Sometimes, we get annoying twist that don’t enhance the game. In fact, we’ve seen a lot of them and I’ve already talked about the worst twists ever.
Other twists are pretty good. They change the structure of the game in a way that encourages organic drama, pure competition, and less security for losers.
Once again, twists are not always clearly defined. Formatting decisions are not considered twists, so “Rivals” or “Exes” won’t be considered. A good way to differentiate twists from format: TJ will announce the format at the beginning of the show while a twist is only announced the moment it will occur.
This list is meant to be fun, and not too serious.
10. Mercenaries (Final Reckoning)
While the Heavy Hitters and Mercenaries from seasons like Cutthroat and Vendettas were simply ploys to create buzzworthy moments, the Final Reckoning cast took the feedback from frustrated Vendettas viewers. These Mercenaries fought for a spot in the game, which shook things up. In fact, Ashley & Hunter would go on to win the season. Some people don’t like this style of gameplay, but at least the Mercenaries has reason to win.
9. Turncoats (War of the Worlds 2)
This twist is low on the list because it was good in theory, but the cast didn’t use it well. While Jordan got a win because she switched to Team UK, that team had a lot of fat that needed to trimmed. The UK kids could have really shaken up the game by moving to Team US… but it never happened.
8. Black Skulls (Rivals 3)
The third installment of Rivals gets a lot of hate, and a lot of that criticism was fair. However, the Black Skull twist was an interesting way to allow rookies to escape elimination. Keep in mind, the daily challenge loser would get straight into elimination, so the winning team would need to pick two other teams to potentially sacrifice. People like Devin & Cheyenne got lucky, while others would experience bad luck throughout the show.
7. Prospect’s Choice (War of the Worlds)
At the beginning of War of the Worlds, the Impending Dune challenge allowed the Veterans to gain a sense of Prospects’ abilities. The veterans competed as well, and they thought they’d be able pick their partner if they won. They were wrong, and the power was given to the Prospects. Keep in mind, many of them hadn’t seen the show before, so their only assessment was Impending Dune. This allowed a unique power dynamic and some interesting pairings.
6. Battle of the Ex-iled (Battle of the Exes 2)
Redemptions have had various effects on the game, but it was best implemented on Battle of the Exes 2. The hidden Ex-iled house had an elimination-style challenge each week. This allowed eliminated cast members to fight back into the game, but the earlier you were eliminated, the harder your road to redemption. Bananas & Nany had to win four times to make the return, while Zach & Jonna would have only needed one win.
5. The Pardon (Fresh Meat)
Seasons like The Inferno and The Gauntlet worked really well with Lifeshields and Pardons, but Fresh Meat did it best. After being nominated, a team on the chopping block could win the challenge and pardon themselves from Exile. This would allow the team to choose a replacement team. There were always issues of gender inequality with the Infernos, but with the teams on Fresh Meat, the twist was much more balanced. Though the Pardon was only received once, the allure of being able to save yourself made the challenge after nominations interesting.
4. Late Season Purges (Dirty Thirty, Vendettas, Final Reckoning, War of the Worlds)
By the time Vendettas rolled around, the concept of a “lay-up” was part of the Challenge lexicon. Similarly, the concept of a Purge was becoming increasingly common. Late season Purges are beneficial to the game because it forces “lay-ups” out of the final. Generally, the weaker competitors have lost these and the stronger competitors have survived. This meant the final became more competitive.
3. Winner Steal All (Rivals 3, Final Reckoning)
I know some people hate this twist, but it certainly generated some memorable moments. The final challenges on Rivals 3 and Final Reckoning were battles between teams and amongst teammates. In the end Johnny took all of the prize money, leaving Sarah penniless then Ashley did the same to Hunter. The biggest reason I like this twist is because of the Rivals 3 final. I feel awful for Sarah, but we all knew Johnny & Sarah were the frontrunners on Rivals 3. This made the ending interesting when it otherwise would have been the most predictable final yet.
2. The Double Cross (Dirty Thirty)
Free Agents used luck (or lack thereof) to send a competitor into elimination. Dirty Thirty flipped the script, and pulling a double cross meant you’d be safe and pick the second elimination player. This encouraged some dirty moves, and exposed people’s true alliances.
1. The Draw (Free Agents)
Easily a fan favorite, The Draw removed power from losers while simultaneously giving winners power. Competitors who win would receive immunity and the ability to remove send one person into elimination. The losers, usually the bottom half, would flip cards trying to avoid the kill card. If you see a skull, that means you’re going into elimination. No one can save you but yourself.