Follow TV Tropes


Up To Eleven / Real Life

Go To

  • The phrase "up to eleven" was officially accepted by Webster's Dictionary.
  • Older Than Television Example and possible Trope Namer: the throttle of the gigantic Chesapeake and Ohio M1 locomotive had 11 settings. Standard American locomotives, regardless of manufacturer, have 9 settings, standard British practice is to use 10 settings. During a 1948 trial run with a reporter from Popular Mechanics aboard, a C&O engineer expressed his dissatisfaction with a local speed limit of 75 miles per hour (throttle notch 7), noting that he would "sure like to be able to pull it back to eleven!"
  • Roman engineers have not gained particular fame for making new breakthrough inventions. But with the wealth and economic capacities of the Roman Empire behind them, they would often crank up the scale and volume of their constructions far beyond what other cultures had originally done with the technology. The reach of their empire also meant that they could take the best features of many different things and combine them into something even better.
    • Contemporary China is much similar, with a huge and still expanding autobahn and high-speed rail network dwarfing the Interstate and Shinkansen.
  • A common propaganda poster in Soviet Russia displayed a man in workman's dress turning a random machine's production speed to a red-bold "11".
  • Skyscrapers were often this, like the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street were a race to see which would end up taller.
    • The Empire State Building followed by less than a year, and not only beat it but smashed it (the Empire State's top floor was 50 m above the tip of Chrysler's spire, Empire's Spire was another 70m above that).
    • The Burj Dubai (now named the Burj Khalifa) averted this. Rather than going 'up to eleven' to top the tallest building before it, the new tower went straight up to twenty. It's half a freaking mile high. They've started the construction of yet another skyscraper higher than Burj Khalifa in the same city. Top THAT.
  • When Huey Long was governor of Louisiana, he ordered that the LSU swimming pool be 53 meters long, instead of the standard 50. It served no functional purpose and complicated swim races since they ended short of the wall, but hey, longest pool.
    • Long also had built the Louisiana State Capitol, which still stands as the tallest state capitol in the country and the tallest building in Baton Rouge. Local historians state that the Nebraska state capitol, which was being erected concurrently, was going to exceed the planned height of the Louisiana construction. Governor Long responded by increasing the height of his capital to remain the tallest.
  • Amps made by Fender (even the mighty 5-watt Fender Champ) go up to twelve and still sound clean (except for the mighty Fender Champ, but this only happens when you crank it past 8 or 9 on most guitars; in other words; standard live playing level). Then we have Marshall who decided to one-up it by giving it more watts, more speakers, more preamplification for that hard rock sound, and then later going to twenty. Then Mesa Boogie, inspired by Marshall, makes it go even further, creating one of the loudest metal amps. Soldano amps do go up to eleven because of this.
    • Averted by Soldano's daughter company Jet City—the knobs only go to nine, but they have just as much distortion and volume as the up-to-eleven models.
  • In the same vein, guitars can go fretless whenever a guitarist wants to do a lot of slides. It makes much more sense when you're watching it.
  • A lot of the Ermine Cape Effect is due to this, where royalty would do their best to show the most elaborate outfits and dresses they could get tailored, especially in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Age of Imperialism was around those centuries, and all about getting the most colonies.
  • How many times have you heard a supervisor or a coach demand a "110% effort"?
  • The economic theory of Conspicuous Consumption, which says that people buy useless luxury items like diamond-encrusted dog collars to show off their wealth, which prompts others to find even more extravagant ways of showing off, et cetera.
    • Best exemplified by the infamous iPhone application "I Am Rich", which was an application which cost $999.99 (the maximum possible at the iPhone store) and did nothing useful besides showing that its owner is rich. Also, it had a typo.
  • Almost all command-line file compression tools (and some graphical ones) have a "compression level" option from 0-9, from least to most compression. Google's Brotli compression tool goes to 11.
  • The FreeBSD unix based operating system had some problems switching from the 4.x to the 5.x version, forcing them to release a 4.10 and 4.11 "production" versions. They lampshaded it releasing promo material with "4.11, ours goes to eleven" on it.
  • Overclocking computers with the help of liquid nitrogen. Liquid motherfucking nitrogen.
    • Then someone did it with liquid helium. For people who would do such a thing, the achievement is an end itself and there's apparently no such thing as "too much". It's all about the Rule of Cool, not the Rule Of Cooling.
  • The Big Ten college sports conference invited an eleventh member (Penn State) to join in 1990, kept their name as the Big Ten, and added an 11 buried in their logo, which they used until 2010, when the University of Nebraska joined, bringing the total to 12.
    • Ironically, they had only formally adopted the name Big Ten in 1987...
    • The Atlantic 10 sees your eleven and raises you 16... or is it 13... or is it 14? It was 16 before July 2013, when four schools left and one joined; a year later, Davidson joined to bring the number back to 14. Given its members in Missouri and Ohio, the name appears to have become an Artifact Title.
      • Big Ten calls: starting in the 2014–15 season, Rutgers University and the University of Maryland are part of the conference.
    • Quite a few of the major conferences have been wanting to expand to 16 teams since forever, and now it looks like a definite possibility. The Big East was set to have seventeen starting in 2013, but ultimately this didn't end up happening as the seven Catholic schools split off and took the Big East name with them.
      • However, Conference USA (one of the "Group of Five" mid-major football conferences) made it to 16 for 2013–14 only. They dropped back to 14 in July 2014 when three schools left and one joined.
      • Also, the conferences trying to reach 16 should also take a lesson from the Western Athletic Conference. That league actually made it to 16 back in 1996. However, tensions between "old" and "new" members led to eight of the schools leaving in 1999 to form the Mountain West Conference. The WAC then suffered from tremendous instability for over a decade, culminating with three schools leaving in 2012, seven in 2013, and one in 2014. Only one of its current nine members joined before 2012.
    • The 16-team WAC featured some very good teams, like BYU and Wyoming, but collapsed due to bad bowl tie-ins (due to the 6 biggest conferences hoarding the best bowl tie-ins for themselves). Splitting an insignificant amount of money 16+ ways was never going to last, especially given that the geography of the 16-team WAC was such that a natural north-south or east-west split was impossible. A 16-team SEC has a much better chance of surviving due to the fact that they are swimming in money, which would also help to paper over geographic problems.
  • The Badwater Ultramarathon: (from Sports Illustrated) Think of Badwater as five consecutive marathons, only they're uphill (from 280 ft. below sea-level and 8,360 ft. above), held inside a blast furnace (the temperature hovers above 115 degrees — at night) and capable of frying runners' brains like a fistful of peyote (hallucinations caused by sleep deprivation are part of the event's charm).
    • The featured runner, Arthur Webb, has run the thing 12 times and has finished around 48 hours (with a record 36 hours being fourth place) each time, rips his big toenails out so they won't crack as his feet swell in the 130 degree daytime heat, and once lost consciousness... and his pulse (he got better). Oh, and he's 67 years old.
  • In a West Indies vs Australia cricket match from the early 90s, specialist bowlers Mike Whitney and Bruce Reid (both infamously bad batsmen) were in the Australian side. Whitney came to bat at number 10 (second-last), and after he'd swung wildly at a few deliveries, West Indian commentator Michael Holding (who'd never seen either of them play before) said: "can you believe this guy's at number 10?" Ian Chappell replied, "Just you wait. There's someone worse to come."
  • First round of Wimbledon 2010: John Isner versus Nicholas Mahut. They go into a fifth set. Because tie-breakers aren't used in the final set at Wimbledon, the final score of the fifth set was70-68. That's not points; that's games. They were at the game so long it had to be suspended and continued the next day - and then suspended again. It was finally finished two days after it began. Isner, still affected by the length of that match, lost in the second round.
  • The record for career triple-doublesnote  in NCAA Division I basketball has been subject to this in recent years. Before the 2015–16 season, the career record was 6 for men and 7 for women. Then along came...
    • ...Kyle Collinsworth of BYU, who didn't have a triple-double in either of his first two college seasons, but then had 6 both as a junior in 2014–15 and a senior in 2015–16. No one has challenged Collinsworth's record yet on the men's side, and it looked like no one would challenge the total on the women's side. But immediately after he graduated...
    • ...enter Sabrina Ionescu. During her four seasons at Oregon, she took all previous triple-double records beyond eleven. Four as a freshman, six as a sophomore (tying the previous single-season record, which had been the same for both men and women), and a single-season record of eight both as a junior and as a senior. (The cancellation of the 2020 NCAA basketball tournaments due to the coronavirus pandemic kept her from possibly adding even more.) If you're keeping track, that means she broke the previous women's career record midway through her second season and passed Collinsworth in her third. On top of that, Ionescu's 26 triple-doubles are more than the combined total of the next three players on the D-I women's career list (23). Or the top three on the D-I men's career list (24).
  • The Space Shuttle Main Engine can go up to 111% note 
  • The volume on the BBC iPlayer goes up to 11. Not coincidentally, this change was made during the Eleventh Doctor's era.
    • However Sky's goes up to 12. "So there!" (R. Murdoch)
  • VLC media player's volume percentage goes up to 200% in the menu bar then goes on to 400% if you use the scroll wheel over the main window. This isn't just cosmetic, either: The default 100% setting is at the same level as other software, and cranking it higher will manipulate the waveform, clipping and brickwalling it as needed.
    • This is probably for files that were transferred from the (usually non-digital) source at less than full volume — somewhat common for bootleg media ripped from VHS tapes and the like, which also tends to use the weird formats only VLC and a few other obscure players can read. Also handy if your laptop's speakers just aren't very motivated and you can't hear the movie you are trying to watch without giving the audio a kick in the pants.
  • The Russian "Tsar" projects: Tsar Bell, the world's largest bell; Tsar Cannon, the world's largest howitzer; and the more recent Tsar Tank and Tsar Bomb.
  • US Navy slang includes the term "All ahead Bendix." The ship's speed is controlled by a device which was often made by the Bendix company. Their logo was just beyond the maximum setting, so it appeared that "Bendix" was an option for higher speed.
  • The Bugatti Veyron's power gauge stops neatly at 1001. Actually, it tops at about 1200 hp, but the constructors thought 1001 just looked cooler.
    • 1001 metric hp (PS) would make around 987 hp. To keep the power rating at the advertised "over 1001 hp" in both systems of measures, metric and Imperial, Veyron engines make around 1020-1040 hp.
    • While not quite as fast as the Veyron, the HTT Plethore LC-1300 "Canadian Supercar" has a 1,300 horsepower engine and is designed as a 3-seater with the driver's seat and steering column in the centre like a Formula 1 car, and two passengers to the rear flanks of the driver.
  • Brew Dog seem to be brewing the world's strongest beer: Sink the Bismarck. At an alcohol level of 41%, they have REALLY cranked beer up to eleven. It is even drinkable. But the company wisely include a bottle stopper with each sale so that you won't drink a whole beer as strong as whisky in one sitting.
  • One of the TV Tropes forums discusses this in terms of bodybuilding, noting how contestants went from being strongmen who happened to have highly defined muscles (and actually looked pretty good) to freakishly huge guys more obsessed with adding mass than being healthy.
  • Appropriately, at the IMDB page for This Is Spın̈al Tap, the rating is displayed as <number>/11.
    • IGN also gave the movie 11 out of 10.
  • If you thought the Snuggy was bad, behold "Forever Lazy".
  • Advanced Micro Devices used the trope OUTRIGHT in their blog, literally citing the Spinal Tap scene to explain what the Turbo CORE technology does in the Bulldozer processor architecture. The processor will often try to overclock all its cores by as much as 500MHz depending on the workload. If less than all the cores are being used, say in a single or dual-threaded program, it will underclock the unused cores and overclock the used ones even MORE. Depending on the program and conditions, it gives you 4.0GHz OUT OF THE BOX.
    • 4.0 GHz? That's nothing. The FX-9590 shipped with a turbo core frequency of 5.0 GHz at a time when ~4.5 GHz was the norm for top-end processors.
    • At Computex 2018, Intel presented a 28-core processor for high-end desktops and workstations, based on the chipmaker's high-end server chips, overclocked to 5.0 GHz. It took a specialized liquid cooling system which relied on a phase-change water chiller (similar to a refrigerator, only that it cools the coolant in the liquid cooler loop), capable of removing a whopping 1770 watts of heat, for Intel to achieve this extreme combination of core count and clock frequency.
      • As if 28 cores wasn't crazy enough for a desktop CPU, AMD demoed a 32-core processor the very next day at Computex, also derived from server silicon. Although not capable of attaining the same insane clock frequencies, AMD noted that their processor doesn't need specialized cooling and will function just as well on an appropriately-sized air cooler as it would on liquid or more exotic cooling solutions (though it would likely run a bit faster with better cooling due to the way AMD's XFR2 boosting technology works).
      • And now they've announced a 64-core, 128-thread CPU to be released in Q4 2019.
  • Energy drinks, in both can size and caffeine content. Originally an 8.3 oz. can of Red Bull was a lot. Then came other energy drinks that made Red Bull look like tea, and larger can sizes. 16 ounces is the standard, and there are also 24 and 32 ounce cans, as well as boxes.
    • Powerthirst (from this fake commercial), the most EXTREME energy drink. It actually belongs in this section now, because it's REAL.
  • Finnish Navy corvettes "Turunmaa" and "Karjala" used Rolls-Royce Olympus gas turbines (yup, the same as in Concorde), and they were equipped with special restrictors equipped with security seals. The normal maximum speed of those Corvettes was 38 kn, but they logged regularly 43 kn speeds. But when breaking the security seals and overriding the restrictors, the vessels could achieve 50 kn speeds - although the engines would not stand such stress for a long time.
  • War Emergency Power on Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engine. Used on P-47 Thunderbolt, F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair. The WEP device consisted of water-methanol injection on the already turbocharged engine. When breaking the security seals and applying WEP, the pilot could stress some 20% more power momentarily out of the engine than usually.
    • A similar German device was HaHa-Gerät, which injected nitrous oxide (laughing gas) in the engine, supplying extra oxygen and making the engine run hotter.
  • Rubik's Cubes. Thought the 3x3x3 cube was hard? There are cubes up to 7x7x7 commercially available, and a method has been patented that can take the cube's size up to eleven. Computer-simulated cubes can go infinitely higher: How about a 20x20x20 or a 1000x1000x1000 cube? There are also 4-dimensional cubes or even 5D cubes.
    • 5D is so last millennium, they're up to 7D now, 5^7 to be precise.
  • In a recent interview about Bioshock Infinite, the journalist inquired jokingly, "So at what point in development did it become clear that you needed to be flinging horses at the player character?" Ken Levine responded that, " video games, everything always has to be amped up to eleven..." and that they needed to show to the player that the antagonist shown was badass.
  • The TORRO scale for tornadoes goes up to eleven, with the highest ranking T11 tornadoes having wind speeds in excess of 300 mph. Because of its origins as a relationship between the Beaufort scale and Mach speeds, the Fujita Tornado scale goes up to twelve, where a theoretical F12 ranking would have wind speeds that break the sound barrier. Fortunately for us, tornadoes only go up to F5 (at least on this planet).
  • Footballer Nicklas Bendtner's confidence was measured to a ten on a scale that goes to nine.
  • For nurses, the questions on the NCLEX examination can feel like this if you've previously passed the CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) exam.
  • Telescope advances are usually more a case of Bigger Is Better, advancing in leaps and bounds, but the Gran Telescope Canarias, the world's largest and built in 2009, has a main mirror a little over 34 feet across. The previous record holder, the Keck telescope, has a 33-foot-wide main mirror. You could park a bus on the main mirrors of any of them (and cause a gazillion dollars in damage doing so!)
  • The Clock Of The Long Now is a mechanical clock designed to run continuously for the next 10,000, that's ten THOUSAND, years. That is the entire length of human civilization, which is actually their benchmark. They want to build lots of them and scatter them all over the earth.
  • NASCAR racecars, the quintessential "ten" of automotive racing in the USA, rates their cars in the 8-900hp range. The brand new Shelby Mustang's track version takes the horsepower Up to Eleven...hundred.
  • Drag racing, particularly the Top Fuel classes, is the motorsport equivalent of taking things up to eleven, up to eleven. The facts and numbers behind the cars are simply mind-boggling. They literally shake the ground when they launch, to such an extent that a pair of Top Fuel dragsters launching will register 2.3 on the Richter Scale. Theoretically, you could give a twin-turbo Corvette a mile-long head start, cross the line at 200 mph, at which point the dragster takes off, and the 'Vette will still be beaten in the last quarter-mile.
    • A *ahem* "lesser" example would be the Pro Stock class, which the NHRA limits to a maximum engine displacement of 500ci (~8.2L.) Several other sanctioning bodies run Pro Stocks, only without the displacement cap. 800ci (13.1L) and up engines are common, and one company sells a 1,000ci engine.
  • Inverted by architect Antoni Gaudí, who designed the Sagrada Família cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, to be exactly one metre lower than Montserrat hill, dominating the Barcelona landscape. He said my works shall not exceed the Lord's works.
  • On the Tesla Model S, the audio system goes to 11.
  • Aggregated Diamond Nanorods do exactly this. The Mohs scale of hardness, based on the ability of harder materials to scratch softer ones, goes from 1 to 10, with 10 being diamond. But we now have a substance hard enough to scratch diamond, so it has indeed taken it up to eleven.
  • Most guitarists love to have their amplifiers play as loud as possible. For this reason, Fender Musical Instruments specifically built all their classic "Reverb" Tube-amplifiers with knobs that go from 0 and all the way up to 12! Why? Because someone complained that "Up to Eleven isn't loud enough!"
  • Menards, a home improvement store found mainly in the Midwestern United States, is known for regularly offering 11% discounts during sales.
  • There was a small war, if you will, between motorcycle companies for fastest production motorcycle:
    • In 1990, Kawasaki comes out with the Ninja ZX-11 that breaks the record for fastest production motorcycle ever at 176 mph or 283 km/h.
    • In 1996, Honda counters that with the CBR1100XX Super Blackbird that goes up to 180 mph or 290 km/h.
    • Then Suzuki laughs at them and in 1999 brings out the GSX1300R Hayabusa, topping the record at 194 mph or 314 km/h to be the first motorcycle to not only surpass the 300 km/h mark but pass it comfortably. In fact, the name Hayabusa refers to the peregrine falcon, which preys on blackbirds. After this, the companies decided in a gentlemen's agreement to stop this after 2000 and limited all bikes to go no faster than 300 km/h in fear that regulations may be imposed. The Hayabusa held the record for fastest production motorcycle for over 10 years.
    • In 2013, Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati decided that they aren't bound to such an agreement and comes out with the Ducati Panigale R, topping out at 202 mph or 325 km/h.
    • But in 2015, Kawasaki decides a Japanese manufacturer will take back the fastest bike crown and comes out with the Ninja H2R with a supercharged, inline-4, 990cc engine that makes 310 horsepower. Its top speed? One professional rider managed to get 249 mph or 400 km/h on a (closed) public highway. To get a sense of how mind-boggling this bike is, its power-to-weight ratio is comparable to Formula One cars, nearly twice as good as the fastest production sports cars, and around 10 to 20 times better than your typical passenger car.
  • When you tell the Amazon Echo this, the device sets maximum volume.
  • When setting volume on the Google Home, eleven lights are displayed, and it is set to maximum volume.
  • The National Weather Service was forced to do this with their rainfall gauge! When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas in August 2017, the rainfall totals only went up to 20 inches plus. However, when Hurricane Harvey made landfall, it made the unprecedented move of parking itself on land, suddenly dumping over fifty inches of rain on certain locations. To fix this, they added new shades of purple to push the gauge to 30 inches plus - Harvey stalling was rare, but they knew that days they hit that sort of total would become the norm.
  • In motor racing, soft tyres offer better grip at the cost of lower durability. In 2018, Formula One drivers have the choice of Soft, Super Soft, and Ultra Soft.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: