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Time for Plan B

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Plan B—sometimes it's so good, you actually want your other plans to fail.

"Next time, let's start with Plan B."

A Stock Phrase, generally said in the middle of an action scene when things are going wrong. There are two common forms of plan B: Run like hell and Boom! (When the two are mixed while you're doing a stealth mission, you get Starts Stealthily, Ends Loudly.)

Hilarity Ensues if it loops all the way to Plan Z. Or if the letter doesn't actually have anything to do with the number of plans before it (e.g., it's called "plan B" because it involves a trip to Belgium).

See also Never Recycle Your Schemes. May overlap with Crazy-Prepared when a character actually has an elaborate Plan B prepared. Gambit Pileup ensues if the enemy has their Plan B for your Plan B (and so on). For when Plan A was thought to be the only plan needed and its failure required an emergency fallback, see Plan B Resolution.



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  • This Jameson Irish Whiskey ad. As his city burns, John Jameson grabs an axe, intent on stopping once it reaches the doors of his distillery. "John Jameson devised a brilliant plan. But, there was simply no time, so he devised another, less brilliant plan." His not-so-brilliant plan is: open a dam and flood the city.
  • An Australian PSA against drink driving stated "RBT means you need a Plan B", i.e. Random Breath Testing (for excessive alcohol in drivers) means you need an alternate plan — call a cab, arrange alternate transport or find a hotel to sleep it off. (and probably not, as was also shown in the ad, a circus cannon, a teleportation booth, a litter carried by slaves...)

    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z (the dubbed version): Goku, early into his fight with Kid Buu. "Okay, onto plan b...whatever that is." (This being DBZ, it seems like "try that much harder to blow him up.")
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: When Ala Alba's original plan to get out of the governor's ball without fighting fails, they switch to "Escape Plan B". Of course, not all goes to plan...
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Pokémon: The Series—when one of Team Rocket's plans to steal Pokemon fails, they switch to Plan B, with Meowth suggesting that they should just start with Plan B. Then, when that plan is ruined, they lament not having a Plan C.

    Comic Books 
  • Hex has: "Looks like a good time for Plan B. Sure do wish I had me a Plan B." Followed a few pages later by "Looks like I just found me a Plan B".
  • Runaways gives us "We always use plan B. Why don't we just make it plan A?"
  • There's this great exchange in an issue of Sonic: Universe, where Shadow the Hedgehog and his "Team Dark" attempt to get a Chaos Emerald from the God-Panda currently lording over them in the "Special Zone." After failing the mini-game, Omega turns to Shadow and asks if it's time for plan B. Shadow answers in the affirmative and Plan B basically comprises entirely of Omega unloading his entire arsenal, which makes up over half of his total mass, in the God-Panda's face.
    Omega: I enjoy Plan B!
  • The Suicide Squad's "Plan B" is usually "have Lawton shoot our way out."
  • X-Men:
    • In Astonishing X-Men, Cyclops's Plan B for being fired upon by Breakworld ships was "we all die now". His actual plan was to get sucked into space where the Breakworld troops would capture him, revive him and torture him for the location of the ultimate weapon that the X-Men lied about having. Once he'd been there long enough for the rest of the team, who crash landed on the surface of Breakworld, to also get captured, Cyclops would re-activate his psychically suppressed optic blasts to break the team out.
    • From Uncanny X-Men 541:
      Mayor Sinclair: So — Plan B?
      Cyclops: No. Not Plan B. Plan 2. "Plan B" implies we only have 26.
    • From X-Babies (genetically engineered Chibi versions of the X-Men — it's a long story): During one issue where they are always barely escaping being captured, Cyclops yells "back to Plan B, everyone! RUN!" At this point Gambit snarks "No offense, but it seems to me you only got de ONE plan!"
  • "Looks like Gordon's about to call in plan B. B as in Batman."
  • In IDW's Magic: The Gathering comic, Dack Fayden's Plan B is "Run". Plan C is "Leave". There's a difference; Fayden's a planeswalker, so "leaving" means jumping to another world.
  • The Punisher's Plan B is to break out the M-60, the flamethrower, the Claymore mines, etc.
  • In the first issue of Youngblood (2017), after Petra's plan A to find the missing vigilante Man-Up (going to the cops and reporting him as a missing person) fails, she tries Plan B, contacting the Help app he'd been using for more information, which also fails, since the people behind the Help app aren't very helpful. Plan C, hitting the streets for information at least gets her Man-Up's real identity, but she finally goes straight to Plan "Y": using a new Youngblood team to help find him.
  • The Silver Age Superman had secret plans arranged with each of his friends, known by their initial, which they would carry out if he gave them the appropriate signal. He once activated Plan J-for-Jimmy by breaking one of the arms off a ship's anchor so that what remained formed a capital J. Fortunately Jimmy Olsen recognised this for what was intended rather than thinking it was just a show of strength.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: The Series:
    • Calvin's Plan B to get fireworks turns out to be flat-out begging for fireworks. It doesn't work.
    • In "The Black Turning Funnel Part 2", Calvin's Plan B is rocketing straight towards the tornado.
  • For the Glee fanfic Hunting the Unicorn, the Warblers have a list of Zany Schemes to keep Kurt from transferring back to McKinley High. The first two plans shown are Plans A and B, but the third is Plan M. And they later move to numbers.
  • After watching a particularly annoying (and terrifying) Angel die in the brightest, most spectacular, and most explosive way possible in the Neon Genesis Evangelion Fan Fic Nobody Dies, Misato Katsuragi says "I love those Plan Bs. It's the sort of plans I see through my eyelids."
    Rei: I love Plan B! It's always so much better than Plan A!
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged Piccolo's first plan involves Krillin performing a Heroic Sacrifice, while the second plan uses the Multi-Form technique. When Krillin criticizes the second plan for weakening them...
    Piccolo: Plan A or Plan B, Krillin!
    Krillin: Plan B, Plan B!
  • In I'm a Marvel... and I'm a DC, Plan Q is invoked by the Joker at the end of Happy Hour #5. Plan Q blows. Plan Q was actually Plan A for a while, but was downgraded by Luthor when he realized how dangerous it was. It should tell how bad it was when it dropped that far down the plan list.
  • During the Tipaan arc of The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, John, Paul, and Slavayat have worked out a plan for John and Paul to take the Cloud Horn from its escort as it wends its way through the Svenjaya tunnels. They also worked out a Plan B that involved only George and Slavayat. Unfortunately, while Paul and John are waiting for the escort to get to the kitchen area, John's anti-claustrophobia potion catastrophically fails, and he runs screaming from the meat locker where the two are hiding. All this is overheard by the others via Quill's magical flowers, and as they listen in dismay, Quill calmly says to George, “It appears you will now be moving to plan B.” Cue George fretting like crazy.
  • Much Ado About Shakespeare: Love's Labours Won: Horatio's first attempt to talk to Archie and confess his love fails because Archie doesn't react the way Horatio supposed he would. Hornblower, being the overthink-everything-and-plan-for-every-alternative guy that he is, has plan B — he admits that Archie has won the wager. That should cheer him up for sure. However, Archie wants to go to sleep and doesn't want to talk at all. So plan B fails also and it ruins plans C through E, too (those are not mentioned specifically). Plan F involves baiting Archie with a book of Shakespeare's sonnets Horatio bought earlier. And as Archie is a major bookworm, any new book is like catnip to him, so he falls for it.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: During "The Hero of Oaton", Trixie has a plan. Cheerilee has a Plan B. Cheerilee decides to implement Plan B ahead of Trixie's schedule. Trixie gets a little irritable about this. (Meanwhile, Raindrops thinks they could probably stand to make plans before giving names to them).
    Trixie: Plans were made! By me! Not my fault we never stick to my brilliant and well thought through plans.

    Films — Animation 
  • Lampshaded in Wizards, when Mook 1, having seen that Plan A (machine gunning hostages) doesn't work, announces "Now for Plan B!" "What's Plan B?" asks Mook 2. "You'll see." And he blows up the temple. But they forgot to go outside first.
  • Somewhat inverted in 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure. Cruella met an artist and decided to steal the Dalmatian Puppies to make canvases out of them. When the artist wouldn't agree to this, she decided to get back to Plan A (namely, making the fur coat).
  • On The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Plankton complains that he has gone through Plans A through Y in trying to get the Krabby Patty formula. Then his computer wife Karen reminds him that there's another letter after Y, and so Plan Z goes into effect.
  • Titan A.E.: "Out of curiosity, was there a Plan B?" It turns out to be "Beat the ever-loving crap out of the guard" plan. Subverted in that beating the crap out of the guard was Plan A, which Preed interrupted by declaring that they needed "cunning and deception".
  • In Ballerina, Victor tells Félicie that he has a brilliant plan to escape from the orphanage, a plan so "A" that they don't need a plan B. When things start going wrong, the two start running together, him shouting that they need to activate plan B. Of course, she has no idea what this is.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Hudson Hawk. The title character apparently kills Tommy Five-Tone, so the Mayflowers can't use Tommy to convince him to work for them. Minerva Mayflower turns to her operative George Kaplan:
    Minerva: Plan B, George.
    George: Plan B?
  • From Star Trek V, the Enterprise doesn't have time to tractor the shuttlecraft carrying Kirk and company back aboard because of a cloaked Klingon Bird-of-Prey nearby.
    Kirk: Prepare to initiate Emergency Landing Plan "B".
    Chekov: What's Emergency Landing Plan B?
    Scotty: I haven't a clue, lad.
    Kirk: "B" as in "Barricade".
  • Bad Boys II has one of these toward the end where the thoroughly improvised plan B consisted of driving what looks like a Humvee through the house, but definitely did not involve a bigass gun.
    Marcus: What the hell does the B stand for? Bullshit!
    • And later:
      Marcus: This is plan B?!
      Mike: No, this is definitely plan C.
  • The Lost Boys. When their first encounter with the vampires doesn't go according to plan, Sam and the Frog brothers have to go to Plan B. They don't have a Plan B yet and have only two and a half hours to come up with one.
  • Condorman. The hero Woody overhears his CIA friend Harry telling his boss that if Woody's plan fails, they can always go to Plan B. Woody gets captured and is being hauled off to prison by a detective.
    Woody: (despairingly) So much for Plan B.
    Detective: (Harry in disguise) Hey, ugly American. Remember Plan B? This is it.
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space was executed because Plans One through Eight failed.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard film gave us the line: "Plan B's jes' a fancy way of sayin' 'drivin' by the seat o' yer pants'."
  • Face/Off: "Okay. Plan B. Let's just kill each other."
  • The Tag Line for the movie version of The A-Team: "There is no Plan B."
  • Naturally mentioned frequently in the movie Plan B. A woman is forced by the Mafia to kill various mob leaders, but decides to think of an increasingly complicated way of getting out of this.
  • And then there's the other movie titled Plan B, which revolves around Bruno's various plans to win his ex-girlfriend Laura back. Plan A was just asking Laura to dump her boyfriend and get back together with Bruno. Plan B? Seducing said boyfriend, who's allegedly bisexual.
  • In Fast and Furious 6, Shaw hijacks a tank in the middle of a heist, screwing up any plans to stop it. Tej freaks out upon seeing the tank, saying, "We need a Plan B, C, D, E; we need more alphabets!"
  • In Revenge of the Sith, Anakin's plan for getting out from between a set of ray shields is to wait for Artoo to show up and let them out. Sure enough, Artoo shows up shortly thereafter... and is immediately captured by a bunch of battle droids.
    Obi-Wan: Do you have a plan B?
  • Used in Entrapment when Gin and Mac must escape from the Petronas Twin Towers after making a multi-billion dollar heist. Mac's Plan B is a mini parachute when they have to jump down a vertical shaft to evade the police. Mac stayed behind when they only have one parachute after one of them dropped. It turns out that Mac works for the FBI in pursuit of Gin, which he confess to her at the train station. Mac has a Plan C giving an envelope with money and passport to Gin allowing her to escape the country.
  • From the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The Avengers (2012) - Iron Man tries to simply blast Loki's Tesseract-powered portal device, only for it to protect itself with a force field. As the armor he's wearing is already on his last legs, he goes for "Plan B" - stall Loki while J.A.R.V.I.S puts the last-minute touches on his newest suit.
    • Spider-Man: Far From Home - While Spider-Man takes on Mysterio's drones, Happy Hogan lands the Stark Quinjet and contacts Peter's friends, whom Mysterio has targeted, to get them to safety.
      Hogan: I gotta get you guys out of here! Get on the jet!
      MJ: Who are you?
      Hogan: I work with Spider-Man!
      Flash Thompson: You work for Spider-Man?
      Hogan: I work with Spider-Man, not for Spider-Man! [drone suddenly blows up the jet] New plan!
  • Interstellar. Professor Brand has two plans to save the human race. Plan A is he will study the wormhole to understand enough about gravity to stage a mass evacuation of Earth. Plan B is the astronauts take a human embryo bank to re-establish humanity from scratch on another world. However Brandt makes a Dying Confession that there never was a Plan A — it was just meant to give humanity false hope so Plan B could be implemented. Fortunately the protagonists find out a way of making Plan A work anyway.
  • Half Past Dead: After their primary getaway plan fails spectacularly and immediately, they demand the FBI send a helicopter for them to use as a getaway vehicle in return for not killing Justice McPherson and the other hostages.
  • Name dropped three times in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle:
    • When the Angels have to find a new way to escape once caught rescuing a US Marshal held hostage.
    • When Big Bad Madison Lee's original plan to sell off the names in the Witness Protection falls through, she plans to use a grenade to blow up a nearby Hollywood movie premiere.
    • The Angels' counter-plan to Madison's Plan B, where Bosley protects the crowd from the grenade she throws by smacking it back into the air before it explodes, making the crowd think the explosion was part of the action film's promotion.
      Bosley: Plan B stands for Plan Bosley!

  • In the Star Trek Expanded Universe novel How Much for Just the Planet?, by John M. Ford, the Diredei plan to stop the Federation and/or Klingons from exploiting their dilithium is called "Plan C". There was no Plan A or B; C stands for the keystone of the plan: "Comedy".
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog in Robotnik's Laboratory, they eventually have to resort to Plan D, which Sonic hadn't actually got as far as thinking up. Fortunately, a Contrived Coincidence intervenes.
  • One of the book titles in the Liaden Universe is Plan B. Plan B being the emergency "clan is under attack, everyone bug out, get weapons, and maintain radio silence" plan. It's pretty telling that Clan Korval has had this plan in reserve pretty much since they landed on the home planet. Word of God is that the title of the book was actually decided upon for them by fans during the long gap between their publisher rejecting further books in the series after the third (in which the name "Plan B" was first mentioned) and the authors learning they had an unexpected Internet fan movement. Fans kept asking them when Plan B was coming out, and they chose to take advantage of the name recognition when they found a publisher for future books in the series.

    In a way, Plan B was the authors' "Plan B", since they had not ever expected to be able to continue the series when the first publisher didn't want it. Word of God is also that "Plan B" was a working draft term for the real name of the plan, intended to be replaced in the edit process when they could come up with suitable Liaden nomenclature, but it somehow stuck.
  • From Good Omens, after Crowley has successfully killed one Duke of Hell, but failed to bluff the surviving one:
    Plan A had worked. Plan B had failed. Everything depended on Plan C, and there was only one drawback to this: he had only ever planned as far as B.
  • The Good, The Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison has "Grab the fish and run like hell." This is the subject of a magnificent call back in a later book when Plan A fails again.
  • Louis Sachar's The Cardturner:
    • Alton wants to win the Bridge championship for (and with) his dead Uncle Trapp. It all comes Down to the Last Play in which he and his partner Toni have strong hands ... that don't quite mesh.
      Alton: I have this rule. If you can see that plan A won't work, don't do it, even if you don't have a plan B.
    • In hindsight, his plan B was "hope the other guys make a mistake." That doesn't work either, but he comes up with a plan C — an Indy Ploy in which he dumps his highest cards, so he can win the hand with his medium-high cards.
      Trapp: Nicely played.
      Toni: Talk about wow!
  • The Jenkinsverse: In the Salvage series, Plan B is inevitably "Adrian runs in and kills everything, with his bare hands if need be." Considering he's a superhuman soldier (not to be confused with the Super Soldiers, who come later) in a 'verse where baseline humans are The Juggernaut, this always works. Adrian still hates it.
  • Limbo by Bernard Wolfe takes place in a post-WW3 society that has renounced war or even planning for war. When widespread sabotage and insurrection organised by the Eastern Union breaks out, President Helder announces they're dropping Plan A and going to Plan B, which from his description is clearly a long-held war plan. Later the protagonist hears on the radio that insurrection is also breaking out in the Eastern Union and comments bitterly, "Plan C. And twenty-three letters to go." Then the radio is cut off as the Underground City collapses, and he thinks that maybe the other side just went to their Plan D.
  • A quiet version is invoked in Guardians of the Flame, when Karl badly needs to return to the fantasy world he's just left. After overpowering gamemaster Arthur Deighton, Karl produces a skinning knife and warns him that either Deighton will help him or else "we'll have to go to Plan B." Deighton quickly agrees to help to Karl's relief, since he wasn't sure what Plan B actually was.
  • The Murderbot Diaries
    • In Exit Strategy, when things go From Bad to Worse the title character discards "Plan Actually Not All That Terrible" and shifts to "Plan Approaching Terrible".
    • In Network Effect after Murderbot is captured, the sentient spaceship Perihelion announces its intention to Colony Drop unless Murderbot is returned unharmed. After being convinced to adopt a more subtle strategy (distract with threats and negotiation while another SecUnit sneaks in and rescues Murderbot) it announces that "Plan A01: Rain Destruction has been superseded by Plan B01: Distract and Extract."

    Live-Action TV 
  • MythBusters is this trope. You'd be hard pressed to find one time when Plan A works without a hitch. On the off chance that Plan A does work, they generally go to Plan B! anyway.
    • When the build team tried busting their first myth, they didn't have a plan B, causing Adam to comment that they usually only get it right on plan D. Which is why they always say "Failure is always an option".
    • Hilariously, inverted at one point. Plan A worked so well, they couldn't use the myth. (Said myth? Buncha chemicals in a van could explode when you use the auto-unlock. The Build Team went straight for full scale because they were told by experts the van wouldn't blow up. The van did blow up.)
  • Each episode of Blackadder Goes Forth (in which Blackadder tries a different method to escape the trenches) is given a letter in the opening credits.
  • Colonel O'Neill of Stargate SG-1 is well-known for saying this line and then poking fun at it.
    • One memorable exchange (from "Orpheus"):
    O'Neill: It's time for plan B.
    Carter: We have a plan B?
    O'Neill: No, but it's time for one.
    • From episode "Evolution Part 1":
    O'Neill: Reynolds, I want flanking positions set up on either side of the clearing. Rig the perimeter with C4.
    Colonel Reynolds: Not much faith in Plan A?
    O'Neill: Since when has Plan A ever worked?
  • Stargate Atlantis: Even that wasn't the real plan at all. It was a diversion that McKay wanted the Replicators to learn about when they mind-probed their prisoners, so they wouldn't go looking for the real plan.
    O'Neill: So I guess that "frozen replicator" plan didn't pan out for ya?
    McKay: Yeah, not so much.
    O'Neill: How's that plan B workin' for ya? Good?
    McKay: Actually, it's more like plan C. As in, C4? You catch my drift?
    O'Neill: No.
    McKay: Let's just say, we're concerned the Daedalus won't be able to carry out your standing orders.
    Woolsey: What? To destroy Atlantis with nuclear weapons, I thought we were past that! Why we're going back to that?
    McKay: Hey, it's the only way!
    O'Neill: Can you do that?
    McKay: Yes, if we plant charges on all ten of the shield emitters before the Daedalus arrives. That way, when the replicators try to activate the shield...
    Woolsey: ...the C4 detonates, the Daedalus beams a warhead into the city and we all get vaporized!
    O'Neill: Sounds more like a plan F, doesn't it? As in, we're totally
    McKay: Look, if we fight our way back to the underwater jumper bay then we will be able to fly to a safe distance! That is, if we can get the underwater bay door open.
    O'Neill: You can't even open this door!
  • 24 has a few examples:
    Andre Drazen: When Plan A fails, you should have a Plan B, not Plan A recycled.
    Andre Drazen: I appreciate the offer, Kevin, but as you Americans so often say, Plan B is already in effect.
  • From the Alias episode "Hourglass":
    Michael Vaughn: Okay, what's Plan B 'cause that's not going to happen.
  • From Andromeda:
    Seamus Harper: We needed a Plan B. You always have a Plan B.
    Dylan Hunt: My Plan B's work.
    Dylan Hunt: Plan B sucks.
  • From the Doctor Who serial "Battlefield":
    The Doctor: Ace... I think it's time for Plan B.
    Ace: We run?
    The Doctor: Yes! RUN!!!
  • Leverage uses this a few times.
    • In the pilot, to show off how Crazy-Prepared Nate is:
      Nate: Now get to the elevator and head down. We're going to the burn scam.
      Hardison: Going to Plan B?
      Nate: Technically, that would be Plan G.
      Hardison: How many plans do we have? Is there, like, a Plan M?
      Nate: Yeah. Hardison dies in Plan M.
      Eliot: I like Plan M.
    • "The Queens Gambit Job" contains this reference to just how many plans Nate usually works with:
      Sophie: So, what, the salt was plan B?
      Nate: No no, that was Plan M.
      Hardison: Don't I usually die in Plan M?
      Nate: Yeah usually.
      Hardison: What do you mean "usually"? How many plans do I die in?
      Nate: C, F, and N through Q...
      Hardison: "C"?!
    • "The Boiler Room Job" inverts the trope. Hardison gets caught hacking into the mark's finances to steal his money, and the team invents a reason to cover up his presence that leads to an elaborate con. At the end of the episode, it turns out that the con was itself a cover... to distract the mark, allowing Hardison to hack into his finances and steal all his money, which Nate refers to as "going back to plan A".
    • In "The Gold Job" Nate reveals that when he plans out a con, he starts with Plan G as the worst case scenario plan where they still succeed in their mission. He then works his way to Plan A as the most elegant way to beat the mark. It is implied that plans after G are desperation plans where they are pretty much just trying to get away with their lives. Since Hardison was in charge of Plan A in that episode, Nate was implementing Plan G behind his back just in case Plan A backfired (which it did).
    Nate: You can't count on the perfect plan, the perfect plan has too many moving parts. You have to count on the perfect plan to fail, that's what I do.
    • In "The Lost Heir Job", Parker and Eliot are rushing to the courtroom, pursued by cops, Nate (pretending to be a lawyer) is running out of time and the opposite side's lawyer just showed up.
    Hardison: I hope you have a Plan B, or F, something from the first half of the alphabet.
  • Though he never says the exact phrase, Burn Notice's Michael Westin never has a Plan A work. Ever.
  • Mocked gently in Puppets Who Kill, which Buttons the sex-crazed teddy bear always has a plan B.
    "...and if that doesn't work, I go to plan B."
    "Plan B?"
    "I have sex with them. ...sometimes I just skip straight to plan B..."
  • An episode of The Big Bang Theory had Howard, Raj, and Sheldon trying to get a crashed Mars Rover functioning again, but when it wouldn't work, Howard moved to Plan B: erase all the data, wipe their fingerprints off everything, and run away. Sheldon then remarks, "Why wasn't that Plan A?"
  • House. The first theory is nearly always a fail. He gets it right somewhere around "Plan J", and then realizes "Plan C" was the right one all along.
  • A running gag on Get Smart had Max in a fix - he'd declare "I have a plan" and explains it - 99 (usually) would point out the very obvious flaw - Max would declare "I have an alternate plan."
  • When the lawyers of The Practice were defending a client, and it wasn't going so well, they would explicitly switch to "Plan B", namely accusing someone else, usually a grieving relative of the victim, of committing the crime. Used as a transitive verb, e.g., "We're going to Plan B the brother." The phrase was used so often, many witnesses were aware of Plan B and would anticipate it, and the firm was sued for doing it. By contrast, Plan A "Establishing the State did not meet their burden of proof" was only described once (when they were being sued for Plan B).
  • Farscape:
    • In the episode "We're So Screwed", they end up going with "plan E... for elevator".
    • The first part of the "Liars, Guns, and Money" trilogy is called "A Not So Simple Plan". Predictably, part 3 is called "Plan B". However, this is pretty funny considering that they end up playing Xanatos Speed Chess as everything imaginable goes wrong. By that episode they're WAY past Plan B.
  • Warehouse 13 has:
    Myka: Okay, what do we do now?
    Pete: Plan B.
    Myka: What's Plan B?
    Pete: I was hoping you knew.
After Pete actually comes up with a Plan B, this is quickly followed by:
Myka: I think we should go with Plan C.
Pete: Okay, what's Plan C?
Myka: I run away and you get pummeled.
  • On Gossip Girl Blair always has a Plan B and usually a Plan C. Chuck tends to have backup plans also.
  • At the conclusion of Torchwood: Miracle Day an agent of the Three Families reveals that even though the Miracle was undone, they had a Plan B prepared...
  • Person of Interest ("Wolf and Cub"). Reece's Batman Gambit to take down the bad guys having gone pear-shaped, he calls Finch and tells him to bring the bag labeled 'Plan B'. It contains a pump-action shotgun. Over the course of the series, the bag gets several new items ranging from a SPAS-12 shotgun to a high-calibre sniper rifle.
  • In the Supernatural:
    • From "All Dogs Go to Heaven"
      Sam: So. Plan B?
      Dean: We've got one?
    • In "Shut Up, Dr Phil", Plan B involves trying to talk the Monster of the Week out of killing you. It actually works!
      Sam: If you can't kill them, counsel them!
    • In "What's Up Tiger Mommy?", after Plan A, B and C fail, Crowley sarcastically suggests our heroes go to "Plan D, for Dumbass."
  • Battlestar Galactica:
    • Used several times in Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome as Adama and Coker are in a middle of a Old School Dog Fight; when the rear guns go off line, Adama decides to fly the ship through a moving piston.
      Adama:Time for plan B.
      Coker: We've got a plan B? (realizing) No, no, no! You'll never make it!
    • Then used as a call back at the end of the series where Coker says "time for plan B" to Adama. You get the impression it was going to be a common bit if the series ever got green-lit.
    • In Battlestar Galactica (2003) Helo and Sharon find that the Cylons have discovered her Raptor and are stripping it. Helo asks what her Plan B was. Sharon replies that it was the same as Plan A — get back to her Raptor and fly the frak off this planet.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. In "Juggernaut" the crew of Voyager have to repair a Malon toxic waste freighter before it explodes, destroying everything in three light years (including them). In case the Away Team can't repair the vessel, Captain Janeway orders Plan B to be prepared, in which Voyager will push the freighter into a nearby sun. Seven of Nine prepares the necessary calculations, then provides a Plan C in case that doesn't work. Tuvok says it's unlikely given Janeway's past success record...then pointedly asks if there's a Plan D. There isn't.
  • Angel. Angel is arming himself to the fangs — throwing star, knife at his waist, knife at his ankle, arm-sheath stakes...
    Wesley: What happened to calmly, cautiously, and deliberately investigating before rushing in?
    Angel: That was Plan A. We’ve since moved on to Plan B.
    Wesley: And Plan B is?
    Angel: (twirling an axe) Do I really have to explain it to you, Wesley?
  • Played With in NCIS: Los Angeles when Hetty asks Callen if he's prepared a Plan B for an upcoming op. Turns out that he and Sam haven't yet figured out who's in charge of coming up with Plan A, let alone Plan B, so neither plan is ready to go.
  • Squid Game: When Team 4's original plan for tug-of-war starts to fail, they have to think of a new plan. Sang-woo suggests that everyone takes three steps forward to make the opposing team fall over, and then start pulling the rope again when the opposing team is on the floor. Sang-woo's idea works, and Team 4 wins.
  • And plans C and D, and so forth as needed in the case of the Harvest from Utopia. For example, Michael Stearns. They initially intercept his request for samples of blood from children supposedly infected with the flu, so that he'll see that it's apparently the same he discovered and greenlight an immediate emergency use authorization for his vaccine/cure. When this doesn't work, they concoct a plan involving twins to make him think that he cured one. This works and he pushes for the vaccine to be released, but then he starts getting suspicious. So they launch "Operation Fun," which involves activating his wife Colleen in her sleeper agent role and threaten to frame him for having complied snuff porn on his laptop if he doesn't tow the line. This works too, at least until Jessica Hyde and the others come busting into the house and blow the whole thing wide open.

    Video Games 
  • Supreme Commander had a little fun with this; the Cybran nuclear missile submarine is called Plan B.
  • Fallout has what players have dubbed "Plan C", which comes into effect if they have managed to somehow softlock themselves out of a quest-resolution. It adds up to killing everything in the vicinity.
  • In Modern Warfare 2, Plan B always involves C4. No exceptions.
  • In Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, after Kaos' army is driven back by the Skylanders, his goblin sidekick suggests Plan B. Kaos decides to skip all the way to Plan Z, and summon a giant monster to pretty much nuke Skylanders HQ and the Core Of Light. To his credit, it's very effective.
  • In Alpha Protocol, you get a perk called "Plan B: Kill It with Fire" for setting 25 enemies on fire with incendiary grenades.
  • Joel from The Last of Us asks Bill what Plan B is when the needed car parts seem to be missing, and is informed that "that was Plan A, B, C, all the way to fuckin' Z!"
  • The stealthable missions in PAYDAY 2 usually have a Plan B in case the alarm is set off, often in the form of C4, drills, or both. Most characters mention "Plan B" if things go loud, and Dallas may state that he "never liked Plan A anyway". Stealth-only missions like Shadow Raid are the exception, where the Plan B is instead "run like hell".
  • In Poker Night 2, Sam decides to go to Plan B after wondering what his partner Max would do:
    Sam: Now what would Max do in this situation?
    Max: Ahh! Black Hawk Down! Black Hawk Down!
    Sam: Okay, Plan B.
  • In Halo 4 after Plan A, an Airstrike Impossible with a nuke, fails when the Broadsword crashes, we get this:
    Cortana: Now what?
    Chief: [takes warhead out of missile and clips it to his armor] Plan B.
    Chief: Plan B.
    Weapon: Are we only at B? Seems higher. (Beat as both look in the direction of a rumble in the distance) OK... plan B.
  • Mega Man 11 gives us this wonderful exchange after beating Wily yet again.
    Doctor Wily: You leave me no choice... Time for Plan B! (Wily jumps backwards, with the Speed Gear effect, and immediately starts groveling at Mega Man's feet) Spare me! I'm a helpless old man! Mercy, Mega Man!
  • MegaMan Battle Network 3 has KingMan.EXE who enacts "Plan-B" depending on how MegaMan is getting the upper hand against him. One such variation involves trading a pawn for an extra knight.
  • In Final Fantasy X-2, Yuna and her team are tasked with defeating the fearsome machina weapon Vegnagun and the thousand year old malevolent spirit named Shuyin controlling it. There's a lot of talk about The Power of Love and asks if Yuna's plan is to defeat Vegnagun by showing him the light of love for him, specifically that of his lover Lenne's words that he never heard. She tells him that that's plan B, but first since Vegnagun is just a machina, they should be able to take it apart. Later, after the party wins one of the battles with Vegnagun, Nooj asks "What now?" and Rikku suggests "Maybe we're finished?" The voice of Baralai, whom Shuyin is possessing replies "Finished indeed. All of Spira is finished!" and Rikku shouts "He's got a plan B too!" However, the voice of Auron assures them that "He's panicking. Yuna. End it now." The party is finally able to defeat Vegnagun, but ends up having to go to plan B anyway when Shuyin still won't give up.
  • In the first Gears of War game, Marcus and Dominic end up having to fight a berserker on a train. Marcus wants to drop the Hammer of Dawn, but is informed that he can't because of the sheer number of nemecyst inking the sky. Neither Marcus nor Dominic has a Plan B, though, so they end up improvising by luring the berserker to the last car of the train, then cutting it loose.

    Web Animation 
  • Decline of Video Gaming Part 3 comments on the general superiority of the backup plan in all instances.
    Dan: Oh please... I really don't think that's going to happen.
    Head of Konami: Fine! Time for plan B!
    (plan B works quickly and without complication)
    Head of Konami: Why is Plan B always the better one?
    To clarify
    Plan A was some horribly complicated thing to kidnap the protagonists to force them onto a game show to be killed. Plan B is a tranquilizer gun.

  • Adventurers! subverts it in this strip because Plan B is just failure.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Belkar has a tendency to comment on this trope; in one strip he says "Run like hell" has always struck him as plan A, and later he spends a series of strips announcing the letter of every new plan his teammates come up with.
      Belkar: Didn't we go through this already? We're on like plan Q.... And plan R starts to take form.
    • When Roy, Durkon and Belkar are attacked by a whole squadron of troops from the Empire of Blood, and Durkon points out that he's out of spells until he can pray at dusk, Roy says "Let's call surviving until dusk, 'Plan A.'" He's clearly implying that there's no way they can as such, outnumbered as they are, and that it's more than time for a plan B.
  • Gets mentioned a lot in Schlock Mercenary. Usually whenever anyone suggests a plan along the lines of "and we run in, shoot everyone, blow some things up, and run away" (whatever the actual mission), the response will be "Well, we've got a Plan B". Some specific examples include:
    • Here is where we find the shortest amount of time it takes to go from Plan B to Plan C.
    • Another honorable mention is having to jump from Plan A straight to Plan E. Which then immediately becomes screwed up and the whole thing turns into an Indy Ploy (aka "25 minutes of winging it").
    • Then there's A Simple Plan to save people in abandoned habitats—habitats that have been left unharmed for years, with no reason to suspect that things are about to go wrong.
      Commodore Tagon: Sure, that would be a great solution. Let's call that "Plan A."
      Captain Murtaugh: Also known as "Ablative armor that probably won't protect Plan B."
      Captain Tagon: Plan B always takes the bullet for Plan C. That's why the alphabet has more than three letters.
  • Freefall:
    • When Mr. Kornada's plan to replace Florence with a clone, and Sam's plan to trick him into believing it has been done, hit a problem.
    Sam: So much for plan A. No worries. Plan B's are more fun anyhow!
    • Inverted when Florence's plan to infiltrate the Ecosystems Unlimited secondary servers is derailed, then re-railed by Sam's quick thinking.
    Florence: Well, I guess it's back to plan A then.
  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • This strip is fairly indicative of how most of Red Mage's plans work. Which is to say, they don't.
      Red Mage: Okay. Plan B. Do we have one?
    • Then there are the other names they use for plans, including "Plan Suck" and "Plan Stupid, in honor of its creator, Mr. Stupid".
  • Late in its run, sprite comic Bob and George has a couple of alphabetical-contingency plans called by letter — namely "Q" and "R".
  • The Whiteboard: When surrounded by the other team at an "outlaw" paintball fieldnote , in this strip, the team goes through their options, including Attack Plans B, Delta, and Zero (the last involving two zeppelins and a smoke machine).
  • Magick Chicks: Faith had arranged the pool party in the hopes of gleaning information from the Hellrunes about the wand. But when she questioned Jacqui, she got hit with a nonstop wall of blather for over ten minutes straight! Which caused Faith to actually lose her composure, for once, and bolt for the door, telling Sandi they were moving onto Plan B.
  • Vampire Cheerleaders: Leonard confronted Lori and her Coven, near the end of vol.1, and threatened to expose them as vampires. So Lori immediately tried to silence him, but he had taken the precaution of loading himself with garlic and Listerine; which had made his blood toxic to her. Which is when she resorted to Plan "BC": screw him.
  • Zukahnaut: When Zukah realizes that punches aren't getting him anywhere, his next instinct is to blow stuff up.
  • Servants of the Imperium: When a moon is crumbling around them...
    Severus: Okay, Lyle, time for plan Beta.
    Lyle: Would that be "run like hell," my lord?
    Severus: Indeed it is.
  • In Arthur, King of Time and Space, during the presidential campaign in the contemporary arc, President Roman gets hold of material that he thinks will win him the election, but is told to hold it back to October so Arthur's campaign can't refute it. A flashforward to when he does so, has Lancelot say it's too late for Plan A, and Arthur reply that he preferred Plan B anyway. When the strip catches up to the flashforward we learn that the material is naked photos of Guenevere, and Plan B is for Arthur to point out that the pictures are of a naturist at home, and there's nothing salacious about them and then prove the point by stripping himself.

    Web Original 
  • The 1250 Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG gave us the masterstroke of logic, "Plan B is not automatically twice as much gunpowder as plan A."
  • Whateley Universe: A villain has Plans A-Z, and goes over them exhaustively. Things pretty much work out without a hitch; he does NOT have to even go to Plan B! He was out-gambitted. The thing he was stealing was trapped, and he ended up in Ayla's pocket.
  • Discussed in Chapter 35 of Pay Me, Bug!, where they mention that they hope Plan A works, because Grif's Plan Bs tend to suck.
  • Played with hilariously in the SCP Foundation story, "Duke 'till Dawn."
    Interviewer: So tell me, Dr. Clef, what if all of this wasn't part of some plan, and [Kondraki] been making it up as he went along?
    Clef: [laughs] In that case, sir, I'd say that Dr. Kondraki was a suicidal fool. But he certainly wouldn't have...
    Interviewer: ...
    Clef: ... he did?
    Interviewer: I have here a copy of Dr. Kondraki's termination procedure proposal. Step one is his plan to use cat urine and a pistol loaded with silver bullets. Backup plans two, three, four, and five are listed as, and I quote, "Wing It," "Make Something Up," "Cross That Bridge When I Come to It," and "Put My Head Between My Knees and Kiss My Ass Goodbye".
  • In Dream's Grand Finale video, (34:50) Dream and the hunters have a conversation about the plans the hunters make. Dream thinks that, since his End Crystal trap didn't work, the hunters have made actual plans.
    Dream: Usually, I feel like you guys, when you just say plans, like as a meme, you're like, "Plan Seven!" But in this case, I feel like "Plan B" is like, you literally, actually have plans.
    George: It's a reputable name.
    Bad: An actual plan.
    Sapnap: Guys, execute Plan 74-35B!

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles had a great time with this in their Halloween episode. Xanatos' Plan C to help Fox (having already burned through Plans A and B) is tricking Goliath into doing the dirty work, but...
    Goliath: (entering the scene) I don't suppose you have a Plan D?
    • Xanatos then caves and straight-up asks Goliath for help, prompting:
      Elisa: Don't even think about it, Goliath! Can't you see? This is Plan D. If it fails, he'll move on to E or F.
    • For the record, Plan E is the one that works, but it really illustrates how desperate Xanatos had become: tail Goliath and hope he changes his mind.
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series
    Lucky: Lieutenant! Push the cage release button!
    Lt. Pug: I don't take orders from you!
    Lucky: But that was part of your plan. Plan C. Remember?
    Lt. Pug: Of course I remember. C for..."Cage Release".
  • The Simpsons: Homer buries all Springfield's rubbish (and that of other cities) beneath the town. When it all starts to come back up, Mayor Quimby activates the town's "all-purpose contingency plan" also known as Plan B which is to move the whole town 5 miles down the road.
    • When Burns decided to pick a local boy to be his heir, Milhouse was one of the rejects. After that, Lisa tried to persuade Burns into accepting the possibility of his heir being a woman but he was quite clear on that: no girls. Cut to a scene with Milhouse dressed as a girl commenting "So much for Plan B".
  • On one episode of Hercules: The Animated Series, Phil and Hercules go from Plan Alpha all the way to Plan Omega in trying to retrieve a secret weapon from Ares.
  • The Real Ghostbusters had one of these (in a moment where the guys actually bothered to plan beyond "kick in the door, zap the ghost").
    Egon: I have a plan.
    Peter: No electro-shock, Egon.
    Egon: I have another plan.
    • In the episode "Rollerghoster", after Ray's efforts to negotiate with ghosts holding people hostage on a haunted rollercoaster lead to him becoming a hostage himself:
      Peter: Okay, Plan B.
      Egon: What's Plan B?
      Peter: That's where we do something that isn't stupid.
  • The Magic School Bus:
    Tim: Anyone have a good plan B?
    Wanda: There aren't any good plan B's, Tim! If they were good, they'd be plan A's.
  • DuckTales (1987) had an episode where Huey, Dewey and Louie break a clock while playing and secretly take it to a clockmaker, who says he can't fix it. They use "plan B": lie down on the floor and bawl until the clockmaker gives in. Later, when Scrooge is preparing to go into cyberspace to retrieve his money, Fenton repeatedly begs Scrooge to let him come along to make up for making Scrooge lose his money, but Scrooge won't let him. Fenton then declares, "Time to do what the nephews do! Plan B!" His "plan B" is to throw a tantrum until Scrooge gives in.
  • In The Penguins of Madagascar, when King Julien's blender won't work, he skips plans B through G for being far too dangerous and goes straight to plan H: have Mort fiddle with the underground electrical cables.
  • The eponymous heroes of Loonatics Unleashed almost always have a Plan B. This trope is induced so may times that once, after Ace spouts the Trope Name, Lexi follows with "Next time, let's start with Plan B."
  • SWAT Kats: Plan Z involves T-Bone cutting the Turbokat's engines in mid-air. Razor hates Plan Z.
  • As of season 2 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, this is Twilight Sparkle's catchphrase.
  • In one episode of Storm Hawks, Junko is hypnotized to become more aggressive to take part in a wrestling tournament. Unfortunately, Junko's new personality causes him to forget about his teammates, and when Aerrow is forced into the ring by Cyclonis, Finn has forgotten the words to undo the hypnosis.
    Finn: Anybody got a plan B?
  • Phineas and Ferb: Doofenshmirtz's Plan B in "Just Passing Through" is typically nonsensical:
    Doofenshmirtz: Behold, Perry the Platypus, Plan B!
    [His raygun explodes after Doofenshmirtz presses a button]
    Doofenshmirtz: ...Which I just destroyed so now we're even. But not even I am prepared for Plan C!
    • Plan B is also lampshaded in "Excaliferb!" after the titular sword's blade falls off.
  • Eek! The Cat: Four criminals stole a statue while disguised as the Squish Bearz but had no plan for what to do after that. Since they had no Plan B and couldn't come up with any, they decided to do Plan A backwards: take the statue back with the statue being disguised.
  • In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) episode “Nano”, Donatello’s first plan fails to stop the piecemeal robot controlled by the out-of-control Nano Machines (using a welding torch on it) he goes to plan B, knocking it into a car compactor. But that doesn’t work either. Raphael tells him he really hopes he has a plan-C, and Donatello actually does, which consists of grabbing it with a magnet crane and dumping it in a vat of molten steel, which works. (Until it comes back next the season, that is.)
  • In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: U.N.D.E.R.C.O.V.E.R.", Sector V tries to sneak up on the coffee drilling rig with Lenny's help in a helicopter by impersonating the Delightful Children's voices, but the villains are onto them. When Lenny nervously asks if they have a plan-B, Numbuh One responds that they "always have a plan-B!" and then hits a button on the dashboard labeled "Plan-B". (Causing the helicopter to transform into the S.U.B.S.T.A.N.D.A.R.D., a 2x4 Technology submarine. Unfortunately, that doesn't work very well either.)
  • An episode of Johnny Test had so many plans to retrieve a baseball go awry that the characters started arguing over which letter plan they were on.
    Johnny: Time for Plan K!
    Dukey: L.
  • Final Space: In episode 7, when Nightfall fails to convince her younger self Quinn that she will fail if she tries to save the Earth by herself, she decides to switch to Plan B, again. This plan involves killing Mooncake since he was responsible for the Bad Future she came from.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! special One Small Step, when the gang is heading back to Earth, Sydney reveals that she used the landing gear to fix the saucer. Jet says that it's time for Plan B, and Plan B involves manually deploying the landing gear himself.
  • Hey Arnold!: Two episodes of the show used the same gag when Arnold's initial plan to solve that day's problem failed:
    Arnold: Looks like we'll have to go with Plan B.
    Other character: What's Plan B?
    Arnold: I'll tell you as soon as I think of it.
  • Milo Murphy's Law: In "Star Struck", after his first two attempts to meet with actor Tobias Trollhammer fail, Milo decides to skip to "Plan H".
    Zack: What about C through G?
    Milo: I already went through them all in my head, and they don't work.

    Real Life 
  • Plan B is the name of an emergency contraceptive brand. Their advertising campaign says "If Plan A fails, go to Plan B..."
  • WD-40, the all-purpose <del>lubricant/de-greaser/de-ruster</del> water displacer, was so named because WDs 1 through 39 didn't work as well in testing.
  • On that note, a moment of silence please for the testers of Preparations A-G, not to mention the testers of Compounds A-V.
  • You gotta hand it to the guys that created Formula 409, they define dedication. Also according to a commercial, the world isn't ready for Formula 410. However, the inventor's son says it's "pure marketing bullshit" and that it was actually named after his mom's birthday, April 9. note 
  • Likewise, the cocktail P2 (30 ml Cariel vanilla vodka, 30 ml Sourz Apple, Sprite. Serve over ice in a highball glass, garnish with an apple slice). P stands for project, and Project 1 didn't measure up and was scrapped.
  • Similarly, the whisky blend "Vat 69". The creator made up 100 different blends in 100 different vats, and invited people over for a blind tasting, and a large number of the taste testers found the blend in vat 69 to be superior to the others.
  • Some Plan Bs even get their own facebook pages: Croke park Plan B
  • In the 2010 Copiapó mining accident the plan that actually succeeded in reaching the trapped miners was, you guessed it, Plan B.
  • "First rule of combat: have a plan. Second rule: Have a backup plan because the first one probably isn't going to work."
  • Plan. Make Plans A through Z-25. If those fall through, wing it


Video Example(s):


Plan B

While working on renovating Mt. Rushmore for Candace's birthday, the Fireside Girls block their work with a knockoff poster so Candace doesn't ruin the surprise.

How well does it match the trope?

3.5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / HideTheEvidence

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