These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
The Intersection. Making two teams work together is more in line with something a show like Survivor would do. Instead of creating interesting interactions between the racers, it made whatever team arrived in an odd-numbered position stand around and wait for the other teams to show up. Sometimes they would be stuck waiting for hours.
Not only that, but several of these were placed in legs where a team was "Marked for Elimination". The Intersection pretty much made survival impossible for these teams, as it bunched them with the pack until it was too late to get 30 minutes ahead of anyone else.
The "mugging" penalty of US Seasons 5-9 for teams saved by non-elimination legs was widely loathed because it forced the awkward situation of well-off Americans begging for money (and later, other possessions) in impoverished nations just to survive in a reality TV competition (taken to extreme levels in U.S. Season 6 when the team that had to beg was on an island in Senegal known for its slave trade). On top of that, it barely penalized teams time-wise since, most of the time, begging easily made up for the resources lost and they could do it even during Pit Stop breaks in its debut. At least it was a step in the right direction, as it was still better than the saved teams getting off scot-free like in Seasons 1-4.
The "Marked for Elimination" penalty is widely known for practically being a One-Hit Kill for most of the teams slapped with it, especially since most of the teams hit with the penalty were some of the "weaker" teams of the season anyways. Producers also tended to make the following legs Unwinnable by Design, as stated above.
Any early elimination twist is reviled for giving the first out team less airtime, especially the Starting Line Elimination of US Season 15 (as well as in the third season of China Rush) in which the victim got virtually none. Also, since the draw of applying for the show is the opportunity to experience different countries, getting eliminated before leaving the first airport (Israel Season 2, Norway Season 1) or even the starting line as mentioned runs counter to that purpose.
Spoiled by the Format: It's a pretty sure sign that it's a "To be continued..." leg if it's just a few minutes until the end of the episode and still no teams whatsoever have checked into the Pit Stop.
Because the penultimate and final legs are shown together in the finale, there has been a trend (to much of the fanbase's chagrin) in recent seasons to show the teams in the final leg, spoiling the final elimination.
That One Leg & That One Challenge: Almost every race, a couple teams state they had difficulty with one or two legs. Not to mention, there's almost always one challenge of any kind that trips up almost every team on it. These include:
"Needle-in-a-haystack" challenges, where the teams have to find the right object in a sea of similar ones, a tiny object within a large area or a pile of something, a specific sign in a sea of neon, or a bunch of signs in a certain order. Especially if it's nighttime, or you're on a moving object and don't have time to stop if you didn't read a sign properly, or missed it.
Repeating a phrase you hear.
For female racers, there's the oft repeated head shaving Fast Forward.
Bill & Joe during Season 1 were seen as the Wicked Cultured gay couple who thought they were better than the other teams, and would do anything to win rather than play "fair." This portrayal has become increasingly debated since, with their "sinister side" being mostly chalked up to Manipulative Editing. It didn't hurt that their style of play was emulated by other teams from the second season on, making them seem like the smarter team in retrospect.
The Amazing Race anthology My Ox is Broken!, which repeatedly asserts that what is shown of the Racers on-screen is not necessarily reflective of their true selves because of Manipulative Editing and the unique stresses of the Race, did this with Flo, arguing that instead of the common view of her as a bitchy, useless drama queen who didn't deserve her half of the million dollars or the continuation of her friendship with Zach one bit, she was ultimately just someone who found that she wasn't as ready for the rigors of the Race as she thought, gradually cracked under very real stresses and found the strength to go on with the support of her best friend, and was able to laugh afterwards at the terrible impression she left on-screen.
Margie & Luke (14 & 18) either came off as a group of nice/average racers who performed beyond Luke's disability... or Luke was a Karma Houdini who acted like a spoiled asshat and managed to avoid being called out on it, especially since Margie refused to see him do any wrong.
Brook & Claire (17), big time. View #1: Brook was one of the single greatest racers ever, whose boundless energy and inability to be embarrassed made her the best part of Season 17, only she was held back by a partner who was average at best. View #2: Claire was a likable Everywoman, partnered with an annoying, hyper, shrieky-voiced ball of energy that dragged her along at a pace she could never hope to meet. View #3: Their contrasting personalities fed off well in relation to each other, with Brook keeping Claire motivated and Claire controlling Brook's manic personality.
There were a number of fans who insisted that Max & Katie (22) were only the villains because they were edited this way by the liberal editors/producers wanting to demonize the pair of admitted Republicans, even though Max & Katie outright said during Confession Cams that they had come into the season wanting and expecting to be the dominating villains.
Travis (23) was either a partner who was getting increasing frustrated with his partner for her lackluster performance in the last half of the race, or he was an unbearable Jerkass for constantly contributing to her performance by his berating comments. Most (if not all) of the fanbase take the latter interpretation.
Arc Fatigue: The Love Triangle/alliance between Tara & Wil and Chris & Alex in Season 2 lasted the entire season, with only the first leg being free from its influence. It was not that it lasted so long as much that it got so much focus despite it cycling through the same plot points over and over (Tara forsaking Wil to flirt with Alex, Wil constantly changing his mind on whether he wants to be in an alliance or not), and neither team being all that popular.
Base Breaker: It's very common for one person's favorite team to be the same team another can't stand. Thus, some teams have garnered extremely polarized opinions in the fanbase:
"Alpha Male" teams in general. As fansite TARflies Times put it: "A term of great confusion. Some folks define an "Alpha Male" team as one that is young-ish, fit, relatively intelligent, and aggressive in the way they run the Race. (Rob & Brennan from TAR1, for example, or Chris & Alex from TAR2.) Others use it to refer to any team of young, good-looking males, no matter what their Race attitude (Brian & Greg from TAR7 or BJ & Tyler from TAR9). For some it's simply a descriptor. For others, it's an insult. Some posters believe that a team of Alpha Males is a shoo-in to win, and would be happy if no more of them are ever cast. Others have no problem with them. Some TARflies regard them as eye-candy. Context is your best friend when you come across a reference to Alpha Males." The base breaking nature of these teams has been generally alleviated over time, as "Alpha Males" have only won three times since Season 4 (or twice if you don't count BJ & Tyler), meaning most modern viewers don't even realize why there is a bias against such teams.
BJ & Tyler (Season 9) are the biggest example of this. Either you think that they're a quirky, lovable team that's fun to watch or an annoying, self-pretentious team that needs to stop mugging for the camera ASAP. There is no in-between. The majority of viewers fell into the first camp, but the ones that fell into the second camp instead were...quite vocal about it.
It didn't help that, when they weren't chosen for All-Stars, they started whining about it online, complained about the validity of the teams chosen, and called themselves the most popular team to ever run the race and the "most winningest winners ever to win." That temper tantrum alone might have cost them their title as the most popular team to ever run the race.
Dustin & Kandice (Seasons 10 & 11), especially early on. An intelligent, stereotype-defying team that knows how to play the game and deserves to win over teams that have an inflated opinion about their so-called moral superiority, or an obnoxious mean girl team that deserves to be taken down a peg by nicer teams? You decide!
Eric Sanchez (Seasons 9 and 11), not so much due to whether or not people liked him (most people don't), but more towards whether or not he's one of the strongest racers ever. On one hand, he was part of one of the most dominant teams ever in Season 9, he and Jeremy setting the record for best finishing average (only Rachel & Dave (20) has also managed a sub-2.00 finishing average) and then came back and won All-Stars with Danielle. On the other hand, the Season 9 cast was extremely weak, and he performed poorly on All-Stars, to the point where he and Danielle had 5 bottom-2 finishes and only 3 top-2, were outshone by Dustin & Kandice, Rob & Amber, Danny & Oswald, and even Charla & Mirna, and won due to a mostly luck-based matching task.
The entire Top 4 from Season 14. Tammy & Victor, Jaime & Cara, Margie & Luke, and Kisha & Jen were all so polarizing, they had the fans split into four groups, not so much rooting for one team as they were rooting against the other three. This was not helped by the Luke/Jen fight in China being played up to encourage base breaking.
Jaime & Cara even cited themselves as such in the pre-race interviews for Unfinished Business, saying that they were a team people loved or hated, there was no middle ground with them. Though really, it was more so Jaime.
Maria & Tiffany were set up as Season 15's Designated Villain team from the get go, first when they decided to withhold that they were professional poker players who'd raked in millions in winnings, instead telling the other teams that they worked for a charity (which they did), then later when they were shown to get into an argument with fan favorites Zev & Justin. However, while the majority of the fanbase naturally disliked them, the This Is A Race fans immediately took to them for (1) being the only female team cast against four male teams (at a time when a female team still hadn't won the race), (2) having an open and honest, if not snarky, attitude that was not playing up to the cameras (something that was particularly rare that season), and (3) for being the most entertaining part of what was quickly becoming one of the Race's worst seasons.
Flight Time & Big Easy (Seasons 15 and 18), like BJ & Tyler, were a popular team with a small group of detractors, those who either thought they were trying, specifically and too hard, to be a fan favorite team, or else felt that "professional athletes" (as much as Harlem Globetrotters can be considered professional athletes) had no place on the Race. Made even worse when they came back for Unfinished Business, as they proceeded to consistently follow and leech information off of all the other teams. Though this strategy did not bother their fans, their detractors took issue with them "not running the race for themselves". Then they U-Turned the Cowboys, which pushed them into full on Base Breakers.
Midway through Season 19, Andy & Tommy started talking about their Christianity while at a Buddhist temple, and were, to say, a bit narrow-minded in their commentary (as opposed to fellow Christian Jennifer, who said the temple, while not her religion, deserved the same amount of respect). This incident, along with being another Stunt Casting team (completely embodying what fans hated about Seasons 15 and 16), and the most blatant Expies of BJ & Tyler yet, caused a bit of a rift. And that's not even touching on the explosion caused by their elimination by cabbie collusion, with their fans upset that they were beaten by two teams who never figured out how to get to the Pit Stop on their own, and their detractors calling it Karmic retribution for being so cocky when most of their wins had come more from other teams' mistakes and legs being specifically designed towards their strengths rather than their own racing skills.
Brendon & Rachel, Season 20. While they had some fans migrate over from their stint(s) on Big Brother, their presence was immediately dreaded by Race fans, and for good reason, too, as Rachel immediately turned into a whiny Attention Whore, which most people who had dreaded their presence had predicted that it would be the only thing ever shown, especially whenever they were down. That being said, seeing Rachel getting bullied by Art & JJ throughout the Race took a lot of the hatred off of her and put it squarely on the shoulders of Art & JJ. That, and Rachel's constant meltdowns eventually ended up becoming some of the most-entertaining parts of that season's hated final four.
Natalie & Nadiya from Season 21, with them being seen as either a strong, stereotype-defying team that had great potential to follow in Nat & Kat and Kisha & Jen's footsteps, or a shrill, obnoxious team whose Brutal Honesty came across as mean-spirited. Episode 6 deepened this rift further with their decision to keep James & Abba's lost money, causing many fans to argue about whether what they did was tantamount to stealing, or it was more James & Abba's fault for being careless with their money. And yet another group of fans took issue with what they did for a different reason: they had no problem about them taking the dropped money from a race perspective (seeing as they didn't technically break any rules) - but were angry with the fact that the twins did so knowing that James & Abba would have to beg for money... on the streets of Bangladesh.
Season 22's Vietnam leg became an unusually (for this show) politically charged Base Breaker as it featured a patriotic Vietnamese song glorifying communism and the wreckage as a B-52 Bomber from the Vietnam War used as a monument. Both of these sparked enough political controversy that CBS had to apologize to the veterans and any offended viewers, though other viewers were pleased that they presented aspects of Vietnamese culture so candidly including the Vietnamese perspective of the War and some were even disappointed at what was to them an unnecessary apology. Of special note is that channels outside the USA did not air the apology as the Vietnam War is primarily an American political issue.
Season 22 also had Joey. Though he had his fans, especially those who watched him on YouTube prior to the race, his tendency to act like a Man Child alienated a good portion of the fanbase. Normally, this would not be enough to make him a base breaker, but his fans so vehemently defended him that simply saying that you disliked Joey quickly became a heated argument.
A large number of fans were not happy with the casting for Season 24, due to the casting of the teams that are either racing for a third time, not really fitting the definition of "All-Stars" (for example, Caroline & Jennifer are not particularly memorable), or were Base Breakers in their original season, and that you could arguably create a better cast just with the snubs from the previous five seasons.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: In Season 23, as the teams were racing out of the airport in Indonesia, the editors randomly cut from Ashley & Ally in their cab, to a monkey walking on stilts in front of a line of motorcycles, then to Leo & Jamal in their cab.
Broken Base: There's the This Is A Race fans, and the Call It Karma fans. They generally get along at the beginning of a season, until something sets them off and the flame wars carry on for the remainder of the season. Arguments about team selection and how the courses should be planned out can get pretty heated as well. The very issue of teams helping each other is also a recurring debate for many reasons.
Ask the fans to rank the seasons. Though there seem to be a few seasons that will hit the bottom of most people's lists (the oft forgotten Season 4, the bickering couple-dominated 6, the Family Edition, and the Stunt Casting riddled Seasons 15 and 16), every single Season will hit the top of someone's list. Especially since most fans tend to favor one group of races over all the others.
Canadians Love The Amazing Race: The show is consistently top-rated in Canada, and is much more popular there than it is in its home country (it's consistently in the top 5 most watched shows in the country, with ratings that are at times comparable to Hockey Night in Canada). The many, many requests to let Canadians apply can attest to this popularity. Phil claimed that passport issues prevented Canadians from appearing and suggested they make their own version (Which they eventually did).
The Canadian version's premiere garnered the highest ratings of any Canadian premiere ever. This is despite it being a summer series.
Creator's Pet: One of the complaints against Season 24 was that the production team just stocked the cast with their favorite teams and camera whores, regardless of what would actually make an entertaining season. This was leveled against Margie & Luke (14, 18), Jet & Cord (16, 18) and Flight Time & Big Easy (15, 18) in particular for being brought back for a third time, and Mark Jackson (20) for getting to race with a replacement partner when Bopper was disqualified instead of being replaced with an emergency alternate team.
Critical Research Failure: The editors somehow managed to this during Season 24. During a Call Back in leg 3, Meghan & Jouey talked about how they had previously walked to the Pit Stop in Switzerland when they couldn't find a cab, while "Season 18" was subtitled on the bottom of the screen. Meghan & Joey weren't on Season 18, that was Unfinished Business, they were on Season 22.
Designated Hero: There are many teams who the producers expect to be popular, and are edited thusly, but instead end up coming off as preachy or annoying. This was pretty much most of the teams on Season 10, which led to Dustin & Kandice's popularity. (See Base Breaker)
They tried so hard to sell Meghan & Cheyne as Invincible Heroes in Season 15, but most of the fans just didn't care either way about a team that came off as simply boring.
Travis & Nicole were played up to this, as they constantly made claims about wanting to run a good race, but their hypocrisy-fueled Face-Heel Turn in the last third of the race made them immensely unpopular (Travis even more so).
Designated Villain: Played fairly straight early on with Bill & Joe (Season 1) and Wil (2). However, later seasons tend to treat teams more fairly, showing the good sides of even the biggest Jerk Asses.
Thomas edged on this during Season 17, simply by having a Y-chromosome. While not that bad of a guy all around, had he prevented a female team from finally winning the race, there's no doubt he would have become one of the most hated winners ever.
Phil has stated in interviews that, as of Season 17, The Race is deliberately trying not to create teams like this, as they feel it makes the show better, and the fans enjoy it more when they're not given a specific team they're supposed to root against.
The best example of this, so far, has been Art & JJ, who spent the first four episodes of Season 20 looking like the typical dominating, egotistical villain in the same vein as a Colin (5) or a Rob (7), but, starting with their giving Mark & Bopper half of their prize for winning leg 4, the editing has begun to show that there's more to their personality than brash egotism, and that their "villain" status was more than just editing.
Disappointing Last Leg: The first eleven seasons suffered from this in general, as multiple flights in every finale would negate all but the last part of the leg, which would many times include just a single task and some cab rides. This resulted in the winner coming down to whoever got the better cab several times. Especially noticeable in Season 10. For the most part, the season was filled with a wide variety of challenging and visually engaging tasks, but as the season went on, less inspired tasks started showing up. This culminated in a finale with four equalizers, and a final US leg consisting of a long taxi ride with a 30-block run down the street in between, and was decided by which cab driver had an automatic toll collection system in his vehicle. This was fixed post-All-Stars by setting the entire final leg in the same city, though cabs still often make the difference between staying or being taken out of contention.
Dork Age: Seasons 15 and 16, notable for being the first year in which the Race failed to win the Emmy for best Reality-Competition Show (Even Seasons 8 (The Family Edition) and 9 (which was widely considered sub-par for the first eight episodes) managed to win it). The biggest complaints came from the casting, which relied far too heavily on gimmick teams and pseudo-celebrities (of the 23 teams, 9 fit into one of these categories), though the courses and the competence of the teams also caused complaints.
Lenny & Karyn, Season 1, beat out several stronger teams despite finishing in the bottom 3 in every leg except the first one. They barely avoided elimination on several occasions due to a team getting lost in the desert, another team not having the proper currency to pay their taxi, and a non-elimination leg.
Steve & Dave, the air traffic controllers from Season 4. After an injury in the first leg they refused to run, yet lasted four more legs thanks to a Fast Forward and major blunders by other teams. On their penultimate leg, the show even played the "sad elimination" music for their finish, only to subsequently cut to a forgotten team that had taken a wrong turn and fallen hopelessly behind.
Kami & Karli, Season 5, finished either last or second-to-last on 6 of the first 9 legs, making many blunders along the way (such as being the only team who didn't figure out how to use puzzle pieces and a map to find out the next destination on their own), before finally getting eliminated on leg 10.
Adam & Rebecca, Season 6, finished in the top half of the field only once on their way to making the Final 3, and that one leg they won was by Fast Forward. They made several mistakes along the way, barely avoiding elimination at least 4 times. In the Sri Lanka leg, they had fallen over an hour and a half behind behind every other team, only to be saved by arguably the most badly placed equalizer in the series (at the END of the leg).
Also from that season were Don & Mary Jean, who stumbled through 5 legs despite accidentally stealing another team's car in leg 2, wasting over 5 hours at the IKEA counting detour in leg 3, and choosing the slower, luck-based fishing Detour in leg 4 (and finishing almost 4 hours behind the first team). They were finally eliminated in 8th after getting lost at the beginning of the 5th leg, after which not even Lori & Bolo accidentally walking several miles could save them.
Meredith & Gretchen, Season 7, who were the first team to succeed while deliberately using the "Just beat one team" strategy, even though Gretchen got injured and they had their bags taken away on an early leg.
Ray & Yolanda, Season 9, appeared to be slow at everything, surviving mostly because Season 9 teams were extremely mistake prone. They finished second-to-last in 4 of the last 5 elimination legs, and at one point survived because another team Yielded the team right in front of them.
Despite winning five legs, BJ & Tyler went through a Houdini stage in the middle of Season 9. Over the course of four legs, they came in last on two different non-elimination legs, and survived a third time when another team got lost looking for the Pit Stop.
Lyn & Karlyn, Season 10, who were the first female team to make the Final 3 despite being out of shape and constantly struggling to keep up with the more fit teams. They didn't finish in the top half of the field until the 10th leg, and only got that far because of stupid decisions by their alliance-mates Erwin & Godwin.
Karlyn: We just won't die. Like roaches.
Eric & Danielle, from Season 11, were the first Elimination Houdinis to win the race. In the first 11 legs, they had one top 2 finish, and their five bottom 2 finishes without getting eliminated is tied for third most ever, trailing only Kami & Karli's six in Season 5 and Josh & Brent's seven in Season 21. They also had two legs where they finished more than twelve hours behind the lead team, and were only able to catch up to the leaders due to the most blatantly contrived equalizer in race history. And ultimately, they only won because of a task involving guessing their partner's responses to questions about the other teams. Aside from being hugely luck-based considering it was the final task, the favorites to win, Dustin & Kandice, claimed in a post-race interview that Dustin's initial response wouldn't go through.
Dan & Andrew from Season 13, who only made it to the Final 3 because they were repeatedly saved by non-elimination legs or another team making an even worse blunder than they did. They are probably the Race's worst offenders/best examples of this trope, and are widely credited as being the worst team to ever make the Final 3. Phil even told them at one point that he thought they were going to be the next team eliminated. They even acknowledged how bad they were, saying that there should be a YouTube compilation video of all their mistakes - and one *was* created. They at least are able to laugh at themselves.
Mark & Michael, Season 14, who had a knack for getting tragically lost on every single leg. They are the only team to ever get multiple penalties on two different legs, and two different penalties on the same task (for sabotaging the other teams, and getting outside help when the clue told them that was not allowed), yet they managed to barely escape elimination on at least three separate occasions. This includes another team getting U-Turned, a team not having enough time to make up their Speed Bump, and a non-elimination leg.
Brian & Ericka, Season 15, survived twice, despite huge deficits, because another team quit a task. Maria & Tiffany quit a Detour where they were physically unable to do either task, while Big Easy quit a Roadblock where he was unable to unscramble the name "Franz".
Brent & Caite, Season 16, went through dehydration, got lost several times, and constantly bickered, yet made it to the Final 3 over several stronger teams.
Cops Louie & Michael as well. Other than a stretch of three legs without an equalizer, they spent all their time at or near the back of the pack, barely avoiding elimination at least four times thanks to Jody and Shawne struggling with Roadblocks in consecutive legs, Carol & Brandy getting U-Turned, and a non-elimination leg.
Nick & Vicki, Season 17. They spent most of their time in the back of the pack, and rarely completed non-physical tasks on the first try. Yet despite all this, and Nick's constant verbal abuse towards Vicki, they finished 4th due to other teams making mistakes, and twice were saved by non-elimination legs. On the third-to-last leg, Nick even gave up and napped during the Detour and eventually dragged Vicki into accepting a 6-hour penalty to skip it, only to be saved by a non-elimination leg. Thankfully, it only turned out to delay the inevitable - their late start time on the following leg caused them to miss the flight the other racers took out of Hong Kong, and they never came close to catching up after that.
Season 17 also had mistake prone Chad & Stephanie, who at one point were saved despite finishing in last with a 30-minute penalty because another team had a longer penalty.
Season 18 had Kent & Vyxsin barely escape elimination several times, including after running probably the worst leg of any team ever. Leg 4 started with them driving in the wrong direction for several hours, and catching their mistake so late that they missed the production-arranged flight out of Japan; the usual equalizer that everyone else reached with hours to spare. They continued to panic and melt down throughout the leg, topping it off by leaving their Race pack behind on a gondola, losing their passports for the second time in the same leg. They got saved by the fact that it was a double leg, catching up at the next equalizer. Then, on the next leg, Kent fell off a ladder during a Roadblock, cracking his rib and spraining an ankle, yet the lasted five more legs after that.
Marcus & Amani, Season 19, were constantly making mistakes and putting themselves in the back of the pack and being forced to play catchup, surviving mostly due to other teams making even worse mistakes at the last minute. Marcus, despite being a former NFL tight end, got shown up on physical tasks by a 60-year-old man. And in the penultimate leg, despite not discovering the location of the Pit Stop for themselves, their cab driver got it from another team's cab driver, putting them in the Final 3.
Vanessa & Ralph, Season 20, several times got themselves dreadfully behind the lead pack, yet managed to survive because someone did just a little bit worse than them. They survived once when Elliot & Andrew struggled with the Detour for as long as they did, again when Joey "Fitness" & Danny wasted time on a Fast Forward they didn't get, then later almost blew a two-hour lead on Nary & Jamie on a leg without an equalizer.
Also from Season 20 were Mark & Bopper. While they were competent enough, they were consistently plagued by injuries, illness, and bad navigation (mostly in leg 4, where they somehow ended up about 6-9 hours behind the leaders). They were saved twice by non-elimination legs; and even benefited from great luck on their final leg - just not enough to make up the massive time lost on the previous leg (nobody else had claimed the Fast Forward ahead of them, and it was shaving their heads when Mark was already bald).
From Season 21 were eventual winners Josh & Brent, who set the franchise record for finishing in the bottom 2 for seven straight legs and surviving all seven legs (Their final leg victory was the first time since leg 4 where they finished above the bottom 2). They were saved once by a non-elimination leg, survived a leg where they fell more than 5 hours behind the lead four teams and had to take a 4-hour penalty after Brent was unable to complete the swimming Detour when James & Abba lost their passports and were unable to retrieve them, and again the next leg after that, in spite of their flight being over 2 hours behind the other teams' when Abbie & Ryan 1) had their earlier flight delayed and ended up arriving at Amsterdam the same time as them and 2) were U-Turned by Jaymes & James. If there was ever a team who suffered from unbelievably bad and unbelievably good luck at the same time, it's them.
Also Gary & Will. They survived two legs in a row consisting of massive blunders (including U-Turning a team ahead of them) and being ready to give up because the teams they beat out were derailed by bad drivers, before finally getting eliminated in leg 4.
Chuck & Wynona in Season 22. In three straight legs they were saved by a fake Pit Stop non-elimination, Jessica & John getting eliminated because they refused to use their Express Pass, and Dave & Connor quitting the race, which saved them despite finishing almost three hours behind the other teams. They were later eliminated due to a 30-minute penalty for not using their sleds on the cheese hill task, even though they were nearly saved by Meghan & Joey walking to the Pit Stop when a local gave them bad directions.
Max & Katie also qualify. After they got two other teams to quit a task with them in the first leg and take a four hour penalty, they were handily beaten by the other surviving team in the next leg, only staying in by having their penalty cut down by an Hours of Operation bunching point and two other teams' major screwups. In the next leg, they screwed up navigation so badly that they were only spared from last place by Chuck & Wynona screwing up worse. They were later saved by a non-elimination leg after being the last team to quit the longer end of a Detour, and in the leg after that, despite a Speed Bump, navigation issues, and having to pay a speeding ticket, they managed to survive again due to Pam & Winnie imploding on the Detour. However, they did end up winning three straight legs in Europe just before the finale.
Mona & Beth took up the Elimination Houdini mantle in the last third of the Race (when Chuck & Wynona were eliminated and Max & Katie started winning legs) as their ineptitude at navigation and mental tasks started to show, only making the Final Three due to a non-elimination and two other teams struggling with physical tasks. In the 10th leg, they managed to survive both a Speed Bump (one of the harder ones in the series) and a U-Turn, beating out Joey & Meghan because they had also been U-Turned.
Ally & Ashley from Season 23, who ran along at the back of the pack for most of the season, and finished five straight legs in second-to-last place.
Travis & Nicole were a unique case as, despite being established as the strongest team up until then, Nicole broke down at the Leg 9 and 11 Roadblocks and only stayed in the race because Amy helped her out both times.
Through six legs of Season 24 there's Brendon & Rachel. After finishing in the top 2 for the first two legs, they proceeded to barely escape elimination through the next three legs thanks Meghan & Joey letting their cab go when there were no other cabs around for them to catch, a non-elimination leg, and Margie & Luke missing the first flight to Sri Lanka. They didn't finish in the bottom two in the sixth leg, but only due to Flight Time & Big Easy's cab getting lost, and John telling Rachel she was doing the Roadblock wrong, allowing them to barely make the train with all the other teams, which would have otherwise been an automatic last place.
Ending Aversion: The Race is notorious for having finales that are much weaker than the preceding legs, especially before Season 12 (see Disappointing Last Leg). The worst are probably Seasons 10 and 11, the former which involved three teams most of the audience didn't like or care about, and the later involving one of the most unpopular teams to ever win the race beating one of the most popular, during the All-Star season.
Gary (Season 2) managed to make his elimination this by making a show out of leaving the mat.
After losing a passport in Season 21, James & Abba's inevitable elimination dragged on for an entire episode when the leg turned out to be a non-elimination.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Teams like Lena & Kristy (Season 6) and Debbie & Bianca (7) are quite popular with portions of the fanbase, despite only lasting three or four legs apiece. Part of this was because no all-female or parent-child team had reached the Final 3 until Season 10 and 12 respectively, so expectations were high for such teams. Zev & Justin even got an invitation back for "Unfinished Business" despite being eliminated on the fourth leg of Season 15. (Amanda & Kris, who were eliminated fourth on Season 14, also got an invitation, but there was a lot more complaining from the fans about their inclusion.) Interestingly, 9th place, which all the aforementioned teams finished in, tends to be the Ensemble Darkhorse spot (with Wanda & Desiree (9), Mark & Bill (13), and Chester & Ephraim (23) also finishing 9th).
This can apply to certain fans of several fan favorite teams, but most specifically to Jet & Cord (16 & 18) fans, who get upset at any suggestion that the Cowboys are not the greatest thing to ever happen to the Race. Said fans vilified Dan & Jordan for cutting in front of Jet & Cord at the airport in Season 16's final leg, even though it was Dan & Jordan taking the initiative to move up to first class, not the cutting, that gave the brothers their big advantage. Then, upon the Cowboys' elimination from Unfinished Business, their fans cried cheater again, this time against all the other teams for sharing answers on a Roadblock, something that's never been against the rules, and many threatened never to watch the show again just because the Cowboys were "cheated" out of winning again. Not only that, but the fallout of this incident may have caused Flight Time & Big Easy to fall from "fan favorites with a small group of detractors" to full on Base Breakers.
There's also the fans who insist that non-elimination legs are moved around to save the producers' favorite teams, even though this would be a) illegal according to game show laws (and no one wants a repeat of the quiz show scandals) and b) either a logistical nightmare to switch things up at the last minute or a waste of resources to set up multiple potential non-elim points (involving things like Speed Bump tasks) ahead of time when only one is going to be used (the same situation that basically killed Fast Forwards).
Then there are the fans who don't seem to realize that the Race is completed before the show ever airs, and will complain that CBS should rectify whatever wrong they thought happened in the previous episode. Such as when Rob & Amber fans complained that they had been cheated on All-Stars (spurred along by Rob saying that he had not found his letter in their final Roadblock in his own bag, but on the floor having been discarded from another team's bag), and complained each week that CBS had still not put them back on the show.
Fetish Fuel: In Season 11, one Detour had the teams use a large bamboo pole to flatten dough while making a bundle of noodles. Kandice decided the best way to do the task was to straddle the pole and bounce up and down on it.
Fridge Logic: This gem of a comment came from Mirna on All-Stars:
"The Yield wasn't really necessary. Why would you ever Yield a team in the beginning of a leg knowing that they're not that far behind and they can catch-up and pass you at any moment? It didn't make logical sense to me."
For a large portion of the series (mainly Seasons 3-9) allowing the teams to beg for money destroyed the whole "money management" part of the game, as begging easily garnered more money than whatever the teams were given at the beginning of the leg.
Also from the All-Stars era, there was the practice of teams getting locals to guide them throughout the legs (known as "Ferns" to fans). It wasn't that bad at first, but Rob & Amber abused it horribly on Season 7 using their Survivor popularity to get locals to guide them through four different legs, each time gaining huge amounts of time on all the other teams who ran the legs for themselves, then again by several returning teams during All-Stars, forcing the producers to make rules against it from Season 12 on, culminating with them banning the use of hiring taxis to lead teams when self-navigating in Season 17.
The U-Turn, which replaced the Yield, from Seasons 12-16. It forced the team hit by it to go back and complete the other side of a Detour, and all but ensured they would finish last, especially if the they were already in last place to begin with. It didn't help that during these seasons the U-Turn was always placed on an elimination leg. The Double U-Turn was introduced in Season 17 to alleviate this, and it immediately became much less of a Game Breaker.
Giving away answers to other teams has happened every now and then on the race, but it was so widespread in Unfinished Business that it reached this level. Since the teams had raced before and had figured out that the only goal until the final leg is to avoid last place, alliances formed in which teams would give away answers to guarantee they would not be eliminated. Individual task performance was de-emphasized, and as a result, Flight Time & Big Easy, who rarely solved a puzzle by themselves, managed to get into the Final Three with this strategy.
Taken (again) and to an extent a ridiculous level in Season 23 when two teams (Ashley & Ally (Leg 9) and Leo & Jamal (Leg 11)) were eliminated due to Jason & Amy's "unhealthy" alliance with Nicole & Travis resulted in Amy helping the struggling Nicole complete two puzzle-based Roadblocks before Pit Stops. If you believe Amy's claimed motive, this is perhaps the only time where the "goat" strategynote bringing the weakest player to the finals to fill one opposing slot popularized by Survivor actually worked out, but that would also mean they thought a team that won three legs and never finished lower than 4th was less of a threat than a team who never finished higher than 5th.
Harsher in Hindsight: David & Connor's promotional photo for Season 22 had them wearing Livestrong jackets. The cast reveal occurred soon after Lance Armstrong had his Tour de France titles taken away for doping (and mere days after his confession in an interview with Oprah). Not only that, but Connor is a professional cyclist who racers for the Livestrong team.
Intentionally invoked by Eric & Jeremy and BJ & Tyler from Season 9. The half naked pictures of them "frolicking" together that leaked onto the internet attest to that.
Tyler & James (Season 10), who did not so much sit next to each other as on top of each other during post-leg interviews, and at the beginning of leg 8, Tyler gave a confessional about how James was too passive, and he needed to take a more "dominant" role over him.
Wil (Season 2) spent most of the Race arguing with his separated wife Tara and ticking off everyone else who came into contact with him. However, Tara harangued and pushed him around to a degree surpassing his, flirted with another Racer in front of him (it's understandable that she would want to hang out with people other than Wil, but it's worth keeping in mind that she was still technically married to Wil and seemed to think that any complaints from him about it were not worth listening to, not even the gameplay-related ones that did turn out to be justified, as her insisting on dragging Chris & Alex into the Final 3 cost them the race), and had maybe one or two moments of showing something other than irritation or disgust regarding him even during the occasional moments where he seemed to be genuinely trying to reconcile with or impress her. All of which led many fans to comment that as much as they hated Wil, they also felt sorry for him due to the way Tara treated him.
Tara has stated in interviews that, during the Race, Wil treated her better than when they were a couple, while she'd been treating him worse. Given all the onscreen evidence of friction between the two of them, that's a sorry statement indeed.
While it's no secret that Rachel Reilly (20) could be the Trope Namer for Attention Whore, sometimes her outbursts were actually a little more justified - such as Art & JJ's bullying of her and Brendon, or when Brendon is rude to her. (Which he actually does a lot.)
Ryan (21) may have been a pompous blowhard, but he and Abbie went through a horrible series of events in their last three legs. They missed two connecting flights in the same city, putting them hours behind the other teams both times, Abbie struggled with the Trees of Love Roadblock, Ryan struggled with the Russian time zone Roadblock, Ryan was the only player to struggle with ditch vaulting, and they got U-Turned out of the race thanks to the other teams' manipulation of the Double U-Turn.
First, the the show jumped the shark with Season 6, and that the first five seasons (minus Season 4) are of much higher quality than the rest of the series. Some extend this through Season 7, making Family Edition the shark jumping season. These fans also tend to give a pass to Season 12.
Second that the show jumped the shark with Season 15, which moved away from the Metagame that had made the previous seasons so highly competitive, and instead moved towards Stunt Casting and blatantly trying to engineer fan favorite teams like Jet & Cord and Flight Time & Big Easy. Season 17 tends to get a pass, as well as 18, 21, and 22 to varying degrees.
Third, there are those who think the show is still of high quality, and has yet to jump the shark.
Bill & Joe (1) broke every unwritten rule set up by the other teams on the first season and did everything they could to win, even going so far as to try to prevent three teams from making their flight by blocking security. At the same time, they established the basis for what would become the Race's Metagame, and were by far the most memorable team from Season 1. Their Love to Hate status led to people actually being disappointed they weren't more cutthroat in All-Stars.
Wil (2) spent the majority of the Race arguing with his separated wife Tara and irritating everyone else he came into contact with. He was also the single biggest driving force behind that season, even over fan favorites Danny & Oswald, and actually became something of a Jerkass Woobie when it became clear that Tara was no better than him (and even *worse* in some aspects).
Flo (3) was the worst partner imaginable, both slowing down Zach because she was a bad racer, and actively finding ways to screw him over, but she was inherently quotable, and still holds the record for most episode quotes in a season. She became the standard by which useless partners and race breakdowns were judged.
Colin (5) was a Jerk Ass with a short temper that irritated the other teams and almost landed him in jail, but he also redefined how teams ran the Race, and provided the series with it's single most memorable line.
Rob (7) had an ego you dearly wanted to see punctured, and yet had to also grudgingly admire him for walking the walk and being just as good a Racer as he made himself out to be. His Evil Gloating and Nothing Can Stop Us Now boasts also made the two crucial times he got asskicked by karma extremely satisfying to watch.
Linda Weaver (8) initially garnered a lot of sympathy from viewers for her back story of having lost her husband in a race car accident, but that sympathy evaporated when she (and the rest of her family) became a Holier Than Thou hypocrite who harped on other teams' supposed deficiencies and sinfulness, and alienated them to the point where they declared an Enemy Mine against her family. All of this made her as entertaining to watch as similar Holier Than Thou wives showcased on Wife Swap.
Mirna (11) was already kind of annoying in Season 5, but her prissiness and self-righteousness came into full bloom during the All-Star season. At the same time, she decided to start a feud with the increasingly popular Dustin & Kandice, hypocritically harping on all their supposed deficiencies. However, she also became almost as quotable as Flo in the process.
Jennifer (12) was one of the poorest sports in the history of the race, constantly sabotaging her game by yelling and arguing with her partner Nathan, and she clashed with the other teams, particularly since this season's teams were friendly with each other for the most part. She treated other teams catching up to or getting ahead of them as a personal offense, yet that made it ever so satisfying to see her foiled time and time again at her first place ambitions.
Jaime (14) constantly yelled at her teammate Cara and any cab drivers that didn't speak English, but there was something about her freak-outs that separated her from the "Ugh, here's another Ugly American tirade coming" likes of Kendra and placed her into "Ooh, let's see just how badly she reacts to this!" territory instead. It helped that in the end, when she was unable to complete the final Roadblock without help, she took full responsibility for it and showed that she meant no malice towards Cara.
Brandy (16) spent almost her whole time on the race arguing, complaining, screeching, harping on her teammate (Carol) and generally looking like she might have enjoyed maybe ten minutes of the entire race as a whole. She and Carol also got more airtime and more press than anyone else from Season 16 outside of Jet & Cord, and viewership dropped by a million after they were eliminated.
Art & JJ (20) were a throwback to the arrogant, dominant villains who were so prevalent in the show prior to All-Stars, like Colin (5) and Rob (7 & 11), and in between their bullying of other teams and their failed attempt to turn everyone against Nary & Jamie, they were just as entertaining to watch as well.
Ryan (21) started off with an ego and a competitive fire on the same level as Colin (5), and went on to start a feud with Natalie & Nadiya. Aside from his eventual Karmic beat down being entertaining as all hell, he and Abbie had some of the best lines of the season.
Marie (23) who abused and dominated her ex-boyfriend Tim, and managed to make all the other teams hate her with her pushiness. However, her frequent outbursts of anger, combined with her almost self-destructively aggressive gameplay, made her the star of a season where a lot of the more likable big personalities went out early, leaving a cast full of likable but boring teams, and the even more irritating Leo & Jamal. Even the other racers shared this sentiment as most of them said something along the lines of "she wasn't that bad" in the exit interviews.
Magnificent Bastard: Rob on Season 7. Over the course of the race, he chewed out another team for calling him a liar right after he lied directly to their faces, stole that same team's taxi in the next leg, only to have them apologize to him for calling him a liar, paid off a bus driver to delay other teams by not opening the bus's second set of doors without using his own money, got teams to quit a Roadblock (involving eating four pounds of meat) and take a penalty after he himself quit it so that he would not be eliminated, managed to weasel his way onto a flight that was already closed, passed right by another team who had flipped their Jeep on the side of the road without even slowing down to see if they were okay, used his Survivor fame to get numerous locals to help him and hinder the other teams, and had everyone else chasing their own tails for the entire season.
Most Annoying Sound: There's always at least one team who starts yelling at each other when they get stressed out. Of course, if they last until the final few legs, when the Race is at its most stressful...
"Charla!" (Though really, any time Mirna opened her mouth could count.)
Expect at least one overexcited person a season to constantly and repeatedly tell their partner to "Come on!" to the point it annoys even them.
There tends to be at least one young couple in each race who like to call each other "Babe" or "Baby" to an annoying amount. Some of them really start ramping it up as the race gets further along, in basically a passive-aggressive way when they get annoyed at each other (My Ox Is Broken really brings this home).
To many fans, the shout of "Twinnie" from Season 21 definitely count.
Also from Season 6, eventual winner Kendra talking about the way people in Africa keep "breeding and breeding," which moved her and Freddy from a bland, inoffensive team to one of the most hated in record time. She was quickly stuck with the nickname "KKKendra."
In an interview, Claire (Season 17) said that no matter what she does for the rest of her life, she expects to always be remembered as the woman who got hit in the face with a watermelon.
Nary & Jamie (Season 20), are remembered primarily for one thing, lying about their jobs as federal agents and telling everyone they were teachers. The "teachers" reference has become the go-to comment anytime a team admits or is caught lying about their profession. Though they were not the first (for example, Maria & Tiffany telling everyone that they worked for a charity in Season 15), they are the best example in the show.
No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Despite the controversy following Season 22's Vietnam leg (see Base Breaker), the show's ratings went up for the next episode, and remained higher than the Vietnamese episode for the rest of the season.
One-Scene Wonder: Some Pit Stop greeters become popular just due to their appearance, costume, or behavior at the Pit Stop. Such as the town crier from Australia in Season 2, and a whopping four different greeters from Season 13, Phil's dad in New Zealand, the woman with the feathered hat in Bolivia, the woman with fire on her head in India, and the gardener, also in India, who instead of standing next to Phil, continued to water the lawn until a team appeared, then ran over to the mat to greet them.
Poor Man's Substitute: Eric & Danielle (originally from Season 9) being cast in place of Flow and Drew (from Season 3) on All-Stars. Not only was their relationship far less memorable, and Danielle mostly a non-factor during Season 9, but they ended up becoming the fighting couple, and their victory is generally sited as one of the worst parts of All-Stars.
Portmanteau Couple Name and Idiosyncratic Ship Naming: Applied to some of the teams either by the fans, or by other racers and the fans adopt them. Examples of portmanteau names are Momily (Nancy & Emily, the mother/daughter team from Season 1), Heave (Heather & Eve from Season 3), MoJo (Monica & Joseph from Season 9), and Dandrew (Dan & Andrew from Season 13). Idiosyncratic nicknames include Team Guido (Bill & Joe from Season 1, self-named after their pet dog), Team Cha-Cha-Cha (Oswald & Danny from Season 2), the Double-Ds or the Pinks (Dani & Danielle from Season 9; the latter name for their wardrobe, and the former given by another team as a play on their names (but with a Double Entendreinvolved)), and Team Glee (Jonathan & Connor from Season 17, as collegiate a capella singers).
The fanbase themselves did this with Season 3 winner Zach. Initially he was dumped in with Flo as the worst team to ever win the Race, but as time went on and more races were run, fans started to realize that he was a pretty good racer who just happened to be saddled with the worst handicap possible. Though Flo is still pretty much hated (albeit with a significant Love to Hate contingent of fans), Zach now gets quite a bit of respect from the fans.
Dustin & Kandice, who went from being the most hated team at the midpoint of Season 10 to being the fan favorite on All-Stars when the editors started showing their "evil acts" were actually them caring more about running the race than socializing with the other teams.
Ronald became Season 12's most hated team member after Episode 2 showed him acting like a complete Jerkass toward his daughter Christina, constantly heckling her in front of other teams, and even telling her that she needed to lose weight. He continued to berate Christina later on at times, but eventually pulled himself together enough to regain the respect of a significant portion of the fanbase.
Leo & Jamal on Season 24. Like Dustin & Kandice before them, their rescuing started near the end of their original season, when they called Travis & Nicole out on their hypocrisy, and looked like the only team amongst the top 4 who were having any fun. A lot of the hatred that had been focused on them started to spread out through the other teams. They were immediately asked back to run the Race again, with the editing being much kinder to them the second time around, more focused on the goofy nature of their antics rather than the ugly side of them, and they became much more likable as a result.
Amazingly, also Rachel Reilly on Season 24. She shed all the Wangst that had made her so unlikable on Season 20, and had a defining moment where she calmed down Luke when he was falling apart at the drink mixing Detour in leg 4 (a strategically poor move) and later said a prayer with Brendon that showed a huge amount of Character Development.
The most famous one was in Season 2, when the Wil/Tara/Alex Love Triangle took over the season, despite the racers involved being less than popular, starting in leg 2 and lasting all the way through the finale. In comparison, the Flo/Drew/Zach Love Triangle in Season 3 started halfway through the season, and was then only a part of Zach's overall story.
Eric & Danielle being included on All-Stars, even though their relationship was nothing more than casual flirting on Season 9, and Danielle (& Dani) lasted all of four legs. This was an obvious attempt for Race producers to create their own Rob & Amber, as Eric & Danielle were offered the spot in replacement of Season 3's Flo and Drew (as Flo turned them down). Instead of a Super Couple, they got an unpopular bickering couple that won the race over several more popular teams, and broke up right after the race was over.
Leg 8 of Season 17 got sidetracked by Chad deciding to propose to Stephanie in the middle of the leg. The entire leg then became devoted to them and their relationship. However, all that airtime did keep them from getting A Death in the Limelight episode on the next leg.
The Scrappy: Most teams — even unlikable, annoying, or incompetent ones — still contribute something. However, every once in a while some team comes along that just completely annoys the hell out of everyone with no redeeming qualities.
Gary & Dave, Season 2. They were cast as a supposedly funny friends team, in the same vein as Kevin & Drew (1 & 11). However, their humor came off as ugly and irritating, had a tendency to start arguments with other teams (both real and fake... and somehow the fake ones were more annoying), and Gary would never shut up, much to the chagrin of every other racer.
Flo, Season 3, to the production crew. None of the camera crews wanted to work with her as all she did was whine all day. They assigned the low men on the totem pole to her. She actually got a relatively flattering edit, so they say.
Kelly & Jon, Season 4, especially when they started mocking Millie & Chuck for no apparent reason.
Marshall & Lance, Season 5. They did nothing but complain during the entire race. Like Gary & Dave, their humor (which included a drive-by "BITCH!" at Mirna) came off as mean-spirited instead of funny. Marshall even admitted in My Ox is Broken that they got a good edit.
Jonathan, Season 6. Maybe the most hated racer ever. The man verbally abused his wife for most of the race, and shoved her at one point. Made even worse when his abuse was not reserved only to her, as seen in the second leg where he screamed at and berated another racer, Meredith, to the point of her breaking down in tears. Not even Phil wanted to see him back on All-Stars.
Then he and Victoria went on to compete in an episode of Fear Factor alongside contestants of other reality shows. Jonathan was so insufferable and horrid that it took the Fear Factor production to prevent host Joe Rogan from beating the living daylights out of Jonathan.
Also in Season 6 was Kendra. Her boyfriend Freddy was not too bad (relatively speaking), but she complained about every single place they went and whined about Sri Lanka smelling. Even though she did not whine as much, in many ways she was worse than Flo, as she seemed to despise any place that did not live up to her standards. Made even worse by the fact that she seemed completely oblivious to how ugly a person she came across as.
Rob & Kim, Season 10. In Madagascar, Rob started talking about how all the locals' brains were less developed bcause they got less protein. Also, their passive-aggressive usage of the word, "babe" (see Most Annoying Sound), and their inability to do anything without yelling at each other was bad enough, but then they had to go be the most hated team in what is generally considered the second most hated Final 3 in Race history.
Eric & Danielle, Season 11. Not only had they not raced together in Season 9, but they had been dating less than a year when they were foisted upon the fans as a Romantic Plot Tumor for All-Stars. They were even chosen from Season 9 over BJ & Tyler, who at that point were probably the most popular team to ever run the race. They became that season's fighting couple, somehow won over several far more popular teams (which was pretty much every team except Rob & Amber). Then, to cap it all off, they promptly broke up after the season was over.
Dan & Sam, Season 15. They could not stop fighting, ever.
Brent & Caite, Season 16. "Shut Up!!" "You Shut Up!!!" "I hate those mean lesbians." Repeat ad nauseaum. It's quite telling that most of their storyline revolved around Carol & Brandy, and how much Caite hated them.
Nick from Season 17, due to his constant screaming and berating of his girlfriend Vicki, who was a sweet girl who put far more effort to run the race than Nick ever did. When he decided to quit on a task and essentially bully Vicki into doing the same, he pretty much cemented himself as one of the most hated racers of all time.
Laurence, Season 19. First he tore his son apart for struggling on the spirit house reassembling Roadblock when he was the one who refused to let Zac take notes in the first place. Then, in the next episode, he relentlessly mocked Sandy (a nurse practitioner) for not being able to sew.
Travis from Season 23. He and Nicole had started the race as one of the most likable teams of not only the season, but maybe the series. Then came leg 9 when he started he started berating his wife for her performance and his hypocrisy. It went all downhill after that when he spent his a lot time after that leg insulting how his wife was doing tasks and being hypocritical.
Scrub: There are teams who complain about others not playing the game "right", though this was much more common on the early seasons.
Both Joe & Bill (1) and Blake & Paige (2) got a lot of flack for not "playing fair" and following the unwritten rules set down by the others, though most of the things they got complaints about are considered common practice now, and they were not so much "cheating" as they were "making every effort to win the Race".
Kevin & Drew were pretty scrubby while complaining about Bill & Joe during Season 1, but they became the Race's ultimate scrubs on Season 11 when, after being eliminated at the end of leg 2, they forced the production crew to stop the race for six hours, forcing the other teams to stand out in the heat and waste half of their Pit Stop while the crew reviewed the tapes to make sure none of the other teams had gone even 1 kph over the speed limit. This was because Drew didn't realize that halfway through the driving trip the speed limit increased by 10 km/h, despite having both a road sign and the clue to tell him so. His staying well below the speed limit wreaked havoc on other teams' driving through that stretch, to the point where Mirna yelled at him that he drove like a girl.
Competing for that title is Jennifer of Nathan & Jennifer (12), who complained that Azaria & Hendekea, who had won three of the first four legs at that point, should let someone else have a turn at being first.
Near the end of Season 23, Travis & Nicole's U-Turning of Leo & Jamal because they lied about U-Turning another team, and their subsequent complaining about how they were above that sort of dirty lying to win a game. Jason & Amy also did this to a lesser degree, complaining along with Travis & Nicole.
Season 4 had a cast full of unlikable teams (Jon & Al being the exception, possibly Tian as well) who resorted to bickering and ugliness whenever anything didn't go their way. There was far too much fighting over what was "fair" and who had what place in line, with teams playing cutthroat one second, then complaining about other teams doing the same the next. Then Jon & Al had to go and get eliminated in 4th, leaving the fans no one to root for in the finale.
Season 6 is viewed in this light by some fans, as almost all the likeable teams were eliminated early on and, by the latter half of the race, Kris & Jon were the only likeable team left with the rest of the teams being whiny, annoying, and constantly bickering. Pretty much every single ongoing storyline involved racers bickering with each other, and there were a lot of bad feelings all around. And then Kris & Jon lost the million to the most hated team of the lot. Another point against the season was the overuse of equalizers, which sucked a lot of excitement from the legs knowing only the last portion mattered. The season also had the bad luck to be sandwiched between two seasons that are widely considered among the series' best.
The Family Edition. Having children on the Race, as well as having teams of 4 (as the show already requires a huge travel budget with teams of 2), restricted international travel, meaning the entirety of the race ended up taking place in North and Central America. The challenges had to be watered down for the families, and viewers watched as families turning seemingly dysfunctional while being challenged to such difficult tasks as pitching a tent in exotic Pennsylvania. Some people actually think it wasn't that bad; just better on paper than it was in practice.
Season 15 had a whiny, mediocre cast full of pseudo-celebrities running on a subpar course (of course, the H1N1 virus scare was taking place at the time, which meant that several of the planned countries had to be switched and new legs had to be put together on the fly). It did not help either that three teams essentially quit the race when they came up against something "too difficult" (which included, of all things, going down a waterslide and unscrambling the name "Franz", though the other instance was being physically unable to complete one of two strength-based detour tasks and wasn't for lack of trying). The season started off fine, but took two noticeable dips, first when fan favorites Zev & Justin lost a passport, then again when Maria & Tiffany quit the race, essentially removing the only two teams who were keeping the season afloat.
Season 16, which in some ways was worse than its predecessor. Despite producing one of the most popular teams in the series, most of the teams were either boring or unlikable, and a huge amount of time was devoted to a rivalry between two unpopular teams. When the most popular team lost in the finale, to a team that cut in line in front of them at the final airport, many of fans overreacted, and wouldn't stop accusing the show of letting a pair of cheaters win for over a year.
Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Reichen & Chip winning Season 4 might not seem like a big deal now, but in 2003 a pair of Manly Gay guys in a loving, stable relationship excelling at a physically and mentally based competition was a huge deal, to the point that it was one of the the main story lines of the season, especially near the end, and their kiss at the Finish Line was hugely controversial, and was even censored in many places. In comparison, when gay couple Brent & Josh kissed after winning Season 21, people barely batted an eye at their relationship or their kiss at the Finish Line.
Spoiled by the Format: If a team is talking about their time on the race before Phil tells them whether or not they are eliminated, it's non-elimination
"Stop Having Fun" Guys: It doesn't happen in the Race as much as in some other shows, though there are a few. Specifically, Colin from Season 5 and J.J. from Season 20 are the best examples.
For example, Colin & Christie constantly complained in the final two episodes of Season 5 that Chip & Kim had "played unfairly" by Yielding them, and insisted that karma would get them in the end, when: 1) the Yield was a perfectly fair (if new) part of the game rules, and 2) every team left at that point agreed to Yield Colin & Christie if they got the chance, as the couple had been so dominant up to that point, that it was the only way any of them thought they might win the race.
One of the few complaints about Season 18 was that the final four teams were all far too nice and willing to help each other, and there was not as much of a sense of urgency and competition as in some other seasons. It got to the point where people were calling for rules to be made against teams helping each other complete tasks. That's right, the fans were the "Stop Having Fun" Guys.
Art & JJ (20) decried other teams for "not deserving to be on the Race with them," pointed out that they were fine finishing second to a Fast Forward because it meant they had really won the leg, called out other teams for copying them simply because they went to the same travel agency, and then criticized Rachel & Dave for choosing to break a deal and not U-Turn Brendon & Rachel on a leg that they essentially saw as a Foregone Conclusion.
It's been pointed out by Jordan on Big Brother that people are generally a lot more friendly on The Amazing Race than other social game shows. One of the most important things on The Amazing Race isn't so much getting people to like you as it is being able to work with your partners.
That One Task: Some of the challenges can be flat out sadistic. Examples include:
The Hay Bale Roadblock (Season 6). Showing an example of a Random Number God, there were 270 hay bales, and only 20 of them had clues. If you do the math, you'll find that you have around a seven percent chance of finding a clue in that one. Not to mention unrolling the bales was a task in itself, as they stood almost as tall as the racers. And that wasn't the worst challenge of the season in terms of luck. The penultimate leg's Roadblock required racers to unlock one of 3000 locks.
Any eating task, though special note goes to Seasons 5-7, which included two pounds of caviar, an ostrich egg, a bowl of spicy Hungarian soup, and four pounds of meat.
Season 12's Final Roadblock required the racers to figure out a specific combination of 10 items on the race out of 15 fulfilling several specific conditions. It establishes itself as this immediately when Phil ended the complicated explanation with "If you think it sounds easy, think again." The racers were all prepared for a final memory challenge, but every one of them got stuck for at least an hour trying to figure it out and attempting to discern such things as a human being considered an animal and a stick being used as transportation.
In Season 17, it was pretty much nails on both sides and picking which one would hurt the least - Either take parakeets to a boat which you had to correctly identify by locating a series of numbers on the hull (made even worse with how the teams had to do this at night), or ride on a tram and look for three signs that were well hidden if you didn't know what you were looking for; and if you didn't get them then you had to ride the tram again and again until you got them. To make matters worse, this came after a Roadblock combining two of the most hated kinds of tasks into a needle-in-a-haystack eating challenge.
Season 20 had a Bollywood Roadblock, in which the participating member had to correctly perform a Bollywood routine in traditional garb in hot weather. Only 1 team got through in one try.
The leg 7 Detour in in Season 21. One side involved searching through a Russian card catalog for four specific books from a list, while the other side the teams had to learn a synchronized swimming routine.
Season 21 also had a fairly difficult final Roadblock ("Hello Goodbye") which saw a lead change that decided the victor, as well as the only night finish on the American version of the race (it took the first team to finish it at least three hours).
The sand castle Roadblock in Season 22's first leg, in which teams had to search through over 400 sandcastles for a clue, and every sand castle they tore down they had to rebuild, all in 100 degree weather. Three teams ended up quitting the task.
Season 23 had a Roadblock in which racers had to sing with the Vienna Boy's Choir. Not only did the racers have to sing in German correctly, they had to also get pitches and rhythms correct.
The Detour in Kuala Lampur in Season 24, which gave the teams a choice of completing a very complicated trick drink pouring, or playing follow the leader with a DJ music mixer challenge. Both sides of the Detour took hours to complete, and took of more than half the episode.
Charla & Mirna (5 & 11), despite constantly trumpeting about how no one gave Charla any respect because of her size, constantly played up her dwarfism in order to get favorable treatment at airports and from locals.
Don & Mary Jean (6) had no money at the start of the fifth leg, which began with the racers paying tribute at the Gate of No Return in Senegal, Africa where slaves were once shipped away. They couldn't bring themselves to beg for money from the locals afterward for obvious reasons, and thus got money from the other contestants.
Nearly every season has had at least one gay male racer (ranging from Camp Gay to Straight Gay), but the show didn't feature an out lesbian until Season 10, and both lesbian couples they've cast have been over the age of 40. This is probably done in an attempt to avoid Girl on Girl Is Hot, which has its own set of Unfortunate Implications.
Caite's obsession with being the last woman remaining on Season 16, and her constant trumpeting of that fact. It only got worse when Phil brought it up in the finale.
The controversy over the B-52 Bomber during the Vietnam leg in Season 22. See Base Breaker
Unintentionally Sympathetic: Dustin & Kandice were originally cut as the "villains" of Season 10, but a combination of the other teams being either preachy and self-righteous or outright stupid, and the fans being happy to finally see a competent female team who weren't just competing, but were the favorites to win, caused them to jump in popularity, especially after they beat out the Fast Forward in leg 8. Their elimination, which was supposed to lead to much rejoicing from the fanbase, instead led to what would be one of the show's most hated Final 3's.
Joe & Bill can come off as this to fans who only watched the early seasons after some of the later ones, as the "villainous acts" other teams hated them for are now common use strategies. Also, because post-race interviews indicate they didn't want to be portrayed as villains because of the impression it would leave on gay people. They manage to be one of the few teams who actually sound genuine about claiming to be screwed by the editing.
Unpopular Popular Team: Dustin & Kandice were the most popular team on both Seasons 10 and 11 despite being hated by most of the other teams to the point where, in both seasons, others were plotting their elimination.
Values Dissonance: The early seasons have this from time to time, which is shocking considering the first season was filmed in 2001, but some offhanded remarks come off as sexist or homophobic, and there are several uses of the phrase "This is/We're retarded." All things the editors wouldn't include now, but didn't think twice about then.
Vindicated by History: The only reason the show lasted past one season was the high critical praise and the devoted audience, with Sarah Jessica Parker even calling CBS President Les Moonves to save the show. It wasn't until they gave the show a huge advertising push during Season 5 that the show started to catch on with audiences.
Joe & Bill were despised by fans during Season 1. However, after watching the show turn much more competitive in later seasons, they're now seen as the fathers of the Metagame, and the show's first great villain team.
Zach & Flo (Season 3) were considered the show's worst winners for the longest time. However, over time, Zach came to be seen as one of the best individual racers to ever be on the show (Flo, however, is still seen as the most undeserving winner ever), and they are nowhere near as hated as winners such as Freddy & Kendra (6) and Eric & Danielle (11).
The original All-Stars fostered complaints about the validity of teams chosen to Race in a season consisting of "the best of the best." This includes Teri & Ian and John Vito & Jill from Season 3 (for being chosen over fan favorites Ken & Gerard or Derek & Drew, who were considered the best team from the season at the time (this was prior to Zach being fully Rescued from the Scrappy Heap)), Charla & Mirna from Season 5 (for perceived weakness), Eric & Danielle from Season 9 (for not racing together in their original seasons, and featuring someone who had finished 8th), and David & Mary from Season 10 (again, perceived weakness). Though they all raced to varying degrees of success, Charla & Mirna were the only ones who fully redeemed their casting in the eyes of most fans.
Unfinished Business had Amanda & Kris and Mel & Mike from Season 14, Amanda & Kris for being an 8th place team who most people didn't remember, and Mel because most people thought a 70-year-old wouldn't be able to handle the increased competition of an All-Star season. plus, there were three other teams brought back from Season 14, giving a bit of Season 14 overload. they ended up being the first two teams out, so the complaining didn't last long.
Almost no one was happy with the casting for the second All-Stars, so much that the general reaction to the cast list was overwhelming disbelief, with people being more upset by the teams they didn't like than happy about the few teams they liked that were cast. The complaints included Margie & Luke (14), Flight Time & Big Easy (15), and Jet & Cord (16) for being brought back for a third time after competing on Unfinished Business, bringing in Malory (17, 18) to race with Mark (20) after Bopper got injured (for (1) being another manufactured team after the disaster that was Eric & Danielle on All-Stars, (2) them not knowing each other that well and making no sense as a team, and (3) being made up of the weaker members of two teams), Brendon & Rachel (20), who were Big Brother favorites, but despised by Race fans, Caroline & Jennifer and Meghan & Joey (22) for perceived weakness, and Leo & Jamal for being the more hated and less entertaining villain from Season 23 (next to Tim & Marie). John & Jessica (22) would have had more justification on another second chance season, having been the victims of the most embarrassing elimination in race history, but did not go over well on an All-Star cast.
Win Back The Crowd: Season 12. Family Edition was universally hated, and was followed by the disappointing Season 9. Seasons 10 and All-Stars were better, but both ended with unpopular winners. With the show on the verge of cancellation, and the budget cut, the show was restructured, and it ended up saving the series.
Flo herself has some fans who see her as this, claiming that her periodic nervous breakdowns throughout the show are equal parts hilarious and endearing.
Linda (Season 14), especially when she got lost during the Roadblock on leg 2 and wandered way off course, you just wanted to give her a hug when she started crying.
Claire (Season 17) hit herself in the face with a watermelon, was stranded dangling from a bridge when she had trouble using an ascender, spent hours eating through a Chinese buffet looking for a piece of fake food, and through it all was partnered with Brook, who moved at a pace far beyond that of a normal human, and kept up a constant chant of, "Come on, Claire!" whenever Claire started lagging.
Vicki (Season 17), though mainly during their penultimate leg, where Nick was at his nastiest towards her and decided to take a nap at the Detour while Vicki (who had pretty much done all the hard work during that leg) continued to try until Nick convinced her to quit too.
James & Abba (Season 21). Over the course of four legs, Abba got his knee injured, James's father was revealed to have stage 4 cancer, they dropped their money (forcing them to beg in the streets of Bangladesh), and then their cab driver drove off with their bags and passports. They're like the Job of Amazing Racers.
Base Breaker: Marc & Rovilson (Asia Season 2) are possibly the biggest examples of this in any foreign version. They were similar to BJ & Tyler (US Season 9) in that they were either fun and lovable or annoying and needed to stop mugging for the camera. On top of that, with a total of eight first place finishes, some people also began to dislike them for making the season so predictable. Their third place finish was either a depressing end to one of the best teams or a satisfying finale in which one of the most annoying teams got what they deserved.
Designated Villains: Played with and conversed: Jess & Lani became this near the end of Asia Season 4, not by Manipulative Editing (the team had remained relatively Out of Focus and obscure until they started leading the pack, not even a single hint that they were "villainous"), but due to fingers pointed by the remaining teams; they theorised that since that they were the only serious racers left, and the only other "villain" team, Dimple & Suinana, had been eliminated two legs earlier, the rest of the Final 4 needed someone to take out their aggression on.
Terri & Henry, Asia Season 2. They were consistently second-to-last place on several legs. Also, they were spared by two consecutive non-elimination legs despite the huge time deficit between the other racers.
Tania & Ida, Asia Season 3. They were also spared by two consecutive non-elimination legs. The only difference is that they were able get to the final three.
Natasha and Hussein, Asia Season 4. They made several critical mistakes throughout the race such as going to the wrong boat on the first leg, they failed the Roadblocks twice in Malaysia and Australia and were forced to take the 4 hour penalties. Despite of that, they were spared due to the other racer's misfortunes and the leg in Australia being a double-length leg.
Mo & Mos (Australia 1) came last on the first non-elimination leg, were saved from almost certain elimination thanks to Anne-Marie & Tracy quitting the same Roadblock they did, and survived the first leg in South Africa only thanks to karma coming back to bite Richard & Joey in the ass for being unbearable to every other team. They finally were eliminated on leg 5 even though fate seemed to give them every chance to survive, first when they got lucky with an Intersection (allowing them to catch up to Sam & Renae), then again when Chris & Anastasia lost their car keys (and even when, by a small miracle, they found the key, they were unable to open with without Sam & Renae's help).
After Mo & Mos were gone, Matt & Tom slipped into the roll. First, on leg 6, Matt burned through all his arrows on the Rodablock, and only Jeff's charity kept him from having to take a four-hour penalty. They then came in last at the midpoint of the Super Leg, then were the last to check in again at the next Pit Stop, only to be saved by Chris & Anastasia's penalty.
Lucy & Emilia, Australia 2. Despite being outmatched by pretty much every other team, they managed to make it to 5th place due to being saved by the Salvage Pass in the first leg, and everyone else making huge mistakes afterwards. This includes teams taking 4 hour penalties, a team getting so lost that Grant eliminated them in the field while they were still in the middle fo the leg, and a team missing an hours of operation equalizer and being broke on top of that.
Tim Sr. & Tim Jr., who were saved by both of the first two non-elimination legs, and managed to constantly make mistakes that sent them to the back of the pack. They managed to get to the Final 3 and win the Race.
Henry & Jennifer (China Rush 3), they were saved by 2 non-elimination legs, they were saved from elimination twice when one team got lost and another team got penalized for leaving their bags in the wrong area, stayed in the back of the pack consistently and always placed in the bottom 3 (except for 2 legs), yet they managed to last 7 legs.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Zabrina & Joe Jer from the first Asia season are beloved by fans due to being very nice and a break from the usual all-female teams of gorgeous ladies who look too much alike, and for being the first all-female team to ever win the race, something which absolutely thrilled fans of the franchise as a whole.
Following Rovilson & Marc's loss to Adrian & Collin in Asia Season 2, some fans cried that the producers rigged the finale so that a team with a deaf person could win in their home country, nevermind the fact that Adrian & Collin had the hardest time with taxis the leg and that Rovilson & Marc had a sizable lead on everyone going into the final memory task. There were also some people who were convinced that the producers were racist against Filipinos.
In Israel Season 2, fans were upset that Bar & Inna won. The final task had teams travel from one building to another on a tightrope, using only each other as support. Fans stated that Bar & Inna, who arrived to the task last, had a stiffer cable than the other two teams, thus making the cable easier to walk across, never mind the fact that Bar & Inna, being models, obviously weigh less than two middle aged brothers. It was also argued that it was rigged so a male team wouldn't win again, even though the fan favorite team was a married couple. If rigging was involved, you would think that they'd have the fan favorite team win.
Fetish Fuel: The Turkish Bath task in Australia Season 2, where teams had to scrub each other with a bar of soap until it dissolved and revealed the clue. This was especially true with Sarah, who decided the best way to use the soap faster would be to straddle her partner James. Keep in mind that they're both in their bathing suits during the entirety of this task.
In the first season of Asia, Allan Wu was very stiff when greeting the teams, and his Dramatic Pauses did not flow very well (as he placed them after "you are team number..." instead of before, and did it for every single team, not just for those at the top or bottom of the standings). He fixed these issues on the second season.
Like Wu, Grant Bowler was kind of stiff and awkward in the first season of the Australian version, and seemed to be doing his best to copy Phil and Allan Wu. By the second season he had loosened up quite a bit, and had self-tailored the host Catch Phrases.
Love to Hate: Paul (Australia 2) seemingly relished this role. Everything he said either made the audience or the other teams despise him more. In leg 5m he knocked over Grace while running for a clue, supposedly by accident. However, he had clashed with Grace earlier in the leg, and stated to the camera that he would deliberately run over anyone who got in his way. The level of Manipulative Editing used on them puts the other teams' fear/dislike of them on equal levels with the likes of Rob & Amber (US 7 & 11) and Dustin & Kandice (US 10 & 11). It also helped that Steve wore a Cobra Command hat.
Terri, Asia Season 2. Constantly nagging at her husband about whatever blunder they had come across. She did that so much that her husband would often break down in tears.
Natalie Glebova, Asia Season 3. Yes, the same woman from Miss Universe 2005. She pretty much complained about every detail that was outside her comfort zone, claiming that being dirty was the lowest form of existence and that sleeping at the airport had got to be the worst thing that had ever happened to her. Did she expect that the Amazing Race would be like the Miss Universe Pageant?
Amy, China Rush Season 1. She treated Sean horribly throughout the race and would constantly get angry for the most minor reasons. She even annoyed other teams with her attitude.
Rachel, China Rush Season 1. Starting on Leg 7, she started yelling at and berating Charlie. She whined about everything, some of which weren't even true and acted like not being in first was the end of the world.
Scrub: Joseph (Australia 2) twice cited his reason for wanting to U-Turn Paul was that "he wasn't running the race right". Noted, five other teams U-Turned Paul & Steve as well, but they did it because they saw them as a potential threat and thought Paul was a jerk, Joseph gave a diatribe on how he was running the race "wrong".
That One Task: Asia Season 1, Episode 3 had a Roadblock where one team member had to dig deep in sand to search for a mini surfboard. This proved so difficult that it took two hours for the first surfboard to be found, at least an hour and half more for two more surfboards to be found, well into the night for one especially unlucky racer to find her surfboard, and five out of nine teams gave up on the Roadblock entirely and went for the 4-hour penalty. (Although it wasn't helped by most team members somehow not thinking to use or ask for shovels until much later on.)
Grace (Australia 2) during a cooking challenge mentioned that if a wife couldn't cook, "then what else is she good for."
The final task to decide Canada Season 1's Final 3 was a street performance challenge that required teams to earn fifty dollars performing on the street. Sisters Vanessa & Celina (a model and actress, respectively), were the only women left in the race at that point, and Celina easily blew away everyone at the challenge almost solely due to her looks, and they went from last to first and into the Final 3. As the same challenge saw the elimination of fan favorites Jet & Dave, the fan outcry was that the sisters had been given an unfair advantage in the final task. Never mind that these types of tasks are always included in the U.S. version to balance out the brute force task that favor the strong male racers, and that Vanessa & Celina had been put at a huge disadvantage several times before that due to such physical challenges, but no one had ever complained about Jet & Dave having a huge advantage during those.