Serial Escalation / Web Original

  • This is the driving force of the "Prank War" between Streeter Seidell and Amir Blumenfeld of The "pranks" started out as relatively harmless - Streeter replaced the audio on a song Amir was listing to with audio from a sextape, and Amir set Streeter up on a fake date with a fake girl. But things changed with the third prank, where Amir submitted an embarrassing audition tape to a fake company for a network pilot that Streeter then played for the office, and it became an unwritten rule that the pranks had to be public. Amir pranked Streeter by convincing an audience at Upright Citizens Brigade not to laugh at any of his jokes, and Streeter responded by setting Amir up in a fake sketch with Human Giant, wherein they would insult his acting and eventually remove him from the sketch. Once he found out, Amir took it fairly well, but when he was informed that the sketch itself was not real and they had flown to LA for nothing, he was almost driven to tears, and things got personal. The next prank was the infamous Yankee Stadium prank, in which Amir arranged for a fake Jumbo Tron proposal from Streeter to his girlfriend Sharon. She accepted, but when he told her he didn't set it up, she slapped him, and they apparently broke up. While the pranks, admittedly haven't been that severe since then, they're still pretty bad: Streeter convinced Amir that he won a half million dollars with a rigged half-court basketball shot, and Amir convinced Streeter that he was going to die when he went skydiving and the parachute wouldn't open. It remains to be seen whether things will get worse from here, or if the War is over.
  • The Mystery Sphere: How apathetic can Ryney be? How intelligent can the magical bears riding velociraptors be? How long can this series keep having a coherent plot in spite of those things?
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd.
    • Many things, but mostly: how many times can he cram the word fuck into a 15-minute video? Also, how bad will the next game to be reviewed suck? How pissed off can he get? How many creative ways to destroy games can he come up with?
    • His analysis on why Lester the Unlikely never got a sequel.
      I can imagine what Lester the Unlikely 2 would've been like. The game starts... and you couldn't even move; all that happens, Lester pulls down his pants, sucks his thumb, and takes a shit. The third game, you couldn't even get past the title screen; all that happens, you push Start, and Lester falls down and farts. The fourth game doesn't even work at all; you just put it in your Super Nintendo, and it explodes. The fifth game isn't even a game, it's just a bag of shit that says Lester the Unlikely 5 on it. And there's a new one coming up on the PS4 using the latest state of the art technology of constructing the disc out of orangutan diarrhea. It just turned out that was the only way, and it really gives Blu-Ray a run for its money.
  • The goal of My Opinions on Every Pokémon Ever is to write opinions about every single Pokémon that stretch several paragraphs.
  • How long can two people on Livejournal stretch "some people find improper grammar sexy" and continue coming up with things like "No gerunds before marriage. I'm still a lady"?
  • This video of "Top 60 Ghetto Names". You may have to pause on "Watermelondrea" due to intensive laughter. The last one is... Courtney.
  • Britanick sketches. Each sketch generally starting off somewhere normal and increasing in absurdity until reality collapses. This sketch distills the concept into two people talking - Brian wants to know what a particular line from Twelfth Night is, and Nick's incorrect answers go from "wrong part of the play" to "wrong play" to "wrong author" to 'frying pan' all the way up to quoting a section of a suicide note penned by Brian's dead ex-girlfriend.
  • How many pop culture references can you cramp together in a single joke? Azumanga Cowbell Hero [1]
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: How much more of an offensive, jerkass-ish douchebag of an asshole can Captain Hammer be? Even worse. During the filming, Nathan Fillion was told for the first time in his life this line:
    "You are not cheesy enough."
  • Welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall... and yes, Virginia, there IS a "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" comic.
  • How incredibly esoteric, obscure a character can Akinator guess next?
  • Just how unprepared can Mark be?
  • Epic Meal Time boils down to this trope applied to food. To wit: their early endeavour of putting five different kinds of bird meat in a pig, and a few episodes later they broke the 100,000-calorie barrier.
  • Warriors Of Genesis: Everyone in this whacked-out world is a fan of this trope, it actually makes the viewers remember something else.
  • The That Guy with the Glasses anniversary specials have tried to top each other every year. The first was just a short 20 minute brawl in a random Chicago building and the draw was that most of the contributors (And AVGN and Kyle Justin) all flew to Chicago to be in the same room at the same time. The 2nd Kickassia, was about an hour or so, had a decent plot and was set in more than one location and had multiple costumes, but was still fairly cheaply done mostly focused on the Critic, and was a "Shaggy Dog" Story in that nothing really changed. The 3rd Suburban Knights was a longer slightly more epic tale, with a slightly bigger cast with 2 ongoing plots, and some drama and consequences that lasted in the following year and leading into the 4th film To Boldly Flee an over 3 hour long epic tale with multiple story arcs, even more site regulars appearing, it's own original musical number, impressive film level special effects, and ending with several characters killed off and the universe of TGWTG changing forever. Its been mentioned that following anniversary specials will NOT attempt to top To Boldly Flee (at least not anytime soon), and will be closer to the earlier specials in terms of complexity.
  • The Nostalgia Critic: How bad can the currently-reviewed movie get, and how badly will it break the titular Critic next?
  • In Worm, the antagonists that Taylor, our protagonist, faces go from bullies at her school to local gang leaders to city-killing monstrosities ... and worse.
  • The Impossible Man: First chapter we are introduced to The Impossible Man teleporting himself without understanding it, by the end of the book, we see how his power truly works without understanding it.
  • The SCP Foundation used to have three object class: Safe (can be safely contained), Euclid (possibly dangerous; most living beings are Euclid), and Keter (tries to bring The End of the World as We Know It). Then we were introduced to Thaumiel SCPs, which are completely beneficial and geared towards the preservation of the planet; for that reason, they are protected with a level of secrecy and security even beyond many Keter SCPs. After that, an SCP obtained the Apollyon class, which means that not only it's capable of Keter-level destruction, it will eventually escape containment and the Foundation is incapable to prevent or stop it.
  • Destroy the Godmodder:
    • This trope is one of the founding mechanics of how the game is played, despite attempts of the GMs to stop, or at least slow it. Look at the beginning of any thread, then look at the end of it, and it will have scaled way up.
    • Destroy the Godmodder went from being just a battle with the Godmodder in the first game, to a complex plot involving Homestuck and a lot of world building.
    • Every game also has internal Serial Escalation. In the beginning, the game mostly involves insta-summons and attacks against the Godmodder. By the end, the battlefield is swarming with entities and whittling down the Godmodder's last Hit Points takes as long as massively cutting them down during the start.
  • That's Offensive is a short video about three young men playing poker who keep accidentally offending one another. At first the offensive things are fairly reasonable and common things to be offended over (such as casual use of the derogatory word "retarded"), however their reactions and the things they get offended over quickly escalate, getting to the point where they yell at one another because someone said "feel" or "gramatically".
  • The LoadingReadyRun skit "Hot and Saucy" does this with a hot sauce salesman forced to offer increasingly ludicrous hot sauces, to the point that they're quickly lethal, and eventually sells the one that will kill everyone on the planet if consumed.
    Salesman: Alright. Here is Temporal Patricide. It's not as hot as Clyde's, but when you eat it, it goes back in time and kills your father.
  • The "[X work] theme but with every Y replaced with Z" trend works like this. The things the lyrics are replaced by become increasingly absurd until sometimes the resulting videos go on for several minutes or hours.
  • Rock, Paper, Anything zigzags this. Usually, there will be a stream of increasingly complicated objects...which is countered by an absolutely mundane object, and the cycle starts anew.
  • American Football gets this treatment in 17776, partly as a result of human immortality. Playing fields can now encompass entire states, games can take decades to finish, and one player is depicted using an EF-5 tornado to gain competitive advantage.
  • The Music Video Show has went into this in season four with its Black Comedy slowly increasing as the season goes on. Several episodes contain instances of Domestic Abuse. How dark can it get? One episode has child abuse and child suicide. And then in another episode, there is not only a child death but also a puppy dying in a vehicle. How much black comedy will be inserted into each episode?
    • How will women and children be abused THIS time?
  • The Last Podcast on the Left has discussed this with both serial killers and cult leaders:
    • They observe multiple times during a heavy hitter series when a serial killer has to go further and further with their crimes. Often the first murder is accidental. From there, they begin killing on purpose to replicate the high they got off the first death, and have to do a little bit more each time to keep the feeling alive. This eventually culminates in a "berserker mode" for many if not caught in time, as was the case for Ted Bundy and his attack on a Florida sorority house.
    • Cult leaders have to escalate their claims to keep their followers. Whatever the cult starts with, as time goes on those claims become normalized and the cult becomes less focused. The leader, therefore, has to escalate his proclamations to keep everyone hooked on the cult and not thinking too much about anything else. Aum Shinrikyo went from a cult predicting the exact date of doomsday to actively taking steps to bring said apocalypse about themselves.