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Elimination Houdini / America's Next Top Model

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Almost each cycle had at least one.

  • The Ur-Example is Robin Manning from the inaugural cycle. Not only is her pictures and performances mediocre, but she also had an attitude and constantly whined on set. She managed to finished 4th.
    • Also in the first cycle, Shannon Stewart managed to make it to runner-up position despite refusing to participate in a nude photo shoot. (To be fair to the show, options are presented to models who don't feel it's necessary to disrobe in such a way; in Stewart's case she was offered flesh-colored lingerie yet still declined.)
    • Justified in both cases. Robin, while not as strong as front-runners Elyse and Adrienne, still performed well enough to land in the middle of the pack. Combine that with quite a few girls shooting themselves in the foot along the way (namely Nicole in Week 3 and Kesse in Week 6), and Robin making it as far as she did makes sense. Shannon had a near-flawless portfolio and for the most part was right behind Elyse and Adrienne in leading the pack. The nude photo shoot was one that both Shannon AND Robin declined to participate in, and since Tyra couldn't send both of them home, she sent home the girl with the inferior portfolio (Robin). Shannon stayed over Elyse simply because she proved herself to be the more versatile model (being able to be both commercial AND high-fashion while Elyse was strictly high-fashion).
  • Ann from Cycle 3 is the Trope Maker. Despite her very strong runway walk and beautiful looks, she was in the bottom two almost every episode, and even when she wasn't, the judges (especially Jay Manuel) would complain about her "dead eyes" despite her beauty. She eventually finished fourth. Post-show, fortunately, she got better.
  • Cycle 4 had Keenyah Hill, who finished in 3rd. Despite starting off relatively strong in the competition, she never really had the strongest photos in the competition. One could argue her performance declines after they get to South Africa, and being chosen in favor of fan-favorite Brittany Brower, who got eliminated despite having a consistently stronger performance, and a stronger photo, that particular week. In addition, once they got overseas, the judges did nothing but criticize Keenyah for her weight, so it seemed pretty pointless to keep her as far as the top 3.
  • Cycle 5 had Bre Scullark and Jayla Rubinelli. The former finished 3rd despite landing on the bottom 2 four times, while the latter survived twice in a row despite having bland photos, first because it's a non-elimination weekend and the second because the other person in the bottom 2 was perceived as arrogant. Jayla finished 4th.
  • Cycle 6's Jade was kept on for villain purposes, despite being in the bottom two 4 times.
    • She was the moment a lot of people realized the show was rigged. Alongside multiple appearances in the bottom two, she also had a raging ego, an awful attitude and was already 26 at the time of taping (ancient for a model), not to mention she didn't just survive past her expiration date, she survived until the final three.
  • Cycle 7 featured Jaeda, who was told that she sucked pretty much every week but was kept around until the overseas trip because Tyra apparently liked having a plaything (and whenever she 'was' at real risk of going home, another model tended to implode during a panel challenge, saving her from elimination)
  • Ambreal of Cycle 9 who was actually eliminated, but got a reprieve when her fellow bottom two contestant Ebony quit right on the spot. She spent the next two weeks telling the Confession Cam how she wasn't supposed to be there before she was eliminated for good.
  • Whitney Thompson from Cycle 10, who ended up winning despite acting as a pageant queen on panel and sometimes overact in her performances, which is called out, causing her to have a struggling period from the Top 7 to Top 5 and having 4 bottom 2 performances against Anya, who had none while also having 5 first call outs.
    • Due to her potential and an amazing post career, fans conveniently forget that by starting off being less experienced compared to the other girls before improving, by the time she & Whitney ended up on Bottom 2 at the Final 3, Fatima Siad actually has the same amount of bottom 2 performances as Whitney, one of them include her not participating in a photoshoot because of her visa issues.
  • Aminat Ayinde in Cycle 12 managed to make the top 3, who despite her good looks and beautiful, tall physique, had mediocre photos throughout the competition, and was criticized for her lack of versatility in photos. However, the judges saw more potential in her over other contestants, despite her constant mediocre performance.
  • Erin Wagner from Cycle 13. She was in the bottom two three consecutive times before she got the boot in 3rd/4th place.
  • Esther Petrack from Cycle 15 managed to finished 7th despite the judges constantly complaining about her dull photos.
  • Angelea Preston from Cycle 17 became a textbook example when she made it to the top 4 over Dominique, and then the top 3 over Laura. Overall, she survived elimination four times despite her inconsistent performance in photoshoots and challenges and having a severe case of Inferiority Superiority Complex. In fact, she allegedly won but was disqualified for unspecific reasons. Makes you feel bad about Dominique and Laura though..
  • In a Moment of Awesome, Alisha White from Cycle 18 defied this. She was runner-up on Britain's Next Top Model Cycle 6 where she had a No-Damage Run. On ANTM, she won best photo twice but landed on the bottom 2 twice as well. After she was spared for the third time, she decided to quit because she didn't want to be an Elimination Houdini and because the remaining contestants were front-runners with, at the time, No Damage Runs.
  • Cycle 20's Phil Sullivan escaped elimination quite a few times despite a subpar performance.
  • In Cycle 24, it was Jeana Turner, three times. She was in the bottom two in the round Brendi K quit. She was reinstated in the comeback episode after being the final contestant to be called. And finally, guest panelist Philipp Plein wanted her to walk in his show when she was in the bottom two.
  • In an international version, Stephanie from Cycle 1 of Asia's next top model. She was in the bottom 2 five times, 2 of which were non elimination ones. She made it to the finale and finished as runner up. Poor girl looked really broken by the end.
  • Australia's Next Top Model Cycle 4 has three in the form of the Bitchkateers, especially for their Alpha Bitch tendencies:
    • Demelza Revely, who, admittedly, has a striking face and can take a solid picture. However, she quickly plateaus as the numbers dwindle and while the judges (particularly Jodhi Meares) are all over her, most fans find the support downright confusing. This is most egregious come Final 4, where Demelza bombs the photoshoot (and has the worst performance of the week), but is still called first. She went on to, inexplicably, win the cycle despite being a mediocre model and an unlikeable, mean-spirited bully. The whole thing was so bad that Vogue Australia cut ties with the show entirely.
    • Rebecca Jobson, who's strikingly beautiful, but never once managed to take a good photo (with her best photograph being one that Alex Perry manually posed her for as she simply stood there). She's so bad that a client storms off the set because of how incompetent a model she is. Despite this, she somehow makes it to final six.
    • Alyce Crawford, who starts out at the top of the pack, but quickly sinks to the bottom and spends four consecutive weeks in the bottom two/three before finally being sent home. For her best picture in weeks when Demelza was clearly beginning to plateau.
  • Australia's Next Top Model Cycle 5 has Frankie, who tends to glide by a lot of weeks because someone bombed the shoot just a little more than she did or because a guest judge was fond of her. She somehow found her way to the Final 5 after spending her final three weeks in a row in the bottom two before finally receiving the boot.