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"Wanna be on top?"
Reality Show hosted and created by Tyra Banks in which a group of young women apply, a certain number are chosen (though it changes from season to season, from about 10-15) and one is eliminated each episode until the Grand Finale, when one contestant is handed the title of America's Next Top Model. The prize varies slightly with each cycle, but generally it's a Model Management contract (Wilhelmina, Ford, Elite, IMG, LA/NY), a Covergirl spread, and a feature in a Magazine (Marie Claire, Elle, Seventeen and Vogue).
The American version of the show debuted in 2003 and is still ongoing. The format has been replicated in many other countries, including Britain and Australia.
- Alpha Bitch: Usually a couple each cycle. (see Character Development below)
- Always Second Best: Allison Harvard is the show's premier example.
- American Title
- Ascended Meme: Creepy Chan. See Below.
- Ax Crazy: Janice Dickinson for the judges, too many contestants to count, probably.
- Back for the Finale: Girls who made it in their season's international destination (mostly in the top six) but didn't make the final two (or three in case of the All-Star cycle) were usually bought back to work with the local models for the final runway.
- Bathtub Scene
- Beach Episode
- Belly Dancer: The challenge for Cycle 16's final four girls.
- Beware the Nice Ones: There's actually an episode where Tyra shouts "BE QUIET!" to a contestant who is arguing with her, following it up with a rant about how badly the girl is acting. Stress and overwork are to blame.
- Berserk Button:
- Tyra apparently hates girls who aren't devastated at being cut. When Tiffany in Season 4 took her elimination in stride...Tyra proceeded to go absolutely INSANE on her.
Tiffany: I'm just tired of getting upset over things I have no control over!
- Don't insult C14-Anslee's mothering skills.
- And don't say anything to C14-Alasia that is even mildly negative about her, or she will. freak. out. Became almost comical when she was screaming: "You need to calm the f**k down" to another contestant who was calm as a cucumber.
- Well if you saw the clip episode, anything that got in Alasia's face when she was angry got her rage. Case in point: she screamed at toiletries due to lack of people left to yell at.
- Broad Strokes: Who won Cycle 1? Who's Adrienne Curry?
- Bullying a Dragon: It seems inevitable that there will always be one girl who acts like she's above it all and starts arguing with the judges during their critiques. One of the most notorious was Cycle 6's Jade, who argued with them every time she received criticism and really pissed off Nigel Barker, who had trouble hiding his disdain for the girl more than once.
- The Bus Came Back: The previous Cycle winner usually returns for the current Cycle's finale. The girls featured in Top Model in Action also qualifies. Basically, any alumnae that guest stars.
- But Not Too Black, A lot of ethnic diversity, but.....
- Averted by Sandra in Cycle 12, whose particularly dark skin was fawned over with the show's typical subtlety. Same for Cycle 1's Ebony and Cycle 6's Nnenna. Interestingly, all three contestants had their hair shaved off, and another similarity.
- Discussed during Cycle 2 when contestant Xiomara went into a crying jag after having her skin painted much darker to impersonate Grace Jones for a photoshoot.
- Camp Gay: Miss J. The man generally wears fancier outfits than anyone else on the show, including the models. The only way to top him(her?) by this point, would be to have Lady Gaga guest star.
- Hell, Miss J is a better model than most of the models. Girl can smize and catwalk.
- Canon Discontinuity: After Angelea was disqualified in the All-Star finale, all her work in the competition was nullified and the other two finalists were re-evaluated on their own merits.
- Cat Fight: A Cycle 17 photoshoot is themed around this.
- Celebrity Impersonator: Some shoots require the contestants to be this.
- Character Development: Most of the Alpha Bitches who returned in Cycle 17 Took a Level In Kindness or at least defrosts. Except for Cycle 9's Bianca.
- Confession Cam
- Continuity Nod: Everytime a recurring photographer or designer guest stars once again or a studio featured in a previous cycle will be revisited, expect to have a Call Back.
- A Cycle 8 photoshot was an homage to the past seven cycles memorable moments.
- The All-Star Cycle had plenty of Call Backs and Mythology Gags. In fact, the girls' first pictorial was based on their established characters from their respective cycles turned Up to Eleven.
- Many examples, including Natasha, the possible-Mail Order Bride who took every insult as a compliment; Jael, the anarchist whom 50 Cent pushed into a swimming pool, and...well, too many to count, really.
- Allison aka "Creepy-chan" from Cycles 12 and 17, one of 4chan's favorite "chan girls" (though this was never brought up in-show) and an artist with a fascination with blood. She even said that she was jealous when Tyra mentioned that she used to get nosebleeds as a child. Polls showed her to be the most popular contestant that season and the favorite to win (yes, even amongst non-channers). She came in 2nd. Twice.
- Crossover: Cycle 18, called British Invasion, featured seven returning Britain's Next Top Model contestants.
- Cry Cute: Too many to list.
- Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune: The top 7 finalists of the All-Stars Cycle were each given a Leitmotif in which they themselves were required to write the lyrics.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Cycle 8 winner Jaslene Gonzales was first seen during the Cycle 7 casting week. She was cut before the final 13.
- Tiffany Richardson, Marvita Washington, Kacey Leggett and Angelea Preston were, respectively, casting week rejects of Cycles 3, 9, 11 and 12 before making it as finalists for Cycles 4, 10, 15 and 14 (and 17 for the latter).
- Cycle 9 winner Saleisha was featured in Cycle 6 as a working model. This, coupled with her participation in Tyra's modeling camp, caused controversy to her win.
- Nole Marin guested a few times in Cycle 2 before joining the panel in Cycles 3 and 4.
- Elimination Statement: Cycle 6's Jade ended her tenure on the show with a spoken-word poem (complete with rhythmic finger snapping) entitled "Leftover Lady". For many fans, this was the series' Moment of Awesome.
- Everything's Better with Motorcycles: The photoshoot for Cycle 3 (during its final four) and Cycle 17 (during its top nine).
- Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry
- Everything's Worse with Bees: The second photoshoot of Cycle 16.
- Expository Hairstyle Change
- Fake Nationality: Cycle 4's photoshoot for Got Milk? required the girls to portray themselves in a different ethnicity.
- Sometimes, this overlaps with the Celebrity Impersonator photoshoots.
- Faking the Dead: The Drop-Dead Gorgeous photoshoot in Cycle 8 required the girls to portray murder victims. Subverted by the Seven Deadly Sins photoshoot in Cycle 4.
- Fan Service: Each cycle will generally have at least one nude or semi-nude photoshoot.
- Final Girl: The whole show usually follows the same elimination pattern as a serial killer movie.
- Five-Man Band: The panel. Except for Tyra's and guest judges, roles varies/ed or/and overlaps/ed from time to time.
- The US and UK teams from Cycle 18.
- Freudian Excuse: Eva from Cycle 3, Renee from Cycle 8, Elina from Cycle 11, Angelea from Cycles 14 and 17.
- Genre Savvy: In cycle 16, Alexandria's attitude is getting on the nerves of the other contestants, but they've seen enough previous cycles to know how this works:
Molly: Alexandria needs to leave already.
- Girl Posse: Pink Positive from Cycle 3.
- Hollywood Thin: Most of the contestants.
- A House Divided: The contestants all live together for the entire competition. Cue the instant formation of cliques.
- Cycle 18 enforced this to the British and the American girls.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Until Cycle 10, episode titles began with "The Girl/s". Since Cycle 15, episode titles are named after the guest judge of the episode. The exceptions: recap episodes.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Most of the contestants.
- I'm Not Here to Make Friends: See Jade from Cycle 6 and her quote "This is not America's Next Top Best Friend". Too many contestants to count, really.
- Important Haircut
- Fundamentally Female Cast: Averted. The contestants are Always Female (sans Isis from Cycles 11 and 17). But with the exception of Cycle 1, the panel members are mostly male.
- It's All About Me: Tyra Banks to the core. Some contestants are also this.
- Jerkass: Again, many examples.
- Joker Immunity: One criticism on the show is that girls with bad attitude are kept around regardless of performance only to create drama for the show.
- Large Ham: All of the recurring judges.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Tyra Banks and Janice Dickinson in the early cycles. Most of the final two girls counts.
- The Magnificent Seven Samurai: Team USA and Team UK from Cycle 18 counts.
- The Makeover:
- One episode is devoted to this concept per cycle. In each cycle there are two girls to look for — the girl that gets a bad makeover but learns how to make it work, and the girl that gets a meh makeover and makes such a huge stink over it that she gets kicked off by next elimination.
- One girl who has to get their hair cut short, and then cries for the rest of the day, and bitches about it until they're eliminated.
- Male Gaze
- Manipulative Editing: Inevitable when each hour-long episode has to express an entire week's worth of events.
- Ms. Fanservice: Granted, the show is about aspiring female models. But as Tyra puts it, some girls just "pops".
- My Friends and Zoidberg: Possibly the greatest moment in reality TV history, during Cycle 9.
Heather: Hey, pretty lady. And Tyra.
- My Greatest Second Chance: The main plot of the All-Stars Cycle. The returning Britain's Next Top Model contestants on the following Cycle are all gunning for this.
- No Sense of Direction: Mainly in the Go-Sees episodes.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Mostly in Couture shots.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with Jay Manuel and J. Alexander, as well as Cycle 11 winner Brittany "McKey" Sullivan and Cycle 16 winner Brittani Kline. Played straight with Cycle 5 and 13's respective winners Nicole Linkletter and Nicole Fox.
- Patriotic Fervor: Invoked by the girls from Cycle 18.
- Pool Scene
- Progressively Prettier
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: Kahlen from Cycle 4 had never watched an episode, and was often praised for her success having never seen an episode before.
- Reality TV Show Mansion
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The two Jays, the American and British girls in Cycle 18, and majority of the final two girls qualify.
- Reluctant Fanservice Girl: Cycle 1 runner-up and All-Stars sixth placer Shannon Stewart is the quintessential example. Basically, girls who refused to pose nude, or at least sexy.
- Shannon is a strange example, as she allowed herself to be pictured in swim suits that left little to the imagination, but never underwear (even if it covered more than the swim suit) because she felt that was only for her husband to see.
- Remember When You Blew Up the Sun: The returning girls during the All-Star cycle who suffered from Badass Decay were each given this.
Tyra: (To Shannon) "Remember where you came from because it is such a strong place. You were a runner-up. Cycle 1. And it is for a reason. Don't forget that."
- Reviewer Stock Phrases: For the Judge; "Fierce", "lost your neck", "catching flies with your mouth", "giving face/neck/mouth", "the camera loves you", etc.
- Rich Bitch: "and then we realised... that Robyn was actually shopping..."
- Rip Tailoring: Ripping T-shirts to make them cool was an example.
- The Runner Up Takes It All: The winners of each cycle are often not the strongest contenders, but are stuck with the sponsored prizes. Joanie, Melrose, and Anya beat out Danielle, Caridee, and Whitney by gaining successful fashion careers, as opposed to the winners who won Covergirl sponsorship.
- Cycle 9's Heather Kuzmich, due to having Asperger's and both making it work, being an overall strong contestant, and barely avoiding the Freudian Excuse, has also received a great deal of notoriety.
- Dani (Danielle Evans, Cycle 6) probably has a more successful career than Joanie. And one could go on forever listing contestants who model more frequently than the winners.
- Ryu and Ken: Evenly matched girls such as Adrienne and Elyse in Cycle 1, Dani and Joanie in Cycle 6, the three former runners-up who returned in the All-Star Cycle, especially Allison and Laura.
- Seven Deadly Sins: One photo shoot in Cycle 4 had each of the girls put in a coffin in a grave and portraying one of the sins. What made this even worse was that Kahlen's (one of the contestants) friend had died not long before the shoot. She was praised for channeling her pain and delivering a good photo.
- She Cleans Up Nicely
- Shocking Elimination: Too many to list.
- Something Completely Different: Cycles 13 (featured contestants below 5'7), 17 (featured returning contestants) and, recently 18 (see Crossover above).
- Statuesque Stunner: Given that this is a show about modelling, it's actually easier to count girls who are short or have average height. The trope is intentionally averted in Cycle 13, however.
- Stunt Casting: The most common archetypes are The Ditz, Cloudcuckoolander, a Dumb Blond, a Fiery Redhead, an Ice Queen (Alpha Bitch, Jerkass) an Anti-Hero (Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Lovable Alpha Bitch), a plus size girl, and a Deadpan Snarker.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Every time there's a new judge, expect some comparisons to the one they replaced.
- Tall, Dark and Bishoujo: Again, many examples sans Cycle 13.
- Those Two Guys: Subverted by the two Jays.
- Timed Mission: The Go-sees episodes. Cue Race Against the Clock.
- Token Minority: Although every cycle has a pretty broad mix of contestants racially, critics have accused Tyra Banks of purposely courting controversy with her inclusion of an autistic contestant, a possible mail-order bride and a Transsexualism.
- Too Soon: Twice in the course of the show, there have been situations where one of the contestants was given news that a close friend had died, and then had a shoot involving death soon after. In Cycle 4, Kahlen was given the news, then had to play the Deadly Sin of Wrath, in a coffin. Then, in Cycle 8, Jael was informed a friend passed away, then had to play a murder victim soon after.
- Traumatic Haircut: All the time. Each cycle feature at least one girl that doesn't react positively to her Expository Hairstyle Change.
- Underdogs Never Lose: The blind/short/overweight/whatever contestant will always make it far in the show no matter what their talent is. And interestingly rich girls who have places at great universities never seem to win...
- Viewers Are Goldfish: The show will frequently have sepia-toned flashbacks to events that happened just a few minutes earlier.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Kristi from Cycle 3 wore a USA gown. On the other hand, the show enforced the girls in Cycle 18 to wear shirts with their corresponding nation's flag printed on it.
- Wham! Episode: Usually episodes ending in a Shocking Elimination, but that's not always the case. Special mention goes to Cycle 2 episode 10, Cycle 3 episode 4, Cycle 4 episodes 3 and 7, Cycle 5 episodes 6, 9 and 11, Cycle 6 episodes 4, 5 and 8, Cycle 7 episode 10, Cycle 16 episode 7, All-Stars Cycle episodes 10, 12 and 13, Cycle 18 episodes 3, 6 and 10.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: The girls' were given brands that they will embody during the All-Stars cycle. For instance, words such as "Daring" and "Unique". However, three brands have ambiguous meanings, specifically those were "Free", "Girlfriend" and "Unexpected"
- Wholesome Crossdresser: J. Alexander, called Miss J. Alexander by Tyra. A Cycle 1 contestant called him that to avoid confusion with Jay Manuel.
- World of Ham: With so many divas under one roof (and that's just the judges), almost every single moment is one of absolute drama.
- A Worldwide Punomenon: Tyra Mails usually contain some sort of pun, Foreshadowing the next photoshoot.