Hell's Kitchen is an American adaptation of a British reality show. The original British version was a pretty standard "celebrities try to cook fine cuisine and fail hilariously" show, with the public voting for the winner, who would receive a decent-sized donation to their chosen charity. Where the British Hell's Kitchen differed from other such shows was that its head chef and mentor, Gordon Ramsay, didn't hold back in calling out the celebrities on their blatant incompetence (as opposed to the relentlessly cheerful chefs that normally appeared on these shows). This show caught the eye of some American TV execs, who decided they wanted their own version. The resulting new version was one of the few instances where the Transatlantic Equivalent was widely regarded as being better than the original.Hell's Kitchen features 12—20 aspiring chefs competing in various cooking challenges and working in the kitchen of a Hollywood soundstage turned into a fancy restaurant. Sounds simple enough, but what provides this show's appeal is that these aspiring chefs must compete and work together under the watchful eye of Gordon Ramsay, a Supreme Chef and a Sadist Teacher if there ever was one.Expect Chef Ramsay to become Drill Sergeant Nasty (and occasionally even The Neidermeyer) as he drops Cluster F-Bomb after Cluster F-Bomb on the competitors, even as they're working to get dozens of fancy dinners served to hungry patrons. The chefs stumble and bumble through dinner services (sometimes even forcing Chef Ramsay to shut down the kitchen and send the diners home), then after each dinner service, the worst team of chefs is forced to nominate two of their worst members to face elimination at the hands of Chef Ramsay. However, Ramsay doesn't have to choose exclusively among the two chefs put up for elimination, and sometimes he has even been known to kick off a chef from the winning team. Or during dinner. Or whenever he feels like it. In some of the episodes, a chef being forced to leave early due to injuries or health issues counts as an elimination as well.The reward for the chef who survives this nightmare is a chance to serve as executive chef of a high-class (and we mean high-class — think The Savoy) restaurant. Much of the show's appeal comes from the fact that it features the same kinds of people that plague every reality series... but in a shocking diversion from the genre, they're punished for being attention-starved idiots and rewarded for showing competence and maturity.One of the most popular shows on FOX, particularly in the summers. Its popularity has led to the adaptation of another of Ramsay's British shows, Kitchen Nightmares, featuring all the swearing and screaming of Hells Kitchen but without the competition. They even put him in charge of a show he wasn't on in the UK, Master Chef, although he's suspiciously nice on that (intending to show disappointment instead of anger and giving a lot of constructive criticism).Recaps are available on The Other Wiki, starting with Season 1.Now has its own Character Sheet.Each episode usually boils down to the following:
The Introduction: In the very first episode, all the chefs cook up their signature dishes to impress Ramsay. This is usually nothing more than Ramsay trying to get a feel for what each chef is like through their cooking. From Season 6 onwards, this has been a challenge (see the bullet point below).
The Challenge: Usually done in the start of each episode. The two teams have to complete a challenge (such as cooking a meal with limited ingredients or being blind folded and guessing foods via taste). The team with the most points get rewarded (getting a massage, eating with Gordon at a fancy restaurant, etc.) while the losing team faces punishment, usually doing very tedious tasks such as prepping both kitchens for dinner service, cleaning the dining room, or handling the food deliveries. In some cases, the punishment is more humiliating, such as sorting through the garbage or eating various parts of a cow. When it comes down to the final six contestants, there is only one winner for the challenges. However, at this point the punishments drop off the board almost completely, with the typical punishment being prepping for dinner service... which has to get done anyway. Sometimes they have to clean up a bit.
Dinner Service: The main meat of the show and where most of the drama happens. Both teams have to cook up meals that are ordered by the customers and the meals have to pass Ramsay's quality standards. He'll usually drop his infamous Cluster F-Bomb or hurl food across the kitchen if what he is given isn't up to his standards. Ramsay has even sent some chefs home early due to their constant screw ups in the kitchen.
Elimination: The team that failed to impress Ramsay during dinner service have to choose two people to be put up for elimination. If both teams failed or sufficiently impressed Ramsay, then both teams have to pick one person from their team to be put on the chopping block. When the chefs meet Ramsay to announce their decisions, Ramsay then picks the person to be sent home. As said above, Ramsay has picked someone completely different or even someone from the winning team to be sent home, showing that no one is safe.
The finale changes things up. The two finalists meet with the show's interior designer to discuss how they want their own dining rooms to look for the final dinner service. While the dining rooms are being worked on, Ramsay takes the finalists to the restaurant that they could win and they have to perform one last challenge by cooking several meals to be presented to several professional chefs. Eight chefs that were sent home previously come back one last time to help out the finalists during dinner service. After everything is all over, the finalists stand behind a pair of doors. One of them opens and the other does not. The chef who gets the unlocked door is the big winner of Hell's Kitchen.
This was slightly changed in the 2010 finale: The finalists were told they would be receiving a trip to Australia in the future. This was perhaps because they couldn't make a quick trip to London to see the restaurant of which they'd be placed in charge.
Accentuate the Negative: Whenever a contestant is eliminated, Chef Ramsay will almost always make some comment about how utterly worthless and incompetent they are, even if the departing chef had been flawless until screwing up in their last service (the best example of this being Anthony's elimination in season 11). The only real exceptions to this are contestants who make it to the Black Team before leaving (unless they do horribly during their last service), and contestants who are forced to depart because of illness or injury.
Another major exception: Nilka in Season 7, who was thrown out during dinner service, and yet met by Chef Ramsay outside and told how good of a job she had done as a whole.
Generally, in the signature dish tasting challenge (and subsequent food judging challenges), if Ramsay can find something noticeably wrong with a contestant's dish, he will not award a point to their team even if part of the food itself actually tastes good and/or is cooked correctly. This can occasionally result in neither team getting the point.
At times, Ramsay will focus more on the ones who are doing terrible than the ones who accomplish good things. For example, in the second dinner service of season 3, the women finish it properly (at that point it was the earliest a team had ever finished a dinner service) and even take over the men's side of the kitchen and finish service there too after Ramsay kicked them out, but the women's impressive victory is pretty much glossed over. Another example happens in season 10, where Brian and Roshni, who had been performing badly before, finished a dinner service all by themselves after the rest of their team had been kicked out, but their great efforts went pretty much unnoticed by Ramsay.
This is usually due to Ramsay's focus on everyone working together as a team and functioning as a team. If one or two people are causing problems during service, the rest of the team suffers in performance and they have to be informed of their screw ups immediately before things get worse. Giving someone praise for good work is usually the last thing Ramsay thinks about unless the person(s) do extraordinarily well.
He also does give compliments occasionally on good work, it's just that it's usually played as if he's about to say something negative. ("Contestant A..." Sting. "... excellent work on that risotto.") The show then moves on after a brief add-on by Ramsay ("Good job") or a quick Confession Cam of the contestant ("Alright!"). So the compliments are there, they just don't get as much focus because, well, negative criticism is more fun to watch.
Also, they'll often showcase the team screwing up a lot. It can be surprising to hear Ramsay constantly harping on them for their failures, only for him to report after dinner service that 90%+ of the customers really liked their service.
Accidental Misnaming: Ralph in season 1 kept calling Jean-Philippe "Jean-Pierre." In the finale, JP told Ralph he'd punch him if he kept it up.
Alpha Bitch: Melissa, the girl having a "Sweet 16" party in Season 4, was set up to be one of these. In a subversion, she actually turned out to be fairly polite and down to earth. Her mother, on the other hand...
Angels Pose: Season 3 episode 6 challenge winners were part of a photo shoot. You'll notice them posing like Charlie's Angels with dinner tools.
Animated Credits Opening: Each season's opener is a showcase of its entire contestant lineup (with the exception of one season's first episode). The images of the chefs and Chef Ramsay are inserted in a whimsical computer-animated setting, such that each contestant is seen in close-up doing something amusing and cooking-related, in the current theme:
Anyone Can Be Sent Home: Carol in S5 got sent home despite her team winning. There are also several cases of contestants being sent home even if they aren't up for elimination, sometimes even in the middle of dinner service if they keep fucking up badly enough. Jeremy from season 11 is among the most recent to have experienced this - though in that case, it was getting increasingly and painfully obvious that the person was in over their head (among other things), as Gordon himself pointed out.
Raj from S8 is another prime example. Up for elimination previously, he was kicked off the show on a night when the men's team had won the service.
Season 12 brings us Nicole. Even though both teams had to nominate two people for elimination, and all four nominated had good reason to be nominated that night, Chef Ramsay chose her instead. Of course, she had plenty of reasons to be eliminated as well.
What further promotes this trope is that even strong contestants can have bad services. It isn't too uncommon for contestants that start off as one of the best members of their team to transition to being one of the weakest.
Nilka from Season 7 had been a strong cook for the longest time. Then she had one very bad night and was actually kicked out in the middle of service.
Other circumstances may get in the way, such as health complications. Robert from Season 6 is an example of this. He made it all the way to the black jackets and was one of the best cooks that season. But then he was hospitalized because of a heart condition and had to drop out of the competition.
Another circumstance is chefs quitting. Joy from season 12 was arguably the best chef in her season, but at the second black jacket service, she quit.
Armor-Piercing Question: The red team in Season 11 nominated Jessica in Episode 4 because they felt like she lacked confidence. Chef Ramsay was taken back that they would nominate her before a cook that would serve raw chicken. He asked Nedra to explain to him why Jessica wasn't a good teammate. She was unable to answer and Chef Ramsay had Jessica get back in line before she even made a plea.
Chef Ramsay: (About JP) Lazy, arrogant, obnoxious, and he's from Belgium.
Assumed Win: Inverted a couple of times (as noted under Cordon Bleugh Chef): There were a couple times when a team, expecting to lose anyway, scrapes together some strange dish, only for it to taste surprisingly good, while the other team screws up royally and snatches defeat from the very jaws of victory.
Author Appeal: Ramsay loves dressing up, having his wife dress up, having his son dress up as him, rewarding his contestants with makeovers, and handing out or taking back their kitchen jackets.
Badass: Sous Chef Scott, who doesn't take any lip from anyone. A chief example of this was the Season 3 finale, where he dropped a Cluster F-Bomb on Josh, promising to hunt him down if he ruined Rock's chances. The scene was cut from the US broadcast but is viewable on the DVDs, as well as some foreign broadcasts. Another deleted scene had Scott chew out Josh and Vinnie when they asked him how long on the garnish.
In Season 5, he got really pissed at Andrea when she got to run the kitchen briefly and nit-picked everything he made to make sure she didn't miss any sabotage to the point that he outright insulted and threatened her and thanked Chef Ramsay with relief when her time running the kitchen ended.
Another in season 1, when the Blue Team tries to cheat their punishment, Ramsay catches them in the act, tells them off, then takes away their stuff.
And another in season 7. While briefly controlling the pass, he catches Ben trying to call out the tickets. The awesome smackdown is not long in coming.
Most people would drop out of the competition after breaking one of their arms. When Season 6's Dave finds himself in such a situation, he stays in the competition... and eventually wins.
Gloriously lampshaded by Ramsay himself, who chewed out another chef for subpar performance when said chef claimed that losing the tip of his finger caused him to fumble while cooking. Ramsay promptly pointed out how Dave had a broken wrist yet still managed to not only pull through, but was the best on their team.
He does this again in season 9 when Jonathan was having a mediocre performance due to an injured shoulder and he scolded him, telling him of how Dave broke his wrist and won the competition. It's safe to say that Dave raised the bar for all handicapped contestants.
It goes without saying that Chef Ramsay himself is an example. This is all the evidence you'll ever need.
In season 2, Heather burns her hand and continues to operate the team at the sink and through tears. Ramsay acknowledges such with a comment along the lines of "That's true leadership".
The returning runner up team competing with the current black jacket chefs in Season 10, Episode 16 was definitely this. Chef Ramsay himself noted that he never saw food leave the red kitchen so meticulously before. Throughout the entire night, they only made one error (a minor over seasoning of fish which was quickly rectified). It was a landslide victory for them.
Then there was Season 11, Episode 18 where returning WINNERS of past seasons came back to compete with the current black jacket chefs. They turned in a solid performance where 95% of their diners said they'd be happy to return. But their victory was not as flawless as the runners up, surprisingly enough ( mostly because of Paul and Nona's minor flubs).
Bait and Switch: Done more times than anyone can count. Almost every other elimination involves Ramsay saying the nominated chef's name, setting them up as if they are being sent home, and then told to get back in line as he says who the real eliminated chef is.
Ditto for the dinner service. Viewers and the chefs are used to Ramsay complaining about the poorly cooked food as he usually screams the chef's name to get them to see what they did wrong. Ramsay may sometimes scream the chef's name, pause, and then tell them that the food is cooked perfectly.
Bald of Awesome: Sous Chef Scott and his season 11 replacement James, as well as Season 6's Kevin.
During the season 10 premiere, Scott decided to play a joke on the chefs by pretending to shave their heads.
Banging Pots and Pans: Once a season and usually fairly early on, Chef Ramsay arranges an early morning wake-up call for the aspiring chefs, around 5 or 6 A.M. In at least one instance, the wake-up call was delivered in this form, by the sous chefs.
Be Careful What You Wish For: Late at night in Season 7's first episode, everyone's roused out of sleep to watch a TV message from Ramsay. It's an instructional video of him preparing some lobster risotto. The players are hugely grateful for and inspired by this generosity: Jason says "the lesson that Chef Ramsay gave us was invaluable" and Jason wanted to see "20 more of those." The contestants don't get much sleep that night, as they had frequent videos running until 2 AM.
Berserk Button: Season 5's Robert doesn't like being called "Bobby" because it reminds him of his deadbeat father; Gordon used the name one episode, annoying Robert, but later he explained the situation calmly to Ramsay, who apologized and promised not to use that name again.
And he shows this side again in season 6 when after losing a challenge, he gets reminded about his shortcomings from one of Ramsay's assistant chefs (Scott of all the people!) and how he should have had the now emerging motivation come out during the challenge. Robert completely blows his cool and snaps a broom in half, complaining on the Confession Cam that being reminded about how he failed was something his father had regularly done.
Ramsay also absolutely hates it when people who are supposed to be great chefs or at least know how to cook (executive chefs, culinary instructors, etc.) and they screw up in the kitchen horribly.
Also, do not talk back to Ramsay. Season 7's Jason commented on this:
Jason: Ramsay. He's the Jay-Z of fucking restaurants. You don't talk back to a man like that.
Ramsay also doesn't like it when chefs don't take him seriously. In Season 10, Ramsay kicked Brian out of the kitchen when his response to what an overcooked sea bass tasted like was, "fish".
As seen in season 11 where it — unfortunately for the chefs — comes up multiple times: food that has no right to be served (someone tries to serve the sample dish Gordon made a few hours ago and that had been sitting out for that entire time, for instance).
He also gets rather annoyed at customers who confront him while he's busy managing plates. Even if they are being nice and reasonable about it... likely because he considers a customer coming up to the head chef in the middle of service and expecting him to drop everything and focus on them and them alone, rather than just telling a member of the waitstaff who can relay it (or try to fix the problem themselves), to be unreasonable on the face of it.
Heather from Season 2 gets extremely angry if anyone makes any sexist remarks in her direction, as Garrett found out before one service.
Sous Chef Scott gets extremely pissed whenever a contestant tries to act like a leader when Ramsay's not in charge.
Craig from Season 4 tended to get angry and yell abuse at people (including Chef Ramsay) whenever they asked him how near he was to finishing whatever he was cooking. Which, considering that getting all the dishes out at the same time is vitally important in Hell's Kitchen (and most restaurants, for that matter), was more than a little problematic.
Louis from Season 8 hates being talked down to or condescended. The fact that the person who happened to be talking down to him was Raj only made things worse.
Season 9's Elise had a tendency to INSTALL Berserk Buttons on her fellow chefs; roughly half a dozen people (at least half of the Red Team plus Sous Chef Andi, and Gordon himself) over the course of the season have flipped their shit at her.
It also doesn't help that Elise's attitude seems to be "just do what I say". Whenever someone complains about her, she shouts them down and lists all the things she did right. She focuses more on getting things done for the sake of completing services instead of actually listening to her team so she can work more efficiently with them.
She almost got Will to quit, she was so hideous to work with.
And to top this off, when Jennifer was eliminated, Elise tried to get in some snide comments about her skills compared to Jennifer before Jennifer walked out to put her down even further. The men had to tell Elise it wasn't the right time to be making such comments, but Elise's facial expression was still pretty smug. To rub even more salt in the wounds, Elise tried to be "sincere" by wishing Jennifer good luck in the future but she responded back with " fuck you" and giving her the middle finger.
Royce pushed Patrick to the limit when he wouldn't stop talking about how miserably Patrick failed as the blue team's "leader". While Royce was right, he was EXTREMELY annoying about it; even the rest of his teammates, while acknowledging Patrick's mistakes, wanted Royce to shut up.
Barbie's mere existence in Season 10 seemed to be one for the red team, who were always quick to blame her for pretty much anything and any sort of conversation with or about her quickly devolved into a screaming match.
Looking back, Barbie never seemed to form an alliance with any of her teammates, which probably made her a convenient scapegoat. She was far from the worst one on the team and even bailed out the Blue Team on meats in the episode where Chef Ramsay handed out the black jackets.
Beware the Nice Ones: Jean-Philippe, the maître d', is normally cool and sophisticated, but when you get on his bad side, he can be truly scary, as Francisco the party planner and Season 6's Van found out first-hand.
Jennifer from Season 9 became this halfway through the show. Usually the chefs who are a pushover will get eliminated by Ramsay, but Jennifer has not only been an excellent chef, but capable of getting Elise to shut her mouth.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Plenty of examples, most notably the Season 3 women (apart from probably Julia and Bonnie), who Chef Ramsay nicknamed "Hell's bitches" after their first service crashed and burned due to the team's constant infighting.
Julia fully became one when she returned for the finale to help out, where she displayed a horrible attitude and did not show a single one of her skills in the kitchen that got her so far in the first place, showcasing (and yet denying) a clearly bitter attitude and displaying herself a sore loser, something that turned off a lot of people who came to like her throughout the competition.
Blatant Lies: Season 9 is full of it, from Brendan lying to Ramsay about recooking a fish to just about everything Elise says.
Chef Scott gives these when he deliberately sabotages dishes for quality control and the chefs catch it.
Holli: Scott, the scallops need to be cooked on the other side as well.
Chef Scott: I thought we only cook them on one side.
In Season 7, Ben(who was in the final four at that point) claimed he had injured his back during punishment and was unable to bend over despite it being extremely obvious that he wasn't injured(or at least not nearly as bad as he claimed to be) as he was shown bending over and moving around without appearing to be in any kind of pain. Then he wanted to use his so-called "injury" as an excuse to leave the competition, Ramsay encouraged him to stay and he did. While no one directly confronted Ben on whether he was telling the truth, his lie did not go unnoticed by the other contestants, who immediately suspected Ben of lying when he finally showed up to the kitchen after skipping out on prep due to his "injury" and was constantly moving about during service.
Brainless Beauty: Common recurring theme is a challenge where the contestants have to teach other people how to cook the assigned dish. Expect them to be beautiful women or men who have absolutely no experience in the kitchen. Up to Eleven for the men in Season 7 who were absolutely clueless (one put the pepper on the grill without turning it on and another started without washing their hands).
Break the Haughty: Chef Ramsay goes down this route when someone's skills don't match up with their ego. Which is often.
Breather Episode: For the chefs at least. On occasion when the chefs do exceptionally well, Ramsay will decide not to eliminate anyone as reward for their hard work. Of course, they aren't told this until after the nominations are made and he's asked them who and why they've decided to put up.
Brick Joke: Josh from Season 3, confused lobsters for scallops during the blind taste test. A few episodes later, during the lobster challenge, Chef Ramsay told him to sit out since he couldn't tell the difference.
The Bus Came Back: In episode 13 of Season 9, a team of "All-Stars" comprised of former Black Team competitors from previous seasons is brought in to challenge the current team. Season 5's Ben, Season 6's Tennille and Van, and Season 8's Jillian and Trev competed, but ultimately lost to the Season 9 Black Team of Will, Jennifer, Paul, Tommy, and Elise.
Occurred again in episode 16 of season 10 this time, with a team of 6 runner-ups. The team of Season 8's Russell, Season 7's Jay, Season 6's Kevin, Season 5's Paula, Season 3's Bonnie, and Season 2's Virginia scored a clear victory over season 10's black team.
Done yet again in episode 18 of season 11 with a team of five Hell's Kitchen winners, consisting of Season 3's Rock, Season 4's Christina, Season 6's Dave, Season 8's Nona and Season 9's Paul. The returning team won again, although the season 11 black team came close.
Jean-Philippe returned to the show in Season 11 after taking a leave of absence from the show for 3 years.
Butt Monkey: Ben from Season 4. Initially, Ramsay didn't treat him any better or worse than the other chefs on his team... until a few weeks in, when Ben started giving Bobby high-fives and congratulating him, despite the blue team being nowhere near finishing service. Ramsay came within an inch of eliminating Ben for that reason alone, and for the remainder of Ben's time on the show he would always get the worst of any punishment the blue team was given, along with even more ear-bashings than usual in the kitchens. Eventually, the blue team lost a service, and Ramsay threw Ben out without even bothering to let him explain why he should stay.
Also from season 4 was Jason. Every chance the show got he was portrayed as a sexist, obese loser who couldn't cook and didn't care...he lasted all of three episodes.
Raj from season 8 — just wow.
Also from season 8 there was Trev, who was kind of the underdog. Ramsay seemed to like him tolerably well (he made it to the final four), but he consistently received very little respect from his competitors. In one episode all 4 girls chose to vote him out from the Black Team, but Ramsay saved him and sent Vinny home instead.
The entire Blue Team in Season 11. Out of atotal of 12 challenges, they won only two. You can practically see their souls being crushed when they are told they lost yet again and must endure another punishment. Even after most of the problem teammates were eliminated, the men just keep falling short to the women in the challenges.
Jon: Welcome to the Blosers.
Likewise, the entire season 7's Red team. Out of all the dinner services how many did they manage to win outright? A grand total of zero. Unless you count the fact that Holli became the season's winner by running her Red team, which consisted entirely of former Red team contestants.
Season 10's blue team was also pretty bad, while they won a decent amount of challenges, they fared far worse when it came to dinner service, as they only managed to win one service out of 14.
Camp Gay: Francisco, the party planner. To quote Season 5's LA, he's parade gay.
"I'm going to do something I've neverever done before."
"ALL OF YOU! GET OUT!"
"SWITCH IT OFF!" or "SHUT IT DOWN!"
"Come here! ALL OF YOU!"
"Oh fuck me..!"
Many variations of "Fuck"
"The most amazing [dish/reward/whatever]"
"Take off your jacket and leave Hell's Kitchen."
"(Contestant's name). Back in line!"
"Open Hell's Kitchen."
"I'VE HAD ENOUGH!"
"That was the worst dinner service I've ever seen!"
He's said this one so often, that it's starting to lose its meaning.
"Tough decision" for when he's having trouble deciding the winner of a challenge.
Minor ones include "Touch! Touch that!" for when he wants the entire team to examine one of their member's failures, "Have you given up?" during elimination and "Wake up!" for whenever a chef's head isn't in the game.
Caught on Tape: In season 9, Elise got caught in at least two lies when Chef Ramsay checked the tape. Once, she accused Tommy of scoring the beef Wellington wrong when the tape clearly showed that not only did he not score it, he told Elise he wasn't going to do it.
Celebrity Edition: Inverted — the UK version has been a celebrity-only affair since day one. The US version, on the other hand, changed it into a normal "talent search" type of reality show.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Sara from Season 2, who openly admitted that she was willing to totally screw over her team (and actually did so on at least one occasion) if it would make her look better as a result.
Sabrina from season 8, whose favorite tactic when she was up for elimination was to stress why she felt someone else should leave.
Joanna from Season 3 was also fond of doing this. Unfortunately for her, it blew up spectacularly in her face the second time she tried to do it, resulting in her being kicked out.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Season 8's Raj. SO much. Between his weird yoga/karate moves, wide-eyed disbelief at common occurrences, and near-total inability to execute in the kitchen, it was a mystery how he even got to be a contestant in the first place. He simply didn't appear to be operating on the same plane of existence as the other humans on the show.
Chef Ramsay (after Raj has given him raw salmon, again): It's raw!
Raj: That's weird.
Tommy from Season 9 has some moments of this as well.
Tommy: I don't really think when I do things, I just do them.
Gina from Season 11 is almost comparable to Raj, with antics such as having her bring a puppet to the show and play with it as opposed to studying for the first night in Hell's Kitchen.
Simone in Season 12 spends most of her time wandering around in what appears to be a daze, speaking in a breathy sort of voice, and doesn't seem to have a clue what's going on right in front of her.
Compensating for Something: Craig was accused of this by Ramsay in Season 4, due to the ridiculously large chef's hat he wore during the signature dish tasting. Considering his behavior later in the season, especially in the week that saw him eliminated, Ramsay may have been right on the money here.
Confession Cam: Every contestant. In Season 1, Gordon and Jean-Philippe also were in it.
Control Freak: Just about every season has one. You can tell because when a challenge based on team creativity comes up, they'll try to (or will) dominate the menu with their own ideas while dismissing the contributions of their teammates.
And half the time, it will blow up in their faces and send them right off the show.
Actually a large source of the show's drama (or hilarity) often comes from when there is a team project and one or more people want to be the "big star" who is getting all the praise, inevitably screwing over their entire team.
Cool Old Guy: Season 4's Petrozza, age 47. While not old per se (if we want to get technical, he's a Cool Middle-Aged Guy), he fits in to this trope because A) most contestants' ages range from mid-twenties to early thirties, and B) the second oldest contestant that season (Bobby) was ten years younger than him. But most importantly, he fits into the "Cool" portion of this trope because to this day, he's still regarded as one of the most likable contestants ever on the show.
Cool Old Lady: Season 1's Elsie, age 40. She was both the oldest female and the oldest contestant overall that season (Ralph was the oldest male at 36, and Carolann the second oldest female was 33). She's billed as the Mother of Six and is shown as a Team Mom to most of her teammates. She's also well liked for a) being one of the few contestants that didn't have an ego problem (she was slightly irritated at Jeff, but who wouldn't be?) and b) for taking a level in badass to the point that Ramsay was amazed that she wasn't immediately picked for the final service.
Commercial Break Cliffhanger: The show has been abusing the trope heavily around season 5 and progressed worse from there. You can bet that whenever something dramatic starts to happen in the show, the show will cut to a commercial. When the show returns from break, the suspense tends to be nothing as the situation is shown to be nothing major.
Season 11 does this badly when Baret gets extremely annoyed by the party director for being extremely picky over how she wanted him and the rest of the blue team to arrange the party decorations and goes to grab a chair. The sudden cut to commercial makes it look like Baret was going to toss the chair, but after the show returns from break, Baret puts the chair back down, showing that he was just joking around.
Cordon Bleugh Chef: This happens in the signature dish tasting on occasion. Notable ones include Seth in Season 5 (ratatouille with honey in it), and Matt from Season 4 (diver scallops, venison, caviar, lime zest, olive oil, capers, and white chocolate — this one actually made Chef Ramsay throw up). Antonia's Mardi Gras Gumbo is also an excellent example of this, making Chef throw up as well.
Also when there's a challenge and the chefs try something new. For example when Ralph in season 1 attempted a dish of white peaches placed on grilled ribeye steak.
This was subverted in Season 6 when the men served up a dish consisting of haddock, apples, tomatoes, angel hair pasta and figs... and actually won the challenge. Granted, they were helped by the usually competent Ariel screwing up the women's dish by adding a overpowering garlic dressing, but the men were stunned by how well their dish worked, as was Chef Ramsay.
To elaborate on the situation, the challenge was that you had to roll a dice with a letter on it, and name an ingredient starting with that letter. The women's team ended up with a fantastic assortment of rabbit and appropriate condiments, while the guys got the jumbled mess above, mostly because Dave called out figs as the second ingredient (he wasn't able to think of anything else), after which the rest of the men just called out whatever the hell they felt like, feeling that there was no way they were going to win. However, the tomato and fig sauce that Kevin came up with actually tasted very good (the figs' sweetness worked well with the tomatoes' acidity), and the combination of that and Ariel's screw-up with the garlic carried the men through to victory. It's never actually shown what they did with the apples.
The dice challenge came back in Season 10 and was a case of History Repeats. The red team got lamb along with appropriate ingredients, the blue team got off to a good start with tomatoes, and thought they were screwed when Robyn called out dragonfruit, and edamame and daikon followed, but in spite of the unusual assortment of ingredients, they managed to pull out a win, which impressed Ramsay, though Dana overcooking the brussels sprouts for the red team's lamb dish certainly worked in their favor too.
During the challenge in Season 4 when the teams had to make dishes for a prom, Matt suggested that the blue team should make a sushi pizza on a tortilla. Thankfully, they shot him down.
This also applies to contestants who finished in third place or lower. Prominent examples include Jillian in Season 8, who was much more consistent than either Russell or Nona (though she didn't have much fine dining experience beforehand, as well as slipping up a little bit in her last two services), and Jon from Season 11, who many fans consider to be the best cook that season (even if his leadership qualities were questionable).
Crazy Enough to Work: After the sixth service of Season 4, it was obvious that Matt was about to get kicked off the show, until he suddenly asked Ramsay to move him over to the women's team, saying that the men's team would fail without him there. Ramsay actually took Matt up on the offer and kept him in the show, probably for the entertainment factor of what he thought would happen next — only for Matt to turn in his best-ever performance, while the men crashed and burned, causing Matt's arch-rival Ben to get booted out.
In an earlier episode, same season, Louross was having trouble serving his beef Wellingtons. So Petrozza decides to cut a small sliver off the top and it's medium well. Louross is literally freaking out as Petrozza hands them to Scott. Scott doesn't even notice a thing.
Louross: "OH MY GOD! That has got to be the most ghettoist thing to ever happen in this kitchen!
Dark Horse Victory: The winner in each season is often someone who spends half of the season flying under the radar, quietly doing there job and avoiding getting involved in any sort of drama. To the point where Genre Savvy viewers find themselves seeking out contestants that spend most of the time Out of Focus.
Narrator: After a disastrous dinner service the night before, Chef Ramsay offers some words of encouragement.
Chef Ramsay: You were all cooking like fucking idiots.
Defrosting Ice Queen: Corey from Season 4, who started off as one of the biggest bitches ever seen on the show, but gradually softened over the course of the season, eventually culminating in her nominating herself for elimination so as to stop Jen's plan to get Christina and Petrozza eliminated (Jen herself ended up being the one who was eliminated that week).
Elise in season 9 was a nasty bitch during most of her time as a contestant; however, by the time she got eliminated, she had finally humbled herself, and was very instrumental in helping Paul during the final service, even putting aside her longtime grudge against Carrie, who was also on Paul's team.
Determinator: Dave from Season 6. He hurt his (off-hand) wrist in Episode 3, and kept on going despite the obvious disadvantage of reduced mobility in one hand AND the occasional nerve pains he gets if he tries to lift something too heavy. In Episode 13 Gordon expressed real concern for Dave's well-being, and Dave's response was (paraphrased): "Chef, if you don't think I'm a good enough chef that's fine, but please don't get rid of me because of my wrist." Gordon listened. And then Dave went on to win it.
Doubles as Badass since Dave managed to keep it under wraps during the entire show and it was a Crowning Moment Of Awesome when Gordon later called out another chef for a similar injury (Andy). He had cut off the tip of his finger by accident during prep and claimed that he lacked a finger and was handicapped. Gordon spectacularly exploded in his face about how Dave had been working with an injured hand for the past few episodes and didn't complain. Plus, in the same episode that Andy got hurt, Dave took care of his stations and Ramsay states this:
"Dave, don't take this the wrong way...but you're ten thousand times better with one hand!"
When Heather from Season 2 got injured, while she was sitting off to the side, she single-handedly directed the rest of the kitchen to make sure her food got out. Not only did she go on to win Season 2, she actually returned in Season 6 as one of Ramsay's sous chefs! Epic win!
Disproportionate Retribution: During the fifth dinner service of season 10, Chef Ramsay threw Barbie out of the kitchen for using a meat thermometer on a chicken. Granted, she shouldn't have needed to use it in the first place, but Kimmie and Dana had earlier in the night put meat and fish on the same tray and yet neither got kicked out for it. To make the situation even more disproportionate, Barbie ended up as one of the red team's nominees that night, but Ramsay admitted that she didn't belong up there and quickly sent her back.
Season 10 had a fashion show going on during service. Unsurprisingly, the men's team lost.
Dissonant Serenity: Chef Ramsay generally sounds more urgent calling for the waiter than he does calling for the bouncer.
Does Not Understand Sarcasm: In the steakhouse service of Season 5, Ramsay sarcastically congratulated Seth on his butchering of the filet mignon, which he had carved about half of the meat off of while trying to prepare it. Seth somehow thought he was being complimented, even though Ramsay had just screamed at him, thrown a pile of wasted meat right at him, and his team-mates had commented on how badly he'd screwed up.
Gordon: How could you do that?
Seth: I uh, never butchered a filet before chef.
Gordon: Congratulations, you just have.
Seth: Thank you, chef-
Gordon: Hey smartass, not in the right way you fucking bozo!
Ramsay: Van, the secret of a good sausage is what?
Van: Hold it steady, then pump it slow and easy...
Season 8, episode 4. Trevor asks if Gail wants to make out with him, and she replies with "No, not really.". Cut to the narrator saying "Trev may not have got lucky last night, but tonight both teams are hoping to score."
Season 8, episode 11. "Trev has successfully tossed Sabrina's salad."
Season 9 taste test challenge by Jennifer. "Chef Ramsay put nuts in my mouth!"
The most blatant case was an individual dish cooking challenge, which was graded by five judges using a hundred point scale. Even with that, the difference between the top two contestants' scores was a mere one. If a viewer needed irrefutable proof of the staged nature of the show, this is it.
Not to say that there aren't any challenges where one team doesn't just destroy the other one. Seasons 3 and 8 both had challenges where the teams had to serve breakfast, and on both occasions the blue team served absolutely nothing and had to have the red team take over their service. Also in Season 8, the teams were serving up dishes to a prom committee, and all three of the blue team's dishes sucked, resulting in an easy victory for the red team.
A similar situation happened in Season 9 for a High School Reunion: One chef from each team was taken to meet with the planners and get information from the ladies on what the menu should be. Paul from the Blue team got it all down, but Elizabeth from the Red team apparently missed every cue, including the fact that the event was going to have a Hawaiian theme (she told her team to cook Asian), and that one of the women couldn't eat red meat. Needless to say, the Blue team won.
The first two challenges of season 10 have had the blue team lose by more than one point; the final score was 5—3 in the signature dish challenge and then a whopping 6—2 in the scallop challenge.
Lampshaded in the first episode of season 12: "And as it often happens on Hell's Kitchen, it all comes down to the last two chefs!"
Sometimes early in the season, usually the second or third episode, Ramsay likes to get real drill sergeants to bust into the dorms at 4 or 5 A.M. and give the aspiring chefs a wake-up call. If he can't get them, he'll just have the sous chefs do it. Or brass bands. Or guitarists. Or rappers. He likes this trope.
On the other hand, he seems to go easier on the people who have little or no official training in cooking, while expecting much more from contestants who have been to culinary school or are chefs themselves.
This folds in two ways. For the people with little experience, Ramsay hopes those types of chefs can develop and flourish in their skills since new people tend to have potential to become great at their trade (think Season 1's Elsie and Season 4's Christina). On the other side of the coin, Ramsay has high expectations on chefs that are either very experienced or specialize in certain kinds of meals or cooking skills because they are veteran chefs and are expected to be the role model of the team. This can be seen in season 10 when Kimmie was eliminated on the night everyone was cooking meals based on the southern United States because she screwed up at something she was supposed to be good at due to being raised in the south and cooking meals based on it.
Dumb Blonde: Sharon from Season 4, Colleen from Season 5, and Stacey from Season 7. Arguably Sabrina from Season 8 as well; she did have some degree of cooking skill and didn't appear to be totally stupid, but didn't come off as very intelligent either.
Averted deliberately by Corey in Season 4, who proved to everyone that she wasn't a dumb blonde... by being a Manipulative Bitch.
Carrie from season 9 is showing signs of possibly being this as well.
Subverted by Bonnie from Season 3. Although it was easy to write her off as a dumb blonde to start with, her early problems were caused more by her inexperience and nervousness, the latter of which was exacerbated by having to work with the "Hell's bitches" of that season. In less stressful situations she actually appeared to be fairly intelligent and knowledgeable — notably she appeared to be the only person on her team with any real idea of how to properly cook the duck breast in the wedding challenge (and thus was completely ignored by Melissa). She went on to finish second.
Averted by Amanda from Season 6 who, despite being probably the dumbest contestant ever to appear on the show (or at least the most ditzy), was actually a redhead.
Season 7's Maria who apparently thinks cold cream on a hot steak is hilarious. Also during the pork challenge, she served Chef Ramsay a sweet potato soup with a spoonful of hamhock when the hamhock was supposed to be the main ingredient.
Season 9's Elizabeth. During the episode when they were to prepare dishes for a high school reunion, she completely screwed her team by telling them to create Asian dishes instead of the requested Hawaiian, and by mixing pork and fish in a dish when they specifically requested that fish not be included with any other meats.
Danielle and Tiffany in Season 10.
While not dumb per se, Susan in Season 11 has Face Palm worthy moments. For instance, when Gordon asks (sarcastically) if she's driving her station, she takes that to mean he wants her to lead the entire order and be a leader. She then goes on to interpret this as cooking as fast as she can regardless of the rest of her time while at the same time, not calling out cook times and requests — even saying on the Confession Cam that, as a leader, she doesn't have time to slow and direct people with cook times and such. It goes without saying that this results in a terrible service as orders have to be re-done multiple times because of lack of syncronization and communication.
It had the chefs assigned to the blue and red teams randomly, rather than the men being in the blue team and the women in the red team; the chefs generally didn't have any professional cooking experience (apart from Michael, Ralph, Chris and Dewberry), and Chef Ramsay couldn't override the team's choices for elimination.
There used to be Confession Cam moments not just for the contestants, but for Chef Ramsay and JP as well.
For the elimination sequence, Chef Ramsay simply hanged up their coat on the rack and had a close up of their name. Instead of the traditional portrait being set ablaze.
Only the final 2 got to practice leading at the pass before the big night. Instead of the traditional final 3-4 contestants having a turn at the pass. It was also for the construction crew, instead of a regular dinner service.
The rewards/punishments of the challenges often went into dinner service as well. Over 5 times, the winning team/contestant got a certain advantage during dinner service or the losing team/contestants would get a disadvantage (such as having to work without air conditioning). This was dialed down a lot more in future seasons, only occurring once or none at all.
The first two seasons also took place in a different building with two floors in the dining room, and all the chefs left by the back door, rather than just the ones who were thrown out mid-service.
There was also a difference in how elimination nominees were decided. In earlier seasons, Ramsay would just pick whoever had been the least bad performer as the Best of the Worst and get them to decide on the nominees. Starting at around Season 5 however, Ramsay largely dispensed with the Best of the Worst role (only assigning it when some turned in an exceptionally good performance compared to the rest of their team) and almost always had the nominees decided on by team consensus.
For most seasons, the reward is to be the head/executive chef of a prestigious restaurant with a $250,000 salary. But for the first season, the reward worked differently. The winner either had the choice to get capitol money to start up their own restaurant or have the opportunity to work with Chef Ramsay for a year.
Up until Season 5, at least a third of the contestants in each season were people without any real professional cooking experience. However, Ramsay got sick of people who constantly tried to use their lack of kitchen experience as a crutch for their mistakes (Jeff from Season 1, Ben from Season 4 and Lacey from Season 5 being particular offenders), and so starting with Season 6, the rules were changed so that only people with at least two years of professional experience under their belt are allowed to apply to be on the show.
This was most blatant in Seasons 1-2. For the first season, only 2 out of 10 dinner services had been complete. For the second season, they didn't complete a service until the 6th episode (the blue team finished service, and then assisted the red kitchen to complete their service).
For the first three seasons, the contestant pool was noticeably smaller, with only 12 competing. In stark contrast to the current season's 20.
For the first couple of seasons, a lot of customers confronted Chef Ramsay while he was working at the hot plate. After a while, they became Genre Savvy enough to know that that was JP's job. As a result, most seasons rarely see customers confronting Chef Ramsay (although it does still happen from time to time).
For the first five seasons, the finale was drawn out into two episodes. The finalists actually got to design their dining room and wait staff uniforms. Starting in Season 6 however, they shortened it to a single episode where the finalists still had control over their menu and team, but not restaurant design. They returned to a 2 episode format in Season 10, but the restaurant design was still left out.
The intros to the show used to be a lot more static. The very first one just had the contestants posing and their names really. In Seasons 2-3, it started moving around the kitchen with their faces and names blazed into certain areas, like on a pot. But it wouldn't be until Season 4, that they'd actually start interacting with the virtual environment.
Eat That: Some of the punishments for losing challenges involve this. One punishment in season 6 was having to drink a blended mix of several fine-dining dishes.
Dave: You're not supposed to drink duck.
In the more recent seasons, this form of punishment has seemed to completely vanish. Most likely due to the losers really not being able to eat something that gross for so long without feeling ill.
It returned with a vengeance in Season 8; firstly the red team had to eat a meal featuring the grossest seafood imaginable (although Gail wasn't actually disgusted at all by the seafood, which she commonly ate when she was younger), and then a few episodes later they had to eat a plate full of flowers filled with insects.
Also in the first episode of season 8 when Antonia's signature dish of gumbo note Ramsay quote: It looks like liquefied shit made Ramsay throw up, he forced everyone else to taste it before he threw it away.
And another return in season 9. When the red team lost a meat grilling challenge, they were forced to drink a blended up mix of all the meat they ruined. Even the sight of it was invokedNausea Fuel for some contestants.
Season 10 continues the tradition in the 2nd episode by forcing the losing men's team to drink blended scallops.
On the same episode, they were forced to eat overcooked scallops mid-service.
And then in a later episode, the members of the red team were forced to eat SHEEP TESTICLES.
Season 11 had the red team eat balut eggs (aka bird embryos).
Season 12 had the blue team drink fish oil.
If a chef messes up an order and pisses Ramsay off enough he'll tell them to eat the food they stuffed, often in front of the customers for further embarrassment.
This is sometimes a Subverted Trope. It's not uncommon for Chef Ramsay to tell a nominated contestant to take off their jacket... and transfer to the other team.
A couple times, he told contestants to take off their jackets...and to put on a black one. Other times, he has contestants take off their jacket, only to give them a new one because the one they were wearing was too dirty.
The first two seasons had more inexperienced chefs than future seasonsnote (to be precise, Season 1 mostly consisted of amateur cooks, with only four — Michael, Ralph, Chris and Dewberry — having professional experience, while Season 2 was a roughly 50-50 mix of amateur and professionals. Seasons 3 to 5 have mostly professional cooks, with a couple of amateurs. Since Season 6, only professional chefs with at least two years of experience are allowed to enter). For the first season, the cooks only managed to finish two dinner services throughout all ten. For the second season, the cooks didn't manage to finish a service until the sixth episode (only the blue team finished, then came over to help the struggling red kitchen to complete service). Although to be fair, the previous night they had gotten very close to finishing (had just finished all the entrees) but the red kitchen performed so badly that Chef Ramsay shut the whole place down.
Season 3, episode 5 had a challenge where the teams had to present dishes for the menu of a wedding reception. Melissa had screwed her team over by constantly interrupting Chef Ramsay and insisting that they didn't present their dishes, which pissed him off to no end. It all came up to a boil when they presented their meat dish: Sliced duck breast...and that was it. There were no garnishes or sides to it. Not even a sauce.
Worse still, the "lame duck" wasn't even cooked properly. Even worse is that three out of the four chefs knew that the duck wasn't cooked properly, but the minority insisted.
Season 4, episode 1 had neither team completing the service, with the blue team failing to finish the appetizer stage, and the red team barely completing it. To top it off, both teams wasted over £1,000 of food. Ramsay's response was to declare it the worst start ever in Hell's Kitchen history, wake both teams up early the next day and have them bin the wasted food with their bare hands.
Season 4, episode 3 had the chefs each cutting up a chicken into eight separate parts. Craig's chicken only had two parts meeting Ramsay's approval which singlehandedly cost the Blue Team the challenge. What made it worse was that Craig was a Sous chef with 13 years experience.
The aforementioned Jason and the souffles incident. No wonder Ramsay had a headache.
From the same season, three words: Matt's Exotic Tartare. Probably the only dish in the series where Ramsay actually vomited rather than just spit out.
At least until Season 8, where Antonia's signature dish provoked the same reaction from Ramsay. Only this time he decided to share the pain by getting the other contestants to taste it. They didn't like it anymore than he did, and Vinny and Nona also came close to throwing up.
From Season 5, Colleen's risotto. How can you mistake sugar for salt?
Also from Season 5, Ben trying to serve cheesecake and brownies before the appetizers were even served. He blamed it on misunderstanding Chef Ramsay's communication.
Yet again from Season 5 was the utterly disastrous 4th service, where, for the first time ever, Chef Ramsay declared there was no winning team and kicked out both teams in the middle of the service.
Then there's Giovanni who undercooked several steaks, having multiple ones brought back. This wouldn't be so bad if he weren't an EXECUTIVE chef at a STEAK HOUSE. Ramsay summed it up best with "Giovanni, thank fuck I never visited your steak house."
Most of J's performance in his final service (which he was kicked out of halfway through) falls under this trope, but the crowning glory had to be when Chef Ramsay discovered that he had hugely overcooked the rice for the service's risotto. All of it. Even the red team's supply of rice. This led to the risotto having to be taken off the menu for that night, and even Ramsay was stunned at how J had managed to screw over both the blue and red teams in one go.
Season 6's Louie being kicked out in the middle of the first service after screwing up the entire supply of lamb.
Melinda throwing away not just one, but many servings of capellini. That "deer-in-the-headlights" look doesn't help one bit.
"Why are you throwing it out? You can't just cook it a bit longer? Look at all this fucking... Who's putting all this in the bin? How many portions are you putting in there?? How much is in the bin?! Look!Look!! What the fuck is this ?!!"
Season 6 had a Marine's homecoming be the center of a dinner service. The Reds did not get out a single entree the whole time. Not one. Zip. Nada. Zilch. Ramsay was furious. This was largely in part due to Tek's complete inability to cook the steaks properly. The Blues (who had been cooking for the guest of honor instead of the Reds, thankfully), had gone on to desserts before a single entree was sent out of the Red kitchen. All of the Blue team (except Kevin, who was told to stay behind to finish up desserts), had to be brought in to finish off the service.
Note to Season 7's Andrew, adding fresh mashed potatoes will not fix diluted mash potato soup.
And then Salvatore went and did the same thing with rice for the risotto.
In Season 7 episode 2, the chefs were split into pairs to cook four eggs, four different ways. Scrambled, poached, sunny side up and soft boiled. Siobhan, being the odd person was told to cook by herself. However, Autumn butted in and helped Siobhan with her eggs which caused Siobhan to only do two poached eggs. This led to Chef Ramsay disqualifying four of the Red Team's eggs. Needless to say, the Blue Team won the challenge.
Season 8's Melissa, managing to completely destroy the red team's entire supply of steak by cooking it too early. She somehow avoided being eliminated that episode, and the following episode she was shuffled over to the blue team... where she managed to destroy their entire supply of scallops in a similar fashion. This time, she didn't survive.
Also from Season 8 was Raj. Rather than spoil the full story of Raj's incompetence, let's just put it this way: he was kicked off the show during the elimination ceremony on a night when his team won.
The High School Reunion challenge in Season 9. The red team, due to Elizabeth's leadership, missed every single cue from the committee tasting the dishes: they made Asian dishes instead of Hawaiian, and added bacon to a seafood dish after specifically being told that one of the guests didn't eat meat. As a result, the blue team won the challenge in one of the few shut-outs in Hell's Kitchen.
In the second episode of Season 10, Don manages to somehow cook a pizza with the toppings burnt but the crust still raw. Likewise, the Red team seemingly couldn't cook a beef Wellington properly. The meat inside was cooked but the dough on the outside was still raw.
In the eighth episode of season 10, the blue team served zero entrees, only this time Ramsay completely lost his patience with them and kicked out the entire team from the kitchen all at once (something which he's NEVER had to do before), it was so bad that Gordon actually had to send the red team over so they could complete all the blue teams orders.
In the same episode during the challenge, Royce served a dish that had a large piece of hair in it (to executive chefs no less!), needless to say, that singlehandedly cost the blue team any chance they had of winning.
In "7 Chefs Compete" in Season 10, the remaining chefs did so badly at the day's challenge that Ramsay awarded a total of zero points for both teams. For the first time ever, both teams were made to do punishment and the reward of a helicopter trip for a day at the beach went out the window.
Dana describes Season 10 the best as this: "Hell's Kitchen, Season 10, making history. Only making history because we suck!"
In terms of the worst teams in the entire history, the Red team of Season 7 only won three challenges, and only two dinner services (if you counted the last dinner service before the black jackets a red team win) which they tied with the men. Meaning that they never outright beat the Blue team in any dinner service. Unless you didn't count the two finalists' service, which can be (hardly) considered as their only service win.
Season 6's Red team was a close contender. They did well in the challenges, winning half of them. But in terms of service, they only beat the Blue team once.
As for the worst Blue team, Season 10's in the entirety of their existence only won one dinner service and lost all the other dinner services (11 total loses) sometimes in combination with the Red team.
Season 11's blue team was a close contender in comparison to Season 10's boys. First, they lost the signature dish challenge 5-4. Not horrible, but their losses get bigger from there: they lost 12 to 9 in the lobster challenge, then got beaten by the red team during the charity run lunch (for clarification, Ramsay dragged one contestant per team on the 3K run with him, skinny Dan and slightly chubby Mary, and wouldn't let the teams start until they both got back; Dan got back well before Mary, but the red team STILL FINISHED FIRST), and finally, lost the protein taste challenge as the women beat their ten-minute, thirty-three-second time with almost four minutes to sparenote And this was after the time sinker that was Nedra as she was paralyzed in fear with the animals that she wasted seven of those minutes!.
It gets worse. Of all the team challenges, the Blue Team has only won two!
And that's just the challenges. For dinner services, they only won three (only twice outright beating the red team) and lost 10 times. They did beat the red team in the breakfast service. But this was also layered with Epic Fail because their teammate Jeremy was eliminated that day, even though they won.
Expect the first dinner service to be so bad the customers get up and leave. Bad enough, but when it happens later in the season...
To date, the first dinner service has only been completed twice. Both times were only because Chef Ramsay made a promise prior to opening that they would be completed, even though they both ended up terrible.
As far as complete service failures go, Season 4's blue team managing to serve a grand total of zero dishes before all the diners had walked out of the first service.
And Season 9's blue team serving the same number of entrees in their first service, with three chefs getting sent to the new table in the kitchen due to failing badly.
Season 10's blue team managing to serve ZERO dishes (partially caused by Tavon completely butchering the blue team's supply of scallops). Neither team managed to send a SINGLE entree through two episodes.
But none of them compare to Season 12's first service: no dishes left either kitchen!
Former NBA star Jalen Rose is out to dinner with a girl, and Nedra is serving lobster. JP explains who he is and why this table is so important.
"And which one is that one? The guy in the suit?"
The blind taste test often provokes this. It really is more difficult than a lot of people think. But it still doesn't excuse some of the errors, such as confusing clams for spinach. Or venison for tuna.
The first three dinner services of season 12 have all ended this way; the first service saw not even ONE appetizer leave from either kitchen!
In season 12, during the signature dish challenge, Mike served canned tomatoes and packaged tortellini. Chef Ramsay threw that one out before he tasted it. The blue team, of course, lost.
Establishing Character Moment: It's usually during the signature dishes portion in the season premiere that gives a good insight of what the contestant's personality is. Averted quite often in terms of skill however. It's not uncommon for decent contestants to have mediocre signature dishes. Or vice versa.
In fact, half of the winners got mediocre reviews for their signature dishes. Dave from Season 6 and Heather from Season 2 got mixed reviews ( Dave cooked the ostrich well but undercooked the brussels sprouts and Heather's empanadas were thick and hard to digest, but was the best dish he had by that point). Paul from Season 9, Christina from Season 10 and Ja'Nel from Season 11 are the only winners who got positive reviews for their signature dishes.
Everybody Smokes: Practically every contestant is shown smoking like a chimney during the scenes filmed in the dorms.
Chef Ramsay has made it clear that he does not like this, as so much smoking tends to do badly for the palate and ability to properly taste food, something he knows is key to becoming a great chef. The only reason it keeps happening is because Chef Ramsay has said he has no right to forbid anyone to smoke if they want. Some fans of the show also tend to find the constant smoking a turn-off.
Made even more ironic in that, if you put in the contestants of all seasons together and count all the ones that don't smoke with the fingers of both hands, you'll likely have fingers remaining. In the fourth episode of the eighth season, he asked the chefs who were smokers and about half of them (including the entire blue team apart from Rob and Russell) copped to it. He then issued them a challenge — to see if they could stop for 48 hours. Some managed but at least a couple had already fallen off the wagon before service even started.
This is Truth in Television as many chefs actually smoke, due to the high stress nature of their jobs.
It seems finally averted in season 11 with the red team, where none of the women has been seen smoking even once.
Did this again in Season 9 after reading Tommy's ticket (poorly handwritten and listed the same dish twice).
The chefs also do this on their Confession Cam whenever they complain about their teammates.
Fan Disservice: They aren't shy about letting us watch the chefs change in the dorms, but how many of them do you actually want to see shirtless?
Robert's pants-splitting incident in Season 5. At least he isn't in the habit of going commando.
Robert also got a moment in which he mooned the camera and told Chef Ramsay to kiss his ass. It was a personal moment that got sorted out between the two, but still, nobody needed to see that.
Season 10 — Kimmie wore a pair of pants that hung so low they were forced to blur out her... well... butt crack.
Later in the season, Kimmie wears a shirt that's a bit short and reveals her ... ahem ... "muffin top" when she raises her arms.
One late season 8 episode featured a long shot of Trev sleeping in his underwear.
Raj from Season 8 being awakened from sleep, wearing only his underwear.
A minor one in Season 7: Fran describing an outfit she had to Nilka as a MILF dress. Considering how old Fran is, Nilka called her stupid.
Fanservice: Holli and Autumn were something nice to look at in Season 7, and the two got plenty of bikini scenes. Lampshaded with the Blue Team's reaction to Autumn when they won a trip to a Hot Springs Spa.
As was season 3's Bonnie. There's the memorable moment in which she ran out of the dorm in her panties.
As of season 10, Briana◊, and Danielle, and of course, one cannot forget Dana!
Corey and Christina, while attempting to manipulate the men into the hot tub to try and crack them, did both look really nice.
Season 12's Melanie.
Every season has a few good looking men and women.
Far East: One of the contestants in season 8 expressed worry at having to make sushi because they had "never even eaten Chinese food" before.
Another example from the same challenge: one chef was excited to be paired with Gail to make sushi, since Gail is Asian and "logically" should be good at sushi. The chef never bothered to learn that Gail is Filipino, not Japanese, and the two went on to produce the Red Team's worst sushi.
In season 9, Elizabeth remarked on the Hawaii themed food they were to be making, saying that while she's never made Hawaiian food before, she has made Asian food and they're the same thing (or basically the same). This isn't entirely far off from the truth, due to the heavy Asian influence in Hawaiian cuisine, but it is definitely a generalization.
Fat Idiot: Season 8's Raj. He's such an extreme case, they might as well call this trope "The Raj".
Season 4's Jason might just eclipse Raj, a adult version of Cartman from South Park.
Season 11 had Jeremy, and while he wasn't as bad as Raj or Jason, he still had some moments that made him feel like one.
With most overweight contestants, this is largely averted, like Robert from seasons 5 and 6, and Clemenza from season 10.
Felony Misdemeanor: Many contestants want to elminate each other for very petty reasons. The most famous instance was the first episode of Season 3, where Tiffany wanted to put Julia up for elimination because, "She works in a fucking Waffle House".
Flat "What.": Gordon reacted this way in Season 4 when he heard that one of the tables had been occupied for two hours, without anyone working on their food during that time.
Flawless Victory: Dave from Season 6 was never nominated once and was rarely criticized during dinner service.
In Season 10, Episode 16, the current black jacket team faced off against past runner ups (Season 8's Russell, Season 7's Jay, Season 6's Kevin, Season 5's Paula, Season 3's Bonnie, and Season 2's Virginia). Throughout the entire night, the returning team only made one mistake (Jay over seasoned one of his fish, which was quickly rectified by Kevin). Chef Ramsay himself noted that he never saw food so meticulously produced in the red kitchen. It was a landslide victory for them. What made it more impressive was that none of them had ever worked with each other before, yet had better teamwork than their rivals who had been working with each other for weeks.
Foreshadowing: In Season 12, Episode 4 there's a wedding reception in Hell's Kitchen where it's mentioned that Rochelle recently got engaged. 7 episodes later, while Red Team is doing punishment and Andi mentions you have to sacrifice a lot to get to the top, there's visible concern on Rochelle's face since she wants to start a family and also cause most of the Red Team to turn on her.
Tiffany also had a small moment of this when she claimed that Dana, Danielle and Christina were insulting Kimmie's choice of flour over corn tacos in a challenge earlier that day. Seems innocent, right? Well, not when it was Royce who actually said it! Now, Tiffany was drunk at the time (and some people are noticing she appears to be drunk/tipsy more often than she should), but it's a very hard mistake to make.
As of the sixth season, there's a new option: send out shrimp cocktails. The contestant chefs got it good for forcing him to do that. Luckily, that's a desperation tactic.
Later seasons also start to see Gordon and his sous chefs finish a service on their own, likely to show just how terribly uncoordinated a team is. At one point in season 11, he ends up kicking out both kitchens and finishes both teams services with Andi and James.
And as bad as any punishment gets, it can always get a little bit worse.
Hey, season six Blue Team! Half your team is impaired, including one twisted ankle and one fractured wrist, and you just had a teammate eliminated to bring you down to three! Think it couldn't get any worse? Well guess what! Chef Ramsay is going to take the single most disruptive chef from the Red Team, the one that sank them repeatedly, the one they all hated, the one that repeatedly got put up for elimination for screwing the team, and she's gonna be on your team now!
May be seen as a subversion of this trope. Her team was worried that she'd bring them down. She didn't hurt the team performance at all however and tried her best to fit in with them. Surprisingly enough, Van was the worst blue cook the following service. It helps that she was only transferred onto the team for one episode, as the next episode was when they received the black jackets.
Season 7's dysfunctional red team. They hated Autumn because they found her annoying and weak (even though she only committed two minor errors). So they got her transferred out of their team. Only to get Scott, who proved to be far worse than Autumn. An egomaniac who bossed everyone around and hurt the team performance a lot more than Autumn ever did. They were pretty happy when he got eliminated. But then they got Benjamin, who was a lot more competent than Scott, but just as arrogant with a more vile personality.
And if the show follows season 5, the same team sinker will eventually be punted back to the red team.
Funny Background Event: In season 2, when Virginia's burnt peas get returned, you could see Chef Scott dipping a spoon into the peas. After cutting to Virginia's face, they then went back to Heather sarcastically thanking Virginia. In the background, you could see Chef Scott spitting into the trash. He didn't like the peas either.
Funny Foreigner: Not only does Belgian Jean-Philippe have some of the show's funniest moments, but Season 7's Italian contestant Salvatore had some too, despite living in the States for 20+ years.
Fun with Subtitles: In the second episode of Season 11, Zach tries to say of Jeremy "sayonara," except it comes out as "sara-nara." A subtitle appears that reads "sara-nara = sayonara = goodbye."
In one episode of season 5, Colleen does a chant spelling out Victory in one of her confessionals, only she spells it as V-C-I-T-O-R-Y which shows up in the subtitles with a question mark at the end.
Comes up again in Episode 13's ethnic dish challenge, where Zach calls bok choy "bok chewy". Many times. This even extended to his description of the dish in front of the chef who was tasting it. Needless to say, the Red team won...again.
Not to mention when Zach reveals his alter-ego "Grant Banks", the place where the contestant's name is usually shown is briefly swapped out with Grant Banks' name.
Gag Boobs: Season 11's Nedra, who actually points it out herself several times.
Season 8's Emily described herself as "boobalicious" and was forced by Ramsay to cover herself with an apron during the signature dish competition.
Genre Blind: Every season, when it gets down to the final three, Chef Ramsay gives the remaining contestants a turn running the kitchen. Every single time he has done this, he has had the sous chefs intentionally sabotage 1-2 of the dishes, to make sure that they're paying attention. Rarely has anyone ever caught on to this (at least on the first dish). In more recent seasons, the second affected chef tends to notice, if only because Ramsay yells so loudly at the first one.
Averted in Season 2, with Keith and Virginia who caught the sabotaged dishes, Season 6 with Kevin, Season 7's Jay, Season 8's Russell and Trev, three of Season 10's final four, and Season 11's Ja'Nel and Mary. Backfired in the case of Season 5's Andrea, who reacted to nearly every dish from Sous Chef Scott as if it were intentionally sabotaged.
More than that, no one who competes on the show ever seems to have watched it. People who know they did horribly themselves will try to steer the nomination to someone else (ignoring that Ramsay doesn't really care who's nominated, and will often get angrier if the people who don't deserve it are put up), trying to sneak mistakes they know they made past him (despite the fact that even if he doesn't catch it, the food's almost sure to be sent back), talking back or taking breaks, and in general doing everything that anyone who's watched even a half season of the show would know not to do.
Risotto, seared scallops, spaghetti, and beef Wellington have been on the menu since the show started, and yet no one ever seems to be able to make them properly. However, beef Wellington is notoriously difficult to cook properly.
The meat station has seen the demise of many a candidate, including Rachel from Season 2, Lacey from Season 5, Louie and Tek in Season 6 and Anton from Season 12. You'd think that aspiring contestants would make sure that they know how to cook meat inside and out, but every season it seems that at least one candidate fatally screws up on that section, and even complains about how unfair Ramsay's being by forcing them to do meat.
The candidates typically fail to realize that every square inch of their entire work and living space is wired for sound and video, and their every action can be considered as part of the same absurdly lengthy, high-profile job interview. As such, shadiness, backroom deals, hastily-concealed screw-ups and temporary alliances can and WILL be exploited by Chef Ramsay. Sometimes, it's obvious he's even been up in his office watching the feeds prior to the carpet-call eliminations, as he will put people on the spot completely on the fly based on things they did or said during their post-service pow-wows (though he usually does this in a way that is much less-obvious to the contestants than it is to the viewer due to selective post-editing that emphasizes significant moments).
You'd think that at least a few of the cooks would start noticing how much their performance plummets when they drink while enjoying their reward.
Quite a few chefs enter Hell's Kitchen in nice formal clothes that are uncomfortable to cook in (like high heels or dresses). Which is rather confusing since the first thing Chef Ramsay always has them do is cook their signature dish with a time limit.
Some chefs will cook very spicy dishes, which Chef Ramsay has repeatedly shown that he doesn't care for.
After Season 4, it became a tradition that after the chefs meet up with their families, they were given a challenge where the reward was to hang out with them (with the exception of Season 5). The contestants are often surprised that the they get to spend time with their loved ones more, even though it's very customary to do so.
Genre Savvy: When Gina gets nominated early into Season 9, she admits that she screwed up that evening's dinner service, and says she knows Chef doesn't want to hear excuses like "I'm a team player" or "I'm going to keep fighting", which is what nearly everyone says when they're up for nomination.
Tommy has also used Genre Savvy to explain his motivations, lampshading it and explaining he knows Chef wants to hear that he messed up and he'll fix it.
Get Out: Amusingly, Gordon Ramsay is such a talented chef that he can even serve up this phrase in a variety of different flavors.
In the Season 11 Finale, Mary states this to Dan after he constantly failed to deliver at the meat station.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Has happened a couple of times. Once in Season 1, when the contestants were asked to clean squid (by using a cucumber) and again in Season 6, when the contestants were asked to make sausages. The number of Double Entendres from that challenge alone...
Gilligan Cut: Seems to be a common characteristic for incompetent contestants to tell their teammates not to help, saying that they know how to cook. Then it immediately cooks to them screwing up the food and Ramsay getting mad.
It's also common for contestants to say to the confession cam that they are determined not to screw up again, only to screw up a dish almost immediately afterward.
Another common occurrence is in the signature dish challenge, where a contestant states in the confessionals that they are confident that Ramsay will love their dish or that they're the only one in the competition who has a chance. Most of the time, immediately after this, Ramsay states that their dish sucks. An example is with Steven in season 9.
Steven (Confession Cam): I've been cooking 30 years. Nobody else has a chance in this thing.
Graceful Loser: As hectic as the show gets, many contestants do manage to leave more or less with dignity, and say they appreciate the opportunity to be on the show even if they didn't win. Of course, this is a lot easier for the later contestants than the earlier ones, as they have more to be proud of.
This is played straight for vast majority of runner-ups in the finale. They often take their loss well, feeling proud of what they did and warmly congratulating the winner. Russell from Season 8 is the one runner-up to fully avert this trope. He was so sore about losing that he pledged to blackball his team from any city he worked in.
Gratuitous French: Season 7's Benjamin tended to say, "Oui, Chef," to Ramsay. Jean-Philippe and Ramsay also talk to each other in French at times.
Gratuitous Spanish: Season 10's Brian during one service had him speaking random Spanish for no reason at all.
He claimed in the interview that followed that his post-makeover appearance was actually the way he used to look at culinary school, but that his wife actually prefers the "Shaggy look" that he first came onto the show with.
Season 5 winner Danny returned for Hell's Kitchen's 100th service in Season 8, sporting a new, much shorter haircut. Granted, he wasn't too bad-looking to begin with, but it certainly made him look much better.
Headdesk: Season 4 had the incredibly inept Jason. After numerous incidents he was placed on desserts and after they stuck to the cups, he suggested using sugar so they wouldn't stick to them. Gordon is reduced to this. To the uninitiated in cooking, using sugar on the soufflé cup is the first thing you should do when making soufflés. It's like wondering why your car won't start, and then saying that you're going to put this key into this slot and turn it, to see if that will work.
Happened again in Season 9, after Tommy handed Ramsay a poorly written ticket that listed a dish twice.
Heroic BSOD: One service during season six got so bad that Ramsay actually just sort of stopped bothering, and wandered out of the kitchen and out of the restaurant, to walk around on the street saying over and over to a sous chef and the camera crew that he couldn't believe it had gotten so terrible.
Chef Scott also had one in the first service of Season 3, when the blue team ran out of lettuce, Wellington and Chicken despite hardly serving anything, Scott sounded like he was on the verge of a breakdown.
Scott: We haven't served any food! How can we be out of anything?!
May also be invoked anytime Gordon issues the painful "SHUT IT DOWN!" order-the music sting even suggests this.
Hidden Buxom: Often the case for well-endowed female contestants, since the chef's jackets are baggy. Becomes quite obvious when they wear casual clothes. Or bikinis.
In one of the challenges in Season 7, the chefs had to teach bachelors who had no experience in the kitchen how to cook a monkfish entree. To say the least, they were Brainless Beauties. Jay's student, Rick, seemed clueless at first as well. Jay didn't have much confidence in him (given his looks and diamond earring). He actually cooked the best dish by far (and knew about the components a lot better than the other students did). Chef Ramsay noted that it only had one tiny flaw (too much vinegar) but stated that it was simply nitpicking. He remarked that it was as if Jay cooked it. Jay himself was pleasantly surprised and said that it was a textbook case of "don't judge a book by its cover".
Hide Your Gays: Averted: there are many gay contestants, the winners of both Season 2 and Season 10 were both out lesbians. At least three of the four red team sous chefs have also been lesbians. Season 1 finalist Jessica was shown kissing her girlfriend, and Season 10 winner Christina's girlfriend was featured prominently in the first half of the season finale.
History Repeats: Season 9's Will competed in another competition called Chopped in 2009, ending up eliminated in second place that episode. 2 years later, competing on Hell's Kitchen, he made it to the finale...only to again finish in second place.
Hopeless Auditionees: Most contestants on the show come from backgrounds that make them seem as if they should theoretically be good chefs, even if the reality is somewhat different. On the other hand, some of the contestants (such as Season 4's Dominic and Season 6's Louie) can't even boast this, coming from backgrounds that would not make them capable in any way, shape or form of running a fine dining restaurant, and it's not hard to imagine that the producers have deliberately put them in there as fall guys.
In one case the contestant was a cooking teacher, but never attended culinary school. Ramsay pretty much lampshaded her chances in the first episode (but didn't bring it up again until she was eliminated).
Humiliation Conga: Sometimes, it seems like Ramsay and the sous chefs will almost randomly decide there's a little more salt that can be rubbed in the wound of losing a challenge, leading to almost ridiculous levels of degradation.
Almost literally true after season 8's second reward challenge: the winning team hurried to get dressed for a wine tasting in San Francisco, while the losers began their punishment preparation work. Immediately after one of them asks if the men have left yet, the men jubilantly file into the main kitchen and strut past the women towards the exit, boasting of their success ("wasabi!").
In Season 9, the Red Team screws up one of their services so badly that Ramsay not only shuts them down, but forces them to personally apologize to every customer on the Red side of the restaurant for failing to cook their food.
Hypocrite: Season 9's Elise, nearly ALL THE TIME. She is the next listed trope hard and regularly refuses to work with the rest of her team and blames them for her mistakes. She claims time and again to want to work as a team, nominates teammates for elimination because they're not team players, and yet expects to get her own way all the time. At one point, when the black team had formed, Elise practically begged the men on her team to not vote her off, even though she has been a constant problem for nearly everyone.
During the final four, she noted on the confession cam that Paul and Will were shouting at the other chefs too much when they had control of the pass, which she feels is not good leadership and does not help productivity...what does she think Ramsay does every night? It's also her first mode of 'debate' second to breaking out into tears/sulking whenever she loses. She also (likely intentionally) sabotaged the garnish she brought up to Will, which resulted in the kitchen grinding to a halt because nothing could go out while she did it over, and she accused him of being a bad leader for allowing it to happen.
Season 6's Kevin avoids this trope most of the time, but not for episode 12 where he criticized Suzanne and Ariel for undercooking lamb and fish, saying they were easy and they should know by now how to cook them during dinner service. This was coming from the guy who overcooked an entire batch of RICE during dinner preparation.
Season 10's Tiffany. In episode 10, she didn't even really seem to be trying, so Barbie went and basically did everything for her. But when Tiffany found herself up for elimination that night, she called Barbie the worst chef on the team, while Barbie definitely has made her share of mistakes and isn't the best chef on the team, she's not the worst chef either, and she's certainly better then Tiffany.
Chef Ramsay of all people sometimes scolds contestants for shouting so loud that they're disturbing the customers.
Hypocritical Humor: When the men from Season 6 came back from flying fighter jets in swagger, Sabrina calls them dorks. She says this in a helium-high voice (she fooled around with the balloons during dinner preparation).
This little gem from season 6.
Joseph: I know we all want to take charge here.
Dave: I don't want to take charge.
Joseph: Would you just shut up for a minute and fucking relax?!
I Resemble That Remark: In Season 6 Episode 2, Jim suggested Van be nominated because of his attitude problem with JP, which almost resulted in a fight in front of the dining room. His response was to threaten to punch Jim in the face and telling him to suck his dick.
This is arguably a case of Wrong Genre Savvy, since teamwork is very important in this show. See season 7 for example. The blue team got along fine and won pretty much everything, the red team was heavily divided and kept losing.
Season 8 moved in the same direction, except with the red team working together half-decently and the blue team fighting a lot. Except for Sabrina, who basically hated all of her teammates, the women more or less got along.
Both teams in season 9 had trouble with this. The men improved after Ramsay moved Natalie over to their team to whip them into shape, but the women continued to have issues, largely due to the high levels of tension between Carrie and Elise.
Elise was very close to turning this into Genre Savvy before announcing something to the effect of "I'm not here to make friends; we can work in the kitchen, but I'll you out once we're done." Which, if she followed through with this more than once every five services would have been a good effort. But most of them time she was never able to keep her hatred for Carrie hidden.
Clemenza in Season 10 said this word for word. And Barbie used it too, if not quite the exact wording, but she was a rarity in that she went about it the right way. While she didn't really get along with her teammates, she was definitely a team player during challenges and dinner service, stating that she was there to do her job.
Informed Ability: The red team felt like Melissa from Season 8 was a strong cook, despite having constant Epic Fail moments in the kitchen. Like overcooking two dozen filets at once.
Chef Ramsay regarded Virginia as a talented cook, who was as equally strong as Heather and Keith. Even though she did well during challenges, she only did well during dinner service once or twice throughout the whole season. A lot of fans suspect Ramsay of favoritism as a result.
Insane Troll Logic: In the first service of Season 3, Vinnie tried to use water to flavor the risotto, since he had run out of vegetable stock. In the following Confession Cam insert, Vinnie explained in pretty much the most condescending tone possible that "vegetables are made of water, and stock is made from water," hence it was the right thing to do. Needless to say, Chef Ramsay disagreed with Vinnie, and demoted him to dishwasher for the rest of the service.
In-Series Nickname: The red team from Season 3 was dubbed by Chef Ramsay as "Hell's Bitches" due to their constant in-fighting. Something they didn't manage to grow out of until Melissa moved to the blue team.
Jerkass: Many, many Jerkasses on this show. Prominent examples include Keith and Sara from Season 2, Ben, Jason and Jen from Season 4, Joseph from Season 6, Scott and Benjamin from Season 7. What also doesn't help is that the good majority of the Jerkasses are the ones who can cook well, but are horrible with getting along with the team, prolonging their stay in Hell's Kitchen.
Joseph was so bad that he was suspected to be a plant, though one thinks that if that was the case, he would have hung around for several episodes instead of blowing his stack and getting kicked off at the end of the second episode.
Kevin from Season 6 revealed in a Reddit AMA that Joseph's reaction was genuine and wasn't staged.
Sabrina in Season 8 tried to get teammate Nona eliminated in the first episode because she snores (and because she made fried chicken, which Sabrina felt did not count as a good dish).
Russell from Season 8 was just as bad, if not worse (he cranked the factor up halfway through the season). He was probably the most talented chef in the competition aside from Nona, but by the final dinner service everyone despised him so much that Nona's brigade was fired up at the prospect of beating him, and Russell's brigade clearly put minimal effort into cooking for him. Russell even vowed to blackball the chefs he picked for causing him to lose (even though he did plenty to lose it himself, like trying to fire two tables at once and nearly getting in a fight with Rob). Classy to the end.
Season 9's Elise definitely takes the cake. Her irrational hatred of Carrie as well as her tendency to blame others for her mistakes and never take responsibility for her own made her extremely unpopular among her fellow chefs, as well as the audience. When Jennifer was eliminated (the two never got along to begin with), Elise mouthed off about how much of a better chef than she was, causing Jennifer to curse Elise out and flip her off when she walked off. Heck, Ramsay himself looked on with this in shock!
Two minor ones were Joanna and Tiffany in Season 3. They were pretty good, but they constantly picked on the Waffle House Chef Julia to the point that Tiffany even stated in confession that the only reason that Julia had to be eliminated was because she "works in a fuckin' Waffle House! I mean, come on" despite Julia saving Tiffany's ass in cooking quail eggs. Joanna might be even more so, seeing that she was at least six years younger than Julia herself and stated that Julia had to be eliminated if the Waffle House Chef didn't know what a creme brulee was.
Robert in seasons 5 and 6 was a Jerk Ass at times, making nasty remarks like telling Lacey that she needed to lose weight and that no one wanted to see her in a bikini(and that was after she had been nice to him).
Season 10: Tiffany, Royce, Kimmie, Robyn, and occasionally, Barbie...a few too many, wouldn't you say?
Season 11 has Nedra, Zach (not at first but definitely later on), and ESPECIALLY Dan. (To be fair though, the Blue team invalidated his talent for cooking and they ganged up on him. So he can't really be blamed for turning into a Jerkass, if anybody is to blame for his becoming this way, it should be all of the Blue team)
Season 12 had Nicole. Aside from being a borderline Emotionless Girl, she picked fights with her teammates, and when she was eliminated in the second episode, rudely threw her jacket at Chef Ramsay's feet, and flipped him off on her way out. It's any wonder why she even applied to be on the show.
Jerk Ass Has A Point: There will always be at least one chef who everyone hates, but has either good cooking skills or a keen eye to see where something or someone screwed up. These guys tend to last the longest due to Ramsay hoping that the chef gets over their attitude problem and put their skills to use to help the other chefs.
For some bizarre reason the contestants in Season 8 all seemed to believe that Melissa was by far one of the best chefs in that season's line-up, even in the face of her constant, massive screw-ups. The only chefs who actually called her out on her mistakes? Sabrina, who was continually ignored since the others just thought she being a bitch whenever she did so, and Jillian, who was the only one to treat Sabrina with any level of respect.
Season 11's Dan is an odious, whiny, childish asshole, but he sometimes does have valid arguments. A good example (and not the only one) was in a dinner service where the fish station (ran by Ray and Dan) killed the blue kitchen. The team blamed Dan for it, despite his rightfully pointing out that Ray was the one who screwed up the orders and every time Dan tried to cook, Ray would get in his way and prevent him from doing so, also refusing Dan's several offers to help. The reason that Dan's valid points go ignored by the rest of his team is because they all hate his guts.
The most prominent example is Chef Ramsay. He may be foul-mouthed, but most of his criticisms are well-justified. Especially when it comes to all the Epic Fail moments he has to deal with.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Chef Ramsay is a genuinely nice person, and when they do a proper job he tells the chefs so and applauds them. He's just rather foul-mouthed and does not suffer fools. Word of God is that he tries very hard to keep in touch with most contestants: "...when you have to release that talent, it gets quite emotional because they’ve become part of your brigade, they’ve become a pillar in that brigade."
Season 5's Ben. Sure, he was rude to Danny on occasion, but that was mainly because Danny called himself a better cook than Ben and even called him the worst cook of the remaining members of the blue team at one point, so it's natural that he'd feel at least a little insulted by that. His heart of gold comes through when he puts their differences aside and tries his best to help Danny win the last dinner service rather than being apathetic about the whole thing like Lacey or Giovanni. Furthermore, he consistently tried to rally faltering teammates (even Lacey). He was by no means the best chef, but Ben did aim to help.
Perhaps a case of Poetic Justice, since right before that he had cut off Siobhan's attempt at explaining why she should stay, so that he could tell Chef Ramsay at length how she sucked and deserved to go.
Ironically, it happened to Siobhan herself two episodes later. She started to justify why she should stay despite fouling up horribly on the fish station, but Chef Ramsay flat-out told her that there was nothing she could say in her defense, and eliminated her there and then.
Laser-Guided Karma: A common theme in this show is that Elimination Houdinis who get into the later rounds solely because they manage to take advantage of other contestants' failures eventually receive their long awaited elimination due to the fact that they simply run out of people to blame for their mistakes or to hide behind.
Jen from season 4 deserves mention. As cited elsewhere she is theReality TV bitch and when it was the final four attempted to sabotage voting who should be eliminated. By then the team was very close and when they discovered what Jen had done they talked long and hard about what to do, before nominating Corey (who they felt was their strongest member) so Ramsay had to eliminate either a genuinely good competitor or a backstabbing uncooperative one.
Russell from season 8 was The Bully and such a horrible man he threatened to end the careers of those he worked with because he didn't win. The reason he didn't win was because he was so nasty to the effect on the other chefs made them do the job poorly.
Leader Wannabe: It's fairly common early in the show for one of the chefs to try to take charge of their team. The problem is is that they do this before they've had a chance to earn their team's respect, and it usually just ends up causing resentment and making service harder. Then of course, there's no guarantee that they'll actually know what they're doing, even if their team was willing to follow them.
Lethal Chef: All the time. Expect some bad fire to be in the kitchen, or Gordon's remarks on how someone could die or be sent to the hospital because of a fatal mistake.
Lighter and Softer: For each of a season's last few dismissed contestants, Chef Ramsay offers some encouraging remarks and respectful compliments on what had gone well. Apparently, he feels that advancing so far merits such treatment.
Long Speech Tea Time: Nearly every time Gordon Ramsay asked season 5's Ben what food he prepared for a challenge or, when he winds up on the chopping block, why he should stay in Hell's Kitchen, Ben would go into rants much longer than necessary as the camera often shows the disdained expression on Gordon and the other contestants' faces impatiently waiting for him to finally shut up. Parts of his rants often got cut to show the Confession Cam of the other chefs mentioning how annoying Ben's ranting is.
Suzanne had one in Season 6. During a challenge when the chefs had to prepare crepes, Suzanne went ON and ON about what the inspiration for her dish was. Tennille sums it up best:
JUST TELL HIM WHAT'S IN THE CREPE!
One female contestant up for elimination went on for so long in a rambling justification of herself, wherein she essentially tried to tattle on every single other member of her team, that the camera did multiple fades showing everyone, her team, the Blue Team, and Ramsay himself bored to the point of falling asleep. When she finally paused for breath, Ramsay said "God, finally. Is that all?"... and she prepared to start up again.
JP explaining how to set the tables. Most of the contestants look like they're about to start nodding off it takes so long. Of course, what the contestants didn't know through this explanation is they had to set the tables for the restaurant and do it perfectly.
Manipulative Bastard: Joanna in Season 3 proclaimed herself to be one of these. Unfortunately for her, the reality was somewhat different; she failed to talk Melissa out of nominating her for elimination after the first service, and then in the third service she actually talked Ramsay into kicking her out, after he pointed out that the rationale she gave for why Jen should be eliminated made her far more deserving of being kicked out.
Sara from Season 2 was a more successful example of this; she successfully screwed over her team on several occasions, let Chef Ramsay think others were to blame... and got away with it on virtually every occasion.
Sabrina in season 8, when in danger of being put up for elimination yet again, managed to corner Jillian in the restroom and persuade her to change her vote to Gail instead. However, since Nona had the final vote, Sabrina was still named as a candidate. She then tried to convince Ramsay to send Gail home instead. It didn't work.
Elise in Season 9 manages to convince Will and Paul to vouch for her at Jennifer's expense in the elimination segment, which they do. However, Jennifer lacked communication in that service, which is one of Ramsay's major pet peeves.
Man Child: Dave of season 6 in spite of being a Handicapped Badass had shades of this, such as stealing chocolate from some of the decorations for a special event at Hell's Kitchen and throwing a temper tantrum into the confession camera when Ramsay disliked his signature dish.
Dave was nothing compared to season 10's Brian, who fit this trope so well it actually had a tendency to work against him: it was pretty amusing watching him run around a water park like a ten-year-old after winning it in a challenge, but it wasn't so amusing after collapsing so badly on the meat station in one service that Barbie (from the other team) had to come over and finish it for him, at which he point he grunted repeatedly like he was having a tantrum. Still though, his goofy behavior made him a fan favorite for a while.
Jeremy from season 11 fits this as well combined with having a chip on his shoulder. He was the youngest competitor and hated being told he might have less experience or age than the others. He would always be on the verge of crying (bitterly at points) on Confession Cam in reaction to when people tried to work with him and would always attempt rationalize away his mistakes by the fact that he was learning... even when he made egregious mistakes like serving a sample plate, practically fainting due to not eating, or getting so overwhelmed by service he would stop talking and literally stand around doing nothing. When he got eliminated, it was pretty much a Mercy Kill on Gordon's part.
Mean Character, Nice Actor (as much as a reality show can be): Chef Ramsay is an angry hardass on the show, but he's an extremely nice guy in real life (once in a while, this comes through on the show too). Also, some of the contestants that were assholes on the show are actually nice in real life (whether it was an act for the cameras, or if they changed their ways after seeing themselves on TV, is unknown), including, but not limited to: the late Keith from season 2, Matt from season 4, Suzanne (and to an extent, Tennille) from season 6, Jonathon from season 9, Kimmie and Robyn from season 10, and Dan and Zach from season 11.
Mercy Kill: During the debriefing of season 6's 13th dinner service:
Chef Ramsay, gently: "I don't want any nominations: I don't want to prolong your agony. Come here, [Tennille]... take off yourjacket and leaveHell's Kitchen." After Ramsay's usual warm words of farewell, Ariel, Kevin, and Dave approach Tennille for a group hug.
Mundane Made Awesome: Everything that happens in Hell's Kitchen, exciting or not, is accompanied by a million camera cuts and a Sting. Everything. "What did you put on the spaghetti?" "Meatballs." *dramatic effects* . In a similar manner, the openings. Season Four features ominous music and depicted Hell's Kitchen as a dragon lair, and to top it all off ending with Ramsay standing on a table while Epic Movie Voice Guy says * "And the Dark Lord reigns again!"* Season 8 features the chefs besieging a giant Ramsay and tying him down to feed him, and Season 9 has Ramsay playing pinball with the chefs fleeing from the ball inside a pinball machine decorated with the Hell's Kitchen logo.
My Beloved Smother: Melissa's mother from Season 4, Episode 6 was this. Very controlling over the direction of her daughter's birthday, claiming that she had simple tastes and that this was "training." Even the other characters found her overbearing and Chef Ramsay pointed out that it was Melissa's party, not her mother's.
Never Learned to Read: Salvatore in season 7. He screwed up in giving the orders to the kitchen because since he couldn't read, he also couldn't write down what the order was. Ramsay naturally tried to insult Salvatore by asking him if he even knew how to read. Salvatore honestly replied that he could not, due to getting a job instead of going to school so that he could support his family. Ramsay was completely shocked and apologized for his rude remark.
Never My Fault: Elise in Season 9 constantly found ways to blame other chefs for her mistakes. This reached its head when she tried to blame Tommy, who was on the other team, for her miscooked beef Wellingtons because she said he had scored them during prep, thereby causing them to fall apart and cook improperly... except that he wasn't the one who had done so; a flashback clearly vindicated Tommy, who emphatically told Elise that he wasn't going to score the Wellingtons, and showed Elise scoring the Wellingtons herself. Chef Ramsay was not amused and called her out on it.
"Elise, you know what's the big problem with you? Yourself. Who you going to blame, Carrie? Krupa? Jamie?" note All three are former teammates that Elise pinned her mistakes on and were eliminated.
It gets even worse when she wins a challenge or points for the team — there's no living with her, because she has to make sure everyone knows she is the only reason they won and that it's not her fault if they didn't win.
Jeff from the first season constantly whined about how he'd never cooked on a line before, ergo Ramsay and the other contestants couldn't blame him when he screwed up. His team-mates eventually got so annoyed by this that they called a meeting prior to what would turn out to be his last service, and he continued to try and use this excuse even though the meeting was about him constantly doing that.
Happens again with on chef in season 11, stating that she had never worked in a brigade system before. In one particularly amusing moment, she's ranting over the fact, states that not everyone works in such a system, that it isn't common to use, and then goes on to ask the rest of the chefs (who were all sitting in the dorms listening) who had actual brigade experience. She should have stopped before then since literally everyone else raised their hand to show that they had worked brigade before.
During season 10, when the red team really started turning dysfunctional, Robyn blamed her faults on the hostile environment. Although some viewers can understand her sentiment, unfortunately, her attitude did not change when she was switched from the red team to the blue team, and started blaming a number of blue team members on her shortcomings.
Jen from season 4 would blame everybody but herself for her mistakes or what went wrong. She never made herself accountable, not once, throughout the entire season (she made it to the final four, and reappeared for the final two episodes.)
Never Trust a Trailer: Like every other reality show before it, Hell's Kitchen follows up the end of an episode with a brief footage of next week's episode, which is just a bunch of short clips that will generate hype to get people pumped up for the next episode. Most of the time, the next episode isn't as dramatic as the trailer makes it seem to be. Many times the previews flat lie, clipping together footage with a voice-over that makes it seem like something huge and dramatic is going to happen, and something rarely does.
Common teasers are that two chefs will get into a physical conflict, or someone begins plotting to sabotage another chef, or someone will get seriously injured. A physical fight has never happened on the show (though they have come close at times), deliberate sabotage almost never happens, and serious injuries are very rare.
If a trailer has Ramsay telling the chefs "I'm going to do something I've never done before", it's likely going to be something he has done in past season, just not this one, or is a twist so minor it's barely worth mentioning.
In Season 11, the preview for the episode where Ja'Nel joined the blue team made it look like she was going to sabotage the blue team so only the girls would be around when the black jackets were given out in the next episode. Nothing like this ever happened in the actual episode, at all.
One preview had the narrator stating "There's a thief in the kitchen!", with Ramsay yelling at one contestant that they were robbing the customers. It was set up to look like Ramsay would be interrogating each chief to find out who it was. Nothing of the sort happens in the episode, and Ramsay's comment was in reference to food that was being wasted due to be improperly prepared.
Season 12 features possibly the worst instance of this in the history of the show. The preview for the penultimate episode showed a limousine with a police escort pulling up to Hell's Kitchen, the chefs being patted down by security, and narration that implies a very important guest will be arriving to dine that night. It turned out to be the traditional visit from the families before service. Particularly blatant is that this show was obviously just put on to make the trailer that way.
Nice Guys Finish Last: A firmly held belief of Chef Ramsay, to the point where he eliminated Gabe from Season 2 and Charlie from Season 5 solely because he thought they were too nice to work as head chefs. Not to say that being a total dick is the way to go in the competition, but it'll get you further than being Mr. Nice Guy.
No Indoor Voice: HOW MANY TIMES DID SEASON 6'S TENNILLE TALK WITHOUT SOUNDING LIKE SHE'S SHOUTING? Season 4's Jen was nearly as bad. Season 9's Elise also qualifies.
Season 10's Dana seems to be okay about it until she gets in front of the confession cam. Then she shouts at the camera, although that did make her "We're making history! Because we suck!" line all the more funny.
Season 11's Zach, especially (just like Dana) in front of the confession cam. Nedra as well.
Non-Gameplay Elimination: In most seasons, at least one contestant typically goes down very early, and it's usually for health reasons stemming from injury or illness (e.g., Season 2's Larry, Season 5's Ji, Season 8's Antonia, Season 9's Jason). Usually, a merit-based elimination is avoided in these episodes, as the MIA chef is given a cursory Hand Wave, with Ramsay saying they "will not be returning to Hell's Kitchen."
Subverted with Season 5's roly-poly Robert (a talented chef and a viewer favorite), who went down in episode 11 with a serious heart condition. Ramsay felt badly enough over Robert's faultless elimination that he was invited back to participate in season six. In the interim, Robert underwent gastric bypass surgery. Nonetheless, Robert was once again hospitalized with cardiac symptoms in episode 6, and was eliminated in the next episode after turning in a poor performance upon his return.
Also subverted in season 6. The finalists Kevin and Dave both had injuries (Kevin had sprain ankles, Dave and his arm) and this was from the same episode. They somehow fought through the pain in order to fight each other one on one.
Oh Crap: Virtually every contestant has had one of these — usually as early as when Ramsay tastes their signature dish and declares it to be garbage.
Ramsay himself has the occasional "Oh Crap" moment, as he considers his reputation to be on the line at every dinner service. These are usually visible when food is returned, in the brief interval between the food being returned and Ramsay exploding at whichever chef was responsible. During one point in season 9, he got so pissed off, he was practically on the verge of crying; that's how emotional he gets about it all.
Season 3's Joanna when Vinnie talked back to Ramsay, right before Ramsay labelled Vinnie a "dishonest, two-faced, lazy little fucker".
Season 5's Ben has this expression after seeing a lot of wasted meat trimmed off the fresh fillet, no thanks to Seth.
Even Jean-Philippe had one in season 5's Bar Mitzvah task, after Francisco accidentally destroyed the specially-made cake that was meant for the guy having the Bar Mitzvah.
Even more obvious when before the Bar Mitzvah, he found out who that party planner was.
And he had another one in season 4, when assistant Maître d' Craig accidentally hit a woman with a chair leg.
Season 9's Brendan had one of these when Ramsay caught him lying about the entree he had sent out.
The entire black team of season 6 reacted this way when they were nearly out of time to prepare their vegetarian dishes for their challenge. But them nearly running out of time wasn't the target of this reaction, oh no. The reaction was directed the sound of screaming kids thundering into the dining room and some crucial information that Ramsay didn't mention...
In the second-last episode of Season 9, Paul actually said this out loud after Ramsay had named Will as the first finalist, and had strongly implied that Elise was the second. Fortunately though, Ramsay was just pulling one of his usual bait-and-switches; Paul was really the second finalist.
Season 4's Christina has a big one when it looks like the team's plan to get rid of Jen backfires and Ramsay looks like he'll eliminate Corey instead.
On the rare occasions that one of the chefs talks back to Ramsay, the camera never misses showing the horrified reactions of the other chefs.
Once per Episode: You can expect Chef Ramsay to yell out that meat is raw at least once an episode. Also, while not once an episode, in the last three seasons, he has obliterated an undercooked fish dish at least once each season, with season 7's being the most dramatic as he yells that it's raw whilst punctuating each RAW with a slap on the meat.
Also, he will ask where something is out loud. At the rate Gordon's done it, he's pretty much close to or has surpassed Jack Bauer. It helps that this show had aired in the time slot just before 24 on some seasons.
Once a season (sometimes more) the chefs will be woken up at some ridiculous early hour. Drill sergeants, marching bands and rappers are the norm. When Ramsay gets creative he'll make it look like Joseph had returned and set fire to the place, or hoax some emergency causing all the chefs to be medically examined.
At least once a season, a member of one team will be transferred to the other. Usually for the purposes of evening the teams out. It can also be for other reasons: transfer strong cook to weak team to help them improve or transfer weak cook (or one that doesn't mix well with their teammates) to other team to see if the different team dynamic will work out better for them.
Expect at least one team a season to be very dsyfunctional in their group dynamic. This can be the fault of just one person, or multiple people. Season 2's red team fell apart when Heather left and Sara started asserting herself as the resident Jerkass. Season 3's red team was nicknamed Hell's Bitches thanks to Tiffany, Joanna, and later Melissa. Season 4's red team wasn't that much better thanks to Corey, Jen, and Rosann; the blue team had Matt, then got Jen. Season 5's red team was plagued with Lacey at first, then to Andrea and Carol's constant bickering and arguing; the blue team had Seth, then Lacey. Season 6's red team was plagued by Suzanne for the longest time. Even after she left, they still had some problems. Season 7's red team had problems with Autumn, then Scott, then Ben. Season 8, both teams were equally dysfunctional thanks to Russell, Sabrina and Raj. Season 9's red team was plagued with Elise who constantly fought with the group, particularly Carrie. Season 10's red team had Robyn and Kimmie. Season 11, the red team did have the occasional problem with Nedra, who sometimes intimidated them into agreeing with her. But they weren't as bad as the extremely incompetent blue team that was plagued by Zach and their mutual hatred with Dan.
From Season 2 onward, Chef Ramsay/the show does something that he's "never, ever done before" that is actually pretty big and will often recur in the future seasons.
Season 2: A lot of things due to the Early-Installment Weirdness of Season 1. The first time the men and women were divided into separate teams. The first season the portraits got burned after being eliminated. The first time Chef Ramsay eliminated someone who wasn't even nominated. The first time the contestants got a chance to run the hot pass before going into the final 2. And also the first time the quality control test was conducted by the sous chefs.
Season 3: The elimination of Josh which marked the first time Chef Ramsay eliminated someone in the middle of service and Ramsay sending Julia off to culinary school.
Season 4: The first time the intro involved the contestants moving and interacting with the virtual environment, as opposed to previous intros with just close ups of their faces.
Season 5: The elimination of Carol which marked the first time a contestant was eliminated despite being on the winning team.
Season 6: The first time the signature dishes actually became a team challenge. Also the first time Ramsay kicked chefs out of the kitchen to sit out the rest of service in the dorms (nowadays though, it's rare when that DOESN'T happen). On the first black jacket night, Chef Ramsay walked out of the restaurant in the middle of service for the first time, leaving the contestants to fend for themselves. It was also the first time the final 2 did not design their sides of the restaurant.
Season 7: The first time that four black jacket chefs ran the hot plate, as opposed to just three.
Season 8: The first season where JP wasn't the maitre'd. The first time Chef Ramsay had his family served by the contestants.
Season 9: The first season where the current contestants competed against former ones.
Season 10: The first (and only) time Chef Ramsay deemed both teams the loser during a challenge. The first time there wasn't a Non-Gameplay Elimination with any of the contestants.
Season 11: The first season without Sous Chef Scott. The first time the signature dishes weren't cooked in Hell's Kitchen, but in front of a live audience in Vegas. It'd also be the first time the pilot was spread over two episodes. The first time that a contestant called it quits even before the first team challenge started. The first time Chef Ramsay eliminated two people (Barret and Amanda) during the elimination ceremony outside of the black jackets (and the unusual circumstances of Joseph's meltdown). The first time only one male contestant made it to the black jackets.
Season 13: The first time to have a new narrator. The first time that a single team (red team) won the opening service without any of its members kicked out.
One Steve Limit: In Season Seven there is a Jay and a Jason. The contestant called (Blue) Jay normally goes by Jason, but became "Jay" for the show so there wouldn't be two "Jason"s on the same team.
Also, Sous Chef Scott and Scott with that annoying theme tune in that same season.
Louie from Season 6 is actually called Dave, but went by "Louie" to avoid confusion with the other, infinitely more competent Dave. Averted by Tek from the same season — her real first name is Amanda, but she never uses that name even in real-life, helping avoid any confusion with the other Amanda from that season.
Season 1 had two Jeffs. Jeff Lapoff was a small skinny guy with glasses. Jeff Blueberry Dewberry was a big portly manchild with a voice reminiscent of Mr. Garrison from South Park. Guess which one was referred to exclusively by his last name?
Season 8 had a Louis and a Lewis — different spellings, but the same pronunciation. As a result, Lewis went by his last name, "Curtis" while he was on the show. Not that it made a whole lot of difference, since both men were gone by the end of the fourth episode.
Likewise, Season 4's Petrozza went by his last name because his first was Louis, and one of his teammates was Louross.
Season 12 has three Mikes/Michaels; one goes by Mike, and the other two go by their last names DeMarco and Gabriel.
Season 13 has a Brian and a Bryant, but Brian is going by his last name, Santos.
On the Next: The show always employs this trope, but the later seasons intentionally posts clips with spliced audio to make scenes look more dramatic than they are or in the worst case, outright lie about what the scenes are.
OOC Is Serious Business: Raj was a Cloud Cuckoolander with moments of Butt Monkey seasonings, so it was a complete shock to everyone when he suddenly turned violent during a fight with Trev, getting nose to nose, screaming and swearing, and having to be dragged out into the hallway by Boris to cool down.
Pet the Dog: When Julia, a line cook who was clearly very talented, but lacked the technical knowledge to keep up with the show's challenges, was eliminated, Ramsay actually recommended her to a culinary school and paid for her tuition there as well.
Picked Last: In the final episode of each season, the two finalists get to pick who will cook for them during the final service from a selection of contestants that were eliminated previously. Expect whichever chef is picked last to require some serious soothing to their ego, if they don't just outright phone it in during the service. The prize for the final challenge is usually getting first pick of the returning chefs, meaning that you avoid getting the last pick as well. Of course, this doesn't guarantee 100% that the second-to-last pick isn't going to be bitter either.
Siobhan may have been a bit of an aversion in the season 7 finale: She knew she was going to be picked last but she was okay with it as long as it didn't mean being on the same team with Benjamin. However, she was horribly slow at her station to start.
Inverted by Keith in the Season 2 finale; he was actually picked first, and yet displayed a horrible attitude to Virginia, demanding $1,000 just so that he'd promise to give his all, mostly because he was a sore loser about Virginia going to the finals instead of him.
Averted by Garrett, who was actually picked last that season; mostly because he knew he was nowhere near the worst cook from that line-up, and he had a lot of respect for Heather, who got him as the last choice.
Also averted by Dewberry in Season 1, who had resigned himself to being picked last, but still resolved to try his hardest for his head chef, Ralph. Unfortunately, Dewberry was just as disappointing the second time round.
Also as a bit of an aversion, in every season except 1, 5, and 6, the person who lost the challenge, and therefore got the last pick, ended up winning the service, and the competition. Apparently, the last pick is not always a bad thing to get...
In the season 9 finale, Will, who won the challenge and thus got the first pick, tried to use this to his advantage: his foe Paul had already chosen Elise, and eventually the only two chefs left were Carrie, who Elise had at the top of her hit list, and Krupa, who was a trainwreck by the end of her initial run on the show. Will chose Krupa, thinking that Elise's and Carrie's bickering would cripple Paul's chances. This blew up in Will's face SPECTACULARLY: Krupa was absolutely hopeless on her station, bringing Will's kitchen to a complete halt at one point, while Elise had her best service ever and never once argued with Carrie (there was still clearly some tension, but they managed to shut up), and Paul ultimately won. Oops...
With the two-part season 10 finale, Clemenza had understood the first two picks with Dana for Christina's team and Barbie for Justin's team, but he was confused and even lost at wondering why he wasn't picked before Patrick or Royce, despite moments later giving out explanations as to why they were chosen at that time. When it finally came down to him being behind Robyn, he started to become disinterested and tired with the thing, almost going to the point on quitting on the team altogether! In the end though, he ultimately decided to stay. His performance was considered equal to, if not better than Royce's and was probably equal to Barbie even.
In the two-part season 11 finale, Ja'Nel picked Cyndi and Mary picked Jon to be on their teams. Eventually they were down to the last two people, and Dan was one of them. Neither wanted Dan on their team and Mary was hoping Ja'Nel would take Dan, but Mary ended up getting stuck with him. When she and Ja'Nel were given the choice to trade one of their teammates for someone else, she immediately tried to get rid of Dan for someone else but Ja'Nel refused. Inevitably, he got kicked out of the kitchen for doing poorly on his meat station and mostly for having a bad attitude.
Playing Sick: Usually averted, but seems to be played straight with season 12's Simone, who spends the prep portion of one episode claiming a dizzy spell and shortness of breath. Made all the worse when compared to her teammate Rochelle, who is also sidelined during prep with a deep and painful cough; some of the other ladies complain to the confession cam that they believe Rochelle is genuinely ill, but Simone is just giving up. This ended up being the episode where Simone was eliminated.
Season 10: Christina, Dana, and Barbie; Justin, Clemenza, and Brian
Season 11: Michael, Anthony, and Jon note They were perhaps the only good chefs on their largely incompetent team, and they each were eliminated after only one bad day.
Precision F-Strike: As freely as Ramsay drops Cluster F-Bombs, he still manages this with aplomb at times. Here's a particularly awesome example from the fourth season:
Ramsay: Tonight, there's no losing team. I can't seriously decide on a winning team on a difference of 1%.
Matt: Thank you chef, for your generosity...
Ramsay: Fuck the generosity, Matt. Both teams think of one individual up for elimination to leave Hell's Kitchen tonight. Now, piss off!
Another good example was from Bonnie in Season 3. Unlike most of the chefs, she generally didn't use any words stronger than "crap," which made it all the more awesome when she yelled "What the fuck just happened?!" in the aftermath of the wedding challenge disaster.
Joseph from Season 6 tried to be this, except without any hint of irony whatsoever, which had the effect of making him look and sound foolish. Well, more foolish at any rate.
Product Placement: In one season five episode, Robert made references to a couple products; While waiting on a beef dish, Ramsay repeatedly shouted "Where's the beef!?" which Robert joked in the Confession Cam reminded him of the famous Wendy's commercial. At the end of the same episode, he compared Lacey to a cockroach because she kept winding up on chopping block yet she kept somehow staying in the game, and made a reference to the pesticide, Raid. Whether this is product placement or just Robert's sense of humor is debatable.
Not to mention all the placement behind the contestants doing their Confession Cam. Look closely.
The later seasons almost always show scenes with the contestants drinking the rather distinctively bottled Stella Artois brand of beer, usually while in the hot tub.
The Season 8 premiere featured the contestants being given their knife kits, and then they were seen complimenting them.
Psycho Strings: These were heard when Ramsay was tasting Andrew's signature dish of steak tartare in Season 7:
Andrew: I've raised and butchered my own animals... and I like to eat 'em raw. (Psycho Strings)
Ramsay gets them himself when he's sharpening a knife and leading the chefs to believe they are to slaughter a pen full of pigs.
Not even embarrassed by his many failures, Louie told Gordon to kiss his ass as his Elimination Statement.
"He can kiss! My! Fucking! ass"
After the unfortunate lame duck from Season 3's Red Team, an obviously pissed Ramsay shooed them off by saying "Get. Out. My. Sight."
The above is not a typo-Ramsay didn't include an "of" in his rage-induced dismissal of the Red Team.
During Sous Chef Scott's aforementioned Berserk Button, he yells to Benjamin:
"AND DON'T EVER! COME UP TO MY PASS! AGAIN! AND TRY TO TAKE MY FUCKING PLACE!"
In Season 6, after the Red Team failed spectacularly in a homecoming party service and didn't manage to serve a single entree, Ramsay had the Blue Team take over the service for them. After the party was finished, he quite succinctly summed up the Red Team's performance by telling them that "That... was... crap."
Put on a Bus: The first few seasons of the show had Ramsay take all the chefs to a restaurant and showed them how the place cooks its food or how they make themselves presentable to the customers. This element of the show mysteriously vanished and hasn't been used since.
Jean-Philippe, a fan favorite by many, had vanished from the show for 3 years and was replaced by someone else. It was revealed later that Jean-Philippe was too busy preparing a restaurant of his and he couldn't make it to the show. He finally made it back in Season 11.
Sous Chef Scott left in Season 11 for other ventures.
The Quiet Game: In the premiere of the eleventh season, one of the men suggests this as they are all forced to ride from Las Vegas to Hell's Kitchen on a school bus as punishment, and one of them just can't seem to stop spouting strategy advice.
Rage Quit: Very rare, but some chefs have just gone up and quit the show when they feel they screwed up so much and/or can't handle Ramsay yelling at them, even though Ramsay doesn't tell the chef that he wants them out of the competition.
Dewberry nearly did this in Season 1, but he stopped short of actually walking out of the kitchen and stayed on until the end of the service... at which point Ramsay promptly threw him out anyway, for being a coward.
Jeff actually did quit in the next episode. After continually making mistakes and talking back to Ramsay, he eventually called him an asshole under his breath, which Maryann heard and made him repeat to Ramsay's face. Then he walked out.
Andrew from season 7 completely left the show after being scolded by Ramsay for not caring enough about his cooking and how he'll never amount to anything. Jean-Philippe tried to convince Andrew to not leave, saying that Ramsay was just testing him, but Andrew pretty much said to hell with this and walked out.
JP: What's wrong? What are you doing here?
Andrew: I'm walking out the fucking door! What does it look like I'm doing? That man asked me to leave, and you expect me to stay here?
JP: He's just testing you.
Andrew: Right, and if I go back in there, I don't want to hear him yelling at me.
JP: There are, I don't know how many people which would be willing to be in your shoes right now.
Andrew: You know what? * removes shoes* Then they can take my shoes, JP. * leaves*
Will in season 9 almost does this when Elise's abrasive and domineering attitude causes him to storm out of a team meeting in frustration, and even considered leaving the show.
Gina in season 11. She dropped out after only one service and a heated argument with Nedra.
A particularly jarring example occurred in Season 12, where Joy, after being one of the best chefs in the season, stormed out and tossed her jacket aside after being yelled at by Ramsay (worth noting that this is the the only time in which Ramsay specifically yelled at her). Ramsay himself noted how shocked he was at the whole thing.
Reality Is Unrealistic: After Raj's appearance on the show, most Hell's Kitchen related message boards were swamped with people posting about how Raj was obviously an actor that had been planted to add some entertainment to the show by being a constant screw-up, and that the producers were a bunch of stupid assholes for thinking that anyone would believe Raj to be a real cook. A cursory bit of Googling reveals enough pages mentioning Raj prior to him appearing on the show (in some cases dating back to 2003) to show that unless Fox went to an absurd amount of trouble to make a background for someone only in the show for three episodes, Raj really is just that crazy.
A similar thing previously happened with Joseph in Season 6, who many accused of being hired by the producers to make a scene of himself, the most common argument being that "no real Marine would ever act so disrespectfully towards a superior." Leaving aside the fact that Joseph's service record was quickly dug up and confirmed to be real, this argument was shot down by Season 4 competitor Bobby, himself a former Marine, who revealed in an interview that in his experience 75% of ex-military men have proper respect for superiors in any job, but the other 25% act like gigantic assholes and treat all civilians without military backgrounds like garbage.
Reality Show Genre Blindness: HK is a special case, simply because what most people would consider standard practice for reality shows is does not work here. When Gordon Ramsay says "pick the weakest chef", he means the weakest chef, and will not hesitate to call you on your bullshit if you try to do otherwise. And yet, people keep trying it season after season...
Played straight and then averted by the red team in Season 7. In a sandwich challenge Chef Ramsay told them that because they had an extra team member, they had to drop one of their sandwiches from the contest. The team duly decided that because Siobhan was their weakest member, logically hers must be the worst. Unfortunately, it wasn't; Fran's sandwich tasted horrible and Siobhan's was decent, resulting in the red team losing the challenge. Two episodes later they had to do the same thing, but this time they had learned from their mistake and actually tasted the dishes, and correctly decided that Nilka's was the worst.
Unfortunately, completely averted in the case of Elise in Season 9.
Gina in Season 11 quits just after the second episode for "having problems" with other people in her team, AKA Nedra. It did not help that Gina clearly blamed Nedra for the botched scallops in the previous episode, even though she was at fault, and then acted like Nedra was singling her out afterwards in pure spite.
On a more lighthearted note, when it comes down to only a handful of contestants, Ramsay will arrange for their family and friends to visit. Even though he does this every season, the last contestants are always shocked to see their loved ones walk into the building.
Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: There are many cases of this where one team member screws up and causes the rest of the team to fall behind or worse. This is one of the things that Ramsay looks for when it comes to eliminating people.
In the first time of the history of the show in season 10, the final 7 chefs were given a challenge in the start of the episode, but both teams screwed up so bad that Ramsay decided that no one wins and both teams were to be punished by cleaning up outside instead of spending a day at the beach. Basically, food gets cooked badly, everyone gets punished.
Indirectly discussed in one season 11 episode where Gordon has JP and the wait staff talk about the crap they have to deal with when the kitchen screws up. One server mentions that due to slow kitchen service, she almost got fired — and the only reason she wasn't was because JP took her aside to see what the issue was, giving her a chance to explain. This lesson in team work and how the entirety of a restaurant is in the same boat does not sink in as well as it should and the resulting service is terrible.
Reassignment Backfire: During the final service of Season 9, Will chose Krupa to be on his team, leaving Will to take Elise and thus sticking Elise and Carrie back on the same team. This backfired horribly when Krupa managed to do absolutely horrible while Elise and Carrie didn't argue like mad, and possibly could have cost Will the competition.
Running Gag: Season 11, the woman's team thus has has won all but one challenge. As a result, Gordon has started calling all the women 'my darling' as a term of affection for their skills and whenever they win, the angry persona cracks and he basically just laughs at the ridiculousness of handing the men punishment after punishment.
A minor one was in Season 11 Episode 17 where everyone had to state "I've never used a pressure cooker"...minus Mary who has one in her house.
Sassy Black Woman: There are a few, but so far Nedra from Season 11 looks to be the most triumphant example. Jen from Season 4 could also qualify as this.
Even Ramsay and Sous Chef Scott went into this in Season 6 and in Season 7.
In normal episodes the degrees of fail would be dictated by the amount of f-bombs dropped by Ramsay and the volume of his voice. In one episode this reached to the point that Ramsay himself suffered a BSOD and quietly left the restaurant. The Oh Crap — ness of the situation did NOT go unnoticed.
Gina in season 11 got so tired of being picked on by her team that she quit the whole competition just before the second challenge.
Season 12's Joy (this text added to prevent spoilers) pulled off one of these out of the blue after sinking on the fish station. She was shown regretting it in the dorms, and wanted to ask Ramsay for a second chance, but she knew by then that she'd sealed her fate.
Sequel Hook: When Julia, a Waffle House cook with no real culinary experience beyond that, was eliminated, Chef Ramsay not only sent her to culinary school, he also told her "I want you to finish culinary school, then come back and win this thing." We're still waiting, Julia!
To boot, he didn't just tell her to go to culinary school. He literally sent her there; he paid her entire tuition out of his own pocket because he truly believed she had a tremendous amount of potential.
Sexophone: Plays during a season 9 episode while Will takes (sexy) pictures of a very drunk Natalie on a pool. And appropriate, too.
Serious Business: Food, cooking, and the restaurant business. The winner gets a quarter million dollars and a job as head chef at one of Chef Ramsay's restaurants, thus guaranteeing the winner a highly successful career, but it's still rather amusing to hear dramatic audio cues when a contestant overcooks or undercooks food.
Joseph mentions point blank at the reward in episode 1, season 6 that he only cares about winning and not enjoying a pleasant break that the blue team earned as a victory. Even Chef Ramsay is shocked about this.
Ramsay himself is serious business during dinner service because making sure the patrons get their food exactly as they ordered it is a big deal and not living up to their expectations is a quick way to crash and burn. Undercooked food is also a huge deal to Ramsay because most foods that are not fully cooked can make someone sick or have the potential to kill them!
Scenery Censor: A season 7 episode has drunk Ed butt naked in a hot tub with two girls. Trees, barrels and other scenery props cover everything.
Shocking Elimination: Brad from Season 3; he had been the only consistently decent performer out of the men (apart from eventual winner Rock), but after two below-par services, Chef Ramsay surprisingly chose to eliminate him over the consistently terrible Josh.
In fairness, when Brad was bad, he was really bad. (For instance, trying to scrape the bottom of a burnt Wellington only to be caught by Ramsay and giving Ramsay an extra risotto when it wasn't ordered.)
Plus, Brad's elimination was partly due to the fact that he had deliberately tried to screw Josh over during that service, by refusing to help him when he was screwing up on the meat station. If Brad hadn't done that, then chances are it would have been Bonnie or Josh who was eliminated.
Also, Shayna from Season 4. That very episode, Rosann sent raw steak to the birthday girl while Matt sent dried fish to the birthday girl's mom and gets his station replaced by Bobby. During elimination, all three were nominated. After a heated exchange with Ramsay, Matt concludes that he would rather work with the red team because the whole blue team hates him. Shayna was eventually eliminated for just being slow. And then Ramsay agreed with Matt and put him on the red team, much to the surprise of Corey.
This was probably Executive Meddling. The producers probably wanted to milk the Matt vs. Ben conflict for all it was worth. Shayna was pretty much invisible during the season.
And from that very season, Bobby, who was in the chopping block only once, was eliminated instead of Jen, who was in the chopping block more times than Bobby and had a much worse service than him. Strangely enough, this is the second time someone is eliminated through Ramsay asking the person nominating the two on who should be eliminated. Christina preferred Jen to go home, but Ramsay disagrees.
Similarly, the first time this happened, Petrozza was asked whether he wants Louross or Jen to be out. Petrozza chose fan-favourite Louross to be out because he screwed up on meat that night (this is only Louross's second bad service, by the way). Ramsay agrees, meaning that Jen, again, was safe.
It should be noted that Jen was the prototype of the Reality TV bitch, so was kept on the show to keep things interesting and by the time of Bobby's elimination Ramsay quite likely had his mind set on either Christina or Petrozza.
Wil from Season 5. His performance in the service was decidedly less than stellar, but he was still far better than Seth. Moreover, Wil admitted he had been a bad performer, whereas Seth seemed totally unaware of what he'd done wrong. However, Chef Ramsay decided that Wil's decision to nominate himself proved that his heart wasn't really in the competition and eliminated him, an act which shocked even the other chefs.
Also in that season, Charlie, again when he was put up for elimination against Seth. Despite Seth having been involved in the aforementioned filet butchering incident that week, Charlie was seemingly eliminated for being a bad waiter rather than having made any fatal mistakes in the kitchen.
Basically any time in season five when the elimination came down between Seth or Lacey and someone else and the person that wasn't Seth or Lacey stayed. Both contestants were useless; Seth consistently messed everything up and set the blue team back in multiple instances. Lacey was lazy, skipped her team's punishment on at least one instance, and was generally irresponsible and a terrible cook. She inexplicably started doing a lot better for a couple episodes after she was switched from the red team to the blue team and the blue team actually started winning with her, but then went back to being terrible shortly thereafter.
Seth was probably kept on as a Ratings Hook via Executive Meddling. People would continue to watch to see just how low Seth would sink and how much of a kissass he would act toward Ramsay.
Also from Season 5, when Carol, Andrea and LA were called up for elimination, LA was eliminated, even though Carol and Andrea had far worse performances than her.
Carol herself in season 5, as it was the first time that Ramsay eliminated a member of the winning team. It would happen again with Salvatore in season 7 and Raj in season 8.
Arguably Jim from Season 6. He had never been an especially impressive performer, but he generally wasn't too bad either, so it came as something of a shock when Ramsay suddenly eliminated him for being too laid-back, even though he hadn't been nominated that week.
Nilka from Season 7. Up until that night she had been a solid performer. But that dinner service, she inexplicably fell apart. Her performance was so bad that Chef Ramsay actually kicked her out of the kitchen mid-service.
Raj from season eight. Eliminated out of the blue despite his team winning. In fairness, he was a complete lunatic who got on with no one, couldn't follow simple instructions and almost provoked a brawl during prep. Oddly enough, in a post-show interview with Sabrina (the manipulative diva of season 8), she stated she kept in touch with him after the show was over.
Arguably Mary-Ellen's elimination over Andrew in Season 1. Granted, Mary-Ellen's performance in her final service ranks as one of the worst in the entire history of the show, but prior to that she had actually been the blue team's most consistently good performer after Michael and Ralph, the two professional chefs. Moreover, she was put up against Andrew, who had been both consistently bad in the services and repeatedly disrespectful towards Chef Ramsay.
Jamie being eliminated over Carrie and Elise in season 9. Jamie had some early struggle during service, burning a garnish and having a hair in the food, but was able to fight back. Carrie and Elise had both been bad enough to be sent up to the dorms, Carrie even having the gall to talk back to Ramsay before leaving. The rest of the team were clear on the nomination, pointing out to Ramsay how Carrie and Elise were bad for the team in general. Elise could at least truthfully claim being a better cook than Carrie, who had been consistently terrible for several challenges and services... only for Ramsay to send them both back in line, and to the shock of everyone throw out Jamie, claiming she was in over her head despite that being far more applicable to Carrie. Executive Meddling, the producers wanting to milk Carrie and Elise fighting for all it's worth, is the only way to explain this one.
One must always take into account that Chef Ramsay despises people that don't fight back. One of the worst things to be seen doing is remaining mute in the face of adversity. Both Carrie and Elise vehemently defend themselves versus Jamie who sulked and hung her head in shame. See also Elizabeth's elimination when both Jennifer and Elise argue with one another. Ramsay despises quiet people.
Natalie being eliminated over Elise, especially after it was proven that Elise has a terrible attitude that makes her unsuitable for any leadership position, much less a head chef. True, Natalie was clearly struggling under the pressure at that point in the competition, but Elise outright lied to Ramsay's face and he called her on it. This was an offense that got Brendan kicked off the very same episode in which he tried it. Instead, Elise gets to stay to compete for another day. For many fans complaining about the show being plagued with Executive Meddling, this episode was the final nail in the coffin.
Season 10 has had four, though all have legitimate reasons for going home, so they are all debateable:
First was Guy's elimination over Clemenza; while Clemenza had struggled that night, his station was swamped with orders, so the fact that he got through the night without being kicked off the station probably played a factor in his survival. On top of that, Guy, while he had been fairly consistent before, had many problems on the meat station, which didn't receive half the workload of the fish station. Finally, Clemenza's passionate survival plea, which earned a standing ovation from the red team, is likely what kept him alive (he has since made it to black jackets).
The second was Roshni in the next episode; while they also had trouble on the meat station, Patrick, on fish, sent up cold lobster twice. The fact that Roshni was on the chopping block for the fourth time, while Patrick was only on their second, is likely what kept them alive for another night.
Interestingly, the third was Patrick himself; on meat, they misread an order, and sent up a raw piece of meat, getting them kicked out (although they had gotten some food out prior). While this would ordinarily be enough, the fact that the red team's bickering actually STOPPED service, leading to all of them being kicked out. Despite Tiffany saying that on a scale of 1 to 10 how much she cares, she was "like, a 9", as well as taking her sloppiness and laziness into account, Patrick was sent home, probably because Ramsay expects better from executive chefs like Patrick.
Finally, Brian became one in the last service before black jackets; despite absolutely TANKING on the meat station that night(they were so bad that Barbie had to step in and do their job), they had been one of the more consistent chefs on his team (plus they got 3 out of 4 on the palate test, which is important to Ramsay and is rare). Robyn hadn't technically been as bad that night, but they were worse in terms of consistency. However, in all fairness Brian's goofiness (which made him a fan favorite for some) contributed to his elimination, as Ramsay dosen't like it when chefs make jokes during service or don't take him seriously, and Brian had a knack for doing both, which combined with his terrible performance that night, pretty much sealed his fate.
Anthony in season 11. Despite being one of the most consistent chefs of the season, Anthony ended up in only 7th place after one nomination, while Zach, who was nominated for the FOURTH time, survived, even though Zach had done so badly on the meat station that Ramsay took over and did his job for him. Anthony had fallen apart in his last 36 hours on the show, but he was still widely considered better than Zach. Also, Zach's obnoxious ego was something the fans have been long-awaiting to see go home. Michael's elimination too to a lesser extent, as he was kicked out for one bad day. Guess who he lost to? Zach.
In season 12, Chris's elimination. He was a member of the pizza station, which did terrible that day, but Scott (also from the pizza station) wasted a lot of dough (which they eventually ran out of) and Ralph couldn't admit his huge faults in the meat station.
Richard's elimination, also from season 12. Sure, Richard was not the best chef on the blue team, as he was up for the second time. However, Gabriel was up for the fifth time, and for good reason: he repeatedly served raw meat. While Richard was one of the more consistent chefs on his team, Gabriel wasn't, serving everything from raw mushrooms to raw chicken.
Richard's elimination was mostly due to the fact that he was the most experienced chef on the Blue Team, and it is well known that Ramsay has higher expectations of contestants with more kitchen experience. However, Gabriel was himself an Executive Chef, and he'd had a pretty equally bad service that night.
Arguably, Kashia's elimination over Scott in the first black jacket service from Season 12. True, Kashia made some mistakes that night and was struggling under the pressure at that stage of the contest, but Scott was far worse in terms of consistency, being nominated for the SEVENTH time that night. Also, he talked back to Chef Ramsay during service that night, which was ultimately what got Giovanni eliminated over Andrea in Season 5 on the same first night as black jackets. Not to mention that it wouldn't have been surprising if Kashia had been kept around as Executive Meddling to keep things interesting, as she was pretty much this Season's version of Jen from Season 4.
The following episode sees arguably the most shocking elimination in the show's entire history, not least because it was a self-inflicted example. After being incredibly consistent and making virtually zero mistakes throughout the entire season, Joy (padding to help prevent spoilers) completely breaks down after Chef Ramsay chews her out for not being able to time the orders correctly, causing her to lose it, tell Ramsay to fuck off and then toss off her chef's jacket and storm out of the service, and thereby the competition. Even Ramsay himself admitted it may have been the most shocking thing he'd seen in all his years of doing the show.
Ramsay's decision to have Scott and Jason as the final two in season 12. Many viewers felt it should have been Scott and Rochelle as the final two, citing Rochelle's constant strong performance and Jason's attitude issues and general belligerence, and were also annoyed that Rochelle was eliminated before Melanie - and that Melanie got to keep her jacket while Rochelle didn't, citing Rochelle's much stronger performance running the kitchen, not just that night, but throughout the entire season.
Small Name, Big Ego: Roughly a quarter to half of the competitors on any given season. Despite the fact that the highest most of them have ever climbed to is a position as line chef, many have no problems ranting about how wrong Chef Ramsay is, how he doesn't know anything, and he'd best just give them their restaurant now and forget about the rest of the competition.
Joseph from Season 6, full stop. Not only did he mouth off in episode 1, he spent episode 2's reward challenge being a total Jerkass for no other reason than he felt like it. He then lost it when Gordon asked him for the nominees, culminating in him asking Gordon "Do you want to take this outside?", told the other contestants to fuck off when they told him to chill out, and he was eliminated for a total lack of respect.
What makes this worse is after this Joseph was bragging about all the restaurants who would want to hire him.
Ben from Season 5, despite putting an amazing number of dishes in the bin for being inedible and constantly getting a deer in headlights look when it picked up, took offense to Danny calling himself the best chef on the Blue team and ranted how Danny 'couldn't even cook his cock.' Point of reference, Danny was the winner of that season. Also a master of the Long Speech Tea Time.
Louie from Season 6, a diner owner who served Gordon sausage gravy with biscuits and was so utterly clueless that Gordon kicked him off the show part way through the first dinner service.
Andrea from Season 5, despite being a consistently terrible performer constantly belittled other people for the tiniest mistakes and acted like her shit didn't stink despite being a constant bane of sending food out. Her egotism ran wild and she often yelled the loudest for no better reason than to do it.
Jen from Season 4, who was basically a combination of S5's Andrea and Ben, but louder. She actually had the audacity to ask Ramsay for a letter of recommendation when she was brought back in the finale to help the finalists, and honestly believed that if she performed well enough Gordon would change his mind and name her the winner.
She also liked to proclaim that Chef Ramsay is wrong whenever he disapproved of her cooking and that he didn't know what he was talking about, or who he was talking to.
Seth from Season 5. He came across as a stalker for Chef Ramsay (knowing all of his personal information), and thought that if he read his books and visited his restaurants, he could cook just like him. In fact, he served Chef Ramsay ratatouille with honey in it, and was a consistently terrible performer in services, eventually being eliminated quite early on.
Tennille from Season 6. Though she started strong being one of only two women whose signature dish Gordon liked (though Tek had been chucked, so it isn't quite the badge of honor), she went on to fall straight through the floor. She screamed in her confessionals like it made up for not saying it to the person, and underperformed on a consistent basis. When confronted about her mistakes and shortcomings, she flipped out like someone dropped a racial slur on her, even going so far to cuss out Gordon despite her miscues messing everything. Needless to say, if she cooked as well as she gabbed, she'd be the best chef in the universe.
In the same season, Suzanne also shaped up to be an egomaniac, though more oblivious and/or in denial and not claiming to be the best chef. Despite her being yelled at the most in her team when it comes to screwing up in dinner service and despite her team openly telling Ramsay (several times) in front of Suzanne that she sucked and was not a team player, Suzanne just acted like they didn't know what they were talking about or insisted that she could cook well, despite her screwing up the most. On one occasion, she even openly challenged Ramsay's decision to name the Blue Team the winners, despite the fact that they had fewer chefs and still finished well over a minute ahead of the Red Team.
Scott in season 7. He had "experience" compared to the rest of the line and constantly used this as a crutch on why he should never be eliminated, despite his screw ups. Every time Scott botched something, either he stayed quiet or passed the blame to someone else, yet he was very eager to run his mouth whenever someone else on the team was messing up. The rest of the red team (which he was punted to) eventually snapped and let him know that all he did was talk about how good he was, but never actually showed it. Ramsay finally had enough of Scott's "my shit don't stink" attitude and eliminated him.
To a lesser extent, Fran from the same season. While she wasn't as egotistical as Scott, she constantly complained about her teammates not performing up to scratch, yet refused to ever accept any responsibility for her failings as a cook, constantly blaming either the fact that she's a kosher chef, or her team-mates for not telling her what to do properly (even when we're talking simple stuff like carving chicken). Even after she was nominated for elimination more times than anyone else in the history of the show (at the time, at least), she refused to take the hint.
Ben as well in season 7. He loved to act like as if his experience automatically made him the better cook, but when it came to working with the others, he pretty much shuts down and focuses only on himself, pissing off everyone else.
Raj acted this way in season 8, partly because he was older than the other contestants (nearly 50), but he was up for elimination in both of the first two episodes and never really did contribute meaningfully, so his posturing about being "THE BEST!" was ridiculous. Upping the ridiculousness, while doing said posturing at the end of the second episode, he actually fell and hit the Confession Cam. It wasn't very surprising when he was axed the following week.
Also in season 8 was Sabrina, who was the youngest contestant (only 22) and frequently the most clueless. She also managed to alienate pretty nearly everyone around her with her attitude and ego; she constantly told the Confession Cam how she was so much better than everyone else and they were just jealous and out to get her. She also claimed on numerous occasions that the pre-service prep work was beneath her... despite the fact that her day-to-day job is as a prep chef. Adding together the numerous mistakes (she was nominated for elimination more times than anyone else in the whole season), her poisonous attitude, and her constant attempts to manipulate Ramsay and the other chefs in her favor, it was quite astonishing that she made it to the final six.
Trev also became one when he went over to the red team, he was constantly talking shit about his teammates and claiming he was a much better cook then all of them despite doing poorly in several dinner services (He got thrown out in one service for his abysmal performance on the garnish station and was the only one of the red team to get kicked out on that night). Whenever he got nominated by the red team(or the black team), Trev would claim it was because they were trying to screw him over and refused to own up to his own mistakes.
Russell managed a late claim to this status in Season 8, in the final episode. Despite turning in probably the worst performance of any finalist in the show's history and completely destroying the morale of his team during the service, he actually had the gall to blame his team-members after Nona was unsurprisingly named the winner over him, and actually vowed to destroy their careers in retribution.
Season 9's Brendan was a short-lived version of this. After the blue team was taken to Palm Springs for winning a challenge, Ramsay invited each of them to tell him about their long-term ambitions. Brendan talked at length about how much his family loved his cooking and how he had a hereditary 'tradition of greatness' to live up to. He then screwed himself over royally in the ensuing dinner service by trying to send out a bass that Ramsay had deemed unfit, then lying to Ramsay's face and claiming it was a new one. When Ramsay eliminated him, he even said that the only thing bigger than Brendan's ego was his lies.
Also from season 9: Elise, so very much.
From season 10: Royce, Tiffany, Kimmie, Robyn, and to a lesser extent, Barbie, Dana, & Clemenza. Basically, almost half of Season 10 at one point or another qualify for this.
Season 11: Susan, calling herself the most grown even though it took nearly three quarters of the season to properly cook lamb; Zach, who was okay at first, but by the end he made a million excuses for each of his mistakes; Nedra, who thought her teammates were ganging up on her even though she was the clear weakest, and not accepting responsibility for her failures on the blue team; and of course, Dan, who had ONE good service, but was such a dick that his teammates couldn't stand him, and as such, he got angrier and angrier with them, and it just kept escalating until his elimination.
Zach perhaps is the most surprizing of the bunch since, as mentioned, he started off relatively sane. By the end of the team section of the season, he's grown to addressing himself in the third person and/or in his alter ego, dropping Manly Tears over mistakes and poor choices that he can't understand are such, and assuming way to much in random stuff such as Ja'nel touching his knee being a sign of something... while they're in a helicopter that's turning (that is, she's bracing herself on both Zach and Jon who were with her). And later still, he starts talking back and blowing off Gordon (but only in confessional) while being a Gordon's biggest fan in person.
Customers aren't immune to this either. In a Season 1 episode, after growing tired of waiting one table orders delivery pizza to be brought to them. Jean-Philippe stepped in and pointed out that it was against restaurant policy. One of the customers starts being rude and argues with JP and JP laments "I wish your education could be as good as your voice." This causes the customer to go berserk. He starts boasting that he has a doctorate in music and asks JP if he has a doctorate. He replies that he has an education, and the customer concludes "Then you are less educated than me, so don't get in my face buddy about what kind of education that you have!" Predictably, he got kicked out.
Season 10: Kimmie, Tiffany, Robyn and Royce. Barbie at first but thankfully, she got better.
Season 11: Dan. He WOULD NOT shut up about Ramsay saying he was a good chef. Ever. Also Susan; she kept bragging about the first time she cooked lamb properly, not raw...even though she kept failing until the FIFTEENTH EPISODE!
Spoiled Brats: The prom committee from Beverly Hills High School came off as rather snobbish and condescending to the men during their punishment. The show may have requested them to act like that, however, to increase the humiliation of it all.
Spoiler Opening: Averted in Season 6, which has a separate opening exclusively for the first episode so as not to spoil the return of Robert from Season 5. Less noticeably, the new female sous chef is also absent, so as not to spoil the first episode reveal. (It's Heather.)
Perhaps not so much true for the first season, however. This season's opening introduction features Chef Ramsay looking at images of each of the chefs. When most of the chefs are shown, he seems to sort of shake his head and even grimaces in some cases, but watch carefully and you'll notice that he sort of smiles and nods when he gets the one that's the eventual winner. Additionally, one of the chefs in the sixth season of the program was labeled with "Behold! Half Man, Half Donkey" and you just know that somebody labeled in that manner is not going to be the eventual winner.
Springtime for Hitler: During a split service in Season 1, whereby one team would cook and the other would serve, the red team came up with the idea to make sure that the blue team were bombarded with orders for lasagna, the most complex dish on the menu, hoping that this would slow them down and totally screw them. It didn't exactly go to plan though, because the blue team not only managed to get most of the lasagnas out, they were so well received that Chef Ramsay used them as the deciding factor in naming the blue team as the winners that episode.
In the finale of Season 9, Will set things up so that Paul would end up with Elise and Carrie on his team, hoping that their fighting would ruin his team's morale. They never fought once during the final episode, which Paul (rightly or wrongly) claimed was down to his leadership skills. Will, on the other hand, ended up with Krupa as his final pick to ensure that Carrie would be on Paul's team, and Krupa was spectacularly awful in the service that followed, almost single-handedly destroying any chance Will had of winning.
Stalker with a Crush: Season 5's Seth certainly came off this way, claiming to own all of Gordon's books and knowing his birthday and even the types of cars he prefers. Gordon finally got really wigged out and scooted away when Seth offered to prove the depths of his knowledge by naming Gordon's four children.
Carrie from Season 9 constantly flirts with Chef Ramsay and creeps pretty much everyone out.
Straw Misogynist: Season 4's Jason and season 6's Louie both show shades of this. They didn't last long.
Studio Audience: The diners during dinner service, though they are (usually) just there to (hopefully) get their food. If you have been kicked out of the kitchen, waving at the diners as you exit is a bad idea.
Team Pet: Natalie became this for the season 9 blue team. Ramsay sent her over to bolster the sagging blue team, after which they started winning challenges, and the men pretty much uniformly love her. They even defended her when Chino tried to blame her for his mistakes.
And even in the episode where she was eliminated, the three remaining men on the blue team didn't want to nominate her but had no choice. When she left, they all gave her a standing ovation and told her not to cry.
Tempting Fate: Carol in season 5 revealing her strategy for cooking the Gratin Dauphinois is to cook a whole bunch ahead, then reheat them to order, making mention of how smart this is and how NOTHING could go wrong. Three guesses how it turned out, and the first two don't count.
Various chefs have taken it on themselves to modify Chef Ramsay's recipes; Sharon from Season 4 made a garlic-flavored risotto, for instance, and Colleen kept adding mascarpone cheese to the spaghetti with lobster. Needless to say, Chef Ramsay doesn't approve of having his recipes tampered with.
Some chefs will start off the series saying that the competition would be easy for them. They're often in for a big surprise. Special mentions go to Polly from Season 2 and Dominic from Season 4. Both said that due to their experience with their kids, that Hell's Kitchen and Ramsay would be comparatively easy. They both got eliminated on their first night.
Any time Chef Ramsay creates a challenge reward where the winner is safe from that night's elimination. Virginia from Season 2 and Andrea from Season 5 won this reward, then proceeded to have their worst performances ever. Subverted in the case of Jon from Season 11. He had a bit of trouble at the very start of service, and everyone wondered if he was trying to sabotage his teammates. The rest of the night went smoothly for him though, in stark contrast to the rest of his team.
During Season 4's family night, Ramsay warned Matt that "if you serve raw chicken to any kids, I'll pickle your balls." Barely a minute later, a raw chicken drumstick served to a young boy makes its way back into the kitchen.
In Season 8, Raj used up the blue team's supply of Dover Sole with several tables still to go, and Chef Ramsay demanded that he go out to the dining room and apologize to the customers who had been affected by his screw-up. Rather than just get on with it, Raj started whining about how his clothes were dirty and how he couldn't face the customers looking like that. Ramsay told him to shut up and do as he was told... so Raj decided to try and plead his case to Scott instead. Naturally, this didn't end at all well.
Season 10's Kimmie. ALL. THE. TIME. Those who play drinking games should beware, taking a shot every time Kimmie says the word "bitch" may lead to alcohol poisoning before the episode is halfway through.
Season 10's Clemenza had a truly hilarious one: in episode 13, Justin was worried about Clemenza's fish, but Ramsay said it was perfectly cooked.
Clemenza: "How d'ya like me now, bitch?"
Season 11's Nedra is, at least so far, right up there with Kimmie in the amount of usage of this particular trope.
This Is Gonna Suck: Happens almost every dinner service, but in particular, the blue team's reaction in Season 8, after it turned out that Raj had used up their entire supply of Dover Sole just getting the first table's order right.
To Be Continued: Season 10 has been employing this trope aggressively. Several episodes have ended on a cliffhanger, which is way more than previous seasons have used.
In fact, out of (so far) twelve episodes, four have ended with a "To Be Continued", or a full third of the episodes.
The most notable use of this trope was Joseph's infamous threat to Chef Ramsay.
Season 11 is doing this even MORE than season 10; four of the first six episodes have ended on a cliffhanger.
Token Minority: While the black contestants are averted since there is usually two or more these each season, there are occasions where there's one Asian per season, like Season 1's Wendy (Chinese), Season 3's Aaron (also Chinese), Season 4's Louross (Filipino), Season 5's Ji (Korean), Season 6's Tek (Hmong?), Season 8's Gail (Filipino) and Season 10's Roshni (Indian)
Averted in Season 9 with Chino and Gina, who are both of Korean descent.
Too Dumb to Live: Joseph challenging Chef Ramsay to a fight in season six, despite being one of the frontrunners and not in the least bit of danger of going home any time soon.
A rather surprising number of the contestants, most of whom are professional chefs, screw up the most basic things, such as not tasting their own dishes before sending them to the pass or trying to "get ahead" by pre-cooking food when Hell's Kitchen cooks to order. It never fails to happen, and it never fails to infuriate Gordon. And then they keep doing it. Or someone else does it. There's really no other term for it.
Joanna from Season 3 may well be the best example of this in the series. After Jen admitted to intending to serve up spaghetti that she had previously thrown in the garbage (though Julia managed to talk her out of it), Joanna started ranting at length about how disgusting Jen's actions were and how she deserved to be sent home. Ramsay interrupted to point out that not only had Joanna made a far worse mistake, by using rotting crabmeat in the spaghetti and (unlike Jen) actually trying to serve it, she had refused to acknowledge that it was a serious mistake. Thus, Joanna ended up being eliminated thanks to her own argument.
Many contestants will fall under this for one reason or another, to list all the examples would need its own page.
The most blatant one comes from someone in the blue team in the first episode of season 8. Ramsay scolded someone on the red team for raw food and Boris started to mimic his voice behind his back. Ramsay heard him and tore him a new one.
Brendan from season 9, thinking he could actually get away with lying to Ramsay's face.
Averted in season 9, when Elise lied to Ramsay's face about scoring the beef Wellingtons and said Tommy did it, yet was not eliminated.
In Season 10, during a challenge, Royce served a dish to the Executive chefs that had a large piece hair in it, which single-handedly cost the blue team its chances of winning.
Sebastian from Season 11, who returned to the kitchen not once, not twice, but three times after Ramsay told him to get out. Needless to say, he was the first to go that season.
Took a Level in Badass: Vinnie, of all people, in the Season 3 finale. Despite having been one of the worst contestants from that season, he actually did very well when he was bought back for the finale, and helped dig Rock's kitchen out of the mess that Josh left them in after he screwed up royally on the appetizers.
Elsie in Season 1. Her only noticeable skill was that she was a "mother of six". However, she rose up through the ranks, won a challenge on her own, and was in the top four before she got eliminated. Not bad for someone like her.
A very interesting example of this trope happens a few times, interesting in that it's only temporary. Often times, a chef who's been troublesome for their team gets shifted to the other team rather than being eliminated, and for the first one or two services with their new team, their performance is remarkably good, much better than with their previous team, only for them to fall back into their rut not long afterwards. Examples of this have been season 4's Matt, season 5's Lacey and season 10's Robyn.
Also sometimes during the final service, some of the weaker chefs perform considerably better then they have in past services, such as Season 9's Carrie and 10's Robyn.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Some chefs start off as genuinely nice people, but as time passes, their bad side comes out swinging. A good example being season 11's Zach, who started off as one of the nicer guys in the blue team, but overtime became smug, selfish and took delight in sabotaging teammate Ray.
When season 8's winner, Nona came back for the 'Winners vs. Black Team' dinner service in season 11, she was a lot skinnier, and a lot bitchier. She was really self-involved and just seemed generally offended at everything the other winners were suggesting for a menu.
Can also double as Beware of the Nice Ones where a chef who appears to be friendly may be the first person who won't hesitate to screw someone else over.
Took a Third Option: Generally, if a team is trying to railroad a competitor, or otherwise fail to make the "correct" nominations, Ramsay dispenses with the pomp and pageantry, and just turfs whoever he feels should go.
In head to head competitions, Ramsay will often give the point to neither team or give it to both team.
Season 11 has a really good example. Blue team wins the service and so red must nominate two. That gets pretty heated but ultimately Ramsay chooses... someone on the Blue team to get eliminated since they had been doing so so so very poorly, he stated that the blue team's reward was getting rid of the dead weight.
Trailers Always Spoil: After Kimmie burned her hand in Season 10, it genuinely seemed serious enough that there was at least a chance that she might be forced to leave the competition. But the trailer for the next episode (a continuation of the Cliff Hanger) contained enough clips of her to make it painfully obviously that she wasn't about to be forced out by her injury.
Tranquil Fury: As much as Ramsay screams and swears, there are times when he gets startling quiet and appears quite calm, except for the aura of pissed-off radiating from every pore of his body. Take his reaction to Joseph's notorious hissy-fit in season 6; while he gets mad at him in the buildup, after Joseph took his jacket off and got right in Ramsay's face, Ramsay calmly told Joseph that he had no respect, and he told him to get out in practically a whisper.
Ramsay went into this during Season 3's wedding challenge. The red team performed so badly, that he had become immensely pissed off but held back since he was next to the guests of honor. When they left the room, he fully laid into them.
Chef Scott's anger after Benjamin tried to usurp control of the kitchen from him in Season 7 was turned up to about eleven hundred.
The first episode of season 10 had Ramsay's female chef assistant show the contestants that she shaved her head bald, revealing the hair before was a wig, and then a few minuets later, her baldness turned out to be a bald wig as she took it off and showed her real hair.
Viewers Are Goldfish: Every time the show comes back from commercial break it recaps events that happened just before the break and usually recycles some footage.
Voted off the Island: Subverted. As mentioned above, Ramsay can and will eliminate whoever he pleases, with little regard to who's been nominated. He does the nominations to check if the losing team's thinking clearly.
Wham Episode: Season 12's "Five Chefs Compete" episode has Joy, one of the best chefs this season (and arguably from any season), quitting during the middle of dinner service. Ramsay even lampshades how shocked he was at it all.
Season 4, episode 7. The Blue Team at the time (Ben, Louross, Petrozza and Bobby) are trying to eliminate each other left and right. Petrozza, however:
Petrozza: I nominated myself, chef.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite being the second to last to be eliminated, Season 6's Tennille was absent from the six returning chefs in the final episode. No reason on-show was given for this, though many watchers were probably grateful.
It probably had something to do with Tennille's partner of two years being diagnosed with leukemia, as seen in her exit interview. She did come back with other black-jacket players for one episode in Season 9.
From the same season, Andy, despite several horrible performances, conveniently skirted elimination just long enough to be one of the six to return... and then he didn't show. Granted, he had cut his hand pretty severely during his final service, but that paled in comparison to finalist Dave's broken wrist (and, arguably, other finalist Kevin's ankle injury).
The biggest example of this came in the first season where Chris, Mary-Ellen, and Jeff all failed to return for reasons that weren't stated (although it wasn't too hard to imagine why Jeff didn't return, given that his final service ended with him calling Ramsay "an asshole" and storming out of the kitchen), resulting in the utterly hopeless Dewberry returning for the final service.
In season 10, Tiffany failed to return for the final service despite her leaving fairly close to the end (Patrick came back instead)
What Were You Thinking?: Season 8's Boris gets one from his teammate after mimicking Chef Ramsay during service (and getting bawled out, of course).
Season 10's Patrick actually used the word "mucus" while describing his dish in the fashionista challenge, prompting everyone in earshot to ask what was going through his head (especially with how nitpicky the fashionista judges were). He even admitted in the confessional that it was the dumbest thing he's ever said. Surprisingly, his dish did taste good, with all three judges preferring his dish over his competitor Tiffany's.
Later in Season 10, Tiffany is put up for elimination and Barbie calls her out for just not caring in the kitchen. Ramsay asks her how much she cares, and Tiffany stupidly thinks for a moment and then comes up with "Like, a nine," resulting in one of Ramsay's famous Facepalms. There was also the fact that she called Barbie the weakest chef of her team, saying Barbie could not cook, this despite Barbie having to take over pizzas and the bellinis for an appetizer dish when Tiffany kept screwing them up, and Barbie served well cooked food. It was no wonder why everybody stared at Tiffany like she was crazy, stupid, or both.
Again in Season 10, Brian has a penchant for getting trouble for saying the wrong things since he's a natural joker. When Ramsay asked him what an overcooked sea bass he was eating tasted like, Brian stupidly made a joke saying it tasted like "fish". Ramsay got so angry he kicked Brian out on the spot, and in the confessional, Brian was beating himself up over blurting that word out.
In Season 11, the chefs have to make dishes associated with a particular style of cooking. Zach got Japanese cuisine, and was unfamiliar with it (to the point when presenting his dish to Chef Ramsay and the guest judge, he mispronounced the ingredients). He decided to make his dish based around Chinese cuisine, as "a Korean friend" told him Japanese and Chinese cuisine were the same thing. Needless to say, the judges pointed out the dish he had prepared was more Chinese cooking than Japanese.
World of Pun: A good chunk of the narration involves obvious puns. For example, if a contestant has to clean something, it's almost guaranteed that the narrator will say they're going to "clean up their act" and so on.
Wrong Genre Savvy: Most seasons will feature someone using the usual reality TV tactics such as Backstabbing, nominating strong people in the hopes of getting them out of the way etc. etc. What they fail to understand that Hell's Kitchen doesn't really become a competition until there is ONE team, and that trying remove the strong from your team will not only screw you over in the long run, but will only serve to infuriate Chef Ramsay even more.
Even after there is one team, Chef Ramsay still wants the two weakest chefs to be nominated. Nominating a stronger competitor doesn't get you anywhere. Ramsay knows who's weak, he will single them out and declare them so, and he will call out the team on not recognizing this. The nominations are as much about Ramsay testing the team's judgment and reason as they are about sending someone home.
Averted in the first season, though, as Ramsay wasn't allowed to overrule the choices that the Best of the Worst made. Michael played this to his advantage in the sole service that he was on the losing side, and deliberately nominated the two strongest chefs on his team (Chris and Elsie) in order to get rid of one of them.
Averted in Season 8 by Sabrina: after a service where the Red Team lost but she had done well enough for Chef Ramsay to give her nomination privileges, Sabrina told her team that she was going to nominate Emily and Melissa. These two were definitely the worst chefs of the night, and nobody would be shocked by those picks. Then a couple of Blue Team members suggested that Sabrina should use this opportunity to get rid of the stronger chefs on the Red Team, thus removing a threat to her (and weakening the Red Team even more, which is presumably what the Blue Team was hoping for). However, when Sabrina was asked by Ramsay for her nominations, she put up Emily and Melissa and avoided the usual mess.
Ridiculously averted by season 9's Elise, who made it to the final 4 despite being a manipulative, conniving, bitch (which Gordon called her before she left).
For most seasons, for ratings\variety reasons, there is an Elimination Houdini in the mix, but they never make it to the final episode.
You Bastard: Ramsay opened Season 7 by having his wife pose as a contestant, and making out with her while she was still in disguise. The other contestants responded with the stock phrase. Holli even goes as far as to state she wanted to be in her shoes.
You Have Failed Me: When Ramsay throws out chefs during the middle of dinner service due to their constant screwups, or actually eliminates them from the competition before the end of the night, it comes off as this.
You Keep Using That Word: During the "make your own menu" dinner service, Season 5's Ben insisted on making some potato dish he called "pomme fondant". At service, Gordon pointed out that pommes fondant is a French dish consisting of mashed potatoes cooked in butter, which Ben's dish was not. Later on he invoked this kind of reaction by repeatedly getting a "plain salad" wrong, causing Gordon to turn to Sous Chef Scott to make sure that the term means the same thing in America that it does in England.
Worse was Season 3's Brad, who during the same challenge suggested they make fancy macaroni and cheese and call it cassoulet; the other men pointed out, to his face, that that's not what cassoulet is (it's a slow-cooked French bean stew or casserole usually containing duck livers), and he replied, "Well, let's just call it that."