A cooking themed reality show that has different formats in different countries. In Britain (1990—2001, 2005—), three to six people compete per episode and one of them goes through to the next round at the end. In Australia, New Zealand, America and South Africa, the format is a standard Reality Television show, with people leaving each episode and the contestants being whittled down to one over time.
This show contains examples of:
Alpha Bitch: Natasha is set up this way at first in US season four, but while she continues to be haughty and occasionally mean to her competitors, the general tendency of many of that season's contestants towards Jerk Ass behavior leads to her never really achieving this status and she is overshadowed in the "villain" role by her initial rival Krissi.
Americans Hate Tingle: An in-universe example with regard to Molecular Gastronomy, which is a part of the show in nearly every version — except for the US version, where Gordon Ramsay and Joe Bastianich have made no secret of their disdain for the technique, saying that they don't consider it "real" cooking and that it encourages chefs to show off rather than focusing on making something which tastes good.
Monti's son's name is Danger. "He'll thank me for it in college."
The first season of MasterChef Junior has Jewels Gold.
Awesomeness by Analysis: In the first episode of MasterChef Junior, ten-year-old Gavin explained to the judges how he learned to make tortellini from scratch - he had it at a cafe and decided he could make it just as well at home. So he did.
Bait-and-Switch Comment: "I have one big complaint about your dish... I can't stop eating it!" shows up a few times.
Or a comment along this line: "I'm sorry but (beat) you won't be going home for a while. Come up here and get your apron!'
Conversely, the first episode of the third US season had this little exchange:
In season three to Felix when she's one of the bottom two: "It's time to say good-bye... to Scott."
Also in season 3, Josh was the captain of a team of seven that lost the earlier challenge. The judges decided that three people performed well enough in the challenge to be deemed safe and would not need to cook in the elimination challenge. After choosing two, Gordon Ramsay turned to Josh, and said, "The person I'm saving... Josh... it's not you." Josh's reaction was just priceless.
In season 4, Gordon was choosing one person of three to save from a pressure test. He says "Lynn..." and as Lynn starts moving forward to go upstairs, Gordon proceeds to reprimand him for sweating on plates (and even wiping the plates with the same towel he used to soak up the sweat from his forehead) during the team challenge, tells him to get back in line, and says who he's actually saving.
Also in Season 4, an elimination challenge has come down to Jessi and Bri. Gordon tells Jessi, "Take off your apron, and say goodbye." Jessi, on the verge of tears, takes her apron off, and then Gordon says, "Because you won't be seeing Bri again."
Beware the Nice Ones: In season 4, Bri has shown to be one of the nicer contestants overall, until loud, confrontational Krissi finally gets on Bri's last nerve, and the mousy, bespectacled vegetarian shows her inner badass when she delivers an epic verbal smackdown to Krissi.
Body Sushi: In the second season of the US version, a contestant attempts to impress the judges by serving the nyotaimori variety of this in the auditions. It didn't work.
Character Tic: Many times, when Graham Elliot takes a bite of something, he'll shift his eyes upwards to the left when he starts chewing.
Gordon Ramsay: "We have here the most amazing (foodstuff)!" In fact, he can actually count as catchwords, as he always uses the words "amazing", "beautiful", "delicious" and "stunning" when talking about food. And not just about food:
Deaf Composer: Or rather, blind chef Christine in the North American version.
Disability Superpower: Christine, again, in the offal challenge. Knowing how offal looks, being blind is certainly an advantage.
Death by Irony: Not a literal death, of course, but upon Josh's first elimination, he declared that Christine would go on to win the whole competition. Afterwards, he earned his way back into the competition, making it to the finals, where it was Christine herself who defeated him.
Death Glare: Season 4's Natasha's default expression. Almost every time she was seen onscreen, she looked like she was plotting a horrible demise for somebody. Krissi herself had a lot of these, too.
Judges Gordon and Joe can also be very good at this when contestants infuriate them in any way, be it with horrible food, disregard for cleanliness while cooking or serving, or having a bad attitude when the judges are sampling dishes.
Determinator: Khaya is pregnant but continues to outclass all of her fellow contestants in the SA version.
Christine, who is unable to see how things are cooking and how her plating looks, unless she asks her aide, Cindy, how things look. She nevertheless constantly puts up tasty dishes, many with nice presentations, and has even put up good dishes baked from an oven, in which she can't taste her dish while it bakes.
Disappointed In You: In the American version of Junior, the judges say this when the semifinalists fail to produce a perfectly soft-boiled egg.
Dojikko: Monti in US season 3. Her firetruck-red lipstick and meganekko look do not hurt at all.
Endangered Soufflé: In the semi-finals of one version, the contestants had to make a chocolate souffle. Whitney, the eventual winner had a case of both Carrying A Cake and Endangered Soufflé as she had to hurry and present the souffle to the judges as the souffle slowly sank.
In the US version one pressure test was to make a soufle. In a subversion, all the souffles were deemed so good that nobody was eliminated that episode.
Taken up to eleven in the third season of the US show. All three of the soufflés were properly risen on each side, even though the judges thought the task may have been too difficult to do in an hour.
In the second pressure test of Season 3, the goal was to make a molten lava cake. With time running out, Tali had presented a cake that looked okay, but was apparently a little bland and undercooked, while Anna and Josh had both presented excellent cakes. The one remaining contestant, Ryan brought up his plate literally as time ran out... and served up a disintegrated pile of mush that Graham described as "diarrhea on a plate." Turning this into a full-blown Humiliation Conga, rather than just announcing that Ryan was eliminated, the judges made him admit he had the worst cake and hand over his apron of his own accord.
Joe Bastianich has one during the auditions of Season 4, and he doesn't even notice it. When a Puerto Rican contestant named Bime auditions with a mofongo with shrimp, Joe says that the dish is a "shrimp scampi, faked, with plantain thrown in there", then says that he doesn't like fakers and doesn't want to give Bime an apron. Mofongo just happens to be one of the most well known dishes in traditional Puerto Rican cuisine. Needless to say that fans of the show, especially Puerto Rican fans, were not amused.
Fat Bastard: Averted by Graham Elliot in the US version; despite probably weighing as much as Gordon Ramsay and Joe Bastianich combined, he's easily the nicest of the three judges.
Fingore: Season four's Jessie cut off the tip of her finger with a mandoline in an excruciating sequence featuring spurting blood, and Gordon retrieving said tip, stuck in the blade of the mandoline, with a knife. It's pretty much the worst thing you'll ever see.
Foreign Queasine: In the second US season, Christian won the first Mystery Box challenge and got to set the theme for the next challenge, which was based around one of three European cuisines. Joe Bastianich revealed the first choice of Spanish cuisine, Graham Elliot revealed the second choice of French cuisine, and then Gordon Ramsay revealed the third and final choice of... British cuisine. Despite his attempts to talk it up, Christian and the other two judges couldn't stop laughing. A little later, after discovering that he didn't actually have to take part in the challenge himself, Christian said that he wished he had chosen British cuisine, just to witness the epic clusterfuck that would have resulted among the other contestants.
Similarly, in the third season the chefs were assigned one of three desserts, namely American Strawberry Shortcake, Italian Tiramisu, or British Trifle, for an elimination challenge. The chefs with Strawberry Shortcake and Tiramisu all appeared fairly confident, while the reaction of the chefs who got the trifle could basically be summed up as "What the fuck is this shit?" — though in the end, Stacey's trifle actually ended up being the best dessert, and Monti's was also praised.
Full-Name Basis: A Running Gag on the US version is that if a chef introduces themselves by their full name when they first meet the three judges, they will continue to be referred to by their full name for the duration of their time on the show.
Genre Blind: In the Reality Television US version of the show, many contestants fail to realize that many of the usual genre tropes are not applicable. The standard "I am not here to make friends" behavior is just going to make you look bad in front of the judges. Not that some haven't done it anyway.
Nobody ever seems to prepare for the Food Science/Molecular Gastronomy challenge despite it being in almost every single version of the show.
Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Gordon Ramsay, who is often a Cluster F-Bomb waiting to happen, has to come up with creative alternatives for MasterChef Junior. He does let one slip when the kids are challenged to whip cream into stiff peaks and hold it over the judges' headsnote the idea being that if they did it correctly it would stay in the bowl and he gets covered in halfwhipped cream as a result.
Gratuitous Italian: Seen occasionally in Season 4 when Italian contestant Luca talks to Joe. It may or may not be subtitled.
Handicapped Badass: Christine, the blind chef in season 3, still manages to make delicious and beautiful looking (to the point Ramsay once asked if she was really blind) food quite a few times. Other contestants have stated that she has an amazing palate and that makes her a strong contender, and when finding themselves eliminated, three contestants declared she would be the winner.
She eventually WON, beating Josh for the title.
History Repeats: US Season 3: In the episode down to the final six, eight previously banished contestants come back, and one of those come back to join the final seven. The end result was Josh against Ryan in a dessert challenge. Josh beat Ryan in a dessert resulting in the latter kicked out before. He does it again with a fruit tart, as the final six were blind taste judges and Josh won in a landslide.
Hypocrite: Season 4's Krissi; after the first team challenge, Jordan, captain of the losing team, was told to save three people, and he could choose to save himself, which he did, and teammate Krissi openly called it "a bitch move". After the third team challenge, the losing team being led by Krissi and including Jordan, Krissi was told she could pick and choose which teammates would compete in the pressure test. She chose Jordan as one of the competitors, and saved herself. Jordan IMMEDIATELY called her out on it.
Later in the competition, Krissi talks trash about Bri when Bri gives a name to one of her dishes (a dish which got her the win in that particular challenge). Move on to another challenge, and Krissi gives one of her dishes a name too.
Informed Ability: While season 4's Lynn was by all means a great cook and had some of the best plating skills in the competition, the way his competition constantly raved about how big of a threat he was and how he was probably going to win it all left some viewers feeling he was overrated, as while he had some moments where he truly shone he generally performed as a middle-of-the-pack to slightly-above-average competitor in individual challenges. Thus, the informed part is not his ability to cook but how better he was than the rest of the cast.
Max in season 2 and also Christian who do not treat his competitors or the judges with any respect. Suzy as well was quite the mean one herself, and at times so was Christine.
Season 3's Tali and Ryan are both smug and have an irrational hatred towards some contestants (David and Monti), but Ryan takes the jerkass flavored cake with inappropriate comments that he does not feel sorry for saying. Becky, meanwhile, takes more of a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing approach, acting sweet towards the judges while smugly condenscending the other chefs, and Josh was also prone of trash-talking, also having quite the bad attitude pretty much every time he fell into the bottom and had to compete in a pressure test.
Season 4's Natasha wastes no time in coming out as a mean-spirited trash talker right from the start. She immediately shows disdain for Kathy and especially Krissi and makes rude remarks about their efforts, and later verbally attacks Beth to the point of making her cry. Krissi herself can dish the trash talk and foul language towards other contestants pretty good herself, while Jordan is more like season 3's Becky, being a nice guy in front of others while talking crap about them behind their backs. James also tended to take the same approach as Jordan of being nice to people and trash talk behind their backs, and was genuinely annoyed at Luca for clapping when Bime was brought back for a chance to get back in the competition.
It should be noted that Natasha only started showing disdain for Kathy after Kathy tried calling her out during a challenge when she should have been focusing on her cooking. Additionally, Beth was already starting to cry before Natasha verbally attacked her, and Natasha only did it because Beth insulted her cooking. In Natasha's own words, that's something you should never do to anyone in the competition, and something she wouldn't have ever said to Beth before that point.
However, during that challenge, Beth tried to point out flaws in Natasha's cauliflower puree, and Natasha shut Beth out and constantly refused to listen to her. It turned out that the puree was indeed a big failure and nobody liked it, something even Joe Bastianich mentioned. It is when the team is discussing what caused them to lose that Beth points out the puree being disgusting, and Natasha proceeds to go berserk.
Krissi of Season 4 eventually cements herself as, easily, the biggest Jerkass in the show's history. She loudly and proudly argues with everyone and proclaims how she hates some of them, and after Kathy's elimination (Kathy and Sasha being her only friends), she admits that she pretty much hates them all and wastes no chance to talk smack on everyone she can. It eventually shows the most with her irrational hatred of Bime and her utter glee at his mistake during the citrus meringue pie pressure test that gets him eliminated. She spends the whole thing cackling, gloating at the camera about how her "plan" to get Bime eliminated worked, and even when Natasha comments how hard the whole thing is to watch, Krissi comments that it isn't hard to watch for her. What makes it even worse was he actually helped her team out for the team challenge more than everyone else. Further along, she continues to ignore her faults, becoming increasingly confrontational and louder, and it's gotten to the point where the other contestants are becoming more open on how much they dislike her.
Eventually she had gotten so bad that she did things such as fling sauce with a spoon to other contestants who were arguing with her during a pressure test, and she walked out on Jessie during a team challenge after they argued, returning only when there was barely any time left to do anything.
Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Krissi in Season 4 of the American version originally seems to be a tough but likeable foil to Alpha Bitch Natasha, as the two of them almost immediately come into conflict. However, Krissi later turns out to be the meanest contestant in the entire season, going out of her way to antagonize other competitors and never taking accountability for her actions, eliminating her specific rivalry with Natasha and making her the general villain of the show. The only person who seems to be exempt from Krissi's unpleasantness is Kathy, but the audience never saw the two of them interact and only learned of their friendship after Kathy's elimination, leading to it being more of an Informed Attribute that does nothing to make Krissi seem more likable (especially because after saying how much she missed Kathy she goes on to make a point of how much she hates everyone else).
Kick the Dog: Season 4's Kathy goes through an especially long and painful one, pretty much going through 4 challenges not being the worst performer just to end up eliminated. First, the team she's in loses the team challenge due to weak leadership and too many cooks in the kitchen, such as Krissi being mouthy and not easy to work with, Natasha ignoring Beth's suggestions on the cauliflower puree (which ended up being horrible) and one of Kathy's ideas (putting an actual rub and seasoning on a steak to test if it would taste better than the unseasoned one they would serve) being ignored. In the pressure test they have to make eggs benedict. While Kathy's eggs benedict was not perfect, her flaws aren't huge, with one poached egg breaking a bit but the yolk not spilling, and putting little sauce on it, while the muffin, bacon, egg and the sauce itself were perfectly cooked. The judges deem this bad enough to put her in the same level as Luca (undercooked eggs), Natasha (hollindaise so bad it turned into mayonnaise) and Beth (broken hollindaise, undercooked egg and burnt muffin). They take part in a team challenge cooking burgers, Kathy paired with Luca, who suggests a very simple burger, then has problems cooking them, sending out both raw and overcooked burgers, essentially costing the team the victory by a few points through no fault of Kathy. Finally, Luca and Kathy have to cook butter poached lobster. Luca has the more complete presentation and the better salad, while Kathy lacked a bit of lobster in the presentation and her salad was acidic, but when it came to the lobster's taste, Luca's was lacking some flavor due to an improper preparation technique, while Kathy's lobster was cooked to perfection and very flavorful, this despite Kathy having never made that dish before while Luca had. Despite the main component of the dish being superior on Kathy's side, the judges choose to save Luca over her.
Bime gets put through a similar string of events shortly thereafter, courtesy of Krissi. One week he is a team captain and winds up with Krissi on his team, who spends the whole time complaining that he is a terrible leader and generally being unpleasant. When they lose, she blames it all on him and shows nothing but disdain when he is saved from the pressure test not through his own choice but that of the judges. The next week, Krissi is a captain and Bime is assigned to her team, leading to her saying he's an "idiot" and deciding to have him make fried chicken because she figures "even he couldn't screw it up". She then continues to blame him when some of the chicken comes out raw, and once again blames him for the team's loss. When it turns out his chicken actually won their team the majority of their votes and it was actually the fish that lost them the challenge, she still makes Bime compete in the pressure test while saving herself. Bime winds up accidentally putting cream of tartar in his pie instead of cornstarch and is eliminated, while Krissi watches and gloats the whole time.
Made even harsher when, after that episode, an interview revealed that the reason some of the chicken was raw was because Krissi ordered to have the chicken in a salt water brine for a very long time rather than cooking them earlier, and not only that, but Bime had noticed that some chicken was raw and Krissi decided to serve it anyway. Taking that into account and adding the fact that Krissi either did not notice or did not care about Jordan's flawed salmon, it's obvious that the loss of the challenge fell squarely on Krissi's shoulders due to her terrible leadership, which she refused to accept responsibility for and leads to this trope for Bime.
Gordon has a rather cruel moment towards Lynn in the episode where he was eliminated. Gordon had seen Lynn seriously struggling with the baking challenge and knew that his dish was utter crap, but when he calls him up for judging he refers to him as "the plating expert" and "Mister finesse", making Lynn extremely uncomfortable because both he and Gordon knew that his dish looked awful. Gordon then goes out of his way to make a big show of having the other judges see how terrible the dish looks and calls it the "worst dish he's ever tasted in four years of MasterChef".
Laser-Guided Amnesia: The judges seem to get hit with this during a Mystery Box challenge in the Junior season, when they comment on how amazed they are that Dara was bravely attempting to make a blue cheese souffle, saying that nobody in the show's history had ever attempted to do a souffle in a challenge unless the judges had specifically asked for a souffle to be made. However, anyone who has seen the adult seasons will remember Season 3's Monti making a corn and lavender souffle (which Gordon gave high praise to) on a challenge in which they had to make any dessert they wanted using corn as the main ingredient.
Mean Brit: Surprisingly for a show involving Gordon Ramsay, this isn't really used or invoked that much. Gordon can be harsh at times, but generally tends to play the "strict but fair" judge role in between "nice judge" Graham and "mean judge" Joe, and can also be quite pleasant, especially when he sees contestants do really well, or when a contestant surprises him with something unexpectedly tasty.
Melodrama: "Cooking doesn't get tougher than this!" said repeatedly in the series.
The US version takes this Up to Eleven by never missing a chance to hype up how difficult the next challenge is. The show will also always go to commercial right before the judges announce a decision.
The South African version seems to have followed in the US versions footsteps, with Khaya seeming always managing to screw up at least one aspect of her dish and finishing at the last minute. Despite this, she's only been in one Pressure Test and is always winning challenges.
Name's the Same: In Masterchef UK: The Professionals, Steve and Claire are the winners of the 2009 and 2010 competitions respectively. Two of the finalists in the 2011 competition are Steve and Claire. There are also two Olis between the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Nice Hat: Ben Starr from US Season 2 was known to sport a collection of oddly patterned chef's hats.
Mike from season 1 and Bime from season 4 were always seen sporting a fedora.
Another Mike, this one from season 3, always sported a cowboy hat.
In Season 1, one of the chefs quit after making the top 50, due to the stress of the competition.
In Season 2, Sarah quit after making the top 24, due to feeling that her heart was no longer in the competition.
And just to make it a pattern, season 3's Paul withdrew due to "work commitments" having his spot taken in the top 24 by another contestant.
After making it to the top 14 in season 3, Adam resigned his position after ending up in a pressure test, saying he felt he lacked the commitment the others in the pressure test felt towards cooking.
After making it to the top 9, Mat was eliminated from season 3 after it was revealed he'd been breaking the rules by bringing a smartphone into the MasterChef kitchen.
In the 4th season of the US version, there was supposed to be a Top 20, but only 19 contestants start off, ten women and nine men. An unknown male contestant was seen being chosen alongside the other nineteen to make it into the MasterChef kitchen, but whether he dropped out or was disqualified before the Top 20 began competing is not yet known.
Not Quite Eliminated: On episode 14 of the third US season, one of the eliminated contestants, Josh (this text added to lengthen spoiler), earned their way back into the competition, first with a mystery box that the last eight eliminated contestants put together themselves, then in a head to head challenge against the other top two dish cooker in the Mystery Box.
One Steve Limit: Averted in season 4 of the Australian version, with contestants Julia Taylor and Julia Pike, the latter of which is referred to as "Jules" to avoid confusion.
Australia Season 5 had three Daniels in top 24: one went by Dan, one by Daniel and the other went by his last name (Kelty).
Oh Crap: Adriano Zumbo walking into the MasterChef kitchen with a covered dish is enough to scare any contestant. Particularly the V8 cake.
US season 4's Bime has this when he realizes he accidentally mixed up two ingredients during a citrus meringue pie and it was too late for him to start again.
Out of Focus: Season four of the US version often suffers from this, since increasing amounts of time are focused on the drama caused by Krissi. Contestants such as Beth or Savannah are eliminated with the audience hardly remembering their presence, and even contestants in the Top 9 like Bethy hardly receive any screen time.
Pet the Dog: As seen above in the Kick the Dog trope, Kathy went through a quite harsh process to end up eliminated despite not being the worst performer. However, after all this, Gordon Ramsay, having been impressed with her tenacity and how hard she fought to stay, offers her a job in his New York restaurant. This echoes back with when she was chosen last for a team challenge for a second time, where she told Ramsay that maybe he saw something in her that others didn't... and unfortunately, it's painfully averted after the show, when Kathy tweeted how she attended the first day (with a chef's jacket and all) to learn work at the restaurant just as Gordon promised, but when she arrived the second day, they dismissed her, telling her they'd "Call her when they needed her" and never giving her any actual explanation for why she was dismissed.
Also seen with Natasha in the episode where contestants' families came to visit them. Krissi's son was unable to make it due to tests and could only send a pre-recorded video to her. Natasha expresses sympathy for Krissi despite the two of them hating each other.
Product Placement: In the US series, this seems to be one of Graham Elliott's main duties. Not quite Once an Episode, he'll approach a contestant and they'll do a mini-commercial for the brand of knife or cookware being used. Ramsay and Bastianich don't seem to be on the hook for it, though.
The SA version would like to remind you that it's sponsored by "Robertsons — The Spice People" at least ten times an episode.
The fact that every celebrity chef's restaurant is featured when they're introduced said something in itself.
S3 of the US version would like you to know that all of the steaks in this episode can be purchased at Walmart. On the bright side of things, Graham seems to have been left off the hook for the mini-commercials.
S4 gets even more blatant with shilling for Walmart, with it being mentioned multiple times in every single episode, often along with how little the given ingredients would cost if bought at Walmart (for example, an elimination test that was based on two baskets of food: one that could be purchased for under $5 and the other for under $25 at Walmart, with both the store and the prices repeatedly mentioned).
Coles supplies all the fresh ingredients for Masterchef Australia. And pick up some Western Star butter...only at Coles!
In season 4 on the US series, Lynn Chyi is seen as one.
Reality Television: The examples not from Britain are examples of this. The British show is a lot older, so follows a more standard cookery contest format.
The Red Stapler: As it states on that page, the trope is now known as "The Masterchef Effect" in Australia thanks to Custard apples appearing on the show.
The Runner Up Takes It All: At least on the first season of the Australian show — Julie Goodwin released a book, and wrote a few columns in Women's Weekly (an Australian magazine), while runner-up Poh Ling Yeow has her own ongoing cooking TV show called Poh's Kitchen.
Running Gag: Krissi, from US season 4, who was on the losing team of every single team challenge, at least those that are teams of three or more people. She did perform well in the one single tag-team challenge they've had so far, but putting her with more than two people seemed to be a guaranteed loss for any team who had her.
Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: An interesting variant pops up in MasterChef Junior. The young participants, aged eight to thirteen, are capable of genuinely amazing culinary feats from sushi to beef wellington, but a significant number of them struggle with the task of baking and icing a cake — one of the few tasks one might normally expect someone that age to have some experience with.
Sassy Black Woman: US season 4's Sasha Foxx. Even Joe Bastianich's meanest stares did not faze her one bit. That didn't prevent her from being eliminated in the first Elimination Test.
Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: In the 2010 season of the UK version, the judges were faced with a heat where two of the three contestants performed brilliantly. Forced to choose which one went through to the quarter-final...they opted to let both of them through. It's happened a few times since.
Happened twice in the 2012 UK Professionals version. Not only did two chefs dodge an elimination in a heat as described above, but the same pair of chefs ended up winning the season together as well because the judges couldn't decide between them.
And occasionally reversed, including the spring 2013 UK series, when the judges decide to kick an extra contestant out if several don't perform well enough to earn a place.
Sharp-Dressed Man: Luca from Season 4 wore suits to both his Season 3 and Season 4 auditions and continues to wear them throughout the competition. He hardly ever wears anything more casual than a nice button-down, occasionally with a vest over it.
The double elimination of Brandon and Babalwa in the SA version, followed by Guy in the next episode.
Tracy from the second US season; despite being acknowledged by many of the other contestants as the most talented cook from that year and never having a single bad comment about any of her dishes, she got booted out about two-thirds of the way through the season after she made some comparatively minor mistakes in a pressure test. Since the judges offered to send her to culinary school and employ her at any of their restaurants, this has led to suspicions that either the judges thought she was over qualified for the largely publicity-based role that the winner gets and wanted to help her break into the culinary world for real, or that the producers just didn't like her.
Mike of the third US season. He had been in the middle throughout the whole competition, with that episode being his first time in the top three (for the first challenge) and the second time in the bottom (for the second challenge), having previously been in a bottom 4 but not having one of the worst dishes. Tanya's elimination in the same episode can be justified due to her having raw eggplant, raw flatbread and leaving a whole raw garlic clove in her dish, but Mike's is shocking when compared to David, who made a disaster of a dish that judge Joe Bastianich threw in the trash can, and also to Tali, who made a huge mess of his entire station and served a messy pizza caked in raw flour that Gordon Ramsay spat out after trying to taste, and somehow managed to evade being put in the bottom three (this despite having three previous appearances in the bottom two).
Monti, also from the third US season. She makes it all the way to the top 5, consistently putting up good dishes and surprising the judges with more skills than she let on, and had only been on two pressure tests, both from team challenges. Her very first time in the bottom for an individual challenge, and she is eliminated over Josh, who has been eliminated before, was brought back, and has since been in the bottom three a total of 3 times (in a row!) since returning. He also won the advantage in the Mystery Box and squandered it, landing him in the bottom 2, yet the judges still chose to keep him over the more consistent Monti.
Can also count for Mike and especially Stacey during the episode where several contestants were brought back for a chance to return to the competition. The two who moved on for a chance to return were Josh and Ryan who made, respectively, a chocolate mousse and pomegranate sauce with a quite unappealing presentation, and a simple pork chop dish. On the other hand, Mike made a chocolate flan that looked beautiful and was flavorful (also counting that making a good flan in one hour is a nigh impossible task) and Stacey also made great looking and tasty ravioli and even managed to make her own homemade pasta and ricotta cheese, something that astonished the judges, but despite these great dishes, both were passed over. Even season 2 contestant Ben Starr wrote in his blog that he felt Mike and Stacey got robbed.
Played with when Lynn was eliminated in US Season 4. Though practically every other contestant acted as though it was a Shocking Elimination, as many had considered him a frontrunner, their surprise seems rather ridiculous as he had clearly performed the worst in that particular elimination test, with Gordon even saying that his dish was the worst he had tasted in all four years of MasterChef.
Vern and then Rishi in Australia Season 5. Vern's came halfway through the series despite being a clear favourite to win, and then Rishi bombs out after getting to Top 4 and being acknowledged as the biggest competition for everyone remaining.
Small Name, Big Ego: Ryan and Tali from US season three, who would argue with the judges or insist that, even though all three judges had panned their food, they simply didn't understand the "genius" behind it. They maintained this haughty attitude towards the other contestants, insisting they they had superior talent even when they were clearly outperformed. Tali was more guilty of this, though, because Ryan at least admitted his molten lava chocolate cake was the worse of the two of them after the judges asked the person with the worst dish to step forward and remove their apron.
Krissi from US season four also keeps up the trend of arguing with the judges, as she continually defended a catfish dish that the judges had said was terrible and claimed the only reason they were criticizing her was because Joe didn't like her, never mind the fact that the guest judge, season 3 winner Christine Ha (who is known to have an excellent palate) also said that her dish was not good. She was saved from elimination that challenge, but not before Gordon told her point blank that she didn't have the talent to back up her attitude. This has not stopped her from continuing with this attitude, especially on team challenges. Once she was on the losing team of a team challenge, and the winning team got to choose who was safe from the pressure test. They chose Krissi because they all think that they could beat her later on, but she thinks it's because they want to invoke The Only One Allowed to Defeat You on "the best cook".
Something Only They Would Say: A variant in Australia season 2; the contestants, while blind tasting dishes made for them by the previously eliminated contestants, correctly identified that Jimmy had made one dish because his style of Indian curries was so unique and notable.
Spinoff Babies: The US version now has a Junior edition, with kids ranging from 8 to 13 years old. Gordon, Joe, and Graham are still the judges.
Springtime for Hitler: In the second US season, Adrien won a mystery box challenge, and got to select which chefs would work with which cuts of pork in the following challenge. He therefore took a relatively easy cut for himself, and assigned Christian and Ben (the other two of the top three in the mystery box challenge) the hardest two cuts. When the chefs were done cooking, Christian and Ben's dishes really impressed the judges (Joe even told Adrian that his plan to get Christian eliminated had backfired), while Adrien's dish was felt to be unspectacular. On top of all that, Alejandra, who had gotten the pork loin and whom everyone expected to ace the challenge, served up raw pork and duly got kicked out of the competition.
Happened again in the third season. Ryan won a mystery box challenge, and got to choose which chefs cooked with fresh crab, and which ones cooked with canned. He chose Christine to cook with fresh crab, believing her to be a threat, and therefore giving her something she was unfamiliar with, and gave Monti canned crab, because he wanted her to get eliminated due to a personal dislike of her. On the other hand, he gave Tali, his best friend in the house, fresh crab, believing he would knock it out of the park. Monti was complimented for her crazy idea (Scotch egg with canned crab) actually working, and Christine not only survived, but made the best dish out of all of the chefs. Tali? Bottom two for the second invention test (out of two), and barely surviving thanks to his incredibly poor use of the crab.
Once more in the third season, and again with seafood. Felix had to assign nine different fish species to the contestants — she gave Christine, David, and Tali easy ones (salmon, yellowfin tuna, and arctic char respectively; in the third case, she reckoned, correctly, that he would screw it up), while Frank, Becky and Monti, her greatest competition, received hard ones that they had never seen before (catfish, rockfish, and John Dory). The latter were all acclaimed (Frank took first while Monti received second), while the former ended up all in the bottom three with Tali going home.
It would probably be easier to count the times the Mystery Box winners don't shoot themselves in the foot with their "advantage."
Stock Yuck: The Mystery Box challenge for Junior. The judges took food from every category listed on the trope page, put them in boxes, and told the contestants to make something awesome with them.
Incidentally, that song actually made the UK Top 40.
Tiny Tyrannical Girl: Several of the girls in MasterChef Junior, but Sarah, at only 9, probably fits best, especially when she yells at Gavin to "Whip it like a man!" during the whipped cream challenge.
Took a Level in Badass: Luca from US season 4. After failing to enter the competition in season 3, he also began to struggle during the top 13, constantly hanging out in the middle of the pack or lower... until the final 8, where he launched into a nearly perfect streak of being in the top 3 for any given episode, wasn't put up for elimination again until the final 3, and ended up winning it all.
Viewers Are Goldfish: Repeats almost exactly what happened in the previous 20 seconds after every commercial break, leading to an episode that counted down the seconds remaining for the Pressure Test twice. The British version does this, at points where commercials would be.
Warmup Boss: The preliminaries of the US and Australian versions of Junior seem to act as this, as the kids are grouped by the food category they do best in.
We Hardly Knew Ye: Samantha, from US season 3. Out of any contestant of the first three seasons (and now including the fourth season), she was the one seen the least out of them all. We never saw her audition, we never saw her moving along, and the first time we got to hear her actually talk was during the very first Mystery Box challenge, where she was eliminated.
Though not to the extent of Samantha, some contestants will receive hardly any screentime even if they don't get eliminated that quickly, such as season 1's Tony, season 2's Erryn and several season 4 contestants.
MasterChef Junior featured double eliminations in every episode except the finale which meant that some of the children barely got any screen time outside of the first episode.
What the Hell, Player?: The judges did this to Sharone and Whitney in the penultimate episode of the first US season, after the former served up a dish made up of fish livers, while the latter used mostly canned ingredients for her dish, figuring the food critics they were serving to wouldn't know the difference. Gordon openly said that he considered the two to be the best cooks in the competition, and couldn't believe that one of them was now going to be eliminated before the final.
One chef on the UK edition (Masterchef: Professionals) bringing forward a dish that consisted of Quail and Chocolate cake. Facepalms all round.
In the Australian version, one of the contestants made toffee using the "completely wrong way", at least according to the judges, putting the sugar on foil and using a blow torchnote From a technical standpoint, this isn't toffee at all, it's molten-and-re-crystalized sugar.. But it worked, and she was saved from elimination.