A while ago, I did a ranking of Challenge seasons 15-24. Many moons and five seasons laster, The Challenge is about to turn 30. Here are the past ten seasons ranked… but remember, this is all just my opinion.
10. Battle of the Bloodlines- Season 27
Rather than doing a third season of Fresh Meat, MTV decided to bring in the family (and in some cases, pseudo-family) of cast members. This season was notably fragmented, with many cliffhangers and drawn out storylines. Many of these storylines were uncomfortable to watch and resulted in extremely personal drama. The good from this season? Cara Maria took out Bananas and finally scored a win.
9. Rivals 2- Season 24
If this was your first Challenge season, you’d probably love it. It was a good combo of beloved veterans and the newbies we just saw on Battle of the Seasons. However, this season seemed very recycled, and all of the rivalries seemed fabricated. The editing this season seemed very choppy and the lack of competition, especially on the woman’s side, made the ending very predictable.
8. Rivals 3- Season 28
Unpopular opinion- I liked Rivals 3 more than Rivals 2. Popular opinion- It still wasn’t a very good season. I liked the fact that some of the newbies were given the opportunity to become new characters in the show, but there were two major flaws in this season. First, the editing was a major issue. With way too many cliffhangers, the season seemed massively drawn out. Secondly, the lack of competition made the whole season predictable. As much as people hate Bananas for taking Sarah’s prize money, I can’t blame production for trying to spice up an otherwise predictable final.
7. Free Agents-Season 25
Free Agents was a good season with decent challenges and a lot of major characters in the show. However, it still feels like a forgettable season to me. There were no real surprises in the casting and not a lot of drama throughout the season. Unlike The Duel, this season never promised to be an entirely individual game, but I don’t think anyone enjoyed the fact that the final was mostly pair competitions, proving we may never get a truly individual Challenge.
6. Battle of the Seasons- Season 23
Battle of the Seasons was a solid attempt at introducing a new generation to The Challenge. While the competitions weren’t the best, the fact that we were given a cast with some surprises and a break from the regular challengers was welcomed change of pace for the long-time viewers. While the format may never be repeated again, it a good attempt at rebranding Battle of the Seasons.
5. Cutthroat- Season 20
The last true team Challenge, Cutthroat made the competition more competitive by splitting the cast into three teams. With a higher-than-average number of rookies on the season, this proved to be a season where vets weren’t guaranteed a victory but the rookies could make it to the end. Some notable Challengers started their development as Challengers on this season, and many still-relevant storylines on the show began on this season.
4. Invasion of the Champions- Season 29
The most recent season, this season piggybacked off The Real World and introduced a twist to The Challenge. Unlike The Ruins, this season allowed the Underdogs to weed out some of the weaker players before taking on the Champions. This proved to be a good idea, because the Underdogs were actually a capable team. The final, similar to Free Agents, was in a formate that no one wanted, but it was an interesting way to end the season.
3. Battle of the Exes- Season 22
The original Exes was a good attempt at using relationship-based pairings to craft Challenge drama. The competition was solid, and even though Bananas won this season, he wasn’t the clear frontrunner throughout the season. This season included pairings that reach far back into Challenge history did a good job of brining back a lot of the veterans, As great as this season was, I will always look back and wish CT and Diem won.
2. Rivals- Season 21
The original Rivals did one thing that the second two seasons failed to do- cast real rivalries. Most pairings on this season had some very real and easily remembered drama, and that kept the show engaging. The competitions got repetitive, while many of them being platform-over-water based, but this was also the first season with an overnight final. With a lot of drama and solid competitors, Rivals stands out as a great season with a format the worked well.
1. Battle of the Exes 2- Season 26
Perhaps tainted by the fact that two of the cast members passed away after filming, Battle of the Exes 2 proved to be more interesting than the first. This season stands out due to the fact that strategy played a huge role in making it to the end and that the game wasn’t dominated by Bananas. The Ex-iled twist added an exciting layer of competition to the show, but the fact that alliances stabbed each other in the back and the massive power shifts made the season engaging from start to finish.