These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Trev: Yeah, I wanna see your delicate touch again.
Adaptation Displacement: Even in the UK, the American version of the show tends to be more renowned than its UK-based forerunner, which was basically just a standard-issue "celebrity cooking challenge" show, except with a slightly more abusive chef involved (Ramsay initially, and then Marco-Pierre White in later seasons).
Starting in season 2, at least one per season:
Season 2 had Rachel, who Ramsay had acknowledged as being a strong leader on the team... and almost immediately fell apart after Heather got transferred to the blue team, ending up in 7th pace ultimately. Garrett also did comparatively well in the first few services, but got gradually worse as the season went on, and then crashed and burned in the first black team service (may have done even worse had Chef Ramsay not decided to switch him to a different station early on), landing in 5th place.
Season 3 had Melissa, who was the Best of the Worst after the red team's losing first service and appeared to be a strong chef and leader, but her ego and attitude took over, and she, too, ended up in 7th place.
Season 4 had Louross, who was the only chef to not be a complete joke in the blue team's first service, which stands to this day as one of the worst ever on the show. But, his teammates gradually got better, and he gradually got worse, and he too came in 7th place.
Season 5 had Giovanni, who set a decay record for this show; he was a consistent performer in almost every service until the first black team service, when he fell apart spectacularly, by messing up all of his food, accidentally burning Robert's hand, and talking back to Ramsay. This led to him finishing 6th.
Robert in seasons 5 AND 6. In Season 5, he was one of the show's leading contenders, but pulled out due to health reasons. He returned the next season, but Ramsay realised that he was not as good as before (his health problems came back as well). He was eliminated in the seventh episode, in only 10th place despite making the final 5 before.
Season 6 had Van, who was a very strong contender early on. But his last two services, he really sunk on the fish station (despite being a seafood chef) and was the first black jacket to be eliminated. Tenille started off weak, but Took a Level in Badass. Then she fell apart on her last night and got eliminated without even being nominated.
Ed in season 7 managed to rally the teams together in the first service, leading to the show's ONLY successful opening night thus far. But, his mistakes kept getting more egregious, and he got the boot in 6th place.
Season 8's Trev zig zagged on this trope a lot. Started off as strong, then became weaker when on the red team. When he got transferred back to the blue team, he bounced back and managed to finish a service by himself. Then the black jackets came on and his performance started to dip and he became very inconsistent.
Krupa from Season 9. She was by far the best performing cook in the first two episodes, and considered the early front-runner. After the second service though, her performances started getting worse and worse, until she got booted out in 11th place. It goes From Bad to Worse when she came back for the finale, where she did such a horrible job that she had been relegated to doing the desserts by the end of the night. But not soon enough as her poor performance killed Will's chance of winning.
Brian from Season 10 looked like he was going to make it to the finals, then his performance sharply dropped on his last few services, his performance on the meat station was so bad that Barbie had to step in and take over. He was eliminated in 7th place.
Zach from Season 11. He seemed to have a lot of promise at first as he was only one of two left in the blue kitchen on the first night, yet managed to finish service. After a few episodes, he started to degrade however. By the time he left, he had officially become The Load for Jon and Ja'Nel. Anthony was also a noticeable example. He had some nice signs of promise at first, being the only consistent cook besides Jon on the blue team. But then his performance sunk on his final week as he scored 0 out of 4 on the blind taste test and did badly during his final dinner service.
Several contests can split the fanbase on their likability. A few examples are Season 5's Ben, Season 8's Jillian, and Season 6's Tennille.
Season 2's Keith and Virginia. Keith was actually fairly popular for most of the season. But a lot of his fans jumped ship when he Took a Level in Jerkass. You either saw Virginia as cute and endearing or as a weak chef who didn't deserve to go as far as she did.
Robert. A lot of fans like him for his passion, energy, heart, and comic relief. But there are some fans who see him as an arrogant ass. It doesn't help that some of his haters only saw him in Season 6.
As the main page mentions, Amanda from Season 6 is also a Base Breaker. You either find her ditziness cute or incredibly annoying and obnoxious.
For at a time, Season 11's Mary became one. Some believed that she had clawed herself out of the scrappy heap and improved leaps and bounds, to the point where she rivaled top contenders like Ja'Nel and Jon, but others could not shake their first impressions of her and saw her overall performance as too weak thanks to her early troubles, and her irritating voice continued to grate on many viewer's nerves even if they did like her. It peaked when it was revealed that she was one of two finalists, pushing fan favorite Jon out of the finale and denying numerous fans the Ja'Nel vs. Jon showdown they had been hoping for the past few months. While she lost most of her Base Breaker status when she proved in the finale that it hadn't been a fluke and that she actually was capable of running a kitchen, she would have likely stayed in this territory if she had actually beaten Ja'Nel, the other fan favorite.
Both Season 1 finalists, Michael and Ralph, suffer from this. Especially Michael. His fans see him as one of the most Bad Ass chefs in the shows history, his detractors accuse him of being a Karma Houndini and Manipulative Bastard who had no right to win the season. Ralph also gets this due to being a man with major Small Name, Big Ego problems, albeit an attitude he backed up in spades when in the kitchen. The fact that both sabotaged fan favorite Elsie doesn't help matters.
During one dinner service in season 10, Royce gets an earful from Chef Ramsey due to his performance on garnishes. Cue to Royce crying in a hilariously melodramatic manner, and tearfully apologizing to Ramsey for no cooking his mash right. Then it cuts back to the dinner service as if nothing happened and Royce isn't shown being emotional about it for the rest of the episode.
Creator's Pet: Ramsay has been accused of showing blatant favoritism towards certain contestants. Probably the most notable example was Virginia from Season 2, who was consistently bad during dinner service, only performing on the line well once on the fish station. Ramsay eliminating Keith instead of her led Keith to openly accuse Ramsay of having "a hard-on for Virginia."
To be fair, many viewers thought of Sara as a Creator's Pet and an Elimination Houdini by that point. Sara had a habit of screwing over her teammates, including Virginia (by making Ramsay believe that Virginia had lied to her when she didn't), and on top of that, she acted like a bitch (even talking back to Ramsay during one service), and despite being put up for elimination more times then anyone aside from Virginia, Sara kept shifting blame over to someone else to avoid being eliminated herself to reach the final four. True, Virginia's performance in the third-to-last service was less then stellar, but she consistently performed better then Sara for most of that season.
Also Nona from Season 8, toward whom Ramsay started showing very obvious favoritism after she aced the "palate test" challenge — this was exemplified in the following service, where Nona insulted Ramsay to his face and he responded by taking her to one side and calmly explaining that she was being rude. It may actually have been justified somewhat in Nona's case, since she was without much doubt the best contestant from that season (the only real competition being from Jillian, who wasn't a very good leader, and Russell, who was a total douchebag).
Of course, he only took Nona to one side after having thrown her out of the kitchen, the only one on the red team to get thrown out that night.
Designated Villain: In-universe example with Virginia from Season 2, who was despised by Keith for what he saw as blatant favoritism from Ramsay.
Ear Worm: Season 10, episode 11: it was the return of the craps challenge, and the blue team had yet to land on a protein for their dish when Robyn rolled a 'D'. Brian gave us this lovely gem:
"We need a protein...D...protein protein protein protein duck duck duck duck protein protein protein protein duck duck duck duck..."
A Face Palm followed when Robyn said "Dragonfruit" (though the blue team did manage to win nevertheless, in part thanks to Brian and Robyn's effective use of the dragon fruit ).
At least one per season:
Season 1 had Andrew, who consistently failed to cook dishes correctly, caused infighting on his team, and would never admit to doing anything wrong. Part of Andrew's survival was probably down to the contestants he was put up for elimination against (Wendy, who was utterly hopeless, and Mary-Ellen, who wasn't quite as bad as Andrew, but wasn't really a great cook herself), but he still lasted several weeks longer than he deserved to. Also from season 1 was Jimmy, who screwed up nearly every service, but kept avoiding being nominated firstly because Dewberry and Jeff somehow managed to be worse in the early services, and then because Michael carried the red team for the rest of the season and deliberately avoided nominating Jimmy after their sole remaining loss so that he could get rid of Chris (remember that Ramsay couldn't overrule nominations during the first season).
Season 2 had Virginia, a decent chef for the most part (she actually won most of the challenges), but constantly fell apart during service. Near the end, she won an immunity challenge that would let her into the final 3, but screwed up so badly that Gordon threatened to revoke it. To a lesser extent, Tom from the same season; while he only lasted until the fourth week, he managed to screw his team on virtually every service, but somehow kept surviving being put up for elimination.
Sara arguably fits here more so then Virginia, as she acted like a total bitch most of the time and repeatedly backstabbed her own teammates on numerous occasions(including letting Gordon believe Virginia had lied to him when she didn't) and even taking into account Virginia's screw-ups, Sara's overall performance throughout the season was worse, and somehow whenever she went up for elimination, she always managed to shift the blame over to someone else and got away with it every single time
Season 3 had Melissa, Bonnie, and Josh, the last somehow managed to make it to the final five despite constantly screwing up and then did so terribly that Ramsay eliminated him mid-service. With Bonnie, she did horribly for the first half of the season, but most likely because she was one of the most tolerable of that season's "Hell's Bitches", she was able to stay long enough to improve herself and deservedly finish second. Melissa was actually the best cook on the red team for the first two services of that season, but disintegrated spectacularly afterwards, and kept on surviving through virtue of her early good performances until Ramsay finally had enough and threw her out.
Season 4 had Jen, Matt and Rosann. Jen was somewhat capable, but completely unable to recognize her faults when she did make mistakes. Matt could cook at times, but was emotionally unstable, which often caused his abilities to drop like a brick. He managed to make it to the final 6. Rosann on the other hand was a consistently terrible performer, but the cliquey nature of that season's red team meant that she kept avoiding being nominated for elimination simply because the other girls liked her.
Season 5 had Colleen and Seth, who were both consistently useless on the line, and yet avoided being eliminated for several weeks in succession. Colleen survived mostly because team-mate Ji had to quit due to an ankle injury, while Seth was helped by Ramsay inexplicably eliminating Wil and Charlie, two much better cooks, in favor of him. Lacey from the same season was an unusual case of this — while she spent a lot of her time on the show whining and acting like a petulant teenager, when she did bother to put the effort in she was actually one of the best performers from that season. The occasional good performances that she did show probably kept her in until relatively late in that season, when she fell apart spectacularly on the meat station and got kicked out in mid-service.
The Red team in season 6 had three different Houdinis. During the beginning, Tenille screwed up several times, and got within an inch of being thrown out mid-service after insulting Ramsay to his face. However, after the universally disastrous 6th service, Tenille improved and Suzanne and Sabrina became the Houdinis instead. Suzanne repeatedly screwed her team nearly every service, while Sabrina made several critical mistakes such as serving raw pork. Amanda also deserves some mention as she was one of the weakest members on the red team with several Epic Fail moments, such as freezing the salmon on the first day, but only got eliminated in the eighth episode. Andy was also an example; despite probably being the worst performer out of that season's men (barring only the grossly incompetent Louie, and the in-over-his-head Tony) he somehow lasted nine services before getting kicked out. Part of that included Gordon inexplicably kicking Jim out of the blue when he wasn't up for nomination, along with Joseph getting thrown out for being a complete jerk during the second episode's nomination.
Season 7 had Scott, who despite his claimed "fine dining experience", constantly screwed up and blamed his team mates, and Fran, who always blamed anyone and anything but herself, despite constant screwups, and Siobhan, who made mistake after mistake, after mistake. Also from that season, Autumn. Despite constant mistakes, blaming others (or just keeping quiet) for her mistakes and the fact that neither team could stand her, she made it to the final four (that being said, she seemed to be semi-capable, and that her lousy attitude made her teammates notice her mistakes more than their own).
Benjamin as well, like Scott he loved to brag about his "fine dining" experience to everyone and wouldn't shut up about it, and while he started out strong, his weaknesses were quickly exposed when was moved to the red team. He proved to be a poor leader, was often disrespectful towards his teammates(particularly Siobhan, Autumn and Holli) for no reason, threw a hissy-fit whenever he lost a challenge to anyone and insisted his dish was better despite Ramsay saying otherwise, and had several poor services but somehow managed to intimidate his other teammates into not putting him up for elimination until he went up against Jason in the final five, and despite Ben having been much worse during service, Jason was sent home instead. Then in an odd twist, the next episode he actually tried to get himself sent home early by claiming he had a back injury (despite clearly being shown moving around and bending over without being in any noticeable pain) but Ramsay encouraged him to stay, though he finally got sent home anyways along with Autumn.
Season 8 had Raj, who spent a large portion of the first two episodes wandering around as if in a daze, and kept getting into fights with his teammates. His seeming incompetence bothered his teammates so much that Vinny, who was acting as waiter on the second episode, warned customers not to order side dishes because he didn't think Raj would get them out in time. (Ramsay was furious.) Eventually, Raj's behavior pushed Ramsay over the edge, and he eliminated Raj despite the fact that the blue team had actually won Raj's last service. Sabrina also appeared to be an example of this, making it all the way to the final six despite her horribly bitchy personality (although like Lacey from Season 5, there did seem to be at least some talent lurking behind the bitchiness).
Season 9 had Elise. She's a decent but not stand-out chef, and has made several glaring errors. Where she does stand-out is her absolutely toxic attitude—no one on her team can stand her because of how arrogant and loud she is, she argues with them constantly, made a point of declaring her intent to get her Arch-Enemy Carrie thrown out, always blames others for her mistakes, and claims that any other chef who dislikes her is just threatened by her talent. Furthermore, when the team wins a challenge she makes sure to let them know it was thanks to her—if they lose, she refuses to help them with the prep work or other penalty, invoking "I'm A Chef, Not A Placeholder" to justify why she feels she doesn't have to help. It's obvious that she won't win (even if she somehow makes the final two, she's alienated the other players so much that they'd all probably walk off the line rather than cook for her), so the the goal is now to keep her in as many episodes as is humanly possible without it looking overt. She actually reached the final three and very nearly made it to the finals in place of eventual winner Paul. Chef Ramsay even let her keep her jacket, and in a moment from the afterparty, he tells her she'd be a fantastic chef "if she'd stop being such a bitch". Carrie was the other Elimination Houdini from this season and was effectively the opposite of Elise, having a much nicer personality but turning in consistently dreadful performances.
Tommy is arguably another season 9 Houdini. While not terrible, he had very few moments where he did a truly good job, and spent the majority of the season in the background during dinner service. But much unlike Elise, he was nice, funny, and all-around likeable, and Ramsay admitted that he liked Tommy's spirit and enjoyed having him around, and ultimately said that he had grown to "understand and appreciate" Tommy's skills.
Robyn of season 10; while she's done okay in a few services (including her first service on the blue team, where Ramsay said she was the only one who performed well), more often than not, she ends up making a lot of simple mistakes. In episode 14, she served potentially lethal raw chicken—twice—and as a result, Ramsay kicked the ENTIRE BLUE TEAM out of the kitchen. Ultimately though, Robyn survived, and Kimmie was eliminated despite it being her first time on the elimination block (though to be fair, Kimmie was ALMOST as bad). Then, in the next episode, she received a black jacket while Brian was eliminated. Like Kimmie, Brian was pretty bad in his final service (so bad that Barbie had to take over his station) and he displayed a very immature attitude, but he had been consistent overall apart from one other bad service and Robyn had attempted to throw her teammates under the bus during that service by saying that they made her do something that Ramsay yelled at her for. She managed to make the Final Six.
Tiffany was another season 10 example, not only was she a weak chef, she was incredibly lazy (going so far as to try cooking in a dirty pan despite there being several clean pans in front of her) kept screwing up during service and didn't even seem to care (when Ramsay asked her on a scale of one to ten how much she cared, she hesitated before saying nine) many felt she was on for several weeks longer then she should've been.
For the blue team in season 10, there was Clemenza, who was incredibly inconsistent, sometimes doing good during challenges but usually making silly mistakes during service and refusing to admit to them. He was nominated more times then anyone else on the blue team and arguably only managed to make it to the final six due to him shifting the blame over to whoever else was up for nomination along with him. Though in all fairness, whoever he was up against managed to be even worse than him; in other words, he was a master of being NEAR the bottom of the pack without being AT the bottom until getting booted in 5th place.
In Season 11 comes Zach. He has not been a standout chef throughout the season (with his one truly awesome moment coming in the first episode), he's another case of Small Name, Big Ego, and most of the cast dislike him. His incompetence is notable for two specific scenarios, during one service he tried to sabotage Ray with cold sauce and was caught by Ramsay who warned Ray to watch him, showing he was aware Zach did it on purpose, and in a later service Zach fumbled an order trying to call it back, so Ramsay took over his station to prepare Zach's part of the order himself. Somehow he's still made it to the final six, over several other chefs that, if not standout, were considerably more talented and competent.
It is believed that Executive Meddling keeps many of these undeserving people in the running, hopes of raising the drama and therefore ratings. Or that Gordon is contractually obligated to do a certain number of episodes, and can't eliminate every useless individual, lest he get the final four by episode six. Or a streak of good work on one team helps to insulate a shoddy player, especially in a target-rich environment (so if the person who was an Elimination Houdini was eliminated early on, there'd be a different Elimination Houdini to take their place).
Also, watch out for chefs with great palates. Chef Ramsay has stated that a great palate is one of the most important things a chef can possess, noting that while he can teach nearly anyone to be a great cook, a good palate is something you're born with and an indicator of a chef's true potential. Chefs who have been noted to have great palates and who do well in the inevitable "blind taste test" challenge, which usually takes place just before or just after the teams merge, have almost always done far better than they would've been expected otherwise. Cases in point: Virginia in season two and Bonnie in season three. There's also Nona in season eight, who made it into the final six and eventually won the season even after messing up several dinner services in a row (though Gail and Vinny's collapses just before the merge may have also helped Nona along). However, this was subverted in season 10 with Brian, who got three out of four right on the palate test while his teammates Robyn and Clemenza earned none, yet Brian was eliminated before either of them, in 7th place.
There's actually a pretty consistent pattern in how Ramsay eliminates contestants. Chefs who are outright incompetent are the first to go; they might last a bit longer if they show some passion and enthusiasm, but not beyond the first few episodes. The next contestants to be eliminated are the ones who are consistently average, and never put in a truly good performance. After that, we get to the traditional Elimination Houdinis — chefs who put in a lot of unremarkable or outright bad performances, but also one or two good performances along the way, which gives Ramsay more of a reason to keep them in than the ones who are okay but never excel. Once they're gone, we're finally left with the genuinely good contestants. Ultimately, there are usually two major Elimination Houdinis per season, the absolutely awful chef who somehow stumbles through the first few episodes before being eliminated somewhere between episodes 3-5, and the chef who either has a bad attitude throughout the season and/or dramatically improves throughout the season (they might also have a good palette). This chef usually gets to at least the final six, and sometimes (as was the case with Virginia and Bonnie) even the final two.
One important thing to keep in mind that this is a filmed tv show. Which means that a lot of what happens gets edited out, so viewers often miss out on the full story behind Chef Ramsay's choices for elimination.
As far as the contestants go, Julia from Season 3. Despite her Waffle House background, she was one of the better performers from that season, and is still one of the most popular contestants ever to have appeared on the show.
Petrozza of Season 4, oh so much.
Despite her limited showtime due to her injury, Season 5's Ji is well-liked. Many hope that, like Julia, she will get to return for a second shot in a later season.
The final four of season 11 in general seem to have become this. Many fans regard them as the strongest and most likable final four in the show's history.
Executive Meddling: So many things on the show are seemingly staged that you can't help but wonder if everything is all just an act. Between the challenges always coming down to the wire with the scoring, chefs that snap and curse out Gordon Ramsay that should have gotten them kicked out (rarely does it happen), and chefs that are completely incompetent and can't cook simple meals but are rarely put up for elimination, the show could just be a glorified soap opera with chefs. Regardless, who wouldn't want to watch the chefs be yelled at and be thankful that it isn't them up there?
Every season seems to have one universally-hated, loudmouthed, designated "villain" contestant who lies, cheats, back-stabs, and connives (e.g., Season 2's Sara, Season 8's Sabrina, Season 9's Elise). They may have some talent, but nowhere NEAR the amount they'd need to be bringing to the table in order to balance out the ordeal they are to put up with. And you can almost always bet that Ramsay will keep this contestant for FAR longer than seems strictly reasonable. Reason being, villains engender vitriol, vitriol begets inter-chef blow-ups, and drama is good for promos. That said, Ramsay never, EVER lets any of them win.
On top of this, most of the villains on the show do have a good amount of cooking skills but severely lack teamwork skills, which is the source of all the drama. These types of chefs usually hang around the longest as if Ramsay wants to see them bond with their team and work together so their skills can be put to further use.
A lot of fans joked about season three's Aaron having some sort of health problem (ex. diabetes) due to his weight. Cut to November 30, 2010, and it was announced that Aaron had passed away due to "health complications from diabetes".
The bike punishment in Season 6. Less funny the second time around when you know that it almost killed Robert.
Genius Bonus: Sometimes it's helpful to have some culinary knowledge when watching this show, to truly appreciate how fail some of the contestants are.
Harsher in Hindsight: Arguably the entirety of Season 7, since the winner, Holli, was unable to take the job at the Savoy in London due to visa problems.
A lot of seasons in general are like this since the show's rewards usually aren't as glamorous as initially pictured. Some winners only work at the restaurants promised for a short time.
Dave from Season 6, especially got the short end of the stick. Suffered so much pain to win the grand prize. Only to quit after two weeks since he was treated no better than a line cook at the Araxi.
Carol from Season 5 expressing shock over her team winning, even though her potatoes were terrible. She thought to herself that she was the luckiest person in the world. She was eliminated that very night, even though she was on the winning team.
Heartwarming In Hindsight: Season 3's Julia states that she never went to culinary art school but she was willing to learn. On her elimination night, Ramsay stated that he would send her to culinary school.
Hollywood Pudgy: Chef Ramsay often called Ben from Season 5 fat. He wasn't actually that much overweight.
Iron Woobie: Jon in season 11 has done very well in almost every challenge...but the rest of the blue team, with the sole exception of Anthony before his collapse, have been so terrible that he hasn't been able to enjoy any of the rewards because they've lost all but two challenges. Nevertheless, Jon took it all in stride, and managed to win the second individual challenge after black jackets were given. Unfortunately, he came up just short of making it to the finale, but he became the first male contestant that Ramsay allowed to keep his jacket, and today, he works at Gordon Ramsay Steak in Las Vegas under season 10 winner Christina.
It's gotten so bad even Ramsay has taken to be less critical of the very few mistakes Jon has made, yelling at him maybe twice the entire series so far. In fairness, those mistakes only came due to the team's failures weighing down on Jon, likely the reason Ramsay seems more lenient.
Jerkass Woobie: It's easy to assume that Ramsay's just a bitter, foul-tempered asshole. When you see what he has to put up with from some of the contestants, he becomes a lot more sympathetic.
Matt from Season 4 was arguably this. He was an ass a lot of the time, but he was downright hated and alienated by his blue team. He pleaded to Chef Ramsay to be switched to red and became a lot happier (and somewhat more competent) when he was finally acknowledged. He did deserve some of the ire from his teammates given his incompetence, but he was pitiful at the very least.
Robert from Season 5. He was a bit of an ass sometimes. But dropping out of the competition due to health complications right when you visit the restaurant you get when you win stings bad. And even after all his devotion, he skipped out on his WEDDING in order to compete on the show so he could secure a good future for him and his wife. He did get a second chance in Season 6, but sadly he suffered Badass Decay. Then he went to the hospital because his health problems arose again. When he finally got back, he got a cold welcome from his team who had bonded without him around and felt like he hurt the team dynamic. He got eliminated that very night.
This is pretty much Andrea from Season 5's reaction after she has a turn running the pass.
Suzanne from Season 6 was somewhat pitiful. She was alienated from her team and tried to be a better team player halfway through. But her efforts to be accepted were continuously rejected by everybody. She was widely hated by all the contestants, and they often said it right to her face. Still, she was an annoying Smug Snake who continuously tried to take control and throw other people under the bus. And often came off as a suck up. Even after she tried to be nicer.
Raj is a possible candidate. Granted he is a man with serious Small Name, Big Ego and Cloud Cuckoo Lander problems and possibly the biggest Butt Monkey to have appeared on the show, but it's hard not to feel at least some sympathy when all of his team mates ganged up and bullied him for the rest of his time on the show.
Les Yay: Implied to have occurred with Heather and Rachel in Season 2, although Heather subsequently clarified that there was only ever a bit of good-natured flirting between the two, and that Rachel had a long-term girlfriend, meaning that nothing would have happened anyway. Many fans suspected this was also the case with Bonnie and Jen in Season 3, although it ended up being disproved in the season finale when Bonnie pretty much confirmed that she was heterosexual.
Ho Yay, on the other hand has been averted so far. While there's actually been at least half a dozen gay male chefs on the show (so far as is known), there's never been more than one per season, yet.
Magnificent Bastard: Michael Wray from Season 1. Testing the final chefs with deliberate screw-ups? He did it first. Hiding ingredients to make the other chefs look bad? He magically found them. Deliberately nominating your strongest competitor to get them thrown out? He's the only person ever to successfully pull it off on this show (though this was before Ramsay could just kick out anyone he wanted). No one since has been so successful at cutthroat.
Chef Ramsay himself proved to be this in the first episode of the seventh season and again at the first episode of the ninth season. Just look and you'll see.
Moral Event Horizon: Season 10, episode 10: Robyn certainly skirted the edge of this at least, after she almost came to physical violence with Kimmie (who was trying to avoid such a situation) after everyone on the red team was kicked out during service, mostly due to their constant arguing with each other.
Kimmie was not exactly trying to avoid such a situation, seeing as how she instantly got in Robyn's face and both just kept screaming at each other, also combined with how Kimmie is often in the middle of loud confrontations and even causes some of them herself, like in the 12th episode where she yelled at Barbie during the red team's punishment for seemingly no reason, and her antagonizing and bashing Danielle in front of the whole team due to Danielle not being able to eat bull testicles as easily as Kimmie could.
Ramsay accuses Jen of crossing it in season four, when after her attempts to sabotage voting led to the remaining chefs conspiring to have her eliminated (by having Corey, one of their best chefs, against her) she was so pissed off that she allegedly sabotaged Petrozza's chances of winning.
Russell's consistent threats of violence throughout the series, then the threat of sabotaging the other chef's careers because he did not win.
Season 4's Jen constantly talking loudly over everyone else nonstop
Season 7's Benjamin's constant use of, "Oui, Chef."
Dana's denial of her fish being prepared improperly during the Season 10 finale, even though they were very overcooked. She kept insisting "No, they're not. No they're not." at least half a dozen times. It got to the point where Andi and Chef Ramsay had to intervene.
Season 11 has Mary with her very squeaky voice, which some people consider as this. To her credit, she seems to realize this and has, a couple of times, jokingly deepened her voice only to go back to speaking normally.
Season 12 has Simone, whose voice is both breathy and squeaky at the same time.
Season 3's Tiffany was an okay chef. However she'll be forever known for her utter dislike of fan-favorite Julia, being one of "Hell's bitches", and how she stated about how Julia, "works in a fuckin' Waffle House."
Most of the time, Season 4's Rosann wasn't too bad (personality wise). But she'll forever be remembered for joining Corey and Jen and throwing Christina under the bus... again.
Season 5's Ben telling Danny "You couldn't cook my cock!"
Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Andrew of Season 7, just...Andrew of season 7. The sound effects Lampshade it, thankfully he left the show in the second episode.
Replacement Scrappy: Gloria, the red team's sous chef in Seasons 4 and 5, was nowhere near as popular as her predecessor Maryann, mostly because Maryann had shown she could kick ass as well as Chef Ramsay and Scott, whereas Gloria seemed to spend most of her time on the show standing by the pass and looking as if she'd rather be elsewhere. The red team's following sous chefs, Heather and Andi have mostly averted this; Heather already had a lot of fans from her original appearance on the show, and Andi gained a lot of respect when she helped Chef Ramsay and Scott rescue a service that the red team had screwed up royally. It probably doesn't hurt that Andi is among the best-looking sous chefs to appear on the red team, and she can also kick ass when it comes to dealing with contestants' attitudes. For the most part, she is quiet. But she has shown a few times that she is just as Badass as Chef Scott as she will give lip to contestants who disrespect her. Such as kicking a cook out of the kitchen, something no sous chef in the show's history has ever done.
Many also see the new Maitre D James as this in comparison to Jean-Phillipe, as most of the time he dosen't seem to have a grasp of what's going on and he comes across as rather bland and is nowhere near as funny or charming as JP was.
Season 11's new male sous chef, James, is also seen as this by many, as he has generally little presence (at times you may even forget he's there) and just doesn't have the inherent badass attitude, authority and presence that sous chef Scott has and fans love.
Narm Charm: The narration and sound effects can be hilariously over-the-top at times.
Padding: Season 10 is extremely guilty of this. The usual events that unfold during each episode in previous seasons - the post-elimination cooldown, the reward challenge, the reward/punishment, the dinner service, etc. - get stretched out into two installments, and it shows. The extra time doesn't really give more insight into the groups, and exist only to produce more episodes. The only exception to this was the opening episodes, and the episode that aired before the MLB All-Star Game (the latter making the Padding all the more obvious).
Season 11 brings padding back in spades, now stretching out the elimination segments so that viewers have to wait until next week just to see who is getting kicked out.
The Problem with Licensed Games: The show received a PC game adaptation which is considerably milder than the show. Ramsay looks very odd (Spoony's description was that he looks like he's made of Play-Doh) and doesn't swear or even really raise his voice unless you deliberately screw up repeatedly. There is no competition factor, and seating people is one of the challenges. The game isn't really bad per se — as Spoony pointed out, it would be pretty decent for an iOS app or a free flash game — but it isn't worth the $30 asking price.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Bobby from Season 4. In the first service of that season he was assigned to be the Blue Team's captain, and screwed up royally, to the extent that Ramsay took the captain's badge off him and gave it to Louross halfway through the service. The only real reason he survived elimination that week was because he was put up against Dominic, who was probably the worst chef ever to have appeared on the show up until that point. In the following weeks he improved, though, and was named the Best of the Worst in the fourth service. After that he became one of the more liked chefs from that season's bunch, to the point where many fans were genuinely upset when he got kicked off the show in favor of Jen.
Barbie from season 10. At the beginning, the fans could not stand her passive-aggressive demeanor as much as her teammates. However, once the red team turned increasingly dysfunctional, Barbie decided that she's better off keeping her mouth shut, and just focus on the cooking. A wise move, since it kept Barbie away from the excessive drama that befell her teammates, while she improved her cooking abilities in the kitchen. This was most notable when Barbie picked up Tiffany's slack during prep and dinner service later on, despite Tiffany blaming her failures on Barbie, and also very notable a little later on when she had a great service alongside her teammates and then was ordered by Ramsay to take over the blue team's meat station, where she led the team into finishing their service by cooking and communicating flawlessly. As a result, the fans have warmed up to Barbie considerably.
Dan from Season 11 might have become this. Known for being a complete jerk with bad ego problems throughout his run at the season, he still kept those traits for the final service. However, at the end when it was revealed that Ja'Nel won (he was working on Mary's team for the service), he shows a true Pet the Dog moment by hugging the sobbing Mary, apologizes to her and promises to make it up to her one day.
Season 8: Russell (the only full-blown Scrappy to ever make the finals), Sabrina, and of course, Raj.
Season 9: Elise, the all-time Scrappy queen, as well as her rival, Carrie. Also Brendan, though mercifully, only briefly.
Season 10: Royce, Tiffany, Kimmie, and Robyn. Barbie started out as one with her early behavior, but later on, she kept her head down and became tolerable compared to the other aforementioned players; Dana, conversely, started out as one of the more likeable contestants, but towards the end of the season, many people got tired (and annoyed) by her constant yelling into the camera, and more than a few people were upset when Barbie was eliminated before Dana at the end of episode 18 (although Dana also went home at the beginning of episode 19).
Season 11: Susan, Nedra and Dan. Jeremy and especially Gina were brief ones. Zach started out okay, if a bit cocky, but at around the midway point his skills dropped and his ego got bigger, which made just about everyone hate him, the fans included, especially with his successfully sabotaging Ray and being very gleeful about it..
Dan got major Scrappy points at the final service, constantly acting like the jerkass he was and at the end, when it's revealed that Ja'Nel won the challenge, he goes to Mary (he was picked last for her team) and apologizes for his actions.
Season 12: Sandra and Nicole (though at least the latter only lasted two episodes).
Spoiled Brats: The prom committee from Beverly Hills High School came off as rather snobbish and condescending to the men during their punishment. The show may have requested them to act like that, however, to increase the humiliation of it all.
Stop Helping Me!: It's not uncommon for contestants to get angry at their team members for trying to help them with their station, exclaiming that they knew how to cook. It's pretty common for them to then proceed to fail because they rejected outside help.
Although for some contestants, they reject other people's help and then prove that they really could cook by themselves. One of the best examples is Dave from Season 6, who continuously rejected people's offers to help him with his broken wrist. He said that he could and had to do things by himself. He proved that by winning the competition.
Matt from Season 4 accidentally cutting off the tip of his finger.
Again in Season 6, when Andy accidentally cut off the tips of his fingers.
Suspiciously Similar Song: The show's theme song, "Fire" by the Ohio Players, gets this when the show is rebroadcast outside of the US. It's also used on the DVD releases, as they apparently couldn't get the rights to use it on them.
Take That, Scrappy!: One of the show's biggest appeals is to see Chef Ramsay scream at TheScrappy for their performance and bad attitude. Usually, one or two make it pretty far. But a lot of them tend to be eliminated early.
Tear Jerker: Season 3, Episode 9. The episode before, Julia was eliminated and Ramsay has promised her she's off to culinary school. What's going on with everyone else? Bonnie is heartbroken that she had to put up her close friend to be eliminated and is hugging Jen. Rock? He's sitting alone, hitting his head with a fist in dismay because Julia was such a Worthy Opponent to him.
The end of that episode is also heartbreaking as Ramsay sadly stated that Julia was eliminated and how he promised to send her to culinary school, hoping that she would come back one day to wind the competition hands down.
Robert withdrawing from the competition in Season 5 due to health problems. One of the most passionate chefs that season, he worked so hard and fought his way to the final 5. Only for him to get his dream taken from him by a heart condition. Right in the middle of seeing the prize restaurant.
Not to mention Ji's withdrawal in the second episode of that season due to an accident where she sprained her ankle. Her teammates were all crying (and some of the men even appeared to be on the verge of it) because they felt she was a strong competitor even with her injury.
Season 9's Paul revealing that he was on Hell's Kitchen for his mother, who apparently died not long before he was on the show. Watch the finale, and try not to cry when he wins.
Season 11 Finale. When it was revealed that Ja'Nel was the winner, Mary is crying because while she wants to be happy for Ja'Nel's success, it's a bitter pill to swallow. To twist this moment even further, Dan (who was acting like a total jerk throughout prep and who slowed down dinner service to the point that Mary had to kick him out), goes to Mary and hugs her, apologizes for his behavior and promises to make it up to her someday. Question Dan: Where was that kind side of you throughout the season?!
Anything involving Aaron Song since his death in 2010, especially his brief appearance in season 4.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Jean-Philippe not returning to the show for season 8 for some mysterious reason (being replaced with another guy with a similar accent) had several fans spouting this trope.
Unofficial word is that Jean-Philippe may eventually be back - he was called away to deal with a situation in one of Ramsay's restaurants in Africa. However, as of season 9, James is still the maitre'd.
Ramsay has now stated via his Twitter that JP will be back for season 10.
Good news (really): JP is now back on the crew for Season 11, however, Blue Team Sous Chef Scott Leibfried is committed somewhere else, so he is replaced with James Avery.
Too Cool to Live: In a non-fatal example, Cha Ji-Hyun, due to her twisted ankle.
Averted with Dave, who went on despite his injuries, and won.
Also averted with Kevin, also from Season 6, who went on despite his injuries and made runner-up.
Jason in season 9, who managed to impress Ramsay with tacos, appeared to be an all-around great chef and had a beard worthy of a Viking; unfortunately, he suffered the same fate as Antonia. After starting to have trouble breathing in the prep for the first service, he was rushed to the hospital and never came back.
Unfortunate Implications: Some viewers considered Chef Ramsay's "she should stick to changing diapers" comment after eliminating Shayna to have more than a touch of this, especially considering she had been nowhere near the worst cook that week.
There were more than a few accusations of racism after the second service of Season 7, when two black chefs (Autumn and Jason) were nominated despite being not the worst on their teams. In reality this probably wasn't the case, since Autumn had severely pissed off her team-members during the challenge and the service (not that she deserved to be nominated, having said that), and Jason was the second worst cook on the blue team (the worst being Mikey, who eventually got eliminated despite not being nominated). Oddly enough, there wasn't any kind of reaction like this after the second service of Season 6, where the red team nominated both of the black women that were on the team, while one of the men's nominees happened to be the only gay man there that season.
Also in Season 7, Benjamin said he did not want rice on his menu because he thought it was "poor" food(as in food for poor people, not bad food).
Speaking of racism, in season 10 there were some accusations that Kimmie, Robyn, & Tiffany were being considered racist due to their animosity towards Barbie — the only black woman on the team (though Kimmie would go on to become good friends with Barbie after filming ended, so she at least was likely innocent on that count). Averted with the other black contestant of the season, Tavon, who was eliminated in the first episode for his sheer ineptitude.
Wangst: Lacey from Season 5, who had a tendency to start whining and crying after performing poorly, and would frequently complain about how her teammates hated her (in reality, it was this that was the cause of most of it).
Elise from Season 9 would immediately start to cry if her team lost a challenge, or if it looked like she might be eliminated. Because of this, you'd usually see her tear up at least once an episode.
What an Idiot: Season 6's Joseph during his Elimination Statement, saying that anyone would be proud to hire him...immediately after he blew up on national television, displaying a horrendous temper and an inability to follow instructions. (Oh, and threatened to beat up his boss, I'm sure that would go over great in interviews.)
Off-screen example: The winner of Season 11, Ja'Nel, was unable to take up the job at Caesar's Palace because they tested positive for cocaine.
Elsie from Season 1. After winning the leftover challenge, she got the cold shoulder from the other competitors (Jessica, Ralph and Michael) and couldn't get their help. Even after a motivation pep talk from Ramsay, she floundered badly. When it came to elimination, she and Jessica were up for grabs and Ramsay, having observed the cold shoulder that Elsie was given, asked whether or not she got support...and said that she did.
Virginia from Season 2. She received a lot of favoritism from Chef Ramsay. But as a result, she was despised/alienated by Keith and Heather. Then there was her previous sabotage by Sara. Then there was her team demanding bribes in order for them to work for her. Finally, there was all the survivor's guilt she had over constantly dodging the bullet and wondering if she did deserve to be there.
Season 2's Larry. I mean...Goddamn. The Chew Toy doesn't even begin to describe it.
Season 3's Julia. While she became very popular in the fan's eyes later on, the first episode made you feel like any other new kid at school being left out due to her background as a Waffle House chef. Tiffany struggled with the quail eggs and Julia wanted to help, and she knew that the Red Team had problems with communication but no one came to Julia's aid. In the confession she's tearing up and when Ramsay asks what's wrong, she cries "I just want to cook!" Poor girl.
Season 4's Christina for being targeted by the red team for purely personal reasons, claiming that they found her condescending.
In season 7, Salvatore was tasked with taking orders from the diners. His orders came in written incomprehensibly. Ramsay screamed at him: "Didn't you go to school?!" and Salvatore replied: "No, Chef." He explained after he arrived in America, he only worked to help his family and never went to school. Ramsay was so stunned he stopped scolding him and just sorta told him: "Just take your time."
Season 10's Barbie is this in the eyes of some fans, and only two episodes in, no less. At least one third of the red team (ESPECIALLY Tiffany) absolutely explodes anytime she does something. Barbie is not the best chef by any means, but her mistakes aren't any worse than the rest of the red team's mistakes.
Season 10's Roshni. Getting stranded on a zip line while her teammates thought it was hilarious (though they did help her down), being put up for elimination even though she didn't deserve it... and finally being eliminated in the eighth episode when it came down to her and Patrick, many felt that he should've been eliminated instead, considering how poor his leadership skills were. At least she held better success in Chopped.
Speaking of Season 11, Mary got this too. Sure she got second place for the whole season but it was mostly due to Dan that she lost. The kicker? He apologizes for being a jerkass and promises to make it up where he should've done that earlier at the service!