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The Masked Singer is an American reality singing competition Talent Show that began airing on Fox in January 2019. It is based on the South Korean series King of Mask Singer.
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Like many other series of its ilk, the premise involves a total of 12-18 singers going head to head with each other in each episode, with a panel of judges (Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger, Ken Jeong, and an occasional rotating guest panelist) and the studio audience voting on which ones are best. The losers of each match-up then congregate at the end of each episode, with the one with the lowest votes being selected for unmasking — and elimination.

The twist here comes from the contestants all being known celebrities performing anonymously, wearing elaborate costumes and only being referred to as their persona: the identity of the contestant is only revealed after they are eliminated. Their non-singing voices are also synthesized to further obfuscate them. Viewers and the judges are given clues (primarily in the form of a short video introducing the contestant and alluding to their personal life, as well as physical clues brought on stage), and the judges are encouraged to share their speculation on who each contestant might be.

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Its premiere was an unexpected hit, with Fox claiming it to be their biggest non-scripted premiere (without an NFL game as a lead-in) since The X Factor. As of now, the show currently has five seasons under its belt, with a sixth on the way.

A spinoff series, The Masked Dancer, premiered in December 2020. Craig Robinson hosts the show, while the panel consists of Ken Jeong, Paula Abdul, Brian Austin Green, and Ashley Tisdale.

After the smash success of the first season, the format of the U.S. version has been picked up by multiple international networks.

    International versions of The Masked Singer 
  • Argentina (Quien es la Mascara Argentina)
  • Australia (The Masked Singer Australia)
  • Austria (The Masked Singer Austria)
  • Bulgaria (Маскираният певец)
  • China (King of Mask Singer)
  • Finland (Masked Singer Suomi)
  • France (Mask Singer)
  • Germany (The Masked Singer Germany)
  • Greece (Masked Singer Greece)
  • Hungary (A maszkos énekes)
  • Indonesia (The Mask Singer Indonesia)
  • Israel (הזמר במסכה)
  • Italy (Il Cantante Mascherato)
  • Japan (TBD)
  • Mexico (¿Quién es la máscara?)
  • Myanmar (The Masked Singer Myanmar)
  • Netherlands (The Masked Singer Netherlands)
  • Panama (¿Quien es la Mascara?)
  • Peru (¿Quien es la Mascara?)
  • Portugal (A Máscara)
  • Romania (The Masked Singer Romania)
  • Russia (Маска)
  • Slovakia (Zlatá maska)
  • South Africa (The Masked Singer South Africa)
  • South Korea (King of Mask Singer, the original version.)
  • Spain (Mask Singer: Adivina quién canta)
  • Thailand (The Mask Singer Thailand)
  • United Kingdom (The Masked Singer UK)
  • Vietnam (The Mask Singer Vietnam)

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This show provides examples of:

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    A-E 
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Invoked and enforced, with videos known as "clue packages" dropping all sorts of hints as to who the singers really are, from obscure to rather blatant.
      Pineapple: Life is short, man. You gotta seize the day before your dreams go up in smoke. (The last three words are a movie title. It stars Cheech and Chong.)
    • On the judges' side, Nick Cannon often refers to Ken Jeong as Dr. Ken.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The U.S. version of the format features a number of differences in comparison to the original Korean version (and versions patterned off it), including replacing the Korean version's returning champion model (with two new contestants weekly, competing for a chance to dethrone the existing "mask king") with weekly eliminations (akin to other music competition series), and a larger emphasis on hints and speculation towards the contestants' identities.
  • Amicable Exes: It was brought up in season 2 that Nicole and Nick actually used to date - by this time all five of the regulars had been pretty much cemented as True Companions (the shipping of Nicole and Thingamajig even became a Running Gag).
  • Art Shift: In Season 4, the clue packages are animated (undoubtedly due to COVID-19 causing issues with live filming). Of course, the masked characters are pretty cartoony to begin with, so it's not too much of a stretch. Season 5 returns to the usual live-action packages.
  • Badass Baritone: While a vast majority of the costumes have their voices pitched up while they're speaking there's a few that go the opposite route and have deeper voices—so far, White Tiger, Elephant, Rhino, Dragon and Grandpa Monster all have this mechanic.
  • Bait-and-Switch: With Jamie Foxx brought on to promote Beat Shazam, they do their own take on the game by playing part of a song and making everyone guess the title - and the song is quite clearly Beethoven's 5th Symphony. It's actually a sampling of that tune for the intro of "When I Get You Alone" by Robin Thicke.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The season 5 wildcards, while not evil in the slightest, are depicted this way, observing and commenting on contestants from a secret lair.
  • Bling of War:
    • One of the strongest contenders, the Lion, is very gold.
      JB Smoove: If I was a rapper I would be wearing that around my damn neck.
    • Sun from season 4 is not only just as gold, but mimics a lot of Lion's dress sense and singing style.
  • Bookends:
    • Peacock delivers the first song in the first episode, and thanks to making it to the finals, the first song of the last episode.
    • "Stay With Me" was one of the first songs heard due to being featured prominently in the earliest trailers - upon winning season 1, Monster opted to sing "Stay With Me" instead of an encore of his last song as per the usual practice, making "Stay With Me" the last song of season 1.
    • The Sun in season 4 was the very first performer, and after winning, gave the very last performance of the season.
  • Breaking Old Trends: Season 4 onwards introduce some brand new mechanics never before seen in the series.
    • The Snow Owls are the first duo costume in the series—two celebrities compete and are unmasked as one. On a lesser note, it's also the first mobile costume, meaning it needs to be controlled via handlebars.
    • Serpent is the first costume to be part-animatronic. The six tail-like appendages attached to it are controlled animatronically.
    • Baby Alien is the first puppet costume on the show. The costume is puppeteered by the celebrity from the inside of the costume, making Baby Alien akin to a Muppet. As an added bonus, it hides the stature of the celebrity inside the costume.
    • While Gremlin doesn't add anything innovative, he is the first contestant to outright quit the show.
    • Season 5 introduces Cluedle-Doo, the first clue-meister costume—a costume that doesn't compete on the show, but instead gives out clues relating to the competing contestants. As a side note, he's also the first costume to be a reused design from another international version of the show (this costume is Mexico's Rooster).
    • Snail broke new ground with their unmasking as the first fictional character to be on the show.
    • The Russian Dolls also broke new ground, being the first band to appear as a contestant.
  • Brick Joke: The Cold Open of season 3 episode 14 has some much needed Lampshade Hanging when the Night Angel complains that her odd gaping mouth design means she's swallowed several bugs. During the competition, every singer has a edible dish for a physical clue, and the Night Angel brings out a plate of fried bugs. (Also a bit of Bait-and-Switch if you were expecting the Frog to be the one with a bug dish.)
  • Butt-Monkey: Ken Jeong. Nick and the rest of the panel rarely fail to crack a joke at Ken's expense when the opportunity comes up. He usually takes it in good humor, though.
  • Call-Back: Crossing with Bait-and-Switch, as some popular guesses during the first season show up for real as second season contestants.
  • The Cameo: Starting with Season 3, some of the characters from past seasons (but not the celebrities that portrayed them) make brief appearances in some way.
    • Miss Monster's debut performance includes a surprise appearance from the original Monster. Monster also appears in a couple of her clue packages, as well.
    • The Alien appears in a couple of Astronaut's performances.
    • Episode 10 has every singer deliver an additional "super clue" in the form of some item—for Kitty it's an appearance by the Tree.
    • The Eagle appears in the Cold Open for Episode 14.
    • Season 4 episode 8's Group B Finals does this with all four contestants that week, with four past costumes (Astronaut, Bee, Ice Cream, and Eagle) with some connection to the contestants appearing on stage to provide game-changing clues.
    • Regarding the celebrities and not their characters, T-Pain (formerly the Monster) appears as a guest panelist in seasons 2 and 3, Wayne Brady (the Fox) is a guest panelist in Season 4, and LeAnn Rimes (the Sun) is a guest panelist in Season 5.
  • Catchphrase: Ken Jeong: "I know EXACTLY who this is..." As early as Season 2, the audience anticipated it coming and said it along with him once. The catchphrase seems to be retired by the start of Season 3, although it came back in Episodes 6 and 15 of that season.
    Jenny: [to the audience] Don't encourage this behavior!
    • On a lesser note, Ken tends to say "Let me finish!" and "Hear me out!" as he talks about his guesses. He also sometimes defends his facts by directing skeptics to "Look it up!"
  • Character Filibuster: Panelist Ken Jeong has become known for his rambling deductions of the performer's identities. At one point, his explanation for who he thinks a contestant is went on for so long it put the contestant and the other panelists to sleep.
  • Christmas Episode: Season 2, a week ahead of the Finale, had a two night "Holiday Event", the second part featuring Christmas (and other December Holiday themed) music, decorations, and costuming galore. Season 4 also does a Holiday Sing-a-long episode.
  • Clip Show: Season 3 episode 12, basically a greatest hits compilation of all the remaining singers, turned into karaoke videos to boot.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ken. Most of the time, he makes completely out-there guesses using Insane Troll Logic, which usually backfire on him.
  • Clueless Detective: Ken often comes off as one, partly because of his over-the-top predictions and partly because he's gone zero-for-three at identifying people he's personally worked with. He also sometimes seems to employ Insane Troll Logic. But he’ll also every now and then make some educational guesses, and has been spot on once per season in seasons 1-3 and 5 and three times in season 4, and notably was the only one to correctly guess that person in season 1 (Unicorn), season 2 (Thingamajig) and one in season 4 (Whatchamacallit).
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: Often done to delay the results of the individual matchups.
  • Confusion Fu: The Rabbit claims to be deliberately switching his song styles, from Latin pop to country rock to old school hip-hop, for this very reason.
  • Costume Porn: The costumes for this show are gorgeous, each being detailed and eye-catching, reflecting the contestant's chosen persona while still allowing for a lot of showmanship. The designer, Marina Toybina, has done costumes for superstars such as Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Ariana Grande, and Britney Spears in the past.
  • Cryptically Unhelpful Answer: When pressed for clues by the judges, a few contestants give these — for example, the Poodle stating, "I'm here for your honor." Turns out that "your honor" is said a lot in courtroom scenes on Drop Dead Diva, featuring Margaret Cho.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Season 4's Popcorn presented an unusual clue item, matzo ball soup with rabbit ears sticking out of it - because she'd already beaten season 1's Rabbit in a different competition. Yowch.
  • Did Not See That Coming:
    • In the season 5 premiere, nobody was expecting Kermit the Frog to be unmasked as The Snail.
    • Also, in the fifth episode of season 5, nobody was expecting Nick Cannon to be unmasked as The Bulldog. This was mainly because a lot of fans thought he was Cluedle-Doo, which turned out to be impossible because Nick Cannon had tested positive for COVID-19 (the reason he was absent from the first several episodes).
  • Dramatic Unmask: One of these concludes every episode, with the eliminated contestant having their identity revealed.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Happened a couple of times in Season 5:
    • Nicole guessed Grandpa Monster as Jake Paul, citing his troublemaker behavior, boxing history, and internet personality vibe. All those clues are valid, except it was the wrong Paul brother as Grandpa Monster was Jake's big brother Logan instead.
    • Similarly, in the Super Eight, Crab's Food clue are marshmallows, which Robin deduces refers to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and thus guessing him as Ray Parker Jr. As it turns out, he did guess right that the marshmallows were a Ghostbusters reference, but he got the wrong movie - Crab (aka Bobby Brown) contributed to the soundtrack of the sequel.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Many costumes incorporate some amount of glitter, rhinestones or jewels.
  • Exact Words: Season 2's cast was boasted as having, among other things, "7 Super Bowl appearances". None of the stars revealed that season were football players; this actually referred to their halftime/national anthem performances.

    F-O 
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing:
    • In the second last episode of season 4, Robin mentioned that they had yet to see the one Olympic champion touted in the teasers, and was confident that it was Jellyfish. While he was right, it was Ken who was the first to figure out which Olympic champion exactly.
    • In season 5, the third wild card, Bulldog, is immediately booted, and in a rarity for this show, needs zero assistance in getting his own mask off. Since Nick Cannon has witnessed four whole seasons' worth of unmaskings, he'd probably learned how it was done by now.
  • Foreshadowing: Notice how the Peacock quietly laughs every time Jenny McCarthy suggests that Donny Osmond is his true identity? The first time it happens, everyone assumes that her guess is way off and he just found it amusing. Turns out, he was laughing because she was 100% right.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: One during the Frog's first clue package. It's not a hint towards his identity, but a paragraph lampshading how some people will look for clues everywhere.
  • From a Certain Point of View: Some clues are deliberately broad.
    • When all the first season masked singers presented physical items with some meaning to their real identities, Peacock presented a shaggy wig and claimed that it got him thrown into prison. This is part of the plot of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, known for once having Donny Osmond in the title role.
    • In a similar misdirect, the Flamingo claimed to have been baptized in Israel. Israel is her husband's name.
    • Also in Season 2, Thingamajig talks about spending time in rehab. Physical rehab, for his knee.
    • In season 5, Snail mentions that he's better known for recruiting talent than showcasing his own. It's been repeatedly stated that Kermit is the one who hired the rest of the Muppets for their various projects.
  • Guest Host: Niecy Nash hosts the first few episodes of season 5 as a result of Nick Cannon coming down with COVID-19.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: The smackdown, introduced in season 2, allows the bottom 2 singers of the week another chance to stay in the competition. Both get approximately a minute to sing another song and the panel members vote and decide who stays.
  • Hidden Depths: The premise leads to this, with several celebrities involved saying that they're not known for their singing prowess. Indeed, three of the first four to be revealed in Season One (Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, comedian Tommy Chong, quarterback-turned-NFL announcer Terry Bradshawm and comedian Margaret Cho) aren't singers at all, note  and Bradshaw's musical days were long behind him until he signed on for the show.
  • The Host: Nick Cannon, formerly of America's Got Talent, and now with more hair.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Episode 6.
    Nicole: Dr. Reigning Champ... I'm gonna need you to rein it in.
  • Incredibly Long Note: Mushroom manages to hold a note for about ten seconds at the end of their second performance in Season 4.
  • In-Series Nickname: Ken Jeong is not just the star of Dr. Ken but actually a qualified doctor, which has led to Nick Cannon calling him "Dr. J" or "Dr. Ken". Ken, meanwhile, frequently calls Nick "Daddy."
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Hollywood is fairly well-connected, and several of the singers and judges have worked with one another before:
    • One recurring guest panelist is Joel McHale, Ken Jeong's co-star from Community. In season 3 they add Yvette Nicole Brown, who's not just from Community, but appeared with Ken in Avengers: Endgame!
    • Ken also frequently makes references to his friends and people who have been his costars in various films and shows (though a number of such claims, like "Of course I know him; he's in my book club!" are Blatant Lies). In season 5, Niecy Nash tells him that he's the greatest name-dropper she's ever known.
      Ken: That's exactly what Barack Obama told me!
    • Starting in Season 2, one round of hints each season has the singers refer to a time they've met one of the judges before:
      • Season 2: Not everyone had actually met a judge, but of the ones that did; the Tree said she received a standing ovation alongside one of them, Flamingo "shared some couch time" with one of them in 2013, and Fox claimed to spend one of the best weekends of his life with a judge. Only the Tree's was openly explained: Ana Gasteyer was in A Christmas Story Live! with Ken.
      • Season 3: Episode 3, the Valentine's Day special, had all the remaining singers write valentines for certain judges, revealing something they did together once.
      • Season 4: In the Super Six episode, the Seahorse had been on a prior show that Nick hosted, Crocodile had been on-screen with guest judge Craig Robinson, Mushroom had worked with Robin, Jellyfish had tried to meet Ken (she explained at the end of the episode that she'd texted him once), Popcorn had talked to Jenny, and the last time the Sun had encountered Nicole was in a ladies' restroom.
      • Season 5: Yeti had met Nicole in Santa Monica, Black Swan met Robin at an afterparty, Chameleon shared a stage with guest judge Darius Rucker, Piglet was at a charity event with Jenny, and Cluedle-Doo and Ken had "worked with animals" before. Regarding that last one, Donnie Wahlberg had co-starred with Ken in Zookeeper — leaving unsaid the even bigger connection that he's married to Jenny.
    • In Episode 4 of Season 1, the Poodle is revealed to be Margaret Cho, who plays Ken Jeong's sister in Dr. Ken.
    • In episode 8 of Season 1, the guest panelist is Kenan Thompson, who may be known for Saturday Night Live now (on a rival network!), but worked with host Nick Cannon long ago in their Nickelodeon days.
    • Season 2 has Anthony Anderson as the guest panelist and the Black Widow is revealed to be Raven-Symoné who plays his sister on Black-ish. He also dismissed other judges' guesses that it was her.
      • Speaking of whom, Flamingo was later revealed to be Adrienne Bailon. Yes, two of The Cheetah Girls were competing against each other the whole time, and they never even knew!note 
    • Fox also claimed in one clue to be friends with the Rabbit (Joey Fatone) from the previous season.
    • The first episode of Season 3 had Robin's past collaborator Lil Wayne.
    • From season 3, Taco is Tom Bergeron, who has worked with all the judges except Ken to some degree. That's just taco sauce in the wounds, considering none of them guessed right.
    • Another failed guess for Ken in season 3 when the Swan turned out to be Bella Thorne, one of his co-stars in The Duff.
    • T-Rex turns out to be JoJo Siwa, who worked with Nick Cannon before as co-host on the Nick show Lip Sync Battle Shorties.
    • Episode 13 of Season 3 has Sharon Osbourne, who previously worked with Nick Cannon on America's Got Talent, as a guest panelist. It was later revealed that one of that night's singers was also part of this connection: the Kitty was Jackie Evancho, who rose to fame on Got Talent during Nick and Sharon's shared time on the show.
    • Also regarding Sharon Osbourne, Banana is revealed in that episode to be Bret Michaels, who competed with Osbourne on Season 3 of Celebrity Apprentice.
    • Season 4's Giraffe was revealed to be Brian Austin Green, a close friend (and former bandmate) of Robin's.
    • A Season 4 clue teased that the Popcorn is BFFs with another former contestant, and that Popcorn's real name had been given as a wrong guess in a previous season.
    • Season 4's Serpent was revealed to be Dr. Elvis Francois, a real-life orthopaedic surgeon who sang a cover of "Imagine" during the COVID19 pandemic period that went viral, and who sang a duet with Nicole during one of Season 3's "After The Mask" post-shows.
    • The first contestant unmasked in Season 5, the Snail, turned out to be Kermit the Frog. Ken had a bit part in one of Kermit's movies. Nick was out sick at the time, but he's connected to the Snail, too; he was hosting America's Got Talent when "Snail" made some guest appearances.
    • Turns out Seashell had not only worked with Flamingo before, but appeared one time with Fox. Tamera Mowry is a co-host of The Real with Adrienne Bailon, and performed an impromptu duet with Wayne Brady on Whose Line Is It Anyway?. She also grew up with Nick Cannon, as he stated when she was unmasked; she admitted that pinching his cheek in one episode was probably a huge giveaway (to him) as to her identity.
    • A Season 5 guest panelist was Rob Riggle, who had been in The Hangover with Ken.
    • Robopine was revealed to be Tyrese Gibson who's known for his work on The Fast And The Furious movies and later on Chameleon is unmasked as Wiz Khalifa who contributed several songs to said series.
  • Living Legend: A few of the contestants are this, fitting with the show's premise. In order of unmasking:
    • Season 1: Bee (Gladys Knight) and Peacock (Donny Osmond).
    • Season 2: Flower (Patti LaBelle).
    • Season 3: Miss Monster (Chaka Khan) and Mouse (Dionne Warwick).
    • Season 4: Broccoli (Paul Anka) and Popcorn (Taylor Dayne).
    • Season 5: Snail (Kermit the Frog) and Crab (Bobby Brown).
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Played for laughs in season 2.
    • Guest judge Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (a rottweiler himself) "confessed" to walking out on Rottweiler's mom.
    • The Monster got to be guest judge due to winning season 1, whereupon he outright addressed Thingamajig as "son". Granted he was out of costume and judging as T-Pain, but still.
  • Mask of Confidence: Many singers have commented on how liberating it is to perform anonymously and get away from their existing reputations.
  • The Men in Black: The show started out by selling its heavily-guarded nature, with bodyguards in the appropriate black suits and shades - who just goof around during clue packages and act as living props during the whole show, while certain behind-the-scenes videos show that the actual security is a lot more mundane and less obtrusive.
  • Muppet Cameo: Kermit's appearance as the Snail is one of the more insane ones.
  • Mythology Gag: In the final episode of each season, Nick Cannon proudly declares each winner as the "king/queen of the Masked Singers", alluding to the original show title.
  • Nice Hat: Their budget is a mile above the Korean version and it shows — the "masks" tend to be massive headgear.
  • No OSHA Compliance: There's something to be said about Nick being allowed to fire a t-shirt cannon at the panel. Apparently the intention was to make the t-shirts unravel and catch enough air to reach a harmless speed, but two of the shots end up going wide, and not at a harmless speed at all.
  • Once a Season:
    • Joel McHale is a guest panelist in at least one episode of each season.
    • Ken Jeong making at least one spot-on guess, as well as being unable to guess when it's someone he actually knows personally. For the former, he managed to sniff out Unicorn, Thingamajig, Rhino, Squiggly Monster, Whatchamacallit, Jellyfish and Crabnote . For the latter, he failed to identify Poodle, Tree, Swan, and Cluedle-Doo. Ironically, Jellyfish revealed that she tried to DM Ken one time and he never even knew, technically putting her in the latter category.
    • At least one Living Legend is hidden among the singers in each season (the full list is detailed above).
    • Jamie Foxx being brought up in some way. He's been guessed as possible contestants for seasons 1, 2, 4, and 5, and season 3 had him as the first guest judge, possibly to dispel the idea he was competing that season. During that appearance he goes on rant about how such attention from the show has been affecting his personal life, including his mother placing bets on him being a contestant. And Season 5 features a "swear jar" equivalent in which he's one of the names that offending panelists have to put money in every time they make a most often heard celeb guess.
    • There's at least one Monster-type costume among each season's ranks. note 

    P-Z 
  • Pre Cap: Every episode has at least one of them, at the beginning and before/after the commercial breaks.
  • Pop-Culture Pun Episode Title: "New Masks on the Block" and "Another Mask Bites the Dust".
  • Pun-Based Title: The fifth episode, "Mix and Masks". It's become more common in Season 2, with titles like "Mask Us Anything", "Mask-ish", "Mask and You Shall Receive", and "A Pain in the Mask".
  • Pungeon Master:
    • Robin Thicke is primarily a songwriter, so this comes naturally for him.
    • Nick often gets up to this as the host, and in episode 10 he earns some kind of gold medal with this one:
      (re: Frog) Did you find our judges' guesses a tad pole-arising?
  • Punny Name: Season 5 episode 6 has Nick dealing out physical clues by shooting them out of a dolled up t-shirt cannon, which he named "the Nick Cannon". Also overlaps with Visual Pun.
  • A Rare Sentence: Episode 6 of the first season.
    Nick: Up next, the Raven and the Monster... On what other show can you say that?
  • Recap Episode: Sing-alongs are generally just repeat performances by contestants while recapping some of what happened before. The first was introduced as a sort of filler episode to help pad out season 3, which was being enjoyed by countless families at home during the COVID-19 quarantine, and it was a popular enough concept that it's been done in each season since.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The Masked Singer is the only show where you can see Sarah Palin in a bear costume rapping "Baby Got Back"!
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons:
    • In the Season 3 semifinals, Ken Jeong, who had been adamant for a while that Rhino was once on the show JAG, deduces that the globes shown in one of Rhino's clues refers to JAG being the best show in the world at that time. Not surprisingly, no one takes it seriously. While the globes refer to baseball pitcher Barry Zito going to the World Series, Ken not only correctly guessed it was him, but Zito had in fact guest-starred once on JAG. Along those lines, right afterwards Nicole dismisses Ken's Rhino guess, saying he has to be a singer with his vocal skills. Zito is more widely known for baseball, but also began a music career, having released a few recordings and written multiple song tracks.
    • Early on in Season 5, Nicole guesses that the Chameleon is Nick Cannon. While she was wrong about that particular guess, she was right to suspect that Nick was one of the contestants - specifically the Bulldog.
  • Running Gag:
    • Ken hamming up his predictions. Season 4 extends the gag in some episodes, where he goes on for so long that everybody falls asleep or the other judges start trying to physically shut him up.
    • Nick's former marriage to Mariah Carey comes up a lot, especially in the second season.
    • Nick getting swatted by some of the more elaborate costumes.
    • Robin's puns.
    • During the Championships of each group in Season 3, the four contestants from each group give three of the judges and the guest judge something (a Valentine, a friendship bracelet, and a LEGO model) that connects them to their identity. Ken Jeong is left out for all twelve of these gifts, which actually leads to another running gag - thanks to Nick Cannon throwing a few bones his way as a direct result, Ken started calling Nick "daddy", which has lasted till the next season. And in the season after that, guest host Niecy Nash gets to be Ken's "mommy".
  • Running Gagged: Season 5 starts off with the absence of Nick Cannon, who made sure to send a "swear jar" of sorts to the set that offending panelists have to put money in every time they make one of the most often heard guesses from the series thus far, like Jamie Foxx and Bjork. Eventually the guys start treating it like a betting pot.
  • Secret Identity Vocal Shift: When not actively singing, each of the contestants speak with a usually high-pitched (or in some cases lower-pitched) electronic voice filter.
  • Serial Escalation: With each passing season, the show adds something new to the formula. Season 2 introduced the Smackdown, Season 3 gave us clue packages told by acquaintances of the contestants, Season 4 had new innovative costumes and the panelist-coveted Golden Ear trophy, and Season 5 had wildcard contestants and the clue-meister costume.
  • Series Mascot: Ken Jeong, who's not only in Masked Dancer as a panelist again, but appeared in Masked Singer UK, and as a guest on the Korean series.
  • Shipping: Comes up In-Universe.
    • Several contestants have jokingly flirted with Nick, but none more so than the Leopard (who, it should be noted, is a male in drag), who claimed that they'd gotten married and presented house plans for their new "dream home" as a clue one week. Nick gleefully plays along with this.
    • Upon hearing his gorgeous singing voice, Nicole immediately tells the Thingamajig that she'd gladly date him, even in the mask. Cue the two flirting for several episodes, including Thingamajig singing "I Just Haven't Met You Yet" and dedicating it to her, and her referring to him as her "future husband." When he's unmasked, Thingamajig's secret identity, Victor Oladipo, is quick to say that, on the off-chance she was serious, he'd be happy to go out with her.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Piglet's clue package reveals that someone (represented by a spider) in his past gave him a new lease on life, nodding to the premise of Charlotte's Web.
    • Cluedle-Doo interrupts the show itself with a hijacking frequency that creates fuzzy static and an old-fashioned "Please Stand By" message, similar to the then-recent WandaVision. What sells the reference is that the episode introducing him to the panel includes a jaunty little Villain Song in the same vein as "It Was ______ All Along".
  • Sinister Silhouettes: The four Wildcards are depicted this way during the Season 5 introduction.
  • Small Reference Pools: Season 3. Rhino's Navy-related clues led to Ken guessing that he was somehow connected to JAG, a show that nobody else on the panel seems to remember - which bites them in their collective asses when Rhino is revealed as Barry Zito, who did indeed have a guest appearance in that show. Even he was baffled as to how Ken worked that out.
  • Something Completely Different: Episode 5 of Season 1. With the head count down by 4, they fill up time by bringing all the singers for that night on at once for a non-scoring opening number. Later seasons have also occasionally done this.
  • Spin-Off:
    • In January 2020, Fox announced that it had ordered a dance-centric spin-off, which will be executive produced by Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen had already done The Masked Dancer as a segment on her talk show to parody the series, always noting that Fox hadn't sued them yet. The series debuted in December, after Season 4 of Singer ended.
    • Fox acquired another South Korean music format, I Can See Your Voice (a game show where contestants must distinguish good and bad singers without ever hearing them sing), put Ken in as host, and aired it alongside Season 4 — seemingly positioning it as a de facto sister.
  • Tempting Fate: One week after Ken Jeong managed to guess who was the Unicorn, he's strutting around proudly with a gold crown and shades, and insisting on being called "Dr. Reigning Champ". To nobody's surprise, he guesses wrong at the end and Robin Thicke, who makes the one right guess this time, seizes the crown.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: The Who's "Who Are You", fitting for a series where the identity of each contestant is concealed until their elimination. (To drive this home further, it's also played during each unmasking.)
  • Triumphant Reprise: When the winner is announced, one of their songs is played as they take their trophy.
  • Un-Entendre:
    • Host Nick Cannon has been encouraging the audience to loudly chant "TAKE IT OFF!" at the unmasking stage. Raccoon is the first contestant to take the phrase literally.
    • Season 3 contestant Taco has Nicole uttering "I looove Taco," which causes everyone else on the panel to meltdown.
  • The Unmasking: The contestant who receives the fewest votes is eliminated, and gets to take off their mask to reveal their identity.
  • Vaudeville Hook: In a Season 4 episode, while Ken (as always) does his prolonged guess for Baby Alien, Jenny ends up doing this to him so he could stop.
  • Waxing Lyrical: At some point the song choices were confirmed before the clue packages were filmed, allowing for this.
    Peacock: I want this [trophy] so much, I can't feel my face.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Season 4, episode 2. For the first time ever, a contestant willingly eliminates themselves out of the competition.
    • There's been a lot of buzz over season 4 having the strongest lineup yet, and episode 8 reflects that by raising the stakes with a double elimination that reduces the Group B singers by half.
    • Season 5, episode 5. During the elimination ceremony, guest host Niecy Nash reveals that she will choose who gets unmasked, rather than the panelists and audience. She chooses the Bulldog, who made his debut in the episode, and tells him to unmask immediately without even allowing the other contestants to leave the stage. Bulldog complies... and reveals himself to be none other than Nick Cannon, ready to resume duties as the show's host!
  • Wham Line: One line from Gremlin that changes everything on the show: "I wanna take this off right now."
  • Wham Shot: Snail's unmasking. "Who Are You" finishes playing, the big hat is removed... and there's no one in the costume. The entire set goes dead silent in bewilderment. This is followed by two rather familiar green hands creeping out onto the Snail's shell... and everyone watching goes wild.
  • Widget Series: It's often described as surreal, what with all the fanciful costumes and all.
  • Wild Card: Season 5 introduces several "wildcard" contestants. These contestants are not part of the original lineup of the season; rather, they appear at the end of several episodes of the season to try and join the competition for the Golden Mask.
  • World of Pun: Puns are all over the place, be they from Robin, Nick, the clue packages, or even the show's social media accounts.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: When it came time for the Phoenix's unmasking, Ken's First Impression guess was revealed to be Caitlyn Jenner. At the last minute, Ken changes his final guess to RuPaul. Lo and behold, Caitlyn Jenner was unmasked at the Phoenix, costing Ken a correct final guess. That being said, he still manages to earn a point for the Golden Ear due to his First Impression being correct, softening the blow.
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