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", they are going Beyond The Impossible. note
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.
Distinct from Up to Eleven in two respects. 1.) There is no 'topping' involved; topping the previous maximum is not necessarily the motivation. 2.) The action is literally impossible instead of being one step higher than the current best. For example: Alice punches Bob and he steps back from the force. Up to Eleven, Alice punches Bob across the room. Beyond The Impossible, Alice punches Bob backwards in time. The former is just a stronger punch while the latter has nothing to do with strength.
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.
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.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Films Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Tabletop Games
- Video Games
- Web Comics
- Western Animation
- The Dos Equis ads featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World lists many impossible accomplishments. This trope is the whole point of the character.
- He gave a pep talk so inspiring both teams won.
- He tells us that he can slam a revolving door.
- He can also speak French in Russian.
- He's a Lover, Not a Fighter, but he's also a fighter, so don't get any ideas.
- He once parallel parked a train.
- He is forbidden from walking through cemeteries, because of that one time where he raised the dead.
- His sense of taste is so refined that to him, nothing Tastes Like Chicken; not even chicken.
- Garfield ate a pizza before it arrived. He has "friends high up in the delivery business".
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 enters Caffeine Bullet Time 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, 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- In Eugène Ionesco's play The Lesson, The Student nonchalantly mentions having memorized the answers to an infinite amount of multiplication questions, to explain how she can multiply ten-digit numbers when she doesn't know how to count past 17.
- At one point in the BIONICLE comics and books, Jaller sets Mantax ablaze on the ocean floor. Elemental RockPaperScissors 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.
- 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 Unwinnable by Mistake 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.
- 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:
Sarge: How was he pullin' the triggers?
- Tex ripped Jimmy's skull out of his head and beat him to death with it. Though Season 14 reveals that this trope was only invoked and the memory is fabricated. Tex wasn't the reason Jimmy died. Church was though.
- In Season 3, Lopez is reduced to a head... and yet manages to build a robot army for O'Malley. And also operate a machine gun turret!
Simmons: He's very determined.
- Discussed in Revelation episode 19,
Church: Heeyy. Is it possible for a memory fragment out of an artificial intelligence program enclosed inside a robotic body to piss its pants? Because I'm pretty sure I just did that.
- Relocation Part 3: Grif's analysis of his sister surviving being under ice for three hours and coming up both totally fine and pregnant.
- 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.
- In Death Battle, a couple of fights showcase this, but the one battle thus far that truly embodies this above all else is Flash vs the Archie Comics version of Sonic, 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 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 capacity 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.◊
- 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.