The fourth season of the Race quite possibly could have been the show's final entry. Suffering from eternally mediocre ratings, CBS moved the Race out of its prime time lineup and into a summer slot. Even so, the show still managed to make waves by casting gay "married" couple Reichen & Chipnote at a time when gay marriage was just starting to become a point of debate. However, the rest of the season was not quite as notable, mostly being a culmination of all the negative aspects of the series' early seasons. The domination of Alpha Male teams, the bickering over what was "right" and what was not, and Detours that relied heavily on "fast, but scary" versus "slow, but safe" tasks all were at their worst in this season. All this and the continued poor ratings forced the producers to make some serious changes to the format for future seasons. Quite possibly the most forgettable season of the Race, even fans who hold the early, more "adventurous" seasons above all others consider it one of the weaker seasons.
Reichen Lehmkuhl & Chip Arndt
Gay "married" team. Won not by being dominant, but being the most consistent team among a group of mistake prone racers. After the Race they split up. Reichen would go on to date Lance Bass and appear on a number of minor gay themed Reality Shows, while Chip has become a notable figure in the gay rights movement. They were supposed to appear on the original All-Stars, when it was being planned for Season 8, but were not asked for Season 11.
- Bowdlerise: In most foreign airings there is no mention of them being "married", plus their kiss at the Finish Line is edited out.
- Everybody Knew Already: They wanted to hide their relationship from the other teams, and it worked for the most part, but Debra & Steve and Monica & Sheree both figured it out.
- Felony Misdemeanor: After getting cut in front of at the first airport, even though it didn't end up costing them anything, Reichen decided not to honor lines in the second leg. At the bus station he positioned himself in front of the door, blocking the teams who had gotten there before him, and nearly got into a fight with several of them.
- Foil: To Jon Corso. They didn't appreciate his homophobic comments.
- The Good Guys Always Win: They were kind of pushy and unlikable early on, but when it came down to them versus the homophobic Jon Corso, they were the obvious good guys in that one.
- HeelFace Turn: Early on, they frequently got into arguments with other teams, and were in general not the most likable team. However, later in the season they became less confrontational, and had to deal with frequent homophobic comments from Jon Corso, which flipped them into being the nominal heroes of the season.
- Manly Gay: The first example on the race.
- Read The Freaking Clue:
- Got kicked out of their carriage in leg 3 when they didn't pull the pass off the door.
- They drove to the Pit Stop instead of walking in leg 11. This got them a 35 minute penalty that dropped them to 3rd and nearly eliminated them from the race.
- Smooch of Victory: A rather infamous one, as seeing men kiss on television was not that common yet, especially on network television.
Kelly Parks & Jon Corso
Engaged couple from Texas and New Jersey respectively. Very opinionated, they had an unexplained dislike for many of the other teams. Late in the season they became a Foil for Reichen & Chip due to Jon's "homophobia." Lost in the finale when they didn't research where the were going in Phoenix, and Reichen & Chip did. They were invited back for All-Stars, but dropped out at the last minute.
- Accidental Rhyme: Jon did this while stopping himself from swearing. Oh sh- poo! We found the clue!
- Alpha Bitch: A weird case, because though Kelly acted like one, she also accused Millie of acting just like the girls who used to bully her in high school.
- Curse Cut Short: In describing a task that involved searching manure for a clue racers were clearly told to say poo. When Jon got to the part where he and Kelly found their clue he said Oh sh- poo!
- Dartboard of Hate: A variation during a Taekwondo Detour in South Korea, Kelly was having trouble breaking her boards, so Jon told her to picture his face on the boards, and his line was even used as the episode title quote.Jon: That's me. That's my face. Just hit my face. Hit my face!
- Defeat by Modesty: Completely averted with Jon, who did the final Roadblock naked.
- Don't Explain the Joke: Kelly felt the need to explain their nicknames for Millie & Chuck twice.
- Dope Slap: Kelly gave one to Jon after getting kicked out of their carriage in leg 3.
- Failed a Spot Check: In episode 3 teams were required to claim a horse-drawn carriage by pulling the pass off the door handle. Kelly & Jon and Reichen & Chip got in the carriages without pulling the passes, only to have another team, who read the clue, pull the pass off the door handle and kick them out of the carriage. Kelly & Jon failed to notice even though Reichen & Chip were making a big fuss about it two carriages back from them.
- Fiery Redhead: Kelly
- Foil: To Reichen & Chip. Jon seemed increasingly upset to be losing to a couple of gay men. (Remember, this was 2003, back when that attitude was still considered somewhat normal, if not acceptable.)
- Hate Sink: Jon's homophobia near the end of the season ensured that fans would have a reason to root against him and for Reichen & Chip. Their earlier mocking of Millie & Chuck didn't exactly win over fans either.
- Hollywood Thin: Kelly
- Jerkass: Both of them, the most notable instance being the scene on a train where they ruthlessly mock Millie & Chuck.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: They started off struggling, but around leg 10 they became serious threats to win.
- Miracle Rally: They started leg 9 in last place, missed the "operating hours" equalizer that evened out all the other teams, got majorly lost while trying to find the first clue, and tried to opt for the Fast Forward only to have to drive all the way back to the Detour location due to Chip & Reichen already having taken it. However, a sleep-deprived Chuck & Millie became so lost that Kelly & Jon ended up arriving at the Roadblock the exact same time as them, managed to complete the Roadblock just barely ahead of them, and beat them in a footrace to the Pit Stop.
- Motor Mouth: Kelly
- The Nicknamer: Though the nicknames were generally not very nice ones. Of special note were their nicknames for Millie & Chuck, "Millie Mole and the Werewolf."
- No Indoor Voice: Kelly
- One Steve Limit: Averted with Jon Weiss.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Jon's homophobia became a major storyline at the end of the season.
- Read The Freaking Clue: See Failed a Spot Check above.
- Trash Talk: Jon was downright nasty in his trash talking towards Reichen & Chip.
- Villainous Underdog: They were the first villain team to slip into an underdog role, playing the underdog to the three male teams in the top 4.
David Dean & Jeff Strand (The Goats)
Best Friends and businessmen. After a slow start, the Alpha males gotten the most leg wins with four. However, they are mostly known for being one of the two Final 3 teams who never made it to the Finish Line, but unlike Bill & Joe it was their own fault, as they jumped on a plane to Sydney without first booking tickets to Hawaii, stranding them overnight while the other teams found flights through Tokyo. They have the worst finishing average ever for a team who won four legs.
- All or Nothing: David called going after the Fast Forward do or die.
- Failed a Spot Check: Despite actually being fairly competent overall, they had several moments of this that the editors just loved to draw attention to (and let's face it: when you end up as the only team other than Bill & Joe who failed to reach the Finish Line, people are not exactly inclined to remember you as a paragon of competence). The most memorable instance of this was in Episode 9, when they drove right past where the Detour clue was located and had to repeatedly ask Jon & Al where it was, even as the camera guys helpfully showed that the clue was located within sight of their vehicle.
- Informed Flaw: Jeff mentioned he was afraid of heights in his pre-season bio.
- In-Series Nickname: The Goats
- Muscles Are Meaningful: Discussed in leg 4. They believed their physical abilities would benefit them but they stated that such belief worked to their detriment.
- Non-Gameplay Elimination: In the finale, no less. After falling so far behind, They were given a clue telling them Reichen & Chip had won the Race.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with Dave Cottingham.
- Out of Focus: Didn't have a storyline beyond "threatening alpha male team." It didn't help when they disappeared halfway through the final leg and failed to make it to the Finish Line. Their lack of identity led fans to call them "Team Who?"
- Precision F-Strike: David had multiple curse words censored out in leg 9 while driving and being lost.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: Jon Corso accused them of this in the finale when they took the flight to Sydney, saying they weren't looking at the big picture by not getting tickets all the way through to Hawaii before leaving.
- Those Two Guys: See Out of Focus.
Jon Weiss & Al Rios (The Clowns)
Friends and clowns, they quickly became fan favorites due to their good-natured antics, and were the only team who didn't seem interested in bickering over semantics about what was the right way to race. Ended up 4th when their flight was delayed two hours by fog.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: To their cab driver in India:Jon: Rapidito.Al: 'Rapidito' doesn't mean 'fast' in every language.
- Chewing the Scenery: Quite deliberately, in fact.
- In-Series Nickname: The Clowns
- Nice Guy: Easily the nicest pair in this race. They never seemed to quarrel with any of the racers or with each other. They even helped out other racers, not out of any "alliance" but just to be nice.
- Non-Ironic Clown: Are professional clowns because they want to be funny and entertaining, and they succeed at that.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with Jon Corso.
- Pintsized Powerhouse
- Plucky Comic Relief: They would perform for locals when they would get stuck waiting somewhere.
- Serious Business: Al stated the race was this in leg 4.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: Quite literally in this case.
- This Is a Race: Stated this in leg 4.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Al was not happy about picking up Live eels in Amsterdam.
Millie Smith & Chuck Shankles (The Virgins)
Dating virgins. They'd been together over a decade, but their inability to cooperate caused their relationship to deteriorate over the course of the season. Finished 5th when they had trouble finding the leg 9 Roadblock.
- Action Girl: Millie.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Particularly from Kelly & Jon.
- Big "YES!": Millie after learning the prize for winning Leg 5 was a cruise.
- Claustrophobia: Chuck, which led to one of his best moments when he started freaking out when trying to get into an F1 race car:Chuck: It's feeling tight! Hot and tight!
- Commitment Issues: Chuck stated that he was afraid of commitment in their introduction. This was reason they'd been dating for so long without sex and had yet to get married.
- Competition Freak: Millie was super competitive and called such by others, Chuck included.
- Down to the Last Play: In their last leg, they had fallen behind and long lost sight of any other teams that was not Kelly & Jon, as the two teams managed to find themselves back-to-back racing through the Roadblock and to the Pit Stop.
- High-School Sweethearts
- The Load: Chuck did everything slowly, much to Millie's consternation.
- The Masochism Tango: Caused by opposite personalities & killer fatigue.
- No Sense of Direction: Got lost looking for the Roadblock in leg 9. They drove around for hours before discovering that it was located where they started.
- One Head Taller
- Opposites Attract: Millie was a tiny ball of energy, while Chuck was more subdued.
- Pintsized Powerhouse: Millie
Tian Kitchen & Jaree Poteet
Models and friends. Tian was a strong racer who had to deal with Jaree's constant complaining. They ultimately finished 6th. Because they ended up getting eliminated in a leg in which Tian had to compete in a Roadblock that no woman had ever done before, it caused an uproar amongst the fans. It planted the suggestion that maybe the reason alpha male teams were so dominant was because the courses were being designed to favor them.
- Action Girl: Tian not only completed every Roadblock for her team, but, on leg 7, she was the first woman ever to participate in Bull Racing, and even made the local newspapers as a result.
- Control Freak: Jaree, according to Tian in their Pre-Game Bio.
- Dumb Blonde: Subverted with Tian.
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Tian the light, Jaree the dark.
- The Load: Jaree didn't do any Roadblocks, constantly complained about everything, and was unable to run due to getting easily winded.
- Ms. Fanservice: They are models after all.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Their elimination resulted in later seasons being designed differently to not give males a distinct advantage
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: At least until Tian resigned herself to just dealing with Jaree how she was.
- Values Dissonance: In-Universe. They complained about getting groped during a crowded train ride in India.
Monica Ambrose & Sheree Buchanan
Friends and wives of professional NFL players. They had a "minority alliance" with Reichen & Chip. They ended up finishing in 7th in India after deciding to walk instead of taking a bus like all the other teams, and they got too far behind to catch up. Sheree would later star as one of the leads on the short-lived VH1 reality "Atlanta Exes", on which Monica also appeared.
- Flipping the Bird: Monica flipped off Steve & Josh after they screwed them out of the better flight in the first leg.
- House Wife: Discussed in leg 1. They believed the other teams would viewed them like this.
- Pixellation: Monica flipped off Steve & Josh after they screwed them out of the better flight in the first leg by buying the last tickets available for Steve & Dave, who were standing behind Monica & Sheree in the line.
- Running Gag: Considering they couldn't go five minutes without talking about how their husbands were professional football players.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes??: Heights for Sheree.
Steve Meitz & Dave Cottingham
Older, out of shape air traffic controllers. In the first leg, Dave injured his knee climbing a hill, but they managed to survive long enough to finish 8th thanks to a Fast-Forward and other teams's mistakes.
- Game-Breaking Injury: Dave blowing out his knee in the first leg.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with both of them. Steve with Steve Cottingham and Steve Carmody. Dave with David Dean.
- Self-Deprecation: They would make fun of themselves both during and after the race in their recaps. From when Steve bungee jumped in Austria:Dave: "He got to the top of the tower and it was like an eclipse. Greenpeace showed up and said, 'Will you please stop throwing whales from the tower?'"
- Serial Spouse: Dave was married four times according to the pre-game bio.
Steve Cottingham & Josh Cottingham
Father and son team looking to find common ground after recently starting to get along. After winning both the firstnote and third note legs, they got lost early on in France, falling far behind the other teams and ending up in 9th.
- Nerd Glasses: Josh.
- No Sense of Direction
- One Steve Limit: Averted with Steve Meitz and Steve Carmody.
- Self-Deprecation: Josh called himself a dumbass in his final leg.
- Something We Forgot: Leg 4, the race to the mat between Kelly & Jon and Steve & Dave was edited to look like the battle to avoid elimination, with even the sad elimination music being played as Steve & Dave strolled up to the mat. Only after Steve & Dave were told they were still in the race did it cut to Steve & Josh, who had fallen hopelessly behind and quietly disappeared from the episode halfway through.
- Stealth Pun: Steve was a prison guard and in the opening credits Josh was behind a metal fence. Josh looked like he was behind bars.
Cindy Duck & Russell Brown
Friends, Cindy wanted to see if there was something more there, but Russell didn't. This caused them to clash. They finished in 10th when they mistakenly got train tickets to Gmund instead of Gmunden, Austria.
- Just Friends: How Russell wanted their relationship to be. However, He didn't even get that as they stop speaking to each other after the race.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with Season 2 team Cyndi & Russell.
- Relationship Upgrade: What Cindy was hoping for. However this was Averted, as they stopped talking to each other after the Race.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork
Amanda Adams & Chris Garry
Dating couple from South Dakota. They tied for first on the first leg, but got eliminated on the very next when Chris fell apart at the mask Roadblock.
- Call-Back: In the premiere, Chris called Amanda "Flo" when she started lagging behind, in reference to Flo's constant lagging and complaining in the previous season.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Amanda suffered a severe case of road rage on the way to the airport in the premiere, and started cursing out all the other teams. Made funnier by the fact that she was small and cutesy, and looked like a total Goshdang It To Heck type during the team introductions. Also in Italy to each other because of Amanda walking slower than Chris like.
- Girlish Pigtails: Amanda at the starting line.
- Hidden Depths: The Pre-Game Bio says that Amanda comes across as sweet and innocent, but underneath she is a tough, foul-mouthed girl.
- Informed Attribute: Chris called his humor of the Self Decaprecation type but they left before we saw any humor.
- One Head Taller
- One Steve Limit: Averted with Season 14 and 18 team Amanda & Kris.
Steve Carmody & Debra Carmody
Overweight and out of shape married couple, their lack of physical ability doomed them to be the first team eliminated from the very beginning. They were considered the worst team to ever run the race until Dana & Adrian in Season 16.
- Face Plant: Their most memorable moment is Debra's face plant while running through a jetway. She noted later "I wish I could say I tripped over something, but I didn't."
- Happily Married: Their Elimination Statement makes it explicit.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with Steve Meitz and Steve Cottingham.