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Beyond the Impossible

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"Go beyond the impossible and kick reason to the curb! That's how Team Gurren rolls!"

"That's impossible!"

No, no it's not. This trope is for actions and events that defy the limits set within a series. In Real Life they just wouldn't work, but the rules of fiction (i.e., whatever the author laid down when constructing it) are somewhat... looser. Someone who, for instance, gains the power to fly when no one else can is not this trope; that is Applied Phlebotinum or Functional Magic or some other trope defining the character's power. Like Reality Unless Otherwise Noted is a good thing to keep in mind when adding examples; aspects of the fictional reality not covered by the author's rules are covered by real life. For the example to count it has to be impossible according to the internal logic of the story.

In short, whenever someone "touches the untouchable" or "breaks the unbreakable"note , they are going Beyond the Impossible.

This could be done by the Idiot Hero, who doesn't know the rules. Thus, going beyond the impossible can be Achievements in Ignorance. Just as easily, it could be a calculated endeavor by Awesome by Analysis trying to break the rules. These are just examples, there could be others. Often times, one will cry out How Is That Even Possible? after seeing such a thing.

If you're looking for the old definition, "a series tops itself over and over," go to Serial Escalation.

This trope is about events, not the characters involved in them. Do not confuse with Rule of Cool (where the Willing Suspension of Disbelief is stretched because the example is cool), nor badass, which has a multitude of meanings.

For someone who fails at something in an extreme way, see Epic Fail. If someone scores a 12 out of 10 or a negative score or anything like that then you'll want Broke the Rating Scale or F--.

Compare the various Screw This Index, I Have Tropes, which are more about breaking social rules than physical ones.

A violation of Internal Consistency and will not exist in stories with Negative Continuity because a story needs strong internal consistency and continuity in order for either to be broken. Wrong Context Magic is a subtrope where characters pull out magic abilities that don't fit into the local rules. Contrast Magic A Is Magic A, when even supernatural elements have rules that cannot be broken.

Named for one translation (of many) of one of Kamina's (many, many) Catch Phrases from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

In-Universe Examples Only

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    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield ate a pizza before it arrived. He has "friends high up in the delivery business".
  • Foxtrot,
    • This is a universe grounded in real-life physics, has the Humbler, a Hummer Bland-Name Product that is implied to have a bigger gravitational mass than Earth.
    • Jason the omninerd wants to go back in time by exceeding the speed of light. How? By asking his brother Peter, of course.
      Jason: I've seen how you drive on the freeway.
      Peter: You're talking nine digit numbers. I've only flirted with four.
    • In another comic, Jason records Peter eating a plate of spaghetti and catches it in a few frames, or about one thirteenth of a second and Peter's disappointed by it.
    • In one strip has Roger managing to have fire erupt underneath a grill during his usual attempts at grilling due to putting the charcoal on upside down. Jason even lampshaded this.
      (Roger attempts to light the grill, only for it to barely smoke when he lights it)
      Roger: Dang it... (picks up charcoal, which is burning on the bottom) I put the stupid charcoal in upside down.
      Jason: (observing the flames burning through the bottom of the grill) For anyone else, I'd declare this impossible.
  • Beetle Bailey:
    • If the General has a headache and Sergeant Snorkel ORDERS you to fire a cannon quietly, then you fire it quietly.
    • Beetle is slower than everyone else even when parachuting down from a plane.
    • Lt. Fuzz is so reluctant to jump to parachute down that he stays hanging on a cloud.
    • On one occasion, Beetle and Sarge have followed a road that goes nowhere and are in fact standing on air a little beyond a cliff.
    • Among the geographical features that were at one time featured regularly, there's a particular river that's so fickle and constantly changing its course that the soldiers have to make an effort to avoid it when setting up their tent in one strip. They think they're safe when they reach higher ground, but the river follows them anyway because it doesn't know water can't run uphill.
    • Killer peeks through a knothole at some women at a swimming pool. Next, people are wondering how he managed to get his head stuck on the other side of the hole, which is just the size of his neck (his neck being drawn as very thin as usually). When someone says it's impossible, Beetle says that "he's impossible."
  • Big Nate: Nate getting detention during summer vacation! Twice!
  • A Peanuts comic strip has Snoopy about to jump into a pool with Lucy who promptly tells him to stop, and he changes direction midair. Not even he knows how he did that.

    Films — Animation 
  • Tangled states Rapunzel's power comes from her hair, and if it's cut then her power will be gone forever. This is even demonstrated when the Big Bad cuts one lock and it reverts to normal hair. The Power of Love enables her to break that rule, if only once.
  • In Over the Hedge, RJ gives Hammy, a hyperactive squirrel, an energy drink in a last-ditch attempt to trap the crazed housewife and exterminator inside the laser-defense system they set up in the housewife's yard. Hammy becomes hyperactive and activates the system...and casually walks past the laser beams as they slowly shoot across the yard. That's right, Hammy just went faster than the speed of light.
  • In Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Vitaly the tiger was renowned for jumping through increasingly smaller hoops. In his prime, he was even able to jump through a simple ring without any difficulty. During the climax, he's able to jump in-and-out of a keyhole while carrying Marty and putting his clown wig on him all within a blink of an eye.
    Marty: "I am impressed!"
  • In Disney's Robin Hood (1973), there's a subtle one that's not even noticed in-universe, but is nevertheless impossible. Prince John ties the snake Sir Hiss into a knot around a pole — while holding him with both hands and without ever letting go with either. It happens too fast for the viewer to see the details.
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, when Kenny goes to Hell, there's a sign that says Hell has 900 billion people in it. Not that many people have even existed. Maybe they were counting animals and/or aliens? Even ignoring this, the show said that Mormonism was the right religion. Mormons actually believe that only the truly wicked go to Hell and not because they weren't Mormon. Even if that wasn't the case, "All About the Mormons" called Mormonism dumb over and over and said it was a Scam Religion. Hell having that many people is absolutely incomprehensible from any perspective.
  • In The Simpsons Movie, Ned says that Springfield borders Ohio, Nevada, Maine, and Kentucky, a geographical impossibility.
  • Monsters University: The door's shut down, you're stuck with no children at all to make scream... Mike and Sulley scare an entire squad of police officers, creating such an epic scare that the door is effectively blown off its hinges, and the scream canisters suffer from Explosive Overclocking as they all are filled far beyond capacity...

  • Some Yo Mama jokes have a punchline where the subject is fat/ugly/stupid enough to violate real life logic. For example:
    "Yo momma is so fat, she jumped in the air and got stuck!"
    "Yo momma is so ugly, when she looks in the mirror, her reflection ducks!"
  • The Chuck Norris Facts are built around Chuck doing things that are impossible, like dividing by zero, or expecting the Spanish Inquisition, or going back in time to father himself, or counting to infinity twice in the time it took him to build the log cabin he was born in right after causing the big bang with a roundhouse kick... Oh and God owes him five bucks.

  • The first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata has 128th-note chromatic glissandos. The third movement of Moonlight Sonata has a "Presto Agitato" (read: damn fast) tempo and 16th-note arpeggios, nearly impossible to play by human hands. Some pieces composed after he went deaf are literally unplayable.
    • In the same vein, "Circus Galop" by Marc-André Hamelin, which is playable if you can find two people whose thumb-and-pinky stretch is 13 or 14 inches. In fairness, Hamelin wrote the thing for self-playing piano, and it is not meant to be performed by wetware.
    • Near the end of the middle section in Modest Mussorgsky's "The Hut of Baba Yaga", the left-hand pattern changes from 16th-note triplets to what are notated as 64th-note tremolos. It is assumed that these should merely be played as fast as possible.
  • Shawn Lane's guitar playing and Buckethead figuring out how to play a song that Shawn wrote to specifically NOT be playable. Shawn Lane made a recording by playing one note at a time on a guitar and then stitching them together impossibly fast, at impossibly wide intervals, that he was sure no human could play. Buckethead, thinking it was a legit recording, then proceeded to figure out how to play it for real and IN REAL TIME.
  • Tim Miller falls into a similar category for different reasons. He doesn't often play impossibly fast, he just plays lines that come from a system he developed and thus are harmonically near-impossible to conceive of for guitarists who aren't him. It does indeed hit the ear incredibly strangely. note 
  • Robert Schumann's Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor infamously tells the pianist to play faster in the coda of the first movement, whose base tempo is already "so rasch wie möglich" (as fast as possible).
  • Subverted by the opening chord to The Beatles' song "A Hard Day's Night." It took more than 40 years for audio analysis technology to reproduce it because of the key discovery that some of the sound was not made by a guitar.
  • Conlon Nancarrow composed music involving complex mathematical ratios and impossibly fast tempos specifically designed to be unplayable by humans. (For instance, one piece has two different simultaneous tempos in the ratio e : π.) He realized them by means of custom-made player piano rolls.

  • It's impossible for two objects to occupy the same physical space simultaneously. In The Adventure Zone: Balance, the Hunger is hundreds if not thousands of planar systems occupying the same space simultaneously, creating a ludicrously massive and powerful Eldritch Abomination held together by the stolen power of the tool used to create reality. When the bonds that hold it together are cut, its component parts have to be manually put back into place by The Powers That Be, who note that it'll probably take centuries to get everything right.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: In one Pigs in Space sketch, the artificial gravity is turned off, and Miss Piggy is still too heavy to float.

  • Digimon: Devil's Ascent has Sir Percival/Magnamon, The Knight of Miracles. His shtick is doing the impossible.
  • Planeocracy: The Big Zam's I-Field neutralizes the attacks of Lyle and Katina... until Cherudim went Trans-AM and Lyle fired a concentrated sniper rifle/rifle bit shot at the field's generator. Now, keep in mind the I-Field neutralizes beams. It punched through.
  • A New Age: The Sky Worm. The largest size a creature can be in D&D is Colossal. The Sky Worm was as large as four colossal creatures in a line.
  • Bleach Blazing Souls: Heroism, the King of Hollows, ripped right through a shield made out of Sekiseki-stone and the connected barrier it created.
  • Polyhistor Academy: one of the background characters, Charlemagne(no, not that one) beat and surpassed the literal embodiment of perfection, something, by definition, was impossible.


  • At one point in the BIONICLE comics and books, Jaller sets Mantax ablaze on the ocean floor. Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors is important in the series, so it's Hand Waved with the Wizard Did It rule; he has power over fire, and if he wants fire underwater, he can do that (not easily, but still...). Further justified by Greg on an online Q&A when he pointed out that it's possible to have fire underwater. It just takes either certain chemicals or a lot of energy.
  • Transformers: The Alternity are overpowered enough to give Demonbane a run for their money, with weapons that can shoot you before you were born, weapons that can warp reality, and weapons than can shoot you in the past, present, future and other dimensions at the same time. Megatron's Tesseractal Swords are blades of infinite length. "Physical space is not an obstruction." They also have the ability to perceive reality on a higher-dimensional scale and can detect any changes in space-time immediately when they occur to reverse the damage caused by them.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night
    • The guy who would become Servant Assassin created Tsubame Gaeshi, a sword technique that twists dimensions so that he can strike from three directions at the same time. He did this by... swinging his sword. A lot. And kept doing it with utter determination until reality essentially gave up and granted him what he wanted, partial access to "multi-dimension refraction phenomenon", known also as the Second Magic. In his own words, he simply had nothing else to do. Saber's reaction to this story makes it very clear that this is as insane in-universe as it sounds like in real life.
    • Heracles has three. he's been trapped by Enkidu, Gilgamesh's chain used to ensnare divine opponents; the more divine the foe, the stronger the chains hold. Since Heracles is a demigod in good standing with the gods (an A-ranked divinity), the chains are impossible to break. When Ilya is mortally wounded he breaks them (then again, he already broke a chain that not even the gods could break in the myths, so it's nothing new for him). Secondly, he keeps himself manifested with sheer willpower past his own death, long enough for the blinded, dying Ilya to feel him standing there and die peacefully. Third... Remember Assassin's impossible technique? In his life, Herakles topped it: when used with an axe-sword, Herakles' Nine Lives is nine attacks from nine directions at the same time, with all the power and speed granted by Herakles' unmatched strength, and when used with bow and arrow it's one hundred arrow shots (thankfully, as Berserker he can't do this anymore).
    • Gilgamesh drinks from the holy grail, which is the Nasuverse, isn't even a cup so much as it is a formless eldritch abomination which is all the world's evil made manifest. His reaction? "All the world's evil? It'll take at least three times as much to harm me."
    • At the end of the Fate route, where Shirou and Saber were in love, Saber is returned to the moment she was summoned, which is just a few minutes before her death. She wants to know if she will ever see Shirou again. Merlin says that she will not; the afterlife simply doesn't work that way. However, Merlin says that if she is able to wait for Shirou forever, and Shirou is able to seek her forever, despite both of them knowing it is impossible, then maybe there is a chance. After Shirou's eventual death, they are indeed reunited in Avalon.
      ...If you want to meet again, two miracles must occur; One must wait continuously, one must pursue endlessly...
      They must realise that it is impossible to succeed, yet at the same time be capable of enduring patiently.
  • Umineko: When They Cry EP6. Lambda says that Bern was originally a piece in a game that the Game Master made Unwinnable. (Lambda did not explicitly say whether the game was of the Unintentionally Unwinnable or the Unwinnable by Design variety.) The Game Master then abandoned Bern as a piece and left her to fend for herself. Bern eventually ended up winning the game anyway]and gained the title of Witch of Miracles. The mentioned game may or may not have been Higurashi. While this does explain her cruelty, it's no excuse for it.

    Web Animation 
  • Battle for Dream Island:
    • There is a video called "Vote Yoylecake" where Bubble tries to kill Blocky. She successfully pops him.
    • In BFB 20, Blocky makes fun of the sun, somehow turning it into an ice cube.
  • Charlotte of Making Fiends can Hold her breath For 9 Hours...
  • Red vs. Blue:
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device: Ultramarines manage to capture Magnus. To elaborate: a hundred or so Super Soldiers are sent to literal hell where everything is trying to kill them to kidnap the second most powerful psyker in the world (the first is a Physical God), an omniscient being capable of burning them or destroying their minds with a mere thought, and they go with their Deflector Shields off, meaning that there are daemons invading their ship all the time. And they don't kill Magnus. They bring him back alive. The Emperor deliberately sent them on an Impossible Task thinking they would fail so the rest of the chapter would stop acting so insufferably smug.
  • Sometimes, this trope happens in Animator vs. Animation.
    • Lampshaded with Ethan in Animation VS Pokemon when he challenges SC to a Pokemon battle, telling him that they must take the fight to a place where the normal rules don't apply.
    • Meta example: in the Animation VS Minecraft shorts, fans are quick to point out when the rules of Minecraft are broken, even if it doesn't really matter or otherwise wouldn't be noticed.
    • Averted in "Roller Coaster", where at the end, the minecarts suddenly obey Minecraft physics perfectly, dropping off the edge of a ramp instead of flying.
    • "Note Block Battle" has two examples, both played for laughs. First, at the beginning, Blue makes a Potion of Musicality using a note block, which does not exist in Minecraft. And at the end, Green uses a charged trident to turn a note block into an electric guitar and starts jamming on it.
  • DEATH BATTLE! features clashes between fictional characters, some of which are ridiculously strong, but there are a few fights where the combatants are so ludicrously powerful that the show's M.O. of calculating their best feats simply isn't possible.
    • The fight between The Flash (Wally West) and the Archie Comics version of Sonic has two opponents who take speed to truly reality-breaking levels, including but not limited to: Wally causing the concept of Death itself to die and outrunning the Speed Force (y'know, the source of his powers), and Sonic moving during frozen time through nothing BUT raw speed and scooping water into a ball and throwing it as if it were a solid chunk of matter before the physics of displacement could take effect. Wally's victory over the blue blur, in spite of the latter's ridiculous abilities including literal Plot Armor is treated as an achievement to such, as noted by Wiz in the analysis:
    Wiz: Personally, I was expecting the opposite result. Against almost anybody else, Archie's version of Sonic is practically unbeatable. But across a greater percentage of scenarios, Wally just happens to be the exception.
    • The result of Saitama VS Popeye boils down to this: Although Saitama is ridiculously, ludicrously strong, his power boils down to applying some arbitrary, but measurable, amount of force with his punches (which have been stated even by Saitama himself to not be truly infinitely strong). Meanwhile, Popeye's strength is such that the laws of physics, logic, and reality simply do not apply to him: there's no equation that can calculate the TNT equivalent (or whatever unit of measurement you want to use) of feats such as hitting a shark so hard it turns into several small fish, Breaking the Fourth Wall and punching out the cartoon's animator in real life, or surviving God Himself turning off the universe.
    • In "Hercules VS Sun Wukong", both deities had feats that could be interpreted as them bearing the weight of the entire infinite universe on their shoulders. Because of this, their strength was deemed impossible to calculate and they were treated as equal in this category.
    • In "Trunks VS Silver", Silver the Hedgehog was found to be able to keep up with the aforementioned Archie Sonic, having shown similar feats of incalculably fast speed. This was one factor in his victory over Trunks, as while he also has ludicrous Super Speed, it's still shown to have a theoretical upper limit; Dragon Ball characters' feats of moving in stopped time are attributed to these abilities explicitly being unable to affect beings with stronger Ki than the user, rather than pure, reality-breaking speed like in Archie Sonic comics.
  • In Battlefield Friends, while there are some instances of Rule of Funny such as people screaming while being shot at and acting as if the game was real, they're still normal people playing the game and still play by the game's rules... and then there's Colonel, a seriously obsessed Battlefield player who has played the game for god knows how long and is good at everything. So good in fact, he blatantly breaks several game mechanics. Some of these actions include...
    • Surviving out of bounds of a map and bringing Engineer and Recon back to safety, even though staying out of bounds for 10 seconds would kill them instantly.
    • Unlocking a bipod for his knife, and then a bipod for his bipod.
    • Capturing the enemy base even though that's the only location that cannot be captured in Conquest.
    • Killing the Megalodon shark.
    • Killing the enemy commander, who isn't even on the map.
    • Using the Invincibility Star from Super Mario Bros. in Battlefield 4.
    • Headshotting enemy players across different maps.
    • Pulling a motorcycle out of a ammo box.
    • And the most absurd of them all, playing Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline at the same time!

    Web Original 
  • The Impossible Man's inexpicable power has no respect for physical rules
  • SCP Foundation:
    • One of the Foundation's attempts to terminate SCP-682. They reduced it to 1% of its body by changing the fundamental natural constants. IT RECOVERED AND EVEN SEEMED TO ENJOY IT!
    • Another time, they used a pair of bookends which cause the story contained between them to manifest in reality to create a creature to fight SCP-682 called "The Generally Nice, Friendly Thing That Can And Will Kill SCP-682 Permanently if it So Much As Spots That Damn Lizard". SCP-682 kills it. Its sole descriptive property was the capability and desire to kill SCP-682, and SCP-682 killed it.
    • SCP-523's containment room is to be destroyed in the event of an XK-class end-of-the-world scenario. Why? Because it could make things worse.
  • Not Always Right: A customer in a bookstore asked for assistance. All they knew about the book they wanted was that "It had a nondescript cover." The employee found it for them anyway!
  • A series of pics (Several NSFW) about a bard who seems to be unable to keep his pants up take it to the illogical extreme in one pic. That the bard has left a bunch of Half-Human Hybrid offspring isn't this. The fact that one of his baby-mamas is a rock definitely is.

    Web Videos 
  • Kurtjmac:
    • Walking to the Far Lands, without mods or assistance
    • Any Mod/Admin who uses Mcbans. Now Look up Notch. The List is longer than Minecraft chat can display.
  • Hardly Working. Tweeting about Twitter being down. This causes a double take, a 'that's impossi-!' and an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. It's ambigious whether the exclaimation was Twitter being down or tweeting about it.
  • Hero House gives us Ant-man's camping skills. He can provide electricity through simple twigs and leaves. Not to mention a hot tub.
  • Bad Call TV,: In one episode an internet porn addict (who is suing Apple for not selling their computers in Safe Mode, thereby enabling his porn addiction) somehow manages to look at porn on a 1st generation iPod and even an Apple II, once all of his other Apple devices have been confiscated. For context, neither of those devices is physically capable of displaying internet porn. Apple IIs predate widespread use of the internet and lack the hardware to display detailed images, much less video, while the original iPod could only hold audio files.
  • One of TwoSet Violin's running jokes is a The Ghost named Ling Ling who regularly practices the violin 40 hours a day, among other things.
  • In Rolling a NATURAL 1 in Dungeons and Dragons, the player manages to roll a zero on a twenty-sided die.
  • Played for Laughs by The Angry Video Game Nerd who casually surfs the web, watches YouTube videos, and plays modern-day PC games... on a Commodore 64.


Video Example(s):


This IS a DVD!

When the film of Skinner's lousy Christmas movie breaks, Nelson mocks him, saying he should get a DVD next time, to which Skinner says it IS a DVD (which somehow caught fire).

How well does it match the trope?

4.88 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / MeltingFilmEffect

Media sources: