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The Graph Shows the Trend

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To demonstrate how some situation has been progressing, a line graph is brought out as a prop, showing a line clearly proceeding upward or downward. The axes may be unlabeled, especially in parodies. Sometimes someone realizes the graph is on the easel pointed in the wrong direction and fixes it, and now the line is going in the opposite direction. In comedy uses, the line is sometimes drawn out Off the Chart and goes into the ceiling or floor, or just lies there in coils.


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  • The upside-down graph is used on an ad for in which a guy works in an office full of chimpanzees. The executives are celebrating the upturn in sales until the guy turns the graph right side up. One of the chimps turns it back the other way and continue partying.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In chapter 78 of Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Kashima shows a line graph of Hori's affection, steadily going downwards since they met, with a few peaks when she took the Theater Club seriously.

  • A French sketch has an accountant showing a graph to his affiliates. The lines goes down, leaves the graph, and so does the accountant, who goes downstairs, as the line keeps going down. He calls the accountants to say that he's in the sewers, and the line is STILL going down.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin consistently presents these to his father, informing him that his "approval rating" is going down.
  • The Belgian comic Le Chat has this illustrated gag: "A businessman with small-paned windows would rather see a plane take off than lightning crashing down".

    Films — Animation 
  • Jetsons: The Movie has Spacely Sprockets showcasing the profits of the new Asteroid mine in such a fashion. The line goes up until it reaches the end, before crashing directly down and through the floor. Considering the mine is being sabotaged, this might actually be the correct profit margin.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Most Beautiful: The progress of the women at the military lens factory is illustrated by a line graph that trends up when they are dedicated and working well, and trends down when various factors (fatigue, internal bickering, a broken leg) slow them down.

  • Dave Barry Slept Here has a chart of the "Level of Colonial Tension" following the passage of the Irritation Acts. The vertical axis is unlabeled, and the points on the horizontal axis are labeled as days of the week.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cheers: One episode has Sam and Norm march into Rebecca's office to show her a chart of her recent sexual activity.
    Rebecca: It's blank.
    Sam: Exactly.
  • How I Met Your Mother has a rather offbeat example of this. There is an episode where Marshall has an obsession with making graphs of trivial things. So much so that the gang stages an intervention.
  • Dave Gorman showed a number of graphs in The Dave Gorman Collection, the premise being that he didn't want to break his miles per Dave Gorman rule.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • Parodied in this xkcd.
  • Lampshaded in this Shortpacked!:
    Faz: Contrary to what he claims, I have a graph here that clearly shows a line going up.
    Ethan: You don't even know what that line represents!!!
    Galasso: It represents upness.
    Faz: The graph has spoken.
  • Referenced and parodied in this Cyanide and Happiness comic where it's remarked that a profit chart is upside down. Thankfully, it didn't change anything.
  • In one The Order of the Stick strip, a graph compares Belkars evilness (in kilonazis) with his projected evilness without Roy's influence. (And also with the hypothetical child of Cruella de Ville and Sauron, as a baseline.)
  • In El Goonish Shive, Mr Verres, being a "never-ending barrel of exposition" often produces graphs that it doesn't entirely make sense for him to have in advance. The most random is when he produces a graph that clearly shows Elliot is more of a stick-in-the-mud than Ellen, to explain why Elliot has to attend Grace's party. Elliot lampshades it later:
    Elliot: Someone who makes unnecessary charts and graphs thinks I'm a stick-in-the-mud?

    Western Animation 
  • In the Futurama episode "Ghost in the Machines", Bender has died, and in a meeting Hermes shows a graph indicating how requests to "bite my shiny metal ass" have gone down 98%. When Scruffy interrupts the meeting using a vacuum made from Bender's body, Hermes asks him to do it later. Scruffy responds with "bite my shiny metal ass", and the chart adjusts automatically.