- Abhorrent Admirer: Richard Hammond gets a fan letter, ostensibly from a mentally-disturbed prisoner about to be released on parole... named Stuart.May: It's better than that. Stuart, come on in!
Hammond: [terrified expression]
- Absurdly Long Limousine:
- Clarkson's "Giant Panda", which was so longnote that it wasn't even road-legal and wound up breaking in half after being hastily truncated. It was also only a two door car, meaning the person sitting in the back had to use a cart on a pulley to get from his seat to the door.May: It's an ingenious solution to a problem that never should've existed in the first place.
- Special mention goes to Hammond's convertible limo. He chose an MGF because it was rear engined, but didn't install rear doors or a full length roof. The passenger had to get in and out using a pool ladder and the original roof did nothing but funnel the wind towards the exposed passenger. It also had a giant decorative spoiler on the rear (it had no chance of going fast enough to need additional downforce), and the throttle became stuck open.
- Clarkson's "Giant Panda", which was so longnote that it wasn't even road-legal and wound up breaking in half after being hastily truncated. It was also only a two door car, meaning the person sitting in the back had to use a cart on a pulley to get from his seat to the door.
- Adult Fear:
- Season 10 Episode 5 saw Clarkson slated to review a somewhat unprecedented piece of automotive engineering in the form of the Caparo T1.Clarkson: It hasn't had a particularly easy birth. At a press launch, a Dutch journalist was in it when some aspects of the front suspension came adrift and it speared off into the undergrowth. Then, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed the throttle jammed wide open. And that happened again when Fifth Gear were testing it. And then, at 150 miles an hour, it caught fire massively, burning the driver, Jason Plato, quite badly on the hand, the neck, and the face... And now it's my turn.
- Definitely Richard Hammond's jet-powered car crash. He did everything he could to prevent it and still nearly died, was in a coma for some time and suffered from memory loss, depression, and difficulties with emotional experiences. He notably does not do anything insanely dangerous afterwards, whereas before he was the most likely to sign up for something ridiculous.
- All three hosts when the aptly and ominously named "Final Challenge" of Season 21 Episode 3 is given. Clarkson stops reading and his face goes ashen when he sees the town name "Chernobyl". Cue Oh, Crap! expression on the faces of both the other hosts.
- Most severe example is probably the Bolivia special. Richard Hammond is terrified of insects and creepy-crawlies, so Clarkson's graphic description of insects and arachnids native to South America sent Hamster into panic-attacks. James May is utterly horrified of heights, so Yungas Road raised Captain Slow's blood-pressure rather significantly, and it also scared Clarkson badly when part of the road began to crumble from under his wheels.
- Season 10 Episode 5 saw Clarkson slated to review a somewhat unprecedented piece of automotive engineering in the form of the Caparo T1.
- A God Am I:
- Clarkson in the Middle-East Special declares himself the Son of God due to him being "JC". He then proceeds to "heal" James May's earlier head injury (i.e. takes the bandage off) and makes enough food for all three presenters, which he only manages because Hammond hates fish. He then walks on water; when May and Hammond challenge him to walk a little bit to one side, he falls feet-first into the Sea of Galilee.Clarkson: I HAVE INVENTED SWIMMING!
- Way back in the early series, let's not forget...Hammond: I AM A DRIVING GOD!
- And, of course, while building a bridge in the Bolivian rain forest:Clarkson: I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE!
Hammond: Has he got a chainsaw?
Clarkson: [starts up chainsaw] OH, YES!
Hammond: Oh, God.
- Clarkson also says that while testing the Snowbine "Dominator" in Norway. While operating a flamethrower.
- Clarkson in the Middle-East Special declares himself the Son of God due to him being "JC". He then proceeds to "heal" James May's earlier head injury (i.e. takes the bandage off) and makes enough food for all three presenters, which he only manages because Hammond hates fish. He then walks on water; when May and Hammond challenge him to walk a little bit to one side, he falls feet-first into the Sea of Galilee.
- Agony of the Feet: May gets part of the engine stand dropped on his foot during the DIY Caterham 7 challenge.
- A Rare Sentence: Jeremy gets two in the Botswana special. In the first he comments that the road is bumpy enough to "shake the skulls from your bonnet" and in the second he asks Hammond if he'd rather walk outside the tent towards a hippopotamus or stay inside with a horses head (actually a cow's head).
- From series 10:
- All Asians Know Martial Arts: At least the Stig's Chinese cousin does...
- All Drummers Are Animals: Clarkson is the drummer of the dubious "Top Gear Band."
- The Alleged Car: Every now and again, particularly during the cheap car challenges and overseas specials:
- The FSO Polonez, a Polish-built Fiat 125 derivative which so offended Clarkson that he decreed it be used to play conkers with the aid of an electromagnetic crane.
- Just about every car in the segment answering the question "Did the Communists ever produce a good car?" Answer: "No".
- Perhaps the best example: Clarkson's Maserati from the "Italian Supercars for Less than a Second-Hand Mondeo" challenge. Its engine completely and literally disintegrated (that is, showered the road with bits and pieces of itself) while under power. Jeremy also mentions the previous owner claimed to have spent £10,000 to have the engine rebuilt, but ultimately sold it for only £7,000. Notably the Maserati was a pretty literal example, as it was allegedly a Merak SS, but it turned out someone had just added an SS badge to the base car, so it was dynoed just 80 brake horsepower even before it broke; it was a supercar In Name Only. As the (perhaps literal) nail in the coffin, whereas most second-hand cars on the show are either sold on by the BBC or bought by the presenters in rare cases where they really like them, the Merak was deemed a write-off and sold for scrap.
In fact, that particular episode showcased the trope well in another way: none of the cars got to the finish line, due to various mechanical breakdowns, and May needed a breakdown truck just to get his car to the starting point. Hammond's was the only particularly reliable one of the three, and even that suffered a sudden electrical failure a few miles from the destination. This resulted in Clarkson saying that the lesson they'd learned was "Yes, you can buy a second-hand supercar for less than £10,000, but for the love of god, don't!"
- Clarkson's Lancia Beta Coupe during the Botswana special. If there wasn't a piece of cardboard over the battery terminals, it shorted out against the hood. Among other things, such as utterly refusing to start half the time.
- The British Leyland cars that they had to prove were not crap, especially Clarkson's Rover and Hammond's Dolly, fall into this area. For example, in a "driving comfortability" test, the Dolomite Sprint lost six pieces and the Rover lost two pieces, including the entire left back door. Oddly enough, outside of appearance, James May's Austin Princess was the least like this.Clarkson: He's twenty pounds in the BLACK! note
- Inverted by the emergency backup vehicles the producers will sometimes provide. Said cars note are always mechanically reliable, yet all three presenters will hate them for one reason or another and rather be dead or spend all night desperately fixing on their purchased bangers than drive it. For example, the backup bike for the Vietnam special was painted with the American flag and played "Born in the U.S.A."* on a loop at top volume.Clarkson: Children, if you are watching this at home and you don't know why this is as inappropriate a bike as it's humanly possible to conceive, ask your parents.
- Clarkson's Vespa during the Vietnam challenge was horribly unsuited to the area, slow, fragile and falling apart, and Clarkson's modifications (adding about a dozen mirrors to the front) didn't help.
- The Top Gear homemade "hybrid" electric car, the "Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust". Despite being completely "road-legal",* it was close to utterly undrivable and downright dangerous, with "features" such as a shiny aluminium bonnet that blinded the driver, a lawn-chair-based interior, a plastic 'observation bubble' made from a translucent plastic crate, two batteries to power it, a top speed of ten miles per hour, and a moustache. Autocar magazine didn't think much of it, although hilariously they still ranked it higher than the Reva G-Wiz (a real mass produced electric car). It also killed the Green Stig from the diesel exhaust from the generator inside the car.
- Richard Hammond's "Donkey" from the Bolivia special, a Toyota Land Cruiser which had things go wrong with such regularity you could set your watch by it. The starter motor burned out on the first day, the brakes were marginal at best, the windows couldn't be closed to keep out snakes, the steering got dangerously slack on the Yungas Road (a.k.a. El Camino de la Muerte), suspension springs broke away from the chassis, the transfer box jammed, the prop shaft fell off (twice), the clutch failed, and the rear differential sort of exploded. Oh, and the roof leaked.
- Clarkson's Ford GT. Though undoubtedly a cool car, it was so poorly built he never actually completed a journey from his home to the studio and back. Not helping is its fuel economy: 4 MPG, with a 17.5 gallon tank, for a fuel range of 75 miles. Jeremy's house is 76 miles from the studio. Made even worse by having a malfunctioning after-market alarm system that Clarckson had been legally compelled to install, which had such wonderful quirks as engaging in the middle of the night for no reason and locking Jeremy out of his own car.
- The All-Solving Hammer: If Jeremy Clarkson is ever in a garage, be assured that a hammer is not far away. He has used it to "repair" everything from door mirrors to stubborn gas caps.May: [while Clarkson is looking at a board of tools] That's the precision tool board. The hammer lives elsewhere.
- Ambiguously Gay: All three presenters frequently try to paint the others as this.
- Jeremy finds an online car magazine titled "Top Gayer", and accuses Hammond of leading a double life as its editor.
- James and Richard accuse Jeremy of this after Jeremy was a bit TOO enthusiastic in his interview with Will Young.
- Richard and Jeremy speculate James would want to be alone in a trawler with an attractive lad running the galley.
- Amusing Injuries:
- Anything that isn't life-threatening is played for humor. Even Hammond's accident comes up for laughs every now and then, but only well after the fact, and very delicatelynote .
- One particularly amusing injury was Clarkson testing the Nissan GT-R: it created so much lateral G's during high speed turns that he almost temporarily paralyzed himself, requiring an ambulance and stretcher. Naturally, Hammond called him a wimp.
- In Series 13, an award was given out for "Injury of the Year" in which the nominees were Hammond faking a crash test under an undercranked camera, Clarkson getting nailed in the plums by a paintball fired out of an F1 car's exhaust, and May falling on his face on a barge gangplank in Bolivia. The winner was actually (excerpted from some out-takes) both Hammond and May repeatedly bashing their heads against a very obvious camera light mounted in the windscreen of the Panamera they were racing against the Royal Mail.
- And This Is for...:
- During the American South challenge, the presenters were told to paint offensive slogans on the other's cars, with points awarded if the person driving said car was arrested or killed. They took on the job with a surprising lack of reluctance.Hammond: [painting Clarkson's car] Revenge for all those height gags. Every time he's called me "Hamster."
Clarkson: [painting May's car] This is for every time you've been late and lost.
May: [defending his work to a genuinely dismayed Hammond and Clarkson] All the times you drove into the back of my Cadillac.
- When Dara O'Briain and Ed Byrne came on the show, Ed narrated most of his lap in this fashion.Ed Byrne: This is for that time I was touring and you opened for me, and were funnier!
- During the American South challenge, the presenters were told to paint offensive slogans on the other's cars, with points awarded if the person driving said car was arrested or killed. They took on the job with a surprising lack of reluctance.
- Angrish: Get Hammond flustered or angry enough and he will lose the ability to speak coherently. The India Special also reveals that, if trapped in a queue too long, Hammond begins to swear compulsively.Hammond: I have this thing where, if I'm stuck in a $*#@(ing queue too long, I, #%43, wait, I just did it there, didn't I? #&^@. I need to ^#(@&ing get out of here.
- Animal Motifs: Clarkson, May, and Hammond have particular animals they're often called or compared to: Clarkson is an orangutan due to his brutishness and often Dumb Muscle tendencies, May is a spaniel because of his long wavy hair, and Hammond is a hamster because of his size and as a play on his name.
- Animal Testing:
- All of the official Top Gear t-shirts sold at their online store have written on their label: These t-shirts were tested on animals. They didn't fit.
- In the "affordable small cars" challenge, each presenter had to load a large dog into his choice of car and do a lap — though points would be lost if the dog looked sad afterwards. (The credits included the fake disclaimer: "Some animals were harmed in the making of this programme.")
- Annoying Laugh: James May, who is often compared to a honking goose.
- Answer Cut: Fairly frequent. For example, from the Vietnam special:Hammond: Do you think [Jeremy's] enjoying his first biking experience?
Clarkson: [riding his scooter, alone, on a darkened street and blinded by his own headlights] I am the most miserable human being alive!
- Anticlimax: A regular occurrence, but often happens when the audience least expects it.
- When they drove an F1 car indoors, and it managed... 81mph. They still set the indoor speed record.
- After years of hype, the Bugatti Veyron finally did a power lap... and finished fourth on the overall board before being immediately bumped down to fifth by a new Zonda. As Clarkson noted, they actually did end on a bombshell for once.
- Any time a car does a lap on the track, gets placed on the board, then is immediately taken down for violating one of the rules (the most frequently cited rule is "can't drive over a sleeping policeman/speedbump").
- Anvil on Head:
- After 12.06 when May and Clarkson set a Morris Marina on fire, they received so much hate mail from the Morris Marina Owners Club that subsequently whenever the car appears on camera, it is almost guaranteed to be destroyed, usually by a piano falling on it.
- In one memorable instance, when they dropped a piano on a Morris Marina... which already had a piano tied to its roof.
- Anyone Can Die: Due to the nature of the show, the presenters might be seriously hurt or even killed while filming. That being said, every effort is made to minimize the risk. They also make jokes about this such as "So, we'll come back to that later and see if I die or not" during a dangerous challenge.
It's been played with on a number of occasions. Richard (e.g. Car for a 17-Year Old Challenge) and James (e.g. 100 Pound Cars Challenge, Communist Cars, Albanian Trip) have crashed into something and played dead. The remaining presenters will cheerfully discuss how they ought to replace their late comrade, often giving the BBC mailing address to ask for a new presenter. After Hamster's accident it was revealed that the presenters have a pact that should any of them be Killed Off for Real, then they would start the next episode of the show with a mournful announcement, pause for a moment, then kill the mood completely by cheerfully saying "Anyway..." and carrying on as normal.
- Appropriated Appellation: "Hamster," and to a much lesser extent, "Jezza" & "Captain Slow." "The Stig" was also the name stuck on new boys at Clarkson and Andy Wilman's old school — it has since become synonymous with white clothing and sheer automotive badassery.
- Arch-Enemy: Rubens Barrichello seems to have become one to The Stig, after he broke his lap record time in the Liana.
- Argument of Contradictions: Most arguments between Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson end up in this.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The list of famous people who owned a Mercedes 600 Grosser. Like Idi Amin, Leonid Brezhnev, Enver Hoxha, Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot, and...Elvis Presley.
- Shortly after that episode, Jay Kay came back to try and retake his former spot at the top of the board, and mentioned he owned a Grosser originally owned by Coco Chanel (Jeremy's was owned by the Egyptian ambassador).
- During the communist cars showcase, Jeremy lists the ZAZ-968's special variants; the 968MB2 for people with only one foot, the 968MB2 for people with no feet, and the 968MA which had a 0.7-litre engine.
- Ascended Meme: The show possibly invented, and certainly popularised, "flappy paddle gearbox" as another word for race car-style semi-automatic transmission.
- Asian Drivers: All three fear for their lives at some point while riding their bikes in Vietnam — though the sheer number of people on the road had more to do with it than their nationality.
- Aside Glance: Hammond and May excel at these, usually as nonverbal commentary on whatever Jeremy Clarkson is doing.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: The V8 Blender:[Clarkson puts on ear muffs]
May: Is it loud?
Clarkson: [points to the V8 sitting on the floor] 'Is it loud,' James? Yeah, 'course it's loud.
- Ass Shove:
- Clarkson claimed to have been rectally violated by the gearstick of his truck in the Season 12 lorries challenge.
- Clarkson was also violated (implied offscreen) in the Season 14 Bolivia special, when the TG3 crossed the border of Bolivia into Chile, and were patted down by the border patrol.Clarkson: [narrating] At the border post, we were given the traditional welcome.
[exterior shot of border station]
Clarkson: [from inside] MY ARSE!
- In his bout with a Lotus rental F1 car, he commented that this had happened while he was being provided with padding foam to sit on, since he was too large for the seat.
- Assumed Win: In the Botswana episode, when the backup vehicle, a Volkswagen Beetle, wins.
- A-Team Firing:
- Clarkson trying (and failing miserably) to hit biathlon shooting targets with an MP5A5 machine pistol during the Winter Olympics special.May: The great thing about Jeremy's shooting is that you are perfectly safe just as long as you stand right in front of the target.
- Averted by the time they do the US East Coast challenge in Series 16, as they get instruction from a trained expert.
- Clarkson trying (and failing miserably) to hit biathlon shooting targets with an MP5A5 machine pistol during the Winter Olympics special.
- A-Team Montage: Used during the overseas trips when the challenge has the presenters working to modify their rides, often including the actual A-Team theme music. Lampshaded several times:
- In the Winter Olympics special, when the theme to The A-Team was used as background music for the A-Team Montage of the boys preparing the rocket-powered Morris Mini and the Lillehammer ski jump for the Mini's ski jump attempt.
- The theme music was hummed by James May in the Vietnam Special during a montage of the boys modifying their cycles into watercraft so they can make it to the finish line in Ha Long Bay.
- The music was played in both the Bolivia and Middle East specials, when Clarkson announced it was time to "find a workshop and cue the music."
- Played in the Africa special when building a car ferry with a traditional African music flavor to it, including chanting.
- The car for the elderly also gets a montage, but since it is a car for old people, it's a much more sedate, classically-styled version.
- Also lampshaded in the 100 pound car challenge when all three of them show up at the test track...although Clarkson came in a little later
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Jeremy has been known to abuse this trope as a way of trying to dodge admitting to having lost an argument, such as exclaiming JESUS IS HERE! and drawing attention to a male member of the audience with long brown hair (and optionally a beard) during News segments.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Max Venturi, Lamborghini Tester!
- Awesome, but Impractical:
- Supercars: easy to break, easy to do stupid things and get yourself killed to death in, unsafe in various other ways ("but what a way to go!"), hard to see out of, hard to park, short and wide, and not just expensive sticker-wise: they guzzle fuel, burn through lots of tyres, incur boggling maintenance bills, and depreciate in resale value right off of a cliff, especially if you don't max out the options list when you buy them new and pick a popular color.
To make things worse, when supercars catch on fire, because of the materials they're made of, they actually burn more intensely than normal cars. Catching fire and burning to the ground is definitely awesome and impractical, but horrifying if it's yours or you appreciate cars. And yet: "Well, we're not in it, we're not moving in it, but I'm still enjoying it."
- Taken to an utter extreme with the GT 40. Jeremy utterly fell in love with the new version Ford released, all but giggling with glee when driving it. Richard and James however pointed out a huge problem with the thing, the fuel economy. The car has a 17.5 gallon tank, but does 4 miles to the gallon. That means, on a full tank, Jeremy would only be able to go 75 Miles before needing a refuel. The drive from his house to the BBC office is 76 miles. It later won the worst gas milage, even over a burning oil refinery.
- The V8 Blender, which can blend bones and a brick, but is used to make terrible creations. For example, the concoction that James May dubbed "The Bloody Awful".
- The trio's solutions to various engineering challenges, which often look great on paper but come up short when the rubber hits the road (so to speak). A prime example would be the Motorhome Challenge, in which the three presenters' solutions were spectacularly impractical in completely different ways:
- James took a Lotus Excel and fitted it with an aluminium "roof box" that was (barely) large enough to accommodate one person lying down.
- Richard used an old Land Rover as the basis for what could probably best be described as a collapsible chalet, which took hours to construct and just as long to pack away, couldn't be moved when deployed, and was useless for protection against the elements.
- Jeremy built a three-story "apartment" on top of a Citroën estate, and the result was too tall to comfortably clear bridges, uncontrollable at anything approaching highway speeds, and so sensitive to wind that it fell on its side while parked overnight.
- Supercars: easy to break, easy to do stupid things and get yourself killed to death in, unsafe in various other ways ("but what a way to go!"), hard to see out of, hard to park, short and wide, and not just expensive sticker-wise: they guzzle fuel, burn through lots of tyres, incur boggling maintenance bills, and depreciate in resale value right off of a cliff, especially if you don't max out the options list when you buy them new and pick a popular color.
- A Wizard Did It: Richard proposed this as an answer to Jeremy, since Clarkson did not understand how the Fisker Karma's power system works and James was unable to provide a concise answer that Jeremy understood.
- Badass Adorable: The Stig, ever since the declassification of pictures and video of their breeding program. Suddenly the world's most badass drivers have become a cross between Chickens and Lambs.
- Badass Arm-Fold: This is the Stig's standard pose.Clarkson: Some say his elbows don't bend...
- Badass Biker: Hammond... at least in his own mind.
- Badass Boast:
- Hammond: "I am a driving god!"
- After Clarkson did a 9:59 around the Nürburgring Nordschleife in a diesel Jaguar his mentor Sabine Schmidt declared "I do that lap time in a van!" When given the chance she failed but was so close that she didn't harm her reputation as a Badass Driver
- When Christopher Eccleston appeared as a Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, he had to admit he had only recently acquired a driving license (at age 40). When Clarkson asked why, Eccleston replied that he had lived, studied and worked in London most of his life, and getting around by foot was faster than in a car. When Clarkson called him on this, he responded with an epic challenge: I'll race ya. While it wasn't Eccleston doing the running, Clarkson did race a marathon runner across London a few episodes later and lost.
- Badass Driver: All we know is, he's called The Stig.
- Bait-and-Switch: One that's been pulled on multiple occasions is for Clarkson to appear to start apologizing for a recent controversy caused by the programme, only for him to apologize for something completely trivial. For example, in S22E1 it appeared as though Clarkson was going to apologize for the controversy surrounding the Patagonia special, only to instead apologize for having claimed in said special that the condor was the world's largest flying bird when it isn't.
- Bamboo Technology: Clarkson's BMW estate in the Africa Special lacked a working handbrake (among other problems), so for hill starts he devised a surprisingly useful and simple solution: a log tied to the back of the bumper that could be rolled out and deployed by hand to use as a chock. Well, it worked until it kicked up and smashed his rear window out while driving.
- Banana in the Tailpipe: Jeremy and James did this to Richard's Dodge Viper before they raced to the Mexican border, to ensure that he would be the one forced to cross into Mexico and review the car they had made fun of two series earlier. Since the car had enormous tailpipes, and two of them at that, they were forced to add more and larger fruits to clog it down. Hammond removed the tailpipe fruit salad before attempting to set off, only to find they'd sabotaged the car in other ways as well.
- Bank Robbery: The final challenge of the luxury saloon test in Albania.Clarkson: The next morning, we found a bank full of money and robbed it.
- Ban on Politics: Averted; the show seems to have a policy of showing equally withering contempt for all politicians regardless of party—in contrast to Clarkson's earlier programmes where he openly supported the Conservatives.
- Beat: The trailer for the extended ending to Series 22 starts with one of these, following an Oh, Crap!.Clarkson: Oh, God. The last to arrive will be doing the after-dinner speech!
[a momentary silence before the trio make a sudden dash for their cars]
- Berserk Button:
- Hammond's allegedly whitened teeth after much teasing from the other two.
- The hosts are not fans of public transportation, in particular; buses.
- As of Season 17, do not mention the Nürburgring around James.
- As of the Middle East special (and "kindly" revisited by Jeremy and James in India), the bit between the 3rd and 4th verses of "I Know What I Like" by Genesis:Hammond: ARG!!! AGHH!!! I HATE THAT BIT!!! IT'S THAT BIT!!!
- Even when Clarkson knows he is doing an economy run and he can't race, overtaking him a bad idea.Clarkson: I don't like being overtaken, its a sign of weakness! Lets get him!
- The Bet: Season 12's news segments had a Running Gag about several Noodle Incident bets.Clarkson: Richard, that jacket... how bad was the bet you lost?
Hammond: Pretty bad.
- Beware the Nice Ones: James May; on the rare occasions May gets fed up with his co-presenters, what he does to them is usually much crueler than what they've been doing to him:
- In the Bolivia special, he nearly "macheted [Clarkson] to death" when Clarkson trod on his frazzled nerves on the frightening cliffside "Road of Death." To be fair to James, it was a genuinely dangerous situation and not in the least bit funny. Most people probably would have lost their rag.
- In the "Paint stuff on your co-presenter's cars so they get shot and/or arrested driving through Alabama" challenge, James' slogan was the one that by far the scariest thing to have on the side of your car when driving through Alabama... MAN LOVE RULES OK. Hammond looked genuinely alarmed about having to drive with that on his car, and with good reason.
- Beyond the Impossible: Most of their Specials contain some instance of them doing the utterly impossible.
- Their reaction to somehow managing to set fire to a car-wash, which is made of "90% water".
- Being the first humans in history to drive across the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans as well as to the Magnetic North Pole.
- Jeremy pruning the high branches of a tall tree with a shotgun during Top Ground Gear Force.
- Big "NO!": The Botswana Special, after a river crossing goes horribly wrong, Hammond's pet car Oliver gets submerged.Hammond: OLIVER!
- Which actually won him the "Best Noise" of 2007.
- Big "YES!":
- When playing car darts in a quarry with a gas-powered cannon, Hammond screams "YEEES!" when his last car lands on the caravan on the bullseye. May lets one out too.
- May lets out two during the final challenge of the British Leyland test, where they have to drive around the track with their cars full of water (to test build quality), and then stop when the water level drops below the steering wheel. He passes Hammond's car first and does one, and again when he passes Hammond's car a second time, right before he too has to finally stop.
- Clarkson too is prone to these.
- At the end of Season 12, Episode 2, May lets one out (Clarkson does one at the same time) when he's told he finally got to the speed he wanted to achieve on the Bonneville Salt Flats (he wanted to achieve 160 mph as he passed the mile-marker, he achieved 163).
- Big Word Shout:
- Bilingual Bonus:
- In a challenge segment, Clarkson, Hammond, and May were competing against the hosts of German car show D Motor, who often spoke in their native language. Let's just say that the translations from German were often incomplete (or left out entirely) for decency reasons.
- During the Cheap Track Day Car Challenge in Germany, James lets a "scheisse" slip while trying to work his horribly-arranged gear box.
- In the Season 16 Albanian Mafia episode, Jeremy mentions that they can't use the word "car" because it means "gentleman's sausage." The other presenters (and likely most viewers, given the show) thought he was making it up. He wasn't; "kar" is, indeed, a filthy word in Albanian. And "piçkë" (which sounds like "peach") does mean "lady garden" (as he put it) as well. As well as how "My car is a peach" would make any Albanians confused and angry.May: Oh... car.
May: [on discovering that Jeremy and Richard have grabbed the Mercedes and the Rolls-Royce to escape their "bank job", leaving him with the decrepit Yugo that's been substituting for a Bentley] What a pair of utter, utter cars!
- In the Vietnam Special, Jezza was able to pass the verbal/written portion of the Vietnamese driving test a challenge led the boys to undertake. This was simply because he knew enough of the language.Clarkson: You didn't bother learning Vietnamese before you came out here..?
Clarkson: Well, you're screwed, then.
- The Top Gear Police Department cars from Season 21 Episode 1 sport a logo with the text "ambitiose sed ineptum", which basically translates to "ambitious but rubbish".
- Bittersweet Ending: Several of the races:
- Clarkson (Bugatti Veyron) vs. May and Hammond (private plane/Eurostar rail system) race to London: Clarkson won but claimed the victory was "hollow" because he would have to live the rest of his life knowing what the Veyron was like to drive but never owning one.
- Later, in Series 12, Clarkson drove another supercar, but it was less about the car, and more about the fact that it was really the end of the supercar era, due to fuel economy standards and economic concerns. Complete with sad music.
- Hammond (Ferrari Daytona) vs. May (carbon-fiber superboat) race to Saint-Tropez. May arrived first, but Hammond claimed moral victory on the basis of the Ferrari's style (which May conceded, along with noting the extreme discomfort of the racing boat.) Hammond was nevertheless disappointed that the French Riviera had lost much of its glitterHammond: [sitting in a traffic jam] Oh, now this isn't right. Holiday homes for sale... Burgers... Traffic. [sadly] The car's still brilliant, but the world has changed...
- The 'review' of the new Aston Martin, which ended the 13th season.
- James May reviewing the NASA Space Exploration Vehicle.May: [watching footage of the Apollo missions] It's not half as sad as [a moon vehicle] that will never go up there at all.
- When Clarkson wins against Hammond's Alfa Romeo 4C in his quad-bike/jet-ski he hides in order to let Hammond win because he didn't want the car to lose.
- Blade-of-Grass Cut: Often done with the car being featured passing in the background.
- Blasphemous Boast:
- Clarkson once described a car he was reviewing as having this kind of torque.Clarkson: [on the subject of the Ferrari 430 Scuderias exhaust note] Sounds like God having really unusual sex! [blips the throttle] Oh, there we are, He's finished!
- In the Middle East special, Clarkson claims he can do the miracles of Jesus because his initials are also J.C.Clarkson: There's only two fish.
Hammond: I don't like fish.
Clarkson: Well there you are, I've solved it.
May: [sarcastic] It's a miracle.
Clarkson: That is a miracle.
Hammond: Well, hardly!
- The last episode of season 16 pits Clarkson in a race against God.note Highlights of the commentary include God allegedly teaming up with Satan (Manifested in Road Work and Speed Cameras) to beat Clarkson. Clarkson wins. Just.
- Clarkson once described a car he was reviewing as having this kind of torque.
- Blatant Lies: Often.
- In the lorry driving challenge, Richard Hammond's cargo (a small car) had fallen unnoticed out of the trailer during the alpine course. When Jeremy Clarkson showed up:Clarkson: This is totally ... so anyway, how was your car?
[pause as May and Hammond exchange glances]
Hammond: [interrupting] Stolen! That's what it is, I've just thought of it now: stolen. The damnedest thing.
- In the British Leyland challenge, one of the tests required the presenters to drive their cars to the top of a steep hill, put the handbrake on and get out of the car. Clarkson's car couldn't even get to the top of the hill, but generated so much smoke while he was trying to get to the top that he claimed he'd completed the test, it just happened that no-one saw him do it because of all the smoke. Naturally, everyone believed him.
- When in the Car vs. Boat vs. Bike vs. Public Transport challenge the car (driven by James May) came in dead last, all three presenters banded together to claim that the footage had been edited, going so far as to claim that the Thames didn't exist and Jeremy Clarkson had been killed when his boat exploded (as stated by Clarkson himself). Even more hilarious because at the top of the show, Clarkson had announced Top Gear had just won the National Television Award for Most Popular Factual Programme. It was also close to the time the BBC got into a bit of trouble showing a clip of the Queen "storming out" of having her portrait done...when in-fact the footage was filmed before she even entered the session. Jeremy does like Biting-the-Hand Humor.
- Even more directly, the intro to episode 10x2 promised a segment where Jeremy drives a Ferrari on the moon. During the news segment, the hosts announced that segment could not be shown due to the BBC objecting to the part when the Queen stormed off the moon.
- The episode with the Hammerhead Eagle iThrust car was an entire exercise in blatant lies, basically from start to (almost) finish.
- Clarkson tends to really let loose on the blatant lies when an attractive female celebrity is the SIARPC. Kirsten Scott Thomas and Cameron Diaz are two prominent examples:Diaz: I usually just drive around in my Prius.
Clarkson: You have a Prius? I love the Prius. It is my favorite car.
- On a more serious note, the show has been accused of intentionally staging breakdowns of electric cars to cast them in a negative light, the two most famous examples being the Tesla Roadsternote and a duel test of the Nissan Leaf and Peugeot Ion.
In the latter case, Clarkson and May stated they had no problem with the cars themselves, only that it was that it is nigh-on impossible to recharge them. The "official" charging points often fall far outside of the range you could do if you were running with a low battery, which is no different than showing a car break down from their owner not realising they were running out of petrol. Likewise, Clarkson's battery was totally flat, and their problem was that it'd take over nearly 15 hours to recharge them. Their later discussion of how long the battery life lasts (5 years) and the high cost of replacing them had them note that a normal member of the public wouldn't be willing to put up with this hassle in comparison to how easily petrol-engined cars can be maintained; thus for now, electric cars are not feasible for the mass public. Despite what a Guardian journalist claimed, this is the entire point of the show.
- When the producers challenged the presenters to prove that British sports cars weren't rubbish, they took the art of Blatant Lies to a whole new level. Virtually every thing they said during the film was ... dubiously honest. Examples include Hammond accidentally parking his Lotus Elan over an oil spill, (May: "You've parked over a bit of broken bodywork, as well.") describing most of their cars' numerous faults as "safety features," and sabotaging all of the Stig's hot hatchback tests that were supposed to easily defeat the British cars.
- During Jezza's test drive of the Mazda RX-8, he defines it "the best car he's ever driven". They cut back to the studio and Hammond, amazed, asks to Jeremy if he meant it.Hammond: The best car?
Hammond: But you said...
Clarkson: Yeah, I Lied.
- He then went on to clarify that the reason he "was lying" is that after he had recorded that, he drove it for the first time on a wet road, and "it was awfully twitchy."
- When buying cars and insurance for their fictional seventeen-year-old sons, Hammond says "no accidents in the past five years" with a guilty look at the camera.note Clarkson also claimed that his fictional teenage self was a doctor and had a clean driving record to get a lower insurance rate.
- On the American west coast (s19e2), the speedometer footage is edited to show exactly 55 mph, the local speed limit.
- In the lorry driving challenge, Richard Hammond's cargo (a small car) had fallen unnoticed out of the trailer during the alpine course. When Jeremy Clarkson showed up:
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: While Clarkson and May are attempting to operate the DeDion-Bouton, with instructions "translated" from the original French:Clarkson: [reading] "For making the carriage walking at the first speed, take back the drag of the wheel backward crowbar of the right and take completely and progressively back the crowbar of embrayage to you..."
- Bold Inflation: Clarkson and occasionally Hammond.Hammond: Nobody outside of a comic strip is called "Max Venturi, Lamborghini Tester"!
Hammond: They gave us each twelve hundred pounds of our own money— Mmhmm —and set us a series of challenges.
- Bolivian Army Ending: Referenced in the Patagonia Special, which ends as it began, with an homage to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Considering the disastrous turn the trip took in Tierra del Fuego, it's quite an appropriate ending to the special.
- Boomerang Bigot: Jeremy dislikes Americans, despite the fact that his definition of "American" largely fits himself as well. It's also worth pointing out that whenever he goes to America, he usually manages to enjoy himself quite thoroughly.
- Bottle Episode: Occasionally the presenters tell us they've "spent all the money" and can't afford their normal mix of insane stunts and expensive cars. In one early instance, they claimed they couldn't even afford their theme tune, so May had to fill in on a Casio keyboard.
- Bound and Gagged:
- During the Top Gear vs. D-Motor episode, Clarkson tells Hammond that May has been replaced by the Stig to win a race.Hammond: Some say you saved our bacon.
May: Others say I was bound and gagged in the locker room.
- In Series 14, Clarkson is seen tied up in a chair so that Hammond and May can work on their car sculptures uninterrupted. Clarkson gets the last laugh in this situation when he gets hold of the service history for the car and informs Hammond and May that the car they're working on is, in fact, a rental. After they've sliced it in half.
- While reviewing cars Jeremy has personally owned during "The Worst Car In The World" DVD, May ties Clarkson to a tree and gags him to prevent him from interjecting his opinions. Fear not, as Clarkson gets his revenge while reviewing May's cars.
- During the Top Gear vs. D-Motor episode, Clarkson tells Hammond that May has been replaced by the Stig to win a race.
- Brain Bleach: Crops up a few times, most notably as Hammond's reaction to Clarkson claiming that any man who buys a Lamborghini (which Clarkson has done) wears women's underwear.
- Brand X: The Stig has a credit card from the "Bank of Money".
- Brick Joke:
- It's subtle, but when the boys are building their electric car, Clarkson makes a comment on how he's taken his design lead from shelving. When The Reveal of the car finally comes, you can see what he meant.
- In the 2010 Christmas special, Richard Hammond comments on how he played a mouse in a Christmas pantomime. As they reach Bethlehem, they notice a mouse running in a wheel on the stable wall. This is, of course brought up by Hammond.
- In the Oslo race in season six Clarkson was given a CD of speeches by Margaret Thatcher. Guess what he started playing to motivate road workersnote three seasons later?
- During their "Amphibious Car" challenge, Clarkson notes that among the magazine Hammond picked up was a copy of "Gay Times". When May and Hammond's cars breakdown later on, they decide to wait until the engine cools. Cut to them having a cup of tea, reading magazines... and guess which one May was reading?
- In the episode where they test cars in Albania, Jeremy quickly points out they can't say "car" or "peach", because they mean penis and vagina, respectively. During the bank robbery at the end of the episode, James is stuck driving a Yugo and calls the others "a pair of utter, utter cars".
- In the India Challenge, May demonstrates a self-powered lawnmower for some Indian muckety-mucks, and it gets away from him. The next morning, it is still driving around and he points out that the throttle is stuck. And at the end of the episode, the credits roll over a shot of the three presenter's cars set up on frames showing the Union Flag, on a mountain in the Himalayas... and the lawnmower trundles through the foreground, also wearing the Union Flag.
- Here's one that took several series to drop: In season 3, episode 5 (the one where they attempt to destroy the Toyota Hilux) Hammond attempts to find cars that are future classics. One of these is a Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Cosworth, and he claims that Martin Brundle said it had one of the best handling saloon car chassis anywhere in the world. Cut to series 15, episode 2, when the boys are given one of their Top Gear Cheap Car Challenges to find the ultimate track day car for less than £5000. May shows up in a Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Cosworth and states the same fact... but later in the show, Clarkson calls Martin Brundle to prove that May is being an idiot:Martin Brundle: ... When did I say that? I've hada few knocks on the head, but I don't remember ever saying that.
- Series 18 Episode 6 had a bit in the news about the trio going to Moscow and finding that a spectacular view of the Kremlin was ruined by Audi parking one of their new SUVs on the balcony and blocking everything. This was followed by several images of an Audi SUV blocking the view of national monuments (among other things). Toward the end of the episode, Hammond is suddenly blocked by an Audi SUV in front of him. This reappears again.....one week later with the next episode.
- Brief Accent Imitation: German, Russian, Australian and American English have had their share of gefingerpoken
- Bring My Brown Pants:Clarkson: Some poo's come out.
- British Brevity: At most, a series will have eleven episodes. Top Gear makes up for that by having two series a year.
- British Teeth: Inversion: the continual comedic accusation leveled at (and denied by) Richard Hammond that he has had his teeth whitened. Hammond occasionally gets Clarkson back by pointing out Jeremy plays this trope straight.
- When Clarkson takes his daring trip in a Reliant Robin, he meets with a few Reliant enthusiasts and asks one with appalling British teeth and a few missing if he lost them in a Reliant accident.
- Broken Aesop: At the end of the episode recapping Richard Hammond's unfortunate debacle with the jet-powered car at 288 mph.Clarkson: The thing is, though, we have learned an important lesson today, thanks to Richard — do please remember: speed kills.
[cut to Hammond, looking incredulous and very much alive]
- Brown Bag Mask: Hammond was forced to resort to one of these during his review of the Nissan Micra C+C (which they'd dubbed "the most embarrassing car in the world"), since he'd been provided with a neon pink example and made to drive it around the town he lived near with the roof down.
- Bucket Helmet: In the Vietnam Special, Hammond was the only one whose head was small enough to fit inside a locally-bought helmet, so May resorted to using a colander for head protection and Clarkson used a metal bucket until he could get a real helmet.
- Built with LEGO: A promo for Series 22 the show's YouTube channel has LEGO versions of the presenters preparing for the show. Jeremy seeks out the Stig, James can't find his hair, and Richard brings new meaning to the idea of stepping on a LEGO brick.
- Buffy Speak:
- In the Vietnam Special, Hammond resorts to this when May ignores his order to stop talking, telling him to, "stop moving your face about with noises coming out of it".
- During the police chase with May in Series 21 Episode 1, one of the many things Clarkson and Hammond eventually resort to using to track him down is a mine-clearing machine that Clarkson calls the "Top Gear Police Department Eaty Thing of Devastation".
- The Bus Came Back: A variation; Richard Hammond recently hosted a Top Gear special, "Fifty Years of Bond Cars". During the show he briefly interviewed former Stig Ben Collins, who was one of the stunt drivers in Skyfall.
- Hammond is usually the one to get drowned or struck by lightning for the stunts, while in the Car vs. Something Else challenges Hammond is always the one to cycle across London or try to reach the North Pole with a dogsled, while May or Clarkson drive. Amusingly, and much to the chagrin of the other two, Hammond often wins anyway. Hammond's also the youngest and in the best shape, so he's the one that has to do physical stunts by default.
- May is frequently mocked for being slow, dull, old-fashioned, and obsessively tidy, and odds are if there's a prank being pulled, it's usually on him. They love to run into the back of any car he's driving, and "Get James eaten" seems to be an unofficial challenge in many of the overseas specials.
- As Season 12 amply demonstrates, rule of thumb dictates that Clarkson has his fair share too. See the Vietnam Special.
- As far as cars go, the Reliant Robin, the Morris Marina, Vauxhall Astra, the G-Wiz and any and all caravans.
- The Cameo:
- When Clarkson road tests the Renault Twingo, Ross Kemp is the boot, supposedly to demonstrate how much space there is.
- Serves as a Running Gag in Clarkson's Season 19 Sensible Kia "Cee-apostrophe-d" review. First, the old Star-In-A-Reasonably-Priced Car version is pitted against the newest version of the Cee'd by Matt Leblanc, who's in the top spot on the SIARPC leaderboard and flew in from Hollywood just to do the test. He gets straight back in his limo and leaves immediately after he's done. A "local guitarist" is then called in to see if a guitar can be plugged into the Cee'd; said guitarist is Eric Clapton. And then, one test is simply "Can officer John McClane operate the horn?" Three guesses as to who turns up to do just that.
- Tanner Foust makes an appearance in Season 22 episode 7 to train May in Rallycross racing. They eventually meet in a semifinal race
- Camera Abuse: Often. Cameras, high-speed vehicles, and rough roads/seas are a bad combination.
- In the "police cars" challenge, Clarkson smeared petroleum jelly on the lens of a camera to get a dramatic 'soft focus' (read as "hopelessly blurry") effect for his power lap.
- Inverted during the Panamera vs. Royal Mail chase, when Hammond and May took turns having their heads abused by a very pointy camera light. They speculated that after having headbutted it twice each, it would no longer work, but it did.
- When May raced Hammond along the French Riviera, the camera in the speed boat took such a battering that the red component of the colour signal was destroyed, leaving the colours looking very odd indeed for the rest of the race.
- Candid Camera Prank: The "paint offensive slogans on your cars and rile the locals" scene in the American South special is one that went horribly wrongnote .
- The Captain: Clarkson. His leadership is so obvious and unquestioned that the German hosts of D Motor called him "Top Gear Boss" for most of their crossover episode.
- Captain Morgan Pose: Clarkson and Hammond mocking May in Series 7 after he unwisely revealed that he had a damp spot on his trousers.
- Captain Obvious: Hammond, during the trans-London race on a bike.Hammond: I'm in a bus lane, which is good, I can use them. However, the other thing that uses them? Buses.
- Cardboard Boxes: Hammond is granted points for his use of this trope in the second hand police car challenge.
- Car Fu:
- The live shows feature some impressively ridiculous stunts with cars.
- Any of the various unusual vehicle (motorhome, bus, airport service vehicle, taxi) races where they invite touring car drivers to participate.Hammond: Being professional and completely responsible rally car driver, they were able to follow the "no contact" rule flawlessly...for half a lap.
- Cargo Ship: Invoked.Jeremy: I want to marry this road and have its babies!
- Hammond and Oliver.
- Car Meets House:
- Clarkson's Volvo in the car-for-a-17-year-old challenge. In all fairness, it could have been a pack of roving anarchists.
- A few of the challenges have involved deliberately crashing their cars/lorries into various structures. Invariably, someone always gets hurt.
- To a lesser degree, Clarkson's Citroën motorhome into a petrol station overhang.
- Car Porn: The point of the show. If you aren't watching for the chemistry and wacky hijinks of the presenters, you're there to gaze slack-jawed slobbering over Clarkson's toy of the week. This a show by and for petrol/gear-heads.
- Carrying a Cake: James May's cargo in the "Lorries" challenge was a giant wedding cake, which met a predictable fate. Clarkson and Hammond (pile of straw + electric heater; unsecured car, respectively) fared worse, however.
- Carried by the Host: It's pretty well known that the chemistry between Clarkson, Hammond, and May is a huge reason for the show's success. Many come for the cars, stay for the hosts.
- Cars Without Tires are Trains: An episode involved a car being modified to pull a train. Hilarity ensued.
- Cassandra Truth: In the 2013 Africa special, May doesn't believe Clarkson and Hammond when they tell him that you drive on the other side of the road in Rwanda compared to Uganda - until he meets a vehicle coming the other way.
- Casual Car Giveaway: In the American special, when the guys arrive in New Orleans, a year after Katrina, they were supposed to sell their cars for whatever they could get for them. They instead decide to give the cars away, after seeing the condition the city is in. Subverted in that they couldn't find anyone who would take the cars.
- Jeremy and Richard could, but James couldn't. And a lawyer threatened to sue for misrepresentation over Jeremy's car's model year.
- Casual Danger Dialog: Clarkson, fleeing through a shopping mall while "baddies" pursue him in a Corvette, divides his time between reviewing aspects of the Ford Fiesta he is driving and commenting on the shortcomings of the 'Vette.
- Catchphrase: Numerous:Clarkson: ...and on that bombshell, goodnight!
Clarkson: How hard can it be?
Clarkson: Still. Could be worse...
Clarkson: I went on the Internet... and I found this.
Clarkson: ...but that's exactly what they'd be expecting us to do.
Clarkson: We cheat. (or variations thereof)
Clarkson: Some poo's come out.
Clarkson: So that's 0% of the population that care about X.
Clarkson: The best [X]... in the WORLD.
Hammond: [while introducing a stunt] ...I think you can see where this is going.
Hammond: Don't like that.
Hammond: [I've/we've/they've done/bought/should-do/etc X] because... it's just better.
Hammond: Don't say that! [in response to Jeremy's "How hard can it be?"]
May: Oh... cock.
May: As you'd expect, I've done this properly...
May: What a pillock.
Any of the presenters: Nobody in the whole of human history has ever said that before!
Any of the presenters: A series of challenges.
Any of the presenters: [Introducing the Stig] Some say... And that... All we know is, he's called The Stig
Any of the presenters: Can I just say...
For the show as a whole: Top Gear: ambitious, but rubbish
- Cats Are Mean:
- James May's late cat, Fusker. May has stated (on Something For The Weekend) that the cat loathed his guts and, just like Richard Hammond (whose wife Mindy gave him the cat), was always trying to kill him.
** During Series 14 Episode 3:Clarkson: [pointing at May] He said the other day, when I said I'm going to set my dog on his cat, 'oh, he won't be able to do it!'
May: What, your gay dog comes round to see my cat? He'll get his bloody head kicked in!
- And during the news segment of the American East Coast special:May: The fact is if I was only three inches tall, but the same person, the cat would kill me.
- James May's late cat, Fusker. May has stated (on Something For The Weekend) that the cat loathed his guts and, just like Richard Hammond (whose wife Mindy gave him the cat), was always trying to kill him.
- Caustic Critic: Probably all the presenters at times, but especially Clarkson.
- Censored for Comedy:
- The version of the V8 blender episode broadcast on Dave changed Richard's suggested name for their smoothie, "Desperate Shag in a Skip," to "Desperate (BLEEP) in a Skip." Which, when you think about it, sounds much worse than the original version. Bizarrely, May's suggested name, "The Bloody Awful," wasn't bleeped out at all, although that's probably just as well, since "The (BLEEP) Awful" would also sound ruder than the version it had replaced.
- All instances of May using the word "cock" are bleeped out on Dave and BBC America. Considering May uses that word in places where other people might use rather stronger language, this has the amusing side-effect of making May seem a lot more foul-mouthed than he really is.
- Chainsaw Good:
- Clarkson wields one in the Bolivia Special while boasting "I am the god of hellfire!" . A deleted scene also shows Clarkson and May nearly getting into a chainsaw vs. machete fight when the former threatened the latter's Suzuki.
- Averted when May also uses one in the North Pole Special, while balancing on a bridge of ice. Clarkson tells him to stop before he cuts his arm off.
- Character Development: All three. Over the course of 12 seasons, Clarkson has become sharper on some issues and mellower on others; Hammond has become slightly less reckless; and May has become bolder, freer, and faster.
- Character Filibuster: This trope was designed for May. He often goes on rants so long-winded or into such meticulous detail about physics, they've actually shaded it by fading out between scenes, coming back later to find that he is still talking.
- Characterization Marches On:
- In series 3, Jeremy Clarkson once chastised Will Young for his unusual looks. Fast forward a few seasons to Young's Star-in-a-Reasonably-Priced Car interview, which goes well. A bit too well, perhaps.
- An early episode, where he made a joke about a car breaking down more times than Sienna Miller.
- Cheaters Never Prosper:
- In the "Top Gear Ashes" challenge against the Top Gear Australia team, the UK team tried to rig a skid-pan challenge by having Hammond and May as the judges. They both gave Clarkson and the Stig marks of 6.0 for their effort, and then both tried to give the Australia team 1.1. Unfortunately Hammond forgot to put the decimal point on his card and thus gave the Australians a score of 11, which ended up giving them a higher score than the UK team, with 12.1 compared to 12.0.
- In the next event Clarkson once again tries to slight the Aussie team by providing them with Austrian bikes ("Oh, Austrian, Australian, same thing"). When the Aussies aren't upset at this, and are in fact rather pleased because the bikes are actually good, Clarkson scolds Team UK for the oversight.
- Subverted in the first event, the "Working Mans Car Drag Race". The car used by Team UK is a Ford Transit van... or at least a body of it mated to a Jaguar XJ220 chassis. Despite the fact that this is easily found out, the Brits get away with it because the van is technically a working class vehicle even if the engine certainly isn't.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: A favorite expression used by Clarkson when discussing the French. May be modified to fit the occasion: e.g. during the Val Thorens ice race the other drivers were "cheese-eating sideways monkeys."
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The remote to James's sound system in the "perfect car for a seventeen year old" challenge.
- The horn on Clarkson's 1963 Grosser Mercedes in the classic luxury limousines challenge.
- The Chekhov's Boomerang from the 2006 Christmas gift suggestions: the "Bumper Dumper". Which was then used by May and Clarkson during the Polar Special the following April.
- Chew Toy: Morris Marinas, along with the several various Soviet-era cars. Although some of them are not actually that bad for their times.
- Each episode has one or two main films; the longer ones are often interrupted at a tense moment and resumed towards the end of the show. (Since the presenter in the film is usually right there in the studio while the film is being screened, not much tension can build, so this is sometimes played for humor).Hammond: ...And we'll find out later if I die.
- A rare end-of-episode cliffhanger was in the opener of series 16, when the baby in Bethlehem offered gold,
frankincenseshampoo and myrrha portable game console wore a white motorcyclist helmet and suit.
- Each episode has one or two main films; the longer ones are often interrupted at a tense moment and resumed towards the end of the show. (Since the presenter in the film is usually right there in the studio while the film is being screened, not much tension can build, so this is sometimes played for humor).
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander:
- James May's logic often drifts during the news segments such as when they do the news, like one occasion when they are talking about the effect of no cows and he says there will be "no eggs". Well, since milkmen bring the eggs...
- When discussing what kind of bird could have caused such defecation on Clarkson's Range Rover, he suggested it could've been a flying cow; "James you really live in Hammersmith don't you"
- The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: In the convertible people carrier challenge, both Clarkson and Hammond mock May for claiming that monkeys are the most dangerous animal they could possibly face in a safari park, worse than lions. After experiencing the park in their car with its home-made roof, they agree with him.
- Cluster F-Bomb:
- Richard Hammond does these most frequently:[while stuck in road construction in Italy on a road trip to find the world's best driving road]
Hammond: We come all the way here in these cars and you [bleep] it up because you're a [bleep] feeble-minded [bleep]. Utter utter [bleep]! [Bleeeep] useless!
- During the race across London, when the bicycle-riding Hammond was repeatedly stopped by traffic signals (which he had to obey because he was on camera):
- When Hammond's improvised boat got stuck in Vietnam, his reaction was indecipherable, as every individual word was censored.
- Hammond unleashing this becomes a Running Gag during the Cars-into-Train challenge as May keeps using the tannoy to talk to the passengers, which was meant to be Hammond's job.May: Ladies and gentleman, if you'd like to stretch your legs, at this intermediate station, apologies for the overshoot.
[Hammond goes outside and the door has barely closed]
Hammond: [shouting] Stop doing the BLEEP announcements! That's my job!
- During his record-breaking lap, Clarkson teased Jay Kay with "One... forty... six point two... was your second fastest lap" (the record was 1:45.9 at the time), leading the Jamiroquai singer to let off a barrage of curses at Clarkson.
- May also got in a rather impressive set after accidentally banging the front end of his borrowed McLaren during a race through Rome:May: [beep]ing-hell [beep]bum [beep]arseholes!
- May delivers at least one during the second half of the Burma special, as his lorry's constant breakdowns take their toll.
- Hammond gets rather annoyed with a driver while cycling, and lets out this gem:Hammond: What the fucking hell are you, you great, gangly, fuck-knuckled twat, greasy haired cuntbag! Fuck you!
- Hammond indulges in this roughly every 45 seconds when abandoned in the Rockies. Coupled with Sanity Slippage.
- Richard Hammond does these most frequently:
- Comedic Sociopathy: Constantly, bordering on With Friends Like These.... One challenge had the three presenters try to get a lorry moving from a hill start without rolling backwards. In order to "motivate" them, each of them had a prized possession placed directly behind the vehicle. When it was Clarkson's turn, his drum kit was placed behind the lorry, but he managed to get it moving without rolling, so the drum kit escaped unharmed. That is, until Hammond and May walked over and smashed it up, claiming, "You were so close!" when Clarkson returned. Clarkson immediately knew what had happened, and was not pleased.
- The challenge to rescue Hammond from the Rockies. Clarkson and May essentially go out of their way to dawdle as much as possible, and end up taking four days to reach Hammond when it was meant to take less than one. To cap things off, they make a bet: Whoever finds Hammond first doesn't have to rescue him. Clarkson wins, and May doesn't make it at all, requiring actual rescue staff to intervene. The entire ordeal boils down to a "Shaggy Dog" Story based entirely on Clarkson and May's pettiness.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- After teasing from both Hammond and May over Clarkson's interview with Will Young, where they imply that Clarkson's in love, Jeremy asks "are you suggesting Will Young is gay?"
- Jeremy makes a mechanized rocking chair using a V8 engine: the engine "rocks" the chair so violently that both the chair and the mannequin in it fall apart. Jeremy decides that this invention would never work - because the engine is so loud that you would never be able to hear your television.
- During a rally, May's co-driver Madison Welch complains that all of the signs are foreign.Madison: Why don't they speak English?
May: Because they're Spanish?
- On driverless cars:My car has arrived at work. I'm not in it. Pointless!
- During the Ambulance Challenge in Season 22, Episode 3 - while James inspects the damage from the simulation of a meteorite hitting Theale, Jeremy instead checks the mannequins used as stand-ins for casualties.May: [in awe] This is absolutely amazing!
Clarkson: It is - none of the girls are wearing underwear...
- Comic Trio: Generally, Jeremy's the scheming one, Richard the clueless one, and James the one going along with everything. However, they have been known to switch up roles occasionally.
- Comical Translation: Clarkson's linguistic skills are questionable at best.Clarkson: ["reading" from the car's manual, trying to figure out why the fuel filler cap won't open] Consola centrale con interatore aperture sportello rifornimento. We are useless Italians and we haven't built this properly.
Clarkson: ["reading" a Norwegian newspaper reporting on their filming] A man who looked like a dog crashed into one of my trees.
- Companion Cube: Oliver, Hammond's 1963 Opel Kadett. Hammond loves his dear old motor so much that during the 12th season Lorry challenge he forfeited one of the challenges because if he failed, he would have backed into (and probably over) Oliver with a semi-articulated truck. Oliver is now a regular cast member on Hammond's new children's show.
- To a lesser extent, the sat-nav in Jeremy's Nissan GT-R from the Bullet Train race, which he referred to as "[his] Japanese girlfriend" and named Ami.
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: While in Botswana, Hammond disagrees with Clarkson and May's choice of where to ford a river. When he tries to cross it somewhere else, his car ends up flooded up to the dashboard and he has to spend most of the night fixing it. Clarkson and May on the other hand, don't face such problems.
- Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch: Discussed in series 22, episode 8's segment, when they boys mention a British politician who publicly criticized Top Gear, but then admitted he'd never watched it.
- Compliment Backfire: When May claims that his Clio is the better car based on its Autocar review.May: Not my words, not my words. The words of Autocar magazine!
Clarkson: What, you mean the magazine that sacked you?
May: [Beat] ... Yes!
- Consolation World Record:
- On more than one occasion. Hammond may or may not have set an official British record for land speed before his accident (the run before the crash was 314 mph, breaking the previous record of 300.3), but the dangerous accident at 288 mph may well have set a record (unofficially) for fastest land crash. After learning the speed record requires making two runs in opposite directions and then averaging the speed, Clarkson joked Hammond would need to go out and crash again.
- They also inadvertently set the world indoor speed record with an F1 car. But only after
almostfirst setting it with a Chevrolet Lacetti...
- Continuity Nod: Occasionally in dialogue; more often these happen when a vehicle from a previous adventure appears in a subsequent episode, such as James May using the camera crew's "Invincible" from the Polar Special in the first episode of Series 15. The ultimate Continuity Nod is the mangled Toyota Hilux permanently on display in the studio, which looks like a tragic wreck to anyone unfamiliar with the series.
- Commuting on a Bus: Even after fleeing to Fifth Gear, Tiff Needell occasionally popped up during Jeremy, James, and Richard's tenure on the show.
- Cooking Duel: The various races and crap car challenges, though very silly, are still treated seriously by the presenters. They still manage to have fun while doing them, however.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment:
- The emergency backup vehicles, which are invariably 1) something hateful to all three presenters, 2) completely inappropriate for the setting, or 3) both.May: [during the Vietnam Special] If [Hammond] turns up on Bruce Springsteennote , I'll feel quite sorry for him... but I'll still laugh.
- During the Middle East Special, Jeremy and James were getting tired of Richard's Fiat not having any problems, so they rigged a radio to the ignition, that only played Genesis.note
- Made worse for Hammond, as he was suffering from diarrhea thanks to a local dish that didn't agree with him that morning. He was rather crossed about the matter.
- A similar prank was pulled by Hammond and Jeremy in the "Car for a 17 Year Old" Challenge. One of the challenges, was to use whatever leftover money after purchase and insurance rate they had from their original budgets, to purchase "upgrades" that would impress their buddies, and potential girlfriends if they were 17. James upgraded his car with a sound system and new radio/CD player, and James May being who he is, was playing Classical music from it. During a rest stop at a gas station. Jeremy and Richard decided to do some "modifications", by swapping out the cd for...something consisting of little more than just a ton of repetitive drums and bass at max volume, and using Loctite to glue all the buttons and dials in place.Clarkson: Any second now, I'm expecting the cell phone to ring, with a very crossed James May on the other end asking "Did you take [the radio and cd player's] remote?". And the answer to that, is yes.
- Later on, during a test to see which presenter could pull their car for a 17-year-old into the driveway of home with the least noise to sneak in past bed time, Jeremy had managed to keep hold of the remote. No prizes for guessing how well James did in his attempt.
- The emergency backup vehicles, which are invariably 1) something hateful to all three presenters, 2) completely inappropriate for the setting, or 3) both.
- Cool Boat:
- Several, including the carbon fiber speedboat James used to reach the French Rivera while racing against Richard in a Ferarri Daytona.
- In the case of the amphibious vehicle challenges, each also doubles as a Cool Car.
- Cool, but Stupid: Practically an Invoked Trope, frequently leveled as a judgment on their own projects, is "Ambitious but rubbish" - especially much of Clarkson's work. Past examples include:
- A V8 powered blender.
- A flamethrower mounted on a snowplough.
- Modding a car so much it caught fire.
- May and Hammond once converted a Reliant Robin (very small plastic three wheeled car) into a space shuttle (which exploded on takeoff because it couldn't properly detach from the rockets, but details).
- It is also their shared opinion of the Pagani Zonda.
- Cool Car: Numerous vehicles, with the most notable being the Bugatti Veyron SS with nearly 1000bhp and a price tag in the millions, and it used to hold the fastest lap until the Atom V8. The Top Gear presenters honored the Veyron in 2009 by naming it the Car of the Decade. Then there's the Cool Wall of course, where supercars are usually rated "Uncool" — for the obvious reason. The Koenigsegg is the exception because even The Stig crashed it, and anything that tricky must be cool. Also, Oliver.
- Cool Old Guy: Michael Gambon, who in his first time on the track clipped the last corner and nearly rolled the Liana. He ended up being airborne and taking the corner on two wheels at one point. The last corner is now called "Gambon" in his honor.Clarkson: Last time tonight's star was here he performed so well, a corner was named after him. Please welcome Sir Michael Follow-Through!
- He then clipped the corner again in the Lacetti. When Jeremy questioned him on this, he claimed "I don't know, I just don't like it".
- Cool Plane:
- The Eurofighter Typhoon
- Clarkson also had an English Electric Lightning fighter in his garden for a while.
- The WAH-64 Longbow Apache they used to chase a Lotus Exige around the test track
- When challenging their German counterparts, the lads turned up in... Supermarine Spitfires. The coolest of the cool planes.
- The Boeing 747 permanently parked at the test track has its own movie career, it played the part of the prototype airliner in Casino Royale (2006).
- During the Albania trip, Clarkson and May stop to admire the hundreds of decommissioned Soviet war planes in a boneyard.
- Cool Train:
- The LNER Peppercorn Class A1 60163 Tornado, a steam-powered train that was completed in 2008 as a labour of love by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust. It raced a car and motorcycle of 1949 vintage in the London-Edinburgh "Race to the North" and finished a close second, with Clarkson in the cab acting as fireman.
- The bullet trains in Japan. As May remarked, "What a brilliant looking train!"
- Clarkson claims he's not driving a rail-modified Jaguar XJS, its a "Sports-Train".
- Cool vs. Awesome: Bugatti Veyron v. RAF Eurofighter Typhoon... and that's only one example.
- Cordon Bleugh Chef: In the "homemade motorhomes" challenge, all three presenters. James's starter (fried Spam and Quavers) and Richard's dessert (bread with yoghurt and Maltesers) at least sounded like they might be edible, but Jeremy's main course (boiled flowers and pickled onions fried in Castrol GTX) couldn't even boast that. To be fair though, they were limited to using what they could buy at the local petrol station.
- Costume-Test Montage: Jeremy Clarkson, picking a suit to drive the Audi TT in.
- *Cough* Snark *Cough*: In the Botswana special, when Clarkson's Lancia Beta Coupe has broken down. Again.May: [cough] Beetle!
- Could Say It, But...: In Season 6, Clarkson did this as a way of sneakily previewing a car (an Aston Martin V8 Vantage) he wasn't technically allowed to announce yet. May and Hammond played along with a chorus of "I would have really like to hear that" and "Oh, I wish you could have told us that."
- Couldn't Find a Pen: Jeremy declared that the Dodge Viper was a car "so sophisticated, it could write its own name." He then proceeded to write the word "Viper" on the test track, using skidmarks.
- Country Matters: In Series 15, Clarkson looked for anagrams in his co-presenters' numberplates. He found "Liar" in Hammond's L48I RAR and "Gosh" in May's (GS99 HOS), but didn't bother to point out the one in his own CTU 131N.
- Covered in Gunge: In addition to the bloody intestines falling out of its stomach, the CPR dummy in the ambulance challenge was rigged to projectile vomit and urinate as the guys tried to insert various tubes into it while the Stig drove around the track.
- Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: In-universe, quite often.
- Played for laughs, with the presenters always getting computer terminology wrong ("if you own an internet, why not visit us at Top Gear Dot Internet Dot Website Slash BBC London W12") and some celebrities' names, like mixing Puff Daddy / P Diddy's names to produce "P Diddly".
- May is usually good for references to 'GameStation', 'Facetube' and 'YouBook' as a subversive means of Product Placement. He also deliberately mangles some brand names, like Clarkson's "ippod" [iPod]and the "gock-ikle" [Gocycle] electric bike.'
- Not even car terminology is spared. "Torques" and "carbon dioxides" replace foot-pounds and grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.
- They did manage to make their invented term of "Flappy-Paddle Gearbox" for semi-automatic transmission into an Ascended Meme that even some car manufacturers have begun to use.
- *Crack!* "Oh, My Back!": Clarkson injured his neck quite badly in a Nissan GT-R in Season 11, and a second time when driving through a brick wall in the Lorries challenge in Season 12.
- Crazy-Prepared: In Australia, s22e2, Jeremy reveals the Stig in his boot.May: I've been carrying him around for days.
- Creator Provincialism: This is a British show for British enthusiasts created by Jeremy Clarkson, so any provincialism is intentional, cheerful, unabashed,and usually (but not always) tongue in cheek.
- This leads to some eyebrow raising moments on the American side of the pond when the three treat commonplace stuff like the Bowler off-road race truck and nitrous oxide injection as exotic technologies.
- Credits Gag: One of the show's favorite tropes, pretty much always rolled out for the specials:
- The Botswana special episode had all the names in the credits as Archbishop Desmond (person's surname).
- The earlier America special credited the presenters as "Cletus Clarkson, Earl Hammond Jr., Ellie May May, and Roscoe P. Stig" and all the other names read "Billy Bob (surname)".
- The Polar Special had all the names read "Sir Ranulph (surname)".
- The Winter Olympics special had all the names read "Bjorn (surname)", except for Hammond, May and The Stig, who took the names "Benny Hammond", "Agnetha May", and "Anni-Frid Stig" respectively.
- The Vietnam special had them all listed as Francis Ford (surname).
- After an episode which featured a challenge to test reasonably-priced hatchbacks by taking them for a lap of the test track with a large dog in the car — with disqualification resulting if the dog looked sad at the end of the lap — the credits ended with the undisclaimer: "Some animals were harmed in the making of this programme".
- The Middle East Christmas Special had everyone listed as [Name] of [Birthplace] ex. James of Bristol, Jeremy of Doncaster, Richard of Solihull, Andrew of Glossop, etc.
- Episode 5 of Series 16 had the guys decide their combine harvester/snow plow would be enough to get them knighted; their names promptly appeared in the credits preceded by "Sir".
- The India Special had everyone list as (First name) (Indian dish); e.g. "Jeremy Rogan Josh", "Richard Chicken Korma" and "James Murgh Masala".
- The Africa Special had everyone listed as "Dr. (surname), I presume?"
- In episode 3 of Series 21, only three camera assistants entered the Chernobyl area to keep filming while the main cameramen left. They were consequently credited as "Extra Brave Film Cameras" with an extra lighting effect to their names.
- The Burma Special not only credited everyone as "Sir Alec (surname)", but used the theme song and closing credits style from Kelly's Heroes.
- The Patagonia Special had everyone listed as "Robert Leroy (surname)".
- Crossing the Desert: The first part of Syria in the Middle East special goes like this. The main obstacles are rocks and rough terrain.
- Crying Wolf: The Top Gear presenters and crew were almost lynched in Argentina, because some Argentinians thought that a license plate H982 FKL was a reference to the 1982 Falklands warnote . It was most likely a coincidence but not many people believed that. As Jeremy Clarkson wrote: "For once, we did nothing wrong."
- Curse Cut Short:
- While Clarkson was reviewing a new Ford Fiesta in an attempt to do a "proper" road test, the segments kept ending when he tried to say that an aspect of the car was sh-
- Likewise, when James and Jeremy were doing challenges in their own classic luxury cars, Richard's introduction ended just as he was about to call them twa-
- During the Top Gear Ground Force Sports Relief special, James was so annoyed at Clarkson at one point that he called Clarkson a fuc-
- James singing Christmas carols with his own lyrics in the Middle East special.To the tune of "We Three Kings."
We three blokes from BBC2,
One color gold car, one color poo,
Ohh, brought the wrong car, brought the right,
Working heater, working lights,
Westward going, gasket may be blowing,
What a piece of shi-
- While Hammond and May were road testing a VW Beetle, discussing the merits of driving with the top down:May: Mind you, if anyone sees us they'll probably think we're a pair of screaming—
Hammond: Well, exactly.
- When the hosts of Top Gear Australia challenged the boys in Britain, Clarkson read the letter addressed to "You pommie bas-"
- During their motoring holiday with the Stig, the flipchart Clarkson was writing on fell over just as he was about to finish writing that the M3 is shi-
- When Clarkson was introducing Hammond's review of the Alfa Romeo 4C - which took place is sunny northern Italy at a time when Britain was experiencing severe rains and flash floods - it cut to the review just as Clarkson was calling Hammond a "jammy bas-"
- After May finds out from Hammond that they will be camping in Patagonia, he says he's likely to find one of the tent poles up Hammond's ar-
- An unusual visual example in S24 E4, as The Stig test-drives the Mercedes AMG GT. The Stig is smarting after Daniel Ricciardo, earlier in the season, had beaten his lap time by some 2.2 seconds, shattering the existing track record. As he rounds the first corner, an ad hoarding is visible in the background that spells out "RICCIARDO IS A CO-" with the rest obscured by a tyre barrier.
- An extra special one during the filming of Top Ground Gear Force, after Jeremy had destroyed the shed which James was meticulously building for Sir Stephen Redgrave :-Clarkson: [making excuses] I had this bomb... and it, and you - that'll buff out.
May: What time is this program on? Is it ten o'clock?
May: Is it ten o'clock on BBC2?
May: Are we beyond the watershed?
May: You're a fuc-
- Cute Kitten: One episode has Clarkson discussing the finer points of twin turbocharged engines, but before he launches into his explanation, he remarks that some people in the audience tend to find such explanations boring, "so here's some soft little kittens for you to look at." The screen splits halfway between Clarkson and a mound of cuddly little kittens.