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Broke the Rating Scale
“I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don’t shine.”
Roger Ebert, about The Human Centipede, demonstrating this trope’s Logical Extreme.

On a Scale from One to Ten, this is the subversion.

Basically, Off The Scale applied to reviews: the movie/video game/whatever has made such an impact on the reviewer that he or she is willing to break the usual rules of classification of his/her medium to rate it. The reviewer may consider the work a Dethroning Moment of Suck, Crowning Moment Of Awesome, or even Headscratching Moment of “Huh?”.

There are six categories:

  • Still Within Bounds (but pushing it): This is discussed—which is to say, the reviewer openly admits to being tempted to go outside the established bounds of the rating system, but ultimately s/he adheres to the rating scale;
  • Out of Bounds: The score is simply outside the established bounds of the reviewer’s usual ratings scale (compare Rank Inflation and F Minus Minus; note that this may even cause the rating scale to be expanded);
  • Meaningless Comparison: The score is paired with a nonsensical or unusual unit of measure, though often it’s thematically relevant to whatever they’re reviewing (note that a rater can use an idiosyncratic unit of measure but not qualify for this category if they make clear the scale they're using);
  • Meaningless Value: The score is itself a nonsensical value (and quite often a Take That);
  • Impossible to Rate: The reviewer admits to having no idea what score to give it (this is essentially a shrug);
  • Refusal to Rate: And the Logical Extreme, the reviewer simply—and usually explicitly—refuses to assign a rating at all. This can be because the reviewer found the work downright repulsive, decided that rating it would be unfair, or decided that a rating was otherwise inapplicable. Sometimes overlaps with Dancing Bear, when the refusal isn't because the work is so bad, but because rating its quality would be beside the point.

Compare Readings Are Off the Scale, for when this is done with things other than reviews. Some forms of rating-breaking can involve Grade System Snark.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

Still Within Bounds (‘I'd give it a zero, but I can't.’)

    Anime and Manga 
  • JesuOtaku usually gives out unusual review scores (see below), but when reviewing Master of Martial Hearts, she only gave it “one greasy burger out of four” “because frankly, I don’t have a lower score.”

    Fan Fiction 
  • Present in snakesonasora’s famous sporking of the Kingdom Hearts badfic “Naga Eyes”. The rating scale (sometimes more a warning scale) is typically 1 to 5 Shadows. For particularly terrible fics, there exists a rare rating of Ansem, which includes everything from 5 Shadows plus extra-high doses of WTF-ery. “Naga Eyes” earned an Ansem, but with this addition attached:
    snakesonasora: THE ANSEM IS ONLY A FORMALITY. THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH SHADOWS, BEHEMOTHS, ANSEMS, OR XEMNASES TO PROPERLY ILLUSTRATE THE LEVEL OF HORROR PRESENT IN THIS FIC.

    Film 
  • Film critic Leonard Maltin claimed the movie Tarzan: The Ape Man starring Bo Derek was so bad it nearly convinced him to create a rating in his book lower than BOMB. He ended up simply pronouncing it a mere BOMB.

    Literature 

    Other 
  • An old joke has a college student asking his professor why he received an F on an exam, as he thinks he didn't deserve one. The professor replies, "I don't think you did either, but it is the lowest grade I am allowed to give."

    Video Games 
  • “This game officially received the lowest score in the history of Game Spot: a 1.0. And by lowest, I mean it can’t go any lower. We don’t hand out zeroes, but maybe we should have for Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing.” —Alex Navarro, Frightfully Bad Games. The video review instead showed him Refusing to Review (unless headdesking counts, in which case his review was not a positive one).
  • When rating God of War, the official PS2 magazine (Greek edition) commented that they would give it an 11/10, but weren’t allowed to, so instead they settled on a 10/10
  • GameCentral’s 0/10 review of Postal III begins with the reviewer wondering whether the game’s self-awareness should push it up to 1/10, or if the fact that the developers clearly knew they were releasing a terrible game should push it into the negatives.
  • Nintendo Power editor Chris Slate responded to one reader that he had been tempted to award some games a 10.5 out of 10, but won’t because that will mess up the scale by making 10.5 the new standard. (At the time, only Resident Evil 4, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption had received a 10.)
  • The now-defunct Gaming Intelligence Agency gave The Legend of Dragoon a 1 out of 5, and a relentlessly negative review that found basically no redeeming value in it. At one point, the Alt Text on the score graphic said that they would’ve given it a zero if their rating scale allowed it. The mirror of their site at the time of its closing no longer reflects this.
  • On Something Awful, the review giving Master Chu and the Drunkard Hu the lowest possible rating (–50) ended by saying “I hate that I can’t give this game the score it deserves because the SA rating system won’t let me use scientific notation.” It’s not the only time reviewers have expressed a wish to go below –50, with various degrees of seriousness. The absolute worst thing ever reviewed there did get a “minus infinity”, but it’s better not to speak of that.
  • Throughout Roahm Mythril’s Mega Man Perfect Run videos, he strictly adheres to a scale of 1–10 for difficulty rankings, though there are some Robot Masters that test the limits. For example, he says that giving Top Man a score of 1 is being generous, because he wants to be fair by not going any lower. Conversely, Quick Man gets a 10, after which Roahm jokes “Can I give you more?” and temporarily fills the rest of the screen with rating icons and the text “OVER 9000!!”
    • His X series successor, Kevvl14, thought that giving Blaze Heatnix from X6 a perfect 10 would almost be an insult to his time. He compromises by giving Heatnix the biggest ten he’s ever given.
  • The 1996 PC fighting game Catfight, often counted today as one of the worst games ever made, got a lot of lowest-rating-we’ve-ever-given reviews. The wittiest came from Next Generation magazine: “Our scoring system won’t let us give zeroes, so Atlantean owes us one star.”

    Western Animation 
  • Friendly Neighborhood Librarian operates on a one- to five-star scale, and says that she doesn’t officially give out 0 stars on the show, but for Wayside, she wishes she could. Instead, she ended up giving it one star. She also gave Dario Argento’s Phantom of the Opera movie “one star, barely.”

Out of Bounds (‘On a Scale from One to Ten, this one goes Up to Eleven.’)

    Comic Books 
  • Spiderfan.org, which rates Spider-Man comic books on a scale of 1 to 5 webs, gave 1998’s The Final Chapter no webs, citing Aunt May’s being brought Back from the Dead with a truly absurd explanation, and general bad writing. The review concluded by saying the story was a waste of precious paper.

    Fan Works 

    Film 
  • When SFX magazine did their ratings from A to D-minus, rather than a star system, there was one object (a plastic, life-sized grey embryo in a jar) which they decided was worthy of an E.
    • The film Species II got an F on the same scale.
    • At the other end, when the star system came about, they gave Chuck Versus The Ring eleven stars out of five.
  • The Dread Central review of The 13th Alley: One BILLION knives out of 5 (the review thought it was a So Bad, It's Good masterpiece). Note: ‘Knives’ are a standard unit for this site, which is why this doesn’t fit a Meaningless Comparison.
  • The book and film reviews in the Czech sci-fi/fantasy magazine Ikarie normally go from one to five stars, with zero stars reserved for “So Bad It’s Horrible” ones. (And yes, half out of five was occasionally used as well.) There was one movie for which the reviewer didn’t feel zero was enough, so it got a 00.
  • IGN’s DVD review of This Is Spinal Tap received 11/10 instead of a real score.
  • 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting gives stars. It also gives negative stars to So Bad, It's Good movies. Zero stars are reserved for films that fail even that test.
  • Freddy Got Fingered received minus 1 star from the Toronto Star. No other movie has been rated so lowly.
  • Roger Ebert chose to remove the film Shoah from his list of candidates for the top ten films of 1985 (in its place appeared The Color Purple). He felt it deserved higher accolades.
    • On the other hand, Ebert occasionally gave zero-star ratings. These differed from his occasional ‘no-star’ ratings in that to earn zero stars, a movie had to offend his moral sensibilities in some way. This is why The Human Centipede II got zero stars (as opposed to the first movie, which got no rating) and why the original version of Death Race got zero stars vs. the remake’s half star even though Ebert had admitted that he considered the former more competently made.
  • Donald Clarke of The Ticket awarded six stars (out of five) to Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon 3D, an English-language remake of the director’s own The White Ribbon. This was a joke: no such movie exists and the review was published on April Fool’s Day.
  • The Boston Globe gave The Human Centipede II no stars out of five. As did The Daily Mail. And, as noted above, Roger Ebert.
  • Video Hound Golden Movie Retriever will normally give movies a score of one to four bones. For some films that are either hilariously bad or horrendously bad, they will offer a rating of Woof!
  • Similarly, Leonard Maltin will give films that don’t rate a star and a half a BOMB rating.
  • Only one movie, Daltry Calhoun, has ever received a zero from IGN (see below for the third and first things the site considered as “utterly lifeless and dull” as this one).
  • The New York Daily News frequently gives zero stars to movies they absolutely hated (such as Battleship).
  • Spill.com used to have "some ol' bullshit" as its lowest rating. The films of Seltzer and Friedberg motivated them to add an even lower "Fuck you" as its new lowest.
  • IMDb’s user rating for This is Spinal Tap is out of 11.
  • Lou Lumenick, the movie critic for the New York Post, gave the sketch comedy film Movie 43 negative four stars, calling it “the worst movie I’ve ever seen”. Ouch.
  • Dr. Salt, complaining that From Dusk Till Dawn received an inexplicable four stars in a television magazine, wrote that in his book it would get zero stars ("and that's only assuming I can't give negative stars"), with every other movie given one extra star just to make From Dusk Till Dawn seem worse.

    Literature 
  • Maximum Ride has a house that rates "on a scale from 1 to 10—an easy 15".
  • Impish Idea writers Fair & Finn ended their spork of Nibly The Bear Visits The People Town asking the commenters what rating they would give the book (presumably out of 10). The two responses were both in this category: Swenson gave a rating of -85, whereas Brendan Rizzo went even further, with a rating of negative infinity. Then, crossing over with Refusal to Rate, he said that he couldn't give it a rating at all because it does not qualify as a story, and compared it to Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • SF Debris gave the notorious Star Trek: Voyager episode “Threshold” 0 on a one-to-ten scale, with an added message “May God have mercy on your soul”. This opened the floodgates, as it were, and he’s since handed out another for Enterprise’s “A Night in Sickbay”. A few horrible episodes only missed this mark because another is worse, and he tries to preserve the Zero for the absolute worst episodes of each series (“Threshold” for Voyager, “Profit and Lace” for DS9, and “Code of Honor” for TNG.)
    • A score of 0 is given to the one episode of a series that brings shame to the entire Star Trek franchise by association.
    • “My Way or JANEWAY”—Chuck measures how his own parody of Captain Janeway would handle each scene, then sees how VOY’s Janeway measures up. He gives up halfway through, after the real Captain’s actions are more extreme than her parody’s.
    • For his non-Star Trek reviews, Chuck does not use a numerical scale, but rather "Must See", "Strongly Recommended", "Recommended", "Watchable" and "Skip". Doctor Who's "The Twin Dilemma" was rated simply "The Worst".
  • Keith D.A. Candido gave the fifth-season finale of Highlander, “Archangel,” a 0 out of a 1–10 scale, citing the episode’s introduction of an ancient Zoroastrian demon into the Highlander universe, Richie’s death scene happening as a result of him being handed the Idiot Ball, and a whole bunch of story elements that just don’t make sense.
  • The Zettai ni Oishii segments of Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende, which feature the cast’s attempts at making a specified dish with unusual ingredients, already has built-in negative values on its ratings scale of –2 to 10. Positive scores are represented by stars, negative scores by skull marks. But on at least one occasion, a dish has been awful enough to get two full skeletons.
  • IGN gave its third zero in the site’s history to the pilot of Work It, which was unwatchably terrible.
  • In-universe example in How I Met Your Mother, for the price of a wedding dress. The scale given is “never” to “never ever”. The rating is “never ever ever ever ever times infinity”.
  • For a while, back in the David Tennant run, the Doctor Who website contained episode reviews from a family who gave them a "fear factor" from 1 (mildly scary) to 5 (extremely scary), shown by the children of the family holding up scorecards. For both "Blink" and "The Impossible Planet", the children apparently made or found scorecards with sixes on them. On the website the overall scores for these episodes are listed as 5.5 ("Off the Scale") and 6 ("Beyond Fear") respectively.
  • The show MythBusters, since the second season, has a rating scale of sorts for the myths it tests: "Confirmed" (for a myth which fits the criteria within the original parameters), "Plausible" (for a myth which does not fit the original criteria but has been shown to be possible in realistic circumstances), or "Busted" (for a myth which is not possible anywhere near the original criteria, even if the concept behind it is sound). Quite a few myths have a Meaningless Comparison deviation, such as "Plausible, but ludicrous".
    • The myth of being killed by a falling bullet from a gun fired straight up was rated "all of the above", that is, Busted, Plausible, and Confirmed. This was because they determined that firing a bullet perfectly vertically would make it tumble as it fell back down, and not gain enough velocity to be lethal (Busted); but if the gun is aimed just a few degrees from vertical, the bullet won’t tumble and could kill someone when it lands (Plausible), and a doctor showed them X-ray slides of people who were actually killed in this way (Confirmed).
  • Musings of an X-Phile is a retro review page devoted to analysing The X-Files. Salome’s aim is to analyse all the episodes and both the movies. (And hopefully all three of them, or more).note  The episodes get grades like at school, and only the very best episodes have merited A-plus. The X-Files: Fight the Future review has two parts: one based on the storytelling and the plot, while the other is based on Mulder and Scully’s relationship. The latter got A-plus-plus-plus.
  • The Onion AV Club's reviews of Hostages mainly dealt out Ds and Fs, but episode eleven was so horrendous that the rating scale looped itself and Sonia Soraiya gave it an "A".
  • In-universe in the Muppet Show - Waldorf and Statler love Diana Ross so much that they freely deal negative ratings on an (implicite) 0-10 rating scale to the other acts.

    Music 
  • Mark Prindle gave Madonna’s American Life a zero out of ten. While he’s known for often being a Caustic Critic, this was the first (and still only) album to get a zero, and to ‘commemorate’ this he used a new graphic rather than representing the score with those tiny records as usual.
  • Thrash metal band Flotsam And Jetsam’s debut album Doomsday for the Deceiver got 6 Ks out of a possible 5 from Kerrang! magazine. Kind of a Crowning Moment Of Awesome for a relatively obscure band, considering no other album in the magazine’s history has ever received the honour.
  • The late, great British radio DJ John Peel ranked new songs on his programme on a 5-star system. When he first played “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones—a song which would become his favourite song of all time (lyrics from the song are even on his tombstone)—not only did he play it twice in a row, but he gave it a score of 28 out of 5 Stars.
  • When Gogol Bordello played Roskilde Festival in 2006, one reviewer gave them 7 out of 6 stars, declaring that he’d draw the last star himself.
  • The Rap Critic gave No Love by Eminem (featuring Lil Wayne) six stars out of five, possibly as much from shock that Eminem was on form after several years of mediocrity and Lil Wayne showed his poetic chops in the same song as much as anything. He has since given a few songs 6 out of 5 when they surpass the potential he thinks they had or otherwise "break the barometer"—among other things, he gave The Marshal Mathers LP 2, as a whole, 5.5 stars.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Wrestle Crap’s description of the Black Scorpion’s final appearance, where he landed in a spaceship, says, “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the ultimate in stupidity, this rates 178.”

    Tabletop Games 
  • A wiki editor gave Pun-Pun (a Dungeons & Dragons character build that turns a level 5 kobold into a living god) an optimization rating of 9001 out of 5.
  • SandTrap, a reviewer of the early days of Pojo's Yu-Gi-Oh! Card of the Day, had a habit of doing this quite often, at one point complaining about the fact that the site disapproved of his giving bad cards ludicrously negative ratings, when all cards are supposed to be rated from 1 to 5. A notable example is in his review of Bite Shoes, a card which he gave a rating of -75 out of 5 and said that he would give anyone using a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown until they died.

    Video Games 
  • Apparently, Net Jak rewrote its code so that it could give Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing a zero.
  • For a fictional example, there’s this Penny Arcade strip. After enough bribes have been heaped up, Donkey Konga 2 winds up with an 11 out of 5 at Gamespy … (see this page for more info)
  • X-Play awarded that infamous E.T. game a ‘Zero’ out of five, measured on a scale that bottoms out at 1.
  • Guitar Hero got at least one 11/10 review.
    • Also, Super Mario Galaxy on the Italian Official Nintendo Magazine. As the magazine had always been known for being far too generous regarding scores to Nintendo games, readers’ backlash raged. Two years later, they gave its even better sequel a 10 out of 10.
  • Polish magazine CD-Action gave Limbo of the Lost a negative score for plagiarism alone.
  • When the original Wing Commander was released in 1990, it broke several scales in the positive direction. Dragon, for example, rated it as six out of five stars.
  • Half-Life 2 was awarded an 11/10 by Maximum PC magazine. At the end of a rare-for-that-publication exclusive 5-page spread. If this took place in a gaming magazine, it would indicate an incredible amount of marketing control over the content of the magazine; as it is, with Maximum PC being a hardware-centric publication that happens to review games on occasion, and the long spreads devoted to a single game being a rarity rather than the norm, it just stands out as extreme fanboyism.
  • Computer Gaming World, which normally bottomed out at 1 star, had an ‘unholy trinity’ of games that received zero: Postal 2, Mistmare, and Dungeon Lords.
  • Averted by EGM—at the beginning and end of the column’s lifespan, “Seanbaby’s Rest of the Crap” was for games that would warrant zeroes and negative scores on the normal rating scale used by the other reviewers. Pretty much the only reason he was doing this was for the humor value, since, as the very premise states, even the best of the games he reviewed were all the worst in shovelware.
    • Also played straight: The Guy Game, Mortal Kombat Advance and Ping Pals all received 0.0s from one of the 3 reviewers (with Ping Pals getting two zeroes).
  • Hex and Bajo (of Good Game) gave Robot Unicorn Attack an utterly “ridonkulous” score of 8971 rubber chickens (a standard unit on the show) out of 20.
  • Swedish gaming magazine Super PLAY gave Brutal Legend 11/10. There were likely a few reasons for this, one being that ‘this one goes to eleven’ just fits the nature of the game, the other one being that it was the last issue of the magazine and they broke quite a few rules in it.
  • IGN sometimes gives out a score of less than 1 out of 10, but only ever gave a zero once for a video game, for Olympic Hockey Nagano ’98 (the first thing they ever gave that score), because it was exactly the same game as Wayne Gretzky Hockey ’98 with a Palette Swap.
  • An in-game example of a similar system, but not used for ratings: In NetHack, wands and other magical items that have magical charges normally have some whole number of charges, between zero and a positive whole number, inclusive. If they run out by being used down to zero, they can (usually) be recharged. If you zap a wand of cancellation (whose spell is meant to erase magical effects) at them, their number of charges is set to –1: They can’t be recharged at all, even if you have scrolls of charging.
  • TOM from Toonami gave The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim a 100/10 (while the expansion Dawnguard only got an 8/10).
  • The Repton Resource Page rates the difficulty of individual Repton 3 levels on a 0–10 scale. Levels in the Expansion Packs exceeded a ‘10’ rating so often that the scale was changed to “more skulls = harder” without any specific maximum. So far, the highest rating given is 16.
  • Yahoo Games gave Batman: Arkham City a 6 out of 5.
  • Johnny VS The World gave Superman 64 a –64/10.
  • PC Power Play, which has a ten-point scale, gave The War Z a rating of 0/10.
  • Zero Punctuation does not give numerical scores at all, but the original Portal still effectively broke the ‘scale’. Yahtzee, who usually portrays games as horribly flawed and unplayable regardless of whether he likes them or not, said nothing negative about Portal and summarized his opinion as “… absolutely sublime from start to finish, and I will jam forks in my eyes if I ever use those words to describe anything else ever again.”
  • Game Players Magazine gave Cosmic Race a 0% (the only game to ever have this ‘honor’) and even named the rating after the game; the next range up (1–9%) is “Shoot me” just to let the reader know how bad they felt the game was.
  • Game Pro Magazine, in the January 1997 issue, gave Battle Arena Toshinden URA for the Sega Saturn a 0.5 fun factor. Up until that point, the lowest score a game could get in ANY category (Graphics, Sound, Control, Fun Factor) was a 1.0. This (along with a rather negative fan reaction to the reviewer faces they were using at this time) was probably what prompted Gamepro to change their reviewing faces in the next issue.
  • Computer + Video Games reviewer Tim Metcalfe, who viewed bullfighting as Sick and Wrong, gave Ole, Toro a 0 (out of 10) in all categories but value, which was "less than 0."
  • In-game example: the "Turn it up to 11" achievement in Game Dev Tycoon requires that a reviewer give a score of 11/10 in one of your games.
  • Amiga Concept, a French Amiga magazine, gave a -31% score to the Porting Disaster of Battletoads.

    Webcomics 
  • Cucumber Quest uses video-game-styled profile pictures on the cast page that list the characters’ stats. Several of them break the rating scale (notably, Cucumber’s dad has a Jerkass rating that goes right off the side of the page).
  • In Freefall, Genre Savvy Raibert subverts this. When asked if something is a ten on a "How bad is it?" scale, he says 8.5 — nothing is a ten, because things can always get worse.

    Web Videos 
  • When rating the use of English in a music video the Eat Your Kimchi scale is 1–5 with 5 the highest rating. Simon gave rapper G. Dragon a 37 out of 5 for the English in Get Your Crayon.
  • In Demo Reel, Jimmy Boyd's movie Jingle Sells received 0.2 stars on IMDb. The lowest rating a movie can receive is one.
  • On That Guy with the Glasses, The Rap Critic rated Lupe Fiasco's song "Bitch Bad" a 6 out of 5, and then explains: "Yeah, I can go over the limits of my own rating system—if I can have a zero, I can have a six!" (This actually wasn't the first song he had given a rating of 6.)

    Western Animation 
  • Seanbaby gave the Challenge of the Super Friends version of The Riddler a –1. He gave Aquaman a 1. He did explain the logic behind it: Riddler is as useless as an ordinary human being would be against the Superfriends, and then makes it worse by giving away the Legion of Doom’s plans in his puzzles. He’s actually a 2 for the heroes’ side subtracted from his basic 1, making The Riddler, “as useless as an ordinary human being”, a better hero than Aquaman.

    Other 
  • At the 1976 Summer Olympics in 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. Whoops. And then, just for good measure, she proceeded to do it six more times. She left the entire gymnastics world gaping in awe as she turned the sport upside down and inside out, and then shook it just to see what came out. It’s still reeling from the aftershocks.
  • In the aftermath of the 2009 Australian bushfires, authorities introduced a new fire danger category above ‘Extreme’, named ‘Catastrophic—Code Red’.
  • In physics, the Mohs scale of hardness is defined as capping out at 10 with diamond, which was at the time the hardest substance known to man. Aggregated diamond nanorod, or ‘hyperdiamond’, is much harder than diamond and thus goes off the top of the scale.
  • Oil prices at Canadian gas stations used to be advertised with large placards that only go up to 99.9 cents/litre. When gas prices finally went through the dollar/litre ceiling in 2009, there was a lot of bitter joking on the streets of Toronto over the ‘suddenly cheap gas’ as gas stations were forced to display the new prices as 4.7 for 104.7 cents/litre.
  • Hurricane Sandy was renamed ‘Superstorm’ Sandy by many commentators as it wasn’t technically a hurricane by the time it landed, but the size of the storm and destruction it caused was well beyond that of a ‘mere’ tropical storm.
  • In the United States, the USDA rates meat quality from Canner to Prime on grades 1–5. The Japanese-made Kobe Beef had a reputation for being un-rateable due to being too good.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rates the safety of cars on a scale of 1–5 stars. The Tesla Motors Model S electric car got a score of 5.4 stars. (Apparently, not having an engine up front gives the Model S a large crumple zone.)
  • Jewornotjew.com rates how Jewish people are on a scale of 0–15 based on desire, behaviour, and how proud they would be to have them as Jews. Adolf Hitler, naturally, got a –1 on the last one. Queen Elizabeth II got a total score of 4.5.
  • The January 1985 issue of Britain's Car magazine had a comparison test of four "poverty" cars: the Citroen 2CV, the Lada Riva, the Reliant Rialto, and the Skoda Estelle. For the occasion, they made up a rating system called the "Cavalier Rating", where a car got 10 points in a category if it was as good as a Vauxhall Cavalier 1.6 GL and no points if it was as bad as a Fiat 126. The three-wheeled Rialto was given a "handling/stability" rating of -5.
  • The US Armed Forces' service-independent aptitude test, the ASVAB, can work like this. Someone who scores well on, for example, the Air Force's score breakdown will completely annihilate the Army's breakdown.

Meaningless Comparison (‘Final Score: 7 Bananas.’)

    Anime and Manga 
  • Zac Bertschy of Anime News Network awarded Silver Spoon with “3 moos out of five” and Free! with “4-pack, halfway to a 6, gotta do more crunches this summer”.

    Film 
  • The Dread Central review of Birdemic: 5 out of 5 Exploding Eagles (same as the The 13th Alley review).
  • In film critic Leonard Maltin’s movie guide, he gives the movie The Naked Gun 33⅓ a rating of 2⅓ stars, the only time he has given anything a score not in an increment divisible by one-half (or BOMB). In his review of The Naked Gun, he gives it 2½ stars and parenthetically explains, “What else?”

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update recurring character Aunt Linda (played by Kristen Wiig) gives such ratings as “seven ‘Ghaaas?’ and one-and-a-half ‘Yougottabe Frigginkiddingme!’” (Note that those were both for one work.)
  • Lampshaded near the end of season 3 of the American version of The Office: Pam is keeping track of the points that Michael gives various competitors in the office games, but Michael keeps changing the method in which he rates them (i.e., a gold star to the winner of event 1, 10 points for event 2, a checkmark in event 3, etc.). The end result is that Pam can’t convert the scores over between events and has no idea who’s actually winning.
  • In Red Dwarf, Dave Lister frequently talks about writing Michelin Guides or similar about various settings, resulting in Legion getting a psycho rating of “four and a half chainsaws, maybe five”. Rimmer suggests that the G-Tower from The Tank in series 8 probably gets “the full five slop-out buckets” in the guide to Penal Hell-Holes.

    Music 
  • Music critic Anthony Fantano (theneedledrop) gave The Lonely Island’s Turtleneck and Chain 5 dicks out of 10.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • When pro wrestling reviewer Scott Keith has to review a particularly horrendous match, and the 5-star to negative 5-star system fails to express how disgusted he is with the product, he breaks out the ‘Hot Poker up the Ass’ rating system. The general idea behind is that he takes one person (usually the main guy responsible for the horrible show, such as Vince Russo) and rates each segment by the number of hot pokers that person deserves to have shoved up their ass for subjecting viewers to it. Kevin Nash and WCW announcer Tony Schiavone have been victims of this as well.
    • Another example he used once was the Shane McMahon Unconditional ReFund, supposedly based on an incident in which a friend of his was sitting behind Shane at a show and got paid actual cash money to quit complaining about the show. Basically, how bad each match was would be measured by the approximate refund amount to justify not complaining about it.
  • Bryan Alvarez described the nWo Souled Out Pay-Per-View from 1997 as “twenty asses.”

    Video Games 
  • X-Play regularly gives its review scores nonsensical values, usually related to the game being reviewed, somehow.
  • Penny Arcade has a comic where Gabe and Tycho briefly review Madden 13, ending with a game review score of 9x and 3/(two footballs).

    Web Originals 

    Web Video 
  • When Bro Team Pill reviews a game, its rating always nonsensical. F.E.A.R. 2 got a "I would rate this game". Garshasp got a "Cool out of yes". Battle Field 3's review concluded with him reviewing the review video, claiming it's better than his FEAR review.

Meaningless Value (‘Up Yours out of 10.’)

    Anime and Manga 
  • Zac Bertschy from Anime News Network is infamous for these during the annual season previews, especially harem comedies and ecchi shows. He gave the first episode of Queen's Blade an animated GIF of a smiley face shooting itself in the head out of 5. Kiss X Sis got a Picard facepalm instead of a rating. Infinite Stratos got a rating of “quiet I am trying to nap here”, a preview that cut off into ZZZZZZZZ halfway through, and a video of a cute kitten as a better alternative for something to watch. Also provides an example of an Out of Bounds rating: Zac sarcastically gave Sengoku Collection a 10 out of 5.
  • Hope Chapman aka JesuOtaku gave Oniichan No Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Ja Nai N Dakara Ne a “GTFO” rating in ANN season previews. The second season of Strike Witches was given a shrug. Hamatora received an "oh my god I don't care" out of 5.

    Film 
  • CHUD.com’s infamous “Fuck You Out of 10” review of the Halloween (2007) remake.
  • Dread Central reviewer Scott Foy’s now trademark “FUCK THIS MOVIE” rating. Foy doesn’t use profanity often, so when one of his reviews contains the phrase (and now rating) “Fuck this movie” it means that the film in question is really bad.
  • Spill.com (an online movie review site) gives a rating of “Fuck You” for movies they absolutely hated. They’ve got “Full Price!!”, “Matinee!”, “Rental”, and “Some Bullshit!” as the other ratings instead of a numbered scale, but “Fuck you” is not in their regular rating scale. However, sometimes they find so bad and offensive that they can’t even give it “Some old bullshit”, instead resorting to this. Often accompanied with a picture of Korey flipping the bird.
    • Disaster Movie was the first movie they reviewed to earn this dubious honor.
    • Vampires Suck in this review. Spill's video reviews are usually 4–5 minutes long and have the profanity spoken by the reviewers censored. The review is only 44 seconds long, consisting only of a clip from the film, which then cuts to a disgusted Korey staring blankly at the camera for several seconds before issuing his “Fuck You” rating, which this time goes uncensored.
  • Sue at Mutant Reviewers from Hell gave Grave of the Fireflies a rating of “GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!
  • Phelous, a reviewer of bad horror movies from That Guy with the Glasses, described A Serbian Film as the worst thing he’s ever watched. And he’s watched movies like Birdemic and Five Across the Eyes.
    • Notable is the fact that he usually watches a movie for a review twice (once just to watch it, and again to take notes) and he was so disgusted with it he refused to watch it again after the first viewing.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Victoria Jackson’s tenure on Saturday Night Live in the late 1980s shaded into this trope. Her rating scale was “4: Pretty good. 3: Best movie ever. 2: Worst movie ever. 1: Pretty good.”
  • Conan O'Brien does this on occasion with his Clueless Gamer reviews. He usually starts by noting that he’s the worst possible person to review games as the last game he was good at was Pong, and then ends with a completely nonsensical rating—and rating scale.
    Conan: Out of an 88—an 88 being pretty good, a 110 being excellent, a 150 being awful, and a 3 being … not bad—I’d give this … a 26 C.

    Music 
  • Pitchfork gave Jet’s Shine On the rating “video of a chimp drinking its own piss”. (After a site redesign, a 0.0 score is displayed; the video is posted where the review would be.)
    • Their rating of Radiohead’s In Rainbows seemed like this: instead of a score, there was an input box for users to submit scores (a reference to the band’s ‘pay what you feel like’ distribution method for this album). However, upon entering a score, the editor’s score (9.3 out of 10) became visible. However, after a site redesign, only the reviewer’s score remains.
    • They gave Do You Like Rock Music?, the second album by English rockers British Sea Power, the rating of U2.
  • Cokemachineglow’s alleged review of Starflyer 59’s Dial M (which began with the reviewer admitting that they could not objectively review the album, and immediately derailed into a rage-filled rant against Christian Rock) gave the album a score of “†%”.
  • Terrorizer magazine gave Sunn O)))’s album Monoliths and Dimensions the rating O))). They actually intended this as a compliment, however, awarding it a glowing review.

    Video Games 
  • Sure, the rating scale of ScrewAttack’s VGR show is pretty idiosyncratic in itself (“Buy It”, “Rent It” and “F It”), but they still do occasionally play with the scale for certain games. For example, Modern Warfare 2 was given a “rent it, just never return it” in protest of Activision’s infamous price hike they demanded for that game.
  • During his stint at Electronic Gaming Monthly reviewing horrible games, Seanbaby once gave a Trolls game a score of “a picture of a Troll riding a Hotdog.”
  • Highly divisive Shmup Space Giraffe received what Wikipedia describes as an “unusual” rating of “Holy crap this is awesome hell yes/10” from a review on Angry Gamer.
  • JonTron’sGame Reviews?” hand out scores that do not make sense at all, such as an A out of 5 for Sonic Colors and 6 Golden Bananas+ out of Shigeru Miyamoto for Donkey Kong Country Returns.
  • DMJared’s “Pro Reviews” have been known to contain this. He has given such ratings as “a kitten goblin out of 10” for Pocky & Rocky, and “a training wheel out of 10” for Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest.
  • A variant in The Grimoire of Marisa, wherein Marisa rates and offers her opinions on some of the many spellcards in the series. Marisa’s rating scale itself is fairly normal, giving the spellcard a certain number of stars based on her perceived difficulty of “Referencing” the spell. However, she sometimes breaks the “difficulty level” boundary and rates some by “Show-Off Level,” “Temperature,” “Believability,” “Volume,” and “Whimsicalness.”
  • Top Ten FTW's Top 10 Most Difficult Games introduced a Frustration Index Meter that gave mostly nonsensical scores like "Balls deep in that ass" and "Double Obama Teriyaki"
  • TOM from Toonami liked Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag that he reviewed it before finishing it, and noted he doesn't want it to end. So he gave it a score of "ARRRRRRRR!"
  • Paul Tassi of Forbes expressed a mixture of horror and addition when reviewing Flappy Bird, questioning how a game so inherently pointless and low quality could become a major phenomenon. In light of its inexplicable fame and appeal, he rated it "Cthulhu/10".

    Web Originals 

Impossible to Rate (‘What.’)

    Anime and Manga 
  • Zac Bertschy of Anime News Network gave the first episode of Upotte!! a rating of “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT”.

    Comic Books 
  • Paul O’Brien of The X-Axis picked up Quantum and Woody #32, on the assumption that a relaunch of a title, which had as its gimmick that stuff had happened in all the unpublished issues since the cancellation, would be a great out-of-context jumping-on point. He was wrong, and rated it n/a, on the basis that he simply couldn’t judge what someone who knew what the hell was going on might get out of it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • MythBusters (see above) once had a myth fail to yield useful results—the Supersize JATO Rocket Car, because the rocket car blew up before it could launch off the ramp. Adam decided to call this myth “Appropriately Supersized”.

    Music 
  • Mixed with Meaningless Comparison in Jon Savage’s review of Nurse With Wound’s 1979 LP Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella for Sounds magazine, in which he gave the album “????? out of five” instead of the usual five stars (he couldn’t decide whether it was ‘pure genius’ or ‘sheer nonsense’).
  • Similarly, Pitchfork’s review of Robert Pollard’s Relaxation of the Asshole gave it both a 0.0 and a 10.0 (the current version of the site just displays the 0.0 though).
  • This review of Toby Keith's "American Ride", in which he is so baffled by the song (he can't seem to pinpoint whether it's an Indecisive Parody, So Bad, It's Good, or a Mind Screw), ending his review in "I'm afraid the 'Ride' has just left me stranded too deeply in WTF-limbo to render a verdict." He eschews the site's A-to-F rating scale to give the song a rating of "AMERICA!… I mean, N/A."

    Video Games 
  • NGamer gave ??% to Bakushow (aka LOL), on the grounds that its score depends entirely on what the player makes of it.
    • WarioWare: DIY got 100%, as the game itself is one of making games. The thinking was that NGamer made all the games, and NGamer is infallible. Therefore, NGamer’s games must be perfect.
    • On separate occasions under its previous names (NGC Magazine and N64 Magazine), it awarded scores of ??% to two Japan-only games that they found completely unable to comprehend- GiFTPiA on the Gamecube (which they suspected was probably really good) and Get A Love: Panda Love Unit on the Nintendo 64 (with the mini-review reading “Impenetrable Japanese girlfriend simulator. No, hang on, That Came Out Wrong.”)
    • Similarly, the UK Nintendo Official Magazine gave a blank space where the percentage score traditionally was for Phantasy Star Online Episode III: C.A.R.D. Revolution. The review essentially degenerated into a series of screenshots of humorous quotes sent to random online opponents.
  • PC Gamer UK once gave a terrible University management game XX% and the review was written as a multiple choice exam so the reader could choose the final score. The highest possible was no more that 10% and the lowest was a flat 0.
  • When TOM from Toonami reviewed Dropship: United Peace Force for the PlayStation 2 the game received a “?” rating. Tom had no idea how to rate the game since he could never get past the sixth level. This was accompanied by repeated footage of TOM losing on that level.
  • Equestria Gaming has handed out “Ungradeable—??/10” ratings on occasion.
  • In a case of it being this trope or Readings Are Off the Scale, Symposium of Post-mysticism’s author Akyuu gives ratings for friendliness and power. Unlike Perfect Memento in Strict Sense, which had definite ratings, she actually gives out “Unknown” ratings for when she cannot define the character. Reiuji Utsuho is a unique case: both areas are rated as “Unknown”.
  • Video game magazine Zzap64! already did this in 1987 when they reviewed the Shoot 'Em Up Construction Kit. This is mainly due to the fact that they thought that the game's quality depends on the things that you make with it. They said however that the game is a great tool to make shoot 'em ups with which is why they awarded it a gold medal. This has probably made this trope Older Than They Think.

    Web Video 

Refusal to Rate (‘Reviews don't apply here.’)

    Comic Books 
  • The X-Axis again: Paul didn’t give a rating to the 2004 relaunch of X-Force, holding that judging its quality by any normal standard was beside the point—it was exactly what you’d expect a relaunch of X-Force by Rob Liefeld to be like and therefore, presumably, the people who bought it did so because that’s what they wanted (whether to make fun of it or because they were genuinely fans of the Rob Liefeld style).
  • Linkara refused to review One More Day claiming it’s so bad it doesn’t even deserve a review. He eventually did.

    Film 
  • Roger Ebert did this occasionally:
    Ebert: Note: I am not giving a star rating to Pink Flamingos, because stars simply seem not to apply. It should be considered not as a film but as a fact, or perhaps as an object.
    Ebert: I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don’t shine.
  • There was a review of one of The Toxic Avenger movies that rated it “Stars? Who needs stars?”
  • A fairly positive example: the website 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting will not give star reviews to movies that either predate the concept of filmmaking (Georges Méliès’ ‘stunt films’) or are not in any state to be objectively reviewed (the stills-based ‘reconstruction’ of the legendarily-lost London After Midnight). These films are still reviewed, but their rating is “Not Applicable”.
  • The only film currently without a star rating in The Editing Room is Gooby; and that particular script needs to be read to be believed. This might be more a case of Impossible to Rate, however.

    Literature 
  • Smart Bitches Trashy Books has a grade of "DNF", for books they Did Not Finish.
  • A Ramone, who reviews on The Arched Doorwaynote , once refused to rate a book she hadn't finished; the closest she got was saying she wouldn't recommend it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A good-natured case of this was when SF Debris reviewed the TNG episode “Family”. While he liked the episode, he refused to rate it because, as he put it, the episode consisted entirely of plot threads which in other episodes would’ve been B plots. He also did this for Doctor Who’s “Vincent and the Doctor”, for the same reason—he could not compare it to other episodes for rating, when it is so different to them.

    Music 
  • James Wolcott’s review of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music.
    “What’s most distressing is the possibility that Metal Machine Music isn’t so much a knife slash at his detractors as perhaps a blade turned inward. At its very worst this album suggests masochism. He may be, to shift weaponry images, moving to the center of fire so that we critics-as-assassins can make a clean kill. Fine, Lou, go ahead. Just stand there. Don’t move, But [sic] damned if I’ll squeeze the trigger.”

    Tabletop Games 
  • The writer of the tier system for Dungeons & Dragons 3.5e refused to give the truenamer class a rating—due to poorly-written formulas, after the first few levels it can’t use its powers at all without extremely heavy Min-Maxing, and even then it’s a Squishy Wizard with worse spells than some Magic Knight classes. He would later note that an optimized truenamer is in Tier 4 (about as good as a warlock or rogue), while an unoptimized one is Tier 6 (the same as Joke Characters like the commoner and infamous trainwrecks like the samurai and divine mind).

    Video Games 
  • X-Play required any game they reviewed to receive a rating of 1 to 5 stars. Any other rating was not allowed, so games that the hosts felt didn’t deserve even 1 star were never given a review.
    • The hosts refused to rate Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing because giving it 1 star would imply that it was actually a game—although they did not do the same for ET. Other games featured in the ‘games you should never buy’ segment, such as Barbie Horse Adventure or Flags (a ‘flag waving in the wind’ simulator), also were not rated.
    • X-Play gave Pokémon Channel a 1 out of 5, but they later said it should’ve been left unscored since it too wasn’t technically a game.
  • Played for Laughs by Jim Sterling’s100% objective review” of Final Fantasy XIII.
    • Played straight in Sterling’s review of Velvet Assassin, where the game is so horrible he couldn’t finish it and gave it an ‘N/A’ score.
    • Was also played straight in Sterling’s review of Knight's Contract, where he stated that while he couldn’t give it a score because he did not finish it, he assured readers that “it would not get a ten out of ten”.
  • Although The Video Game Critic typically grades on a standard A to F scale, he will occasionally give a game an ‘NA’ (ostensibly for ‘Not Applicable’.) This is typically for one of two reasons: Either the game is simply an enhanced remake of another one, or it’s meant for preschoolers and thus it would be slightly unfair for him to give it a grade.
  • When N-Gamer reviewed the infamous witch-touching game Doki Doki Majo Shinpan!, the rating for each category simply said “NO”. It was even awarded the “Superman 64 Award For Worst Game (of 2007)”.
  • Tomcat Alley, an FMV flight simulator on the Sega CD, was given no score on a scale from 0–100 by a magazine called Interface (“TA claims to be an ‘interactive movie’ and not something as lowly as a mere videogame. And since our business is games it gets no score. No arms, no cookies!”).
  • Again from The Grimoire of Marisa: Marisa outright refuses to rate the spellcards of Suika and Medicine. Suika because all but one of her moves aren’t even danmaku (her being a fighting game boss who uses brute force), and Medicine because her body can’t handle using poison.
  • Kill Screen’s review of Duke Nukem Forever probably stands as the most extreme example of this; not only did the reviewer refuse to give a score, the entire site decided not to give out scores ever again.
    “We didn’t think it would be possible for a single terrible game to change our entire scoring system. Congratulations, Duke, you’ve broken us.”
  • In place of verbally receiving its 1, or any verbal review at all, Alex Navarro’s video review of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing ends with him turning his back on his desk, walking out to the street, lying down on it, and shaking his head.
  • In response to the technical issues involving the Always-On DRM and the disastrous launch, Jonathan Cresswell’s ‘review’ of the 2013 SimCity is nothing more than a fake loading screen and “Estimated load time: <random number> minutes.”
    • YouTube game reviewer DMJared did something similar in his One-Minute Review of the game. He just showed himself struggling to get into the game, gave up 10 seconds into the review, and just ended it with the line, “F*** it, I’m going to bed,” cutting to a black screen for the rest of the one-minute video.

    Web Originals 
  • Something Awful’s “WTF, D&D!?” column reviews bad or otherwise bizarre Tabletop Games. However, their page for FATAL wasn’t so much a review as it was a top-ten list of reasons why they refused to review it.
  • Blogger Beware's retrospective on the original Goosebumps books lists the ten best and worst books. In the latter category, Chicken Chicken (a book he found to be absolutely horrible) ranks #0, with this paragraph accompanying it:
    "This book doesn't deserve a number. It doesn't even deserve to be listed. To list it implies some value, even as a marker for the lows of the series. But this book doesn't deserve the attention it will garner just by virtue of its position. This isn't a case of 'So bad it's good,' this is 'So bad I want to vomit[...]'. Chicken Chicken very nearly ended the blog two years ago, but I ultimately decided to push forward. I don't know what else to say except it really is that bad'."
  • The Rap Critic refused to give a grade to "Loyal" by Chris Brown because "it would validate him as a rapper".

    Western Animation 

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