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Serial Escalation: Western Animation
  • In Dan Vs., who's Dan going to destroy this time? How far will he go? How much pain can Chris be put through? Is Dan's Imposter coming back? And how villainous can the things Dan's fighting actually be? Seriously, the first season alone has Dan swearing vengeance against New Mexico, Canada, George Washington, etc. At some point, even the most mundane titles have you on the edge of your seat. Like "Reality TV". Or "The Boss". Or "The Telemarketer" (especially the Telemarketer).
  • The Running Gag in Archer with Brett getting shot. The most recent case involved multiple ricochets and the bullet going down a flight of stairs before hitting him.
  • Megas XLR should be called "Serial Escalation: The Series." How strange will the buttons and weapons get? How badly will they backfire? How much can Coop eat? How badly will the world get screwed over as a result of the hero's actions?
  • Regular Show: How angry can Mordecai & Rigby make Benson? How bizarre can the adventures get? How will J.G. Quintel and company make the censors cry this time?
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold. How much more awesome can The Bat get? What gadgets does have have this time? Did the Batmobile just turn into a Humongous Mecha?
  • Someone tell us that there is no challenge between the writers to make Quagmire from Family Guy progressively squickier in his sex mania.
    • Speaking of Family Guy, how huge are those fights with the giant chicken? The most recent one involves time travel, cloning and a space shuttle, among other things.
  • In some episodes of The Simpsons, Homer's Amusing Injuries are rendered this very way.
    • One episode has Homer coming home with a truck and claiming that it Fell Off the Back of a Truck; A "truck-truck". Cue Bart driving up with a truck-truck, claiming it fell off of a truck-truck...truck. Cue Maggie driving up in a truck-truck-truck...
  • South Park is essentially fueled by this trope. Now ''you'' can ride like Mr. Garrison! [1]
    • Over the course of "The Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka", In-Universe Executive Meddling slowly turns the Show Within a Show Jesus & Pals from a down-to-earth, family-friendly public access show into a Jerry Springer-esque trainwreck.
    • Cartman's Self-Serving Memory in "Fishsticks" results in his flashbacks becoming more and more outrageous, from being calling "handsome and not at all fat" to slaying a dragon and even fighting a robot army as an Expy of the Human Torch.
    • And in the early seasons, Sheila's over-the-top protests, ranging from mass suicides outside of a network studio to throwing a parade for a lady with a conjoined fetus. They seemed to have stopped after the war with Canada.
    • In "Death" the boys ask various people about their thoughts on assisted suicide. When they ask Mr. Garrison, he says he's "not touching that one with a twenty-foot pole" and with each person they ask, the figurative pole grows another twenty feet.
  • How much more brutal can Metalocalypse get?
    • Blacker than the blackest black times infinity?
    • And what line will Doctor Rockzo cross next to get more cocaine?
    • Not to mention the size of the Tribunal's meeting room.
  • Similarly, Moral Orel went from being a dark comedy mocking religion to a flat-out depressing dramedy over the course of 3 seasons...and fans loved it, despite that [adult swim] regretted telling the show creator to amp up the dark humor.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender does this with its titular bending. Katara, for instance, goes from requiring a water pouch at all times, to bending her sweat, to bending the water in her opponent's bodies.
    • Justified in that the characters all spend massive amounts of time in training. Ability escalation is to be expected when you work hard and practice constantly.
    • With each passing season, the series basically does this with the powers of every major character.
  • The sequel series, The Legend of Korra, has this with Lin Beifong. In just about every episode she is in, she continues to be more badass. From swinging on her metal cables in the Pro-bending stadium to save Korra in Episode 6, to outright tearing apart a Mini-Mecha on her own in Episode 7, and then being an outright One Woman Army and saving her men from an Equalist base in Episode 9.
  • Invader Zim loves this trope. Some of the best examples? There's Zim flooding an entire city because Dib hit him with a water balloon, there's Dib hacking into advanced Irken machinery from his laptop, there's GIR knocking Dib through a brick wall with a projectile sandwich... It just goes on.
    • He didn't just flood the city. He used Irken space-based technology to vaccuum ALL THE WATER ON EARTH INTO ONE WATER BALLOON and deploy it from SPACE onto Dib. He flooded EVERYTHING ON THIS SIDE OF THE PLANET.
    • Not to mention all the catastrophes that Zim's caused: killing two previous Tallests, destroying several planets on his own, creating every kind of horrible, twisted monstrosity imaginable and starting a massive power failure when he was two minutes old. Also, most of that was unintentional.
      • He put the fires out!
      • He made them worse!
      • Worse? Or better?
      • He piloted a goddamn planet. In a duel against Dib.
  • Yellow Submarine: How psychedelic can we make it? Very, very psychedelic. It's all in the mind, y'know.
  • Time Squad: It's like the writers sat down during the pitch meetings for season two and said, "Guys, let's ramp up all those gay jokes we had about the Larry 3000 to the point that people will wonder if this show is supposed to be on [adult swim]note . Heck, let's throw in some jokes featuring Otto being abused and neglected as wellnote . Cartoon Network is probably going to cancel us, so if we're going to go out, let's go out with a freakin' bang!"
    • The episode "Every Poe Has a Silver Lining" had Edgar Allen Poe is completely cheerful and oblivious to all things dark and gloomy and Time Squad makes the guy have a complete mental breakdown — until they criticize his cake.
    • The Ho Yay centered on Larry went from being barely noticeable in season one to being a character trait in season two. The Ho Yay count kept on rolling into Refuge in Audacity territory, with Larry and his feelings for Tuddrussel being the prime target. The idea escalates to the season two episode "Ex Marks The Spot", where Larry acts like a jealous housewife and tries to sabotage Tuddrussel's and his ex-wife Sheila's dinner after seeing them act rather unusually cool towards each other. When found out, and Tuddrussel casually laughs it off, Larry bitterly tells him he's sleeping on the sofa.
      • "Day of the Larrys" was another season two episode that seemed to exist as a challenge to the writers to pack as many gay references as possible before the censors catch on. Maybe they did ask Dave Wasson (Time Squad show creator) to tone down some parts, but that episode got away with a gay cowboy Larry opening hitting on Tuddrussell in front of Otto at a gay disco (that looks like the one from the Simpsons episode "Homer's Phobia"), so, unless Dave Wasson reveals behind-the-scenes secrets either in a podcast or on a documentary, there's no way of knowing what the sacrificed scenes were.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has Fluttershy who can stare down a cockatrice and then a dragon.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants invoked this when Mr. Krabs crossed the Moral Event Horizon. Eventually the writers stopped at "The Cent of Money".

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