Marty Brown of Season 8, who after singing a dreadful performance of "You're Still the One" in the quarterfinals,note He probably got too emotional from watching the intro package before his performance. got to move on to the semifinals anyway due to having a huge amount of support from the country community. AGT fans were not pleased with this. After his semifinals performance, in which Marty sang a lot better but played it completely safe, he lost to the other country singer mentioned directly below for a spot in the Top 12.
Jimmy Rose is also this because he got the last performance spot in the live shows twice, which means that he was the freshest in America's minds both times, while also getting the next-to-last spot of the Top 12 performances just before the superior Cami Bradley. This all gives him a bit of an unfair advantage, as he has now made it to the finals partly because of these lucky spots. Also, like Brown above, he has a large amount of support from the Deep South. He ended up in third place for Season 8.
"B-Double O- T-Y" singer Tone the Chiefrocca is either highly entertaining or a complete waste of space, depending on the viewer. Doesn't help that Mel B used her wild card pick to save him for the semifinals.
Contemporary pop and country singers in general can fall under this trope. They've won 6 out of the 11 seasonsnote 7 if you count Terry Fator and his singing puppets., and there have been at leastfourothershows that ran during AGT's run that were built specifically with them in mind. On one side you have those who say "This show is not meant to be another American Idol. Send the singers to one of those other shows and let new entertainment shine for once!" On the other side you have those who say "This is a talent show. Singing is a talent. Let it be."
The replacement of Piers Morgan with Howard Stern. While Howard is much more fun than Piers and brings his own brand of humor and enjoyment to the show, he has much of the same ego problems and has already become the "head" judge of the show. You either embrace his sense of humor or you hate him for his arrogance.
Howie absolutely loved "Those Funny Little People" in Season 6, while Piers absolutely loathed them and Sharon was in the middle, finding it entertaining but not really Vegas-worthy. However, a major reason Howie loved them is precisely because Piers hated them — he jokes when he brought the act back as a Wild Card that he didn't see much of the act because he was busy watching Piers watch the act and was just as entertained by that.
Howie is a bit of a base breaker as a judge. Some love him for his fun-loving Nice Guy nature to counterbalance the more "serious" judge(s) on the panel (Piers or Howard). Others don't like him for not taking the show as seriously as he could be, especially in regard to his insistence that So Bad, It's Good acts actually have a chance in being in the live rounds.
Season 9 brought Maggie Lane, an opera singer who came on-stage wearing a trenchcoat, and in the middle of her song untied the sash and dropped the coat to reveal she was wearing a bikini. Some applaud her for being a talented singer and being proud of her body, others find she resorted to the gimmick of sex appeal to help get through instead of relying on her talent.
Season 11's winner, Grace Vanderwaal, is probably one of the most divisive winners yet. While many find her cute and her reliance on original songs to be quite refreshing considering the show's preference of cover music, the more vocal detractors have accused the producers of favoritism by giving her more screen time than any other contestant. Case in point, during the finale, she was smack-dab in the middle of the stage with everyone else on either side of her. Then there's the fact that she's only 12 years old, which the producers make sure you were reminded of after every performance, causing many a discussion about her being too young to headline a show in Vegas (considering previous breakout contestant Jackie Evancho was rumored to have been denied her win because of her age). And there's also the fact she beat out the very popular, but less divisive The Clarivoyants.
Season 12's Chase Goerhing. The judges love him. The fanbase at large mocks him for his "Nice Guy" shtick and constant whining about girls.
Complacent Gaming Syndrome: In a sense, as it applies to America's voting habits. It's been noted on occasion in-show that singers and dancers tend to find more success on this show than variety acts do. In fact, five out of ten winners were middle-aged male singers (Terry Fator doing so through his puppets), a sixth winner was a dancer, and the seventh and eighth winners and many second-placers are also singers of some kind.
A major aversion in Season 7 in which for the first time ever in series history, none of the finalists are singers in any way, although we still got a music act in William Close and a dance act in The Untouchables. By the way, the season's winning act was a dog act, which is also an American weakness. The U.S. just loves them doggies! (Compare with Britain, who in the same year voted a dog act over a singing duo.)
Averted again in Season 9. The finals were heavy on singers and there was an acrobat/dance troupe as well, but they all got beat by a magician.
Season 12 was this in spades. With six of the ten finalists being singing acts.
There is a lot in the audition rounds, but the real Crazy Awesome acts are the ones who survive to when America votes. Look at Season 5's semifinals. Rock-climbing dancers! Kite-flying as a performance art! Guys who play music with lightning! A blacklight performance troupe! And...however you describe Prince Poppycock.
Hannibal Means (also Season 5) really embodies the crazy with rainbow muumuus, the (knitted!) hats, weird warm-ups...and the awesome? The man can really sing.
Pity he didn't make it further. He could just stand on-stage and talk and people would still watch him.
Professor Fig from Season 6. He walks on stage in a purple sequined suit and a cat on his shoulder and it got weirder.
Season 6 also gives us the Kinetic King, who invents Rube Goldberg machines that explode and collapse on themselves and speaks with a distinctly Minnesotan accent with a very dry sense of humor.
Dancing Bear: Some acts can make it past auditions and occasionally past the quarterfinal on the basis of being one, but they never get very far. This is especially notable in the case of the more subpar child acts like Future Funk.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: In Season 6, Howie advises a couple acts that this is basically a popularity contest and they should adjust accordingly. For male pole dancer Steven Retchless, this seemed to just mean rein in the more flamboyant parts a bit; but when he gave this advice to Dani Shay (aka the Justin Bieber-looking girl) it came off more as "Don't Be Yourself, be more of a cliché inoffensive singer."
Glurge: Heaping amounts. The show's editing is particularly predictable in how they milk this trope; if the next performer has a sad, emotional story of some sort, you can rest assured they'll go through without even having to know what the act is. Even performers who don't have a sad backstory during the initial auditions will be drawn into it later on. By the time of the final rounds they'll be talking about how inspirational and hopeful their progress has been for their families and friends who have supported them all the way and they want to win so badly to realize their dreams and support their family.
Christina and Ali Christensen, two decent-but-not-great singers who made it into the Top 10 on the basis of their sob story. You see, they're SISTERS with CYSTIC FIBROSIS and they're GOING TO DIE and Christina's ONLY THIRTEEN and they're SO INSPIRATIONAL.
Subverted in Season 7 with Tim Poe, who had a bad speech impediment from brain damage he got during military service in Afghanistan. It came out after his audition episode aired that this was a big fat lie, though the show was able to sweep it under the rug because he had been eliminated in Vegas Week anyway.
Also in Season 7, young mariachi singer (and his band) Sebastien "El Charro de Oro" de la Cruz. He's pretty much saved himself in the competition by wooing Sharon over for her to save him as a Wild Card. Then, after doing a mariachi version of Frank Sinatra's classic "Theme from New York, New York" in said round, he pretty much won America's votes not only with that song but by sobbing that he had to miss his little brother's birthday just for his performance.
Again in Season 7, contortionist dancer Turf's backstory as a homeless street performer is mentioned more than his actual moves. Somewhat subverted since he has since moved to Las Vegas after his audition, and is living a much better life since he makes more money street performing on the Vegas Strip.
The Untouchables (7 yet again) are also guilty of this. Even though those kids are definitely very good if not professional dancers, they cry after each performance while being praised by the judges and the audience. In fact, they won America over to send them to the finals by having their youngest member, an 8-year-old girl named Ruby, say that she's crying because she's so happy. However, it was later subverted when news broke out that they've been causing a ruckus at the Newark hotel they've been staying at for the finals. Then, after their finals performance, they subverted this trope again by basically laughing it off after Howie mentions their incident. This probably helped play a role in why they ended up in last place among the finalists.
Season 8 gave us Deanna DellaCiopaa, who made sure to remind everyone that this was her "last chance" and cry before and after her performances. She got the boot fairly early.
Drew Lynch from Season 10 has a terrible stutter due to a vocal cord injury, and is a stand-up comedian who uses a Self-Deprecation style of humor. While his jokes are mediocre and sometimes difficult to understand, he's just so inspiring and has so much courage to perform on live television like this, that he made it to the finals over numerous superior acts.
Calysta Bevier from Season 11 was a pop singer who survived cancer, and America is reminded of her story in her pre-performance package every time. She even got Simon Cowell's golden buzzer, but got the boot in the semifinals.
Angelica Hale. Who comes off like a badly written Disney Channel character, with an almost teeth-itchingly "cute" shtick every package.
Season 2 was a lot better than the first in many ways. A better idea of how elimination was working, not wasting time calling contestants from the audience, replacing Regis Philbin and Brandy with Jerry Springer and Sharon Osborne respectively, less buzzer BS (Brandy hitting the other people's buzzers on a burlesque act was just disrespectful), etc. Terry Fator, the season's winner, is also arguably the most successful act to come out of the show so far; in 2008, he signed a long-term contract with the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and has been performing there ever since. It was a nine figure contract (he won a barely seven figure prize, $1,000,000, from AGT).
Season 5 managed to grow the beard to the point where even Vote For The Worst members were won over despite the site relentlessly bashing it previously.
Season 7, which was the debut of Howard Stern as a judge, had much less singers moving on in the live rounds (not to say that there weren't any good singers that season) and a complete absence of them in the finals, allowing for more variety in talent. It may also be a sign of America's fatigue with singers on the show, especially now that NBC has a hit singing competition of their own.
Season 8 dropped the YouTube and the Wild Cards rounds in favor of increasing the amount of quarterfinalists to sixty. While dropping the latter round and having the judges pick just one wild card semifinalist each was a questionable decision, especially since their wild cards didn't even make the Top 12, the series did make the right decision to drop the YouTube round as not only is it more fair to those who've been competing throughout the season, but also that the MySpace/YouTube rounds almost always sucked.
Ho Yay: Howie and Howard in late Season 8. They even wound up kissing, though they both looked ready to throw up afterward - even so, that didn't stop them from imitating Jack and Rose from Titanic (1997) the next week during Forte's performance of "My Heart Will Go On". Since then, the two occasionally play it intentionally for the laughs.
Just Here for Godzilla: As with a lot of talent TV shows, lots of viewers just watch to see their favorite judge or some watch only the auditions to see all the bad acts.
Whenever kid ballroom dancer Ruby Castronote Appeared in Season 7 as part of the Untouchables and Season 8 as part of the duo Ruby and Jonas talked.
Detractors of Season 11's winner Grace Vanderwaal claim this, mainly due to her sounding like she was in the middle of puberty during the live shows.
The show's addiction to "Live While We're Young". Expect to hear it at least twice an episode, especially when kid acts get montages.
"I've never seen anything like this!" and the several variations thereof. Despite very obviously seeing similar acts before, the judges are quite addicted to that line.
Nightmare Fuel: Many daredevil acts alone are this, especially Dan Myers' Sword Swallowing act where David buzzed him while in the middle of the act.
Brad Byers swallowing nine swords. See Squick down below.
Horror-themed dance troupe West Springfield Dance Academy were one of the few non-dangerous acts to provide this.
Reality Subtext: In the first episode back after Season 7's break for the Olympic Games, Nick's introduced Sharon as "the irreplaceable Sharon Osbourne". Sharon had announced during the interim that she was leaving the show.
Retroactive Recognition: RuPaul's Drag Race fans will recognize Season 8's Derrick Barry, who appeared on Season 3 of AGT, and Season 7's Kennedy Davenport, who briefly appeared in Season 8's Vegas rounds.
Seasonal Rot: Season 12 to many. Starting with replacing the beloved Nick Cannon with Tyra Banks, then with many fan-favorite acts being eliminated in Judge Cuts, an overabundance of singers in the semifinals round, the dynamic between the judges getting very raunchy (like throwing water on each other or making a joke towards Mel B's marriage), Character Shilling that was beyond excessive, a very predictable winner, and said winner being a child nonetheless resulted in a season is considered by many to be incredibly weak.
Shocking Elimination: Especially in Season 4's Vegas round. Kari Callin, Tallan Noble Latz, Ciana Pelekai, The Spiritual Harmonizers, Rashida Jolley, and Kelli Glover, just to name a few.
The Season 4 act Acrodunk was even stated by the judges to be one of the best acts in the competition and was almost certainly the most entertaining to watch of the season. Even the judges were shocked by their elimination.
Season 5 semi-finals, week one: Four acts are called to the stage, among them season favorites ArcAttack, decidedly-less-favorite-but-still-likable Future Funk, as well as creepy magician Dan Sperry and mediocre singer Kristina Young. Guess who got through? None of them! Even the judges and Nick couldn't hide their "WTF?" reactions.
Subverted in the Season 6 semifinals. Anna Graceman and Landau Murphy Jr. were called to the stage during the results, and it was announced that Anna went through. And then, when it seemed like Landau was being exit-interviewed, Nick Cannon told him that he got through too. Cue a huge surprised look from everyone.
Season 7's Vegas round eliminated fan-favorite opera singer, Andrew De Leon (who cracked under the pressure and failed to complete his performance). It's shocking enough that fans started a petition to get him back on the show via the Wild Card episode. He was later saved by Howie for the Wild Card round and made it as far as the semifinals.
Speaking of Season 7, the fourth quarterfinal had way too many acts that deserved the four spots, as acknowledged by the judges. It wasn't as much of a Shocking Elimination as a shocking lineup that made shocking eliminations inevitable.
Season 8's live show eliminations started with Nick calling three acts on stage and announcing that none of them were going through. Twice, eliminating six acts before announcing someone who was voted into the semifinals.
There was also two acts (Alexander Magala, an acrobatic sword swallower, and Ciana Pelekai, formerly one of Season 4's shock eliminations, as shown above) losing to Marty Brown, who had completely blown it the night before.
The elimination of crowd and judge favorites, the acrobats KriStef Brothers, while another weak country singer, Jimmy Rose, remained in the competition. In fact, the Top 12 show itself felt weird, with a perfectly block split between the first six acts (all eliminated) and the final six acts (all advanced).
Season 10 saw the elimination of Siro-A in the semi-finals, after many fans and reviewers had pegged as the favorites to win the season.
Jayna Brown from Season 11 was seen as a lock for the finals after putting on a stellar performance in semi-finals which was also probably the most warmly received acts by the judges of the night, and she got eliminated in semi-finals
Season 12's Just Jerk Dance Crew. A fan and judge favorite, they were knocked out of the running surprisingly early on.
So Bad, It's Good: Too many contestants to count, which plays a small but significant role in the show's success. Some of these kinds of acts have even made it past the auditions.
So Okay, It's Average: Season 10's Derek Hughes, a self-proclaimed "Stand-Up Magician", combines comedy and magic, when in reality... he isn't too fantastic at either. He somehow makes it into the final 10, (likely due to his endearing family and how he dedicated his semifinal performance to his sons), using up a slot that could have gone to someone like Freelusion or Sharon Irving. And then, in the FINALS, he does a simple rope trick! One of the most basic magic tricks of all! Howard Stern even remarks he was considering buzzing the performance.
In season 10, one salsa group's performance saw some difficulties after one of the male dancers popped his knee completely out. As the medic examines the injury and states that it must be splinted, you can see the dancer crying, and it makes you feel really bad for him.
You can't help but feel very sorry for genuinely talented acts that crack under the intense pressure of the callback rounds, causing the judges to eliminate them on the grounds that they're not ready for the big stage. Particularly for well-loved fan favorites such as countertenor singer Andrew De Leon (season 7) and transvestite comedian Scott Heierman (season 10).
12-year-old Merrick Hanna auditioned in Season 12 with an interpretive dance to Alec Benjamin's "I Bulit a Friend". It is POWERFUL. It's bad enough if you hadn't heard the song before (and, let's face it, you probably hadn't) and don't expect the ending, but seeing the kid play the robot gives it a new dimension of emotion. The robot at the end when he's dying, grasping at the air, wanting to see his friend one more time... It moved Simon to apparently show the tape to his record label executives, to test him for actual music videos...
The story of Kechi Okwuchi (Season 12). When she was only 16 and living in her native Nigeria, she was in a horrible plane crash. She was one of two survivors out of 110 passengers. That's not even Glurge, it's just...sad. And if that doesn't get you, her performance of "Thinking Out Loud" will.
The tribute paid to Brandon Rogers doubled as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, but when you realized he died before he had a chance to make it to the live shows...
When one act in a season proves to be popular and makes it very far in the competition, expect many a copycat to show up in the following seasons.
The Greg Wilson performed a stand-up routine in front of the judges in Season 8... that he directly plagiarized from comedian Frank Nicotero, who was the warm-up man that day. Unsurprisingly, Nicotero had a nuclear-level reaction both to that and the judges OK'ing him to go through (besides Howie, who picked up on the plagiarism and called Wilson out when he denied he copied it.) The producers had to stop taping and quickly banned Wilson from the Vegas rounds, as well as cut his performance entirely from the show.
Uncanny Valley: Jackie Evancho can invoke this. Seeing a professional-level opera singer's voice come from a ten-year-old girl is, for some reason, creepy.
It was a similar situation with Bianca Ryan in Season 1.
And also Those Funny Little People. Despite being fairly popular, some people, including Howie (who brought them back in the Wild Card) find them scary because of their odd movements and facial features.
Turf, the contortionist dancer who auditioned in season 7, is able to twist his body in unusual ways. It's almost unbelievable to see him fold his shoulder blade to the front of his body while twisting his arms around.
Darci Lynne Farmer from Season 12 takes the issues with Evancho and squares it by adding ventriloquism, including her eyes bulging out on especially operatic notes.
The judges letting The Greg Wilson advance in Season 8, even though it was clear that he was performing with plagiarized material. The producers later stepped in disqualified him.
As far as actual performances go, attempting to audition as an Elvis impersonator dressed in his late-life Vegas clothing is a guaranteed way to identify yourself as a dunce to the judges and audience as soon as you step onto the stage and into their view. One Elvis wannabe from Season 2 was booed right away as soon as he appeared, with the judges doing a Face Palm, and got buzzed before he could perform. When he was allowed to sing, he lasted 5 seconds.
Another instance from that season was a mime who appeared in the third episode. He begins dancing to "You Can't Touch This".
You'd Expect: For him to do some mime-work to the song.
Instead: He begins singing. Piers immediately buzzes him, and the other two follow shortly afterwards when his appalling singing voice turns them off. Piers rips him a new one for it.
The Woobie: Prince Poppycock became this in many, many fans' eyes after Piers buzzed him during the finals and then continued trashing him after his performance.