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


(permanent link) added: 2011-08-15 20:53:10 sponsor: GliderGuy (last reply: 2012-03-09 17:23:44)

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"What's the worst thing that could happen?"
"Our beta product could turn into an evil robot that annihilates the galaxy."
(Later)
"Apparently, I don't know what 'worst' means."
--Dilbert

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.

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Examples:

  • 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: http://xkcd.com/748/
  • 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.
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