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[[quoteright:349:[[VisualNovel/UminekoNoNakuKoroNi http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/battler-endlessnine.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:349:So anywhere between a billion and infinity.]]

->''"So many energy sources are described this way in the Trek universe, it must be its own category in the Federation database. Something like'' “Energy Sources—[[{{Portmanteau}} Unbeforeseen]]. (See: Misc.).”
-->--'''Website/TheAgonyBooth''' [[http://www.agonybooth.com/recaps/Star_Trek_V__The_Final_Frontier_1989.aspx?Page=11 recap]] of ''Film/StarTrekVTheFinalFrontier''

->'''Computer''': Plasma levels at 110%.\\
'''Air Raid''': 110? It ''goes'' that high?!\\
'''Jetfire''': No, that's the ''point!'' It's about to blow!
-->--''Videogame/TransformersWarForCybertron''

The instruments used by the heroes, be they solitary investigators in the back woods or interstellar explorers on the fringes of the galaxy, are never up to the task of actually measuring the full scope of their subjects. Nor can they be recalibrated to expand that range at the cost of some loss of detail. The result is that not a day goes by that something doesn't peg the meters, rendering them completely useless.

A reading that's so far off the scale as to be truly incredible may even cause the measuring device to suffer from ExplosiveInstrumentation.

Presumably this is to allow writers to say something is astonishingly big or powerful, without having to [[{{Microts}} make up the measuring units]] for [[{{Technobabble}} Subspace Quantum Tachyon Emissions]], or using a real value that is completely [[SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale out of proportion]] to what would be sensible. Basically UpToEleven taken, well, UpToEleven.

In comedy genres, many [[ThingOMeter Thing 'o Meters]] (like Pun 'o-meter or annoying 'o-Meter, or the ever-popular [[Film/MenInBlack Weird Shit 'o-Meter]]) will most likely tend to go off-scale or even explode.

It should probably be noted that, as the Real Life Examples below indicate, in Real Life, it's seldom as easy as just "recalibrating". At a certain point, any measuring device will eventually reach the limit of what it was designed to measure.

Seen in almost every SpaceOpera.

If you're using a chart, OffTheChart will be the case, too.

A SuperTrope to ReadingsBlewUpTheScale.

When this is applied to reviews, it's BrokeTheRatingScale.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* In ''Anime/DragonBallZ'', characters working for the BigBad Frieza have eyepieces called "Scouters" that measure ki, outputting it as a 'combat rating' (or '{{power levels}}' in the dub), and if a low quality scouter, like the ones used by {{Red Shirt}}s, is used to measure a combat rating that is rising at a rate that the unit cannot handle, it'll explode. The higher-ups get ones that don't have this flaw, although [[NeverLiveItDown Vegeta has a bad habit]] [[MemeticMutation of crushing them anyway]]. At different points in the series, Raditz, Nappa, Jeice, and Androids 17 and 18 are each shocked at their opponent's power level as given by the scouter, and they immediately dismiss their scouter as flawed or broken. (In the case of the androids, the scouter being used was the one built into Android 16).
** One filler scene in the anime involved the mooks on a different planet measuring the readings of Frieza and Goku... who were killed when the readings overload [[ExplosiveInstrumentation blew up the entire complex]].
** Toriyama admitted he did this intentionally, as he didn't like the hard-and-fast "this character is more powerful than that one by this amount" corner the scouters had painted him into, and also the ever-increasing power levels would have made for ever-increasingly stupid sounding numbers.
** ''KidsNextDoor'' spoofs this part of ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' in a skewed [[TheRashomon Rashomon-type]] episode. In Numbah 4's telling of the pizza delivery, it is a spoof of ''Dragon Ball Z'', down to transformations and Ki (Or rather bubblegum bubbles) balls. During the scene where he is continually being zapped by The Delightful Kids From Down The Lane (as a multi-headed Frieza no less).
--> '''Numbah 4:''' ''"Their power levels... are off... the charts! I'm really gonna have to get some... bigger charts...!"''
** ''Manga/{{Gintama}}'' also spoofs with a device called Spouzer, which rates power levels in [[UnitConfusion units of kelp and boobs]]. The Spouzer shatters after evaluating two characters suffering from [[YoungerThanTheyLook some sort of old-age-causing biological attack thingy]], rating them at power levels of under negative 9000 and dropping.
* In one episode of ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion,'' Lt. Ibuki uses this trope directly ("All our meters and gauges are going off the scale!") when trying to recover Eva-01 and Shinji.
** Misato finally addresses this trope in one of the last few episodes:
--->'''Maya:''' Yet, I can't believe it. I mean, it's impossible on this system.
--->'''Misato:''' Nevertheless, it's a fact. We must accept the fact and then investigate the cause.
** In ''Anime/RebuildOfEvangelion'' it's not so much a matter of going beyond measurable values as exceeding safety thresholds; the "negative values" of [[PowerLevels plug depth]] indicate the pilot has moved out of safe depths in the plug and into the zone where "contamination" is a major concern. Eva-02's beast mode also causes all readings to go haywire and Eva-01's destruction of its limiters allows it to "transcend all human reason."
** Plug depths actually have a limitation on how high they can go. It's labeled "The Great Beyond Depth"; one can only assume things don't go well for the pilot there.
* This line is used in the [[GainaxEnding Gainax Opening]] of ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'', where [[FanNickname Captain GARlock]] faces down an armada with an impossibly large size: The fleet size is "off the charts". The opening fades out as he orders the attack.
** The gauge our heroes use for measuring their spiral energy is designed to handle large values: It's a logarithmic scale, which first spirals outward in one color, then switches to another color and spirals outward again, and repeats this as much as is necessary. After [[spoiler:Lordgenome's HeroicSacrifice in the final episode,]] the gauge switches immediately to a never-before-seen ''rainbow'' color, spirals out to the maximum, and then [[spoiler:the glass covering ''shatters'' and it keeps ''increasing onto empty air'']], in plain [[RuleOfCool defiance of all logic and common sense]]. In other words [[BeyondTheImpossible spiral power went off the scale on a scale that was designed to measure things that go off the scale.]]
* In ''{{Diebuster}}'', the Buster Machine Quatre-Vingt-Dix uses a physics-breaking Exotic Maneuver to freeze enemies at -1,000,020,000,000 Celsius. Note that absolute zero (the coldest possible temperature, at which all molecular motion stops and thermal energy is nonexistent) is about -273 degrees Celsius. You cannot, ''ever'', go colder than this.
* In ''SpaceRunawayIdeon,'' the crew of the Solo Ship head back to Earth to use the most advanced computer on the planet to try and calculate the eponymous mecha's potential output. Needless to say, they're all shocked when the readout points to [[spoiler:literal infinity.]] Quickly, they begin to worry about the fact that a release of that kind of energy at once could [[spoiler:destroy the universe.]] The computer wasn't exaggerating....
* In the FRLG saga of ''PokemonSpecial'', [[TheBrute Orm]] uses the Dark Pokédex to gauge the power of Yellow's Pokémon and laughs at their low levels. And then Yellow's [[SuperEmpowering Viridian Power kicks in]], sending the numbers over the eighties, effectively freaking him and Sird out to the point that they know better than to try to fight her head-on.
* In Episode 22 of ''[[Anime/{{Pokemon}} Pokemon Black and White]]'', one of Professor Juniper's assistants mentions that the energy readings they're getting are off the scale.
* In ''VisualNovel/UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'', where ''gods'' are hard-pressed to even ''reach'' the last measured digit in magic resistance, meta-Battler's [[AntiMagic resistance]] is '''maxed out''' at "Endless Nine", as the Siestas discover to their horror after they try to shoot him (page picture).
** It makes sense his AntiMagic is at endless nine. He's Anti-Magic incarnate, thanks to his position in the game as "Magic cannot exist." Also note that this reading was taken during his high point; in the previous arcs he's a bit less of a determinator and in later arcs, [[spoiler:he begins to accept the existence of magic and even gets to be [[strike:Beatrice]] Endless Sorcerer.]]
** Though that doesn't stop him from [[NoSell no-selling]] [[spoiler:Featherine]]'s entire honor guard of main-character mages' spell-storm in EP8. Seems like once [[spoiler:he reaches the truth, he can toggle it at will. Or maybe just when he's protecting someone.]]
* In ''LightNovel/BakaToTestToShoukanjuu'', during a FuroScene, Shimada examines several other girls' breasts with size-detecting heat vision. One... generously endowed character [[GagBoobs causes the numbers to max out.]]
* ''Anime/YuGiOh'': Seto Kaiba's computer control panels nearly [[ExplosiveInstrumentation exploded]] when Kaiba powered up his [[InfinityPlusOneSword Infinity Plus One Card]], [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast Obelisk the Tormentor]]. A bit peculiar considering that Obelisk was a hologram with no physical presence whose model, animations, and statistics were probably programmed into a Duel Disk with computers probably not too far off from the ones used to gauge its power level. And given that each card's statistics had to be programmed into the Duel Disk to begin with, it's not so clear why Kaiba needed to monitor any monster's power levels at all.
** The dub of the Duelist Kingdom arc has Tea saying (in an awestruck voice) "Blue-eyes Ultimate Dragon's Attack Power is [[OhCrap off the charts!]] Of course the card in question has 4500 ATK and at this point in the game and show normal Blue-eyes' 3000 ATK was considered [[GameBreaker overwhelming,]] so the reaction was justified.
** In ''Anime/YuGiOhGX'', Amon becomes wise to Professor Cobra's plan to kill him by increasing the power to his D-Belt; so Amon sabotages Cobras equipment so that the same thing happens to ''everyone'' D-Belt and then throwing a party where dueling is involved. (Amon realizes that Cobra will be forced to abort the plan, lest ''every student in the school'' die as a result, something he would ''never'' get away with.) The result is an OhCrap from Cobra as readings on his equipment goes haywire, followed by him panicking as he tries to shut the system down.
* In ''Ties That Bind'', the companion movie to ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIV'', Ryu's [[SuperpoweredEvilSide Satsui no Hadou]] is the target of [[BigBad Seth and SIN]]. The first time he's provoked into using his power, the power gauge the scientists are reading max at ...999999999999999 (the camera angle obscures the start of the number, [[TakeOurWordForIt but it's big]]). In the final battle, he manages to ''[[TranquilFury control]] the Satsui no Hadou'', and we get a shot of the equipment rolling over from ...999999999999999 to ...000000000000000.
** ''Anime/StreetFighterIITheAnimatedMovie'' has a more subdued example, where a similar reading of Ryu rated his fighting potential at 3620. That number may sound reasonable, but M. Bison's lead scientist believes that the reading must be wrong because only the most powerful martial artists can break 2000, so 3000+ is off the scale.
* In the first ''SakuraWars'' OVA the developers of the spirit armor are having trouble finding someone who is able to pilot it. After their latest military pilot nearly kills himself trying to operate the mech, the scientists comment that they need to find someone who can move the gauge on the [[BuffySpeak spirit-power-measuring-thingy]]. They idly flip it on in the presence of the granddaughter of the chief scientist (and daughter of the owner of the company), and the gauge, of course, promptly overloads and breaks.
* In ''Anime/GuiltyCrown'' the protagonists at some point find a Void-o-meter. For Inori it simply shows "Over" after going up to 2000.
* When the main Zentraedi fleet shows up in Earth's orbit in ''{{Robotech}}'', everyone there understandably has an OhCrap moment, and one of the characters mentions that due to the sheer volume of ships (5 million of them), their radar can't even keep up with it all.
* In the final arc of ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', an attack on Soul Society manifests as multiple powerful pillars of light - one of Mayuri's technicians analyses them and complains that the amount of raw power makes it hard to calibrate the instruments, before finally getting a clear reading and confirming the enemy to be the [[spoiler:Quincies]]. Then the attackers step out of the pillars and the story goes from NobodyCanDie straight to triple digits bodycount, including named characters.
* ''NGKnightLamune40'', the main robot King Sccrusher runs on a HotBlooded meter, and it can use a LimitBreak when the guage goes off a scale. Since this is a traditional shonen anime, the meter goes off the scale every episode.
* In ''Manga/FairyTail'''s Grand Magic Games arc, Cana Alberona, [[spoiler:armed with Fairy Glitter]], has a much greater magic level than everybody else, much to everybody's amazement. The magic-measuring device stopped at 9999 because that was as far as it went.
* The final episode of ''Franchise/SentouYouseiYukikaze'' has so many JAM clustered around the Passageway that the sensor officers in the FAF fleet simply give up trying to count them. It's very justified, considering that [[spoiler: the planet Faery is breaking up and revealing that [[TheWormThatWalks it is built out of countless JAM.]]]]
* ''Manga/{{Toriko}}'' does this with its Capture Level system. For example, capture level of 5 and above is immune to conventional weapons. The strongest beasts in the human world range between capture level 91-99. However in the Gourmet World it goes off the scale with creatures regularly getting levels of over 100. The first beast Toriko even encounters is the Breath Dragon with a capture level of ''219''. [[spoiler: The strongest capture level is an elder Battle Wolf... ''6090''.]]
* ''Fanchise/{{Naruto}}'':
** This happens with the Ten Tails. When the Ten Tails finally appears, Kurama, the Nine Tails, tells Naruto that trying to measure the Ten Tails chakra levels is pointless. Naruto goes into Sage mode, allowing him to sense the Ten Tails's Chakra, and is almost blown back by it, and were given a visual of how much it has: [[spoiler: It's depicted as a ''Planet''.]] This is later taken further as the Ten Tails turns into it's second form, and back at the Shinobi Alliance headquarters, an entire second sphere of chakra is created as a result of the mutation, symbolized as a planet appearing, and making it, in just it's second form, have enough chakra to rival every living thing on the planet. And it just gets stronger from there.
** Taken UpToEleven with the appearance of [[spoiler:Kaguya. While it's already hinted that Kaguya is extremely strong (so strong that the Sage of Six Paths himself, her own son, says that he's nothing compared to her), when she finally ressurrects herself, Naruto again attempts to measure her chakra. She has so much that ''She dwarfs the aforementioned Ten Tails''. So she essentially dwarfs a being so powerful it was at that point '''stronger then every other being on earth combined'''!]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in an issue of ''Comicbook/FantasticFour'':
-->'''Mr. Fantastic:''' Power is right off the readouts...\\
'''Human Torch:''' So I'm guessing bigger readouts wouldn't help? Like that amp in ''[[ThisIsSpinalTap Spinal Tap]]'' that goes UpToEleven?
* In ''ComicBook/CableAndDeadpool'' issue #15, Black Box has {{Deadpool}} hooked up to some equipment that's monitoring him and showing Black Box his thoughts. After some observation, Black Box notes that Deadpool's ferocity and skills are off the charts.
-->'''Black Box:''' Clowns. He is too funny. But his ferocity--his skills--are off the charts. I should know...I've charted them all.
* Lampshaded in an issue of First Comics' HumongousMecha series ''Dynamo Joe'':
-->'''Pomru''': The readings are off the scale! If we get outta this we're gonna need a bigger scale!
* In ''ComicBook/InnocenceLost'', Rice uses this to describe ComicBook/{{X-23}}'s [[GeniusBruiser intellect and physical fitness]]. When she's ''[[TykeBomb seven years old]]''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* In ''Film/DasBoot'', when everything is going to hell and the submarine is stuck on the ocean floor, the depth gauge is far past its last marking (220 meters). 220 meters is already way past the point where the navy originally expected the hull to be crushed and destroyed. The manufacturer's warranty extended only to ''90'' meters.
* Implied in ''Film/{{Ghostbusters}}''.
** The PKE meter (handheld device used to measure ghost activity) seems to only have three readings: "Zero," "Pegged," and "Blown Up." When we see it used, it only seems to go "active" when a ghost is within visual range, so it's only slightly better than, say, looking.
** The 2009 video game shows the PKE meter in better detail. The "antenna" on the meter rise higher the closer the meter is to a spectral entity, regardless of power. The bars in the middle are kind of a "hot-cold" mechanic for pinpointing a hidden ghost or cursed object. There's more to it than that, as Ray and Egon both comment on the readings, noting things that are non-obvious, but for the rookie Ghostbuster (that's you), it's just a ghost locator.
* ''Film/TheFifthElement'': Temperature probes sent to absolute evil jam, one at a million degrees, the other at minus 5000. A bit later, Leeloo's DNA is described as having hundreds of different bases.[[note]]The "minus 5000" part is more than just "off the charts", it's actually impossible. The lowest possible temperature is absolute zero (0 °K), or −273.15 °C, or −459.67 °F.[[/note]]
* In ''Film/ThePhantomMenace'', Anakin Skywalker's midi-chlorian level is said to be "off the charts" and "over twenty thousand." It's not entirely clear whether this means that they could only measure them up to twenty thousand, or that a little over twenty thousand was the actual count but unprecedentedly high, even Master Yoda doesn't have that much.
* Midway through ''Film/ForbiddenPlanet'', we are shown a power gauge consisting of a (very large) number of lighted displays, each of which shows ten times the amperage of the previous one. (Think of it as a decimal display with a whole lotta digits.) What the protagonists consider a large power output barely registers as a blip on the first gauge. Naturally, by the end of the film, we see the whole panel lit up (and flashing!).
* The energy readings of the reactor in Antarctica are off the scale to Nite Owl's Owlship in ''Film/{{Watchmen}}''.
* ''Film/{{Whiteout}}'' has a particularly ridiculous example, where someone says that the ''radar'' went off the charts. Given that radar isn't actually used to measure anything, how it can go "off the charts" is a mystery.
* The 2009 ''Film/StarTrek'' film uses it twice, most bizarrely for James Kirk's attribute tests (there's no way to score very high scorers?). Either that or "Off the charts" is used as Federation slang for "Really friggin' high": a fact which would explain an awful lot.
* Inverted in the Soviet sci-fi film ''MoscowCassiopeia'', where an accident (a guy sitting on a console) results in their relativistic ship accelerating [[FasterThanLightTravel beyond the speed of light]] in just a few seconds. TheCaptain notes this on the console readout, which shows the rising speed bar. Forgetting the fact that accelerating beyond the speed of light is impossible without some sort of AppliedPhlebotinum, there'd be no way for any device to ''measure'' translight speeds (although you could still put the numbers on the scale just for the hell of it). The crew passes out and wakes up to find that they have arrived at their destination, while everyone on Earth has aged several decades, which seems to indicate that they did ''not'', in fact, travel faster than light but merely approached the speed of light, causing TimeDilation. Given that the captain is still a teenager, it can be forgiven if he incorrectly gauged the speed.
** According to the ship's name/acronym ''[=ZARYa=]'' (means "dawn"), the "R" standads for "relativistic", meaning the ship is actually designed to go to a significant percentage of the speed of light (at least 10%). In order to experience the TimeDilation effects the teens did, they would have had to travel much faster (at least 99%).
* ''Film/JurassicPark'' had computers ensuring the park had the number of animals it was supposed to and none had escaped. But the program stopped counting at the expected number,which meant the system didn't know the dinosaurs were breeding.
* Bomba says this in one scene in ''WesternAnimation/{{Epic}}'' .
* In the original ''Film/ANightmareOnElmStreet1984'', Nancy has her dreams monitored by a brain-scan. The doctor notes that a "really intense" nightmare would read about seven...then watches in disbelief as it goes to 10, 15, 30...
* In ''Film/ThisIslandEarth'', Joe tells Cal about a strange bead-like device that blew up their equipment after giving off an amazing amount of power. Cal muses on this, realizing they could use it to generate enough power to power an entire town by itself with it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Despite their phenomenally polymorphic instrumentation and interface, sensors on ''Franchise/StarTrek'' are especially prone to this fatal weakness. This is {{lampshade|Hanging}}d in the ''StarTrekNewFrontier'' book ''Being Human'':
-->'''Soleta:''' Readings are off the scale.\\
'''[=McHenry=]:''' They're always off the scale. We just have to install bigger scales.
* Funny inversion in ''Literature/GoodOmens'' by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman: The temperature at the evil sigil during the [[EndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt Apocalypse]] is never measured correctly. The machines put it at either -150 or +350 degrees. Both are correct, 'cuz that's the temperature in Hell.
* ''The Last Continent'' in Literature/{{Discworld}} uses a thaumometer, that measures magical energy. Sure enough, it melts when it detects a magical field of over a million thaums. To be fair, that is a far greater amount than would ever normally be encountered, but they'd accidentally traveled back in time to when a Creator was installing an entire new continent.
** Given the nature of Discworld magic, melting is about the most normal thing one could expect at this point -- magic fields encountered in other areas have been known to [[HeadsTailsEdge make coins always land on their edge]], cause dragons to appear out of thin air, and tear the fabric of reality.
** And who can forget CMOT Dibbler's "dragon detector"? It's a piece of wood on a metal stick. When the stick was burned through, you'd found your dragon.
*** That sounds like a variation on the old weather detecting stone gag - stone is dry: fine weather; stone is wet: rain; stone is white: snow; stone is gone: hurricane.
* Comes up once in Literature/TheCorellianTrilogy:
-->'''C-3PO:''' -and there are probably temperatures much higher than that, except the detectors are not there any more to tell us.
** Note that said detectors were good up to over 500°.
* In ''EndersGame'', this is said about Bean's intelligence. He scored near-perfectly on all their aptitude tests (save physical abilities, given his age), ''but'' had also included notes in the margins pointing out mistakes the test-makers had made when writing them and making suggestions for improving the tests. The instructors decide that Bean's intellect is so great that their tests cannot accurately measure it, and therefore they can't be sure of his true limits.
** Essentially, he has ''no upper limit'' on his intelligence, due to the nature of the genetic engineering he underwent as a fetus (he lacks the normal inhibitors that slow down neural development after infancy, but also the ones which tell his body to stop trying to grow when he reached adult size).
** It's pointed out several times that Bean is much smarter than Ender, but Ender is a natural commander, while Bean is more of a strategist (i.e. no one would follow Bean).
** This also occurs with the final battle at the Formic homeworld. There are so many Formic warships in orbit that the computer can't track them all, leading to the edges of the radar constantly dropping and picking up readings.
* Occurs in the ''Literature/{{Lensman}}'' series - but only a very few times. The LensmanArmsRace applies to sensors and recorders there as well as to other systems. When the readings do go off the scale, it's impressive. "Those beams were hot - plenty hot. These recorders go up to five billion and have a factor of safety of ten. Even that wasn't anywhere near enough - [[ReadingsBlewUpTheScale everything in the recorder circuits blew.]]"
* Hermione from ''HarryPotter'' has done exceedingly well on tests, ranging from 113% to ''320''%. That was muggle studies. One can only assume that being raised as a muggle, she knew infinitely more about it than even the professor.
* In ''Literature/{{Warbreaker}}'', there is a passing mention of the amount of breaths that a Returned had registering as infinite to Vivenna. This may have been a mistake, as it was referring not to the God King, but to a normal Returned, which would only be about four times more than Vivenna herself. This is because [[spoiler:Returned don't have two thousand Breaths, they have one Divine Breath that's two thousand times stronger than a normal Breath. This odd situation throws off Vivenna's senses a little, especially since she's never practiced using the Breath-sense before.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Angel}}'': Gunn borrowing a 'whisker' from The Conduit.
* ''KnightRider'': K.I.T.T. had a top speed that approached 300 mph ... and several times, Michael Knight drove the car that speed (always accomplished through film speed techniques), usually racing to catch a criminal or avert a potentially deadly situation ... such as the time Knight needed to (very quickly) transport a nuclear bomb to a desert location before it exploded. In the example, K.I.T.T. easily outran several state patrol troopers – the first one reported that the car was traveling at speeds "off the clock" and crashed (at blinding speed) through a road block.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'' used off-the-scale readings as shorthand for the equivalent of WoodenShipsAndIronMen spotting a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The rest of the time they're just fine as-is.
* In the shortlived sequel series to ''Babylon 5'', ''Series/{{Crusade}}'', Captain Gideon subverted the trope the first time it appeared by ordering that the sensors for the ''Excalibur'' be recalibrated so that the readings were back ''on'' the scale. Given that they are adventuring out on the frontier, they run into that kind of all the freaking time, and he'd like to know if the ship's WaveMotionGun might actually work on that particular target.
* In the ''Series/{{Lost}}'' episode "The Incident," Dharma is drilling into the island's electromagnetic pocket. Dr. Chang notes that the Gauss readings are off the scale. (This magnet is known to be strong enough to crash a plane.)
* In ''Series/{{Star Trek|The Original Series}}'': "The Corbomite Maneuver," the mass of a starship only one mile across was off the scale, according to Spock. One wonders how he measured the mass of, oh, planets or moons.
** Either the starship had a ludicrously dense hull, or the ''Enterprise''[='=]s sensors just weren't designed to measure the mass of anything substantially larger than itself.
** It's more sensible to assume that the mass for a starship a mile across was wildly out of proportion to what it should be for a vessel that size.
** In "Operation: Annihilate!" the meter on Spock's biobed measuring pain drifts straight to the top and stays there. Implying that it simply can't measure any higher.
*** Another episode has a more humorous take on that, where Spock lies on the bed and the readers immediately go haywire, including at least one needle leaping to the highest point and staying there. Spock then points out that these are normal readings for a Vulcan and, since the biobed was calibrated for humans when he laid on it, he triggered almost every life support alarm the system had.
* Averted in ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise,'' where a device designed to measure the age of metal happily shows a negative number when used on parts from the future. (Presumably the device can measure the effect the universal background radiation had on the forging process, or somesuch technobabble.)
** In the ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' episode "Where No One Has Gone Before", the ''Enterprise'' is accelerated to a velocity that causes Data to quote this trope.
* In an episode of ''How Clean is Your House'', Aggie tells a smoker that the carbon monoxide levels in her living room were right off the scale.
* ''Series/TheBigBangTheory'''s Doctor Sheldon Cooper claims at one point that his IQ "cannot be accurately measured." This is in fact an issue with extremely high [=IQs=]. Pretty much all IQ tests produce increasingly unreliable results for results higher than 145-148 due to the fact that there's generally not a large enough sample to normalize them properly.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode "the Pandorica Opens", River uses some kind instrument to detect that there are "at least ten thousand" warships in orbit above planet earth. When Amy pesters her for a more accurate number, she says that there are too many readings for her detector to measure.
** The number of lifeforms in "Silence in the Library" registers over a million million[[note]]one billion in the long scale, or one trillion in the short[[/note]], before the scanner even gives up trying.
--> '''Doctor''': A million million lifeforms... and [[NothingIsScarier silence in the library]]...
** In "Planet of the Dead", a UNIT scientist named Malcolm explains to the Doctor that he's named a measurement after himself, which he's using to chart the size of the wormhole.[[note]]According to him, 1 wavelength parcel of 10 kilohertz operating in four dimensions equals 1 Malcolm, while 100 Malcolms is equal to 1 [[Franchise/{{Quatermass}} Bernard]].[[/note]] This leads to a large OhCrap when he realises that the wormhole is ''growing''.
--> '''Malcolm''': It's the wormhole, Doctor, it's getting bigger! We've gone way past 100 Bernards, I haven't invented a name for that!
** And then, there's the person who tries to scan the value of the Tardis. "Everything". Price tag? "Total sum of all currency insufficient".
* A comedic version from ''Series/TheMunsters'' - when Lily was asked what Herman's weight was, she replied "three spins." When asked for clarification, she said that when he stepped on the scale, the needle spun around three times.
* ''Series/AmericanRestoration'': A foot x-ray machine (known to be a big radiation leakage source to begin with) Is brought in to be restored. A radiation specialist is brought in to see if/how badly this one leaks. He turns it on and it leaks more radiation than Chernobyl. His detector doesn't read high enough to properly quantify the extent of the leakage.
** It is worth noting here that the restorers promptly removed the X-Ray tube from the machine and rebuilt it with a simulation which projected a photographic x-ray negative onto a screen instead of using real x-rays.
* Occasionally, the ''Series/{{Mythbusters}}'' will get results that go above and beyond any sort of measurement available to them. In one notable instance, they managed to completely max out a G-force accelerometer with a rating above its maximum value of 500 G, or five hundred times the force of gravity; this device had previously recorded numbers in the 160 G range, already considerably more than necessary to kill a human being. 500 G is around five times the lethal baseline of G-forces for humans, and they ''still'' managed to produce more force than even that unpleasantly high number. However, the best way to tell that the Mythbusters have gone off their known scales is to wait for StunnedSilence from Adam.
* When the White Dino Gem reveals itself in ''Series/PowerRangersDinoThunder'', Tommy tells the other Rangers that the energy readings are higher than his equipment can track.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* There is a build in 3.5e ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' called Pun-Pun. It starts a [[{{Mook}} kobold]] (technically, any reptilian works but its always more fun to use the absolute weakest starting point possible with things like this) and [[TookALevelInBadass ends with it having all stats]] set to something that can only be described as [[UpToEleven "arbitrarily high"]].
** Basically, it creates a recursive loop of stat buffs. Since it must be a real number, it can technically never be equal to infinity but - in theory - all six base stats (and by extension, almost every other numerical bonus and modifier) can pretty much get as close as possible.
* Lots of combos in ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' allow you to generate more Mana than you put in, resulting in the ability to use timing rules to generate an arbitrary amount of things. For example, A Magus of the Coffers taps at a cost of (2) mana to give you one Black mana for each swamp you control. You can then equip him with the Sword of the Paruns, which will let him untap for (3). Pay two, tap the Magus for six black mana, pay three to untap him, and then do it again. Written out: -(2) => +(6B) => -(3) => -(2) => ETC. Lather, rinse, repeat, and apply to the variable cost cards, such as Exsanguinate, and you wind up with combos that can do 9999 damage to each opponent at the table and then let you ''gain that much life''. Considering you start the game at 20 life and even the Commander's Arsenal Life Counter only goes to 99, it's certainly off all of the official charts.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'', Ghis's control personnel on-board the ''Leviathan'' marvel at the power of the Dawn Shard.
-->'''Female Technician:''' Sixty-eight hundred, sixty-nine hundred, seven thousand! This must be deifacted Nethicite! The count still climbs!
* In ''VideoGame/LufiaIIRiseOfTheSinistrals'', when the party steps forward to have their personal energy measures by Lexis's kymograph, Guy's results are five times more than the highest reading Lexis had ever seen, then Selan's are shown to be eight times more, then for Maxim, yes, the ReadingsAreOffTheScale.
* ''VideoGame/{{Homeworld}}'''s Nebula missions feature this. However, it is stated that your personnel are working to recalibrate them to compensate.
** Done straight when the Bentusi are first encountered. Made hilarious by the calm way it's stated.
* Also happens in ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger,'' if Robo is in the party during the battle with [[BigBad Lavos]]' [[OneWingedAngel final form]]. He tries to assess Lavos' power level:
-->'''Robo:''' Power level is... immeasurable. It's completely off the scale!
* EnemyScan abilities in the ''FinalFantasy'' series usually depict boss statistics as a series of "???" readings, indicating how powerful they are compared to regular flunkies. Notably, some games allow you to upgrade the Libra/Scan spells to reveal these readings.
** Their stats aren't actually off the scale, mind you. They often aren't even beyond what is achievable for the player characters given sufficient LevelGrinding. (Except [[HitPoints HP]] and [[ManaMeter MP]], which are often above the player characters' limit, which is usually 9999 and 999 respectively. The BigBad of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIII'', for instance, has 65000 HP.)
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' has summons which can deal damage over the damage limit, as well as weapon modifications which allow the player characters themselves to do so (predictably called "Break Damage Limit").
* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', monsters and enemy players more than ten levels above yours will have their level displayed as "??" or a skull symbol. They might be +11 to you, or +50. Either way, you probably don't want to mess with them. If you play undead, the first example you'll see will probably be one of the "Welcome Bears", and then your only hope is to ExitPursuedByABear.
** Raidbosses are also level skull. They count as being 3 levels higher than the attacker's current level for purposes of determining hit chance and such.
** ''World of Warcraft'' now has an achievement labelled "It's Over Nine Thousand!!!" What is it for, exactly? Why, for getting over 9000 achievement points, of course!
* In ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'', Your MissionControl all but freaks out at trying to perceive the BonusBoss' power.
-->'''Fuuka:''' Her power is unbelievable! Who ''is'' she?
** And in ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'', she '''does''' freaks out sensing the BonusBoss'.
-->'''Rise:''' Her power level is insane! Who ''is'' she?! Don't tell me you're going to fight her!
* Lampshaded in the ''Franchise/{{Ghostbusters}}'' [[VideoGame/GhostbustersTheVideoGame videogame]]:
-->'''Egon:''' ''These readings are off the charts...now I'll have to make new charts."
** Even more hilarious is the fact that Egon is not astounded, but ''annoyed''. Of course, being the super-brain that he is, he probably just doesn't like having something he can't quantify.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'', the player has a radiation measuring device. At the end of the game, [[spoiler: if the player steps into the highly irradiated control room of the Project Purity building, the meter will get maxed at +100,000 (as in, more than one-hundred-thousand rads) and jiggles.]] Mercifully, no-one comments on this.
** There is also another area ([[spoiler: The above-ground entrance to Vault 87]]) that will irradiate you to death -- more than 3,000 rads/sec, fatal to the Vault Dweller in zero point three seconds -- unless you use console commands to make yourself invincible or max your radiation resistance to 85%, which will reduce the rad levels to a slightly more manageable ~350 rads/sec... in which case you'll live for about two point eight seconds. Running for the [[spoiler:locked and permanently unopenable]] door? Better have a huge pile of Rad-Away that's hotkeyed!
*** This is incredibly annoying seeing as how at some point in the game you get paid to have locations marked on your map. In order to get [[spoiler:Vault 87]] marked you have to run up to it even though you can within five feet of it FROM THE INSIDE OF THE VAULT. The price you get for the mark doesn't justify the means, unless you just want bragging rights. Even more annoying is that [[spoiler: Enclave soldiers make it through the impassible door and instant almost instant death radiation and you STILL can't get through that door.]]
* ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'' had the Iron Cleft Bros. with a defense so high it was even in Goombella's book marked as ???. [[PuzzleBoss The only thing hard enough to hurt a Iron Cleft is another Iron Cleft]].
-->'''Goombella''': Defense is... UNKNOWN?!? What the heck is wrong with this book?!? It says no known form of attack can damage an Iron Cleft!
* ''{{Freespace}} 2'' had a Vasudan sensor officer describing the mass readings of the Sathanas as "Exceeding superdestroyer class".
** They ended up making the "juggernaut" class to describe the Sathanas... and then the fanmade Blue Planet mod introduces two ships which [[UpToEleven "exceed juggernaut specifications by at least fivefold."]]
* In ''VideoGame/HalfLife 2: Episode 1'', the Combine are purposely trying to destabilise their Citadel's Dark Energy Core to cause a massive explosion (sacrificing the whole base of operations, and the surrounding city), then use the release of energy to send a message off-world and open up a super-portal from which off-world reinforcements can pour in. When Alyx Vance looks at the Control Room monitor, she claims that the Core Reactor's readings are off the charts.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' from Genesis has this with Walking Bear, a female orc shaman. When people want raw power, they usually hire Winston Mars, a Troll Samurai who can reach incredible amounts of strength (the power charts even states his power as [sic]''Incredible!'' when maxed out). But here's a catch: Orcs have the one of the best Max Body/Strength, second only to Trolls. Also, [[CyberneticsWillEatYourSoul using cyberware as a shaman will weaken your spells]]. But if you stop fearing the soul-stripping cyberware then cyber up Walking Bear, you will end ''almost'' as strong as Winston Marrs (also cybered, in this comparision). With this, Marrs will have a full power bar and Bear will have a nearly-full ("Massive" power). HOWEVER, there are talismans which increase strength and defense ratios, which are only usable by shamans and were ''meant to be used to make up for their fragility''. That said, after maxing up Walking Bear, give her a Power talisman (you can only have one) and Defense talismans (they stack, up to three). The power readings will still read only as "Massive" instead of "Incredible!", but the bar graph charts for attack/defense will be so high, [[TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything they will go beyond its limit and actually start a new one to carry its excess]]. Her defense is so massive that even in a game where you ''never'' will be invincible, be due to scratch damage, rolling ones or other overhelming strikes, BULLETS WON'T EVER FAZE HER, and only the strongest mental attacks will scratch her mental gauge.
* In the [[VideoGame/DisgaeaHourOfDarkness original]] ''Franchise/{{Disgaea}}'' the "BonusBoss" Baal shows up. Laharl reads his power as "Level 4000" (his literal level out of the maximum possible 9999). By way of comparison, the previous optional boss was 2500. The Final Boss of the story proper is 90.
** In a meta-example, in the [[VideoGame/Disgaea3AbsenceOfJustice third game]] it is possible to achieve amounts of [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverKill dealt damage]] big enough for last digits of the number to ''go off the screen edge''.
** In the [[VideoGame/Disgaea4APromiseUnforgotten fourth game]], the damage cap seems to be 184 [[spoiler:quadri]]llion (can anything even have so much hp!?)
* Grolla in ''{{Rosenkreuzstilette}}'' gets a big shock when [[spoiler:Iris]] attacks her with immensely powerful magic, leading her to think of her as not just any girl, but some kind of [[YouMonster immensely powerful monster]].
-->'''Grolla''': What in the...!? How did she obtain such powerful magic? [[spoiler:Iris]], what ARE you!?\\
[[spoiler:'''Iris''': Heheheh. Why, I am myself, of course. I don't expect a commoner to understand my genius.]]
* In the ''VideoGame/{{GITADORA}}'' series, charts are given a rating from 10 to 99. ''Guitar Freaks & Drummania V5'', the BonusBoss song "Rock To Infinity", on all instruments' Extreme difficulty, is given a rating of ''infinity.'' Subverted when the song is unlocked for play as a non-extra stage song, in which it's simply rated 99.
* In ''Franchise/MassEffect'': "Uh, Commander? I'm getting some strange readings. Really strange. Like, off the damn charts."
* The prologue of ''VideoGame/{{Xenogears}}'' has a team of BridgeBunnies yelping about the rising "base code" of a vaguely-defined ''thing'' that is attacking their spaceship.
* In ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiStrangeJourney'', on first encountering the final boss, the main character's suit can't even translate its appearance into a perceptible form. It requires outside assistance from a near-divine entity before you can see what it looks like.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}'', the Announcer claims "nine... nine... nine... nine..." days have passed since the first game. What the actual amount of time is is open to speculation.
** In the original Portal GLaDOS mentions that "Aperture technologies remain safely operational up to 4000 degrees kelvin." (It is implied that Aperture test subjects do not.) Such a temperature is ''far'' off the scale of household ''and'' most industrial thermometers.
** [[spoiler: Proved by the fact the companion cube is only slightly charred after you threw it]].
** To put how hot this is into perspective, consider that the surface of the ''Sun'' is just over 5778 K.
* ''FateStayNight'' has Gilgamesh´s sword, Ea, a rank EX Noble Phantasm with the ability to destroy reality and slice the world in 2 (the scale goes from E- to A++ for anything but the most ridiculous Noble Phantasms). Fully charged, it does 5000 units of damage (Excalibur by comparison does 200) though the amount can be multiplied several times by powering it with Gil´s own mana and that of the weapons in the Gate of Babylon. It can somehow be stopped by [[NoSell Avalon]].
** Given Avalon was famous in [[KingArthur Arthurian stories]] as stopping the wearer from being ever being hurt, and granting them pretty-much-immortality, this isn't as out there as it seems. In fact, Rin chides Shirou over forgetting that Excalibur was far, far less important to Arthur than the sheathe.
* ''AsurasWrath'' has the Gohma measured in Impurity levels, but one in particular stands out. [[BigBad Gohma Vlitra]] Impurity Level: '''IMMEASURABLE'''.
* In the ''ShiningForce'' series, any stat that is over 100 is shown as '''??'''.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Mega Man X}}4'', when Cyber Peacock tries to analyze X, he comes up with the following gem:
--> "''His potential... is limitless?! ...not possible.''"
* In ''VideoGame/StarCraft'', there exists a rating scale on how powerful a "psionic" (psychic) is. It goes to Class 10 as an exceptionally powerful psionic who is practically a OneManArmy. Infested Kerrigan's rating on that scale? ''Class 12!'' Eventually this is clarified that she is an order of magnitude greater than a Class 10, which they called "Class 12" for convenience. [[spoiler:After gaining her "Primal" form in ''Star Craft II: Heart of the Swarm'', she is even more powerful, and is described simply as "Unclassifiable".]]
** For bonus points, when Kerrigan was human the scale had to be redesigned as she had been off the scale. On the redesigned psionic scale, she's a 10.
* ''{{Legend of Grey Moon}}'' has a stats screen at the end of the game, listing time, deaths, gems (out of 16) and secrets (out of 11). However, these maxima are misleading and there are actually more; at HundredPercentCompletion, the stats screen will tell you that you have 17/16 gems and 28/11 secrets.
* In ''{{Carmageddon}} 2'' all the cars have a five-segment "strength" rating that tells you, generally speaking, how much they can hurt your opponents. The impractically huge and ridiculously heavy dump truck gets a rating of '''eighty''' out of five.
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', while not in the storyline or dialogue, abusing the [[GoodBadBug Alchemy/Enchanting or Alchemy/Restoration Positive Feedback Loop]] would cause all numbers in affected equipment -- both enhanced stats and gold value -- to have so many digits that they would go off the side of the screen. Creating a fortification of health enchantment with such huge buffs [[BeyondTheImpossible allows you to tank a hit from a giant]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Spoofed in [[http://www.xkcd.com/402/ this]] ''Webcomic/{{xkcd}}'' strip.
* Kanaya in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' develops the "snarky horseshitometer" to gauge the success of her trolling campaign on Rose. After watching Rose blow up a portal, something Kanaya didn't think was sane even if she suspected it were possible, the horseshitometer tilts so hard in Rose's favor that it self-destructs.
--> The FLIGHTY BROADS AND THEIR SNARKY HORSESHITOMETER explodes. It simply cannot take this much horseshit.
* Art in ''Webcomic/SequentialArt'' after his computer explodes for the second time, is told by a computer technician that artists have a "natural anti-technology energy" that gets 100 times worse if the artist knows about it. Art didn't know about it.
* Asha in ''Webcomic/{{Kubera}}'' got a 0515 on the part of her magic test that measures her power level. That's not a great score, but it's reasonable...except for that zero at the front. That shouldn't be there; it's just not how the scores are formatted. As it turns out, she actually got a ''10515,'' and the counter only goes up to 9999. Considering that a 2000 was considered incredible, you can understand why they assumed there was no need for anything higher.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Subverted in ''WebVideo/DragonBallAbridged''.
-->'''Nappa:''' VEGETA! What does the scouter say about his PowerLevel?
-->'''Vegeta:''' IT'S ... one thousand and six.
-->'''Nappa:''' [[FlatWhat What]]... really?
-->'''Vegeta:''' Yeah. Kick his ass, Nappa.
-->'''Nappa:''' Yay!
-->''(Nappa proceeds to get his ass kicked.)''
-->'''Vegeta:''' Hmmmm... that doesn't seem right. Wait, wait wait wait... Nappa!
-->'''Nappa:''' Whaaaaaat?
-->'''Vegeta:''' I had the scouter upside down. It's over 9000. [[AGlassInTheHand *crushes scouter*]] [[DullSurprise Rawr]].
** Parodied in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxwLMfypEOk a video released before they finished that episode.]]
-->'''Nappa:''' VEGETA! What does the scouter say about the Subscriber Count?
-->'''Vegeta:''' IT'S ... nine thousand and ten.
-->'''Nappa:''' Wait, so you mean...
-->'''Vegeta:''' Yes Nappa, it's...
-->'''Nappa:''' It's!
-->'''Vegeta:''' It's over!
-->'''Nappa:''' It's over!!
-->'''Vegeta:''' IT'S OVER EIGHT THOUSAND!
-->'''Nappa:''' WHAT EIGHT ... wait, what? Vegeta, you didn't do it right!
-->'''Vegeta:''' Yes I did Nappa. Yes. I. Did.
* When ''ProtectorsOfThePlotContinuum'' are on a mission, and CanonDefilement ReadingsAreOffTheScale, it is generally a good idea to throw one's Canon Analysis Device away before it [[ExplosiveInstrumentation goes kablooie]].
* According to Wiki/RationalWiki, [[http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Irony_meter irony meters]] have a habit of exploding when this trope comes into effect.
* '' WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall'': when Superman picks up Wonder Woman in "Amazons Attack #3 and 4", his stupidity level percent goes over 9000.
* ''ChakonaSpace'' features the contributor series, ''Tales of the Folly''. This trope happens several times including at least one [[LampshadeHanging hanging lampshade]].
* A rather terrifying nonfiction example could be found in the now sadly defunct blog, "Random Acts Of Reality" by a London Ambulance Service EMT. On one occasion he transported a patient whose blood pressure was so high that the monitor ''couldn't accurately measure it and glitched out.'' Not surprisingly, the driver had the lights and siren on for that trip to the ER.
* In [[TheSpoonyExperiment Spoony's]] text review of ''[[Film/AloneInTheDark2005 Alone in the Dark]]'':
-->We need better scales if we're ever going to be an effective intelligence agency, guys. I'm sick of this "off the scale" shit.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePenguinsOfMadagascar'': when Kowalski mentions that readings of spectral activity are off the charts, Skipper suggests getting bigger charts.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}}'' features an incident with the Boss-O-Meter, which Arthur uses on his parents and teacher, rating their bossing-around skills. None of them even come close to his bratty sister DW, whose whiny screaming tactics break the machine.
* Egon in ''WesternAnimation/TheRealGhostbusters'' likewise has a habit of getting PKE readings that are off the scale, to the point that ''The Penguins of Madagascar'' might've been referencing him. Nobody ever suggests getting a bigger scale, but he does have to get a new PKE meter every now and then, when trying to measure an especially powerful entity (generally 9 or higher) leads to ExplosiveInstrumentation.
* This trope was the justification for the equipment upgrade in ''WesternAnimation/ExtremeGhostbusters''. The series averted it as often as it played it straight though. There were many times where they found a ghost that was a perfectly measurable classification (especially in TheTeaser) and other times where a creature was ''literally'' off the scale because they weren't ectoplasmic entities or have psycho-kinetic energy at all, and thus ''couldn't'' be measured by the PKE meter.
* Parodied in ''OuterSpaceAstronauts''. "These readings are off the chart!" "Well, they're ''on'' the chart; they're just, near the ''top''."
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': Professor Frink's sarcasm detector.
-->'''Frink:''' ...this baby is off the charts, mm-hay!\\
'''Comic Book Guy:''' Ooh, a sarcasm detector! That's a real useful invention.\\
''(sarcasm detector explodes)''
** A similar example from the episode "The Springfield Files":
--->'''Agent Scully:''' Now we're going to run a few tests. This is a simple lie detector. I'll ask you a few yes or no questions and you just answer truthfully. Do you understand?\\
'''Homer:''' Yes.\\
(lie detector beeps and explodes)
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Mad}}'', this was parodied in a segment called, Grey's In Anime.
* An episode of ''WesternAnimation/StarTrekTheAnimatedSeries'' had Spock caution his team against drinking some water they found because his tricorder said "the water is ''too pure''", which is an awfully odd reading to have listed on a tricorder. Meaning that the water couldn't possibly be in that state in nature, which means either it's being artificially produced, or is contaminated in a way that they can't detect. So caution is warranted.
* Parodied in ''KidsNextDoor'', during a parody of ''Anime/DragonBallZ'':
-->"Their power levels are off the charts! I'm gonna have to get some bigger charts!"
* In the ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' episode "Lawn Gnome Beach Party of Terror", Phineas's radical surfing so impresses [[HoldUpYourScore a panel of judges]], he gets scores of ten to the fifth power and infinity, while the third judge has apparently had to re-think Einstein's theory of relativity. "Cowabunga, laws of nature!"
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The very first flight of the Ariane 5 launcher resulted in a big ball of fire, because the reading coming from a speedometer went off the chart. More precisely, the reading was to be converted from a 64-bit floating point value to 16-bit signed integer value, but was too large for the latter format. It was arguably the most expensive bug in history.
* The ''Apollo 13'' incident began on the ground, when one of the oxygen tanks that would later go into space with the service module was having a mechanical problem due to the tanks getting dropped during a move between spacecraft. The liquid oxygen drain was jarred and unusable.. The technicians decided to vent the liquid oxygen from the tank with the help of the onboard heating system. This caused the temperature gauge (which was designed for use in space after all) to go off-scale high. However, nobody knew at the time just how far off the scale things were. The results are well-known. Specifically, (looking at the [[OtherWiki Wikipedia]] article) the temp gauge didn't go above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees C). This wasn't considered a problem, because a thermostat was supposed to cut the heat at 80 degrees F. Unfortunately, this had fused on because when the electrical system was redesigned from 28v to 65v, the thermostat wasn't. The result was that temperatures hit an estimated 1000 degrees F (538 Degrees C) and burned the insulation off the wires. Which lead to an exposed, sparking wire ''inside'' a tank of pressurized oxygen. [[CaptainObvious Which then exploded]].
* Radiation monitoring instruments are prone to this sort of problem, especially those instruments used for health and safety physics.
** Following the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sl-1 1961 power excursion in the SL-1 nuclear reactor]] and the subsequent steam explosion within and meltdown of the reactor, the first team to check out the alarm discovered their radiation detectors pegged at maximum. The second team, which went in with higher-range radiation detectors, also had their detectors peg at maximum. When the bodies of those killed in the explosion were recovered, the bodies ''alone'' pegged these high-range meters.
** When the Chernobyl reactor exploded, it took the one dosimeter in the place capable of reading really high radiation with it. The repair workers and firefighters made do with ordinary personal dosimeters, which immediately pegged at at their highest settings, leading the crew to assume that the steam explosion hadn't penetrated the reactor (ignoring the pieces of reactor fuel lying everywhere). In reality, some areas of the plant had radiation levels 5,600 times the range of the dosimeters. And when a new dosimeter with a larger range was brought in the high readings [[ItsProbablyNothing convinced them it was defective]].
** A disturbing example from radiation medicine: the radiation monitoring devices in some malfunctioning radiation therapy devices ([[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therac-25 Therac-25 machines]]) experienced saturation when they (and patients) were incorrectly exposed to extremely high current electron beams. One patient, after one of these treatments, reported [[NightmareFuel a sizzling sound, as of something frying]], that turned out to be these saturated radiation monitors. Of course, the patient didn't necessarily know that at the time.
** Scarily, certain types of radiation detectors, if they are energized while in a strong radiation field, will actually ''read zero'' instead of pegging. Of course, [[RealityIsUnrealistic don't expect any plot points to hinge on this]].
* In RealLife, a sensor being off-scale may mean the sensor or its wiring has failed. Whether it fails off-scale low or off-scale high depends on the type of sensor and on the kind of damage. On the Space Shuttle ''Columbia'' accident, several sensors on the left wing (most of them being left over from early tests from when it was the first space shuttle) registered off-scale readings. By observing the relative timing of the sensor failures and knowing the layout of the wiring within the wing, the investigators were able to determine the path of the damage. The driver of a BMW Mini was once issued a speeding ticket...for going 3000 km/hr. The radar had malfunctioned.
* During the late 1970s through early 1990s, most car and light truck speedometers had a top speed of 85 mph, due to government regulations (and definitions of sports car vs. passenger car). Despite this, almost all cars were capable of traveling well in excess of the highest speed ... "burying the speedometer" in the process. (Prior to this, speedometers often could read speeds anywhere from 100 to 120 mph, depending on the year and manufacturer.) Used to be, a candid "No, officer, I don't know how fast I was going; the speedometer doesn't go that high" could get you out of a ticket if the officer was having a good day. Suffice it to say, DontTryThisAtHome.
* Prior to the 1990s, most odometers "rolled over" once hitting 99,999.9 miles, resetting to "zero" (even though there are 100,000 miles on the car). Prior to the advent of electronic odometers, these devices used reels, with numerals printed on them in order from 0 through 9; the first five had a black background color with white numerals (representing ones through ten thousands) and the sixth digit was printed in black on a white background (to represent tenths of a mile). Some vehicles used in foreign countries that use the metric system "roll over" at 99,999.9 kilometers. Electronic digital odometers often will record up to 999,999 (either miles or kilometers, depending on the vehicle's setting) before resetting at zero.[[note]]This, however rarely happens, as your average car will probably be junked and replaced before it reaches 999,999 (or one less than one million)[[/note]] The trip odometer, both the printed reel and electronic types, work on this same principle, although they typically reset to 0 after 999.9 miles/kilometers.
* This is exactly why the depth gauge in ''Das Boot'', as mentioned above, only went so high. If it went higher, SOMEBODY would try to beat it. While going faster than your car can safely handle on the road is not so smart, in a submarine it can be positively lethal: hello, "crush depth". As it sounds like, that's [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin the depth]] at which the sub's builders expect a catastrophic hull failure, followed promptly by the tremendous pressures of being far underwater crushing the sub and everything in it. Pegging the meter on your depth counter usually means you'll be staying below for the rest of your life—which, if you're lucky, won't be very long at all. During WorldWarII, submarines often went below their rated crush depth in desperate attempts to evade enemy destroyers. Sometimes they survived, sometimes they didn't. This was because the crush depth rating was an estimate; submarines were too expensive to actually send one down as far as possible to see what depth would crush it. The same is even more true with modern submarines, but computer modeling allows for much more accurate estimates.
* Subverted in mathematics, where the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_distribution most commonly used probability distribution]] (and thus probably the closest thing in pure math to the kind of things this trope covers) achieves a positive value for all finite arguments. So if you have something that's, say, 18 standard deviations from the norm all the usual data finding techniques technically still apply to it. For example, the book "Littlewood's Miscellany" points out that you can use actuarial charts to give a probability of living to be 1000 - it's just ''really'' small (something like 1 in 10^10^20).
** Although normal distribution never gets to zero, it does decrease super-exponentially, so it's quite feasible for it to go so low that whatever you're using to calculate it can't tell it's not zero. For example, R can't tell it's nonzero if it's 38 standard deviations from the mean. The probability is less than 1 in 10^300.
* In contrast, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grahams_number Graham's Number]] cannot be expressed with any standard form of mathematical notation, including stacks of exponents (x ^ y ^ z...) and even taxes [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knuths_up-arrow_notation Knuth's up-arrow notation]].
* On Website/FundiesSayTheDarndestThings, an overly ironic statement is said to have [[ReadingsBlewUpTheScale "busted my irony meter".]]
* Because of limited government data regarding air quality in Beijing, residents will often turn to the US Embassy, who use the AQI, a number between 1 and 500 calculated from a variety of indicators, where 1-50 is "good," 201-300 is "very unhealthy," and 301-500 is "hazardous"... until one day in 2010, the formula gave them a number ''over'' 500. The programmers of the automated report hadn't taken such a possibility seriously, and thus came the quickly viral report by the embassy that the air quality in Beijing was "crazy bad" before being corrected to a more sterile, yet still absurd, "beyond index." Article [[http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/nov/19/crazy-bad-beijing-air-pollution here]].
** In early 2013, values were measured of ''over 700''. The WHO safe amount is 25. Even more stunning, [[https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2013/01/13/smog-beijing-inmiddels-zo-dik-dat-er-geen-index-meer-voor-is/ one]] article shows people still strolling around and ''flying a kite''.
* One of the big differences between analog and digital recordings (for both audio and video) is that the "scale" for digital recordings is very tightly defined — an over-the-top analog signal has a chance of degrading gracefully at the top of the range (sort of like how the traditional distorted-guitar sound is created using tubes). However, most of the time a digital signal simply can't go any higher because of the way the data is structured; in a case like that, a sound might make a loud popping or scraping noise, while a digital image will simply flood with white and lose all detail. (Some digital cameras and camcorders have features like "zebra effects" and histograms that show where an image overloads; this is also a pretty standard feature in photo editing programs like AdobePhotoshop.) In extreme cases, the only solution is to filter or attenuate the input before it ever reaches the analog-digital converter, usually with something like a lens filter or mic windscreen.
** A lot of music is currently mastered to exploit the limitations of digital audio by boosting quieter parts of the signal to maximum level, thereby creating the perception that the sound is louder than it really is. See LoudnessWar for details.
* One of the hottest peppers is the Bhut Jalokia, which reaches 1,000,000 on the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scoville_scale Scoville scale]]. Still, there are four peppers that come in above 855,000 on the Scoville scale: Naga Viper pepper, Infinity Chilli, Bhut Jolokia chili pepper, Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper (at this time, the worlds hottest).[[labelnote:*]]Your typical jalapeńo? Only maxes out at 6,000 Scoville units.[[/labelnote]] At that level, trying to tell them apart by personal observation is a distinction without a difference.
** For most people, anything with a value over 100,000 (about what a "mild" habanero is) is hard to distinguish. Anything close to 1,000,000 will ensure that your tongue and throat won't be feeling or tasting things right for a week.
** Scoville scale ends at 16 million (pure capsaicin). Resiniferatoxin (common milk weed, that plant that produces the bad smelling white sap) gives readings off the scale as in pure form it produces heat of 16 billion Scoville units.
* The owner of BenedictCumberbatch's fan site decided to hold a donation drive for the Teenage Cancer Trust in honor of his birthday, expecting to raise about $1,000. Word spread like wildfire and his fans literally managed to raise [[http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2012-07-19/benedict-cumberbatchs-birthday-raises-thousands-for-charity over $9000]] within SIX WEEKS. On the donation page, the scale took ''forever'' to finish calculating how much they were over their goal.
* A googolplex is equal to 10^10^100 which is greater than the number of estimated Plank spaces (the smallest bit of area possible) in the known universe. Writing it out in standard form (1,000,000,000,000...) would be impossible, no matter what scale because there isn't enough space in the universe to record such a large number. In other words, it's a number that is [[BeyondTheImpossible Off The Universe's Scales]]!
** And it isn't the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skewes%27_number only]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_numbers one]]!
* When AndreTheGiant went in for back surgery, the anaesthesiologist had no idea how much gas to give him, as the hospital's charts for such simply didn't have entries for men of Andre's height and weight. They had to ''invent a new method'' based on his [[TheAlcoholic alcohol consumption]] in order to determine the proper dosage.
* The Israeli airforce had the negative (not opposite) of this problem, losing a couple of fighter jets before working out what the matter was. The Dead Sea is 423 metres below sea level, and planes doing low level flying would register on the computer as below sea level, a fact that understandably freaked the computers on board, which would try and 'save' the plane, with fatal consequences.
** Specifically, the code divided by the altitude to calculate certain readings, and [[DivideByZero did not react well to passing sea level]].
* The Pakistan Army operating in the Himalayas had ordered their forward troops to send back temperature readings with their daily reports.After a while,the Area HQ got puzzled when'' every post, every day for weeks' ' sent back readings of -50 C (about -45 F). The reason? You guessed it.
* When your computer is doing floating-point math and comes up with a number too large to keep track of, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-precision_floating-point_format it calls the number "infinity"]], the same result as if you divide by zero.
* When the UNIVAC I mainframe computer [[http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/10/31/163951263/the-night-a-computer-predicted-the-next-president predicted that Dwight Eisenhower would win]] the 1952 U.S. presidential elections, the teletype printout read "THE CHANCES ARE NOW 00 TO 1 IN FAVOR OF THE ELECTION OF EISENHOWER." This resulted from UNIVAC's programmers believing that a 3-digit number system wasn't needed - UNIVAC had calculated odds of 100 to 1, but simply hadn't been programmed to show a hundreds place.
* When exploration of deep sea thermal vents by manned submersibles was just beginning, during one dive the submarine's team tried inserting a temperature probe into a vent. [[OhCrap The probe melted]].
* At the [[OlympicGames 1976 Summer Olympics]] in UsefulNotes/{{Montreal}}, Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci obtained a perfect score of 10. While this had ''technically'' been possible the whole time, it was deemed impossible to do, so scoreboards could only reach up to 9.99. Her score was displayed as an abysmal ''1.00''.
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