Serious Sam 3 is a constant prelude to itself, an ode to destruction forever building to greater crescendos, an orgy of cartoon violence that keeps on inviting new participants instead of slowing down and catching its breath. Each new weapon marks a leap upwards in the scale of its increasingly absurd onslaught of enemies and crumbling scenery, and each time you’ll think "good grief, this is ridiculous. There’s no way it can top this." But it does. It always does.
—Rock Paper Shotgun on Serious Sam 3.
Some series push themselves up and over the top, surpassing the bar they just set themselves a few episodes ago. Then they do it again. And again. And again.
Serial Escalation isn't meant to be confused with the buildup to season finales or a plot climax, but rather a consistent escalation in events that always exceeds what a viewer would expect. When this is done well, a new Crowning Moment of Awesome is, at any given moment, just around the corner. When done poorly, what would constitute as a Crowning Moment of Awesome can feel ordinary, or even absurd.
Not to be confused with Up to Eleven, where a series, group, or artist make a point of topping whatever was the latest, greatest thing (including if it was their own thing). To make a Serial Escalation is to create an enormous stack of such occurrences, generating a series of events that top the prior consecutively. Compare Awesomeness Is Volatile, which describes the hypothetical point at which such a process goes critical, resulting in an explosion of awesomeness (or, as noted, in a fizzle if the bomb is a dud).
For events that are actually impossible, go to Beyond the Impossible.
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