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Produce 101 is a South Korean reality series with the goal of creating Korea's ultimate Idol Singer groups. To accomplish this, pools of 101 trainees from various agencies were gathered. The first season, which aired in 2016, was focused on creating a Girl Group, and the second season, which aired in 2017, has the same premise but with male contestants.
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In the first season, these contestants ran the gamut from Somi, a trainee with JYP, one of Korea's largest agencies, to a batch of independent trainees. To create the final group, I.O.I, the girls were evaluated by a panel of judges/mentors and also by the general public, whose votes would ultimately decide who was eliminated, and who debuted. The 2nd season's final group WannaOne were also made from the top 11 of various contestants, from members of the previously debuted Boy Groups such as NU'EST, Hotshots, Topdogg, etc., trainees as young as 15 years old (Korean age), until individual trainees and trainees with training period less than 6 months.

The first season season was presented by Korean celebrity Jang Keun-Suk. He was assisted by a group of five female industry experts who functioned primarily as teachers for the girls, as well as talent evaluators. They were:

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  • Dance: Kahi, Bae Yoonjung
  • Vocals: JeA, Kim Sungeun
  • Rap: Cheetah

The second season started airing from April 7th, 2017, with boys. The second season is presented by Hallyu star Boa, with industry experts as trainers and talent evaluators.

  • Dance: Kahi (returnee from Season 1), Kwon Seungjae
  • Vocals: Shin Yoon Mi, Le Suk Hoon (of SG Wannabe)
  • Rap: Cheetah (returnee from Season 1), Don Mills

The third and fourth seasons, Produce48 and Produce X 101, have their own page.

The series has also expanded to a Chinese version, Produce 101 China, hosted by Huang Zitao (a former member of EXO).


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Tropes appearing in both seasons of Produce 101:

  • Aerith and Bob: Most trainees have normal Korean names but then there are also trainees with names like Katherine, Dani, Cathy, Samuel and Justin.
    • In Season 1, the true oddball is Somi's birth name, Ennik, a Dutch name.
  • Audience Participation: The show is built on it: the audience gets to vote for the trainees they like so they essentially create the group they want.
  • invokedBonus Material: Even before the show aired, viewers had been pampered by individual trainees promotion videos, hidden box mission, meringue time (Season 2). There are also Individual Reevaluation videos (season 1), full performances with eye-contact for each trainees, behind the scene videos, self-cameras, etc.
  • Breather Episode: Elimination epsiodes usually have fillers that are more light-hearted and show trainees having fun together. Which makes it so much more heart-breaking when the audience has to say goodbye to some of them.
  • Brutal Honesty: The teachers did not pull any punches in their evaluations of the trainees. However, it's only because the teachers wanted everyone to perform to their best, and for every time they scolded a trainee, every one of them had at least one Hidden Heart of Gold moment at another point in the series.
  • Confession Cam: Used by the trainees, trainers and even Boa.
  • Custom Uniform: There is a crown sticker for center position in a group as well as an 'L' sticker for the leader. In season 1 A-ranked trainee (in the first elimination episode) and top 11 (in the second until final elimination episodes) wore e-paulette on their uniforms while in season 2 'center pins' crown badge were used instead.
  • Dramatic Pause: The ranking announcements used these quite liberally.
  • invokedExecutive Meddling: While only the audience can decide a trainee's fate, the producers can decide which trainees to show more and which trainees to edit out as well as who they show in a better light.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Oh boy.
  • The Load: The weaker members in the group can be this for the others.
  • Idol Singer: Everyone is competing to become this.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Season 1, which featured female trainees, had a pink motif, whereas Season 2, which featured male trainees, had a blue motif.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: With the number of trainees and the focus on more TV-worthy ones, this is a given. You would only known that someone is a good singer/ dancer/ rapper after their performance or maybe would not at all.

Tropes appearing in Produce 101 (Season 1):

  • All or Nothing: Many trainees confessed that if they did not debut from Produce 101, they would be leaving singing altogether.
  • Back for the Finale: All of the previously eliminated trainees returned to perform "Pick Me" and also watch the finale from a special section of the audience.
  • Call-Back: During the initial talent evaluations, many of the contestants chose to perform songs that had been popular in the past to...varying degrees of success.
  • The Cameo: Jinyoung of B1A4 produced one of the songs for the concept evaluation and appeared to coach the girls who chose.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: First used for the letter-graded groups after the first evaluation. Everyone wore different-colored sweatshirts to denote which group they belonged to. It would return to help viewers identify which trainees were in which groups for their performances in later episodes as well.
    • This gets a callback in the beginning of IOI's video for "Very Very Very" with a shot of the members' feet in socks with their group color scheme.
  • Cool Old Lady: Hwang "Hwang Auntie" Insun, one of the oldest trainees.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: A few contestants were criticized by the judges for being single-talented. One of the first and most visible examples of this was Juna, who was one of the strongest vocalists from the beginning, but was also one of the weakest dancers.
  • Distaff Counterpart: A second season is airing started from April 2017. Naturally, this time it is a boy group survival show.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: To be expected from one of these shows.
  • Like a Penguin Takes to Water: Sohye had only been a trainee at an acting agency for months before being selected for the show. In spite of her lack of talent in almost every area, she was a very quick learner with a strong work ethic, which helped her to survive all the way to the end, and eventually debut in I.O.I.
  • One Steve Limit: Several trainees had the same birth name or stage name. Perhaps the most visible was Nayoung, shared by the Pledis trainee who made the final group, and Nayoung of Jellyfish, who just barely missed the cut.
  • Power Trio: Somi, Sejeong and Yoojung
  • Spiritual Successor: Produce 101 took the "Girl Group Survival" concept of Sixteen and cranked it Up to Eleven with 101 trainees from multiple companies instead of sixteen from one.
  • Squee!: Whenever a popular male celebrity showed up. Especially B1A4's Jinyoung, who caused almost the entire group of trainees to stop what they were doing to fawn over him.
  • The Stoic: Nayoung, who was and still is known for not being very expressive, leading to her getting nicknamed "Stone Nayoung" or "Stone Buddha."
  • Team Dad: Jang Geunsuk
  • Team Mom: The team of five teachers.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: With the number of trainees and the focus on more TV-worthy ones, this is a given. You would only known that someone is a good singer/ dancer/ rapper after her performance or maybe would not at all.

Tropes appearing in Produce 101 (Season 2):

  • All or Nothing: For a lot of the trainees who have already debuted in the past, most notably the NU'EST members.
  • Bishonen: So-so many. But especially, the 11 trainees who were picked as the top 11 visuals of the show.
  • Boy Band: What all of the trainees are hoping to become.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Does this need an explanation?
  • Censor Shadow: Used to hide tattoos of a shirtless trainee as well as a dropped trainee caused by scandal.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Just like in the first season this was used for the letter-graded groups after the first evaluation all wore different-colored sweatshirts to denote which group they belonged to. Although some of the colors changed since the first season.
    • For the group mission the two teams wore different shirts during practice - one wore white, the other blue. Also the stage outfits were usually color-coded.
    • For the position evaluation trainees that picked Dance wore red shirts, those that chose Vocal wore blue shirts and the ones that chose Rap wore black.
    • For the concept evaluation trainees belonging to different songs wore different-colored shirts.
  • The Determinator: The other boys mentioned that Ahn Hyungseob and Park Seongwoo are extremely hard-working. Jang Moonbok has also refused to give up on his dream despite being bullied after Kpop Star.
  • Distaff Counterpart: The second season with male trainees is this for the first which had girls in it.
  • invokedDye Hard: Lee Daehwi has had his hair dyed 4 times by the 9th episode. There were a lot of hair-dyeing happening between episodes, especially before the elimination.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The group mission is this for nation's leader Jonghyun.
  • Fish out of Water: The YGK+ models, especially Kwon Hyunbin, who had no prior training in singing, rapping or dancing.
  • invokedGermans Love David Hasselhoff: Some trainees are much more popular with the international fans than the Korean ones. Kenta, Eunki, Jung Jung, Hwanwoong and Justin are mentioned very often by the international fans, but lacked Korean fans. Kim Samuel has a very large international fanbase, his rank has been very shakey.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Several trainees.
  • Long Haired Prettyboy: For some Jang Moon-Bok is this.
  • Leit Motiv:'Me, It's Me' Piano Version for sad scene, training montage, or elimination.
    • Trainee Kang Dongho has jungle music and The Imperial March reserved for his appearances.
  • Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty: While there are definitely pretty boys, the girls never had arm wrestling and punching competitions and instead got make-up lessons.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: The C class is treated this way, especially after re-evaluation. They got less screen time because they are not as talented as the A and B classes but not as bad as D and F classes to warrant an improvement edit. After the second elimination, only one C-ranked trainee is left on the show. Across the rankings of the entire series those re-evaluated into rank C never once got ranked higher than the 30's..
  • Mr. Fanservice: Several trainees like showing off their abs. So far we've seen the abs of Kim Samuel, Park Seongwoo, Kang Daniel, Lee Euiwoong, Jung Jung, Justin. Made uncomfortable by the fact that some of them are underage.
  • Older Than They Look: Kim Taemin who people are surprised to find out is 23.
  • One Steve Limit: Several trainees have the same birth name or stage name. There are two Woojins - the trainee from Brand New Music Park Woojin (Nicknamed Big Woojin) and the show's youngest trainee Lee Woojin (Nicknamed Little Woojin) - and two Seongwoos - the oldest trainee Park Seongwoo and Fantagio's Ong Seongwoo. There are also two Jinyoungs—Bae Jinyoung (commonly referred as Baejin internationally) and Woo Jinyoung (Since there are two Woojins already, he is most often referred by his full name). There are two Minhos as well— Ha Minho and Han Minho.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: The A-ranked trainees wear pink shirts (just like in the first season).
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: A lot of trainees are put into the flowerboy or manly category. Kang Dongho got much recognition for being the most manly-looking guys participating in the show.
  • She's Got Legs: Gender-inverted for the YGK+ trainees (who are models).
  • Shout-Out: Park's Jihoon's Signature Move is taken from the anime Shugo Chara!.
  • Sole Survivor: In some group performances only one trainee managed to survive the next elimination.
  • Squee!: This seasons wouldn't miss the squee of the boys any time Boa appeared. Trainer Shin Yoomi also in the receiving end of this. When Hyuna of 4Minute, Trouble Maker, and Triple H fame come as a producer, the boys lined up in front of the door.
  • Team Dad: The three male teachers: Lee Seokhoon, Don Mills and Kwon Jaeseung.
  • Team Mom: Boa and the three female teachers: Kahi, Cheetah and Shin Yumi.
  • Teen Idol: A lot of the trainees are 19 or younger.
  • Teen Genius: A lot of the younger trainees are also considered really good and often praised for their skills, most notably Lee Woojin (15), Kim Samuel (16), Lee Daehwi (17). Yuehua trainee Lee Euiwoong attends a foreign language school where he also is the student-body president of his school and one of the top ranking students in terms of grades.
  • The Cameo: Triple H (a subunit made up of Hyun A and two Pentagon members) in episode 9.
  • The Cutie: Quite a lot of trainees fall under this but most notably the show's youngest trainee Lee Woojin and one of the youngest trainees Justin.
  • The Dreaded: The more popular or the more talented trainees are this for the others. Especially Park Jihoon who maintained the first rank for five episodes straight (something that wasn't even achieved by Somi in the first season when she had a pre-existing fandom.)
  • The Leader: Many trainees got to act as leaders during the group missions but especially Kim Jong-Hyun who got nicknamed 'National Leader' by fans (and is also the leader of NU'EST).
  • The Load: Hyunbin. He didn't have any prior skills being only trained as a model. While he improved he was regarded as this by his teammates. Park Seongwoo was also treated like this by a couple of trainees. Daniel and Ong even laughed at him when he picked dance, but he was actually a very hard worker, as described by his team leader Taehyun who was at first concerned to have him in his team.
  • Training from Hell: And televized.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Several trainees.
    • Pink hair - Kang Daniel, Woo Jinyoung, Lee Seokyu, Kwon Hyunbin (more of a peach color)
    • Purple hair - Han Minho, Yoon Jisung, Lee Daehwi (purple-ish), Kim Samuel
    • Red hair - Im Youngmin, Park Woojin
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Anyone who got eliminated early and didn't get any screen time. Some guys still managed to survive due to a pre-existing fanbase, but were still this to most viewers.
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