Top Gear has numerous running gags that have been present throughout most of the series' history on television. Some of the running gags listed below, however, have since featured less frequently in the show.
Clarkson and manual labour Edit
First seen during the Bolivia Special, where Clarkson claims he has a phobia of manual labour, this running gag is that Clarkson is lazy and will do anything possible to avoid physical exertion. This joke is notably featured in the Burma Special when building the bridge over the River Kok when Clarkson refuses to work for many days.
Hammond's use of teeth whitenerEdit
This gag was introduced in series seven by Jeremy Clarkson when he claimed to have found a pack of teeth whiteners in a car he had tested. This joke has continued on throughout most of the series from then onward. It is generally brought up by Clarkson during challenges.
Richard 'Hamster' HammondEdit
'Hamster' is a nickname of Richard Hammond. He was given the name because of his small stature against the other presenters. His nickname was reinforced during series 7 when he ate a piece of cardboard. The joke continues in more recent seasons, with Hammond eating a Ford Fiesta sun-visor in series twenty-one.
Running into the back of James' carEdit
Another running gag on the show is running into the back of whatever car James May is to be driving. The gag has been shown several times throughout each series. In the Bolivia Special the presenters were about to drive on Death Road and James instructed neither Richard or Jeremy to drive into his car. Jeremy, however, did hit his car when James braked to let a taxi go past and was therefore 'killed' by James. The gag has been infrequently used in more recent series.
'Captain Slow' is a nickname for James and is also another long-running gag. James earned the nickname because of his careful, pedantic, and slow driving style. He has, however, been involved in some high-speed car records. He broke the speed record in a Bugatti Veyron before it was beaten 20 minutes later by a racing driver.
Richard Hammond scoring -1000 Edit
After undertaking challenges, often involving second-hand cars bought by the trio, they would usually score themselves based on a series of challenges they completed, on a large board. Jeremy and James often scored Richard -1000 for each challenge. Jeremy would often back this score up with a reason, starting off with "The producers have said...". Sometimes, Richard scores a certain amount of points, only to lose the exact amount in another challenge.
The Dacia SanderoEdit
First introduced in series eleven, the Top Gear boys mocked the Dacia Sandero in their news segment. The joke generally starts with James saying "Good news!" to which Jeremy would respond "What?". James would then go on to tell him something about the car and then Jeremy would say "Great! Now moving on..." In another series, they did the same gag, this time with Jeremy being the one to bring up the Dacia, and James is the one to respond in an uninterested manner. In more recent episodes, there were a few minor references to other Dacias.
"I went on the internet and I found this..."Edit
Seen in every episode of the eleventh series of Top Gear, this joke is always undertaken in the News segment of the show. It starts with Jeremy saying "Now I went on the internet this week and I found this..." at which point the TV screen would display a presumably disgusting image or pornographic material. The images Jeremy showed to the audience were never shown on television.
Sign and word splitting Edit
A running gag on the show is to paint slogans on the doors of cars or on signs in such a manner that when the sign is split in half the message that is displayed is altered to be vulgar or crude. During series 10, when the presenters participate in the Britcar 24 Hour endurance race at Silverstone circuit, their BMW 330d says "Peniston" on one of the doors; when opened, the door says "penis". Also, in the series 13, episode 5, the presenters painted fake sponsors onto the side of their ice-racing cars in Val Thorens. Jeremy's car read 'C'Estles Bien Chat!' but, when the door was opened, the message read 'Les Bien Hat'. The gag has been used fairly regularly in recent seasons, featuring in both series twenty and series twenty-two.
Morris Marinas Edit
Another car which is commonly ridiculed on the show is the Morris Marina. After angering the Morris Marina Owners Club by burning a Marina, the presenters would repeatedly buy Marinas and have pianos fall from the sky and land on the Marinas' roof. The presenters claim this is because of a helicopter removal company known as "Careless Air".
Hidden Chilean reference Edit
In series twenty-two, following Top Gear's fateful Patagonia Special, the team paid tribute to the Chilean government - who helped them escape from an angry mob in Argentina - by hiding a reference to Chile in each episode. For instance, in the first episode of the series, all three presenters wore Chilean flag pins on their jackets while in the third episode they had Chilean coffee cups on the table during the news segment. In the second episode a framed picture of Alexis Sánchez, a Chilean footballer, is visible on a desk.