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  • Damage-Proof Vehicle:
    • The presenters did a two week feature to see how durable the Toyota Hilux pickup truck is. In the first week, Clarkson drove it down a staircase, rammed it into a tree, drove it down to the low water mark of the Bristol Channel's ten meter tides and left it there (it actually broke loose from the moorings that were supposed to hold it on the jetty; they didn't find it until the tide went out — six hours later — half buried in the silt and sand), dropped it from a crane, drove it through a modular building, dropped a caravan on it, swung a wrecking ball at it and — finally — set it on fire. The next week, May set it atop a tower of flats several hundred feet high... which was scheduled for demolition. It went down with the building and had to be pulled off the debris pile. And it still started.

      The cast realised the magnitude of the achievement and now display the disfigured Hilux prominently in their studio, on a tilted podium. The Hilux they used was a used one they picked up for 1000 pounds, 13 years old and with 195,000 miles on it. Toyota subsequently released a model called The Invincible. Clarkson and May used two which had been specially modified for Arctic use (one for themselves and one for the camera and support crew) in the Polar Special.

      James May then took the Hilux that had been used by the camera crew in the Polar Special, had it further modified, and drove it to the rim of the erupting volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. May and the camera crew had left the volcano just hours before it really blew its top, shutting down air traffic over much of the Atlantic and Europe, in April of 2010.
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    • Richard Hammond complained to Jonathan Ross during an interview that he was disappointed he had no cool scars resulting from his near fatal crash.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Often, especially when the presenters or a guest operates a vehicle with an unfamiliar layout.
    • The Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle stymied Hammond at first because the brake was where he expected the gear lever to be.
    • James kept putting a Mercedes 190 he'd brought for a "cheap car" challenge in reverse because first and reverse were backwards compared to every other car he'd ever driven. More accurately, on such a gearbox with a dog-leg first gear, reverse is where first normally is, first is where second normally is, third where second normally is, and so on. Ironically, he'd complimented this feature initially, but after backing into someone yet again:
      May: Look, I've had thirty years of it being left and forwards.
    • Americans who participate in the Star In A Reasonably Priced Car, often.
      • Which seems counterintuitive, as the gear layout is the same, i.e. first is left and forward. But when you are shifting with the left hand instead of the right, you realize your muscles have actually learned in and forward.
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    • During a review of several mini hatchbacks, the trope effectively became the basis for testing the user friendliness of those cars by having the presenters' mothers try to operate them without assistance.
  • Dead Hat Shot: Black Stig's glove, floating on the surface after driving the show's modified Jaguar XJS off the deck of HMS Invincible
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • James May is quite good at putting his co-presenters down or discussing their idiocy while remaining calm and straight-faced.
    • Clarkson is also very good at deadpanning ridiculous statements when he wants to be. Notice how it's almost always him who reads out the Stig Facts, and when Hammond does it he can't quite keep a straight face.
  • Death by Ambulance: On one episode, Hammond, May, and Clarkson were tasked with creating their own ambulances and "saving" dummies that were rigged with timers. Every time the body was bumped while on the way to the hospital, the victim got ten seconds closer to dying. May's fell out of the back of his ambulance, while Hammond's ended up through a window of the hospital.
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  • Deep South: Which they drove through with slogans on their cars like "country and western is rubbish", "NASCAR sucks", "Hillary for President" and "MAN-LOVE RULES OK", with predictable consequences. They also added a Y to the front of Richard's truck so that it said "Dodgey." Apparently "Hillary for President" and even "Man-Love Rules OK" would have probably elicited nothing more extreme than horns and rude comments, but you don't slag C&W or NASCAR.
  • Defcon Five: Clarkson, like so many others, got the Defcon levels wrong when he said that stepping up his Bugatti Veyron (the world's fastest-ever production car) to no-spoiler fast mode took him from Defcon 3 to 4. In another episode, he announced that it was time to go to 'Defcon Stig'.
  • Delicious Distraction: In the "Polar Special," May succeeded in distracting Clarkson with several gourmet food items and a bottle of Chablis from some secret stash.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • A running gag for James May:
      May: ...on a European road trip, beginning in the Italian town of Lucca, which is in Italy.
      May: I went to the United States. [beat] Which is in America.
    • Even Clarkson seems to have caught on with this:
      Clarkson: ...Richard Hammond has his Sunday lunch, every Sunday.
  • Description Cut:
    • Tends to follow statements like "X and I were doing our best to help Y" [cut to shot of Y working furiously while the other two ignore him, make fun of his predicament, or just drive off without him].
    • Done very amusingly in the segment featuring the race across London during the middle of rush hour. Not quite the same, as it's not referring to a specific person, but entertaining anyway
      Clarkson: [in a boat on the Thames, leisurely cruising] This has to be the most stress free and relaxing Monday morning rush-hour commute since the dawn of time.
      [cut to the helmet camera of...]
      Hammond: [on a pedal bike, dodging traffic, lots of noise] Oh no, not another set of sodding lights... Ah, bloody hell!
  • Determinator:
    • The Jaguar XJ6 that went from Basel to Blackpool on one tank of diesel despite Jeremy doing everything he could to waste fuel. Did we mention Basel is in Switzerland?note 
    • Also the Audi A8 that drove from London to Edinburgh and back again on a single tanknote . At one point Clarkson noted that the Germans had actually "made a car that runs on air".
    • And the modified BMW used in the Britcar 24-hour race. After suffering numerous setbacks, and with less than an hour to go, Clarkson claimed the car wanted to finish and he was just "willing it on".
    • The Hilux.
    • The second hand four-wheel drive cars they bought for the Bolivia special, which, against all expectations, made it to the Chile coast from the middle of the Amazon rainforest. The lone exception was Hammond's Land Cruiser, which took a fall down a steep sand dune a few miles from the coast because the brakes were left off. Richard lampshades the trope on the final stretch.
    • The Stig himself; barring mechanical problems, he will get the car across the line. This once included recovering from not one but two spins on a Lancia kit car.
  • Devoured by the Horde: Played for Laughs. One segment involves a combination of fox hunting and greenlaning. Jeremy drives an SUV with a fox inspired paint job and gets chased by a hunting party with dogs. The segment ends with the SUV getting stuck in a ditch and Jeremy getting swarmed by the dogs. In the host segment immediately afterward, Richard says that Jeremy was eaten by the dogs.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: All three have been known to indulge in this during challenges, but Clarkson is the worst repeat offender.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: After Clarkson asks newsreader Fiona Bruce to push his Peel P50 out of an elevator because it has no reverse gear, he says this while she's walking away:
    Clarkson: She has got quite a nice bottom.
    Clarkson: I said that out loud, didn't I?
  • Did You Die?: Hammond gets subjected to this frighteningly often, usually after one of his stunts.
  • Didn't We Use This Joke Already?: Invoked in the Patagonia Special when Hammond comes back to camp with a cow on the roof of his car for dinner. May calls him out on it, pointing out that Jeremy already did that bit in the "top half of America" a few years back.
  • Diesel Punk: The Brutus and Petersen Meteor Bentley featured in series 18, a pair of early 20th century-style cars (albeit made recently) with massive engines: the Brutus has a Heinkel He-111 bomber engine, while the Bentley has a British World War II fighter engine. Both look like they came out of a pulp action series, with the Brutus especially being extremely noisy and downright violent with its external engine.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • There was an amphibious car challenge. Hammond's car looked like a boat (with the steering wheel near the back) with an upper portion for the "girls in bikini to go", which he then noticed was so high up he couldn't see over while driving.
    • Then came Jeremy Clarkson's mobility scooter in season 18, which was arranged so that the drive wheels had nothing actually pressing them against the ground.
    • The motor home challenge: Clarkson designed a three-story home on top of his car. It was barely able to clear overhead passes, and proved to be top-heavy, nearly tipping over several times on the road, and finally did during a very windy night.
    • Hammond's sports limo, being a convertible, had a roof that only covered the rear seats and no working heater. In the J-turn test, he had to wear a helmet to protect himself (which didn't work, as he was hit in the back of the head with a paintball), and the second test involved a water cannon. Cue an Oh, Crap! from Hammond when he hears that part, and sure enough, he gets drenched. He says shortly after that that making a convertible into a limo probably wasn't the bad idea.
    • None of their cop car vehicle-stopping devices proved well planned. Richard neglected to consider that cars can turn, James neglected to consider that cars have windshield wipers, and Jeremy neglected to consider that a car's axle can handle only so much stress. The net result was that none of them managed to stop the Stig—and, as an additional bonus, one of Jeremy's wheels ended up a substantial distance from his car.
    • One of their car vs. X races had James and Hammond in a plane James was piloting racing Jeremy in a car along the ground. Sounds like a good plan, but by the time James had completed all the pre-flight checks Jeremy already had a considerable head start, which was a problem since they were in a small, single-engine plane that was barely faster than Jeremy's high-performance car. And then, to top it all off, they had to land at dusk, since James wasn't checked out on night flying, and finish the race on public transit. An amused Jeremy lampshades it when he hears about that part:
      Jeremy: He really hasn't thought this through, has he?
    • On the Top Ground Gear Force Special, Hammond made a tree seat...with no idea as to how to get it around a tree.
  • Directionless Driver: According to his co-hosts, without a sat-nav (and sometimes even with), this is a very accurate description of James May.
  • Discredited Meme: In-Universe, "...and on that bombshell" has become one with the new hosts.
  • Disguised in Drag: The three presenters disguise themselves by wearing Syrian-style burqas so as not to alert the Israeli authorities that they had been driving through Syria before they had entered Jordan. As usual, it was Ambitious but Rubbish, as they found when they arrived in Damascus.
    May: [sees 'Welcome Top Gear' sign on hotel] I've appeared on television, in drag, for nothing!
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Usually played for humor. Usually.
    • In the Polar Special, this was played dead straight when the three of them started feeling the effects of the cold, exhaustion, and isolation. They began threatening each other with physical harm for tiny infractions, and Clarkson destroyed May's can of "victory Spam" with a shotgun for no apparent reason.
    • May waving his machete in Clarkson's face in the South American adventure. The "disproportionate" of this varies if you believe Jeremy's claim it was an accident, or if you're as tired of the "oh dear, I've run into the back of May's car" Running Gag as May is. And especially when he openly warned his co-presenters not to pull it on him while driving on a winding cliff road with no safety rail. Beware the Nice Ones, indeed.
    • On that note, the crew’s tendency to totally destroy a car on-camera if they do not like the car.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: While "demonstrating" some Porsche-branded pipes, it's played straight by James May. And then it's completely averted ten seconds later when Jeremy burns his tongue after putting the wrong end of the pipe in his mouth.
    Jeremy: It's a 911 Porsche; Hot bit goes at the back.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • Used for comedic effect in one episode, where the cameraman is Distracted by the Sexy, and the camera drifts over to film some beach volleyball players instead of James May and the Honda FCX Clarity he is reviewing.
    • In one News section in Series 14 Clarkson commented that attractive women clad for summer are the worst driving hazard he can think of, to which the other two agreed. Clarkson and company were piloried in the newspapers, of course, but within the same week stories and polls emerged to back up Clarkson's thesis.
    • In season 17 episode 2, when they had to do the Monaco GP track on hot hatches, the three presenters went to get pointers from F1 drivers. Clarkson did his homework, but the other two went to a party and spent the whole time chatting with hot girls.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The presenters' "examples" of car-logo Christmas gifts quickly degenerates into, well...
      May: [holds up a sword with pork chops on it] This pork sword —
      Clarkson: James, don't do the pork sword. [holds up a stuffed rooster with an Audi logo attached] This cock-
      Hammond: Has it got four rings on it?
      Clarkson: Yes it has!
    • And then promptly lampshaded.
      Clarkson: Put this cock in your wizard's sleeve!... [turns to the audience] It's all gone horribly wrong.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Current presenter Andrew Flintoff doesn't like being called by his real name. He told Chris Harris that he prefers his nickname, Freddie. In fact, the BBC credits him as Freddie.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing:
    • Occasionally played with when, for instance, the guys solemnly (and with perfect insincerity) state that they strictly obey the speed limit at all times, or state "this is something we mustn't do" before engaging in impromptu drag races on public streets.
    • Lampshaded when the presenters express momentary concern over the 80's Hatchback challenge "games" demonstrated when the producers were looking the other way. Slightly dangerous games such as "Lap of Your Own Car," "In-Motion Musical Chairs," or "Tea Trays Under the Back Wheels." They decide that no one will ever copy them since no teens have ever gone into a hairdresser and asked for May's haircut.
  • Don't Try This at Home: Conspicuous by its absence. Although they did have a strongly worded warning against insurance fraud in the perfect-car-for-a-17-year-old-boy challenge.
  • Doom It Yourself: Any project that involves severely modifying a car... or, for Clarkson, any project that involves slightly modifying a car. Fortunately failure is just as entertaining as success, sometimes more so.
  • Dork in a Sweater: James May, considered The Smart Guy of the three presenters, is also the only one of them seen on the show in brightly-coloured sweaters and cardigans.
  • Double Entendre: Quite often. Sometimes leads into Does This Remind You of Anything?.
    [while doing the brakes in a Caterham 7 kit-car challenge]
    Clarkson: The nipple is off... the tube is in the hole... I will be needing some pump.
    May: You should feel it go stiff now.
    Clarkson: Pump, man, pump. Braking happening?
    Hammond: Oh yeah, that's much better... yeah, that's hard.
  • Double Take: May at Hammond's Vauxhall Nova crossing the finish line of the Supermarket Sweep race on it's side, in the Old Hatchback Challenge from the first episode of Series 21.
  • Downer Ending: The (epic) Aston Martin Vantage V12 feature at the end of Series 13 convinced more than a couple of people that it would be the last episode of the show, or at least of Clarkson's tenure on it. (Neither was true.) Word of God says they were seriously considering doing the Blackadder thing and ending without even rolling the credits. One or two mocking references to the panicked fan speculation about the end of the show even made it into The Big Book of Top Gear 2009.
    • None of the presenters were able to complete the Budget Supercars challenge. Clarkson's engine exploded and Hammond had an electrical failure. James, ironically, considering his car started on the back of a AA truck, was the last one standing, but ended up either running out of fuel or breaking down seven miles from the goal.
  • Drives Like Crazy: A few of the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car guests. Notable examples include Michael Gambon, who had the last corner named in his honour after he drove round it on two wheels, and Ian Wright, whose reckless driving horrified Clarkson so much that he had to look away.
  • Driving Stick:
    • Several of the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car guests have had to go around the track in an automatic because they can't work out what a clutch pedal is for. You wonder why they'd go on a show about driving really. The occasional American or German has gotten lost in the gear pattern — which is the same on right hand drive as left hand, but "backwards" as far as muscle memory is concerned.
    • When Christopher Eccleston appeared in the segment, they had to find an automatic Suzuki Liana because he'd only had his licence for 14 months and was not authorized to drive a stick shift. Only forty such cars exist in England, so they had to borrow it from some civilian. After they showed Eccleston's practice laps:
      Clarkson: And if that's your car... Tough!
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In the first couple of seasons, The Stig was black-suited and played by a different person. After said person (ex-F1 driver Perry McCarthy) went public about his identity, which is the one thing The Stig is not supposed to do, "Black Stig" was promptly killed off at the start of the next series by driving off an aircraft carrier.
    • Discussed by the presenters after the first "White Stig" (racing driver Ben Collins) did the same thing.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: The reaction the Top Gear: Australia hosts had to their, ahem, "taxi" that picked them up from the airport.
    Jeremy: I just thought it would be nice to come back into the country the way their ancestors left. [cue a jail bus]
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Discussed after Clarkson's review of the Koenigsegg CCX, which even The Stig struggled to control. The presenters all agreed that, as frightening as the car was, going through the pearly gates backwards in the burning wreckage of a Koenigsegg would be one hell of a way to go.
  • Dynamic Entry: In episode 1 of series 17 Hammond takes a shortcut through Johannesburg in the Marauder by driving it through a wall.
  • Eagleland:
    • The show and presenters, especially Clarkson, are infamous in some circles for hating on Americans and American cars — see Deep South above. Clarkson especially views Americans strictly through Flavor # 2 glasses, which has provoked negative responses from viewers, and not just Americans. At the same time, all three of the presenters have favourably reviewed American cars. Two of Jeremy's favourite cars are the Dodge Viper and the Ford GT. May likes Cadillacs for their style and comfort; famously, one Cadillac that failed to impress him with bells and whistles won him over completely with superior handling. And Hammond owns a Ford Mustang and a Dodge Charger and will like just about any traditional American muscle car (he chose the new Dodge Challenger during the American Supercar Challenge precisely because of this).
    • Even with all the America bashing, the show is a huge hit in the US. In fact, it could be argued that it's among the reasons it's popular. A very cringe-worthy moment was when the Jaguar designer said they wouldn't be able to make them as sleek anymore if Americans got their way, because so many Americans couldn't be bothered to wear seat-belts that the US government wanted the roofs higher to protect unbelted drivers.
    • In the Vietnam special, the punishment for having your motorbike break down was to have to use a bike painted in the colours of the US flag, playing "Born in the USA". Remember what happened over 30 years ago.
      Clarkson: Children, if you are watching this at home... and you don't know why this is inappropriate... ask your parents.
    • In the same episode, he mentions, upon entering Hanoi, that he is "doing what no American has ever done before - entering North Vietnam."
    • In one of the Cool Wall segments, he ends up chatting to some of the audience as he often does and ends up with a rather attractive young lady. When he questions her on her accent:
      Jeremy: You're American!?
      Girl: ... Oh...
      Jeremy: [looks up and down her body] You can't be! You're nowhere near fat enough!
    • The three presenters all collectively demonstrate this trope well. Jeremy very, very clearly subscribes to Type 2 (see Boomerang Bigot for why this is hideously ironic), but Richard has a strongly Type 1 view of America (see Eagleland Osmosis below) and James has a mixed view, perhaps leaning a wee bit into Type 2 territory but nowhere near as much as Jeremy does.
    • The big irony, of course, is that Clarkson would be a textbook Type 2 Boorish Eaglelander himself if he were American. There are many perfectly nice people in the UK who don't like him anymore than those in the US.
  • Eagleland Osmosis:
    • May points out the reason why he believes Hammond is an American.
      May: You've got a Stetson, you've got cowboy boots, you've got chaps, you've got a Harley Davidson, you've got a Mustang, you'd like to get a beer, and you put cheese on everything!
    • Clarkson himself possess a lot of the stereotypical attributes he uses to describe Americans; see Boomerang Bigot.
  • Early Instalment Weirdness:
    • Besides the absence of James May, Series 1 had a different co-host named Jason Dawe provide used car advice in a segment called Insider Dealing. While Dawe, Clarkson, and Hammond tried to make the segment interesting, Dawe was dropped by the next series and Insider Dealing was gone after that. In his first series (Series 2) James May did occasionally host Insider Dealer, suggesting someone at Top Gear felt the segment had some merit. Laps with the Stig featured a HUD-style graphic showing a circuit map, lap timer, speed and other numbers and the lap time wold be revealed immediately upon the Stig crossing the line rather than it being built up and played for suspense. Additionally, there were no "Some Say..." bits from Clarkson or Hammond and the Stig is referred to using "It", rather than "He". Also, as noted under Flanderization, the personalities of the hosts weren't really established until the fourth series.
    • Also, Ben Collins (the first White Stig) made several appearances as himself when the show required a stunt driver (Collins is never identified as the Stig in these segments). When the role of the Stig was expanded beyond setting Power Laps and training the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car, the show simply had Collins continue to play the Stig in those segments.
    • The pre-2000 show was much drier. Think Motor Week UK.
  • Eat the Evidence: Richard Hammond has eaten things to keep Jeremy Clarkson from getting his hands on them, including a cardboard picture of a car (intended for the Cool Wall) and a piece of paper with the points for that week's challenge (which showed Clarkson had somehow racked up an improbably huge score on the final test). His nickname of "Hamster" is quite appropriate.
    May: Hamsters eat cardboard.
  • Eat That: On the American South special, the presenters were told that dinner would be whatever they could find on the side of the road. Clarkson somehow found and retrieved an entire dead cow. May promptly announced he had become a vegetarian.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: Invoked in the final episode. Clarkson was not allowed to film studio linking segments with the other two presenters, so in the background of the studio they placed a massive elephant.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: The soundtrack to Clarkson and May's trip to B&Q in the "caravanist" film in Season 20.
  • Emergency Refuelling: When testing electric cars, the drivers are desperately trying to find a place to plug in their cars before the batteries die. They eventually find a place to charge, with one car only having a single mile worth of charge left. Nissan claimed this was staged by intentionally driving the cars in circles to drain the battery to create drama.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: They take great delight in mocking the Swiss for naming a car, "The Growler".
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Although they aren't really enemies, you'll never see any two of the trio get along better than when they're cooperatively screwing with the third.
  • Epic Fail:
    • In general, the presenters are seldom satisfied with ordinary, garden-variety failure, especially with Clarkson around.
    • When May loses a challenge, he can lose spectacularly. For instance, in the race across London he came last by over half an hour, coming behind even The Stig who was using London's notoriously congested and delay-prone public transport services, and in the white van test Clarkson and Hammond got scores of 10.5 and 21 respectively, whereas May got -3,999,993. Hammond beat him and he actually flipped his van during the police chase test.
    • During the kit car challenge, Clarkson managed to install one of the seats the wrong way round, not noticing this blunder until after he had finished. Even when he got both seats installed correctly, he was informed, to his disbelief, that the harnesses have to be mounted before the seats can go in.
    • The homemade convertible: it exceeded 100 MPH and survived lion-filled safaris. The final test was to make sure it could survive a car wash. How does it do? It falls apart, they are forced out of the wash, and then the washing machinery goes up in flames. The convertible itself survived until the tractor challenge; see Watch the Paint Job.
    • Their attempt to make amphibious cars. Clarkson actually managed to ruin a Toyota Hilux.
      Clarkson: None of them were seaworthy. Mine was still on fire.
    • A lot of things that Clarkson attempts end up on fire. Even the brakes on an antique car that he owns go up in flames.
    • The first iteration of their electric car could only go ten miles an hour.
      Clarkson: We are being overtaken by children!'
    • In the trucker challenge, all three announcers were told to bring their assigned cargo (a cake for May, a car for Hammond, and a bale of straw with a heater for Clarkson) from point A to point B. The results were thus: May's giant cake had toppled over, Hammond's car was missing, and Clarkson's truck was engulfed in flames.
      • This one got lampshaded by Hammond: "How can we be this rubbish?!"
    • This has gotten to the point of having "Top Fail" specials, two very prominent examples featuring the Reliant Robin. First, there was Clarkson's attempt to drive a Robin 14 miles, but ended up flipping over quite a few times, twice in the background of an outdoors BBC News report (and crashing in the river ultimately), and an attempt to make a Reliant space shuttle that was obliterated upon crashing. (The main fault was during an RC landing procedure, the grips between the car and the main booster pod caught fire and ultimately unable to land safely).
    • In the police car challenge, each of them equipped their cars with weapons to stop the Stig from getting away. James used a paintball gun to block the Stig's view through his windshield; the Stig reacted by simply turning on the windscreen wipers. Richard dropped a makeshift spike trap in front of the Stig, hoping to puncture his tyres; the Stig just drove around it. Jeremy had Spiked Wheels, which broke off a wheel. Namely, one of Jeremy's.
    • Michael Schumacher's lap in the Suzuki Liana. He stalled off the line then started grinding gears after starting it again, went off course at Chicago and crashed into a camera tripod (and almost killed a cameraman), which smashed the windscreen, went incredibly slow on the Follow Through, then drove the wrong way around the tyres and got lost before he could reach Gambon.
    • The conclusion of the Zenvo ST1 video. While the supercar turned out to be very fast, it suffered from a design flaw which made it very hard to control in sports mode, and it suffered two serious mechanical breakdowns, the second of which caused it to catch fire. When the Stig had to drive it on the wet track it came in slower than a BMW M5, a saloon car. Bear in mind that the Zenvo costs £800,000.
    • A somewhat more minor example: in the Africa special, Hammond manages to 'beach an all-wheel drive Subaru' while exiting the ferry onto the beach.
  • Epic Race: Several of the challenges. So many, in fact, that the presenters even call them such.
    • The very first Epic Race was from the beginning of Series 4, in which Jeremy drove an Aston Martin DB 9 from the studio down to Monte-Carlo, against James and Richard who rode on public trains.
    • The economy race from Basel to the Blackpool Illuminations took 17 hours.
    • The Race Across Japan (Jezza at the wheel of the Nissan GT-R vs Richard and James on Japanese public transportation including the 200 mph Bullet Train) easily counts, especially as it was one of the closest finishes ever for a Top Gear Epic Race.
      • The award for closest finish goes to the second Epic Race. With Jeremy electing for a faster car, the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, the other two - who had been allowed to use all forms of public transport - made it to the high street of the destination town (the Swiss town of Verbier) when Jeremy drives on by to take the lead and the eventual victory. While it could be argued that the Race Across Japan was closer in terms of time between the competitors (three minutes, twelve seconds), Verbier was the only race in which the trio came face-to-face during a race.
    • The race from Heathrow to Oslo was also quite a punishingly long run.
  • Escalating War: Most road trips devolve into two of the presenters pranking the other one. For example, after destroying James' air conditioner in India, he turns the heater to full and rips the knob off in Clarkson's car, and permanently fixes Hammond's seat too far forward. Things keep going from there.
    • The Nile River special includes a running gag where repairs are made to each presenters car... by using bits from the other presenters' cars. To wit: James uses metal from Jeremy's passenger door to replace his broken skid plate; Jeremy retaliates by patching the hole with metal from James' hood; James fixes that hole with Richard's hood; Richard fixes that hole with Jeremy's other door; and finally, Jeremy discovers that Richard's rear window can replace his own after it was broken.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto:
    • Lamborghini Gallardo - an unidentified fault with the engine caused several to erupt into flames, prompting James to remark:
      May: I'd like a Lamborghini. Can I have one that's not on fire?
    • Ferrari 458 Italia - an issue with the adhesives used to bond part of the rear caused a few to burst into flames. During the filming of the 2010 Christmas Special in the US where James was driving a 458, Richard and Jeremy both appeared to James wearing T-shirts showing pictures of the car burning.
    • After Porsche identified a fault with the new GT3 that had caused several of them to catch fire, Jeremy and James took great delight in constantly reminding Hammond that he himself had recently ordered a new GT3, including giving him a pair of "GT3 driving gloves" (oven gloves with the Porsche badge on them) and, after Hammond's was recalled, a miniature GT3... which promptly and spontaneously caught fire.
    • Replace the word "car" with the word "caravan" and you're close. The team will not rest until every caravan on Earth is destroyed violently.
      Clarkson: [Series 4, episode 4] You know, that's the nineteenth caravan we've destroyed on this programme in twelve months!
  • Every Episode Ending: Most episodes end with Jeremy Clarkson saying "...and on that bombshell, it's time to end..." or variants thereof with few exceptions. Such as when Clarkson was caught and devoured by a pack of hunting dogs.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: During Clarkson's review of the BMW Z4 and Nissan 370Z in series 13, the test track was inhabited by dinosaurs for no apparent reason. It's pretty awesome anyway.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Subverted during the convertible people carrier challenge. Jeremy and Richard actually taunt James over his concern over the park's primates, only to freak out themselves when monkeys start jumping and climbing on their van's homemade roof. Apparently, it wasn't too much of a concern at first as the car's roof was quite evidently covered in diced fruit to attract the monkeys.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Invoked in the Botswana special.
    May: In the Okavango, you will encounter many deadly animals including lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, hippos, black rhino and crocodile, [Beat] bird snakes, shield-nose snakes, puff adders, boomslang, king cobras, banded cobras, black mambas, black widows, and thick-tailed scorpions.
    Jeremy Clarkson: What about the honey badger?note 
  • Evil Laugh: James May at the beginning of the Limousine Challenge while talking about the car he was going to use to make his limousine.
  • Exact Words:
    • As promised, Clarkson didn't drive James' old Ferrari in a drag race. The Stig on the other hand...
    • During "The Ashes Challenge" Hammond won a drag race despite being handicapped with him being only allowed to drive a white van, the Top Gear Australia hosts accused them of cheating, only for Jeremy to point out that they weren't since neither side agreed not to allow a turbo-charged white van with a Jaguar engine hooked up in the back.
  • Extreme Omnivore:
    • Clarkson is all to happy to try whatever native dish is on hand on their overseas trips, and has mentioned on other shows, such as QI, other exotic dishes he's eaten.
    • May was the first to bravely try Clarkson's "manly V8 smoothie" (composed of raw beef with bones, Bovril, tabasco sauce, chilis, and "for added bite" a brick), blended in a blender powered by a Corvette's V8 engine. The nonchalance abruptly ended when the full effect of the taste hit:
      May: I've got the name for it: the Bloody Awful.
    • Taking other shows he's been on into consideration, it's a wonder James hasn't been poisoned yet. See the Character page for the full list.
  • Eye Scream: Despite how much grief they love to give the BBC Health & Safety Board for being "pointless, meddling twaddle", Hammond inadvertently provides an excellent lesson in wearing eye protection in a workshop while building the "Rover James". While stitching some new seat covers, the sewing machine's needle shatters and a chunk of it goes almost directly into Richard's eye, necessitating a massive bandage. He and Jeremy later completely deny this happened to a bemused James.
  • Face Palm:
    • All the presenters have done this to each other at some point.
    • Jeremy Clarkson facepalmed during the 14.02 news after an unexpected audience reaction:
      Clarkson: Now. We have to just touch on something, don't we, before we go because—
      Audience: [laughter]
      Hammond: No, no, no, no!
      Clarkson: [facepalm]
    Not a complete surprise as they were talking about May's 'fizzing spot behind his penis' thing just before it.
  • Fade to Black: Every filmed insert ends by either cutting or fading to black.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Subverted, averted and played straight — amazingly, sometimes within the same episode.
  • Fanservice:
    • You know Madison Welch wasn't invited to be on the show because of her extensive knowledge of cars.
    • Subverted with Jodie Kidd: no-one really expected anything out of her other than some eye candy, but she actually topped the "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car" rankings when she appeared on the show, and held that title until the following season.
    • The early series had even more egregious examples, like Jeremy Clarkson's explanation of the Porsche 911 range.
    • And these bloopers featuring some native British "birds."
  • Famous Last Words: "I'll see you in Spain lads!" -James May, right before driving off a cliff to his "death" at the end of the Albanian Road Trip (He got better.)
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: RichardHammond when something of great interest comes up... or perhaps the chance to make fun of his two co-presenters.
  • Fast-Forward Gag: James May explaining to the other two how to figure out if the Morris Mini they've chosen can actually go over a ski jump successfully.
  • Fish out of Water: The Stig whenever he's not behind the wheel of something.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flanderization: Even producer Andy Wilman has acknowledged that the presenters have been narrowed down to one or two basic personality traits. ("Jeremy is walk through a door rather than open it, Richard's massively accident prone and cheeky chappie, and James is a pedantic nerd.")
  • Flapping Cheeks: When Top Gear tested out the Ariel Atom (which doesn't have a windshield), Jeremy tested out the acceleration and the headwind blew his cheeks outward. He would later claim that the car's acceleration can rearrange your face.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: During the challenge where they use ex-military equipment to knock down condemned houses, Clarkson treats his minesweeper like a dog.
    Clarkson: [narrating] Happily I'd finally managed to housetrain my digger!
    Clarkson: [walking along side his machine with the remote] Walkies! Yes... good digger!
  • Flying Saucer: In 14.07, during Hammond's review of the Lexus RX 450h. One wonders if Andy Wilman spends time on this site looking for ideas...
  • Food and Animal Attraction: In the Africa Special, Hammond and Clarkson try to invoke this trope deliberately against May by planting huge chunks of beef inside the bodywork and engine compartments of May's car as they approached a game reserve, hoping to attract lions to him. It doesn't work.
  • Foreign Queasine:
    • Hammond was mysteriously "not hungry" for most of the Vietnam special
      May: [looking at the menu] Um, well I think this thing here is a sort of squid thing with some... weird paste.
      Hammond: [unhappily] Don't like squid.
      May: Okay, well you can have crab, with...
      Hammond: Don't like crab.
      May: Razor clams.
      Hammond: Don't like clams.
    • In the end he eats a bowl of rice... krispies.
    • Hammond also revealed that he doesn't eat fish in the Nissan GT-R vs Bullet Train race in Japan, and it was likewise lampshaded by Clarkson when the camera cut to him.
      Clarkson: [showing off his back of snacks] That is just a fish... lightly killed, and then put in a bag. The marvelous thing is that Richard Hammond won't be able to enjoy any of this. Because he won't eat anything unless it's come from a burger van on the A38. [mimics] "I don't like cheese it's full of bacteria, and I don't like fish."
      Hammond: May, it's all fish! I...
      May: Yeah. It's good for you.
      Hammond: I don't like fish!
      May: Well you've come to the wrong country.
    • And after hoping for lamb chops in a Damascus restaurant, he instead gets lamb brain, head, stomach, and testicles.
      Hammond: I'm in a horror film...
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the "Ashes" challenge against Top Gear Australia, the van used to win the drag race is revealed to have been powered by an engine from a Jaguar XJ220. Those who know their cars might have seen this coming because the van's wheels (seen before and during the race) are also identical to XJ220's.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Jeremy Clarkson: Choler. The leader who dares dream anything is possible, but is usually brought down by his arrogance.
    • Richard Hammond: Sanguine. Outgoing, daring, and always up for fun over control, but also the most easily upset.
    • James May: Melancholy. Organized and the best at fixing things mechanically, but also pedantic and occasionally bogged down in details.
    • The Stig: So phlegmatic he never speaks, startles or betrays emotion.
  • Free Wheel: Several times, for example when Clarkson's tries to use his Spiked Wheels in the "alternative police car" challenge.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the last series of the original trio's run, items with Chilean flags (magnets, lapel pins, mugs, etc.) appear throughout the studio set as a thank you to the Chilean government for helping the crew of the show escape Argentina during the Patagonia Christmas special.
  • Freudian Trio: Hammond is the Id, for his emotional moments such as with Oliver and war veterans as well as a reckless sense of adventure; Clarkson is the Ego, for being both intelligent enough to make a truck cross the Channel yet not understand how a car works; and May is the Superego, who relies entirely on intelligence to the point of boring.
  • Friendship Moment: Rare, but they happen.
    • On a frightening mountain pass at night with no headlights and nothing visible except the back of Hammond's Toyota:
      May: Hammond, I want to say something to you that I wouldn't say at any other time.
      Hammond: What?
      May: Please don't leave me.
      Hammond: Oh God, those words are going to stay with me for a bit, I'll struggle to get over that. [more sincerely] No, I won't.
    • Insofar as a fifty year old man can literally Squee!, Clarkson does so when May gives him a present to cheer him up after a hard day of polar trekking.
    • In the Burma Special, while the three are building the bridge, Clarkson provides bottles of Red Cock and Black Cock whiskey (heh), gin and tonic and cans of cold beer to a grateful Hammond and May.
    • Probably the most important one happened off camera: Clarkson and May were among the first to get to the hospital after Hammond's accident. Clarkson also sent amusing text messages to Hammond's wife every day for five weeks after the accident to keep her spirits up while her husband was in the hospital.
  • Friend to All Children: Hammond, who befriends some in a quaint Vietnam village.
  • From Bad to Worse: Frequently in the cheap car challenges. They start out as hopeless bangers, so there's nowhere to go but down. Also often found in challenges where the presenters have to create something, like their own limousines, motorhomes, or a combination combine harvester/snowplow.
    Clarkson: So far then, we'd crashed a plane, ruined a car, burned a sign and smashed a house. And then, things got worse...
  • Fruit Cart: Close — a flower cart, as part of an obstacle course in the car-for-a-17-year-old challenge. The presenters lost points for not hitting it.
  • Fun T-Shirt:
  • Funny Background Event:
    • In the tractors challenge, Hammond attempts to herd sheep with the "assistance" of Top Gear Dog, while Clarkson and May have a conversation in the foreground
    • At one point in the "car for a 17-year-old" challenge, The Stig can be seen putting his head into a photocopier.
    • Such is their skill that they can even invoke this trope on other BBC shows. For those who cannot see thanks to YouTube, the events mentioned include Jeremy driving the Peel P50 through the BBC studio and eventually through the background of the live BBC News 24 Broadcast. The other event is when the Top Gear team received Toy Remote Control Cars which they discovered stuck to windows very well and could be driven up them...if you were watching "The One Show" on a certain night, you may have noticed strange objects going up the windows from the outside... (One of the presenters certainly did, on the feedback monitor, if the suppressed Corpsing is anything to go by)
    • There is a picture of Will Young on Jeremy's desk as they phone shop for car insurance for their fictional 17-year old children. There is a picture of the Queen on James's desk, and Richard has some teeth whitener on his desk.
    • The Season 14 finale had a moment where James' introduction to the next segment was interrupted by Hammond crashing an electric-powered skateboard into part of the set behind him.
    • While exploring how poorly the Renault Avantime handled corners, Richard is seen sliding across the backseat with a barely audible yelp of surprise.
    • Jeremy happily eating an ice-cream on a beach in the foreground, while his block-of-flats Citroën goes tumbling down a cliff behind him.
    • From earlier in the same episode (Series 15 Episode 4): Jeremy cooking dinner in the foreground and explaining how carefully he is monitoring the food because the last time he tried to cook in a caravan he set it on fire, while, after a cut to a different view allows you to see out the window behind him, you can see Richard frantically fighting an enormous fire caused by his own reckless cooking.
    • Jeremy skidding and flipping over on his side in the background of a BBC News segment in Series 15. Twice.
    • After Clarkson and May have a race around the rack with their BMWs in the 2000-quid-or-less-convertible challenge, you can hear Hammond's car alarm still going off while the other two talk about their cars.
    • In the Albania episode of series 16, Jeremy ends up rolling backwards while the "Bentley" (actually a Yugo since Bentley pulled their car from the episode at the last minute) scrapes against a wall. As Hammond and May discuss Clarkson's idiocy, you can hear Clarkson in the background screaming about how the door mirror's been ripped off.
    • In Part 2 of the Burma Special, the morning after the Apocalypse Now-esque party, we see Hammond going in and out of the what can possibly be the outhouse of a Shan village dealing with his epic hangover, while May and Clarkson is discussing about the "apparent" lack of drug trade in the notorious Golden Triangle in the foreground.
    • In the Finale episode, Hammond's victory in the Classic Car Challenge is a place in the air show, a seat on top of one of the biplanes. There are two of these that follow, with Hammond screaming like hell as the plane flies past Clarkson and May completely ignoring him.
  • Fun with Acronyms: In the "50 Years of James Bond" special, the Top Gear Invisible Car/Van works via the Particularly Enigmatic New Invisibility System.
    • For the ambulance challenge Hammond's "siren" was a Traffic Urgent Rerouting & Dispersal System.
  • Fun with Subtitles:
    • In the episode where the lads make their own electric car with a noisy diesel generator to charge the batteries.
      Hammond: [shouting over the noise] Well that's brilliant! It's a hybrid. We've built a Prius!
      Subtitle: This is an appalling racket. We are useless at everything.
      Clarkson: You don't think the producers are messing with the subtitles, do you?
      Subtitle: I am a big fat bald idiot.
      Hammond: No, they wouldn't do that.
      Subtitle: And I'm a short arse.
    • The episode after the cheap rear-wheel-drive car challenge, "translating" a song in French as a rant about that episode's Morris Marina destruction.
    • Occasionally used as a censor as well.
      ADAC Technician: [while putting one of their "cheap cars" through a test] Scheiße! (Literally "Shit!")
      Subtitle: Oh bother.
    • It also works both ways as well.
      May: [after checking onto a Eurotunnel train and presumably getting annoyed by the attendant] What a miserable cow.
      Subtitle: Quelle vache malheureuse.
  • Games of the Elderly: When Jeremy and Richard make a car for old people, they fit a satnav with only four destinations, one of them being the bingo hall.
  • Gargle Blaster: The V8 Smoothie (aka the "Bloody Awful").
  • Gag Penis: The CPR dummy in the ambulance challenge (they had to insert a catheter while their ambulances raced around the track). To make matters worse (or better) it was a female dummy, which Clarkson took to describing as a "ladyboy".
    • The Stig's Australian cousin has a very conspicuous bulge; he gets dubbed "Big Stig" by the presenters.
  • Gay Bravado: The presenters alternate jabs at the others' heterosexuality and get squicked by each others' insinuations. Amusingly, their interviews and appearances elsewhere carry it on. On Have I Got News for You, James's first reaction to the host mentioning that Jeremy had been in the news lately was, "Has he come out?"
  • Gearhead Show: aka Petrolhead show in the UK.
  • Geeky Turn-On:
    • During his stint as a Scooterman, May is so impressed by his fare's knowledge about her car that he asks her to hold his helmet and gets her phone number so he can ask for help if he has trouble with a road test. Later, in the studio:
      Clarkson: That Audi woman you had, she was amazing!
      May: Yeah, I, uh, found her strangely attractive.
      Clarkson: Nothing strange about the attraction there, she was great!
    • Jools Holland (during his interview as Star In A Resonably Priced Car) gushed to Clarkson about May's 'great mind'.
  • Gesundheit:
    James: What would you say if I said, Perodua Kelisa?
    Richard: Ooh, bless you!
  • Ghost Town: In series 20 episode 3 they visit recession-ravaged Spain and describe it as being a ghost country, finding completely empty airports, towns and even suburbs of the capital.
    • From the Burma special, the new Burmese capital, Naypyidaw. While its population is just under a million, it's disproportionately huge and still under construction, meaning a lot of it is empty. To demonstrate, they park up on the main thoroughfare (which has 10 lanes in each direction) and play a game of football right there in the middle of the completely empty road!
    • In series 21 episode 3, when they end their trip through Ukraine in... Chernobyl. Both Clarkson and May have to drive through the city, including the destroyed reactor and abandoned theme park in Pripyat.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • Jeremy in the Vietnam special: "Still, at least I'd been assured it wouldn't rain." Cue him soaked to the skin in the torrential monsoonal rain.
    • Also in the Bolivia special, when attempting to pull James' stuck little Suzuki free with Jeremy's lumbering 3.5 liter Land Rover.
      May: Please be gentle with this, Jeremy, and not a yob.
      Clarkson: POWEEER!
    • In the Burma special, Clarkson attempts to take a page from Alec Guinness' playbook and order everyone about when it came time to build their bridge, much to the annoyance of May and Hammond.
      Clarkson: I told you, James. Officers will not work.
      May: [glares]
      [cut - Clarkson is in a hotbox cell]
      Clarkson: I've changed my mind! Officers will work!
  • Glasses Pull: Hammond does this during the first American Road Trip special, upon seeing New Orleans one year after Hurricane Katrina.
  • Glory Days: Clarkson's lament at seeing the old, long-abandoned Jensen factory, noting that during the 1970's, over 27% of the British workforce were involved in the manufacturing industry. Today, its barely 9%.
    Clarkson: It's not that we don't make sports-cars anymore... we don't make anything!
    • They have also lamented that new fuel efficiency standards are putting an end to the era of the supercar.
  • Godwin's Law: Subverted in Jeremy and James' "Grosser vs. Corniche" competition. James talks down Jeremy's Grosser by listing the names of several infamous dictators who owned his car including; Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, Hirohito, Mao Tse Tung, and Pol Pot.
  • Golden Snitch: The challenges the trio undergo will sometimes have one event that awards far more points than the others, allowing victory to come from just one event. In the British Leyland challenge, the last event was an endurance race where they earned 20p per yard covered while the car was filled with water; therefore, there was no real limit other than the size of their fuel tanks as to how much money they could win. Sure enough, May's Austin Princess dominated this event and won the whole challenge.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The 'Lethal Car Decorating' in the US special.
  • Good with Numbers: James May.
    • At the end of the British Leyland challenge:
      May: We got 20p for every yard you covered — you did 1,500 yards, so...
      Hammond: Uh..
      Clarkson: That's, um...
      May: It's £300, you half-wit.
    • During the news segment in Series 12, Episode 06, May claimed to have calculated the total number of engine revs that his 25 year old Porsche had sustained in its lifetime, which prompted this reaction:
      Hammond: Wow! So you must actually have done everything there is to do in the whole world, to get to the bottom of the list of everything a human being can do. What's it like on the top of Everest? Is it good?
      May: It's alright.
      Clarkson: Richard, I went to a dinner party the other day, and I sat next to a girl who said she couldn't believe that James May was still single.
      Hammond: There's your answer... Theerrreee's your answer!
  • Gratuitous French: During the "dramatic reinactment" of Peugeot deciding to go from making excellent cars to terrible cars. Bonus points for also having gratuitous pencil-thin mustaches on everyone, gratuitous black turtlenecks on the board members, and even an gratuitous accordion player.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball:
    • When retired footballer Ian Wright was the guest, Clarkson invoked this.
    • Clarkson has also occasionally (and jokingly) referred to golf clubs as "golf bats".
    • Both Clarkson and Hammond invoked and parodied this after rumours surfaced that the latter was to front the BBC's renewed Formula One coverage. Hammond apparently knows nothing about Formula One.
      Clarkson: [imitating Hammond's commentary] "And they're off, and look at that idiot in the Mercedes SL! He's holding them all up!" No, Richard, that's the parade lap.
      Hammond: [playing along] "And he's coming into the pits... what, for fuel? Well, why didn't he just fill up before he left?" note  I would be the worst person in the world for that job.
      May: Well...maybe not the worst person...
  • Groin Attack:
    • Clarkson to May with a paintball gun during the limousine challenge.
      May: The rules said hits on the car, not hits on the wedding vegetables.
    • James returned the favour in Season 13, when he accidentally hit Clarkson in the "plums".
    • Hammond accidentally headbutted May in the "gentleman's region" during the Vietnam challenge.
    • Clarkson gets nailed by a paintball fired out of an F-1 Car's exhaust in Season 14 Ep 5. This counts as an amusing injury because of the sound of it hitting, and then Clarkson's reaction of agony.
    • Hammond accidentally kicks one of the dancing girls in the crotch towards the end of "The Interceptors" segment in Season 17.
    • May ends up receiving a Stealth Hi/Bye karate-kick from the Chinese "Attack" Stig in Series 18.
      Clarkson: Ha! In the plums!
    • To the CPR dummy in the ambulance challenge, as the trio had to insert a catheter as part of the challenge.


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