Word for "bad guy gets caught, but that was the plan all along"?
May 31, 2014 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Sometime in the last few months there was a thread about a movie or something, and in that thread someone said something like "Boy, I'm tired of this _________ trope". I didn't recognize the word and looked it up, but now I can't remember it, and it was a really good word.

Basically it goes like this:

* Bad guy does bad things
* Good guys chase him down and capture him
* Bad guy cackles gleefully and says, "You have fallen into my trap!" - it was Bad Guy's intent to be captured all along.
* Phase 2 of Evil begins
* Good guys thwart Phase 2 and bad guy(s) cackle gleefully, "You have fallen into my trap again!" and Phase 3 of Evil begins
* Repeat

I'm pretty sure this is an Anime trope (Dragonball Z maybe?), and the word was a Japanese word OR it was the name of a character who routinely does this. Basically, the all-knowing evil genius puppet master who repeatedly triumphs over seeming defeat thing.

Does anyone know what that word is?
posted by sidereal to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Xanatos Gambit?
posted by The otter lady at 7:53 AM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I think The otter lady has it, but here's the obligatory TVTropes link.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 7:59 AM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I now call that the Skyfall.
posted by nicwolff at 8:02 AM on May 31, 2014 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: It's the Xanatos Gambit.

Four minutes. Wow.

Thank you!!
posted by sidereal at 8:07 AM on May 31, 2014

I have to say, that's a terrible name for precisely the reason that it's near-impossible to remember. Five minutes after leaving this thread, I will have no idea what the name was. They should have picked something more easily relatable to the concept.
posted by languagehat at 9:16 AM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I concur that's hard to remember, because it's a trope hanging on a popular culture artifact from the mid to late 1990s, something that isn't necessarily accessible to the majority of people.

It wouldn't surprise me to find this idea as a metaphor dating back to Aristotelian times, or even earlier to Sun Tzu, particularly in the art of war.

Whether those would be memorable is another matter.
posted by sidereal at 9:38 AM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you're having trouble remembering that it's called the Xanatos Gambit, I'd recommend actually watching the first few episodes of Gargoyles (which is now available free & legally on youtube, which should make it accessible to an awful lot of people, barring geographical restrictions and the like).

I knew of the trope, but didn't really get why it was called what it was called until watching the show after the FPP and realizing that Xanatos' antics so perfectly fit the trope that it's hard to think of another trope-namer.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:40 AM on June 1, 2014

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