Over the years, we have seen a lot of predictable casting on The Challenge. Occasionally we will see an epic return or a cast member who overstays their welcome. Then, we see some really random casting choices.
These people were added to the show for unknown reasons, or their placement in the formatting made no sense. There are times when MTV will fudge the casting to get big names on the show (like Bananas and Nany on Exes 2), but at least that makes some sense. Production wanted a person on the show, and they’d do anything to make it work.
This list is for the people that someone must have wanted, but they certainly weren’t the viewers. They didn’t add much to casting, and they seemed like an odd fit on the show.
In some case, I will share the likely reason the person was cast. Some of this is speculation, so take it with a grain of salt.
This post was inspired by a Reddit post asking if Lacey was the most ransoming casting choice ever. If she showed up on an individual season like a Duel, I would have agreed with the randomness. However, it makes sense she would be invited onto Battle of the Seasons. I’m sure production was on the phone begging Johanna to be on Team Austin, but when she declined, Lacey was asked. By this point, production wouldn’t want to lose Danny & Melinda and Wes is always a big name on the show.
10. Isaac Stout
After a seven season hiatus, Isaac just popped up on The Challenge like he never missed a beat. Usually Challengers fade out of the spotlight after a season or two, but for a rookie to take a seven season gap is unheard of. The only reason Isaac may have been asked to return was due to the departure of Team Sydney on Battle of the Seasons. Otherwise, it seems like they just pulled Isaac’s name out of thin air.
9. Simone Kelly (Rivals 3)
Thomas was generally one of the nicer guys on the show, though he did have his share of fights. Meanwhile, Simone only met Thomas briefly on Battle of the Exes 2. Apparently they got into a silly fight while playing drinking games and Simone flung a bunch of drinks at Thomas. What’s particularly peculiar is that production didn’t even use this footage really. We saw two seconds in a Battle of the Exes 2 trailer and the fight was never shown in a proper episode. Footage that was unimportant on Exes 2 suddenly became important for Rivals 3. In all honesty, it probably would have been easier to find an alternate male partner for Simone, but I know production wanted to keep Thomas on the season after his appearance on Bloodlines.
8. Tyrie Ballard (Rivals 2)
To be honest, a lot of the men on Rivals 2 seem out of place. I picked Tyrie because there’s very little footage of him and Dunbar ever interacting, let alone being rivals. We basically have one confessional from The Island to go off of. But, the bigger mystery on the show was the Frank and Bananas pairing, as neither had appeared on the show with the other. TJ called it “Twitter beef,” but it was really just an attempt to keep a veteran on the show and force an upcoming rookie on the show. Recent interviews seem to imply production wanted Dustin on the show to be paired with Frank after their fight on Battle of the Seasons. This would leave Bananas with Dunbar, as they do have beef. Tyrie might have just been a replacement due to Dustin’s absence. Whether or not these rumors are true, the Dunbar/Tyrie pairing made no sense to anyone.
7. Asaf Goren
About four years after Are You the One? 4, Asaf made his Challenge debut. By this point, everything that made him relevant was irrelevant. Production seemingly stopped caring about Are You the One, his relationship with Tori was never acknowledged, and his Israeli flag meant nothing. Asaf would have been a good addition on War of the Worlds, but it made no sense to include him on Total Madness. What made his addition especially odd was the fact that production never even said he was from Are You the One, instead crediting his Israeli reality shows.
6. Shane Landrum (Invasion of the Champions)
Let’s be clear, Shane’s return in 2017 was a great one. Eleven years after his last season, Shane came back as a better competitor than ever. But out of all the old schoolers, why was he the chosen one? After all, he never even won an elimination or made a final. Allegedly production wanted Rachel on this season and she mentioned that Shane wanted to make a return. This may explain why he got a call, but he was so far removed from the rest of the Underdogs that he as good as a true rookie in the game.
5. Jo Rhodes
At one point in time, MTV wanted an old school vs. new school challenge. This showed morphed into Rookies vs. Veterans, but the cast was already put into motion. This allowed Jo to make her return to MTV after eleven years away, but she was placed on the Rookies team. She realized this was a bad fit within a night and decided to storm off the island of Tibago in an unforgettable fashion.
4. Alan Valdez
A lot of the casting on “War of the Worlds” was questionable. Many of the prospects were Americans, and the bulk of the others were from the UK. Then, we had a few people from other countries. Alan brought some welcome representation from Mexico, but he was from telenovelas? He wasn’t even a reality star, and we a virtual unknown to the other competitors. At least someone like JP was from an MTV show in Brazil, which would make sense when casting for an MTV reality show. You have to wonder how the casting team even stumbled upon Alan in the first place.
3. Esther Falana
When MTV decided to cast an all-UK team, we were bound to see some unknowns on the show. On paper, someone like Nicole Bass seemed like an obvious choice. Someone like Idris seemed like he would fit really well on The Challenge. Then we got Esther, from a UK YouTube series. In her own words, Esther wasn’t the fittest competitor, and this surprised absolutely no one. My best guess, MTV casting found Esther on YouTube while looking for clips for Ridiculousness.
2. Camila Nakagawa (Battle of the Seasons)
MTV fooled no one when they placed Camila on the “Fresh Meat” team on Battle of the Seasons. I have no doubt they could have gotten another Fresh Meat girl for the show, but for some reason they went with Camila, who had just won Battle of the Exes. Her placement on Exes was questionable enough, but there was at least some footage of her and Johnny talking on Cutthroat. Anyone with a search engine could verify the inaccuracy of Camila on Battle of the Seasons.
1. Jamie Murray (The Gauntlet 2)
No one, not even Jamie himself, can explain why he was placed on the Rookies team on The Gauntlet 2. He had compete on and won two seasons: The Extreme Challenge and Battle of the Sexes. Likely this was a result of production moving from a new school vs. old school format to Rookies vs. Veterans. Left to shuffle the pieces around, Jamie was forced onto the Rookie team. Production probably should have just dropped someone like Ace who was hardly a Challenge veteran at the time, but instead the just hoped no one would notice the error.