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A Gambit Pileup has ensued, and the dust finally settles. Someone emerges, triumphant. The winner may have been one of the major Chess Masters (or even one Chessmaster playing the others off each other), but it's just as likely that it's a relatively minor player, the Spanner in the Works or even Those Two Guys. If the Gambit Pileup has been particularly bloody, the victor might win by simple virtue of being the last one standing--perhaps Atop a Mountain of Corpses.

In some cases, the winner doesn't even have a plan--they were in the right place at the right time, and in a prime position for victory.

Examples of Last Plan Standing include:

Live Action TV

  • On Lost when the dust finally settles after all the years of scheming and back stabbing between Jack, Locke, Ben, Widmore, Jacob and the Smoke Monster it is kind hearted Hurley who comes to rule the island.



  • Fortinbras in Hamlet is established as seeking revenge on Denmark for past grievances. He ends up having the crown fall into his lap because all the legitimate claimants have killed each other.

Video Games

  • Liquid Snake at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2. His only real involvement with the plan was getting Solid Snake involved so that he was able to be released. However, the enormous circle of backstabbing between Dead Cell, Solidus, Olga and Ocelot cancelled them out to the point he was able to abscond with RAY. Well, at least until the sequel rolled around.
    • Technically, you forgot the real "Patriots" themselves (who also succeeded in their the time.).
  • By the end of Legacy of Kain: Defiance, Raziel finally stops being manipulated by everyone, and lets himself be absorbed by the Reaver, so that Kain can use the Reaver to defeat the Elder God.
  • In Adam Cadre's Varicella, the Villain Protagonist is tasked with manipulating a complex web of court intrigue so that he becomes the last and only choice for Regent. It backfires spectacularly when the young prince, who has become a Complete Monster as a result of his upbringing, ascends the throne, eliminates the last obstacles in his path - including Varicella himself! - and declares war on pretty much everybody.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, Delita marries Princess Ovelia and is crowned King Delita. However, this example is actually subverted. Delita has to kill Ovelia and is left Lonely At the Top, having lost everything that he was fighting for in his quest for power, and hundreds of years later, the revelation of the Durai Papers vindicates Ramza as the real hero of the game.


  • Happens in every Pirates of the Caribbean movie to date, but especially Dead Man's Chest, with Norrington emerging as the surprise victor.

Real Life

  • Arabia and the Middle East were fought over by the Ottoman Empire, Germany, Britain and France, who were aided by the Rashidis (allied with the Ottomans), the Hashemites (allied with Britain), and the Saudis (led by Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud), along with others such as the Bedouins and the Ikhwan. As the region (plus a good deal more of the area) is now known as Saudi Arabia, it's clear who won. The Hashemites came in second, holding much of Mesopotamia and remaining in power in Jordan today. Most of the rest of the regional powers were devastated and replaced by entirely new states.
  • Also happened in 1917-1921 Russia, where Czarists, Liberals, Anarchists, several Western Powers, Poles, and even a Czech Legion (prisoners liberated from Siberia) intermingled. Who would have bet on the tiny Bolshevik faction back in 1917?
  • The United States might have been this after the Gambit Pileup that was World War One, as all the other major powers were devastated by war and falling apart. Instead, they went back to isolationism.
  • Henry VII Tudor was this, both in Real Life and in Shakespeare's play Richard III.
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