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  • Corvo becomes this to the conspirators against the Empress in Dishonored. He returns to Dunwall two days earlier than expected, so Big Bad Hiram Burrows works this into his plan by framing Corvo for the murder of the Empress. Considering Corvo's in-universe reputation as a One-Man Army, this turns out to be a very bad idea. Not only does Corvo escape jail, he becomes the worst threat Burrows had ever faced.
    • The loyalist conspiracy gets this as well. Samuel becomes the spanner by only giving Corvo half the dose of poison meant to kill him, either out of loyalty to Corvo or because there's no one else who can stop them, depending on how chaotic Corvo's acted.
  • In Grandia II, this role goes to Millenia. The Big Bad's plan requires that all eight pieces of Valmar be absorbed by Millenia so that Valmar's resurrection can be brought about and the Big Bad can merge with him. What the villain didn't count on was Millenia refusing to absorb the Horns after they merged with Ryudo, and then sealing them inside Ryudo rather than risk killing him. As a result, not only was Valmar's resurrection incomplete, but Ryudo eventually used the Horns as a weapon to kill the villain.
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  • In The World Ends with You, Neku points out to a Manipulative Bastard that it is utterly impossible to predict what Beat is going to do. Heck, if you collect the Secret Report after the end of the game, even the Angel, Mr. Hanekoma, thought Neku was screwed before Beat's Heel–Face Turn, which was conveniently possible because of his Face–Heel Turn in the first place.
  • Persona 3. After his Reveal as The Chessmaster, Shuji Ikutsuki plans to sacrifice most of the party by forcing Robot Girl Aigis to murder them in order to bring about The End of the World as We Know It. He's just about to succeed... but at that point, the player is reminded that he forgot to crucify the dog, too.
  • White Knight Chronicles: You are this for Greater-Scope Villain Emperor Madoras. Or, rather, your custom character is. (The game features an incredibly robust character creation system, and it's an unwritten rule amongst the fandom that the avatar be based off of the player.) After sitting back silently during the story mode while (most likely, should you choose to play the game's plethora of side quests that require your avatar) being the most devastating character in combat, you are the only one able to take on Madoras in the game's bonus dungeon.
  • World of Warcraft:
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    • Every raid dreads the Leeroy Jenkins, who can ruin an otherwise carefully arranged plan of attack by charging in headfirst.
    • In Wrath of the Lich King, after Drakuru plays you for an Unwitting Pawn, you get to do this to his plans repeatedly, all while he thinks he's recruiting you.
    • Calia Menethil becomes this in the Before The Storm novel. Its central plot revolves around King Anduin Wrynn setting up a reunion of undead Forsaken and their human loved ones, separated by the fall of Lordaeron. Calia is the last living member of Lordaeron's royal family, and her being recognized is a concern because it might bring up more problems than it solves now that Lordaeron is the kingdom of the undead. Despite this, she makes a case to be allowed to attend the gathering itself and help with the reunions. However, one of the Forsaken there recognizes her, and that recognition starts a chain of events that leads to the deaths of every Forsaken in attendance and Calia herself, all at the hands of the Forsaken leader Sylvanas Windrunner, who immediately assumes that Calia, once she's revealed, is there as a usurper, and isn't entirely wrong either.
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  • Xenosaga: The entire plan of the Big Bad, that has taken centuries and all three games to complete, is undone because Allen can take a beating and look really pathetic while it happens.
  • A much more minor, but hilarious, example comes from Chrono Trigger. Ozzie, inept sidekick to the great Magus, was originally defeated by being dropped down a Trap Door. In his second coming, he's smart enough to make the switches instead drop the heroes down the trap door. When they come back, Ozzie's ready for anything... except for a not-so-random cat (if you get the regular ending, Chrono's cat(s) jump into the time portal), which wanders in, flips the wrong switch, and down he goes...
  • In Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, Lujei Piche apparently is stated to have ruined the effort involved in banishing Sulfur of Phantom Brave, sending him back to Ivoire as a Bonus Boss.
    • Revya and Gig, for all the multiple times they are Unwitting Pawns during the storyline, also become epic spanners: The demon path is basically you laying waste to the entire Gambit Pileup: Virtious, Thuris, Dio, Rashka and all the other manipulators' year-long plans are ruined by one free-roaming Omnicidal Maniac doing it For the Evulz.
  • In Fate/Extella, Elizabeth Bathory plays this role. She is corrupted by the Big Bad to further his plans. Unfortunately for him, not only does she have no desire to follow his orders, but she is also not the brightest mind around. In Tamamo's storyline, she was supposed to take all pieces of the Regalia and then destroy it. Instead, for some inexplicable reason she eats her own piece, baffling everyone who witnesses her action. In the final story arc, the Big Bad has the heroes cornered and all his bases covered. Elizabeth then decides to release the previously sealed Titan Altera to consume her powers. However, she only realizes that she doesn't have any idea of how to do that after she releases the seal. The newly freed Titan Altera promptly defeats her and arrives just in time to save the day. When the Big Bad realizes that it was her stupidity that ruined his plans, it sends him into a Villainous Breakdown.
  • Final Fantasy IV has the Dark Elf mess up Golbez's plans to steal the Earth Crystal from Troia by snatching it first and running off to a cave where he rendered metal weapons unusable. The Dark Elf did this basically because the crystal was shiny. Golbez works around this by sending protagonist Cecil to fetch the crystal in exchange for Rosa.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Vaan from Final Fantasy XII is the only one besides Ashe to see a loved one's image projected by the Occuria, in this case, his brother Reks. This implies that he would be a suitable and effective 'Plan B' to become the weapon which would destroy the Archadian Empire in revenge should Ashe falter. Probably due to his being both Dalmascan, and for, at the start of the game, harbouring resentment towards Archadia for the death of his brother. Instead, Vaan actually overcomes the illusions much more quickly than Ashe, ultimately providing a more virtuous role model, as seen when he refuses to take revenge on Gabranth for killing his brother. He may just have been the push Ashe needed to reject revenge at the story's climax.
    • It's not so easy to see because he's a minor villain, but the Dark Elf King Astos has been at his plot for years, then the Warriors of Light come out of nowhere, on a completely unrelated quest, and straight up murder him. And while it might seem like Astos spanned his own plot, his theory was that the artifacts he tricked the Warriors of Light into getting him would make him all-powerful, so revealing himself isn't stupid so much as Genre Blindness.
    • Dissidia 012 retcons it that just one Warrior of Light, who is a Manikin. This guy is such a spanner that he manages to bring down plots in two worlds without even knowing his own name, let alone his ridiculously complicated origin story.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV, it's Yotsuyu's burning hatred for her own countrymen that leads to Doma and Ala Mhigo's liberation. She had ruled Doma with a cruel and vicious fist, stomping down on her people in retaliation for the wrongs in her life. That meant that no one was willing to even lift a finger against their captors until the Scions arrive. When Zenos showed up in Doma, only Yugiri and the Warrior of Light were willing to challenge him, but their actions end up spurring up the rebellion Zenos hoped to crush during his visit.
  • Ash DragonBlade's story in DragonFable from Artix Entertainment consists of Ash foiling the plots of would be Big Bads through his own sheer stupidity.
  • In La Pucelle Tactics the plans of both Noir and the spirit infecting Croix are foiled not by the Maiden of Light, but by Priere, a newbie priestess who is perhaps the least likely person you'd expect being a nun, though she has a mean right hook and an even meaner set of legs.
  • In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time, Larkeicus does this to ''his own'' plan. He builds a tower to reach the point in the sky where the hero's going to cause the crystals 2000 years ago to vanish, and prepares for every possible outcome, including his own defeat. Too bad he forgot to consider how the hero would get that high up in the first place.
  • In Evil Genius, this can easily happen to the player if (s)he gets careless. Even the lowest of the agents of justice can become this if you neglect to pay attention.
  • Ditto Dwarf Fortress; the tiniest breach in your defenses (like a monarch butterfly flying into the main door and jamming it open) can lead to goblins cutting a swath through your dining hall, or a fortress-wide tantrum-spiral.
  • General Shepherd didn't expect one thing in Modern Warfare 2. SAS Captain John Price. Price firing the nuke at Washington caused Shepherd to resort to some Xanatos Speed Chess and move up his timetable for TF 141's disposal, but Price's willingness to co-operate with Makarov pushed him on to the defensive and gave him a knife through the eye.
  • In The Force Unleashed, the cunning plan created by Vader and Palpatine fell apart due to one bit of (bad) luck and one unforeseen relationship. The accidental wiping of PROXY's primary programming resulted in a Heroic Sacrifice when Vader tried to kill Starkiller, and the emotional connection between Juno and Starkiller meant she came back and rescued him after Vader's failed attempt to kill him. Starkiller himself then became the spanner when he went after Vader and Palpatine, saving the rebel leaders. The end result is that Palpatine and Vader ended up creating the Rebellion that eventually defeated the Empire. Oops.
  • The Alien protagonist in Aliens vs. Predator 2.
  • Mega Man ZX
    • The cornerstone of Master Albert's plan to become a god involved gathering the world's Model Ws and combine them into Ouroboros. However, aside from shitting out Mavericks like an ominous ring of land, it has no way to prevent an airship from crashing into it and inserting a war party intent on shutting him down. If he had a few more Model Ws, he could have sprung for mounted anti-air... too bad the Guardians (and Mega Man Model ZX) got to them first (and subsequently destroyed them). The thing to note is that this is a Spanner entry because Albert's plan would have been more complete had they not been destroyed; everything else went just as planned.
    • Another example is how a pair of excavators accidentally awaken Grey, Master Albert's back-up body. After witnessing what Model W can do, Grey ends up saying no to Master Albert's plan and becomes instrumental in his downfall. Ashe also counts since in her storyline, she encounters Model A by accident and singlehandedly ruins Albert's plan as well. Albert even notes that her appearing was entirely unpredicted, and the amount of trouble she caused for him surprised most people directly involved.
  • Kingdom Hearts
    • In general, anyone attempting to utilize The Power of Friendship or quantify hearts will quickly find that it doesn't work that way.
    • Sora must have an innate ability to utterly ruin the numerous complicated plans that people form around them without having the slightest clue of what's really going on, because that's all he seems to do. Even when Sora does manage to figure out what's going on, his usual method of "beat up anyone who stands between me and my friends" always seems to work out okay.
    • Starting with the first game, Sora initially wasn't supposed to receive a Keyblade; Riku was. But because Riku decided to embrace the darkness rather than fight it, Sora ended up getting it by default, throwing a spanner into the plans of the folks around him.
    • Axel in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. Roxas and Xion were initially supposed to play much different roles than they ended up playing, thanks to Axel trying to keep the two of them in lockstep with the rest of Organization XIII. Ironically, by doing so, he forced the Organization to act far sooner than they wanted to, necessitating the opening of Kingdom Hearts II.
    • In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Axel manages to be a spanner again. He jumps in right when Master Xehanort is going to make Sora one of his thirteen vessels of darkness that he needs, resulting in Sora being rescued by Riku and King Mickey.
    • Terra manages to be one in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep despite losing to the bad guys. As the Lingering Will, Terra manages to injure Xehanort after Terra gets a Grand Theft Me pulled on him, causing Xehanort to expend so much energy fighting off Terra's heart that he ends up passed out in Radiant Garden, forcing him to start all over right when he was about to re-create the Keyblade War.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • While the Spy's entire job is to be the Spanner in the enemy team's works, random chance tends to play this role in otherwise evenly matched teams, as nobody can account for that stray lucky critical hit (some players consider this to be such a Scrappy Mechanic that they play on servers where random crits are turned off).
    • And then there are the Griefers, who purposely sabotage their own team's objectives For the Evulz.
    • The Engineer can also cause some major setbacks to an enemy team, be it placing Dispensers to support a teammate who would be killed by attrition, Teleporting allies to bypass enemy lines, or through a well-placed Sentry to block off an otherwise viable path.
  • The protagonists of Silent Hill tend to be played for Unwitting Pawns —but they will also send the bad guys plans spiraling into complete disaster because their goals don't involve unleashing an Eldritch Abomination on the world.
  • Fear 2: Project Origin has this happen to the player instead of the villain. Terry Halford comes up with a telesthetic amplifier that could give the player character, Sergeant Beckett, a decent chance at exploding Alma's head, and then Genevieve Aristide waltzes in, shoots any dissenting voices, and changes the amplifier's settings in an attempt to trap Alma. Note that Halford, who has a far better grasp of the math and science of the amplifier, has already stated very emphatically that Aristide's plan simply will not work and Aristide is essentially a desperate idiot trying to make reality conform to her wishes. Her pitiful attempts only make Alma stronger, at your expense.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, the player character skews the very, very delicate power balance of Los Angeles simply by being Embraced. That's about the only time things are not going according to someone's plan, though, and is directly followed by Xanatos Speed Chess on the part of Jack, LaCroix and Caine, rather than a Villainous Breakdown on anyone's part. In the endgame, it is impossible for you to be one, because whatever you do, LaCroix is toast for one reason or another.
  • King's Quest:
    • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow: Grand Vizier Abdul Alhazred has been running an Evil Plan very successfully on the Land of the Green Isles. Gain the trust of the king and queen and their approval to marry the princess then arrange the kidnapping of the princess and kill the king and queen, making sure he's in charge. Spread rumors and encourage in-fighting among the islands to bring the kingdom to the brink of civil war after stealing their sacred treasures yourself and crippling the only non-magical means of transport so they can't visit each other and check. As the final piece, arrange a grand sham wedding to the princess and kill her after the wedding night. It's running like clockwork, and then the Prince of Daventry shows up with a mad crush on the princess... And who set up the Daventry Prince with the Princess of the Green Isles together in the first place? Mordack. He kidnapped the princess on Abdul's behalf and also happened to abduct Daventry's royal family, prompting the King to rescue his family and the Princess.
    • King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride: Malicia has kidnapped the Fairy Prince Edgar and the Troll King of the Volcanix Underground, then transformed and brainwashed the former to impersonate the latter and cause a volcanic explosion that will destroy the Fairy Kingdom of Etheria. But she didn't realize that her new accomplice harbored feelings for a certain Princess of Daventry and that his now morally deficient state would cause him to kidnap her, causing her mother to chase after her... and things kind of fell apart after that.
  • Speaking of Sierra, the Hero in the Quest for Glory series tends to be this at times as well, either by intent or accident. Basically all of Quest for Glory IV was a result of the teleport spell used to snatch him at the end of Quest for Glory III dumping him in the wrong place in Mordavia.
  • Sierra loved this one, because much of Space Quest ran on this as well. Roger Wilco had just the good (or bad) luck to send the best laid plans careening into a cliff.
    • The first game? The Sarians had boarded the Arcadia, stolen the Star Generator, and slaughtered all of the crew...except Roger, who had been taking an unscheduled nap in the broom closet.
    • The second game? Vohaul had his cloned army (granted, they were an army of insurance salesmen) ready for launch, but having his Mooks sent to kill Roger in an attempt to prevent him from stopping it (after all, Vohaul bankrolled the Sariens), led to Roger showing up and wrecking the plan anyway.
    • Third game? Roger was just good enough at Astro-Chicken and just bored enough to find and investigate the secret message from Pug's captive programmers.
    • Fourth game? Once again, Vohaul tries to pre-emptively kill Roger from screwing up the plan. But the timely arrival of Xenon's time-traveling La Résistance sends that into a tailspin.
    • Fifth game? Captain Quirk was above suspicion, captain of the Confederation flagship. No one was going to investigate some toxic waste dumps on a few backwater planets. They all but laughed the ambassador representing those backwaters out of the room when she tried to call attention to the problem. But then a mouse chews up some wires in the academy computer, Roger gets accidentally promoted to Captain, and guess who finds out about Quirk's lucrative side business in transporting teratogenic sludge?
    • Sixth game: Stellar the the spanner. Sharpei wanted to commit Grand Theft Me on Roger, figuring he wouldn't be missed. But Stellar steps in at the last minute, makes a Heroic Sacrifice, and Roger decides he's going to rescue his pal. Sharpei and her plan did not survive.
  • Fire Emblem
    • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Manfroy's Stalker with a Test Tube plan to have the perfect Soul Jar for Evil God Loptyr did work… but was thrown off by how the mother of said Soul Jar gave birth to twins... and the sister of the Soul Jar actually had the Sacred Blood needed to handle the perfect weapon to vanquish Loptyr away. And then the girl was spirited away by her dying mother and later was adopted by La Résistance… led by her and her twin's older half-brother, a boy who ALSO has Sacred Blood and is getting ready to go against the Empire...
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade has Kishuna and Hector. The first one ruins a Smug Snake magic user's trap for the heroes via his Anti-Magic powers, while the second is such a strong support for Eliwood that Nergal has to admit that his mere presence throws his gambits around Eliwood off.
    • In Fire Emblem Awakening, one of these appeared in the backstory. The Grimleal aka the local Religion of Evil has carried a Super Breeding Program for at least four generations, trying to have a baby conceived with enough Grima blood in him/her to get the full mark and thus make him/her the perfect host for Grima. They didn't count, however, on the mother of the last baby and most perfected Grima prospect vessel running away with the baby. It's unclear if the mother was part of the religion or not. Thanks to this, the prospect vessel grew away from the Religion of Evil... and became the Avatar aka the Protagonist of the game.
    • In Fire Emblem Fates, King Garon plans to have the Avatar killed. Too bad the two times he expresses such a desire, it's when someone else is in his vicinity: Xander (in Conquest) and Elise (in Revelation). Both of them decide to work against it, by either sending reinforcements to spoil an Uriah Gambit in the first case, or by secretly sneaking out of the castle to join the "traitor" anyway in the second.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses The Flame Emperor Edelgard hires bandits to attack the Lord characters at the start of the game. However, instead of staying and fighting them off and being killed, Claude (one of the Lord characters targeted) simply runs off and he and the other two lords, Dimitri and Edelgard, will run into Byleth starting off the plot of the game.
  • The Big Bad of Last Scenario had such a good plan going until Phantom woke Ethan up early. Then Ethan just happened to run into an Unwitting Pawn and warned him not to trust an agent of said Big Bad. Things kinda fell apart from there.
  • This is basically all the Boss does in Saints Row 2. The Brotherhood originally planned on bringing in a shipment of weapons to take over the city with. Boom, the Boss steals it all. Then they try to manipulate their friends out of jail. The Boss just kills all of them when they get out. The Sons of Samedi see their plans to sell drugs ruined by the Boss when he kills all their dealers, and when a lieutenant tries to trick the Boss into walking into traps, the Boss kills them too. Vogel, meanwhile, planned to manipulate everybody into killing each other so he could take his place at the top, which worked fantastically when he was getting the Boss to kill people instead of getting people to kill the Boss, at least until the Boss turned their attention to him.
  • Raphael Sorel, the French fencer from Soulcalibur II, unintentionally saved the world and Siegfried (here in his guise as the Big Bad, Nightmare). Raphael appears as Nightmare's opponent in his Destined Battle. When Nightmare defeats Raphael and is about to finish him off, Siegfried is somehow roused out of his suppression by Soul Edge/Inferno and begins a Battle in the Center of the Mind, rendering his body immobile. Seizing the opportunity at hand, the injured Raphael takes his rapier and delivers a mighty thrust to Soul Edge's eye, weakening the soul of the sword and allowing Siegfried to fully regain control of his body. At that point, the holy sword Soul Calibur appears to aid Siegfried, who then plunges it through the evil sword again. This causes both swords to fall silent (having been locked into a state that rendered both dormant), setting up the plot of III and Siegfried's character progression to that of The Atoner. Raphael's reward? He gets infected by Soul Edge's malevolent influence (he unwillingly passes this on to his adoptive daughter Amy as well, when she tends to his wounds) and becomes some sort of vampire.
  • In Advance Wars 2, despite Andy having a spanner himself, It's Hawke's turn against Sturm that really destroys his plans.
  • In the chapter 1 finale of DragonFable, the Big Bad is undone by two spanners. The Bacon Elemental Orb (which no one but Cysero knew even existed until that moment) combined with Cysero's time machine gives the hero and his dragon a fighting chance in the Final Battle. Just when it seems like even that wouldn't be enough to save the day, the villain's host body Fluffy reveals his weak point to the hero and his dragon.
  • GrimGrimoire has the The Archmage preparing to break free from his Soul Jar and take the philosopher's stone and menace the world, and powerful devil he entered a pact with named Grimlet is about ready to break from being sealed inside the old wizard Gammel Dore. Neither of them could possibly predict that both of their plans would screwed up by one Cute Witch named Lillet Blann caught in "Groundhog Day" Loop.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
    • Alduin for General Tullius and the Imperials. Tullius managed to capture Ulfric Stormcloak, the leader of the Nordic rebellion that had almost managed to rout the Empire completely from Skyrim before Tullius arrived to head the Legion forces there. Had Alduin not shown up during the Stormcloak execution, it's likely the Empire would have won the Civil War not long after.
    • Assuming the player never discovers the Dossier revealing the Thalmor's role in the civil war, the Dragonborn can become this for the Thalmor, who are running a long scheme to weaken their enemies by goading Ulfric Stormcloak into rebelling against the Empire and making sure the civil war goes on for as long as possible to drain both sides' strength. The Dragonborn can end the war with one of two outcomes, both of which are bad news for the Thalmor.
    • In the Dark Brotherhood (Assassin's Guild) Questline, the Dragonborn can also be this for Astrid. The Dragonborn is the Night Mother's unwitting chosen one, which screws over Astrid's position as the "family don."
    • The Ebony Blade was locked safely away in Whiterun, from champions who would be tempted into killing their loved ones and confidants to empower a stupid sword and go homicidally insane... until the Jarl's son became a talkative ass from the sword spirit's rumors. The Dragonborn figures out how to steal the sword thanks to the boy blabbing about the "woman behind the door."
    • In an odd case, the Dragonborn does this twice in the Thieves' Guild questline. First, he and Mercer move to take down Karliah, only for the Dragonborn to be shot by her with an arrow laced with paralysis poison. Mercer takes the opportunity to stab the Dragonborn and return to the guild, leaving Karliah to rescue you and explain that the arrow was intended for Mercer, to take him back to Nocturnal for judgement, but your appearance was unexpected, so she attacked you to save your life from Mercer's inevitable betrayal. This sets off a sequence of events in which you, Brynjolf, and Karliah all take down Mercer together. By being a spanner in the works for Karliah, you ended up being the one to undo all of Mercer's plans, just by getting being unfortunate enough to get caught up in his scheme.
  • As of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, Terumi's master gambit pileup for his goals remained untouched up until Makoto Nanaya fell into one particular timeline by accident and interfered with events key to his schemes - the end result being utter annulment of all of his plans in that timeline, and she got away with it with help from Rachel Alucard. As a result, from Continuum Shift proper onward, Terumi's plans for Makoto have changed from "keep away from Tsubaki and Noel" to "outsource to Relius or kill on sight".
    • This is actually a reconstruction. Makoto's Spanner status comes from the fact that she never knew Noel never existed in this timeline up until Terumi's plans had already fallen apart. Other than that, she had proven through the entire story that she was capable of picking up on the world around her and using the intel she accumulated to formulate and rebuild her plans on a whim - one slip of the tongue by Terumi was enough for her to, with help from Bang's keen-eyed disciple, figure out that Relius was luring her into a trap and adjusted her plans just enough to defuse the problem and keep at work. Had she known about that missing fact any time before she ran into Tsubaki, she could have outgambitted Terumi instead.
  • In Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, The Fateless One is this to everyone and everything because he/she is Immune to Fate. Furthermore, since he/she was a Blank Slate with no memories upon revival it's impossible to predict just how he/she will react in any given situation. Everyone who tries to manipulate the Fateless One for their own evil plans fails miserably. Even Tirnoch, the being that allowed the Fateless One to exist in the first place, underestimates what she created and pays for it with her life.
  • This is generally the case in every mainline Pokémon game, with the player character acting as the spanner. Every villain team's plans get ruined because a small town kid recently started their adventure and managed to get mixed into the events due to just being in the area at the time (e.g. Pokémon Red and Blue) or becoming friends with someone who knows the villain (e.g. Pokémon Sun and Moon).
    • The evil scheme of Pokémon Black and White goes off the rails the moment Ghetsis's Laser-Guided Tyke-Bomb N discovers that humans aren't bastards, shaking his worldview and forcing him to reevaluate his cause, purely by encountering the player character in the second town.
    • In the fangame Pokémon Reborn, this happens to the villainous team, Team Meteor, at the very start of the game: they were one terrorist attack away from destroying Reborn City's power plant and plunging it into anarchy, allowing them to carry out their Evil Plan, but two things happened: first, a grunt got captured after bombing a train station in an effort to keep people from entering the city, and fessed up about Team Meteor's plans, allowing the Gym Leaders to stop the destruction of the power plant; and second, the Player Character arrived and began to systematically foil their plans one by one, usually because they got dragged into foiling them by their new friends.
    • Pokemon Platinum might be the most notable example for the series. Team Galactic were seconds away from victory - the protagonist and rival were just a bit too late to Spear Pillar, and the Champion was still en route. The universe should have been destroyed... except that Cyrus didn't realise there was a third cosmic dragon around, as it was so horrific that even the mythology of Sinnoh never mentioned it. Said dragon - Giratina - opens up a portal to the Distortion World right in front of Cyrus and pulls him, plus the three lake guardians, into its world. This breaks Cyrus's control over Palkia and Dialga and ultimately stops him from remaking reality.
  • In Max Payne 3, Max was the perfect Unwitting Pawn. A dumb gringo who'd been steered into making many enemies, he would be hopelessly lost at best, soon dead at worst. Unfortunately for the villains, good cop Da Silva showed up and gave him direction, and their plans started falling apart soon afterwards.
  • In Devil Survivor 2 the Main Character can be this for Yamato and/or Polaris by choosing another faction when Yamato probably would have won if not for the Main Character's interference and possibly convince Alcor to help kill Polaris and end Polaris' system.
  • In Dawn of the Dragons, the dragons' long-running scheme to reconquer the world is derailed by two spanners. The first is a crazy wizard who wakes them up too early because he wanted to use them in his own scheme for world conquest. The second is the player character, an ordinary farmhand who frees an unborn dragon from his evil parents' influence and assembles an army alongside the newborn.
  • The modern day Sonic the Hedgehog games seem to have given Dr. Eggman these moments as he'd be close to victory, then something happens that turns everything on its head.
    • For Sonic Adventure, it's Chaos not taking Eggman's crap anymore.
    • For Sonic Adventure 2, it's that the Eclipse Cannon had a Doomsday Protocol that activated when all the Chaos Emeralds are gathered in it.
    • For Sonic Forces, it's Infinite dropping a Prototype Phantom Ruby during his fight with Silver, which is then later used to nullify the cannons Infinite tried to use to kill the Avatar, and to delete the fake sun that Infinite and Eggman tried to drop on the planet.
  • TRON 2.0: The F-Con CEO had been planning his takeover of Encom and invasion of cyberspace with Datawraith mercenaries for twenty years. (It's impled he was Edward Dillinger from the first film, out for payback after being forced out of Encom in disgrace). Things would have gone swimmingly...if Alan Bradley hadn't been arguing with his son Jethro at the time F-con's thugs burst in the room and kidnapped him, and if Jethro hadn't been standing in just the right spot for Ma3a to kidnap him via Shiva laser.
  • In Super Robot Wars Original Generation Gaiden, Duminuss' plan was that real close to break up the spirit of EFA. First, it got ahold of Lamia and brainwashed her to the point of no return and would make her blow herself up to rub the fact that Kyosuke cannot fulfill his promise to her. That failed and later on Lamia managed to return to EFA, good as new. How? Apparently Duminuss failed to notice that that Axel just took a U-Turn from his journey to hell, and has an adjustment in personality and, being another last survivor of Shadow Mirror, he just happens to have the one thing that could reset Lamia and undo all of Duminuss' machinations, and just in case Kyosuke does not break into a world-destroying maniac out of despair (it happened in his world), Axel uses that thing pronto.
  • In Baldur's Gate, the protagonist spoils Bhaal's planned resurrection as well as all the plans of three other Big Bads simply by surviving against all odds, and growing from a nobody orphan to one of the most powerful beings in the Forgotten Realms in the process. Late in Throne of Bhaal, the Solar reveals that the protagonist being the spanner in Bhaal's works has been predicted by Alaundo's prophecy.
  • In Castle Red, the Big Bad, Howard, when confronted with the upcoming Trial of the Worm, set things up so that none of the other participants would even know about the Trial, allowing him to toy with them for his own amusement without risking losing his status as Lord. However, the first step of this plan was to infest all the castle's servants with worms, but he never expected that one of the servants, the maid Margaery, would be strong enough to bond with the worms and retain her sentience. This meant that there was now, unbeknownst to him, someone else in the castle who knew about the trial, knew what he really was, and who also had a vendetta against him. Once he realizes that Margaery exists and has already made contact with the other participants, he is forced to change his plans, eventually exposing himself as Lord, leading to his death at Jonathon's hands in half the endings.
  • In StarCraft, the schemes of the Greater-Scope Villain fallen Xel'naga Amon were derailed by a few ships carrying tens of thousands of human prisoners/colonists that overshot their target destination and crash-landed in the Koprulu Sector. This accident introduced a race of stubborn idiots who quickly became a power rivaling the Protoss and the Zerg and the only ones who Amon wasn't able to control en masse through some psychic leash like the Khala and the Zerg Overmind. The schemes that Amon and Duran tried to exploit them had some short-term success but ultimately resulted in nothing more than the creation of the very beings who would kill them. Kerrigan slays Amon, while Stukov slays Duran.
  • Manny from Grim Fandango steals one of his rival coworker's clients out of jealousy at the beginning of the game, and in the process uncovers, and eventually completely dismantles, a crime boss's long-running scheme to steal peoples' eternal rewards.
  • This is Flemeth's role in Dragon Age: Origins. The only thing preventing both the human Big Bad and the Archdemon from succeeding in their respective plots is the fact that two young Grey Wardens survive the disaster that was the Battle of Ostagar, and go on from there to save the world. And the reason they survive is Flemeth.
    • Similarly, the Inquisitor is the resident spanner for the Big Bad in Dragon Age: Inquisition. The one person who survives the massive explosion at the beginning of the game is the one person able to stop his plans.
  • Mass Effect has one in the form of a dock worker on the colony being attacked in the prologue mission. Saren finds his comrade Nilus and murders him to keep him from interfering with his plan. The dock worker saw the whole thing and promptly told Shepard when they showed up. The only reason the dock worker was even still alive was because he was napping behind a wall of shipping crates when the attack happened. He was concealed from the notice of Saren and the geth, and was in the perfect position to witness the murder. Without him, no one would have caught on to Saren's plans until it was too late.
    • Shepard qualifies throughout the franchise in regards to the Reaper cycle. Every 50,000 years, the Reapers descend from on high and launch the systematic genocide of every sentient, space-faring species, organic or synthetic, because that was the solution they came up with for their creator's concern about the inevitability of organic vs. synthetic race wars. While they are used to resistance, they still successfully complete the culling and leave. Then comes Shepard, who aids or spearheads the destruction of several Reapers and finds a way to either destroy them completely, control them, or merge organic and synthetic life to render their mission statement obsolete.
  • In God of War (PS4), it's implied that Kratos's very presence (due to being a Greek God in a Norse world) in Midgard is causing some reality-bending and literal fate-defying issues, resulting in him breaking and changing prophesied events, to the shock of Aesir gods. So far, Kratos has been indirectly related to or directly responsible for: the deaths of Magni and Móði (both of whom were fated to survive Ragnarök), the death of Baldur (not supposed to happen for hundreds of years) and triggering the start of Fimbulwinter (which heralds Ragnarök, having come hundreds of years too early).
    • In addition to the above, because he arrived in Midgard, he met and married Faye, the last Frost Giant, and fathered Atreus (who is none other than Loki who is the one to kickstart Ragnarok and bring about the end of the Aesir gods).
    • Sindri gifted Atreus with mistletoe arrows, which were directly the cause of breaking Baldur's immortality after Baldur punched Atreus and a mistletoe arrowhead holding Atreus's strap pieces Baldur's hand.
  • Unlike pretty much all the other AD-'verse groups in Super Robot Wars V, Celestial Being was not brought about by the machinations of Black Noir. It also had a hand in derailing the intended endings for other protagonists too, most notably the Jin family.
  • Leisure Suit Larry 2: Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places): So much. Of the unaware variety. Seriously, Larry ends up screwing Nonookee's plot without ever being aware of it, and to add insult to injury, kill him by accident.
  • And in the Kirby series, the titular pink blob often plays this role if he's not being an Unwitting Pawn; something will disturb his usual peace, he'll go out to find out why, only to run into the Big Bad or their minions, and promptly derail or outright foil their plans entirely.
    • He also plays this role in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate—were it not for his escape, Game Over Galeem destroyed the video game multiverse.
  • The player character in Final Fantasy Adventure. He's not destined in any way, he's not descended from any sort of important lineage, and he doesn't even have any great aspirations at the beginning of the game outside of escaping from the Dark Lord's gladiator pens. Because he's such a non-entity, though, the Dark Lord's continuing plans to destroy his opposition and cement control over the world and later, after Dark Lord's death, Julius' plans to do the same overlook that one escaped slave, and he's ultimately able to save the world, albeit at great cost.
  • Red Dead Redemption II: Believe it or not, Micah Bell's death was what helped to kickstart the events of the first Red Dead Redemption. Because John Marston came out of hiding to hunt Micah down for Arthur Morgan's death, he once again brought himself under the radar of the Pinkertons, and allowed Edgar Ross to track him down.
  • The Full Body version of Catherine introduces Rin, a potential third romantic option. Rin is sweet, earnest, supportive, naive, and completely harmless. She's suffering from amnesia and has little idea of how the world works; she just wants to play the piano and make people happy. She's not directly involved with the main love triangle, and the other two women barely even notice her. Even the Big Bad thinks Rin isn't a threat to his plan, despite knowing they're from a race of Angelic Aliens merely posing as a human. Given that the Big Bad's scheme focuses on killing off uncommitted/cheating men, the fact that Rin's human form is an androgynous male made it highly unlikely they'd be a problem. He even hires them to play at The Stray Sheep! She's open-minded and has some unusual - but profound - ideals: No one can tell someone else how to live their life, and that individuals are the only ones should decide what is important to them. If you choose to romance Rin, this philosophy turns out to be exactly what Vincent needs to hear to take a step back from the whole Katherine/Catherine debacle and reassess his life. Not only does Vincent become a far stronger, more competent person, he realizes Rin makes him happy and that gender doesn't matter to him. This completely derails Catherine's plan; she isn't even aware of Rin as a romantic rival until it's too late, and just gives up when she realizes Vincent may not even be interested in being seduced by a woman. Also, the Big Bad made a huge mistake by hiring Rin as The Stray Sheep's pianist; their angelic power creates Magic Music that slows down the Nightmare and allows its listeners to think of new opportunities and possibilities. Better emotional stability and less stress makes the Nightmare far easier to handle. By the end of the final challenge, Vincent and Rin's relationship is so strong, they easily counter Mutton's homophobic rant with a heartfelt Kirk Summation. And that's before Rin's Big Brother zaps him into submission in the True Ending. Vincent could've survived the ordeal on his own, but Rin was the one who made that victory inevitable.

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