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Elimination Houdini / American Idol

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Every season of American Idol has had at least one Elimination Houdini, usually endorsed by the now-defunct VoteForTheWorst.com:

  • Season 1 had Nikki McKibbin
  • Season 2 had Carmen Rasmusen and Josh Gracin (mostly because for the one time he escaped the bottom two while Ruben Studdard didn't)
    • Gracin has had quite a bit of success in country music, despite Simon pretty much saying that he wouldn't amount to anything.
  • Season 3 had John Stevens and Jasmine Trias. The latter, in fairness, started out strong but couldn't deal with the pressure of the late stages of the competition (where contestants perform multiple songs in an episode) and was carried by early momentum past the point that she should have left (incidentally, right around the time that Stevens did leave.)
    • As well as runner-up Diana DeGarmo, who by the end of the show was good enough to deserve the runner-up spot but probably never should've survived long enough to get there.
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  • Season 4 had Scott Savol and Constantine Maroulis.
  • Season 5 had Kellie Pickler (who, ironically, has had a lot of success in country music)
    • ...and some say the eventual winner, Taylor Hicks, was one of these as well.
    • Ace Young was somewhat accused for getting to the Top 24 mainly for being Mr. Fanservice, specifically towards Paula.
    • Brenna Gethers managed to be in the Top 12 girls only because the judges liked her confrontational, catty personality and her one-time Jerkass Has a Point moment.
    • Twins Derrell and Terrell Brittenum were both becoming increasingly hammy and full of themselves as they advanced through Hollywood Week. However, a major run-in with Johnny Law completely nixed each of their shots in the Top 12 Guys.
  • Season 6 had Sanjaya Malakar, who almost became the Trope Namer. Vote For The Worst played a huge part in this.
    • Haley Scarnato survived multiple rounds seemingly on the strength of Fanservice. Some theorize that the presence of two Elimination Houdinis strengthened both of them, as their fans reasoned that there was someone more deserving of elimination than their contestant and voted accordingly.
  • Season 7 had Jason Castro and Kristy Lee Cook.
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    • Amanda Overmyer was one for even making it to top 12 in the first place.
    • A few saw Josiah Leming as this during Hollywood Week.
    • Arguably, David Archuleta, the runner-up for that season, was one.
  • Season 8 had Nick/Norman and Tatiana going into the final 36
    • Though Tatiana was inexplicably brought back as a Wild Card choice to compete for one of the final spots, fortunately neither she nor Nick/Norman made it into the top 13.
    • Yet another candidate was Lil Rounds, who somehow held on despite several weeks of horrible performances, which had her in the bottom three each week.
  • Season 9 had Tim Urban, Haeley Vaughn, Paige Miles and Todrick Hall.
    • Tim Urban's powers of elimination avoidance also earned him the Fan Nickname "Teflon Tim." Coincidentally, Urban came in 7th place, which was where Sanjaya also finished.
    • Even Michael Lynche wasn't immune to this as some thought he wasn't really all that talented.
    • Though he was a fairly good singer, many saw Casey James as this season's Ace Young as he mostly got by the strength of his Fanservice, especially to Kara DioGuardi.
  • Season 10's Stefano Langone. Doesn't help he was the last person to be declared safe when Pia Toscano was eliminated.
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    • Somewhat Zig-Zagged with Casey Abrams who was inconsistent throughout the live shows. It didn't help that many were outraged the Judges one-time save was wasted on him instead of, say, Pia Toscano.
    • Jacob Lusk after the first couple of weeks.
      • Haley Reinhart, at least until about the Top 7. Things changed, and she would eventually become The Woobie. The reversal was so dramatic (pretty much unprecedented in "Idol" history) that her third-place finish was considered a Shocking Elimination in some quarters.
    • Tiffany Rios, during Round 1 of Hollywood Week, made a tasteless remark on contestants' singing ability on stage and she still advanced to Group Round. However, thanks to her mouth no one wanted to group with her. She managed to team up with one girl from another group, but the duo gave a horrendous performance and both were sent home right then and there.
      • Clint Jun Gamboa took a lot of heat from viewers after kicking out Jacee Badeaux from his group during Hollywood Week and yet still managed to get in Top 12 guys. Whether or not it was well deserved, he was among the first to be eliminated in the live shows.
  • Season 11 had DeAndre Brackensick and Heejun Han, both VoteForTheWorst-endorsed.
    • This season also had Elise Testone and Hollie Cavanagh. While both are definitely not bad singers, both had landed in the bottom numerous times despite drawing praise from judge and mentor alike.
      • The first time, Elise was the girl with the lowest votes and had to be saved by the judges. She landed in the bottom five more times. Elise met her end on her 6th time (a week after both her and Hollie were spared over fan favourite Colton Dixon)
      • Hollie suffered a severe case of Badass Decay making her land in the bottom 5 times in six weeks. Hollie made it to the final four.
    • There's also Philip Phillips, who managed to be safe from elimination, make the finale and win the whole thing despite the judges and mentor consistently giving him mediocre feedback. He was also VoteForTheWorst-endorsed.
  • Season 12 had Lazaro Arbos who is a shining example of how an "inspiring" backstory can get you much farther than you should.
  • Season 13 featured Dexter Roberts, for being mediocre nearly every week, and CJ Harris who could be good but was very poor the rest of the time.
    • Sam Woolf was another one. While not bad, his range wasn't very wide and his performances weren't especially memorable. But they used the Judge's Save on him despite a lackluster performance and being in the bottom 3 multiple times. And a few weeks later, when he had the lowest votes again, the show offered to have a week where no eliminations happened if there was a unanimous vote. (Jena Irene and Alex Preston both voted against it.)
  • Season 14's Daniel Seavey has been considered as possibly the biggest elimination houdini in the history of the show - even giving Sanjaya a run for his money. Ironically, he's since become the most successful member of the season as a member of the boy band Why Don't We.
    • Rayvon Owen from season 14 isn't a bad singer, but has managed to get in the bottom two four weeks in a row, and then get saved every single time by the new "fan save", a feature where people can vote to save their favorite of the bottom two in real time provided they are living on the east coast (or voting hours before the show) and have a Twitter account. He then scraped by in the bottom two the next week when the fan save portion was over, before finally placing in fourth. Some conspiracy theorists suggest that this "Twitter Save" was introduced to try to counteract the historic disadvantage that African-Americans are at on the show, as Twitter is used by African-Americans at a disproportionate rate to their overall representation in the American population, but it should be noted that two of the four contestants that he won these saves over were also African-American.
  • Season 15 had Gianna Isabella (who only got as far as she did due to nepotism — her mother, Brenda K. Starr, is friends with judge Jennifer Lopez) as well as the undercooked Lee Jean and Tristan McIntosh. Jeneve Rose Mitchell was also considered one going into the Top 24, but ultimately didn't get enough votes to make the Top 10.
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