: In the Looney Tunes cartoon "Fool Coverage", Daffy Duck (after much persuasion) sells Porky Pig an insurance policy that will pay him a million dollars if he gets a black eye. However, after Porky signs, he's informed that the policy has some fine print — the payout can only occur if the policyholder receives a black eye as a result of a stampede of wild elephants running through his house between 3:55 and 4 PM on the Fourth of July during a hailstorm. When this improbable sequence of events actually occurs (right after Porky signs up), Daffy makes up an additional clause on the spot that requires that a baby zebra be part of the stampede — and guess what runs through the house immediately thereafter.
  • In Justice League, after Brainiac has been revealed to have been living in Lex Luthor for years, he states that he's been manipulating Lex Luthor into manipulating everything else so that he, and not Lex, could implant his mind into a duplicate of Amazo (or rather, a "more suitable body"). Really, he just installed a backup of his program into Lex and rolled with whatever came his way. This turns into Gambit Speed Chess when Lex takes advantage of being merged with an immortal robot in order to try and become a techno-organic god.
    • This is also why many fans don't like Amanda Waller's revealed plan in the show's final episode: to create a "replacement" for Batman, she finds a couple who seem to be a good matchup for the psychological profile of the Wayne's, has the husband subjected to genetic modifications that cause him to produce what is genetically Bruce Wayne's sperm, then arranges for them to be murdered at the same age when Bruce's parents were dead. The amount of ways that could have gone wrong are too myriad to list — notably, the plan did go off the rails in that the assassin Waller contracted to do the job refused to follow through.
  • There is never a full outline of what the plan was, or who was planning what, but the events of the third season finale and fourth season premiere of The Venture Bros. required an absurd amount of chance and relied on a Shocking Swerve for resolution. Molotov Cocktease and Hunter Gathers manipulate events so that Brock Samson kills OSI's top three assassins in a fairly straightforward plan to ensure the supremacy of their Blackhearts organization. Although not specifically stated, they may have also been responsible for Brock's car attempting to kill him, which itself relied on pure luck on several levels. It gets completely ridiculous once it turns out that the whole storyline going back to Hunter's sex change operation was an elaborate plan by Hunter Gathers, who is actually The Mole for the Blackhearts who reversed his sex change, in order to convince Brock to join Hunter's SPHINX organization. The plan is either the most convoluted and implausible plan of all time or an unbelievably well executed game of Gambit Speed Chess. It gets even crazier in the season 4 finale, when it's revealed that EVERYTHING outlined above was in fact orchestrated by General Treister to expose and eliminate Doe and Cardholder, who were actually moles for the Guild of Calamitous Intent; then install Hunter as the new head of the OSI. In other words, Treister's roulette depended on somebody else perfectly orchestrating and executing their own roulette, which quite possibly makes him the true master of this trope. Meanwhile Mol infiltrates SPHINX as "the rookie" (unsure if she's always been or just sometime before the season finale) in order to (possibly) place her Blackhearts as prostitutes that Dr. Venture orders for Hank and Dean's home school prom in order to distract Brock while she gets away with her SPHINX captured and doped up love, Monstroso (who may be a decoy or maybe the Blackhearts thing was a lie.
  • Gargoyles: The episode "Metamorphosis." Xanatos plans to fake the death of his colleague Dr. Sevarius and get a mutated Derek Maza on his side requires that Derek jump in front of him to take the dart with the serum, the Gargoyles attack his lab at exactly the right moment before Derek is about to receive a "cure," for the cure to be destroyed in the struggle, and then for Sevarius to get knocked into his aquarium during the ensuing fight and somehow not receive a fatal charge from his two electric eels. Given that Sevarius was in on it and that Xanatos is otherwise a competent chessmaster they probably had other ways of making it work.
  • In the fifth season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), it was revealed that every event in the series until then — the Shredder's rise to power, Hamato Yoshi's death, the creation of the turtles, etc. — had all been allowed to occur as part of a plan to kill the demon Shredder.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • When Princess Celestia appears at the end of the two-part pilot for the first season, she announces she'd planned for everything that happened. It's anyone's guess how she knew Twilight would run into just the right group of new friends and they'd each get a chance to prove themselves along the way as fit to wield the Elements of Harmony, and that Twilight would recognize all of this in time for it to mean anything. Celestia is certainly smart, and the true extent of her abilities is unknown, but predicting all that would have taken omniscience, thus making the plan this trope either way.

      Much later, however, in the beginning of season 4 to be precise, the audience is shown that the very origin place of the Elements of Harmony already bore clear symbols of their future wielders, leaving open the possibility that it was all fated to happen and Celestia might have somehow known that she could rely on that without even having to know the exact details. If so, the trope would be subverted at much length.
    • In the episode "Daring Don't", the character of Daring Do seems to rely on this. She wanted to enter the Fortress of Talicon so she could remove the rings that were protecting the temple, causing it to collapse. Dialogue at the climax indicates that her "plan all along" was to get captured by the villain Ahuizotl so he would take her to his fortress. The only problem is, it was Rainbow Dash's entirely unpremeditated involvement that ended up getting her captured in the first place. In fact, at the moment that happened, Daring was trying as hard as she could to not get captured, making Rainbow's later comment, "You did it on purpose?" even more unfathomable.
    • Frequently deconstructed by Starlight Glimmer, who has something of a Complexity Addiction and is fond of elaborate plans to achieve her objectives. These inevitably include such things as Batman Gambits on people she doesn't know that well, massive cases of Missing Steps Plan, assumptions that events will inevitably fall her way, or pure simple Insane Troll Logic, and as such always fail spectacularly.
  • Deconstructed in Young Justice. Nightwing starts a complicated scheme to infiltrate The Light by sending in Aqualad and Artemis as moles. This plan will require the moles to commit genuinely villainous acts to maintain their cover, and most of Nightwing's team must be kept in the dark about the plan, meaning that they will be unaware that two of their greatest enemies are secretly allies. These two facets of The Plan eventually cause the situation to spin wildly out of Nightwing's control, and Kid Flash calls him out for putting his allies at risk with a plan that had too many variables.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: As meticulous as the Clock King is, there is a LOT that could go wrong with his plans.
  • Canaletto in Ōban Star-Racers Arranged for the death of the mother of the right girl i.e. Eva, so that she would be emotionally scarred and chase after her father off-world. Then he injured the main pilot to make her the only remaining pilot who would then would have to win a VERY competitive race, and relied on her prior emotional scarring so that she would reject the grand prize at the end and he could claim it for himself. Ironically, the only point at which he hits a bump is not when any one of these chance events fails but when Sul changed the flow of destiny. The only thing that helps this go down easier is that he's implied to be able to see the future and manipulate certain events.
  • Animaniacs: "Wakko’s Gizmo" starts out as your standard Rube Goldberg Device, but turns into this trope halfway through. We see that the gizmo relies on the following to work:
    • a pizza delivery man to open the door to the tower just in time to be scared off by a suit of armor on wheels so the latter can fall on a skateboard and coast down a spiral ramp,
    • Ralph the guard to be scared by the same and try to stop it by yanking the phone out of the wall to use the cord to trip it,
    • the cord to somehow also be attached to scaffolding that holds two mural painters,
    • Dr. Scratchansniff to drive past at the very moment the scaffolding collapses and dumps a bucket of paint on his windshield, causing him to crash into a fire hydrant,
    • the water from the busted hydrant to electrify a lamppost with a small anvil tied to a blimp tethered to it, burning the tether away and activating the blimp’s motor,
    • the blimp to fly into a barn’s weathervane and pop, dropping the anvil on a ramp that a cow is standing on and catapulting it into the sky,
    • the cow to crash through the ceiling of Mission Control, causing the engineers to prematurely launch a rocket from the shock,
    • the rocket to bump a satellite, changing its trajectory enough to turn a satellite dish at the studio with a set piece featuring a U-shaped ramp tied to it by a rope,
    • the set piece to be pulled into the path of a tour group on a golf cart, which flies around the ramp and straight back to the tower, up the spiral ramp to bump the tower door shut and set off the rest of the device.

    Real Life 
  • According to some historians, Adolf Hitler. He is supposed to have had an exact 'blueprint for aggression' before coming to power. More recent interpretations tend to portray Hitler as an often brilliant opportunist instead, who seized opportunities others provided and got by with Indy Ploys. It didn't end so well. A third common theory is that he was trying to do this trope and did so badly, which is why leaders on both sides saw him as a threat to his own plans.
  • Admiral Yamamoto's plan for the Battle of Midway was supposed to be a Gambit Roulette that involved splitting his forces into seven different groups across the entire Pacific to defeat the American carrier fleet. A simpler idea like "Put all my ships in one fleet, sail in to attack Midway. The Americans don't have enough ships to stop such a fleet, so if they do force a battle, I destroy their fleet. If they don't, I conquer Midway," would have been a pretty good Xanatos Gambit. Yamamoto's roulette plan ended in a spectacular failure when American codebreakers figured out key details of his plan. Because his ships were split up into many groups, they couldn't support each other, leading to many ships not even seeing action; this was especially damaging since the escort cruisers with Yamamoto's scout planes were all assigned to a battleship taskforce which was not in position to scout for the carrier taskforce. Some of the more ridiculous elements, like the "diversionary" attack on Alaska (which contradicted the entire point of the operation and served only to weaken the main force), were imposed by Yamamoto's superiors.
  • A certain screenwriter, presumably just to get attention, claimed that a particularly ludicrous Roulette was performed against him by 20th Century Fox. In summary, he alleged that a script of his was stolen by Fox, who then gave it to Alan Moore to be turned into a comic (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) specifically so it could be filmed without people guessing its true source. The resulting Frivolous Lawsuit treated Moore, who had done nothing wrong, so badly that he chose to cut all ties with the film industry.
  • There's an Urban Legend that on his death in 1966, Walt Disney left a series of films dictating in detail exactly how every aspect of Walt Disney Productions was to progress for the next twenty years — films directly addressed to the various members of the staff, as if he were still in conference with all of them. As Snopes points out, all you'd need do to demonstrate the fallacy of this legend is to look at the company's awful track record in the 1970s: if Walt was still dictating the direction of his studio from beyond the grave, then clearly they wouldn't have been churning out movies like The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and Now You See Him, Now You Don't.
  • Much of what Napoleon Bonaparte did in his career:
    • In the 1793 Siege of Toulon, while still a captain, he deliberately disobeyed his commanding officer's orders. Luckily, it was this disobedience that won the battle.
    • While a general in Italy, he once put himself on the front line of the battlefield at the Arcole Bridge. The French lost the battle and Napoleon barely escaped with his life, but the move won him huge respect and loyalty from his soldiers.
    • Any treasures captured on campaign were supposed to be either left alone or sent to the French government in Paris. Instead, Napoleon took a risk and disobeyed this rule, allowing his soldiers to keep their loot. This gave them a huge incentive to win battles and firmly won them to his cause.
    • In 1799 Napoleon was invited to be part of a coup attempt. This coup was intended to be purely parliamentary with no military involvement - Napoleon's inclusion was merely intended to win the army round. When the initial attempt looked like failing, Napoleon just marched in with his soldiers and not only ensured the coup's success, but shifted himself from a minor plotter to the lead figure.
    • In 1815, Napoleon escaped from his first exile on the island of Elba with the help of a few soldiers. When he met the first French troops sent to arrest him, he simply walked forward and dared them to shoot him. Not one did, and they (along with the rest of the French army) went over to Napoleon's side.
  • Conspiracy Theorists tend to use this trope in regards to their target to explain and justify their theories.

Alternative Title(s): Yagami Gambit, Single Xanatos Pileup, Aizen Gambit, Xanatos Roulette, Madara Gambit, Planning The Unplannable, You Couldnt Possibly Have Planned That