The fifteenth season of the Race started with the show moving in a new direction. After four seasons of increasingly strategic play that saw the traditional powers of the series, the young physically fit teams, dominated by the smart
and Genre Savvy
teams, the show found itself with its strongest, fittest cast since Season 6
. On top of that, it was the most heavily Stunt Cast
group of teams yet, with, among others, professional poker players, a former Miss America, and a pair of Harlem Globetrotters. However, the results of the season were universally disappointing, with many fans calling it even worse than the Family Edition
. The complaints ranged from the course being far too easynote
, to one team dominating for most of the season, while three other teams quit tasks they were unable to do (including unscrambling a five-letter word and going down a water slide), and, despite all the Stunt Casting
, the teams were, for the most part, were largely forgettable or unlikable. However, it did end up having several of the series' most memorable moments, produced two teams who went on to play major roles in the much better Unfinished Business
, and introduced the Starting Line challenge and the Switchback, which would become staples in later seasons. Because of this, opinion on the season did soften over time, and though it was not one of the series' best, Season 15 was not the complete disaster that it was perceived to be when when it first aired.
Meghan Rickey & Cheyne Whitney
Dating couple, they were both physical threats, and took advantage of the lack of true mental threats on the seasonnote
to dominate their competition, tying Nick & Starr's records for leg wins in a single season and consecutive leg wins, and became only the second team to rack up a finishing average of at least 2.00note
. The problem is, on top of making the season predictable with their constant winning, they were also very wholesomely bland, making them doubly boring to the audience. In the finale, they went from 1st to last when they struggled to figure out what was the most famous casino in Monaco, but made their comeback on the final chip counting challenge to win the race.
- The Ace: To Sam & Dan in particular, who seemingly developed a complex over how to beat them by the end of the season.
- Action Girl: Meghan was the strategic driving force behind their team, and was good at the all the physical tasks she was asked to do.
- Big "OMG!": Cheyne, after winning the personalized watercraft in Leg 6.
- Born Lucky: Take their first three wins for example. In leg 1, the wasabi roulette landed on Cheyne on the first spin. In leg 5, they got the Fast Forward, which consisted of driving around a race track once, uncontested, and there was no equalizer in leg 6, meaning they still managed to win the leg despite Maria & Tiffany running the leg an hour and a half faster than them, and this was not the end of their lucky breaks either.
- Add to that Zev & Justin, a team who proved to be at their level, if not higher, on Unfinished Business, got taken out by losing a passport, which caused people to question whether they would have looked so dominant had Zev & Justin still been around.
- Broken Tears: Meghan devolved into tears during the hay bale task.
- Control Freak: Meghan had a hard time early on adjusting to not having control over every little thing on the Race, and not knowing where they were going to be heading or what they were going to be doing next.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: They won seven legs, including the last four, and only finished below 2nd twice.
- Failed a Spot Check: It took them forever to put their hookahs together during the leg 6 Detour because they missed a number of rods and washers that they just left laying on their rug.
- Flawless Victory: They were the first to pull this offnote .
- Global Ignorance: They nearly blew it in the finale when they couldn't figure out what was the most famous casino in Monaco (Brian & Ericka knew, and Dan & Sam used their cab driver's phone to call information). They first got sent to the Venetian, and asked several people there before they were directed to the Monte Carlo, dropping them from 1st to 3rd.
- High School Sweethearts: They met in elementary school, playing teatherballnote . In 2010, they finally tied the knot.
- Honor Before Reason: While trying to get to the Estates Theatre in Prague, they agreed to work with the Globetrotters to find transportationnote . However, when they were waiting at the tram station, Cheyne managed to flag down a cab, and they jumped out to a lead. Meghan felt guilty and criticized Cheyne for ditching the Globetrotters, calling him rude for just running off on the team they agreed to work with.
- Jaw Drop: Cheyne, when they won a pair of 52-inch TVs in the penultimate leg.
- My Nayme Is: Cheyne (Pronounced "Shane").
- Opposites Attract: Meghan was high strung and hated not being in control and just letting go, while Cheyne was laid back and carefree, and didn't do much thinking ahead.
- Read the Freaking Clue: Told to find a tiny instrument during the Roadblock in leg 10, Cheyne grabbed several full sized instruments and tried presenting them to the task judge.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: They almost missed the first flight in leg 2 because they went straight to the Narita airport instead of a travel agency when the leg started in the middle of the night, and the teams who went to the travel agency scooped up all the remaining tickets.
- Second Place Is for Losers: In Leg 5, Cheyne stated that he and Meghan have the front runner mentality and were not content with second place.
- Spiky Hair: Cheyne had fans wondering how much hair gel he had to bring with him to keep his hair looking that spiky throughout the entire race.
- Strategy Versus Tactics: Cheyne was very good at performing in the moment, but never thought more than a few minutes ahead, while Meghan was a much better strategist, but tended to fall apart in the moment.
- This Is A Race: Cheyne's response to Meghan's Honor Before Reason moment above was to call her complaints ridiculous, and ask where her competitive spirit was.
- Undesirable Prize: Their prize for winning leg 9 was a sauna, which got an underwhelming response from both of them.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Heights for both of them.
Samuel "Sam" McMillen & Daniel "Dan" McMillen
Gay brothers, they started fighting early in the season and never stopped. They quite possibly spent more time arguing than any other team in the series, even more than the young fighting couples who normally fill the role of the "fighting team," as most of their dialogue during tasks involved them yelling at each other. By the end of the season, they seemed to be the only team willing to play cutthroat, and rode a couple of shrewd moves to the Final 3. They would hit the chip counting challenge in the finale first, but were passed up by Meghann & Cheyne when they failed their first attempt at it, and finished 2nd.
- Aesop Amnesia: After Dan broke down in tears at the Pit Stop in Sweden over how he yelled at Sam during the hay bale task, he said they had learned their lesson about fighting, and they would be easier on each other from then on out. Cue four more legs of them being at each other's throats.
- Call Back: Dan recognized the hay bale task, and told Sam that last time someone had spent 8 hours doing the task just as he was starting.
- Phil compared Sam's struggling with the hay bale Roadblock to Lena'snote
- Disqualification-Induced Victory: They ended up getting the leg win and prize after Zev & Justin's passport disqualification.
- Failed a Spot Check: They, along with Flight Time & Big Easy and Brian & Ericka, missed the sign for the marked path leading to the Detour in leg 9. The time they spent wandering around looking for it ensured Meghan & Cheyne the leg win.
- Follow That Car: Leaving the Cirque de Soleil task in the finale, they didn't know where they were going right away, as the clue was to find the most famous casino in Monaco. So, they just told their driver to follow Meghan & Cheyne's cab (who were going the wrong way) until they found where they were going.
- Genre Savvy:
- The leg after stealing Brian & Ericka's cab, as it was the only cab around at the Detour, they spotted Meghan & Cheyne leaving the Franz Roadblock right as they were arriving, and immediately told their cab driver to wait for them so Meghan & Cheyne couldn't do the same to them.
- Dan, when he did not give Big Easy the answer at the Franz Roadblock, and he even asked (hypothetically) why he would give another team the answer when they were fighting against them to get in the Final 3. This makes them the only team in two seasons not to hurt themselves by blindly giving the Globetrotters information.
Dan: After thinking about it, I was like, "Why in the heck would I tell him the answer to the Roadblock when we're trying to make it to the Final 3? That would be the dumbest mistake I could have made."
- Global Ignorance:
- Heel Realization: They admitted at the beginning of the penultimate episode that the other teams probably saw them as the villains, as no one had been playing really cutthroat, and they had just stolen Brian & Ericka's cab. Unlike most instances, they were fine with being considered the villains as long as they made the Final 3.
- Honor Before Reason: When Maria busted her radiator in Dubai, Sam & Dan waited around with the girls until they got a replacement car, just because Tiffany had lent Dan her ladle during the Roadblock.
- I'm Standing Right Here: After Flight Time & Big Easy forced their way into Sam & Dan's cab in Sweden, the Globetrotters started giving a confessional about how Sam & Dan had no claim on the cab, as they had been talking to a different cab first. Sam, sitting right in front of him, interrupted his confessional to say that it had been the cab that had been called for them.
- Jerkass: Both of them.
- No Sense of Direction: They left the leg 2 Roadblock in 1st, but lost the leg win when they had issues finding the Pit Stop, allowing Gary & Matt to pass them.
- Pixellation: On both of their crotches during the mud volleyball Detour.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: Told at the beginning of leg 10 to fly to Prague and find a Vintage Praga, they didn't even think to research what a Praga was, even though they were stuck at the airport for hours waiting for the ticket counters to open. Only Meghan & Cheyne actually looked up what the car looked like.
- Sibling Rivalry: See Teeth-Clenched Teamwork.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: In their pre-season video, they called themselved complete polar opposites. Dan notes this would be bad because they would fight
- Sibling Team
- Sitcom Archnemesis: With Flight Time & Big Easy, first for being the two Alpha Male teams, but exasperated by the tripping/elbowing between Dan and Flight Time during the run the the Pit Stop in the ninth leg.
- Straight Gay: Both of them. They high-fived after they came out to each other.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: They fought all the time. Their fighting most likely lost them the win in the finale at the chip counting task, as they wasted so much time bickering and recounting each other's stacks, as neither trusted the other's count, allowing Meghan & Cheyne to catch up and pass them.
- This Is A Race: How Dan justified not giving Big Easy the "Franz" answer despite agreeing to work with him on the Roadblock.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Sam liked to punctuate his sentences with a "bitch" at the end.
- Unskilled, but Strong: A much less extreme case than the Globetrotters, but they generally struggled with the mental aspects of the game, especially once Maria & Tiffany were no longer around to help them out, and had a number of Global Ignorance moments.
- Villainous Underdog: To Meghan & Cheyne.
Brian Kleinschmidt & Ericka Dunlap
Miss America 2004 and her husband. They seemed in over their heads from the very beginning of the season, trusting more in Karma to win them the game than their racing skills, and only finished above 3rd once despite making the Final 3. Twice during the season they dug themselves into massive holes, falling behind by more than an hour, only to be saved because Maria & Tiffany and Flight Time & Big Easy decided to quit tasks, and made the Final 3 despite repeatedly making stupid mistakes and failing to read their clues. In the finale, they got a lead following the rappelling Roadblock, but lost it when Ericka fell apart during the Cirque de Soleil challenge. Any chance they had to catch up was destroyed at the final challenge, when their dealer made a mistake while counting their chips, delaying them when they had already finished their task, and they finished 3rd.
- Alpha Bitch: Ericka, though it generally only came out when they were struggling... and they struggled a lot.
- Big "YES!": Brian, after surviving the 2nd Leg.
- Black Gal on White Guy Drama: They would mention how this went on with their families, particularly with Ericka's mom. Not that they helped matters, referring to themselves at one point as "Team Jungle Fever", and another time "Team Zebra".
- Born Lucky: Twice they fell over an hour behind the other teams, and incurred further 30-minute penalties for failing to read the clue, but survived both legs due to Maria & Tiffany and Big Easy quitting tasks due to their respective physical and mental shortcomings.
- Broken Tears: Ericka when she struggled with the bell counting Roadblock.
- Call It Karma: Brian explicitly stated that he thought the race was a contest of who could rack up the most Karma points.
Brian: I'm nice, but I'm not dumb. This game is all about Karma, and if you scratch somebody's back, they're gonna scratch your back.
- Color-Coded Characters: They referred to themselves as the "Yellow Team," both during the show and online during the airing of the season.
- Death Glare/Aside Glance: Ericka glared at the camera when last place Flight Time & Big Easy showed up at the hookah Detour.
- Driving Stick: Inverted in Amsterdam, where Brian had trouble getting their automatic luxury car into drive.
- Failed a Spot Check:
- Ericka took five tries to complete the bell counting Roadblock in Amsterdam, when every other team got it on their first guess. This dropped them so far behindnote that they would have been eliminated if not for Maria & Tiffany's Detour problems.
- They, along with Flight Time & Big Easy and Sam & Dan, missed the sign for the marked path leading to the Detour in leg 9. The time they spent wandering around looking for it assured Meghan & Cheyne the leg win.
- Felony Misdemeanor:
- In the second leg, they got upset with Maria & Tiffany for showing up at the airport last and having the gall to try to get on the same plane as the other teams, calling their piggybacking "low" and a "shady move."
- It's understandable that they got upset at Sam & Dan for stealing their cab in leg 10, but it was a bit naive to think that their conscience would eat them up over the move.
- Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Brian said this about Sam & Dan in the finale, after their first conversation with them following the cab stealing incident (as the previous leg had no equalizer, the only team they saw the entire led had been Flight Time & Big Easy).
- Genre Savvy:
- Brian actually showed some major bargaining skills in the second leg, when he first got the ticket agents at the Narita airport to rearrange the seating (by fitting some economy passengers into business class) on the flight to fit all the teams on, and later, when they got stuck on the second bus, he got the driver of the bus to leave an hour early by giving him an extra 100 dollars from each team.
- They were the only team to keep their cab at the Detour in leg 10, which took place in a semi-isolated area in Prague, while all the other teams were left scrambling for transportation after finishing the Detour. Unluckily for them, Sam & Dan stole their cab, leaving them in the same position after all.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: During the ropes course Detour, Sam mentioned how uncomfortable the harness was for him, to which Ericka replied that it would feel good for her.
- Henpecked Husband: At the beginning of leg 7, Ericka worried their relationship was turning into this, which coincided with their relationship getting more rocky.
- Honor Before Reason: One of Ericka's complaints about Brian was that he was too nice for his own good, and would let the other teams walk all over him if given the chance.
- Insult Backfire: After yelling at a Prague local for trying to grab a beer off her tray during the beer delivering Detour, a random person criticized Ericka for her "American attitude." Her response:
Ericka: Yeah, I do have some American attitude. Touch me and you get punched.
- The Load: Ericka, who a lot time just yelled at Brian instead of doing anything to help with tasks, like during the hookah Detour, where she stood around doing nothing, yelling at Brian to fix whatever they were doing wrong.
- Nice Guy: Brian, see Honor Before Reason.
- Read the Freaking Clue:
- In Cambodia, they had to look for a hotel suite named after Jackie Kennedy Onasis. They were sent in the wrong direction when they asked for a hotel named after her.
- They did not ride their bicycles to the Detour in Amsterdam, not only costing them extra time as they walked the entire way in wooden clogs, but earned themselves an extra 30-minute penalty on top of that. they were only saved from elimination due to Maria & Tiffany's Detour struggles.
- They received an unaired penalty in the penultimate leg when Brian wrote down his letters during the Kafka Roadblock prior to entering the judging area. Even with the penalty, and finishing three hours behind the 2nd place team, they still finished the leg before Flight Time & Big Easy's four-hour penalty ran out.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness:
- Apparently no one told Ericka that thongs were not optimal race attire.
- They almost missed the first flight in leg 2 because they went straight to the Narita airport instead of a travel agency when the leg started in the middle of the night, and the teams who went to the travel agency scooped up all the remaining tickets.
- At the beginning of leg 4, Brian said that they had figured out the theme of the season was going to be a "jungle theme," then called themselves "Team Jungle Fever." Because the Race never has "themes" that specific, they were proved wrong over the next eight legs as the show went to the Middle East, Northern Europe, and Las Vegas, and never went close to a jungle again.
- They struggled with the hookah Detour because Ericka decided that matching the color of the hoses to each respective hookha didn't matter, then sat around whining to Brian to fix it because she couldn't figure out what they had done wrong.
- Told at the beginning of leg 10 to fly to Prague and find a Vintage Praga, they didn't even think to research what a Praga was, even though they were stuck at the airport for hours waiting for the ticket counters to open. Only Meghan & Cheyne actually looked up what the car looked like.
- Once they reached Prague, they decided to take a bus and the subway to the Old Town Square instead of a cab, just because locals had told them it was faster. By the time they ditched the slow moving bus and found a cab, they had naturally fallen into last.
- During the Roadblock later in that same leg, Ericka kept her backpack on through her search of the Estates Theatre.
- Sassy Black Woman: Ericka had her moments, especially while doing the beer Detour in the penultimate leg, when people on the street kept trying to grab drinks off their trays.
- The Teetotaler: Brian, who admitted it before drinking absinthe at their Speed Bump.
- Tempting Fate: Leaving the rappelling Roadblock in 1st in the finale, Ericka said that she felt it was their day, and Brian said all their good Karma was finally coming back to them. That would be the last time they saw 1st place.
- Time-Compression Montage: Already well in last place during leg 10, Ericka was shown searching for her tiny mandolin at the Roadblock during one of these montages. They were then non-eliminated.
- Villainous Breakdown: Though she was more of an Alpha Bitch than a villain, Ericka completely lost it during the Cirque de Soleil task in the finale. They started in 1st, but when she couldn't grab the bouquet on her first few tries, and the other teams started showing up, she started yelling at Brian, started crying, forced him to switch positions with her so he was in the harness, lost it even further when she realized she didn't have the strength to launch Brian high enough, switched back into the harness, and yelled and cried even harder while Brian tried his best to keep her calm.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Heights for Brian, water for Ericka.
Herbert "Flight Time" Lang & Nathaniel "Big Easy" Lofton (The Globetrotters)
Teammates on the Harlem Globetrotters. They were a popular team from the very beginning, as they brought the same high energy and good-natured antics to the Race that they brought to the basketball court. They knew as Globetrotters they would be popular with people they met around the world, and took advantage of that fact, getting tons of help from from both locals and American travelers they met on the course. They made it deep into the season thanks in part to all this help, where Big Easy's tendency to butcher mental tasks would be their undoing. Faced with unscrambling the name "Franz," he faltered, deciding to take a four-hour penalty when he was unable to complete the task. This would prove too big of a deficit to overcome, as they were sent directly to the Pit Stop to be eliminated in 4th. Due to their popularity, they would be invited back for Unfinished Business.
Gary Tomljenovich & Matthew "Matt" Tomljenovich
Father and son team from Montana, they had a distant relationship while Matt was growing up, and were attempting to connect with each other for the first time. While they were a solid team, they found themselves behind early in leg 9 due to incurring a Speed Bump in the previous leg (by being the last team to both start and complete the hay bale Roadblock). Already having to play catch up, Matt struggled with the secret message Roadblock, dropping them even further behind and ensuring their elimination in 5th place.
- Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: During the secret message Roadblock, Matt did not know what a candelabra was, and went around asking for a "candel-a-bra" instead of a "candel-a-bra", wasting precious time they needed to catch up.
- Call Back: Matt recognized the hay bale task, and mentioned that someone had spent 8 hours doing it the last time.
- Chekhov's Hobby: They won their only leg after the duck herding Roadblock. Growing up on a farm, Matt had herded birds before. He would try to bring these up again in later legs (at least Once an Episode) with things such as taking apart VCRs to see how they work and hunting, but none of those hobbies helped them that much.
- Delinquent Hair: Matt's pink mane.
- Elimination Montage
- Failed a Spot Check: They ran right past the clue at the Pikk Hermann Tower Garden on their way to trying to find a way into the tower.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Matt described a hookah to his father, Gary laughed and said they used to call that something else.
- Good Parents: Gary explained that despite not understanding his son sometimes, he did his best to bridge that gap.
- Like Father, Unlike Son: They had a distant relationship when Matt was growing up, with Gary being an old-fashioned farmer type, and Matt being a lot more wild (as shown by his hair).
- No Sense of Direction: They got lost looking for the Detour in leg 8. Already in last, this only dropped them further behind.
- Out of Focus: They were very down-to-earth, and got along with each other and the other teams, which translated to little air time.
- Read the Freaking Clue: Matt did not get the complete clue at the secret message Roadblock (getting the "Pikk Hermann Tower" part, but missing the final word, "Garden"), which led to them trying to find a way into the actual tower instead of checking the garden, dropping them further into last and ensuring their elimination.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: They almost missed the first flight in leg 2 because they went straight to the Narita airport instead of a travel agency when the leg started in the middle of the night, and the teams who went to the travel agency scooped up all the remaining tickets.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Matt's pink hair.
Maria Ho & Tiffany Michelle
Professional Poker Players, they started off as the obvious villain team due to their decision to hide from the other teams that they'd raked in over a million dollars in winnings at the poker tables, and tell them they worked for a charity instead. Their lie immediately came to light when Tiffany was recognized while standing in line at the airport in the second leg, which caused a bit of resentment with the other teams. While thisnote
earned them the ire of many of the fans, a portion of the fanbase immediately took to them for being the only female team cast against four male teams (at a time when a female team still hadn't won the race, and fans were eager to see it after seeing Dustin & Kandice
and Jaime & Cara
come so close), and having an open and honest attitude that was not playing up to the cameras (something that was particularly rare in this season). They persisted despite several close shaves, until they fell in 6th place when they were unable to complete either Detour choice on leg 7, and had to quit.
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: When the teams at the Elimination Station got their call, not many were sad to hear hey had gotten eliminated, as many still resented them for lying about their jobs. Zev in particular toasted their elimination.
- Asian Drivers/Women Drivers: Joked about in Dubai:
Tiffany: Leave it up to the girls to wreck the car.
Maria: It's okay, I have an excuse, because I'm an Asian female driver.
- Born Lucky: Discussed. After being saved from elimination by Zev & Justin losing their passport, they said that if they had as much luck at the casinos as they did on the Race, they'd be "bazillionaires" by now.
- Brains and Brawn: Discussed, with Tiffany calling herself the brawn of the team and Maria the brains (and the boobs).
- Chekhov's Hobby: Tiffany had ducks growing up, and her ability to herd them during the Roadblock allowed them to jump from last to 6th.
- Culture Clash: The reason they and Zev & Justin didn't get along is that Maria & Tiffany were professional poker players whose careers were based around reading subtle tells and emotional cues in others, whereas Zev had Asperger's, which made it impossible for him to read social cues in others, which meant the girls couldn't read him, and he had issues dealing with the subtle deceptions and mind games that come with being a professional poker player.
- Disqualification-Induced Victory: They ended up surviving elimination in leg 4 due to Zev & Justin's lost passport.
- Double Take: The guy who recognized Tiffany from the World Series of Poker did a double take when he figured out who she was.
- Failed a Spot Check:
- While traveling to the Pit Stop in the first leg, they lost two of their Japanese tourists, causing them to fall to last as they futilely searched for their lost tourists. They were never able to find the pair, and ended up hitting the Pit Stop in last, but were saved by a non-elimination (with a two hour penalty stacked on top for failing to complete the task).
- Leaving the Roadblock in Dubai, there was a car blocking them in, so Maria tried driving forward, right into a post that punctured their radiator.
- Genre Savvy: After being told by Phil that they were the last team to arrive in leg 4, Tiffany asked, "And?" knowing to wait until he had told them they were officially eliminated before being disappointed (and they were safe, due to Zev's lost passport).
- Incompatible Orientation: The editing made it seem as if they were flirting/being manipulated by gay brothers Dan & Sam, despite also showing Tiffany contemplating if the boys were gay in the second leg, and deciding to flirt with them either way.
- The Load: Maria. Tiffany showed a lot of skill at the game, but it was Maria's lack of any physical skill that cost them. For example, when they were trying to ring the bell at their fateful Detour, Tiffany almost reached it several times, while Maria never got the weight up over her own head.
- Manipulative Editing: The editors choosing not to air that they actually did work for a non-profit organization, and that wasn't a complete lie, leading to a lot of people hating them because they lied about working for a charity.
- Metaphorically True: They were actually telling the truth when they told the other teams they worked for a charity in Los Angeles, they just left out the part about the millions in poker winnings.
- Non-Gameplay Elimination: Due to the strong winds on the golf side of the Detour, and their inability to hit the bell on the high striker on the dance side of the Detour, they were physically unable to complete either Detour in Amsterdam, and they quit, Phil coming out to eliminate them in the field.
- Oh, Crap: Maria failed at her first attempt at the wasabi roulette Roadblock in the first leg, and as she was still working on her last bite of the first wasabi bomb, the wasabi landed on her again, for the second spin in a row, forcing her to make a second attempt right away. Neither woman was happy, and Tiffany thought Maria was going to quit right there. However, she managed to down her second wasabi bomb with seconds to spare.
- Professional Gambler: They are professional poker players.
- The Scrappy: To the teams at the Elimination Station, who were rooting for them to lose because they were "deceitful."
- Security Cling: To each other during their Non-Gameplay Elimination.
- Spanner in the Works: Their "non-profit" half truth might have lasted much longer into the game had they not run into a guy who recognized Tiffany. Granted, she had gotten a lot of airtime in the previous year's World Series of Poker broadcast as the last woman standing, so it's not surprising someone recognized her, he just outed their secret right in front of all the other teams.
- The Smart Guy: They easily breezed through the gold side of the Detour in leg six (Flight Time & Big Easy were the only other team to figure it out, but they didn't do it quickly enough to get themselves out of last place), finishing the leg an hour and a half faster than most of the other teams (but didn't win the leg because Meghan & Cheyne had a two-hour lead due to the Fast Forward in the previous leg).
- Unwitting Pawn: Sam gave Tiffany the answer to the bell counting Roadblock because he thought they'd be easy to beat down the linenote .
Mika Combs & Canaan Smith
Canaan: Get a grip. Come on. A million dollars to go down a slide. Really?
Dating country singers. They did nothing to stand out for the first five legs of the Race, and, as they were always at the back of the pack, they kind of faded into the background. At least until the sixth leg, when Mika suffered one of the most hilarious and embarrassing breakdowns in the show's history. Afraid of both heights and water, Mika found herself frozen and unable to go down a six-story water slide, allowing Flight Time & Big Easy to pass them and they were eliminated in 7th. Despite saying in their Elimination Statement
that her meltdown wouldn't effect their relationship, Canaan broke up with Mika at the Elimination Station.
Lance Layne & Keri Morrione
Lance: The truth of the matter is, we're the lions, and some of these teams are running like a pack of gazelles or zebras, and we're gonna take 'em down.
Lawyer and his fiancee. Lance came off as an egotistical blowhard after he made a number of boastful statements about his own abilities and prognostications about how they would do on the Race, only for them to run a mediocre five legs. Despite the supposed brains that come with him being a lawyer, his loud, aggressive attitude got him labeled a "meathead," and his repeated mistakes did nothing to alleviate this opinion with the other teams. They would get lost repeatedly in Dubai, dropping them out of the Race in 8th.
- Accidental Truth: The eliminated teams had a coracle race at the Elimination Station, which stretched over two webisodes. After the women had won, Keri said they should have done that on the Race, which the show did, way back in Season 3. It was half of the Detour that caused Flo to try to quit the game in the Final 3.
- Cutting the Knot: Lance's only bright spot came during the Roadblock in leg 3 where they had to disassemble a pile of VCRs and organize them into component piles. Whereas everyone else used electric screwdrivers to take apart the VCRs, Lance, after observing some locals demonstrating the task weren't being as careful as the contestants were, used his bare hands to tear apart the VCRs, passing up Justin when both teams thought they were the last two to finish the task, and were racing to avoid last.
- Failed a Spot Check: Twice in leg 3. They ran by the clue in front of the Ho Chi Minh City Post Office, and went inside, and later, during the Detour, they could not find the lady they needed to give their balloons to in order to complete the task, even though they were standing right there as Zev & Justin handed her their balloons.
- I'm Standing Right Here: Lance's response to Keri telling the camera that she was getting frustrated with him becasue he was always breathing down her neck was, "I'm sitting right here."
- Informed Ability: Lance being a Genius Bruiser. He's a lawyer, yet he showed none of the brains that he claimed to have pre-race. It was even Lampshaded by Maria & Tiffany in the second leg as they mocked him for his boasting, calling him a meathead.
- Hot-Blooded: Lance, he even did a reverse hook kick before checking in at the Cambodia Pit Stop.
- Jerkass: Lance was loud, aggressive, super-competitive, and made numerous off putting comments to the other teams.
- No Sense of Direction: What got them eliminated. They got lost looking for the parking garage their car was in, then got lost looking for both the Roadblock and the Detour in Dubai.
- One Head Taller
- Paper Tiger: Lance was infamously boastful about being a Genius Bruiser, but instead was neither as smart or physically impressive as he claimed to be.
- Pitbull Dates Puppy: Keri was very passive as compared to Lance.
- Rated M for Manly: Lance's entire personality revolved around him being the super macho type.
- Read the Freaking Clue: During their drive to the airport in the first leg, Lance yelled at Keri for not noticing the kanji on top of their first clue, and almost getting them eliminated, as it had been her job to read the clue.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: After grabbing their clue from the dragon puppet at the beginning of leg 3, they did not open the capsule inside the pouch to see what was inside, but instead started running around trying to trade it to someone for a clue.
- Satellite Character: Keri, simply because so much attention was put on Lance, and they only lasted four episodes.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Lance made several analogies to him being a lion, and the other teams being his prey, yet, other than a couple lucky breaks on the first two legs, they were rarely near the top of the pack.
- Surprise Difficulty: Discussed at the beginning of the third leg.
- Tempting Fate: During their intro, Lance said that that they brought too much physically and mentally into the game not to win.
Zev Glassenberg & Justin Kanew
Screenwriter (the son of Revenge of the Nerds
director Jeff Kanew) and his friend with Asperger Syndrome
. They were easily the most popular team at the outset of the season, and, like most Inspirationally Disadvantaged
teams, they dominated the airtime for the first three episodes. Things seemed to be going great for them during the fourth leg, they got a great cab driver, and, despite Zev struggling through the monkey mimicking Roadblock, they managed to hit the Pit Stop first. However, they quickly discovered they were missing Zev's passport, and as they could not locate it before all the other teams checked in, they were disqualified from the Race in 9th place. Their massive popularity and heartbreaking elimination got them invited back for Unfinished Business, where they would go on to be one of the stars of the season.
- Adorkable: Zev.
- Brutal Honesty: Zev, as described by Justin, due to his Asperger's.
- Call It Karma: Justin explained to their Cambodian cab driver the concept of Call It Karma, on the basis that they were being repaid for their bad luck in the previous leg with good luck in the current one. Justin even asked if they would receive bad karma for telling the other teams to go the wrong way. They would lose Zev's passport later in that leg.
- Culture Clash: The reason they and Maria & Tiffany didn't get along is that Maria & Tiffany were professional poker players whose careers were based around reading subtle tells and emotional cues in others, whereas Zev had Asperger's, which made it impossible for him to read social cues in others, which meant the girls couldn't read him, and he had issues dealing with the subtle deceptions and mind games that come with being a professional poker player.
- Decoy Protagonist: They seemed to be set up for a run late into the race, including a possible rivalry with Maria & Tiffany hinted at due to their Culture Clash.
- Didn't Think This Through: At the Child's Play Detour, they grabbed the first animal they saw, the giraffe, which was the biggest and tallest animal, while all the other teams were searching for animals that were set close to the ground. They ended up having trouble balancing and pulling the giraffe, as it was taller than them, and they even dropped it at one point and broke it's ear. Justin admitted after the leg that they made a poor choice in their haste to start the task.
- Failed a Spot Check:
- Justin fell in the water following the mud packing task in leg 2, and dropped his clue on the boat in the process. He did not notice this right away, so they had to turn around to retrieve the clue, dropping them behind Mika & Cannan.
- Losing Zev's passport.
- Genre Savvy: In their final leg, they got their cab driver's number, so they were able to call him after they lost Zev's passport. If they had dropped it in the cab, like Dallas, this would have saved the race for them.
- I Coulda Been a Contender: When it became clear that they were not going to find Zev's passport, Zev sadly said that they would have won.
- Innocently Insensitive: Zev, as a result of his Asperger's. More prevalent in Deleted Scenes and Elimination Station videos, especially when he was talking about Maria & Tiffany.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Zev's Asperger's syndrome. Though the angle was overemphasized as usual, Zev was a refreshing change of pace, as instead of wanting to go on the Race to prove to the world what people with AS could do, he went on the Race to prove to himself what he could do. They regularly appeared on outlets such as Autism Speaks post-race.
- Ironic Echo: At the beginning of their final leg, they got last second standby tickets on the first flight to Cambodia, after which Justin said to Lance, "That would have been a tough way to go," while both teams were feeling relieved. Later in the episode, after losing their passports, Justin said, "This would be an awful way to go down."
- Left Hanging/All There in the Manual: What happened to their passport was never explained during the show, but was instead relegated to the Elimination Station, where they realize that they went into the wrong temple and Justin must have lost the passport in the dark while pulling out his head lamp (which also justified not showing it in the actual episode).
- Nice Hat: Zev wore a wide-brimmed straw gardening hat with a flower on it during their intro.
- Non-Gameplay Elimination: As passports are a vital part to traveling around the world, they were the first team to be ejected from the game (Toni & Dallas lost their money as well, so they never made it to the Pit Stop, and were technically Field Eliminated instead of ejected).
- Oh, Crap: After checking in at the Pit Stop and realizing they only had one passport.
- The Rainman: Zev showed some serious racing skills, especially in leg 2 when he calmly herded his ducks during the Roadblock. Other teams lost their cool, and therefore lost control of their ducks, while the ducks just went right along with the calm and cool Zev.
- Running Gag: Zev attempted this with both of their cab drivers in leg 4, one in Vietnam, one in Cambodia, when he told both of them he would call their mother if they didn't drive faster/wait for them.
- Self-Deprecation: Part of what made Zev so charming was his ability to make quips about his Asperger's syndrome.
- Single Tear: Zev used this as a joke during their intro.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Up until their elimination, they seemed to be the main focus of Season 15.
Marcy Malloy & Ronald "Ron" Shalita
Older dating couple, they were eliminated in the third leg when they were the only team to choose the Word Play Detour, and subsequently botched it. After spotting their six letters, instead of finding a local to help them unscramble then word like they were supposed to, they instead tried looking around their immediate area for words containing those six letter. By the time they got help, they had fallen so far behind that the other teams had finished the Roadblock by the time they arrived, and they ended up 10th.
- Cool Old People
- December-December Romance
- Crowd Chant: Marcy had her Japanese tourists chant "blue" to raise their spirits during their trek through Shibuya (they were wearing blue visors).
- No Sense of Direction: They were shown having trouble navigating Shibuya in the first leg, and though they left the wasabi Roadblock tied with Meghan & Cheyne for 1st, they ended up 4th.
- Read the Freaking Clue: During the Word Play Detour, after finding their letters, instead of getting a local to help them unscramble the letters, they started looking around for something in their vicinity that contained the six letters.
Garrett Paul & Jessica Stout
Couple who had been dating on and off for seven years, and were looking to make a final decision about their relationship. Despite arriving at the duck herding Roadblock in 2nd, Jessica struggled with the task, dropping them to last and eliminating them in 11th place.
Eric Paskel & Lisa Paskel
Married yoga teachers. They were eliminated at the Starting Line when they failed to find the correct license plate before all of the other teams, and as such are the only team to never leave the country.
- Back for the Finale: Averted. They refused to go to the Elimination Station, walking off the "set" instead, and therefore were not at the Finish Line.
- Bourgeois Bohemian: They're yoga teachers, and implied during their pre-Race interviews that they were swingers and planned on hitting on the other teams during the race.
- Rage Quit: They were not pleased about being eliminated at the Starting Line, and didn't even go into sequester, they just walked right on out and went home.
- Read the Freaking Clue: One of the reasons they lost is because they didn't notice the kanji spelling for "Shinagawa" at the top of their clue until there were only two teams left at the task.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: they didn't even last half an episode, and they were one of the teams fans were most excited about prior to the season.