The X Factor

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A British singing competition that has run annually from 2004, The X Factor is the Spiritual Successor to Pop Idol, and came about because producer/presenter Simon Cowell wanted an intellectual property that he owned the television rights to.

It's basically the same as Pop Idol (and American Idol) except the contestants are split into categories. The categories originally consisted of 16-24 year olds, Over 25's and Groups. However with the addition of a fourth judge in Series 4 (2007), The 16-24 catergory was split into boys aged 16-24 (16-27 in 2010) and girls aged 16-24 (16-27 in 2010) with the Over 25's (Over 28's in 2010) and the Groups categories remaining the same to give four categories in total. After the initial round of frankly embarrassing auditions, each Judge is randomly assigned a category and has to coach his or her group up until the weekly live shows, which enters a Battle Royale With Cheese where the losers are voted off by telephone polls until only one remains. After that, the winners pump out one guaranteed hit single (usually that year's Christmas Number One)- because the show is literally a two-month advertisement for their single - before becoming an answer in a pub quiz. It is worth noting, though, that three of the show's seven winners (Shayne Ward, Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke) have actually achieved continued success since their debut single.

It was probably the first show in this genre to glamorise and promote the judges over the actual singers. Indeed, most of the drama comes from the behaviour and conflict between the judges - which, let's face it, is probably scripted - and when it comes to the final rounds, the contest is promoted more as "Which judge('s group) will win?" than "Which singer will win?"

The judges are:

  • Simon Cowell himself (2004-2010, 2014-)
  • Louis Walsh (2004-2014, 2016-); an Irish Cloudcuckoolander with a tendency to put forward joke acts. His bickering with the other judges is a source of much of the show's humour. May or may not be Obfuscating Stupidity
  • Sharon "Wife of Ozzy" Osbourne (2004-2007, 2013, 2016-). The only judge prior to the near-total overhaul of the panel in 2011 never to have a winning act.
  • Dannii "Sister of Kylie" Minogue (2007-2010)
    • Minogue was absent for the 2010 auditions and temporarily replaced by a series of "guest judges" including Geri Halliwell, Katy Perry, Natalie Imbruglia, Pixie Lott and Nichole Scherzinger.
  • Brian Friedman (2007); showed up for two episodes as a replacement for Louis Walsh. Demoted back to his choreography position after Louis was bought back, but to this day insists he'd be a better judge than him. Moved along with Simon Cowell to the US version in 2011, where he has a somewhat less visible role.
  • Cheryl Cole (2008-2010, 2014-2015); member of the group Girls Aloud, winner of Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. At first seems the least cruel of the judges but is a master of the Stealth Insult.
  • Gary Barlow (2011-2013); member of the group Take That
  • Kelly Rowland (2011); former member of the group Destiny's Child
  • Tulisa Contostavlos (2011-2012); member of the group N-Dubz
  • Nicole Scherzinger (2012-2013, 2016-); member of the group The Pussycat Dolls
  • Mel B (2014); former member of the Spice Girls
  • Nick Grimshaw (2015); radio host
  • Rita Ora (2015); solo artist

Depending on the extent to which you view reality as subjective, the show is either an important yearly television tradition or an ever-growing armpit stain on the shirt of British culture.

Winners, their categories and their mentors:

  • Season 1 (2004): Steve Brookstein, Over 25's, Simon Cowell
  • Season 2 (2005): Shayne Ward, 16-24's, Louis Walsh
  • Season 3 (2006): Leona Lewis, 16-24's, Simon Cowell
  • Season 4 (2007): Leon Jackson, Boys, Dannii Minogue
  • Season 5 (2008): Alexandra Burke, Girls, Cheryl Cole
  • Season 6 (2009): Joe McElderry, Boys, Cheryl Cole
  • Season 7 (2010): Matt Cardle, Boys, Dannii Minogue
  • Season 8 (2011): Little Mix, Groups, Tulisa Contostavlos
  • Season 9 (2012): James Arthur, Boys, Nicole Scherzinger
  • Season 10 (2013): Sam Bailey, Over 25s, Sharon Osbourne
  • Season 11 (2014): Ben Haenow, Over 25s, Simon Cowell
  • Season 12 (2015): Louisa Johnson, Girls, Rita Ora
  • Season 13 (2016): Matt Terry, Boys, Nicole Scherzinger

Already having been exported to numerous countries, an American version started in 2011. Tropes for the American series follow the British series.

Not to be confused with X-Factor, one of Marvel's X-Men spinoffs. Compare to Britain's Got Talent.

British version

Tropes used in the British version of The X Factor include:
  • The Ace: Nicole Scherzinger's brief turn as a guest judge had fans clamouring for her to replace Dannii or Cheryl -- or even for a fifth judging category to be created -- ever since the first episode she appeared in. She did eventually become a judge, albeit of the US version rather than the UK one. Unfortunately the US audiences weren't as enamoured with her as their UK counterparts. (See Face Heel Turn below.)
  • Aesop Amnesia
  • An Aesop
  • Auto-Tune: A component of Manipulative Editing revealed early on in the 2010 series, allegedly used to make bad singers sound worse (for comical purposes) and to make good contestants sound better.
    • Simon Cowell, when he learned that the editing team used Autotune to make acts sound better or worse, told them off and ordered them to remove any Autotune from any future episodes.
  • Boring Invincible Hero: Leona Lewis and Matt Cardle both topped the public vote every single week bar one (the first in Matt's case, and the second in Leona's) during their winning appearances on the show.
    • Rebecca Ferguson from Matt's year was effectively a Boring Invincible Runner-Up, having finished in second place every week bar one (where she got pipped by Katie Waissel of all people) from the third week onwards.
    • This also applies to the winner's song, released the week after the contest is over (And coincidentally, the week before the final chart before Christmas). Without fail, it takes the Christmas number one each year with little effort; this was subverted in 2009, when a campaign to get Killing In The Name by Rage Against the Machine to number one instead meant that for the first time in half a decade, the UK's Christmas number one was not by the year's X-Factor winner. Normal service was resumed the following year when Matt Cardle's winners' song became the Christmas number one, but the 2011 final took place earlier than all the previous ones, meaning that Little Mix's single had already fizzled out before Christmas.
  • But Not Too Black: Predictably, this accusation was thrown at Leona Lewis a lot when she won the show, even though it happens to be a Berserk Button of hers. More surprisingly however, it was also thrown at Alexandra Burke and JLS when they were the final two in 2008, the idea apparently being that viewers really voted for their judges (Cheryl Cole and Louis Walsh respectively) and that their presence in the final didn't really prove anything. At least one prominent black UK academic went on record in 2011 as saying that he would only consider a Kelly Rowland/Misha B victory as proof the the British public can truly accept black musicians.
  • Butt Monkey: Louis Walsh seems to get it really bad from both the other judges and the auditionees, to the extent that some failed auditionees have physically attacked him when he voted not to let them through, despite his rejections never being anywhere near as nasty as Simon's. Moreover, he usually gets the groups who, with the notable exception of JLS, usually turn out to be by far the weakest contestants.
  • Camp Gay: Choreographer Brian Friedman, 2010 finalists Diva Fever (try watching their performance of Boney M's Sunny and seeing how many stereotypes they managed to shoehorn in), and 2011 finalist Johnny Robinson.
    • 2011 contestants, Kendro were...well, look at the image on the Camp Gay page, they could pass for that...
  • Camp Straight: Olly Murs, when he was a contestant, clearly loves dancing. As a presenter on the Xtra Factor, he enjoyed flirting with the female contestants and his female co-presenter.
  • Cash Cow Franchise
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Some of the acts fit this trope perfectly.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: The 2006 final ended up being one of these. Even the judges took the rare step of admitting early on in the final that Ray Quinn had absolutely no chance of beating Leona Lewis, and that all he could do was try and impress any record labels that might want to sign him up after the final. Although the media's prediction that Lewis would literally get 100% of the votes didn't come true (she got 62% of the votes; still a very solid win), there was never any real doubt who the winner would be.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Simon Cowell and his replacement, Gary Barlow.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Diana Vickers and Janet Devlin from series 5 and 8 respectively have the tendency to perform barefoot.
  • Dramatic Pause
  • Epic Fail: The infamous Leeds auditions in 2006, where a grand total of zero people were put through to Boot Camp. This led Simon Cowell to brand Yorkshire "a musical wasteland" and deciding never to hold an audition for one of his talent shows in that part of the country again. At ITV's insistence, they held auditions in the nearby city of Sheffield the following year -- and ended up putting two people through to Boot Camp, where they both crashed out in the first round. After that, Yorkshire is now firmly a no-go zone for the show (and Britain's Got Talent).
  • Fag Hag: Sharon Osbourne
  • Filler
  • Fridge Logic: Tulisa's choice of song for Rhythmix for rock week. A mashup Tik Tok by Ke$ha and Push It by Salt N Peppa. She was called out on it, where she promptly pointed out that it was "Rock Week" and not "Rock Song Week".
  • Funny Foreigner: Wagner and Goldie Cheung are among the more notable examples of this trope.
  • Genre Savvy: Goldie dropped out just before the 2011 live shows, after realising she was the token novelty act and had no chance of actually winning.
    • Matt Cardle was savvy enough to play up his experience as a singer in indie rock bands and accompany himself on his guitar (to establish actual credibility as a musician beyond being a contestant in a singing competition), which appealed to a lot of viewers (although nothing was going to save him when he covered a Biffy Clyro song for his winner's debut single and changed the title).
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Simon Cowell literally did this in the 2009 auditions. After the group CASYR (Care And Support Your Relatives) turned in a particularly awful performance, Cowell suggested that Caring Relatives Are Problematic would be a more appropriate name for the group.
    • Harry from One Direction presumably thought he was doing this in the 2010 final, when he whispered to newly-crowned winner Matt Cardle something that appeared to reference the number of sexually-available young women Matt was going to be presented with now. He wasn't mic-ed up, so presumably thought he was safe - but didn't consider the lip-reading members of the audience.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Cher Lloyd does this with Cheryl Cole. Yet no other contestant did this. Hell, she even has Cheryl's mobile number/cellphone number - which again, no other contestant has. This has caused a lot of controversy in the show, making Cheryl into a hate figure, and accusations that she is a Magnificent Bastard (if there are any other female ones, it'd be surprising). Ironically enough, neither are enemies, yet it fits the trope.
    • However, since ending her season, Cher has claimed that she hasn't had much contact with Cheryl.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Cheryl Cole is considered by many sources to be among the sexiest women on Earth, although Your Mileage May Vary once she starts speaking.
    • New judge Kelly Rowland is quite the looker herself. In one of the audition episodes, there was even a montage of male contestants fawning over her!
  • He's Back: There are usually several returning contestants each year. They tend to fall into three categories; firstly there are the ones who narrowly miss out at Boot Camp or the Judges' Houses, and decide to try again. Secondly, those who show potential at their first audition, but don't get through due to a lack of confidence or a poor song choice. And thirdly, the delusional morons who can't sing at all, yet keep auditioning in the vain hope that the judges will suddenly have a change of heart and put them through.
    • Attempted, but failed with Dannii Minogue in 2012. Cowell invited her back after Kelly Rowland bailed out only a few weeks before auditions started, but due to Minogue being reluctant to disrupt her young son's upbringing (and supposedly due to her being peeved that Cowell had let slip that he briefly had a secret love affair with her) she demanded the head judge's role and more than the combined pay of Barlow, Walsh and Contostavlos in order to return. She didn't get it, leading to another round of guest judges that year.
  • Hopeless Auditionees
  • Ho Yay: Johnny Robinson and Gary Barlow. So. Very. Much.
  • Is It Always Like This?: A frequent question from the "next generation" judges to Louis Walsh on the more outlandish contestents during the auditions phase.
  • Internet Counterattack: Notably, the aforementioned "Rage Against the Machine for Christmas Number One" Campaign, an attempt to bring the band's "Killing in the Name" to the Christmas #1 spot, normally dominated by the latest X Factor winner. Remarkably, the campaign succeeded, making it the very first song in half a decade to take the spot that wasn't an X Factor winner.
    • There have also been attempts to get a "joke" act (such as Jedward in 2009, and Wagner in 2010) to win the show, in the hope of destroying its credibility with viewers. None of these efforts have been successful as yet, however, and at most have just kept those acts in a few weeks longer than they would otherwise have lasted.
  • Large Ham / Large Ham Announcer: Played Up to Eleven with "Voiceover Man" Peter Dickson. IT'S TIME! TO FACE! THE MUSIC!"
  • Les Yay: Between Tulisa and Kelly. There was even an Almost Kiss between them.
  • Limit Break: In a lot of cases, but notably Katie Waissel, some contestants perform at their best when up for elimination.
  • Long Speech Tea Time: Happened frequently during Geri Halliwell's temporary stint as a judge in 2010, including once instance where she spent several minutes blabbing on about her own career, rather than giving feedback to the hopefuls.
  • Manipulative Editing / Glurge: a BBC reporter went to an audition, and subsequently described how the auditionees are repeatedly instructed to scream and dance for the cameras, and are even given their "homemade" signs to wave around. Hearing sad violin music is a practical guarantee that the person on screen will be successful.
  • The Mean Brit: Need we say? Averted in the case of Louis Walsh... although this is because of the fact that he's Irish, rather than him being especially nice.
    • With Simon's departure for the U.S., Gary Barlow has succeeded him as the Mean Brit for Series 8.
  • Misblamed: Arguably, Cheryl, over the whole Gamu Nhengu mess. While Cheryl picked up a lot of criticism for not putting her through to the live shows, it later turned out that Gamu wouldn't have been able to appear anyway, since she didn't have a visa that would have allowed her to stay in the UK during the live shows. Whether Cheryl really has been wrongly blamed for all of this depends on whether she (and/or the producers) knew this during the filming of the judges' houses.
    • However, this is sort of justified. Gamu was going to be deported to Zimbabwe, where there was going to be a significantly high chance she and her relatives would be killed by Mugabe's regime (Luckily, she managed to successfully appeal her deportation) because she was on the show.
    • Also the two acts that many blame for making it through in Gamu's place, namely Cher Lloyd and Katie Waissel. Leaving aside the fact that they didn't force Cheryl to put them through, no-one seems to have considered the possibility that it was Cheryl's third act, Rebecca Ferguson that made it through in place of Gamu.
    • Although, the problem people have with Cher Lloyd and Katie Waissel getting through to the live shows is more to do with the fact that neither of them actually sang at the judges house. Katie broke down crying and Cher had a sore throat, yet both of the got through over Gamu who gave a very good performance. People don't mind Rebecca getting through because she actually gave a full performance.
      • Cher at least deserved the benefit of the doubt since she had been one of the better singers at the initial auditions and Boot Camp. Katie on the other hand forgot her words at her initial audition, was unspectacular at Boot Camp, and forgot her words again at the judge's house.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: A True Blood fansite used Janet Devlin's picture when they meant to use Deborah Ann Woll's - yes, they do look similar, but are not that similar!!
  • Ms. Fanservice: Cheryl Cole or Danni Minogue. Take your pick.
    • Girl band Hope may be the show's best example. To compensate for their lack of vocal ability their stylists put them in really skimpy outfits, and one of their routines saw them giving Simon Cowell a lapdance. For some reason Simon (who also happened to be their mentor) chose to save them from elimination when two of his groups landed in the bottom two early on.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood / It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY":
    • Louis, it's pronounced "Vagner", not "Wagner"!
    • It's "wei-shell" for Katie Waissel, not "wais-sell"
    • "Em-elia Light-ley", not "Am-ee-leah li-ll-eeh"!
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Cheryl Cole falling ill with malaria was featured in just about every trailer for the 2010 series. It never appeared or even got anything more than the most cursory mention in the series itself.
  • Non Gameplay Elimination: Emily Nakanda was thrown out of the 2007 series after it was revealed that not only had she been involved in gang violence as recently as the month before her first audition, she had actually filmed herself in the act and uploaded the footage to YouTube.
    • Frankie Cocozza from the 2011 series became the second person to be thrown out after breaking one of the "golden rules". It is rumoured that the rule was broken when Frankie openly talked to production staff about taking cocaine.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Alternate Character Interpretation of Louis Walsh.
    • Amelia Lily, as well.
  • One Mario Limit: Defied by Cher and Wagner. On the judges side, Tulisa is the sole enforcer of this trope.
  • Padding: The live finals oh so much, cutting out the ads and fast forwarding through all the talking for a 2h 30m show and you can get the run time down to about 25 minutes...
  • Product Placement: For the last 2 years (since 2008), almost constant appearances of Bowers & Wilkins audio equipment. No, they are not endorsing the show, so this might be an attempt at Getting Crap Past the Radar.
    • Product Placement was illegal at the time. It was recently legalised though, so from the 2011 series, they'll be able to blatantly advertise products.
  • Revolving Door Band: The Risk in 2011. The groups was originally formed with five soloists (Andy, Ashley, Derry, Marlon and Mitchell) at Boot Camp, much like any previous series. However, at Judges' House, Tulisa dropped Marlon and Mitchell from the group and replaced them with Charlie from eliminated group The Keys. By Week 3 of the Live Shows, Ashley quit and was replaced by another member of an eliminated group, this time being Ashford from Nu Vibe. Andy and Derry remain the only remaining original members. They were eliminated before any more changes could occur.
  • Rules Lawyer: Louis Walsh seems to have become one of these in the 2009 series.
    • He employed this to brilliant effect during that year's auditions, though. After one auditionee gave a rather... unusual rendition of "Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey, Simon went to call a judge's vote immediately, but Louis insisted that the auditionee be given the chance to perform another song (each person that auditions is allowed two attempts; one without a backing track, and one with). What followed was a truly mind-bending version of another Mariah Carey song - this time "Hero" - that had the audience singing along and the judges breaking down with hysterical laughter.
  • The Runner Up Takes It All: Played straight in the first series in 2004. G4's career wasn't that great after the final, but they still did far better than winner Steve Brookstein, whose career utterly tanked within months after he fell out with Simon Cowell. Also the case with 2009 runner-up Olly Murs as compared to winner Joe McElderry, who has still been quite successful, albeit not as a pop star. Averted elsewhere, though, as the other runners-up have either done roughly as well as the winners (Rhydian Roberts and JLS), not lived up to their early promise (Andy Abraham) or just flat-out crashed and burned (Ray Quinn).
    • Jedward didn't actually finish as runners-up in 2009, but they've been arguably the most commercially successful act from that year. Many other acts from that year are also doing well, such as Stacey Solomon (who is making a name for herself as a TV presenter) and Lucie Jones, who has moved into acting. It seems the only contestant from that year who hasn't gone onto further glory is pre-series favourite Danyl Johnson, who apparently became disillusioned with the business and only does occasional, low-profile gigs nowadays.
    • One Direction, who came in 3rd in 2010 are arguably doing much better than first and second place winners Matt Cardle and Rebecca Ferguson with a number 1 single, a US record deal in addition to their deal with Syco and a pretty sizable international fanbase.
      • To be fair, Rebecca's debut album has been selling like hotcakes in its own right. Matt, however, is remaining a commercial disappointment.
    • Cher Lloyd (from the same season) hasn't been slouching either, and has just been signed to Epic Records in the US by American X Factor judge LA Reid.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: Frankie Cocozza, which eventually led this his producer-imposed ousting from the show.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Sharon stormed out of the first live show of the 2007 series after two of her acts finished in the bottom two, which she blamed on the show being moved forward by quarter of an hour in the schedules. While she came back for the rest of the series due to her contract obligating her to do so, after that incident she made her mind up that she wasn't going to come back for 2008, or any subsequent year for that matter (at least not as a judge; she came back to help Louis Walsh at the judge's house stage in 2010).
  • Serious Business: Cheryl Cole received death threats when she didn't put Gamu Nhengu in the final 12 in 2010.
    • Same applies to the campaigns for getting Rage Against the Machine to Christmas Number 1 or for Wagner to win in 2010. Expect die hard fans of the show to bitterly complain and moan online about how people are manipulating the results.
  • Shocking Elimination: Rachel Adedeji was the second-favourite (behind only Danyl Johnson) to win the 2009 series, but finished in the bottom two three times in the first four live shows, being finally eliminated on the third occasion. It's even more shocking when you consider that in the week when she didn't finish in the bottom two, she topped the public vote by a huge margin.
    • Arguably Lucie Jones the following week as well. Admittedly she had finished rock bottom in the public vote, but she was facing John and Edward, who many expected Simon to eliminate. Instead he decided to send it to deadlock, which resulted in Lucie's elimination.
    • No-one expected Rhydian to be beaten by Leon in 2007.
    • Also Aiden Grimshaw when he was in the bottom two with Katie Waissel. It was his first time in the bottom two and her fourth. It went to deadlock and Aiden went out. This one's perhaps less shocking in retrospect however, as many considered him to be one of the front-runners for most of the time he was on the show, but in actual fact the voting figures proved he was never ranked higher than 5th at any point in the contest.
    • The Risk's elimination left many surprised, as there's almost always a boyband who makes it far in the competition.
    • Also from 2011, Craig Colton. He was a firm favorite to win right from his audition and made it all the way to the live shows where all of his performances were praised by the judges but one mediocre performance of the theme from Licence to Kill in week 7 and he was out. However, just like Aiden he was a front-runner but when the voting figures were released, they revealed that he never ranked higher than 3rd.
    • And again from 2011, Janet Devlin, while Craig was a favourite, Janet was the favourite. She had it all; the looks, the voice, the likeablity and if you were a teenage male, it was practically illegal not to have a crush on her. She was booked to win right from her audition and needless to say, soared through bootcamp and Judge's houses, making it to the live shows. She was fine at the start but quite a few eyebrows were raised in Week 3 (Rock Week) as she performed a low-key ballad version of "Sweet Child O' Mine" (Although she would later state that this was her favourite performance during her time on the show). More eyebrows were raised in Week 4 (Halloween Week) as she performed a frankly bizarre rendition of "Every Breath You Take" and the following week she forgot the words to "I Want You Back" by The Jackson 5 in the middle of the song in a performance that she herself admits was a disaster. Weeks 6 & 7 were a return to form but she forgot her words again in Week 8 and that ultimately caused her to be eliminated that week. When the voting figures were released, it was revealed that she topped the public vote for the first five weeks which included her performances of "Sweet Child O' Mine","Every Breath You Take" and "I Want You Back" and even when she lost the top spot, she never fell farther than 4th.
  • Small Annoying Creature: All the judges at times.
  • Invisible to Gaydar: Louis Walsh, 2009 winner Joe McElderry, and 2011 contestants Marcus Collins and Craig Colton.
    • Marcus probably isn't the best example of this trope, but he's decidedly less camp than Kendro and Johnny Robinson.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The introduction of the "next generation" of judges has led to quite a number of Simon/Gary and Cheryl/Tulisa comparisons, with Dannii/Kelly (or alternatively, Nicole Scherzinger/Kelly) not that far away.
  • Talent Show
  • Teens Are Monsters: The group "Triple Trouble" attempted to subvert this trope in the 2009 series by showing that teens aren't all bad. Unfortunately they very much played it straight, by making death threats to Simon Cowell after he scorned their butchered version of the Rihanna song "Umbrella," earning them the distinction of being the first act to actually be booed off the stage by the new audience.
    • "Ablisa" in the 2010 series were almost as bad. Their performance was predictably terrible, and when guest judge Natalie Imbruglia criticised them, one of the two girls in the group, Lisa, snottily asked her who she was. Imbruglia just laughed off the remark, but the other girl, Abbey (who until that point had been by far the saner of the two) didn't react so kindly, and actually punched Lisa in the face before storming off the stage. Lisa followed and gave the finger to the judges and audience as she left. The two had to be separated by guards backstage, and Simon told the floor manager to relay that "It's four "No"s, by the way."
    • The lead singer of Triple Trouble actually returned in the 2011 auditions, intending to put in a better performance and make up for his idiotic behaviour two years previously, claiming he had fully matured and had actually learned how to sing. The second he opened his mouth it was clear that he still couldn't sing and was soon stopped by the judges. The instant that happened he marched up to Tulisa and interrogated her over why she had stopped the music, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Gary Barlow was the one who actually stopped it. Eventually, security had to be called to pull him away, after which the judges called him out on his attitude (Gary even told him that he "had matured like a bad curry") and told him, that in their opinion, he was talentless. He responded with "That's all fine and good, now let me give you my opinion". What followed was him verbally assaulting Tulisa, calling her "a scumbag", "a little bitch" and comparing her unfavourably to Cheryl Cole and ultimately concluded with him being escorted away by security while flipping off the judges. Louis deemed him "completely talentless" and after he went on a rant backstage, Dermot snapped at him to watch his mouth before he finally left the building. Also, this gave him the unusual distinction of being the first and fourth act to get booed off the stage (the second being the aforementioned Ablisa, and the third being a Michael Jackson impersonator -- who proceeded to make his own return a couple of episodes later, where he unsurprisingly became the fifth act to get booed off).
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Kelly eliminated Amelia Lily, one of her own acts, in the first round of the '11 live shows when each judge was required to do so. Amelia was later brought back into the competition after Frankie Cocozza's eviction by public vote. Needless to say, relationships between the two weren't that cordial.
  • They Plotted a Perfectly Good Waste: This trope may explain how Jedward and Wagner made it through to the live shows. Both were put through by Louis Walsh, and his plotting seems deliberate.

Gary: "You know what Louis does, he takes bad acts and makes them even worse."

American version

The American version started in September 2011, taking Cowell away from American Idol, and for a few weeks, Cole from the UK X Factor.

The judges are:

Winners of the US version, their categories and their mentors:

  • Season 1 (2011): Melanie Amaro, Girls, Simon Cowell
Tropes used in the American version of The X Factor include:
  • Cloudcuckoolander: No, not Paula Abdul. At least, not by comparison to Nicole Scherzinger, whose grandiose praise often contains very mixed metaphors.

Simon Cowell: I'm sitting in Nicole's chair so I'm going to critique like Nicole. I believe in you. You believe in me. You transcend the universe. God is smiling on you. Life is a waterfall, and you are the ultimate rainbow.

Steve Jones: (to eliminated girl group Lakoda Rayne) The dream is over.

  • My God, What Have I Done?: This occurred during the first season; Marcus Canty (who was in the bottom 2 for the third time) and Rachel Crow (who was seen as a frontrunner by many) were in the bottom 2, and the deciding vote went to Nicole Scherzinger. If she voted to eliminate Marcus, he would have gotten the boot. Nicole didn't want to do that, though, so she voted to eliminate Rachel, sending the vote to deadlock. The final result? Rachel has the lowest amount of votes from America and was sent home. Cue a now-very sad 13 year old girl, sobbing while FALLING TO HER KNEES, in front of millions of people. Nicole (who was directly responsible for this happening), naturally grew inconsolable at what she had done and began crying as well.
  • Nausea Dissonance: The first act of one episode featured a flasher who got on stage just to expose himself to the judges. While 3 of them were totally fine, Paula went to the bathroom to vomit for about 15 minutes.
  • Now Buy the Merchandise: Played straight by Simone Battle during the first season. Just moments after being eliminated, Simone announced that her first music video "He Likes Boys" was going to officially premiere the next day on YouTube.
    • Not to be outdone, The Stereo Hogzz also released their first music video within a day of their elimination, though they didn't announce it onscreen like Simone did.
  • Older Than They Look: Rachel Crow from the first season plays up a precocious, Shirley Temple-like image, which is somewhat disconcerting because she's actually 13 years old.
  • Only One Name: In the time between the Judge's houses and the live shows, first season finalist Drew Ryniewicz dropped her last name.
  • Positive Discrimination: Nicole voted The Stereo Hogzz off the show in favor of Lakoda Rayne purely because the former was an all-male group, and the latter was all-female. On top of that, she said after the show that she would always vote for a girl group over a boy (or mixed) group, irrespective of how well they actually performed. At the time, some praised her for sticking to her beliefs even though they may be controversial, but in retrospect many regard this as where things started to go horribly wrong for Nicole.
  • Reassignment Backfire: The decision to replace Cheryl Cole with Nicole Scherzinger, if only because of the mess surrounding Rachel Crow's elimination. If, as many have speculated, Cheryl was deliberately set up to make a total ass of herself and get fired, then Nicole was supposed to come in and bowl US viewers over in the same way she had done in her brief UK stint, then it's an even worse case of this trope.
  • Retool: Steve Jones, Nicole Scherzinger, and Paula Abdul all parted ways with the show after its first season... on the same day. Simon wasn't kidding when he said the show would undergo changes ahead of its second season.
  • Shocking Elimination: Drew and Astro's double elimination surprised quite a few people, as they were favorites to win the season among many.
    • And only a week later, viewers got another shock, as Rachel Crow was eliminated in a deadlock decision, saving Marcus Canty for the third week in a row.
  • Technician Versus Performer: On season 1, Melanie Amaro is a technically perfect pop belter, whereas 3rd place finisher Chris Rene may not have the best voice, but his simple message ("Love life!") and sincerity connect with the audience on a larger scale. Meanwhile, Josh Krajcik, who finished in 2nd is both a multi-talented composer/musician with a stunning set of pipes for blues and rock and also a relatable and extremely likable bloke (albeit decidedly not in a "prefabricated pop star" way - which is, like Rene, part of his charm). This was everything just short of lampshaded in the penultimate episode with the final three's duets with established pop stars. Amaro's partner was R. Kelly, whose personal life is... let's just say "off-putting"... but who is undeniably, even to his detractors, as competent a singer and songwriter as they come. Rene's was Avril Lavigne, who has been lambasted and spoofed for her less-than-polished voice and often simplistic music, but who has maintained a career long since many of her "pop diva" contemporaries faded into nostalgia collection obscurity with her seemingly boundless energy and grungy charm. Whereas Krajcik's partner was Alanis Morissette, who began her career, in the eyes of many, as a sort of poor man's Sheryl Crow, Liz Phair or Courtney Love, depending on whom you ask, due both to her slightly less conventional attractiveness and slightly more formulaic songwriting, but who has since established herself, in the words of judge Nicole Scherzinger, as "rock royalty," thanks to both her willingness to use her unique stage presence to her advantage and her nearly encyclopedic knowledge of music industry history and current events.
  • Title Drop: Astro


  • Trans-Atlantic Equivalent
  • You Might Remember Me From: Averted in the first season. Although contestant LeRoy Bell cowrote two hits for Elton John in the late '70s ("Are You Ready for Love" and "Mama Can't Buy You Love"), this was never referenced during his run on the show, and he did not perform either of these two songs even for his "save me." Interestingly, two other contestants - ex-Disney star Christa Collins and Audrey Madison-Turner, former backup singer for Ike Turner (and his widow) - did have their past successes discussed on the show, but mentor Nicole Scherzinger eliminated Collins during the "judges' houses" phase, and Madison-Turner failed to make the bootcamp cut.
    • Likewise, the previous career successes of fellow Over 30 contestant, Stacy Francis, such as being in a girl group "Ex-Girlfriend" and originating the role of Rusty in the musical version of Footloose on Broadway, were never addressed on the show. Of course, this could be because she had claimed in her original audition that she'd had no real success in show business and the truth made her seem like a less sympathetic character.
  1. When Paula left the show, both she and Simon made it very clear that it had nothing to do with problems between them, and Simon even mentioned that he's working up another project he wants Paula for.