After the failed experiment that was the Family Edition, a preview for the Race's 9th season promised a much-needed return to form. However, the season started off very slowly, partially thanks to two teams dominating the season from the very beginning (in both placements and, by extension, screen time). The overly predictable nature of the season, with those two teams winning 11 of the 13 legs, the over-reliance on "Needle in a Haystack" tasks, and having two of the most popular teams going out early failed to recapture the momentum that stalled with Family Edition, and the season garnered even worse ratings. However, the season itself did earn many fans, especially since it contains one of the most popular teams to run the race, and the exciting finale started the trend of Final Exam Finale tasks appearing more regularly.
Brian Jeffrey "B.J." Averell & Tyler MacNiven (The Hippies)
University friends, Tyler was a filmmaker who first came to prominence with his documentary Kintaro Walks Japan, which he made to impress his Japanese girlfriend. They were very wacky and outgoing, and became one of the most popular teams to ever run the race due to their comedic antics. They dominated the season alongside Eric & Jeremy, though to a lesser degree, as they went through a slump in the middle of the season in which they barely escaped elimination three times in four legs. Upon arriving in Colorado during the finale, they fell behind Eric & Jeremy during the initial string of cab rides. However, B.J. was able to pass Eric during the final flags Roadblock, winning them the Race.
- Badass Beard: Both of them as expected of Hippies.
- Bad Liar: When confronted by Monica at the mat at the end of leg 9, saying that they had been spreading rumors about her and Eric to cause friction, Tyler stammered for a few seconds before B.J. said, "There were no mind games."
- Batman Gambit: During leg 9, they decided to needle Joseph about the flirting between Eric and Monica in order to cause friction in their alliance.
- Blackmail: According to Joseph & Monica, B.J & Tyler threatened to Yield them unless they gave the Hippies money after their first non-elimination save. MoJo did not come through with the money, and so they got Yielded.
- Born Lucky: When they fell behind, they were saved by another team getting even more lost than them, and went on to survive twice in the next three legs due to non-elimination points.
- Call It Karma: They were both believers in this sort of Karma, and brought it up several times.
- Catch-Phrase Spouting Duo: Possibly the most catchphrase-heavy racers ever, with their power word "T-TOW!" and "Frat Boys!!!" featuring most prominently.
- Failed a Spot Check: In the finale, they took several minutes to find their snowshoes at the chalet, passing right by the snowshoes at one point.
- Fan Disservice: Upon losing his shoes and pants after their second non-elimination, B.J. received a pair of skintight purple nightmare pants from Yolanda. Luckily, he only wore them for a brief time before finding replacement pants.
- Follow That Car: Did this often times with Monica & Joseph which served to exacerbate the dating couple's hatred of them.
- Friendly Rivalry: With Eric & Jeremy, in which they even acted as if they were in a sitcom.
- Global Ignorance: Invoked during their "ghosts of racers gone" impersonations during leg 7. Their impersonation of Danielle & Dani involved the line, "Is Oman in China?"
- The Glomp: B.J. grabbed and kissed Phil on the cheek when they avoided elimination in leg 7.
- Granola Guy: Went with their designation as modern day hippies.
- Hat Damage: B.J.'s cowboy hat becomes noticeably more ragged over the course of the race.
- In-Series Nickname: The Hippies.
- Large Ham: Mainly Tyler, though both had many moments of hamming it up for the camera.
- Nice Guys Finish Last: Quoted in leg 10 when they missed the first flight... right before they got a better one.
- Nice Hat: B.J.'s cowboy hat, and the frog hat he wore in Greece, and the top hat he picked up in Australia.
- No Sense of Direction: They drove one hour in the wrong direction in leg 6, but stayed in the race due to Lake & Michelle getting even more lost.
- Read the Freaking Clue: Along with Ray & Yolanda and Lake & Michelle, they got off their train early in Corinth, Greece in leg 6 instead of taking it all the way to the Isthmos station, and got a 15-minute penalty.
- Revenge Before Reason: They Yielded Monica & Joseph in leg 9 (for not giving them money after they had been hit with the mugging penalty the previous leg and suspicions of canceling their cab earlier in that leg) instead of Eric & Jeremy, who had won the majority of the legs at that point.
- Sitcom Archnemesis: They battled Joseph & Monica for the second half of the season due to the couple not giving them money after they were non-eliminated.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Their wacky hijinks and interactions with most of the other teams were the main focus of the season.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Post-Race. To the surprise of many, they were never in consideration for All-Stars, as Bertram van Munster said he felt their story had been played out, and Phil said he felt Uchenna & Joyce were the more popular winners. Along with Chip & Kim, they openly complained about this snub, released a video mocking the teams they felt were "lesser choices," called themselves the most popular team to ever run the race, and the "most winningest winners ever to win." It was that kind of behavior that put into question whether their rivalry with Joseph & Monica was as one sided as it looked.
- This could also apply to their second half of the game with their rivalry with Mo Jo, they proved to be willing to sink as low as their rivals by blackmailing them with a Yield to get them to give them money after being non-eliminated (something that's always done out of charity not obligation) and trying to start a rumor that Monica was flirting with Eric. All the while claiming they were playing the nice guys of the race.
- Underdogs Always Win: Though they were clearly better than the rest of the pack, they were treated as such compared to Eric & Jeremy, who finished 1st in six of the first nine episodes.
- The World Is Just Awesome: The subject of their victory speech. Also, they took time to admire the Russian cathedral before getting back to the race.
Eric Sanchez & Jeremy Ryan (Frat Boys)
- Jeremy: We want to win. Whatever it takes to win.Eric: It's like trying to get into girls' pants, y'know, lie, cheat, steal. You know, whatever you can.
Best friends, they were obsessed with the women of the world, including fellow team Danielle & Dani, and flirted with these women constantly. They dominated the first two-thirds of the season, hitting six of the first nine mats in 1st place, and were the first team to put up a finishing average better than 2.00note . Though they managed to get out to a lead in the finale, Eric stumbled at the Final Roadblock, unable to remember order of the countries they had visited, and they ended up 2nd.
While the two as a team were not asked back for All-Stars, Eric was asked back on the condition that he race with Danielle (from Danielle & Dani), whom he had started dating after the season.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: At the Virtual Pit Stop in leg 3 in Moscow when the clue said to go to Frankfurt:Jeremy: How do we get there?Eric: Airport.
- Born Lucky: A majority of their six 1st place finishes (including both parts of the Super Leg) were aided by luck, either because other teams got delayed by airport/plane snafusnote , or because they completed "needle in a haystack" tasks quicklynote ). They were also able to cruise along at the front of the pack during the longest stretch of Race without an equalizer since Season 1. Prior to leg 5, B.J. & Tyler talked about how much dumb luck they had been getting, but they also said dumb luck eventually runs out.
- Backstab Backfire: In the process of canceling B.J. & Tyler's and Ray & Yolanda's cabs in leg 9, they ended up canceling their own as well.
- Call It Karma: They said it was Karma that their cab didn't show up when they canceled the other teams'.
- Casanova Wannabe: They flirted with every woman they came across to varying success.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: They only finished below 2nd once, and teams other than B.J. & Tyler only beat them to the mat four times over the course of the season.
- Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: At the beginning of leg 9, they tried to cancel the other teams' cabs by masquerading as Ray and Tyler on the phone. This backfired when they realized their own cab was canceled as well. Word of God says their own cab getting canceled is the only reason they avoided getting a penalty for sabotaging the other teams, as they were the ones who suffered most from it.
- Dumb Muscle: They were called this by B.J. & Tyler.
- Frameup: When Ray & Yolanda and B.J. & Tyler discovered that their cabs had been cancelled, Eric & Jeremy were quick to cast the blame on Monica & Joseph, the only team whose cab did show up.
- Fratbro: What earned them the nickname "The Fratboys," despite never having gone to college.
- Friendly Rivalry: With B.J. & Tyler.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Quite a bit of what they said (like the quote above) got past the radar on what is a family show.
- Global Ignorance: While driving in Japan:Jeremy: That's a big mountain. Mt. Tokyo.Eric: Dumbass, must be Mt. Fuji.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Barely a scene went by without them mentioning the ladies. Seriously, you could probably make a drinking game out of it.
- Ho Yay: Intentionally invoked, as Eric admitted after All-Stars, especially with B.J. & Tyler.
- In-Series Nickname: Frat Boys (or Frat Girls for Ray & Yolanda).
- Lame Pun Reaction : After carrying the swordfish during the Detour in leg 5.Phil: I have to tell you, you guys stink.Jeremy: It's a new cologne we're trying out, it's called "Sword".Cut to the Pit Stop Greeter shaking his head.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Their play style according to Joseph & Monica and B.J. & Tyler. They would so blindly strive for first place that they ignored any and all sense or strategy in going for it. It showed in leg 7, the one leg where they finished below 2nd, as, leaving the Roadblock, they were in a solid 3rd place, but decided to risk a possible shortcut in order to jump back up to 1st. They got lost and wound up 4th.
- Love Triangle: When Eric supposedly flirted with Monica, causing increased tension between her and Joseph.
- Mistaken Identity: When the clue in Shibuya Crossing told them to find Hachiko, they asked some nearby women where to find it. The women naturally pointed them in the direction of the statue, where they found the man holding their next clue. For some reason, they thought the man was Hachiko, and wondered how the women knew who Hachiko was.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness:
- They shared a cab with Danielle & Dani in Moscow.
- At the Finish Line, Jeremy said that, "We didn't know the last task was gonna be brains." Most of the time there's a task or clue in the final leg after arriving back in the U.S. that requires relying on brains. Rob even admonished himself for forgetting this fact during the commentaries on the Season 7 DVD, when he didn't think to ask for the "King of the Havanas" in Spanish.
- Running Gag: Their often douchey obsession with women.
- Short Cuts Make Long Delays: They left the Roadblock in Oman in 3rd place, but decided to take a shortcut to possibly jump back up to 1st. They ended up getting lost and dropping to 4th, ending Their No-Damage Run.
- The Slacker: They claimed to be such in their pre-race interview.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Like B.J. & Tyler, they were this by being dominant and due to their rivalry, though to a lesser degree.
- Token Romance: With Danielle & Dani.
- Unskilled, but Strong: Jeremy more so than Eric. Eric claimed the secret to their success early in the race was just being idiots reading their clues. Of course, when it came time for them to think in the finale, they lost.
Raymond "Ray" Whitty & Yolanda Moore
Long distance dating couple. They generally kept to themselves, out of the friendships and drama building between the other teams. They survived almost being eliminated several times due to other teams' mistakes, keeping a somewhat positive attitude and avoiding fighting for the good majority of the race. In the finale they had trouble finding the hidden clue at the Clear Creek Historical Park in the finale, dropping behind the other teams and finishing 3rd.
- Construction Catcalls: While doing the motorcycle Detour in the first leg, a bunch of men stood around, Wolf Whistling and commenting on Yolanda's body.
- Flipping the Bird: Ray flicked off Yolanda while crossing the RioAntirrio bridge at the beginning of leg 7.
- Long-Distance Relationship
- No Sense of Direction: This is what left them completely unable to compete with B.J. & Tyler and Eric & Jeremy in the final legs, as they would constantly have to stop and ask for directions.
- Pixellation: When Ray flicked off Yolanda at the beginning of leg 7.
- Read the Freaking Clue: Along with B.J. & Tyler and Lake & Michelle, they got off their train early in Corinth, Greece instead of taking it all the way to the Isthmos station, and got a 15-minute penalty.
- Sassy Black Woman: Yolanda often fell into this role, when fighting with Ray, or when talking about Eric & Jeremy.
- Scary Black Man: Yolanda would make fun of Ray for the way he presented himself to locals, saying he was coming off as this.
- She's Got Legs: Yolanda, which frequently got brought up throughout the race. In the ice hole drilling Detour, she wished she could use her legs rather than her weaker arms.
- Trash Talk: Ray did this to Danielle at the Roadblock in leg 4.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: For Yolanda, it was water.
Joseph Meadows & Monica Cayce (MoJo)
Young dating couple, they were the only team that could regularly keep up with B.J. & Tyler and Eric & Jeremy. They tried to establish themselves as a strong adventurous couple similar to Kris & Jon early on, but thanks to a combination of uneven characterization (going from Dumb Blonde and boyfriend to villains in leg 8 with no set up or reasoning), sour attitudes, bickering over the tiniest little things, and a contempt for the fan-favorite team and eventual winners, they were seen as anything but. Ultimately, Monica's meltdown during the pot-carrying Detour in Thailand cost them a spot in the Final 3, and left them in 4th.
- Always Second Best: Due to the Hippie/Frat Boy domination.
- Conflict Ball: All of a sudden in leg 8 they were bitter enemies with the Hippies after having almost no interaction with them before that.
- The Mojo/Eric Love Triangle that popped up for a single episode without ever being hinted at before, and was never mentioned again.
- Dumb Blonde: Discussed, with Monica saying people saw her this way, but she was smarter than she looked.
- Failed a Spot Check: They continued to argue after their Yield timer had run out, standing there longer than they had to.
- Hate Sink: Having a feud with the show's most popular team at that point will make you the target of a lot of fans' hatred.
- Irrational Hatred: The poor editing makes their feud with B.J. & Tyler come off like this.
- Jerkass: Both of them, Joseph moreso.
- The Load: Monica, who managed to cry or break down at almost every little thing.
- Manipulative Editing: The show made it look like they were in a race with B.J. & Tyler to see who could Yield the other first, but they actually lost their Yield sticker early in the season, and therefore the power to use it.
- Ms. Fanservice: Monica. The camera had a certain fascination with her breasts.
- Never My Fault: See Read the Freaking Clue.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: They weren't bad racers per say, but most of the time, they failed to beat Eric & Jeremy and B.J. & Tyler at the same time. This pretty much meant they are forever forgotten next to the two "dominant" teams. The only time they did arrive before the Frat Boys and Hippies, They still lost that leg to Fran & Berry.
- Portmanteau Couple Name: Invoked. They wore "Mo" and "Jo" shirts to emphasize this.
- Read the Freaking Clue: When they misread the Detour clue in leg 8, only retrieving one lobster instead of two, they blamed their mistake on always having the worst luck.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: They shared a cab with Dave & Lori in Moscow.
- Sitcom Archnemesis: A very mean-spirited one with B.J. & Tyler. It started when they didn't like that B.J. & Tyler threatened to Yield them if they didn't give the Hippies money after their first non-elimination penalty.
- Villainous Underdog: They were portrayed as B.J. & Tyler's big rivals despite never winning a leg and being not nearly as big of a threat as Eric & Jeremy.
Francis "Fran" Lazarus & Bernard "Barry" Lazarus
Cancer survivor and her husband. They frequently missed things in plain sight, but after a slow start, they managed to make it two-thirds of the way through the season, mostly because they were the only team with any ability to navigate. They are the oldest team in the series to win a leg without a Fast Forward, and Phil was noticeably shocked when they arrived first in the 7th leg. However, their luck ran out in the following leg when the cab they called ahead for didn't show up at the Fremantle Ferry, and they fell behind the other teams, finishing 5th.
- Accidental Misnaming: For some reason, Yolanda kept calling them "Frank & Barry"
- Bald of Awesome: Barry.
- Big "OMG!": Barry when he learned that he and Fran weren't the last team to arrive in the second leg, and after winning the 7th leg.
- Cool Old Guy and Cool Old Lady: They are the oldest team to ever win a leg, and not a cupcake leg either, as the Roadblock involved searching through a bunch of holes for a bag of meat in the middle of the desert. In the next episode, they complained that the race was ruining their sex life.
- Failed a Spot Check: In the first leg, they spent over half an hour looking for the cluebox, passing it up multiple times, sometimes even coming within arm's length of the box, with the cameraman pointing it out every time. When they found it, Fran thought someone had moved it. They almost did the same thing in Italy, but much less time was lost in that case. Barry also backed his car into the lone tree in a parking lot in Greece at one point.
- Happily Married: For 40 years at the time of filming.
- High-School Sweethearts: They met when they were 16 and 18 respectively. Even called this word for word in their bio.
- The Navigator: They were the only team on the season with any ability to navigate.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Barry had an American Flag bandanna.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Bungee jumping for Fran.
Terry "Lake" Garner & Michelle Garner
Dentist and his wife/assistant from Mississippi, Lake was known for his loud, aggressive, often abusive behavior, which was mostly directed at Michelle. He would eventually break down when they got lost looking for the Pit Stop in Greece, dropping them behind B.J. & Tyler, and landing them 6th.
- Chewing the Scenery: Lake, when he would lose his temper.
- Global Ignorance: Lake thought they spoke Spanish in Brazil.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Lake's, "Daggummit."
- Idiot Ball: They made a series of mistakes at the Munich airport in the fourth leg that dropped them out of the lead pack with B.J. & Tyler and Eric & Jeremy. Though they were the first team to think of booking tickets to Palermo online, they couldn't get the website to switch to English, allowing B.J. & Tyler to scoop out the tickets from under them. They then didn't stick around at the counter like Eric & Jeremy, and therefore missed out on standby tickets. They found a later flight, but just blindly booked the tickets, while three other teams found a faster connecting flight in Rome (including Fran & Barry, who talked to the same exact woman they did), putting them on the last flight with Danielle & Dani and Ray & Yolanda.
- Jerkass: Lake, due to his often abusive behavior towards Michelle.
- The Load: Michelle. She second-guessed every one of Lake's decisions, and refused to take a diving Roadblock in fear that she might have to do it naked.
- The Masochism Tango: They spent a lot of time fighting, which reached its climax in their last leg, with Lake's "Shut up, bitch!"
- Never My Fault: In the first leg, after realizing that his idea to pull over and call ahead to reserve tickets on the first flight was against the rules, Lake called the idea, "partially my fault."
- No Sense of Direction: What got them eliminated, as they got lost looking for the Pit Stop in leg 6.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Lake.
- Read the Freaking Clue:
- In the first leg they pulled off the highway to call ahead and reserve tickets on the first flight when they were required to purchase them at the marked counter.
- Along with Ray & Yolanda and B.J. & Tyler, they got off their train early in Corinth, Greece instead of taking it all the way to the Isthmos station.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: Lake tried calling ahead for tickets during the opening sprint to the Denver International Airport, something that had never been allowed in the first leg, as teams are required to buy their pre-booked tickets at the marked counters.
- Sequence Breaking: They mistakenly ran to the Pit Stop in leg 4 instead of the Roadblock location. They lost time, but not position, due to this error.
- Southern Belle: Michelle talked about this in her introduction, and how this is the stereotype of all Southern women.
David "Dave" Spiker & Lori Willems (The Nerds)
Dating nerd couple. They had a pleasant relationship to the point that Dave immediately regretted the one fight they had. They fell behind at the Detour in the 4th leg, and as the following leg had no full equalizer in leg 5, they were unable to catch up with the other teams, and even fell behind fellow trailing team Ray & Yolanda, finishing 7th. They were one of the 15 teams selected by Phil to come back for All-Stars, though they did not end up making the cut.
- Proud to Be a Geek: They constantly referred to themselves as "Nerds in Love".
- This Is A Race: They started quoting this after the cab sharing with Joseph & Monica in the 3rd leg turned sour on them.
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: They shared a cab with Joseph & Monica in Moscow, which ended up backfiring on them.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Referred to themselves as "Nerds in Love". Also Invoked by BJ & Tyler in the "ghosts of racers gone" scene, saying they would be making out.
Danielle Turner & Dani Torchio (The Double-D's)
Friends, as the season's dumb blonde team, they constantly made bone-headed mistakes that almost got them eliminated, though they were far more memorable for all the flirting they did with Eric & Jeremy. They have the distinction of being the only direct victims of the Yield in the series (since no other team was eliminated on the same leg they got Yielded) when Lake & Michelle Yielded them near the end of the 4th leg, and Dani subsequently struggled with the statue Roadblock, allowing Ray to pass them, and finished 8th. Danielle was invited back for All-Stars under the requirement that she team with Eric.
- Buxom Is Better: Hence their nickname, the Double-D's.
- Driving Stick: They had many issues with their stick shift, which was one of the things that caused them to fall behind.
- Dumb Blonde: Among other things, they managed to survive leaving their fanny pack behind in Russia.
- Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Called them such in their introduction in the first episode.
- In-Series Nickname: Most notably the Double-D's but also the Pinks.
- Ms. Fanservice: Again, they were called the Double-D's for a reason.
- No Sense of Direction: They followed behind fellow lost team Wanda & Desiree as they drove in circles in Germany in the second half of leg 3.
- One Steve Limit: A particularly notable aversion, as one of them had their name shortened so that the team wouldn't be named "Danielle & Danielle".
- Pink Means Feminine: Their Color Motif to the point that their other nickname was "The Pinks".
- Reality Show Genre Blindness: They shared a cab with Eric & Jeremy in Moscow.
- Token Romance: With Eric & Jeremy.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: For Danielle, the rappelling Roadblock in leg 2.
Wanda Lopez-Rochford & Desiree Cifre (Team Boricua)
Mother/daughter pair. They started off strong by finishing 3rd in the first leg, but were hit hard by Killer Fatigue during the double-leg, leading them to get terribly lost in Germany, and were then narrowly beaten out by Danielle & Dani at the needle-in-a-haystack gnome Roadblock, finishing 9th.
- Hidden Depths: Desiree is a video game scriptwriter and thus displays nerdy traits despite her celebrity-like appearance.
- The Load: Wanda, most notably when she freaked out in the Russian swimming pool in leg 3 while Desiree attempted to encourage her. Playing the de facto parent eventually took its toll on Desiree, leading to her breakdown at the gnome task.
- No Sense of Direction: Desiree even admits they got lost a lot upon their elimination.
- The World Is Just Awesome: Their reaction to seeing Sao Paulo during a helicopter ride, to the point that Desiree said they would be grateful for the experience no matter what place they ended up.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Wanda and underwater diving.
Lisa Hinds & Joni Glaze (The Glamazons)
Sisters, they were loud. Very loud. Their bickering caused them to get lost and fall behind, enough to end up in 10th.
- Big Beautiful Woman: They believed themselves to be this. Lisa states they were representing all Big Boned women in America.
- Broken Tears: Lisa, upon their elimination.
- Global Ignorance: Joni not realizing that they spoke Portuguese in Brazil.Joni: I thought Spanish was the universal language of the world.
- In-Series Nickname: Aside from Glamazons, they were also referred to as Frosties. This extended post-race, as Joni uses the nickname FrostieJ on online message boards.
- No Indoor Voice: They were very loud, and it annoyed the other teams.
- No Sense of Direction: They fought during the second leg and got lost, and it led to their elimination.
- Sibling Team: A pair of sisters.
- Surprise Difficulty: Discussed In-Universe after departing for the second leg.
John Lowe & Scott Braginton-Smith
Gay friends, they suffered from two bad cab drivers and constant bickering, which led to them going out first in 11th place.
- Born Unlucky: A pair of bad cab drivers put them in last.
- Just Friends: Made explicit in their Introduction by Scott.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: John and Scott were the first team to finish in last and get the ax.