- Very early in the show's run, in the dessert round, one chef made the most amateur mistake in the culinary book: he mistook sugar for salt. This inevitably got him chopped in the end. He claimed that his competitor only won because of his mistake.
- In one episode, two contestants so utterly failed to integrate half the mystery ingredients that the judges wanted to chop both of them after the appetizer round.
- In one episode, a chef made a point of bringing up the fact that the hectic nature of the competition and the strict time pressure made making a proper risotto almost impossible, resulting in nearly every chef who's tried being chopped...so guess what he proceeded to do, because he wanted to "prove that it could be done?" He made risotto. It was soupy and the judges hated it. And proving that it really can't be done, he was chopped.
- Despite this curse, in another episode, a chef successfully made risotto in the 20-minute appetizer round (much to the chef's own shock and awe at himself), which inevitably won him the entire competition.
- "A Cornish Mess", the April 10, 2011 episode, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. It featured an entrée round in which one competitor severely undercooked Cornish hen, another one committed cross-contamination, and the third served an appetizer portion and rendered one of the basket ingredients invisible (which under normal circumstances can be enough to be chopped). This sums it up:
- Ted Allen: [flatly] "Well, that entrée round did not go well at all."
(Cut to judges' extremely shocked expressions.)
- In addition, the dessert round featured cherimoya as an ingredient, and the losing chef had the seeds (which are extremely poisonous) on the plate. Needless to say, it was not a good day for the chefs.
- In the appetizer round of the first episode of the first All Stars series, Lisa Garza (from season 4 of The Next Food Network Star) only managed to plate one out of four basket ingredients!
- Michelle Garcia inexplicably setting the ice cream machine to extraction instead of production.
- In one of the earlier seasons, a chef lost track of time so badly in the appetizer round, he did not plate a single thing in any of his four plates. Unsurprisingly, he was the first chef eliminated. However, he did return for Chopped Redemption and he won the whole episode.
- In another early season episode one chef put only 4 edamame beans on 3 out of the 4 plates and on the last plate put raw shrimp and again, 4 edamame beans in the appetizer round. Unsurprisingly, he was eliminated in that round
- Dropping a spoon in the ice cream machine. As the competitor herself admitted, it's something that would get someone instantly fired at a restaurant given that the machines run into the thousands of dollars.
- In the Halloween 2013 episode, the appetizer round had eel. Ted told the contestants that the eel must be cooked because the raw blood is toxic. One competitor heard that and didn't cook it anyway to give the judges something they had never tasted. The judges refused to eat the eel. He was chopped because of it.
- In the 2013 Chopped: Redemption episode, both contestants bombed in the dessert round. One cut himself, inadvertently contaminating the bread pudding he was making with his blood, while the other made an utterly bizarre take on baked Alaska that involved not-really-ice cream and a papaya skin as the base (papaya being one of the mystery ingredients). As Marc Murphy put it, the round came down to a decision between "food we couldn't eat and a dish that was so offensive that [the chef] might have done better not to serve anything at all". If the chef who was chopped hadn't cut himself, he most definitely would have won.
- The "Rachael vs. Guy Stars" episode of the 2014 All-Stars tournament was just as full of Epic Fail as the 2011 "Cornish Mess" episode. Lou Diamond Phillips somehow managed to forget one ingredient for both his entrée and dessert dishes. He made it to the dessert round only because Penn Jillette had thoroughly messed up his own entrée, but lost to Carnie Wilson in the final round. Not only that, but in that same episode, during the entrée round, Penn frittered away time just standing around that he could have used, as one of the judges noted, to redo a burnt component of his dish. And on top of that, Penn dropped his wooden spoon into a blender and Coolio sneaked a lemon from Carnie Wilson's station to squeeze into his dish during the appetizer round — after time had been called.
- The fourth Chopped: Teen Tournament episode started the day with one. Two of the teen chefs had undercooked the chicken (even raw in one case!), one chef had overcooked chicken, and the other chef put three of the four ingredients in a crostini that had no place on the plate. Then, in the second round, one chef so severely cut herself that she lost 7:30 of time.
- The appetizer round (Gooseberries, Darjeeling Tea, Ricotta Salata, Calf's Liver) from the episode "Worst things First", every chef made some major error or slip up. The first one served his liver undercooked and on a bed of raw red onions, the second one didn't get everything on all her plates and continued plating after time was called, the third one served improperly cleaned liver, and the fourth one accidentally covered her last plate so it only got one of the four ingredients on it.
- The 2017 dumplings-themed episode. Three younger chefs and one older chef. Young chefs are up and coming, working for smaller restaurants. Older chef is the second-generation owner and executive chef of one of the most famous French bistros in the country. The young chefs all had trouble (raw dough, filling spilled out of the dumpling, odd flavor combination), but the older chef everyone found so intimidating? Got absolutely nothing on the plate in time.
- In the episode "Belly Up," one chef accidentally dropped his pork belly on the ground and still plated it anyway, which really appalled the judges. He got chopped.
- In the dessert round of the first heat of the second Chopped Championship, Chef James Gillespie spent the entire round trash-talking his competitor, absolutely convinced that he had this thing in the bag. But, letting his ego get in his own way, he ended up accidentally turning the oven to 500 degrees, which resulted in his sweet potato tarts being both raw and burnt at the same time. He was not only chopped, but he was rightfully scolded by everyone in the room for letting his ego get the best of him: behavior that is completely unworthy of a Chopped Champion.
- During one preliminary heat in the "Alton's Challenge" tournament of 2017, Alton Brown was so disgusted with the losing chef's dish in the final round that he threw the serving dish cover at the chef's feet. Alton compared it to an early incident in the career of jazz legend Charlie Parker, in which a drummer threw a cymbal at his feet to run him off the stage after he made a fool of himself during a jam session.
Epic Fail / Chopped