The Challenge

Dunbar What’s His Challenge Legacy

Is he a legend? Forgettable? Or just a Dummy bear?

As long as The Real World existed, it produced cast members prime for The Challenge. When the Sydney season aired, it seemed obvious that Dunbar would make his way into the competition. He did, and he won, but then he disappeared. 

Today, we’re looking at one of the most dramatic men to appear on the show. After a nine-year absence, we’re just left with memories and stories. When we dig through Challenge archives, we need to wonder, how will Dunbar Merrill be remembered?

The Island

Debuting after his Real World season, it seemed like the then-veterans knew Dunbar was Sydney’s star athlete. They hung out with him and Abe even gave him a key, but he didn’t do much on the season. To be fair, this was based on the formatting of the show, and at the end, Evelyn took his key because a rookie didn’t deserve it. 

The most important thing to come from The Island was a relationship with Paula which would haunt him for years to come. 

The Duel 2

Finally, Dunbar could compete. The beast was out of the cage, and he was viewed as competition. He was also tied to Paula, who chose this season to play a volatile game. He made it near the end of the season, but the elite athletes kept him from winning. He also started flirting with Kimberly, which would prove that he was a bit of a Challenge ho. 

The Ruins

Doomed from the start, Dunbar outperformed the bulk of the other Challengers this season. He was the final male to see an elimination, and he lost to Bananas. Once again, he had a disastrous romantic breakdown, this time with Kellyanne, but nothing that carried on to a later season.  


Of course, this is the season Dunbar won. He was in the inner circle of the Red team, and he spent the bulk of his time voting Brandon and Camila into elimination while fighting with Paula. His most infamous move was voting her into the Gulag, but it didn’t hurt him too much. He stacked his team with the right people to win a final. 

By most measures, he was an asset to the team. But he wasn’t a leader, but an important player, and he did score his first elimination win.

Battle of the Exes 

Despite a rocky relationship with Paula, the duo worked well as a pair. They lasted for a while, won a daily challenge, and won a Dome. Paula spent her time making an enemy out of Emily, a lucrative move, while Dunbar spent his time in bed reading about wizards. If anything, this is the season where Dunbar’s seniority in the game really started to show. He made it past the halfway point because he was friends with all the big vets. 

Rivals 2

There isn’t much to say here. At the best, Dunbar quit. At the worst, he lost to Derek in a Hall Brawl-style game. 

What is Dunbar’s Legacy?

Over the course of The Real World and The Challenge, Dunbar had a lot of relationships and romantic drama. He was way too serious for this to be a fun storyline, and in retrospect, it seems like he was the one causing a lot of the problems. It seemed like he could never really commit to one woman and would act as if she was crazy for disagreeing with him. 

As a competitor, he was only lukewarm. He wasn’t the worst, and he had some size, but he wasn’t the strongest. Put him against Landon and most people will bet on Landon. He’d have to get really lucky to win in a Duel or individual season. 

Ultimately, he was too serious for the show. He won because he played Brad and Tori’s game on Cutthroat. He can certainly hold his own in a final, but he’s not a shoo-in. Production probably realized Bananas was much more fun. Dunbar got mad over dumb jokes and meaningless accusations. Then, he might have thrown an elimination on Rivals 2. He’s not really worth the trouble of bringing him back, but I also haven’t heard too much about him since 2014. Perhaps he will come back. He’s not blackballed or anything, so there might be some Dummy Bear in the future. 


  1. I believe I heard that Dunbar never received his champ’s payout for Cutthroat because he violated his contract by appearing in an adult movie with some other reality stars. I’m surprised he was asked back after that (probably wouldn’t be today if it happened in current times)

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