Created By: GliderGuy on August 15, 2011 Last Edited By: GliderGuy on March 9, 2012

Ridiculous-case scenario

A worst-case scenario that's far worse than any realistic scenario.

Name Space:
Page Type:
"What's the worst thing that could happen?"
"Our beta product could turn into an evil robot that annihilates the galaxy."
"Apparently, I don't know what 'worst' means."

It's useful to have a worst-case scenario. When you're deciding tactics, or investing, or anything else, it can be helpful to judge your risk in part by figuring out what your worst possible loss could be.

However, some characters take this too far. A worst-case scenario could be that, if Bob invests a certain way, he loses his investment. A ridiculous case is that Bob's investment is used to finance a nanorobot swarm that consumes all matter in the universe. A worst-case scenario in planning a driving route might be getting lost, or perhaps breaking down on some back road. A ridiculous-case scenario could be driving into a wormhole that teleports the driver to the middle of the sun.

Some characters will try to justify this by explaining that they are just interpreting 'worst' literally. Any attempts to confine the scenarios to those that have at least a small probability of actually happening will be invariably brushed off.

A subversion might be a worst-case scenario that's actually not all that bad.

Rolling Updates


  • Dilbert. The eponymous character's literal nature leads him right into this.
  • The Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide books are built on these.
  • xkcd mocked the news media by invoking this trope, with:
  • Archer has Archer himself saying this, to Cheryl's consternation.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Out To Launch", Candace is nervous about asking Jeremy to a dance. In her Imagine Spot, he says no, he laughs at her, all his friends laugh at her, the whole town laughs at her, and the Earth explodes. Stacy points out, "You do realize that's kind of a worst-case scenario."
  • Fans! has a guy imaging worst-case scenarios for a date. One of them involves his neck getting snapped.
Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • August 15, 2011
    Nice, I like it.
  • August 16, 2011
    needs clarification: Does this only apply to predictions, or can it also apply to when the ridiculously worst case actually happens?

    I have an example for both. In the Discworld novels, Rincewind and Twoflower are making an escape on a broom (I forgot what they were escaping from) and from one paragraph to the next, they've gone from flying to crashed. The following conversation reveals that Twoflower suggested they slow down, Rincewind replied that the only thing they could hit at this height would be a cloud full of rocks, and Twoflower is now asking how he knew that they would crash into just that.
  • August 16, 2011
    Generall, this only applies to predictions, because the events by definition are so unlikely that they wouldn't actually happen. In satires, where the impossible does happen, then sometimes the ridiculous-case could actually occur (might be considered a subversion).
  • August 16, 2011
    I swear I find this concept familiar, I'm just not sure from where...
  • August 16, 2011
    • Archer:
      Sterling Archer: Cyril, come on! Worst case scenario, her cover got blown and Skorpio's raping her senseless before he chops her battered corpse into fish food.
      Cheryl: How could you say that?
      Sterling Archer: What? I said worst case!

  • August 16, 2011
    Edit: Sorry, already listed.
  • August 16, 2011
    • In the Phineas And Ferb episode "Out To Launch", Candace is nervous about asking Jeremy to a dance. In her Imagine Spot, he says no, he laughs at her, all his friends laugh at her, the whole town laughs at her, and the Earth explodes. Stacy points out, "You do realize that's kind of a worst-case scenario."
  • August 17, 2011
    • In Fans, one character is going on a date with a woman he has relatively little in common with and ios very nervous about it. His more-successful-with-women friend asks "what's the worst that could happen?" The nervous guy imagines several scenarios, most kind of plausible, but ending up with one where the woman snaps his neck for being inadequate.
  • August 17, 2011
    Related to the Slippery Slope Fallacy.
  • August 20, 2011
    also similar to/can result in Godzilla Threshold
  • August 22, 2011
    The XKCD one might make a good page image, by the way.
  • August 22, 2011
    Happens in Surface Detail; the start of one of the plot is a simulation of a really, really, really worst-case scenario.
  • August 22, 2011
    • In Calvin And Hobbes, when Calvin wants to go outside to play in the rain, his Mom uses one of these to dissuade him. Paraphrased, she basically said that he could get pneumonia, wrack up a huge hospital bill, and die.... from playing in the rain.
  • August 22, 2011
    ^ Ooh, that might make a good page image instead.
  • August 22, 2011
    Oddly enough, the original Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook was a serious book written with input from many experts. After that, the series degenerated into comedy. The case situations went from things like "How to treat a poisonous snake bite" to "What to do if your girlfriend dumps you at the prom".
  • August 22, 2011
    Here's the strip, if you want the image.
  • August 22, 2011
    I'm not sure if these count as examples or not, but my first thought was Buffy The Vampire Slayer, with the Scoobies trying to come up with a way to defeat the Mayor in "Graduation Day".
    Cordelia: I personally don't think it's possible to come up with a crazier plan.
    Oz: We attack the Mayor with hummus.
    Cordelia: I stand corrected.
    Oz: Just keeping things in perspective.

    Later, they're still having trouble with the planning part.
    Angel: Well, he wasn't too crazy about germs.
    Cordelia: Of course! That's it! We'll attack him with germs.
    Buffy: Great! We'll get him cornered and then you can sneeze on him.
    Cordelia: No! No. We'll get a container of Ebola virus and... and... or, it doesn't even have to be real. We can get a box that says Ebola on it and... um... chase him! (silence) With the box.
    Xander: I'm starting to lean towards the Hummus Offensive.
    Oz: They'll never see it coming.
  • August 22, 2011
    Not examples. Just related by means of a different trope.
  • August 28, 2011
    Somewhat related to Disaster Dominoes.

    Oh yes, a few of Toshiba's 2011 commercials:
  • August 29, 2011
    • In Real Life, the idea of a Zombie Apocalypse is becoming the standard one.
    • In one episode of Kenan And Kel, Kenan tells Kel to ask his boss Chris for a job.
      Kenan: The worst that could happen is he says no.
      Kel: NO! The worst that could happen is that he starts shouting at me! And throwing stuff at me! And then feeds me to his giant pet tarantula!
      *Chris walks back in*
      Kel: *terrified* you have a giant pet tarantula?
  • August 29, 2011
    It's also implied in this xkcd strip.
  • January 2, 2012
  • January 2, 2012
    Would there be a Sub Trope where the prediction actually comes true?
  • January 3, 2012
    • Omoi in Naruto constantly makes up these. For example, when Karui throws a small stone at him, he argues that it could ricochet on a bigger stone and start a chain reaction, up to a collapse that would erase Konoha village. When they arrive at Konoha, which was levelled by Pain's Dangerous Forbidden Technique earlier, Karui gasps in horror, thinking it's her fault.
  • January 5, 2012
    In the original ending of Clerks, after having spent the entire day going through hell (as far as he is concerned), Dante is shot and killed by an armed robber.
  • January 5, 2012
  • January 20, 2012
    Sometimes played straight in PSAs and Chick Tracts.
  • January 23, 2012
    When it actually happens, Necro Non Sequitur might follow.
  • March 9, 2012
    • In Doug, when Porkchop fell in love with another dog in the neighborhood and it looked like he might leave Doug to be with her, when Doug tried to imagine getting another pet the only scenario his mind could come up with was replacing Porkchop with a pet lobster, which pinches his nose when he leans in too close.