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I defeated his minions, and he cackled and said, "Exactly as I planned."
—Rebecca Borgstrom, Nobilis
Uh-oh, looks there's trouble for our beloved villain (Or Guile Hero). The heroes destroyed his Phlebotinum research facility, the government realized that the man they thought was president was actually an evil robotic duplicate, and his entire accounting staff has just turned into mimes. What's his response?
Excellent. Everything is going according to plan.
That one little phrase is all it takes to cause even the most monumental apparent loss to be completely turned on its head. Was the villain Crazy Prepared enough to insure that even his failure somehow turns into a victory? Did he prepare a plan only just incompetent enough that the heroes could predictably defeat him? Or was The Plan something else entirely?
Well, we're not going to find out anytime soon. In all likelihood he's relying on the Unspoken Plan Guarantee to catch everyone off guard so that we can proceed to the real plot. Stay tuned next week for the exciting new development!
Compare Gambit Roulette where everything, even the most unpredictable of chance, goes according to plan.
In terms of writing, this is a relatively meta trope in that in most cases it's technically irrelevant. Regardless of whether anyone actually says the phrase, whatever gambits are floating around are still floating around. This is because the phrase is used primarily as re-assurance- either for the audience, or other characters. Strictly speaking it can be used with plans that as far as anyone can tell are already going as planned- it's just a status update so that we only ever worry when people stop saying it.
Since complex schemes are often involved in this trope, be wary of spoilers.
Anime and Manga
- Light Yagami of Death Note, master of the Gambit Roulette, repeatedly uses this phrase to let Ryuk know that what appears to be an outmaneuvering actually falls in line with his long-term goals. Including the very memetic moment of him winning the Gambit Roulette Memory Gambit.
- Light also thinks a phrase very close to this one during the final showdown, after Near explains his plan to prove that Light is Kira. Of course, things don't go according to plan for him... There aren't any spoilers on the page linked to above, but no promises if you look at any of the other pages in that chapter.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gendo Ikari (along with his right-hand man, Fuyutsuki) and the members of SEELE were fond of saying things were going "all according to the scenario." Should be noted that they were ultimately pulling for different scenarios, but no matter what, whatever happened was always according to the scenario, or at the very least irrelevant to it.
- Their differing scenarios were only divergent at the end, so it makes sense. At the point where something went according to Gendo's scenario that was NOT according to SEELE's scenario, SEELE sent in the JSSDF to kill every single last person at NERV HQ.
- Just like with Gendo and Kira, his forebears, Lelouch is fond of saying "the preliminary conditions have been met", as well as many variations of that phrase. He is also fond of Chess metaphors.
- Bleach has Sousuke Aizen. When things go not quite as planned, he still has a backup plan.
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle inverts the trope. With all the Scry vs. Scry going on the Big Bad admits that "it looks like my plan won't go exactly per my prepared script." That are entire chapters with one Chessmaster or another details what did or did not go wrong after a major event.
- The Emperor from Star Wars is quite fond of this.
- Subverted in The Dark Knight. While the Joker says these (or nearly these) exact words, he's describing how other people tend to make intricate plans and schemes, while he (nominally) is an agent of chaos.
- Foundation: Throughout the series, Hari Seldon did this from beyond the grave, planning for several millennia worth of events.
- In the Dollhouse episode "Needs," Adelle DeWitt uses a somewhat different phrase to give the same effect:
Dominic: "I was just informed that we have four actives planning to escape."
- In the season six finale of Star Trek: Voyager, three senior members of the Voyager's crew (including Captain Janeway) beam over to a Borg ship. After infiltrating it, they are eventually caught and assimilated. The crew on the ship has been monitoring their life signs, and they detect the assimilation of the three. Commander Chakotay's response?
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Mayor (the Big Bad for Season 3) is more Genre Savvy on this. Faith is eager for some action and asks her boss if there's likely to be any fighting. The Mayor replies no, not if everything goes according to plan "but since when do things go according to plan?"
- This is part of the Tzeentchians' hat in Warhammer 40000: Tzeentch is essentially the God of Evil plans, gambits and other schemes, worshipped by sorcerers and the ambitious, who sees so far into the future that all his plans are mutually contradictory: the success of one means the failure of another and vice versa. It is customary, when reducing your opponent to incoherent rage and SkywardScreaming, to smile smugly and declare "Just As Planned" (Gendo glasses and hands optional). More information here.
- Also, See Creed. Creed, according to his game rules, can scout units, or hide them until they attack. So, he can hide a multi ton Baneblade supertank behind some bushes, a moving battle cathedral mech behind a spent bolter magazine, or a tactical nuclear system behind a corpse. Yep. Hey, isn't there supposed to be a biography he- CREEEEEEED!!! This is a meme commonly joked about.
- Recently, Games Workshop has hinted that the failure of all thirteen Black Crusades, which has given Abaddon the Despoiler a reputation as a General Failure, were actually this trope. How better to gauge your enemy's strength over the millennia?
- This trope is played with in one of the margin-quotes from Nobilis.
- Possibly as a Shout-Out to Kira, after he has the negative emotion of Prometheus and Pandora sucked into the Model Ws in the background, awakening them and forming the Ouroboros, Master Albert from Mega Man ZX Advent said:
Just as I planned!
- Similar to the Nobilis quote above, Arthas of World of Warcraft plans himself right into a grave. Spending half the Wrath of the Lich King expansion killing off sub-bosses as if they were mooks, until finally when the players in their 10 or 25 man group face him, claims it was all according to his plan to train and equip the most powerful people in the world so he can kill them and use them as generals in his army. Oops.
- In Tsukihime, Kohaku pretty much says this once it's revealed that she was behind almost the entire plot of the Far Side routes.
That's right. All of it was something I wished would happen, Shiki-san.
- Ocelot in nearly every Metal Gear Game he appears in.
Sarine: Whew! Oh thank Anilis! I thought I was about to die any second... ...
- Used a lot in Touhou Nekokayou. It even got inverted in one of the newer strips.
- The Prime of Ambition Christmas Episode filler had this twice in a row. Oh, well...
- Homestuck: John meets the ghost of Meenah, a troll girl who is an alternate-universe counterpart of the Condesce. When she finds out she's dead, she exclaims happily that her plan worked. Turned out her plan was to kill herself and the rest of her session's players with a bomb to avoid oblivion when the Scratch happened.
- Referenced in the Riff Trax commentary for 300. ("I know it looks bad but its all part of the plan!" during one of the many scenes when Spartans are slaughtering large numbers of Persians.)
- In Codename: Kids Next Door that Cree says this when modifying the garbage disposal rocket she was inside to fly towards the KND Moonbase.
- Batman the Animated Series: "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne" , when Bruce Wayne is chained and Alfred is tied in Doctor Strange's basement:
- In The Legend of Korra "And the Winner Is...", when The Lieutenant tells Amon that the city is defying his threat.
The Lieutenant: We just word. The council has defied your threat. They're leaving the pro-bending arena open.