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Explosive Overclocking

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So that's where the MythBusters put that monitor.

Zeus Cannon Control: Warning: System Overload.
General Hein: I know.
Zeus Cannon Control: Warning: System Overload.
General Hein: I know!
Zeus Cannon Control: Warning: System Overload.
General Hein: I! KNOW!

Sometimes "normal" Overdrive is not enough. Almost any piece of Applied Phlebotinum can be made to work a little harder, at the cost of an increased risk (or certainty) that it will eventually explode. A Necessary Drawback to show why it shouldn't be used this way very often.

Your chief engineer will technobabble some stuff about "bypassing the safety protocols", but this will not require laying new cables or replacing clock chips — it just requires a few pokes at the control console. This is often achieved by applying more power.

It's even possible to do it by accident: give a computer a sufficiently hard math problem, and it will grind out an answer just before it overheats and expires from the effort. Also, being overclocked causes a system to work at increased efficiency and then stop dead.

This does have some base in reality. In Real Life, an overclocked computer will run faster, although noticeably hotter (so the hardware can very well literally melt from overheatingnote ), and will have an increased chance of making (typically small) mathematical errors. Pushed too far, though, clocked hardware components will exert a rapidly increasing level of general malfunction (if not outright refuse to work thanks to safeguards). And even small computational errors in critical parts of software will eventually cause it to crash. A normally-clocked system can overheat and crash from high load (and thus increased heat output), too, if it has inadequate cooling.

In general, overclocked phlebotinum will last exactly long enough to solve your problem, exploding right after you've shot the big gun. Alternatively, it may solve or delay your immediate problem, then break down, leaving you stranded in space with a seized engine.

Overclocking an Energy Weapon (sometimes called "hotshotting") is a good way to create the equivalent of a One Bullet Left scenario: "I can boost the power of your weapon, but it'll only last long enough to give you one shot."

The idea probably comes from the notion of red-lining a car engine, which will give you extra speed, but puts so much strain on the engine and produces so much heat that its weaker parts are liable to break (or in the literal overclocking of computer processors, see real life examples below). But in Science Fiction, this ability is available to just about everything, without making massive time-consuming modifications to the equipment. (Go ahead, try to make your tablesaw run faster.)

One popular use of Explosive Overclocking is as a subversion of Tim Taylor Technology.

It may also cause Explosive Instrumentation, although enemy attack or Percussive Maintenance will usually do the same thing. Especially if your vessel is not properly grounded. It's usually safer to Reverse Polarities, but that wouldn't result in a pretty fireball from your automatic Self-Destruct Mechanism, would it? Especially with No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup.

Applied to The Hero himself, Heroic RRoD may be an organic counterpart to this trope (usually due to excessive use of a Dangerous Forbidden Technique or Super Mode).

Compare Overclocking Attack (you do this because you want something to explode), Forbidden Chekhov's Gun, Flawed Prototype (which usually can be overclocked to match a "perfect" model), Cast from Hit Points (instead of a chance of complete self-destruction there is a guarantee of partial self-destruction), Pent-Up Power Peril (when your power builds up in your body by itself and will overclock your body if you don't use it regularly), Awesomeness Is Volatile, and Deadly Upgrade. An organic equivalent is Uninhibited Muscle Power.

Not to be confused with Ramping Slo-mo in explosive action scenes.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Blassreiter, Sasha dies shooting down nuclear missiles, firing the main cannon on Bow Rider long after the supplementary cooling systems failed, and long after she was informed that the heat would BURN HER ALIVE INSIDE.
  • Goku also did this in Dragon Ball Z with his Kaiō Ken overtaking his body limits when he used the multiplier effect way beyond King Kai recommendation against Vegeta and latter Frieza. His body is able to adapt to the degree of "overclocking" he used against Vegeta, so naturally Goku has to overclock himself even more just to keep up with Frieza. The Super Saiyan state is alluded to be this as both Goku and Vegeta note that it puts huge amounts of strain on their bodies and when preparing to fight Cell Goku focuses on reducing this strain as opposed to getting stronger like Vegeta did, allowing it to be used constantly and more effectively. SSJ 3 burns through several hours worth of Goku's day on earth in just a few moments (and later he is unable to maintain the state for more than a few moments before it drains all his stamina) and shortens Goten and Trunks fusion from half an hour to five minutes (leaving them unable to even turn Super Saiyan afterwards).
    • Come Dragon Ball Super Goku reveals that he's been working on trying to combine Kaio Ken with Super Saiyan Blue. It's an unperfected technique that he gives only a 15% change of success to. What does failure mean? His body would literally explode in Ludicrous Gibs from the extreme strain. Naturally, it works out just fine.
    • Worth mentioning of course are the Scouters: it's implied that they explode due to the strain of having to read such high battle powers. Newer models can read higher levels, but nearly all have blown up at some point because of this.
  • In Gundam Build Divers, Riku's 00 Diver, based off of the 00 Gundam above, suffers the same thing, though it's explained that his build isn't perfected, so it's not going to work right. It scares Riku into trying to fight without Trans-Am for awhile, though.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing gives us the Tallgeese, which is an honourary example on account of the weak point being the pilot; the thing was so ridiculously powerful that an inexperienced or careless pilot could do themselves serious injury from sheer G-forces. The standard Mook MS of the series, the Leo, was simply Tallgeese with its performance "underclocked" back down to what normal humans could handle.
  • Sasorina in HeartCatch Pretty Cure! is given a three-jeweled Dark Bracelet in a desperate attempt to finish off the Cures or be subjected to You Have Outlived Your Usefulness. It makes the Desertian she fuses with much, much stronger (strong enough to withstand three Forte Bursts and shatter Sunshine's Sunflower Aegis in one punch), but its power's too much and threatens to fry her. The girls realize what's going on and finally put her out of her misery.
  • In the final stage of Initial D, Takumi accidentally revs his 86's engine past 12,000 RPM while using a Blind Attack to overtake Shinji. Because his gauge's backlights were off, and because Ryosuke had the 86's rev-limiter removed so he could use the extra RPMS as a last resort, Takumi had no idea he was revving his engine past its limit and wound up blowing it, though he still managed to win the race.
  • Wamuu, from Part 2 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, has a technique dubbed "Final Mode: Atmospheric Rift", where he draws an incredible amount of air into his body, compresses it, then fires it from his cranial horn as a highly destructive and focused cyclone. This ability is saved as a last resort, since the friction and heat it builds up in Wamuu's body causes it to gradually tear itself asunder.
  • Macross:
    • Accidentally caused by the Human crew of the SDF-1 Macross from Super Dimension Fortress Macross when they tried to use the ship's alien Fold Drive without understanding it to escape an attack by a different alien race by overcharging it. This caused the ship, the nearby island, the water surrounding it, and nearby aircraft carriers to be folded into Pluto's orbit. This also caused the Fold Drive itself to fold out of spacetime leaving the Macross without a critical component required to fire their Wave-Motion Gun. They later solve this by transforming their ship it into a Humongous Mecha.
    • Guld Goa Bowman does this in Macross Plus when he disables the limiters of the YF-21 to be able to fight the Ghost on equal terms. He succeeds, but destroys his aircraft in the process and expires from the extreme G-forces involved.
  • As of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, five simultaneous Starlight Breakers on Blaster Mode Level Max is Nanoha's most powerful attack. Unfortunately, it also puts enormous strain on both Raising Heart and herself, causing Raising Heart's entire frame to crack and damaging Nanoha's body from one use.
    • Also the case with Excellion Mode in A's. Fate is also warned about similar upgrades, though she's more powerful and thus can handle it a lot better than Nanoha can.
    • The last of the three Aces, Hayate, is so powerful, she destroyed eight Devices by simply channeling more than a fraction of her own energy through them. In other words, she has to underclock to avoid explosive overclocking in the Devices not specifically designed for her.
  • The EMS-04 Zudah from Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO has a powerful new engine, called the 'Saturn Engine', which had substantial power and thruster output. The problem was, the engine heated up quickly at higher speeds and vibrated so much that the Zudah's frame couldn't take it, and it would blow up; this resulted in Zeon cancelling the Zudah in favor of its competition, the less powerful but much safer MS-05 Zaku I. One Zudah test pilot Red Shirt dies when he gets too cocky, redlines the engine and blows up during testing, and Jean Luc Duvall (who had a lot of pride in the Zudah's design) dies when he redlines the engine when he lures away a Federation MS team away from the Zeon forces fleeing back to space after Operation Odessa.
  • The titular Super Prototype of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 initially suffered from a design fault in that it couldn't go Trans-Am for more than a few seconds or its GN Drives will belch smoke and shut down with "Error S0557". It was eventually corrected by real-time fine-tuning of the drives from the 0-Raiser — and how.
    • The Movie showed us that Trans-Am itself can be overclocked but doing so will detonate the GN Drive. It gets used several times against the ELS; most importantly, Tieria Erde's Raphael Gundam, Graham Aker's Brave Commander Test Type, and Andrei Smirnov's GN-XIV all check out this way.
  • Similarly, Rock Lee in Naruto uses a forbidden technique which involves essentially an "explosive overclocking" of his body by disabling its natural 'safety features'.
    • Shockingly, this is the most realistic technique in the entire show: replace "heightened chakra flow" with "consciously controlled adrenaline output" and you've basically got someone with their Fight or Flight switch constantly stuck on Fight. See the "human body" listing down in Real Life.
    • The highest-level form of this technique is described as providing power beyond what would otherwise be possible, even with the superhuman standards of the series, but only for a brief time. Then the user drops dead on the spot.. It's the only thing that actually hurts Madara, even coming close to killing him, something that all 5 Kages and all 9 tailed beasts couldn't do.
  • Done in Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind (the movie) where Kushana, faced with an advancing horde of Ohmu, activates the nascent God Warrior prematurely and sends it into battle. It fires several rounds, then falls apart.

    Comic Books 
  • In the final storyline of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Nicole uses her Overclocked form to battle the virus Phage and pushes it so far that it destroys the Red Ring powering her and her computer. Thankfully, Nicole bailed into the computer systems of the Sky Patrol and, had the series not been cancelled, would have had Sally and Tails getting said computer fixed.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The mob associate known as "the Undertaker" is killed when he tells a mook to turn up the heat in his crematorium even higher and the thing explodes shortly thereafter.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Dr. Lazarus' Hard Light AI system has yet to be perfected and the hard light constructs can explode on contact. Once things go quite wrong and his system is being used to create supervillains without his knowledge these explosions are significantly more powerful than the one which wrecked his first laboratory.
  • This is how Frenzy dies fighting the Swarm in Transformers: Generation 2. Since the Swarm is basically a Gray Goo entity, some of the Autobot-Decepticon alliance tactical think-tank believe it can be damaged by sonic energy. Frenzy is loaded with disruptive sonic emitters. Wheeljack has a generator the size of a barn. They hook up the former to the latter, and while it succeeds in repelling the Swarm for a brief while, after a short period of time the sheer amount of power being forced into Frenzy's sonic emitters is too much, and a violent harmonic resonance ensues. The generator explodes, Frenzy literally shakes himself to pieces, and the Swarm continues its attack. Frenzy, being a loud and murderous little violence-gremlin of a Decepticon, is perfectly happy dying this way.
    Frenzy: Oh. Oh man. I'm gone! Solid g o n e

    Fan Works 
  • In The Witch of the Everfree, after she reads the Clover Manuscript, Sunset Shimmer figures out how to force extra mana into simple spells. However, as more mana is put into a spell, the spell becomes increasingly likely to blow up in the caster's face.
  • It's repeatedly mentioned throughout Princess of the Blacks that Jen's connection to the Earth gives her an almost infinite supply of magical energy, but that if she draws more than the most infinitesimal fraction of that power at once, it will vaporize her. In the final battle against Voldemort, Jen (who is fatally wounded anyway), throws her connection open all the way, and in the moment before the energy surge kills her, dumps it all into a blast that vaporizes Voldemort as well.
  • In Incompatible System, the Quarians, when cornered by Batarian ships, overcharge their main gun to the point of slagging it. It destroys one enemy and cripples another, allowing them to run.
  • In the Discworld as visited by A.A. Pessimal, the standard witch's broomstick is a sedate thing likened to an old Morris Minor car on our world — it will do the job reliably and consistently at an unremarkable speed. Then the Wrench Wench mentality arrivednote , along with the Magitek of ground-based engineers and broomstick designers with interesting ideas. The Air Watch, backed by the goodwill of Vetinari and the unlimited development cash provided by Sam Vimes, attracts Witches of the right mind-set backed by ground Tekniks. Accidents happen. An early error when a broom was overloaded with more thaumic potential than the staff and bristles could hold led — very briefly — to a fast, powerful, aircraft. And then an incandescent fireball over Ankh-Morpork. Pilot Dorothy Culpclapper is now remembered on the memorial plaque. Now go to The Price of Flight, an ongoing tale.

  • Avengers: Infinity War: As opposed to its comics counterpart, Thanos activating the fully assembled Infinity Gauntlet and wiping out half of the universe causes the Gauntlet to explode into a twisted hunk of golden metal attached to Thanos' arm. The arm itself is also badly wounded with what appear to be serious electrical burns, and unlike the chest wound Thor gave him with Stormbreaker, his arm does not appear to be healed in the film's final pre-credits scene.
    • In the direct sequel, Endgame, Thanos uses the damaged gauntlet to destroy the Infinity Stones off-screen, which, combined with the terrible wound Thor gave him at the end of Infinity War, almost killed him. The gauntlet became fused to his arm and has lost all the gold shine it once had, and Thanos is visibly struggling to breathe quite often.
      • Later in Endgame, both Hulk and Iron Man use the Stones with a new gauntlet, and suffer in a similar fashion to Thanos. Hulk's arm becomes crippled from their power, and Iron Man doesn't survive their use.
  • Near the end of Back to the Future Part III, Doc Brown overclocks a steam train engine (with three special fuel log packages) in order to reach the necessary speed to activate the time machine. There's only a minor, insignificant drawback: the third package blows up the boiler. (The reason it's insignificant? The track in use only extends to the edge of a ravine. So, it doesn't matter if the boiler explodes from the fuel logs... because it's going to hit rock bottom, regardless.)
  • In The Blues Brothers, this is what the Bluesmobile is doing during the final epic chase sequence from the Palace Hotel Ballroom to Chicago City Hall, presumably because it's on a Mission from God. It eludes cops, Illinois Nazis, and the Good Ole Boys, gets Jake and Elwood to the Cook County Assessor's Office in record time, and then suffers Critical Existence Failure and collapses into a pile of scrap metal.
  • In the film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, General Hein overrides the control for Zeus, an orbital laser cannon. Firing it continuously eventually causes the destruction of the entire satellite due to a system overload.
  • Captain Tupolev pushes the attack submarine V.K. Konovalov to catch up with the Red October.
  • This is what happens in Iron Man 3 when someone gets a little too much Extremis. Emphasis on the word "explosive"...
  • In Real Genius, the kids create an overclocked laser that is only good for one shot before it utterly consumes its expensive Bromide-Argon fuel source.
  • Captain Sulu pushes the Excelsior in The Undiscovered Country
    Sulu: Come on, come on.
    Helmsman: She'll fly apart!
    Sulu: Fly her apart, then!
  • WarGames brings in this trope at the climax when David Lightman locks the WOPR into playing Tic-Tac-Toe against itself, drawing in more and more power and causing several instrument panels to blow up.
  • Wing Commander: The human fleet is running their reactors at full blast in order to reach the enemy hyperspace exit in time, but it's not enough, so the captain orders the fleet to run the reactors above 100% (this is part of maritime terminology, 100% being the maximum safe level; at this point, they're overloading the engines). At a certain point, a member of the crew informs him that they've lost a number of ships due to reactor overloads. He repeats the importance of getting there in time, and orders the reactors' power to be increased even further.

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "The Red Queens Race": To send something back in time, someone overclocks a nuclear power station, making it a bunch of scrap.
    • "The Mule": Part of the Emotion Control powers that the Mule has allows him to cause intuition and creativity to skyrocket, at the expense of their lives. He describes human brains as normally operating at 20% efficiency (essentially failing to use 80%), and he can use his power to force all of it to work non-stop without any chance of rest for weeks on end. He puts Ebling Mis in this state, allowing him to replicate most of a genius mathematician's life's work in only a few weeks, at the cost of killing him within the same timeframe.
    • Pebble in the Sky: A permanent and technologically induced mental state that is implied to essentially an Overdrive situation: you think faster and clearer, and might even develop telepathic powers, but wear and tear increases. Do this for a couple of weeks, maybe some months at most, and the wear and tear is pronounced enough to make metaphorical 'engine failure' a statistical near-certainty.
  • In the BattleTech Expanded Universe novel Legend of the Jade Phoenix, Aidan's final battle in the tournament to win his bloodname takes place on a low-gravity, airless moon. His battlemech's muscles are designed for standard Earth gravity, allowing the mech to sprint across the regolith at astonishing speeds once he throws a safety switch off. However, inertia is a harsh mistress and after sprinting to close the gap on an enemy, his mech's leg joints shatter as it makes contact with the ground, sending his mech sprawling at the legs of his opponent.
  • Chrysalis (RinoZ): Monsters can reinforce their cores by absorbing the cores of other monsters, giving them additional energy for their next evolution, up to a safe cap. However, more powerful monsters can leave "special" or "rare" cores, which can be absorbed to push one's own core past the usual limits — causing burning pain that doesn't fully go away until evolution. The extra energy eventually pays dividends in the form of better evolutionary options and more stat points to allocate, but pushing it too far can actually be fatal. At one point, Anthony absorbs both a special and a rare core, and nearly pops from the excess of energy and the swelling of his own core, having to be wrapped up in Crinis' tentacles to hold him together long enough to evolve.
  • Etheric gauntlets in The Cinder Spires generate a fair amount of waste heat, so there's a limited number of shots you can fire before you have to stop and let it cool off. Of course, if you're desperate and/or don't care about burning your arm off...
  • The Dresden Files:
    • During the climax of White Night, Lash (who resides in the so-called "unused parts" of Harry Dresden's brain) temporarily over-clocks Harry's brain in order to gain additional time to react to a threat. It is made clear that this is a very Bad Idea and will likely result in brain damage if done for an extended period of time. In truth, this overclocking is normal in stressful situations. It can happen to normal humans during dangerous periods, for exactly the purpose of giving them a smaller reaction time. More here.
    • A more explicit version occurs earlier, in Fool Moon: Harry makes a potion that he calls a "full night's rest in a bottle". He drinks it after he's exhausted himself, and it gives him such a high that he pushes himself to do powerful and delicate magic, a lot of it, in about five minutes. Five minutes after that, the potion's effect doesn't so much wear off as remind him that he's still exhausted, and he collapses. For the rest of the story, he struggles to perform any magic, with the concern being that he might have burned himself out entirely, and permanently (which, as the rest of the series shows, is not true).
  • In the Honor Harrington novel The Honor of the Queen, Commander Alice Truman is ordered to return to home base to inform the Admiralty of Masada's impending attack on Grayson. She orders her chief engineer to take all safeties off their ship's hyperdrive, thus cutting a day off her travel time at the risk of destroying the ship along the way. It pays off, as that extra day means relief forces get to Yeltsin in time.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, the Russian Alfa subs are desperately attempting to catch up to the titular escaping sub, redlining the reactors and working the engines for all they're worth. The engine room technicians notice a possible problem and want to slow down in order to perform a repair, but the political officer doesn't want to waste time and orders the Overclock to continue. It doesn't take long for things to go badly. The process is meticulously described in an epitomical example of Technology Porn.
  • In I Couldn't Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job, Magitek items can create truly spectacular effects when fed large amounts of magical power, such as a washing machine producing a tsunami or a hairdryer producing gale-force winds, with a risk of exploding. Demons, who naturally produce more magic than humans, are prone to accidental "overclocking" when trying to use appliances.
  • In Lensman, the bad guys invent a new devastating weapon on the fly at the beginning of the second novel by explosive overclocking of their energy weapons into Wave-Motion Gun territory. Eventually, both sides figure out how to do this "safely," and future wars are fought by with "primary beams" that blow up entire gun mounts in explosive overclocking reminiscent of Real Life bomb pumped lasers.
  • This trope may well be Older Than Steam: a line in the opening scenes of Macbeth refers to "cannons o'ercharged with double cracks" — in other words, twice the normal amount of gunpowder, which makes the weapon far more potent and — presumably — also far more likely to suffer catastrophic failure. Explosive indeed.
  • Norby and the Court Jester: When Jeff wants to get past a locked door, Ing advises him to overload the stun gun he has. Jeff tries that, and the explosion breaks down the door, just as predicted.
  • Rebuild World: There are a category of knives and swords that work like this based on Lost Technology from Precursors: shoot off the safety and a lengthy Laser Blade with Absurd Cutting Power will come out and cut through walls, but only last a few seconds, before the weapon disintegrates. The main examples being household knives found in ruins, and Shiori's katana built on reverse-engineered technology from those. The latter only loses its blade when it overclocks, and the blades are considered a consumable by Shiori's Mega-Corp.
  • In the Revelation Space Series novel Redemption Ark, Skade tries to overclock her inertia-suppressing engine to go faster than light. It fails, kills her technicians, and blows up.
  • Averted in The Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clarke. The ship's communications officer has to boost a radio transmitter (using valves) by increasing the power supply from 750 to 1,000 volts. "Gibson, who had been expecting sparks to start flying, was disappointed. [...] Bradly, who knew better, looked at his meters and bit his lip savagely."
  • Star Wars Legends: Anakin Solo experienced one of these in order to save his sister Jaina, and defeat the Voxyn Queen, then experienced a Super-Power Meltdown.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, if you try to channel too much power through a gemstone it will shatter.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs: Leon's Robot Buddy Luxion does this to his Hover Bike to help win a race, and he just barely escapes it exploding after the race finishes.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle has Over Limit, the removal of the safeguards that a Drag-Ride normally has to protect the user. This boosts performance by several times but will leave the user bed-ridden for days afterwards. Unmanned Drag-Rides do not have this issue and can therefore use Over Limit freely.
  • Mentioned rather nastily in the Vorkosigan Saga novel Shards of Honor:
    Aral Vorkosigan: You'll make it in five days, boosting six points past emergency max the whole way. If the engineer's been doing his job, the engines won't blow until you hit eight. Quite safe.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Airwolf has an absolute top speed of around Mach 2.5. However, anything approaching Mach 2 is straining on the copter, so the computer auto-limits the turbos' power. In one episode, String has Dom "remove the cap", allowing Airwolf to reach her potential top speed.
  • In the live-action marionette show Fireball XL5, the titular spacecraft is actually Explosively Overclocked every time the main engines are run at full power. It's just that it takes some time for the engines to heat up to the point of exploding and the pilot knows how far he can push it before lowering the power. When he isn't around to shut down the engines, the engine explodes (non-fatally) and use of a manual fire extinguisher is required.
  • In Chernobyl, Legasov's testimony reveals that the night shift of the titular power plant did this by mistake. In order to stop the reactor from choking on xenon, they removed almost all the control rods (at Dyatlov's insistance), causing a power spike far beyond what the reactor was designed to put out. The final reading before the core detonated was 33,000 watts, and it was almost certainly far beyond that—it was just the highest number the panel could register. By some estimates, Reactor 4 briefly produced enough wattage to satisfy the entire planet, and then it exploded.
  • Home Improvement: Most examples of Tim Taylor Technology actualy made by Tim Taylor have this result in one way or another.
  • In Kamen Rider Double, the hero's forms (actually, the heroes' forms) come from two Gaia Memory Transformation Trinkets, and the Maximum Drive Finishing Moves is activated by placing just one of those into their weapon for weapon finishers or a side-slot for the physical ones. Doing both when desperate (such as when the Weather Dopant was getting the better of them) is very, very much not recommended. It'll increase your power, but also the strain on the components and wearer — it's a good way to fry the suit and yourselves! This keeps the "Twin Maximum" a Dangerous Forbidden Technique.
  • Knight Rider: "Trust Doesn't Rust". Bonnie enhances KITT's X-ray laser to fight KARR, but the weapon will only be able to fire twice before KITT's batteries are drained.
  • Suprisingly, shown to be (in extreme cases) as Truth in Television by the MythBusters in their attempts to duplicate the results of various myths. This includes such things as CD-ROM drives (to test whether CD-ROM disks can explode — they had to use a router motor for the spindle, but did indeed show that the disk COULD fragment when spun fast enough, with painful results from the shrapnel) to washing machines (the machine destroyed itself rather spectacularly on cue with Buster in it — the secondary explosion didn't happen though).
    • The washing machine stopped looking like a washing machine long before — the outer panels had to be removed to A) Defeat all the safety features, and b) Provide sufficient power to spin Buster's weight by replacing the stock motor with one meant for an electric car.
  • Power Rangers in general does this quite a bit. Apparently, megazords have independent power supplies for each of their independent systems (weapons, shields, whatever "auxiliary power" is supposed to do). They often will talk about siphoning power from one system into their weapons systems for one final "fry all weapons systems" blast. Whether it's overclocking or simply filling one battery by draining another depends on circumstances.
    • In the start of the third season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, the rangers were getting pounded by new foes, and tried this to give the Thunderzords more power to resist them. It fails, resulting in the Command Center's power going out, their Ranger powers irreparably damaged (not destroyed, as we see in later seasons), and their zords destroyed.
    • Power Rangers RPM had Flynn solving a problem with his Ranger powers by putting the battery into his Morpher backwards (more or less), resulting in a weaponized henshin explosion (as said explosions were pointed out by Ziggy earlier in the episode, they're apparently the result of runoff energy during the morphing sequence).
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "White Hole", the crew develops a technique which increases Holly's intelligence by several orders of magnitude, but they discover that this has reduced her lifespan to three minutes. To be exact, they had intended to restore Holly's (the titular ship's AI) IQ to its original 6000 as Holly had gained a form of "computer senility" due to being in continuous use for 3,000,000 years. (And having no one to interact with during that time.) Kryten had theorized that the procedure may result in Holly being smarter than previously but increasing its IQ to 12,000 rather than 6,000 or a bit higher was far beyond their expectations.
  • In one episode of Scrappy Races, the Barley Pickers' captain attempted to overclock their huge lorry / tractor hybrid by loosening the diesel engine's governor. The nut he was adjusting came off in his hand, and the engine tore itself apart. It's implied that the engine went into diesel engine runaway and could not be stopped until a fire extinguisher was released into its air intake.
  • Stargate Atlantis:
    • In order to relay a critical message to Atlantis, the Daedelus crew overdrive their engines, at the risk of burning them out.
    • Another time, Rodney overclocked the alternate Daedelus' 'time reactor'. Though we never actually saw it explode, it was strongly implied that the jumps would happen faster and faster until it burnt itself out.
    • Throughout the franchise the Stargate itself is little more than a massive superconductor built using an unstable element which exponentially enhances the strength of any explosion. Putting too much power into it is devastatingly destructive.
      • In Season 6 of Stargate SG-1 Anubis blew up Earth's gate using an Ancient device that very slowly caused energy to build up in the gate until it reached critical. Had they not strapped it to a X-302 and flown it into hyperspace the explosion would have been an extinction level event, had the Earth even remained intact.
      • Atlantis Season 5 has the Atero Device. An Ancient weapon designed to disable Wraith hyperdrives across the whole galaxy, but it had a nasty side effect. The subspace static it generated caused energy to rapidly build up in any active stargate, causing it to violently explode in a matter of seconds. The Atlantis team had to collapse the city's ZPM powered shield to encompass just the gate, and it still wasn't enough to mitigate the explosion.
      • Dialing a 9-symbol address to reach the Destiny billions of lightyears away in Stargate Universe requires overclocking the Stargate using a planet with a naquida core. It's such a power release that any instability causes an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Destiny was dialed twice and subsequently the galaxy now has two fewer planets. The third (heavily populated) planet with a naquida core is understandably unwilling to dial Destiny, and is not reassured by Rodney's claim that they have found a way to dial Destiny without blowing up the planet.
    • Similarly, ZPMs, the Ancient's preferred power source in their late days, contain absurd amounts of energy. An episode of Atlantis has The Trust "plant a bomb" in the city in order to remove it as a possible means for the Wraith to ever reach the Milky Way. The "bomb" in question was actually the city's ZPM, they had simply disabled the city's safeguards which moderate its energy flow. Without them drawing too much energy from the ZPM (as in dialing the Stargate, or raising the city's shield) would cause an uncontrolled release of energy that would be close to the time Rodney blew up 3/5 of a solar system.
  • Star Trek did this in all sorts of ways over the course of the franchise — overloading phasers, the engines, the main deflector, pretty much whatever.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • There's at least one instance of a handheld phaser being rigged to overload, basically turning it into a fairly powerful grenade. It was a Shout-Out to the same thing happening to phasers occasionally on Star Trek: The Original Series.
      • At least one episode implied that all Federation technology is designed to be overclocked to some extent, which makes a certain degree of sense when one considers how often Federation characters have to jury-rig their tech into different configurations, realignments, polarizations, etc. to solve the Negative Space Wedgie of the week. This is practically the Federation's Hat.
      • In the episode "Tin Man", a Romulan ship, known in-universe to be slower than a Galaxy-class starship like the Enterprise-D, overclocks its engines in order to overtake the Enterprise and reach that episode's MacGuffin. The Romulan ship was noted to have done irreversible damage to their engines because of this.
      • Averted in "Relics". Scotty chides Geordi for not padding his estimates, and later tells Geordi that he knows a particular component can take a lot more stress than the regulations say it can — because he wrote the regs, and "A good engineer is always a wee bit conservative... at least on paper."
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • The Defiant, by its original design specs, suffered from this. Sisko designed it in the aftermath of Wolf-359, or to put it another way, he crammed so many high-powered weapons into a tiny saucer that its shakedown cruise almost shook it to pieces. The Federation resurrected the design in the face of the new Dominion threat and toned it down, leaving it still powerful but also functional.
      • One of the novels had a particularly unique use: Deep Space 9 is attacked by a bunch of aliens with reflective armor that renders them and their ships immune to phaser fire. They make do, running around with bags of phasers and using them as grenades, until someone finally thinks of replicating a good old-fashioned gun.
      • In "Empok Nor", O'Brien rigs a tricorder to explode upon command, making it a matter of MacGyvering to remove safety features preventing that type of thing from happening.
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • In the two-part episode "Year of Hell", the ship is attacked by the Krenim Weapon Ship. Seven theorizes that the ship's mass prevents it from exceeding warp 6, so Voyager (which can travel at warp 9) can escape. But traveling too fast could tear parts of the heavily damaged hull off. Since it's the only way for anyone to live, Janeway orders them to do so, and as Voyager warps away, we see pieces of the hull come flying off.
      • In the episode "Fury", the Vidians have locked onto Voyager with a clamp and then try a tractor beam as well. In a possible nod to The Undiscovered Country above:
        Chakotay: Reverse thrusters, full power!
        Kim: That'll tear the hull apart.
        Chakotay: Then tear it apart!

  • From Embers in the Dusk:
    • During the first Ork invasion, a decision is made to hold back the fleet and sacrifice the orbital defenses in a last stand. Naturally there is little point to keep all the safeties which prevent the need for repairs after every battle when this is the last one.
    • Jane's Last Hunters. Without the Emperor's expertise, the only way you can match Astartes augmentations is at the cost of two thirds of one's life expectancy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech has its 'myomer accelerator signal circuitry' (MASC for short), which will allow a 'Mech equipped with it to run faster than it normally could at a risk of suffering critical leg hits that goes up the longer it is used. The Supercharger works similarly (and can stack its effects with that of the MASC), but risks damaging the engine instead. And of course, BattleMechs not generously supplied with 'heat sinks' risk building up significant internal heat levels from simply moving about and using their weapons too often, which progressively impedes their performance and can in extreme cases lead to automatic emergency shutdowns, ammunition explosions, or microfusion core meltdowns. Triple Strength Myomers work as a Limit Break, as their increased strength only applies when the battlemech is nearing dangerous levels of heat; one lucky Inferno missile could send the heat spiraling out of control, resulting in a shutdown or internal ammo explosion (a Very Bad Thing).
    • There's also an optional rule that allows a player to overcharge a PPC. This gives them extra damage but instantly ruins the weapon, possibly causing it to explode as well. In the same vein, standard and light PPCs come with built-in field inhibitors that prevent feedback from the weapon, but impose a minimum range on the weapon. Disabling it ignores the to-hit modifier for minimum range, but brings the risk of feedback and weapon destruction if the target is too far away.
    • Also, quick-charging a Kearny-Fuchida drive. (This is seen more usually in the fiction, but the game has suitably advanced-level rules for the situation if it ever should come up in play.) Normally a JumpShip will leisurely unfurl a high-tech solar sail and use the energy from that to recharge its drive core over the course of a week or so, but in a pinch and with enough fuel it's theoretically possible to use its fusion power plant to do the job much faster. The reason this is generally considered a Dangerous Forbidden Technique is that said core is both incredibly sensitive and huge (most JumpShips are just a small bit of "extra starship" wrapped around theirs, in fact), so pushing its limits can cause anything from initially unnoticeable defects that will come back to bite the ship sometime in the future to more immediate charge loss and even fatal misjumps from which the ship fails to emerge in one piece or even at all.
      • The Lithium-Fusion Battery allows a second jump safely by storing another charge. However, it has its own variant; with both charges dumped in, a few minor tweaks to the drive allow a Jump of up to 900 light years instead of 30. The problem is, not only are the fatal malfunctions more likely, both the drive and the battery are only good for scrap afterwards.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons cosmology, "Positive Energy" makes the boo-boos go away — as long as you're not undead. However, on a Positive Energy Plane itself, unprotected living being first heals, then "heals" more, then overdoses and explodes like a firework, not even leaving any remnants to raise. Inert matter jumps right to the last stage, for that matter.
  • In Genius: The Transgression, a Genius can superchange any piece of technology, but doing so can result in heavy damage or even destroy it.
  • In GURPS: Ultra-Tech beam weapons can be set to fire "hotshots" at the price of gaining a ridiculous Malfunction rating. In High-Tech loading early firearms or any automatic ones with Extra-Powerful ammunition increases the risk of failure.
  • Fifth and Sixth Editions of the Hero System rules had the option of "Boostable Charges". You could pump extra power through a weapon (or any other power that could be bought with charges), but the more you did the greater the chance of burning it out.
  • In Paranoia, you can keep firing a laser pistol or rifle past its normal six-shots-per-barrel rating, but the chance of malfunction starts going up pretty quickly.
  • The Mechanic class in Starfinder can do this to powered weapons, creating a makeshift grenade by doing so.
  • In Star Fleet Battles, one of the Hydrans' heavy weapons, the fusion beam, can be overloaded for 1.5x damage. It also is capable of a "Suicide" overload that doubles the damage to the target in exchange for destroying the weapon and scoring an additional point of damage on the firing ship. X-ships have a similar ability to fast-load heavy weapons, but this can destroy them.
    • Also, Orion Pirate ships can temporarily double the power output of their warp engines, causing damage that reduces the engine power output afterwards.
  • Warhammer 40,000 does this multiple times, with both machines and living things — the Tyranids biologically "overclock" broods of monstrous mooks that are even more dangerous than normal, but die messily within minutes after being deployed, the Imperium's Eversor Assassin ramps up his metabolism to the point that his blood explodes if he dies. This is also represented in-game with "turbo-charged" Rhinos (which go faster, but may break), plasma weapons that can overheat (up to 4th Edition rules, they had a greater chance of overheating the more shots they fired), and in Dawn of War by supa-charging Ork Meganobz, making them go fasta but damaging them.
  • In Warhammer pretty much any Skaven "wonder weapon" tends to be souped-up equivalents of other races' weapons but with a higher chance to go wrong. They totallu embracing this trope with the ratling gun — a two (rat)man-portable multi-barreled rifle. You get as many shots as you roll on a dice and can either stop there,or roll again. And again. And again. But if at any time you roll the same number as one you rolled before then it has funny and most likely lethal consequences.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!,
    • There is a card called "Limiter Removal" that will double the attack strength of all Machine-type monsters on the field, destroying them all at the end of the turn.
    • Another such card called "Power Bond" is used as a fusion card for Machine-type fusion monsters; it doubles the ATK of the monster summoned by its effect, but the player of the card suffers damage equal to the original ATK of the monster summoned when the turn ends.
    • The trap card "Overworked" (pictured above) destroys all monsters with increased ATK.

    Video Games 
  • The Small Craft in Affordable Space Adventures has components that can operate up to a power level of 5, but 3 is the minimum safe power level. Running at 4-5 for too long can either blow a fuse temporarily shutting down the Small Craft, or straight up cause the Small Craft to explode.
  • A low-tech variant (albeit taking place in 2035): Dmitrii of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow uses his doppelgang-ing abilities to copy Soma's soul-absorption abilities. However, during the final showdown, his own soul is not strong enough to contain all of Soma's power and HIS HEAD A SPLODE!!!!!! Phlebotinum Breakdown ahoy!
  • Command & Conquer series:
    • The Mastermind tank of Yuri's faction in Yuri's Revenge can mind-control multiple enemy units, but if it takes control of more than three its health is gradually sapped from the strain.
      "Brainwave overload!"
    • In Command & Conquer: Generals the Chinese nuclear power plants can be forced to provide 50% more power, but you better get started building more because overloading the reactors leads to the building slowly destroying itself. This can even be used offensively, by hijacking opponents power plants and deliberately putting them into overload mode. When they blow, they'll contaminate a large area and damage any troops/vehicles in it.
    • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, many units, such as the Soviet Dreadnought or Kirov Airship can be ordered to fire their weapons faster or move faster, at the detriment of the unit's health.
  • In Dawn of War, Chaos can make their heretics (worker unit) work themselves to death, they work faster but will die pretty quick, best to use lots of them, you can always get another one.
  • Anybody that has played Descent knows that the Fusion cannon plays this one perfectly straight. While a decent if somewhat slow weapon normally, it can be charged for about 3 seconds for incredible damage; one ship can instakill anything with a fully charged fusion shot. Go beyond 3.5 seconds and you start taking damage, and the damage goes back to normal.
  • In Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Iinstalling too many Experimental augmentations can cause a lot of problems ranging from in-universe interface glitches to horrible backfiring. This can be mitigated by either disabling certain normal augs or by obtaining a Neuroplasticity Calibrator that allows Adam's surgeon to remove the limits completely.
  • The BFG 9000 from Doom≥ is a chargeable weapon with five levels. Level 1 will take out any zombies and low level mooks (like imps, wraiths and maggots) in the area and cost one BFG unit. Level 2 will include Revenants and Commando Zombies and take two units. Level 3 will take out Mancubi and regular Hellknights and take three units. Level 4 will kill anything short of bosses and take four units. Level 5 will explode the gun and kill the user and anyone nearby.
  • In Elite Dangerous, players can supercruise through the radiation beams on the poles of neutron stars to supercharge their Faster-Than-Light Travel drive, at the cost of internal damage.
  • EVE Online features a system called "Heat", whereby one can overload certain shipboard modules. The tradeoff for significantly improved performance is that the heat accumulation from running them like this for an extended period will damage the module and others adjacent to it, resulting in repair costs at the least, and inoperative modules if you overload it too long. Totally worth it if you know when to use it. This ability is made available by training the skill "Thermodynamics" which also reduces the heat produced by overloaded modules.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has special ammunition for energy weapons that are called Overcharged: they do extra damage and ignore large amounts of enemy DT but they put added strain on your gun (meaning it can be used less until it breaks) and you need to use a couple of ordinary energy cells/electron charge packs/microfusion cells to make overcharged ammo. They're best used when dealing with Elite Mooks and even then sparingly unless you're willing to fork out the extra caps for repairs and more expensive ammo The guns category has this too in the form of hand load bullets which pack much more punch but suffer the same issues stated above: more components needed to craft them and they burn through guns quickly.
  • In Fate Series, a Servant can overload their Noble Phantasm with prana and transform it into a Broken Phantasm, causing them to take a massive power hike in exchange for being lost. Given that most Servants only have between one to three Noble Phantasms (which are artifacts such as Excalibur), and Noble Phantasms represent the solidified history of each Servant the very idea is unthinkable.
    • In Fate/stay night, when Archer uses a Broken Phantasm against Berserker early on in the Unlimited Blade Works route, his Master Rin has a minor freakout because he seemingly destroyed one of his Noble Phantasms seemingly on a whim. He does this again when fighting Caster, using another Noble Phantasm very similar to the one he used against Berserker. As it turns out, Archer's true ability is Projection magic, which allows him to replicate other Noble Phantasms infinitely — this means that he can use Broken Phantasms as much as he wants with no loss to him, something very terrifying if other Servants knew about this. In fact, this is a necessity for him because the replicas are naturally inferior to the real deals and the overclocking is necessary to boost their power enough to match the originals.
    • Shirou can do the same thing, by overloading his Magic Circuits. When he makes a contract with Rin in the Unlimited Blade Works route, he is able to actualize his Reality Marble by taking in ten times his normal capacity; this allows him to beat up Gilgamesh, but after their fight he ends up temporarily paralyzed. When he gets Archer's arm in the Heaven's Feel route, he is able to flawlessly reproduce Noble Phantasms at the cost of nearly frying his brain every time.
    • In Fate/Grand Order, the Rider-class Servant Mandricado has this with his Noble Phantasm Serment de Durandal. He can imbue any weapon he gets a hold of with the power of the legendary sword Durandal, even if that "weapon" is just a wooden stick...but he can't copy Durandal's (unbreakable) durability. As a result, any weapon he uses inevitably ends up exploding from overuse, forcing him to get a new one.
      • This is also how Chen Gong's Noble Phantasm Two-Pronged Formation works. He deliberately overcharges an ally with mana so that they effectively become a living bomb while masking it as him firing an explosive arrow. In-game, this takes the form of an incredibly potent attack that sacrifices an ally.
  • Final Fantasy III: The Black Belt class has an ability to store energy to inflict massive damage. You can do this twice, but if you try on the third time, the monk has a good chunk of his/her health taken off.
  • Final Fantasy XII sees the Archadian Empire test the power of deifacted nethecite by putting it in a warship's boiler. It produces so much energy that not only does it blow out all the safety systems, they can't shut it off. A few minutes later, the warship blows up, taking the entire fleet surrounding it out with it.
  • In FreeSpace, the weapons on the GTVA Colossus are overcharged to the point that the beam emitters start melting in order to match the firepower of the Sathanas. As a result of both this and damage incurred to its armor, the ship was to spend the next few months drydocked for repairs (this was the ship the Alliance was hoping would Curb Stomp the opposing armies).
  • In Frostpunk, you can put your generator on overdrive to increase its heat output (great for getting through harsh weather or saving coal), but you can't keep it running like that forever. Should you let the generator overheat to 100%, you have a single opportunity to stop it from having a castrophic meltdown by either spending a precious and limited Steam Core or send a child to its certain death to fix it momentarily, causing ''massive'' damage to your Hope and Discontent levels. If you let it overheat a second time or don't bother fixing it the first time, the generator explodes. Game Over.
  • Averted in Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Firing a Proton Pack causes heat to build up inside the particle accelerator. Too much heat, and the pack goes critical with the force of several megaton bombs. The original 'packs had this problem, but the new, 1990 pack — a consequence of the Ghostbusters' new contract with the city — has a cut-out feature that shuts the pack down, allows it to cool, and restarts it about five seconds later. Of course, this is incredibly dangerous when you're surrounded by ghosts looking to take you out, so there's also a manual vent option, which has a cycle-time of about a second, making it the preferred option to usenote .
  • This is how Half-Life begins (We boosted the anti-mass spectrometer to 105% — bit of a gamble but we need the extra resolution...)
    • Half-Life also has the Gauss Gun, a prototype weapon that you can charge up for a more powerful shot. Attempting to charge it past its maximum power will make it explode, reducing its hapless user to Ludicrous Gibs. The player first gains the weapon after a security guard accidentally demonstrates this rather glaring design flaw, though how the gun remains usable is never explained.
  • In the Halo series, the plasma pistol can be "overcharged." This will overheat the weapon and gulp a disproportionate amount of battery power, but will short out any energy shields it hits.
    • And from Halo 3 onwards, holding it in overcharge slowly drains its battery.
  • Ikaruga: To defeat the Stone-Like, the Ikaruga deactivates its restraint devices to charge up a super-Beam Spam that will destroy the ship as well, and while it is charging, you are unable to fire and must dodge the boss's attacks for sixty seconds.
  • Kerbal Space Program: Cramming too many engines too close to one another and firing them all at full throttle is guaranteed to make them overheat rapidly. Let them get too hot, and all those engines will explode spectacularly.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Pit can only fly with the aid of a goddess, and the goddess can only maintain the power for five minutes at a time. Any longer, and Pit's wings will burn off. In Chapter 21, we see the nasty result of Pit overusing the Power of Flight, his wings burnt to a couple of boney stubs.
  • In the Marathon series, the fusion pistol can be overcharged similarly, but if it is overcharged for approx. one minute (only likely due to a stuck key as it beeps and shakes alarmingly for most of that time), it explodes, instantly killing the character regardless of health or invincibility. This was, however a very powerful and accurate attack if charged for 4-5 seconds, and can damage otherwise invincible enemies (in multiplayer).
  • And then there's the high explosive bullets for your sniper rifle in Mass Effect. Sure, you only get one shot before it overheats, but that one shot is a 4m radius explosion with the animation of a 10cm explosion. Nothing like watching a itty-bitty explosion sending a geth trooper flying, while being incinerated.
    • There's actually a couple more ways to overclock your weapons in Mass Effect, including installing a larger barrel in the gun. But the explosive rounds will make everything overheat almost instantly. Even the New Game Plus ultimate sniper rifle will overload after its second shot with the explosive rounds.
    • On the other hand, it finally means you have something close to Shepard's Cutscene Power to the Max Pistol Of Doom. Just pick your shots carefully.
    • Legion claims that overclocking is the Geth equivalent of performance-enhancing drugs, boosting capability at the risk of long-term damage. He does however note synthetics can repair overclocking damage far more easily than organics can recuperate from performance-enhancing drugs.
  • All Mechs in the MechWarrior game series have reactors that heat up as their capacity is used. If you overheat them a safety system will automatically shut them down, cooling them much faster than usual but disabling your Mech; after a few seconds, when the temperature is back to normal levels, the Mech powers up again and lets you keep going about your business. If you haven't been blown up yet, that is; as this usually happens in the middle of combat, a shutdown usually leaves you unable to move or attack right in front of your enemy, often with preditcably messy results. Which is why there's the option to override the shutdown procedure, and keep using the Mech — if nothing else to turn tail and run like hell — even as the reactor redlines. Overuse this option at your own risk, as severe abuse results in your Mech spontaneously blowing up from the inside.
    • In MechWarrior: Online the override works slightly differently, as it damages your mech for as long as the heat gauge remains above 100%. Not a good idea unless you just need one last shot...
    • Battletech allows you to redline your heat, but if you go over the "safe" heat level, it results in the 'Mech taking internal damage (meaning you will at least require some time in the repair bay after the mission, and worst case, a weak component could explode or the 'Mech could blow up, if the center torso is sufficiently damaged). If heat is maxed out, the 'Mech shuts down entirely, losing any defensive or evasion bonuses and allowing other pilots to make Called Shots on it, the same as if it was knocked down. Higher Guts ratings for pilots will result in a higher "safe" heat level, though the max will remain the same, and Gladiators (pilots that take the Master Guts skill) can use "Vent Coolant", which apparently expels a load of hot coolant to immediately reduce heat, but resulting in heat accumulation over the next three rounds (the ability is not lore-friendly, for what it's worth).
  • Medicalat is based on absorbing enemy bullets or enemies themselves, but overdoing it will make the weapon explode, costing you a health point and all power.
  • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Samus's Phazon corruption and PED suit allow her to overclock herself by sending her into Hyper Mode whenever she wants, which uses health as ammo and causes total corruption if she stays in it for too long. Strangely enough, there are some enemies that will induce this mode in Samus as a form of attack. The logic behind it is essentially taking an enemy that can already overpower herself and pushing the berserk button, on the off chance she'll lose herself in rage before she can blow your face off.note 
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Samus's Final Smash (while wearing her Power Armor) is "Zero Beam", which fires off a blast of energy powerful enough to destroy her suit afterwards. Instead of outright hurting her however, this just leaves Samus in her Zero suit.
  • In Persona 3:
    • Aigis (a robot girl) can go into Orgia Mode (releases the limiters on her body) for three turns, but after the three turns she requires a cool down period before being able to do anything.
    • In FES Metis (Aigis' robot sister) can stay in Orgia Mode for a significantly longer time.
  • In the climax of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, as Eothas attacks the Ukaizo Wheel to rob the Jerkass Gods of their power over mankind, he ensures the Wheel will be Deader than Dead by channeling every ounce of his divine power into his giant stone avatar to deliver blows so ludicrously powerful they actually blast chunks of said avatar off. The sheer amount of energy expended and damage taken by doing this ultimately kills him permanently, but it certainly gets the job done.
  • Quake's Thunderbolt gun + water = full discharge of cells and instagibbing of everyone in the vicinity including you.
  • In Robot Arena 2 you can attach motors to other motors to make weapons such as spinning blades spin faster. Due to a glitch with the physics engine (known as Havok Explosions), this can also result in the entire robot flying up into the air and bounce off of walls.
  • Li Kohran in Sakura Wars can do absolutely miraculous things with an iron/coal/steam technology base, but almost everything she makes beyond simple utilitarian items blows up after one incredibly successful use. Or during that use.
  • In Sonic Battle, the final boss is Emerl, who went absolutely insane and got overloaded with all of his ultimate skills, which cannot be done without cheats to raise the maximum Skill Point limit.
  • Star Trek Online has the bridge officer abilities Override Subsystem Safeties and Exceed Rated Limits from the Intelligence and Miracle Worker specializations, respectively. The former grants a massive boost to all current and maximum subsystem power levels. This boost decreases over time, and when it ends, a random subsystem is knocked offline. The later greatly accelerates the fire rate of energy weapons and negates the weapon power drain from firing them while afflicting the user with damage over time and an all-subsystem power drain.
  • In Team Fortress 2, apparently the Medic's ubercharge requires the implant of a mega baboon's heart because trying to use it on a normal heart will cause it to explode from the voltage from the machine that allows the subject to undergo the ubercharge's effect.
  • In Terminus, ships are given a rated maximum speed based on their relative hull strength. Smaller, sleeker ships can go faster, while the larger ships, with their heavier loadouts, are not nearly as quick. In an emergency, though, you can continue applying thrust, pushing your ship past its rated maximum. There's a marginal "safe" excess the ship can go, after which the hull stress will literally tear your ship apart. And don't even think about turning in this state, because trying to shift that excess momentum is deadly.
  • In Touhou Hisouten ~ Scarlet Weather Rhapsody (and its Expansion Pack Hisotensoku), Reisen Udongein Inaba has a move called "Patriot's Elixir" where she takes a swig of her master Eirin's shady new drug, granting a Status Buff to her attack and defense. The effects stack for each potion drunk, up to three; if she drinks a fourth, she explodes. This doesn't actually harm Reisen, but it can be devastating to her opponent. It's generally a really bad idea to do this since it makes her lose the effects of her Status Buff and the explosion is somewhat easy to avoid, but it could be useful as a surprise attack in the endgame when the loss of the buff won't make much of a difference.
  • A literal case in Tron 2.0 where Jet overclocks an archaic Encom mainframe to upload Ma3a to it in order to get her to relative safety. Said ancient mainframe does not survive for very long after he does this, forcing him and Ma3a to retreat to the open Internet.
  • Usable on many FPS weapons, but the strangest occurrence is the Mag 60 from Turok 2 onwards, which uses its alt-fire instantly, blasting an oil drum-sized hole in the torso of the enemy soldier and using 15 shots automatically. Despite that, it looks like a typical automatic handgun (resembling the Time Crisis guns but realistically painted, even with the same gunfire motion) and you pick up small boxes of bullets. So...what the hell is it? Note that there's a recovery time afterwards, while you can fire all 60 shots without reloading normally, meaning they must all be loaded in at once. It's pretty much nonsensical on all fronts.
    • In System Shock 2, The Argon Laser Pistol can be configured to fire in Overload mode. The same game also allows you to overload your brain when using the Psi Amp.
      • In the original System Shock, all energy weapons feature an "Overload" option, with the realization that the weapon will instantly overheat when fired (requiring two to four seconds before it can be fired again) and that it will take a large amount of your global energy to fire. Still, using the powerful Ion Rifle on overload will kill almost anything in one shot. The semi-secret, hard-to-find Plasma Rifle will kill anything in one overloaded shot.
    • Also, in the game Blood and its sequel, there's a Tesla Gun you can Overclock to shoot a much more powerful and ammo consuming shot with alternate fire, but you can't shoot it again in a few seconds afterwards, while in the normal shoot mode it shoots at automatic rate. It is powerful enough to kill even some Bosses in a few shots.
    • In Take No Prisoners, one of the last weapons is a Plasma Cannon that can be charged for more powerful shots at larger ammo costs. But if you charge it long enough, the gun explodes with you.
  • Overclocking the ARS in Vanquish by removing its limiters can have unpleasant effects on the user. In-game, if Sam takes too much fire from enemy troops, he passes out, and the suit's attempts to repair and compensate for the damage result in its engine overloading and exploding. Naturally, the final boss is too fast and requires the limiters to be removed so that Sam can match him, though it's strongly implied that this could straight up kill him if it's run for too long, and he does seem to have some difficulty recovering afterwards.
  • XCOM 2 features an interesting meta example: apparently, one of the developers was frustrated by long loading times and put in a shortcut to force the game to load everything required for the next scene in the space of a single frame by pushing the escape key. This feature was overlooked and made it into the final product undocumented, allowing players to use it as well. With a sufficiently powerful computer, this can reduce the game's load times to almost nothing. But with a less powerful computer, it will immediately crash the game as the engine tries to load all assets immediately and usually hits a buffer overrun or simply exceeds the memory limit.

    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: Betty does this to her cyberntic legs in "Confronting the Dark" as a last-ditch move to defeat the dragon she is fighting.
  • Given that their consciousnesses are literally running on computers, Holon pilots in gen:LOCK can overclock their brains to experience Bullet Time. The disadvantage is that this consumes uptime at an increased rate, shortening the time they can safely stay uploaded.

  • In Ctrl+Alt+Del, Ethan discovers that his computer has exploded. Naturally, he blames Ted (a penguin who couldn't have possibly done it), when a video recording suggests that Ethan most likely blew up the computer himself because he tried to water cool it with liquid nitrogen.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Damien does this to himself, increasing the intensity of his Wreathed in Flames ability to the point that he turned himself into an Action Bomb in an attempt to kill Grace.
  • Girl Genius, surprisingly for comics about mad scientists, doesn't use this frequently, but Agatha was shown skipping warm-up mode and go for full power while reactivating decrepit machinery, with expectable (and desired) results.
    • There's also the Smoke Knights' "Movit" potions. Movit #6 is the most potent one that your average schmuck can safely use; even Smoke Knights, whose training includes conditioning to be able to utilize the potions, tread carefully with the higher numbers. Zola (spoiler warning: not formally a Smoke Knight, but all family members have some level of the training) somehow managed to steal a vial of Movit #11, the most potent one period; it gives her a massive energy boost, but Violetta explicitly says that it'll kill her in short order as her body burns up from within. Later on, rather than outright poisoning Zola, Violetta chooses to inject her with more Movit #11 — which at that point is more lethal to her than any poison.

  • Largo from MegaTokyo is this trope personified. If he sees a computer, he will overclock it, and he will do it spectacularly. Even so, it should be noted that he takes measures to prevent it from exploding on its own: He wears "minimal clothing" while at the computer (if that), and he fills rooms with fans to prevent overheating. This may seem excessive, but his measures turn out to be Properly Paranoid: a single spark of static electricity has been shown to turn his systems into high-yield explosives.
    Piro: "Whenever you say that I end up having to hunt for fire extinguishers we haven't used up yet. Please tell me Ping isn't about to burst into flames."
    Largo: "Is bursting into flames the usual failure mode for one of these?"
    Piro: "No, but it's the usual failure mode for anything you touch."
  • A minor example in Misfile; James has challenged Ash to an endurance car race, going down the same stretch of road over and over until the person behind passes or the person in front pulls entirely out of sight. Ash plays it smart when it's his turn behind, keeping his distance so he can watch what James is doing and focus on driving well himself, only attempting to pass when he sees a real opening. James, on the other hand, lets his emotions get the best of him while behind, staying as close as possible and attempting to pass at every opportunity. This puts more stress on the car, wearing down his breaks and giving Ash a subtle but constantly growing advantage as the race goes on, until Ash is able to take advantage and pass James.
  • Dave from Real Life Comics has a tendency to be overzealous with his overclocks as seen here.
  • In Second Empire, Anzollo all but smashes his ship's gravitic lens to rip apart a pursuing Dalek force in a gravity pulse.
  • In Sequential Art Art manages to make his old computer explode by trying to run a game with too high minimum requirements here. Granted he's a Walking Techbane but he didn't know it back then.
  • Space Kid The titular Space Kid's strength-enhancing 'exo-suit' can be turned up to Overdrive to give him super-strength — but doing so causes the suit to instantly overheat and burst into flames within seconds.
  • Yehuda Moon & the Kickstand Cyclery: Arboritum, a super-light alloy that would be ideal for making bike frames if it didn't have a tendency to break under stress, normally resulting in severe injuries for the rider.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Sonic Breakout", Sonic uses this to destroy Robotnik's prison. Namely, he and Tails zip around the complex setting off every alarm and booby trap at once, causing the master computer to collapse from the stress of keeping up.
  • In Barbie and the Secret Door, this is how Malucia is defeated; Alexa lets her absorb all of her magic until the scepter explodes.
  • Played for Drama in the opening scene of Ben 10: Secret of the Omnitrix. In all three versions of the film's opening to boot. In the case of Heatblast and Eye Guy, they use their signature laser weapons to overload Dr. Animo's DNA bomb from de-evolutionizing all life on the Earth. The one featuring XLR8 as Ben's alien features the more traditional approach with Ben manually overloading Animo's bomb using his Super Speed to help. While the plan works, the bomb's reaction winds up activating the Omnitrix's self-destruct mode.
  • The El Mongo Stink Bomb from Ed, Edd n Eddy. Not only was it so big that it couldn't get out, the time ran out before Eddy and Ed could get it out.
    Beeping noises are heard
    Edd/Double D: Oh dear.
  • Futurama:
    • Subverted and mocked in "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" when, in an attempt to save the members of the Star Trek cast, Fry suggests they do a crazy reconfiguring of the ship like they had done on the fictional show in the past. Leela suggests shifting power around and reconfiguring the weapons to the villain's frequency to create an energy ray that may overload his quantum structure. Then there's a shot of Bender with a blow torch working on the ship, and after a few moments of work he says, "Ok. I'm done reconfooballing the energymotron, or whatever."
    • In "Overclockwise", Cubert overclocks Bender to increase his reaction speed in a video game, and Bender proceeds to increase his processing power until he becomes omnipotent but has to use Niagra Falls as a cooling system.
  • Subverted in an episode of Megas XLR. Megas' photonic stabilizer is damaged and in danger of exploding if Coop overworks Megas, and a fight breaks out while Coop is trying to find a new one. Just when Megas is on the edge, a "Eureka!" Moment provides Coop with a method of fixing the stabilizer, allowing Coop to resume fighting normally; duct tape. Played straight when the bad guy's mecha, which also had a stabilizer which Coop broke in the course of their battle, goes critical resulting in a rather spectacular explosion.
  • The 1937 Disney short Mickey's Amateurs includes a performance by "Bandmaster Goofy and his 50-piece band", which turns out to be a mechanical contraption that allows Goofy to play a banjo and assorted wind, brass, and percussion instruments. The machine functions well (mostly) for the easy-going "In the Good Old Summertime", but when he declares, "Okay, fellers! Let's get hot!" and cranks things up for "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight", the machine goes berserk, repeatedly mashing instruments into Goofy's face until it finally explodes in a shower of gears and drums.
  • In Mission Hill, Kevin uses his friend's computers to try and crack the SAT exams by finding the supposed repeating string of correct multiple-choice answers. His attempts to get more and more processing power out of them eventually causes them to explode.
  • The Rocko's Modern Life episode "Cabin Fever" features the titular wallaby and his friend Heffer trapped in a snowed-down cabin with the Bigheads (thanks to Ed) and Ed using a microwave as a radio transmitter to call for help, only to speak to a fast food employee who misconstrues Ed's cries for help for a patron ordering food. Outraged, Ed overloads the microwave, which causes it to literally blow up in his face.
  • In Superman: Red Son, Superman finds himself fighting Superior Man, a clone of Superman created by Lex Luthor, who has him attached to a power source that gives him his power. When Superman starts getting serious, Luthor ups Superior Man's power until the power source blows up. By this time, Superior Man has been turned into a deformed monster in serious pain and when the power source goes up, he finally dies.
  • In the pilot for Disney's TaleSpin, the Sea Duck was equipped with an Overdrive that made it jet-fast, but would fry the engines if used for long stretches. Was burned out for good after the fourth episode and never mentioned again. (Why Baloo didn't just have it replaced is never explained, but can be handwaved as Rebecca not knowing about it when she had the Sea Duck rebuilt after its destruction.)

    Real Life 
  • The ultimate real-life example of explosive overclocking (and possibly the original one) is the one machine/power supply that can be made to operate faster at increased risk of exploding, and even shakes, develops dangerous leaks, and sends dials into red zones as the danger point is reached: the steam engine, which makes this as close to Older Than Steam as possible without actually being so. A steam boiler is built to operate at a certain pressure. It can operate above this pressure by making the fire heating the water hotter. The risk is, because the boilers are intended to operate at a particular temperature, temperatures above that make the boiler weaken. At some point, the pressure becomes more than the boiler can stand, and... BOOM.
  • The folks over at Project E.U.N.U.C.H. and their remarkable accomplishment in accidentally overclocking a 25 MHz 486 SX chip to 247 MHz. Such things happen when tequila, vodka, and other hard liquors are used as a coolant for both computers and humans at the same time. Yes, it melted down quite spectacularly after boiling off the entirety of the alcohol (to the dismay of the testers) in approximately three minutes.
    • In fact, the main reason that PC hardware is less tightly coupled to clock speed these days than it was a few years ago is that continuing to increase chip clock frequency would eventually drive on-chip heat density higher than that of nuclear reactors, fusion warheads, and some lesser stars.
      • A good example is the canceled Intel Tejas. Tejas was supposed to be built on the Pentium 4 Prescott, which was already melt-your-PC hot. The highest stock speed for a Prescott chip was 3.8 GHz, while Tejas was supposed to start at 7 GHz. Thankfully, saner minds prevailed, and chip manufacturers instead decided to focus on cores, cache and architecture. To put in perspective, the heat density produced by a processor can be hotter than that of a clothing iron, which already is meant to vaporize water.
    • One computer-related real-life example of the "safety margin" effect is the RAID disk array: this model treats several discs as a single unit. A RAID can be configured to sacrifice disk space and performance to increase availability by effectively storing a second copy of everything across multiple discs, providing redundancy in case of drive failure, or it could be configured to increase performance and potentially storage,note  by combining two or more drives, but this runs the risk of allowing a failure on any drive to render the entire volume unusable. As is so often the case with computer technology, this risky method of optimizing performance has been largely superseded by the development of high-performance NvME SSD drives and the ever-decreasing cost of data storage, as well as the development of other RAID levels which provide redundancy and improved performance.
  • In 2004 a group of French Overclockers overclocked an AMD Duron CPU so hard it literally shot out of the socket, exploded, and blasted a hole in the motherboard.
  • Early attempts to use GSh-6-30 on aircraft (mainly MiG-27) suffered from the price of BFG's performance — vibrations caused by recoil, which proven to be too strong. This led to lots of various damages — from broken lights to breakages of various onboard devices to jammed gear doors to really wild cases, like failed locks causing spontaneous removal of the cockpit canopy, or unscrewing of the dashboard which then fell uselessly onto the pilotís lap. In short, bursts longer than half-second shook planes so hard they just gradually fell apart, until either they were out of ammo, failed to shoot any more or gun overheat exploded ammo. It got better in CIWS, of course. Oddly enough, ships weighing thousands of tons are able to absorb the vibrations with no difficulty.
    • The M61 Vulcan, its nearest US equivalent, caused similar problems when first fitted to the F-4 Phantom. That wasn't really the gun's fault though, as the Phantom was originally designed at a time when aircraft designers were convinced that guided missiles would render cannon obsolete for air-to-air combat. Vietnam proved them wrong at considerable cost and a crash program to retrofit them was ordered. It surely cannot have helped that the only place anyone could think of to mount the gun was directly under the cockpit, separated from lots of delicate instrumentation and sensors by not much more than a few layers of hull plating.
  • Any pulse power device that can survive it at all. For instance, the "100 Tesla Multi-shot Magnet" at Los Alamos Pulsed Field Facility can produce a 100 Tesla field... "although the equipment is only rated for a 85 Tesla safe user operation". And when such powers are considered, "above safe limit" usually means "you want to stand behind a really good concrete wall".
  • The more energy a chemical battery can store, the more energy it can release... sometimes explosively. Exploding lithium ion laptop batteries got a lot of press in 2006; the cause in most of those cases was metal impurities inside the batteries causing a short circuit.
    • Lead-acid batteries can explode when overcharged; overcharging electrolyzes the water inside them, creating free hydrogen. All you need then is a spark... and it is a battery, after all. Many other battery types, including lithium-ion, can also explode due to overcharging, although they commonly incorporate safety features (or "smart chargers") to prevent this.
    • Metal-cased lithium-ion cells are relatively tame. You can get them to blow if you really try (by, say, puncturing them), but they have passive internal protection that'll kill them harmlessly if excessive pressure forms inside them. In contrast, lithium-polymer cells meant for radio-control models are insanely dangerous, not having any safety whatsoever. Shorting, overcharging, overdischarging, puncturing, bending... all activities that can cause them to emit a foot-long jet of flame that you can't extinguish with water or normal fire extinguishers (the only good ways of killing a lithium fire is to smother it with dry sand or using a Class C fire extinguisher).
  • The first axial turbojet engines, which were developed in wartime Germany. By 1944 Germany was on its way losing the war, and needed new super weapons and fast, so Emergency Fighter Programme was set in. Axial turbojets were chosen because while they were at the time experimental technology, it was possible to squeeze out more power from them than from centrifugal turbojets favoured by RAF. Unfortunately that came on price on reliability — the lifespan of Junkers Jumo 004 engine used on Messerschmitt Me 262 was 25 hours before it was ready for scrapping, and many engines simply exploded in take-off, where they were revved to full power, or mid-air in emergency situations. Conversely, the contemporary British Rolls-Royce Derwent engine, used on Gloster Meteor, has service-overhaul cycle of 3000 hours.
  • While probably not creating a higher risk of explosion than normal, a MiG-25's engines could be convinced to propel the plane to Mach 3.2, which is and was comfortably higher than any combat plane field save for the YF-12. The downside? This would bypass the fuel pumps, resulting in the loss of any throttle control, and would also more than likely start expelling important bits of engine, rendering it an "Oh, Crap!" contingency rather than a viable tactic. It was, however, sufficient to convince NATO that the Soviets had produced some sort of superpowered fighter jet, rather than a really heavy plane with really big engines.
  • War emergency power was like this, though its short duration made it work more similar to a Nitro Boost, unless you really wanted to damage the engine. The modern equivalent, afterburners, also merit a mention here as well as under Nitro Boost; they use several times as much fuel as full military power and paint the infrared equivalent of a bullseye on the aircraft in return for a large burst of extra thrust.
    • Water-Methanol Injection on supercharged engines. They add up speed momentarily when needed — such as for a heavily loaded van when overtaking a semi on the road — but when used continuously, will damage the pistons.
  • The amateur car tuning scene is all about this trope. You can significantly increase the horsepower of your ride if you're willing to spend a good deal of money and risk voiding the warranty. Performance tuning can be as simple as hacking into the engine CPU (e.g. to force an increase in the amount of fuel injected into the cylinders during each cycle) or as complicated as replacing pistons, installing ram air vents or even tossing in a nitrous oxide injection system. As can be expected, this significantly increases the temperatures and pressures involved — and not every engine is capable of functioning so far beyond its design specs, which is where the term explosive comes into play...note 
    • Boost controllers are notorious for this. These simple, cheap devices allow one to adjust the maximum boost of a turbocharger by turning a knob. As these can be used without upgrading engine internals to handle this extra pressure, it's very tempting and easy to increase boost pressure to a point well above what the engine can handle resulting in catastrophic failure.
      • In motorsports, an engine that sacrifices reliability for extra power, like the above example, is called a "hand-grenade engine" due to their likelihood of exploding into any number of pieces from the excessive pressure. The kings of these were the turbo Formula One engines in the 1980s: for qualifying, they would ramp the boost up to ridiculous levels on sacrificial engines, often getting twice the horsepower they would normally make during a race. Power outputs in qualifying trims were so powerful, the mechanics had to guess how powerful the engines are because the dyno's of that era can't measure anything above 1000 horsepower, with the most powerful engine of the original turbo era (BMW M12/13) allegedly produces up to 1500 horsepower. The price for this kind of power? An engine with a lifespan of something like four laps, which averages out to between eight or ten minutes of driving.
    • Tractor Pulling is a very specialized form of drag racing where the goal is to get as much torque as possible, resulting in very large, very powerful engines, and many explosions.
    • Regular drag racing isn't far behind. At the top-tier levels, a race can be over in as little as 4 seconds. This means there's no need to try and build an engine for longevity. Dragster engines are intended to put out as much power as they can as fast as possible, and many are literally flying apart from the stress as they're crossing the finish line, if not sooner.
    • Well known by mechanical engineers, but usually disregarded by common people: increasing the rpm of a given engine is always much more dangerous than increasing the power by turbocharging or supercharging. If the amount of air and fuel sucked by the engine each cycle is increased, it only increases the compressive load on the piston and con rod by a tolerable amount, while giving horsepower. On the other side, increasing the engine rpm would result in a gigantic inertial load on the piston and con rod and break them explosively when a certain threshold is attained.
    • The Mazda rotary engines, well known for their weird Wankel design with Spectacular Spinning, is capable of reaching ridiculously high revolution speeds for its size, approaching motorcycle engines that are a fraction of its size. The 13B engine mounted in the Mazda RX-8 is capable of reaching well above 9000 RPM, but the engineers had to limit it to 9000 to prevent it from causing the clutch plate from explosively disintegrating, shredding the driver and passenger's feet with metal shrapnel in the process. Modifying the ECU can get around this restriction, but carries the high risk of explosive failure if using the standard clutch.
      • And god help you if one of the ball bearings in the engine fails: regardless of overclocking or not, if the engine rotor goes off-track as a result, the entire engine will seize almost immediately, and all of that rotation energy will go right through the hood.
  • Oliver Ackermann of the guitar effect pedal company Death by Audio got his start trying to upgrade distortion pedals he felt weren't "extreme" enough, and ended up designing pedals with radically different circuitries from typical mainstream manufacturers. Said distortion pedals can, if you're not careful, actually blow out and damage your amplifier, fulfilling both Overdrive and Explosive Overclocking simultaneously.
  • The human body itself has this in a fashion; when the "fight or flight" instinct kicks in, the body releases massive amounts of adrenaline. This allows ordinary schlubs to pace Olympic sprinters, lift/push something a dozen times their own weight, keep running from something chasing them long past when they should have collapsed from exhaustion, and in some rare cases even see things in slow motion and high detail that would make Hollywood special effects artists faint. Of course, the body isn't like this all the time because it tends to tear muscle and sinew, break bones, dislocate joints, cause heart attacks, etc. Similarly, cortisol, the other fight-or-flight hormone, is necessary to aid in metabolism when under short-term stress, but chronic elevation causes muscle wasting, osteoporosis, immune system suppression, and cancer.
  • An old programmer's joke: the "HCF" machine-language instruction causes a computer to Halt and Catch Fire. Never intentionally designed into any real CPU, but has been known to appear as a consequence of insufficiently defensive hardware design and/or abuse of factory test mechanisms.
  • This was a design flaw in the RBMK Nuclear Reactor. When the control rods, used to slow the reaction down, were inserted, it had the effect of slowing down neutrons, increasing the chances of fission. This means that for a brief moment, control rods would increase the output power of the reactor. When Chernobyl operators running a test saw the reactor producing too much power, they inserted the control rods thinking it would slow the reaction down. Only, this increased the power output to explosive levels.
    • The Chernobyl reactor also had a construction defect in this system. To prevent the channels for the emergency shut down rods being full of water (light water dampens this type of reactor) the portions of the rods in the reactor during normal operation were graphite, with the damping material above that to be pushed in. The construction flaw was that the graphite portion was too short, leaving a foot of water at the bottom. Inserting the rods actually made the bottom of the reactor hotter for the ten seconds it took to get them in, and the reactor was already boiling at this point.
    • Yet another example of this came into play at Chernobyl, when the reactor crew were trying to reduce its power levels to about 25% of its normal output for a safety test, but due to either operator error or equipment malfunction, the reactor ended up dropping to only 1% power. A build-up of reaction by-products made it impossible to safely raise the power to the required level in any reasonable amount of time, so the crew removed almost all of the control rods in an effort to get things going again. This meant that when the by-products eventually did get burned off by the increasing reaction rate, the lack of control rods allowed the power level to skyrocket. And then, as described above, reinserting all the rods at once just made things go catastrophically From Bad to Worse.
  • In a normal immune system reaction, cytokines signal T cells and macrophages to attack an infection and produce more cytokines in a controlled manner. In a cytokine storm, that control fails and your immune system goes berserk, producing and signalling more and more cells, causing damage to healthy tissue in the process. It can kill otherwise healthy individuals, which is believed to be why such people died in the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.
  • Most turbine engine systems have governors that control the maximum speed they can be pushed to; this reduces wear and tear and allows them to be reliable over the long term. In military ones, such as aboard a gas turbine or nuclear steam turbine warship, these governors can be disabled, resulting in a setting called "War Short". War Short provides greatly increased power at the cost of the turbine accruing hundreds of hours of normal wear and tear per minute. Most engines will tear themselves apart within twenty minutes.
  • This is possible to pull off in Airsoft, with both AEGs and gas powered systems. With AEGs, you can increase the rate of fire to ridiculous levels through various means, from swapping over to a higher-voltage battery, to actively opening up the gearbox and tinkering. In both cases, increasing rate of fire also decreases the lifespan of the gearbox, and if you overdo it, you could potentially cause one of numerous failures: burning out the motor, stripping either the gears or piston teeth, shattering the piston head or even breaking the gearbox frame. With gas powered systems, using different gases at different pressures, and adjusting the cycle rate, can increase power and rate of fire, but unlike AEGs, which again, mostly shortens the lifespan, screwing around with gas powered systems can result in everything from busted seals, to ruined reservoirs, and even the thing shattering under the pressure. Using CO2 in a gun designed for HFC is probably going to blow up in your face. Possibly in a much more literal manner than you'd like. Old KSC submachine guns like the Ingram M11 and Steyr TMP are particularly notorious for this reason.
  • For a lot of DC motors, especially cordless drills, you can just slap a higher voltage battery into it. This makes it run faster, and while it probably won't explode, it heats everything up incredibly quickly, and will burn the motor out, and potentially give the user some nasty burns as well.
  • This is the reason why wheelslip is so dangerous for steam locomotives; wheelslip occurs when the force to the driving wheels overcomes the friction of the wheels on the track, resulting in the wheels spinning at a high rate of speed but the locomotive not moving much at all. Usually, these speeds go past the locomotive's designs specifications, and if not corrected, can result in the driving rods and pistons literally tearing themselves apart while moving. Diesel locomotives aren't immune either, wheelslip on them will cause their traction motors to burn out/explode in short order.
  • Ironically, this trope applies to actual explosives, too, due to how nitrogen chemistry works. Simply put, the more nitrogens you cram into a molecule compared to stabilizing atoms like carbon and hydrogen, the more powerful the explosive — but also the more sensitive they get. The ultimate example of this is azidoazide azide,note  which by cramming fourteen nitrogen atoms and only two carbon together achieves extremely impressive energy densities but will fly apart at the slightest provocation. Or no provocation at all.


Video Example(s):


Flying Mansion

Using his electronic carpets, Professor Nimnul attempted to rob a mansion party. Unfortunately, the Rescue Rangers had nailed the carpets to the floor, so Nimnul decided to increase the power. This inadvertently caused the carpets to raise the entire mansion, which then began chasing Nimnul's van.

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Example of:

Main / StealTheSurroundings

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