Suffering from a severely reduced budget after All-Stars, and risking cancellation once again following a streak of seasons with disappointing ratings, the twelfth season of The Amazing Race had a lot to live up to in order to keep the show afloat. The cast initially took a lot of flack for 15 out of the 22 contestants coming from California, but ultimately the combination of better prepared teams and a shift away from physically demanding tasks to tricky mental tasks resulted in the longer-lasting teams being markedly different than seasons past, with three of the top six teams being blood related. The teams were a very tightly matched lot, with close finishes being the norm (including five teams hitting the mat within seconds of each other in the third leg) and no one emerging truly dominant for long, and despite the early complaints, became one of the most liked casts, with it often being cited as having the series' most likable Final 3.
As far as race mechanics go, the Yield was replaced this season by the U-Turn, which has the same rules regarding usage but is placed shortly after the Detour and forces the affected team to go back and complete the side of the Detour they passed up before returning to the U-Turn marker and the clue behind it. In addition, the Marked for Elimination penalty for finishing in last place on a non-elimination leg was retired after two seasons and replaced with the Speed Bump, an extra task that the last-place team must complete in the following leg. Both have been used since.
The season as whole was a huge success, and, like Season 5 before it, managed to breathe new life into the long-running franchise, giving teams other than the formerly dominant alpha males and young dating couples a greater chance of winning the race, and, like Season 5, is thus considered one of the series' best. Similarly, like Season 5, Season 12 saved the show from imminent cancellation, and a season that many expected to be a final coda for the series, one last hurrah following All-Stars, instead was just the first race in a new era for the series.
Thomas Kyle "T.K." Erwin & Rachel Rosales
Hippie dating couple. Despite sharing the "hippie" designation with Season 9 winners B.J. & Tyler, they were the opposite in every way, being calm and mellow instead of loud and outgoing. Their ability to stay calm and focused in the face of both their own multiple mistakes and the unpredictable stresses of the Race helped them to persevere all the way to victory, with Rachel finishing the infamously tricky Final Roadblock a mere 8 minutes ahead of the intelligent Christina.
- Badass Adorable: Despite Rachel's small stature and her humble career as a florist, she excelled at the Detours (notably only taking minutes to hoist all five pieces of furniture with the pulley in Amsterdam after T.K. was unable to complete a single knot) and was the strategic driving force behind the team. T.K. even credited her as such at the Finish Line, saying she beat out a bunch of very competitive people.
- Born Lucky: Near the beginning of leg 7, they forgot their clue at a cafe while asking for directions to Empoli, Italy. It took them a while to notice it was gone, but they turned around and found it where they had left it, their entire race saved by a woman holding onto the clue for them during the interim.
- Chekhov's Hobby: Rachel's job as a florist helped them to breeze through flower related Detours in legs 8 and 9.
- Elimination Statement: Subverted in episode 9. They got one over their Time-Compression Montage at the end of the leg, only to be told it was a non-elimination upon hitting the Pit Stop.
- Failed a Spot Check: Essentially a Running Gag; they missed something crucial almost every episode. Most notably in leg 2 when Phil watched as they rode their bakfietsen right past the Pit Stop, looking in the other direction. T.K. also took four tries to do the ultralight Roadblock in Italy (which means he was up in the air for over an hour and a half), when none of the other teams took more than one.
- Good Is Not Dumb
- Granola Girl / Guy
- Holier Than Thou: T.K. decried Shana & Jennifer's use of the U-Turn, claiming that it was putting a target on their backs. It should be noted that they finished second-to-last on that leg, only beating the U-Turned team, meaning Shana & Jennifer might have saved them with the U-Turnnote .
- Language Barrier: In Alaska:Rachel: It was easier to communicate with taxi drivers...T.K.: ...in India.
- Love at First Sight: T.K. said he felt this way about Rachel.
- Mellow Fellow: T.K., naturally inviting endless stoner jokes.T.K.: This has been too much, man. I'm too mellow to handle this.
- Nice Guys Finish Last: Discussed by T.K., though he averted and defied the trope.
- No Sense of Direction: Just like with Failed a Spot Check, they found themselves getting lost almost every episode, even costing themselves 1st place a few times when they got lost with a lead.
- One Head Taller
- Paranoia Fuel: In-Universe, as T.K. started freaking out in the finale when they couldn't find Ron & Christina at the airport, even though the board said it was the only flight to Anchorage that day.
- Smooch of Victory
- This Is a Competition: This Is A Race: T.K., during the penultimate leg, when they had been running neck and neck with Nate & Jen and Nick & Don for the entire leg, said he didn't want to see Nick & Don go, but they were in competition with them.
- Time-Compression Montage: Leg 9 played out like this for them, when a bad flight choice put them three hours behind the other teams, and everyone had checked in by the time they got to the first clue in Japan.
- Underdogs Never Lose
- Weak, but Skilled: Rachel might just be the least physically imposing winner ever, but she was still a strong racer.
Ronald "Ron" Hsu & Christina Hsu
- Ronald: I'm optimistic with the real truth flavor.
Asian father-daughter pair. Ronald became infamous in the second episode for harshly (and counterproductively) berating Christina, but immediately recognized the error of his ways and sought to improve himself throughout the course of the race. Whether he actually did is up to audience discretion, but Christina's ability to manage her father on top of the challenges of the race propelled them to become the first parent-child team to reach the Final 3, as well as dominate most of the last three legs. Only Christina's breakdown at the Final Roadblock (in contrast to her ability to stay calm and focused up until that point) put them in (a solid) 2nd place, the highest of any parent-child team for the first 23 seasons. Ron's lunacy, combined with Christina's strong racing ability, earned them a spot on Unfinished Business.
- Abusive Parents: After a relatively quiet first leg, Ron berated Christina throughout the second leg (and rattled off a number of fabulous one-liners in the process), told her she disappointed him, and that she needed to lose weight, setting up his Redemption Quest character arc over the course of the season.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
- In Burkina Faso, none of whom's four national languages are German, Ron said "wunderbar" to the ticketing agent who found them a faster flight to Lithuania.
- In leg 7:Ronald: I dont speak any Italian, do you? "Prego" something, is "Please," I think.Christina: Isn't Prego... a spaghetti sauce?
- Asian and Nerdy: Christina, who previously attended Duke University and got an Asian Studies program started there. She immediately became friends with Black and Nerdy Azaria & Hendekea, eventually marrying the former.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: When Ron wasn't being abusive, he tended to get distracted very easily, and Christina had to constantly yell at him to get him back on task.
- Bittersweet Ending: They might have lost, but they did reconcile most of their relationship issues.
- Call-Back: Upon receiving a catamaran for winning leg 6, Ron instantly screamed "We know what that is!", in reference to Charla & Mirna not knowing what it was in the previous season.
- Character Development: Ron is one of the few racers to actually fully succeed at his Redemption Quest, and is also one of the few racers who managed to become nicer later in the the season once stress and fatigue had set in.
- Chirping Crickets: At the end of their dance in the Shake Your Booty Detour in leg 4.
- Delusions of Eloquence: Many of Ron's statements would come off as a mix between eloquent and insane, such as saying a ticketing agent was "fossilizing her mind to Air France," when she was only checking Air France flights, and he wanted her to "expand beyond the fossilization of just these carriers."
- Failed a Spot Check: They could not find the numbers at the Roadblock in Italy, though they were pretty much locked into 3rd at that point, so it didn't cost them any positions.
- Feeling Their Age: Averted by Ron, who was very fast for a 58-year-old, and was able to keep up with the younger contestants on foot. Even the hernia didn't stop him for long.
- Game-Breaking Injury: Ronald developed a hernia in leg 2, which hindered him in the short term, but did not come up much later in the season.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: Invoked by Ronald during his beratement of Nick in the second leg, calling Don the good cop, and Nick the bad cop in the way they treated the ticket agent.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: It did not take much to push Ron into a tirade of gibberish.
- HeelFace Turn: Ronald, who was a lot more likable in the last few legs after he had stopped being verbally abusive, and completed his Redemption Quest.
- Holier Than Thou: Ronald went off on Nick for being rude to the ticket agent in leg 2, saying his actions made them look bad by association.
- Hypocrite: Ron. See Politeness Judo.
- The Load: Ronald, who often did nothing but criticize Christina while not doing anything to help progress in the tasks. It got to the point that Christina had to act as the de facto parent in the relationship.
- The Millstone: Ron played this early on, such as when he forced Christina to switch Detours in the Netherlands, then complained about the new Detour before they even reached it, or in Burkina Faso when he forced Christina to follow T.K. & Rachel in the wrong direction, then forced her to take the Teach It side of the Detour, when Learn it was more in line with their strengths.
- The Navigator: They were able to deftly navigate around the closed roads in Italy, making their way to the Roadblock by back roads.
- Omniglot: Christina, who seemed to know at least a little language of whatever country they were in at the moment.
- Oh, Crap!: Christina, upon seeing that she volunteered to drive a taxi in Japan. She even dropped an f-bomb under her breath.
- Politeness Judo:
- Ron discusses this in the second leg, as it is his philosophy as a salesman. He probably could have taken it more to heart, as right afterwards he went off on Nick for being rude to the ticket agent.
- In leg 10, Christina used this to talk their way onto the first flight to Taiwan, then asked the ticketing agent not to help any of the other teams. Even though this never works, that time it inexplicably did, and the agent refused Nate & Jen's request to get on the same flight, even though she had just put Ron & Christina on it, and Christina was still standing there at the counter, smiling at them.
- Redemption Quest: Ronald was very hard on his daughter near the beginning of the season, and spent the rest of the race trying to fix his relationship with her. Ron wavered every so often, and while it's hard to believe people can change in only a matter of weeks, there's no question he was nothing but supportive in the final legs.
- Running Gag: Ronald's "Who's Your Daddy" T-shirts.
- The Scrappy: Ronald In-Universe, to a number of the other teams, due to his treatment of Christina. This was particularly true with Kynt & Vyxsin, whose dislike of Ron carried over to Unfinished Business.
- The Smart Guy: Christina, despite being below average at physical tasks, is still considered one of the strongest racers ever, simply because of her mental acumen (as well as managing an almost Flo-level partner).
- Smash Cut: During the Taxi Roadblock, the cameras are switching between Nick, Jen, and Christina struggling to navigate the streets of Osaka, then suddenly it cuts back to the train station, where Ron and Don are sharing a snack.
- So Proud of You: Christina when Ron learned to control his behavior.
- Talkative Loon: Ron has a very... creative grasp of the English language, leading to memorable phrases such as "optimistic with the real truth flavor" and "boogers in your bones".
- Tempting Fate: In the middle of leg 9, Christina said she was never going to drive in Japan, which was immediately followed by the ominous gong sound effect used when someone does something wrong. Their very next clue was for the taxi Roadblock, which she did.
- Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Christina frequently had to be the more mature one next to Ron's lunacy.
- Weak, but Skilled: Christina.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: They had this kind of relationship when Christina was young, as Ronald traveled a lot.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Heights for Ron.
- Wiper Start: Christina did this while trying to use her blinkers during the Taxi Roadblock.
Nicolas "Nick" Fulks & Donald "Don" Jerousek
Pilot and his grandfather, the son and father-in-law, respectively, of singer Robbie Fulks. Donald became known for seemingly having done everything at one point in his life, with his pre-Final 3 accomplishments montage consisting of the tasks he applied his vast experience to. Though they generally could be found at the back of the pack, they passed seemingly stronger teams by racing consistently while other teams succumbed to mistakes and Killer Fatigue, finishing 3rd when Nick finished the Final Roadblock significantly after the other two teams. Donald is currently the oldest person to make the Final 3.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: During leg 7, teams received an e-mail from someone back home. In their letter, Don's daughter asked him not to embarrass her on the show.
- Call-Back: When faced with a Fast Forward requiring the team to get permanent tattoos, Don asked why he couldn't have gotten the one where they shave your hair off.
- Cool Old Guy: Nick promises the audience that Donald is such in the pre-Race interview, and indeed he acts like a grown teenager.
- Defeat by Modesty: Averted. Don did not hesitate to strip down to his underwear to complete the ditch vaulting Roadblock.
- Drives Like Crazy: Don did everything from driving ten below the speed limit, to turning his wipers on by mistake, to getting getting a flat tire because he veered into the curb.
- Fan Disservice: Don stripping down to his underwear to pole-vault over a ditch.
- Griefer: Because of the way the driveway of the Playboy Mansion is set up, the cars were all lined up in a row at the Starting Line. So, once they had laid claim to the first car in line, Don told Nicolas to take his time putting their bags in the car, and then made him idle in the driver's seat until all the money had been counted, as they were in the first car, and none of the other teams could leave until they got out of the way. Cue the other teams honking their horns and yelling at them to move.
- Interchangeable Asian Cultures: In Japan, Nick wondered aloud if the Chinese father/daughter team of Ron & Christina spoke Japanese. Christina did, as she had spent a semester in Japan.
- Intergenerational Friendship: They're essentially an inter-generational funny guys team.
- Malaproper: At the beginning of leg 5, Don pointed out an internet "buffet".
- The Münchausen: Don's wide range of talents were cultivated through his years of experience with jobs and hobbies such as farming, mining, masonry, printing, hunting, fishing, rowing a boat, military service (Marines), and driving thousands of miles a year.
- No Sense of Direction: Any time Nick did a Roadblock involving navigating, he managed to get lost.
- Old Master: Over the course of his long life, he has developed skill in basically everything. He's not the oldest person to reach the Finish Line for nothing.
- Read the Freaking Manual: They forgot to pick up their gear at 6th Avenue Outfitters in the finale, with Don berating Nick for neglecting to read the clue (post-race, Nick claimed that he was warned to always read the clue at the start of the race, but he thought it wouldn't happen to him). Luckily, this only gave Nick less time to work out the Final Roadblock rather than completely putting them out of contention.
- Running Gag: Don getting to a task, only to reveal it was yet another thing he had experience with during his life. A montage of such moments was used in the Previously On recap for the finale.
- Shirtless Scene: Donald at the ditch vaulting Roadblock. Full of Fan Disservice
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Donald was your typical foul mouthed old man, dropping several f-bombs in the first leg alone.Don: Nick is quite strong, he carries my bag. He's like a bitch for me, it's perfect.
- Smash Cut: During the Taxi Roadblock, the cameras are switching between Nick, Jen, and Christina struggling to navigate the streets of Osaka, then suddenly it cuts back to the train station, where Ron and Don are sharing a snack.
- We Wait: When they hit construction while driving through Italy at night, they were the only team to wait until the roads opened again, which got them to the Roadblock at the same time as Ronald & Christina, who left the highway and took a bunch of back roads.
- Weak, but Skilled: Donald. Nick also deserves credit for calmly figuring out how to correct his mistake at the picket fence counting Detour in Lithuania, when he counted pickets that he was not supposed to. Most racers degenerate into bickering and meltdowns in such situations, or at the very least start the entire task over, instead of just subtracting the offending pickets from their total.
- Wiper Start: Donald did this in Ireland, starting the wipers while trying to signal. Nicolas laughed and told him to keep driving and turn off the wipers later.
Nathan "Nate" Hagstrom & Jennifer "Jen" Parker
- Nathan: The best team is gonna finish last, and thats gonna be Jen and I.Jen: Gonna finish last?Nathan: I mean finish the last leg first.
Couple attempting to fix their relationship after Nathan cheated on Jennifer. Despite this, it became quickly clear that Jen was not entirely sympathetic herself, as her warped idea of competition and gender roles had the two endlessly bickering and Jen constantly getting personally offended at other teams catching up to or getting ahead of them. Despite being otherwise adept at the race, their inability to work together constantly held them back, with their arguments often costing them that ever elusive 1st place finish. It finally caught up with them in Taiwan, where Jen's insistence that they take a train and a bus over a cab during a tight race to avoid last left them eliminated in 4th place, on Jen's birthday.
- Aesop Amnesia: Leg 8 started with them saying they had learned their lesson about arguing after seeing how embarrassing and disgusting they'd been acting so far, but no sooner had they landed in India than they started fighting again.
- Alpha Bitch: Jennifer.
- Always Second Best: Their inability to come in first became a Running Gag. After losing 1st in leg 4 by a split second, Jen complained that it was unfair for Azaria & Hendekea to have gotten their third leg win when they hadn't been on top yet. Later, they finished 2nd to the Fast Forward when Nate convinced Jen not to go for it, and it was instead taken by a team behind them.
- Animals Hate Him: They seemingly had issues with every animal they were asked to interact with. Their donkey in Ireland wouldn't move for them, Nate's camel knocked his milking bowl in Burkina Faso, their chicken, also in Burkina Faso, fought them as they tried getting it in their bag, their goat, during the delivery Roadblock also in Burkina Faso, started eating Jen's clue when she was asking for directions, and a tiny random dog wouldn't stop annoying them in India.Jennifer (at the camel milking Roadblock): Nathan, you gotta be gentle. Youre handling nipples.
- Call-Back: At the beginning of the second leg, Jen quoted Frank, Chip, and B.J. with, "It's on like Donkey Kong." This makes then the only team to invoke it to finish lower than 2nd.
- Chirping Crickets: At the end of their dance in the Shake Your Booty Detour in leg 4, Jen asked the judges if their dance was good, to which the response was crickets.
- Competition Freak: Nate called Jen this.
- Death Glare: This was the look Jen constantly seemed to constantly have on her face when looking at Nate.
- Double Standard: Many of Jen's complaints towards Nate stemmed from her own warped views of gender roles, and his inability to live up to her view of what a man should be able to do.Nate: I don't understand how you can't [make a flower garland], Jen, you're a girl.Jen: I didn't understand how you couldn't row a boat. You're a guy.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Very much averted. Not that Nate was innocent, but Jen was definitely the more hated one with the way she frequently emasculated Nate, yelling at him for not being enough of a man at certain tasks.
- Extreme Omni-Goat: At the delivery Roadblock in Burkina Faso, a goat started eating Jen's clue as she was asking for directions.
- Failing a Taxi:
- In leg 6, they had the lead following the final clue, but were unable to find a cab driver who would let them into his cab because they were wet, allowing Ronald & Christina to pass them up. They then got turned away from the Pit Stop for getting a ride from a private vehicle, and had to go back to the end of the Detour to find a real taxi, dropping them behind Kynt & Vyxsin.
- It happened to them again in leg 9. Though they left the Detour first, they couldn't find a cab who knew where the Pit Stop was, and Ronald & Christina passed them for 1st again.
- Global Ignorance:Nate: Jen and I know absolutely nothing about Taiwan except... we think Thai food's pretty good.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Rumored to be the result of Executive Meddling due to the producers having such little usable footage from the first leg due to their constant swearing.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Jen would go off at the slightest provocation, and considering that Nate spent a lot of time yelling, she had a lot of opportunities to go off.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Their complaint about T.K. & Rachel in the penultimate leg. They said that they were working their butts off to stay in the race, while T.K. & Rachel were just cruising along (not that this was true, it's just what Nate & Jen thought).
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl
- Hypocrite: During their meltdown at the garland threading Detour in India, Jen lambasted Nate for making an issue out of gender, specifically her not knowing how to sew despite being a girl.
- Insane Troll Logic: When they were looking for the bridegroom to deliver their wedding garland to in India, Jen tried handing it to an elephant in the street.
- Ironic Birthday: They were eliminated on Jen's birthday.
- Jerkass: Both of them.
- Lack of Empathy: Jen. If her constant hypocritical fighting with Nate wasn't clue enough, her way of taking it personally any time another team would dare to catch up to or pass them, or the way she seemed to think the other teams should just step aside and let them get 1st, made it abundantly clear.
- Last-Second Word Swap: When told they were the last team to arrive on the penultimate leg, Nate's response was a drawn out, "Ffff-" which he turned into, "fudge."
- The Masochism Tango: Probably second only to Tara & Wil in the confusion their relationship caused the fans. They honestly seemed to hate being around each other most of the time. They even stated in an interview after the race that the show almost killed their relationship.
- No Sense of Direction: They lost a 45 minute lead in Lithuania due to poor navigation.
- Once Done, Never Forgotten: Jen said that she would get so much crap from the dancing world for failing the Shake Your Booty Detour.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with Jennifer McCall. Vyxsin's real name is also Jennifer.
- Pint-Size Powerhouse: Jennifer, according to Nathan.
- Read The Freaking Clue: Jen forgot to pick up her receipts during the gas delivery Roadblock in India, and only figured out she was supposed to when the woman at the second apartment asked her if she had forgotten something.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: Jen's insistence on taking a train and a bus instead of a cab to the Detour in their final leg, just because a local told them traffic was bad. Note, it was nighttime, not rush hour, the only time when taking a train over a cab might be beneficial, and she repeatedly shot down Nate the multiple times he said they should take a cab.
- Record Needle Scratch: After Nate declared that the best team would finish last, leading him to hastily correct himself.
- Running Gag: Their frustration at their inability to finish first.
- Stubborn Mule: An inability to control their donkey nearly got them eliminated in the first leg. It probably had something to do with their constant yelling.
- Technician vs. Performer: Jen claimed to be an expert dancer before the Shake Your Booty Detour. While they performed the dance according to directions, they were penalized for forgetting to include any creativity.
- Villainous Breakdown: On the penultimate leg, having T.K. & Rachel constantly catch up to them led to Jen becoming increasingly agitated at their mellowness, on top of the day being her birthday, and Nate still being "mean" to her. She ended up bleeding so much time arguing with Nate over taking a bus after her transportation screw-up (taking a subway instead of a cab) that they were eliminated.
Kent "Kynt" Cothron & Jennifer "Vyxsin" Fiala (The Goths)
- Vyxsin: Youre like a little goth action hero.
Dating Hot Topic models. Their unique wardrobe made for memorable interactions with the local cultures, which, combined with their showman behavior, made them fan favorites. They started off as solid racers until Killer Fatigue hit hard in Italy, as they got lost and earned the show's first Speed Bump. Though they managed to scratch their way back into the game in the next leg, Kynt botched the use of the U-Turn when he inexplicably used it on Nick & Don, who were far ahead of them at that point, which led to Nathan & Jennifer passing them on the Roadblock and leaving them in 5th. The "best dressed" team raced again in Unfinished Business due to their popularity.
- Always Second Best: Though they didn't complain nearly as much about it as Nate & Jen.
- Cane Fu: At the Shake Your Booty Detour, Kynt started twirling his dancing sticks in front of him one-handed.
- Consolation Prize: Upon their elimination, Phil gave them the award for being the best dressed couple in Race history, which excited them as it was the only thing they did manage to win.
- Driving Stick: Kynt broke their car trying to drive stick in Italy, putting them in last and getting them the Speed Bump. It was also the main thing they cited working on for Unfinished Business.
- The Fashionista: They weren't awarded the "best dressed" couple for nothing. One Deleted Scene in particular showed Vyxsin trying to lighten their bags by throwing out some of their makeup and hair product, only for Kynt to sneak everything into his bag when she wasn't looking.
- Fingerless Gloves: They both wore pairs of these at times.
- Freaky Fashion, Mild Mind
- Grave Clouds: Averted. Their intro features them frolicking through a sunny graveyard.
- In-Series Nickname: The Goths.
- Insane Troll Logic: When they hit the ditch vaulting Roadblock, Kynt took the clue, "Which of you is the acrobat?" to mean that the Roadblock would involve the sheep on the other side of the ditch.
- Keet: Hendekea describes Kynt as if "he runs around like he's on speed."
- Large Ham: Their entire nature was to be over the top about everything.Christina: It's like a performance every time I see them.Ron: Like kabuki theater.
- Male Gaze: In leg 6, Vyxsin wore a tanktop that showed off her rather generous cleavage. Said cleavage got a lot of airtime.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Vyxsin even admitted that Kynt brought out the masculine side in her, and that he brings out a chivalrous side in her (such as holding doors for him).Kynt: I'm not one of those "get down and dirty" kind of boys. I'm kind of prissy.
- Military Brat: Vyxsin, which which caused a bit of friction considering her dress and choice of boyfriend.
- My Nayme Is
- Nice Hat: Their shocking pink cowboy hats.
- No Sense of Direction: They got lost in Italy during a very long drive at night, though it was after a Pit Stop at which the racers got little sleep, and they had to face a literal detour when a highway was shut down for construction.
- Only Known by Their Nickname
- Paranoia Fuel:
- At the Vilnius airport, instead of joining the line at Czech Air, they instead went to a travel agent, In-Universe freaking out all the other teams and sending them in a mad scramble for tickets that ended up leaving Azaria & Hendekea far behind the other teams and eventually eliminated.
- In-Universe. Nate & Jen were convinced they had supernatural powers with the way they always managed to pop up when Nate & Jen thought they had gotten a lead.
- Perky Goth: The only things that identify them as being goths are the clothes and the constant references to being goths.
- Plucky Comic Relief
- Read the Freaking Manual: Read The Freaking Clue: Though the meltdown in Italy and the botched U-Turn are more memorable, it was Kynt who ultimately sunk their race with the gas delivery Roadblock when he failed to grab the receipts from the doors of the apartments. Though Jen made the same mistake, Kynt went all the way back to the gas service before being turned back to retrieve the receipts, all but finishing them off.
- Real Men Wear Pink
- Rose-Haired Sweetie: Vyxsin.
- Running Gag: They made a reference to being goths every five minutes, almost to the point of parody.
- Shoo Out the Clowns
- This Is a Competition: This Is A Race: They got decidedly cutthroat in their last leg, in contrast with their happy-go-lucky attitudes up to that point, repeatedly saying how they would do anything they had to to stay in the game.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Though they're actually the same height, and share clothes because of this.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Vyxsin's pink hair.
Azaria Azene & Hendekea Azene
Siblings and engineers, they were the first BrotherSister Team cast since Season 3. They started off dominating, winning three of the first four legs. However, Azaria's domineering attitude put a strain on their relationship, his control issues reaching their climax as they scrambled around the Vilnius airport, trying to book tickets to Croatia. Said tickets would prove to be their downfall, as the ticketing agent mistakenly printed them business class tickets instead of economy, and they were unable to switch before the plane left. Though delayed flights would put them withing striking distance of the other teams, they were never able to catch up, and they went out in 6th.
- Black and Nerdy: Leading to them immediately becoming close friends with Asian and Nerdy Christina.
- BrotherSister Team
- Call It Karma: Azaria said that Nick & Don got hit by karma after they refused to share what flights they had found at the Air France office in Burkina Faso, then got the last tickets on that flight scooped out from under them by a team in line behind them.
- The Charmer: Hendekea said that Azaria can convince anyone to make the decisions he wants them to make.
- Control Freak: Hendekea called Azaria this, and it really came out at the Vilnius airport in their last leg.
- Directionless Driver: Azaria made a derisive comment about "women and directions" when Hendekea jumped out of the car to ask how to get to LAX.
- Failed a Spot Check: While racing Nate & Jen to the fourth Pit Stop, which was just inside the gate at the Hotel de Ville in Ouagadougou, Azaria overlooked the Pit Stop, and started running off in the wrong direction until Hendekea was able to get his attention. Though they still won the leg, his little detour turned the footrace into a photo finish.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Discussed, in that Azaria does not think he has one, except when it comes to his sister.
- Insufferable Genius: Azaria would not even let his own sister forget how brilliant he was.
- Oh, Crap!: When they found out they had business class tickets to Croatia.
- Potty Emergency: Hendekea had one early in leg 4, but there was enough of the leg left that they still ended up winning the leg.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: They didn't bother to check that their tickets to Croatia were economy class after purchasing them, and didn't find out until they were trying to check into the flight.
- Sibling Rivalry: Though it really only caused them issues in their last leg.
- The Smart Guy: They were able to jump from 6th to 1st in leg 3 on the Learn It Detour, memorizing their words in a matter of minutes.
- Technicolor Science: Their intro features them both looking at a beaker full of a lime green liquid.
- This Is A Race: Hendekea's response to Jen complaining about them always coming in 1st was that they were here to run the race, and she wouldn't be comfortable letting someone else beat them when they had a shot at 1st.
Shana Wall & Jennifer McCall
Ryan Seacrest's ex-girlfriend and her friend. Though they showed a surprising potential in the first few legs, their lack of teamwork would eventually cause their downfall. Scraping along at the bottom of the pack in the fourth leg, Shana made the decision to use the U-Turn on Lorena & Jason, even though Jennifer was fully against ever using it on anyone. Jennifer's inability to get over what she considered to be a "grave strategic mistake," would send their teamwork into a downward spiral, and they would spend the next leg focusing more on proving they were right rather than actually racing, and they argued their way out of the Race in 7th place.
- Alpha Bitch: They had an entitled streak, did not handle being outside of their comfort zones very well, and suffered from culture shock. This came out most clearly during their train ride in Burkina Faso, where they complained about the smell and the flies.
- Audience Surrogate: Not because the audience was supposed to relate with a pair of pampered Hollywood blondes in any way, but because each represented a side in an argument which had been burning hot withing the fanbase for the past few seasons. Jennifer represented the Call It Karma side, who thought the Yield/U-Turn and other such cutthroat strategies were dirty play that should not be allowed, and teams that used them would be punished by karma. While Shana represented the This Is A Race side, who thought any strategy that did not break rules or endanger another team was fair, and the Yield/U-Turn was part of the game, just another tool that a team could use to get themselves ahead. Fittingly, their arguing over this only served to get them eliminated.
- Call It Karma: Jennifer got very rattled after using the U-Turn to stay in the race, repeatedly saying that is was wrong for them to do so.
- Directionless Driver: Shana would not let Jennifer stop and ask for directions in Lithuania when they were lost, as it would "kill their time."
- Dumb Blonde
- Failed a Spot Check: While running to the U-Turn mat, they saw T.K. & Rachel, who they had passed on the Detour, running up behind them, and mistook them for Lorena & Jason, which is why they U-Turned Lorena & Jason despite having an hour and a half lead on them.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Shana's use of the U-Turn got this reaction out of Jennifer and T.K. & Rachel.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Jennifer got frustrated during the camel milking Roadblock, and started frantically pulling at the camel's teat, only the angle of the camera and the speed and placement of her hand made it look like she was doing something very different from milking.
- Global Ignorance: During Nate & Jen's elimination call, Nate talked about how Ron & Christina got around easily in Taiwan because they spoke Chinese, after which Jennifer can be heard saying, "I thought they spoke Mandarin."
- Living Emotional Crutch: At the Elimination Station, Jennifer's breakdown over the U-Turn, and her further falling apart at the Elimination Station was revealed to be because she had never been away from her husband for more than five days, and was losing it in his absence.
- Ms. Fanservice: Deconstructed. They were cast (stunt cast even) for this role, but without ready access to their pedicures, they looked increasingly ragged as the race went on.
- No Sense of Direction: Their arguing caused them to get lost in Lithuania and led to their elimination.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with Jennifer Parker, Vyxsin's real name is also Jennifer.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: If it had been up to Jennifer, they would not have used the U-Turn, even though they thought they were in second-to-last at that point, and they mistook T.K. & Rachel running behind them for Lorena & Jason, the one team they thought they were in front of at that point. She called it "strategically, a grave mistake," and became convinced that, due to the U-Turn, Lorena & Jason were going catch up and zoom past them, even though the whole point of the U-Turn is to delay teams behind you and prevent them from passing you.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: They discussed in their intro how they wanted to use their looks to their advantage. Like most other teams who bring this up, fully averted.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Jennifer's made statements that using the U-Turn was bad karma, and a grave strategic mistake, and though they did get eliminated in the next leg, it was more due to Jennifer being unable to let the whole issue go than any karmic backlash.
- Surprise Difficulty: Discussed In-Universe at the start of the second leg.
- This Is A Race: Shana's response to Jennifer's complaining about them using the U-Turn on Lorena & Jason.
Lorena Segura & Jason Widener
Young dating couple. They looked like early favorites, embodying the typical young, fit couple who had dominated the All-Stars era, and they even won the second leg. However, Lorena suffered a meltdown during the camel-milking Roadblock in leg 3, which, even though they managed to come back and survive the leg, left them an hour and a half behind the other teams. The lack of an equalizer in the next leg, combined with getting hit with the show's first U-Turn, meant they never had a chance to catch up, and they finished in 8th place.
- Chewing the Scenery: Lorena, as part of her Spicy Latina nature, would start doing this any time she got excited or upset. Her most epic moment came when she started breaking down during the camel milking Roadblock.Lorena: "Baby there's no more MIIILK!"
- Directionless Driver/Backseat Driver: While driving through Ireland in the first leg, Jason broke off to drive in his own direction despite Lorena telling him the other teams had gone another way, and they were not following the directions she had gotten. Jason continued to insist everything was fine even though they went way out of their way.
- Face Palm: Jason, when Lorena started her epic breakdown during the camel milking Roadblock.
- Fatal Flaw: Discussed in leg 1. Lorena called her inability to control her emotions this. It would come to pass when she lost it on the camel milking Roadblock.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Jason was not happy about the U-Turn, and confronted Shana & Jennifer about it at the Elimination Station. When Shana told the story of seeing them running up behind them at the U-Turnnote , he didn't believe them, and started saying it was impossible, because they were an hour and a half behind... so he was getting upset about being U-Turned when he really didn't think they had a shot to catch up to the other teams to begin with.
- Obi-Wan Moment: When Lorena was crying over their impending elimination, Jason calmed her down by saying that "money doesn't make you wealthy," and that they'd make their million another way.
- Precision F-Strike: Lorena, when learning that she and Jason, were U-Turned.
- Lorena: Man I'm —— Pissed
- So Last Season: They were pretty much representative of all the young, fit couples who had dominated the Race for the first eleven seasons, and as no Alpha Male teams had been cast, they looked like an easy favorite to dominate the season. However, their elimination (coupled with Nate & Jen's inability to finish first even once) was a signal to the audience that the Race was about more than just being young and fit now.
- Spicy Latina: Lorena.
- The One Guy: To a point. Jason was not happy being the only straight guy in the Elimination Station. He was not the only guy, just the only guy that was straight.
Marianna Ruiz & Julia Ruiz
Latina sisters. Though much was expected of them by the fanbase after two seasons of watching a number of female teams destroy the show's gender barriers, they constantly finished at the back of the pack. Julia would struggle to milk her camel in Burkina Faso, and though they would leave the Roadblock in 8th, she shouted back advice to the struggling Lorena. Julia's charity would allow Lorena & Jason to pass them up at the Detour, and they finished 9th.
- All of the Other Reindeer: At the Elimination Station, they said they felt like all the other teams hated them because of their aggressiveness.
- Born Unlucky: Marianna said they "had a black cloud hanging over them" and they "never caught a break" during their Elimination Statement.
- Innocent Bystander: They were the only team that witness the infamous scene of Ron berating Christina in leg 2 live.
- Ms. Fanservice: Lampshaded by Don during his Dirty Old Man moments.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Feeling sorry for Lorena during her freak out at the camel milking Roadblock, Julia yelled advice to her as they were leading their camels away. Lorena & Jason would then pass them at the Detour, eliminating them from the Race.
- No Sense of Direction: They alone took the long route to the Shannon airport, putting them alone on the last flight to Dublin on their way to Amsterdam.
- Out of Focus: They clashed with most of the other teams, to the point that Donald referred to them as "bitchy", but none of this appeared on screen.
- Passionate Sports Girl: They were revealed to be adrenaline junkies at the Elimination Station, and even went cliff diving with Jason.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: Julia in their final leg, who seemed to completely fail to realize that one should not help out another team when that team and your own are tied up in last place.
- Sibling Team
- Spicy Latina: Though this only really showed through at the Elimination Station due to them being Out of Focus.
Kate Lewis & Pat Hendrickson
- Kate: We are religious people, but we have no illusions that God cares whether or not we win The Amazing Race.
Married lesbian ministers. They were those rare Christians who understood that God doesn't care who wins a reality competition, and were greatly appreciative of the experience of the Race. In the second leg, they got on the last flight to Amsterdam, after which concentration issues plagued them while trying to find their bicycles at the Detour, dropping them behind and putting them out in 10th.
- Foil: To Ari & Staella at the Elimination Station. They played a counterpoint to the friends' constant complaining and insults, and pissed both of them off for no real reason most of the time.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Averted. Pat survived cancer, but it was barely mentioned.
- Out of Focus: They didn't even get their own A Death in the Limelight episode.
- The World Is Just Awesome:Kate: The Amazing Race is a love letter to the planet. The beauty of this Earth comes from God, and we get a chance to hopscotch around it.
Ari Bonias & Staella Gianakakos
- Ari: Karma's a bitch, but I'm a bigger bitch.
Greek co-ed friends. Despite finishing the Roadblock in 5th in Ireland, the donkey on the following task refused to move for them, allowing all of the other teams to pass them up. They are one of the few first outs to establish themselves as Jerkasses in only one leg, and are widely regarded as the most satisfying first elimination in the series.
- Call It Karma: Ari stated in his intro, "Karma's a bitch, but I'm a bigger bitch." Echoed by, "Karma came back and bit us in the ass," during their Elimination Statement at the end of the same leg.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: During the second Elimination Station, Staella said Kate & Pat's relationship wouldn't be so gross if they were young, hot girls.
- Hate Sink: One of the reasons they're one of the most satisfying first outs.
- Hide Your Gays: Ari, though it probably had to do something with them lasting only one leg, as he said at the Elimination Station that he had decided to come out on the show.
- Jerkass: They only lasted one leg, but they made quite an impression on the fanbase in such little time. They continued to show this in the Elimination Station, where not a minute went by with one of them insulting one of the other teams, including those they had barely gotten to know on their one leg.
- Laser-Guided Karma: They took the cab Ronald & Christina had called ahead for at the airport without regret, gloated about it afterward, and then lied to Ronald & Christina about not knowing it was someone else's cab. Later, when they struggled to get their donkey to move, Christina, amazed at how poorly they were treating it, remarked "Donkeys have souls too!"
- Spiky Hair: Ari.
- Stubborn Mule: The cause of their elimination, referred to as a karmic donkey by fans. This was most likely due to their constant yelling and abuse towards the animal.
- Tempting Fate: "Karma's a bitch, but I'm a bigger bitch."