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Basic Trope: One character starts a plan that benefits them regardless of whether it succeeds or fails, either because of a consolation prize or a hidden plan that is fulfilled by the foiling of the first.

  • Straight: The Evil Chancellor orders his Dragon to kidnap the young Princess and sends the brave Knight to save her. If the Dragon kills the Knight, he will then eat the Princess, leaving the Kingdom with no heir, in the hands of the Chancellor. If the Knight, by chance, slays the Dragon... well, then the Chancellor will be freed of the too independent familiar, and the Princess' secret Virgin Power will be conveniently sealed away, too.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed: If The Plan has five outcomes, the chancellor benefits from three.
  • Justified: The Chancellor is an experienced planner and expert at seeing the silver lining.
  • Inverted:
    • If the Dragon kills the Knight and the Princess, he will become powerful enough to break free of the Chancellor. If the Knight wins, he and the Princess will have enough evidence to expose the Chancellor. Either way, the Chancellor loses.
    • Pyrrhic Victory
  • Subverted:
    • The Knight has no chance to survive the battle but when he does, it suddenly proves beneficial for the Chancellor in the long run. Later on, he admits that this was pure chance.
    • The Knight talks the dragon into becoming his mount. The Chancellor did not plan for this.
  • Double Subverted:
  • Parodied:
  • Zig Zagged: The Chancellor is both such a lucky Consummate Liar and a brilliant tactician that no one can tell whether it was a part of his plan or by chance that he still benefitted in a way.
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  • Averted: The Chancellor simply unleashes his Legions of Hell to Take Over the World, no secret plans prepared.
  • Implied: The specific order in which the Chancellor performs his actions hint that he's prepared for something to not go as planned.
  • Enforced: "How can we paint the villain as highly intelligent?" "How about he creates a plan that will give him a victorious outcome no matter what happens?"
  • Lampshaded: "You see, Sir Knight, either way you acted, you would have played right into my hands..."
  • Invoked:
    • "I'm going to need a nice, near-unbeatable plan, something that will benefit me no matter what happens. Something where I end up controlling the kingdom no matter what... I've got it!"
    • This strategy was inspired by my hero, the greatest strategist of all time... David Xanatos!
  • Exploited: Bob's guessed Lord Evil's plan ahead of time and is launching his own to take advantage of the results.
  • Defied: "I don't have time to create a win/win situation; I'll just go shoot him and hope for the best."
  • Discussed: "This guy always seems to come out on top. It's like he's planned for every outcome."
  • Conversed: "Doesn't matter what they do, the Chancellor is going to come out smirking. Just watch."
  • Deconstructed: The Knight distrusts the Chancellor and instead of charging head on, checks the tabs and discovers his previous involvement with the Dragon. He then walks up to the Dragon and tells him the truth, breaking the gambit.
  • Reconstructed: The Knight figures out the Chancellor's plan and attempts to foil by talking with the dragon. Furious at being manipulated, the dragon flies off to attack the Chancellor. The Rescue Romance still goes off as planned (no more Virgin Power) and the Chancellor was prepared to flee from the dragon (he was getting too independent, after all). Many soldiers are killed and the castle is badly damaged before the dragon realizes that his true target isn't present, leaving it weakened and in confusion.
  • Played For Laughs: The Chancellor's Evil Gloating has him explaining every possible outcome in minute detail before the start of the climactic battle.
  • Played For Drama: The Chancellor's use of Xanatos Gambits paints him as highly risk averse and scared of failure, which leaves him with limited options in operating on the fly.

Your return to Xanatos Gambit was always part of The Plan... If you don't, my victory will be even more crushing. Take your choice, but it's not like it matters at this point.
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