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Rank Inflation

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Cassia: Jeez, dude... I mean, really? Really? If you're gonna waste time playing video games instead of doing your job, I at least expect you to beat my high score.
Mook: I only missed the A rank by 500 points!
Cassia: It goes up to triple-S.
Mook: (horrified) Triple-S...?

In video games, rather than mark the player on a simple success/failure scheme, it is common to give the player some kind of rank (e.g. bronze, silver and gold medals, or grades A+ to F-), depending on their performance. This allows casual players to coast through and simply get the bare minimum required to pass, while those who want a challenge can aim for the gold medals.

But then what about the players who are really looking for a challenge for whom mere golds aren't enough? The solution — give them platinum medals to aim for. A-grade not good enough for you? Go for A+, or S.note  Sometimes, even these inflated ranks are subject to inflation, with A being about average and the real goal being a higher S rank: SS or even SSS.

Compare Harder Than Hard, Random Power Ranking, Score Screen, Pinball Scoring, Serial Escalation. When it's a reviewer doing this, it's Broke the Rating Scale. Contrast with its inverse, F--.

No relation to Ridiculous Future Inflation.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Fairy Tail has a version of this. Normal jobs are just jobs. No ranking whatsoever. There are really tricky ones who are ranked "S" though due to being considered difficult enough that only a guild's S-Class Wizards are allowed to take them. Later, to make the Fairy Tail guild's Gildarts Clive seem that much cooler, they say he can also take "SS" jobs, and was assigned something even more impressive: "The 100 Years Quest", so named because no one has ever managed to complete it in 100 years (and almost none of them managed to come back alive). Unfortunately, he failed because of outside circumstances and had to go home. The interruption was the most powerful dragon in the world tearing out an arm, a leg, and some of his innards in one instant, faster than he could react. The actual specifics of said 100 Years Quest is revealed in the sequel, where the quest well-deserves its title because it involves defeating five dragons nearly as strong as said most-powerful dragon.
  • Food Wars!: At Totsuki Academy, assignments are graded on a scale of A (excellent) to E (failure). Chef Chapelle (notorious for giving any assignment not worthy of an A an E) gives Soma and Tadokoro's first assignment an A, and regrets that he doesn't have the authority to give them a higher grade.
  • In the first season (the only one to use power levels/ranks) of Jewelpet, the regular ranks are, in crescent order, Acrylic, Glass and Crystal. When Opal got introduced, it also introduced the Super Crystal rank, in order to emphasize how powerful she is. Only two other Jewelpets are ranked so (the newborn Labra and Ruby after undergoing Training from Hell).
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure ranks aspects of stands from E to A for things like Strength, Range, Learning (user's ability to fully exploit their stand's powers) and such. The scale isn't weighed on too heavily in the series, but in one notable exception, Giorno Giovanna's Gold Experience Requiem is so powerful that its attributes are literally ALL ranked "unknown", as it is simply impossible to rank such vast powers off the scale. To put things into perspective, Gold Experience Requiem's power is so overwhelming that he could beat practically anyone from any other series/reality (short of a Reality Warper and even then, that's debatable) simply because he can nullify any attack/move that his opponent makes and has what is essentially a One-Hit Kill.
  • In Kiddy Grade, the Nanomachines-based superpowers are ranked by class: C (Copper) is the lowest, S (Silver) is high, and G (Gold) is the highest. The protagonists of the show are C class but actually, they are G class, just suppressing their powers along with hurting memories that come with them. Their Da Chief is also G class, by the way.
  • The magical power scale used in Lyrical Nanoha: there's F for those without any magic power, and then E- for those with a bit, going up with plus and minus qualifiers through the alphabet until rank A, which is considered the elite, and going further to AA, then AAA, then S, SS, and SSS. The difference between AAA and AAA+ is canonically pretty substantial, which makes most of the cast of the first two seasons (who are estimated to be in the AAA ranks at the time) quite powerful, because of this the next season had Power Limiters become a major element of the story.
    • Mage Rank covers skill, not just power. In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, Teana holds Rank B, however, she demonstrates the ability to create spells (specifically, the Variable Bullet) that are normally used by Rank AA mages.
    • Which is why Yuuno, despite being Non-Action Guy, The Medic, and a Stone Wall, is an A-ranked mage. This rank relative high even in universe, for example; Uno, Due, and Sein of the Numbers and Ginga Nakajima) are A-ranked, and pretty strong.
    • Interestingly, while the SSS rank exists, no known mage actually has that rank. The highest ranked mage that is known is StrikerS-era Hayate at SS, and she's got the full strength of the Book of Darkness behind her (though, admittedly, not a whole lot of skill). What a SSS rank would be capable of, then, is a scary thing to think about. Whether anyone has ever achieved SSS rank has yet to be revealed, though the very existence of the rank would seem to imply that someone at some point must have. Otherwise why not just make SS the top of the scale? Fans have thus had a field day speculating about whether big-name figures from the verse's distant past (particularly Sankt Kaiser Olivie Sägebrecht) might have been SSS rank.
    • Fate's mother Precia, the villain of the first season, also has her rank given as SS in supplementary materials, and unlike Hayate her power is entirely natural. This can actually be seen fairly well in the series itself, as she was able to cast a spell powerful enough to disable a spaceship while she was in another dimension, which is quite possibly the single most impressive feat of magic in the entire series. And this was after decades of suffering from an Incurable Cough of Death and insanity from desperation to revive Alicia.
  • Ninja missions in Naruto are ranked anywhere from D (picking up trash, catching stray cats) to S (there's a very high chance you'll die.)
    • There was some confusion (and a bit of a Hatedom) when the third Databook came out and the mission to capture or kill Akatsuki members Hidan and Kakuzu- S-Class criminals- was classified as an A-Rank mission, the same as Team 7's first big mission against the weaker duo of Zabuza and Haku. The reason, however, was that missions are ranked not just by difficulty of the task but also the strength of the ninja assigned to the task; in this case, one had a team of three fresh Genin and a slightly out-of-shape Jounin, the other involved teams of seasoned Chuunin and a more in-shape Jounin with another such group behind them as back-up.
    • More typical Rank Inflation has been going on with the strength of jutsu: it starts with E (basic academy stuff like untying ropes, body replacement, One Thousand Years of Death) and goes up to S (which includes bringing one person back to life at the cost of another, making something get hit by a real lightning bolt, and regenerating all the parts of your body including organs), but recently even S rank attacks have been ineffective. In something of a subversion, more powerful attacks continue to be introduced, but new ranks have not.
      • Jutsu are not ranked by strength, but difficulty; Kakashi's Raikiri, for example, is the same strength as Kakuzu's Raiton: Gian, yet that is B-Rank while Kakashi's is S-Rank. Higher ranked jutsu are obviously as powerful as they are difficult -it would be a waste of time learning them otherwise- but there are easier jutsu to learn that are just as strong and useful. There are also several powerful jutsu that are not learned, but derived from unique bloodline traits, such as Amateratsu, Tsukuyomi and Susanoo, which are jutsu unique to the Mangekyou Sharingan, and in and of themselves don't require any skill to use, though they do require practice to perfect.
      • Usually, the stronger jutsus are either forbiddennote  (i.e. the first incarnation of "Fuuton: Rasen Shuriken"), or new/not heard of, so they can't be easily categorized.
    • Internationally wanted ninja criminals or "missing-nin" are referred to as "S-class" (including everyone in Akatsuki), though there has been no indication of lower ranksnote  or this applying to non-criminals.
    • In the Naruto D20 there are also Super-S class jutsus, which are usually forbidden as well.
  • The Negima! Magister Negi Magi manga alludes to a ranking system for combat Mages which promptly falls into this, with ranks going from an unspecified low end up to SA. The only AAA ranked fighter so far (Fate), apparently has a power level of around 3000, with Negi being at around 500 (an A class), and later 2600 or so. Naturally, soon afterward this turns out to be the low end of the spectrum, with Rakan ranking the demon from Kyoto at 8000 (and by extension Evangeline is at least 8000, probably higher) and himself at 12,000. Oh, and Fate is likely over 8000 as well. Then you have Nagi and the Lifemaker, who are both more powerful than Rakan. Of course, Rakan made up the Power Levels himself, and Chisame points out how arbitrary it is. But it doesn't change the fact that the Combat Rankings don't really mean much.
  • Connoisseurs in Pokémon the Series: Black & White are ranked from C-Class to S-Class, with Cilan and Burgundy being A-Class and C-Class, respectively. It's Cilan's goal to reach S-Class.
  • Tokyo Ghoul has Ghoul Threat Ratings and Ghoul Investigator Ranks, which are roughly equivalent to each other according to Word of God.
    • C-rate Ghouls, considered incredibly weak.
    • B-rate Ghouls and Junior Rank Investigators (Ranks 1 - 3) possess moderate strength, and are roughly equal to each other. The average Mook is from this ranking.
    • A-rate Ghouls are considered Dangerous predators, and equal in strength to a senior First Class Investigator. They serve as the Elite Mooks of the series.
    • S-rate Ghouls are high-level threats and serial predators, equal to the senior Associate Special Class Investigators.
    • S+ rated Ghouls are extremely dangerous, equal in strength to the elite Special Class Investigators.
    • SS-rate Ghouls are beings of abnormal strength, typically leaders of major groups or otherwise possessed of extreme abilities. An entire team including at least one Special Class Investigator are suggested for hunting them.
    • SSS-rated Ghouls, the rarest and most dangerous beings. Only two characters in the series hold this rank, being the Big Bad and Big Good, respectively. Operations to challenge them are the largest in scale, often making use of an entire squad of Special Class Investigators and the best equipment available.
  • In Toriko, the Garagara Gator, being capture level 8, was considered a big deal. Then the Troll Kongs are shown to be level 9. In the next chapter, the Puffer whales are capture level 30.
    • Note that capture level refers to how easy it is to retrieve an edible sample; there are many fragile but harmless ingredients with high capture level, like the aforementioned Puffer Whales, which are like Fugu, but improperly removing the poison bladder make the whole body poisonous, and is located in a different spot in each one.
    • Also note that Capture Levels can also refer to the overall power of an ingredient, since the more powerful creatures tend to be proportionately harder to catch, hence powerful creatures always receive Capture Levels equivalent to ingredients whose Capture Levels are related to the environments they are found in.
      • In the Gourmet World, on the other hand, the lowest Capture Levels are at least 100, which is equivalent to the Four Beast, the ingredient with the highest Capture Level in the Human World... Which is only based on its four "bodies", as the real Four Beast has a Capture level in the mid 300s and kept on increasing beyond that. The Eight Kings of the Gourmet World? Their Capture Levels are in the 6000s, or on the precipice of it at least.
  • Power levels of demons in YuYu Hakusho are ranked from D to S. However, anything above B is exceedingly rare (Toguro, one of the strongest beings, was a B class demon). Anything higher than a 'C' is too powerful to travel between worlds; higher ranks were either from Earth originally (like Toguro) or started lower and trained themselves up on this side. Demons of each rank are progressively rarer, and at one point, it's stated that only one out of one hundred C class demons even has the potential to reach B class. Thanks to the plot we see many more A and S rank demons than their rarity would suggest (although this arc takes place in the demon world, and is presumably every demon of that rank; mere thousands out of billions).
    • It is also worth noting that S Rank is actually a very broad spectrum that basically just means "Stronger than A". One demon notes that "S Rank" is a Spirit World codeword for "demons too strong for us to deal with." The three rulers of the demon realm consider it a grave insult, as they are grouped in the same class with their foot soldiers and servants, despite being leagues above them in power. There is also the category of "Upper S class", which is often used for the strongest S class demons such as the three kings and Raizen's friends. Some have even suggested that Raizen in his prime was in a class of his own, "SS" or "Super S" class.
  • Also used in Zoids: New Century Zero. Other Zoids series? Not so much.
  • A meta-example: Zettai Ryouiki is categorized into "Grades". Grade F encompasses ankle socks (ye Gods! Why would anyone bother?!), Grade E includes socks 16 cm high from the shoes (the standard), Grade D is 26 cm high, Grade C is 35 cm (but not above the kneecap), Grade B is 50 cm, and Grade A is 57 cm high ("the one sock to rule them all", as some put it). While the lowest Grades are usable by any gender, the top two are Always Female by definition. The highest level of all, however, is Grade S, which includes 57 cm high socks/stockings, Tsundere attitude, and twin-tail hairstyle (so far, only a good half-dozen characters have qualified for Grade S). Refer to this article for more info.
    • Some of these characters include Rin Tohsaka (the inventer), Sion Eltnam Atlasia and Kokoa Shuzen.

  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero Tsuruya gave an S rank to Kyon's speech when she asked him if she should learn about the supernatural in the SOS Brigade.
  • In the Daria/Legion of Super-Heroes crossover series Legion of Lawndale Heroes, the myriad powers are ranked on what's known as 'the Claremont-Byrne scale' (an obvious Shout-Out to one of the writers' favorite series). The C-B scale is based partly on the power scales used in the X-Men films (Classes One through Five), with an series of levels within each class (Marginal, Low-grade, Mid-range, High, and Extreme).
  • A Growing Affection takes the normal E-S ranks, and adds an "X" rank for missions and Bingo book entries. "X" rank is described as requiring the resources of two or more of the great villages.

  • In A Christmas Story, Ralphie daydreams that his teacher is so bowled over by his essay that she ecstatically awards him an A++++ while his classmates cheer. When Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs, he gets a C+ and a comment that he'll shoot his eye out.note 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: S.H.I.E.L.D. uses a numbered classification system, with the mere existence of the higher levels being a secret to lower levels. That on its own would raise eyebrows, but they keep adding levels, declassifying the current highest levels only to add more classified ones on top. In the Item 47 short, Level 6 is officially the highest level, but Coulson is level 7. By Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Coulson is level 8, Fury is level 10, and no one is supposed to know about anything above 7. In a flashback in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (when Coulson and May were fresh out of training), it was implied that anything above level 3 was unknown. After Winter Soldier, Coulson eventually gave up.
    Coulson: I got rid of the levels. They were stupid anyway.

  • Espers in A Certain Magical Index are ranked from Level 0 (unusably-weak powers that can only be detected with special equipment) to Level 5 (One-Man Army, only seven currently in existence). The top Level 5 esper (Accelerator) is stronger than all the other Level 5s put together, and claims that the only reason he's not ranked higher is because that's the highest the scale goes. Then the theoretical Level 6, aka "SYSTEM", is introduced, defined as an esper who gains such mastery of the world around them that they "grasp the designs of God". No esper has yet reached that level, but Academy City's best simulations projected that it was possible.
  • The hero of Decline and Fall applies for a job as a teacher and asks why the school that hires him is graded as just "School". The recruiter explains that there are four grades: Leading School, First-Rate School, Good School, and School. "Frankly, 'School' is pretty bad".
  • In Discworld there are eight levels of wizardry recognised by Unseen University, but some foreign wizards try to make themselves look good by inventing extra levels, sometimes as high as 23. (This is actually a Retcon to explain why a foreign wizard in The Colour of Magic described himself as level 15).
  • Haruhi Suzumiya joked about this in its first chronological episode, when Taniguchi ranked every Freshman girl from D to A. His favorite (Asakura Ryoko) was ranked AA+.
  • The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious: All worlds that need to be saved are ranked by letters to denote the difficulty of the task. It's also possible for the difficulty rank to increase if the Demon Lord of that world successfully conquers it.
  • It has happened to naval classification in the Honorverse. Battleships were originally the biggest and most powerful hyper-capable warships there were, until the invention of large, more powerful Dreadnoughts and Superdreadnoughts. Why the classification of "battleship" didn't simply grow upward (since DNs and SDs are similarly armed to BBs, just carrying more weapons and more armor, at least until the evolution of the Pod Superdreadnought) is unknown.
    • Out of universe, for the first few books and the prequels B Bs, D Ns, and S Ds are equivalent to 3rd, 2nd, and 1st rate warships in the Napoleonic Wars.
  • The Lensman series, as essentially the prototype for much space opera and military science fiction that came later, had rank inflation in ships right from the start of the genre: the Galactic Patrol had ships ranging from scout ships to battleships, then apparently skipped dreadnoughts to go straight to super-dreadnaughts. Later in the series came maulers, massively-powerful but ponderous warships. Then followed shortly by super-maulers, the super-maulers designed to try and counter the ultimate level in warships that emerged in the eponymous Lensman Arms Race, heavily armed and armoured mobile planets.note 
  • The Others (latent and practicing mages) in the Night Watch (Series) are placed into seven categories from the weakest (seventh) to the strongest (first). And then, there are practicing mages who considerably exceed the requirements of the first category, who are dubbed "mage/sorceress beyond categories" or "Grand Mage/Sorceress".
  • Similar to the Honorverse example above, Perry Rhodan added "super-" (diameter 1500 m) and "ultra-" (2500 m) battleships added to a roster that had previously topped out at just plain battleships (800 m) fairly early in the series. That said, the trend stopped there — what few larger ships came into being later were generally one-of-a-kind designs — and there were some in-universe centuries between the two additions. (The "original" super-battleship, the Veast'Ark/later Titan, was still brand new along with her type in 1984; the first "ultra" model, the Crest III, made her first appearance in early 2404.)
  • During a trip to an amusement park, Shana of Shakugan no Shana uses her powers to cheat at a swordfighting virtual reality game, maxing out the score counter and earning a rank of SSS.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: This happened thrice-over with the classification system in the backstory. Originally, it was simply ranked as "Novice < Beginner < Intermediate < Advanced System"; but "Advanced System" was deemed too vague and so it was reorganized as "F < E < D < C < B < A" where Advanced System was split into C, B, and A class. Then people realized that still wasn't good enough and added in "A < Special A < S < Special S" to better separate the real monsters while giving these ratings the special monikers of "Hazard", "Calamity", "Disaster", and "Catastrophe" respectively, further adding "-" and "+" modifiers to all the tiers for even better classification. "Special S+" class can basically be summed up as "could break the planet like an egg if they go on a temper tantrum".
  • The Machineries of Empire: In Revenant Gun, faced with a major rebellion and the assassination of the old Kel military command, Four-Star Badass Kel Inesser is promoted to the new top rank of "Protector-General". Justified because Kel soldiers are mentally conditioned to obey superior officers.

    Live Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, thanks to its video game aesthetic, uses numerical Character Levels to rank the Riders' different forms. Level 1 is a Super-Deformed state that's somewhat weak but serves a very important purpose (separating The Virus from its human carriers), Level 2 is their normal combat formnote , Level 3 is their first upgrade, and Level 5 is the Co-Op Multiplayer power-up shared between the four main Riders. Things start jumping around from there: Level X/Ten has theoretically unknown power, the protagonists end up getting Level XX/Twenty, 50, and 100 Super Modes, one antagonist gets a Level 99 form, and the Big Bad and The Hero's ultimate form don't even bother with levels since they're In-Universe Game Breakers. The concept is spoofed in the post-series movie Kamen Rider Genm vs. Lazer, where Genm (who has a truly monumental God complex) gives himself a Level Billion form...that's just a Palette Swap of Ex-Aid's Level 99 form, earning him mockery from Lazer.
    "Is one billion supposed to scare me? You just make these levels up as you go!"
  • Kenan & Kel has one episode taking place 1,000 years in the future. Kenan and Kel take a test in alien biology, and Kenan scores an A+, which at that time is considered a failing grade. Kel scores an A++++, which is considered the future equivalent of today's A+.

  • As denounced by the title, the hilarious and tongue-in-cheek Pearl Jam song "Olympic Platinum".
    My Olympic dream
    The gold's just not good enough
    And I don't even think of the bronze
    I'm living my life for olympic platinum

    Tabletop Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering introduced this with its "Mythic Rare" rarity level.
  • The Pokémon TCG:
    • The "Holo Rare" level has been around since the game started, which are simply a subset of the rare cards which were printed with foil artwork (ironically, there were more Holo Rares in the original Base Set than normal Rares).
    • Ultra Rare was added later, which replaces the Rare card in roughly one pack in five, all of which are cards with that sets gimmick (EX, GX and VMAX being recent examples). In additon, several more common cards have an Ultra Rare variant with alternate art covering the entire card, known as Full-Art cards.
    • Secret Rare cards (or just "Secrets") have collector numbers beyond the official list (for example, 101/100), and about one Rare card in every two boxes of packs will be replaced with a Secret Rare (the "box topper", an extra card for buying a whole box, is also a Secret card but is marked as being just Holo Rare). Originally these were Shiny Pokemon as a nod to their rarity in the videogames, though more recently the Secrets have been alternate prints of less rare cards with a full art rainbow print, known as "Rainbow Rares". These and Full-Art prints can be traded by someone who just wants to play the game to a collector who will happily give a whole pile of the functionally-identical normal print in exchange.
  • MicroStars, a Subbuteo-style game revolving around collectible figures of real-world footballers, initially had six colour-coded tiers -0 Green, Red, Blue, White, Silver, and Gold — that denoted both power and rarity. Later, a seventh "Black" tier was added, that was even rarer than Gold but also even stronger.

  • In El Goonish Shive, Pandora describes Sarah's magic mark as "an S-rank spell". In The Rant Dan says he picked this up from Fire Emblem and sees it as "sort of a like an 11 on a 1-10 scale".
  • Mages in Flipside are ranked from Level 1 to 3 as they pass "dissolving tests" that unlock their abilities. It's later revealed that a distant continent has an even more advanced magical society where Level 4 practitioners are common and that Suspiria is implanted with an Amplifier Artifact that's elevated her to Level 6 or 7, which grants her city-wide Reality Warping Power Incontinence.
  • In Kubera, mages are graded similar to the American grading system; A+, B+, B, so on. The highest rank is AA. Asha is easily the most powerful mage in existence, breaking records left and right when she took her exam. However, in order to get the AA ranking, you need to be able to interface with a barrier stone, which in turn requires three matching elemental attributes. Asha insisted she could do it despite the fact that her attributes don't match, but they refused to let her try because that would be extremely dangerous. In order to celebrate her incredible achievements regardless, she was given the brand-new rank of A++. Technically, it's no different than A+, but everybody has heard about her, and treats her as befitting her skill. Then, during the siege of Atera, she proved that she is fully capable of interfacing with a barrier stone and keeping a barrier going (by changing the attribute of the barrier to match her own, which should be impossible). The title of that arc is AAA.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: In the supernatural Gladiator Games, the protagonist's stats are ranked C/B/SS+, the latter of which presumably refers to the fact that the most powerful Amplifier Artifact in the universe is embedded in her skull.
  • Questionable Content: At Coffee of Doom, drinks are available in size small, medium, large, extra-large, and WTF.

    Web Original 
  • The Anti-Cliché and Mary-Sue Elimination Society formerly ranked targets on a scale of one to eight. Now, it operates on a one to ten scale, with ten being damn near omnipotent. For reference, one Level Nine Stu was able to whoop almost the entire Society. He was the weakest of the Level Nines.
  • Shown here as used in Chaos Fighters with F--.
  • PolitiFact's scale runs from True to False to the "Pants on Fire!" rating, reserved for especially far-reaching or ridiculous claims.
  • SCP Foundation started out with three official object classes: Safe (easily contained, though not necessarily harmless), Euclid (harder to contain; most humanoids and animals fall in this category since they're unpredictable), and Keter (extremely difficult to contain). A fourth official class was later added, Thaumiel (can be used to contain other SCPs, but this still doesn't mean they're harmless). Other object classes exist, but are unofficial and usually restricted to one SCP; an example of this is Kronecker, which is actually an SCP itself, which affects the documentation for objects labeled with that class. There are exceptions to this rule such as Hiemal (multiple related SCPs that naturally contain each other), Archon (should not be contained as this would cause severe harm to humanity), Tiamat (cannot be contained covertly and require direct engagement from the Foundation) and Apollyon (uncontainable or about to permanently break containment; essentially the class above Keter).
  • Worm:
    • Parahuman threats are ranked for their relative danger level, from Class D up to Class A. Then there's Class S: a national or even global-level threat that can necessitate Enemy Mine situations between heroes and villains. While the Endbringers and certain villains with One-Man Army-level superpowers are the most well-known, the rating is based not on sheer power but rather danger. For example, Jack Slash, head of the Slaughterhouse Nine, is considered Class S despite not really having that impressive a superpower, instead because he's proven extremely resourceful and has slaughtered thousands without getting caught.
    • Late in the sequel, Ward, Victoria briefly notes in the midst of the final battle that there's something off in the distance that her HUD is marking as "Class SS". Exactly what that thing was is never made clear, though most speculate it was Titan Fortuna, which was the mastermind of the whole situation and was preparing to blow up the Earth (in multiple dimensions at once).

    Western Animation 
  • The Starbucks example below was parodied in Animaniacs in an episode where Doctor Scratchensniff went to the movies with the Warners. Scratchensniff asks for a small popcorn; the attendant tells him that the popcorn only comes in Large, Super Chubby, and Double Super Chubby sizes. A frustrated Scratchensniff asks why they don't call the Large a Small then, and is greeted with "I'll have to ask my manager." Of course, it finally seems to sink in at the end; Scratchensniff says "Just give me a Large!" and the attendant hands him a truly colossal tub of popcorn.
  • Played for Drama in Avatar: The Last Airbender: When Azula finally obtains the title of Fire Lord she so desperately craved, any satisfaction she could have gotten from it is erased by Ozai promptly assigning himself an even higher rank that he made up on the spot.
  • The resident Sadist Teacher of The Fairly OddParents! Denzel Crocker loves to invert this trope. He gave Timmy a Super F in Mind Over Magic and the first Jimmy Timmy Power Hour had him threaten to give Jimmy Neutron an F-. Naturally, this didn't go well with the kid genius.
  • In Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law, Phil Ken Sebben has an Alert level system parodying the color based Terror Alert System used in the US. Above red was "Blackwatch Plaid," which he later pushed even further to "The cover of Rush's seminal album, "Moving Pictures"."
  • In the South Park episode TMI, after the government publishes an equivalent to BMI for penis size, the many men with below-average penis sizes go crazy and try to create a rebellion. The rebellion is quelled when the government revises the scale so that an "average" size is now far wider, meaning that pretty much everyone now has an at-least average penis size... except Cartman.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?", Homer became a restaurant critic for a newspaper. The editor eventually complained that all of his reviews were over-the-top gushing praise, and as an example pointed out a recent article he'd written where he gave a restaurant "9 thumbs up". This prompted Homer to get mean and snarky, and one of his later reviews (to Marge) said "I give this meal my lowest rating ever: 7 thumbs up."
    • In the episode "Lisa Gets an 'A'", Lisa catches a cold and being forced to stay at home. She wasn't able to read a book she's supposed from class for a test because she got addicted to a video game. With Bart's help, she receives the answers from Nelson and cheats the test. She gets an A++++. Actually, A+++ because there's Drambuie on the paper. She gets summoned by Skinner due to her test bumping up the school's GPA qualifying for a grant which trigger's the plot of this episode.
  • A variation in one episode of Futurama: after Professor Farnsworth's latest invention is ridiculed by the scientific community, Wernstrom gives it "the worst grade A-minus-minus!" note 

    Real Life 
  • CERO has five ratings from all ages to adults only. They are;
    • A (all ages)
    • B (ages 12 and up)
    • C (ages 15 and up)
    • D (ages 17 and up)
    • Z (ages 18 and up only)
  • When was the last time you saw a pizza advertised as "small"? At at least one local pizzeria the advertised sizes are "large, extra-large, and party-size"
    • Ditto for canned olive sizes
  • Ah, Starbucks. Coffee sizes start at Tall, then Grande, then Venti, because apparently no one just wants a small goddamn coffee. note  Then they came out with a Trenta size, which is even larger than the Venti size, for cold drinks. It holds 31 oz (910 mL) of liquid, or two-and-a-half the capacity of a typical human bladder. For true caffeine addicts!
  • At the height of the Cold War, both pro- and anti-nuclear campaigners were fond of pointing out "overkill factors" (how many times over the world's nuclear arsenal could kill all the people on Earth). The number peaked at around ninety.
    • A theoretical war that actually used all this firepower was apparently referred to in strategic circles as a "Bounce the Rubble" exchange.
    • One notable one still used to this day is the Doomsday Clock, where midnight represents all out nuclear war. How close civilization approaches to nuclear war is represented by how many minutes away from midnight the minute hand sits. It started at "seven minutes to midnight" and has since gone as high as seventeen minutes (The chance of nuclear war is practically negligible) to as low as 100 seconds (1⅔ minutes; a pin drop could result in the destruction of civilization). We're at 90 seconds right now, which has caused some pundits to think the Clock is no longer useful.
      • Particularly notable in that the clock was originally intended to have "fifteen minutes to midnight" as the safest possible setting, so its being set to seventeen minutes to midnight from 1991 to 1995 is the most direct application of this trope.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture food quality ratings can go up to grade AA.
  • Minor League Baseball originally ranked its leagues D, C, B, A. It later became Rookie, Short Season, A, A Advanced, AA, AAA. Now, it's Rookie, Single-A, High-A, AA, AAA. (And this is all below the Major Leagues.)
  • The professional English football leagues used to simply be named Division One through Division Four. The creation of the Premier League in 1992, and the Championship in 2004, mean that "League One", as it's now known, is actually equivalent to the original Division Three.
  • When Formula One switched to Pirelli tyres in 2011, the different compounds were labelled hard, medium, soft, and supersoft. In 2016 a new ultrasoft tyre was added, followed in 2018 by an even faster hypersoft tyre and a slower superhard tyre. The superhard was never used, and everyone agreed that things were just getting silly, so in 2019 the FIA inverted the trope: while there are still several different compounds, the three brought to each race are just called soft, medium, and hard to make things simpler.
  • Martial artists often want to stay a rank ahead of their students in order to maintain "master" status, leading to ranks as high as 15th dan becoming commonplace in more popular styles.
  • Some Freemasons have added an additional thirty degrees on top of the original three. Some even have ninety, altogether.
    • However the thirty-three ranks go back over two hundred years.
  • In many US states' high school sports, the schools are grouped into classes based on size, since most often the big schools with deep benches have a significant advantage over smaller ones with smaller talent pools. In most states these are A, B, C, D, etc with A at the top. Indiana was one of the last to implement one, and theirs go A, AA, AAA, AAAA, with A the smallest.
    • ESPN lists this year's high school football champions here (map still not filled in for all states). Many use D1, D2, D3, etc., but New York had one of these, with D, C, B, A, and AA (so did Montana). Oh, and apparently, AAAA is no longer the largest in Indiana—5A is (although 5A is only for the football classes).
      • Many states go up to 5A, apparently. Illinois starts at 1A and goes up to 8A.note  South Dakota has AA, A, B, then 9-man AA, 9-man A, and 9-man B. If it's about size, shouldn't a school large enough to field a team two full divisions better than a 9-man B team be large enough to field an 11-man team? Colorado, Iowa, and Idaho all top out at 5A, but have more than five divisions and nothing below A. Colorado has "A-8" and "A-6" as the two below 1A (A-6?), Iowa has a level simply called "A" (that's one level lower than 1A), and Idaho splits 1A into "1A Division 1" and "1A Division 2". Nebraska districts are labelled A, B, C1, C2, D1, and D2. (D2 schools are small enough, for example, that football is played with six players on a side, instead of eleven. Meanwhile, Texas goes to 6A.
      • The "A-6" and "A-8" in Colorado's schools refer to the number of players on the football team by each side at a given time.
      • While Kentucky goes up to 6A for football, it mostly averts this trope. The only other sports divided into classes are cross country and track, both of which go up only to AAA. All other high school sports have a single state championship for all schools, regardless of enrollment; this includes the state's most iconic sport of basketball.note 
  • The NCAA has Division I split for into two subdivisions for football. Interestingly, they inverted the trend of more A's being better, since until 2007, the higher subdivision was called Division I-A and the lower one was called Division I-AA. Since this distinction only applies to football, the subdivisions were renamed before the 2007 season, though the lower subdivision still has the more prestigious-sounding name. I-A was renamed the Football Bowl Subdivision, while I-AA was renamed the Football Championship Subdivision.note 
  • Standard & Poor's use a rating code for debtors, AAA being the best and D the worst.
    • These also have plus and minus grades for a total of twenty-two different ratings, and the accepted "passing grade" for investments is BBB.
    • Of course, the revelation that these triple letter rankings were created to make bad debtors look better by moving the curve and allow some companies the opportunity to manipulate their value for profit at the cost of the debtor's credit value without suspicion (and be the major cause of the 2010 Global Financial Crisis) makes one wonder if that sort of thing should be allowed.
  • The US Homeland Security Advisory System was in use from 2002 to 2011. Over its lifetime, its lowest two levels were never used, making "Elevated" the system's current default level.
  • The Boy Scout of America ranks are Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle. Eagle Scouts can wear combinations of Bronze, Gold and Silver palms by earning merit badges beyond the twenty-one required for Eagle Scout (although gaining palms doesn't mean much as compared to becoming Eagle).
  • The English/Welsh GCSE system uses the usual A,B,C,D,E,F grades, with a A* over and above the A. Originally this was intended to indicate exceptional performance by an A-grade candidate, but is now universally considered the top grade. Since the introduction of the modular AS/A2 level to replace the A-level it has also become more common to attain several A grades at A-level too, leading some to call for the introduction of a A* at that level also.
    • A few GCSE's offer A* distinction now, but they are rare.
    • This perpetuates a fascinating annual cycle when the results are released in which the media will initially deplore grade inflation and the "dumbing-down" of British education, then castigate itself for doing so, thus providing a never-ending news story until something more interesting comes along.
      • This has became a joke among people in former British colonies in Asia, which more or less kept the old GCE grading curves—in their terms, GCSE's A* has became the "new A," A became the "new C," while C became the "new E."
    • In a partial inversion, GCSE grades actually go down to G, and if you want to be technical about it, G still counts as a pass. U is fail (standing for "ungraded"). Of course, most places ask for A*-C grades, and if they ask for pass they're after A*-D, but if they ask for GCSE's generally rather than "passes" or a specific grade range, as long as you got a G it counts.
    • After The New '10s, Hong Kong uses a modified GCSE system called HKDSE, which uses numbers instead of letters for grades in language subjects (Chinese and English). The former B grade is now 5, and A grade is 5* . They also keep the old A* thing, therefore you now have a 5** grade.
  • The STEP (used by Cambridge for maths students) has a scale going fail, 3, 2, 1, S.
  • British university degrees are awarded with one of the following honours classifications: first class, upper second, lower second, third, and ordinary. The "ordinary" class is now considered worthless enough that Cambridge has abolished it; you either graduate with honours or fail. In practice, it's common in many professions for job postings to demand at least an upper second.
  • Rampant in the auto industry; the usual practice is to introduce a new top-of-the-line trim level every few years (to much fanfare) and (quietly) drop base models that become unpopular- the 1957 Chevy Bel Air was the most extravagant car Chevy made that year; by The '70s the Bel Air was a bare-bones fleet model. "LE" was originally the top trim level of Toyota Camry; currently it's the base model. Even legendary trim names are subject to this: the "R/T" name was, for a long time, the top-of-the-line trim for Dodge's muscle cars, but now this distinction is for the "SRT" models.note 
  • The United States military has added on higher ranks for generals and admirals as the need has arisen. George Washington himself only ever wore three stars. Ulysses S. Grant was the first to have four stars, but the title was such that would have made it five stars. The rank was retired after the last of the three generals died, reducing the max rank down to major general, though four star general was reintroduced. World War II required creation of five-star ranks to be standardized as General of the Army and Fleet Admiral (after the Air Force became independent in 1947, General of the Army Henry Arnold Became the first and so far only General of the Air Force). In 1945, the US government created, but never awarded, what would have been a six-star rank for Douglas MacArthur in anticipation of the invasion of Japan. George Washington was later awarded that rank, General of the Armies of the United States, posthumously and retroactive to July 4, 1776, meaning that no officer ever has or ever will outrank Washington. Grant himself was also posthumously promoted to six star General of the Armies of the United States, in effect making that rank a special promotion for Generals with exceptional military achievement who later became President.
  • The United States Navy has had considerable rank inflation. When the Navy was founded, its officer ranks were Lieutenant, Master-Commandant, and Captain. The titles of "Lieutenant, Commanding" and "Commodore" (for Lieutenants in command of small ships and Captains in command of multiple ships, respectively) were added during the War of 1812. The former became the rank of Lieutenant Commander after the American Civil War (Master Commandant had become Commander in 1838, 20 years after the Royal Navy had done so with its equivalent rank, "Master And Commander"). The first Rear Admirals were promoted during the Civil War and Vice Admiral David Glasgow Farragut was promoted from their ranks to overall command of the USN's mobile forces.
  • Original (Royal Prussian) Iron Cross medal had 2 classes only and held them throughout 19th century wars and WWII. When the Führer reinstated it as of 1939, he added the Knight's Cross as a superior grade to replace the former Prussian orders of chivalry. As the war progressed, the Iron Cross itself got awarded by the millions and the Knight's Cross by the thousands. So to set apart the people who qualifed for them again and again, the Knight's Cross got the Oakleaves, then Oakleaves and Swords, above which came the Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds and so on, until finally the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds which was only awarded to Stuka Ace Hans Ulrich Rudel out of a planned 12 total for the absolute best of best personally picked out by Hitler after winning the war (fighter ace Erich Hartmann was also very likely to receive it as well, but the Third Reich was crushed before that happened). By late war, soldiers were outraged to get only an Iron Cross or a German Cross in Gold, which they derided as "the fried egg".
    • Above the Iron Cross (and later the Knight's Cross) was the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross, only for generals. Five were awarded for the Napoleonic Wars, nine for the Franco-Prussian War and five for World War 1. Göring received the only one of World War 2, alongside his promotion from Field Marshall to the upmost rank of Reichsmarschall marking him as subordinate only to Hitler.
      • Above the Grand Cross was the Star of the Grand Cross, which was only awarded twice, to Blücher for defeating Napoelon and to Hindenburg for the 1918 Spring Offensive (which caused Germany to lose months after it ended, so not exactly a deserved award). Göring was likely looking to further stroke his ego by getting this as well, but the Nazis lost before he could get around to having it formally instituted or made beyond prototypes that are now in a US military museum.
  • In certain schools, certain teachers don't give out "D" grades; fall below the cutoff for a C(-) and you fail.
  • Credit cards have added new prestige ranks (gold, platinum) as the old ranks became commonplace. Right now the biggest difference between a silver, gold, and platinum card is the color, with titanium looking to be the next level. Also both Visa and Mastercard have a level over Platinum (the Signature and World cards - guess they ran out of metals)
    • This satirical article is about the new Diners' Club "Plutonium" and American Express "Kryptonite" cards.
    • Likewise, in some companies, "Gold" is the lowest rank of a customer. Higher ranks might be Platinum or Diamond. But if your customer rating does not have one of these snazzy, expensive sounding designations...then you are probably a real VIP.
  • The final exams of Finnish high schools have gone through multiple iterations of this. Initially, there were three passing grades and maximum of six exams. Only a small percentage of the population took the exams so one who passed was considered a learned person and the getting the six Laudaturs (the best possible grade) was a sign of genius. The grade limits were based on percentages so when number of students grew new grades had to be introduced (Oddly, Laudatur remained the best, three were added below it) but the number of Laudaturs still grew. Then the students were allowed to take the exams over multiple years, enabling more foreign languages and improving grades from previous years. The final step was that the Real exam (i.e. everything that is not a language or mathematics) was split into multiple exams. As the result, the famous six Laudatur grade is now quite common and the current official record is ten (the unofficial eleven was split between too many years).
    • Likewise, the possible grades used to be Laudatur (excellent), Cum Laude (good), Approbatur (passed) and Improbatur (flunked). During the years, three new grades were introduced: Lubenter (passed decently), Magna Cum Laude (very good) and Eximia Cum Laude (almost excellent).
    • The Mathematics and Real exams have a choice of questions. Some of them are scored from 0 to 9 instead usual 6, so it is possible to have a score above the "maximum".
    • Since universities count only the relevant part of the grades into entry scores, the highest final exam grades are purely for bragging rights.
  • In most American Contract Bridge League events, the players are grouped into C, B and A ranks. At some national or international tournaments, the strata expand to D, C, B, A and X.
    • Also, the ACBL title "Life Master" initially signified a very high level playernote  — now there are Bronze, Silver, Ruby, Gold, Sapphire, Diamond, Emerald, Platinum, and Grand Life Master levels above that.
  • Inverted example: Traditionally, martial arts rankings start off at 10th kyu. The rankings for the board game Go, on the other hand, start as low as 30th kyu.
    • There is a system of Ninjutsu that goes up to 15th Dan.
  • PC enthusiast magazine Maximum PC stirred quite a controversy when it rated Half-Life 2 the only 11/10 rating the magazine has done.
    • This trope applies to game rating in general, to the point that it has its own trope. On a scale of 1 to 10, an average game that's nothing special but not particularly bad either ought to score 5, and as per normal distribution most games ought to fall in the 4-6 range, with only the exceptional scoring more or less.
    • All reviews of PC hardware and software (not just games) tend to be inflated. If the item in question didn't get at least a 7 out of 10, you can expect it to suck.
  • Due to advances in efficiency, the European Union energy label for some appliances had the grades A+ and A++, and later A+++, added on top of the usual G to A grades.
    • Since energy efficiency went Off the scale, the entire ranking was reset in March 2021. The new scale is again without any plus signs...but probably bound to make a return as appliances get even more efficient, even though no products were initially given an 'A' rating to allow for more efficient products to be graded in the future.
  • In Germany earlier in the 21st century, when pupils go to school, they're graded from 1 to 6 (1 being the highest). More recently, a scale from 15 to 0 (15 the highest) was introduced, which are then reverted back into the original system. As the first three numbers on the second scale represent 1+, 1, 1- and so on (only the 6 cannot be modified by + or -), getting straight 15s reverts actually back into 2/3! It's still just displayed as 1.0, but it's there.
  • The Mikimoto system for grading pearls has A1, A, A+1, A+, AA1, AA, AAA1, and AAA.
  • Eggs in the US are rated C, B, A, and AA. The A grades are just slight differences in the consistency or quality of the egg white or yolk. B eggs have a few things you don't want to see. C eggs are basically aborted chicks.
    • Even the former USSR product grades (which were very practical and came from very strict state quality regulations, called GOST) went through this over time. "Sorts" (Grades) of various foods almost always extend beyond 1st into "Highest", "Extra", or, say, "Hand-picked" (for eggs). Conversely, the low grades as a rule were too vile to see them on the store shelves often (like in other countries). One exception would be cigarettes: seems that there is no limit on how bad the cigs can be if they're cheap, so they ran about 5 or 6 tobacco grades in different USSR republics.
  • In the earliest days of written music, there were three lengths of note: the maxima, longa and brevis. Over time, composers started creating shorter and shorter note values, with the longer ones falling out of use. By the end of the 16th century or so, when the inflation stopped, the longest note in common use was (and still is) the semibreve or whole note, which is half as long as the shortest of the original notes.
  • eBay evaluations : "will buy again, A+++++++++" is the minimum expected if the seller didn't abduct your family and mail them back to you one piece at a time.
    • And even then it depends on how much they charge for shipping on the pieces.
    • Similarly, giving anything other than a maximum rating on sites like Newgrounds or Youtube is interpreted as a vicious slam.
      • YouTube has changed this, swapping to a Thumbs-Up/Thumbs-Down system.
      • On Newgrounds this is actually considered good manners, after a fashion; five is "I liked it, thumbs up," and zero is, "I wish the creator had been aborted so I would have never seen this". Voting something in between, however, is apparently a sin that is beyond forgiveness.
    • This has became kind of an enforced in Taobao, the Chinese equivalent of eBay and Amazon Marketplace, especially due to press reports about many sellers actually harass buyers that gave a rating less than 4/5. So right now the average rating is usually somewhere between 4.5-5, and nobody look at the numerical rating that seriously—any criticisms would be aired in the comments that may accompany a 5/5.
  • In chess the title of Grandmaster was first officially created and awarded to the top 27 players. By 2009 there were over 1200 Grandmasters.
  • Dana Carvey joked that with condoms now going up to Magnum XL, 'regular' has become code for 'small', as no one wants to approach the counter and go "yeah, give me a pack of those 'teeny-weenys'" or something along those lines.
    • Similarly, according to astronaut Michael Collins, NASA had to rename the condom catheters (installed in spacesuits so that astronauts can urinate while on spacewalks or moonwalks) sizes from "small, medium, and large" to "extra large, immense, and unbelievable" because astronauts kept trying to pick sizes that were too big for them and it resulted in quite a few messes in those million-dollar spacesuits.
    • A proposed solution to get rid of all the ego and embarassment problems would be to have the different sizes of condoms assigned random letters of the alphabet, so that unlike bra letters you could not necessarily assume that D was bigger than A, etc. A man would need to consult a chart to determine which letter corresponded to his size. Since it would be both unnecessary and troublesome to memorize letter/size pairs other than his own, and he could assume that other men wouldn't bother to do so either, he could stop worrying about judging or being judged whenever somebody bought condoms.
  • The Size of Marching bands are judged like so: A (for smallest), AA, AAA, AAAA, and AAAAA. You can also have a 6A band if a College Band enters at a High School Competition, which happens enough to have rules for it, but not enough for it to not be a spectacle, since a Single A College Marching band, is about the same size as 3A.
  • The Byzantine Empire got very, very good at creating pompous titles. Towards the end of its history "Augustus", the title of the old Roman Emperors, was being awarded to the equivalent of interns, while the people the emperor actually liked would get to be called things like Augustus First Class, Beyond All Augustuses or Emperogustus. In a strange inversion, however, the most prestigious title of all was simply Lord.
  • A few years ago, Burger King inverted this trope by changing the size labels of its meals from "medium", "large", and "king size" to "small," "medium," and "large." They didn't change the actual sizes, which led to some confusion when you ordered a medium coke with your meal and got something that won't fit in the cup holder. The former "small" size is now called "value"
    • A 22 fluid ounce (650 ml) soda used to be the standard "large" size. Then it became "medium", and is now labelled "small" by many (but not all) chains.
    • Tim Horton's (a coffee chain predominantly in Canada) also did this in 2012, changing small, medium, large, extra large to extra small, small, medium, and large, and adding a new extra large.
  • In Australia, bushfire danger ratings were Mild, Moderate, High, Very High, and Extreme. Following the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, a new category of "Catastrophic - Code Red" was added. But then it went in the opposite direction in 2022, with the ranks being bumped down to just Moderate, High, Extreme and Catastrophic. The most current danger ratings can be found here.
  • Aggregate review website MetaCritic adjusts its scale specifically for games. Movies, TV shows, and music have a ranking division of 81-100, 61-80, 40-60, 20-39, and 0-19. The games on the other hand have a harsher division consisting of 90-100, 75-89, 50-74, 20-49, 0-19.
  • A joke for one of the reasons why the US will never go metric is this: What sounds more impressive, an 80 yard field goal, or a 73 metre one?note  This is of course facetious: although Canada went metric in 1973, Canadian Football—which is very similar to American football—still uses yards.
    • Soccer however went that way. Being invented in England and using imperial measures (a goal is 24 by 8 yards - or 7.32m by 2.44m these days), so the 12 yard penalty kick became an 11 metre penalty kick in most languages.
  • Before 1982, Disneyland required tickets to go on the rides. Originally there were three classes of tickets from A to C, with C being for the most thrilling rides. Over time, D tickets and then E tickets were introduced.
  • Many high schools have begun weighting their classes so that the most advanced classes grade on a 5-point GPA scale as opposed to the standard 4 point scale.
    • Some also have classes with a 6-point scale, usually reserved for those that come with college credit.
  • The Gamespot forums (although Gamespot itself doesn't count) are known to call a game scoring a 7.0 and 7.5 on the main Gamespot page an "A" game; an 8.0 an "AA;" and so on, with console exclusives such as Halo getting an E after it. What does Super Mario Galaxy 2, a Wii exclusive with a 10 by Gamespot translate into? An AAAAE game.
  • The Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai is often touted as a "7-star hotel".
    • Several other hotels also do this. In truth, hotel star ratings mean absolutely nothing unless you compare them to other ratings given by the same organisation (and it has an actual system for awarding them).
  • Brassiere cup measurements originally only had sizes from A through D. Smaller sizes are typically designated with multiple A's, going down to AAA in some training bras. Larger sizes sometimes repeat the D and sometimes go to higher letters, up to G in the United States or up to K within the UK.
    • This is worse in Japan, where cup measurements have finer granularity and don't use repeated letters. So a K cup might qualify as an M cup.
  • This is averted by the Gemological Institute of America when grading the color of diamonds: a completely colorless diamond is ranked D on a scale that continues downward to Z (prior to reaching the point where you actually want a colorful diamond). The logic was that, by starting with A, someone would claim an A+ to better it, and then you'd continue on to get this trope, but nobody in their right mind would go out of their way to claim a super-colorless diamond was ranked C.
  • The rank of general. Before 19th century, "general" was simply the commander of the whole army on campaign while "marshall" was the overall commander of the whole military of the country. As the units and formations were regularized and ranks were formalized, "general" became now commander of an army corps, while the subformations were commanded by "lesser" generals: army corps by general lieutenant, division by general major and brigade by brigadier general. But in the 20th century, even larger formations materialized, and more ranks were needed: the German army had Generaloberst (colonel general) for army group and Generalfeldmarschall (general field marshall) for army theatre of operations. Therefore you may have a total of six ranks of generals and rank of Marshall for the supreme commander.
  • Computer power supplies are certified under the 80 Plus program, which originally gave 80 Plus, 80 Plus Bronze, 80 Plus Silver and 80 Plus Gold rankings for increased efficiency. Nowadays, as power supplies get better, the scale was extended to 80 Plus Platinum and 80 Plus Titanium to match.
    • the Titanium ranking was to address another issue: 80 Plus was originally designed to start testing at 20% of the power supply's load. Below that, from say a 1000W power supply under idle conditions, the power supply could be lower than its minimum rated efficiency. Titaninum starts at 10% load. However because it's this efficient, it actually beats Platinum.
  • Taiwan's new high school entrance system introduced in 2014 already suffered this before it was introduced. Originally the CAP test was meant only have three grade levels: A (Excellence), B (Basic) and C (Needs Improvement) and only limited to 40% of the decision. However, some top school are still highly impacted, even limited by catchment areas, so the test administrators were forced to sub-divide both A and B grades into three equally-sized subgrades each: A++, A+, A, B++, B+, B.
  • In Imperial Russia, the public servants, or chinovniks, were divided into 14 degrees on the Table of Ranks, and the possession of a 'chin awarded personal nobility to its holder, except for the ranks 8 and above, which gave hereditary nobilitynote ; given the advancement was done every three years on average, some low-ranking bureaucrats or soldiers ended with the hereditary nobility that came with the title of State Councilor. This was fixed by Nicholas I, who decided personal nobility would come only with the 8th rank — Collegiate Assessor and Major — and the hereditary one only with the 5th — State Councilor and Kapitan — and that, moreover, any promotion beyond the fifth degree would require imperial authorisation.
  • Notation for French public servants is such that any grade below 16/20 denotes a moron holding a grievous level of incompetence. In an inversion, the highest official grade is 18/20.
  • The Michelin Restaurant Star system, being a reconstruction of the Four-Point Scale, averts this. Getting even a zero-star or one-star rating is a mark of an excellent establishment, and the limit is three stars.
  • Health and beauty products abuse this for marketing purposes, where a grading system simply underscores the desired properties. Hair gels, lacquers and foams never get "medium" or "weak" adhesion grades, even if the manufacturer's "system" has 6 or 7 grades. All of them are strong, super strong, ultra strong etc. Meanwhile, toothbrushes, logically, run from very hard to very soft, but even "hard" ones are virtually impossible to find on a rack.
  • The grading of coins by professional numismatists (coin collectors/dealers) has always run on this trope. The generally used European grades (under their English names) are: Poor, Fair, Good (G), Very Good (VG), Fine (F), Very Fine (VF), Extremely Fine (EF/XF), Uncirculated (Unc), Brilliantly Uncirculated (BU), and Fleur de Coin (FDC)note . Most coin collectors will not touch a coin unless it is at least Very Fine/Extremely Fine condition or it's exceedingly rare.
  • In the Scout Association (UK), each section has its own awards for young members to earn, and they follow progressively up the sections:
    • Chief Scout's Bronze Award (Beaver Scouts' top award)
    • Chief Scout's Silver Award (Cub Scouts' top award)
    • Chief Scout's Gold Award (Scouts' top award) sounds like the top one, but then...
    • Chief Scout's Platinum Award (Explorers Scouts/Scout Network)
    • Chief Scout's Diamond Award (same)
    • Queen's Scout Award (The actual top award)
  • The McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index, used to measure the risk of fires, originally started with five levels: Low-Moderate, High, Very High, Severe and Extreme. After the Black Saturday bushfires, the Catastrophic level was added.
  • If one were to use the USDA Beef Grading system as the standard, then both the Australian and Japan beef grading system adds even more ranks above the best rank the USDA system can offer. The best rank USDA can offer, Prime, floats somewhere around the middle of the Japanese A4 and Australian MS5-MS6 ratings. Japan still has an A5 rank (where the best Wagyu comes from) and Australia another 3 tiers.
  • Leather is graded in four (sometimes five) levels. If you see something advertised as "genuine leather", bear in mind that's the second-worst level. (In order from worst to best, the levels are bonded, genuine, top-grain, and full-grain. Some systems put "split-grain" between genuine and top-grain.)
  • Having a record certified "gold" by the RIAA was probably a big deal once upon a time; it meant selling half a million copies if it's an album or a million if it's a single. "Platinum" was only introduced as a separate certification in 1976 for records that sold twice those amounts, followed by "multi-platinum" in 1984 for twice as many again. Ironically, due to decreasing sales of singles, the requirements for having a single cirtified any of those things actually went down, and now match the figures for albums: half a million, a million, two million. The continued explosive growth of the music industry prompted them to add a "diamond" cirtification in 1999 for records that hit five million, which had already been surpassed several times. Because there's no time limit to how long it takes to reach those total sales (unlike with Billboard charts), timeless artists whose albums remain in print long enough tend to hit bonkers numbers even on that scale, with Michael Jackson's Thriller holding the current record for a studio album at 34x platinum.
  • Pixel densities on [[Platform/Android]], which determine the sizes at which app icons and other vector graphics are shipped pre-rendered into bitmaps, are an example. The spec initially defined low ("ldpi", ~120 pixels/inch), medium ("mdpi", ~160 pixels/inch), "TV resolution" ("tvdpi", ~213 pixels/inch) and high ("hdpi", 240 pixels/inch). Later extra-high ("xhdpi", 320 pixels/inch) was added. As of 2024, we're up to xxxxxhdpi (1280 pixels/inch).

Alternative Title(s): Grade Inflation, One Two Three Letter, S Rank