Production has created a lot of casting decisions that gave us epic seasons. Often, they know who to cast in order to create an interesting show. They put all of the pieces in place, place enemies under the same roof, and hope for the best. Usually, we get some really good footage.
Sometimes, we see all of the pieces in place but we never get the storyline production anticipated. Some people are really good at avoiding drama, other people have matured, and a few people would rather have friends than enemies. There are times when the Challenge fandom anticipated some drama, but the footage showed us nothing.
We almost had this on Double Agents with Nany and Theresa. It seemed like their old drama was squashed, and there was minimal contact between the two. However, they won’t be on this list. They did have a minor confrontation during deliberation, but Nany also did work to brand Theresa as a snake behind her back. Other times, we have the stage set for a blow up but we get nothing.
This is all speculation, but it’s hard to believe production didn’t intentionally put all of these people on the same season with some intent.
Tina/ Cara/ Dave Drama (The Gauntlet)
The early days of The Challenge were also the older days of Road Rules. On The Gauntlet, we had Tina Barta and Cara Zavaleta on the cast. This was the first time a Road Ruler was on the cast with her replacement. While this had potential to stir some animosity, there was another layer to the story. Tina had some flirty exchanges with Dave on Road Rules, and now Cara was dating Dave. This was a complex relationship, but there wasn’t a complex story surrounding it. Tina was voted off early this time, Cara won the season, and Dave only spoke to one of the girls. It would have been interesting to see some replacements vs. OG drama, but that was saved for another season.
Shane & Ryan (Fresh Meat)
Being paired with Melinda on Fresh Meat, Ryan’s relationship drama was bound to be secondary to his partner’s. This is what the viewers saw, but there was a very odd casting decision that was never really acknowledged. Ryan had actually dated Shane in the past. According to Shane on The Aftershow, Ryan was the only Fresh Meat who didn’t originally audition for the Real World. Production thought they were doing something interesting, but the veterans thought they’d just get rid of the Austin kids and their partners.
Susie & Timmy (The Gauntlet 2)
If you have ever listened to Susie talk about her obsession with Road Rules, she started as a fan before getting cast on the show. She really liked watching Timmy, and they eventually met after her Road Rules season. At one point in time they dated. Mark even stated they were previously engaged on The Gauntlet 2 pre-show. While I don’t think this is accurate, Susie has openly mentioned they were quite close in the past. In a perfect universe, The Gauntlet 2 would have been New School vs. Old School and Susie and Timmy would have been on the same team. Instead, Susie was a Rookie while Timmy was a veteran. They had very little interaction on camera, and it’s clear there wasn’t any dirty laundry to air. On The Inferno 3 they were on a team together. However, there was nothing but respect.
As a bonus, Katie & David also dated and broke up prior to Gauntlet 2. There were some playful exchanges between the two that season, but nothing scandalous.
Danny & Melinda (Battle of the Seasons)
This pairing is a bit unique, because we did see some interaction between the two. While the divorced couple must have felt very awkward on this season, their relationship was strictly business. We saw them interact with Knight & Jemmye more than we saw them interact with each other. Production must have been drooling over the potential drama, but the exes remained somewhat distant but otherwise friendly. Huge potential, but no storyline to see.
Ty & Anyone (Rivals 2)
It’s a decently well-known fact that Tyler was Leroy’s original partner for Rivals 2. At the eleventh hour, production said “who cares about storylines” and swapped him for Ty. Allegedly, Ty was more dramatic even though Tyler was a solid competitor and proven Champion. What did we get? A Ty that must have been sedated all season. Was he antagonizing people? No. Did he continue his banter with Emily? No. Did the Ty and Paula relationship continue? No. Production looked silly for making this decision on an otherwise stacked cast.
Zach & Jonna (Rivals 2/ Free Agents)
We all know Zach and Jonna dated on Battle of the Seasons. We would later learn Zach completely ghosted her after that season, but the two were forced to reunite on Rivals 2. Jonna would move on to Jordan that season while Zach wasn’t dating anyone on the show. The exes completely ignored each other on Rivals 2 and on Free Agents. Finally, production had enough and forced them together on Exes 2.
Kellyanne/ Nany/ Cohutta Triangle (Bloodlines)
After six years away from the game Kellyanne returned on Bloodlines. While fans were excited to see her back, production wanted to seize the opportunity to stir up some old drama. We had Cohutta who had just dated Nany on Free Agents, then we had Kellyanne who dated Cohutta on Real World: Sydney and maintained a friendship for years. Cohutta ended up leaving early, and Kellyanne ended up cordially eliminating Nany from the show. Production should have learned from The Ruins that Cohutta is too nice to have Challenge drama.
Cara Maria /Marie /Kyle Triangle (Final Reckoning)
Have you ever wondered why Cara Maria was paired with Marie on Final Reckoning? She had a lot of potential partners, and admittedly many of them had more severe drama with her. Likely it’s because production loves sloppy love triangles, especially in the era of Ex on the Beach. Remember, Marie made out with Kyle at the start of Vendettas. Instead, Marie found herself in plenty of drama but it didn’t really involve Kyle. Cara Maria did find herself in a love triangle, but Kyle was the third wheel. Maybe Paulie is smarter than we think, knew production wanted this type of drama, and staged arguments with Kyle? Just kidding, they’re not that smart.
The New Pair (War of the Worlds)
Unlike seasons like Exes, Bloodlines, or Rivals, there was no rhyme or rhythm for the pairs on War of the Worlds. So, production thought they’d switch things up and kick Natalie off the show in the process. They had a double elimination and a new partnership could form in the process. Well, joke’s on production. Kyle and Mattie won and they were partners before and after the elimination.
Big T & Liv (Double Agents)
Casting in the modern Challenge era has become really, really complicated. When Liv joined the cast after appearing on Shipwrecked UK, fans were quick to point out her quarrel with Big T. The fight was actually quite silly, stemming from a comment Liv made about believing in mermaids. While this is not a deep-rooted hate, it’s the only possible confrontation Big T has. Of all the people in the world, production cast Liv. But, it’s clear the love is stronger than the hate. Big T was friendly with Liv and consoled her after she was injured.