Every season of The Challenge means people are going to get eliminated. Sometimes, competitors fight their ways through a hard season only to leave directly before the final. In the words of Johnny Bananas: the only thing worse than going home in the first elimination is going home in the last.
On episode 18 of Spies, Lies and Allies we saw two people go home. One was a rookie who left with a great experience. Another was a single mom who fought for weeks to win for her child. Understandably, one loss stung more than the other.
On this list, we’re going to look at the most upsetting losses right before the final. I’m only including the very last elimination. If the weeks alternate between men and women, the final male and final female elimination will be considered.
10. Landon Lueck (The Duel 2)
Per usual, Landon was a dominating force on The Duel 2. He also played his typical game rooted in making things “fair” and allowing the best competitors to prevail. Of course, this strategy benefited him, and he won many missions with Britini. In the end, this made him a threat and his pursuit of putting names in a hat allowed Evan enough time to rally votes against Landon. Then, he lost to Brad because of a shady move and a disqualification in the first heat.
9. Darrell Taylor (Invasion of the Champions)
When the Champs came into Invasion, we saw Darrell return to the show after seven years away. He was now a family man, but he was also far removed from the other Champions on the season. So, he was going into every elimination unless he won the daily challenge. As a result, he needed to beat Zach and Bananas before getting to the unavoidable final elimination. At that point, he lost to CT (also returning to the show as a dad). To his credit, CT mastered Knot So Fast, but Darrell’s path to the final looked very different than CT’s.
8. Amanda Garcia (Spies, Lies and Allies)
Love her or hate her, Amanda returned to The Challenge with newfound respect. She was a nurse during the pandemic and a single mother. So, her “why” for being on the show changed over the past three years. She might not have been the most intimidating player, but viewers did come to appreciate a more human side to this “devil.” The fact that she spent so much time away for her kid only to lose in the final week makes her loss a harder pill to swallow.
7. Aneesa Ferreira (The Duel)
Over the years, Aneesa proved she was the queen of losing in the final elimination. On some seasons, she seemed to coast to the end; The Duel was not one of those seasons. She defeated three people in elimination then lost to her good friend Svetlana. This would have been a great redemption and underdog story, and to make matters worse, she lost in the infamously bad I Can Duel.
6. Nelson Thomas (Total Madness)
Total Madness was a turning point for Nelson’s reputation. Going into the season, he still had a bit of a rough reputation from seasons like Final Reckoning and Dirty Thirty, but his journey to the final elimination earned him a lot of fans this time around. He volunteered so Cory wouldn’t need to jeopardize his spot in the game and had a better chance of winning for his daughters. Sadly, Nelson lost to Rogan, but he earned the reputation of a loyal friend. Meanwhile, Rogan lost during the final and left the season looking like a bit of a jerk.
5. Hunter Barfield (Dirty Thirty)
There’s no denying that Hunter had a hard time on Dirty Thirty. First, he needed to eliminate his ally Cory, then he needed to face his ally Nelson and got sent to redemption, then he really eliminated Cory in redemption. To make matters worse, he broke up with his girlfriend and was a lone wolf in the second half of the game when Nelson DQed. After breaking his hand facing Leroy in elimination, his journey ended in a Purge. A sad ending to a season of unfortunate circumstances.
4. Diem & Aneesa (Rivals 2)
Some people give Diem & Aneesa a lot of shit for their performance on Rivals 2. Truthfully, there weren’t the strongest team and they didn’t work too well together, but if there was anyone worthy of a redemption season it was Diem. She came onto the season with short hair after a second battle with cancer. Understandably, the treatments had taken their toll on her body, and Paula & Emily were the clear front-runners, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch her leave.
3. CT & Adam (Rivals)
On Rivals, CT was clearly fighting an uphill battle. No stranger to this scenario, he gave it his all in every competition, this season was more important than that for him. It was a path to redemption after his Duel 2 exit and a chance to build a relationship with Adam. While he may have done some repair to the relationship, the team lost right before the final denying CT (and viewers) of his redemption storyline.
2. Derrick & Diem (Fresh Meat)
Toward the end of Fresh Meat, viewers had good reason to root for Derrick and Diem. The former player had just come off The Gauntlet 2 and lost right before the final. The latter had just revealed her upcoming battle with cancer, the desire to feel normal, and her fears after leaving The Challenge. This is a team you want to root for, but the foolish decision to drop bags in Exile made meant they would struggle throughout the race. Neither player could solve the puzzles, and soon enough Darrell stamped his ticket to the final and Derrick & Diem just missed it.
1. Derrick Kosinski (The Gauntlet 2)
The Gauntlet 2 is a season full of underdog stories, but one of them ended right before the final. Derrick assumed the position of Veterans’ team captain, and he eliminated four players before landing in the final elimination. At that point, he faced Timmy and lost in a grueling Reverse Tug of War. Not that the Veterans were going to win, but Derrick could have at least shared in the team bank.