After two straight successful seasons, the Race initially seemed to be reverting to old bad habits. With four Stunt Casting
teams, the comparisons to Seasons 15
were not far behind. However, within the first few episodes it became abundantly clear that the producers were not planning on going easy on these teams. The producers had obviously been paying attention, and put together a course that exploited the Metagame
and the tendency for teams to overlook small details. The teams were entertaining for the most part, with little inter-team drama. While the season had its moments, it was never great, nor was it ever exactly bad either. It's probably the closest the show has to an "average" season.
Ernest "Ernie" Halvorsen & Cindy Chiang
Ernie: To lose it to the boys would be one thing, but to lose it to Sandy & Jeremy or Marcus & Amani would be like losing it to my brother or something.
Cindy: It'd be like losing it to the C student when we're the A+ student.
Engaged couple. Out in the real world, Cindy's mom apparently was not very happy with her choice of husband, which caused her to go out of her way to prove her relationship to her family. However, none of that showed on the race. What the audience saw was a Control Freak
who pushed herself and her husband-to-be way too hard, freaked out at the drop of a hat, and annoyed them with her single-minded goal to win the race. They spent most of the season as second bananas to Andy & Tommy, but once they were free of the snowboarders in the finale, they put on the most dominating finale performance in Race history, not even seeing another team after the first task on their way to victory.
- Asian and Nerdy: Cindy
- Catch Phrase: Cindy's, "Oh my god."
- Control Freak: Cindy.
- Crazy-Prepared: Cindy, as part of her Control Freak nature, made Ernie prepare with her for any possible situation, including studying geography, intensive language courses, and rock climbing.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: In the finale, they didn't see another team after the first task, giving them the most obvious win in Race history.
- Education Mama: Overachiever Cindy apparently came from one of these "Asian Tiger Mom" households, and it shows.
- Failed a Spot Check: Constantly. Despite being more technically skilled at the game and having more knowledge of the Metagame than Andy & Tommy, their inability to notice small details was why they were never considered the best team on the season. They cost themselves at least three leg wins due to stupid mistakes. Add to that the three legs they did win, and they could have been the six win team had they been able to get their act together. They even knew this, and Cindy kept pointing in out near the end of the season.
- Flawless Victory
- Freudian Excuse: Cindy's just full of them.
- Genre Savvy
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In leg 5, they said that they had been to Bangkok recently, but it wouldn't be an advantage as they wouldn't be able to find anything... except ladyboys.
- No Sense of Direction: They would have won leg 10 if they had just been able to navigate.
- Opposites Attract: How did someone as laid back as Ernie ended up with someone as uptight as Cindy?
- Overshadowed by Awesome: A big theme of Season 19 was Ernie & Cindy running a successful, No Damage Run race, yet constantly feeling like a second-tier team because they did not achieve many first place finishes, and constantly made late mistakes that allowed them to be overtaken and beaten by Andy & Tommy (who managed to build up the image of an unstoppable force heading into the Final Four). Once the snowboarders were gone, they were far above the remaining competition heading into the final leg, and they cruised to victory.
- Satellite Character: Ernie, compared to Cindy, just kind of floated in the background most of the time.
- The Smart Guy: Cindy
- The Slacker: Ernie
- Underdogs Never Lose: To a point. They were underdogs to Andy & Tommy, but favorites in the finale.
Jeremy Cline & Sandra "Sandy" Draghi
Dating Divorcees. Despite making the Final 3, they spent the majority of their time out of the spotlight, even with a first-place finish and three straight second-to-last finishes in elimination legs under their belt. They were ultimately smoked by Ernie & Cindy in the final leg when they went to the store called "The Dump" instead of the former residence known as "The Dump", and finished in 2nd.
Amani Pollard & Marcus Pollard
Marcus: We just took the opening kickoff and ran it for a touchdown.
An African-American married couple. If you talk to Marcus for more than two minutes you'll learn two things. First, he used to play football, specifically, tight end for the Indianapolis Colts. Second, he relates his entire life through the sport. They had a knack for falling way behind, then making last minute comebacks to survive. Nonetheless, they won two legs and made the Final 3, and were knocked out of the running on the first task when it took Marcus 12 tries to correctly land the plane in the flight simulator.
- Busman's Vocabulary: Everything can be described through a football metaphor. Everything.
- Call Back: On leg 2, upon getting out of a cab in Indonesia, Marcus said that he now knew how Big Easy felt having to ride in tiny vehicles on his two seasons.
- Chewing the Scenery: Marcus delivered most of his metaphors with flair.
- Gentle Giant: This seems to be the trend amongst big, athletic black guys on the show.
- Goshdang It To Heck: Marcus would utter a very loud, "Shoot!" when they were stuck.
- Happily Married
- Informed Ability: Marcus's physical abilities. He got beaten carting around 200 lbs. bales of hay by a 60-year-old man.
- Lovable Jock
- Metaphorically True: Discussed by Marcus in the premiere when talking about keeping that he had been a professional football player a secret. Technically, as a tight end, it was his job to protect the quarterback, so it was not lying to say he was in "protection," and as he was retired at that point, if asked if he was a football player, it was technically correct if he said no.
- One Head Taller
- Running Gag: Did you know Marcus used to play football?
- Stunt Casting
Andrew "Andy" Finch & Thomas "Tommy" Czeschin
Professional snowboarders, with Andy competing in the 2006 Winter Olympics. While they initially started out as an attempt to recreate teams such as BJ & Tyler
, they caused a lot of controversy when they made some fairly closed-minded statements regarding their own religion and religion as a whole whilst in Asia, which alienated themselves from a good portion of the audience. This, combined with a generous portrayal as the supposed fan favorites of the season, would lead to them being easily the most divisive and controversial team of the season. Whilst they raced strong, and would have a late lead in the penultimate leg of the season, they ended up getting edged out of the Final 3 thanks to flubbing their first attempt at finding the location of the Pit Stop, while the other teams' cab drivers worked together to get them to the Pit Stop.
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: The Final 3 teams celebrated on the mat when they realized that they had finished ahead of Andy & Tommy, and wouldn't have to face them and their insane luck in the finale.
- Born Lucky: They won three legs due to other teams' penalties.
- Crack Defeat: They were in first place in the penultimate leg, looking like a lock for the Final 3, when they messed up the clue that was supposed to lead them to the Pit Stop, their cab driver taking them first to the Panama Canal, than a statue looking for "Balboa". This should have been no big deal, as only one of the other teams figured it out on the first try, except that the cab drivers for all the other teams had been in contact all day, and the one who knew where he was going told the other two where the Pit Stop was. Since Andy & Tommy's driver was not in on this collusion, they missed out and were eliminated.
- Dumb Muscle: Tommy would morph into this whenever he hit a mental task. He would get a blank, confused look on his face.
- Expy: They're B.J. & Tyler with just a dash of Christianity.
- Failed a Spot Check: Not noticing Panama Viejo on the dancer's dress (partially) cost them the race.
- Invincible Hero: They were a subversion. Though they did win six of the first ten legs prior to their elimination, and though their dominance was constantly talked about, so was the fact that they were insanely lucky, and that half of their wins were due to the team(s) in front of them incurring penalties.
- Real Men Love Jesus: To the point of insulting all other deities in front of their house of worship apparently.
- Rock-Paper-Scissors: How they decided who would do what Roadblock.
- Shocking Elimination
- Shoo Out the Clowns
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad
- The Stoic: Much like T.K., it invited endless stoner jokes.
- Stunt Casting
- Surfer Dude: Though they were technically snow boarders, they fit this trope perfectly.
William "Bill" Alden & Catherine "Cathi" Alden
Cathi: At our age we're going to die soon anyway.
Older couple, they fell behind in leg 1 while unable to find the giant sign that was their next clue, but were saved by a rare first leg non-elimination. They would quickly improve, even pulling a pair of 2nd place finishes before they fell behind again in leg 10, finally getting eliminated in 5th.
- Badass Grandparents: Being a farmer, Bill blew through a Roadblock involving transporting 200 lb. bales of tobacco across a warehouse via handcart, easily beating former NFL tight end Marcus in the process. Cathi was no slouch either, carrying an entire bedframe on her back to the Pit Stop on that same leg. Two legs later, they were U-Turned and shrugged off the additional task without dropping a spot. Even if they finished fifth, give these guys a bit of credit - they started the race off at an obvious disadvantage.
- Cool Old Guy / Cool Old Lady: They were the fan favorites for a reason.
- Failed a Spot Check: Missing that giant sign in the first leg almost cost them the Race.
- Happily Married
- High School Sweethearts: Bill had this exchange with Cindy, about him and Cathi, in leg 8:
Bill: She was 12 and I was 13, and we met in middle school.
Cindy: Aw, so cute.
Bill: Went together for 8 years and got married on the day of graduation from college.
Cindy: Wow, we just met in a bar.
Bill: Well that's okay too.
Cindy: Over a shotski.
- Let's Get Dangerous: After getting a lucky bus ride on leg five, they stopped trailing at the back of the pack and started running at the front.
- Elimination Montage
- Self-Deprecation: See the above quote.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with Bill Smith.
- Team Parents: They were even nicknamed "Ma and Pa" by the other teams.
Laurence Sunderland & Zachary "Zac" Sunderland
Father and son team, Zac was the first person under the age of 18 to sail solo around the world. Laurence quickly became intolerable as he taunted both his son and other teams. They would get U-Turned on leg 8, but still had a lead on Jeremy & Sandy until they got lost looking for the Pit Stop, finishing 6th.
- Hypocrite: Laurence didn't hesitate to U-Turn a team (that was actually in front of them) but didn't take it too well when he was U-Turned.
- Informed Ability: They're father-son adventurers who sailed around the world, yet they had trouble navigating their boat in leg 4.
- Jerkass: Laurence, at one point he relentlessly mocked Sandy (a nurse practitioner) for not being able to sew.
- Never My Fault: Laurence in the Spirit House disassembling/assembling task.
- No Sense of Direction
- Read The Freaking Clue: In leg 3 they used more than the allowed number of buckets at the Grass Fed detour when they were limited to 2. This was pointed out by Andy & Tommy but they still persisted. They ended up with a 15 minute penalty and Andy & Tommy claimed their second leg win of the race.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: They got off a first class bus to Bangkok and ran back to the bus station to get on another bus, wasting both money and time because they thought the "no first class plane tickets" rule applied to buses as well. At the Pit Stop, Phil questioned their motives, doing everything but calling it a stupid move.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Laurence liked to constantly let the cameras know how much better he would have done everything than his son, and was shown to be nearly insufferable any time he interacted with the other teams.
- Stunt Casting
Justin Young & Jennifer Young
African-American siblings, they mostly ran near the top of the pack, costing themselves a win in leg 6 because they failed to pay their driver. Jennifer would get lost during the Roadblock in leg 7, costing them the race.
Elizabeth "Liz" Canavan & Marie Canavan
Twins. They would run out of money on leg five, forcing them to beg for rides from cab drivers and get eliminated in 8th.
Kaylani Paliotta & Lisa Tilley
Former Vegas showgirls, they made a splash in the first leg when Kaylani dropped her passport while asking for directions in the first leg, and fans, talking over Twitter, got it back to her at LAX. Of course, many fans naturally assumed that the producers had arranged for this stranger to show up at the airport, despite Kaylani noticing her passport missing and them returning to the gas station where she lost it before heading to the airport, and the guy who had returned it having previously given directions to Andy & Tommy at that gas station. They wouldn't last long anyway, as they did not pay their cab driver prior to doing the Roadblock in leg 3, and had to go back to pay him before checking in at the Pit Stop, resulting in their elimination.
- Failed a Spot Check: Almost became the second team eliminated without ever leaving the US due to a lost passport.
- Fatal Family Photo: One of the most literal examples in the series, as leg 3 started with Kaylani talking about the picture of her daughter on her backpack.
- Ms. Fanservice
- Technology Marches On: Fans using Twitter and other social media to get their passport back to them would have been impossible in early seasons.
Ethan Zohn & Jenna Morasca
The winners of Survivor Africa
and Survivor Amazon
respectively, and the less well known couple from Survivor All-Stars
. They had been suggested by Survivor
fans for years as another potential immigrant for the Race. They did decently well in the first leg, but left their clue behind at the Detour in the second leg, and then missed the sign telling them to donate all their money to the orphanage, dropping them to 10th place. Though they never finished in last, they became the first and only victims of the double elimination.
Ronald "Ron" Zeitz & William "Bill" Smith
Flight Attendants and domestic partners. They fell behind all the other teams early in leg 2 and never caught up, finishing 11th.