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Playing With / Readings Are Off the Scale

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Basic Trope: A piece of measuring equipment finds something so powerful that it can’t get a reading.

  • Straight: When the Thing-O-Meter is pointed at a Negative Space Wedgie, it maxes out to 9999999 immediately, and can’t get a reading with any more detail than that.
  • Exaggerated: Readings Blew Up the Scale
  • Downplayed: The readings reach 9999999 slowly, and flicker between that and 9999998.
  • Justified: They are measuring Crystal Dragon Jesus, and as it is infinitely powerful, any finite method of measuring it's power is doomed to fail.
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  • Inverted: The readings are suspiciously well-placed in the scale.
  • Subverted:
    • The scientists using the Thing-O-Meter immediately panic when they test the Negative Space Wedgie with it… because it gave a scientifically impossible result of zero,
    • The scientists shrug, and switch to a bigger scale.
  • Double Subverted:
    • After some more tests and calibrations, they find this is because the maxes it out immediately and causes an overflow error.
    • They go through 3 larger scales before finally giving in.
  • Parodied:
    • The meter goes off the scale for even the smallest increase in power.
    • “The readings are off the charts! I need bigger charts!”
  • Zig Zagged:
    • One scientist develops a method for getting an approximate reading of things off the scale, by timing how long it takes for regular scanners to max out.
    • It's only a small blip on the Thing-O-Meter, but as the scale is aimed at measuring the energy outputs of galaxies, even a tiny blip is really, really impressive for an object of that size.
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  • Averted: Nothing goes off the charts because there are no charts in the first place.
  • Enforced: “Well, I can’t think of any units to use…so let’s just say they are really, REALLY high.”
  • Lampshaded: “Why do we even use these scanners anymore?
  • Invoked: The scientists deliberately use a smaller scale than usual when publishing their results, to make the Negative Space Wedgie seem more impressive.
  • Exploited: A nearby merchant offers to sell the scientists a thing-o-meter that CAN measure the Negative Space Wedgie, after seeing them try and fail to do so.
  • Defied:
    • “You idiots, you’re reading it wrong! Let me do it!”
    • “Don’t bother picking that scanner up: it’ll just blow up. Trust me."
  • Discussed: “It appears there is more to this wormhole than is dreamt of in our philosophy… or dreamt of by our scanners.
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  • Conversed: “The writers are never happy to give a nice whole number to these things, are they?
  • Implied: We never see the charts or hear them being talked about, but the facial reaction of the scientist looking at them tells us everything we need to know.
  • Played for Drama: The scale represents something that means certain death if either a given reading or its end are reached, and protagonists watch in despair how its readings are increasing with no end.

Back to Readings Are Off the Scale.

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