There is a view called VIEW_TITLES. It is quite complicated. Executing a SELECT query against it returns 189 rows.
SELECT TOP 200 *
takes 13 seconds to execute.
However, executing an identical, when it comes to the returned rows, query:
takes an indefinite amount of time - I cancelled the execution after 5 minutes.
I have no idea how to explain this behaviour. It looks like a bug in the optimizer to me.
The only workaround I found looks like this:
SELECT TOP (SELECT COUNT(*) FROM dbo.VIEW_TITLES) *
I know it's a pretty dirty hack, but it works. And it is still better than hard-coding some fixed number in the TOP expression.