- Actor Allusion: All the presenters take jabs at each other based on their other TV work:
Clarkson: This is strangely familiar, you telling me about animals you've just seen that I haven't...
- Hammond got a lot of stick from Clarkson and May firstly for 'selling out to day-time television' with Richard Hammond's 5 O'Clock Show, and secondly for presenting mindless programmes like Blast Lab and Total Wipeout. He plays up the amoral Money, Dear Boy image, for example putting adverts for those shows on his car instead of moralistic anti-drugs messages in the Bolivia special.
- May presenting James May's Toy Stories.
Clarkson: We really need James May for this test, but he's busy. He's probably building a nuclear submarine out of LEGO or something.
- During the Romania trip:
Hammond : [voiceover] James was merrily tootling along, apparently under the illusion he was presenting his wine programme.
May : ...good place to stop for grapes, this. There's a person holding up a bag of grapes, and two more holding up similar bags, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth. [pause] I think we're well covered for grapes, then.
- Clarkson and May take the piss out of Hammond for hosting Planet Earth Live during their search for the source of the Nile.
- Backed by the Pentagon: Well, Ministry Of Defence. Top Gear frequently has appearances from members of the British Army, Royal Marines or Royal Air Force, taking part in all sorts of hijinks under the guise of car tests. This includes a tank/an attack helicopter/snipers from the Irish Guards hunting down Jeremy Clarkson as he drives a car or SUV, and more recently Clarkson reviewing the new Ford Fiesta in part by using it in a Royal Marine beach assault and playing a motorised version of British Bulldog with various armoured vehicles and a Mitsubishi, Richard Hammond racing a British Army parachutist or RAF pilot flying a Eurofighter Typhoon (Hammond's first shot at driving the Bugatti Veyron), and a BAE Sea Harrier doing a Power Lap.
In 2009, the MoD revealed that since 2004, the Armed Forces were involved in filming for the equivalent of 141 days and civilian officials spent 48 days working on items for the programme. Although there was a bit of snarkery over this, the MoD insists that it was an excellent way to boost support for the Army. Clarkson notably supports the troops, and he is a patron of Help For Heroes
- Doing It for the Art: For all the flack the show gets about being bawdy and offensive, deep down you know that the trio really love cars (especially Clarkson; see the last scene of Series 13) and it's really just sixty minutes of gushing about them with gorgeous imagery.
- Dueling Shows: With Fifth Gear, which is much less popular than Top Gear (and is based on the original, more straightforward-review format) but is often name-dropped because its presenters include several of Clarkson's old colleagues and rivals from the original Top Gear. Disasters such as the Cool Wall burning down are often ascribed to Fifth Gear's nefarious schemes.
- Edited for Syndication:
- Rather clumsily, to make room for ad breaks, on Dave (a UK channel that shows reruns of many BBC programs) — ironic, as sitcoms and panel games are generally unedited, taking up an awkward 40-minute place in the schedules. UKTV, Dave's parent company, often also comes under criticism for editing documentaries on their other channels.
- Also edited for ad breaks on BBC America. The News and Cool Wall segments are generally cut, presumably because they're relatively short and involve topics with which American audiences are likely unfamiliar (and, in the case of the News segment, possibly because the topics discussed are no longer "news" by the time the episodes appear across the pond). However, they keep Star in a Reasonably Priced Car... which is relatively short and involve topics with which American audiences are likely unfamiliar. As an example: episode 13x02 edited out the news, including a part about a car sounding like it was having a "crisis", which made future references to having a "crisis" look like an inside joke. Also, a line from Clarkson about "separating the men from the Grindrs" loses its humor since the part where Stephen Fry shows Clarkson the Grindr app was edited out.
- Subverted in 2010 where the episodes are shown in full in special 90-minute slotsnote on their first airing (and a handful after that), possibly since it had more stars recognizable to Americans. BBC America tried this after success with similar time-slots for Doctor Who.
- Dave and BBC America also occasionally makes additional edits, such as beeping out swears that weren't beeped in the original BBC version. The most egregious example being during the £25,000 classic car challenge, when James's "Cock!" upon seeing Jeremy's time in the slalom is bleeped.
- Due to rights issues, some of the music is also changed after the BBC airings, which can completely kill a moment in some cases. In at least one case they edited the music on the iTunes distribution of an episode: in the Vietnam Special every shot of the "alternate transportation" (a gleaming motorcycle sporting US flags and painted in a red, white, and blue US flag motif) was accompanied by Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" as background music. In the iTunes release, this is changed to "The Star Spangled Banner". This can cause some problems if there's a running joke in an episode.
- Executive Meddling: One of Clarkson's pet peeves, often lampshaded with snarly references to Health & Safety.
- Fan Nickname:
- The presenters' In Series Nicknames (Jezza, Hamster, and Captain Slow) have been taken up by the fanbase. The presenters collectively are sometimes called the Top Gear Three, or TG3 for short.
- Also "White Stig," distinguished from the former "Black Stig" by the white color of his racing suit.
- Nico Nico Douga users tend to tag videos featuring May with "J｀・ω・)".
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: While a lot of the material is readily available on home video, a large portion of it is plagued by this.
- Old Top Gear is only available as a few VHS compilations.
- Series One is almost never repeated, and only released on DVD as a "Best Of" release that didn't include any of Jason Dawe's footage. The early series in general are rarely repeated due to the Early Installment Weirdness of them.
- Series 1-8 have never been released on DVD outside of "Best Of" releases. Series 10-20 and 23 are available in the UK, 10-22 in the USA and 9-12 as well as 17-24 are available in Germany. To make things worse, some of these releases use the 50 minute Edited for Syndication versions.
- The specials are all available in the UK (albeit with the first US Special missing 10 minutes), and many of them are extended cuts to boot. There are also several 'The Challenges' volumes and 'Best Of' releases with pieces from the unreleased series.
- Finally, everything from series six onward are available on VOD in the UK and USA.
- McLeaned: The original Stig, as a result of the driver revealing his identity. Black Stig was launched off of an aircraft carrier and never seen again.
- One of Us: All three men are fans of one big named franchise or another, not to mention a whole lot of other shows, movies, and music, and frequently sprinkle their talks with references to Star Trek, Star Wars, James Bond, Harry Potter, Thunderbirds, and Battlestar Galactica, among others. Clarkson in particular is a big Game of Thrones fan, and Hammond reveals his addiction to Downton Abbey and turns into a giggly fan-boy when Hugh Bonneville visits the show in Series 21.
- A running-gag through much of the series is Clarkson's love of the band Genesis much to Richard Hammond's distain. When guitarist Mike Rutherford comes to a barbeque to christen the new Reasonable Priced Car in Series 20, Hammond hides. Clarkson also gets under Hammond's skin when he blares "I Know What I Like" from Seconds Out over the PA of his car during the India Special.
- The Pete Best: Jason Dawe, who was a presenter on Top Gear for one season and then was replaced by James May.
- Promoted Fanboy: Richard Hammond was a diehard fan of Top Gear, a fan of Jeremy Clarkson even, back when he was still on satellite Television. How diehard? Well, he read every single Top Gear magazine, watched Top Gear every week, and he envied everybody working for Top Gear. Needless to say, he Jumped at the Call when the current format of Top Gear started auditioning for presenters, although the last thing he expected was to actually be chosen for the job. Well, look where he is now.
- Re-Cut: Many of the specials receive the extended Directors Cut treatment for their DVD release, even for a few challenges that weren't full-episode specials to begin with.
- Unfortunately, many of the DVD and VOD releases also use international versions that only last 50 minutes. On Dave, episodes are only 45 minutes long so adverts can be fitted into a one hour timeslot.
- Oddly, the first Great Adventures DVD set included an extended version of the Polar Challenge and a shortened version of the US Road Trip.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Being made by The BBC (who can effectively add any music they want) this pops up a lot throughout the show; although that itself can be a pain because it doesn't extent to repeats on other channels or oversea markets.
- Series 10: Episode 9 of Top Gear uses the song "Peril" from Halo 2 while James is testing the Jaguar S-Type.
- Series 21, episode 5 features the Mass Effect 3 song "An End Once and For All" when talking about the fall of custom built frames.
- They've also used David Arnold's score for Casino Royale (2006) and Woodkid's "Iron" that appeared in the advert for Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
- The Red Stapler: Inversion; for a show which spends most of its time talking about unaffordable supercars, Top Gear has a reputation as being able to destroy an everyday car's sales with a single negative word. Manufacturers will occasionally refuse to provide a car for the show to review, fearing they will hate it, but this tends to rile the presenters more, and they will often name and shame such cars before going on to review them "covertly" anyway:
- One notable case is the Vauxhall Vectra (Opel in Europe). The Vectra was trashed roundly by Clarkson and Vauxhall/Opel actually blamed him for their poor sales. BTW, for American car fans, the Vectra's American mutation is the Saturn Aura. Clarkson (in a 90s article): "There are only three objective reasons for not buying any particular car. It is unreliable; it is hideously expensive; it is a Vauxhall Vectra."
- The presenters spent an entire series mocking the forthcoming Dacia Sandero before it had even been finished. By the start of the next series, Renault had cancelled the UK release; of course, this was probably for "unrelated reasons". And who was complaining three years later in Romania that the Sandero was not sold in the UK? I'll give you three guesses but you'll need only one, if you read the Cargo Ship entry above. Poor guy wanted to take it home with him.
- Lampshaded in the American Muscle Cars special (San Francisco to the Bonneville Salt Flats); Richard Hammond noted that Chrysler refused to loan him a Dodge Challenger on the grounds that Top Gear always criticizes their cars. Hammond got around this by going to a local dealership and buying one. (Ironically, Hammond loved it.) During one episode May joked that certain dealerships have started asking "Do you know Jeremy Clarkson?" and denying entry to anyone who does.
- On the other hand, when the team demonstrated the durability of the Toyota Hilux pickup truck, Toyota released a new model, named in honour of the achievement, called The Invincible. In fact, there's a television commercial in the U.S. for the American equivalent of the Hilux, the Toyota Tacoma, which features footage from that episode.note They don't mention that it's Top Gear, only that the stunt was done by "some automotive experts in Europe" (grossly underestimating Top Gear's American fanbase and its ability to recognize the scene).
- Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Clarkson was always a magnet for controversy and had to repeatedly apologize for things he said on air. The last straw was when he verbally and physically abused a producer because hot food was not available at a hotelnote . The BBC announced that it wasn't going to renew Clarkson's contract and Hammond and May announced that they would be leaving in solidarity.
- Screwed by the Network: An inadvertent example. The late-2009 season was put up in its usual Sunday evening time slot, despite the fact that it would be competing against The X Factor's results show and I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. Result? The season got utterly torn apart in the ratings, posting audience figures that would have been considered embarrassing for the original version of the show, and helped fuel reports that it was on the verge of being cancelled. As a result, the BBC have announced that there won't be any more seasons broadcast in the autumn, and that in future, there will be one season just after the turn of the year, and one in the summer. This was demonstrated further when series 19, which would have been aired in the summer, got pushed to winter 2013 due to conflicts with the 2012 Summer Olympics.
- Take That!: Clarkson and May have both alluded to their leaving the show:
—Clarkson: [on a Segway] ...back in the spring, as you probably remember, I suddenly became... unbusy."
- Clarkson, in an UK Amazon Fire Stick ad:
—May: [concerning getting rid of the Morris Minor] "But actually, would we really notice? Would it in fact give us a chance to move on? It might be a little bit as if a very popular and well-liked television programme suddenly came to an end. Everybody would think it was a disaster. But after a while, they'd get over it."
- May, during the first episode of the second series of his show Cars Of The People:
- Technology Marches On: The "flappy-paddle" gearbox. When Top Gear was first relaunched, the presenters were all unimpressed by and dismissive of the idea. Then, as the tech improved, they started praising a few individual ones for being better than most. Nowadays they tend to describe them, more often than not, as an option worth considering.
- Too Soon:
- The show received criticism for broadcasting a feature in which they demonstrated the importance of taking care on level crossings by crashing a locomotive into a car, shortly after a train crash had made the news. Some thought it was an ideal time to broadcast it with rail safety high in the public consciousness. Others thought it would have caused offense to someone at any time.note
- This trope was intentionally flaunted when Richard Hammond returned to the show after his near-fatal high-speed crash. Jeremy Clarkson even made a point of saying "speed kills" and asked Hammond if he was "now a mental".
- Clarkson drew massive criticism for his "Change gear, change gear, change gear, murder a prostitute" joke in the Lorry Driving Challenge, having made it mere weeks after a lorry driver was arrested and charged in connection with a string of prostitute murders. It's well known that Clarkson is a huge fan of Too Soon jokes and uses them a lot on purpose just to wind the press up, but the reaction continued to be that he went too far with this one.
- Unintentional Period Piece: In a rather harsh example of this trope, on at least two occasions the presenters have been through a peaceful country on one of their adventures mere months before it exploded into violence - first Syria and then Ukraine.
- What Could Have Been: James May was originally planning to present the Vampire rocket-car segment but had to back out due to a schedule conflict. Particularly frightening because Hammond said he only survived the car sliding upside down at 280 mph because when the roll cage dug in, his short stature reduced the forces on his head and neck. Hammond is 5'7". May is 6'. On the other hand, if May had been presenting that segment, he probably wouldn't have taken the car for an additional last-minute run.
- Writer Revolt: After his "fracas" with a producer, Clarkson returned to work fully believing that everyone could simply forget about the incident and move on. The entire staff, however, apparently refused to let bygones be bygones and demanded that Clarkson report himself to the BBC for review.