Every season has debut competitors. Some go on to become Challenge legends, but other competitors just do one season and move on with their lives.
This list is for the one-and-dones. As the show progressed, we saw fewer people fit this criterion, but there still are a lot of notable competitors who made a splash on their only season. Anyone who did a second season is omitted from this list. Therefore, many stellar rookies will be off this list because they did a subsequent seasons.
Challengers are assessed on their performance, personality, and relevant storylines. Of course, there is some opinion in this list, but it’s just for fun. Don’t take it too seriously.
Road Rules All Stars: Rachel Campos Duffy
This is the season where Rachel met her too-to-be husband Sean with whom she’d never stop procreating. The San Francisco alumnae was just lucky to be alive this time around, surviving a fatal car crash a couple of years prior to the show. She got the Road Rules experience, the handsome reward, and a husband. What more could you want?
The Real World/ Road Rules Challenge: Janet Choi
Contenders: Janet, Jason, Kalle, Kefla, Neil, Noah
With half the cast only appearing once, and all of the cast making it to the final, it was kind of hard to pick one person. Janet gets the win for being the best girl on the Real World team. She was the only girl to bungee jump, and was kinda-sorta flirty with Noah from Road Rules.
Challenge 2000: Heather B.
Contenders: Heather, Kat, Los, Teck
The Real World New York alumnae has gone on to become a professional radio personality, and during her time on The Challenge she was still a strong personality. She was an advocate for team Real World, but the banter between her and Amaya added a sense of humor into the show. Despite not winning, she was a strong competitor who didn’t take the game too seriously.
Extreme Challenge: Christian Breivik
Contenders: Christian, Kameelah, Michelle, Rebecca
The Norwegian wonder, Christian excelled in many of the challenges. He even earned a cameo in LL Cool J’s film Rollerball and walked across a tightrope with no harness. Sadly, his appearance is more memorable for his introduction to racial slurs and getting into a fight with Ayanna.
Battle of the Seasons: Holly Brentson
Contenders: Becky, Belou, Chadwick, Chris, Danny R., Flora, Holly B.,Josh, Kelley, Lindsay, Mike J., Sharon, Stephen, Tara
Holly and Chadwick came into Battle of the Seasons, immediately playing an aggressive game. After Chadwick was eliminated, Holly was left in the game to fend for herself. She was a good competitor, and the only female representation from Road Rules Maximum Velocity Tour we ever saw. Also, she was the only girl who never made an agreement to split the money from the final. She left with no money, but Coral got her full $50,000.
It was hard not to put Belou in this position. While Holly played a better game and lasted much longer, Belou and her baby are the things of Challenge folklore.
Battle of the Sexes: Ellen Cho
Contenders: Antoine, Christina, Colin, David E., Ellen, Eric J., Gladys, Jake, Lori, Melissa, Puck
With huge names like Puck on this season, it was his nemesis Ellen that stood above the rest. She was a staple of the Girl Team’s inner circle and made some cutthroat decisions. She was a great blend of confidence, strength, authenticity, and a little bit bitchy. To this day, fans still remember her for dominance in the game.
The Gauntlet: Sarah Greyson
Contenders: Dave, Irulan, Matt, Rachel B., Sarah, Steve
No contest here. Sarah’s legacy as 5-time Gauntlet winner and Challenge Champion was remained unmatched. She was the perfect underdog and defied the odds to win the game.
The Inferno: Kendal Sheppard
Contenders: Christena, Kendal, Leah, Mallory
Best known for having a fling with The Miz, Kendal won the whole season. She also volunteered to go into the Inferno because Timmy didn’t want to face Leah. Kendal is one of the sweetest girls to do the show, and it’s nice to see her do well in the game.
Battle of the Sexes 2: Arissa Hill
Contenders: Angela, Arissa, Chris, Jacquese, Nick, Shawn, Sophia, Steven
On a season where the boys dominated, Arissa was regarded as the weak link on the girls’ team. In fact, Mark threw a mission just to keep Arissa around. She made it to the final, befriended Coral, and did as well as you could expect in the end.
The Inferno 2: Jamie Chung
Contenders: Jamie, Karamo, Shavonda
Now a famous actress, Jamie made it all the way to the end of the season and won next to Landon, The Miz, and Darrell. She definitely earned her spot on the Good Guys team, and her story on The Challenge is one of the best rookie performances we’ve seen.
The Gauntlet 2: Jo Rhodes
Contenders: Jo, Danny
Between the two contenders, both had early and dramatic exits. Of course, Jo’s tirade is a legend at this point, so she get the win here.
Fresh Meat: Linette Gallo
Contenders: Aviv, Chanda, Jesse, Johnnie, Linette
The last picked Fresh Meat, Linette proved her worth as a competitor and Challenge personality. She had drama with her alliance, hooked up with Theo, and won a few missions. While Aviv won the final, Linette had a much more active role in the progression of the season.
The Duel: Svetlana Shusterman
The only single-season appearance on The Duel, it would be hard to be more memorable than Svetlana. The brat we saw on Key West was gone and instead we got an underdog fighter. She made it to the final, ultimately losing to Jodi with grace.
The Inferno 3: No One
Every single person on this season has multiple Challenge appearances. Janelle probably wishes she just stopped here, so she’s the honorary winner.
The Gauntlet 3: Angel Turlington
Contenders: Alex, Angel, Zach
People expected a loud fighter, but Angel appeared on The Gauntlet 3 as a lover. She was eliminated quickly, as were all of the single-season-Challengers this season. Her brief flirting with Nehemiah made her time on Gauntlet 3 a little more memorable.
The Island: Dave Malinosky
Contenders: Ashli, Dave
My decision came down to the guy who quit or the girl who split her toe. On a season like The Island, the guy who quit the show made the theme more memorable. Dave gave up his spot on the season, and apparently The Challenge, for a burger and a babe.
The Duel 2: Brittini Sherrod
Both Duels gave as a rookie who made it all the way to the end, and this time it was Landon’s partner Brittini. She came in second, just like Svetlana, but her mild demeanor and ability to kick ass made her a perfect pairing for Landon.
The Ruins: Brianna Taylor
Brianna is best remember for attempting to take out Susie. She only survived three episode of The Ruins, but at least she went out of the game with some guts.
Fresh Meat 2: Pete Connolly
Contenders: Carley, Jeff, Pete, Noor, Sandy, Sydney
Pete seemed the like type who’d be guaranteed to do multiple seasons. A solid rookie performance where he came in third, and a budding romance with Jenn left viewers wanting more. Instead, he focused on career, but his time on Fresh Meat 2 made us believe he could have made some money from The Challenge.
Cutthroat: Ayiiia Elizarraras
Ayiiia’s quick challenge appearance was marked by some fighting with Cara Maria. Other than that, she was fortunate to be on the gray team. She didn’t get a whole lot of air time, though.
Rivals: Mike Ross
Contenders: Adam, Mike
The little nerd that could, Mike went all the way to the end with Leroy. He was flown in as a replacement, had a brief fling with Paula, and never saw an elimination. Nobody expected he’d go so far, but he defied the odds.
Battle of the Exes: Heather Marter
Contenders: Heather, Nate, Priscilla
Heather and Dustin were actually a couple on Exes. They started off doing well, but they got sent home when Dustin split his knee open. Sadly, this was all we’d ever see of Heather on The Challenge.
Battle of the Seasons: Sam McGinn
Contenders: Lacey, Laura, McKenzie, Sam
The eventual winner, Sam was the underdog on team San Diego. Best remembered for being the victim of Frank and Zach’s outbursts and for breaking a potted plant with her head. Sam is probably better than her reputation implies, but at least she got a championship check to leave with.
Rivals 2: Heather Cooke
Contenders: Anastasia, Cooke, Marlon
Coming in second is a good accomplishment for a rookie, but Heather’s journey to the final was a wild one. She was voted into elimination three times, lost her original parter, and had to deal with the drama from the vets. To this day, people still ask for her return.
Free Agents: Brandon Swift
Another winner be default, Swift probably only made it midway through the season thanks to The Draw. He wasn’t the biggest name in the game, but he also wasn’t the worst player.
Battle of the Exes 2: Adam Kuhn
Contenders: Adam, Brittany, John J.
Adam was built for The Challenge, so it’s a bit of a surprise he never came back. He won three eliminations and was probably part of the stand-out rookie team (performance-wise). He was kind of short with Brittany, but can you blame him? He kept going into eliminations.
Battle of the Bloodlines: Mitch Reid
Contenders: Anthony, Brianna, Candice, Emily, Jill, Larissa, Mike, Mitch, Raphy, Rianna, Stephen
One half of the runner-up team, Mitch is regarded as the brains of the operations… and probably the muscle too. He was great at puzzles, but he almost lost his elimination against Raphy. Fortunately, Dario derailed Raphy and Mitch carried his team to the end.
Rivals 3: Nate Siebenmark
Contenders: Brandon, Cheyenne, Nate
I know Cheyenne made the final, but Nate was probably more memorable if you’re going off of Rivals 3 alone. He was in the middle of Are You the One? alliance drama, hooked up with Nicole, and began the season refusing the sky drive. He also won a challenge and an elimination, so at least he wasn’t a complete chump like Brandon.
Invasion of the Champions: Theo King-Bradley
Contenders: Anika, Anthony, Bruno, Theo
All of the single-season Challengers left before entering the Oasis. So, Theo becomes the most memorable for quitting and making TJ angry.
Dirty Thirty: Amo
By default, Amo gets this position. And you know what, that’s totally cool. She came onto the season as an unapologetic LGBTQ+ activist and kicked some ass in the missions, even eliminating Tony. She only survived for about six episodes, but left a good impression on the show.
Vendettas: Alicia Write
Contenders: Alicia, Eddie, Victor
Despite only appearing on a few episodes, Alicia left her mark on The Challenge due to her associated with Cory. Her vendetta Kam went on to be a Challenge superstar, Cory is Mr. MTV, and Alicia is relevant by association. After all, her competition for this list are two guys. One was edited out by MTV, the other edited MTV out of his life.
Final Reckoning: Angela Babicz
Contenders: Angela, Chuck, Jozea
Best known as Bananas’s fling of the seasons, Angela wasn’t an amazing competitor. Still, she was 10 times better than anyone ever anticipated. She was never the weakest competitor, even though viewers where left with that impression after she threw a fit when she got hit by pillows.
War of the Worlds: Ashley Cain
Contenders: Alan, Ashley C., Chase, Gus, J.P., Julia, Liz, Morgan, Shaleen
It’s kind of funny, Ashley was much more anticipated prior to doing this season. When he got onto the show, he was a strong but seemed to fade into the background. It wasn’t until he got into a fight with Josh and then a reunion fight with Paulie that we saw the beast come out. I don’t think we’ve seen all that Ashley had to offer, and I’m hopeful he’ll get another shot.
War of the Worlds 2: Esther Falana
Contenders: Esther, Idris, Nicole B., Sean
The most random appearance ever, this YouTuber is more memorable for avoiding elimination and being regarded as weak. She did eventually lose to Georgia, but she didn’t get thrown into the Proving Ground until midway through. As a single mom, she did well, but Challenge fans are still scratching their heads on this casting decision.
Total Madness: Bayleigh Dayton
Contenders: Asaf, Bayleigh, Jenn L., Swaggy C.
There is a chance Bayleigh will come back. Now that she competed on Big Brother 22, it seems like she might move away from the Reality TV world. Swaggy retired, and if Bayleigh never comes back, she left as a finalist. Sadly, an injury took her out of the game, but she did have an amazing rookie performance.