Each season, we see the format get tweaked a little bit. While some elements of the game have become mainstays since their introduction (like eliminations or overnight finals), others only appeared once or for a handful of seasons. These are the elements introduced to trick cast members and make a season different from its predecessors.
A twist isn’t going to be the core format of a show, so Rivals or Exes aren’t necessarily twists. A good way to differentiate a twist from a format would depend on when TJ introduced the game element to the cast. Things introduced up front are formatting decisions. Thing introduced after the first day are usually twists.
If you’re looking for the best twists, I’ve got a list for that.
Once again, this is just for fun. Don’t take it too seriously.
10. The Rookie Cottage (The Gauntlet 3)
Unlike most team season, The Gauntlet 3 did not award money for winning the daily missions. So, they tried to withhold luxuries from the losers and forced the Rookies into a smaller cabin after losing a tug-of-war early in the season. In the end, the rookies just shacked up with veterans and the cabin was a useless twist.
9. That One Double Elimination (War of the Worlds)
Remember the time TJ just decided we needed two teams to leave? So the Tribunal voted in Kyle & Mattie, who chose to compete against JP & Natalie, who then chose CT & Julia to come down to the Killing Floor. This seemed so out of place, especially early in the season. Plus, a new team could have been assembled, but it wasn’t. Kyle and Mattie won and stayed a pair while one of the show’s stars was a casualty.
8. The Troika/ Tribunal (Vendettas, War of the Worlds 2, Total Madness)
The concept of having three people determine eliminations seemed cool, but there are inherently some flaws here. Firstly, why are the men in charge of women’s eliminations and vice-versa? Secondly, Total Madness destroyed the concept when the tribunals had up to seven people. The only time this was kind of OK was War of the Worlds, as there was no gender imbalances, but it still wasn’t the best twist because fattening the winners circle make it harder to make big moves.
7. Armageddon (Final Reckoning)
The elimination on Final Reckoning seemed cool on paper, but in practice, the cast turned it into burn-vote-central. There were two aspects of the elimination process. First, teams privately vote one other team into elimination. Secondly, the selected team chooses their opponent from the pool of people who voted them in. Together, these elements don’t work. I actually think it would have been cooler to have mob mentality, so a lot of people jump on the bandwagon to vote in one team, rather than orchestrate burn votes to guarantee a match up.
6. Day 1 Purges (Dirty Thirty, Final Reckoning)
Purges have become customary on The Challenge, but six people left at the very beginning of Dirty Thirty and Final Reckoning. Of course, these large Purges only sent people to Redemption, another twist. Was it needed? No. Was it fun? Still no.
5. Grenades (Vendettas, Final Reckoning)
The idea of winning a power that could hurt one competitor’s ability to perform was kind of cool in theory. In principle, it flopped. All of the grenade holders would try to avoid conflict and just take money. When they did use the grenade, it was either underpowered or overpowered. This twist then reappeared in the Final Reckoning finale. These grenades were actually useful, but no one earned them. Every team got a grenade just because.
4. Mercenaries/ Heavy Hitters (Cutthroat, Bloodlines, Vendettas)
On Cutthroat, the scene of CT carrying Bananas was shown everywhere, but the concept of Heavy Hitters seriously ruined the competition for the sake of getting a buzz worthy moment. On Bloodlines, Zach and CT came in as Heavy Hitters, and once again, it ruined the competitive nature of the game. The worst was Vendettas where eight Mercenaries came into the game and tried to eliminate full-time competitors. We got some good battles, but I don’t want to lose great competitors to fully-rested Mercenaries who have nothing to gain. Worst of all, Mercenaries showed up in the Vendettas final to play a game of cards where only Kam was penalized.
3. Team Captains (The Gauntlet 2)
On The Gauntlet 2 and The Gauntlet 3, winning a mission meant your entire team was safe. Losing meant one teammate would definitely go home, and while this format isn’t bad, The Gauntlet 2 jeopardized the same person each week. If a team lost, their designated captain would have to go into The Gauntlet. Winner of The Gauntlet would become captain, which resulted in people like Derrick, Kina, and Alton seeing many Gauntlets while other people skated to the end. This is basically the opposite of the Red Skull twist.
2. Redemption South Africa (Final Reckoning)
Redemptions are polarizing twists, and while they’re not inherently awful, they were seriously messed up on Final Reckoning. Thanks to the double-cross, only two people competed. This meant many people went home without getting the chance for a redemption competition. Meanwhile, the loser of the redemption match stayed in Redemption. It was nonsensical, luck-based, and awarded losers.
1. Bloodline Bound (Battle of the Bloodlines)
In retrospect, Bloodlines is a disaster of a season. The worst part: many people went home without competing in elimination because their bloodlines lost elimination. Not only did we lose people like Camila and Dario because their bloodlines lost, but some people had no immunity because they were on coed teams. Same-sex teams like Bananas & Vince were immune during girls’ weeks, Jenna & Brianna were immune during boys’ weeks, but Cara Maria & Jamie were never immune.
Not all twists are bad. I think we have some good ones to talk about soon.