"The world is waiting for you. Good luck. Travel safe. Go!"
Phil Keoghan, starting off every season.
Emmy-winning Reality Show created by Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster and aired on CBS since 2001. Hosted by Phil Keoghan, the show could vaguely be considered the Reality Show version of Around the World in Eighty Days.Ten to twelve teams of two people go on a journey around the world, following clues and performing tasks in order to be the first to arrive at the designated Pit Stop; the last team to arrive is usually (but not always) eliminated.The most common types of tasks that the racers must perform along the way:
Detour - A Detour is a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. For Seasons 1-4, one route was typically shorter but harder (or scarier) to use while the other was longer but relatively easier. Starting with Season 5, it became more of a choice between two conflicting skill sets, such as Brains vs. Brawn, or something highly technical vs. grunt work. However, up until about Season 12, the tasks were still unbalanced enough that teams could easily see that one was much faster than the other. The producers got better at this post-All-Stars, and it's now uncommon to see all the teams choose the same Detour.
Roadblock - A Roadblock is a task that only one team member can perform; the choice must be made with only a vague clue to hint at the task. As of Season 6, the rules specify that no individual racer can perform more than a set number of Roadblocks, meaning the tasks must be split between teammates somewhat fairly.
Fast Forward - A special task that allows a team to bypass all other tasks and head directly to the Pit Stop. Fast Forwards are only awarded to the first team to complete the task, and teams are limited to one Fast Forward per race. The earliest seasons had Fast Forwards available on every leg, but due to the expense of setting them up they were cut back to only once or twice a season.
Yield/U-Turn - These allow one team to hinder the progress of another. The Yield (Seasons 5-11) makes the affected team wait for approximately 30 minutes before they're allowed to continue the race, while the U-Turn (Season 12 and onward) forces them to go back to the Detour they just finished and complete the other task. If the targeted team is already past the Yield or U-Turn at that point, it has no effect. There have been some variations on the U-Turn, such as the Blind U-Turn (Season 14-16), where the team using it can remain anonymous, the Double U-Turn (Season 17 and beyond), where two teams can each hinder a group behind them, and the Must Vote U-Turn (non-US only), which forces all the teams to vote for who should be U-Turned on that leg.
Speed Bump - Also introduced in Season 12, the Speed Bump is a short penalty task assigned to teams that placed last in non-elimination legs of the race. The Speed Bumped team must complete the task before they are allowed to continue. (Prior to this, non-elimination penalties involved confiscation of money and possibly possessions, or a time penalty on the next leg if they did not come in first.) Season 19 introduced a task called a Hazard, which is functionally similar but given to the team who finished last on the race's first task.
So far there have been three "gimmick" seasons: "Family Edition" (Season 8), which expanded teams to four people (including kids) and limited itself to traveling North America; "All-Stars" (Season 11), bringing back several previous racers; and "Unfinished Business" (Season 18), a second All-Stars encompassing Seasons 12-17, but with the twist that none of the returning teams have won.The show has done well with both critics and fans, with the possible exception of the aforementioned Family Edition, which sacrificed exotic world locales and interpersonal drama for a competitive family road trip.Amazing Race, like all reality shows, consists of a camera crew following the teams as they race across the globe; accordingly, for legal and political reasons, all participants must be US citizens, and legally able to travel outside of the US. The show is much less frustration-wrought than, say, Survivor — less emphasis is placed on knocking the other team out of the proverbial race, which allows for a more 'relaxed' atmosphere while showcasing some of the absolutely gorgeous scenery and geography in many of the world's most exotic countries.Heck, it's even mildly educational, owing to the fact that some of the clues require calculation, riddle- and puzzle-solving, and a passing familiarity with the notable landmarks in a given country.Fittingly, other countries have produced their own versions of the show:
The Amazing Race Asia: A race around the world (except for the Americas) open to English-speaking citizens of South, East, and Southeast Asia (Russia and Middle Eastern citizens not eligible), with a grand prize of US$100 thousand. Four seasons have aired.
The Amazing Race: A Corrida Milionária: A race around Brazil (and Chile) open solely to citizens of Brazil with a grand prize of R$500 thousand (about US$325 thousand). Only one season aired.
The Brazilian version is dubiously known for having one of the teams and their production crew robbed at gunpoint and being forced to stop racing until the local police could retrieve the camera and personal belongings of the crew. The team dropped from 4th to last, and were granted a non-elimination leg penalty. They were ultimately unable to recover and were eliminated two episodes later, after having come in first place on the leg before the robbery.
HaMerotz LaMillionnote "The Race to the Million" in Hebrew: A race around the world (except the Americas, again) open to citizens of Israel with a grand prize of ₪1 million (approximately US$147 thousand). Two seasons have aired, with a third in production.
The Amazing Race en Discovery Channel: A race around Latin America and the Caribbean open solely to Spanish-speaking citizens of the region (except those from Cuba, French Guiana, Puerto Rico, and much of the Lesser Antillies; Jamaica and the Bahamas are okay though) with a grand prize of US$250 thousand. Four seasons have aired, with a fifth in production.
After changing channels, the show entered its third season as just The Amazing Race. The show's fourth season will be subtitled Versão Brasil and acts as a spiritual successor to the Corrida Milionária, featuring solely Brazilian teams traveling throughout Brazil (Peru and Bolivia, too).
The Amazing Race: China Rush: A race around mainland China with a grand prize of a trip around the world financed by a travel agency. The first season was open solely to English-speaking nationals or expatriates living in China, but the second season allowed Chinese citizens as well as any international contestants who speak English and Chinese and had lived in China at some time. Two seasons have aired with a third season in production
Shanghai Rush: This knock-offnote The network didn't get the Amazing Race trademark until the China Rush preceded the China Rush and was a race solely around Shanghai with a grand prize of a year's accommodations at the Gemdale Green World. Instead of having Roadblocks, Detours, or Pit Stops, teams had to perform nondescript tasks at each location before moving on.
The Amazing Race Australia: A race around the world open to Australian citizens, with a grand prize of A$250 thousand (approximately US$260 thousand). Two seasons have aired with a third in production.
The first season of the Australian race initially kept with the unwritten "no Americas" rule of the Asian and Israeli races, and was the first race to include an extended visit to Israelnote The Israeli version barely spends any time in its home nation, and has only had international finish lines. and the West Bank.note It was an Israeli settlement. The second season broke this "rule" and had teams travel to Cubanote Practically forbidden for the American version due to the embargo. as well as Canada.
The Amazing Race Norge ("The Amazing Race Norway"): A race around the world (except for the Americas) open to Norwegian citizens, with a grand prize of 500 thousand kr (approximately US$85 thousand). Season 2 is on Norwegian TV currently.
The Amazing Race Vietnam: Cuộc đua kỳ thú 2012: A race around Vietnam open to Vietnamese citizens, with a grand prize of 300 million ₫ (the lowest pay out at less than US$15 thousand).
The Amazing Race Philippines: A race around the Philippines open to Philippine residents, with a grand prize of ₱2 million (approximately US$49 thousand). A unique aspect of the Race was its Philippine broadcast schedule, essentially shown every day of the week in half hour blocks Monday through Saturday, with a compilation episode shown Sundays. It is also notable for having a team break the "contacting people outside the Race" rule and receiving a 24-hour penalty.
"Big Race" in Ukrainian
("The Amazing Race Ukraine"): Currently in production and open to residents of the Ukraine.
The Amazing Race (France): A race around the world open to French citizens. A second season is in production. It is the first international edition of the show to travel to the United States. The grand prize was €50 thousand (approximately US$65 thousand).
The Amazing Race Central Europe: A cancelled version that would have been open to residents of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.
The Amazing Race Canada: Announced - Open to Canadian citizens and entirely within Canada. Scheduled to air Summer 2013 to avoid schedule conflicts with simulcasts of the US edition.
Note: Tropes relating to the series or teams in general go here. Tropes and examples specific to certain teams should be placed on their respective character pages.
Provides Examples Of:
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Alas, Poor Villain: With the tendency for teams to get a touching send-off after being eliminated or losing, even teams people originally rooted against can invoke this response upon realizing just how passionate they were about the race.
The full rules of the Race are never fully disclosed to the audience during the show, and they find out about many rules only when a team breaks them. According to former Racers, however, the teams spend a good bit of time being briefed on the actual Manual before the Race starts.
The audience only sees a single fairly brief page in the task envelopes that the teams open at each box. Again, teams have stated that there are usually supplementary sheets as well, with more details, limitations, and requirements for successfully completing the task.
The Alleged Car: Some of the cars the teams are given turn out to be this, and it's obviously quite deliberate.
Anti-Climax: Sometimes, no matter how carefully producers arrange things, teams will make mistakes and the outcome to an episode or a season will be perfectly obvious.
The Artifact: The Fast Forward. For the first four seasons, there was one on every leg, in theory giving each team a chance at one free pass. However, for budgetary reasons (as it was not cost-effective to set up all those single-use tasks, especially when half of them never got used, and therefore never made it onto the show), starting with Season 5 (and in all the foreign versions) the Fast Forward was cut back to only one or two per season, although the "one per team" rule still applied. With all the strategy drained out of it, the Fast Forward has mostly become a cheap and/or easy win for a team that was already in the lead, as no team outside of the lead pack would dare risk it, as to not get it would mean certain elimination (as happened to Terence & Sarah on US Season 13, or Joey "Fitness" & Danny on US Season 20).
Back for the Finale: All eliminated teams show up at the Finish Line to cheer on the final three teams, with only a few exceptions. (Such as a team losing a passport)
Backseat Driver: All the time when teams are tasked with driving themselves. As a bonus, because of the way the camera crew positions themselves in the car, the non-driving teammate is always positioned directly behind the driver.
Bittersweet Ending: Played for most of the 2nd and 3rd place teams. It's rare that a team hits the Finish Line completely distraught or dejected.
Blindfolded Trip: Sometimes the teams are given charter buses or planes to sign up for, but are not told their ultimate destination.
Boring, but Practical: Some of the Detour choices can end up being a choice between an exciting, but more skill-intensive, task and this. In the worst-case scenario, the viewers don't get to see the exciting task at all. This was less apparent with earlier seasons when "fear" was a supposed "con" of the more exciting tasks, and the boring tasks were more time-consuming.
Born Lucky: A few teams manage to have extremely lucky streaks, just finding the right cab drivers, or even being bailed out by friendly locals.
Born Unlucky: In contrast, some teams have terrible luck, always finding the worst cab driviers and getting bad information from locals.
Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: When the producers realized teams were no longer intimidated by jumping off things, they started making the teams climb them instead, such as in the US Season 10 premiere, where the teams had to climb the Great Wall of China to get to the Pit Stop on top.
Confession Cam: A variant, as teammates almost always do them together.
Crossdresser: Deliberately invoked. When required to wear an outfit, uniform, or costume, teams are often given the exact same set of clothing, regardless of gender orientation.
Culture Equals Costume: Costumes play a big part of the race; locals hired to run tasks and pit stop greeters will usually be in traditional costumes, and often racers will be put in costume as part of a task. Averted, of course, for everyone else the racers encounter.
Difficulty Spike: The Race intentionally tries to make the tasks start off relatively easy; but they get more and more difficult as the season goes on (Partly because a lot of difficult tasks early-on would be hell on the editors.) However, generally a third of the way through the season there's a notable difficulty spike.
Directionless Driver: Comes up more than you would expect, but there seems to be at least one team per season who would prefer to work off of maps than ever ask for directions from locals.
Drives Like Crazy: Some cab drivers, especially in countries where traffic is prone to be like this in general. In US Season 4, Tian & Jaree's cab driver in India drove on the wrong side of the highway at night with his lights off.
From US Season 17, in Ghana:
Jonathan: Our taxi driver and the taxi driver ahead of us have just invented a third lane.
Asian Drivers: The hectic nature of driving in countries such as India is often alluded to, but the trope is rarely outright stated. The best examples probably came from US Season 10 and Australia Season 2, where teams had to earn their local driver's license. While the US version toed the line with this trope, the Australian version stepped way over it, and teams passed their driver's test no matter how badly they did on their test. Sticky got into a car accident and still managed to pass.
Failing A Taxi: Will happen from time to time, and is always played for drama. Most of the time it happens because teams will be tasked with finding a cab in an area that doesn't have many.
Fatal Family Photo: Generally when a team talks about how much they miss their family back at home, especially early in the race, you can expect them to get eliminated that episode.
Fetch Quest: Get Object A, take to Location B to receive your next clue, return to starting point to retrieve your teammate.
Final Exam Finale: The finale of most seasons includes a puzzle as the final task, usually asking the teams to identify things from the race and put them in order. These items can include flags, locations, Pit Stop greeters, or the order of elimination from the previous legs. Here's an example from US Season 9, involving flags. It's become so notorious that teams take notes on what happens to them during the race in case they end up having to face one, and five times (US Seasons 9, 12, 13, 14, and 21) it has caused a lead change that ultimately decided the outcome of the race.
Follow That Car: Just about every episode of the show has some variant of this trope. The second season finale was even titled "Follow That Plane".
Friendship Moment: The whole point of having teams of two instead of individual racers.
Global Ignorance: It is a travel show, after all, and not all of the contestants have exactly been geniuses.
Graceful Loser: It's actually rare for a losing team not to be graceful in defeat (though the Elimination Station may be a different story), and many teams in the Final 3 are just happy having gotten to run the whole race.
Griefer: Many challenges include locals whose only point seems to be annoying or distracting the contestants on challenges that take a lot of time or concentration.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Clues are hidden this way all the time, though most notoriously in US Season 19, when the clue was a giant flashing sign written in Chinese that many of the teams spotted then disregarded at first.
The Load: It always seems there's one racer who's near-useless on tasks, leaving their partner to do all the work (limits on Roadblocks have been made to discourage this).
There are even times when teams become this. While every team leeches information in some way, there are those teams who constantly follow and copy off all the other teams, seeming never to do any of the work for themselves. Andre & Damon (US 3) and Flight Time & Big Easy (US 15 & 18) have gotten complaints about this by the fans and other teams.
Whether you get a good or bad taxi driver can have a significant impact on how you do in a leg. In earlier seasons, this sometimes factored heavily in the finales. Later seasons have been designed so that performance on the tasks has a better chance to offset an unlucky choice of cabbie.
Mercy Kill: Of the non-lethal variety. When a team gets so far behind that it would be impossible for them to catch up to the other teams, they are given a clue that sends them right to the Pit Stop for their elimination. If they're really stuck (usually trying to complete a task) and can't even get to the next clue, the host will come to them.
Mobstacle Course: Happens in big cities, especially in India. Sometimes used as a task where teams have to find a specific person within the mob.
Mood Motif: An overabundance of them. When they're not using a Regional Riff, it's probably this. The most notable are those used for the first and last place teams coming into the Pit Stop.
Ms. Fanservice: All-female teams, particularly blond ones, often tend to be cast more for their supposed attractiveness over potential racing ability, though teams such as Dustin & Kandice (US 10), Jaime & Cara (US 14), Jess & Lani (Asia 4), Bar & Inna (Israel 2), Sam & Renae (Australia 1), and Jo & Michelle (Australia 2) have demonstrated themselves to be more than just looks.
Mundane Made Awesome: Put a million dollars on the line, and anything can become epic. In US Season 16, they did this with pouring champagne, and it actually worked.
Mythology Gag: Although they don't necessarily point it out, many of the later international editions would either recycle locations and tasks from the US edition, or recycle tasks from each other. Australia Season 1 utilized this the most, as every other leg featured a task or location borrowed from the US or Asian versions.
Needle in a Stack of Needles: The show is quite fond of this trope. One notable example came in US Season 17, where one Road Block had racers using chopsticks to find pieces of fake food hidden in a gigantic table of real food. The catch was that if they picked wrong, they had to eat the food they chose. Naturally, this started becoming a huge problem when a few teams started making several dozen wrong guesses in a row...
No Damage Run: Eighteen teams have made it to the Final 3 without ever being in danger of elimination (that is, finishing in the bottom 2 on any given leg), and eight of them can be considered Flawless Victories, that being Meghan & Cheyne on US Season 15, Kisha & Jen on US Season 18, Ernie & Cindy on US Season 19, Rachel & Dave on US Season 20, Adrian & Collin on Asia Season 2, Shay & Guy on Israel Season 1, Mauricio & Carlos on Latin America Season 2, and Nicolás & Cristóbal on Latin America Season 3. The others are:
Both Rob & Brennan and Frank & Margarita did it on US Season 1, but due to the way the course was set up it was impossible for them to finish below 2nd place after leg 9, and considering the easiest time to lose one's No Damage Run is late in the season like that, there's no telling what would have happened had the other teams been allowed to catch up.
Dustin & Kandice did it on All-Stars, but finished 2nd overall. They are also the only team to pull a No Damage Run where they had to run three legs with only four teams, where a 3rd place finish in any of them could have cost them.
Margie & Luke on US Season 14, they also never finished below 4th at any point during the season, only to finish 3rd when Luke choked on the Final Puzzle.
Perri & Maristela also did it in the Brazilian version, but unlike other teams who made it to the Final 3, they were actually disqualified halfway through the final leg for quitting a task.
Toño & Lili pulled a No Damage Run on Latin America's Season 2, but finished 2nd overall.
Rovilson & Marc pulled one in Season 2 of the Asian version, along with one of the best run games in Amazing Race history, never placing below second and coming 1st in 8 out of 12 legs, but ultimately a struggle in the final Roadblock put them in 3rd place for that season.
Jill & Thomas, US Season 17, also made it to the Final 3 unscathed. They then finished 3rd in the finale when they stuck with a bad cabbie past the point where it became obvious he didn't understand what they were telling him.
Anaelle & Akiva did on Israel Season 2, and were in the lead most of the final leg, but struggled with the final task and ultimately fell to 3rd.
Michelle & Jo from Australia Season 2 managed to reach the Final 3 only falling below 3rd place twice, and had a hour lead over the other teams midway through the final leg, but ultimately finished 3rd when a mid-leg flight allowed the other teams to catch up.
Non Gameplay Elimination: Generally happens at least Once a Season, mostly due to the tight shooting schedule and loads of travel making it impossible to wait around for a single lagging team to finish a leg. Specific examples listed under the regional folders.
Odd Name Out: Take a look at the names of all the tasks and related material: Detour, Roadblock, Yield, Intersection, U-Turn, Speed Bump, Switchback, Express Pass and... Fast Forward? One has to wonder why no one thought of calling it a "Shortcut" instead.
One-Hit Kill: The U-Turn used to function as one in its early seasons, though there were often other factors that contributed to a team's loss than just the time spent on a U-Turn. It has since become much more forgiving on teams as Detour tasks are relatively easy on a U-Turn leg. The US version even introduced the Double U-Turn so that at least one team would survive it.
Path of Most Resistance: Showed up on a lot of early Detours, where one was scary or physically challenging, but fast, while the other was safe, but tedious and time-consuming. Used very frequently on the first four seasons, but not too often anymore, as the longer option was rarely taken.
Pitbull Dates Puppy: Some couple teams come off like this under the stresses of the Race, though most don't tend to act that way in real life.
Previously On: Usually only the finale references more than the previous episode.
The Power of Friendship: One of the main themes behind the race, with "teamwork" being one of the main skills necessary to win the Race that Phil brings up in his pre-Race speech every season. Sure, teams like Zach & Flo (3), Freddy & Kendra (6), and Eric & Danielle (11) have managed to win with less than stellar teamwork, but bickering and in-fighting usually kills a team's chances.
Reality Show Genre Blindness: Actually averted most of the time; the majority of teams in later seasons make it clear that they have seen previous seasons. That said, failure to Read The Freaking Clue properly still happens way more often than it should.
Expect to hear a variation of "We did all that work on the last leg, only to have every team get on the same flight," at least once per season, despite equalizers having been a staple of the race since the beginning.
spots like airports or locations with operating hours, where teams are all evened up equally
or "bunching points"*
spots like train or bus stations, charter buses and planes, or "take a number" tasks where teams are moved closer together or into groups, but not completely leveled out.
usually involving operating hours or transport schedules, so no team gets too far ahead or behind: Logistically, it's easier to keep the crew in a single country at a time and you don't want to tie up locals in assisting/judging tasks for days on end. Dramatically, having wins or losses be a Foregone Conclusion every week isboring.*
And in the American version, during the first season, a few teams got caught too far behind because of factors outside their control, resulting in the race becoming Unwinnable by Mistake
Sadistic Choice: The producers learning how to balance Detours means that instead of choosing between a hard Detour and an easy one, there are now times when teams have to choose between two brutally hard ones.
Satellite Character: Some racers will fall into this, essentially filling out the team for their more interesting and more focused on teammate.
Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: Heavily subverted. A lot of female teams talk about using their looks to their advantage. However, this rarely comes into play, and bringing it up pretty much guarantees a team's elimination down the line.
Sex Sells: The reason women generally have a huge advantage when it comes to selling tasks. It doesn't always play out this way, but men will point it out when a woman blasts by them on a selling task.
The Taxi: The second most common form of transportation (after airplanes), with entire seasons turning on teams getting good or bad cab drivers.
Technology Marches On: Cell phone and smartphone proliferation has had a huge effect on the race metagame. Racers are barred from carrying phones themselves, but it's become increasingly easier to borrow a local's phone to call a cab or Google information about their clue or something.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Not every team finds themselves ultimately getting along, Tara & Wil (US Season 2) being the best example.
Tempting Fate: All the time, mostly on legs when a team in the front of the pack boasts about how good they've been doing, that generally means they're about to struggle for the first time. It's almost expected to happen now.
There Is Only One Bed: Never shown, but frequently talked about, especially when teams spend the night in a remote location.
This Is A Race: Usually used to justify breaking an alliance. Also quite possibly the most quoted non-Phil line in the series.
You can actually see the how this attitude changes in the US version, where, early on, teams who held a competitive attitude over a friendly one were seen as unlikable or villainous by the other teams, and alliances were seen as a necessity by a lot of the teams. The shifting towards a more general competitive attitude was a major plot-line in Season 10, where the teams who valued friendship over the competition were portrayed as inept, while the most competitive team, Dustin & Kandice, were seen by the other teams and portrayed by the editing as the villains, but were wildly popular and are still seen as one of the best teams to ever run the race.
Those Two Guys: Since all teams are pairs, you will end up seeing several of these.
Tomboy and Girly Girl: Several female teams have fallen into this, though sisters Mary & Peach from US Season 2 are probably the best example. This seems to be a bad combination for female teams, as the girly girl tends to lag, forcing the tomboy to carry her weight.
Trailers Always Spoil: Both inverted and played straight, depending on the episode. The safest team on any given leg is usually the one made to look like they were in danger in the trailers at the end of the previous episode, which makes it all the more shocking when they play it absolutely straight.
Travel Montage: Given that traveling is the main premise of the game...
Undesirable Prize: Sometimes when leg prizes aren't trips or money, such as boats or dune buggies, they end up going to a team that has absolutely no use for them. Like when Charla & Mirna won a pair of catamarans on Season 11, and started celebrating before realizing they didn't know what a catamaran was, or when Season 16's Dan & Jordan told Phil they would never use the scooters they had just won.
Averted in Season 18, where Snapple was a sponsor. It appeared the prize was solely to taste two new Snapple flavors, and then Phil revealed they were also getting a feast that night, a private Bollywood-style performance, and a million rupees (or roughly $20,000 cash).
Universal Driver's License: The show takes full advantage of the fact that many people believe this trope to be Truth in Television, making teams operate things like doubledecker buses, armored personnel carriers, and shipyard cargo cranes, as well as extending it to things like dogsleds and donkey carts. Count on at least one shot each season of a team member saying something like, "How hard can it be?" just before they screw up royally.
Unwinnable by Mistake: Season 1, three teams were essentially eliminated on leg nine, as poor course design made it impossible for the two teams who technically did survive to ever catch up to the lead pack. This was fixed in later seasons with the introduction of deliberate equalizers. This has not stopped some fans from complaining about equalizers ruining the game.
Viewers Are Morons: Generally, the audience is told the location of the Pit Stop when the first team receives their final clue. However, when a Fast Forward is taken, viewers are told both after the Fast Forward is won and after the final clue, even if the two events are only a minute or two apart.
We Wait: The producers are famous for subjecting the contestants to a variation of this trope (commonly referred to as "equalizers"). At the beginning of many legs of the Race, the first team to start the leg, no matter how far ahead they are, race to the airport to inevitably find that the first available flight to their destination doesn't leave for hours, well after all the other teams have caught up. Or they race to some local tourist trap that doesn't open until a specific time shown on a sign.
Who Is This Guy Again?: Teams are usually referred to by the names of both contestants. Because of this, viewers have the tendency to forget which team member is which on homogenous teams, especially when they resemble each other (such as US Season 2's Chris & Alex, US Season 7's Brian & Greg, or US Season 10's Tyler & James). Then there's the several pairs of identical twins who have run the Race (Shola & Doyin, US Season 2; Derek & Drew, US Season 3; Kami & Karli, US Season 5; Liz & Marie, US Season 19; Elliot & Andrew, US Season 20, but they also had differing hair styles; Natalie & Nadiya, US Season 21 (it doesn't help that they call each other "Twinny"); Nicolás & Cristóbal, Latin America 3; Frank & Ivar, Norge; Michelle & Jo, Australia 2).
In an attempt to make this easier on the viewers, when next to each other, such as on the mat, or in post-leg interviews, teams sit or stand in the same order as their names will appear on the screen. Meaning the racer whose name is first is always on the viewer's left.
Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: If a racer expresses a phobia at any time, expect them to have to face that phobia before the end of the season. This was much more prevalent in the earlier US seasons, where a lot of contestants were afraid of heights, and they were forced to face them multiple times per season. Later seasons greatly reduce the number of height-related tasks, and teams come in expecting them.
The World Is Just Awesome: Racers tend to react like this when the race brings them in the presence of great natural beauty. Of course, there's also the subversion, usually brought on by bad interactions with locals, where racers declare that foreign cultures suck.
U.S. Version: General Tropes A-M
All There in the Manual: The show hasn't had strict 12-hour Pit Stops since the forced redesign in Season 12, partially in order to better control equalizers, but also to reduce time that the teams sat around at airports and task locations waiting for them to open, they just never mentioned the change on the show. Even before that, not all Pit Stops were exactly 12 hours either, some being 24 or 36 hours long.
The producers stopped letting teams intermingle at the Pit Stops midway through Season 14, which is why teams are shown interacting with each other a Pit Stops before that, but often don't know who was eliminated until everyone shows up at the airport in the next leg after that.
Before Season 19, the single use of a Yield/U-Turn was determined by whether you had your "Courtesy Of" sticker available. Since Season 14 featured a Blind U-Turn which did not require the use of the sticker, Luke has mentioned that he would have been able to use the other U-Turn if he got to it first.
Alpha Bitch: There will be at least one woman who falls into this every season, beauty queens are especially prone to this.
Anti-Climax: Unfortunately, four finales have ended with the winner being very apparent with lots of airtime still left to go:
The Season 1 finale's final fifteen minutes were mostly filler, as the top two teams got on two different trains in the Finish Line, while Joe & Bill were still stuck in Alaska.
Season 17, despite being a very memorable season over all, the last two episodes in general were an anti-climax. Nick & Vicki got pushed so far behind in the penultimate leg due to their penalty for quitting a Detour that their elimination was a Foregone Conclusion. Nat & Kat then so thoroughly dominated the final leg that it was clear they were going to win halfway through the episode, and they didn't see another team past the midpoint of the leg.
Season 19, Ernie & Cindy completely dominated the finale when the other two teams made vital mistakes early in the leg, to the point where they didn't see another team after leaving the first task.
Season 22, Bates & Anthony did not see another team after the Spy Roadblock, which was halfway through the episode.
Brandy (Season 16): How many languages have we butchered? ... My high school French is coming back to me, but it really is getting jumbled in my head with Spanish. Frenglish.
Jaymes (Season 21): Si... 'Si'. Si? What country am I in? [Editor's note: Russia.] Aw, what an idiot I am.
Oftentimes averted when the race brings the racers to a place where one (or more) of them is fluent (or at least competent) in the local language.
Asian and Nerdy: Both played straight and averted, though the most prominent Asian racers (Ronald & Christina from Seasons 12 & 18, Tammy & Victor from Season 14, Kat from Season 17, and Cindy from Season 19) tend to fit this trope.
Back for the Finale: All eliminated teams show up at the Finish Line to cheer on the final three teams, with only two exceptions:
In Season 13, 4th place team Toni & Dallas were absent from the Finish Line, as they had yet to recover their lost passports.
In Season 15, Eric & Lisa were eliminated before even leaving the US, and instead of going to the Elimination Station, they chose to leave the Race, and were therefore were not present at the finale.
Breather Episode: Each of the first four seasons had a non-elimination leg between the final elimination leg and the finale. Since there were no penalties given out to teams saved by the non-elimination, most teams considered this a free leg, and on Season 3, Zach even deliberately threw the second-to-last leg just to appease Flo. The non-elimination leg in the Final 3 returned for Seasons 7 and 9, but with penalties in place for non-eliminated teams, it was no longer a Breather Leg.
Though the penultimate leg in Season 17 was technically an elimination leg, the 4th place team had fallen 9 hours behind due to a penalty from the previous leg preventing them from making a flight. This basically made the leg a Breather Leg for the other 3 teams, who could then treat the leg as a free non-elimination leg.
The "Switchback" tasks has teams repeat notable tasks from previous seasons. While some tasks (such as bungee jumping) are repeated without much fanfare, the "Switchback" reference the famous moments that made these tasks so memorable, and are generally held in the same location as the original task (the exception being the head shaving Fast Forward in Season 20):
Season 15 repeated the infamous hay bale Roadblock from Season 6, though this time it was placed right next to the Pit Stop and they made it a non-elimination leg.
Season 20 repeated the head shaving Fast Forward from Season 7 (Season 5 was not mentioned).
Season 21 repeated the ditch vaulting Roadblock from Season 12 (Jaymes even recognized it as they were driving up).
Season 22 repeated the cheese carrying task from the Season 14 premiere, only this time teams had to do it in the snow. In this case, the episode title itself, "My Cheese Is Out of Control," is a direct Call Back to the Season 14 episode title, "Don't Let A Cheese Hit Me."
The Season 22 finale also repeated the spy Roadblock from Family Edition. Unlike with other Switchbacks, they showed image from the original task, but did not mention what season they were from. Also notable in that it was the first Switchback not to draw from a memorable moment or episode, meaning most fans might not have recognized it as a Switchback had it not been pointed out.
A Season 22 Roadblock had the teams search through a number of surfboards for one that had the picture of a Polynesian priest who had blessed them in the second leg (with the clue only telling them to look for something they had "encountered" on the course). Aside from that, the task was also a simplified version of the Final Exam Finale Puzzle from Season 14.
All-Stars and Unfinished Business both had a number of Call Backs to the teams' original seasons, especially during the team introductions.
On leg 4 of All-Stars, the Roadblock had racers searching through bags of mail for one of two letters written to them by a team from their original race.
Call It Karma: Some racers, especially in Seasons 10-15, seem to think that winning the race is all about racking up more Karma points than your opponents (Some of the fans aren't much better).
Call It Karma teams especially hate the Yield and the U-Turn, and will vilify any team who uses them, regardless of the context. This is despite that, aside from Freddy & Kendra (who both Yielded and were Yielded by Adam & Rebecca on Season 6), only one team has won the race after being Yielded (Eric & Danielle, Season 11), while seven have won after using the Yield or U-Turn (Chip & Kim, Season 5 the Linz Family, Season 8, BJ & Tyler, Season 9, Tammy & Victor, Season 14, Nat & Kat, Season 17, Ernie & Cindy, Season 19, and Bates & Anthony, Season 22).
The Cameo: Season 1's Kevin & Drew appeared briefly at the beginning of Season 8 to give the teams one of their first clues in New York.
Wayne Newton gave the racers their final clue leading them to the finish line in Season 15.
Allan Wu, host of Amazing Race Asia, gave the teams a clue in Season 16, and the finale took a trip to Industrial Light & Magic, complete with an appearance from Darth Vader.
Cerebus Syndrome: Not so much of the show, but the attitude of the teams coming in has definitely shifted towards the darker over the course of the series. In the early seasons, the general attitude was one of a bunch of people taking an epic adventure around the world together, and there just so happened to be a million dollar prize at the end. Teams who played cutthroat were generally despised by the audience and the other teams, and were cut as the villains. Sometime around All-Stars, the general attitude shifted from "playing fair" to "playing to win".
Also contributing to this is the elimination of the "eat, sleep, and mingle" Pit Stops during Season 14, which means teams in later seasons spend a lost less time socializing with each other, and are therefore more willing to play cutthroat.
The biggest example of this shift is from Unfinished Business, where fans got upset about the teams working too much together, and giving each other answers to challenges. In the early seasons, this kind of cooperation was normal.
Color-Coded Characters: By accident (or maybe not), the Final 3 teams on Season 7 all ended up being associated with different color clothing (Uchenna & Joyce: yellow, Rob & Amber: red, Ron & Kelly: light blue). After that, teammates would generally wear same color shirts, if only for the first leg or so. Teams have started referring to each other by the colors of their shirts in the first leg (as teams are not allowed to interact prior to the start of the race), and even calling themselves "The <insert color here> team".
Prior to this, teams were denoted by both numbers on their backpacks and different colored bandannas. However, the numbers were rarely, if ever seen, and the bandannas, when worn, were not always in a noticeable position, and often times were even completely discarded by the teams.
Continuity Nod: The final puzzle on Season 17 had the teams searching for the pictures of the eleven greeters who had met them at the mat at the end of each leg. In amongst the eleven right pictures were dozens of wrong pictures, which were all greeters from previous seasons of the race.
The Season 18 premiere had the teams fly to Sydney, Australia, where the audience was welcomed to Sydney by the Pit Stop greeter from the Race's initial trip to Australia in Season 2. The Establishing Shots for the episode also featured the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, both locations of tasks in Season 2.
In Season 20, when the teams competed in a Japanese Game Show Roadblock, the host for the task was the same person who hosted the Japanese Game Show Roadblock all the way back in Season 15.
Description Cut: The editors love this trope. Done typically when one team says something about the placement of another team that turns out to be completely wrong. A few examples:
Season 1, Episode 3: While walking to the Hotel de Ville, Joe & Bill started talking about how all the other teams would get stuck in traffic or not be able to find it. Cut to almost every single team showing up at the Roadblock before them.
Season 1, Episode 5:
Joe & Bill (reaching the Roadblock and seeing nobody else there): The fatties [Kevin & Drew] got lost.
(cut to Kevin & Drew dancing it up at the Pit Stop oasis)
A slightly different, but still deliciously ironic, one from Season 2, Episode 11:
Wil: [Tara and I] have the best chance of winning, because I got Tara. I got sunshine.
(cut to pouring rain outside)
Season 5, Episode 4:
Mirna: It would be nice to have dinner, we're starving.
(cut to Christie and Nicole breaking down as they try to eat 2 lbs. of caviar)
A similar cut was done with Susan & Patrick (7) on their way to the 4 lbs. of meat Roadblock.
Season 10, Episode 8: The entire episode played out like this, with Rob & Kim and Tyler & James laughing about how Dustin & Kandice had to do the Intersection with one of the Pit Stop, and about how the Fast Forward was going to put them so far ahead, only to have Dustin & Kandice win the leg.
Tyler (at the Fast Forward): No team is going to finish a Detour and a Roadblock ahead of us.
Rob: We're going to be so far ahead.
(cut to Dustin finishing the Roadblock, her and Kandice about to take first place on that leg)
From leg 1 of Unfinished Business:
Kris: Amanda will be good at that, she’s good at word puzzles and things.
*cut to a confused looking Amanda*
Amanda: What? Great, doesn’t make sense.
Development Gag: Kevin & Drew's Cameo on the Family Edition's first leg was a reference to Season 8 originally being considered for an All-Star edition.
Doom Magnet: You would not believe just how many tragedies have happened in places that were just featured on the race:
Season 1: The series premiere, which left from New York City, aired on September 5, 2001. That one probably doesn't need to be explained.
Season 6: The racers traveled through Sri Lanka only months before it was devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Season 8 went through New Orleans a month before Hurricane Katrina hit, which was actually doubly tragic, because the Schroeder family, who were actually from New Orleans, got eliminated there—and then their home was severely damaged a month later (Fortunately, the Rogers family was kind enough to take them in for a while).
Season 14: On the night the second Bangkok leg aired, violent protests broke out in the city.
Season 16 is the race's biggest example: The prize for winning the first leg was a trip to Vancouver, including a skeleton ride at the Whistler Sliding Center. A fairly obvious tie-in with the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games... only one of the Olympic athletes died going down that track on the day of the opening ceremony, mere days before the episode aired. Also, that and the next leg went through Chile - aired a week before it was hit with an 8.8 earthquake. Then, after the fourth leg, one contestant (Louie) was put under investigation under suspicion of being involved in a police run cocaine ring in Rhode Island. The next leg was packed with comments from Louie & Michael talking about how their jobs as cops prepared them for the race. Then, leg 10 features He Pingping, the shortest man in the world, only to have him die between the episode filming and airing.
Season 18: In a less direct example, Phil's hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand was hit by a major earthquake mere hours after the premiere. It then took a more direct turn when the 2011 Japan earthquake hit right after the Tokyo leg aired.
Season 21: The Race finished in New York City, with the episode airing a month after it was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. The Coney Island boardwalk that featured so prominently in the final episode was destroyed.
Down To The Last Play: The Season 2 Finale was decided by a footrace from the cabs to the Finish Line. Wil & Tara made it out of their cabs seconds before Chris & Alex did, but Tara was asthmatic, and the physically fit Chris & Alex ran right past her and won the million dollars.
Several individual legs have been decided by a footrace, with the eliminated team in sight of the mat when the second-to-last team checks in. Season 7 had three legs decided this way, and Season 9 had one of the most intense footraces in Amazing Race history decide the leg in Australia. Season 21's premiere had footraces for both first and last place. Season 22's premiere also came down to this, if only because the last 3 teams all decided to bail on the Roadblock at once, forcing a canoe race to the Pit Stop over leaving their fate to luck.
Driving Stick: There are times when the contestants are given stick shift cars to drive. Often, neither member of a team knows how to drive stick well. Sometimes it's open for debate whether either one can drive a stick-shift at all. Teams have been eliminated from the race over this.
Dumb Blonde: The producers manage to cast at least one ditzy female in most seasons. They are usually, but not always, blonde.
Emmy Bait: Considering they've won the nine of the ten Emmys given out for "Outstanding Reality-Competition Programming", it's obviously worked. More specifically, they often use India legs for this purpose.
Early Installment Weirdness: Season 1 had a couple of features that were changed in later seasons, the most notable being that Phil only showed up at the mat to greet the last team instead of being there to greet every team like he would in every season thereafter. Also, the first episode was edited challenge to challenge, meaning each task was shown to completion before moving onto the next one, making it impossible to tell what order the teams were in, especially since it was the only season not to give team placements over the course of the leg, only showing what position teams were in when they checked into the Pit Stop; the route flags were yellow and white instead of the yellow and red of later seasons (the yellow and white flags would be brought back for Family Edition, and in countries such as Vietnam, that have a yellow and red flag); clue boxes and the Pit Stop mat were not standardized, and changed to reflect each country; and poor course planning resulted in two of the final four teams falling hopelessly behind with no chance of catching up to the two lead teams, something that the producers have taken steps to avoid since then.
The first four seasons as a whole had a lot more exposition than later ones, with teams (and Phil) talking about things like rules (both written and unwritten), money usage, travel, and how each little move affected their placement in the Race. Such exposition was cut out in later seasons as that information was expected to be common knowledge among fans by then. Many episodes in those seasons would also start with shots of the teams interacting at the Pit Stop, and Confession Cams were done solo instead of in pairs.
Originally, penalties were issued at the beginning of the leg following when they were earned (unless the penalty eliminated the team, then Phil would call the penalized team and the last team to check in into a meeting to tell them the new results). However, after Season 4, the rules were changed so that teams could not check in until all earned penalties had been served. (Season 21 briefly reverted to the original version, though, when production had to improvise to deal with a unique situation at the moment.)
Enemy Mine: Sometimes, a team irritates and/or frightens the other teams so thoroughly that they unite together in their mutual hatred/fear of that team. The most prominent examples of this are Colin & Christie in Season 5 and the Weaver family in Season 8; each one had the other remaining teams practically competing to see who would have the privilege of Yielding them. Dustin & Kandice were scary enough that they had this happen to them twice, the second time against experienced racers in All-Stars.
Expy: The producers have definite character types they like to cast, to the point where often times it seems like you've seen half of these teams before:
The most blatant example is probably Season 14's Amanda & Kris, who were pretty much a carbon copy of Season 6 fan favorites Kris & Jon.
The multiracial brother/sister trio of Azaria & Hendekea, Nick & Starr, and Tammy & Victor from Seasons 12-14 (respectively). They were all young, smart (though Nick & Starr were more crafty as compared to the other two's book smarts), below average physically, had communication issues (Azaria & Hendekea and Tammy & Victor with each other, Nick & Starr with other teams), and all had a bit of an ego. They were all even considered the strongest teams on their respective seasons at one point. It also helps that they were the first three brother/sister pairs cast since Season 3.
Seasons 6, 9, and 12 had the parent-child pairs of Gus & Hera, Wanda & Desiree, and Ronald & Christina respectively, each featuring young, intelligent daughters who had to keep their parents' manic behavior in check on top of running the race. While the former two teams faltered due to this dynamic, Ronald & Christina became the most successful parent-child team to date due to Christina's sheer racing prowess, though Ron's lunacy also led them to a relatively early exit in Unfinished Business.
It's hard to keep track of the number of beauty queens paired with a borderline competent boyfriend/husband that have been cast. They all either argue their way through the race (Ron & Kelly, Season 7), bumble their way deep into the race (Brandon & Nicole, Season 5, and Brian & Ericka, Season 15), or both (Brent & Caite, Season 16). They also have a weird tendency to finish 3rd. The only beauty queen/boyfriend pair to avoid this fate were Colin & Christie (Season 5), who were dangerously competent.
Inverted with Ken & Tina (13), where Tina was the domineering one and Ken was the nice guy.
Then there are "fighting couples," in which the girl can give as much nastiness as she takes from the guy, such as Tara & Wil (2) and Nathan & Jennifer (12). The women in these couples tend to be whinier as well.
Following Season 1, the producers attempted to recapture the immense popularity of Kevin & Drew by casting at least one "male friends" team obviously chosen primarily for their sense of humor for several seasons thereafter. The most blatant Expy of them were Season 3's Ken & Gerard who were fairly successful. Season 2's Oswald & Danny (aka Team Cha-Cha-Cha) and Season 4's Jon & Al (aka The Clowns) were even more successful, although the former team might actually have upstaged the actual intended Expy team Gary & Dave (who just came across as "trying too hard to be funny" to many viewers). These teams also had a knack for finishing in fourth place (leading some fans to say that "Fan Favorites Finish Fourth"), with the exception of Ken & Gerard (and even then, they beat it by only one ranking place, and because Derek & Drew suffered a Shocking Elimination). The producers seemed to stop trying to follow this trend after Season 4, however, shifting the focus to couples teams, though there still was Avi & Joe from Season 6, who ended up being one of the most popular first outs.
Then after the immense popularity BJ & Tyler garnered on Season 9, every season thereafter the producers have tried to recreate that success with other quirky, lovable, usually male teams. These teams tend to have a marketable gimmick, and stick out like sore thumbs from the rest of the cast. The editing tends to focus entirely on the team’s personality, ignoring the technical aspects of the race and their interpersonal relationship (that is, unless the relationship is part of their gimmick). So far, Andy & Tommy (19) have been the most blatant Expy (though they were more of a Base Breaker, and many preferred fellow Season 19 team Bill & Cathi). Kynt & Vyxsin (12) and Jet & Cord (16) each achieved their own massive popularity, as well as Flight Time & Big Easy (15) and Mark & Bopper (20) to a lesser extent, while others have been less successful and overshadowed by other teams.
If Season 19's cast looked familiar at first glance, that's probably because it was nearly identical to Season 7's cast. It had the same gender breakdown (2 Female teams, 3 Male, and 6 Male/Female), with 6 couples (the gay couple, the old couple, the black married couple, the couple who met on Survivor All-Stars, the couple in their 30s, and the couple in their 20s), one parent/child team, and a sibling team who looked (if not were) identical.
It went so far that the breakdown of the final three was the same; with a dating couple, an engaged couple, and a black married couple. The final placings differed, however.
Season 9 also attempted to duplicate Season 7's cast (Ray & Yolanda to Uchenna & Joyce, Fran & Barry to Meredith & Gretchen), most blatantly with Danielle & Dani copying Debbie & Bianca's rollerblading in skirts intro. In turn, Season 10 had Tyler & James copy Eric & Jeremy's shirtless basketball intro.
Fake Balance: The first nine seasons favored physically strong teams (the first four seasons especially so). It was exceedingly simple for fit teams to power their way through the race, waiting for fatigue to take out the smarter teams. However, since then the game has tilted more and more towards favoring intelligent teams, as (1) teams have learned that cardio is far more useful than brute strength, and started preparing accordingly, (2) while physical teams can still dominate and string wins together at the beginning of a season, they are put at a huge disadvantage late in the season when the puzzles and mental tasks get harder, while the strength tasks remain relatively the same, and (3) budgetary cuts at the beginning of Season 12 (see Screwed by the Network under the Trivia tab) forced production to shorten the race by two legs and a whole week of filming time. Though the twelfth leg would be added back in Season 14, the actual length of the race has remained around three weeks (as opposed to the month it took for the first eleven seasons), meaning the fatigue the teams are working under in the final leg is much less than it used to be.
That is until Season 20, when things started to balance out so that they no longer so heavily favored the intelligent teams.
Felony Misdemeanor: Both racers and fans are guilty of this one. It's understandable for a team to overreact when they're Yielded or U-Turned (though Eric calling Dustin & Kandice "Dirty Pirate Hookers" was probably going too far), but there are those who are willing to vilify a team simply for copying another team's flight arrangements or, even worse, having a "bad attitude".
Fleeting Demographic: Bertram justified only teams being selected from Seasons 12-17 for Unfinished Business by claiming that people might not remember contestants from earlier ones. Though this hasn't stopped Survivor or Big Brother from recycling contestants repeatedly, unlike those shows, people do not automatically become celebrities for running or even winning the Race.
Foiler Footage: The 4th, 5th, and 6th place teams generally keep racing, even after their elimination, in order to thwart spoilers. This has not always been successful.
Generally, the show doesn't go too far in-depth explaining elements of the route and tasks, so if any suspiciously particular details are brought up, expect them to cause problems along the way. Money for instance is barely mentioned beyond a simple "You have $___ for this leg of the Race" statement at the beginning of the leg with exceptions being Chip running out of money to pay his cab in Season 5 after Kim chastised him for always giving overly large tips and Duke & Lauren running into money troubles in Season 10 after many people were intimidated by the zero-dollar allowance for the leg and started to count their remaining money.
One example of the subtle variety came from leg 2 of All-Stars, where, upon leaving the Detour at the same time as Eric & Danielle, Rob said that even on Eric's best day, he had no chance of beating them.
Mallory, at the end of Season 17, after the winner had already been decided, and all that was left to do was take the final cast picture, gave this line right before the trailer for "Unfinished Business" was shown:
Mallory: I've had some of the best times, I think, that I've ever had with my dad... I just feel so lucky. Can we do it again?
Gender Blender Name: Kris was the name of both a female racer in Season 6 and a male racer in Seasons 14 and 18. To make things even twistier, the latter team (Amanda & Kris) is widely considered to be an Expy of the former team (Kris & Jon).
Genre Savvy: The teams on the Season 14 finale spent their final plane ride reviewing the previous legs to prepare for the Final Exam Boss puzzle that had been used in the previous two seasons. From that point on, taking notes on every leg became a common strategy.
Global Ignorance: Oh, you bet this crops up. Occasionally the producers make a task based on it. Such as in Season 17, when the teams were visiting a school in Ghana and tasked with identifying Ghana on a map. It went about as well as you would expect.
Also in Season 17:
Phil: Nick & Vicki, what's the name of this country?
Vicki: We're in London, right?
Phil: That's right, the country of London.
The Good Guys Always Win: Unlike with other Reality Shows, anyone who gets the villain cut will inevitably lose the Race. Even when an unlikable racer wins, they're paired with someone more likable (Like the Wangsty Flo being paired with Zach on Season 3), and when an unlikable team wins, they beat someone that's supposedly even worse than them (Like Freddy & Kendra beating Jonathan & Victoria in Season 6). Probably the closest thing the show has had to the "villain" winning was in Season 11, when Eric & Danielle beat the supposed villain team of Charla & Mirna (Mirna got the villain cut, but the cousins were still more popular than Eric & Danielle, who were that season's fighting couple).
Good Is Boring: This idea tends to influence a lot of Executive Meddling. For instance, mingling with the other teams at pit stops was stopped midway through Season 14 in an attempt to stir up conflict among the teams whom the producers believed were getting too friendly.
Hollywood Atlas: A lot of the challenges are stereotypical of the current location. (eating caviar in Russia, climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, throwing a boomerang in Australia, selling beer in Germany, etc.)
Hypocrite: Some people with disabilities have gone on the race to say that they wanted to prove that they can compete with everyone else and saying nobody takes them seriously because of their disabilities, only to be using them to get sympathy at airports and from locals.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Season 2 onwards; it's usually a line overheard on that leg of the race. The one exception is Season 8, episode 3, "I Don't Kiss, I Make Out," which was never said during the actual episode.
In-Series Nickname: Some team nicknames become so prominent, that they're used in place of the team's actual names by the other racers. This includes The Guidos (Bill & Joe, Seasons 1 & 11), The Clowns (Jon & Al, Season 4), Mirna & Schmirna (Charla & Mirna, Seasons 5 & 11), The Hippies (BJ & Tyler, Season 9), The Beauty Queens (Dustin & Kandice, Seasons 10 & 11), The Goths (Kynt & Vyxsin, Seasons 12 & 18), Dandrew (Dan & Andrew, Season 13), and The Cowboys (Jet & Cord, Seasons 16 & 18). Two different teams (David & Mary, Seasons 10 & 11, and Mark & Bopper, Season 20) have been called "Kentucky".
Informed Ability: Every season teams talk up their abilities before the race starts, only to fall flat on their faces once they're on the course.
Informed Attribute: Racers will often say things about other racers that don't seem to make sense in the context of the show since not all team interaction can make it into the final cut, though part of this is Manipulative Editing.
Inspirationally Disadvantaged: A favorite form of Stunt Casting for the producers, but they usually overwork this angle, turning each team into a Spotlight-Stealing Squad before the season even starts. Includes a woman with dwarfism (Charla, Seasons 5 & 11), a woman with one leg (Sarah, Season 10), a woman with no legs (Amy, Season 21), a deaf man (Luke, Seasons 14 & 18), and a man with Asperger's syndrome (Zev, Seasons 15 & 18).
Averted in Season 17; Nat is a Type 1 diabetic but the subject rarely came up even though managing it was the hardest part of the race for her. Similarly averted when Luke and Zev returned in Unfinished Business.
In Luke's case, his deafness was hyped to the point of completely overshadowing his sexuality during Season 14, a rarity for this show. This was especially jarring when he referred to Jaime & Cara as his "girlfriends".
Instant-Win Condition: Even though it's not true, teams tend to see the Fast Forward as this (five times a team(s) has won the Fast Forward and failed to finish first; Dennis & Andrew (3) and Mark & Bopper (20) were so far behind when they took it, they still lost the leg). Subverted in Season 1 with Joe & Bill, when, after winning the Fast Forward, they decided to save money and take the bus instead of finding an alternate route to traverse the over 100 miles to the Pit Stop, solely because they thought there was no way the other teams could catch them. The next morning they rolled into the Pit Stop in last place, only to be saved by another team's even worse mistake.
Late Arrival Spoiler: On the cover of almost every season released on DVD, the Final Four teams are shown. Even worse is with the first two seasons released, where the only teams shown on the menus are the teams that are going to be eliminated on that disc.
Limited Wardrobe: Certain teams have become associated with certain garments, such as Linda & Karen's "Bowling Moms" shirts from Season 5.
Certain unfortunate wardrobe choices, amplified by the Limited Wardrobe, can lead to some very "memorable" outfits, such as Teri & Ian's disposable underpants (Season 3), or the Holy Trinity of ugly pants, Kelly's khakis on Season 7, Rachel's skintight gray pants on Season 12, and the multicolored nightmare worn by BJ (or Tyler) after losing all their clothes (and borrowing some from Yolanda) on Season 9.
Loophole Abuse: It was common to see teams such as Rob & Amber (7 & 11) and Charla & Mirna (5 & 11) convince locals to go along with them on legs, helping them navigate past the other teams. Luckily this loophole was closed after All-Stars.
While there have always been rules in place to keep teams from taking each others cars mid-leg, there was never anything in place to keep teams from switching cars at the Pit Stop, until Dustin & Kandice switched their damaged car for another team's in Season 10. This loophole was immediately closed, as Kevin & Drew tore up their tires so badly in Season 11's first leg that they were driving on their rims, but were unable to take John Vito & Jill's car at the beginning of the next leg despite the couple being eliminated.
In the second Double U-Turn during Season 21, the leading three teams going into Amsterdam - all which had a good 3+ hour advantage on the trailing two teams - conspired to use the Double U-turn specifically against the stronger of the trailing teams, Abbie & Ryan (who were also the ones in contention for the $2 million prize); one team used their U-Turn on Abbie & Ryan, while a second team used the U-turn on the team that provided the first U-turn, knowing full well it wouldn't affect them, but specifically to deny Abbie & Ryan from using the U-turn on the other trailing team.
Manipulative Editing: Bill & Joe, (Season 1) have repeatedly said the same thing: The camera does not create footage. If it's on the film, it's because you said or did it. The editing, however, can add, delete, or change the context.
The bottom two teams in any given leg are always made to look as if they're neck and neck, no matter how far apart they really are. The one exception is in the finales, where instead it's the top two teams (or all three, in the cases of Seasons 11 and 14). Seasons 7 and 16 were especially bad, as the top two teams finished 45 and 25 minutes apart (respectively). The only exception to this was Season 1, where it was impossible to do due to the first two teams ending up on separate train rides to the finish line (and the third team still being in Alaska).
Several teams on All-Stars seemed very aware of this, as teams were very cordial towards the beginning of the race (except for teams like Rob & Amber and Dustin & Kandice, who just didn't care, and Mirna, who was so self-righteous she didn't realize how she was coming off). Most teams seemed to forget about this very quickly, however.
Metagame: Traces of it developing can be seen in Seasons 1-7, though it does not come into full effect until Season 10. It had two major effects on the game, first, shifting it from a game dominated by young, fit teams (especially "alpha male" teams) and those with extensive travel experience, to a game dominated by intelligent teams. Second, it gave teams who would have had no shot on early seasons (like Ronald & Christina, who were weak at physical tasks) a legitimate chance to win.
Mood Whiplash: Any time the racers stop to pay tribute to a human tragedy, the sudden return to the frenetic pace of the race is jarring. In more specific examples, Season 6's visit to the Gate of No Return for African slaves was soon followed by Kendra's infamous "breeding and breeding" comments, and a stop at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Season 20 was followed by rubber chickens in a Japanese game show.
Muscles Are Meaningful: At the beginning of each season, it's the biggest and strongest teams that are generally the most feared, and who are usually picked to win by the fans. Though justified in the first four seasons, where physical strength was only challenged by those with travel knowledge, in later seasons it's much more likely for an "Alpha Male" team to eliminate themselves with a stupid mistake than to dominate a season.
Expect multiple teams to be far too worried about who they could or couldn't beat in a footrace, especially when it comes to the finale. This is despite the finale having only come down to a footrace once (Season 2), and almost every Season since 7 having been decided by the final puzzle. Tammy & Victor (Season 14) even U-Turned Kisha & Jen mainly on the reasoning that they couldn't beat the girls in a footrace (and even wrote "Sorry, but we can't beat you in a footrace" on their picture), even though Margie & Luke were the much bigger threat (only Luke pulling one of the biggest choke jobs in race history in the finale keeping them from beating Tammy & Victor).
Derek & Drew serve as an excellent deconstruction of this concept on the Race during Season 3. On the tails of fit male teams winning the first two seasons, many of the teams became immediately obsessed with beating the "wonder twins", despite Derek & Drew viewing themselves as barely hanging on for the first few legs. At the same time, Ken & Gerard talked about how no one was giving them any thought because of their pudgier physiques, and Teri & Ian were outright disregarded as fodder. While Derek & Drew did end up being formidable opponents, so did Ken & Gerard and Teri & Ian, who both edged out Derek & Drew to make it to the Final 3. The twins lost not because they got beat in some head-to-head competition, but simply because they couldn't find a clue.
Season 5 winner Chip was a huge proponent of this trope, especially when writing for the "Return of the Racers" blog for CBS.com. He constantly talked about how "alpha male" teams had a unfair advantage over all other teams, and how he and his wife never would have had a shot against one of these teams (even though they did beat the arguably stronger team of Colin & Christie). When he made a list of the strongest individual racers, the top 11 spots all went to men, with the top female racer being a physical trainer (though this was prior to Dustin & Kandice catching fire on Season 10).
In Season 17, Jill & Thomas actually averted this. Given the chance of U-Turning any team, they targeted diminutive Home Shopping Hosts Brook & Claire, citing them as the biggest threats left (and Brook & Claire did end up beating them in the end). Nick then went and played it straight when he had a chance to use the second slot on the Double U-Turn, wanting to target the team of Chad & Stephanie (who spent most of their time at the back of the pack) over Nat & Kat (who had three leg wins at that point), until Vicki talked him out of using the U-Turn.
Mythology Gag: BJ & Tyler, Season 9, paid tribute to Linda & Karen, the Bowling Moms from Season 5, by recreating their "Bowling Moms" shirts. They also shouted, "We're comin' for ya, Phil," on their way to the Finish Line, which was Ian's Catch Phrase in Season 3. (In response, Linda & Karen wore shirts saying "BJ" and "Tyler" to that season's finale party.)
"We're comin' for ya, Phil," was also used by Zev & Justin in Season 18.
In Season 11, David & Mary wore shirts picturing Erwin & Godwin, aka the Cho Bros, who they allied with in Season 10. They later wore shirt with the word "Lost" and a picture of Phil printed on them, worn by Erwin & Godwin one season previously.
"It's on like Donkey Kong", originally said by Frank near the end of Season 1, has been quoted by several teams over the course of the series, such as Chip on Season 5, B.J. on Season 9, Jen on Season 12, Cara on Season 14, and Cord on Season 16. (Chip's usage of it is probably the most well-known.)
U.S. Version: General Tropes N-Z
Non Gameplay Elimination: One team has chosen to quit the race after being unable to complete a task, two chose to quit due to injury, four have been subject to the "field elimination", where Phil has to come out onto the course when they are unable to reach the Pit Stop, three teams have lost their passports, and many teams have been subject to the "Mercy Kill", in which they're so far behind, they're given a clue that sends them straight to the Pit Stop for elimination.
Obvious Rule Patch: Limits on how many Roadblocks a racer could perform were instigated after Season 5, after the three women who made the Final 3 that year performed a total of three Roadblocks combined.
The first two seasons had no rules in place for when a team's car broke down. These were instigated in Season 3 after several time credits were issued in Season 2 (including one that saved Blake & Paige from an elimination, which they received after Paige threatened to sue).
After Season 3, it became standard on selling tasks, where teams had to reach a certain amount of money made, for each individual item to have a minimum amount it could be sold for. This was after Ken & Gerard completed such a task by selling massive amounts of fruit for what would average out to be very low prices, and repeatedly going back to the stall to get more to sell.
Ties were disallowed after Season 4, to prevent having to give out multiple prizes for 1st place ties, and, more importantly, to keep two teams from accidentally tying for last.
On Season 1, teams were only allowed to buy one set of plane tickets, and weren't allowed to switch, even if they found a faster flight or their original flight was delayed. This was changed on the very next season, and multiple flight bookings has become an important part of the Metagame ever since.
After All-Stars, the practice of bringing locals along in the team's vehicle to help with navigation and other tasks was made against the rules. (See Loophole Abuse)
The original penalty for qutting a Detour was 24 hours (far longer than the 4-hour Roadblock quitting penalty), which had only been applied twice (Nancy & Emily in Season 1, Maria & Tiffany in Season 15). Due to the production complications this would cause if someone quit on a non-elimination leg (since they would still have to keep track of the lagging team despite them being essentially done for - see the mess in Season 21 when James & Abba lost a passport on such a leg), the penalty was shortened to 6 hours after Season 15, which only applied to Nick & Vicki in Season 17.
After the teams on Season 17 were Genre Savvy enough to take detailed notes throughout the race in anticipation of the Final Exam Finale, Season 19's Final Exam Finale instructions specifically forbade the use of notes. (There was no Final Exam Finale in Season 18.) This did have a precedent in Season 12 which disallowed the use of a pen and paper to solve its final task.
When the cheese hill task from Season 14 was brought back for Season 22, they made a rule where teams had to use proper equipment to carry their cheese, fixing the loophole that allowed teams such as Margie & Luke to just role their cheese down the hill and chase after it, rather than carrying it. Chuck & Wynona were eliminated as a result of rolling their cheese.
Other minor changes were made to keep teams from taking advantage of loopholes, such as buying cellphones from locals (which Rob & Brennan did on Season 1) or switching their damaged car for another team's car at the Pit Stop (Dustin & Kandice on Season 10).
Oddly Named Sequel: Seasons 8 ("Family Edition"), 11 ("All-Stars"), and 18 ("Unfinished Business").
One Steve Limit: Averted, as almost every season has at least two racers with the same name.
Season 4 had the team Amanda & Chris, while Seasons 14 & 18 featured the team of Amanda & Kris.
Season 4 also had the team Russell & Cindy, while Season 2 had the team Russell & Cyndi.
Season 4 was particularly bad about this, as it had three Steves, two Jons, and two Davids (although one of them went by Dave).
Season 20 had two different women named Rachel make it to the Final 3.
Overshadowed by Awesome: Guaranteed to happen on any All-Star seasons, as an increase in competition means that teams who led their seasons are all of a sudden running with the pack, while teams that would otherwise be expected to make the Final 3 on a normal season are all of a sudden scratching and clawing to stay in the race. Unless they're a top tier team like Dustin & Kandice and Rob & Amber (on All-Stars), or Zev & Justin (on Unfinished Business), no team really has a chance of standing out. In the latter case, this happened to every former Final 3 finisher, with the aforementioned Zev & Justin who finished 9th and Gary & Mallory who finished 6th being the dominant teams.
Paranoia Fuel: Not for the viewers, but the racers. It's well known how quickly fortunes can turn on the Race, and not knowing where the other teams are, especially on the later legs when there's only four or five teams left, can cause some pretty entertaining freak outs. Rob & Amber and Dustin & Kandice were two of the more popular teams for others to focus their paranoia on.
This was intentionally invoked by the producers in the first leg of Season 10 with the surprise elimination of Bilal & Sa'eed at the Meridian Gate which would otherwise be a normal conditional bunching point, threatening the other racers to stay aware of what other twists might be prepared for them later on.
A completely different type of Paranoia Fuel came up during All-Stars after visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp. Uchenna & Joyce were so haunted by what they saw that Uchenna made the ambiguous comment about how humanity is one day going to "get it", hopefully before we destroy each other, with Joyce adding the just-as-ambiguous "It's definitely going to happen one day".
The Piano Player: Several have been the focus of race tasks, with special mention to Season 17 having a room full of Russian pianists repeatedly hammering out iconic classical pieces while the racers constantly freaked out trying to identify them.
Most seasons have a leg that feature the Travelocity roaming gnome, starting with Season 7. Even discounting that, one of Phil's Once an Episode lines is "For winning this leg of the race, you have won a trip to beautiful [place] from Travelocity."
Kodak EasyShare cameras were the leg prize four times, and were used in a challenge, in Season 3.
In general, seasons often have Ford loan cars for a leg for the contestants to drive, in exchange for the show going out of its way to point out that the cars were made by Ford (usually once near the beginning when they get to the cars, and again at the Pit Stop) and usually including a challenge designed to show off some aspect of the car model being used.
Leg 7 of Season 16 had a "7" theme, including a sponsored prize by 7-Up at the end of the leg.
Season 18 included a leg in India with a lot of tea-themed tasks, sponsored by Snapple. In a subversion, they resisted the urge to plug Snapple at every opportunity and didn't even explain that the teas used were Snapple-brand until the finish line. Zig-zagged when one clue was a bottle of iced tea, as the bottles were unlabeled but the racers still recognized them; Jen and Kisha even thought they had to find a Snapple factory until they found the real clue under the cap.
Leg 10 of Season 19 had teams drive to the Ford Proving Grounds in Belgium where they had to drive Mustangs. The prize for winning the leg was a Mustang for each team member. Oddly enough, the next leg had a task based on the comic Tintin and aired at about the time a movie adaptation hit theaters, but no reference was made to the movie at all; Tintin was presented as merely a Belgian cultural icon.
Reality Show Genre Blindness: Phil has two variations on the Catch Phrase he uses to greet teams at the Pit Stop. He normally uses, "You are team number n," to check the teams in. However, he sometimes uses the far more ominous, "You are the nth team to arrive," which always proceeds either a penalty or another clue, yet teams are always caught off guard when Phil follows it up with, "However..."
Rule of Funny: Almost any time they make the racers dress in costume. There's no special need for it, it's usually not for safety, and it's just there to make the racers look ridiculous.
Several challenges have a band playing local music, for no apparent purpose except driving the racers completely nuts as their patience wears thin and the music keeps distracting them.
Then there are the non-musical locals whose only purpose is to laugh at the teams when they mess up.
In Switzerland during Seasons 14 and 22, the racers had to take 200-pound wheels of cheese down a very steep hill... and were intentionally provided with very cheap equipment.
Running Gag: At least Once a Season the show has legs where teams are given $1 for the leg, and it always manages to get laughs from the teams. Multiple teams have even given Phil the dollar back when getting eliminated at the end of these legs, and Flight Time & Big Easy carried their dollar throughout Unfinished Business so they could give it back to Phil at the Finish Line.
Sequel Difficulty Drop/Spike: The courses have gotten gradually tougher as the producers have gotten better and better at making courses, however some do stick out from the norm as being particularly tough or easy:
The tasks on Season 5 were not particularly harder than what came before, but a few permanent additions upped the overall difficulty of the series from that point out. The addition of penalties for teams saved by a non-elimination leg made it even more costly to finish last at any point, and the subtraction of the Fast Forward took away each team's one free pass per season.
Season 6 was the hardest of the single digit seasons, with a number of tough challenges, including the infamous Hay Bale Roadblock (in which the odds of finding a clue were Seven percent. 20/270), the Spicy Soup challenge (which caused nearly every racer to throw up, one even in their bowl), and the row of locks racers were forced to try and unlock on the penultimate leg (which caused one team to quit and take a penalty, and almost did it to another team as well). Plus, with an overabundance of equalizers, it was nearly impossible for a team to get an advantage through their travel knowledge. It also introduced limits on Roadblocks for each team member, making it harder for a strong racer to carry a much weaker teammate through the season.
Season 8 was just a giant loop around North America, and included challenges that could easily be completed by a child early on, though the difficulty did ramp up later on.
Season 10 was, by far, the hardest course they put together at that point, setting a new standard for course difficulty that would not be topped until Unfinished Business. Teams faced challenges on the first few legs that were not usually faced until midway through the season. This was also the first season teams were sent west to Asia to start the race, where communication with locals is generally the hardest, instead of east (Europe) or south (South America), and the first where there were rules against begging for money, taking away what had been a major Game Breaker for the last seven seasons.
Season 11 had almost no tough physical challenges, and the mental challenges would have been easy for first time racers, let alone All-Stars. It was the biggest complaint fans had about the first All-Star season.
Season 15 again had the fans complaining about how easy the course was (even with them bringing back the Hay Bale Roadblock).
Season 18 not only featured an increase in the difficulty of the tasks that was missing in the first All-Star season, but they took out any learning curve, hitting the teams with difficult tasks right from the start, issued an automatic U-Turn for the team who finished last on the first task, created combination tasks (by taking what would normally be two separate tasks and making the teams do them either simultaneously, or as part of the same Roadblock), replaced two non-elimination legs with back-to-back Super Legs, and had no (shown) Fast Forward. This season also began the trend of hitting each team member with their own Roadblock in the final leg (or at least forcing teammates to trade off tasks, in the case of Season 19).
Season 19, not so much with the challenges, but the clues, as they seemed to have been specifically designed to exploit teams who forget to Read The Freaking Clue, changed small things to throw off expectations of teams who knew the metagame, and exploited teams' tendencies to miss obvious things.
Sequence Breaking: Either by pure chance or by following another team, teams can skip clues, or even entire challenges, yet still find their way to the Pit Stop. Subverted when Phil forces them to turn around and complete the task/retrieve the clue that they missed.
Season 1, leg 2, Dave & Margaretta remain the only team to ever complete a leg without properly completing a task without using an Express Pass or being forced to go back and complete it. At the Eiffel Tower, they missed the clue at the bottom, both walked up to where the other teams were, got the answer to the Roadblock from Paul, walked back down, opened the clue, and went to the Pit Stop without one of them going back up to complete the Roadblock. Instead of being forced to go back, they instead received a penalty. (They also failed to complete the Detour correctly in the first leg, but it was never mentioned in the show.)
In Season 1, leg 5, Paul & Amie got lost looking for the Roadblock and came across the Pit Stop by mistake. They were already in last, so were eliminated instead of being sent back to complete the leg.
In Season 3's final elimination leg Derek & Drew missed the Roadblock clue, and instead boarded the ferry that took them to the Pit Stop. In the time it took them to go back and complete the Roadblock they were eliminated.
In the first leg of Season 5 both Chip & Kim and Kami & Karli missed the Detour clue, stumbling across one of the Detour choices by chance. In the time it took them to retrieve the clue they fell from 1st and 2nd to 8th and 9th place.
In Season 7, leg 7, Gretchen & Meredith missed the clue at the end of the Roadblock, and followed the road to the Pit Stop. They fell from 4th to 5th when sent back for the clue.
In Season 9, leg 4, Lake & Michelle mistakenly ran to the Pit Stop instead of the Roadblock location. The lost time, but not position due to this error.
In Season 11, leg 3, Dustin & Kandice spotted the path to one of the Detours without ever finding the clue that was supposed to point them to said path. Though being sent back to get the clue cost them several minutes, they did not fall any spots because some other teams saw them going back to get the clue, and promptly followed them the wrong way.
In Season 13, leg 10, Ken & Tina missed the clue to the Pit Stop at the end of the Detour, having arrived there by following Dan & Andrew. Though they had to go find the clue before checking in, Toni & Dallas were so far behind that they had plenty of time to retrieve it.
In Season 16, Brent & Caite did it twice, first by missing the clue at the U-Turn on leg 6 (this did not effect their placement), then again on leg 8 when they followed Brandy & Carol to the Pit Stop without ever completing the Detour.
In the Season 20 finale Rachel & Dave's driver took them to the wrong location, ending up at the Finish Line instead of the final Roadblock. They still managed to win, however, as Art struggled so badly at the Roadblock that Rachel was able to catch and pass him up.
In the Season 21 premiere, Jaymes & James followed Caitlin & Brittany to the Pit Stop without finding the final clue. When they went to find it, they dropped from 4th to 10th.
Shocking Elimination: This is somewhat offset by leg performance generally not being cumulative and thus only a few mistakes can quickly drop a team to last place. Nonetheless:
In Season 11, Rob & Amber came in first place on the first three legs, only to be eliminated on the fourth leg after one of the worst streaks of horrible luck and bad decisions in Race history.
Derek & Drew (Season 3) and Dustin & Kandice (Season 10) were both favorites to win their respective seasons, only to get lost looking for a task (a Roadblock for Derek & Drew, a Detour for Dustin & Kandice), and wind up finishing fourth.
Peter & Sarah (10) had finished in the top 3 in 4 of the first 5 legs (and won 2 legs), but were eliminated in leg 6 after screwing up the navigation so badly that they were sent to the Pit Stop without even completing the Detour. At one point they even spotted a Race arrow, only to discover it led to the Fast Forward, which unfortunately for them had already been taken.
Azaria & Hendekea, Season 12, won three of the first four legs, but had airport trouble on the sixth leg, resulting in their elimination.
Toni & Dallas from Season 13, who seemed a lock for the Final 3 until Dallas made the fatal mistake of leaving their fanny pack, containing all their money and passports, in a taxi.
Zev & Justin, in Season 15, also lost a passport (on a leg they would have otherwise won), but their elimination was not quite as shocking due to the combination of CBS playing up the lost passport in promos (which in itself is none too damning as the Race has a history of Pseudo Crisis in promos), and getting a fairly-obvious A Death in the Limelight episode. Their elimination in Season 18 also would have been shocking, had it not also been spoiled by a promo.
Andy & Tommy (19) came in first on 6 legs, and were looking like they were going to get a 7th in the second to last leg. However, due to nothing more than bad luck they ended up falling just short of the final 3 (only Jeremy & Sandy got the clue right, and their cab driver shared info with the drivers of the two teams by them; Andy & Tommy weren't with the pack and so missed out).
Season 21 had the elimination of Amy & Daniel, who nearly won the first leg, only coming in second due to Amy telling a team where the clue was, then being passed up in a footrace to the Pit Stop. The next leg, however, their taxi driver got lost looking for the shop where their next clue was, dropping them from second to last place and eliminating them.
Later on was the elimination of Abbie & Ryan. They won 2 of the first 6 legs and had three 2nd place finishes, but fell hours behind during legs 7-9 due to missing two different connecting flights in Frankfurt. They were eventually U-Turned into elimination in leg 9, when Natalie & Nadiya, Trey & Lexi, and Jaymes & James collaborated to waste the second U-Turn slot, preventing them from saving themselves by U-Turning Josh & Brent.
Jessica & John in Season 22, who finished in the top 3 in the first three legs, only to struggle with both the Detour and the Roadblock in leg 4, and were eliminated despite still holding the Express Pass,
There's actually a trend of early frontrunners being eliminated in 8th or 9th place. Starting with Season 2, there's Shola & Doyin (2), Heather & Eve (3), Steve & Josh (4), Bob & Joyce (5), Lena & Kristy (6), Debbie & Bianca (7), the Schroeder Family (8, though they technically finished 7th, the Family Edition only had 10 teams), Wanda & Desiree (9), Duke & Lauren (10), Rob & Amber (11), Lorena & Jason (12), Mark & Bill (13), Amanda & Kris (14), Zev & Justin (15), Monique & Shawne (16), Joe & Heidi (16), Connor & Jonathan (17), Katie & Rachel (17), Margie & Luke (18), Amy & Daniel (21, though they finished 10th) and Jessica & John (22).
Shoo Out the Clowns: The lighthearted, easy going, and comedic relief teams generally tend to trail off near the end of each season, when things get more competitive and they find it harder to keep up with the more cutthroat teams. three such teams have managed to win the race (Chip & Kim from Season 5, BJ & Tyler from Season 9, and Josh & Brent from Season 21), but only after they had an elimination scare and got serious. Other such teams are:
Jon & Al (4th place on Season 4) are probably the most fitting, seeing as they were actual clowns.
Danny & Oswald finished 4th on both Seasons 2 and 11, winning three legs on both Seasons.
Wisecracking Zev & Justin fell just short of the Final 3 on Unfinished Business.
Andy & Tommy finished 4th on Season 19, becoming the first team with at least five leg wins to miss the Final 3.
Ken & Gerard (3), Nicolas & Donald (12), and Dan & Andrew (13) all made the Final 3, only to finish a distant third.
There's the "Fan Favorites Finish Fourth" trend, which (aside from the above) includes Kevin & Drew (1), Linda & Karen (5), Gretchen & Meredith (7), and Flight Time & Big Easy (15).
Starting with Season 7, 5th place became the axing point for such teams with Lynn & Alex (7), the dysfunctional Paolo Family (8), Fran & Barry (9), Erwin & Godwin (10), Uchenna & Joyce (who on All-Stars did not seem to have the same drive after winning Season 7), Kynt & Vyxsin (12 and Unfinished Business), Mark & Bopper (20), and Meghan & Joey (22) going out.
Sibling Team: "Siblings" is one of the most common team relationships.
Brother-Sister Team: Teams with this version include Blake & Paige (2), Tramel & Talicia (3), Azaria & Hendekea (12), Nick & Starr (13), Tammy & Victor (14), and Justin & Jennifer (19).
Signature Line: Colin's "My ox is broken! This is bull***!" from Season 5. My Ox Is Broken even became the name of a tie-in anthology book.
Spoiler Opening: Early seasons included the phrases "Who will be eliminated... tonight?" and "The last team to the Pit Stop will be eliminated," and any deviation was an instant tip-off that it was a non-elimination leg. Production quickly made it standard procedure to use ambiguous language ("Who will be eliminated... next?" and "The last team to the Pit Stop may be eliminated."). Even the teams picked up on this, and it was pointed out by Tara & Wil in Season 2.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Before Unfinished Business even aired, Season 14 became a Spotlight Stealing Season, taking 5 of the 11 cast spots (plus first alternate Steve & Linda, who finished 10th originally), leaving only six cast spots for the other five seasons, including zero representatives from Season 13, and only a 6th place team from Season 17 (though the two best candidates from Season 17, Nat & Kat won the race, disqualifying them for Unfinished Business, and Claire got pregnant). Bertram Van Munster called 14 a "very unique season" in order to justify this overcasting. Ironically, 4 of the 5 teams cast from that season were eliminated in the bottom 4 places, Amanda & Kris were halted by a U-Turn again, Mel & Mike were forced out of the running due to medical concerns, Jaime & Cara were foiled by a Roadblock in China, and Margie & Luke suffered an extremely shocking elimination when Luke choked on the Roadblock in India. But then Kisha & Jen turned around and won the whole thing, so... (Then again, were we complaining?)
Storming the Castle: Literally in Seasons 7 and 17, while in Season 12 it was more of a cliffside fortress. Other seasons have involved castles, including Bran Castle, but these were the only three that involved scaling the walls.
Stunt Casting: It's been going on since at least Season 5, though some of the more notable examples are:
SurvivorSuper Couple Rob & Amber in Season 7. In this case, at least, it worked, as Season 7 remains the highest-rated season and brought in a new wave of viewers who stuck with the show. Of course, their Survivor fame helped them on the course of the race. The roadblock on one leg required navigating a bustling, maze-like South African marketplace to purchase several specific items. Amber was struggling with the task when a bystander recognized her from the show and volunteered to guide her, allowing her to complete the Roadblock in a matter of minutes.
Mike White, who wrote and played Ned Schneebly in School of Rock, in Season 14.
Harlem Globetrotters "Flight Time" & "Big Easy" in Season 15.
Professional poker players Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle, also in Season 15. Tiffany was recognized at the airport in Tokyo.
Big Brother 11 players Jeff & Jordan in Season 16.
I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our children.
Survivor couple Ethan Zohn from Survivor: Africa and All-Stars and Jenna Morasco from Survivor: The Amazon and All-Stars on Season 19.
Season 19 also had a few athletes in former Indianapolis Colts tight end Marcus Pollard and Olympic snowboarder Andy Finch. As well as Zac Sunderland, the first person under the age of 18 to sail around the world.
Big Brother 12 & 13 players Brendon & Rachel on Season 20.
Season 21 had Josh Kilmer-Purcell & Brent Rdige, stars of the reality show The Fabulous Beekman Boys, Chippendale performers Jaymes Vaughan (known for having released the dance song "Vampire") and James Davis (frontman for Vegas metal band My Name Engraved), and James LoMenzo, metal bassist from White Lion, Megadeth, and other bands.
Season 22 has former NHL player Bates Battaglia with his brother Anthony who currently plays in the minor leagues, You Tubers Joey Graceffa and Meghan "Strawburry17" Camarena, and country singers Caroline Cutbirth and Jennifer Kuhle of the Stealing Angels. Cutbirth is also said to be a direct descendent of Daniel Boone while Kuhle is the granddaughter of John Wayne.
Strangely averted with former Playmate Victoria Fuller (Season 6), who you never would have known was a Playmate from watching the actual show. Same with aspiring Playmate Jennifer Hopka (Season 14). In fact, the only mention Playboy had ever gotten on the show was when Season 12 departed from the Playboy Mansion.
Jaime Faith Edmondson was also a Playmate, but only became one between Seasons 14 and 18.
Team Mom/Team Dad: Older teams sometimes become regarded as such by the other racers. Bill & Cathi were even nicknamed "Ma and Pa" in Season 19.
Theme Twin Naming: Played with in several seasons. Played straight with Derek & Drew (Season 3), Kami & Karli (Season 5), and Natalie & Nadiya (Season 21), but averted with Shola & Doyin (Season 2), Liz & Marie (Season 19), Elliot & Andrew (Season 20), and Idries & Jamil (Season 22). Also applies to some non-twin teams, like Danielle & Dani (Season 9), Nat & Kat (Season 17), Misa & Maiya (Season 20), and James & Jaymes (Season 21).
"Follow That Plane!" (Wil, Season 2, Episode 11); After losing their clue, Tara & Wil direct their charter plane to follow Chris & Alex by using this line. Later in the leg, Chris & Alex tail Tara & Wil to the Finish Line, and pass them up in a footrace.
"Good Doing Business With You" (Dustin, Season 11, Episode 10); Dustin & Kandice buy Danny & Oswald's Yield (the last Yield ever used). Danny & Oswald later act like it was a Deal with the Devil, and seem to lose any and all heart to win the race.
"It Starts With an “F”, That’s All I’m Saying" (Dan, Season 15, Episode 10); the infamous "Franz" incident, where Dan refuses to help Big Easy at the Roadblock, and Big Easy ends up taking a four hour penalty instead.
"They Don't Call It The Amazing Race For Nothin!" (Brook, Season 17, Episode 1); counts as both a regular Title Drop, as well as providing the title for that episode.
"Tastes Like a Million Dollars" (Kat, Season 17, Episode 5); vegetarian Kat eats half of a sheep's head to win the Fast Forward, and it took on a whole lot more meaning after the finale.
Token Minority: A handful of teams every season, with Season 10 being the one exception, as 8 of the 12 teams could be considered a minority in one way or another.
Inverted in Seasons 13-15, as the obvious favorite won when the underdog team(s) choked away their lead on the final puzzle, only to return to playing it straight on Season 16.
They tried to play it straight again on Season 17, by attempting to make Jill & Thomas look like the heavy favorites going into the final leg. However, the general view at that point tended to be that all the teams were pretty much even, and they all had a good chance at winning.
Visible Boom Mic: The show is usually very careful about editing the show to hide any trace of the camera and sound team following along with each team of Racers, but sometimes they get caught in shots anyway.
In Season 4, leg 2, the teams are packed into a crowded alley, and it became all but impossible for the cameramen to avoid each other.
In Season 5, leg 8, after Colin changes the spare tire on his cab, the sound guy can be seen getting back into the cab with them.
The infamous scene in Season 6 where Jonathan shoved his wife Victoria in a fit of rage at a Pit Stop showed a cameraman in the frame.
In Season 7, leg 2, Brian & Greg's cameraman got caught on camera during their race to the Pit Stop with Megan & Heidi. Then when Brian & Greg flipped their car, all pretense got dropped as both Brian & Greg and Lynn & Alex's camera crews got each other on camera.
In Season 8, leg 1, during Phil's opening speech, an extra person can be seen standing off to the side near the line of teams.
In Season 14, leg 6, during Jaime's rant at her cab driver in the streets of Jaipur, a second cameraman can be seen running ahead of them.
At Season 19's 8th Pit Stop, a fan can be seen taking pictures of teams running up to the mat.
In Season 20, leg 7, during the fight between Brendon & Rachel and Art & JJ and Vanessa & Ralph at the Nairobi airport, shots of various cameramen can be seen as they angle to get shots of everyone's faces.
In Season 21, leg 1, an overhead shot of the in-progress starting line challenge showed multiple cameramen scurrying around on the bridge. In leg 4, when Trey & Lexi's cab was passing Gary & Will's, you can see Gary & Will's camera and sound guys through the open windows. In leg 7, sound men can be seen as Jaymes & James and Natalie & Nadiya are at the pool Detour. In leg 9, the cameraman can be seen as Natalie & Nadiya do the Fast Forward. The finale (legs 11 and 12) included at least a dozen of these.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Used on the racers themselves in Seasons 7, 8, 9, 14, 18, 19, and 22. The teams get a clue telling them to go to mat and find Phil, only to have him tell them that they're still racing, and hand them their next clue.
U.S. Version: Season-Specific Tropes
108: The infamous Fast Forward that indirectly cost both Bill & Joe and Nancy & Emily the race involved dropping 108 coins into urns in a Buddhist temple.
Spoiler Opening: Season 1's opening titles showed actual locations teams would be going to and tasks they would be doing, making it quite easy to work out whether certain teams were going to make it through to the next leg of the race. It was not until Season 14 that they started to show shots from the season during the credits again, and then they were only ever shots from the current or previous episodes.
Shopping Montage: There was one of these, with several teams involved, and was used to set up the flirtation between Alex and Tara, as well as the cliquish nature of the teams. This was obviously before teams learned the importance of money management. In the next leg, Oswald & Danny, while waiting for a booking agency to secure them flights, took time off to shop, refreshing themselves and distancing themselves from the more cutthroat teams. The net result? They got the first flight out, drove in luxury to the airport, and came in an easy first on that leg. And most importantly Danny got that perfume he wanted.
Shark Tunnel: Leg 11 had racers wait in one of these while their teammate did a Roadblock in the surrounding tank.
Binocular Shot: In Episode 12, the racers had to identify the Philippines flag through binoculars. At one point, Brandon looked through the binoculars with the lens cover still on one side, and a single circular frame, offset to one side of the screen, was shown.
Everything's Better with Chocolate: Subverted, where a Roadblock forced teams to bite through 11,000 chocolates looking for one with a white center (of which there were only 20). The racers quickly got tired of the chocolate overload.
Book Ends: The season began and ended at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: The Roadblock in Bangkok had teams preparing a feast for sacred monkeys. The monkeys kept interrupting the task by dashing in and grabbing the food, forcing racers to keep fixing their work.
Arrows on Fire: The second leg Roadblock involved shooting flaming arrows to light a target on fire.
Chariot Race: The Roadblock in Morocco featured one of these.
Five-Token Band: The Back Pack, which consisted of Lyn & Karlyn (black single moms from Alabama), Erwin & Godwin (Asian brothers, one of whom went to Harvard), David & Mary (a coal miner and his wife from Kentucky), Tom & Terry (boyfriends), and Kellie & Jamie (college cheerleaders).
Paranoia Fuel: This was intentionally invoked by the producers in the first leg with the surprise elimination of Bilal & Sa'eed at the Meridian Gate which would otherwise be a normal conditional bunching point, threatening the other racers to stay aware of what other twists might be prepared for them later on.
Produce Pelting: One Detour late had the locals pelting racers with tomatoes as part of La Tomatina, the local tomato festival.
A Storm Is Coming: Used in leg 3, when it started storming in the middle of the leg, when two of the teams were still trying to milk their camels at the Roadblock.
Two Men, One Dress: The cow costumes teams were forced to don. They then had to run all around Almaty, Kazakhstan wearing them.
Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: A task in the premiere episode had teams carry large wheels of cheese down a steep hill. Though it did not look too difficult on the surface, poor balance and the cheese carriers breaking under the slightest provocation led it to being one of the most memorable tasks in race history - so memorable, in fact, that it made a repeat appearance in Season 22, where Phil called it the most memorable task in Race history.
Genre Savvy: The teams on the finale spent their final plane ride reviewing the previous legs to prepare for the Final Exam Boss puzzle that had been used in the previous two seasons. From that point on, taking notes on every leg became a common strategy.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In leg 8, one Detour choice had teams sing karaoke in a party taxi, each accompanied by a pair of transvestites.
Rule Of Cool: The premiere had the teams bungee jumping off of the dam from the beginning of GoldenEye. As it was the only task in that part of Switzerland, sandwiched between two train rides, the Roadblock was there simply to allow the racers to emulate James Bond.
Out-of-Genre Experience: The Japanese Game Show Roadblock in the premiere, including the sound effects and graphics to go along with them.
Viva Las Vegas: The finale took place in Vegas. It involved traveling from casino to casino, an Elvis impersonator in a wedding chapel, a visit to Cirque de Soleil, Wayne Newton, and counting out a million dollars in poker chips. The season also featured Maria & Tiffany, a pair of professional poker players (however, they were eliminated before the finale).
If You Can Read This: The final challenge required the teams to place psychedelic posters of the eliminated teams in the order of their elimination. They also had to place three posters representing the three non-elimination legs. These posters featured host Phil Keoghan's complete Opening Narration that was played along with the show's opening theme in Season 1.
Bears Are Bad News: Season 17 had two fake bears, one on a dogsled course, one in a circus.
Camera Abuse: During the Gorodki Roadblock, there were cameras set up behind the pin formations, which would repeatedly be knocked over by the teams' bats.
Episode 3: Almost every single team who chose the option of decoding phrases into symbols for the Detour couldn't find the decoder key located on a wall just around the corner from where they were (the sole exception being Connor & Jonathan, who completed it before the others showed up). All of them ultimately opted for the second Detour option, and the cameras kept on showing them running right past the decoder key - if they had just glanced behind them, they would have seen it.
Episode 7: Every single team had trouble spotting a colorful figurine of a building in an otherwise drab colored tower they were scanning the skyline from. In fairness, the figurine was placed behind the racers, in the exact opposite direction of the skyline.
Global Ignorance: The teams were visiting a school in Ghana and tasked with identifying Ghana on a map. It went about as well as you would expect.
Language Barrier: Exploited in the finale. Even though the teams were back in the U.S., none of the idling cabs waiting outside the Rose Bowl (the ones set up by production to be waiting for the teams) had drivers who even remotely spoke good English.
The Piano Player: In one challenge, there was a room full of Russian pianists repeatedly hammering out iconic classical pieces while the racers constantly freaked out trying to identify them.
My Greatest Second Chance: Season 18 was painted as this, being called "Unfinished Business" and all. Of course, for the teams returning, this also led to...
My Greatest Failure: This was emphasized for nine of the eleven teams returning for Unfinished Business. Only Jaime & Cara (14) and Amanda & Kris (14) were exempt, as the former finished 2nd without any obvious mistakes, and the later was U-Turned out of the Race. Those mistakes were:
Kynt & Vyxsin (12) having stick shift problems in Italy. However, no mention was made of their ultimate elimination after U-Turning a team that was in front of them until much later.
Christina (12) panicking and falling apart on the Final Puzzle.
Mel & Mike (14) sticking with a bad cab in Phuket.
Luke choking on the final surf board in Season 14's Final Puzzle after having 8 of the 11 surf boards placed by the time the other teams got there.
Zev & Justin losing a passport on Season 15's fourth leg.
Big Easy (15) being unable to unscramble the word "Franz," even with the "F" spotted to him, and taking a game ending penalty instead.
Jet & Cord (16) standing by as Dan & Jordan cut in line at the Shanghai airport in the finale, and allowing it to affect their game afterwards (see Failed a Spot Check above).
Gary & Mallory (17) getting lost for nine hours in Oman.
Never Trust a Trailer: The promo for "Unfinished Business" shown at the end of Season 17 prominently featured a large number of teams, more than could be in a single season, and led to a number of false cast lists popping up on various sites.
Schmuck Bait: The Austria Detour in Unfinished Business was a choice between "Long Hard Walk" or "Quick and Easy Meal". Three teams took the bait, a task which was nearly impossible to complete since it required both teams to finish a meal full of meat within a strict time limit. On top of that, failure essentially meant you had to do the other option since it's not like you can eat any more the second time.
Shark Tunnel: The premiere had racers wait in one of these while their teammate did a Roadblock in the surrounding tank.
Trailers Always Spoil: The final episode was a two-hour finale with two legs - the last elimination leg and then the final leg of the race. One of the trailers CBS aired for the finale, however, showed all of the teams but one in the final destination city, leading a number of viewers to guess (correctly), that the team in question was eliminated in the penultimate leg.
Undesirable Prize: Subverted, where Snapple was a sponsor. It appeared the prize was solely to taste two new Snapple flavors, and then Phil revealed they were also getting a feast that night, a private Bollywood-style performance, and a million rupees (or roughly $20,000 cash).
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Though different from the usual kind. The show normally ignores stuff surrounding the production, but Season 19's premiere showed how spoiler hounds tracking racers' progress on Twitter helped Kaylani & Lisa recover their lost passport, preventing their automatic elimination.
Expy: If Season 19's cast looked familiar at first glance, that's probably because it was nearly identical to Season 7's cast. It had the same gender breakdown (2 Female teams, 3 Male, and 6 Male/Female), with 6 couples (the gay couple, the old couple, the black married couple, the couple who met on Survivor All-Stars, the couple in their 30s, and the couple in their 20s), one parent/child team, and a sibling team who looked (if not were) identical. It went so far that the breakdown of the final three was the same; with a dating couple, an engaged couple, and a black married couple. The final placings differed, however.
Failed a Spot Check: Exploited in Episode 2, when one task included a sign of additional directions that weren't in the clue. Eight of the eleven teams missed it and had to backtrack, causing the three who did notice to jump as many as seven places to the top of the standings.
Genre Savvy: On leg 5 of Season 19, when given a clue to disassemble a spirit house and take it with them, five of the eight teams took notes on the positioning of the pieces of the house in case they have to put it back together later, and the other three had team members who at least suggested it (unfortunately, in one of those cases, the team just decided to take mental notes, and in the other two the team member making the suggestion was rebuffed, and all three doing the Road Block had to go back and look at another spirit house).
Product Placement: Subverted. The 11th leg had a task based on the comic Tintin and aired at about the time a movie adaptation hit theaters, but no reference was made to the movie at all; Tintin was presented as merely a Belgian cultural icon.
Fan Disservice: Not just for the fans in Season 20, as one Detour had the teams scrub oil off of hairy, nearly naked men.
Mood Whiplash: A stop at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial was followed by rubber chickens in a Japanese game show.
Out-of-Genre Experience: The Japanese Game Show Roadblock in the finale, including the sound effects and graphics to go along with them.
Precap: There was one used in leg 7 to recap the major storylines of the season so far, and show where they would be heading starting in that episode.
Regional Riff: Played with during a cricket Detour. After having the teams compare the challenge to "just like hitting a baseball," the challenge is scored by sitar versions of "Charge" and "Take Me Out To The Ball Game".
Trailers Always Spoil: The premiere, instead of featuring the normal, "Next week on ''The Amazing Race''," instead featured a preview for the entire upcoming season, including scenes from the 7th episode, the 8th, the 10th, and even the finale. It became fairly obvious that certain teams were safe until those scenes aired.
Beach Episode: The three teams had twelve hours to waste in Barcelona, so they went to the beach.
Chekhov's Gunman: Observant viewers might have noted that the greeters at each of the Pit Stops in Season 21 said hello and goodbye to the racers in their native languages. This turned out to be important later when the final challenge was to match the words/phrases for "hello" and "goodbye" to their native countries. Unfortunately, most teams did not pay attention to this detail and the people who did the roadblock spent at least two and a half hours trying to complete it.
Failed a Spot Check: The finale had all three teams constantly miss the seemingly inconspicuous poster among others posted at Coney Island Boardwalk. Appropriately, it was titled The Amazing Houdini.
Loophole Abuse: In the second Double U-Turn, the leading three teams going into Amsterdam - all which had a good 3+ hour advantage on the trailing two teams - conspired to use the Double U-turn specifically against the stronger of the trailing teams, Abbie & Ryan (who were also the ones in contention for the $2 million prize); one team used their U-Turn on Abbie & Ryan, while a second team used the U-turn on the team that provided the first U-turn, knowing full well it wouldn't affect them, but specifically to deny Abbie & Ryan from using the U-turn on the other trailing team.
The Season 21 premiere showed clips from leg 9 and the finale.
Likewise, in the episode prior to the season 21 finale, the preview for said finale featured shots of Lexi doing the final Roadblock at the United Nations building in New York City, and Jaymes & James on the Coney Island boardwalk.
Victimized Bystander: The bamboo Detour in leg 5 involved teams carrying forty bamboo poles to a rickshaw and then taking the rickshaw to a construction site. The teams repeatedly lost control of the poles as they turned corners, and kept smacking locals with them.
Anti-Climax: Leg 5, Vietnam. What could have been an extremely exciting leg involving a Double U-Turn (with obvious divides between alliances, no less) was rendered a Foregone Conclusion after Dave & Connor quit early in the leg due to the former's injury, thus ensuring the rest of the teams were safe even before the first commercial break.
Bait and Switch: During the final leg, in Washington, D.C., the teams all go to 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, where they are to get pictures with the President. The teams are all surprised... but it turns out that they are just going to get pictures of themselves taken with an image of the President photoshopped onto the pictures.
Calvinball: The shemozzle race in New Zealand, which involved crawling through a crate dripping with molasses and a tunnel full of feathers, then riding an inner tube down a tarp into a muddy pond, all while holding eggs.
Chekhov's Gunman: In the second leg, teams were blessed by a Polynesian priest before getting their Detour clue. Two legs later, a Roadblock had the teams search through a number of surfboards for one that had the picture of the same priest on it (with the clue only telling them to look for something they had "encountered" on the course).
Disney Acid Sequence: The Roadblock in the German leg had teams traveling through a freaky labyrinth inside Berlin's Salon zur wilden Renate. Multiple racers even said walking through the maze was like being on a drug trip (see Mind Screw below).
Everything's Better with Monkeys: The teams were task with retrieving a clue in Bali by having a monkey open a coconut for them to retrieve the clue inside. The episode title was even "I Love Monkeys".
A subtle version of this in the first leg sandcastle Roadblock. As confirmed by Matt & Daniel, many teams didn't think to dig underneath the sandcastles, expecting the clues to simply appear when they knocked the castles over (despite it saying they would be beneath the sandcastles in the clue). Though searching 400 sandcastles and having to rebuild them would be taxing in itself, this led to teams not finding a single one in all of them and thus the last three teams felt it better to take a penalty over continuing their fruitless efforts.
The penultimate leg (set in Belfast, Northern Ireland) had a Detour in which one of the challenges involved teams going to the dry dock where the Titanic was built and serving a five-course first-class meal to reenactors. Three of the final four teams attempted this challenge, and all of them initially didn't realize there was a reason why the menus they picked up only had two of five courses listed for each person at the table - the menus were sitting on a signboard which listed the other three courses.
Human Chess: A Detour had the teams setting up human pieces on a Chinese Chess board.
Innocently Insensitive: The show itself became this in leg 5, as Leg 5 was set in Vietnam and featured a communist propaganda song and the wreckage of an American B-52 bomber that - though the show didn't mention this part - served to commemorate a victory over the Americans. Production had acknowledged they made a mistake and a formal apology was offered at the start of the next episode, though this was only broadcasted on CBS.
Mind Screw: The labyrinth in Berlin's Salon zur wilden Renate was built to deliberately invoke this.
Patriotic Fervor: A Roadblock had teams sitting and watching the performance of a patriotic Vietnamese song and dance.
Tar and Feathers: Shemozzle racing in New Zealand involved getting covered in molasses and feathers.
Trailers Always Spoil: Season 22 had a two-hour finale featuring the final elimination episode and the final leg. Like with Seasons 18 and 21, the promos aired on CBS showed three of the teams in the Final Destination City, Washington D.C., leading to the (correct) assumption that they were the Final 3.
The World Is Just Awesome: This season seemed particularly geared towards this kind of reaction with a route primarily consisting of scenic rural locations and endless Racer soundbites about how cool the surrounding environment was.