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Fanfic / Total Drama Underdogs

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A Total Drama fanfic written by StayOuttaMyShed. The fic was completed in 2018 after a six-year process.

The story is a For Want of a Nail fic set during the first season, beginning at the end of the first challenge, the moment when Ezekiel says his infamous sexist comment. However, instead of saying it out loud for everybody to hear, he does it while speaking with Harold, who quickly shows him how wrong his way of thinking is (though Harold doesn't dislike Zeke for this, and chalks it up to his reclusive upbringing). This has the effect of Courtney being eliminated instead, which causes the story to diverge from canon in many ways.


Like the title implies, the story focuses a lot on characters who are usually sidelined in both canon and fanfiction, such as Ezekiel, Eva, Geoff, DJ or Beth, though popular characters like Gwen or Heather also get their share of attention.

This fanfiction contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: While initially angry, Duncan quickly laughs off being thrown into the lake by Eva in the finale.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Duncan goes from a nuanced Anti-Hero who had some kind moments to an utter Jerkass who goes on to become the Big Bad of the story.
  • Animals Hate Him: Ezekiel has really bad luck with animals. And he sells himself as The Beastmaster.
  • Arch-Enemy: Eva and Duncan become each other's nemeses early on, and their mutual antagonism only increases as the story progresses.
  • Ascended Extra: There's a reason this story is called Total Drama Underdogs.
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  • Bad "Bad Acting": When Dr. Pineapple gets "voted off" in a sham elimination ceremony, Chris demands that Ezekiel (who actually doesn't care) act distraught over it, otherwise they'll do an actual elimination.
  • Back for the Dead: One of the returning contestants (Courtney) is eliminated in the same episode they return in.
  • Beta Couple: Ezekiel and Beth, and Geoff and Bridgette.
  • Big Bad: Heather at first, as per canon. Duncan later takes the role.
    • In the author's supplemental material on how the universe would continue later on, Heather would've taken back the role in Action after sharing it with Justin in the first half of Action. Alejandro, Scott, Mal, and Scarlett/Sugar would've remained as the Big Bads of World Tour, Revenge of the Island, All Stars, and Pakithew Island also.
  • Bully Hunter: Eva, despite seeming to be natural bully material herself. She gives Heather a threatening warning when she catches her stealing Gwen's diary, and not only stops Duncan from pulling a painful prank on Harold, but gives Duncan a taste of what Harold would have endured.
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  • The Bus Came Back: Two previously eliminated contestants (Courtney and Eva) return to the game when the teams are merged.
  • Character Development: The story centers on the show's underdogs, with all of them getting important development as the story progresses.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Eva's speciality.
    • During the dodgeball challenge, she wins the first two rounds almost singlehanded, and makes it look easy.
    • Twice mops the floor with Sasquatchanakwa.
    • It's acknowledged by pretty much everyone that none of the contestants stands a chance against Eva in a one-on-one physical competition, so Chris has to give Ezekiel a Mercy Lead so she doesn't defeat him in the finals too easily.
  • Demoted to Extra: Many characters do worse than their canon performance to allow the underdogs to go as far as they do, with Owen, Izzy, and Courtney in particular all being demoted to fodder.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Cody, as in canon, except that he pursues Heather instead of Gwen.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: As in canon, Chris often adds twists to the challenges, making them even harder for the contestants. Shown best in the finals to avoid a Curb-Stomp Battle, with Eva needing to finish three challenges before starting the obstacle course from canon, evening the odds for the much physically-weaker Ezekiel.
  • The Dreaded: Even Duncan, Sasquatchanakwa and the sharks are terrified of Eva's strength.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even at his worst, Duncan draws the line at doing permanent harm to others. He feels quite guilty at the possibility of Ezekiel getting lost or injured when one of his pranks has unexpected consequences.
  • Exact Words: As in canon, Chris emphasizes the letter of the rules, sometimes at the expense of their purpose. He is especially prone to this when he needs to justify eliminating or pardoning a contestant. This gets Duncan eliminated when he can't complete the final dare, and destroys the Celine Dion's standee and ends hugging a small, unrecognizable piece of cardboard instead of the whole standee.
  • Flaw Exploitation: Duncan frequently exploits Ezekiel's reluctance to do disgusting or gross things, and Eva's reluctance to do cute/buffoonish things. They give him a taste of his own medicine by exploiting his pride and phobia.
  • For Want of a Nail: Ezekiel surviving the first elimination has an immediate and profound effect on the canonical elimination order. In the second challenge, Ezekiel's actions lead to Eva avoiding her canonical early elimination, which is an even bigger "nail". Things just snowball from there.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: In the finals, Duncan sets a snare trap to delay Eva, which ends with her accidentally injuring her ankle. This allow Ezekiel to catch up with her and make it a very even race in the end.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Ezekiel, until Eva snaps him out of it.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Some of Duncan's pranks and schemes end so badly that even he feels bad over it.
  • Honor Before Reason: Duncan tries invoking Jerkass Has a Point with Ezekiel to get his help on eliminating Eva, pointing out that she'd be a much tougher opponent to beat in the finals. Ezekiel doesn't fall for it.
  • I Lied: Just like in canon, Chris pretty much states this when he's reminded that he stated that no eliminated contestant would come back.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Ezekiel's aim with a bow and arrows or a slingshot is spectacularly bad.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Heather lampshades that Noah is this. Sure, he may be the smartest person on the island, but even he had to agree that it would be nearly impossible to make it far without alliances.
  • In Spite of a Nail: The initial divergence has more effect on the course of ensuing team challenges than on their outcome. Eight of the next nine challenges are won by the team that won in canon, although they sometimes win in different ways or for different reasons. The one changed outcome in this stretch stems mainly from the scrapping of certain canonical elements in the episode which had nothing to do with the premise divergence.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: Ezekiel is in the confessional wondering if there is a person in Heather and Duncan's alliance who doesn't trust them. Cue immediately to Noah angrily declaring that he doesn't trust Duncan and Heather at all.
  • Jerkass. Duncan is mean and unpleasant from the beginning, but he becomes progressively worse as he enters in a feud with Eva.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Despite being disliked by pretty much everyone, specially Duncan, he and Heather manage to advance far in the game by giving good reasons to the other contestants to work along with them.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Ezekiel said in the last episode that "everybody loves an underdog story".
  • Megaton Punch: Let's say that it's not a good idea to get Eva angry.
  • Mercy Lead: At the finals, and, knowing that, otherwise, it would be a Curb-Stomp Battle, Chris makes Eva finish three challenges before she can actually start racing Ezekiel, to give him a decent chance at winning.
  • Morality Chain: Heavily implied to be the case with Courtney and Duncan's relationship: in the canon series, Duncan and Courtney eventually got into a relationship, and Duncan stayed an Anti-Hero for all of Island's run. Here, with Courtney being out early, Duncan has nothing holding him back, and he rapidly becomes a much bigger jerk than he ever was in canon, eventually supplanting Heather as the fic's main villain.
    • Further supported by supplemental material by the author stating that if this universe continued in later seasons, Duncan would've ended up with Courtney and would be more willing to team up with Eva against threats like the odd eliminations on Action.
  • Multiple Endings: Like the cartoon, the final challenge features two endings in which one of the two finalists wins instead of the other. The author considers Eva to be the "canon" victor, but notes that Ezekiel can easily be considered the canon victor instead.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • During the ninth challenge, Duncan makes a confessional claiming how he's sick of everybody focusing more on romance than winning the game, and that he'll never hook up with a girl while competing. In canon, it was during this challenge when Duncan and Courtney hooked up.
    • Izzy, when interviewed at Playa Des Losers, comments on how she'd like to become friends with Eva and form an alliance with her, a reference on how the both of them and Noah form Team E-Scope in the Total Drama's first special. Also, despite him getting eliminated early in the competition, she and Owen still become an official couple.
    • DJ's "The Reason You Suck" Speech is very similar in context to the one Lindsay gave Heather in canon. According to the author the parallel was completely intentional.
    • At the Camp Castaways chapter, Ezekiel takes the place of Owen as the contestant that temporarily goes mad from isolation, going almost feral in a reference to how he changed in World Tour.
    • Duncan has to hug a Celine Dion's standee as a dare from Courtney, the one who, in canon, helped him get over this phobia.
    • At Playa Des Losers, Heather tells Chris that she hates all of the remaining competitors for various reasons, and tells everyone that she hopes the money ends up in the jaws of a shark. That is exactly what happened in canon during the million-dollar treasure hunt.
  • Odd Friendship: Eva is best friends with Ezekiel and Harold, neither of whom she appears to have anything in common with.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Duncan's reaction upon finding out that Eva is one of the two returning contestants.
    • Duncan gets another moment when finding himself face-to-face with the temporarily mad Ezekiel.
    • Ezekiel and Harold when Sasquatchanakwa finds them. The creature later has the same reaction when facing Eva a second time. Eva and the other contestants have the same reaction in turn when Sasquatchanakwa returns with some friends (including a moose and a bear) as back-up.
    • The semifinalists frequently show reactions of fear, loathing, etc. when receiving their dares.
  • Out of Focus: Courtney, who goes from being one of the most prominent characters in both canon and fanfiction to being the first contestant eliminated.
  • Pet the Dog: Duncan apologizes to Eva in the finale for causing her to sprain her foot.
  • Pragmatic Villainy:
    • Due to most of her plans failing, Heather is forced to adopt this mindset, becoming nicer to Lindsay and Beth, as well thinking in long-term. For example, she disregards throwing Beth under the bus to save herself not because of friendship but because that's just a short-term solution.
    • Often invoked by Duncan to both justify his misbehavior and whenever he needs to make a truce with his enemies.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Duncan delivers one to Courtney during her second elimination, regarding how she flaunts herself as a powerful contestant and essential team member while refusing to do any challenge and expecting everybody to carry her part of the weight.
    • D.J. rants at Duncan about the latter's jerkassery throughout the season, and warns Duncan that karma will strike him sooner or later.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Chris, as in canon; in later chapters it starts becoming obvious that he's manipulating the game to keep Duncan in the competition as much as possible. He even gets called out on this by the eliminated contestants, and, while he denies it, he almost confirms it at the voting, when he doesn't even allow Courtney and Justin to vote so Gwen can be eliminated instead of Duncan.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Sasquatchanakwa, when facing Eva a second time. He can't escape.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At one point, when Chris keeps teasing Ezekiel and Heather about having a mutual crush (which isn't true), Ezekiel says that he can't imagine himself dating Heather. This is a reference to Total Drama Comeback, in which they do become a couple.
    • Twice to Undertale in the final four challenge. First when Eva suplexes Sasquatchanakwa 'just because she can,' and again when Harold and Ezekiel are 'filled with determination.'
  • Spanner in the Works: In the Playa Des Loser's chapter, at the voting, Noah catches up on how mentioning one of the still competing characters counts as a vote, even when said accidentally, so, after Gwen receives some votes, he and the ones voting after him directly vote for Duncan; but Noah's plan fails because, as in canon, Chris counts a parrot repeating a name as a valid vote.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Geoff decides to quit to save his girlfriend when he thinks she is going to be voted off...only for Chris to reveal that it was Heather who would have been eliminated. When he learned this, he was far from amused.
  • Tempting Fate: Heather is gushing about how well everything is going on and can't wait for the next elimination ceremony to vote somebody off. Cue immediately to Chris declaring that the challenge's elimination won't involve voting.
  • The Vamp: Heather successfully seduces Cody into forming an alliance with her. It doesn't work on Noah, who iss smarter and less hormonal than Cody.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • Contestants who can't stand each other often have to work together to get through a challenge, or even form alliances, with various degrees of success. This is particularly evident in the 'tri-armed' challenge, with Heather getting teamed-up with Ezekiel, and Duncan with Eva; neither pair can get along through the whole challenge, although one does manage to win.
    • Again in the final four challenge when Eva and Duncan are once again forced to team up.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Duncan becomes a Jerkass to everyone over time, even to DJ and Geoff—two of his best friends in canon, who also try to befriend him in this story.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Eva, thanks to her friendship with Harold and Ezekiel, becomes a genuinely nicer person, albeit still quite tough when necessary.
  • What If?: The story's premise boils down to, "What if Ezekiel hadn't been the first eliminated?"
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Duncan can't overcome his fear of Celine Dion standees, and comes to grief because of it.


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