The Challenge is no stranger to controversy. We often see competitors make stupid decisions, and in the moment, this results in a lot of drama. We expected these decisions to reflect poorly on the competitor, but time is much kinder.
Perhaps it was a smart game move that began as a disastrous explosion, or maybe it was poor treatment of a cast member who was all-too-deserving. But as time passed, we watched the moments age like a fine wine.
My only rule for this list: Production cannot be the reason these moments aged well. In other words, if who people ended up being paired on “Rivals” or “Exes” due to a falling out, I won’t consider it as “aging well” because production was the tipping point in that relationship.
BONUS: Trishelle Quits (Rivals 2)
It kind of sucks that this took Sarah out of the game too, but Trishelle really quit because she cut her toe open and production didn’t properly address it. And this season was a mess in terms of living conditions, so Trishelle avoided a month is living in hot Thailand. She probably would have made it fairly far, but no one was going to beat Emily and Paula anyway.
10. Ashley Stays Quiet For a Change (Final Reckoning)
During the split vote on Final Reckoning, both Ashley & Hunter and Bananas & Tony shut up and let Zach & Amanda fall on the sword. In a regular world, I actually would have supported Ashley & Hunter going in, because they likely would have defeated Jozea & Da’Vonne, given the Lavendar Ladies the majority, and the alliance could have coasted to the end.
But that wasn’t the case. Zach & Amanda immediately faced the mercenaries in a rigged elimination. Ashley & Hunter would have faced the same fate at Zach & Amanda, costing Ashley her eventual win. Meanwhile, Amanda has stated Zach would have stolen the money in the final, so she’s not too mad in retrospect.
9. Cara Maria Flips Off the Engagement (War of the Worlds 2)
On War of the Worlds 2, the cast seemed to put the game aside to congratulate Jordan and Tori after their engagement… except for Cara Maria. She flipped off the couple and suggested that Jordan would come back and sabotage Team USA, and Tori would end up paying for the ring because Jordan couldn’t afford it. While the second half was wrong, the implication that the relationship was just for show wasn’t far off. Production seemingly wanted to put the wedding on TV, but Tori put a nail in the coffin when she, in her words, fucked Fessy.
8. CT Loses to Jay (Total Madness)
I don’t think intentionally CT quit via elimination, but I do think he know Total Madness was going to be a mess. So, he decided really early into the game that he wanted a now-or-never scenario: he gets his skull and skates through the game (because who would dare to challenge CT), or he’d lose in elimination and avoid a month in the bunker. The latter happened, and after watching the season turn into a shitshow, he dodged a bullet.
7. Veronica vs. Katie (The Inferno)
Few people thrive on anger as well as Katie Doyle, but when she walked onto The Inferno she seemed to be a happy-go-lucky party girl. The Real World team made it clear they’d never vote her into The Inferno, so as ruthless as Veronica was, Katie was clearly Rod Rules’ weak link and she’d never get into an elimination without some manipulative gameplay. Even Katie admitted she was the weakest competitor at the start of the season, and she doesn’t really blame Veronica. Plus, Katie won with Veronica and the viewers got to see one of the mode comical fights in Challenge history.
6. Jordan Flips All The Cards (Free Agents)
I hate to support Jordan’s cockiness, but I can’t say there isn’t some merit behind it. So why is this moment, his epic fail, on the list? Well, it established Jordan as someone who isn’t all talk. Even though he lost in Wrecking Wall, a game where he had a clear disadvantage, he returned the next season and played a better game. In fact, he went into Hammer It Home and won an elimination that many people thought required two hands. And debatably, Jordan is now more feared than Bananas because he has a pretty good elimination record and seldom takes the easy route.
5. Coral Quits (The Gauntlet 3)
A lot of people think there’s no valid reason to quit, but Coral saw the storm that was brewing. The male Veterans were going to target all of the females, but they’d never try to “trim the fat” on their own side. Keep in mind, this was the first team Challenge where all the money was awarded to the winning team of the final. So Coral left on her own terms. Had she stayed, she would have dealt with a few more weeks of the men controlling the team before Eric cost the Veterans the game.
4. Bananas Strikes a Deal With Evelyn (The Island)
As much as this season sucks, it is pivotal in Bananas’s development as a super villain. In the end, Bananas threw Paula under the bus for the sake of crossing the finish line with Evelyn. Ans he won, but his good fortune didn’t end there. As a winner, he got cast on The Ruins a year later. Evelyn quit that game to become some type of an example, and Bananas wins a second time. Not only that, he never really lost his friendship with Paula. His sneaky, diabolical gameplay brought him nothing but good fortune in the future.
3. Amanda Confronts the Camilinator (Invasion)
When Camila was on The Challenge, she always seemed to bring a hurricane of emotions with her. While Amanda also brings drama, she ended up being very right about Camila. She is a bully, and nothing was off-limits to her. So when Camila lost her cool, Amanda looked the storm in the eye and hurled insults right back. Amanda’s certainly no stranger to popping off, but she’s in control of her actions. In retrospect, Camila would have benefited from listening to Amanda’s profanity-ridden advice.
2. Ashley “Spits” On Bear (Total Madness)
Some people were grossed out by Ashley’s actions on Total Madness, but it’s Bear. During the season he wasn’t innocent because he sprayed a fire extinguisher on a bunch of girls, which is full of chemicals. But after this season, he proved he has zero respect for women and their bodies, so Ashley’s actions couldn’t have had a more deserving target.
1. Sylvia Backstabs Her Real World Roommates (Invasion)
Coming onto her first Challenge, Sylvia was very fortunate to have three of her Real World roommates accompany her. But Bruno landed himself in the first elimination, and many of the other rookies were hoping to send Tony against his best friend. Sylvia saw the writing on the wall, and voted Tony in to gain favor with the other girls. Nicole swore she’d regret it, but these girls became the Lavender Ladies, and they never really betrayed her. Meanwhile, Nicole would go on to prioritize hook-ups, so Sylvia gained way more than she lost.