An Elimination In The Limelight: This is a pretty good way to tell who will be eliminated. If a girl has been all but ignored and forgotten for several episodes and then suddenly an episode starts showing all of her thoughts, and many random Confession Cam snippets explaining the task of the day come from her... there's a good chance she's a goner. It has started at least as early as Cycle 6 (if not earlier), but has been blatant in almost every episode since Cycle 10. Examples include but are not limited to...
C5: Ebony, Diane, and Kyle.
C6: Kathy, Wendy, Kari, Mollie Sue, Leslie, and Sara.
C7: Megan, Megg, Brooke Michelle, and Amanda.
C8: Samantha, Felicia, Diana and Brittany.
C9: Mila, Victoria, Janet, Ebony, and Sarah. (Though in Ebony's case, she wound up quitting over the girl who had originally been picked for elimination.)
In cycle 19 all the eliminated contestants were brought back for the final runway show, and in cycle 20 everybody except for Bianca, Chris S and Alexandra.
Bash Brothers: There are times that similar/comparable/evenly-matched girls appear in a cycle. They usually form a Friendly Rivalry or Worthy Opponent dynamic. Examples are Adrianne and Elyse in Cycle 1, Dani and Joanie in Cycle 6, Sophie and Laura in Cycle 18.
The three former runners-up who returned in the All-Star Cycle, especially Allison and Laura. This was even referenced in the final eliminations between the two mentioned girls.
Tiffany: I'm just tired of getting upset over things I have no control over!
Don't insult C14-Anslee's mothering skills.
And don't say anything to C14-Alasia that is even mildly negative about her, or she will. freak. out. Became almost comical when she was screaming: "You need to calm the f**k down" to another contestant who was calm as a cucumber.
Well if you saw the clip episode, anything that got in Alasia's face when she was angry got her rage. Case in point: she screamed at toiletries due to lack of people left to yell at.
Best For Last: If a girl was featured last in the OBB, chances are they'll win the competition. Incidentally, the first girl introduced usually ended in 2nd place. This was blatant in the early seasons.
Most of the returning girls in All-Stars were featured last in their original cycles' OBBnote Lisa, Allison, Angelea, Kayla and Alexandria. The first mentioned actually won this cycle.
Beware the Nice Ones: There's actually an episode where Tyra shouts "BE QUIET!" to a contestant who is arguing with her, following it up with a rant about how badly the girl is acting. Stress and overwork are to blame.
Cycle 1: The first and second girl you'll see right after the OBB were Adrianne and Shannon.
The last scene of Cycle 3's first episode was Eva being the last girl called to be part of the fourteen finalists.
In a meta sense: CoverGirl began their partnership with the show in a cycle where there were two international destinations. Their last tenure/partnership was also in a cycle where there were two international destinationsnote Jamaica and Japan in Cycle 3, Canada and Macau in Cycle 18.
Broad Strokes: Whenever Canon Discontinuity, see below, can't be addressed. So usually when talking about Cycle 1. Yes, that Cycle did exist... but who won again?
The closest they ever came to acknowledging that there actually was a winner, was when Tyra applauded Shannon's performance in the All-Stars Cycle, saying that she was runner-up for a reason.
Completely thrown out the window in Cycle 20, where a trivia challenge included a question asking the contestants to name the winner of Cycle 1. (And yes, Adrianne Curry WAS the correct answer. On the other hand, Tyra wasn't present for the challenge, so she still didn't have to directly name or acknowledge Adrianne.) Adrianne herself even took note of it on her Twitter.
Bullying a Dragon: It seems inevitable that there will always be one girl who acts like she's above it all and starts arguing with the judges during their critiques. One of the most notorious was Cycle 6's Jade, who argued with them every time she received criticism and really pissed off Nigel Barker, who had trouble hiding his disdain for the girl more than once.
The Bus Came Back: The previous Cycle winner usually returns for the current Cycle's finale or pay a visit early or halfway through. Basically, any alumnae that guests.note Cycles 7 and 8 featured the most guesting of alumnae.
After being fired as a judge after Cycle 4, Janice Dickinson was Commuting on a Bus from Cycles 5 to 7. She was Put on a Bus for good starting Cycle 8.
Former judges Beau Quillian (Cycle 1) and Nole Marin (Cycles 3 and 4) guested in Cycles 7 and 12, respectively. The former guested twice in that season.
Cycle 3 Winner Eva "the Diva" was warned by the judges not to be "Another Black Bitch". She beat out Yaya in the finale, another black contestant who was very proud of her African heritage, but considered uppity and in need of "a slice of humble pie".
Averted by Sandra in Cycle 12, whose particularly dark skin was fawned over with the show's typical subtlety. Same for Cycle 1's Ebony and Cycle 6's Nnenna. Interestingly, all three contestants had their hair shaved off, and another similarity.
Discussed during Cycle 2 when contestant Xiomara went into a crying jag after having her skin painted much darker to impersonate Grace Jones for a photoshoot.
Camp Gay: Miss J. The man generally wears fancier outfits than anyone else on the show, including the models. The only way to top him(her?) by this point, would be to have Lady Gaga guest star.
Hell, Miss J is a better model than most of the models. Girl can smizeand catwalk.
Chekhov's Boomerang: Wilhelmina (from Cycle 1) and IMG (from Cycle 2) returned as Model Management contract prizes for Cycles 13 to 16. The first two for the former, while the last two for the latter.
Competence Zone: Realistically, modelling agencies rarely but mostly never sign girls who are above 21-22 years old. The show, however, allowed contestants older than said age requirement to participate, and in three occasions, win. Aside from age, there are also height and weight requirements, but let's not go there.
Many examples, including Natasha, the possible-Mail Order Bride who took every insult as a compliment; Jael, the anarchist whom 50 Cent pushed into a swimming pool, and...well, too many to count, really.
Allison aka "Creepy-chan" from Cycles 12 and 17, one of 4chan's favorite "chan girls" (though this was never brought up in-show) and an artist with a fascination with blood. She even said that she was jealous when Tyra mentioned that she used to get nosebleeds as a child. Polls showed her to be the most popular contestant that season and the favorite to win (yes, even amongst non-channers). She came in 2nd. Twice.
Demoted to Extra: Justified. The eliminated girls were used as decoys for runways and photoshoots and are kept apart from where the remaining girls were staying. Only the girls who made it to the international destination will be acknowledged on-air during the final episode.
Elimination Statement: Cycle 6's Jade ended her tenure on the show with a spoken-word poem (complete with rhythmic finger snapping) entitled "Leftover Lady". For many fans, this was the series' Moment of Awesome.
End of an Age: Cycle 18 featured many lasts for the series. It is the last time Vogue will feature a winner on their magazine. The last time Covergirl, which was with the show since Cycle 3, will award a cosmetics spread to the winner. And last but definitely not the least, this will be the last time that the two Jays and Nigel Barker will be part of the show.
Flyover Country: The filming locations are only shot at either New Yorknote Cycles 1-3, 10, 14 or Los Angelesnote Cycles 4-9, 13, 15-19. Cycles 11 and 12 were filmed at both cities. The only other states visited were Texas and Hawaiinote The prize for Cycle 7 episode 3's reward challenge was to take part on Dennis Quaid's Fashion Show held on Austin, TX, while Hawaii was Cycle 13's "international" destination.
Cycle 4 featured the first double elimination in the franchise's history. It also had perhaps THE worst photo in the entire history of the franchise and it was the first time the audience saw Tyra on a really bad day (after the aforementioned double elimination). Another criticism that Cycle was the good photos weren't as relevant as the previous and preceding Cycles resulting to some Shocking Eliminations.
Majority of the returning girls during the All-Stars cycle were former fourth placersnote six, but since two of them are also third placers due to double eliminations, technically they're four. None of them won the game and all were eliminated in dramatic fashion. The first girl eliminated was the fourth placer from the fourth cycle. Later on, a double elimination axed two former fourth placers simultaneously, one already a victim of this in the past. The following episode then saw the elimination of another fourth placer. During the top five, one (who was also the fourth placer on her original season) became a victim of a controversial Shocking Elimination in favor of the remaining fourth placer from Cycle fourteen, who became the resident Elimination Houdini by surviving four eliminations and ultimately making it to the finals, only to be disqualifiedin the end.
Also noteworthy is that four cycles were unrepresented (3, 6-8), though the winner from one of those unrepresented cycles (Eva from 3) made a guest appearance.
Hopeless Auditionees: Mostly averted! They never show the entire auditions process. Of the 35 or so girls who make it to the semi-finals, the audition week episode mainly shows footage of the girls who eventually make it into the house, plus two or three unsuccessful semi-finalists to convey at least a little bit of tension.
The aversion is doubly surprising because the CW officially releases pictures of the contestants who made it into the house before the cycle even starts, so there’s little to no tension in the first episode for many viewers. Yet, this free space is rarely abused to make fun of the other contestants.
However, some of the semi-finalists, while not being exceptionally terrible models, are clearly picked to fill this trope anyway, either in the form of a special kind of Alpha Bitch, Loser Archetype, or by causing drama with Tyra Banks.
A House Divided: The contestants all live together for the entire competition. Cue the instant formation of cliques.
Cycle 18 enforced this to the British and the American girls.
Since Cycle 19, episode titles have returned to "The Girl(s) Who(se)" format - though with the addition of male participants in Cycle 20, episode titles now also include "The Guy(s) Who(se)" as well, i.e. "The Guy Who Cries".
One episode per cycle is devoted to this concept. In each cycle there are two girls to look for — the girl that gets a bad makeover but learns how to make it work, and the girl that gets a meh makeover and makes such a huge stink over it that she gets kicked off either by next elimination or not long after.
One girl who has to get their hair cut short, and then cries for the rest of the day, and bitches about it until they're eliminated.
Generally enforced when Tyra tells girls they need to pick a nickname if there's more than one of them in the same cycle, as was the case in Cycles 10note Amy became "Amis" to avoid confusion with Aimee., 11note Three versions of "Brittany" - two became "McKey" and "Sharaun"., 13note Ashley Weisz became "Rae"., 18note Three Ashleys - two became "AzMarie" and "Kyle". and 20note Bianca Andaluz became "Kanani"..
Played straight with Cycle 11 winner Brittany "McKey" Sullivan and Cycle 16 winner Brittani Kline.
Averted with Jay Manuel and J. Alexander, though as it was, they were often referred to as Mr. Jay and Miss/Ms J, respectively anyway.
Also averted with Cycle 5 and 13's respective winners Nicole Linkletter and Nicole Fox, as well as Cycle 13 and 18's respective runners-up Laura Kirkpatrick and Laura LaFrate.
Oddly enough averted for the guys of Cycle 20, with Chris Schellenger and Chris Hernandez (shortened to Chris S and Chris H, respectively), while one of the two Biancas had to change her name. Ironically enough, Chris S and the Bianca who kept her name were the first two eliminated anyway (though that didn't stop the other Bianca from going by "Kanani" for the rest of her run regardless).
Patriotic Fervor: The American vs. European feud of Cycle 11. Also invoked by the girls from Cycle 18.
Phone Booth: The infamous pic in Cycle 5 where the top six had to pose together inside. Naked.
Kahlen from Cycle 4 had never watched an episode, and was often praised for her success having never seen an episode before.
All the girls go in knowing that they will eventually get makeovers and there is a possibility of their hair getting cut short. Cue some girls being shocked, throwing tantrums, and one even quitting. (This is possibly due to arrogance. Some girls believe they already have what it takes to be a model and that they have the right look before entering the competition. And in the past Tyra has left some girls with minimal makeovers like a trim or a slightly lighter or darker dye-job.)
Cycle 1 runner-up and All-Stars sixth placer Shannon Stewart is the quintessential and yet a strange example. She allowed herself to be pictured in swim suits that left little to the imagination, but never underwear (even if it covered more than the swim suit) because she felt that was only for her husband to see.
Rule of Three: The show is notorious for this. Every three seasons, the opening theme and video changes and, until Cycle 12, crowns a black winner. Ironically when they first introduced a final three girls, one was disqualified so judging resorted to the usual final two status quo.
The Runner Up Takes It All: The winners of each cycle are often not the strongest contenders, but are stuck with the sponsored prizes. And one could go on forever listing contestants who model more frequently than the winners.
Elyse Sewell from Cycle 1 is probably the most successful contestant. She came 3rd.
Cycle 7's Melrose and Cycle 10's Anya beat out Caridee and Whitney by gaining successful fashion careers, as opposed to the winners who won Covergirl sponsorship.
Cycle 9's Heather Kuzmich, due to having Asperger's and both making it work, being an overall strong contestant, and barely avoiding the Freudian Excuse, has also received a great deal of notoriety.
Seven Deadly Sins: One photo shoot in Cycle 4 had each of the girls put in a coffin in a grave and portraying one of the sins. What made this even worse was that Kahlen's (one of the contestants) friend had died not long before the shoot. She was praised for channeling her pain and delivering a good photo.
Token Minority: Although every cycle has a pretty broad mix of contestants racially, more than half of the cycles feature exactly one plus-sized model. note Cycles 4, 6, 7, 11, 13, and 15 featured none, Cycle 8 featured two. Additionally, critics have accused Tyra Banks of purposely courting controversy with her inclusion of an autistic contestant, a possible Mail Order Bride and a transsexual.
Too Soon: Twice in the course of the show, there have been situations where one of the contestants was given news that a close friend had died, and then had a shoot involving death soon after. In Cycle 4, Kahlen was given the news, then had to play the Deadly Sin of Wrath, in a coffin. Then, in Cycle 8, Jael was informed a friend passed away, then had to play a murder victim soon after.
Underdogs Never Lose: The blind/short/overweight/whatever contestant will always make it far in the show no matter what their talent is. And interestingly rich girls who have places at great universities never seem to win...
Viewers Are Goldfish: The show will frequently have sepia-toned flashbacks to events that happened just a few minutes earlier.