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Literature / Guinness World Records

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"Dedication. Dedication. Dedication!
That's what you need!
If you wanna be the best, and you wanna beat the rest,
Oo-ooh! Dedication's what you need."
Roy Castle, closing theme to Roy Castle's Record Breakers

A series of books consisting of various world records for everything. And by everything, we mean everything. If you ever thought of a record that is physically possible, chances are that the book has it. The lists include things from the mundane to the most outrageous, and from some famous celebrity doing what they usually do to some obscure person doing outrageous stuff and obviously trying to get that record.

Started when some British guy who managed a Guinness brewery had an argument about which game bird is the fastest, the record books have become a sort of Cash-Cow Franchise with editions published every year, and are considered the primary authority on the subject of world records.

These inspired a BBC television show, Roy Castle's Record Breakers (after Castle's death, just Record Breakers) which began in 1972 and ran for nearly thirty years. This was the first of what The Other Wiki lists as twenty-two Guinness Book of Records - franchised shows around the world. The Guinness World Records franchise has its base in London, with the museums franchise operated from Orlando, Florida.

A number of stunts for which awards were given in the past have since been disallowed for any new attempts - especially those involving excessive eating or drinking - because some of them are considered too dangerous when done to the excessive level some people take them to.

The world's biggest tropes:

  • Chain Letter: Specifically forbidden from counting in any records, presumably to keep people from being overwhelmed by spammers.
  • Girls with Moustaches: Guinness recognizes "longest beard on a person ever (female)" and "longest beard on a living person (female)".
  • Guinness Episode: Trope Maker and Trope Namer.
  • Hey, Let's Put on a Show: A lot of records these days, especially ones involving large groups of people, are specifically organized as events to raise money for charity or awareness for special causes.
  • Impractical Musical Instrument Skills: After being challenged by the YouTube channel TwoSet Violin, Guinness retired the category for "Fastest Violin Player", admitting they didn't have a way to measure important musical things like accuracy, clarity, and articulation.
  • It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: Basically the whole point.
  • Little Known Facts: The book was originally created to avert these by having a documented source to settle those offbeat bar bets.
  • Medal of Dishonor: While all the records are remarkable, not all of them are for achievements the honoree would be proud of. Presumably no one is glad about the record for "worst nuclear reactor disaster", for example. And we can't imagine the record holder for "largest kidney stone" was very thrilled about that, either.
    • Evel Knievel, famed daredevil of The '70s, is listed for "most bones broken in a lifetime" (433). Since there are only 206 bones in the human body, Evel had to have broken several of them multiple times.
    • Jonathan Lee Riches won the World Record for "most lawsuits" by filing hundreds of Frivolous Lawsuits from prison. Sure enough, he promptly sued the Guinness Book of World Records to the surprise of absolutely no one.
  • Meek Mesozoic Mammal: The page-spread about dinosaurs in the 2011 edition mentions that 115 million years ago, the number of mammal species was increasing, but their size was restricted due to the dominance of dinosaurs.
  • The Olympics: A common source of athletic records, for obvious reasons.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: It's actually pretty easy to get a Guinness World Record these days, you just need the imagination to come up with a category narrow enough that you won't have much competition. You're probably never going to hold the world record for the 10,000m, but the world record for doing the 10,000m on all fours while dressed as a postbox? That's much more easily achievable.
  • Proud to Be a Geek: Records related to gaming, cosplay, the internet, and other nerdy pursuits have their own spinoff book: Guinness World Records: Gamers' Edition.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Guinness World Records is the world's most sold copyrighted book, which means the book itself is a world record.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Some of the Overly Narrow Superlative records tend to come off this way compared to more obvious ones. World's strongest man? Awesome. World's fastest woman? Amazing. World's greatest number of times gone around on a carousel? … How nice for you.
  • World's Strongest Man: A hotly contested category, with many competitions around the world for the title. Rather than picking one individual, different feats of strength merit their own record categories, from obvious ones such as most weight deadlifted or bench pressed, to more esoteric ones such as most vehicles pulled over 100 feet.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Nope, you will not find her in the record book, because the committee does not accept categories based on subjective and nonmeasurable parameters like beauty or goodness of character.

Tropes to beat on television shows derived from or based on the Book:

  • Expository Theme Tune: the opening song, performed by Roy Castle, that kicked off every edition of Record Breakers. And its closing theme song Dedication, about the quality you need to be a Record Breaker.
  • Film of the Book: The Guinness Book of Records became a long-running BBC TV show, Roy Castle's Record Breakers. Aimed at children, it was also popular with adults, and every edition featured at least one record-breaking attempt, usually supervised by one or both McWhirter brothers. After Castle's own early death, other presenters took the show over and it ran for over twenty years.
  • It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: Again, basically the whole point.


Erin Honeycutt

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Main / GirlsWithMoustaches

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