Nigel Tufnel: What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?Often, some people have the need to top things. It could be because of dissatisfaction with something, a need to best someone else (often known as "Keeping up with the Joneses"), or some other reason. Either way, you would like to take something, and push it beyond what's been done before. Unfortunately, things like time, money, technology, and/or other factors will only allow that so far. So you just end up topping the last thing by a small amount. So you've been forced to leave room for your own thing to be topped later on. Then you top that new thing, this can lead to an all-out "topping" war. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on the circumstances. Exactly what is topped can vary. It could be a commercial product (like computer and gaming tech), an architectural feat, a world record, or something else. Whatever thing, this trope is taking the highest bar set, and taking that "Up to Eleven". For those who aren't into guitar (electric guitar specifically), the phrase "Taking it up to eleven" is a reference to the volume setting on a guitar amplifier; the maximum setting on most (especially older) amps is 10, however newer amps (most often Marshalls) with the "11" option (which is beyond loud, believe us on that one) came out, and you can even take the volume higher with gain/equalizer settings on distortion boxes. More recently volume eleven has become partially obsolete as many Marshall amplifiers sport 0-20 volume knobs, essentially taking the trope itself Up To Eleven. Conspicuous Consumption and Absurdly High-Stakes Game often involves this. Not to be confused with Beyond the Impossible, which is beyond what should be possible according to the internal logic of a story. This trope is more likely to be a competition between two or more groups or one group against itself, where one group goes beyond what is considered the limit but still possible. Compare Serial Escalation, Sequel Escalation, Tim Taylor Technology, Exaggerated Trope, The Same but More, Comical Overreacting, Rank Inflation, Loud of War, Readings Are Off the Scale, Loudness War, or Lensman Arms Race.
Marty DiBergi: Put [the volume] up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
open/close all folders