The "inspiring" work the girls are doing by modeling cannot be understated according to the show. Tragic backstories are played up at every opportunity, too.
In accordance with its theme, Cycle 13 was renamed America's Next Top Petite Model because all the models were under 5'7". While it's true girls that short are not common in the modeling world, the girls' height was beaten over the audience's head all the time.
To wit, the first two photoshoots the girls of Cycle 13 did? Recreating baby pictures (because babies, like all of the girls of the cycle, are tiny!), and then posing (topless and with Godiva Hair) with horses and jockeys. You know. Because jockeys... are short.
Badass Decay: Some of the returning girls during the All-Star cycle suffered from this.
Nigel: (To the panel) "Cycle 1, I looked at all pictures of her (Shannon) and there's this fire. Now, she just gone bland."
Blatant Lies: There has yet to be a winner on the original (or any) version who can claim to be the next Cindy Crawford or Kate Upton. Apparently the fashion industry really doesn't like being told who the "next big thing" is, and the show is a kiss of death for a lot of the contestants.
Cycles 7 and 17's respective winners CariDee English and Lisa D'Amato are this trope personified.
Creator's Pet: There are contestants every cycle that Tyra and the judges loves gushing at. It can be argued that the alleged predetermined winners are this by default.
Basically the first 2 cycles when guys were introduced, where Tyra didn't hide the fact that she wanted a guy to win. The reason why the first backfired was Jourdan turned out to be too good at modeling. Though the second was acceptable since the Top 2 (Both male) were deserving of the win. With that said, however, Tyra lavished attention on eventual winner, Keith, and some believe that the suspension of fan vote in the finale (that caused the elimination of fan favourite, Lenox) was to ensure his victory.
Many feel that Saleisha (cycle 9 winner) and Whitney (cycle 10 winner) were especially egregious examples of this; Saleisha had worked with Tyra in the past (and was mediocre at best, despite being given high praise). Whitney was the plus-sized winner Tyra had been craving forever, and landed the title with only one "best of the week" photo and four bottom 2 appearances... over someone with five "best of the week" call-outs and no bottom 2 appearances.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Every cycle has at least one. For the show as a whole, there's Miss J.
Elyse Sewell in Cycle 1.
Mercedes Scelba-Shorte in Cycle 2.
Amanda Swafford, Norelle Van-Herk and Toccara Jones in Cycle 3.
Kahlen Rondot, Brittany Brower and Michelle Deighton in Cycle 4.
Nik Pace and Kim Stolz in Cycle 5.
Nearly the entire cast of Cycle 6.
The Babin twins and AJ Stewart in Cycle 7.
Natasha Galkina and Samantha Francis in Cycle 8.
Heather Kuzmich in Cycle 9.
Anya Rozova, Fatima Siad and Katarzyna Dolinska in Cycle 10.
Analeigh Tipton and Lauren Brie Harding in Cycle 11.
Allison Harvard in Cycle 12.
Nicole Fox and Laura Kirkpatrick in Cycle 13.
Raina Hein, Alexandra Underwood and Jessica Serfaty in Cycle 14.
Kayla Ferrel and Jane Randall in Cycle 15.
Molly O'Connell and Hannah Jones in Cycle 16.
Dominique Reighard in Cycle 17 (All-Stars). Allison, Laura, Kayla and Brittany are here too, but Dominique surprisingly becomes a fan-favorite this cycle.
Sophie Sumner, Catherine Thomas, AzMarie Livingston and Ashley Brown in Cycle 18.
Leila Goldkuhl, Nastasia Scott and Brittany Brown in Cycle 19.
Cory Hindorff in Cycle 20.
Will Jardell in Cycle 21.
Nyle Dimarco and Lacey Rogers in Cycle 22. Also, while he didn't get much spotlight and his portfolio was otherwise decent, Justin Kim is one of the most well-liked contestants (not just for this cycle) for being a good-lookingreasonableNice Guy.
During Cycle 1, Elyse won a challenge earning a visit from a loved one. Her boyfriend was allowed to stay for a short period of time at the contestants' hotel room, where they shared some cute scenes. Around 2008, said boyfriend allegedly assaulted her in a hotel.
Cycle 4 runner-up Kahlen was told by Jay Manuel that she looks like supermodel Carmen Kass. After the show, Kahlen had a hard time booking jobs because of her Celebrity Resemblance which lead her to eventually leaving the industry.
During the All-Stars Cycle, Dominique laughed at the idea that her curse is being photographed by resident judge Nigel Barker (She was referring to her boot in Cycle 10 where he was the photographer. Nigel photographed the girls earlier). At the end of the episode, she wasn't laughing at all.
During the tenth episode of Cycle 11, Elina tells Sheena that she had a dream about the two of them crying, which Sheena laughs off. They end up in the bottom 2 at judging and Sheena is eliminated.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Despite being treated as a joke in the American media, it has managed to spawned at least 120 International Versions, and produced working models.
Ham and Cheese: Jay Manuel was this in Cycle 14 (episode "America's Next Top Vampire").
Adrianne's victory. Especially showing how proud Tyra was on it.
Tyra: "Adrianne is the present. Adrianne is the future."
Adrianne: "I'm gonna have a good life now. My family's gonna have a good life now. A lot is going to change, and it kicks so much ass."
The lyrics of "I'm Here", Angelea's Leitmotif during the All-Stars Cycle, was about her being a Plucky Girl most of her life. At the cycle's finale, she was disqualified and wasn't even present during final judging. What's even worse for her is that she's also the alleged winner. These are words from the song..
During Cycle 4, Michelle and two other girls note (the eventual finalists) lost a challenge and had to sleep outdoors as consequence (the challenge winner will choose two contestants to take with her to spend the night at a luxury cottage). Michelle had no qualms about it, saying she watches Survivor. About three years later, Michelle will marry Survivor's infamous villain Johnny Fairplay.
During the pilot episode of Britain's Next Top Model Cycle 5, Sophie Sumner was wearing the US flag as a cape during a runway challenge.
Taye Diggs shows up for a challenge with the girls in Cycle 3 and the following conversation becomes hilarious today as the woman he was married to at the time (IdinaMenzel) is now much more of a household name:
Anamaria's pretty unpleasant to be around, but she has an obvious eating disorder.
It's hard not to feel for Alexandria in her appearance on the first live judging in Cycle All-Stars, where she is cussed by someone. And being dissed by most recap sites (Notably Homorazzi & Buddy Tv) despite being friendly with the contestants in this season.
Chris H. manages to rub every other contestant the wrong way at some point during C20. But you can't help but feel sorry for him when you learn of his past, which involves an abusive mother and undoubtedly not enough love.
Les Yay: With girls living on the same house for over a month, it's quite inevitable to be "close".
Narm Charm: The show delights in this. There's a lot of crying going on, and so over the top that it's downright charming.
Overshadowed by Controversy: Saleisha "Scandaleisha" Stowers must have had a hard time enjoying her win of Cycle 9. Despite being pretty, bubbly, delivering mostly good and decent pictures and being far from that cycle's Alpha Bitch (a title which belongs to Bianca), most people only remember her history with Tyra.
Replacement Scrappy: Rob Evans, Johnny Wujek and Bryanboy for Nigel Barker and the two Jays for a number of fans.
Natalie from Cycle 12 is this all over. She explained to Teyona and Aminat that she grew up in "a diffrent place than they did," and wasn't used to chores . Later, on the episode where she was eliminated, she complained about how "ugly" Brazil was, and while others were happy about doing a photoshoot in a Brazilian ghetto, Natalie complained about the poor people.
The Elimination Houdini always get this treatment, especially those with lackluster performances who advanced over consistent and fan-favorite contestants. Ann over Toccarra and Norelle in Cycle 3, Whitney over Katarzyna in Cycle 10 and Angelea over Dominique and Laura in All-Stars are examples.
Tahlia from Cycle 12 is almost universally hated by fans for her whiny personality and lack of modelling skills.
Judge Kelly Cutrone isn't well liked by many fans not only because of the Louise incident, but because she underrates and unappreciative of some contestants talents (Annaliese and Catherine. AzMarie at the time of her boot). Turning her back on Laura, her favorite contestant, in the Cycle 18 finale didn't help either.
17 (All Stars), despite the returning "Fan Favourites note Who were more Bitches", the majority of the photo shoots rather weak for All Stars. Worst of all, most the girls defrosted and were rather nice towards each other, so the infighting between them were generally low.
Surprisingly Improved Sequel: It is universally agreed that Cycle 2 was superior to Cycle 1. Then comes Cycle 3, which is arguably an Even Better Sequel to the former. In fact, majority of the succeeding cycles are considered superior to Cycle 1, though it has become a Cult Classic to the show's fans.
Unnecessary Makeover: Usually on Makeover Day, there's at least one. Most of the time, they do try to find hair colors and styles that better compliment the girls' complexions and bone structure, but every once in a while, a girl that already had a really pretty and flattering hairstyle will have it completely changed simply for the sake of every girl having equally drastic makeovers at the same time.
Most people felt that Cycle 10's winner Whitney Thompson was unqualified for the win at that time. Post show, she is one of the contestants who at least have moderate success in the fashion industry. Although it's more as an entrepreneur than a model.
What an Idiot: When given the opportunity to meet a major fashion designer, Nicole Panattoni declined, because she did not feel like it.
Also for what happened to her in the All Stars Cycle. The contestants were challenged to write lyrics for their own song and perform it in a video. Allison wrote a song about her feelings about her father's death... only to find out later that footage of Tyra dancing around with a feather boa would be spliced into the video and she had to add the words "pot ledom is top model spelled backwards" into the song. Ouch.