- Racing the Train:
- Top Gear has used the format several times with Jeremy Clarkson in a car vs. James May and Richard Hammond riding the train. In Europe the train was the Eurostar and TGV, and in Japan it was the Shinkansen.
- There is also the famous Top Gear Race to the North, with Jeremy Clarkson in the trainnote , James May in a Jaguar XK120 and Richard Hammond and on a Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle.
- Ratings Stunt: The episode which aired footage of the 300 mph crash which temporarily brain-damaged Richard Hammond was timed to compete with the finale of Big Brother on Channel 4.
- Reaction Shot: The "I went on the internet and I found this" gag, in which James and Richard's disgusted reactions are shown, but the thing that Jeremy found is not.
- Really Gets Around: The Stig's Italian Cousin, nicknamed Bunga-Bunga Stig, who is introduced leaving his coach with four women.
- Real Men Wear Pink: James May. Although he is teased for having "lady's hair", wearing flowery shirts and listening to Bach, he claims to be the only "proper bloke" on Top Gear because of his love of brown beer, pies, tools and fart jokes. He's also the best shot with a rifle, and has a machete and knows how to use it.
- Real Song Theme Tune: A europop cover of the Allman Brothers Band's "Jessica". Also an Instrumental Theme Tune. See also Theme Tune Cameo below.
- Reckless Gun Usage:
- In one episode, the hosts travel to the North Pole, and are given a variety of firearms in case they need to defend themselves from polar bears. At one point, though, James May earnestly looks down the barrel of his shotgun, and is yelled at by their guide, who grabs the weapon out of his hands. In a Series 14 outtake, May defended himself, claiming it was the only way to see whether the barrel is unblocked, which is still incredibly wrong.
- In the series 16 "USA Road Trip" special, one the challenges is for the hosts to perform a mock drive-by shooting in their chosen supercars. While getting weapons training, Jeremy is seen playing with his pistol as if it was a toy. In an overlap with Artistic License Gun Safety, none of the trainers intervene.
- Retirony: Some of the things the boys destroyed were either set for retirement, demolition or renovations. Reportedly the car wash that caught fire in the Renault Espace convertible challenge was due for demolition, and the turf at Twickenham Stadium was set for resurfacing prior to the car rugby match.
- Record Needle Scratch: Clarkson interrupts his own epic narration in the Nile Special with one to inform viewers that they've already found the source of the Nile River five minutes in.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Having access to the BBC's library of licensed music means that a lot of film score tracks get thrown in. This results in the occasional change being required for re-runs and international airings.
- Red Baron: "All we know is, he's called The Stig."
- Not censorship, but rather an anti-boredom motive.Clarkson: Now I'm going to talk about all the German technical stuff but for those not interested in all that, on the left-hand half of the screen we'll be showing kittens!
- Played straight in the Bonneville Salt Flats special. Claiming they have visas to visit America to film a factual review but not to do an entertainment program, Clarkson censors several scenes because they're getting dangerously entertaining.
- Not censorship, but rather an anti-boredom motive.
- Renaissance Man: James May, between his music degree, pilot's license, and shows about toys, the Apollo program, technology and alcoholic drink, not to mention his knowledge of cars. His programme James May's Man Lab and book How To Land An A330 Airbus, And Other Vital Skills for the Modern Man are further examples of his diverse areas of interest and expertise.
- Rental Car Abuse: When James and Jeremy race across New Zealand, James takes a racing catamaran and Jeremy rents a Toyota Corolla specifically because of this trope. In another episode, Jeremy checks the history of a car James and Richard are cutting in half for an art piece and finds out it was a rental car.
- Repeat Cut: Used and overused in early films (the Toyota Hilux torture test was a particularly gross offender) but largely averted now.
- Revisiting the Roots: Series 23 is considered to be a failed experiment, with a poorly-received main presenter, a confusing rotation of supporting presenters, and turning the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" feature into a motorcross challenge. Series 24 got rid of a lot of that by getting rid of the poorly-received main presenter, refocused the show onto the classic formula of three blokes faffing about in cars, and brought back the classic Top Gear Test Track for the newly-christened "Star in a Reasonably Fast Car" challenge.
- Revival: The original Top Gear was cancelled in 2001. When the show was relaunched in 2002, the focus shifted toward humour and crazy stunts with the cars sometimes merely an afterthought. It's become vastly more popular than the original, up to the point of Sequel Displacement in many parts of the world, like the US.
- Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: In one segment, Jeremy Clarkson is asked to open a municipal swimming pool. Clarkson decides that the only way to do so in style is by doing so with a Rolls-Royce. Emphasis on "with". Clarkson demonstrates that a Rolls should not be used as a flotation device.
- Riddle for the Ages: Anything about The Stig beyond the fact that he's a "tame racing driver."
- Ridiculous Exchange Rates: In the Vietnam special, each of the trio were given 15 million dong to buy transportation. Though they were initially delighted to have "inches of money," this turned out to equal just over US$1,000, which was not enough to buy a car, so they had to make do with motorbikes.
- Right-Hand Cat: In 02.06 Clarkson and Hammond threaten May with dire consequences if he does not break the landspeed record for towing a caravan, all the while petting white plush toy cats.
- Ring of Fire: Jeremy actually created one during in S22E2 using firewood and petrol, his intention being that it would act as both a campfire and as protection against wild animals. The only problem is, he forgot to bring the tents into the circle before lighting the fire.
- Ring... Ring... CRUNCH:
- An annoying talking device meant to remind diesel drivers to put the correct fuel in their vehicles. Clarkson killed it with a hammer.
- James May once shot his mobile phone, apparently.May: Yes. It made annoying noises. Digital stuff is my technological blind spot. I got so cross that I got my Beretta, took it into a field and blew it to bits....If technology annoys you, I highly recommend shooting it to death. It's very cleansing.
- Rockstar Parking: At the end of their epic races. The presenters may have to fight traffic getting to the hotel, but they can always pull up right at the doornote . Averted when May and Clarkson were doing challenges in their luxury limousines. They were ordered to drive into the center of London and park. They failed.
- Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Jeremy is mostly Romantic with some Enlightenment moments; you could argue that the practical James is the opposite. Richard leans more towards Romantic arguably.
- Perhaps this is best shown when Jeremy Clarkson reviewed the McLaren MP4-12C and compared it to the Ferrari 458 Italia, to test McLaren's claim that "it was better in every measurable way". While the test showed that the McLaren was better in every measurable way, he then proceeded to criticize the car and company for being "too serious, lacking art, and soul-less." Saying that the 458 was still more preferable and better artistically, and ended up being the car he would much rather have. Jeremy later did a similar review/comparison between the Audi R8 and Corvette ZR1. Even though he considered the R8 to be better practically and in some areas of performance, he said the ZR1 was still better saying "you would have to be a lunatic to own one, and that is exactly why you should."
- Certain cars or brands could qualify. For example most Italian cars, Alfa Romeo for a specific example, are considered artsy, soulful, and full of passion. Some other cars also qualify, including some American cars, which can sometimes be considered cheap or bad, but certain cars from there are spectacular in terms of fun, including the Corvette ZR1, or the Mustang which was not considered to be spectacular but "there was something about it" which made it "borderline sub-zero" on the show's "Cool Wall". British car makes like Aston Martin and Jaguar, depending on your interpretation, are either in the middle of the spectrum or an unusual combination of both extremes.
- The presenters in general will often feel somewhat sad when a car sacrifices fun or speed for practicality or eco-friendlyness. Even the normally Enlightened James May is not always immune to this.
- This feeling applies to the auto industry as a whole. They all expressed disappointment that there will likely never be another car like the Bugatti Veyron, and just about every "old vs. new" review picks nostalgia and "pure driving experience" over superior technology.
- There were signs of this turning around in the last 2 seasons, though. All 3 presenters were deeply impressed by the LaFerrari, McLaren P1, and Porsche 918 - hybrid supercars that are both eco-friendly and staggeringly fast. They were trying to arrange a 3-way shootout between all three when the show shut down.
- Rousing Speech: Subverted. Clarkson attempts several of these during the 24-hour road-repair challenge and succeeds only in irritating the crew. May eventually takes his megaphone away and throws it under a steamroller.
- Ruined Forever:
- Surprisingly invoked by the hosts themselves numerous times, mostly when a new model of a car line is inferior to its predecessors. They also call it on their own show when during the London race, a car driven by May comes dead last in a competition between it, a boat, a bike, and public transport.
- The Ruins I Caused: Hammond and May cackling over the devastation after their 'car darts' game.
- Rule of Cool: The basis behind many of the projects and challenges. Why race a Bugatti Veyron against an RAF Eurofighter Typhoon? Why attempt to turn a Reliant Robin into a space shuttle? Why do any of the things they do? Because they're cool, dammit! A literal Rule of Cool is used to decide where a car goes on the Cool Wall — with the codicil that some cars are so cool that they must be declared uncool, because you would only buy such a car if you were Compensating for Something.
- Rule of Funny: The basis behind the rest of the projects and challenges. Why turn a truck into an amphibious vehicle? Why launch a car on a rocket only to see it hit the ground and then explode? Why make James May try to drive fast? (Or why let him get lost — actually lost — on a race track?) Because it's funny, durn it!
- Rule of Three: The main reason there are three primary presenters — two can ally against the third.
- Rummage Sale Reject:
- James May has a collection of incredibly loud shirts. He especially favors a purple-and-pink striped number. One of them, a white shirt with a blue flower pattern, even has its own fanbase.
- The ridiculous outfits they end up wearing in Vietnam, matching their bikes and cargo.
- The clothing worn for losing mysterious bets during Series 12.
- Run for the Border: Jeremy refers to this word for word when the presenters attempt to flee the angry mob in Alabama during the US road trip special.
- They do it again during the Patagonia special at the end when angry residents of Tierra Del Fuego who objected to Jeremy's license plate chase the crew out of town.
- Played for Laughs at the end of the Albania trip. The final test is a staged bank robbery to find which luxury car makes the best getaway vehicle. The finish line is a boat back to Spain. Jeremy and Richard make it safely to the boat in the BMW and Rolls Royce. James trails so far behind in the "Bentley" that the police who failed to catch Jeremy and Richard are able to form a roadblock. He ends up driving himself off a cliff to avoid being caught.
- Running Gag: One of the show's favorite tropes.
- There are many gags pertaining to the presenters themselves:
- The stylized introductions of the Stig; Clarkson's love of hammers, chainsaws, and powweeeeeerrrr; the frequent characterization of presenter James May as "Captain Slow" or similar, because of his generally unaggressive and leisurely driving style; and of course comic hints that one presenter is concealing an embarrassing personal secret — that Hammond has had his teeth whitened; that May is gay and/or is enamoured of one of the others; and that Clarkson has a crush on Pop Idol winner Will Young. Although the last one might be true...
- Jeremy always refers to Norwegians as "Nors". "I would clear a runway on the ice, and then a Nor would land his plane on it." He does this because he thinks it sounds better.
- Clarkson describing a test facility as "top secret", before giving detailed road directions for how to find it. Actually started out on his chat show Clarkson.
- Any car that May drives will be accidentally bumped into by the other two presenters, especially when parking. This eventually culminates on Death Road during the Bolivian Special where May warns Clarkson not to do it or he'll "cut his f**king head off". Both give him their word they won't, but when Clarkson takes his eye off when another car overtakes them, he bumps into him. Cue May stopping the car and coming towards Clarkson with a large machete and shouting at him. The scary thing was this may not have been a joke.
- Both Clarkson and Hammond putting something in May's car to annoy him. In the past this has been cheese that grilled over his engine so he'd lose points in a classic car competition, replacing the Bach to Techno from his expensive "Banging stereo for my tunes" setting it to maximum volume and then supergluing all the buttons so he couldn't turn it off. During the race to Blackpool on a single tank, they planted heavy items in his car's boot to reduce its fuel economy. And on two occasions, they've hidden cow's heads in his car so they'd attract wild animals. They've also tried putting those animal heads in May's tent.
- Any time May's car on a budget car trip has working Air Conditioning, and the others don't, will end up destroyed by the other two out of childish spite to bring him down. He cannot even hide it.
- May's repeated claims that Monkeys are the most dangerous animal in the world.
- One gag that is a consistent favorite is one of the presenters asking, "How hard can it be?" about the current challenge/crisis. The answer, as Hammond has confessed to outright, is usually, "Very", but it hasn't seemed to have stopped them. The only one that hasn't done it is the Stig, for obvious reasons.
- Gags that last a season and then are dropped without much warning. These usually appear in the "News" section of the episode.
- When something dangerous is about to happen, Clarkson saying "run away, run away!"
- Series 6: Voting Meat Loaf's song as the best driving song causes something bad.
- Series 11: Comedy updates from May on the forthcoming Dacia Sandero, and Clarkson saying "I went on the Internet and I found this..." The later would be an image that shocked and amused the studio audience, usually implied to be something from a shock site, but was unseen on TV. After the furor died down, the real image would be shown, with Clarkson saying, "but I also found this..."
- Series 12: "Are you wearing that for a bet?" and "Did you lose a bet?", referring to a piece of odd clothing being worn by one of the presentersnote .
- Also in Series 12, Clarkson mentioning the Dacia Sandero, occasionally to May's complete confusion.
- Series 14 and 15: Using "have a crisis" as an Unusual Euphemism for an orgasm.
- Series 15: More "Hey! Great news!" updates from May, this time on the Dacia Duster. In addition, the Stig's hatred of Rubens Barrichello, after he beat his lap time in the Suzuki Liana by one-tenth of a second.
- Gags pertaining to the specials: The presenters painting slogans on their own (or the others') cars; the presenters buying odd, useless, or unusual gifts for each other; a Credits Gag with the presenters and crew amusingly renamed; a penalty for breaking down in the form of a backup vehicle that no one wants to drive; and someone driving into the back of James May instead of braking. By Series 14, in the Bolivia Special, an irate James mentions that "it wasn't funny three series ago and it isn't funny now", and threatens to behead the next person who does it to him.
- Gags pertaining to specific cars or other vehicles.
- If a Morris Marina is seen on screen, you can bet harm will come to it before too long. This got lampshaded in Series 14, where Richard claimed that they got a Morris Marina that already had a piano dropped on it (really a Marina with a piano tied onto the roof) for a race. It then got a second piano dropped on it. Between this and James's pianos typically getting hit by a vehicle, don't expect them to last long either.
- This gag was subverted (sort of) in the The Worst Car in the History of the World DVD special - a Morris Marina is dropped onto a Fiat Panda.
- Caravans exist for the sole purpose of being destroyed violently. This is also true in the show.
- Cars entered in public races have fake sponsorship decals affixed to their sides in such a way that when the lettering is truncated by the opened door, it spells something amusing. (e.g. "Peniston Oils" becomes simply "Penis").
- The Kia "Cee-apostrophe-D".
- The Huayra - the successor to the Pagani Zonda - often being pronounced as incomprehensible gibberish due to having an odd spelling. Even when the car is roadtested in Series 19, it still isn't immune to the gag, although Hammond makes an effort to pronounce it "correctly" (going for a semi-phonetic hwai-ra) during the video.
- Gags pertaining to specific challenges.
- In the "Cheap Saloons In Germany" challenge, James May's choice of car has a "dog-leg" racing gearbox, meaning the positions of gears are switched round. This understandably causes some confusion as James May goes into reverse when he thinks he's in first gear. This happens throughout the challenge, and even the German Stig falls for it.
- Whenever they engage in camping (either with or without caravans) a fire is sure to follow soon. Later deliberately subverted in the River Nile special.
- Whenever Hammond has to drive very fast, in a straight line, on a runway you can be sure there will be a comment from one or both of the other presenters about how worried they are Hammond has to drive very fast, in a straight line, on a runway.
- There are many gags pertaining to the presenters themselves:
- Safe Driving Aesop: tends to play this for laughs.
- Just before one season, Richard shoots a segment where he drives a jet-powered dragster called the Vampire. Infamously, he crashed on a high speed run and ended up critically injured. When the (delayed) following season debuted, Jeremy opened by explaining what had happened and detailing the circumstances of the crash. Then he turns to a now recovered Richard and says "Thank you, Richard, for reminding us that speed kills."
- A later episode was shot to remind people that trying to beat a train to a crossing can be fatal. They demonstrate this by placing a van with a crash dummy inside on a crossing and having a train hit it. Jeremy shows footage of the wreckage and points out...that the dummy isn't wearing his reflective vest.
- Sand In My Eyes: James May after taking the Bugatti Veyron to its top speed of 253 mph.May: I'm pretty confident that is as fast as I'm ever gonna go in a car. Incredible. That is— It's made my eyes water.
- Sanity Slippage: Richard suffered a rather big one when he was stranded in the Canadian tundra and awaiting rescue from his cohorts... who were taking a rather relaxed attitude to getting there. After a couple of days he was building effigies of them out of sticks and giving them sarcastic dialogue about how useless they were. Another couple of days and he was throwing knives at them
- Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: The Stig's African cousin is said to have seen The Lion King 1,780 times.
- Scare Chord: When the Beetle was introduced in the Botswana Special, and whenever it showed up on screen.
- Scenery Porn:
- In the overseas episodes. The Vietnam special made particularly heavy use of this in the service of the feature's main objective: to show the country as more than "just that place where a war happened." The Polar Special also featured some truly stunning cinematography.
- Subverted in the Bolivia Special, which started with some very nice aerial shots, that Clarkson then admitted were from another show because the helicopter they hired had crashed. The presenters were then shown arriving at their start location in boat.
- Schmuck Bait:Hammond: This is the red naga chili. On the chili Richter scale, it measures just under one million heat units. You can't handle this with bare skin, you have to wear gloves. You don't chop it up and put it in your food, you just touch it against the ingredients and that's enough. This is your BMW Z4 M.
[pauses, then licks chili]
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Hammond during the Bolivia Special in response to the insect life and the snake in his car.
- Screw This, We're Outta Here:
- During the Alabama challenge, all the presenters, as well as the camera crew fled from a gas station after their car decorations pissed off the locals.
- While testing their new hovervan, the trio tried to stop off at a restaurant, but quickly changed their mind after the van's turbine caused havoc with the restaurant's outside tables and diners.
- The radio DJ challenge saw them getting angry calls from listeners, which lead to them putting on "MacArthur's Park" and then high-tailing it out of the studio.
- The Poles of all people do this in Top Ground Gear Force after Sir Steve Redgrave discovers what has been done to his garden.
- Seinfeldian Conversation: Pops up now and again, usually when the presenters are waiting for their challenge or Jeremy and Richard are waiting for Captain Slow. The best was in the lorry challenge, where they were discussing what Yorkie bars came out when. It can be rather culturally specific at times.
- May's first appearance on the revived Top GearMay: [on buying a used car from a "classic cars" magazine listing] Mind you, you'd have to be a complete idiot to buy one of those. [gets into an old Bentley T2] This one's mine.
- The show's motto of "Ambitious but Rubbish."
- Clarkson consistently refers to the show as "that poky little motoring programme on BBC2", especially when accepting awards.
- Reportedly, after Richard Hammond's accident, the first thing he said to Clarkson, from his hospital bed, was "Was I driving like a twat?"
- Producer Andy Wilman after winning the lawsuit brought on by the review of the Tesla Roadster:Andy Wilman: I am pleased that the appeal court has upheld the previous ruling and the case has been struck out. I'd also like to apologize to the judges for making them have to watch so much Top Gear.
- The Cool Wall has a rule that states that if any of the presenters own the car in question, it can never be cool. Ever. All other considerations be damned.
- May's first appearance on the revived Top Gear
- Separated by a Common Language: American viewers quickly learn that the British have different terms for a huge number of automotive topics. Starting with the cars themselves. It may take a while for Americans to realize that the guys are really talking about sedans when they say "saloon cars," station wagons when they say "estate cars," etc. Jeremy Clarkson has theorized that this trope is the primary reason why the U.S. is pretty much the only major international market in which Top Gear is not a huge mass-audience hit.
- Serendipitous Survival: The segment on the Vampire dragster was originally supposed to have James May driving it, but he was forced to pull out due to a scheduling conflict. Richard Hammond took his place and ended up having a very serious crash which resulted in the dragster hitting the ground upside-down. Hammond suffered a serious brain injury, but eventually made a full recovery. However, it's believed that May (who's significantly taller than Hammond) would have been decapitated if he'd been driving.
- Serendipitous Symphony: In an episode of Season 10 where the hosts attempt to produce a tribute to British Leyland, the various squeaks, rattles, clunks and other noises given off by their cars are cut together into a small musical number
- Serial Escalation:
- What unbelievably hard task can the producers set the three presenters this week?
- In the Botswana special, after Hammond has sunk his beloved Oliver, he returns with it in full working order. Clarkson remarks, "Is that technically possible?", to which Hammond cheerfully responds, "Probably not."
- Rubens Barrichello drove faster than the Stig!
- Then Sebastian Vettel beat Barrichello's time by three-tenths...then Lewis Hamilton came along and beat Vettel's time by over a second! (for those keeping score at home, that means Lewis Hamilton is 1.5 seconds faster than the Stig)*
- Serious Business: It is more or less established that, if necessary, the BBC will fend off any criticisms against any part of Top Gear, including Jeremy's category of Acceptable Targets, and bring their guns to bear against any party that threatens the integrity of the show. And with good reason, since Top Gear is one of their most successful television shows ever. The BBC actually sued a book publisher to try to stop them from publishing a book revealing The Stig's identity. They failed* . It took Clarkson punching a co-worker for the BBC to finally fire him.
- Sex Sells: Played for laughs on occasion:
- Clarkson's contribution to his and May's Volkswagen Scirocco ad was to put the attractive actress in a bikini. When told it was going to be a funeral scene, he clarified: "Black bikini."
- May called up a local model agency for the Alfa Romeo calendar challenge. They sent a man.May: I couldn't send him away, he was so excited...
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Arguably, the whole of the Mallorca classic car rally in Season 13, but particularly Hammond's car: a badly-broken 1953 Lanchester, which he tolerated only because he believed it was built by his grandfather. It wasn't.
- Another example with Hammond in Season 22. He heard that the Land Rover Discovery was going to be discontinued, so he wanted to pay tribute by recreating the famous dam climbing advert...with him in the Discovery. Scared out of his wits, he made it to the top only to discover that with the way it was hooked it could not drive onto the "summit" which forced him to go back down the same way he came up. And to rub salt on the wound, May tells him later on that the Discovery actually wasn't being discontinued at all, making the entire stunt completely pointless.
- Shaped Like Itself: Jeremy is quite fond of this. For example:Jeremy: This is the North... Where Northerners live.
- Shipper on Deck:
- Hammond and May jokingly ship Clarkson/Will Young.
- The kinds of things May imagines Clarkson and Hammond to be doing in the master suite of an American-style motorhome involve a traffic warden costume, handcuffs, and a ball gag.
- Oddly enough, talk show host and one-time Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car Jonathan Ross apparently ships Clarkson/Hammond.
- Shock Site: "I went on the internet this week, and I found this... Of course, they never show any of the images over the network, but Hammond, May, and the entire audience sees them. Some of them are unknown, but the only one that's certain Clarkson showed off was "Tailpipe Man". Rather tame under the standards of a shock site, but it's still a picture of an overweight man dressed in lingerie sticking his erect penis into the tailpipe of a car.
- Shooting Gallery: In the East Coast America special, the guys learn to do a drive-by shooting at one. Amusingly all the targets are shaped like the Stig, since it was shortly after the second Stig (Ben Collins) had published a book revealing he had been the Stig, in violation of his working contract.
- Shout-Out: The show makes too many to mention.
- This Dilbert strip introduces software legend Wolfgang with the following lines in riff on the Stig's Running Gag intro. It's Wally with a beard."Some say his talent is a genetic mutation. Others say that God speaks to him in UNIX. All we know is that he glows, and he never needs to eat."
- Timothy Zahn did the same in his book Cobra Gamble:"You can drive one of those vehicles?" Rashida asked, sounding doubtful.
"Sure," Jody said. "I mean, how hard can it be?"
- James May made one when one of the other two screwed up a challenge during their race against the German car show.Hammond: Oh, I'm gonna get grief for this now...
[Cuts to James and Jeremy, trackside. James presses the transmit button on the radio...]
May: Cooler. Eight veeks.
- Perhaps an unintended one but Clarkson seems to like using HEY! HEY! LISTEN! HEY! to get everyone's attention from time to time.
- During the snowplough challenge whenever something goes wrong meaning all the time:
- The Series 17 premiere, when Clarkson introduced guest star Alice Cooper:Clarkson: Ladies and gentlemen, we are not worthy.
- When Clarkson attempted to use explosives to blow up a condemned series of houses, which had the grand effect of knocking down a door.Hammond: You've only blown the bloody door off!
- The Stig farm could be seen as a homage to former-guest Harry Enfield's sketch "Clarkson Island" which featured a farmer raising a herd of Clarksons.
- The Where's Stig book has a UFO buried under the ice in the Arctic page.
- "That won't raise the pulse of either of the Stig's hearts."
- This was probably unintentional, but at one point in the Cross-London Race episode it is stated by Clarkson in narration that it's time for the Stig to get out of the Big Red Car (obviously referring to the bus the Stig was taking).
- This Dilbert strip introduces software legend Wolfgang with the following lines in riff on the Stig's Running Gag intro. It's Wally with a beard.
- Show Within a Show: "The Interceptors", their spoof of 1970's detective shows in tribute to the Jensen Interceptor. Much to everyone's lament, it only lasts for the opening credits.Hammond: Why don't we make that every week?
- Shrouded in Myth: The Stig, based on the Running Gag introductions almost every episode.
- Silent Credits: "The Big Send Off Special" (series 22, episode 8) ends this way; a fitting send-off had it not been for the continuity announcement (for the UK première of Odyssey) during it.
- A Simple Plan: Usually subverted — it always seems the team can devise an easy solution to the seemingly impossible task they are given, but with each of the three hosts vying to get his idea in first it never is. A source of several running gags. Exemplified by Clarkson's catchphrase: "How hard can it be?" Generally followed by Hammond shouting "Don't say that!"
- Skunk Stripe: May has the white-hair-at-the-temples variety.
- Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Very much on the "silly" side.
- Smug Snake:
- Jeremy Clarkson, in every sense. During one episode the studio audience actually booed his success at a task, a reaction which Hammond loved.
- The Clarkson / Simon Cowell interviews: battle of the Smug Snakes!
- And from Season 12:May: And now the news. And it's great news ladies and gentlemen, it's news to warm the hearts of nations. Jeremy Clarkson has lost his voice! [audience cheers and applauds]
- So Bad, It's Good: In-universe. James May wrote a column about how, while he does get a kick out of getting to drive incredible supercars, he's grown to love absolutely terrible cars and he said Clarkson agrees with him, because of the challenge, triumph, and nothing-left-to-lose freedom that comes from driving them.
- Something That Begins with "Boring": In the Polar Special. And again in the "Economy Run" episode.
- Sound-Effect Bleep: In order to keep the show suitable for its pre-watershed slot, most of the swearing is either bleeped, drowned out by a horn or car radio, or cut away from quickly.
- Only mildly subverted when James May, in a display of extreme irritation, checks to see if the show has gone beyond the watershed before proceeding to call Jeremy a fucking idiot, complete with a concerned Richard interrupting in case the timing's off.
- Spell My Name with a "The": The Stig.Clarkson: Some say that his first name really is "The".
- Spiked Wheels: Clarkson adds Boudicea spikes to his "improved" police interceptor in the police car challenge. It doesn't work out exactly as planned. It does take a wheel off...but from Clarkson's car.
- Spinoff Babies: Advertisements for Series 13 featured child versions of all four presenters, including a Li'l Stig. Adorable. Continuing in the commercials for Series 14.
- Spiritual Successor: The Grand Tour to the revamped series before the depatures of Clarkson, Hammond and May. Fifth Gear (named both after the then general top gear on UK cars and the Channel 5 network it aired on at the time) to the original format.
- Spoof Aesop: Especially when it comes to environmental matters or money saving. Usually in the form of a "Top Gear Top Tip". One of the best: the "American South" special, in which they traveled across the southern United States in cars purchased for no more than $1,000 US. Hammond nearly crashed into a river full of alligators due to bad brakes, they had an angry mob of rednecks chase them out of a gas station while throwing rocks at them and their film crew for having slogans such as "MAN-LOVE RULES OK" and "NASCAR sucks!" painted on their cars, and witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. This inspired them to donate their vehicles to local families, which then prompted a "lawyer" to threaten to sue them for misrepresentation because a researcher mistakenly claimed Jeremy's '89 Camaro was a '91 model, and also ever so kindly offered to drop the lawsuit for $20,000. They all learned a valuable lesson: Don't go to America.
- Spot of Tea: Often, and sometimes under the most outrageous circumstances (i.e. while floating in the Bay of Dover after one's amphibious vehicle has capsized.)May: Oops, sorry mate, the cup sank.
- Springtime for Hitler: Jeremy's efforts in the Blackpool economy race. Despite choosing a vehicle with fuel range well short of what was needed to reach the finish, and further, intentionally ignoring the economy part of the race for about half the length of it, he not only somehow made it to Blackpool, but on time as well, and only just behind Richard for first place.
- In-universe, when one presenter teases another with a little homoerotic subtext, expect to see the second person twisting in comical discomfort.Hammond: When we left the action, Jeremy was in the lead just approaching Doncaster, I was in second place and as you would expect Captain Slow was bringing up the rear...
Hammond: ...Hoping to take me from behind.
May: Yeah, alright.
Hammond: And then press home his advantage and take Jeremy in the tunnel...
May: Stop saying things like that!
- AndMay: I really enjoyed our day out together, Richard. It's not very often I get to take someone out for a nice dinner.
[camera switches to Hammond, who is now looking somewhat concerned]
- And on the caravan holiday, when the trio realize they are parked near a noisy and active train crossingMay: It's alright. It's romantic.
Hammond: Don't say things like that! I'm on the same bed as you!
- In-universe, when one presenter teases another with a little homoerotic subtext, expect to see the second person twisting in comical discomfort.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: The Chinese "Attack" Stig is fond of mixing these with a Groin Attack.
- A more hilarious take: James during their Cheap Alfa Romeos Challenge:
- Stealth Pun:
- The Stig and Richard Hammond fighting over the little trophy for the Golden Cock Award in 2009. Apparently Stig really likes the cock, though Hammond clearly wanted Stig to give him the cock.
- One of the modifications inflicted by Clarkson upon his Nissan for the English Channel challenge was to mount two foam-filled barrels on its sides to prevent capsizing. As in, anti-roll bar...rels.
- Stiff Upper Lip: All three presenters. Clarkson and Hammond can both keep up a steady narrative even in tense situations (i.e. driving through a shopping center being chased by a Corvette; sitting in a car slowly filling up with water), and May blends it with Deadpan Snarkery for comic effect.
- Straight Man: May. Paradoxically, he stands out compared to Hammond and Clarkson because they're so over-the-top and he's more low-key.
- Strongly Worded Letter: After James had a rant about calling a Bentley British because of the company being owned by VW, the car in question being styled by a Belgian and engineered by a German:Clarkson: James, are you presenting Top Gear or are you writing a letter to the ''Daily Telegraph''?
- Stuff Blowing Up:
- Almost every episode. In fact, it's noteworthy when they don't do it.
- Along with this gem:May: You can't have an explosion at a funeral!
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: Jeremy's got one.
- Surprisingly Good Vietnamese: In the Vietnam special, Clarkson actually learned enough Vietnamese to understand the oral driver's exam, and answer the question directed at him; the legal age required to get a full motorcycle license (the answer being 18). Predictably, Hammond and May were shocked.Clarkson: Did you not bother learning Vietnamese before you came here?
Hammond: Well, no!
Clarkson: You're screwed, then.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The white Stig (Ben Collins), replacing Perry McCarthy as the black Stig.
- Even more so with New White Stig (identity unknown) replacing Old White Stig (Ben Collins).
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:
- In one episode they had to get their cheap Alfa Romeos into a Concours d'Elegance competition. Hammond's Alfa died on the way there and since cars were only allowed to enter if they did so under their own power that was a bit of a problem. They snuck in under the eyes of the marshalls by driving their cars bumper to bumper, May towing Hammond's Alfa with the tow rope hidden under Clarkson's car. Hammond at least tried to come up with an excuse but Clarkson just couldn't be bothered...Hammond: We always travel together, so if you don't mind us sticking together, that would be kind...
Clarkson: No tow ropes here. Nothing to see here.
- In the Middle East special when the group leaves Damascus.Clarkson: As you can hear, I have mended my engine well... I mended it... it wasn't some Armenian in a shed working into the small hours.
- In one episode they had to get their cheap Alfa Romeos into a Concours d'Elegance competition. Hammond's Alfa died on the way there and since cars were only allowed to enter if they did so under their own power that was a bit of a problem. They snuck in under the eyes of the marshalls by driving their cars bumper to bumper, May towing Hammond's Alfa with the tow rope hidden under Clarkson's car. Hammond at least tried to come up with an excuse but Clarkson just couldn't be bothered...
- The Swear Jar: James May was subjected to one when reviewing an Alfa Romeo — not for profanity, but for cliche words and phrases like "passion" or "heart" which typically come up in reviews for Italian cars.
- Take Our Word for It: We don't see what Clarkson has found on the internet each week, only the response from the studio audience. At one point Jeremy joked that there's more to the internet than "Abi Titmuss's 'Lady Garden'" and those who have attended filming have confirmed that the unseen screen shows "particularly nasty porn".
- Take Over the World:
- Top Gear Live World Tour in 2008 started off with the three presenters driving over Tower Bridge in a tank.
- Top Gear Live World Tour in 2009 had promo pictures of the three presenters plus The Stig sitting around a map of the world - the kind that shows troop movements. I think you can see where this is going.
- Take That!:
- Series 22 is loaded with them against Argentina in the wake of the Patagonia Special, with the Chilean flag being shown at least once an episode and the presenters mercilessly mocking the flimsy excuses the Argentinean mob used to run them out of town.Margot Robbie: What's wrong with Argentina?
Will Smith: Yeah, what's wrong with Argentina? What happened?
Clarkson: Every f@#$ing thing!
- In the 2008 Christmas show, Clarkson joked about how lap footage would be improved by playing a CD of V8 engine noises as a Take That! to fan allegations that a lap soundtrack had been falsified earlier in the series.
- After Clarkson and Hammond have been discussing a campaign by the author Bill Bryson against needless roadside signs and clutter, and generally agreeing with the sentiment behind it, May launches into this fabulous rant:May: I think that man is a danger, frankly. If there is one thing I can't stand it's beardy, sanctimonious, patronising Americans in tartan trousers coming to England and trying to persuade us to turn into a museum. He wants the East End for the cheeky Cockney chaps pushing wheelbarrows full of eels and he wants northernists to be industrialists with big braces and blokes dying of consumption — Good morning Bill, I've got the consumption, it's tradition alright. I say Bill, if you're watching — OK, now you won't be watching because we're not talking about steam engines or longboats or bear-baiting — but IF you've happened to tune in by mistake: We're not interested in your views of stupid Americans who come over here with their big video cameras saying Gee, I love your history, it's just so old. SOD OFF!
- Cue a large round of applause - as much as the Brits like Bill, May touched a nerve there.
- In the Stig's first power lap of Series 15, the footage suddenly cut away halfway through to show some cars playing football, while Clarkson could still be heard narrating about how the Stig's car had exploded and crashed, and other incredibly exciting things were happening. This was a Take That! at ITV for their ill-timed Commercial Pop-Up during the HD broadcast of England's first game of the 2010 World Cup two weeks earlier.
- They also take potshots at the Toyota Prius practically nonstop, with one exception: during the SIARPC with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, after Diaz said she owned a Prius, Jeremy said he loved it.
- During the first of two 2010 Christmas specials, where all three literally took shots at the now fired Stig. All three used standees of the Stig as targets for a drive-by-shooting challenge. Richard actually took the time to flip the standees backwards so that he could shoot them in the back, like he apparently did to them... and where the other two used pistols, Jeremy used an assault rifle.
- In the 2012 series, after the presenters became annoyed at Audi placing their new car all over Moscow as part of an advertising campaign that blocked all the good views of Red Square, a Running Gag developed that involves an Audi being randomly parked in front of one of the presenters in the studio while they're trying to present the next segment.
- ITV infamously cutting off Adele at the Brit Awards was referenced by Clarkson not showing the end of one lap "because we let ITV record the footage for that one".
- The Vietnam special can be seen as almost one long Take That! against the Americans for the Vietnam War, highlighting that they spent years wrecking up a country that is both spectacularly beautiful and populated by people who are simply brilliant.
- Despite his driving skills The Stig is a Take That! towards racing drivers. The reason he doesn't speak is because they weren't able to find a racing driver capable of an intelligent thought or opinion.
- Some of the things that "some say" about the Stig include these — for example:that he'd been getting divorced from Paul McCartney he'd keep his stupid whining mouth shut.
that if he wrote you a letter of condolence he would at least get your name right.
while he has been known to leave his house in a bit of a hurry, he's never once hit a fire hydrant.
- Series 22 is loaded with them against Argentina in the wake of the Patagonia Special, with the Chilean flag being shown at least once an episode and the presenters mercilessly mocking the flimsy excuses the Argentinean mob used to run them out of town.
- Take That, Critics!: Clarkson again.
- In a far more personal and literal Take That!, Jeremy Clarkson once took a more direct route to redress from a newspaper that had defamed him. Eschewing a long and costly libel action, Clarkson walked up to the newspaper editor as he and his fellow-journalist mistress sat down to dinner in a swanky London hotel. Noting that the editor was doing for real what his newspaper had falsely accused Clarkson of doing - neglecting his wife in favour of a mistress - Jeremy addressed the double standard involved by punching the hapless hack out cold, laying him in a heap several feet away from his chair. This appears to have done nobody's career any harm, as the punchee Piers Morgan is now a TV presenter in his own right, and his bit on the side has advanced up the pecking order of the Guardian.... but Clarkson is right in that while his alleged affair became front-page news, newspapers become strangely protective and close-lipped when it involves one, or in this case two, of their own.note
- After making a particularly audacious joke on The One Show that those on a recent strike "should be taken out and shot in front of their families" which caused minor controversy, OFCOM cleared Clarkson of breaching regulations by stating that it was clear that he wasn't being serious. Clarkson then made fun of how overblown the incident had become in 18x06.Clarkson: I think if we need an adjudicator, I think OFCOM should do it, for they are most wise.
Hammond: Don't go there!
Clarkson: And you should be taken out and shot in front of your family, which it turns out, you can say on television!
Hammond: See, what you've done there Jeremy, is take your leg out of the bear trap... and turn around and stuck your head in, instead!
Clarkson: [winks at the camera]
- Talks Like a Simile:
- Clarkson yet again (also in his newspaper articles). The effect is amplified by the fact that many of them reference random subjects pulled out of nowhere apparently on the spur of the moment.Clarkson: It's an Audi! It weighs as much as the moon!
- When responding to another critic who has said car X is better than car YClarkson: Yes, in the same way that treading on a rusty nail is better than having sex with the entire sixth form of a girls' school!
- When comparing British vs American petrol on the performance of the Koenigsegg(igseggigsegg) CCX;Clarkson: 806 brake-horsepower! And that's on that limp-wristed, fairy liquid the Americans call "petrol"! If you run this on the more explosive jungle-juice we have here in Europe, you'll be getting 850 brake-horsepower!
- Lampshaded in one episode when he test drives a car while reading a book on hyperbole.
- Clarkson yet again (also in his newspaper articles). The effect is amplified by the fact that many of them reference random subjects pulled out of nowhere apparently on the spur of the moment.
- Tank Goodness:
- Clarkson, driving a Land Rover, tried evading a British Army Challenger 2 tank. And failed.
- Clarkson, Hammond and May rode in a "tank" over the Tower Bridge as a promotional stunt for Top Gear Live 2008. The press like the word "tank". It is actually an armoured personnel carrier.
- And then there's the Trojan:Clarkson: And, because it's part Tank, part Bulldozer, it's the king of... anywhere it damn well wants to go.
- When challenged to a knock-houses-down-off by a demolition team, they decided on ex-military vehicles. Although none were actually tanks per se, they were visually fairly similar. They were tempted to use some of the tanks, but ultimately went with support vehicles like Clarkson's deminer.
- One episode had Hammond driving a US Army M1A2 Abrams and shooting the main gun and machine guns on it.
- In the 80's hot hatch challenge, when Clarkson and Hammond were trying to catch May, they first resorted to a military-spec JCB, then a mine-clearing machine similar to the one used in the demolition-off, then finally an actual tank.
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That: During Simon Cowell's lap in Series 10, Episode 5.
- Team Pet: Top Gear Dog, a female Labradoodle owned by Hammond.
- Technician vs. Performer: The dynamic between German cars and British cars, respectively. German cars are magnificent pieces of mechanical engineering manufactured in laboratories and packed to the brim with fancy gadgets, but often criticised for being joyless and clinical. In complete contrast, British cars may not be the fastest or most reliable or most advanced things in the world, but what they are is lovingly built pieces of hand-craftsmanship that ooze charm.
- Technology Porn: Basically what the show is for, and what they do pretty much all the time, especially with the camera swooping over the glossy curves of expensive cars.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Rare is the co-operative Top Gear project that does not go this way. Perhaps the best example is the episode where the boys built their own Caterham.
The rare exception is are challenges where the three presenters team up to 'prove' that the production team's low opinion a certain type of car is unjustified - using Blatant Lies of course - in which they all effusively praise each other for their choice of cars.
- Tempting Fate:
- Whenever Clarkson sets his jaw, looks into the camera, and says, "How hard can it be?" Inevitably, Hilarity Ensues. For a while now they've been lampshading this by having Richard Hammond shout "Don't say that!" (or similar) when Clarkson says his Catchphrase.May: With the score at 2-1 to the Grosser, we were given the easiest challenge in the history of Top Gear.
- When at a car auction, James repeatedly rejects cars, claiming that not to worry, there are plenty more to choose from.Auctioneer: And now we come to the last lot!
- Clarkson when sewing a new roof for their homemade convertible;Clarkson: You never forget how to sew...
[five seconds later]
Clarkson: Damn and blast! I've sewn myself to the machine!
- In Series 21 Episode 1, when Clarkson in his hot hatch is being chased by Hammond and May in police cars, the latter two seem to disappear. Clarkson remarks that whatever it is they're trying to do, it won't work - his car is invinc- *BOOM* note
- Whenever Clarkson sets his jaw, looks into the camera, and says, "How hard can it be?" Inevitably, Hilarity Ensues. For a while now they've been lampshading this by having Richard Hammond shout "Don't say that!" (or similar) when Clarkson says his Catchphrase.
- Testosterone Poisoning: Clarkson's V8 Engine powered blender. And the "Manly V8 Smoothie" he concocted with it, which contains beef (with bones in it), peppers, bovril, Tabasco, and (for extra bite) a brick.Clarkson: That will put testes on your chest, that will.
Hammond: [in pain] It's put hairs on my eyeballs!!
- "Test Your Strength" Game: In Series 20, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond held an invitational 'Star in a Reasonably Priced Car' segment for the Vauxhall Astra, with a few features including an arcade punching machine. Boxer David Haye ended up going past 700, while Clarkson almost totaled himself attempting to punch with style.
- That Came Out Wrong:
Hammond: [gleefully riding a Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle] I am now straddling my boyhood hero! [Beat] No, no wait, that's not right, no.
- Often. Whether a given instance is genuine or just playing to the Rule of Funny is sometimes up for debate.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: In the "Polar Special," James May finally tells Jeremy Clarkson, "I'm so unspeakably outraged with you." Granted, this is after they have been in extreme cold digging a path through an ice boulder field for days and are both exhausted past the point of civility.
- That's No Moon!: The presenters looking down the giant sand dunes along the Chilean coast and suddenly realizing a) they're huge, and b) they'll have to drive down them.
- Theme Tune Cameo:
- Happens "accidentally" in the San Francisco to Bonneville Salt Flats episode: the Allman Brothers Band song "Jessica" (the Top Gear main theme song) comes on the radio while they're filming a 'factual' review of American muscle cars in America.May: [points at radio in complete bewilderment] I wasn't expecting to hear that.
Clarkson: On tonight's program... [chuckles]
- In the £1000 Police Car Challenge, Jeremy and James sing a "diddly-dee-dee" version of the Woody Woodpecker theme after wondering what it would be like to see a police officer bringing you bad news arrive in a Suzuki Vitara.
- Happens "accidentally" in the San Francisco to Bonneville Salt Flats episode: the Allman Brothers Band song "Jessica" (the Top Gear main theme song) comes on the radio while they're filming a 'factual' review of American muscle cars in America.
- There Are No Therapists: James May often falls afoul of the obsessive compulsive disorder he swears he doesn't have, spending more time naming and filing his tools than actually using them to complete a job.
- There Is a God!: Uttered by Jeremy Clarkson, when he draws the train and Richard Hammond draws the Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle for the Series 13 race to Edinburgh (Clarkson hates motorbikes). Pure Kayfabe, however, as all three presenters knew which vehicle they would get beforehand.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Clarkson starts off "The Worst Car In The World" episode with this.Clarkson: Things are about to get a bit... dreary. You'll find out in 3... 2... 1...
[camera changes to show May standing Behind the Black next to him. Clarkson droops his head and sighs]
- Tim Taylor Technology:
- Clarkson is a frequent advocate of this approach: for example, during the episode the team were challenged to build amphibious cars, he demanded to have his vehicle powered by two massive outboard motors, which would have given it half the horsepower of a Formula 1 racing car. And also enough weight on the back end that it'd have sunk right away - even the eventual one-engine version was only a couple inches out of the water.
- In another episode he fitted a large turbocharger to his car's engine for an endurance race, making it the fastest car there but only able to do one lap at a time before the engine overheated.
- Even Hammond got in on the act during Top Gear Ground Force, creating a barbecue out of a jet-engine, complete with a turbo-powered skewer for the chicken. It was a side-splitting epic failure.
- The V8 Blender and the V8 Rocking Chair, so old V8 engines won't go to waste.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: On occasion Top Gear allows humble vehicles to have a moment to shine. When James May traveled to Iceland to see the volcano erupting, he used the Toyota Hilux driven by the camera crew in the Polar Special, arguing that it too had been to the north pole but hadn't received the glory of its counterpart, which Clarkson and May drove.
- Time-Compression Montage:
- In episodes featuring long road trips or extensive work on a car. Sometimes spoofed by showing a series of clips that suggests the work of hours and then revealing that only a minute or two have passed.
- In series 18's 2nd episode, Richard Hammond was in America for NASCAR. With NASCAR races taking hundreds of laps and several hours long, a montage ensued after the race started, featuring various scenes including Hammond bringing tires to the pit stop. All with an appropriate "montage" song.
- Tongue on the Flagpole: Jeremy Clarkson during the Polar Challenge. In a variant, it was a metal hex nut he was holding with his mouth — but since he was standing on the polar ice north of Canada at the time, it had the same effect. He then proceeded to burn his mouth with hot coffee trying to get it off, before realising afterwards that the steam would have the same effect.
- The Stig sometimes appears on Clarkson's other car related shows.
- James May has appeared on Richard Hammond's series ''Should I Worry About...?'' in the 'drinking' segment.
- Tiff Needell (from the pre-2002 version of Top Gear and currently of ''Fifth Gear'') was the substitute Stig for one episode, and also appeared in ''James May's Toy Stories''.
- Totally Radical: In his usual wry and self-deprecating way, during May's review of the life-size FAB1.May: I'm not sure I really understand "bling," but I think this must be it. I mean, it's got 24-inch rims and blacked-out glass. It's... wicked.
[at the end of the review]
May: [in the car, throwing up a 'sign'] So I ask you... is I bling?
- Transatlantic Equivalent:
- The US version of Top Gear has premiered in the History Channel. It's got a race track (with different names), a Stig, three hosts, and only 40 minutes to do their gorgeously filmed thing in.Adam Ferrara: We could explain what Top Gear is, or you could watch this [awesome montage].
- The opening narration explained what Top Gear is not: no dancing, no makeovers, no cooking ...
- The US version of Top Gear has premiered in the History Channel. It's got a race track (with different names), a Stig, three hosts, and only 40 minutes to do their gorgeously filmed thing in.
- Trash the Set:
- Unintentionally. The barn storing the props for the show was destroyed by fire, probably arson. The Cool Wall was lost as was their furniture for the News segment. Series 10 featured the burned and melted remains of the Cool Wall as well as 'new' (i.e. second hand and ugly) furniture, and snarky comments that their rivals on Fifth Gear might have been the ones to set the blaze.
- The Caravan Holiday episode, where the caravan they were using is 'accidentally' set on fire at the end of the show. James May claims that it really did start by accident, but that they decided not to rush to put it out as it made for great television!
- Hammond even tried smothering it with a pillow, only for the pillow to catch fire, and threw it out the window. It landed on the tent of the neighbouring caravan, the same one May backed into earlier, setting it on fire. At least May didn't have to explain about damaging the tent (assuming it wasn't set up by the crew).
- During the news segment filmed closest to Christmas (and thus the end of that series), it's practically a tradition for the Christmas tree and/or the car-themed gifts to be destroyed in some way.
- Troll: Clarkson.
- Clarkson's insistence that racing drivers have very small brains and worthless opinions note leads to this remark about the Stig:Clarkson: We don't know its name, we really don't know its name, nobody knows its name, and we don't wanna know, 'cause it's a racing driver.
- Also, the slogans during the US Special.
- And his dozens and dozens of other targets.
- The comments about truck drivers got him into trouble:Clarkson: Change gear, change gear, change gear, check mirror, change gear, change gear, change gear, murder a prostitute, change gear. That's a lot of effort in a day.
- Not to mention;
- Burning the Morris Marina in the Communist Car challenge. After the backlash for it, they started destroying all Marinas that appear on camera.
- Clarkson's insistence that racing drivers have very small brains and worthless opinions note leads to this remark about the Stig:
- Troperiffic: Just look at the size of this page. Go on, look. We'll wait. And this only is a quarter of them.
- Trophy Room: After the show won an Emmy they kept it in a toilet in their offices, which are little more than portable cabins. The Top Gear set does have other 'trophies', such as the indestructible Toyota Hilux.
- True Companions: The presenters play up how horrible human beings can be towards one another when they're on camera, but they're only able to do so because they are very close friends in Real Life.
- When Richard returned to the show after his accident, the other two made several tasteless jokes about the potential results of brain injuries that resulted in Ofcom receiving numerous complaints about Jeremy and James' insensitivity. In reality, the two rushed to the hospital when they heard about the accident and made sure that Richard's wife took care of herself while Richard was in a coma.
- When the BBC opted not to renew Clarkson's contract after a fracas with a producer both Hammond and May also opted not to renew their own contracts, stating they didn't want to continue with the show without him.
- Two Decades Behind:
- Clarkson comments that as of 2012, the Italians have yet to discover an interesting little safety-feature.Clarkson: Look at this, it hasn't been invented in Italy yet... its called "a seatbelt".
- Clarkson and Hammond often accuse May of being stuck in the 1950's in terms of attitude and sensibilities. Averted in real life, though; while he appreciates what came before, May is quite fond of modern technology.
- Clarkson comments that as of 2012, the Italians have yet to discover an interesting little safety-feature.
- Two Gamers on a Couch: A conservative-leaning but self-deprecating and witty middle-aged men equivalent. And there's three of them.
- Unconventional Smoothie: The "Man's V8" from the V8 blender, which out of among other ingredients, also had bits of brick. Dubbed by May "The Bloody Awful"
- Any time you hear the phrase "That's not gone well."
- Jeremy, after testing the V8 blender: "I'm not sure this works."
- Another example:Hammond:Jeremy, how are you doing out there?
Clarkson: Not brilliantly.
[cut to Jeremy's car laying on its side]
- Unexplained Recovery: Lampshaded in the 'car for a 17-year-old' challenge, after Hammond rear-ended a car and Clarkson pronounced him dead.Hammond: Don't worry kids. I got better.
- Unflinching Faith in the Brakes: An element of some cheap-car challenges. Sometimes this faith is justified. Other times... not.
- Unfortunate Names:
- Peniston. Doesn't seem so bad on its own until strategic sign blocks and breaks make only the first part of the name show.
- Piddington. Clarkson uses the name of the town to describe those who drive people carriers. note
- Intercourse, Pennsylvania. Hammond wonders if there was a village named Foreplay they should have visited prior to encountering that particular sign...
- John Manlove, who owns Manlove Forensics, the company that they have used twice to check the forensic history of second-hand cars.
- Jezza, Uganda. Clarkson is pleased, the other two are quite dismayed. Especially as it leads to a lot of Homoerotic Subtext as the two start talking about entering or coming into Jezza.
- Samuel Chuffart. The three proceed to have great fun with the poor guy's name throughout the news segment.
- One Audi car designer mentioned on the news went by the name of Mick Dick; according to the presenters, his best friend was Billy Willy, his bosses were Bob Knob and Roger Todger, and he'd narrowly beaten a Scottish car designer named Jock Cock.
- Unfriendly Fire: May, manning a paintball-shooting "tank," opened fire on Clarkson's car during one of the D Motor crossover challengesHammond: James, what are you doing!?
May: Shooting at Jeremy.
Hammond: But he's on our side!
May: Yeah, but why wouldn't you?
Hammond: You're right, you would. Fire!
- Unit Confusion: In Series 15 Episode 3 May refers to a measurement as "an eighth of an inch, or three millimetres in Roman Catholic."
- Universal Driver's License:
- Played straight by driving unusual vehicles with little or no training (at least, no training shown to the audience.)
- Subverted in the historic cars segment, when Clarkson and May attempt to find the first car with the pedal set-up currently thought of as standard.
- Subverted during the tractor challenge, when May gave up after spending more than an hour just trying to figure out how to get his tractor into gear.
- Played for laughs in the Vietnam Special when Clarkson is hopeless on a Vespa. Later, it turns out that all three presenters have to take a motorcycle license exam when they crossed into North Vietnam, as their original licenses are invalid. Surprisingly, Clarkson was the only one who managed to get through the verbal portion of the exam in one try (he was the only one who took the time to learn basic Vietnamese).
- Un-person: The show has made a point of removing as many traces of Clarkson, Hammond, and May as possible. The lap times on the Power Lap Board have all been rewritten (to not show Clarkson's distinct handwriting) and the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car has been completely revamped into a rally course so that a brand new leaderboard could be made (once again, to not show Clarkson's handwriting).
- Unreliable Voiceover: The presenters' narration (especially Clarkson's) frequently contradicts events as seen on-screen. Played for humor.
- Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Only to be expected from Clarkson and Hammond, but even James May will do a smug victory dance.
- Unusual Euphemism: As Top Gear is a family-oriented show (to a point) broadcast before 9pm, the team often use these and have any cursing censored, visually and audibly.
- 'Crisis' has become Clarkson's go-to euphemism for orgasm over the last few series.
- In the episode where May and Hammond work as "Scootermen", allowing them to test a lot of people's cars (with the tipsy owner in the back). Hammond says he doesn't want to criticise their cars in front of them, so he'll use ambiguous condiment-related adjectives ("these brakes are a bit salty", "this steering is peppery") to describe those negative aspects. May then says this is cowardly and resolves to speak his mind... then in a Brick Joke near the end we hear him saying someone's car is "quite cranberry sauce".
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
- During the Middle East SpecialClarkson: [in a monotone voice] To showcase my brilliant idea, we stopped at an underground market which had a waterfall and a river in it.
- In the Snowbine Harvester challenge, Jeremy accidentally sets a man on fire using the flame thrower he attached. The man reacts to this remarkably calmly.
- During the Middle East Special
- Unusual User Interface: Older Citroëns have oddities such as single-spoked steering wheels and controls in unexpected places. When reviewing a newer one, Clarkson remarked that he wanted to be able to start it by licking the sun visor.
- Vanity License Plate:
- The modified Toyota Hilux used by Clarkson and May in the Polar Special had a TY07 HLX plate.
- May owns a Champion 8KCAB Decathlon light airplane with the registration number G-OCOK, though it has not appeared in the show
- Jeremy is accused of having one in the Patagonia special, reading H982 FKL, though it was actually the original license plate.
- Verbal Backspace: Often, usually as something falls to pieces or breaks.[while driving a rough-road course, with points lost if pieces of the car are shaken loose]
Clarkson: [having just lost a door] Still. I'd only lost one thing.
[a side mirror falls off]
Clarkson: Two things.
- Very Special Episode: The team will often contribute to televised charity fundraisers by changing their usual format and embarking on challenges completely outside their field of expertise to raise money, just for the hell of it.
- The best of these is probably Top Ground Gear Force, where the team's attempts at improving five-time Olympic medal winner Sir Steve Redgrave's garden went so horribly wrong it couldn't have been accidental.
- Runner-up: Top Gear of the Pops, where they asked McFly to write and perform a song that had to include words of their choice ("sofa","administration" and "Hyundai")... without the words "love", "baby" or "heart".
- Visual Pun: On occasion. For example: Hammond's review of three new hatchbacks ended with him in the Volkswagen Golf on a driving range.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: All three presenters, who can't resist making jabs at each other (and honestly, that's a large part of the attraction of the show). Occasionally borders on With Friends Like These.... Really, the only clue that the Top Gear presenters are genuinely fond of each other is that none of them has snapped and murdered the other two. Yet. May came damn close during the Bolivia Special, though.
- After May's injury in the 2010 Christmas special, the other two showed genuine concern for him. They might find him boring and at times terribly annoying, but they care about him really. At least, until he gets better.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: We're not actually shown Jeremy being sick during his test of the Prodrive P2's active differential system. Just a shot from the interior camera of him leaning out the door with the appropriate sound effects.
- Waiting Skeleton: Referenced in an episode; when recalling their biggest blunders of the past season, Jeremy recalls how after test driving a new car he left it in the care of 4 crew members who were supposed to bring the car back, only to realize much later that he forgot to give them the keys. He proceeds to tell the audience that if they want the car, it's probably still on the hill where he left it, guarded by 4 skeletons.
- Watch the Paint Job: Often averted.
- Several of the crap car challenges have the presenters "accidentally" rear-ending or banging their doors into one another's cars. James got particularly irate about this during the Alfa Romeo challenge on the way to the concourse, since his car did look rather good. He also gave the other two a serious warning about rear-ending his car during the South America trip. By "serious warning" we mean threatened with a machete.
- The kiddy car Hammond was hypnotised into thinking was a Porsche 911.
- May finally got his hands on a Dacia Sandero in the Romania episode... only for it to be utterly wrecked five minutes later when a truck driver "accidentally" backed into it.
- Despite the dangers of driving cross country through the spine of Africa, and despite Clarkson and May's best efforts in the lorry challenge episode, no harm has yet befallen Oliver.
- Played straight with Hammond's Dino... er...Ferrari that he bought for the "Italian Supercars Cheaper Than A Two Year Old Ford Mondeo" challenge, as after he lovingly restored it, it was damaged on the horrible BBC game show Petrolheads. He didn't react well. It's a good job this was before he "met" Oliver. If they had used his Opel for that, he probably would have become violent.
- The trio's homemade convertible, having survived the car wash fire in its first appearance, finally met its demise during the tractor challenge when it was fatally smashed by the Top Gear Production Office, which Hammond was dragging along with his tractor. Hammond gave an Oh, Crap! reaction, but Clarkson said that he had been meaning to destroy the convertible for several weeks, and thanked Hammond for saving him the job.
- Weaponized Car: The 'Turn A Car Into A Bond Car' segment in 01.05, as well as the Cheap Cop Car Challenge in series 11.
- We Win Because You Did Not: Attempted by Clarkson and Hammond after the race across London, when they realize how bad it looks that a bike (Hammond) and a boat (Clarkson) beat a car (May) travelling across the capital. Jeremy tries to rationalize a victory in that May should still be able to beat the Stig, who is using public transport, but it falls flat when the Stig shows up a little while later. And still beats May by twenty minutes.
- We Have Reserves: Jeremy Clarkson's attitude towards cameramen. And fellow presenters.
- Welcome Back, Traitor: Hammond riffs on this when Ben Collins (The Second Stig) returns to help train the disabled ex-servicemen getting ready for the Paris-Dakar Rally.Hammond: Don't tell him anything, he'll put it in a book!
- Wham Line:
- During the Middle East special: "You have landed in Iraq."
- During The Final Challenge in the Ukraine special:Clarkson: Your cars will each be given 23 litres of fuel, which because they're so economical should easily be enough for them to cover the hundred or so miles to your destination, a town near the border with Belarus. Your challenge is to run out of fuel before you get there. This is something you'll want to do, as the town in question is called... Chernobyl.
- What an Idiot!:
- Said in-universe by the producers and the Foreign Office after the trio crossed from relatively-peaceful Iraqi Kurdistan into the less peaceful South Turkey during the Middle East special (although the alternative, admittedly, was driving through the less-peaceful-than-either Mosul).
- Clarkson demonstrating a, er, potent mini-cab scented perfume... haphazardly:Clarkson: MY EYES!
Hammond: You cretin!
- During "The Perfect Road Trip" Hammond/Clarkson get a little carried away driving their Porsche 911/Aston Martin Vanquish respectively and end up leaving the more sensible speed-limit following production team behind. When they catch up, the two presenters are talking to several police over their speeding (Clarkson's newspaper collumn showed they were doing 87mph in a 56mph zone). The response? They had all the physical cash on them removed as well as their driving licenses THEN banned from driving in France for 3 months, cutting the intended end race of the show short. What's more, Clarkson has been fined for speeding in France before on the show.
- During the road trip through the American South, the producers challenge the trio to paint up their cars with phrases promoting gay marriage and disparaging pickups and then drive into a small Alabama town. Apparently, nobody told them that in those parts of the US, things like that CAN get you killed, and the trio end up running for their lives.
- What a Piece of Junk: Every now and then.
- For example, the rusty old Fort Transit body mounted on the chassis and powertrain of a Jaguar XJ220 that they used in a race against the Australians.
- The 1985 Jaguar XJ-S, which had all its excess weight stripped and fitted with nitrous.
- The Toyota Hilux they brought second-hand from a farmer had several hundred miles on the clock and its wheelarches were rusted half through. It then proceeded to survive being pummelled, drowned, lit on fire, dropped from a crane, driven through a shed and placed on the roof of a high-rise building that was subsequently demolished. After all that it was still (barely) capable of moving under its own power.
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Embodied in Clarkson's favorite phrase: "How hard can it be?"
- "What Do They Fear?" Episode: Bolivia Special: May is afraid of heights and has the worst time on the Yungas Road. Hammond is phobic toward insects and spends the entire time in the rainforest freaking out. Clarkson claimed he was only afraid of manual labour.
- What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?:
- The In-Universe reaction to Clarkson's "normal road test" of the Renault Twingo 133.Hammond: What was that? An acid trip?... Seriously, how much Night Nursenote did you take before you did that film?
- The anti-drunk driving PSA Bacardi asked them to show during Schumacher's interview. As Jeremy put it:Clarkson: Forgive me on this, forgive me. I have quite literally no idea what that's all about.
- Invoked by Jeremy when James May arrives in his "Salfa Rameoab" in the limo challenge.Clarkson: What kind of paint thinner were you sniffing when you thought of this?
- Invoked again by Hammond upon seeing Jeremy's The Great Escape style trolley system to reach the rear seats.Hammond: I though you [James] had sniffed thinners making that.
- The In-Universe reaction to Clarkson's "normal road test" of the Renault Twingo 133.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
- Richard Hammond says "I have several recurring nightmares. One in which I am presenting a radio show and can't work the desk, another in which I find myself on stage with a truly catastrophic band. I am only waiting now for Top Gear to make me run naked through a shopping centre on a Saturday and I will have completed the set."
- Jeremy hates motorcycles. This was a problem when they had the Vietnam roadtrip* .
- Hammond's fear of insects and May's fear of heights. Both of which are brought up in the Bolivia special.
- Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: In the Luxury Cars for an Albanian Mafia Hitman segment, Clarkson and May admire Soviet-era planes and submarines and reminisce about the Cold War, while Hammond is too young to see the appeal.
- Explored earlier in series 12: Did the Communists ever make a good car? Answer: No.
- Wild Mass Guessing: Done In-Universe by Hammond in the car art challenge after looking at a painting of a racing driver that looked disturbingly unhuman next to another slumped over in defeat; he claimed that the former, clearly an inhuman creature, had drained all the life from the unfortunate victim.
- Wild Take: Hammond in the Bolivia special, reacting to the wildlife in his vehicle and tent.
- Wiper Start:
- Hammond while hypnotised into believing he couldn't drive.
- May, after nearly half an hour of attempting to start a tractor.
- Again with May, during the 'Best Driving Road in the World' segment, when he cannot get his Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24 started at the end of a ferry trip.
- Clarkson does it with the Ferrari 458 Italia due to the control stalks for the indicators and wipers having been shifted to buttons on the steering wheel, which of course end up on the opposite side he's expecting once he's turned the wheel.
- Clarkson's mum does it while attempting to start a Peugeot 1007 during a test to see how user-friendly the car is to normal people who aren't car bores.
- Wire Dilemma: 19.05 has Clarkson and Hammond agree to remove the airbags from their car for the elderly (to avoid injuring them with the expanding bag), only to find that they need to cut one of two wires to defuse it. Nothing happened.
- Women Drivers: Averted. The team aren't averse to recommending what they would consider "a girl's car" if it's a whole lot of fun.
- Subversion. Sabine Schmitz, who Clarkson would replace Hammond with because she's a better driver, better looking, speaks better English and is taller. Sabine mocked Clarkson's 9:59 time around the Nürburgring in a diesel Jaguar with "I tell you something, I do that lap time in a van," and then hopped in the Jag to beat his time by over 45 seconds — without ever having driven that car before.
When the time came to do Clarkson's lap time in a van, Sabine came up just a bit short. Try as she might, she couldn't get the Ford Transit to do the lap any faster than 10:08, even though she'd stripped the van (by removing the hub caps, spare tyre, toolkit, and passenger seat, with Hammond still in it!) and attempted slipstreaming behind a Dodge Viper. Granted, they did supply her with a UK-spec right hand drive one.Clarkson: You said you were scared; was it dangerous?
Schmitz: Yes, it was really dangerous.
Hammond: You didn't tell me that; you said it was perfectly safe!
- Sailboat racer Ellen MacArthur, who held the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car lap record until the Liana was retired, despite having little applicable experience.
- Supermodel Jodie Kidd (who's also a part time racing driver) held the record for the faster star in the old reasonably priced car for some time. She notably beat Jay Kay of Jamiroquai, a picture of who's Ferrari Enzo appeard in later episode with the words "Jodie was faster." Later, in Clarkson's 2008 spinoff DVD special "Thriller" he stages a car chase with Jodie using a Mini One and a Fiat 500.
- Cameron Diaz was the fastest Star in a Reasonably Priced Car for the Kia Cee'd until Tom Cruise's time was announced. She allegedly also made Clarkson vomit after a ride with her in a Jaguar
- May's mother, during the test where the three presenters had their mothers test cars, averts this trope by being actually pretty fast driver and apparently plays it straight by James's admission that it's her quick driving that traumatized him as a child.
- Sienna Miller also held an impressive time on the score board.
- Subversion. Sabine Schmitz, who Clarkson would replace Hammond with because she's a better driver, better looking, speaks better English and is taller. Sabine mocked Clarkson's 9:59 time around the Nürburgring in a diesel Jaguar with "I tell you something, I do that lap time in a van," and then hopped in the Jag to beat his time by over 45 seconds — without ever having driven that car before.
- The World Is Just Awesome: Usually takes place during a road trip or special episode. Some examples:
- The three presenters looking at the sunset from the top of Kubu Island in Botswana.
- Looking down the Stelvio Pass during the 'best driving road' segment.
- Standing at the side of the road in Vietnam looking at the view of the valley.
- Most of the Nile River special consists of the trio marveling at the scenery.
- Worthy Opponent: While they still heckle her for being German, it's clear they have nothing but utter respect for Sabine Schmitz.
- Yandere: The Dodge SRT 10 according to Clarkson:Clarkson: On the one hand it's gentle and benign and concerned for your well being, but on the other hand it's an axe murderer.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: In the Val Thorens ice race, James May in the Morris Marina won the challenge. They exclaimed that they've saved the reputation of the Marina and their owners will be forever grateful... And then a piano falls on it.
- You Make Me Sic: After receiving a threatening letter from the Morris Marina Owners' Club calling for the presenters to be hanged, drawn and quartered ("or is that to good for them?"), Clarkson points out the word should be spelled "too."
- Zany Scheme: Half of what Clarkson does after saying "How hard can it be?"Hammond: Don't SAY THAT!!