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Hell's Kitchen is an American adaptation of a British reality show. The original British version was a pretty standard "celebrities try to cook fine cuisine and fail hilariously" show, with the public voting for the winner, who would receive a decent-sized donation to their chosen charity. Where the British Hell's Kitchen differed from other such shows was that its head chef and mentor, Gordon Ramsay, didn't hold back in calling out the celebrities on their blatant incompetence (as opposed to the relentlessly cheerful chefs that normally appeared on these shows). This show caught the eye of some American TV execs, who decided they wanted their own version. The resulting new version was one of the few instances where the Trans Atlantic Equivalent was widely regarded as being better than the original.

Hell's Kitchen features 12-18 aspiring chefs competing in various cooking challenges and working in the kitchen of a Hollywood soundstage turned into a fancy restaurant. Sounds simple enough, but what provides this show's appeal is that these aspiring chefs must compete and work together under the watchful eye of Gordon Ramsay, a Supreme Chef and a Sadist Teacher if there ever was one.

Expect Chef Ramsay to become Drill Sergeant Nasty (and occasionally even The Neidermeyer) as he drops Cluster F-Bomb after Cluster F-Bomb on the competitors, even as they're working to get dozens of fancy dinners served to hungry patrons. The chefs stumble and bumble through dinner services (sometimes even forcing Chef Ramsay to shut down the kitchen and send the diners home), then after each dinner service, the worst team of chefs is forced to nominate two of their worst members to face elimination at the hands of Chef Ramsay. However, Ramsay doesn't have to choose exclusively among the two chefs put up for elimination, and sometimes he has even been known to kick off a chef from the winning team. Or during dinner. Or whenever he feels like it. In some of the episodes, a chef being forced to leave early due to injuries or health issues counts as an elimination as well.

The reward for the chef who survives this nightmare is a chance to serve as executive chef of a high-class (and we mean high-class - think The Savoy) restaurant. Much of the show's appeal comes from that fact that it features the same kinds of people that plague every reality series... but in a shocking diversion from the genre, they're punished for being attention-starved idiots and rewarded for showing competence and maturity.

One of the most popular shows on Fox, particularly in the summers. Its popularity has led to the adaptation of another of Ramsay's British shows, Kitchen Nightmares, featuring all the swearing and screaming of Hell's Kitchen but without the competition. They even put him in charge of a show he wasn't on in the UK, Master Chef, although he's suspiciously nice on that (intending to show disappointment instead of anger and giving a lot of constructive criticism).

Each episode usually boils down to the following:

  • The Introduction: In the very first episode, all 16 chefs cook up their signature dishes to impress Ramsay. This is usually nothing more than Ramsay trying to get a feel for what each chef is like through their cooking. From Season 6 onwards, this has been a challenge (see the bullet point below).
  • The Challenge: Usually done in the start of each episode. The two teams have to complete a challenge (such as cooking a meal with limited ingredients or being blind folded and guessing foods via taste). The team with the most points get rewarded (getting a massage, eating with Gordon at a fancy restaurant, etc.) while the losing team faces punishment, usually doing very tedious tasks such as prepping both kitchens for dinner service, cleaning the dining room, or handling the food deliveries. In some cases, the punishment is more humiliating, such as sorting through the garbage or eating various parts of a cow. When it comes down to the final six contestants, there is only one winner for the challenges. However, at this point the punishments drop off the board almost completely, with the typical punishment being prepping for dinner service... which has to get done anyway. Sometimes they have to clean up a bit.
  • Dinner Service: The main meat of the show and where most of the drama happens. Both teams have to cook up meals that are ordered by the customers and the meals have to pass Ramsay's quality standards. He'll usually drop his infamous Cluster F-Bomb or hurl food across the kitchen if what he is given isn't up to his standards. Ramsay has even sent some chefs home early due to their constant screw ups in the kitchen.
  • Elimination: The team that failed to impress Ramsay during dinner service have to choose two people to be put up for elimination. If both teams failed or sufficiently impressed Ramsay, then both teams have to pick one person from their team to be put on the chopping block. When the chefs meet Ramsay to announce their decisions, Ramsay then picks the person to be sent home. As said above, Ramsay has picked someone completely different or even someone from the winning team to be sent home, showing that no one is safe.

The finale changes things up. The two finalists meet with the show's interior designer to discuss how they want their own dining rooms to look for the final dinner service. While the dining rooms are being worked on, Ramsay takes the finalists to the restaurant that they could win and they have to perform one last challenge by cooking several meals to be presented to several professional chefs. Eight chefs that were sent home previously come back one last time to help out the finalists during dinner service. After everything is all over, the finalists stand behind a pair of doors. One of them opens and the other does not. The chef who gets the unlocked door is the big winner of Hell's Kitchen.

  • This was slightly changed in the 2010 finale: The finalists were told they would be receiving a trip to Australia in the future. This was perhaps because they couldn't make a quick trip to London to see the restaurant of which they'd be placed in charge.
Tropes used in Hell's Kitchen include:
  • Accentuate the Negative: Whenever a contestant is eliminated, Chef Ramsay will almost always make some comment about how utterly worthless and incompetent they are, even if the departing chef had been flawless until screwing up in their last service. The only real exceptions to this are contestants who make it to the Black Team before leaving (unless they do horribly during their last service), and contestants who are forced to depart because of illness or injury.
    • Another major exception: Nilka in Season 7, who was thrown out during dinner service, and yet met by Chef Ramsay outside and told how good of a job she had done as a whole.
  • Ad Break Double Take: Combined with Commercial Break Cliffhanger about Thrice An Episode.
  • All There in the Manual: As shown in Season 7's first episode, the contestants are given a thick binder full of all the various rules, recipes, and procedures of the series.
    • Be Careful What You Wish For: Late in the first night of that same episode, everyone's roused out of sleep to watch a TV message from Ramsay. It's an instructional video of him preparing some lobster risotto. The players are hugely grateful for and inspired by this generosity: Jason says "the lesson that Chef Ramsay gave us was invaluable" and Jason wanted to see "20 more of those." The contestants don't get much sleep that night, as they had frequent videos running until 2 AM.
  • Alpha Bitch: Melissa, the girl having a "Sweet 16" party in Season 4, was set up to be one of these. In a subversion, she actually turned out to be fairly polite and down to earth. Her mother, on the other hand...
  • And Zoidberg: Season 9 finale: "All the past contestants! And Tommy's ass Also serves as a Crowning Moment of Funny.
  • Angel's Pose: Season 3 episode 6 challenge winners were part of a photo shoot. You'll notice them posing like Charlie's Angels with dinner tools.
  • Angrish: Raj did this at one point when Vinnie told the customers not to order side dishes, although it was from confusion instead of anger.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Each season's opener is a showcase of its entire contestant lineup (with the exception of one season's first episode). The images of the chefs and Chef Ramsay are inserted in a whimsical computer-animated setting, such that each contestant is seen in close-up doing something amusing and cooking-related, in the current theme:
  • Anyone Can Be Sent Home: Carol in S5 got sent home despite her team winning. There are also several cases of contestants being sent home even if they aren't up for elimination, sometimes even in the middle of dinner service if they keep fucking up badly enough.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking

 Gordon: You dishonest, two-faced, lazy little fucker!

Vinnie: Lazy?!

  • Author Appeal: Ramsay loves dressing up, having his wife dress up, having a kid dress up as him, rewarding his contestants with makeovers, and handing out or taking back their kitchen jackets.
  • Author Existence Failure: A rather tragic example, first with the sudden suicide of Season 2 contestant Rachel Brown, which was then followed by the death of Season 3 contestant Aaron Song from complications of diabetes.
  • Badass: Sous Chef Scott, who doesn't take any lip from anyone. A chief example of this was the Season 3 finale, where he dropped a Cluster F-Bomb on Josh, promising to hunt him down if he ruined Rock's chances. The scene was cut from the US broadcast but is viewable on the DVDs, as well as some foreign broadcasts. Another deleted scene had Scott chew out Josh and Vinnie when they asked him how long on the garnish.
    • Another in season 1, when he caught the Blue Team trying to cheat their punishment, he catches them in the act, tells them off, then takes away their stuff.
    • And another in season 7. While briefly controlling the pass, he catches Ben trying to call out the tickets. The awesome smackdown is not long in coming.
    • Most people would drop out of the competition after breaking one of their arms. When Season 6's Dave finds himself in such a situation, he stays in the competition... and eventually wins.
      • Gloriously lampshaded by Ramsay himself, who chewed out another chef for subpar performance when said chef claimed that loosing the tip of his finger caused him to fumble while cooking. Ramsay promptly exploded in his face pointing out how Dave has a bum leg and a broken arm yet still managed to not only pull through, but was the best on their team.
    • It goes without saying that Chef Ramsay himself is an example. This is all the evidence you'll ever need.
  • Bald of Awesome: Sous Chef Scott, as well as Season 6's Kevin.
    • During the season 10 premiere, Scott decided to play a joke on the chefs by pretending to shave their heads.
  • Berserk Button: Season 5's Robert doesn't like being called "Bobby" because it reminds him of his deadbeat father; Gordon used the name one episode, annoying Robert, but later he explained the situation calmly to Ramsay, who apologized and promised not to use that name again.
    • And he shows this side again in season 6 when after losing a challenge, he gets reminded about his shortcomings from one of Ramsay's assistant chefs (Scott of all the people!) and how he should have had the now emerging motivation come out during the challenge. Robert completely blows his cool and snaps a broom in half, complaining on the Confession Cam that being reminded about how he failed was something his father had regularly done.
    • Ramsay has his own Berserk Button, of course: bad cooking.
      • Ramsay also absolutely hates it when people who are supposed to be great chefs or at least know how to cook (executive chefs, culinary instructors, etc.) and they screw up in the kitchen horribly.
      • Also, do not talk back to Ramsay. Season 7's Jason commented on this:

 Jason: Ramsay. He's the Jay-Z of fucking restaurants. You don't talk back to a man like that.

    • Heather from Season 2 gets extremely angry if anyone makes any sexist remarks in her direction, as Garrett found out before one service.
    • Sous Chef Scott gets extremely pissed whenever a contestant tries to act like a leader when Ramsay's not in charge.
    • Craig from Season 4 tended to get angry and yell abuse at people (including Chef Ramsay) whenever they asked him how near he was to finishing whatever he was cooking. Which, considering that getting all the dishes out at the same time is vitally important in Hell's Kitchen (and most restaurants, for that matter), was more than a little problematic.
    • Louis from Season 8 hates being talked down to or condescended. The fact that the person who happened to be talking down to him was Raj only made things worse.
    • Season 9's Elise seems to be INSTALLING Berserk Buttons on her fellow chefs; roughly half a dozen people (at least half of the Red Team plus Sous Chef Andi, and Gordon himself) over the course of the season have flipped their shit at her.
      • It also doesn't help that Elise's attitude seems to be "just do what I say". Whenever someone complains about her, she shouts them down and lists all the things she did right. She focuses more on getting things done for the sake of completing services instead of actually listening to her team so she can work more efficiently with them.
      • She almost got Will to quit, she was so hideous to work with.
      • And to top this off, when Jennifer was eliminated, Elise tried to get in some snide comments about her skills compared to Jennifer before Jennifer walked out to put her down even further. The men had to tell Elise it wasn't the right time to be making such comments, but Elise's facial expression was still pretty smug. To rub even more salt in the wounds, Elise tried to be "sincere" by wishing Jennifer good luck in the future but she responded back with " fuck you" and giving her the middle finger.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Jean-Philippe, the maître d', is normally cool and sophisticated, but when you get on his bad side, he can be truly scary, as Francisco the party planner and Season 6's Van found out first-hand.
    • The latter gave us this line: Listen! LISTEN TO ME! (starts at 5:14)

 Kevin: He's going to fucking hit him! D:

Jim: Hit him! :D

    • Jennifer from Season 9 became this halfway through the show. Usually the chefs who are a pushover will get eliminated by Ramsay, but Jennifer has not only been an excellent chef, but capable of getting Elise to shut her mouth.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Plenty of examples, most notably the Season 3 women (apart from probably Julia and Bonnie), who Chef Ramsay nicknamed "Hell's bitches" after their first service crashed and burned due to the team's constant infighting.
    • Julia fully became one when she returned for the finale to help out, where she displayed a horrible attitude and did not show a single one of her skills in the kitchen that got her so far in the first place, showcasing (and yet denying) a clearly bitter attitude and displaying herself a sore loser, something that turned off a lot of people who came to like her throughout the competition.
    • Sabrina, in season 8, revealed herself to be this by the second episode. A ManipulativeBitch in her own Exact Words.
  • Blatant Lies: Season 9 is full of it, from Brendan lying to Ramsay about recooking a fish to just about everything Elise says.
  • Boring Yet Practical: Season 3 had Julia, a Waffle House line cook with no formal training. The other, better-educated contestants disparaged and marginalized her abilities, but they quickly learned that her working in a hurried, high-stress hash house meant that she was perfectly equipped to kick serious ass in Hell's Kitchen. End result: the "mere" Waffle House cook made it to the final four and earned some of the most glowing praise Gordon Ramsay has ever given a contestant on this show. Heck, he even paid for her to go to culinary school after the show.
  • Breather Episode: For the chefs at least. On occasion when the chefs do exceptionally well, Ramsay will decide not to eliminate anyone as reward for their hard work. Of course, they aren't told this until after the nominations are made and he's asked them who and why they've decided to put up.
  • The Bus Came Back: In episode 13 of Season 9, a team of "All-Stars" comprised of former Black Team competitors from previous seasons is brought in to challenge the current team. Season 5's Ben, Season 6's Tennille and Van, and Season 8's Jillian and Trev competed, but ultimately lost to the Season 9 Black Team of Will, Jennifer, Paul, Tommy, and Elise.
  • Butt Monkey: Ben from Season 4. Initially, Ramsay didn't treat him any better or worse than the other chefs on his team... until a few weeks in, when Ben started giving Bobby high-fives and congratulating him, despite the blue team being nowhere near finishing service. Ramsay came within an inch of eliminating Ben for that reason alone, and for the remainder of Ben's time on the show he would always get the worst of any punishment the blue team was given, along with even more ear-bashings than usual in the kitchens. Eventually, the blue team lost a service, and Ramsay threw Ben out without even bothering to let him explain why he should stay.
    • Raj from season 8 — just wow.
    • Also from season 8 there was Trev, who was kind of the underdog. Ramsay seemed to like him tolerably well (he made it to the final four), but he consistently received very little respect from his competitors. In one episode all 4 girls chose to vote him out from the Black Team, but Ramsay saved him and sent Vinny home instead.
  • Camp Gay: Francisco, the party planner. To quote Season 5's LA, he's parade gay.
  • Catch Phrase: "I'm going to do something I've never ever done before."
    • "ALL OF YOU! GET OUT!"
  • Caught on Tape: In season 9, Elise got caught in at least two lies when Chef Ramsay checked the tape. Once, she accused Tommy of scoring the Beef Wellington wrong when the tape clearly showed that not only did he not score it, he told Elise he wasn't going to do it.
  • Celebrity Edition: Inverted — the UK version has been a celebrity-only affair since day one. The US version, on the other hand, changed it into a normal "talent search" type of reality show.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Sara from Season 2, who openly admitted that she was willing to totally screw over her team (and actually did so on at least one occasion) if it would make her look better as a result.
    • Sabrina from season 8, whose favorite tactic when she was up for elimination was to stress why she felt someone else should leave.
      • Joanna from Season 3 was also fond of doing this. Unfortunately for her, it blew up spectacularly in her face the second time she tried to do it, resulting in her being kicked out.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Season 8's Raj. SO much. Between his weird yoga/karate moves, wide-eyed disbelief at common occurrences, and near-total inability to execute in the kitchen, it was a mystery how he even got to be a contestant in the first place. He simply didn't appear to be operating on the same plane of existence as the other humans on the show.

 Chef Ramsay (after Raj has given him raw salmon, again): It's raw!

Raj: That's weird.

    • Tommy from Season 9 has some moments of this as well.

  Tommy: I don't really think when I do things, I just do them.

      • Unlike Raj, Tommy was a halfway competent chef, for the most part.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Chef Ramsay. Oh my God, Chef Ramsay. Several of the contestants have also had their moments (especially Rock from Season 3, who went on this huge angry rant about losing a challenge).
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: The main kitchen's divided into 2 equally-outfitted sections, one side for each team. Each team's jackets match its respective color (either red or blue), as well. When the teams are allowed to design their own menus late in the season, each diner is asked to choose the various courses from only one team. When the remaining chefs advance to becoming the Black Team, the new jackets are the first reminder that they must now work together.
  • Compensating for Something: Craig was accused of this by Ramsay in Season 4, due to the ridiculously large chef's hat he wore during the signature dish tasting. Considering his behavior later in the season, especially in the week that saw him eliminated, Ramsay may have been right on the money here.
  • Confession Cam: Every contestant. In Season 1, Gordon and Jean-Phillipe also were in it.
  • Control Freak: Just about every season has one. You can tell because when a challenge based on team creativity comes up, they'll try to (or will) dominate the menu with their own ideas while dismissing the contributions of their teammates.
    • And half the time, it will blow up in their faces and send them right off the show.
    • Actually a large source of the show's drama (or hilarity) often comes from when there is a team project and one or more people want to be the "big star" who is getting all the praise, inevitably screwing over their entire team.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: This happens in the signature dish tasting on occasion. Notable ones include Seth in Season 5 (ratatouille with honey in it), and Matt from Season 4 (diver scallops, venison, caviar, lime zest, olive oil, capers, and white chocolate - this one actually made Chef Ramsay throw up). Antonia's Mardi Gras Gumbo is also an excellent example of this, making Chef throw up as well.
    • Also when there's a challenge and the chefs try something new. For example when Ralph in season 1 attempted a dish of white peaches placed on grilled ribeye steak.
      • This was subverted in Season 6 when the men served up a dish consisting of haddock, apples, tomatoes, angel hair pasta and figs... and actually won the challenge. Granted, they were helped by the usually competent Ariel screwing up the women's dish by adding a disgustingly overpowering garlic dressing, but the men were stunned by how well their dish worked, as was Chef Ramsay.
      • To elaborate on the situation, the challenge was that you had to roll a dice with a letter on it, and name an ingredient starting with that letter. The women's team ended up with a fantastic assortment of rabbit and appropriate condiments, while the guys got the jumbled mess above, mostly because Dave called out figs as the second ingredient (he wasn't able to think of anything else), after which the rest of the men just called out whatever the hell they felt like, feeling that there was no way they were going to win. However, the tomato and fig sauce that Kevin came up with actually tasted very good, and the combination of that and Ariel's monumental screw-up with the garlic carried the men through to victory.
    • During the challenge in Season 4 when the teams had to make dishes for a prom, Matt suggested that the blue team should make a sushi pizza on a tortilla. Thankfully, they shot him down.

  Bobby: There is something wrong with your brain!

  • Crazy Enough to Work: After the sixth service of Season 4, it was obvious that Matt was about to get kicked off the show, until he suddenly asked Ramsay to move him over to the women's team, saying that the men's team would fail without him there. Ramsay actually took Matt up on the offer and kept him in the show, probably for the entertainment factor of what he thought would happen next — only for Matt to turn in his best-ever performance, while the men crashed and burned, causing Matt's arch-rival Ben to get booted out.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Corey from Season 4, who started off as one of the biggest bitches ever seen on the show, but gradually softened over the course of the season, eventually culminating in her nominating herself for elimination so as to stop Jen's plan to get Christina and Petrozza eliminated (Jen herself ended up being the one who was eliminated that week).
  • Determinator: Dave from Season 6. He hurt his (off-hand) wrist in Episode 3, and kept on going despite the obvious disadvantage of reduced mobility in one hand AND the occasional nerve pains he gets if he tries to lift something too heavy. In Episode 13 Gordon expressed real concern for Dave's well-being, and Dave's response was (paraphrased): "Chef, if you don't think I'm a good enough chef that's fine, but please don't get rid of me because of my wrist." Gordon listened. And then Dave went on to win it.
    • Doubles as Badass since Dave managed to keep it under wraps during the entire show and a Crowning Moment of Awesome when Gordon later called out another chef for a similar injury (it was Andy). He had cut off the tip of his finger by accident during prep and claimed that he lacked a finger and was handicapped. Gordon spectacularly exploded in his face about how Dave had been working with an injured hand for the past few episodes and didnt complain.
    • When Heather from Season 2 got injured, while she was sitting off to the side, she single-handedly directed the rest of the kitchen to make sure her food got out. Not only did she go on to win Season 2, she actually returned in Season 6 as one of Ramsay's sous chefs! Epic win!
  • Did Not Do the Research: Many chefs seem to have serious issues with the notion of being ordered around by a head chef that, shock, horror, isn't American, even though it isn't exactly hard to work out Ramsay's nationality. Sometimes they even let rip with blatantly racist insults to Ramsay's face (incredibly, no one has yet been eliminated for doing so).
    • While obviously a result of casting/recruitment choices, a fair number of the chefs (expecting to become an executive chef of a major restaurant) come to the competition not knowing fundamental cooking skills. Not fancy dishes or styles of presentation, how to keep desserts from sticking to the pan, how to evenly cook meat (i.e., NOT RAW), how to boil pasta properly.
    • Season 8 has Trev, who incorrectly made a salad. There is something to be said for a chef who believes themselves great and can't make salad.
    • Siobhan from Season 7 went on a furious anti-French rant after her last service, because she hated Benjamin who had trained in classical French cuisine. Evidently she never bothered to look into Chef Ramsay's background — in particular, the fact that he learned to cook in Paris.
    • And of course, all the people that claim to be huge fans of Chef Ramsay, but don't seem to know his triggers (overly spicy food, messy stations), don't know the basics of Hell's Kitchen (menu staples, how the eliminations work), or that his cooking knowledge is fairly easy to come by. (Want to watch twenty videos of him making various dishes? Hit up youtube, short segments of him giving how-tos on any number of things will flood your screen at any search for "Gordon Ramsay".)
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Season 8, episode 12 has Trev staring at newly makeover-ed Gail.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Chef Ramsay generally sounds more urgent calling for the waiter than he does calling for the bouncer.
  • Does Not Understand Sarcasm: In the steakhouse service of Season 5, Ramsay sarcastically congratulated Seth on his butchering of the filet mignon, which he had carved about half of the meat off of while trying to prepare it. Seth somehow thought he was being complimented, even though Ramsay had just screamed at him, thrown a pile of wasted meat right at him, and his team-mates had commented on how badly he'd screwed up.

 Gordon: How could you do that?

Seth: I uh, never butchered a filet before chef.

Gordon: Congratulations, you just have.

Seth: Thank you, chef-

Gordon: Hey smartass, not in the right way you fucking bozo!


 Ramsay: Gentlemen, clearly comfortable with your meat. Tennille, how thick do you like your sausage?

Tennille: Chef, I don't like sausage.

Ramsay: Van, the secret of a good sausage is what?

Van: Hold it steady, then pump it slow and easy...

    • Season 8, episode 4. Trevor asks if Gail wants to make out with him, and she replies with "No, not really.". Cut to the narrator saying "Trev may not have got lucky last night, but tonight both teams are hoping to score."
    • Season 8, episode 11. "Trev has succesfully tossed Sabrina's salad."
  • Down to the Last Play: So many challenges come down to the wire that it can't be a coincidence.
    • The most blatant case was an individual dish cooking challenge, which was graded by five judges using a hundred point scale. Even with that, the difference between the top two contestants' scores was a mere one. If a viewer needed irrefutable proof over the staged nature of the show, this is it.
    • Not to say that there aren't any challenges where one team doesn't just destroy the other one. Seasons 3 and 8 both had challenges where the teams had to serve breakfast, and on both occasions the blue team served absolutely nothing and had to have the red team take over their service. Also in Season 8, the teams were serving up dishes to a prom committee, and all three of the blue team's dishes sucked, resulting in an easy victory for the red team.
      • A similar situation happened in Season 9 for a High School Reunion: One chef from each team was taken to meet with the planners and get information from the ladies on what the menu should be. Paul from the Blue team got it all down, but Elizabeth from the red team apparently missed every cue, including the fact that the event was going to have a Hawaiian theme (she told her team to cook Asian), and that one of the women couldn't eat red meat. Needless to say, the blue team won.
      • The first two challenges of season 10 have had the blue team lose by more than one point; the final score was 5-3 in the signature dish challenge and then a whopping 6-2 in the scallop challenge.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Oh, you know who I'm talking about.
    • Sometimes early in the season, usually the second or third episode, Ramsay likes to get real drill sergeants to bust into the dorms at 4 or 5 A.M. and give the aspiring chefs a wake-up call. If he can't get them, he'll just have the sous chefs do it.
  • Dude, Not Funny: Invoked by Ramsay every time a cook laughs mid-tirade.
  • Dumb Blonde: Sharon from Season 4, Colleen from Season 5, and Stacey from Season 7. Arguably Sabrina from Season 8 as well; she did have some degree of cooking skill and didn't appear to be totally stupid, but didn't come off as very intelligent either.
    • Carrie from season 9 is showing signs of possibly being this as well.
    • Subverted by Bonnie from Season 3. Although it was easy to write her off as a dumb blonde to start with, her early problems were caused more by her inexperience and nervousness, the latter of which was excacerbated by having to work with the "Hell's bitches" of that season. In less stressful situations she actually appeared to be fairly intelligent and knowledgable — notably she appeared to be the only person on her team with any real idea of how to properly cook the duck breast in the wedding challenge (and thus was completely ignored by Melissa). She went on to finish second.
    • Averted by Amanda from Season 6 who, despite being probably the dumbest contestant ever to appear on the show (or at least the most ditzy), was actually a redhead.
    • Season 9's Elizabeth. During the episode when they were to prepare dishes for a high school reunion, she completely screwed her team by telling them to create Asian dishes instead of the requested Hawaiian, and by mixing pork and fish in a dish when they specifically requested that fish not be included with any other meats.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Season 1 had the chefs assigned to the blue and red teams randomly, rather than the men being in the blue team and the women in the red team; the chefs generally didn't have any professional cooking experience (apart from Michael, Ralph and Chris), and Chef Ramsay couldn't override the team's choices for elimination. The first two seasons also took place in a different building with two floors in the dining room, and all the chefs left by the back door, rather than just the ones who were thrown out mid-service.
    • There was also a difference in how elimination nominees were decided. In earlier seasons, Ramsay would just pick whoever had been the least bad performer as the Best of the Worst and get them to decide on the nominees. Starting at around Season 5 however, Ramsay largely dispensed with the Best of the Worst role (only assigning it when some turned in an exceptionally good performance compared to the rest of their team) and almost always had the nominees decided on by team consensus.
      • As of this typing, no single chef has been singled out as the Best Of The Worst in season 9, so Ramsey may have done away with it permanently.
    • Up until Season 5, at least a third of the contestants in each season were people without any real professional cooking experience. However, Ramsay got sick of people who constantly tried to use their lack of kitchen experience as a crutch for their mistakes (Jeff from Season 1, Ben from Season 4 and Lacey from Season 5 being particular offenders), and so starting with Season 6, the rules were changed so that only people with at least two years of professional experience under their belt are allowed to apply to be on the show. Oddly enough, were the current rules enforced throughout the show's history, Season 4 winner Christina wouldn't even have been allowed to apply for the show when she did.
  • Eat That: Some of the punishments for losing challenges involve this. One punishment in season 6 was having to drink a blended mix of several fine-dining dishes.

 Dave: You're not supposed to drink duck.

    • In the more recent seasons, this form of punishment has seemed to completely vanish. Most likely due to the losers really not being able to eat something that gross for so long without feeling ill.
      • It returned with a vengeance in Season 8; firstly the red team had to eat a meal featuring the grossest seafood imaginable (although Gail wasn't actually disgusted at all by the seafood, which she commonly ate when she was younger), and then a few episodes later they had to eat a plate full of flowers filled with insects.
      • Also in the first episode of season 8 when Antonia's signature dish of gumbo [1] made Ramsay throw up, he forced everyone else to taste it before he threw it away.
      • And another return in season 9. When the red team lost a meat grilling challenge, they were forced to drink a blended up mix of all the meat they ruined. Even the sight of it was Nausea Fuel for some contestants.
      • Season 10 continues the tradition in the 2nd episode by forcing the losing mens' team to drink blended scallops.
        • On the same episode, they were forced to eat overcooked scallops mid-service.
  • Elimination Catchphrase: "Take off your jacket and leave Hell's Kitchen." If you really mess up, it's just "GET OUT!!" (The latter only applies to a failing cook being evicted from the dinner service. Removal from the entire competition is formalized at the standard ritual.)
  • Epic Fail:
    • Season 3, episode 5 had a challenge where the teams had to present dishes for the menu of a wedding reception. How it turned out has to be seen to be believed.
      • Worse still, the "lame duck" wasn't even cooked properly.
    • The aforementioned Jason and the souffles incident. Now wonder Ramsay had a headache.
    • From the same season, three words: Matt's Exotic Tartare. Probably the only dish in the series where Ramsay actually vomited rather than just spit out.
      • At least until Season 8, where Antonia's signature dish provoked the same reaction from Ramsay. Only this time he decided to share the pain by getting the other contestants to taste it.
    • From Season 5, Colleen's risotto. How can you mistake sugar for salt?
    • Also from Season 5, Ben trying to serve cheesecake and brownies before the appetizers were even served.
    • Note to Season 7's Andrew, adding fresh mashed potatoes will not fix diluted mash potato soup.
      • And then Salvatore went and did the same thing with rice for the risotto.
    • Season 6's Louie being kicked out in the middle of the first service.
    • Melinda throwing away not just one, but many servings of capellini. That "deer-in-the-headlights" look doesn't help one bit.
    • Most of J's performance in his final service (which he was kicked out of halfway through) falls under this trope, but the crowning glory had to be when Chef Ramsay discovered that he had hugely overcooked the rice for the service's risotto. All of it. Even the red team's supply of rice. This led to the risotto having to be taken off the menu for that night, and even Ramsay was stunned at how J had managed to screw over both the blue and red teams in one go.
    • Season 8's Melissa, managing to completely destroy the red team's entire supply of steak by cooking it too early. She somehow avoided being eliminated that episode, and the following episode she was shuffled over to the blue team... where she managed to destroy their entire supply of scallops in a similar fashion. This time, she didn't survive.
    • The High School Reunion challenge in Season 9. The red team, due to Elizabeth's leadership, missed every single cue from the committee tasting the dishes: they made Asian dishes instead of Hawaiian, and added bacon to a seafood dish after specifically being told that one of the guests didn't eat meat. As a result, the blue team won the challenge in one of the few shut-outs in Hell's Kitchen.
    • Season 4's blue team managing to serve a grand total of zero dishes before all the diners had walked out of the first service.
      • And Season 9's blue team serving the same number of entrees in their first service, with three chefs getting sent to the new table in the kitchen due to failing badly.
      • Season 10's blue team managing to serve ZERO dishes(partically caused by Tavon completely butchering the blue teams supply of scallops). Neither team managed to send a SINGLE entree through two episodes.
  • Everybody Smokes: Practically every contestant is shown smoking like a chimney during the scenes filmed in the dorms.
    • Chef Ramsay has made it clear that he does not like this, as so much smoking tends to do badly for the palate and ability to properly taste food, something he knows is key to becoming a great chef. And considering how badly the classic palate testing challenge went in season 7, it only helps to prove his point. The only reason it keeps happening is because Chef Ramsay has said he has no right to forbid anyone to smoke if they want. Some fans of the show also tend to find the constant smoking a turn-off.
    • Made even more ironic in that, if you put in the contestants of all seasons together and count all the ones that don't smoke with the fingers of both hands, you'll likely have fingers remaining. In the fourth episode of the eighth season, he asked the chefs who were smokers and about half of them (including the entire blue team apart from Rob and Russell) copped to it. He then issued them a challenge — to see if they could stop for 48 hours. Some are managing it, so far, but at least a couple had already fallen off the wagon before service even started.
  • Executive Meddling: So many things on the show are seemingly staged that you can't help but wonder if everything is all just an act. Between the challenges always coming down to the wire with the scoring, chefs that snap and curse out Gordon Ramsay that should have gotten them kicked out (rarely does it happen), and chefs that are completely incompetent and can't cook simple meals but are rarely put up for elimination, the show could just be a glorified soap opera with chefs. Regardless, who wouldn't want to watch the chefs be yelled at and be thankful that it isn't them up there?
    • Every season seems to have one universally-hated, loudmouthed, designated "villain" contestant who lies, cheats, back-stabs, and connives (e.g., Season 8's Sabrina, Season 9's Elise). They may have some talent, but nowhere NEAR the amount they'd need to be bringing to the table in order to balance out the ordeal they are to put up with. And you can almost always bet that Ramsay will keep this contestant for FAR longer than seems strictly reasonable. Reason being, villains engender vitriol, vitriol begets inter-chef blow-ups, and drama is good for promos. That said, Ramsay never, EVER lets any of them win.
      • On top of this, most of the villains on the show do have a good amount of cooking skills but severely lack teamwork skills, which is the source of all the drama. These types of chefs usually hang around the longest as if Ramsay wants to see them bond with their team and work together so their skills can be put to further use.
  • Evil Gloating: Done crazily by Season 4's Jen, of all people.
  • Face Palm: Ramsay uses this A LOT.
    • This includes the epic *headdesk* from Season 4.
    • The chefs also do this on their Confession Cam whenever they complain about their teammates.
  • Fan Disservice: They aren't shy about letting us watch the chefs change in the dorms, but how many of them do you actually want to see shirtless?
    • Robert's pants-splitting incident in Season 5. At least he isn't in the habit of going commando.
  • Fan Service: Holli was something nice to look at in Season 7.
    • Autumn was pretty easy on the eyes too.
  • Far East: One of the contestants in season 8 expressed worry at having to make sushi because they had "never even eaten Chinese food" before.
    • Another example from the same challenge: one chef was excited to be paired with Gail to make sushi, since Gail is Asian and "logically" should be good at sushi. The chef never bothered to learn that Gail is Filipino, not Japanese, and the two went on to produce the Red Team's worst sushi.
    • In season 9, Elizabeth remarked on the Hawaii themed food they were to be making, saying that while she's never made Hawaiian food before, she has made Asian food and they're the same thing (or basically the same).
  • Funny Foreigner: Not only does Belgian Jean-Phillippe have some of the show's funniest moments, but Season 7's Italian contestant Salvatore had some too, despite living in the States for 20+ years.
  • The Generic Guy: There's one or two on every team.
  • Genre Blind: Every season, when it gets down to the final three, Chef Ramsay gives the remaining contestants a turn running the kitchen. Every single time he has done this, he has had sous chef Scott intentionally sabotage at least two of the meals, to make sure that they're paying attention. Rarely has anyone ever caught on to this. In more recent seasons, the second affected chef tends to notice, if only because Ramsay yells so loudly at the first one.
    • Averted in Season 2, where all three chefs caught the sabotaged dishes, and Season 6 where Kevin and Ariel also caught them. Backfired in the case of Season 5's Andrea, who reacted to nearly every dish from Sous Chef Scott as if it were intentionally sabotaged.
    • More than that, no one who competes on the show ever seems to have watched it. People who know they did horribly themselves will try to steer the nomination to someone else (ignoring that Ramsay doesn't really care who's nominated, and will often get angrier if the people who don't deserve it are put up), trying to sneak mistakes they know they made past him (despite the fact that even if he doesn't catch it, the food's almost sure to be sent back), talking back or taking breaks, and in general doing everything that anyone who's watched even a half season of the show would know not to do.
    • Risotto, seared scallops, spaghetti, and beef Wellington have been on the menu since the show started, and yet no one ever seems to be able to make them properly. However, beef Wellington is notoriously difficult to cook properly.
    • The meat station has seen the demise of many a candidate, including Rachel from Season 2, Lacey from Season 5, and Louie and Tek in Season 6. You'd think that aspiring contestants would make sure that they know how to cook meat inside and out, but every season it seems that at least one candidate fatally screws up on that section, and even complains about how unfair Ramsay's being by forcing them to do meat.
    • The candidates typically fail to realize that every square inch of their entire work and living space is wired for sound and video, and their every action can be considered as part of the same absurdly lengthy, high-profile job interview. As such, shadiness, backroom deals, hastily-concealed screw-ups and temporary alliances can and WILL be exploited by Chef Ramsay. Sometimes, it's obvious he's even been up in his office watching the feeds prior to the carpet-call eliminations, as he will put people on the spot completely on the fly based on things they did or said during their post-service pow-wows (though he usually does this in a way that is much less-obvious to the contestants than it is to the viewer due to selective post-editing that emphasizes significant moments).
  • Genre Savvy: When Gina gets nominated early into Season 9, she admits that she screwed up that evening's dinner service, and says she knows Chef doesn't want to hear excuses like "I'm a team player" or "I'm going to keep fighting", which is what nearly everyone says when they're up for nomination.
    • Tommy has also used Genre Savvy to explain his motivations, Lampshading it and explaining he knows Chef wants to hear that he messed up and he'll fix it.
    • Tommy finished defending himself from one of Elise's false accusations in episode 11 by asking Chef Ramsay to "play the replay". The resulting Flashback Cut did indeed clear his name.
  • Gentle Giant: Season 3's Aaron Song.
  • Get Out!: Amusingly, Gordon Ramsay is such a talented chef that he can even serve up this phrase in a variety of different flavors.
  • Gratuitous French: Season 7's Benjamin tended to say, "Oui, Chef," to Ramsay.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Eldritch Abomination Benjamin in Season 7, after winning the first individual challenge of the competition. His reward? A haircut, new clothes, and a photo shoot. The difference it made was astonishing.
    • He claimed in the interview that followed that his post-makeover appearance was actually the way he used to look at culinary school, but that his wife actually prefers the "Shaggy look" that he first came onto the show with.
    • Season 5 winner Danny returned for Hell's Kitchen's 100th service in Season 8, sporting a new, much shorter haircut. Granted, he wasn't too bad-looking to begin with, but it certainly made him look much better.
  • Heroic BSOD: One service during season six got so bad that Ramsay actually just sort of stopped bothering, and wandered out of the kitchen and out of the restaurant, to walk around on the street saying over and over to a sous chef and the camera crew that he couldn't believe it had gotten so terrible.
  • Hide Your Gays: Averted: there are many gay contestants, and an out lesbian actually won Season 2. At least three of the four red team sous chefs have also been lesbians.
  • History Repeats: Season 9's Will competed in another competition called Chopped in 2009, ending up eliminated in second place that episode. 2 years later, competing on Hell's Kitchen, he made it to the finale...only to again finish in second place.
  • Hopeless Auditionees: Most contestants on the show come from backgrounds that make them seem as if they should theoretically be good chefs, even if the reality is somewhat different. On the other hand, some of the contestants (such as Season 4's Dominic and Season 6's Louie) can't even boast this, coming from backgrounds that would not make them capable in any way, shape or form of running a fine dining restaurant, and it's not hard to imagine that the producers have deliberately put them in there as fall guys.
    • In one case the contestant was a cooking teacher, but never attended culinary school. Ramsay pretty much lampshaded her chances in the first episode (but didn't bring it up again until she was eliminated).
  • Humiliation Conga: Sometimes, it seems like Ramsay and the sous chefs will almost randomly decide there's a little more salt that can be rubbed in the wound of losing a challenge, leading to almost ridiculous levels of degradation.
    • Almost literally true after season 8's second reward challenge: the winning team hurried to get dressed for a wine tasting in San Francisco, while the losers began their punishment preparation work. Immediately after one of them asks if the men have left yet, the men jubilantly file into the main kitchen and strut past the women towards the exit, boasting of their success ("wasabi!").
    • In Season 9, the Red Team screws up one of their services so badly that Ramsay not only shuts them down, but forces them to personally apologize to every customer on the Red side of the restaurant for failing to cook their food.
  • Hypocrite: Season 9's Elise, nearly ALL THE TIME. She is the next listed trope hard and regularly refuses to work with the rest of her team and blames them for her mistakes. She claims time and again to want to work as a team, nominates teammates for elimination because they're not team players, and yet expects to get her own way all the time. At one point, when the black team had formed, Elise practically begged the men on her team to not vote her off, even though she has been a constant problem for nearly everyone.
    • During the final four, she noted on the confession cam that Paul and Will were shouting at the other chefs too much when they had control of the pass, which she feels is not good leadership and does not help productivity...what does she think Ramsay does every night? It's also her first mode of 'debate' second to breaking out into tears/sulking whenever she loses. She also (likely intentionally) sabotaged the garnish she brought up to Will, which resulted in the kitchen grinding to a halt because nothing could go out while she did it over, and she accused him of being a bad leader for allowing it to happen.
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends
    • This is arguably a case of Wrong Genre Savvy, since teamwork is very important in this show. See season 7 for example. The blue team got along fine and won pretty much everything, the red team was heavily divided and kept losing.
      • Season 8 moved in the same direction, except with the red team working together half-decently and the blue team fighting a lot. Except for Sabrina, who basically hated all of her teammates, the women more or less got along.
      • Both teams in season 9 are showing signs of this. The men have improved since Ramsay moved Natalie over to their team to whip them into shape, but the women are still having issues, largely due to the high levels of tension between Carrie and Elise.
      • Elise actually says this, word for word, to the Confession Cam at one point.
        • Sadly, Elise was very close to turning this into Genre Savvy before failing at that. What she said was actually more to the tune of "I'm not here to make friends; we can work in the kitchen, but I'll you out once we're done." Which, if she followed through with more than once every five services would have been a good effort. But most of them time she was never able to keep her hatred for Carrie hidden.
  • Insane Troll Logic: In the first service of Season 3, Vinnie tried to use water to flavor the risotto, since he had run out of vegetable stock. In the following Confession Cam insert, Vinnie explained in pretty much the most condescending tone possible that "vegetables are made of water, and stock is made from water," hence it was the right thing to do. Needless to say, Chef Ramsay disagreed with Vinnie, and demoted him to dishwasher for the rest of the service.
  • It Got Worse: It usually does. Chef Ramsay has two options, depending on how bad it gets: Forge on, or shut the kitchens down. Hilarity Ensues.
    • As of the ninth season, there's a new option: send out shrimp cocktails. The contestant chefs got it good for forcing him to do that. Luckily, that's a desperation tactic.
    • And as bad as any punishment gets, it can always get a little bit worse.
    • Hey, season six Blue Team! Half your team is impaired, including one twisted ankle and one fractured wrist, and you just had a teammate eliminated to bring you down to three! Think it couldn't get any worse? Well guess what! Chef Ramsay is going to take the single most disruptive chef from the Red Team, the one that sank them repeatedly, the one they all hated, the one that repeatedly got put up for elimination for screwing the team, and she's gonna be on your team now!
    • And if the show follows season 5, the same team sinker will eventually be punted back to the red team.
  • In Vino Veritas: S7 Ed's personality completely changes if he's drunk.
  • Jerkass: Many, many Jerkasses on this show. Prominent examples include Jason and Jen from Season 4, Andrea from Season 5, Joseph from Season 6, and Benjamin from Season 7. What also doesn't help is that the good majority of the Jerkasses are the ones who can cook well, but are horrible with getting along with the team, prolonging their stay in Hell's Kitchen.
    • Joseph was so bad that he was suspected to be a plant, though one thinks that if that was the case, he would have hung around for several episodes instead of blowing his stack and getting kicked off at the end of the second episode.
    • Sabrina in Season 8 tried to get teammate Nona eliminated in the first episode because she snores (and because she made fried chicken, which Sabrina felt did not count as a good dish).
    • Russell from Season 8 was just as bad, if not worse (he cranked the factor up halfway through the season). He was probably the most talented chef in the competition, but by the final dinner service everyone despised him so much that Nona's brigade was fired up at the prospect of beating him, and Russell's brigade clearly put minimal effort into cooking for him. Russell even vowed to blackball the chefs he picked for causing him to lose (even though he did plenty to lose it himself, like trying to fire two tables at once and nearly getting in a fight with Rob). Classy to the end.
    • Season 9's Elise definitely takes the cake. Her irrational hatred of Carrie as well as her tendency to blame others for her mistakes and never take responsibility for her own made her extremely unpopular among her fellow chefs, as well as the audience. When Jennifer was eliminated (the two never got along to begin with), Elise mouthed off about how much of a better chef than she was, causing Jennifer to curse Elise out and flip her off when she walked off. Heck, Ramsay himself looked on with this in shock!
    • Two minor ones were Joanna and Tiffany in Season 3. They were pretty good, but they constantly picked on the Waffle House Chef Julia to the point that Tiffany even stated in confession that the only reason that Julia had to be eliminated was because she "works in a fuckin' Waffle House! I mean, come on" as the sole reason to eliminate her, despite Julia saving Tiffany's ass in cooking quail eggs. Joanna might be even more so, seeing that she was at least three years younger than Julia herself!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Chef Ramsay is a genuinely nice person, and when they do a proper job he tells the chefs so and applauds them. He's just rather foul-mouthed and does not suffer fools. Word of God is that he tries very hard to keep in touch with most contestants: "...when you have to release that talent, it gets quite emotional because they’ve become part of your brigade, they’ve become a pillar in that brigade."
    • Season 5's Ben. Sure, he was rude to Danny on occasion, but that was mainly because Danny called himself a better cook than Ben and even called him the worst cook of the remaining members of the blue team at one point, so it's natural that he'd feel at least a little insulted by that. His heart of gold comes through when he puts their differences aside and tries his best to help Danny win the last dinner service rather than being apathetic about the whole thing like Lacey or Giovanni. Furthermore, he consistently tried to rally faltering teammates (even Lacey). He was by no means the best chef, but Ben did aim to help.
    • One of the past contestants who was eliminated was Julia, a line cook who was clearly very talented, but lacked the technical knowledge to keep up with the show's challenges. When she was eliminated, Ramsay actually recommended her to a culinary school and paid for her tuition there as well.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: The show's theme song, "Fire" by the Ohio Players, gets this when the show is rebroadcast outside of the US. It's also used on the DVD releases, as they apparently couldn't get the rights to use it on them.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Season 7's Scott, while holding a speech about how he's the best in his team.
    • Perhaps a case of Poetic Justice, since right before that he had cut off Siobhan's attempt at explaining why she should stay, so that he could tell Chef Ramsay at length how she sucked and deserved to go.
      • To be fair, he was 100% correct in what he was saying about Siobhan, if not exactly the manner in which he chose to say it.
      • Ironically, it happened to Siobhan herself two episodes later. She started to justify why she should stay despite fouling up horribly on the fish station, but Chef Ramsay flat-out told her that there was nothing she could say in her defense, and eliminated her there and then.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A common theme in this show is that Elimination Houdinis who get into the later rounds solely because they manage to take advantage of other contestants' failures eventually recieve their long awaited elimination due to the fact that they simply run out of people to blame for their mistakes or to hide behind.
  • Lethal Chef: All the time. Expect some bad fire to be in the kitchen, or Gordon's remarks on how someone could die or be sent to the hospital because of a fatal mistake.
  • Lighter and Softer: For each of a season's last few dismissed contestants, Chef Ramsay offers some encouraging remarks and respectful compliments on what had gone well. Apparently, he feels that advancing so far merits such treatment.
  • Logic Bomb: Tony in Season 6:

 I always season it. I didn't season it, though.

  • Long Speech Tea Time: Nearly every time Gordon Ramsay asked season 5's Ben what food he prepared for a challenge or, when he winds up on the chopping block, why he should stay in Hell's Kitchen, Ben would go into rants much longer than necessary as the camera often shows the disdained expression on Gordon and the other contestants' faces impatiently waiting for him to finally shut up. Parts of his rants often got cut to show the Confession Cam of the other chefs mentioning how annoying Ben's ranting is.
    • Suzanne had one in Season 6. During a challenge when the chefs had to prepare crepes, Suzanne went ON and ON about what the inspiration for her dish was. Tennille sums it up best:


    • One female contestant up for elimination went on for so long in a rambling justification of herself, wherein she essentially tried to tattle on every single other member of her team, that the camera did multiple fades showing everyone, her team, the Blue Team, and Ramsay himself bored to the point of falling asleep. When she finally paused for breath, Ramsay said "God, finally. Is that all?"... and she prepared to start up again.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Joanna in Season 3 proclaimed herself to be one of these. Unfortunately for her, the reality was somewhat different; she failed to talk Melissa out of nominating her for elimination after the first service, and then in the third service she actually talked Ramsay into kicking her out, after he pointed out that the rationale she gave for why Jen should be eliminated made her far more deserving of being kicked out.
    • Sara from Season 2 was a more successful example of this; she successfully screwed over her team on several occasions, let Chef Ramsay think others were to blame... and got away with it on virtually every occasion.
    • Sabrina in season 8, when in danger of being put up for elimination yet again, managed to corner Jillian in the restroom and persuade her to change her vote to Gail instead. However, since Nona had the final vote, Sabrina was still named as a candidate. She then tried to convince Ramsay to send Gail home instead. It didn't work.
    • Elise in Season 9 manages to convince Will and Paul to vouch for her at Jennifer's expense in the elimination segment, which they do. However, Jennifer lacked communication in that service, which is one of Ramsay's major pet peeves.
  • The Mean Scot: Chef Ramsay.
  • Mercy Kill: During the debriefing of season 6's 13th dinner service:

  Chef Ramsay, gently: "I don't want any nominations: I don't want to prolong your agony. Come here, [Tennille]... take off your jacket and leave Hell's Kitchen." After Ramsay's usual warm words of farewell, Ariel, Kevin, and Dave approach Tennille for a group hug.

  • Momma's Boy: Gordon doesn't hide the fact that he adores his mum, calling her macaroni and cheese his favorite dish ever and even reining in his foul mouth around her - as well as making the contestants do likewise when she shows up.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Season 8's Emily got plenty of screen time in episode 1. Chef Ramsay had her cover herself up, however.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Ralph in season 1 kept calling Jean-Philippe "Jean-Pierre" in the final. JP told Ralph he'd punch him if he kept it up.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Seriously, who would eat at a place called "Hell's Kitchen" anyways? That's just asking for your meal to take forever or taste like crap, because it's made in, well, Hell.
    • Actually, wouldn't Hell be pretty well equipped for cooking things quickly?
  • Never Learned to Read: Salvatore in season 7. He screwed up in giving the orders to the kitchen because since he couldn't read, he also couldn't write down what the order was. Ramsay naturally tried to insult Salvatore by asking him if he even knew how to read. Salvatore honestly replied that he could not, due to getting a job instead of going to school so that he could support his family. Ramsay was completely shocked and apologized for his rude remark.
  • Never My Fault: Elise in Season 9 constantly found ways to blame other chefs for her mistakes. This reached its head when she tried to blame Tommy, who was on the other team, for her miscooked beef Wellington because she said he was the one who cut it during prep, thereby causing it to fall apart and cook improperly--except he wasn't the one who cut it, he told her so, and a quick flashback of them doing prep showed he didn't. Chef Ramsay was not amused and called her out on it.

 "Elise, you know what's the big problem with you? Yourself. Who you going to blame, Carrie? Krupa? Jamie?"[2]

    • It gets even worse when she wins a challenge or points for the team - there's no living with her, because she has to make sure everyone knows she is the only reason they won and that it's not her fault if they didn't win.
    • Jeff from the first season constantly whined about how he'd never cooked on a line before, ergo Ramsay and the other contestants couldn't blame him when he screwed up. His team-mates eventually got so annoyed by this that they called a meeting prior to what would turn out to be his last service, and he continued to try and use this excuse even though the meeting was about him constantly doing that.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Like every other reality show before it, Hell's Kitchen follows up the end of an episode with a brief footage of next week's episode, which is just a bunch of short clips that will generate hype to get people pumped up for the next episode. Most of the time, the next episode isn't as dramatic as the trailer makes it seem to be.
    • One example was in the end of the first episode in season 6. They show a brief clip of Joesph threatening to kick Ramsay's ass * and then the trailer shows all of the chefs being evacuated due to a fire. When the next episode rolls around, Joesph doesn't do jack to Ramsay and just leaves the show. The whole fire incident was just a set up since all the firefighters came to Hell's Kitchen to be a part of the next cook off challenge for the chefs to tackle.
    • The absolute champion of misleading trailers had to be the trailer for the "4 Chefs Compete" episode of season seven. After Jay and Holli had been in a gradually intensifying relationship throughout the latter half of the season, the trailer made it seem as if Chef Ramsay would step in and force Jay and Holli to choose between breaking off their relationship or leaving the competition. There was NOTHING like this in the actual episode, the preview spliced together clips from a reward challenge, a bit of joking banter between Holly and Jay, clips from the start of that night's dinner service (where it turned out that Chef Ramsay saying "I'm going to do something I've never done before" actually meant that he was allowing the chefs to choose their stations during that night's service), and emotional clips from family reunions at the end of the episode. Even in a show already known for misleading trailers, this was just overtly blatant.
    • Several trailers during the eighth season kept baiting viewers with the idea that Sabrina will have some sort of terrible meltdown that causes Chef Ramsay to kick her out. Never quite went down that way.
    • Another complete lie from Season 8. The trailer for episode seven implies that Trev is working some type of carnival game for some young kids. He gets hit in the head with what looks like a ring toss ring, and says something that got bleeped out. Cut to him talking to the Confession Cam, suggesting that he just got in major trouble for swearing in front of children. When the episode finally comes around, there is a carnival with kids, but none of the chefs go anywhere near the kids and Trevor never gets hit in the head with anything. Of course, that scene might happen but was cut off.
    • Season 9 does this right off the bat in the preview trailers before the first episode even aired! A clip is shown of Ramsay asking Jason what he cooked up and all Jason could respond with was stammering, giving Ramsay a "what the hell?" look on his face. In the actual scene, Jason only stammered a few times like anyone else would do and actually tells Ramsay clearly on what he cooked. The editing of video and audio for previews is so blatant that the show doesn't seem to try to hide this fact anymore in its long run.
  • Nice Guys Finish Last: A firmly held belief of Chef Ramsay, to the point where he eliminated Gabe from Season 2 and Charlie from Season 5 solely because he thought they were too nice to work as head chefs. Not to say that being a total dick is the way to go in the competition, but it'll get you further than being Mr. Nice Guy.
  • No Indoor Voice: HOW MANY TIMES DID SEASON 6'S TENNILLE TALK WITHOUT SOUNDING LIKE SHE'S SHOUTING? Season 4's Jen was nearly as bad. Season 9's Elise also qualifies.
  • Non Gameplay Elimination: In recent seasons, at least one contestant typically goes down very early, and it's usually for health reasons stemming from injury or illness (e.g., Season 5's Ji, Season 8's Antonia, Season 9's Jason). Usually, a merit-based elimination is avoided in these episodes, as the MIA chef is given a cursory Hand Wave, with Ramsay saying they "will not be returning to Hell's Kitchen."
    • Subverted with Season 5's roly-poly Robert (a talented chef and a viewer favorite), who went down in episode 11 with a serious heart condition. Ramsay felt badly enough over Robert's faultless elimination that he was invited back to participate in season six. In the interim, Robert underwent gastric bypass surgery, improving his overall health. Nonetheless, Robert was once again hospitalized with cardiac symptoms in episode 6, and was eliminated in the next episode after turning in a poor performance upon his return.
    • Also subverted in season 6. The finalists Kevin and Dave both had injuries (Kevin had sprain ankles, Dave and his arm) and this was from the same episode. They somehow fought through the pain in order to fight each other one on one.
  • Oh Crap: Virtually every contestant has had one of these - usually as early as when Ramsay tastes their signature dish and declares it to be garbage.
    • Ramsay himself has the occasional "Oh Crap" moment, as he considers his reputation to be on the line at every dinner service. These are usually visible when food is returned, in the brief interval between the food being returned and Ramsay exploding at whichever chef was responsible. During one point in season 9, he got so pissed off, he was practically on the verge of crying; that's how emotional he gets about it all.
    • Season 3's Joanna when Vinnie talked back to Ramsay, right before Ramsay labelled Vinnie a "dishonest, two-faced, lazy little fucker".
    • Season 5's Ben has this expression after seeing a lot of wasted meat trimmed off the fresh fillet, no thanks to Seth.
    • Even Jean-Philippe had one in season 5's Bar Mitzvah task, after Francisco accidentally destroyed the specially-made cake that was meant for the guy having the Bar Mitzvah.
      • Even more obvious when before the Bar Mitzvah, he found out who that party planner was.
    • Season 9's Brendan had one of these when Ramsay caught him lying about the entree he had sent out.
    • In the second-last episode of Season 9, Paul actually said this out loud after Ramsay had named Will as the first finalist, and had strongly implied that Elise was the second. Fortunately though, Ramsay was just pulling one of his usual bait-and-switches; Paul was really the second finalist.
  • One Steve Limit: In Season Seven there is a Jay and a Jason. The contestant called (Blue) Jay normally goes by Jason, but became "Jay" for the show so there wouldn't be two "Jason"s on the same team.
    • Also, Sous Chef Scott and Scott with that annoying theme tune in that same season.
    • Louie from Season 6 is actually called Dave, but went by "Louie" to avoid confusion with the other, infinitely more competent Dave. Averted by Tek from the same season — her real first name is Amanda, but she never uses that name even in real-life, helping avoid any confusion with the other Amanda from that season.
    • Season 1 had two Jeffs. Jeff Lapoff was a small skinny guy with glasses. Jeff Blueberry Dewberry was a big portly manchild with a voice reminiscent of Mr. Garrison from South Park. Guess which one was referred to exclusively by his last name?
    • Season 8 had a Louis and a Lewis — different spellings, but the same pronunciation. As a result, Lewis went by his last name, "Curtis" while he was on the show. Not that it made a whole lot of difference, since both men were gone by the end of the fourth episode.
    • Likewise, Season 4's Petrozza went by his last name because his first was Louis, and one of his teammates was Louross.
  • Once Per Episode: You can expect Chef Ramsay to yell out that meat is raw at least once an episode. Also, while not once an episode, in the last three seasons, he has obliterated an undercooked fish dish at least once each season, with season 7's being the most dramatic as he yells its raw whilst punctuating each RAW with a slap on the meat.
    • Also, he will ask where something is out loud. At the rate Gordon's done it, he's pretty much close to or has surpassed Jack Bauer. It helps that this show had aired in the time slot just before 24 on some seasons.
  • Picked Last: In the final episode of each season, the two finalists get to pick who will cook for them during the final service from a selection of contestants that were eliminated previously. Expect whichever chef is picked last to require some serious soothing to their ego, if they don't just outright phone it in during the service. The prize for the final challenge is usually getting first pick of the returning chefs, meaning that you avoid getting the last pick as well. Of course, this doesn't guarantee 100% that the second-to-last pick isn't going to be bitter either.
    • Siobhan may have been a bit of an aversion in the season 7 finale: She knew she was going to be picked last but she was okay with it as long as it didn't mean being on the same team with Benjamin. However, she was horribly slow at her station to start.
    • Inverted by Keith in the Season 2 finale; he was actually picked first, and yet displayed a horrible attitude to Virginia, demanding $1,000 just so that he'd promise to give his all. Granted, this probably had something to do with the fact that Virginia had been put through to the final at his expense... and Virginia didn't really help her own cause by telling Keith that she expected him to pick up the slack if incompetent team-mates Tom and Giacomo screwed up. (Her actual strategy was to pick weaker members, save Keith, and wanted to see if she could whip them into shape. Not the best strategy.)
      • Averted by Garrett, who was actually picked last that season; mostly because he knew he was nowhere near the worst cook from that line-up, and he had a lot of respect for Heather, who got him as the last choice.
      • Also averted by Dewberry in Season 1, who had resigned himself to being picked last, but still resolved to try his hardest for his head chef, Ralph. Unfortunately, Dewberry was just as disappointing the second time round.
    • Also as a bit of an aversion, in every season except 1, 5, and 6, the person who lost the challenge, and therefore got the last pick, ended up winning the service, and the competition. Apparently, the last pick is not always a bad thing to get...
    • In the season 9 finale, Will, who won the challenge and thus got the first pick, tried to use this to his advantage: his foe Paul had already chosen Elise, and eventually the only two chefs left were Carrie, who Elise had at the top of her hit list, and Krupa, who was a trainwreck by the end of her initial run on the show. Will chose Krupa, thinking that Elise's and Carrie's bickering would cripple Paul's chances. This blew up in Will's face SPECTACULARLY: Krupa was absolutely hopeless on her station, bringing Will's kitchen to a complete halt at one point, while Elise had her best service ever and never once argued with Carrie (there was still clearly some tension, but they managed to shut up), and Paul ultimately won. Oops...
  • The Power of Friendship: Ramsay is very big on teamwork.
  • Precision F-Strike: As freely as Ramsay drops Cluster F-Bombs, he still manages this with aplomb at times. Here's a particularly awesome example from the fourth season:

 Ramsay: Tonight, there's no losing team. I can't seriously decide on a winning team on a difference of 1%.

Matt: Thank you chef, for your generosity...

Ramsay: fuck the generosity, Matt. Both teams think of one individual up for elimination to leave Hell's Kitchen tonight. Now, piss off!

    • Another good example was from Bonnie in Season 3. Unlike most of the chefs, she generally didn't use any words stronger than "crap," which made it all the more awesome when she yelled "What the fuck just happened?!" in the aftermath of the wedding challenge disaster.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Keith, a.k.a. K-Grease, from Season 2.
    • Joseph from Season 6 tried to be this, except without any hint of irony whatsoever, which had the effect of making him look and sound foolish. Well, more foolish at any rate.
  • Properly Paranoid: Suzanne from Season 6 figures out the rest of the team is out to get her.
  • Product Placement: In one season five episode, Robert made references to a couple products; While waiting on a beef dish, Ramsay repeatedly shouted "Where's the beef!?" which Robert joked in the Confession Cam reminded him of the famous Wendy's commercial. At the end of the same episode, he compared Lacey to a cockroach because she kept winding up on chopping block yet she kept somehow staying in the game, and made a reference to the pesticide, Raid. Whether this is product placement or just Robert's sense of humor is debatable.
    • Not to mention all the placement behind the contestants doing their Confession Cam. Look closely.
    • Or in their hands, the later seasons almost always show scenes with the contestants drinking the rather distinctively bottled Stella Artois brand of beer, usually while in the hot tub.
    • The Season 8 premiere featured the contestants being given their knife kits, and then they were seen complimenting them.
  • Promoted Fanboy: All chefs who say they admire Chef Ramsay in the Confession Cam count, but Seth from season 5 fit this so well he seemed almost like a Stalker with a Crush. He had memorized many details about Ramsay's private life, including the type of cars he drove, and the names of his four children.
  • Psycho Strings: These were heard when Ramsay was tasting Andrew's signature dish of steak tartare in Season 7:

  Andrew: I've raised and butchered my own animals... and I like to eat 'em raw. (Psycho Strings)

  • Rant-Inducing Slight: LA spaced out in the middle of one service during Season 5, which caused Ramsay to yell at her repeatedly until she woke up. While Ramsay was yelling at her, he called her a "silly cow," which by Ramsay's standards is a very mild insult. However, it was still enough to cause LA to go on this huge rant in the Confession Cam segment that followed, about how if anyone other than Chef Ramsay had called her a "cow," she would have beat the shit out of them there and then before walking out of the kitchen.
  • Rage Quit: Very rare, but some chefs have just gone up and quit the show when they feel they screwed up so much and/or can't handle Ramsay yelling at them, even though Ramsay doesn't tell the chef that he wants them out of the competition.
    • Dewberry nearly did this in Season 1, but he stopped short of actually walking out of the kitchen and stayed on until the end of the service... at which point Ramsay promptly threw him out anyway, for being a coward.
      • Jeff actually did quit in the next episode. After continually making mistakes and talking back to Ramsay, he eventually called him an asshole under his breath, which Maryann heard and made him repeat to Ramsay's face. Then he walked out.
    • Andrew from season 7 completely left the show after being scolded at by Ramsay for not caring enough about his cooking and how he'll never amount to anything. Jean-Philippe tried to convince Andrew to not leave, saying that Ramsay was just testing him, but Andrew pretty much said to hell with this and walked out.

 JP: What's wrong? What are you doing here?

Andrew: I'm walking out the fucking door! What does it look like I'm doing? That man asked me to leave, and you expect me to stay here?

JP: He's just testing you.

Andrew: Right, and if I go back in there, I don't want to hear him yelling at me.

JP: There are, I don't know how many people which would be willing to be in your shoes right now.

Andrew: You know what? * removes shoes* Then they can take my shoes, JP. * leaves*

    • Will in season 9 almost does this when Elise's abrasive and domineering attitude causes him to storm out of a team meeting in frustration, and even considered leaving the show.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: After Raj's appearance on the show, most Hell's Kitchen related message boards were swamped with people posting about how Raj was obviously an actor that had been planted to add some entertainment to the show by being a constant screw-up, and that the producers were a bunch of stupid assholes for thinking that anyone would believe Raj to be a real cook. A cursory bit of Googling reveals enough pages mentioning Raj prior to him appearing on the show (in some cases dating back to 2003) to show that unless Fox went to an absurd amount of trouble to make a background for someone only in the show for three episodes, Raj really is just that crazy.
    • A similar thing previously happened with Joseph in Season 6, who many accused of being hired by the producers to make a scene of himself, the most common argument being that "no real Marine would ever act so disrespectfully towards a superior." Leaving aside the fact that Joseph's service record was quickly dug up and confirmed to be real, this argument was shot down by Season 4 competitor Bobby, himself a former Marine, who revealed in an interview that in his experience 75% of ex-military men have proper respect for superiors in any job, but the other 25% act like gigantic assholes and treat all civilians without military backgrounds like garbage.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: HK is a special case, simply because what most people would consider standard practice for reality shows is does not work here. When Gordon Ramsay says "pick the weakest chef", he means the weakest chef, and will not hesitate to call you on your bullshit if you try to do otherwise. And yet, people keep trying it season after season...
    • Played straight and then averted by the red team in Season 7. In a sandwich challenge Chef Ramsay told them that because they had an extra team member, they had to drop one of their sandwiches from the contest. The team duly decided that because Siobhan was their weakest member, logically hers must be the worst. Unfortunately, it wasn't; Fran's sandwich tasted horrible and Siobhan's was decent, resulting in the red team losing the challenge. Two episodes later they had to do the same thing, but this time they had learned from their mistake and actually tasted the dishes, and correctly decided that Nilka's was the worst.
    • Unfortunately, completely averted in the case of Elise in Season 9.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Trev delivered one to Raj in Season 8. Jennifer gave a short one to Elise in Season 9.
  • Reassignment Backfire: During the final service of Season 9, Will chose Krupa to be on his team, leaving Will to take Elise and thus sticking Elise and Carrie back on the same team. This backfired horribly when Krupa managed to do absolutely horrible while Elise and Carrie didn't argue like mad, and possibly could have cost Will the competition.
  • Rule of Symbolism: During elimination, the Gate's glass doors typically have a fire pattern projected onto them, and steaming pots of water are left on the stoves visible behind the chefs. Someone entering the dining room through them is usually part of a challenge or would be the family and friends of the contestants. Late in the competition, Ramsay will invite these guests for a brief surprise visit to celebrate a great dinner service, instead of evicting anyone. That's when the pattern is or suddenly turns a much mellower dark blue.
  • The Runner Up Takes It All: Andy, who came eighth in Season 6 (after several horrible performances), who has had probably the most successful career out of any contestant from that season, owning two successful restaurants, writing two cookbooks and doing a lot of charity work for hunger relief.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Jeff from Season 1, Andrew from Season 7, and Will (he almost did) from Season 9. See Rage Quit above.
    • Even Ramsay and Sous Chef Scott went into this in Season 6 and in Season 7.
      • In normal episodes the degrees of fail would be dictated by the amount of f-bombs dropped by Ramsay and the volume of his voice. In one episode this reached to the point that Ramsay himself suffered a BSOD and quietly left the restaurant. The Oh Crap - ness of the situation did NOT go unnoticed.
  • Sequel Hook: When Julia, a Waffle House cook with no real culinary experience beyond that, was eliminated, Chef Ramsay not only sent her to culinary school, he also told her "I want you to finish culinary school, then come back and win this thing." We're still waiting, Julia!
    • To boot, he didn't just tell her to go to culinary school. He literally sent her there; he paid her entire tuition out of his own pocket because he truly believed she had a tremendous amount of potential.
  • Sexophone: Plays during a season 9 episode while Will takes (sexy) pictures of a very drunk Natalie on a pool. And appropriate, too.
  • Serious Business: Joseph mentions point blank at the reward in episode 1, season 6 that he only cares about winning and not enjoying a pleasant break that the blue team earned as a victory. Even Chef Ramsay is shocked about this.
    • The show itself in general treats cooking as serious business. Granted, it's justified in that the winner gets a quarter million dollars and a job as head chef at one of Chef Ramsay's restaurants, thus guaranteeing the winner a highly successful career, but it's still rather amusing to hear dramatic audio cues when a contestant overcooks or undercooks food.
      • However, the restaurant business is one of the hardest and most demanding, so doing something like that really is serious business. Not to mention that, by proxy of not getting picked by Ramsay to be eliminated, this is similar to Ramsay endorsing them, and if Ramsay endorses a bad chef, it looks bad on him as well.
      • The show reflects the industry, in this if not in all respects. Anybody who's worked for a chef who holds a high standard will recognize the unbelievable importance placed on things as seemingly insignificant as minced shallots and chopped chives, let alone actually sending out poorly cooked or otherwise improperly prepared food. It's something that seems absurd under examination out of context, but it's a deeply held belief of pretty much any worthwhile chef, or line cook.
  • Scenery Censor: A season 7 episode has drunk Ed butt naked in a hot tub with two girls. Trees, barrels and other scenery props cover everything.
  • Shocking Elimination: Brad from Season 3; he had been the only consistently decent performer out of the men (apart from eventual winner Rock), but after two below-par services, Chef Ramsay surprisingly chose to eliminate him over the consistently terrible Josh.
    • In fairness, when Brad was bad, he was really bad. (i.e., trying to scrape the bottom of a burnt wellington only to be caught by Ramsay and giving Ramsay an extra risotto when it wasn't ordered.)
      • Plus, Brad's elimination was partly due to the fact that he had deliberately tried to screw Josh over during that service, by refusing to help him when he was screwing up on the meat station. If Brad hadn't done that, then chances are it would have been Bonnie or Josh who was eliminated.
    • Wil from Season 5. His performance in the service was decidedly less than stellar, but he was still far better than Seth. Moreover, Wil admitted he had been a bad performer, whereas Seth seemed totally unaware of what he'd done wrong. However, Chef Ramsay decided that Wil's decision to nominate himself proved that his heart wasn't really in the competition and eliminated him, an act which shocked even the other chefs.
      • Also in that season, Charlie, again when he was put up for elimination against Seth. Despite Seth having been involved in the aforementioned filet butchering incident that week, Charlie was seemingly eliminated for being a bad waiter rather than having made any fatal mistakes in the kitchen.
      • Basically any time in season five when the elimination came down between Seth or Lacey and someone else and the person that wasn't Seth or Lacey stayed. Both contestants were useless; Seth consistently messed everything up and set the blue team back in multiple instances. Lacey was lazy, skipped her team's punishment on at least one instance, and was generally irresponsible and a terrible cook. She inexplicably started doing a lot better for a couple episodes after she was switched from the red team to the blue team and the blue team actually started winning with her, but then went back to being terrible shortly thereafter.
      • Seth was probably kept on as a Ratings Hook via Executive Meddling. People would continue to watch to see just how low Seth would sink and how much of a kissass he would act toward Ramsay.
    • Also from Season 5, when Carol, Andrea and LA were called up for elimination, LA was eliminated, even though Carol and Andrea had far worse performances than her.
    • Arguably Jim from Season 6. He had never been an especially impressive performer, but he generally wasn't too bad either, so it came as something of a shock when Ramsay suddenly eliminated him for being too laid-back, even though he hadn't been nominated that week.
    • Also, Shayna from Season 4. That very episode, Rosann sent raw steak to the birthday girl while Matt sent dried fish to the birthday girl's mom and gets his station replaced by Bobby. During elimination, all three were nominated. After a heated exchange with Ramsay, Matt concludes that he would rather work with the red team because the whole blue team hates him. Shayna was eventually eliminated for just being slow. And then Ramsay agreed with Matt and put him on the red team, much to the surprise of Corey.
      • This was probably Executive Meddling. The producers probably wanted to milk the Matt vs. Ben conflict for all it was worth. Shayna was pretty much invisible during the season.
      • And from that very season, Bobby, who was in the chopping block only once, was eliminated instead of Jen, who was in the chopping block more times than Bobby and had a much worse service than him. Strangely enough, this is the second time someone is eliminated through Ramsay asking the person nominating the two on who should be eliminated. Christina preferred Jen to go home, but Ramsay disagrees.
      • Similarly, the first time this happened, Petrozza was asked whether he wants Louross or Jen to be out. Petrozza chose fan-favourite Louross to be out because he screwed up on meat that night (this is only Louross's second bad service, by the way). Ramsay agrees, meaning that Jen, again, was safe.
    • Raj from season eight. Eliminated out of the blue despite his team winning. In fairness, he was a complete lunatic who got on with no one, couldn't follow simple instructions and almost provoked a brawl during prep.
    • Arguably Mary-Ellen's elimination over Andrew in Season 1. Granted, Mary-Ellen's performance in her final service ranks as one of the worst in the entire history of the show, but prior to that she had actually been the blue team's most consistently good performer after Michael and Ralph, the two professional chefs. Moreover, she was put up against Andrew, who had been both consistently bad in the services and repeatedly disrespectful towards Chef Ramsay.
    • Jamie being eliminated over Carrie and Elise in season 9. Jamie had some early struggle during service, burning a garnish and having a hair in the food, but was able to fight back. Carrie and Elise had both been bad enough to be sent up to the dorms, Carrie even having the gall to talk back to Ramsay before leaving. The rest of the team were clear on the nomination, pointing out to Ramsay how Carrie and Elise were bad for the team in general. Elise could at least truthfully claim being a better cook than Carrie, who had been consistently terrible for several challenges and services... only for Ramsay to send them both back in line, and to the shock of everyone throw out Jamie, claiming she was in over her head despite that being far more applicable to Carrie. Executive Meddling, the producers wanting to milk Carrie and Elise fighting for all it's worth, is the only way to explain this one.
    • One must always take into account that Chef Ramsey despises people that don't fight back. One of the worst things to be seen doing is remaining mute in the face of adversity. both Carrie and Elise vehemently defend themselves versus Jamie who sulked and hung her head in shame. See also Elizabeth's elimination when both Jennifer and Elise argue with one another. Ramsey despises quiet people.
      • Natalie being eliminated over Elise, especially after it was proven that Elise has a terrible attitude that makes her unsuitable for any leadership position, much less a head chef. True, Natalie was clearly struggling under the pressure at that point in the competition, but Elise outright lied to Ramsay's face and he called her on it. This was an offense that got Brendan kicked off the very same episode in which he tried it. Instead, Elise gets to stay to compete for another day. For many fans complaining about the show being plagued with Executive Meddling, this episode was the final nail in the coffin.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: J delivered one of these to Seth in Season 5. After Ramsay asked him for the blue team's nominees, J started to say that Seth and Charlie had been nominated, but then Seth butted in and flat-out accused J of lying, claiming that he hadn't really been nominated at all. J then cooly told Seth that Ramsay had asked him who the nominees were, and to kindly shut the hell up.
  • Spoiler Opening: Averted in Season 6, which has a separate opening exclusively for the first episode so as not to spoil the return of Robert from Season 5.
    • Perhaps not so much true for the first season, however. This season's opening introduction features Chef Ramsay looking at images of each of the chefs. When most of the chefs are shown, he seems to sort of shake his head and even grimaces in some cases, but watch carefully and you'll notice that he sort of smiles and nods when he gets the one that's the eventual winner. Additionally, one of the chefs in the sixth season of the program was labeled with "Behold! Half Man, Half Donkey" and you just know that somebody labeled in that manner is not going to be the eventual winner.
  • Springtime for Hitler: During a split service in Season 1, whereby one team would cook and the other would serve, the red team came up with the idea to make sure that the blue team were bombarded with orders for lasagna, the most complex dish on the menu, hoping that this would slow them down and totally screw them. It didn't exactly go to plan though, because the blue team not only managed to get most of the lasagnas out, they were so well received that Chef Ramsay used them as the deciding factor in naming the blue team as the winners that episode.
    • In the finale of Season 9, Will set things up so that Paul would end up with Elise and Carrie on his team, hoping that their fighting would ruin his team's morale. They never fought once during the final episode, which Paul (rightly or wrongly) claimed was down to his leadership skills. Will, on the other hand, ended up with Krupa as his final pick to ensure that Carrie would be on Paul's team, and Krupa was spectacularly awful in the service that followed, almost single-handedly destroying any chance Will had of winning.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Season 5's Seth certainly came off this way, claiming to own all of Gordon's books and knowing his birthday and even the types of cars he prefers. Gordon finally got really wigged out and scooted away when Seth offered to prove the depths of his knowledge by naming Gordon's four children.
    • Carrie from Season 9 constantly flirts with Chef Ramsay and creeps pretty much everyone out.
  • Supreme Chef: Whatever you think of his personality, Chef Ramsay is one of the best chefs in the world.
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: Sabrina's commentary of Ludo LeFebvre (Chef/Owner of Ludobites) in Season 8. Even complete with Bishie Sparkles.
  • Team Pet: Natalie became this for the season 9 blue team. Ramsay sent her over to bolster the sagging blue team, after which they started winning challenges, and the men pretty much uniformly love her. They even defended her when Chino tried to blame her for his mistakes.
    • And even in the episode where she was eliminated, the three remaining men on the blue team didn't want to nominate her but had no choice. When she left, they all gave her a standing ovation and told her not to cry.
  • Tempting Fate: Carol in season 5 revealing her strategy for cooking the Gratin Daupinois is to cook a whole bunch ahead, then reheat them to order, making mention of how smart this is and how NOTHING could go wrong. Three guesses how it turned out, and the first two don't count.
    • Various chefs have taken it on themselves to modify Chef Ramsay's recipes; Sharon from Season 4 made a garlic-flavored risotto, for instance, and Colleen kept adding mascarpone cheese to the spaghetti with lobster. Needless to say, Chef Ramsay doesn't approve of having his recipes tampered with.
    • In Season 8, Raj used up the blue team's supply of Dover Sole with several tables still to go, and Chef Ramsay demanded that he go out to the dining room and apologize to the customers who had been affected by his screw-up. Rather than just get on with it, Raj started whining about how his clothes were dirty and how he couldn't face the customers looking like that. Ramsay told him to shut up and do as he was told... so Raj decided to try and plead his case to Scott instead. Naturally, this didn't end at all well.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Usually the first variant, in that Ramsay expects to be (and almost always is) addressed as "Chef" by the contestants; on rare occasions, "Sir" will be used instead. The second variant appears in season 7's second episode, where the men are enjoying a rooftop lunch with him: "One rule: outside the kitchen, 'Gordon'. fuck the 'Chef'."
  • Third Person Person: J in season 5 referred to J in the Confession Cam at least twice.

 "J feels like a jackass, 'cuz of that freaking lettuce. Should've seen it. It was a disgrace."

    • Rock also used the third person occasionally in season 3 while on the Confession Cam.

  "The only threat to Rock is Rock."


 "You can kiss! My! Fucking! ass"

    • After the unfortunate lame duck from Season 3's Red Team, an obviously pissed Ramsay shooed them off by saying "GET. OUT. MY. SIGHT."
    • During Sous Chef Scott's aforementioned Berserk Button, he yells to Benjamin:


    • In Season 6, after the Red Team failed spectacularly in a homecoming party service and didn't manage to serve a single entree, Ramsay had the Blue Team take over the service for them. After the party was finished, he quite succinctly summed up the Red Team's performance by telling them that "THAT... WAS... CRAP."
  • This Trope Is Bleep: Deliberately invoked; the editors will quite often bleep out otherwise inoffensive words if it'll make the already bad language of Chef Ramsay and the contestants look even worse.
  • Token Minority: While the black contestants are averted since there is usually two or more these each season, there are occasions where there's one Asian per season, like Season 1's Wendy (Chinese), Season 3's Aaron (also Chinese), Season 4's Louross (Filipino), Season 5's Ji (Korean), Season 6's Tek (Hmong?), and Season 8's Gail (Filipino).
    • Averted in Season 9 with Chino and Gina, who are both of Korean descent.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Joseph challenging Chef Ramsay to a fight in season six, despite being one of the frontrunners and not in the least bit of danger of going home any time soon.
    • A rather surprising number of the contestants, most of whom are professional chefs, screw up the most basic things, such as not tasting their own dishes before sending them to the pass or trying to "get ahead" by pre-cooking food when Hell's Kitchen cooks to order. It never fails to happen, and it never fails to infuriate Gordon. And then they keep doing it. Or someone else does it. There's really no other term for it.
    • Joanna from Season 3 may well be the best example of this in the series. After Jen admitted to intending to serve up spaghetti that she had previously thrown in the garbage (though Julia managed to talk her out of it), Joanna started ranting at length about how disgusting Jen's actions were and how she deserved to be sent home. At which point Ramsay pointed out that not only had Joanna made a far worse mistake, by using rotting crabmeat in the spaghetti and (unlike Jen) actually trying to serve it, she had refused to acknowledge that it was a serious mistake. Thus, Joanna ended up being eliminated thanks to her own argument.
    • Many contestants will fall under this for one reason or another, to list all the examples would need its own page.
    • The most blatant one comes from someone in the blue team in the first episode of season 8. Ramsay scolded someone on the red team for raw food and Boris started to mimic his voice behind his back. Ramsay heard him and tore him a new one.
    • Jillian, season 8, episode three: "Gandhi didn't even wear flips-flops, he lived in the jungle".
    • Brendan from season 9, thinking he could actually get away with lying to Ramsay's face.
    • Averted in season 9, when Elise lied to Ramsay's face about scoring the beef wellingtons and said Tommy did it, yet was not eliminated.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Vinnie, of all people, in the Season 3 finale. Despite having been one of the worst contestants from that season, he actually did very well when he was bought back for the finale, and helped dig Rock's kitchen out of the mess that Josh left them in after he screwed up royally on the appetizers.
    • Elsie in Season 1. Her only noticeable skill was that she was a "Mother of Six". However, she rose up through the ranks, won a challenge on her own, and was in the top four before she got eliminated. Not bad for someone like her.
  • Took a Third Option: Generally, if a team is trying to railroad a competitor, or otherwise fail to make the "correct" nominations, Ramsay dispenses with the pomp and pageantry, and just turfs whoever he feels should go.
    • In head to head competitions, Ramsay will often give the point to neither team or give it to both team.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Season 7's Benjamin sorely needed that haircut reward, and even (only half in jest) asked his hair stylist if she could do anything for his teeth. Later in the season, his extremely hot wife and adorable baby daughter visit the kitchen.
  • Up to Eleven: Ramsay's anger, right after Giovanni talked back to him after being labelled "dickface". Poor Giovanni.
    • Chef Scott's anger after Benjamin tried to usurp control of the kitchen from him in Season 7 was turned up to about eleven hundred.
    • The first episode of season 10 had Ramsay's female chef assistant show the contestants that she shaved her head bald, revealing the hair before was a wig, and then a few minuets later, her baldness turned out to be a bald wig as she took it off and showed her real hair.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Every time the show comes back from commercial break it recaps events that happened just before the break and usually recycles some footage.
  • Voted Off the Island: Subverted. As mentioned above, Ramsay can and will eliminate whoever he pleases, with little regard to who's been nominated. He does the nominations to check if the losing team's thinking clearly.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Everything that happens in Hell's Kitchen, exciting or not, is accompanied by a million camera cuts and a Sting. Everything. "What did you put on the spaghetti?" "Meatballs." *dramatic effects* .
    • In a similar manner, the openings. Seasom Four features ominous music and depictedell's Kitchen as a dragon lair, and to top it all off ending with Ramsay standing on a table while Epic Movie Voice Guy says * "And the Dark Lord reigns again!"* Season 8 features the chefs besieging a giant Ramsay and tying him down to feed him, and Season 9 has Ramsay playing pinball with the chefs fleeing from the ball inside a pinball machine decorated with the Hell's Kitchen logo.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite being the second to last to be eliminated, Season 6's Tennille was absent from the six returning chefs in the final episode. No reason on-show was given for this, though many watchers were probably grateful.
    • It probably had something to do with Tennille's partner of two years being diagnosed with leukemia, as seen in her exit interview. She did come back with other black-jacket players for one episode in Season 9.
    • From the same season, Andy, despite several horrible performances, conveniently skirted elimination just long enough to be one of the six to return... and then he didn't show. Granted, he had cut his hand pretty severely during his final service, but that paled in comparison to finalist Dave's broken wrist (and, arguably, other finalist Kevin's ankle injury).
    • The biggest example of this came in the first season where Chris, Mary-Ellen, Wendy and Jeff all failed to return for reasons that weren't stated (although it wasn't too hard to imagine why Jeff didn't return, given that his final service ended with him calling Ramsay "an asshole" and storming out of the kitchen), resulting in the utterly hopeless Dewberry returning for the final service.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In Season 9, Jennifer calls out her team when they say that they think Elise is a better cook than her, even though nobody on the team likes or respects Elise.
  • What Were You Thinking?: Season 8's Boris gets one from his teammate after mimicking Chef Ramsay during service (and getting bawled out, of course).
  • A Worldwide Punomenon: A good chunk of the narration involves obvious puns. For example, if a contestant has to clean something, it's almost guaranteed that the narrator will say they're going to "clean up their act" and so on.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Most seasons will feature someone using the usual reality TV tactics ie. Backstabbing, nominating strong people in the hopes of getting them out of the way etc. etc. What they fail to understand that Hell's Kitchen doesn't really become a competition until there is ONE team, and that trying remove the strong from your team will not only screw you over in the long run, but will only serve to infuriate Chef Ramsay even more.
    • Even after there is one team, Chef Ramsay still wants the two weakest chefs to be nominated. Nominating a stronger competitor doesn't get you anywhere. Ramsay knows who's weak, he will single them out and declare them so, and he will call out the team on not recognizing this. The nominations are as much about Ramsay testing the team's judgment and reason as they are about sending someone home.
    • Averted in the first season, though, as Ramsay wasn't allowed to overrule the choices that the Best of the Worst made. Michael played this to his advantage in the sole service that he was on the losing side, and deliberately nominated the two strongest chefs on his team (Chris and Elsie) in order to get rid of one of them.
    • Averted in Season 8 by Sabrina: after a service where the Red Team lost but she had done well enough for Chef Ramsay to give her nomination privileges, Sabrina told her team that she was going to nominate Emily and Melissa. These two were definitely the worst chefs of the night, and nobody would be shocked by those picks. Then a couple of Blue Team members suggested that Sabrina should use this opportunity to get rid of the stronger chefs on the Red Team, thus removing a threat to her (and weakening the Red Team even more, which is presumably what the Blue Team was hoping for). However, when Sabrina was asked by Ramsay for her nominations, she put up Emily and Melissa and avoided the usual mess.
    • Ridiculously averted by season 9's Elise, who has made it to the final 4 despite being a contestant more manipulative, conniving, and not to mention WORTHLESS than someone on Survivor or Big Brother. Elise could pretty much STAB Ramsay at this point and still survive.
      • For most seasons, for ratings\variety reasons, there is an Elimination Houdini in the mix, but they never make it to the final episode.
  • You Bastard: Ramsay opened Season 7 by having his wife pose as a contestant, and making out with her while she was still in disguise. The other contestants responded with the stock phrase.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Season 7's Jay is a real-life example.
  • You Keep Using That Word: During the "make your own menu" dinner service, Season 5's Ben insisted on making some potato dish he called "pomme fondant". At service, Gordon pointed out that pommes fondant is a French dish consisting of mashed potatoes cooked in butter, which Ben's dish was not. Later on he invoked this kind of reaction by repeatedly getting a "plain salad" wrong, causing Gordon to turn to Sous Chef Scott to make sure that the term means the same thing in America that it does in England.
    • Worse was Season 3's Brad, who during the same challenge suggested they make fancy macaroni and cheese and call it cassoulet; the other men pointed out, to his face, that that's not what cassoulet is (it's a slow-cooked French bean stew or casserole usually containing duck livers), and he replied, "Well, let's just call it that."
  1. Ramsay quote: It looks like liquefied shit
  2. All three are former teammates that Elise pinned her mistakes on and were eliminated.