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Series / The X Factor

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A British singing competition that has ran annually between 2004 and 2018, before being put on hiatus in 2019 and cancelled altogether in 2021. It is the Spiritual Successor to Pop Idol, and came about because producer / presenter Simon Cowell wanted an intellectual property that he owned the television rights to.

It's basically the same as Pop Idol (and American Idol) except the contestants are split into categories. The categories originally consisted of 16-24 year olds, Over 25's and Groups. However with the addition of a fourth judge in Series 4 (2007), The 16-24 category was split into boys aged 16-24 (16-27 in 2010) and girls aged 16-24 (16-27 in 2010/2) with the Over 25's (Over 28's in 2010/2) and the Groups categories remaining the same to give four categories in total. After the initial round of frankly embarrassing auditions, each Judge is randomly assigned a category and has to coach his or her group up until the weekly live shows, which enters a Final Battle where the losers are voted off by telephone polls until only one remains. After that, the winners pump out one guaranteed hit single (usually that year's Christmas Number One) — because the show is literally a two-month advertisement for their single — before becoming an answer in a pub quiz. It is worth noting, though, that five of the show's fifteen winners (notably Leona Lewis and Little Mix, who are the only successful contestants off of their respective series; Alexandra Burke, Shayne Ward, and James Arthur have done quite well, but didn't overshadow the other contestants the way the first two did.) have actually achieved continued success since their debut single, with Little Mix having released a top 10 single in the UK every year since their win, and therefore for 10 years in a row. There have been other cases where contestants who didn't win have gone on to be arguably more successful than the winners of their series (the most significant example being One Direction; although JLS, Olly Murs, and Cher Lloyd have also been quite successful). Australia also has the super successful Reece Mastin, Samantha Jade, Dami Im, and Taylor Henderson. However, since series 10, few contestants have gone on to have more than 1 chart hit if any, and many later series saw established acts like former girlgroup members, former Eurovision Song Contest or Eurovision selection process contestants, both at standard and junior level, and former songwriters including a vocalist of a famous EDM hit, involved in the auditions at least, passing their auditions and getting publicity, but with varying fortunes in subsequent stages.

It was probably the first show, before The Voice, in this genre to glamorise and promote the judges over the actual singers and when it comes to the final rounds; the contest is promoted more as "Which judge('s group) will win?" than "Which singer will win?," despite this fact many winners world wide have gone onto be major successes.

A celebrity edition, titled X Factor: Battle of the Stars, aired in 2006. Cowell was famously not fond of the series, calling it "pointless" and vowing to never do another one again... until 2019, when he officially announced a revived X Factor: Celebrity would run in lieu of a regular season, alongside an oft-rumored all-star edition. The planned All-Star version, intended to feature past contestants, was postponed indefinitely, as they had trouble getting contestants to take part. In its place, ITV announced X Factor: The Band, a Market-Based Title version of La Banda along with serving as the Spiritual Successor to Popstars, much like the main show serves as this to Pop Idol.

The format has been exported to numerous countries since its debut. An Australian version ran for a single season on Network Ten in 2005 and was later revived on the Seven Network from 2010 to 2016, while an American edition ran for three seasons on FOX from 2011 to 2013. Cowell left the UK series to judge the American X Factor for its entire run, returning to the former after the latter's cancelation.

Now with a character page (which could use some building for the UK and USA versions of the show, especially), as well as an index page for notable figures within the franchise.

    International X Factor Series 

     Judges History 
  • Simon Cowell himself (2004-2010, Battle of the Stars, 2014-present, Celebrity, The Band)
  • Louis Walsh (2004-2014, Battle of the Stars, 2016-2017, Celebrity); an Irish Cloud Cuckoo Lander with a tendency to put forward joke acts. His bickering with the other judges is a source of much of the show's humour. May or may not be Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Sharon Osbourne (2004-2007, Battle of the Stars, 2013, 2016-2017). Music producer and agent, also known as the wife of Ozzy Osbourne. The only judge prior to the near-total overhaul of the panel in 2011 never to have a winning act. Returned to the panel as Tulisa's replacement for the 2013 series, claiming to have signed a contract for a one-season deal and finally scooping up a winning act. She returned in 2016 and was set to be a live shows only judge in the 2018 series but later withdrew.
  • Dannii Minogue (2007-2010). The younger sister of Kylie Minogue, and like her a successful former actress and singer.
  • Brian Friedman (2007); showed up for two episodes as a replacement for Louis Walsh. Demoted back to his choreography position after Louis was bought back, though continued to appear nearly Once an Episode in that role. Moved along with Simon Cowell to the US version in 2011, where he has a somewhat less visible role, though he did appear in the first few live shows of the 2012 series, before the corresponding US season's live shows began.
  • Cheryl (2008-2010, 2014-2015); member of the group Girls Aloud, winner of Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. At first seems the least cruel of the judges but is a master of the Stealth Insult. She's also fond of deliberately being a pain in the ass to Simon. Known as Cheryl Cole during her first run on the show, and then Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in her second.
  • Gary Barlow (2011-2013); member of the group Take That (Band).
  • Kelly Rowland (2011); Former member of Destiny's Child, who's since carved out a niche for herself aside from simply being known as Beyoncé's bandmate once upon a time.
  • Tulisa Contostavlos (2011-2012); member of the group N-Dubz. She managed to mentor Little Mix to victory, but then got booted from the show for selling drugs.
  • Nicole Scherzinger (2010 as guest judge; 2012-2013, 2016-2017, Celebrity, The Band); member of the group Pussycat Dolls. First showed up during an incredibly popular spell as a guest judge in 2010. While her stint on the US version of the show didn't go down so well, she was still popular enough in the UK that she was invited back as a full-time judge in 2012.
    • Due to the abrupt nature of Kelly Rowland's departure and a failed attempt to bring back Dannii Minogue, the 2012 series began without a permanent fourth judge in place. Geri Halliwell, 2006 winner Leona Lewis, Rita Ora, Mel B, Anastacia, and Scherzinger herself sat in the vacant judging seat until she was hired permanently for the role.
  • Mel B (2012 as guest judge, 2014); formerly known as Scary Spice in the Spice Girls. She's no stranger to judging talent competitions, either, having previously appeared on America's Got Talent, the Australian The X Factor and guest judging the UK version before Nicole Scherzinger was officially hired in 2012.
  • Nick Grimshaw (2015); BBC Radio 1 DJ, television presenter. He's the host of Radio 1's breakfast show and replaced Louis Walsh.
  • Rita Ora (2015); singer. Jumping ship from The Voice, she replaced Mel B and is friends with Nick Grimshaw.
  • Robbie Williams (2018); singer, formerly of Take That (Band).
  • Louis Tomlinson (2018); solo singer-songwriter, one fourth of One Direction, who are currently on an indefinite hiatus.
  • Ayda Field (2018); actress and television presenter, who is among the current panelists of Loose Women and is Robbie's wife.
  • Leona Lewis (The Band): singer, winner of season three.

     Series Breakdowns 
Winners, their categories and their mentors:
  • Season 1 (2004): Steve Brookstein, Over 25's, Simon Cowell
  • Season 2 (2005): Shayne Ward, 16-24's, Louis Walsh
  • Season 3 (2006): Leona Lewis, 16-24's, Simon Cowell
  • Season 4 (2007): Leon Jackson, Boys, Dannii Minogue
  • Season 5 (2008): Alexandra Burke, Girls, Cheryl Cole
  • Season 6 (2009): Joe McElderry, Boys, Cheryl Cole
  • Season 7 (2010): Matt Cardle, Boys, Dannii Minogue
  • Season 8 (2011): Little Mix, Groups, Tulisa Contostavlos
  • Season 9 (2012): James Arthur, Boys, Nicole Scherzinger
  • Season 10 (2013): Sam Bailey, Over 25's, Sharon Osbourne
  • Season 11 (2014): Ben Haenow, Over 25's, Simon Cowell
  • Season 12 (2015): Louisa Johnson, Girls, Rita Ora
  • Season 13 (2016): Matt Terry, Boys, Nicole Scherzinger
  • Season 14 (2017): Rak-Su, Groups, Simon Cowell
  • Season 15 (2018): Dalton Harris, Boys, Louis Tomlinson

The show's most successful act is season 7's third-placed boy band One Direction, with Season 3 winner Leona Lewis not far behind. Some other notable finalists from this version of show include: Alexandra Burke, JLS, Olly Murs, Jedward, Diana Vickers, Cher Lloyd and Little Mix. On the international side of things, Måneskin (2nd place, Italy 2017) became the first X Factor act to win the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021.

     Winners & Contestants With Their Own Pages 

Depending on the extent to which you view reality as subjective, the show is either an important yearly television tradition or an ever-growing armpit stain on the shirt of British culture.

Not to be confused with X-Factor, one of Marvel's X-Men spin offs. Compare to Britain's Got Talent.

This series contains examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    A to D 
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • Louis, it's pronounced "Vagner", not "Wagner"!
    • It's "wei-shell" for Katie Waissel, not "wais-sell"
    • "Em-elia Light-ley", not "Am-ee-leah li-ll-eeh"!
  • The Ace: Nicole Scherzinger's brief turn as a guest judge had fans clamouring for her to replace Dannii or Cheryl — or even for a fifth judging category to be created — ever since the first episode she appeared in. She did eventually become a judge, albeit of the US version rather than the UK one. Unfortunately the US audiences weren't as enamoured with her as their UK counterparts, so back to the UK she went. (See Face–Heel Turn below.)
  • Aesop Amnesia
  • Ambiguously Bi: Lorna Bliss from 2011 attempted to swoon all of the judges with her provocative dance moves, including sitting on Louis Walsh's lap and attempting to climb atop Tulisa, much to her despair.
  • An Aesop
  • Ascended Extra: Olly Murs started out as a contestant. He placed second on the sixth series, then became the host of The Xtra Factor, and hosted the actual show alongside Caroline Flack for the 2015 series.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: "Tulisha!"
  • Atomic F-Bomb: In the 2015 series, the first thing out of a unhappy Simon's mouth when he got assigned the Overs category (again) was a loud "FUCK". He's visibly displeased throughout the 6-chair challenge.
  • Audience Participation: Beginning with series 6, aspiring auditionees would sing in front of not only the judges, but also an arena audience. The judges will take into consideration the audience's reaction in their decision to let the auditionee pass or not. The show also rolled out an app for viewers to vote on their favorite auditions and let their opinions be known as well. And in series 12, the producers decided that instead of assigning the categories to the judges, the audience will assign the categories to the judges via Twitter.
  • Auto-Tune: A component of Manipulative Editing revealed early on in the 2010 series, allegedly used to make bad singers sound worse (for comical purposes) and to make good contestants sound better.
    • Simon Cowell, when he learned that the editing team used Autotune to make acts sound better or worse, told them off and ordered them to remove any Autotune from any future episodes.
  • Berserk Button: On the 2014 series, auditionees bringing an acoustic guitar to their auditions became this because there were so many that Simon finally cracked and started smashing one against one of the equipment cases.
    • Mel B and Cheryl get pretty annoyed when auditionees ignore their opinions or disregard them completely.
  • Butt-Monkey: Louis Walsh seems to get it really bad from both the other judges and the auditionees, to the extent that some failed auditionees have physically attacked him when he voted not to let them through, despite his rejections never being anywhere near as nasty as Simon's. Moreover, he usually gets the groups who, with the notable exception of JLS, usually turn out to be by far the weakest contestants.
  • Call-Back: A cross-show (and cross-country) example. During Week 7 of the 2016 series, in which Ryan Lawrie performed "Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis Presley, another Elvis song, "A Little Less Conversation", was playing in the background at one point during his rehearsal package. Ryan's mentor, Nicole Scherzinger, previously danced to the song in question for her Freestyle during her stint on Dancing with the Stars.
  • Camp Gay: Choreographer Brian Friedman, 2010 finalists Diva Fever (try watching their performance of Boney M's ''Sunny'' and seeing how many stereotypes they managed to shoehorn in), 2011 finalist Johnny Robinson, and 2012 finalist Rylan Clark.
    • 2011 contestants, Kendro were...well, look at the image on the Camp Gay page, they could pass for that...
    • Also, 2016 contestants Bradley & Ottavio, eventually known as Bratavio.
    • In spite of the heavy social conservativism and rampant homophobia in his home country, it's hard to consider ex Montenegro Eurovision entry Slavko Kalezic as anything other than this, with his amazing fake braid, homoerotic song lyrics, and gender fluid style. He also played a fake prostitute in a movie.
  • Camp Straight: Olly Murs, when he was a contestant, clearly loves dancing. As a presenter on the Xtra Factor, he enjoyed flirting with the female contestants and his female co-presenter.
    • Simon Cowell. Oh come on, can you really admit you thought he was straight the first time you saw him? No denying that he is a first class womaniser of course.
    • Robbie Williams definitely counts as well.
  • Celebrity Edition: Battle of the Stars in 2005. It's a series Simon wasn't particularly keen on.
    • As of 2019, however, Cowell has seemed to flip on that opinion, with him announcing a new celebrity edition in lieu of a regular season that year.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Some of the acts fit this trope perfectly.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Louis, Sharon and Nicole are among the craziest of the judges.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The 2006 final ended up being one of these. Even the judges took the rare step of admitting early on in the final that Ray Quinn had absolutely no chance of beating Leona Lewis, and that all he could do was try and impress any record labels that might want to sign him up after the final. Although the media's prediction that Lewis would literally get 100% of the votes didn't come true (she got 62% of the votes; still a very solid win), there was never any real doubt who the winner would be.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Simon Cowell and his replacement, Gary Barlow.
    • Lucy Spraggan turns this into song format, which won over her audience immediately in her first audition.
  • Downer Ending: Things rarely ever end well for the contestants. In some instances, it's not even a happy ending for the winner, who either fails to chart or has weak album sales or doesn't even get a chance to make their album due to contract disputes.
  • Dramatic Pause: Dermot O'Leary is famous for this whenever he announced the results of the vote. Usually, he would say "The winner/contestant through to next week ... is..." followed by a long pause with a slow zoom onto every awaiting contestant as they prayed that their name would be called.
  • Dull Surprise: James Arthur's 2012 victory has to be one of the most low-key victory celebrations in the history of the show.

    E to H 
  • Eating the Eye Candy: The camera has occasionally lingered on some of the more attractive male auditionees. Guest judge Katy Perry refused to vote on an auditionee unless he took his shirt off, and the other female judges were occasionally at a loss for words after an attractive contestant auditioned.
    • Taken too far in 2018. One photogenic soul singer with a semi unbuttoned shirt asked the audience if they wanted him to remove it mid-audition. They didn't answer, but he persisted and was roundly derided.
  • Epic Fail: The infamous Leeds auditions in 2006, where a grand total of zero people were put through to Boot Camp. This led Simon Cowell to brand Yorkshire "a musical wasteland" and deciding never to hold an audition for one of his talent shows in that part of the country again. At ITV's insistence, they held auditions in the nearby city of Sheffield the following year — and ended up putting two people through to Boot Camp, where they both crashed out in the first round. After that, Yorkshire is now firmly a no-go zone for the show (and Britain's Got Talent).
  • Every Year They Fizzle Out: Despite being constantly referred to as the "head judge" while he was on the show and being probably the most well-respected member of the 2011—2013 panel, Gary Barlow never had a winning act, and in fact only even had one act (Marcus Collins) who even got to the final two.
  • Eye Beam: Christopher Maloney's performance of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in 2012 which had a creepy backdrop of his face grinning, shooting lasers out of his eyes, which even the judges picked up on.
  • Fag Hag: Sharon Osbourne
  • Fat Bastard: Ablisa, a duo of these. Incredibly rude to the crowd, judges and each other wile being utterly talentless.
  • Funny Foreigner: Wagner and Goldie Cheung are among the more notable examples of this trope. Certain seasons had foreigners who had shades of this trope but were genuine contenders, such as Andrea Faustini and Saara Aalto.
  • Fun Personified: The stage gimmick of 2015 contestants Reggie 'N' Bollie. Despite receiving near universal consensus that their singing leaves much to be desired, their performances are so high energy and infectious that the public appear to be more forgiving of their marginal singing abilities because the audience can expect at least one fun performance, especially if the other performances of the night are hit or miss.
  • The Gadfly: Upon returning to the show, Cheryl seems to have made it her mission to annoy Simon as much as possible. She even deliberately delayed an audition (with Mel B chiming in) just so that Simon couldn't excuse himself to the bathroom. (To be fair, Simon did bring that onto himself for saying he needed to go.)
    • In an interview with Graham Norton, she said in the middle of re-negotiating her return to the show, she learned that Simon was trying to keep the tabloids from learning his age and birthday, so she hired a plane to fly a banner around his house wishing him a Happy Birthday with his age on it.
    • Week 5 of the 2015 series opens with a bunch of jokes directed at Simon for losing all of his acts halfway into the show. Olly even spent the entire night directing more jokes at him about it. Even his intro started playing a clip of "All By Myself" as he walks to his chair.
  • Genre Blind: Really, anybody who believes winning the show is a guarantee to superstardom. Generally speaking, aside from Leona Lewis and Little Mix, it's those who go far, but don't win who do better. It's saying something when a boy band can go from a third place finish to global superstardom on a scale greater than all the show's winners to date combined.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Cher Lloyd does this with Cheryl Cole. Yet no other contestant did this. Hell, she even has Cheryl's mobile number/cellphone number - which again, no other contestant has. This has caused a lot of controversy in the show, making Cheryl into a hate figure, and accusations that she is a Magnificent Bastard (if there are any other female ones, it'd be surprising). Ironically enough, neither are enemies, yet it fits the trope.
    • However, since ending her season, Cher has claimed that she hasn't had much contact with Cheryl.
  • He's Back!: There are usually several returning contestants each year. They tend to fall into three categories; firstly there are the ones who narrowly miss out at Boot Camp or the Judges' Houses, and decide to try again. Secondly, those who show potential at their first audition, but don't get through due to a lack of confidence or a poor song choice. And thirdly, the delusional morons who can't sing at all, yet keep auditioning in the vain hope that the judges will suddenly have a change of heart and put them through.
    • Attempted, but failed with Dannii Minogue in 2012. Cowell invited her back after Kelly Rowland bailed out only a few weeks before auditions started, but due to Minogue being reluctant to disrupt her young son's upbringing (and supposedly due to her being peeved that Cowell had let slip that he briefly had a secret love affair with her) she demanded the head judge's role and more than the combined pay of Barlow, Walsh and Contostavlos in order to return. She didn't get it, leading to another round of guest judges that year.

    I to N 
  • Is It Always Like This?: A frequent question from the "next generation" judges to Louis Walsh on the more outlandish contestants during the auditions phase.
    Katy Perry: I came all the way over here for this?
    Louis: It gets better.
  • Invincible Hero:
    • Leona Lewis and Matt Cardle both topped the public vote every single week bar one (the first in Matt's case, and the second in Leona's) during their winning appearances on the show.
    • Rebecca Ferguson from the 2010 series was effectively a Boring Invincible Runner-Up, having finished in second place every week bar one (where she got pipped by Katie Waissel of all people) from the third week onwards.
    • Sam Bailey, Winner of Season 10. Whilst she did not dominate the vote as resoundingly as Matt or Leona (Runner-up Nicholas McDonald led the voting a few times), few doubted that she would win. Even from her audition, she was considered the favorite. In bootcamp, the Judges made private predictions of who they though the winner would be - all four said it would be Sam.
    • Megan McKenna became the first contestant to have topped the public vote every week of the live shows, when voting stats from Celebrity was revealed.
  • Large Ham / Large-Ham Announcer: Exaggerated with "Voiceover Man" Peter Dickson. IT'S TIME! TO FACE! THE MUSIC!"
  • Lethal Joke Character: Louis Walsh specialises in taking novelty acts like Jedward and making an absolute fortune out out them.
    • 2015's act Reggie 'N' Bollie have received near universal consensus that they barely sing, but are so high energy and cheerful when they perform that the public keeps saving them, even voting them into the finals and placing second.
  • Limit Break: In a lot of cases, but notably Katie Waissel, some contestants perform at their best when up for elimination.
    • A lot of the X Factor's "Joke" acts usually choose to sing a more serious song whenever they end up in the bottom 2. Rylan Clark singing Athlete's tearjerking ballad "Wires" (after spending most of his run singing upbeat pop medleys) was a particularly extreme example of this.
  • Long Speech Tea Time: Happened frequently during Geri Halliwell's temporary stint as a judge in 2010, including once instance where she spent several minutes blabbing on about her own career, rather than giving feedback to the hopefuls.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Simon's choice of song for One Direction during US Week - "Kids in America" by Kim Wilde. He was promptly called on it by Louis, who pointed out that the boys were supposed to be singing a song by an American artist, not with the word "America" in the title & chorus, despite Simon's assertment that meant it counted.
    • Tulisa's choice of song for Little Mix (Then titled Rhythmix) for Rock Week - A mashup of "Tik Tok" by Ke$ha and "Push It" by Salt N Peppa. She was called out on it, where she promptly pointed out that it was "Rock Week" and not "Rock Song Week".
    • Louis manipulated the rules during one season's Queen-themed week to allow Jedward to perform 'Ice Ice Baby' by Vanilla Ice, because it featured samples from 'Under Pressure', but largely because the duo had generally displayed a stunning inability to sing.
    • Sharon pulled off a similar feat during the 2016 season's Motown week by having Honey G perform "Mo Money, Mo Problems", which samples "I'm Coming Out" by Diana Ross.
    • In Series 14:
      • Week 2 was Latin week, but Leon sang Get Lucky, which, whilst Daft Punk are French, and one has Portuguese roots, isn't musically Latin, Sean and Connor sang Cheap Thrills and Grace covered Anne Marie's Caio Adios (the title is in two Latin languages but it isn't a Latin song). The 3 songs had arrangements adjusted to seem more Latin. Rak Su did their own song with lyrics about Latin celebrities like Shakira and Camilla Cabello.
      • In week 3, covers and mashups made by George Michael, like Adamski's killer/the Temptations' Papa Was a Rolling Sone, were covered by some artists.
      • In week 5, The Cutkelvins did their own song, whilst others covered British icons. The Cutkelvins are Scottish and there was no rule forcing acts to cover Brit legends only, but it caused derision.
    • Series 15: In big band week (final 8), only 4 acts did what you might call conventional swing songs, and A & A did their own song. The other 3 did ballads in which the orchestra used violins, harps, etc, as opposed to stereotypical trumpets of big band.
  • Manipulative Editing / Glurge: a BBC reporter went to an audition, and subsequently described how the auditionees are repeatedly instructed to scream and dance for the cameras, and are even given their "homemade" signs to wave around. Hearing sad violin music is a practical guarantee that the person on screen will be successful.
  • Metaphorgotten: This has become Simon's Character Tic as his critiques end up having increasingly ludicrous metaphors, leading Cheryl and Mel B to make fun of him.
    • For Andrea Faustini's performance of Beyonce's "Listen", he compared the performance to eating donuts, baffling everyone.
    • Simon somehow compared Che Chesterman's performance to his dogs, leaving Nick Grimshaw wondering if that was a Stealth Insult.
    • The food metaphors continued in the third week of live shows of Series 13, when he said Ryan Lawrie's performance of "Rolling in the Deep" was like "a pancake if it sang", in that "it was flat".
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: A True Blood fansite used Janet Devlin's picture when they meant to use Deborah Ann Woll's - yes, they do look similar, but are not that similar!!
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Many of the boy bands that competed on the show tend to be groups of these, depending on how old the members are.
    • For individual acts, notable examples are Sam Callahan in Series 10, Jake Quickenden in Series 11, and Matt Terry in Series 13.
    • Try Star in the 2019 celebrity series certainly count, especially with their rendition of X Ambassadors' "Boom".
  • Ms. Fanservice: Cheryl Cole or Danni Minogue. Take your pick.
    • Girl band Hope may be the show's best example. To compensate for their lack of vocal ability their stylists put them in really skimpy outfits, and one of their routines saw them giving Simon Cowell a lapdance. For some reason Simon (who also happened to be their mentor) chose to save them from elimination when two of his groups landed in the bottom two early on.
    • In the final regular series, Greek/Armenian rnb singer and songwriter Athena Manoukian doing the 50 Shades version of Crazy In Love left the male judges in a state of shock, and led to Robbie leaving his wife Ayda confused.
  • Muppet Cameo: In the November 27, 2011 episode, Olly Murs sang "Dance With Me Tonight" as a duet with Miss Piggy, with Fozzie, Animal, penguins and Statler and Waldorf also appearing. This was used as a bonus track on the UK release of The Muppets (2011) soundtrack.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Some contestants can wash out in the middle rounds, only to come back the following year and go further on their second chance.
    • Joe McElderry auditioned for the show in 2007 but withdrew during bootcamp, feeling he was too young at the time and returned two years later and made it to the live shows, where he won and became the youngest male winner of the show.
    • Alexandra Burke auditioned in 2005 and made it to Judges' Houses but didn't make the final four of Louis' category. She returned three years and won the competition.
    • Jade Thirlwall auditioned twice in 2008 and 2010 and was eliminated at boot camp. She returned in 2011 and won as a member of Little Mix.
    • Liam Payne also auditioned in the 2008 season, made it to boot camp and was eliminated, then brought back by Simon to Judges' Houses before getting eliminated. He returned in the 2010 season and placed third as a member of One Direction.
    • Paul Akister made it to Judges' Houses with Louis in 2013 but was rejected. He returned for the 2014 season and made it to the live shows under Mel B's guidance before placing 9th.
    • Monica Michael made to the 6-chair challenge with Cheryl in 2014 and ended up getting eliminated. She returned in 2015 and placed 8th in the live shows as the season's only wild card selection after getting passed over by Rita Ora at Judges's Houses.
    • Relley C auditioned in 2013 and made it to judges' houses with Nicole but was eliminated at said stage. She returned in 2016 and made it to the live shows under Sharon and finishing 10th.
    • Gifty Louise previously auditioned in the 2015 series but was eliminated at boot camp. She returned in 2016 and eventually made it to the live shows under Simon, finishing 9th.
    • Emily Middlemas first auditioned in the 2014 series and was eliminated at the Judges' Houses stage. Like Relley and Gifty, she returned in 2016 and eventually made it to the live shows, also mentored by Simon, alongside boyfriend Ryan Lawrie (who also made the live shows as a solo act, mentored by Nicole).
    • Megan McKenna actually auditioned for the show in the 2014 and 2015 series, making it to bootcamp but did not reach the Six Chair Challenge. It was until after her new found fame in The Only Way Is Essex that she made it to the final 13 of the 2019 celebrity season and eventually won.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Cheryl Cole falling ill with malaria was featured in just about every trailer for the 2010 series. It never appeared or even got anything more than the most cursory mention in the series itself.
  • Non-Gameplay Elimination: Emily Nakanda was thrown out of the 2007 series after it was revealed that not only had she been involved in gang violence as recently as the month before her first audition, she had actually filmed herself in the act and uploaded the footage to YouTube.
    • Frankie Cocozza from the 2011 series became the second person to be thrown out after breaking one of the "golden rules". It is rumoured that the rule was broken when Frankie openly talked to production staff about taking cocaine.
    • Lucy Spraggan from 2012 become the third victim of those trope, although unlike Emily and Frankie, she wasn't evicted from the competition, she quit due to her falling health.
    • Brooks Way from 2016 withdrew even before having a chance to perform at the live shows at the request of ITV after one half was accused of causing domestic violence to his now ex-girlfriend.

    O to T 
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Alternate Character Interpretation of Louis Walsh.
    • Amelia Lily, as well.
  • Odd Name Out: One of the 2012 series's final three Groups, Union J (formerly known as Triple J), got its name due to all its members having names that begin with the letter J — Jaymi, JJ, and Josh. The theme was somewhat broken, spelling-wise, with the pre-Judges' Houses addition of previously eliminated solo act George Shelley (though phonetically his name still matches the others'). After George's departure from the group, a more straight example came with the addition of Casey Johnson, a former member of the 2014 series' Stereo Kicks.
  • One-Steve Limit: Subverted in Series 10, in which two of the finalists were named Sam (eventual winner Sam Bailey and token Mr. Fanservice Sam Callahan).
  • Peacock Girl: Invoked in series 11 with Fleur East's performance of Alicia Keys' 'If I Ain't Got You', which saw Fleur wearing a blue dress backed by a display of peacock feathers on the screen behind her.
  • Product Placement: Averted for the first eight series as it was illegal in the UK at the time. However from 2008, there was almost constant appearances of Bowers & Wilkins audio equipment. Weirdly, they are not endorsing the show.
    • Played straight from 2012 with the constant appearances of Samsung tablets.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "EVERY! SINGLE! THING! THE! ANNOUNCER! SAAAAAAAAYS!!!"
  • Remember the New Guy?: Sometimes, an act may become a major contender at Bootcamp or Judges Houses without getting much screentime in the audition rounds. Little Mix went on to become one of the most successful X Factor winners after being put together at the end of Bootcamp, but they had barely received any screentime before this, with only Perrie Edwards being shown in a montage during the audition stage.
    • One Direction were a downplayed example, as Liam Payne (Who had made the Judges Houses in an earlier season) got extensive screentime during the early rounds, but other members were barely shown at all.
  • Revolving Door Band: The Risk in 2011. The groups was originally formed with five soloists (Andy, Ashley, Derry, Marlon and Mitchell) at Boot Camp, much like any previous series. However, at Judges' House, Tulisa dropped Marlon and Mitchell from the group and replaced them with Charlie from eliminated group The Keys. By Week 3 of the Live Shows, Ashley quit and was replaced by another member of an eliminated group, this time being Ashford from Nu Vibe. Andy and Derry remain the only remaining original members. They were eliminated before any more changes could occur.
  • Rules Lawyer: Louis Walsh seems to have become one of these in the 2009 series.
    • He employed this to brilliant effect during that year's auditions, though. After one auditionee gave a rather... unusual rendition of "Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey, Simon went to call a judge's vote immediately, but Louis insisted that the auditionee be given the chance to perform another song (each person that auditions is allowed two attempts; one without a backing track, and one with). What followed was a truly mind-bending version of another Mariah Carey song - this time "Hero" - that had the audience singing along and the judges breaking down with hysterical laughter.
  • The Runner-Up Takes It All: Per series:
    • Series 1: Played straight. The winner, Steve Brookstein's relationship with Simon Cowell infamously crashed and burned, resulting in him being released from his contract after just a few months. Runners-up G4, while not massively successful by any means, stayed together for a few years and enjoyed relatively decent sales of their songs.
    • Series 2: Averted. Shayne Ward went on to have a pretty successful career, though it did peter out as the decade drew to a close. Runner-up Andy Abraham actually did almost as well as Shayne to begin with, but his career was completely tanked by his awful performance in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest. Fifth-placed Chico Slimani also went on to become a moderately well-known media personality, and his career received a brief revival following his 2012 appearance on Dancing on Ice.
    • Series 3: Averted, big time. Leona Lewis became an international superstar, while runner-up Ray Quinn only got a record deal that lasted barely six months and only ever released one album. To his credit though, since around 2011 Ray has begun enjoying some success in West End musicals, and also went on to win Dancing on Ice twice. Lewis was the show's most successful act until One Direction passed her number of records sold worldwide in 2013, though she still has more record sales in the UK for the time being, and is probably still the show's most critically acclaimed act.
    • Series 4: Double subversion, because neither winner Leon Jackson nor runner-up Rhydian Roberts enjoyed a huge amount of success after the show ended, nor did anyone else from this series.
    • Series 5: Averted; both winner Alexandra Burke and runners-up JLS enjoyed huge success, and picking which of the two has done better to date would be very difficult. (JLS have a slight lead in terms of record sold and awards won, but split up in 2013, while Alexandra is carrying on with her career — although on an independent label after her second album fared disastrously) Some acts from the series (particularly Ruth Lorenzo, who would follow Jedward's lead in placing in the top 10 at Eurovision with a non-uk country ahead of the UK, placing 10th with Spain and having intense admiration from other acts) have something of a following, though not to anywhere near the same extent as the final two.
    • Series 6: Played straight, though a lot of that's because of the huge number of acts from this series who went onto further success. Winner Joe McElderry's career initially faltered, though he soon picked himself up and enjoyed great success as a more operatic singer. Runner-up Olly Murs enjoyed more immediate success, which led to him eventually becoming a TV presenter, as did third-placed Stacey Solomon. However, all of these have been arguably trumped by sixth-placed Jedward, who may be divisive at best, but are likely the most famous act from this particular series. By now, Murs is definitely the series' most successful act.
    • Series 7: Played straight. Winner Matt Cardle suffered a troubled relationship with Simon Cowell, and while his career didn't live up to the utter domination he had over the contest, he had a positively-received run on the West End's staging of Memphis. This in turn lead him to a well-received musical theater career while still having a modestly-selling recording career. On the other hand, second-placed Rebecca Ferguson has been reasonably successful, but not as much as fourth-placed Cher Lloyd. But their success is nothing compared to third-placed One Direction, who skyrocketed to international superstardom, dethroned Justin Bieber as the number-one teenage obsession and became a major catalyst in his declining popularity, denied a rival boy band from having a similar level of popularity, and are far and away the show's most successful act, ever, with member Harry Styles getting even more afterwards.
    • Series 8: Averted. Winners Little Mix enjoyed reasonable and consistent success, which grew over a long period, becoming the first winner who had a later album and single more successful than their first original ones. This has continued in spite of various disputes with them, the label, and management forcing a label transfer just days before the release of their 5th album. In contrast, runner-up Marcus Collins seemingly dropped off the face of the earth, settling for Theatre, though remaining a close friend of Jade from the former.
    • Series 9: Averted for now, as winner James Arthur and runner-up Jahmene Douglas have been about as successful as each other. Jahmene had a number 1 album, whilst James has been reasonably successful across Europe and Australia. However, James was involved in several controversies regarding twitter spats, rap battles and text messages- to the point a fan who bought his successful album demanded a refund from iTunes, and a petition was set up to ban him from the show before apologising for his actions in 2016, re-signed to Syco and made a Career Resurrection with the single "Say You Won't Let Go", which became a number one hit in the UK, Sweden, Australia, Ireland and Scotland and became a US Top 20 hit in June 2017. The contestant who's probably the most well-known overall from this season is fifth-placed Rylan Clark, although that's more as a general media personality rather than as a singer.
      • Ella Henderson- who placed 6th- waited 19 months to release a single- and it than sauntered towards number one on iTunes beating the second place by 2 sales to 1. It became the fastest seller by a British act at that point of the year. The album also got number 1, but various contractual problems have meant that a second album was often delayed, with numerous label changes, though now on that of Rudimental. She now has had sustained success singing the vocals for various dance songs.
    • Series 10: Double Subversion. Sam Bailey's mostly covers album aptly released for Mother's Day topped the charts, but she seems like a conforming version of Steve Brookstein, but left the label by the following spring, having never released a true single, and, 5 years on from the series, everyone has seemed to give up on any of the acts becoming success stories.
    • Series 11: Initially appeared to be played straight, than became double subverted: Winner Ben Haenow and runner-up Fleur East both released their post X-Factor debut singles within a couple of weeks of each other, with Fleur's single "Sax" charting higher than Ben's "Second-Hand Heart". Fleur initially had a better shot as Ben confirmed that poor sales of his second single, and an album released against 1D AND Bieber and charting only 10th, resulted in him departing from Syco, however, her album underperformed as well, missing the top 10, and she's yet to follow up the massively successful Sax. She left the label too to continue her career, joining I'm a Celeb.
    • Series 12: Remains to be seen, but winner Louisa Johnson recovered her winners' song's failings with her successful collaboration with Clean Bandit, Tears, although she will be the first winner ever to not release their debut album in the year after their win, and was eventually let off Syco, in 2018, still without an album, in spite of high popularity. Reggie and Bollie meanwhile, were denied success with New Girl due to streaming, in spite of its use on an advert, its follow up struggled to make an impression on iTunes, and they haven't released an album either. Everyone else seems to have been forgotten.
    • Series 13: Matt Terry's first song was a collaboration with the mighty Enrique Iglesias. It seems to have outperformed 5AM's debut song, which interpolates DMX, but when there was massive anticipation for Saara's first post X Factor project, it was a big let-down - she was the first Finnish act to be named for Eurovision, for which she previously lost 2 selection processes, without a selection, though the public chose her song, club track about her open mental health struggles Monsters, from a choice of three. Her stage show from Brian Freedman was overdone and eclipsed by two ace female singers from the Levant, who provided a virtual 2 horse race (the one who won had previously won Rising Star, a show which ITV attempted to have alongside the X Factor in 2015 but cancelled it before it was due to begin as its unique concept failed in the US and Germany, in order to represent her country, and was the first woman to win that show). Saara? She was Finland's first finalist since 2014, but, whilst historically ensuring Azerbaijan were eliminated for the first time ever by narrowly making it in at their expense, she placed BELOW THE UK, who placed 3rd last and had their performance interrupted by a hooligan! The hosts stopped her from placing last. 3 weeks after Saara's let down, Matt was released by his label, having not even got top 20 for his album the prior winter! 5AM meanwhile never released or followed up Up in Here after admitting to lip synching it on BGT. They were sacked after an EP and split. A waste of three awesome talents. However, Saara has since appropriately ended up on Dancing on Ice, like Chico and Shane, and reached the final again...
    • Series 14: Rak-Su have toured with Little Mix, but their first post XF song , with Canadian DJs Banx and Ranx, hasn't charted, although it was just a preview song, and a second song with them has started to scale the iTunes chart with Simon Cowell setting them up as the heirs to 1D, although with presently modest results. However, runner up Grace hasn't even got that far, at least not yet. Maybe promoting on XF will boost both of them. Since than, Rak-Su, along with the icons they have supported on tour, were transferred out of Syco to another label after various rumoured disputes between the label, management and acts. Grace hasn't began yet.
    • Series 15: The acts from the series, like winner Dalton Harris, have elicited little more than moral success, with two of the series' most successful acts even ending up with criminal convictions (Anthony and Danny), with the biggest subsequent success from the acts in the live shows being Shan Ako performing Les Miserables at the West End.
    • As a series: Played straight: Although Leona Lewis was considered the show's most successful act, One Direction's international success has dwarfed the short-lived popularity of Lewis. This all came to full circle in 2013, because when the 10th anniversary finale special aired for the show, it was One Direction, not Leona Lewis, who were being promoted as the show's biggest success story.
      • Leona Lewis no longer has either the most Uk number 1 singles, nor US top 20 albums, of a winner, as Little Mix holds that honour. Bleeding Love is still probably the most successful song by any XF act ever.
      • Little Mix released a top 10 single in the UK every year for 11 years in a row from 2011 to 2021, whilst fellow winner James Arthur, fellow 2012 contestants James Arthur and Ella Henderson (and Rylan, though as a broadcaster), and ex-1D members Harry Styles and Niall Horan, have also displayed a high degree of longevity.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Frankie Cocozza, which eventually led this his producer-imposed ousting from the show.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Louis first pulled this trope in 2005 after getting humiliated by Sharon and Simon, which then he supposedly quit the show. He came back the following week prompting the public to call it a publicity stunt.
    • Sharon stormed out of the first live show of the 2007 series after two of her acts finished in the bottom two, which she blamed on the show being moved forward by quarter of an hour in the schedules. While she came back for the rest of the series due to her contract obligating her to do so, after that incident she made her mind up that she wasn't going to come back for 2008. It seems that she's since gotten over the incident, and made a return as judge for the 2013 series.
    • Upon his act Carolynne Poole being eliminated over Camp Gay Rylan Clark in the 2012 series, Gary got up from his seat and actually left the studio for a little bit.
  • Serious Business: Cheryl Cole received death threats when she didn't put Gamu Nhengu in the final 12 in 2010.
    • Same applies to the campaigns for getting Rage Against the Machine to Christmas Number 1 or for Wagner to win in 2010. Expect die hard fans of the show to bitterly complain and moan online about how people are manipulating the results.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Incredibly common among the first round of Hopeless Auditionees. One of the great joys of the early episodes of a season is watching Simon demolish such people.
    • One contestant in particular, Raign, kept bragging about how a song she wrote made it onto the Russian music charts and that Simon's opinion was the only one that mattered to her. She actually could sing, made it to boot camp, and did get Simon as her mentor as part of the Overs category. However, she earned Cheryl's ire by blatantly ignoring the other judges so when Cheryl decided against putting her through to boot camp, she called Cheryl unfair. Raign was then ultimately eliminated due to being outshined by more talented and amiable contestants in her own category.
    • 2008’s Ashwin Abinashi claimed that he was the greatest singer of all time. He received four no’s from the judges and was described by Louis as average.
    • In 2015, contestant Mason Noise had a particularly bad instance of this during Six-Chair Challenge. After delivering a strong performance, he instructed audience members to film him whilst he ranted about his lack of screentime during the auditions (the first episode of the season had aired before filming of the Six-Chair Challenge, with Mason only being shown in a montage). Simon was NOT impressed, and Mason stormed off without being given a chair. However, Mason was brought back for Judges Houses when another act dropped out, and made it to seventh place overall. Although he didn't have any more outbursts, his attitude meant that he was one of the least popular contestants in the live shows that year...
  • Straight Gay: Louis Walsh, 2009 winner Joe McElderry, and 2011 contestants Marcus Collins and Craig Colton.
    • Marcus probably isn't the best example of this trope, but he's decidedly less camp than Kendro and Johnny Robinson.
    • Louis Walsh is certainly camp. When he was supporting Brendan Murray, formerly part of his boyband Hometown, at the Eurovision Song Contest of 2017 he decided to invite hyper camp and homoerotic Slavko Kalezic, the Montenegro entry, to audition on UKXF.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The introduction of the "next generation" of judges has led to quite a number of Simon/Gary and Cheryl/Tulisa comparisons, with Dannii/Kelly (or alternatively, Nicole Scherzinger/Kelly) not that far away.
  • Take That!: Quite literally in 2012 when Gary was clearly embarrassed by Rylan's Camp Gay performances. Rylan' mentor, Nicole, in reply mentioned the Ho Yay heavy music video for "Do What U Like" by Take That (Band).
  • Talent Show
  • Teens Are Monsters: The group "Triple Trouble" attempted to subvert this trope in the 2009 series by showing that teens aren't all bad. Unfortunately they very much played it straight, by making death threats to Simon Cowell after he scorned their butchered version of the Rihanna song "Umbrella," earning them the distinction of being the first act to actually be booed off the stage by the new audience.
    • "Ablisa" in the 2010 series were almost as bad. Before they even started singing, Lisa was shouting at the crowd to shut up. Their performance was predictably terrible, and when guest judge Natalie Imbruglia criticised them, one of the two girls in the group, Lisa, snottily asked her who she was. Imbruglia just laughed off the remark, but the other girl, Abbey (who until that point had been by far the saner of the two) didn't react so kindly, and actually punched Lisa in the face before storming off the stage. Lisa followed and gave the finger to the judges and audience as she left. The two had to be separated by guards backstage, and Simon told the floor manager to relay that "It's four "No"s, by the way."
    • The lead singer of Triple Trouble actually returned in the 2011 auditions, intending to put in a better performance and make up for his idiotic behaviour two years previously, claiming he had fully matured and had actually learned how to sing. The second he opened his mouth it was clear that he still couldn't sing and was soon stopped by the judges. The instant that happened he marched up to Tulisa and interrogated her over why she had stopped the music, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Gary Barlow was the one who actually stopped it. Eventually, security had to be called to pull him away, after which the judges called him out on his attitude (Gary even told him that he "had matured like a bad curry") and told him, that in their opinion, he was talentless. He responded with "That's all fine and good, now let me give you my opinion". What followed was him verbally assaulting Tulisa, calling her "a scumbag", "a little bitch" and comparing her unfavourably to Cheryl Cole and ultimately concluded with him being escorted away by security while flipping off the judges. Louis deemed him "completely talentless" and after he went on a rant backstage, Dermot snapped at him to watch his mouth before he finally left the building. Also, this gave him the unusual distinction of being the first and fourth act to get booed off the stage (the second being the aforementioned Ablisa, and the third being a Michael Jackson impersonator — who proceeded to make his own return a couple of episodes later, where he unsurprisingly became the fifth act to get booed off).
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Kelly eliminated Amelia Lily, one of her own acts, in the first round of the '11 live shows when each judge was required to do so. Amelia was later brought back into the competition after Frankie Cocozza's eviction by public vote. Needless to say, relationships between the two weren't that cordial.
  • They Plotted a Perfectly Good Waste: This trope may explain how Jedward, Wagner and Bratavio made it through to the live shows. All three were put through by Louis Walsh, and his plotting seems deliberate.
    Gary: "You know what Louis does, he takes bad acts and makes them even worse."
    • This can also be applied to Honey G from the 2016 series. In her case, however, the blame isn't on Louis, but on Sharon.

    U to Z 
  • V-Sign: Naughty Louis once got into trouble for flicking one at the audience.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sharon's foul-mouthed and completely unprovoked rant at eventual winner Steve Brookstein during the show's first-ever final in 2004 got this reaction from a lot of people.
  • Wolverine Publicity: For their annual "finalists all sing for charity" single, the show's producers decided to add vocals from JLS and One Direction to the 2011 single, using the two bands' established fanbase to boost sales (which they seem to be worried about considering the recent slump in ratings). The two bands' appearance in the live performance of the song could also be described as beyond minuscule.
    • In response to the show's near constant chart-toppers (which can get stale after a while), the internet community decided to try and make Rage Against the Machine's "Killing In the Name" the #1 Christmas hit over Joe McElderry's... Miley Cyrus cover. They succeeded.