Doing It for the Art: Gordon Ramsay truly suffered while this show was in production, suffering from food poisoning, ulcers, and constant indigestion due to all the bad (occasionally lethal) food he was being served. He would force himself to eat at least some of everything presented to him so that he could best understand what was going wrong in the kitchen.
Famous Ancestor: Or, rather, infamous. On the "Burger Kitchen" episode, it's mentioned repeatedly that the money to start the restaurant was inherited from owner Alan's father, about whom Alan also wrote a scathing book. His father was Abe Saffron, a notorious Australian 'crime boss' who made his money through ownership of strip clubs and was once accused of a high-profile murder.
Follow the Leader: At this point, it seems safe to say that Ramsay's show has created its own little genre:
Food Network's Restaurant: Impossible is point-for-point almost identical to this show, the only major difference being that Impossible is hosted by the much more compassionate but more overtly violent (and English) Robert Irvine.
Spike TV's Bar Rescue, where an expert bar manager comes to the aid of failing bars and does not hesitate to chew the owners or employees out. The real differences between that show and Kitchen Nightmares is that the host goes to bars rather than restaurants, the show emphasizes more of the science of what goes on to help improve the bar and its employees, and that he's American, not British.
Spike was the most prolific network when it came to these types of "rescue" shows.
Tattoo Rescue has tattoo expert Joey Tattoo and his cousin Sammy rescuing and renovating failing tattoo shops. Every episode there's a competition for the employees, and the winner gets a prize.
Car Lot Rescue has auto-dealership doctor Tom Stuker fixing up failing car dealerships.
Bravo's Tabatha Takes Over , where an expert hair salon owner aids failing beauty salons(though in latter seasons she also helped out other types of businesses). The eponymous Tabatha, though Australian rather than British, is similarly harsh.
Another Australian, cake and pastry expert Kerry Vincent, hosts the new Food Network series Save My Bakery, in which she visits failing bakeries across America and resuscitates them in a manner similar to Restaurant: Impossible, with the addition of a tea party about halfway through each episode in which she hashes out the establishment's problems with the owners.
Hotel Hell is a spin-off of Kitchen Nightmares, and also stars Gordon Ramsay, but it also follows both UK Channel 5's Hotel Inspector and The Travel Channel's Hotel Impossible.
Duane "Dog" Chapman and his wife Beth had a show named Dog and Beth: On the Hunt where they travelled the country fixing troubled bail bonding businesses. It ran for three seasons between 2013 and 2015.
Another Food Network series, Restaurant Stakeout, follows the Kitchen Nightmares format pretty closely, but uses hidden cameras (as opposed to the physical on-site presence of host/restaurant owner William Jack Degel). Another interesting difference is that Restaurant Stakeout almost always focuses on problems with the front of the house. As with Kitchen Nightmares, the owners invariably say "I know the problem isn't with the food." On Kitchen Nightmares, this is almost always incorrect; on Restaurant Stakeout, the statement is almost always taken at face value.
Yet another Food Network seriesMystery Diners. The show focuses more on sting operations and rooting out employees rather than judging the food. Also the shows are only around a half-hour instead of a whole hour. However the show is a lot more formulaic than the others.
TLC also gives us Buddy's Bakery Rescue (which appeared as an episode of Cake Boss called ''Bakery Boss''), which is similar to Save My Bakery, but it features Buddy of Cake Boss fame.
In Sweden there's a show called "Arga Snickaren" (transl. "Angry Carpenter"), which follows a similar format; Anders Öfvergård, the titular carpenter, visits family homes in which houses are either falling apart or the family have taken it upon themselves to renovate it, with horrible to mediocre results. He usually whips them into shape in a rude but honest manner and makes sure their home is built properly along with helping the family's collapsing relationship into staying intact. The show began in 2009 and is still going.
The Travel Channel gave us Resort Rescue which has hospitality expert Shane Green rescuing failing hotels and resorts.
Discovery Channel has had Garage Rehab since 2017. It has Richard Rawlings (from Fast N Loud) travelling to failing garages across the country in an effort to save them.
In the Burger Kitchen, the head chef was named David Blaine. Gordon was quick to point this out.
However, if you'll notice, the chef's jacket says "John David Blaine".
The Finn McCool's seen in season 1 is unrelated to various other Irish pubs of the same name in the US.
No Export for You: If you're in the US and want to watch the UK version, your options are limited as it's no longer available on demand. There are DVDs of series 1-4, series 5 and Great British Nightmare(which got split into two separate episodes in repeat airings and on digital platforms as opposed to the original 90 minute runtime) were only legally available on demand(though it's easy enough to find them on YouTube). The final UK series-Costa Del Nightmares was never officially released in the U.S. on any digital platforms, meaning U.S. viewers had to resort to piracy to see it. This may be due to the sheer amount of licensed music the UK version uses. Though they might often air the UK versions on BBC America if you're lucky to catch it.
Viral Marketing: Ramsay encourages events that will spread positive word of mouth for the restaurant, like food samples and community days. None have been more successful than the Campaign For Real Gravy, an attempt to appeal to an eccentric owner with a penchant for over-reduced sauces. The Campaign's website received tens of thousands of hits a month at its height.
What Could Have Been: In the UK series, the end-of-episode revisits weren't originally planned to involve Ramsay, and were meant to just feature interviews with the owner(s) and staff of the restaurants a month or so down the line, much like the ones added to the U.S. series from Season 3 onwards. However, Ramsay insisted on going back himself after hearing that Bonapartes' head chef Tim had lapsed back into his old ways, which led to all subsequent revisits on that show involving Ramsay himself.
Trivia pertaining to the episodes featuring Amy's Baking Company
Deleted Scene: In the "Revisited" episode, we are shown several scenes not included in the original episode that were cut for time.