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  • A fairly common stock superhero plot consists of bad guys managing to finally defeat or capture the heroes, only to have the entire plan foiled by the appearance of an unexpected new recruit.
    • Justice League of America #4: The villain Xandor traps the Justice League in an unbreakable diamond, but is thwarted by the arrival of Green Arrow.
    • The Avengers #52: The Grim Reaper traps the Avengers in a death-like state with plans to finish them off permanently, until he is surprised and defeated by the newest Avenger; Black Panther.
    • Before that, the Mad Thinker has nearly defeated the Avengers when Hercules shows up, the Thinker lampshading he could never have calculated the arrival of a legendary demi-god into his schemes.
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    • In Justice League #4, the team is attacked by a powerful android who is specifically equipped to deal with each of them. The android is ultimately defeated by Booster Gold, who had only shown up to join the League earlier that very day.
    • As an homage to the above-mentioned Justice League story, Grant Morrison's JLA run had a two-part story where Connor Hawke (the second Green Arrow) is forced to rescue the team after they are ambushed and incapacitated by the Key.
    • In another Justice League story penned by Morrison, Prometheus's debut involved him taking down each member of the League with remarkable ease, having planned out their encounter to the letter. He hadn't planned that Catwoman would've snuck on board the Watchtower disguised as one of the reporters there for the day, and while he's trying to blackmail Superman into committing suicide on national television, she foils his entire plan by giving him a bullwhip to the nads.
  • Examples from Superman tales:
    • In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Batgirl's trap to expose Lex Luthor's crimes worked -ironically- thanks to The Joker and Emil Hamilton setting their own trap, and Supergirl making the sudden decision to fly to Gotham and help whether Batgirl liked or not.
    • In Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, Lex Luthor accidentally abducts Mary Jane Watson when he kidnaps Lois Lane, an act that got Spider-Man involved in stopping him. If Peter had not been there to stop Luthor and Doctor Octopus, Superman would have got to choose between stopping the tsunami and let Lex escape.
    • In Elseworlds story Superman vol 1 #149: The Death of Superman! Lex Luthor manages to murder Superman. He thinks he's going to get away with it and no one can stop him now, but an unknown girl wearing Superman's costume breaks into his secret lair, reveals that she is Supergirl, Superman's cousin and secret emergency-weapon, and she takes him away, bringing him to Kryptonian Bottle City of Kandor where he is put on trial for murder and sent into the Phantom Zone.
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    • In Who Took the Super out of Superman?, villain Xviar gaslights Superman into believing he can't use his powers as Clark Kent, irradiates him with a device which turns him into a ticking bomb and puts him through a Boss Rush in order to trigger a Super-Power Meltdown. While Xviar was enacting his scheme, though, Clark captured an Intergang boss who attempted to murder him and was subsequently called as a witness at the trial. Being in a hurry to go to the court, Clark picked up a spare suit from his office, which hadn't been tampered with by Xviar, and realized his powers still worked, ergo someone was manipulating him.
  • In IDW's Transformers comics, Shockwave's ultimate plan, stretching across over a dozen planets and thousands, if not millions of years, is given a good old monkey-wrench simply by the Dynobots looking for petty revenge. Getting things back on track when he wakes up takes a lot of speed chess, and a good couple of years.
    • Even now, his plans are still having consequences— mainly Ore-13, which helped drive the plot of the miniseries Revolution, which had villains from the newly-established Hasbro Comic Universe battling over it.
    • For the super-logical Shockwave Dinobots are his natural enemy - the first time they were created (for the sole purpose of stopping Shockwave from getting to the crashed Ark) he completely dominated them in battle, threw them down a cliff and started shooting at them from higher ground, knowing that they couldn't even fight back, but he overlooked the possibility that someone would be stupid enough to attack the cliff itself.
  • In a strange way this is the hat of Fantastic Four villain the Mad Thinker - he creates amazingly complex, unassailable plans at the drop of a hat, accounting for every possible action of his opponents. But, every time, there is some random variable (what he calls the "x-factor") that doesn't take into account and buggers up his calculations. Marvel Adventures Spider-Man once established that the Thinker hates Spider-Man because his precognitive Spider-Sense makes him the one person on Earth who can effortlessly derail the Thinker's schemes without even deliberately trying.
    • A short story placed during the Civil War has the Thinker putting a Lampshade Hanging on how often this "x-factor" (which more often than not is the "human" factor—as in, he cannot completely foresee how people will react) has come to bite him in the ass and warning Reed Richards that his complicated hyper-mathematics which show that the Super-Human Registration Act is the right thing to do cannot show what will people do if pressed. True to the Thinker's prediction, Reed's Straw Vulcan Well-Intentioned Extremist act ends up hurting his relationship with his wife Sue, who goes turncoat and becomes an important member of Captain America's Resistance, and even after the Pro-Registration side wins and Reed manages to successfully beg Sue to return, their relationship remains severely strained for a very long time. Other stories written much later showcased that in most alternate universes where the SHRA didn't ended up becoming the colossal shit-storm that Universe 616 had to endure, it was because Reed Richards did all the work by himself — turns out "too many cooks spoil the broth" can also apply to Illuminati conspiracies.
  • Also happens to the one-off villain known as the Destroyer in the first Human Torch solo adventure in Strange Tales. He uses the local newspaper to challenge the hero and successfully lures him into a trap – then he notices that there are also some curious teenagers around, and runs away in fear for his secret identity.
  • Zayne Carrick in Knights of the Old Republic basically sets in motion the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of the Jedi — the one that they were trying to escape by killing their Padawans — when he (unintentionally) misses the knighting ceremony and then escapes. He continues to thwart their plans, intentionally or not, ever since.
    • He also thwarts Arkoh Adasca's plan (with the help of Lucien and Alek) by tricking the Mandalorian leader into thinking Adasca is working with the Republic to trap him, which results in a three way brawl which culminates in Adasca's ship getting eaten by giant space slugs.
  • Runaways often sees villains' perfect plans ripped to shreds by Badass Normal Chase Stein, who claims to be street smart but as a fellow teammate inquired, "What street? Sesame?"
  • In The DCU, the Challengers of the Unknown are a team of adventure-seekers who miraculously survived a terrible plane crash, and therefore decided that they would willingly face any danger because, as they always put it, they were living on "borrowed time." It has recently been revealed that this is literally true: because they did not die on their appointed death date, the Challengers are the only people in the world whose fates are not recorded in the Book of Destiny. They can freely disrupt predestined events that would otherwise be literally inevitable, making them the ultimate example of this trope.
  • Subverted in the Dan Dare series Reign of the Robots, wherein the only person that the Mekon paralyses after capturing the group is Dare's bumbling aide Digby, on the grounds that "he has no brain, therefore there is no predicting his actions".
  • Groo the Wanderer: One of his more memorable derailings involved him going up against a mind-reading sorcerer. Groo fights his way to the sorcerer's throneroom, is confronted confidently by him... followed by a full page of the sorcerer making strange faces at Groo while the latter stared at him in befuddlement until he finally screamed "There's no mind to read!" and ran away.
  • In Cerebus the Aardvark, the title character possesses a "magnifier" quality that influences everything and everyone around him to varying degrees. This causes the plans of everyone who tries to do anything that directly involves Cerebus to succeed wildly then crash spectacularly.
  • Deadpool is frequently seen as such a rogue element that the guy who can copy someone's fighting style completely (Taskmaster) was still surprised by him.
    • In Cable & Deadpool #50 (the final issue of the series) the Savage Land mutate Brainchild is countering the moves of every other hero in their attack on his base, but none of his predictions of where Deadpool is are accurate; turns out DP took the "Super Mario strategy" and went through the sewer pipes.
  • Cyclops in the Ultimate X-Men arc Return of the King. Let us recap the situation so far. Magneto has regained his memories and is going on a rampage across the world with his acolytes while he waits for Forge to get his Doomsday Weapon ready. All the X-Men are either captured, killed, or on the run and still have no idea where Magneto's base is. It looks like all hope is lost, when Cyclops, who everyone thought was killed by Wolverine a few issues ago, is taken into Magneto's base as an injured mutant in need of healing. After recovering Cyke busts his way out and clues the other X-Men in on where the base is. All of this leads to a truly epic smackdown against Magneto and saving the world.
  • In one week-long FoxTrot series, Jason finds it impossible to beat one guardian monster in a video game, as it instantly squashes his character every time he tries. Paige, who almost never plays video games, takes the controller and gets by the guardian by simply walking around him.
  • Reggie Mantle tends to be this purely for the sake of being a dick in the Archie Comics. Most of the time.
  • Snively describes Sonic as this in the Archie Comics' 200th issue after the blue blur defeats Eggman yet again, causing the doctor to go mad.
    Snively: Eccentrics aside, he really is a genius. He can build the most amazing things and plot a hundred steps ahead ... And then there's you. All the building, calculating, and planning in the world couldn't beat you.
    • Snively's not the only one who's noticed this. Mammoth Mogul has told Sonic that he will not attempt to conquer the world while Sonic's alive. Eggman reasoned himself to a degree of sanity after he realized this, thinking that Sonic's near constant exposure to chaos energy has turned into a literal force of chaos.
      • Sadly, in Silver's timeline, this turned Mogul into his own spanner - because he refused to act, Princess Sally was roboticized, only being remembered as an unidentified traitor, turning her against the Freedom Fighters and helping to ravage Mobius.
  • Cebolinha/Jimmy Five from Brazilian comic Monica's Gang is known for "infallible plans" against Monica. They usually work up until a certain point, when "accomplice" Cascão/Smudge screws up, usually by revealing it was a plan.
  • In Tintin and the Picaros, Colonel Sponsz plots to have his old enemies (i.e. Tintin, Haddock and Calculus) be the subjects of a fake kidnapping by Tapioca's nemesis (and Tintin's old friend) Alcazar so they can all fall victim to an ambush on a back road. The spanner is a monkey in the road, which causes Alcazar's getaway truck to suddenly swerve the moment it comes into firing range.
In the Batman: Hush storyline, the entire plan might have worked except with a major element being Hush surgically repairing Two-Face's features so he could be a secret weapon. What he never counted on was the surgery also allowing Harvey Dent to reassert control, decide he wasn't going to work for a bad guy and throw the entire plan off-kilter.
  • In the Fables spinoff The Nearly Great Escape, Jack figures out that Goldilocks is working for Revise because she wears the same style of glasses that several of his minions wear. This is a complete coincidence, but it turns out that he was right anyway.
  • An early Spider-Man issue has Mysterio convincing Spider-Man that he's going insane, and then posing as a therapist who offers to help our web-headed hero. Of course, Mysterio then sets up more illusions to make Spidey think he's hallucinating again. Spidey's about to have a complete nervous breakdown when J. Jonah Jameson and Flash Thompson, who had both heard about the therapy session and wanted to support Mysterio and Spider-Man (respectively) wander into the house. When they start seeing and reacting to the same "hallucinations", Spider-Man realizes that he's being conned, and swiftly defeats Mysterio. It's later lampshaded when Jameson realizes that Mysterio was on the verge of making Spider-Man reveal his Secret Identity, and that his own arrival torpedoed the whole plan. After that, Jameson is the one who seems like he needs therapy.
  • In Justice, Lex Luthor and the other bad guys come up with an extremely brilliant plan to destroy the heroes. It almost works, but they ignored a few guys like Captain Marvel, The Phantom Stranger, and The Metal Men.
  • Batman, or rather Bruce Wayne, was this to the Court of Owls. For centuries they have used entertainment venues like Haley's Circus to recruit youths and brainwash them into their loyal elite Talons. They had planned to do the same to Dick Grayson (a descendant of one of their most successful Talons), but the deaths of Dick's parents and his immediate adoption by Bruce Wayne afterwards placed him out of their reach.
  • Margaret from Yoko Tsuno's story The pray and the shadow. Forced by her boss to be his adoptive daughter Lady Cecilia's Body Double and be a part of his cruel plan to get said daughter killed and inherit her wealth, Margaret is shit scared of continuing in the plot, and she secretly contacts Yoko to both help save Cecilia and free herself from her evil boss...
  • The Minute Men in 100 Bullets become this in the end. The whole series is a giant game of chess, but nobody ever thought to tell the most powerful pieces on the board. They never get a single answer to any of their questions and end up ruining every single character's master plan simply because they have nothing better to do.
  • A tragic one in Batman: No Man's Land. With Gotham's No Man Land status lifted, The Joker decides to squash that happy feeling by kidnapping and planning to murder every baby born during NML. In the search for the clown and the children, Sarah Essen-Gordon's radio is smashed, leading to Commissioner Gordon to tell her to head back to GCPD HQ to get a new one. What no one realized until too late was that that's where the Joker was hiding! By the time they get there, the Joker surrenders... only after shooting Sarah in the head in front of the kids.
  • In the Vampirella story "The Resurrection of Papa Voudou" Paul Giraud manages to stagger into the ritual chamber, where he falls beside the altar. As a result, the spell intended to resurrect Papa Voudou splits its power between repairing the villain's mind and restoring Paul's body. Thus, Papa Voudou is raised as a sapient zombie but his body remains decayed.
  • The Deadpool arc of Ultimate Spider-Man has the titular mouthy Merc being hired to kidnap the X-Men, fly them to Genoshia, and hunt them on TV. Things hit a bump when Spidey winds up brought along for the ride due to poor timing, which throws Genoshia's whole strategy out of whack. Deadpool himself sums up partway in that the hunt isn't going well because Spidey is the only thing they didn't plan for.
    Professor X: I'd like to thank you, Mister Parker. Things might have turned out very different if you hadn't been there to balance the odds in our favor.
  • In the Xadhoom trilogy of Paperinik New Adventures, the Evronian plan to defeat Xadhoom fails twice because of the titular hero showing up where he had no place to be:
    • initially the cruiser Zermatt is sent to capture Xadhoom for all the five seconds they need to teleport her where the Evronians are keeping hostage the Xerbians, her people, thus forcing her to surrender. They manage to do so before she grows bored and wrecks everything, but Paperinik, who has wandered around the ship, has tried some sabotage, and the teleporting device ends up sending Xadhoom back on the ship, and annoyed to boot. The Zermatt is quickly disintegrated, with Paperinik wandering through space on one of the escape pods;
    • later the Evronian mobile homeworld stumble on the planet where the last free Xerbians had escaped, and use them and the other Xerbians to capture her. Thing is, Paperinik has wandered there and joins forces with the captured Xerbians, and manage to bring them what they need to assemble a device that free every single Coolflame on board (powered by Xadhoom's energy, that she provided when Paperinik showing up led one of the Xerbians to find out who she was and talk to her about their plan). And once the Coolflames and the Xerbians are in revolt, Xadhoom is free to kill the Evronian emperor, a majority of his council, and every Evronian who wasn't fast enough to run away at the first explosion.
  • In the Civil War II one-shot, The Accused, Matt Murdock is made the prosecutor for the trial of Hawkeye, who ended up killing Bruce Banner. However, he notices something wrong with how fast the trial is being pushed and, in his Daredevil persona, discovers a conspiracy to use the trial to push a second Super Registration Act. In the end, Matt is able to get Hawkeye proven innocent to prevent this from happening.
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Shattered Grid it turns out Finster-5 unwittingly lead to Lord Drakkon's defeat. Finster-5 sends Ranger Slayer - a Brainwashed and Crazy version of Kimberly from Drakkon's world - to find and rescue him only to completely miss and land in the past of the original Power Rangers. That point's Alpha 5 ends up freeing her from her spell and, as a last act, finds and hits Tommy with an arrow laced with the Green Chaos Crystal shard she used to try and find Drakkon. When Drakkon later murders Tommy, his soul is pulled in and is later able to free and resurrect himself.
  • In the Polish Cyberpunk comic Status 7: Overload the Terrorist plot is foiled because one of the terrorists put a killswitch in the virus so he could hold the city for ransom (The plan the rest of the terrorist group had involved launching the virus no matter what), this is further complicated by the killswitch itself being extremely complicated to trigger, with destroying either of the components making the virus impossible to disarm ( it's a random retina scan that has to be entered into a specific terminal, the former coming from a child trying to rob an ATM by using his dad's card making the terrorists think the retina scan was from the father, the latter is the terminal of the CEO of the Mega-Corp one of the main villains is working for, meaning if anyone tries to disarm it his boss will inevitably find out.)
  • In The Legend of the Chaos God, Solego's plans to escape his imprisonment and Take Over the World are constantly disrupted by the protagonists he runs afoul with Darkwing Duck being the biggest of them all.
  • Street Fighter: A large part of Cammy's eventual freedom from her brainwashing stems from Vega actively reprogramming her twice. Largely because he feels that beautiful people such as him and Cammy shouldn't have that done to them and partly because he just likes screwing around with Bison's plans.
  • The Life Story Of The Flash: While recounting the events of Barry's murder trial, Iris recalls that Abra Kadabra tried to manipulate the events of the trial so that Flash would be convicted and disgraced for killing Zoom...but Kadabra hadn't expected that Iris herself, having been saved by her birth parents just before Zoom could kill her, would be inhabiting the body of one of the jurors and thereby standing in the way of Kadabra's scheme.
  • The Hulk once witnessed a gigantic extraterrestrial energy beast materializing. Not knowing how to react, and being himself, he attempted to smash it and temporarily drove it away, thus preventing a properly equipped professional hunter from taking it down.


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