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Plan B Resolution

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We all know that when legend speaks of someone or something that is the only thing capable of defeating the Big Bad and end his evil, it usually falls to that Chosen One to Save the World.

Except in instances like this.

Perhaps the villain is Genre Savvy and has come prepared for whatever it is that can stop him or maybe even force the heroes to waste it. Maybe the only one who can stop him was killed before the climatic battle. Or even, heaven forbid, the one fated to stop the villain ends up joining him rather than destroy him.

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In the event this happens, usually the heroes must rely on someone or something that wasn't "ordained" by destiny to stop the villain. Usually, the 'new' chosen one succeeds where the original one failed, much to the surprise of the villain who believed that the only thing that could stop him was already taken care of.

Usually done for drama by making the dire situation more difficult. Unlike Hope Spot, which is when a glimmer of hope vanishes as quickly as it appeared, this is built up over time. May involve Decoy Protagonist and Prophecy Twist when everyone believes the actually hero of the series isn't the one who can save them until the "chosen" hero fails, or a Non-Protagonist Resolver if the situation is the other way around. Can be involved in Sword of Plot Advancement and 11th-Hour Superpower.

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Often happens when a villain has a Removed Achilles' Heel. May crossover with You Can't Thwart Stage One if Plan A happens early on. May overlap with Unspoken Plan Guarantee, where the failure of the first plan is a narrative device to maintain dramatic tension. Can be a Negated Moment of Awesome if this occurs after a lot of build up was put into it. Compare The World's Expert on Getting Killed, The Poorly Chosen One and The Unchosen One and The Chosen Zero. Maybe induced by an Impossible Mission Collapse. Similar to All Up to You, especially if it falls to someone outside the The Chosen One to save the day.

Not to be confused with Nothing Can Save Us Now which is for those who have already crossed the Despair Event Horizon, though it is possible for someone to rally them back. Different from Time for Plan B, because they didn't think they needed a Plan B, which may even justify the trope. See also Red Herring Twist.

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Examples

Anime & Manga

  • Used numerous times in One Piece where it usually falls to the Straw Hats to save the day:
    • In the Arlong Arc, everyone in Cocoyashi Village believed that their only chance of freedom was for Nami to collect the 100 million berries that Arlong offered to sell the village for, only for Arlong to use a Loophole Abuse to have Nami's money stolen before the payoff, leaving it to Luffy and the others to take down the Arlong Pirates.
    • In the Alabasta Arc, Vivi believed the only way to end the war was to get to her childhood friend Kohza who was the leader of the Rebel Army and get him to stop the fighting. After Crocodile had Kohza assassinated and made it look like the Royal Army's doing, causing the fight to intensify, the only way to end the war was for Luffy to bring down Crocodile, breaking his hold on the island's rain.
    • In the Fishman Island Arc, the Neptune Brothers were reported to be the strongest fighters on the island and the best hope for defeating the New Fishman Pirates. Unfortunately, the lead officers had Energy Steroids that made them strong enough to defeat the Brothers. Fortunately, the Straw Hats' strength could not be eclipsed so easily.
  • In Digimon Frontier, after the five children release Saraphimon from his hibernating crystal, it is believed that he is the only one who can stop Cherubimon, with him telling the children to return to their world so they won't be harmed by the coming battle. Then, the Dark Legendary Warriors appear and in the ensuing battle, Mercurymon reflects Saraphimon's attack back at him, defeating him and taking his fractal code, leaving Sorcerermon to believe the Digital World's last hope was gone forever. No guesses for who ends up defeating Cherubimon.
  • A variation occurred in the King Piccolo arc of Dragon Ball. Throughout the arc, it was stated that due to his immense power, King Piccolo could not be defeated in actual combat, so the heroes had to rely on unorthodox plans like using the dragon balls to banish him or re-imprisoning him in a rice cooker like before. Piccolo thwarted these plans and seemed unstoppable, until Goku, whom everybody assumed was dead for the entire arc, returned, and thanks to a power-up he had gained, was able to destroy King Piccolo.

Film

  • Slither: An early scene puts a lot of emphasis on a confiscated hand grenade that the Sheriff's Department has lying around, and a large part of the second act is sneaking towards the office to fetch said grenade, because it the only weapon powerful enough to take out the Big Bad, Parasite!Grant. Sheriff Pardy tries to use the grenade right away during the confrontation with Grant, but he/it makes the Sheriff trip with a tentacle and the grenade rolls into a pool, where it explodes harmlessly. This forces the Sheriff to improvise with a random can of propane gas that is lying around, and Grant's wife Starla ends up giving the appropriate Coup de Grâce.
  • The Italian Job (2003) has Charlie and his crew plan to infiltrate Steve's mansion and steal back the gold while he's out waiting for a date with Stella. When they put the plan into action, they discover Steve's neighbors are throwing a party and they're forced to cancel the mission. Stella goes on the date to inspire a second one, but gives herself away. Which leads to the climactic plan to make an unholy traffic jam in L.A. and lead the armored car with the gold to a location where they can raid it.
  • The Green Hornet: Britt Reid has the Big Bad's Engineered Public Confession on a thumb drive and the whole gang is after him. When he finally gets some time alone with a computer, he notices the thumb drive is actually empty... But he's still a witness (and the multiple attempted murders on him would make the cops more likely to believe him), so the bad guys still come knocking to finish the job... and most of them end up killed in the ensuing chase.
  • In World War Z, the plan was to bring Dr. Fassbach to South Korea, the apparent location of the zombie virus' Patient Zero, in the hopes that he could figure out a cure. And then he dies in the first few seconds after they arrive by slipping and accidentally blowing his brains out, forcing Gerry Lane to try to find information elsewhere that can be of help. The "Plan B" that resolves it turns out to not be creating a cure for the zombie virus, but finding out that zombies don't attack people infected with certain diseases and using that to make people "invisible" to the zombies so they can be fought in a more direct way.
  • Subverted in the first six theatrical Star Wars movies. Anakin Skywalker is The Chosen One destined to destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force. However, Darth Sidious instead corrupts him into his apprentice Darth Vader, leading the Jedi to pin their hopes on his son Luke. The subversion comes when Luke manages to redeem his father, who fulfills his destiny and chucks Sidious down a reactor shaft to his death.

Literature

Live-Action TV

Video Games

  • Quake IV: Twice. The first tried thing was to use the bombs to detonate the Strogg Nexus from the core. When that failed after a Harvester destroyed the last bomb and killed Sgt. Bidwell in the process, they resorted to overload the Nexus' core in order to blow it up. When that failed due to the Makron capturing Kane as he was about to overload the reactor, what remained of the Rhino squad devised a new plan involving the newly-stroggified Kane entering the Nexus and destroying it from the inside; fittingly, the last third of the game is the "Operation: Last Hope".

Western Animation

  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Flint has to install a kill code to stop his machine, but the USB drive gets sucked out the window of his flying car, so he asks his father Tim to send it via e-mail. After much difficulty Tim sends the e-mail, and Flint is about to downloaded into the machine when it turns out to be the wrong file (a cat video). As a last resort, Flint uses his Spray-On Shoes to plug up the machine, causing it to explode.
  • In the Grand Finale to Gravity Falls, Bill Cipher can only be obliterated from existence by a ritual which requires all the major characters to take part. Just when it's about to work, Stan and Ford get into an argument which not only disrupts the ritual but also attracts Bill's attention, and he traps them all. In the end, Bill is defeated when Stan tricks him into entering his mind, pretending he's Ford, who then erases Stan's mind, destroying Bill along with it.
  • In one episode of Futurama, when a giant ball of garbage sent up 100 years ago returns and threatens to destroy New New York, the Professor sends Fry, Leela, and Bender to plant a bomb on it to blow it up before it reaches Earth, otherwise it'll be too late. Unfortunately, when they plant the bomb, they find that the Professor accidentally put the timer on upside down, setting it for 52 seconds rather than 25 minutes, forcing them to get rid of the bomb to save their lives, but losing their only chance to blow up the garbage ball. Fortunately, they get rid of it when Fry comes up with the idea to fight garbage with garbage.
  • Chicken Run has Rocky teaching the hens how to fly. However, he's soon exposed as a fraud: his "flying" involves being shot from an air cannon. The doomed chickens then resort to converting a henhouse into an aircraft to escape the Tweedy farm.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Excaliferb", the kids go on a quest to obtain a magical sword which is said to defeat Malifishmirtz. During the climatic battle, the sword falls apart and Phineas and Ferb are forced to fight with the Involuntary Shapeshifting potions they had been making earlier.
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