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Series: The X Factor

A British singing competition that has run annually from 2004. It is the Spiritual Successor to Pop Idol, and came about because producer/presenter Simon Cowell wanted an intellectual property that he owned the television rights to.

It's basically the same as Pop Idol (and American Idol) except the contestants are split into categories. The categories originally consisted of 16-24 year olds, Over 25's and Groups. However with the addition of a fourth judge in Series 4 (2007), The 16-24 catergory was split into boys aged 16-24 (16-27 in 2010) and girls aged 16-24 (16-27 in 2010/2) with the Over 25's (Over 28's in 2010/2) and the Groups categories remaining the same to give four categories in total. After the initial round of frankly embarrassing auditions, each Judge is randomly assigned a category and has to coach his or her group up until the weekly live shows, which enters a Final Battle where the losers are voted off by telephone polls until only one remains. After that, the winners pump out one guaranteed hit single (usually that year's Christmas Number One)- because the show is literally a two-month advertisement for their single - before becoming an answer in a pub quiz. It is worth noting, though, that five of the show's ten winners (notably Leona Lewis and Little Mix, who are the only successful contestants off of their respective series; Alexandra Burke, Shayne Ward and James Arthur have done quite well, but didn't overshadow the other contestants the way the first two did.) have actually achieved continued success since their debut single. There have been other cases where contestants who didn't win have gone on to be arguably more successful than the winners of their series (the most significant example being One Direction; although JLS, Olly Murs, and Cher Lloyd have also been quite successful). Australia also has the super successful Reece Mastin, Samantha Jade, Dami Im and Taylor Henderson.

It was probably the first show, before The Voice, in this genre to glamorise and promote the judges over the actual singers and when it comes to the final rounds; the contest is promoted more as "Which judge('s group) will win?" than "Which singer will win?", despite this fact many winners world wide have gone onto be major successes.

Already having been exported to numerous countries, an American version started in 2011. Tropes for the American series follow the British series.

Not to be confused with X-Factor, one of Marvel's X-Men spinoffs. Compare to Britain's Got Talent.

Now with a character page, which could use some building for the UK and USA versions of the show, especially.

The judges are:

  • Simon Cowell himself (2004-2010, 2014)
  • Louis Walsh (2004-present); an Irish Cloud Cuckoo Lander with a tendency to put forward joke acts. His bickering with the other judges is a source of much of the show's humour. May or may not be Obfuscating Stupidity
  • Sharon Osbourne (2004-2007; 2013). Music producer and agent, also known as the wife of Ozzy Osbourne. The only judge prior to the near-total overhaul of the panel in 2011 never to have a winning act. Returned to the panel as Tulisa's replacement for the 2013 series, claiming to have signed a contract for a one-season deal and finally scooping up a winning act.
  • Dannii Minogue (2007-2010). The younger sister of Kylie Minogue, and like her a successful former actress and singer.
    • Minogue was absent for the 2010 auditions and temporarily replaced by a series of "guest judges" including Geri Halliwell, Katy Perry, Natalie Imbruglia, Pixie Lott and Nichole Scherzinger.
  • Brian Friedman (2007); showed up for two episodes as a replacement for Louis Walsh. Demoted back to his choreography position after Louis was bought back, though continued to appear nearly Once an Episode in that role. Moved along with Simon Cowell to the US version in 2011, where he has a somewhat less visible role, though he did appear in the first few live shows of the 2012 series, before the corresponding US season's live shows began.
  • Cheryl Cole (2008-2010, 2014); member of the group Girls Aloud, winner of Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. At first seems the least cruel of the judges but is a master of the Stealth Insult.
  • Gary Barlow (2011-2013); member of the group Take That.
  • Kelly Rowland (2011); Former member of Destiny's Child, who's since carved out a niche for herself aside from simply being known as Beyoncé's bandmate once upon a time.
  • Tulisa Contostavlos (2011-2012); member of the group N-Dubz
  • Nicole Scherzinger (2010 as guest judge; 2012-2013); former member of the group Pussycat Dolls. First showed up during an incredibly popular spell as a guest judge in 2010. While her stint on the US version of the show didn't go down so well, she was still popular enough in the UK that she was invited back as a full-time judge in 2012.
    • Due to the abrupt nature of Kelly Rowland's departure and a failed attempt to bring back Dannii Minogue, the 2012 series began without a permanent fourth judge in place. Geri Halliwell, 2006 winner Leona Lewis, Rita Ora, Mel B, Anastacia, and Scherzinger herself sat in the vacant judging seat until she was hired permanently for the role.
  • Mel B (2012 as guest judge, 2014); formerly known as Scary Spice in the Spice Girls. She's no stranger to judging talent competitions, either, having previously appeared on America's Got Talent, the Australian The X Factor and guest judging the UK version before Nicole Scherzinger was officially hired in 2012.

Depending on the extent to which you view reality as subjective, the show is either an important yearly television tradition or an ever-growing armpit stain on the shirt of British culture.

Winners, their categories and their mentors:
  • Season 1 (2004): Steve Brookstein, Over 25's, Simon Cowell
  • Season 2 (2005): Shayne Ward, 16-24's, Louis Walsh
  • Season 3 (2006): Leona Lewis, 16-24's, Simon Cowell
  • Season 4 (2007): Leon Jackson, Boys, Dannii Minogue
  • Season 5 (2008): Alexandra Burke, Girls, Cheryl Cole
  • Season 6 (2009): Joe McElderry, Boys, Cheryl Cole
  • Season 7 (2010): Matt Cardle, Boys, Dannii Minogue
  • Season 8 (2011): Little Mix, Groups, Tulisa Contostavlos
  • Season 9 (2012): James Arthur, Boys, Nicole Scherzinger
  • Season 10 (2013): Sam Bailey, Over 25's, Sharon Osbourne

The show's most successful act is season 7's third-placed boy band One Direction, with Season 3 winner Leona Lewis not far behind. Some other notable finalists from this version of show include: Alexandra Burke, JLS, Olly Murs, Jedward, Diana Vickers, Cher Lloyd and Little Mix.

     British version 

This series contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming / It Is Pronounced Tro PAY:
    • Louis, it's pronounced "Vagner", not "Wagner"!
    • It's "wei-shell" for Katie Waissel, not "wais-sell"
    • "Em-elia Light-ley", not "Am-ee-leah li-ll-eeh"!
  • The Ace: Nicole Scherzinger's brief turn as a guest judge had fans clamouring for her to replace Dannii or Cheryl — or even for a fifth judging category to be created — ever since the first episode she appeared in. She did eventually become a judge, albeit of the US version rather than the UK one. Unfortunately the US audiences weren't as enamoured with her as their UK counterparts. (See Face-Heel Turn below.)
  • Adorkable: Abi Alton from season 10 qualifies.
  • Aesop Amnesia
  • An Aesop
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: "Tulisha!"
  • Auto-Tune: A component of Manipulative Editing revealed early on in the 2010 series, allegedly used to make bad singers sound worse (for comical purposes) and to make good contestants sound better.
    • Simon Cowell, when he learned that the editing team used Autotune to make acts sound better or worse, told them off and ordered them to remove any Autotune from any future episodes.
  • Boring Invincible Hero: Leona Lewis and Matt Cardle both topped the public vote every single week bar one (the first in Matt's case, and the second in Leona's) during their winning appearances on the show.
    • Rebecca Ferguson from Matt's year was effectively a Boring Invincible Runner-Up, having finished in second place every week bar one (where she got pipped by Katie Waissel of all people) from the third week onwards.
    • Sam Bailey, Winner of Season 10. Whilst she did not dominate the vote as resoundingly as Matt or Leona (Runner-up Nicholas Mcdonald led the voting a few times), few doubted that she would win. Even from her audition, she was considered the favorite. In bootcamp, the Judges made private predictions of who they though the winner would be - all four said it would be Sam
    • This also applies to the winner's song, released the week after the contest is over (And coincidentally, the week before the final chart before Christmas). Without fail, it takes the Christmas number one each year with little effort; this was subverted in 2009, when a campaign to get Killing In The Name by Rage Against the Machine to number one instead meant that for the first time in half a decade, the UK's Christmas number one was not by the year's X-Factor winner. Normal service was resumed the following year when Matt Cardle's winners' song became the Christmas number one, but the 2011 and 2012 finals took place earlier than all the previous ones, meaning that the winner's single could fizzle out before Christmas.
  • But Not Too Black: Predictably, this accusation was thrown at Leona Lewis a lot when she won the show, even though it happens to be a Berserk Button of hers. More surprisingly however, it was also thrown at Alexandra Burke and JLS when they were the final two in 2008, the idea apparently being that viewers really voted for their judges (Cheryl Cole and Louis Walsh respectively) and that their presence in the final didn't really prove anything. At least one prominent black UK academic went on record in 2011 as saying that he would only consider a Kelly Rowland/Misha B victory as proof the the British public can truly accept black musicians.
    • Leigh-Anne from Little Mix won that year.
  • Butt Monkey: Louis Walsh seems to get it really bad from both the other judges and the auditionees, to the extent that some failed auditionees have physically attacked him when he voted not to let them through, despite his rejections never being anywhere near as nasty as Simon's. Moreover, he usually gets the groups who, with the notable exception of JLS, usually turn out to be by far the weakest contestants.
  • Camp Gay: Choreographer Brian Friedman, 2010 finalists Diva Fever (try watching their performance of Boney M's ''Sunny'' and seeing how many stereotypes they managed to shoehorn in), 2011 finalist Johnny Robinson, and 2012 finalist Rylan Clark.
    • 2011 contestants, Kendro were...well, look at the image on the Camp Gay page, they could pass for that...
  • Camp Straight: Olly Murs, when he was a contestant, clearly loves dancing. As a presenter on the Xtra Factor, he enjoyed flirting with the female contestants and his female co-presenter.
    • Simon Cowell. Oh come on, can you really admit you thought he was straight the first time you saw him? No denying that he is a first class womaniser of course.
  • Cash Cow Franchise
  • Casting Gag: Or, rather, guest performer gag. Amber Riley auditioned for American Idol and was rejected by the judges (including Simon), and ended up on Glee instead. And then the Glee cast, including Amber, performed on the semi-finals results show of series 8. Amber sang her big solo right in Simon's face.
  • Celebrity Edition: Battle of the Stars in 2005. It's a series Simon wasn't particularly keen on.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Some of the acts fit this trope perfectly.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Louis, Sharon and Nicole are among the craziest of the judges.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The 2006 final ended up being one of these. Even the judges took the rare step of admitting early on in the final that Ray Quinn had absolutely no chance of beating Leona Lewis, and that all he could do was try and impress any record labels that might want to sign him up after the final. Although the media's prediction that Lewis would literally get 100% of the votes didn't come true (she got 62% of the votes; still a very solid win), there was never any real doubt who the winner would be.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Simon Cowell and his replacement, Gary Barlow.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Diana Vickers and Janet Devlin from series 5 and 8 respectively have the tendency to perform barefoot.
  • Downer Ending: Things rarely ever end well for the contestants.
  • Dramatic Pause
  • Dull Surprise: James Arthur's 2012 victory has to be one of the most low-key victory celebrations in the history of the show.
  • Epic Fail: The infamous Leeds auditions in 2006, where a grand total of zero people were put through to Boot Camp. This led Simon Cowell to brand Yorkshire "a musical wasteland" and deciding never to hold an audition for one of his talent shows in that part of the country again. At ITV's insistence, they held auditions in the nearby city of Sheffield the following year — and ended up putting two people through to Boot Camp, where they both crashed out in the first round. After that, Yorkshire is now firmly a no-go zone for the show (and Britain's Got Talent).
  • Every Year They Fizzle Out: Despite being constantly referred to as the "head judge" while he was on the show and being probably the most well-respected member of the 2011—2013 panel, Gary Barlow never had a winning act, and in fact only even had one act (Marcus Collins) who even got to the final two.
  • Eye Beam: Christopher Maloney's performance of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in 2012 which had a creepy backdrop of his face grinning, shooting lasers out of his eyes, which even the judges picked up on.
  • Fag Hag: Sharon Osbourne
  • Filler
  • Funny Foreigner: Wagner and Goldie Cheung are among the more notable examples of this trope.
  • Genre Savvy: Goldie dropped out just before the 2011 live shows, after realising she was the token novelty act and had no chance of actually winning.
    • Matt Cardle was savvy enough to play up his experience as a singer in indie rock bands and accompany himself on his guitar (to establish actual credibility as a musician beyond being a contestant in a singing competition), which appealed to a lot of viewers (although nothing was going to save him when he covered a Biffy Clyro song for his winner's debut single and changed the title).
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Simon Cowell literally did this in the 2009 auditions. After the group CASYR (Care And Support Your Relatives) turned in a particularly awful performance, Cowell suggested that Caring Relatives Are Problematic would be a more appropriate name for the group.
    • Harry from One Direction presumably thought he was doing this in the 2010 final, when he whispered to newly-crowned winner Matt Cardle something that appeared to reference the number of sexually-available young women Matt was going to be presented with now. He wasn't mic-ed up, so presumably thought he was safe - but didn't consider the lip-reading members of the audience.
  • Go Karting with Bowser: Cher Lloyd does this with Cheryl Cole. Yet no other contestant did this. Hell, she even has Cheryl's mobile number/cellphone number - which again, no other contestant has. This has caused a lot of controversy in the show, making Cheryl into a hate figure, and accusations that she is a Magnificent Bastard (if there are any other female ones, it'd be surprising). Ironically enough, neither are enemies, yet it fits the trope.
    • However, since ending her season, Cher has claimed that she hasn't had much contact with Cheryl.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Cheryl Cole is considered by many sources to be among the sexiest women on Earth.
    • New judge Kelly Rowland is quite the looker herself. In one of the audition episodes, there was even a montage of male contestants fawning over her!
  • He's Back: There are usually several returning contestants each year. They tend to fall into three categories; firstly there are the ones who narrowly miss out at Boot Camp or the Judges' Houses, and decide to try again. Secondly, those who show potential at their first audition, but don't get through due to a lack of confidence or a poor song choice. And thirdly, the delusional morons who can't sing at all, yet keep auditioning in the vain hope that the judges will suddenly have a change of heart and put them through.
    • Attempted, but failed with Dannii Minogue in 2012. Cowell invited her back after Kelly Rowland bailed out only a few weeks before auditions started, but due to Minogue being reluctant to disrupt her young son's upbringing (and supposedly due to her being peeved that Cowell had let slip that he briefly had a secret love affair with her) she demanded the head judge's role and more than the combined pay of Barlow, Walsh and Contostavlos in order to return. She didn't get it, leading to another round of guest judges that year.
  • Hopeless Auditionees
  • Is It Always Like This?: A frequent question from the "next generation" judges to Louis Walsh on the more outlandish contestents during the auditions phase.
  • Internet Counterattack: Notably, the aforementioned "Rage Against the Machine for Christmas Number One" Campaign, an attempt to bring the band's "Killing in the Name" to the Christmas #1 spot, normally dominated by the latest X-Factor winner. Remarkably, the campaign succeeded, making it the very first song in half a decade to take the spot that wasn't an X-Factor winner.
    • There have also been attempts to get a "joke" act (such as Jedward in 2009, and Wagner in 2010) to win the show, in the hope of destroying its credibility with viewers. None of these efforts have been successful as yet, however, and at most have just kept those acts in a few weeks longer than they would otherwise have lasted.
  • Large Ham / Large Ham Announcer: Played Up to Eleven with "Voiceover Man" Peter Dickson. IT'S TIME! TO FACE! THE MUSIC!"
  • Limit Break: In a lot of cases, but notably Katie Waissel, some contestants perform at their best when up for elimination.
  • Long Speech Tea Time: Happened frequently during Geri Halliwell's temporary stint as a judge in 2010, including once instance where she spent several minutes blabbing on about her own career, rather than giving feedback to the hopefuls.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Simon's choice of song for One Direction during US Week - "Kids in America" by Kim Wilde. He was promptly called on it by Louis, who pointed out that the boys were supposed to be singing a song by an American artist, not with the word "America" in the title & chorus, despite Simon's assertment that meant it counted.
    • Tulisa's choice of song for Little Mix (Then titled Rhythmix) for Rock Week - A mashup of "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha and "Push It" by Salt N Peppa. She was called out on it, where she promptly pointed out that it was "Rock Week" and not "Rock Song Week".
    • Louis manipulated the rules during one season's Queen-themed week to allow Jedward to perform 'Ice Ice Baby' by Vanilla Ice, because it featured samples from 'Under Pressure', but largely because the duo had generally displayed a stunning inability to sing.
  • Manipulative Editing / Glurge: a BBC reporter went to an audition, and subsequently described how the auditionees are repeatedly instructed to scream and dance for the cameras, and are even given their "homemade" signs to wave around. Hearing sad violin music is a practical guarantee that the person on screen will be successful.
  • The Mean Brit: Need we say? Averted in the case of Louis Walsh... although this is because of the fact that he's Irish, rather than him being especially nice.
    • With Simon's departure for the U.S., Gary Barlow has succeeded him as the Mean Brit for Series 8.
    • "Scary Spice" Mel B plays this trope in the Australian version. Her guest judge stint in Series 9 of the British version (which included telling an octogenarian he bored her to sleep) prompted "What the Hell?" reactions from Gary, Louis, Tulisa and the audience.
  • Misblamed: Arguably, Cheryl, over the whole Gamu Nhengu mess. While Cheryl picked up a lot of criticism for not putting her through to the live shows, it later turned out that Gamu wouldn't have been able to appear anyway, since she didn't have a visa that would have allowed her to stay in the UK during the live shows. Whether Cheryl really has been wrongly blamed for all of this depends on whether she (and/or the producers) knew this during the filming of the judges' houses.
    • However, this is sort of justified. Gamu was going to be deported to Zimbabwe, where there was going to be a significantly high chance she and her relatives would be killed by Mugabe's regime (Luckily, she managed to successfully appeal her deportation) because she was on the show.
    • Also the two acts that many blame for making it through in Gamu's place, namely Cher Lloyd and Katie Waissel. Leaving aside the fact that they didn't force Cheryl to put them through, no-one seems to have considered the possibility that it was Cheryl's third act, Rebecca Ferguson that made it through in place of Gamu.
    • Although, the problem people have with Cher Lloyd and Katie Waissel getting through to the live shows is more to do with the fact that neither of them actually sang at the judges house. Katie broke down crying and Cher had a sore throat, yet both of the got through over Gamu who gave a very good performance. People don't mind Rebecca getting through because she actually gave a full performance.
      • Cher at least deserved the benefit of the doubt since she had been one of the better singers at the initial auditions and Boot Camp. Katie on the other hand forgot her words at her initial audition, was unspectacular at Boot Camp, and forgot her words again at the judge's house.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: A True Blood fansite used Janet Devlin's picture when they meant to use Deborah Ann Woll's - yes, they do look similar, but are not that similar!!
  • Ms. Fanservice: Cheryl Cole or Danni Minogue. Take your pick.
    • Girl band Hope may be the show's best example. To compensate for their lack of vocal ability their stylists put them in really skimpy outfits, and one of their routines saw them giving Simon Cowell a lapdance. For some reason Simon (who also happened to be their mentor) chose to save them from elimination when two of his groups landed in the bottom two early on.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Cheryl Cole falling ill with malaria was featured in just about every trailer for the 2010 series. It never appeared or even got anything more than the most cursory mention in the series itself.
  • Non-Gameplay Elimination: Emily Nakanda was thrown out of the 2007 series after it was revealed that not only had she been involved in gang violence as recently as the month before her first audition, she had actually filmed herself in the act and uploaded the footage to YouTube.
    • Frankie Cocozza from the 2011 series became the second person to be thrown out after breaking one of the "golden rules". It is rumoured that the rule was broken when Frankie openly talked to production staff about taking cocaine.
    • Lucy Spraggan from 2012 become the third victim of those trope, although unlike Emily and Frankie, she wasn't evicted from the competition, she quit due to her falling health.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Alternate Character Interpretation of Louis Walsh.
    • Amelia Lily, as well.
  • One Mario Limit: Defied by Cher and Wagner. On the judges side, Tulisa is the sole enforcer of this trope.
  • Product Placement: Averted for the first eight series as it was illegal in the UK at the time. However from 2008, there was almost constant appearances of Bowers & Wilkins audio equipment. No, they are not endorsing the show, so this might be an attempt at Getting Crap Past the Radar.
    • Played straight from 2012 with the constant appearances of Samsung tablets.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "EVERY! SINGLE! THING! THE! ANNOUNCER! SAAAAAAAAYS!!!"
  • Recycled Set: The Cowell-produced "That Dog Can Dance" reality show shown during Christmas 2012 uses the X Factor set, albeit badly disguised.
  • Revolving Door Band: The Risk in 2011. The groups was originally formed with five soloists (Andy, Ashley, Derry, Marlon and Mitchell) at Boot Camp, much like any previous series. However, at Judges' House, Tulisa dropped Marlon and Mitchell from the group and replaced them with Charlie from eliminated group The Keys. By Week 3 of the Live Shows, Ashley quit and was replaced by another member of an eliminated group, this time being Ashford from Nu Vibe. Andy and Derry remain the only remaining original members. They were eliminated before any more changes could occur.
  • Rules Lawyer: Louis Walsh seems to have become one of these in the 2009 series.
    • He employed this to brilliant effect during that year's auditions, though. After one auditionee gave a rather... unusual rendition of "Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey, Simon went to call a judge's vote immediately, but Louis insisted that the auditionee be given the chance to perform another song (each person that auditions is allowed two attempts; one without a backing track, and one with). What followed was a truly mind-bending version of another Mariah Carey song - this time "Hero" - that had the audience singing along and the judges breaking down with hysterical laughter.
  • The Runner Up Takes It All: Per series:
    • Series 1: Played straight. The winner, Steve Brookstein's relationship with Simon Cowell infamously crashed and burned, resulting in him being released from his contact after just a few months. Runners-up G4, while not massively successful by any means, stayed together for a few years and enjoyed relatively decent sales of their songs.
    • Series 2: Averted. Shayne Ward went on to have a pretty successful career, though it did peter out as the decade drew to a close. Runner-up Andy Abraham actually did almost as well as Shayne to begin with, but his career was completely tanked by his awful performance in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. Fifth-placed Chico Slimani also went on to become a moderately well-known media personality, and his career received a brief revival following his 2012 appearance on Dancing on Ice.
    • Series 3: Averted, big time. Leona Lewis became an international superstar, while runner-up Ray Quinn only got a record deal that lasted barely six months and only ever released one album. To his credit though, since around 2011 Ray has begun enjoying some success in West End musicals. Lewis was the show's most successful act until One Direction passed her number of records sold worldwide in 2013, though she still has more record sales in the UK for the time being, and is probably still the show's most critically acclaimed act.
    • Series 4: Technically averted, because neither winner Leon Jackson nor runner-up Rhydian Roberts enjoyed a huge amount of success after the show ended, nor did anyone else from this series.
    • Series 5: Averted; both winner Alexandra Burke and runners-up JLS enjoyed huge success, and picking which of the two has done better to date would be very difficult. (JLS have a slight lead in terms of record sold and awards won, but split up in 2013, while Alexandra is carrying on with her career- although on an independent label after her second album fared disastrously) Some acts from the series (particularly Ruth Lorenzo, who would follow Jedward's lead in placing in the top 10 at Eurovision with a non-uk country ahead of the UK- placing 10th with Spain and having intense admiration from other acts) have something of a following, though not to anywhere near the same extent as the final two.
    • Series 6: Played straight, though a lot of that's because of the huge number of acts from this series who went onto further success. Winner Joe McElderry's career initially faltered, though he soon picked himself up and enjoyed great success as a more operatic singer. Runner-up Olly Murs enjoyed more immediate success, which led to him eventually becoming a TV presenter, as did third-placed Stacey Solomon. However, all of these have been arguably trumped by sixth-placed Jedward, who may be divisive at best, but are likely the most famous act from this particular series. By now, Murs is definitely the series' most successful act.
    • Series 7: Played straight. Winner Matt Cardle suffered a troubled relationship with Simon Cowell, and while his career didn't tank anywhere near as badly as Steve Brookstein, he still didn't live up to the utter domination he had over the contest. On the other hand, second-placed Rebecca Ferguson has been reasonably successful, but not as much as fourth-placed Cher Lloyd. But their success is nothing compared to third-placed One Direction, who skyrocketed to international superstardom, dethroned Justin Bieber as the number-one teenage obsession and became a major catalyst in his declining popularity, denied a rival boy band from having a similar level of popularity, and are far and away the show's most successful act, ever.
    • Series 8: Averted. Winners Little Mix have enjoyed reasonable success, while runner-up Marcus Collins seemingly dropped off the face of the earth.
    • Series 9: Averted for now, as winner James Arthur and runner-up Jahmene Douglas have been about as successful as each other. Jahmene had a number 1 album, whilst James has been reasonably successful across Europe and Australia. However, James has been involved in several controversies regarding twitter spats, rap battles and text messages- to the point a fan who bought his successful album demanded a refund from iTunes, and a petition was set up to ban him from the show. The contestant who's probably the most well-known overall from this season is fifth-placed Rylan Clark, although that's more as a general media personality rather than as a singer.
      • Ella Henderson- who placed 6th- waited 19 months to release a single- and it than sauntered towards number one on iTunes beating the second place by 2 sales to 1. It became the fastest seller by a British act at that point of the year.
    • Series 10: Remains to be seen. Sam Bailey's mostly covers album aptly released for Mother's Day topped the charts, but she seems like a conforming version of Steve Brookstein, and no one from the series has dominated yet.
    • As a series: Played straight: Although Leona Lewis was considered the show's most successful act, One Direction's international success has dwarfed the short-lived popularity of Lewis. This all came to full circle in 2013, because when the 10th anniversary finale special aired for the show, it was One Direction, not Leona Lewis, who were being promoted as the show's biggest success story.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Frankie Cocozza, which eventually led this his producer-imposed ousting from the show.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Louis first pulled this trope in 2005 after getting humiliated by Sharon and Simon, which then he supposedly quit the show. He came back the following week prompting the public to call it a publicity stunt.
    • Sharon stormed out of the first live show of the 2007 series after two of her acts finished in the bottom two, which she blamed on the show being moved forward by quarter of an hour in the schedules. While she came back for the rest of the series due to her contract obligating her to do so, after that incident she made her mind up that she wasn't going to come back for 2008. It seems that she's since gotten over the incident, and made a return as judge for the 2013 series.
    • Upon his act Carolynne Poole being eliminated over Camp Gay Rylan Clark in the 2012 series, Gary got up from his seat and actually left the studio for a little bit.
  • Serious Business: Cheryl Cole received death threats when she didn't put Gamu Nhengu in the final 12 in 2010.
    • Same applies to the campaigns for getting Rage Against the Machine to Christmas Number 1 or for Wagner to win in 2010. Expect die hard fans of the show to bitterly complain and moan online about how people are manipulating the results.
  • Shocking Elimination:
    • The show's first-ever elimination was an example of this — Roberta Howett was widely considered one of the better singers from the first series, but finished in the bottom two and was voted out that week.
    • Rachel Adedeji was the second-favourite (behind only Danyl Johnson) to win the 2009 series, but finished in the bottom two three times in the first four live shows, being finally eliminated on the third occasion. It's even more shocking when you consider that in the week when she didn't finish in the bottom two, she topped the public vote by a huge margin.
    • Arguably Lucie Jones the following week as well. Admittedly she had finished rock bottom in the public vote, but she was facing John and Edward, who many expected Simon to eliminate. Instead he decided to send it to deadlock, which resulted in Lucie's elimination.
    • No-one expected Rhydian to be beaten by Leon in 2007.
    • Also Aiden Grimshaw when he was in the bottom two with Katie Waissel. It was his first time in the bottom two and her fourth. It went to deadlock and Aiden went out. This one's perhaps less shocking in retrospect however, as many considered him to be one of the front-runners for most of the time he was on the show, but in actual fact the voting figures proved he was never ranked higher than 5th at any point in the contest.
    • One Direction counts as one from a retroactive standpoint.
    • The Risk's elimination left many surprised, as there's almost always a boyband who makes it far in the competition.
    • Also from 2011, Craig Colton. He was a firm favorite to win right from his audition and made it all the way to the live shows where all of his performances were praised by the judges but one mediocre performance of the theme from Licence to Kill in week 7 and he was out. However, just like Aiden he was a front-runner but when the voting figures were released, they revealed that he never ranked higher than 3rd.
    • And again from 2011, Janet Devlin, while Craig was a favourite, Janet was the favourite. She had it all; the looks, the voice, the likeablity and if you were a teenage male, it was practically illegal not to have a crush on her. She was booked to win right from her audition and needless to say, soared through bootcamp and Judge's houses, making it to the live shows. She was fine at the start but quite a few eyebrows were raised in Week 3 (Rock Week) as she performed a low-key ballad version of "Sweet Child O' Mine" (Although she would later state that this was her favourite performance during her time on the show). More eyebrows were raised in Week 4 (Halloween Week) as she performed a frankly bizarre rendition of "Every Breath You Take" and the following week she forgot the words to "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5 in the middle of the song in a performance that she herself admits was a disaster. Weeks 6 & 7 were a return to form but she forgot her words again in Week 8 and that ultimately caused her to be eliminated that week. When the voting figures were released, it was revealed that she topped the public vote for the first five weeks which included her performances of "Sweet Child O' Mine","Every Breath You Take" and "I Want You Back" and even when she lost the top spot, she never fell farther than 4th.
    • In 2012, Ella Henderson who had been a frontrunner from the beginning because of her powerful voice and young age got eliminated in favor of another favorite, James Arthur while "joke act" Rylan and cheesy Christopher Maloney got voted to safety, surprising many.
      • Arguably popular group District 3 in that series as well, but the previous episode, but when they went up against the other Boy Band Union J after all of the judges had mentioned a "battle of the boybands" splitting the vote, you had to think something was up.
  • Small Annoying Creature: All the judges at times.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Incredibly common among the first round of Hopeless Auditionees. One of the great joys of the early episodes of a season is watching Simon demolish such people.
  • Straight Gay: Louis Walsh, 2009 winner Joe McElderry, and 2011 contestants Marcus Collins and Craig Colton.
    • Marcus probably isn't the best example of this trope, but he's decidedly less camp than Kendro and Johnny Robinson.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The introduction of the "next generation" of judges has led to quite a number of Simon/Gary and Cheryl/Tulisa comparisons, with Dannii/Kelly (or alternatively, Nicole Scherzinger/Kelly) not that far away.
  • Take That: Quite literally in 2012 when Gary was clearly embarrassed by Rylan's Camp Gay performances. Rylan' mentor, Nicole, in reply mentioned the Ho Yay heavy music video for "Do What U Like" by Take That.
  • Talent Show
  • Teens Are Monsters: The group "Triple Trouble" attempted to subvert this trope in the 2009 series by showing that teens aren't all bad. Unfortunately they very much played it straight, by making death threats to Simon Cowell after he scorned their butchered version of the Rihanna song "Umbrella," earning them the distinction of being the first act to actually be booed off the stage by the new audience.
    • "Ablisa" in the 2010 series were almost as bad. Their performance was predictably terrible, and when guest judge Natalie Imbruglia criticised them, one of the two girls in the group, Lisa, snottily asked her who she was. Imbruglia just laughed off the remark, but the other girl, Abbey (who until that point had been by far the saner of the two) didn't react so kindly, and actually punched Lisa in the face before storming off the stage. Lisa followed and gave the finger to the judges and audience as she left. The two had to be separated by guards backstage, and Simon told the floor manager to relay that "It's four "No"s, by the way."
    • The lead singer of Triple Trouble actually returned in the 2011 auditions, intending to put in a better performance and make up for his idiotic behaviour two years previously, claiming he had fully matured and had actually learned how to sing. The second he opened his mouth it was clear that he still couldn't sing and was soon stopped by the judges. The instant that happened he marched up to Tulisa and interrogated her over why she had stopped the music, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Gary Barlow was the one who actually stopped it. Eventually, security had to be called to pull him away, after which the judges called him out on his attitude (Gary even told him that he "had matured like a bad curry") and told him, that in their opinion, he was talentless. He responded with "That's all fine and good, now let me give you my opinion". What followed was him verbally assaulting Tulisa, calling her "a scumbag", "a little bitch" and comparing her unfavourably to Cheryl Cole and ultimately concluded with him being escorted away by security while flipping off the judges. Louis deemed him "completely talentless" and after he went on a rant backstage, Dermot snapped at him to watch his mouth before he finally left the building. Also, this gave him the unusual distinction of being the first and fourth act to get booed off the stage (the second being the aforementioned Ablisa, and the third being a Michael Jackson impersonator — who proceeded to make his own return a couple of episodes later, where he unsurprisingly became the fifth act to get booed off).
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Kelly eliminated Amelia Lily, one of her own acts, in the first round of the '11 live shows when each judge was required to do so. Amelia was later brought back into the competition after Frankie Cocozza's eviction by public vote. Needless to say, relationships between the two weren't that cordial.
  • They Plotted a Perfectly Good Waste: This trope may explain how Jedward and Wagner made it through to the live shows. Both were put through by Louis Walsh, and his plotting seems deliberate.
    Gary: "You know what Louis does, he takes bad acts and makes them even worse."
  • V Sign: Naughty Louis once got into trouble for flicking one at the audience.
  • What Could Have Been: When Simon Cowell departed for the US, who was his first choice for his replacement? Noel Gallagher. Simon himself offered the job but he turned it down which led Simon to go to Gary Barlow but just imagine what the show would've been like the bad boy Oasis front man as a judge...
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sharon's foul-mouthed and completely unprovoked rant at eventual winner Steve Brookstein during the show's first-ever final in 2004 got this reaction from a lot of people.
  • Wolverine Publicity: For their annual "finalists all sing for charity" single, the show's producers decided to add vocals from JLS and One Direction to the 2011 single, using the two bands' established fanbase to boost sales (which they seem to be worried about considering the recent slump in ratings). The two bands' appearance in the live performance of the song could also be described as beyond minuscule.
    • In response to the show's near constant chart-toppers (which can get stale after a while), the internet community decided to try and make Rage Against the Machine's "Killing In the Name" the #1 Christmas hit over Joe McElderry's... Miley Cyrus cover. They succeeded.


The American version started in September 2011, taking Cowell away from American Idol, and for a few weeks, Cole from the UK X Factor. It ran for three seasons, before being cancelled due to mediocre ratings and Cowell deciding to return to the UK version.

The judges are:

  • Simon Cowell again (2011-2013)
  • Paula Abdul (2011); returning from American Idol to rekindle her on-screen chemistry with Simon and to add a note of sweetness to an otherwise snarky panel. note 
  • Cheryl Cole (2011); borrowed from the UK version for a few episodes until she either quit or was fired to return to the UK version (and then, for whatever reason, did not return to the UK), replaced by would-be co-hostess Nicole Scherzinger.
  • Antonio "LA" Reid (2011-2012); black, bald, award-winning record producer willing to be harsher than Randy Jackson of American Idol, and thus more likely to confront Simon directly. Also even more experienced in the music industry than Randy, making him a Worthy Opponent for Simon.
  • Nicole Scherzinger (2011); The Ace from the UK series in her guest judging, initially hired as co-hostess but promoted to judge/mentor on Cole's departure early in the first season.
  • Britney Spears (2012); It's Britney, bitch.
  • Demi Lovato (2012-2013); Disney Teen Idol known for her starring roles in Camp Rock and Sonny With A Chance, as well as her own career in music. Became a tabloid sensation in late 2010 when she entered a rehab facility for various emotional and physical troubles; after making a full recovery, she released a new album to great critical and commercial success.
  • Kelly Rowland (2013); Former member of Destiny's Child, who's since carved out a niche for herself aside from simply being known as Beyoncé's bandmate once upon a time. She served as a judge for the 2011 series of the show's UK counterpart, before being replaced by Nicole Scherzinger - who was a judge on this incarnation of the show herself.
  • Paulina Rubio (2013); Mexican pop star, commonly noted as being one of the most successful Latinas in the Spanish-speaking music industry.

Winners of the US version, their categories and their mentors:
  • Season 1 (2011): Melanie Amaro, Girls, Simon Cowell
  • Season 2 (2012): Tate Stevens, Over 25's, L.A. Reid
  • Season 3 (2013): Alex & Sierra, Groups, Simon Cowell

     American version 

The American series contains examples of:

  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: No, not Paula Abdul. At least, not by comparison to Nicole Scherzinger, whose grandiose praise often contains very mixed metaphors.
    Simon Cowell: I'm sitting in Nicole's chair so I'm going to critique like Nicole. I believe in you. You believe in me. You transcend the universe. God is smiling on you. Life is a waterfall, and you are the ultimate rainbow.
    • Britney Spears in the new series said a person sung like "She was in a dream" and has said some other intriguing critiques.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Dylan Lawson's audition performance was basically a minute-long example of this trope. Granted, that was kinda to be expected since he chose to perform Lil Wayne's "Swag Surfin'," but Dylan certainly seemed very enthusiastic in his vulgarity.
  • Cringe Comedy: In the final episode of the first season, trying to banter with Nicole Scherzinger, emcee Steve Jones asked her if he could come to her house for Christmas. Scherzinger twice said, "What?" forcing him to repeat the question before finally answering, "Yes. Yes. No." The already awkward moment was given an added layer of creepy the next day, when Jones told reporters, if fired from the show, he would ask Scherzinger out on a date.
  • Cross Over: Season 1 contestant Astro is featured on a remixed version of British X Factor finalist Cher Lloyd's single "Want U Back". While this ended up being her only hit in the U.S., Astro was ironically not on the American version of the song.
    • Louis Walsh took a break from shooting the UK version to fill in for Simon during one round of auditions in Season 2.
  • Death Is Cheap: As was tradition with American Idol, all eliminees returned for an opening number in the final episode of the first season. Less traditionally, popular eliminees Drew, Astro and Marcus Canty were given duets with the surprise guest musicians (Justin Bieber, 50 Cent and Pitbull & Ne-Yo, respectively), while Rachel Crow emceed for one segue.
  • Defrosting the Ice Queen: In season 2, Cece Frey toned down her bitchy attitude after Demi told her she was coming off as unlikable.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: First season Justin Bieber fangirl Drew seemed to like to perform barefoot.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Lyric Da Queen of Lyric 145 wears one, which is actually necessary for her; her left eye was already pretty messed up on its own, and then somebody at a club elbowed it...
  • Face-Heel Turn: While Nicole Scherzinger was quite popular and well-liked on the UK version, American audiences had a much different reaction to her as a judge. At first, they were lukewarm, but then she voted to eliminate 14-year-old sweet Christian girl Drew just to punish Simon and received death threats afterward. The following week, she refused to vote against three-time bottom two member Marcus Canty, so as not to hurt his feelings, which caused the elimination of Badass Adorable Rachel Crow (and led to the Heartwarming Orphan falling to the stage in tears and the Crowning Moment Of Heartbreaking in which she begged her adoptive mother for forgiveness). From then until the final episode, fan opinion on Scherzinger was split. Some referred to her as a Dirty Coward, whereas others insisted she was a monster.
  • Has Two Mommies: Beatrice Miller of Season 2.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: One of the auditions for Season 2 is Sophie Tweed-Simmons, the daughter of Gene Simmons from Kiss.
  • I Approved This Message: A FOX commercial calls Simon Cowell the "best judge ever" and has him stating "I'm Simon Cowell and I approved this message."
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Said almost word for word by Season 2 contestant, Cece Frey.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Rion Paige from Season 3
  • Is It Always Like This?: Similarly to Louis in the UK version, a frequent question from the US judges to Simon Cowell during the auditions phase.
  • Logic Bomb: When Nicole was making the decision that would ultimately lead to Rachel Crow's elimination, she said "I don't want to have to send you home Rachel... so the act that I'm gonna send home is Rachel."
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Within the first episode, Geo Godley sang about being a stud. Then he dropped his pants and showed off his ahem, "other stud" in front of the entire audience. It was such an awful sight that it led Paula to become quite nauseated by it, having to Rage Quit to the bathroom.
    • He was wearing a thong, though that didn't stop people from leaving the auditions.
  • The Mean Brit: Guess. Although, perhaps due to the mentoring process, compared to American Idol he seems almost cuddly to the contestants and typically reserves his harshest criticisms for their mentors. Cheryl Cole was a borderline case of this prior to being forced off the show; while not as mean as Simon or even LA, she was decidedly snarkier than either Paula or Nicole. Meanwhile, emcee Steve Jones at times plays this for the contestants, but usually by accident.
    Steve Jones: (to eliminated girl group Lakoda Rayne) The dream is over.
  • Mercy Kill: Simon seems to have done this when he eliminated Beatrice Miller because he felt she couldn't handle the competition anymore
  • My God, What Have I Done?: This occurred during the first season; Marcus Canty (who was in the bottom 2 for the third time) and Rachel Crow (who was seen as a frontrunner by many) were in the bottom 2, and the deciding vote went to Nicole Scherzinger. If she voted to eliminate Marcus, he would have gotten the boot. Nicole didn't want to do that, though, so she voted to eliminate Rachel, sending the vote to deadlock. The final result? Rachel has the lowest amount of votes from America and was sent home. Cue a now-very sad 13 year old girl, sobbing while FALLING TO HER KNEES, in front of millions of people. Nicole (who was directly responsible for this happening), naturally grew inconsolable at what she had done and began crying as well.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Season 1 contestant, Arin Ray, returns to compete in Season 2, this time as a solo artist in Britney's Teen category.
    • Season 3 had both Jeffrey Gutt (from Season 2) and James Kenney (from Season 1) return in the over 25's category, both making it past the audition stage.
  • Nausea Dissonance: The first act of one episode featured a flasher who got on stage just to expose himself to the judges. While 3 of them were totally fine, Paula went to the bathroom to vomit for about 15 minutes.
  • Now Buy The Merchandise: Played straight by Simone Battle during the first season. Just moments after being eliminated, Simone announced that her first music video was going to officially premiere the next day on YouTube.
    • Not to be outdone, The Stereo Hogzz also released their first music video within a day of their elimination, though they didn't announce it onscreen like Simone did.
  • Older than They Look: Rachel Crow from the first season plays up a precocious, Shirley Temple-like image, which is somewhat disconcerting because she was actually 13 years old when she auditioned.
  • Only One Name: In the time between the Judge's houses and the live shows, first season finalist Drew Ryniewicz dropped her last name.
  • Only Sane Man: In the first episode of season 2, after wedding-dress/panty-clad Quatrele Da'an Smith auditioned, Britney, Demi, and SIMON all said yes, largely for the potential entertainment factor. LA Reid, however, said no, and looked at the other judges like they were high after saying yes.
    LA Reid: "My fellow judges have gone mad..."
  • Positive Discrimination: Nicole voted The Stereo Hogzz off the show in favor of Lakoda Rayne purely because the former was an all-male group, and the latter was all-female. On top of that, she said after the show that she would always vote for a girl group over a boy (or mixed) group, irrespective of how well they actually performed. At the time, some praised her for sticking to her beliefs even though they may be controversial, but in retrospect many regard this as where things started to go horribly wrong for Nicole.
  • Reassignment Backfire: The decision to replace Cheryl Cole with Nicole Scherzinger, if only because of the mess surrounding Rachel Crow's elimination. If, as many have speculated, Cheryl was deliberately set up to make a total ass of herself and get fired, then Nicole was supposed to come in and bowl US viewers over in the same way she had done in her brief UK stint, then it's an even worse case of this trope.
  • Re Tool: Steve Jones, Nicole Scherzinger, and Paula Abdul all parted ways with the show after its first season... on the same day. Simon wasn't kidding when he said the show would undergo changes ahead of its second season.
    • And then, the show underwent another panel shakeup following Britney's and LA's respective departures; they were eventually replaced by former UK X Factor judge Kelly Rowland and Mexican pop star Paulina Rubio.
  • Revolving Door Casting: The panel of judges (including the host(s), for that matter) has never stayed the same for multiple seasons.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: After initially eliminating Melanie, Simon decided that he would add a fifth member to his team.
  • Shocking Elimination: Drew and Astro's double elimination surprised quite a few people, as they were favorites to win the season among many.
    • Simon choosing Tiah Tolliver, Simone Battle, and to a lesser extent, Drew, over fan-favorites and early frontrunners such as Caitlin Koch, Jazzlyn Little, and Melanie Amaro (although Melanie was brought back as a wildcard contestant).
    • And only a week later, viewers got another shock, as Rachel Crow was eliminated in a deadlock decision, saving Marcus Canty for the third week in a row.
    • Vino Alan in season 2. Not so much because of his competition in the bottom 2 (Diamond White had been strong in the competition as well), but before his elimination, Vino had consistently landed in 3rd place for the votes. But one bad performance (due in large part to a bad song choice, which was also a substitution for his initial song choice less than a day before his performance), and he was sent packing.
  • Surfer Dude: Emblem3's stylistic shtick.
  • Take That: To Demi Lovato after she told an unlucky auditionee that "it's not meant for everybody" he replied "That's why you use auto tune and I don't".
  • Technician Versus Performer: On season 1, Melanie Amaro is a technically perfect pop belter, whereas 3rd place finisher Chris Rene may not have the best voice, but his simple message ("Love life!") and sincerity connect with the audience on a larger scale. Meanwhile, Josh Krajcik, who finished in 2nd is both a multi-talented composer/musician with a stunning set of pipes for blues and rock and also a relatable and extremely likable bloke (albeit decidedly not in a "prefabricated pop star" way - which is, like Rene, part of his charm). This was everything just short of lampshaded in the penultimate episode with the final three's duets with established pop stars. Amaro's partner was R. Kelly, whose personal life is... let's just say "off-putting"... but who is undeniably, even to his detractors, as competent a singer and songwriter as they come. Rene's was Avril Lavigne, who has been lambasted and spoofed for her less-than-polished voice and often simplistic music, but who has maintained a career long since many of her "pop diva" contemporaries faded into nostalgia collection obscurity with her seemingly boundless energy and grungy charm. Whereas Krajcik's partner was Alanis Morissette, who began her career, in the eyes of many, as a sort of poor man's Sheryl Crow, Liz Phair or Courtney Love, due both to her slightly less conventional attractiveness and slightly more formulaic songwriting, but who has since established herself, in the words of judge Nicole Scherzinger, as "rock royalty," thanks to both her willingness to use her unique stage presence to her advantage and her nearly encyclopedic knowledge of music industry history and current events.
  • Title Drop: Astro
    "WHEN YOU SAY X, I SAY FACTA!"
  • Transatlantic Equivalent
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Drew Chadwick of Emblem3, though the group as a whole seems to like losing their shirts in general. Lampshaded by various contestants.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Carly Rose Sonenclar of Season 2 definitely comes across as this.
  • You Might Remember Me from...: Averted in the first season. Although contestant LeRoy Bell cowrote two hits for Elton John in the late '70s ("Are You Ready for Love" and "Mama Can't Buy You Love"), this was never referenced during his run on the show, and he did not perform either of these two songs even for his "save me." Interestingly, two other contestants - ex-Disney star Christa Collins and Audrey Madison-Turner, former backup singer for Ike Turner (and his widow) - did have their past successes discussed on the show, but mentor Nicole Scherzinger eliminated Collins during the "judges' houses" phase, and Madison-Turner failed to make the bootcamp cut.
    • Likewise, the previous career successes of fellow Over 30 contestant, Stacy Francis, such as being in a girl group "Ex-Girlfriend" and originating the role of Rusty in the musical version of Footloose on Broadway, were never addressed on the show. Of course, this could be because she had claimed in her original audition that she'd had no real success in show business and the truth made her seem like a less sympathetic character.
    • Arin Ray in the second season, who had previously made it the live shows the year prior as part of the group In TE Nsity.
    • Don Phillip in the second season audition episodes, who dueted with Britney on her debut album. Britney regretfully, but honestly voted against him.
    • 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar has some acting credits to her name and even orginated a role on broadway.


In 2005, an Australian version was created, consisting of a 13 episode season that was cancelled due to low ratings. However, in 2010, it was Uncancelled via a Channel Hop and, after undergoing a major Reboot, has been a strong hit with the Australian public ever since.

The judges from the 2005 season were:

  • Mark Holden, mentor of the groups.
  • Kate Ceberano, mentor of the 16-24s.
  • John Reid, mentor of the over 25s.

The judges in the current series are:

  • Guy Sebastian (2010-2012), Australian recording artist and winner of the first season of Australian Idol. Known for his down-to-earth approach to his contestants, he balanced kindness with constructive criticism. Won twice with Reece Mastin and Samantha Jade
  • Kyle Sandilands (2010), radio and television personality. Known for his tough critiques, he is one of the harder to please judges the show has had. Left after one season due to the show being to hectic for his schedule.
  • Natalie Imbruglia (2010), Australian recording artist known outside her native country almost solely for her hit "Torn". Was a very sunny personality at the judging table.
  • Ronan Keating (2010-Present), Member of the Boy Band Boyzone. While usually serious in tone, he knows when to lighten up. Currently the only original judge from the 2010 revival still on the panel.
  • Mel B, AKA "Scary Spice", (2011-2012), former member of the Spice Girls. In contrast to many female judges on Idol and other X Factor versions, she is very abrasive in her judging style.
  • Natalie Bassingwaigthe (2011-Present) Australian recording artist. Known for her Cloud Cuckoo Lander style of judging.
  • Dannii Minogue (2013-Present) Again. Won with Dami Im
  • Redfoo (2013-Present) American rapper (LMFAO), who notably did not know about the franchise until being asked to join. Possibly a bigger Cloud Cuckoo Lander than Natalie.

Winners, their categories, and mentors:
  • Season 1 (2005): Random, Groups, Mark Holden
  • Season 2 (2010): Altiyan Childs, Over 25s, Ronan Keating
  • Season 3 (2011): Reece Mastin, Boys, Guy Sebastian
  • Season 4 (2012): Samantha Jade, Over 25s, Guy Sebastian
  • Season 5 (2013): Dami Im, Over 24s (changed from over 25s), Dannii Minogue
     Australian version 
  • Adorkable: Season 5 finalist Dami Im is the cover girl for this. At her first audition alone, she has stockings with kittens drawn on them by her and in response to the judges about what the judges could expect from her, she replied "awesome singing." Surprisingly, her husband Noah is as equally goofy as seen in how he supports Dami at her audition.
    • From season 4,Shiane Hawke is only a fourteen year old girl who still has braces. Her stage presence is very much how you'd expect it to be, which comes off as endearing as opposed to many singers her age whose main draw is how mature they are beyond their years.
    • Also from season 4, Bella Ferraro.
  • Boring Invincible Hero: Averted on the show as a whole. Back-to-back winners Reece Mastin and Samantha Jade were both in the Bottom 2, once for the former and three times for the latter, and still won. Compared to the UK version that's had only James Arthur who was in the Bottom 2 once and the USA version which has no such winners, this is as much an aversion the show could be expected to have. Interestingly, both of them had Boring Invincible Runner-ups who were never in the Bottom 2 and thought likely to win.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The first season is hardly ever referenced in later seasons.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Natalie Bassingwaigthe and Red Foo fight out for this title. As for the contestants, Dami Im has her moments.
  • The Determinator: Samantha Jade was in the Bottom 2 three times, including the the first week, yet still won the entire show.
  • Expy: Kyle Sandilands is like an Australian Simon Cowell.
  • Final Season Casting: Inverted, the first season's judges and host are different from all the other seasons.
  • Funny Foreigner: Red Foo is the only American on an Australian show, and it shows. Dami Im, who was born in South Korea, counts to a lesser extent as well.
  • Good Is Boring: Samantha Jade has this thrown at her a lot, with her detractors claiming she has little personality to put into her singing.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Natalie is an Australian recording artist whose very excitable . . . is a sentence that can be applied to both Imbruglia and Bassingwaigthe.
  • Transplant: Several. The most obvious one is Dannii Minogue from the British version. Kyle Sandilands was also a judge on Australian Idol for a while and Guy Sebastian won its' first season. All three have/are on the panel.
  • You Might Remember Me from...: Samantha Jade had moved to America for a recording contract before Executive Meddling stopped anything from coming of it. This is commented on in-series.
    • Taylor Henderson was originally on Australia's Got Talent before becoming a finalist on X Factor. Interestingly, Dannii Minogue was a judge at the time.

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