The Challenge

10 Surprising Challenge Returns

The Challenge cast is often predictable, and we often know who’s going to be selected for the cast before the wheels even go up. However, we sometimes get thrown curve balls. Here are some of the more surprising cast selections we’ve seen on some of the more recent Challenges.

10. Mark (The Duel 2)


After “retiring” on The Gauntlet 2, Mark skipped 5 Challenge before returning for The Duel 2. Were we surprised that his retirement didn’t last? No. But we had no idea when he would leave his retirement home.

9. Isaac (Free Agents)


Despite the fact that Isaac was a fan favorite on The Duel 2 and Real World Sydney, he was absent for 7 seasons after The Duel 2 (although he was almost on Battle of the Seasons). Still, his return was a pleasant surprise for people who had been waiting to see him for 5 years.

8. Rachel (The Island)


Rachel was a staple of The Challenge during the early and mid 2000’s. After 2005’s Inferno 2 she went on a 5 season hiatus. Both her and her BFF Veronica were absent from The Challenge until Rachel reemerged on 2008’s The Island.

7. Wes (The Ruins)


Wes seemed like he was going to become a Challenge staple after his impressive showings on both Fresh Meat and The Duel, but after winning The Duel he “retired.” Fans thought he was being sincere, but he came back 4 seasons later to seek vengeance on those who wronged him (Johanna and Kenny). Apparently, this season was enough to give him Challenge fever again.

6. Lacey (Battle of the Seasons)

surprise lacey

OK, this wasn’t a Challenge return because she never did a Challenge, but Lacey appeared on Battle of the Seasons 7 years and 11 Challenge seasons after Real World Austin. Her appearance was quick, but surprising nonetheless.

5. Frank (The Gauntlet 3)


Frank seemed out of place as a rookie on The Gauntlet 3 because his 5 season gap between then and Battle of the Sexes 2 allowed a new crowd of Challengers to dominate the show. Still, his return wasn’t predicted and welcomed by the older fans of the show.

4. Alton (Battle of the Seasons)


Alton is clearly Challenge material, but once years started to pass after his Inferno 3 appearance, we thought we’d seen the last of him. His appearance on Battle of the Seasons 8 seasons after The Inferno 3 was surprising for all the right and wrong reasons.

3. Veronica (The Ruins)


Veronica was once the most influential Road Rules girls, but after a string of Challenges ending with The Inferno 2 she dropped of the scene. Seven seasons later she returned sneaky as ever, but without her main posse.

2. CT (Rivals)


It’s not the length in time that made CT’s return to Rivals so surprising. It’s the fact that he was allowed to return after beating up Adam on The Duel 2 AND he was Adam’s partner. It was a risk, but one that paid off even though he lost right before the final.

1. Trishelle (Battle of the Seasons)


After The Inferno, Trishelle seemed that she was over The Challenge. Then rumors of her potential return started popping up after her Real World season was reunited. Still, Trishelle didn’t return. Finally, 8 years and 14 seasons later Trishelle returned and had her best Challenge performance to date.

I wonder what casting surprises we’ll see next season!


  1. I thought these were surprising returns as well… Landon, Ruthie (Duel 2), Darrell, Syrus, Ibis, Susie (Ruins), Jillian (Fresh Meat 2), Abram (CutThroat).

    And like Lacey, Jo never did a Challenge, but her appearance on Gauntlet 2 eleven years and ten Challenge seasons after Real World San Francisco will definitely be the most surprising cast-member on the challenge and boy did she leave a ever lasting memory lol.

  2. I agree Totti. Loved the Landon & Darrell return especially.

    I love having at least once surprising return each season. I almost love them more than seeing new rookies. I’m always down for a return from Roadies Mark/Rachel/Verionica. Loved having Trishelle and Alton both back form BAS2.

  3. I admit before the Battle of the Seasons (2012) before I heard the cast, I thought Trishelle wasn’t coming back. I was pleasantly surprised. Unsure if she’ll come back after the Rivals 2 disaster.

  4. Now a days BMP are so lazy and stupid with the whole casting process that sadly you will never conjure another list like this ever again.
    The second they can’t cast someone from Real World or even Road Rules and Fresh Meat they will resort to going to the bottom of the barral and get one of those thirsty AYTO noobs.

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