Step Three: Profit

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

We have it all figured out! Step One: we land the Exodar. Step Three: we defeat the Legion and go home. There is only one detail missing....

—Male draenei joke from World of Warcraft

An ill-conceived Get Rich Quick Scheme that lacks the "scheme", or at least a well thought out one. Often, it's not even clear how the plan is supposed to work—but the planner thinks it's such a good idea, it has to make money somehow.

Doesn't actually require the final step to be "financial profit". Variations include "I get the girl", "world domination", and "win". The point is that it contains a specific first step, a final step that benefits the planner, but misses a way to connect the two ends.

The implementation of the scheme is sometimes, but not always, ridiculously more expensive than any money they could hope to make on the off-chance the scheme is successful. Sometimes, it just flat out does not make sense—but due to the Unspoken Plan Guarantee, if anyone points this out it will of course succeed without a hitch. Can be an Evil Scheme, used by the villains.

See also Cut Lex Luthor a Check for when the intellect and hard work used to advance the plan would be far more profitable to the character if he just did an honest day's work, rather than work on his Evil Scheme. When the character develops the middle steps as he goes along, it becomes an Indy Ploy. Compare also the Slippery Slope Fallacy (which is sort of like "Step three: loss"). Murder the Hypotenuse is an extreme example of "then I get the girl"-style Step Three: Profit. When Steps One and Two are all nice and clear but Step Three (the actual goal) is lacking, see And Then What?

A subtrope of Non Sequitur.

No real life examples, please; with all the half-thought-out and half-baked plans in the world, we'd be here all day.

Examples of Step Three: Profit include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Keroro Gunsou has this with Keroro's occasional hair-brained schemes to raise money for invasion funds, like his plan to sell ikinari-dango instead of chocolates on Valentine's Day.
  • One Piece offers us Luffy's brilliant plan to become Pirate King, behold:

Phase 1: Get on a boat (survive drowning because of a miracle)
Phase 2: Gather a crew through a series of coincidences.
Phase 3: Go to the Grand Line.
Phase 4: Travel the length of the Grand Line to reach Raftel.
Phase 5: Find One Piece.

    • What the hell is One Piece, anyway?

Phase 6: Profit

    • The best part about this is that it's intentional. Luffy wouldn't be doing it if he actually had any concrete idea of how to accomplish it. He even specifically told Silvers Raleigh (one of the few survivors of Gold Roger's crew) not to tell him what it is.

Luffy: We are NOT asking him where the treasure is hidden!!! We're not even asking him whether there IS any treasure or not!! I'm not sure, but... ...everybody set out to sea, risking their lives to search for it!!! If you ask this old man anything about it here and now... Then I'll quit being a pirate! I don't want to go on a boring adventure like that!

    • Of course, Luffy is hardly the only one with this plan. Finding One Piece is the goal of quite a few pirate crews, and they don't know any more about it than Luffy does.
  • Ash's plan to become a Pokémon Master?

Phase 1: Collect badges.
Phase 2: Beat the Pokémon league
Phase 3: ?
Phase 4: Pokémon Master!

    • Really, it's never even shown whether or not he even knows what he's doing at this point.
      • Someone needs to introduce the above two Idiot Heroes.
      • It's also not even clear, in the context of the anime, what a "Pokémon Master" is, or what the qualifications are for the title. Many fans have concluded that you merely become a Master when your skills are widely recognized enough for there to be consensus among other trainers that you are one.
      • In fact, it's never even really specified as to whether a Pokemon Master is even a real thing or just a name Ash assigned to his fairly nebulous goal. It seems unlikely that it involves catching and recording every single Pokemon, since Ash only attempts to catch roughly 20% of the wild Pokemon he encounters, except of course that one time he caught 30 Tauros for no apparent reason.
      • For the love of the pokegods, will somebody tell Ash that he needs to weaken the damn things before he can capture them with an empty ball? In order to become a master you have to conquer the page 1 basics first.
    • Furthermore, Team Rocket's intentions-

Phase 1: Capture Pikachu and present it to the boss.
Phase 2: ??
Phase 3: Top dogs at Team Rocket!

  • The SOS Brigade's Valentine's Day chocolate-making meeting in Haruhi-chan had the following steps:

Phase 1: Make chocolate.
Phase 2: Powder chocolate.
Phase 3: Wrap chocolate.
Phase 4: Unwrap and eat chocolate.
Phase 5: ?
Phase 6: Profit.

  • Kuranosuke's plan to stop the tearing down of the Amamizu-kan café:

Phase 1: Clean up nicely the Sisterhood.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Amamizu-kan saved

Phase 1: Turn Lemon Beach House into a home base.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Conquer Earth.

  • The King's plan in Dragon Half appeared to be something like this:

Phase 1: Murder Mink
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Marry Mink's mother

  • Buried under half a dozen XanatosGambits in Touhou Project's official manga Silent Sinner in Blue are two protagonists and one vampire who have unabashedly embraced the Step Three: Profit:

1. Go to the Moon
2. ?
3. Profit

Comic Books[edit | hide]

Phase 1: Build army of cyborg animals with machineguns.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Environment is saved

  • The villains in Chick Tracts can sometimes fall into this, such as the gay rights group who wanted to make sure their children wouldn't be bullied by infecting the Red Cross' donor blood supply (which was kept in a huge vat) with AIDS.


Film[edit | hide]

  • This is essentially the entire plot of Phantasm.

Phase 1: Kill people.
Phase 2: Turn dead people into Martian undead midgets.
Phase 3: ?
Phase 4: Profit

    • Maybe not the best example - presumably, the Tall Man has a plan, we just don't know what it is.
  • Time Chasers:

Phase 1: Use time-traveling planes to assassinate people, destroying all of space, time, and continuity.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit

    • This would be the Mystery Science Theater 3000 cut. The original cut of the movie fleshes it out a bit and explains that they planned to use the Time Transport as a weapon. Whether it worked or not, Evil Co would bank on the defense contract.
  • The Crow, when Big Bad Top Dollar proposes his plan for that year's Devil's Night.

Phase 1: Burn down city.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit

    • Top Dollar doesn't care about profit. All he wants is to have what he considers fun because he is bored out of his mind.
  • In Spaceballs:

Lone Star: Step one, we reverse that thing and blow the air back onto the planet. Step two, we destroy that thing.
Princess Vespa: Isn't that dangerous?
Lone Star: Extremely. And more importantly, I don't even know how I'm gonna do it.

Phase 1: Raise a few members of Earth's dead[1] as zombies from your flying saucers powered by strings.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Earth is no longer attempting to split the photon, and the universe doesn't explode.

Phase 1: Force MJ to dump Peter.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Spider-Man is destroyed!

    • In Harry's defense, he probably had a Step 2 (involving attacking Spider-Man when he was upset by the break-up), but didn't count on Peter's Evil Costume Switch. He also probably forced the break up just to make Peter miserable.
    • Harry was only following in dear old Dad's footsteps, considering that (after offing some business rivals—that at least made some sort of sense) his plan in the first movie boiled down to:

Plan A:
Phase 1: Fight and tie up Spider-Man.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Spider-Man is at my side! Profit
Plan B:
Phase 1: In the event Plan A fails because Spider-Man won't cooperate despite the fighting and the tying, kill him instead.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit

    • It makes more sense than that in both cases. In Plan A, step 2 is to point out to Spiderman that the public will turn against him. And in Plan B, if he kills Spiderman, he has no real obstacles to continuing what he was doing (destroying people who were inconvenient to his business aspirations.)
  • As Cracked.com's 6 Evil Corporations in Movies with Terrible Business Plans shows, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation continuously has some plans involving the Alien - a killer machine which can never be controlled, and usually escapes traps. What are they intending to do?!
    • Subverted in the fourth film, where one character mentions numerous applications, such as the Bizarre Alien Biology being used to create vaccines, etc. Also, military applications.
      • Both Weyland-Yutani and the military-industrial complex intended to use the xenomporphs for military purposes. The problem with each film is that both are implied to basically rule the Earth and have pretty much everyone in the series working for them in one way or another, and there is never any hint as to who their rivals are, if any, in what is more or less a future where these xenomorphs seem to be the only type of "alien" life that is out there. In other words, who the hell are these "weapons" supposed to be used on anyway? Especially given just how impossible it is to control the damn things.
  • The Avengers:

Step 1: Macross Missile Massacre the alien dragon to get its attention.
Step 2: ???
Step 3: World saved.


Literature[edit | hide]

Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler was one of those rare people with the ability to think in straight lines.
Most people think in curves and zig-zags. For example, they start from a thought like: I wonder how I can become very rich, and then proceed along an uncertain course which includes thoughts like: I wonder what's for supper, and: I wonder who I know who can lend me five dollars?
Whereas Throat was one of those people who could identify the thought at the other end of the process, in this case I am now very rich, draw a line between the two, and then think his way along it, slowly and patiently, until he got to the other end.
Not that it worked. There was always, he found, some small but vital flaw in the process. It generally involved a strange reluctance on the part of people to buy what he had to sell.

    • There was another one in Night Watch, that almost gets to "profit", but trails off with "7. You're looking at me funny, Sarge. 8. Are we gonna get in trouble for this, Sarge? 9. Sorry, Sarge..."
  • Subverted in Mistborn, where for the first bit of the first book the plan seems to be:

Step 1: Overthrow ancient empire
Step 2: ??
Step 3: Profit

    • Then Kelsier turns around and explains that Step Two is to rob the Evil Overlord's treasury and steal his Unobtanium reserves. And it turns out it was never about profit anyway.
  • Not about profit, but in Prisoners of Power by Brother Strugatski (aka Inhabited Island), Kammerer's plan to deal with situation arguably goes like this:

Step 1: Destroy Control Towers
Step 2: ??
Step 3: Mary Suetopia

    • Surprisingly, we are later told it worked.
  • At the end of The Crying of Lot 49, the protagonist's plan to find the person who has made her life hell is:

step 1: Identify the person by watching who bids on Lot 49.
Step 2: ??
Step 3: Revenge, Closure, and/or Restitution

    • She even acknowledges that the only thing she can think of for Step 2 is maybe causing a scene and causing such a public spectacle that the villain will be exposed, but other than that, she goes in with no plan, and the book ends without the reader knowing.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In the Friends episode "The One In Vegas", Joey is convinced he's found his "identical hand twin", and that this will make his fortune. Somehow.
  • At a Dunder-Mifflin shareholder meeting, Michael attempts to pacify the crowd with a 45-day, 45-point plan for staving off bankruptcy, to be generated during a 15 minute break.

Day 45, company saved. Day 44, go. What do we got?

  • Saturday Night Live had a sketch where a bank just made change, nothing else. When asked how they managed to stay in business, the spokesman replied, "Volume".
  • In the Stargate Atlantis episode "Midway" the Wraith plan seem to be:

Phase 1: Invade earth, the stronghold of the people who have weapons that can destroy our warships in one shot, using a method that makes it impossible for us to bring any warships with us.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Eat the defenseless humans!

    • They actually got very close to fulfilling their plan in the final episode, due to finally being able to link a ZPM with a Wraith hive ship. Said ship was unstoppable, and even Asgard beam weapons (who had previously taken out the much more advanced Ori ships in a few shots) had little effect. If John hadn't flown his 302 into it and detonated a nuke, they would have conquered Earth.
  • On The Larry Sanders Show, nobody else shares Hank's unique vision for "Hank's Look-Around Café," a revolving restaurant. At street level. With no view.

Hank: Where you, and your food, go on an adventure!

Nick: I’m going to become a dot-com millionaire.
Ben: Really? That’s great. So, shouldn’t you, like, get a good idea first?
Nick: But it is a good idea. Dot-com millionaire.

    • The best he can come up with is a website with a clock on it. He hadn't noticed there was one in the corner of the computer screen.
  • The "Money Momentum" scam sketch from The Kids in The Hall, with Those Two Guys targeting senior citizens.
  • Star Trek is deliberately vague as to how Roddenberry's utopian Earth of the future is achieved. We see Step One in Star Trek: First Contact and Step Three in Star Trek: Enterprise, but not how humanity stopped itself from reverting back to its bad old ways once the initial euphoria of First Contact had worn off.
    • In First Contact Deanna explains that the discovery of faster-than-light travel coupled with alien contact (and by implication shared technology and resources) allowed humanity to eradicate poverty, disease and war. Its obvious how tech like replicators, for instance, pretty much puts an end to famine and is a serious blow to human greed. Enterprise is actually Step 2 and ends with Step 3 (the founding of the Federation); they are still dealing with some lingering issues, like the Fantastic Racism of some humans against the aliens.


New Media[edit | hide]

  • The format has become a bit of a meme in certain parts of the internet. Can be combined with almost anything, and be any length as long as the last two steps are "????" and "Profit". Example using tropes:

Phase 1: Launch Evil Plan
Phase 2: Do Evil Laugh
Phase 3: ????
Phase 4: Profit

  • This comment to a Youtube video about how gay marriage will ruin America:

1: Adam and Steve
2: ????
3: Mad Max: Escape from Thunderdome


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • “I think you should be more explicit here in step two”
  • This was a running gag in Doonesbury comics during the Dot Com Boom. A character started a Dot Com company and began Step One by finding venture capitalists to invest in his company. He was so successful at this that he never got around to figuring out what Step Two was supposed to be. To his great amazement the company actually developed a Step Two on its own but he does not find out what they were actually selling until the very end when Microsoft forced them out of business.
  • In a FoxTrot story arc, Roger Fox falls for a get-rich-quick scheme in an infomercial. He pays $200 for a pamphlet supposedly containing information on getting rich, but it amounts to telling him to invent a product, sell it for $200 and sucker 5,000 people into buying it.
    • Jason also had at least one arc where his plan amounted to Step 1: Create a Dot Com company; Step 3: Profit when investors come running.
  • Dilbert, whenever Pointy-Haired Boss is planning, those plans tend toward this.


Video Games[edit | hide]

Phase 1: Create virus that turns people into zombies.
Phase 2: Leave virus in middle of woods so it spreads everywhere, turning everyone on the planet into zombies.
Phase 3: ?
Phase 4: Profit

1. Kill own staff
2. Make zombies
3. Get city nuked
4. Legal proceedings
5. Bankruptcy
6. Something else
7. Profit

    • Resident Evil 5 finally explains their goals: The rest of Umbrella was profitable, the zombie divisions were a personal project of the founders, who were trying to create immortality drugs. It doesn't make the rest of their intermediate plans any less asinine.
      • That explanation, however, completely subverts what the earlier games implied: that the T-Virus experiments were the end result of numerous attempts to create a highly-transmittable version of the Ebola virus, by allowing its infected victims (who would usually be dead) to actually get up and infect others, as a biological weapon which they would then basically sell to the highest bidder. The Raccoon City incident could be interpreted as either a genuine accident or a planned testing ground for the virus's destructive capabilities disguised as an accident (more likely the latter, given the numerous mentions of "test" and/or "combat data" in files).
        • That was one usage explained in RE3. Other uses were to create "Bio-weapons". Soldier like creatures like Tyrants, and creatures like Hunters. Zombie people seem to be a by-product.
      • Wesker himself notes the stupidity and impossibility of profiting from such a scheme, and notes that the only way Spencer could ever hope to make money off this was to have an outbreak and kill all of his staff to avoid paying them. Guess what happens?
        • Wesker does, though, note that creating a virus that can potentially infect every single living organism on the planet, and then having the lab that specialises in its study be right-smack in the middle of a forest teeming with animal life (in fact, Spencer actually built it there on purpose) suggests that his boss actually wanted the virus to get out. Umbrella was never meant to make a profit out of the T-virus; only Spencer was, and the profit wasn't to be cash.
  • Trolls on the RuneScape forums use this quite a bit on "How do I make money" threads. Step 1. Cut willows. Step 2. ? Step 3: Profit (Willow logs are very cheap, around 13 GP each.)
  • In World of Warcraft, one of the Draenei jokes is an ultimate plan for the victory over evil:

Phase 1: We land the Exodar
Phase 3: We defeat Legion, and go home.
There's just... one thing missing...

      • Of course, this goal was indeed accomplished during the Legionfall campaign, although they had to return home (with the Army of the Light) first.
    • Also, a gnomish oil rig in Borean Tundra has a note on the wall with a Step Three: Profit plan. Step 1 is "build oil rig", if you're wondering.
    • One of the goblin jokes is "Skip to step three: Profit!"
    • In the Sunken Temple, Itharius sends you to kill three different troll leaders; the third leader is the Prophet Jammal'an. The quest to kill him, naturally, is called "Step Three: Prophet."
  • Day of the Tentacle. It's not meant to lead to profit, but Step Two could still use some work:

Dr. Fred: Step one: Find plans! Step two: Save world! Step three: Get out of my house!

    • Step Two is actually fairly clearly defined at other points in the game. Unfortunately, it's quite A Simple Plan...
  • Star FOX Assault. When Team Star Fox finds an Aparoid Core Memory that could show them the location of the Aparoid homeworld, Pigma Dengar nabs it. That doesn't turn out well for him.

Step 1: Steal this weird thing that Star Fox wants
Step 2: I won't turn a profit by obeying them!
Step 3: ??
Step 4: Profit

  • Recordshop Tycoon plays this trope straight: Under the "The Office > Marketing Menu > Prices", you see a convenient illustration: Step One: Karma and Average Selling Price. Step 2: ? Step 3: Profit
  • Utsuho, the Final Boss of Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism, has one of these as her "grand plan", with Step One being "Reignite the Hell of Blazing Fires" and Step Three being "Take Over the World!". Entirely justified though, as even before she went mad with power she was deeply stupid.

ZUN: Even a fool that possesses great power can't do much harm.

    • This applies to pretty much every Touhou game.

Step 1: See a problem
Step 2: Blow up youkai
Step 3: ??
Step 4: Profit (or lack of...)

  • The instructions for the Kongregate game Effing Worms reads as follows:

Step One: Eat
Step Two: Grow
Step Three: ????
Step Four: Profit

  • Lampshaded in Dragon Age 2 when the Champion calls Isabella out on not having a plan to find Castillon, she responds that the plan was 'step 1, find his henchman, step 2, something exciting happens, step 3 profit'
  • In the Fallout 3 DLC The Pitt, Wernher's plan was essentially "Step 1. Kidnap Ashur's baby, Step 3. FREEDOM!" At least Ashur and his wife have the scientific knowledge to make some form of progress to the cure while keeping Marie safe. Wernher however has no such resources at his disposal. Of course, he's using the slave rebellion as a power-grab than anything.
    • On the other hand, Ashur's plans aren't the most well thought-out either. Before Marie's birth, it was essentially: "Step 1. Get steel mill situated in a highly toxic and unlivable area up and running, Step 3. Make a nation." After Marie's birth and her chance immunity to radiation, an addendum was added as: "Step 1. Find cure for trog disease, Step 3. End slavery in the Pitt."
  • Aperture Science seems to pretty much run on this at first glance. It only gets scarier when you realize that they actually have a very solidly formulated business model; it's the EXECUTION that goes completely off the rails, and in a very meta way half the steps THEMSELVES become a Step Three: Profit plan. Ergo:

Step One: Design potentially world-changing technology.
Step Two: Use it to... Test another, slightly-less-world-changing technology.
Step Three: Apply the second technology in completely implausible ways (Speed Gel: a food additive that makes it slide through too fast to digest; weight loss!)
Step Four: Continue spending time and money "testing" things in more and more unnecessarily elaborate ways.
Step Five: Sell other, "lesser" products (that still serve a primary function as part of the testing process.)
Step Six: Profit.

    • Bonus points for step seven: using hyper-advanced, brain-mapped (and dangerously unstable) AI and robots not to make money, but to eliminate the need to hire more humans you can't afford to keep replacing because the tests kill them.
      • Step eight, by the way: Shower curtains. Yeah. Aperture started out producing shower curtains and never officially changed it's business model. Cave Johnson was convinced that eventually every last thing, from mobility gels to quantum tunneling to mantis men, came back to shower curtains.
  • Megaman's Dr. Wily's plan for world Domination can be expressed as:

Step 1:Create as many as 8 battle robots
Step 2: Make sure all the robots have weaknesses to each other's weapons
Step 3:Unleash the robots across an undisclosed city to cause havoc
Step 4:????
Step 5:WORLD DOMINATION!!!

  • Dr. Ned in Borderlands indicates he is going to do evil for the sake of profit. Evil seems to be raising the undead for recreational use. Later on he admits that step two never materialized and he's broke.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Galasso, of Shortpacked, appears to have the following long-term plan: "1. Dominate the toy store market, 2. ?, 3. Take Over the World."
    • Another Shortpacked example appears in this strip, where Ethan is trying to run the store. "1. Lie. 2. ??? 3. Profit."
  • Ganondorf's master plan from the Zelda Comic is shown at one point to be "Step I. Punch Link, Step III. Rule World." Brilliant! To hell with step 2, man; he's busy!
  • In this 8-bit Theater, Red Mage's escape plan consists entirely of "Jail, Action/Hijinx, Freedom!"
    • It is, sadly, one of his better plans.
      • Another plan is a variant on the theme. He reasons that the logic of his previous plans was their flaw (since a failure at any one step meant the whole thing fell apart), so he devises a plan utterly devoid of logic; that way, even if one step goes tits up, it didn't actually have any connection to the next step, so the plan as a whole could soldier merrily forward regardless.
  • When Freddie the Flying Fetus asks Bob the Angry Flower to fill in the missing steps in his plan, he actually does so. Sort of.
  • In Freefall, Kornada´s "plan" seems to go like this:

1. Make the Ridiculously-Human Robots download GITD.
2. Lobotomise them.
3. ?
4. Profit.

1. FORCE people to get fat.
2. ???
3. Profit!

Torg: There's another one of me running around?
Riff: You sound excited.
Torg: Two of me! Think of the possibilities!
(...)
Riff: Nope. Can't think of anything.
Torg: We could do a really cool Doublemint commercial!

Torg: How would that "save" us?
Riff: It's big and clunky, better for head smacking!
Torg: What about the other two guys with guns?
Riff: I dunno. Hit them with a chair or something? Do I have to think of everything?

  • Erfworld has a variant. Wanda admits she doesn't know what the missing step is but also firmly believes You Can't Fight Fate so she is going through with the plan anyway.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Underpants Gnomes from South Park, as seen in the image (and thus are the Trope Namer). They go around at night collecting vast quantities of underwear, which they will use to profit. Somehow. As shown, the chart has become a Memetic Mutation.
    • Every gnome figured that some of the other gnomes knew what step two was, and that it was being kept secret for a very, very good reason, which is why they didn't question it.
  • Some of the plots of the Legion of Doom in Superfriends ran this way: they would go to some ridiculous expense to get some item that would brainwash the Super Friends into walking into a volcano, thus clearing the way for the Legion's conquest of the world or something. They were foiled every time, of course, but their schemes would include an often equally expensive escape plan.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy parodies this trope by having Eddy start a smalltime corporation with the cul-de-sac kids that was only focused on "going up". Once people realize that the corporation was basically doing nothing, and that everybody was working without pay, everybody left except the Eds (which of course, is Truth in Television).
    • In the episode where Ed makes a scam, the plan goes from zany to ridiculous and disjointed.

Phase 1: Put the rock on the 'X' 'Q', dress Eddy and Double D outlandishly, have Double D give Eddy the pancakes, paint a cement mixer like an Aztec temple, steal teddy bear, bite into teddy bear's stomach...
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Curse of Evil Tim (Profit?)

      • Said scam comes with a dose of Fridge Brilliance when you realize that Ed sometimes repeats thing he sees in comic books..... and then turns into Nightmare Fuel when said scam summons a large flock of ravens.
    • Many of Eddy's plans could probably be summed up as this, especially ones where he actually seems to go out of his own way to sabotage, such as randomly putting a bowling pin in a cream puff they were selling (to make it bigger maybe?)
  • The Corrupt Corporate Executive villains on Captain Planet, when they're not just doing it For the Evulz. Maybe they're trying to sell pollution...?

Phase 1: Pollute the Planet, kill off endangered species, destroy natural habitats.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit

    • Word of God is that this was intentional. The whole point was a Green Aesop, but they just couldn't bring themselves to use realistic people with realistic motivations as villains. Too many kids with parents in those fields watching, you see.
    • And the Very Special Episode about HIV/AIDS takes it Up to Eleven:

Phase 1: Spread misinformation about AIDS.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: World domination

  • In one episode of Super Chicken, a villain named "The Geezer" attempts to steal the geyser "Old Facefull" from Yellowstone National Park. The narrator questions his motivation:

Geezer: There's a million things you can do with a geyser!
Narrator: Such as?
Geezer: Uh ... I'll think of something!

Phase 1: Steal a MacGuffin that allows humans and dogs to understand each other
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: WORLD DOMINATION

    • As an added note, here's his backup plan:

Phase 1: Use a Mirror Morality Machine to turn all dogs into vicious attack dogs
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: WORLD DOMINATION [2]

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: "All I have to do is... figure out what I have to do. But after that, no problem!"
    • This was pretty much Sokka's plan for submarines. His plan involved what looked like getting in a whale. No explanation was given to how the plan would work. Good thing the the Mechanist was there to properly design the subs.
  • In Dan Vs., Dan's plan to overcome the terrible traffic in LA:

Procure monster truck.
Crush all cars in way.
Live Happily Ever After.

Phase 1: Loud Conan warcry
Phase 2: Charge and grab giant snake by the neck
Phase 3: Make something up

  • Brain's plans from Pinky and The Brain usually follow this route. He explains them as "implement some bizarre technological gizmo and rise to power in the ensuing confusion", never actually explaining how he was planning to seize power.
  • Lampshaded in Phineas and Ferb's first episode:

"I, Doctor Heinz Doofenshmirtz, have covered the entire eastern seaboard in tin foil. And when I put my giant magnet, next to my genius Magnetism Magnifier, I will pull the eastern, in westerly direction, there by reversing the rotation of the earth. You may ask yourself, 'why would he do this? What could he possibly have to gain?' Well, let me just answer that question, I haven't really worked on all the bugs yet. I mean, tin foil alone costs a lot..."

    • At another point, Doctor Doofensmirtz has the genius plan of stopping all the cars in the Tri-State Area, and only he alone, who has invested in a tow-truck business will become rich! And then he realises that it will be really hard to get his tow-truck through the roads, since they'll all be jammed...

Doof: Eh, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

    • Yet another example, from "Mom Attractor":

Phase 1: Doof: I know it sounds complicated, but I've thought this one through. Babies cry, everyone's unhappy...
Phase 2: ???
Phase 3: Doof...and I somehow take over. It's foolproof!

  • Homer Simpson has probably run through quite a few, but usually they're more Zany Schemes than this; however, he once ran an online business whose business plan was something like:

Phase 1: The Internet.
Phase 2: ???
Phase 3: Profit. (Still gets bought out by Microsoft, though.)

    • The internet dot com bubble basically ran on this exact plan, pets.com being the poster child of an ill-defined business plan relying on the mystical powers of the internet to make money when conventional business savvy dictated to look elsewhere.
  • This is lampshaded in one of the "U.S. Acres" segments of Garfield and Friends, where Orson's older brother Gort breaks into the farm and gets into the tomato storage. Orson gets Roy to help, and Roy quickly brings up the obvious: What are they going to do once they confront him, seeing as Gort is the type who can effortlessly flatten them with his big toe.

Other media[edit | hide]

  • One of the MIT Mystery Hunt puzzles in 2008 featured this as a puzzle device.
  • Disneyfied fairy tales tend to run like this a bit:

Step One: Oppression or other dissatisfaction with own life
Step Two: Hope really hard.
Step Three: Happily ever after.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Verizon's plan to make Tumblr "advertiser-friendly" and generate great wealth therefrom at the end of 2018 seems to have run something along the lines of:

1. Ban the 5% of blogs that generate 25% of the site's traffic.
2. Tell the LGBTQ community, who make up another 25% of the site and whom you've long promised will always be treated well, that they are no longer wanted.
3. Crow loudly in public how you're going to turn fandoms and social movements like Black Lives Matter into your corporate money-making engines.
4. Wait for new users to pour in.
5. Profit.

New users didn't pour in, and Tumblr started hemorrhaging existing users who hadn't been shown the door by the staff. Five months later Verizon was desperately shopping for someone -- anyone -- to take Tumblr off their hands.


  1. All of three people in small town California, to be precise
  2. Arguably, this plan made more sense