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YMMV / The X Factor

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     British version 
  • Badass Decay:
    • Danyl Johnson did fairly well in the 2009 series, coming fourth overall, but it's fair to say that he never quite lived up to the promise of his initial audition.
    • Janet Devlin was considered to be the runaway favourite during the early stages of the 2011 series. However, her performances started to get worse as the series went on, eventually resulting in her falling apart spectacularly in the third-last week, and being voted off the show. Emily Middlemas from the 2016 series had a similar trajectory, but at least managed to make the semifinals.
    • Another notable example from the 2016 series is Caitlyn Vanbeck, a Kelly Clarkson soundalike who was one of the favorites to make the live shows, but flubbed the lyrics during her Judges' Houses performance and ended up missing out.
  • Bile Fascination: Might be the biggest reason why the audition rounds are the most popular segment of each series.
  • Creator's Pet:
    • Chico Slimani from Series 2 was the show's first major example of this, being obviously less vocally talented than pretty much every other finalist, yet constantly being saved from elimination, eventually culminating in Simon Cowell eliminating his own act (The Conway Sisters) in favour of Chico, who was in Sharon Osbourne's category.
      • The Conway Sisters were not exactly popular with the public either. They had been in the bottom two in both the previous two weeks, with the judges keeping them in over hot favourite Maria Lawson in the first showdown, and the popular Nicholas Dorsett in the second. The fact that they had worked with Louis Walsh's group Westlife increased the viewers anger.
    • Katie Waissel - She wound up in the bottom two for four consecutive weeks, amid accusations that the judges voting was rigged (i.e. When she had the fewest votes from the public, they voted to keep her in despite a poor performance in the sing-off; the next week, they voted to go to deadlock despite her clearly having the worst performance in the sing-off, because she didn't have the fewest public votes). This wasn't helped when the voting figures were released & matched up to these theories.
    • 2011 provided Misha B. This isn't to say that she was a bad singer, but her mentor Kelly Rowland clearly favored her over her other acts. It got worse after she lost public support following accusations of bullying and wound up in the bottom two on multiple occasions, but remained in the competition until the final few weeks; when the judges acknowledged that even if Misha got to the final, she didn't have the support of the fans & wouldn't win, so voted her out.
    • 2016 brought in Emily as many viewers seemed to have the impression that she is Simon's favorite. Not only that, she was criticised for lack of emotions or energy in her performance. Eventually, she was eliminated in the semi-final, finishing fourth when all except Simon voted to send Matt (who was more well-liked by fans than her) to the final.
  • Damsel Scrappy: Katie Waissel may have the biggest hatedom of any contestant ever, yet somehow she kept on getting saved...
  • Elimination Houdini: Katie Waissel survived the final showdown a record four times.
    • Ryan Lawrie survived the Bottom 3 three times and the fourth time he survived elimination was when he was in the bottom two. He was finally eliminated when in the bottom two against another notable Elimination Houdini from that season, Honey G, who is widely hated by most viewers for being overly gimmicky and arrogant, yet somehow managed to escape the Bottom 3 every single week up to that point. She eventually got eliminated a week after Ryan's elimination.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Gamu Nhengu seems to have become this if public reaction to her being booted out before the live shows is anything to go by.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With Strictly Come Dancing fans. In fact, both shows have a ratings battle.
  • Fridge Brilliance: The voting / disqualification system seems unfair. You vote for your favourite and the person with the least number of votes is disqualified. But since the votes are non-transferable you can't vote for your number 2, 3, 4, etc. so a contestant could get disqualified by being everyone's second favourite, while the most hated act could survive if they had a few eccentric voters. But while it's unfair on the contestants it's brilliance on the part of the show itself, as this system forces the best possible performances out of the contestants. i.e. if you want to stay in it, you'll have to rise above the rest in at least some people's opinion, as opposed to allowing them do enough to just not be the worst which could encourage more mediocre performances .
  • Glurge: Multiple Glurge acts will appear every season, and this is something the series detractors like to home in on. The majority of good acts will often tell their sad backstory on camera and how they absolutely have to win the competition, with equally glurgey music playing in the background. Usually, the sadder the story, the farther they get. Even though some acts actually have talent and don't need to do this.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Ariel Burdett's audition in 2008 was seen as one of the most hilariously awful ones in the show's history. Burdett was found dead with a stab wound 11 years later, reportedly suicide. It has also been said that her audition has "haunted her for years".
    • Louis and Tulisa's attacks on Misha B in the 2011 series became this after Misha B revealed she had suffered from PTSD as a result. This led to several other black female contestants on the show(including Rachel Adedeji and Gifty Louise, both victims of Shocking Elimination) revealing instances where they were mistreated by the producers and judges.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: In 2011, the judges decided to form several groups at the bootcamp stage from rejected soloists. When doing this, they told the hopefuls that being in a band could be better for them. One of the groups formed at this stage was Little Mix, who went on to win the series, and are still together (and still enjoying significant chart success) in 2020.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the series 7 Judge's Houses, Simon and Sinitta are talking about the groups they want to send to the finals, and when Sinitta mentions the superstar potential of one of the groups, Simon says "Not in a million, billion years!" and comments that "no one is going to put them on their bedroom wall." Fast forward two years, and millions of teenage girls in America, let alone the U.K., do have one of the groups in question on their walls.
    • Earlier that series: "All fingers are pointing in one direction."
    • Adding to the One Direction-related humor, Simon, after the attempt to use Leeds for an audition area (see Epic Fail on the main page), declared Yorkshire a musical wasteland. Two members of One Direction (Louis and Zayn) are from Yorkshire (Doncaster and Bradford, respectively).
    • From the beginning of X-Factor through every single season, there was the constant "boy bands are irrelevant, their time has passed". And while boy bands did not return (not unless you live in South Korea or Japan) the most successful act out of any version of the X-Factor was a boy band.
    • Seeing how quick Cheryl is to go to bat for Liam at his first audition... about 10 years before he became the father of her child.
  • Ho Yay: Johnny Robinson and Gary Barlow. So. Very. Much.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: For some people, the reason to really tune in aside from the audition rounds is to watch the judges (namely Simon vs. Cheryl) yell at each other.
  • Memetic Mutation: Katie Waissel, Cher Lloyd and Belle Amie have become British radio memes.
  • Misblamed: Arguably, Cheryl, over the whole Gamu Nhengu mess. While Cheryl picked up a lot of criticism for not putting her through to the live shows, it later turned out that Gamu wouldn't have been able to appear anyway, since she didn't have a visa that would have allowed her to stay in the UK during the live shows. Whether Cheryl really has been wrongly blamed for all of this depends on whether she (and/or the producers) knew this during the filming of the judges' houses.
    • However, this is sort of justified. Gamu was going to be deported to Zimbabwe, where there was going to be a significantly high chance she and her relatives would be killed by Mugabe's regime (Luckily, she managed to successfully appeal her deportation) because she was on the show.
    • Also the two acts that many blame for making it through in Gamu's place, namely Cher Lloyd and Katie Waissel. Leaving aside the fact that they didn't force Cheryl to put them through, no-one seems to have considered the possibility that it was Cheryl's third act, Rebecca Ferguson that made it through in place of Gamu.
    • Although, the problem people have with Cher Lloyd and Katie Waissel getting through to the live shows is more to do with the fact that neither of them actually sang at the judges house. Katie broke down crying and Cher had a sore throat, yet both of the got through over Gamu who gave a very good performance. People don't mind Rebecca getting through because she actually gave a full performance.
      • Cher at least deserved the benefit of the doubt since she had been one of the better singers at the initial auditions and Boot Camp. Katie on the other hand forgot her words at her initial audition, was unspectacular at Boot Camp, and forgot her words again at the judge's house.
  • Moe - 2009's winner Joe McElderry, who's been repeatedly described by the judges as "adorable", "cute" or "precious".
    Dannii Minogue: Oh! Those dimples! What more could a girl want?
  • More Popular Spin-Off: One Direction.
  • Narm: Rylan Clark's hysterical crying upon being told by Nicole that she was taking him through to the live shows in the 2012 series. There's even some corpsing from Dermot.
  • Never Live It Down: In the 2013 series, Paul Akister made it to judges' house and was passed over by Louis Walsh. He returned to the 2014 series and made it to the live shows under Mel B's category. Simon has constantly berated Louis at every opportunity he can get that eliminating Paul was a monumentally stupid decision, although Louis has defended that he felt Paul wasn't ready at the time.
    • Joe McElderry may have won in 2009, but the only thing he's really been known for ever since was the fact that he lost the Christmas Number 1 spot to Rage Against the Machine.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Christopher Maloney's performance of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" which had a backdrop of his face grinning, shooting lasers out of his eyes. Even the judges found it creepy.
  • Padding: The live finals oh so much, cutting out the ads and fast forwarding through all the talking for a 2h 30m show and you can get the run time down to about 25 minutes...
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: It's safe to say that many fans were more favourable towards Nicole as a judge in the UK version after having a very disastrous time as a judge in the US version (see The Scrappy in the US version).
  • Refuge in Audacity: the "Ablisa" duo are either an Epic Fail at attempting this trope or a cleverly-conceived deconstruction of the trope.
  • Replacement Scrappy: This is a trope that leads many fans to a Broken Base over which replacement was better or worse, the most notable examples for this includes Nick Grimshaw replacing Louis Walsh in series 12 (not helped by the fact that he's a base breaking presenter and Replacement Scrappy for Chris Moyles among longtime Radio 1 listeners) and Ayda Field replacing Nicole Scherzinger in series 15.
    • Among the notable aversions were Nicole Scherzinger (see Rescued from the Scrappy Heap) and Nile Rodgers, who temporarily replaced Robbie Williams during series 15 as Williams had previously scheduled tour commitments with several fans felt he was a better judge than Williams and have called for him becoming a permanent judge in series 16.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Series 6 third place finalist Stacey Solomon would go on to become a successful TV presenter in recent years.
    • Rylan Clark-Neal, who finished 5th in series 9 has become a prolific TV and radio presenter in the UK in recent years.
    • Ginny Lemon who made it through the bootcamp stages in series 13, would later take part in the UK version of RuPaul's Drag Race.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Part of the reason why the show has suffered in ratings since 2011 is due to several gimmicks being used in the seasons that drew the ire of fans, which began in series 9.
    • Series 9: The voting lines opening before the performances began.
    • Series 10-present: The Six-Seat Challenge, which many fans criticised as ripping off The Voice and eventually scrapped the popular Bootcamp stage.
    • Series 11 and 13: The flash vote, which took place at the end of each Saturday night show, where the voting lines opened for about eight minutes, and the act with the fewest votes faced the "sing-off" (formerly called the "final showdown") on Sunday. It was abandoned after the third live show, much to fans' relief, though it did return two series later in an altered fashion as it revealed the acts in the bottom three of the votes, and there was then a second round of 'flash votes' which lasted approximately four minutes, with voting only available via the official The X Factor mobile app. The act who topped this vote avoided the sing-off.
    • Series 13: The jukebox, in which a theme for each week would be selected via a wheel with some fans feeling it was too Game Show like. It didn't help that many viewers felt it was fixed on several occasions (for instance, the wheel just happened to select a "Halloween" theme for the last week of October).
  • Seasonal Rot: Many see the near-total overhaul of the panel in 2011 as the point where things started to go wrong for the show, with ratings dropping sharply (albeit still being pretty good overall), the show consistently getting beaten in the ratings by Strictly Come Dancing, and the press becoming overwhelmingly hostile toward the show rather than treating it as just a bit of goofy fun. Not to mention, it came off the back of the 2010 series, which was the show's highest rated season and the one that eventually spawned a worldwide musical phenomenon of its own. On top of that, the huge flop of I Can't Sing!, the 2014 musical based on the show, has been treated by many as a sign that the show's popularity is in terminal decline.
  • Shocking Elimination:
    • The show's first-ever elimination was an example of this — Roberta Howett was widely considered one of the better singers from the first series, but finished in the bottom two and was voted out that week.
    • Rachel Adedeji was the second-favourite (behind only Danyl Johnson) to win the 2009 series, but finished in the bottom two three times in the first four live shows, being finally eliminated on the third occasion. It's even more shocking when you consider that in the week when she didn't finish in the bottom two, she topped the public vote by a huge margin.
    • Arguably Lucie Jones the following week as well. Admittedly she had finished rock bottom in the public vote, but she was facing John and Edward, who many expected Simon to eliminate. Instead he decided to send it to deadlock, which resulted in Lucie's elimination.
    • No-one expected Rhydian to be beaten by Leon in 2007.
    • Also Aiden Grimshaw when he was in the bottom two with Katie Waissel. It was his first time in the bottom two and her fourth. It went to deadlock and Aiden went out. This one's perhaps less shocking in retrospect however, as many considered him to be one of the front-runners for most of the time he was on the show, but in actual fact the voting figures proved he was never ranked higher than 5th at any point in the contest.
    • One Direction counts as one from a retroactive standpoint.
    • The Risk's elimination left many surprised, as there's almost always a boyband who makes it far in the competition. Though they gave consistently strong performances, their constantly changing lineup alienated audiences, and they were eliminated ahead of Elimination Houdini acts such as Frankie Cocozza, Kitty Brucknell and Johnny Robinson.
    • Also from 2011, Craig Colton. He was a firm favorite to win right from his audition and made it all the way to the live shows where all of his performances were praised by the judges but one mediocre performance of the theme from Licence to Kill in week 7 and he was out. However, just like Aiden he was a front-runner but when the voting figures were released, they revealed that he never ranked higher than 3rd.
    • And again from 2011, Janet Devlin, while Craig was a favourite, Janet was the favourite. She had it all; the looks, the voice, the likeablity and if you were a teenage male, it was practically illegal not to have a crush on her. She was booked to win right from her audition and needless to say, soared through bootcamp and Judge's houses, making it to the live shows. She was fine at the start but quite a few eyebrows were raised in Week 3 (Rock Week) as she performed a low-key ballad version of "Sweet Child O' Mine" (Although she would later state that this was her favourite performance during her time on the show). More eyebrows were raised in Week 4 (Halloween Week) as she performed a frankly bizarre rendition of "Every Breath You Take" and the following week she forgot the words to "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5 in the middle of the song in a performance that she herself admits was a disaster. Weeks 6 & 7 were a return to form but she forgot her words again in Week 8 and that ultimately caused her to be eliminated that week. When the voting figures were released, it was revealed that she topped the public vote for the first five weeks which included her performances of "Sweet Child O' Mine","Every Breath You Take" and "I Want You Back" and even when she lost the top spot, she never fell farther than 4th.
    • In 2012, Ella Henderson who had been a frontrunner from the beginning because of her powerful voice and young age got eliminated in favor of another favorite, James Arthur while "joke act" Rylan and cheesy Christopher Maloney got voted to safety, surprising many.
      • Arguably popular group District 3 in that series as well, but the previous episode, but when they went up against the other Boy Band Union J after all of the judges had mentioned a "battle of the boybands" splitting the vote, you had to think something was up.
    • Seann Miley Moore was one of the best vocalists in the series 12 Live Shows, but was eliminated in Week 2 in favour of controversial contestant Mason Noise. Eventually, fans rejoiced when he was invited back to perform with fellow finalists in the 2016 arena tour.
    • Gifty Louise was seen as a favourite in the 2016 series, when in Halloween week, she was derided for singing a Fifth Harmony song that was mostly obscure for the second time in the series after doing so week 1 without trouble, but with some question from the judges, as it was widely seen as a front for Simon to promote his X Factor USA act, who have had a couple of major UK hits as well, one of which Gifty did in bootcamp. Still, no one expected her to be eliminated for the sake of Four of Diamonds, who were in their second sing off, and fans expressed outrage, with many wanting to boycott the show. In reality, Gifty never placed in the top six of the table in any of her 4 weeks despite her clear fanbase.
    • In the 2018 series, Shan Ako was seen as one of the favourites to go through the final, but no-one ever expected her to be eliminated via deadlock following a sing off with Acacia & Aaliyah after Ayda Field couldn't decide over which act deserved to stay in the competition. Many fans were very furious and even Shan's mentor Simon was unhappy with the results, thus he ultimately decided to change the original plan for the 2019 tour to allow the top 8 instead of the top 6 performing.
    • In the 2019 celebrity series, The Chase's Jenny Ryan became a fan favourite due to her rendition of Queen's "Somebody to Love" but did not make it to the live shows, leaving fans disappointed as a result. Ultimately subverted when the judges made a U-turn and she was ultimately reinstated to the live shows, expanding the number of finalists from 12 to 13 and eventually finished third.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Despite their complete inability to sing, Chico Slimani, Jedward, Wagner, Rylan Clark, Reggie and Bollie and Honey G all developed fandoms who could appreciate their somewhat unique talents.
    • Ablisa in the 2010 auditions. Though, that was more to do with the fact that they shouted at the crowd to shut up when they booed and one punched the other in the face.
    • Subverted with Goldie from the 2011 auditions. She had no ability to sing and largely depended on her stage antics and was surprisingly passed through to Judge's Houses. Louis became her mentor and put her through to the live shows but she withdrew from the competition as she suspected she was the token "novelty" act if she continued; she was then replaced by a more competent contestant.
    • Honey G in the 2016 series, though not a great rapper and has had flak for cultural appropriating hip-hop culture but she has had the support from the likes of Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and James Arthur, all of which have said they would be interested in collaborating with her.
  • The Scrappy: Every series has an unpopular contestant or two, usually because they get further in the competition than more talented counterparts. However, few contestants are as overwhelmingly disliked as Emily Nakanda and Frankie Cocozza, the only two contestants to date who actually got thrown off the show for behavioural reasons. Emily's bullying scandal made her pretty extreme Bitch in Sheep's Clothing (Emily was the youngest contestant in the live shows, and the editors had emphasised her battle with rare diseases), whilst Frankie was a major Elimination Houdini even before he was ejected, due to his offstage debauchery and several increasingly poor performances.
    • Out of the winners, Steve Brookstein definitely counts as this as Sharon criticised him during the first season and not only that, his attitude after the show such as making digs towards Cowell in addition to making fun of his late mother shortly after her passing in 2015 certainly hasn't repaired his reputation.
  • The Woobie: At a certain point during the 2010 series, Wagner got this treatment; despite being tone deaf and missing notes he has proven to be quite popular, even he is aware of his problems as he apologizes to the judges for it. However several scathing comments from fellow contestants and judges have made him more sympathetic to the audience.
    • Ryan Lawrie from the 2016 series just couldn't catch a break. Even if he wasn't the strongest when it came to vocals, he still enjoyed himself onstage and made genuine effort to improve as an artist and continue in the competition, but was constantly criticized by both the judges (especially Louis) and the viewers, which resulted in him being among the least voted five times, three of which he had to be saved by the lifeline vote.
  • Tearjerker: Cheryl Cole's friend Nikk Mager (who she met on Popstars: The Rivals) auditioned for Season 5, and Cheryl found herself unable to give a verdict on his performance. The other three judges felt Nikk wasn't good enough to make it through, leaving both Nikk and Cheryl devastated.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: A lot of viewers during the 2016 series were sure the producers would find a way to have Ryan Lawrie and Emily Middlemas in the sing-off together during the later stages of the competition for Rule of Drama. While Ryan did get eliminated in Week 7, it wasn't against Emily like so many were expecting, but rather against Honey G.
  • Too Sexy for This Timeslot: Khandi Rain from 2009, who were former strippers who wore Stripperiffic outfits, which Cheryl and Dannii criticised them for. While it's certainly true it wasn't helping them move on, getting criticised for Fanservice by someone who posed nude for Playboy is a bit rich.
    • The show got in trouble again for Christina Aguilera and Rihanna's performances on the 2010 final, both of whom appeared in what appeared to be their underwear and giving performances that were perhaps a tad overly-sexualised for a family audience, at least according to the tabloids.
      • In the classic British tabloid tradition of "Scenes that are too obscene and immoral to be shown - full pictures with close-ups inside!"
    • It happened yet again in 2016, this time for Little Mix's outfits (which weren't even all that racy) during their performance of "Shout Out to My Ex".
    • It happened again in 2019 for the Pussycat Dolls' outfits during their greatest hits medley of "Buttons", "When I Grow Up" and "Don't Cha" along with their new song "React".

     American version 
  • Award Snub: Surprisingly, the X-Factor wasn't nominated for the 2013 Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Reality Show, but Simon Cowell did win "Favorite Villain" - although his win probably was influenced more by his managing of One Direction than his actual role on the show.
  • Creator's Pet:
    • Marcus Canty was less liked than each of the three contestants he faced off against and won all three times.
    • Some feel Melanie Amaro was this as she randomly gained a Caribbean accent and then somehow vaulted to the top. To say Drew and Rachel Crow were more popular than her is an understatement.
  • Elimination Houdini: Marcus Canty has survived the final showdown three times in a row.
    • From season 2, there is Cece Frey, who was in the bottom 2 in 4 out of 6 live shows, and gets fairly consistent criticism (or compliments based on factors other than singing) from the judges, yet managed to finish in sixth place. Also, after the second time in the bottom, she chewed out the viewers, saying "I gave 110% last week, and you still put me in the bottom", showing a remarkable lack of gratitude for the votes she did get.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Shawn Armenta, the contestant that said "that's why you use autotune and I don't".
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: LA Reid didn't know the Demi Lovato song "Skyscraper" when Drew sang it. Now that Demi has joined him on the judging panel, this becomes funny.
    • Britney Spears talking down Shawn for saying "that's why you use autotune and I don't" to Demi Lovato can be amusing considering she also use autotune and especially since a raw version of "Alien" were leaked on the internet.
  • Memetic Mutation: "That's why you use autotube and I don't!", bonus points to Simon's gobsmacked reaction to it.
  • The Scrappy: Steve Jones, Nicole Scherzinger and for contestants Marcus Canty and possibly Astro
    • Khloe Kardashian in Season 2, but she was already one before joining the show. Mario Lopez hasn't fared much better.
  • Shocking Elimination: Drew and Astro's double elimination surprised quite a few people, as they were favorites to win the season among many.
    • Simon choosing Tiah Tolliver, Simone Battle, and to a lesser extent, Drew, over fan-favorites and early frontrunners such as Caitlin Koch, Jazzlyn Little, and Melanie Amaro (although Melanie was brought back as a wildcard contestant).
    • And only a week later, viewers got another shock, as Rachel Crow was eliminated in a deadlock decision, saving Marcus Canty for the third week in a row.
    • Vino Alan in season 2. Not so much because of his competition in the bottom 2 (Diamond White had been strong in the competition as well), but before his elimination, Vino had consistently landed in 3rd place for the votes. But one bad performance (due in large part to a bad song choice, which was also a substitution for his initial song choice less than a day before his performance), and he was sent packing.
  • Tear Jerker: One of Britney Spears' past collaborators, Don Phillips, auditioned for season 2, but was not very good, and was told no by all four judges, including Britney. The worst part was him in tears afterwards. Not because of him getting told no, but because he felt like he had "hurt Britney".
  • What The Hell, Casting Agency?: Khloe Kardashian as cohost. There are several ways to get viewers. This is a way to lose viewers.
    • Simon firing Cheryl from the show after only two episodes. Some of the reviewers felt that was a big misstep as Cheryl came off as fairly likable and one reviewer commented that she could have lent the show a more playful tone, especially since the accent barrier could have been a great running gag.


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