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Readings Blew Up the Scale

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Excessive power levels may void warranty; scout carefully.

Freeza's Scouter before it self-destructs, Dragon Ball Z Abridged

Someone has a meter that breaks down or explodes when the readings are too high for it to handle. Note that it's not from measuring something that could reasonably destroy the scale, like design flaws, or measuring greater extreme heat than a thermometer can withstand. This is when the extreme amount of the readings themselves cause the destruction.

How is that possible? Chalk it up to Rule of Cool or Rule of Funny.

A Sub-Trope of both Readings Are Off the Scale and Explosive Instrumentation. Compare Awesomeness Is Volatile.



    open/close all folders 

  • A short-lived series of commercials for Applebee's depicts a Tin-Can Robot explaining to the viewer about various promotions at the family restaurant while printing them out from its torso, then it produces smoke and catches fire because of how good these deals are or how many of them there are.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z: If Scouters aren't getting broken, they're blowing up while their owners are still wearing them. No wonder they got phased out of the series.
    • After Bulma jury-rigged Raditz's Scouter, Goku's Dangerous Forbidden Technique made it explode from across the planet.
    • Vegeta did this three times in the Namek arc. He made Cui's Scouter explode when demonstrating his new power level, and blew up Zarbon's Scouter when he actually killed Cui. Frieza's new Scouter exploded when Vegeta proved he could actually go toe-to-toe with him (at least until Frieza transformed).
    • A filler scene later on showed that Super Saiyan Goku and final-form Frieza could blow up computers in different solar systems, implicitly killing the random superpowered mooks watching them.
    • In the first Cooler movie, Salza's scouter explodes when the injured Goku is given a senzu bean.
    • In the OVA where Vegeta's brother Tarble showed up, Goku demonstrated his Scouter was obsolete by casually making it explode in this manner.
    • In Resurrection 'F', Frieza's emergence from a healing tank makes every scouter on the spaceship explode.
    • In Dragon Ball Super: Broly, the new Scouters avert this and just stop measuring if a power level is too high.
  • Fairy Tail: During a test of strength on a power reader during the Grand Magic Games arc, Cana uses the weakest of the 3 Fairy spells, and the device shatters and only leaves behind a reading of 9999. This is just after one of the Ten Wizard Saints (one of the most powerful mages on the continent) attacks it and gets below 9000, it also makes for a subtle reference.
  • One-Punch Man: In one story, Child Emperor builds a gadget that can accurately read a person's level of power. When he tries to use it on Saitama, it declares that he is "Undefined" and the visor cracks.
  • Peter Grill and the Philosopher's Time: Vegan uses her magic to summon a creature called Agape that can measure Peter's arousal levels. When Peter has an orgy with his harem, Agape blows up.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the title mech eating a Big Bang safely spoon-fed by Lordgenome causes the power gauge to shatter and then keep going outside the monitor. Keep in mind, this power gauge was designed in a universe where the Rule of Cool is scientifically acknowledged, to measure power levels that are known to routinely go off charts. The monitor blew up anyway.
  • The Phobos/Huitzil computers in Night Warriors: Darkstalker's Revenge do this when reading Donovan's power (at the same time that Donovan is unleashing a very powerful attack on the Phobos).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The first sign that the Egyptian God Cards live up to the hype is when Kaiba first uses Obelisk the Tormentor in a training duel against an AI: using Obelisk's special ability causes the instruments monitoring the situation to spark, smoke and fizzle out, and when Obelisk obliterates Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon with a single blow, the AI explodes violently.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho: In the Three Kings arc, a group of Raizen's old training buddies come out of seclusion to pay their respects and join the new tournament. They collectively flex their power to "see if they've still got it" and Yomi's advisor's energy-reading device goes off the scale before it explodes; miles away from the energy source.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Fantastic Four, Reed and Sue's son Franklin is a Mutant with Goo Goo Godlike potential. So Reed tasked a robot "playmate", H.E.R.B.I.E., to monitor for any manifestations of Franklin's powers. The first time Franklin really begins to start pouring out psionic energy, H.E.R.B.I.E. issues a few futile warnings before overloading and exploding.
  • In Joe Bar Team, the main characters destroy numerous radar speed gun radars with their motorbikes using this very trope.

    Comic Strips 
  • One Calvin and Hobbes strip has an Imagine Spot where Calvin's dad lets him drive, and instead the car starts flying.
    Dad: How fast are we going?
    Calvin: Can't say. We broke the speedometer.
  • In a Peanuts strip, Snoopy adds the number of pizzas he and Woodstock ate before midnight to the number of pizzas they ate after midnight. The result blew Snoopy's pocket calculator.
  • In a Garfield strip:
    Jon: From now on, I'm keeping track of the calories you take in!
    Jon: My calculator blew up.

    Fan Works 
  • Mentioned by John in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World. After Cirda of the Terrible Trio announces that her scan of the other three is Over Nine Thousand, John reflects that if he were added to the mix her scanner would probably blow up.
  • In The Bridge: Gigan, a cyborg, had torque limits to how much force his mechanical muscles could produce. When throwing everything he had against Kaizer Ghidorah, the desire to save his team caused him to exert more power than his mechanical part should have. At 109% the readings crack and spark. In the end at 264% they shatter.

  • Assassin's Creed (2016): Callum's final session in the Animus results in a synchronization so perfect that it breaks the device. It also results in Callum being presented with visions of past assassins surrounding him and his long-dead mother inducting him into the order through their shared genetic memory. Everyone observing the moment is shocked because they weren't aware that the Animus was capable of such a thing.

  • Seen a fair few times in the Troperiffic Discworld series.
    • In Moving Pictures, a resograph (a device designed to measure changes in the nature of reality) starts going haywire thanks to the influence of the filmmakers in Holy Wood. Eventually, the showing of an Epic Movie about the Ankh-Morpork Civil War causes a rift in reality big enough to allow a Thing from the Dungeon Dimensions to escape onto the Discworld, which makes the resograph explode violently.
    • In The Last Continent, Ponder Stibbons' magic-measuring thaumometer melts when the magic field used to create the Last Continent exceeds its limit of one million thaums. Then Ridcully licks his thumb, holds it up, observes the large octarine flame produced, and comments that it looks about right.
  • In Children of the Lens, the last physical battle of the series involves a faster-than-light planet hitting a star.
    Finally it happened. What happened? Even after the fact none of the observers knew. The fuses of all the recorder and analyzer circuits blew at once. Needles jumped instantly to maximum and wrapped themselves around their stops. Charts and ultraphotographic films showed only straight or curved lines running from the origin to and through the limits in zero time.
  • In Theirs Not to Reason Why, the equipment used to measure Psychic Powers has a habit of burning out when it's used on Ia. Her precognition in particular is so strong that when they test it on her with a psi damper she stole from the enemy, she burns it out anyway.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Gilligan's Island, Gilligan was playing with a lie detector that had been used earlier. When Mary Ann asked him if he took the coconut cream pie she made and he said no, the lie detector blew up.
    Gilligan: Well, it was delicious.
  • In Chernobyl, the original meters to measure radiation are destroyed in the initial explosion and the only ones at hand are meant to warn workers of unsafe work conditions and max out at 3.6. "Not good, but not too bad." The next one they find goes up to 200 and also maxes out. When they get one that goes up to 1000, it just blows out immediately.

  • Muse Magazine at one point had a "dog counter" for requests for a dog-focused issue (following a similar counter for a cat issue). In one issue, a reader letter demanded that all pre-cat issue requests for a dog issue be included because she thought the number was too low. Right below that was a picture of the dog counter exploding.

  • In Finian's Rainbow, the geologists claim to have discovered gold in Rainbow Valley in such enormous concentration that it broke the needle of their meter.

    Video Games 
  • The opening trailer of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 shows Lili watching a tournament fight with her hi-class viewing glasses. She notices Jun Kazama near the exit and tries to zoom in on her, only for Lili's glasses to explode (minor one).
  • At the end of the final boss fight in Splatoon 2's Octo Expansion single player campaign, Pearl engages in a Beam-O-War with the final boss. During this, the meter for the end of match results pops up, and Pearl's side end up exploding out the other end, resulting in an 888.8% victory for the good guys.
  • The Rhythm Heaven minigame "Quiz" has a counter showing how many times you've pressed the buttons. If you press the buttons more than 99 times, your counter will explode. Continuing to mash buttons will also blow up the host's counter and the "QUIZ" marquee.
  • One mini-game in Pajama Sam 3: You Are What You Eat From Head To Feet, features a score counter that can only count up to 99. Once that score is exceeded, the counter stops working in a dramatic fashion.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Lampshaded by the Protectors of the Plot Continuum. Frequently, their Canon Analysis Devices blow up when faced with particularly heinous breaches of canon. Savvy agents will hurl their CAD's in the opposite direction the moment something truly awful happens. Occasionally, they just don't turn their CAD's on at all, knowing that it would go boom — which doesn't always stop the explosion.
  • Shane Killian's "Bogometer", used to measure the dishonesty of creationist claims, explodes at 3:18 of this video when Janet Folgar claims that "It was Bible-believing Christians who gave us science as we know it."
  • The Spoony Experiment
  • In his review of the Doctor Who 8th Doctor movie, Nash has a "Nerd Rage meter", and when it turned out the Doctor was half-human, it finally blew up. Then it blew up again later on.
  • This trope became a minor Running Gag on The Nostalgia Critic. The Critic would count a certain feature in a movie; after a handful of examples, an explosion would sound and the Critic would cry out, "Oh, great, you blew up the (X) Meter!"
  • In the Flander's Company episode "German Übber Fantasy", Gadgeteer Genius Caleb builds a "Millstone Detector" to help Hippolyte sort out supervillain candidates. That's when Maxence and Déborah, a pair of insufferable, fashion-obsessed gits, come by. The detector starts beeping very fast and explodes.
  • In the Joueur du Grenier episode for Star Wars, Grenier calling The Phantom Menace the best film in the series makes his "Sarcasm Detector" beeps loudly. Then, when he praise the quality of a PlayStation game of the same name, the detector explodes.
  • Todd in the Shadows applies a "Douche-O-Meter" to Justin Bieber's "Sorry". It breaks after the first lyric. Then, on a later lyric, it explodes - even though it wasn't plugged in.
  • "Irony Meter":
    • On Fundies Say The Darndest Things, a common response to an ironic statement made by one of the fundies whose statements have been quoted is that it has "destroyed my irony meter."
    • This originated on the Usenet group alt.atheism, back in the 1990s: an irony meter was never mentioned except in the context of its (usually spectacular) failure:
      "Every irony meter on the planet just exploded."
      "My irony meter has melted a hole in the ground and is putting up plumes of radioactive fallout."
      "I spent extra to get a heavy duty, auto-ranging industrial irony meter, with the 4th generation titanium filter and laser readout and everything, less than a year ago. Pfft, it's toast. First time I've had to use a fire extinguisher of a piece of smoking electronics."
      "OK, Mark, you now owe me a new Myth 6 (model 66) Irony-O-Meter. It was not even a week old and it blew up like Krakatoa."
    • However, this trope was once defied when a commenter modified his irony meter so that it would not explode:
    "And apparently this one has infinite irony, because my irony meter is still going. You are going to have to make your own guys, it isn't patented or anything, and i just made it out of spare parts: mostly my old ironymeter, a clock and one of those stroke counters some people use in golf."
    • At one point, a meter designed to measure "nigh absurd amounts of irony" overloaded so much that it blew up straight through the roof, into space, and impacted Venus so hard it caused the planet to undergo nuclear fusion and turn into a miniature sun.
  • The Sin counter has been through its paces on CinemaSins, but one scene on The Fate of the Furious is too much for it to handle, causing it to break, random symbols appearing with each sin instead of numbers. Then another ridiculous scene causes it to die (read: glitch up and start blinking around the screen). Of all the crap that poor counter has seen, it just couldn't take the likes of that. From then on, the videos have featured a "Sin Counter 2.0" in a different font.
    Movie Sin Tally: R.I.P

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of My Little Pony Tales features a band talent show with a scale that measured how good the performance was. When the heroes performed their song, the scale hit the roof and blew up.
  • On Phineas and Ferb, Phineas is trying to track a cute little alien, so he built a cute-meter. Later he mentioned that he filtered Isabella's cuteness and when he turned the safety off, the cute-meter blew up.
  • The Simpsons
  • In the Teen Titans episode "Only Human", Cyborg and Atlas are in a Brawler Lock twice. The first incident has Cyborg unable to overpower him since he reached a hundred percent and sees himself as Just a Machine with mechanical muscles having defined limits. The second time, however, he overpowers his own limits with Heroic Willpower, leading his 100% readout to crack and start displaying 110%, 120%, etc. He also never gets it replaced since he's overcome his psychological block, accepting that he has no true limits if he puts his mind to it.
  • An episode of Mummy Nanny shows an old collector piece radar that can't handle flashing anyone above 203 km/h (that's 126 mph). But it's in town, so it's safe, right?
  • Tom and Jerry:
    • "Polka-Dot Puss" has Jerry trying to convince Tom he's sick. He sticks an old-fashion ambient thermometer in his mouth and flicks a lighter on under it. It quickly goes to maximum, the glass tube expands at the end and blows all the pressure with a whistle.
    • In "Down and Outing", Jerry presses down on the car's gas pedal, and the car ends up going so fast that the speedometer breaks.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: Egon's PKE Meter often caught readings intense enough to make the thing overheat and/or explode.
  • Happens twice to the same power scanner in the Steven Universe episode "Garnet's Universe". The scanner actually reassembled itself just so it could blow up again. Of course, Steven made everything in this episode up, so it's not a problem.
  • A variation occurs in an episode of Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero focusing on an incredibly complicated game called "Ultrahyperball". Sashi's computerized glasses explode not from scanning something immeasurable, but from trying to load the rules. The actual rulebook is so massive, player's eyes will fall out of their sockets long before finding out how to win.

    Real Life 
  • The 2010 Wimbledon match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut is the longest professional tennis match in history, with Isner finally winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-3), 70-68. During the absurdly-long fifth set both the electronic scoreboard at the court the two were playing at as well as the internet scoreboard on Wimbledon's website broke down and were unable to display the correct score — the former was stuck at 47-47 and was later turned off (an IBM technician made a hotfix to get it working when play resumed the next day) while the website scoreboard made it to 50-50 before also freezing and eventually had a note attached to the bottom asking viewers to add 50 to each side.
  • A possible inversion - there are multiple reports of aircraft flying in the Israel area that have their navigation systems go haywire. The reason? The Dead Sea area is BELOW sea level, causing nav systems that aren't coded to deal with that to freak out and believe the plane has flown several hundred feet into the planet. In a couple of extreme cases with little documented evidence this phenomenon has caused the nav systems to completely crash. Most of the documented examples have much lesser impact, with the nav simply blaring that the plane had crashed and refusing to offer any navigation guidance at all; even after it had safely landed by pilots using visual navigation. Either way, the scale of the reading caused a system to lose it (and anecdotally even implode), just with an incredibly LOW number - negative, to be specific - instead of a high number.
  • At Chernobyl, the first high-range dosimeter they tried after the explosion burned out as soon as it was switched on. That should have been a clue...


Video Example(s):


Lie Detector

Mulder and Scully decide to ask questions to Homer while using a lie detector. It does not go well.

How well does it match the trope?

4.88 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ReadingsBlewUpTheScale

Media sources:

Main / ReadingsBlewUpTheScale