The Golden Buzzer is a concept that was introduced in Season 9 of America's Got Talent. Each judge may press their Golden Buzzer only once during the season. In Season 9, the Golden Buzzer sent the act to the next round regardless of the other judges' votes; its main purpose was to break ties. In Season 10, the Golden Buzzer was upgraded to send an act straight to the live shows. This method continues on for the next several seasons. From Season 11 onwards, the host can use the Golden Buzzer to send an act straight to the live shows.
Season 9 featured the debut of the golden buzzers. Howard Stern used his on Dustin's Dojo, and Howie Mandel used his on Emmanuel & Phillip Hudson. Heidi Klum used her golden buzzer for Brad Henderson, but it was never televised. Neither act progressed to the Quarterfinals. It is unknown if Mel B used her golden buzzer. Even if she did use it, it was most likely not televised like Heidi's.
Both Dustin's Dojo and Emmanuel & Phillip Hudson were eliminated during Judgment Week.
Emmanuel & Phillip Hudson
In Season 10, the golden buzzer format was changed so that acts who receive the buzzer are now given a spot in the Quarterfinals. Howie Mandel was first shown pressing it for Drew Lynch, a comedian with a speech impediment, Howard Stern used his for Freckled Sky, a dance duo, Mel B used hers for Sharon Irving, a singer, and Heidi Klum gave the buzzer to young Opera singer, Arielle Baril.
The guest judges for the series were also allowed to use the Golden Buzzer during the Judge Cuts. Neil Patrick Harris was the first to use his for comedy magician Piff the Magic Dragon. Michael Bublé was the second, using his golden buzzer on vocal duo The CraigLewis Band. Marlon Wayans was next, pressing his for ventriloquist Paul Zerdin. Piers Morgan was the last guest judge, and he used his golden buzzer for dance group Siro-A.
Freckled Sky was the only Golden Buzzer act this season eliminated in the Quarterfinals. Arielle Baril, Siro-A, and Sharon Irving were all eliminated in the Semifinals. Piff the Magic Dragon missed out on the Top 5 in the Finals, while The CraigLewis Band and Drew Lynch finished in 5th and 2nd place respectively. Paul Zerdin was the season's winner.
Piff the Magic Dragon
Neil Patrick Harris
The CraigLewis Band
Mel B was the first to press the golden buzzer this season, for 13-year-old opera singer Laura Bretan. Howie Mandel was the second to use the golden buzzer, pressing it for 12-year-old singer/ukulelist, Grace VanderWaal. Heidi Klum then pressed the golden buzzer for 20-year-old jazz singer Sal Valentinetti. Simon Cowell was the final judge to press the golden buzzer, for 16-year-old singer Calysta Bevier. For the first time on the show, Nick Cannon had his own opportunity to press the golden buzzer; he did so for 90-year-old striptease dancer Dorothy Williams.
In the Judge Cuts, Ne-Yo was the first guest judge to use the golden buzzer, pressing it for magician Jon Dorenbos. Reba McEntire used her golden buzzer on 14-year-old gymnast/contortionist Sofie Dossi. George Lopez used his golden buzzer on malambo group Malevo. Finally, Louis Tomlinson used the golden buzzer for 14-year-old singer Jayna Brown.
Dorothy Williams was the only Golden Buzzer act this season eliminated in the Quarterfinals. Malevo, Calysta Bevier, and Jayna Brown were eliminated in the Semifinals. Sofie Dossi and Laura Bretan missed out on the Top 5, while Sal Valentinetti and Jon Dorenbos finished in 5th and 3rd place respectively. Grace VanderWaal was the season's winner.
Season 12's format is identical to that of Season 11.
Mel B was the first to press the golden buzzer this season, for 12-year-old singing ventriloquist Darci Lynne. Simon Cowell pressed his buzzer next, for 29-year-old deaf singer Mandy Harvey. Howie Mandel pressed the button for 16-year-old singer Christian Guardino. Tyra Banks pressed the button for a Ukrainian light-up dance group, Light Balance, the only non-singing act among all the Golden Buzzers. Heidi Klum pressed her button for 13-year-old singer Angelina Green.
In the Judge Cuts, Chris Hardwick was the first guest judge to use the golden buzzer, pressing it for 9-year-old singer Angelica Hale. Next, DJ Khaled pressed his golden buzzer for 21-year-old singer-songwriter/guitarist Chase Goehring. Laverne Cox pressed her button for 9-year-old singer Celine Tam. Seal pressed the final golden buzzer of the season for 32-year-old singer Johnny Manuel.
Angelina Green was the only Golden Buzzer act this season eliminated in the Quarterfinals. Johnny Manuel, Christian Guardino, and Celine Tam were eliminated in the Semifinals. Chase Goehring missed out on the Top 5. Mandy Harvey finished in 4th place, Light Balance in 3rd, and Angelica Hale came in 2nd. Darci Lynne was the season's winner.
Season 13's format is identical to that of Season 11.
Tyra pressed the first golden buzzer of the season for acrobatic group Zurcaroh. Simon followed shortly after, using his for singer Michael Ketterer. Howie pressed his buzzer for 13-year-old singer Courtney Hadwin. Mel gave the honor to 15-year-old singer Amanda Mena. Another singer, Makayla Phillips, got the golden buzzer from Heidi.
In the Judge Cuts, Ken Jeong pressed his buzzer for Voices of Hope Children's Choir. The following week, Olivia Munn pressed hers for Angel City Chorale. Martina McBride then pressed hers for ballroom dance duo Quin and Misha, and finally Chris Hardwick pressed his for 14-year-old rapper Flau'jae.
Flau'jae and Quin and Misha were eliminated in the Quarterfinals. Amanda Mena, Makayla Phillips, Voices of Hope Children's Choir and Angel City Chorale were eliminated in the Semifinals. Courtney Hadwin missed out on the Top 5 of the Finals, while Michael Ketterer finished in 5th place and Zurcaroh finished as runner-up.
Voices of Hope Children's Choir
Angel City Chorale
Quin and Misha
AGT: The Champions
For "The Champions", an act that received a Golden Buzzer in the preliminary shows advanced directly to the Final without having to face the Superfans vote.
In week 1, Mel B pressed her Golden Buzzer for singer Susan Boyle. The following week, Heidi Klum pressed hers for knife-throwing duo Deadly Games. In Week 3, Howie Mandel pressed his for singer Angelica Hale. In Week 4, Simon Cowell pressed his for singer Kechi. Finally, host Terry Crews pressed his for sand artist Kseniya Simonova. Susan, Deadly Games, Angelica and Kechi all missed out on the top 5, while Kseniya finished in 3rd place.
Season 14's format is identical to that of Seasons 11-13.
Gabrielle Union pressed the first Golden Buzzer of the season for singer/pianist Kodi Lee. Howie Mandel pressed his for singer/rapper Joseph Allen. Simon Cowell followed, pressing his for 11-year-old violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa. Next was host Terry Crews, pressing his for Detroit Youth Choir. Julianne Hough pressed hers for 12-year-old singer Luke Islam.
In the Judge Cuts, Brad Paisley pressed his Golden Buzzer for 15-year-old singer/guitarist Sophie Pecora. Dwyane Wade pressed his for dance group V.Unbeatable. Ellie Kemper pressed hers for light-up dance crew Light Balance Kids. Finally, Jay Leno pressed his for 10-year-old opera singer Emanne Beasha.
Sophie Pecora and Joseph Allen were eliminated in the Quarterfinals. Luke Islam was the only act eliminated in the Semifinals. Emanne Beasha, Light Balance Kids and Tyler Butler-Figueroa all missed out on the Top 5, while V.Unbeatable finished in 4th place and Detroit Youth Choir finished 2nd. Kodi Lee was the season's winner.
Additionally, dancer Ben Trigger pressed the Golden Buzzer for himself during his audition and his performance in Judge Cuts, but they both didn't count.
Detroit Youth Choir
Light Balance Kids
The format for Champions 2 is similar to Champions 1, but host Terry Crews was not given a chance to use the Golden Buzzer.
In Week 1, Heidi Klum pressed hers for Norwegian singer Angelina Jordan. In Week 2, Howie Mandel was supposed to have the honor, but Simon Cowell stole it to support dance group Boogie Storm. Howie came back in Week 3 and pressed his for acrobatic dance group V.Unbeatable. Finally, Alesha Dixon pressed hers for shadow dance group Silhouettes in Week 4.
Angelina, Boogie Storm and Silhouettes all missed out on the Top 5, while V.Unbeatable won the competition.
(stolen from Howie Mandel)
Season 15's format is identical to that of Seasons 11-14.
Terry Crews pressed the first Golden Buzzer of the season for Voices of Our City Choir. Sofia Vergara was next, pressing her first-ever Golden Buzzer for 10-year-old singer Roberta Battaglia. Heidi Klum came third, pressing her Golden Buzzer for singer Cristina Rae. Simon Cowell followed, pressing his for dance group W.A.F.F.L.E. Crew. Lastly, Howie Mandel gave his to spoken-word poet Brandon Leake.
With production being shut down for a period of time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Judge Cuts were altered for this season so there were no Golden Buzzers from guest judges this season.
Voices of Our City Choir
- Since the upgraded format was introduced in Season 10, four out of five winners, Paul Zerdin, Grace VanderWaal, Darci Lynne, and Kodi Lee had received golden buzzers, with Kodi, Darci, and Grace receiving it in the Auditions, and Paul receiving it in the Judge Cuts.
- Seven out of the eight Season 10 golden buzzer acts reached the Semifinals. Four reached the Finals.
- Eight out of the nine Season 11 golden buzzer acts reached the Semifinals. Five reached the Finals.
- Eight out of the nine Season 12 golden buzzer acts reached the Semifinals. Five reached the Finals.
- Seven out of the nine Season 13 golden buzzer acts reached the Semifinals. Three reached the Finals.
- Seven out of the nine Season 14 golden buzzer acts reached the Semifinals. Six reached the Finals.
- Starting in Season 11, the host of the show could use the golden buzzer on an act.
- Angelica Hale is the first act to receive the Golden Buzzer twice on AGT. She was followed by V.Unbeatable.
- Both Angelica Hale and V.Unbeatable received their first Golden Buzzer in the Judge Cuts: Angelica's was given by Chris Hardwick, while V.Unbeatable's was given by Dwyane Wade. Their second was given in their respective Champions seasons by Howie Mandel.
- Chris Hardwick is the only guest judge to use the golden buzzer twice.
- Zurcaroh is the only act to receive a Golden Buzzer on both AGT and one of the international versions of the franchise (France's Got Talent). In both instances, it was the show's host that gave them the honor (Tyra Banks and David Ginola).
- Four of the five acts that received the Golden Buzzer from the show's host (including Champions) have reached the finals, all placing in the top 3 (Zurcaroh and Detroit Youth Choir both finished 2nd, Light Balance and Kseniya Simonova both placed 3rd). Season 11 was the only exception.
- Season 14 sets the record for the most Golden Buzzer acts advancing to the Finals (6), while Season 13 holds the record for the least advancing (3).
- Brad Henderson is the only Golden Buzzer act that was never televised.
- Paul Zerdin is the only winning act to receive the Golden Buzzer from a guest judge from Judge Cuts (that being Marlon Wayans).
- Boogie Storm is the first and currently only act to receive the Golden Buzzer from a judge who stole that opportunity from another judge (in this case, Simon Cowell stole the opportunity from Howie Mandel). They are also the first act to receive the Golden Buzzer from the same judge in two different series (again, Simon Cowell, in BGT and Champions 2).
- V.Unbeatable is the first act to receive two Golden Buzzers in back-to-back seasons (Season 14 and Champions 2).