- Cash Cow Franchise: During the Turn of the Millennium Idol was known as "The Death Star" due to being so popular that any show going against it would inevitably be cancelled. That is until The New '10s hit, and since then, the show is a shell of the ratings powerhouse it once was.
- Channel Hop: After 15 seasons on FOX, ABC picked it up.
- In the UK, the show jumped ship from ITV2 to 5* for its 12th season, only for the latter to drop it partway during the next season. No UK channel aired its 14th season, though 4Music aired season 15 and after being revived by ABC, the show now airs on Prime Video in the nation from season 16 onwards.
- Dueling Shows:
- While already in a duel with Dancing with the Stars, Idol seems primed for the second internal duel within the Fox network, going up against The X Factor. Ultimately, X Factor USA was cancelled in 2013 after 3 seasons while American Idol continued until 2016. Idol is also dueling NBC's similar show The Voice. The voice has completed 15 seasons and is airing it's 16th (with Idol alumnus Kelly Clarkson has a coach since season 14). American Idol ended in 2016 after 15 seasons but was revived in 2018 and thus reigniting the duel.
- During Idol's third season, CBS brought back Star Search to compete against it. This effort proved short lived as the revival lasted one year.
- Follow the Leader: Ever since Jennifer Hudson's success, almost every heavy-set girl who auditions feels the need to give a horrid, eardrum-popping rendition of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going". Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you like that sort of thing), these girls do not sing like Jennifer Hudson.
- Defied by Malaya Watson in season 13, who, for cinema week, sang Dreamgirls, but sang "I Am Changing" instead.
- No Export for You: The UK's 5* dropped the show part way through season 13.
- One-Hit Wonder: With a few exceptions (most notably Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Adam Lambert and to a lesser extend Kellie Pickler, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina), the careers of most American Idol contestants wind up being like this.
- Jennifer Hudson is a special case. Not only is she a One-Hit Wonder as a singer, but also as an actress as Dreamgirls was her only role of note. However, her role in Dreamgirls netted her an Oscar on top of a boatload of other awards, and she stepped out of the limelight afterwards because her mother, brother, and nephew were brutally murdered. She performed at the Grammys, the Super Bowl, and the White House later on, appeared on a TV show and in a few movies, and received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013.
- Katharine McPhee is a notable subversion: She made quite a name for herself in acting after her music career lost steam, most notably a starring role in Smash and Scorpion.
- Most of them are actually happy about only having one or two hits, because it nets them a sizable fanbase and enough money to live comfortably (without a day job) while still making music.
- The Pete Best: Brian Dunkelman, if only you'd had a crystal ball... He co-hosted the first season but then left the show (reports seem to suggest he would have been fired if he didn't) before the show reached the peak of popularity which was when Ryan started to take sole hosting duties.
- Un-Cancelled: ABC revived the series after FOX cancelled it.
Trivia / American Idol