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  • The Napoleon: At 5'7", Hammond is nearly a foot shorter than Clarkson and is probably the most pugnacious and thrill seeking of the three.
    • Which despite the short-jokes, is actually a rather average height. May and Clarkson (in particular) just are very tall.
  • National Stereotypes: All the time, especially employed by Clarkson and May. No-one really escapes. Some are classic ones while others specifically apply to the kind of cars different countries produce. In rough order of how often they are brought up:
    • Germans are humourless and obsessed with technological superiority and mechanical perfection. The cars they produce reflect that. Their culture is stuck in The Seventies. According to Clarkson, they are also 'still looking wistfully at Poland'.
    • Americans are loud, fat warmongers with no sense of taste either literal or metaphorical. They eat vast amounts of processed cheese and love the colour orange. The cars they make tend to be very simple but powerful, and often fun, but can't go around corners. Americans get so much vitriol that Clarkson sometimes adds a Pet the Dog afterthought such as 'but they did invent the Space Shuttle'.
      • Clarkson also likes American cars (good ones, anyway). He just thinks the people are somewhat crazy.
    • The French are supreme in culture and cuisine and have a beautiful country, but are perpetually on strike or rioting and slightly xenophobic towards America and Britain. Their cars tend to disintegrate over time, especially the trim.
    • Italians are boisterous, emotional artistic types who wave their arms about constantly and their country has some of the best driving roads. Their cars tend to be pretty, fast and fun, even the small cheap ones, but have a tendency to be unreliable.

  Clarkson (in an article): Italy works like this. The people allow the government to make as many laws as it wants, so long as nobody has to obey them.

    • Britain is a totalitarian, Orwellian dictatorship run by an interfering nanny-state government and the Health and Safety Executive, which serve to hold back a population that used to produce engineering marvels. The presenters will often say things like 'when this used to be a free country...'

  Clarkson (about a racing team in South Yorkshire): We're not having any of that poncey aluminium in our bodywork, we're making it out of good Sheffield steel!

    • The Japanese are mostly the same stereotype as the Germans, but their wackiness and electronic-tuning-boy-racer subculture are sometimes referenced, as is Japanese Ranguage.

  Clarkson: The people at Nissan asked us if the Stig could do a rap in the car, and we said "No, he likes easy listening. Oh, a lap!"

    • The Finns are a race of quietly Crazy Awesome Neat Freak Badass Drivers.
    • The Australians are loud, brash and uncultured, and their country is inhabited chiefly by deadly animals and plants.
    • The Swiss hate the car and do everything in their power to punish drivers and force people to use public transport.
    • The Spanish devote themselves to animal cruelty.
    • The Koreans eat dogs and build cheap and nasty cars. Ditto Malaysia.
    • The Dutch are cheerful, crazy omnisexuals on drugs.
    • The Mexicans are lazy and do nothing except sleep all day.
      • They actually got into a bit of trouble with this one in 2011, with the BBC World News channel (which Top Gear does not air on) being yanked from Mexican cable in protest of Clarkson and Hammond taking this trope a bit too close to the line.
      • The news section of the episode in which Clarkson and Hammond rag on Mexico was cut by BBC America who, ironically, had just begun to proudly advertise that they now show Top Gear as it airs in Britian, only with commercial injected every so often and resulting in a 90 minute time slot, instead of cutting out 15 minutes of the show.
      • It actually resulted in a bit of an international incident as the Mexican ambassador to the UK, and the Mexican Congress, demanded an official apology from the British government (as the BBC is sponsored by the State.) Top Gear's producers ended up issuing a half-hearted "apology" (i.e. "This is our brand of humor, we're sorry you took it the wrong way.") However, what was once a niche show known only to cable subscribers and hardcore car enthusiasts, suddenly became a household name due to the national controversy.
      • The controversy became a running gag in the India Special, when Parliament supposedly suggested instead of India, they go to Mexico to apologise and Hammond suddenly had a very guilty look. Taken even further with Hammond's Oh Crap moment when Clarkson informs him he accidentally coloured his Mini with the flag of Mexico.
    • Albanians all drive stolen cars, and most of them are older Mercedes.
    • Subverted in the Vietnam special, where the team show nothing but respect to the Vietnamese and are naturally horrified that the bogey-prize motorbike is emblazoned with the Star-Spangled Banner and is set to play "Born in the USA". It was a great big serving of Vietnam Scenery Porn, with Take That jokes aimed at the Americans.
  • Neat Freak: James May, to the point of quite possibly having OCD.

 May: The only thing I keep in my car is a little paintbrush for cleaning dust out of the switches.

Hammond: You're scaring me, mate...

May: And I always like to have the air vents lined up so they're really completely symmetrical.

  • Never Live It Down: Invoked.
    • Hammond will never let Clarkson get over his rather enthusiastic interview with Will Young.
    • It's not as if Hammond will live down his accident, either. Despite promising to never mention it again, it does crop up from time to time. Hammond even does it to himself, saying at one point in their news item, "can I please not be the one to try it?" when talking about some absurdly powerful car that was just being released at the time. Entertainment journalists don't seem to want to let Hammond forget it, either, since they've mentioned it in practically every article written about Hammond since.
    • Hammond's infamous shout of "I am a driving god!"
  • Never My Fault: Often. Particularly by Clarkson or Hammond, usually in challenges where they must cooperate on something.
  • News Parody: Almost every episode has a humourous 'car news' segment, which often goes off on odd tangents such as alternate uses for tampons, the price of bull sperm, ridiculous road signs, viewer complaints and more - always done with a healthy dose of the presenters mocking each other.
  • The Nicknamer: Clarkson.
  • Nitro Boost:

 Clarkson: Why don't we use nitrous?

Hammond: Do you remember what happened to the first Stig?

Clarkson: He fell off an aircraft carrier.

Hammond: Because?

Clarkson: ..yeah, we used nitrous.

  • Noble Bigot: Clarkson in particular has made many homophobic and racial remarks on the show, he's also a patron for the charity Help For Heroes.
  • "No. Just... No" Reaction: Word for word from Clarkson when May claims his car/dinghy 2.0 can do twenty knots.
  • Non Sequitur Distraction: This is a stock gag on this show, Jeremy Clarkson (and occasionally Richard Hammond) going off on a long-winded, over-the-top rant at one of the others (usually James May), at the end of which May will react to only one small part of the entire rant.
  • Noodle Implements: Subverted in the South America special in Season 14, when the producers give the lads a box containing a chainsaw, a couple of winches, rubber tubing, condoms, tampons, petroleum jelly, and Viagra. ("I know we're going to be in the jungle a bit together, but that's a bit extreme." "What kind of party are they planning?") As they head for the coast, the actual incidents requiring each of these are shown[1].
  • Noodle Incident: During the season 10 episode 1 news segment, the presenters are talking about multi-tasking whilst driving. James starts to explain that he'd seen Jeremy multi-task, before being told by Hammond that he couldn't really talk about it on TV. We're not told what it is, but Jeremy says its not in the Highway Code.
  • No Sense of Direction: James May. He had claimed that he has an electrical imbalance in his brain which causes him to visualize Britain upside-down.
    • He's recently received another nickname because of this; Captain Sense-of-Direction.
  • Nostalgia Filter: May did a segment in which he drove around and reviewed his bedroom poster hero, the Lamborghini Countach, and found that its merits consisted of a good engine note and good looks... and nothing else whatsoever, since shifting gears required a hammer for the shifter and a companion to help depress the clutch, it was impossible to see out of, and impossible to parallel park -- except for a technique apparently developed by Lamborghini test drivers, which Clarkson demonstrated, that involved sitting on the door sill and driving while not actually inside the car.

    This is Hilarious in Hindsight: Clarkson had done a piece three years previously on the Countach, in which he discovered pretty much exactly what May had to suffer through. Either he didn't warn May beforehand, or put him up to it deliberately. Also, Clarkson apparently thinks elephants are "nice to look at" in the same way a Countach is.
  • Not a Scratch on It:
    • The presenters did a two week feature to see how durable the Toyota Hilux pickup truck is[2]. In the first week, Clarkson drove it down a staircase, rammed it into a tree, drove it down to the low water mark of the Bristol Channel's ten meter[3] tides and left it there (it actually broke loose from the moorings that were supposed to hold it on the jetty; they didn't find it until the tide went out -- six hours later -- half buried in the silt and sand), dropped it from a crane, drove it through a modular building, dropped a caravan on it, swung a wrecking ball at it and -- finally -- set it on fire. The next week, May set it atop a tower of flats several hundred feet high... which was scheduled for demolition. It went down with the building and had to be pulled off the debris pile. And it still started.

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

      James May then took the Hilux that had been used by the camera crew in the Polar Special, had it further modified, and drove it to the rim of the erupting volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. May and the camera crew had left the volcano just hours before it really blew its top, shutting down air traffic over much of the Atlantic and Europe, in April of 2010.
    • Richard Hammond complained to Jonathan Ross during an interview that he was disappointed he had no cool scars resulting from his near fatal crash.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now: "How hard can it be?" Hilarity Ensues.
    • Lampshaded by Hammond on returning from his crash: "Oh, how I've missed the pang of dread I feel whenever you mention the words 'How hard can it be'!"
  • Not So Above It All: James May, at times.
  • Not This One, That One: The tow car for the caravan holiday is a shiny! sexy! Lotus E-.... er, no, it's a Kia.
    • Wow, Jeremy did an amazing job creating the body of their completely custom electric car, it actually looks like a real-- oh... no....
  • The Obi-Wan: Sir Jackie Stewart and Mika Hakkinen have both given James May lessons on how to drive "properly." May explicitly compared both of them to Yoda in their respective sequences.
  • Obi-Wan Moment: By his own admission, Hammond had one just before his near-fatal jet car crash.
  • Off the Rails: At least Once an Episode, usually during the News.
  • Oh Crap: "Oh Cock": On occasion, during the challenges.
    • During the £100-car challenge, after Clarkson opens the envelope on the final challenge: crashing on purpose.
    • In the second amphibious car challenge, when Clarkson opens the golden challenge envelope and discovers they'll have to cross the English Channel.

 Clarkson: Mine won't do that!

It did, being the only one of the three not to sink

 May: Hammond! Jump leads!

Hammond: ...You're joking.

    • And when Clarkson discovered that the Vietnam challenge meant driving the length of the country... on motorbikes.
    • During the motorhome challenge, when Clarkson notices that a large lorry is about to drive past his own very tall and very unstable motorhome.
    • At the beginning of the Middle East Special. "You have landed in Iraq..."
      • Followed later in the same special by a challenge envelope delivered after they enter Turkey, and are happy about being "safe".

 Letter: You idiots. You have just left a region [Kurdistan] where there is no war and entered a region where there IS war...

    • Clarkson has one in whilst driving a Sportscar-train, happily declaring that he's travelling at nearly 80 and then realising there's a very large parked Diesel in front of him, causing him to slam on the brakes.
    • One from the Bolivia challenge that leaves the trio speachless.

  "Between La Paz and the Pacific Ocean, there is the Altiplano where the altitude will cause you to have a pulmonary oedema. Then there's the Andes where you'll have a cerebral oedema, and then the Atacama, which is 50 times drier than Death Valley. It has never rained. It's the driest place on Earth and there is no life, not even bacteria." (beat)

    • During the Botswana challenge (driving across the entire country in cars), the Vice President hears about the challenge and goes to give his regards to the hosts because such a thing has never been attempted before. He then sees the cars they plan to use.

  Richard Hammond: You were smiling, you've just stopped...

    • Hammond, James, and Clarkson had to drive through a wild animal sanctuary in their home made not very reliable convertible van. before they went through the lion part, the gang found out that the lions had not eaten in two days.
  • Old Shame: Out of universe. American viewers found the cast (and crew)'s run-in with Alabama hillbillies very embarassing.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The music that accompanies the appearance of the VW Beetle in an episode set in Africa, the car one of them will have to drive if their own breaks down and can't be repaired. Ironically, the VW ends up doing better than the other three cars in the challenge.
    • Also, in the first episode of Season 8, when they introduce their new Reasonably Priced Car, and have several old and new celebrities drop by to set up a starting scoreboard. Jimmy Carr is introduced as 'The Prince of Darkness', and every time the camera cuts to him, or his driving, Ominous Latin Chanting!
  • One for Sorrow, Two For Joy: The presenters once discussed how dangerous magpies are for drivers because of having to do the superstition whenever you see one. The only problem being that each of the presenters have a different idea of what the superstition should be. Hammond's version of it has to be seen to be believed.
  • One Head Taller: Jeremy to Richard. Demonstrated perfectly during a Christmas-time episode, where the show opens up on a close shot of Jeremy's face as he introduces their "Christmas elf," when the camera pans back to show Richard standing directly in front of Jeremy.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: All we know is... he's called The Stig. Because...some say his first name really is "The".
  • OOC Is Serious Business: When the presenters and crew are chased out of a small Alabama town, the seriousness of the situation is brought home for the viewer when Clarkson is polite to the gathering mob in an attempt to defuse things.
  • Oop North: Locations in the north of England are featured fairly regularly. This probably has to do with Author Appeal, since Clarkson was born in Doncaster, May lived in Rotherham for most of his early years, and Richard Hammond's early journalistic days were spent working for the BBC's radio station in York.

    In the Polar Special, May and Clarkson pointed out they were the most northern people in the world...apart from chat host Michael Parkinson.
  • Overdrive: The Britcar 24-hour endurance race.
  • Overly Long Gag: The special gearbox on a new Porsche Boxster Spyder. Hammond has to spell it out because he claims he cannot pronounce it.

 Hammond: [slowly and with intense concentration] It's a Dee oh pee pee ee ell. Kay. You. Pee pee. Ell. You. En gee. Ess. Gee. Ee. [with finality] Tee. [beat] Ar. [beat] Ii ee. [beat] Bee. [lengthy beat] Ee.

[the word "Doppelkupplungsgetriebe" appears on the screen]

    • "Dual Clutch Gearbox" is actually not much shorter, though.
    • When the Lancia Hawk Stratos kit car did an incredibly slow time around the track in Series 14, Hammond and May joked that if Clarkson had been the one to build the car it still wouldn't have made it around the track by now...or now...or now. This ribbing continued all through Clarkson's closing monologue and the end credits.
    • Also the name of the Koenigsegg CCX as it appears two times on the Power Lap Board: Koenigseggisseggggnignigsegigisegggg CCX and Koenigseggisseggggnignigsegigisegggg CCX with Top Gear wing, both complete with a much longer magnetic label strip than the all other cars, because nobody could spell the car's name.
    • On one of the end of year award shows the the Nominees in one category were Ken Livingstone, Ken Livingstone and Ken Livingstone.
    • When Clarkson and Hammond participated in the shooting of a car chase sequence in the film version of The Sweeney, Clarkson insisted that the movie's dialogue should acknowledge the fact that turning off traction control in the Jaguar used by some Fake Serbian baddies requires a button to be pressed and held in for ten seconds. Their cut of the car chase sequence paused to include an uninterrupted shot of this action taking place.
  • Overly Long Name: The names of some of the Chinese cars Clarkson and May examine in series 18 episode 2, lampshaded by Clarkson.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: In the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" segment, Jeremy will often find some specific category for the guest that makes their achievement sound more impressive, such as "fastest Welshman (Rob Brydon)" or "fastest man with a bus pass (Roger Daltrey)".
    • James May is the first man to go to the North Pole who didn't want to go.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: On a couple occasions the presenters have tried to pass off The Stig as James May. No one finds this convincing.

 May: Some say: he has a stripey shirt, just like mine...

    • May tied his hair back and wore a gaffer tape mustache to pretend to be an 'independent test driver' for their homemade electric car.
    • A stripey shirt and careful camera angles were also used by May in an attempt to persuade the viewer that a car was being driven by him when it was in fact being driven by Tiff Needell of Fifth Gear.
  • Le Parkour: In one of the challenges James May, in a car, races two traceurs. And gets beaten like a red-headed stepchild.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Jeremy Clarkson's general attitude to car maintenance. ("Hammer.")
  • The Pete Best: Jason who? (Jason Dawe, was a presenter on Top Gear for one season and then was replaced by James May.) For the American audience, what first Stig?
    • The only episode with the Black Stig that has aired on BBC America is the one where he gets killed off.
  • Phrase Catcher: The Stig. See "Catch Phrase".
  • Piano Drop: After recieving a letter from the Morris Marina Owners' Club, any Morris Marina that appears on the show will have a piano dropped on it, no matter how unlikely the circumstances.
  • Picky Eater: Richard Hammond, in contract to James May's Extreme Omnivore. In some of their visits to other countries, Richard has trouble finding food he can eat, including Japan (he does not like fish) and Vietnam (where food included snakes, among other things).
  • Pimped-Out Car: A frequent feature, taken to such extremes as the convertible limo, the ninja truck and the Toybota/Nissank amphibious vehicles. Hilariously reversed in a special segment called "Quaint My Ride," in which Clarkson had an old Merc equipped with stone floors, comfy armchairs, a chandelier, a tea service and a functional fireplace.
  • Pixellation: When presenters or guests let loose with a profanity, their mouths will be pixellated (along with the audio being bleeped, of course), no doubt to prevent lipreaders from taking offense. Happens a lot during the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" segment, as the celebrity drivers often get a bit excited doing their fast lap around the Top Gear test track.

    The survival instructor in the Arctic episode, an ex-special forces guy, is described as "a man with a pixelated face". Finally, the Porsche-branded pipes were pixellated in re-runs, as the segment was filmed following a ban on smoking indoors. This elicited complaints.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: May to Hammond in the Bolivia special. Justified because May had to follow Hammond on Yungas Road at night with only two torches to light the way
  • Plummet Perspective: During the South American Special on the North Yungas Road, also known as El Camino de la Muerte -- The Road of Death.
  • The Points Mean Nothing: The scores are having less and less influence over which presenter "wins" a challenge.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: The show in general and Clarkson in particular are the direct antithesis of this trope, and frequent complaints are heard from the PC branch of the Moral Guardians. There's a belief among fans that there are actually people who watch Top Gear for the sole purpose of finding something to take offence at.
  • The Pollyanna: Any presenter trying to defend the worthiness of the car he has chosen for a challenge in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. Expect Blatant Lies and maybe a Verbal Backspace or two.

 May: [trying to make the best of being stuck in a Morris Marina]: Oh, come on! It's not so bad. Um... it's well-equipped.. no, it isn't well-equipped, to be honest, it's got one dial. It's tastefully upholstered... it isn't tastefully upholstered, really.. it's brown. But the seats are velour. And look how well it's worn!

  • Poor Man's Porn: Clarkson starts the News in 02.03 with a warning to parents:

 Clarkson: You probably think that your teenaged children are buying these top shelf magazines to look at this kind of thing [shows picture of scantily-clad women], and you probably think that's normal, okay? Well, they're not. [turns the page] What they're actually looking at is that. [shows Citroën Saxo VTR advert] They're cutting out pictures of this sort of car and taking them to the lavatory.

    • The way the three presenters talk about cars sometimes makes one wonder if they take Auto Trader with them to the lavatory....
  • Porn Stash: In the "start on a hill without rolling backwards and smashing your most treasured possession" challenge of the lorry driving episode, the prize to the winner was "a year's supply of gentlemen's literature". We could clearly see it was a collection of top-shelf magazines. Later described as "a mountain of pornography".
    • They actually broke James' piano leg off when putting it into position, and so they propped it up with the porn. After he ran his piano over, Richard and Jeremy decided they'd rather abandon the porn than to face James' wrath.
  • Power Trio:
    • James May: The Smart Guy and often teasingly referred to as "Captain Slow", because he does most things slowly and carefully, has a penchant for spending as much (or more) time ordering his toolbox as he does working with his tools (quite possibly a sufferer from obsessive-compulsive disorder), and often scolds the other hosts for being careless. Has a tendency towards Gosh Dang It to Heck and Unusual Euphemism (when he isn't saying his catchphrase "oh cock"). Also, he plays piano. Definitely the superego.
    • Jeremy Clarkson: A loud, brash Smug Snake. He's rude, likes explosions and luxury cars, is a devoted believer in Tim Taylor Technology, is exceedingly vocal in his dislikes, and let's not get into his politics. Almost certainly the id.
    • Richard Hammond: A risk-taking adrenaline junkie prone to Cluster F Bombs... also most likely the id. But he's somewhat nicer than Clarkson and less pushy, and he seems to have a better rapport with the other two than they have with each other, so he may narrowly qualify as the ego.
  • Power Walk: Sort of. If the three presenters are driving three cars, there will inevitably be at least one wide shot of the three in a flying-wedge formation.
  • Precap: In two senses. In the first episode of each new series, the presenters show previews of all the stuff that is to come that was already filmed for that season. The best stuff is saved for the actual episodes that they appear in. Additionally, nearly every episode has an introductory voiceover telling the viewer about the "main" features of the week's episode.

 Clarkson (series 8, episode 2): Tonight, I ruin the tranquility of the Yorkshire dales ... Richard ruins Iceland ... and we all ruin a local radio station.

Clarkson (series 10, episode 5): Tonight, The Stig tests a tube train ... Richard tests a pair of shorts ... and I try my hand at running.

Clarkson (series 13, episode 6): Tonight, Jeremy wears goggles... Richard falls down a small slope... and James says hello to a man!

Clarkson (series 15, episode 4): Tonight, I wear a hat... Richard wears a hat... and James wears a hat!

Clarkson (series 18, episode 4):Tonight, I wear a hat... James wears a hat... and Richard is behind a low wall!

Spoofed in a Series 3 episode where the precap featured things they'd like to do (Queen Elizabeth II as the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car, anyone?) but couldn't afford, because they were out of money.

 [on the "Top Ground Gear Force" special, after Clarkson has destroyed May's shed. Again]

May: What time is this program on? Is it 10 o'clock?

Clarkson: Yeah.

May: Is it 10 o'clock on BBC2?

Clarkson: Yes.

May: Are we beyond the Watershed?

Clarkson: Yes.

May: You're a fu--

[hard cut to]

Hammond: Guys!

  • Presenter Appeal: A surprising number of the vehicles that come up for review are boyhood Dream Cars or contemporary vehicles that have captured the interest of one of the presenters.
  • Product Placement: Both parodied and lampshaded. But the presenters aren't shy about pointing out the ones that don't make the grade, as evidenced by the Cool Wall. It's The BBC: they are not supposed to advertise.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Richard Hammond was a diehard fan of Top Gear, a fan of Jeremy Clarkson even, back when he was still on satellite Television. How diehard? Well, he read every single Top Gear magazine, watched Top Gear every week, and he envied everybody working for Top Gear. Needless to say, he Jumped At the Call when the current format of Top Gear started auditioning for presenters, although the last thing he expected was to actually be chosen for the job. Well, look where he is now.
  • Quicksand Sucks: While trying to move the grounded barge that their 4X4's have been floated in on, Clarkson gets stuck in river mud and starts to sink, to much laughter from the other two. They eventually pull him out with one of their 4X4's and rope.
  • Ratings Stunt: The episode which aired footage of the 300mph crash which temporarily brain-damaged Richard Hammond was timed to compete with the finale of Big Brother on Channel 4.
  • 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: "Jessica", by the Allman Brothers Band. 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.
  • Red Baron: "All we know is, he's called The Stig."
  • The Red Stapler: Inversion; for a show which spends most of its time talking about unaffordable supercars, Top Gear has a reputation as being able to destroy an everyday car's sales with a single negative word. Manufacturers will occasionally refuse to provide a car for the show to review, fearing they will hate it, but this tends to rile the presenters more, and they will often name and shame such cars before going on to review them "covertly" anyway.

    One notable case is the Vauxhall Vectra (Opel in Europe). The Vectra was trashed roundly by Clarkson and Vauxhall/Opel actually blamed him for their poor sales. BTW, for American car fans, the Vectra's American mutation is the Saturn Aura. Clarkson (in a 90s article)': "There are only three objective reasons for not buying any particular car. It is unreliable; it is hideously expensive; it is a Vauxhall Vectra."

    The presenters spent an entire series mocking the forthcoming Dacia Sandero before it had even been finished. By the start of the next series, Renault had cancelled the UK release (of course, this was probably for "unrelated reasons".) And who was complaining three years later in Romania that the Sandero was not sold in the UK? I'll give you three guesses but you'll need only one, if you read the Cargo Ship entry above. Poor guy wanted to take it home with him.

    Lampshaded in the American Muscle Cars special (San Francisco to the Bonneville Salt Flats); Richard Hammond noted that Chrysler refused to loan him a Dodge Challenger on the grounds that
    Top Gear always criticizes their cars. Hammond got around this by going to a local dealership and buying one. (Ironically, Hammond loved it.) During one episode May joked that certain dealerships have started asking "Do you know Jeremy Clarkson?" and denying entry to anyone who does.

    On the other hand, when the team demonstrated the durability of the Toyota Hilux pickup truck, Toyota released a new model, named in honour of the achievement, called The Invincible. In fact, there's a television commercial in the U.S. for the American version of the Hilux, the Toyota Tacoma, which features footage from that episode. They don't mention that it's
    Top Gear, only that the stunt was done by "some automotive experts in Europe" (grossly underestimating Top Gear
    s American fanbase and its ability to recognize the scene).
  • Refuge in Audacity: The presenters (particularly Clarkson) live and breathe this trope.
    • During a contest with the hosts of D Motor, a similar German motoring show, Clarkson commented the BBC had asked them not to mention the war. Clarkson, Hammond, and May then turned up in Supermarine Spitfires, the theme tune to 633 Squadron was played twice, they held an "Axis v. Allies" drag race contest (during which Clarkson cracked a joke about the Italian Lamborghini changing sides) and had one contest where the winner was the first to complete a lap, then place a towel on a sunbed to claim ownership. That's just some of the gags...
    • Like Clarkson describing a BMW with such features as "a sat-nav (GPS) that only goes to Poland" and "ein fanbelt that will last a thousand years"?
    • Some of the cheating in the challenges certainly qualifies.
    • From the first episode of Series 12:

 Clarkson: This is a hard job and I'm not just saying that to win favour with lorry drivers. Change gear, change gear, change gear, check mirror, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That's a lot of effort in a day.

    • Clarkson's Volkswagen ad, which featured Polish citizens milling about in panic and ended with the caption "Volkwagen Scirocco TDI: Berlin to Warsaw in one tank".
    • Another Clarkson, this one an outtake: "Come to England, the birds have got great tits." The 'birds' in question laughed rather than take offence. And to be fair, they both did have absolutely smashing tits.
      • The next two outtakes in the reel count as well. They wouldn't be nearly as funny if Clarkson wasn't so blatantly obvious about it.
    • A long-term Running Gag is that many series will begin with Clarkson saying how they have got complaining letters wanting more sensible things on the show, only to subvert it. For example:

  Clarkson: The BBC has told us we need to have more green cars on the show. So... (points at a Lambourghini supercar which happens to be painted bright green) There's one. Right, that should be enough for this series. Moving on...

    • They later took on the Presenters of the Australian Top Gear. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Such as booking their "limo" which was actually a prisoner transport van, the double-decker car race had the car on top for the Australians upside down as well as the Stig also being delivered in a crate upside-down. The Australian's however were far more capable than the Germans of getting their own back on the lads during some of the challenges.
  • Relax-O-Vision: 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.
  • 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 Mays 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.
  • Repeat Cut: Used and overused in early films (the Toyota Hilux torture test was a particularly gross offender) but largely averted now.
  • 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". Hilarity Ensues. In addition, 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."
  • 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 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.

  • Rock Star 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 door. 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: Some of the presenters and episodes embody this. For example Jeremy is mostly Romantic with some Enlightenment moments where as you could argue that James is the opposite. Richard is more Romantic arguably.
    • Perhaps this is best shown when Jeremy Clarkson reviewed the Mc Laren MP 4-12C and compared it to the Ferrari 458 Italia, to test Mc Laren's claim that "it was better in every measurable way". While the test showed that the Mc Laren 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 did a similar review/comparison between the Audi R8 and Corvette ZR 1. Even though he considered the R8 to be better practically and in some areas of performance, he said the ZR 1 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 ZR 1, 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".
    • The presenters in general will often fell 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.
  • 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 a car driven by May comes dead last in a competition between a boat, a bike, and public transport.
  • 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.
    • Let alone the ridiculous outfits they end up wearing in Vietnam, matching their bikes and cargo.
    • Or the clothing worn for losing mysterious bets during one season.
  • Running Gag: One of the show's favorite tropes.
    • 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...
    • Gags that last a season and then are dropped without much warning. These usually appear in the "News" section of the episode.
      • 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, "I went on the Internet and I found this..."
      • Series 12: "Are you wearing that for a bet?", referring to a piece of odd clothing being worn by one of the presenters.
      • 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.
      • 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".
    • 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.
    • 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 James 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 Jeremy takes his eye off when another car overtakes them, he bumps into him. Cue James stopping the car and coming towards Jeremy 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 James' 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. And on two occasions, they've hidden cow's heads in his car so they'd attract wild animals.
      • Also they've tried putting those animal heads in May's tent.
    • May's repeated claims that Monkeys are the most dangerous animal in the world.
  • Sand in My Eyes: James May after taking the Bugatti Veyron to its top speed of 253 mph.

 "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."

    • He later takes the Veyron Super-Sport to 259.5 mph.
  • Saw Star Wars 27 Times: The Stig's African cousin is said to have seen The Lion King 1,780 times.
  • 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.
  • 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]

Hammond: GUH!

  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Hammond during the Bolivia Special in response to the insect life and the snake in his car.
  • Screwed by the Network: An inadvertent example. The late-2009 season was put up in its usual Sunday evening time slot, despite the fact that it would be competing against The X Factor's results show and I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. Result? The season got utterly torn apart in the ratings, posting audience figures that would have been considered embarassing for the original version of the show, and helped fuel reports that it was on the verge of being cancelled. As a result, the BBC have announced that there won't be any more seasons broadcast in the autumn, and that in future, there'll be one season just after the turn of the year, and one in the summer.
  • 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.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • May's first appearance on the revived Top Gear

 James May: [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 BBC 2", 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?"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sex Sells: Played for laughs on occasion but otherwise averted. 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 a car calendar challenge. They sent a man.

  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.
  • Shaped Like Itself

  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 one of the American specials has the guys at one. Amusingly all the targets are shaped like the Stig.
  • 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."

 "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 snowplow 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.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Stig, based on the Running Gag introductions almost every episode.
  • Show Within a Show: "The Interceptors", their spoof of 1970's detective shows in tribute to the Jensen Interceptor.
    • Much to Hammond and May's lament, its only the opening credits.

  Hammond: Why don't we make that every week?

  • 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 Versus 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.
  • Sorry I Left the BGM On: In the charity special Top Ground Gear Force the music was provided by a military brass band, whom Jeremy had to stop before continuing his monologue. In a second instance he, May and Hammond were arguing and he went as far as destroying a trombone to achieve silence.
  • Sorry, Billy, But You Just Don't Have Legs: Aversion: when Richard Whiteley set an atrocious time on the Top Gear test track, a blind fan wrote in to say he could do better. And then did (with Jeremy Clarkson riding shotgun and guiding him through the track). It wasn't Clarkson, it actually was The Stig directing him behind the scenes, they only showed Clarkson on the show.
  • Sound Effect Bleep: In order to keep the show suitable for its pre-Watershed slot, most of the swearing is either bleeped or drowned out by a horn or car radio.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Stig (of course).
  • Spiked Wheels: Clarkson adds Boudicea spikes to his "improved" police interceptor in the police car challenge. Needless to say, it doesn't work out exactly as planned.
  • 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.
  • 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. After nearly crashing into a river full of alligators due to bad brakes, having an angry mob 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 witnessing firsthand the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina (which inspired them to donate their vehicles to local families, which then prompted a lawyer to threaten to sue them for misrepresentation because Clarkson mistakenly claimed his '89 Camaro was a '91 model, and also ever so kindly offer to drop the lawsuit for a protection racket of $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.

  • Squick. 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...

May: Steady.

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!

    • And

 May: 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 crossing

 May: It's alright. It's romantic.

Hammond: Don't say things like that! I'm on the same bed as you!

  • Stealth Hi Bye: The Chinese "Attack" Stig is fond of mixing these with a Groin Attack.
  • 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.
  • 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 completely ordinary
    • While he's certainly more low-key than the other dudes, I certainly wouldn't call May "ordinary".
  • Strongly Worded Letter: After James had 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

 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.
    • 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".
  • 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 him, 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.
    • 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.

 "It's an Audi! It weighs as much as the moon!"

[responding to another critic who has said car X is better than car Y] "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!

 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. (And 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.
  • 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.
  • Technology Marches On: The "flappy-paddle" gearbox. When Top Gear was first relaunched, over a decade ago, the presenters were all unimpressed by and dismissive of the idea. Then, as the tech improved, they started praising a few individual ones for being better than most. Nowadays they tend to describe them, more often than not, as an option worth considering.
  • 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 the series of challenges in several episodes where the three presenters team up to 'prove' that the production team's low opinion of old British cars 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.

 James 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 home-made convertible;

 Clarkson: You never forget how to sew...

Clarkson: Damn and blast! I've sewn myself to the machine!

  • 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!!

 Hammond: [gleefully riding a Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle] I am now straddling my boyhood hero! [beat] No, no wait, that's not right, no.

    • Also: "This is the biggest and most powerful car I have ever experienced. [beat] I can't believe I just said that."
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: In the "Polar Special" (Clarkson, Hammond, and May's attempt to reach the magnetic north pole), 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]

  • 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.
  • This Trope Is Bleep: The version of the V8 blender episode broadcast on Dave changed Richard's suggested name for their smoothie, "Desperate Shag in a Skip," to "Desperate (BLEEP) in a Skip." Which, when you think about it, sounds much worse than the original version. Bizarrely, May's suggested name, "The Bloody Awful," wasn't bleeped out at all, although that's probably just as well, since "The (BLEEP) Awful" would also sound ruder than the version it had replaced.
    • All instances of May using the word "cock" are bleeped out on Dave and BBC America. Considering May uses that word in places where other people might use rather stronger language, this has the amusing side-effect of making May seem a lot more foul-mouthed than he really is.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • V8 Blender. V8 Rocking Chair.
  • 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.
  • Too Soon:
    • The show received criticism for broadcasting a feature in which they demonstrated the importance of taking care on level crossings by crashing a locomotive into a car, shortly after a train crash had made the news. Some thought it was an ideal time to broadcast it with rail safety high in the public consciousness. Others thought it would have caused offense to someone at any time.
    • This trope was intentionally flaunted when Richard Hammond returned to the show after his near-fatal high-speed crash. Jeremy Clarkson even made a point of saying "speed kills" and asked Hammond if he was "now a mental".
    • Clarkson drew massive criticism for his "Change gear, change gear, change gear, murder a prostitute" joke in the Lorry Driving Challenge, having made it mere weeks after a lorry driver was arrested and charged in connection with a string of prostitute murders. It's well known that Clarkson is a huge fan of Too Soon jokes and uses them a lot on purpose just to wind the press up, but the reaction continued to be that he went too far with this one.
  • Totally Radical: In a wry and self-deprecating way (of course) 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 aks you... is I bling?

  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 ...
  • 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 started by accident, but that they decided not to rush to put it out as it made for great television!)
    • 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 says racing drivers -- and by that association, the Stig -- have a very small brain and worthless opinions.[4] Also, this quote:

 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;

  Clarkson: I went on the internet... and I found this!

  • Troperiffic: Just look at the size of this page. Go on, look. We'll wait.
  • 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.
  • 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".

  • 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"
  • Understatement: Any time you hear the phrase "That's not gone well." Jeremy, after testing the V8 blender: "I'm not sure this works."
  • 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:
    • Pidlington.
    • Intercourse, Pennsylvania.
    • John Manlove, who owns Manlove Forensics, the company that they have used twice to check the forensic history of second-hand cars.
  • Unfriendly Fire: May, manning a paintball-shooting 'tank,' opened fire on Clarkson's car during one of the D Motor crossover challenges

 Hammond: 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: Both played straight by driving unusual vehicles on little or no training and subverted in the historic cars segment.
    • Played for laughs in the Vietnam Special when Clarkson is hopeless on a Vespa.
  • 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 Special

Clarkson (in a monotone voice): "To showcase my brilliant idea, we stopped at an underground market which had a waterfall and a river in it."

  • Unusual User Interface: Older Citroens 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:
    • 0LIV3R
    • 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
  • Verbal Backspace: Often.

 [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.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Often averted.
    • Also, 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 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: "You have landed in Iraq."
  • 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: MY EYES!

Hammond: You cretin!

  • 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 XJ 220 that they used in a race against the Australians.
  • What Could Have Been: James May was originally planning to present the Vampire rocket-car segment but had to back out due to a schedule conflict. Particularly frightening because Hammond said he only survived the car sliding upside down at 280 mph because when the roll cage dug in, he was short enough that his head remained clear of the ground. Hammond is 5'7". May is 6'. On the other hand, if May had been presenting that segment, he probably wouldn't have taken the car for an additional last-minute run.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: "How hard can it be?"
  • What Does This Button Do?: A conspicuous lever in May's Alfa Romeo/Saab limousine. Naturally, Hammond pulls it. (It uncouples the steering between the Alfa and Saab halves, making the Alfaab Salfa Romeab all but undriveable.)
  • "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's Not Awesome?: The intros often play into this trope. Jeremy Clarkson: "Tonight: I wear some googles! Richard Hammond falls down a small slope! James May says hello to a man!"

 "Tonight: A sausage gets burned! A sheep falls over! And our track is all wet!"

"Tonight: Richard Hammond buys a coffee! James May slips on some snow! And we show a picture of Steve Mc Queen!"

    • Hammond and May racing against a letter being delivered by Royal Mail. Complete with dramatic shots of mail being unloaded from planes and sorted.
    • In general some of their challenges and races could make for very mundane footage. These scenes benefit greatly from the editing and the background music. Top Gear is well recognized in the professional film and television industries as having some of the world's best editing and production values.
    • The 50th birthday celebration for the Jaguar E-Type where Clarkson had a fleet of the said car arranged in an E on Beachy Head as a marching band played in the background, Royal Marines rappelled down the cliff unfurling a Union Jack, while Sopwith Camels, Hawker Hurricanes and Spitfires flew overhead and Royal Marines parachuted unveiling yet another Union Jack with the big number 50 in the sky.
  • What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: After Clarkson's "normal road test" of the Renault Twingo 133:

 Hammond: What was that? An acid trip?... Seriously, how much Night Nurse[5] did you take before you did that film?

    • Also, 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.

  • 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.
  • Why We're 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.
  • 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.
    • Also 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.
  • Women Drivers: 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 Richard Hammond) 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."
      • 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
    • James 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.
  • 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.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In the Val Thorens ice race, James May in the Morris Marina won (well, won among the 3 presenters). They exclaimed that they've saved the reputation of the Marina and their owners will be forever grateful... 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!!"


  1. Condoms and tampons are used for waterproofing their vehicles when crossing a river, the Viagra is used to help reduce the effects of altitude sickness later on
  2. In the U.S., a Tacoma is a rough equivalent to the Hilux
  3. thirty foot
  4. A race driver is the go-to guy for pretty much all race-tuning and for a full understanding of how well a car works for performance driving.
  5. an over-the-counter cold remedy that helps you sleep. Clarkson mentions it early on in the "review". --Ed.
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