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Announced at the end of the previous season, the 26th edition of the Amazing Race was called a "special edition" of the series, featuring eleven couples, five of whom were meeting for the first time, going on the ultimate "Blind Date" around the world. This announcement was met with much skepticism by the fanbase, stemming from both how Season 6 had turned into non-stop bickering amongst its top 6 of young couples, and the thought of having five manufactured teams, when the two previous manufactured teams, Eric & Danielle and Mark & Mallory, had both turned dysfunctional having no experience of how to deal with each other under stressful situations, not to mention how, for the first time in show history, there would be no all-female team.

As feared, the season did have its glaring flaws. The lack of variety in relationships led to a majority of the teams being very similar, which was made worse by the Blind Date teams, for the most part all but ignoring the "dating" aspect of the show, instead playing nice and focusing solely on the game. The lack of standout characters was only compounded by the show's focus on the romance aspect of the season, which led to a number of visually impressive, but rather easy and straightforward legs, resulting in a number of predictable eliminations. However, despite the failure of the concept, the season did not turn out to be the complete disaster fans feared, as while the teams were not overly entertaining, they were, for the most part, pleasant to watch. And the manufactured teams did VERY well, with all the final 3 teams being Blind Date couples. Finally, a number of tweaks (the most notable being the return of the "eat, sleep, and mingle" segments for the first time since Season 14) gave the show a not unwelcome "throwback" feel.

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Tyler Adams & Laura Pierson
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/04bf14cebaa7ac2877395db44d09f952.jpg

#TeamSoCal

Blind Date couple, app developer and talent booker from California. Despite Laura professing her attraction towards Tyler early and often, they put off any sort romantic relationship in order to focus on the game, bonding over their snarking about the other team. They were both quite competitive, and had a high level of confidence in their abilities, which resulted in consistently good performances. In the finale, they went into the final task neck-and-neck with Jelani & Jenny, but were able to figure out the order of their selfies first, resulting in them winning the Race.

  • Aside Glance: Tyler gave a thumbs up to the camera after Laura said how nauseous Jeff & Jackie's flirting was making her.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Probably the closest they had this season to a bad guy (though Hayley rivals), as they were the only ones shown badmouthing the other teams late in the season.
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  • Blind Date
  • Call-Back:
    • When dressing up for the klompen Roadblock in leg 9, Tyler went over all the costumes he had worn up to that point.
    • The 11th leg started with flashbacks to Tyler losing his temper in the previous leg's Detour. This would foreshadow into their relationship getting even rockier over the course of that episode.
  • Cool Shades: Invoked by Tyler in leg 6, when he put sunglasses on in a confessional when he was explaining how he was relaxing while Laura was doing the Roadblock. He also wore them for most of the episode.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tyler would make a muttered aside to the camera several times an episode.
  • Distracted by My Own Sexy: While they were doing the hot tub Detour in leg 9, Laura had to tell Tyler to stop flexing and concentrate on the rebus puzle they were supposed to be solving.
  • Dragged into Drag: Tyler was not happy about the ladyboy task in Thailand. Whereas most of the other men were enthusiastic, or at least had fun with it, he repeatedly talked about how much he hated the task, and insisted on calling himself a "ladyman."
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • During leg 5, teams were tasked with driving themselves around Germany all day in a Ford Focus. The first car they got into was in the middle of a group parked on the side of the road, and Laura had trouble getting the car out of its spot. They decided to switch cars, leaving behind their fanny pack, which Tyler had taken off to get comfortable, for Jeff & Jackie to find when they ultimately came across the car.
    • In leg 6, they struggled with the Win By a Nose Detour because they could not locate Bottle #4, which contained one of the mystery scents they needed to complete the perfume.
    • In leg 7, they drove past the station where they were supposed to stop and pick up a salt lick. Tyler started on the Roadblock before they noticed their mistake, and only because Blair & Hayley made the same mistake. Despite pausing the task to drive back for the salt lick, Tyler still performed the hut building Roadblock quickly enough that they jumped from 4th to 1st, even with their mistake.
    • In leg 10, they missed the shoe shine parlor that held their clue, despite seeing an obvious tasknote  and Laura spotting the Speed Bump sign, and got into a cab instead.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The final episode unintentionally did this for their win. Their Post-Race confessional was recorded during sunset, while Jelani and Jenny and Hayley and Blair had their confessionals recorded during the night.
  • History Repeats: This is the fourth time (in four attempts) that a man named Tyler has won the Race.
  • Insistent Terminology: During the ladyboy task in leg 3, Tyler insisted on calling himself a "ladyman."
  • Jaw Drop: Laura, in leg 6, when she saw that Mike & Rochelle had somehow gotten a faster flight than them into France.
  • Jerk Jock: Tyler had a tendency to insult the other teams behind their backs, such as calling Mike & Rochelle a weak team, and making several comments about Hayley's yelling at Blair. Also on the jock end of the spectrum, he mentioned he used to play football in high school.
  • Oh, Crap!: Laura in leg 11, when she broke one of their bricks at the Make Some Bricks Detour, forcing them to make a second trip for one more brick.
  • One Head Taller
  • Parallel Parking: It was Laura's inability to pull out of their parking spot in leg 5 that caused her to suggest switching cars, which led to them almost losing their fanny pack.
  • Putting the Pee in Pool: While in the hot tub boat in Amsterdam, Tyler said he should warm up the water by peeing in it, after which Laura joked that she had done that a while ago.
  • Read the Freaking Clue: They started the 10th leg in 1st place, but ended up on the second flight, over two hours behind, when they failed to read the part of the clue that said they could buy tickets other than the reserved flight they were provided with, as they were to eager to go out and celebrate Laura's 30th birthday.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness:
    • They lost the leg win in episode 2 when they let their cab go at the Detour, allowing Jenny & Jelani, who had kept their cab, to pass them while trying to find another one.
    • While they were looking for their clue at the shoe shine shop in leg 10, Laura spotted the Speed Bump sign, but did not connect that to the clue location. They had gotten in a cab and were driving away (to a location miles away) before she mentioned this, upon which Tyler was immediately able to make the connection and correct their mistake before they got too far off course.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: After coming in 4th despite having a lead for most of the fourth leg, due to not being able to interpret what the "Metal Castle" clue meant, Laura said that if you're not in first, you're last
  • Small Name, Big Ego: When they came in 4th (out of 5) in leg 10, they made a joke about how they couldn't win every leg, as it would be boring, and sometimes decided to throw the other teams a bone.note  Though they had won the previous two legs, they had won zero legs before that.
  • Survival Mantra: When they were fighting Mike & Rochelle to avoid last in leg 11, they repeatedly said, "This is for a million bucks," to motivate themselves.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Laura called Tyler this.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • At the Ramen detour in Nagano, Tyler said "Oh, this ain't gonna be good" when the fan was switched on as they were trying to complete the task.
    • At the Make Some Bricks Detour in leg 11, this was Tyler's reaction when he saw how far he was going to have to carry his twelve bricks in a wheelbarrow.
  • We Wait: In leg 5, when they discovered they had left their fanny pack in another Ford Focus, they decided the best plan was to wait at the Winter Wonderland task for the other teams to show up, hoping someone would bring their fanny pack to them.

Jelani Roy & Jennifer "Jenny" Wu
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/8b38f5f38f33da749251ef2c09f5ed8d.jpg

#LegalTeam

Blind Date couple, lawyers from New York and Los Angeles. From the Starting Line it was obvious that they had no attraction towards each other, but this did not seem to hinder them at first, as they won the first two legs. However, over the course of the season their clashing personalities caused them to butt heads over race decisions, which led to inconsistent performance. Still, they were able to pull themselves together enough to make the Final 3, where they managed to get a slight lead on Tyler & Laura in the final memory task. They would have trouble placing their selfies in the right order, which ended up dropping them to 2nd place.

  • Blind Date
  • Born Lucky: Both of their leg wins were by small margins and were because the team ahead of them made a mistake right before the Pit Stop.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Jenny admonished herself for laughing at Jelani's struggles with the paddling Roadblock in leg 11.
  • Control Freak: During the puzzle box Roadblock, Jenny admitted that she hated not having any control, and she wanted to jump in and start working on the puzzle. Jelani would later discuss this trait in her during the fourth episode, when he compared her to other lawyers he knew.
  • Driving Stick: Jelani had issues driving their car in leg 6, as he failed to disengage the parking brake.
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: Jelani said this at the transmission Roadblock in leg 4, after Rochelle passed him despite not even knowing what a transmission was.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: In her intro video, Jenny said she wanted to be paired with someone super, super intelligent, and to be impressed by his brain size.
  • No-Damage Run: They consistently finished in the middle of the pack after the first 2 legs.
  • No Sense of Direction:
    • They got lost looking for the snooker club during the leg 4 Detour.
    • They turned the wrong direction while looking for the Pit Stop in leg 6, losing them the leg win, and ultimately dropping them to 5th.
    • They got lost looking for the Pit Stop in leg 7, despite following both Tyler & Laura and Matt & Ashley, drove too far, and dropped from 3rd to 4th as a result.
    • During leg 11, Laura & Tyler said Jelani & Jenny's tendency to get lost was why they would not win the race.
  • No Sparks: There was no initial attraction between them, and they quickly fell into a teamwork relationship free of romance.
  • Path of Most Resistance: While riding their bikes to Amsterdam in leg 9, the decided to take the longer, but more direct route along the Amstel River so they wouldn't get lost. Tyler & Laura took the shorter, more complicated route, which let them overtake the lawyers for the lead.
  • Read the Freaking Clue: They did not read the instructions correctly for the Trees Detour in leg 3, only taking one food item and one drink item instead of every food item down the zip line, causing them to fail their first attempt at the task. They corrected this on subsequent attempts, but ended up struggling so much that the mistake did not end up effecting them as much as it did Blair & Hayley.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: They fought over their differing approaches to the Race and questioned each other's decisions throughout the fourth leg. Jelani questioned her decision to give up their cab to Jeff & Jackie instead of fighting for it, as the cab they did get dropped them to the back of the pack. Jenny then got upset when they were working with Matt & Ashley to find the Pit Stop, and he blabbed her plan to ditch the other couple and find a cab. She felt that they could not beat Matt & Ashley in a footrace and needed to get a lead on them any way they could, while he did not want to create an enemy so early in the game was not worth the extra time they gained.
  • Sequence Breaking: They got a slow cab driver leaving the airport in Bangkok, which resulted in them falling behind the other teams in reaching the route marker at Wat Yan Nawa. When they finally arrived, they spotted Jeff & Jackie and Hayley & Blair heading for one of the Detour choices, and ended up jumping out of their cab to follow them. The other teams immediately told them their mistake and set them back on the right path.
  • This Is A Race: When they were working with Matt & Ashley to find the fourth Pit Stop in Thailand, Jenny decided to ditch the other couple to get in a cab. When Jelani fought her over this, she justified the move with this trope, and said they couldn't beat Matt & Ashley in a footrace.
  • The Un-Hug: Upon reaching the 7th Pit Stop, and discovering that they were not in last place, Phil goaded them into giving each other a quick and awkward hug.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Jenny was deathly afraid of cats, so naturally they got the Detour option in leg 4 which involved feeding cats.

Blair Townsend & Hayley Keel
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/9d536966ca9defd174eedcca3b117cbc.jpg

#RXForLove

Blind Date couple, a navy physician and a nurse from Florida. Of the paired teams, they had by far the most issues, with Hayley constantly yelling at Blair for ignoring her (usually correct) suggestions. Despite a complete inability to communicate with each other at first, they managed to create a working relationship, and after a rocky first two legs, they were a fixture in the top three, turning into the season's most consistent team. While they were never able to fully resolve their fighting, they won the two legs leading into the finale, and had a solid lead heading into the rappelling Roadblock, with a clear path to victory ahead of them. However, Hayley missed the correct flags leading them to the next task, instead leading them to a nearby parking garage. By the time they managed to course correct, they were so far behind that they were doomed to 3rd place.

  • Adorkable: Blair
  • Aside Glance: An exasperated Blair finally tried handing over control to Hayley in leg 4, only to have her insist that he keep taking the lead. Immediately after she told him to make a decision, she told him they should go in another direction, leading to him shooting a glance at the camera.
  • Beat: At the beginning of the fifth episode, they were shown discussing their relationship issues, and all the negativity that had been flying between them. It ended with Hayley saying they had reconciled this and were moving forward as friends, after which Blair paused for a second before agreeing.
  • Blatant Lies: When questioned by Phil about heated words between them during leg 5 in Germany, Hayley responded with "Us? Never!"
  • Blind Date
  • Broken Record: Hayley at times during her berating of Blair, especially during the Track Detour in leg 7, when she kept repeating "Are you sure?" when Blair insisted on operating the antenna by himself.
  • Call-Back:
    • The 9th and 10th episodes started with a montage of Hayley's increasingly aggressive nagging at Blair in previous episodes.
    • Upon driving to the Windhoek airport later in the leg, Blair mentioned that it was where they had last seen Hayley's pilot crush, which resulted in her fantasizing about him one again.
  • The Cassandra: Hayley. Every time she would disagree with what Blair thought they should be doing, he would ignore her, even though she generally turned out to be right. This happened with directions in leg 1, and the zip line Detour in leg 3, and several other times over the course of the season.
  • Captain Obvious: During their fight at the Stein Detour in leg 5, Blair was trying to give Hayley advice on how to complete the task, only for her to yell this at him. After which it got its own hashtag.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Blair being able to speak Spanish allowed them to breeze through the Mamas Detour in Peru, earning them the leg win and him someo rare praise from Hayley.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Blair's general reaction to Hayley's yelling was to make snarky asides to the camera or other racers.
  • Death by Irony: After spending the whole season yelling at Blair for not listening to her ideas, it was Hayley who was ultimately the one who cost them the race when she could not spot the flags during her final rappelling Roadblock.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Hayley had an immediate attraction to their charter pilot in leg 7, which Blair was happy about, as she spent her time lusting over the pilot instead of yelling at him over getting them stuck on the last flight.
  • The Ditherer: Hayley, who would not take the lead from Blair when he offered it in leg 4, but had no problem continuing to question all of his decisions.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In leg 7, they drove right by the station where they were supposed to stop and pick up a salt lick. When they reached the Roadblock, they immediately noticed this, and, after conferring with Steve, turned around to retrieve the salt lick.
  • Genki Girl: Hayley came across as this for the first few legs until she started nagging and yelling at Blair all the time.
  • Henpecked Husband: Despite having just met, their relationship is played up as this, with Blair looking increasingly exasperated at Hayley's Motor Mouth nagging.
  • "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal: At the Trees Detour in leg 3, after Blair ignored Hayley about the number of food items they should be taking, instead just grabbing two items like he had seen Jelani & Jenny do, Hayley told him that they couldn't just do what they saw the other teams do, and had to think for themselves.
  • Loophole Abuse: During the skating Detour in leg 2, Blair was able to help Hayley propel his weight around the track by using his feet to help push the chair.
  • Motor Mouth: Hayley stunned Blair into silence in the premiere with her rapid fire speech, and in the third leg she complained nonstop about him not listening to her at the zip line Detour.
  • Neat Freak: Hayley said crawling through the mud in the first leg was her worst case scenario, as she hated being dirty and cold.
  • No Sense of Direction:
    • Blair led them the wrong way out of the train in Tokyo, dropping them to last place early on in the premiere. They also got lost looking for the U-Turn mat, dropping them from 7th to 8th place.
    • They got lost looking for the hot tub Detour in leg 9, which led to Hayley once again yelling about him never listening to her.
  • No Sparks: Blair seemed overwhelmed by Hayley from the very beginning, and things only got worse when she started nagging him, and he ignored her.
  • Nerd Glasses: Blair.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Hayley started rambling in the car on the way to LAX, the camera cut to a wide-eyed Blair looking as if he was wondering what he had just gotten himself into.
  • Percussive Therapy: Both of them said that Hayley was working her frustrations at Blair by whacking away with a machete during the sugar cane Roadblock in leg 10.
  • Read the Freaking Clue: At the Trees Detour in leg 3, on their first pass, Blair saw Jelani & Jenny only take one food and one drink item instead of all of them, and therefore did the same, despite Hayley telling him they should grab all the food items. They failed their first pass, allowing Mike & Rochelle to pass them and essentially cost them the leg win. Hayley would not let him hear the end of this for the rest of the leg.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: Hayley called Blair on this in leg 7, when they started in 1st place, but had the worst tickets on the plane due to Blair wanting to be comfortable rather then get tickets near the front of the plane. This caused them to get on the last charter flight upon arriving in Namibia, and put them from 1st place to last before even reaching the first route marker.
  • Removed from the Picture: Played for laughs in leg 7, when Hayley was lusting over their charter pilot. They took a selfie with the pilot, after which the editors scribbled out Blair's face in the photo.
  • Ship Sinking: Though their relationship appeared to be on life support from the Starting Line, any small chance there was a possible relationship between the two of them was killed at the Trees Detour in leg 3 when Blair referred to Hayley as his "co-worker" to the task judges.
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: When Hayley was yelling at Blair over directions in Peru, her obscenity was bleeped out by a passing car horn.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Hayley felt as if Blair did not listen to her when making decisions, which caused her to constantly harp on him to listen to him more, which, as a result, caused him to become more and more exasperated with her as the Race went on. By the fifth leg, all their interactions turned into Hayley yelling at him while he tried to calmly deal with her.
  • The Un-Hug: Upon reaching the 9th Pit Stop, Phil commented on the awkwardness of their hug.

Michael "Mike" Dombrowski & Rochelle Nevedal
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/2e70902008c152a394bbf75f8973cc20.jpg

#TruckStopLove

Dating couple from Michigan, Rochelle is a single mom using the Race to determine Mike's place in her son's life. Despite a number of struggles, both on tasks and with navigation, they managed to limit their bickering, and what fights they did have were quickly resolved. While they spent a lot of time in the back of the pack, they managed to stay in the game thanks to keeping their mistakes small while other teams imploded around them, and they managed to be the last previously dating couple standing. However, their luck would finally catch up with them over the final two legs, as a trio of bad cabs (a flat tire in leg 11, followed by a cab driver who refused to wait for them at AT&T Stadium and a second cab that was low on gas in the finale) dropped them to the back of the pack, and when they reached the first Roadblock, just like the previous season, Phil was waiting to inform them that the task's cattle had all been rounded up by the other 3 teams and they would be unable to participate in the Roadblock, meaning they were eliminated in 4th place.

  • Call-Back: Going into the ladyboy dancing task in leg 3, they talked about how they were nervous about it following their struggles with the dancing Detour in leg 1.
  • Driving Stick: They both had issues driving the Ford Focus in Germany, which, along with navigation issues, dropped them to the back of the pack. Only Bergen & Kurt's decision to ditch their car saved them from elimination.
  • Elimination Houdini: At the end of leg 9, they describe themselves as underdogs who keep fighting to stay alive.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Mike had trouble starting their car at the beginning of leg 7, as he could not figure out how to open their key, and kept trying to start their car using the wrong key. This allowed Blair & Hayley to pass them and put them in last.
  • Fun T-Shirt: They both wore these, such as Rochelle's "The Bags Under My Eyes Are Designer" shirt.
  • Groin Attack: They decided to switch from leading the zebra to the Pit Stop to leading the donkey when the zebra came inches from kicking Mike in the groin.
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Stated when U-Turning Jeff & Lyda.
  • Knuckle Tattoos: Rochelle has some that read "Sink" and "Swim."
  • The Lad-ette: Roller Derby girl Rochelle, who admitted to breaking another woman's femur in their introduction.
  • The Last of Their Kind: They were the only dating team to make the final four.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • In 1st place going into the ladyboy task in leg 3, they took advantage of their sizable lead on the other teams to attempt the dance several times in quick succession, learning the choreography as they went instead of getting it down beforehand, which allowed them to complete the task before any of the other teams had finished getting dressed.
    • After starting the sixth leg in last place, they got tickets on a flight that would have put them two hours behind the next team. However, they noticed that Steve & Allie in the process of boarding a flight on the same airline, and, despite the new rules against exchanging airline tickets, were able to acquire standby tickets due to the attendant allowing them to trade their tickets straight up, and get on the first flight, something that would have been impossible for all the other teams on different airlines.
  • Love at First Sight: Mike stated in his pre-season video that he was instantly attracted to Rochelle when they first met.
  • No Sense of Direction: Along with their issues Driving Stick, this caused them several problems when they had to navigate for themselves, with their navigations problems dropping several spots in legs 5, 7, and 9.
  • Performance Anxiety: Rochelle admitted to having this during the Shake Your Hips Detour in leg 11.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: Neither of them learned to drive a manual transmission very well before coming on the show.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Taken to the wrong place by their cab driver in leg 11, they started looking for a "payaso" along the mosaic wall in Trujillo, Peru, and came across a random clown sitting on the side of the road. They decided this stuck out enough that "payaso" meant clown, and asked him for the clue, only to find he had no idea what they were talking about. They would eventually discover that "payaso" did mean clown, they just found a different clown along the same wall.
  • Stubborn Mule: The zebra they chose to lead to the Pit Stop in leg 8 refused to cooperate, which caused them to switch to the donkey, and drop behind Jenny & Jelani.
  • Wrench Wench: Rochelle's dad was a farmer so she spent a lot of time around heavy machinery. This gave her familiarity around power tools which allowed her to finish the Transmission roadblock in Leg 4 faster than anyone else despite not knowing anything about transmissions.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Heights for Rochelle, but she used the thought of her son to propel her to finish the crate stacking Detour in leg 5.
  • Wild Hair: Mike.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: They got s a number of confessionals in the two Namibia legs about how amazing the world was, Africa in particular.

Matthew "Matt" Cucolo & Ashley Gordon
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ec513be7ae810427906cc229f5cacc4f.jpg

#Hairstylists

Dating hairstylists, they came into the season looking like the average bickering couple, whose constant mistakes would doom them to an early exit. However, standing on the mat at the end of the third leg, Matt decided to propose in front of the majority of the remaining teams. Their edit shifted after that, focusing more on the positive aspects of their relationship than the negative ones. Though being mistake prone kept them from ever truly becoming a frontrunner, they did manage a couple of top two finishes, and even won the 7th leg. However, Matt struggled with the klompen Roadblock in leg 9, which resulted in them getting non-eliminated at the end of the leg. The resulting Speed Bump penalty, combined with them overlooking both the shoe shine shop where their Speed Bump was located, and the shop which held the starting point for the much faster Mamas Detour, resulted in them ending up in last for the second straight leg, and being eliminated in 5th place.

  • Aside Glance: Matt, after his Epic Fail champagne spill below, gave an exasperated glance towards the camera.
  • Big "NO!": At the Syncing Steps Detour, Matt let out a series of increasingly loud "No's" when Laura & Tyler finished the task on only their second attempt.
  • Call-Back: Their reason for wanting to U-Turn Jenny & Jelani in leg 8 was due to Jenny ditching them while looking for the "Metal Castle" Pit Stop in leg 4.
  • Elimination Montage: As the team who got engaged on the "season of love," they naturally got one of these.
  • Epic Fail: On their fourth attempt at the Trees Detour in leg 3, before he had even been hooked up to the zip line, Matt tipped his champagne over into the soup. Then, at Ashley's insistence, he further exasperated the problem by scooping some of the champagne/soup mix back into the glass to try to fool the judges, and then tried picking out the chives.
  • Face Palm:
    • Matt did this after he forgot their fanny pack at the lady boy task in leg 3.
    • Matt again during the singing Roadblock in leg 5, when Ashley butchered her first attempt at the song.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Upon reaching Patong Beach in leg 3, they started looking for their clue under the welcome sign, and walked circles around the man holding up the clues while looking for a clue box, even though he kept following them with the clues. They finally found the clues when he called for their attention.
    • Later in the leg, Matt forgot their fanny pack at the ladyboy task, resulting in them dropping from 4th to 7th when they went back to get it.
    • When picking out their animal to lead the Pit Stop in leg 8, they realized they had left their gnome in the car, and had to run back to get it, losing them their chance to catch up to Tyler & Laura.
    • And Matt again in leg 9, while in the middle of struggling with the klompen Roadblock. At one point he picked up the correct wooden shoe, but then put it right back down to continue his search.
    • Twice in leg 10 they missed task locations that kept them from catching up to the other teams, and eventually got them eliminated. First, they missed their Speed Bump at the shoe shine shop, getting into a cab and driving awaynote , and later they missed the shop where they were supposed to pick up the list for the Mamas Detour, which resulted in them jumping into another cab, which then took them to the longer Papas Detour.
  • Fun with Subtitles: After getting engaged at the end of the third episode, the fourth episode started with them on their Date Night prize, talking about their engagement, with their team relationship simultaneously being changed from "Dating" to "Engaged."
  • Funny Background Event: While Jeff was giving a confessional about all the teams getting on the same flight to Munich Germany, Matt started flexing and posing behind him.
  • History Repeats: The third couple to get engaged on the race, only to be eliminated in 5th place, while winning only one leg overall (after Chad & Stephanie and Canada's Alain & Audrey.note )
  • Informed Ability: Phil Keoghan called them "frontrunners" at the beginning of Leg 9. Even though they had spent 3 of the past 4 legs in the top 2, overall they'd spent more of the race in the back of the pack than the front, and proceeded to finish last that leg.
  • Oh, Crap!: After leaving the ladyboy task in leg 3, Matt freaked out when he realized he had forgotten the fanny pack. The reason for his severely panicked reaction was revealed at the mat, when he proposed to Ashley, and pulled the ring out of the fanny pack.
  • One Head Taller
  • Paranoia Fuel: In-Universe. While driving at the front of a caravan to the Pit Stop in leg 7, they noticed that Tyler & Laura and Jelani & Jenny had both disappeared from behind them. Thinking they had missed a turn, they immediately backed up to where Tyler & Laura had stopped to check their map, got out of their car, and ran back to where the other two cars were idling, causing Tyler & Laura to break down in laughter at their panic.
  • Path of Most Resistance: They stole 1st place away from Tyler & Laura in leg 7 when Laura refused to climb up the side of the rock the Pit Stop rested on top of. While Tyler & Laura took the longer, easier path, Matt & Ashley climbed up the rock, and got to the Pit Stop first.
  • Read the Freaking Clue: As part of the Detour in leg 4, they had to eat a 1,000 year old egg to receive their next clue, but instead of going inside the market to find the marked stand, they just bought an egg at the first stand they saw outside, resulting in them having to eat a second egg each.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: They claimed that they wanted to U-Turn Jenny & Jelani in leg 8 because (aside for revenge) the lawyers had the Express Pass, and they wanted to negate it. This is despite it being the last leg where Jenny & Jelani could use the Express Pass, so they had to use it regardless, and Steve & Aly were so far behind that they had no chance of catching up, meaning all they did was create an enemy for future legs. Even Jenny & Jelani noted it was a terrible move considering you normally want to use a U-Turn to eliminate a team, and not create an enemy.
  • Revenge Before Reason: They were determined to U-Turn Jenny & Jelani in leg 8 despite (1) the lawyers being over half an hour ahead to Steve & Aly, who had a Speed Bump, and (2) Jenny & Jelani having a Express Pass, which they had to use that leg, to negate the U-Turn. The only thing that could possibly give them a pass was that they had been talking to Tyler & Laura, who had expressed an interest in U-Turning Aly & Steve themselves.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Matt proposed to Ashley on the mat at the end of the third leg.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Entering the Syncing Steps Detour in the premiere, Matt said they had rhythm and were good at memorization, and they'd be out of there in 15-20 minutes. Their 25 attempts to complete the task was the most of any team, and they ended up in 9th place as a result.
    • Right as Matt was about to start the klompen Roadblock in leg 9, Ashley said he had a good attention to detail. He took much longer than any of the other teams to complete the task, guaranteeing them last place, only to be saved by a non-elimination.
  • This Is A Race: How Matt explained the U-Turn to Jenny & Jelani.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: At the beginning of leg 9, Tyler & Laura described them as strong, but crazy.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Heights for Ashley; during the Don't Slack Off Detour, she said that she would throw up in her mouth whenever she saw how high she was.

Alyson "Aly" Dudek & Steven "Steve" Langton
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/d33275c392f3b1b296f6a4140133fd68.jpg

#SochiLove

Dating Olympians who met at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. They cruised through the first half of the season, running at the front of the pack while avoiding friction with each other and the other teams. However, they struggled once they hit Namibia, as a series of mistakes, beginning with Aly struggling to build her hut at the Roadblock, dropped them to the back of the pack. While Steve's reckless driving on the way to the Pit Stop resulted in them getting a flat tire, they were saved by a non-elimination leg. However, they never stood a chance in the following leg, as the lack of an equalizer, combined with Steve struggling with the air drop Roadblock, kept them from ever catching up with the other teams. As a final nail in their coffin, they were U-Turned by Tyler & Laura, and they were eliminated in 6th place.

  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: During the Track Detour in leg 7, Aly was supposed to be operating the antenna to locate their elephant, but kept getting distracted by the local wildlife.
  • Broken Record: After Steve flattened a tire on their car in leg 7, Aly said how she was even annoying herself with how often she was telling him to drive in the middle of the road so he wouldn't do it again.
  • Cassandra Truth: While driving to the Pit Stop in leg 7, Aly kept telling Steve to not drive so close to the side of the road. He responded by asking if she wanted to drive. He would end up getting a flat tire seconds later, essentially costing them the game.
  • Chekhov's Hobby:
    • Their Olympic professions (Aly's Speed Skating and Steve's Bobsledding experience) allowed them to breeze through the Chair detour in Nagano.
    • Subverted during the Leg 3 Detour, see Tempting Fate.
  • Dartboard of Hate: While she was struggling with the hut building Roadblock, Aly said she was imagining the ground that she was stabbing with a sharp stick was Steve's face.
  • A Death in the Limelight: After being Out of Focus through the first half of the season, they got their first major characterization in their elimination episode.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: While Steve was changing their tire in leg 7, Aly said she'd be fine if a lion just came up and ate her, then immediately said she wasn't serious and didn't want to be eaten.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • While heading towards the Pit Stop in Leg 7, Steve did not notice the large rock that would give them a flat tire. Aly did see the rock before Steve hit it, and would not let Steve hear the end of it.
    • At their final Roadblock, Steve looked down to set his compass when his case was dropped from the airplane, and did not bother watching where it actually fell, resulting in him running off in the wrong direction.
  • History Repeats: This is the second time a team named Allie & Steve came in 6th place.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: When both Tyler & Laura and Hayley & Blair missed their salt licks at the beginning of leg 7, Steve told both teams where to go to find said licks. Tyler & Laura would end up passing them, forcing them to do the longer Detour, and, one flat tire later, they ended up in last place and non-eliminated.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with father/daughter pair Steve & Allie from Season 16.
  • Out of Focus: They did not receive any major airtime through the first six legs, other than Aly talking about the importance the Nagano Olympics played in her life.
  • Read the Freaking Clue: They got lost looking for the Detour in leg 6, as they failed to read that the Detour was in Eze, France, and proceeded to look for the Church of Notre Dame around Monaco.
  • Sore Loser: Aly's Elimination Statement was quite bitter, with her saying all the other teams were afraid of them, and they had done everyone else a favor by eliminating themselves and making it easier for someone else to win.
  • Tempting Fate: They chose the wake-boarding Detour in leg 3 because they both had experience waterskiing, and they felt, as athletes, they'd be able to pick it up rather quickly. They ended up attempting the task eight times before finally giving up and switching Detours, dropping them out of the top of the pack.
  • Time-Compression Montage: The end of their race played out like this, with the second half of their U-Turn and their trek to the Pit Stop montaged over an Elimination Statement.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: After spending six legs as the season's boring but likable team, Aly started complaining almost non-stop over their last few legs. She complained through the entire hut building Roadblock, nagged Steve about his driving, and was a Sore Loser in her Elimination Statement.

Jeffrey "Jeff" Weldon & Jackie Ibarra
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/f216abc636410e329b523611d5b8f896.jpg

#TeamJJ

Blind Date couple, Jeffrey is an account executive from Florida, Jackie is a dancer from Las Vegas. Of all the blind dating couples, they were the only team to show a true romantic spark, which resulted in their developing relationship getting a large amount of airtime. Their inconsistent performance came to a head in leg 6, when they got on one of the last helicopters to Monaco, and they spent a large amount of the leg battling with Matt & Ashley to avoid last place. They caught a lucky break at the Monte Carlo when the roulette wheel wound up sending them to the faster of the two Detours, and though they left the Detour in 3rd place, their struggles to locate the Pit Stop dropped them right back to last place, and they were eliminated in 7th place, promising to keep in touch with each other after the Race. Jeff & Jackie would later compete in Big Brother 17

  • Big "SHUT UP!": Jeff dropped one on Jackie during their big fight in Germany.
  • Blind Date
  • Brainless Beauty: Jackie described herself as such in the premiere.
    Jackie: My brain is not as strong as most people, and that's okay because I have everything else, and I get by.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Subverted in leg 3, when Jackie, in her job as a showgirl, was able to pick up the choreography at the ladyboy task rather quickly, but they struggled the most with the task due to Jeff being unable to learn it.
  • Dragged into Drag: Unlike most of the other men, Jeff was not happy about dressing as a ladyboy in Thailand.
  • Elimination Montage: As the one Blind Date team to actually develop romantic feelings like the show was hoping for, it was only naturally the got a montage upon elimination.
  • Failing a Taxi: The finished the Samurai Sake Detour in the premiere before Harley & Jonathan even arrived, but had so much trouble hailing a cab that Harley & Jonathan finished the task and got a cab before them
  • The Glomp: At the Starting Line, during their first meeting, Jackie jumped into Jeff's arms.
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: Jeff at the Leg 4 Roadblock, particularly because Rochelle had no car experience.
  • Informed Ability: While discussing their strengths and weaknesses each other, Jeff told Jackie that he was good at puzzles, so when they came across the Japanese puzzle box Roadblock in the second leg, she said he should do the task. He ended up struggling so much they fell out of the top pack, falling behind Aly & Steve, who were on a later train.
    Jeff: I shouldn't have said I was good at puzzles.
  • Loophole Abuse: In leg 5, when they claimed their Ford Focus, they found Tyler & Laura's fanny pack inside. Though Race rules prevented them from removing the pack from the car, or moving it from the back seat, Jackie shoved it under the seat in an attempt to hide it from Tyler & Laura, and ensure both their own safety and Tyler & Laura's elimination that leg. What they did not expect was that when they left their car unlocked, Laura would start pawing around inside the car, and find the hidden fanny pack.
  • No Sense of Direction: They had trouble finding the Pit Stop in their final leg, driving out of their way past the Nice airport, which was what dropped them to last place.
  • One Head Taller
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with Jeff Magee.
  • Pixellation: Jackie got her mouth blurred during her Precision F-Strike in leg 5.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Jeff dropped a, "This is bullshit," after Rochelle passed him at the transmission Roadblock in leg 4.
    • Jackie dropped an "F*** you," on Jeff during their fight in Germany.
  • Read the Freaking Clue: They had a huge lead through most of the first leg, but failed to correctly interpret the word "vicinity" in the clue, as they instead wasted a lot of time wandering around the parking garage inside the UDX Building. Jelani & Jenny, who correctly read the clue, passed them to win the leg and the Express Pass.
  • Showgirl Skirt: Jackie was shown wearing one of these in a photo. Justified as she is a dancer from Vegas.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: While they were getting measured for their formalwear in leg 6, Laura mentioned how they were making her nauseous with the affectionate way they were acting.
  • Tempting Fate: Jeff during the second leg, see Informed Ability
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Heights for Jeff, which came into play while walking the high wire during the Don't Slack Off Detour in Nice. The windy weather didn't help.

Bergen Olson & Kurt Jordan Belcher
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/e5475dff831fb5664371d37fe6147632.jpg

#BlondeDate

Blind Date couple, Bergen is a human resources project manager from California, Kurt is a pageant consultant from Kentucky. Due to their similar looks, they quickly decided that there was no romantic connection between them, and decided to run the race as friends. Much to their own shock, they won the fourth leg, but ended up hitting a bump in the following leg when they had trouble had trouble Driving Stick. Though Bergen seemed to be getting the hang of the manual transmission, Kurt became so uncomfortable that he forced Bergen to give up driving and take a cab to their next destination. This caused them several issues, the first and foremost being that, since the entire leg involved navigating themselves around the German countryside in that Ford Focus, they had no way of getting themselves from task to task other than sporadic public transportation. On top of this, they received a two hour penalty for being unable to complete the Winter Wonderland task, which involved using a feature of their carnote . As it happened, they got themselves so lost taking the train from location to location that they never even made it to the Detour, and Phil came out on the course to eliminate them in 8th place.

  • Accidental Truth: Upon running into the fourth Pit Stop, Phil greeted them with, "Guess what," to which Bergen asked if they were team number one. He followed it up by saying he was just kidding, as they had been the fourth team to leave the Roadblock, but as they had been the first team to figure out the vague "Metal Castle" clue and get correct directions, they were in fact in 1st place.
  • Better as Friends: At the beginning of leg 3, they discussed that they both liked Manly Gay types, and not someone exactly like themselves, and so, having gotten past that, they could just be good friends. This probably contributed to them giving away their "Date Night" prize to newly engaged Matt & Ashley at the end of the leg. However, their relationship deteriorated so much over the following two legs that they weren't even friends by the time they were eliminated, represented by how, instead of being shown walking off together like every other team in the series, they were shown walking off in separate directions.
  • Blind Date
  • Camp Gay: Both of them are very effeminate.
  • Doppelgänger Dating: Discussed in Leg 2, when Bergen said he normally didn't date people who looked just like him.
  • The Drag-Along: Bergen complained that Kurt became this over their last two legs, saying that Kurt's family is well off, and he did not need the money, and after discovering that he was not going to find love on the Race, he just gave up.
  • Driving Stick: What caused their elimination in leg 5. Neither could drive a stick very well, but Bergen at least made an attempt of it before Kurt forced him to to give up and take a cab.
  • Global Ignorance: Neither of them knew that Thailand was a tropical climate year round.
  • Hope Spot: When they showed up at the Winter Wonderland task without their car, thinking they were done for, they found Tyler & Laura sitting around without their passports. This final hope of theirs disappeared when Tyler & Laura recovered their fanny pack from Jeff & Jackie's car.
  • I Am Not Pretty: While getting into his lederhosen in Munich, lanky Kurt started complaining about how fat he was.
  • No Sense of Direction: On top of their issues with Driving Stick in their final leg, they could not find their way out of Munich either.
  • No Sparks: Due to Doppelgänger Dating.
  • Non-Gameplay Elimination: Of the Mercy Kill variety. They fell so far behind and had so many issues with public transportation that Phil had to pull out a rare field elimination.
  • Now, That's Using Your Teeth!: At the transmission Roadblock, Bergen pried the back off the screwdriver, in order to get at his clue, by using his teeth.
  • Pixellation: During his Elimination Statement, Bergen dropped a few choice words about how he felt about Kurt giving up, which got his mouth blurred twice.
  • Rage Quit: In their final leg, Kurt got uncomfortable with Bergen struggling with their car's transmission, and so he forced them to essentially give up the race by taking a cab.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness:
    • In the premiere, they got on the first flight to Japan, but their decision to take the Narita Express Train instead of a cab or the much faster Skyline Train allowed the teams on the second flight to catch up to them.
    • Neither of them learned to Drive Stick, which cost them the race.
  • Sore Loser: Kurt was not happy with the way they went out, complaining in his confessionals that Bergen had given up on him as soon as he found out he wasn't going to find love.
  • Tears of Joy: Bergen started crying at the 3rd Pit Stop after Matt proposed to Ashley. The tears were half this trope, and half sadness at not having found love on the race himself.

Harley Rodriguez & Jonathan Knight
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/517d6367527e80761fd1c4e0af87ea55.jpg

#TeamNewKid

Dating couple, Jonathan was a member of New Kids on the Block. After running a rather quiet first two legs, they ran into trouble booking a flight from Tokyo to Phuket. They arrived nine hours after the other teams, who all managed to book flights that got in the night before, and missed the scheduled departure times that had bunched up everyone else. Although they survived that leg due to a non-elimination, they missed the first flight the next day, arriving in Bangkok almost two hours behind the other teams. Starting so far behind, coupled with doing a rather complicated Speed Bump, led to their elimination in 9th place.

Lebya "Libby" Simpson & C.J. Harris
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/1468004024c5354aa2692ce5706ec13c.jpg

#TeamTuskegee

High-School Sweethearts who have been together for ten years, which has left Libby with the overwhelming desire to get married, something C.J. did not share. After getting repeatedly lost and barely avoiding elimination in the first leg, they started the second leg in last place and an hour behind the other teams, with no equalizer to catch them up. They then proceeded to dig themselves in a deeper hole by missing their train to Nagano because they were taking a selfie together. They ended up not seeing a single other team the entire leg, and were eliminated in 10th place.

  • Black and Nerdy: C.J., the IT specialist. Lebya initially turned him down for a date because he was nerdy.
  • Commitment Issues: Lebya was very vocal about being ready for marriage, while C.J. tended to just clam up and look uncomfortable whenever she brought it up.
  • Epic Fail: In leg 2, they missed their bullet train to Nagano because they were busy shooting a selfie video. The editors imposed #SelfieFail across the bottom of the screen as they stood watching the train leave in shock.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Not checking the clock in the bullet train station during their final leg.
  • Fish out of Water: Part of the reason they struggled is that they were overwhelmed being in a large international city like Tokyo. They had never even taken a subway before.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Subverted. After their disastrous first leg, they started nearly an hour behind the other teams. After that, they missed their first bullet train, and the second had technical issues which caused it to go slower than normal. However, despite never seeing another team the entire leg, Manipulative Editing made it look like they were always within striking distance of Blair & Hayley, and therefore had a chance.
  • Global Ignorance: In the premiere, Lebya got annoyed when a cab driver asked for what she thought was 100 Yen, which would actually be a great deal, considering 100 Yen is generally worth less than $1.
  • High-School Sweethearts
  • My Nayme Is: Lebya. Her parents named her after the country Libya, then intentionally misspelled it.
  • No Sense of Direction: They admitted that navigating Tokyo was their biggest issue, and their troubles finding both the dancing Detour and the U-Turn mat almost got them eliminated in the first leg, although the time they lost navigating the city badly contributed to their eventual elimination in the second leg.
  • One Head Taller
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: After billing her as "Lebya" in all preseason materials, she was referred to as "Libby" from the very beginning on the show.
  • Opposites Attract: He's calm and organized, she tends to fly off the handle more.
  • Read the Freaking Clue: They failed to read the word "vicinity" in the clue heading to the first Pit Stop, and nearly lost their lead on Jeff & Lyda wandering around the parking garage inside the UDX Building.

Jeff Magee & Lyda Grawn
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/6b65ce1bdc929c750adaaf3811e0f74a.jpg

#FlightCrew

Dating couple, they worked together as a pilot and flight attendant for 16 years before Jeff asked Lyda out following her divorce. Though the got on the first flight, they got caught up in the huge bottleneck at the Syncing Steps Detour, as they and eight other teams took turns trying to match the correct choreography. They were the last team to complete the Detour, taking nearly four hours, and showed up at the U-Turn mat to find themselves having been U-Turned at the hands of Mike & Rochelle. While they were able to complete the Samurai Sake Detour rather quickly, the time wasted on the U-Turn was enough to drop them out of the Race in 11th place.

  • Broken Tears: Lyda when they were left as the last team at the Synching Steps Detour.
  • Hope Spot: Upon arriving at the U-Turn mat and discovering their picture, Lyda checked the clue box to discover there were still two clues left. They took a shot in the dark and U-Turned Jeff & Jackienote , not realizing that C.J. & Libby, who had finished the Detour before them, had gotten dreadfully lost en route to the mat. Though they ended up finishing the sake Detour in minutes, it gave C.J. & Libby enough time to find their way back on course, and they ended up in last place anyway.
  • Loophole Abuse: When they found they were U-Turned, they could not take their next clue, but there was nothing stopping them from looking inside the cluebox to see how many clues were left.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with Jeff Weldon.
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: In the premiere, they got on the first flight to Japan, but their decision to take the Narita Express Train instead of a cab or the much faster Skyline Train allowed the teams on the second flight to catch up to them.
  • Tempting Fate: Lyda said they had a leg up on the blind dating couples, yet not only were they the first to go, but most of the blind dating couples did excellent that leg
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: They got almost no airtime until they were U-Turned and scrambling to survive.

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