In the Challenge fandom, viewers often lump periods of time into “eras.” Some people have careers spanning across many eras, like the Darrells, Aneesas, and CTs of the show. But there are very few people who have been able to skip multiple eras and return to the show more interesting than ever.
Yet Shane Landrum did just that. After eleven years off The Challenge he came back, but his departure was just as sudden as his return.
Most likely, we’re not going to see him again, which is a shame. I’ve done some of these “legacy” posts in the past about people who could questionably fall into oblivion, but Shane isn’t one of those people. He played an instrumental role in launching the show, and then he helped to breathe new life into it.
Shane’s Career: Part 1
The first time viewers saw Shane on The Challenge, he was fresh off of Road Rules. On his season, his biggest storyline pertained to his sexuality, and he was the first openly gay man on the show. He was fairly timid on Battle of the Sexes, but he did perform well. His biggest moments were speaking up for Veronica when she was voted off, staying in the house over James when the two had a tied score, and essentially quitting. Shane had the LifeSaver in his hand when he left, but it was mathematically impossible for him to make the final and Antoine had a ray of hope.
Shane later returned for The Inferno, which is probably his least remarkable season. He was the second of two Road Rulers to leave, and the first person to ever be eliminated by CT. Beyond that, he didn’t leave a huge impression, but he also wasn’t gone for long. He came back to Battle of the Sexes 2 and seemed to make a bigger impression. He seemed more comfortable this time around and flirted with Nick, making this the first season where we ever had footage of two gay men having any type of romantic or sexual chemistry on The Challenge. He was also on the receiving end of Steven’s infamous kinda-sorta-slap, which bought him an extra week on the show.
Finally, we saw Shane on Fresh Meat. In 2005, being a Road Ruler actually meant something. Three prior seasons made him a “veteran,” and his Roadie status put him in a very small casting pool. So he got to return, and he flew in the middle of the pack this time around. His biggest storyline, his relationship with Ryan, was omitted on the show. So, he just kind of left near the end of the season. Admittedly, production probably just cast him for some LGBT representation – his jersey was pink and Wes reminded viewers he’d be running an Exile against a “gay guy.”
His last real appearance was on 2007’s Road Rules: Viewers Revenge. Much like Veronica, it felt like he didn’t want to be there. He lost in The Pit halfway through, and never got back into the game.
Shanes Career: Part 2
In 2016, when Shane’s name popped up on the Invasion cast list, it was a shocker. Nobody had taken so much time off the show and returned, but the record was broken. As the season started, his reintroduction was slow, but it really picked up in the Oasis. He formed the Lavender Ladies, and thus an alliance was born. But people like Darrell and CT were coming into the house. Shane knew these people, and none of the underdogs really had a relationship with them. In the end he left in a purge, but he did orchistrate some drama on the way out.
While Shane didn’t make that final, he came close and he won his first elimination. Shane was very different from his Fresh Meat personality. He was pretty strong, willing to make political moves, and wanted to cause drama. The strategy certainly got him recognized, but he never came across as a camera whore. It took a long time, but it felt like we were reintroduced to Shane at his full potential.
Vendettas happened, he kinda fought with Nelson, but he left fairly early due to the Mercenary twist. He also (somehow) got cast on Champs vs. Stars 2. Keep in mind, he never won a show, nor did he even see a final. Production just wanted him there to stir the pot, and he did. He got into fights with Jozea and Casper, but he ultimately went home near the final with Brooke Hogan.
His final, and probably best, appearance was on Final Reckoning. This season can be polarizing, but we need to acknowledge how great the Lavender Ladies were. As an alliance, they stuck together and made power moves. They’d vote big names into eliminations and call out their rivals. And Shane was no exception. He did well with Nelson on his side, but he was also a ruthless player who confronted people like Bananas and threw a mission when winning wouldn’t benefit him.
Still, Shane never made a final. He came close on Final Reckoning, and won multiple eliminations, but he lost because of a Purge and then Redemption. It sucks to go out like that, but other people were burned worst by the endless twists on Final Reckoning. His alliance did successfully prevent their opponents like Bananas and Cara Maria from winning, and my gut tells me Shane is very happy about this.
What’s Shane’s Legacy
If Shane ended his career after Fresh Meat, he’d probably fall into semi-oblivion. He’d be remembered as Rachel’s friend, and if we’re being honest, people would call him a token gay cast member. He wasn’t super weak, but he wasn’t the strongest.
But I’ll just say it: his return to the show was the best we ever had.
When Shane came back onto Invasion he’d gone through a lot and his life was turned upside-down. He had just left a long-term relationship, and it was time for him to redefine himself and start anew. It feels like Shane was able to overcome his personal troubles by finding strength in The Challenge. But don’t forget, he comes from Veronica’s generation. Being Challenge strong doesn’t mean you have the biggest muscles, it means gaining control by exploiting every small rule.
Apparently, he was only cast on Invasion as an attempt to lure Rachel back to the show. Do I believe this? Yes, but it was a golden opportunity for production. They wanted an outspoken, sassy gay man on the show and Shane delivered in the best way. The only problem was he’d give that attitude to production and call them out for their misogyny and unfairness. This pissed off a lot of people in charge of casting the show.
So what’s his legacy? It depends on who you ask. Some people will call him the best return ever and a member of one of the strongest alliances in the game; others will say he’s a manifestation of everything wrong with the show. Both sides will agree he’s dramatic, loud, and his biggest strenth is his alliance, but Shane 2.0 was a tumultuous moment in time that undoubtedly earned a spot in the Challenge history books.