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Jun 4th 2016 at 2:38:17 PM •••

The "economy" section is all really not this trope. It's describing different industries they think use this trope (which is not the same as "economy"), but... no. First of all, selling a service is not a duel. Second, the examples seemed to mostly be saying, "In this industry, once the contract is signed, you get paid whether you 'win' or 'lose'!" Besides the fact that "win or lose" isn't the best way to put that, it's completely missing the point - you still need to work hard to do the best job so you get the next contract - if you have a reputation for doing badly, that contract will be your last. Third, that's not even what the trope is - the trope is when a person comes up with plans for a particular situation so that they win regardless of what happens. You should be able to see what's wrong with the idea that that exists for an entire industry - if it did, no one would contract a firm to do that, they'd do it themselves. Also, if a blueprint like that exists, it's still not this trope. If the first person to use it didn't let anyone else in on the plan and let them think they'd "won" when they hadn't, *then* it would be this trope, but only in that instance. Basically, the people who wrote those examples are acting based on a whole lot of false assumptions. It's probably best to just remove that whole category. Do any other tropes have an "economy" category? It's sort of ridiculous, even besides the fact that it's using the word "economy" wrong. - edited for clarity.

Edited by lavendermintrose
Apr 18th 2016 at 5:19:24 PM •••

There are two common trends I'm seeing in the examples which I'm not convinced are actually Xanatos Gambits proper.

1. "If I win, I win; if I lose, I get information that will help me win later." Mind, I'm not talking about loss giving information that helps in a bigger, overarching plan—I am specifically talking about when calling a plan a Xanatos gambit is justified by nothing but "if I lose, I'll learn something that will let me beat you later." Considering that this comes part and parcel with any loss, rather than requiring special planning, it doesn't fit the spirit of the trope...and I'm not convinced that "I might be able to do my goal more successfully next time" counts as an alternate victory condition. It barely counts as a consolation prize.

2. Standard, independent backup plans for if the primary plan fails. While certainly impressive, and capable of doing something similar to a Xanatos gambit, there seems to be a significant difference between the two.

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Jun 5th 2016 at 11:09:11 AM •••

It depends on the situation, I think. I can think of a few situations where it's really a form of misdirection. For example, Side A wants to steal a McGuffin. They set it up so that in order to stop them, Side B will reveal some piece of information about their side - the limitation of their powers, the number of members of their team, etc. The real goal isn't to get the McGuffin, it's to get this intelligence about Side B. However, if they get the McGuffin, it's still good for them. I'm not sure if the McGuffin has to be as important as the intel in order for it to be a Xanatos Gambit, but I think Side A has to at least have their eye on the intel as much as the McGuffin for it to qualify.

May 27th 2013 at 1:36:47 AM •••

Regarding the Bleach reference in the Anime/Manga section: I don't recall Aizen ever having actual back-up plans for whether he fails. The only solid example provided was the blurb about kidnapping Orihime, which is not a Xanatos Gambit since failing to capture her would not benefit Aizen at all. The battle in fake Karakura Town is mostly pitting his enemies against each other in 1v1 duels, which does not account for what happens if they realize his plan and team up with each other. I suggest getting rid of it, unless someone else has a legitimate example.

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Jan 20th 2016 at 12:09:55 PM •••

Firstly: It's not about having backup plans it's about benefiting from plans no matter what happens, secondly, why didn't you just repair it?

Oct 23rd 2012 at 2:41:35 PM •••

I think i cracked the gambit in the picture: Steal the McGuffin.

If I (or the big bad) destroys the McGuffin, the dragon will mostly turn against him/her because Evil Is Not a Toy.

If the big bad attacks me, I can also use the dragon

If he/she kills the dragon the McGuffin is worthless and lots of energy were wasted giving me the upper hand.

Edited by Zeanobia
Jun 27th 2012 at 7:11:48 AM •••

I would argue that this item:

  • Sidious's plan in The Phantom Menace is a Xanatos Gambit — at the start of the film he wants the Trade Federation to hold Queen Amidala prisoner; when she escapes, he sends his apprentice, Darth Maul, to prevent her from reaching Coruscant. But Amidala does reach Coruscant, and within a couple hours she's helped Sidious become Chancellor Palpatine.

is not a Xanatos Gambit — Sidious had a plan and it was foiled by an unexpected outcome, but he quickly adapted to move it toward his ends. It's at best Xanatos Speed Chess, at worst just an adaptive Evil Plan run by a particularly skilled Chessmaster.

I'm considering removing it. Any objections?

Edited by Randolpho Hide/Show Replies
Jun 27th 2012 at 7:34:52 AM •••

^If he didn't factor in Amidala's arrival in Coruscant and the subsequent course of events, it's not Xanatos Gambit but Xanatos Speed Chess.

Jan 3rd 2013 at 4:03:53 AM •••

It seems he was counting on that, however, because his elevation to Chancellor required Amidala playing the vital role of moving a Vote of No Confidence.

Apr 30th 2012 at 11:48:12 PM •••

in the real life section, near the bottom is this: Nixon going to China can be seen as one: his goal being to 'open it up' but a secondary goal achieved regardless of the first is faning Soviet fears of a China-America alliance which he exploited in later summits.

Tried to figure out what was meant by "faning". I believe the proper word if "feigning".

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Jul 27th 2012 at 9:03:44 AM •••

"feigning" is completely wrong. "Faning" comes from "fanning the fires" (+ some misspellingh) which is an idiom similar to "fueling the fires" hence "fanning/fueling Soviet fears". "Fanning" seems rather unnatural, I'd would have expected "fueling" but it's more right than "feigning".

Jul 27th 2012 at 10:37:23 AM •••

Fanning the fires is a perfectly fine idiom. Fires need oxygen as much as fuel, and that's what the fanning does.

Mar 31st 2012 at 3:52:48 AM •••

I'd like to see a name change. I now know who Xanatos is, but have never seen "Gargoyles". This trope is so prevalent in fiction I think a more neutral title may be appropriate.

I'm not saying Xanatos may not be the crown jewel of this trope, just speaking for folks who aren't in the know.

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Mar 31st 2012 at 1:03:02 PM •••

Consult the last TRS for the details. We discussed it there but I'll summarize it here. We agreed, more or less, that if this trope were in YKTTW today we'd demand a 'more netural title' but it is an old trope and has caught on, so instead we create The Plan as a supertrope.

Aug 8th 2012 at 1:56:21 PM •••

Were it not for the fact noted 2 posts above, I'd petition for it to be renamed Xehanort Gambit. Having just beaten the latest Kingdom Hearts game, I think Xehanort may well have usurped Xanatos himself for this kind of planning. At the very least I'd like to know who to talk to about making Xehanort into the partial holder of the title "God of Xanatos Gambits". (Full disclosure, while I did enjoy Gargoyles, I'm a rabid KH fan so i MAY be a LITTLE bias...) Still its a good point nonetheless, and I am serious about the title thing over in the pantheon.

May 14th 2014 at 6:35:32 AM •••

Why not have Xehanort Gambit redirect to this trope, or move it and have the current title link there?

May 14th 2014 at 6:40:09 AM •••

Eh, because we don't rename pages for the sake of renaming pages. See the Trope Renaming Guidelines.

Jan 23rd 2012 at 3:14:46 PM •••

So how can a Xanatos Gambit be foolproof if even Xanatos basically lost in the end?

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Feb 1st 2012 at 9:10:44 PM •••

What do you mean? Are you talking about the movie and how he went to jail at the end? That wasn't the gambit. The gambit was using the gargoyles to do his dirty work: if they contineu that's great but if they don't he can replace them robotic copies. Even when the gargoyles smashed the Steel Clan he still was able to test them and make them better. Xanatos Gambit doesn't mean 'always win' but 'always benefit'. There's a difference; the benefit can be a consolation prize.

Edited by ChaoticNovelist
Mar 19th 2012 at 9:43:42 PM •••

Going to jail isn't much of a benefit/consolation prize

Mar 31st 2012 at 1:00:20 PM •••

That's not the point. Seeing how the Steel clan works against the originals is the point.

Mar 27th 2013 at 5:44:54 PM •••

Sure, but they turned out to be inferior, and over the course of the series never helped him to triumph over Goliath

At the end of the series, he had to call a truce with Goliath and the clan, that doesn't sound like a benefit to him

Sounds more like Goliath ended up the winner of their rivalry

Edited by baxtus
Oct 26th 2011 at 1:51:51 PM •••

Does it HAVE to be literally all outcomes benefit the planner? I mean, if the planner plans for every single itty bitty outcome doesn't that turn the Xanatos Gambit into a Xanatos Roulette?

I think we should rewrite it to say that it only counts as a Xanatos Gambit if all plausible outcomes benefit the mastermind. At the very least, can it still count as a Xanatos Gambit if at least two of the most plausible outcomes benefit the mastermind (like Heads I Win Tales You Lose for example)?

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Oct 30th 2011 at 9:39:37 PM •••

That's exactly what it is. All plausible outcomes. As for the number, two is just that, a number. At the very least, the planner has to accomdate the possibility that their plan will fail. Heads I Win, Tails You Lose is just that; You lose, I win or you win, I win.

Jun 28th 2018 at 10:43:39 AM •••

(Super late reply, BUT:) I think the litmus test is to imagine having the planner explain the plan to you. They start with their best possible outcome, and you say \"But what if that doesn\'t happen?\", then they give you the next option, and so on. You stop when the question \"What if that doesn\'t happen?\" starts to make you look silly.

\"I\'ve dispatched an annoying underling to kill the target. I\'ll be rid of the target, and I win\"

\"But what if the underling doesn\'t kill the target?\" - \"Then the underling will be dead, and they won\'t annoy me anymore. That\'s still a win\"

\"But what if the underling doesn\'t kill the target, and isn\'t killed by the target?\" - \"Then the underling has failed an important task, and I have an excuse to punish them publically and make them an example for the others. Also a win\"

\"But what if the underling doesn\'t fail their assassination task, but also the target hasn\'t been assisnated?\" - \"Errr.... what?\"

Sep 12th 2011 at 3:55:06 AM •••

Emperor Palpatine's plot to have Luke Skywalker and Darth Vador duel to the death is listed as a Xanatos Gambit, but it seems to me that this clearly does not qualify because the ultimate outcome did not benefit him.

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Oct 26th 2011 at 1:47:39 PM •••

That's because Luke Skywlaker Took a Third Option. I think that a Xanatos Gambit can still be foiled. Palpaltine was planning on the results of the fight to the death so that if Vader kills Luke, he still keeps his Dragon and gets rid of a potnetial foe. If Luke kills Vader then Luke turns to the Dark Side and Palpaltine gets a new Dragon to replace his older less useful one.

I'm going to ask about that in my next post in this discussion.

Feb 16th 2012 at 10:16:32 PM •••

If there is a third option not taken into account is it still really a xanatos gambit? I am quite certain if the gambit orchestrator has the information to conclude such a possibility, i assume it doesn't count as a xanatos gambit

Sep 11th 2011 at 4:38:34 AM •••

Regarding the trope picture. There is one other bubble that can be added for gambit: klingon promotion.

You challenge me to combat. > You defeat me, but my army and the Dragon makes you their new leader. Mad with power, you continue my work. > I Win.

Could someone update the trope picture with this?

Edited by Scaresteam
Jun 25th 2011 at 10:50:36 PM •••

Cut this:

* The core plot of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is a massive gambit by the Big Bad Storm King involving the titular three swords. Embodying the most powerful magic in the land of Osten Ard, and in response to an ancient prophecy, the protagonists see the swords as the only things that can, if brought together, stop the Storm King from returning to the world. Of course, this is a trick to get them to deliver the swords to the villains, so their power can be used to summon him. Throughout the story, a major portion of the villains' effort is spent killing off anyone with enough knowledge to unravel the plan before it can be completed.
Because it's not a Xanatos Gambit: Ineluki only wins if he successfully tricks the heroes into bringing the three swords together. That's why he has to spend so much effort to kill anyone who might tumble to the scheme before it's too late. If the heroes had figured things out and kept the swords apart, Ineluki would have lost. For this to have been a Xanatos Gambit, it would have to have been the case that Ineluki wins regardless of whether the heroes gather the swords or keep them apart.

May 19th 2011 at 9:46:17 PM •••

Four words: Doc Scratch in Homestuck, at least at the time of this writing (Beginning of Disc 2). No matter what, he is going to release his master, the indestructible Lord English. He manipulates the players of S Burb and S Grub to force a need to cause the Scratch. Being omniscient, he has the ability to see all possible outcomes and force the one he desires. In fact, Doc Scratch at the time of this writing has and will always succeed, because "He Is Already Here."

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Sep 8th 2012 at 3:22:29 PM •••


This isn't for examples. Those go on the trope page.

Also, "Four words: X" sounds ridiculous. Just say "Doc Scratch in Homestuck has a Xanatos Gambit to release his master, the indestructible Lord English." Then explain the plan.

May 7th 2011 at 5:13:07 PM •••

Could someone explain one of the Babylon 5 gambits? If it doesn't have at least one that can be put in detail then it needs to be removed.

Apr 22nd 2011 at 7:27:52 PM •••

Removed the Death Note example. It was extremely forced (the hypothetical 'either way' situation wasn't mentioned at all in Death Note itself that I recall), and had an obvious chance of failure (in the hypothetical situation where it shows that Kira can be mocked - that would require getting the word out that he had been mocked, which eventually could result in eg. the guy getting killed five days later after information about the broadcast had spread worldwide, providing no benefit to L and costing him the life of a prisoner.)

It feels like someone desperately combed Death Note for an example that would fit on this page because they mistakenly thought that this was Crowning Moment of Planning or whatever.

Mar 11th 2011 at 6:31:47 PM •••

Is it still a Xanatos Gambit if the villain loses at the end but had a good plan of succeeding "A" and "B" none the less?

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May 7th 2011 at 5:11:12 PM •••

If the planner loses, its not a xanatos gambit. If the planner's primary goal fails, but they succedd at a secondary objective, it can count. The limtus test is that the planner has to have gained SOMETHING from the plan.

Jan 18th 2014 at 10:27:22 PM •••

I would say, if the villain loses it may be a Xanatos Gambit, but only if the villain only lost because the hero Took a Third (or fourth, or eighth) Option that the villain could not have accounted for. A Xanatos Gambit depends on the gambit planner having a winning play for every plausible outcome.

Dec 31st 2010 at 1:34:11 AM •••

It seems this page, looking over it, could use a bit of a clean up to get rid of things which are just evil plans. I think what may help is requirement to explain HOW it's a Xanatos Gambit on both sides of things with outcomes and not just a plan.

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Apr 9th 2011 at 7:31:13 PM •••

Frankly, over half the of the Real Life examples need to be cut. Preferably all of them.

Dec 5th 2010 at 12:43:22 PM •••

while the first page quote is a fine quote which sums up the essence of the trope quite nicely, I don't think that the second one describes it very well. would it be ok if I were to change it to another one which was recently in the top spot (albeit shortly), "If I win, I get to be a king. If I lose, I get to be a legend."?

Oct 11th 2010 at 6:29:25 AM •••

It's being used for the main index, since it's just the man it's hard for one particular trope to own it when there are other Xanatos tropes out there, but I'm making a new one to fit the page.

Aug 9th 2010 at 6:59:11 PM •••

Whacked a whole bunch of examples from the literature section that either didn't describe the Xanatos Gambit, or described something that was not in fact a Xanatos Gambit.

Jul 26th 2010 at 4:53:15 PM •••

This is really stupid. I just want to point out that one of the examples is The Departed, where Matt Damon survives and is then killed by Mark Wahlberg. Whoever wrote it censors out the fact that Damon is the rat, a fact which is revealed in the first minutes of the movie, but does not censor the fact that Wahlberg kills him, which is not revealed until the last scene and can't really be expected even if you've seen Infernal Affairs.

I could have just edited this, but I wanted to start a discussion of how big of an idiot whoever did that is.

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Fighteer MOD
Jul 27th 2010 at 5:55:03 AM •••

If you see a mistake, fix it. Posting just to insult other tropers will get you banned.

Edited by Fighteer
Jun 5th 2010 at 3:35:58 AM •••

Take out the Chief Justice John Marshall real life example — it's incorrectly applied. Marbury v. Madison was far from a power grab by Marshall, as the doctrine of judicial review had already been adopted by state courts before Marbury v. Madison went to court. More importantly, because Marshall ruled in Marbury v. Madison that the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional, the writ of mandamus Marbury asked the Court to issue was invalid, meaning that Marbury could not become a justice of the peace because of Marshall's decision. As such, it would be incorrect to say that Marshall was trying to force Jefferson's hand because he himself made it impossible for Marbury to become a justice of the peace.

May 26th 2010 at 7:17:34 PM •••

It wasn't any actual plan, sounded more like trying to save face or... something. I'm not even sure if it counts at all, but in Pokemon Soul Silver, when you get Koga down to his last pokemon he says "...I was counting on this all along!" Unsure if it should be mentioned.

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Jan 20th 2016 at 12:23:28 PM •••

That's I Meant to Do That And sorry for late reply.

Edited by NNinja
Mar 31st 2010 at 9:48:31 AM •••

There should be a mention of Lord Foul in Donaldson's Covenant Chronicles. It is unusual in that no deception whatsoever is involved. He flatly states the full truth as he knows it at that time: if they do not act, Drool Rockworm will win both against the Lords of the Land and against Foul, in 7 years. If they act and attack Rockworm now, they will win against Rockworm, but Foul will win against them in 49 years.

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Mar 28th 2010 at 11:37:43 PM •••

Discussion thread here regarding replacing the current image.

Mar 12th 2010 at 6:34:38 AM •••

Change "Western Animation" to "Animation." Anime can be anime or japanese animation. ...I mean come on.

Type the word in the image. This goes away if you get known.
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The next one might be easier to see.

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