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Top Gear: Tropes D-G
Tropes A-C | Tropes D-G | Tropes H-Q | Tropes R-Z | Segments
  • Damage-Proof Vehicle:
    • The presenters did a two week feature to see how durable the Toyota Hilux pickup truck is. In the first week, Clarkson drove it down a staircase, rammed it into a tree, drove it down to the low water mark of the Bristol Channel's ten meter tides and left it there (it actually broke loose from the moorings that were supposed to hold it on the jetty; they didn't find it until the tide went out — six hours later — half buried in the silt and sand), dropped it from a crane, drove it through a modular building, dropped a caravan on it, swung a wrecking ball at it and — finally — set it on fire. The next week, May set it atop a tower of flats several hundred feet high... which was scheduled for demolition. It went down with the building and had to be pulled off the debris pile. And it still started.

      The cast realised the magnitude of the achievement and now display the disfigured Hilux prominently in their studio, on a tilted podium. The Hilux they used was a used one they picked up for 1000 pounds, 13 years old and with 195,000 miles on it. Toyota subsequently released a model called The Invincible. Clarkson and May used two which had been specially modified for Arctic use (one for themselves and one for the camera and support crew) in the Polar Special.

      James May then took the Hilux that had been used by the camera crew in the Polar Special, had it further modified, and drove it to the rim of the erupting volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. May and the camera crew had left the volcano just hours before it really blew its top, shutting down air traffic over much of the Atlantic and Europe, in April of 2010.
    • Richard Hammond complained to Jonathan Ross during an interview that he was disappointed he had no cool scars resulting from his near fatal crash.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: Often, especially when the presenters or a guest operates a vehicle with an unfamiliar layout.
    • The Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle stymied Hammond at first because the brake was where he expected the gear lever to be.
    • James kept putting a Mercedes 190 he'd brought for a "cheap car" challenge in reverse because first and reverse were backwards compared to every other car he'd ever driven. More accurately, on such a gearbox with a dog-leg first gear, reverse is where first normally is, first is where second normally is, third where second normally is, and so on. Ironically, he'd complimented this feature initially, but after backing into someone yet again:
    May: "Look, I've had thirty years of it being left and forwards."
    • Americans who participate in the Star In A Reasonably Priced Car, often.
      • Which seems counterintuitive, as the gear layout is the same, i.e. first is left and forward. But when you are shifting with the left hand instead of the right, you realize your muscles have actually learned in and forward.
    • During a review of several mini hatchbacks, the trope effectively became the basis for testing the user friendliness of those cars by having the presenters' mothers try to operate them without assistance.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • James May is quite good at putting his co-presenters down or discussing their idiocy while remaining calm and straight-faced.
    • Clarkson is also very good at deadpanning ridiculous statements when he wants to be. Notice how it's almost always him who reads out the Stig Facts, and when Hammond does it he can't quite keep a straight face.
  • Deep South: Which they drove through with slogans on their cars like "country and western is rubbish", "NASCAR sucks", "Hillary for President" and "MAN-LOVE RULES OK", with predictable consequences. They also added a Y to the front of Richard's truck so that it said "Dodgey." Apparently "Hillary for President" and even "Man-Love Rules OK" would have probably elicited nothing more extreme than horns and rude comments, but you don't slag C&W or NASCAR.
  • Defcon Five: Clarkson, like so many others, got the Defcon levels wrong when he said that stepping up his Bugatti Veyron (the world's fastest-ever production car) to no-spoiler fast mode took him from Defcon 3 to 4. In another episode, he announced that it was time to go to 'Defcon Stig'.
  • Delicious Distraction: In the "Polar Special," May succeeded in distracting Clarkson with several gourmet food items and a bottle of Chablis from some secret stash.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Seems to be turning into a running gag for James May:
    James May: "...on a European road trip, beginning in the Italian town of Lucca, which is in Italy".
    May (on another occasion): "I went to the United States." (beat) "Which is in America."
    • Even Clarkson seems to have caught on with this:
    Jeremy Clarkson: "...Richard Hammond has his Sunday lunch, every Sunday"
  • Description Cut: Tends to follow statements like "X and I were doing our best to help Y" [cut to shot of Y working furiously while the other two ignore him, make fun of his predicament, or just drive off without him].

    Done very amusingly in the segment featuring the race across London during the middle of rush hour. Not quite the same, as it's not referring to a specific person, but entertaining anyway
    Jeremy Clarkson [in a boat on the Thames, leisurely cruising]: This has to be the most stress free and relaxing Monday morning rush-hour commute since the dawn of time.
    [Cut to the helmet camera of...]
    Richard Hammond [on a pedal bike, dodging traffic, lots of noise]: Oh no, not another set of sodding lights... Ah, bloody hell!
  • Determinator:
    • The Jaguar XJ6 that went from Basel to Blackpool on one tank of diesel despite Jeremy doing everything he could to waste fuel. Did we mention Basel is in Switzerland?
    • Also the Audi A8 that drove from London to Edinburgh and back again on a single tank. At one point Clarkson noted that the Germans had actually "made a car that runs on air".
    • And the modified BMW used in the Britcar 24-hour race. After suffering numerous setbacks, and with less than an hour to go, Clarkson claimed the car wanted to finish and he was just "willing it on"
    • The Hilux.
    • The second hand four-wheel drive cars they bought for the Bolivia special, which, against all expectations, made it to the Chile coast from the middle of the Amazon rainforest. The lone exception was Hammond's Land Cruiser, which took a fall down a steep sand dune a few miles from the coast because the brakes were left off. Richard lampshades the trope on the final stretch.
    • The Stig himself; barring mechanical problems, he will get the car across the line. This once included recovering from not one but two spins on a Lancia kit car.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: All three have been known to indulge in this during challenges, but Clarkson is the worst repeat offender.
  • Did You Die?: Hammond gets subjected to this frighteningly often, usually after one of his stunts.
  • Diesel Punk: The Brutus and Petersen Meteor Bentley featured in series 18, a pair of early 20th century-style cars (albeit made recently) with massive engines: the Brutus has a Heinkel He-111 bomber engine, while the Bentley has a World War II tank engine. Both look like they came out of a pulp action series, with the Brutus especially being extremely noisy and downright violent with its external engine.
  • Directionless Driver: According to his co-hosts, without a sat-nav (and sometimes even with), this is a very accurate description of James May.
  • Disguised in Drag: The three presenters disguise themselves by wearing Syrian-style burqas so as not to alert the Israeli authorities that they had been driving through Syria before they had entered Jordan. As usual, it was Ambitious but Rubbish, as they found when they arrived in Damascus.
    May: [Sees 'Welcome Top Gear' sign on hotel] I've appeared on television, in drag, for nothing!
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Usually played for humor. Usually.
    • In the Polar Special, this was played dead straight when the three of them started feeling the effects of the cold, exhaustion, and isolation. They began threatening each other with physical harm for tiny infractions, and Clarkson destroyed May's can of "victory Spam" with a shotgun for no apparent reason.
    • May waving his machete in Clarkson's face in the South American adventure. The "disproportionate" of this varies if you believe Jeremy's claim it was an accident, or if you're as tired of the "oh dear, I've run into the back of May's car" Running Gag as May is. And especially when he openly warned his co-presenters not to pull it on him while driving on a winding cliff road with no safety rail. Beware the Nice Ones, indeed.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: While "demonstrating" some Porsche-branded pipes, it's played straight by James May. And then it's completely averted ten seconds later when Jeremy burns his tongue after putting the wrong end of the pipe in his mouth.
    Jeremy: 's a Ni' Ele'en. OW!
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • Used for comedic effect in one episode, where the cameraman is Distracted by the Sexy, and the camera drifts over to film some beach volleyball players instead of James May and the Honda FCX Clarity he is reviewing.
    • In one News section in Series 14 Clarkson commented that attractive women clad for summer are the worst driving hazard he can think of, to which the other two agreed. Clarkson and company were piloried in the newspapers, of course, but within the same week stories and polls emerged to back up Clarkson's thesis.
    • In season 17 episode 2, when they had to do the Monaco GP track on hot hatches, the three presenters went to get pointers from F1 drivers. Clarkson did his homework, but the other two went to a party and spent the whole time chatting with hot girls.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The presenters' "examples" of car-logo Christmas gifts quickly degenerates into, well...
    May: [holds up a sword with pork chops on it]This pork sword —
    Clarkson: James, don't do the pork sword. [holds up a stuffed rooster with an Audi logo attached] This cock-
    Hammond: Has it got four rings on it?
    Clarkson: Yes it has!
    • And then promptly lampshaded.
      Clarkson: Put this cock in your wizard's sleeve!... *Turns to the audience* It's all gone horribly wrong.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing:
    • Occasionally played with when, for instance, the guys solemnly (and with perfect insincerity) state that they strictly obey the speed limit at all times, or state "this is something we mustn't do" before engaging in impromptu drag races on public streets.
    • Lampshaded when the presenters express momentary concern over the 80's Hatchback challenge "games" demonstrated when the producers were looking the other way. Slightly dangerous games such as "Lap of Your Own Car," "In-Motion Musical Chairs," or "Tea Trays Under the Back Wheels." They decide that no one will ever copy them since no teens have ever gone into a hairdresser and asked for May's haircut.
  • Don't Try This at Home: Conspicuous by its absence. Although they did have a strongly worded warning against insurance fraud in the perfect-car-for-a-17-year-old-boy challenge.
  • Doom It Yourself: Any project that involves severely modifying a car... or, for Clarkson, any project that involves slightly modifying a car. Fortunately failure is just as entertaining as success, sometimes more so.
  • Double Entendre: Quite often. Sometimes leads into Does This Remind You of Anything?.
    [while doing the brakes in a Caterham 7 kit-car challenge]
    Clarkson: The nipple is off.. the tube is in the hole... I will be needing some pump.
    May: You should feel it go stiff now.
    Clarkson: Pump, man, pump. Braking happening?
    Hammond: Oh yeah, that's much better... yeah, that's hard.
  • Downer Ending: The (epic) Aston Martin Vantage V12 feature at the end of series 13 convinced more than a couple of people that it would be the last episode of the show, or at least of Clarkson's tenure on it. (Neither was true.) Also a Drama Bomb Finale. Word of God says they were seriously considering doing the Blackadder thing and ending without even rolling the credits. One or two mocking references to the panicked fan speculation about the end of the show even made it into The Big Book of Top Gear 2009.
  • Driving Stick:
    • Several of the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car guests have had to go around the track in an automatic because they can't work out what a clutch pedal is for. You wonder why they'd go on a show about driving really. The occasional American or German has gotten lost in the gear pattern — which is the same on right hand drive as left hand, but "backwards" as far as muscle memory is concerned.
    • When Christopher Eccleston appeared in the segment, they had to find an automatic Suzuki Liana because he'd only had his license for 14 months and was not authorized to drive a stick shift. Only forty such cars exist in England, so they had to borrow it from some civilian. After they showed Eccleston's practice laps:
    Clarkson: And if that's your car...Tough!
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In the first couple of seasons, The Stig was black-suited and played by a different person. After said person (ex-F1 driver Perry McCarthy) went public about his identity, which is the one thing The Stig is not supposed to do, "Black Stig" was promptly killed off at the start of the next series by driving off an aircraft carrier.
    • Discussed by the presenters after the first "White Stig" (racing driver Ben Collins) did the same thing.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: The reaction the Top Gear: Australia hosts had to their, ahem, "taxi" that picked them up from the airport.
    Jeremy: I just thought it would be nice to come back into the country the way their ancestors left. (cue a jail bus)
  • Dynamic Entry: In episode 1 of series 17 Hammond takes a shortcut through Johannesburg in the Marauder by driving it through a wall.
  • Eagleland:
    • The show and presenters, especially Clarkson, are infamous in some circles for hating on Americans and American cars — see Deep South above. Clarkson especially views Americans strictly through Flavor # 2 glasses, which has provoked negative responses from viewers, and not just Americans. At the same time, all three of the presenters have favorably reviewed American cars. Two of Jeremy's favorite cars are the Dodge Viper and the Ford GT. May likes Cadillacs for their style and comfort; famously, one Cadillac that failed to impress him with bells and whistles won him over completely with superior handling. And Hammond owns a Ford Mustang and a Dodge Charger and will like just about any traditional American muscle car (he chose the new Dodge Challenger during the American Supercar Challenge precisely because of this).
    • Even with all the America bashing, the show is a huge hit in the US. In fact, it could be argued that it's among the reasons it's popular. A very cringe-worthy moment was when the Jaguar designer said they wouldn't be able to make them as sleek anymore if Americans got their way, because so many Americans couldn't be bothered to wear seat-belts that the US government wanted the roofs higher to protect unbelted drivers.
    • At times, it does seem as if Clarkson in particular has some sort of passionate love-hate relationship with American culture. He'll spend one moment snooting down his nose at Americans, and then the next moment, he'll giddily ramble on about all the great features of the latest American sports car.
    • In the Vietnam special, the punishment for having your motorbike break down was to have to use a bike painted in the colours of the US flag, playing "Born in the USA". Remember what happened over 30 years ago.
    Clarkson: Children, if you are watching this at home... and you don't know why this is inappropriate... ask your parents.
    • In the same episode, he mentions, upon entering Hanoi, that he is, "Doing what no American has ever done before - entering North Vietnam."
  • Eagleland Osmosis: May points out the reason why he believes Hammond is an American.
    May: You've got a Stetson, you've got Cowboy boots, you've got Chaps, you've got a Harley Davidson, you've got a Mustang, you'd like to get a Beer, and you put Cheese on everything!
    • Clarkson himself possess a lot of the stereotypical attributes he uses to describe Americans, see Boomerang Bigot above.
  • Eat the Evidence: Richard Hammond has eaten things to keep Jeremy Clarkson from getting his hands on them, including a cardboard picture of a car (intended for the Cool Wall) and a piece of paper with the points for that week's challenge (which showed Clarkon had somehow racked up an improbably huge score on the final test). His nickname of "Hamster" is quite appropriate.
  • Eat That: On the American South special, the presenters were told that dinner would be whatever they could find on the side of the road. Clarkson somehow found and retrieved an entire dead cow. May promptly announced he had become a vegetarian.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: The soundtrack to Clarkson and May's trip to B&Q in the "caravanist" film in season 20.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: They take great delight in mocking the Swiss for naming a car, "The Growler".
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Although they aren't really enemies, you'll never see any two of the trio get along better than when they're cooperatively screwing with the third.
    • Or with one of their producers.
  • Epic Fail:
    • In general, the presenters are seldom satisfied with ordinary, garden-variety failure, especially with Clarkson around.
    • When May loses a challenge, he can lose spectacularly. For instance, in the race across London he came last by over half an hour, coming behind even The Stig who was using London's notoriously congested and delay-prone public transport services, and in the white van test Clarkson and Hammond got scores of 10.5 and 21 respectively, whereas May got -3,999,993. Hammond beat him and he actually flipped his van during the police chase test.
    • The homemade convertible: it exceeded 100 MPH and survived lion filled safaris. The final test was to make sure it can survive a car wash. How does it do? It falls apart, they are forced out of the wash, and then the washing machinery goes up in flames. The convertible itself survived until the tractor challenge; see Watch the Paint Job below.
    • Their attempt to make amphibious cars. Clarkson actually managed to ruin a Toyota Hilux.
    Clarkson:"None of them were seaworthy. Mine was still on fire."
    • A lot of things that Clarkson attempts end up on fire. Even the brakes on an antique car that he owns go up in flames.
    • The first iteration of their eletric car could only go ten miles an hour.
    Clarkson: "We are being overtaken by children!'"
    • In the trucker challenge, all three announcers were told to bring their assigned cargo (a cake for May, a car for Hammond, and a bale of straw with a heater for Clarkson) from point A to point B. The results were thus: May's giant cake had toppled over, Hammond's car was missing, and Clarkson's truck was engulfed in flames.
    • This has gotten to the point of having "Top Fail" specials, two very prominent examples featuring the Reliant Robin. First, there was Clarkson's attempt to drive a Robin 14 miles, but ended up flipping over quite a few times, twice in the background of an outdoors BBC News report (and crashing in the river ultimately), and an attempt to make a Reliant space shuttle that was obliterated upon crashing. (The main fault was during an RC landing procedure, the grips between the car and the main booster pod caught fire and ultimately unable to land safely).
    • In the Police car challenge, each of them equipped their cars with weapons to stop the Stig from getting away. James used a paint ball guns to block the Stig's view through his windshield, which the Stig reacting to by turning on the window wipers. Richard put a mat with nails in it infront of where the Stig was driving, which the Stig just drove around. Jeremy had Spiked Wheels, which broke off of a wheel. Namely, one of Jeremy's.
    • Michael Schumacher's lap in the Suzuki Liana. He stalled off the line then started grinding gears after starting it again, went off course at Chicago and crashed into a camera tripod (and almost killed a cameraman), which smashed the windscreen, went incredibly slow on the Follow Through, then drove the wrong way around the tires and got lost before he could reach Gambon.
    • The conclusion of the Zenvo ST 1 video. While the super car turned out to be very fast, it suffered from a design flaw which made it very hard to control in sports mode and had two serious mechanical breakdowns, with the second resulting in it starting to burn on the track. When the Stig had to drive it on the wet track it came in slower than a BMW M5, a saloon car. All that while the Zenvo costs around 800,000 pounds.
  • Epic Race: Several of the challenges.
    • The economy race from Basel to the Blackpool Illuminations took 17 hours.
    • The Race Across Japan (Jezza at the wheel of the Nissan GT-R vs Richard and James on Japanese public transportation including the 200 mph Bullet Train) easily counts, especially as it was one of the closest finishes ever for a Top Gear Epic Race.
    • The race from Heathrow to Oslo was also quite a punishingly long run.
  • Escalating War: Most road trips devolve into two of the presenters pranking the other one. For example, after destroying James' air conditioner in India, he turns the heater to full and rips the knob off in Clarkson's car, and permanently fixes Hammond's seat too far forward. Things keep going from there.
    • The Nile River special includes a running gag where repairs are made to each presenters car... by using bits from the other presenters' cars. To wit: James uses metal from Jeremy's passenger door to replace his broken skid plate; Jeremy retaliates by patching the hole with metal from James' hood; James fixes that hole with Richard's hood; Richard fixes that hole with Jeremy's other door; and finally, Jeremy discovers that Richard's rear window can replace his own after it was broken.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto:
    • Lamborghini Gallardo - an unidentified fault with the engine caused several to erupt into flames, prompting James to remark:
      May: I'd like a Lamborghini. Can I have one that's not on fire?
    • Ferrari 458 Italia - an issue with the adhesives used to bond part of the rear caused a few to burst into flames. During the filming of the 2010 Christmas Special in the US where James was driving a 458, Richard and Jeremy both appeared to James wearing T-shirts showing pictures of the car burning.
    • After Porsche identified a fault with the new GT3 that had caused several of them to catch fire, Jeremy and James took great delight in constantly reminding Hammond that he himself had recently ordered a new GT3, including giving him a pair of "GT3 driving gloves" (oven gloves with the Porsche badge on them) and, after Hammond's was recalled, a miniature GT3... which promptly and spontaneously caught fire.
    • Replace the word "car" with the word "caravan" and you're close. The team will not rest until every caravan on Earth is destroyed violently.
    Clarkson: [Series 4, episode 4] You know, that's the nineteenth caravan we've destroyed on this program in twelve months!
  • Every Episode Ending: Most episodes end with Jeremy Clarkson saying "...and on that bombshell, it's time to end..." or variants thereof with few exceptions. Such as when Clarkson was caught and devoured by a pack of hunting dogs.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: During Clarkson's review of the BMW Z4 and Nissan 370Z in series 13, the test track was inhabited by dinosaurs for no apparent reason. It's pretty awesome anyway.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Subverted during the convertible people carrier challenge. Jeremy and Richard actually taunt James over his concern over the park's primates, only to freak out themselves when monkeys start jumping and climbing on their van's homemade roof. Apparently, it wasn't too much of a concern at first as the car's roof was quite evidently covered in diced fruit to attract the monkeys.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Invoked in the Botswana special.
    James May: In the Okavango, you will encounter many deadly animals including lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, hippos, black rhino and crocodile, *Beat* bird snakes, shield-nose snakes, puff adders, boomslang, king cobras, banded cobras, black mambas, black widows, and thick-tailed scorpions.
    Jeremy Clarkson: What about the honey badger?note 
  • Evil Laugh: James May at the beginning of the Limousine Challenge while talking about the car he was going to use to make his limousine.
  • Exact Words: As promised, Clarkson didn't drive James' old Ferrari in a drag race. The Stig on the other hand...
  • Extreme Omnivore:
    • Clarkson is all to happy to try whatever native dish is on hand on their overseas trips, and has mentioned on other shows, such as QI, other exotic dishes he's eaten.
    • May was the first to bravely try Clarkson's "manly V8 smoothie" (composed of raw beef with bones, Bovril, tabasco sauce, chilis, and "for added bite" a brick), blended in a blender powered by a Corvette's V8 engine. The nonchalance abruptly ended when the full effect of the taste hit:
    May: I've got the name for it: the Bloody Awful.
    • Taking other shows he's been on into consideration, it's a wonder James hasn't been poisoned yet. See the Character page for the full list.
  • Face Palm:
    • All the presenters have done this to each other at some point.
    • Jeremy Clarkson facepalmed during the 14.02 news after an unexpected audience reaction:
      Clarkson: Now. We have to just touch on something, don't we, before we go because—
      Audience: [laughter]
      Hammond: No, no, no, no!
      Clarkson: [facepalm]
    Not a complete surprise as they were talking about May's 'fizzing spot behind his penis' thing just before it.
  • Fade to Black: Every filmed insert ends by either cutting or fading to black.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Subverted, averted and played straight — amazingly, sometimes within the same episode.
  • Fanservice:
    • You know Madison Welch wasn't invited to be on the show because of her extensive knowledge of cars.
    • Subverted with Jodie Kidd: no-one really expected anything out of her other than some eye candy, but she actually topped the "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car" rankings when she appeared on the show, and held that title until the following season.
    • The early series had even more egregious examples, like Jeremy Clarkson's explanation of the Porsche 911 range.
    • And these bloopers featuring some native British "birds."
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: RichardHammond when something of great interest comes up... or perhaps the chance to make fun of his two co-presenters.
  • Fast-Forward Gag: James May explaining to the other two how to figure out if the Morris Mini they've chosen can actually go over a ski jump successfully.
  • Fish out of Water: The Stig whenever he's not behind the wheel of something.
  • Flanderization: Even producer Andy Wilman has acknowledged that the presenters have been narrowed down to one or two basic personality traits. ("Jeremy is walk through a door rather than open it, Richard's massively accident prone and cheeky chappie, and James is a pedantic nerd.")
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Fleece The Budget: One episode has the hosts informing the audience that, due to a strained budget, their videos would have to be much simpler than usual. Cue Hammond dressing up his review with all sorts of fancy graphics and effects (topped off with a CGI spaceship chasing the car, no less) and Clarkson taking needless trips around the world for increasingly arbitrary reasons, like to test if the glove compartment still opens.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: During the challenge where they use ex-military equipment to knock down condemned houses, Clarkson treats his minesweeper like a dog.
    Clarkson: *Narrating* Happily I'd finally managed to housetrain my digger!
    Clarkson: *Walking along side his machine with the remote* Walkies! Yes... good digger!
  • Flying Saucer: In 14.07, during Hammond's review of the Lexus RX 450h. One wonders if Andy Wilman spends time on this site looking for ideas...
  • Food and Animal Attraction: In the Africa Special, Hammond and Clarkson try to invoke this trope deliberately against May by planting huge chunks of beef inside the bodywork and engine compartments of May's car as they approached a game reserve, hoping to attract lions to him. It doesn't work.
  • Foreign Queasine: Hammond was mysteriously "not hungry" for most of the Vietnam special
    May: [looking at the menu] Um, well I think this thing here is a sort of squid thing with some... weird paste.
    Hammond: [unhappily] Don't like squid.
    May: Okay, well you can have crab, with...
    Hammond: Don't like crab.
    May: Razor clams.
    Hammond: Don't like clams.
    • In the end he eats a bowl of rice... krispies.
    • Hammond also revealed that he doesn't eat fish in the Nissan GT-R vs Bullet Train race in Japan, and it was likewise lampshaded by Clarkson when the camera cut to him.
    Clarkson (showing off his back of snacks): That is just a fish... lightly killed, and then put in a bag. The marvellous thing is that Richard Hammond won't be able to enjoy any of this. Because he won't eat anything unless it's come from a burger van on the A38. (Mimics) "I don't like cheese it's full of bacteria, and I don't like fish."
    Hammond: May, it's all fish! I...
    May: Yeah. It's good for you.
    Hammond: I don't like fish!
    May: Well you've come to the wrong country.
    • And after hoping for lamb chops in a Damascus restaurant, he instead gets lamb brain, head, stomach, and testicles.
    Hammond: I'm in a horror film...
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Jeremy Clarkson: Choler. The leader who dares dream anything is possible, but is usually brought down by his arrogance.
    • Richard Hammond: Sanguine. Outgoing, daring, and always up for fun over control, but also the most easily upset.
    • James May: Melancholy. Organized and the best at fixing things mechanically, but also pedantic and occasionally bogged down in details.
    • The Stig: So phlegmatic he never speaks, startles or betrays emotion.
  • Free Wheel: Several times, for example when Clarkson's tries to use his Spiked Wheels in the "alternative police car" challenge.
  • Freudian Trio: Hammond is the Id, for his emotional moments such as with Oliver and war veterans as well as a reckless sense of adventure; Clarkson is the Ego, for being both intelligent enough to make a truck cross the Channel yet not understand how a car works; and May is the Superego, who relies entirely on intelligence to the point of boring.
  • Friendship Moment: Rare, but they happen.
    • On a frightening mountain pass at night with no headlights and nothing visible except the back of Hammond's Toyota:
    May : Hammond, I want to say something to you that I wouldn't say at any other time.
    Hammond: What?
    May: Please don't leave me.
    Hammond: Oh God, those words are going to stay with me for a bit, I'll struggle to get over that. [more sincerely] No, I won't.
    • Insofar as a fifty year old man can literally squee, Clarkson does so when May gives him a present to cheer him up after a hard day of polar trekking.
    • Probably the most important one happened off camera: Clarkson and May were among the first to get to the hospital after Hammond's accident. Clarkson also sent amusing text messages to Hammond's wife every day for five weeks after the accident to keep her spirits up while her husband was in the hospital.
  • Friend to All Children: Hammond, who befriends some in a quaint Vietnam village.
  • From Bad to Worse: Frequently in the cheap car challenges. They start out as hopeless bangers, so there's nowhere to go but down. Also often found in challenges where the presenters have to create something, like their own limousines, motorhomes, or a combination combine harvester/snowplow.
    Clarkson: So far then, we'd crashed a plane, ruined a car, burned a sign and smashed a house. And then, things got worse...
  • Fruit Cart: Close — a flower cart, as part of an obstacle course in the car-for-a-17-year-old challenge. The presenters lost points for not hitting it.
  • Fun T-Shirt:
  • Funny Background Event:
    • In the tractors challenge, Hammond attempts to herd sheep with the "assistance" of Top Gear Dog, while Clarkson and May have a conversation in the foreground
    • At one point in the "car for a 17-year-old" challenge, The Stig can be seen putting his head into a photocopier.
    • Such is their skill that they can even invoke this trope on other BBC shows. For those who cannot see thanks to YouTube, the events mentioned include Jeremy driving the Peel P50 through the BBC studio and eventually through the background of the live BBC News 24 Broadcast. The other event is when the Top Gear team received Toy Remote Control Cars which they discovered stuck to windows very well and could be driven up them...if you were watching "The One Show" on a certain night, you may have noticed strange objects going up the windows from the outside...
    • There is a picture of Will Young on Jeremy's desk as they phone shop for car insurance for their fictional 17-year old children. There is a picture of the Queen on James's desk, and Richard has some teeth whitener on his desk.
    • The Season 14 finale had a moment where James' introduction to the next segment was interrupted by Hammond crashing an electric-powered skateboard into part of the set behind him.
    • While exploring how poorly the Renault Avantime handled corners, Richard is seen sliding across the backseat with a barely audible yelp of surprise.
    • Jeremy happily eating an ice-cream on a beach in the foreground, while his block-of-flats Citroen goes tumbling down a cliff behind him.
    • From earlier in the same episode (Series 15 Episode 4): Jeremy cooking dinner in the foreground and explaining how carefully he is monitoring the food because the last time he tried to cook in a caravan he set it on fire, while, after a cut to a different view allows you to see out the window behind him, you can see Richard frantically fighting an enormous fire caused by his own reckless cooking.
    • Jeremy skidding and flipping over on his side in the background of a BBC News segment in Series 15. Twice.
    • After Clarkson and May have a race around the rack with their BMWs in the 2000-quid-or-less-convertible challenge, you can hear Hammond's car alarm still going off while the other two talk about their cars.
    • In the Albania episode of series 16, Jeremy ends up rolling backwards while the "Bentley" (actually a Yugo since Bentley pulled their car from the episode at the last minute) scrapes against a wall. As Hammond and May discuss Clarkson's idiocy, you can hear Clarkson in the background screaming about how the door mirror's been ripped off.
    • In Part 2 of the Burma Special, the morning after the Apocalypse Now-esque party, we see Hammond going in and out of the what can possibly be the outhouse of a Shan village dealing with his epic hangover, while May and Clarkson is discussing about the "apparent" lack of drug trade in the notorious Golden Triangle in the foreground.
  • Fun with Acronyms: In the "50 Years of James Bond" special, the Top Gear Invisible Car/Van works via the Particularly Enigmatic New Invisibility System.
  • Fun with Subtitles:
    • In the episode where the lads make their own electric car with a noisy diesel generator to charge the batteries.
    Hammond: [shouting over the noise] Well that's brilliant! It's a hybrid. We've built a Prius!
    [This is an appalling racket. We are useless at everything.]
    Clarkson: You don't think the producers are messing with the subtitles, do you?
    [I am a big fat bald idiot.]
    Hammond: No, they wouldn't do that.
    [And I'm a short arse.]
    ADAC Technician [while putting one of their "cheap cars" through a test]: Scheiße! (Literally "Shit!")
    Subtitle: Oh bother.
  • Gargle Blaster: The V8 Smoothie (aka the "Bloody Awful").
  • Gay Bravado: The presenters alternate jabs at the others' heterosexuality and get squicked by each others' insinuations. Amusingly, their interviews and appearances elsewhere carry it on. On Have I Got News for You, James's first reaction to the host mentioning that Jeremy had been in the news lately was, "Has he come out?"
  • Gearhead Show: aka Petrolhead show in the UK.
  • Geeky Turn-On:
    • During his stint as a Scooterman, May is so impressed by his fare's knowledge about her car that he asks her to hold his helmet and gets her phone number so he can ask for help if he has trouble with a road test. Later, in the studio:
    Clarkson: That Audi woman you had, she was amazing!
    May: Yeah, I, uh, found her strangely attractive.
    Clarkson: Nothing strange about the attraction there, she was great!
    • Jools Holland (during his interview as Star In A Resonably Priced Car) gushed to Clarkson about May's 'great mind'.
  • Gesundheit:
    James: What would you say if I said, Perodua Kelisa?
    Richard: Ooh, bless you!
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • In the introduction to the review of the Lamborghini Reventon (the 'v' in "reventon" is pronounced almost like a 'b'), Clarkson mocks Hammond by repeating his words, substituting 'b' for 'v' until the Hamster nearly bites him. Clarkson concludes, "But with this, you would get a lot of 'badge'." After a confused blink Hammond gets it — the expression on his face has to be seen to be believed. It helps that "a lot of badge" is a frequently used expression in car circles (in terms of marque snobbery).
    • When taking part in an ice race in France and noting that all the other their cars are far more powerful, Clarkson told Olivier Panis, an F1 driver, that having their rear-drive sports cars (Porsche 944 for Clarkson and twin-turbo 300zx for Hammond) in a field otherwise consisting of (seemingly) entry-level hatchbacks was like "bringing longbows to a bow-and-arrow fight". With Panis out of the way, Clarkson comments:
    • A recurring gag is fake sponsorship names on racing cars the Top Gear team drive.
      • You think they'd arrange it so that opening the door wouldn't turn "Larsen's Biscuits" into "LARSEN'S BISCUITS". You'd be wrong...
      • On the other side, it had PENISTON OILS.
      • In the Ice Racing Episode, all three got in on the act, with AMERDEA DU FROMAGE on Hammond's car, C'ESTLES BIEN CHAT! and SOPHARTEL INDUSTRIE on Clarkson's car, and RESTAURANT PETIT ENTREE and COQ JOLI yaourt auxfruits on May's car.
      • The India Special has their British advertising banners ruined by the train seperating;
    BRITISH IT FOR YOUR COMPANY
    EAT ENGLISH MUFFINS
    • Hammond losing his (wedding) ring to "The Dominator" in the Snowbine Harvester challenge.
    Clarkson: That'll be a tricky one to explain...
    • The Vietnam Special has James complain that the rain is ruining his Vietnamese money.
    May: Me dongs going to be all soggy...
    Matt: ...and I saw, I saw, like, in the film, sorta see her eyes. I come, and...
    Clarkson: You what?
    • After critics complained of their usage of the word 'pikey', they made subtle references of the word. James even drops this gem:
    James: You really are a steak and kidney lock opener, aren't you?
    • During the British sports car challenge Clarkson notes that Hammond's license plate is an anagram of "Liar" and May's is an anagram of "Gosh". Clarkson's license plate reads CTU 131N.
    • The "Top Gear Penistone Engineering Workshop" becomes "TOP PENIS ENGINE WORK" due to an unfortunate split in the sign; they went all the way to the unfortunately named town of Penistone just so they could do that joke.
    • The first three weeks of Series 21 saw the Stars in a Reasonably Priced Car do their laps in wet conditions, which is normally indicated on the leaderboard next to their time with "W". Hugh Bonneville's lap was wet and got the the usual W. Tom Hiddleston's lap was even wetter and was designated "VW" for very wet. Then James Blunt had to do his in pouring rain which made controlling the car difficult and reduced visibility to the point where he couldn't see the track markings. His lap went up on the board with the modifier "FW".
    • When Nick Frost does his lap and suggest marking it as "HW"note  due to his size Jeremy remarks that he should instead use "FF"note  before hastily giving another explanation.
  • Ghost Town: In series 20 episode 3 they visit recession-ravaged Spain and describe it as being a ghost country, finding completely empty airports, towns and even suburbs of the capital.
    • From the Burma special, the new Burmese capital, Naypyidaw. While its population is just under a million, it's disproportionately huge and still under construction, meaning a lot of it is empty. To demonstrate, they park up on the main thoroughfare (which has 10 lanes in each direction) and play a game of football right there in the middle of the completely empty road!
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • Jeremy in the Vietnam special: "Still, at least I'd been assured it wouldn't rain."
    • Also in the Bolivia special, when attempting to pull James' stuck little Suzuki free with Jeremy's lumbering 3.5 liter Land Rover.
      May: Please be gentle with this, Jeremy, and not a yob.
      Clarkson: POWEEER!
  • Glasses Pull: Hammond does this during the first American Road Trip special, upon seeing New Orleans one year after Hurricane Katrina.
  • Glory Days: Clarkson's lament at seeing the old, long-abandoned Jensen factory, noting that during the 1970's, over 27% of the British workforce were involved in the manufacturing industry. Today, its barely 9%.
    Clarkson: It's not that we don't make sports-cars anymore... we don't make anything!
    • They have also lamented that new fuel efficiency standards are putting an end to the era of the supercar.
  • Godwin's Law: Subverted in Jeremy and James' "Grosser vs. Corniche" competition. James talks down Jeremy's Grosser by listing the names of several infamous dictators who owned his car including; Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, Hirohito, Mao Tse Tung, and Pol Pot. Hitler was not mentioned, possibly trying to avoid this trope.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The 'Lethal Car Decorating' in the US special.
  • Good with Numbers: James May.
    • At the end of the British Leyland challenge:
    May: We got 20p for every yard you covered — you did 1,500 yards, so...
    Hammond: Uh..
    Clarkson: That's, um...
    May: It's £300, you half-wit.
    • During the news segment in Series 12, Episode 06, May claimed to have calculated the total number of engine revs that his 25 year old Porsche had sustained in its lifetime, which prompted this reaction:
    Hammond: Wow! So you must actually have done everything there is to do in the whole world, to get to the bottom of the list of everything a human being can do. What's it like on the top of Everest? Is it good?
    May: It's alright.
    Clarkson: Richard, I went to a dinner party the other day, and I sat next to a girl who said she couldn't believe that James May was still single.
    Hammond: There's your answer... Theerrreee's your answer!
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: When retired footballer Ian Wright was the guest, Clarkson invoked this.
    • Clarkson has also occasionally (and jokingly) referred to golf clubs as "golf bats".
    • Both Clarkson and Hammond invoked and parodied this after rumours surfaced that the latter was to front the BBC's renewed Formula One coverage. Hammond apparently knows nothing about Formula One.
      Clarkson: (imitating Hammond's commentary) "And they're off, and look at that idiot in the Mercedes SL! He's holding them all up!" No, Richard, that's the parade lap.
      Hammond: (playing along) "And he's coming into the pits... what, for fuel? Well, why didn't he just fill up before he left?" note  I would be the worst person in the world for that job.
      May: Well...maybe not the worst person...
  • Groin Attack:
    • Clarkson to May with a paintball gun during the limousine challenge.
    May: The rules said hits on the car, not hits on the wedding vegetables.
    • James returned the favor in Season 13, when he accidentally hit Clarkson in the "plums"
    • Hammond accidentally headbutted May in the "gentleman's region" during the Vietnam challenge.
    • Clarkson gets nailed by a paintball fired out of an F-1 Car's exhaust in Season 14 Ep5.
    • Hammond accidentally kicks one of the dancing girls in the crotch towards the end of "The Interceptors" segment in Season 17.
    • May ends up recieving a Stealth Hi/Bye karate-kick from the Chinese "Attack" Stig in Series 18.
    Clarkson: Ha! In the plums!

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