“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.”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 they adhere 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--; 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.
open/close all folders
Still Within Bounds (‘I'd give it a zero, but I can't.’)
Anime and Manga
- 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 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.
- Alex Abad-Santos' Vox review of Pixels is either this, or extremely close to this (it got a zero; it's not clear if that's a part of the usual scale on Vox), basically implying he'd give it an even lower score if possible with this opening:
Pixels is a movie.This is the nicest thing I can say about it. It is a motion picture in the same way that any space with four walls and a window is considered a bedroom in Manhattan, and in the same way that lampreys are fish. It's not so much a film as it is an all-out assault on the senses, a middle finger to anyone with a brain. It's an open taunt, daring people (and their children) to spend money on a gaping malpractice of creativity.
- On the same movie, Moviebob (who didn't give out ratings of this kind at the time, so it's here of necessity) did a review of Pixels that explicitly states:
Pixels is awful on a level that defies even the most negative conventions of review. Not a single joke lands, not a single performance works, the story is lazy, the stakes make no sense, the staging is limp and lifeless, and director Chris Columbus has finally made a movie worse than Nine Months. It demands some kind of new metric below the stars or thumbs number scales, like "how many fingers should the people responsible for this piece of shit be allowed to keep".
- “I might have to modify our grading schedule and give it a Z except that the poor letter Z did nothing to deserve being permanently stuck on a Cassie Edwards novel.” —SBSarah, reviewing Savage Moon, which got an ‘F’.
- In the Malcolm in the Middle episode "Emancipation", a new teacher creates a ranking system for Malcolm's class, forcing the students to compete against each other for the #1 slot. Malcolm at first rebels and ends up in the #12 position, but then he decides to be so good that he breaks the system. His name climbs up the ranks until he's doing so well the teacher is forced to place his name on the wall several spaces above the #1 spot (which would appear to make this an example of "Out of Bounds", but he is still technically #1).
- 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."
- “This game officially received the lowest score in the history of GameSpot: 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!!
- 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.”
- Dance Dance Revolution's foot rating scales initially (in 1998) went from a low of 1 to a maximum of 8, quickly amended with a 9-footer in 2nd Mix six months later, and then a 10-footer in MAX2 in 2002. Here, the rating scale stood still for quite some time, with a few new songs in every release getting harder and harder despite still being rated as 10-foot songs (compare MAX 300, the first 10, to later 10s like the Fascination and Pluto series). Eventually in 2008, Konami relented and introduced a new ratings scale in Dance Dance Revolution X, with all previous ratings inflated by about 50% and a new top-end of 20-foot for future expansion.
- During Electronic Gaming Monthly's review of 187: Ride or Die, one reviewer said he awarded it a "4.0" as a game but as a product a "negative f*** you" because it was such a crass and blatant attempt to capitalize on gangsta culture with no appreciation for how to make it into a quality game.
- Many, many reviewers on the Internet Movie Database give various shows and films a rating of "1" because IMDB doesn't have a "0".
- 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.”
- In an episode of The Emperor's New School, Yzma creates a clone of Kuzco to fail all of his classes. At one point he gets a G- on a test.
Out of Bounds (‘On a Scale from One to Ten, this one goes Up to Eleven.’)
- Cupcakes: Popular fanblog Equestria Daily gave this super-gory Dark Fic a “GRIMDARK AS FUCK” tag, as opposed to usual dark fics which usually only get a ‘Dark’ or a ‘Grimdark tag. Similary, the epic-length Fallout: Equestria got the tag Legendary.
- Rage Reviews (a review group on Fimfiction.Net) normally grades fanfics on a scale of 0% to 100% Rage, with higher percentages being worse scores. But for stories even worse, inspiring the hatred of multiple reviewers, there's the 120% Rage score. And for stories even worse than that, there's 200% Rage, which can only be awarded with permission from the group's founder. And beyond even that, the group made a "Literally Broke the Scale" score, represented by a .gif that randomly cycles through various four-digit percentages. That one was initially created just as a joke—but they wound up actually awarding it to The Rise of Spike the Dragon.
- 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 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. Ebert talks more about his no-star rating in his review of Death Wish 2.
- 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).
- 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.
- An In-Universe example with Kung Fu Panda. Master Shifu tells Po that there's no Level 0 when it comes to kung fu training. After Po majorly fails in the training chamber, Shifu says "There is now a Level 0".
- An “off the scale” option is implicit in the review icons long used by the Sunday edition of the (combined) San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner. Instead of stars, each option shows a cartoon figure of a little man in a movie seat. From highest to lowest: little man leaping in the air applauding wildly; little man sitting upright clapping his hands; little man slumped dully in his seat; little man fast asleep ... and, finally, an empty seat.
- Maximum Ride has a house that rates "on a scale from 1 to 10—an easy 15".
- Impis 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.
- On Junior Masterchef Australia, a contestant was scored an 11 (on a 10 point scale) by two judges. Clearly they thought that his dish was better than the example dish provided by the professional chef.
- 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 - the one episode of a series that brings shame to the entire Star Trek franchise by association (the aforementioned "Threshold", "Profit and Lace" for DS9, "Code of Honor" for TNG and "And The Children Shall Lead" for TOS).
- “My Way or JANEWAY”—Chuck measures how his own parody of Captain Janeway would handle each scene, then sees how Voyager’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", "Fine", "Watchable" and "Avoid". Doctor Who's "The Twin Dilemma" and Stargate SG-1's "Emancipation" were 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”. (It's later revealed to be $8000.)
- 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 Scullys 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.
- In-universe on Friends when Joey is preparing to audition the role of a 19 year old. He wears a jersey over a t-shirt, a touque and boxers above his waistline, and says "wack" and "'sup". When he asks Chandler if he's 19, Chandler says "Yes. On a scale from one to ten, ten being the dumbest a person can look, you are definitely 19."
- In Square One TV's Music Video "Less Than Zero" Stanley O'Toole manages to get negative scores in diving, dance, and rollerskating competitions. When he competes in the hammerthrow he throws it backwards, netting a -55 feet score.
Less than nothing is my battle cry!
- In the second episode of iCarly featuring Nevel Papperman, upon seeing Nevel's "nerd cave", Sam says that she used to rank nerds on a scale from 1 to Freddie but that Nevel just broke that scale.
- 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 bandnote , 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.
- Music and film publication Slant Magazine has given at least two zero-star ratings in its music section: to John Rich's Son of a Preacher Man and to Faith Hill's Fireflies.
- The star ranking system, thought up by industry insiders and popularized by The Wrestling Observer Newsletter, is mostly defined by three marks. 0 is dud, 2 is average, 5 cannot be improved upon, with few matches ever getting more than 3 or less than 1 by the publication, at least when the difficult to impress Dave Meltzer is the one reviewing...that was until 1984 in Madison Square Garden when David Schultz defeated Rocky Johnson in a match Dave Meltzer gave "minus 3 stars". This was surpassed at the 1985 The Wrestling Classic after Meltzer rated a match between Junkyard Dog and Moondog Spot "minus 5 stars", which presumably means cannot get any worse.
- WrestleCrap’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.”
- The infamous "MINUS. FIVE. STARS." given to the Sharmell/Jenna Morasca match at TNA's Victory Road 2009 by The Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Bryan Alvarez that eventually wound up in Botchamania's opening sequence.
- Bryan Alvarez of Wrestling Observer rated the The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff vs. The Bushwhackers match at the 1998 PPV, Heroes of Wrestling, "minus more stars than there are stars in the universe, and the universe is infinite". Similarly, Dave Meltzer rated the match as "Absolute Zero stars" note .
- The Wrestle Kingdom 11 main event between Kenny Omega and then-reigning IWGP champion Kazuchika Okada was rated by Meltzer an unprecedented six stars.
- Meltzer then later stated that the second match between Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada at Dominion 6.11 was better than the first giving it 6.25 stars. Meltzer must love this trope.
- 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 it a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown until they died.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd claimed CrazyBus, a "game" (actually a tech demo) with no enemies, no obstacles, only one screen, awful graphics for a Sega Genesis game, an atrocious soundtrack, and no goal or purpose whatsoever other than driving the bus forward and backward by holding the D-Pad left or right for eternity broke the 'shit scale' and somehow managed to outclass in awfulness the two other games he had reviewed that he originally claimed were the worst games ever made, "Desert Bus" and Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing.
- 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.
- Polish magazine CD-Action:
- 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.
- Electronic Gaming Monthly:
- 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 Brütal 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.
- Some Call Me Johnny 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.
- Each of the Downloadable Content map packs for New Super Mario Bros. 2 has a difficulty rating from one to five stars. The second hardest set, Nerve-Wrack Pack, is rated five stars. The hardest, the Impossible Pack, is rated "DANGER!"
- The website Game Revolution often rates the video games it reviews on a five-star scale (with 1 star being the lowest). The first (and so far only) game to earn a zero-star rating from them was the Wii U minigame compilation Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade, citing that every single aspect of the game, right down to the title, was horrible.
- When it comes to Pokémon's metagame, Pokémon are ranked on Smogon by tier from Uber to NU. However, Mega Rayquaza turned out to be so broken (in fact, the most broken Pokémon in the history of the franchise) that it actually got banned from Ubers and a new "tier" called Anything Goes had to be created just to house it! In short, Mega Rayquaza has in fact broke the metagame!
- Fire Emblem Awakening is another game to rate its DLC maps with a star system. One star is easy and five stars is difficult. The map known as Apotheosis forgoes this and is only described with but one word. "Insane".
- Jimquisition usually uses .5 decimals, but the review of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD broke this pattern by giving it, naturally, an 8.8.
- In Retropokon, Skapokon gave Bakushow (also known as LOL in the USA and Archime DS in Japan) a -1/10, and even refused to call it a "game".
- In his step-by-step reviews of every single pokemon, Bogleech typically reviews each pokemon on a scale of 'one to five pokeballs'. Some pokemon, however, such as Gloom or Paras among others, receive a rating of ' five gold pokeballs', while Gallade and Lucario earn a rating of 'rotting, rancid Lucario skull' out of five.
- NGamer gave the Nintendo DS game Secret Flirts II a score of -47, calling it "a hateful piece of software".
- Cucumber Quest uses video-game-styled profile pictures on the cast page that list the characters’ stats. Several of them break the rating scale.
- In Freefall, 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.
- One episode of Plumbing the Death Star ranks the original Super Smash Bros.'s cast's stepfathering ability on a scale of ten. Things start off pretty bad when the two Pokémon both get zeroes for being wild animals, but things get even worse with Donkey Kong, a wild ape who can't talk, and worse, comes with in-laws. He gets a negative ten out of ten.
- On Cinema: Tim has at times given films six bags of popcorn (the show's version of star ratings) despite claiming the highest rating is 5 bags of popcorn (although, there is sometimes inconsistency with what the highest rating is).
- 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.)
- On Atop the Fourth Wall, Linkara lists the "Top 15 Worst Comics I've Ever Reviewed." However, before he begins, he notes that Holy Terror, of course, is the worst comic he's reviewed, so he's taking that off the list just so that the #1 spot will be a surprise. Technically, this makes the list "Top 15 Worst Comics I've Ever Reviewed, Other than Holy Terror," but that wasn't as catchy.
- Double Toasted's rating system mostly corresponds to a five-star scale: "Better Than Sex", "Full Price", "Matinee", "Rental" and "Some Ol' Bullshit". Then there's "Fuck You" - reserved for the worst of the worst or a movie that pushed one of the hosts' Berserk Buttons.
- The crew of Wreckless Eating ordinarily rate the dishes they eat on a scale of one to five (insert reviewer's name) faces, but they've encountered so many awful foods that they've had to extend the scale downward. Anything they would only eat again if they were starving to death gets a Big F.U.; anything they still wouldn't touch if they were starving to death receives 5 out of 5 F.U.'s.
- 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.
- In the Gravity Falls short "Mabel's Guide to Dating", Soos somehow scores a twelve out of five on Mabel's dating quiz.
Soos: My grandma was right all along, I am the world's most perfect man!
- In one episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Jimmy and his friends somehow manage to win 8th place in a contest with only 7 entrants.
- In one episode of Johnny Bravo, Johnny and Suzy entered a competition that (thanks to Johnny) they got 18th place in, when there were only twelve contestants.
- 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.)
- Tesla's follow up, the Model S P85D, broke the Consumer Reports scale and earned a 103 out of 100.
- 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 Rialto also had the only "10" rating in the test, for "fuel efficiency". However, one wonders how meaningful that is, since a Fiat 126 is likely to have better fuel efficiency than a Vauxhall Cavalier.
- 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.
- The Dvorak Intensity Scale, used to measure hurricane intensity, maxes out at 8.0. Hurricane Patrica registered an 8.3
- After Swedish football defender Glenn Hysen pretty much single-handedly kept England from scoring in the away match during the qualifications for the 1990 World Cup, the newspaper Expressen rated his performance as six out of five. To this day, he's the only player to get that rating.
- Dark Bunny Sauces are rated from 0-10, with empty and filled-in pepper symbols demonstrating the heat rating on the bottle itself (0 depicts all peppers as empty, 10/10 shows them all filled). Bradley's Blood, Rabbit's Revenge, and Terrified Trashpanda (both versions) clock in at 11/10; the tenth pepper is depicted as bursting.
Meaningless Comparison (‘Final Score: 7 Bananas.’)
Anime and Manga
- 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 2½, he gives it 2½ stars and parenthetically explains, “What else?”
- 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 critic Anthony Fantano (theneedledrop) gave The Lonely Island’s Turtleneck and Chain 5 dicks out of 10.
- 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.”
- 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". Battlefield 3's review concluded with him reviewing the review video, claiming it's better than his FEAR review.
- Whenever ProJared does a review for an older game, he'll give it something like "a bucket of tears out of ten". This is to be more comprehensive than a simple score so he has good reason (as he'll always use it in a metaphorical way to express how he's feeling about the game, such as giving Chrono Trigger "a clock without hands out of ten", or "timeless"). When he reviews a current game he'll use a regular numerical rating. He also straddles the line with Meaningless Value as, in at least one case, he awarded a game a "F*** you out of 10" because it aggravated him so much (though he still stuck to his nominal metaphor-based assessment as well).
- The Tourettes Guy tried out a mattress at Sears, and only gave the comment "Triple H would shit his pants."
- Inverted by JesuOtaku. He normally scores things with some sort of strange unit out of 4 (e.g. Baccano! got “three and a half de-fingerings” and Princess Tutu got “four characters who just won’t do what they’re told”), but Now and Then, Here and There was so depressing he couldn’t bring himself to make fun of it and just used stars.
- ProtonJon: when he gives ratings to the romhacks he plays, he will usually let out a few of these, such as:
- In one of the Teen Girl Squad shorts on Homestar Runner, Cheerleader's attempt at diving into the mouth of a live lion is rated at “3 noses?”
- JonTron’s “Game Reviews???” frequently employs this; he has awarded Donkey Kong Country Returns “Six golden bananas plus out of Shigeru Miyamoto” and Sonic Colors an "A/5".
- In a filler video between 2 Let's Plays, Chip Cheezum did a parody review of Grand Theft Auto V (the video itself only consisting of one of the protagonists getting a bike stuck in his aunt's sofa for a few minutes). At the end the screen displayed "FINAL SCORE:" with a image of the poster for Citizen Kane as the score.
- Internet movie reviewer Jeremy Jahns normally rates movies with a descriptive statement, ranging from “Awesometacular!” (the best) and “It’s a good time, no alcohol required” (third best) to “Dogshit!” (the worst). He gave The Smurfs 2 “Smurfshit!” He also gave The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Fifty Shades of Grey a "Black screen of nothing" rating.
- The "ratings" the monsters from Monster Factory have received include a golf score, a batting average, a wanted level, a movie title, and a computer error.
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. Here's a list:
- Linebarrels of Iron got a "welp time to hang myself" out of 5.
- CLANNAD After Story got a "whatever it is you think the rating should be (of 5, but you can change that scale if you need to because it might be unfair)", supposedly to mock fan demand for "objective" reviews.
- 07-Ghost got a "whatever".
- Asura Cryin' got an emoticon of an angry smiley head banging itself against a wall... out of 5. The middle of the preview is adorned with a picture of a bunny and an invitation to move along.
- The first episode of Queen's Blade got an animated GIF of a smiley face shooting itself in the head out of 5.
- Fairy Tail got a "screw this".
- Seitokai no Ichizon got a "it doesn't matter". The review consisted entirely of a picture of a bucket of fish as a metaphor for the show, and another of seals as a metaphor for the intended audience.
- B Gata H Kei got a "spro-oi-oi-oingggg!! aoooooogggaaahh!".
- Kiss X Sis got a Picard facepalm instead of a rating. He also edited the screenshot used with many "NO's" and "WHY's".
- The Legend of the Legendary Heroes got a bored face.
- Strike Witches 2 got a "shrug?".
- Highschool of the Dead got a "who cares, zombies".
- 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.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica got a "whaaatever" for the story, but the art design got a 5.
- Astarotte's Toy got a "doesn't matter".
- R15 got a GIF of a smiley head holding a gun to itself.
- Mayo Chiki! got a "blergh".
- Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel got a "guh".
- Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai! got two ratings; the one fitting this reads "stay way, Red Line is out on bluray next week right?".
- Rinne no Lagrange got a "zzzzzzz".
- High School D×D got a "boobs".
- Mysterious Girlfriend X got some sort of music file for a rating. Considering the rest of the review, it's safe to say it's of this category.
- Upotte!! got a Big "WHAT?!" and Your Head Asplode picture in the middle of the review.
- Senran Kagura got "boobapalooza 2013" in lieu of a rating.
- Cuticle Detective Inaba got a "zilch".
- Il Sole penetra le illusioni got a "heavy, ragged sigh".
- Cross Ange got a 'nope nope nope nope nope' out of five.
- Over Lord got a "YOU'RE IN THE GAME!!" rating, pointing out how tired the "trapped in video game world" plot is.
- Jacob Hope Chapman aka JesuOtaku has become prone to these since he started working with ANN in preview guides, often for the same reasons as Bertschy.
- Oniichan No Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Ja Nai N Dakara Ne got a "GTFO" rating.
- The second season of Strike Witches was given a shrug.
- Hamatora received an "oh my god I don't care" out of 5.
- Cross Ange got a "worthless" rating.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- They gave Meow The Jewels, the joke remix album of Run The Jewels 2 a cat emoji. Since the emoji had heart-shaped Wingding Eyes, it was likely meant as a positive rating.
- 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.
- Angry Joe's review of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is both this and still within bounds. He wishes he could give the game Kevin Spacey out of 10 before lamenting that that isn't a score on his scale and just giving it a 6/10
- 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.”
- The highly divisive Shmup Space Giraffe received what The Other Wiki describes as an “unusual” rating of “Holy crap this is awesome hell yes/10” from a review on Angry Gamer.
- JonTron’s “Game 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.
- 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".
- In response to many publishers in the game industry abusing Metacritic and other review aggregate websites as a means of awarding "merit" based bonuses to developers, a lot of websites (Such as Kotaku, Ars Technica, and Joystiq) that review video games no longer give out a quantifiable score as an "Up yours" to the industry.
- In-Universe in Undertale. Checking Temmie reveals that, instead of having ATK and DEF scores, she's just "RATED TEM OUTTA TEM". The Mad Dummy also breaks the scale by having a DEF score of "YES".
- “Horribifuckus”, courtesy of The Nostalgia Critic.
- He also declared Batman & Robin (“A BAT-CREDIT CARD????!!!!!”) to be “Supercrapafuckerifficexpialibullshit.” In song.
- Out-of-character, Doug Walker said that “despise” is too little to describe his feelings for The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, and that the word for his hatred “probably doesn’t even exist”.
- Stuart Ashens guest Jon Blyth said “If you want me to give it a score, then I give Renegade III this noise: (back-of-throat gurglely screamy noise)”.
- Similarly, Stuart's final summary of a selection of games for the Game.Com "In conclusion: (jump cut to Stuart curled up in a corner, holding his face, screaming)"
- Furcadia has a seasonal contest for minigames (called Dreams), and one well-known creator—known as Graphite—experienced a variation of this (as his creations were contest entries, there were no ratings beyond First Place, Second Place, Third Place, etc.).
Graphite was sure his creation ColdFusion would win because his creation was so innovative and different—it was essentially a game of Atomica built on the Furcadia platform, and thus didn't resemble Furcadia at all.
Unfortunately, this meant the judges had no idea how to rank it, and so placed it in a category all its own. To quote Graphite, “This dream was in fact so innovative that the judges decided to create a special category for my dream alone in which I ended up getting first place, last place, and every place in-between.
The judges did agree that the dream was awesome, gave it a glowing review, and awarded Graphite handsomely for essentially taking DragonSpeak and Patching and creating something that didn’t resemble Furcadia at all in either appearance or gameplay. To quote from Felorin’s (one of Furcadias Moderators), “This dream is going to receive a special Puzzling, Mind-boggling, Patching and DragonSpeak Mastering Trickster award of Triwings for Life and a dozen Purple Roses. (Whew that’s a mouthful!)”
Sadly, every update made to Furcadia since then makes the dream less and less compatible.
- In Something Awful's ROM Pit, games are normally rated from zero to negative fifty. The game Werewolf: The Last Warrior, however, was simply rated “FUCK MEeeeeeee”.
- Kimi Sparkle (a parody of MLP Analysis videos, from one of the creators of Friendship is Witchcraft) normally rates episodes on a scale of one to five stars. When reviewing "Castle Mane-ia", she hates it so much that she wants to give it zero stars, but she can't because that would just be an empty screen. So she awards it one rock instead.
- In his review of 3, 2, 1, Smurf!, Caddicarus jokes that the game "was also one of the only games in the world that Official UK Playstation Magazine gave a "FUCK OFF AND DIE" out of ten". (They actually gave it a 1/10.)
- Caddicarus himself sometimes employs the "out of bounds" method, as one of his gimmicks is whether he "slaughters" the game for being bad, or "salvages" it for being good. On occasion, the game has been in-between, thus getting a "slauvage".
Impossible to Rate (‘What.’)
Anime and Manga
- Rage Reviews (a review group on Fimfiction.Net) normally grades fanfics on a scale of 0% to 100% Rage. For stories that exist on a completely different axis, they have a few other scores: "??%" for stories that are too confusing to inspire rage, "MEH" for stories that are too boring to get angry over, and "SAD" for stories that just make the reviewer feel sorry for the author.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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."
- 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.”)
- It also gave a DS entry in the Cabela hunting series ":(" and Mizuiro Blood "???".
- 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.
- Post-revival, when reviewing Slender, TOM couldn’t decide what score to give it due to his utter terror (though he did like it).
- 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.
- When it came to the Pokémon Metagame on Smogon, during the fifth Generation, Zen Mode Darmanitan ended up the only Pokémon never to leave the Limbo tier due to the fact that it doesn't enter its Zen Mode unless its HP was at half or less, thus they couldn't figure out its usability. In the sixth Generation, however, they now list Zen Mode Darmanitan in UU (the same as normal Darmanitan).
- The aforementioned Dark Bunny sauces also has Bunny's Garden 2016, with a heat rating of ?/10.
Refusal to Rate (‘Reviews don't apply here.’)
- 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).
- On Atop the Fourth Wall, Linkara has a video of "Top 15 Comics I'll Never Review." He has various reasons—some viewer suggestions he actually likes, he won't review porn, etc.—but some, like One More Day, fall into the category of rage-inducingly bad. He eventually did it anyway.
- 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.
- In his review of The Human Centipede, which he disclaimed as not being "so much a review as a public service announcement," he was more explicit in his refusal:
- He refused to give a star rating to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls not for quality or content reasons, but because Ebert wrote the screenplay and could not be objective.
- 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”.
- A more straightforward example: The film Roar (Tippi Hedren, her family, and several dozen untrained lions) got a "?!?!?!". As the review explained: "What makes Roar such astonishing viewing— and what ultimately forced me to invent a brand new rating just for it— is the stark divergence between the movie that Marshall and Hedren set out to shoot and the one that actually emerged from their efforts. What was supposed to be a treacly, Disneyish family adventure flick, with an uplifting moral about humans living in harmony with nature, came out instead as the most authentically terrifying animal attack picture I’ve ever seen."
- 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.
- Unshaved Mouse's review of Saving Mr. Banks ends with him withholding a score to the "piece of corporate propaganda".
- Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has a grade of "DNF", for books they Did Not Finish.
- ARamone, 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- This review of the Massive Multiplayer Crossover single "Forever Country", gives an N/A out of N/A rating because "Boiled down, 'Forever Country' is just an infomercial for the upcoming 50th Annual CMA Awards. The Country Music Association co-opted cheap or free celebrity talent for the project, and then put a silly video together."
- Deconstructed and Played for Drama for Drowned In Sound's review of Mount Eerie's "A Crow Looked At Me". The justification is that it's such a personal album, about the death of Phil Elverum's wife, that even giving a score feels rude and disingenuous.
- 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).
- 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. 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’s “100% objective review” of Final Fantasy XIII. The "review" consists of Sterling rattling off things about the game that are technically true, but give no opinion on the actual content, such as "Final Fantasy XIII is a video game." It was made as a Take That! to people who attacked negative reviews for not being "objective." Sterling would later say that a review is, by its nature, the reviewer's opinion, declaring the complaints meaningless.
- 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 ProJared 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.
- In Some Call Me Johnny, Johnny chose not to give Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing a score.
Johnny: We're not going to give it a score, it doesn't deserve one.
- Polygon's "review" for Star Fox Zero has their reviewer being so aggravated with the game that he not only refused to complete it (thus not giving it a score), but also insisted that he hadn't actually made a review of the game.
This isn't a review of Star Fox Zero. Save for very rare, extreme circumstances, Polygon reviews require that a game be completed, or at least a good-faith effort be made to complete it. I am not playing any more Star Fox Zero.
- Jonathan Wojcik's Pokemon reviews are generally given some sort of rating (see elsewhere on this page for when he gave some pokemon a 'six out of five' or a 'moldy, festering Lucario skull out of five') but when he reached Goodra, he found that his feelings were too split (by his love of what the pokemon represents but also his desire for what Goomy and Sliggoo seemed to be leading up tonote ) to give it a good or a bad rating, but also too strong to give it a neutral one.
For the first time, I'm not going to rate a pokemon at all. I don't want to give Goodra a "bad" rating, because at the end of the day it's still a dragon type slug with green slime dribbling off it, but neither can I bring myself to give it a good one. Not after a betrayal this unspeakable.
- 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".
- Much like the Drowned In Sound example above, Mark Grondin from Spectrum Pulse refused to give Mount Eerie's "A Crow Looked At Me" a rating for similar reasons (it was a too raw and personal record for him to give it a score).
- Beavis And Butthead:
- They usually commented on music videos, but in two cases (Milli Vanilli and Vanilla Ice), they just stared in silent horror for a while before changing the channel.
- A positive variation occurred when they spent an entire Ramones video headbanging.
- Another video was so dull and clichéd they simply turned the TV off. The home viewers’ screen was also black, with no commentary, for the rest of the video-watching segment.