A method of eliminating contestants in a Reality Game Show which does not involve subjective voting by other contestants, judges or the viewers. Contestants are eliminated simply by their showing in an objective contest, with the last-place finisher eliminated.
In sports, this type of contest is called "last man standing". A few informal "shootout" golf events use some variation of this.
Sometimes a round is announced as a surprise "non-elimination," in which the losing contestant remains in play, but is given a new handicap. Often that handicap results in their elimination at the next opportunity — but sometimes, they overcome the handicap and return to a competitive position in the pack. And that's the kind of drama that reality show producers just love.
Contrast Voted Off the Island, where contestants are eliminated by their fellow contestants, a judging panel or the audience in a vote.
- The Amazing Race, the Trope Namer, eliminates the pair of racers who finish last on each leg of the race. As mentioned, there are also several pre-determined non-elimination legs, usually occurring in the later part of the race, in which the last team is required to run the next leg with a penalty (currently an additional task in the US and China Rush version).
- The Mole gives contestants a test of their knowledge about the Mole. The contestant with the lowest score (or lowest score and slowest time, in case of a tie) is eliminated.
- Estate of Panic has a double-elimination each round; the last person left in the room being searched, that round, is trapped there, while the player among those who escaped who found the least amount of money is sent home.
- The Biggest Loser has a variation; the two contestants who lose the least weight are voted on by the others to decide who goes home (with least weight lost as a tiebreaker).
- And the occasional red line thrown in, which is an auto-elimination instead of a vote. This is usually coupled with a yellow line like above.
- The latest season is a team competition, wherein the team that lost less weight is forced to vote one of their teammates home (with the team member who lost the most weight safe from elimination).
- Solitary plays this a different way. Elimination challenges (or "Treatments") push the contestants to physical, mental, and emotional extremes. When the contestants have had enough, they quit. The first player to quit is sent home, the rest get to stay.
- The second season of American Ninja Warrior uses a variation; the losing team nominates two people, who are pitted against each other in a rope climb contest, with the loser being the one to go home.
- On Golf Channel's The Big Break, there are no votes. Each show ends with an elimination challenge, where the golfer who finishes last is eliminated. A golfer won an exemption from an elimination challenge by winning the skills challenge.
- Fear Factor had this as part of its structure. In the initial six person set up, the men competed against each other in the first stunt and likewise with the women with one of each being eliminated. On the second day all four would be against each other sometimes with one being eliminated that day and others would have all four advancing to the final stunt.
- The later seasons with pairs had a variation. The worst pair would initially be eliminated the first day with the remaining three surviving the second day (usually with another prize up for grabs for the best team) and going onto the final stunt. This then changed to something where the team that did the best on the first stunt got to eliminate a pair of their choosing, and they almost always pick the second best team.
- In the earlier rounds, Top Shot uses a variation similar to that of American Ninja Warrior above. The losing team nominates two people, who are pitted against each other in an "elimination challenge" loosely related to the main challenge; the loser of the elimination challenge goes home. Played far straighter once the teams merge; the lowest performer in a challenge is the one to be eliminated (in one case, the bottom two).
- Played straight in season 5, All-Stars. Gone is the Nominations Range, as well as permanent squads; the game is individual from the get-go and instead of voting people into elimination challenges, a "Proving Grounds" challenge is played among the contestants with the lower scores in the immunity challenge to determine the two shooters in the elimination challenge.
- Top Chef has had a few challenges like this, but only one where losers actually had to pack their knives and go. More usually, things like relay races and "how many ingredients can you identify" give an advantage to the winner instead.
- Forged in Fire eliminates contestants this way. Every episode starts with four contestants, who are given three hours to make a blade out of metal provided. The one who turned in the worst blade (or a blade that didn't meet the regulations) is eliminated. Then there's a second round wherein the contestants finish their blades by adding handles/correcting any errors left over from the first challenge. When the second round is over, the blades are subjected to a series of tests, with the worst performer (or one who has not turned in a complete weapon) being eliminated. The two remaining contestants return to their home forges and are given five days to forge an iconic historical weapon. When the five days are up, they return and their weapons are subjected to a series of tests, with the best performer being crowned Forged in Fire Champion.
- This trope actually predates competitive reality shows, having been in use on Adam Wade's version of Musical Chairs, if not earlier.
- On the short lived late 70s revival of Jeopardy!, the contestant with the lowest amount of money at the end of the first game was eliminated and only the other two went on to the "Double Jeopardy" round.
- Win Ben Stein's Money eliminates the lowest-scoring contestant after the first round and puts their "winnings" back into Ben's pool for the next round.
- The highest scoring pair in the first two rounds of Pointless is eliminated - although this is because of how scoring works in the game, which is essentially reverse Family Fortunes.
- Raven has the second through fourth day of each weeknote end with The Way of The Warrior, an assault course that lives up to it's reputation as the hardest challenge in the show. The warrior in last place will find themself forced to take this challenge, with the prize being to avert this trope (This happened only four times within over a hundred attempts), upon which the next lowest placed warrior must take the task. Failure means that said warrior must leave the quest, ending their run on the show.
- On ESPN's sports-talk show Around the Horn, host Tony Reali awards points to the four sportswriters on the panel (or subtracts them, if he finds their replies lacking). As the show progresses, the lowest-scoring panelist at each of several cuts is "muted" for the rest of the show, eventually leaving the last panelist standing 30 seconds to pontificate on any topic (s)he wishes.
- Runoff voting methods in general have multiple rounds of voting, with each successive round having fewer candidates by eliminating those with the fewest votes the previous round. Since voter fatigue (the phenomenon where too many elections held in a short period of time tires the electorate out and leads to lower turnout) is a concern, there are a couple of ways this is modified in some real-life elections:
- The two-round system, the most common method used to elect national Presidents by popular vote, with around 66 countries using it, most prominently France, Brazil and Indonesia. One initial election is held where a candidate needs over 50% of the votes to win, and if that doesn't hapen, the top two performers in the first election face each other off in a second election two or three weeks later.
- Instant run-off systems. Here, the candidates are ranked by voters in order of their personal preference before being submitted and tallied. In the first round, every ballot's first choice is tallied. If a candidate gains over 50% of the votes, that candidate is the winner; if not (very likely if there are more than two serious contenders in the race), the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated and the next round begins, except now the ballots who had put the now-eliminated candidate as their first choice move on to their second choice listed. Lather, rinse, repeat for each successive round until one candidate has the majority of votes, going down each ballot's preference list as needed until it is exhausted (at that point it is assumed the voter is indifferent to all remaining candidates). This method requires only one round of physical voting by the electorate while still putting the concept into action by instantly eliminating the least popular choices one by one.