"It looks like we've entered the middle phase of a typical reality TV contest. The weakest contestants left early, so instead of eliminating the person who did worst that week, they are going to get rid of the one who hasn't created any drama. Looks like Alex and Cameron will make it to the final episode."
On competition-based Reality TV
, especially Talent Shows
, one needs to exhibit the talent or skill necessary to win in order to justify their continuing existence on the show. Some contestants just don't have that, and most are quickly jettisoned.
However, sometimes a weak contestant will cheat elimination week after week, horrible performance after horrible performance. This is an Elimination Houdini.
Personality can sometimes play a role, but it doesn't matter whether the contestant is a nice person
or a Jerkass
. There is one and only one trait required to be a Elimination Houdini: an utter lack of the talent necessary to win the show, especially in comparison to the other contestants, including those already eliminated.
It's not enough for a contestant to be deemed incompetent by a mere sizable portion of viewers, though. There needs to be an overwhelming consensus that the Elimination Houdini just doesn't belong on the show anymore. What's more, this sentiment should also be shared by the other contestants (for shows with Confession Cams
) or the judges (where the home audience votes and the judges have little to no influence anymore).
And yet, somehow, they survive for weeks and weeks. In shows where the evictions are decided by judges, there may be Executive Meddling
afoot, keeping a contestant on as a human Conflict Ball
to drive up ratings. One the other hand, in shows with public votes, people will often vote to keep on a contestant who's So Bad They're Good
at the expense of technically superior opponents. Either way, it's enough to get some loyal viewers to not watch again... at least for a week or two. It's not uncommon for these people to develop a hatedom
that takes on a life all its own.
There is also another form of Elimination Houdini
, commonly seen in shows like Survivor
in which the contestants vote people out and not the audience. They may be the second person or another target for elimination, but somehow manage to avoid it, and they can do it in several ways. Either they get lucky and someone makes a bone-headed move that gets them
on the chopping block instead, they instead gun for a different threat, a Non-Gameplay Elimination
spares them a round, or the Elimination Houdini
manages to talk their way out of elimination and avoids death. If the players are moderately Genre Savvy
, a bad player may become a Houdini through stronger players actively protecting them - why knock them out now when they could be easy competition in the finals? Often this happens when Tall Poppy Syndrome
It is actually fully possible for the Elimination Houdini
. In shows about alliances, they may be somewhat of a "Deadly Floater" who floats along then slips through the cracks in alliances, or plays enough of a social game their Entitled Bastard
opponent(s) get a good "Not you!" in the final round. Or, in a talent-based show, they have a fanbase who votes for them because they want to see them continue. Maybe they're So Bad, It's Good
The inverse is a Shocking Elimination
, in which a favored contestant is cut earlier than expected, many times in the place of the Elimination Houdini.