Readings Blew Up the Scale

Excessive power levels may void warranty; scout carefully.

Someone has a meter that breaks down or explodes when the readings are too high for it to handle. No, it's not when it's measuring something that could reasonably destroy the scale, like measuring greater extreme heat than a thermometer can withstand. This is when the extreme amount of the readings themselves cause the destruction.

How is that possible? Chalk it up to Rule of Cool or Rule of Funny.

A Sub-Trope of both Readings Are Off the Scale and Explosive Instrumentation.

Compare Awesomeness Is Volatile.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z: If scouters aren't getting broken, they're blowing up while their owners are still wearing them. No wonder they got phased out of the series.
    • After Bulma jury-rigged Raditz's scouter, Goku's Dangerous Forbidden Technique made it explode from across the planet.
    • Vegeta's power level in the Namek arc broke at least two scouters — the first time, Zarbon's scouter blew up when he killed Cui, and Frieza's new scouter exploded when Vegeta proved he could actually go toe-to-toe with him (at least until Frieza transformed).
    • A filler scene later on showed that SSJ Goku and final-form Frieza could blow up computers in different solar systems, implicitly killing the random superpowered mooks watching them.
    • In the OVA where Vegeta's brother Tarble showed up, Goku demonstrated his scouter was obsolete by casually making it explode in this manner.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the title mech literally eating a Big Bang safely spoon-fed by Lordgenome causes the power gauge to shatter and then keep going outside the monitor. Keep in mind, this power gauge was designed in a universe where the Rule of Cool is scientifically acknowledged, to measure power levels that are known to routinely go off charts. The monitor blew up anyway.
  • The Phobos computers in the Darkstalkers OVA do this when reading Donovan's power (at the same time that Donovan is unleashing a very powerful attack on the Phobos).
  • YuYu Hakusho: In the Three Kings arc, a group of Raizen's old training buddies come out of seclusion to pay their respects and join the new tournament. They collectively flex their power to "see if they've still got it" and Yomi's advisor's energy-reading device goes off the scale before it explodes. Miles away from the energy source.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Fantastic Four, Reed and Sue's son Franklin is a Mutant with Goo Goo Godlike potential. So Reed tasked a robot "playmate", H.E.R.B.I.E., to monitor for any manifestations of Franklin's powers. The first time Franklin really begins to start pouring out psionic energy, H.E.R.B.I.E. issues a few futile warnings before overloading and exploding.
  • In Joe Bar Team, the main characters destroy numerous radar speed gun radars with their motorbikes using this very trope.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Calvin and Hobbes strip has an Imagine Spot where Calvin's dad lets him drive, and instead the car starts flying.
    Dad: How fast are we going?
    Calvin: Can't say. We broke the speedometer.
  • In a Peanuts strip, Snoopy adds the number of pizzas he and Woodstock ate before midnight to the number of pizzas they ate after midnight. The result blew Snoopy's pocket calculator.
  • In a Garfield strip:
    Jon: From now on, I'm keeping track of the calories you take in!
    Jon: My calculator blew up.

  • Seen a fair few times in the Troperiffic Discworld series.
    • In Moving Pictures, a resograph (a device designed to measure changes in the nature of reality) starts going haywire thanks to the influence of the filmmakers in Holy Wood. Eventually, the showing of an Epic Movie about the Ankh-Morpork Civil War causes a rift in reality big enough to allow a Thing from the Dungeon Dimensions to escape onto the Discworld, which makes the resograph explode violently.
    • In The Last Continent, Ponder Stibbons' magic-measuring thaumometer melts when the magic field used to create the Last Continent exceeds its limit of one million thaums.
      • Subverted when Ridcully licks his thumb, holds it up, observes the octarine spark and comments that, yes, that looks about right.
  • In Children of the Lens, the last physical battle of the series involves a faster-than-light planet hitting a star.
    Finally it happened. What happened? Even after the fact none of the observers knew. The fuses of all the recorder and analyzer circuits blew at once. Needles jumped instantly to maximum and wrapped themselves around their stops. Charts and ultraphotographic films showed only straight or curved lines running from the origin to and through the limits in zero time.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Stargate SG-1 episode "Upgrades", SG-1 is wearing armbands that increase their physical capabilities. The Tok'ra who discovered them has O'Neill squeeze a grip-strength-measuring thingy. After the armband reaches full power, O'Neill actually crushes the strength sensor.
  • In one episode of Gilligan's Island, Gilligan was playing with a lie detector that had been used earlier. When Mary Ann asked him if he took the coconut cream pie she made and he said no, the lie detector blew up.
    Gilligan: Well, it was delicious.

    New Media 
  • On Fundies Say the Darndest Things, a common response to an ironic statement made by one of the fundies whose statements have been quoted is that it has "destroyed my irony meter."
    • This originated on the Usenet group alt.atheism, back in the 1990s: an irony meter was never mentioned except in the context of its (usually spectacular) failure:
    "Every irony meter on the planet just exploded."
    "My irony meter has melted a hole in the ground and is putting up plumes of radioactive fallout."
    "I spent extra to get a heavy duty, auto-ranging industrial irony meter, with the 4th generation titanium filter and laser readout and everything, less than a year ago. Pfft, it's toast. First time I've had to use a fire extinguisher of a piece of smoking electronics."
    "OK, Mark, you now owe me a new Myth 6 (model 66) Irony-O-Meter. It was not even a week old and it blew up like Krakatoa."
    "And apparently this one has infinite irony, because my irony meter is still going. You are going to have to make your own guys, it isn't patented or anything, and i just made it out of spare parts: mostly my old ironymeter, a clock and one of those stroke counters some people use in golf."
    • At one point, a meter designed to measure "nigh absurd amounts of irony" overloaded so much that it blew up straight through the roof, into space, and impacted Venus so hard it caused the planet to undergo nuclear fusion and turn into a miniature sun.

  • In Finians Rainbow, the geologists claim to have discovered gold in Rainbow Valley in such enormous concentration that it broke the needle of their meter.

    Video Games 
  • The opening trailer of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 shows Lili watching a tournament fight with her hi-class viewing glasses. She then notices Jun Kazama near the exit and tries to zoom in on her, only for Lili's glasses to explode (minor one).

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of My Little Pony Tales features a band talent show with a scale that measured how good the performance was. When the heroes performed their song, the scale hit the roof and blew up.
  • On Phineas and Ferb, Phineas is trying to track a cute little alien, so he built a cute-meter. Later he mentioned that he filtered Isabella's cuteness and when he turned the safety off, the cute-meter blew up.
  • The Simpsons
    • Professor Frink invented a sarcasm detector in "They Saved Lisa's Brain", which of course explodes in the presence of the Comic Book Guy's overwhelming sarcasm.
      CBG: Ooh, a sarcasm detector. That's a real useful invention. (boom)
    • In another episode, Homer is being interrogated by Agent Scully while hooked up to a lie detector. He didn't understand.
  • An episode of Mummy Nanny shows an old collector piece radar that can't handle flashing anyone above 203 km/h (that's 126 mph). But it's in town, so it's safe, right?
  • The Tom and Jerry short "Polka-Dot Puss" has Jerry trying to convince Tom he's sick. He sticks an old-fashion ambient thermometer in his mouth and flicks a lighter on under it. It quickly goes to maximum, then the glass tube expands at the end and then blows all the pressure with a whistle.
    • In "Down and Outing", Jerry presses down on the car's gas pedal, and the car ends up going so fast that the speedometer breaks.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: Egon's PKE Meter often caught readings intense enough to make the thing overheat and/or explode.