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Elimination Houdini

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"It looks like we've entered the middle phase of a typical reality TV contest. The weakest contestants left early, so instead of eliminating the person who did worst that week, they are going to get rid of the one who hasn't created any drama. Looks like Alex and Cameron will make it to the final episode."

On competition-based Reality TV, especially Talent Shows, one needs to exhibit the talent or skill necessary to win in order to justify their continuing existence on the show. Some contestants just don't have that, and most are quickly jettisoned.

However, sometimes a weak contestant will cheat elimination week after week, horrible performance after horrible performance. This is an Elimination Houdini.

Personality can sometimes play a role, but it doesn't matter whether the contestant is a nice person or a Jerkass. There is one and only one trait required to be an Elimination Houdini: an utter lack of the talent necessary to win the show, especially in comparison to the other contestants, including those already eliminated.

It's not enough for a contestant to be deemed incompetent by a mere sizable portion of viewers, though. There needs to be an overwhelming consensus that the Elimination Houdini just doesn't belong on the show anymore. What's more, this sentiment should also be shared by the other contestants (for shows with Confession Cams) or the judges (where the home audience votes and the judges have little to no influence any more).

And yet, somehow, they survive for weeks and weeks. In shows where the evictions are decided by judges, there may be Executive Meddling afoot, keeping a contestant on as a human Conflict Ball to drive up ratings. On the other hand, in shows with public votes, people will often vote to keep on a contestant who's So Bad They're Good at the expense of technically superior opponents. Either way, it's enough to get some loyal viewers to not watch again... at least for a week or two. It's not uncommon for these people to develop a Hatedom that takes on a life all its own.

There is also another form of Elimination Houdini, commonly seen in shows like Survivor in which the contestants vote people out and not the audience. They may be the second person or another target for elimination, but somehow manage to avoid it, and they can do it in several ways. Either they get lucky and someone makes a bone-headed move that gets them on the chopping block instead, they instead gun for a different threat, a Non-Gameplay Elimination spares them for a round, or the Elimination Houdini manages to talk their way out of elimination and avoids death. A bad player may become a Houdini through stronger players actively protecting them - why knock them out now when they could be easy competition in the finals? Often this happens when Tall Poppy Syndrome kicks up.

It is actually fully possible for the Elimination Houdini to win. In shows about alliances, they may be somewhat of a "Deadly Floater" who floats along then slips through the cracks in alliances, or plays enough of a social game their Entitled Bastard opponent(s) get a good "Not you!" in the final round. Or, in a talent-based show, they have a fanbase who votes for them because they want to see them continue. Maybe they're So Bad, It's Good.

The inverse is a Shocking Elimination, in which a favored contestant is cut earlier than expected, many times in the place of the Elimination Houdini. This, of course, fuels the Hatedom even further.


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Sometimes, the Elimination Houdini will actually win over better contestants.
  • Case in point: Dat Phan, the first winner of Last Comic Standing. He actually did quite well with audiences, though the rest of the contestants were the ones who felt he didn't belong on the show.
    • And if you ask the other comedians from the most recent season, Iliza Schlesinger also counts.
  • Leon Jackson, winner of The X Factor 2007, though he was never in the bottom 2.
  • The British series The Murder Game, where winner Andrew went to the Killer Game six (out of 8) times and survived (due to winning the 50-50 coin flip) before getting the correct killer in the finale, this is in contrast to the 2 other finalists who never been to the Killer Game until the finale.
  • Defied by John Sergeant on Strictly Come Dancing. While not the first Elimination Houdini in the show's history, he was the first to veer completely and deliberately into So Bad, It's Good territory, a formula that proved immensely successful in convincing the viewing public to keep him in. He made it as far as the final seven (out of 16) before quitting out of fear that he might actually win.
  • Gabby West in season 2 of Scream Queens (2008). She actually gave very good performances... that is, when she wasn't zoning out on set, making huge technical mistakes and not listening to Tim Sullivan's instructions. As a result, she frequently found herself up for elimination and only staying on because one of her competitors screwed up even worse than she did that week. By the judges' own admission, the only reason she wasn't eliminated right out of the gate was because she won the immunity challenge in the first episode, which saved her after an absolute disaster of a performance later on. Since the prize for winning was a role in Saw 3D, this may have been why her part wound up consisting of her doing nothing but screaming before getting splattered underneath a muscle car in a scene where she wasn't even the star, instead playing second fiddle to Chester Bennington. (For comparison, season 1 winner Tanedra Howard, one of that season's most consistently good contestants, actually got a fairly sizable role in Saw VI, returning for the sequel.)

    Other reality TV examples 
  • This runs ridiculously strongly in Americas Best Dance Crew. The first season had Fysh 'n Chicks (who finished in 5th) and runner-up Status Quo, and arguably Season 2 winners Super Cr3w and 4's We Are Heroes as well, struggling with low votes every week until they actually clinched the competition. Note that the fan favorites are the three third place crews in those seasons, Kaba Modern, Fanny Pak, and Massive Monkees. Very few fans take the show seriously as a competition anymore and try to just watch it for the sake of entertainment.
    • Season 3's Fly Khicks took it up a notch by being saved three times in a row by the judges, making it up to 3rd place because they couldn't catch up with the level of the final 2 crews.
    • And in season 5, it was Saltare and Blueprint Cru. Saltare was seemingly kept by the voters solely for their novelty (they used jump ropes, a very unique gimmick); Blueprint was given immunity by the judges at one point but even so kept landing in the bottom 2 or 3, where they were always excused by the judges. Note that Blueprint are from Canada, and thus none of their friends or family could vote for them, yet somehow they stayed on the show, and the only time they were truly saved by votes was in the top 3 week.
      • Blueprint Cru was more understandable, as they were easily one of the best teams of the season and the judges decided to save them over the other underwhelming teams.
      • Notably, the week after Saltare turned in one of the most disastrous, error-laden performances ever on the show, nobody was eliminated due to some mix-up in tallying the votes.
    • In Season 6, Iconic Boyz and Street Kingdom were being regarded as this by fans. Iconic Boyz were considered good dancers for their age but not up to par with other groups and never placed in the bottom by their voters, and Street Kingdom are excellent at their style but often can't handle choreography and also ignored their challenge during the Black Eyed Peas week. Nevertheless, they remained over other crews considered more talented.
    • The aforementioned Fanny Pak suffered the same fate as Fly Khicks when they returned in Season 7, where despite giving out incredible performances, they were sent to the bottom nearly every week, and at one point the judges saved both them and another bottom 2 crew in one week because they gave the best performances of the night, before being in the bottom yet again the week after and eventually eliminated.
  • The judges on America's Got Talent have sent a few EH-wannabes to the semifinals over some more deserving talent (e.g. Ronny B and Indiggo over Xclusive and Lil Countrie & Page 1ne in Season 3). Still, thanks to mass exodus eliminations, the audience has mostly avoided giving most of them another chance. David & Dania being the reason for the word "most," as they made it to the final round despite using the exact same routine every time.
    • It may be a general talent show, but god help you if you aren't a singer. A lot of rather mediocre singers go forward, while other types of talent are eliminated after the second round because "That's the same thing we saw last time." The aforementioned David was called back for a third performance because he called the judges on this, saying (paraphrased) "A singer only has to come onstage with a new song to sing. You expect us to change a magic act that took decades to perfect?"
    • On the other hand, one could say that the ultimate Elimination Houdini was Donald Braswell of Season 3. Who, thanks to an injury to a high-risk act that made the top 40, won the right to replace them. And made the top 5. Of course, many would argue he was actually snubbed from the top 40 to begin with.
      • Hello, Season 5 judges! You're reviewing all the acts again and are trying to pick the good from the bad! Fantastic! What's that? Ronith deserves a spot?! OK, maybe he is kinda So Bad, It's Good, I guess I can MARY ELLEN?!!?!.
      • The current season's Eldinis are shaping up to be the TV-theme-song-warbling Ulysses and ESPECIALLY the tone-deaf little person Big Barry.
    • Season 9 has Juan Carlos, a So Bad, It's Good roller skating dancer that has been put through both the first auditions and Vegas Week over superior acts like The Mighty Atom Jr. sheerly on the virtue that his terrible act is hilariously bad. Howard certainly doesn't think he's funny, but the other three judges disagree.

  • Interestingly, Canada's Worst Driver has had a few of these. Of course, on CWD, your goal is to leave as soon as possible, but some drivers were shortlisted several times yet lasted long. Examples include Billie Jean from Season 3, who was shortlisted every episode, yet was the fourth to leave, Ashley from Season 4, who was shortlisted 5 times and was named The Worst, and Diane, the final graduate from Season 8 who was shortlisted 3 times.
    • The biggest example was Michael, who between his two seasons on the show note  was shortlisted seven times for graduation, a CWD record. At least three times, he was prevented from graduating by a Non-Gameplay Elimination.
  • The second season of Claim to Fame has Chris. In a show where contestants have to guess each other's celebrity relatives to eliminate them, no less than three contestants have incorrectly guessed Chris's relative and been eliminated as a result. It's not Elvis Presley, Elton John, or Billy Idol. In the finale he was finally guessed correctly as the son of Donnie Osmond.
  • Dancing with the Stars:
    • Would Marie Osmond have made it as far as she did if she wasn't so well known?
    • Master P is a better example of an Elimination Houdini than Marie. The studio audience booed him, the judges said he should go; it was only the phone votes that kept him in the competition.
    • Cloris Leachman got endorsed by, an Idol-centric website that usually disregarded DWTS. That's pretty telling.
    • Then there's Michael Irvin, who can't dance, accordingly brought up the rear in the scores most weeks, survived half the show on viewer votes, only being in the bottom two once, finally hit the bottom three and a dance-off where the judges alone decided who stayed and who went — and still survived! It took another dance-off the very next week to finally eliminate him.
    • Bristol Palin from Season 11. Three times she finished at the bottom of the judges' standings, and was always near the bottom of the overall standings. And yet, she managed to make it all the way to the finale on the strength of the viewers voting, even beating Brandy in an elimination that left the audience stunned, before finally running out of luck in the finale and finishing third. It is believed by her hatedom that the only reason she stayed in the contest for so long was for political reasons — she and her mother, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, were darlings of the conservative Tea Party movement, leading to a number of internet campaigns being conducted on her behalf.
    • Bill Engvall in Season 17. Despite being on the bottom of the judges' scores for a while, he outlasted Elizabeth Berkley and Leah Remini.
    • David Ross in Season 24 was a middle-of-the-pack guy, but good fan support got him to the semi-finals. Then he outlasted Simone Biles, who had scored two perfect dances that night. And he'd go on to finish 2nd. To say his fan support was amazing is an understatement.
    • Finland's national version of this show had a real case of Houdini in Season 3, where Finnish MP Antti Kaikkonen was nicknamed "Kanki-Kaikkonen" (a good translation might be "Stiffie-Kaikkonen") early on in the season, never really got past being an extremely stiff and awkward dancer, had a score average of 14.9 (with a high score of 22 in episode six and a low of eight in the first episode), scored lowest six out of eight times... and finished in fourth place.
    • Similar to the Finnish version, the Australian version's very first season had Pauline Hanson, a rather... controversial politician to say the least note . She was arguably the worst dancer on the series but kept being saved by audience votes from her political supporters.
    • A notable example was in the first season of Sweden's version. The line up included a comedian who wasn't that good to begin with, and who got sick of the show and wanted to be sent home after a while. The viewers wouldn't have it however, and he stayed on the show, doing increasingly bad performances to the point where he made one sitting down.
    • The reboot of Australia’s Dancing with the Stars featured Sir Curtly Ambrose, a mid-50s towering cricket legend in the lineup. Paired up with a dance partner who is two heads shorter than him, Curtly struggled to get a combined score over 15 (disregarding two team dances) – and once scored a total of only 9 in a Jive dance – yet he managed to survive to the final six due to the huge amount of viewer votes he has received. It took a dance-off for him to finally be eliminated.
  • Escape the Night: Aside from Joey, who has been confirmed to just be incredibly lucky each season to only have to participate in just one challenge, each season has a few contestants that somehow get a lot further then they should.
    • Season One has Matt Haag and Sierra Furtado, they somehow make it to episode 6 without having to go into a single challenge despite Matt having at least one person voting for him in every round and Sierra never contributing to the team. Sierra ends up dying in episode 6 and Matt dies in the next episode when EVERYONE votes him into the challenge.
    • Season Two features Tyler Oakley, he hasn't helped out as much as the other contestants, with the first time he contributes something to the teams efforts being episode 7. Even Tyler himself lampshades this. Somehow, Tyler survives the season and only ever gets ONE vote against him.
    • Season Three has probably the worst one, Teala Dunn. She's notable for having contributed absolutely nothing to the plot or the group whatsoever and being the first contestant ever to have run out of voting cards(only half of the team was able to vote for Teala, when everyone wanted to vote for her). Hilariously enough, she doesn't even get picked for that round, and survives until episode 4, where she finally dies. It's lampshaded by everyone that Teala surviving for this long without doing anything to help has been nothing short of a miracle.
  • Megan from Syfy's special effects makeup competition Face/Off was an abysmal, egotistical competitor, consistently on the chopping block for her poor performance while showing active hostility toward anyone who badmouthed her, making excuses for her lack of skill, and often deferring to her partner for the bulk of the work on team challenges. Yet somehow, she managed to escape elimination...until the second to last episode, where the judges finally wised up and kicked her out on the spot. Even more shocking, while the judges seemed to accept her excuses up until that point, her last performance in the last challenge so disgusted them, they forewent conferring with the challenge winner first (a formality they usually indulged in, for the rest of the series).
    • Season 2 had Jerry. He wasn't quite as egotistical as some of the people on there, but what he lacked in ego, he made up for in lack of skill, despite his relatively advanced age and work experience. Despite finishing in the bottom 3 all but one week (where, granted, he finished in the top 3), he made it to week 7, getting eliminated in a double elimination.
  • By retrospect, Hottie from Flavor of Love was this, given that it was obvious that she was only on the show for fame and fortune. Even Flav himself admitted that keeping her as long as he did over someone else was stupid.
  •'s Great Designer Search 2 had this in Jonathan Loucks. He was consistently been told that his set mechanics are too complex. In round 3, many of the players following the competition had him pegged to leave... but Jonathan Woodward got the heave-ho instead, because, in Mark Rosewater's words, "the other designers all turned in better submissions", though players at large begged to differ. He would be eliminated the next round, however, after completely jettisoning a few ideas he had that the judges actually liked in favor of an obviously unworkable theme (colorless mana matters).note 
  • Nikki Ziering from Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling. Despite her lack of talent/motivation and utter stupidity (when asked by Eric Bischoff if she'd taken away any experience from the show partway through, her answer was 'I got nothing'), she stayed on for at least half the season. Possibly because she wore nothing but a tight t-shirt and underwear when she wrestled. Of course, Dennis Rodman letting her have it for claiming that 'this wasn't what she signed up for' is quite possibly one of the show's few Crowning Moments of Awesome.
  • Kalle from the Finnish Idols 2008 season. He got to the top four mostly thanks to heavy metal fans voting for him, despite having almost zero stage charisma and being almost tone deaf. The judges complained about Kalle's performances increasingly every week until he was eliminated.
  • Ink Master has had a couple:
    • Season 2 had both Kay Kutta and Mark Matthews lasting until halfway the season, despite spending most of their run in the bottom. Kay Kutta is the most stand-out example, as he was on the short list for elimination in the first episode, but stayed because another contestant (Cee Jay Jones) made a (gratuitous) spelling error in the word corinthians (spelling it as corinttians). While he did win several flash challenges, it was quite obvious Kay Kutta's technical skill couldn't keep up with the rest of the pack, making him this trope. Similarly, Mark Matthews spent half of the episodes he was in among the bottom artists. He even became known as the bottom guy on the totem pole so much, that other artists dreaded collaborating with him during the episode where he got eliminated, as they believed his performance would bring the team down.
    • Season 4 had Roland Pacheco, who spent his entire run (five(!) episodes) in the bottom, without any chance of moving away from the spot. He even beat out several artist who were better then him on paper. Then again, season 4 was known for its dichotomy between the top and bottom artist, with the top four artists winning every elimination challenge. Hence, the bottom of that season was often filled with artist who had little to no chance of making it to the final.
    • Season 5's Mark Longnecker is among the most notable - despite having never been in the top looks of any challenge, and being in the bottom an unprecedented 7 times, he still managed to skirt his way to the final four. When the eliminated players were asked at the finale who thought they should have outlasted Mark, almost the entire cast raised their hands.
    • Season 6 had Kito Talbert, who not only spent more than half of his run in the bottom, but was also seen as a Small Name, Big Ego artist by his competitors. He's best remembered for knocking Miami Burgess (Craig Foster's partner) out of the competition (and undeservedly so according to quite a few artists).
    • Due to its format (where a new artist was introduce every week), Season 7 is a difficult season to find an elimination houdini for, as good artists (such as Sarah Miller and Jime Litwalk) spent most (if not all) of their (short) run in the bottom. From the original contestants, however, there was Alex Rockoff, who, due to a combination of luck and sheer determination to beat St. Marq, survived three trips to the bottom before getting eliminated on his fourth (in episode 6).
    • Season 8 had Kevin LaRoy, who out of eight challenges he participated in, was nominated for elimination seven times, with the judges openly admitting in the latter half of the season that they had absolutely no expectation that Kevin would improve. Despite all of this, he managed to finish in 6th out of 30 artists competing that season.
    • Another (easily overlooked) example from season 8 was Gia Rose, as her resumé seems brighter than it actually is, due to each team only participating in an elimination challenge every other week. Out of the four elimination challenges Gia participated in, she was in the bottom three times (with the only time she was spared the bottom being a team challenge, where she was paired with the season's runner up, Gian Carle). When she eventually got eliminated shortly before the top 10, the judges even stated that her poor performance in the previous challenges as one of the reasons for her elimination. This was further cemented in Ink Master Angels, where Gia was the angel with the most losses to her name.
    • Season 9, which followed the same format as season 7 (but with teams of two), had the odd situation of several elimination houdini's which succeeded eachother (as a new one was brought in whenever the old one was eliminated).
      • The first in a long list was Tri-Cities Tattoo, which spent it's entire run (four episodes) in the bottom due to infighting. Furthermore, they managed to edge out Black Anchor Collective, which was considered a front runner up until that point.
      • Tri-Cities was succeeded (and edged out) by Think Before You Ink, who subsequently spent their entire run in the bottom, getting placed there by the jury of peers thrice.
      • As Think Before You Ink was eliminated, Black Spade Tattoo entered the competition and also spent their entire run in the bottom (mainly due to poor technical execution).
      • By the time Black Spade Tattoo was eliminated, Allegory Arts (upper middle of the pack until then) was starting to drop off fast, managing to evade the bottom three once in their last four episode (which merely happened because that elimination challenge was a group challenge, which spared half the pack of elimination).
    • Season 11 had Amanda Boone, who made it to the top 5 after six consecutive episodes in the bottom (seven, if you count the episode where everyone went to the bottom). During her time on the bottom, she was on the verge of elimination several times (with one out of three judges voting for her). She furthermore edged out Chris Shockley (with the help of her team), the only artist on team Christian to win an elimination challenge.
    • Season 12 had Ash Mann, who spent six out of nine episodes in the bottom before getting eliminated, even slipping by Fon, who was one of the front runners early on in the competition.
    • Season 13 had Jason Elliot (who came in fourth in his original season) performing far more erratically than before, which lead to him spending more time in the bottom than in the safe zone. He was even nearly eliminated during the first episode, but managed to scrape by in favor of one of his team members. He was furthermore saved from elimination by Dave in episode seven, only to start performing even worse in the following episodes (where he went from mixed results to plain poor ones). He nevertheless made it to the top 10 (out of 20)
  • Kawaii Vinnys Minecraft Survivor:
    • Contestants EpicFailTeen and UGADawgs222 were never safe, surviving two and four eliminations respectively before being eliminated.
    • Season 5's HufflePufficus was in seven TCs before being eliminated via tie-breaker.
    • Season 6's Amatsu and ToastCrumbley were in nine TCs with the latter not doing well in challenges and still winning.
  • Jolette from La Academia, the Mexican version of American Idol. Despite her angry stage antics, she somehow managed to become The Woobie to the audience, and next thing you know, she manages to keep going on and on for one month and a half, only leaving the show after getting the boot from the producers. The fact that losers in La Academia are picked by audience vote, and a fan theory that Jolette's family was using mass dialers to skew the results, really didn't helped to keep her entertainment industry cred.
  • In Machinima Top FPS, the contest works similar to Survivor, where players are gradually removed. In three of the four eliminations, the ones that complete the task get the boot.
  • MasterChef season 10 had Subha, who made it to the semi-finals despite abysmal performances in almost every team challenge. Especially egregious when he was on the winning team for a challenge, and the team captain chose Subha to also be up for elimination... twice.
  • Murder In Small Town X had a particularly egregious one in the form of Kristin. The premise of the show had it that two players would be sent to two separate locations in "The Killer's Game", where one would be "murdered" and the other would receive a clue to the mystery. Kristin, one of the more abrasive players in the game, was sent five times on this 1/2 shot at elimination before finally being "killed off." Perhaps it was merely a lucky streak, but unconfirmed reports from crew members who worked on the show suggest that because Kristin was Ms. Fanservice and the drama-causing I'm Not Here to Make Friends person, they had been ordered to "cook the pot" as it were to make sure she would stay around for a while.
    • Its British counterpart The Murder Game had an even more of Houdini in Andrew who played the "Killer's Game" seven times without getting eliminated, until the final episode where Andrew ends up being the only one to correctly name the murderer and ends up winning the game.
  • Project Runway contestants Wendy Pepper, Santino Rice, Vincent Libretti, Ricky Lizalde and Blayne Walsh have turned out crappy design after crappy design, landing in the bottom three more than any other contestant. And yet, they all stuck around (the first two even made it to the top three, getting to show at Fashion Week).
    • And in season six, we have Logan and Christopher.
    • Season eight has Casanova.
    • Season nine's Joshua McKinley (for the '70s challenge as well as knocking Viktor Luna out of second place in the season finale) and Anya Ayoung-Chee (who got to go to the final four despite submitting outfits that she herself admitted were horrible).
    • All Stars 6's Edmond Newton. He consistently sent out atrocious designs week after week, having only 2 weeks with good designs, and managed to end up 5th.
    • Project Runway Finland had Antti Asplund, who is, oddly enough, a fairly popular indie designer in Finland. His ability to explain the shit out of his outfits let him slide incredible stuff under the radar, from repetitive designs to designs that had little to nothing to do with the challenge all the way to technical failures... until he decided to dress his model up as a giant violin, which the judges just couldn't forgive.
  • Lacey from Rock of Love Girls: Charm School pretty much made it clear from the first episode that she had no intention of changing her ways. Nearly all of her confessionals feature her talking about her latest brain dead scheme to screw over the other contestants or how happy she was because someone she hated went home. She even went so far as to antagonize a drunk Heather into throwing a plate at her, a sober Dallas into throwing a whole apple at her head, and having Brandi C. yell at and spit on Destiney's face. Brandi C. sincerely apologized to Destiney for it, but she was still expelled even though the judges knew and complained about Lacey being a shit-stirrer. Obviously, Lacey falls under the "Kept on for the Ratings" category. Unfortunately, she's not even an interesting villain...
    • Ashley seems to be on the fast track to this on this season of Charm School. On the bottom for 5/8 eliminations, she not only called fellow contestant Bubbles "retarded" TWICE, but she also has shown very little progress compared to those that are eliminated. The only progress she has shown was owning up to her absolute awfulness, but then again, had none of the other girls owned up to their bad behavior...would they even been on the show in the first place? She made it to the final 3, but only because of Rikki's policy of keeping girls who "needed Charm School more" over girls who made actual progress.
  • While we're talking about girls from Rock of Love, does anyone remember Megan and Brandi C.'s stints on the first season of I Love Money? Brandi C. barely made it onto a team at all, was up for elimination 4 damn times, and the only reason she was eliminated was because she quit. Megan was in a similar scenario, except she made it so close to the end because of being the smartest contestant. She made her way to the end with her looks, and also only got eliminated because she quit. She was probably gone next anyway, but who knows.
    • Justified in Brandi's case. A single player was to decide who on the opposing team up for elimination would go home, so it would be logical to keep the weaker players on the opposing side to better their chances of winning. Megan on the other hand should've been eliminated, which makes Frank The Entertainer's decision to eliminate Heat (who he was in a love triangle with over Destiney) instead of Megan (who he put up for elimination]] for that very reason).
  • Nekisa from Shear Genius season 2 was on at least 2 episodes longer than she should have been, being in the bottom for every challenge, including short cuts, for 4 episodes in a row.
    • Invoked by Keri and Yvette in Sims Big Brother 6. Neither Keri nor Yvette seemed to be able to win any challenges, nor be part of any major alliance. Their entire plan was to actually lay low out of the drama while the two main alliances duked it out with each other, then, when one of them wins (or their numbers were reduced enough), start trying to win Head of Household challenges. And quite honestly, it worked, as Keri and Yvette managed to make it to the final three and knocked out an entire alliance in one week thanks to a conveniently placed Double Elimination Week. (Neither of them won, however.)
    • A more minor example, in Sims Big Brother 2, Dora came in last on the Solitary-style challenges, therefore being made the "Unlucky Houseguest", and part of the conditions of being the Unlucky Houseguest was that she had to be nominated every week for a while. Naturally she survived elimination before finally asking to be voted out because it stopped being fun for her. Dora was mostly kept around because she wasn't a threat, being unable to compete for Head of Household competitions. (Which may not be as bad as you think)
  • A good example for So You Think You Can Dance is Season 4's Comfort Fedoke. She had to dance for her life a lot. She was even eliminated once, only to be brought back due to Jessica's injury. She survived another week over early favorite Kherington before getting eliminated for good.
    • Another great example is Lauren Gottleib. She was a competent dancer but underperformed a lot. She developed a Hatedom after claiming she uses the stage name "Misha Chan" because it sounded Asian (the first name). She was saved by the judges TWICE even after they acknowledged she was underperforming.
      • An unfortunate side effect of this was that everytime she wasn't eliminated it created a Shocking Elimination for: Anya Garnis, Jaimie Goodwin, and Sara VonGillern.
    • The same can be said about Lauren's partner, Neil Haskell. He also developed a Hatedom but at least he didn't say anything silly. And the guys who were eliminated when he wasn't sent home weren't considered shocking eliminations except arguably Pasha.
    • Season Three was full of these. Cedric Gardner was one of the most highly regarded soloist at the time, but was wrong for the show because he couldn't do choreography. He was saved twice by the judges.
      • In fact he barely got on the show to begin with because some of the judges were trying to do their jobs but got overruled.
    • Many people seem to think that Season 5's Melissa Sandvig was also a Houdini. On Top 8 week, she was paired up with her original partner Ade and got an emotional contemporary piece which was lauded by the judges. The next night, she was safe from elimination and the then front-runner Janette left the show. Many fans are still bitter.
    • Season ten had Jenna and Makenzie. Week after week, they ended up at the bottom. Week after week, they were saved over more competent dancers. It reached its max when the judges automatically saved Jenna and made Malece and Amy (the eventual winner) dance for their lives, despite the fact that neither of them were at the bottom before and Jenna was at the bottom several times. Finally, at the top ten, the two Houdinis were up for elimination. The judges eliminated Makenzie, and Jenna was booted the next week.
  • Strictly Come Dancing
    • There have been these most series. In season three it was Fiona Philips, in season four Claire King, and obviously in season six John Sergeant. Also Christopher Parker in series one (whose rubbishness was, arguably, a key factor in making the show such a huge hit) and Julian Clary in series two.
      • Series two didn't really have any Elimination Houdinis. It's unique amongst all Strictly series in that the worst dancer DID go every week. Julian Clary was only the worst dancer in the semi-final, so although he went further than he should it was only by one round and wasn't a contender for the glitterball.
    • Lisa Snowdon in series six might also qualify, having been rescued from the dance-off by the judges three times - including, controversially, over early favourite Austin Healey in the quarter-final - only to be the first one eliminated in the final, despite getting the highest score from the judges. You could also argue that EVERYONE was an Elimination Houdini in the semi-final, because an unforeseen turn of events meaning that it was impossible for the public vote to rescue one couple from the dance-off meant that the show's producers decided it wouldn't be fair to eliminate anyone that week.
    • It's been suggested that the creators have started intentionally including a "John Sergeant figure", most obviously the former MP Anne Widdecombe in series 8, who made it to week 10 by bowing to the inevitable and playing it for comedy.
    • Judy Murray in the 2014 series. She would receive low marks from the judges consistently every week but the public vote kept her in the contest. It got to the point where the judges didn't seem to even bother giving her constructive criticism for her dances. When she was finally voted off, they all but called it a Mercy Kill.
    • Gemma Atkinson in the 2017 series. She did well for the first couple of episodes, but after that consistently finished in the mid-to-low part of the judges' rankings, yet still made it all the way to the final over several much more talented and experienced dancers. In this case it likely wasn't so much her being an outright bad dancer, but a combination of her being Ms. Fanservice and her purported feud with fellow contestant Alexandra Burke, which some have theorised has caused viewers to keep her in to see if it finally boils over on-screen.
  • Some contestants from The Apprentice have managed to avoid being fired numerous times despite their collective screw-ups. Omarosa is the quintessential example, but others include Andy from season 2, Chris from season 3, and Lenny from season 5.
    • The UK incarnation of the show had Michael Sophocles who, despite constantly proving to be totally useless in the tasks, survived until the final regular task due to an admittedly quite convincing win in his first attempt as team leader, and the fact that he actually reminded Sir Alan Sugar of a young version of himself.
      • Syed from Series 2. He had already been in the boardroom in the first week before blowing the budget on a catering task by ordering 100 chickens, but managed to stay in to the final regular task (his fifth appearance in the boardroom).
      • Stuart from Series 6.
      • Noorul from Series 5 managed to get to Week 6 without appearing in the boardroom at all despite the fact he did virtually nothing on the tasks. Part of the reason he was fired on that episode was that Sir Alan was aware other candidates had complained about this.
      • Myles from Series 9. He just about managed to avoid getting fired for his mistakes in the Dubai task by sheer luck of the opposition doing even worse. But the real best example of this was when he told Alex to go with the 'Deadly Dinners' idea in the food task, and ended up completely destroying any chance of the team winning in the process. Yet Alex was the one who got fired instead, despite the fact that his idea could have actually won the task. Thankfully, he then got fired after seriously messing up the next episode.
    • Celebrity Apprentice can be really bad about this since Trump will often keep a contestant who is a bad manager, screws up all the time and is despised by others on his/her team. The person is simply too big a source of entertainment for the audience to fire yet.
      • Gary Busey was a prime example. He screwed this up, acted like he was a complete loon and yet Trump went out of his way to keep him despite EVERYONE agreeing that Busey should go.
  • Since the entire premise of The Bachelor is watching dating drama unfold, it should come as no surprise that each season has had at least one contestant viewers almost unanimously agreed is a bad egg. Courtney, from the latest season, is an arguable example, since many viewers have come to despise her catty attitude and utter lack of tangible chemistry with Ben.
  • The Biggest Loser:
    • Ron from season 7 was below the yellow line (i.e. one of the two contestants who might be eliminated) on about half of the episodes, yet made it into the final four (losing, eventually, to his son).
    • From Season 9, Sam. While he needed to be there for a while, he eventually reached the point where it was obvious he was able to do it at home. But he wasn't sent home for 3 or 4 weeks. Why? Because his cousin Koli was so dependent on him, the other contestants tended to vote for the other person. The only reason he was finally eliminated (making it to the final 6) is because he got the same number of votes as Michael (who really needed to be there), but lost a lower percentage of weight loss. And how much weight did he lose? To date, he is the only contestant on the show to have reached their weight loss goal before going home. Bob and Jillian even both commented at several points (Jillian at one point shouting this to Koli) that Sam didn't need to be there anymore, as he was in better shape than anyone they'd seen still on campus.
    • Almost every season has one of these, as a "non-threat" who is constantly kept around to give other contestants a better chance of winning. In season 10 it was Elizabeth, who was below the yellow line almost EVERY week, and yet made it to the final four.
    • In Season 12, Bonnie has been on the losing team 4 times in 7 weeks, but has managed to escape elimination despite losing a total of 33 pounds in 7 weeks. Granted, one of those weeks she was immune due to a good week by her and bad weeks from her teammates, but the other three...
    • Season 13 has Conda. She is intensely disliked by the show's fanbase, is inconsistent with her weight loss, and causes a lot of drama in the house, including another girl of cheating when she beat Conda in a competition inside the gym in week 3. She has been on the losing team 6 times in 8 weeks...and has had a grand total of one vote to eliminate her, due to successfully manipulating her teammates into voting off the people she wants off for personal (and usually petty) reasons. She got into the finals and placed third.
  • The Genius: Lim Yohwan in season 2. He managed to lose every single one of the main matches and still got to the finals while having zero garnets for the most of the season.
  • In The Glass House, a Follow the Leader show inspired by Big Brother based on more Audience Participation, Erica fits this trope. out of all the people in the final three, she actually faced elimination three times. While Andrea did receive more nomination votes overall, she never received enough at once to be sent into Limbo.
  • Many people feel this way about Alex from The Glee Project, who was in the bottom three more than any other character (four weeks in a row), and complain that his Camp Gay diva personality and vocal range appeal to Ryan the most.
  • This phenomenon has produced not one, but two winners of the civilian seasons of The Mole. In season 2, Dorothy was set to be eliminated but another contestant took a bribe that week to leave the game sparing Dorothy, who would go on to win. In Season 5 the eventual winner scored last on the quiz three times, staving off elimination by being slightly faster than his opponents. Despite winning, he was confirmed as the only person in the final four who wasn't sure who the mole was going into the elimination.
    • Jochem from season 17 of the Dutch series (Wie is de Mol?) was even luckier than the above U.S. examples. He constantly bungled challenges, got his allies eliminated by always suspecting the wrong contestants (though to be fair, the only contestant who ever figured out the Mole's identity in his season was the eventual winner), and would have been eliminated in the second episode if Yvonne hadn't completed the test slower than him or in the seventh episode if he hadn't used his joker then, and despite all this somehow made the final three.
    Jochem: I dragged two alliances into the wrong hands, I think I lost 6,000 euros from the pot, I've lost my molebook, I lost my joker, and I put four questions in total on [name of the season's Mole]. Four questions out of all of them! It's by the hands and feet of God that I'm here.
  • Aria on Season 6 of The Next Food Network Star. Her cooking was pretty consistently mediocre, and her point of view was just boring. Yet she managed to make it to the final 4. Brad is also pretty notable, since even though he could cook, he could not come up with a culinary point of view at all, and only managed to settle on one shortly before he was eliminated.
    • Dzintra was on her way to becoming one in the first few weeks of Season 6. The first episode she didn't even cook because she "got something in her eye" and had to go to the hospital! Then she consistently underperformed and showed she was just plain crazy and still didn't get eliminated until the fourth week. Also, Aarti is a special case because few people thought she should win, but the judges seemed smitten. In any case, it runs into The Runner-Up Takes It All territory, as second-place finisher Tom also got a show on the network, one that seems to be getting much more publicity.
  • Katie Doyle from the eighth The Real World/Road Rules Challenge went up for elimination via "The Inferno" more often than any other female competitor, owing to her mediocre performance during challenges and tensions with her teammates. After a few failed attempts to off her, her team even went so far as to throw a mission and give up the cash prize just to force Katie into the Inferno against one of the opposing team's strongest players. The ploy did not work — Katie persevered in each case, ultimately making it to the final round and sending home a couple of her more popular opponents in the process.
    • To be fair this happens a lot in this series of challenges thanks to both twists and other contestants not exactly being the brightest bunch. Back in 'The Gauntlet' Road Rules team member Sarah was placed into eliminations on five separate occasions and beat each one to stick around to the end. You then had Beth who outlived her welcome on Gauntlet 2 but hung around for a long period of time to her team-mates annoyance. Kina, Derrick and Alton were in eliminations multiple times too but were simply there due to a twist. Wes and Casey in 'Fresh Meat' being put into elimination too for five rounds. There's Svetlana in 'The Duel' who was thrown in multiple times for being out of the main crowd and hung around long enough to almost win the whole thing. Ev in the island was almost booted on several occasions but was also kept around thanks to twists.
    • Wes and Casey's run in 'Fresh Meat' deserves extra perspective as to the immense stupidity of the rest of the cast (almost surprisingly so). They were only thrown in initially as due to long-standing Challenge tradition, the "newbies" to the Challenge always get thrown in first and unfortunately, the Real World Austin cast had FOUR contestants that season which meant they were pretty much destined to team kill each other the first three weeks short of winning a challenge outright (which tends to be hard for rookies). After that they kept throwing them in due to Wes'...somewhat abrasive behavior (though they seemed to ignore the fact that OF COURSE Wes would be pissy, in his own words he was forced to eliminate his "best friend, his best friend's then-fiancee and his then-girlfriend" all within 3 consecutive eliminations. But the issue for the cast was, this season's Elimination Segment, 'The Exile' is unseen to the entire cast except the participants and of course The Host. Which meant by the time that the other competitors would start sending in more seasoned veterans to take out Wes and Casey, the two were already vastly experienced at The Exile, while the vets came in with absolutely no information and are seeing it for the first time especially since Wes and Casey went out of their way to purposefully misinform the others of what the Exile was about. Even with Casey being The Load 95% of the time, they tended to steamroll every Exile and only finished in Third for the season due to Casey's inability finally catching up to them and running into teams that actually HAD Exile experience.
  • In The Weakest Link, someone who is the weakest link statistically speaking often survives making it to the penultimate or even final round because the voting doesn't always go with the statistics. However, Statistically Speaking, it's possible for the weakest link to only be so because they were asked fewer questions than everyone else. This is some people's strategy. Keep the stupidest person around until the end: they may cost you some money, but when it's down to the final two, you're a lot more likely to win.
    • The "keep the bad players in" strategy was demonstrated in the Doctor Who episode "Bad Wolf," which found Rose competing in a lethal, futuristic version of The Weakest Link. One of her competitors deliberately voted to keep her in until the final round, since she didn't know anything about local popular culture and would therefore be easy to beat.
  • The X Factor:
    • Double act Jedward on the sixth series possessed no talent except the ability to slick their hair up, yet they kept being saved, most controversially by Simon Cowell who refused to eliminate them leading to a tremendous backlash against the show and his favouritism. Ironically enough, when they were finally eliminated, another act, Olly Murs had actually finished bottom of the public vote, but the judges finally came to their senses and sent John & Edward home instead. That said, they have had a fair amount of success after the show.
    • The 2010 series gave us Wagner who had even less singing ability, had a tendency to try and ogle or grope the female dancers, and was frequently booed by the audience after each performance. He amassed a shocking amount of support through the competition largely down to a combination of So Bad, It's Good, those who enjoyed the sheer entertainment value, and people who basically wanted to screw over the judges. Once he got in the bottom two, though, he was gone.
      • That year also had Katie Waissel who could sing (at least when nerves didn't get the better of her) but who was unpopular for other reasons and somehow survived a record four eliminations before finally going out just before the semi-finals.note 
    • The 2012 series gave us Rylan - a performer with no talent making his second out of three appearances on a competitive reality show in as many years. Due to a rabid fanbase and the supposed entertainment value, he made it all the way to the top six. Only after the two favorites to win were in the bottom two did the judges come to their senses.
    • The US version gave us Marcus Canty, who managed to survive to the final four over stronger competition, despite being in the bottom two three times in a row. The third time, he benefited from Nicole Scherzinger taking a cue from Paula (who had pulled a similar stunt earlier in the season when it was two of her groups on the chopping block) and voting to keep him because she "didn't want to hurt his feelings". This sent it to deadlock and the public vote, which eliminated Rachel Crow instead. He finished in 4th place overall.
  • In There Goes The Neighborhood, The Schindlers fit this trope to a T. They were almost always on the block, performed poorly at challenges (Until the last, in which they only won the right to host a neighbourhood barbeque and had more time to campaign to the others) and were only really used by the others to further their own social games.
  • While there were some lesser chefs throughout Top Chef, only one truly stands out as an Elimination Houdini: Lisa Fernandes from Top Chef: Chicago. So much so that when she made the top three, Richard Blais said, in a Confession Cam, "Congratulations, Lisa. You just won third place."
    • Richard certainly had egg on his face after that considering both he and the judges agreed that his performance in the final round earned him a rather distant third place. Howie from the third season also counts, since he lacked even the most basic teamwork skills, couldn't cook anything but pork, was on the bottom 7 times (despite being eliminated just over halfway through the competition), and outlasting superior competitors like Lia, early favorite Tre, and arguably Sara N.
    • Top Chef: Just Desserts had Danielle who was often on the bottom but made it to the final three. To her credit, her performance improved considerably near the end and she put forth an impressive showing in the finale.
  • Chelsea from Sci-Fi's WCG Ultimate Gamer, despite being completely out of her element (the sole PC gamer on a show full of console games) and really not that great, made the final 6, over the much stronger (yet more argumentative) Dante and Ciji. She did win a number of the "real life" challenges that figured into half the final score for each episode, however. 6th out of 12 seemed about right.
  • Who Wants to Be a Superhero? had Hyperstrike, who, despite being a less-charismatic version of Feedback from the first season, somehow made the final three (in part because Parthenon blew it on a Secret Test of Character).
    • Hyperstrike/Parthenon is testament to how much character matters in reality TV. Although Parthenon performed well in challenges, he had a bland personality. Hyperstrike was an average player, but he played the superhero role to the hilt and impressed the audience (and Stan Lee) with his acrobatic skills.
  • The first televised WWE Diva Search featured Carmella De Cesare, who made it all the way to the final before losing at the very end, thus taking second place overall. She had managed to become so universally hated that it's seriously believed they deliberately fudged the votes and kept her on just so people would keep waiting to see her finally get eliminated (and thus hopefully keep watching.) This is the WWE, after all—totally scripted Face vs. Heel matchups is what they do. Her existence was finally justified when, just before the winner was announced, Trish Stratus took both competitors apart in a Moment of Awesome.
  • WWE's fourth season of NXT had Johnny Curtis, who WON as one of these. A combination of immunity won in the right weeks and the most popular rookie Derrick Bateman being eliminated due to injury in the final three, which led to him being a face in the finals against a heel Brodus Clay (meaning he'd automatically take home the fan poll) led to him winning.
    • After winning, Curtis was immediately kicked back to developmental and later deprived of his prize (as his pro, R-Truth, had turned heel), while Clay was immediately rushed to the main roster. Some time later, Curtis would finally be debuted on the main shows... with several weeks of terrible puns, and when he finally did debut, it was against Mark Henry, who at the time was in his "destroy all my opponents and crush their legs" phase, and was quickly written off TV, and was then sent back to NXT. Not very hard to see who WWE wanted to win.
    • Back in the first season there was David Otunga. Inexperienced in the ring and not incredibly skilled doing mic work, he managed to last all the way to the final two, though not without help, as once WWE flat-out fabricated an excuse to disqualify a contestant from a challenge to guarantee he won, making all the way to the final two over much more talented and popular wrestlers. The biggest reason seemed to be his connections, as he's married to singer-actress Jennifer Hudson, and WWE is always trying to increase its mainstream exposure.
  • WWE Tough Enough
    • The first season had Darryl, a big fat guy who went on and on about how he had the best shot at winning the competition and the wrestling contract because Vince Mc Mahon likes big guys and he's miles ahead of all the other contestants and all. He only got on the show at all due to Executive Meddling on the part of MTV, as the trainers/judges, the other contestants, and the audience all found him loathsome. Mind, the trainers did do something about him, as he was the first one cut from the program... but it still took about 4 weeks to get to that point, as the other contestants were quitting like crazy throughout the season. Watching Al Snow tear him down for an under-his-breath comment, unfavorably comparing his behavior to that of Snow's ten-year-old son, was one of the show's Crowning Moments of Awesome.
    • The 2011 revival made a conscious effort to defy this trope, since Stone Cold was the one given the decision to eliminate people. And in the case of Rima and Ryan, they were eliminated immediately when they were put in the bottom three for the third time.
    • Due to the inclusion of a fan vote and his growing popularity among viewers, the 2015 revival has an interesting case where it's WWE themselves that consider Zamariah "ZZ" Loupe the Elimination Houdini, to the point where it was reported that they were actively attempting to get him voted off. So far, it hasn't worked.
  • The Masked Singer: Season 3 Group A's resident EH was the White Tiger, who despite clearly not being on the same level as his peers, including running out of breath mid-performance in his second episode (with even judge Robin Thicke laying in on him), made it to the final three of his group over Robot (Lil Wayne) and Miss Monster (Chaka Khan), both Grammy winning artists. By episode 3, even he realized he was in out of his depth, by making fun of his status as one in his clue package.
    White Tiger: Look who's still here! Shocked? Me too!
    • Fortunately, the Tiger would run out of luck when he got to the Super 9 round. Up against clearly superior talent, all but one of whom had some singing experience, he would be eliminated and unmasked, revealed to be New England Patriots receiver Rob Gronkowski.
  • This happens occasionally on The Great British Bake Off. The show is judged strictly on a week-by-week basis, meaning that a promising contestant can be eliminated over a middling one if the former has had a bad week. Essentially, a contestant can make it all the way to the finals by simply being the second worst every week.
    • A prototypical example of this might be Stacey from Series 8, who was on the chopping block no less than four times but wound up making the semi-finals. This was enough to make her The Scrappy of the season in the eyes of some viewers, as she was retained at the expense of fan favorites like Yan.
  • For the first 20 seasons of Guy's Grocery Games, the judges voted to eliminate each round and it wasn't uncommon for the chef with the most criticized dish to move on because another chef failed in the "gameplay" aspect (by, for example, forgetting a required ingredient) or making their dish inedible (by, for example, undercooking chicken or failing to clean shrimp) so that it couldn't be judged. After the show returned to the store following the Home Delivery season caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic, they retained the more objective cumulative scoring system from the home show making it much harder for these chefs to win.

    Fan Film 

    Non-reality TV examples 
  • Battle for Dream Island:
    • Snowball in season 1. Despite single-handedly botching up the challenge for his team and getting two thirds of the votes afterwards, Teardrop was eliminated over him due to the new game mechanic taking place.
    • Tennis Ball and Rocky in season 1 as well. They both survived three bottom 2s, the latter even getting the most votes but being chosen to be safe over Golf Ball in the aforementioned mechanic.. They also have overall poor performances due to slowness and lacking arms. However, this is a case of Karma Houdini Warranty for both, with Tennis Ball getting 10th via a contestant vote and a tiebreaker, and Rocky placing 6th in the closest vote ever.
    • Golf Ball and Fries in season 2. Every time Team No-Name is up for elimination, they are always in the bottom 3 with someone else, due to Fries' snarkiness and Golf Ball's bossiness. They both lived long enough to see IDFB though, because that someone else is always eliminated over them.
    • Another Season 2 example: In-Universe, Match was supposed to be eliminated in BFDIA 5a, but Pencil tied a rope to her leg to prevent her elimination, and when FreeSmart formed, put Gelatin on her head to disguise herself… as a Tree. Unsurprisingly, she was later eliminated in BFDIA 5e due to evading elimination.
    • Lollipop in season 4. From the start, the fan hatred was directed towards her, due to her taking major part in Teardrop, Taco and especially Barf Bag abusing. However, her team kept their winning streak long enough for Lollipop to protect Taco, and Book to become the main voting target in the team. This led many fans to accuse JacknJellify of bias towards Lollipop.
  • In Big Brother Sim Edition 2, Pepper. Pepper was almost constantly gunned for merely for being annoying, but she somehow managed to make the final two, mostly because Melissa quit and let her continue in her stead, she lucked out on a Termination Room Twist (Which meant one houseguest had to be eliminated, but they'd win a prize), because she managed to make a deal with Socks, and because Stella disliked Socks more.
  • In the YouTube Shorts-based tournament Boys vs Girls Tournament run by CapEditz219, Ayanokoji of all people became this where, despite his Memetic Loser status in the rest of the channel and the sheer amount of Reality Warpers, The Omnipotents and people with Author Powers, he was still consistently matched up with other humans who are weaker than him. This got to the point where The Koitern was eliminated before Ayanokoji and one person in the comments was listing off all of the people Ayanokoji has defeated thus far. After he was killed by Junko Enoshima, Wheel Force Ayanokoji was turned into an entire different character on the channel as he became a Memetic Badass as opposed to normal Ayanokoji’s Memetic Loser.
  • The Reality Show Tournament Arc of Carole & Tuesday It pairs off the acts against each other in a bracket format, with the judges deciding who wins each rounds. As expected, fans of the show have disagreed with some of the judgment calls:
    • OG Bulldog vs Carole and Tuesday: Our leads notably gave a performance that didn't match the quality people came to expect from them, which the judges took note of. Meanwhile, Bulldog surprised everyone with an impressive fusion of opera and rap. Instead, Bulldog was eliminated, partly because he lied about his tough guy image and was really just a nice guy. Many felt like he gave a stronger performance, and "not being honest about himself" was not a real criticism.
    • GGK vs the Mermaid Sisters: The Sisters were eliminated before they could finish their "song," which was just a series of uncensored expletives. While both acts are fan favorites, the majority of fans preferred the latter for their charismatic stage presence, genuinely impressive acappella performance, and for how insanely catchy their song was. GGK was good, but only moved on because the judges hated the Sisters' song that much.
    • Angela vs Cybelle, Angela vs GGK: While no one thought the leads' rival Angela would lose to minor characters, many people thought she was much weaker than the people sent home. While her voice is impressive, her songs are considered bland and shallow (they're canonically manufactured by soulless AI) and less interesting than the others'. She skates by based the judges' unanimous love for her and her ability to adapt to different styles of music, rather than by pure talent or stage presence. This is especially true when she went up against GGK, who had well-choreographed dances in addition to singing well.
    • It should be noted that of all of the songs above, Carole, Tuesday and Angela all sang pop songs. Pyotr, who won the judges over with a pop song, and GGK is the only performer who won a round without singing a pop song (because her competition was disqualified.) It gives the impression that the judges have a bias towards pop music and eschew the less mainstream performances.
  • Sims Big Brother 5: Pamela was repeatedly put on the block and not evicted. Only when the housemates got to vote near the finals was she finally evicted from the house. She was more or less kept around solely because it seemed like anyone who was up against her on the block was evicted.
  • Unusually for a non-Reality show, Monsters University manages to play this trope in many ways similar to a reality TV show. Oozma Kappa, the Ragtag Band of Misfits who are clearly outclassed by the competition, manage to survive elimination in the first round because a team was caught cheating and got disqualified. While Oozma Kappa gradually gets their act together, they proceed to outplay just one team, eventually finding their way to the finals and still only winning because one member cheats.
  • Lemmy's Land: One of the teams in "Lemmy's Awesome Race" is called Team What consisting of Princess Daisy, already a Scrappy in the Mario fandom, and the King who Took a Level in Dumbass, much like all the other heroes on the site. After the one leg written by Lemmy, every other leg written by another user who completed the submission has them finishing in next-to-last place. They avoid elimination by the skin of their teeth due to instances such as Toad on Team Cream throwing the race and being blasted by Bowser Jr.'s bullet bill blaster just ahead of the eliminated Team Cute. They eventually win it all.
  • Weekly Shonen Jump uses an elimination system similar to those of reality shows: The magazine's readers are given a survey each week and are asked to pick their favorite series. About four times per year, the least popular series are canceled and replaced by new series. Over the course of the magazine's many decades, a few examples have popped up in which a series ranks near the bottom of the pack, only to hover just high enough to avoid cancellation time after time or manage to get by on technicalities:
    • Robot × Laserbeam started off as one of the least popular series and proceeded to find itself at the absolute bottom of the list after that. However, it managed to remain in the magazine for some time due to the volume releases, compilation publications of just one series by itself, demonstrating surprisingly strong sales. Ultimately, though, this series wound up canceled anyway after several months, but still dodged elimination twice in the process, with the series above it in the rankings getting axed.
    • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, of all series, struggled greatly with the surveys for its first few years of existence, having few fans to support it but just enough for there to be two to three series below it to get cut in its place. In an unusual case of this trope, this series stuck around long enough to undergo Growing the Beard and climbed up the rankings to become one of the most successful manga in existence, with a sizable fanbase and stellar reception all around to this day.
    • The king of dodging elimination in the magazine, however, would go to the low-profile Isobe Isobee Monogatari, which found itself as a low achiever, yet rise up on the charts just high enough for something else to get canceled instead, and it would do this again and again for several years—this means that it avoided cancellation literally dozens of times. It was a strange enough case, one whose reasons remain a mystery, that it was recognized by the editors: Knowing Isobe would never actually drop low enough to get canceled when it mattered, the series was eventually removed from the surveys entirely and allowed to continue at the very end of each issue for as long as the author wants.