After two straight successful seasons, the Race initially seemed to be reverting to old bad habits for their nineteenth season. 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 these teams were not going to have it easy. 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, coming up with one of the most mentally challenging courses the show had ever seen. However, this added challenge also led to teams making lots of mistakes. Several times a team survived a big mistake that normally would have eliminated them, simply because someone else made a bigger mistake. 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, which is more than likely the reason why it is the only post-Unfinished Business season to not have a representative in the second All-Stars 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 A+ students.
Engaged couple. Out in the real world, Cindy's parents apparently were 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, at least prior to the finale. 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 stressed them both out 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."
- Chekhov's Hobby: Subverted. Cindy mentioned taking seven years of Chinese school as a child, but it barely came into play in Taiwan (a Chinese speaking country), unlike with previous Chinese racers, who were able to dominate Chinese legs due to their communication skills. However, they won the leg anyway.
- Control Freak: Cindy. In the final leg, she became so obsessed with Ernie keeping the plane under control during the flight simulator challenge, that she ignored her duties of keeping the plane up to speed, and they fell out of the sky.
- 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.
- Defeat by Modesty: Averted by Ernie. No one was happy with the Barely-There Swimwear the teams were forced to don for the bodybuilding task, except Ernie, who was positively giddy after putting his Speedo on.
- Down to the Last Play: The seventh leg had a long run from the U-Turn mat to the Pit Stop, which allowed Andy & Tommy to catch up to and pass the Express Pass using Ernie & Cindy just feet from the mat for their fifth leg win. Notable in the huge amount of Foreshadowing the scene contained pertaining to Ernie & Cindy's eventual victory over Andy & Tommy.
- Establishing Character Moment: In her introduction, Cindy called herself a Control Freak.
- Education Mama: Overachiever Cindy apparently came from one of these "Asian Tiger Mom" households, and it shows.
- Epic Fail: A hilarious one while Cindy was trying to carry her bed to the Pit Stop in Malawi. Seeing Cathi carrying the bed on her back, Cindy had Ernie help balance the bed on her head. However, as soon as he let it go, she took a few steps and realized she did not have the strength to carry it that way. Instead of dropping the bed, she collapsed, the bed falling on top of her and pinning her to the ground, unable to free herself, and they both devolved into fits of laughter.
- Every Year They Fizzle Out: Despite being more technically skilled at the game and having more knowledge of the Metagame than Andy & Tommy, their tendency to make late mistakes and fall behind was why they were never considered the best team on the season. They cost themselves at least three leg wins due to stupid mistakes, a fourth due to bad traffic causing them to ditch their cab, and a fifth due to the train equalizer late in leg 9, causing them to lose their huge lead on the other teams. 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. However, when it counted, they pulled through and won it all.
- Failed a Spot Check:
- They would have won leg 2 if they had not missed the clue telling them to give the orphans all their money.
- They were taking a train from Hamburg to Brussels, with a stop at Cologne in between. Leaving the ticket office, they dropped their tickets from Cologne to Brussels, and did not have enough money to buy another pair. This led to them getting on the train anyway, and hoping a conductor didn't come around to check tickets. No conductor came by, and they made it to Brussels without incident.
- Flawless Victory
- Freudian Excuse: Cindy's just full of them, mostly due to her Education Mama.
- Interchangeable Asian Cultures:: Joked about. Cindy's response to rowing the dragon boat in Taiwan was, "I feel so Asian right now."
- No Sense of Direction:
- They dropped several places in leg 4 when they had troubles using their compass to find north.
- They would have won leg 10 if they had just been able to navigate. Getting lost looking for their the address of their homing pigeons dropped them to 3rd.
- Noodle Incident: In leg 5, they said that they had been to Bangkok two and a half years ago, but it wouldn't be an advantage as they wouldn't be able to find anything... except ladyboys.
- Opposites Attract: How did someone as laid back as Ernie end up with someone as uptight as Cindy?
- Overshadowed by Awesome: A big theme of the season 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.
- Parental Marriage Veto: Cindy's parents were not happy with her choice of spouse, and would have preferred her to be with a Chinese man. At the Finish Line, Cindy said hopefully them winning the Race would change her parents' minds.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: When told to disassemble their spirit house, Ernie did not want to take notes, saying the clue said nothing about reassembling the spirit house. Of course, when Ernie had to do the Roadblock, he could not remember how it went, and had to go back and look at another spirit house.
- Rejected Apology: After being edged out by Andy & Tmmy at the seventh Pit Stop, Tommy attempted a congratulatory/apologetic hug on Ernie, but he backed away from it, resulting in Tommy following behind Ernie as he hugged Ernie's bag.
- The Smart Girl: Cindy.
- The Slacker: Ernie.
- This Is A Race: Cindy, after U-Turning Bill & Cathi.
- 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, becoming probably the least focused on team to make it to the finale. They had a few fights, but never enough to become the fighting couple, they didn't really clash with any of the other teams aside from Laurence (and that only lasted one task). Overall, they were just kind of there. They were ultimately smoked by Ernie & Cindy in the final leg when they lost their lead after they went to the store called "The Dump" instead of the former residence known as "The Dump," and finished in 2nd.
- Born Lucky: They survived three nearly catastrophic mistakes because other teams made even worse mistakes:
- Their cab driver getting them lost in Bangkok was negated by Liz & Marie running out of money.
- Their issues with the rowing Detour in Malawi was negated by Jennifer botching the Roadblock.
- Their poor navigation in Denmark was negated by Laurence & Zac's even poorer navigation.
- Don't Look Down: Jeremy to Sandy when she had to walk the tightrope between the San Francisco Bay Towers.
- Dull Surprise: Sandy failed the Hans Christian Andersen Roadblock the first time because of her underwhelming dramatic performance.
- Failed a Spot Check:
- Like most of the teams, They failed to notice the sign stating to donate all of their money to the orphanage.
- They screwed up their first clue in Denmark, missing one of the flags that told them their destination. With only one half of the clue, they ended up going to the wrong castle, dropping them to a tie for last with Marcus & Amani, who hadn't even gotten into the country until an hour after the "operating hours" equalizer had opened for the other teams.
- Early in the Legoland puzzle task they dropped one of their pieces, and did not notice it until they had nearly completed the puzzle. They then had to start over with a new puzzle.
- Long Runner Tech Marches On: In the finale, instead of using their cab driver's phone to call for help to find "The Dump" like Ernie & Cindy did, they instead stopped and asked a random guy on the street, which got them sent in the wrong direction and lost them the race.
- No Sense of Direction: This almost got them eliminated in Denmark, if not for Laurence & Zac's even worse navigation.
- Out of Focus: One of the most blatant examples in the series.
- Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Laurence mocked Sandy for not being able to sew. Never mind she did actually know how to sew, just human bodies instead of clothing.
- That Came Out Wrong: When dressing as Thomson & Thompson in Belgium, Sandy asked if he liked her as a man, to which Jeremy responded that she made a darn hot man. To which he immediately followed up with, "That sounded weird."
- This Is Gonna Suck: When they read that Atlanta was the Final Destination City, as Marcus & Amani were from Atlanta.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Heights for Sandy.
Amani Pollard & Marcus Pollard
Marcus: We just took the opening kickoff and ran it for a touchdown.
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. Though had a knack for falling way behind, then making last minute comebacks to survive, they still managed to win two legs and make the Final 3, but were knocked out of the running on the first task when it took Marcus 12 tries to correctly land his plane in the flight simulator challenge.
- Bad Luck Charm: A man in Panama gave Marcus some magic rocks to give to Andy & Tommy to give them bad luck. Though he forgot to give the rocks to the boys, and he threw them out the window instead, his insistence that the bad luck would still affect Andy & Tommy turned out to be true, as they were eliminated at the end of the leg due to fatal mistake followed by a streak of bad luck.
- Born Lucky: The barely avoided elimination no less than five times, including in the penultimate leg, when their cab driver being in contact with Jeremy & Sandy's got them to the Pit Stop without ever figuring out the location for themselves, and both of their leg wins came after late leg bunching points that vaulted them ahead of other teams.
- Busman's Vocabulary: Everything can be described through a football metaphor. Everything.
- Call Back: Upon getting out of a cab in Indonesia, Marcus said that he now knew how Big Easy felt having to ride in tiny vehicles during his two seasons.
- Catch Phrase: Amani said that Marcus likes to pick up various Catch Phrases, and then repeat them ad nauseam.
- Failed a Spot Check: They made it almost all the way to the Pit Stop in Phuket in 3rd place, only to drop three spots when they kept missing the signs leading them to the floating stadium.
- Fifteen Puzzle: Their Speed Bump had them completing one of these of the Malawi flag.
- Gentle Giant: Marcus.
- Goshdang It To Heck: Marcus would utter a very loud, "Shoot!" when they were stuck.
- Girlish Pigtails: Amani often wore her hair in these.
- Griefer: While Amani was trying to memorize the Hans Christian Andersen poem, Marcus started yelling random words at her to try to distract her, supposedly so she would get used to ignoring him and not be distracted while riding her bike to the theater to recite it.
- Happily Married
- Happy Dance: Marcus, when they made the Final 3.
- Home Field Advantage: Marcus called it this when they realized that they would be racing in Atlanta, their home city, in the final leg. He must not have been aware that, more often than not, teams have tended to lose the final leg in their home cities.
- Informed Ability: Marcus's physical abilities. He got beaten carting around 200 lbs. bales of hay by a 60-year-old man.
- Lamarck Was Right: Referenced in leg 6, as Marcus wanted to do the sewing Detour because both his mother and grandmother had been seamstresses, and he had seen it done. Averted in that they struggled with the task, dropped even further into last, and were only saved by a non-elimination.
- Large Ham: Marcus delivered most of his metaphors with flair.
- The Load: Averted in the third leg. They were last heading into the Buddhist Statues Roadblock, and while putting on their sarongs, they ran into Andy & Tommy, who had just completed the task. Tommy, without hesitation, gave them the answer to the very confusing task (one which he had already all but been handed by Laurence), with them explicitly stating afterwards that they were doing it because they had the ability to choose who they wanted to keep in the Race by giving them the answer. Unfortunately, by the time they got to the top of the temple and got their Roadblock clue, they had already forgotten the answer.
- Lovable Jock: Marcus
- 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
- OOC Is Serious Business: At the Finish Line, Amani said that she got worried when Marcus punched the ceiling of the flight simulator, as she had never seen him punch anything before.
- Rage Quit: They became so frustrated with their cab driver over the course of the third leg, they dismissed him as soon as they hit the Borobudur Buddhist Temple. Normally, this would have been a horrible move, as they were at a tourist attraction in the middle of nowhere, but as the Pit Stop ended up being on the grounds, they passed several teams who had to go back and pay their cab drivers, while they were able to run right to the Pit Stop.
- Read The Freaking Clue: They initially screwed up the Grass Fed Detour, not filling up their bags full enough, and were forced by the task judge to back, to which their reaction was to just switch Detours. Already in last, this could have proved costly if not for bottleneck that would occur at the Buddhist Statues Roadblock.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: Marcus was happy relaxing at the Amsterdam airport, confident that all the teams would be on the same production arranged flight to Copenhagen in the morning. However, while they were taking their time, all the other teams were busy getting flights that got them in that evening. Cue the editors cutting between Marcus & Amani sleeping at the airport, while all the other teams arrived at the overnight equalizer that would give them an hour lead over Marcus & Amani in the morning.
- Rousing Speech: Marcus gave one to his rabbit at the All Hopped Up Detour, then again to Ernie & Cindy in the penultimate leg when they were last in line to get their fake tattoos.
- Running Gag: Did you know Marcus used to play football?
Andrew "Andy" Finch & Thomas "Tommy" Czeschin
Professional snowboarders, with Andy competing in the 2006 Winter Olympics. On the surface, they were a pair of goofy, fun-loving friends who dominated the season until they made one serious mistake followed by some bad luck, getting them eliminated in 4th.
However, their story is not that clear cut. There were negative feelings against them from the beginning, first for being another blatant Stunt Casting
team, embodying everything fans hated about Seasons 15 and 16, and in particular, a not so subtle attempt to create another B.J. & Tyler
, Flight Time & Big Easy
or Jet & Cord
. Second, while visiting a Buddhist temple in Thailand they were, to say, a bit narrow-minded in their commentary, making a number of controversial statements about religion that turned a good portion of the fanbase against them. Third, half of their six leg wins came due to another team(s) in front of them incurring a penalty, and two others came from legs that seemed to be particularly geared towards their strengths. Then you have their elimination, which came after they flubbed 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 first. Add all that up, and you have a team that's much more controversial than they were ever meant to be.
They were one of ten teams included in the initial cast leak for All-Stars,
but did not end up making the final cut.
William "Bill" Alden & Catherine "Cathi" Alden
Cathi: We're fearless. At our age we're going to die soon anyway, so it's all good.
Married grandparents, they fell behind by four hours in the first leg while looking for the Hidden in Plain Sight
giant sign clue, only to be saved by a rare first leg non-elimination. They would quickly improve, showing adeptness at both physical and mental tasks, mostly running near the front of the pack despite their age, and becoming fan favorites as a result. They fell behind doing the body building challenge in Belgium, and were never able to catch up, finally getting eliminated in 5th.
Laurence Sunderland & Zachary "Zac" Sunderland
Father and son adventurers, Zac was the first person under the age of 18 to sail solo around the world. However, it was Laurence who took the spotlight, as he quickly became intolerable due to his egotistical boasting and a number of sexist comments he made towards Sandy in Malawi. Though they would get U-Turned in Denmark, they still had a lead on Jeremy & Sandy leaving the Detour, only to get epically lost
looking for the Pit Stop, and were eliminated in 6th.
- Bad Liar: While trying to get tickets to Copenhagen in their last leg, their ticketing agent was checking on flights through London when Ernie & Cindy approached them. Cue a conversation full of awkward silences as Laurence & Zac badly lied about what they were doing.
- Informed Ability: They were father-son adventurers who sailed around the world, yet they had trouble navigating their boat to the Pit Stop in leg 4, and ended up having to follow Jeremy & Sandy.
- Jerkass: Laurence.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: Zac. Lawrence mentions in his pre-season video that he was the father of eight children.
- Moral Myopia: 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.
- Never My Fault: Laurence in the Spirit House disassembling/assembling task, when he wouldn't let Zac take notes, then berated Zac when he had to go back to look at another Spirit House due to not having notes to work off of.
- No Sense of Direction: They struggled to find the U-Turn mat in Malawi, allowing Marcus & Amani to pass them and negating the U-Turn they hit them with. In the next leg they would get lost looking for the Pit Stop and get eliminated.
- Read The Freaking Clue:
- They used more than the allowed number of buckets (2) at the Grass Fed Detour in leg 3. This was pointed out to them by Andy & Tommy, who told them to read their clue, but they still persisted. They ended up with a 15-minute penalty and Andy & Tommy claimed their second leg win of the race via another team's penalty.
- Upon picking up their bed frames in leg 6, they initially tried putting the frames into their cab instead of having the shop owner call a truck for them. Laurence eventually just flagged a random truck down on the street to help them.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness:
- At the beginning of leg 4, they and Andy & Tommy flew from Yogyakarta to Jakarta, Indonesia without first booking tickets to their ultimate destination, Phuket. While they were in the air, the teams behind them filled up all the available seats on the first flight to Phuket, putting them on a flight an hour behind the others. Only an overnight equalizer kept them from falling way behind.
- When told to disassemble their spirit house, Laurence would not let Zac take notes. Of course, when Zac had to reassemble it, he could not remember how it went, and had to go back and look at another spirit house. Laurence then berated him for this, and told the camera he could have done it better.
- Later in the leg 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.
- Textile Work Is Feminine: Laurence said that all the women would blow by them during the sewing Detour, and then relentlessly mocked Sandy for not being able to sew. Never mind that she is a nurse practitioner who sews up human bodies following surgery, Jeremy should be careful when marrying her because she can't hem pants.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Laurence's accent, which turned out to be a mix of English and Australian, but most people thought sounded mostly like South African.
Justin Young & Jennifer Young
Siblings. Despite their constant bickering
, they managed to run near the top of the pask for the first half of the season. However, Jennifer's failure to read the clue
would cause her to botch the Roadblock in leg 7, costing them the race.
- Black and Nerdy: Justin
- Brother-Sister Team
- Read The Freaking Clue: Jennifer completed the delivery part of the fish delivery Roadblock okay, but did not remember that she was then supposed to return to the dispatcher to get the clue, and as she had given the clue to Justin and was not able to read it to figure out what she had to do next, she just stood around with her bike until she finally got the idea to go back to Justin to get the clue, which, incidentally, completed the task as Justin was at waiting by the dispatcher. However, at that point they were so far behind that their elimination was all but guaranteed.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: They cost themselves the win in leg 6 when they did not pay the driver of the truck which took them and their beds to the Pit Stop, and were turned back from the mat. This gave Andy & Tommy their third leg win of the season via another team's penalty.
- Sassy Black Woman: Jennifer, it was even mentioned by Phil at the fourth Pit Stop.
- Sibling Rivalry: Which lead to Jennifer yelling at him for trying to make her run to the Pit Stop in the second leg.
- Straight Gay: Justin.
- Suddenly Sexuality: After six episodes of never mentioning Justin's sexuality, their elimination episode started with him talking about how he came out to his family.
- Twofer Token Minority: Justin, being black and gay.
Elizabeth "Liz" Canavan & Marie Canavan
Twin Sisters. Thailand was not very kind to them, as a pair of bad legs gave them a Speed Bump and depleted them of all their money, forcing them to beg for rides from cab drivers to complete the leg, and they were eliminated in 8th.
- Dumb Blonde: For example, they didn't exchange their money before heading to Thailand.
- The Glomp: To Phil when they arrived 10th in the first leg.
- Sibling Team
- Squee: When they got to interact with elephants in Thailand. Not just riding and cleaning an elephant, they were excited to clean up after it too.
- Tempting Fate: While riding their speed boat to the Detour in Thailand, one of them said it was the best leg so far. They would melt down during the Beach Preparation Detour when their umbrellas kept falling over, putting them in last and getting them hit with the Speed Bump in the next leg.
Kaylani Paliotta & Lisa Tilley
Former Vegas showgirls, they made a splash in the first leg when Kaylani dropped her passport while asking for directions to the airport, 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, and it caused quite the controversy. Though they did not last long anyway, as Lisa struggled with the Buddhist Statues Roadblock in the third leg, and when she did complete it, they had do go back and pay their cab driver before checking into the Pit Stop. This dropped them to last and resulted in their elimination.
- Broken Tears: Kaylani upon her elimination.
- Failed a Spot Check: They almost became the second team eliminated without ever leaving the U.S. due to a Kaylani dropping her passport. The cameraman helpfully pointed it out lying on the ground to the audience before they drove away from the gas station.
- Fatal Family Photo: One of the most literal examples in the series, as their final episode started with Kaylani talking about the picture of her daughter on her backpack.
- Long Runner Tech Marches On: Fans using Twitter and other social media to get their passport back to them would have been impossible in early seasons.
- Ms. Fanservice: Goes in hand with being former showgirls.
- Showgirl Skirt: Shown wearing these in a photo in their introduction and justified as they was actually Showgirls.
- Single Mom Stripper: Kaylani, the single mom Vegas showgirl.
Ethan Zohn & Jenna Morasca
The winners of Survivor Africa
and Survivor The 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. While they did decently well in the first leg, they fell behind early in the second leg, and ended up leaving their clue behind at the Detour, forcing them to go back and get it. Though they initially got to the Pit Stop ninth, they had missed the sign telling them to turn all their money in at the orphanage. As Kaylani & Lisa had turned in theirs, this dropped them to 10th place. Though they never finished in last, they became the first and only victims of the double elimination.
- Crack Defeat: They were eliminated without ever finishing last or giving up.
- Everybody Knew Already: They wanted to keep it a secret that they had both won Survivor in order to keep the other teams from targeting them. However, at the same time they were telling this to the camera, the other teams were talking about it at the gate.
- Failed a Spot Check: They initially left the Detour in 8th place, but left their clue behind. When going back to retrieve it, Laurence & Zac and Kaylani & Lisa passed them.
- History Repeats: See Sore Loser.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Ethan was recovering from cancer. Allegedly, it relapsed after the show.
- Sore Loser: They were less than happy with the manner of their elimination, and complained about the little sign in interviews, saying they never should have been given their next clue if they hadn't completed the challenge correctly.
- It should probably be noted that the two Survivor immigrants were generally negative about their time on the Race, and bitterly said that they never wanted to be on the show again after their early elimination, saying there was too much luck involved. While the Big Brother immigrants have generally been more positive about the game after their eliminations.
- The Scrappy: The other teams immediately resented them as they had both previously won Survivor.
- Wolverine Publicity: Though they had both previously won Survivor, this was averted as it had been eight years since Survivor: All-Stars.
Ronald "Ron" Zeitz & William "Bill" Smith
Flight Attendants and domestic partners. They fell behind all the other teams early in leg 2 and were not able to catch up during the Detour. As they did not hand over all their money at the orphanage, they missed out on a potential 9th place finish when they were sent back, and were eliminated in 11th place.