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When was the first occurrence of the hero's plan to save the day require the villain's plan to succeed (at first)? The villains plan needs to succeed fully (so no "actually you thought you did it". The villain actually did it but it was undone as a result of the hero's preparation).

An example: In Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood,

Van Hohenheim has a plan to undo Father's plot, but it cannot be activated without Father's ritual to become God finishing fully.

A less specific example is the villain creating a dangerous chemical and spreading it. But the hero has also spread a chemical that, when combined with the villain's, creates a harmless or helpful result.

The most important element is that the villain's plan goes as he planned from start to finish. The finale of his plan is what allows the hero's counter-plan to start.

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  • Sounds like a Batman Gambit to me.
    – DavidW
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 14:51
  • @DavidW It's similar, but does the Batman Gambit include the need for the plan to succeed? As far as I remember Batman tends to stop the villain right before the final victory. Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 14:56
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    How about "if you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine"? Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 17:24
  • @Parrotmaster In a way. He was counting on Harley Quinn to successfully kidnap him and convince her to convince the Joker to come and witness his death. That was part of of an episode of Batman: The Animated Series in which Dr. Harleen was recounting how she met the Joker.
    – Clockwork
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 17:58
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    I'm going to go with 'The Crucifixion'
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 18:00

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It's not clear how "fully" you want the villain's plan to have succeeded.

Most of Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1953) is concerned with people from the First Foundation trying to riddle out where the Second Foundation is. At the very end, they decide that it's right there on Terminus with them and "eliminate" the Second Foundation by arresting some people.

But in the last scene,

we find the leaders of the Second Foundation in the ruins of Trantor (where they'd always been, despite Trantor having previously been considered and discarded as a candidate) discussing how they sacrificed their agents on Terminus to make the First Foundation think they'd succeeded.

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  • I think a good example is Jafar from Alladin becoming the most powerful being in the universe, but that means he loses (Genies go into the lamp). Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 7:45

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