Series / America's Got Talent

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America's Got Talent is a Talent Show created by Simon Cowell which takes the American Idol concept and expands it to pretty much anything you think people will pay to see — or not, in the case of the bad acts. It was launched in 2006 and is still ongoing. People audition to win $1,000,000 and, since Season 3, a contract to perform in Las Vegas (usually via a tour featuring them and other high-ranking participants from the season). One of the main features of the show is the panel of judges who can each hit a buzzer during acts they hate, and if all judges buzz an act then it ends then and there.

The show has been hosted by Regis Philbin (Season 1), Jerry Springer (Seasons 2 and 3), and Nick Cannon (Season 4 onward); and the judges are (current ones in bold):
  • Singer and actress Brandy Norwood (Season 1)
  • Actor David Hasselhoff (Seasons 1-4)
  • Infamous tabloid journalist and editor Piers Morgan, in his North American debut (Seasons 1-6)
  • Music manager and wife of Ozzy Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne (Seasons 2-7)
  • Comedian and former host of Deal or No Deal Howie Mandel (Season 5 onward)
  • Controversial Shock Jock Howard Stern (Seasons 7-10)
  • Former Spice Girl Melanie Brown aka "Mel B" (Season 8 onward)
  • Model and fashion designer Heidi Klum (Season 8 onward)
  • Got Talent creator, former American Idol judge, music agent, and iconic Mean Brit Simon Cowell (Season 11 onward)

    Stages 
The competition usually takes place in three stages:
  • The first half of each season sees the judges travel the country holding open auditions, putting forward any act that's worthy enough to consider. If an act gets a majority of judges to vote in their favor, then they go through to the next round. Starting in Season 9, judges also get a golden buzzer that they can each use once in the audition stage to send an act through regardless of the other judges' votes.
  • In the middle phase, all the decent acts are gathered and the judges choose which ones are actually going to compete in the live shows. ** Seasons 1-9, "Vegas Week" ("Judgment Week" in Season 9 due to not taking place in Las Vegas that year): A short one- or two-episode intermediate stage where judges were generally given free reign, usually having acts do another private performance but just as often putting them through or rejecting them based on the strength of their audition.
    • Season 10 onward, "Judge Cuts" (due to being more than one week of episodes): After the field is narrowed down offscreen, all remaining acts (except ones who had received the golden buzzer) are split into four groups of twenty and perform again in front of an audience with only seven per group selected to go to the live shows. An additional guest judge is also brought in for each group and is able to unilaterally select one winning act with their own golden buzzer.
  • The last half of the season takes place in Hollywood (Seasons 1-6, 11) or New York (Seasons 7-10) with live shows where viewers vote on who goes forward, though the judges get to pick between acts on the fence (for example, the top three vote-getters go through and the judges choose between the fourth- and fifth-place acts), and they still offer their opinions and can use their buzzers to register displeasure.

A few Season 5 performers, Jackie Evancho, Prince Poppycock, and Lindsey Stirling, have their own trope pages.

Britain's Got Talent is its Transatlantic Equivalent, and various other countries have their own local "Got Talent" counterparts.

This show contains examples of:

  • Ascended Fanboy: Howard Stern has talked about how he was a fan of the show before becoming one of the judges.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: I give you Derrick Barry (Season 3), so hot, he has The Hoff questioning his sexuality.
  • Back for the Finale: Many seasons bring a bunch of acts back to do a big number or two together, one with semi- and quarterfinalists and one with So Bad, It's Good acts from the audition rounds.
  • Badass Preacher: Real Encounter (season 9): a group of members of the ministry who do stunt biking. Hilariously, Howard joked that their name sounded like a porn site before he found out what they actually do.
  • Bald of Awesome: Howie naturally, though a Season 9 act had a guy playing three other bald guys as bongos.
  • Belly Dancer: A pair of them in Season 5. Piers and Howie didn't even try to hide their Hello, Nurse! reactions.
  • Berserk Button:
    Sharon: Nobody, nobody disrespects my husband, so f*** off!
  • Beware the Nice Ones: See Berserk Button.
  • Bias Steamroller:
    • Heidi Klum is admittedly biased against stand-up comedy, on the grounds that she feels that they aren't the type of act she would take her family to see or she feels they don't fill the stage too well. This brought her into conflict with Season 8 comedian Taylor Williamson, but thanks to his hilarious banter with her after his performances, he managed to win her over. On the other hand, Howie Mandel is appropriately biased in favor of comedians, as he acknowledges that the art is very difficult to master and that comedy is subjective.
    • Howie is also admittedly biased against dance acts, as he often states that they look too much like a dance recital and not as a Vegas Act.
  • Big Budget Beef-Up: Happens in the live show rounds for obvious reasons. These performances usually have better costumes, better sets, and - all too often - gratuitous backup dancers.
  • Bizarre Instrument: These show up from time to time, like ArcAttack's use of lightning generators in Season 5 and William Close stringing up the entire theater as in instrument in Season 7. An unsuccessful contestant, Ray Saunders played a turkey baster.
  • Broadcast Live: When the acts compete for the audiences' votes, it switches to live broadcast.
  • Brutal Honesty: Piers and Howard have played the role of the judge who gives out the most of this.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Season 6 had an act called the Miami All-Stars ran by a married couple, a group of very talented dancers. Season 7 would feature the Untouchables, which the married couple from the Miami All-Stars had trained. Then Season 8 had the youngest Untouchable dancer, Ruby, and her partner, and her brother with his partner. Both were eliminated very early on in the final cut and the first set of live shows.
    • Season 10 introduced "Judge Cuts" where a guest judge joins in along with the other four judges. One of them is former judge, Piers Morgan.
    • The Russian Bar Trio that had to leave Season 3 due to injury returned in Season 11 to try again.
    • On the longest buss trip so far, jugglers The Passing Zone from season 1 returned on season 11.
  • Butt Monkey:
    • Being the host, poor Nick is the go-to choice whenever an act needs an assistant of some sort. This usually results in him being put in danger or humiliated, sometimes both. Howie lampshades this during a clip show in Season 9, noting Nick has the toughest job on the show and it's to the point a performer just has to ask him to come on stage for the judges to crack up, because they know what's coming.
    • Piers became one in Season 6, mainly due to Howie's mischief.
    • Ventriloquist Paul Zerdin turned Howie into one in Season 10's semifinals, by making Howie his dummy and having him "say" things he had no choice but to go along with.
      "Howie": [paraphrased] I thought I'd like to show you my twerking!
  • Camp Gay:
    • Prince Poppycock, though it seems the "Camp" part is just a stage persona.
    • Daniel Joseph Baker from season 6 complete with Lady Gaga songs.
    • The campiest has to be Leonid the Magnificent from Seasons 1, 2, and 6.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Dani Shay, the Bifauxnen 22-year old girl from Season 6 who looks and sings like Justin Bieber. She has a good sense of humor about it; her audition was a Bieber parody song poking fun.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Howie uses "Wow!" in his reviews often, as in "There's just one word to describe you: Wow!" or, in some negative reviews, "I was looking for 'Wow' but didn't see it."
    • Mel B often responds to acts she really likes by saying they were "OFF THE CHAIIIIIN!"
  • Child Prodigy:
    • Season 5 had Jackie Evancho, an 11-year-old classical singer who many remarked is on the level of adult professionals.
    • Season 9 saw Adrian Romoff, a 9 year old classical pianist who is in high school.
    • Season 10 saw 5-year old Heidi-esque Heavenly Joy Jerkins, 13-year old Mariachi singer Alondra Santos, and 11-year old opera singer Arielle Baril.
    • Season 11 has Kadan Bart Rockett, a 10-year old illusionist who can pull off large-scale tricks such as pulling many girls out of a box or escaping a wall of advancing chainsaws while handcuffed. It helps that his father is a large-scale magician himself.
    • The winner of Season 11, Grace VanderWaal was a 12-year old singer-songwriter who exclusively played original songs. She is the second-youngest contestant to win the show after Bianca Ryan.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Several of the hopeless auditionees are downright weird. Most notably, Ronald Farnham whose act is throwing plungers onto five hairy guys' backs to make them stick. He even says that he's trying to inspire people with his act.
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: One of many NBC shows that abuses this.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: A lot of acts are either so fantastic, or so ridiculous, that there's no way they can succeed, but they do.
    • From Season 7 is a man playing a broom shaft like a flute.
    • Season 10 brings Piff the Magic Dragon, a comedy magician who comes on-stage in a cheesy cheap dragon costume and claims he's a real dragon. Then he does real magic with a dash of good comedy, and somehow it works, as he made it to the top 10.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Sharon Osbourne immediately starts applauding when an animal act opens with a bunch of cats jumping out of a box. In fact, she acts like this with just about every animal act.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Nick Cannon, in response to some of the more unusual acts.
    • Piff the Magic Dragon, a British comedian who performs magic tricks in a dragon suit, is a hilarious example who became one of Season 10's first success stories.
  • Deaf Composer: Season 10 has two: Benjamin Yonattan, who continues to dance even as his eyesight is rapidly deteriorating and having a skin condition that makes him bruise and hurt himself much easier than he should; and Drew Lynch, a comedian whose severe stutter interferes with telling jokes. In Drew's case, he compensated by making most of his jokes about his stutter.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: There's always a few acts that probably wouldn't get as far as they did if they weren't cute kids, and at least one such act will have a comment to the effect that while the act is amazing itself, it's even more amazing because the performer(s) is/are so young.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The Season 10 failed act named the Gem City Jewels.
  • Disabled Snarker: Drew Lynch, a comedian in Season 10 who has a severe stutter. Most of his jokes revolve around making light of his condition.
  • Don't Think, Feel: Quoted verbatim by Rogue, a danger magician, when he and Mel B participate in Russian roulette with staple guns and Mel says that she thinks a gun is empty.
  • Enemy Mime: During the Season 9 auditions, one incident involved a mime that got really hostile when he was buzzed. Subverted as it was Nick playing a prank.
  • Epic Fail: For a talent show, there are surprisingly a lot of fail acts that are weird, dangerous, or just plain stupid. This particular act goes to show that not all America Got Talent.
    • Primitivo Montoya's audition in season 6 began with him singing and dancing poorly to Taio Cruz's "Dynamite", with Piers the first to make his opinion known. Then, he breakdanced right off the stage. Somehow unscathed, he got right back up on stage and continued from where he left off, but not before Howie hit everyone else's buzzer to finally end it.
    • In Season 6, Kinetic King spent two or three days setting up a Chain-Reaction Gadget (NOT a Rube Goldberg Device) for his first Hollywood performance, but when the time came to set it off it failed to do much of anything for no discernible reason. To everybody's credit, he took the failure in stride and the audience and judges acted sympathetically. (He was later given a do-over on the Wild Card show, and America put him through to the semifinals.)
    • The YouTube episode for Season 7 was a failure on so many levels, with the largest number of acts ever buzzed in one quarterfinal. It really says something about your show when one of the highlights of the night was a dancing handkerchief. It's also telling that this was the last time they did such a show.
    • Cristin Sandu, a balancing act from season 7, fell on-stage in his quarterfinal, abruptly ending his performance. He said afterwards that he never fell before in a performance. He was brought back for the Wild Card, but fell again, and was visibly frustrated afterwards.
    • For one that never made it to air, comedian The Greg Wilson performed a bit in the Season 8 auditions that he stole... from the warm-up man, Frank Nicotero... who was standing right there... and it was his signature bit. Which Howie showed the other judges on YouTube. Wilson got past the judges at first, but was promptly disqualified for theft and his footage cut from the broadcast before airing. For more info, here's a Game Show Garbage column about the incident.
    • Season 8 had Ronald Farnham throw plungers onto the backs of his friends to make them stick, only to throw ten and get only one to stick.
    • Similarly to Cristin Sandu, ladder balancing act Uzeyer Novruzov fell in Season 10's semifinals. He wasn't seriously hurt, and did well enough in audience votes to make it to the finals, but it did mean that he couldn't perform at his best in the final show.
  • Escape Artist: Spencer Horsman (Season 7), who claims to be the world's youngest escapist; and Alexandria the Great (Season 8), who is a middle-aged female escape artist.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Found amongst the many YouTube comments on Prince Poppycock was "I'm not gay, but if I were, I'd want to test those lips." Stupid Sexy Prince Poppycock?
  • Face Palm: In Season 3, David Hasselhoff throws one out to a botched magic act. Later on in Season 6, Piers does the "both hands on face" variation in response to the Wild-Card return of "Those Funny Little People."
  • Freudian Trio: The judge panel played out like this until it became a four-judge panel.
    • Id: David, Howie.
    • Ego: Brandy, Sharon
    • Superego: Piers, Howard (the latter leans a bit towards ego thanks to some lightheartedness, though)
  • Funny Background Event: In Season 8, Kenichi Ebina became known for dance routines that interacted with prerecorded footage played behind him; and after one based on a Mirror Routine the footage kept going even after the act ended, with "Mirror!Kenichi" playing around during the judging.
  • Gag Boobs: Busty Heart, an auditionee in Season 3, whose boobs were so big she crushed cans with them.
  • Genre Blind: Despite slow, sleepy acts in the quarter-finals and beyond being pretty much a guarantee of getting axed from the competition, people keep trying them.
    • Defied by magician Derek Hughes, who deliberately did such an act in the semifinals; explaining that he wanted to show his range and that he could do small-scale magic as well as big spectacles. The judges accepted this explanation and Howard in particular supported it.
  • Genre-Busting: Kenichi Ebina. Is he a dancer? Mime? Video director? What he does defies explanation. When he returns to perform during the finals in the next season, Nick lampshades it's hard to classify what he does.
  • Groin Attack: One performer in Season 5 had a vaguely-defined act that seemed to center around setting his crotch on fire. In itself...not very funny. Getting buzzed almost immediately by two of the judges, followed by Nick (who had gotten roped into helping him by handing him a lighter) begging Howie to press the final buzzer? Probably not the kind of laughs he intended, but...
  • Hopeless Auditionees: Many genuine, but with a few notable subversions. Admit it, how many of you thought Prince Poppycock was going to be a train wreck before he started singing?
    • Definitely worthy of mention is Leonid the Magnificent. He auditioned in Season 1 with a unique performance (and in a Stripperiffic outfit and was rejected. Hasselhoff brought him back, probably just to watch a train wreck. He performed a hula hoop dance wearing a tube thong and a pair of shorts and was again rejected. He returned for Season 2, eliciting an "Oh no" from David. Sharon enjoyed the camp of his act and Piers put him through just to piss off David. He was quite obviously eliminated later. He returned again in Season 6 with a quick change act (including one behind an "I Love Piers" banner. Piers' reaction was classic. Sharon still loved him. Howie was impressed by his ability to change up his act.
    • The biggest subversion of them all? Kenichi Ebina, the Japanese immigrant who many thought was going to be another train wreck based on the fact that his English was broken and the claim that he didn't dance so much as do "dance-ish" moves. Then his performance began, and his "dance-ish" moves were actually pretty impressive. He got even better in the live shows, where he flawlessly combined his moves with prerecorded footage, and he ultimately won.
    • At least as big a subversion as Kenichi is Season 10's "Professional Regurgitator", who is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. He didn't win, but he managed to make it to the finals and earn fourth place with an act of swallowing stuff and bringing it back up.
  • Hypocrite:
    • In the semi-finals of Season 8, Mel B told The Amazing Red Panda she doesn't like her performance since she's seen her do it it before. Yet she used her Wildcard pick on Tone the Chiefrocca, the aspiring one-hit wonder artist who sings the same song every time he comes on.
    • Piers in Season 3 said no to Billy Dodson, a man singing female opera, in which he told him to sing like a man, yet on Britain's Got Talent he said yes to another guy who did the same thing.
  • In the Style of...: Some musical acts like to take a hit song and recast it into their own music genre. Season 8 has seen "Call Me Maybe" and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" in the style of a symphony orchestra, "I'm Sexy and I Know It" in the style of mariachi, and all of Cami Bradley's performances.
  • Incendiary Exponent: A common tactic among acts. For example in Season 6, Sandou Trio Russian Bar added it to a bed of nails, and Summerwind Skippers added it to a long jump rope.
  • Inept Talent Show Contestant: The presence of these in the early rounds is kind of a given.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Type A happens all the time; numerous acts are applauded by the judges not merely for their talent, but for coming out to perform and being so good at their talent in spite of their handicap.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks:invoked The Judges often don't think too highly of acts that do things they've seen before, or acts that keep relying on the same stunts.
    • In the early seasons, Stage Magician acts were victim to this on the grounds that they've seen all the tricks before. Drew Thomas Magic called them out on this in Season 4.
    • In Season 1 they slammed Quick Change for having just one routine they repeated every time they were on, with Piers becoming very annoyed and insulting for their final two appearances (he began Xing them at that point). (Also, when they did a guest performance in Season 5, it was the same act again. Despite this, they claim to have a 90-minute routine.)
    • After their Top 10 performance, West Springfield Dance Team was criticized by the judges for being too same throughout Season 6. In an interesting variation, it was the theme of their performances (dark, broody production values), not their actual dancing, that bored the judges.
    • Tone the Chiefrocca fared better than Quick Change did in doing the same act every week with "B-Double O-T-Y" in Season 8 - it helped that they admitted up front that they had only one song which they intended to ride as long as they could - but by the time they were eliminated some of the judges noted that the song had run its course.
    • Discussed in the Season 8 finale by comedians Howie and Taylor Williamson, as the performers were supposed to go back and revisit a prior act - but that doesn't work for comedy, as jokes aren't as funny the second time they're told. Most of the humor in Taylor's subsequent act came from his ridiculous attempts to enhance old jokes, rather than the jokes themselves.
  • Iwo Jima Pose: Utilized by dance group Silhouette in their Season 6 "Thank You America" performance.
  • Jerkass:
    • Piers runs on Brutal Honesty, but often crosses into just plain mean. Not only have several child contestants been brought to tears by his comments, but he's advised family acts that one particular member of the group is the best and they're being held back performing with their family who aren't as good.
    • Howard Stern's ego is almost as out of control as Piers at times, and he will talk over the other judges when it comes time to comment on the acts and they try to disagree with him.
  • Jerk Ass Has A Point: Most people do begrudgingly agree with Piers' and Howard's decisions on bad performances.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Piers and Howard are nicer to more talented performers. Likewise, Howard is nicer to children, and he feels guilty when he unintentionally makes a seven-year old rapper cry and Piers will sometimes let hopeless auditionees finish their act.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Doogie Horner did this during the Season 5 wild card show.
    "It feels great to be back on this show that America has clearly said they have no desire to see me on."
    • Taken one step further in his quarter-final show when he makes a misogyny joke...and a troupe of pig-mask wearing showgirls dance on stage while he hits himself over the head with the mike.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: Special Head in Season 8 was able to do something of this sort in his audition, but it failed during the live show.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: The specialty of Season 5 competitors ArcAttack, who made music with it.
  • Love Redeems: One contestant in Season 10's auditions is a mentalist-magician. He openly admits to being a former confidence man who was in jail. He willingly turned himself into the police after he met a woman on a con and fell genuinely in love with her. She waited for him during his five-year sentence.
  • Made of Iron: The Smage Bros., a stunt biking act in Season 6, have this opinion of their assistant Troy Smalls, as he risks his life getting injured constantly, and does get injured at times, but keeps coming back.
  • The Mean Brit:
    • Piers, although he really will compliment acts that are good more often than Simon does on American Idol. Still, he's the only judge who still made regular use of his buzzer once the competition moved into the popular-vote phase.
    • Simon Cowell himself (who's also the franchise's creator) became a judge starting with Season 11. One 13-year-old classical singer named Laura Bretan lampshaded this in her highlight segment, knowing that if you're not good enough, Simon will say so. Compared to American Idol, though, he seems to have softened up except for music acts, and even so, he's far more constructive instead of venomous towards singers.
  • Memetic Hand Gesture: During introductions, Howie does a thing where he waves his hand in front of his face and ends up pointing, and Sharon holds her hands in a heart symbol. Late in Season 7, Howard would poke fun at these by making a Running Gag of doing his own elaborate hand gestures for his introduction.
  • Muppet Cameo: Terry Fator got to preform with Kermit in the Season 2 finals, where they got "judged" by the Swedish Chef, Beaker, and Animal. Kermit and Piggy were also guest performers in Season 4 (and when Nick got annoyed by some of the chicken backup singers, he threatened to sic contestant Kevin Skinner - a chicken farmer in his day job - on them). They appeared in a Season 9 show as well, even performing a Hostile Takeover of the intro sequence after Nick tried to tell Miss Piggy she wouldn't be performing (emphasis on "tried").
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Donald Braswell, who finished fourth in Season 3, got into the Top 40 because a Russian Bar act had to withdraw due to injury. Since then the judges get to make Wild Card picks of previously-eliminated acts to give another try in the semifinals. The Russian Bar Trio would later get their own second chance when they returned to compete in Season 11.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Comes up from time to time, but two blatant back-to-back examples during Season 7's auditions: First, episode promos suggested that a human cannonball stunt would go horribly wrong when in reality it went fine; and then the next episode showed that a girl would get hurt during an act that involved a chainsaw - but the injury was that she got lockjaw from holding a huge apple in her mouth during the act, not anything chainsaw-related.
    • Another from Season 8 had a commercial for the final auditions episode of the season that implied there was going to be a "Susan Boyle moment" (as said by Howard Stern). It showed an old woman with white hair that's curled like Stern's coming out to the stage before the words "Susan Boyle moment" was said. When she finally came out near the end of the episode, it turned out that she was a bad singer who was simply a big fangirl of Howard and likely only came on the show to meet him. Stern, who was on stage with her rather than in his seat as shown on the commercial, did say the words, but it was obvious that Susan Boyle she ain't. NBC, you trolls.
  • Nice Hat: Anything worn or made by Hannibal Means (Season 5).
    • Michael Grimm (also from Season 5) is rockin' that fedora.
    • Howie got one in Season 7, though for one show (shown both that night and in a behind-the-scenes montage the next night) he couldn't make up his mind to wear it or not.
    • Season 7 again: sand artist Joe Castillo's beret, though Howard isn't a fan of it.
    • Season 10's Paul Ponce juggles with four of them.
  • The Not-Love Interest:
    • The guitarist and singer duo Eric and Olivia (season 7) get confused for being a couple by many people, including the judges. They're really just close friends (Eric actually has a girlfriend).
    • Season 9 has a pair of male dancers; one gay, one straight, and they keep having to clarify that they're not a couple.
  • Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: As Geechy Guy said in Season 6, deferring to Howie after being put down by Piers:
    Well, since I'm not exactly sure what Piers does for a living I think I'll go with the opinion of the actual comedian.
  • Old Media Playing Catch-Up: Averted; the first seven seasons had a special round where people audition over a social networking site (originally MySpace, later YouTube). In Seasons 5-7, the guest performances for the YouTube results shows are viral video stars as well. This was dropped after Season 7, as beyond Jackie Evancho they've almost never produced anything good from these special MySpace/YouTube shows (and the S7 show was a particularly big failure); Season 9 has its own home-submission contest but run through The Today Show rather than a website.
  • One-Hit Wonder: invoked Tone the Chiefrocca in Season 8 aimed to become this with his rap number "B-Double-O-T-Y".
  • One Steve Limit: Averted between Seasons 7 and 10, which include a Howie and a Howard on the judging panel (Mandel and Stern, respectively).
  • Overly Long Gag: Mary Ellen (Season 5) as a whole.
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: Trained parrot acts occasionally appear. Season 6 had a couple get past Vegas Week, though they didn't last long in the vote.
  • Product Placement: In the audition rounds there's a sponsor-branded segment (always a snack food or drink company) where the judges discuss the acts backstage; for the live rounds this is replaced with an segment during the results shows, where the performers are shown hanging out after the previous night's show and Nick or one of the judges chats with them. Sponsors also get their name attached to various events in the show, like special episodes or votes, or if it's a drink brand their name will be on cups on the judges' table.
  • Refuge in Audacity: A few acts are actually able to make it through the audition round due to sheer audacity.
  • Review Ironic Echo: When this contestant in Season 5 chose to audition with the song "You're No Good," Piers Morgan remarked, "I don't think I've ever seen a singer choose a more appropriate song to sing. What was the lyric again? 'You're no good, you're no good, you're no good, you're no good!'"
  • The Roast:
    • J. Chris Newberg gave one to Piers in Season 6. Ironically, it was this performance that he was able to win Piers over after being a target of his criticism in all previous episodes.
    • For the traditional performance with a celebrity in Season 7's finale, comedian Tom Cotter teamed up with Joan Rivers to roast the judges and Nick.
    • Season 10 had another in its finale; Drew Lynch and Gary Vider traded a few barbs, but Howie said they were too nice and so brought in special guest "Roastmaster General" Jeff Ross to help them, who took shots at everyone from the two finalists to the judges to Donald Trump in the Republican debate also airing that night.
  • The Runner-Up Takes It All: A few acts may not have won, but they went on to be successful regardless. In Season 5, they brought back some alumni for guest performances: dance group JabbaWockeeZ auditioned in Season 2 before hitting it big on America's Best Dance Crew and moving on to a successful tour and Las Vegas contract; Season 4's third-placers, Recycled Percussion, now have a show in Vegas as well; and Quick Change's act from Season 1 became a YouTube hit and are now the NBA's official halftime act.
    • It's been theorized that the only reason that 10-year-old Jackie Evancho was the runner-up in Season 5 is that producers felt uncomfortable about having a 10-year-old act in Las Vegas. (Season 1 did not have a Las Vegas deal in its grand prize, allowing 11-year-old Bianca Ryan to win the competition without any regrets.) Possibly disproven with Grace Vanderwaal, a 12-year-old ukulele-playing pop singer, winning Season 11.
    • Lindsey Stirling made it as far as the quarter-finals in Season 5. Thanks to subsequent exposure on YouTube, she now has a lucrative touring and recording career. Came full circle when she returned to perform as an act in the Vegas rounds of Season 9 and it was mentioned she's done pretty well for herself after losing in Season 5.
    • Subverted with Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. and Silhouettes, as both were very good performers with the former performing jazz around the country and the latter becoming motivational speakers.
  • Running Gag:
    • In season 6, Piers started poking fun at Nick's (often strange) suits in response to his questioning Piers' usual "jerk judge" methods.
    • Piers and Howard have a policy to buzz any juggling act if they dropped one of their items.
    • Howie and Howard's invoked Ho Yay.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Played up in Season 8, where a brother and sister performed in different dance duos (see The Bus Came Back above), and the show pit them directly against each other as many times as possible.
  • The Silent Bob: Tapeface in Season 11, a mime act who tapes his mouth shut (as you might have guessed from the name) and refuses to remove it even for things like backstage interview segments.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Howie and Piers really don't get along; even at their best it was Teeth-Clenched Teamwork. When Piers returned as a guest judge in Season 10, the two acknowledged this and the editors played it up all they could.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Piers has a tendency to act, and sometimes outright say, that Sharon's and Howie's opinions are wrong, solely because they conflict with his. For example, in Season 6 Lys Agnes's performance got a lukewarm reception from Howie and Sharon. Then came time for Piers:
    "Lys...ignore them. They’re talking complete claptrap."
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: As part of his utter deadpan-ness, Piff the Magic Dragon (Season 10) usually spent the post-act judging preparing a snack. One time he even received a takeout delivery while the judges critiqued him.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Invoked by Ryan Stock and Amberlynn Walker in their first live round performance in Season 11, where Ryan's sword swallowing act was accompanied by a 1960's sitcom-style staging and "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" playing in the background, presumably to soften the impact of the otherwise gruesome and bizarre things they were doing to begin with.
  • Stage Magician: There's usually a fair amount of these acts. Mat Franco (season 9) is the first (and so far, only) magician to win the show.
  • Stealth Parody: Chipps Cooney's act in Season 5. Howie and Sharon thought he was hilarious, but Piers refused to believe he was going for Stylistic Suck. In the same season, Howie thought that this was what the Indian impersonator was going for...but given his reaction to Howie's explanation of it, he was just bad. In both of these, Howie was directing the respective acts and his fellow judges to see the So Bad, It's Good part.
  • The Stoic: Season 8's Sprice.
  • Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks: The aspiring One-Hit Wonder Tone the Chiefrocca and his song "B-Double-O-T-Y" in Season 8.
  • Subverted Punchline: After Piff the Magic Dragon introduced himself in Season 10, he then said that you've probably heard of his brother... Steve.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Used by magician Mat Franco in his final act:
    Howie couldn't walk far, so he stepped towards the bar to tell a joke to a chick.
    But just as before he fell on the floor. She said "What a d-... despicable person!"
  • Talent Show Version: Of course.
  • Take That, Audience!: Piers delivered this when it was revealed male pole dancer Steven Retchless was in the Season 6 semifinals.
    Piers: I think America did get it wrong.
  • Television Serial: Rarely, a performer may do a continuous narrative throughout all their acts. One who has done this is Freelusion Dance Company (Season 10). As of yet, none have gotten to the finals to be able to finish their story.
  • Tempting Fate: When Terry Fator first took the stage, Hasselhoff infamously commented "Oh no, a ventriloquist." The hosts love to point out the irony in that statement whenever Terry returns for a performance.
  • Terrified of Germs: Howie's a well-known germophobe. It can get hilarious (in a Crosses the Line Twice kind of way) when a performer, intentionally or not, hits his panic button (see Dan Sperry in the Season 5 YouTube episode or the very first audition of Season 6).
  • That Came Out Wrong: While critiquing Lys Agnes' top 48 performance in Season 6, Howie starts off the way the other two judges did, by saying she looked stunning, however, he then added "The things I want to do to you." When everyone reacted, he clarified that he meant that he wanted to get a lot of people to vote for her.
    • He did it again at one point in Season 7, commenting that he didn't realize what he was saying until it came out of his mouth.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: invoked Many acts will change up their act during the later rounds in an attempt to show the full range of their talent and keep things fresh. Sometimes it works, other times the judges are unimpressed, complaining "that isn't what we put you through on". Oftentimes, though, this is justified, as they aren't very good at whatever else they are trying to do. One of the most extreme instances came in Season 5 with Chipps Conney, a magician who relied on Stylistic Suck to make his act comedic. After getting through to Vegas on that, he suddenly dropped the magic act and decided to do a striptease-like dance. The judges were as confused as hell, and apparently America agreed since he didn't go through.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Howie, during the same season with his antagonism of Piers. Just because the guy's mean doesn't mean you need to spray him with water from a squirt bottle then blow an air horn to drown him out.
  • Too Quirky to Lose: Practically one of the show's selling points; there are a lot of weird acts that go on this show, and some of them go quite far.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Britain's Got Talent.
  • Troll:
    • Piers does this a bit in playing up his Mean Brit role (Nick even tends to call him an "ogre" when he buzzes cute kid acts). In turn, Howie trolled Piers in Season 6; even bringing back Those Funny Little People as one of his Wild Card picks just so he could watch Piers recoil in horror (whether Howie's trolling is Kick the Dog or Kick the Son of a Bitch is up to the viewer).
    • During his time on the show, Howard Stern often compared bad female music groups to the Spice Girls to get a rise out of Mel B.
  • Ventriloquism: A few show up every season. In Season 2, the judges dreaded them and prepared themselves for the worst when they saw Terry Fator... and then he started singing. Also notable was Paul Zerdin, who won Season 10.
  • Visual Puns: The audition performance of Hopeless Auditionee Al Harris in Season 8 revolved around these - for instance, he pulled out a multi-hued window shade and proclaimed "I'm color-blind!" To be fair, he was committed to his performance and some of his jokes were Actually Pretty Funny.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Piers and Howie. Howard and Howie pick up the act to a lesser extent after Piers leaves.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Quite a bit of contestants.
    • Jackie Evancho on Season 5, and how! She has the voice of a pro-level soprano, and she was only eleven years old at the time.
    • Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. in Season 6. He's a big black guy with dreadlocks and facial hair, and he has a voice reminiscent of Sinatra.
    • Andrew De Leon in Season 7 is a goth kid with freaky eyes and guyliner... and he busts out a feminine opera voice.
      • Season 8 saw another operatic performance, this time coming out of a big black dude.
        Howie: [in disbelief] You didn't swallow Jackie Evancho, did you?!
    • Also from Season 8: Anna Christine is a 10 year old who sounds at least 10 years older when singing and even talking!
      • Season 8's Aaralyn O'Neil is essentially the opposite of Andrew de Leon — cute-as-a-button six-year-old girl singing a death metal/screamo song called "Zombie Skin."
  • Waxing Lyrical: Auditionees will occasionally ask Mel B if they're what she wants, what she really really wants.
  • Weak, but Skilled: In a way, this can accurately describe Season 9 winner Mat Franco as a magician. Instead of doing one massively impressive trick, his act generally consists of doing a bunch of smaller tricks in a short amount of time.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Prince Poppycock's Season 5 semifinals performance. Never has patriotism been so Camp.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Hasselhoff gets this when he buzzed a sword swallowing act while the person was in the middle of downing a sword! It was very stupid and dangerous to do, the guy obviously flinches and backstage notes that it nearly caused him to pierce his stomach. Sharon and Jerry do call him out on this.
    • In Season 6, Howie commented that the dance group "Purrfect Angelz" was "the best Hooters [he]'s ever seen". Piers, who buzzed the group, semi-jokingly asked that Howie apologize to them.
    • Later in Season 6, Gymkana had to stop an act after a minor accident with a burning hoop. During the judges' review afterwards Nick chides Piers that maybe the slip-up happened because he broke their concentration by buzzing them earlier.
    • In Season 7, Howard verbally attacked Howie for supporting bad lounge singer Big Barry over better musical acts like Andrew De Leon and rock/R&B/hip-hop band Wordspit and the Illest! (Of course, Howard personally liked Horse the Groin Attack victim, so he's one to talk.).
    • In Season 10, puppet act Ira was denied a yes by Mel B after he sang his heart out to her. Cue a massive jeer from the audience and the judges.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • Mel B is terrified of spiders and jumps onstage with Nick when a guy puts five spiders on his face. She also doesn't understand how Heidi can like them.
    • Howie and germs as shown in Terrified of Germs.
    • David Hasselhoff did not like a sword swallowing act because he thought it was too scary for him.
    • Those Funny Little People creep out Piers more than anybody.

Alternative Title(s): Americas Got Talent

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/AmericasGotTalent